Horizon:Kimitoasamade 2A Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Measurer of Rank
Why do people
Have such a strange tendency
Point Allocation (Hiding What Lies Behind)
Someone looked up and measured the sound in the sky.
It was “Musashi”, who stood halfway across the bridge of Okutama’s academy. She was accompanied by…
“ ‘Okutama’, I have determined we are frustratingly strange things. Over.”
“Eh?” “Okutama”, an automaton with shoulder-length hair, looked back. “What is strange about automatons like us, ‘Musashi’-sama? Over.”
“Judge.” “Musashi” gave a small nod. “For example, the students in the courtyard down there are performing what is honestly fairly pointless training, getting knocked through the air in the process, and laughing like crazy people. And at what they call the summer school festival, they play loud music, shout a lot, dance a lot, eat a lot, and produce large quantities of trash. If only they would calm down a litt-… Oh, this might sound like I am complaining, but as an automaton, this is nothing as emotional as that. It is merely the ‘truth’. Keep that in mind, ‘Okutama’. What do you mean I always get like this when Sakai-sama isn’t around? Listen. On top of that, they are also wasting fuel flying around and around in the air at meaningless speeds while calling it a game or a race. And-… Oh, there’s another injury. Besides, they are fighting their own here. …Now, to get back to my point.”
“Musashi” expressionlessly looked around by turning her head at only the average human range of movement.
“Everything they do tends to be pointless, so why do we not simply conclude mankind is incomprehensible and view ourselves as superior? Over.”
“That would be because we are automatons.” “Okutama” followed “Musashi’s” gaze up into the sky as she spoke. “We cannot comprehend mankind because, before the gods ascended into the sky, the concept of automatons had settled into a general pattern and been explained within about ten years after its creation. That was built into the very ‘existence’ of automatons, so every automaton is destined to serve and support mankind on a level deeper than their OS. Meaning…”
“I can estimate that one of our distant ancestors determined that mankind is fundamentally incomprehensible and that it would take a lot of work to comprehend them, but since that would be a pain, it would be better to assist them, help them, and make sure they do not develop in a negative direction. Over.”
“I see. So we stand by their side rather than comprehend them. That differs greatly from my estimate: Our ancestors decided mankind was hopeless, but felt sorry for them and decided to support them. Over.”
“…‘Musashi’-sama, did something bad happen to you? Over.”
“Well.” “Musashi” moved her head. “You said automatons find mankind to be ‘fundamentally’ incomprehensible. Over.”
“Are you finding them more incomprehensible ‘in practice’? Over.”
“Judge. This example is one of the greatest things that an automaton in charge of a city like Musashi will find incomprehensible. And these are my thoughts on the matter…”
Just as she was going to continue, someone climbed the stairs. It was a black-haired girl holding a spear with a cover on it.
“Do you need something, Vice President Tadayo-sama? Over.”
“Oh, judge, judge. I wanted to thank you for the previous training and the tea. And what did you think while watching from up here? Do you think they’ll be any use?”
“Musashi” did not immediately answer that person.
First, she asked for confirmation about something.
“Do you think they will see actual combat? Over.”
“We always need to plan for actual combat. Right?”
“Musashi” listened to what Tadayo had to say and the girl continued.
“Yesterday it was a Non-God Sword that showed up. Battlefields are everywhere…they appear everywhere. We need to keep that in mind.”
Tadayo added another “right?”, but “Musashi” could not agree.
…She’s this way too?
“Musashi” did not need to ask the other automatons to do a search or provide their opinions. Tadayo had said enough herself.
…Yesterday it was a Non-God Sword that showed up.
On top of that, she had said battlefields were everywhere. That meant there would be battlefields other than the one with the Non-God Sword.
It was not an issue of possibility.
Tadayo had said they “are” everywhere.
“Do you think the Musashi will become a battlefield?”
“That’s a dangerous topic you’re discussing there, ‘Musashi’-san, Tadayo-kun.”
A voice reached them and “Musashi” knew who it was without needing to look back.
“Please stop doing an impression of Sakai-sama, Student Council President Torii-sama.”
Someone stepped up beside her. The girl then lifted “Musashi’s” skirt and slipped on inside it. “Musashi’s” self-preservation instincts as an automaton did not trigger a counterattack because this was an important officer, because this was based on Torii’s dancing technique and spells, and because it had happened several times already.
…I have determined that growing accustomed to these things is troublesome indeed.
Her skirt spoke.
“Tadayo, guess the color.”
