Horizon:Volume 7C

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Cover Flap[edit]

Kawakami Minoru:

Born on January 3, 1975. From Tokyo. This makes the 18th book in Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. This is now a major work with a combined total of more than 15,000 pages. And next volume, the story will begin to move toward its exciting climax!

Satoyasu:

Born in Yamagata and raised in Tochigi. “I buy caramel popcorn a lot but I like the kind with only a touch of flavor.” They refuse to come out with a fancier version of that like “brown sugar” or “browned”, don’t they?

Installation[edit]

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Niwa Nagahide


Historically, he was the #2 retainer during the Nobunaga era.

Since he also constructed Azuchi Castle, he was very much a domestic affairs type, but he also accomplished a lot during his military service under Nobunaga. He had almost no mistakes in his military career, so he was quite the well-behaved commander.

He received a lot of focus among the retainers, but that was gradually taken away by Shibata, Hashiba, and Akechi. That was mostly due to bad luck, or because the Oda clan’s policies and trends didn’t really work out in his favor. You could say he could do anything, but he let the specialists handle the special cases. He was more what you would call talented than a genius.

But the Oda clan was at war, so while the specialists were always out fighting on the front line, I think they also needed someone like Niwa who could tie everything together and act as the rear guard.

In a way, I think it was Niwa and the other middle management types who supported Hashiba and the others.

Since Nobunaga kept him close by and ordered him to provide assistance or supplies to the other forces, I expect the two of them had a pretty good relationship built up.

Of course, he later died of stomach cancer (probably), so we can only guess at how well he and the other commanders got along. Yes.

Anyway, the difference in power continued to grow since he always took the indoor tasks, but after Nobunaga’s death, he saw the times trending toward Hashiba and supported him. Niwa’s policy was to take good care of the Oda clan, while Hashiba’s policy was to make a retainer out of Oda, so he kept some distance between them.

After Hashiba’s rule began, records say Hashiba was angry with Niwa for not visiting the capital, so Niwa replied by saying “Your rule has brought peace, so I am using this chance to relax and get some rest. And after all the help I gave you, do not demand I visit you.” Hashiba realized how immature he had been and the two of them grew even closer than before.

Hashiba made sure to repay Niwa for supporting him after Nobunaga’s death and for taking his side during the Battle of Shizugatake fought against Shibata.

There was a great difference in position between the two of them by then, but he ultimately made Niwa a daimyo with a territory worth 1.23 million koku. There was probably some self-interest involved in that decision, but it still shows the relationship between Hashiba and Niwa.


In Horizon, I made her a coordinator who can quickly move between nations.

I gave her an animalistic look because (while I’m not Takigawa) I think it’s cute that the name can be read as Niwa or Niu.

And due to the story of a worm or a monster leaving the historical Niwa’s stomach after his suicide, I designed her to fight with a lightning beast residing inside her.

She is generally a good person, but she bases everything on what will benefit the nation she belongs to.

She will make coldhearted decisions and she is a performer who can be very harsh to her enemies.

It gives her some trouble because she is aware of it, but she stands in a position where she can survey all the others.


(Kawakami Minoru)



Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon - Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere - 7C[edit]

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It isn’t hopeless.


Characters[edit]

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Musashi Body Pillow Shop[edit]

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Musashi Body Pillow Shop


Left cloud bubble: This Month’s Recommendation

Right box: Special body pillow cover printed with the Vicereine’s crawling arms

Red text: Welcome to a new fetish!

Green text: The Chancellor loves it!!

White text across body pillow image: Sample

Bottom cloud bubble: An introduction by our customers!!


Asama: When I first saw them right next to the real ones, it scared me because I thought there were four of them now. There needs to be something other than the blush lines to distinguish them from the real thing.

Mitotsudaira: Also, Horizon is buying four of these to use them with the real ones for a gag she calls “Asura Statue Arms”, but how am I even supposed to react to that?



Characters[edit]

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Musashi

  • Aoi Kimi: Toori’s older sister and worshipper of the god of eroticism and dancing. Fundamentally high-tension and selfish in practice.
  • Aoi Toori: Protagonist. Musashi Ariadust Academy’s chancellor and student council president. Mr. Impossible.
  • Asama Tomo: Daughter of the Asama Shrine, Musashi’s main shrine. Childhood friend and overall victim of Toori and Kimi.
  • Azuma: Child of the emperor and a half-god. All his abilities have been sealed and he lives on the Musashi.
  • Adele Balfette: From a vassal family that arrived from France. Glasses girl.
  • Itou Kenji: Cheerful incubus. Nude, bald, and muscular. Known as Itoken.
  • Ohiroshiki Ginji: Gourmet otaku with a Heart-sama style build.
  • Kiyonari Urquiaga: 2nd special duty officer. Flying half-dragon. Hopes to be an inquisitor. Known as Uqui.
  • Shirojiro Bertoni: Treasurer. Young leading member of Musashi’s commerce and industry guild.
  • Tenzou Crossunite: 1st special duty officer. Ninja and errand-runner who always covers his face with his hat.
  • Toussaint Neshinbara: Secretary. Loves history, wants to be an author, and writes doujins.
  • Naomasa: 6th special duty officer. Older sister type who works in the engine division. Smokes and laughs loudly.
  • Nate Mitotsudaira: 5th special duty officer. Member of a knight family and inheritor of the Mito Matsudaira name. Half werewolf.
  • Nenji: Slime with about 3 HP. Manly.
  • Noriki: Laborer boy who supports his family. Clumsy martial artist. Silent and unsociable.
  • Heidi Augesvarer: Treasurer’s aide. Shirojiro’s partner. Has a white fox named Erimaki.
  • Hassan Furubushi: Calpis logo-style Indian. Lives while eating and drinking only curry.
  • Persona-kun: Super macho man with a bucket helmet. Silent, strong, and kindhearted.
  • Horizon Ariadust: Toori’s childhood friend and current ruler of Mikawa. Currently an automaton. Her emotions were taken as parts for the Logismoi Oplo.
  • Honda Futayo: Former Mikawa student. Honda Tadakatsu’s daughter. Uses a strongly old-fashioned speech pattern.
  • Honda Masazumi: Vice president of the student council. Diligent exchange student who arrived from Mikawa the previous year. Has various issues with her family.
  • Marga Naruze: 4th special duty officer. Black-haired six-winged Weiss Hexen. Member of the manga club.
  • Margot Naito: 3rd special duty officer. Blonde-haired six-winged Schwarz Hexen. Always smiling.
  • Miriam Poqou: Girl who stays in her room because she lives in a wheelchair.
  • Mukai Suzu: Blind but always gives it her all. Acts as everyone’s stopper.
  • Tachibana Muneshige: Former Tres España 1st special duty officer. Amore. Currently working to regain his inherited name.
  • Tachibana Gin: Former Tres España 3rd special duty officer. Muneshige’s wife and possessor of cannon-style false arms. Fifty times.
  • Mary Stuart: Half-sister of English Queen Elizabeth. Well-endowed blonde. Living with Tenzou as his future wife. Owner of Ex. Collbrande.
  • Mishina Hiro: Granddaughter of the engine division’s chief. Loves mechanical things. Naomasa’s underclassman. Her name is pronounced Hiro, not Dai.
  • Mishina Shouichi: Mishina Hiro’s father. Taizou’s son-in-law. Head of Kantou IZUMO.
  • Satomi Yoshiyasu: Satomi Academy’s student council president. Small but does not cry. Uses the god of war Righteousness.
  • Ookubo Tadachika/Nagayasu: A rare Far Easterner with a double inherited name. A second year and head of the representative committee. Speaks in a fake-sounding Kansai dialect.
  • Kanou: Ookubo’s maid. An automaton. Head of the public morals committee. A second year.
  • Date Shigezane [Narumi]: Masamune’s cousin. Vice chancellor of the Date clan and uses a mobile shell named Unturning Centipede. Confident elder sister type.
  • Yagyuu Munenori: A 1st year ninja samurai who serves Ookubo. Hunterrrrrrr chaaaaaaaaaaance!

Academy Officials

  • Oriotri Makiko: High-speed battling teacher. Always wears a track suit.
  • Sakai Tadatsugu: Musashi Ariadust Academy’s president. Used to be a very able person but was demoted.
  • “Musashi”: Automaton that supervises the Musashi and overall commander. Her sharp comments are hard to put up with.
  • Yoshinao: King of Musashi who was sent from Hexagone Française. Has a veto right toward the academy and has the authority to manage Musashi.
  • Sanyou Mitsuki: Class 3-Bamboo’s homeroom teacher. Looks up to Oriotorai. Somewhat sensitive and unlucky.

Hexagone Française

  • Louis Exiv: Hexagone Française’s chancellor. Refreshing young man known as the Roi-Soleil. Has divine blood.
  • Mouri Terumoto: Hexagone Française’s student council president. Delinquent type. Destined to be Musashi’s enemy as leader of the Western Army.
  • Henri of the Three Musketeers: Female combat-style automaton. Acts as the leader and as Terumoto’s bodyguard. Uses large remote-controlled swords.
  • Armand of the Three Musketeers: Male combat-style automaton. Uses broad-range gravitational control.
  • Reine de Garou: Turenne. Hexagone Française’s vice chancellor. Mitotsudaira’s mom. All-around giant breasts.
  • Mitotsudaira’s Father: The Reine des Garous’s husband. A victim who is full of happiness and readily cries. Not so much passive as always under attack. 24 days.
  • Bernard: A mercenary commander from M.H.R.R., but an old man who inherited the name of someone who betrayed his home nation as a Protestant and moved from battlefield to battlefield, but is actually a Celestial Dragon and siding with Hexagone Française. It’s complicated.
  • Mouri Sisters: Three automaton sisters who have inherited the names of three of Mouri Terumoto’s uncles.

Houjou

  • Houjou Ujinao: Chancellor and student council vice president of the Houjou Association of Indian States. A demonic long-lived, but has an automaton body.
  • Kotarou: Ninja girl Mouse that accompanies Ujinao. Skilled but gets treated like a child.
  • Houjou Genan: An elderly long-lived. A wise commander who has served Houjou for three generations, but also leads the aerial mobile unit.
  • Houjou Ujiteru: He’s Uji-terrific!

P.A. Oda

  • Niwa Nagahide: #2 of the Six Heavenly Demon Army and Five Great Peaks. A dancer and quick to adapt.

M.H.R.R.

  • Hashiba Toukichirou: M.H.R.R. Vice President and monkey-masked automaton girl. The nervous bomber type.
  • Olimpia: Innocentius’s older and younger stepsister. Current Pope-Chancellor.
  • Matthias: Representative of M.H.R.R.’s Catholics. Student Council President. Younger brother of Chancellor and Emperor Rudolf II. Being a puppet is fun!
  • Maeda Toshiie: Catholic representative. Treasurer. Samurai attendant that has become a ghost and is peacefully spending his days with his wife Matsu.
  • Fukushima Masanori: Under Hashiba’s direct command. Ten Spears #1. Speaks in an old-fashioned way.
  • Katou Kiyomasa: Under Hashiba’s direct command. Ten Spears #2. The busty blonde type and speaks politely.
  • Takenaka Hanbei: Ten Spears #9. Hashiba’s tactician. Carefree long-lived girl. Has also inherited the name of Kuroda Kanbei.
  • Katagiri Katsumoto: Ten Spears #10. An earnest boy who can also negotiate.
  • Katou Yoshiaki: Ten Spears #4. Gold-haired, gold-winged Weiss Hexen. Speaks sharply, but surprisingly tends to act as a mediator.
  • Wakisaka Yasuharu (Angie): Ten Spears #5. Black-haired, black-winged Schwarz Hexen. The carefree type, but she truly is carefree.
  • Hachisuka Koroku: Shouroku. God of war pilot of the Hidamari Genbu. The cool kid of the Ten Spears.
  • Kani Saizou: Extremely high probability of people misreading her name. The energetic aide to the Ten Spears. Fukushima’s underclassman. Nickname: Kanitama.
  • Suzuki Magoichi: Gunner who joined P.A. Oda by betraying the Saika.
  • Kuki Yoshitaka: Leader of P.A. Oda’s iron ship fleet. His job is to oppose the Murakami Navy.
  • Ootani Yoshitsugu: An earnest, hot-blooded, sincere, and honest virus with a strong sense of justice. Liked by cats.
  • Ishida Mitsunari: An earnest but inexperienced data entity who is often troubled. Ten Spears #3.
  • Kasuya Takenori: Ten Spears #8. Black wolf. Close-quarters fighter who defeated Takigawa. Has a chest.
  • Nabeshima Naoshige: Kani’s childhood friend who moved to the Ryuuzouji clan. The big sister type. A mechanical dragon pilot who bosses the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji around.
  • Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji: “The five of us!” “Are the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji!” “There’s five of us!” “But we’re the Four Heavenly Kings!” “Get outta the way!” and so on.
  • Asano Yoshinaga: Kani’s childhood friend and the type to get good grades. Tallllks with a weird intonaaation.
  • Ikeda Terumasa: Kani’s childhood friend and a builder. Is doing a lot of stuff with the Shirasagi Castle.
  • Nagaoka Tadaoki: He’s super scaryyyyyyyyyyyy! His dick’s pitch blaaaaaaaaaaack!
  • Konishi Yukinaga: Koni-tan’s daughter. Negotiator for Hashiba’s Kantou forces and representative of the Bousou Peninsula’s ground unit. A merchant commander. Likes money, but doesn’t produce udon.


Mogami Clan

  • Mogami Yoshiaki: Betrayal-loving daimyo known as the Fox of Ushuu. Shrewd leader who unified frigid Mogami in a single generation.
  • Shakenobe: The Mouse that follows Yoshiaki-sama, mon!

Other Forces

  • Tomoe Gozen: M.H.R.R. Protestant with Luther as a second inherited name. A ghost. Uses a Testamenta Arma and this people with a Testament copy hammer.
  • Christina: Lady Nagaoka. Fully prepared to die. Lives on the north end of Nördlingen.
  • Masaki Tokishige: Satomi’s current representative. A fairly hard worker who serves Hashiba. Uses the god of war called Integrity.


Glossary[edit]

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A[edit]

  • Academy: An educational facility. Used as the center of political and military power. Tend to have many branch schools.
  • Academy Rules: The basic laws upheld between academies. Agreed to by the Testament Union.
  • Age of Dawn: The age before the Testament was established.
  • Amako clan: Former IZUMO land. Destroyed by Mouri and Hexagone Française.
  • Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning: The action taken during the Age of Dawn that led to the creation of the Testament and Harmonic World.
  • Apocalypse: The end of the world. 1648 when the Testament’s history descriptions end.
  • ArchsArt: England’s primary corporation.
  • Ariake: Floating dock for the Musashi provided by Kantou IZUMO.
  • Armada battle: A naval battle fought between England and Tres España. Tres España planned to land on England but their fleet was destroyed.
  • Artificial Apocalypse: A compressed ley line distortion created in England’s Avalon to research the Apocalypse.
  • ATELL: The smallest unit of ether. Used for spells.
  • Avalon: A space created in England to research the artificial Apocalypse.
  • Azuchi Castle: P.A. Oda’s giant aerial warship.

B[edit]

  • Blessings: The amount of ether needed for a human to exist for one hour. 3600 ATELL. Conversion unit for a spell’s ATELL consumption.
  • Bunroku Campaign: Hashiba’s invasion of Korea. The first one.

C[edit]

  • Catholic: The old mainstream version of Tsirhc.
  • Chancellor’s Officers: An organization led by the chancellor which leads the academy and performs work such as defense.
  • Change of Rank: Having one’s clan taken away.
  • Contradiction Allowance: The foundational ability of the world. Allows the simultaneous existence of all sorts of physical laws.

D[edit]

  • Divine States: Former name of the Far East.
  • Divine Weapon: A weapon that, unlike a normal weapon, has a unique ability.
  • Divinely Ordained Prayer Academies: The original academies that existed during the Age of Dawn. More a guiding frontline base than a place of learning.
  • Dragon Line Reactor: A bomb that uses a runaway ley line reactor to destroy a wide area.
  • Dragon Races: The dragons. There are Celestial Dragons which are spirits and Terrestrial Dragons which are beasts and the Celestial Dragons are of a higher level. They dominated during the history recreation of the Germanic invasions, but ultimately lost. They are now scattered across the land.
  • Dunhi: A religion. Focused on reincarnation.

E[edit]

  • Edel Brocken: Magic brand. Location of headquarters unknown.
  • Eisenritter: Primary corporation of M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities.
  • Emperor: A divine individual who is said to control the ley lines using the Imperial Regalia in Kyou. Does not interfere with the world.
  • England: Uses a floating island and does not control any Far Eastern land or Far Eastern daimyo.
  • Ether: Component that makes up contradiction-allowing space.
  • Ether Engine: An engine that uses ether’s space-altering ability. The effect changes based on the internal crest.
  • Ether Fuel: Ether that has been purified into fuel. Used as External Blessings or for ether engines.
  • Ether Reactor: A reactor that extracts and purifies ether from the air. Has a lower output than a ley line reactor, but is relatively safe.
  • Europa: Hexagone Française’s primary corporation.
  • Excalibur: Has a first and second version.
  • External Blessings: Blessings accumulated outside of oneself. Ether fuel is an example.

F[edit]

  • Fan Gang: Qing brand. Durable but a bit rough.
  • Far East: Name of the Divine States after the Harmonic Unification War.
  • Fino Alba: K.P.A. Italian brand. Their use of springs is their selling point.

G[edit]

  • God of War: A giant humanoid machine that people combine with to move.
  • Graduation: No limit for nations other than the Far East. Far Easterners must graduate at 18.
  • Grande y Felicísima Armada: Tres España’s fleet for the Armada battle. Made up of cutting-edge ships.
  • Great Return: When Hashiba returned with all his troops while attacking Mouri during Nobunaga’s assassination. The rushed march covered about 200 km in less than ten days.

H[edit]

  • Harmonic Territory: Locations where the fallen Harmonic World Divine States unified with the real world while breaking apart.
  • Harmonic Unification War: A war between the harmonic world residents and the real world (Divine States) residents after the destruction of the harmonic world. The harmonic world residents won and began a provisional rule over the Divine States.
  • Harmonic World: A former alternate space that copied the Divine States. Preserved through ley line control.
  • Hexagone Française: Mouri clan + France.
  • Hidetsugu Incident: Hidetsugu, Hashiba’s nephew who was going to be left in charge during the next generation, earned Hashiba’s anger and was forced to commit suicide. The reason is unknown, but his concubine Komahime had to commit suicide with him.
  • History Recreation: Recreating the Testament descriptions to maintain the path the world takes.
  • Holy Spells: Tsirhc spells. The Catholics are related to the Testament and holy individuals while the Protestants derive power only from the Testament.
  • H.R.R.M.: Holy Knights Ironworks Guild. Primary corporation of M.H.R.R.’s Catholic principalities.

I[edit]

  • Inherited Name: The name of a historical figure given to an appropriate individual for the history recreation.
  • Internal Blessings: blessings stored within oneself.
  • IZUMO: The Far East’s largest corporation. The headquarters for Far Eastern shrines and the corporation that built the Musashi.

J[edit]

  • Judge/Judgment: Means “understood”. Used by criminals.

K[edit]

  • K.P.A. Italia: Association of Aki States + Union of Italian City States.

L[edit]

  • Laws for the Samurai Clans: Laws established after the Matsudaira clan established the Edo Shogunate. It determined the status of the samurai clans, but it centralized power by declaring a ‘Change of Rank’ if a clan or castle had no heir.
  • Ley Line: The thicker of the pathways through which ether flows.
  • Ley Line Reactor: A reactor that extracts and refines either from ley lines. Can easily cause lay line mutations and destroy everything within several kilometers if they explode. Due to their instability, they are banned by the Tsirhc religion.
  • Logismoi Oplo: Weapons of mass destruction created on the motif of the seven deadly sins.

M[edit]

  • Magic: Folk spells currently under persecution in Europe.
  • M.H.R.R.: Hashiba clan + Holy Roman Empires.
  • Mikawa: Destroyed by the collapse of Lord Motonobu’s ley line reactor.
  • Mito: South of Oushuu and north of Edo. Mitotsudaira’s territory.
  • Mlasi: A later non-Tsirhc religion that also worships the Testament.
  • Mouse: A spirit beast device to act as an intermediary between the Shinto religion and its musicians. Other religions use different names.
  • Musashi: Aerial city ship. The sole independent territory allowed for the Far East.

[First Starboard Ship – Shinagawa/Second Starboard Ship – Tama/Third Starboard Ship – Takao/First Central Ship – Musashino/Back Central Ship – Okutama/First Port Ship – Asakusa/Second Port Ship – Murayama/Third Port Ship – Oume]

  • Musashi Ariadust Academy: The Far East’s representative academy which exists on Okutama of Musashi.
  • Musician: A religion’s worshiper.

N[edit]

  • Novgorod: A large trade city on the western end of Russia. It is a floating city, but became a city of the dead after Ivan IV the Terrible’s purge.

O[edit]

  • Oat: A religion based on China’s sages.
  • Offering: Providing a god with something they will enjoy or Internal Blessings.
  • Official Events: Refers to the ceremonies, exams, etc. that an academy must complete during each term. If these are not completed, the academy may not take part in any external politics.
  • Orei Metallo/Nero: Ore or water containing ether. Can be used as ether fuel.
  • Orthodox: The Orthodox Concerto religion. Sviet Rus’s unique branch of Catholicism.
  • Oushuu: The Tohoku region. The Date clan rules the east and the Mogami clan rules the west.
  • Oushuu Fujiwara (Hiraizumi): A hidden village of the long-lived in southern Oushuu.

P[edit]

  • P.A. Oda: Oda clan + Ottomans.
  • Peace of Westphalia: The peace treaty that ended the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Protestant: A new style of Tsirhc created to escape the corruption of Catholicism and to adjust to the new age.
  • Provisional Council: Group of adults who act as bureaucrats toward Musashi’s student council, chancellor’s officers, and student committees.

Q[edit]

  • Qing-Takeda: Combination of China and the Takeda clan.

R[edit]

  • Religion: Organizations or groups that worship a god or the Testament.

S[edit]

  • San Mercado: Tres Españan brand.
  • Shaja: Used in Mlasi regions and means “understood”. Originally meant “courage”.
  • Shinto: Far Eastern religion. Worships the Far Eastern gods and uses divine music spells.
  • Shirasago Enterprises: IZUMO’s shrine brand.
  • Siege of Otate: Conflict over the succession of the Uesugi clan after Kenshin’s death. Uesugi Kagekatsu and Nagao Kagetora fought and Kagekatsu won.
  • Sign Frame: Spell device needed to use each religion’s basic protection.
  • Song of Passage: Prototype of a fairy tale created in the Far East during the Edo period.
  • Spell: Causing a miracle in a certain space by processing ether.
  • Spirit Spell: Primitive spells used by talking to and borrowing the power of spirits, which are ether with a will of its own.
  • Student Council: The organization that handles an academy’s domestic and foreign affairs.
  • Substitution: Offering something to please a god instead of using Blessings to activate a spell.
  • Sviet Rus: Uesugi clan + Russia.

T[edit]

  • Tes/Testament: Means “understood”.
  • Testament: A history book that provides the history of the earth’s previous age. There are seven pairs and excerpts.
  • Testament Descriptions: History of the earth’s previous age that is automatically updated by the Testament. However, it stopped updating after the description for 1648.
  • Testament Union: An organization meant to lead the history recreation.
  • Testamenta Arma: Weapons that use the ability of the Testaments.
  • Tres España: Oouchi and Ootomo clans + Spain. Currently includes Portugal.
  • Tsirhc: A religion which places the Son of God at the top. Worships the Testament.


World[edit]

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The Story So Far:

I dooon’t really get iiit, but all the fressshmen had to go fight cause of somethiiing called the Kantou Liberrration. That seeeemed fine enough, but then the Musashi forrrces attacked, did some transport shiiip drifting, dodged some stuff with some wonderrrful sister’s dannncing, and finally had the Reine des Garous sniff around until she was vaaaporized which revealed her truuue form that covered a radius of 21km or sooomething. That pushed Kaaani-san and Kasuuuya-senpai back and now the enemy staff officer called Ookubo is going ooon the offensive with her negotiations, Nagaoka was taken awayyy, and it’s all a lot of troubllle. And to top it allll off, I was hit with a Golden Hammer, so am I okaaay?


Divine Chat Screenname List:

  • Azuma: Azuma
  • Asama: Asama Tomo
  • Obscene: Itou Kenji (Itoken)
  • Me: Aoi Toori
  • Gold Mar: Margot Naito
  • Righteousness: Satomi Yoshiyasu
  • Scarred: Mary Stuart
  • Silver Wolf: Nate Mitosudaira
  • Still Got It: Reine des Garous
  • Wise Sister: Aoi Kimi
  • 481: Mishina Shouichi
  • Tachibana Husband: Tachibana Muneshige
  • Tachibana Wife: Tachibana Gin
  • Smoking Girl: Naomasa
  • 10ZO: Tenzou Crossunite
  • Tonbokiri: Honda Futayo
  • Sticky King: Nenji
  • 83: Hassan Furubushi
  • Flat Vassal: Adele Balfette
  • Vice President: Honda Masazumi
  • Bell: Mukai Suzu
  • Hori-ko: Horizon Ariadust
  • Mar-Ga: Marga Naruze
  • Marube-ya: Heidi Augesvarer
  • 847: Mishina Hiro
  • Novice: Toussaint Neshinbara
  • Musashi King: Yoshinao
  • Four Eyes: Shakespeare
  • Worshipper: Ohiroshiki Ginji
  • Laborer: Noriki
  • Unturning: Date Narumi
  • Kagetsuna-kun: Katakura Kojuurou
  • Fang: Oniniwa Tsunamoto
  • Caretaker: Rusu Makikage
  • Taki: Takigawa Ichimasu
  • Great Upperclassmen: Shibata Katsuie
  • O12: Oichi
  • Lily Flower: Sassa Narimasa
  • Omaeda: Maeda Toshiie
  • Fuwaa: Fuwa Mitsuharu
  • Mory: Mori Nagayoshi
  • Nine Tail Girl: Mogami Yosahiaki
  • Shigeko: Honjou Shigenaga
  • KageV: Uesugi Kagekatsu
  • Tomo-no-Bu: Saitou Tomonobu
  • Nagaya-Stable: Ookubo Tadachika
  • CAN: Kanou
  • Llaf: Fukushima Masanori
  • Kiyo-Massive: Katou Kiyomasa
  • □□凸: Katagiri Katsumoto
  • Kuro-Take: Takenaka Hanbei
  • Kimee: Katou Yoshiaki
  • AnG: Wakisaka Yasuharu
  • 6: Hachisuka Koroku
  • An-Ri: Henri
  • Ar-Man: Armand
  • Super Justice: Ootani Yoshitsugu
  • Nari Nari Nari: Ishida Mitsunari
  • Kanitama: Kani Saizou
  • Nine Horns: Kuki Yoshitaka
  • Three Legs: Suzuki Magoichi
  • Black Wolf: Kasuya Takenori
  • Nabe3: Nabeshima Naoshige
  • Asano: Asano Yoshinaga
  • IT: Ikeda Terumasa
  • Okaaa: Nagaoka Tadaoki
  • Koni-ko: Konishi Yukinaga
  • ■――: Yagyuu Munenori
  • Self-Destruct Girl: Christina


Far Eastern Powers: [Same map as before]


Relationships Between the Major Powers: [Same as before]


Musashi’s Plans:

Toori: Sis! Sis! What’s all this about Satomi and Nördlingen!?

Kimi: Heh heh heh. Sato-brother. With the Satomi group, Ookubo is attacking the enemy base while Yoshy and Naomasa battle Konishi and Tokishige. Kuki’s fleet is also taking on the Murakami Navy. We will be taking Nagabuto to Nördlingen while we try to get some sleep again.


Study: Layout of the Kantou Liberation and Nördlingen[edit]

Horizon7C 0018.png

Toori: Sis! Sis! What’s the situation like!? And tell me about where Tomoe Gozen is too!

Kimi: Heh heh heh. Situation brother, the maps will be smaller, but let’s do this all at once. First up: Kantou.


Upper left: Great Edo Ruins

Above 6: Edo Bay

Above 1: Miura Peninsula

Above 4: Bousou Peninsula


1: Terumoto after taking the Miura Peninsula

2: Invasion route of the Mouri fleet and the Yamagata Castle

3: Kuki’s ironclad fleet

4: Satomi Liberation ground forces *Naomasa and Yoshiyasu are currently fighting Tokishige and Konishi respectively

5: Satomi Base

6: The Reine des Garous enjoying another night of docking

7: Withdrawn transport ships carrying Kani and Kasuya


Kimi: Things are approaching the end there. Next up: Nördlingen.


Middle: City of Nördlingen

Bottom left: Hill


1: Tomoe Gozen and Bernard’s anti-imperial Protestant warriors

2: Imperial Catholic warriors

3: Niwa and Mitsunari’s warriors heading to take the Nagaoka Estate and the north

4: Nördlingen South Gate

5: Nördlingen North Gate

6: Nagaoka Estate


Kimi: The main battlefield is on the hill to the south. The south and west is a forest and the north and east is fields. That about sums it up.

Toori: Where are we going to land?

Kimi: We plan to land in front of Nördlingen’s south gate, so between 1 and 2. Then we will cut across the city to reach the Nagaoka Estate.

Toori: So we’ve chosen another forceful route, huh?

Chapter 53: Tall Girl Below the Roof[edit]

Horizon7C 0019.jpg

The ignition point

And the explosive

Should be hidden far apart

Point Allocation (Who are you talking about?)


Nördlingen’s sky was split.

Two great masses and sizes split the circular city’s night sky between east and west.

They were fleets.

The fleet to the west bore the Testament emblem of the Protestants on black ships.

The fleet in the east bore the cross emblem of the Catholics on white and pale blue ships.

The two fleets were facing each other, but their cannons were not open.

Instead…

“They are releasing troops to the surface. When fighting over a single city, a fleet battle will never determine a winner in time. Especially since both sides are M.H.R.R., so their tactics and equipment are almost identical. They would wear each other down almost identically in a fleet battle and it would end that way too. So this will come down to the ground battle. However…”

All of this came from Tomoe Gozen who lifted the brim of her hat to look into the sky. She reached for the teacup on the tray sitting on the bench.

“Is this sake? That could actually harm me in some cases.”

“I am M.H.R.R., so that is German wine. Yes,” replied Christina who was seated next to her.

Hearing that, Tomoe held up the teacup for no real reason.

She glared at it as if she could see right through it.

“I will thank you for not forcing yourself to bring a red.”

Then a maid approached from behind them without making a noise.

That redheaded automaton in glasses got down on her knees, bowed, and pulled out a tray from behind her back.

Tomoe Gozen lifted the corners of her mouth in a smile when she saw the plates lined up on there.

“Pheasant to go with the drink? Are they cooked with salt and green onions? Not bad.”

“Th-thank you very much.”

Christina introduced the maid who placed her fingers on the floor and used them to move back while still bowing.

“This automaton is the name inheritor of Kiyohara Maria who baptized me.” She placed a hand to her mouth and laughed quietly. “Lately, I am completely useless without her around. Yes.”

“A-all of my cooking knowledge comes from you, my lady.”

“Oh?” Tomoe Gozen nodded at Maria’s comment. “But your behavior tells me you were originally built for combat.”

“Testament,” confirmed Maria. “She took me in when I was seeking suicide after failing to protect King Gustav.”


Now this is interesting, thought Tomoe Gozen.

“An automaton’s suicide should only take an instant, so how did you intervene in that, Christina?”

“I did nothing of the sort. When the Chancellor’s divine transmission link suddenly cut out, I simply sent out an emergency notification to let everyone on the battlefield know. Yes.”

“That would have gone around to all of the warriors there, wouldn’t it?”

“Testament,” said Maria. “The king died because he moved out past the front line. That was very similar to what the Testament described and a clever decision by the enemy. However, I was on the front line, and I knew I was in a good position to explain the battlefield situation to my lady here, so I responded to her transmission. And that canceled my suicide. …Ever since, I have worked to tell her all the things that happen to me on a daily basis, but I have determined it is likely my own weakness that has allowed me to view ordinary times as their own kind of battlefield.”

“That is a good decision. The weak tend to survive,” said Tomoe Gozen. And, “The horse, the tengu, and the oni. Do you know what I mean?”

“Yoshinaka, Yoshitsune, and Yoritomo, correct?” answered Christina.

“The stronger they were, the sooner they died,” said Tomoe. “I will not insist on dolls being lower than people, Maria, but be weak.”

After that, she looked up into the sky for a pause in the conversation. She grabbed one of the pheasant skewers behind her, bit the meat from the side, and pulled it off into her mouth.

“Maria, do you have trouble with guns?”

“I-I recently learned so, yes.”

“I see. In that case, there might just be someone even weaker than you.”

Namely…

“Inadome Sukenao. He could not bear to remain on the battlefield and fled. Maria, if you had not inherited that name, that position would be held by a boy who is an even more accurate shot than an automaton.”

“Tomoe Gozen…are you talking about him again?”

“Why do you want to die so badly?”

“Is that how it looks?”

“Testament. You have surrounded yourself with dolls and ghosts.” Tomoe raised her right leg to show the wavering absence of a foot. “The people headed here now are not like this, but you have already made this into a land of the dead.”

“If I am lost, it will unite Europe, the anti-Hashiba forces, and the anti-imperial forces.”

“Do you have any idea how much power you have right now?”

“That is why I must do this. Yes.”

“Explain.”

Tomoe Gozen waited for Christina to continue speaking with that hopeless smile on her face.

Christina took a breath and a sip from her teacup first.

“The people the world tries to forget will kill themselves as if to spite the world for it. And the people who tried to forget them will sidestep all responsibility by lifting that person up as a saint. Yes.”

“But with Joan of Arc, for example, a rescue mission was held.”

“And that is why she is still not considered a saint. People still do not know if it is okay to forget her or not.” Christina’s words fell into the garden. “I am different. Losing me will give the nations a justification for resistance, for collusion, and for trickery. Yes, I am sure to set far more nations in motion with my death than with my life. Yes. So…”

“So?”

“I know you highly recommend Musashi, Tomoe Gozen, but all on my own, I can accomplish what they hope to accomplish.”

“What, you’re interested in that weird ship too?” Tomoe Gozen pushed up the brim of her hat with the tip of the skewer and raised the corners of her mouth. “Then let’s talk about Musashi.”

A small widescreen lernen figur was opened below the raised brim of her hat. She showed it to Christina as she spoke.

“For once, it seems you haven’t heard. …Musashi is coming. From what I’ve heard, they took Nagaoka Tadaoki prisoner and are rushing this way.”

“My, my. But Hashiba and P.A. Oda are prepared to handle that. Yes.”

Christina lifted the tray of pheasant skewers.

Is there something there? wondered Tomoe before seeing a lernen figur on the bottom of it.

She frowned as Christina narrowed her eyes and continued.

“As usual, it seems you have not heard. While their Azuchi aerial warship is leaving Lake Biwa Azuchi, it seems they are also sending Hashiba reinforcements here.”

“If I hadn’t given you this opening, when were you planning to tell me?”

This woman is such a pain, thought Tomoe Gozen while glaring at smiling Christina.

“When the time was right. Yes.”

Christina’s smile remained as she grabbed a skewer through a napkin.

After neatly eating that, she continued.

“When discussing the ignition point and timing, Hashiba’s involvement is just as crucial as Musashi’s.”


Kiyomasa walked down a corridor inside the Azuchi.

She was on her way back from the bath. Hachisuka had filled her in while they bathed, so she understood the situation now. And just as she was reentering the changing room…

Why did I have to remember that dream?

She had felt like she would find Fukushima in the changing room.

She had ended up waiting until Hachisuka was done and then left with her. She was now on the way back to her room after that, but…

“–––––”

She came to a stop and sighed.

She was thinking about Fukushima.

She had seen something strange before getting some light sleep last night. To phrase it delicately…

Fukushima-sama was making a man out of Katagiri-kun.

Their positions had seemed backwards, but that was probably part of the process. Plus, Katagiri-kun has some unique kinks like performing a nude bridge in the bath.

Regardless, she had very much lost her cool, but…

“Well, can you really blame me for that?”

She did not know what was going on between Fukushima and Katagiri or what had happened.

But she found herself hoping she was mistaken and that nothing had actually happened. At any rate, she wanted to believe what she had seen was a lie.

This was a problem.

Why was she so opposed to a relationship between two other people?

Besides, she had been so bothered by it, she had run back to her room and cried.

I’m so stupid.

She could sum it all up as nothing more than Fukushima not looking her way. Why had she cried over that kind of childish jealousy?

And yet…

“Uh…”

It was possible Fukushima had never been looking her way.

It scared her to think she might have been misinterpreting the girl’s easygoing personality. Fukushima may have been standing by her side because that was how she would respond to anyone, while Kiyomasa had mistaken it for something special.

Why…

“Why did I feel like I could look down on her there?”

When she thought back over everything, she started fearing that so much was going to backfire on her. And she hated how she felt the need to hedge things with “perhaps” or “maybe” every single time.

Was her pride really that important?

When she may have only been following Fukushima around and indulging in the girl’s general kindness?

Had she been a nuisance? But if so…

“I’m so embarrassed…”

She pressed her back against the wall and told herself to pull herself together.

She told herself to take a different attitude from now on.

I need to calm down.

There was a side to Fukushima she had been unaware of.

When she thought about it, that was normal.

They did not stay in the same room and they were not together around the clock. Yes, for example, they did not wake up in the same bed, eat breakfast together in their room instead of the dining hall, get dressed and apply some simple makeup together, discuss who would lock the door before they left, and once in the changing room at night, spread their le-

“…!”

Her imagination got a little carried away, so she waved the bucket she was carrying to erase that fantasy from the empty air.

Wh-what am I thinking!?

Besides, why had she skipped straight from leaving in the morning to the changing room at night?

There had to be some important things in between. Yes, important things leading up to-

“N-no, that’s not the point.”

Just as her shoulders drooped, she sensed a shadow.

Eh?

She was inside the Azuchi. There were lights on the corridor ceiling, so nothing should have been able to cast a shadow over her.

But she found herself in a shadow all the same.

What is this?

She recognized the sight in front of her. She did not know why she was seeing this, but she knew what it was.

“Underwear?”’

She was 170cm tall, yet the white crotch of a girl’s summer uniform was right in front of her eyes.

And the thighs in front of her closed in somewhat panicked way.

Were they worried, or embarrassed?

Kiyomasa looked up to see who this was and saw two large forms overhead. She was aware that hers were quite large, but this was even more.

And beyond those, she saw a head with long white hair near the ceiling.

This person in a girl’s uniform was extremely tall. She had to be over 3 meters.


Kiyomasa looked up at this person.

She had to look almost all the way up to the ceiling to do so.

“I-It is an honor to meet you? Um, uh…”

She nodded at the quiet voice she heard.

This tall person was one of their helpers much like Kani.

“You were sent here to support Mitsunari-sama, weren’t you?”

“T-testament! The summons arrived without warning and my mobile shell hasn’t been finetuned yet, but, um, uh, I came to say hello.”

The girl raised her right hand in a European-style salute. But with her head almost at the ceiling, she could not stretch her arm out.

Even so, her elbow was well above Kiyomasa’s head. It almost felt like she was trying to hold her in her arm, so Kiyomasa actually chose to move closer to her. And when she did…

“Um, uh.”

Oh, realized Kiyomasa. She had moved into the blind spot below the girl’s chest.

After a moment of thought, she stepped back from below the girl’s chest. She felt a little guilty for putting distance between them, but…

“Th-thank you very much. The ceiling here is really low, so if you move where I can’t see you, I might hit you when I have to bend my legs.”

Kiyomasa nodded at the honest relief she heard in the girl’s voice.

And she finally looked her directly in the eye.

“Please take care of Mitsunari-sama, Shima Sakon-sama.”


Sakon nodded when she heard her name. Her head hit the ceiling on the way back up, but that was fine.

“I hope I can live up to your expectations. Oh, but.” She asked Kiyomasa a question. “How did you know I was Shima Sakon?”

Kiyomasa responded with a quiet “eh?” and then…

“You look exactly the way you were described to me, Sakon-sama.”

“Do I?” she wondered.

Horizon7C 0033.jpg

Her height was definitely a defining trait. However, there were giants and such in M.H.R.R. who were as tall as her, so…

“But there are a lot of people who look like me, Kiyomasa-sama. I’m glad you didn’t mistake someone else for me.”

Kiyomasa smiled and nodded before speaking up herself.

“Sakon-sama? Um, the Testament says you are older than me, so you should probably avoid calling me Kiyomasa-‘sama’.”

“No, no, no. You see, I’m actually in my third year of middle school.”

“Yes, but…you are actually older than us, aren’t you?”

That was true. She felt a bit of resignation as she decided to say so.

“I am 20 years old…”

That embarrassed her. She could tell she was blushing, but hanging her head would only make it more visible from below. On the other hand, the ceiling was too low to look up.

Oh, I hate this.

She was 20 years old, yet only in her third year of middle school. That might sound like she had been held back for 5 years, but she had actually been late to start her schooling due to special circumstances. Still, she had been expected to earn an inherited name ever since she was a first year and everyone in the class was still very nice and relied on her.

She did not have the schooling, but she was older and had five extra years of knowledge and experience.

When she went shopping with the girls in her class, she would try to stay behind them and it was not easy keeping her steps short enough.

When she spotted a friend, she could not just walk up to them without warning.

Doing so would scare them.

And it pained her when she scared someone.

Starting with an “um” was a form of self-defense. It made her sad that was all she could manage at 20, but the size of her body gave her a loud voice as well. So she preferred to think that keeping her voice low was the considerate side of being 20.

Nevertheless, there was still a five year gap between her and everyone around her. She had to act like a big sister. And for that matter, there was a three year gap with the person in front of her now.

“B-but I can’t just call you ‘Kiyomasa’.”

She had no real rank and Nördlingen was going to be her first battle.

This girl had to understand that, so she placed a hand on her chin and responded.

“Then please call me ‘Senpai’ based on our respective school years. Meanwhile, I will call you ‘Sakon-sama’ based on our ages.”

That was simple enough.

That’s Kiyomasa-sama for you! No, I mean Senpai!”

She corrected herself and then spoke up to agree. But…

“Oh, yes, yes, okay!”

She hated how nervous she sounded. But…

“C-can I really just call you Senpai?”

“That is what Kani-sama and the others call me.”

There was another incredible name.

Kiyomasa was referring to a group of first year high school name inheritors from a region two away from Sakon’s own and the most combat-oriented of them was Kani. She had heard that girl already boasted the impressive result of fighting equally with Chancellor-class opponents in Kantou.

“No, you can’t compare me to someone like that!”

“Don’t worry. You were chosen by Mitsunari-sama. She is very clever when it comes to data, so I doubt she would make a mistake,” said Kiyomasa. “But data alone cannot see someone’s heart.”


Sakon felt herself tense up at those words.

Kiyomasa had hit the bull’s eye.

Sakon knew she was not psychologically cut out for the battlefield. She spent all her time trying not to bother others and she doubted that was going to change anytime soon.

Plus, she had a concern that she was almost certain was true.

“Mitsunari-sama only chose me for my ability.”

But…

“Can I really be useful when that’s all I have?”

Kiyomasa did not hesitate to respond with a smile.

“No one is chosen if they lack the ability.”

“–––––”

That was true of course and Kiyomasa said more as if to explain.

“Becoming a name inheritor generally requires consent from the person in question. Currently, no one in P.A. Oda or M.H.R.R. was forced to inherit their name. So why did you take your name?”

“Oh, um, well, you see.” Sakon placed her right hand on her cheek that never seemed to stop blushing. “A divine mail from Mitsunari-sama arrived at my school via Hashiba-sama’s PR officer. The first time, I thought it was a joke and had my teacher check.”

“And the second time?”

“Testament. Th-the second time, I declined because I wasn’t deserving and the thought of fighting scared me.”

She recalled how she had frantically shaken her head in the faculty room.

It was after school and she had sensed her friends waiting out in the hallway while she refused.

She could not imagine hurting people.

And what if her large body ended up getting in people’s way?

She would always feel guilty and be unable to see herself as their equal.

Besides, that was how it had always been for her.

She would thoughtlessly approach someone and scare them, or children would look up at her and run away even though she had not done anything at all.

Even when she crouched down and reached out, dogs and cats would run away from her.

That was what happened when she was not getting in people’s way.

And after she scared them, they would always apologize.

They did not have to do that.

She had feared receiving that same reaction on a much larger scale, but then her homeroom teacher had spoken to her:

“We are talking about enemies, or people worthy of that title. Your actions would prove the righteousness of our nation and it is all in the name of the history recreation. Can’t you use that as a shield against the fear?”

She had still shaken her head because this was not even an issue of enemy or ally.

“I don’t like it on a more instinctual level.”

The thought of harming or destroying something scared her. Because…

“––––––”

At that point, she focused on the world around her again.

Kiyomasa stood in front of her while directing a smile her way. And she asked a question.

“Yes, fighting is a scary thing, isn’t it? You wonder if isn’t acceptable and allowable for you to damage and destroy things. And this is an emotional response that hits you before you can try to justify it for yourself.”

“T-testament. That’s right. That’s exactly it.”

“In that case,” began Kiyomasa before pausing. And then, “What do you like?”

The answer to that question came as a mental image.

And oddly enough, it was more of a “scene” than a specific “thing”.

She saw herself walking home from school with her friends.

She saw herself seated on the grass in the nature park with the birds and foxes gathering around.

She saw herself shopping while conversing with the store managers she knew fairly well.

And… “There was a third time, wasn’t there?”

Kiyomasa asked a sudden question.

Ah.

The images in her mind were cut off, but she no longer felt as cornered as before. She recalled that third request more through the good memories than the pressure.

“Testament.” She placed a hand on her chest. “Mitsunari-sama visited me herself. Even if she was in a lernen figur.”


Kiyomasa understood what Sakon meant.

That was back when Mitsunari was still in production. And if Mitsunari was capable of making an appearance and speaking, it had to have been within the past few months.

They had learned of Shima Sakon’s name inheritance through a school notice, but…

Mitsunari-sama can be really stubborn.

According to the Testament, Shima Sakon was skilled in both literary and military matters.

He had originally served the Tsutsui clan, but they had not gotten along, quit, and withdrawn from society, claiming he was not meant to live in that era.

It was Mitsunari who had worked to recruit him with great courtesy. After Mitsunari offered to give him half his own salary to show how badly he wanted Sakon, Sakon swore to serve only Mitsunari from then on.

Since Mitsunari was a data entity, her production had taken a very long time. Hashiba had been in charge of that production and finetuning, but her debut had been at the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle the day before.

With a pace that slow, bringing Shima Sakon aboard afterwards would not leave much time for building up combat experience.

That was why Mitsunari had acted in advance.

I thought she was a more nervous and hesitant kind of girl.

Visiting Sakon as soon as her appearance data was complete showed a more decisive side to her.

Calling it a coward’s decisiveness felt rude, so Kiyomasa silently apologized.

And I bet I would have done the same thing, she added.

Plus, a weapon had already been prepared to turn this Shima Sakon into a fierce warrior.

Ishida Mitsunari would lead the Hashiba forces in a later era, so Kiyomasa was curious about the person who would become Mitsunari’s sword and shield.

She was sure to reveal what she could do during the Battle of Nördlingen.

However it turned out, it would work to support Mitsunari’s future.

And Kiyomasa spoke.

“Mitsunari-sama decided to choose a good future for herself, didn’t she?”


Sakon was a little confused about what Kiyomasa meant.

A good future?

She was essentially Mitsunari’s weapon. She was aware Mitsunari was convinced she had some skill even if she was not convinced of it herself, but…

But what about this?

“Were you not aware of that?” asked Kiyomasa.

“Eh? Oh, well, that came as a bit of a surprise is all.”

“But I think Mitsunari-sama expects a lot from you.”

How am I supposed to know if that’s true? But…

The people around Mitsunari-sama must be good people.

They were considerate of Mitsunari and of Sakon as well.

“I’m glad.”

“Hm? For what?”

“Testament. When I greeted Takenaka-sama, she told me I should meet you, but I’m glad I was able to do so. You’ve helped me get over some of my worries.”

“I am glad to hear it. We will be taking the same path from here on, so let’s do our best.”

“Okay,” she said with a bow just before the floor shook below her feet. Kiyomasa looked around, and…

“It seems we will begin gravitational acceleration cruising soon. Sakon-sama, don’t you need to go?”

“Testament. The Azuchi is going to use the force of the gravitational acceleration like a catapult to launch a transport ship from the stern when it swings toward M.H.R.R. I am going to be riding that.”

“Then you should hurry. The Azuchi is going to pass by the Musashi before long, but you will see them on the battlefield instead.”

Sakon was well aware of Musashi. Before inheriting her name, she had seen it in the distance while it engaged in trade and both P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. had been focused on its actions recently.

“What kind of opponent are they?”

She was focused on the same age difference as before as she asked that question, so Kiyomasa smiled and answered.

“A very troublesome one. They are our greatest enemy.”


“Okay, this is going to be a lot of trouble, so hurry up and get some sleep!”

The girls nodded at Masazumi’s voice while seated on their lined-up futons.

They were in the changing room of Suzu’s bathhouse. The large sign frame on the wall displayed the Musashi’s current location and everyone who had returned from Satomi had taken up a spot among the futons.

But one of them was already asleep: Horizon.

By her feet, Adele had made an ice pillow out of a leather bag full of ice and she tilted her head while preparing her futon. She was looking at Horizon who was lying on the floor with her body fully extended and her eyes open.

“Did we just leave the Vicereine behind during all that?”

“No, Toori-kun asked Vice Principal Yoshinao to send some guards, so everything was fine.”

“Hmm,” said Adele after Asama’s explanation and Mitotsudaira’s nod of agreement.

The Chancellor probably asked Asama-san and the 5th Special Duty Officer to make the arrangements.

Okutama: “Judge, we were sent in as guards on Yoshinao-sama’s request. Over.”

That sign frame appeared just as the arms at Horizon’s sides lifted their wrists.

“Really, wouldn’t she be fine with just those arms?” asked Naruze. “They’re pretty good at sneaking and grappling.”

Several sign frames appeared and disappeared around Horizon.

“Is that the Logismoi Oplo initialization?”

“Yes, I have received word of it too,” replied Asama while opening a sign frame.

The display changed again and again as if Hanami were pasting new images onto it, but some of them must have been “hits” because she saved them.

“So how is it?”

“Well, it seems two at once is a pain even for Horizon.”

“A pain?”

When they all responded like that, Hanami turned the sign frame toward them. It showed several blocks with lines connecting them, but…

“Why do I see two lines avoiding everything else and then suddenly making really big connections?”

“To put it simply, it’s something like ‘Oh, what a pain. I might as well do it all at once.’ ”

“Horizon’s OS sounds…k-kind of amazing.”

“Suzu-san, this is more than just ‘kind of’ amazing.” Asama sighed. “But the arms take up some of the OS’s processing power, so it appears they have been temporarily purged to reduce the load. The legs and such double as a pool of fuel, so they will remain attached.” She smiled bitterly. “Now that Horizon is letting me observe what’s going on, I can finally see how it all works. And that includes the Logismoi Oplo part of it. …So how about it?”

She turned toward Masazumi.

“Want to hear about it?”

“How much of our sleep time will this use up? …Keep in mind that I do want to be up during our close encounter with the Azuchi.”

“I had a feeling you would say that, so I prepared some compressed sleep spells.”

“Then let’s hear it.”

“Of course.” Asama nodded and produced a sign frame. “I think the Logismoi Oplo are most likely emotional response weapons.”


Chapter 54: Girls Lying Around in a Group Bedroom[edit]

Horizon7C 0045.jpg

Once the preparations are complete

The fun can begin

Point Allocation (I’ll Make You Look Nice)


Asama chose her words carefully as she explained her view of the Logismoi Oplo.

Because I need to explain this to Horizon later.

This explanation would be her rough draft and the more polished version would be given to Horizon herself. However…

“Their wrists are nodding,” pointed out Naruze.

Sure enough, the two arms were nodding as if telling her to continue. So…

“First, I think the people who are given permission to use the Logismoi Oplo are not people who have those sins themselves but the people who are strong enough to resist and reject them.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Because when they are used, there appears to be an element of synchronization and an element of rejection.” She opened the ether data from when Horizon fired the Logismoi Oplo. “This is probably obvious to someone like Mary who can see emotions, but the people who use the Logismoi Oplo are working to resist the corresponding Deadly Sin when they use them.”

“What does that mean, Asama? If people don’t want to feel sorrow, they can fire the Muneshige Cannon?”

“Yes. When you think about it, that was how it worked when she shot down the Regno Unito and when Muneo-san fired it. They fired it while focused on not wanting things to end there and not wanting everyone to lose if they screwed this up.”

Naruze raised her right hand. “Yes?” asked Asama.

“But it never hits,” she said with a straight face.


In the dark forest, Gin had met up with Ookubo’s unit and Kanou was calling over to her.

“Tachibana Gin-sama, we just received a divine mail from Musashi saying, ‘Don’t let it get to you, Muneo. There’s always tomorrow.’ ”

“Th-they are inventing some kind of story again, aren’t they!?”

“Ha ha ha. Gin, this is fine. And it is very true that there is always tomorrow. They must be telling me to leave the bad things in the past and look forward to a wonderful future with you.”

“Including me will make a ‘wonderful future’ harder to reach, you know?”

“But you are well worth the effort.”

Hearing that, she sighed and let her shoulders droop. I have been sighing a lot more since arriving at Musashi, she realized.

“Lady Kanou, please send a reply saying, ‘Our lives are good enough already.’ ”


“Well, it looks like Tachibana-san is in good mental health at least.”

Asama nodded a few times and Adele hesitantly commented on what she had said.

“I’m pretty sure he has a mind of steel. In fact, it’s probably some high level of Orei Metallo.”

“Heh heh. Given what he had to go through to get his wife, a mistake or two now must be like nothing at all.”

“I see,” said Mary in an impressed tone. “I could learn something from that.”

She placed a hand on her cheek and sighed. And then…

“I get far too worked up when Master Tenzou goes full-cock and feels himself down below.”

“No, that’s 100% warranted!”

When they all responded in unison, she lowered the ends of her eyebrows in a smile.

“Thank you very much. Oh, but…

“Yes? Let’s hear it.”

Naruze readied her pen and Mary placed her hands on her cheeks.

“C-can you keep this just between us?”

“Of course, of course. Just between us.”

They all had to lean forward for this. Blushing Mary shook her chin side to side as she continued.

“Judge. While healing Master Tenzou earlier, I finally managed to get a glimpse of his face. He was wearing the scarf I made for him and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I felt indecent doing that in the middle of healing him.”

Naruze drew a long, twisted line through the air as she nearly collapsed forward.


After Tenzou made up his futon in the boy’s changing room, a sign frame brought him the voices of the girls.

“You lucked out, Tenzou! It really was just luck, though!”

“Is your face actually a scarf?”

“Tenzou-kun, congratulations on reaching more than 8000 threads.”

“Wh-where did all of this come from!?” he protested.

“Hey, Tenzou,” said Toori. “What are you gonna do with your sub-character in GekoDos? Wanna visit the Tokai route where you can gather plenty of materials for big boobs equipment?”

“Judge. I need to be ready if Mary-dono ever expresses an interest!”

He prepared for the game, but also responded to Mary while he was at it.


“He says he looks forward to working with me at Nördlingen.”

Asama thought to herself as she watched Mary sigh and hold the sign frame to her chest.

The Europeans really are open about these things.

Could she do that too? Once she thought about it, she did have all his divine mails automatically routed into a special folder. Was that special treatment? But when she thought about it further, she did the same thing for Kimi and Mito. Oh, and even if Toori-kun’s say “top priority”, that’s because I have to deal with those to minimize the damage. Yes, although this might be another form of lid.

“Tomo! Tomo! What has you so lost in thought!?”

“Oh, um, uh, nothing.”

“Now,” said Asama to continue where she left off. “While the Logismoi Oplo do synchronize with the user on use, the user has more rejection of the Deadly Sin than anything and the Logismoi Oplo is synchronizing with that.”

“Heh heh,” laughed Kimi. “So the Logismoi Oplo is basically saying ‘I get exactly where you’re coming from’?”

“But in that case, isn’t it ironic?” asked Mitotsudaira. “The Logismoi Oplo release their power while realizing how much their user hates them.”

“It really is. And if you think of them as the Nine Deadly Sins…”

She thought for a moment. She was Shinto, but the concept of the Deadly Sins was a Catholic thing.

How much of my opinion am I allowed to give here?

Well, it should be fine, she decided.

Toori-kun already gave Fujiwara Yasuhira some help about this.

And Shinto really is lax about these things, she concluded before continuing.

“Currently, the Logismoi Oplo are powered by their user’s avoidance of their Deadly Sin and they teach the target how fearsome that Deadly Sin is.”


After hearing Asama’s statement, Naruze reached a few conclusions and had a few questions.

How fearsome they are, huh?

“So you’re saying they’re sermon weapons?”

“Yes, that might be a good way of putting it.”

The two arms applauded Naruze and everyone else joined in.

Novice: “I can’t help but ask: doesn’t that make Aspida Phylargia a pretty nasty weapon?”

Four Eyes: “It is no more than finding fault with an author’s work and having them use that as fuel to send twice the criticism back at you. Why do you act like that is such a familiar concept to you?”

Novice: “B-because it’s you! That’s exactly you!”

Four Eyes: “Do not be ridiculous. I don’t need anything to fuel my criticism of you. I could go for days all on my own.”

Novice: “That’s even worse!”

“No,” said Shakespeare.

Four Eyes: “Our leader operates much the same way.”


“Qu-Queen! I-i-i-if you confiscate the nobles’ illegally-acquired manors, they say they will make a scandal out of your drunkenly stabbing Ex. Caliburn into a section of town!”

“Heh. Why is that privileged class filled with such fools? Hey, Jonson, if you have some time, bring your men here. We will use their territory to buy ourselves some drinks! If I stab Excalibur into a piece of land, then the Blade of England has claimed it as mine! Also, keep Musashi’s ninja threads going!”

“Lady!” Jonson asked the Fairy Queen a question while checking how hard the floor was below his feet. “Just out of curiosity, is there any way they can keep their land from being confiscated!?”

She snapped her fingers, a hole opened in the floor below him, and the poet fell.

“Ahhhhhh…”

“The confiscation is unavoidable, so it would be best not to say anything careless, Jonson. Also, keep Musashi’s ninja threads going.”

“Y-Y-Y-Your Majesty, what if they panic and say they ‘submit to the Queen’!?”

“Hah.” The Fairy Queen placed her coat over her shoulders. “Then we confiscate their land as proof of their submission. But those ones will be shifted to the end of the list. Also, keep Musashi’s ninja threads going even then!”

“Te-te-te-testament! We are always keeping those threads going on your orders!”


“Ga-chan, it looks like the Tenzou threads have caught fire again.”

“That happens sometimes. And it’s weird when I haven’t done anything to trigger it.”

Naruze tilted her head while Asama placed a hand on her chin and checked the shrine infrastructure.

“Hmm, there’s a lot of traffic from overseas. It’s coming in through IZUMO, but there’s no reason to restrict it since it’s for the normal divine network.”

She tilted her head with another groan of thought and Mitotsudaira spoke to her.

Silver Wolf: “So I get that Horizon’s Logismoi Oplo are sermon weapons…that is, emotional response weapons, but is there anything we still don’t understand about them?”

“Good question,” said Naruze while spinning her pen in her hand. “They’re emotional response sermon weapons, but even if they do teach people how fearsome the Deadly Sins are, it does that through physical means, right? So…”

She had a question about that.

“Lord Motonobu said collecting them might be able to stop the Apocalypse, but does that mean we’re supposed to conquer the world by force and work with everyone to find a solution?”


Asama raised her right hand to answer Naruze’s question.

“There is one thing we still do not know.”

She turned toward Mitotsudaira. Musashi’s knight seemed to be working on editing the image of her king carrying her so she could use it for her sign frame background, but…

“Mito?”

“Eh!? Um, what is it!?”

Asama sent her a Far Eastern image tool that could add the filters and decorations she wanted, and then…

“Do you and Kimi remember what Horizon said about the Logismoi Oplo before? She said Phtonos was already active.”

“She did, didn’t she?”

“In that case,” said Asama while opening a sign frame. “This graphs the relationship between the Logismoi Oplo’s synchronization and power output. Ever since I was given permission to manage Horizon’s divine transmissions and such, I have been recording everything when she decides to fire one of them out of the blue. Even if they do tend to miss.”

For some reason, everyone silently hung their heads, but she decided not to let it bother her.

She considered contacting the Tachibana Couple since this was their running gag, but they had already said they did not want this. She decided to leave a short pause, and then…

“So like I said before, the Logismoi Oplo generally have a link to Horizon’s thoughts. From a weapon standpoint, Horizon is correct that the installation of each new Logismoi Oplo places it under control of her Phtonos.”

She displayed the word “Phtonos” stretched out over a wide area and then she lined up the other eight Deadly Sin weapons below that.

All of the weapons had lines linking them to Phtonos except for Porneia, Akedia, and Gastrimargia which they did not yet have. That meant five lines. Naito frowned for once when she saw that.

“Does that mean the eight Deadly Sins go under Phtonos which acts as the overall OS and five of them already have control links in place?”

That was mostly it. But, thought Asama.

“Naito, do you remember what I prefaced all this with?”

“Eh? ‘From a weapons standpoint’, right? So…”

Naito trailed off.

Adele gave a “huh?” at that silence and she looked to the others in confusion.

“Is there some connection between how the sermon weapons are controlled and Asama-san’s link diagram there?”

“The Asama Shrine Representative said that link diagram is ‘from a weapons standpoint’.” Narumi spoke up while viewing Asama’s sign frame. “The Logismoi Oplo are the Musashi princess’s emotions. If that diagram shows their links as weapons, then how are things working as emotions?” Narumi narrowed her eyes. “The current Logismoi Oplo must be under Phtonos’s control if the Vicereine can control them. But are you saying things are different from an emotional standpoint?”

Asama directly replied to that series of questions.

“I do not know. Because this is likely something not even Lord Motonobu knew about.”


Eh? thought Adele.

“How could Lord Motonobu not know about it? Didn’t he create the Vicereine’s automaton body and OS?”

The two arms turned their hands toward each other and then tilted their wrists. Adele felt like she was starting to figure out what their expressions meant, but this also seemed like a first in the history of communication. However…

“Narumi is correct that the Logismoi Oplo are currently under Phtonos’s control and they are fired by synchronizing with the emotion of their rejection. More specifically, when they are first connected to Horizon, their emotion is released in what you could call an installation and their stocked-up emotion seems to disappear. That is why Horizon has a stronger emotional link than anyone else, why she can release the limiter and fire them, and why she can use all eight. That is a threat, but who here is still following what I am saying?”

Narumi, Naito, and Naruze immediately raised their hands and the others waved their hands side to side.

“Thanks,” said Asama while raising a hand and jotting down some notes on her sign frame.

I really need to make this part simpler when I explain it to the Vicereine.

Now, then, she thought while tensing her shoulders again.

“So as far as my measurements and observations go, Horizon’s emotions are showing themselves here and there. But…”

She held up the previous sign frame again and tapped once on the back.

That drew something like small dots at a few spots between the eight Deadly Sins and Phtonos.

The particles formed what appeared to be five dotted lines.

“What is that?”

“Well, I am not really sure, but it seems that Horizon’s OS is rewriting the emotional lines connecting with the Logismoi Oplo.”

“Huh?” Adele exchanged a confused glance with the others. “Rewriting them? Um, didn’t you say it’s already controlling them and has an emotional link in place?”

“Yes, which is why I said I am not really sure what this is. But it seems Horizon is changing her connection to the Logismoi Oplo on a subconscious level.”

“Um, and this is something Lord Motonobu didn’t know about?”

Asama nodded.

“I investigated it, but it is clearly a self-made change. This is less the behavior of an OS and more like…”

Someone finished her sentence for her: the 5th Special Duty Officer. She was looking at the sign frame, but…

“Are you saying this is more like a data entity such as a virus?”


Mitotsudaira recalled her battle against Ootani Yoshitsugu.

On that Mouri diplomatic ship, he had managed to break free of the defense program cage placed around him. As a data entity, he was capable of altering himself, but more than that…

“This means Horizon’s OS is a self-modifying program too, doesn’t it?”

“I think so, yes.”

Asama held up her sign frame again. It now displayed the date they were in England and some other scattered dates after that.

“Whenever she receives one of the Logismoi Oplo, she updates herself. I thought this was because the Logismoi Oplo themselves had some updated control data for her, but…”

Those dates were part of a red bar graph. The first one was the longest and they consistently got smaller from there.

“Is that how long each of the Logismoi Oplo updates took?” asked Adele.

Asama nodded, so…

“If each update included that control data, then the updates should either all be the same length or have more of a random scattering, right?”

“I think the installation process for the control and the emotion is growing more efficient within her,” said Asama.

“Wow,” everyone said while looking to Horizon. The arms held themselves out in a “please, it’s nothing really” kind of way.

They can definitely hear this, can’t they? Probably anyway.

“For that matter, the movement of those arms is probably something she learned from those self changes, right?”

Narumi was right about that.

“That is so insanely weird that I think our minds decided to just accept it to preserve our sanity,” said Mitotsudaira. “But that wasn’t something she could do originally, was it?”

“No, it wasn’t. Automatons generally have the ability to learn and that can give them new functions, but…”

Musashi: “I apologize for interrupting, but having your arms move around on their own is not something that can be caused by our learning ability or our acquired knowledge. Over.”

Now they had confirmation from an expert.

Come to think of it, it had briefly become something like an urban legend within Musashi. And also come to think of it…

How did Horizon even think it up in the first place?

She decided to accept it as the impressive mind of their landlady. But…

“Tomo? These new lines are forming here, but what exactly will they do?”

“I don’t know. It seems best to assume they will strengthen the power output, but it could also alter their effects. But if those lines are formed by Horizon’s understanding of her emotions…”

In that case…

“Then I think these lines are formed when Horizon’s emotions desire the power of the Deadly Sin instead of rejecting it.”

Asama stopped speaking there. She must not have been able to even speculate about anything past this.

Mitotsudaira responded with an “I see”, and then…

Me: “Hey, I’ve got a bit of a question. This is during a time out while Tenzou checks on the field during the pouring rain in GekoDos.”

This was from her king.

Silver Wolf: “Um, my king? Isn’t there a high risk of your character being swept downstream if you do that?”

Me: “He said something about being able to gather low-level materials that way. But, um, Horizon had her cruel dad, right?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge, she did.”

To be honest, Mitotsudaira did not have many good feelings concerning Lord Motonobu. She had been provisionally second in line to the Far East, so he had caused her a lot of trouble before and after that incident now known as the Battle of Mikawa.

So she could tell her voice had grown somewhat harsh.

Silver Wolf: “So, my king? What about Lord Motonobu?”

Me: “Judge. He said a lot of bold things about Horizon at Mikawa, right? So I ran over, was temporarily held back, and got soccer-kicked by Seijun.”

Vice President: “Only because I had no other choice at the time. Do you want me to do it again?”

Me: “Not a chance! Also, Noriki got an ahegao after being punched by some middle-aged dude.”

Laborer: “Really? What’d I look like?”

Mitotsudaira’s king sent a funny face over the divine transmission and she used one of her bursts of acceleration to instantly save it to her files. She managed it just before Asama erased it from the divine net.

“Ah,” said Naruze. “All I got was the thumbnail! Did anyone save a full copy!?”

Oh? Naruze, why are you looking at me? I don’t have a copy of that. No, definitely not.

Silver Wolf: “Anyway, my king, Lord Motonobu did indeed say at Mikawa that whoever had the Logismoi Oplo would be able to influence the Apocalypse.”

Me: “Right? In that case, we’re headed in a direction other than ‘influencing’ it.”

She thought about that and then came to a realization.

That’s right.

Silver Wolf: “At the time, it was possible another nation would gather them and that Horizon would be broken apart. So what he said there was based on what another nation would be able to do.”

Me: “Judge. But Horizon’s changes to herself are something that only happen when Horizon survives, joins us, and gathers the Logismoi Oplo for herself. That couldn’t happen with another nation.”

So…

Me: “We’re probably working outside the rules that cruel dad was thinking of back then. I’m sure he also set up these changes she’s making for herself, but he wasn’t thinking of them then.”

“So,” continued Asama.

Asama: “That would mean this, wouldn’t it? Lord Motonobu was thinking of a way the other nations could use the Logismoi Oplo to save the world from the Apocalypse, but we are doing something different from that.”

Everyone fell silent. After a while, Adele spoke up.

“That isn’t a problem, is it? We aren’t headed in some weird direction, are we?”

Everyone looked to the arms and then exchanged a glance.

“W-we’re probably fine!” insisted Mitotsudaira. “We have kept our sanity! And they are generally harmless! Yes, harmless!”

“I feel like I just had a ton more work shoved onto me as Vice President…”

Me: “Really, it’s his fault for using a word as vague as ‘influence’.”

Vice President: “Well, he did call them teaching materials. He probably didn’t expect people to use them in other ways.”

“But,” said a voice. It was Narumi. She sighed before continuing.

Unturning: “What’s wrong with that? I don’t know what is going to happen, but we are working towards stopping the Apocalypse in our own way. This is a good way for the Vicereine to leave her father’s care and become her own person.”

“It’s all so silly,” added Kimi. She placed her chest below her face while she lay on her futon. “First he removes his daughter’s emotions and then he has her do some homework while getting them back? Foolish brother, if you ever do see Lord Motonobu again, kick his ass for me, will you? You can’t manipulate someone, abandon them, and then grade how well they do. Then again,” she said with a bitter smile. “Even if we don’t know how the Logismoi Oplo can stop the Apocalypse, he did tell us to do what we like in order to accomplish that. You can think of it like one big self-study block.”

Novice: “In that case, I would really like to know the logic behind stopping the Apocalypse.”

Without knowing that, Horizon would not know how to modify her power.

“What a pain,” muttered Mitotsudaira without thinking. But, “What’s with you, Masazumi?”

Masazumi was sitting cross-legged with a hand on her chin next to Futayo who was collapsed on her futon while holding Tonbokiri in her arms.

“If we do do something, it would be nice if it could wait until after the Peace of Westphalia. If it happens before then, it would change the meaning of the Logismoi Oplo and the other nations might have their eye on us and try to restrict our actions.” She shrugged. “But I am glad to know about this now instead of having it suddenly come up on the battlefield. This way I can make some preparations and come up with some ideas for dealing with the other nations once this goes public.”

Me: “You’d better thank Asama then.”

“I will, I will,” said Masazumi with a bitter smile. Asama quickly waved her hands side to side. The arms crossed themselves as if impressed by the exchange, but Mitotsudaira started worrying they were growing a little too expressive.

And then…

“We really should get some sleep now, but what is going on at Satomi right now?”


A fierce battle filled the sky above the Uraga Channel.

The booming of artillery, the screams of metal, and the shattering of ether light rang out endlessly. A largescale back and forth was settling into place.

“This is looking like a huge pain.”

Mouri Terumoto crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows while viewing the overall progress from the deck of the Pension Versailles which had landed on the Miura Peninsula’s western slope.

She had a double signe cadre opened in front of her to display a magnified version of everything within 180 degrees of her. A smaller frame for magnification adjustment floated in front of that large curved frame and she operated it with her hands.

“The enemy ground unit on Bousou’s west coast is circling south on the ships they were using as a surface gun emplacement.”

“Testament,” said Mouri-01 via signe cadre. She was roughly combing her sooty hair. “They are likely headed for the southern coast. They want a location where they can withdraw to the eastern noncombat zone but where they can also fire on our fleet if we try to invade from the southern sky.”

“What are they really after?”

“To continue attacking while giving themselves enough of an excuse to claim they ‘intend to withdraw’. But I also think they are placing their base in between so the Satomi ground unit cannot attack them from behind. And more than that…”

“Stalling for time, huh?”

“Testament,” confirmed Mouri-01. “The negotiations prevent the Satomi forces from attacking the aerial fleet from below, but they can pursue the Hashiba ground unit that is making anti-air attacks from the surface. But if they do that, it will take them longer to secure the ground. Meanwhile, the Hashiba forces only have to make a land-to-land artillery attack on the Satomi ground unit past their base. They will be firing blind while on the move, but it should still be enough to stop the Satomi forces. And,” she continued. “While they stall for time, the enemy fleet will likely rearrange itself around the ironclad ships.”

“To what end?”

“Testament,” replied Mouri-01. “I predict the enemy has changed their plan. Before, they intended to protect their surface base and claim the Keichou Campaign is not over until it is conquered, but they now plan to use an ‘interpretation’ to say the Keichou Campaign is not over as long as either the surface base or the aerial fleet remains.”

“They’re including interpretations in their battle strategies? This is why the powerful are such a pain in the ass.”

“Princess? You count as ‘the powerful’ too.”

“I know I’m a huge pain in the ass, so don’t worry about it.”

Terumoto brushed up her bangs.

Wow, it’s getting kind of stiff.

“Princess, there is a comb with a washing spell on the second level of the side table.”

“You do it.”

“You are indeed one of the powerful, Princess.”

Mouri-01 paused with a smile and Terumoto smiled back before speaking.

“So to put it simply, they’ve increased the value of their surface fighters and aerial fighters as independent groups?”

“While the surface fighters can perform anti-air fire, I think they generally viewed them as separate to begin with. In this case, their intent in splitting them up is to delay the end of the battle. …So they can buy enough time for Hashiba to arrive.”

“But a single shot from one of those ironclad ships would be huge deal for us.”

“Testament,” Mouri-01 lightly nodded. “I believe Sir Murakami will do something about that.”


The powerful are shoving another pain-in-the-ass job on me, thought Motoyoshi.

He had already moved in quite close to the enemy.

He was in the sky above the Uraga Channel. The front line was keeping a distance of about 2 kilometers. A single hard hit from the enemy’s cannons could sink one of their ships, but they were close enough to get effective blows in on the enemy ships as well.

Taking back the Miura Peninsula had let them divert some more strength toward defense.

The northern line of transport ships no longer had to worry about the Miura Peninsula to port, so they were focusing their defenses to the front and even sending defense barriers to the other lines of ships.

Of course, they had the greater numbers, but the enemy had the greater specs.

This was far better than last time when it was fishing boats against warships, but the enemy was more numerous this time too.

Honestly.

He had a lot of thoughts about this.

If only we had cannons as nice as Hashiba’s.

Or if they had Belle de Marionnettes with anti-ship combat calculations as good as Musashi’s.

Or if they had powerful warships and aerial Lourd de Marionnettes like Tres España.

He could think of so much they did not have. He had briefly thought they could borrow a lot of that from the other nations, but the negotiations with Hashiba had put an end to that.

“No.”

They were receiving plenty of support and results from the ground to north.

That meant the aerial fleet battle was his job.

He watched the enemy movement.

He already knew what the enemy warships were doing thanks to the observations from the Belle de Marionnettes on the surface.

Kuki was bringing his ships in close together with the ironclad ships in the center.

By taking those three rows of three ships and placing other warships above, below, left, and right of them, Kuki was creating a giant shield in the sky.

He was confident he would not lose while exchanging cannon fire to port, starboard, and dead ahead. That would allow them to fire their barrage across an entire surface, but…

“Kuki Yoshitaka.” Motoyoshi smiled bitterly. “That is the method I showed you last time.”


Kuki smiled bitterly while rearranging his formation.

He knew his opponent would have a similar smile on his lips.

“Murakami Motoyoshi,” he said while viewing the enemy ships on an insha kotob. The ships were approaching their enemy in a straight line. “That is the method I showed you last time, isn’t it?”


On the transport ships heading northeast of Bousou, Kani tied down and opened up the supply cargo on the deck while keeping general tabs on the aerial battle being fought in the southern sky.

And she was not alone in that. Most everyone was monitoring the uncertain ground battle while also watching the fleet battle where everything was coming to a head.

Kani tossed a bag of combat provisions on a deck cart while she thought to herself.

I wonder how it’ll turn out!

These supplies were not meant as comfort after losing a battle. She wanted them to be a celebration for winning a battle.

They had to complete this work in a hurry, so she ejected Sasamura. She used sets of two to pick up all the bags at once and carry them to the cart.

Kasuya was walking by while supporting a large deck container over her shoulder, but she paused and smiled bitterly.

“You’re pretty handy with those spears.”

“Houzouin taught me I can use them like chopsticks!”

After her teacher taught her that, it had taken her two weeks before she could use them like she was eating from a rice bowl. When she had shown her teacher, he had looked shocked. In fact…

“All the teachers were really surprised and started sweating in this weird way!”

“That sounds like something I shouldn’t ask further about.”

But then Kasuya looked at the map of the fleet battle she had open by her face.

And the girl smiled bitterly with a tilt of the head.

“Worrying too much about things out there isn’t going to help. And there is one thing I do know.”

She adjusted the container on her shoulder. It must have been filled with some kind of grain because it made a granular shifting sound and the deck shook as if sinking down.

Everyone looked back their way and Kasuya shrugged.

“Do not worry. I am carrying it along the vertical pillars of the frame.”

Then she looked up into the southern sky.

“There is a clear difference between us and the Mouri forces.”

“Do you mean the number of ships and the level of those ships!?”

“That is a difference, but there is something simpler than that.”

That was…

“The Mouri fleet has no name inheritors supporting them. At most, they have Mogami Yoshiaki on the Yamagata Castle. But we have Suzuki Magoichi and Katou Yoshiaki.”

“Then what’s going to happen!?”

“The enemy should make a tactical play to bring down our fleet. Bringing down that defensive formation built around the ironclad ships will require rapid fleet movement. And…”

And…

“We cannot move our defensive formation, but we will send out our name inheritors at important points and have them crush the enemy attack. Most likely, there will only be the one major attack and defense. But if the enemy fails at that one chance, I doubt they will have the tactics or ships left to defeat us.”


Kuki opened an insha kotob and sent a few different commands.

He had done this several times during this battle. He would describe certain conditions and tell them to act if those conditions were met.

This was the same.

The enemy’s lines of ships were about half the length they had started. Almost all of their ships had taken some damage and he could tell the repairs being made on the Miura Peninsula would be key to the enemy’s strategy.

But there was no point in messing with the Miura Peninsula any longer.

The enemy’s ships were shrinking in quantity. Meanwhile, his ironclad ships were nearly untouched. If they could maintain this defensive formation, victory was all but assured.

His ships also had the higher specs.

In that case…

What could the enemy use to turn this around? he wondered.

“The Yamagata Castle?”

Mogami Yoshiaki was the only name inheritor other than Motoyoshi within the Mouri fleet. The Yamagata Castle remained on the central southern end of the enemy fleet, but it had not joined the wheel formation there.

It had not fired because its very presence applied pressure.

Mogami was the home of Orei Metallo. Its powerful cannons made it more than worthy of its title as the Mogami flagship.

If that ship approached now, he would have to prepare himself for losing two or three ships.

That was why he had sent a command to keep an eye on its movements at all times, but then he realized something.

“The enemy’s lines are intersecting toward the south?”


Nabeshima looked up at the enemy fleet’s movements from the transport ship carrying her mechanical dragon.

That ship was flying south from western Bousou at low altitude. That gave her a front-on view of the enemy’s three lines of ships.

“That’s an odd way to move your fleet.”

When she looked up into the western night sky, she could see all of the enemy’s movements.

It started with the defensive line arranged alongside the Miura Peninsula. It was made up of the transport ships supplied by Musashi and about half of them were slowly joining with the central line to their south.

The transport ships took the positions vacated by the warships of the central line, but they did not swap positions. While the transport ships joined the central line, the central warships also moved south.

“The entire fleet is sliding to the south!”

All three lines were making a large southward swing.

The rearmost ships accelerated around first, making the fleet as a whole move something like a clock hand rotating around the ironclad ships at the center.

The long lines of ships blurred together as they accelerated and began a large drift. And it was all to accomplish one thing.

“They’re trying to swing their entire fleet around behind the ironclad fleet!”


Chapter 55: Agent in the Empty Sky[edit]

Horizon7C 0075.jpg

Reach them, reach them

If your aim can reach them

The enemy’s aim can also reach you

Point Allocation (Be Prepared)


Motoyoshi sent instructions to the fleet.

They had just one thing to do: position the fleet as a single long line and rotate it like the hand of a clock to reach the reverse side of the ironclad fleet to the east.

But with such a large fleet, he could not send individual orders to every single ship, so the movement of the lines of ships had to be broken down into smaller groups and then sent to individual ships from there.

He knew how difficult that would make the command he was giving.

“Cross over into a single line and then rotate all ships around the ironclad ships!”

The ships forming the lines traded places as they began a southward drift.

A single ship could do this right away, but with an entire fleet…

“Do not get out of place! Continue rotating quickly toward the back of the ironclad ships!”

The key to this movement was the lightweight transport ships. They had defense barriers up, so the pressure from the artillery cannon fire was weak and they could focus on piloting.

On the other hand, the warships could make simple sliding movements, but they generally could not move forward or back.

The transport ships moved between them to create a single line, but…

This only works thanks to the excellent braking of Musashi’s transport ships.

Musashi’s transport ships were made to move around those giant ships, so instead of long-distance trade, they were designed more for short and mid-distance trade with the surface or between ships.

That had one important meaning here.

“In order to move between ships in midair, even the large transport ships have excellent stability and balance during tight turns.”

Most of the command ships had called in crew from the Musashi to help pilot.

That may have been why the divine transmission was awfully lively.

“Hey! You! I’m already on course, so just come on in on the right!”

“We’re coming in from the side, so don’t move! You, warship! Move and you’ll hit our barrier!”

“Good girl! Good girl! You’re so cute! You’re just the cutest thing ever, you good, good girl!”

Motoyoshi was not quite sure what that last one was about, but they must have all had their own methods. But…

“Okay!”

“It’s back in your hands now!”

That meant fleet management had been returned to him, so he checked the current situation on the fleet map in front of him.

We really are rotating!

The map showed the Mouri fleet rotating around like the long hand of a clock.

They were moving counterclockwise around Kuki’s defensive formation. The long line of the fleet was tail-sliding in a largescale drift.

There was a slight curve, but they were mostly keeping a straight line.

His flagship was at the very back, so it sped up to pursue the line of ships from the outer edge.

It was a forcible high-speed fleet drift and it was all meant for one purpose.

“To move behind Kuki’s fleet!!”


Kuki saw the enemy fleet’s movement.

Reports from the surface and the ships showed what Murakami was after.

An attack from behind!?

He was going for a surprise attack at this stage.

Getting behind the enemy was a fairly meaningless act in a fleet battle.

In artillery battles, firing from the more numerous cannons on the sides of the ships was more effective than firing from head on.

The back of the starboard side was only the port side.

The cannons on the top of the ships would have to be re-aimed, but the number of cannons on the two sides was generally the same and they could still fire just as many shells toward the enemy.

The ironclad ships were currently showing their starboard side as they fired on the enemy, so even if the enemy did move “behind” them…

Three Legs: “The enemy is only moving in front of our untouched port side! Calm down, everyone!”

Kuki knew she was right.

So he decided this was both a surprise attack and a diversion.

The enemy’s true purpose here is…

“Mogami’s Yamagata Castle!”

The Yamagata Castle was not following the enemy’s drift.


“Well done noticing our movement.”

The sky was aroar with the Mouri fleet’s largescale drift.

Mogami Yoshiaki bent back in her summer uniform while viewing that drift diagonally to her right.

“The real battle begins now.”

The rumble of the sky shook in her ears and she slowly swung her large fan to the left.

“Yamagata Castle…move to the front of the ironclad ships. Position yourself in the western sky.”


The blowing wind grew to a storm at Bousou.

Asano had withdrawn to the eastern side of Bousou, so she experienced the overhead movement as wind.

“The skyyy is twirrrling!”

She was on the border between the beach and the forest. She had a good view of the eastern sky from there, but the forest ceiling obstructed her view to the west.

But even through those trees, she could see the giant compass needle spinning southward.

Herrrrrre they come!

She could hear them.

Waves sprayed from the ocean in what almost sounded like applause. The occasional lower rumbling was the whistling of the wind hitting those many waves.

Then a clear vibration arrived.

The long needle in the sky was not just pushing at the air.

“They’re braaaaking!!”

The ocean launched rain up toward the sky. The water’s surface split open as far as Asano could see.

That rain rushed toward the beach.

Whoaaaa!

The beach’s sand was blasted into the sky.

Asano sensed a sandstorm forming, so she rushed back into the forest to shield herself with the trees, and…

“My spell!”

How much of the coming sand could she store up and thus defend against using her storeroom spell?

But in the moment before the sandstorm arrived, she sent Kuki footage of what she had seen.

The Yamagata Castle was not joining in with the enemy’s largescale drifting. That meant the ship intended to attack the worn-down starboard side of the ironclad ships. In other words, the west.

Meanwhile, Murakami’s Mouri fleet would circle east to fire from there.

They were slowing their drift and they would likely come to a stop at…

Exactly the opposite side from the Yamagata Caaastle!


Kuki did not make any changes to the defensive formation including the ironclad ships.

“Do not move! Simply return fire!”

His map showed the line of enemy ships drifting. It was curious that they were somewhat descending as they went, but they may have intended to establish another stepped line of ships to construct an angle of fire for more of their ships.

Meanwhile, Kuki’s ships did not need to move. The enemy would come to them, so…

“Ironclad fleet, prepare to fire to port!”

Kuki made his decision.

“Prepare defense barriers to starboard!”


“Not much of a gambling man, are you, Kuki Yoshitaka!?”

At the rear of the rotating line of ships, Motoyoshi had his ships descend while he checked on Kuki’s fleet’s response.

He was receiving observation data from the Miura Peninsula to the west. When he combined that with what his fleet could see in the dark…

“You aren’t shaking, huh!?”

His hope for this largescale drift was to wear down Kuki’s fleet on the inside.

Not only would this wear down the armor and ships themselves, but it would wear down the personnel and supplies inside the ships.

The ironclad ships had a symmetrical design with main cannons lined up along the top and sides.

A symmetrical design with that cannon arrangement meant reloading would be done through the center of the ship.

Elevators would be used to bring supplies to each floor and then to either port or starboard.

When they were focused to starboard, the supplies would naturally be focused starboard as well. More personnel would be sent starboard and the rotation would be centered there.

Combat was a fluid thing.

There was no guarantee you would have use of your materials, equipment, and other supplies forever. In most cases, they would be used while setting things up against the enemy or responding to the unexpected.

Motoyoshi had just spun all that around to the opposite side.

So what would happen then?

The personnel focused on the starboard side will have to be redistributed while they reestablish their internal supply line.

But since the port side materials and equipment were untouched, they would not have been “broken in” yet.

Everything was reset in a way that would hinder the exhausted starboard side personnel.

And by keeping the Yamagata Castle in the west, the personnel and supplies could not be fully adjusted.

This rotation’s true value is only seen when the battlefield has reached a stalemate.

He had hoped to break them down, but…

“He’s a tough one!”

Motoyoshi could see Kuki’s decision.

He had given his orders while well aware of the exhausted state within his ships.

“He’s sticking to defense against the Yamagata Castle and focusing his attacks on us!?”


“That’s not very nice,” said Terumoto while placing her hands on the edge of the bow deck.

Kuki’s tactics came from his confidence in the ironclad ships’ abilities.

He trusted them to defend against the powerful Yamagata Castle.

He trusted them to attack the poorly-defended Mouri fleet.

He split attack and defense between port and starboard.

And in so doing…

“The internal flow of personnel becomes a lot simpler, so no one gets confused about what to do.”

“Same with the supplies,” said Mouri-01 via signe cadre. “They only need to send the defensive supplies starboard and the offensive ones port.”

And…

“There will only be a short gap while the initial personnel change posts and they figure out the new flow of supplies, but once that rearrangement is complete, this will be little different from before.”

“Then what are we supposed to do?”

The sky compass was already braking. At this rate, the enemy would simply return fire as before.

“Are we screwed?”

“Do not worry, Princess. Master Murakami will handle this.”

Just as Mouri-01 said that, a color appeared in the eastern sky.

It was red.

The explosive flames were much too large to simply call a fire and they erupted from the Murakami fleet rotating through the eastern sky.

That had to be a warship sinking thanks to a sudden explosion at the rear of the rotating line of ships.


“They were hit!? But Kuki hasn’t started firing yet, has he!?”

