Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Noticer at the Preparation Ground
And the more I fume
The harder I get!
Do you want to see that!?
Point Allocation (I Do, But Stop)
Mori had questions.
“How does that make any sense!?” The two of them immediately turned to glare at him, but the tentacle continued on regardless. “I mean, those two argue every time they see each other, they’re always lecturing each other, and they won’t shut up whenever they inevitably end up next to each other in the dining hall or convenience store! They even argue when they happen across each other in the academy or around the ship, which happens a lot!”
“Mori-kun, I think you’re working against your argument here.”
“I was starting to think the same thing, Maeda-san! It’s just that seeing them fight so much makes me anxious and I go all pale and flaccid!”
“Yes, you do turn a color I’d rather not mention out loud when your blood flow is poor.”
“Right!? But that doesn’t explain why you avoid me when my blood flow is good too! And come to think of it, while they do fight all the time, they’re also together an awful lot, they sit together at the dining hall and convenience store, and they’re always getting to know each other better. So I guess I only have one thing left to say.”
The tentacle considered the situation, straightened up, and bowed toward those two.
Fuwa and Sassa kicked the tentacle away.
Fuwa watched Mori roll along a field that was beginning to show more green.
The tentacle was basically cylindrical, so all his tentacly parts rolled down the shallow slope. The officers out ahead of him yelled and ran out of the way.
“Ahh, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! The young grass emerging from below the melted snow is prickling my indecently sticky flesh like needles! I-it’s making me hard!”
“Katsuie-san, everyone on your team is crazy but in a fun way,” said Oichi.
All of the team members who had thought they were normal began frantically gesturing their rejection of that idea.
But Fuwa had something to say here. Something not about any supposed relationship with Sassa.
“Um, just so you know, I’m stuck doing the accounting here for the entire summer.”
“Huh!? Well, fine then. Hey, Naru Naru, how ‘bout you help her?”
“What makes you think I’m capable of that, you moron!?”
You do know that makes you a moron, right?
But it was true he would only get in the way and she would end up constantly thinking about his presence if he stayed here.
This isn’t good, she thought. I’m letting someone else decide how I feel about something.
She thought she had a good grasp of what her feelings were and it was true she had previously thought they might be that.
But when she looked to Sassa now…
“Besides, I already have plans for the summer. I’m going up in the mountains alone to spend the entire break training! Cause I was completely useless against Hexagone Française’s Vice Chancellor!”
…What is wrong with you?
Do you really like oversized breasts so much?
I mean, we won’t even be fighting Hexagone Française ever again. And for that matter…
“Shibata-san, could you beat the Reine des Garous’s true form she so explosively showed off in Kantou?”
“I bet she thinks I couldn’t.”
I see, she thought as Shibata slapped his own right shoulder.
“And I can’t deny my shoulder’s been acting up lately. So I’ve worked some trips to healing hot springs into our schedule.”
“You mean you’re planning to fight the Reine des Garous too?”
“Don’t be dumb.” The demonic Long Lived man turned up the corners of his mouth in a smile. “P.A. Oda’s Vice Chancellor is the strongest.”
“Keh,” said Sassa, but he did not deny it.
That was true.
She might not like how he said it or his attitude, but that much was undeniable. So…
Fuwa realized why Sassa had brought up the Reine des Garous.
…It has to be her.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor or their 1st or 5th Special Duty Officers were not enough.
…Wow are they ever childish.
That was Fuwa’s opinion of the men standing next to her.
Sassa was especially bad.
It all went back to Novgorod. That had counted as the Battle of Tedorigawa, the Battle of Nanao Castle, and the Battle of Uozu Castle. The floating city had acted as the battlefield where Shibata’s right arm had been severed by the teamwork of Musashi’s 1st and 5th Special Duty Officers. He had also been hit by an attack from their Vice Chancellor.
Musashi’s 1st Special Duty Officer was world famous for his worship of busty blondes, but their 5th Special Duty Officer had held important points on the battlefield since the Sack of Magdeburg. It was significant that she had fought at least evenly with Katou Kiyomasa and Kasuya Takenori of Hashiba’s Ten Spears and that she had defeated Shima Sakon, aide to the Spears.
Shibata had challenged Musashi’s Vice Chancellor with only one arm, but during that fight, Sassa had seen her superb movements and had seen her make an instantaneous leap of several dozen meters. She had split Shibata’s chest and he had destroyed her hair decoration. If they had gone in deeper, Shibata would have been pierced through at the chest and she would have had her forehead split open.
That was a draw. If one had to be placed above the other, then Shibata came out on top.
But, thought Fuwa.
Even if he had been missing an arm, this still meant someone out there could fight him to a draw.
