Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 31

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Chapter 31: Stubborn Girl on the Deck[edit]

Horizon8B 099.png

Does it look like this?

It does

Can you see it now?

I can

Point Allocation (Incomprehensible)


Koroku crossed her arms and leaned against the Genbu as the transport ship approached the inner side of the 1st port ship.

The black armor was hot from the sun and she found it interesting how the sweat-soaked back of her suit dried up all at once.

6: “So that isn’t an option?”

Kuro-Take: “It isn’t a good look.”

6: “But…”

It’s only about honor, she thought.

It was nothing but appearances. Or vainglory, to use a term that had come up a lot lately.

6: “It doesn’t actually change anything.”

Nothing real would change. Not their abilities and not their spirit. It only affected how people saw them.

If anyone had a problem with it, they could show them what’s what. So why did it matter?

6: “What’s the big deal with this?”

“Well,” said Takenaka, giving herself time to think.

Kuro-Take: “The problem is how the rest of the world would view Hashiba as a force that needed our enemy to spare us.”

6: “But…”

Koroku thought for a moment.

6: “That doesn’t change us in any way.”

Kuro-Take: “True.” But…

Kuro-Take: “The other nations won’t see it that way. And even if some do, we will still be seen in general as the people who needed to be spared. And…”

She paused to choose her words.

Kuro-Take: “When the rest of the world sees Hashiba as weaker, it creates an international consensus that gives them an upper hand when negotiating with us.”

In other words…

Kuro-Take: “Our status as a powerful nation has given us a few perks. When trading with other nations, we can monopolize the resources and food we want. When traveling, we can pass through other nations’ checkpoints without an inspection and we can use their roads like our own. And in politics, we can influence other nations’ policies, demand extraterritoriality, and receive inside information. But if the rest of the world sees us as weak, they will stop giving us those perks and demand we pay ordinary fees. Really, they’ll try to take us to the cleaners.”

6: “Can a one-sided change of opinion really do all that?”

Kimee: “Only when it’s an international consensus, meaning all of the nations we deal with do it at the same time. What the Musashi Vice President just suggested is being sent to all those nations, so they wouldn’t even need to coordinate their response. Before the Azuchi is even back at home, they’ll all have changed their view of Hashiba and listed up the privileges they can strip from us.”

And…

Kimee: “When they do it, their representatives will all say, ‘Yeah, but all the other nations are doing it too, so maybe go talk to them first?’ ”

6: “Even though nothing would have changed?”

Kuro-Take: “How do you propose we prove nothing has changed?”

“Well,” said Koroku, unsure what to say.

If they were going to prove they were still powerful, they would have to show off their strength. And not just displaying their equipment. A real show of force would be best. Which meant…

6: “War?”

Kimee: “Going to war for honor would make us a barbarian nation.”

She knew that, so she knew they could not actually do that. So…

6: “What do we do?”

Kuro-Take: “Our best option is to not let Musashi watch us leave like that.”

But…

Kuro-Take: “If it does happen, we either go to war on the spot, or we let them do it for now and defeat them later on to make up for it.”


What a pain, thought Koroku.

Adults had an annoying way of thinking about things. And it didn’t seem fair.

They would all know nothing has actually changed.

But they would get their story straight and pretend to believe a lie just to strip Hashiba of some privileges.

And if Hashiba insisted it was false, they would insist Hashiba go along with it because “that’s how the world sees things now”.

There wasn’t much Hashiba could do once the lie was created.

It wasn’t fair.

Kuro-Take: “Oh, right.”

What now?

Kuro-Take: “Despite everything we just said, we all feel the same way you do, Hachisuka-san. We’re asking you to understand it, not to accept it.”

AnG: “Hmm. Then maybe I’m a bad example. I was kinda thinking ‘yeah, that’s about how the world works’.”

Kimee: “Only because you know that’s a good way to avoid carrying around too much stress.”

That meant Yoshiaki did the same thing.

What a pain. But…

6: “What do we do?”

Kuro-Take: “We ignore it for now and overturn it later using a different issue.”

Koroku could tell Takenaka was shrugging.

