Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 34
Chapter 34: Pirates Settling the Score
How joyous is it
To gain something without losing anything?
Point Allocation (Acceptance)
Takenaka lightly ero’d.
That was well played. She didn’t want to say she had been bested, but it had still been well played.
Her Three Thousand Worlds data processing spell had its pros and its cons.
…The better it is as a data processing spell, the more “our side of the equation” is known.
Kimee: “There wasn’t much we could have done to prevent that.”
6: “What do you mean?”
“Testament,” replied Takenaka, considering what she needed to say about this.
Kuro-Take: “Three Thousand Worlds processes the data and then shows me the optimum answer and the continuation of the pattern. But it doesn’t actually show me how to accomplish something we truly cannot do.”
Kuro-Take: “They have offered a transport fleet to immediately send Mouri back to Hexagone Française, but that is not something we can prepare right away. Three Thousand Worlds shows me several possible responses we can use instead, but…”
Kuro-Take: “If Musashi offers an immediate transport fleet and Mouri accepts, there’s nothing we can do.”
Katagiri thought while climbing the stairs to the deck.
…Don’t we have transport ships, though?
The Boy: “Didn’t we secure some transport ships with supplies in northeast Bousou during the Keichou Campaign? Can’t we use those?”
Kuro-Take: “Those are holding our Kantou group that was already here. And not even those will be enough to transport our people back home because quite a few of them were destroyed.”
Kimee: “We have Musashi’s Tachibana Couple to thank for that one. They should have continued to Satomi after entering north Edo Bay, but they decided to fire on our descending transport fleet instead.”
Those two had probably been worried about a pincer attack from the north, but as a result…
Koni-ko: “They really were the secret MVPs of that battle. It was their attack on the transport fleet hampering coordination with the northern unit that kept us from stopping the Reine des Garous’s charge and led to my negotiation with Musashi’s Representative Committee Head. And we’re still feeling the effects of that now.””
That’s true, thought Katagiri.
And the Tachibana Couple had likely pulled it all off with ease.
“They really are the Peerless in the West. Their every move influences the course of the battle!”
“Look, Gin. I took some photos of when we shot down those Hashiba transport ships the other night.”
“Master Muneshige, should a warrior really be taking commemorative photos on the battlefield?”
“I couldn’t help myself. You just looked so beautiful shooting down ships while eating your bento with the explosions illuminating you like a fireworks show. …Who else wants to see them?”
“W-wait, Master Muneshige! You haven’t uploaded them to your site have you!?”
…This is all thanks to that couple enjoying an artillery-filled date night.
But, thought Masazumi.
No matter how much negotiating ability, military might, and pride Hashiba had, they could not immediately procure something they did not have.
“But we have it.”
Masazumi spoke to the sign frame in front of her, but the nod she saw from Mitotsudaira told her the Reine des Garous was receiving this as well.
That meant it would be reaching Hexagone Française.
With that in mind, she raised her right upper arm.
“Listen,” she said. “Musashi will support Mouri Terumoto’s triumphant return home. Right here and right now. …How does that sound, Roi-Soleil? Wouldn’t you like to see the moon in the summer sky?”
“Not a bad offer. Of course, I will not ask for more than you can provide.”
The true nudist lay cross-armed on the roof of a white mansion surrounded by farm fields in Paris.
“Roi-Soleil!” Henri called from the ground below in her red summer uniform. “I have determined sleeping there will get you sunburned!”
“Not to worry, Henri. I am the Roi-Soleil, so I shall me-burn the sun in return.”
“Hey, Henri? What do humans do when someone is wrong on such a fundamental level?”
“Listen, Armand. If the princess is anything to go on, the answer is always the wooden sword.”
“So the answer is love, is it?”
“Indeed it is!” The Roi-Soleil spread his arms on the roof. “It has been days since I have held Terumoto in my arms! Yes, the Roi-Soleil has been separated from the love of his life! Ahh, how can I ever express this heartache!?”
Armand raised a hand.
“Roi-Soleil, can’t you just hit yourself with a wooden sword?”