Nevertheless, Terumoto saw a warship sinking while its bow tilted downwards. The sky was lit up by the flames enveloping it.

The flaming ship had been thrown from the largescale drifting.

But the timing and location seemed odd.

“It shouldn’t have been in range of the ironclad ships’ cannons yet!”

Plus, it was toward the back of the fleet, so the other ships should have acted as a shield.

This was a sniper attack.

There’s something out there!

Terumoto immediately activated a telescope spell.

For a brief moment, she saw something flash in the southeastern sky. The warship’s explosion had illuminated it.

Is that them!?

Someone was rotating rapidly through the southern sky to pursue the drifting line of ships.

They dodged the anti-air fire from the ships that had noticed and used a burst of mobility to hop upwards.

“Ten Spears #5 – Katou Yoshiaki!”

Terumoto heard a rapid scraping noise from the sky.

That was the sound of a Technohexen accelerating.


I screwed that up!

Yoshiaki clicked her tongue in her heart while using her full body to swing around Weiss Fürstin.

She had failed to snipe the Murakami flagship.

Weiss Fürstin’s anti-ship cannon form was a pretty impressive weapon. That meant she had been forced to follow after them in the southern sky so they would not notice her, but they had been faster than she had expected. She had been following the route Kuki gave her, so she could always use that as an excuse, but…

“I’m not worthy of the Technohexen title if I can’t carry out the job given to me.”

The enemy’s rotation was too quick for warships. And more than that…

The wind from the defense barriers was a real pain to deal with.

Murakami Motoyoshi’s fleet was made up of Mouri’s attack fleet and Musashi’s transport fleet. The Mouri fleet was a mixture of Far Eastern and Catholic ships and some of the ships had joint systems.

But the Musashi transport ships were exclusively Far Eastern.

When those were mixed together, it created an odd feeling for an attacker.

The types of the defense barriers were jumbled together.

The Catholic defense barriers were reflection types.

The Shinto defense barriers were acclimation types.

Both types would shatter when an attack surpassed their limits, but they could also deflect the attack depending on their angle.

The Catholic ones would deflect them straight back in the opposite direction, but the Shinto ones would reduce the attack’s power while letting it slide across their surface before being deflected off the edge.

This was not limited to artillery. The same happened to the wind created by the ships.

Some barriers deflected things sharply and others deflected them shallowly. The mixture of wind speeds caused by that had diverted her sniper shot. It was meant to blow through the bow of Murakami Motoyoshi’s flagship, but it tore into the side of the ship in front of it instead.

She had shot down a warship protecting the flagship, but that was not her goal.

She immediately reassembled Weiss Fürstin and flew.

She had to hurry.

The enemy ships were about to complete their largescale drifting.

They were stopping.

Her target was Murakami Motoyoshi’s flagship that commanded that fleet movement. If she destroyed the command ship, they would lose the coordination for their surprise attack and the fleet would break apart. That would greatly reduce the burden on Kuki’s fleet.

“Also,” she quietly began while exhaling a heated breath into the night air. “Defeating Murakami Motoyoshi plays a role in my history recreation.”


The Testament said Katou Yoshiaki would make a name for herself as one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake and later rise to prominence as one of the Seven Generals. The battles leading up to Sekigahara occurred during the time of the Seven Generals, but…

In my case…

She held Matsuyama Castle as part of the Eastern Army. It was the Western Army’s Murakami Navy who attacked that castle.

The Murakami Navy landed at Matsuyama after taking the castle of Hachisuka’s forces.

But Yoshiaki’s forces noticed them, attacked in the middle of the night, and killed Murakami Motoyoshi in battle.

“This was the perfect chance for a night attack.”

That was not why she had done it, but since this charge toward the enemy fleet matched the Testament so well…

“It feels like a good luck charm. Like I’m guaranteed success.”

She flew toward the enemy fleet. She pushed back the thruster control pedals with the backs of her thighs and closed her six wings as much as possible.

“Weiss Fürstin – high-speed cruising form.”


“Wow.”

The Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji heard that comment while they were determining which parts of the mechanical dragon needed repairs.

“Oh, what is it, my lady!?”

They looked up to see Nabeshima standing on the armor that guarded the cockpit in the dragon’s head.

She was holding a lernen figur up toward the sky. And on the other side…

“The Murakami fleet and…is that Hashiba’s Weiss Hexen!?”

She held her right index finger up toward the sky as if she were pointing at the stars there.

“That’s incredible.”

The trail her finger drew in the sky was following the Technohexen’s flight.

The lights of cannon fire flew through the sky there.

Lights were shined to capture the flying Technohexen and definite lines were drawn out by homing spells.

It was all a counterattack made by the Murakami fleet as they drifted away, but…

“Oh?” said one of the Four Heavenly Kings while looking up at the ether light railing through the sky. “She isn’t running away.”

“She must have her pride as one of the Ten Spears. Everyone loves that pain-in-the-rear concept when they’re young.”

“The Four Heavenly Kings doesn’t need an old geezer like youuuu!!”

“No, we don’t need youuuu!”

After exchanging some blows, a bearded elderly man spoke up.

Nabeshima kept her eyes on the sky where she traced her finger along like a conductor’s baton.

“Really, I want to be as good a lifelong technician as I can be for the lady.”

“Everyone has to decide on a path for themselves. Even the fighters need some other skills to put food on the table once the fighting ends. …Although we’ll need to stop the Apocalypse first.”

“But,” said an elderly man in glasses. “The lady says she wants to fight and…look. The way her finger is moving is a bit much for us. She might have it in her, but we’d never last.”

“Which is why we don’t need youuuuuuuuuuu!”

The second scuffle began, but they were still watching Yoshiaki charge toward the enemy’s counterattack as shown through the sharp lines drawn out by Nabeshima.


Yoshiaki flew rapidly toward the enemy fleet from above center.

The enemy fleet could use the top of their ships for anti-air fire, so this allowed them to utilize their greatest firepower. She knew full well that she was in grave danger here. However…

I want speed for my approach.

She had a single reason for that.

Her craft was currently in high-speed cruising form. She hoped to remake it into high-mobility form to break through the fleet.

But switching forms would take a small amount of time.

She used gravity to eliminate that gap. The difference was slight, but she could maintain her speed better when remaking her craft during a descent than while ascending or flying horizontally.

So she did so.

The enemy had plenty of speed too. These were a powerful nations’ aerial warships after all. Their horizontal drift kicked up some waves and she was hit with the illusion of them moving away from her.

They had noticed her.

The enemy was swinging around with Murakami Motoyoshi’s ship in the back.

They drew a large arc and revealed a single line to her.

It was the long line of their ships.

She would have to pass above or between the dozen or so ships in front of the flagship to reach it.

She tore through the wind and pulled her Weiss Hexen hat low over her eyes as she viewed that image and task.

“Fine then.”

More lines of homing ether light had appeared in the sky to shoot her down. To avoid friendly fire, they appeared to be using stronger guidance and homing spells than normal.

That was fine with her.

She leaned her body forward, opened up the thrusters, and spoke.

“I accept your challenge.”


For just a brief moment, Nabeshima saw a light that looked like a blade piercing the night sky.

It stabbed diagonally down toward the long line of ships.

That was Yoshiaki’s schale besen.

It was a lot like passing a needle through a piece of cloth, but there was no hesitation in that burst of speed.

That Technohexen was up against a massive number of shells, defense barriers, and spells, but instead of dodging them, she broke straight through.

Incredible.

That trajectory was reminiscent of iaido.

Nabeshima doubted anyone in that rotating fleet had been able to track that movement.

That was clear enough from how they continued their anti-air fire despite losing sight of their target. However…

“Wow.”

Yoshiaki had moved down below the enemy fleet and she had already changed form.

Unlike before, her schale besen had its front and rear wings spread out in their adjustable positions.

That would be its high-mobility form, which told Nabeshima why Yoshiaki had forced her way through a moment before.

She needed enough speed to avoid being targeted mid-transformation, and…

“She was practicing how she would plunge deep into the enemy formation now!”

Her schale besen filled with light to take her not just close to the enemy, but in their midst.

She rocketed forward.


Yoshiaki “pierced” them.

Technohexen attacks could be divided into two major categories based on their trajectories: straight-line shots and curving shots which were either controlled or autonomous.

Schwarz Hexen used repulsion acceleration spells, so they primarily used straight-line shots.

Weiss Hexen used guided acceleration spells, so they primarily used curving shots.

Modern Technohexen still used that foundation, but they would also incorporate both methods on top of their specialty or switch between the types as they fought.

Yoshiaki was a Weiss Hexen, but she actually preferred straight-line shots.

She thought of flying as a world of speed where you could not afford to any distractions. So…

“There.”

She understood the general speed of the enemy artillery and spells.

She passed through them.

She dove between the ships, slipped below them, and soared up between the cannon blasts.

She was not dodging them.

She chose a route void of enemy attacks to arrive at her ending point as quickly as possible. Instead of a curving path that tried to follow the most direct path, she took rectangular path of linked inner corners.

She launched her entire body forward and kept her schale besen under control to harness that straight-line stability.

She went full speed. That was not as high as it might be since she was using the high-mobility form, but she could not have used the actual top speed of the high-speed cruising form while among all these densely-packed attacks. She needed the high-mobility form that brought her speed back up as much as possible with each consecutive burst of acceleration.

Her body was already leaning past the grip and her chin was pressed against the broom.

She thought of it like tensing her sides and making herself as skinny as possible.

She closed her wings, and…

“Mach schnell.”

She dove between the enemy artillery and through the gaps in the lines drawn by the homing spells. But more than that…

Toward the surface of the ship!

She flipped around and flew alongside the enemy ship’s starboard side with her back toward it.

The wind from the ship pushed on the broom, causing it to pull in toward her body this time.

“…!”

She made it through.

There was no thrill in flying between the artillery shots. Since the gunners used control spells for assistance, the lines of fire never overlapped.

So if she flew along one line, she was guaranteed safety.

If she did that for a second and third line, she could “thread the needle” with a series of straight lines.

She was in a hurry.

She set her sights on another enemy warship. She flew toward its port side while it rapidly rotated through the world in its high-speed drift.

When flying alongside the ship, the spray from its virtual ocean interfered with the spells keeping her schale besen flying. Instead of a shaking, it was more like the broom gently hopped up as at hit a wave.

That signaled the beginning of her turn.

She broke through the wave and bathed in the ether fragments while swinging Weiss Fürstin around.

She was as close to the side of the ship as she could get without touching it. No, Weiss Fürstin’s tail did in fact bump into the armor.

The ship’s armor was a collection of defense spells, but so was Weiss Fürstin. They repelled each other, so…

“Thanks.”

That gave her some initial speed to work with.

The metallic clang reached her only after Weiss Fürstin was already moving forward. She accelerated it and held it down to move straight ahead. The path she wanted was the one through the gaps in the enemy’s attacks.

The ether lines of homing spells raced after her.

Great speed and many paths pursued her, so if those caught her, a ton of homing shots would hit her. However…

“I can make it.”

Weiss Fürstin accelerated. Weiss Hexen spells were perfect for acceleration, so she pulled away from all those ether lines.

This felt good. She enjoyed her everyday life, but this version of herself and this world here could never be found there.

It was wonderful.

She did not even need to look back because she would have known what was happening even with her eyes closed. That was why she had dived down from above to earn enough time to prepare.

Now she only needed to accelerate.

She chose a direction and rocketed forward.

She was surrounded by motion.

But…

She launched herself and then there was nothing at all around her.

She could not be touched by the enemy’s attacks or hostility. The Technohexen had taken flight during their days of persecution, but Yoshiaki thought there was more to it than having inherited ancient flight technology.

Solitude was a wonderful thing when it was intentionally sought out.

So she tore through the sky.

The sky was clear. The emptiness and chill she felt there were no illusion. That was simply what the night air felt like.

She sent herself forward and swung her legs to control her angle. Then she viewed the proper route once more.

“There it is.”

She could see it.

Murakami Motoyoshi’s flagship was visible through the line of enemy ships.


The enemy was coming.

Motoyoshi could see his historical nemesis soaring through the sky.

So it really is you.

This was his first time seeing her.

But as the inheritor of the name Murakami Motoyoshi, he could never forget the name Katou Yoshiaki.

Technically speaking, she was not the one who would kill him. It was someone under her command.

But they were connected by the fact that he would lose to her forces.

“Let us see.”

He viewed his enemy and raised his right hand.

“What is it I am fighting against here?”

He swung his hand outwards.

“Fire!”


Yoshiaki saw it while she flew rapidly between the ships.

On both sides!?

The warships on either side of her had opened the cannons on their sides.

Of course, firing those would hit the opposite ships, so the control spells would alter the angles and instead use the secondary cannons on top of the deck.

Or so she thought.

Instead, every one of those cannons moved to target her.

That meant they had shut off the control spells.

“You’re willing to suffer friendly fire over this!?”

The subsequent cacophony was all the answer she needed.

Cannons fired from either side of her.


Yoshiaki made no mistake when responding to the twin barrages.

She fearlessly continued her acceleration.

The artillery fire filling the canyon between ships included the cannons atop the decks.

The shells were going to strike each other or the other ships.

And she took action just before any of that happened.

She spread the wings on her back and rose from Weiss Fürstin.

“…!”

She kicked off and took flight.


Motoyoshi saw the collision and his enemy’s decision in the sky out ahead.

Katou Yoshiaki was no longer flying or soaring.

She had slammed her speed into her spread wings.

Are you insane!?

He saw the Technohexen collide with the air. Her wings strained, her hat flew off, and her right main wing twisted outwards from the second joint onwards.

Golden feathers scattered into the night. The homing spells from the fleet behind her pursued and locked onto her, but…

“Did the Technohexen take flight!?”

Her wings were angled upwards, so this collision with the wind would launch her skyward.

She used that to avoid the artillery fire from either side.

And he heard her voice. Or he thought he did.

“Weiss Fürstin.”

As she uttered those words, her outstretched right hand touched something.

It was a collection of white rectangles that rose from below. It was her schale besen.

Just before letting go, she had kicked off of it and jumped up, but she had not simply been using it as a foothold or stepping stone. The kick had sent it downwards, so its tail had dropped down to avoid the artillery fire while it also aimed skyward.

The rest was simple. The schale besen had collided with the same air as she had, so it was launched diagonally up a beat after her.

Then she adjusted her position in the air to catch up to it from behind.

Instead of riding it, she was clinging to or embracing it.

But she used it to fly toward him all the same.

As soon as her gaze was undeniably directed toward him, he gave an order.

“Fire.”

This time, the flagship’s main cannon was fired toward the Technohexen.


Nabeshima saw the Technohexen’s split-second decision in response to the warship’s main cannon.

She used the homing spells. They locked onto the feathers she scattered, so they detonated behind her.

The force of the explosion blasted her forward.

It was a rough evasion.

Is this why she spread her wings and scattered her feathers before!?

The action had enough force to push her away from the flagship’s main cannon. But…

“Eh?”

Nabeshima was confused because Yoshiaki was hit as she performed her flying evasive action.


Yoshiaki had supposedly dodged the attack, but Nabeshima saw and heard an attack hitting her.

However, this was not the attack from Motoyoshi’s flagship. It was from one of the enemy ships she had already passed by.

Motoyoshi’s flagship had not actually fired a shell. It had instead fired…

“A homing spell!?”

That homing designation was sent to one of the previous shells so it was sure to hit the Technohexen even if she took evasive action.

Nabeshima was certain this had stopped Katou Yoshiaki’s charge, but…

“Huh?”

Why? she wondered as she watched the schale besen scattering through the sky.

“Why are the pieces black?”


Motoyoshi looked to the right.

He turned to the eastern sky horizontally right of the empty space the main cannon had fired through.

There were wings there, but not all of them were gold.

“The Schwarz Hexen is here too!?”

The black Technohexen was holding the white one in one arm. The black one was clearly exhausted and out of breath, but…

“–––––”

The white schale besen they both held had transformed. It had functioned as a flight device before, but now it was…

“A cannon!?”


“Angie!?”

Yoshiaki had been prepared for the shell to hit her, but someone had flown in from the side just before it did.

It was Angie.

The girl had readily slammed her own schale besen into the enemy shell and maintained her momentum while snatching up Yoshiaki.

She must have flown all the way here from Europe without stopping for supplies.

Soaring along the wind required the same stamina as a full-body workout. That could be seen from her sweat and the stiffness of her hair.

“Kime-chan.”

She only held Yoshiaki in her right arm while using her left arm to pull in Weiss Fürstin.

“Man, Bitchu Takamatsu Castle was hilarious. I laughed my ass off!”

“Was it?”

That simple response was enough to calm Yoshiaki. She realized how important this sense of peace was as she accepted Weiss Fürstin from Angie and activated its anti-ship cannon form.

All of its acceleration panels were arranged as a cannon barrel measuring over 30m long.

This was a Technohexen cannon.

She readied that while viewing the enemy with Angie.

She sent a fire command to the cannon while letting her body ride the wind. And there was one thing she had to say now.

“I am enjoying myself too.”

She fired her cannon on Motoyoshi’s flagship.


Chapter 56: Sentencer at the Execution Grounds[edit]

Horizon7C 0105.jpg

If the sky is known as the night

Then what do you call us up here?

Point Allocation (Basking In It)


Two explosions blossomed in the sky.

Motoyoshi’s flagship had exploded at the back of the drifting Mouri fleet.

The first explosion came from the engine system being pierced.

The second came from the fuel igniting afterwards.

The second one was larger and it caused the giant ship to swell out from within before rapidly tearing apart and rupturing.

With a loud metallic noise, the flagship broke down the middle.

The spell system controlling and protecting the ship lost power and the armor literally broke apart.

From there, the flagship dropped as a flaming hulk with the roar of air being pushed out of its way.

Two people were watching from above as it dropped out of the drift: a white Technohexen who was catching her breath and dismantling a white cannon and a black Technohexen who was pulling the other close so they could support each other.

The Mouri flagship crashed into the ocean below, slammed flames into the water, and burst apart.

Crushed under its own weight, the ship entirely lost its original shape.


Kuki breathed a deep sigh at Katou Yoshiaki’s success.

Seeing Motoyoshi’s flagship sink did inspire some feelings inside him. In their previous fleet battle, he had destroyed Motoyoshi’s fleet and sent it crashing into the ocean.

I suppose you could call this the same.

Given Yoshiaki’s history recreation, Murakami Motoyoshi would have a hard time returning to the battlefield after this.

Kuki almost felt disappointed at losing such a formidable foe, but he wondered if that was only because he had defeated the man in both their encounters.

“Well done, Yoshiaki-kun.”

“Testament. I couldn’t have done it without Angie showing up. I might have died without her.”

“Focus on the result, Yoshiaki-kun. And Angie-kun, you damaged your schale besen when you arrived, but can you still do the recreation of your loss in the Keichou Campaign?”

“Oh, right! The raft! I’ve gotta make a raft!”

“Can we just line up Weiss Fürstin’s acceleration panels horizontally?” suggested Yoshiaki.

They switch gears quickly, thought Kuki with a bitter smile. But…

“Hm?”

The ironclad ships suddenly shook.

No, the shaking was not the issue. They were taking fire from port instead of from starboard like before.

The enemy Mouri fleet had lost their flagship and thus their chain of command.

If they were firing on the ironclad fleet now…

“We will crush you.”

He then focused on the starboard side.

What would the Yamagata Castle do in the western sky now that Motoyoshi’s flagship had been sunk?

He realized something when he checked visually and with an accurate rangefinder on an insha kotob.

“The Yamagata Castle is…moving away?”


The Yamagata Castle was moving back.

Kuki considered what that could mean while reviewing the actual information he had at his fingertips and before his eyes.

Why would it do that?

He could think of a few different reasons.

The most likely was that they realized a pincer attack was not possible with the Mouri fleet falling apart.

The next most likely was that they were adjusting their distance for the effective range of their main cannon.

Beyond that, it was also possible they were simply being cautious as the ironclad fleet prepared to fire back.

Now, then.

The roars and booms of cannon fire were already sounding in the eastern sky behind him.

The ironclad ship had begun destroying the Mouri fleet that was no more than a doomed remnant at this point.

But, he thought. Is there any other possible reason for the Yamagata Castle to pull back?

“There is.”

He could think of one other possibility.

But he did not think there was any point in accepting it as a reason. Surely it couldn’t be that, right?

“Did they decide attacking us is not worth it because our defeat is already guaranteed?”

That could not possibly be the reason. But…

Three Legs: “Kuki-kun!”

Magoichi’s worried voice reached him.

Three Legs: “The Mouri fleet is charging us from the east!”


“Huh?” said Nabeshima as she viewed the progress in the sky from atop a transport ship rushing eastward at low altitude.

The Mouri fleet continued its largescale drift in the eastern sky, but they were no longer just rotating like the hand of a clock.

They curved like a snake to also charge toward the ironclad ships without losing any momentum.

They scattered waves from their virtual oceans along that curve and they took on a certain form.

“They’re charging in as three lines of ships!”

But those lines were different now.

The lines had been a mix of warships and transport ships before, but now the lines were separated between warship and transport ship. Plus, they now had a row of transport ships on either side.

They had focused their attack power in the central line while increasing their defenses to the sides.

The middle line was sticking out a bit because the other lines could not keep up with its speed, but the overall control of the ships was good enough. Their target was the center of the ironclad fleet.

They charged toward that target with perfect coordination. And Nabeshima realized that, if the drifting lines of ships had divided up their roles once more…

“This charge was always their plan.”

“Isn’t there a ‘but’, my lady?” asked one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji from below. “But how are they so coordinated after losing their commander, right?”

He was exactly right. The enemy was still having their lines split apart and join together.

Their coordination was perfect despite the lack of Motoyoshi as their commander.

“Why is that?”

“You have a commander’s instincts, so it would probably be best to let you know this. In fact, it might be good to let Kuki know as well.”

He explained.

“Even we can pilot this mechanical dragon to an extent without you here.”

In other words…

“Small nations, small forces, and groups tied together by something like a clan will fight using an elite few. In that case, the difference in skill between commander and follower is not all that large. …But that can’t happen for Kuki inside a group as enormous as the Hashiba forces.”

“And this time, Mouri is being assisted by some piloting experts from Musashi.”

In other words…

“The Mouri fleet is commanded by Murakami Motoyoshi. That means his role was to lead the strategy needed to bring everyone to this point. But the actual movements were left up to the elites who could view the big picture. Of course, they can only do that because they were trained so well by the leader of the Murakami Navy: Murakami Motoyoshi himself.”


“They’re finally doing it!”

On the deck of the Pension Versailles, Terumoto grabbed the prow railing with both hands while clenching and grinding her teeth.

“Honestly, I thought you were crazy, Murakami Motoyoshi, but you actually pulled it off.”

The general plan had been put together when they were back in Hexagone Française, adjustments had been made during the Siege of Odawara, and further adjustments had been made after seeing the result of the pre-battle meeting.

Throughout the frequent changes, Murakami Motoyoshi had never uttered a single complaint and constructed an excellent strategy.

However, he had insisted on just one thing:

Some crew from Musashi.

Since they did not have a powerful navy to work with, they had needed to combine meticulous planning with surprise. They had to lie in wait and not let the perfect opportunity slip away, so they had needed the fleet to be managed by elites.

Most likely, Motoyoshi had only agreed to the multiple changes in the plan because he saw his role as a “strategy courier”. With elites who could carry out their individual strategies on their own and who could view the big picture, he could simply tell them which strategy to use and carry them all to the final “opportunity” they needed.

“The Murakami Navy is numerous.”

Terumoto repeated the words she remembered him speaking at the strategy meeting.

“We are the Murakami Navy. Watch as we use our numbers.”

They were numerous, but they were not a powerful navy. They were just the one group.

He was their commander, but he was no more than one of those numbers. “So,” she said with her eyebrows raised.

“We will show you the power of the largest delinquent naval force in Far Eastern history!”



All of the ships participating in the charge responded to Terumoto.

Some did so with “testament” and others did with “judge”.

“Our Musashi group will handle the separation and regrouping of the transport ship lines, so shove all the firing and charging stuff onto Mouri!”

“Don’t say you’re shoving it onto us! But if we’re doing it, we’re doing it right, so try to keep up!”

The ships were pushed nearly to their limits.

After the high-speed drifting, they returned to a straight line for the charge. They were already shifting to the side, but they forcibly tilted against that movement, which rolled them onto their sides or caused a highside from the recoil.

However, each of the ships banked themselves while only every looking ahead, never to the ships behind them or to either side.

“We can still do this!”

“Yeah, I can keep going too!”

They pushed their speed and balance to the limit in order to form a certain trajectory. And…

“We’ll be going on ahead!”

The ship in the lead saw the ironclad fleet up ahead, so they sped up and flew right into the cannon fire coming from those ships.

“We aren’t afraid!” someone yelled.

“Because we are the Murakami Navy!” they all replied. “And we are numerous!”


Magoichi realized she had a single chance to fight back.

She stood on the deck of the top central ironclad ship.

“Yata!”

She prepared Yatagarasu’s large cannon.

She had used this already at the start of the aerial battle and she was going to use it again here. She had already cleaned the weapon and, if she was not going to use it here, when would she?

Of course, artillery fire was already flying from their fleet.

The ironclad ships were firing their main cannons. Those cannons had torn through and destroyed plenty of enemy ships so far, but now…

They’re defending against it!

The enemy’s three lines of ships were different from before. Before, the left and middle lines from her perspective had been made up of warships. The right line had been the defensive transport ships.

Now the left and right lines were the defensive transport ships.

That meant double defense. Those two lines were shorter than before, but this was meant as a short-term battle anyway.

“I appreciate the gamble they are making here.”

But their preparations could use work, she added.

The enemy was low in the sky after leaving their largescale drift. Charging toward the Hashiba fleet from so low gave the Hashiba fleet an advantage.

A diagonal shot from Yatagarasu was enough to blast them head-on.

Yata’s large cannon has a caliber of approximately 30m.

Standard warships were between 300 and 800m long and at least 50m wide. A head-on blast from Yatagarasu’s large cannon could only destroy a single ship at most.

However, it had a range of about a kilometer, even if it did grow weaker the further it traveled.

As long as she hit them from the right angle, she could shoot down two or three warships. That would allow her to completely eliminate their initial charge.

If she bought some time, the Hashiba fleet could manage. Kuki would take command and figure something out. So…

“Peck at and devour them, heavenly messenger.”

She opened a targeting spell in front of her eye and swung both arms.

“Blast them!!”


A large cannon took form diagonally in the night sky behind Magoichi.

The Yatagarasu rifles flying in the sky above had connected their black barrels and expanded the barrel out to the bottom.

The virtual barrel they created was approximately 30m wide and more than 120m long.

Three Garudas standing on the barrel gave three squawks to establish its power.

Then Magoichi removed the bandages she used as an eyepatch. A prosthetic crow’s eye was revealed below.

She was a demoness, but she had adopted the prosthetic eye anyway so she could sync with Yatagarasu.

She raised her right hand toward her enemy and raised her left hand toward her prosthetic eye.

“Go, City Destroyer Yatagarasu! Open the beaks of your three barrels!”


Kani saw a beam of black light fire diagonally down and eastward in the southern sky.

She heard people raising their voices all around her.

This was their second time seeing this during the night’s battle, but that was why their raised voices carried so much expectation.

Kani also saw the result of the attack in the distant sky.

Yatagarasu’s enormous attack had resulted in…

“No damage to the enemy! They dodged it!”

She quickly magnified the nighttime footage on her lernen figur, which made it all too obvious what had happened.

“The Mouri fleet dodged Suzuki-senpai’s attack!!”


Asano looked up into the sky.

She used just her right hand to brush off her sandy clothes as she did so.

“Oh? Ohhh?”

A black pillar of light had stabbed diagonally down into the ocean.

That powerful beam attack had lasted a full seven seconds.

The ocean surface was lifted up like flower petals a few kilometers away where the attack had hit.

Those waves would arrive here before too long.

But she checked on what had happened in the sky first.

The enemy fleet had dodged Magoichi’s counterattack.

They had not escaped to either side. Nor had they moved up or down. They had simply continued on ahead.

“The wheeeel formation!?”

The enemy had not ascended from their low position. They had only temporarily risen up like a snake rearing its head in order to construct a wheel formation toward the center column of the ironclad fleet.

The black crow’s attack had passed through the center of that wheel.

Asano realized something when she thought back to all the enemy fleet’s actions since the start of the battle.

“Three liiines of ships, swaaapping out, moving up and dowwwn, and the wheeeel formation.”

Everything they had used for their initial delaying tactics had been used to construct this final charge.

In that case, she thought.

“Murakami Motoyoooshi was making the final adjuuustments for this moooment.”

Just as she said that, a new result was added to the sky.

At the center of the grid formation that ruled the night sky, the central ironclad ship had its armor panels destroyed by a close-range attack from the wheel formation.

“Wowww.”

The ironclad ship exploded while only taking out a single ship from the wheel formation.

That was the Mouri fleet’s first win.


“Ohh, they did it. Did you see that, Shakenobe?”

“I did, mon! It is all thanks to you, mon!”

“I did nothing at all.”

“The enemy cannot run away because you have positioned yourself behind them, mon!”

Atop the Yamagata Castle’s bridge, Mogami Yoshiaki smiled at Shakenobe while he shouted too loudly to be drowned out in the night sky.

“I always end up with a positive outlook with you around, Shakenobe.”

“But are you not going to fire, mon?”

“I will be forced to if Kuki’s fleet falls back this way, but…for the time being, we can let Mouri have all the fun. Handing the credit to them is sure to come in handy down the road,” she said. “Also, Murakami Motoyoshi’s strategic planning is finally bearing fruit. Watching scenes like this is one of the best parts of the battlefield.”

“What do you mean, mon!?”

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t, mon!” shouted the Mouse.

“Good boy,” she nodded.

“I will bring you some sake, mon!”

“It is a little early for that.”

“Then I will bring it later, mon!”

“That sounds nice,” she said before looking out ahead into the sky.

The Mouri fleet was challenging the ironclad ships by moving in unbelievably close.

There could not have been more than 30m between them and the Mouri fleet was using a wheel formation at that close range.

“Generally, warships have cannons on the top and sides. And most of those will be the ones sticking out from the openings on the sides. That is especially true for galleys like Hashiba’s ironclad ships.”

But…

“What if you move in real close?”

“You would be right next to them, mon!”

“Look,” said Yoshiaki while holding Shakenobe between her two fans. She lifted his face up in front of her right eye. “Shakenobe? You can see my right eye, can you not? But can you see my left eye?”

“I cannot, mon!”

“The same thing is happening to the ironclad ships.” She released him into the air. “The openings for the cannons on the sides are only large enough for that single cannon. They are kept small for defense purposes, but the cannons cannot aim to the blind spots on either side, can they? Now, at mid-range or longer, those cannons can get an angle of fire and focus all their shells on the enemy.”

However…

“At extreme close-range, they can only use two or three of the cannons along a horizontal line.”

That was what Murakami Motoyoshi had taken advantage of.

The wheel formation is very difficult to defend against.

“During the Armada Battle, not even Musashi could defend against it without their automatons calculating out the rotation timing, right? And at close-range, it is difficult to even observe their movements.”

Of course, the wheel formation required a lot of training on the attacker’s part. Getting the timing of the attacks right was hard enough, but having each ship target the same spot was even more difficult.

The strength of the Murakami Navy’s unity had made that possible here.

“The ironclad ships are using inexperienced rookies and only some of their ships can use their cannons. Also, Kuki decided to destroy the Mouri fleet with their cannons, so he placed all their defense barriers toward our Mogami forces. That means they will have very few barriers open on the port side facing the Mouri fleet.”

As a result…

“This is the completion of Murakami Motoyoshi’s strategy. Hashiba’s aerial forces are greatly feared, yet he has pulled off the seemingly impossible task of defeating those ironclad ships with no name inheritors and with only a few lines of weak ships.”

Most likely…

“This is the task Hexagone Française’s previous generation left for the current generation. So let us sit back and watch.”

A container was placed in her hand as she pointed to the eastern sky.

Shakenobe had brought her some sake.

“How about it, mon!?”

“I always get ahead of myself with you around, Shakenobe. The battle has not been won yet. But…”

She narrowed her eyes toward the exchange of artillery fire visible in the sky out ahead.

The occasional burning metal scraps flew this way like stray shells and those embers decorated the Yamagata Castle.

“Do not fall back, Kuki. If you do, the fox behind you shall burn you to the ground. Stay where you are and let your Hashiba forces collapse without my Mogami forces needing to lift a finger.”

She spoke without a smile as she watched a second ship sink.

“Tonight, you shall taste defeat, Hashiba.”


Chapter 57: Duelers in Reserve Space[edit]

Horizon7C 0123.jpg

If you ask

What is necessary

I will answer by

Moving the counter

Point Allocation (Money)


A giant fireball appeared in the sky and dropped down.

The gaze looking up at it was high up and moving fast.

It belonged to a god of war.

Satomi Yoshiyasu’s Righteousness was being pursued by Konishi Yukinaga’s Filial Piety.

“That could not have been fun for Kuki-kun,” said Konishi before looking down again.

She pursued her enemy through the forest. She made minute adjustments to the flight devices to pursue the opponent who was waiting for an opening.

But she would not pursue her too far. If she left their base unguarded, the Satomi Liberation’s ground forces would attack.

“Honestly.” She smiled bitterly on Filial Piety’s shoulder. “War is a real pain in the rear.”

“Judge. It certainly is that,” replied Righteousness from the dark forest. “I used to be dying to accomplish some great feat, but now I just want it to end as quickly as possible.”

“That’s the opposite of me,” replied Konishi to establish their respective positions. “I want this to drag on until Hashiba-kun arrives.”

“I know. But that’s why I don’t want this particular battle to end as quickly as possible,” said Righteousness. “This is a battle to take back what was taken. This battle should never have had to happen in the first place, so I simply feel no reason to drag it out.”


Konishi used Filial Piety’s arms to deflect the short swords Righteousness thrust her way.

The arms had their outer shell strengthened so they could be used as a shield or a striking weapon.

And she had one other trick prepared.

“Arrow of Sebastian!”

Bows appeared from the sides of the shields. They stuck out of the shields from about halfway up, so they looked something like crossbows and there were four on each side.

Konishi pulled back Filial Piety’s arms so the artificial muscles and motors pulled the forearms back along the slide rail in the elbow to cock them. The bows pulled their spell strings taut within the shields and locked them in place.

Then the bowstrings were released.

With four on each side, a total of eight swooshing sounds sliced the air along with the loosed arrows.

The 7m arrows were made of ether and they were launched from atop Filial Piety’s arms.

Those arms were aimed at Righteousness.

The glowing arrows were loosed at close range and they flew toward the other god of war the instant they were created.

Meanwhile, Righteousness had just had its arms deflected along with the short swords, so it could not immediately intercept this attack.

“…”

Instead, it flapped its flight devices down and forward to fall back.

The arrows pursued while audibly slicing through the air. They corrected their course to match the extra distance to Righteousness and maintained a collision course.

They were going to hit, but that was when Righteousness did something else.

It swung its body side to side while falling back to use the trees as cover.

That high speed slalom did not bother dodging the leafy branches.

The green summer leaves acted as dark cover at night.

But the arrows pierced through and blew them away.

Out of the eight penetrating arrows, five had their course changed as they shattered a tree.

The remaining three continued toward Righteousness, but…

“I can see them.”

The holes pierced through the scattered leaves accurately revealed the arrows’ paths.

Righteousness made a counterattack with her short swords to take out two of the arrows. As for the last one…

“…!”

She moved forward. By getting closer, her speed surpassed the arrow’s mobility and she dodged it.

The glowing arrow could not turn tightly enough and instead stabbed into a tree behind the god of war. Righteousness left that sound behind while moving straight forward.

It instantly moved in toward Filial Piety.

“Not bad, Satomi Student Council President!”

Konishi launched two arrows, but not at Righteousness. If she missed at this close range, she would be wide open to attack. And she had not had enough time since the previous arrows to prepare a homing divine protection for the arrows.

So she launched them down.

She smashed the crust with twin diagonal blasts. Rocks flew, their footing collapsed, and the trees shook wildly. Righteousness had to immediately apply attitude control against the shockwave of the arrows’ impact.

Filial Piety took that moment to fall back.

The wind swept out from between them, and…

“–––––”

The two of them charged forward and clashed.


Konishi had Filial Piety deflect Righteousness’s short swords.

Her battle funding counter was falling in the lernen figur in the upper right of her vision, but she still had plenty to spare. She could easily reach dawn while fighting like this.

And Hashiba would arrive with the dawn.

“That’s right.”

The eastern sky was already starting to change color.

It had been pure darkness before, but the dark blue was growing stronger.

The pitch black was being swept away and replaced by a gradient that grew darker from east to west.

Time was passing and that was a good thing for her side.

It means Hashiba-kun’s arrival is drawing closer!

The Keichou Campaign had been like a bad dream, but she would wake from that nightmare come morning. In the morning, Hashiba and the others on the Azuchi Castle would arrive in Kantou and solve everything.

Of course, she would prefer to settle this before that happened, so…

“I’m not about to stop!”

She launched more arrows and a thought came to mind.

I want to show off, don’t I?

She wanted to win as much as possible.

According to the Testament, she would side with the Western Army at Sekigahara and be executed after losing. She would fight for Mitsunari on the pro-Hashiba side and that was the end of it.

The history recreation could change the order of things by completing things early or putting them off until later, but with the standard order, her ending at Sekigahara was next up after the Keichou Campaign.

If she was going to win, this was her last chance.

“I want to win.”

She launched arrows with spells added on.

She used fire and incendiary spells. They were meant for use in attacking warships or burning down residential areas, but…

“I will win this with my money. Fire, Sebastian!”

She launched the fire arrows toward Righteousness at close range.


Yoshiyasu accurately dealt with Konishi’s attack.

She fell back to buy herself enough time and distance before they hit, she dodged as much as she could dodge, and she cut down the rest. However…

Fire!?

Incendiary spells would burn the target whether it was flammable or not. The degree depended on the level of the spell, but someone at Konishi’s level was probably using ones that could burn ice.

However, incendiary spells were usually used en masse. The point was for the fire to spread as far as possible, so they were generally scattered over a wide area to engulf the battlefield in flames.

But Konishi was different. She launched 16 fire arrows in quick succession. They appeared to be pursuing Yoshiyasu, but…

“A barrier!?”

They landed in a large circle around her and set the trees there ablaze.

Of course, those fires were caused by the incendiary spells. The 16 campfires burned at a radius of 200m, but they did not spread to their surroundings and simply shined a crimson light on the battlefield.

This light revealed something.

Oh, no.

It revealed Righteousness’s position in the forest.

“How about that?”

She heard a voice.

“Dodging and hiding behind cover isn’t much use anymore, is it? At the very least, dodging arrows with powerful kinetic homing isn’t going to be easy from now on.”

This was like a 200m radius cage.

Yoshiyasu wished she could shift the battlefield to someplace outside it. This opponent was formidable enough to warrant it.

But if she did not defeat this enemy, the dawn would come. She had to go on the offensive, so…

What does it matter?

The enemy had created a stage for the battle and placed her inside it.

Even though she could have continued running away in the hopes of running out the clock.

Of course, if she did that, we would only have to crush their base and declare victory.

Both sides had some troublesome facts to deal with here.

That meant one thing about their confrontation here:

“It is unavoidable.”

Yoshiyasu threw herself forward.

She opened the flight devices on her back and moved to slam her right shoulder into Filial Piety.


Ookubo saw the distant ring of fire illuminating south Bousou like a bonfire.

The intense battle between the large wheel formation and the ironclad fleet continued in the night sky overhead. The amount of sparks and armor fragments falling from the sky increased the further south they went, but Ookubo was more focused on the eastern slope’s ring of fire.

“That merchant keeps causing trouble. Doing that prevents us from deploying our ground unit in that area or in a parallel line along the slope.”

“Yes, the shadows would give away their location, milady. We should alter the formation and path of the unit using the central route. And we should move further forward.”

Kanou started forward, but someone stood out in front of her.

It was Yagyuu Munenori. He viewed the bright fire visible through the forest ahead.

“I will move out ahead, milady and Kanou-sama.”

“Are you sure? You can leave this to Kanou-kun if you are feeling tired.”

“The Tachibana Couple has already gone ahead, so I will do the same.”

He sure hates to lose, thought Ookubo with a bitter smile. And…

“How is the enemy base, Kanou-kun?”

“You can see that for yourself.” Kanou tapped Yagyuu’s shoulder to send him off and then pointed south. “The fishing port turned wartime city 5km from here was being used as a Satomi base and is now being used as the enemy base.”

There was a wall of light in that direction.

“That is a city defense barrier, but it is an open-top model.”

“It is on the coast and the forest-side border is also rather complex. They likely decided a hemispherical defense barrier could not cover it and would be wasteful. The protection of the ironclad ships overhead probably played a role as well.”

“Could we get in from above?”

“Jizuri Suzaku and Righteousness could. I have determined it would be best to have the ships fighting overhead drop us down.”

“That isn’t happening,” sighed Ookubo. And, “Can we get through the wall on the ground?”

“We could manage if a god of war cannon or Tachibana Gin-sama’s Cuatro Cruz broke through an 8m square hole with a close-range shot.”

Kanou displayed a diagram with a few possible destruction points indicated. There were 7 in all, but…

“Yagyuu-sama’s report says they are already building wooden walls and towers inside.”

“Yes, I suppose they would do that.”

A rumble of destruction sounded in the sky overhead. One of the ironclad ships and two of the Mouri warships had been destroyed.

“Ohh.”

It looked to Ookubo like they were falling her way, but…

“They are actually falling toward the Uraga Channel and the western beach, aren’t they?”

The three ships continued to fall while creating a roar of crushed wind and the continuing rumble of armor panels being stripped away. Something detonated inside them a few times and they could see the crew jumping overboard using descent spells.

Ookubo saw a few spell sign frames open in the sky and where the crew landed below.

“Kanou-kun, move the western unit forward. And have them hurry. Instead of sticking them between the three crashing ships and the enemy base, have them wait in front of there until the enemy tries to regroup with their base. Then have them follow these orders.”

Kanou’s eyebrows moved when she accepted the sign frame with those orders written on it.

“Milady, do you enjoy coming up with these strategies that might as well be gambles?”

“Calm down.” Ookubo waved her right hand dismissively. And, “We have no time, so we need to do whatever we can.”


The entire Satomi Liberation force had begun to advance.

Naomasa saw the report from Kanou out of the corner of her eye as she moved Jizuri Suzaku.

They’ve started the actual attack on the base, haven’t they!?

She had Suzaku run along the eastern side of Bousou where she could see the enemy base. She was between the ridgeline and the noncombat zone.

Since she was so close to the noncombat zone, the Hashiba and Satomi formations were thin. And with the ridgeline acting as cover, the other combat zones did not affect her.

“Fly, Jizuri Suzaku!”

The flight devices on the god of war’s back were modified from those of a Tres Españan El Azor. She was using a single large pair of wings when it was meant to be used with two pairs, so the mobility was not the best.

But while she had worried the power of one pair would not be enough, she could manage with enough initial acceleration.

She ran as close to airborne Integrity as she could get.

“…!”

Then she instantly launched Suzaku about 200m into the sky.

She flew. With her elevated viewpoint, she could see much more of Bousou’s terrain. She saw the defense barrier for the enemy base brightly outlining the city.

Ohh.

She had flown for combat before.

She had used flight devices during the battle against the Terrestrial Dragon the other day, when picking up the idiots outside of Magdeburg, and when battling Michiyuki Byakko.

But this was her first time outside of flight training to use them for such a long period and so frequently.

According to Hiro, “Those El Azor main wings are meant to provide long-term flight for a heavy male god of war, so they’ll have plenty of power for short-term flight with a light female god of war like Suzaku.”

That was more or less what she found now that she was up against Integrity which primarily fought in the air.

“I have to forcibly throw myself around!”

She had jumped up to 200m with a single flap of her wings.

But this had only roughly brought her closer.

She was approximately 300m from Integrity and it was about 50m higher up.

In addition to her light mid-sized wrench, she had a pair of god of war rifles held by the sniping arms attached to Suzaku’s back. She readied those as she pursued the enemy through a sky that had gained a slight blue coloration.

And the purple craft aimed its machete cannon her way with the cannon fire, flames, and sparks of the fleet battle in the background.

Attacking, are you!?

It was. It fired with the machete cannon instead of charging in.

It fired sword pressure.

The air intake ports lined up along the back of Integrity’s blade could also be used as pressure emitters.

It made a horizontal slash toward Naomasa and that slash emitted a fan-shaped blast of sword pressure surrounded by white fog.

And it did not stop there. It released five blasts at once with slight vertical offsets. All of the launched pressure flew toward her while scattering ether light.

The attack was slow compared to a cannon. She had time to dodge after seeing it coming. But…

That also means it sticks around as an obstacle for longer!

With low-speed attacks, you had to think of them as something to dodge, so you had to focus on them for longer.

This is real pain, she thought.

“Oh!”

And she flew.

She struck the air behind her and sent Suzaku diving between the blasts of sword pressure.

But without any secondary wings, she could not adjust her course after flapping those two wings.

Once she flapped them, she was on a straight path. And she also lost speed faster.

“Again!”

When she passed by that sword pressure that looked like curved blades of fog, she forcibly made a second flap.

She wanted to escape that sword pressure as soon as possible, but those five paths restricted her options and so she wanted to regain her freedom.

She flew.

Suzaku flew diagonally upwards.

With the fleet battle’s cannon fire booming overhead, Suzaku moved out ahead into the night sky. The distance to Integrity had dropped to about 150m. And…

Again!?

Integrity took a backstep in midair while swinging its machete to launch another five blasts of sword pressure.

Being closer meant the space between the fan-shaped mist blades was smaller.

But she had to do it.

She saw enough room to send Suzaku between those five paths, so…

“Here goes!”

She accelerated Suzaku while slammed by an explosion of air behind her.

A moment later, she heard a voice.

“6th Special Duty Officer!”

It was Yoshiyasu and it sounded urgent.

“Do not charge toward Integrity!!”


Yoshiyasu heard a certain sound while dodging the flying arrows or cutting them down with her short swords.

She heard a sword cannon.

She was very familiar with the sword pressure blasts fired by the large machete wielded by Masaki Tokishige’s Integrity. They had been fired on her countless times during god of war combat training and she had seen them used on her side on the battlefield.

Yoshiyori and Tokishige were the sword cannon users of the Eight Dogs.

But since Yoshiyori had been skilled with any kind of weapon, the term “specialist” fit Tokishige best.

That weapon is a real pain to deal with.

The sword cannon used by Yoshiyori’s Loyalty was powerful enough to take out warships and was generally a one-shot weapon, but the one used by Tokishige’s Integrity fired multiple blasts. It could fire them simultaneously or in quick succession.

After all, it was originally designed for use against mechanical phoenixes.

Intercepting Houjou’s mechanical phoenix unit if it entered Satomi airspace was no easy task.

After all, not even the course corrections provided by homing spells could keep up when firing head on.

If you could not predict where they would be in advance, getting a hit in was difficult. That was just how fast and mobile they were. They outdid the standard flight of Satomi gods of war in both straight line flights and in top speed.

Tokishige fought them using her multiple simultaneous sword cannon blasts. They created a wall in the sky around her and limited the enemy’s course options.

Mechanical phoenixes could not make sharp turns, so dodging above or below the fan-shaped barrage set up across a wide area would take them far off course. And if they flew between the blasts, they could be intercepted along that limited area.

By doing it a second and third time, the net could be widened and the enemy intercepted.

Tokishige had used the same thing on the 6th Special Duty Officer here.

Yoshiyasu was familiar with this interception pattern, so she raised her voice.

“It’s too dangerous!”


Naomasa had some criticism of Yoshiyasu’s warning.

Be more specific!

Just telling me not to “charge toward” it and that it’s “too dangerous” doesn’t tell me much of anything! When taking any kind of action, announce it in advance, do it where someone else can see you, and use hand signals to exchange instructions. That is the standard when working in the engine division. Of course, barely anyone actually follows those rules, but you still need to follow them when working somewhere new.

“Besides, I lost my chance to charge in anyway!”

That was partially due to the warning distracting her.

Naomasa used Suzaku’s flight devices to dodge Integrity’s attack. She flew above the five sword pressure blasts and her powerful acceleration brought her farther up than she would have liked.

She really did fly.

That was when she realized Integrity was no longer where it had been.

Where’d it go!?

A moment later, she noticed something off about the air current behind her. It was like the air current created by her movement had suddenly been cut off.

“It can’t be.”

She looked back to see a thick blade there.

It was Integrity’s large machete.

It was drawn back for a horizontal slash.

She sensed danger.

How did it get behind Suzaku!?

She knew that god of war had explosive acceleration and that was how it had managed this attack from behind.

But when had it done it? And as a question to herself…

What do I do!?

She moved while considering how to deal with this attack and whatever came afterwards.

She forced Suzaku to rotate backwards.


Tokishige saw how reckless the enemy’s decision was.

The vermillion heavy god of war suddenly flipped back in midair.

Even though the standard decision when trying to escape would be to accelerate away.

But this enemy was different. She forcibly closed the wings and lowered them toward the god of war’s hips.

And did she use that momentum to flip backwards!?

She made a backflip similar to leaning backwards. Meanwhile, Tokishige was making a horizontal slash. The blade accurately swept by just above the god of war’s arched belly.

She had thought it would hit and slice through those giant breasts, but the torso and back frames were surprisingly flexible. It likely used civilian shock dampers instead of combat ones.

The enemy had dodged her attack.

While her attack continued through empty air, she saw the enemy complete the flip in her rear vision. The god of war was trying to spin around and take up a position behind her.

Of course, accelerating from a flip would not be enough to keep up. But, thought Tokishige. It was my carelessness that let the enemy mistakenly assume she has a chance of winning here. So…

“I won’t let you!”

She forcibly reaccelerated with a flap of her wings that produced an explosion of air behind her.

“Hit her!”

The explosive blast slammed into the vermilion heavy god of war.


“…!”

Not bad, was Naomasa’s assessment of the enemy.

An explosive blast of air at high altitude was more like being hit by pressurize cold water than a physical blow.

It numbed her hearing for a few moments until it recovered thanks to her body adjustment divine protection. And once she could hear again…

“I like your style!”

She laughed at how loud her own voice sounded to her.

Suzaku had just been hit and was falling while rapidly spinning backwards. It had probably dropped a few dozen meters in just a moment, but just as she recovered from the impact and began to slow her fall…

“…!”

She read the direction of the rotation and flapped just her right wing. That sideways force shifted the rotation vector diagonally and then she raised both wings.

Since she was rotating backwards, spreading the wings was enough to take in air. So…

“Here I go!”

After striking the night sky and hopping upwards, she found the enemy had already launched their sword pressure her way. She repeatedly dodged those as if circling in from the outside.

After a few more flaps of her wings, the burden on her body was getting to be a bit much. The flight devices were heavy to begin with, so raising them took time and careful balance adjustment calculations were necessary. That meant the raising process could not always be automated and she had to take manual control at times.

But when she saw the enemy match Suzaku’s course and put some distance between them, she knew she had made the right decision.

Staying still would be too dangerous.

She had to stay on the move with this enemy because Integrity fought by never letting up on the attacks.

From long range, it used sword pressure blasts to limit her movement. At close range, it would immediately use whatever attacks were within range. It never let its guard down.

That was not bad and she liked its style. She never had liked people who held back. Engine divine workers might slack off, but they never held back. They would do the job right even if it took some time.

This enemy was doing the same here. They had the kind of spirit the engine division liked to see.

“You’re pretty good at this.”

Naomasa had Suzaku flap again.

She had no intention of holding back either, so she closed the gap between them.

“You’re mine!”

God of war guns were attached to her back arms so she could snipe from the surface. With one at each hip, she had two total, but she did not use them for sniping here. She loaded them with homing rounds and removed the barrel.

“These are aerial combat homing cannons!”

Each of the pair fired four shots in quick succession for a total of eight that trailed ether light as they flew toward Integrity.


Integrity chose an evasive route in a split second.

Tokishige did not choose it. The program inside Integrity chose the optimal route based on the incoming homing rounds.

Tokishige honestly felt surprised.

Musashi’s gods of war can fire midflight!?

Firing in midair was certainly an option, but the rifles used by gods of war had a lot of recoil.

Firing midflight required slowing down and a lot of advance calculations by the god of war’s program.

When a Satomi god of war did it, they would fall back while sniping the enemy. If they did want to move in while firing, they were taught to use something like a sword cannon that fired sword pressure.

But this enemy had fired while flying toward her.

And Integrity had seen how.

“The Tres Españan method!?”


Naomasa fired, but not in the usual way.

She fired from the hip and also from the connection arm that was pressed against Suzaku’s torso.

All to fire straight ahead!

Firing in the direction of your flight made for a lot of recoil. It put a large burden on the connection points.

But there was a way of alleviating that: firing perpendicular to or opposite of your movement.

The Tres Españan El Azors had used that firing method during the Armada Battle. When firing from the sky, they would pass by overhead and direct their bodies downward to fire that way instead of directly ahead.

In that case, the recoil would push them up from below and provide lift instead of reducing their speed. And firing backwards would speed them up.

One way of using this when you had to shoot straight ahead was to shift your direction of movement as much as possible before firing.

You could always fix your trajectory, but if you lost speed, you were more easily targeted. The method had been developed based on an understanding of those simple facts.

Tres Españan aces were so amazingly skilled because they could pull that off in any direction.

Naomasa had practiced it during her flight training and she was reminded of the enemy they had fought at Mikawa.

Smoking Girl: “I can see how they managed to nearly defeat Naito and Naruze.”

Mar-Ga: “Hm? What’s that about the opening act to our romantic sunset kiss scene?”

She sounded upset, but that just meant she was full of energy.

Smoking Girl: “What, you’re still awake?”

Mar-Ga: “Yeah, I’m drawing up some rough drafts for the storyboards that have been piling up lately. I didn’t do all that much today, so I can manage an all-nighter before Nördlingen.”

Her life priorities were so very different from Naomasa’s. But…

Mar-Ga: “So what, are you in a god of war battle?”

“Judge,” she replied while pursuing Integrity. She could not fire while turning immediately after flapping her wings, but as soon as her speed passed its peak…

Smoking Girl: “I’m currently…firing!”

She did so. The booms probably were not reaching Naruze, but…

Mar-Ga: “Those Tres Españans really are aces. I mean, they even adjust the angle of their wrists to avoid taking any recoil as they fly. The Technohexen group only hit them during the Armada by predicting the course they would take for their diagonal shots. It only worked because of how solid their technique is.”

Smoking Girl: “And now I’m claiming those techniques for my own. You don’t get to choose what course your growth takes, do you?”

Mar-Ga: “You’re supposed to say that kind of thing on your deathbed. Besides, if we could grow however we wanted, we probably would have been doing the Kantou Liberation the day after the Battle of Mikatagahara.”

So…

Mar-Ga: “Take care of things there, Naomasa.”

Naomasa nodded and said “judge” to that. Because…

Mar-Ga: “I have my thoughts about Satomi too. I mean, the Naruse Masayoshi who died in that battle is from the Naruse clan my name is taken from. If I had gone on ahead back then, the Chancellor wouldn’t have had such a hard time with it, Yoshiyasu never would have had the chance to become the main character of one of my doujinshis, and that doujinshi never would have gone on to become a series. …So I guess it wasn’t all bad.”

Smoking Girl: “Don’t mention that in the afterword, okay?”

“Good point,” said the Technohexen.

Mar-Ga: “I’m counting on you. I’ll leave the work there in your hands.”

“Judge,” replied Naomasa while focusing in front of her. Now was the time to pursue the enemy.

“I’m not about to hold back either!”


Tokishige focused on dodging the eight homing shots flying her way.

This opponent was pretty good. She had assumed Musashi had no god of war pilots who could fight aerial battles, but Musashi was always flying. This opponent had excellent bodily control and balance for flying and fighting in midair. She was probably used to being in midair on a daily basis.

There was no hesitation in her actions and she sometimes made the smaller movements even more casually than Tokishige did.

Of course, there were a lot of uncertain aspects of her high-speed mobility, but…

Those flight devices force her to focus on a single attack, so she barely has to think about maneuvering while accelerating.

Those powerful flight devices simply sent her flying in the direction they were aimed. If you had trouble with high-speed mobility control, you only had to blast yourself forward with a system that was really just an accelerator. You could alter your direction and fix your attitude after slowing down, so it all came down to guts and good judgment.

A 6th Special Duty Officer would not have any doubts when it came to combat.

“In that case…”

This enemy used a uniquely Musashi form of aerial mobility tactics that had been born in the unique environment of Musashi.

It had its roots in both Musashi and Tres España. She had probably also received aerial combat data from Yoshiyasu. This was more than just attaching wings to a civilian god of war. Everything about this had worked to create a god of war capable of aerial combat.

Most likely…

This enemy was thinking of attacking the base in Satomi.

She was a formidable foe.

Tokishige could not let her get away, so she could not put too much distance between them.

Integrity hopped up in the sky.

It drew in the homing shots and then fired a single sword pressure blast.

There was an explosion that triggered three more explosions. Five of the enemy’s shots made it through the flames, so Tokishige flipped around to dodge the leading two. But their homing spells had lost sight of her in the flames, so she could dodge them without even looking their way. The remaining three still had functioning homing spells, so they flew after her as she flipped around.

“–––––”

She accelerated forward. The explosive blast she sent their way caused two of them to burst. The remaining one lost sight of her as she rapidly accelerated away, and…

“Self-destruction, hm?”

It lost speed and eliminated itself through self-destruction.

She looked below to see the enemy rising toward her. And while firing another barrage.

The enemy was not simply rising toward her. With each bullet she fired, the recoil shifted her course. However…

She’s matching the timing of her flight with that, isn’t she?

Her course was both unpredictable and fast. It was honestly the most efficient method, but Tokishige had the following to say about the enemy’s flight.

What a dirty way to fly!


Naomasa sped up her flight timing.

What a great way to fly!

Because the Musashi generally flew quite slowly, she found moving quickly was more her style and she wanted to really zoom by if she was going to fly.

This was pretty nice. She felt the corners of her lips rising while directing her god of war to essentially reflect themselves.

“Fly, Suzaku!”


“Y’know,” said Tokishige after seeing the vermilion god of war fly outside her field of vision again.

Flying is supposed to be more…how should I put it? Aesthetic? Like a bird or something. Besides, you’re flying on your nation’s tax money, so even if the end result is really all that matters, you need to be more careful about it.

Come to think of it, how has Yoshiyasu been paying for Righteousness since defecting?

Would Satomi be billed for the full amount after the war? If so, that Student Council President seemed like an utter disaster when it came to government spending.

“Dammit!”

She continued her flight while angry about a great many things. And…

“There!”

She realized what course the enemy was taking. Judging it by sight was not fast enough. After a few attacks, she predicted where the enemy would likely come from and fired her sword pressure there.

The vermilion god of war flew in right where she had aimed.

The sword pressure and the enemy’s attack intersected. They were close and directly facing each other.

The enemy’s homing shots were all shattered by the sword pressure. They exploded and Tokishige moved forward.

She had crushed the enemy attack and that enemy was right in front of her, so the rest was obvious.

“I’m in striking distance!”

They were at extreme close range. The enemy tried to dodge by using the recoil of the shots to forcibly alter her trajectory, but the unnecessarily large movements of her wings were easy to read. They both leaped in a direction 90 degrees removed from straight ahead.

“You aren’t getting away!”

Tokishige and the vermilion god of war took the same path as if approaching each other, and…

Here it comes!

At 30m apart, nearly within arm’s reach for gods of war, they both launched an attack.


The exchange of attacks sent a barrage against a wall.

The vermilion god of war’s homing bullets were spread out at first and gathered together, while the purple god of war’s sword pressure was gathered together at first and spread out.

Neither one could stop the other attack and they took evasive action at the same moment.

The vermilion one used several forcible flaps of its wings to circle above or below its enemy’s wall of sword pressure.

The purple one flew in a rippling way that stored up energy before releasing it in order to trigger premature explosions in the enemy homing bullets.

But the sky was a cramped place.

The night sky was far too small to exchange attacks at this range.

So they both opened up the sky. They sent themselves in a double helix path where they seemed to repeatedly swap out positions.

Neither one withdrew.

The vermilion one drew a helix up into the sky with slicing movements.

The purple one drew a helix up into the sky with piercing movements.

And then their paths intersected and clashed. The vermilion one pulled a slender midsized wrench from its aerial skirt and the purple one struck with its large machete.

Sparks scattered and metallic sounds echoed out.

They both moved away and immediately fired while spinning themselves around to eliminate the recoil.

The very next moment, they chose a path that both dodged the enemy attack and took them toward that enemy.

The gunfire and cannon fire intersected once more.


That was close, thought Naomasa.

That last intersection had truly been dangerous. When Mitotsudaira or Futayo came to her for training, she had generally thrown them around and pinned them down to show them they were in her ring now, but those two had still occasionally gotten a good blow in.

She had just felt the same chill on the back of her neck as those times.

When she thought about it, she was in her opponent’s ring right now.

She was controlling her mobility better than she had expected, but…

Ugh, it’s such a pain.

She did not have time to worry about it. If things were going well, she had to push on. If they were not, she had to push on regardless.

This was a job. A job known as the Satomi Liberation. She was one of the main team and the deadline was approaching fast.

Her payment would be Suzaku’s wings. If she screwed this up, they would be out of reach for the time being. If Hashiba retook Satomi, all of their technology could possibly be taken away.

That meant this deadline was absolute. She could not pull back now.

“Damn this unforgiving battlefield.”

She clicked her tongue, but then she laughed bitterly in the sky.

“But that’s fine. There are even more unforgiving things out there. I mean, our Chancellor is intent on world domination and our Vice President loves war. But,” she said while spiraling through the sky and keeping Suzaku with Integrity even as that enemy attacked. “If things aren’t going well, I still have to push on!”


Tokishige confirmed that Integrity’s movement had stabilized. The output and deterioration were both within acceptable bounds.

Things were going well.

She could aim for an even better situation, but she knew she would only have a moment to pull that off. She only wanted to try for it because of her doubts concerning how long she had maintained her best condition here.

But, she thought.

That damn amateur!!

She knew this opponent dodging her attacks was Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer. She was a powerful enemy. But even if she was a Musashi resident, Tokishige did not like that she could keep up with her like this.

It made her feel useless.

Do not rush this. If you stay calm, you can defeat her.

Not “should be able to”. She had the skill to definitely defeat her, so she measured the distance between them.

“Oh!”

And her sword raced out. Their paths intersected for a moment and both their weapons became close-range weapons.

Her sword cannon could be used as a large machete, so the shift was an immediate one.

She swapped out the program controlling the wrist and other joints from a firing one to an aerial close quarters attack one.

Then she had to strike the enemy with the blade. Machetes were nice. They could split the target as long as they hit. And during flight, the air would collide with even the smallest split, widening it until the entire device was unusable.

But her attack was deflected with metallic sparks.

That midsized wrench!?

It was a tool. In Satomi, they were used more often for repairing aerial ships than gods of war.

That seemed like an awfully heavy thing to carry around, but the enemy god of war was not a purely combat one. It likely had some extra weight it could carry around. And…

“She thinks about this differently.”

Tokishige’s Integrity was a god of war capable of aerial combat, but it was not designed for aerial combat.

Even if aerial combat was her forte, Integrity was definitely designed with ground combat in mind. That was because Satomi’s enemy of Houjou was so close by and they would often invade Satomi territory.

A Satomi god of war could not do its job if it could only fly.

But Integrity was one of the more popular gods of war in Satomi territory. The most popular was of course Yatsufusa since it delights adults and children alike. The rest of the Eight Dogs knew we could never hope to defeat that, but when Loyalty took the second spot, what were we even supposed to do?

At any rate, Integrity was in fifth place. Third was Obedience, but you can’t really expect to beat the sexy one, can you? Now, the real question is why Righteousness was in fourth place. Yoshiyasu, you had shot down fewer enemies than me. I know during the voting it was the older demographic that voted for you most of all. Is that what happens when you focus on ground battles and make sure to do all the boring patrols and stuff!? I was more popular among the child and teen demographics, you know?

At any rate, she was angry, but whether a nation or a god of war pilot grew their strengths or eliminated their weaknesses came down to their individual policy and current mood.

She had decided to specialize in aerial combat.

But this enemy was different. She instead chose to eliminate her weaknesses.

The equipment she had chosen proved it. That god of war had originally been one of the Four Sacred Beasts, but it was really a lightweight god of war with mostly civilian parts. However, the enemy must have decided to use that light weight.

She responded to each battlefield by changing her equipment and using what fit best. If this had been focused on ground battles, she likely would have come loaded with that sort of equipment.

Of course, her armor was thin, so the damage she took had to be serious. When battling the Sanada Terrestrial Dragon, she had moved out ahead and gotten an attack in, but it had destroyed the legs.

But that was fine. She was not alone.

“She has allies she can rely on.”


Satomi had the Eight Dogs once, thought Tokishige.

But not anymore. The others had not been at the evacuation point and she had been the only one among the remnants gathered by Hashiba. Well, Yoshiyasu was still out there, but she was an enemy at this point.

She had no one else to rely on. And…

“That was all we ever had.”

Those eight were their main fighting force. They did have warriors, but that was not enough to defeat Houjou. The gods of war could hold a surface location fairly well and that had helped deter Houjou, but…

You can only really feel the pressure in that location once the Eight Dogs are there.

But the eight of them could not stay on the battlefield forever.

They had set up a rotation, but it was generally only three and sometimes only two.

It was hard to say if Yoshiyasu had ever noticed, but she had ended up with the most shifts together with Yoshiyori. Some would have seen that as a sign of Yoshiyasu’s insufficient strength and others would have seen it as Yoshiyori’s favoritism.

But whatever their skill level, the two who were out there had needed to put up a defense together during the early stages of a battle when an emergency arose.

That was why the previous Yoshiyori had taken action to protect the nation and why Yoshiyori had decided to side with Musashi after hearing the divine radio broadcast of the Battle of Mikawa.

He had decided Musashi would be able to handle Satomi’s situation.

Tokishige had seen from the sky when he placed flowers at the previous Yoshiyori’s grave.

At the time, she had thought they would be freed from the pressure of losing things and having to protect things if Musashi took Satomi’s side.

An urgent divine transmission had arrived one night.

She had learned the night before that Musashi had gone to join the Sack of Magdeburg. That was all in some distant foreign nation, so she had simply thought of them as some good-natured people who liked saving people.

But the next news had been of the Battle of Mikatagahara beginning.

She remembered three of the Eight Dogs – Benevolence, Courtesy, and Knowledge – had been ordered to go protect the area Musashi would pass through and the others had been ordered to defend those areas afterwards.

She had wondered why the Battle of Mikatagahara was stretching all the way to Kantou.

The fateful moment had happened as she hurried from her dorm to reach her post.

The dragon line reactor had detonated.

The trees in front of the dorm had been knocked down, but she only realized after the fact that being behind that line of trees had saved her life.

The next thing she had known, she had been somewhere else entirely. The ocean had been in view. She had apparently been blasted to the top of some wide-open hill. When she looked down to figure out where she was, she had noticed a pile of rubble there. That rubble below her feet had been all that remained of the dorm after it took a direct hit from the blast and collapsed.

Everyone had gathered back together at the evacuation site, but they had been unable to escape the Hashiba search team.

That’s right.

When Integrity had been dug out of the academy hangar almost entirely unscathed because the other gods of war had protected it and when she had learned of Yoshiyori’s death and that the Musashi was docked at the Ariake in the northern sky, she had understood that she was Satomi’s local representative and that she had no choice but to do what she was told.

From there on, she had shut out all information about Musashi.

There had been so much she needed to do and most of it was still not complete.

Besides, what is with Musashi?

They’re always flying while I have to beg for Student Council money when I want to do flight training, so how could I not be jealous of them?

But based on the bits and pieces I’ve heard about their actions and from official announcements, they sound really strict about their gags. I could never manage that. I’m amazed Yoshiyasu can live there. I thought she was as straitlaced as me, so maybe the stress knocked a screw loose or something.

Probably so.

Right now, Tokishige was fighting.

Her state was the same as Satomi’s.

She knew Yoshiyasu was an enemy. That girl probably did understand the effort she had gone to and Satomi’s present situation, but she had not experienced it with them. So, thought Tokishige.

“I…!”

She could not fight Yoshiyasu.

If she fought that idiot and either one of them won, it would split Satomi apart. There would surely be a split between those who would continue with Tokishige’s efforts and those who wanted a new Satomi.

Yoshiyasu probably understood that as well.

That Konishi could be pretty harsh on the surface, but she was a caring person deep down. She understood Satomi’s situation and had set things up so Satomi would benefit no matter how things turned out.

Which side would win and which would lose? What form would Satomi take next?

Would their current efforts pay off and create something new?

Or would they choose a different path and create something new?

Which would it be?

“I…”

It would be hers.

“Have you ever stood upon the ruins of your life, Musashi!!”


Naomasa heard the enemy’s words.

You idiot.

Is this supposed to be a misfortune competition? And if you want to go there, I have.

I lost my village, lost my family, and was picked up by Musashi.

But Naomasa did not say this out loud. Because Musashi had not come to pick up this enemy. However…

“I have no intention of apologizing.”

Whether or not someone else helped you was up to chance. And in a misfortune competition, no one could beat the dead. But in Naomasa’s opinion, you should not lament your misfortune when you died; you should rejoice in the life you lived.

That was what Yoshiyori had done.

His last flight was a flight for life, thought Naomasa about Satomi’s Chancellor.

He had refused any help, but if that was his way of life, that was how it should have been.

If someone had helped him, it would likely have influenced him as he left them. That was what it meant to get involved with someone’s way of life.

Even those who saw him off had been influenced by him.

She certainly had. A part of her had been influenced by Yoshiyori, just like her sister had influenced her.

She had been influenced by her sister’s request to “use me” for so very, very long.

But now she understood.

Her sister had not been trying to sacrifice herself.

That had been her sister’s way to live her life. So…

“I will teach you.”

She sent Suzaku through the air.

“Because I am older than you.”

And, she silently added. Our leader is an idiot who carried someone’s death with him instead of carrying the way of life they left with him.

There had been no life there, so he had asked himself if he had been born just to die.

That had to have been far more painful than what Naomasa had gone through, even if that person had returned recently.

Now Horizon understands what life and death mean, she understands the importance of relationships, and she is with us again.

Of course, the idiot had also realized he was supported by other people and he understood what that meant.

And he seemed to have finally reached a point where he could face that directly, but…

“Now, then.”

That made this their job.

If Satomi had been broken and lost, then Naomasa had a lesson for them: You did not exist just to be broken and lost.

“I will teach you!”


Chapter 58: Dodger in the Night Sky[edit]

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Merely falling

As much as possible

Is the resolution and the method

Point Allocation (Simple)


Two crafts clashed.

Metal loudly collided and circled through the sky.

Wings created a roar and the roar created instantaneous momentum.

Integrity flew in a powerful arc.

“What do you gain if you win here, Musashi!?”

Suzaku swung its body around and flew in to strike with its left elbow.

“Don’t ask me!” shouted Naomasa. “We’ll leave you all to do whatever it is you want! That’s all there is to it!”

Their weapons were targeting each other’s heads, so they collided at the midpoint. Naomasa’s hair blew wildly and Integrity shouted back at her.

“That is the arrogant pride of the powerful!”

“Of course it is!”

Neither one moved back this time. Their colliding weapons kept their wing-accelerated clash even.

“We accepted pride last night. So,” she said. “If Musashi conquers the world, the world will have pride!”


Mar-Ga: “By that logic, the entire world will eventually have lust too.”

Me: “I think Horizon and I joked about that before.”

Mar-Ga: “Oh, you were awake?”

Smoking Girl: “Get to sleep! Why are you even still up!?”

Mar-Ga: “Oh, do you want to see my roughs that badly? I’ll compress them a little and send them over, so decompress the files if you want to see some interspecies love between the Sanada big bro and the two Celestial Dragons.”

Me: “I’m impressed you can do that when the Celestial Dragon battles ended in such a nice way.”

Smoking Girl: “So why are you still up, Toori?”

Me: “I’m curious about the Kantou Liberation, so I’m listening to the battle commentary while gathering some ingredients.”

Righteousness: “Don’t use us as background noise!”


The idiot was the same as always, but those people listening in meant more pressure to do these battles right.

And our situations will be reversed once the Battle of Nördlingen starts.

So Naomasa made her move. Their weapons were still locked, so…

“Here goes!”

She fired homing shots from her hips while within arm’s reach of the enemy.

Naomasa launched an attack while at close enough range for the homing to be meaningless.

If they hit, the blast would damage herself as well, but…

I can’t overcome the gap in skill and specs otherwise!

Suzaku could fight back since it was a general-use machine, but there were areas where the enemy had a clear advantage. Her attacks were only keeping up with the enemy’s due to the homing. Since her bullets flew in an arc, the enemy had to fly on the inside of those curves which allowed her to move in closer and fight back.

For the enemy, close range was both a safe zone and combat airspace.

So Naomasa used that against her. The enemy would not expect her to fire from close enough range to blow herself up.

“So…”

Hit her, she thought just before she sensed something.

It was wind.

It did not blow in from the front. She felt like the air was moving out in front of her during this high-speed battle.

The wind led toward the enemy’s large machete.

That’s not good!

This was a sword cannon blast from dead ahead.


When she realized the enemy had had the same idea as her, Tokishige clenched her teeth while combined with the god of war.

Of course, the god of war did not have teeth. The program that artificially recreated her feelings simply gave her the sensation she would expect.

But, she thought.

What is she thinking!?

Was this enemy prepared to go down with her? No, that could not be it. The enemy had to have some way of dodging it.

And that too was the same as Tokishige. She would be damaged if she was caught in the blast from her sword cannon hitting the enemy, but she had only made this move because she had thought up a way to dodge it. And…

“…!”

Tokishige saw the enemy’s evasive action just as she made her own.

The enemy accelerated.

She flapped her wings for a rapid change of course.

But Tokishige was confused: Hadn’t the vermilion god of war already used its flight devices to eliminate the recoil upon firing those homing shots?

Those flight devices were designed to provide a single heavy blast of flight, so it should not have been possible to use them twice in quick succession without a chance for air intake in between. Besides, the autonomously-controlled wings would have had their movement restricted in this close-range battle so as not to damage them.

No!

Tokishige saw something.

The vermilion god of war’s arms were raised overhead as if flipping its hair back.

“Did you force up the wings with your arms!?”


Naomasa knew that method was pushing things to the limit.

The automatic controls refused to use the flight devices in quick succession because time was needed to compress air inside the wings and to build up the propulsion spell.

But there was still something in there, so she used it. She manually operated the wings.

This is the entire reason manual controls exist!

She used her arms to force up the wings and that movement took in some air, insufficient though it was.

“Fly!”

The buildup of acceleration was larger on the right, so Suzaku was launched to the left and out of the way of Integrity’s sword pressure.

“I’m through!!”

She had dodged it.


She made it past.

But Naomasa did not have time to celebrate her escape. Because…

Where is she!?

Integrity had disappeared. Her own homing shots had not hit, but it had changed course to the left or right.

That meant it had slipped between the homing shots. Those had been fired from Suzaku’s hips, so Naomasa was impressed the enemy had made it between them.

She used her sword pressure, realized Naomasa. She used that blast from her sword to shift the homing shots to either side.

Of course, the enemy’s cleverness meant danger for Naomasa. After all, Integrity had been flying so they would pass by each other. In that case…

“Behind me!?”

Naomasa’s weak acceleration meant she slowed down faster. She managed to turn around fast enough, so she had Jizuri Suzaku make a midair turn.

Five sword pressure blasts entered her field of vision.

Integrity was not there. Where is she? she wondered as those blade impacts moved in.

Damn!

Her wings had yet to build up the power needed for acceleration. She could use the manual controls to make them flap, but that would not be enough to dodge this wall of sword pressure.

So she used that insufficient flight to essentially make a short jump.

She dove between the second and third of the five sword pressure blasts.

She made it through, which was when she saw it.

“That’s…”

Integrity. The purple god of war was there. And…

“Behind the sword pressure!?”


I screwed this one up!

Naomasa knew she had been careless with that decision.

Yoshiyasu had warned her and Integrity had dodged the previous homing shots in the same way. Flying forward then meant Integrity had pursued the sword pressure and that had to be the secret to her attacks.

She hides behind the wall of sword pressure, charges in, and strikes the enemy as they slip through the gap.

This enemy could pull off such a dense series of attacks.

Integrity had been behind the third sword pressure blast this time. That meant to Naomasa’s right.

But she did not hold back. She spread her wings toward Naomasa, and…

“Ohhh!”

She used the greatest acceleration she had demonstrated so far.


Tokishige could see that the enemy was not giving up.

The vermilion god of war used a cross guard and then pointed the tip of its midsized wrench her way.

Having something to hold out like that briefly made the distance between them hard to read by instinct alone.

Tokishige decide to attack low. An attack for the head could be dodged by leaning forward.

But a low attack would hit the body, so that was what she did as she passed by.

It hit.

The metallic sound resembled an eggshell breaking.

Her large machete split the thin metal armor and scattered lubricant and parts. However…

Wait!

The wrong parts were destroyed and scattered. These were from…

“The left leg!?”


Integrity’s vision calmly confirmed that its blade had sliced into the enemy, but the slash had hit…

A straight kick!?

The cross guard and the raised wrench had been diversions meant to draw her eye.

The enemy had predicted the high speed would keep Tokishige’s eyes off what mattered while she made the slash.

The enemy had thrown a high-speed left kick into the machete.

No matter how thin the armor was, slicing vertically up a leg was difficult.

The blade had made it up to the knee, but the enemy had bent the leg there. The blade had caught in the joint and had trouble continuing from there.

“Kh!”

The recoil from the speed hit Tokishige in the wrist and shoulder, so she made up her mind. She grabbed the machete in both hands, and…

I have to keep going!

If she let off, the recoil would only hit her even stronger. She needed to throw her entire body into it.

“Ohhhhh!”

She did it. She sliced the entire leg in two and then she went for the enemy’s left side as if to tangle themselves together.

“Hit her!”

Hit she did, but she did not hit the opponent’s body.

Sparks flew as something blocked the thick machete.

It was a midsized wrench.

The vermilion god of war held the wrench to the side with both hands and slid the machete’s blade along it. And…

“Caught you.”

The enemy changed course and flew to tackle Tokishige with her shoulder.

When the enemy caught up with her like this, Tokishige could not believe what was happening. Hadn’t the vermilion god of war used up all of its acceleration power?

But this was different.

She saw something behind the vermilion god of war.

A swamp.

Tokishige knew that the Suzaku was one of the Four Sacred Beasts gods of war. And when it had been in a dangerous spot while fighting the Byakko, it had activated itself to match the enemy’s OS. So…

“This proves that your god of war’s flight devices belong to Suzaku.”

“Impossible!”

Tokishige swung the machete outwards. She raised it and flew left to put some distance between them.

“This was made in a Satomi workshop!”

“Your Chancellor told me that Satomi flight devices were based on Suzaku’s flight devices in the design phase.”

In other words…

“What you have there contains more Suzaku tech than anything. So…”

So…

“I will defeat you and take it!”


Even as Naomasa shouted those words, she was aware the acceleration swamp behind her was slowly fading away.

It really did only activate in response to her output.

There was still a lot she did not understand about Jizuri Suzaku, but all of those things could be explained away by saying it was still incomplete.

The most prominent example was why the Four Sacred Beasts OS would not activate most of the time. But once again…

The OS will probably become aware of itself when it takes those wings and regains its original form.

That may have been wishful thinking, but it was all she had to rely on right now.

If, she thought. If I can activate Jizuri Suzaku as one of the Four Sacred Beasts and it regains all of its original functions, will I get my sister back?

She could only hope. She might be mistaken or wrong, but that was all she had.

And if she was going to hope for that…

“I will be taking that!”

The swamp disappeared from behind her and her acceleration was reduced, but she had caught Integrity in both arms.

Integrity swung its right arm. It made a compact rightward stab with its machete.

Naomasa responded by swinging her prosthetic right arm. Suzaku’s left arm moved along with it.

“Are you any good at martial arts!?”

Naomasa would teach her. She was a self-defense instructor. Self-defense was a method of resisting an armed opponent.

Naomasa snapped her opponent’s right wrist with Suzaku’s clenched left hand.

It was a light attack, but it was a vertical strike during the horizontal rotation of swinging that large machete.

Integrity’s wrist joint broke as if it had burst.

Then the two crafts collided.

Integrity could not use its right arm. Its wrist had lost all strength and the machete was abandoned in midair.

That created an opening.

Naomasa had Suzaku charge at Integrity’s open left side from below and clutch at the enemy’s side with Suzaku’s left shoulder.

Once she had caught the enemy, she had Suzaku hold them in a horizontal throwing pose and then force them straight down.

“My acceleration has built up.”

She raised her wings and accelerated.

She rocketed straight down toward the ground 200m below.


Down they went.

Naomasa chose the rocky ridge at the center of Bousou for a landing point. Slamming the enemy against the forest or the dirt might not be enough to destroy them.

She could not fight another battle after losing her left leg. The enemy could not use her right arm and had lost her weapon, but Suzaku had almost no mobility left. She had to end this here.

But the enemy moved.

“Damn you!”

Integrity tried to break free of her grip. Its left arm grabbed Suzaku’s radiator hair and forcibly pulled its head back. And…

The flight devices!

Integrity was trying to flap those wings to alter their positions in the air.

But Naomasa did not hold back.

She was right up against her opponent, but she still fired the weapons on her hips.

She fired two shots.

“Kh!”

Integrity reacted to the two blasts from nearly point-blank range. Tokishige instantly purged the hip armor.

She got through!?

The bullets passed by Integrity’s torso on either side, but those had been homing shots.

The two shots flew toward the surface, made a rapid curve, and dove between the trees of the forest.

One of them hit a conifer tree trunk and exploded, but the other flew back up into the air and toward Integrity’s back as a counterattack.

Naomasa saw Integrity’s decision in that moment.

It purged the right flight device wing on its back.

“You’ve got guts!”

With one of the giant wings missing, Integrity’s balance destabilized.

And the enemy took a certain action then.

Tokishige grabbed at Suzaku’s trembling arm and side so Integrity could take control.

With control of their fall swapped out, Integrity flapped its remaining wing.

The blast of air from just the left wing further destabilized its balance.

“Now I am in control again!”

Naomasa realized Suzaku had been rotated halfway around along with Integrity.

Suzaku’s back was aimed down toward the ground as the homing bullet flew up toward them.

If that hit, it was all over.


Tokishige did not let up with Integrity.

Even if the enemy was hit here, they would both slam straight into the ground.

This was not even an issue of who would remain standing in the end. She was prepared to let the battle be decided by who was in control at the end.

She did not hold back, so she grabbed the vermilion god of war’s hair to tighten her grip with her left arm.

But that was when she realized the enemy had stuck her right arm below Integrity’s left arm.

It looked like that was to prevent her from getting a perfect grip, but…

What is this?

Integrity’s vision picked up on something.

It was that midsized wrench. The vermilion god of war held it in its right hand, and…

“Wait.”

The wrench’s opening had latched onto her left side between the torso and the base of the shoulder joint. The wrench had a perfect grip on the vertical rotation structure within.

And that was not all. The enemy swung the wrench for just a moment.

She rotated it 90 degrees down to rotate the shoulder joint fastener.

That was when Tokishige realized what the enemy was trying to do here.

“Are you trying to destroy and remove Integrity’s shoulder joint!?”

The enemy was structurally destroying the shoulder.

This was not a forcible purge of the joint. When the base was damaged and could not be physically removed in the proper way, the shoulder had to be dismantled from the outside just like this.

With a human body, this would be like moving the bones beyond their intended range of motion to dislocate them.

Of course, god of war joints were designed so they could not be spontaneously “dislocated”. A Satomi god of war’s shoulder joint had a rotational movement range of 540 degrees. And if the arm was rotated like normal, the base axis would rotate to reset it after about 270 degrees, but…

The enemy is holding it in place.

The base axis could not move. Since she was holding the enemy down from above, moving the rotational component back would move the joint outside of its acceptable range.

Had Yoshiyasu taught her this? No, anyone who worked on gods of war would probably know about this.

Tokishige resisted within the split second she had. She had all of the joints auto-adjust.

She used an attack preparation routine in an attempt to return the shoulder fastener’s angle to zero.

But the enemy would not allow it. Her surviving right leg kicked at the wrench.

“…!”

It rotated 360 degrees all at once and the enemy grabbed the wrench in her right hand again.

“Damn you!”

When the enemy kicked the wrench again, Tokishige heard a voice. It came from Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer riding on the vermilion god of war’s shoulder.

“This is my day job, you see.”

In that moment, the left shoulder was freed from its exterior with a dull noise.

The joint dislocated, air could be heard escaping, and the transmission tubes tore. The arm was removed from the body and the many cables that tried to hold it there ultimately snapped.

“Gwahh!”

The tearing of the nerve transmission caused much more pain than the destruction of the joint.

Tokishige’s artificial senses said her left arm was losing all its heat. And it was accompanied by an odd emptiness at her left shoulder.

Dammit!

Just as she cursed to herself, the vermilion god of war shoved the left shoulder back into place.

“Wa-…”

She tried to say “wait”, but could not complete the word.

They did not have time to flip themselves around again.

The vermilion god of war swung the left shoulder and left arm around to slam Integrity downwards.

“…!”

After being tossed in something like a vertical hammer throw, the rising homing shot crashed into her left side.

Immediately after the explosion, Tokishige realized she had crashed into the ground.

She had lost.


“Impressive. Not only does the 6th Special Duty Officer manage to remain fairly normal, but she does a good job too.”

Ookubo looked up into the sky – a very low part of the sky – to see an explosion and a collision with the ground.

That was the battle between Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer on Jizuri Suzaku and Integrity of the Satomi Eight Dogs.

The result was seen on the southern end of the ridge in central Bousou.

Integrity lay collapsed and curled up on its side and Jizuri Suzaku stood with just one leg.

“Oh.”

Jizuri Suzaku sat down on the ridge and raised its right arm.

That is unexpected.

Ookubo knew it was rude, but she had not thought the 6th Special Duty Officer was quite so considerate. Of course, she may have only done it on a whim this time, but if she was being considerate of the entire battle as a whole…

“I really don’t get these upperclassmen.”

“Milady,” said Kanou.

“What is it, Kanou-kun?” Ookubo tilted her head. “We have made another step of progress here.”

“Yes, we have, but something else is happening too.”

“Something else? What, is something happening elsewhere?”

“Judge.” Kanou nodded and spoke with the booming artillery in the background. “The Musashi is about to pass by the Azuchi.”


Chapter 59: Travelers at an Intersection[edit]

Horizon7C 0185.jpg

Let us shoot

Let us shoot

Point Allocation (Showing Off)



Masazumi awoke to find a blanket over her face.

Her own blanket was covering her body like normal. The one over her face belonged to Balfette who was sleeping nearby. She must have gotten hot and thrown it off at some point.

She must have then gotten chilly without a blanket because it looked like she had tried to pull over Mukai’s blanket who was sleeping near her. But Mukai and her blanket had been captured by the Aoi Sister, so Balfette ended up with only the pillow the Aoi Sister had kicked over her way.

Masazumi was worried Balfette might get a chill, but…

“Ah…n-no, don’t climb on top of me, everyone. I’ll be too late…for the leftovers…”

Dreaming about walking the dogs may have been a kind of occupational disease.

However, not everyone was asleep.

“Whoa, it’s pulled up that far?”

Masazumi heard a voice by the wall, so she looked over to see Asama sitting up and quickly pulling down the hem of her pajamas.

She noticed Masazumi looking.

“Oh, you’re up, Masazumi? We are about to arrive at the point ‘Musashi’-san predicted we would encounter the Azuchi. The only other ones up are…”

“Mitotsudaira and me?” said Naruze with her shoulder against the wall and her blanket over her lap.

She pointed her pen toward Mitotsudaira who looked dazed as she stared at the bitemark in the pillow she was holding up. Naruze kept her eyes on the crop mark frame Magie Figur she held in front of her chest.

“Some of the boys should be up too.”

She then glanced over at Naito who was collapsed in sleep next to her and she sighed.

“I will stay here working on my manuscript, so you all head on out.”

“Eh? O-okay, but are you sure you don’t need any sleep?”

“I’m so full of energy it will be easier to stay up.”

