Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 23

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 23: Hunter on Vertical Footing[edit]

Horizon8A 611.jpg

Strangely enough

I am falling

Toward you

Point Allocation (Fall Speed)


Muneshige felt strength.

But not the strength of a strike, a blow, or a push.

This was a strength that eliminated all else at a touch.

Nothing would remain and that was the entire idea. Claws were swung with the force of a sword.

“Hee hee.”

Just like a playful animal, her timing managed to catch him by surprise even when he was waiting for it. There was a “pause” before the strength rushed in, forcing him to block it whether he wanted to or not.

When a large animal decided to use its size and speed to play like a puppy, was there any way to avoid it? And if all else would be destroyed from that play…

“…”

Muneshige began his evasion.

He kicked off the frame he was using for footing, hoping to block the way to Gin.

But the animal leaped.

She twisted her body and made a light jump with the seemingly innocent timing of a pet pursuing its owner.

Instead of hunting him down, she was grabbing at him to capture him. And…

“…!”

It was accompanied by a flurry of attacks.

Her claws tore through the air with a high-pitched scraping.

The wind was pierced and the ends of her claws occasionally glowed like sparks.

The light and sound showed the paths of the wolf’s scratching claws.

But this was not one long arc at a time.

More and more long arcs all appeared at once, some moving out ahead of him or circling above and below him.

It was a pack.

If he twisted around and tried to descend, he would be repeatedly torn by the claws.

He was thrown into that flurry of motion in an instant.

I see!

He understood what made ghosts and aggressive animals so frightening. The way they tried to cling to and capture you had the same innocence as a child or small animal.

There were no worldly thoughts there.

There was no hesitation, only the enjoyment of the act.

That was what pursued him now. So…

“How about I play along!?”

He used Racing Toes. But unlike before, he activated it on his stepping feet and moving arms.

“––––––”

He ran on top of the Reine des Garous’s attacks.


Gin saw it happen while she descended.

She could tell Muneshige was buying time for her descent, but during that 0.2 seconds…

They are picking up speed!

Both of them were running on the frame while using something else to accelerate.

They used each other’s attacks to fuel their acceleration.

The Reine des Garous used Kamenuki’s blows to her claws to help pull her arms back.

Muneshige predicted the path of her claws and used that for Kamenuki’s acceleration.

Whenever they had an opening, they would also use their feet.

“–––––”

The two of them repeatedly twirled in the air amid the sparks and minor sounds of impact.

But not because any attacks were landing. They were using each other’s attacks to move themselves.

Master Muneshige!

Standing atop a blade was his special skill. People often laughed it off as an acrobatic stunt, but how else could you explain him using Racing Toes to step on the Reine des Garous’s claws now? And…

“He’s moving forward!”

She kept Arcabuz Cruz at the ready while she noted that he was now using the Reine des Garous’s attacks for footing more than the frames. He jumped off her claws, arms, and attacks to close in on her.

Their battle rang loud, but eventually the time came. A round of the battle had ended, so they exhaled in unison.

For a brief moment, strength left them.

The 0.2 seconds were over. But the very next moment, they breathed in to fill themselves with strength once more.

“…!”

They both sent a burst of speed toward their opponent to end it.


Muneshige watched the Reine des Garous’s jabbing right hand.

He had accelerated Kamenuki toward it when she raised her hand.

But not as an attack.

Targeting her claws now would not stop her. So…

Her head!

The spear had just enough speed to reach her head. But…

“Hee hee.”

She noticed.

And she took action. She used her raised right arm’s elbow to push her long and voluminous hair backwards.

Pulling on her hair would move her head as well. Her entire upper body leaned back.

“Now what?”

The spear tip could no longer reach her.

In fact, she had now used her entire body to ready her attack.

“Here goes.”

With a tornado spin, her claws flew in toward him from the outer left. And in a way that shifted herself to the side, preventing Kamenuki from targeting her head.

He did not panic, nor did he take a defensive stance. He only opened his mouth.

“Gin!”

He received an immediate response.

Something hit hard against the bottom of his left foot.

It was a shell.

