Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 42
Chapter 42: Troublemakers on the Poolside
Greater than expected
Exactly as expected
Point Allocation (That’s About It)
Mitotsudaira took a break to swallow some of the plum drink in her bamboo bottle while she watched it play out.
First of all…
“Okay, boys! Hell, girls too if you want! Form a wall around Nagabuto!”
“H-hey! Sop that! What the hell!? Let me go! Let me goooo!”
“Um.” Adele turned toward Christina. “This question is off the record, but do you want to see Nagaoka-san in a school swimsuit?”
“Off the record, you say?” Christina crouched to put her on Adele’s eye level. “Then this is my answer.” She formed a circle with her fingers.
Everyone who saw that answer exchanged a nod. Mary also formed a circle with her hands and directed it toward Tenzou.
“Isn’t this mood great, Master Tenzou?”
Gold Mar: “Now that is a difficult question for him to answer.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. If he simply agrees with her, the topic dies right then and there.”
Horizey: “Now, let us watch and see if Tenzou-sama can manage a suave response.”
They all saw Tenzou briefly freeze up, but he finally took a deep breath and formed a heart with his fingers.
“I think this is nice too, Mary-dono.”
Naomasa slammed a nearby sandal into the pool’s ice with an overhand throw. The loud slap made Oriotri look up from her sign frame while seated on the diving board. She was likely researching the best food on the Ariake.
“C’mon, Naomasa. Don’t throw things.”
“Yeah, I know. But you’d want to throw something too if you were over here.”
But the next thing they all knew, Mary was mimicking Tenzou.
“Y-you’re right,” she said with a blushing smile. “I want to support this one too.”
…What have we here?
The 1st Special Duty Officer has changed a lot, thought Mitotsudaira, but Mary’s change was a lot more remarkable.
She had learned to speak with him more since the end of the Battle of Nördlingen. She was still not as calm as she might be, but she had made a lot of improvement.
Asama had demonstrated something similar just a bit ago. So…
Silver Wolf: “My king.”
Me: “Yeah. Tenzou, I want to support this one too.”
Uqui: “I too would like to support this one.”
Laborer: “It should go without saying, but I would like to support this one.”
They all directed heart gestures toward Tenzou.
10ZO: “You don’t all have to do it!”
Me: “Yeah, but you don’t get many chances to do something this bold.”
Gold Mar: “Then how bout we do this every time we speak to Tenzou from now on?”
Meanwhile, things were progressing within the circular wall of boys.
“Hey! Stop! Wh-what do you think you’re doing!?”
They work fast, thought Mitotsudaira as a pair of red swimming trunks and a shirt were tossed over the wall of boys.
The arms swiftly collected them and passed them to Asama, who folded them and passed them to Christina.
“Do you want to wash them?”
“No, then Tadaoki-sama wouldn’t have anything to wear on the way back.”
Silver Wolf: “She’s surprisingly sensible.”
Bell: “Eh? Oh, I-I guess. Relatively…speaking.”
Did I say anything weird? At any rate, the wall of boys was finally done.
“There, that’s taken care of. Dismissed!”
They all scattered, leaving Nagaoka out of breath and lying on the floor.
He was wearing one of Musashi’s blue swim trunks.
“D-damn you all!” He slammed his fists against the wooden floor and looked to the others. “Don’t you dare forget this! Because I’m getting back at you! I swear it!”
“Sure,” said Masazumi with a nod. Then she waved her hand. “Okay, everyone, let’s get the meeting started. Nagaoka, you stay there. Everyone else, take a seat wherever.”
Ignored, the Nagaoka boy slammed his fists against the floor.
“Damn you all!” he shouted again. “You’re the dark underbelly of society!”
That makes you sound like a sore loser, so maybe find a better line.
“Now that the Swedish Chancellor has joined us, I would like to begin our meeting with some parts being off the record. Asama, make sure the records are protected.”
Masazumi glanced over to make sure Asama nodded.
“Now for the main topic of discussion,” she said. “How can we best harass P.A. Oda?”
Christina raised her right hand.
