Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 18

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Chapter 18: Accuser at the Port[edit]

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How did you

End up like that?

Point Allocation (I’m the Same)


Kiyomasa only now realized what she was doing.

She was on the boarding gangway leading to the transport ship as it prepared to depart.

Fukushima was boarding the ship and she stood at its entrance.

The people seeing the ship off were already gathered on the wharf.

The ship would be leaving once Fukushima was onboard and it would be above enemy territory to begin with. It would be hurrying to the west to disguise its course and thus keep its destination a secret.

Now was not the time to be approaching the ship.

She was very clearly interfering with its departure. However…

Fukushima-sama.

Her eyes had met Fukushima’s when the girl had arrived on deck earlier.

She had looked surprised, but Kiyomasa had seen something else in her face.

Fear.

Why was that?

Did Fukushima want to avoid her?

She did not understand. Plus, Fukushima had proceeded to lower her gaze, look scolded, and then look away from her entirely.

That had honestly been a close one.

Kiyomasa was hiding her “testament” pillow in her chest. Having that discovered would be very bad indeed. She did not want to be labeled “weird” immediately before they left.

But she had something else on her mind too.

“Fukushima-sama.”

Fukushima was not turning back toward her.

Kiyomasa called her name, hoping that unmoving back would look her way.

I…

She wanted to say something about the look on Fukushima’s face earlier. But…

“––––”

Her voice would not come. She tried to form the words, but only her lips moved.

I can’t do it.

Why did you look at me that way?

I don’t get it.

We were together so much and shared so much time together during the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle and the training before that.

We laughed together, we accepted each other, and it was so much fun. So…

“Fukushima-sama,” she said. “Did I do something to you?” She took a breath. “Why did you look so frightened when you saw me?”


Fukushima reflexively turned back toward Kiyomasa.

I was not!

Had she reacted to the word “frightened” because she was a warrior?

No.

That was not it.

She was not afraid of Kiyomasa. Quite the opposite. She wanted to be with Kiyomasa.

But she could not gather her thoughts on the matter and she feared any careless act here might just make Kiyomasa hate her.

Her fear was directed at her own actions, not at Kiyomasa. So…

Kiyo-dono.

She tried to say Kiyomasa had it wrong. But…

“–––––”

Their eyes met.

Kiyomasa’s blue eyes were staring straight at her.

She felt like those eyes were seeing right through to her thoughts and she could tell she was worrying Kiyomasa, which made her feel even more apologetic.

“…”

She could not bear to look directly at Kiyomasa.

She turned her eyes to the right while trying to make it as unnoticeable as possible. Looking down was not an option because then she would see that chest again.

But once her gaze was removed from the girl, her mouth managed to move.

She let out an unusually heated breath while her lips parted.

Her voice was pathetically quiet.

“I…am not afraid of thou.”


Not again, thought Kiyomasa.

Fukushima was acting strangely.

That girl prided herself in her strength, so why was she afraid of Kiyomasa? And…

Why is she lying about it?

She had never shown this kind of fear during their interplay of offense and defense while sparring. She had fled from attacks, but she had never hidden and she had always remained on the same stage.

This was different.

She was running away, cowering, and trying to hide.

She was running away, but she was not searching for a path toward fighting back.

She was running away and nothing beyond that.

So she lied.

That was what hurt most.

Why?

Why was she lying?

Kiyomasa just wished she knew the reason why.

If she had done something wrong, she might be able to fix it if she knew what it was. And she was prepared to forgive Fukushima for anything.

And yet…

“Why?”

Fukushima refused to look her in the eye, responded with fear, avoided her, and kept her distance, but none of that was the worst part.

Her lies hurt more than any of it.

Because it told her Fukushima did not trust her.

I’m so stupid.

Was I wrong all this time when I thought she trusted me?

And now everything I thought I knew is falling apart.

“Please don’t lie.”

She tried to feign calm as best as she could manage.

Fukushima reacted with a gasp, and…

“I am not lying.”