While Gin descended below him, she had determined the optimal moment for support and fired Arcabuz Cruz.

This was only an option thanks to enduring the previous flurry of attacks while staying near his opponent.

Kicking off the shell allowed him to adjust his midair attitude and accelerate.

He moved further inward than the queen’s right jab.

He could dodge it.

He had twisted himself to hit her with his right shoulder, so it looked a lot like he was leaping toward her while turned a bit to the side. That only left one thing…

Hitting her in the neck with Kamenuki!

He was aiming toward the jewelry on her neck.

He accelerated the spear tip toward that golden gleam.

In that instant, he saw the wolf’s attack. Her jabbing right hand’s fingers had been pressed together before, but now…

“Here.”

She spread them apart.

It almost looked like a spear tip blossoming like a flower and growing five fingers from within.

Her right hand’s path had been stuck on a course that would miss him, but the spread fingers tore at the air. The ring and little fingers in particular.

This path!

The raised air resistance of the spread fingers altered her hand’s course toward him.

He had already twisted to the right, so he used that. He pulled Kamenuki in and spun to the right to overcome this.

Just then, he sensed movement outside his vision, but the intuition that allowed him to fight someone on this level told him it was another attack.

Her left hand!

Her right hand was meant to hit him, but it was also a diversion.

If he focused too much on that, another attack would reach him: her jabbing left hand.

So he decided to dodge again.

He used the same shell he had stepped on before. It was still in midair.

His memories told him he had pressed down and left on it with his left foot to move right.

So where was the shell now?

He knew the answer: down and to the left.

He could not see it, but it had to be there.

How could he ever lose track of a gift Gin had sent him?

So he twisted Kamenuki around with his body, pointing it in that direction.

Down and to the left was below the fingers sent his way, so he would essentially be sending his rightward twisting body to the left.

That would place a burden on his body, but he did not mind.

This was nothing compared to the burden that had damaged his leg before.

“–––––––”

He used that thought to gather his resolve.

He did it.

Slipping below her fingers would take some doing, but that was a problem he could solve with his own movements.

He could finally see the Reine des Garous’s left hand.

Her summer uniform’s sleeve had been lost and the slender arm was drawing a glowing arc as it flew toward him.

It came from below for something like a smash uppercut.

The angle made it a pincer attack when joined with her right fingers. Which meant…

Whether I kick off her right fingers or left claws, the other arm will catch me and crush me!

The word “bite” came to mind and he needed to escape from it.

“Time to go!”


Muneshige sprang through the air.

He had leaned to the side to dodge below the fingers rushing in from the left.

“Kamenuki!”

He accelerated toward…

There it is!

Gin’s shell was partially crushed and he launched Kamenuki toward it.

He accelerated toward it, but then it vanished.

He did not have time to question it. Kamenuki had already locked on, so it pursued the shell.

That took him toward…

“The Silver Cross!?”

“Sorry. That wasn’t very nice of me.”

His opponent’s right leg was somewhat raised.

She had kicked the shell away. Kicked it toward the Silver Cross pushed out ahead of her.


The Reine des Garous saw Muneshige thrown off course while his spear stabbed into the Silver Cross.

The shell struck and bounced off of the Silver Cross and the spear’s tip lodged itself in a gap in the cross’s frame.

“This is payback for what you did before,” she said.

In other words…

“My Silver Cross can transform too.”

Realization flashed across Muneshige’s face.

Then the cross transformed by folding into a small box. But as it did so…

“It can bite.”

That was exactly what happened.

The compactly folding cross bit at his spear.

“––––––”

The spear was deflected violently outwards.

It was now flying away from the folded silver box.

She had already prepared for a dash and he was floating where he had been knocked away.

“Again, sorry.”

She collected the box from the air and ran.

She accelerated after her prey that had already entered the large hollow below.


The Reine des Garous ran along the vertical frame.

If she could dive down faster than Tachibana Gin and catch up before she stalled, then she would win this.

So she pursued, leaping toward the starting line of this new race.

But before she could…

“Gin!”

Someone passed her by at even greater speed.

She knew who it was. She had stopped his speed just a moment before, so she concluded this was his worry for his wife at play.

