Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 73
Chapter 73: Stopper Girl on the Field
And who will answer?
Point Allocation (A Legitimate Intruder)
Tomoe Gozen saw the enemy reinforcements arrive.
…Are those gods of war?
They had been carried in by armored transport ships flying low.
Her Testament copies had blocked her view, but they had dropped two objects.
She could hear them. One sounded like an awful lot of metal, whereas the other…
…Its footsteps sound a lot spryer.
Were these light gods of war or something?
Ishida Mitsunari had vanished when these reinforcements arrived. She had likely returned to her unit and the emperor on the east side of Nördlingen. She had given all of the enemy mobile shells a lernen figur, so she had clearly switched to supporting them through that. In other words…
“Is she letting the reinforcements handle things here?”
That suggested these two new opponents would be trouble.
Meanwhile, the Protestant side was low on numbers.
…We are trying to survive by firing on them while establishing a defensive formation and falling back to the north.
The anti-imperial fleet was providing intermittent support fire.
Bernard was fighting atop the hill.
But their numbers were still insufficient.
The enemy was heavily equipped, so their mobile shells could deflect bullets.
One of their units was holding Bernard in place, and…
…The imperial fleet has started responding to our fleet.
The ships on the other side of Nördlingen had started firing. That was the imperial fleet firing on the Protestant ships.
Ishida Mitsunari had prevented them from firing when they most needed to and now they had to respond to the shells arriving from the imperial fleet.
Also, the Musashi was slow to approach in the eastern sky.
It was not running late; it simply was not arriving quickly enough for how things had turned out.
That showed how much progress the enemy was making.
“I wish we could have taken out more of the enemy here before these two new enemy units arrived.”
If they moved west, the imperial fleet to the east would be unable to fire on them for fear of accidentally hitting Nördlingen, which would stand between them.
That was indeed what happened.
But that meant those ships would focus their fire on the Protestant fleet in the air.
They had predicted as much, but Ishida Mitsunari’s presence had unfortunately left the anti-imperial fleet focused entirely on defense.
…God, this is why I hate these fighters from a new era.
“For the past 500 years whenever the Divine States or Europe introduced a new weapon or tactic, I’ve groaned at yet again having something new to adapt to.”
Human technology had finally reached the point where they could create data entities as easily as automatons. No, that technology had existed during the Age of the Gods, but it had been lost and the many data entities could no longer maintain their existence and had disappeared.
Most of the gods were just a variation on a data entity. In that case…
“If people could create artificial gods during the Age of the Gods, does this mean we are approaching that level again now?”
“As someone who spent all her time fighting and finally became a messenger of god, it is my duty to face these new enemies.”
Tomoe Gozen prepared herself for a fight.
A wall appeared 200m in front of her.
Those were the Testament copies she had summoned from the ley lines. At that size, the writing was large enough that even someone piloting a god of war could easily read them.
The enemy seemed to crash into them, but those books would not be so easily destroyed.
She wished she could have summoned a bunch more of them further back.
Then enemies that slipped past could be taken out individually and the enemy’s advance could be slowed.
That had been her plan, but…
“You don’t always get what you want.”
She compressed the activation of the Testament copy stocker she wore on her back.
The miracles written on those books’ pages were directly linked to the Protestant spells she had created. With that stocker, she could use as many Protestant spells as she liked.
Why wouldn’t the Protestant leader get that kind of special treatment?
In an instant, the large Testament copy standing right in front of her was shattered.
A light was to blame.
A glowing beam had swept down next to her and sliced down into the ground.
Reactions were meant to be made immediately.
In that sense, Tomoe Gozen failed to react.
There were three reasons for this.
First, her wall of copies had been destroyed by the enemy’s attack so easily.
Second, that attack had come from a cannon rather than a direct blow or charge.
And third, the blast that had shattered the wall had been accompanied by something else: a sound.
The ear-splitting roar stretched out and ended on an “ah” sound.
