Horizon:Kimitoasamade 3B Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Winged Ones Standing Up
By the time I noticed it
It had a current
And was sweeping me away
Point Allocation (Others and Myself)
Inside the Blue Thunder, Masazumi saw Naito correct Zwei Fräulein’s names for P-01s and then begin placing an order.
After work, they were apparently going to inspect some instruments at the Asama Shrine and then discuss the Gagaku Festival.
…A festival, huh?
This would be Masazumi’s first time taking part in Musashi’s Spring School Festival and Gagaku Festival.
She was secretly looking forward to it and she turned toward Naito and Naruze who would be performing.
But while Naito was at the counter…
“Naruze, why are you outside?”
“Judge. You can’t tell? We’re about to head out for work, but my broom’s thruster is too big to fit inside the Blue Thunder.”
“Yeah, yours is custom made.” Naito smiled back toward her partner who was resting her head in her hand in the open window. “But you look cute like this too, Ga-chan.”
“I appreciate the ‘too’.”
This conversation made Masazumi reconsider their relationship. Everyone in their class accepted it as perfectly normal, but from the view of someone from the primarily Far Eastern Mikawa…
…A two-girl couple? It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?
M.H.R.R. supposedly had a way for two women to have a baby. Masazumi had no idea if that was true, but they would probably hear about it when the Musashi eventually made its way there.
…The differences between women and men have kind of lost all meaning, haven’t they?
When reproducing the Testament descriptions, they needed people who fit the parts, but interpretations were also used. The current trend was to mostly ignore gender altogether, but there was still a general idea that it was best if it matched.
That was the thinking that affected my body, thought Masazumi.
“What’s that look for, Masazumi?”
“Eh? Oh, uh, well.”
She was not about to mention what she was thinking about them or herself.
Besides, there was ample material for conversation. For example…
“About that commotion earlier. You all really like causing trouble, don’t you?”
Naruze’s eyebrows rose and Masazumi worried she had upset her, but then the Technohexen gave a snort of laughter.
“It’s not that we like causing trouble. Things just tend to get exciting around us. …Thanks to a certain subset of our class.”
…Exciting? Isn’t that even more dangerous?
Masazumi thought a bit about her complicated classmates.
But Naruze said nothing more about that topic.
That must have kept her from noticing Masazumi’s worries because she looked over to the counter where Naito and P-01s were confirming their order.
Naito held the Magie Figur that Naruze had tossed her earlier.
“And this is a chicken wing. They’re really good if you cover them with cornmeal and fry them.”
“Judge. So you want me to find a unicorn or octacorn somewhere, defeat it, and make a meal by frying its horn. I did not expect to be asked for an immortality dish…”
“Um, are you not familiar with corn? Also known as maize?”
Naito thought about P-01s’s question and finally…
“It’s a rod about 30cm long. Kind of like this handle, I guess? And everything but the part you hold is covered in yellow bumps.”
“So something like a fat-legged caterpillar?”
“Hmm, this is surprisingly hard to describe…”
It really is, thought Masazumi as Naruze drew something on a Magie Figur while peering in through the window.
“Are you drawing corn?”
“Eh? Oh, I’m drawing what Margot just described. But…” She frowned and wiped sweat from her brow. “Margot…I drew a picture of that and it looks just like a sex toy.”
Don’t say that. Don’t draw it either. And don’t use your image processing tools to give it a curve. Please stop searching the divine network for similar images.
The surrounding customers gave those two odd looks, but a comment of “Oh, it’s just the Technohexen” seemed to settle it. Is that a form of Technohexen persecution? No, I guess not.
Then Naito spotted something.
“Oh, you have cornbread.”
One of the breads lined up behind P-01s had corn kernels kneaded into it.
P-01s looked back.
“Um, the longish one with a lot of yellow kernels stuck to it.”
Again, don’t draw it.
But P-01s seemed to realize what she meant.
“Oh, that one the manager refers to as corm.”