That response was joined by the transport ship’s horn.

It was leaving.

The horn nearly drowned out her voice, but it still reached Kiyomasa’s ears.

“You are.”

“I am not.”

“Then,” said Kiyomasa. “Can you tell me one thing?”

She had been wondering this.

If she received an answer to this, she would forget all of her doubts about Fukushima. It was a very easy question to answer, but she placed such great weight on it.

Because she wanted so very badly to trust her.

“Where were you before coming here?”


Fukushima thought she could hear the blood draining from her face.

She doesn’t know, does she!?

No, she could not. If Kiyomasa had noticed her there, she would have woken her, sat by her side, or made some other approach. She trusted Kiyomasa enough to know that.

But, thought Fukushima.

Her own room had been empty when she had rushed back there to grab her luggage.

So she calmed her breathing and responded.

“I was napping.”

And…

“Napping in my room.”

Kiyomasa spoke before she was even finished answering.

“You’re lying.”

That response was enough to elicit an “Eh?” from Fukushima. But…

“You’re lying!”

Hearing that, Fukushima wondered if Kiyomasa really had seen her in her room.

Whatever the case, her thoughts raced, trying to find some way to smooth this over.

But then she saw it.

“You’re lying…”

Kiyomasa was crying even as she accused Fukushima.


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No.

I mustn’t cry. It would worry her if I did. But…

I don’t want this.

I don’t want her to lie to me.

I don’t want her to not trust me.

I don’t want her to ignore everything I say.

I don’t want any of this.

Why can’t all of this be a lie or a dream so it can just go away.

I can’t take it anymore.

“No.”

She wiped the tears from her eyes, but more took their place.

“Kiyo-dono…”

“Stop it.”

Stop it. Don’t bother. If I’m not important enough for the truth…

Then don’t bother pretending to care about me!

I never knew kindness could make you feel so pathetic.

But they’re leaving. I’m only in the way. Yes, she doesn’t even trust me, so all I am is in the way. But…

“Fukushima-sama.”

I’m sorry.

I’m already crying and there’s no hiding it now. So…

“Can I burden you with one last thing?”

I’m allowed this much, aren’t I?

“O-of course. Anything.”

“Well,” said Kiyomasa. “I love someone.”

She could not believe how easily the words came.

“But,” she continued. “It looks like I’m nothing but a nuisance to them.”

So…

“I’m going to tell only you who it is and then forget any of it ever happened.”


Fukushima thought she heard the horn sound a second time.

The ship was leaving.

Kani was shouting something from the deck up above, but it did not reach her ears.

She was frozen in place.

Kiyo-dono loves someone?

She could only think of one thing to say.

“Who is-”

“It’s you.”

As soon as the words reached her, the transport ship’s door shut.

They were out of time.


Kani saw the ship leave and the gangway withdraw at the very last second.

On it, Kiyomasa was walking away with her back turned.

Kani looked back toward Nabeshima and Asano, but…

Massive Katou-senpai!?

She had not heard what those two had said, but it had not looked like an angry argument. And yet Massive Katou had ended up in tears.

Is it about friendship!?

But Fukushima herself was not here. The people down on the Azuchi’s deck would fall out of view before long.

“Fukushima-senpai!”

Kani ran toward the stairs leading below deck.

She opened a lernen figur, but there was no response or post from Fukushima. Only…

Nabe3: “I guess Kiyomasa-senpai really does love Fukushima-senpai.”

Asano: “Yeahhh, I heard some realllly annoying talk on thaaat subject today.”

She did not know what that was about, but she left the rest of them on the deck. She was used to these kinds of things after seeing it happen so much in high school, but…

“Fukushima-senpai! Massive Katou-senpai ran away!”

She ran down to the second floor corridor and found Fukushima collapsed there.

Collapsed on her back.

Her head was leaning against the wall with the rest of her sprawled out in the corridor.

“Fukushima-senpai!?”

After running over to the motionless girl, Kani found she did appear conscious.