The voice seemed to rip through the air rather than vibrate it.
After it sounded a second time, a second beam burst out and a line of explosions chased after it.
That had to be the power that had destroyed the Testament copy. The flat grassland was scattered into the air.
It was too late.
The light raced across everyone’s defense barriers and its power was unleashed a breath later.
The explosions tore down the far right flank of the defensive formation that had been waiting behind her.
And she saw two forms appear from the gaps in the shattered Testament copy wall.
The first was terribly tall.
They stood at nearly 4m and wore black armor.
…That’s one of the reinforcement units!
Was it a god of war?
The size suggested a light god of war, but that guess was quickly proven wrong.
She saw the fabric of an academy uniform through the ordinary joints.
That meant this was a giant or something wearing a mobile shell.
But the real problem was the other figure.
It too was enormous. It stood more than 2m tall and wore a mobile shell.
The head was covered by a metal mask and white smoke blew from the mouth.
The previous attack had come from this unit’s roar.
It had a thick build, but something else stood out more: the bones.
It had thick ribs, collarbones, arm bones, and leg bones. They all had motors and artificial muscles attached and it was all held together by the armor and fasteners.
This was a corpse made to move again.
But the fundamental movements were not just those of the motors.
“Is this another application of data entity tech?”
Bluish-white ether light surrounded its entire body.
…That is a ghost.
She could see the tall mobile shell was the same.
She was unsure who the tall one was, but she recognized the enormous skeletal one lumbering toward her.
She recognized what lay beyond the steel mask, the two horns extending toward the sky, the overall build, and everything else.
“It’s been 500 years, Lord Kiso.”
“Testament. It looks like the activation is progressing smoothly.”
In a snowy plaza, two figures sat on a bench in front of the Far East Academy Store located in front of a stone-walled castle.
One was Maeda Toshiie with Matsu on his shoulder and the other was Sassa who was eating a paper-wrapped pirozhki.
In front of them, Fuwa held her hands out toward an open-air stone hibachi.
“You mean those things we sent are actually moving? You never had a chance to test them much, did you?”
“Michi, it’s basically an application of my Kaga Millionen Geist. Except the summoned ghost was fixed in this world using their own remains. That created a mold for the ghost, which purified them as a data entity. One of them had lost most of his memories since the damage to the mold had been too severe, but fortunately, he still lives at an instinctual level.”
“Keh. Pathetic,” spat Sassa. “Why should we get help from some long-dead people?”
“They count as ordinary warriors and are thus not bound by inherited names. They might be the perfect fighters for assisting name inheritors, Na-chan. They will be one of the forces supporting Hashiba-kun once we retire.”
“Oh, is that so?” Sassa looked up into the sky. “It’s almost morning, so won’t the ghosts disappear?”
“Why do you think they had to be fixed in this world? Were you even listening, Sassa?”
“Ha ha ha. Michi, Na-chan decided right away he didn’t like this, so of course he wasn’t listening.”
“Stuuupid!” shouted Matsu. “Iiiimbecile!!”
“Who gave her a damn thesaurus!?”
The store’s door slid open and a tentacle poked his head out.
He was eating some fried potatoes.
“Oh, are you taking a break and watching the footage from Nördlingen!? The newcomers arranged by Maeda-sama are being activated, aren’t they!?”
“Mori, do you know who Lord Kiso is?”
“I do! Lord Kiso is Minamoto no Yoshinaka! Along with Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, he was one of the top three on the Minamoto clan side of the Genpei War! He successfully drove the Taira clan out of Kyou, but he was so heavily praised in Kyou he grew corrupt and failed to pursue the Taira clan. He opposed Yoritomo when the other man tried to enter Kyou in his place, but he was ultimately slain by Yoritomo and Yoshitsune’s forces!”
“How exactly did he grow corrupt?”