“Heh. That is not how it works. Terumoto knows how to place her love in her sword blows. No one else can replicate it.”
“Is that true, Henri? I’m really hoping it’s just him being insane.”
“I think that is how he interprets her utter lack of hesitation. He would go easy on himself and anyone else would be hesitant to strike their king.”
Armand raised a hand.
“Roi-Soleil, doesn’t a willingness to hit you indicate a lack of love?”
“Heh. That is not how it works. Terumoto knows how to hit you in a special way that words cannot adequately explain.”
“And that’s love, is it?”
“No. The princess has a distinctive way she moves her wrist, so I suspect that is what he is noticing.”
Armand turned to face Henri.
“As her trainer, shouldn’t you fix that?”
“What if the Roi-Soleil stops feeling her love afterwards?”
“Wouldn’t it make him normal for once?”
“No, the people could never relax if she could no longer contain him with her sword.”
“I see.” Armand brought a hand to his chin. “Would she need to upgrade to a metal rod?”
“Heh. This conversation is taking a harsh turn, don’t you think? But that is perfectly fine with me. Terumoto can pound me with her rod all she likes!” He spread his arms in a welcoming gesture. “Anyway, Musashi’s offer is not bad at all. Their transport ships include the Udon Kingdom ones that accompanied them to Kantou to help them resupply.”
“The Udon Kingdom’s transport ships use Hexagone Française control and piloting systems. That was more efficient since they will be our greatest trading partner in the coming age and they are right in front of us. The rest is simple enough.”
Henri continued for him down below.
“The usage fees can be sent back with the transport ships returning to the Udon Kingdom. The abandoned ones can be transferred to us and the sold ones can be bought or rented to send the princess back home. The Udon Kingdom’s true form will have a long relationship with us later on, but it would mean a lot if we could begin that relationship without any intervention from Hashiba.”
“The Udon Kingdom’s true form is an undiscovered region still unknown to the Testament Union, but Mouri has long dealt with Shikoku and even expanded its territory into Shikoku for a time. The history recreation stands in Hexagone Française’s way here, but the princess can do it for us.”
“Magnificent. You are the greatest wife in the world on the political and economic fronts as well, Terumoto.”
“Testament.” Henri nodded. “The future accepted by Lady Anne came to fruition in the following generation and the current generation. Roi-Soleil, the princess will be more popular than ever after her return, so be careful.”
“Heh. Whose side are you on, Henri?”
“Testament. I am on the side of the princess and of you when the princess is with you.”
“I see.” He laughed. “As am I, Henri. Even the moon shines on Hexagone Française now. Prepare for her return and tell the Reine des Garous that the Roi-Soleil accepts Musashi’s small favor.”
Silver Wolf: “Um, Masazumi? My mother keeps sending messages that just say ‘c’mon’ over and over again. I think her brain might finally be broken.”
Your mother never makes any sense, so what else is new? wondered Masazumi.
The sign frames she had open were all the documents and contracts necessary for the Mouri return plan.
Augesvarer and Ookubo had put them all together.
Circle Be: “Why do I have to set this up? I was hoping to sell those transport ships in Kantou and make a fortune, you know?”
Vice President: “Which is why I gave you a trade agreement instead. That should be better than just selling the transport ships.”
Art-Ga: “I see.”
Naruze’s words appeared on the divine transmission. Her location data suggested she had finished submitting her manuscript.
Art-Ga: “That explains why I haven’t seen many of the ships that were flying around since morning. You’ve been reworking the ownership and style of the transport ships we dragged along from the Udon Kingdom, haven’t you?”
“Judge,” replied Masazumi while a new wind blew through.
Countless European-style transport ships began to ascend from between the Musashi’s eight ships.
Circle Be: “That isn’t actually quite enough, so we’re buying some from the Musashi and other nations along the way. But this should be enough to start with.”
Circle Be: “If the Hexagone Française forces have any unneeded materials that would only be dead weight on the trip home, we will purchase them at a reduced price, so we’re making money either way.”