This is the speed of his wholehearted devotion.

She smiled, wondering how it would compare to her full strength.

Her own husband had once carried her home when he was worried about her. That had been an issue of strength and this was one of speed, but…

I understand.

She had apparently inspired great concern in him. So…

“That’s just how it is between wolves and humans.”

Pausing to smile had reduced her speed, so she came to a stop.

She stabbed her claws into the vertical frame and looked down from there.

There was a 20m gap directly below her. That was where the vermilion cross’s shockwave had erupted earlier.

The Tachibana husband was holding the wife in his arms at the bottom of that space.

He was looking up at her.

“We got away, so this is our win!”


Gin initially spat out her breath in surprise, but then she cleared her throat and struck Muneshige’s shoulder.

“Master Muneshige, running away is nothing to be proud of. Not to mention that I don’t think those were the original rules.”

After an earnest nod to her, he looked up at the queen overhead.

“Then…can we call this a draw!?”

“I can accept that.” The Reine des Garous smiled down at them and nodded. “I am very pleased with what you showed me here. I will advise your teacher to take that into consideration.”


“Hmm, I guess a draw would be 50 points, but they did manage to impress the Reine des Garous. Okay, Gin and Muneshige get 60 points.”

“Sensei! Doesn’t my mother’s approval deserve more than 10 points!?”

“They can’t finish the race, so they’re lucky to get that.”

Mitotsudaira listened to Oriotri’s response while running through the residential district toward Okutama’s bow and approaching the nature district.

She had the greater speed. She was weary, but all she had to do was hurry and run. Thanks to the distance she could cover with each burst of speed, she could move so much easier than the last time they did this.

Oriotri was technically in range of the silver chains, but the distance was too great for that to be effective. She would “see” it coming like this, so it wouldn’t do anything to slow her. So if possible…

Silver Wolf: “Naito! Naruze! Are you free!?”

Gold Mar: “Um, not really. This is real pain.”

What’s going on up there?

Mitotsudaira’s unspoken question was answered in the starboard sky.

She saw a large group there.

“Eh?”

She could not believe the number of Technohexen and flight devices pursuing Naito and Naruze. Those two would sometimes fire their own attacks and blow up their enemy, but…

Art-Ga: “Dammit, they don’t play fair!”

Because…

Art-Ga: “They recover right away even when we do hit them!”


“So that’s what they’re going with,” thought Naito, feeling legitimately impressed with Almirante and the others’ determination.

She and Naruze had ways of defending and fighting back, but…

“We can’t take them out of the fight.”

“That isn’t the point of this exam anyway.”

“But,” said Almirante at the lead of their pursuers. “It’s a simple trick, isn’t it? None of us are as strong as you, but you can’t beat all of us when we work together.”

“How is it fair to come back after we shoot you?”

“Other nations will have groups even larger than this. Like the ghost ships of M.H.R.R.’s Maeda Toshiie or Hexagone Française’s Bernard.”

And…

“You might end up fighting Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. at Sekigahara, right?”

“–––––”

The solution to that seemed simple enough.

“We could hit them with a transport ship.”

“Or send a fire ship in at them.”

“You could,” admitted Almirante before the four-winged woman on a flight device next to him raised her hand. That was Marine and she pointed aft behind them.

“But if so, you erred in your first move. You should have sent the Treasurer’s transport ship toward us while you two dealt with the Reine des Garous.”

“You want Technohexen to fight a ground battle against that mom?”

Marine smiled bitterly and slapped a hand against her chest.

“Just keep your distance and use your schale besens as low-altitude thrusters. You’ve flown just off the Musashi’s surface before, haven’t you? …Right, Wild Kamelie?”

“Because they can never make anything easy,” replied the other woman.

Naruze glared over at Naito.

“Margot, why do I feel like we’re being lectured by people who’ve already lost to us?”

“Probably cause that’s exactly what’s happening here, Ga-chan.”

“Hey, what’s wrong with that?” said Almirante. “Play along for a bit and we’ll let you finish the race in the end.”

He waved his right hand.

Are they changing formation?