“I thought you were going to be rebuilding your relationship with Sweden?”
“We will.” The Musashi Vice President shrugged. “But doing that would be dangerous for you if you don’t first know what we plan to do and what we hope to accomplish, right? When I talk about harassment, I primarily mean our intervention in the Honnouji Incident. How much of your information would come in handy for the wide variety of harassment we have planned? If you can help us, I would like to begin negotiating with Sweden right away. So how about it?”
Christina thought on that question.
What didn’t she know?
How Musashi would involve themselves in Honnouji was certainly one example of that.
But they planned to discuss exactly that in this meeting.
…Some very meaningful information will be created here.
So what would she do?
She immediately felt a desire to see it happen. She could focus on what happened here and use that information to decide whether or not Sweden would take part.
Some water had been splashed onto the poolside. She assumed that was where you were meant to sit.
So she settled down on the damp wooden boards as she responded.
“I think it would be best if I viewed the information here and made a judgment based on Musashi’s plans. So show me what kind of harassment Musashi is suggesting.”
Unturning: “Well, then. Calling it harassment now has international approval.”
Laborer: “The term might be a little too on the nose.”
Me: “Yeah, it’d be more interesting if we had a cleverer name for it.”
Vice President: “Sh-shut up! I was dumbing the conversation down to your level!”
“Listen, all of you.” Masazumi pressed her lips together before speaking. “We have a few different ways of intervening in P.A. Oda’s affairs.”
“Oh, we do?” asked Naruze.
She nodded and had Tsukinowa open a sign frame.
“There’s always the simplest method, which most people would call a last resort.”
“Hm? It’s simple and most people would call it a last resort?” asked the wolf.
“Judge.” Masazumi displayed some text on the sign frame. “The ‘give up on politics and just barge on in’ method.”
Horizon saw everyone freeze and fall silent.
Suzu gave her a troubled nod, so she took action.
She raised her hands, stood next to Masazumi, counted down from three, and lowered her hands as a cue…just in time for the arms to pop off.
The clattering of the fallen arms threw off everyone’s timing.
“Tha-” started Adele, but she quickly stopped when Naito shushed her. She clapped a hand over her mouth and nodded to show she understood.
“Sorry about that,” said Horizon. “I have been letting my arms do so much lately that I have started giving the joints a looser setting. Now, follow the arms’ lead.”
The arms dipped their hands down a few times and then raised them as the new cue.
“That is not what most people would call a last resort!” everyone shouted.
Vice President: “Huh? But isn’t barging in always the last resort you all use? Or are you upset I’m suggesting we even try politics first? Sorry, but we have to at least try.”
Novice: “N-no, Crossdressing Honda-kun! That is not our problem here!”
Four Eyes: “Then what is. Explain it for us.”
Novice: “Well, um, th-that’s just the feeling I get! It’s about the general mood here, you know? Also, why is an off-the-record meeting being transmitted to England anyway!?”
Asama: “Eh? It’s just Shakespeare-san, so what does it matter?”
Novice: “Asama-kun, why are you so lax all of a sudden!? I’m not the only one that thinks this is weird, am I!?”
Art-Ga: “Huh? Who cares when it’s just Shakespeare? Heh heh heh heh.”
Novice: “W-with you it’s not a surprise! You’re always like this!”
Vice President: “C’mon, stop that. Anyway, since you volunteered, Neshinbara, what is your problem with this?”
Silver Wolf: “J-judge! What do you mean ‘barging in’ is our last resort?”
Vice President: “Technically, I said ‘give up on politics and just barge on in’.”
Silver Wolf: “That’s worse! Masazumi, this is what you’re saying here: even if we don’t have any good ideas, we won’t give up, so we’ll ignore the academy rules and ‘barge in’ in the middle of summer break!”
Gold Mar: “So if we don’t come up with any ideas, we have to go to war with the entire world during summer break?”
Vice President: “Isn’t that what all of you were planning, too?”
Almost Everyone: “Too!? So you admit it!”
Narumi raised her right hand. She had a question about this.