It took a nation’s Vice Chancellor or Chancellor to pull that one off. In fact, she had always assumed it took someone like Uesugi Kagekatsu or the Reine des Garous. She could not even guess how people on that level would fight, so she had pictured it as something like two giant monsters flailing at each other, but that “dream” had been shattered.
Someone had actually reached that level.
Yes, his missing arm had been a factor.
But it had happened on the battlefield. It had not been a sparring match between the two of them.
When pure duels were not an option, even the strongest fighter could run into trouble.
Everyone understood that, but they could not afford to let that mess with the history recreation. Hence the introduction of the duel system.
But even so.
That group was younger than them, Sassa had said they did not yet seem ready back at Magdeburg, they had been no match for Hashiba during Mikatagahara, and they had even lost someone there. But now they were growing capable of achieving their goal.
They were an enemy. And generation-wise, they were the future while everyone here was the past.
Fuwa waved her right hand dismissively.
Oichi looked down at her from Shibata’s shoulder in a way that said she had seen right through her.
She must have been proud of her husband. Which was why she was insisting he heal himself at some hot springs. He had to be in top form.
“All of you go and enjoy yourselves out there. …I’ll be back her doing the accounting.”
“Is that so, Fuwa? Then I have one more job for you.”
“An additional order? What is it?”
This seemed sudden, but Shibata gave her a calm look in response.
“Train the underclassmen.”
“Then are you two leaving tonight? That’s awfully sudden.”
It was midafternoon and Kasuya was helping Kani prepare to leave for her training camp.
Fukushima was normally in charge of Kani, but since she was busy preparing her own equipment, Takenaka had instructed Kasuya to help instead.
Kasuya had been away from the others training in the same area as the Shibata Team, so she knew what you would need there. That was why Takenaka had chosen her and taken over the ship repair work she had been doing.
“Testament! I heard Shibata-sama will be visiting a bunch of hot springs and we might not arrive in time for that if we don’t hurry, but Takenaka-sama said we should try to get their ASAP whether we’re in time for that or not!”
“I see,” said Kasuya while looking at the object in her hands.
It was a swimsuit.
It must have been for the hot springs. The Azuchi had bathing facilities inside it, so the ship’s store sold these.
The Spears had been using their own personal bath ever since returning to the Azuchi after the Keichou Campaign.
Kasuya thought being in the Reine des Garous’s forest was to blame, but her skin and hair had been so full of life lately and her hair refused to be brushed. Her grooming divine protection had grown too powerful.
That had not bothered her on the battlefield, but it was causing problems now that she was back to her ordinary life.
For one, the air inside the ship made her hair spark as if with static electricity.
She had not noticed when on or nearby the “forest” of the battlefield, but she had unintentionally brought her nonhuman ether state back to the Azuchi with her.
The Azuchi’s ether field and defensive divine protections naturally tried to deflect that unusual ether, but that ether was carried by someone registered as a Spear, which confused matters.
“Azuchi” had even paid her a visit to double check once.
She had decided to fix it by purifying herself in the bath, so she had gone there with Kani. However…
“Katagiri-san is a boy!? I had no idea!”
It was incredible that it took Kani that long to figure it out.
…And why was Katagiri taking a morning bath?
He had claimed it was to get a bath in before it grew crowded, but he had barely even met Kani before. He had grown flustered about her presence, but…
“Eh!? I don’t mind at all!”
Kani had immediately accepted it. And when Kasuya had asked her about it later…
“I just never even considered the fact that he might be a boy! But what does that matter!?”
Kasuya decided Kani may have been even more openminded than her. But…
“Kani, do you not have a swimsuit of your own?”
“Testament! My family runs a greengrocer! And greengrocers don’t need swimsuits!”
Kasuya had trouble following that logic, but it also made a weird sort of sense to her, so she just accepted it.
But then why was Kasuya choosing a swimsuit for herself?
“Kasuya-san, you’re going to K.P.A. Italia, aren’t you!? For training, right!?”
“That is correct,” said Kasuya. “To be honest, I would really prefer to start training with the others again.”
“Testament.” She nodded. “I didn’t really know how to use my strength, so I borrowed some of the Shibata Team to participate in some riot suppression training. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it from that, I was hoping to meet up with the others, but then the Keichou Campaign happened.”
“What kind of strength do you have!?”
“I could give you a list, but mainly…” She tilted her head. “This.”
She used a burst of acceleration to instantaneously circle behind Kani.
The back in front of her had not reacted at all, so she tapped the girl’s shoulder.
Kani turned around in surprise.
…I do like a good reaction like that!