But her eyes were on the fully-shut door and her emotions seemed to have shut down.

When Kani lifted Fukushima’s hand and let go, it flopped right back down to the floor.

“Fukushima-senpai! Hey! Are you okay!?”

That question resulted in sudden movement.

Fukushima sprang up into a sitting position and then collapsed forward.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!”

Kani could see a mixture of tears and anger as Fukushima shouted.

Then Fukushima slammed her forehead against the door like she was trying to break through it.

With a loud thud, the corridor clearly shook. And…

“Aghhh!”

She sucked in a dry breath of anger and collapsed back down onto the floor.

She stopped moving again.

Kani could guess that Fukushima had failed at something.

B-but what!?

She had no idea what was going on, but…

“Umm, how should I carry her!?”

When in doubt, rely on the M.H.R.R. Warrior’s Manual. She followed its guidance by ejecting Sasamura and placing Fukushima on top to transport her to the medical room.

“You had a tough time in battle, so you need some rest!”


“Okay, rest time is over! The name of the game tonight is time reduction!”

The sky overlooking the Seto Inland Sea was gradually rotating.

The view was clear in all 360 degrees. The sky was visible above and a giant aerial city was visible below.

This was the Musashi.

The giant ship was made of 8 smaller ships and now it was turning in the dead of night.

The bow was shifting from southwest to east.

“We are preparing for our trip to Kantou. While we turn, evenly distribute the ships’ supplies and the transport ships arriving from below. Are the supplies still coming in from the Udon Kingdom!?”

Masazumi gave instructions in the emergency Student Council command center set up on Musashino’s bow.

She looked up into the sky to see many transport ships coming and going, but the ones from the Udon Kingdom were all coming alongside Musashi’s larger ones and carrying their cargo inside their holds or onto their decks.

Circle Be: “Yayyy! I love harbor management work!”

Vice President: “Hey, are you sure about this? Can we really leave by morning?”

Circle Be: “It’ll be fine! Just fine! There’s a trick to it, but I’ll have all the supplies and support materials loaded so we can leave for Kantou.”

Masazumi put a hand on her hip and sighed at Heidi’s response.

“It’s a rough method, but that’s unavoidable in a race against time.”

Gold Mar: “Loading the supplies and materials normally takes 3 days no matter how much we speed it up, but we’re doing it all in one night.”

“Yeah,” said Masazumi. “We need to hurry to Kantou with supplies and materials for Satomi and Mouri.”

Which required this.

“We’ll finish the basic preparations tonight and the Musashi will depart for Kantou tomorrow morning. But the trip to Kantou will take three days. That’s our current plan.”


They needed to secure supplies and materials for Kantou and stock up the Musashi’s own reserves.

They would effectively complete that tonight and depart.

Masazumi knew the plan was unrealistic and everyone was wondering the same thing.

Worshiper: “Is this really possible? I’m sure the Musashi already had its own reserves, but still.”

Ohiroshiki was answered by Augesvarer.

Excitement filled her voice.

Circle Be: “It’ll be fine! Just fine! The trick is that it takes three days.”

“You see,” she began.

Circle Be: “Musashi is an aerial city ship. We all know that, but people tend to overlook it. The Commerce and Industry Guild doesn’t of course and our transport ship fleet is arranged accordingly, but I don’t think they’ve ever done something on this large a scale.”

The basic idea was simple. To sum it up…

Circle Be: “We’ll be resupplied by pursuit.”

Meaning…

Circle Be: “The Musashi is a giant ship, but it doesn’t use up all of its reserves right away. So all of the supplies plus what we’ll use up en route are loaded up on transport ships that pursue or move out ahead of us to get the supplies to us. You can think of it as being resupplied over three days while we travel. Taking three days to reach Kantou is a pretty slow pace, but since we can resupply while doing so, this should speed everything up.”

10ZO: “Won’t the pursuing transport ships incur high fuel costs?”

