Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 53
Chapter 53: Advertisers in the Right-Angle Sky
I really didn’t want
Point Allocation (Collision)
Angie followed Yoshiaki’s decision.
They separated their brooms.
That decision was made in a split second, so the following course change also had to be instantaneous.
Their opponent was flying with their hands off the controls. And at reckless speed too. Or to sum it up…
…Are you crazy!?
Angie separated just as Yoshiaki angled her broom to the west. It was a little rude, but they kicked off each other to rapidly move apart.
They split up.
Angie flew east and Yoshiaki west. At the moment of separation, almost all of their thrusters were pointed away from each other’s heading. Flying with gravitational control allowed them to forcibly break free of their momentum.
Angie took a nearly 90-degree turn.
She pressed her entire body against Schwarz Fürstin and let it carry her like a ball bouncing off a wall. And after that…
She let the bouncing momentum carry her.
That was how Yoshiaki interpreted her heading.
The maneuver had worked out well. Her thrusters were attempting to push her Schale Besen forward. That was something of a problem, but her poor attempt at breaking free caused the tail end to drift forward instead.
To prevent that from getting worse, she adjusted her position to let the momentum pass through the front of the broom instead.
…What did they do!?
Musashi’s Technohexen must have passed the point of no return by now, so they must have overshot the front line created by Yoshiaki and Angie.
That would mean Musashi had violated Azuchi’s inviolable airspace.
Politically, that was a bargaining chip. Martially, it gave them a reason to attack. Either way, she and Angie had set up a situation that worked against Musashi.
That was a job well done for them, so Yoshiaki checked on the Azuchi’s position and the Musashi Technohexen’s course while she flew westward. She used the ether sensor Magie Figur in front of her eyes.
She found a Schwarz Hexen flying alongside her to the north.
Is that Angie? she wondered, but no. This Schwarz Hexen had golden hair and wings, which could only mean one thing.
“Musashi’s Schwarz Hexen!?”
Angie saw the Weiss Hexen flying alongside her at a distance of 30m. No, 25, 20, 18 – she was skidding closer through the air.
…How is she so fast!? And how did she make that turn!?
She and Yoshiaki had blown past those two at Novgorod.
And those two didn’t fly using gravitational control.
Yet now they were keeping up.
No, she could see the Weiss Hexen’s Schale Besen vibrating wildly and occasionally bouncing through the air. She barely had it under control, so it was more like forcing the broom along than actually controlling it.
But she had still made up for her failure at Novgorod.
The speed Angie could understand. The Weiss Hexen had thrown in a bunch of acceleration spell charms. Enough that it could burn out the acceleration engine and make the entire broom explode if she wasn’t careful.
But, thought Angie. How did she make that turn?
When she glanced back, she saw something along that line.
…More of her!?
She could see several more of the Weiss Hexen’s Schale Besen lined up behind her.
No, they weren’t actually there.
The Weiss Hexen’s Schale Besen was leaving behind several afterimages. In fact…
Schale Besen diagrams drawn from Weiss Techno guidelines were being abandoned behind the Weiss Hexen.
…Now I get it.
Angie understood what her opponent was doing.
“You couldn’t make that turn, so you forcibly bent your course! You used guidelines to draw out a picture of your broom to forcibly guide the broom itself!”
I’m drawing up a storm today, thought Naruze.
She was using the same basic idea as drawing up a guideline for her bullets. She would draw several images of her Schale Besen’s movements like frames of a video to guide and assist the broom through maneuvers it couldn’t normally manage at this speed.
At 24 frames per second, she had enough inbetweening to interfere with the broom around every 4m even when it was moving at the speed of sound.
She was drawing up those frames for Margot and herself and storing them in their Schale Besens’ storage tanks.
The rest was up to them. And once they forced themselves along the guided path, they found…
“This really works!”
Naruze tossed a single Magie Figur into the air.
Margot did the same to the west.
These were not attack or defense spells.
“They’re an announcement – an advertisement.”
Their Magie Figurs grew to several meters across, displaying some text in the night sky.
The giant screens showed Naruze’s handwritten text and a stylized version of herself and Margot making an announcement.
<Ariake Summer Event Announcement: Authorized by the Far Eastern Printers History Recreation Committee>
<The Summer Exchange of Immaculate Morals in Manga Form begins on August 15>
As for the location…
<This year, the Ariake has been invited to join the M.H.R.R. Protestants at the home of the printing press.>
Takenaka uttered a confused grunt when she saw the text on her telescope spell.
…Wh-where is the Ariake going?