“We’ll give you a few lessons in large aerial battles. Think of it as some summer homework and present your answers in practical form.”

God, what a pain, thought Naito, but she was also smiling bitterly. She placed her legs over her broom again and prepared to fight.

“We’ll defeat you all again, one at a time, once this is over.”

“Make it a race or whatever you want, but we’ll prove our place at the top of the rankings all over again.” Naruze flew forward. “I hate unnecessary work, but I love to learn.”


Mitotsudaira heard the gunfire and saw the ether light being exchanged in the air once more.

The other top players in the delivery business were shouting lessons at Naito and Naruze – “No! That’s not the play there!” “You need to descend first! Why? Because that’s how it’s done!” – so it was feeling a lot more like a final exam tailor-made for them.

But from the look of things…

Air support might be tricky.

Mitotsudaira kept that hope in a corner of her mind as she accelerated toward the color green.

That was the nature district. They were on the starboard side, so this would take them to Remorse Way.

Her king no longer avoided this route. She thought about how much they had all changed since they had landed in Mikawa back in the spring.

“Huh?”

She saw someone up ahead. Their stance was unusually uneager for reinforcements.

“Naomasa!”


Me: “Eh!? Naomasa’s back!? Wasn’t she in Satomi!?”

Smoking Girl: “…”

Me: “Was the food good!? Did it have all the rural classics, like a candy store that sells old games and divine figurines!?”

Smoking Girl: “…”

Me: “Naomasaaaaaa!? Why ignore meeeeeeeeee!?”

Silver Wolf: “My king, she is trying to concentrate before the battle!”

Horizey: “Is this like what the pope does whenever he’s in political trouble! You know, where he goes into hiding and claims to be meditating!”

Gold Mar: “Pretty sure you’re thinking of Seint Saiya, where the bronze armor and gold armor fight in the papal territory.”

Art-Ga: “The movie compressed it all down to an hour, so they died and were resurrected about once every seven minutes.”

Smoking Girl: “Could you people be quiet!?”


I feel like I was gone so long, but this place hasn’t changed at all.

Naomasa wondered how Musashi was still so restless after the Kantou Liberation and Nördlingen. But…

“I was hoping to complete the whole race, but I didn’t arrive quite in time. So instead, I’ll do whatever I can.”

Their teacher was running toward her. That speed was dangerous. It was well above what anyone should have been using on the Musashi.

But this was the nature district and Remorse Way behind her led to the academy, so not many people used it. Which meant…

“No need to hold back.”

Naomasa clenched her left hand’s work glove and then stepped forward.

They were 15m apart.

If only I had Suzaku.

Jizuri Suzaku was currently being repaired at Satomi. After a chat with Tokishige, she now had the data on Satomi’s god of war flight devices and they were going to create wings for Suzaku. Hiro would be ecstatic, which was fine with Naomasa if the girl would finetune the wings ASAP. But…

“I’d still rather not attack my teacher.”

“What makes you think you can attack me?”

“Judge.” Naomasa nodded. “I primarily use throws, so let’s say I win if your back touches the ground.”

“Sure, I’ll play by those rules.”

They were much closer now.

The 15m had shrunk past 10 and was fast approaching 7. And…

She’s matching me.

Oriotri had matched the timing of her steps with Naomasa’s. And while running.

This will be tough, thought Naomasa. Unbalancing her will not be easy.

When performing a throw, you could normally unbalance your opponent by grabbing their hand or something. Twisting their wrist or whatever would throw off their balance.

But that was hard to do when the opponent matched the timing of your steps. When both sides took their step at the same time, their weights would be simultaneously directed downwards, making it much more difficult to unbalance them.

And matching someone else’s timing while running was no easy task.

But their teacher had done it with ease.

The normal solution here would be to step further in and sweep her opponent’s feet out from under her.

But this was not someone she could approach so carelessly. So instead, she reached out her left hand and…

“–––––”

She took another step.

The rest played out from there. She could still unbalance Oriotri even with their timings matched. She only had to tilt Oriotri in one direction or another. Oriotri stepped with her right foot, so…

That’s to the left from my perspective.

