Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter22
Chapter 22: Unconcerned Colleagues
Of an era alike?
Of an era bygone?
Of an error it sprang?
Point Allocation (Adult)
A girl swiftly walked down the long hallway, lit up by rays of sunshine.
Her black hair waved in the air as she walked, and she was dressed in a black and white uniform. The girl wore a nametag on which the name “Asama” was written, and the corridor she walked was lined with the doorplates of different classes. The corridor lay on the second floor of the outer building in Musashi Ariadust Academy.
“It’s quite a bit before eight, I guess no one would be here…”
As she walked, Asama stared at the door at the end of the corridor with her bichromatic eyes. It was the door to her class, the third year Plum Class.
…The state of emergency in Musashi has finally lifted, but…what should I do?
There were quite a lot of things to do last night, so I ended up going to bed in the morning.
There wasn’t a big uproar or anything. After all, the Provisional Council started their deliberations once it was confirmed that Mikawa had been destroyed. And because of that all citizens were instructed by security squads to stay in their houses.
However, the Asama shrine – Asama’s home – confirmed their status as a proxy for the Mikawa shrine which had disappeared. Due to this and a request from the security squads, there was a need to prepare for the Phenomena that would result from disharmony in the Ether.
…Well, I had already steeled myself to some degree since I was on night watch for the shrine last night.
The atmosphere was tense; and if the situation continued to be a mass of unknowns, some form of mental stress was to be expected.
But as a result of Musashi being divided into separate ships and the night watch closing the gates between the ships, nobody went back and forth between the ships even if news and information did. The only incidents that occurred were responses against people who left their houses against all instructions.
Due to the load on the divine communication channels, Mice of different kinds could be seen scurrying about the roads or flying through the skies. It was surprising to have a small shadow suddenly flit past; and I handled three cases of Mice getting lost and being brought to me in tears by the security squads.
And I heard that during the meeting between the Provisional Council and the representative of the Testament Union, it had been decided that Horizon would be dismantled and Musashi would be handed over. All this had happened before the state of emergency in Musashi had been lifted.
Despite this, there was no big response in Musashi. More accurately…
“We couldn’t do anything even if we wanted to…”
Musashi belonged to the Lord of Mikawa, Lord Motonobu. That same Lord Motonobu had engineered the destruction of Mikawa. Also, Musashi itself is devoid of any weapons. Well, there’s the anti-artillery gravity shields, which make use of gravity control fields normally used against strong winds; but those are only good for local protection. It would be extremely difficult to appropriate them for offensive purposes.
…We have nothing that we can rely upon and use to act, to do something…
Added to this, Tres España, the biggest military, and K.P.A. Italia, the head of the Catholic Church and the Testament Union, are in our vicinity. If we act out of turn in a situation like this, Musashi’s very existence would be called into question.
And hammering in the point, K.P.A. Italia’s broadcast personnel are broadcasting videos of Mikawa’s destruction and the state of the affected areas: videos of the ruins of the annihilated Mikawa, the towns that tumbled into fissures, and the crowds of people evacuating from the unaffected outskirts. Images and interviews with wounded soldiers also being broadcast; this all serves to emphasize the seriousness of the situation.
As I was coming to the Academy, I would occasionally see crimson Ether lights rising into the sky above Mikawa. Most likely a disturbed Ley Line forcing the clots within itself out into a medium with less resistance: the sky.
In a situation like this, people aren’t whispering resistance against the decision of the Provisional Council.
…They’re saying, “What else can we do?”
The Provisional Council has decided to use the transport ships that had brought commodities in and out of the residential area as a temporary refuge for the evacuating citizens of Mikawa. The arrangement was to link them up with Musashi and provide life-support spell charms.
That’s why I could see a bunch of transport ships headed to the Mikawa outskirts as I was coming here. But the amount of actual citizens in the towns are few; more common is the sight of security squads. A view rarely seen. It’s situations like this that cause impurities, making it easier for Phenomena to occur.
Asama stopped in front of the classroom. Taking a hand mirror from her sleeve, she examined her face and hair.
I may have gone to bed in the morning, but I guaranteed myself six hours of sleep with a charm of compressed slumber.