Money Lover: “Heidi, gather up all the relevant data for me. Also, I will be negotiating soon, so please prepare a throwing candy box I can use to intercept their prostration. The kind that springs up as a counterattack would be best. Time is of the essence in this one.”
The Treasurer wasn’t making much sense, but what else was new? Masazumi then summed up their plan.
“We will buy up transport ships between here and Satomi, so they don’t have to wait for Hexagone Française to send ships for them. We can rent them, buy them cheaply, commandeer abandoned ones, or whatever else. This might be their triumphant return, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. After all…”
Masazumi pointed at her sign frame, but this was not directed at Hashiba.
She spoke with the knowledge that Mouri Terumoto was watching.
“Mouri’s fighting force is the Murakami Navy, the greatest delinquent naval force in the Warring States period. Procuring a ride home on-site is just how they do things. What matters to them is that their commander is safe and that they return successful. Isn’t that right?”
“What can I say!? When you’re right, you’re right!”
Terumoto sprang up from her bench.
She was honestly not fond of having people set everything up for her in advance, but that was only for her herself.
She felt differently when they did it for others.
When her subordinates – the people who propped up someone as useless and powerless as herself – were kindly taken care of, she had only one thing to say.
“Glad you understand. That’s what really matters, to me at least.” She snapped her right fingers. “Hey, contact Musashi’s Asama Shrine Representative. Have her cancel Mouri’s primary shrine setting in Kantou! Also, contact Mouri-02 at Mouri’s Suga Shrine. Have her work with the Asama Shrine Representative on that task and then have her reroute our divine protections through the Dosojin and their related shrines and temples along the route back.”
“What do you mean, princess?”
“We’re headed home. Isn’t that obvious!?”
Terumoto opened a signe cadre. No, she opened several at once.
The displayed images showed her subordinates who were on the beach or in the forest after losing their transport ships and warships. They all looked up at her, but…
She answered their silent, puzzled gazes with a toothy grin.
“We’re headed home, Murakami!” She laughed. “Musashi says they’re giving us some transport ships thanks to your presence. Hard to say no to that.”
Murakami Motoyoshi bowed his head at the center of the group where he had been viewing Kantou sea charts and air charts.
He looked a lot more tanned than when he had left Mouri.
“We left as Mouri warriors, we will be returning as pirates, and we will arrive home as students accompanying our princess on her triumphant return. It is hard to keep track of who we are even serving anymore.”
“Don’t fret over it. I’m just the Student Council President.” She crossed her arms. “Again, we’re headed home! Get ready on the double. Not one of you had better be late!”
“Testament,” the all replied. More cries of “testament, testament, testament” followed.
“Testament. We are the Murakami Navy and we are many!!”
AK listened to it all while kneeling on the Azuchi’s deck.
What sounded like cheers arrived from far to the west, and…
…The sound of aerial ships starting up.
The Pension Versailles was ascending. And the remnants of the fleet were following.
“Hey.” Mouri Terumoto sent a divine transmission to Takenaka. “Once we’re home, stop by anytime and we can do the reconciliation for Bitchu Takamatsu Castle or whatever else you want. But we’re throwing a party first. Show up in time and you can join us.”
Takenaka sighed quietly in response. Or AK thought she did.
But he kept his head bowed.
When the meeting began, he had honestly suspected Musashi had betrayed them. He had thought their Vice President had lied to him at the Udon Kingdom, setting him up.
But what he saw now was so beneficial for him he felt a chill in the pit of his stomach.
They would not be doing Bitchu Takamatsu Castle’s reconciliation in Kantou, but Terumoto had made it clear they would do it eventually.
So until they did do it, he would still have real authority while here on the Azuchi. Also…
“Hey, Hashiba. Our priest is there, isn’t he?”
AK bowed even deeper.
“That reconciliation is his history recreation, so go to him for anything related to it.”
“Testament,” said AK, fully prostrating himself this time.
The period of time until the reconciliation would be the last time he could work for Mouri. He would be fully on Hashiba’s side afterwards, but he now had permission to do so.
