Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 30
Chapter 30: Me at the Last Moment
Point Allocation (Things One Understands Not)
In preparation for the last duel with Masazumi, the special student general meeting occurring in the Musashi Ariadust Academy entered a period of downtime.
The members of the Provisional Council arrived at the location, went up the stairs and gathered somewhere on the right side of the Academy grounds. They then started preparing for their own meetings using the free time available to them.
By the Academy, the people forming Toori’s group were already gathering information from the sign frames they brought out.
In the center was Neshinbara looking at the situation in various places from the broadcasting members’ footage.
“Looks like the parliament’s side is finally coming out to see us, eh? That’s a good sign. At the very least, we’ll get more opportunities to do things than if they just decide on everything behind closed doors.”
“I was planning to ask Seijun about that, though, you know?”
Toori, in a seated position, brought his chin to rest on his hands and then snapped his right fingers.
“Adele, you’re quite fast on your legs, aren’t you?”
In addition to her own raised voice, the others looked to her in surprise.
However, someone answered in her place. It was Tenzou, crossing his arms.
“In last year’s sports festival, Adele-dono closed quite the distance as the middle member in the normal-class relay. That contest before the anchor members’ turn was quite the spectacle, you know? Though I wouldn’t expect everyone to realize it, her being completely spent on the laws of physics obstacle course relay before that.”
“Ah, well, I don’t really have the stamina, and it doesn’t really help me as a retainer, with my mechanical shell and all.”
“Anyways, I have a place I’d like you to go for me, alright? While you’re there, can you get the dip for the Pro Cricket Dried Boiled Rice Chips? Here’s the money, you keep the change.”
“Well, thirty yen is about the exact price, you know… Ah, thanks for the ten-yen tip, I’ll get a five yen chocolate with that.”
Adele received the memo of his request along with the change. She looked at it, bending her eyebrows.
“? …Are you sure you’re fine with this?”
“I’m quite interested in it, so it’s fine. I’m sure they’ll figure something out.”
“Huh,” Adele nodded, looking towards the Academy. She was to leave the Academy grounds from the rear exit.
With a gesture, everyone sent her off as she left at a good speed.
Then, drawing a breath, Toori spoke.
“I can’t do anything by myself; but precisely because of that, I have a bit of an idea of who can do what. With that, if she can get along with them…I’m sure we’ll become an unstoppable force.”
“Will it be alright? Masazumi is in a rather complicated position, you know?”
Mitotsudaira took a step forward from the side. Toori merely smiled in response.
He extended his hand, slid his fingers into her hair and ruffled it.
“You came over to our side, didn’t you? Same thing. Say thanks to Bell-san, alright?”
“In the first place, you weren’t exactly playing fair, were you? Abandoning your status as a knight and becoming a commoner, that was your plan, wasn’t it? I can’t really describe it but…you don’t want to become Mikawa’s next ruler, do you? You don’t want to replace Horizon, no?”
“You said it yesterday as well. How you didn’t want to take someone’s place to be confessed to.”
Receiving everyone’s looks with those words, Mitotsudaira’s cheeks reddened.
Still, without taking his hand off Mitotsudaira’s hair, Toori said:
“Preferring to be a knight rather than a king? You won’t get far in this reverse-hierarchy world with that mindset.”
“I-it’s fine, really. A knight only dedicates herself to her king, after all.”
Still being patted on the head, Mitotsudaira raised her eyebrows and clenched her teeth.
“Seriously, even if he’s a perverted, carefree, idiotic, weak, poor, inappropriate with his appearance, having a deviant sister and overall the lowest of the low.”
Pulling her head away from his hand and thus taking his hand out of her hair, she raised her body.
“Being good at nothing other than being aware of such things, you’re really the worst.”
However, Mitotsudaira let out a sigh. She then faced Toori, raising her profile.
Right in front of him, with an expression of lowered eyebrows, she said.
“Still, umm, chancellor?”
“Hmm? What is it? Can’t stand being on your own? There are all these weird people around you so go to them.”
“No, that’s not it… Ah, well, I do agree on the weird part, though.”
Mitotsudaira shrunk her body slightly with a reddened face.
“I apologize for yesterday.”
“Huh? For what?”
“…I said something mean here in this place: ‘It would be nice if you were rejected!’ ”
As everyone turned to her with slight surprise, the silver hair made a gesture.