…Even then I slept through the morning’s purification ceremony, only to be awoken by Hanami…
I guess using the IZUMO-made DMT water-heater “Hot-water ATARISHOCK” on the shrine’s spring was a bad idea. Dad just likes new stuff way too much. He said that at the Kyuushuu shrine, the grass creatures who inhabit Africa would take away our fatigue; but is that really the right way to go about things? Or maybe I just like animals too much?”
“Well, that’s that.”
What should I do? Dad’s handling communications with other shrines, especially the ones in the other countries. There’ve even been rules laid down for posts regarding Musashi on the IZUMO and Shirasago Industry sponsored divine communication channel/community site for shrines. My only role is to periodically update with current information, I don’t have to handle the deluge of questions from the outside. If those rules were taken away things would get loud pretty quickly, but even that’s better than what’s happening now.
Everyone’s probably in the same boat.
…What do I do?
Putting away the mirror, she brought her hand to touch the door. I’m the first one. I guess that’s unsettling? Asama thought.
But when everyone comes and sees that I’m here before them, they’ll probably feel a little bit more secure. So…
She opened the door, revealing…
The classroom was lit up by thin strands of sunlight slanting in from the windows. Toori was slumped over on the window seat of the row furthest back.
His torso was spread out over the desk in front of him, and he lay completely still.
Asama, shocked, took a step into the classroom; but a voice stopped her.
“He got quite a scolding at the nighthouse. The rest of us were sent home early, but Toori-kun was left here.”
Recognizing Neshinbara’s voice, Asama turned around.
Starting with Neshinbara, there were several figures already in the classroom.
Neshinbara stopped, his fingers that had previously been dancing across the sign frame before him falling still. He turned to face Asama. His eyes, visible through his glasses, were obviously suffering from lack of sleep. Despite this, they shined with resolve as he stared at her.
“Welcome to the meeting place of the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers – minus their authority. Everyone else will be along shortly.”
His voice, though quiet, rang through the classroom.
“Principal Sakai is being debriefed in the checkpoint below and will be unable to attend, but there’s lots to decide before he comes back. Specifically, what we wish to do regarding the fates of Horizon Ariadust and Musashi.”
In the mountains, at the midpoint of a valley, there lies a building with a large wooden terrace.
“Mikawa Mountaintop Eastern Checkpoint” was written on the doorplate to this checkpoint, which connected Musashi to Mikawa.
There were at the moment several cargo vehicles parked in the clearing used to manage the exchange of goods between the ship and the city.
This in itself would not be strange; but they remained there, with no indication that they were moving goods or cargo at all. There was nothing being brought out from the checkpoint’s transport warehouse. The owners of the goods were mingling with the people nearby, sitting on the floor and lost in conversation or playing strategy games with their mobile messengers.
All they did was respond to the occasional calls from the management office, walking over when they were called.
There were two people gazing down at the relaxed motions of the crowd from the terrace above.
Sakai and the automaton “Musashi”.
Sakai was reclining on the chair that accompanied a table fixed with a parasol in the old Japanese style. He was drinking tea served by “Musashi” who was standing at his side.
“ ‘Musashi’-san, I’m…totally under house arrest, aren’t I?”
“Judge. I believe this because you wandered around last night saying ‘I’ll go back once I’ve had something to drink.’ Because of this, you were unable to return to me before the state of emergency was declared and were taken into custody by K.P.A. Italia here. Over.”
“Weellll…” said Sakai, holding his teacup out to “Musashi”.
“It would’ve been easy for me to run away; but I couldnt’ve just left the people in the outskirts like that, could I? There were lots of people there who knew me, and it took quite a lot of time to evacuate them onto the mountain.”
“Musashi” stared at the teacup offered to her by Sakai, but she showed no sign of filling it. Puzzled, Sakai looked at her.
“Are you angry? C’mon, I just came here to meet an old friend and I had nothing to do with what happened here. And during my debriefing they even used spells to confirm that I was telling the truth. Well, that means that…I didn’t do anything wrong, right?”
“Musashi” glanced up at the sky. Lowering her gaze again, she turned to the right and raised her right hand. Conjuring a sign frame of a simple Torii-design before her eyes, she switched the screen to a list of entries.