<To eastern M.H.R.R. Protestant territory.>
Thanks for the direct response, but wait just a second, she thought. How were they going to do this, what kind of funny business had been going on behind the scenes, and who had given them authorization?
“Wait. The Ariake is moving to M.H.R.R. Protestant territory!?”
Takenaka opened a lernen figur atop the silenced Azuchi.
She needed to protest this immediately. She could act as a Testament Union representative and she could not let the Ariake move to M.H.R.R. as the site of an event based on the history of printing in the Far East.
…That is not allowed.
She knew all too well what border they would be near in eastern Protestant territory.
This is very bad! thought Takenaka.
She knew what Musashi was trying to do here.
They would move from eastern M.H.R.R. Protestant territory to Kyou. It was as simple as that.
So they would keep the Musashi inside the Ariake and travel to M.H.R.R. for this event.
She knew what their argument would be:
“Musashi can’t go to Kansai, but the Ariake can. But that’s really pushing it!”
They were taking it too far this time.
But it was still bad. She could not let them reach the Protestant principalities.
There was a rather large forested region between Kyou and M.H.R.R., so they were not direct neighbors. But they were close enough for something as large as the Musashi or Ariake.
This was bad. Kyou belonged to Hashiba just like M.H.R.R., but Akechi Mitsuhide was managing it to indicate that the Honnouji Incident had not yet occurred.
And even if Hashiba controlled M.H.R.R., the nation was split between Catholic and Protestant principalities for the Thirty Years’ War and the Protestants were within reach of the Kyoto region.
Of course, the Protestants would have no reason to invade Kyoto. They could even end up contacting the untouchable Imperial Palace and receive harsh opposition from the other nations that feared a return of the Harmonic Unification War.
Also, Akechi Mitsuhide was one of P.A. Oda’s Five Great Peaks. His forces weren’t especially powerful, but they were sufficient to manage a crucial city like Kyou.
Musashi, however, was a different story.
…They’re definitely trying to use Akechi-san to intervene in Honnouji.
This would have been fine if the Musashi remained in Kantou. Even if some of Musashi’s forces attacked, they would have no way to withdraw or receive supplies and they wouldn’t have the attack power of that giant ship.
But this would give them the entire Ariake. The Ariake gave them supplies and defenses, not to mention the Musashi. It was the combination of those two ships that had brought down the Shirasagi Castle.
So Takenaka had to stop it. She had to protest and go over their heads, so she opened a lernen figur.
“I demand you-”
Her demand was cut short.
“Good evening! Ariake Representative Mishina Shouichi here!”
A new image appeared on the previous Magie Figur.
It depicted a middle-aged man in glasses and a white coat, but he had a vast space behind him.
That was the Musashi’s specialized dock within the Ariake, but it now contained many rows of tables and the docked Musashi itself was covered in decorations, ladders, and stairs to make it a part of the event venue.
Mishina gestured back toward it all.
“To really leave an impact on Europe this time, we’re holding a Musashi exhibition at the same time.”
Unno sat directly on the rooftop.
She honestly didn’t have it in her to watch the Azuchi traveling west through the southeastern sky.
The Ariake was traveling south as if following the Azuchi, but she couldn’t watch that either.
She was watching…
“This is…being sent everywhere, isn’t it?”
Kiyomasa was seated on the edge of the roof viewing her lernen figur. Unno was doing the same. And…
The Terrestrial Dragons looked up from the forest in front of the schoolyard and even Torahide could be seen there. He skillfully rose from the waterway and rested his elbow on the edge of the roof, making sure not to damage the schoolyard.
“What do they mean the Ariake’s going to the M.H.R.R. Protestants!?”
“How should I know!? Go ask Mochizuki!”
“I am sorry, but not even I have that answer,” said Mochizuki via divine transmission. “Can they really do this?”
Someone actually answered her question.
Kiyomasa raised her hand and bowed her head toward Torahide.
“Um, I believe I understand their plan.”
“So you understand this? Out with it then.”
“Testament,” said Kiyomasa, displaying a map from Europe to Kantou on a lernen figur.
She drew a few red Xs on Europe.
“Europe was fighting the Thirty Years’ War before the break. The M.H.R.R. Protestants and Catholics in particular fought at Magdeburg and Nördlingen, not to mention with Hexagone Française. But there is one thing they have been neglecting.”
“You’re going to have to just come out and say it if you want me to understand,” said Unno.
“Ha ha! That’s how we know you’re stupid!”
She swung up her right fist, making Torahide stagger back, but he returned soon enough. Damn, he’s getting used to this. I’ll use my fan sword next time, she decided while Kiyomasa smiled over at them.