Kuro-Take: “Since it isn’t true, the other nations can’t force us to do anything. If they take it too far, we might decide it’s worth proving it isn’t true. None of them want to be caught in that, so they’ll all pull back. They’re only focused on the possibility of removing some of our privileges with it.”

AnG: “And if we hand over those privileges?”

Kuro-Take: “We would effectively be admitting to our weakness, so they would continue demanding privileges. So the best option is to prevent the lie from occurring in the first place. In this case, that means not passing by right in front of the Musashi as we leave.”

And…

Kuro-Take: “Some nations will want to make the Musashi Vice President’s suggested scenario a reality, so we must take a firm stance against those nations.”

6: “Such as?”

Kuro-Take: “If a nation threatens to take a stricter stance on our trade or political interference, hoping to remove some of our privileges, our best course of action is to stop all trade with them for a month. A large nation will have a lot more stockpiled than a small one, so while a large nation can wait it out, a small one cannot afford to have trade cut off. We could even release P.A. Oda’s reserves into the market at a reduced price to crater the value of their trade resources.”

A lernen figur appeared by her hands, displaying a massive cascading list of data. The items scrolling by too fast to read had to be trade items. Takenaka must have listed up the items other nations would try to use to ‘threaten’ them and checked their reserves of each. The list was likely being sent back home in real-time so the various committee members could use automatons to take immediate action.

A countermeasure would have been worked out by the time the Azuchi was back home.

Kuro-Take: “There isn’t anything more we can do here, so let’s accept our loss. The other nations will mock us and attack us, but we can take a firm stance against them and use the coming battles to prove this loss is a thing of the past.”

Takenaka continued before Koroku could say anything.

Kuro-Take: “And that might not mean Sekigahara or Komaki Nagakute. You had it rising in my throat, Musashi, but I managed to swallow it back down.”

And…

Kuro-Take: “Thank you, Hachisuka-san.”

6: “Huh? For what?”

Kuro-Take: “I sometimes forget about people like you. No, I always forget. So let’s see how far we can take this. Let’s step into their trap and see what happens.”


Masazumi watched her negotiating partner.

With the double inherited names of Takenaka Hanbei and Kuroda Kanbei, she could handle both politics and negotiations. She had to have been making a lot of the behind-the-scenes decisions this whole time.

She was now facing Masazumi from atop the Azuchi while it underwent repairs in Kantou.

“––––”

She brushed her hair back and then sent the same hand forward.

Immediately, several lernen figurs appeared below her hands and on either side of her. They formed a line that split into several lines which continued to split, spin, trade lernen figurs, and otherwise remain in constant motion.

“Let’s get started, shall we?” Takenaka was not even looking at Masazumi. Her eyes were moving between all the lernen figurs spread out on either side of her. “A trap is much easier to deal with when you know what it is when you trigger it.”

Hearing that, Horizon looked to Masazumi and held a hand up next to her mouth to whisper.

“Masazumi-sama, Masazumi-sama. She noticed your trap. What’s Plan B!?”

“Failure? Failure?” asked the black algae.

Why do they all expect so much from me?


Takenaka readied herself.

Now, then.

Based on the information reaching her, Musashi was surprisingly cut off from Kantou.

It made sense. After Mikawa, they had gone to Kantou for the Battle of Mikatagahara, but only because they were driven north by the Azuchi’s attack.

They had stayed in Mito and its vicinity.

They had no real connections with Edo, Satomi, or the other nations near the center of Kantou.

That was why they had used the Keichou Campaign to enter Kantou as liberators and used that to become the major power there. It was a fairly natural progression since it corresponded to the history recreation of the Matsudaira clan, but it still meant their connections to Kantou were weak.

That was a relief for one major reason.

I highly doubt they’re working with the Kantou nations behind the scenes here.

If anything, they might have connections with Satomi or the scattered remnants of Houjou. There was Mito too…but that was too far away and it would mean leaving Kantou anyway.

In that case, thought Takenaka just before noticing something.

“–––––––”

Next to her, Ankokuji had finally ended his infernal shouting. Instead, he was sitting cross-legged, writing something on a lernen figur.