“ ‘Didn’t do anything wrong?’ Sakai-sama’s residence is on the surface of Okutama, and all cleaning, laundry, cooking and errands are left to the captain of Okutama, ‘Okutama’. Your clothes are left lying everywhere, your books are left lying everywhere, you extort from ‘Okutama’, ‘screw Greenpeace, I’m leaving the light in the bathroom on,’ the middle toenail of your right foot is ingrown – you are the worst. And it seems that you force ‘Okutama’ to do most of your paperwork. Sakai-sama, do you know the meaning of the word ‘adult’? Over.”
“But Tama-chan is so capable~.”
“Judge. Because ‘Okutama’ is also the caretaker of Ariadust Academy, her management ability is particularly high. Despite this, I am often forced to act when Sakai-sama’s unreasonable demands cause problems with ‘Okutama’s’ operation of her ship. A few days ago, you forced her to watch your special black-plated set of the superhero series ‘Southern Dynasty Cult MASASHIGE’ in your place because you wanted to get them out of the way, and I watched it as well through shared memory; but it seemed that from the middle of the season onwards it was just development after development of the hero doing fine and then being weighed down by his companions, which was extremely disappointing. Over.”
“There’s the new series ‘Blood-vessels Bursting Resolution TOKYO’, but I feel like I’ll be killed if I make her watch that…”
“No, automatons serve humans, so we do not kill them. We just take other measures. Over.”
Sakai nodded hurriedly.
“I really wish I could let you meet Kazuno down in Mikawa. It feels like all management automatons are so uptight about things.”
“It is required for management automatons to be fair regarding issues with fellow automatons, so systems that process temporary emotions are separated from the systems that handle speech and behavior. Over.”
“…Oh? If they aren’t connected then that means that you act completely separately from your emotions?”
Hearing this, “Musashi” looked at Sakai, expressionless.
“I am different from the majority, but yes. Was there something bothering you? Over.”
“Yeah, so basically what you’re saying is that the secret that you hide away actually has a high opinion of me?”
Having been asked this, “Musashi” nodded twice at Sakai before looking to the sky.
She opened up a new sign frame, inputting several commands.
“I am very sorry. Though I am currently operating in my official capacity, I have complained to several of my kin. Approximately 112GB of information was delivered in the space of a second, low in terms of data, so rest assured. Over.”
“Eh, but knowing that, how do I close the distance between us?”
Ignoring Sakai’s question, “Musashi” looked toward the southern sky. Occasionally, red lights would erupt from beyond the mountains, shooting up into the sky. They were not as glaring as the sunlight, but…
“Ley Line lights, huh.”
“Musashi” gave her knowledge on the light they could see.
“The destruction of the crust has severed the Ley Line path, but the ocean is flowing in and restoring the path. I predict the Ley Line disturbance will produce monsters, strange phenomena, and mutated aquatic life forms over the next few years; but it should become an excellent fishing site if the Ley Line tuning is continued. Over.”
“Given the state of the world, it’s hard to say when the tuning would even begin. …How were things for you last night?”
“Musashi” nodded and looked away from Mikawa. She checked to make sure the table set’s paper umbrella would open, raised the latch, and angled it toward the sun.
“Last night when Mikawa was destroyed, a large amount of noise arrived through the Ley Line. We had predicted this, so we avoided it by shutting off the external ether supply; but…” “Musashi” thought for a moment. “To refer to it in a human manner, I suppose I should say it ‘peeled away the flesh’. The Ley Line path is primarily underground, so it created tremendous noise through the mountain. Over.”
“Ley Line noise is tough for automatons, isn’t it?”
“Judge. A lot is difficult for automatons. And, Sakai-sama, now that you mention automatons…” She turned only her gaze toward Sakai and suddenly spoke. “It makes me want to ask about Horizon-sama. Over.”
“You like suddenly bringing up topics I’ve been avoiding, don’t you?”
“Judge. By means of succession she is our owner, after all. …Of course, if she commits suicide our ownership will transfer to the Testament Union. Over.”
“What would happen then? Would you stop being ‘Musashi’-san and become ‘Mikawa’-san?”
“If I am transferred there, I must obey. The fewer than one hundred thousand citizens of Musashi will be moved to the Edo Matsudaira territory. I believe you were once in control of the Edo territory.”