“The latest research has rejected the previously-accepted theory that he debauched himself at tentacle parties! Hey, what’s with those disappointed looks, everyone!? Of course there weren’t any tentacle parties! The Far East had no connection to the Dark Continent at the time!”
“Then what did he do?”
“Well,” said the tentacle while crossing a few tentacles and nodding. “The latest research says he was so taken in by Kyou’s culture that he forgot all about fighting and indulged in karaoke, kemari, and literature.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Sassa.
“A-anything can be a problem when not done in moderation! You simply do not understand, Sassa-sama! The records from the time say Yoshinaka’s forces took karaoke so far they kept earning high scores and requesting new songs, they took kemari so far they won a national championship, and they took literature so far they published a manga that became the basis for the Tale of the Heike!”
“I’m still not seeing what’s wrong with any of that,” said Fuwa.
“And I seem to recall hearing that led to the blossoming of culture there,” added Maeda.
They all crossed their arms and tilted their heads. After a pause, the tentacle spoke up again.
“The rules of the history recreation are to blame!!”
“Hey, quit arguing against Hashiba’s policy.”
“Oh, th-that’s right!” said the tentacle. “So even if you earn high scores in karaoke and reach the nationals in kemari, you deserve to be executed if you’re being a loser shut-in by refusing to leave Kyou!”
“Aren’t we being loser shut-ins eating store-bought food in a snowy northern nation right now?”
“Th-that just means we have to get to work, Fuwa-sama! For example, I have recently taken on a somewhat cultured part-time job as a critic!”
“Pff,” spat Fuwa. “So what do you review, Mori? Tentacle videos? ‘This video was fantastic! I award it 5 erect tentacles!’ ”
“F-Fuwa-sama, you haven’t been getting much sleep, have you!? Have you!? I’ll have you know I am reviewing music! I am the love song specialist for Sweet Treat the women’s PR magazine put out by the Shibata forces! I recently reviewed the song Loveloquence!”
“Oh, so you’re the one that got all mad it was a rock song based on an old story from the Heian period where some guy was so obsessed with his love that he stole her poop and was shocked to find how much he enjoyed the smell. You can’t just call the guards over that, you know?”
“Fuwa-sama, please do not use Age of the Gods terminology like ‘rock’! And you would call the guards too if someone stole your poop, wouldn’t you!?”
“Oh, come on. I don’t poop.”
“This again?” said Sassa. “Did you forget about at Sviet Rus when-”
Fuwa threw one of the hibachi’s metal chopsticks at Sassa as a warning.
“Don’t you dare say it! You’re the worst!”
“Whoa, watch out! What if that stabbed me!?”
“Ha ha ha,” laughed Maeda. “Is that anything to say after snatching it out of the air like that, Na-chan?”
“The worst! The worst! Piece of poop!” said Matsu.
“He really is,” agreed Fuwa and Mori sighed upon seeing it all.
“Why was the Far East going all out with the weird fetishes ever since ancient times? Frankly, it’s weird. Should I blame Shinto for this?”
“You say that, but in Tsirhc, you can swap out your son for a ram and it’s all the same and god really seems to ask for young boys a lot.”
“Hold it, Maeda-sama! Now you’re being intentionally misleading!” protested Mori. “Anyway, um, are the warriors you arranged for Nördlingen actually working!?”
“Testament.” Maeda opened a few new lernen figurs. “Komaoumaru and Onitakemaru are functioning properly. We can rest easy for now.”
“What was that name that sounds an awful lot like Komainu?”
“It’s a childhood name. Komaoumaru was the childhood name of Minamoto no Yoshinaka, who we sent over there. Onitakemaru is more well-known, but I hope Komaoumaru will move out to the front more. I want to see how well the OS has set in.”
“Maeda, you really like that technical stuff, don’t you? Do you feel obligated to keep an eye on the things you worked on?”