“If it really had turned out that way, if something even worse happened, I wouldn’t know what to do…”
Looking at Mitotsudaira’s rather lowered head, Toori made a response.
A laugh. His laughter joined with a smile.
“I~diot, that’s not something you should care about, you know? …I’m a man that will exceed your expectations, after all! That’s why, if you would still concern yourself with me, lend me a hand in saving Horizon. When it’s all done and over with, feel free to boast about yourself, alright? ‘Thanks to me you didn’t get rejected!’ like that!”
“I beg you. You’re our knight after all. Saving Horizon would be easier with you on our side. We promised we’d be together, right? Miss Knight?”
Hearing those last few words, Mitotsudaira’s raised face relaxed its expression; a smile mixed in with a little bitterness from her lips.
“All you remember are the things of the past, don’t you? Then this is what I shall say.”
Not concerned with their conversation being lost on the others, Mitotsudaira gestured, once again, and opened her mouth.
“To your heart’s content, my king.”
On the grassy plains stood a white tent as well as several tables.
The tent was a wall-less stairwell-type, with the crest of Tres España painted on it in red. Beneath its roof, documents and maps were spread out on two tables; which were also being used to set up a miniature-type “church” for communication purposes.
Finally, the tables outside the tent were used for food preparation.
Everyone had already finished eating, with tableware and cookware put aside and leftovers, both food and drink, stored in containers inside a stove dug out of the soil beside the tent.
However, by the newly-cleaned table were two figures still having their lunch.
Muneshige and Gin. Seated beside each other, they were taking in their own dishes as well as the soy-boiled spinach salad placed between them. However, looking at Gin skillfully using her chopsticks with her giant mechanical fingers, Muneshige said:
“Gin-san, why are you eating your paella with chopsticks?”
At that question, Gin turned to look with lowered eyes and a smile at his wrist and the silver spoon held between his fingers.
“…Heh heh, still can’t use chopsticks properly? Master Muneshige is still a child.”
“T-that’s different! That’s not the point!”
“No, it’s not.”
Gin asserted herself holding the two sticks in front of Muneshige.
“…These can be weapons as well. They pierce. Two pieces, with a spare.”
“I feel like we’re drawing further away from the point here, but you think they are superior to western tableware like the fork and knife as well?”
“Against such a small blade of a knife and the curved, highly air-resistant fork? Definitely.”
Still, a small smile appeared on Gin’s lips.
“How the food we have becomes more plentiful after we’ve left Tres España is a mysterious thing.”
Beyond the tent, the hygiene officer in charge of the food lightly held up his hand with a smile.
Both of them responded, but Muneshige said:
“Gin-san, in your opinion Tres España’s cooking is pretty bad, isn’t it?”
“Most of it is okay, but…”
Gin slightly raised her eyebrows.
“The way the garlic is just randomly thrown in and how the rice, cinnamon and milk is just mixed together gave me a weird feeling; and how the fish, meat, beans were just put in with salt as if making olla podrida just makes me want to dunk it in miso soup if I had the chance.”
“That was rather conservative of you.”
“Master Muneshige is just not perceptive enough. Even if it’s just the pickled vegetables or wasabi; there is no contest.”
“I have to ask, just what do you require in cooking?”
“I myself would eat whatever you’d make, Gin-san.”
Gin ignored the students around them making breathing noises while fanning themselves with mats and the like. Still, after a moment, she relaxed her shoulders and stated:
“Tes, indeed. Even that time when I served you poisoned food, you ate it already being aware of the fact.”
“That one tasted rather sweet, you know?”
“What would you do if you died? Seriously…”
That moment, the male student who was operating the miniature-type “church” on the desk raised his head. Inside the tent, the middle-aged man in student uniform with a robe over it showing his position as the chief of his division started to report something.
A few moments later, he lightly raised one hand towards Muneshige and Gin. In a relaxed tone, he said.
“Vice-chief, Musashi is making quite a bit of noise, but…”
“Tes, from the broadcast we received, Musashi Ariadust Academy’s students are moving towards reclaiming their Student Council rights, through a special student general meeting organized against the vice president, who is on the Provisional Council’s side. …Over on that side, what is our Chancellery saying?”
“They responded ‘continue to guard K.P.A. Italia’. We were wrong to expect any reinforcements from them.”