Naomasa only had to pull her downwards from outside that stepping leg.

That was her plan.

Oriotri held her hands at the ready. The right one in front and the left one in back.

And she took her step.

At the last second, Naomasa sensed danger in the motion.

Oriotri leaned forward just a bit.

That means-

Naomasa reflexively slowed her own step, which was the correct choice.

A tremor spread from below Oriotri’s right foot and out across the crust block.

She had stomped her foot.


Asama saw Suzu cover her ears atop Persona-kun’s shoulder.

They were hurrying toward the rope pathway to Okutama. The Reine des Garous herself was working to remove the transport ship behind them and she tossed it onto the larger transport ship that had arrived to collect it, but everything had been so crazy recently that this barely felt weird anymore.

But Suzu was not holding her ears because of that loud noise.

“Did you hear something, Suzu-san?”

“Um, yes. It’s, uh, Okutama’s frame, I think? And, um.”

Meanwhile, Asama saw a light. Warning sign frames appeared all around her, all of them telling her about Musashi’s circulatory system.

Oh, this could be bad.

She then heard running water. Water was spraying and geysering out from the side and surface of Okutama. The warning messages told her a few of the ether pathways had ruptured.

Okutama: “I-I have determined this is the worst! Why me!? Over.”

Musashino: “ ‘Okutama’, would you prefer to have some water pipes burst or be hit repeatedly by a transport ship? I grant you the duty to choose. Over.”

Not even the automatons cut each other any slack. But the leaks were already being automatically sealed by the shrines within the Musashi. The government offices would be shutting off the water pipes as well. They would have to be closed off again once the stress had been removed, but…

“Is Masa okay!?”


Naomasa was relieved to find her intuition had been correct.

Delaying her last step had spared her a direct hit from the stomp. Rattling the ship’s surface with a single stomp was extremely on-brand for their teacher, but Naomasa may have subconsciously inherited something from her since she had previously broken through Okutama’s deck and dropped a long block elevator.

Anyway, she had lifted up her left leg behind her. That kept the stomp from affecting her, but…

This is bad.

Her opponent had control of when she would land and they were both ready to attack.

“Okay.”

She landed on her right toes to alter her landing. By balancing just those toes, she could recover her stability no matter which direction she was unbalanced.

Then Oriotri’s hand moved in.

Her right hand grabbed at Naomasa’s left hand.

“Ha.”

Once she had it, she let out a breath of laughter and worked to unbalance the girl.

She pushed.

Pushed left and down.

Naomasa did not fight it. She instead pushed her left hand against Oriotri’s hand.

There.

She shoved the base of her wrist between the thumb and forefinger grabbing it.

The tendon connecting the thumb and forefinger was located between them. The muscle on the inner side of the tendon would tense when grabbing things, but there was an opening there. Push on the tendon and the grabbing muscle would bend to the side, reducing the hand’s grip.

When grabbing, your grip would be weaker if you grabbed with the entire hand instead of holding it between the thumb and the base of another finger. Naomasa caused the same thing here.

“–––––––”

She forced Oriotri’s hand into that state for just a second.

Oriotri’s grip briefly weakened. And…

Naruze!

A sudden light shot between Naomasa and her opponent.

Naruze had managed to get off a shot while dealing with all the delivery workers in the sky.


“Did you get her!?” shouted Margot.

Naruze had to shake her head.

“Using a homing shot was a mistake!”

“Hey, eyes on your own fight, Zwei Fräulein.”

“Shut up,” growled Naruze, before glancing down again.

Naomasa and Oriotri were reading each other in something that was not quite combat. Naruze passed by overhead, but…

I hope I managed to help.

She would be a disgrace of an aerial fighter if she failed to provide any assistance at all, so she had worked to create an opening while Margot dealt with their primary opponents. However…

I didn’t expect the stomp to rupture the ether pathways.

Her shot’s homing spell was an anti-personnel variety based on ether detection, so it had been thrown off target by the scattering ether. She did not know if Oriotri had done that intentionally or not, but at the same time…

“Knowing her, I wouldn’t have hit even if I shot a normal one.”