“It wasn’t just me. Technically, Niwa-senpai and Akechi-senpai worked on them too. I simply took over once Niwa-senpai left Kantou and Takigawa-senpai arrived to take her place.” He looked at a lernen figur. “But anyway, their first opponent might have too close a connection, but that just means they have to put in a real effort. Let’s see what we can accomplish when we bring together the full strength of Hashiba tech and my Kaga Millionen Geist.”
Tomoe Gozen faced her enemy.
They were 100m apart.
Her opponent said nothing and simply stood there with sword at the ready.
If he had been riding a mechanical horse, he truly would have been Kiso Yoshinaka.
What is going on? she wondered while hearing a voice behind her.
“Tomoe Gozen! Is this really Minamoto no Yoshinaka!?”
“Who else could this be!?”
“But, um.” Everyone hesitated and exchanged a glance before continuing. “Do historical figures generally shoot beams from their mouth!?”
“You better believe it.” She readily accepted that. “Yoshinaka is a demonic long-lived, but his demon blood was stronger. He would often shoot beams from his mouth back then. The combat-type demons have something like a demon cannon produced by releasing the contents of their ether organ.”
“What did he call it!?”
“ ‘Mouth Beam’.”
“Just that!? Really!? And doesn’t that violate the Testament!?”
“He was a warrior of Bandou, after all.”
“Thank you for that incredibly succinct explanation! …S-so can he shoot beams from his eyes too!?”
“What? Of course not. Are you stupid?”
“H-how is that fair!?”
Then another beam of light rushed in.
She was used to the roar by now, so she could dodge it. As for the warriors behind her…
The screamed, but they were still an elite unit. They must have shared the data after the first hit.
…They actually dodged it.
Okay, she added, but she was not actually thinking straight.
After all, that was her long-dead husband standing in front of her.
“I hate that I can’t really say I’m glad to see you. What have you been doing for the past 500 years, Yoshinaka?”
Honestly, she thought. Christina, I was telling you to meet your partner and actually speak your mind because I don’t want to see more people end up like me.
And more than that…
“Yoshinaka, if you had remained asleep, my heart could have been at peace.”
She had come all this way trusting in the brief love she had felt back then.
But she felt none of that sentimentality now.
This was the battlefield and Yoshinaka was not their only enemy.
She had seen another. A terribly tall mobile shell wielding a large sword.
“Hey, that isn’t a corpse inside there, is it? What is your name?”
The tall mobile shell casually turned around while doing something.
They grabbed one of the giant Testament copies growing from the ground and pulled it out as if hugging it.
…Are they some kind of monster!?
She had yet to disconnect the ether book from the ley line. It would only be an enormous book once she did that, but she had not. While it looked like a book, it was a wall still connected to the ley line.
Pulling that out was like grabbing a boulder growing up from the ground, breaking it off at the surface, and lifting it up.
But that mobile shell had done it.
“What is your name?”
“Oh, testament. Um.”
The mobile shell had set down the book and flipped through a few pages in apparent curiosity, but they turned around when she repeated her question.
Then they bowed and named themselves in a young female voice.
“I-I am Shima Sakon. Um, I serve Mitsunari-sama and am part of the Hashiba forces!”
After a pause, Sakon’s head suddenly jerked to the right.
It looked a lot like someone Tomoe Gozen could not see had yelled at her. Then she quickly made a correction.
“Oh, um, uh. I-I am part of the Shibata forces! I am with the Shibata forces right now!”
Sakon felt shaken after Onitakemaru yelled at her.
…You don’t have to yell right in my ear like that.
But his voice emitter was located by her ear, so he kind of did have to. It was possible he was trying to speak quietly.
At any rate, she shook her somewhat woozy head and completed her introduction to Tomoe Gozen.
“A-and this mobile shell is named Onitakemaru!”
Tomoe Gozen tilted her head, but that was to be expected. No one would know who that was.
So Sakon placed a hand on her chest and explained the best she could.
“He’s apparently very strong.”
She had no proof of that, but he seemed strong to her. She kind of wished she had omitted the “apparently”, but…
Onitakemaru: “Well, I am strong. Whether or not I can demonstrate that strength is up to you, though.”
