Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 59
Chapter 59: Travelers at an Intersection
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.”
“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…”
“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.
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.
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.”
“B-but, I, uh, might not, you know, be doing anything with Kiyo-dono.”
“Eh? You’re not?” asked Takenaka.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“We’re gonna do it.”
“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.”
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- A reference to Toshimaen, which could be misinterpreted as being named after the word “toshima” which refers to middle-aged women.