Kiyomasa erased that smile and cleared her throat.
“Basically, they have had a hard time with cultural events. When cities are at war, they are in no position for cultural activity and all of their development and industry is used for war. So M.H.R.R. has fallen behind in a few areas. One of those is…” Kiyomasa checked M.H.R.R.’s interior treasury data. “The printing industry.”
Kiyomasa tapped northern M.H.R.R. on her lernen figur map, adding a blue marker there.
“Once the printing press developed by Gutenberg is mass-produced, it is used to print the Bible – especially for Protestant versions of the Bible and other Protestant texts. Later on, the Catholics and other Protestant sects begin printing Bibles in English. This becomes an important source of trade and each nation works to establish their own printing technology, but at this point, the Protestant printing guild and others are beginning to alter their religious rules to allow printing as a form of business while the other nations hire the M.H.R.R. Protestants to print the things they are unable to print at home.”
“Oh, is that why the M.H.R.R. Protestants seem to know so much about those drawings of us, or whatever they are?”
“Testament,” replied Kiyomasa. “But recently, the M.H.R.R. Protestants have been caught up in the war and unable to utilize their printing industry. The large presses capable of trading with other nations are doing okay, but the smaller presses that only do domestic business are having a hard time.”
“Do you mean…?” asked Unno.
“As things are, the Ariake cannot hold its event,” said Kiyomasa. “The event is based on a recreation of the Far East’s printing history, but it is held under the other nations’ provisional rule because letting the Far East do it would mean granting those rights to the Far East. M.H.R.R. is primarily in charge thanks to their superiority with the printing press. The Far East has a close connection to M.H.R.R. through printing, but what happens if M.H.R.R. is unable to print anything?”
“The Ariake will travel to M.H.R.R. and relieve the stress on their printing industry?”
“Testament. That reduces the transport time for print products between M.H.R.R.’s Protestant territory and the Ariake. The Ariake can also join with their printing guild to help take on some of the work. That will allow the M.H.R.R. Protestants to complete their history recreation without issue.”
“Wait,” called a deep voice. It was Torahide, tilting his head toward Kiyomasa. “How can the Far East do print work for them?”
“Testament. The truth is, the Far East has long been a leader when it comes to printing. The Testament tells us the world’s oldest printed works were from the Far East in the 8th century. Woodblock printing has been common there since the Heian period and all sorts of books were printed at the shrines and temples. And by the Warring States period, they had even begun letterpress printing.”
“Really? I thought everything was all done by hand, like with sutra copying, so I assumed Far Eastern books just copied everyone else’s tech.”
“I thought so too, but I’m going to call you an idiot anyway,” said Unno. “Idiot.”
“Take that back!”
“Um…sutra copying is a type of training, not a form of printing.”
Seeing the dragon’s large head and Unno both nod in fascination made Kiyomasa kind of happy. But…
“Why does this foreign girl know more about Far Eastern culture than me?” asked Unno.
“I never expected to be learning so much here after living such a long life,” added Torahide.
Kiyomasa was forced to try and smooth things over with a bitter smile.
And she had something else to mention to help them understand the current situation.
“International history recreations are banned during the break, but this will be done under the M.H.R.R. Protestants’ authority. It comes from their right to manage Far Eastern printing, so it will qualify as a purely domestic matter as long as they follow the academy rules.”
Kiyomasa realized something here.
…My explanation makes it sound like I’m taking Musashi’s side.
That was a problem, but this was Sanada and they were already pro-Musashi. So…
“What’s so amusing?”
Had they noticed?
She realized a calmness had set in within her.
This was a very strange place and the Azuchi, their headquarters, was leaving. She still had her underclassmen with her, but she was the only member of the Ten Spears here.
But, she thought. If I find Musashi’s strategy amusing…
“I feel like I’ve managed to take an objective view of this.”
Even now, she still couldn’t forget about Fukushima. But instead of being an unpleasant feeling, she suddenly found she could carry it with her more easily.
She still could not look directly at her feelings and did not know how to interpret them, but she felt like she could hold onto her feelings regarding Fukushima and carry them with her.
Meanwhile, the Ariake had started to turn west, as if to follow after the Azuchi.
“This should cause a major political change.”
“That about sums it up. We look forward to seeing all our kindred spirits in Europe!”
After that last comment in Mishina’s voice, Konishi saw her sign frame disappear.
The Magie Figur in the sky also disappeared, leaving only the Ariake there in the northern sky.
An ad sign frame saying “Begins August 15!” had appeared on its upper armor.