“Musashi Vice President, if we do barge in on P.A. Oda, will it affect Date too?”
“Huh? They’ll be fine as long as they don’t try to get anything out of it.”
“Then I have no complaints.”
She didn’t even need to think about it.
Seated next to her, Urquiaga spoke to her without turning her way.
“You’ve already called me ‘cool’ enough for one day.”
“Then do you want a more embarrassing compliment?”
“You are beautiful.”
She had to pause before responding to that one.
“Don’t say that.”
“I’m not even wearing a dress right now.”
Flat Vassal: “Sometimes I think the 2nd Special Duty Officer might have it worse than the 1st.”
Gold Mar: “But it’s over once he says his thing, so he’s harmless.”
Me: “Eh? So Tenzou’s harmful? You hear that, ninja? You’ve been designated harmful.”
10ZO: “I-I didn’t even do anything this time!”
“Wait just a moment,” said Masazumi while everyone’s excitement boiled over for some reason.
She appreciated how they were all seated and facing her. They were focused. The weird tangents that concentration could take scared her, but that was a habitual behavior for them. It was as set in stone as a law of the universe, so she just had to accept it. But should I accept it? We waste a lot of time that way. And isn’t the whole point of concentration to guide us toward our original destination?
“Masazumi!” shouted Futayo. “Are you going on a weird tangent while concentrating on something!?”
“Okay, I didn’t expect to be called out by Futayo of all people!”
Masazumi and Tsukinowa tapped the sign frame from earlier.
“Anyway, we need to do what we can to keep this from happening.”
Itou raised his hand.
“Ha ha ha. Are you saying it is destiny for us to do that!?”
“If it were, we wouldn’t get in so much trouble for doing it.”
“D-did we need such a realistic answer!?” asked Tenzou.
“Just listen up, all of you. You see this? This gets us in deep trouble, so we need to find a better plan.” Masazumi opened a map of the Far East zoomed in on Kinki. “Now, let me explain why we’ll be in deep trouble.”
Christina noted that the Musashi Vice President was explaining their present situation to help prepare for their harassment.
The meat of the discussion was yet to come.
But Christina had a question regarding Musashi.
She felt like she had a decent understanding of Musashi’s skill after gathering information and speaking with Tomoe Gozen in the leadup to the Battle of Nördlingen. But…
…What is the third power beyond military power and political power?
Before the fighting or the politics began, that power ensured you understood your enemy and yourself.
That power allowed you to make anyone your ally. In a way, it allowed you to control the world without resorting to war or unnecessary politics.
How did Musashi stack up there? Christina pondered that question.
She concluded that Musashi was probably weak when it came to intelligence.
…They end up in battles and political confrontations far too often.
What caused that?
Or what reason did they have to do that?
As an intelligence-focused person, she wanted to know.
After all, it would affect Musashi’s safety. The answer could greatly influence her own value to Musashi.
She wanted to trust Musashi, so she wanted them to be safe.
But she did have a concern.
What if they had called her here because they wanted a connection to Akechi Mitsuhide, the P.A. Oda leader in Kyoto?
Her Far Eastern inherited name made her Akechi Mitsuhide’s daughter.
She could find a reason to meet with him.
She did not know if he would actually meet with her, but making an official visit to P.A. Oda-controlled Kyoto would still mean a lot.
But she had already used that coded memo to repay them for saving her at Nördlingen.
So she decided that was the end of it.
That meant she was free.
Sweden was still telling her not to return and she did not owe Musashi anything.
She was free.
So if they asked her to meet with Akechi Mitsuhide on their behalf, she would lose her freedom.
It would create a new debt between Musashi and her.
She would no longer be free.
In that case, she would shift to dealing with them on equal footing as the Swedish Chancellor. Then she would use the conditions they suggested to decide whether or not she would let them use her connection to Akechi Mitsuhide.
So how would this go?
Her mind was a shifting mass of caution and uncertainty as she listened to the Musashi Vice President.
“You see,” said the girl. “The state of the different nations is going to change again during summer break. And that means trouble.”