She nodded after seeing what he was writing.

“Hashiba-kun, I’m not the best speaker, so I’ll just come out and say it.”

“Y-yes!? Testament! What is it!?”

“Testament. This has trap written all over it, so I will figure out what we can do if Musashi does manage to return to Kansai.”

But…

“I will also earn us as many wins as I can manage, so keep your hopes up.”


“Let me get this straight.”

Masazumi listened to Takenaka.

“You’re saying the Musashi will watch the Azuchi return to P.A. Oda once repairs are complete?”

“That is what it would mean, yes,” she confirmed.

She had the PR sign frame set at perfect height for her seated position, but Horizon respectfully held out a cushion.

“Please, use this. Sit on it.”

“Wouldn’t that push me up a little too high?”

Well, I can move my legs out from under, she concluded and did so.

“We will be facing north to be as nonthreatening as possible. I mean, we can’t face south since that would look like the Musashi was mooning you as you left. …Is that a problem?”

“It is.”

Oh? she thought.

Her demand was blatantly ridiculous. You could come up with any reason you wanted for why a specific direction was good or bad, so she could come up with a comeback for whatever this complaint was.

Whether I do so or not is a different issue.

But she was curious.

What reason had the inheritor of the Takenaka and Kuroda names found for demanding the Musashi change directions?

“What is this problem?”

“Testament.” Takenaka responded calmly. “I have aichmophobia, so I can’t bear to see the Musashi’s pointy bows sticking out toward me.”


AnG: “Are you kidding me?”

Kimee: “Takenaka, I promise I won’t get mad, so just tell me why you said that.”

6: “You vomit no matter what you see.”

Kuro-Take: “I-I was only trying to stoop to their level!”


Oh, no!

Masazumi sensed danger.

Vice President: “Sorry. I let them get a good hit in there.”

Unturning: “Can’t you just ignore that?”

Silver Wolf: “Not when we were the ones to ask what the problem was.”

10ZO: “Masazumi-dono gave a stupid reason, but she failed to account for how that legitimatizes any stupid reason they provide in return.”

Masazumi hesitantly looked to the side.

The idiot, the idiot sister, and the arms were bending themselves into an S-shape and then pointing her way with both hands.

Damn them!

But the meeting had already begun, so she had to ignore them.

Still, this is legitimately bad.

They had answered her stupid reason with a stupid reason of their own.

That aichmophobia had to be something Takenaka thought up on the spot. Besides…

“Can’t you go belowdecks while passing in front of the Musashi?”

“I’m part of the ship’s command crew, so I have to be looking out from the bridge when so close to a ship like the Musashi.”

That answer came immediately and it was probably true. Then someone descended from the top of the screen.

“Take!”

Their Schwarz Hexen alighted on the deck.

Masazumi appreciated how their fighters narrowed their eyes at this, but the Schwarz Hexen held a hand out toward Takenaka.

“Look, a fork from the dining hall.”

“Yikes, it’s so pointy! Ero ero ero ero.”

Takenaka spent around 10 seconds facing away from the camera before turning back around.

“See? Aichmophobia.”

“How do you ever eat in the dining hall?” asked Masazumi.

“Testament.” Takenaka nodded. “I always eat at home.”


6: “Hey.”

Kuro-Take: “Just roll with it!”

6: “You shouldn’t lie.”

Kuro-Take: “I’m putting in an effort here so the rest of you don’t have to lie! So don’t let it bother you.”

AnG: “Pretty sure they aren’t buying it, though.”


“Now,” Masazumi heard Takenaka say. “Since the Musashi’s bows would hinder the Azuchi’s departure, please point them the other way when we pass by.”

“Unfortunately, we can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

Masazumi looked to the others.

Vice President: “Why not?”

Almost Everyone: “Think before you speak!!”

They all started to panic, but Horizon raised a hand.

Horizey: “Letting them stare at the Musashi’s ass would be humiliating for ‘Musashi’-sama.”

Musashi: “It does not bother me. And ‘Okutama’, ‘Takao’, and ‘Oume’ feel the same way. Don’t you? Over.”

Rear Ships: “A-absolutely… Over.”