“That was before I came here. The Edo territory isn’t maintained at all, though. I had no motivation, so I would just go see the ruins in the mountains and have fun. It would be a pain to move there now.”
“Musashi” then sighed as a means of expression. She even voiced the “hahh”.
“Do you not want to rescue Horizon-sama? Over.”
Sakai heavily rested his chin on his hand and groaned.
“I’m the man who wasn’t able to stop Lord Nobuyasu’s suicide, you know? And I’m not a student, so I have no authority to act.”
“Judge. I am aware of that. But I was not asking whether you were thinking about stopping it. I have a general idea of how you have led the students. Over.”
“A ‘general’ idea, hm?” said Sakai. “Then what is your ‘general’ estimation of what they’ll do now?”
Just as “Musashi” was about to answer, the door to the terrace opened and a single figure entered.
The figure was an automatic doll in a maid uniform. She had short hair and gave a bow.
“ ‘Shinagawa’ has arrived. Sakai-sama, I have checked over your records and completed your bail procedure. ‘Musashi’-sama, I have completed the work on your various deeds. Over.”
Sakai raised his head to look at “Shinagawa” who was awaiting further orders. For an instant, he met “Musashi’s” gaze and they exchanged a nod to indicate their previous conversation was over.
“ ‘Shinagawa’, are you saying we can go home?”
“Shinagawa” nodded, Sakai let out a whistle, and “Shinagawa” began to speak once more.
“The Testament Union’s automatons and ‘Asakusa’ are currently running a comparison on the incoming cargo inspection the Testament Union had run yesterday. I have determined that will be completed by midday. It is fortunate we invited Azuma-sama aboard the other night. In preparation for his arrival, the Testament Union had performed a safety check over our cargo and the inside of the ship at our previous port. That allows us to quickly prove that we had no way of participating in this event. Over.”
“Occasionally, the Testament Union actually proves useful. …Anyway, ‘Shinagawa’, what about the people I had evacuated last night?”
“Judge.” “Shinagawa” nodded and turned toward the foot of the mountain. “The interiors to the support transport ships traveling with Musashi were used to create residences. A temporary city has been formed. The ships contained a reserve package for creating residences, so we used everything but what the ships actually need. All 1111 evacuees have been accommodated. Over.”
“Shinagawa” stopped speaking there. “Musashi” also said nothing.
Instead of speaking, the two of them stared at Sakai.
With both their gazes on him, he looked back and forth between them and finally spoke.
“Oh, well done, ‘Shinagawa’. Thanks.”
“Judge. Thank you very much, Sakai-sama.”
“Judge. Well done catching on, Sakai-sama.”
“…Why is one of you treating me much more warmly than the other?”
Sakai stretched a bit and looked down into the plaza below the terrace.
“Then let’s get back. You two have work to deal with and I want to get some sleep in my-…”
He was unable to finish his sentence.
A sudden voice came from next to “Shinagawa” by the door to the terrace.
“Are you leaving already? I was hoping to greet you.”
It was a low and reverberating voice. “Shinagawa” turned around in shock.
“Indeed,” said the red-bodied man who was over three meters tall. The horns on his head swayed as he spoke. “I am Galileo of Heliocentrism, former president of K.P.A. Italia’s Padova Academy.”
But his words were not the end of it.
Another voice arrived on top of the demon’s. This new voice was also low.
“This king of heresy is not the only one here.”
A white cloak appeared from behind Galileo.
Sakai spoke the name of the man with disheveled black hair.
“It’s been a while, Sakai Tadatsugu.”
As he spoke, Innocentius’ mouth formed a smile. His teeth were visible, but his eyebrows were raised.
“This time, I have the higher position. How about that, hm?”
Five figures faced each other below the blue sky and above the wooden terrace.
They were ten meters apart. One side was made up of Sakai standing before two automatic dolls and the other side was made up of the tall demon and Papa-Schola Innocentius.
Innocentius spoke with both his hands in his pockets.
“This king of heresy said he wanted to go check on the situation in Mikawa. I’m glad I came along. I never thought you would be stuck here. Your bodyguards are down below, so how about we have a bit of a reunion, hm?”
As he spoke and showed off his teeth, “Musashi” tapped Sakai’s shoulder.
Sakai turned toward her and she nodded.