“Musashi” took action. She grabbed and gently lifted her maid uniform’s side skirts. That parted the bottom of the skirt, revealing Torii below the tail portion of the skirt.
“Asakusa, Shinagawa, well done. Over.”
With those words, several straight lines fell from the sky and stabbed down on either side of the tail skirt.
They were blades. Tachi, katana, kusari-tachi, yoroidoshi, and other Far Eastern blades lined up on either side to form a cage with the tail skirt as the roof.
They had been fired by the ships’ launch catapults and Asakusa and Shinagawa had made course corrections with buffering spells.
They stabbed into the deck.
There were several solid sounds, but no fragments of the stairs scattered. They all stabbed straight in and Torii shouted from the center.
“Whoaaaaa!? Now that’s a new attack, ‘Musashi’-chan!”
“Musashi” knew what the girl would do next: she would cling to her butt. So…
“Musashino. Well done. Over.”
Something dropped down as if stabbing at the seam between the tail skirt and the back of the waist hard point parts.
Musashino: “Sorry, Musashino-sama. I didn’t have a good weapon handy. Over.”
A god of war had fallen from the sky.
With a roar, an empty mid-sized god of war fell onto the landing of the stairs up to the academy.
“Musashi” thought to herself as the wind and vibration reached her: I was right to immediately release the tail skirt.
After all, the tail skirt was covered by the right foot of the god of war that had fallen behind her with that foot placed half a step forward.
Even if she had not released it, she doubted she would have been pulled back and fallen, but it might have damaged the hard point parts or torn the tail skirt.
Even if it was due to someone else’s deficiency, she was the leader of Musashi’s automatons and yet she had lost part of her official equipment. She considered hiding it with her hands, but something else was more important at the moment.
“Torii-sama. What exactly do you think you are doing? Over.”
Torii’s face poked out from below Tadayo’s crotch in front of “Musashi”.
As soon as the god of war had fallen, the girl must have slipped out the back of the tail skirt and blade cage. Then she must have circled behind Tadayo and stuck her head between the other girl’s legs.
“Musashi” had to wonder when the girl had done all that, but she could always check her visual devices’ records to find out. A high-level musician of an entertainer god would be able to pull off movements that did not trigger her motion detection.
Just as “Musashi” decided to set that issue aside for now, Torii looked expressionlessly up at her from between Tadayo’s legs. Tadayo, unsurprisingly, was glaring down at Torii.
“Time for a skit.”
Torii turned to point her head upwards while between Tadayo’s legs.
“Birth of your first grandchild.”
“I see this is a breech birth. Over.”
“Okay, how about another one?”
Torii pulled her head back and created an A-shape by using both arms to form a horizontal bar between Tadayo’s knees.
“It’s that form of censorship you see a lot lately,” she said quietly.
“Musashi” heard a comment of “I see”, so she glared at “Okutama” as a standard expression of protest.
Tadayo then crossed her arms and sat down to crush Torii below her.
“Whoa!” shouted Torii. “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! Wait, my arms are caught, my arms are caught! And we’re on the stairs here, so my ribs are hitting the corner! Wait, ah hee hee hee hee hee! Ah, they’re rubbing against the corner! Kee hee hee hee hah!”
“Stop laughing like that, you overly sensitive girl. You always get in people’s personal space the second you get a chance.”
“Yeah, but while I somehow managed to grope Asaman’s, I couldn’t get through any of her defenses. She’s got such a strict barrier.”
“That shrine supports Musashi, so of course their defenses are top notch. You should be glad you weren’t repelled.”
As the two began speaking with one on top of the other, “Musashi” asked a question to get them back on topic.
“You two… Do you think the Musashi will become a battlefield? Over.”
One of them answered her question.
It was Tadayo.
“We aren’t the ones that want that to happen. I mean…” The girl shrugged as she continued. “The Musashi isn’t a place of war. If it does become a battlefield, it will have to be an outside force that causes it.”
“You mean a mysterious phenomenon or another nation will start a battle? Over.”
“Yes.” Tadayo nodded. “The mysterious phenomena will definitely happen and we’ve already fought small-scale battles against them or hunted them down. But the other nations are something that our generation can’t really know for sure. That’s partially because we’ve made a point of compromising to get along with the other nations. Even the Provisional Council has been really quiet this year,” she said. “But there have been sparks during our generation that could lead to war and we of course are doing our best to extinguish them. But…”
“Judge. …Once we’ve graduated, all we can do is leave everything to the next generation. That’s all there is to it.”
“Musashi” felt something did not fit together there.
The third-year Student Council officers were predicting war.