“Wh-why are you so strict, Onitakemaru-san?”
Onitakemaru: “You keep speaking out loud when talking to me. No one else can hear my voice, so you sound like you are talking to yourself.”
“Eh? I don’t want that. This is supposed to my debut, so I don’t want to come off as a weirdo who talks to herself.”
Oh, she realized.
“You can just make it so everyone else can hear what you say.”
Onitakemaru: “How stupid are you!?”
“O-only stupid people call people stupid. You didn’t know that?”
Onitakemaru: “Just listen. If everyone could hear me, they would notice us, they would overhear our plans, and you would sound even weirder.”
That last one is definitely the most important, she decided. Being noticed and having your plan overheard were simple mistakes that could be made up for, but being branded a weirdo was something that never went away. So…
“O-okay, I get it. But what should I do?”
Onitakemaru: “Well, you could create a divine chat name for yourself.”
Just as he said that, Tomoe Gozen spoke to her.
“Is that Yoritomo inside there?”
Tomoe Gozen heard a confused voice and saw a tilt of the head from the tall mobile shell standing in front of her.
“I don’t know a Yoritomo.”
She doesn’t know who that is? thought Tomoe Gozen. So…
…Was I wrong?
But there was one thing anyone could see. Shima’s mobile shell was surrounded by bluish-white ether light.
“That ether light surrounding you is from a ghost.”
Unlike with Yoshinaka, the ghost was contained within the mobile shell with this one. And based on Shima’s reactions, Yoritomo was alive and speaking within there.
…He did seem like the type to have powerful regrets.
But Shima held her right palm out toward Tomoe Gozen.
“C-can you give me a moment?”
After a pause, her head jerked to the right again.
She must have been yelled at.
“W-whoa. Please stop yelling in my ear.”
Onitakemaru: “You fool! But aside from that, were you using me without even knowing who I am!?”
Will he be mad if I tell the truth? she wondered while explaining.
“Yes, I really didn’t know anything at all. But,” she added. “Um, are you really Yoritomo-sama?”
Onitakemaru: “I honestly want to know about that as much as you do. For me, I opened my eyes and found myself like this.”
“Oh, that doesn’t sound like fun. But,” she added again. “This came completely out of left field. I find it kind of hard to believe.”
Nari Nari Nari: “Oh, Sakon-san, that indeed contains the ghost of the real Lord Yoritomo.”
“Oh, so you are the real one.”
Onitakemaru: “So when she tells you, you don’t even question it!?”
“But, I mean, it’s kind of hard to believe the real Yoritomo-sama would be talking with me like this.”
Onitakemaru: “I will admit I used to avoid speaking directly with the people below me.”
“That sounds more like it. …And what is with that Onitakemaru name? That’s nothing at all like Yoritomo.”
Onitakemaru: “That was my childhood name. And just so you know, Yoshinaka over there has his OS named after his childhood name of Komaoumaru in the same way.”
“But more importantly,” said Onitakemaru.
Onitakemaru: “I am glad you at least know who I am. That simplifies matters.”
“Eh? Oh, testament. I have heard of you.”
Onitakemaru: “I fear I will regret this, but how much do you know about me?”
“Oh, testament, um, you were the one who…established the Kamakura shogunate.”
Onitakemaru: “What else?”
“C-come to think of it, can’t you just say all this!? Why are you asking me!?”
Onitakemaru: “Just do it.”
“I-if you insist. Um…oh! That’s right! You were exiled! Yes, they kicked you out!”
Onitakemaru: “Kh. …H-ho ho? What else?”
Was there anything more? She remembered hearing about him in class, but…
“Oh, right! You were assassinated!”
Onitakemaru: “That was my sons Yoriie and Sanetomo! I only died from falling off my horse!”
“But,” he said.