“Hurry up and apologize. Over.”
“Wait just a minute. I can’t exactly say judge to that. At least ask for the reason first.”
Hearing that, Innocentius gave a bitter laugh.
“Back when he was chancellor, he made a fool of K.P.A. Italia.”
“Musashi” tapped Sakai’s shoulder once more, but Sakai brushed off her hand and ignored her.
Instead, he sighed and spoke.
“Pope, how many years have you been chancellor now? How about you forget about some of those older things?”
“Sakai-sama, the captains other than ‘Musashi’ were added to Musashi during the great remodeling ten years ago, so we do not know what happened before that. …What did you do to them? Over.”
Before answering “Shinagawa’s” question, Sakai stared at Innocentius’ face and sighed again.
“Well, it was just over twenty years ago, I think. Simply put, that stupid pope was plotting a major Catholic advance on Musashi. And yet the history recreation of that missionary work had supposedly ended when the anti-religion law was recreated as a result of the Shimabara Rebellion, which we held an early recreation of fifty years ago.”
“That’s what the Far East claimed, anyway,” said Innocentius slowly. “According to the Testament descriptions, the Shimabara Rebellion occurred about ten years ago during 1637. Holding the history recreation forty years early was a means of eliminating the Catholics before they could even begin work in the Far East. And that’s how the Far East brought about the anti-religion law that shouldn’t have existed at that point.” He took a breath. “The Matsudaira clan issued the anti-religion law in 1614. The advanced recreation moved that up by 15 years. I was merely attempting to compensate for what we lost in that time, but then you interfered.”
Sakai nodded in response to Innocentius’ words. He brushed aside “Musashi’s” hand as she tapped his shoulder again and then he turned toward her.
“ ‘Musashi’-san, do you understand now? He’s the type that can’t take a joke.”
“You should be glad. He has apparently been stalking you for twenty or so years. Over.”
“Musashi’s” comment caused Galileo’s shoulders to shake.
He was laughing bitterly.
“How interesting, former boy. If I had been a student at the time, I think I could have made some nice memories.”
“Galileo, do not forget the debt you owe me for letting you make those memories now.”
“Of course,” said Galileo. “I never thought I would relinquish my position as president and become a student. Then again, being K.P.A. Italia’s vice chancellor is useful for researching the Apocalypse. Holding a position below a former student is a new experience, so I think I will try living much longer.”
“And I never thought my teacher would be one of my subordinates. I occasionally recall the past and almost bow to you despite being pope.”
As the two men laughed, Sakai moved. He tapped “Musashi’s” shoulder and peered into her face.
“Those two are laughing, but do you find anything funny about their conversation?”
“Judge. Toori-sama would have interrupted their conversation. Over.”
“What was that about Musashi’s Mr. Impossible who had his authority as chancellor taken?” Innocentius removed a hand from his pocket and scratched his nose. “Sakai, how is the Far East right now?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m asking if you can settle this like you did back then, got it?” Innocentius bent over once and then peered at Sakai. “Back then, while we fought for over three days and three nights, your friend – Sakakibara was it? – marched into the Testament Union. His actions brought support for the Far East from the Protestants, England, and even Hexagone Française. And that concluded the history recreation of Shimabara and the anti-religion law.”
“Testament,” said Galileo. “It was an excellent method. You made it look like you would settle the dispute using a duel between chancellors as per the academy rules, but you actually led the different nations to accept the history recreation by pressuring the Testament Union. Using the chancellor as a decoy was most excellent, former boy. And that prevented K.P.A. Italia from making its large-scale advance on Musashi and the Far East.”
“We could not expand the Catholic foundation, we lost trade routes in Protestant and newly prosperous nations, and we were defeated.” Innocentius lowered the hand scratching his nose and laughed quietly. “Ha ha. If we had been able to work for those fifteen years, I know we could have created a powerful Catholic foundation in the Far East and then into the other nations. After all, we had calculated out all our predictions before taking action. The Far East had hastened the recreation of the Testament descriptions for your advantage, so justice was on our side. If we had been able to make up for those lost 15 years, we could have prevented K.P.A. Italia’s collapse.” He took a breath. “Or at least delay it until the Apocalypse.”
He laughed again.