“Is she an airhead?”
Naito looked to the back of the café and the manager must have provided some kind of reaction from the kitchen. Naito nodded a few times.
“Then use some of that corm-meal to fry us some chicken.”
“Judge. Would you like this bread as well?”
“No, no. We’re not here for the bread today.”
“I see.” P-01s looked back at the cornbread. “This is one of our top sellers, but the yellow things come out just as bright the following morning. So why do you all like it so much?”
All of the customers did a simultaneous spit take. And as they all choked or tried to catch their breath, Naruze spoke quietly.
“She really is indiscriminate.”
Naito gave Masazumi a look that said “I’m glad I didn’t buy any”, but that was just how it was.
“What is that bread called?”
“Gold Nugget Bread. What about it? …And yes, I assume that is referring to what happens the following morning.”
Naruze tapped Masazumi’s shoulder and held up a Magie Figur for her to see.
“Why did they hire someone so very challenging?”
It was finger-written, so Masazumi wrote a reply with her finger.
“To make things more exciting, probably.”
Masazumi realized this was her first time using her finger to write on anything like a sign frame since arriving on the Musashi.
It kind of made her happy.
But then Naruze spoke up while watching Naito order more food.
“Masazumi, you had to have known they were selling cornbread.”
“Well, it’s pretty expensive, so I never really noticed it.”
“It’s only 200 yen.”
“That’s two meals.”
The Weiss Hexen looked at her like she could not believe her ears, but what was that about?
Is she going to ask me about it? wondered Masazumi and Naruze did indeed ask.
“Why are you here?”
“They give me a good discount on bread that didn’t come out right or unsold bread from the previous night.”
“So you’re basically making deals at the back entrance?”
“I’m a student, so people seem to accept it as me trying to support myself.”
Not even she knew how to judge herself on this. But…
“Given who my father is, I have to keep up appearances to a degree.”
She just about nodded in agreement, but she resisted the urge.
Protecting her father’s name was only natural if she wanted to be a politician. So she stayed silent, but…
She did not know how to respond at times like this.
I can’t believe this, thought Masazumi.
Should I just smile? she wondered, but it was too late for that.
“I’ll make a doujinshi out of you.”
“What…!? And why are you acting like that’s a favor!?”
“What’s wrong with it?” Naruze gave her a disinterested look. “The others and I aren’t much better, but I’m fascinated by incomplete people. You never know how they’ll turn out.”
“Are you telling me to question how I should respond?”
“Your value will not be set in stone until you make a decision.”
“And afterwards, you get to decide everything other than that. …Including the things which have nothing to do with your old man.”
Masazumi thought about what that meant. And she knew what she had to say:
“So you’ll draw me no matter what I want, will you?”
“You give me different material each time, so you are a wonderful subject to use. You’re as good as Asama.”
I need to change the subject.
“…Asama is the same?”
I feel bad doing this to Asama, she thought, but she asked anyway.
She also thought it was disrespectful to view them as the same.
“Has Asama not decided what she wants either?”
“Asama has her family and public lives pretty well sorted out. They stand out a lot, but her private life is pretty shaky – maybe that’s why her breasts jiggle so much – and it’s interesting to watch.”
“Is that how it is?”
“That’s how I see it anyway. I don’t want to own my doujinshi subjects; I want to know more about them. That’s why I draw out different patterns in a trial and error attempt to learn more…and a lot of them fall into the error category.”
“Why do you do that?”
“Because I’m pretty bad at interpersonal relationships?”
…She’s aware of that!?
That may have been the biggest surprise of the day. But, suddenly thought Masazumi.
“Is it better to have made a decision about your private life?”
The Technohexen’s answer could be seen as dodging the issue or as an admission of her own ignorance. But she said more while resting her head in her hand at the window.
“I’d like to have some guarantees in my private life if I could. Like social status, organizational status, or income.”
“But it’s better to let the other things change?”