“Ohh, way to keep a positive outlook, Ga-chan! …Sort of.”

She had to agree. Even if she had missed, her attack had not been entirely meaningless.

It had blocked their teacher’s view for just a moment.


Naomasa had attacked.

Horizon8A 639.jpg

Her strike between the fingers had loosened her teacher’s grip, but if she kept pushing, she would be caught again. So…

Pull!

She pictured it as pulling her wrist back the length of a single fingernail.

Once Oriotri’s fingers regained their strength, she would tighten her grip to capture Naomasa again, so Naomasa moved her hand. She peeled the strength away from her fingertips and…

“–––––”

She pulled her hand out of the work glove now held in Oriotri’s grasp.


Naomasa emptied her mind.

Extraneous thoughts would lead to unnecessary force that threw off her movements. So she appreciated Naruze’s shot.

That bullet had briefly blocked Oriotri’s view. Pulling her hand from the glove was a forearm movement, but it required relaxing her shoulder. Someone as skilled as their teacher would notice the relaxing shoulder and be on the lookout for the forearm’s movement.

But Naruze’s bullet had prevented that.

Naruze’s 10-yen coin ricocheted off the ground and Naomasa made a snap of her wrist in time with the sound. She pushed down on Oriotri’s right wrist, which still held the empty glove.

She forced it down.

Downwards was an unexpectedly difficult direction to imbalance someone, but…

This is my chance!

This had to be her last chance, so she tugged down on Oriotri’s wrist, as if catching her fingers on it and her glove. And she added a hint of an inward twist.

She unbalanced Oriotri.

“Oh.”

Oriotri appeared to lean against her.

Now Naomasa only had to increase the twist and Oriotri would spin and fall in that direction. If she took a step back, she could also imbalance Oriotri’s footing, making it that much easier.

She sent the twisting motion from wrist to elbow and elbow to shoulder.

She instantly had control of Oriotri’s entire arm from wrist to shoulder.

It was a lot like completing a series of tasks starting from the closest one. She imagined it like connecting components together to gain more length.

The shoulder was easier to move and could provide more resistance, so she gave a single tug to extend the tendons and eliminate the timing needed to resist.

The rest was simple. She twisted “inwards” as if trying to stir Oriotri’s right side with the stick called an arm. This was probably affecting the shoulder blade and such, but she was not sure since she was operating on pure intuition.

But once the work was complete, her opponent doubled over as if from a blow to the side. And…

“There.”

Her teacher let herself fall to the right.

She crouched down in that direction before Naomasa could do it. Was she going to insist it didn’t count because she had made herself fall? No…

I know what this is.

Naomasa realized she had overlooked one thing.

“––––!”


Mitotsudaira saw Oriotri lean forward and drop onto her knee.

“Naomasa.”

Naomasa suddenly tried to move away from Oriotri, but Oriotri pursued her hand from below.

She had released her hold on their teacher, but she did not pull away.

Mitotsudaira wondered why. Naomasa had the upper hand and Oriotri’s top priority had to be escaping her grasp. But…

Bell: “Naomasa…-san! Run…away!”

Asama: “Masa! The aftershock of her stomp is coming!”


The distortion corrected itself.

Asama was just about to reach the end of the rope pathway to Okutama when a large “road closed” sign frame appeared in front of her.

The sign frame depicted one of Musashi’s Dosojin bowing.

<Sorry about the trouble. Wait while I go speak with her. By, Dosojin.>

“The Dosojin are so helpful since they tend to be unworshipped gods.”

“But Sakuya was the one to close the road, right?” asked Ohiroshiki.

The Dosojin was back soon.

<Sorry. W-wait, my front teeth…really!? By, Dosojin.>

Asama let slip a “that was fast” and everyone’s silent glares were kind of painful.

“Well, um, our god has been in a good mood since she got after her father earlier.”

“That doesn’t explain what just happened,” said Tenzou.

Regardless, the Musashi shook before their eyes.

Gravitational control boosting sign frames appeared along the rope pathway, starting with its connection to the ship. Then Okutama’s bow heaved upwards.