“Oh, I think I know what you mean.” Masazumi would sometimes end up reading a book until the next morning. “When that happens, I feel more refreshed if I just stay up and then get some sleep in the afternoon. Although the Blue Thunder’s manager says I can only get away with that because I’m young.”

“Yes, it probably isn’t great for your health, but it’s bad for your skin and hair too,” said Asama.

“Probably another reason why you can only get away with it when you are young,” said Mitotsudaira.

There was a sound from the entrance and Asama and Mitotsudaira looked over to see Sanyou running away after having walked in to call for them.

“Wait, Sanyou-sensei!” shouted Asama. “You can still get away with it a little bit too!”

“I don’t think you’re helping,” said Naruze. “So what was she doing here anyway?”

“She probably planned to wake us up, so there wasn’t anything for her to do anyway,” said Mitotsudaira.

“I see.” Masazumi stood up and grabbed the change of clothes she had left next to her pillow. “Let’s hurry up to the deck. Asama, you record everything. Mitotsudaira…”

“I will guard my king. I am fairly certain he is awake, so he should be emerging soon.”

Getting dressed is so much faster for the boys, thought Masazumi, but it had been the same for her until Mikawa.

People can change a lot in just a few months.

She unfolded the inner suit and then realized something.

“I guess we can’t wake up Horizon, can we?”

On the Azuchi, Hashiba’s group would likely head out to see the Musashi passing them by.

Just as she realized this was a lot like when they were returning from Sviet Rus, the two arms got up from Horizon’s sides. They wrapped bathhouse hand towels around their wrists like ribbons and then bent their wrists up toward Masazumi as if looking at her.

“Are you coming?”

They nodded their wrists and came over.

“I’m getting used to seeing this.”

“Judge. I feel like that might be a bad thing, but it’s also part of Musashi’s unique charm.”

Could you call it part of Musashi’s character?


The two ships passed each other by at high speed.

It happened in the sky above Toyohashi in southern Mikawa.

The Musashi had been badly affected by ether noise the last time they crossed Mikawa’s large bay, so instead of crossing the center of the bay, they stayed west of the bay’s entrance and followed the coast of the Atsumi Peninsula that remained as an embankment. They also chose a safe route high in the sky.

The Azuchi, on the other hand, chose a course crossing the center of the bay and their altitude was half of the Musashi’s.

There was a distance of 20km between them, but both ships were about 7km long. They showed off their shapes as they passed each other by traveling to the east or the west.


On the Musashi’s bridge, the automatons detected something odd about the Azuchi’s flight.

“What does this mean? Over,” asked “Musashino”.

The Azuchi’s course across Mikawa Bay was almost identical to the one the Musashi had used before, yet nothing happened to the Azuchi.

The light of ley line disturbances did occasionally rise from Mikawa Bay like lightning. It bent to the north and disappeared, but…

“That is not affecting their ship in any way. Over.”

When the Musashi had crossed there, they had experienced an earthquake-like shift from the ley line noise. The “shaking” had been enough to lower their acceleration and, while all the automatons’ shared memory remained, it was still unclear what kind of phenomenon it had been.

First of all, it was simply not possible for the entire Musashi to shake at once.

It was a giant floating mass. More than that, it was split into 8 ships. Yet every part of it from bow to stern had been shaken in the exact same way.

For those on top of the ship, it had apparently felt like they had hit some turbulence, but the automatons had a reason for finding it so odd.

The amplitude of the shaking was identical in the center of the ships and here on the bridge.

Shaking was generally smallest at the origin point and grew larger as it spread from there.

The Musashi was a giant ship. Any shaking would be largest at the stern or the bridge. The buffering spells would prevent the actual shaking from being all that great, but measuring the degree of buffering would tell you the true amplitude.

That calculation had produced the same answer for every part of every ship.

Also, a few mysterious phenomena had occurred inside and atop the ship.

Most of them had been moving silhouette sightings and people had reported seeing strange shadows in the corridors and streets.

A few of those silhouettes had passed through the ship’s walls. Asama had speculated that the city of Mikawa had left behind some residual information as a mold and that had mistaken Musashi for Mikawa.

A few of the automatons had seen the silhouettes as well.

However, Suzu’s report was concerning. She had said someone reached out and grabbed her hand to support her when she had nearly fallen on the bridge.

Of course, Suzu’s case could be explained away as her reaching out toward the silhouette when she started to fall and mistaking that for it grabbing her hand.

But there were other scattered reports of people receiving some slight assistance from one of the silhouettes or having one wave at them.

Had the tension and pressure of combat led several people to mistake what they had seen when those mysterious phenomena based on residual information had appeared?

No. “Musashino” concluded that those had not been mere residual information.

She knew humanity was less accurate then automatons, but there were too many reports of it happening at the same time and the data remaining in the ship pointed toward something beyond their understanding.

On the other hand, she did not know what it actually was.

That shaking had made no sense to the automatons, so…

“It is impossible to reach any kind of conclusion. Over.”

But, she thought while observing the Azuchi’s flight 20km away.

Why do they seem entirely unaffected and uninfluenced?


Asama stood with the others on the starboard side of Shinagawa that was tilted upwards to gain altitude.

They could see the Azuchi illuminated in the moonlight.

Its great size made its movement appear slow, but Musashino’s bridge had predicted they would arrive in Kantou in just an hour and a half.

That meant they would likely arrive about half an hour earlier than originally expected.

They had to be rushing there. Because if they could intervene in the battle, they could keep the Keichou Campaign going and enter summer break without losing their foothold in Kantou.

“I just hope Satomi can end the battle early.”

Asama could only agree with Mitotsudaira there.

Toori turned back with his hands on the deck’s railing.

“Could we fire on them to at least harass them a little?”

“You idiot. If we actively engage them in battle, they could use that to claim the Keichou Campaign is ongoing. At the very least, we need to avoid giving them the chance to make the argument.”

“Then what if they attack us? We were fired on tons from about this distance when we descended in that transport ship in Kantou.”

“Toori-dono, that was when they were directly facing us and at an almost complete standstill,” explained Tenzou. “Those are entirely different conditions from passing each other by at high speed.”

“Also,” added Masazumi. “If they attack us, they have to worry about us using that as some history recreation other than the Keichou Campaign. From this location, we could probably call it the Crossing of Iga or the Battle of Komaki Nagakute.”

“Judge. In the latter case, Takigawa-dono already did part of that with the Siege of Kanie Castle, so we would have an even easier time applying that interpretation.”

Asama only had the standard education level of war knowledge, so she could only nod and say “I see”.

But Toori suddenly looked elsewhere.

“Hm, so they’re a bit too far away, huh?”

He was looking down at the deck where Horizon’s arms were carrying a large bow. It was Maska Orge of the Logismoi Oplo.

Those arms with their hand towel ribbons stared off into the distance when they heard what Toori said.

“…”

And they hung their hands in disappointment.

“What, you wanted to shoot them that bad?”

“Hashiba did defend against it on the way back from Sviet Rus, so you wanted a second chance at it, didn’t you?”

The arms nodded at Mitotsudaira’s question.

Huh? Am I starting to understand how the arm’s express themselves?

That seemed incredibly awkward, but she decided to accept it since it would probably help things go more smoothly in the future.

However, something else had caught her attention.

“Asama, what are you looking at?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“The Azuchi observation data that ‘Musashino’ is sending me.” She smiled bitterly because that data made no sense. “There is something odd about the Azuchi. Well, not really it. The oddity is with the ley lines of Mikawa’s bay.”


This is very strange indeed.

The information at hand seemed as odd to Asama as it had to “Musashino”.

When they had crossed above Mikawa Bay before, the Musashi had experienced a mysterious phenomenon that not even the automatons could make sense of.

She was measuring the ley line status around Mikawa Bay, but it was barely different from back then.

To be extra certain, she contacted IZUMO and had them transfer over the ley line measurement data from all the shrines across the Far East, but there was still little difference from back then.

Oh, you can still see the effect of Mito’s mom’s actions in Kantou.

But that had little influence all the way in Mikawa. Since the Asama Shrine was located on the Musashi, its data was updated in real time to match the Musashi’s course.

Mitotsudaira peered at the data from the side and noticed the names of the shrines in the surrounding area.

“Could you use that to work out the Azuchi’s route?”

“Oh, the Musashi counts as the nation of Musashi, so the Testament Union has requested that our data be accessible at IZUMO. But the Azuchi sends its data to P.A. Oda where it is carefully examined before being sent out. There are a few other nations that will temporarily stop sharing their data when the ley line situation gets bad enough.”

However…

“The Musashi’s stealth spell is Shinto, so it places us under the protection of the shrine and god that provided the spell, which means our data does not need to be sent from our shrine while in stealth mode. Plus, the noise would be so bad there would be little point in sending it out anyway.”

“Oh, is that why the divine transmission cuts out and we can’t detect anything outside?”

“Yes. To put it simply…”

Asama realized something as she raised her right index finger and started to speak.

I’m turning this into a Shinto nerd session!

She chose to get back on topic.

“Um, anyway. To sum up, the ley line situation in Mikawa Bay is not very different from when we were on our way to Kantou. And do you remember what happened then? The ship shook while we crossed the bay.”

Everyone exchanged a glance, looked up in the sky, and finally nodded.

“Oh, yeah. That did happen. So what about it?”

“That’s the thing. We don’t know. I thought it was some form of residual information from Mikawa, but I was never certain of that. But…”

Tenzou continued for her.

“The Azuchi is not experiencing the kind of oddity we did, is it?”


Tenzou heard Asama confirm what he said.

That certainly is unusual.

Mysterious phenomena generally required a specific “location”, “person”, or “time” to activate.

“It is currently around the same time of day as our previous crossing, isn’t it?” he asked.

“But the loss of Mikawa happened a lot earlier than this,” pointed out Mitotsudaira. “If it was an afterimage of that moment, it should only appear at that time of day.”

“Yes. And if the condition is a person, it should only happen around that person, so it would be odd for it to occur across the entire ship. That just leaves a location.” Asama looked out into Mikawa Bay and tilted her head. “But if the location is Mikawa, the Azuchi should be affected by the same mysterious phenomenon as us since it is an equally sized ship. Yet that is not happening.”

“Could the mysterious phenomena be taking the day off?” asked Toori.

I am not so sure about that.

“Do they even have holidays?” asked Tenzou.

“Oh, they might have lucky days,” said Asama. “But most mysterious phenomena come from the ley lines, so, um, if the ley line is stable, it should not be much different from a continuous waterfall.”

“Yayyy! What kinda dumb question was that, Tenzou!? Are you stupid or something!?”

“This boy… he silently groaned, but he was always like that. And Asama may have been trying to help him out here.

“Oh, but when a local god is more active due to a lucky day or something, it can have the side effect of causing a ‘good mysterious phenomenon’. But since Mikawa went boom, the local shrine was moved to the Musashi.”

“S-see, Toori-dono!? I wasn’t wrong after all!”

“Huhhhhh? Did the widdle baby forget I was the one who said it first? Does the widdle baby need a reminder?”

The right hand pulled Lype Katathlipse seemingly out of nowhere and jabbed it into the idiot’s butt.

He gasped and collapsed to the floor with his butt sticking up in the air.

“M-my king!” cried the knight. “You deserved that one, but are you okay!?”

“Huh, I guess this means the arms can use Horizon’s storage space.”

Asama began checking some settings on a sign frame. She was probably checking on Horizon’s condition.

“So how is Horizon-dono?”

“Well, she is still sleeping with her eyes open to initialize the Logismoi Oplo. The open eyes are probably just for fun. But since her arms can move around and they are under her management, they have a lot of freedom and even have the authority to use the Logismoi Oplo.”

“I would really rather we do not let the other nations know that.”

Tenzou understood why Masazumi would feel that way. The arms were currently tilting their wrists.

“This means they can sneak in through the attic and blast you with a Logismoi Oplo, doesn’t it?”

“1st Special Duty Officer? The scale of the action and of the objective in that example are shockingly different.”

“So they could fire a Logismoi Oplo in the same way they were lying in wait when I tried to peep?” asked Toori.

“That is fine within the Musashi, but we really need to make sure those arms are with their guardian or on a leash while outside.”

I can’t imagine anyone has ever been worried about this in the entire history of the human race, realized Tenzou.

Meanwhile, Asama was still viewing her sign frame.

She groaned and tilted her head, so Tenzou asked her a question while viewing the Azuchi in the distance.

“About the mysterious phenomenon in the sky above Mikawa Bay. Could it be that it is happening now but the Azuchi is canceling it out with a buffering spell?”

“Hmm. That would mean our mysterious phenomenon defenses are inferior to theirs, so I would really prefer not to accept that answer.”

“Then,” said Mitotsudaira while turning toward the Azuchi. “Out of curiosity, what kind of mysterious phenomenon defenses does the Azuchi have?”

“Their Tsurugi Shrine worships swords, so they use slicing spells that are as powerful as you would expect. But their spells are more attack focused and meant for use against individuals, so I would have thought the Azuchi’s defenses against barriers and fields would be rather poor.”

“How very strange,” said Tenzou.

“Right?” Toori crossed his arms. “Could the ley lines just hate the Musashi or something?”


“ ‘M-Musashi’-sama! We have already organized all the mysterious phenomenon data here on the bridge, so why are you sending Vicereine Horizon a divine mail!? I have determined tattling is not the adult thing to do! Over.”

“Calm down, ‘Musashino’. I refined my data system the other day, so I am theoretically 0-years-old and thus am not an adult. Over.”

“Someone! Someone call Sakai-sama! Over.”


Masazumi sighed as she saw the Azuchi’s stern come into view as it grew more distant.

“No divine transmissions or attacks this time, huh?”

“Was there a chance of negotiations here?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“If we did exchange words, it would be my job to use that to accomplish something for either the Keichou Campaign or the Battle of Nördlingen.”

But right now, both sides were hurrying to their respective battlefields.

They did not exchange any words.

Starting a battle here could easily work against either side and negotiations were similar.

Negotiating would have been dangerous.

Negotiations were an attempt to balance the benefits between the two sides. A nation could use its power to force something through at times, but in general, any benefit required giving the other side something of equal value.

“They really have nothing to say about us participating in the Battle of Nördlingen?” asked Tenzou.

“We already did that in front of Hashiba and we are working on a request from Hexagone Française.” Masazumi shrugged. “Also, we have Nagaoka with us as Inadome Sukenao. Asama, speaking of Nagaoka…”

“Yes, I have already taken care of the immigration review and asylum process, so that is fine.”

Asama held up a sign frame related to shrine registration.

There were instructions written in some of the fields, but those were probably standard options. Masazumi had also gone through that process with her, just without the asylum part. But for now…

“Inadome was present when the Nagaoka estate was attacked. We can claim we are assisting in that history recreation, so…”

Masazumi trailed off there.

The idiot was speaking to the arms on the edge of the deck.

“Hmm, it was a real shame you didn’t get to shoot that, wasn’t it? Hey, it doesn’t have to hit, so why not give it a shot? I bet you’ll feel better afterwards.”

Before she could protest, the arms fired Maska Orge into the night sky.


A commotion broke out above and below the Azuchi’s deck while it flew toward Kantou.

“Azuchi”, the overall captain, spoke in the rapid way of an automaton.

“Attention to all inside and outside the ship. The Musashi has fired what is thought to be a warning shot. It has been identified as the Logismoi Oplo named Maska Orge. It will have no effect on the ship at its current power level, but there may be further attacks. And…”

And…

“Maska Orge attacks with pangs of conscience and you may feel like it has affected you, but based on the distance, I have determined you would have to be imagining it. Please keep that in mind. Shaja.”

“Nwohhhhhh! I was distracted by the glimpse I could get between the legs of the girl sitting across from me at the table! I was silently apologizing the whole time, but I still ended up zooming in with my naked eyes!”

“When I saw two boys chatting by the window, I couldn’t help but imagine what their conversation had to be! I was silently apologizing the whole time, but I still had them make plans with each other for tonight!”

“I made sure to silently apologize to my parents after failing my finals!”

“You should apologize out loud for that one!!”

Meanwhile, Fukushima stepped out onto the rear deck of the 2nd starboard ship where they could see the Musashi.

Someone was already on the edge of the deck.

“Takenaka-sama and Hashiba-sama!”

It was surprisingly unusual to see the two of them together.

A large tremor ran through Hashiba when she called out to her.

Fukushima was curious until she noticed Hashiba was using both hands to eat. And…

“Oh, thou are eating a hamburger.”

“Oh, y-yes. I visited Kyoto, remember? They had received some products directly from Hamburg, so I was a little, um, curious.”

“I sometimes have one of those after training, but is something wrong with thine, Hashiba-sama?”

“Well, she got a little carried away on the toppings and the pickles were almost too much for her,” explained Takenaka.

Hashiba quickly waved her hand side to side.

“I-I ate them! I really did! I will ask for no pickles next time, though!”

“Yes, there are times when it is a bit of a mystery what is in those. But anyway,” said Fukushima as she turned in the direction they had been looking.

The Musashi was already showing its stern and flying away at a much higher altitude.

The Azuchi had been higher back at Sviet Rus, but…

“Will they arrive in Nördlingen in time?”

“It looks like they will arrive in about thirty minutes like us.”

Takenaka displayed the Musashi’s expected course on a map of the Far East.

That course made a point of avoiding this southern end of Mikawa’s bay.

Won’t it take them a while to fly that far around?

Fukushima was puzzled, but…

“The Musashi will accelerate after crossing Mikawa Bay,” explained Takenaka. “It will then enter the Kii Peninsula, but the peninsula’s mountain range forms a diagonal line from south to west. So if they bank around the right corner of the mountain range at high speed…”

“Their high altitude will allow them to ‘descend’ all the way to Nördlingen?”

“That’s it, yes. It helps that their speed won’t drop even during inertial cruising. This must be based on the knowledge they gained on the way to Kantou and on their general aviation knowhow. I’m pretty sure the Azuchi could do it too, but…”

Azuchi: “Testament. My experience as a ship is sufficient, but my application of that experience is not quite capable of supporting an adlibbed route and flight style. Shaja.”

“Azuchi” was saying she had the fundamental experience, but she had not yet built up enough additional experience to apply that knowledge.

Alternate applications were not meant to be necessary. Especially for a machine.

“The Musashi’s 30 years of experience means a lot, doesn’t it?” asked Fukushima.

“Testament, testament. It really does,” agreed Takenaka. “I bet they’re going to do some pretty crazy flying, so they’ll probably invade some of the peninsula’s airspace. But they’ll use the excuse that it was necessary to arrive in time for the history recreation. Since they picked up Nagaoka Tadaoki-kun.”

“Oh, the boy from Kani-dono’s report.”

He was apparently Kani’s underclassman. Would she be able to ask Kani for more details once she arrived in Kantou?

She had only just met Kani a few days ago, but it sounded like the girl had gained a lot of experience since then. She would likely be more than sufficient as a sparring partner.

Include Kiyo-dono, and we can set up a rotation.

She stopped thinking there because she felt a great heat in her heart.

We have been training with just the two of us lately, but maybe I should have been branching out more than that.

Given their special circumstances and given how they reported directly to Hashiba, the Ten Spears tended to be insular.

They did get plenty of training done, but they did not interact much with others.

As a commander, she was right to consider including this newcomer, but…

“––––––”

She felt a strange impatience she did not understand.


What is this feeling?

She was not quite sure how to put it, but it was felt sort of like including someone else would be “a shame”.

Kiyomasa knew her combat style by heart and was at a level where she could push Fukushima to her limits if Fukushima showed any kind of opening. That much was clear from their training the other night. Kiyomasa looked like she was focused on defense, but her twin sickle spears allowed her to attack twice as often. She also had excellent mobility, so she likely had greater total strength and stability than Fukushima.

Fukushima had the greater attack power and assault power, so Kiyomasa simply let her take charge when those things mattered.

In that case, thought Fukushima.

Training with Kiyo-dono leads to the best results for me.

She doubted there was a better partner for her out there.

Of course, it would be better for Kani to spar against more powerful opponents instead of performing standard training. She had a lot of potential for growth at this point.

When viewing their fighting force as a whole, it would be better to train Kani who had a lot of potential for growth than to train Fukushima herself who had less potential for growth and who knew how to come up with new tactics. She understood that would make overall victory easier.

On the other hand, she did of course have excuses for training herself.

The fighter with the greatest attack power and assault power had to achieve victory at the times when only they could pull it off.

She needed to be as strong as she could be.

A single loss from her could mean losing the battle as a whole.

So no one would protest if she focused on training herself.

That meant there was a good reason to train with Kiyomasa, but to put that another way…

“–––––”

She swallowed the words she very nearly spoke out loud.

“Hm?” Takenaka turned her way. “Is something wrong, Fukushima-san?”

“Oh, no. I was only thinking about training.”

That was not a lie, but her pulse was elevated since she so very nearly let her inner thoughts slip out.

I cannot believe this, she thought while Takenaka smiled bitterly in front of her.

“Yeah, we’ll have time for all sorts of training once summer break begins. But please try to focus on Kantou for now.”

“Th-that is a good point.”

“Testament. If we can intervene in the Keichou Campaign, we can arrange a ceasefire and then just leave it like that until the Honnouji Incident is complete. We do need to train during summer break for what is to come, so it would be really nice if we could use Kantou. I would love to play around in the amusement park ruins being restored at Edo Bay, attend some events, play in the Pacific Ocean, take some really high damage, and puke.”

“Takenaka-sama, I feel like thou are fantasizing about summer break a lot yourself.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Takenaka shook a hand dismissively. “You want some time off to go somewhere with Kiyomasa-san, don’t you?”

Fukushima gasped as she instantly imagined a whole bunch of things.

Ah.

This is bad, she thought. I need to reject these selfish fantasies.

For example, Kiyomasa and I could wear casual clothes and walk the dog along the Shingen Embankment. → Neither of us owns a dog.

For example, Kiyomasa and I could have fun going around Harajuku buying snacks to eat. → We would run into Kani-dono and the others.

For example, Kiyomasa and I could put on swimsuits and have fun in the amusement park pool. → We already did swimsuits.

She concluded they had to go around buying snacks and buy swimsuits to wear as they visited an amusement park along an embankment, so she ran a search on the divine network. She discovered an amusement park based on sun worship deep in the mountains of Edo that was located along a river, so she added that to her “Look into with Kiyo-dono” list.

Wait, no!

Actually, what was she protesting and why did her protest matter?

Spending time with Kiyomasa was not a bad thing, was it?

Her shoulders drooped in a sigh and Takenaka smiled bitterly in front of her.

“C’mon, c’mon. You need to take some time off. Now, you might have a hard time visiting Mito after attacking them before, but you and Kiyomasa-san could go to the beach or to that amusement park being excavated on the outskirts of Edo. You know, the one that’s name suggests it’s run entirely by middle-aged women.[1]

“B-but, I, uh, might not, you know, be doing anything with Kiyo-dono.”

“Eh? You’re not?” asked Takenaka.

Hashiba nodded.

“Nori-chan has Kani-san and the other underclassman to look after.”

That is true, thought Fukushima while she watched Hashiba clench her fists and continue speaking to Takenaka.

“Nori-chan has a lot of work ahead of her. This is an important time for training your underclassmen, but, um, please do not push yourself too hard.”

“Eh? Uh, yes, thou are right.”

“Then I will inform Kiyomasa-san of your schedule related to all of that.”

Eh?

She was shocked to have someone else decide that for her, but then she realized this was her superior. It made a lot more sense for Hashiba to decide her plans than for her to decide them on her own.

But on the other hand…

Now I have no idea when I can spend any time with Kiyo-dono during summer break.

The Musashi accelerated while flying to the west.

“Oh, looks like that’s the end of the show,” said Takenaka. “Okay, in addition to our plans in Kantou, I’ll work out a summer break schedule for everyone.”

“Testament,” weakly replied Fukushima.

I hope my summer turns out okay.


“C’mon, c’mon. Keep this up and summer break will start! You sure you want that!?”

The bottom of the night burned while Konishi’s voice rose into the sky.

Two gods of war fought in a burning forest on the south central end of the Bousou Peninsula.

Righteousness and Filial Piety pursued each other and traded out the offensive and defensive roles as they battled.

Whenever either one made an attack, a wave of sparks burst out and the wind created a valley of heat, but a moment later, the flames would swell out from absorbing the wind and spread even further across the forested region.

That heat kept anyone else from approaching.

This scene was not just visible from the forest. It could also be seen from the port town to south which acted as the Satomi base.

Everyone inside that base could see the fiery battlefield through the light of the defense barrier.

They were not all on the same side. Some were the Hashiba forces sand others were the former Satomi forces.

For the Satomi forces, this battle was between a representative of their occupier Hashiba and a representative of their local Satomi force.

The Satomi forces had withdrawn to the center of the base.

They were all watching the progress of the battle.

After evacuating the citizens and students inside the defense barrier and shelter set up at the central square, the Satomi Representative Council Head spoke with the Hashiba representative.

“Thank you very much for setting up the barrier and shelter.” The Satomi representative bowed. “But are you sure?”

“Don’t be dumb. We just don’t want to take an attack from behind. Don’t start feeling indebted to us now. Also, stay inside the shelter. There’s a fleet battle overhead and who knows when a stray shot will land on us here. This area should be safe, but armor and parts will scatter around if we’re hit.” He laughed and slapped the Satomi representative on the shoulder. “I was here from the start, so I’ve learned a fish-heavy diet is pretty nice. Getting used to sashimi really changed my lifestyle.”

“And you taught us a lot about using spices. I never knew pepper was so important. Without your knowledge of teppanyaki, we couldn’t have prepared so much food using the armor panels.”

“Hey, you were only stuck in that situation cause of us, so feel free to hold a grudge.”

“Oh, we will,” said the Satomi representative in a low voice. “We lost a lot and the current generation will hold that grudge for a very long time.”

But…

“You will leave and eventually be destroyed in turn.”

“Hey, now. You’re no different there.”

“Yes, Satomi too will disappear. And even if we did not, the form of this grudge would change along with the generation. I couldn’t tell you what would happen after that, but when it comes to this generation…” He slapped the Hashiba representative on the shoulder. “If you’ve got nowhere to go after being destroyed, then come here. We’ll have a good laugh, but then we can commiserate as fellow destroyed ones. Besides, you’ve shown us how high level Hashiba’s civil engineering techniques are. Musashi could never do any of this since they spend so much time floating around in the sky,” he said. “After we’ve lost our pride and our status, then I’m sure we can make a fresh start. And…”

He looked across the sky and the land.

The fleets were exchanging shellfire in the night above and gods of war were clashing in the burning forest of the night below. After viewing and listening to all of that, he continued.

“Could your destruction possibly be more exciting than this?”

“Oh, you better believe it. Ever heard of the Apocalypse?”

“I mean, yes, but…”

“Then you should know.” The Hashiba representative pointed into the sky above and the ground below. “Let your guard down and the entire world’ll be destroyed before you know it.”


The Satomi representative gasped in the light of the burning fires.

When the shellfire in the sky illuminated his silent face, the Hashiba representative spoke.

“Listen.” He continued with the distant fires in the background. “We will stop the Apocalypse before Hashiba is destroyed. No, we will stop it even if Hashiba is destroyed first. I haven’t been told how yet, but I’ve been able to pick up on a few things.”

“You mean…?”

“This is a method only we can pull off. And after seeing what Hashiba-sama and the others have been doing recently, I can tell their method is bound to stop the Apocalypse.” He took a breath. “I believe they described it as ending the world but not letting it end.”

“Huh?”

“We’re gonna do it,” he said while facing the other representative with his eyebrows raised in a smile.

He did not know what those words meant. They were both aware of that, but the Satomi representative still asked a question.

“You are?” he asked. “You’re going to make it so all this happened to Satomi for a reason?”

“We are,” said the Hashiba representative. “Everything we do leads to there. Hashiba-sama will not stray from that path…or so I assume.”

“That last part isn’t exactly reassuring!”

“Don’t say that.”

They both smiled bitterly and the Hashiba representative continued with the corners of his mouth still raised.

“How could I keep going if I didn’t tell myself that?”

So…

“We’re gonna do it.”

“You are?”

“We are,” he confirmed. So, “No matter how many grudges we earn and no matter how terrible the results, we will stay true to that one point.”

“Can you still do it if you lose here?”

“Hey, now. Don’t just assume we’re going to lose.”

“Is Hashiba going to lose?”

“We’re destined to withdraw, but we aren’t losing.” The Hashiba representative pointed at his own chest. “All of us who arrived first were ready for what was to come. We knew we would be despised by all of you, but when it’s time to withdraw, we’ll hold our heads high and thumb our nose at your grudge. So don’t you start sympathizing with us or thinking we got what was coming to us. Just tell us assholes to get out of your land already, okay?” He poked his finger at the Satomi representative’s chest. “And the next time I’m here, there’s no need to laugh. If we still remember what happened today, you can think back on what we said and give each other a good hard punch. Instead of keeping up appearances, worrying what the other is thinking, and dealing with the whole occupier and servant nonsense, we can finally be fully open with each other. So once we’ve hit each other and had our say, let’s try this again, okay?”

“Try this again?”

“Don’t make me say it again.” He smiled, placed his gun over his back, and turned around. “Oh, and if you’re going to shoot us in the back, aim for the side of the neck here. Your guns would have a hard time damaging us anywhere else.”

“That’s a pretty small target.”

“Bye.” The Hashiba representative waved back while walking away. Then he pointed down at the central square. “This place is under Satomi’s care again. You face your destruction and I’ll face mine.”


Chapter 60: Imposer of Scorching Heat[edit]

Horizon7C 0217.jpg

Moving forward

Is all I know

And all I want to know

Point Allocation (Unique Trait)


Yoshiyasu saw light fill the Satomi base through Righteousness’s sight devices.

It’s revealed itself?

All the light in the center of the city had vanished and the light sources were instead focused on the outside of the city walls. She could tell at a glance that the wall-style defensive barrier had been strengthened, but…

“Are they shifting to a defense of the base!?”

“Because we know where the enemy is.”

Just as Konishi said that, a loud boom crashed into the city wall on the southwest side of the base.

It was a cannon blast.

A Musashi god of war hiding in the forest had fired on the base’s city wall.

That pseudo-anti-ship cannon could break through warship armor with a direct hit. It also had a targeting spell applied, so…

The city wall is made of logs at its base, so that should have punched through!

“Not a chance,” said Konishi while forming fire arrows in Filial Piety’s spread hands.

Then light burst on the northwest side of the Satomi base.

That was a defense barrier, but instead of one meant to strengthen a city wall…

“Is that for a light warship!?”

“Testament. Hashiba has a powerful aerial fleet, so how else would we strengthen our base? All I did was apply our aerial ship defense system to the base.”

And…

“I combined the wall-style and localized-style of defense spell. Some large or wealthy cities will do this too and others have prepared it as an option ever since Hashiba-kun introduced transport ship collisions as a strategy. Meanwhile, we were the ones who invented that strategy, so we long since considered what we would need if someone used it against us and put together an efficient response program. I assume you know what that means.”

“They won’t break even if a transport ship rams them?”

“How many did you ram into just one of our light warships when leaving the great ruins earlier?”

The answer was three, but she was not about to say it. And the enemy already knew the answer anyway.

“How do you like that?”

Konishi rapidly expanded the fire arrows in Filial Piety’s hands.

These were no longer mere arrows. They grew into large fireballs that Filial Piety threw at her. And they flew with the speed of an arrow.

She’s using money to alter Filial Piety’s spell cannons, isn’t she!?

Even when someone was combined with a god of war, current technology did not allow it use spells directly, so if a god of war was to use a spell, it had to be loaded into and activated with a spell cannon developed for the god of war. Filial Piety had one installed in each arm for its spell specialization, but…

“This god of war is perfect for me since I can make it do whatever I want as long as I have the money.”

As the fireballs approached, Righteousness dodged to the right instead of falling back.

“I forget, did you answer my question? It was three.”

Yoshiyasu dodged and the balls of heat roasted and pierced the trees as if slicing through them. Then they melted the ground.

Kh.

Righteousness’s armor overheated and the internal structures sent out warnings. The left secondary wing had been the closest, so it began an emergency ejection of the heat contained within it. It tried to take in air to cool itself down, but there was no longer any cool air here.

“How about it? Where do you intend to find three transport ships? Can you borrow them from the fleet up there?”

Yoshiyasu heard Konishi’s voice, but her left secondary wing was having trouble recovering and she could not use it.

She placed a light-blocking filter on Righteousness’s sight devices to help with the high heat and light.

“How about it?”

When Konishi asked that again, some artillery blasts rang out.

They came from the Satomi base. A few pseudo-anti-ship cannons were using a barrier-permeation spell to stick out from the top of the wall and fire nearly horizontally.

The shells tore into the forest where Yoshiyasu’s allies were continuing to fire and approach.


“Wow, they came to life all of a sudden.”

Ookubo was on a forest slope where the rock face was visible in places.

The enemy apparently had a general idea of where they were.

We’ve already started fighting some of them that were bolstering their defenses on the outside.

Based on that and this counterattack from the base…

“They must be working off of the information sent by that Asano girl.”

Also, Integrity would not have just been flying around overhead. If it had been sending back the data from its sight devices, the base could have set up this counterattack.

The distance and amount of information must have reached the necessary thresholds. And…

“Kanou-kun. How do we break through that extra defense barrier?”

“Judge. The same as before. The enemy base’s defense barrier appears to be a combination of the ordinary wall-type ones and a light warship’s. Our ground forces shot down an enemy ship earlier, so we only need to do the same thing here.”

“You ask for a lot, you know that?”

That attack had included the 6th Special Duty Officer’s Jizuri Suzaku, but the Suzaku was currently immobilized. And based on where the previous shells had hit…

“Oh, no. They worked out where that previous god of war fired from.”

“Do not worry, milady.” Kanou smiled. “The pilot has been evacuated.”

Explosive tremors and burning flames were evident in the southwest forest.

■――: “Milady, the god of war from the southwest team’s god of war unit was destroyed!”

Nagaya-Stable: “Yeah, I can see that, I can see that.”

“Now, then,” said Ookubo. She looked up at the embers rising in the wind from the fiery forest to the south and she opened a new sign frame. “Our plan is going to be harder to pull off now, but I guess we have to go for it regardless.”

But…

“We’re getting close to the end here, Satomi Student Council President. Can you do anything about your fight there?”

Meanwhile, a great din reverberated from the same direction as that fiery heat.

Filial Piety had launched superheated white balls toward Righteousness.


Yoshiyasu focused on dodging.

After launching the fireballs to increase the surrounding heat, Filial Piety sent out more fire arrows. Based on the shimmering heat rising from Filial Piety itself, it could apparently avoid overheating by canceling out a certain amount of heat.

It had not demonstrated that trick before, so…

Konishi must be getting the hang of using it.

That was bad news.

After all, Yoshiyasu could not use her flight devices in all this heat.

Flight devices compressed air within them and used that as a catalyst for thrust, but the interior structure was made up of a fuel system and emblem boards engraved with spells.

It was weak to heat.

It only had average level anti-heat divine protections applied to the parts, so if heat was compressed inside, it would produce a mass of heat powerful enough to possibly melt the inside of the flight devices.

This is bad, thought Yoshiyasu.

She knew the overall battle was approaching its end, but that was why Konishi was working so hard to fight back.

She had to settle this as soon as possible.

Hashiba would arrive in Kantou at dawn and they would surely keep the Keichou Campaign going. If that happened…

The Kantou Liberation will have to run according to Hashiba’s schedule.

Yoshiyasu thought to herself.

If that happens, everything we’ve been doing will have been for nothing.


Failing the Kantou Liberation meant handing everything over to Hashiba.

She knew that quite well.

But part of her thought that might be a legitimate option. If they chose to obey instead of fighting back, time and the rules of the history recreation would eventually work everything out.

The people who had come up with the history recreation rules during the Age of Dawn had been pretty clever.

Yoshiyasu made a divine transmission connection and sent a question to the Musashi that had almost entirely disappeared into the western sky.

Righteousness: “What do you think history is?”


Mar-Ga: “Um, is anyone else up? Yoshiyasu just asked a weird question.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m up, I’m up. So did Seijun and the others go back to sleep after heading back there?”

Mar-Ga: “Yes, because Asama had prepared charms for them in advance. I’m still cleaning up my manuscript. Margot had nothing to do, so she’s asleep too. So who’s up on your end?”

Me: “The group playing GekoDos is up. Tenzou said he wanted to prepare the materials to make Mary some equipment, so I decided to look to the future and do the same for the others.”

Mar-Ga: “You do know GekoDos only allows up to four players, right? If you make a party with Horizon, Kimi, Asama, and Mitotsudaira, you’ll be booted out yourself.”

Me: “D-don’t say things that are so mean yet so plausible!”

Mar-Ga: “You should play a game that lets more people play at the same time. Also, is there anyone here whose sleeping face you’d like a snapshot of? Oh, but FYI, Horizon is sleeping with her eyes open like a pharaoh and the two hands are pointed this way, so that one’s not happening. Or should I try to get a shot from outside her alert zone?”

Me: “Could you try it?”

Mar-Ga: “Oh, sorry. The right hand noticed me, so that won’t work.”

Me: “Horizon is way too cement-like. So what about the others?”

Mar-Ga: “Kimi has been sleeping with Suzu in her arms for a while now. Asama hurried under the covers feet first, so she ended up sleeping with her butt sticking out. Mitotsudaira ruined her pillow, so she’s lying face down while sniffing and wiggling her butt.”

Oh, can I see that?”

Mar-Ga: “Give me a sec.”

Me: “Wait, Black Mar. It’s not their butts I want to see. Well, okay, that’s a lie, but I’m gonna wait until we’re back home for that.”

Mar-Ga: “I said their sleeping faces and that’s all I’m offering. Okay, here goes. The arms seem to be in a good mood, so they’re doing some posing. This is my chance. ….There you go.”

Me: “Ohh.”

Mar-Ga: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Me: “Just that I’m happy.”

Mar-Ga: “It would make me happy if you sent me some images of them at your place. Also…”

Me: “Also?”

Mar-Ga: “Seeing someone’s sleeping face is a luxury. I should know since it’s one Margot and I share. Their sleeping face goes away come morning and it goes away if they notice you, but it’s something you can see if they share a space with you and let you be a part of their home. It’s a weird way of putting it, but it’s like they’re living there in front of you even while they sleep.”

Me: “Are you in a good mood?”

Mar-Ga: “Hmm. I just filled up the page with a bunch of sound effects, so that might be why it seems that way.”

Me: “Oh, you’re working. Then I shouldn’t distract you for too long.”

Mar-Ga: “Judge. Thanks for keeping me company during a quick break.”

Me: “Sure thing. See you tomorrow. I hope you’ve got some badass Technomagie ready for us.”

Mar-Ga: “…”

Me: “…”

Me: “Oh, right! Flatty!!”


What a pain, thought Naruze while writing out more sound effects.

According to the Testament, the Far East’s literacy rate was rising during this time period and the military commanders would often exchange letters. But the letters written in that warrior society tended to be written in Chinese while writing that used the spoken language was seen as a part of the imperial court’s culture. However, she had trouble with that ancient Far Eastern.

Mar-Ga: “Chancellor, I really can’t believe those Far Easterners of the Age of the Gods. I mean, they would apparently say what sounds like ‘violating a hole’ in modern Far Eastern, yet all they meant was ‘oh, how strange’. And imagine how it feels having to write something supposedly benign that looks all the world like it means ‘violate me, violate me, right in this hole’. It’s almost too much for me.”

Me: “Isn’t that why you write stuff in modern Far Eastern?”

Mar-Ga: “The Testament Union has been cracking down on stuff lately, so I make sure to have one in ancient Far Eastern ready.”

What a pain, thought Naruze while adding a white outline to the sound effects. Then she asked that question again.

Mar-Ga: “So what is history?”

Novice: “Huh? You don’t know? History is made by bringing together a great many people and nations. So you see…”

Oh, no. “Bringing together a great many people” makes me picture something very different from what he meant. But nations too? Are we anthropomorphizing the nations now!? Then the title could be Lust Nation: Kupaa Italia! That’s it!

Wait, stop mentally working up new storyboards and finish the manuscript you’re working on!

But I should jot that idea down. Also…

Mar-Ga: “Can I shut off my divine network connection? This conversation is distracting me from my work.”

Novice: “Y-you weren’t even listening to my enlightening lecture, were you!?”

Mar-Ga: “Do you really think your kind of lecture would mean anything to Yoshiyasu on the battlefield?”

“Besides,” said Naruze for no real reason before realizing something.

In a way, Horizon here was the Far East’s representative, their Chancellor was on the other side of the wall, and others who deeply connected those two were here as well.

This is so silly.

“Fine, then.”

This can be a real break where I actually focus on something else, she told herself as she started speaking.

Mar-Ga: “Satomi Yoshiyasu. Are you listening?”


Mar-Ga: “I will answer your question, Satomi Yoshiyasu.”

Yoshiyasu nodded while operating Righteousness.

Mar-Ga: “You wanted to know what history is, right? That is a simple matter.”

Righteousness: “Simple?”

“Judge,” replied the other girl. Yoshiyasu heard what came next while dodging below a fireball and moving forward.

Mar-Ga: “It is something that happens, not something that is created. It will happen all on its own whether you want it to or not and whether you play a role in it or not. Also, you can only play a role in the parts you were alive for. So you have two things to think about.”

Those were…

Mar-Ga: “If you are happy with the life you lived, then you will be happy with the history that leads to. So if anyone out there is happy with the life you lived, that means you did the right thing with your history.”

But…

This all sounded absurd to Yoshiyasu.

She could not think of anything she had done that anyone would be thankful for.

Righteousness: “Can I really do something like that?”

Mar-Ga: “Silly girl.”

The Weiss Hexen’s words appeared on the screen.

Mar-Ga: “Live a normal life and you will find plenty of good things along the way and live out an enjoyable life. All you have to do is stay alive. As long as you do that, we’ll take a look at your present life and give it the ‘happiness seal of approval’. I mean, I’m happy just seeing Margot’s face while she sleeps next to me here. I’m much happier now than if I had to go to my grave without ever seeing that. But can you create Margot’s sleeping face? You can’t, can you? Don’t get full of yourself.”

So…

Mar-Ga: “I am thankful that Satomi Yoshiyori let me stay alive.”

“–––––”

“Now,” said the Technohexen.

Mar-Ga: “I’ll give you some Technohexen advice to pay you back for what you’ve made me through doujinshis.”

Namely…

Mar-Ga: “Use this chance to take back what you lost. And…”

Yoshiyasu listened.

Mar-Ga: “Go on to make something new. Write something new. The readers will be delighted. And I’ll decide whether it’s any good or not when I read it. Wonderful, isn’t it? And we’ll help you out along the way.”


Yoshiyasu nodded inside her god of war.

Right, she thought as understanding hit her.

She realized why Yatsufusa had not responded to her ever since she left Satomi.

It was mostly by the process of elimination here, but she was the leader of Satomi and she had involved herself in politics as their representative. She had established friendly relations with Mogami, she had decided on a path for herself, and she had taken the lead role in reclaiming Satomi.

Yet Yatsufusa still would not move.

But now she understood why.

“I…”

This explained why she was still not on Yoshiyori or her sister’s level. Because…

“I’ve only just arrived at the starting point!”


Konishi saw Righteousness move.

A tracking spell lernen figur opened in front of her.

Catholicism had a lot of stories about the arrival of morning or the seasons and about the coming and going of visitors. That was likely due to Europe’s enclosed regions with harsh winters and the fact that so many of the nations were adjacent to each other. Thus, they had made a lot of advancements in the development of tracking spells developed from the homing spells used for hunting.

As an archer, St. Sebastian had plenty of tracking spells in addition to attack ones.

A lot of information was displayed in front of her eyes: a prediction of her opponent’s movements, a delayed afterimage to better show her opponent’s path, her opponent’s overall center of gravity and balance, etc.

Here she comes.

Righteousness was moving forward. It was positioned quite low and there was a lot of weight behind its momentum.

It was primarily using its leg strength since its flight devices were unreliable in all this heat.

It dug into the dirt, readied its short swords out front, and dove in.

It closed in on Konishi, so she activated a fireball in each hand and launched the left one.

And then the second one after a short pause!

She could see the enemy’s movements.

Righteousness ducked low and accelerated below the fireball flying in from the left.

What Konishi had to do was simple.

That first shot from the left had been to get the enemy to duck below it, so she launched the second one from above while the enemy passed below. And…

“I won’t half-ass it!”

She had gotten the hang of activating the spells and paying for them. The first had a diameter of about 10m, but for the second…

“I’m paying big money!”

The fireball instantly grew to a diameter of about 50m and she threw it toward Righteousness’s path.

She did not beg it to hit because she knew it would hit. So…

“Burn away!!”

She launched it.


Tokishige saw it as she climbed out of the cockpit on broken Integrity’s back.

She could barely move either of her shoulders, her right wrist was broken, and her left shoulder’s tendons were damaged, but her eyes worked just fine and the battlefield of burned-away forest was visible below.

Two familiar gods of war were fighting at the center of those flames.

One was Filial Piety that had been nearby for so long.

It contained pieces of different members of the Eight Dogs and it launched large fireballs. Its use of spells had grown even more impressive than when the original version had been in service.

She must be increasing the base ability with money.

Filial Piety was fighting another god of war: Righteousness.

In the burning night, its blue coloration looked more like black.

Tokishige could tell what was happening in this battle.

Righteousness had just ducked below the first fireball to be launched.

It was trying to move in closer to its enemy.

It was a close-range fighter, so it could not do much of anything without getting close.

That was why the blue silhouette had rushed below the heat. However…

“You idiot!”

The counterattack had already been launched.

Filial Piety launched its second mass of heat.

It was going to land near where Righteousness had rushed in. It was 50m wide, so not even a god of war would escape a direct hit unharmed.

It was going to hit.

Righteousness had ducked below the first one to dodge it, but this second, larger one would score a direct hit.

That giant mass of heat would be shattered upon impact and then the earlier blast would hit the ground.

Or it should have played out that way.

Except it did not.

The first attack was shattered and then the second one was split apart.


Tokishige was confused by the shifted order of impact and bursting.

Huh?

But she did not have time to be trapped by that confusion because the second fireball caused an explosion on the Satomi forest.

“…!”

The fiery light and explosive blast reached her and she could not move her arms very well.

The power had exploded.

Then Tokishige saw a god of war racing beyond the exploded fireball. It was…

“Righteousness!”

It was safe.

It was a good bit farther north than before.

She noticed the two short swords in its hands had changed shape.

The red-hot blades were bent and emitting shimmering heat.

She knew what must have directly caused that change.

“How forceful can you be!? She actually split the first fireball with her two swords and had it launch her!?”


Yoshiyasu felt herself finally recovering from the tension of her previous split-second decision.

That was way too dangerous!

But she was only safe now because of that dangerous decision.

She had predicted that Konishi would make a second attack, so she had put together a plan.

She had decided to destroy the first attack and use its blast to dodge well out of the way.

An artillery shell would have been one thing, but she had never before dealt with a fireball spell.

But she had needed to do it here.

She had used her two short swords.

While ducking below the fireball, she had sent them diagonally up toward it. She had twisted around as if rolling onto her side as she attacked.

It had hit.

The result had been more of a bursting than an explosion.

The god of war had detected her tension and automatically set its sensory speed to the maximum level, so she had been able to see everything that happened from her short swords piercing the fireball to the fireball popping. A fruit-like white mass of heat had appeared and it had swelled out from within until it burst apart.

The scattering explosion had launched Righteousness, giving her even more distance she had expected. She had rolled two or three times along the way, but she had done enough martial arts training to make sure the flight devices never hit the ground.

She had hoped she could land facing Konishi, but…

How did she launch such an enormous fireball!?

That was clearly beyond Filial Piety’s ability.

“Was it money!?”

Damn.

This is why I hate those powerful nations.

I have a hard enough time just staying sane while surrounded by the daily insanity of those weirdos, and now this rich girl is picking a fight with me?

“How dare you!”


Mar-Ga: “What’s she so mad about?”

10ZO: “I imagine it has something to do with money, but we only have that udon couple as a frame of reference there.”

Me: “Man, the Satomi Liberation is taking forever to end. Wanna hunt down another Nagamasa variant?”


Okay, thought Yoshiyasu.

The rich were to blame for everything. That was an extremely motivating thought. She needed that kind of hungry spirit here.

She had arrived quite close to Filial Piety. She had gone the long way around in order to avoid the side effects of that second fireball, but she had made up for it with her swift feet.

Filial Piety used spells. It was not meant for ground battles, so it would take too long for it to turn around and begin a counterattack.

So I need to do this.

She attached her short swords to her hip hard points.

The blades were red hot and bent.

They were still usable, but their edge would have been considerably dulled.

That was partially because they had been made using a metal with good heat conduction in order to keep them lightweight.

Will any companies let me trade these in after the battle?

Selling them as scrap metal might make a little bit of money, so just throwing them out isn’t an option. Wow, when did I become so stingy? Well, I know who’s to blame for that.

“Down with the rich!”

That psyched her up even more.

Filial Piety was turning around and activating some kind of spell with both arms, but it was too slow.

To shoot, it needed to activate the spells, aim, and then fire.

And if it tried to defend, the shield would weigh down whichever arm it was on. She could make her attack before it could raise its defenses.

Righteousness was already prepared to attack.

It had a weapon: the large sword on its back. Drawing that and striking with it in one smooth motion had worked against Houjou Genan.

“Reach it!”

Just as she placed her hand on the sword’s hilt, Righteousness’s high-speed vision saw something. Filial Piety had suddenly raised its left arm.

Huh!?

That left fist moved faster than accelerated Righteousness and it was meant to strike her in the head.

She could not dodge this.

She was rushing in and it was prepared to stop her.

“…!”

They collided.


Tokishige saw what Konishi had thought up.

There was no way spell-focused Filial Piety could keep up with close-quarters-focused Righteousness’s movements. Especially when Righteousness was already up to speed.

Yet it had.

On the fiery battlefield, a quick straight punch with the left fist scored a counterattack on Righteousness.

The blue god of war’s forward momentum caused it to wobble with its chest sticking out and then it came to a stop.

That was a solid blow!

It was unthinkable for spell-focused Filial Piety to fight with martial arts. Yoshiyasu’s familiarity with her opponent must have created a blind spot there.

But where had it gained enough speed to outdo Righteousness?

“She used a body buffing spell on the god of war!”


Chapter 61: Silver Cutter[edit]

Horizon7C 0241.jpg

Finally

Finally

I truly understand this

Point Allocation (Inexperienced)


Konishi was relieved to find one of her tricks had worked.

Artificial muscles were arranged throughout a god of war’s power system. Since they used a biological system to move…

Buffing spells for humans work on them.

Of course, a human casting a spell on it would be nearly meaningless. This spell was only powerful enough because a spell-focused god of war like Filial Piety was casting it.

She could see the effect there before her.

Filial Piety sped up, used the shields on its arms for greater striking power, and launched a counterattack on Righteousness.

When the blow landed, Righteousness lost its strength. The sudden blow to the head had sent noise through its nervous system, shutting out the data being sent to the different body parts.

Adjustments were made soon enough and strength returned to the blue god of war’s entire body almost immediately, but…

“Too slow!”

Konishi had Filial Piety take a step forward. It twisted its right hip forward and struck Righteousness’s face with several right jabs.

Just as many metallic sounds of impact rang out, and…

Left!

After using the jabs to measure the distance, Filial Piety made a left smash upper cut to the enemy’s gut.

Nice!

St. Sebastian can throw a decent punch!

Konishi whistled as Righteousness floated up in front of her. And without a moment’s delay…

“Take this!!”

A right straight flew toward Righteousness’s face.

In that instant, Righteousness moved. It swung its left secondary wing.

“Oh!?”

That secondary wing must have completed its air intake because it used the air to create an explosive blast. Righteousness used that to make a short jump to the right in midair.

It dodged Filial Piety’s fist.


Yoshiyasu let the machine reset her shaken vision.

She mentally suppressed the instinct to “right herself” and let the god of war’s mechanical adjustments take over.

It took a trained god of war pilot to pull off that method of restraint, but…

Damn!

Her entire body was hit by a trembling feeling.

She had been hit good by Filial Piety…or maybe she should call it Filial Piety Mk. II.

None of the Eight Dogs had specialized in martial arts and physical blows like that. After all, they had swords and other weapons and they had to think about aerial combat.

It had caught her entirely by surprise.

It had also done a lot of damage. This was not the kind of damage that accumulated within her, but the repeated blows were too much for the frame and the power system to absorb all at once.

The battle was ongoing, the enemy was nearly unscathed, and she had lost her weapon.

How can I strike back now?

Her high-speed thoughts constructed the strategy she thought was best.

She was still uncertain it would work, but…

I can do this!!

After all, this was the starting point. It was a definite start line to see if she really could catch up with those who came before her.

If she could not stand firm there, everything she had gained in this battle would be proven a lie.

So, she thought while beginning to move. She spread her flight devices within the shimmering air of that hot field.

“Let’s do this!”

She flew forward despite the overheating warnings raised by the flight devices.


Tokishige lost sight of Righteousness.

Wow, it’s fast.

A god of war’s power output did have an upper limit known as the performance limit, but the power output was generally a reflection of the pilot’s physical abilities and how much of those abilities their willpower could draw out.

Willpower was what mattered most.

To prevent loss of control or self-destruction through excessive power usage, the god of war’s OS would read the pilot’s willpower and constantly scan it to determine whether or not their focus and other mental abilities were capable of controlling the god of war’s current performance level.

Righteousness must have arrived near that hard upper limit.

That would only happen maybe a few times during a pilot’s entire career with a particular god of war.

But Filial Piety responded.

It was clearly moving autonomously.

The program based on St. Sebastian’s divine protection allowed it to exist as a living god of war.

Its right fist was thrown as a counterattack.

“Yoshiyasu!”

Just as she shouted, Tokishige predicted the girl’s movement. If she did dodge Filial Piety’s counter attack, she would move…

Right!

There was a wavering of the air to the right. That was the result of a flight device explosion.

But Righteousness was not there.

It had already jumped elsewhere.

Then the center of the fiery field burst with a great roar.

Righteousness’s high-speed movement and subsequent charge had split apart the air as it passed through.

There had only been one opening for a charge within that heat, but Yoshiyasu had taken the step and beaten her opponent to the punch.

“Well done,” muttered Tokishige as she finally managed to sense Righteousness again.

But not with her eyes. She saw the timing of the god of war’s final acceleration along the path she had predicted.

Just before taking that final step to attack, Righteousness raised its flight devices, and…

“Eh?”

Tokishige felt like she had suddenly woken up.

Filial Piety had started to activate spells in both of its arms.


What is it doing? wondered Tokishige.

It was too late now to launch an interception spell.

There was not enough time to activate arrows or fireballs, take aim, and launch them. So…

“Is that…?”

This was something else. Filial Piety was not using a launching spell for arrows or fireballs.

It was using something that would have an effect immediately after activating.

“A field attack spell!!”

You have to be really familiar with the spell activation process to use those high-level spells!

Dodging was pointless, so Tokishige gave a warning after realizing what kind of spell it was.

“Yoshiyasu! Fall back!”

Just then, a large area of space around Filial Piety was split apart.

A field of ether light formed and a certain power appeared within it.

It was not fire.

It was colored white.

“A freezing spell!?”

That spell was the polar opposite of fire and would freeze anything instantly.


“That’s insane.”

Ookubo started to stand up while watching the battle’s progress, but Kanou stopped her.

“Milady, it is too dangerous with the artillery fire.”

“Huh? Oh, sorry, Kanou-kun. But…”

She remained crouched down while viewing the bluish-white space that had formed in the center of southern Bousou.

Until now, that area had been engulfed in flames that illuminated the night from below, but now…

“The ice is reflecting the moonlight and the fires of the aerial battle.”

The fire was gone and everything was instead covered by white frost and ice.

Kanou nodded while lifting her head to view it.

“If you think of fire spells as heat manipulation spells, then freezing spells would be the opposite end of the same spectrum. Thus, Konishi must have used the incendiary spells and fireballs to determine her opponent’s fuel and power levels before spending just as much money on an opposite-end freezing spell for a finishing blow. She also tried expanding the scope of her spells during the battle so she could finally manage this field spell. You could call this the power of money since she used that to buy the Catholic spells,” assessed Kanou. “But she also made use of repeated adlibs to approach this ultimate victory. …You were correct here, milady. This was the result of Konishi’s personal taste.”

“What happened to Righteousness?”

“Judge,” replied Kanou. “The air was frozen just before it was compressed for acceleration, so I have determined the flight devices were damaged by the rapid internal temperature change. Righteousness can no longer fly. Also, the rapid freezing will have caused both gods of war’s power systems, transmission systems, and artificial muscles to contract, so they should need to rapidly thaw themselves and reboot. However…”

“However?”

“Filial Piety has canceled some of that out using a buffering spell. Righteousness on the other hand…”

At the center of that frozen land, Filial Piety had taken a pose like it was collapsing onto its right shoulder. It was slowly but forcefully striking Righteousness.

Filial Piety almost looked like it was brushing aside a clinging arm. In front of it, Righteousness was still holding its two short swords in a backhand grip, and…

“So she didn’t make it.”

It collapsed onto the icy ground while its flight devices were audibly destroyed.


Konishi let out a white breath and wiped the sweat from her brow.

Damn, she’s stubborn.

Even the sleeve touching her skin had frost on it and the air inside it was frigid.

She was glad she had her merchant’s hat, but she also wondered what would have happened to her without the buffering and heat preservation divine protections she had used in advance.

She was also aware of the state of Filial Piety’s different parts.

The buffering spell had kept any of them from fully freezing. The flight devices were still functional too. However, the power system and artificial muscles would require defrosting and thawing, so she gave approval for automatic divine protection processing.

She took a breath.

“That was one hell of a battle. But…”

She let out a long white breath and brushed a hand through her stiff hair.

She looked directly at Righteousness where it was collapsed in front of her.

“I suppose this means I was even more stubborn.”


Now, then.

Konishi spoke in her heart to change her train of thought.

Filial Piety could move. Full mobility would take some time, but she could manage in the time it took to leave this icy stage.

The rest was simple. The enemy no longer had any ground forces that could pose a threat to Filial Piety.

So she could crush as many enemy gods of war and ground units as she could in order to stop the Satomi Liberation.

“Thank goodness.”

She had managed to cancel out her mistake. She only had to hold out until Hashiba arrived, but…

“I should be able to manage that.”

She looked to the western sky.

The Azuchi would be appearing in the far distance there any time now. However…

“Hey,” said a sudden voice from her left. “Don’t get distracted.”

A silver light was thrust out in front of her along a sharp course.

A blade!?

She dodged it so barely that it shattered the lernen figur next to her face, but she managed to see who had run up on top of Filial Piety’s shoulder to attack her.

“Satomi Yoshiyasu!”


Naomasa smiled on the shoulder of the vermilion god of war seated atop the dark ridge.

“Honestly.” She placed a hand on her forehead and breathed kiseru smoke from her mouth. “When did that strict stickler for the fundamentals learn to pull off tricks like that?”

She had been observing the progress on the battlefield this whole time.

If it came to it, I would’ve had to go and stop them even with a leg missing.

But it had not come to that.

When Filial Piety had activated that freezing field, Yoshiyasu had immediately canceled her link with the god of war.

Then she had jumped outside without any hesitation.

“Yes, she’s a strict stickler for the fundamentals. Which means…”

She had something prepared.

“God of wars fight at high altitudes and she’s currently living on the Musashi that flies high in the sky. If you’re thrown out into the air, you’ll find yourself in frigid region of more than 30 degrees below freezing.”

Of course, they had known this would primarily be a ground battle, so there had been no need to keep something like this on hand.

But she’s the kind of person who brought emergency equipment with her to Houjou and ended up using it in the hot spring.

She made sure she was as prepared as possible.

So she had done the same this time.

That area had grown frigid, but her emergency supplies had been enough to cover it.

Righteousness could barely move, but Yoshiyasu had gotten it to move as if clinging to Filial Piety.

She had not attempted to engage it in martial arts.

She had used its outstretched arm as a bridge so she could climb onto Filial Piety herself. So…

“What will you do now?”

Naomasa saw Yoshiyasu raise her sword, but…

“Ha ha.”

Filial Piety forcibly swung its body and threw that small form from its shoulder.

As Naomasa expected, the blade had not reached the enemy. However…

“That’s a pretty good plan. You thought this one through. Great decision, Satomi Yoshiyasu.”


For a moment, Konishi could not control her rapid breathing.

What the hell!?

She had thought god of war pilots were generally the indoor type, yet this girl had just done something more like a Strike Forcer. However…

“You can’t reach me now!”

Satomi Yoshiyasu had landed at Filial Piety’s feet. She held a sword and stood silently on the white ground there.

“–––––”

Yoshiyasu readied her sword.

Meaningless, thought Konishi.

Filial Piety could move, albeit imperfectly, so what did this girl hope to accomplish all on her own?

“You’re dumber than I thought!”

She showed no mercy. The futures of nations were riding on this battle.

Konishi had Filial Piety raise its arm. The power system had not recovered enough to use a spell, but its strength and speed were greater than that of a human.

And as Filial Piety began to swing its arm, Konishi saw something from atop the shoulder.

It was Righteousness.

The god of war had collapsed with its limbs sprawled narrowly out. It was frozen and pilotless, so it could not move.

Or so she thought, but she saw otherwise out of the corner of her eye.

What!?

It was clearly moving and trying to get up. Plus, its joints had almost entirely unfrozen.


How!?

Konishi viewed Righteousness.

It was probably moving autonomously because its movements were much like Filial Piety’s.

But all the frost had thawed from its frozen body and it could even move its fingers. Filial Piety had used a buffering spell, yet even it had not recovered that much.

What did she have prepared?

She saw something just as she wondered that.

Two short swords were sticking out from Righteousness’s sides.

Those were the weapons it had held in a backhand grip while charging at her. She had assumed those two blades were useless after overheating from the fireballs, but…

“Ah.”

It hit her. Since those blades were made of lightweight metal, they were good conductors of heat. So…

Did she stab them into the ground?

Her suspicion was confirmed when she saw the blades had gouged long lines into the ground. Those lines followed the path the god of war had taken when it collapsed.

Shimmering heat rose from those gouged lines.

“Geothermal energy.”

Konishi had created a freezing field, but this area had been hit with several rounds of heat beforehand.

The surface of the earth had frozen, but most of it still contained great heat.

So by stabbing the blades deep enough, they had exposed that subterranean heat, and…

“You brought the underground heat to your god of war through the swords you held, didn’t you!?”

Oh, no, thought Konishi. Several conditions and pieces were gathering in her mind to form something dangerous.

But the enemy did not wait for her to finish that process. Righteousness was standing up now. And it pulled its hips back, placed one knee on the ground, and moved both arms behind its back.

Is it grabbing that sword?

In front of her, she saw Satomi Yoshiyasu taking the same pose.

Kh!

Konishi tried to put some distance between them. She stopped her raised arm and tried to use the flight devices, but…

“–––––––”

The lernen figur to control them was missing.

No, it had disappeared earlier, so it was trying to reappear now.

She knew why: Yoshiyasu’s previous attack.

Yoshiyasu’s objective had never been to defeat her.

Her objective was to destroy Filial Piety and the other stolen gods of war used to reconstruct it and to achieve victory.

Konishi thought. She was a merchant. And her method was to take in as many things as possible and use those pieces to adlib her way to the best possible victory.

Yes. That was her way. It had always led her to victory before.

But what about now?

Filial Piety could not move properly and she could not operate the flight devices since their control lernen figur had not finished restarting.

But there was one solution here.

Its arm.

She had already raised that to attack.

The enemy had only just placed its hands on the sword on its back.

Filial Piety’s attack would be faster and heavier, so…

“Crush them!”

Konishi threw Filial Piety’s right arm toward Righteousness.

It was a high-speed straight punch.

But as soon as Filial Piety put its hips into it and threw its arm from the shoulder, she saw something.

Yoshiyasu had rushed in with a light step, drew the blade from her back, and swung it down and forward.

She did so on the white ground that reflected the moonlight.

Oh.

For a brief moment, Konishi’s eyes were drawn to that.

She watched that small body seemed to stretch forward as it swung down the weapon with all its might.

She zoned out somewhat at what she saw happening before her eyes.

Meanwhile, the same movement arrived from up ahead.

Righteousness drew its sword and struck Filial Piety’s right-handed punch.


The blade moved swiftly for just an instant.

Righteousness’s sword did not go for a powerful strike against Filial Piety’s punch.

It simply touched everything past the sword’s guard against Filial Piety’s shield fist as if aligning the two of them.

Instead of pushing, it pulled down.

Thus, the metal blade silently twisted the armor it came in contact with and made it slip away.

By then, the blade was already inside the armor.

It had not split or cut it.

It had inserted itself inside the mass of metal with only its sharp edge and its movements.

And it did not stop there.

The blade was about 8m to the tip. The sword used the blade’s curve to gracefully enter the powerful arm from the end and slice gently but directly through the interior.

There was no sound as the power system and joints were divided in two from arm to elbow and elbow to shoulder.

The blade continued onward almost like it was being honed.

Finally, it arrived at Filial Piety’s side and passed from its stomach to its crotch.

“––––––”

Every last movement was traced out by Yoshiyasu standing at Filial Piety’s feet.

Righteousness read every little movement and pause she made and accurately emulated it.

“Okay.”

Righteousness pulled its hips back a bit and dropped the tip of the blade into the open air.

It stopped.

The blade had already completed all of the actions meant for it.

Yoshiyasu and Righteousness both stood in the pose of a completed downward swing.

Then something occurred in front of or above them.

Filial Piety had been stopped in its punching pose, but now its left half shifted out of place and slid away.

The scraping of metal was as shrill as chirping bugs.

Below the moonlight and above the frosty summer ground reflecting that light, a bisected god of war collapsed while a girl and her god of war slowly stood up.

They both sheathed their swords and lowered their arms to their sides.

“The enemy commander, Konishi Yukinaga, has been defeated!”

Her roar echoed across the nighttime battlefield.


Chapter 62: Priests on the Mountain[edit]

Horizon7C 0261.jpg

An iron wind

And steel lightning

Delivered by

A couple’s love

-Tachibana Gin

Point Allocation (Having Fun)


Konishi Yukinaga was the representative of the Hashiba ground forces.

News of her defeat in a god of war battle quickly spread to all the different forces.

It even reached those not involved in the Kantou Liberation.

“I see.”

A figure nodded in Houjou which was completing the work needed to receive acknowledgment of their nation’s demise.

This person was west of the battlefield on Houjou land, close to where it all began.

In a landport on the outskirts of Odawara, Houjou Genan viewed the PR Committee’s report on the Kantou Liberation. The Mouri fleet that had filled the sky to east a few hours ago had grown considerably shorter.

The fires of the battle had been visible with the naked eye until the Miura Peninsula had been taken, but that was no longer possible. All he could see were the faintly colored sky and some lights resembling fishing fires.

But the text gave him accurate information.

He narrowed his eyes, cleared his throat, and then laughed.

Super Uncle: “Hey, Ujiteru. Have you seen the report?”

Uji-Terr: “Huhhhhhhh!? I’m busy frying up this eggplant, old maaaaaaaaaaaaan!”

Super Uncle: “I am glad to hear you are making good use of your time. …Satomi Yoshiyasu won her battle.”

Uji-Terr: “I doooooooooon’t caaaaaaaaaaaaaare! What’s it matter if some super, duper weakling wiiiiiiiiiiiins!? Was it another ground baaaaaaaaaaaaattle!?”

It was incredible how that man managed to focus on what mattered here.

Genan cleared his throat again before continuing.

Super Uncle: “It was the same as when she defeated me. She used the sword technique she learned from Satomi Yoshiyori.”

In other words…

Super Uncle: “Satomi’s sword is an equal of both Houjou and Hashiba.”

Uji-Terr: “Huhhhhhhhhhhhh!? You getting into some senti-little-mentalism herrrrrrrrrrre!? You starting having flashbacks about your liiiiife!? Well, old geezer!?”

Super Uncle: “Try to show some respect for your elders.”

Uji-Terr: “Sure thing, Venerable Old Geezer!”

Super Uncle: “You can be rude or polite but not both, you moron.”

Uji-Terr: Moron!? You wound meeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Anyone who takes one look at you will see you’re an old geeeeeeeeeeeeeeezer! But whether or not someone thinks I’m a moron depends on what I’m doing when they see meeeeeeeeee! IIIII’m honeeeeeeeest!”

Super Uncle: “So tell me this: what are you doing right now?”

Uji-Terr: “Using my 2.5m maid body’s four arms to fry up some tempuraaaaa! I made sure to do my makeup and made sure to where a cap and mask, but now you can’t even see the makeuuuuup! Here’s a photoooooooo! Lookit that griiiiiiin! Make sure you worship that pretty archaic smile that’s definitely behind that mask therrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!”

And after a two second pause….

Uji-Terr: “It’s Uji-Terrific!”

Super Uncle: “I was right. You are a moron.”

Uji-Terr: “Hey, don’t judge a book by it’s coverrrrrrr! You scuuuuuuuuuum!”

Super Uncle: “Just listen, you scum.”

Uji-Terr: “What is iiiiiiiiiiiit!?”

“Well, you see,” said Genan.

Super Uncle: “A nuisance has arrived.”

He looked up and back into the western sky. The darkness of the night was still in that direction as a giant shadow began to appear there.

It sounded more like a tremor of the air than a roar.

“That would be the Azuchi. It should arrive just barely in time for the Kantou Liberation,” said Genan while viewing his surroundings.

Several large forms stood on the landport that had all its lights off for the night.

He viewed them before saying more.

“Now, the ground forces need to work hardest, but the struggle in the sky matters too. Every second counts here.”


“It should be our turn soon, milady.”

Kanou heard powerful explosions shaking the air and the forest.

“The fourth ironclad ship is about to fall, isn’t it?” said Ookubo.

“Judge. Milady, what direction do you think the battle as a whole is headed?”

“Well, Kuki should start moving his fleet soon. Because at the current pace, the Azuchi will only just barely arrive in time from the west, if it arrives in time at all.”

A shot from the enemy base landed beyond the slope they were leaning back against. Clumps of dirt and pieces of underbrush and trees were blown into the air like a spray, so Ookubo focused outwards just enough to pull her stole over her head.

She was currently viewing the sign frame by her hands.

“Murakami-san should still be effective against the aerial fleet. Whatever they might do, he will figure something out. The Murakami Navy is stubborn like that,” she said. “We may be short on time, so we need to stubbornly stick to it too.”

“Milady, what is your plan?”

“After shooting down that many enemy ships, the escaped crews will gather on the coast and then search for somewhere to evacuate to. In other words, they will want to reach the base.” Ookubo pulled up a map of the Satomi base. “It has been fortified with defense barriers and it has limited entrances. They will probably want to move to the south end opposite of us, but the artillery fire from the sky is thickest to the south. Same for the east. So…”

“Will they use the north gate?”

“Judge. That is a port city and Satomi had a landport there, so the north gate is either the back entrance or a smaller entrance for ground trade and forestry goods. But that is why it is the ideal entrance for this sort of thing.”

The map showed the north gate’s structure as viewed from above.

“Satomi is a small nation, but they have long fought against other nations. The north gate has a wall nearby to prevent anyone from directly firing on it.”

“I see the gate’s interior has a triple structure to prevent anyone from getting too far in even if a mix of enemies and allies rushes in. Of course, that means they would end up sending arrows pouring down on enemy and ally alike.”

“Still, we need to take this base if we hope to end this battle.” Ookubo pushed the word “progress” forward on the sign frame. “Their defenses must be fortified like crazy, but that creates an opening. We figure out when the enemy will be arriving there and we move in. We sent a unit out ahead earlier, didn’t we? Have them prepare.”


The warriors fortifying the Satomi base’s defenses decided on their roles once they learned of Tokishige and Konishi’s defeats.

They had two jobs.

The first was to support the withdrawal of those trying to escape through the base’s eastern entrance.

The second was to hold the defensive line until Hashiba arrived.

“If you are willing to stay and fight, please do so! If you would prefer to withdraw, head to the eastern entrance!”

The withdrawal support continued while they welcomed in those who were entering through the north gate to seek refuge.

The north gate was undergoing some long-distance artillery fire, but they had yet to see the enemy in the forest at the other side of the grassy field.

“Now’s your chance! If you can get here, then hurry it up!”

Most of those arriving from the western forest were the crews of the fallen ships. They had been inside the ships during the battle, so their weariness was more psychological than physical. Most of them had the same request.

“Give us time for a quick nap. Thirty minutes of compressed sleep and we’ll be good as new!”

“Hold on. Nowhere around here is safe or quiet!”

“Then tell us where we won’t be in the way!”

They went to get a brief rest while those already in the base gave them blankets, water, and…

“Here, take this.”

“Who’s cooking takoyaki?”

“The food was delivered by Konishi-sama. Get some sleep, eat some food, and come on back. Once you’ve eaten the same food as us, you’re one of us!”

“That’s a pretty heavy breakfast. And why isn’t there any octopus inside when this base is right on the coast!?”

“Quit eating them and get to sleep!”

Meanwhile, some enemies came into view near the north gate.

But they had all known that their second job, holding the defensive line, would not be easy.

“Hey! Should we get that gate closed soon!?”

“Close the inner two! Keep the front gate open because a group that crashed earlier is headed this way!”

Their allies could only join them by passing below the umbrella of artillery fire being launched from the base.

Those on the south did not spare any shells when firing on the enemy arriving from the north. This night and this moment were what mattered. They needed to go at it like they were planning to use up their entire stockpile of ammunition.

That barrage kept the enemy from approaching, so their allies to the west could slip below it to reach them.

However, there was one big “but” on all their minds.

What happened if the enemy managed to get inside that barrage?

“What does happen then?”

“There’s no point in considering it,” someone said while loading a shell into a cannon. “If the enemy was inside our barrage, then why haven’t they attacked us yet?”

“Well…”

“And hundreds of our people have arrived from those fallen ships. If the enemy was inside our barrage, there would have been some fighting on the way here.”

Meanwhile, some artillery fire reached the base.

It came from the enemy god of war unit. Defense barriers opened and loudly shattered.

The shells were fired nearly horizontally and were moving even faster than before, but…

“They can’t break through our wall!”

The defenders were correct. The shells changed form from the impact and crashed into the wall. However, one of them was blocked by the defense barrier field placed around the city walls.

“Testament!”

And it fell.

The other artillery fire on the ground and in the sky was too loud to hear the shell rolling. The base had located the god of war unit and was returning fire. Those on the wall already had silencing spell lernen figurs over their ears. They exchanged a glance and displayed their words on their lernen figurs.

“How do you like my silencing spells! I used custom lernen figurs so they’d look like cat ears!”

“Yeah, that’s pretty bold!”

“Right!? I haven’t put this much effort into it since the school arts festival when I was a kid!”

“Incoming shell!”

They acted on reflex, crushed it, and returned fire. The enemy fire accomplished nothing. For one thing…

“The enemy can no longer concentrate their fire like when they penetrated that light warship earlier. They lost one of their god of war units and that vermilion god of war can’t come here. Even if they do try to concentrate their fire, the power should be too weak to break through.”

“And we don’t have to worry about an attack from above since Konishi-sama and that Satomi girl took out the enemy’s flight-capable gods of war.”

So…

“We only have to worry about the enemy trying to charge us. Most likely…”

“Hey!”

One of the people on divine transmission relay duty displayed words on a lernen figur to be understood despite the cacophony of shellfire.

“The group trying to reach us for shelter is being pursued by some enemy warriors. Have fun with that!”

“Don’t act like it’s not your problem too!!”


Those being pursued ran through the forest as quick as their legs would carry them.

The forest was dark and their footing was, unsurprisingly, poor.

“Hurry anyway!”

They would sometimes come across a small path used by the locals, but those presented their own problems.

They needed to travel along the shortest route to their destination, not the safe detours provided by those small paths.

They had to reach the base.

But they could not arrive along with the Musashi force pursuing them.

Support fire flew by overhead. That was coming from the base, but those in the base did not know where they were in the forest. The shells landed far behind them, passing above the approaching Musashi force as well.

“Damn!”

M.H.R.R. had trained more than Musashi when it came to moving through forests.

And the M.H.R.R. group was withdrawing from a crashed ship, so they had more stamina remaining than the Musashi group that had been fighting a ground battle.

Yet they could not pull away from them.

The reason why was obvious when they saw who was leading their pursuers.

Some of them could move through the dark forest with speeds rivalling the M.H.R.R. group’s.

“Damn!” shouted one of those to the rear after looking back. “They have Mouri warriors guiding them!”

The pursuing enemy vanguard raised a cry as if in response.

“Hyahahhh!!”

The enemy was lined up and taking large leaps across the dips and hills of the forest ground. They all held clubs and bats and they announced who they were.

“The Hexagone Française Gallican Mountain Regiment has arrived!”


“Hyahahhhh! Good morning! This is a wakeup call from the Gallicans!”

That group with crosses hanging from the rosaries around their necks were upperclassman foot travelers. They wore French boy’s uniforms modified to look like priest’s habits, but they wore spiked shoulder pads and feather decorations on top of that.

The masked leader raised his voice while being carried by a group of three others.

“It is the year 16XX and the mountains are enveloped in Apocalyptic devastation, leading to rapid depopulation!”

“Hell yeah!” the others shouted along with him.

“But that means two wins is enough to reach the nationals, so it’s weirdly helpful at times!”

“Let us proceed, my fellow priests!”

“Hell yeah!”

They all ran onward. They exchanged a glance while striking their weapons together.

“Good morning!”

Catholics revered the morning. No matter what misfortune, terror, or difficulty they faced, the dawn would always arrive.

“So our duty is to announce the morning’s arrival to the source of our troubles!”

“Indeed! Our duty is to provide a reforming strike as a wakeup call!”

“Our duty is to always say good morning!”

They all breathed in and raised their voices as one.

“Testament!”

With that, they activated their spells.

It was based on a Buddhist preaching spell but with a Catholic spell applied on top.

“Yes, Buddhism also seeks to purify evil in the dawn’s light using the purifying power of Vairocana!”

“And our leader is the nudist sun!”

“Thus, we have successfully combined Buddhism and Catholicism!”

“That is our form of Gallicanism!”

“For inquiries, please call at 1-800-SUN-BUDH. That’s 1-800-SUN-BUDH. Our logo is the rising Roi-Soleil. Got that, M.H.R.R.!?”

“Dammit! Why are these rural groups always the craziest!?”

The M.H.R.R. warriors looked back at their pursuers and spoke up while they ran.

“Hey! Can I ask one thing!?”

“Ask away! We pride ourselves in being more openminded that any other group, so we shall respond in a calm and composed fashion! …Now, what is your question!?”

“Well,” said the M.H.R.R. warrior. “Aren’t you heretics!?”

All of the pursuers answered as one.

“Take that one out first!!”

“Really!? No hesitation at all!? And what happened to being openminded!?”

“Ha ha ha.” The pursuers sped up and brandished their weapons. “Hyahahhhh!”

They raced through the forest in pursuit of their prey.

“Good morning! The dawn fast approaches!”


In the Satomi base, they returned fire on the enemy god of war unit and confirmed their allies were approaching. The rumbling in the forest to the west was growing closer.

“Hey, here they come! And that’s the Gallican Mountain Regiment behind them!”

“Damn, those freaks train up their legs by running around the coastal desert region and visiting all the unmanned carriage stations in the forest and mountain regions! Don’t underestimate them!”

The gunshots were to be expected, but for some reason, they could also hear the sounds of armor being struck and of vocally-mimicked mechanical horse exhaust sounds.

While the shells landed on either side, they were firing god of war pseudo-anti-ship rounds nearly horizontally, but the voiced sound effects from the forest only continued to grow.

“Neigh! Neighhhhhh! Brrrr! Claaaaaaaaaaaaang!”

“Snort, snort, snorrrrrrrt! Neighhhhhh!”

“Palalalalalala! Palalila, palalila, papuuuuu! Neigh, neigh, neigh, neigh!”

They all exchanged a glance while the shards of defense barriers surrounded them.

“Dammit! That’s cringey as hell!”

“And they don’t have to worry about anyone seeing them doing it since they’re hiding in the forest!”

“Does their city not have a shop that sells mid-sized or bigger mechanical horses!? Is this what they think they sound like!?”

While they all groaned curses at their enemy, someone rushed across the border between forest and plain.

Someone had arrived.

Everyone gasped when they saw those people wearing forest travel ponchos. When these new arrivals noticed the people at the base, they waved and shouted while still running.

“Hey! Prepare to close the gate!”

“Anyone behind you!?”

The group in the forest ran out all at once.

“Did you lose them!?”

“Partially!”

Those who had escaped ran toward the base.

The front of the group closed in on the base, with about a hundred following behind them.

“We’re saved!”

Just then, another group burst out of the forest.

This new group was several hundred strong. They were the ones pursuing the leading group.


The defenders on the wall of Satomi’s base saw the pursuing group run out from the forest.

“There they are!”

They all aimed their rifles or cannons to protect their approaching allies, but that second group suddenly gave a shout.

“Hey!”

The shout was directed at the defenders on the wall. They had a message for them.

“That’s the enemy!!”


“So they noticed,” Ookubo muttered while leaning against the rocky slope to avoid the artillery fire. “Well, at least they managed to get within 120m of the base first.”

She pushed forward the “progress” text on her sign frame.

“The assault unit did well.”

“Judge. They deserve praise for moving out ahead like Yagyuu-sama and arriving so close to the base while avoiding the enemy.”

Kanou displayed their movement on a sign frame while making a show of relief.

They had sent in a commando unit separate from their god of war unit and main unit. That unit had been sent ahead for this purpose when the enemy ship fell and Konishi set up the barrier of fire.

Their mission had been simple:

“They had to approach the base instead of attacking the enemy trying to reach the base.”

Instead, they had prepared a new pursuit unit to attack those enemies from behind, trapping them between the assault unit and pursuit unit.

By timing it right, the assault unit could arrive at the enemy base first without the enemy noticing. If the assault unit then hid their identity…

“The base would mistake them for their own allies.”

That was exactly what had happened.

The base would have received word that their approaching allies were being pursued from behind and an especially rowdy Mouri group had been chosen for that pursuit so it could plainly be heard from the base.

“If a lot of noise is what you need, then look no further!” the Mouri group had insisted and they had proven that to be even truer than she had imagined.

But that is fine, she thought with a sigh.

The assault unit had managed to get very close. And the pursuers…

“Hyahahhhhh!”

They too rushed toward the base.


The Satomi base made the right decision.

“Close the north gate!”

Their allies were trapped between two enemy units, but they could not allow the enemy’s assault unit to get in.

So they sent a divine transmission to their allies rushing this way. It provided a new route that passed right by the west of the base and circled all the way around to the eastern noncombat zone.

They did not have time to provide any more help than that. Because…

“Protect the north gate!”

The enemy assault unit rushed in. The Gallicans followed behind them, but they were no longer pursuing the M.H.R.R. group. Instead, they opened defense barriers to protect the assault unit.

“Heyyyy! Open up! Open up! It’s morning!”

“Why in the world would we open up!?”

The defenders fired on the approaching enemy.

The personal defense barriers shattered and bullets audibly ricocheted off of armor.

Yet the enemy was undefeated and continued rushing in.

“Almost there!”

They ran across that 120m distance.

The north gate was about 10m wide, and…

“…!”

They arrived. But just then…

“Loooock!!”

The north gate closed. It was a double gate with one that closed from the sides and a reinforced one that dropped from above.

The two gates were made of hardened wood, but they had already been given a defense barrier field using a divine protection. They closed and became another part of the city wall.

“Did you really think we’d let you in!?”

The defenders shouted down at the enemy while also aiming their guns and cannons that way.

All of a sudden, a powerful blow slammed into the north gate.

The two remaining god of war snipers had fired shells that hit the north gate simultaneously.


“How about that!?” asked the Musashi assault unit regarding the double shell hit.

A great roar erupted from directly in front of them.

All of them, and even the enemy on the wall, hurried to adjust their sensory divine protections.

Then the Musashi assault unit viewed the enemy defense barriers opened in front of them.

They were Catholic and there had probably been five of them opened over that 10m area.

Two of them still remained.

“That wasn’t enough to destroy them all!?”

Their gods of war had pulled off the double shell hit flawlessly, but it had failed to reach the north gate.


A few of the defenders on the wall sighed.

Those sighs could be seen as signs of relief or simply a release from extreme tension. However, the sighers immediately took action.

“Destroy them!”

They all looked down at the enemy in front of the north gate. That enemy stood below the light of shattered defense barriers, but there were still two surviving ones in front of them.

“Fall back!!” they shouted.

It’s too late for that, thought the defenders as they took aim. Besides, where are you going to fall back to?

However…

“Hm?”

The enemy force parted in front of the north gate, leaving two ponchoed figures remaining in the center.

These two were not strictly part of the assault unit.

The shorter of the two stood in front of the other and calmly lowered their hips.

They seemed entirely at ease despite being right at the current flashpoint of the battlefield.

Their poncho floated up and fluttered away.

The removed cloth revealed someone in a Far Eastern girl’s uniform. She had two giant prosthetic arms.

“Tachibana Gin!”


Gin nodded and made an announcement.

“Judge. Allow me to finish this off for you all.”

Something was ejected from space by her right side.

It was the long cannon named Cuatro Cruz.

She held it low at her hip while the other figure behind her threw aside his poncho too.

“Master Muneshige.”

He was already holding Kamenuki vertically with its butt end jabbed into the ground.

It was positioned so the middle of the shaft would hold back Cuatro Cruz’s recoil.

The end of the red cannon was placed directly against one of the two remaining defense barriers.

“Two to go,” said Gin. “Plus the defense barriers built into the city wall itself. I do not know how much this will destroy and I can only speculate.”

The defenders on the wall called for a renewed counterattack and aimed their guns and cannons that way, but Gin’s eyes sharply narrowed before they could act.

“But with this point-blank-range blast, I will use this as a siege weapon for the first time.”

She then addressed “Master Muneshige”.

“I will fire twice on the defense barriers, four times on the north gate, and then thrice to break through the inner gates. Please take control of the inside afterwards.”

“Judge. Go ahead, Gin.”

“Judge.” She nodded. “Tear into it, Cuatro Cruz.”


After 9 violent blasts, light erupted into the sky on the south end of the Bousou Peninsula.

It came from the Satomi base held by Hashiba there. The defense barriers surrounding it had shattered.

At the same time, the horizontal fire from the north struck the city wall that was now no more than wood.

The logs audibly split and broke while so much ether light shattered around them.

Alarms blared and voices shouted all across the Satomi base.

“Stop them!” shouted one side of the conflict.

“Go!” shouted the other side.

The momentum of the charge deflected the gunshots, slipped past the shells, and said more.

“Go and end this!”


“The ground base is falling!?”

Kuki gnashed his teeth at what he was hearing about the base down on Bousou.

A report had just come in saying an initial frenzied battle had begun within the surface base.

As for his fleet battle up in the air…

“We are on the defensive.”

He knew there was no chance of going on the offensive anymore.

Losing some of the ironclad ships had hurt a lot.

Counting the one that blew up on the ground earlier, they had lost three. That left 6 total.

There was a single reason why they had lost three of those sturdy ships in quick succession.

The enemy’s wheel formation had arrived much too close from the east. The ironclad ships were being hit by shellfire from not just the front of the wheel formation but the rest of it as well.

That proximity makes this difficult.

He had rotated a few ships and lines diagonally to try to get a good angle of fire, but the back end of the wheel formation could still target them. And the long elliptical path of the wheel formation’s rear end provided a lot more concentrated fire than the front.

This was bad.

He had ultimately been forced to move the other warships and light warships to fire on the wheel formation from the side. However…

Will they arrive in time!?

If only we could fall back to the west, he thought.

A wheel formation could not move quickly once it had been formed. Horizontal movement was especially difficult.

If he could fall back to the west while zigzagging to tear apart the enemy formation, he could put some distance between them.

But, he thought.

“That would mean approaching Mogami.”

The Yamagata Castle was hovering in the western sky.

It had to be within effective firing range, but it had yet to attack

Had it never intended to attack? He had no way of testing that now, so…

We must fight a defensive battle.

They had to defend against the wheel formation without moving west. That meant…

“Attention all ships,” he said. “We will now split our fleet to the north and south!”


“That’s what he’s going with, huh?”

Terumoto realized what Kuki was doing with his ships.

Kuki’s fleet split down the middle in the eastern sky.

It split between north and south.

The ironclad ships at the center of his fleet had been reduced to six, so they split into two groups of three and withdrew to the north and south where they created a new formation.

