Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 72

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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.