Terumoto understood his situation and how he felt about it.
The rest was up to him. Meanwhile, Takenaka brushed up her hair.
“Testament. That settles it then.” She inhaled and then addressed Musashi. “The Musashi will be moving from there, won’t it?”
“She is downright obsessed with their pride,” said the Reine des Garous, licking the ice from her ceramic glass.
The Mouri fleet was ascending far to the east. Terumoto had said they would accept and join with the Udon Kingdom transport fleet supplied by Musashi.
They would ascend and then reorganize in a region and over a wide enough area for them to land. Then they would be the Murakami Navy.
…Their trip back to Hexagone Française begins tonight.
But she had a thought about this. The Mouri fleet would be taking a southern route through the Far East to reach Hexagone Française, but…
“Mouri will also want to avoid any appearance of Musashi keeping an eye on them as they leave. That is why Takenaka concluded the Musashi will be moving from there.”
“Testament. If Musashi clears the way for Mouri, Hashiba will demand the same treatment. If they do return to that spot to keep an eye on Hashiba, their hostility will be hard to deny,” said the fox. “So what do you have to say about that, Musashi Vice President?”
She spoke with her right hand still raised.
“All hands, listen up.”
She provided instructions.
“The Musashi will now be moving east. We will join with the Mouri fleet.”
Katou Yoshiaki raised her eyebrows.
…Is it happening!?
They hurried westward on their brooms and she opened a telescope spell to check on the situation. She used a wide-angle setting to get a view of Satomi as well, but…
“Listen, Hashiba and Takenaka,” continued the Musashi Vice President. “The Musashi will now join with the Mouri fleet. That way we can ensure Kantou’s defenses are complete after seeing Mouri off.”
“Wait,” said Angie. “Are they planning to fight us?”
“Then it could happen right away,” replied Yoshiaki, seeing Takenaka raise her right hand in the Magie Figur.
Would they do this or avoid it?
In the meantime, the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s voice reached them.
“Once the Musashi has visited and greeted the Kantou nations, we will temporarily join the Ariake for repairs and supplies. Once those are complete, we will travel to our usual position in Kantou and eliminate anyone there we deem to be an enemy.”
“The repairs will be complete on August 10. The Musashi will enter the Ariake on that day and then make our next move. If the Azuchi has not left by then, you will have made all of Kantou your enemy, Hashiba.”
“Musashi is providing a compromise, but the condescension hasn’t changed.”
Unno viewed the southeastern sky from the shimmering heat of the sunny rooftop. She listened to Mochizuki’s analysis while the automaton moved a planter of sprouts into the shade.
“Not a bad choice. Musashi must be worn down after fighting several battles in a row, so after quickly dealing with the Kantou nations, they will join the Ariake. If they emerge to protect Kantou afterwards, Kantou and the other nations can hardly say they ran away. Also,” continued Mochizuki. “The Musashi will effectively not exist in the sky while inside the Ariake. That means the Azuchi can ignore their presence, making it much easier to move around.”
“How is Hashiba responding to this?”
“Repairing the Azuchi and returning home was their original plan. Musashi has simply applied additional meaning to that. Hashiba will want to complete their repairs before the 10th, resupply in Kantou if possible, and return home at a nice leisurely pace. That way they can make it look like the Azuchi took its time resupplying yet the Musashi was unable to attack them.”
“Those higher ups love their silly performances, don’t they!?”
“I await your next performance on the stage, Unno-sama.”
She had to bring that up, didn’t she? Unno smiled bitterly. “Maybe I’ll be back on the stage by the end of summer or during the first autumn festival.” Unno sighed and turned her gaze back to the southeast. She could see the Musashi and the Azuchi there. “They’re starting on their next moves, are they? But…”
Unno nodded and let her shoulders slump.
“Most of the damage the Musashi needs to repair came from that final exam, didn’t it?”
Takenaka checked a few lernen figurs and then sighed.
…Pushing us too hard here would be a bad idea.