Oriotri had made her stomp a bit aft of the ship’s center. It had created one large wave and this was the aftershock. The amplitude was greatest at the stern and bow.

“Wow.”

With the gravitational control in effect on the rope, it looked like the Musashi had just bounced upwards. It had risen about five meters, so…

Asama: “Is Masa okay!?”


Naomasa braced herself against the ground rising up about 10cm all at once.

The bounce had come from the bending of the metal. It was a lot like having the entire ship’s surface striking back at her. And in the areas with shallower dirt, the trees and other plants were sent airborne.

Divine protections kicked in at the residential areas, but the nature district was less protected. The loud splashing she heard likely came from the nearby stream. And…

Not bad!

Oriotri had reversed her wrist.

She was trying to grab Naomasa’s hand.

I see, thought Naomasa. That explains how I managed to imbalance her so easily.

Her opponent had included her stomp’s aftershock in her calculations for the duel.

She had done this before, so she knew from experience that the aftershock would be coming.

Naomasa worked in the engine division and she understood how the ship responded to stress, but…

I didn’t think an individual could do this!

That lack of understanding came from her own naivete. On the other hand, there’s something wrong with her. It’s not right.

But she still had to fall back here. Because…

“Kh.”

Her teacher grabbed her left wrist.

She twisted her hand to escape, but…

Cloth!?

It was the work glove she had removed before. It had been instantly slipped between Oriotri’s palm and the back of Naomasa’s hand.

The cloth stopped her attempt to escape. The glove soon fell away, but by then…

“––––––”

Oriotri had a solid grip on her wrist.

Oh, no, she thought. Oriotri had let herself be imbalanced and dropped to the ground so she could approach and grab Naomasa’s hand. She had known the aftershock would be thrusting up from below, so she had crouched low, used the shaking to stand back up, and used that to attack.

And now the shaking ship would be lowering. The current lack of motion was only a brief respite before it rapidly dropped back down like a spring snapping back into shape. Then it happened.

It was like a silence or a floating. Naomasa saw Oriotri move in the horribly clear summer heat.

She’s surprisingly bad at this.

Her teacher was overly tense as she imbalanced and threw her opponent.

She was not good at it, but she was still effective. She had control of Naomasa’s center of gravity, as well as the ground below her feet. So…

“…!”

Oriotri made her move just as the shaking reversed itself.

She performed a throw.


Mitotsudaira readied her sword while running along the shaking ship.

She had closed in on her quarry. And…

“Naomasa!”

That girl had been attacked, so she had to help out.

But then Oriotri made her throw. However…

Is that…?

Something flew through the air after Oriotri made a throw with a reversal of her wrist.

It was a part of Naomasa’s body – her prosthetic arm.

The large work arm had been purged from her shoulder to fly through the summer sunshine. And…

“Damn!”

Naomasa’s left arm was knocked back, as was Oriotri’s right hand.

They had failed to fully absorb the force built up there.

Naomasa was fine, but her prosthetic arm rolled along the ground and skittered across the stone pavement.

Mitotsudaira knew what must have happened. Just before she was thrown, Naomasa had sent all of the force into her prosthetic arm. Then she had purged it to keep the force from affecting the rest of her. Her arm was thrown instead of her entire body.

That prevented either of their throws from working. And…

“––––––”

Naomasa’s hand was forced upwards by the momentum, so she could not direct it back toward their teacher.

It was over.

Oriotri nodded in response.

“Ha,” she laughed before sending her lowered body forward.

She even used the next aftershock of her stomp to give herself some initial speed.

“Keep at it and you might manage to throw me next time!”

Naomasa clicked her tongue in response. She turned back toward Mitotsudaira with sweat on her skin and passing through her breathable tights. That was the physical proof of her tension during that battle.

She sighed.

“I bought you some time.”

“I will help with your martial arts training if you like.”

“I never thought I’d need your help there.”

Naomasa must have thought she could win this because there was definite frustration in the way she kicked her heels off the floor on her way to collect her arm. However…

Now it’s my turn.

Mitotsudaira had her sword ready and she was closing in on her opponent. So…

“It’s time we settled this, Sensei!”