That would create two separate lines of ships using the ironclad ships as a barrier.

“He’s buying time,” said Terumoto.

She was answered by Mouri-01 who nodded on a signe cadre.

“Now that Konishi Yukinaga has lost and their base’s walls have been breached, it is possible that the Hashiba forces will fully withdraw from the Satomi base. Lady Ookubo’s negotiations have already established that the Bousou Peninsula ground forces and the aerial fleets cannot engage each other, but at this point, Kuki’s fleet has likely decided they should position themselves to rescue the ground forces later instead of defending them now.”

“What does that mean?”

“They intend to flee. I expect Kuki’s fleet will continue to fall back along the peninsula’s coast until Hashiba arrives. But if they simply fled, it would be treated as a ‘withdrawal’. So they should continue to fire as they do so.”

She was right. The split enemy fleet slowly fell back while firing.

What a pain.

Had they abandoned their pride as a powerful nation?

They knew they would ultimately emerge victorious if they could keep this up until Hashiba arrived.

And, indeed, that hope was already visible in the western sky.

The Azuchi was there.

The six giant ships there would be the same threat the people of Satomi and Edo saw a few months earlier.

The symbol of Hashiba’s earlier invasion was now arriving from the west.

It was a lot closer than expected, so Terumoto crossed her arms.

“Mouri-01.”

“What is it, Princess?”

“Are you doing what must be done?”

“I am working on our next move as we speak. It is important not to rush things,” said Mouri-01 with a hint of a smile in her voice. “Please watch this, Princess. Your fleet will now respond to Kuki’s fleet.”


Chapter 63: Ring Deployer[edit]

Horizon7C 0289.jpg

Roarrrrrrrr!

Splaaaaaaash!

Vweeerrrrr!

Point Allocation (Kani’s Mental Sound Effects)


Magoichi returned fire from the northern half of the split fleet.

She stood on the deck of a warship on the lower end of the fleet. It was positioned to fire on the enemy ships from below, so she was looking up at the Mouri fleet.

The wind blew in from behind because they were falling back to put distance between themselves and the enemy.

I wish there was a good way of spreading out the enemy attacks.

On Kuki’s orders, all of the ships had positioned themselves with the ironclad ships as their rear guard while the southern ships fell back to the tip of Bousou and the northern ones fell back to the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay.

There were specific instructions for each variety and position of the ships, but that would be due to all the rookies in the fleet. That was exactly the kind of consideration she was used to seeing from Kuki.

But the enemy was pursuing them.

And the enemy continued to fire.

While she returned fire, she saw the enemy’s front line swell out as they began pursuing the north and south groups separately.

They had been slow to respond at first, but now they were pursuing and firing on Kuki’s fleet.

This is going well, she thought. The enemy was starting to split between north and south. The idea was to reduce the density of the enemy shells and use the newly gained distance as a shield to reduce the damage taken. One half of the fleet might be destroyed, but Hashiba was sure to arrive in Kantou before the other half was as well.

“And we can see her already!”

The Azuchi was producing white spray in the western sky as it accelerated.

That was the same ship that had driven Musashi to the north and demonstrated Hashiba’s might in Kantou before.

This was the final pressure placed on the shoulders of the enemy.

And it was the final support for Kuki’s fleet.

They won as long as they could hold out until the Azuchi arrived.

It seems the enemy has already won on the ground.

The Satomi base below had gone almost entirely dark with only the occasional flash of gunfire or sparks.

It was a frenzy of battle on the inside, but once the important positions were taken, the M.H.R.R. troops would have to withdraw. Plus, the enemy had name inheritors there. Once those warriors knew they had the advantage, they would make a powerful charge.

Kuki’s fleet could no longer rely on the ground forces. So it all comes down to us, thought Magoichi.

They did have one advantage.

“We have a commander!”

They had Kuki.

His instructions were directing the fleet’s movement and actions.

Everyone else needed to rely on that now. Those instructions told them what they could do to hold out until Hashiba arrived.

The instructions changed from moment to moment, but Magoichi was thankful for that.

Directions from a commander was a definite strength. Because…

“The enemy has no commander. They were only directed up to the deployment of that wheel formation.” She continued firing on and damaging the Mouri fleet. “But without a commander, they can’t fluidly respond to Kuki-kun’s instructions.”

She sent out Yatagarasu, tore into the lead enemy ship, and blew away its armor.

The ship fled to the left as if looking aside.

She did not pursue the escaping ship.

You don’t move to the side if you want to leave the front line.

That would block the view and movements of the ships behind them.

Was that another symptom of lacking a commander?

“If the enemy fleet is in disarray, then this is our chance!”

She collected Yatagarasu, spun it around in her arms, and sent it soaring into the sky once more. Then she prepared to fire on an enemy ship moving up to the front line.

But she received a sudden divine transmission from the two Ten Spears in the southern sky.

AnG: “Move the fleet faster! Like way faster!”

Huh? she thought as that warning displayed on an insha kotob next to her face.

Kimee: “We think the enemy is finally responding to your movements. No, they’ve completed their response!”


Yoshiaki heard Angie’s voice.

“This might be bad.”

When she said something like that, she was usually right. So this was bad.

Their distance gave them a unique vantage point that revealed something about the Mouri fleet’s movements.

For Kuki’s split fleet, it probably looked like the entire enemy fleet was pursuing them.

And it was true the Mouri fleet was splitting to north and south while ascending and pursuing the enemy.

However, the view from above revealed something different. And to confirm that…

Nabe3: “This is Nabeshima from the 1st Strike Company! I am currently observing the battle from a transport ship in southern Bousou!”

A first year’s voice reached them. It was an emergency report made while halting their withdrawal to the east.

This was what she had to say:

Nabe3: “The enemy fleet is currently attacking the northern and southern halves of Kuki’s split fleet!”

True enough, thought Yoshiaki.

“Attacking”, not “pursuing”. Because…

Nabe3: “The enemy fleet has shifted their wheel formation horizontally!”


Nabeshima gasped as she viewed the movement in the sky.

What is this!?

The wheel formation had used a vertical rotation before, but now it was spread out to the left and right for a horizontal rotation.

It almost looked like a two-headed snake rearing both heads to pursue different prey.

“Could it be…?”

“The enemy has not changed their tactics, my lady,” said a bitterly smiling member of the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji. “I thought Murakami Motoyoshi had simply modeled his tactics after Kawanakajima and the Armada battle, but now I think otherwise. He did not use the wheel formation as a final clincher because he wanted attack power.”

The wheel formation fully took its horizontal line as they spoke.

The ring of warships rotated and took an oval shape as it pursued both halves of Kuki’s fleet.

“Do you see why? Even without a commander, the wheel formation only has to change its form to pursue the enemy. Those at the end of the rotation only have to move as close to the enemy ships as they can get.”

“Then they set up the wheel formation near the beginning of the battle for this?”

“It was a really long oval to begin with, remember? That was most likely an on-site test to see if it could respond to a situation like this. They wanted to know if it would work without being a perfect circle and if the ships could keep it up without a commander.”

In other words…

“When Murakami Motoyoshi saw the wheel formation constructed by his predecessors, he viewed it as a malleable tactic that could respond to any and all situations.”

“Although it won’t work if the wheel is stretched out so far it breaks apart!”

“This is a limited airspace, so don’t interrupt, you fool!”

“Ohh,” said Nabeshima while staring blankly up into the sky. The wheel formation was stretched north and south in a long oval.

“They’re going to catch up!”

Just then, flames blossomed in the sky. One of the ironclad ships was heavily damaged in its rear guard position and was finally destroyed.


“Let’s do this. Even if we might not be much help.”

Yoshiaki flew Weiss Fürstin forward with Angie riding on the back.

She doubted they could break apart the loop of enemy ships, but they probably could buy some time for Hashiba to arrive from the west.

We need to hurry.

Yoshiaki formed a slight bitter smile at the thought.

Was she fired up right now? Or was she nice and cool?

If the former, she felt like she could hold her head high in front of the others fighting here.

If the latter, she felt like she could rationally handle everything the situation threw at her.

She wondered which it was while she flew Weiss Fürstin along a sideways-sweeping trajectory. She viewed the line of enemy ships in the sky above and spoke.

“Murakami Motoyoshi must still be alive.”

“Yeah, I doubt he blew up with his ship. Think he’s floating down below?”

“Probably,” Yoshiaki replied before adding more. “But I doubt he’s participating in the battle up here. Even with divine transmission spells, he needs the ship management divine protection to grasp the movement of the fleet, so he can’t do it on his own. So I imagine he’s looking up at it all, but…”

But…

“This must be the conclusion he wanted: a victory without him.” Yoshiaki spoke as someone whose history recreation was to kill him. “From a generational perspective, he must have been involved in Hexagone Française’s previous generation – Anne of Austria’s era. And you know what?” she said. “The Testament says Anne and young Louis XIV traveled around France on foot while pursued and targeted by political enemies who wanted them dead. They were saved by a great many people and they ultimately repelled the nobles and returned to Paris at the request of the people.”

“Sounds like an exciting life.”

“It does. And later on, Louis XIV created a national army, depriving the nobles of their personal troops. The primary fighting force was controlled by the king and the nameless citizens who formed the national army. Of course, the commanders also played a role, but it all existed because of the king at the top and the citizens who did the fighting. The commanders were entirely replaceable.”

So…

“My guess is Anne of Austria told Murakami Motoyoshi that the history recreation demanded he die in battle, so he needed to create a fighting force that could win through the power of the common citizens without him around.”

Murakami Motoyoshi was a strategist.

He used weaker forces to take on powerful foes. The Testament forced him into those situations.

That was why he had focused on training and experience above all else.

His defense of K.P.A. Italia was laying the groundwork for moving a large force like this.

Back then, he had chosen to make a charge at the very end.

But not this time.

With training, experience, and tactics, the troops could respond to the situation at hand even without a commander.

This was a fighting force driven by spontaneity and restraint.

“It’s like they’re telling us that M.H.R.R.’s reliance on commanders and name inheritors is outdated.”

Yoshiaki knew of a force similar to them: Musashi.

As Takigawa Ichimasu had shown in the Battle of Kanagawa, they too acted spontaneously. They seemed to have trouble with the restraint side of the equation, but that actually made them a threat in a different way.

Regardless, the scene before them now was dangerous.

“Kime-chan.”

“Testament,” she agreed as another red flower blossomed in the night sky.

This was not just the ironclad ships. The other warships were being shot down as well.


Silence filled the Azuchi’s bridge.

The castle-shaped bridge of the rear central ship contained a classroom-style command center. The room was surrounded by armor and the interior was dark and kept cold for cooling purposes.

“Azuchi” opened a blackboard-style lernen figur in front of the rows of seats and automatons. She drew a diagram with white lines to aid in her thoughts and speech.

I have determined the enemy’s invasion is playing out more quickly than expected.

The Azuchi was set to arrive half an hour ahead of the initial estimate, but that was barely going to be soon enough. They had no time to spare.

They could accelerate and they were doing so. Ever since passing by Mt. Fuji, a tailwind had descended from the mountain to assist them. There were mountains and valleys along the way, but nature was taking their side more than expected.

But, thought “Azuchi”. There is one requirement needed for us to intervene in the Kantou Liberation.

The Azuchi had to “arrive” in Kantou.

They could not just pass through.

They had to come to a stop and engage in combat there.

However, the Azuchi was a massive structure. Decelerating it was easier said than done.

Musashi was a similar ship and, when it had arrived in England, it had made a full circle of the floating island to decelerate.

Of course, that method would eat up a lot of time. The Kantou Liberation would be over before they completed it.

So what were they to do?

She pondered the matter and arrived at a solution within her memories.

The Musashi pulled a reckless stunt once, even if it was an uncertain thing.

As an automaton, she did not view the Musashi as a rival to compete against, but she could still compare their specs.

If they could do something, so could she. After all, she was a cutting-edge warship and they were based on a transport ship from 30 years ago, even if they had received modifications since.

“So let us display Azuchi’s pride, everyone.”

“Azuchi” drew a diagram and wrote some equations on the blackboard-style lernen figur. Then she tapped the front and looked across the seated automatons.

“Now, you all understand what this means, don’t you? This will be on the test. Over.”


Kani viewed the eastern and southern skies.

She was on a transport ship floating up into the northern night sky.

Everyone on the deck was facing the same two directions to watch what happened there.

To the south, the two fleets were battling it out.

To the west, the Azuchi was approaching.

Everyone looking to the south groaned and clenched their fists as Kuki’s fleet lost more and more ships.

“Oh, hell. This is bad.”

“No, they’re sending the defensive ships forward to take the brunt of the damage. And doing much more right now could easily be taken as ‘withdrawing’.”

“I hope Kuki-sama can handle this.”

Everyone looking to the west cheered and waved as the Azuchi approached.

“Hell yeah! The Azuchi is coming! It’s ‘Azuchi’-sama! And Hashiba-sama too! Double hell yeah!”

“It’s hard to tell how fast something that big is moving, but it’s gotta be moving really fast right now! It could easily zoom right past us, so I’m excited to see how it’s going to slow down!”

“I hope ‘Azuchi’-sama can handle this!”

The difference in tone is incredible! thought Kani as she looked to the south again.

She saw the two fleets and the rotating wheel of ships attacking in the center.

The exchange of artillery fire was still underway.

Kasuya opened a sign frame next to her and spoke.

“I see Yoshiaki and Wakisaka are supporting the southern fleet. That means the rest is up to the Azuchi.”

Kasuya crossed her arms and looked west, where the Azuchi was sending white spray into the sky while flying toward southern Bousou.

It was enormous.

Kani felt proud of having ridden on that ship. This was her first time getting an exterior view of its high-speed cruising, but…

It’s such a powerful sight!

It was like that ad for farm plows that played on local divine TV. A cow would pull the plow in from the horizon so it raced along, plowing the earth all the while. The company was said to have used their mascot, two boys named Yanboh and Marboh, ever since the Age of the Gods.

“But how is the Azuchi going to brake!?”

“Well…”

Before Kasuya could say any more, several massive bursting sounds erupted in the western sky.

There were six in all. Each of the Azuchi’s ships had rapidly braked to decelerate.


Kasuya saw cumulus clouds rapidly form and shred apart in the western sky.

Each of the Azuchi’s ships had taken two actions west of the Izu Peninsula, well ahead of reaching the Bousou Peninsula.

First, they began rotating to the right.

And second…

“They removed their buffering spells and activated their virtual ocean from the stern to center along the port side!?”

Kuro-Take: “Oh, I received a report on this earlier, so I know what they’re doing. Want any spoilers!?”

Kasuya hesitated for two seconds, but then checked the people around her. Kani and the others were entirely ignoring her because they were so caught up in watching the Azuchi and shouting in excitement. So she shrank her lernen figur down, and…

Black Wolf: “Wh-what is the Azuchi doing!? Can you tell me and no one else?”

Kuro-Take: “Well, you see! Um, ugh, ero ero ero ero ero.”

Kasuya shattered the lernen figur. Shattered it with all her might.

Then she looked to the western sky and saw some lightning.

The massive cumulus clouds and their shredding had been caused by the virtual ocean on the Azuchi’s port side. The giant ships had pushed the virtual ocean in a way that cooled and compressed the night air, creating clouds.

Those dark clouds were immediately pushed out of the way and torn by the giant ships. The compressed air and clouds created lightning that flashed bluish-white in the night.

But while all that produced a rumbling of thunder, Kasuya saw the Azuchi take a certain action beyond the clouds.

It’s floating?

No, it was not simply floating up.

The bow was rapidly braking and turning. The combination of the two caused the stern to float as if tugged upwards, but what would that cause?

“Is it rolling on its side like the Musashi did at Novgorod!?”


“Oh, oh, oh. Not bad there, Azuchi!”

That voice came from a position watching the Azuchi’s movements from behind. That position was Sakuma’s transport aircraft carrier floating in the sky west of Shinshuu.

Sakuma stood her small body on the window frame of the cramped bridge to look east.

The Azuchi had been scheduled to receive some in-air refueling from her aircraft carrier, but…

“We were accelerating in that direction too, but I’m glad we didn’t stick with them.”

She watched those six giant ships throwing themselves forward.

They whipped up a massive amount of clouds and wind, but…

“A side roll in midair, huh? They’re going to soar right over the Bousou Peninsula and belly flop down on the other side. They can slowly reduce their forward thrust and use the drop to brake. And their forward acceleration can cancel out any remaining momentum pulling them back. Nice, nice, nice.”

Another sound arrived while Sakuma repeated that word.

The windows rattled and the ship shook.

The bridge’s structures made a noise and everything inside was tossed around and fell to the floor.

She smiled while watching the shaking from the window frame along with everyone else on the bridge.

“Yes, yes, yes. That’s it. This is what got me at Novgorod!” She pressed her forehead against the shaking window. “Roll, roll, roll, Azuchi! You can’t attack since you haven’t joined the battle yet, but show everyone we can match the Musashi’s mobility!”


The cumulus clouds and a giant shape stood up in the sky.

Kuki gave a shout as he looked up at it all.

“There you are, Hashiba-kun!”

Would she arrive in time or not? Based on the current situation…

She will!

It helped that he had started focusing on defense earlier and that he still had plenty of ships left.

And in the western sky…

“Ohh,” said voices all around him.

The Azuchi was approximately 7km long. A cumulus cloud that tall stood up in the sky while wrapped in lightning. The moonlit cloud was swept away by countless large explosions, giving the occasional glimpse of black and red ships.

If he could hold off the enemy until it descended into the eastern sea, they would win.

Indeed.

He clenched his left prosthetic hand, but his triumph was interrupted.

“Kuki-sama! Incoming emergency divine transmission!”

A PR Committee member called out to him. Wondering what this was about, he turned that direction.

“It is from Ookubo Nagayasu of Musashi.”

“It’s from Musashi!?”

What do they want now of all times!?

His dubious look saw a new image appear on the screen. It now showed footage of the Representative Committee Head who had negotiated with Konishi earlier.

Nagaya-Stable: “Is Hashiba Fleet Representative Kuki Yoshitaka there?”

Nine Horns: “I am. What do you want?”

That girl had to be seeing what was happening in the western sky, so he asked about it.

Nine Horns: “Hashiba-kun will soon arrive here and claim our victory. …Do you have anything to say for yourselves, Musashi?”

“I do,” replied the girl. And after a pause…

Nagaya-Stable: “I recommend you withdraw, Hashiba Fleet Representative.”


Kuki could guess something based on what Ookubo said.

She intends to learn what I know of the situation and what I intend to do about it.

He could say nothing for certain, but there was one thing he knew about their situation.

Hashiba would arrive here. So he breathed in and spoke.

Nine Horns: “Are you not afraid of Hashiba-kun’s arrival?”

Nagaya-Stable: “Shouldn’t you be afraid? Or do you not see the situation here?”

Ookubo repeated herself.

Nagaya-Stable: “I recommend you withdraw, Hashiba Fleet Representative. You still have some time left. It would be best if you finished your withdrawal by the time Hashiba lands.”

Just as he saw those words from her, he heard everyone around him cheering.

The Azuchi was reaching the apogee of its side roll that split the western sky.


Instead of rising, Fukushima felt like she was being continually thrown diagonally upwards.

She was on the 2nd starboard ship. The stern deck there was rotating furthest from the earth than any other part of the ship.

She could look into the sky from the highest point.

“Ohh!”

She was surrounded by dark clouds and air currents that seemed to flow backwards.

The thick virtual ocean had appeared on the port side to forcibly lift up the ship.

This was a dark and shadowy airspace, but there was light there: lightning.

Those flashes of light would sometimes appear in every direction and sometimes wash across the Azuchi’s deck before leaving them.

The ship was standing nearly vertical. She did not fall off thanks to the gravitational control, but the bow was not visible thanks to the dark clouds that billowed out in a serpentine fashion.

“But,” she said. “Thou are going to ero-ero from this height, Takenaka-sama!?”

“I’ve never experienced a more fulfilling ero skyyyy!”

Takenaka’s ero had drawn a curve in the sky from the stern, but she suddenly turned around with a smile.

“I’m all ero-ed out.”

Then she collapsed and was nearly thrown off by the shaking of the ship, so Fukushima grabbed her wrist.

Th-that was a close one!

She attached Takenaka’s hip hard point part to the body fastener on the deck’s railing. That would do for the time being, so she sighed.

“Attention, everyone. This is the Azuchi’s bridge. We are currently arriving at the apogee of our rotation. We will begin to descend afterwards, so please be careful.”

Something happened immediately after that announcement.

Mh.

Fukushima felt a sudden silence.

Everything ceased making a noise, the shaking suddenly stopped, and a dry chill filled the air.

“Have we reached the highest point?”

The dark clouds and wind suddenly vanished from their surroundings.

Only a bluish-black color spread out endlessly behind them.

“The night.”

The stern had torn through the cumulus cloud wall with a horizontal swing.

The night sky was visible horizontally out from the deck they stood on.


Fukushima could see that they were in the heavens.

The Azuchi was more than 7km long. With their initial altitude added in, this highest point was now at around 9km up.

Not counting those doing indoor work at the stern of the ship, she was probably at a higher point than anyone else.

Well, Takenaka-sama too.

Except that girl was slumped down at the railing, so she did not count.

This was such a high place.

And such a vast one too.

The Azuchi could probably ascend even higher if it tried.

But this was high enough for her breath to be visible and the air to sting her throat when she inhaled. This was a first for her.

She could see so far from here.

To the east, she could see to the other side of Bousou. To the north she could see past Mito and Shirakawa and could glimpse some of the Date region’s lights.

To the east, she saw the vast expanse of the ocean.

…I cannot see to the other side, though.

But firelight rose up from a position down below.

That was the fleet battle being fought at the Bousou Peninsula.

At this altitude, it looked like a bunch of model ships moving on their own, but based on what she could see…

“They are having a tough time of it!”

Many people she knew were fighting there. Kani, Kasuya, Yoshiaki, and Wakisaka would be there.

She wished she could rush down and assist them, but…

“Please hurry!”

She could only hope and shout.

From the look of things, the battle would not have ended by the time they landed.

They would arrive in time.

Then she and the others on the Azuchi could join the fight and bring victory to them all.

Hurry!”

She wished for greater speed, but then she realized something while looking down from the edge of the deck.

First, the Azuchi’s side roll was going to carry it right over the ships below.

Second, several shapes were flying in from the ocean to the west to reach Bousou below.

They were…

Mechanical phoenixes!?

It can’t be, she thought, but while those many forms skimmed just off the ocean surface, they shook their bodies and turned to look up this way.

“…!?”

Before she could realize what was happening, light reached her eyes.

Those were the flashes of artillery fire.

The enemy had fired on the Azuchi while making a rapid ascent in order to soar up from the Azuchi’s bow to here.

They were pursuing the Azuchi and bombing its surface.

“Enemy attack!!” she shouted, while wondering how this could be possible. “We are under attack from mechanical phoenixes belonging to the former nation of Houjou! They must be intercepted!”


Chapter 64: Vertical Attackers[edit]

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Good eveniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!

Who is iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!?

Point Allocation (It’s meeeeeeeeeee!)


The mechanical phoenixes flew in from below the Azuchi’s side flip.

There were 15 of them.

They were separated into five formations of three, but none of them opened their divine transmissions.

They could not let anyone know who they were or leave behind any evidence.

Thus, they were not piloting their official crafts.

These were all prototypes, experimental crafts, or ones that were already considered scrapped.

The three making up the lead formation waved their wings up and down as they ascended.

That was the signal to scatter.

Those three spilt apart to head toward the port ships, the center ships, and the starboard ships.

Those three would not make the attack. None of them had much equipment loaded on. They had been chosen for their speed and mobility, so they flew in fast and led the way.

Those three activated an optical drawing spell on their tail wings to draw a red line behind them.

That tracer path was used when teaching pilots.

Of course, they could not reveal their flight route while in enemy territory.

Their flight was revealing the shape of the Azuchi.

The tracer path gently revealed and illuminated the contours of its surface and its structure.

The next formation followed after and aimed for that path.

Three ships each split to port, center, and starboard.

Each mechanical phoenix of the final formation flew toward the lead formation.

A tracer craft, a primary formation, and a support craft were allotted to the port, center, and starboard rows of ships.

The first to take action were the support crafts in the rear.

While diving low toward the surface of the ships, they used just the movement of the tracer line to fly and accelerate without hesitation.

They began firing on the surface in order to protect the tracer and primary formation.

Then the support crafts flew below their allies and out ahead.

The cacophony of gunfire tore into the structures below the tracer light.

The Azuchi reacted at the same time. Spotlight spells activated on the surface of the ships to search for the enemy and the secondary cannons began to automatically aim based on a Catholic spell called The Great Searcher.

“You don’t need a kinetic reading! If you have one, pursue it and fire! If you don’t, set up a barrage as a barrier!”

But the secondary cannons and spotlights on the surface were destroyed first. The first of the enemy had moved out ahead more than expected, but the Azuchi was put at an initial disadvantage since they failed to immediately get a lock.

The three formations of three had a path of approach now, so they began their attack on the first ships of each row.

They did not target the secondary cannons. Instead…

“The bridge defenses!!”

Each ship’s individual bridge had chosen to defend instead of counterattack.

That decision had proved wise.

Stone spikes with hardened tips were slammed into them at high speed.

There were three spikes for each bridge. Defense barriers instantly opened and were shattered by the three attacks, scattering shards of light into the night sky.

Two of the spikes were destroyed and one made it through.

A rushing wind was whipped up and the stone spike tried to slam into the fortress-style bridge.

But the Azuchi’s automatons did not overlook the briefly decelerated stone spike.

“Individualized response!”

Each first ship opened five of the windows at the center of the bridge and the automatons readied anti-god of war rifles.

The automatons distributed within the ship had rapidly delivered the weapons from the armory. The anti-god of war rifles had been passed down the corridors like fish swimming upstream and they already had a bullet loaded.

The incoming stone spike did not give them time to hold the weapons properly.

One caught it at their hip, another directed the muzzle toward the spike, yet another squeezed the trigger, and all three of them stopped the recoil.

The muzzle flash raced out in the shape of a cross and the instantaneous force crashed into the spike as a counterattack.

The spikes ruptured and broke when they were hit from five such blasts almost simultaneously.

But the momentum remained, so the remaining pebbles crashed into the surface of the bridge. The armor panels bent and the shards of rock flew inside through the open windows.

With a roar, the counterattacking automatons were hit.

But none of it was critical damage.

“The bridge…has been preserved!”

Then fire scattered in the sky. Two of the port ships, one of the center ones, and one of the starboard ones had been hit.

But not from the secondary cannons. They had been hit by…

“We are Charging Company – Schau Essen! You can count on us in times of defense as well!”


The men were not wearing their mobile shells.

They were only wearing the armored uniforms they had managed to throw on in a hurry and they held shields in both arms.

“Did you all just wake up!?”

“Testament!”

“Have you been eating well!?”

“Testament!”

“Then go get ‘em!”

They all threw themselves out into the open air from whatever position they thought best.

They deactivated Azuchi’s gravitational control divine protection to let themselves fall.

“Go! We are Schau Essen! If we hit them, we win!”

They aimed a counterattack clash at the enemy.


Koroku saw new explosive flames blossoming above the vertical structure while she left the starboard side of the rear central ship.

Four blossoms had just appeared in the sky.

That was the result of Schau Essen jumping out without their mobile shells.

“Well done.”

Their choice to not wear those mobile shells was about more than hurrying. Since they were jumping out in an emergency situation, they had no established landing position.

They could not control their path through the sky while inside those mobile shells, so they had chosen the greater freedom of lighter equipment.

Koroku wanted to praise and thank them for managing to hit and defeat those high-speed mechanical phoenixes.

“Also…”

The sudden appearance of these new attackers must have come as a surprise because a few of the other enemy mechanical phoenixes veered off course. They tried to dart back over again, but the secondary cannons had locked onto them.

One then another was hit and the secondary cannons were smashed as well, but…

“That’s three more!”

That reduced the enemy’s numbers down to four.

But all four of those were arriving at the second ship – that is, the rear ship – in their rows.

The tracer craft was still active on the starboard. It had already been hit, and…

Ohh.

Koroku found it beautiful how ether light smoke trailed behind it.

It passed through the combination of winds, slipped past the Azuchi’s attacks, and used its wings to more part than slice the wind.

It was pushed onward by the light from its thruster. This proved Houjou had pilots who could handle their craft that well.

“But it still isn’t enough.”

It had been moving too fast and it had taken too much damage.

The armor tore up from the damaged left wing and the wing broke off from its base.

The resistance from the right wing swung it around and sent it flying to the right just as it was passing by next to Koroku.

Then it crashed into the defense barrier opened to protect the top of the ship. Flames scattered through the sky and vanished as they were swept along the course of the side flip.

But the enemy was still attacking.

They still had the one to starboard and two in the center.

Koroku saw a certain phenomenon when she looked down toward the center.

A large cannon fired – the main cannon on the front of the bridge. The #2 turret of the dual 30cm/38 caliber cannons fired without aiming.

Great decision!

An explosive blast burst in the sky.

A shockwave raced out and swept everything on the ship’s surface outwards.

The armor hit by the blast was stripped up and blown away and the damaged secondary cannons were broken from the surface and fell off into the sky.

It was fortunate no one had been out in front of the main cannons thanks to the side flip, the surprise attack, and the preparations to fire once they landed.

The defense barriers obviously only opened after the destructive blast blew through.

But the effect was just as obvious. The two incoming mechanical phoenixes had disappeared without a trace.

The fires that had started on the ship had all been blown out.

That was flashier than necessary, thought Koroku. But…

“Just one more!”

The one craft flying along the starboard ships remained.

It chose to catch the side effects of the blast on its upper surface and did not try to fight it.

It kept its course gently curving in toward the 2nd starboard ship’s bridge, but…

It’s fast!

The enemy craft passed by her with a burst of speed as if trying to keep her from focusing on it.

She could not counterattack in time. Fukushima and some others had been out on the 2nd starboard ship to watch the Musashi pass by, but…

Llaf: “If only I had thought to bring Ichinotani with me!”

She’s useless then, decided Koroku as she instantly accepted the state of affairs.

That’s a bad habit of mine, she added, but she could not help it. Expecting more from reality would only lead to disappointment.

“Guess I’ll do it.”

Just as she said that, she saw the enemy craft destroyed by an attack from behind.

What had caught up with the speedy mechanical phoenix and pierced through it?

“That was the automatons who performed the previous counterattack, wasn’t it?”


They stood atop the 1st starboard ship’s bridge.

They looked up into the rotating and moving sky to face the 2nd ship.

“The second shot made it through.”

Those five automatons were holding one of the anti-god of war rifles that had shot down the stone spike earlier.

One of them actually held the gun while the other four held their hands out past its barrel.

“The multi-acceleration of the bullet was a success, but…”

They could tell their efforts were insufficient.

Their high-speed vision saw the enemy fire a stone spike just before the hit.

The 2nd ship’s bridge set up defense barriers and used rifles to intercept it just like they had.

But there was one difference between this and the 1st ship.

The destroyed enemy craft shot out ahead of the stone spike.

It had been destroyed, but its wreckage still had mass that plowed straight into the defense barriers.


The destroyed craft was obliterated as it broke through the barriers.

The flames and wreckage blocked the view of the automatons protecting the 2nd ship’s bridge.

The automatons standing on the 1st ship’s bridge sent targeting corrections based on their view from behind.

But it was too late. The Stone spike flew in from behind the destroyed enemy craft.

The time to pull the trigger arrived, so they fired.

But the bullets tore into the decelerated enemy craft’s pieces and the impact was deflected elsewhere.

The stone spike tore through the enemy craft to show itself.

It had been hit, but it had not taken enough damage to break apart.

“Evacuate!”

The port-side third floor of the 2nd starboard ship’s bridge took a direct hit from that speedy mass.


The automatons atop the 1st starboard ship’s bridge realized their own task had been a success but the overall task had been a failure.

One of the gunners detected an error within herself.

“We should have fired on the stone spike carried by the enemy craft, not the enemy craft itself!”

That mistaken decision was entered into their shared memory so they could all learn from it. Meanwhile, the 2nd starboard ship shuddered.

The port side had been hit at around the third floor and the damage covered a diameter of 10 meters.

I have determined that is the divine transmission and administrative floor.

But the command center at the top of the bridge was unharmed. This would not affect the ship’s course, but information had been briefly cut off and there would be a delay until the damaged power circuits and communication lines could be rerouted.

That would cause the 2nd ship to fall behind during their side flip.

“That is not good!” one of them shouted as more alarms sounded.

This was not just more sound. There was more variety to the sound as well. Instead of combat alarms, these were alarms that indicated danger during on-deck construction or special events.

What is this?

They all wondered that as something flew toward the 2nd starboard ship from the other ships.

They were towing belts.

Controlling their internal tension allowed them to slither in a serpentine fashion through the air and connect themselves to the 2nd starboard ship. Then a shipwide announcement played.

“The 2nd starboard ship shall be held in place with towing belts while the side flip continues! Over!”

It would not fall behind.

The 2nd ship’s lost functions and communications were being immediately replaced and supplemented.

The bridge’s crucial functions had not been destroyed and it had not flown off course.

But just as they felt like they could make up for their mistake…

“Oh, dear.”

The four standing in front lost their balance.

Automatons could not grow tired, but they could be worn down. That was why the gunner assumed they had used too much of their power to supply additional acceleration earlier.

But a moment later…

Eh?

The next thing she knew, they had all been thrown out into the air to starboard.


The gunner automaton had no idea what had happened, so she tried to assess her situation.

She did not find much to assess.

Her body had been destroyed. All that remained was the upper body frame starting at the top of the chest, her head, and her broken lung structure. Lubricant and stitched wires flew through the air and splatted against her cheek.

She could not see any of the others. She only saw what looked like a snapped spine.

That was the rifle’s stock.

That rifle was designed to punch through god of war armor, so it produced quite a bit of power. Where had the rest of it gone? And when had her body been smashed and obliterated?

She did not know.

But she did know one thing. When her eyes followed the smashed remains of her fellow automatons, she saw something there.

A large black form was accelerating.

That had to be their true enemy that had flown in after the mechanical phoenixes to attack them from behind. It was…

“A mechanical dragon!”

The automaton fell through empty air as she fulfilled her duty to report.

“An enemy mechanical dragon is rapidly approaching the rear central ship!!”


Genan felt the pressure.

It came from acceleration.

That weight pushed back on him and it remained a constant companion while he soared through the sky.

Such an excellent craft.

The mechanical dragon used a pseudo-combination piloting system.

Mechanical dragons were seen here and there throughout the history of Houjou’s weapons development, but this had to be their most successful prototype ever.

Such large devices were hard to make since circumstances, budgets, and technological revolutions tended to come as a surprise. This one had turned out well despite that, but it had been rejected as a primary weapon as it would be difficult to mass produce.

But it had still been worth keeping in storage for possible use later.

Genan focused out ahead of him.

As a prototype, the dragon cannon was its only weapon. Since the tests had been focused on acceleration, it had seemingly endless speed, but its movements could not have been more unstable.

However, it flew straight and true for the moment.

He assumed that was because there was no hint of doubt within him. Not about Houjou, not about Satomi, and not about the other nearby nations.

“Although it was be going too far to say I don’t care about any of it anymore.”

If he did not care, he would not be doing this. So it was quite the opposite.

“I care so very much about everything now.”

He did not see things in terms of enemies and allies anymore.

No, everything that had been with him thus far was his ally and everything that threatened to interfere with that was his enemy.

“Genan-sama.” The mechanical dragon’s OS spoke to him in a male voice. “Welcome back.”

“What, you only just woke up, Vritra?”

“Testament. I have been finetuning things since bootup and could only just now spare the time to speak. How is the flight?”

“Very good. It’s even better than last time I flew in you.”

“Thank you very much. But I must ask that you do not push yourself too hard. I have a self-healing function, but you do not.”

“You’ve got a mouth on you.”

“Testament,” replied the OS called Vritra. “I do recall crashing in the craft I occupied three iterations back.”

“Why did we build an OS that remembers all the bad things?”

“Because,” said Vritra. “This allows me to respond to any and all circumstances, Genan-sama. So…”

So…

“You need not hold back. I am quickly grasping the situation, so I will take you to your destination – to Houjou’s final attack. And, Genan-sama?”

“Yes?”

“If this is indeed the final attack, then please press the ‘authorize’ button on the lower right.”

He knew what that did. The same had already been pressed in the other crafts.

The OS wiper.


The craft’s memory would be fully erased.

By doing that during battle, nothing would remain even if it was shot down.

Of course, the components would still make it obvious what nation had produced it, but if the pilot ejected and the OS-related memory was erased, there was room to sidestep responsibility.

Houjou’s engineers had already sent Ujinao everything they hoped Musashi could store for them and everything else had been physically destroyed.

That meant everything related to them was currently in the air.

The same was true of those who had been destroyed out ahead of him.

The pilots were those who had built those crafts. They had all grown old, wondered if they should let the younger generation take over, and ultimately did so.

They had gone on ahead and drawn the artillery fire as they went.

And now it was Genan’s turn.

“Let’s do this, Vritra. Let us erase all that Houjou was, such that nothing remains.”

Some things had been stolen by P.A. Oda. Including some things that were important to their nation and to history.

“But we cannot let them have us and we cannot let them stain the reputation of those we have come to accept. So…let’s do this.”


Koroku watched the mechanical dragon fly.

It was over 100m long.

Yet it was dodging al of the secondary cannon blasts and beams of light.

Concentration, huh?

She recalled when Satomi Yoshiyori had attacked the Azuchi.

He had not had as easy a time of it with all the accompanying ships constructing a front line, but this enemy’s movements were on the same level as his.

They did not stop.

And they did not falter.

Satomi Yoshiyori had made his way through using strength, but this mechanical dragon did it using technique.

Like a fish in water dodging stones, they exploded with acceleration as if using the Azuchi’s side flip as a playground. Albeit a playground full of explosive blasts and fragments.

They spun around, dodged the airborne wreckage of the secondary cannons, used the path of the shards to read the air currents, and continued ever forward.

When a secondary cannon did occasionally fire…

“Oh.”

They would kick off the hardened wood of the deck and soar forward while ducking low.

They kept their kicking feet on the deck to race across the front central ship.

Then the front ship fired its main cannon.

This was the same method the rear ship had used to repel the enemy mechanical phoenixes earlier.

But the mechanical dragon twirled around, tilted their entire body to starboard, and continued racing along the side of the deck.

The cannon’s explosive blast swept across the surface of the ship, but the mechanical dragon was already out of its range.

That reaction speed and decision making is insane, thought Koroku. I doubt they could have seen the previous attack like that.

This was about experience.

She did not know the identity or details of that mechanical dragon, but she knew for certain the pilot and OS had fought in a battle like this before.

I can’t believe it.

If possible, she wanted to meet the pair that made these movements and decisions possible.

As a god of war pilot and a machine operator, she was curious.

But they were the enemy.

As soon as the cannon blast had been avoided, the mechanical dragon took three steps and then flew. The running start, leap, and takeoff were done calmly and without rushing. Acceleration light appeared in the flight devices linked to the forelegs and then…

Here they come!

The great black form flew straight out into the sky.

It passed by above her to charge at and fly toward the rear central ship.


“Azuchi” did not hesitate when responding to the mechanical dragon flying toward the front of the bridge from the side.

The rear central ship had more than one main cannon. They had fired the #2 turret before and it could not be reloaded immediately, so it could not be used to intercept. However…

“#1 turret! Shaja!!”

The #1 turret was already aiming backwards to fire on the previous enemy, so “Azuchi” made another decision.

She had the #1 turret aim toward the bridge.

We will shoot the enemy while they are between the bridge and the turret!

The shell would be fired toward the sky such that it just barely avoided the bridge, but the shockwave would still hit the enemy.

The blast would directly strike the surface of the ship. All the bridge’s windows would be blown out, but that would not affect their flight. She determined it was within acceptable bounds.

Thus, she had the #1 turret fire.

The blast struck the air as if being fired right at their throat.

In that instant, the Azuchi received a divine transmission.

6: “No!”

It was from Hachisuka. But her instructions were not about “Azuchi”.

They were about the enemy mechanical dragon’s target.

6: “Not the bridge! They’re after the rear thrusters!!”

Because…

6: “The enemy’s top priority is delaying our arrival, not destroying us!”

That was when “Azuchi” saw something with the ship’s sight devices. The mechanical dragon had flown as if hopping over the bridge and the shockwave had struck empty air.

They had missed.


So they didn’t catch on, thought Genan while making a high-speed jump in his mechanical dragon.

“Well done, Vritra.”

There was no response. The part of the OS needed for thought had been wiped.

The craft was now entirely reliant on his own piloting. The OS would only provide the bare minimum of support.

He pushed against the control stick and the pressure-controlled shoulder hooks pressing against the top of his shoulders.

Oh.

He realized he could not move his body the way he wanted.

This is not good.

After all this time, his hands chose now to start trembling.

He had thought his body was enjoying the acceleration pressure, but he had been wrong

Just as Vritra had feared, he had reached his limit. The battle during the day would be partially to blame.

Or should he have skipped the meeting during the night?

If he had spent that time resting, could he have avoided this pathetic display now?

“That is not the point,” he said. “I am glad I went.”

That had been Houjou’s final meeting.

He had managed to attend and, while he had not been able to directly help out, he had been able to see the representatives of Satomi, Musashi, and the neighboring nations and pave the way for a few things.

That was not pathetic. Anything he accomplished now was a bonus.

“That’s right.” His voice was trembling. “This is what we should have done back when Satomi Yoshiyori made his charge.”


Yes, that’s right.

When the Azuchi had arrived in Kantou, he had immediately recognized it as being the Bunroku Campaign.

But while Houjou called themselves the rulers of Kantou…

“Why could we not call it the Siege of Odawara and face them ourselves?”

Ujinao had decided against it because they would be unable to do anything for Musashi or themselves later on if they had been destroyed then.

He had agreed with her decision.

But even as he agreed, there had been some misgivings inside him.

That’s right, he thought.

“I understand now.”

The course he was taking for his charge here was not entirely original.

Satomi Yoshiyori, this was based on your charge.

He understood now.

“Satomi Yoshiyori.”

I know you did not want anyone else to die with you then.

So our decision back then was correct. But at the same time…

“You too were correct.”

He had said he was heading out “to live”.

At the time, Genan had not known what that meant and had thought it was a terrible thing for a long-lived like him to do.

But he understood now.

“We too are alive.”

He understood that this action would allow so many important things to live.

He only wanted to continue living if it was as a part of that.

So he would head out and create an age and a world where he could live like that.

“Indeed.”

He squeezed the grips as if forming fists.

The craft had already circled around higher than the explosive blast launched by the Azuchi.

That would be the final bit of automatic flight assistance from Vritra. After all, that fulfilled the OS’s promise.

“You said you would take me to my destination and that is what you did, Vritra.”

The stern of Azuchi’s rear central ship came into view. The thrusters were there.

Genan stood his mechanical dragon up in midair and prepared a dragon cannon.

“Smashing the bridge would not matter much on a giant ship composed of multiple smaller ships. The other ships would make up for the lost bridge functions and the damage would be quickly repaired. If I am to do this, I must destroy something that will physically restrain the ship.”

He bowed his head within his headset.

“Everyone, thank you for convincing the enemy we were targeting the bridges.”

The final attack aimed for him had failed because those ahead of him had all targeted the bridges.

Their true target was the rear central ship’s primary thruster.

But none of the others had thought they could get an attack in on the rear thrusters.

That was why they had requested to act as bait. They had known their role, but still laughed about it:

“Hey, if we do manage to destroy one of the bridges, that still damages Hashiba’s reputation.”

That was true. And they had partially destroyed one while paving the way for him.

They had done well.

“When this ship lands east of Bousou, its great size will naturally slide it to the east. So they must push the ship forward to stop it. Which means using the primary thruster.”

One of the first ships’ thrusters would not be enough. The other ships would use their towing belts to support it.

But what about with one of the second ships – especially the heaviest one in the center?

Plus, they were already going to the effort of supporting the 2nd starboard ship with the towing belts.

“In that case!”

Genan raised his voice as he prepared to fire the dragon cannon.

Just before he did, his experience led him to take a certain action.

He stopped firing and twisted his body to the side.


Are you kidding me!?

Nabeshima realized her charge had been dodged at the last second.

She had made a full-body tackle with her mechanical dragon.

Earlier, her mechanical dragon had been withdrawing on a transport ship.

She had asked Kuki if she should fight back against the enemy ships in the sky above, but Unambitious was too badly damaged.

It could not fire its dragon cannon and it could only manage full-power flight just the once.

Yeah, I’d only be in the way.

While she might be able to shoot down an enemy ship or two, he had told her to wait for a more valuable opportunity.

Of course, there had been no guarantee such an opportunity would come along.

She had assumed she would continue waiting until Hashiba’s arrival ended everything. The Azuchi was going to arrive in time and they would win.

But then the mechanical phoenixes had attacked.

The Azuchi had been almost exactly overhead. Kuki had been concerned about a second wave, so he had ordered them to head out.

Of course, they were not used to battle. All they could do was charge in while relying on their armor.

They had left most of the interception to the Azuchi while they reinforced defenses where it mattered.

They had ended up moving along the opposite side from the enemy.

The dragon had taken a lot of damage, but Ryuuzouji tech was cutting edge. Still, she had been naïve to assume she could move out ahead while simply flying. She had tried to match her movements to those of the mechanical phoenixes, but the enemy had ended up pulling away from her.

Also…

“How can they dodge like that!?”

“Experience, my lady!”

“Experience!?”

“Testament! Warriors accustomed to the battlefield can predict what is coming and do what it takes.”

Then had her attack been dodged based on such a prediction? And…

“Now they will do what it takes.”

“You mean…?”

“They will go on the offensive in order to defeat their opponent, whoever that opponent might be.”

“And my predictions aren’t enough to handle it!?”

“Predicting it coming at all is more than enough, my lady!”

The Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji raised their voices.

They were manually supporting the control system and sending operation authorization to different parts of the dragon.

But they were too slow. No, they were all working absurdly quickly, but not even that could keep up with the situation.

While she spread her wings in the sky to brake, she saw the black mechanical dragon launching its dragon cannon below her.

That blast was meant to “do what it takes”.

In that case, she thought while raising her own voice.

This was her response to the other dragon “doing what it takes”.

“Kiyomasa-senpai! You’re up!”


Kiyomasa raised Caledfwlch on a roof of the rear central ship.

She had been right to return to her room after meeting Sakon earlier. This situation had come about while she was looking after Caledfwlch after firing it on Katagiri. Also…

Fukushima-sama has been outside since we passed the Musashi.

She had stayed inside and tried to get some rest in order to reset herself, but then the mechanical phoenixes had attacked.

She had rushed out of her room, but she had only arrived in time for the second wave.

She was meant as the defensive line protecting the bridge, but Caledfwlch’s beam sword was enough to target the sky behind the ship.

“Azuchi” had informed her that Kuki had ordered Nabeshima’s mechanical dragon into the fight.

Just as she emerged onto the roof…

It dodged that attack!?

Nabeshima’s charge had shot out from behind the ship and circled up into the sky.

The enemy mechanical dragon should not have been able to detect her ether reading thanks to the explosive blast from the Azuchi’s main cannon.

The attack came from a complete blind spot just as the enemy was preparing their dragon cannon.

The attack had been made when the enemy was focused on firing, yet it had still been dodged.

The giant mechanical dragon only looked like it swayed its entire body to the side.

But Nabeshima’s dragon had passed right by it without hitting.

She had been dodged.

And Kiyomasa had heard the girl’s voice via divine transmission.

“Kiyomasa-senpai! You’re up!”


The dragon cannon and light sword collided.

The dragon’s attack shattered and the blade of light scattered into the air.

But the struggle was not won by a simple difference in output.

This was not about force.

It was about persistence.

The light vanished from the thrusters on the mechanical dragon’s back and forelegs.

It was pouring all of its power into keeping the dragon cannon going.

The light sword broke and the beam of light pierced its shards.


Genan saw his dragon cannon beam pierce everything as it was launched.

And he saw something else as well.

He saw the enemy on the rooftop raising her voice while bathing in the ether light of her own shattered sword.

“ ‘Azuchi’-sama!”

Excellent resolve!

In his pseudo-combined state, his vision caught the enemy’s resistance.

It took the form of the main cannon.

The reloading of the Azuchi’s #2 turret had finally finished and it was aiming back toward him.

But it should not have been able to get a line of fire with the bridge in the way.

Except that was not true.

The muzzle was pointed straight at the bridge itself.

They were going to shoot themselves.

There was just one way of pulling this off: the Azuchi had opened all of the windows on the front of the bridge, in all the rooms and corridors within the bridge, and on the back of the bridge in order to reduce the shock of the hit as much as possible.

“Everyone, brace for impact! Over!”

Everything lined up for a single instant.

This I did not see coming!

The main cannon blast pierced straight through the bridge and hit Genan.


Kiyomasa was launched skyward from below.

The main cannon blast through the bridge had produced a shockwave.

Defense barriers had been opened on all the walls around the corridor the shell passed through, but the corridor was devastated nonetheless.

They had known what they needed to do, so the damage of the shell’s passage had been calculated out in advance. The automatons had concluded it would put pressure on the administrative functions but would not cause any trouble for the landing.

But…

The impact had switched the bridge’s power system over to emergency mode. That briefly shut off the gravitational control system, so Kiyomasa floated up into the air.

It was only for a moment, but by the time it switched back on and gravity returned to her, she had traveled a few dozen meters.

She curled while holding Caledfwlch close and rolled a few times on the rooftop before hitting the railing at the edge.

“Oh!”

Her back just about rolled up onto the railing and propelled her off the edge, but she snagged the railing with her hands and back of her knees to hold herself in place. Her chest smacked her in the jaw and it felt like a heavy uppercut, but she bore with it.

Then she viewed the result of the attack. The wreckage of the inner structures and the shards of the defense barriers had been blasted into the black emptiness of the night sky behind the bridge.

She could see walls, floors, columns, desks, and chairs. They were scattered in the sky like confetti, but beyond them…

The mechanical dragon.

The black dragon had been hit by the shockwave.

It must have taken the shell to its giant left side.

The hit had caused it to double over before it fired the dragon cannon.

The attack had been launched down but not at the primary thruster it was meant for.

“It hit the ship’s surface!”

The vertical beam of light had swept along in a line and the defense barriers for Azuchi’s surface had caught it.

It had been more like an instantaneous sweep than a direct strike. More and more defense barriers had opened to weaken the dragon cannon. They had all shattered in turn, but they had not allowed any damage through to the armor.

And while Kiyomasa watched the powerless mechanical dragon…

“We will return fire. Shaja.”

A barrage of secondary fire slammed into it.


Nabeshima saw the enemy mechanical dragon while falling in her own.

It would likely fall into the ocean southeast of Bousou. With its armor shattered from the secondary cannon blasts, it would likely be damaged beyond repair when it crashed into the ocean surface.

But, thought Nabeshima.

This is it.

“We need to be able to take things that far.”

The initial group of mechanical phoenixes had been bait, it had attacked alone, and it had made a surprise attack.

But it had managed to approach the bridge of an enemy ship like the Azuchi and attempted to make an attack.

An excellent mechanical dragon and pilot could pull off something like that.

“I so want to retrieve that dragon and take some ideas from its OS and stuff.”

“You will find nothing there, my lady. They were prepared to do what it took, so nothing at all will remain.”

The destroyed dragon was knocked away from the Azuchi by the hits it took.

As it did, a piece of the hull separated off on the back of the cockpit head.

“The OS has fully wiped itself. At the very end, the pilot is ejected. Because not even that can be done properly with the OS gone.”

“Then…”

“Yes,” replied the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji. “That mechanical dragon is dead. I just hope the pilot is alive.”


So this is goodbye, thought Genan.

The mechanical dragon had ejected its pilot and let the fall assistance and bodily protection divine protections take over.

Thus, the OS had completed its final task.

Of course, he was at his limit too.

That final movement and damage had placed a great burden on his body. A few bones were broken and the shards flying within the cockpit had pierced his body.

The divine protections would prevent the air pressure difference and wind pressure from opening the wounds, but…

“Farewell, Vritra.”

The dragon could no longer respond as it fell along a different course from him.

Could it hear him?

Genan spoke to the result of many long years of R&D as he fell and lost consciousness.

“You were my greatest masterpiece.”

Because…

“You allowed the struggles of us old timers to be felt after Satomi Yoshiyori showed us the way.”

In his fading vision, he saw something falling toward Azuchi from even higher in the night sky.

It had been ejected from the rear of the mechanical dragon and was now falling straight down.

“Ujiteru. We’re all counting on you.”


The Azuchi responded as soon as it detected what was falling behind the bridge and toward the primary thruster.

“Houjou Ujiteru!”

The secondary cannons already had homing and guidance applied.

After all, this person was in free fall with no form of propulsion. This was as easy as firing on a stationary target.

They opened fire, but something was not right. They were clearly hitting the enemy, and yet…

“Secondary cannon control! Why are you unable to destroy him!? Shaja.”

“Our attacks are being intercepted! The enemy is using a sword of light to cut down our shells!”

The falling enemy finally arrived.

“Houjou Ujiteru is landing!!”


Ujiteru opened his mouth.

“It’s meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

He had four arms. Of those, three were used for defense while he stood atop the main thruster on the stern of the enemy’s rear central ship.

The boxy port was formed from crosses and it was 50m across. Destroying that would require either a dragon cannon, or…

“Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuts!”

He sent power through the cable connecting the light sword’s pommel to his wrist.

His sword was a Descending Light Sword that used the same tech as the Descending Light Bombs.

“I bet I could give that big sword from before a run for its moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

Shells were flying his way. They were even hitting him, but he only had to defend himself enough to keep moving. Besides, he could cut down secondary cannon blasts like this while barely paying attention.

“This is nothing compared to my stupid niece’s sword ejectioooooooooons! You really think these crappy cannon blasts can hit meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!?”

He raised his Descending Light Sword and swung it at its full length.

“Not even the Musashi could stop this, so if I can stop it, that makes me the strongest of the Warring Staaaaaaaaaaates! That settles it! I am strooooooooooooooooooooong! No, the stroooooooooooooongest!”

Then the Azuchi shook as light enveloped its primary thruster.

“It’s ooooooooooooooooooooon!”

The gravitational acceleration took the form of immense pressure.

The power to move the Azuchi made a direct attack. Instead of simple artillery shells, he was surrounded by pure light.

“You cowarrrrrrrrrrds! This just proves you’re scared of meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, Hashiba!!”

His entire body was broken by the great pressure. The arms he was using to protect himself, his legs, and his knees filled with cracks and shattered.

But he was laughing. Laughing loudly.

“You really think that’ll worrrrrrrrrrrrrk!?”

He raised his Descending Light Sword high and the hand wielding it shattered, but in that instant, he moved his body so the blade stabbed into his own back.

It pieced through him and he slammed himself into the Azuchi as the base of the sword.

“Get wreeeeeeeeecked!”

Even as he broke and fell apart, he managed to raise his head and his voice with every last ounce of strength.

“Who’s the strooooooooooongest!? It’s meeeeeeeeeeeee! Ding, ding, diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! Ohhh, what’s the word for this situatioooon!?

He laughed.

“It’s Uji-terrifiiiiic!!”


Chapter 65: Commander on the Battlefield[edit]

Horizon7C 0351.jpg

The more critical the time

The more distracted you are

By other things

Point Allocation (Heavy Objects)


“Uncle,” said a girl seated in a small, open-air space without looking back toward the Azuchi flipping in the eastern sky.

She was in a hilltop estate that gave a view of the Odawara city and she wore orange Far Eastern clothing. She raised a hand to her head which had nothing growing from it but hair.

“–––––”

She brushed her hand through that hair’s great length.

She used her other hand to deal with the many sign frames open in front of her.

“Now, then.”

She looked to the side where a large lidded container sat.

“I was wondering what his ‘refreshmeeeeeents!’ were, but I did not expect tempura made with locally-grown vegetables and seafood. Was this your way of supporting the locals, uncle?”

Her words were followed by a light in the eastern sky.

It had exploded to the stern of the flipping Azuchi’s rear central ship.

But the girl picked up the container instead of looking back. And she slowly spoke.

“Thank you very much, uncle and granduncle.”


Fukushima saw the rear central ship shaking violently.

It was enough to be visually detectable from her position on the stern of the 2nd starboard ship.

Was the primary thruster damaged!?

At the same time, she felt like the deck below her feet was being swept away.

The 2nd starboard ship was being supported by towing cables and the ones from the rear central ship had gone slack.

An alarm sounded.

The other ships sent out towing cables and attached them to the rear central ship to support it.

But they were at their limit. The lack of warning from “Azuchi” showed how pressing a situation it was.

However, Fukushima felt strength below her feet. The 2nd starboard ship had stabilized during its rotational movement.

“ ‘Azuchi’-dono!”

There was no response, but she could tell the Azuchi as a whole had not given up.

They would do what they could to the best of their ability.

Their path was beginning its descent.

They were headed east of Bousou.

With the primary thruster lost, when would the Azuchi manage to “arrive on the battlefield”?

She did not know, but some words did reach her.

A divine transmission!?

It was from Kuki. He was relaying a divine transmission pointing to the situation down below.

Nagaya-Stable: “So what are you going to do? You understand the situation, don’t you?”

This was the Musashi negotiator for the Kantou Liberation – Ookubo Nagayasu.

Her negotiation with Kuki was being revealed to the rest of them.

Nagaya-Stable: “You should withdraw. You get that, don’t you?”


“What does she mean withdraw!?”

Kani raised her voice while looking up at the Azuchi beginning its descent after completing its side flip in the sky above.

She also pointed toward the fleet battle still underway in the southern sky.

“But everyone’s doing their best! Hashiba-sama is here, so why should we withdraw!?”

“That’s right,” said Kasuya while crossing her arms.

Something occurred to Kani upon seeing Kasuya’s breasts resting on her arms.

Oh, I didn’t realize her boobs were so big!

She was surprised to find this such a surprise.

Their size was hard to miss, so how had she managed to miss it before?

Because of the Reine des Garous!

That woman had given her an impression that Loup-Garous had extraordinary specs, so she must have lost sight of what the average really was. That was bad. That was the same as becoming so accustomed to expert techniques that she let ordinary techniques catch her off guard. Probably.

“Anyway, to get back on topic, why should we withdraw!?”

“Well.” Kasuya nodded with a perfectly serious look on her face. “I will ask Takenaka real quick.”

Kuro-Take: “Ero ero ero ero ero ero.”

“That was a bad idea.”

“K-Kasuya-senpai, don’t give up so quickly!”

“Sticking with that idea would only lead to confusion.”

“Fair enough!” said Kani while noticing the Azuchi had tilted a good bit.

“K-Kasuya-senpai! Who else can we ask!?”

Black Wolf: “Um, Yoshiaki?”

Kimee: “Sorry, I’m in the middle of some serious shooting right now. Angie, you handle it.”

“If you insist,” said Wakisaka.

AnG: “I imagine it’s about cost-effectiveness and a deadline. Check out the southwestern sky!”


Kasuya looked to the southwest as told.

And she noticed something.

“The Pension Versailles is ascending? And the Yamagata Castle is moving forward again!?”

This battle was in its final stage and Mogami was starting to move once more.

AnG: “This is the enemy’s plan here: Use Mogami and Hexagone Française’s flagships to destroy our fleet before Hashiba can join the battle.”

Kanitama: “But is that really enough to wipe out the fleet!?”

Kimee: “It is. Or rather…they probably set things up this way for precisely this reason.”

“You see,” continued Yoshiaki as she joined the conversation anyway.

The sigh in her voice was obvious. She was not a fan of giving up.

Kimee: “They did not sink very many of our ships in the fleet battle so far. In other words, they were dragging things out while keeping us from resupplying or making repairs.”

Black Wolf: “You mean they built up the damage little by little?”

Kimee: “Yes, like a body blow. So our fleet is extremely worn down. That was nothing to worry about against the small ships of the Mouri fleet, but the main cannons of a flagship are a real threat. The pummeling we’ve taken will prevent the defense barriers from opening as quickly as we want, so I doubt we can last more than a hit or two.”

Also…

Kimee: “The Yamagata Castle creates a political problem.”

Ookubo’s voice seemed to take over for Yoshiaki.

Nagaya-Stable: “Well? Won’t you consider withdrawing?”


Kuki had his thoughts about Ookubo’s question.

We cannot withdraw.

Doing so would leave Musashi unsupervised and free to do what they wanted against Hashiba.

Also, their foothold in Kantou did more than hold Musashi in check.

It also let them keep an eye on the Kantou nations to make sure they did not form a powerful pro-Musashi force.

So they could not withdraw here. Not even if their fleet was obliterated.

Nagaya-Stable: “So what will it be?”

Nine Horns: “Not happening. We will wait for Hashiba-kun to join us.”

Nagaya-Stable: “Then I’m sorry to say the Mogami and Hexagone Française flagships will crush your fleet. You can resist, but this is over once your fleet is gone.”

Nine Horns: “My fleet will remain.”

He wrote up instructions and sent them to each ship making up his fleet.

Nine Horns: “I have just instructed the ships of my fleet to spread out. Mogami and Hexagone Française’s flagships can fire their main cannons if they like, but they will have a hard time targeting a scattered fleet. If we can escape those attacks, we win.”

Nagaya-Stable: “And what if that ‘escape’ is counted as withdrawing?”

Nine Horns: “Then I will have Hashiba-kun provide an alternate ‘interpretation’.”

I’m such an awful commander, thought Kuki with a bitter smile.

He was leaving victory and defeat up to the interpretations of his superior.

But that superior had not sent him any instructions.

And as far as he could imagine…

“I am prioritizing Hashiba-kun’s benefit in my decisions.”

He would leave a foothold in Kantou. Because…

“That allows us to make an immediate counterattack if Musashi tries anything.”

If Musashi made some big move during or after summer break, they could simply reopen the Keichou Campaign.

That alone would let them stop Musashi.

That ability to intervene meant a lot for P.A. Oda with the Honnouji Incident waiting in the near future.

So.

So they could not afford to lose this Kantou foothold.

Then Ookubo slightly changed the subject.

Nagaya-Stable: “Kuki, can you say the same thing if Mogami truly joins the battle?”


Kasuya saw Kani tilt her head at what Ookubo said.

Kanitama: “Eh!? I thought Mogami Yoshiaki-sama had already joined the battle!”

Kimee: “Technically speaking, yes, but there is a more troublesome political side to this. Did you not notice that Mogami has yet to fire a single shell?”

Kanitama: “You mean she hasn’t really joined the battle yet!?”

Kimee: “Mogami has sent out a ground unit, but they have not supported the fleet battle. That can be interpreted as ‘sending reinforcements’. Which is the interpretation we in Hashiba would prefer.”

There was annoyance in Katou Yoshiaki’s voice. Because…

Black Wolf: “If Mogami Yoshiaki’s Yamagata Castle fires its cannons, that will establish that Mogami fully participated in the Kantou Liberation as a nation. Is that what you are saying?”

Kimee: “Testament. If that happens, Hashiba must perform post-battle negotiations with Mogami as well. But…”

Katou Yoshiaki explained.

Kimee: “What about Musashi? Is Mogami’s participation the best bargaining chip they have? Do they have no better political bargaining chip to use against us?”


Hm.

This is worth considering, sensed Kuki.

Mogami’s participation would be established by the Yamagata Castle firing on them.

If that happened, the post-battle negotiations would be more trouble and there would be losses.

Before, they would only have had to deal with Musashi, Satomi, and Mouri, but this would add Mogami to the list.

That would mean severe losses as a nation. A simple calculation said the national burden would be increased by more than 1.3 times. And more than that…

Nagaya-Stable: “The Keichou Campaign requires a withdrawal. So would you prefer to return to P.A. Oda with your ships sunk or return with most of them remaining?”

That was the thing.

Accepting withdrawal here would preserve the ships currently fighting the enemy.

Choosing to resist here would mean the destruction of the ships currently fighting the enemy.

From a financial perspective, they could not allow Mogami to join the battle.

But, thought Kuki to change the course of his thoughts.

Mogami’s participation must have been set up in advance.

It was not just Mogami Yoshiaki’s playful personality that led the Yamagata Castle to avoid firing for so long. It had all been in preparation for this negotiation and he was supposed to realize now what it all meant.

Realize it he did.

This meant the Kantou Liberation was important enough to the enemy to set up something like this.

Neither side could afford to back down here.

“Now, then.”

He sighed.

He turned his head to view the scene all around him.

Battle raged in the sky and on the surface as far as the eye could see. Fires blazed and nowhere was silent.

A great roar and silhouette were crossing the sky.

That was the Azuchi.

The six ships had already flipped around and were now descending toward the ocean east of Bousou with an extraordinary air current accompanying them.

Its descent would bring this to an end.

If anyone was going to change things, it would have to happen before the Azuchi “arrived” in Kantou. With that in mind, Kuki started by speaking to Ookubo.

Nine Horns: “Ookubo-kun. Allow me to point something out to you in this late stage.”

Namely…

Nine Horns: “Isn’t Mogami’s participation something you too should want to avoid? Well, what do you have to say?”


Konishi heard Kuki’s words while she ran through the dark forest.

She was headed south, toward the Satomi base.

The base’s walls had been breached and everyone was withdrawing.

She still had money, so she could use that to assist them.

She saw these words while she ran between the trees.

Nine Horns: “If Mogami joins the battle, Musashi must take a smaller share during the post-battle negotiations. And you will also be indebted to Mogami. Am I wrong?”

Well played, Kuki-kun.

There was malice embedded in Kuki’s words.

He was luring them in. It was a trick to learn Musashi’s true intentions here.

“If he is wrong, it means Musashi has no ulterior motive here. It means they have nothing more than this.”

In that case, Kuki could carefully observe the situation and respond as he saw fit.

“But if he is right, it means Musashi still has a plan they wish to complete without Mogami. In that case, he has to be on the lookout for whatever that is. Now, which will it be?”

Just as she asked that, the response arrived.

Nagaya-Stable: “You moron. We only kept Mogami from attacking as a kindness to Hashiba. Wasn’t that obvious?”

Ookubo readily admitted they had no ulterior motive, so once Konishi grasped her meaning…

“Hold on.”

That settles it right there, doesn’t it?

Konishi started to slow her pace and quickly gathered strength in her legs again.

According to Ookubo, Musashi wanted to include Mogami’s attack, but they had held back thus far as a kindness to win Hashiba over.

Of course, that was an exaggeration.

After all, Mogami had not provided any covering fire while Murakami Motoyoshi was moving his fleet around. If they had, it might have increased their attack power in the moment, but it would have greatly changed Murakami’s overall strategy.

Mogami had needed to act as a diversion using the possibility of an attack.

Ookubo was trying to attach greater value to that “what if”.

This is a negotiation over hypothetical tactics.

But it did point to a certain fact: Musashi did not have a greater bargaining chip than Mogami’s participation. They did not have a card to play that would change the current state of the battlefield.

That settled it. Kuki could do as he liked.

Kuki would have calculated out what it would mean if Mogami participated.

“So…”

Her thought was cut off by Ookubo’s next words.

Nagaya-Stable: “Kuki Yoshitaka.”

What is it now?

Nagaya-Stable: “Did you think this ended with Mogami’s participation?”


Huh?

Konishi did slow her pace this time. She wanted to hurry back to the base, but she sensed danger in Ookubo’s words.

This opponent was well-versed in negotiation techniques. She would narrow down the cards in her hand to simplify matters, but she would also hide the final card up her sleeve.

She would hide it up her sleeve until she had worked her way close enough to her opponent to jab that razor-sharp card against their throat. It was the simplicity that allowed her to pull off negotiations with such dramatic turnarounds.

But what else could Ookubo have introduced to this battle?

There are no other fighting forces here, are there?

None of the units spread out around the battlefield had reported of another nation’s approach.

Nagaya-Stable: “Listen. Do you mind if I guess what it is you most want to protect right now?”

A breath.

Nagaya-Stable: “Give me three guesses, since I’m not confident I can get it in one. You can think of me as some moron wasting time, but humor me, okay?”

What is she doing now? wondered Konishi, but the Azuchi was descending from the eastern sky. The more time this took, the better.

So we can win this by humoring her.

But then Ookubo made her three guesses of what they wanted to protect.

First up…

Nagaya-Stable: “Is it Kantou?”


Kuki made no response to Ookubo’s question.

He simply held his breath and waited for her to continue.

The sounds of the battlefield were fading and the air was beginning to move due to the great mass descending from the sky.

Ookubo’s words reached him within that great pressure.

Nagaya-Stable: “Oh, was that not quite it? Yes, that probably was too obvious to be it. Sorry.”

She spoke in an overly performative way.

Then she gave her next answer.

Nagaya-Stable: “Is it Hashiba?”


Kani did not know what Ookubo was trying to accomplish here, so while viewing the words on her lernen figur

“Um! Kasuya-senpai!”

Kasuya’s hand immediately reached out in front of her chest.

That was a sign to stay quiet.

Why!?

Ookubo was exactly right about what they wanted to protect.

Kantou and Hashiba were both very important to them.

So why were Kasuya and Kuki waiting so silently for her to continue?

Was there really something more important than those two things?

Nagaya-Stable: “Hmm. Yeah, I guess not. Maybe my intuition has dulled lately. I’ll get the next one over with so we can end this.”

Kani saw the third option Ookubo gave.

Nagaya-Stable: “The Honnouji Incident.”


Ookubo saw her opponent’s silence.

She stood in the open land outside the forest and in front of the Satomi base. She was waiting for the base to be cleared.

No response, huh?

The corners of her lips rose.

She knew she was making a lot of assumptions about this, but the lack of reaction here meant a lot.

The previous two options had been directly related to the Kantou Liberation. They were obvious things Hashiba would want to protect.

But the last one seemed related, but was a fairly large leap.

But it was obvious enough if you thought about it.

They wanted Kantou as a foothold. That would act as a deterrent against Musashi and it gave them more freedom in the history recreation for P.A. Oda.

“They also have the Battle of Komaki Nagakute and Battle of Shizugatake to deal with, but the Honnouji Incident comes first.”

Plus, that history recreation would mean the end of the Oda era and the beginning of the Hashiba era.

It was a fairly large leap, but there was a connection when viewing the future leading out from here.

And Hashiba was hellbent on keeping Kantou for something in the future.

It was not Kantou or Hashiba they truly cared about. By holding Kantou, they could protect something important to Hashiba.

In that case…

Ookubo spoke to silent Kuki.

Nagaya-Stable: “Kuki-kun. Are you listening?”

No response.

Nagaya-Stable: “The thing is, we indebted ourselves to a certain nation before the Kantou Liberation.”


Konishi told herself to keep walking.

Ookubo’s words had made her weak in the legs.

She was also curious about what Ookubo was saying now.

Her allies were trying to withdraw.

The Azuchi was descending from the eastern sky.

And yet…

This is bad.

She was completely distracted.

Nagaya-Stable: “Listen. I think I will use my onsite authority to give all of our battle results to that nation. That should be enough to repay our debt.”

What is this nonsense? wondered Konishi. It did not matter to Hashiba if Musashi gave their victory to that other nation. Besides…

“Do you really think you can still win this!?”

Nagaya-Stable: “Five seconds after I tell you which nation it is, Mogami will fire. According to my Kanou-kun and others, that will be the critical moment.”

Listen.

Nagaya-Stable: “You think Azuchi is going to stick the landing here, don’t you? But you know what? We have another trick up our sleeves. Want to know what it is?”

It was…

Nagaya-Stable: “When the Azuchi lands, its primary thruster will explode again. That will prevent it from joining the battle in time. And in the meantime, Mogami can take their time and destroy you with their artillery fire. How does that sound?”

Just as Ookubo finished, the Azuchi fell from the eastern sky and landed in the ocean.

Konishi looked east while she walked.

What will happen?

Would it turn out the way Ookubo said?


Kuki saw it happen from high in the sky.

As it landed, the Azuchi compressed and crushed down a wide area of the ocean.

Instead of sinking, it pushed the ocean out and eastward as if sliding down a slope.

Its gravitational control and buffering spells secured that backwards-sliding space.

It skidded backwards. The air pushed in toward Kuki and his fleet, but…

“Oh.”

That great mass was falling back toward the east. It moved several kilometers all at once. The ocean sprayed up into the gap that created and the air rushed in to form a mist.

The mist was a lot like a storm.

But that skidding mass accelerated forward to stop its momentum.

Light appeared in the eastern ocean and sky. It was the acceleration light produced during gravitational acceleration.

The white light shined on the ocean and gave the sky a white coloration.

Then it happened.

Kuki saw an even brighter light.

It exploded from the primary thruster on the back of the Azuchi’s rear central ship.

“–––––”

He was left speechless, so someone else spoke instead.

Nagaya-Stable: “Listen. I will now tell you what nation we are indebted to.”

Brush it aside, he thought. I have to brush aside her words.

But the wind blew in from behind him. It was a stormy wind that smelled of steel.

The Yamagata Castle!

That ship had approached quite close and it was not done yet.

And Ookubo was not done either.

Nagaya-Stable: “It was…”


Konishi felt a hand on her wrist and found herself dangling in the air.

She had been so distracted by her lernen figur that she had failed to watch where she was going.

She had not noticed the dry riverbed up ahead and nearly fell in.

Someone had saved her by grabbing her by the wrist.

W-whoa!

She felt more surprised than saved, so her heart leaped into her throat.

“Oh, ah!”

“That was a close one. Are you okay, miss?”

Wondering who this was, she looked back to find a skinny middle-aged man in Far Eastern clothing.

It was travel clothing. He wore a long cloak despite it being summer.

“Here you go.”

He pulled her back up with a decent amount of strength.

He had a long sword on his back, so was he a martial artist?

She did not know, but he and a few others had suddenly appeared this deep in the forest.

“Hey! You all help the other side withdraw! I’ve got someone I need to find so I can watch them from a distance, so we’ll meet up in Akiba!”

“Sensei, isn’t that a little too vague? And you sound like a stalker.”

“Hey, what’s wrong with being a vague stalker!? We need to buy some souvenirs for our next stop!”

He let go of her wrist and pointed east.

“Head that way, miss. You were on your way to the base, weren’t you? But we’ve already helped out most everyone there, so you’d only get yourself caught by Musashi.”

“Who are you?”

“Just some locals. We’re not taking a side in this fight, though.”

He spoke casually, gave her a toothy grin, shrugged, and held out a white handkerchief.

“We’re pretty strong.”

“I imagine so,” she said while accepting the handkerchief.

Then she looked back toward him.

“Ah.”

He had vanished at some point.

“What in the world was that?” She wiped off her face with the white cloth in her hands. “I need to pull myself together before I face the others. Because…”

She had realized something.

The roaring of shellfire, the cacophony of gunfire, and everything else had vanished.

In the deserted forest, Konishi covered her face with the white cloth while the chirping of insects filled the darkness.

“Kuki-kun.” There was a tremor in her voice. “You accepted the withdrawal, didn’t you?”


Chapter 66: Crosser at the Pier[edit]

Horizon7C 0375.jpg

Yes

I will be right there

But give me a second

Point Allocation (Satisfaction)


Kuki viewed the space that had formed the battlefield.

Kantou.

With a viewpoint from the south of the Bousou Peninsula, all the land visible from the north to the west fell under that category.

He could see the Azuchi in the sea to east and his fleet and the Mouri fleet in the sky to north.

The Yamagata Castle and the Pension Versailles were nearby to the west.

The red of flames and the black of smoke rose from the sea, the beaches, the forests, and the slopes and he heard the occasional dull boom of an explosion triggered by the fires.

But at the moment, he mostly heard the wind.

This was the sea breeze.

It blew in from the east, as if washing away the heated metal scent in the air.

He had a thought while surrounded by near silence and stillness.

I will never face a greater battle than this.

He felt this had been the greatest battle in his career. A lot had happened and he had learned so much for the first time here.

He doubted he would ever forget how he had been reunited with a powerful foe and exchanged tactics over the course of the battle.

But, he added as a reminder. Then he spoke aloud.

“Attention, everyone who fought in the Keichou Campaign. This is your representative, Kuki Yoshitaka, speaking.”

He opened his mouth and let the words out.

“We will now perform a full withdrawal from Kantou.”

He inhaled and felt impressed that his voice was not quavering.

“The history recreation of the Keichou Campaign ends here!!”


“Well done, Kuki Yoshitaka.”

Atop the Yamagata Castle’s bridge, Mogami Yoshiaki viewed Kuki from close enough to see him with the naked eye.

Dawn was approaching, but it was still dark out. The only light sources were the flames erupting from the ships and blazing upon the ground, so she only saw the man as a silhouette atop his ship’s deck.

But she nodded once and stated her assessment of him.

“You have too good a political eye to waste you as a front-line strategist.”

“What do you mean, mon!?”

“Testament.” She grabbed and stretched out Shakenobe. “This is about the nation that Ookubo says they are indebted to.”

Musashi’s Representative Council Head had spoken a single national name to Kuki.

“Sviet Rus.”


“I see.” Yoshiaki smiled bitterly. “It is true that Honjou Shigenaga won her duel against Nagaoka Tadaoki.”

“What difference does that make, mon!? What happens if Musashi gives this win to Sviet Rus!?”

“Having you around really helps me understand things better.”

She let go of stretched Shakenobe and she smiled when he snapped back to his usual length.

She hid those smiling lips behind her large fan.

“Giving Sviet Rus a victory over Hashiba gives Sviet Rus the opportunity to deter P.A. Oda or Hashiba in the future. And under Musashi’s guidance, at that.”

“What does that mean?”

“Sviet Rus shares a border with P.A. Oda. And that border is quite close to Kyoto, where Honnouji is located. Do you get what that means?”

She looked back to Kuki with her eyebrows and the corners of her lips raised.

“Kuki may have lost Kantou, but he protected everything for them. If the rights to this victory passed to Sviet Rus, Musashi might find a reason to visit them, perhaps for negotiations. And when the Honnouji Incident happens…”

“They might intervene as Sviet Rus mercenaries, mon!?”

“Having you around helps me avoid unnecessary dramatics.” She smiled bitterly. “The Battle of Uozu Castle at Novgorod will have given P.A . Oda’s Shibata forces the preparations they need to withdraw from Sviet Rus. That allows them to act once the Honnouji Incident begins, but it also prevents them from stopping Sviet Rus’s actions. You see, Sviet Rus can invade the Kyoto region not as the Uesugi clan but as Russia’s Ivan the Terrible. That means Musashi could use Sviet Rus’s victory rights to visit Honnouji as mercenaries.”

But Kuki had realized all this.

“Musashi just lost their chance to intervene in Honnouji.

“Hashiba just lost their foothold to act as a deterrent in Kantou.

“But Musashi just reclaimed Kantou.

“But Hashiba just secured Honnouji.

“This was not the best result for either party, but Musashi claimed a better result and Hashiba avoided the worst case scenario. In that sense, this was Musashi’s victory.”

“Victory, mon!”

“Testament,” she agreed while swinging down her large fan.

The fox nodded while giving a hand signal to command the Yamagata Castle to descend.

“Now, about that Ookubo who worked as a strategist for Yoshiyasu. She showed plenty of guts getting through her battles at Odawara, but she did it again here.” Yoshiaki did not bother hiding the smile on the corners of her lips. “Not many people could manage a bluff in a situation like that.”


Ookubo sent word of the battle’s end to Musashi and took a breath.

“Once again, I couldn’t trick them into it. I really wish I could have had the Yamagata Castle fire on them while dragging Sviet Rus into it.”

“Milady, you should stop pretending to be a more confident person than you are.”

“Is that how it looks? Kanou-kun, have you invented some other personality for me in your head?”

“No, no,” said Kanou while creating a summarized income and expense report.

The base in front of them was quiet now that the withdrawal had begun. The voices they heard approaching were their own side coming to report now that they did not have to pursue the Hashiba forces.

Kanou spoke while watching them all gather around.

“Milady, that was far too reckless. I mean, what was that about setting up the Azuchi’s thruster to explode? I never heard anything about that, so I nearly corrected you.”

“It made me sound more convincing, so don’t worry about it. Besides,” said Ookubo with a resigned smile. “No matter how large the ship or how thick its armor, moving while damaged will cause internal damage when the wind crashes into it. In fact, the thicker its armor, the worse the resultant damage. The group from that lost nation did well. The Azuchi had likely cut power to their primary rear thruster for peace of mind, but while that worked fine during the side flip, I doubt that would be enough to withstand the explosion of compressed atmosphere when they landed.” She raised her prosthetic left arm. “They probably weren’t aware of it because the Azuchi lacks experience, but I know it from practice. Of course,” she added. “While my threat was a bluff, the primary thruster had ruptured. The overheated ether fuel remaining inside must have looked like an explosion and the impact from that would have slowed their ‘arrival’. So I wasn’t lying at all, Kanou-kun.”

“Which is why I called it reckless, not a lie, milady.” Kanou placed a hand on her chin and sent the income and expense report to Musashi. “If you are that confident, why not try challenging the Vice President again? …What is that look supposed to mean? I haven’t seen it before.”

“You see, Kanou-kun…confidence isn’t enough to stand up to that.” Ookubo sighed. “Because she’s crazy.”


“This is crazy,” said Genan on a frosty land. “It’s summer, but the ground looks like it’s been snowing. Also, the girl who only ever followed Yoshiyori and the other Yoshiyori around is now the Satomi Representative and she defeated Hashiba.”

“Quit talking. Someone who can actually heal you will be by soon.”

No one can do that, he thought while leaning back against a tree trunk.

Yoshiyasu must have been well prepared because she had some healing spells and bandages in case of emergency and she was trying to stop his bleeding and stabilize him using those things.

“What is wrong with you, suddenly falling from the sky like that? The proof that Houjou picked a fight with Hashiba is supposed to avoid making an appearance.”

“I wasn’t alone; there were others who went ahead of me. I doubt they died fools’ deaths, so could you look into it for me?”

“I did receive a few reports of rescues. I don’t know if those rescues were successful, though.”

“Is that so?” he said with a breath of laughter.

The flavor of iron seeped into his mouth, but it was not worth bringing up. Right now, he needed to take pride in his accomplishments.

“It isn’t like Hashiba actually took part in the battle and we have no official status right now. As far as the battle was concerned, this was just some nameless fools attacking a group of unclear affiliation.” He smiled bitterly. “Besides, would you prefer I had died?”

“No one wants that.”

“Is that so?” he said with a nod.

She’s changed.

In the past, she would probably have framed everything in terms of Yoshiyori or her sister.

But now she said “no one wants that” instead of “Yoshiyori wouldn’t want that”.

Did she count herself within that “no one”?

She has learned to think for herself and live her own life, but without ever forgetting about the others.

Feeling lonely, Yoshiyori and previous Yoshiyori? You are special to her, but you are no longer the only thing she has.

“What’s so funny?”

Why did you stop treating me while saying that?

The treatment is hopeless, but stopping isn’t like you.

I have lost too much blood and – more importantly – I can tell I am at my limit. But you are not. Just like when you dueled me, you keep going no matter how many times you fail. You assume there is still something you can do.

And I will soon become one of your failures.

But do not forget.

If you see someone in a similar situation, do the same for them.

The pseudo-combination really does tax the body, he belatedly realized. I wish Vritra was here so we could discuss that and figure out how to improve the process. After thinking through it that far…

Oops.

That is not the point.

There is something I want to see.

“Sorry. Could you turn me to the west?”


“Eh? S-sure.”

Genan felt Yoshiyasu support his shoulder. She pushed on his hip with her knee and slowly turned him to the west.

Houjou lay in that direction.

Of course, reality was not so kind. He still could not focus his eyes. His blood pressure was too low to gather any strength in his eyes.

But he knew it was there past the coastline leading from the Miura Peninsula and its burning ships.

“If we had conquered Satomi, I probably would have had this exact same view.”

“The reverse thought never would have occurred to me in Odawara.” Yoshiyasu sighed but then said more. “Thank you.”

“No need.”

He had already received her thanks in Odawara. And at the moment…

“I should be the one thanking you.”

“Why?”

“I fulfilled my duty to Yoshiyori.”

Because…

“I lived and made it back.”

Do you understand?

“His actions are what led me here.”

“Is that so?”

Her trembling voice dropped toward his shoulder.

“Same for me.”

And…

“I will lead you from here on.”

“Is that so?”

She did not ask him if he would be coming.

She understood that much. She was smart. Just a little too straightforward.

But that was why he felt as if they had reached some kind of conclusion here.

“Will you be going then?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Then,” he said. “We will watch from here. From this point on the path we paved.”

He took a deep breath.

Indeed.

We.

If she would talk about “everyone”, then it had to be “we” for him.

The others would likely end up following that diligent young leader wherever she might go, so he would hold them here.

The others being Yoshiyori, the previous Yoshiyori, and everyone else who had been lost.

We will be watching from here, so do not worry.”

“Judge.”

You could use ‘testament’, you know? There is no need to carry any guilt here, he silently added with a bitter smile in his heart. But…

Oh.

Strength was leaving him, starting with his fingers. His pulse was returning from his limbs and not being sent out again.

He breathed in to regather his strength.

It was summer, but the air entering his lungs was cold and clear. When he exhaled, he could smell his own blood on it, but at the same time…

“Satomi is a wonderful land. It is surrounded by ocean, but there are no major mountains and the forest air comes and goes as it pleases.”

The morning sun crested the horizon. Or he felt like it had.

In Houjou, he had always seen the dawn while looking past Satomi.

This was something Houjou definitely did not have. Was it childish to start thinking of it that way only now?

I’m so young.

He smiled bitterly and redirected his gaze forward as he felt the warm light.

Once he could see that light, he stayed like that.

Everything came to a stop.


“Genan.”

Genan looked up when he heard his name.

He was on the Odawara beach, at the end of a pier jutting out over the water. He was dangling some fishing line into the ocean and someone had called out to him from behind, but he knew who it was without looking back.

“Souun? What is it?”

“Testament. That annoying bunch has approved the mechanical phoenix development request you submitted.”

“Took them long enough. Did it finally get into their thick heads that crossing the bay in a flash with a mechanical phoenix is the safer option?”

“Testament. The other side has been picking a lot of fights with us of late. We named ourselves Houjou and drove out the remnants of the shogunate, but who would have thought those remnants would form a new group on the opposite coast?”

“I know what you mean,” he replied with a bitter smile. He pulled up his hook after a fish took the bait without getting caught. “I do feel guilty about this, so I would prefer you didn’t attack me for it.”

“Wait, are you using fishing paste for bait?”

“I don’t like using live bait.”

“Ha,” laughed the voice. “Yet you had the guts to request R&D for a mechanical phoenix?”

“Personally, I would have preferred a mechanical dragon.”

“That would require currying Ise-sama’s favor a lot more than you already have.”

“It would increase the survival rate. And honestly…I don’t want to die. If I die, I can’t serve all of you in the fourth generation.”

“Hey. Do you really think you can defeat the opposite coast with an attitude like that? Then again, an administrative type like you getting involved in war is a lot like seeing it snow at this time of year.”

“Testament. But you know what, Souun?” Genan attached more bait and held the hook up to see how well it was on there. “I can’t help but wonder when this conflict will finally end.”

“You didn’t know, Genan?”

“Know what?” he asked without looking back.

“It’s already over,” answered the voice. “Thanks to all of you.”

“–––––”

He gasped and lowered the rod.

He stood up on the pier and turned around.

There was no one there.

The pier was entirely empty, but beyond it he could see the beach, the embankment, the city of Odawara, and the newly-built Odawara Castle.

It was a sunny summer day.

He inhaled and began walking along the pier.

“That’s right.”

It was time to return to the city and visit the castle. He could talk with everyone there.

“The war is over. I saw it end.”

And…

“The world is a bigger place than just Odawara or Kantou. Those children will enter that wider world without giving it a second thought.”

He picked up his pace as he walked up the pier. He walked on the sand and past that too.

“Everyone.”

He could hear the hustle and bustle of the city. He could hear voices calling for him in the distance.

He walked out into the midst of all those familiar sounds and voices.

“Can you believe it, everyone?”

Yes.

“It was us! We paved the way for them!”


Yoshiyasu silently bowed toward the long-lived old man who looked like he was sleeping but had stopped moving altogether.

The darkness of night still surrounded them, but in the final moment, he had looked up as if seeing some kind of light.

In the hopes that he saw something that made him happy in that brief moment, she chose not to close his eyes.

“That’s right.”

She looked in the same direction he had: toward Houjou.

“Only after losing the Houjou name could our paths converge.”