Mitotsudaira understood what Masazumi meant, so she restated it for her.
“You mean their respective strengths will change over the break, so their attitude toward Musashi might also change?”
“Judge. Exactly. I mean, think about it.” Masazumi tapped her Kinki map. “P.A. Oda is currently gathered here. Losing Kantou means they’ve lost their trade route in the east. And all the resources they used to hold Edo and Satomi went to waste.”
“Vice President,” said Adele. “Does that mean they’ve been weakened, or are they stronger after gathering all their forces?”
“Both,” replied Mitotsudaira. “P.A. Oda has lost most of the benefits they hoped to gain from Kantou. They failed to establish a larger marketplace there and to set up a profitable industry there. So they will use the break to reassess their likely profits and whatever funding and resources they can’t make up for will remain as losses. But,” she continued. “The funding and resources they brought back from Kantou were not originally counted in the budget for running P.A. Oda headquarters. So now that they have been brought there, they will be used like an unexpected bonus.”
Gin nodded once and asked a follow-up question.
“You mean the P.A. Oda headquarters and Kantou forces operated on separate budgets, so combining them now will strengthen their capital?”
This was easier to understand for her since she owned a few companies and for the Tres Españans who had been deployed to various regions as warriors.
“Um, so you’re saying however much profit Hashiba could bring back from Kantou will strength the P.A. Oda headquarters?” asked Adele, who had asked the original question.
“That is correct.”
“Then,” said Adele, tilting her head. “Wouldn’t trapping Hashiba in Kantou be a valid strategy here?”
“We give Hashiba permission to stay in Kantou and then hang them out to dry. Can’t we weaken them by preventing them from returning after their defeat?”
“If we did that, there is always the risk of them taking back control of Kantou.”
Masazumi’s response silenced them all.
“If we trapped the Azuchi in Kantou, we could indeed cause financial trouble for P.A. Oda. I of course considered this before our meeting the other day.”
“They have a last resort as well. And it’s something we saw during that meeting.”
Mitotsudaira agreed with Masazumi.
…That is very true.
The Azuchi had their own independent thoughts and actions. That meeting had made it clear that they were not going to do whatever Musashi wanted. So…
“That’s right,” agreed Neshinbara who had taken charge partway through that meeting. He opened a sign frame and displayed a map of Kantou. “Hashiba lost in Kantou because Kuki, the commander of their fleet, announced their defeat. But Hashiba arrived immediately afterwards, so they could force a continuation of the battle in exchange for letting Kuki go. They would claim that they were being held in Kantou because we wanted them to remain involved in Kantou’s affairs.”
“Could they really get away with something so forceful?”
“Margot, have you already forgotten what our last resort is?” asked Naruze, who was making quick nude sketches of the girls around her. “The enemy isn’t going to worry about appearances when they’re stuck using a last resort either.”
The others nodded deeply in quiet agreement. And they all glared at Masazumi.
“That’s right. We’re just as bad as them.”
“W-well excuse me for having a Plan B! It’s pretty easy to run out of options during summer break, you know?”
“Masazumi, you sound like a child refusing to do her summer homework.”
Asama was right, but Masazumi wasn’t wrong either. So…
“Are you saying the Azuchi is already backed into a corner, so trying anything more would be dangerous?”
“Isn’t every nation in pretty much the same boat?” asked the king. “If you don’t want to give up, you’re gonna keep fighting.”
“I recall something similar happening at Mikawa,” said Horizon, sipping at a teacup she had pulled out of thin air. She took a breath. “You never know what someone will do when they feel trapped. At Mikawa, for example, an incompetent nudist actually donned his uniform for once and fought to rescue a virtuous, innocent, honest, trusting, kind, beautiful, charm- gh.”
“Horizon! Horizon! You bit your tongue trying to throw in too many complimentary adjectives there, didn’t you!?”
“Do not worry, Mitotsudaira-sama. I am sure everyone understands what I meant…”
“That trailing ellipsis doesn’t make you sound so sure,” said Naito.