Onitakemaru: “Well, I had a lengthy life as a long-lived, so to preserve a stable rule, we used multiple interpretations to have me inherit the names of Yoriie and Sanetomo as well. When it was time for me to die, we tried to take care of some of their history recreations at the same time, but Yoshitsune showed up to assassinate me for real.”
“Oh, but that’s incredible.”
Onitakemaru: “Heh? Incredible, am I?”
“Testament. You were three generations of shogun at once and you still managed to get assassinated.”
Onitakemaru: “Is that some kind of cruel joke!? And excuse me for letting my guard down for like a second!”
“You can admit when you made a mistake? That’s a sign of a good leader,” said Sakon. “But are you sure you’re the real one? You don’t seem like you could do all that.”
Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”
Nari Nari Nari: “Um, if you are wondering why we would go to the trouble of reviving Lord Yoritomo, it is related to a humiliation I undergo according to the Testament. My circumstances then are much like Lord Yoritomo’s during his time in exile, so I wanted to use his ghost for the weapon protecting me.”
Onitakemaru: “Heh. So you will learn the troubles I lived through, will you? I do not envy you that.”
“Oh, so people are only interested in the shameful part of your life?” asked Sakon.
Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”
“P-please don’t get so mad. Besides, I’m originally from Austria, so I don’t know much about Far Eastern history.”
“Y-you’ve never heard of it? Did you live out in the countryside?”
Onitakemaru: “Why would I have heard of it, fool!? I woke up to find myself inside this mobile shell!”
She felt a little bad when he yelled that much over it. There was a part of him that made her think he might be a good person.
“You really don’t have to yell so much, you know?”
Onitakemaru: “Maybe if you were a little quicker on the uptake.”
“How am I supposed to react when my mobile shell suddenly starts claiming to be Yoritomo-sama?”
Onitakemaru: “And you expect a shogun to instantly adjust to becoming a mobile shell?”
“I know I couldn’t do it, but I’m not a shogun. Can’t you do better?”
Onitakemaru: “Damn you!”
Then she heard another voice.
It was Tomoe Gozen who was resting her Testament copy hammer on her shoulder.
“Just so you know, it is absurdly easy to get Yoritomo riled up.”
“Th-then this OS is the real deal!?”
“And one other thing.”
She tilted her head, so Tomoe Gozen pointed into the sky to the right.
That was south. What’s over there? she wondered while looking over.
“There are shells incoming.”
Before Tomoe Gozen even finished her sentence, an artillery shell crashed into Sakon’s chest and blew her away.
…That was quite the hit.
The Protestant ships had done well.
Thanks to Mitsunari’s spell, they had to aim manually and by eye. The ships would be fixed in place with defense barriers and the like, but scoring a direct hit like that was still impressive.
It probably helped that the enemy had arrived at the bottom of the hill.
The top of the hill acted as cover against the Protestant fleet in the southwestern sky.
But the tall mobile shell had removed the Testament copy wall, creating an opening through which to target her.
That meant the Protestant ships only needed to endure the Catholic artillery fire and find the right timing to shoot, but…
“There you are.”
A great roar belatedly arrived in the sky.
It had put the eastern Catholic fleet on guard and prevented them from firing.
That ceaseless roar came from a giant form pushing all of the air this way from the east.
“You finally made it, Musashi!!”
Tomoe Gozen saw the Musashi approaching from behind the enemy fleet on a course to pass above them.
It was so large it almost appeared directly overhead already.
She saw the imperial fleet split to the north and south.
To be making this much noise, the Musashi had to have deactivated most of its buffering spells.
“That means they recognize this for the emergency it is. All the wind buffeting the fleet will alert the enemy to their presence.”
The Musashi did not do this often. The noise and wind produced when their buffering spells were down would wreak havoc on the local ecosystem and terrain. But they were doing it now.
“Is that because they understand we are the ones asking for help here? They certainly think highly of themselves nowadays. And…”
The imminent wind and noise would protect the Musashi forces from something.