“Well, yeah. If nothing ever changed about your daily meals, your relaxation time, your fashion, or your short-term interests, wouldn’t life be boring? Not even a Technohexen always uses the optimal delivery route and we aren’t always looking directly ahead.”
Masazumi kind of understood what she was saying.
What was her father like in that regard?
He worked as a politician and, as far as she could tell, he had everything figured out in both his public and private lives.
If that was a prerequisite for being a politician, would she become what Naruze and the others saw as a boring person?
She was not sure.
Was her father a boring person in Naruze and the others’ eyes?
“Okay! Koni-tan, that adlibbed answer was borrrrring!!”
In the audiovisual room below the city hall, someone slammed a card down on a table.
Coins clattered on the table as if to oppose it.
“Wh-what!? It’s true no one here so much as tittered, but I still have plenty of money, Nobu-tan!”
“Huhhh!? Didn’t you know!? Someone who tells a lame joke is doomed to a life of being unfunny! After that, I am revoking your right to try a taste of my latest treasure: this stew left for me by Masazumi! You only have yourself to blame for not challenging me with money in the first place!”
Then the speaker drew a card.
“Now, let me state the next condition.”
“Nhh, what is it!?”
“Well.” The man looked at the card while sitting in the sofa with his legs crossed. “Sing the OP songs for every divine TV anime that began this spring.”
“I-including Alaskan Girl, the OP song for Ivan the Terrible’s Alaskan Vacation!?”
“Indeed. Judge, I can sing it!”
The man stood up and swung his arms with a serious look on his face.
“ ‘This Russian delicacy is colored salmon pink! Loved by the nobility! Loved by the serfs!’ Hurry up! If I finish singing it before you, then you lose, Koni-tan!!”
“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! How can you change your behavior at the drop of a hat like that!?”
My dad never changes at all, decided Masazumi.
But she did have a thought about what Naruze had said. Her father and the others like him would come up with strategies to preserve their interests and their politics, but…
Did they really never change?
It was true they did look after their own interests, but…
“Here’s what I think.”
She gave an interpretation of what she had just thought up.
When she viewed the idea of a politician through the lens of her father and the others, she found an ideal rather than an understanding.
“You said before that you wanted your status and income to be guaranteed and unchanging, right?”
“Judge. What about it?”
“Well.” Masazumi nodded and added a “judge”. Then she said, “Most likely, even people with public positions aren’t satisfied with their status and income.” She thought of her father and the others as she spoke. “The people like that see what they have as the bare minimum and they want to move ever higher if they can. So it isn’t unchanging. You might call that being greedy or a slave to political power, but I think they find that to be a lot of fun. It isn’t boring to them.”
“Yessss! I finished singing fiiiiiiiiiirst! You lose, Koni-taaaaaaaaaaaan! That’s three losses in a row! You hear that!? Three! Losses! In a! Row! Yes, the right arm, the right arm! And lean back! That’s it! Three! Losses! In a! Row! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! …Oh? Surely Musashi’s great merchant isn’t going to run away here, Koni-tan.”
“I-I accept your challenge! I accept your challenge, Nobu-tan!”
“Ohhhh? Do you have any chance of winniiiiing? You’re going to set a record with a fourth loss in a rowwww.”
That’s the ideal, thought Masazumi.
That’s the ideal as seen through my father and the others.
They were strict and her father in particular treated her like she was ignorant and even told her not to become a Musashi politician.
He seemed to think she was lacking and had given up on her.
But she had her own pride.
There was her body, but she had also spent around a dozen years preparing to be a politician.
…So I want to test myself.
Of course, she knew her father would see that as “only” a dozen years and that she was young enough to change course. But…
…The ideal, hm?
Her intent to become a politician had occasionally wavered after leaving Mikawa and coming to Musashi.
She had wondered if she could do it. But…
“Well, that’s the ideal…or maybe you could call it a hope. Even if it is a one-sided hope from someone who’s never experienced it for real.”
That was important.
Even if she sometimes doubted herself, she could continue to aim higher as long as she had that.