…And the students of Class 2-Plum…
They were predicting combat and they were working together or complementing each other.
Had the other classes or the general population been doing similar things? Had “Musashi” simply overlooked it? But…
…It really does not fit together.
It would be easy to simply conclude that the Student Council and Class 2-Plum were working together toward some kind of goal since they were both acting based on a prediction of war or combat.
But Tadayo was saying she wanted their generation to remain obedient and that they would leave everything to the next generation. And in “Musashi’s” memories, the students of Class 2-Plum had never extended their cooperative work or complementation of each other to the Student Council or Chancellor’s Officers.
It looked like they both had their own separate plans and both of those led them to predict the Musashi would become a battlefield and that they would see combat.
“Ohhhh! That was so cool, ‘Musashi’! What was that!? D-did you do it like this? Like this?”
“No. Like this: —————— Torii-sama, move your head a little more up and to the right. Yes, and then: —————— Very good. This is one pattern for expressing your intent to put off making a decision. Over.”
“Judge, judge,” said Tadayo as she waved a hand and averted her gaze.
She then got up and took a step back. But she did not stop on the landing.
She spun around.
She bent backwards and performed a flip with one leg swinging high into the sky. In the blank space created by the descending stairs, she had the clearance needed for her head as she rotated her body around her head.
“Musashi” could tell that was pure martial arts without the use of any spells. The girl could only pull that off after training her body and obtaining an athletic foundation.
She kept her body straight without twisting it, and she performed the action as lightly as taking a large step backwards.
When she landed on the stairs below, Tadayo grabbed Torii’s legs. She lifted those legs up like a wheelbarrow, and…
“We’ll be going.”
“Tadayo-sama, about your initial question…”
After walking a few steps down, Tadayo looked up and faced “Musashi” with her eyebrows slightly raised in a smile.
“I asked if they would be any use, right?”
“Then don’t worry about it. You’ve seen others out there doing the same things we are, haven’t you? I only vaguely know who they are, but as long as you know there are others like that, we’ll be fine.”
Tadayo nodded as she spoke.
“We can leave things to them when we graduate.”
Tadayo turned around the other way and spoke as she dragged Torii away.
“C’mon, idiot. Let’s stop by Suga’s place. He’ll probably be working right now.”
“We’d just get in his way- oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!!”
Tadayo did not turn back toward Torii who walked down the steps on her hands. Finally, Torii arched her back and bounced a ball on her head after grabbing it from somewhere.
“Why do you insist on playing these weird games?”
Tadayo wrinkled her brow as Torii began clapping her hands as well.
“Are we or aren’t we going to go get in Suga’s way?” asked Tadayo.
“Oh, we’ll definitely be doing that. But, y’know, we probably shouldn’t go get in Nabe’s way.”
“You sure are considerate.”
“Yeah, Suga and Nabe are both going to leave the ship after we graduate.”
“Yes, yes.” Tadayo smiled bitterly and looked back toward Torii. “Is something coming?”
“Oh, yeah. Judge. When you get to the higher ranks, you earn the right to act as a defender of Musashi, so I can kind of tell. It’s probably way stronger for Asaman,” explained Torii while catching the ball on her forehead. “I think it’s coming in more clearly since everything’s so clean outside. So how about we stop by Suga’s place and get ready?”
“That’s going to end up being my job, isn’t it?”
“Right, right,” said Torii as she suddenly arched her back again. “Oh, I forgot to ask ‘Musashi’ something. That girl’s probably already here from Aki, so ‘Musashi’ might’ve told me where she is if I’d asked.”
“You can’t do that unless you have a really good reason. And besides…”
A rumbling passed through the sky. The delivery workers were gathering together after getting several decent records in a row.
“Honestly…” Tadayo looked up toward the sound of the wind in the sky. “Internal conflict, external conflict, current conflict, and future conflict. There’s just too much to deal with it all.”
Mitotsudaira looked to the black-haired shrine maiden soaking in the bathwater to her right.
Without even looking to her surroundings, Asama was viewing a sign frame that Hanami had opened.
To Mitotsudaira’s left, Kimi almost nonchalantly spoke up while having fun letting Uzy swim through Mitotsudaira’s submerged rolls of hair.
“Is it yesterday’s Non-God Sword?”
“Not quite. If anything, it’s a Non-Dragon Sword.”
Adele and the two Technohexen frowned as Asama began operating the sign frame.