Maybe it made her feel like a proper upperclassman, but not many people reacted so well. However…
“That was impressive, Kani. You managed to follow my movement long enough to turn halfway around.”
Kasuya had circled behind her the extra 90 degrees to make up for that. Kani must have used the greatest speed she could manage, so she had been confused when she lost sight of her. So…
Kasuya handed her the swimsuit on a paper hanger that had slipped from Kani’s hands. It had flown into the air as she made her half turn, so Kasuya had caught it while accelerating.
“Drop it and you’ll get it dirty before you even try it on. You still need to do that, don’t you?”
Kani looked down at Kasuya’s hands.
Kasuya had not dropped her swimsuit. That seemed to illustrate the difference between upperclassman and underclassman.
Kani sighed with a combination of surprise and joy.
“Incredible! How can you make such tight turns with such big boobs!?”
“I’m not on Kiyomasa or Hirano’s level, you know? And we fought someone with an even more impressive chest and speed last night.”
“The Reine des Garous is basically cheating and she isn’t here, so she doesn’t count!”
“Fair enough,” said Kasuya. She used to think there was a limit to how impressive someone could be, but she had changed her mind about that last night.
She had heard the stories, but facing that woman herself was something else entirely. But…
“Defeating people like that is our job, isn’t it?”
“Can you defeat her!?”
“I think we did a decent job while working together.”
If only they had more experience.
If only they had a more powerful weapon.
If only the others had been there too.
All those things were excuses made by the loser, but they were also words of hope for them right now.
Because it showed them how they might possibly win in the future.
“Which is why I had hoped to train with the others.”
“I see! That explains it! I’ll ask about it!”
Eh? thought Kasuya as Kani opened a lernen figur with the paper hanger hanging from her collar.
Kanitama: “Takenaka-sama! Do you have a moment!?”
While Kani and Kasuya were busy shopping, Fukushima had responded to her departure request by returning to her room.
She was sitting on the floor, viewing a lernen figur while selecting her equipment.
…I probably should get some sleep before leaving early tomorrow morning.
She had already taken a bath, albeit a quick one.
Sleeping after she ate made her feel sluggish, so her plan was to find a good time to sleep without eating anything first.
She had the water and rice balls being handed out to everyone, but she would consume that after sleeping.
Right now, she needed to…
“They gave me this because I arrived from Kantou, didn’t they?”
She had a stick-shaped incense spell.
It was made by combining a spell charm with powdered incense and it was meant to help with her exhaustion. Incense spells were common in the Association of Indian States and the Mlasi Alliance. Their effects were weak but they efficiently covered a large area and were long-lasting. Hashiba had said a lot of people enjoyed testing out their various effects while they slept.
…Maybe I should do that too before I sleep.
But her thoughts were cut off by a divine transmission.
Kanitama: “Takenaka-sama! Is there any way you can have all Ten Spears do joint training!?”
Fukushima sat bolt upright when Kani’s words reached her.
…Wh-why is she suggesting that!?
With joint training, she could be with Kiyomasa. They would eat and bathe together and, if it was outdoor training, they might even share a sleeping space.
She briefly felt a hot sweat pouring down her body.
She had no idea what was causing the sweat. It could come from nerves, anticipation, or fear, but…
No one could answer that for her, but her eyes were glued to the lernen figur in front of her.
Kuro-Take: “I’ve already made reservations for everyone, so that’s not an option.”
Fukushima felt like the heat was draining from her body and head and then she collapsed onto her back.
Koroku had returned to her room in the middle of her duties.
Her team’s job was to build water supplies, but they were currently taking an afternoon break. Most of the water supplies had been built, so they would spend the rest of the day finding other work to do.
There was still plenty to do.
With the construction of ether pathways, the automatons could detect and measure the level of damage, but it was safest if the actual work was done by humans who were not influenced by ether.
But most of the ether-related construction was best done once it grew dark. Ether light showed up better then, so they would notice leaks.
Although a night with strong moonlight would actually be more dangerous.
“But tonight should be fine.”
So they were taking a break until the evening. She was using that time to get some rest, take a bath, and…
“Preorder a game.”
The other night, her completed save data had been overwritten by an unexplained phenomenon, but she had completed the game.
It had been scary and she did not remember it all very clearly, but that had its pros and its cons. Still, she did not want to play it again just to remember. It would no longer be new to her.
So she needed a new game. She had looked into this a while back. The different corporate guilds released wave after wave of games once summer break began.
She kind of wanted another suspense or horror game to recapture her experience with that previous one, but was that really the best idea?
Would a more cheerful game be better for summer? No one would know what she was playing, so she could always go with a summer-themed game like My (Nearly Endless) Summer Vacation 4. Playing that would feel like being trapped in a rural summer environment, which was a type of horror in and of itself.