Am I taking my father’s side too much? she wondered as she considered her own words here.
But Naruze gave her a sidelong glance.
The Weiss Hexen laughed quietly through her nose, but it was not a derisive laugh.
And she simply said one thing.
“But if that’s all you have, you’ll only end up the same as your father.”
“I’m aware of that.”
Her father and the others only seemed to be pursuing their own interests, but there might be another side to them and they did dutifully carry out their role as politicians. So…
“I hope I can start with this ideal and then become my own kind of politician.”
“I see. …Sorry, then. I shouldn’t have made those assumptions about you.”
“You don’t need to apologize.”
“I’m disgusted by myself.”
With that, Naruze faced forward again.
“Margot, are you done yet?”
When she heard that, Naito smiled bitterly in her heart.
…Ga-chan’s pretty embarrassed.
When Naruze felt a certain kind of awkward embarrassment, she would always turn the topic toward Naito. Based on the bits and pieces of the conversation Naito had heard, Naruze seemed to have gone too far in a discussion about Masazumi.
Naruze had trouble with shared secrets like that. Or she just really did not like them.
So she would work to understand other people. Her doujinshi work was a part of that. She would also just go for a joke sometimes. No, she went for the joke more often once she was comfortable with someone. Like Asama-chi!
But she was still not comfortable with Masazumi who had only arrived a month and a bit ago.
So when her distance from someone else quickly shrank, she would look away, as if to provide a sense of distance. And Naito felt happiness rather than superiority in knowing that diverted gaze would turn toward her.
“Hmm, just a little longer.”
Once she told Naruze that, she heard a sigh behind her.
That was the end of it. There was no “hurry up” or “never mind then”.
It did seem a little too quick, but…
…She isn’t dependent on me. If anything, she’s leaning toward me.
Naito and Naruze were the same in that regard.
They were leaning.
They should have been standing straight, but due to their complex circumstances and what they lacked, they ended up leaning.
They were off balance.
But Naito thought that most people were like that.
Who was standing straight?
A name came to mind, but it belonged to a special case. There was no comparison there.
So she decided they were right to be leaning.
They were the slanted Zwei Fräulein. So when they grew unstable, the partner leaning toward them would act as a support, so they could reach out a hand and right themselves.
This was the same. When Naruze suddenly felt a lot closer to Masazumi, that weight increased her slant, so she reached out toward Naito.
She had been on the verge of falling over, so she supported herself and pushed herself back up to her usual position.
And when she did, Naito became aware of her own slant and used Naruze’s push to right herself as well.
They both leaned toward each other and they remained standing side by side.
That was why they were Zwei Fräulein.
…This is how it always is, isn’t it?
Naito nodded a few times in her heart. I lean on Ga-chan a lot, too.
It was mutual.
With that in mind, she placed another order. And…
“You have plum jam? I could probably make some improvised plum liquor with that, so add a jar of that. …And lastly, can I get some of this gratin? It can be harsh once it gets cold.”
“Judge. What would you like to drink?”
“No, no.” Naito held her broom up toward P-01s. “That would be too heavy.”
“I see. But the Blue Thunder does serve a portable powdered drink that uses ninja technology.”
Naito gave her an “I’m listening” look, so P-01s pulled a few glasses and water bottles out from below the counter. Then she pulled something like a chartula from the shelf behind her and held it up.
“Are you ready?”
Naito heard chairs moving behind her. Everyone was focused on them.
Everyone’s eyes were on the chartula that P-01s held. Naito knew that, but she could not shake the feeling that they were looking at her.
She felt a little nervous, but the automaton remained calm.
She did not hesitate to pour the contained powder into the glass.
There was a surprising amount of it.
“That’s a lot.”
“Judge. Research is still underway, but this seems to be the perfect amount.”
She then dumped water inside.
Instead of pouring it, she turned the bottle upside down so it fell forcefully into the glass.
“Ohh, how dynamic.”