“Anyway.” Mitotsudaira cleared her throat to bring everyone’s attention back from Horizon. “Once the Azuchi returns to their HQ, I am sure Hashiba will bolster their forces. In that sense, the European nations have to fight back as well.”
“Do you understand what I mean?”
Everyone looked right back at her.
That meant they all understood what it meant for Europe to fight back.
She didn’t particularly like how her king wiggled around with his eyebrows lowered and held up a sign frame saying “Tell me and only me!”, but she sent him the relevant material anyway.
The wolf draped a shirt over her shoulders and spoke in front of everyone.
“Do you understand what I mean?” she asked again. “As far as the history recreation is concerned, we have cornered Hashiba and P.A. Oda. And now that P.A. Oda has lost Kantou through its Liberation, they can now gather their forces in a central location. Plus, they will be using summer break to recover their national strength.”
“P.A. Oda has been partially cornered but the European nations can’t do anything about it during summer break. And P.A. Oda might be dangerous again once the break is over. …That sums up the current situation.”
“If nothing changes until the break ends, P.A. Oda will have recovered or even increased their national strength and they will resume their activities in Europe. If that happens, the other nations might make a show of accepting our restraint of P.A. Oda, but they will actually think we shouldn’t have done it at all or at least got the timing wrong.”
“In that case.” Masazumi crossed her arms and asked the knight a question. “What is it we need to do?”
“Judge. That is simple enough. We must continue our harassment.” The wolf smiled with eyebrows raised. “We must continue to restrain P.A. Oda during the break and earn the other nations’ approval by the time the break ends.”
That is simple, thought Narumi.
She also asked a question. She was pretty sure she knew the answer already, but she wanted to make sure they had a consensus here.
“Vice President, may I ask something?”
“What is it, Date Vice Chancellor?”
“Judge. If, as the Mito Lord says, P.A. Oda recovers their national strength and resumes activities in Europe, leading the other nations to distrust Musashi,” she said, “wouldn’t the Kantou Liberation have been not just a waste of effort, but a plus for P.A. Oda?”
It’s a reasonable question, thought Masazumi.
The summer break restriction could work in their advantage, or it could do the exact opposite.
Looking to the future, P.A. Oda did indeed still have plenty of strength and they could be working to further boost that strength.
In that sense, Europe might decide the Kantou Liberation had been a waste of time and even dangerous. But…
…This is like practice for when I have to defend against these questions for real.
The Date Vice Chancellor would have understood that when she asked the question.
So Masazumi raised her right hand to tell the Date Vice Chancellor to wait.
“I’ll ask someone on the scene.”
Ookubo was working.
She was outdoors, outside the city. The recovery work made the Satomi city and the ships so noisy, so it kept her from concentrating.
She wasn’t sure if that meant she was too busy or not busy enough.
Either way, she had wanted a more comfortable work environment, so she had carried her sign frames out into the forest north of the city that morning.
This had originally been a temporary gathering spot for lumber. Thanks to that, there was a river nearby and insect-repelling incense, making for an excellent work environment.
The wind blowing through the forest occasionally carried the scent of spell explosives or burning metal, but that was unavoidable. She had Kanou and Yagyuu with her as bodyguards and she would work with the recovery-related council members who occasionally came to meet her.
…I could get used to this.
She considered visiting the beach once her work was done.
That night, she would be meeting with the local Satomi representatives.
After that, she would make a final check with the Azuchi via divine transmission.
Her interactions with the Azuchi didn’t amount to much. They were simply holding realistic talks about handing off the badly-damaged ships, wreckage, and other unneeded supplies the Azuchi was leaving behind
They were both enemies and allies in this case, so it didn’t help to restrict her options with either definition.
The food was the same.
The Azuchi had combat rations onboard and they would gather seafood using transport ships, but they also had a lot of local products.
After living here for a while, they were used to that food anyway.
So to help their various negotiations run more smoothly, the food for Musashi’s stationed troops had been provided from the Satomi supplies given to the Azuchi for August.
With that groundwork laid, Azuchi personnel would negotiate sales of unneeded supplies while also leaving behind pieces of wreckage.