That idea was immediately rejected and the rejection forcibly verified.

Asama raised her hand next.

Asama: “How about you tell them the Musashi’s spell barrier is weaker in the back, so it would leave us vulnerable?”

Vice President: “No, that would establish that the Musashi is so weak it has to let them pass by in front, which would give an entirely different reason for us watching them as they leave.”

Silver Wolf: “There is a large yakiniku place on the stern, so couldn’t we say we’re watching them leave while throwing a party?”

Vice President: “What am I even supposed to say to that one?”

Balfette waved her hands side to side.

Flat Vassal: “But they could just call our bluff and say ‘bring it on’!”

Me: “Eh!? So if I say I’ll be standing on the stern doing some nude milk-drinking, they’d tell us to ‘bring it on’, Seijun!?”

Vice President: “Don’t just assume I’ll answer every stupid question you give me!”

But this had helped her organize her thoughts, so she knew what her next move was.

“Okay.” She raised her right hand and spoke to Takenaka. “This all a huge pain, so I think we’ll leave Houjou and head there now.”


Eh? thought Takenaka.

Umm, she added.

That’s really bad!

I can’t let that happen. Because…

6: “Hey.”

AnG: “See?”

Kimee: “Yup.”

They were all conversing in monosyllables now, but she knew why.

The Boy: “Um…what happens if the Musashi comes here?”

Kimee: “That’s simple: the Musashi gets to watch us up close while the Azuchi is repaired, which is way worse than having them watch us leave. I mean, it’s basically the same thing but for an extended period of time.”

AnG: “Where did we screw up this time?”

Kuro-Take: “W-well, um, I thought we were winning after using that silly excuse to keep them from facing north.”

No one said anything for a full five seconds after that. And finally…

AnG: “Takenaka, are you actually a terrible negotiator?”

Kimee: “You should probably come clean about that sooner rather than later. Everyone’s bad at some things and I’m starting to wonder why we thought a shut-in like you could handle international negotiations. ‘Azuchi’, you should probably start preparing to make an attack on the Musashi.”

Kuro-Take: “Do you have to all insult me like this?”

Anyway, she thought, holding her palm out toward the others.

Kuro-Take: “Don’t worry. I will make up for this.”

AnG: “Ehh? Really? Are you sure?”

You don’t have to give me that look from your ultra-low-altitude flightpath.

At any rate, there was a way to prevent the Musashi from approaching the Azuchi.

“Listen, Musashi. I cannot permit you to enter Kantou and approach the Azuchi.”


Masazumi listened as Takenaka explained why the Musashi could not approach them.

“Because…”

Because…

“If you get close, the Azuchi will explode.”


6: “Hey.”

Azuchi: “Excuse me, but I do not like the sound of, um…over.”

Kuro-Take: “Give me a second! I’m not done!”

The Boy: “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”


Masazumi looked to the others and they glared back at her.

“T-to be clear, this isn’t my fault!”

“Crossdressing Honda-kun, you were the one that led us to this point. And what is your response to their threatened explosion?”

“What would your response be, Neshinbara?”

“Heh.” Neshinbara pushed up his glasses and swept his hand forward. “Looks like it’s my time to shine.”


Art-Ga: “Welp, we’re all screwed.”

Gold Mar: “Like in your doujinshis?”

10ZO: “Hopefully, she’s being more metaphorical here.”’

Novice: “Sh-shut up! The point is I excel at this type of bullshittery, so let me handle it.”


Neshinbara raised a hand and took Masazumi’s place on the deck.

“I am Secretary Neshinbara. This talk of exploding suggests you are in serious danger.”

He was speaking with Takenaka, a name inheritor. In fact, she was a double name inheritor who also held the name of Kuroda Kanbei.

“Might I have your autograph?”

“Huh?”

“No, um, just speaking to myself. It slipped out.”

Everyone was glaring at him from behind the sign frame, but he could not imagine why. Did they not want this famous person’s autograph? Such a ridiculous notion. But anyway…

“You say the Azuchi will explode if the Musashi approaches?”

“Testament! The whole thing will go kaboom! Do you have any idea how much damage that would cause?”