Circle Be: “That’s why we’ve gathered up merchants within Musashi who want to prove themselves. The Udon Kingdom is a major trade city, so buying up enough reserves for the Musashi and enough supplies and materials for Kantou will be an excellent deal for everyone involved. If they can find the profit line here, then establishing a connection with the Udon Kingdom will mean a lot.”

Flat Vassal: “Not to mention that the Udon Kingdom is also known as Sanuki!”

Circle Be: “You’d almost think that was its real name!”

10ZO: “You are in awfully high spirits, Heidi-dono.”

Art-Ga: “Because she’s finally working again. There’s nothing sweeter for a money-lover like her.”

Gold Mar: “She was also freed from the udon.”

Unturning: “She still has to pay back her debt, so it’s more like she’s living in denial while she can.”

Circle Be: “Don’t say thaaaaaaaaat! And who just started a thread titled ‘Udon Recs: Prostration Special’ on the divine network!? Partner with us and let us plaster the thread with ads!”

She never changed.

Anyway, the female udon was probably commanding the transport ships from the sky above.

Circle Be: “Some of the merchants are planning to get cargo takeout at a trade port along the way instead of buying it at the Udon Kingdom. Nothing beats a wide array of connections. Once a ship is ready, they’ll load as much cargo onto the Musashi as they can. Once the Musashi’s deck is too crowded for that, they’ll go on ahead and the Musashi will catch up to them, accept their cargo, and say bye. The more maneuverable small and midsized merchants are flying out ahead of us right away to reduce overall transport costs.”

Vice President: “That explains why I see so many ships flying east instead of coming and going here. We really have to thank the Udon Kingdom’s capacity. I’m impressed they could handle all of this.”

Circle Be: “Oh, don’t think that. That’s exactly what they want.”

“Really?” asked Masazumi.

Silver Wolf: “The Udon Kingdom hasn’t been getting as much trade traffic since K.P.A. Italia was absorbed by M.H.R.R. The trade lines used to sell grains to K.P.A. Italia and Hexagone Française are being reworked to assist M.H.R.R., but until they get that done, they have inventory sitting around without anyone to sell it to.”

“Exactly,” said Augesvarer.

Circle Be: “Plus, Europe wants cheap food right now thanks to the Thirty Years’ War and that will only increase after the war. Because the population explodes once peace arrives. That means a grain-producing region across the inland sea from Europe is going to be doing tons of business in the future. So the major merchants want to protect their connections with the Udon Kingdom and the midsized ones hope to get a piece of or outright take over the major ones’ connections by buying up all that dead inventory. They might lose money in transport costs this time, but it will all be worth it if they can steal those connections here. As Treasurer, we’re paying 10% of the fuel costs to ensure everyone can keep up without any delays in departure and arrival times.”

Some of the large transport ships in the sky were directly linked with ones from the Udon Kingdom.

Is that how they’re sending entire transport ships to Satomi or Mouri as supplies?

The Udon Kingdom directly faced K.P.A. Italia and Hexagone Française. Their flight would not be much different from a full-size aerial ship. They were already forming a row of ships to the east with a virtual ocean trailing behind them.

So…

Circle Be: “The trade negotiations must end by dawn. Once everything is decided, it’s time to leave for Kantou. Masazumi, your job is to ensure the Musashi leaves on time and to manage its travel. ‘Musashi’ and the others will handle all that, but you’re in command.”

“Then,” said Masazumi. “The Musashi will depart for Kantou tomorrow morning. The Treasurers will handle payment of the transport ships in Musashi’s care. Because I am sure they will come in handy in Kantou as well.”

Me: “Hey, I’m being forced to work for free at the non-main Blue Thunder, but is it really worth getting to Kantou so quickly?”

Vice President: “Yes, there is a simple reason for that.”

Tachibana Wife: “I have to ask. Is there any way this will not lead to a clash with the Hashiba forces over here?”

“Judge,” replied Masazumi.

Vice President: “Simply put, it’s all a form of harassment.”

Why did it take a full ten seconds before anyone posted anything else on the divine network?