“Tes,” Gin nodded. “The mainland is very likely busy preparing for the fight against England. Last night’s incident revealed the role of the Logismoi Óplo in deciding the fate of the Apocalypse; so the meaning of the battle against England weighs ever heavier on both sides, each being holders of Logismoi Óplo.”
The chief posed a question in a quieter voice.
“What if the people of Musashi were to come for the princess who is being examined for her Logismoi Óplo in our ship?”
While asking that, he looked to the rectangular, black-colored ship in the south.
On the lower frontal region, there was a place enclosed in walls of light; the room they called “Andamio de la Ejecución”.
Its floor was lined with tatami before, but right now the princess was inside having the Logismoi Óplo inside her examined.
The facility was originally used to analyze large supernatural organisms or criminals, being able to investigate their traits and weaknesses, intentions, and if necessary their component elements via disassembly; but in Princess Horizon’s case, the plan was to first examine her for the Logismoi Óplo, which would then be disassembled and extracted from her body.
Light was filling that enclosed space. The analysis should be over in a few minutes. Still…
“Musashi’s special student general meeting will likely end before the princess’s suicide. …What do you think?”
The one who answered was Muneshige, gathering rice from the paella onto one side of the dish.
“With K.P.A. Italia and Tres España stationed here, I do not believe they will be able to do anything at all. The princess’s ‘suicide’ will surely go well as other nations will not be able to easily interfere considering the location where we are.
“Therefore, to not let the opportunity slip through, K.P.A. Italia should have also moved to prepare their defenses.
“Though, we would be obliged to cooperate with them in that matter, under the mainland’s orders.”
“…Would we be all right in that case? We did suffer quite a bit of damage from last night…”
“We still have the edge over them in numbers. We have enough to form a Tercio, and the other side has not received military training; we only need to hold out until the time limit to win.
“Moreover, we still have one undamaged Gran Muñeca which can fly as well as several ships we can mobilize. If we have to be cautious about something, it is the Musashi’s Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council…as well as the Far East’s Shinto spells.”
Gin raised her eyebrows in response.
“Tes,” Muneshige nodded.
“Gin-san is Catholic…or rather, the people of Tres España are Catholic, aren’t they?
“The Tsirhc religions of Catholicism and Protestantism, as well as the Mlasi do not recognize other religions; so Shinto spells are not recognized anywhere other than Musashi and each nation’s Far Eastern settlements. …Thus military officers and political families wanting to obtain power to influence the world have gone and naturalized into the various nations. The Tachibana family did so as well, didn’t they?”
Gin nodded, but then tilted her head.
“Still, followers are few in number and the practice of Shinto spells has declined significantly; so what of them?”
“Such a declined practice still holds a certain ability. …Just like how that man was able to offer money to use spells in the broadcast before, so long as they can pay the intermediary fee for the use of the shrines’ network, Shinto users are able to use spells of gods other than the ones contracted to them.
“In addition, offerings for the intermediary fee are also accepted directly from the contracted god’s spells.”
“According to Shinto, offerings of money to financial gods, food for gourmet gods, songs for musical gods…even with the intermediary fee, if each and every one of them were to dedicate their own offerings to their gods, they can borrow the spells of the other gods.
“If I were to explain what this means…any and all practitioners of Shinto, provided they can offer something to their own gods, can utilize all available Shinto spells whenever and however they want.
“In contrast, Tsirhc followers are not able to use spells other than the ones of saints contracted to them. To respect other saints and for discipline in money, transactions in divine power are not possible.”
“I see,” Gin nodded. As if to continue his words, she said:
“Certainly, Shinto practitioners who have excelled in their sanctioned art can become omnipotent through that very art.
“Ironic as it is, this system of transaction Shinto has adopted has only made its practitioners subjects of the nations’ provisional rule through the Harmonic Unification War 160 years ago.”
Gin lightly crossed her arms and turned to the mountains where Musashi was located.
“Reduced to Musashi and the settlements, Shinto has failed to strengthen the relations of those two places; its concept of transaction has only been adopted by financial businesses of other nations, as well as its exploitation to develop the necessary spells we know and use as ‘Divine spells’.
“…I hear such uses of Shinto spells have already happened, at the time of P.A. Oda’s invasion.”