“This prevents the enemy from attacking while you drop your fighters down, doesn’t it!?”
Matthias looked up at the approaching roar.
This was his second time seeing the Musashi. Well, he had seen it countless times in the distance, but this was his second time seeing it up close as an enemy.
The first time had been at Magdeburg.
But even then, it had not flown by overhead like this.
Back then, he had only been able to look up at it high in the sky, think how super cool it was, and then say goodbye.
But this was different.
…It’s coming to us.
He leaned back to look straight up.
That gave him a view of the long bow piercing the sky.
It was enormous.
Three of his fleet’s 300m light warships fit below just one of the Musashi’s ships overhead.
It had a total of eight such ships, so it was like a multi-ship fleet packed in close together.
He was glad he had gotten to see this. Not many people managed to see it pass by directly overhead.
Then the sky grew wider, yet noisier and heavier.
His fleet had split to north and south to avoid the massive blast of wind.
But he could not focus only on what was happening overhead.
Here on the surface, they had to prepare for the Musashi fighters who would be dropping down.
The wind pressure slamming into them created an opening.
Mitsunari had predicted there would be too much wind for even the mobile shells to perform a charge.
The roar rumbled in their ears.
The Musashi fighters would be dropping down while the noise slammed into them, so the troops placed out ahead to strike back against the Musashi forces fell back some.
Matthias also moved east with his bodyguards.
What’s going to happen here? he wondered.
That was when a divine transmission arrived from Niwa who was headed north by traveling around Nördlingen’s east side.
“Lord Matthias! What are you doing over there!?”
“Huh? Musashi is arriving with their buffering spells deactivated, so I am temporarily withdrawing.”
She sounded confused, but he was not sure why.
“Umm,” she said while choosing her words. “Hold on just a second, okay? …Mitsunari-kun!”
“Testament! Wh-what is it!? Did I make some kind of mistake? U-um, if I did…”
“Hey, calm down, okay? I just have a question.”
Wondering what this was all about, Matthias saw words appear on his lernen figur while he fell back with the others.
Niwa had asked her question.
“Mitsunari-kun? You can be in multiple places at once right now, can’t you? Could you come as far this way as your movable range allows and listen to the sounds here? Something is bothering me.”
Mitsunari was primarily on the front line. She had left the west to Sakon and Yoshinaka, so most of her had returned to her own unit to the east.
However, every unit’s front line was stopped due to the movement in the sky.
Sakon had taken a hit to the west, but…
…She will be fine.
She was sure of that. She could also predict this battle would be an important one for Onitakemaru.
Mitsunari had decided it was best to let them do what they could and take what hits they would take. The potential she had seen in the two of them told her she could do that.
So for now…
“Everyone, prepare to move on my signal.”
She was curious about Niwa’s request.
She had to check on that.
And whatever Niwa had meant, there were only three options on the battlefield: stay put, advance, and withdraw.
Withdrawal was not an option at the moment. So…
“To be honest, this is a difficult decision, but my decisions are generally focused on efficiency. Please just interpret this as getting stuck with a bad commander.”
Everyone laughed at that.
“Are you kidding? This makes it way easier to be an underling!”
“Inefficient and humane decisions would only make the pain last longer!”
“Show us how crazy your efficiency can get and we’ll use our experience to get it done.”
“Testament,” she said. “Then wait just a moment.”
She multiplied herself.
After falling back to the east, Matthias all of a sudden noticed Mitsunari standing next to him.
The troops deep in the southwest forest, while keeping their distance from or approaching the split-up Bernard, saw Mitsunari standing behind a tree with a hand to her ear.
Unit 2 atop the hill saw her while they looked down at Unit 1 glaring at the enemy.
So did the ones watching the Musashi’s approach from the ships falling back to the eastern sky.
Even Niwa did while trying to move north of Nördlingen.