She wiped something out of her eyes.

“Satomi too will eventually lose its name and disappear.”

But…

“We will have somewhere else to go once that happens.”

She opened a sign frame and set it to send to everyone. She breathed in and raised her voice in the moonlight reflected off of the white plain.

“I, Satomi Yoshiyasu, declare this battle over! The Kantou Liberation has been completed, so the fighting has ended!”

She did not take a breath. She had plenty of words left in her lungs. So…

“Everyone, it is time to give a parting bow to our predecessors who paved the way here.”

Her voice filled the sky.

“From now on, we will support Musashi and work alongside them!”


Chapter 67: Storyteller Below the Roof[edit]

Horizon7C 0393.jpg

Oh, dear

We don’t have much time

Do we?

Point Allocation (We do not)


“Hashiba-sama and the others didn’t arrive in time for the Keichou Campaign?” asked a voice at the top of a cramped room.

It was Sakon.

She sat up inside a small room on the transport ship.

She had been sleeping.

The Battle of Nördlingen was being fought in the early morning, but since she had needed to board the transport ship, Sakon had not gotten any sleep until now. Waking up from 6x compressed sleep was not pleasant, but…

My head feels a lot clearer now.

However, she was not in a general-use nap room. Those had triple bunk beds lined up along the walls, so there was no space for someone 3m tall to lie down. She had tried it once, but the shaking of the ship had sent her legs across the gap and into the next bed over. The hem of her pajamas had worked its way up and embarrassed her so bad she had wanted to die.

That had convinced her to go with the administrative officer’s original suggestion and borrow a room for herself.

It was not an actual bedroom since this was a transport ship, but as a storeroom for valuables, it had proper air conditioning and it was vacant since no valuables would be loaded on the ship when it was heading to a battlefield.

There was no bed for her to use, so she had spread out the special-order blanket she had brought with her and slept on that. Everyone told her she should get something nicer, but she had always slept on the floor or on a mat before inheriting her name. Sleeping on straw had been fairly comfortable, but she had developed a rash on her back. This special-order blanket had been the very first thing she bought with the money provided upon her name inheritance. She loved that it was long enough to cover her feet. Maybe I should go for a truly forbidden item like a pillow next. A down pillow. Ooh.

Anyway, she had the blanket to thank for waking up so quickly from the compressed sleep.

When she woke up, a lernen figur opened to tell her how long until they arrived in Nördlingen and that they were about to catch up Transport Ship #1 which had left first and used a different route.

“Is it visible yet?”

She pressed her cheek against the window, but she could only see a dimly-lit world. The light below outlined the roads of a few towns and villages. She thought it looked pretty.

But we’re here to fight a battle.

That’s unavoidable, she thought.

“I don’t really get it, but it sounds like the Keichou Campaign did not end well for us.”

She had grown up in the sticks, so she felt out of her element thinking about global affairs.

Besides, she had been born in Austria, so Far Eastern affairs were even more of a mystery to her. She had studied those things, but that only gave her basic knowledge and the details were still beyond her. But more than that…

“I’m worried about being in an actual battle.”

She was a coward and a crybaby, so she was pretty sure she would cause lots of trouble and disappoint everyone, but at this point, going to Mitsunari and apologizing would not change anything.

She would have to do this no matter what happened.

“That’s right.”

She stood up, but raising her hips brought her head right to the ceiling. She sat back down on the blanket and changed from her pajamas to her inner suit.

“Mitsunari-sama really is weird.”

That had been her wholehearted impression when she had been recruited.

But she still remembered what Mitsunari had said back then.

“I am a data entity, so I have no emotions.”


Sakon recalled what happened back then. For security purposes, everyone but her had left the faculty room and an anti-data stealth field had been set up by a Catholic spell.

The field had been powerful enough to affect Mitsunari’s body, so there had been static in her voice.

“I can make statistical reactions to events, but I have no emotions. Thus, I cannot imagine what you are feeling now or what you will feel on the battlefield.”

Meaning…

“You could say what I want is your ability, not you as a person.”

“Then…”

Sakon had felt something similar to disappointment then.

She had thought about what that meant and answered while trying not to be rude.

“Am I a tool?”

If so, that was the end of it. She could not stand to think of herself being used like a machine. No matter how important this person was and no matter what their reasons were, she did not want to have her humanity brushed aside.

So that would be the end of it.

But Mitsunari had placed a hand on her chin and replied.

“No. You are not a tool. I am the tool.”

“But…”

“I have no emotions, so I will likely say things and provide instructions that fail to comprehend your emotions. But that does not mean that you are not allowed to be a human in your everyday life or on the battlefield.”

“Isn’t that being awfully cruel?”

Because…

“You’re telling me to keep my emotions while I hurt people on the battlefield?”

“While I understand the logic of your question, I do not understand its essence. However…”

However…

“I do understand that I might give orders you disagree with or that place a burden on you since I do not understand emotions. And from a statistical standpoint, that would qualify as a bad thing.”

“Then…?”

“But I still need your ability.”

Sakon had found herself speechless at the time.

Mitsunari understood that she was ignoring Sakon’s humanity. And she seemed to understand that doing so was a bad thing.

But she still wanted Sakon. However…

I can’t.

She really could not. Mitsunari did not truly understand her.

She did understand that ignoring Sakon’s humanity was a bad thing, but only from a logical perspective. She did not understand why it bothered Sakon so much.

She only made that decision because she could place it in the category of “bad things”.

But, she had thought back then.

My height.

My long arms and legs.

My strength.

The other abilities I don’t want.

When reaching out toward someone, she had to call out to them first.

She always had to be looking out for other people and restraining herself, but this person wanted her.

This was not like the cats stuck in a tree that she could save just by reaching out her hands.

Nor was it like how she could act as an umbrella for the others on rainy days.

It was also not like how she would reach a guiding arm around the children so the line would not fall apart.

She would not be helping someone to create a place for herself.

Someone was creating a place for her because they wanted her help.

And that was the problem.

It was clearly a natural way of tempting her. Freedom from the restraint she placed on herself was being used as bait. However…

“It is true you will likely be hurt on the battlefield and have trouble dealing with your emotions, but if you do make use of your ability, I will give meaning to everything about you.”

“Even if I cry and say I can’t stand it anymore?”

“Testament. If you feel that way, please blame me. Because that is the price for the ability I desire.”

In other words…

“Because I lack emotions, I will have you be my emotional side. I view everything in terms of ability, so I will have you take the place of my empty emotional side. How about that?”

“Are you sure?”

“About what?”

“I’m pretty sure I’ll get scared, tremble, not be able to move, cry, say I can’t stand it anymore, and run away.”

“I do not mind.” Mitsunari’s voice was calm. “Because even if you do that, you are the only one with the ability I desire.”

She’s so dumb, Sakon had thought. What is she even talking about?

If she did that as a name inheritor, it could mean the history recreation would fail.

Was Mitsunari overestimating her and assuming she would not actually do that?

“What if I refuse to take the inherited name?”

“Then I will take Shima Sakon as a double inherited name.”

“What about the ability you need? I thought you didn’t have that on your own.”

“Testament.” Mitsunari nodded. “If the only other option is to use someone else, I will erase any thought of that ability from myself.”

“Even though that other person might be useful on the battlefield, while I would be entirely useless?”

“That is fine. You are the only one I can see as Shima Sakon and entrust with my emotions. No matter how useful they might be in other matters, that only applies to other matters.”

She really had not known what to say to that.

No one had ever wanted her that badly. But on the other hand, she knew accepting this offer would eventually hurt her. However…

“–––––”

In order to get a better look at the person saying all these things to her, she had reached a hand out toward the lernen figur in front of her.

And as soon as she had moved her right hand, she had realized that she had not called out to Mitsunari and moved her hand around in a less direct path so as not to frighten her.

Oops.

But what happened next was different from normal.

Inside the lernen figur, Mitsunari let her touch her without even flinching.

Oh, I see.

She had no emotions, so she had little fear and never flinched.

“I see.”

She had then stood up, bringing her head near the ceiling.

But she had also picked Mitsunari’s lernen figur up with both hands.

That’s right.

She had had plenty of chances to reach out and touch people before.

But what if she could do this with something other than a doll or stuffed animal?

“Mitsunari-sama? If I do return from the battlefield and I was moved to emotion…”

She lifted up Mitsunari’s lernen figur, shook it up and down, and held it to her chest.

“Can I do this to you?”

“If you wish.”

“Then that settles it.”

She made up her mind, there in the silent faculty room with the setting sun shining in the window.

“I will entrust my ability to you.”


She had cried a lot after that.

She thought back to all the training she had gone through.

Some people just aren’t cut out for these things.

She really did not like the idea of going to the battlefield and forcing things on other people. During training, she had often wondered why she was doing this and ended up crying. But…

“This is the real deal and I want to do whatever I can.”

Still, she was worried about her own equipment.

The Shibata forces and Niwa forces had sent over two mobile shells they had joint developed.

There was apparently an autonomous one on the #1 ship that had taken the lead.

The one meant for her had only had the OS installed this very morning, so she was going in without any practice at all. She had gone through mobile shell compatibility training, but…

“I hope this works out.”

Once she had finished dressing, she stood up. She would soon be putting on that mobile shell and the people in charge of that stuff would make some final adjustments. Then she would probably be sent out to the battlefield, so she had to pull herself together.

But as she ducked and stepped out into the corridor, she opened a lernen figur. It told her the mobile shell in the hangar had been initialized and she could head down there now.

The hardened wood corridor was dimly lit and she had to duck down to get through.

“But how do you read the name of the mobile shell’s OS?”

The name was written there on her lernen figur. Since that would be her primary equipment, she would probably get to know that name very well.

She saw three Far Eastern characters there.

“Onibumaru? Onitakemaru?” she muttered as she walked down the dimly-lit corridor and tried to figure out the correct reading.


Christina carried some tea and teacakes down a dimly-lit corridor.

They were for her and for Tomoe Gozen.

Her maid Maria had said she would carry them, but she had to leave the estate soon. The Testament said she was not here for the final moment.

Christina would die alone. She had to.

Although I get the feeling Tomoe Gozen is trying to stop me.

She sighed and looked around.

She saw a wall of explosives there.


Christina was satisfied.

She currently had explosives set up across all of the estate’s walls, its ceiling, and below its floor.

No fire was allowed anywhere near the estate. It was not to explode until the scheduled time.

Now then.

The world was in motion.

She felt like she was being ignored and left behind.

What would happen to the world if she fulfilled her history recreation?

“What will become of the world? Yes.”

The world was in the middle of the Warring States period and the Thirty Years’ War.

In her opinion, great men and women really seemed to like war.

Their battles set the age in motion and their departure did the same.

But the latter was a problem. It could happen by accident and was unpredictable.

Her predecessor, Gustav II, was a good example.

He was a great man who had used new tactics and weapons to transform Sweden into a powerful nation.

But as per the Testament, he died unexpectedly in battle.

If not for that death, she would be in a very different position now. Sweden would have gained a wider reputation as a powerful nation and she would have held more meaning for Europe by acting as a branch office for that nation.

But that was not how it had turned out.

So she had to wonder just how “set in stone” the Testament and the history recreation really were.

She knew she was traveling along those rails and she had used that to her advantage, but her predecessor’s death had cut her off from the current age.

She had not been “set in stone”. She had only thought she was.

“Our nation is the same,” she said aloud.

The powerful nation of Sweden played a large role in the Thirty Years’ War and it had benefited a lot from that position.

But that had all changed with her predecessor’s death.

The benefits they had gained were stolen by other nations and all that remained was her history recreation as an advocate of peace. Her subordinates had continued fighting the war, but her position at the top had made it hard to take things.

Her predecessor had been able to take things.

She could not.

That meant her presence had weakened Sweden.

But, she thought.

If I die as part of the history recreation, Sweden no longer has to worry about me. Then can they start taking again?

She did not know.

But she knew her presence was a problem.

Sweden had to seek peace as long as she lived.

And she knew that Sweden’s national borders and international standing would be determined during the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years’ War.

That was their one and only chance.

They had just one shot at it.

She wished her predecessor could have represented them there while she stayed here, sending him information, using her connections, and supporting all their efforts to ensure Sweden won.

“Yes,” she said. “I wish I could have seized the world in my hands.”


Seized the world.

She did not involve herself in international politics, she did not fight wars, and she did not manage money.

All she had was information.

She had no intention of setting the world in motion with her actions and she would not claim to do so.

She had simply wanted a worry-free world where everything lay before her and she understood it all.

She wanted to seize the world by understanding it.

Just like the House of Habsburg had seized the current world through marriage.

For her, it was information.

She wanted to know everything, pinpoint what someone wanted to know, pass that onto them, and gather everything needed to keep the world running smoothly.

She wanted to know every last piece of the world.

And a while after coming here, she had felt like she might just be able to do it.

It had hit her when Sweden’s state of affairs had reached her even though she was so far away and had a Far Eastern position.

If she used her double inherited name to act as a Swedish branch office during the Thirty Years’ War, she wondered if she could bind together not just Europe but the entire world.

She had thought she could seize everything by using the nation of Sweden and her predecessor as a guide.

It just might have worked if that predecessor was still alive, but…

“Now it would be more difficult.”

Now that she had taken her predecessor’s position as Chancellor, it would be impossible to convert her actions of peace into actions of taking.

Her dream had died once she had lost that backing.

And she wondered if the history recreation could save people at all.

“I really don’t know.”

Her dream had died and Sweden was headed in a direction different from the future she had initially hoped for.

Would her history recreation save Sweden by providing them with one final chance?

If it would…

“Hee hee.”

She recalled her visit to Nijou Castle in the city of Kyou. She knew a lot about the boy who had faced her at that dinner party.

She had looked into it.

He had told her not to die and said a lot more, but she had said goodbye to him.

It’s a tricky thing.

If her history recreation would make her wish come true, then…

“How could that boy make my wish come true?”

She took a breath and entered the room in front of the garden.

“Tomoe Gozen, I have brought tea and teacakes.”


“Toori-kun, wait.”

A white mass shook in the dim light. Cloth rustled and a voice cried out.

“N-no.”

The white mass shrieked and arched their back.

“Not so many sweet desserts. I’ll get fat!”

With her hands thrust out in front of her, Asama sprang up to a sitting position.

Huh!?

She could tell she had just woken up.

She was pretty sure she had been having some kind of incredible dream, but she had no memory of it. Waking up so suddenly must have driven it from her mind.

I am pretty sweaty, so there must have been a lot of movement involved. Could it have been a legit dirty dream? What a shame I don’t remem- no, it isn’t a shame. I shouldn’t cling to what’s already gone. Farewell, dirty drea- no, I don’t know for sure it was a dirty dream. Let’s see what keywords I can still remember.

“Toori-kun, forcing me to do something, licking, swallowing.”

But on the other hand…

“Fatty, creamy, buttery, tea, large servings, the Main Blue Thunder, plates upon plates.”

Yeah, Western desserts will get you fat, she realized. But I have to eat what I’m served. And that would work up a sweat.

“Hmm,” she groaned while looking up at the dark ceiling. I did get a good night’s sleep regardless, she decided.

“…!”

She quickly checked on two things.

First, she made sure Hanami was not awake.

Good.

She had needed sleep for the role she had been given, but she had been curious what would happen in Satomi. If anything was lost, it could cost him his life.

So she had set it up so Hanami would wake her up if anything major happened. But…

“Looks like that didn’t happen.”

Hanami had not woken her. The spell she had put together had woken her up instead.

Once she had calmed down a little, she checked on the situation in Satomi.

The battle was ongoing, but it was safely headed toward an ending. The other side would have to announce the end of hostilities, but it appeared that was more of a formality than anything at this point.

Her system would be relaying all of that to Masazumi and to him, so she left the divine transmission settings in place.

Once she saw the income and expense report and the general report from Kanou, the actual losses came into focus.

Asama: “Um, Toori-kun? Are you up?”

Me: “Yeah, I am, I am. I’m eating some dessert.”

Asama: “D-d-dessert?”

Why do I sound so shrill?

Me: “Yeah. Bell-san’s place has a built-in ice room, right? There’s some castella cream sandwiches in there. Y’know, those red bean paste and castella sandwiches we’ve had imported since going to Sviet Rus.”

Curious, she walked over on her knees and opened the ice room in the corner of the changing room.

Asama: “Huh? There’s nothing in ours.”

She had a vague memory of something like that being in there before.

Me: “There’s not? Then I’ll make you some later.”

Asama: “Eh!? But, um, I’ll get fat.”

Me: “You don’t have to eat a giant plateful of them or anything.”

Asama: “Now that you mention it.”

She had no idea why she had assumed she would. She noticed the arms were awake and peeking inside the ice room, but there was no portable fuel for prosthetics in there.

So she opened a sign frame and used an ether transfer from the divine network to produce some ether fuel meant for Mice.

Some took the form of food, but others took the form of accessories. She summoned two ribbon ones and tied them around the arms’ wrists. They bowed and returned to Horizon.

Should I really be doing stuff like this?

She wondered that while returning to her futon, pulling the blanket up to her shoulders, and collapsing down.

She was not going back to sleep. Everyone else was still asleep, but she had a lot to check on using her sign frame. A lot of information, such as foreign relations information, had to be kept secret until she had permission from Masazumi. And at the moment…

I need to know what’s happening in Satomi.

Since he was up, he would know a lot about that.

She wanted to catch up as soon as possible. That was what she wanted to do now and it was the role the others had given her. And then…

Me: “What are you doing? I’ve been gathering materials this whole time.”

Asama: “Materials?”

Me: “Judge. For all of you. Sis has gotten way ahead of you and matching her probably won’t be easy, but I feel like maybe you don’t have to.”

She was not quite sure if being included in this was a good thing or not.

But it was he who brought up the topic she had been interested in.

Me: “Sounds like Flatty and Ookubo have been working hard back in Satomi.”

Asama: “Really? What are things like there?”

She asked the question on her mind.

She did not know how things had reached their current point and she did not know how he felt about it.

She used his statement as a chance to ask about it. She did wonder if she was worrying too much, but…

Hmm. Horizon is fast asleep right now and even Kimi is asleep.

“Have they made me the designated worrier?”

No, that can’t be it. Even Horizon would make sure he didn’t feel sad if she were awake. Yes, as soon as he showed any sign of sadness, she would punch him right in the gu-…no, she would let him off with a punch to the jaw. Probably.

She saw the two arms start some shadow boxing, so at least the punching part had to be accurate.

At any rate, he responded to the question she had asked without hesitation.

Me: “I guess I’d say even Flatty must be happy with this result.”

Asama: “Yes, she can take things too seriously sometimes.”

“Right?” he replied.

Me: “And Yoshiyori must be happy with it too.”


Thank goodness, thought Asama when she heard that.

The lack of a reaction from the spell contract was proof enough that he did not feel sad.

Hence the thank goodness.

Asama: “So they’ve settled things for now?”

Me: “Yeah.”

After a moment, he quickly added more.

Me: “But don’t tell Horizon, okay? She’d think I was feeling sad and punch me right in the gu-…no, in the jaw.”

Unfortunately, she was fairly certain it was the arms he had to worry about, not Horizon herself.

But that must have removed the lid because he kept speaking.

Me: “It’s great, isn’t it? I mean, since we took Flatty in and teased her a bunch, we’ve gotta do this right, don’t we?”

Asama: “Yes. She had a good upbringing, so she gets angry when things aren’t done right.”

Me: “Yeah, but I guess this proved that our way of doing things is the right one.”

Asama: “That sounds like something Masazumi might say, which isn’t exactly reassuring.”

Something occurred to her while she was talking.

Wait. Is he comforting himself by talking with me?

This was a shared secret. It was a conversation he could only have because of his relationship with her.

Wow.

She made sure this chat would be automatically saved and then twisted around. She grabbed the sign frame, curled up, and dove head first under the covers. Then she pulled the text close to her eyes.

She could not believe it.

Wait, wait, wait. This is hardly the first time this has happened, she frantically told herself. We always talk like this. But…

“I’m not used to being aware of it,” she added while mentally hanging her head.

She still could not believe it, but she was enough used to it to wish she had been aware of it in the past.

Meanwhile, he was the same as always.

Me: “Well, Flatty really did work hard.”

Asama: “Y-yes, she did everything she had to do.”

They were no longer talking about Satomi Yoshiyori.

The topic had changed from the past to the present. And now to the future.

Asama: “How are you going to reward her?”

Me: “What would you do?”

Good question, she thought.

Asama: “Maybe give her a bonus divine protection service without adding to the loan covering her god of war expenses.”

Me: “That seems too coldly realistic to me.”

Asama: “But my family runs a shrine and she is a fighter.”

However…

Asama: “We do need to send her some kind of message, don’t we?”

She checked the report and saw that Naomasa was fine too. For once, the Suzaku had not been entirely destroyed.

She was happy to see that no one close to her had been lost.

That seemed selfish to her, but it meant less of a burden on him.

So she sent that information to him and to Masazumi who was still asleep.

Asama: “Isn’t that great, Toori-kun?”

Me: “For Flatty, you mean?”

No, she thought.

For him.

Horizon would probably thank him when she heard about the result of the Kantou Liberation.

Mito would probably congratulate him.

And this was what Asama had to say to him. Probably.

They had in fact lost Houjou Genan and many of those who had attacked as nameless fighters, including Ujiteru, were missing. He must have seen that if he was watching the real-time information.

But those people had accomplished something.

You understand that, don’t you?

They had learned something from Satomi’s Yoshiyori, from Date’s Kojirou and Komahime, from Sanada’s Celestial Dragons and ninjas, from Takigawa, and from so many others they had met or communicated with.

Horizon seemed to have learned how to take a broader view of life and death and how to live one’s life. And for him…

Asama: “It’s about relationships, isn’t it?”

They were different for everyone. And some were much bigger than between two individuals.

Asama: “I think everyone has their own relationships and those are what give them goals and thoughts to fulfill. So when people go to accomplish their goals, they don’t want to see only bad things there, Toori-kun.”

And…

Asama: “Even if there are bad things there, Shinto can convert those into good fortune.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess that is what happened this time.”

Asama: “It is.”

She made sure to quickly add more.

Asama: “But if something were to happen to you, we wouldn’t be able to give up on you.”

Me: “Did I worry you?”

Asama: “If you ever didn’t, we wouldn’t have the relationship we do now.”

Me: “Yeah, and that makes things a lot easier for me.”

She smiled bitterly at that. And then she repeated her earlier statement.

Asama: “Isn’t that great, Toori-kun?”

So…

Asama: “I think it is.”


Toori nodded at Asama’s statement.

That’s right.

“It is great.”

It felt real as he put it to words. He also felt the sleepiness hitting him all of a sudden.

Me: “I wish I could thank or congratulate Yoshiyori. But I guess I can say it to Flatty and the others from Satomi instead.”

Asama: “What are you going to say first?”

Good question, he thought. But then it hit him.

Me: “You kick ass, I guess.”

Asama: “Ohh.”

Me: “Why is that such a surprise?”

Asama: “Well, I just think Yoshiyori-san would have loved to hear you say that.”

I hope he would, thought Toori.

Me: “I’m gonna make sure I kick ass too, so will you help me out?”

Asama: “You know we will. And remember what Masazumi said about the current you and the future you in comparison to the old you?”

He did kind of remember that.

She has trouble just coming out and giving people compliments.

But…

Me: “I want to be like that to. In a way only Mr. Impossible can.”


“I suppose so,” agreed Asama.

She felt like it had been a long time since she had heard him talking about the future.

Asama: “You should talk about this with Horizon too.”

Me: “Horizon wouldn’t listen to this schmaltzy stuff.”

He has a point, she realized while hanging her head below the blanket.

She could imagine what Horizon would say if he tried to talk about this with her:

“Then your next task can be trying to live as an honest human being.”

Or,

“Ho ho? And what about that is so great?”

Asama: “B-but that’s just her tsun side coming out! If you keep at it, she’ll figure it out in her own way…in her own horrifying way.”

Me: “Stop trying to depress meeeeee!”

She realized that his relationships tended toward the extreme in one direction or another.

She sighed as she realized she was one example of that.

Asama: “But even she has started smiling recently, so she should be able to accept what you’re saying, how she reacts notwithstanding.”

Me: “Eh? She smiles?”

Asama: “Yes, she does. Wait, have you…not…seen…it?”

Me: “…”

Asama: “D-don’t die! Next time I see it, I’ll snap a photo for you!”

Me: “Yeah, please do.”

I shouldn’t have mentioned that, she realized while growing a lot less confident she had actually seen it herself.

But anyway, she thought while pushing herself up on her elbows.

This felt something like unlocking a small bonus stage.

Asama: “Okay, Toori-kun, I have to prepare for the morning, so I need to get going.”

They had discussed a lot and, thinking back, a lot of it seemed fairly embarrassing.

I really shouldn’t be able to say that I think it’s great too. At least not yet.

Asama: “I wouldn’t have been able to say a lot of that if anyone else was up.”

Mar-Ga: “Really? Then I’m glad I kept quiet.”

Her blood temperature dropped by about three degrees.


Naruze saw the shrine maiden spring up on her elbows.

“That’s an exciting way to wake up.”

“N-N-N-N-Naruze?”

“Yesss?”

Naruze smiled in order to put the girl at ease. She also held up the castella cream sandwich she had gotten from the ice room as a reward for completing her storyboard earlier.

“Heh heh. Asama? I thought that was great too. Great material, I mean.”

“H-how much of it did you hear?”

“All of it, of course. I was up the whole time.”

“Get some sleep! It’s good for your health and your looks! Besides, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard!”

“Eh, this is normal for me.”

“Hold on. That only works when you’re young, you know?”

“Fair enough,” agreed Naruze. “And if I can get away with it when I’m young, that means you can’t complain about me doing it now. I just have to learn how to get to sleep early once I’m older.”

They saw Sanyou-sensei dashing away after taking one step inside the bathhouse entrance.

“Ah, Sanyou-sensei! Aren’t you doing that gag an awful lot recently!?”

“She must be busy.” Naruze smiled. “But I’m glad to see you two get along so well. Yes, and I was especially glad to see the part where you grew all flustered. Take a look at your bottom half.”

“My bottom half?”

Asama’s gaze dropped to below her hips.

“Your pajamas pulled up above that part a while back.”

“B-but, um, uh.”

“And your waist on down were sticking out from the blanket and wiggling around.”

“I-I was not wiggling. I don’t wiggle.”

“This video begs to differ.”

“W-w-wait just a second, Naruze!” Asama quickly pulled down the hem of her pajamas. “Did you film anything else?”

“Do you really think I of all people would miss that golden opportunity?”

“Yeah, I suppose not.” Asama accepted it with a smile, but then she grabbed the empty space to her right in both hands and set it down to her left. “But that isn’t the point.”

“Oh, I took some photos too. Like your face while you slept. See?” Naruze tossed over a Magie Figur and made sure to say one more thing. “I sent it to the Chancellor.”


Asama quickly flipped through the Magie Figur’s images to check them all.

Oh, I’m not the only one.

In addition to her sleeping face, there were images of Mitotsudaira and of the two arms.

“Um, we’re in the same category as the arms?”

“Horizon’s defenses were too tough, so I couldn’t get one of her.”

That makes sense, she thought while flipping through, but then she came across a butt.

She was not sure she had ever seen it before, so why was she so certain it was her own? But…

Oh.

She frantically set down the Magie Figur.

“What’s the matter?”

“Y-you know exactly what it is, don’t you!? Don’t you!?”

While Naruze smiled in an oddly excited way, Asama lifted back up the Magie Figur to check the image.

This was not the aforementioned video. For one thing, the timestamp said it was from when she was still asleep.

There was one thing she had to ask about.

“Um, Naruze?”

“Yesss? I’ll answer any question you have, Asama. Because you always give me such great material.”

“Then,” she started. “Did you send this butt photo to Toori-kun?”

“Hah. Do you really think I’ll answer that?”

“Y-you went back on your word quick!”

“What does it matter?” The Technohexen smiled and pointed toward the wall to the boy’s bath. “If you’re that curious, why not ask him yourself?”

“I couldn’t! I couldn’t possibly!”

The arms lifted their wrists and gave her dual thumbs ups, but she was not sure what that meant.

She grabbed a nearby sign frame in order to change the subject. At this time of night, anything she saw could be used as a new topic, so it was all useful to her.

“Honestly,” she grumbled in exasperation and found the sign frame showed the sleeping status of the boys. “Hm, so Toori-kun is the only one up.”

“Neshinbara put up a pretty good fight, though. He kept monitoring the situation in Satomi and checking for any information from Nördlingen. Of course, Masazumi will summarize all that for us come morning anyway.”

That sounded like him. But aside from him…

“Oh, the Nagaoka boy is actually asleep.”

“Once he wakes up, you have to do his immigration and defection processing, right? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for that?”

“No, most of that is already ready. But in Nördlingen…”

“The battle formations are already taking shape.” Naruze pointed at the sign frame Asama held. “But Tomoe Gozen says she’s trying to convince Lady Nagaoka. Maybe I’m judging a book by its cover, but that seems strange to me. I mean, Tomoe Gozen is a warrior and the name inheritor of Luther, the father of Protestantism. I thought she would be a militarist who insisted the history recreation was carried out to the letter.”

“Yes,” agreed Asama concerning Tomoe Gozen. “I have some information on her since she did some Shinto related things concerning the Emperor. I looked into her history on the Shinto side when we met her before and during the meeting with Shirakawa’s Yasuhira the night before the three-nations negotiation, so I learned some things about her.”

Asama summed it up as briefly as she could.

“Most likely, Tomoe Gozen is opposed to forcing the history recreation onto people.”


“There are a lot of things you don’t understand until the time comes, aren’t there?”

Christina looked up into the early morning sky with Tomoe Gozen seated next to her.

She saw the imperial fleet and anti-imperial fleet lining up in the southern sky.

“To be honest, I thought no one would take this seriously once the battle in Kantou ended.”

“Would you have preferred that?”

“I think I was being too self-conscious.”

Tomoe Gozen lifted her shoulders at that.

“You have a troublesome personality, you know that? But anyway, there is a lot we don’t know about everything. That is just how it is, Christina.”

“Are you going to ask me to wait to die until I do understand?”

“No, I am not,” cut in Tomoe Gozen. “Besides, you can still die of illness while waiting. If you fail to understand before that happens, then it is too late by the time you do. Then the survivors will worry that they received nothing from you.”

“Are you talking to me here, or yourself?”

“Good question.” Tomoe Gozen pulled her hat down over her eyes. “How about I tell you an old and unnecessary story?”

About…

“There once was one a woman who insisted that a successful history recreation was in fact an abject failure.”


Chapter 68: Good Listener Below the Roof[edit]

Horizon7C 0429.jpg

Um

But, well

How about

We actually discuss this?

Point Allocation (Curious)


Naruze leaned against the bathhouse dressing room’s wall and raised her pen toward Asama.

“Listen,” she said to gather the other girl’s attention. “This might make good material and it might set the stage for something. You claim Tomoe Gozen may have been opposed to the history recreation. That sounds like an interesting historical suspense story, so I can use it like I do the divine radio while working on my manuscript.”

“That’s a good idea,” said Asama as she got up and opened a sign frame.

Asama: “Do you want to hear about Tomoe Gozen too, Toori-kun?”

Me: “She did seem to have some kind of history, but are you sure it isn’t a sad story that’ll make me cry?”

Mar-Ga: “She’s still active as a ghost, so she must have had a positive outlook by the end. Whatever happened to her, she still wants to stay in this world.”

Naruze smiled bitterly when she saw Asama look up.

“That’s my thanks for giving me such great material.”

“Naruze, you’re in such a good mood you feel like someone else entirely.”

“Judge. That’s what happens when I get such good material to work with.”

“Fine, fine,” said Asama while raising her sign frame.

Asama: “Um, okay. Let’s talk about a mystery or slight oddity concerning Tomoe Gozen.”

Me: “You saying her boobs are fake?”

Asama: “No, those look very real. As someone who has gone through the same struggles, there’s something about her movements and the way she balances herself that I recognize. …But that’s not the point.”

Mar-Ga: “That would be a surprise though, you have to admit.”

“I suppose,” replied Asama as the arms mimicked propping up a head in interest next to her.

Asama: “This has to do with her husband, Minamoto Yoshinaka, who was known as Lord Kiso.”


“Now,” said Asama as she scrolled through her sign frame.

All of this had been sent to Masazumi as well.

She would provide information on the people with some connection to Musashi, especially when they had a connection to Shinto or were a historical figure – and especially especially when they were from a period in history that Neshinbara would invent weird fantasies about.

Tomoe Gozen fell into that category.

We don’t have much time, so I need to get right to the point.

Asama: “Tomoe Gozen was actually Minamoto Yoshinaka’s mistress. His actual wife was someone else.”

“That sounds awfully familiar.”

Asama wanted to shout “I knew you would say that!”, but she could not stop the flush rising from her neck. She blushed far too easily these days. Did she just have to get used to it? But…

Me: “So what kind of relationship did this Yoshinaka have with Tomoe Gozen?”

Asama: “Well, he actually had two wives.”

Mar-Ga: “Wow, so he was a player. So who were the two?”

Asama: “Um, well, this is kind of a pain to explain, but he was born in Shinano and he took a wife when he moved to Kyou.”

However, the Testament described what happened later.

Asama: “When he was ultimately driven out by Yoritomo and Yoshitsune’s forces and living on the run, he told Tomoe Gozen that he was worried about the wife he left back in Shinano.”

Mar-Ga: “So he took a local wife in Kyou in the same way people adopt the fashions and trends of a new home, huh?”

Me: “Who was that first wife?”

Asama: “There are no records of her. The Testament only gives that one passage from The Tale of the Heike, so it isn’t clear who she was.”

“But,” said Asama.

She had a thought about the current Tomoe Gozen. To put it to words…

Asama: “The current Tomoe Gozen refers to herself as Minamoto Yoshinaka’s wife.”


“Really, it was all a big pain in the rear,” said Tomoe Gozen while seated on the bench and eating a teacake that had been sitting there for a while now. “Kiso Yoshinaka is not technically speaking my husband.”

“Testament, I was aware of that.”

“You looked into it?” she asked without even looking over.

Christina covered her mouth with a sleeve and smiled.

“I gather and deal in information from every age and every part of the world.”

“Then there’s no point in hiding it. Think of this as verification from a contemporary.”

Listen.

“The Testament says he had two wives.

“The first is the woman he left in Shinano.

“The second is a woman named Ishi, the daughter of the chief imperial advisor who he wed in order to gain political power in Kyou.”

“Testament, and after his death, Ishi went on to-…”

“I will get to that later,” said Tomoe Gozen. “Now, you seem to think you know about Ishi, but I bet you didn’t know this.”

This being…

“We knew each other.”


Asama: “At the time, the rules about the history recreation and the Testament Union were fairly vague things. The Harmonic Unification War had yet to happen, so the name inheritors for the Divine States were generally managed by Shinto. So after our meeting with Yasuhira-san, I explained my reasons to IZUMO and was able to view a lot of information about this.”

She had learned something from that.

Asama: “Yoshinaka, Tomoe Gozen, and Ishi were all originally from Shinano…I think. I can’t quite track down all the information, but they made their way to Kyoto in almost the exact same way, so I think it’s pretty much confirmed.”

Mar-Ga: “Then did all three of them inherit their names together?”

Asama: “That’s where things get kind of tricky.”

Asama viewed the records as she spoke.

Asama: “Yoshinaka inherited his name first. And while he was building up his career in Shinano, Ishi’s request was approved. …Tomoe Gozen’s inherited name actually came incredibly late.”

Me: “Cause she was lazy?”

Asama: “Go have her kick your butt later, Toori-kun. …Anyway, Tomoe Gozen’s earliest historical appearance is in The Tale of the Heike, but it’s during Yoshinaka’s life on the run. That’s actually at the end of his career.”

Mar-Ga: “So what was that Protestant representative doing before she became Tomoe Gozen?”

Asama: “Well, the contemporary records tell us that Ishi had a maid with her as a bodyguard.”

And…

Asama: “That maid went on to become Tomoe Gozen.”


“That sounds like a complicated friendship. Or name-inheritor-ship…yes.”

“I have to agree with you, but we thought we were making things simpler at the time. I saw Ishi like a little sister. If anything, I was in charge of planning, fighting, and dragging her along. She was more of an advisor, a helper, or… you know how you’ll get this girl who follows you around everywhere? That’s what I mean.”

“Oh, so something like Maria with me.”

The maid rushed in from down the hall and prostrated herself.

“My lady! I am not worthy of such praise when I am preparing to leave you!”

“Well, Ishi wasn’t quite so dynamic. But, anyway, she was like a little sister or ‘one of the gang’ along with Yoshinaka back in Shinano.”

However…

“After Yoshinaka inherited his name, Ishi did the same. Then the two of them were summoned to Kyou. Everyone knew she had feelings for him and, even if he had inherited a name, he was the type to get ahead of himself, so the head of our village said someone needed to go along as a manager.”

“And that was you?”

“Testament,” confirmed Tomoe Gozen. “Although it was really my parents and the village leaders getting rid of a lazy girl who had no interest in an inherited name. And I figured I might as well since it would make me at least a little useful.”

So while acting as Ishi’s bodyguard in name only, she met up with Yoshinaka and the others in Kyou.

Ishi was received well by the people of Kyou, the chief imperial advisor liked her, and she managed a fairly comfortable life there.

“Their marriage was arranged in Kyou and, by the time it was over, even I had learned the Kyou way of doing things. Anyway, Ishi had wed, so I thought about returning to Shinano.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“That’s simple enough.” She shrugged. “I took Ishi out into Kyou and asked for help choosing a souvenir to bring back to Shinano, but she asked me to continue working as her bodyguard if I had no real reason to return to Shinano.”

“She made a direct request?”

“Testament. It was the first time she had ever done that, so I agreed.”

Starting then, they had lived in peace.

Her life there had been like what she imagined a mother-in-law living with her son and daughter-in-law would be like.

Yoshinaka had not been the type to let himself grow corrupt even if he wanted to, so the days and months had passed relatively uneventfully.

But the Testament’s time limit was approaching.

What could we even do?

“Everyone in Kyou tried to use an interpretation to accept Yoshinaka and his forces into Kyou. The plan was for him to inherit the name of an important figure in Kyou and prevent the conflict with Yoritomo and Yoshitsune from ever happening. It was thought that would benefit both sides.”

“It would keep Kyou peaceful and it would allow both Yoritomo and Yoshitsune to concentrate their strength on their later battles. Yes.”

“At the time, I never really thought it through that far.”

“Then this can be a lesson for you as well. But what happened to that plan?”

You could figure that out from the end result.

“Without warning, everything fell apart.”


Asama: “The remaining Shinto records tell us that Matsudono Motofusa – who played the role of Ishi’s father – and the other top officials went to report to the emperor. At the time, the Divine States’ history recreation was mostly managed by Shinto, so they were reporting to the emperor that the foundation of the history recreation for Kyou and the later Kamakura period would be dealt with via interpretations.”

Mar-Ga: “Why to the emperor? I thought ever since the Age of Dawn, the emperor never influenced the outside world and just flirted with the environmental gods all day long.”

Asama: “Correct, which is why it was the first time for most of those important people to ever have an audience with the emperor. Generally, they would simply go to the automatons at the entrance of the ley line management system known as the imperial palace.”

Me: “Then why do it that time?”

Asama: “The thing is, during Minamoto Yoshinaka’s rebellion, he imprisoned the cloistered emperor and, well, caused a lot of trouble for the imperial family and devastated the city of Kyou. The cloistered emperor and the rest of the imperial family were name inheritors and not actual relatives of the emperor, but with all that trouble so close to home, the officials thought they should go greet the emperor. I believe they really did think that, but I also believe it was an excuse.”

Naruze frowned at that.

Oh, nothing gets past her.

I should have known, thought Asama while Naruze’s face was illuminated in the darkness by her own Magie Figur.

Mar-Ga: “What do you mean they really did think that, but it was also an excuse?”

Asama: “Well, this is something that has to stay between us. Or rather, it’s a historical issue that is found in the records but would be discredited as misinformation if you tried to spread it around.”

Mar-Ga: “Whether or not I draw something is for me to decide.”

Then this should be safe, decided Asama.

“After Yoshinaka’s death, the Genpei War begins in earnest and the Taira clan causes an incident that affects the position of the emperor.”

Mar-Ga: “The drowning of the young emperor at Dan-no-Ura. …Right?”

Asama: “More or less, yes. But the real emperor is the one dealing with the environmental gods, so that ‘young emperor’ was a name inheritor. You need to go a step further to actually affect the position of the emperor.”

In other words…

Asama: “The young emperor who drowned at Dan-no-Ura sank along with the Imperial Regalia. So, um, the only one that remained unrecovered afterwards was the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, or Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds.”

Me: “Heavenly? Doesn’t Ame mean rain, though?”

Asama: “Heaven can be read that way too. They have the same etymology, after all. …Remember the Divinely Ordained Prayer Academies? Their purpose was to research and develop methods of praying to heaven for rain, so you can see that association there too. We discussed all this before, but do you, um, not remember?”

Me: “It usually takes me about three times before something sticks in my head.”

Well, I probably only remember because I’ve been researching it.

Mar-Ga: “Okay, let’s get on with it before the nerd wakes up. …Isn’t it bad that the heavenly sword wasn’t recovered?”

Asama: “Yes. The Testament says Yoshitsune-san and her group searched the ocean and found the magatama and mirror, but they did not find the heavenly sword. So the records say the chief imperial advisor and others wanted to ask the emperor what they should do about that recreation and other things. Of course, this was all done unofficially and none of the people directly involved are still alive, so none of this can be made public.”

“But,” said Asama.

Asama: “After that audience, the chief advisor and the other top officials took a hardline stance on following the Testament. They created a dummy version of the heavenly sword and forced Yoshinaka to die, almost like they had forgotten all about their previous plans.”


“I still don’t know why, but things changed.” Tomoe Gozen thought back to when it happened. “At the time, I was eating snacks at Yoshinaka’s estate. I had never really thought much about the emperor and, when the chief advisor and the others said they were going to an audience, I was just glad I didn’t have to mess with all that.”

“Well, they do say the emperor does not influence the outside world, so why would you have thought much about them?”

“True enough,” she agreed. “For that very reason, none of those officials had ever gone to meet the emperor who lives deep in the structure known as the imperial palace and remains is in constant contact with the environmental gods. That time, they used the emergency that could cause serious issues for Kyou and the Divine States and the loss of the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi as a reason to visit the imperial palace, where an automaton guided them to the emperor.”

But what happened in there?

She only knew that it had resulted in a hardline stance on the history recreation.

“My only praise is for Yoshitsune’s decisiveness when she chose to strike down Yoshinaka.”

“For Lady Yoshitsune?”

“Testament. Rumor has it, she took a single breath after hearing of the situation and immediately said the following: ‘That is my job. I am a strong enough person to carry that weight.’ ”

Thinking back now, she was glad Yoshitsune was that kind of person.

Because once it was all over, she had managed to follow her around for a while and forget her troubles.

But back before they knew what the future held, they had chosen to fight.

“When we left Kyou, Ishi called out to me and said this: ‘I’m sorry for keeping you here for so long, Tomoe Gozen.’ ”

“Tomoe Gozen?”

“Testament. That was the first time she had called me that, but I just accepted it without thinking too hard about it.”

If I had thought about it, I could have figured it out. I was so stupid.

“At the time, I laughed and told her she had nothing to apologize for and that it had been fun. And if I was going to be Tomoe Gozen, then I had to be Yoshinaka’s bodyguard, so I said this to Ishi.”

She had wanted to look like a cool big sister in front of the woman she saw as a skilled little sister. So…

“ ‘I will return Yoshinaka safely to you.’ ”

“My.”

“I will never forget the look on her face when I said that.”

“Was she happy?”

“Not a chance.”

Tomoe Gozen smiled bitterly. Ishi had wept with a look that could have been interpreted as joy or resignation and she had beaten on Tomoe Gozen through her armor. Over and over.

“She told me I was stupid. …But I already knew I was stupid, so I again accepted it without thinking too hard about it. And that was a mistake.”

She had calmed Ishi and gone out to battle without really knowing what any of it meant.

She remembered it being a long battle.

“We won big at the beginning, but since he knew he had no future, Yoshinaka suggested we all leave him. Some obeyed, others stayed with him, and others deserted. And after a big battle, our numbers were reduced to single digits and our life on the run began. While I was wondering how I would return to Kyou and how Ishi was doing, he suddenly spoke to me.”

He said…

“ ‘How should I put this? I’m worried about the woman I left back in Shinano.’ ”

“That’s from The Tale of the Heike, right?”

It was.

“I assumed it was a part of the history recreation, so I chose to stay with him as Tomoe Gozen. I remember it happening on a mountain ridge. I could see the lights of some city or other in the distance and I said ‘your wife in Shinano?’ with a sigh.”

He had responded with a ‘yes’.

“I pointed out that he had Ishi in Kyou, so I asked what woman in Shinano he could possibly care about more than her.”

She had meant it as a bit of a cruel joke since they were all from Shinano and she knew no such woman existed. But…

“The name he gave was the name I had gone by back in Shinano.”


“––––––”

Should Christina’s silence have made her feel proud or made her laugh at herself.

She still did not really get it.

“He called me the woman in Shinano instead of Tomoe Gozen. I don’t get what men are thinking sometimes. But I did finally understand why Ishi had apologized when I left. And why she had asked me to continue working as her bodyguard in Kyou.”

You fool. Stop looking down on yourself by assuming people are being considerate or cruel.

She had not thought much of anything about that foolishness. But…

“Well, I got really angry with him. I grabbed him by the collar and let him have it: ‘You’re the worst. You didn’t even fool Ishi, you know that?’ ”

“And what did he say back? Yes.”

You’re enjoying this aren’t you? she thought about Christina’s reaction.

“ ‘Of course I didn’t. The two of us were working together to fool you.’ And he was exactly right, so I couldn’t find a rebuttal.”

With that, she had realized that two different deceptions had been underway ever since Shinano.

Ishi had wanted to be with him.

He had wanted to be with Tomoe Gozen.

Ishi had been prepared to use the history recreation to step aside, but Tomoe Gozen had been too stupid to let it happen.

“And a fool will meet a fool’s end.”

Their group while on the run had been almost entirely male. She had ended up doing the housework-like tasks, which had brought them closer together. The two of them could discuss old times in front of the campfire. When he had been explaining how long he had been interested in her, the others had started teasing them and she had honestly wanted to kill all of them.

“But even our life on the run came to an end.”

“Run,” he had said when Yoshitsune and the others were approaching. “Escape and get word of all this to Shinano.”

That much followed the Testament, so she had chosen to leave as per the Testament.

“But when I turned my back on him and began running, he said one last thing to me.”

He said…

“ ‘Sorry about all the trouble.’ ”

“And what did you say in response?”

“I hate to say it, but I honestly don’t remember.”

That showed just how overwhelmed with emotion she had been.

Part of her was certain she had said something, but part of her was certain she had not.

And would she have even had the words to reply back then?

“When I looked back, I saw him charging in with a few of his men to break through the enemy line. I survived and later learned he had been killed in battle. There was nothing I could have done. I hid my identity, went to Kyou, and tried to meet Ishi. I saw the perfect chance to meet her during a congratulatory festival, but…”

She took a breath.

“It was someone else going by the name of Ishi.”

“You mean…?”

“Shortly after we left, she arranged for a number of things and then died. They said it was an illness.”

The Testament said that Ishi was also known as the Winter Princess. True to that name, an attendant woman said she had died peacefully in her sleep.

“It was apparently a chronic illness. She had had it since we were in Shinano, but she had kept it a secret from me. There I was feeling like a mother-in-law, but I hadn’t noticed anything and she was deceiving me all along.”

That had led to more realizations.

Why had Yoshinaka done what Ishi wanted?

Why had Ishi handed everything over to her?

And why had she not realized anything that was going on?

Did she only have her own foolishness to blame for feeling happy while being so oblivious?

Or had those two given her that happiness by hiding everything from her?

“Why is there so much you only understand after you lose someone?”

Dammit.

“I was so stupid to misunderstand what Ishi meant when she said goodbye. In a way, revealing my stupidity must have led Ishi to realize her considerate efforts were wasted on me. It’s obvious now that her tears were out of sympathy for my stupidity.”

She really had been like a perfect little sister. But…

“Did I say something to Yoshinaka when I left him?”

Had she managed to say something to the man Ishi had left with her?

It was a bit late to be asking that now, 500 years later.

“All this time, I’ve tried to believe that I told him ‘it wasn’t any trouble’.”

That was not much, but it would have responded to his feelings in kind. And…

That really is how I felt.

Those were not words of sympathy. She knew she would have said them on reflex.

That was all she could have let out, so she was sure that was all she would have said.

I really am stupid.

“But…Tomoe Gozen? There is proof that your words reached him, isn’t there? I mean, Lord Yoshinaka did not become a ghost. Yes.”

“True.” She stood up. “Since he did not become a ghost, he must not have had any regrets in this world. I can assume I did speak and assume my words did reach him. That sounds like a decent compromise. …I mean, I don’t want to even consider the worst case where I didn’t say anything and he gave up on this world out of despair.”

She removed her hat. When she looked up and felt the chill of the air, she realized just how embarrassing a story she had told. However…

“It’s taken 500 years for me to tell this story like it’s something from the past. …All because of that one little statement.”

But her own belief was all she had to tell her if she managed to do the right thing, at least a little bit.

That was why the regret had stuck with her through death and she had become a ghost, but even that had to be far less significant than all the efforts and attempted consideration those two had gone through for her back then.

“Do not err here. Of course, even if you do, you might be able to work something out given 500 years.”

She placed her hat on Christina’s head.

And she took a breath.

“Storytime is over, so it’s time to face reality. …I will be going to war, but you sit here and think a bit, Christina. Choosing death because the Testament says so is one path you can take. But…”

But…

“Have I gotten my point through to you? Think on that, Christina.”


Asama finished telling the majority of the story.

Although a lot of the later part remains unknown, so we can only speculate.

Me: “She’s had a rough life too, huh?”

The arms nodded and Asama concurred.

A few people were stirring around them. The others were waking up. As for Asama herself…

“Oh, I need to go purify myself ahead of everyone.”

She had gotten permission from Suzu. Her morning bath would be a little rushed, but she had to go get it done.

But when she got up, Naruze spoke quietly to her.

“I love all this great material I’ve been getting from Satomi and Nördlingen.”

And…

“We ended up leaving Satomi to the others, but I want to help out however I can at Nördlingen.”

“That’s great and all, but you stayed up all night. Are you sure you’re up for it?”

“Judge. I’m used to it. But more importantly, look.”

The others were starting to get up. Suzu remained in Kimi’s arms, so she flailed her arms and legs through the air.

“It doesn’t look like Kimi’s waking up. I bet she changed her settings.”


Chapter 69: Opener of a Closed Place[edit]

Horizon7C 0451.jpg

Even indoors

Morning is morning

It’s always like this

At this time

Point Allocation (I am up)


Mitotsudaira stepped out from Suzu’s Bath.

The compressed sleep spell had awoken her on schedule.

Which was a little earlier than the others.

Asama, who had already been up, had given her a morning purification in the bathhouse bath. The bathwater had been a little hard for her nonhuman standards, but …

“Today’s ground battle will be in a field instead of in the Edo ruins, so bug repellent is going to be fairly necessary.”

She had shared the morning bath with the two arms, meaning they had taken their bath earlier than Horizon herself.

They had a battle coming up, but they still had breakfast and a strategy meeting to go, so she had put her pajamas back on. Once outside, she saw her king laying a cloth over one of the benches out front.

“Good morning, my king.”

“Oh, hey. Morning. Would you like some ham for breakfast?”

“Judge! You ordered it from the Blue Thunder, didn’t you? That sounds fantastic.”

“Sure thing,” he replied while walking to the stove of the food stand he had set up in front of the bathhouse. She realized he was only wearing an apron.

“My king, why are you dressed like that?”

“Don’t be dumb. I don’t want to get hot oil on me! It’s the smart thing to do!”

She had a feeling it was bad that made sense to her.

But something else was weighing on her mind.

Is everything okay in Satomi?

There had been a big battle there. She had seen the result when she woke up, but it had ended sooner than she had expected.

Even their forces had been worn down a lot early on and Hashiba’s group had arrived in the early morning.

Houjou and the locals really gave it their all.

What did her king think about it all?

The arms, which had accompanied her outside, must have been curious about that as well because they beckoned him over.

“What is it?” he asked just in time for them to leap up and grab his cheeks.

“Ow ow ow ow! My cheeks don’t stretch like that! Please forgive me!”

“Why do you ask for forgiveness when you didn’t do anything wrong?” she asked.

“It’s my schtick,” he said while the arms climbed onto his shoulders and started mussing up his hair. Mitotsudaira smiled bitterly at it all.

Looks like I don’t have to worry about him.

He did seem to be thinking about something, but he did not seem depressed.

A thought occurred to her, so she looked over at Asama who was compiling a list of spells.

That Shinto shrine maiden was closely connected to life and death and to history. She was the most common member of their class that people came to for advice. And given the order with which they woke up…

That must be it.

I shouldn’t be surprised, thought Mitotsudaira. She knew she did not have it in her to discuss life-and-death issues or what happened with Satomi Yoshiyori. She might even try to dodge the issue by unnecessarily talking about what tactics he should have used back then.

On the other hand, if the “intensity” with which she tried to discuss such things got through to him, maybe it would be meaningful after all, but Asama had handled it this time.

“Tomo.”

“Eh? What is it?” Asama turned around after the arms handed her a list of Horizon’s spells. “Is there a divine protection you need in a hurry?”

“No, it isn’t that.” She watched her king carry over the food stand’s pedestal from the bathhouse’s storeroom. “Horizon would have stretched his cheeks, slapped him, and given him a lecture based on some extreme point of view, don’t you think?”

“Wh-what are you talking about?”

Asama’s flustered behavior told Mitotsudaira she had been right.

There are so many tricky problems to deal with.

Her king could not be allowed to feel sad.

But this time, she had a question about that.

“Did you want to prevent my king from feeling sad?”

“Well, um.”

Asama froze in place but eventually looked around and sighed. After confirming that no one else was listening in, she turned toward Mitotsudaira once more.

Her face displayed relief more than just a simple smile.

“It felt like a weight had already been lifted from his shoulders before I said anything.”

“Really?”

In that case, her king must have made some decision on his own.

She wondered what would have happened if the Kantou Liberation had failed, but…

“We have finally caught up to the multitude of doubts and anger we felt that night, haven’t we?”

“Oh, that was a very Mito thing to say.”

“Was it?” she wondered while Asama erected a soundproof barrier around the plaza in front of the bathhouse.

“We are about to order some breakfast, so how about we all eat together?”


Mitotsudaira looked around while wondering where they could all eat breakfast together.

That “all” would go beyond those in the bathhouse. It would also include Noriki and the others who had returned to their homes. In that case…

“Have you rented out this plaza?”

“Yes. Horizon is still asleep and I thought having us all together would make adjusting our divine protections easier. …Oh.” Asama seemed to realize what Mitotsudaira had meant and she replied while picking up Horizon’s arms from the ground. “I have gotten permission to use this place. I’ve activated a simple barrier so I can purify everyone and handle their spells while we hold a meeting. So, how we usually do things.”

“Impressive, as always.”

“Please, it’s nothing.” Asama produced a collection of spell list sign frames on top of her empty hand and left them with Hanami. “Mito, I want to settle on what spells to distribute to everyone, so will you help me with that in a bit?”

“Judge. But breakfast comes first. …And that’s quite something, Tomo.”

She was looking at the two arms held between Asama’s breasts. It had to do with how tightly Asama was holding them, but Mitotsudaira recognized something in the way the arms were acting.

“I’ve noticed that they tend to calm down when Kimi does this with them,” said Asama.

“Come to think of it, she did restrain them like that during the camp at Sanada, didn’t she?”

“She did,” confirmed Asama while their king walked over with some paper plates.

The arms looked back and started squirming, so Asama lowered them down, but…

“Ah.”

The chest of her clothing separated and exposed everything down to below her navel.

“Don’t worry,” said their king. “I’ll just be here staring.”

“My king, saying that with a straight face is a little weird.”

“It’s fine.” Asama smiled with lowered eyebrows and placed a hand on her opened clothing. “I’m wearing the supporter I showed you earlier, so it’s fine. It’s perfectly fine. Really.”

Horizon7C 0459.jpg

“Oh, how unusual.”

As soon as the words left Mitotsudaira’s mouth, her own collar was grabbed from below.

Eh? she wondered before realizing it was the arms. The next thing she knew, her clothing had been opened from shoulders to navel.

“Kyaaaaahhh!”

She quickly closed it again and her king looked back when he was supposed to be setting down a plate.

“Don’t worry. I’ll just be here staring.”

“Is that what you call equal treatment? Is that what this is?”

Down below, the arms gave him a double thumbs up and then gave another one to Kimi as she stepped out of the bathhouse. Kimi could not have known what it was about, and yet…

“Yes! Fantastic! More! Do it more!”

That was always a bad sign, but Mitotsudaira had her own excuse to make while holding her clothes together.

“I-I am wearing something underneath, so it is fine for me too.”

“Right!” said her king with a cheerful smile. And while finally setting down the plate, “We are outside, after all.”

Mitotsudaira saw Asama’s expression change when he said that.

Her eyebrows rose in surprise and she could not look him in the eye while responding in a scratchy voice.

“R-right?”


Wow.

Asama felt her body temperature quickly rise and then fall.

She knew he had a photo of her while she slept, but she suddenly remembered that he might have more.

Wowww.

This was bad. She realized her blood pressure and pulse had been fluctuating wildly the last few days. That had to be bad for her health.

Down at her feet, the arms held their hands up to imaginary ears in a “You were saying?” gesture, but she knew they had to be doing this on purpose. And more importantly…

“Umm.”

Next to her, Mitotsudaira gave her an oddly refreshed smile.


Ho ho?

Mitotsudaira had her own thoughts on the matter, but right now, she lightly elbowed the shrine maiden who could not look her king in the eye.

“Eh? Ehh?” said Asama, so Mitotsudaira smiled and spoke.

“So you agree you want to be careful because we’re outside? Then what would you have done if we were inside?”

Asama’s expression froze for a few seconds.

“O-oh.”

She hung her head while a cold sweat covered her face, but this told Mitotsudaira something.

I was wrong.

She had been so sure that was what had been on Asama’s mind, but this reaction said otherwise.

If that wasn’t on her mind, then she must have been thinking about some other stupid-…no, I mustn’t call it stupid. Some other problem.

Well, whatever, she decided to keep going from the problem she had suggested just now.

“Heh heh. Fine then, Tomo. If you insist on treating inside and outside differently, I will do the same.”

“Y-you’re using me as an excuse for something, aren’t you!? Aren’t you!?”

Asama quickly recovered and pointed at Horizon’s arms looking up at her from the floor.

“L-look, these arms are completely naked, if you can believe it! They’re already taking things much further than me!”

“Hey,” said their king. “You’ve gotta be able to relax more while at home, right?”

“Um, well, yes, I suppose so,” said Mitotsudaira while thinking to herself.

But you can “relax more” while still wearing underwear, can’t you?

She felt like she was starting to bargain with herself here, but she decided there was nothing to worry about since Horizon tended to destroy all the rules in the Main Blue Thunder anyway. She would do best to do what she wanted.

I see, she decided, but something still bothered her.

It had to do with her earlier “inaccurate guess”.

She took Asama a short distance away because Naruze, Naito, and some others had stepped outside. And then…

“Tomo, why did you get weirdly flustered earlier? You know, about the ‘being outside’ stuff.”

“Eh!? W-well, you have to, um, wear something underneath this while outside, right?”

“You’re changing the subject, aren’t you?”

When Mitotsudaira said that with a smile, Asama looked the other way.

But not to avoid answering. She suddenly raised a hand to gather Naruze’s attention.

“Naruze, show us Mito’s version of what you showed me.”

What is this about? wondered Mitotsudaira. Naruze was clearly woozy from lack of sleep, but she managed to toss over a Magie Figur.

“What is this?”

She caught it and found it was a photograph. And…

Eh?

It was her own face as she slept. For some reason, the arms were there striking a body pillow pose, but the bigger issue was how it showed her clinging to her blanket with her hips sticking up.

“Wait, wh-what is this!?”

“Oh, we reached an agreement for her to delete mine. Yes. Also, there is a chance that some photos of more than just your face made their way to Toori-kun. Yes.” Asama smiled with raised eyebrows and placed her hands on Mitotsudaira’s shoulders. “It’s the same for both us! For both of us, Mito!”

“How was I supposed to know about this!?”

Asama’s expression went blank and she weakly looked the other way.

“Count yourself lucky you were fully covered in yours…”

Mitotsudaira had no idea what might not have been covered, but it sounded like Asama had it even worse than her.


Kimi saw Asama trying to calm Mitotsudaira down.

She stood near the bathhouse entrance where her brother was reheating and cooking some things on the portable stove.

“Foolish brother?”

“Hm? What is it, sis? Want me to add some of this honey here?”

“I’ll have some on my toast. But anyway…” She looked to the two girls who had each picked up one of the arms and worked to restrain them as some kind of new sport. “People change, don’t they?”

She moved behind her brother and balanced plates on her shoulders and arms to help carry them out. She stood on her toes while half-laden with plates.

“Foolish brother.”

“Here you go.”

It was faster to balance a few on her palms and let her brother set them down.

And she had more to say.

“You’ve done it, haven’t you?”

“Finished with the plates, you mean?”

“Heh heh. You know exactly what I mean, don’t you?”

“Judge.” He lowered his head, but only as a nod. He immediately looked back up and held his head high. “I’m your brother, aren’t I?”

“Heh heh. Oh, you foolish brother.”

“But,” he said. “I’m glad to hear you say that.”

“Asama said something to you last night, didn’t she?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Did she call it a happy ending?”

“Something like that.”

What a shrine maiden-y thing to say, thought Kimi. Asama would understand what it meant to be happy and to rid yourself of troubles since she spoke of such things often in her work.

But with my foolish brother, it wouldn’t be part of her work.

So it was probably something like “Isn’t that great”.

While imagining a few possible ways she might have said that, Kimi felt an extremely ticklish sensation at the top of her stomach.

“Kimi, why are you smiling at Tomo in such a ‘my, my, my’ kind of way?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Heh heh. It won’t be long before I do the same for you! Make sure to have lots of fun with my foolish brother, since that is the source of my good mood!”

“W-wait, Kimi! What are you saying I’ve done to deserve this!?” asked Asama.

The arms held out their hands to calm the girl and Kimi commented on the action.

“They really are a part of Horizon, aren’t they?”

“They seem to get up to some ‘mischief’ all on their own, but there is a connection,” explained Asama.

“So when do you think Horizon will wake up?” asked Kimi.

She and her brother viewed Asama who checked on her sign frame.

“Her request was for another two hours, so I expect she will wake up near the end of the Battle of Nördlingen.”

“I see,” said Kimi just as Masazumi stepped out of Suzu’s Bath.

“Nhh.” Masazumi stretched. “Okay, let’s get started on the strategy meeting. Is Aoi cooking breakfast?”

“You bet!” said Kimi’s brother while everyone began preparing to eat.

The next battle would be starting soon.

“It’s Nagabuto this time, foolish brother.”

“Judge. And there’s Tomoe Gozen too.”

He had apparently done some studying this time. While she rewarded him by massaging his head with her chin, the wolf walked over.

She spoke up while helping the others move the benches into place and handing out the baskets brought over from the Blue Thunder.

“Oh, um, my king?”

“Yeah? What is it, Nate?”

“Oh? Should I be here for this?” asked Kimi.

The wolf’s eyebrows rose and she smiled as if she had only just noticed.

“That is fine with me. This is not a secret.”

After a single nod, she placed a hand on her chest and spoke to her king.

“Congratulations on liberating Kantou, my king.”

“Judge,” he said with a toothy smile, but the shrine maiden burst out laughing on the other side of the wolf.

“Wh-what was that for, Tomo!?”

“Well, um, that was just such a Mito thing to do.”

“Honestly.” Mitotsudaira looked back toward Kimi, but with a glare. “And you, Kimi! What is with that ‘my, my, my’ smile!?”


“It’s getting lighter out, but the Azuchi is in the way.”

Tokishige listened to Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer Naomasa from atop a mass of metal.

They were below the ridge of southern Bousou where they overlooked the Satomi base. This were on the open slope a bit further down from where their battle had concluded.

They were both seated atop their god of war.

They had not carried them here.

Integrity’s weight had caused it to slide down the slope and Jizuri Suzaku had followed after it.

Tokishige had gone almost all the way to the base and asked to have Integrity and Suzaku collected.

She had received treatment for her arm and shoulder injuries then.

“I never imagined I would have a component stolen mid-battle and then lose.”

“Has anyone ever told you you have a stubborn personality?”

“No, most of my previous battles were against Yoshiyasu.”

“Oh.”

The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer seemed to accept that answer, but it was a mystery what meaning she had taken from it.

Still, she could only blame her own personality for refusing to return to base when Kantou had been liberated and light was returning to the base.

What am I supposed to do?

Should she rejoice? Should she argue her case for joining the other side and fighting against them?

Both sides knew the other side had their reasons for what they did. That would be why the Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer had not said anything about it.

But it still bothered her on the inside.

“How should I put this?”

“Just say it however you can.”

Fair enough, she decided while pretending to think hard on it.

“I don’t like…”

This was something she had been thinking on for a while.

“I don’t like how it feels like Satomi has been toyed with by history.”

“Isn’t that exactly what happened?” The other girl smiled bitterly. “Hashiba comes in and blows up Satomi so Musashi can’t have their base in Kantou. And Satomi’s Chancellor dies. So you have no choice but to work for Hashiba, but then Musashi shows up and tries to return things to how they were. You probably just wish the world would leave you alone, but Musashi has Yoshiyasu and justice on their side.”

“Not ‘their’ side, ‘your’ side. Don’t act like you aren’t a part of this.”

“Eh, I prefer staying out of the politics. It’s such a pain.”

“So you were thinking of it from our point of view?”

“That would be kind of weird.”

“Then…”

Before she could ask why, the Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer explained.

“When something’s a pain, I always leave it to, or abandon it with, ‘them’. I don’t mess with it myself. That’s how I live my life.”

“I hate that.”

“Why?”

“Because it means you have people you can trust to deal with it for you.”

The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer looked over at her with eyes wide. That response had clearly come as a surprise. And…

“–––––”

For some reason, she hung her head and held her head in her hands.

Tokishige wondered if she had said the wrong thing.

She was feeling kind of awkward, so…

“What is it?”

“Well, sometimes these weird truths hit you in the last way you ever expected. But anyway.” The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer pointed forward. “Look, she’s coming.”

Tokishige looked over to see a familiar face climbing the slope toward them.

“Yoshiyasu.”


Yoshiyasu nodded when Tokishige called her name.

She had already arranged to have Righteousness collected.

She had contacted Houjou to ask what to do about Genan.

He apparently told them to have him buried here.

He had made the attack while hiding his identity.

That meant he could not return.

She decided to bury him in the spot where he had last seen Houjou and then send his possessions back to his homeland.

While making those arrangements, she had heard Tokishige was waiting for Integrity to be collected.

When she had told Ookubo she wanted to hold a “secret meeting” with Tokishige…

Righteousness: “Is Yagyuu Munenori here?”

■――: “Judge. I am right behind you, Satomi Student Council President.”

She had looked back to check.

■――: “Um, could you not turn around out of simple curiosity? It’s a simple enough motion for you, but I have to run all the way around you.”

Righteousness: “Hm? You don’t have to stay behind me, do you?”

■――: “Standing in front of a VIP would obstruct their words.”

What a Shinto way of thinking, she realized. But on the other hand…

Righteousness: “What if you need to shield them?”

■――: “I would knock them down from behind. Then I would attack with my hammer.”

Righteousness: “Attack the VIP? Yeah, I guess no one can kill them if they’re already dead.”

■――: “Attack the attacker!”

Oh, yeah. Whoops.

I hate how accustomed to Musashi’s rules I’ve gotten.

But Yagyuu asked a question about this.

■――: “Satomi Student Council President, is this that kind of person?”

Righteousness: “What kind of person?”

■――: “One you think I should stand guard in front of you for.”

That’s the real question, thought Yoshiyasu as she climbed the slope.

She knew the land around here quite well. She had walked it and she had viewed it from the air.

She recalled that this person had been with her all that time, and she called out to them.

“Tokishige, you were beaten pretty badly, weren’t you?”


Chapter 70: Entruster of This Place[edit]

Horizon7C 0473.jpg

Distance does not grow so quickly

You only act like there is distance between us

Point Allocation (Gaze)


Tokishige responded to Yoshiyasu while aware she was physically above the other girl.

“You got Righteousness pretty badly damaged yourself.”

“Judge. The flight device was entirely destroyed. After that hot and cold combo, I’ll probably have to entirely replace the power, circulation, and defense systems.”

“How are you paying for that?”

“Judge. By bowing my head to the Asama Shrine and getting a summer job.”

Yoshiyasu’s words told Tokishige something.

She really has changed.

She had not been the kind of person who would come out and say she had to bow her head to someone.

For that matter, she had not had the personality for something like a summer job either.

“Yoshiyasu.” Tokishige spoke her mind. “This hasn’t been easy for you, has it?”

“What is that sympathetic look for?”

“Nothing.” She waved her hand back and forth. “Don’t worry about it.”

Besides, she had something else to say.

“Why not use Satomi money?”

“No, I will pay for it myself. Because the Satomi Liberation itself was my own decision.”

“Are you stupid?” The words left her on reflex and she leaned forward a bit. “Do you really think that’s enough to settle this? Are you just going to abandon your continuing responsibility to Satomi?”

“Then will you pay for it?”

“Why would I have to!?”

There’s something weird about her, thought Tokishige.

Not that long ago, Yoshiyasu had spent all her time following Yoshiyori around, but now…

I have no idea what she’s trying to say.

She realized this bizarre behavior did not really have anything to do with whether or not Yoshiyasu followed Yoshiyori around, but that was not the point.

“Yoshiyasu, did you get yourself brainwashed somewhere?”

“No, I didn’t.”

The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer raised her prosthetic right arm.

“What idiot would say yes to that?”

“Hm, that was a stupid question, wasn’t it?”

But Yoshiyasu tilted her head with a frown.

“There’s something weird about you.”

“That’s my line.” Tokishige sighed and let her shoulders slump. “Besides, why are you still saying ‘judge’?”

“Oh, that. Since you were 3rd Special Duty Officer, I’m giving you the positions of Satomi Vice President and Vice Chancellor starting 5 seconds from now.”

“What the hell is with you!?”

When she stood up, she felt a pang in her shoulder and grimaced.

“Is the pressure of the position really such a shock? Well, you need to get used to it.”

“Th-that was pain from my injury!”

“So,” said Yoshiyasu, “you’re saying it isn’t too much pressure? Then I’ll send a request to the Testament Union via Musashi. Okay, done.”


“Oh,” said Asama while working with Kimi who was holding up a sign frame to photograph the breakfast scene. “Masazumi? Yoshy-chan sent a divine mail asking to have, um, the Satomi 3rd Special Duty Officer promoted to their Vice President and Vice Chancellor.”

“Hm, but I’m buttering some bread right now, so it’ll have to wait.”

“Vice President, are you saying butter is more important than Satomi?” asked Adele.

Masazumi placed a slice of buttered bread and a slice of unbuttered bread in front of her.

“Now.” Masazumi placed a hand on the table. “Which would you prefer, Balfette? Choose one.”

“W-well, in this case, I think the unbuttered one would be better.”

“Oh, are you sure about that, Balfette?”

Masazumi grabbed and lifted up the buttered bread. He approached from behind and swapped it out with a toasted slice. It was of course buttered too.

She held it up in front of Adele.

“Now, which would you prefer, Balfette?”

“Th-the buttered one! Wh-what else could I choose!? Damn, I feel so defeated here, but unbuttered bread is just bread!”

It felt like Adele had been working on her schtick lately.

Meanwhile, Asama noticed that Naruze was only drinking some iced tea.

“Aren’t you going to eat something, Naruze?”

“Eating would make me sleepier. Sticking to a light snack and tea is the best way to get my stomach in order.”

“Yes,” said Hassan who was toasting some curried bread. “Tea is wonderful because it tenses the stomach. If you drink some strong tea and eat some bread on a damp day, the tea soaking the bread will tense your stomach and improve your body’s circulation.”

“I see,” said the girls while taking a note of that. “Oh, Masazumi, what should we do about Yoshy-chan’s request?”

“Hmm, what is the situation like with Satomi’s officers?”

“Judge.” He raised his hand. “In the versus mode of Tale of the Eight Dog Idols, there’s Flatty and two or three others, but the rest are filled with question marks.”

“I wasn’t asking about some video game!!” Hmm, thought Masazumi. “I should probably have someone look into that.”


“Milady, the Vice President has sent you an urgent command via the Asama Shrine.”

“What!? We’re kind of busy at the moment, so what could possibly be so important!?”

“Judge.” Kanou read the sign frame’s message aloud. “How many of the Satomi officers are still alive?”

“Isn’t it a little late to be asking that?”

“Milady, why are you actually starting to investigate that for her?”

“You don’t get it?” Ookubo narrowed her eyes to a glare. “If I don’t do this, she’ll demand I do something even worse.”


“Masazumi, Ookubo-san just sent her response. Here, I’ll give everyone else a copy too.”

“Oh? That was fast. If you need something from the Testament Union site, there’s no one better than Ookubo.”

Masazumi quickly read what the sign frame had to say about the Satomi officers.

They do indeed have a lot of holes to fill.

This only told her who had been registered while Hashiba ruled them, but based on that…

“Huh? Seijun, isn’t this a full list?”

“No, look more carefully, Naito-dono,” said Crossunite. “This list of officers might look full, but most of the names are listed as ‘Satomi Recovery Magistrate’.”

“I see,” said Mary while viewing Crossunite’s sign frame but still unable to look him in the eye. “Instead of creating individual representatives, they created a joint organization to take charge. Back in England, the officer positions are similarly wrapped up into an organization in the academies on the borders between the four kingdoms or the smaller security academies.”

“Did you attend one of those academies, Mary-dono?”

“I was supposed to, but I instead lived on that other level to have some degree of freedom. Plus, all the nations were on edge about the Logismoi Oplo at the time, so the queen’s sister could have been seen as a powerful weapon even when I couldn’t use Excalibur. I had a few different options then, but I chose not to join any specific academy.”

If she had gone to an academy, she likely would have been imprisoned there.

Crossunite gave her hand a squeeze while she smiled with a hint of bitterness. Masazumi looked to the others, but…

Gold Mar: “The shoulder, the shoulder. Go for the shoulder, Tenzou.”

10ZO: “She’s already sending out flowers like crazy, so I think this is enough!”

Mar-Ga: “Keh.”

Lack of sleep doesn’t slow Naruze down any, does it? thought Asama while Crossunite looked to Mary and spoke quietly.

“If you had gone to an academy like that, would you have been made Student Council President? You might have even been made Chancellor as well.”

“But if that happened, I never would have met you, Master Tenzou.”

“The Musashi was visible from every part of England,” he said. “And while in the sky above, I just know I would have found you wherever you were.”


Me: “Given his religion, I bet he really could have found her from the Musashi.”

Silver Wolf: “Yes, that line was weirdly convincing. Especially since Mary would not have had to hide her identity with a cloak and hood if she had belonged to an academy.”

Unturning: “I hate that I can’t deny any of that due to his weird religion.”

10ZO: “Hey! Stop that! Don’t twist my charming line to make me sound like a pervert!”


Mary suddenly realized his arm was around her shoulders.

Her body briefly tensed more out of reflex than an attempt to resist, but he did not seem to mind.

It was not at all rough, but he pushed their shoulders together as if to say he understood.

“Sorry.” She explained the reason behind her resistance while really wishing she did not have to. “I feel like I might die if I am any happier than this.”

“If this is about the flowers, that just shows I am doing my job.” He still kept a position where she could not look him in the eye. “And inspiring me to act like this means you are doing your job.”

“P-please do not say that. You are only pushing me closer to death.”

Everyone around them began fanning themselves with paper plates and handkerchiefs or scooping up and playing with the airborne flowers, but what was that supposed to mean?


“Anyway,” said Masazumi while reaching an understanding of the Satomi situation. “They lacked a Chancellor, but that’s already been resolved since Yoshiyasu took on the title before the battle. Which leaves…”

She opened a few sign frames, displayed the officer nominations and request forms, and checked over them or filled them out. And then…

“We are managing Satomi through Yoshiyasu, so you handle the request process, Asama.”

“Oh, right,” said Asama as she accepted them and checked them over. “Um, these are official documents to be sent to another nation, right? Then who will handle the official process?”


“Milady, the Vice President has sent another job.”

“What!? I just did a job for her!”

“See? This is what happens when you go easy on her.”


“Masazumi, they came back unbelievably fast and now we are receiving a rapid series of empty divine mails.”

“Hm? Did Ookubo hit the wrong button or something? Sorry, Asama, but is there a divine punishment for this?”

“Hm.” Asama placed a hand on her chin. “Harassing the Asama Shrine via divine mail would normally get your identity traced from the message and then a love letter of yours would be chosen at random and displayed on the divine network for all to see. Oh, but you can reach a settlement instead.”

“That would be a little much right now. I’d feel bad for her, so stop it, will you?”

“I will inform our god it was a mistake and make an offering of sake and a romance manga. Now, um, as for the documents…”

“Judge,” said Masazumi. “I submitted them to the Testament Union and they were already accepted, so send word to Yoshiyasu.”


“Oh? Tokishige, it was already accepted.”

“Eh!? That was fast! If we sent that from Satomi, the Testament Union would have sat on it for around two weeks before finally getting around to it!”

“Hmm.” Yoshiyasu crossed her arms in satisfied way. “Musashi is a trade nation, so they know how to handle these administrative and diplomatic processes. I should probably send our thanks through the official route.”


“Milady, The Satomi Student Council President wants you to contact the Vice President and pass on her thanks regarding the Satomi officer requests.”

“What!? I did that! What is going on here!? How did she get the credit!?”

“Milady, about 5 second ago, I realized you should probably just get used to it.”

Vice President: “Hey, Ookubo, great work. The Satomi Student Council President sent me her thanks. In that divine mail you sent. Thanks.”

“Milady.” Kanou glared at Ookubo who had fallen silent. “I have determined your life is over if you let yourself feel happy about her praise.”


Tokishige saw Yoshiyasu nod.

“Well, there you have it, Tokishige,” said Yoshiyasu with arms crossed in a dignified way.

“Wait, hold on, Yoshiyasu! Listen to what I’m trying to say!”

Things were progressing at an extreme rate.

Um, I’m the Vice Chancellor and Vice President now!?

Putting Vice Chancellor first showed she was the warrior type, but that was neither here nor there.

“How are things changing so fast!? What is going on!?”

“First you tell me to listen to you and now you pepper me with questions?”

“Just tell me what is happening!”

“Judge,” said Yoshiyasu again before pointing into the western sky.

The empty sky was turning a dark blue instead of pitch black as dawn approached.

The Musashi had been there earlier.

“I am indebted to Musashi.”

“And you think you can repay them by going with them!?”

“Oh? If you know I must go with them, you understand this better than I thought.”

“Ah.” Tokishige was dumbfounded. She had simply had a feeling this was headed that way. “You save Satomi and now you’re leaving us? Are you stupid!?”

“Sorry.”

When Yoshiyasu apologized so directly, Tokishige lowered her raised hips back on top of Integrity.

She is stupid.

Tokishige knew things were over for her now that the other girl had apologized.

Because no matter what she said or did, the other girl would simply apologize.

“Listen, Tokishige.”

“I don’t want to hear it. Because I know you’re just shoving your selfish desires onto me!” She moved the arm past her limp shoulder to point toward the Satomi base. “You have no idea how hard we worked to preserve Satomi!”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize!”

“Judge.”

“And don’t say judge! When did you get so selfish?”

“That is why I am leaving everything in your hands,” said Yoshiyasu. “Even from this distance, I’m impressed it’s so intact. Even the Tachibana Couple were surprised by the structural reinforcements and how the inside looks just like a normal city.”

“But…that was only possible by agreeing to work with Hashiba.”

“Probably so. But from what I’ve heard, you never curried their favor by including anything from their culture. You never compromised and you managed to arrange the roads and waterways as a city of fishing and trade.”

“Because if we had changed the very foundation of our lifestyle, they would have gone hungry too.”

“You take everything so seriously.”

Tokishige just about retorted with “look who’s talking” but held her tongue.

Yoshiyasu no longer took everything as seriously as she once had.

“You’ve gone insane.”

“Judge. I must have been exposed to a nasty influence.”

So…

“I am going to act as Satomi’s representative by helping Musashi take over the world.”

“Can you use Yatsufusa?”

“No. I contacted Musashi’s engine division, but it showed no response even during the Satomi Liberation,” she said. “That means it must be using what I do from now on to decide. After all, Yatsufusa is the power of Satomi’s leader, so the real test begins now that Satomi has been reclaimed.”

“That sure is convenient for you, huh?”

“Then will you take it for yourself?”

Tokishige thought on that. She had a number of thoughts concerning Yatsufusa. After all, that god of war was far more powerful than her Integrity. But that did not mean she wanted to try to use it, nor did it mean it would move for her.

“I wouldn’t dare.”

But this crazy girl in front of her wanted to get it moving eventually.

Oh.

Tokishige mentally slumped her shoulders.

She hasn’t really changed at all.

She thought she had accomplished something, but she was still influenced by that “I’m not good enough yet” complex.

But one thing had changed.

“You’re willing to admit that you need more power.”

“Hiding your weakness doesn’t make you stronger. So instead…”

“Yes?”

“If you admit to your weakness, a great many people will lend you power.”

“So you take advantage of their kindness?”

“I’m trying to take this seriously,” she said. And, “Tokishige.

Listen.

“Satomi will eventually lose its status as part of the history recreation.”


Yoshiyasu spoke about what had happened and what she had discussed in the past.

“At that point or sometime before, I plan to move to Mogami and learn from Yoshiaki how to run a nation among many other things.”

And…

“I will eventually create a place for the Satomi people to live in peace. It might be here, it might be in Mogami, or it might be in Mito, but I do promise you I will create it. So…”

“I get it already. So how about you get going?”

Tokishige shrugged.

“I understand.” She briefly hesitated before continuing. “You’re Righteousness! If someone pays you a favor or helps you out, you never will forget it. So, well, if staying here would mean forgetting your debts, that would just bring shame to the Eight Dogs of Satomi. Honestly, what have you been doing out there?”

“Well,” said Yoshiyasu while aware she could not look Tokishige in the eye. “Lately…I’ve visited a hot spring in Odawara where I did karaoke and ping pong.”

“Are you picking a fight with me!? And wait, was that what you were doing during the Siege of Odawara!?”

Then a change came over Tokishige’s voice.

“Oh?” she said in confusion. “Yoshiyasu, you can do karaoke?”

“Judge. The one song my sister taught me. I had a decent, well, you could call it a battle against M.H.R.R.’s Kani with that. You hadn’t heard?”

“I was following the results, but I didn’t know what form the duels took.”

“I see. There were curry and ping-pong battles, there was a fight to the death in the changing room, and there was a clash of 500-yen coins with udon production on the line, so it probably was history’s worst battle. We tried to work things out with as little fighting as possible, but I think we forgot to agree not to take things way too seriously.”

“I see.” Tokishige rested her head in her hand. “I thought they were hiding some kind of classified information, but maybe the restrictions were to keep us all interested. Still, I can’t believe you did karaoke.”

Tokishige sounded a disturbed, but Yoshiyasu had to admit it surprised her too. She had not expected the khorosho chorus to feel so good and some of the lyrics – like “vodka up the ass” – had been fairly tricky.

“Want to join me next time?”

“The repairs aren’t that far along.”

“That’s why it has to be ‘next time’,” said Yoshiyasu. “Also, I know you’ll be waiting. Just as I have to act because I am Righteousness, you are Integrity. If you say you will be waiting for me, I know you will be.”

Probably so.

“Were you waiting for me instead of attempting a half-baked rebellion because you wanted to protect and restore Satomi?”

“Now you’re just getting a big head.”

“Just some wishful thinking, that’s all,” said Yoshiyasu. “You will be in charge of Satomi for a while.”

“Then I will accept that position.” Tokishige shrugged with her palms pointed skyward. “Besides, that’s the role of my inherited name.”


Masaki Tokishige thought about her name.

That was Satomi Yoshiyasu’s younger brother.

He took the Masaki name when he was sent to be adopted by the Masaki clan and become their heir.

But when Yoshiyasu had his territory confiscated, Tokishige acted as a manager for the Satomi clan’s top officials. And after Yoshiyasu’s death, he worked as the heir’s aide.

The Satomi clan later lost Awa when they were caught in the fall of Ookubo Nagayasu, but Tokishige moved from place to place before receiving a warm welcome in Tottori and reaching the end of his life there.

“It was the previous two Chancellors who pushed to get me this name, so I wonder if they knew things would turn out like this.”

“I doubt Yoshiyori or my sister knew that much. If anything, it was probably based on you being in the same year as me. But more than that…” Yoshiyasu pointed at the large machete Tokishige wore at her hip. “They were probably thinking of that one story about Tokishige’s prowess as a warrior.”

Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer raised her prosthetic arm again.

“What story is that?”

“Testament. Satomi is actually the home of a famous swordsman,” said Tokishige. “Ever heard of Ono Tadaaki?”

“I have,” said the 6th Special Duty Officer. “He was apprentice to Itou Ittousai and he became a shogunate sword instructor, right?”

Tokishige had not expected her to know that. This came as a pleasant surprise, although she was confused by how Yoshiyasu was spreading her mouth horizontally.

“Testament. The Testament says Ono Tadaaki was from Satomi. He originally served Yoshiyasu there, but after becoming Ittousai’s apprentice, he became an officer for Matsudaira after a recommendation from Ittousai.”

“And how does that relate to you?”

“Testament. The Testament says I fought to a draw with Ono Tadaaki. While I was in middle school, Ono Tadaaki’s name inheritor visited during a pilgrimage to different nations and we ended up sparring.”

Thinking back, she had been a mess of nerves at the time, but that older opponent had confidently gone easy on her. It had not been to the point of letting it be a draw, but he had chosen not to block any of her attacks while restricting himself to easily blockable attacks.

She remembered only just barely managing to block all of the attacks, so it had not felt like being handed a draw. But she had sensed his skill and how badly she needed to train herself.

“I really wish we could spar again, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.”’

“If that’s what you want, I recommend coming to Musashi.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Wait,” said Yoshiyasu to stop the 6th Special Duty Officer, but she continued regardless.

“Well,” she said with a nod. “Ono Tadaaki had a fellow apprentice, didn’t he?”

“Yes. Zenki, right?”

“Judge,” confirmed the 6th Special Duty Officer. “Zenki is our Chancellor’s mom and his dad is Ono Tadaaki.”


Asama accepted the breakfast container that Toori’s mother had carried over from the Blue Thunder.

“Oh, that’s a lot. But, um, Toori-kun’s mom? Shouldn’t you be focused on Satomi?”

“You see, Tomo-chan, I don’t really have any connection to Satomi. And even if I did spy on my husband, I’d probably only see him doing something dumb with those apprentices of his.” She handed another container to Adele. “But I’m proud that you, Horizon, and the Mito girl have joined our home. So how about it, Tomo-chan? Buy the Judge Pillow and Testament Pillow our shopping district is selling and we’ll throw in a Yes Pillow free of charge.”

“Why are all of them giving the go ahead?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Zenki laughed. “Still, it does feel like fate that Toori helped liberate Satomi when my husband is from there. I’m glad that worked out for the best.”


“Ono Tadaaki is…that Chancellor’s father?”

“Don’t look so shocked. It’s the truth.”

“Satomi Student Council President, I think that’s why it comes as such a shock,” added Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer.

But Yoshiyasu had something to say to Tokishige who was hanging her head in silence.

“See, you can look at it as fate binding Musashi and us together. I should be able to stay here for a little bit and Ookubo Nagayasu, the cause of Satomi’s loss of status, is here. You should go see her while you can. She is a skilled negotiator, so you should be able to learn a lot from her.”

“I suppose so,” weakly said Tokishige.

Yoshiyasu saw her release a deep sigh toward the ground and then speak.

“Yoshiyasu, what kind of environment were you living in?”

“I wish it was that easy to explain.”

Yoshiyasu then looked to the western sky.