“It eliminates the need to stir it. …There, that should do it.”
She now had a glass filled 80% of the way with a clear liquid.
Naito feared she would have to drink this, so she looked up at the automaton.
“Just a moment.”
P-01s prepared another set of the same thing and dumped water in this glass as well.
She now had two drinks prepared and they each grabbed one. P-01s lightly raised hers and clinked it against Naito’s.
They drank it.
…Margot just went along with it and drank it. I hope she’ll be all right.
Naruze looked in through the window to see how the two at the counter reacted.
They both drank the full glass.
Margot stopped a few times to check on something, but she soon started back up.
Once they had drained the glasses, they set them down. They thunked solidly against the wooden counter.
“Now, what do you think, Margot-sama?” asked P-01s. “This is Powdered Water. …Just add water and it becomes water.”
Naruze froze in place when she heard that.
After a while, Margot turned back toward the others and lowered her hands. And on the count of three, she raised them again.
“What’s the point of that!?”
That’s incredible, thought Masazumi.
She watched as P-01s bowed deeply toward everyone. She then raised her empty glass.
“It took a lot of work to create something this superb.”
“…Um, P-01s, can water even be powdered?”
“What are you talking about, Masazumi-sama? This is a product named Powdered Water, not water.”
“…Then what was that you dissolved in there just now?”
P-01s calmly nodded.
“That’s the same thing!”
P-01s answered her reflexive tsukkomi with a thumbs up.
“Margot,” said Naruze. “You should probably go throw up.”
“Hmm, Ga-chan, I feel like it’s too late for that to help, so how about we get to work for a change of pace?”
“You have a very positive outlook, Naito-sama.”
They were too incredible. At any rate, Naito had finished placing her order.
“I know you two have work to do, but what are you doing after that?”
“Judge. Hold a meeting at Asama’s place about the Gagaku Festival. I mean, ‘Musashi’ asked us to purify the mysterious phenomena, so we have to decide what to do about that,” explained Naruze. “But they’re probably busy, so…”
At that point, the door opened and someone walked in.
She had four gold wings. She wore a red Tres Españan track suit with a Far Eastern skirt of the same color.
Naruze spoke her name.
“Marine… What are you doing here?”
Naito confronted Marine in the Blue Thunder.
Masazumi sat by the window, P-01s stood behind the counter, and Naito sent some text to Naruze.
“This is going to be trouble if we get into a fight, Ga-chan.”
“I love how you don’t deny that.”
She nodded in agreement instead of sending more text and she slid one step to the left of the counter.
Marine was in the Blue Thunder, so she was probably a customer. They had their issues, but it would be best not to keep the woman from that.
And Marine moved up to the counter.
Marine must have decided to order something because she turned to face the counter.
And in that instant, P-01s spoke.
“You are a new face around here.”
“Eh? Oh, judge.”
“I have two things to tell you about: something awful and an unavoidable fate.”
…Is this a new version?
Naito glanced to the window where Masazumi was hiding her face with a hand and looking the other way. Naruze was her usual self: holding up a Magie Figur saying “keep going”.
But as Marine gave a puzzled look, P-01s placed a glass and a bottle on the counter. She poured a powder into the glass and dumped the bottle’s water in after it.
“All done. Please, have a drink.”
Marine clearly looked around at the others, so Naito wordlessly moved her left hand.
She stroked the rim of her glass on the counter to show Marine it was empty.
Either Marine decided that meant it was safe or she wanted to accept the challenge.
She lifted the glass in both hands and chugged it.
After gulping down about half of it, her eyebrows rose.
“Oh? This is really good water.”
She then started drinking the second half.
And P-01s nodded.
“It is supposed to be coffee.”
Marine spat it out.
Naito thought to herself while watching the four-winged descended angel choke.
…Was this café always so novel?
But P-01s spoke calmly to choking Marine.
“Then I will start with the awful thing.”
“Eh!? That wasn’t part of your routine?”
