Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 53
Study: Layout of the Kantou Liberation and Nördlingen
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7: Withdrawn transport ships carrying Kani and Kasuya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
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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…”
“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?
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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