At some point, Satomi’s sky had grown fairly bright. However…

“I wonder what’s happening in Nördlingen below that western sky.”


“Christina was right about one thing – there are a lot of things you don’t understand until you see them for yourself.”

The wind blew below a dark sky full of twinkling stars.

Tomoe Gozen stood atop a hill with the feetless legs of a ghost.

About 3km away, at the northern base of the hill, a city was surrounded by a circular wall.

She knew the name of that city which had a Far Eastern reservation and related cities surrounding it.

“Nördlingen. I never imagined the fight over this city would be against you.”

Her gaze was directed at a white group lined up about 500m away.

Those M.H.R.R. Catholics equipped with white mobile shells were…

“The Roman Emperor’s personal warriors. Are you leading them as Matthias? Or…”

“I am technically Ferdinand II for this, but you can still call me Matthias, Tomoe Gozen.”

Matthias carried a long white and black arbalest on his back.

“Shall we get started?”

“Let’s not be hasty.” Tomoe Gozen glanced behind for just a moment. “No battles are won by being hasty.”


Tomoe Gozen mentally clicked her tongue.

This isn’t good.

It was actually very bad to have the enemy rushing her here.

Both sides were facing each other with several aerial ships in the sky. And the enemy was still adding more warships and transport ships to their fleet.

Their personnel were growing in number all the time. But even so…

“It would be best to wait some, Bernard.”

“Indeed.”

A man a head taller than her stepped out of the group behind her.

He had bestial eyes and he wore a uniform made from a mixture of the Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. designs. He now pointed toward the enemy with his one arm.

“Our position prevents them from attacking in the night or otherwise catching us off guard. If they rush things in order to use the darkness to their advantage, it will ultimately come down to a head-on clash. But if they wait, things will change.”

“What do you predict will happen?”

“Testament.” Bernard gestured to north with his chin. “The Swedish queen’s estate is located north of Nördlingen. Which you would know, Luther, since you visited her there earlier.”

“Continue.”

He nodded and did so.

“Attacking that estate is one of the enemy’s objectives, so they must create a primary force to attack us while also creating a force to send there.”

“I can tell they are prioritizing us first.”

“Indeed they are,” said Bernard.

He looked up into the night sky and she followed suit. The transport ships moving back and forth between the ground and the warships were clearly carrying down personnel.

“They will likely make their move once they have created their primary force and the northern-bound force,” he said. “If either one is incomplete, they cannot equally respond to anything that might happen and it would lead to confusion. If that happens…”

“Will you take action, Bernard?”

“As a wyvern, land battles are not my specialty. Please keep that in mind.”

He swung his empty sleeve to show it off.

That’s what he lost in the battle at Paris.

He was a Celestial Dragon that could split into multiple smaller dragons, so the ones that were lost had to be taken from his body. Once he eventually recovered, his arm would be back.

But if the enemy had someone who could harm him in their ranks…

“You can’t use your convergence dragon cannon very often, can you?”

“Since splitting up will only get me targeted, I will generally be fighting in my combined form. I can probably only draw fire from the enemy ships.”

“You’re pretty useless, huh?”

“Not necessarily.”

Tomoe Gozen smiled bitterly at that.

There was a way of using him even while injured. And this confirmed what strategy they would use. Only one thing remained:

“Musashi.”

She could see its shape like a distant island in the eastern sky.

“Wait for you and you’ll show up, huh? I never thought I would indebt myself to you here, Musashi.”

Then she sent out some instructions.

“All troops, lighten your equipment on the double! Remove your mobile shell’s support armor! This battle will come down to our ability to make a charge!” she said. “Musashi is Shinto, so they are as lax with the rules as us Protestants! Wait until they have actually arrived before deciding to rely on them!”


Chapter 71: Supporters of the Circle[edit]

Horizon7C 0501.jpg

The people

Of the world

Perceive me properly

Right?

Point Allocation (More Than I Thought)


The color of the sky had changed.

Starting in the east and moving west, a clear yellow mixed with a deep blue. But on the vast seam between, it was purple instead of green.

Morning was approaching.

The sky grew brighter. Too many stars had vanished to call it a night sky and the wind blew below it.

It was an easterly wind.

“Is the wind on my face the same which blows in from the origin of the sun – from the Far East? …Oh, don’t mind me. Just some off-the-cuff poetry. I’ve begun dabbling recently, but doing it in front of people is more embarrassing than I thought.”

A tall figure looked up in the sky and spoke within the blowing wind.

It was Matthias and he let his shoulders slump while he spread his arms.

A group of white mobile shells stood behind him.

The easterly wind revealed M.H.R.R.’s flag – the imperial flag on a white base.

“Now,” he said. “This was a headwind for Hashiba-kun, but it is a tailwind for me. The effortless life of a puppet is such a treat. Truly this is what the Holy Roman Emperor should strive to be. So I would love it if you simply gave me victory here, Protestants.”

He directed his words at a group dressed in black.

They stood below the flag on a black base that signified the Protestants.

“Bishop Luther, could you perhaps lose this battle for me? Or is that asking too much?”


The Protestants and the Catholics.

Of the two sides facing each other atop a large hill, Matthias represented the Catholics.

“We already know this history recreation ends in our victory, so I see no purpose in defying us. Don’t you agree, Bishop Luther?”

At the center of the Protestants, Luther, aka Tomoe Gozen, held her hammer at the ready and placed a hand on her hip.

“What? Does losing terrify you that badly, Matthias?”

“Testament. I am a layperson, so I wish to live my life without being held to any kind of responsibility. The mere thought of defeat here – as unlikely as it may be – scares me to no end. …In fact, is there anyone at all who does not fear losing?”

“You’ll find some in the east. When they suffer a painful defeat, it only motivates them to make a comeback.”

“Oh, do you mean Hashiba-kun?” Matthias smiled. “She suffered two major defeats in Hexagone Française and Kantou. In the latter case, she failed to even arrive in time. But she remains undeterred. Just a bit ago, she sent me a divine mail saying she bought some Edo bananes as a Kantou souvenir and she intends to make them an offering to Olimpia and myself. Incredible, isn’t it? Not many sponsors would show such concern for their puppet.”

“Is this just about you wanting to eat one?”

“It is a matter of Far Eastern etiquette – a spirit of sharing.”

“You sure are an optimistic puppet.”

“Are you that upset you cannot eat an Edo banane?”

“Isn’t the traditional Edo treat an Edo Hiyoko Manju? My hemisphere kappa can buy me some when he visits the Ariake.”

Matthias bent his eyebrows and eyes when he heard that. Then he held his stomach and forehead.

“Ha ha…ha ha ha, ha ha ha! Ah ha ha ha ha! Didn’t you know, Bishop Luther!? A note in the Testament says the Edo Hiyoko Manju was originally from Kyushu. It only became sold in Edo once it was brought there. And the Testament says that happens ‘in the distant future’, so you are violating the Testament. …I am shocked that someone who claims to be Bishop Luther is not up-to-date on Hiyoko Manju trivia.”

“Why would Luther know about that? For that matter, why do you know?”

“As a puppet, I receive gifts of souvenirs whenever the M.H.R.R. and P.A. Oda officials return from their trips around the world. Those have mostly been from Kantou of late and I have had a lot to snack on during my reading time, but that is apparently at an end. Return my enjoyable puppet life, Bishop Luther.”

“Tell it to the people arriving above us. Also, wait just a moment.”

Tomoe Gozen opened a lernen figur.


Lady AM: “Hey, kappa.”

Hemisphere Man: “I am not a kappa! More importantly, my company is in trouble with these tough delivery date negotiations with Lady Naruze! Can this wait!?”

Lady AM: “This is an urgent matter, so listen up. I found a violation of the Testament.”

Hemisphere Man: “Wh-where!? Has the mosaic censorship based on the art style grown too lax as the age of the artists has dropped in recent years!?”

Lady AM: “Make sure to double check all of that at the printshop.”

Hemisphere Man: “No, the customer is always right, so we cannot do that. We can only give them respectful guidance so they can apply proper mosaic censorship, fresco censorship, or letterpress censorship on their own. …Now, Tomoe Gozen, what is this violation of the Testament?”

Lady AM: “When you buy souvenirs at the Ariake, make sure it’s Edo bananes from now on.”

Hemisphere Man: “Eh!? What’s wrong with the Hiyoko Manju? The guilt felt when bisecting them down the center is such a wonderful feeling! And you can press them back together to play a game of Magdeburg chick!”

Lady AM: “You heard me. We can revisit the issue next time.”


“That has been resolved,” said Tomoe Gozen while raising her right hand.

Matthias nodded.

“Then shall we begin?”

A lernen figur immediately appeared next to his face.

“Excuse me, but this is Ishida Mitsunari. Hashiba-sama has appointed me as the on-site commander.”

“Oh, Mi-chan. Long time no see.”

“Not even Hashiba-sama calls me that anymore, so, um, please have mercy. That was my name while I was still in development.”

Just like a caterpillar and butterfly go by different names, concluded Matthias. Powerful name inheritors do things differently.

“Um, then, Ishida-kun, I would like to do this the easy way, so what should I do?”

“If you stay where you are, I will produce a lernen figur on your back that says ‘hit at your own risk’. That will make it less likely that the warriors will hit you while charging in from behind.”

“Only less likely!?”

“I apologize, but people make mistakes and I cannot say anything for certain. You can punish them if they do hit you, so be prepared to respond if need be.”

“I have received orders from a lot of people, but you are one of the more fascinating ones.”

“Y-you honor me.”

She sounded nervous. But she also raised a hand and opened a new lernen figur.

“Now, may I begin explaining the situation for you?”


Matthias decided to listen to Ishida’s explanation.

“Can you do that for me?”

“Testament.” She nodded. And, “We need to worry most about the enemy’s actions during the initial charge and when Musashi arrives. Matthias-sama, do you know what shape their formation has taken?”

This was supposed to be an explanation, so why are you asking me questions!?

This is new, he thought in further fascination with her. And while thinking…

“Um, I believe it is similar to a…is it called a tercio? It is long from north to south, and the northern end is angled a bit westward. That angle is meant to match the circular shape of Nördlingen.”

“Testament. I have determined the enemy intends to charge in while deflecting our charge.”

He was not quite sure what she meant. Even if he was a puppet, he wished he had studied up on military matters some instead of just cooking and stargazing.

“Could you explain what you mean?” he asked.

“Testament. They are wearing lighter equipment to assist their charge. I have confirmed this was done on Tomoe Gozen’s command. But we will be making our charge while heavily equipped. If the two sides collide…”

“Our side will emerge victorious, of course.”

“Testament,” she replied. “Thus, the enemy has angled their formation somewhat diagonally. That way a collision with our charge will allow them to deflect us away diagonally.”

“You mean they can survive a direct hit?”

“Testament. Please look north, which is to your right.”

He did as instructed.

There he saw…

“I can see down the hill to Nördlingen.”

“I see you have an eye for this.”

Ohh, praise from a name inheritor! Should a puppet really be this clever!? I hope I don’t get assassinated for it! I need to show everyone how incompetent I really am!

“I have no idea what I am looking at, though.”

I really don’t!

That was the truth, but Ishida nodded on the lernen figur.

“If the enemy deflects us diagonally, it will direct us down the hill’s slope. The greater the speed of our charge, the more we will fall down the slope and the harder a time we will have recovering.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“Testament,” replied Ishida before falling silent for a moment.

What is this about? he wondered before a realization hit him.

“What will we do about that, Ishida-kun?”

Yes. He was the incompetent puppet, so he had to constantly ask questions. Being a puppet was no guarantee his sponsors would always give him something.

And Ishida had only recently inherited her name, so he had to use his ample experience as a puppet to show her how this was supposed to work.

That’s what it means to be a professional puppet!

I need to stay focused on my job. Doing so makes it so much fun. I love being a puppet!

While filling himself with excitement, Matthias nodded and Ishida opened a new lernen figur.

“Um, the logical response would be to angle our own formation so we hit them head-on. However, we cannot do that.”

“Eh? We can’t, Ishida-kun?”

Oops. It’s true I don’t understand, but I think I overdid that one.

Ishida tilted her head a bit as she responded.

“Matthias-sama, um, I know my explanation might be boring and I can determine I have my own nerves to blame for that, but, um, you do not have to try to cheer me up.”

She hung her head.

“Um, I will do my best. Yes.”

He had never before seen a depressed data entity.


Nari Nari Nari: “Umm.”

AnG: “Huh? What is it, Nari Nari? Done already?”

Nari Nari Nari: “No, it is not that. Uh, what do I do if my client starts being weirdly nice because they feel sorry for you?”

AnG: “Why not get a cat the two of you can play with? That should help you communicate.”

Super Justice: “I apologize for interrupting, but that is not communication! It is surveillance!”

Llaf: “Testament. It may be best if thou share some food with them to remove any emotional barriers.”

Nari Nari Nari: “Sorry, but there is not enough time for that.”

AnG: “Then you’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way.”


“Okay…um…I will continue.”

Matthias saw the data entity continue her explanation in a somehow worried tone.

The diagram she sent him showed the angled enemy formation and a prediction of what would happen to their formation when they both charged and collided. However…

“I can see how they hit us at an angle,” he said. “Is there any way to change this into a head-on collision?”

“That would be difficult since we are heavily equipped and more numerous. We are restricted to this narrow hilltop, we have Niwa-sama’s main unit behind us, and we also have my northern route group.”

“Northern route?”

“Oh,” said Ishida. “Swedish Chancellor Christina is waiting in her estate as Nagaoka Tadaoki’s wife to the north of Nördlingen. If we attack her here and she blows herself up, it will qualify as a history recreation.”

“So many people with difficult destinies these days.”

Blow herself up, hm? thought Matthias.

That would not be enough to kill me, but I suppose she will die.

“How I envy her,” he said.

“Envy her?”

“Testament. I am helpless to do anything, but she has the freedom to choose her own destruction. I cannot even do that.”

So…

“So I wish to enjoy my current sheltered position. That is why I want to learn how this battle will go. You know what I mean, right? Sports are a lot more entertaining when you know the rules. I want to know the rules of the events I am advancing as a puppet. Now, Ishida-kun, could you continue your explanation?”

After a pause, Ishida responded to him.

“Testament. You just cleared up a lot for me. Thank you.”


That explains it, thought Mitsuari as she reached an understanding of Matthias’s behavior.

He was interested in the main points. Not a general overview, but the specifics of what they could do to improve their position and what could happen to harm their position.

He was smart.

If he wanted to truly fulfill his position as a puppet, he could not just sit around being incompetent. He had to judge the other person’s attitude to decide how to behave and what not to do, but he also had to demonstrate a certain level of freedom and show that he held no hostility or conspiracy toward his manager.

That required reading the main points, but this man could do it.

He did show evidence of this once in the past.

At Magdeburg.

That puppet had made a single attack during the Sack.

His Logismoi Oplo, Pheugos Gastrimargia, overloaded the target’s power so it would destroy itself. That attack had hit the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s Tonbokiri.

Based on that and what happened afterwards, his attack had indeed temporarily sealed off one Musashi’s most decisive attacks.

It was our fault that we did not use that opportunity to its full advantage.

I see, thought Mitsunari. He has some skill beyond being a puppet.

That was why she said what she did next.

“Allow me to provide a simple explanation.”


Ishida opened a simple diagram while Matthias crossed his arms and prepared himself.

“Our unit will charge at the anti-imperials, but we cannot angle ourselves quickly enough due to our densely-packed and heavily-equipped formation. That is why we will alter the power systems of the mobile shells.”

“Alter?”

“By shifting the thrusters to the left, the line of the charge can be angled while they run. That kind of group movement is only possible with standardized mobile shells.”

On the diagram, the charging formation gained an angle while they moved.

“Most likely, we can use our weight and pressure to push them after the initial collision. That will create an open space on the hill south of Nördlingen.”

On the diagram, she placed a red circle in the empty space.

“That is likely where the Musashi will send its reinforcements once it arrives overhead. They will probably cut across Nördlingen, but Niwa-sama’s unit will set up a defensive line at the north end of the city to stop them. And…”

On the diagram, she drew a counterclockwise line from Nördlingen’s south side to its north side.

“Ootani and my troops will head north to attack the Nagaoka residence for the history recreation. It is possible we will have to engage the remnants of the Musashi fighters or with the Protestants, but we should be able to handle that since we have buffs and reinforcements.”

“So if all goes as planned, victory will be ours?”

“Testament. That is the purpose of the strategy.”

When Ishida nodded, trumpets sounded from the anti-imperial force up ahead.

“Ohh,” said Matthias while looking up.

He saw the enemy force turned a bit to the side. They likely intended to hit his troops shoulder first.

Tomoe Gozen was doing the same and she beckoned him with the right hand she had turned forward.

“It would seem they are ready to do this.”

“So it does,” agreed Ishida just as some wind roared in from behind him.

All of the mobile shells had upped their power. The thruster activation lifted up their heavy equipment, but then they lowered back down from the stability routine. That produced a clanking of armor and they all readied their weapons.

Then they all raised their voices as one – man and women, old and young.

“Testament!”


Delightful, thought Matthias.

Every last person lined up behind him was undoubtedly his superior in combat.

Even the rookies would have him tapping out in a matter of seconds in a sparring match.

But he did not need to fear them because he was the Holy Roman Emperor.

Being a puppet was an incredible thing.

After all, he barely did any work and he only had to look the part while making commands, but everyone respected him, lifted him up, and excited him by explaining their strategies to him.

What other job could be so delightful?

“Now, let us begin.”

He drew his sword as commander. He had worn it within the chest of his coat this time to look cool, so he quickly drew it from near his collarbone. And…

Oops.

Oh, no. My arm isn’t long enough to draw it.

Oh, right. I chose a longer one to look cool and keep my posture straight.

Before even thinking about the physics behind it, he should have noticed when placing it there in the first place.

But since he could not draw it, he had no choice but to return it.

He heard an “eh?” from behind him, but as a puppet, he was bound to make mistakes. These things happened. Yes, he was delighted to have done something so puppet-like.

But what do I do now?

He considered it for a moment, but there was no time. He unfortunately had to get things started.

“Everyone.”

He paused and made sure the corners of his lips did not loosen as he raised his voice.

“Charge!!”


Mitsunari hurriedly managed the racing troops.

The distance between the two sides was about 500m. Even if they were heavily-equipped, these mobile shells were lighter than the older ones she had seen records of. By intervening with and managing the thruster output, she could get them to cross those 500m in less than 20 seconds.

So she did so.

She was a program. She could currently duplicate herself a maximum of 1000 times. So she first placed herself inside the 1000 mobile shells on the front line of the charge and installed herself in their management divine protections.

And she improved them.

She could do this because, unlike Ootani, she was a proper control program.

“This is a forced installation to improve the tuning and management.”

She was not a virus, so she could officially install herself in the divine protections and manage them.

She gave them the automatic cornering control she had described to Matthias, but she also fine-tuned their acceleration and braking. That allowed them all to move in a more homogenous fashion. That required using a lot of equality and homogeneity divine protection spells, but Catholicism had a lot more of those than the other religions.

She had once attempted to put together a Shinto spell version as an experiment, but in that lax world of substitutions where overthrowing your master almost seemed encouraged, there were incomprehensible rules like “to increase the power output, you must dress as a rabbit that day” and she had ultimately ruled it impossible. She was baffled how those people managed to accomplish anything.

In that sense, Catholicism was nice and simple.

“Installation is at 80%.”

She had the lernen figur in front of her eyes display their planned path and the enemy’s expected path as lines.

“Complete. Now to uninstall myself.”

She removed just herself, then she began tuning the next 1000, and then moved on to the next.

She had finished tuning most of those charging on the anti-imperials.

It had taken her approximately 7 seconds. The initial thousand would be reaching the enemy soon. Yet…

“Eh?”

That clash never occurred.


Mitsuari saw something unexpected happen on the battlefield.

The enemy was waiting.

She had expected them to advance in order to make use of their light weight, yet they were motionless.

Then why had Tomoe Gozen and the rest of the enemy turned to the side?

Was it to brace for impact!?

When turned to the side, they could use their rear leg to stop the backwards push of the impact from the front.

If that’s it, thought Mitsunari while making a split-second decision.

“Hitting them is good enough.”

If the Catholics hit, they could push on through. If the enemy only caught them, they would not be pushed down the hill.

This delayed the actual impact, but that gave them more time for the automatic adjustments to complete the cornering.

We can do this!

Just as Mitsunari reached that conclusion, the sideways-turned enemy formation suddenly moved.

Were they responding? Were they attempting to perform a dash now? Except…

“We can push through!”

The enemy sped up all at once.

But they did not move forward. They moved to the right from the Catholics’ perspective.

They suddenly dashed down the hill.


“Oh?”

The Nagaoka estate’s southern garden gave a view of Nördlingen’s city wall and the hill-turned-battlefield beyond that.

In her white uniform, Christina tied firecracker tubes to the garden trees, attached divine protection charms to those, and turned to the south.

She could see the imperial and anti-imperial forces positioned on the east and west sides of the hill. From her perspective, the large imperial force was on the left and the anti-imperial force was on the right, but…

“You can’t exactly call that force ‘large’.” She hid a sleepy yawn with a hand. “But they sure are raring to go so early in the morning.”

The anti-imperial force was clearly running away from their enemy right now.

When the imperials charged them, they took a course down the hill and along Nördlingen’s circular wall.

Their diagonally-angled formation had not been meant to deflect the enemy.

And their sideways stance had not been for defense against the enemy.

The diagonal angle had been to take a route down and along the wall.

The sideways stance had been to place the downward slope in front of their bodies.

“From there, they only had to begin their downwards dash when the enemy began accelerating.”

They were lightweight, they were descending a slope, and…

“I imagine they have some physical buffs applied. Yes.”

Their rectangular Protestant spell circles were designed to look like Testament copies. When they were all activated at once, they produced a large light source that lit up the early-morning hill.

“Tomoe Gozen is not a nice person.”

The anti-imperials sped up and ran to avoid the enemy’s charge. Christina could see that woman raising her Testament copy hammer at the center of the group headed her way.

The hammer dully reflected the spell light and its wielder had to be smiling right now. Because…

“She is sure to spring a trap here. Yes.”

A moment later, a white beam of light swept across the top of the hill from west to east.

It was a dragon cannon.


The vanguard of the M.H.R.R. imperials saw it happen.

Their charge was dodged and, just as they were going to pursue, a giant form appeared in the previously empty western field.

“A Celestial Dragon…Bernard!”

That bluish-black form almost looked like a mountain. He rapidly joined together while dashing backwards.

He used the backwards movement to position his head and then launched a dragon cannon.

“Take evasive action!”

The entire force attempted to split to the left and right

But the attempt failed due to an obstacle at their feet.

“Mobile shells!?”

These were the outer shells that the Protestants had worn when initially lining up.

They had removed them to lighten themselves and discarded them where they stood.

They had been left in north-south lines to avoid blocking their escape route, but they now acted as a multi-level barricade to the Catholics moving west.

Only those at the far left and right of the charging lines managed the immediate turn necessary.

The center warriors remained where they were and quickly set up defense barriers, but…

“Ahh!” shouted a member of the vanguard just before the white beam hit. “I just had a thought! Does getting hit by a dragon cannon count as an indirect kiss with the dragon?”

“You get to die first!”

All of their defense barriers shattered equally.


Bernard realized he had made the right decision.

He generally did not fall back when firing his dragon cannon. Falling back would reduce the cannon’s speed. The difference was small, but it was still best avoided.

But Bernard had chosen to do it.

This opponent is dangerous.

The enemy unit stood about 600m ahead of him after he fell back.

He had fired his dragon cannon on the 1000 forming the vanguard.

But a further 1000 had appeared in front of them.

Someone had quickly rushed out in front of them to protect them with defense barriers and buffering spells.

“Is that Ishida Mitsunari?”

“Testament. I intervened using their mobile shells’ divine transmission links.”

There was a faint tremor in her voice. Her body was trembling too.

“–––––”

She broke. Most of the 1000 cracked and shattered as payment for protecting her people. He doubted even 200 remained. However…

“Ishida-sama!”

The rescued warriors raised their voices and Ishida looked back toward them.

“I apologize, everyone. They were a step ahead of me here and I have now taken responsibility for that. It is time for you to pursue them and-”

“Testament!!”

She had not completed her command, but they replied. Those warriors who had been helpless without her protection took a step forward.

They moved past the 1000 shattered Ishidas and pointed at Bernard.

“We’ve just gotta kick that guy’s ass, right!?”


The 1000 on the vanguard shouted to the warriors behind them.

“Hey! You pursue the ones who fell back! We’ll go give that dragon a talking to!”

The others did not question it. They simply raised a hand, and…

“We’re counting on you!”

Then they turned toward the slope down.

They split apart.

But Mitsunari did not understand what she was seeing.

They were not obeying the command she had given them, but…

This is exactly what I was about to order them to do.

“You get going, commander!”

“But,” she said hesitantly.

An effective strategy against Swarm Dragon Bernard was to instantly activate multiple versions of herself and use mutual destruction attacks. Her numbers had been reduced considerably, but a simultaneous attack from 200 of her would be effective against the Swarm Dragon since he had yet to fully recover from last time.

But a voice called out to her from those she had protected.

“Go, Ishida-sama!”

“Yeah,” said another one. “Listen,” he began. “Commanders generally give out their instructions and watch over it all from the back. And if their instructions don’t play out as planned, they can blame it on us warriors for not working hard enough.”

“But are you really okay with that?”

“What do you think we trained for? Even if our commander does make a mistake, we can still fight and achieve victory on our own,” said another voice.

“Testament!” chimed in yet another voice – a female one this time. “So you’re not acting like a real commander here! Instead…”

“Testament,” the all said while retaking their fighting stances in perfect unison. “Everyone, set that Celestial Dragon as your enemy so we may take responsibility for our commander’s mistake! We’ll get through this!”


“Oh, neat. Sounds like Mitsunari-kun has received her troops’ support faster than expected,” said Niwa while watching the vanguard’s charge from her position in the back.

Her own unit of 3000 was readying audio equipment and spells behind her.

“Niwa-sama, how is Ishida-sama doing?”

“She herself is excellent. I mean, Hashiba-kun personally made her and she is the cutting edge. However, she is a little too smart, which can make her timid. Plus, the other Ten Spears are also a little too good at their jobs.”

Because…

“She doubts that M.H.R.R.’s ordinary student warriors have the strength to fulfill her demands.”

“Then,” said a female student. “Is that why those warriors in white are acting like that?”

“Shaja. They’re telling her not to underestimate them and to let them do their job, but they’re also saying they want her to stick around since she’s cute. Besides, her initial instructions weren’t wrong. It’s just that the enemy chose to run away. She chose a righteous charge. No one’s going to complain about that.”

Meanwhile, sound filled the sky.

The ships floating there had opened fire.

Since the two sides had parted on the surface, the ships could target their respective enemies.

“My, my, my, my.”

The booms of cannon fire were intermittent since Nördlingen was so close by, but they were solid booms and destruction sprayed skyward where the shells hit. Niwa narrowed her eyes while taking dance steps in time with that beat. She also raised her right hand.

“Everyone, unfurl our flags. And make our preparations on Nördlingen’s northern wall.”

A few different actions were visible up in the sky.

The Musashi was approaching as a giant shadow to the east, but two other ships were speeding past it from the direction of Lake Biwa.

Those was their reinforcements. They bore the mark of Hashiba Ten Spears No. 3 indicating they were under Ishida Mitsunari’s direct command.

“Now, it’s time for us upperclassmen to give Mitsunari-kun a gift.”

A transport ship passed by overhead.

Niwa smiled bitterly upon seeing its rear hatch open.

“Okay, this might be a bit elaborate with summer break so close, but let’s take a look, shall we?”


Chapter 72: Departer on the Testing Ground[edit]

Horizon7C 0529.jpg

I have

A question for you

It is an important matter

So get talking

Point Allocation (Why Are They Like This?)


Nagaoka held his head in his hands.

He had awoken to find himself in a bathhouse changing room.

He had been changed into pajamas and was lying on the floor with a blanket, but there was no one else around.

The first thing he did was inspect his own body.

“They didn’t color it black again, did they!?”

It was sky blue.

Deciding he needed to find a way to wash that off, he recalled a bathhouse would have a bath and opened the door leading to it. There was no water.

A bath fragrance was wafting over from the girl’s side through the gap at the top of the wall, so was this a form of gender discrimination?

He had no choice but to take a seat on his futon in the changing room. He tried to figure out what to do, but he was hesitant to use the hand towels in here without permission.

He had no choice but to try rubbing it off with his hand, but that was precisely when the idiot’s voice reached him from the entrance.

“Hey! Nagabuto! What are you doing awake and playing with yourself!? Oh, but I won’t ask you what you were picturing in your head! I know what things are like at your age! …Morning!”

“Stop making assumptions! And that greeting should have come first!!”

That was how he ended up joining the others for breakfast, but there was a problem.

I feel so much like an outsider here.

Most of them were from the same class, so they knew each other really well and he had trouble joining in.

They made an effort to make him feel welcome, but he felt like that effort left him indebted to them, even if that was just how they were.

Yeah, I’m at fault here.

From there, his thoughts looped back to the beginning. And what was with these people?

“Um, okay, Masazumi, I should probably tell the Nagaoka boy about the defection process.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. …Hey, Nagaoka, this is the Asama Shrine Representative who will handle your immigration. And these are our Vicereine’s arms. Best to get used to them sooner rather than later.”

How!?

And what is with the Asama Shrine Representative? Her boobs are sitting on the desk there and that visual makes it really hard to focus. And I really wish the Vice President wouldn’t sit right in front of me like that either.

“Hey, Asama, Seijun!”

When the idiot called over, those two exchanged a glance and stood up.

“What is it, Toori-kun?”

Who is that pretty girl with big boobs standing behind the idiot? She’s all over him, so is she his girlfriend or something? But the Mito Lord – that is the Mito Lord, right? – is next to him and the Asama Shrine Representative is sitting next to him. What, what, what? I can’t get a read on this. Are they friends? Family? What even is this? And is that those arms from before he’s holding? None of this makes sense.

But…

“Oh, I see,” said the Asama Shrine Representative. “Sorry, I should have considered that.”

“If you ask me,” said a blonde Technohexen, “this pressure seems like it will give us an upper hand in the negotiations.”

“You have a point, Margot,” said a black-haired Technohexen. “But once he starts living on the Musashi, he’ll figure it out in half a day and this will go away. Sometimes I’ll draw a doujinshi and I’ll get some feedback saying no Musashi resident would ever behave the way I depicted them and I really have to start thinking about what I’m doing for a moment or two. Of course, I can always say it’s tailored to foreign audiences or it’s a fantasy story.”

“Yeah, Asama handled my immigration process too,” said their Vice President. “When my father heard she had handled it, he seemed concerned and asked how it had gone. I initially feared he was probing for some kind of information he could use politically, but after about half a day, I had figured out that wasn’t it at all.”

“Wh-what did I do!?” asked the Asama Shrine Representative. “I made sure to behave myself that day because it had to be a neutral examination!”

“She probably heard rumors about every other day,” said the Mito Lord.

And it kept on like that, each line more baffling than the last.

Is there something wrong with them?

He appeared to be Musashi’s excuse for intervening in Nördlingen and that battle was already beginning.

“Hey, don’t we have to hurry?”

“Hm, so you have accepted your situation already, have you?”

Two people sat down in front of him as if taking the Vice President and Asama Shrine Representative’s place.

It was a half-dragon and a scary girl with four prosthetic limbs.


Narumi watched Urquiaga skillfully place his crossed arms on the long desk.

She had been the Date Vice Chancellor, so she was familiar with how emergency immigration examination powers worked. The half-dragon next to her was Catholic, but he was also an inquisitor. He was bound to have that knowledge as well.

Asama: “If you will at least write up the paperwork for me, I can accept it on Shinto’s behalf.”

“Sounds good.” Narumi opened a sign frame. “Okay, let’s keep this short. What is your name?”

“Nagaoka Tadaoki.”

A short answer was a good answer. She turned back toward the Asama Shrine Representative.

“Is that good enough?”


Laborer: “Ha ha ha. Date immigration exams seem nice and easy.”

Flat Vassal: ‘I-I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case! Let’s all calm down a little!”

Silver Wolf: “I think she just wants to get it over with.”


After the Asama Shrine Representative hung her head and wrote something on a sign frame, a sign frame popped up next to the scary girl’s face.

“Hm,” said the girl before looking to him again. “How old are you?”

She needed a note telling her to ask this!?

He trembled. But when he did not answer…

“Silence will not work in your favor here.”

“14! I’m 14!”

“Don’t make this more difficult than it has to be.”

Hearing that, the half-dragon sighed next to her.

“Narumi, there is something I must tell you.”

“Yes?”

“You are so cool.”

“Please, you’ll give me a big head.”

I’m screwed, thought Tadaoki while feeling a horribly heavy weight in the pit of his stomach.

Musashi’s immigration exam is too tough.

I’m starting to sweat, but maybe that will wash off the sky blue. Oh, but if the color soaks into my clothes and drips to the floor, they’re going to think I’m really, really weird.

“Where are you coming from?”

“M.H.R.R.’s Hashiba Himeji District. Um, I am defecting because-”

“That can wait.”

“Testament,” he replied. The scary girl kept asking him questions at a brisk pace, but…

Huh?

I thought she looked familiar, but isn’t that Date’s Vice Chancellor? Come to think of it, she did join Musashi and I’ve seen records of her fighting for them a few times. Like at Odawara. But that means…

She’s even scarier than I thought!

Rumor had it she could use her multiple slashes to destroy the average heavy god of war and her favorite word was “unturning”. Her mobile shell could move at high speed and fly, so he had no idea if his sniping would be any match against it.

He had to wonder why someone like that was doing his immigration exam.


Wise Sister: “Heh heh. I thought it would be fun to see how nervous Nagabuto is, but the surprisingly large difference between Asama and Narumi’s personalities is fun too.”

Silver Wolf: “Maybe that’s the difference between a fighter and a destroy-…I, uh, mean a shrine maiden.”

Asama: “Wh-what did you nearly say there, Mito!?”

Gold Mar: “Mito-tsan, you’re a fighter too, but you seem a lot different from her too.”

Mar-Ga: “It’s about whether they give off killer intent around the clock or not. Narumi is more like Gin in that sense.”

Me: “But I get the feeling Nagabuto would be the most nervous if he was being examined by Bell-san.”

Asama: “Oh, you’re right.”

Bell: “Eh? R-really?”

Silver Wolf: “Y-yes. That response convinced me of it too.”

Bell: “Ehh? M-my family works in the service industry…s-so that’s a problem.”

Flat Vassal: “Th-then what about me!?”

Almost Everyone: “…”

Flat Vassal: “N-no reaction!? Why!?”

Vice President: “Don’t let it bother you. …This is all such a pain, isn’t it?”

Me: “Hey, if you teach at the elementary school for too long, all the kids will end up like that. That’s why I’ve been handing out porn comics during the morning assembly to make sure they can handle that kind of stuff.”

Vice President: “I thought it was odd you weren’t showing up at the classes anymore, but what the hell have you been doing!?”


Once the questioning was mostly complete, Tadaoki let out a sigh.

He appreciated that the Date Vice Chancellor made up her mind quick. That just left the defection process, but…

“Kiyonari, did I miss anything?” she asked.

The half-dragon nodded and then looked straight at Tadaoki.

“Now, I have a question for you as Musashi’s Inquisitor Representative.”

“What?”

“Judge.” He nodded. “Do you have an elder sister?”

Tadaoki did not know what he meant.

He wondered if he had misheard because he had already told them about his immediate family.

“Wh-what did you say? Hm?”

“You don’t get it? I’m asking if you have an elder sister. So do you?”

“What does that have to do with anything!? And I already answered that! When the Date Vice Chancellor asked!”

“You fool,” said the half-dragon. “An inquisitor is an agent of god. You are free to lie during an immigration exam, but if you lie to an inquisitor, you will have your tongue pulled out and you will be damned to hell. …Now, you need not lie in front of me. You are in the presence of god, so relax and be honest.”

“I don’t! Didn’t I tell you? I’m an only child!”

The third years reacted to that.

“Oh, that explains how he grew up to be such a naughty kid,” said the black-haired Technohexen. “Frame it as ‘his parents let him get away with everything’ and we have some juicy material on our hands.”

“Masazumi, what will happen to his parents?” asked the Mito Lord.

“Judge. Once his defection is approved, we will probably send an official request to M.H.R.R. asking to take protective custody of his parents. My father’s group should deal with that.”


“Okay, Koni-tan! We’ll be heading to the surface before long, so make sure you’re ready! Once summer break starts, our comrades in M.H.R.R. will have more free time, so we’ll be busy smuggling stuff aboard! I’ll contact the Asama Shrine and order a stealth field kit capable of covering our theater! Just have to claim it’s ‘for negotiations’!”

“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! I’m in the middle of some heart-to-heart divine mails with my daughter, so can you not kill the mood like that!?”

“Huhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!? You were hiding that you have a daughter like that and you’re in divine mail contact with herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!? Let’s take a look. ‘Even when you fail, you still have a chance if you never give up. (head pats)’ Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!?”

Masanobu gave Konishi a head pat.

“How about thaaaaat!? Wellllll!? Pat, pat, pat, pat. Yes, you’re quite the wonderful daddy, aren’t you? But I bet she’d never imagine we’re here gathering up porn game taaaaaaaaaaaaaxes!”

“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! Are you sending my daughter a photo of all these porn games!? How cruel can you be!?”


“Konishi-kun, you should probably tell your father you are temporarily using my divine transmission.”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Kuki-kun, don’t loooooooooooooooook! I’m still re-installing things on mine after so much was blown away during the battle!”


Tadaoki sighed while watching the third years discussing any number of things.

He again addressed the half-dragon across the desk and to his right.

“Like I said, I don’t have an older sister!”

“You utter fool. What if you were separated at birth!?”

“What!? That doesn’t happen!”

“Nonsense! Only a fool needlessly discards possibilities!”

“Don’t start making up some older sister for me! This is about me, so trust me!”

“You fool,” said the half-dragon. “I will decide whether or not you have an elder sister!”

“Kiyonari, I get that this a virtuous topic for you, but hurry it up.”

“Fine then.” The half-dragon stood up and glanced over at Tadaoki. “Once you have calmed down, come to me to confess. I will be waiting.”

Tadaoki considered saying something, but he could tell persistence would only make this worse.

Also, this was no time for sighing.

“What’s going on at Nördlingen?”

“Judge. Nagaoka, you will be heading down there too, so you need to get ready. You will likely be descending onto a battlefield, so the enemy will be waiting for you. And at the moment,” said the Musashi Vice President. “Things are apparently not looking good.”


Tomoe Gozen ran along the west side of Nördlingen.

She descended the hill to reach a fairly flat area of land. She was surrounded by vast fields to the west and Nördlingen’s wall to the east.

The enemy was numerous and swift. Her side had gained some speed by reducing their weight, but…

They’re using A.H.R.S.’s cutting edge stuff.

The Protestant mobile shells were new models from Eisenritter. That was an old company that had broken away from the Catholic-leaning A.H.R.S. during the Protestant Reformation. But A.H.R.S. was a nationally-run corporate guild, so it surpassed Eisenritter in total strength.

If they were simply trying to escape, the Catholics would use their small advantages to eventually catch up.

Also, the other side had Ishida Mitsunari to coordinate their movements.

That explained the marked improvement in their ability to run and shoot at the same time.

The Protestants spread out their personnel to put gaps between them and stayed on the lookout for enemies making a charge.

The enemy still had every few rows packed close together and each row would dodge with accurate movements. On occasion, a row would split apart and join back together, likely to take a more optimal evasive path.

A commander within the running Protestant forces gave a shout while looking back behind them.

“Tomoe Gozen! They’re not playing fair!”

“We will be able to do that in a few years’ time, so don’t let it bother you.”

“I’m a little more worried about the present! As in, right now!”

“Then open fire right now, everyone!”

The front of the enemy group had finished descending the hill.

Tomoe Gozen’s unit used that timing to turn to the side while running.

The rear row aimed their rifles behind them, and…

“Fire!”


Mitsunari was more riding with the others than running alongside them when she noticed the enemy taking aim.

Are they aiming for the moment we finish the descent?

The Catholic mobile shells were heavily equipped. Their momentum and weight would cause them to sink down when they finished that descent.

The enemy aimed for that moment.

But the problem was not the gunfire coming from up ahead.

That gunfire delayed them just long enough for something else.

Up above!

The enemy ships in the sky had coordinated their timing to aim their cannons down at just that moment.

Not even heavily-equipped mobile shells could withstand artillery fire from ship’s guns.

“In that case.”

Mitsunari looked up at the ships and raised her hand.

“I will go!”


Tomoe Gozen saw the result of the artillery fire.

They had over ten ships in the air capable of firing on the surface. Since this primarily used their secondary cannons, they could rain down shells by the hundreds.

Yet there were no shells and there was no sound. There was nothing.

The supporting fire from the air had not arrived.

After a few seconds, the silence was broken by everyone’s racing feet and the clattering of their equipment.

“Huh?”

All the voices around her were colored by betrayed expectations and doubt.

Of course they were.

In their plan, the shells fired after the descent down the hill was their best chance to reduce the enemy’s numbers.

So why had it not happened?

Tomoe Gozen worked to not be held captive by her own doubts, but her eyes did notice something odd.

“There’s ether light scattering in the sky?”

Then it hit her, so she opened a lernen figur.

“Ship’s guns! Reset your firing control divine protection! Switch to manual and eyesight modes!”

She did not know how it had been done, but the enemy must have pulled off a certain defensive plan.

“They’re using a spell that cancels our firing control!!”


The times sure are changing!

Tomoe Gozen suppressed a tongue click and looked to the sky while falling back.

A thin layer of ether light dust hung between the enemy and the Protestant fleet.

“That came from the destruction of a spell.”

That was the enemy’s doing. It had to have been Ishida Mitsunari’s defense spell.

Can the target really cancel targeting spells and ballistic adjustment spells?

This was different from stealth or chaff. It was a prohibiting interception.

“Tomoe Gozen, what was that!?”

The people around her were finally starting to catch on to what had happened.

She gestured for them to continue firing. Attacking was more important than their questions. The trumpets sounded and the shots were fired.

The attacks hit the enemy’s defense barriers and sparks flew from the armor.

They could shoot and they could hit. That was how it should be, but it only applied to this attack made with simple guns.

The artillery fire from above was a different matter. They were using targeting and guidance spells to avoid damaging Nördlingen in the dim light of the early morning.

“Most likely, the enemy has a spell to prohibit our attacks. When they detect our targeting and guidance spells, they activate intercepting shields in the air.”

Indeed.

Tomoe Gozen used all of her spell knowledge to understand the enemy’s strategy.

After all, this was her first time seeing a defensive spell like this.

She had created some Protestant spells herself, so…

An intervention spell is such a fascinating idea!

She could imagine what was going on based on the ether mist that had scattered earlier.

This was being used by the data entity named Ishida Mitsunari, so…

“This is probably pure ‘data’ instead something optical or a traditional spell. The enemy must be seizing the very concept of data and activating herself within the ley lines.”

Tomoe Gozen thought it was an interesting technique.

“If you think of everything in existence as submerged in the ley lines, then all is connected. In Buddhism, this is known as Pratyaya, but when our fleet targets the enemy, they strengthen the connection between the two.”

So…

“Mitsunari can read the data in the ley lines, so she can detect the strengthened connection when she is targeted. She then sends in some false information about us to prohibit our fleet from firing.”

“That’s actually possible!?”

“It is,” said Tomoe Gozen. “What you see when you look at me is a primitive form of data entity known as a ghost. If you look carefully, you will notice that I am somewhat transparent, but you can’t actually see my other side, right? That is because I am a kind of data entity that only returns my surface data to your vision. That uses a visual data link between me and you. That proves there is a link between us.” She laughed. “Mogami’s fox has a divine weapon called Onikiri and it too uses that link.”

However…

“The enemy can use that link for the homing and guidance settings of their spells.”

“Tomoe Gozen, do you mean…?”

“If you rely on spells for fire control, the spell will be reset and the safety measures will kick in, stopping you from firing. So the simple solution is to fire using only your own eyes and hands. It’s a pain, but we just have to rely on the skill of our most experienced. A very Protestant situation if you think about it.” She raised her eyebrows in a smile. “But the delay in supporting fire from above is somewhat dangerous.”

Everyone knew what she meant as they ran.

The enemy numbers would not be reduced as far as planned.

“––––”

A mood set in that kept them from voicing their thoughts, but that silence was broken by a sudden noise.

It was the artillery fire from above.

There had been a few seconds of delay, but the shells were finally being launched toward the ground.

However, it was already too late. The enemy had advanced enough to finish descending the hill and their brief pause to stabilize themselves had passed.

“Here they come.”

Come they did. And all at once.


Mitsunari breathed a sigh of relief while accompanying the others.

They were receiving gunfire from up ahead and artillery fire from the sky.

But the bullets from up ahead could be blocked with their heavy armor and defense barriers.

Also, the shells from the sky were somewhat scattered. She was disappointed that they had used analog techniques to counter her ability, but she found this to be better than having harm come to the others.

Our defense barriers will be enough to stop this level of artillery fire.

Of course, it would not just be individuals activating those barriers.

A thousand mobile shells were racing across the battlefield, so she used her management spell to gather up all of the usable defense barriers among them and responded with those.

A single individual could never have blocked this, but a thousand could pull it off.

“This will work.”

She was very aware of her existence as a program at the moment.

Nari Nari Nari: “Ootani-kun. I think I understand my fighting style now.”

Super Justice: “You had better.”

“Because,” he went on to say.

Super Justice: “You are the final product created using me as a prototype. You will also come to lead the Hashiba forces at a later date, so you must be superior to me.”

Nari Nari Nari: “You hold people to strict standards.”

He was an offensive virus and she was – if anything – a defensive anti-virus.

They were similar yet took opposite ends of the spectrum, so there was a lot she could learn from him and Hashiba had instructed her to get along with him.

Nari Nari Nari: “Ootani-kun.”

Super Justice: “What is it, Mitsunari-kun?”

Nari Nari Nari: “After this battle, please let me review your combat records from Kantou. I have determined the counters they used against you may be surprisingly useable in reality.”

Super Justice: “Testament. Feel free.”

She was relieved to hear that response. She could improve her own functionality like this.

Meanwhile, the scattered artillery fire arrived overhead. When she used the defense barriers to shatter it and reduce it to sound and ether light shards, the others around her suddenly nodded.

A few of them turned toward her.

“Testament. Thank you very much!”

“I was only doing what I could to help,” she replied.

“No, no.” They skillfully shook their heavily-armored heads. “We can see why you’re the name inheritor with Hashiba-sama’s personal endorsement!”

“Testament! I volunteered to serve under you because I thought you were the cool and composed type, and I’m glad to see I was right!”

“Plus, you fill the valuable flat chest slot in the roster of M.H.R.R commanders!”

“Damn straight,” agreed the others. And, “That technique was super cool. It felt like one of those weird things people do with the Logismoi Oplo!”

“Wait, um.” She raised her right hand to correct them. “I have determined it is inaccurate to compare what I did to those Logismoi Oplo, since they never seem to hit anything.”


“Um, Master Muneshige? Is now really the best time to rewrite your site based on the information from the Azuchi and Musashi passing each other by? Shouldn’t you wait until things have calmed down more at this base? It’s your duty? No, it really isn’t your duty! You need to calm down! And to be clear, that was meant as a warning shot. That does not count as missing, so you don’t need to add a Muneshige Mark for this one. Let’s try to stay technically accurate, okay?”


Mitsunari looked into the sky as she ran.

The Musashi had made it very close in the early morning sky, which was growing bluer. Its approach was so fast, she found it hard to believe it was so close already. It was a lot like how natural phenomena were all on such a large scale yet seemed to move at such a slow rate.

But her reinforcement ships were approaching as well.

So…

“Everyone, hurry your-”

Before she could finish her sentence, the others had all finished descending the slope and arrived at the flat land below.

She could see the light produced as their thrusters accelerated.

Their propulsion divine protection was based on one called Pilgrimage. It gathered up the air and made a loud noise while pushing them forward.

They briefly floated up and then launched forward.

Victory was nearly assured at this point. Now that they were gliding through the air while barely using their legs at all, each and every one of them was a mass of charging force.

The enemy’s columns did not matter. Her troops would crash straight into them.

The vanguard hit and the sounds of acceleration reached her after the fact.

She saw several explosions of ether light shards, but she also saw something else.

Her vanguard had been broken.


Mitsunari saw a wall of ether.

But a closer look showed what it really was.

That was no wall.

“Books!?”

That was not quite accurate either.

These were copies of the Testament.

“Is that Tomoe Gozen’s Testament copy summoning spell!?”


The mobile shell unit charging with Mitsunari saw the Testament copy barrier towering before them.

The books were made of ether, they were at least 7m tall, and they may have been 70cm thick.

A row of those had grown up from the ground to form a thick barricade against their charge.

Those who could stop in time brought themselves to a rapid stop, but not all of them could do that.

“It’s all or nothiiiiiiiiiiiing!”

That latter group actually chose to accelerate.

The strength of a collision came from the speed, the weight, and the sturdiness of the weapon.

They hit and a shattering sound followed.

Most of them were destroyed by the impact, but…

“Ohhhh!”

Two made it through. Their weapons had broken and their armor had shattered, but…

“We’re not gonna lose to some preachy Protestant Testament copies that don’t even come with a mascot character!”

“We love worshiping idols!!”

They split the giant Testament copy standing in their way.

But they found another one right behind it.

They were stacked back to back as well. And the writing on the spine said…

“Winner! Have another!”

With a deafening sound of collision, their charge was crushed by that counterattack.

“That was mean!” said Mitsunari when she saw it.

“Shut up! I said people should place their faith in the Testament copies alone and I meant it!”

The gaps in the copies gave her a view of the Protestant forces who had backed away and taken a defensive formation. And someone stood in front of them with a Testament copy hammer at the ready.

“Tomoe Gozen!”


To exist in a realm of pure sound, you only had to shut your eyes.

When Sakon did that, her ears picked up on a reverberation that periodically appeared and then faded away.

She felt like she was feeling the sound more than hearing it.

It’s a lot like a pulse, she thought, but this was not the beating of her heart. She thought this had to be what it was like to have someone hugging you tight, but she had never experienced that herself.

Why is my imagination so indecent? she wondered with a blush, but that was the reality she found herself in.

Then she heard a voice. It was a deep male mechanical voice.

<Connection: Mobile Shell: Onitakemaru: User: Shima Sakon: Confirmed>

<Authorization: Weapon: Entries #1 - #3: Confirmed>

<Authorization: OS – User: Mutual: Confirmed>

While she listened to the precisely spoken words, an unnecessary sound grew louder and louder in her ears.

It was her own pulse.

She was nervous. And once she noticed that, her pulse only grew faster. Until…

Onitakemaru: “Hey. How sheltered can you be? You’re so nervous I’d think you’d never fought a battle in your life.”

That was the OS.

It was apparently named Onitakemaru.

This was actually her first time speaking with the mobile shell’s OS.

I-I’m so nervous.

For a variety of reasons, she and the mobile shell had not been ready until now. The mobile shell’s abilities had been mostly known since the prototype phase, so she had trained using a dummy one.

That allowed her to move easily enough in it and she understood its abilities and controls.

But Mitsunari had said via divine transmission that she might get even better at using it once she could communicate with this OS.

That had seemed awfully vague for Mitsunari.

But if Sakon was being honest, she had trouble interacting with other people. So…

“Um, i-it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Onitakemaru: “Huh?”

She had apparently gone for a greeting too quickly. She felt like she must have screwed up for him to speak with that “what did you say?” tone of voice.

“Um, I said it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Onitakemaru: “What? Oh, don’t bother with that crap. …Are you ready?”

“F-for what?”

Onitakemaru: “I asked if you’re ready to fight!”

You did not ask that, she thought, but she still felt this had to be her fault somehow. In fact, she was already on the battlefield. Or in the sky above it, anyway. So…

Onitakemaru: “Report.”

“Eh?”

Onitakemaru: “Give me a report.”

“Eh? Um, uhh. You asked if I was ready to fight and I never answered, but now you want a report? A report on what?”

Onitakemaru: “If you have time to talk back to me, then just answer my questions! Once we descend to the surface, Ishida Mitsunari can focus on supporting her own unit and the emperor’s unit. We are in charge of the eastern unit. Do you understand how important a role that is!?”

“Y-yes, I do.”

Onitakemaru: “God, you sure are dense for someone who presumes to use me as a tool, little girl.”

She had to think about that one.

Little girl? Me?

She was more than three meters tall. How in the world was that “little”?

But she realized these were the words of the OS within the mobile shell she was wearing.

So he is bigger than me.

That makes sense! she thought with a hint of delight. Even I can be a little girl like this.

Onitakemaru: “Hey, what’re you grinning about! This is the battlefield!”

“R-right! The battlefield! I will stay focused!”

Falling into her usual habit and slapping her own cheeks was a mistake.

A powerful shock ran through her vision and alerts arrived from all around her, warning of possible self damage.

Onitakemaru: “What the hell!? That’s my body right now!”

“S-sorry. I forgot I had my arms free.”

She quickly switched her vision over to the mobile shell’s helmet.

The early morning ground and sky came into view.

She was on the rear of a transport ship, where it had been outfitted for dropping mobile shells. The hatch would open and then she only had to jump down.

There was no one else around her. And if there were, they would be in danger if they got near her. She was nearly 4m tall right now.

The floor was apparently shaking and there was wind, but her footing felt perfectly solid.

Is Onitakemaru-san assisting me?

She did not quite understand, but she felt like he had to be. And…

Onitakemaru: “I don’t really get all this display nonsense, but I’ll be bringing up everything I can.”

Catholicism actually had a close relationship with the construction industry. While standing in front of the narrow rear entrance, the distance to the edge of the hatch and the width of the opening were calculated and displayed in real time. When she checked by the wall, she saw a marker indicating a possession of hers, so she reached out and found a large sword there.

Onitakemaru: “I really would have preferred an odachi.”

“Are they better?”

He paused for a moment before answering her.

Onitakemaru: “Well, this is for you to use, so my opinion is irrelevant. I’m in charge of defense and you’re in charge of offense.”

“Oh, I-I look forward to working with you.”

He did not respond. Did I make him mad? she wondered, but she was relieved to find she could hold a conversation with him.

Then an internal transmission played.

“Sakon-sama! We will arrive at your drop-off point in 37 seconds! Your mobile shell is in descent mode and you have reinforcing parts installed, so just picture it like falling onto the soles of your feet! Make sure you don’t go like this, like this, or – whoa – like this! That’s not gonna work! Agh!”

She could not see what they meant, but she kind of understood anyway.

Some static mixed in with the ship’s internal transmission.

“The first ship has dropped off its reinforcements! We will incorporate that data when dropping you off, so you should make it safely down!”

“I-is the person they dropped off okay?”

“Yeah, well, he’s not really a person. But he knows what he’s doing, so he’ll be fine.”

Onitakemaru: “Oh, him.”

“Is he a brother OS of yours?”

Onitakemaru: “Do not be absurd! I am nothing like him!”

“Oh. So you’re better than him?”

Onitakemaru: “Of course I am, little girl!”

He yelled at her.

I really hope I can make this work, she thought while the final check came over divine transmission.

“Okay, Sakon-sama, just like the first ship, we will officially belong to Shibata rather than Hashiba. That was a last-minute adjustment made by Maeda-sama. That will place you under Ishida-sama’s direct command down there, but you have the authority to act on your own, so keep that in mind!”

“U-um?”

Onitakemaru: “They’re telling you to do whatever you want.”

Oh, no. I’m bad at that, she nearly said, but stopped herself so he would not yell at her again.

Meanwhile, she noticed empty space out in front of her.

“––––”

She shut her eyes and started hearing that pulse again.

It was probably Onitakemaru’s.

Yes.

This mobile shell has a scary OS, but it’s pulse is gentle, she thought. So…

“This is Shima Sakon. I will now be supporting Nördlingen as part of the Shibata forces!”

Then she let herself drop out into the early morning sky.

She descended feet first toward the battlefield behind the others who had been stopped at the bottom of the hill.


Chapter 73: Stopper Girl on the Field[edit]

Horizon7C 0561.jpg

Who called?

And who will answer?

Point Allocation (A Legitimate Intruder)


Tomoe Gozen saw the enemy reinforcements arrive.

Are those gods of war?

They had been carried in by armored transport ships flying low.

Her Testament copies had blocked her view, but they had dropped two objects.

She could hear them. One sounded like an awful lot of metal, whereas the other…

Its footsteps sound a lot spryer.

Were these light gods of war or something?

Ishida Mitsunari had vanished when these reinforcements arrived. She had likely returned to her unit and the emperor on the east side of Nördlingen. She had given all of the enemy mobile shells a lernen figur, so she had clearly switched to supporting them through that. In other words…

“Is she letting the reinforcements handle things here?”

That suggested these two new opponents would be trouble.

Meanwhile, the Protestant side was low on numbers.

We are trying to survive by firing on them while establishing a defensive formation and falling back to the north.

The anti-imperial fleet was providing intermittent support fire.

Bernard was fighting atop the hill.

But their numbers were still insufficient.

The enemy was heavily equipped, so their mobile shells could deflect bullets.

One of their units was holding Bernard in place, and…

The imperial fleet has started responding to our fleet.

The ships on the other side of Nördlingen had started firing. That was the imperial fleet firing on the Protestant ships.

Ishida Mitsunari had prevented them from firing when they most needed to and now they had to respond to the shells arriving from the imperial fleet.

Also, the Musashi was slow to approach in the eastern sky.

It was not running late; it simply was not arriving quickly enough for how things had turned out.

That showed how much progress the enemy was making.

“I wish we could have taken out more of the enemy here before these two new enemy units arrived.”

If they moved west, the imperial fleet to the east would be unable to fire on them for fear of accidentally hitting Nördlingen, which would stand between them.

That was indeed what happened.

But that meant those ships would focus their fire on the Protestant fleet in the air.

They had predicted as much, but Ishida Mitsunari’s presence had unfortunately left the anti-imperial fleet focused entirely on defense.

God, this is why I hate these fighters from a new era.

“For the past 500 years whenever the Divine States or Europe introduced a new weapon or tactic, I’ve groaned at yet again having something new to adapt to.”

Human technology had finally reached the point where they could create data entities as easily as automatons. No, that technology had existed during the Age of the Gods, but it had been lost and the many data entities could no longer maintain their existence and had disappeared.

Most of the gods were just a variation on a data entity. In that case…

“If people could create artificial gods during the Age of the Gods, does this mean we are approaching that level again now?”

If so…

“As someone who spent all her time fighting and finally became a messenger of god, it is my duty to face these new enemies.”

Tomoe Gozen prepared herself for a fight.

A wall appeared 200m in front of her.

Those were the Testament copies she had summoned from the ley lines. At that size, the writing was large enough that even someone piloting a god of war could easily read them.

The enemy seemed to crash into them, but those books would not be so easily destroyed.

She wished she could have summoned a bunch more of them further back.

Then enemies that slipped past could be taken out individually and the enemy’s advance could be slowed.

That had been her plan, but…

“You don’t always get what you want.”

She compressed the activation of the Testament copy stocker she wore on her back.

The miracles written on those books’ pages were directly linked to the Protestant spells she had created. With that stocker, she could use as many Protestant spells as she liked.

Why wouldn’t the Protestant leader get that kind of special treatment?

In an instant, the large Testament copy standing right in front of her was shattered.

A light was to blame.

A glowing beam had swept down next to her and sliced down into the ground.


Reactions were meant to be made immediately.

In that sense, Tomoe Gozen failed to react.

There were three reasons for this.

First, her wall of copies had been destroyed by the enemy’s attack so easily.

Second, that attack had come from a cannon rather than a direct blow or charge.

And third, the blast that had shattered the wall had been accompanied by something else: a sound.

“Oh…”

The ear-splitting roar stretched out and ended on an “ah” sound.

The voice seemed to rip through the air rather than vibrate it.

After it sounded a second time, a second beam burst out and a line of explosions chased after it.

That had to be the power that had destroyed the Testament copy. The flat grassland was scattered into the air.

“Retreat!!”

It was too late.

The light raced across everyone’s defense barriers and its power was unleashed a breath later.

The explosions tore down the far right flank of the defensive formation that had been waiting behind her.

And she saw two forms appear from the gaps in the shattered Testament copy wall.

The first was terribly tall.

They stood at nearly 4m and wore black armor.

That’s one of the reinforcement units!

Was it a god of war?

The size suggested a light god of war, but that guess was quickly proven wrong.

She saw the fabric of an academy uniform through the ordinary joints.

That meant this was a giant or something wearing a mobile shell.

But the real problem was the other figure.

It too was enormous. It stood more than 2m tall and wore a mobile shell.

The head was covered by a metal mask and white smoke blew from the mouth.

The previous attack had come from this unit’s roar.

It had a thick build, but something else stood out more: the bones.

It had thick ribs, collarbones, arm bones, and leg bones. They all had motors and artificial muscles attached and it was all held together by the armor and fasteners.

This was a corpse made to move again.

But the fundamental movements were not just those of the motors.

“Is this another application of data entity tech?”

Bluish-white ether light surrounded its entire body.

That is a ghost.

She could see the tall mobile shell was the same.

She was unsure who the tall one was, but she recognized the enormous skeletal one lumbering toward her.

She recognized what lay beyond the steel mask, the two horns extending toward the sky, the overall build, and everything else.

“It’s been 500 years, Lord Kiso.”


“Testament. It looks like the activation is progressing smoothly.”

In a snowy plaza, two figures sat on a bench in front of the Far East Academy Store located in front of a stone-walled castle.

One was Maeda Toshiie with Matsu on his shoulder and the other was Sassa who was eating a paper-wrapped pirozhki.

In front of them, Fuwa held her hands out toward an open-air stone hibachi.

“You mean those things we sent are actually moving? You never had a chance to test them much, did you?”

“Michi, it’s basically an application of my Kaga Millionen Geist. Except the summoned ghost was fixed in this world using their own remains. That created a mold for the ghost, which purified them as a data entity. One of them had lost most of his memories since the damage to the mold had been too severe, but fortunately, he still lives at an instinctual level.”

“Keh. Pathetic,” spat Sassa. “Why should we get help from some long-dead people?”

“They count as ordinary warriors and are thus not bound by inherited names. They might be the perfect fighters for assisting name inheritors, Na-chan. They will be one of the forces supporting Hashiba-kun once we retire.”

“Oh, is that so?” Sassa looked up into the sky. “It’s almost morning, so won’t the ghosts disappear?”

“Why do you think they had to be fixed in this world? Were you even listening, Sassa?”

“Ha ha ha. Michi, Na-chan decided right away he didn’t like this, so of course he wasn’t listening.”

“Stuuupid!” shouted Matsu. “Iiiimbecile!!”

“Who gave her a damn thesaurus!?”

The store’s door slid open and a tentacle poked his head out.

He was eating some fried potatoes.

“Oh, are you taking a break and watching the footage from Nördlingen!? The newcomers arranged by Maeda-sama are being activated, aren’t they!?”

“Mori, do you know who Lord Kiso is?”

“I do! Lord Kiso is Minamoto no Yoshinaka! Along with Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, he was one of the top three on the Minamoto clan side of the Genpei War! He successfully drove the Taira clan out of Kyou, but he was so heavily praised in Kyou he grew corrupt and failed to pursue the Taira clan. He opposed Yoritomo when the other man tried to enter Kyou in his place, but he was ultimately slain by Yoritomo and Yoshitsune’s forces!”

“How exactly did he grow corrupt?”

“The latest research has rejected the previously-accepted theory that he debauched himself at tentacle parties! Hey, what’s with those disappointed looks, everyone!? Of course there weren’t any tentacle parties! The Far East had no connection to the Dark Continent at the time!”

“Then what did he do?”

“Well,” said the tentacle while crossing a few tentacles and nodding. “The latest research says he was so taken in by Kyou’s culture that he forgot all about fighting and indulged in karaoke, kemari, and literature.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Sassa.

“A-anything can be a problem when not done in moderation! You simply do not understand, Sassa-sama! The records from the time say Yoshinaka’s forces took karaoke so far they kept earning high scores and requesting new songs, they took kemari so far they won a national championship, and they took literature so far they published a manga that became the basis for the Tale of the Heike!”

“I’m still not seeing what’s wrong with any of that,” said Fuwa.

“And I seem to recall hearing that led to the blossoming of culture there,” added Maeda.

They all crossed their arms and tilted their heads. After a pause, the tentacle spoke up again.

“The rules of the history recreation are to blame!!”

“Hey, quit arguing against Hashiba’s policy.”

“Oh, th-that’s right!” said the tentacle. “So even if you earn high scores in karaoke and reach the nationals in kemari, you deserve to be executed if you’re being a loser shut-in by refusing to leave Kyou!”

“Aren’t we being loser shut-ins eating store-bought food in a snowy northern nation right now?”

“Th-that just means we have to get to work, Fuwa-sama! For example, I have recently taken on a somewhat cultured part-time job as a critic!”

“Pff,” spat Fuwa. “So what do you review, Mori? Tentacle videos? ‘This video was fantastic! I award it 5 erect tentacles!’ ”

“F-Fuwa-sama, you haven’t been getting much sleep, have you!? Have you!? I’ll have you know I am reviewing music! I am the love song specialist for Sweet Treat the women’s PR magazine put out by the Shibata forces! I recently reviewed the song Loveloquence!”

“Oh, so you’re the one that got all mad it was a rock song based on an old story from the Heian period where some guy was so obsessed with his love that he stole her poop and was shocked to find how much he enjoyed the smell. You can’t just call the guards over that, you know?”

“Fuwa-sama, please do not use Age of the Gods terminology like ‘rock’! And you would call the guards too if someone stole your poop, wouldn’t you!?”

“Oh, come on. I don’t poop.”

“This again?” said Sassa. “Did you forget about at Sviet Rus when-”

Fuwa threw one of the hibachi’s metal chopsticks at Sassa as a warning.

“Don’t you dare say it! You’re the worst!”

“Whoa, watch out! What if that stabbed me!?”

“Ha ha ha,” laughed Maeda. “Is that anything to say after snatching it out of the air like that, Na-chan?”

“The worst! The worst! Piece of poop!” said Matsu.

“He really is,” agreed Fuwa and Mori sighed upon seeing it all.

“Why was the Far East going all out with the weird fetishes ever since ancient times? Frankly, it’s weird. Should I blame Shinto for this?”

“You say that, but in Tsirhc, you can swap out your son for a ram and it’s all the same and god really seems to ask for young boys a lot.”

“Hold it, Maeda-sama! Now you’re being intentionally misleading!” protested Mori. “Anyway, um, are the warriors you arranged for Nördlingen actually working!?”

“Testament.” Maeda opened a few new lernen figurs. “Komaoumaru and Onitakemaru are functioning properly. We can rest easy for now.”

“What was that name that sounds an awful lot like Komainu?”

“It’s a childhood name. Komaoumaru was the childhood name of Minamoto no Yoshinaka, who we sent over there. Onitakemaru is more well-known, but I hope Komaoumaru will move out to the front more. I want to see how well the OS has set in.”

“Maeda, you really like that technical stuff, don’t you? Do you feel obligated to keep an eye on the things you worked on?”

“It wasn’t just me. Technically, Niwa-senpai and Akechi-senpai worked on them too. I simply took over once Niwa-senpai left Kantou and Takigawa-senpai arrived to take her place.” He looked at a lernen figur. “But anyway, their first opponent might have too close a connection, but that just means they have to put in a real effort. Let’s see what we can accomplish when we bring together the full strength of Hashiba tech and my Kaga Millionen Geist.”


Tomoe Gozen faced her enemy.

They were 100m apart.

Her opponent said nothing and simply stood there with sword at the ready.

If he had been riding a mechanical horse, he truly would have been Kiso Yoshinaka.

What is going on? she wondered while hearing a voice behind her.

“Tomoe Gozen! Is this really Minamoto no Yoshinaka!?”

“Who else could this be!?”

“But, um.” Everyone hesitated and exchanged a glance before continuing. “Do historical figures generally shoot beams from their mouth!?”

“You better believe it.” She readily accepted that. “Yoshinaka is a demonic long-lived, but his demon blood was stronger. He would often shoot beams from his mouth back then. The combat-type demons have something like a demon cannon produced by releasing the contents of their ether organ.”

“What did he call it!?”

“ ‘Mouth Beam’.”

“Just that!? Really!? And doesn’t that violate the Testament!?”

“He was a warrior of Bandou, after all.”

“Thank you for that incredibly succinct explanation! …S-so can he shoot beams from his eyes too!?”

“What? Of course not. Are you stupid?”

“H-how is that fair!?”

Then another beam of light rushed in.

She was used to the roar by now, so she could dodge it. As for the warriors behind her…

“Wahhh!”

The screamed, but they were still an elite unit. They must have shared the data after the first hit.

They actually dodged it.

Okay, she added, but she was not actually thinking straight.

After all, that was her long-dead husband standing in front of her.

“I hate that I can’t really say I’m glad to see you. What have you been doing for the past 500 years, Yoshinaka?”

Honestly, she thought. Christina, I was telling you to meet your partner and actually speak your mind because I don’t want to see more people end up like me.

And more than that…

“Yoshinaka, if you had remained asleep, my heart could have been at peace.”

She had come all this way trusting in the brief love she had felt back then.

But she felt none of that sentimentality now.

This was the battlefield and Yoshinaka was not their only enemy.

She had seen another. A terribly tall mobile shell wielding a large sword.

“Hey, that isn’t a corpse inside there, is it? What is your name?”

“Eh?”

The tall mobile shell casually turned around while doing something.

They grabbed one of the giant Testament copies growing from the ground and pulled it out as if hugging it.

Are they some kind of monster!?

She had yet to disconnect the ether book from the ley line. It would only be an enormous book once she did that, but she had not. While it looked like a book, it was a wall still connected to the ley line.

Pulling that out was like grabbing a boulder growing up from the ground, breaking it off at the surface, and lifting it up.

But that mobile shell had done it.

“What is your name?”

“Oh, testament. Um.”

The mobile shell had set down the book and flipped through a few pages in apparent curiosity, but they turned around when she repeated her question.

Then they bowed and named themselves in a young female voice.

“I-I am Shima Sakon. Um, I serve Mitsunari-sama and am part of the Hashiba forces!”

After a pause, Sakon’s head suddenly jerked to the right.

It looked a lot like someone Tomoe Gozen could not see had yelled at her. Then she quickly made a correction.

“Oh, um, uh. I-I am part of the Shibata forces! I am with the Shibata forces right now!”


Sakon felt shaken after Onitakemaru yelled at her.

You don’t have to yell right in my ear like that.

But his voice emitter was located by her ear, so he kind of did have to. It was possible he was trying to speak quietly.

At any rate, she shook her somewhat woozy head and completed her introduction to Tomoe Gozen.

“A-and this mobile shell is named Onitakemaru!”

“Onitakemaru?”

Tomoe Gozen tilted her head, but that was to be expected. No one would know who that was.

So Sakon placed a hand on her chest and explained the best she could.

“He’s apparently very strong.”

She had no proof of that, but he seemed strong to her. She kind of wished she had omitted the “apparently”, but…

Onitakemaru: “Well, I am strong. Whether or not I can demonstrate that strength is up to you, though.”

“Wh-why are you so strict, Onitakemaru-san?”

Onitakemaru: “Hey.”

“Eek! Wh-what?”

Onitakemaru: “You keep speaking out loud when talking to me. No one else can hear my voice, so you sound like you are talking to yourself.”

“Eh? I don’t want that. This is supposed to my debut, so I don’t want to come off as a weirdo who talks to herself.”

Oh, she realized.

“You can just make it so everyone else can hear what you say.”

Onitakemaru: “How stupid are you!?”

“O-only stupid people call people stupid. You didn’t know that?”

Onitakemaru: “Just listen. If everyone could hear me, they would notice us, they would overhear our plans, and you would sound even weirder.”

That last one is definitely the most important, she decided. Being noticed and having your plan overheard were simple mistakes that could be made up for, but being branded a weirdo was something that never went away. So…

“O-okay, I get it. But what should I do?”

Onitakemaru: “Well, you could create a divine chat name for yourself.”

Just as he said that, Tomoe Gozen spoke to her.

“Is that Yoritomo inside there?”


Tomoe Gozen heard a confused voice and saw a tilt of the head from the tall mobile shell standing in front of her.

“Yoritomo?”

“Testament. Yoritomo.”

“I don’t know a Yoritomo.”

She doesn’t know who that is? thought Tomoe Gozen. So…

Was I wrong?

But there was one thing anyone could see. Shima’s mobile shell was surrounded by bluish-white ether light.

“That ether light surrounding you is from a ghost.”

Unlike with Yoshinaka, the ghost was contained within the mobile shell with this one. And based on Shima’s reactions, Yoritomo was alive and speaking within there.

He did seem like the type to have powerful regrets.

But Shima held her right palm out toward Tomoe Gozen.

“C-can you give me a moment?”

After a pause, her head jerked to the right again.

She must have been yelled at.


“W-whoa. Please stop yelling in my ear.”

Onitakemaru: “You fool! But aside from that, were you using me without even knowing who I am!?”

Will he be mad if I tell the truth? she wondered while explaining.

“Yes, I really didn’t know anything at all. But,” she added. “Um, are you really Yoritomo-sama?”

Onitakemaru: “I honestly want to know about that as much as you do. For me, I opened my eyes and found myself like this.”

“Oh, that doesn’t sound like fun. But,” she added again. “This came completely out of left field. I find it kind of hard to believe.”

Nari Nari Nari: “Oh, Sakon-san, that indeed contains the ghost of the real Lord Yoritomo.”

“Oh, so you are the real one.”

Onitakemaru: “So when she tells you, you don’t even question it!?”

“But, I mean, it’s kind of hard to believe the real Yoritomo-sama would be talking with me like this.”

Onitakemaru: “I will admit I used to avoid speaking directly with the people below me.”

“That sounds more like it. …And what is with that Onitakemaru name? That’s nothing at all like Yoritomo.”

Onitakemaru: “That was my childhood name. And just so you know, Yoshinaka over there has his OS named after his childhood name of Komaoumaru in the same way.”

“But more importantly,” said Onitakemaru.

Onitakemaru: “I am glad you at least know who I am. That simplifies matters.”

“Eh? Oh, testament. I have heard of you.”

Onitakemaru: “I fear I will regret this, but how much do you know about me?”

“Oh, testament, um, you were the one who…established the Kamakura shogunate.”

Onitakemaru: “What else?”

“C-come to think of it, can’t you just say all this!? Why are you asking me!?”

Onitakemaru: “Just do it.”

“I-if you insist. Um…oh! That’s right! You were exiled! Yes, they kicked you out!”

Onitakemaru: “Kh. …H-ho ho? What else?”

Was there anything more? She remembered hearing about him in class, but…

“Oh, right! You were assassinated!”

Onitakemaru: “That was my sons Yoriie and Sanetomo! I only died from falling off my horse!”

“But,” he said.

Onitakemaru: “Well, I had a lengthy life as a long-lived, so to preserve a stable rule, we used multiple interpretations to have me inherit the names of Yoriie and Sanetomo as well. When it was time for me to die, we tried to take care of some of their history recreations at the same time, but Yoshitsune showed up to assassinate me for real.”

“Oh, but that’s incredible.”

Onitakemaru: “Heh? Incredible, am I?”

“Testament. You were three generations of shogun at once and you still managed to get assassinated.”

Onitakemaru: “Is that some kind of cruel joke!? And excuse me for letting my guard down for like a second!”

“You can admit when you made a mistake? That’s a sign of a good leader,” said Sakon. “But are you sure you’re the real one? You don’t seem like you could do all that.”

Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”

Nari Nari Nari: “Um, if you are wondering why we would go to the trouble of reviving Lord Yoritomo, it is related to a humiliation I undergo according to the Testament. My circumstances then are much like Lord Yoritomo’s during his time in exile, so I wanted to use his ghost for the weapon protecting me.”

Onitakemaru: “Heh. So you will learn the troubles I lived through, will you? I do not envy you that.”

“Oh, so people are only interested in the shameful part of your life?” asked Sakon.

Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”

“P-please don’t get so mad. Besides, I’m originally from Austria, so I don’t know much about Far Eastern history.”

Onitakemaru: “Austria?”

“Y-you’ve never heard of it? Did you live out in the countryside?”

Onitakemaru: “Why would I have heard of it, fool!? I woke up to find myself inside this mobile shell!”

She felt a little bad when he yelled that much over it. There was a part of him that made her think he might be a good person.

“You really don’t have to yell so much, you know?”

Onitakemaru: “Maybe if you were a little quicker on the uptake.”

“How am I supposed to react when my mobile shell suddenly starts claiming to be Yoritomo-sama?”

Onitakemaru: “And you expect a shogun to instantly adjust to becoming a mobile shell?”

“I know I couldn’t do it, but I’m not a shogun. Can’t you do better?”

Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”

Then she heard another voice.

It was Tomoe Gozen who was resting her Testament copy hammer on her shoulder.

“Just so you know, it is absurdly easy to get Yoritomo riled up.”

“Th-then this OS is the real deal!?”

“And one other thing.”

She tilted her head, so Tomoe Gozen pointed into the sky to the right.

That was south. What’s over there? she wondered while looking over.

“There are shells incoming.”

Before Tomoe Gozen even finished her sentence, an artillery shell crashed into Sakon’s chest and blew her away.


That was quite the hit.

The Protestant ships had done well.

Thanks to Mitsunari’s spell, they had to aim manually and by eye. The ships would be fixed in place with defense barriers and the like, but scoring a direct hit like that was still impressive.

It probably helped that the enemy had arrived at the bottom of the hill.

The top of the hill acted as cover against the Protestant fleet in the southwestern sky.

But the tall mobile shell had removed the Testament copy wall, creating an opening through which to target her.

That meant the Protestant ships only needed to endure the Catholic artillery fire and find the right timing to shoot, but…

“There you are.”

A great roar belatedly arrived in the sky.

It had put the eastern Catholic fleet on guard and prevented them from firing.

That ceaseless roar came from a giant form pushing all of the air this way from the east.

“You finally made it, Musashi!!”


Tomoe Gozen saw the Musashi approaching from behind the enemy fleet on a course to pass above them.

It was so large it almost appeared directly overhead already.

She saw the imperial fleet split to the north and south.

To be making this much noise, the Musashi had to have deactivated most of its buffering spells.

“That means they recognize this for the emergency it is. All the wind buffeting the fleet will alert the enemy to their presence.”

The Musashi did not do this often. The noise and wind produced when their buffering spells were down would wreak havoc on the local ecosystem and terrain. But they were doing it now.

“Is that because they understand we are the ones asking for help here? They certainly think highly of themselves nowadays. And…”

The imminent wind and noise would protect the Musashi forces from something.

“This prevents the enemy from attacking while you drop your fighters down, doesn’t it!?”


Matthias looked up at the approaching roar.

“Ohh.”

This was his second time seeing the Musashi. Well, he had seen it countless times in the distance, but this was his second time seeing it up close as an enemy.

The first time had been at Magdeburg.

But even then, it had not flown by overhead like this.

Back then, he had only been able to look up at it high in the sky, think how super cool it was, and then say goodbye.

But this was different.

It’s coming to us.

He leaned back to look straight up.

That gave him a view of the long bow piercing the sky.

It was enormous.

Three of his fleet’s 300m light warships fit below just one of the Musashi’s ships overhead.

It had a total of eight such ships, so it was like a multi-ship fleet packed in close together.

He was glad he had gotten to see this. Not many people managed to see it pass by directly overhead.

Then the sky grew wider, yet noisier and heavier.

His fleet had split to north and south to avoid the massive blast of wind.

But he could not focus only on what was happening overhead.

Here on the surface, they had to prepare for the Musashi fighters who would be dropping down.

The wind pressure slamming into them created an opening.

Mitsunari had predicted there would be too much wind for even the mobile shells to perform a charge.

The roar rumbled in their ears.

The Musashi fighters would be dropping down while the noise slammed into them, so the troops placed out ahead to strike back against the Musashi forces fell back some.

Matthias also moved east with his bodyguards.

“Now, then.”

What’s going to happen here? he wondered.

That was when a divine transmission arrived from Niwa who was headed north by traveling around Nördlingen’s east side.

“Lord Matthias! What are you doing over there!?”

“Huh? Musashi is arriving with their buffering spells deactivated, so I am temporarily withdrawing.”

“Huh?”

She sounded confused, but he was not sure why.

“Umm,” she said while choosing her words. “Hold on just a second, okay? …Mitsunari-kun!”

“Testament! Wh-what is it!? Did I make some kind of mistake? U-um, if I did…”

“Hey, calm down, okay? I just have a question.”

Wondering what this was all about, Matthias saw words appear on his lernen figur while he fell back with the others.

Niwa had asked her question.

“Mitsunari-kun? You can be in multiple places at once right now, can’t you? Could you come as far this way as your movable range allows and listen to the sounds here? Something is bothering me.”


Mitsunari was primarily on the front line. She had left the west to Sakon and Yoshinaka, so most of her had returned to her own unit to the east.

However, every unit’s front line was stopped due to the movement in the sky.

Sakon had taken a hit to the west, but…

She will be fine.

She was sure of that. She could also predict this battle would be an important one for Onitakemaru.

Mitsunari had decided it was best to let them do what they could and take what hits they would take. The potential she had seen in the two of them told her she could do that.

So for now…

“Everyone, prepare to move on my signal.”

She was curious about Niwa’s request.

She had to check on that.

And whatever Niwa had meant, there were only three options on the battlefield: stay put, advance, and withdraw.

Withdrawal was not an option at the moment. So…

“To be honest, this is a difficult decision, but my decisions are generally focused on efficiency. Please just interpret this as getting stuck with a bad commander.”

Everyone laughed at that.

“Are you kidding? This makes it way easier to be an underling!”

“Inefficient and humane decisions would only make the pain last longer!”

“Show us how crazy your efficiency can get and we’ll use our experience to get it done.”

“Testament,” she said. “Then wait just a moment.”

She multiplied herself.


After falling back to the east, Matthias all of a sudden noticed Mitsunari standing next to him.

The troops deep in the southwest forest, while keeping their distance from or approaching the split-up Bernard, saw Mitsunari standing behind a tree with a hand to her ear.

Unit 2 atop the hill saw her while they looked down at Unit 1 glaring at the enemy.

So did the ones watching the Musashi’s approach from the ships falling back to the eastern sky.

Even Niwa did while trying to move north of Nördlingen.

“Oh.”

“Hello, Niwa-sama.” Mitsunari bowed to her. “I have completed my observations from multiple locations. I fear my observations within Nördlingen itself were insufficient, but this is what I could confirm from atop the hill.”

She displayed an image of Nördlingen.

The city was surrounded by a circular wall. In the dim light of early morning, guards were keeping an eye on the outside and smoke was rising into the sky as bakeries began baking bread and other early morning work began.

“This is what it looks like with the data you requested.”

Red bars rose up within a radius extending from Nördlingen’s city wall to the east to south.

“This is the noise of the Musashi’s approach heard from the sky.”

The noise was being measured in real time, so the red bars on the lernen figur were fluctuating even now. But…

“I will get straight to the point. Each line has a unique maximum and minimum to its fluctuation and a unique sound. Everything seems in order to me, so what did you think was a problem?”


Niwa raised her right hand and hurried her entire body’s movements while slapping that hand against her forehead.

Huh?

Something isn’t right, she thought.

She sensed something odd in how the unbuffered noise of Musashi’s approach sounded.

If she had to describe it…

“This doesn’t seem like enough to me.”

But the screen showed that the noise was indeed pointing to the Musashi’s arrival.

The emperor’s personal fleet directly below the Musashi received a unique noise from the Musashi’s central ships and from the port and starboard ships surrounding them.

Mitsunari’s unit, which was headed to the front and starboard, naturally heard the sound of the 1st starboard ship slicing through the air.

And Niwa’s own unit to the rear starboard side heard the wind created by the outer hull and the very bottom of the starboard ships.

It was a splendid combination and variation of sound. But…

“Something seems so off about it. What is this?”

“What do you mean by off?” asked Mitsunari.

“Shaja,” replied Niwa. “It almost seems too perfect. Although I will admit this is my first time hearing the Musashi unbuffered.”

“Testament. Not even I have a library file on the current Musashi Mk. 2’s unbuffered state. But what do mean by ‘too perfect’? …Oh, um, sorry. It is just that perfect seems like a goal to strive for, so how could anything be ‘too perfect’?”

“Fair enough,” said Niwa before tilting her head. “But ‘too perfect’ is the only way I can describe what I am hearing. What I mean is…”

The noise grew louder as she spoke. The red lines indicating the Musashi’s noise all grew much taller.

The noise reaching their ears was gradually increasing in volume.

“Ohh.”

It was now too loud to hear quieter voices.

Mitsunari pointed to the west.

“Niwa-sama! If you are unsure what seems ‘off’ to you, I recommend maintaining your current state of caution against the Musashi’s atmospheric buffering. In fact…”

Several low sounds could be heard in the distance.

Gunfire was being exchanged by the troops holding position to the west and southwest of Nördlingen.

There was no time.

They had to set up a formation north of Nördlingen before the Musashi forces could drop down.

So Niwa nodded toward Mitsunari.

“Looks like we don’t have much choice. I will remain cautious and we can wait to figure this out until later. So-”

She was about to tell Mitsunari to wait in the west until the wind was gone and then resume advancing, but that was when she realized what it all meant.

“Oh, no.”


Mitsunari saw Niwa make a split-second decision.

She suddenly grabbed a rifle from a nearby soldier.

“I will be borrowing this.”

She fired a single bullet to the west.

Mitsunari heard the gunshot, but…

That will never reach anyone in the west.

The height of the city wall was part of the problem, but they could not see anyone over there. It would be one thing if she were trying to shoot their own soldiers on the southwestern hill or the ones fighting the Swarm Dragon in the forest, but hitting the enemy was another thing.

However, Niwa looked up and then spoke to everyone else here.

“Listen.”

She fired another shot into the roar approaching from the sky.

The bullet flew toward Nördlingen’s wall. That solid stone wall reflected the sunlight that was gradually filling the sky.

It hit the wall and the sound echoed back.

When Niwa nodded and turned back toward the others, her unit began to raise their hands.

“I-I figured it out!” shouted a female student with a wind instrument hanging from her neck. “The noise coming from the sky isn’t echoing off the distant terrain!”


Chapter 74: Reducer of Attacks[edit]

Horizon7C 0595.jpg

My predictions and decisions are top notch

But I have much to learn

When it comes to creativity

Point Allocation (Generally Excellent)


That’s exactly it, thought Niwa.

It was the environmental changes to the sound that had seemed off to her.

“The sounds I hear coming from the Musashi are echoing off of the ground, the nearby trees, and the slope. But…”

She fired on the wall again.

In a mere two seconds, the gunshot echo reached them. However…

“We should be hearing a similar echo from the Musashi’s sounds, but we are not.”

Now, then, she thought while taking a second look at the image of Nördlingen and the surrounding area that Mitsunari was holding up.

I see.

Once she knew what to look for, the real-time image was enough to find the answer.

“Listen. The lights of early-morning workers are coming on at Nördlingen’s wall and they are cautiously viewing things outside. But most of the lights are still off and those cautious viewers aren’t doing much of anything even after seeing the Musashi approaching. Which means…”

Which means…

“The Musashi has their buffering spells on. They’re actually using those, so their approach is not a threat to anyone but us.”

“Wh-what do you mean!? Just listen to all that noise.”

The flustered general commander was kind of adorable.

But Niwa had figured one thing out.

“The Musashi has artificially manufactured a non-buffered sound and is sending that to us. For example…”

She opened a telescope spell.

The Musashi already had several layers of defense barriers opened as it approached, but…

There we go.

She could see some unlit spell sign frames in between those.

She could not tell what they did, but they were clearly aimed toward the Catholic forces.

“I bet those are acoustic spells. That’s what’s sending us all this noise.”

The purpose of that was clear enough when looking at Mitsunari’s image.

“Without their buffering spells, the Musashi greatly influences the atmosphere around it. That prevents us from moving much and forces our fleet to withdraw and take anti-turbulence actions. But if they negatively affected Nördlingen by removing their buffering spells, that would count as their mistake and they would have a hard time dropping off their fighters thanks to the wild air currents. So…”

So…

“If they pretend to not use their buffering spells, they get the best of both worlds. We withdraw in a panic, but they aren’t affected by the air currents and can drop off their fighters with ease.”