“So the event lasts until the 17th, but the printing exhibition and negotiations continue until the 25th. And the Musashi’s exhibition and mercenary negotiations with Europe continue until the 31st. They aren’t holding back, are they?”
Nine Horns: “Konishi-kun, what do you think about their announcement just now?”
Koniko: “The Protestants did this on their own. But do you really think they’ll quit just because the Catholics tell them to? If anything, they’ll be happy to have more reasons to fight. I mean, they’ll have the Musashi with them. They would love for the Catholics to pick a fight with them while such a powerful ship is visiting.”
Kuro-Take: “So, Konishi-kun, I would leave to hear how you think Europe will respond.”
You already know that, thought Konishi with a glare.
I can’t stand Takenaka. Well, I don’t dislike her, but I don’t like having to work with her.
…The risk is way too high.
You could learn a lot from Takenaka and she would provide a lot of food for thought, but she had a tendency of going too far and starting on her high damage, high return thing. Konishi was only interested in doing business and increasing her profits, so she could not accept that as an end point.
But Takenaka seemed to know that, which actually made her come to Konishi more casually.
I wish I could be that mature, she thought while answering the question.
Koniko: “I have the inherited name of a Catholic daimyo, right? That gives me more of a connection to Europe. So let’s say the Ariake enters the Protestant principalities in late August. The European nations will probably all move to support that.”
“After all,” she said.
Koniko: “This event is an exhibit and exchange of printed works and printing technology. But it also gives people from different nations a chance to gather in the same place. They can’t hold international meetings during the break, but this allows them to exchange information. Which matters a lot with such an important event approaching: the Honnouji Incident.”
Kuro-Take: “This is going to be trouble, isn’t it?”
She knew exactly how to phrase it.
Koniko: “We’re looking at high damage, so how are you going to turn that into a high return? I don’t have a solution to this one, but you know how to do it, don’t you?”
In other words…
Koniko: “You need to complete the Honnouji Incident…and pave the way to the completion of the Genesis Project.”
“Now we wait and see how this turns out.”
Inside the Ariake, Christina watched Mishina Shouichi descend from the stage on the bow before she turned to see the Musashi Vice President sigh.
They were on Musashino’s bow deck.
Festival stands and stages were being set up there, so she could guess this place would look like a small fortress by the time they arrived in the M.H.R.R. Protestant principality on the 15th.
…They seem well accustomed to this work.
As far as she could see, the large dock had been divided into several blocks with the Musashi acting as a wall. The area by the bow would be used to exhibit and introduce the printing technology to the other nations while most everything else would be used to sell printed works.
She knew this event was only possible for the Far East, where printing was common, and for the M.H.R.R. Protestants, who managed that printing, but…
“I never imagined you would send the Musashi to Kansai inside the Ariake.”
“This is why I made sure we could enter the Ariake during out negotiations with Takenaka.”
“Makes sense,” agreed Christina. “As long as the Azuchi couldn’t move, the Musashi was effectively being watched by them.”
They had needed to prepare the Ariake for this, but they also couldn’t have Hashiba catching on.
So Musashi had visited the Kantou nations, pretending they were only solidifying their position in Kantou.
“So you entered the Ariake 10 days before the Azuchi’s departure.”
“Their attention would have been on the Musashi flying around outside, but the Ariake was what really mattered. We might have some P.A. Oda people on the Musashi, so we went out and gathered attention while the preparations were made inside the Ariake. We made sure we remained inside the Ariake for as short a time as possible.”
That had led to the current situation.
“I’m sure the Azuchi receives information on the Ariake’s actions as well, but the people in charge on the Ariake aren’t stupid. They made sure the information that really mattered didn’t make it out. I almost feel bad doing this to the Azuchi, but they’re going to be leading the Ariake as far as Mikawa.”
“That is kind of mean.” Christina smiled bitterly. “But this allows the Musashi to return to Kansai, doesn’t it?”
“Technically, it’s the Ariake doing it and only to M.H.R.R. Protestant territory. It’s all in the name of assisting a Protestant history recreation. …Of course, this will ‘just so happen’ to bring us within a stone’s throw of Kyou.”
“You have a plan for what to do then, don’t you?” asked Christina.
The Musashi Vice President’s eyebrows rose slightly at that. And…
“I’m glad to see you understand how this is going to work. The Ariake’s event itself ends on the 17th, the printing negotiations and negotiations with the Protestants end on the 25th, and the Ariake returns to Kantou on the 26th. But…”
Here it comes, thought Christina, so she went ahead and gave the answer herself.