“Its spirituality is high and it’s already passed the manifestation point, so I doubt it will pass through the barrier the shrine placed around the Musashi. My dad has already temporarily sealed the trade entrances and exits and the trade-… Actually, the merchants are showing no sign of stopping and they’re sending out hub ships to keep trading. We’re strengthening the anti-spirit side of Musashi’s defense barrier, so we’ll be safe inside the stealth barrier.”
“You sound like there’s a ‘but’ coming.”
After Mitotsudaira’s comment, the Cerberus barked atop her head.
…Is it feeling the change outside?
With the Musashi’s defense barrier provided by the Asama Shrine, no mysterious phenomenon outside could influence anything inside. The dangerous current of ether would be shut out, so if the Cerberus was still reacting…
“Is it related to the ether and ley line stagnation from yesterday?”
“I’m not sure what to say in this situation.”
Asama glanced over at Mitotsudaira, so Mitotsudaira also looked around. She saw Kimi smiling and the Technohexen and Adele nodding with eyebrows raised.
The dancer spoke while still letting her Mouse swim in the bathwater.
“No one here will complain if you say something that turns out inaccurate.”
“Then.” Asama nodded. “A Non-Dragon Sword is a mid-level mysterious phenomenon that comes from the ley lines. Normally, it would be best to assume a different stagnation became the Non-Dragon Sword and it’s come to consume the lingering remnants of yesterday’s Non-God Sword…but the ether readings suggest otherwise.”
“Is there no stagnation, just like with my Cerberus?”
“A ‘Non-type’ with no stagnation at its foundation is rare enough on its own. Most likely, the dragon was born from a ‘mold’ produced near the Kojima Peninsula, just like yesterday’s Non-God Sword. But…”
“It seems to be flying while being very cautious of the surrounding airspace. It sometimes reacts to empty space and attacks.”
Mitotsudaira asked a question on reflex.
“If there is no stagnation at its foundation, can it be tamed like my Cerberus?”
Mitotsudaira saw Asama turn her way.
She looked directly at her.
“The difference between it and that Cerberus is – I think – the nature of a dragon and the amount of consumed ether.”
Sensing the caution in Asama’s wording, Mitotsudaira felt her shoulders grow tense. Was she growing aggressive? Just as she prepared to apologize, Kimi suddenly cut in.
“Are you sure you don’t have a tail here to lift in anger?”
She did not even have time to think “eh?” before a hand slid down along the line of her tailbone above her butt.
She lifted her hips forward and stood up to escape. This launched the Cerberus from her head, so she caught it in midair. Then she turned back toward Kimi, but the girl had already stood up.
“Asama? You’ve already contacted the Chancellor’s Officers, Student Council, and guards, haven’t you?”
“I have. But…something is bothering me a little. It’s about Mito’s Cerberus…”
Mitotsudaira knew what Asama wanted to say. It was the answer to a question Mitotsudaira had asked earlier.
“Just like my Cerberus, that Non-Dragon Sword has the nature of the local gods, doesn’t it? That would explain why such rare beings can appear in such quick succession.”
“We still don’t know if the local gods are involved in this. With the Cerberus and Non-Dragon Sword, it’s still just two, so it’s still within the range of what we can call a coincidence.”
“Then,” said Kimi while lifting the corners of her mouth. “What are the Chancellor’s Officers, the harbor guards, the knights, and the vassals doing?”
“The Chancellor’s Officers are thinking of heading out to intercept it, but they’re still negotiating with K.P.A. Italia over the conditions and possibility of doing so. The harbor guards are working with the shrine to strengthen the important points of the barrier. As for the Knight League and the Vassal League…”
They had already contacted Mitotsudaira, so she opened a sign frame.
“The lords with territory on the starboard side are defending their respective regions.”
“Mito, your territory is…”
“Judge. Mine is on Tama and Murayama. But it is on the inside, so I will not be called on this time. If I am going to fight, it would have to be as part of the Chancellor’s Officers.”
“Hmm.” Adele twisted her mouth sideways and looked at her Catholic sign frame. “The vassals under the command of those knights with starboard territory are to head out, but the rest of us are to wait for instructions from the Chancellor’s Officers. For now, it looks like I won’t be called on either.”
“Yeah, and neither will we.”
Naito brushed up her hair. She pointed her speedometer-style Magie Figur their way to show the notification from Geheimnis Shabbat.
“The delivery workers are to wait and see like usual. It says they’re still playing games.”
“Not surprising. There are some former aces from other nations in there.”
But that was a problem.
…We can’t head out to the scene.