Niwa raised her eyebrows and looked up at the Musashi.

“The Battle of Fujigawa. During the Genpei War, the Taira clan panicked and fled when a group of waterfowl took flight in the middle of the night. Musashi is doing the same thing here.”

“You mean…?”

“Shaja.” Niwa nodded. “We can’t stay here. We have to resume moving immediately!”


“They…noticed!”

On the Musashino’s bridge, Suzu noticed the enemy’s response. It came from Niwa’s unit to the east of Nördlingen. She was not sure why, but that unit had a lot of people carrying musical instruments.

She had noticed when one of them suddenly fired a gun on Nördlingen’s wall.

Are they…noticing!?

Her ears had clearly heard the gunshot’s echo not lining up with the Musashi’s dummy non-buffered noise. The enemy must have been checking on that.

But that came as a surprise to Suzu.

“They can… tell.”

That had to be Niwa Nagahide. She was #2 of P.A. Oda’s Five Great Peaks and she had fought them at Novgorod. She had used a song spell based on her own singing to control eastern Novgorod with lightning.

And now she had detected the oddity in a sound being played across a wide area outside.

When she had brought her unit to a stop, Suzu had sensed danger and turned up the volume of the dummy approach noise.

But Niwa had noticed the echo issue regardless.

Wow, thought Suzu. Niwa had not been using a listening spell, device, or any other kind of assistance. And she had noticed it while running.

Could I have…done that?

Just as she was wondering that…

“Nhh.”

For some reason, she yawned.

“Suzu-sama? Was your sleeping spell insufficient?”

“Eh? No, it’s not that. It’s just morning is all.”

I bet the others feel this way too, she thought while asking “Musashino” to prepare something to wake them up.

And she spoke to the others.

Bell: “The jig is…up!”


Asama was in charge of the divine transmission, so she saw Suzu’s words from atop a transport ship preparing to descend. And…

“Listen up, everyone. She didn’t say who, but Suzu-san has clearly caught someone who was up to no good. Please raise your hand if it was you.”

Everyone exchanged a glance and Noriki spoke up with a smile.

“Come on, everyone. You should really come clean. It wasn’t me, to be clear.”

“N-Noriki-dono! You should not be so comfortable about accusing others while defending yourself!”

The arms were by Toori’s feet, looking up at him and cracking their knuckles.

But Kimi smiled a little.

“Why not just ask Suzu who it was?”

“Now that you mention it.”

“That’s right,” said Adele with spear in hand before opening a sign frame.

Flat Vassal: “Suzu-saaan? Who is it that was troubling you?”


“Eh?” said Suzu while freezing up on the bridge.

“S-someone was…troubling…me?”

The bridge automatons all froze as well.

“I have determined someone out there has some nerve. Over,” said the helmsman.

“I have determined someone failed to consider the consequences. Over,” said the #2 observer while opening a sign frame.

“I am ready to begin posting on the divine network. Over.”

“I am ready to spread information and relay it to the other countries. Over.”

Eh? Eh? thought Suzu while “Musashino placed her hands on Suzu’s shoulders from behind.

“Now, Suzu-sama, this is a good opportunity for you. Feel free to let out all of your pent-up stress. Over.”

Ehhh? she thought while deciding to rephrase her warning.

Bell: “U-um, they have, u-um, noticed? Noticed what…we are doing? Do you know…what I mean?”


Naruze viewed her Magie Figur with blood dripping from her nose.

“Suzu earns such high points in cuteness that whoever was troubling her deserves hell and then some.”

“Ga-chan, I think your lack of sleep is messing with your blood pressure, so how about you get some rest?”

“Anyway,” said Mitotsudaira quietly. “Listen up, everyone. We need to see if any real harm has been done to Suzu. Otherwise we cannot hold a trial. So…”

The wolf opened a sign frame.

Silver Wolf: “Suzu, have you been experiencing any stress or changes to your health?”

Bell: “Eh?”

“Has she not?” everyone wondered with an exchanged glance. And….

Bell: “I am a little…s-sleepy.”

Naruze performatively gasped.

“That’s evidence of a mental burden. I’ve read as much online and in manga, so it must be true.”

“I might have believed you if not for that last part!”

Then Mary spoke up while awkwardly operating an unfamiliar Shinto-style sign frame.

“What is this? The thread entitled ‘Support – Suzu-sama is Cute and Deserves a Nap – Support’ and the one entitled ‘Hunt Them Down – Seeking Execution Ideas – Criminal’ are gaining posts at the exact same speed.”

“That is probably the usual culprits,” replied Tenzou.

Bell: “Um, everyone?”

Just as everyone tilted their heads, Suzu spoke to them.

Bell: “This is your stop.”

Their altitude dropped all at once.

Instead of being sent down, their transport ship simply fell north of Nördlingen.


Whoa!

Tadaoki reflexively dropped his hips on the transport ship.

Their falling speed was fast and it had felt like he was floating upwards. But…

“Huh?”

Some of the rigging on the deck around him was floating upwards, yet his feet remained firmly on the deck and he did not feel like his organs were lifting up or the blood was rushing to his head.

Has the fall not really started yet?

Just as he wondered that, Musashi’s Vice President walked over with their Vice Chancellor.

“Oh, Nagaoka. You haven’t been blown away yet? Good, just make sure you don’t lift both feet from the floor at once.”

“Is this a divine protection?”

“It’s gravitational control…I think.”

The Vice President apparently was not sure either, but the system was so well made that you did not have to understand how it worked.

Meanwhile, the Asama Shrine Representative walked over.

“Um, Nagaoka boy? This could hurt your ears, so I will be applying a hearing defense divine protection. I will apply it to everyone else as well.”

“I generally allow all sounds to reach me, so I do not need it,” said the Vice Chancellor.

I see, he thought while thinking there was something wrong with the idiot who was floating in the air after removing his divine protection and the Loup-Garou who was anchoring him by wrapping a chain around his hips.

Is this how they do things on the Musashi?

His defection process was complete, but he did not look forward to the idea of seeing these people around all the time.

He had recently learned that he preferred the peace and quiet. Although he did need some friends or else he would feel bored.

“Here, foolish brother! I’ll throw you the right arm! There! And the left one! Now have them spin! Spin all around you! Like a floating scene in romantic kabuki!”

He was not entirely sure that deserved the scattered applause a few of them gave it. Also…

“So what is it, Vice President? Why are you looking at me?”

“Can you say ‘judge’ for me, Nagaoka?”

“Judge.”

“Judge, remember that, okay? Use ‘testament’ on the battlefield, and you might get hit with a political riposte.”

He felt something heavy weighing on the top of his stomach.

Th-this could be bad.

He used that as a habitual response, so he was afraid he would carelessly use it at some point.

And he also reminded himself that this was the entrance to the battlefield. Also…

“Nagaoka, I have an order for you already.”

“What is it?”

He would do whatever the strategy demanded of him, so he nodded and waited for the Vice President’s response.

“Be our luggage.”


“Luggage?” parroted Tadaoki with a tilt of his head just before something attached to the back of his neck and hips.

The Musashi Vice Chancellor had circled behind him at some point and she was attaching a harness to the back of his hard point parts.

“Good.”

All of a sudden, she lifted him up onto her back.

“Whoa, wh-what are you doing!?”

“Do not struggle.”

The Vice President bent her back and then straightened up again. And…

Whoa.

Her back pushed on his with a strength that felt like flexible stone.

He had been expecting an ordinary human body, so this caught him by surprise and he could not resist, like her strength was pouring into him.

He slightly curled his back and threw his arms and legs a bit forward. He remembered taking this pose when being lifted by a harness during the training for being rescued from an elevated location.

It was kind of a lame pose, but…

How is she so strong?

He could feel the heat of a human body reaching his back, but it had a powerful core. She was supporting his weight too, yet that did not slow her down at all as she moved perfectly normally.

His weight must not have been any hindrance to her.

However, his body did have a shape and that could still get in the way.

“Hm, this position should do it.”

His position had shifted somewhat. He had slipped too far down. That would not hinder her while walking, but while running, the movement of her hips would bounce his back upwards.

That was why she adjusted his position so he was seated above her hips.

He assumed he was sitting on her hip hard point parts, but he was not.

He was on her butt. And with the harness, he was more straddling it than anything.

It’s huge.

And it was unbelievably tight. He realized that her hip hard point parts also controlled her skirt and divine protections. And she could not have them in a location where they would get in the way of her sitting down. Also…

“Mh?”

She swung her body a bit and suddenly stuck her hand in between their backs.

“This is only in the way with your butt pinning it down.”

She removed her tail skirt.

She had him sitting on her butt, so without that skirt woven with armor fibers, he could detect the two distinct round shapes composing it.

This is too much!

He felt intense embarrassment.


Mar-Ga: “Margot, I can’t seem to stop this nosebleed of the heart. It just keeps pouring out. Yes.”

Gold Mar: “Ohh. That’s called bloodletting, Ga-chan. But is this actually the first time someone has thought of Nida-yan as a woman?”

Flat Vassal: “Wasn’t there that weird guy from Sanada?”

Asama: “I think he was more focused on the history recreation than anything, so we can’t quite say how he viewed Futayo. Also, Narumi-san already dealt with him at Odawara and I have set things up so he will be divinely punished if he tries to board the Musashi again.”

Unturning: “He seemed like he would be decently strong if he started taking things seriously.”

Uqui: “Yes, you had to match your heel drop to his movements, didn’t you? That would not have been necessary if he did not have some decent speed himself.”

Flat Vassal: “Is that how it works?”

Laborer: “Judge. The more skilled the opponent, the more you have to match your counterattacks to them. Because you don’t want to punch right through someone if they aren’t strong enough.”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. At any rate, this should be a bit of a trial for Nagabuto.”

Musashino: “Everyone, the Musashi will soon resume moving to assist in your descent. Prepare yourselves. Over.”


Tomoe Gozen saw the Musashi circle through the sky.

They began drifting while braking. And…

“The sky is going to move.”

She realized Yoshinaka was looking up into the sky instead of just staring at her like before.

It was early morning and some clouds were appearing in that dark sky that was gaining a hint of yellow. Even with the buffering spells, the atmosphere would still move outside of their range. And this rotation of the Musashi’s took a certain form.

“They have angled their bows downward. They’re entering a circular drift centered on the long bows of their 1st port and starboard ships!”


Suzu held the full model of the Musashi.

She was not going as far as tilting the Musashi up on end this time, but she had tilted the stern quite a bit upwards.

The virtual ocean was opened on the sterns of all the ships to give them buoyancy. All eight ships were connected by towing belts and the Musashi rotated around the downward-pointing port and starboard bows.

The drift was angled diagonally instead of horizontally, so it spun the Musashi like a top.

The great scale meant they were not going to get many rotations in. She guessed 7. The gap between the two bows was 400m, so even with the rotations, it would take about 3km of movement to negate their acceleration from Kantou.

The movement was fairly slow, but the influence on the sky was like a largescale tornado.

This was a tornado with 8km of solid mass.

Their thrusters were still active to pull this off.

Their gravitational acceleration pushed the Musashi down toward the ground its bows were pointed at.

But their previous inertia pulled them to the west and tried to make them jump up.

That left just one thing to do. She spun the Musashi and pinned the westward inertia with their downward acceleration.

That will reduce our speed!

Their gravitational acceleration was powerful, so the upwards pull on their stern was needed as a counterbalance to ensure they did not crash down to the ground.

The rotation, the acceleration, the upwards pull, and their original inertia.

Suzu kept it all in balance while rotating the Musashi.

The Musashi’s model was almost as tall as she was and she made adjustments to it from the outside while rotating it.

“It almost looks like the two of you are dancing, Suzu-sama. Over.”

“Um, uh, then is this…inappropriate?”

“Not at all. We never predicted our ships would have a chance to dance with you as our acting captain. I will pass the records of this around to all the others. Over.”

Are you sure that’s okay? she wondered.

But the Musashi did indeed dance. And she made an announcement while suppressing a yawn.

“Time to…descend!”


The rotating Musashi created a multilayered rotating cloud south of Nördlingen.

Even the chilly early morning air was whipped up by the giant ship’s pressure, creating a largescale cloud dome.

In the center, the transport ships descended along the center axis of the Musashi’s rotation.

The three ships matched the Musashi’s horizontal movement but not its rotation.

Despite all the movement around them, their central area was entirely windless.

It was the same as the eye of a hurricane.

The Musashi fighters on the transport ships viewed the surface of the rotating Musashi and the multilayered cloud that rotated shortly thereafter.

And beyond all that motion, they could see their destination of Nördlingen.

Toori opened his mouth while still floating in the air, using a Silver Chain as an anchor. He spoke to Mitotsudaira and Asama, the former of whom was holding the chain.

“They’re really going at it around us, aren’t they?”

Hey.

“Nate, you go help out Tomoe Gozen over there. Nagabuto will have Futayo and the others with him. I’ll follow after, so we can meet up later.”

“Judge! Once I settle things over there, I will regroup with you, my king.”

“In that case.” Narumi raised her hand. “I will head there too. Fighting those heavily-equipped mobile shells should be similar to fighting demons.”

“Unfortunately, I am unable to assist when our opponents are Catholic,” added Urquiaga.

“Then I would love it if you picked me up on the way back. It is possible my prosthetic legs will get blown off.”

“Okay,” said the two Technohexen while placing a snack from their supplies in each other’s mouth. “We will clear a path through any enemy deployed around the Nagaoka estate. Urquiaga, could you carry Noriki and the others in once that’s done?”

“What about Tenzou and Mary?”

“Oh, we are part of the north-south group. In other words, I will be enjoying an early-morning Nördlingen date with Mary-dono.”

Everyone glared at the ninja for making Mary so nervous.

Then Tadaoki spoke up from Futayo’s back.

“You really intend on doing this, don’t you?”

“Yeah, we really hope we can get you in to meet your wife. And politically…Seijun, you found something good there, right?”

“Hexagone Française will owe us one, we can get a solid blow in on Hashiba before summer break, and rescuing Lady Nagaoka will provide us a connection to not just Sweden but Akechi Mitsuhide as well.

“How could we not go to war with so much to gain? Yes, we are only going to war as a political tool here. We have real political reasons for it and we were asked to do it, so it’s not our fault really. If we did not do this, Lady Nagaoka would lose her life, so we have no choice but to do this.”

“Your excuses are longer than the actual reasons!!” everyone replied just before the enemy reacted.

It came in the form of artillery fire.

“The enemy has realized the lack of buffering spells was faked and is taking action. Over.”

The warning from “Musashino” was immediately followed by fiery blossoms in the air around the spinning Musashi.

Explosive booms surrounded them and explosive flames were swallowed up by the multilayered rotation. The ether light was scattering because the shells were being blocked by defense barriers.

However, the enemy ships had begun their approach.

“Hey, ‘Musashino’, what’re we gonna do?” asked the idiot.

“Judge. For now, we will do this the ordinary way. Over.”

“Ordinary?” asked Adele with a tilt of her head.

Meanwhile, the approaching enemy ships all fired on the Musashi at once.


Matthias watched everything play out.

He was to the east, at a position a bit lower than the previous hilltop. The upwards slope in front of him meant the winds produced around the Musashi passed by overhead.

Their fleet was approaching the Musashi from the east.

He generally left fleet movements in other people’s hands. He would not know how to command a fleet if he tried and, as long as his own ship was kept in a safe position, he figured they could handle it.

Being a puppet was nice and easy.

The Musashi was rotating like a maelstrom and his job was to sit here watching their fleet fire on it.

He was curious about the transport ships descending past the rotating Musashi.

Everyone was trying to fire on them, but…

“How is it going?” he asked via lernen figur.

“Shit! That huge-ass thing’s defense barriers are too damn tough and we can’t get through! …Oh! Oh, no! Emperor! I let my thoughts slip out there! I’m so embarrassed!”

He did not see what was wrong with speaking your mind, but he had forgotten to ask if that was a guy or a girl.

But based on that reaction, he could see why all of the ships were firing.

The Musashi had a massive number of defense barriers open around it.

At Magdeburg, they had been fighting with a large gap in altitude between them.

The Catholics had been below and the Musashi had been above.

Thanks to that, most of their shells had lost speed and the Musashi had not needed to use too many defense barriers to protect themselves.

But now the Musashi was dead ahead, so it had barriers up in many layers and it was rotating. Also…

“Ohh.”

The Musashi began splitting apart.

It must have already eliminated most of its inertia. The eight individual ships descended to form what would look like a cross when viewed from above and eliminated the gaps that left the transport ships exposed.

That was a lot like increasing the number of oars working at the air.

Wind formed past the Musashi’s buffering spells and the number of cloud layers grew.

A moment later, Mitsunari looked up in realization nearby.

“What is it, Mitsunari-kun!? Is there anything you want me to do!?”

“Not particularly! But, um, uh,” shouted Mitsunari. “All ships, withdraw from the Musashi!”

Just as her voice was sent out via divine transmission, the sky exploded.


“Musashino” had triggered a certain natural phenomenon.

The vertical drift to slow the Musashi had lost its momentum and come to an end.

The buffering spells had worked very well.

The clouds flowing outside were arriving within range of the buffering spells and the wind was within range of their effects. An automaton always wanted to make a buffering spell as thin as possible. That curtain was used to avoid being a nuisance to others, so it was best made thin and strong. Pulling that off showed how excellent they were.

But this one had to be a big one.

They had needed to restrain the noise, wind, and inertia produced by the Musashi’s rapid acceleration.

That had necessitated a thicker buffering spell curtain.

Clouds had formed within that thickness, wind had whipped up, and lightning had flashed in some of it.

But “Musashino” reached a certain conclusion.

“The control sequence is complete. We have successfully controlled the nuisance we would otherwise have caused the surrounding area. Our buffering spells were pushed to their limits, but I estimate we have successfully avoided causing any damage to or noise in Nördlingen or the surrounding natural surface environment. Thus…”

Thus…

“The range of the buffering spells will now be expanded to reduce their effects. They will be naturally eliminated through dispersal. Over.”

The Musashi took control of the whirlwind it had created and then calmed it all at once.

The field of rotating pressure was expanded outwards.

“Musashino” opened a sign frame while Suzu gulped next to her.

The announcement she made was directed outwards rather than kept within the ship.

“Good morning. I have a message for everyone within a 10km radius of the Musashi. We have rapidly approached and come to a stop at Nördlingen in order to fulfill a mission assigned to us. We are currently eliminating the buffering spell that restricts the effects of our acceleration and inertia on the atmosphere, but in order to achieve our mission ASAP, this will be done by expanding the spells so their effects will be safely scattered.”

She took a breath.

“This will affect a radius of 10km within an altitude range between 180m and 4km, not counting the 2km space in the center. This will produce powerful winds, so entering that range will be dangerous.”

“Musashino” sounded an alarm in the sky while the Musashi’s ships rotated.

The alarm was joined by flashing red warning lights. This was not a hostile act. It was a public act of buffering meant to prevent the Musashi from wreaking havoc on the surrounding airspace.

“Also,” continued “Musashino”. “We do not yet consider ourselves on scene for our mission, nor have we announced as such. The aerial warships in this area have fired on us with apparent hostile intent, but we have concluded that was out of carelessness regarding our arrival without warning. And now…”

She raised her right hand and lowered it.

“You have been warned. Over.”


Mitsunari had multiple instances of herself spread out around Nördlingen and she sent herself to as many of the ships closest to the Musashi as she could.

She shifted to the warships using the divine network. She used her authority as supreme commander to take complete control of the ships.

Hurry!

Her senses as a program saw what was happening.

The buffering spell field could be seen as the burden the Musashi was carrying and it was now pushing out toward them as a wall of violent pressure.

That field was formed from managed ether.

When the field was expanded, calculations were necessary regarding the internal components and the divine protections, but if that was handled, it could be expanded in an instant.

Whether or not Mitsunari could respond to this came down to her competing with the processing power of the Musashi automatons.

She had 200 of herself, but how many did they have?

She did not know.

So she chose a certain method. She placed 100 of herself on the ships closest to the Musashi and had them observe things within the buffering spell field.

The timing only allowed her an instant of perfect observation.

What kind of effects would hit her there?

The 100 made their observations and the statistical data was extracted. And while she received that data being updated in real-time, the other 100 of herself ran to the ships behind that.

“Excuse me!”

She moved from bridge to bridge, instantly taking control of the ship and making the necessary course adjustments while she passed through that bridge.

100 instances of herself ran through each of the ships’ bridges.

On the way, a great roar arrived.

That was fast!

She did not have time to look back as a third of the closest ships was swallowed up.

And as she continued to run, another third was swallowed up.

“Kh!”

The 100 of her closest to the Musashi could not endure the massive amount of observation data and were destroyed. She felt that destruction more as a chill than as pain and she continued on toward the last row of ships.

“–––––”

Violent winds swallowed up the ships.


Niwa saw the sky split open overhead.

Her unit had already arrived on the northeastern edge of Nördlingen.

They had to look almost straight up to see the aerial destruction from there.

“My, my.”

There was no sound or wind. The ships were taken within the expanded field of the buffering spells. The violent shaking was contained within that spell field, so it was like a silent show for Niwa’s unit.

But the sky was torn apart while the lightning was shredded.

Multilayered dark clouds rotated and spread out.

The Catholic ships were taken within that and pummeled by the winds.

Lightning scattered.

The rapidly-rotating whirlwind of clouds spread out in all directions up above. The spreading of the clouds and lightning caused everything to scatter.

Could you achieve something similar by crushing a glass full of water from above?

The Musashi looked like a temple tower in the center and it slowly rotated with its bows pointed downwards.

The 8 white and black ships slowly twirled and accepted the winds they had created.

Wind appeared as the buffering spell curtain spread outwards and disappeared.

Multilayered clouds spread throughout the sky south of Nördlingen and those struck the other ships with explosive pressure. And…

“Here comes the wind!”

The cooking smoke rising from Nördlingen was swept their way.

The taller roofs groaned and the straw forming them scattered into the sky.

The wind crossed the city wall and arrived at Niwa’s unit.

“…!”

It was a solid wall of air.

The great mass of the Musashi had pushed this great quantity of air and it was finally able to spread out now that the buffering was gone.

This taught Niwa why landport facilities were so necessary.

From that elevation, simply landing creates so much wind pressure.

Lightning continued to flash in the sky, but the Musashi stood at the center of it all.

Those 8 ships had corrected their positions. Instead of standing on end, they were only slightly slanted and the port, center, and starboard ships were all arranged as normal.

The first port and starboard ships had their bows extending over the south end of Nördlingen.

The other ships were lined up behind them.

Almost none of the M.H.R.R. ships remained near it anymore, but they had not been sunk by the impacts.

“Great job,” said Niwa while swinging her right hand forward to order her troops onward.

She could see some ships gathered around the east side of Nördlingen.

Those were the M.H.R.R. ships that had moved around 10km from their previous position up in the sky.

The ones close to the Musashi had avoided the violent pressure and been swept all the way there.

A few of them had collided or capsized and were slowly descending, but most remained.

“They faced the wind as much as possible and rode it. You did well reading the orientation of the pressure, Mitsunari-kun. However…”

Niwa turned to view an explosion of light from the forest on the hill southwest of Nördlingen.

“Celestial Dragon Bernard is using this opening to make his move, isn’t he!?”


M.H.R.R.’s first assault unit had cornered the dragon in the forest.

He might be a Celestial Dragon, but he had been hit by Mitsunari’s multiple simultaneous attacks and by Wakisaka’s cannon blast during the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. He was worn down and his body had yet to fully recover.

This was their chance.

The first unit did not push themselves too hard. They fired on him to drive him into the forest on the west.

Not even the Swarm Dragon could escape unharmed when pummeled by concentrated fire from a distance.

Meanwhile, Bernard used a certain strategy.

He spread himself apart and returned fire from within the forest.

But it was clear who had the upper hand.

This was M.H.R.R territory. Even the Hashiba forces were familiar with most of the M.H.R.R. terrain. They more or less had the home field advantage.

Meanwhile, Bernard was a wyvern-type dragon. Even if he had split up into smaller dragons, the trees still obstructed the movements of his wings.

And with that knowledge of who had the upper hand, they had both chosen the same tactics.

They gathered a few of their fighters to concentrate fire on a single one of the enemy.

The M.H.R.R. formed groups of three. Two would charge in while the third provided firing support.

One of the chargers was a defender and the other an attacker, but they would rotate jobs to produce the best results.

Meanwhile, Bernard formed groups of two. Both of those two would fire dragon cannons back at the attacker within the enemy chargers.

Bernard was at a disadvantage

Dragons – particularly Celestial Dragons – tended not to choose defense as a tactic. They viewed combat as honor, so they would destroy the enemy with a powerful attack in lieu of defending.

He knew he was at a disadvantage, but attempting clever tactics would lose the trust of the dragons who served him. And he was not about to rely on something like that anyway.

He attacked.

The simultaneous blasts from pairs of dragons in his swarm shot out to roast the enemy attackers.

But M.H.R.R. immediately raised their defenses.

These were well-trained troops.

They increased the density of their charge within each individual group.

The defender who had been acting as a decoy now moved out in front of the attacker and fully covered for them.

The defender might fall to the dragon cannon, but the attacker would charge out from behind and move past it.

That guaranteed M.H.R.R. results.

They would take damage, but only to the defenders. They would lose one of their own, but they were guaranteed to defeat one of the enemy.

M.H.R.R’s first unit had the greater numbers.

Bernard’s numbers depended on the size of the dragons he split into, but he currently had a maximum of 500.

Meanwhile, M.H.R.R. had 1000. If they were prepared to take damage, they could defeat the Celestial Dragon with ease.

This was a dangerous situation for the dragon, but Bernard felt only one emotion.

He smiled at the human resistance.


Fascinating, thought Bernard.

Mere humans could never be powerful enough to delight a Celestial Dragon, so this was not joy he was feeling.

He was acknowledging their efforts, and…

“Why are you pretending to be powerful?”

Accepting damage was the logic of the powerful.

Humans were creatures who feared each other and could not even head outside at night, so it was extremely insolent of them to readily sacrifice their allies like this.

But, thought Bernard. If these humans would mimic the powerful, perhaps I should show them what the truly powerful can do.

That was where he felt joy.

He rejoiced at his own ability to come up with that idea.

If the enemy had cornered him this far, he had to accept some damage to himself.

The enemy had given him a reason not to half-ass this.

As soon as he made up his mind, he took action.

He had paired up his composite dragons, but now he had one of each pair charge in at the enemies charging their way.

It did not matter if the enemy had their defenders out front. The one dragon would crash into them and be lost and the other dragon would fire a dragon cannon at the exposed attacker.

He did not need to worry about the one providing firing support from a distance. He would start by focusing on those approaching him with a weapon in hand.

This was a battle of attrition.

“A splendid tactic.”

In a battle of attrition, muscular strength, speed, intelligence, and spells were all meaningless.

Both sides would strike at each other and wear each other down until the larger and stronger life form emerged victorious.

Those were truly praiseworthy combat rules for a dragon.

Those poor things.

Those poor humans.

They could never defeat a dragon under those rules.

But if the humans were so certain they were powerful and wished to attempt it, so be it.

Those poor things.

Previously, both he and the enemy had been losing one per exchange.

But now, the enemy would be losing two to his one.

The battle would continue to be fought at that rate here.

With 1000 of them and 500 of him, this was bound to be quite the battle of attrition.

However, he thought. I can reform my groups faster than you can.

Those poor things.

He was forming pairs while the humans were forming trios. It would not be easy for the one remaining human to gather with two others.

Those poor things.

Meanwhile, all of the dragons here were “him”. He knew where he was and he only had to find one other.

With that faster turnaround, the 500 person difference was meaningless.

Of course, the forest was not the best location for him, but…

“Now, then,” he said while firing his dragon cannons. “Let us wear each other down and see who is revealed to be more powerful, humans!”


Chapter 75: Approacher of a Place of Reminiscence[edit]

Horizon7C 0629.jpg

Now, then

It is

About time

To end this

Point Allocation (Sleeping In)


Mitsunari sighed within the forest on the east side of the hill.

This is dangerous.

The number of dragon cannons she could hear from the east seemed to be growing.

In fact, she was certain the first unit dealing with Bernard to north was being worn down.

“I must send them instructions and a solution. Musashi has moved between us, so they also need to know when to withdraw.”

She took in a deep breath.

As a program, the concept of physical exhaustion did not apply to her. However…

The staleness of data and the damage I take does affect me.

She could see in the eastern sky that the fleet had survived.

She had not done all that much. She had only told the ships how to control themselves effectively and given them the course needed to overcome the initial stage of the explosive force coming from the Musashi.

The rest was in the hands of the ships’ pilots.

Out of 32 ships, 2 had been destroyed, 7 badly damaged, and almost all minorly damaged, but that had been unavoidable with the giant air pockets that kept hitting them. But at the same time…

“I am only making excuses regarding my own lack of foresight.”

She fell down to one knee.

The burden was catching up to her.

One hundred of her had gathered the data of the blast and another hundred had performed the calculations for the ships. The results of those calculations were no longer needed. Only the resultant data remained, so if she did not erase that from her memories, she would be carrying around needless information that would obstruct her future calculations.

She began cleaning up her memories.

She completed the process.

“Testament.”

The excess data weighing down her mind was now gone.

She wondered if she should set that garbage collection process to run automatically, but she decided against it. She was afraid she would find herself unable to respond to a situation if she was not carefully selecting which excess data to eliminate and which to hold onto. It would be perfect if she could set it up to have a check run and have the excess data erased if it matched certain conditions, but she generally did everything on her own. Creating multiple instances of herself and performing high-level data processing greatly wore through the ether forming her, so performing those conditional checks would still wear her down in the long run.

In that case, she needed to set up some external memory space.

“No, now is not the time to think about that.”

I am such a poorly-made program.

A human would probably sigh right now, so she did the same.

Multiplying herself just now had taken a lot out of her. She had lost everything she had recovered. However…

“That is fine.”

No one could see her here in the forest.

She had to keep up appearances as supreme commander, so she could not let anyone see her fall to a knee like this.

Recalling what she had seen the other Ten Spears do at times, she slapped herself on the cheeks.

“–––––”

More than a stimulus to her sense of pain, she detected instantaneous pressure to her cheeks.

She did not understand why humans would do this, but…

Okay.

She could tell the sensory control functions were working in her cheeks.

That told her that she was functioning properly. So…

“Everyone, please respond to the enemy movement,” she said while deciding to shift position to somewhere near Matthias. “The Musashi and its transport ships are descending. They hope to cut across Nördlingen. I will now calculate out how each combat region should respond, so please swiftly obey the instructions you are provided.”


Tomoe Gozen saw an explosion of light atop the hill to southwest.

Was that Bernard’s dragon cannon?

She was impressed that the Celestial Dragon had made his decision faster than they could move. He was clearly wearing himself down in order to resist, but…

That Swarm Dragon just has to eat to recover.

Since humanity would simply die when they died, it could seem like Celestial Dragons were cheating.

Nevertheless, Tomoe Gozen focused on the sudden enemy movement ahead of her.

The enemy assault unit had been waiting cautiously at the bottom of the hill, but now it was slowly moving forward.

But while they had their weapons at the ready, those weapons were not pointed toward Tomoe Gozen’s unit.

“They’re holding them diagonally?”

That was the same thing her unit had done earlier.

She of course knew why they were doing this.

The enemy had already shifted tactics. They now intended to wear down her unit while predicting when to withdraw.

After all, the Musashi was descending toward the southern hill. Once the Musashi sent out its warriors as reinforcements, the M.H.R.R. assault unit pursuing her unit and Bernard would be attacked from behind.

But if they tried to withdraw, they could not move east since the Musashi was setting up their position to the south.

Their only option was to move north while ensuring they could fall back west at any time.

“Testament. The enemy must intend to head toward the Nagaoka estate and gather together from east and west.”

Her unit had to hurry there as well.

The route from north of Nördlingen to the Nagaoka estate was made up of fields. Even if the Musashi forces cut across Nördlingen, their invasion would be stopped if the enemy held the north end of the city.

Her unit had to reach north Nördlingen first and clear a path for Musashi.

I more or less see how this will go now.

“Everyone! Your true battleground will be the northern outskirts of Nördlingen where the Nagaoka estate lies! Hurry!”

Just as she ordered everyone on ahead, she swung her head to the right.

A moment later, a beam of light shot straight past the side of her head.


Oh?

Tomoe Gozen looked dead ahead after performing that split-second dodge.

She had been cautiously watching Yoshinaka while he did the same to her, but he had finally made his move.

She, meanwhile, swayed her body away from the line of midair explosions and escaped to the right.

“You really are a pain in the rear.”

What should she do about him?

A surprise reunion after 500 years isn’t exactly fun, she thought with a bitter smile. She also pulled another hammer from the Testament copy stocker on her back.

She used a swing of her left arm to extend the collapsible hammer.

Then she turned her body toward Yoshinaka.

She had already thrown herself forward and raised her right hammer.

“What the hell are you doing here revived and firing your mouth beams!? Huh!? Did you have some kind of regret!? Did you!?”

He answered her shout by opening his mouth. Bluish-white ether light shined deep in his skeletal throat and a roar burst forth.

“If you’re looking for a fight with your wife after 500 years, then so be it!”

The beam pierced the air.


“Oh? Things are looking exciting in Tomoe Gozen’s end of things again.”

Multiple explosions echoed off the city walls from the west of Nördlingen.

Christina moved inside the house, placed a hand on the doorway, and stood up on her toes. She could glimpse the dimly-lit battle beyond the estate’s wall.

Things had grown a lot brighter, but the defense barriers and flying beams of light were still a lot brighter.

That certainly is impressive. Yes.

What time period are those mouth beams from?

Curious, she sent a divine transmission.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Tomoe Gozen? The story you told me and the Genpei documents I read in Kyoto mentioned someone who fired mouth beams. Is that a popular technique, by any chance?”

Lady AM: “That’s the guy from my story!”

Self-Destruct Woman: “Oh, dear. That’s him? He certainly is a long liver.”

Lady AM: “Have you forgotten who you’re talking to here!?”

Self-Destruct Woman: “Now that you mention it.”

The world is such a complicated place, she thought.

You gather information and try to be aware of every little thing, but there is still so much you don’t know.

Ever since she was a teenager, nations and people had appeared and gone away so often.

But this time…

“Someone who had gone away has appeared again. I can’t say I expected that one. No.”

She lowered her heels back to the floor.

And she sat down.

Her story would be over in less than an hour. Even if she tried to run away, she could be traced using her divine protection management, so it was not like she could slip out the back door without anyone noticing.

The current age did surprisingly well to preserve the history recreation.

The rest was up to the people involved.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Tomoe Gozen, the history recreation is such a troublesome thing, isn’t it?”

Lady AM: “What’s this all of a sudden? If you have regrets, you could always work out a more peaceful resolution to your history recreation.”

“No, no,” she said with a bitter smile.

Lady AM: “I too resent the history recreation. And the history recreation dates back to the Age of Dawn, so there must be so many more like us.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “But protesting the structure of society is so much work.”

Lady AM: “How do you think the Protestant Reformation happened? And we have that kind of resistance to thank for the interpretations we can use.”

In a way, you could say everyone had the right to resist.

It all started back in the Age of Dawn, did it?

The history recreation was the political measure created as a form of mutual restraint when humanity was so busy fighting itself it was walking ever closer to complete destruction.

By applying rules to the world’s changes and by managing how far any one group’s power could be increased or decreased, the world’s movements could be controlled. That was how Christina saw the history recreation.

During the Age of the Gods, she had heard there were nations and even planets managed similarly by massive artificial intelligence. When humanity had returned to Earth, they could no longer construct such things, but they had managed fairly well to provide similar management through discussions. Those discussions were unpredictable, but that was what allowed them to work so well.

The result was known as interpretations.

The world was growing more complex and the history recreation interpretations gave depth to that fact.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Tomoe Gozen, I know you are busy with your battle, but could I ask you one thing as someone who has slipped through the gaps of the current world?”

She heard multiple explosions from her lernen figur and light burst from the ground to the west.

Lady AM: “Dodged it! …Ask away.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “Testament. I have researched a great many things ever since I was a child, including the history recreation and people’s reactions to it. From that, I have come to think that the world may have changed with the Harmonic Unification War. Yes.”


Tomoe Gozen dropped her hips to dodge Yoshinaka’s large sword while she listened to Christina.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Approximately 160 years ago, two worlds combined and it caused widescale chaos. I am impressed people managed to show enough restraint to create the present world during all of that.”

A wind blew in after Yoshinaka’s sword passed by.

The sword pressure was impressively unwavering. Tomoe Gozen asked a question while a few of her hairs scattered.

Lady AM: “In the simple world following the Age of Dawn, I imagine the history recreation was just as simple and free of chaos.”

That much was clear even from the records that were publicly viewable. There were records of the Far East when it was known as the Divine States and of the other nations when they were known as the Harmonic Divine States.

When viewed from a historical perspective, things were far more peaceful back then.

After all, the population had been smaller and, even when people lived near a border, wars were only short-term affairs with neighboring nations. Modern productive techniques and divine transmission environments had yet to be developed, so it was difficult for wars to grow too large or too lengthy.

Back then, it often seemed like they managed to sidestep the history recreation using those things as an excuse, but…

“Oh.”

After she dodged downward, Yoshinaka leaped back and away.

He spun his body.

He had probably thought up the move on the fly, but his head turned back toward her while his shoulders quickly twirled around.

He also switched which hand was holding his large sword.

Approaching carelessly would allow his new sword hand to send the blade her way with a backhand swing.

He was enormous, but his great strength let him move nimbly. And…

He did always love little tricks like switching his sword hand!

Was this a well-made Living Dead, or was this an autonomous ghost-possessed mobile shell system?

Instead of jumping after him, Tomoe Gozen ran along the field to match his rotation.

But the enemy forces began moving while she fought him.

The enemy moved forward while still turned diagonally. And her unit…

“Tomoe Gozen!”

“Move! Go on ahead! I’m busy talking!”

Her exchange of attacks with Yoshinaka was a conversation. She also appreciated being able to hear Christina from her lernen figur.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Are you okay, Tomoe Gozen? Am I interrupting?”

Lady AM: “No, keep talking. Conversing with the dead in the language of combat is far from fun. In the worst case, he could drag me back to his world.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “Not long and there will be another member of the dead around here.”

Lady AM: “There already is another one here. Although they’re still collapsed over there right now.”

That was Yoritomo. No, it was Shima Sakon, technically speaking.

She was glad they had yet to get back up. All she could do was settle this before they did.

Lady AM: “Speak, Christina. You will remain among the living as long as you continue to speak.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “The explosives are set to a timer, you know? And I still have something I must complete before I go to sleep.”

Lady AM: “What do you still have to complete?”

The response came with a smile.

Self-Destruct Woman: “I am a bearer of information. And that piece of information…is my little secret.”


“Did you hear that!?” Masazumi asked the others atop the transport ship rapidly descending toward Nördlingen’s southern wall.

She sent her gaze out along them and saw them all nod. Futayo stood out front with Nagaoka on her back.

They all moved their heads down in affirmation, so Masazumi crossed her arms and continued.

“That was a gift from Tomoe Gozen. If the explosives are set to a timer, then they must be set to go off when this battle is meant to end.”

“Seijun, when is that?”

“7 AM. That means 17 minutes from now.”

“Oh?” Futayo smiled with only her lips. “According to Asama-sama and my calculations, it will take about a minute to cut across this city called…whatever it was.”

“Then we can easily make it. Even if we do run into obstacles, it should only take 3 to 5 minutes,” said the Date Vice Chancellor as she stepped forward and summoned her mobile shell. The green and red device surrounded her in an instant. “There is one thing I want to check on, so I was right to come here.”

Meanwhile, Masazumi looked down toward her hands.

The words written there were from Christina and meant for Tomoe Gozen.

Self-Destruct Woman: “So, Tomoe Gozen, while I prepare my bed, I would like to present to you some historical criticism of mine.”

Namely…

Self-Destruct Woman: “It is generally accepted that the Harmonic Unification War changed the world, correct?”


Christina chose a room with a view of the battlefield hill and of Nördlingen.

This was her last bit of excitement, so she moved to a room with a view of the fighting she had caused.

Lady AM: “Christina, it is true that the Harmonic Unification War greatly changed the world. Or to be more accurate, it was the collapse of the Harmonic World that caused the two worlds to combine and create twice as many headaches for everyone. …Ah.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “Is something wrong?”

Lady AM: “I just had a bit of my bangs taken off on the right. Now I have to get the other side cut to match, you son of a-!”

That can be tricky, thought Christina before Tomoe Gozen got back on topic.

Lady AM: “Friction was unavoidable when two worlds joined together. And that created twice the spatial density of history in this one world. Not to mention that the temporal density of history recreations has continued to grow as time goes on.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “That is a strange way of viewing things.”

Lady AM: “Huh? What is?”

Self-Destruct Woman: “I will explain that later.”

“I see,” said Tomoe Gozen before quieting down. The fighting must have grown more intense.

That meant she was conversing with a past that should not have been here. So Christina spoke up as if butting into Tomoe Gozen and Yoshinaka’s conversation.

Self-Destruct Woman: “It is true that the number of issues requiring interpretations continues to grow. There was the Battle of Mikawa, Hashiba’s arrival in M.H.R.R., P.A. Oda’s control of the Mlasi forces, and even the Logismoi Oplo. Yes.”

But she had a question about that.

“Why is that?”

This was an age of upheaval and there was something she had come to understand after gathering so much information about the state of the world and after working to smooth things over between the different nations.

Self-Destruct Woman: “We have things a lot easier than they did in the past.”

Don’t you find that strange?

Self-Destruct Woman: “We have a recency bias that makes us think that we are facing more problems now than people did in the past. But in fact, the Age of Dawn had to have been a far harder place to live. I am sure part of it comes from the pain fading from our collective memories with time, but I still have to ask why we think the history recreation was so much easier in the past.”

And…

Self-Destruct Woman: “At the same time, I think that the history recreation did grow stricter with the Harmonic Unification War 160 years ago.”


Christina placed her hand on the futon folded up on the floor.

Maria generally prepared that for her. The sheet was attached to the end of the futon and its white color looked bright in the evening air when she spread it out.

“In the past,” said Christina. “During the time we call the Age of Dawn, the Environmental Gods created the Harmonic Divine States.”

The people of the other nations moved there and began to live there.

There were fewer wars back then, so it might seem that things must have been easier back then.

“But you would be sorely mistaken.”

Self-Destruct Woman: “It is strange, isn’t it? The Age of Dawn was a time in which a small population lived in a harsh environment with no resources and no technology. The Divine States and especially the Harmonic Divine States were left with their natural environment to help people develop the skills needed to conquer the similarly harsh environment of the outside world.”

They did that without technology, spells, weapons, or even homes.

The enemy then had not been wars. The question they had to ask was whether or not they could survive.

Self-Destruct Woman: “The interpretations we use now only work because our opponents are people too.”

“Why?” she asked herself.

Self-Destruct Woman: “The people in the past must have been in a desperate situation. That is why they created the Testament to help themselves make progress. But I find something about all this strange. We reached this point while continuing to follow the history recreation, but why have we run across so many more things that require interpretations than in the past?”

She had a possible answer.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Could it be that we are degenerating? Or are we making up for our deficiencies with everything we have gained?”

Or…

Lady AM: “Are you trying to say the Harmonic Unification War put us in an even worse place now than during the Age of Dawn?”

Self-Destruct Woman: “I am not confident enough in any of this to say that for sure.”

Saying that felt like cheating, but that was her fault for failing to reach a full understanding of the world.

Self-Destruct Woman: “This is only my own viewpoint. We have reports saying the history recreation was successfully completed during the Age of Dawn, but we have not actually heard from every single person who lived back then. But based on the surviving records and traditions of those people and based on the information we can reproduce in different nations, I have come to think that the history recreation used to be a lot more lenient.”

Lady AM: “That is not true.”

Tomoe Gozen paused for a moment.

Lady AM: “If it was so lenient, how do you explain what happened with Yoshinaka and the rest of us?”

Self-Destruct Woman: “Then let me ask you one more thing. Yes.”

Christina asked her question.

Self-Destruct Woman: “What kind of interpretation did you initially think the chief imperial advisor’s group would provide for Yoshinaka-sama?”

Yes.

Self-Destruct Woman: “A very lenient one. But why did you think something like that would happen?”


Asama hurriedly recorded what Tomoe Gozen was relaying to them.

Wait, this is some juicy stuff!

Mitotsudaira and Masazumi were looking her way (the former while anchoring Toori with a chain).

“U-umm.”

She tried to sum up what those two had been saying.

“Christina-san is saying she thinks the history recreation has grown stricter since the Harmonic Unification War, although she does not know why. Tomoe Gozen rejected that because it was pretty strict for her, but Christina-san threw that back at her by saying hers was supposed to receive a lenient interpretation but that was rejected.”

They had not known about all this when they discussed it before.

“Toori-kun, do you remember our earlier discussion that this ties into?”

“Judge. I do. I was just noticing how this all makes more sense now.”

They had not known this part since it was a private issue, but they had that info now.

But Mitotsudaira smiled her way.

“Um, Tomo?”

“Y-yes, what is it?”

“When did you and my king discuss this?”

She felt her body temperature rapidly drop.

Oops!

Come to think of it, she had not shared that conversation with everyone.

“W-well, um, i-it wasn’t at a weird time or anything like that.”

“My, my. That means you kept it a secret, doesn’t it?”

“It’s not like that,” cut in Naruze, sounding annoyed with it all. “It was while the rest of you slept. Remember how we had some questions about Tomoe Gozen trying to convince Christina to not blow herself up? We wondered if the Protestant Representative would really disobey the Testament like that. …Well, the Chancellor was wondering about that too, so Asama made some deductions based on Shinto information and explained that Tomoe Gozen is skeptical about the history recreation. Now, about 70% of it was her making stuff up, but it was still a juicy conversation for me. And…none of that changes that Tomoe Gozen’s husband was killed in the history recreation.”

So…

“I can make stuff up too. For example, maybe Tomoe Gozen became the Protestant Representative in order to oppose the Catholics who insist on martyrdom through the history recreation like they did at Mikawa. And maybe she thought she could provide interpretations and leniency if she was the representative.”

So…

“I can see why she came here to Nördlingen. And if that is the case,” said Naruze. “Well, look forward to the rest at the upcoming summer event!”

“P-please give us more than that, 4th Special Duty Officer!!” insisted Adele.

Asama agreed, but she also appreciated what Naruze had done.

“I see,” said Mitotsudaira. “Tomo, your role is to put our king’s mind at ease without using war or hostility. So while you are awake, you are in charge of such things.”

“Oh, thank you for saying that.”

She sent the records of the discussion about Tomoe Gozen to the others. She erased the parts the others did not need to see, but she sent an unredacted version to Mitotsudaira, Horizon, and Kimi. She decided to set up an automatic filter to handle that in the future.

His words and Naruze’s were included in the record, but…

“That about sums it up. This should help anyone who wants to know why Tomoe Gozen is fighting here and what this battle means.”

“Judge.” Mitotsudaira bowed toward her. “I finally understand why my king told me to go support Tomoe Gozen.”

“Oh…should I have let Toori-kun explain it instead?”

Mitotsudaira’s eyebrows rose at that, but she also smiled.

“The two of us are friends too, remember?”

Come to think of it, that was true. Mitotsudaira seemed more mature than her at the moment, so Asama decided to try to be more openminded. And…

Self-Destruct Woman: “Tomoe Gozen, there is one thing I would like to confirm about what you told me before.”

That being…

Self-Destruct Woman: “There is a point in common between your case and the Harmonic Unification War, isn’t there?”


Tomoe Gozen just about gasped

Her body nearly tensed up, so she quickly relaxed her knees to adjust her body’s strength.

Just then, light raced by overhead.

A line of explosions followed, so she stepped aside while feeling the blast on her shoulder.

This is too dangerous a conversation to hold mid-battle!

She had thought nothing could distract her from a 500-year-old reunion, but this was shocking too.

But she knew to what Christina referred.

There was a point in common between what happened to her and the Harmonic Reunification War.

Lady AM: “Kyou. Or more specifically, the emperor in the Imperial Palace, right!?”


Christina nodded.

Exactly.

The turning point in Tomoe Gozen’s incident was the chief imperial advisor’s group asking the Imperial Palace about their interpretation.

And the turning point in the Harmonic Reunification War was the collapse of the Harmonic Divine States.

Self-Destruct Woman: “The collapse of the Harmonic Divine States was caused by the theft of the imperial regalia from Kyou’s Imperial Palace in the Divine States. Those were needed to access the Environmental Gods.”

The Testament had said it happened due to a conflict over imperial succession.

Lady AM: “Christina! Are you insinuating there is a group or an individual within Kyou’s Imperial Palace that wishes to have us follow the history recreation to the letter!? Are you saying they are the ones who forced that strict following of the history recreation onto me and onto all the history recreations following the Harmonic Reunification War?”

Self-Destruct Woman: “I am not so sure about that.”

Because…

Self-Destruct Woman: “If they could do that, it would mean Kyou’s Imperial Palace is closely tied to the Testament Union and was also managing the martyrdom advocated by the Catholics. But I have never received any information suggesting such a link. But…if there is a point in common, I think it may have had its beginning there.”

She smiled. It was a self-deprecating smile. She had gathered so much information and thought she understood the world so well, and yet…

Self-Destruct Woman: “Even if I am right about this, it must only be the very first step.”

Lady AM: “–––––”

Self-Destruct Woman: “I am either wrong, or I have only made it to the Imperial Palace’s entranceway. As full of myself as I might be, not even I can say anything for sure beyond this. Just think of this as what small amount of pride I still have as an information gatherer. Yes.”

Christina sighed and spoke to herself.

“Time to finish this up.”


It is over, thought Christina.

Most of the information she had had been rendered meaningless during the last few years of upheaval.

She had thought she had nothing left, but when she did some digging, it was into the cruel history recreation being forced onto her.

She had looked into it, but had ultimately reached her limit.

After all, all of the related incidents were considered taboo by Shinto, so no records remained.

She may have been able to see more if she had made some connections in deeper places.

And she did have a connection like that – Akechi Mitsuhide.

He was not her true father, but they had temporarily grown fairly close due to their history recreation relationship. Nowadays, she never saw him unless something else created an opportunity, but…

“Now, then.”

She was certain he would know more about this than her.

What had led the history recreation to all of a sudden start forcing things on people?

Had the Harmonic Unification War begun when someone took a strict view of the history recreation, or had there been some other reason?

He would know.

But he would not tell her anything.

That spring, she had tried asking him about it at Kyoto’s Nijou Castle.

But he had bluntly told there was “no answer” to that.

Yes, he had almost seemed to be telling her to create an answer.

So she had made up her mind.

She had given up on her information and she had failed to reach an understanding of the world or the cruelty befalling her, but…

“I can make sure someone inherits everything I have.”

She had just made sure of that here.

She could see the divine transmission settings on her lernen figur. Information was her specialty, so her programs and data management divine protections let her know when her data was being sent elsewhere.

Musashi must have received the puzzle she had failed to solve.

And he had to be with them.

“Tadaoki-sama.”

She sat down on her futon and slowly lay down on her back.

Self-Destruct Woman: “Now it is finished.”

She activated a Catholic compressed sleep spell.

She would never wake again. And just before she fell asleep…

“Hee hee.”

She had ended everything, she had made sure it was all inherited by someone else, and she had lost all value of her own. But that meant something else for her.

Self-Destruct Woman: “I can go to sleep for the last time while doing the one thing I was never able to do before.”

She opened a lernen figur.

It was morning and she could hear artillery fire in the distance.


“Okay, let’s go.”

Mitotsudaira heard her king speak after finally landing down on the deck.

“We need to do something to help Nagabuto’s wife and Tomoe Gozen.”

“Judge!” She was the first to state her agreement and she breathed in to continue. “We must do this. We cannot let this be the end for her,” she said. “This world does not have enough officers to let any of them decide they are finished.”

“That is true.” Masazumi stepped up next to her and raised her right hand. “All of Musashi’s forces will now work to support the Protestant anti-imperial force that is fighting to protect Nördlingen. And we will be participating in the Battle of Nördlingen as an interpretation of Inadome Sukenao’s arrival at Ishida Mitsunari’s attack on the Nagaoka estate.”

“Try to keep it shorter next time, Seijun!”

“This time, we’re in trouble if I don’t cram all the details in there!”

Meanwhile, the transport ship arrived on the hill’s slope and began its charge toward Nördlingen’s south gate.

The pilot had no intent of reducing the speed picked up during their descent. They were on a collision course.

The Secretary opened a sign frame amid it all.

“Listen up, everyone. Our route will take us straight through Nördlingen. The Testament says Nördlingen opened its gate to the Catholics without taking any damage, so once we enter the city, any damage from artillery will be our responsibility and the Catholics are sure to be firing shells on us. Yes, shells of anger but of an unrighteous-”

Musashi: “We can defend against those by opening defense barriers. However, the Catholic warriors will enter the city and we cannot catch every small bullet, so you must handle that with your divine protections and actions. Over.”

That summed it up. The Secretary clearly wanted to say something about having his line cut off, but it was best to ignore him.

Their king stepped forward, so Mitotsudaira felt like she had to ask.

“My king, will you be participating in the battle?”

“No?” He turned around to show he was holding the arms. “I’m going on a date.”

Kimi burst out laughing and slapped her brother’s shoulder with a hand to her own face.

Mitotsudaira and Asama had to laugh too. However…

“H-hey! This transport ship is going to crash into the gate!” shouted Nagaoka from Futayo’s back. “Are you sure about this!? Shouldn’t you be looking where you’re going!?”

“Hm? Of course we’re sure. You should probably look where we’re going too.”

“Huh!?”

Nagaoka peered past Futayo’s shoulder to look out ahead.

Musashi: “Activating defense barriers. Over.”

Once “Musashi” said that, several layers of large defense barriers opened.

They were all right in front of the transport ship and facing toward it.

“Huhhhhhh!?”

Just as Mitotsudaira wondered why Nagaoka found this so confusing, the transport ship crashed into the defense barriers.


Mitsunari saw it happen from her position next to Matthias.

The Musashi transport ship had descended diagonally down from atop the hill and crashed into some defense barriers.

Except these large barriers had been opened by Musashi themselves.

Was that to stop the ship!?

Their high speed had been to avoid being hit by the artillery fire from the Catholic ships.

But taking the time to slow down normally would also expose them to artillery fire.

This was their answer.

They used 17 defense barriers. Light sprayed out from every single one of them and the transport ship came to a rapid stop.

A voice reached her audio system.

The Musashi forces had used the force of the crash to leap forward.

“Charge!”

A straight line invasion had begun.


Chapter 76: Hurrier in the Circle[edit]

Horizon7C 0659.jpg

Come to think of it

This is a very roundabout

Way of

Showing off

Point Allocation (Does She Even Need Raging Beast?)


Tomoe Gozen watched as defense barriers were repeatedly destroyed south of Nördlingen.

Musashi is here!

What they were doing was idiotic, but incredibly they seemed to be enjoying it.

Did we used to be like that? she wondered. Because…

“At least it isn’t boring!”

A beam shot her way.

Oh.

But it was different now. Instead of aiming for her face like before, this one swept horizontally to catch her on the torso.

This was no accident. She was confident he had changed tack after she had dodged a few shots at close range.

This was definitely harder to dodge, so was he learning? Or…

“Hoping he’s remembering would be wishful thinking, wouldn’t it?”

He would fire a beam and then explosions would trigger along the beam’s path.

Yoshinaka had once told her the explosions did not appear immediately so he would not hurt the roof of his mouth and to eliminate the recoil.

He had also said that was a biological thing and he did not actually control it.

They both belonged to species that had existed since the Age of the Gods. Since they were what remained after the adaption and selection of evolution, she felt like god had done a decent job on them.

Always remember to show respect for god.

No, wait. Tsirhc’s god rejects evolution and only creates completed products.

Given how the flavor of pork and beef could only be described as a completed product, she had to agree with that. The god that had created the pork and cabbage hotpot was a genius in her opinion.

An attack arrived.

It was a horizontal slash of that big sword. The blade dropped down toward her.

She could not move back to dodge it. She could not fill the distance between them that way.

So she stepped leftward.

She chose left because Yoshinaka held the sword in his right hand. That put it on the left from her perspective. He could not move the blade back to that side immediately, so if she moved past it on that side, his right arm and the sword would act as cover for her.

No attacks came her way, so she calmly swung her Testament copy hammer.

She struck from below and aimed for the elbow of the right arm swinging his sword.

She wanted to destroy the elbow joint. However…

“…!”

He released the sword’s hilt from his right hand.

And he swung his targeted right arm toward his inner left side.

At the same time, he moved his left hand to grab the falling sword’s hilt.

Both his elbow and his sword had dodged the hammer blow.

He lowered his hips with his right shoulder turned her way. His face looked over his shoulder toward her.

“…”

He made a sweeping blast.

Meanwhile, she swung her right hammer upwards.

A horizontal sweep from the right was tough when she had just extended her upper body upwards.

She had acted on reflex more than expected.

She accelerated the vainly swinging hammer to send it above and behind her.

She was a demonic long-lived, so she had plenty of physical strength.

“Okay.”

Which she used to leap.


After rushing into Nördlingen ahead of the others, Futayo viewed the city from midair.

She looked west while leaping over the gate and wall and she saw someone she recognized making their own leap there.

“I know her! I kicked her through the air back at Magdeburg!”

What was her name again?

“I believe she had the same name as a judo move.”

Uchimata Gozen!

Close but not quite! she concluded while reaching the peak of her jump.

That has to be close. I can just feel it. But even if I am wrong, I deserve an A for effort, right?

But I am pretty sure it was a judo throw. So…

“Ippon Gozen!”

That is a good guess, she thought. Ippon! Even if I am wrong, it feels like a very satisfying answer.

At any rate, Ippon Gozen was soaring through the air.

This was not a normal jump. She had leaped simply by swinging her hammer.

Some big person in front of her had fired a beam from his mouth – which seemed utterly absurd for the Warring States period – so she must have been dodging that.

She used her strength.

With one arm, she had swung that giant hammer around with enough speed to send herself flying.

Futayo could not do that herself. If anyone in our class can, it would have to be Mitotsudaira-sama.

“I see.”

She realized this was the level of heroes to be found on this battlefield.

“I hope I can watch this a while longer.”


Behind Futayo, Mitotsudaira ran through the city while considering changing course to approach Tomoe Gozen. She saw Futayo make a sudden jump.

She kept her body stretched out with her arms lowered at her sides and used the jump to take a peek over the western city wall to their left.

It was an impressively high jump, but…

What in the world are you doing!?

They were running down the city’s central road because the enemy fleet in the eastern sky would fire on them if they were visible, yet Futayo was looking back in midair while carrying Nagaoka on her back.

“I saw her! It’s Ippon! I saw Ippon!”

Has she gone insane again? wondered Mitotsudaira. Actually, when isn’t she insane? Then again, I’m used to insanity thanks to Kimi. Based on Kimi’s standards, jumping around randomly is pretty tame, so maybe this doesn’t count.

But some light did appear. It was a defense barrier. The Musashi had placed it in the air along their path through the city.

“Incoming shells!”

The part of the eastern M.H.R.R. fleet they had caught in a tornado earlier was now launching shells.


Adele saw light scattering through the sky.

Wow!

The defense barriers and the shells striking them produced mutual destruction.

The Musashi caught all of the incoming shells with defense barriers and they both shattered.

A similar situation had occurred aboard the Musashi when they were arriving at Magdeburg. Takigawa had fired at extreme close range from the warship passing above the Musashi.

The Musashi had defended against it by activating gravity barriers along the surface cities and on the inside of the bridge-shaped ship’s bridge.

Thanks to Futayo’s desperate fighting, Muneshige’s charge, and Adele’s falling tackle, they had successfully repelled Shibata Katsuie and Sassa Narimasa.

Thinking back, her tendency toward tackling things seemed to have begun there.

“But this is a lot thicker!”

The enemy was only targeting them this time.

Whether or not they were hit was entirely up to the Musashi. On the Musashino’s bridge, Suzu was quickly creating a model of this main road and the western passageway while the automatons were making distributed use of their spare processing power to quickly adjust the location of the defense barriers.

Suzu was perceiving and dealing with the situation in the city in real time.

Bell: “Yawn.”

That yawn was concerning, but while Adele continued running…

Um.

As a vassal, there was something she had to do more than the others headed toward the Nagaoka estate.

“1st Special Duty Officer!”

“Judge!”

The 1st Special Duty Officer had chosen to run along the rooftops once the artillery fire had begun and he was holding onto Mary’s hand to escort her.

“Watch out for the third building to the east!” he shouted back at her.

She accelerated toward that third building.

She had used Raging Beast a lot since Mikawa, but they were in a hurry here. Since the 5th Special Duty Officer was headed over to support Tomoe Gozen, she could not use that heavy mobile shell here.

She was confident in how quick she was on her feet. The Vice Chancellor, the 5th Special Duty Officer, and Muneshige were ahead of them all now, but based on unassisted running speed, she was second only to the 1st Special Duty Officer.

Okay!

Her acceleration spell was Catholic. She threw her legs forward, caught the stone pavement with her heels, and pulled her body forward.

Then she leaned her body forward.

“Vassal Adele is on the move!”

She ran.

A moment later, someone stepped out from behind the third building.

They wore a P.A. Oda track suit uniform. It was an ambush.

I knew it!

The enemy had more than just the artillery fire to stop them.

Novice: “Kh. An ambush. I knew it!”

Four Eyes: “If you knew it, why didn’t you have a plan ready for it?”

Novice: “I do! That was just my dramatic spirit flowing forth! So, um, deal with this! If we tried to sneak through the city in hiding, they planned to attack and force us to act in a way that justified firing on us with their fleet!”

Tonbokiri: “I see! In other words, my peeking jump ruined their plans!”

Novice: “Technically speaking, yes, but this would have been easier if you hadn’t!”

Glad I’m not in charge of strategy, thought Adele, but she had to respond to things here on the scene.

She moved herself to within a few steps of the enemy.

She slid her lance’s grip back in her right hand to hold it closer to the front.

She stabbed it straight out much like a long sword but also held it below her arm. In that moment she got a good look at the enemy.

There’s three of them!

And their weapons were unique. They were holding…

“Musical instruments!”


Adele had a thought.

Are those acoustic weapons!?

Those weapons produced sound pressure that covered an entire surface and attacked by manipulating the vibration of the air.

Instead of using bullets, they used ether fuel and their divine protections made sure they did not affect the city or their allies.

Musashi had some members of the music clubs registered to use those weapons and they had even assisted in a mostly defensive role during the Armada battle and such.

Adele hurried along.

This is dangerous!

If the enemy managed to blow into or strum their acoustic weapon, it would produce destructive power.

In that instant, the enemy took action. They raised their instruments by the handles attached, and…

“Music hammer!”

“You’re physically hitting me with them!?”

She hit them with a merciless attack of her own.


Asama stood with Masazumi and the others on the transport ship in front of Nördlingen’s main gate.

Shinagawa and Asakusa’s long bows were descending on either side of them to guard them from the distant artillery fire.

That blocked their view to east and west, but they could still view Nördlingen from the diagonally-tilted deck. It looked like a giant circular hall.

The others were running through there. Kimi hung back from the group and sent them an image of it all.

Toori was the most incredible of the bunch.

He had called it a date, so he started off holding the hands of the two arms. Looking at the image reminded Asama of how far they had come in such things. It scared her how accustomed to it she had become.

But the arms seemed to have other ideas. The right one stayed in place while the left one grabbed the right one’s shoulder to form a single long arm.

“Ohhhh! Not so faaaast!”

The left arm crawled along the ground and the right arm attached to it dragged him along as they began to run.

It looked something like an overexcited dog pulling its owner along, but that was not how the people of Nördlingen saw it while watching the battle from their doors or windows.

“Eeeeeek! That arm!”

“Look, mama! An arm is crawling there!”

“Kyaaahh! That arm is dragging some weird guy into the depths of the earth!”

They quickly shut everything up tightly.

Asama: “So can I view this as Toori-kun helping people tighten up their security?”

Wise Sister: “Oh, dear. Is my foolish brother actually doing a public service for once!?”

Gold Mar: “The Chancellor and Horizon sure do like to stand out, don’t they?”

Two figures moved out ahead of the rest up above.

It was the two Technohexen. They had completed an abbreviated form of their flight preparations on the Musashi, so now…

“Time to go. We’ll head on to the Nagaoka residence.”

A defense barrier opened on each of their backs in place of a deflector.

They were leaving. Meanwhile, Asama heard the tones of a brass instrument coming from the city.

“Instruments?” asked Naito with a tilt of her head.

“Yes,” said Asama. “Adele ran into an enemy instrument unit while scouting things out with Tenzou-kun.”


Adele gave herself a single task while approaching this enemy.

I can’t slow down!

So there was no intricate interplay of attacks. She simply crashed into them to break through.

Come to think of it, that’s what the Raging Beast hammer is, so do I go for the same tactics no matter what I’m equipped with?

But her speed allowed her to make the collision near instantly.

She hit the first enemy.

She targeted their brass instrument. As soon as they raised that armored hammer, she made a leap to strike at the hammer’s pommel.

The enemy had just raised the weapon up and back, so they could not produce the force needed swing it forward and down.

“Eh?”

The music hammer slipped from their hand and slammed into the face of the second enemy behind them.

The second one was blown away by the impact.

He held a music hammer based on a string instrument, but it slipped from his hand.

Adele leaped past the first enemy, viewed the music hammer that fell from the second enemy’s hand, and also kept the third enemy in view.

The third one launched an attack on her from behind the collapsing second one.

They wielded a percussion instrument music hammer and they swung it horizontally in from the left.

As soon as Adele landed, she spun back and to the right.

The lance she held close in with her right hand had lost its momentum with the previous attack, so she shifted her grip toward the back end, which acted as the outward point of her full-body spin.

A backhand blow!

While spinning the back end of the lance’s shaft, she first struck the music hammer that had fallen from the second enemy’s grasp behind her.

With a solid metallic sound, that music hammer flew back through the air.

The first enemy’s face was right there as they turned around to face her.

The string instrument’s armor crashed into them below the right cheek.

But Adele did not stop. She twirled in midair, and…

Spin!

She spun herself to the right.

The third enemy had swung their weapon horizontally from the left. If it hit, it would be perfect for a line drive.

She matched her spin to that swing.

“Toh!”

It grazed her left forearm, but she dodged it. She was glad this was her summer uniform. The weapon would have gotten tangled in her winter one’s baggy sleeve.

But she had avoided it.

From there, she continued rotating and held her lance while accelerating the righthanded backhand blow with continuous snapping motions.

“And that’s three!”

Her horizontal blow landed on the third enemy’s face.

As soon as the enemy was sent flying, she let go of the lance. That prevented the impact from reaching her own arm.

She calmed down, landed from her midair spin, and took a solid step forward.

She took care not to lose any of her speed as she leaned forward.

“Judge!”

The lance was still vibrating in midair and she grabbed it near the tip.

But just as she started to resume running…

“Kh!”

The third enemy managed to hold their ground even while their body shook.

She had failed to take them out.

They had managed to avoid the full impact of her blow because they had been in the process of swinging an attack at her.


Oops!

Adele had already sent herself forward.

She could not do anything about this.

The enemy grimaced at the blow to their face and staggered, but they also managed to forcibly bring themselves back upright.

“Headbanging Form!”

“Why do you even know something like that!?”

But an attack brimming with power was sent her way as she ran.

The enemy was using a percussion instrument. A closer look showed it was a bongo hammer.

She was extremely curious what kind of sound it would make if it hit her, but if she was hit while running, she would lose her balance and it would be a disaster all around.

It flew toward her at the perfect height to hit her right in the butt. In other words…

“Eh!? What’s this!? You’re getting a bat to the ass, Adele!?”

A weirdo passed by her while dragged around by a running arm. How was that allowed?

Regardless, she did not want to get hit by this.

Mar-Ga: “A bat to the ass? What are you getting shoved in there, Adele? Heh heh heh.”

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan! Ga-chan! You’re so sleep deprived you’re drifting off altitude!”

She would never live it down if she was hit by this. But…

“It’s going to hit!”

Just as she shouted that, the enemy’s bongo hammer was destroyed. Also, the attack that destroyed the percussion instrument moved in toward the enemy.

“…!”

It hit them.

They were blown away with several times the momentum with which they had approached her. She had made a light jump to prepare for the hit, so…

Eh!? What was that!?

Something had flown in from the upper left and hit the hammer and enemy.

She could now see what had spun through the air while soaring off back the way it had come.

“Ex. Collbrande!”

She looked up to the left to see Mary waving her way.


Mary breathed a sigh of relief while seeing Adele accelerate once more.

Tenzou was holding her hand to escort her along the rooftops. When jumping between roofs, he would tug somewhat strongly, but that only gave it a more reliable feeling. That was a problem, though, since she was spilling flowers everywhere when she was supposed to be a scout.

After seeing Ex. Collbrande return to her empty hand, he spoke to her.

“A well-executed assist, Mary-dono.”

“Oh, n-no. That was very violent of me.”

“No, no. You did that because you did not lose sight of what had to be done. That is what matters most.”

He praised her.

She blushed, but she had a legitimate reason for what she had done and it had paid off.

He probably found it easier to speak with her right now since it counted as part of their scouting job. His tone was light.

“Also, I am impressed at how well Ex. Collbrande responds to your instructions. Maybe you should give that attack a name at some point.”

“Oh, um, uh, but.”

It suddenly occurred to her that she already had one named attack.

But the Master Tenzou Love Love Homerun is such an embarrassing name.

She had wondered when she would ever be able to tell him about that, but now she felt like she could say it.

“U-um, Master Tenzou?”

But he took a sudden action.

With a comment of “excuse me”, he grabbed Ex. Collbrande from her hip.

He threw it with plenty of speed toward the road below.

“Th-thank you very much!”

It tore through the enemies who had appeared in Adele’s path.

That’s Master Tenzou for you. He’s so quick to action.

Impressed, she watched as Excalibur returned to them. He grabbed it from the air, held the hilt out toward her, and laughed out loud.

“Since it returns to you even when I throw it, perhaps the best name for the attack would be Our Love Love Boomerang.”


Mar-Ga: “Whaaaat!? Again! Could you say that again!?”

Asama: “Yes, I would like to hear it again for Mary’s sake and so I can register the name.”

10ZO: “O-once was all I could manage! I’m spent! And who the hell registered Master Tenzou Love Love Homerun in Musashi’s internal dictionary!? Someone is going to pay for this one!”

Musashi: “And how exactly do you suggest I ‘pay’? Over.”

10ZO: “Oh, well, um…could you maybe give it a simpler definition?”


Tenzou heard Mary say “my”.

She hugged the Excalibur that had returned to her along with the other one still at her hip. He took 5 mental snapshots of how they sank into her chest, but then she began speaking.

“Master Tenzou. Are you saying that is ‘our’ attack?”

Mary takes precedence right now. I can think about everything else later, he decided before responding.

“I am, Mary-dono. Excalibur is two swords in one. In a way, that is a nice metaphor for us. I must thank your parents and the spirits for this.”

“Judge.” Mary nodded and then hung her blushing head while holding out a trembling hand. “Th-then…w-we need to get to work. Together.”


Gold Mar: “It’s like they’re cutting the wedding cake!”

Asama: “It is honestly impressive that Mary can run along the rooftops so quickly while hanging her head in embarrassment.”

Musashino: “ ‘Musashi’-sama, we are ready to register Our Love Love Boomerang. Over.”

10ZO: “Wh-why must you all make everything so difficult! I never get any peace!”


Tenzou held Mary’s hand while she held out the sword and then he pulled back.

He shook her wrist and intentionally unbalanced her body.

“Ah, M-Master Tenzou.”

He was not tripping her. He also pulled upwards to lift her.

“This way will be easier.”

He moved his left arm below her back and butt to support her with that one arm.

To help her balance, he had her place her right arm around his back.

“U-um, Master Tenzou? What is this?”

“We are working together.”

His right hand and her left hand held Excalibur. And…

“Mary-dono.”

“Y-yes?”

“We are finally at each other’s eye level.”

She faced him with look of surprise.

It felt like forever since he had looked straight at her face. She must have felt the same.

“Oh, u-um.”

Although she did immediately hang her had so her bangs hid her face.

“I-I will do what I can to make sure we can continue working together.”

“As will I.”

“You will too? But…”

“It is true you were the one that threw us off balance, Mary-dono.”

But…

“It was me that caused you to do that.” He squeezed her hand. “So rebalancing ourselves and enjoying the swaying movement that causes is a job for both of us.”

“You mean…?”

“Are you not enjoying this?”

She quickly shook her head to say she was.

“P-please don’t be so mean, Master Tenzou. Just look at all these flowers it’s creating from me.”

“But those flowers are so pretty.”

He pulled her closer to him with his one arm and jumped between rooftops.

“And I bet those flowers will be even prettier if we enjoy ourselves even more.”

With those words, he glimpsed her blue eyes through her bangs. And…

“Judge.”

She nodded and kept her head lowered, but she pressed her face against his shoulder and kept it there.

She had found her spot.


Tenzou mentally sighed in relief at Mary’s nod.

I-I’ve finally managed to start fixing things between us!

He was glad they had managed to communicate while he kept his charming mask on.

His relief must have reached her because she sighed and smiled.

“I feel a little bit better now.”

So do I!

He had most feared returning home while she still could not look him in the eye. A lack of communication would be a critical blow to their everyday life together and she must have understood that as much as he did.

She took a deep breath and the tension left her hand. She gasped and quickly raised her head.

“S-sorry. I got distracted.”

“Think nothing of it. It was probably the lingering effects of compressed sleep. More importantly…”

Flat Vassal: “I’m going to clear out the main road with some support from Itoken-san and Nenji-san.”

Sticky King: “Indeed. If you are in need of booby traps, look no further than me!”

Obscene: “Okay, everyone! You can go on ahead!”

I cannot thank you enough, thought Tenzou before noticing a sound.

He heard explosions shaking the air from the beyond the wall to the west.

Is that Tomoe Gozen and Minamoto no Yoshinaka’s battle!?


Chapter 77: Interrupter of Reminiscence[edit]

Horizon7C 0683.jpg

That is someone from the past

Who cannot move past their era

They simply look back

Into the morning sun

Point Allocation (A Truly Shining Genji)[2]


Onitakemaru restored his functions by resetting himself after the hit.

Damn, this body is not easy to use!

His current body was a mobile shell. He could sense it as his body, but he could not move it himself.

Having a body but being unable to move it felt weird, so he had not been digitizing his senses.

But that was why the previous attack had caught them unawares.

With his senses restricted to the mechanical functions, he had been unable to sense the presence of and distance from the enemy on the battlefield. Even when not much was going on around you, the entire battlefield was in motion. He should have been able to detect the movement of the aerial ships using what he could sense of the air.

His vision was simply dark at the moment. And…

Onitakemaru: “Hey, little girl!”

He did not know if the girl named Shima Sakon was okay or not.

Neither one knew the other well and their divine protections had not been synced, so he could not tell anything about her condition.

He was fine. The hit must not have been a direct one, so he was not damaged.

They had apparently been blasted away by the shockwave, but the shell fragments and the impact itself would have had a serious effect on a human body.

He could predict that Shima Sakon would have taken significant damage.

Especially because she had such long arms and legs.

The impact would have propagated up her limbs, but the extremities still would have burst open.

Onitakemaru: “Hey!”

“Uh, y-yes.”

His vision swayed. Whatever was covering his sight devices fell away and he realized it was dirt. Then he found himself looking up into the sky from the grass.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.”

A tense breath left her as she sat up.

Onitakemaru: “How are you?”

“Eh? Oh, testament. I’m fine.”

“Really?” he sighed.

Onitakemaru: “Then you were awfully lucky. Can you stand? If so, we need to get back to it.”

“––––”

She stopped breathing for a moment. Or it seemed that way to him. Then a hand abruptly moved into his field of vision. It was a white and even beautiful hand, but he should have been seeing his own body there.

Onitakemaru: “Hey, what happened to your gauntlet?”

“Oh, um…it must have been blown away.”

Onitakemaru: “I can’t believe you. You still have your sword, I hope. If not, I will activate a spell and you can fight with that. Okay?”

“Uh, yes.”

The hand clenched a few times and they stood up.

Then he heard the roar of artillery fire from the sky and gunfire from the surface.

“Whoa.”

Sparks scattered well ahead of them.

Onitakemaru: “Is that Yoshinaka?”

“It’s Tomoe Gozen.”

“It’s both,” he muttered while sensing his wearer moving forward.

“Um, we need to…”

Onitakemaru: “Yoshinaka is handling Tomoe Gozen, so it would be best for us to attack her surface unit. We should head north and join the mobile shell unit pursuing them. Go!”


Tomoe Gozen saw a tall mobile shell leaving the western forest.

Yoritomo has emerged!

However, this mostly confused her. She was puzzled about that tall mobile shell’s wearer, Shima Sakon.

Tomoe Gozen kept her in a corner of her vision while she fought.

“She isn’t hurt?”

Her inner suit’s sleeves and stomach were torn, exposing the skin below, but there was no sign of injury.

Even though she had taken a direct hit from a shell.

A light warship’s pseudo-anti-ship cannon should have done a lot of damage to a human.

But that could change if her mobile shell was an autonomous model. The armor would move at the instant of contact to redirect the impact. By cancelling the guidance spell connections, the wearer could be protected at the cost of the armor.

So Tomoe Gozen had assumed the mobile shell might be entirely destroyed depending on how the artillery shell hit.

But as far as she could see…

The mobile shell isn’t damaged either?

She could only imagine the mobile shell had moved to avoid the impact. The artillery shell must have been diverted by the mobile shell but it hit nearby and the shockwave had damaged Shima Sakon’s suit.

That seemed like the best explanation for this. And…

“Oh!”

Her opponent was on the move in front of her.

I don’t have time to focus on anything else.

Light raced by.

She did not overlook that beam. She forcefully struck the ground with her right hammer.

With a roar, clumps of dirt flew skyward and a power appeared before her.

It was a Testament copy. That barrier of ether blocked the beam of light, and a breath later…

“It won’t last.”

It burst and ether light scattered across the morning field.

“Now, then.”

She pulled her hammer from the ground and used that motion to dodge Yoshinaka’s sword. Then she raised her hammer.

“We have 10 minutes until 7AM. Not quite enough time for 500 years’ worth of complaining!”


Tomoe Gozen was using a physical buffing spell.

Protestant spells were holy spells, so they were honestly a bit of a burden on her spectral body. That was why she would first cast a ghost preservation spell meant for spirit manifestations.

That allowed her to buff herself just like anyone with an ordinary physical body, but there was one problem there.

It made her body heavy.

Ghosts were data entities, so burdening herself with the data of a spell increased her weight.

Only buffs and divine protections could rid her of that weight.

But using those would only add to the burden.

Which brings you right back where you started!

It was important to keep it all balanced. More than that, you could not use any unnecessary buffs.

She only had to outdo her enemy’s speed and have enough strength to smash through their armor. Then she could fight using her experience.

“Indeed.”

She knew this opponent very well.

After all, she had learned how to fight in the earliest stage of her life by training against him.

“And do you remember that I had the higher win rate, Yoshinaka!?”

He did not reply, but there was a response.

He responded with his actions. The movements of his arms and his footwork were not strictly the same as the Yoshinaka in her memories.

The ghost in the shell must not have had much of his regretful memories remaining.

But that was his skeleton there and he had artificial muscles and tendons in the appropriate places.

The movable range of a skeletal animal was determined by the flexibility of their bones and muscles.

And with each movement, the mobile shell’s movement management system gained a better understanding of that range, allowing him to make the shortest possible movements and to balance himself.

The trick to combat was to understand your body’s movable range and strength and to move in accordance with that.

Yoshinaka had always done that.

And this mobile shell was the same. Over the course of the battle, it was reaching an understanding of its frame made from his skeleton and it was optimizing its movements accordingly.

It was reproducing what movements had been possible for Minamoto no Yoshinaka.

But there were a few points that had arrived at a different optimization than what he had used.

Like when I make this attack.

When she had made a horizontal swing of her weapon, Yoshinaka had always twisted his body and fallen back.

But this opponent moved straight back.

Back then, Yoshinaka had made good use of that habit. He had avoided her attacks.

But she hit this mobile shell.

I see, she thought in reference to his skeleton. She had of course not seen it back then, but his entire skeleton was revealed to her now.

A portion of the skeletal frame was misshapen or incomplete.

He had been a demon. Different demons were different sizes and even relatives could look entirely different thanks to deformities. Yoshinaka’s skeleton was mostly well-formed, but one part of him was surprisingly asymmetrical.

“If only I had been able to see this back then.”

She could have beaten the snot out of him even easier.

But a part of her did not know how to react to this.

After all, her fighting style meshed well with this opponent.

But not perfectly. There was a fair bit lacking there, but that helped her grow weirdly accustomed to it.

I can’t believe this.

Her time with Yoshinaka, Ishi, and that group had been so much shorter than the time since.

I only spent 30…no, let’s say 20 or so years with them. Yes, that’s a much better number.

However, the people she had spent time with afterwards decorated the rest of her life.

But, she thought.

Her fighting style had been created in her training against Yoshinaka.

Her interactions with people afterwards had given her further strategies, weapons, and fighting styles that matched the era at the time, but the foundation of all those ideas and actions came from that starting point.

The very first thing she had learned was special to her and it was engraved in her memory.

It’s a lot like a book.

It was so nostalgic.

Then something occurred to her. The history creation system based on the Testament may have been the same.

All things could only have the one starting point.

She had just come in contact with hers again as her current self and while equipped with the current technology.

Was the world the same?

But, she thought while swinging her hammer and striking metal against metal.

“Something is missing.”

Yes.

She crossed the grassy morning field with footless footwork and spun herself around.

“Why are you here after so long? Ishi is not here.”


Tomoe Gozen moved forward.

She pushed. She slid the hammer’s handle in her hand a bit to adjust its speed and where it struck.

Honestly.

She had not used this sort of weapon back then.

She had used a club. She had been trying to make a wooden sword, but it had been roughly hewn and overly long, so Yoshinaka had laughed at her for it. But when she hit him for that, it had worked really well, so she had continued using it for practice.

Maybe that was not all that different from now. But still…

“You are an outdated relic, Yoshinaka. You are not living here in this age.”

She knew that much.

He had been asleep all this time and then he was awoken and used as a component of this mobile shell.

She had no right to speak out about the usage of human souls for tools of war. Spells were linked to the saints and god and she would have to rethink their usage of spiritual powerups and divine protections.

The spirits did have some rights.

In most cases, you sign a contract with them or pay them money.

They would be given more peaceful sleep or be allowed to ascend to a higher plane.

If Yoshinaka really had no memories left, then he would have been little different from some random spirit. By defining him as Yoshinaka again here, she might be able to give him his official sleep as Yoshinaka.

After all, his head had been stolen after he was slain.

There had been a burial mound for his head.

That must have been dug up to restore this skeleton.

P.A. Oda had set up his and Yoritomo’s resurrections. It would have been done by Niwa who managed Houjou, Akechi who held Kyoto, and Maeda who had mastered a spell to resurrect the dead.

Yoshinaka had been resurrected like this, but the existence of a burial mound for his head meant the modern world viewed him as a traitor.

No one viewed him for who he had been.

When a ghost was not treated right, they would generally end up haunting people.

But, said Tomoe Gozen in her heart.

You never haunted anyone.

I bet you were too proper for that.

I won’t say that’s what I did, but you could have been more selfish.

You could have resented the imperial advisors and Imperial Palace.

And not just you. Ishi too.

Ishi, you died of your illness, but you were replaced since your history recreation was not complete.

No one even remembers you. Of course they don’t, when it would now seem wrong to count you as “you”.

Yet you left us and went peacefully to sleep in some unassuming grave.

Did Yoshinaka not appear where Ishi was because she had left with no regrets?

Then why did you never appear where I was?

Does that mean my words actually got through when we parted ways?

“Well?”

She did not know. There was no reply. But there was a response.

When she struck, his metal weapon rang out. That was the usual result of that. But…

“Answer me.”

She asked him a question.

“Why?”

She had to ask.

“Why didn’t you resent me?”

The people who should have resentfully remained behind had left and gone to sleep.

And the one who should have left without resentment had remained behind due to her regrets.

She could accept that and she had remade herself to fit the current age. And yet…

“Why are you here now!?”


Tomoe Gozen stepped forward.

She held her right hammer close in and raised it as if pressing it to her shoulder. She thrust her left hammer out like a spear.

“…”

That left hammer intercepted Yoshinaka’s right arm as he swung his large sword.

While he swung the weapon down, she stuck the Testament hammer below his arm and accurately struck his elbow.

She felt the impact.

But that was all part of the setup. What really mattered was her right arm and the right hammer it held in close.

“The other arm!”

As soon as he realized his sword had been stopped, he swung his other arm.

He was either trying to deter her from acting or trying to capture her.

She sent out a right attack against it.

She hit.

Her hammer accurately struck his palm on the interior of his gauntlet.

With a solid sound of impact, the hammer was knocked back, but his arm was as well.

Both of them were knocked backwards.

“…!”

His face turned her way above his bent body.

His mouth opened and he unleashed a roar.

There was light. A beam of it was targeting her. However…

“That’s obsolete, Yoshinaka.”

Tomoe Gozen did not fight her body’s backwards momentum. She swung her right hammer back over her shoulder.

“I am now the leader of the Protestants.”

As soon as the hammer slammed into the ground, a Testament copy barrier rose up in front of Yoshinaka just before he launched the light.

This was not just close range; it was point-blank range.

“First of all, you can blow yourself up, Yoshinaka.”

An ether light explosion soon followed.


“Wow,” said Sakon as she watched the explosion to south.

She was currently rushing toward the enemy with sword in hand.

She could not tell if she was moving quickly or slowly, but she could hear the M.H.R.R. assault unit over the divine transmission.

“Help us out!”

“We can target them from the side, so you just have to break through the corner of their formation!”

“Testament,” she replied while crouching low to speed up.

She followed her training and the mobile shell assisted her just like the one during training.

So as she approached the enemy firing on them while falling back to north…

Onitakemaru: “I will defend you, so you charge on ahead!”

“Um, okay! I will do that!”

But even as she charged in and accelerated, she was worried about things behind her.

Someone in a mobile shell was fighting Tomoe Gozen.

The same kind of big weird book she had torn up from the ground had grown from the ground like a trap in a retro game and hit the person in the large mobile shell. Or so it had looked.

In reality, it had simply grown up right in front of them.

It had not hit them, but their roar had hit the book and that roar had exploded a breath later.

“Wow.”

More and more explosions triggered in a chain reaction. The book had caused all of the roar’s power to appear right there and explode.

All of its energy was slammed into the person in the large mobile shell.

“Ow, ow, ow. That has got to hurt.”

Only after saying that did she realize her vision could see a warning lernen figur in the sky behind her.

What is this?

“Artillery?”

Onitakemaru: “Look where you’re going!”

“But, um, uh.”

The shell was definitely aimed for their allied unit. So…

“They haven’t noticed!”

Onitakemaru: “I am aware of that!”

Onitakemaru shouted back.

Onitakemaru: “We already knew some of the others would take damage! You must focus on what you can do as a name inheritor!”

The warning behind her grew even louder.

When she heard that incoming shell alert, she looked at her own hands.

They were not all that large. As tall as she was, her hands, feet, and face were ordinary sized. But she made up her mind while looking at that white skin.

“Onitakemaru-san. I am sorry.”

Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”

She did not hear him out to the end. She immediately spun herself around, twisting her body through the air.

This is going to hurt!

The shell scored a direct hit.


The M.H.R.R. assault unit heard a loud crash of impact.

Sakon had been running alongside them and charging toward the enemy unit, but now she had been slammed into the ground behind them.

“Sakon-sama!?”

They knew what had happened.

She had noticed the incoming shell and risked her own wellbeing to protect them.

They all gasped at the intensity of the hit.

She had been hit by a shell once already, so she had been working to catch up with them on her own. That would be why she had noticed the shell before they did. They had been distracted by the anti-imperial unit they were pursuing, so those in the rear of their formation were only now reacting to the shell.

If she had not done something, those in the rear would have been hit.

They were all safe, but that meant that Sakon was not.

The countless sounds of impact and bending metal reverberated deep within each and every one of them.

“Dammit!”

The few beginning to raise defense barriers toward the sky in the back of their ranks squeezed out their voices.

“She didn’t have to do that for us!”

Sakon lay collapsed on the ground that had been badly torn up by the blast.