“Judge. You look like you would want one of the leftovers meals…no, one of the unsold You Damn Chicken meals from this morning, but they sold out just a bit ago. That is very unfortunate.”
“No, I wasn’t hoping for-…”
“You are a bird, yet you hate chicken?”
“No, I didn’t say I hate it…”
Ah, realized Naito.
…Going along with it is dangerous.
She wanted to warn the woman, but it was too late. P-01s nodded and calmly stared at Marine.
“Listen. If you like chicken, then why are you not devastated to find the morning leftov-…the You Little Chicken meals have sold out?”
The product name had changed a little, but pointing that out would only get Naito involved. She belatedly started pretending she was trying to choose some bread while she listened in on the conversation.
“Naito-sama and Naruze-sama were chowing down on chicken last night, but you seem to be different. You appear to hate it. Is that the case? The end.”
“Eh!? That’s it!?”
Hearing Marine’s exclamation, Naito looked over at Naruze who had written “avant-gard” on a Magie Figur. She misspelled it, so maybe she could stand to use a Hexagone Française battle setting for some of her doujinshis, she decided.
“Now for the unavoidable fate.”
“What might that be…?”
“I have just completed a leftov-…reduced price You Damn Pig meal.”
“And what is that…?”
“As you hate chicken, I concluded you must like pork.”
If you said anything, you lost. If you mentioned that beef, horse, and lamb existed, she would probably have that ready for you the next time you showed up.
“Um, I don’t really like pork all that much…”
“Then why are you even at this café?” P-01s’s eyes widened and she took a half step back. “Now, which will it be: chicken or pork?”
This assumption of only two options is kind of amazing, thought Naito.
But then something occurred to her.
“I thought you didn’t have any chicken left.”
“Oh, dear. I am so very careless.” P-01s placed a paper package in front of Marine. “Here is your You Damn Pig meal. That will be 350 yen.”
Naruze spoke up while watching Marine pay for the meal with her head and shoulders lowered.
“You really have to get the employees on your side at this café, Masazumi…”
“I think I have to agree, but I’m only now realizing how lucky I was…”
“In a way, you actually feel like you did something wrong, so it really is an incredible place.”
…If only the main one was always open.
That said, she did enjoy the lively atmosphere here.
Then Marine looked her way with meal in hand.
And she suddenly spoke.
“You seem to be preparing for a battle.”
This is a trick question, thought Naruze.
…She’s trying to see whether or not we’ve started our battle preparations yet.
The question was also meant to see if the preparations were for a battle against Marine.
But it was a trick. After all…
…She only said “preparing for a battle”.
It lacked a lot of information like who they had asked for help, when they would be done, and what they had asked to have done.
The vague question was meant to fit most any situation, so it was meant to draw out additional information from the people familiar with the situation.
So Naruze answered immediately.
“Don’t be silly. We’ve long since finished our preparations. You can challenge us at any time.”
“We can do it here and now if you want.”
That was pretty good, Ga-chan, thought Naito.
But they had never expected for Marine to show up here.
Marine had declared war just the day before.
It was a little much to ask about their preparations so soon afterwards.
…But it is true we’ve begun our preparations.
Their request to Naomasa would probably take about three days to complete.
The reinforcements to their brooms would make them heavier, but it would allow them to withstand rapid acceleration and braking.
And Marine was a high-speed type.
Strengthening their brooms’ acceleration would give them an advantage there.
But, thought Naito.
…I’m pretty sure that answer didn’t leave any openings.
“Ga-chan, that was well done.”
“I hope you’re right.”
Naruze’s answer had seemed to reveal their hand but actually dodged the issue.
After all, they couldn’t exactly fight inside the café even if their preparations were complete.
So she had added the “here and now” to leave it a mystery whether they really were prepared.
That was the point of it, so…
“The festival is coming up soon,” said Naito.
Once that began, there would be plenty of locations suitable for a battle.
“Let’s fight it out at an appropriate place during the festival.”
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