“The Musashi will remain in Protestant territory after the 26th. My guess is you will claim to be negotiating for mercenary work related to the Thirty Years’ War.”
“The break will be ending soon, so if you are going to establish a mercenary contract and fight after the break, returning to Kantou would be a waste of time, especially when the break would be over by the time you got back anyway.”
Returning to Kantou would have been a valid option if they could predict the Honnouji Incident would be happening well after the break, such as in October. Then they could wait until after the break to arrive in Kansai for trade and to negotiate a mercenary contract with a European nation.
But Honnouji would probably be happening sooner. Christina expected it to happen within a week of the break ending.
Musashi needed supplies to function, so they would need to negotiate with the other nations. Taking that preparation into account, they would never arrive in time if they only got to work after the break ended.
They had to act now. And with that in mind…
“You planned this out well in advance.”
“Don’t get upset if my predictions don’t pan out.”
“I have recently learned that failed predictions can be enjoyable too.”
Meanwhile, Christina looked down to see Tadaoki and some other students constructing a stage on the dock below.
Christina watched as Tadaoki worked alongside some Musashi students. They looked to be middle school kids. This appeared to be a cooperative effort between the different schools, so a newcomer like Tadaoki could fit in just fine. But then…
A Weiss and Schwarz Hexen descended from the bow to some cheers from the girls.
The Schwarz Hexen waved appreciatively to the underclassmen and the Weiss Hexen…
“Here, this is yours.”
She placed a manga on Tadaoki’s head.
What could that be? wondered Christina as he grabbed it and flipped through it.
“What the-!? This is porn!”
“I said it was yours, didn’t I?”
The weirdly cheerful Weiss Hexen ascended again with the students calling out to her. The two Technohexen soon vanished into the air above Okutama.
Below, Christina saw Tadaoki roll up the manga and tuck it into the side of his workpants.
“What are you going to do about that? You have some questions, don’t you?”
The Musashi Vice President glared at her with her lips pursed, but she chose to ignore it.
“How am I supposed to ignore this!?”
Terumasa watched it all from the stern of his leading transport ship.
The Azuchi was following after him and the even bigger Ariake was following after it.
“Now it looks like I’m leading everyone…”
“Yeah,” sighed Terumasa.
…If the Azuchi is on its way to the Lake Biwa Azuchi, then it should turn north after passing through Mikawa.
Its path would split from the Ariake’s there. The Ariake itself would presumably continue along the coast to Osaka Bay and then turn toward M.H.R.R. Protestant territory, but…
“Yeah, this really bothers me.”
The Azuchi had ordered him to just watch, but he could tell they had all of their cannons turned aft.
…Talk about dangerous.
He knew that Takenaka, Hashiba’s staff officer, had the Urban Name of High Damage, High Return. The exciting stories he had heard about their attack on Hexagone Française told him the name was well deserved.
And at the moment, she was choosing not to act.
“Does that mean we’re in the high damage phase?”
Then she would not stop that damage. She would keep taking it until she could convert it into a high return.
…Which means the next battle is already starting.
Hashiba most likely viewed Musashi as their enemy. If they were going to take this high damage, they would definitely make sure they earned a high return next time.
“Musashi is in serious trouble if they let their guard down next time.”
“Testament,” he replied while viewing the eastern sky.
He could see the white Ariake past the black Azuchi.
They were traveling to Kansai with the enemy. But, he thought.
“Can the Musashi return to Kantou after this?”
“Okay, this is goodbye to Kantou for now.”
Mitotsudaira stretched a bit in front of the Main Blue Thunder.
The night sky on the Musashi was usually either dark blue or the white of the stealth barrier.
But for the first time in a while, it was replaced by the Ariake’s ceiling and lights. The lights were dimmed at night, but as a nonhuman, she found the lack of a true night interesting.
…It might be fun to invite my king and the others to go see the construction work.
“Anyway, there is a lot the Ariake handles for us now. So…”
“Testament. We’ve finally returned, haven’t we?” Horizon stepped forward and placed her hand on the Main Blue Thunder’s door. “Ooooooooopen!! Seeeeeeesameeeeeee!”
“Um, Horizon? Our divine protection lock scans our faces like normal, so you don’t have to do that.”
“And Sis and I are right behind you.”
Also true, thought Mitotsudaira, but then the door opened on its own.
Eh? she thought when she noticed no one on the other side.
“Ho ho.” Horizon nodded once. “So it opens at my command, does it? A well-made door indeed.”
Mitotsudaira decide to pretend she hadn’t seen Horizon’s right arm emerging from within and reattaching to her shoulder.
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