…It’s all going well.
Satomi could not rely on their neighbors for recovery materials. It would bring their autonomy into question if they did.
Ookubo had wanted to give them materials from the Musashi, but…
“What were they even doing during that final exam?”
She should have realized a serious battle was in the works when their homeroom teacher called back the Vice Chancellor’s aide and the 6th Special Duty Officer.
Regardless, it was fortunate Satomi could rely on the Azuchi instead of the Musashi for materials. It was fascinating how similar the Azuchi’s internal block structure was to the Musashi’s. That was probably because Lord Matsunaga had come up with the basic design for them both. That had made the materials a lot easier to use once they were brought to Satomi.
Lord Matsunaga had lost his life when the Musashi entered Kantou, but it felt like he had given them another helping hand here.
…People’s deaths aren’t the end of the story. Their accomplishments live on after they’re gone.
Ookubo decided she needed to avoid any negative accomplishments as a politician.
“They had quite a few transport ship materials too.”
Had the Azuchi been planning to run some kind of business in Kantou?
There are so many mysteries, she thought just as a sign frame arrived from the Asama Shrine Representative.
Vice President: “Hey, Ookubo. Can I ask something real quick?”
Last night or before, this would have infuriated her.
But today she was making good progress on her work and the forest had helped relax her.
She could handle a little extra work. So…
…There’s no correct answer with her because just asking what she wants counts as accepting the task with her.
She knew that from experience, so she glared at the sign frame as she responded.
Nagaya-Stable: “I’m not joining you until tonight. I’m trying to work right now.”
Vice President: “Yeah, but don’t worry. This is a school day for us.”
Nagaya-Stable: “Don’t contact me in the middle of class!”
Vice President: “What’s got you so bent out of shape? Is your work too hard?”
That really pissed her off, but she suppressed the feeling.
Next to her, Kanou was clenching her fists and saying “Rebel, milady! The time of rebellion is upon us!” Maybe it was a bad thing that actually helped calm her down somewhat.
Then the question arrived.
Vice President: “I was wondering.”
And after that preamble…
Vice President: “Do you feel like everything you did was a waste of effort?”
Masazumi gave Tsukinowa an instruction.
“Hey, Tsukinowa? A bunch of sign frames are about to appear, so can you delete them all at once?”
Tsukinowa’s puzzled head tilt was immediately followed by a book’s worth of protest mails flooding in.
Tsukinowa was clearly disturbed by the quantity at first, but then the Mouse stood up.
All of the arriving mails were shattered.
CAN: “Milady! Our protest message saturation attack was blocked by an anteater!”
Nagaya-Stable: “Now, there’s a sentence you don’t hear every day.”
CAN: “Milady! Don’t give up already!”
Masazumi saw Tsukinowa turn back to her as if to say “anyway”.
The Mouse raised its front legs in a pose of victory.
“Good, good. You did great, Tsukinowa. You’re more powerful than the Representative Committee Head.”
“Vice President, are you saying the Representative Committee Head is ranked below an anteater?”
She had basically said that, but what could you do when it was the truth?
Tsukinowa selected a few messages and displayed them. None of them repeated any information and they contained the reason for all the protests.
She read through that and then asked Ookubo another question.
Vice President: “Ookubo, explain yourself.”
Huh? thought Ookubo while taking a look around.
Everyone working with her here had been with her since the Kantou Liberation.
They were looking to her, wondering what all the fuss was about. So…
…We could use a change of pace.
She tapped her materials sign frame so she could continue working while she spoke.
“I will now explain what exactly the Kantou Liberation has caused. More than a week has passed since then, after all. Which do you want first – the bad results or the good results?”
“Milady, I would like the bad first.”
“Is everyone else all right with that?”
They all exchanged a glance and then nodded.
Nagaya-Stable: “Thanks for guiding them in that direction, Kanou-kun.”
Kanou did not respond because she considered that to be no more than her duty.
Based on that, Ookubo concluded it would be safe to follow this discussion through to the end.
“There have been two bad results.”
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