She had played 1, but…
…The scariest part was how you could drink as much milk from the ice room as you wanted and it would never run out.
She had tried emulating that in real life last year and made herself sick after about three glasses. Wakisaka had decided that was an attempt to give herself a “boobs upgrade”, so it had been a bad experience all around. But…
She spotted a certain title on the preorder list: Siren Hill 2. That was the sequel to the game she had mysteriously finished before.
Playing 2 when she barely remembered 1 seemed wrong and she had no idea how it had all happened, but this was Kantou, home of Akihabara, which the Testament said was a city full of incredible technology.
The Edo Game Show would be held there come summer, so it would be neat if the Azuchi was still here then.
But her eyes would not leave the sequel’s title. Its tagline was “Takes the terror of the original to the next level!”
…The original, huh?
“Hmm,” she said while glaring at the screen and leaning back against the wall.
“I’m not sure what the terror of the original even was since I don’t remember how it ended.”
“That means nothing to me.”
Just then, a loud bang and an impact reached her through the wall she was leaning against.
She gasped and collapsed to the side.
She was no longer moving.
Fukushima writhed in pain on her bed.
She had felt faint and lost her balance thanks to Kani’s divine transmission. The real problem was when she tried to remain upright. With the bed behind her, the top of her calf had caught on the edge of the bed and she had tripped.
The back of her head had slammed into the wall past her bed and she had failed to prepare for the impact, so it hurt a lot. Afraid her skull had dented in, she touched the back of her head to find it was fine. She could tell it would form a lump, though.
She noticed some light in the vase sitting on the bed’s head space.
It contained a precious stone and something colored a noticeable blue.
“Is that Danzou-dono’s feather?”
The feather glowing with ether light seemed to be complaining to her, so she prostrated herself on the bed.
“I am so sorry! I was too careless!”
Then she wondered what her neighbor thought of all the noise.
She poked her head out the door to make sure there was no one in the hallway before she walked over to Hachisuka’s room. It was still just past midafternoon. The hallway was filled with outside air and sunshine, so Hachisuka’s room had its door left open.
Whether that was for ventilation or because she was only stopping by real quick, it was still careless.
And when Fukushima checked inside, she saw Hachisuka collapsed on her side.
She stepped inside while remaining cautious of the other side of the door.
She ran swiftly over to Hachisuka and made sure no traps had been set up on the girl herself. Unlike the other night, they were in Kantou and a lot of people were coming and going after their loss. However…
“Are thou only unconscious?”
The way she had collapsed did not suggest an external attack. She had had her back against the wall, so it would have been impossible to catch her by surprise.
…In that case…
Words like “heatstroke” and “exhaustion” came to mind. It was probably something like that.
Her body would be aching when she came to.
“Excuse me,” said Fukushima while checking around the room and noticing a bottle of water and some rice balls. As a small kindness, she poured the water in a glass and placed that and the rice balls next to Hachisuka.
And since they were teammates, she looked around until she saw the incense spell.
To help with Hachisuka’s exhaustion, she set up the included stand and lit the ignition spell on the end. A transparent aroma quickly reached her nose.
“There, that should do it. I hope thou can get some rest before-”
Fukushima noticed something.
There was a lernen figur next to Hachisuka. She took a peek and noticed it was a game order form. She must have passed out just before completing an order.
“Thou really do like thy games, don’t thou?”
The screen said “The preorder deadline is approaching fast! 1 hour, 36 minutes.” and the time at the end was counting down.
…The preorders will end before she wakes up.
As another kindness to her teammate, Fukushima moved to press the preorder button. But…
…It would be wrong to make a purchase with her divine transmission wallet.
Instead, she called up her own lernen figur and searched for the same product on the same store. It was a Mlasi store called Sadal and she already had an account. All she had to do was confirm the preorder, but…
“This is a present before I leave, but I don’t want her to feel any kind of obligation.”
She had it sent to Hachisuka as a gift with the sender field left blank.
Satisfied, she left Hachisuka’s room and returned to her own room.
…I managed to get in a good deed before leaving.
Seeing her own room reminded her of something.
…I never solved my own problem!
This is not good, thought Fukushima.
Even if she had done a good deed, she had gotten terribly distracted when she was leaving so soon.
…Why does Kiyo-dono inspire such powerful emotional reactions in me!?
This calls for decisive action, realized Fukushima.
She would be leaving early tomorrow morning. The others would come to see her off if they were up, but everyone was exhausted from their battles. It was possible they would oversleep.
“In that case.”
Fukushima checked the time on her lernen figur.
“I need to find time to speak with Kiyo-dono before I leave!”
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