“Hey.” The pope took a breath and looked up. “K.P.A. Italia lost to the Far East’s strategy. I understand that, but the battle between K.P.A. Italia and the Far East isn’t over yet, is it?”
“This time, it is the Far East that will lose to K.P.A. Italia’s strategy.”
Innocentius pulled his chin back and gave Sakai an upturned look.
“Musashi’s chancellors have always been incompetent. That is why you, Mikawa’s chancellor, were the one to face me back then. Since then, the Testament Union has been working to weaken the Chancellor’s Officers of the different Far East reservations.”
“Is that your twenty-year-long strategy?”
“Your acquisition of a Logismoi Óplo was unexpected. …As is customary of the warring states, you must make up for it by means of suicide. In exchange for the loss of Mikawa and its productive power, you must pay with the life of your ruler and with the Musashi. After all, we must think about the coming Apocalypse and we must face P.A. Oda and this Genesis Project of theirs. So if we obtained a Logismoi Óplo…” Innocentius turned toward “Musashi”. “K.P.A. Italia will transfer ownership of the Musashi from the Far East to the Testament Union and make it a substitute city for Mikawa. And we will place the Logismoi Óplo there so it can be used as the front line against P.A. Oda.”
“Shinagawa” moved in response to this.
She took a step forward in protest.
And in that instant, Innocentius and Galileo vanished.
It took Sakai a short moment before he realized what had happened.
He understood what had happened, but he did not know why it had happened. That created a time lag before his response.
The next thing he knew, something was behind him.
…They circled behind me with some kind of movement technique!?
With that thought, he wrapped his arms around “Musashi” and “Shinagawa’s” waists and leaped forward.
He ignored “Musashi’s” voice, moved several meters forward, shoved “Shinagawa” to the left, shoved “Musashi” to the right, and spun around.
…What was that?
He did not know. But it was clear that a presence had arrived behind him.
And to check who it was, he glanced in the direction of his previous location.
But they were gone. Based on the sudden presence behind him, Innocentius and Galileo should have been standing there, but he saw nothing but the table set and the empty terrace.
…Then where did they go?
As soon as he had that thought…
“What is it, former boy?”
Sakai turned toward a voice that once more came from behind him.
When he looked back, he saw the pope-chancellor and Galileo standing there.
They were back to their position in front of the staircase. Their stance and position were exactly the same as before.
It was as if they had momentarily vanished and then reappeared.
But to his right, “Musashi” frowned and spoke.
“They definitely moved. But I had not switched to a defensive stance, so I was unable to capture them. Over.”
“Well, I don’t expect you to understand, automaton.”
Sakai heard Galileo take a breath.
“This is a heretical spell.”
Innocentius lightly elbowed Galileo’s back and smiled bitterly.
“Try not to do that while I’m watching.”
“That is why I am standing behind you, former student. Ha ha.” As Galileo laughed, he turned toward Sakai. “Former boy, the next time we meet, you may no longer hold the position of president.”
“That’ll be a relief. With the demotion and the loss of Mikawa, I’ve had way too much to worry about.”
“My former student never said anything about you being the type to worry about that sort of thing.”
Galileo tapped Innocentius’ shoulder.
“I’ve heard about it. When that man takes action, his comrades are already on the move. And when he doesn’t take action…” Innocentius paused. “His comrades take action on their own.”
“That sounds about right. My comrades were a lot more skilled than me.”
“But what about now, former boy? What will your students do when you do not take action?” Galileo took a breath. “I had not heard that you were the type to simply do nothing.”
As if agreeing with Galileo’s words, Innocentius turned his back.
The two of them faced the door from the terrace and walked out.
And as the two of them disappeared through the door, Innocentius spoke.
“Either way, whatever happens, and whatever may be, K.P.A. Italia will take back what it lost. We will take land as glory, money as honor, life as pride, and belief as hope.”
“Even if that means losing one of the lives that we have now?”
“Testament,” was his reply. “Our battle resulted in the ruin of K.P.A. Italia and the fall of Catholicism. And do not forget that the present is still flowing. In the great flow of destiny, our lost fifteen years and the future of the Far East are equivalent to the choice of a single girl.”
The door closed, but the words continued.
“Do not reject the flow of the present. Doing so would be the same as rejecting our battle back then, hm?”
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