Mitotsudaira of course understood that doing nothing was best when they had Musashi’s defenses. Even if it was a manifested mysterious phenomenon…
“Does a Non-Dragon Sword eat into its surroundings?”
“Only a little, but yes. That said, the barrier won’t be broken and its nature as a dragon will overpower its self-preservation instincts, so it will use more ether than it takes in and ultimately vanish. Plus, the Non-God Sword could eat into the surrounding space more easily with the theatre ship to stand on, but the Non-Dragon Sword is an aerial creature and it has nothing to stand on. It will use up a lot of ether just by floating there, so…”
Asama seemed to realize something, so she stopped speaking and hung her head.
Kimi spoke up next to her.
“No one thinks you’re an ether and mysterious phenomenon nerd, so keep going.
“No, um, how should I put it…?”
Asama inhaled and brushed her bangs up off her face.
“As long as we have the Musashi’s defenses, we will not take any damage. And after yesterday’s incident, the theatre ship was given similar protection and sheltered, so leaving this one alone would be best.”
“If we can just leave it alone and wait for it to disappear…it does raise the question of why the local gods would do this.”
“So, Asama-chi, your motivation is that we might be able to figure out what’s causing these mysterious phenomena if we head out and investigate?”
“In that case,” said Kimi while crossing her arms below her breasts like normal. “We just have to head out there and take a look at this dragon that’s going on a bit of a rampage. We can ask it why they’re showing up near the Musashi. If we’re being overly self-conscious, then there’s nothing to worry about. And if not, we can hear the reason and we’re done. Asama, can you have us sent out as representatives of the Asama Shrine in the name of investigating the mysterious phenomenon?”
“I’m making the request now. It is recommended we leave the thing alone, so I’m adding on the conditions that we stay out there for a limited time and that we do not fight it. That will avoid stimulating it further, but…”
“Heh heh. What will you do?”
Asama responded to Kimi’s question by raising her eyebrows.
She slowly stood from the bath and let the bathwater drip from her.
“A reinforced ship is being sent out for the external buffering of the stealth barrier, so I think we can use that. If the local gods are behind this, we should learn why they want to take physical form like this. Also…”
Asama looked to Mitotsudaira while smiling with her eyebrows somewhat lowered.
“Sorry, Mito. You won’t be able to work as a shrine maiden today…”
“What are you talking about? Won’t investigating the Non-Dragon Sword count as shrine maiden work?”
“Eh?” said Asama with a look of light surprise and slight joy.
Mitotsudaira said more while looking to Kimi, Adele, and the Technohexen.
“And of course, none of us is cowardly enough to disagree, right?”
…Should I say that she escaped?
With that thought, “Musashi” looked away from the two girls descending the stairs. She then leaned against the stairway’s left railing and pressed her butt against it.
“Okutama” looked her way and asked a question.
“Are you embarrassed that people can see your butt, ‘Musashi’-sama? Over.”
“Musashi” looked to her tail skirt underneath the empty god of war’s foot.
“I have determined the failure of the equipment given to me is damaging to my dignity as general captain. I have asked the engine division to remove the god of war, so you head to the starboard port, ‘Okutama’. Over.”
“What? The starboard port?”
As “Okutama” looked “Musashi’s” way, she corrected her expression.
“Judge. The external investigation. As a request from the Asama Shrine, I have determined it would help solve later problems concerning our proximity to Aki if a captain level automaton accompanies them. Over.”
“Based on their location data, the requester is still belowground in Okutama. I have determined she is purifying the bathhouse. Until she is ready, work to convert the ship’s deck into an investigation ship. Over.”
“Judge. I agree that would be safest as it would show K.P.A. Italia and the other coastal nations that we do not intend to attack them or do anything other than perform an investigation. I will be going. Over.”
“Okutama” bowed and ran down the stairs. She opened several sign frames along the way to have the ship prepared for launch.
“Musashi” sighed as she watched the other automaton leave. She considered making a few arrangements herself, and…
…The Chancellor’s Officers have also noticed the external ley line and the stagnation occurring there.
If the Asama Shrine had noticed, the information would have been shared with most of those who had high-level contracts. Torii had a high-level Ootsubaki-style contract, so she had to have noticed. The Asama Shrine had also informed “Musashi” and the Public Morals Committee that led the guards, so word had been passed down to the ship captains and guard stations. In that case…
“I have determined caution would be advised.”
“Musashi” added a “but” as she opened a sign frame, displayed a map of the Musashi, and viewed the rectangular route being drawn on it.
“This is the route for Asama-sama’s date course. …It has grown highly irregular, which is somewhat worrying. Over.”
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