“Hello, Niwa-sama.” Mitsunari bowed to her. “I have completed my observations from multiple locations. I fear my observations within Nördlingen itself were insufficient, but this is what I could confirm from atop the hill.”
She displayed an image of Nördlingen.
The city was surrounded by a circular wall. In the dim light of early morning, guards were keeping an eye on the outside and smoke was rising into the sky as bakeries began baking bread and other early morning work began.
“This is what it looks like with the data you requested.”
Red bars rose up within a radius extending from Nördlingen’s city wall to the east to south.
“This is the noise of the Musashi’s approach heard from the sky.”
The noise was being measured in real time, so the red bars on the lernen figur were fluctuating even now. But…
“I will get straight to the point. Each line has a unique maximum and minimum to its fluctuation and a unique sound. Everything seems in order to me, so what did you think was a problem?”
Niwa raised her right hand and hurried her entire body’s movements while slapping that hand against her forehead.
Something isn’t right, she thought.
She sensed something odd in how the unbuffered noise of Musashi’s approach sounded.
If she had to describe it…
“This doesn’t seem like enough to me.”
But the screen showed that the noise was indeed pointing to the Musashi’s arrival.
The emperor’s personal fleet directly below the Musashi received a unique noise from the Musashi’s central ships and from the port and starboard ships surrounding them.
Mitsunari’s unit, which was headed to the front and starboard, naturally heard the sound of the 1st starboard ship slicing through the air.
And Niwa’s own unit to the rear starboard side heard the wind created by the outer hull and the very bottom of the starboard ships.
It was a splendid combination and variation of sound. But…
“Something seems so off about it. What is this?”
“What do you mean by off?” asked Mitsunari.
“Shaja,” replied Niwa. “It almost seems too perfect. Although I will admit this is my first time hearing the Musashi unbuffered.”
“Testament. Not even I have a library file on the current Musashi Mk. 2’s unbuffered state. But what do mean by ‘too perfect’? …Oh, um, sorry. It is just that perfect seems like a goal to strive for, so how could anything be ‘too perfect’?”
“Fair enough,” said Niwa before tilting her head. “But ‘too perfect’ is the only way I can describe what I am hearing. What I mean is…”
The noise grew louder as she spoke. The red lines indicating the Musashi’s noise all grew much taller.
The noise reaching their ears was gradually increasing in volume.
It was now too loud to hear quieter voices.
Mitsunari pointed to the west.
“Niwa-sama! If you are unsure what seems ‘off’ to you, I recommend maintaining your current state of caution against the Musashi’s atmospheric buffering. In fact…”
Several low sounds could be heard in the distance.
Gunfire was being exchanged by the troops holding position to the west and southwest of Nördlingen.
There was no time.
They had to set up a formation north of Nördlingen before the Musashi forces could drop down.
So Niwa nodded toward Mitsunari.
“Looks like we don’t have much choice. I will remain cautious and we can wait to figure this out until later. So-”
She was about to tell Mitsunari to wait in the west until the wind was gone and then resume advancing, but that was when she realized what it all meant.
Mitsunari saw Niwa make a split-second decision.
She suddenly grabbed a rifle from a nearby soldier.
“I will be borrowing this.”
She fired a single bullet to the west.
Mitsunari heard the gunshot, but…
…That will never reach anyone in the west.
The height of the city wall was part of the problem, but they could not see anyone over there. It would be one thing if she were trying to shoot their own soldiers on the southwestern hill or the ones fighting the Swarm Dragon in the forest, but hitting the enemy was another thing.
However, Niwa looked up and then spoke to everyone else here.
She fired another shot into the roar approaching from the sky.
The bullet flew toward Nördlingen’s wall. That solid stone wall reflected the sunlight that was gradually filling the sky.
It hit the wall and the sound echoed back.
When Niwa nodded and turned back toward the others, her unit began to raise their hands.
“I-I figured it out!” shouted a female student with a wind instrument hanging from her neck. “The noise coming from the sky isn’t echoing off the distant terrain!”
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