“Sakon-sama!”

She was not moving. From this distance, they could not even tell if she was still in one piece. However…

“…!”

They made sure to bow toward her once before facing forward again.

“Let’s go!”

“Testament,” they replied while launching themselves forward.

“We have to do enough to warrant her protection, boys and girls!”

As if responding to their cries, ether light scattered across the southern field behind them.

The Testament copy hit by Komaoumaru’s beam explosion had been completely destroyed.


Tomoe Gozen saw it happen.

The roar had exploded after hitting the Testament copy barrier.

That attack had to have come at the best possible time.

She wished she could have directly hit him from below, but that would have allowed the roar beam to reach her. So she had instead caused it to detonate. However…

“Yoshinaka!”

She could see that enormous mobile shell past the ether light smoke.

He had taken damage. Some of the armor had shattered and a few of the artificial muscles on the surface had snapped.

But he was moving.

He has excellent instincts.

Did that come from the mobile shell’s program or the ghost’s memories?

In a split-second decision, he had used his right arm.

That was the arm she had struck to keep him from using it. He had pushed it against the hammer.

Not bad.

That had forcibly pushed the hammer down.

The hammer had supported his right arm from below like a cane and he had used that arm to push his body.

He had only managed to move a single step.

But that had made the point-blank explosion only a close-range one.

The blast had hit him, but not as directly. Plus…

“…!”

He unleashed a second roar.

She had just slammed her right hammer into the ground behind her, so she could not stand back up right away. However…

“Are you stupid?” she said. “I said you can blow yourself up ‘first of all’, Yoshinaka.”

She took action. She pulled her body in toward the hammer behind her on the right and slid her right leg back. She crouched down on her right leg to give herself more momentum upon moving forward.

“Ohh!”

And she forcibly pulled her left arm back toward her.

She held something in that left hand.

“Do you know why I let go of your right arm!?”

It was her left hammer.

He had been using it like a cane, so it was standing up as she pulled it back. The striking head was lifted up in between them.

“–––––”

The roar beam scored a direct hit on that striking head.

The hit area immediately exploded. And in that moment…

“You can blow yourself up second of all too, Yoshinaka.”

She used the power built up in her right leg to spring forward.

She swung her body forward and slammed the left hammer into him.

The hammer’s explosion was driven into her opponent like an augmented hammer strike.

It worked.

She seemingly pushed the explosion into him.

It was going to hit.

But in that instant, he made a certain move.

“Ah.”

She had seen this a few times in the past. He twisted his body to dodge while falling back.

She focused on that old idiosyncrasy and habit.

Oh, no.

She was distracted for that one crucial moment.


Tomoe Gozen realized it too late.

She had made her attack with her full strength and it should have hit. The explosion would damage her too, but she had been willing to accept that if it would defeat him.

But nostalgia had created an opening.

She had not seen that movement before and that was one of the reasons she had assumed this mobile shell was not really Yoshinaka, but now he had done it.

Did he have his memories, or had the program simply figured that out as an optimized movement for his skeleton?

She did not know.

But she had held back in her attack upon seeing that familiar movement.

It had surprised her because it happened so abruptly.

And because…

Because she had wanted to believe its absence meant this enemy was merely a program-controlled mobile shell and not Yoshinaka himself.

But after seeing that movement, she had hesitated.

And so it hit her.

While he fell back, he used the reaction of his backwards movement to send out his left arm.

He swung that large sword.

He had distanced himself from the explosion positioned right in front of her.

And instead, he sent his sword in along a diagonal slash from the left.

He had not entirely dodged the explosion. He was prepared to take the close-range blast to get in this attack.

“Kh.”

She pushed her left hand’s hammer toward his sword.

She would be launched backwards by the impact, but she would technically dodge the blast.

Which one would be more injured afterwards? And more importantly…

Please make it in time.

But it was too late.

She had created an opening and he had continued resisting throughout. That allowed his blade to reach her.

“Oh?”

But just before it did, a kick from the left slammed into her face and sent her flying.


What are you doing!?

After crossing the city wall and racing along the grass, Mitotsudaira saw Unturning Centipede kick Tomoe Gozen through the air

Narumi must have been trying to support the woman.

That was why she had crossed the city wall and glided on over, but…

Unturning: “I can’t say I expected her to suddenly raise her hammer and pull herself toward it.”

Uqui: “Out of curiosity, what was your plan assuming she did not do that?”

Unturning: “To block that weird beam with my leg. I can replace my leg easily enough after all.”

Mar-Ga: “I seem to recall someone kicking Tomoe Gozen through the air at Magdeburg.”

Tonbokiri: “I did not kick her. I was trying to stop myself and her face just so happened to be in the way. So it does not count.”

Almost Everyone: “Yes, it does!”

Have we been inadvertently picking a fight with the Protestants? But…

“Oh.”

A chain reaction of explosions began.

Narumi had moved too far west, so the hammer was behind her as it exploded in front of Yoshinaka.

Pieces of his metal frame were launched skyward, but he reacted.

The force of the explosion pushed his swung sword back.

“…!”

And he launched a horizontally sweeping beam toward Narumi.

As soon as Narumi dodged out of the way, Mitotsudaira saw explosions race out across the path of the beam.

I should be able to leave that to Narumi.

She had to continue north to reach the Nagaoka estate while catching up to Tomoe Gozen’s unit, which was falling back in a defensive formation, and the enemy assault unit, which was pursuing them while angled diagonally.

The enemy fired on Tomoe Gozen’s unit while occasionally charging in at them.

With each sound of impact, Tomoe Gozen’s unit would collapse more. And based on the extent of that…

“They will be in trouble if this keeps up.”

At this pace, the enemy assault unit would have greatly worn down Tomoe Gozen’s unit by the time they arrived at the Nagaoka estate.

She had to stop that if she was to support her king. Because…

“Protecting Tomoe Gozen is my duty here!”

She sprinted forward to attack the rear of the enemy ranks.

“Here I go!”

She held two Silver Chains in each hand, all of which held a sword. Those were mandible swords Narumi had given her.

With four fangs and spares hanging at her hips, the wolf pursued the enemy.

She was worried about her ally facing Minamoto no Yoshinaka behind her, but that was Date’s Vice Chancellor. She was as cement-like as any of the classmates Mitotsudaira had known for much longer. So…

“This is in your hands, Narumi!”


Narumi had already begun her battle.

Her opponent was Minamoto no Yoshinaka.

She had begun this duel after having weary Tomoe Gozen fall back to the city wall, but…

He has such accurate movements.

He was enormous, but his balance control and footwork were surprisingly precise.

Had he developed the technique needed to fight opponents smaller than him?

This certainly isn’t going to be a boring fight, she concluded. She turned to place her right leg out front and held his actions in check while stepping forward to make an attack of her own.

Lady AM: “Hey! Are you sure you can handle this after barging in out of nowhere!?”

Unturning: “Can you explain to me how you intended to survive that and how you intended to win after losing one of your weapons?”

Lady AM: “What would you do if I could explain that?”

Unturning: “I would say ‘I see’.”

That woman could not deal with this opponent right now.

That had been obvious from watching Tomoe Gozen earlier and Narumi could sense it all the more now that she was facing the enemy herself.

I can just barely keep up with two swords.

He made very frequent attacks.

You would think he would swing his sword wide given how large it was, but he moved himself along with his attacks to never stay in one place for long. He also switched which hand held the weapon to slash back and forth very rapidly.

“And that roar!”

A blast of light swept horizontally toward her.

She pulled her left foot back and made a backwards turn before dodging.

She avoided it.

The problem was the explosion that light produced after a short delay. That meant she had to dodge the initial attack and then worry about the secondary attack that would soon arrive.

It was really annoying to have that double attack contained within a single enemy.

Fighting him made him feel like he had no openings.

So I’ll have to create an opening for myself.

There were two ways of doing that.

The first was to increase her mobility, continue circling around his attacks, and make her move when he missed.

The second was to attack more often, stop his attacks, and make her move then.

She chose the latter. She raised her right sword in front of her to hold his movements in check while she moved in. However…

He sure is fast.

The hand switching and the constant movement allowed him to respond to both her mandible swords.

But when he used that roar cannon of his, she had a chance to attack.

The enemy had three forms of attack.

Tomoe Gozen had had an advantage in knowing him very well.

Makes sense, decided Narumi. So…

Unturning: “Tomoe Gozen. Can I ask something of you?”

Lady AM: “What is it? Do you want to know how to attack Yoshinaka?”

“No,” she replied before making her real request.

Unturning: “If I give you a mandible sword, will you take my place here?”


Gold Mar: “Changing her mind already?”

Uqui: “Incredible, Narumi. I didn’t think you would even opt out of battle if it was too much of a pain.”

Flat Vassal: “Um, this isn’t like cleaning up your room.”


“I am not a swordswoman,” replied Tomoe Gozen with a sigh. “We can come up with another idea if you cannot defeat him.”

She was honestly exhausted. As a ghost, she did not experience much physical exhaustion, but the emotions and mind that supported her spectral body, which was a data entity, were tired. She could tell that now that she had a chance to relax, but…

I can’t move for a while now.

I’ve grown too soft, she thought while watching Narumi and Yoshinaka’s battle.

That was Date Narumi. She had never before seen the Date Vice Chancellor fight in person. Sviet Rus and P.A. Oda existed between M.H.R.R. Protestant territory and Date territory, so she did not know much about that clan.

But the way she used a mobile shell to fight was fascinating.

This was a battle between two swift opponents with long reaches. A lot had changed from when she was fighting.

When Narumi rushed in with her right sword out in front…

Yoshinaka responds differently.

Was that the mobile shell program adapting? He used larger sweeping motions than against her, but those attacks and movements were probably about right for a mobile shell opponent.

Tomoe Gozen was curious about the quick changes to his fighting style.

Her curiosity was centered on how much of Yoshinaka was in there.

Some ghosts had memories and some did not.

The ghosts that M.H.R.R.’s Maeda Toshiie summoned with money were weak spirits that would have found peace without the money, so they had almost no memories.

Similarly, weak spirits could reside in objects and begin acting like that object based on the ‘mold’ of that object’s memories. Most automaton souls were like that, as were most Tsukumogamis.

For mass-production and quality control purposes, automatons would first have a soul mold prepared that was well suited for the body. That mold would be exposed to the ley lines and the ether would be concentrated into a soul, or an existing soul would be placed within.

Someone’s soul might reside in their own possessions or remains after death and that could also be used as the “core”, but…

“What about you?”

Which was it for Yoshinaka, and how much of his mind and memories remained?

His previous actions and movements were hard to judge from because of the optimization being made from his skeleton, but also…

I have so many emotions tied up in this question that I can’t trust my own opinion.

Lady AM: “Date Vice Chancellor, I have a question.”

Unturning: “What might that be? I am kind of busy at the moment.”

Lady AM: “Do you think that opponent has a mind and emotions of his own?”

She received an immediate response.

Unturning: “Have you considered what you want to do after you receive my answer?”

Tomoe Gozen froze at that. After a moment, she scratched the side of her head.

I forgot about that.

That was true.

This was not a test she was being graded on.

She had to decide for herself what she would do once she knew the answer.

In that case, she thought while raising her remaining hammer in front of her.

Lady AM: “Do it.”

Unturning: “No need to ask. That was already the plan.”

Lady AM: “And if I ask anyway?”

“Well,” said the girl.

Unturning: “I will say ‘I see’.”

“But,” she continued.

Unturning: “I will make sure to defeat him.”

So…

Unturning: “You think about what you want to do once you see the result.”


Chapter 78: Answerer at the Calculation Site[edit]

Horizon7C 0715.jpg

Instead of following

Someone else’s path

Give me what

I want now

Point Allocation (Victory)


Tomoe Gozen saw the grass scattering in the wind.

Two giant forms had begun a rapid interaction: Yoshinaka and Date Narumi’s mobile shells.

Their footwork crushed the grass and packed down the dirt, producing tremors.

They tried to circle behind each other, attacked with and dodged swords, and made backhanded strikes.

From an outside perspective, one would block the view of the other and they moved too quickly to follow.

Even now, Narumi was leaping forward while turning her right side forward. She appeared to be pulling in her sword, but…

I can’t catch any of the details.

She was probably trying to tear into Yoshinaka’s joints.

Tomoe Gozen had been a part of that speed earlier, but it was so hard to follow while on the outside. That was just how precise Yoshinaka’s movements were and how he did not resort to brute force to keep the exchange going.

Tomoe Gozen felt like Narumi had the disadvantage here.

Because…

Their mobile shells are different.

Yoshinaka was wearing a mobile shell, but his own frame was large too. The shell provided power assistance and armor. It was a lot like wearing a suit of armor.

But Narumi was the size of an ordinary human. The mobile shell fully covered her feet and head, so there was a size difference between her and the shell.

That meant there were no direct reactions and feedback between shell and body.

When she planted her foot on the ground, the foot of the shell would cushion the impact and transfer it up the shell’s leg.

That was a harsh handicap in a battle where speed and reactions were everything.

She had to be using as many spells and divine protections as possible to assist her evasions and movements and Tomoe Gozen thought she was doing pretty well for herself.

But looking at this really says something to me.

Her era had been so wild and rough.

After all, Yoshinaka’s mobile shell assisted the movements of his skeleton, but it did not boost his muscular strength. Even the reactive divine protections and spells were only replacements for his original reflexes.

That meant he was fighting the Date Vice Chancellor in her cutting-edge mobile shell while little different from how he had been without any assistance back in the day.

That explained why M.H.R.R. and Hashiba had wanted him so badly.

“Only they would be able to manage this kind of battle power.”

Meanwhile, more grass scattered in the wind.

In the battle beyond it, the amount of flying sparks grew.

Both combatants were attacking more often, sending solid sounds of impact into the air.

They both sped up and moved in closer.

Their battle became an exchange of close-range attacks.


Four elements are intensifying this battle, thought Narumi.

The first was speed.

The second was strength.

The third was technique.

And the fourth was competition.

She considered those four elements in relation to Yoshinaka.

Which ones were her advantage and which of his advantages could she take away from him?

“Honestly.”

To test herself, she stepped forward with her right side out in front and made a jab with the mandible swords in her two hands.

She made seven near-simultaneous strikes with both sides.

But before those attacks could reach the gaps in his armor, the enemy deflected them with his blade and with his armor.

He’s rough but accurate.

He did a splendid job of using his armor to defend.

Normally, armor was meant to block unexpected hits. It was insurance in case the enemy caught you by surprise while you were attacking or evading.

But this opponent was different.

He moved his arm, shoulder, and chest armor alongside her blade and had her hit it.

So he deflected her attacks with his armor.

That proactive defense was meant to create an opening in the enemy’s defenses that he could then attack.

That was obvious enough to her.

He would only fight one or two battles of this type on this battlefield, so instead of carefully preserving his armor, he made use of it with the intent of wearing it out.

And after he did, he would wield his own power, so she made her own move.

“We make a good match.”

Her deflected arms left her open to attack, so she purged her forearms and resummoned them along with the mandible swords. A moment later, she made a jab with her newly-summoned arms.

“…!”

A roar erupted directly ahead of her, so she sent her left foot back to dodge with the least possible movement.

Now this is unpleasant.

She had come to understand something after fighting him for a bit, having her swords deflected, and attacking anew.

Uqui: “Hey, Narumi. Things are sounding pretty stagnant over there.”

Unturning: “I am trying not to upstage you too much.”

And…

Unturning: “You’ve noticed too, haven’t you?”

Uqui: “The movements sound identical.”

“Yes,” replied Narumi while sighing within Unturning Centipede.

Unturning: “Minamoto no Yoshinaka’s mobile shell was built with Date clan technology.”


“Testament! Yes! It’s your beloved Katakura-kun! It’s time for a one-two-three divine transmission made from our love! And to be clear, the relative weights of our loves makes it 80% mine and 20% yours! …Huh!? Oh, it’s only you, Narumi-kun! Don’t send me a divine transmission when I’m about to start a passionate speech about self-love! I’m gonna hang up, okay!? I mean it! Right this instant! I swear I am! I’m totally hanging up! Just you wait! Are you sure you want that!? I’m serious! Almost there, just a biiiit longer and- hey, don’t hang up on me!”


Uqui: “So how’d it go?”

Unturning: “There was an HR-related malfunction in the divine transmission connection, so I couldn’t get through.”

“But,” she continued while using a snapping motion to send in a strike from the right.

Unturning: “When Kojirou took his second inherited name and when Komahime was married, Date exchanged some things with Hashiba. When it comes to weapons, Date wanted aerial ship technology and Hashiba wanted god of war and mobile shell technology.”

Novice: “That sure was generous of you.”

Unturning: “Using Date technology requires a fairly high level of steel refinement technique. Obtaining Orei Metallo at the former site of Novgorod does not guarantee they can make usable components out of it, right?”

So…

Unturning: “We concluded we would have developed new technology of our own and closed the gap by the time they caught up on that front.”

Vice President: “But then M.H.R.R. conquered K.P.A. Italia.”

“I knew you would catch on,” said Narumi while catching some blade sparks on her armor.

Unturning: “IZUMO’s steel brand BIZEN is located south of M.H.R.R., so they began to provide technological support to M.H.R.R. after that. They had apparently been fairly cooperative even before that, but once M.H.R.R. could overpower everyone else in the area, they almost completely capitulated. That probably wouldn’t have happened if Hexagone Française had fought back sooner.”

But BIZEN’s capitulation must have only barely come in time.

Katakura would have been gathering the information, but it would have been managed by…

Unturning: “Niwa, since she was working as the negotiator with Date.”

Niwa had fought at Novgorod, but she must have acquired what she needed for her nation even before that.

Ironic that it was showing up here while Niwa was so close by.

Unturning: “The other mobile shell likely uses Date technology as well.”

Flat Vassal: “Um, but how can you tell?”

Unturning: “Due to the snowy environment, Date motors tend to use a lot of sealed and closely-connected parts and they use the exhaust to warm the parts. They also have a unique sound since they use Orei Metallo.”

Mar-Ga: “But M.H.R.R. is known for their mobile shells too. Why would they need another nation’s tech?”

Unturning: “I said they’re built for a snowy environment, didn’t I? That means they enclose the wearer in a sealed container. Compared to the open-design shells that only surround the wearer, ours provide higher-quality sensory devices and divine protection control. But…”

She had seen something here.

Unturning: “He is a ghost.”

The enemy’s mobile shell used an open style, but some parts of the armor was just as dense as the sealed variety in order to contain the bluish-white ether light.

Unturning: “They normally provide sensory and movement assistance and the reaction feedback divine protections are provided using conduits or fold-up charm slips. That technology has been modified to instead provide the divine protections needed to seal a ghost in the shell.”

The open design could not do that.

But a fully sealed deign must have been too difficult at that size, so the ether was held in place at various points across the shell. That was probably Maeda Toshiie’s technique.

And either way…

Unturning: “Now that I know this, I must correct Date’s mistake.”

Narumi stepped forward.

She forcibly leaped toward Yoshinaka.


Don’t rush like that!

That was Tomoe Gozen’s opinion of Narumi’s leap.

She could tell Narumi had sped up.

She was using the flight thrusters on her back. The instant Yoshinaka sent his large sword in from the right was when she had previously sent her blade back at it, but this time she had moved forward.

However, Yoshinaka was not going to overlook that change in her movement.

Tomoe Gozen knew that much after dueling with him earlier.

Narumi caught his sword on her left blade and jabbed her right blade toward his gut.

Since she had moved forward, her left mandible sword scraped at his elbow armor instead of his sword.

Tomoe Gozen saw Narumi’s next movement build up on that as a foundation.

First, her left mandible sword slipped past the inner edge of the sword in Yoshinaka’s right hand.

Her sword held him in check and prevented him from swinging his sword inward.

Meanwhile, he used the armor on his right elbow and side to seize her left sword as if biting down on it.

And he twisted.

Nevertheless, she struck at his side with her right blade.

His response began with footwork. He moved his right leg back and swung his left foot forward and right to make a step.

That twisted his hips to his right.

The twist reached her left arm and the blade he was holding at his side.

She let go of the sword and purged her left arm in midair.

And he made an evasion.

He used the footwork-based twist of his hips to move his upper body.

He bent his body to the side and away from Narumi’s blade.

Tomoe Gozen recognized this method of evasion.


Oh.

Tomoe Gozen watched the action play out.

This was his unique method of evasion.

That isn’t the mobile shell doing that.

She had not understood it while dueling and sparring with him, but that motion was reliant on the legs he moved forward and back.

He created more clearance in his skeletal structure to prepare for the rest of the movement.

He decided how he wanted to move and then built it into his actions.

It was probably designed for when someone moved in close. He must have prepared it as an ace up his sleeve to ensure victory. And…

“Victory against me.”

He had used that against her during training 500 years ago. That had been the starting line for them all. He was now a ghost that had forgotten everything, and yet…

He remembers that!

But the battle continued.

A Vice Chancellor would be able to react to that instantaneous movement.

Narumi had already responded.

She had moved in close and accelerated so she could respond no matter how he tried to evade.

She had closed the gap between them so the enemy could not escape.

She took a longer step to make up for the bending of his body.

Her blade was going to hit him.

But his left hand shot forward.

By bending his body, his left hand had lowered in front of her blade.

Gauntleted bony fingers grasped the mandible sword.

He seized it by force.

And he faced forward.

He unleashed a roar.

Meanwhile, her right sword was held in place. Tomoe Gozen saw him make a slight movement where he was holding it.

It was a vibration. He gathered his strength and shook the hand holding the blade.

That passed through the sword and lightly shook Narumi’s mobile shell.

That was enough.

Whether evading or whatever else, she would need an initial movement to do it, but he had sent a small vibration into her just when she was going to do that.

He unbalanced her.

At this level of combat, any interference with your movements was a real threat. If she tried to move now, it was all over, so this kept her from moving.

“Wait!”

Before Tomoe Gozen could shout “that’s too dangerous”, Narumi made a movement her mobile shell could make even while unbalanced.

Tomoe Gozen saw a light.

Even with her movement prevented, there was something that interference could not stop.

She used the thrusters on her back.

Light burst out for an instant and the mobile shell blasted forward.

She made a short jump.

But her right hand was slow to move thanks to the unbalancing, so her body only lifted up on the left.

That was good enough.

The left arm she had purged earlier was there.

She reattached that left arm in midair and clenched its fist.

“…!”

The metal attack slammed into Yoshinaka’s mouth and the roar was released a moment later.

The light shattered upon hitting the mobile shell’s fist.

It could not take flight.

Meanwhile, Narumi once more purged her left arm at the shoulder. And…

“Have a taste of your own medicine.”

The chain reaction of explosions erupted right in front of Yoshinaka’s face.


Tomoe Gozen saw the attack Narumi had made.

But she soon noticed what happened next.

Neither of them stopped moving.

With her right sword free once more, Narumi summoned her left arm and adjusted her distance from the enemy as she landed.

Meanwhile, Yoshinaka made his move within the smoky explosion of the ether light.

“–––––!”

His voice shook the morning ground as mere noise.

And Narumi made her next move.

He rotated his cry down from the sky to the earth and spread his arms.

The armor on his face had broken.

Bone was visible below. It was a skull. It had been hardened to protect it and it was whiter than expected.

He was dead.

Tomoe Gozen felt like this was simultaneously what she had most wanted to see and what she had least wanted to see.

But his body was still moving.

He slammed the sword in his right hand toward Narumi as she approached.

He was fast. This was clearly faster than before.

The movement was accompanied by a popping of metal. The power system and artificial muscles within his mobile shell had burst as they tried to supply the movement he wanted.

These were no longer the movements of a man. He unleashed the strength of a wounded animal.

He was a mindless soul. Without the memories and words needed to restrain his strength, he had exploded with a power that surpassed the limits of his structure.

There was no hesitation in the movement. He had simply predicted Narumi’s action and swung his sword in response.

Meanwhile, Tomoe Gozen saw Narumi’s choice.

Narumi made two decisions.

First, she chose not to wield two swords.

She placed both hands on her right sword to abandon one sword’s weight and gain more speed.

She could no longer use the extra defense and quick rate of attacks the two swords had given her. This new stance showed she was prepared to let it all came down to a single attack from both sides.

And she made another decision as well.

“The left!?”

For the first time in this battle, she stepped forward with her left leg first.


Narumi decided it all came down to this.

She had made sure to always start with her right foot during this battle.

When falling back, she had always used her left foot to keep her right one out front.

She had never made a single attack from the left.

She had a single reason for doing so.

This let her use her full strength when the enemy made their final attack.

For her final attack, she would launch an attack the enemy could not respond to.

She stepped forward and made another decision.

“Paths of Countless Hundreds!”

She repeatedly ejected new legs for rapid mobility. She used that momentum to slip past her enemy’s sword.

Hit him!

She sent out a high-speed attack from essentially point-blank range.

Then she saw the enemy’s decision via Untuning Centipede’s sight.

She had seen that footwork before. It was the twisting rotation that had avoided her earlier attack.

“…!”

He pulled it off at the price of breaking his own artificial muscles and power system.

This was not a human or animal movement. It was only possible because he was a skeleton inside there.

His upper body twisted approximately 180 degrees around at the waist.

She could not hit him.

He had smashed his own body enough to move it out of the way of her sword.

The horizontal slash slipped right through the gap.

The sword pressure did hit him, but…

He dodged it!

The enemy swung his own sword in that very instant, but it was directed sideways rather than toward her.

It hit the ground.

He used the large sword like a staff to prop his broken self up.

And he turned his face toward her.

Even his head had turned 180 degrees around.

Meanwhile, she was controlling Paths of Countless Hundreds. She turned her back thrusters around to face him directly. Instead of stopping herself while at such great speed, she threw herself forward in the air to collide with him.

If he tried to run out of the way, he would only put distance between them, which would work against him as he used himself as a cannon. Plus…

He’s already starting to recover his functions.

When a mobile shell or god of war lost a portion of its functions, it would combine its other functions to recover the lost ones. Some, like the Seiryu, could even repair their own functions.

As far as she could see, his body was regaining strength by the second.

The surviving pieces of his power system and artificial muscles were linked together to use them in place of the broken and torn pieces to recover that functionality. He would eventually recover, even if not to his best condition.

If she was going to defeat him, it had to be now. So…

“Stop!”

She blasted her thrusters into the ground. She upped the directionality to make it something like a spike and sent Unturning Centipede right into the shockwave.

She stopped, but she was a little too far away. It would take Unturning Centipede another step and a half.

But she knew what the enemy was trying to do: roar.

She also knew what she had to do. After stopping…

“Unturning Centipede!” she shouted while judging her distance from the enemy. “Summer break begins now!”


Tomoe Gozen heard a roar.

Having turned himself into a cannon emplacement, Yoshinaka released light. But Narumi’s mobile shell was not close enough to stop it.

She had very nearly made it, but she would need to take another step and a half for her sword to reach and to effectively hit him with his own explosions.

The roar raced out.

“…!”

The light pursued it along a direct path toward the throat of Narumi’s mobile shell.

It hit.

That was an accurate description.

The beam of light escaping Yoshinaka’s mouth scored a direct hit on Narumi’s mobile shell.

But Tomoe Gozen saw a blossoming flower.

That was the mobile shell. Narumi had separated from it and opened the entire front of it.

“Kh.”

Narumi let the opening armor push her forward and collapsed out.

At the same moment, the roar beam hit the spot where her face had just been.

And after collapsing forward, she made a leap.

“Unturning Centipede!”

The mobile shell tossed over the sword in its right hand.

As soon as she caught the mandible sword from midair, the mobile shell exploded.

The blast reverberated out, the wind roared, and all the noise echoed off of the morning city wall.

But Tomoe Gozen’s eyes were on the Date Vice Chancellor’s sword.

“Ohhh!”

It crashed into Yoshinaka’s throat so soon after his roar.


Narumi finally took a breath.

Behind her, Unturning Centipede collapsed over with its arms raised after being destroyed and triggering a secondary explosion. It almost seemed to be applauding her actions.

“Have a nice vacation, Unturning Centipede.”

In front of her, Minamoto no Yoshinaka was watching her.

She was standing behind him, so he looked up and to the left as if to remove the blade stabbed into his throat.

“…”

The enormous figure fell to his knees while the mandible sword slipped from his neck.

Then he fully collapsed to the ground. And…

“Yoshinaka!”

She heard Tomoe Gozen’s voice. And footsteps.

Was she running this way? She could hear the rustling of the grass. But…

Huh?

Narumi saw something.

A bluish-white light was rising from the ground below the grass. What was that?

Could it be!?

She turned toward Tomoe Gozen and sprang toward the woman.

She was willing to tackle the woman if need be. And sure enough, her shoulder slammed into her.

“You can’t!”

“I can’t!?”

Just as Tomoe Gozen questioned it, something appeared.

It was an arm. Giant fingers and a giant palm made from gathered bones appeared. Then the wrist and forearm suddenly grew from the morning ground.

This is Maeda Toshiie’s Kaga Millionen Geist!


Narumi saw a hand of bluish-white ether light grab Yoshinaka’s entire body from below.

The powerful arm gripped his giant form and mobile shell as if to crush them.

“Yoshinaka!”

Tomoe Gozen’s cry echoed vainly through the air as everything vanished before her eyes.

It only took a moment.

The ether light scattered into nothingness and the giant arm was gone, as was Yoshinaka.

“Gwah.”

Tomoe Gozen groaned as if in pain while still trying to lift up the man who was no longer there.

But she inhaled, paused, and looked up.

After waiting three breaths, she moved away with eyes closed.

Had she come to terms with something inside herself? She tapped thrice on Narumi’s shoulder and spoke a single word.

“Sorry.”

“I do not deserve an apology or thanks for this.”

Narumi took a breath of her own.

That was not a pleasant result.

The enemy had gotten away and Unturning Centipede had been destroyed. She wanted to collapse to her knees over that, but…

“I suppose a pain-in-the-rear beginning was bound to result in a pain-in-the-rear ending,” said Tomoe Gozen before looking north.

Artillery fire continued in the sky while gunfire and other attacks were used to pursue the anti-imperial unit withdrawing to the north.

The battle was not over yet.


Mitotsudaira moved in closer to the enemy.

The anti-imperials and imperials were both a mobile shell unit. Naturally, they had high mobility and were fast. But…

My king made a request!

The odors of spell gunpowder and scorched metal reached her lungs as she ran. The scent of dewy grass joined it.

She sniffed at those olfactory elements and realized it smelled different from Kantou.

If anything, it was a more nostalgic smell. Hexagone Française was not all that close by, but it was not all that far either. The climate and vegetation were similar here.

Also, she was surrounded by the trees of a forest.

“This is far from an away game for me.”

She sped up. She bent her legs to bring her feet up to hip height and then launched them forward.

“Here I go!”


Chapter 79: Reviewing Girls at the Confrontation Ground[edit]

Horizon7C 0739.jpg

Are you at peace now?

Point Allocation (August 28, 1197)


The M.H.R.R. imperial assault unit saw it coming.

“That’s Musashi’s silver wolf!”

Someone in the Far Eastern uniform of Musashi was running toward them. Plus, she held a total of four mandible swords in her Silver Chains and her hands.

She was making a one-girl charge with that equipment to stop them.

“Damn,” they said since they were pursuing an enemy of their own. “This is a bad time to be surrounded!”

They had been angled to the west so they could withdraw at any time, but they had already arrived northwest of Nördlingen and Mitsunari’s unit was approaching from the east. If they could survive this, they could surround the enemy from the east and west in front of the Nagaoka estate north of Nördlingen.

“Keep going!” shouted the unit commander.

Once the decision had been made, it did not take them long to act. Their diagonally-angled formation straightened out to a direct north-south orientation.

“If anything happens, we withdraw to the southwest! Got that!?”

“Testament,” they replied while a few of them took the lead. They used their thrusters to charge toward the enemy formation up ahead.

Gunfire and defense spears clashed and defense barriers shattered.

The din of battle sounded while enemy and ally exchanged words.

“Break, damn you!”

“Shut up!” shouted back the enemy while pointing behind them all. “Look! The Musashi 5th Special Duty Officer is catching up! You’re screwed!”

“Look, look, look! She’s here, she’s totally here!”

“Hey, everyone! Check out these terrified mobile shells!”

The imperial unit clenched and raised their fists in anger while doing as much as they could.

“God, i-it pisses me off so much that they’re not even fighting for themselves!!”

But the truth of the matter caught up to them soon enough.

Musashi’s silver wolf was closing in on them.

“Fight back!”

They fired their guns, but the silver wolf suddenly vanished.

Only grass scattered in the air at the center of their vision. And…

“To the left!”

That warning came from one of those using a targeting spell.

When they heard him, the others looked to the left.

A silhouette stood on the grassy field there, but it was not the wolf.

“A mandible sword!?”

A mandible sword with a Silver Chain wrapped around the hilt stood there while dully vibrating.

And the chain extended up into the morning sky.

“Above!”

She had jumped to the side, stabbed the mandible sword into the ground with a chain, and used that to jump off of.

It was devastating that she had taken two actions so quickly and that she had moved above them without warning. No one could respond in time.

They simply looked upwards to see the silver wolf swinging both her arms while flipped upside down.

She rapidly threw two swords, and at the same time…

“Tear into them, Silver Chains!”

The one blade was pulled from the ground and the final sword joined it as the chains swung them horizontally.

That made four attacks from four directions, above, below, left, and right. They opened defense barriers, but no one knew who should respond to which attacks.

“…!”

The swords scored direct hits and the sounds of tearing flesh and breaking bone shook the air.


Just as the M.H.R.R. imperial assault unit expected to be hit by the silver wolf’s attack, they saw something else.

Someone rushed in between them and the attack.

It was a slender but tall figure.

“Sakon-sama!?”

That ultra-tall girl spread her arms and legs so the blades stabbed into and pierced through her joints, muscle, and bone.

The vermilion swords caused her bones to shatter and her blood to spray.

“…!”

But she did not collapse.

Her large body swayed and her arms swung weakly to keep her balance.

“Hh.”

A tense gasp escaped her lips, but she held firm.

She remained standing.

Then the color vermilion appeared in their vision.

One of the mandible swords had burst out of her back.

The silver wolf had thrown another blade for good measure and it had pierced through Sakon’s torso.

“Gah…ah!”

With her lung penetrated and her breathing stopped, the air escaped her throat.

But she did not fall.

Even after taking so much punishment, she did not give any ground. She could not stop the air escaping her after the attack to the gut, but…

“I can’t…let that happen.”

She moved with the five blades still piercing her body.

It was slow and she staggered a lot, but she moved forward.

“Sakon-sama!”

She did not look back or acknowledge their shouts in any way, but…

“I’m fine.”

She took another step forward.

“I am…fine.”

She stepped toward the silver wolf.


Mitotsudaira prepared for a fight.

She stopped moving, but she remained focused on her surroundings.

There was one thing she had to focus on most of all at the moment: the identity of the opponent in front of her. After all…

She has already taken two artillery hits!

Either one of those pseudo-anti-ship cannon blasts should have killed her instantly. Mitotsudaira had not seen the first, but the second had been a direct hit.

But while her inner suit was damaged, her actual body had been entirely unscathed when rushing in just now.

What did that mean?

Mitotsudaira had felt something odd in the tactile feedback when her four attacks had been blocked.

That was why she had thrown that fifth one, and that had confirmed her suspicions.

Specifically…

This Shima Sakon…actually did evade my attack.

But not by twisting around to avoid the blade altogether.

She had bent her body so the blade did not hit the breastplate of the mobile shell she wore.

Why would you do that?

What kind of person would choose to take damage to themselves over damage to their mobile shell?

Wouldn’t that just make the mobile shell a nuisance?

But that was what she had chosen.

That was why the five blades had pierced through her and left her body broken. The bones of her arms had been pulverized, so they bent down and swayed past the point where the blades were stabbed into them.

Yet she continued approaching on unsteady legs. It was slow and she drifted a bit to the left on her third step, but she was still trying to approach Mitotsudaira.

Mitotsudaira also saw Sakon’s hands moving. Her upper arms had been shattered and the arms were simply dangling down and swaying, but her white hands still tried to grab the hilts of the swords stabbed into her thighs.

She managed it. She could only make short snaps of her wrist, but by repeating the process a few times, she gradually worked at dislodging the blades.

There was no blood on the vermilion blades. Nor had any dripped down. But pulling the blades out was exposing some of the flesh within the gashes containing those blades.

“Hh!”

She nearly screamed, but swallowed it.

“Ah!”

And she did not stop trying to remove them.

Mitotsudaira realized something about that action.

She recognized it.

She knew what this opponent was.

“Are you-?”

She started to ask, but Sakon suddenly looked up.

The demonic-looking head of her mobile shell faced south.

“No!!”

Then that tall figure was blown away before Mitotsudaira’s eyes.

It was a cannon blast from the south.

The shell was meant for the imperial assault unit, but Sakon had jumped backwards into its path.

This was her third time receiving a direct hit.


The leap did not seem quite long enough, but Mitotsudaira saw something there.

She saw the shape of Sakon’s mouth below her helmet.

She’s smiling?

It had looked a lot like a smile of relief.

A moment later, the tall mobile shell was blasted into the air.

The force of the impact swung the blades around, causing them to slice through her body.

And Mitotsudaira saw a bloody mist envelop that chopped-up body.

In the blink of an eye, the bloody mist gathered around the damaged portions, and…

“She’s regenerating!”

Mitotsudaira arrived at a conclusion when she saw that body rapidly repairing itself.

She did know what this opponent was. Or rather, she knew what ability this was.

“You can regenerate just like Rudolf II, can’t you!?”

After flying a dozen or so meters, Sakon rolled across the grass and into the forest.


Onitakemaru understood everything now.

The first time, he had not understood a thing.

The second time, the little girl had already been running by the time he adjusted and rebooted.

And this third time, he had seen it all for the first time.

Onitakemaru: “Little girl!”

She did not respond, but…

“Kh.”

He could feel her entire body trembling from pain.

But there was nothing he could do for her. He probably did have a pain relief spell set up, but …

These are foreign spells!

The list was in German. A translation spell must have been in effect since it was displayed in broken Far Eastern, but they were displayed with the explanation preceding the name, which made searching difficult. What was he supposed to do? Well, he knew he had to find a random spell that looked like it was what he wanted and activate that. And yet…

Damn!

One of the spells had to be the best one and what if he activated a detrimental spell? He could not get past those concerns. And…

“Ow.”

A change came over her while she shed tears and gagged as she breathed.

Her injuries were not just severe, they were clearly fatal, but that damage began to repair itself.

Onitakemaru: “You can regenerate!?”

That had been a unique ability of certain species during his time, but right now, her body was heating up enough to produce steam and a bloody mist blew around her while her broken and split body was repaired.

This was clearly more specialized than the species-specific ability he knew.

Was she intentionally modified!?

Then he recalled what he had told her before.

Onitakemaru: “You said you’re from Austria, didn’t you?”

He had studied up on the nation he belonged to after waking up in this era. And instead of standard information, he had been given information only available to important figures like name inheritors.

Their leader was the M.H.R.R. Emperor and he was from the House of Habsburg.

Onitakemaru: “The Emperor is from Austria.”

And that man had a certain ability said to be from his House.

Onitakemaru: “I have heard he can regenerate in order to survive assassination attempts.”

That Emperor was here in the formation east of Nördlingen.

But Onitakemaru had heard something else about the Emperor.

He lacked a certain ability that this girl clearly had since she was so tense with pain.

Onitakemaru: “The M.H.R.R. Emperor has no sense of pain.”

Then what was she? He asked a question in order to figure that out.

Onitakemaru: “Were you a prototype used to help create the emperor?”


Sakon wept from the pain.

Ow, ow.

She did not like pain. In fact, she actively tried to avoid it. However…

“I can’t let that happen.”

She could not let anyone else feel this pain.

She in particular could not let that happen.

Onitakemaru: “What do you mean!?”

Oh, you were okay, Onitakemaru-san? This really hurts, but I’m glad. The beating of my heart feels like it’s shaking my arms enough to tear the nerves apart, but…

“Th-thank goodness.”

Onitakemaru: “Goodness!? You have been protecting me this whole time, haven’t you!?”

He yelled in her ear.

Onitakemaru: “You only pretended to have escaped unharmed while taking the hits for me, didn’t you!?”

He was right. But, she thought. That’s for the best.

Because…

“I’ve been like this since I was born. I lived in that facility for so long doing stuff like this.”


Sakon had been born in Austria.

She had been from an unimportant branch of an important family.

But she had apparently been born with “superior” traits. Or at least the people at the facility had said she was shockingly “superior”.

Except she had just one crucial “flaw”.

That flaw was pain.

But the family had needed to study her “superiority”.

So she had been brought to a castle deep in the mountains and made to feel pain more times than she could ever hope to count.

Her branch of the family had been too unimportant, so she had been separated from her parents to live there.

Fortunately, she had not known what a normal childhood was like. She had assumed that was how everyone lived and the other children who were occasionally brought there had felt no pain.

They had all offered up their flesh and blood like it was the done thing and they had been praised for it.

She had been the failure. The spells meant to reduce her pain had not worked. Her regeneration would immediately bring back her sense of pain and it would also sharpen that sense.

But no matter how much she cried and screamed, they had told her it was necessary.

Some of the doctors who came to see her had been brought to tears by her crying, and that had only made her feel all the more like she was doing something wrong.

Her regeneration must have been too powerful. She had grown abnormally tall and she had been different in other ways too. She had only been 7 when everyone had to look up at her in surprise.

She had felt like a failure and that had made her stubbornly want to continue with the research even though it hurt.

She had suddenly been kicked out of that life when she was 9.

They had told her the research had shown some results.

She had gone back to her parents, but they seemed to have grown so much shorter since she had last seen them.

She had always dreamed of the research finally ending.

She had dreamed of having her parents hug her like she saw the other children’s parents do since they had been allowed to accompany their children there. And she had wanted her parents to tell her she had done a good job.

That was all she would have needed to be satisfied.

She had once asked one of the other children what was so great about being hugged.

“When someone hugs you…well, you can feel their body heat. Oh, and you can feel their pulse,” the girl had said. “That’s really important. It reassures you that you’re someone’s child even though we can do all this. They say it’s that experience that will let us do the same for our own children in the future. Hee hee. We’ll have to make sure our heart hasn’t been shot through then, though.”

But her parents had been too short to hold her head to their chest. Worse, they had apologized.

No. That’s not…that’s not what I want to hear.

I worked so hard. It hurt, but I kept at it that whole time.

I wasn’t doing that because I wanted an apology.

At the time, she had only found one possible explanation.

I really am a failure.

She could also tell her parents were worried for her. Even if they did not see eye to eye (literally or figuratively), she could tell they cared for her. So…

“You don’t have to worry about it.”

She had wept while speaking those words. She had wept because she knew she could not stay with them. They had said she could, but knowing she would bring them more worries than anything else had filled her with a mixture of thankfulness and pain.

She had decided to return there only if she failed.

Their obvious worry for her told her they were not demanding she succeed. So she left home while confident they would still accept her even if she failed.

She had failed almost immediately after entering elementary school 5 years late. She had of course been bullied for being different, but her failure had come from using her strength.

Her regeneration had also increased her physical strength.

The other child’s body had easily broken, but it had all been covered up due to her family and the success of the research. Fortunately, after the injured child had made a full recovery, they had decided it was better to be her ally than her enemy. Having a retainer felt weird, but she had been the oldest one there. She had learned how to tread carefully so no one could try to borrow her supposed authority. Their teacher had praised her for acting as a balancer in the classroom and she had cried on her own later on because that was what she had wanted to hear.

And she had learned.

She must not touch things.

She must not want things.

She must protect things.

She was always with the others, but she could never take the initiative or touch anyone. Even when she saved them or helped them out, she could not expect any kind of thanks and, if they were going to get hurt, she had to take that role in their place.

She was used to pain. She knew how to endure it, so it made sense to her to accept it instead of letting anyone else have it.

She was a failure and she was always in the way, so it had seemed like a fair tradeoff to place all the danger on her own shoulders.

And now she had achieved that.

She had protected Onitakemaru and the assault unit. She had merely been careless the first time, but she had done it on purpose the second and third times.

She could not let any one of them be hurt.

“Thank goodness.”

It hurt. Her body was repairing itself with the swords still inside her, so the healing wounds were constantly slicing themselves back open on the blades.

“Hh.”

The blade stabbing into her stomach and piercing her lung felt gross because of the chill she felt in her diaphragm.

She felt pain, displeasure, and disgust, but…

“This is fine.”


You fool, thought Onitakemaru. This is not at all fine. So…

Onitakemaru: “How is this fine? This is nothing of the sort.”

“Because,” she said while clearly trying to keep the pain out of her voice. “You weren’t hurt, right?”

Onitakemaru: “What-”

He just about finished with “does that matter”, but her trembling voice cut him off.

“I noticed something…when I first put you on.”

Onitakemaru: “And what was that?”

She gasped as the blade in her right leg tilted and sliced its way out her leg.

“Ah,” she continued while clenching her teeth, but she finally managed to calm her heavy breathing once the blade had fully left her.

Only then could she answer his question.

“I could hear your pulse.”

He mentally tilted his head at that. He was a ghost, so he had no pulse.

But…

He was currently a data entity known as a ghost. He was made of ether. Ether had a current from the ley lines and it moved in something like waves. That could be heard from the mobile shell when the divine protections started up, but those waves were normally synced with the wearer and thus almost entirely eliminated.

She had only heard those waves because they were not properly synced.

But surely she could have heard a pulse from literally anyone else.

Onitakemaru: “Do you not have parents?”

Maybe I should not be prying so much. But…

“I do have a dad and a mom…but they’re both shorter than me.”

That was when it hit him: This little girl is a moron.

She must have never obtained many different things that everyone else took for granted. They must have slipped from her grasp due to some kind of misunderstanding. But…

“Kh.”

While she gasped and tried desperately to hold back the tears, he held her within him and recalled a moment from his own past.

His mind traveled 500 years back in time to his first child – to his daughter.


“Yoritomo and Shima Sakon have stopped moving.”

Narumi heard Tomoe Gozen’s comment while slowly standing up from the grassy field southwest of Nördlingen.

The woman was looking to the distant forest northwest of the city.

Nördlingen’s circular wall obstructed their view of that point.

The Mito Lord had rushed off toward the enemy in that direction, but…

“Another shell? Should we assume they were defeated?”

“Testament. That seems likely, but something is bothering me about this.”

“What is it?” asked Narumi, so Tomoe Gozen turned toward her and answered.

“It might come as a surprise, but Yoritomo has a soft spot for children.”

“For children?”

Narumi tilted her head while thinking back to the glimpse of the enemy she had gotten earlier.

“At that height, I doubt Shima Sakon is young enough to count as a child.”

“Then,” said Tomoe Gozen. “Have you ever heard that Yoritomo had a daughter?”

“I have, but I don’t know the details.”

She knew the family tree, but she did not know much more because…

“Didn’t she die young, before even marrying?”

“You make it sound like she was not worth remembering. And from a historical viewpoint, that is probably true.”

But…

“She did marry. But at the age of 6.”

That was awfully early. But at the time, the samurai government had yet to be established and the nobles tended to be in charge. To work your way into the imperial court and rule over a region of the Far East, it was best to get the political marriages done as quickly as possible.

But what did that matter now?

Wait, could it be?

Narumi’s intuition told her this bad feeling was accurate.

Her knowledge of the family tree told her that marriage had not had any lasting effects.

“Did the marriage fail?”

“Testament. The other family betrayed Yoritomo.”

And…

“It was with Minamoto no Yoshinaka’s heir, Yoshitaka, when he was still only 11.”


“Do you understand now?” asked Tomoe Gozen with a sigh heavy with weariness. “This incident was mostly dealt with when we ran away.”

She had asked about it later and learned that Ishi had made various arrangements. Her illness had probably worsened because of the physical and emotional effort involved in that, but…

That’s right.

“After Yoshinaka was killed, Yoritomo decided to kill Yoshitaka. But the young couple had already enjoyed a year together by that time.”

“There were people that stupid back then too?”

“Testament,” confirmed Tomoe Gozen.

The Date Vice Chancellor would understand this. Because…

“The Date clan’s tragedy…was not unique.”

“That wasn’t something we took pride in.”

“Fair enough,” said Tomoe Gozen. “As young as she was, Yoritomo’s daughter tried her best to protect her husband. She let him escape their home in secret and pretended to be playing with him to hide his absence. …We women seem to have a talent for lying.”

“It would be nice if this story of yours was a lie too.”

Sorry, she thought. I honestly have trouble coming to terms with this one myself.

This was recreated without Yoshinaka and me knowing.

Why did they not allow any interpretations in the history recreation back then? she asked herself as she continued.

“The child’s best efforts at deception were apparently discovered on the first day. Her husband Yoshitaka was soon discovered and beheaded. This was of course meant to be a secret, but Yoritomo’s daughter learned about it and it made her ill.”

“––––”

Narumi fell silent, so Tomoe Gozen slapped her on the shoulder.

The battle was not over yet. Hearing a sound other than Tomoe Gozen’s voice would remind the girl of the reality around her, so Tomoe Gozen began walking through the booming of shellfire while talking.

“Yoritomo later tried to have her sent to the imperial court to strengthen his connections there, but she still could not forget what happened, her illness worsened, and she died in Kyou. …She was 20 when she died.”

“What was her name?”

“Testament. Her actual name is not known. But I do know her nickname, which indicated her position as the eldest daughter,” she explained. “Apparently, she was called Ohime.”


Yoritomo was reminded of the past.

Honestly.

Why?

Why was he reminded of a past even he so wished he could forget and pretend never happened?

She had been given so much happiness for her first 6 years of life and she had enjoyed a fulfilling year after that, but when she was 7, he had taken all of that from her.

That had been part of the history recreation. That had been a valid reason and he had explained it to her countless times.

But it had not been enough.

His daughter had hidden it for his sake, but her condition had worsened as time went on.

She had tended not to get up from the floor and, in the end, she had refused to even meet with him.

He had last seen her after she had breathed her last, so her final words to him had come secondhand.

“I was a failure of a child, wasn’t I?”

No.

That isn’t what I wanted to hear or what I wanted to tell you.

Even after everything that had happened, you stayed strong and clung onto life.

You kept going for 13 years – nearly twice the time you lived in happiness.

“You fought so hard.”

That was what I wanted tell you, but you were already gone.

So I gave up on myself. I ended Yoritomo’s history recreation, inherited the next generation’s name, and let Yoshitsune kill me.

I honestly felt relieved when I saw Yoshitsune there in front of me.

I knew it was finally over.

Yes, that’s right.

I started the Kamakura Shogunate as a society where people were always rewarded for the work they did for their superior. Whenever someone did something for me, I would tell them what a good job they did and reward them for it. I made sure of it whenever possible.

When I died and met her in the afterlife, I wanted to show her that her father was a changed man. That I could own up to what I had done and I would no longer try to run away.

I wanted to tell my daughter she was not a failure. And…

It’s pathetic but true.

I am the Shogun who created an entire era, but…

All I wanted was to ask forgiveness of a little girl.

That must be one of my regrets.

That is why I wanted to make up for it as soon as I awoke within this mobile shell. I wanted to destroy my mobile shell self to make up for having destroyed someone’s life.

And if I could protect someone at the same time, maybe I could earn some small fraction of forgiveness.

But that isn’t what happened. Who is this girl I am practically holding in my arms?

She has such a big body, but she calls herself a failure, she tries to protect me, and she cries. She keeps complaining of the pain, but she smiles upon learning I am unharmed.

Onitakemaru: “––––––”

I am sorry, thought Onitakemaru.

I am sorry, Ohime.

It looks like it will be some time yet until I can join you and apologize. So for now…

Onitakemaru: “Hey.”

He kept Ohime’s name in his mind.

Onitakemaru: “How old are you?”

“Eh? Oh, w-well.” She answered him. “I am 20.”

“I see,” he replied.

Even that is the same.


Onitakemaru: “Hey.”

Onitakemaru spoke slowly.

Onitakemaru: “Stand up. The battle is still ongoing. We need to get moving.”

“R-right, let’s do that.”

Onitakemaru: “Does it hurt?”

“Eh? W-well, no, um, it doesn’t. I’m fine.”

Onitakemaru: “I see. Understood.”

Then…

Onitakemaru: “I will begin assisting your movements. Before, it was just the basic mobile shell reactions, but now I will support your actions in my own way.”

“Eh? Wh-what does that mean?”

Onitakemaru: “I will handle the attacks. You only need to move along with me.”

And…

Onitakemaru: “You handle defense. You can get blown away in what amounts to self-destruction if you like. I’ve figured out that’s just how you are. Even if I don’t like it.”

“Sorry.”

Onitakemaru: “I said I don’t mind!”

“N-no, you didn’t! That’s the first I’ve heard of it!”

Onitakemaru: “It was implied! God.”

Ohime had been smarter than this. Just how foolish was this girl? So he spoke.

Onitakemaru: “Is that big body all you’ve got going for you? You really are a hopeless little girl.”

So…

Onitakemaru: “Kohime. That is what I will call you from now on.”[3]


Sakon gasped.

“–––––––”

Intense pain filled her body and refused to go away, but she did understand one thing.

Wow.

He really is paying attention to me.

Thank you so much, Mitsunari-sama, she thought.

Onitakemaru: “What?”

“Oh, um, I’m just happy is all. Happy that you’re bigger than me.”

And…

“Thank you.”

Onitakemaru: “I should be thanking you.”

He sounded exasperated.

Onitakemaru: “You protected me from those shells. …Good job.”

“Oh, um, uh.”

She had no idea what to say. She had never imagined he would thank her and it was all so sudden.

So…

“Ha ha.”

Tears suddenly spilled from her eyes.

Onitakemaru: “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“It’s just…it’s just…”

She got up and looked into the sky with her blurry vision. It was blue.

She viewed that color while shaking her right shoulder to dislodge the blade there.

She felt a continuous stabbing pain followed by something splitting her bone, but that familiar pain seemed to link her to everything she had been through in the past.

And now she stood at the forefront of it all.

“I’ve never been so happy.”

Onitakemaru: “How stupid are you? You’re about to charge right into more pain while the enemy tries to give you pain.”

“That’s fine. That’s just fine.”

She could use her right arm, so with a grunt of effort, she pulled out the left sword and reached for the one in her gut.

“I’m perfectly fine.”

Pulling that one out made her spine tremble, but…

Onitakemaru: “Kohime.”

“Yes?”

Onitakemaru: “I will support your physical divine protections as much as I can. That will increase your regeneration even more and up your physical abilities, but your sense of pain will-…”

“Oh, pain relief doesn’t work on me. Same with anesthetics. So I don’t have any of that prepared.”

Onitakemaru: “So that’s why I couldn’t find it on the list!”

That meant he had tried to help her out at some point.

Yeah.

It hurt, but she was happy.

She had been happy before, but this was different.

Instead of a relieved happiness that she was permitted to be here, she felt happy to be here.

Onitakemaru: “I more or less understand now, so I’ll shove it all in there.”

“M-must you be so rough about everything!?”

Onitakemaru: “We have no time. Hurry up and pull that sword from your left leg and grab it in both hands. I specialize in the bow, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t use a sword. I will show you the technique of a true Shogun.”

And…

Onitakemaru: “I will fully activate all of the divine protections I was given so I could function. They are a type of anti-ship equipment, but think of using them as a way of helping me out here. …Our enemy is Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer. Based on the records I have seen, even this might not be enough to defeat her. The data on her history recreation says she will go on to call herself the Vice Shogun. People overthrow their masters so often in this era, so she is bound to be a formidable foe for me, the Kamakura Shogun.”

“I-I’ll do my best?”

Onitakemaru: “You have my permission. And if you accomplish anything here, I will reward you with my praise.”

“So,” he said while effectively holding her in his arms.

Onitakemaru: “Let’s do this together, Kohime.”

“Okay,” she agreed while taking the first step forward.

Kohime: “Here we go!”


Chapter 80: Revolver at the Clash[edit]

Horizon7C 0771.jpg

Say “let’s go” and I will accompany you

Say “go” and you will push me onward

Say “here I go” and I will give my approval

Point Allocation (It’s Time to Go?)


Mitotsudaira learned of the enemy’s appearance from the sound.

She heard footsteps on the grass.

It happened just as she was trying to decide whether or not to pursue the enemy mobile shell unit.

That black mobile shell was almost four meters tall.

The wearer’s inner suit was torn in several places, but there was not a drop of blood on it.

That is the same regeneration divine protection that Rudolf II had.

That freak’s injuries had instantly turned into a bloody mist and recovered. If this was the same, then one problem presented itself here.

How was she to defeat this opponent? She had to do whatever it took.

The two of them faced each other on the grassy plain.

At a distance of 20m, the enemy held two of the vermilion swords that had pierced her body.

“Name yourself.”

The mobile shell spoke with a male voice, but then…

“W-wait. Stop acting like you’re in charge, Onitakemaru-san!”

“I am in charge! I’m the Shogun!”

“Th-that’s called former glory. This is going to a rude awakening, you know?”

“Damn you!”

Mitotsudaira raised her right hand and spoke once her opponent faced her in confusion.

“I am a knight of Musashi. I am the First Knight of our Chancellor who is my king. My name is Mitotsudaira ‘Silver Wolf’ Nate, to use the Far Eastern name order.” Then she asked a question. “But who might you be?”

“Oh, right, testament. I am Shima Sakon!”

“And I am Onitakemaru.”

She was not sure how to take that when it was just one person standing in front of her, but she could guess the mobile shell was Onitakemaru since the wearer appeared to be a woman.

But Rudolf II could transform into a woman.

She decided to ask.

“Um, can I ask one thing?”

Her opponent again faced her in confusion, so she asked her question.

“Are you a freak?”

After a pause, the mobile shell held both palms out toward her to say “wait a second”.

“Onitakemaru-san, I have a feeling we are going to know each other for a while, so it would be easier on me if you would tell me now what she is talking about. Maybe I can’t accept it, but I would rather resign myself to my fate sooner rather than later. So what is this about?”

“Damn you!! She is clearly talking about you!”

“Sh-she is not! How dare you call a girl a freak. I can see why people wanted to assassinate you.”

They started arguing with each other.

Well, this kind of cannibalism is perfectly normal.

Seeing it was kind of relaxing for Mitotsudaira. But they had named themselves, she was worried about her king and the others, and the battle was still underway, so she took a breath, and…

“Um, are you quite ready?”

“Eh?” Her opponent looked her way and quickly nodded. “Oh, yes, what is it? I am ready.”

Since she was ready, Mitotsudaira made her attack.


Mitotsudaira saw the attack she had made.

Instead of slashing at her opponent, she had cautiously sent a burst of acceleration through her wrist and finger joints to launch her sword like an artillery shell.

A vermilion line shot out, but…

What is this?

With a dull clang, the vermilion blade was deflected up into the air.

She could see Shima Sakon had thrust out her right hand for a counterattack, but that hand had not touched the blade. She had simply pushed it out in front of her in a hurry.

Yet it had deflected the mandible sword in midair.

Mitotsudaira thought it must have to be a type of defense barrier, but no Catholic or Shinto sign frame had appeared.

In that case, she thought. That was not a defense spell.

“That was quite the sound there. You didn’t swing a sword of your own, but I heard a metallic clang. And a low one, like it had hit a large surface.” She nodded in understanding. “Judge. You can convert your attack power into a surface, can’t you?”


That was way too close!

Sakon was relieved because that had honestly terrified her.

All she had done was hold her right hand out front like Onitakemaru told her.

The sword remained at her side, so she was not even holding that. The hand was empty. However…

Kohime: “I-I did what you told me and I missed, but she didn’t hit us!?”

Onitakemaru: “Watch your phrasing! I had you miss on purpose! Got that?”

Kohime: “That makes no sense! Can’t you explain yourself properly!?”

When he promptly began to explain, she realized just how nice a person he was.

Onitakemaru: “One of the divine protections given to me alters how your power manifests. You have a large body, right? That is why Ishida provided a point-to-surface conversion ability that lets you use your attacks for defense.”

Simply put…

Onitakemaru: “I can make your attacks cover the entire surface in front of you when need be.”

Kohime: “You mean…?”

Onitakemaru: “When you strike something or send an impact into the air, I can create an ether wall out of that striking force. You could have fought back against those cannon blasts instead of letting them hit you.”

Kohime: “O-Onitakemaru-san, you need to explain these things sooner!”

Onitakemaru: “Which is why I am apologizing.”

Kohime: “Y-you are not! You never said anything of the sort!”

Onitakemaru: “It was implied! And one other thing.”

Kohime: “Yes, I can move!”

He laughed.

Onitakemaru: “So you can pick up on implications! Let’s go, Kohime!”

“Testament,” she agreed while moving forward.


Mitotsudaira experienced an intense optical illusion.

U-um?

The enemy was nearly four meters tall. Hearing the number was not enough to appreciate the sheer size. Because…

Sh-she is really big!

She had not had to look up at an opponent since the battle against Celestial Dragon Saizou.

But this was a humanoid enemy instead of a dragon.

She had trouble judging the distance between them.

Her gaze was directed higher than normal, so she could not see the ground and had no reference point to go off of.

It felt like she was facing something terribly large, but…

“Kh!”

The blades stabbed at her with an extremely long reach.

Everything about this opponent was long.

Her mother was very tall, especially when wearing her heels, but she was only about half the height of this opponent. This opponent was more than twice Mitotsudaira’s own height.

Sakon attacked with the swords in her hands as she approached.

“…!”

The enemy was using the very same mandible swords that had pierced her body. Those long swords were meant for use by Narumi’s Untuning Centipede, but they looked like short swords when Sakon wielded them.

Her reach and stride were more than twice Mitotsudaira’s.

Mitotsudaira thought her size would make her slow, but no.

She had the same quick but heavy movements that Rudolf II had demonstrated.

Mitotsudaira wrapped chains around her hands and then grabbed her swords.

She wielded four swords in all. Two could be used at multiple ranges thanks to the Silver Chains and she lightly opened her mouth.

“Hah.”

Breathing was crucial for these repeated bursts of speed, so she made sure to regulate that.

“Here I go!”


The mobile shell reacted to the wolf’s short-range charge.

The black shell thrust her blade back toward the silver wolf’s blade.

But not to cross swords. The barrier emitted by the shell’s blade would deflect the wolf’s sword strike.

That area covered by that surface was greater the faster the shell moved.

Meanwhile, the more strength the silver wolf threw into her attack…

“Go!”

The greater the speed of the counterattack and thus the greater the striking surface.

“Now this is a pain!”

A wall began to form in front of the wolf.

It was initially only meant to stop the first attack, but the expanded area let it also prevent a second attack. If she attacked with her other sword soon thereafter, she could create a barrier capable of blocking all of the silver wolf’s attacks.

A solid sound of impact screamed up into the air.

“––––––”

They both inhaled and immediately threw themselves forward.

They began an extreme close-range battle reliant on footwork.


Mitotsudaira changed herself.

She usually fought with human tactics. Her power came from pouring bestial strength into those tactics.

She had figured out that method of fighting when she defeated her mother and she had focused on using it ever since.

But now was different. Her opponent was a human. She was big, had long limbs, could regenerate, and had an abnormal level of strength, but she was still human.

Yes, I can at least count on her not turning into a spirit and spreading a forest around her if she takes an anti-ship shell to the face!

And based on what she saw while looking up, Shima Sakon’s chest was a standard size. They are certainly large, but when you take into account her 4m height – no, I suppose she would only be about 3m inside there – but when you take that into account, they only count as big or maybe the next class above-…wait, that still makes them huge! And I don’t even want to think about the absolute size instead of relative size!

And wh-what is wrong with me? Why am I turning into a boobs sommelier who assesses a woman’s chest the instant I meet her?

Were her king’s tastes contagious? She also felt like this sommelier tendency had kicked in with Kasuya Takenori a few hours earlier, but that did not count since she was a fellow werewolf.

Maybe I need to get all of Musashi’s female enemies to line up in front of me so I can measure them.

Anyway, there were some irritating parts about this enemy, but she was human.

So Mitotsudaira changed herself.

She began using her bursts of speed to swing her arms. As for the footwork behind her movement…

“I really hate doing this.” Her eyebrows rose in a smile. “I never imagined I would be borrowing my mother’s movements.”

The way her feet moved grew much more unpredictable, but she was not trying to move straight toward the enemy or to an advantageous position.

If there was an opening, she would move in for a bite. If there was not, she would forcibly leap away.

But that movement was quick and never-ceasing. She had incorporated a certain type of movement into this.

“This is a wolf dance. I hope you’re ready!”


Sakon felt intense pain in her left calf.

Eh?

The silver wolf was in front of her. She had defended against her blade. But…

“Ow!”

Next, it was the right side of her hip.

What was happening? Was she being harmed by the two swords hopping around with those weird chains?

Kohime: “Onitakemaru-san! This hurts!”

Onitakemaru: “Can you see the enemy!?”

Kohime: “I-I can?”

However, the enemy was not stationary enough for it to be that simple. Just as she seemed to be coming in from the right, left, or center, she would twirl around, move right up to Sakon, and swing her blade.

Onitakemaru’s responses were accurate. He saw each of the wolf’s strikes and approaches coming and he would give her a point to send her sword toward. However…

Kohime: “Eek!”

She received a fairly deep gash to the back of her right knee. And…

Onitakemaru: “Kohime! …Sorry, are you not seeing this the same as me!?”

With that, a change came over her vision.

Everything was compressed in from the sides to gather in toward the center.

From the edges of her vision, everything was squished in to half its size. And…

The sides are connected?

This was the 360-degree vision provided by Onitakemaru’s sight devices.

She could see in front of and behind herself simultaneously and she could see something there: a pack of wolves.

There were always at least three. The wolves were in front of her, behind her, and to her side and they would leap in to bite at her whenever they saw an opening. And their weapons were two chains and two swords.

Kohime: “Yikes!”

Noticing this scared her and she quickly shifted her position, but…

Onitakemaru: “Kohime! No careless movements!”

She was torn into at several points at once. Trying to move would only leave her wide open to attack.

It hurt a lot. Her right thigh in particular made her want to cry where a blade had cut deep within a gap in her armor. But…

Kohime: “Um, wait, Onitakemaru-san. I’m sorry, but this vision…”

This 360-degree vision was perfect for tracking the wolf’s movements, but there was no way she could move around like this. She would need some special training for that.

But she did see the silver wolf was constantly being targeted within the 360-degree vision.


Onitakemaru returned the mobile shell’s vision to normal and thought.

So she can’t adapt that fast!

He was aware he was about evenly matched with this opponent when it came to skill. He could respond to and endure her attacks.

But Kohime would need to adapt to his vision to follow his instructions.

It was a classic case of poor teamwork and insufficient training.

That left only one method.

Onitakemaru: “Kohime, I will add an arrow into your vision indicating the closet enemy location. Start by turning in that direction whenever possible.”

She would have to use precise movements to turn in that direction and then deal with the enemy.

But will that be fast enough?

The enemy was currently moving almost twice their speed.

She was a beast.

Someone with an innate ability had cast aside the logical movements of a human and started moving with strength-fueled speed.

A mistake in her control could easily make her trip and fly off in the wrong direction.

But she was pulling it off and coming in for the kill. Meanwhile, he and Kohime were having teamwork difficulties.

But that is fine!

He suppressed the complaints that were beginning to appear within him.

On the battlefield, you had to fight with whatever you had available to you.

He could only accurately convey his information to Kohime and tell her the shortest distance she could take. Once they managed that, he could start thinking about the next step.

If he only thought about how impossible all this was, they would never accomplish anything. So…

Onitakemaru: “Kohime! Let’s go!”

But she responded to his call while moving.

Kohime: “U-um, Onitakemaru-san? Can I ask something?”

Onitakemaru: “What is it!? Keep it short!”

She answered his shouted demand.

Kohime: “H-how much can I move?”


At first, Onitakemaru did not know what she meant. Because…

Onitakemaru: “What are you talking about!? I am providing power assistance for your movements!”

That power assistance increased the wearer’s speed and strength.

But the assistance had a few restrictions.

First and foremost, you must not apply excess pressure to the power system by surpassing its movable range. Do that and the power system’s parts could collide and damage each other.

The physical limitations of the wearer’s body were another restriction.

If the assistance was too powerful, it would push at the wearer’s body instead of guiding them. That could damage their joints or tear their muscles.

Thus, the power assistance’s limits were defined based on the wearer’s base movement ability.

Kohime: “But, um, a-about that. Uh…”

Kohime tried to clarify.

Kohime: “Onitakemaru-san. …H-how much should I move?”

Onitakemaru: “Wait!”

He realized what she was trying to say, so he rephrased it for her.

Onitakemaru: “Are you asking how much you are allowed to move!?”

He got it now.

Onitakemaru: “Are you still not using your full strength!?”

Kohime: “Wow, y-you figured it out!? That’s incredible!”

Onitakemaru: “Did you ever doubt I was!? I am the great Shogun!”

He had set an upper limit to his power assistance. If a normal human were wearing him, the pushing of his movements could easily crush them to death.

He had naturally chosen to place a heavy burden on his own power system to provide that. But…

Onitakemaru: “Do not worry about me! A Shogun can take care of himself without your worries!”

Kohime: “Testament! In that case.”

As soon as she said that, it felt to him like everything had exploded.


Mitotsudaira sensed danger.

She instinctually sensed a change come over the enemy in an instant.

She is accelerating.

She had seen a slight pause in Sakon’s movements. It was the same as when Mitotsudaira built up her strength for a burst of speed.

The enemy was about to make her move.

She was going to use her true speed. Yes, this was bound to happen eventually. Because…

When I first learned to use these bursts of speed, Rudolf II was capable of keeping up with me.

If this opponent had the same physical strength as that freak, then how much would her greater reach and the mobile shell increase her speed?

Mitotsudaira had trained further since then. She had taught herself several other techniques beyond the bursts of speed.

And she knew this fight was truly beginning here. So…

“Here I go.”

She poured on more acceleration.


Asama used a telescope spell sign frame to view the scene to the west.

A wolf and a black mobile shell were locked in combat.

With their afterimages, neither of them looked like a single person anymore. She could see several figures and intersecting weapons while the two opponents moved around to try to strike each other.

The paths of the Silver Chains looked like dozens of silver glints and the blades appeared just as numerous.

The black mobile shell was tall and thin, but…

What is going on?

Her movements took only an instant.

Mitotsudaira was so much smaller, so the shell had a much greater reach thanks to the distance covered by each step and outstretched arm. But the wolf used quick bursts of acceleration to dance around the black mobile shell. That may have been why the shell chose to circle around while falling back just enough to leave some space between them.

“Ah.”

The shell came in with even more frequent attacks.

She swung and jabbed with her swords, but when she could not pull one back in time….

She let go!?

She would leave the blade there in the air and launch a karate chop toward the wolf.

The quick strike would form a surface of impact that would repel Mitotsudaira’s blade. And when she pulled her hand back, she would grab the sword once more.

That let her increase her attack frequency by around 50%, so she would send in her swords from the sides, overhead, and behind while also mixing in some karate chops to pursue the silver wolf and she would also spin back on her heel to avoid the counterattacks.

Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira gave herself an additional battlefield. When her sword was repelled, she let it fly up into the air, and…

“…!!”

She used the airborne sword as footing to attack from multiple levels.

She would use the Silver Chains as a foothold too, but only for an instant. A moment later, that footing would shoot past her to create a step higher or lower or around behind the enemy.

Her afterimages were no longer just at the black mobile shell’s feet. They were in the air, launching attacks at the shell’s sides or head.

Incredible.

Mitotsudaira was incredible, but so was her opponent.

Asama had honestly thought only Futayo and Muneshige could keep up with Mitotsudaira’s speed. Oh and Mito’s mom is on another level altogether.

But today they had run across Kasuya Takenori in Kantou and Shima Sakon in M.H.R.R.

“I can’t believe it,” she said.

Asama: “Does this put a noncombatant like me at a really low rank?”

Smoking Girl: “Mind if I take issue with that description all the way from Kantou?”

Gold Mar: “Wouldn’t that logic put Masa at a low rank too?”

Flat Vassal: “What kind of rank are we talking about here!? A reverse boobs caste!?”

But she heard something unexpected. Something tore powerfully through the air on the western field.

It was the Silver Chains.

Mitotsudaira had used them to leap through the air toward the enemy.


Onitakemaru sensed the gap in his knowledge of history.

That covered 500 years.

So many different weapons, tactics, and countermeasures had been developed and subsequently surpassed in that time. In fact, combat methods had been repeatedly improved and surpassed ever since the Age of the Gods.

That continual development had created something.

The ability to come up with new methods!

That could be simply called adlibbing, but some foundational experience was necessary to pull it off. Just as tactics could not be created without the weapons to enact them, thinking up new combat methods required a battlefield to use them on and older tactics to base them on.

The true experts who had mastered enough tactics could even come up with new tactics and countermeasures mid-battle.

That was happening here. The wolf was jumping repeatedly through the air and throwing her chain swords toward their neck.

They were intercepting those attacks, of course.

Just now, they used their right sword. By jabbing the tip into the air, they created a barrier.

That struck and deflected the chain sword and then they raised their left sword with their elbow.

The silver wolf immediately took a certain action.

Previously, she had responded to their attacks by kicking off of her chain sword footing and dodging it, but this time…

This is different!

She chose to attack rather than dodge.

She kicked off the sword she had left down toward their feet and launched herself toward them.

However, the barrier still existed between them. The one created by their previous jab.

This had to be the wolf’s first time seeing this kind of technique, but…

Onitakemaru: “Is she going to grab onto the edge of the barrier with her chain!?”

She used a burst of acceleration to leap towards them as if to jump over the wall.

She held the sword that had been deflected earlier. Meanwhile, they had their left sword raised and could not move.

She placed her other hand on the sword.

But instead of gathering strength for striking at them with it…

Is she throwing it!?

She was making this attack because she had concluded their slight time lag qualified as an opening. She had chosen not to hold back or allow any playfulness in her pursuit of victory.

And just as he thought they could not do anything in time…

Kohime: “Onitakemaru-san!”

Her voice brought him back to his senses.

In that instant, he thought back to his history and his title as Shogun.

The Shogun was the leader of the samurai, so he was of course an expert in combat. So…

Of course I can handle this!

He shouted a command in Kohime’s ear.

Onitakemaru: “Leave it to me!!”


Sakon saw Onitakemaru’s response.

He chose defense.

He moved to catch the silver wolf’s thrown sword on his chest armor.

Of course, the wolf’s attack had plenty of force behind it. It was bound to destroy the armor and harm him.

He would be injured.

She did not want that.

This was her fault. She was not strong enough and that had dragged him down. So…

I can’t let this happen.

This was just like before.

When the artillery shell had flown in, he had tried to block it as a mobile shell.

But she had not wanted anyone to get hurt for her sake, so she had shifted her position to take the hit herself.

It had hurt really bad, but she could deal with pain. It had blown her away, but she could regenerate almost instantly. So…

I-

Her thoughts were cut off by Onitakemaru’s voice.

Onitakemaru: “If this goes well, reward me with your praise, Kohime!”

Those words sent a tremor through her body.

Ah.

He was the same.

He wanted the same thing she did. This was something he wanted to do. So…

Kohime: “I…”

She responded because she could not take this away from him. It was her turn to praise him. Which meant…

Kohime: “I’m counting on you!”


Onitakemaru sensed the wolf’s blade destroying his chest armor.

But he instantly analyzed the impact. He thought of the 3D shape of Sakon’s chest as a slope, and…

Onitakemaru: “Take this!”

He used the fragments.

He lifted up the movable portion of the armor to sweep the blade aside.

He also pushed the secondary armor against her chest as much as possible to tilt it. The artificial muscles of the shell’s shoulders pulled in toward the shoulder blades and the top of the chest gained a large slant.

The tip of the blade dug into the secondary armor, but…

Onitakemaru: “The sky!”

Kohime: “Eh? Um, uh?”

The mandible sword was so close to Kohime’s neck she could not see its movements. So…

Onitakemaru: “I said look to the sky!”

Kohime: “N-no you didn’t!”

But she bent backwards all the same.

He used the power assistance in her back to powerfully arch that back and the blade slipped backwards using the point where it was stabbed into the armor.

Seeing the sword fly into the air as if thrown, he gave a shout.

Onitakemaru: “We made it!”


Mitotsudaira saw her attack forcibly neutralized.

The enemy mobile shell and wearer had coordinated their actions to deflect the mandible sword.

Not good!

This was worse than just losing a weapon and a chance to attack.

The enemy was now bent backwards with their stomach out front.

When using bursts of speed, they could produce any attack they wanted now.

“Good job, Onitakemaru-san!”

Sensing danger in that announcement of success, Mitotsudaira jumped into the air.

She kicked off a foothold made from a Silver Chain and mandible sword to move herself backwards.

She leaped.

At the very least, she had to move outside this opponent’s long reach, and thus beyond their attack.

She held her two blades in close to guard herself and she viewed the enemy.

She was in the air beyond the reach of the enemy’s arms.

So even if the enemy swung that left sword now…

It shouldn’t reach me! And…

She saw a chance at victory in the enemy’s current movement.

Deciding to shift into an attack as soon as she landed, she prepared herself to land.

Then Sakon swung herself forward.

Mitotsudaira knew this was the start of some kind of attack, but Sakon had not swung either of her arms. The arms holding her swords were held down toward her hips and she swung her head downwards to unleash…

“It can’t be!”

Mitotsudaira realized what Sakon’s attack was. She knew what was being unleashed here.

Sound!?


Sakon had studied her role in the Testament.

Shima Sakon had been a skilled warrior, but there was a certain story about him at Sekigahara.

His voice.

His commands during battle had been so incredibly loud that it was said the enemy commanders and soldiers would wake up in a cold sweat or hear a ringing in their ears upon remembering it.

And she understood something else as well.

Onitakemaru had the ability to convert her attacks into a surface-wide impact.

Onitakemaru: “Roar, Kohime!”

She heard him.

Onitakemaru: “This system was built for you!”

She inhaled in response.

She had a large body. She was skinny for how tall she was, but the length of her body gave her plentiful lung capacity.

And she could produce any kind of voice without worrying about destroying her vocal cords.

The instantaneous volume of her voice was three times greater than average. She always made sure to speak so quietly because of how loud her natural voice was.

But there was no need to worry about that right now. Because she had Onitakemaru to rely on.

So she roared. To copy the roars her name was said to have made at Sekigahara, she used a simple command.

“Attack!”


A direct hit struck the wolf in midair.

Sound was not the same as a weapon. Even when converted to cover a surface, it was reflected off of her body and occasionally burst.

Those multiple explosions erupted as ether light across the front of her body.

A series of sounds scattered through the morning air while the silver wolf was hit and blown away.

“…!”

She was slammed into the ground with her summer uniform torn.


“Ah!”

Mitotsudaira rolled across the ground, planted her knees and hands down, and trembled.

She had taken a nearly direct hit from what amounted to an acoustic weapon.

It had not been a simple blow since it was really a voice. And while it had been on a smaller scale…

That was a lot like Michiyuki Byakko’s Ultra Vibration Destruction Cannon!

It was very bad that she was trembling too much to move. She could not gather her strength, so the Silver Chains reverted to autonomous control and tried to hurry back toward her.

Fortunately, she had been holding the mandible swords. That had prevented the blow from hitting the very center of her body or her face. However…

“Kah…ah!”

The unbalanced hit to her limbs, hips, and shoulders had caused her body to spin.

The impact propagated through her like a sense of disgust, and…

“–––––”

She sensed a shadow.

It moved by directly above her while swinging down a large sword.

That was Shima Sakon.

She ran by and swung her sword while planting her foot on the ground.

The slash came from more than just a simple swing of her arm. She used her entire body like she was throwing a spear.

The attack was coming, but the Silver Chains were also fearlessly approaching. And…

Me: “Hey, Nate.”

Her king’s words reached her.

Me: “I’ll cook something for you when we get back, so do you want some of my pie? How about my tart? Or do you want my wiener?”

Silver Wolf: “Yakiniku will suffice!”

Just as she imagined something based on that last suggestion, the black mobile shell’s attack hit.


Onitakemaru assisted Kohime as quickly as possible.

He could see the enemy. She was down on all fours trying to catch her breath.

Those silver chains were truly courageous. One of the two wrapped around two mandible swords and held them up in the air to guard against their attack.

That was fine because their attack would cover a full surface. This ultra-speedy attack would crush the enemy along with the chain’s attempted protection.

Kohime: “Onitakemaru-san!”

That girl was soft. She could not rid herself of that hesitation to strike down the enemy. But that was why he was here with her.

Telling her not to question it would be meaningless.

Onitakemaru: “Kohime! Do what good you can in the situation presented to you!!”

And…

Onitakemaru: “If that turns out to be a mistake, then just continue doing what good you can!!”

He had failed to do that in the past.

He had chosen to harm someone as their best possible option, but he had failed to stick to that path.

Ohime.

He had felt some relief when she rejected him, but he should have continued onwards even if it meant taking that girl’s resentment head on.

How could he call himself a leader if he could not accept the resentment of those he had made suffer?

In his experience, people tended to discuss things like humane treatment, dignity, and the value of life only after the fact when they had been faced with a changing world and threats to the survival of one’s compatriots. What meaning did any of those things have when up against an opponent so large a single individual was powerless against them?

Attempting those things during such trying times would only mean forcing yourself to do the impossible. Simply surviving was hard enough, so if you also had to do the impossible and question yourself every step of the way…

Life becomes nothing but a nuisance.

Ohime had dealt with that nuisance in her own way.

And he had dealt with it on that day of thawing snow. Yoshitsune had truly saved him when she stood before him on those shrine stairs.

So.

Onitakemaru: “Leave it to me!”

I will listen to 500 years’ worth of resentment and complaints if need be.

Onitakemaru: “Leave it to me and attack, Kohime!”


The high-speed attack struck Mitotsudaira from above.

The attack surface had a diameter of 7m.

The grassy field was crushed down and the surrounding air was dyed green for just a moment.

The sound was much like a hand slapping something solid.

And a sword was rapidly swung back from the center of the impact.

It had been pulled back to instantaneously increase its striking power and the color silver was crushed below it.

On the exposed dirt of that crushed ground, silver hair had been squashed flat.


Chapter 81: Messenger in an Unseen Place[edit]

Horizon7C 0803.jpg

Grasping how you

Differ from others

Is the key to victory

Point Allocation (Caste)


Sakon gasped.

Oh.

“Is it over?”

Her voice was hoarse.

She tasted iron. The roar had split her throat open, but it was rapidly regenerating.

She took a step back and viewed the enemy.

The wolf had been squashed flat. She knew just how bad a state the enemy had to be in. Once, to confirm her own regeneration power…

I had part of me crushed.

It had hurt so bad all her focus had been on expressing that and the people around her had found it disturbing despite being the ones to suggest the test. But in order to keep the Emperor safe, she did feel like making sure he could regenerate from that state was an important test.

But a normal person was not going to fare well after a hit like that.

In fact, her hair really was crushed completely flat.

Kohime: “Um, Onitakemaru-san?”

Onitakemaru: “Yes?”

Kohime: “You know how, um, well, her hair had all that round stuff in the back? What is that called?”

Onitakemaru: “You mean her potter’s wheel hairstyle?”

Kohime: “Th-that is not what it’s called! It must have some nice, fancy name! And what do you know about potter’s wheels? They didn’t use those for the Jomon pottery of your time, did they?”

Onitakemaru: “How old do you think I am!?”

Kohime: “Anyway, um, three of those round pieces of ‘pottery’ really have been crushed flat.”

Onitakemaru: “Wait.”

“Huh?” she asked, so he explained.

Onitakemaru: “I thought that enemy had 5 pieces of hair pottery.”


Onitakemaru checked the images recorded during the battle.

Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer was the Mito Lord and the future Vice Shogun and she did indeed have 5 pieces of “pottery” on the back of her head.

Three were closer to her body and two were placed behind those.

If she was squashed flat while on all fours, the top two would either slip between the lower three or stack on top of them.

Onitakemaru: “There should be 5 of them. Even if the top 2 aligned perfectly with 2 below, we should be seeing 4.”

He sensed urgency.

There were three.

What would lead them to see that number? He continued checking the images recorded during the battle and he discovered something.

Onitakemaru: “Kohime! Fall back!”

He belatedly realized that the chains protecting the wolf had disappeared along with their mandible swords. And…

Onitakemaru: “That wolf is collapsed on her side!”

They were seeing three rolls of hair because she was lying on her side and her hair had shifted a bit out of place.

If she had been on all fours, her back would have been pointed upwards, so why had her orientation changed? The impact should have hit her from more or less directly above.

The mobile shell stepped back, but a sudden attack reached it.

From below!

A vermilion color was launched from the silver wolf’s position and it skimmed just off the ground.

It was a chain – a single silver line. It shot forward like a shell and flew. It shot upwards at the midpoint between her and them to aim for their stomach. But he took aim, and…

“…!”

Kohime acted on reflex. She had a decent reaction speed. She took a step back and swung her right sword in from below.

Even the sharpest attack was meaningless when blocked with a surface.

With a solid clang, the vermilion blade was deflected into the sky. The chain flew upwards in a wavelike pattern, but…

Oh, no!

Onitakemaru realized what the enemy had been trying to do: block their view.

They could see silver in the center of their vision. The sense of vision being used to view and target the enemy was focused on the wavelike line of the silver chain that extended diagonally down toward the enemy.

That blind spot was skinny, but there was still a direct line between them and the enemy they could not see.


Onitakemaru: “Kohime!”

The word “danger” sprang up in Onitakemaru’s mind.

She saw right through us!

He was the one taking aim and guiding their attacks and defense.

He was reliant on the mobile shell’s vision. That might seem normal, but it was unthinkable for a true expert. Because…

A true expert can react to unseen opponents outside their field of vision!

They were not fully reliant on their eyes.

The 360-degree vision had been prepared to make up for that deficiency, but since Kohime could not adapt to that, they were forced to pursue the enemy with footwork and movement.

Kohime’s attacks and defense were reliant on the front-facing sight devices in the mobile shell’s face.

The range of that vision was the same as a human’s, although the range beyond that could be shown to her by bending it.

But there was still a limited range to her vision.

And the enemy had figured out that range.

Knowing her visual range allowed the enemy to create a blind spot. By sending a chain from the edge of her vision to the center, the area behind it would be a blind spot.

That was exactly what the enemy had done.

When and where had she figured out that visual range? And…

Onitakemaru: “Damn you.”

He saw the enemy getting up.

She rose from the dirt while indeed lying on her side.

She was unharmed.

She had taken no damage beyond some squashed hair. As for how…

Kohime: “A hole!?”

She stood in a hole dug long to east and west. Its width was exactly same as a mandible sword.

Another Silver Chain rose from the hole after her.

And when she turned around toward them, two mandible swords flew in from below the Silver Chain crossing through the air.

Kh!

Onitakemaru moved his armor. He used his power assistance to help Kohime evade faster than she could react on her own.

But he was too slow.

The mandible swords pierced into the shell using the gaps in the armor on her arms.


“Honestly.”

Mitotsudaira reached for her crushed hair and forcefully brushed it off.

With a brief inflation sound and some ether light shards, the hair returned to normal, although it was still a little kinked.

“And after my king groomed it for me and everything.”

She turned around and saw two movements.

The mobile shell let out a cry of pain in response to the pierced arms and the Silver Chains flew back toward her since their job was done.

She caught the blades they carried to her and she stepped out of the hole and onto the grass.

That was a close one.

She had noticed the enemy’s blind spot when she had decided to use the midair footholds like steps.

She had noticed how they reacted while she was rapidly circling around them.

A clear change had come over their attacks and counterattacks, so she had deduced they were using the mobile shell’s functions.

But strangely, the enemy had used ordinary movements to follow her. Instead of attacking behind themselves without turning to look, they had always turned to keep her in front of them.

That told her they had a blind spot for some reason or another.

The blind spots to either side had been the obvious ones since the enemy had always rapidly turned to match her movements to either side.

The other blind spots would be created by the vertical range of their vision, but she had not known how to determine that.

Until, all of a sudden, she had managed to do just that.

It happened when she attacked at the enemy’s chest from midair.

When their armor had moved on its own to defend, the blade had flown back behind the mobile shell.

The enemy’s head had not moved when that happened.

They had not seen it.

That had told her of a blind spot from their jawline to their chest.

Thus, the trick to defeating this foe was to move directly below them, where she could ignore the mobile shell’s assistance. She had realized that was her only option.

“The roar was not part of the plan, but you did well, Silver Chains.”

While she was down on all fours, the Silver Chains had moved below her to dig a hole large enough for her to lie in on her side.

The two m