“I do indeed,” said Neshinbara. “The entire Far East would be obliterated, would it not?”


Takenaka gasped.

Her very first thought after hearing their Secretary’s question was: Are you crazy!?

As large as the Azuchi was, its explosion could never obliterate the entire Far East.

“N-no, it wouldn’t be quite that devastating!”

“It wouldn’t!? Then why all the fuss!?”

Could that boy only think in extremes – peace or utter destruction – and nothing in between?

Kimee: “Doesn’t he remind you of Lord Motonobu from the Mikawa footage?”

AnG: “Yeah, he’s just like him.”

He really is, thought Takenaka.

Just then, he struck a pose with his right hand raised to cover his face.

“Now I get it! The explosion itself will be smaller.” He laughed. “But the Dark Energy of the blast will produce Hell Contamination, won’t it? And then we can kiss the Far East goodbye!”


I see, thought Neshinbara.

“Yes, you must be carrying some of those dragon line reactors, so if our approach causes you to explode, the entire Far East would be contaminated! This is indeed a crisis!!”

“Hey.”

“Yes, Crossdressing Honda-kun?”

“Why would the Azuchi explode when the Musashi approaches?”

She glared at him, but he shrugged.

“You don’t get it?” He laughed once. “The spell barrier protecting the Musashi has been in top form of late, but the Azuchi will of course have a similar spell barrier, but it will currently be weakened while they undergo repairs.”

Four Eyes: “You just used ‘but’ twice in the same sentence.”

Shut up, I’m trying to explain. You can send me editorial notes later, he thought before opening his mouth to continue.

“Listen. We are both large aerial ships, so interference between our spell barriers is bound to cause some damage. The Musashi has a major advantage at present, so the Azuchi will take the brunt of that damage and all 18 of the dragon line reactors it is secretly carrying will explode.”

Which means…

“Which means we cannot let the Musashi approach them.”


AnG: “Do we really have 18 of them?”

Kimee: “If we did, I bet we could conquer the Far East with them alone.”

Kuro-Take: “W-well, if it will keep them away, I say we let them go on thinking that.”


Wise Sister: “Asama, how is the spell barrier doing?”

Asama: “Um, there will always be interference when battling a hostile force, but otherwise, we set it to avoid interference because we don’t want any of the gods running into it. We couldn’t trade with other nations otherwise. Yes.”

Horizey: “Ouch, a critical flaw was just found in Neshinbara-sama’s premise. How will he ever recover?”

Novice: “Th-that isn’t a flaw! The accidental interference is only a problem because the Azuchi is not operating at 100% while undergoing repairs, so, uh, the interference avoidance mentioned by Asama-kun does not apply here!”

Asama: “But, um, that isn’t at all how it works. Now, this is hard to explain without getting into the weeds of spell field operation, but I’ll do my best.”

Silver Wolf: “Tomo! Tomo! Tearing apart the Secretary’s premise destroys our negotiating position!”


Takenaka was glad Musashi had said themselves they could not approach.

She recorded that statement and nodded. She kept her eyes on the lernen figurs to her left and right while speaking with the Musashi Secretary.

“To repeat, the Azuchi will explode if the Musashi approaches, so we would appreciate it if you stayed away.”

“You can’t eject the reactors somewhere?”

“No, trying to move them like that would cause them to explode.”

Kimee: “It’s a sad sight when someone loses all shame.”

Shut up. But the conclusion here was obvious.

“To sum up, the Azuchi cannot move from this spot. Due to the danger and all.”

“Judge. I understand completely.”

Ohh, thought Takenaka. Musashi is actually going along with it.

“Are you saying the Musashi will stay where it is?”

“That is the plan, yes.” Their Secretary laughed and brushed a hand through his bangs, but the adlibbed movement was awkward and unpracticed. “But you are in luck.”

“What?”

“Listen.” He entirely ignored her confusion. “The Musashi has an emergency response fleet known as the External Seventh Fleet. Its crew has been trained to handle dragon line reactor crises.”

So…

“We will send the Seventh Fleet your way to save the Azuchi.”