The possibilities displayed by Three Thousand Worlds were beginning to show a lot more conflicts and battles. Battle was looking like the most likely option and even the methods of avoiding that could be entirely overturned by external factors. So…
“Testament. Then let’s say we both have our problems and we are both working to resolve them.”
She changed the direction of those possibilities.
She tilted the future toward a plan where they hurried the Azuchi’s repairs, giving them more time to work with in Kantou.
She swapped out several of the lernen figurs arranged in multiple rows to look further and further ahead, but she could not lose herself in that at the moment.
She had something else to do now.
“This concludes our meeting, Musashi. If you need anything else, our divine transmissions are always open.”
With that, she closed the lernen figur.
The meeting was over.
Masazumi sighed after closing her own sign frame.
Everyone else also sighed and ordered drinks at Ohiroshiki’s food stand. The arms brought her a bamboo bottle from there. Very thoughtful of them.
She took the bottle and gave the arms a nod of thanks, so they made an “oh, it was nothing” gesture before leaving.
…Am I imagining it, or am I learning to communicate with them?
This had to be unprecedented in all of human history, but she figured it was fine since they were harmless enough.
She saw Asama helping armless Horizon by giving her a bamboo bottle on a neck strap and sticking a reed straw in it. Horizon caught the straw in her mouth and took a few tentative sips.
“Perhaps I should install some sub-arms.”
“That feels like missing the point to me, but I could attach an autonomous movable latch on your neck hard points. You know, like the arms that automatically remove sabers or ammo from a backpack in mecha anime. Couldn’t you use one of those to remove things from the space behind you?”
Smoking Girl: “We use a lot of those, so why not try it out with one of our older ones? I could fix one up and bring it by tonight. How about a sword or a hammer?”
“Wh-what’s with the contemplative look in my direction as soon as someone mentions weapons!?” asked the idiot.
Nothing out of the ordinary there.
But there was movement in the sky.
The Musashi was beginning to head east, with the transport fleet out ahead of them.
The invisible spell field covering the ship caused enough movement in the humid summer air to form foggy clouds. The Date Vice Chancellor asked a question while they watched those clouds.
“Did we win those negotiations just now?”
“We have the advantage for now, but Hashiba can gain the advantage if they take the right attitude when they leave.”
“Whoever acts last leaves the strongest impression, so are you sure we aren’t in trouble there?”
“We’ll be fine.”
“Really?” asked the others, so Masazumi nodded.
“We will be returning to Kansai later, so we will be acting last. Hashiba can strut on back to their base if they want, but we’ll overturn everything afterwards.”
Movement filled the others.
“Um.” Balfette raised her hand. “We have to visit the Kantou nations and then go to Ariake, right? Will we really be able to return to Kansai?”
“Yes, we can. But we are going to pretty busy from here on out, so bear with it.”
“With the Musashi’s repairs and building a new relationship with the Kantou nations, right?”
“It starts with that, yes,” agreed Masazumi.
She walked forward to join the others and pointed to the northeast.
Mito was in that direction and the Ariake would be floating in the sky there.
“If we held any serious international negotiations, we’d get in trouble for violating summer break. So we’ll just do Musashi’s usual thing: use trade and business to show off the Musashi’s value to the Kantou nations. We have to do that before and after our repairs, so our schedule is going to be fairly packed.”
“I had a feeling,” grumbled the others, shoulders drooping, but the idiot sister shrugged.
“But we have some extra time today, don’t we? Because today is all about handing off the transport ships and traveling to the Ariake.”
“Let’s get back home for the first time in forever and get some rest. We all have a lot to do there, don’t we?”
That evening, after learning of the Musashi’s plans, the Ariake announced its summer event schedule. The event held within the Ariake itself was a history recreation of the Far East’s printing technology. Managed under the provisional rule, the Printing of Unique Stories for Sale to You event was scheduled to begin on August 15.
This summer version was known for short as the Hot PUSSY event and Naruze and the other participations were fired up about it, so that settled most of Musashi’s summer plans right there.
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