“…Though the M.H.H.R. and Hashiba, acting as dispatch forces from P.A. Oda, have yet to hand over that information to the Testament Union. The Thirty Years’ War between M.H.H.R. and Hexagone Française has yet to occur after all.
“Therefore, nations have collaborated with Far Easterners from their settlements to study Shinto spells; still, even if the theory is there, the people with the ‘art’ necessary to put it into practice are few and far between. …What we just witnessed would surely become valuable data. Perhaps this won’t be the last time we’ll see it.”
Saying that, Muneshige felt his sleeve lightly tugged on by Gin.
He turned to see her tilting her head.
“But why did the Far East not retaliate despite having such power?”
“The peace treaty from the Harmonic Unification War.”
Drawing a breath, Muneshige turned to look at the mountain range where Musashi was as well.
“That was how thorough the treaty’s disarmament condition was. With the prohibition of possessing weapons of mass destruction, having Shinto spells of the same scale was also forbidden. In any case, Shinto spells can freely recombine provided the offerings are dedicated, meaning they cannot easily be regulated. So, any use of Shinto spells other than in defense would be declared a violation of the treaty. The same applies to the Gods of War; the Testament Union would intervene in any attempt to use them for military purposes. The conflict we saw earlier was a matter of Musashi’s internal affairs, so it would not be considered an action of military interest.”
Gin looked toward Musashi once again, opening her mouth while doing so.
“The act of obtaining Princess Horizon would be seen as hostility towards the Testament Union. At least, defensive measures would no longer serve as an excuse. In any case, a lord atoning for the mistakes of his country with his life was always the norm where history is concerned. Preventing that from happening would never be justified, especially if it would mean all-out war with the Testament Union.”
“I wonder, myself. They would still have other ideas in that area, you know. So let’s take a look. Um, the communications setup… Can it receive the broadcast from Musashi?”
Moments later, a sign frame adorned in crosses appeared in front of Gin and Muneshige.
Displayed were the blue sky and buildings of a town, interspersed with noise. The audio was…
“The broadcast by Musashi’s Broadcasting Committee?”
“Tes, the duel between the vice president and the chancellor in this special student general meeting must be beginning soon.”
“Let’s watch. The students of Far East have not once bet on their fate in over twenty years.
“If last night’s Mikawa battle were to be seen as a conflict between those who are no longer students, what we are about to see now is the return of Musashi into active service after these twenty years. All the other nations will surely have their eyes on this…”
Ha, he drew a breath of laughter, once again taking hold of the spoon and dish that had his paella.
“Depending on the circumstances, any country at all may have their view of Musashi turned 180 degrees around. So let’s finish eating this while we can; the prawn and stuff harden when they’re cold, after all.”
“The footage from Musashi is coming in! It is being transmitted over a normal band, so there is some noise in the signal!”
A girl’s voice filled an elevated terrace.
The terrace was built on the front of a giant white ship’s deck and a white tent was set up on it.
The tent bore the crest of K.P.A. Italia and it functioned as an outdoor command center that performed divine transmissions and other tasks.
However, two people could be seen outside the tent.
One was a demon standing in a black cloak worn over a black uniform.
The other was a man wearing a white cloak as he sat at a table set and sipped at a bottle of water.
“Innocentius, are you not going to watch this? England, Hexagone Française, M.H.R.R., P.A. Oda, and Sviet Rus will most likely be watching.”
“I don’t need to watch it. No matter what the result, it will be a good deal for us, Galileo.” Innocentius held his half-empty bottle of water up toward Galileo. “Musashi’s Special General Student Meeting is supposedly about recovering their authority, but its true goal is deciding whether they will rescue their princess who is being inspected in Tres España’s interrogation ship. If the vice president wins for the Council, Musashi and everything else will be ours. If the Academy wins, they will directly confront us and Musashi and everything else will be ours. The result changes nothing.”
“I was hoping to steer the conversation toward the princess.”
“I see.” Innocentius lowered the bottle to his own eye level. “I don’t like sentimentality. The age of knights is over. In this baroque age, the myths and gods are merely admired as a portion of human culture. Since my defeat at the hands of Tadatsugu, the rise of the people has greatly reduced my power as pope. The people are aware that reducing the Catholic leader’s power will weaken their nation in the long run, but they are forced to do so in accordance with the history recreation.”
“So it is all how history is ‘supposed to be’? Is that also how you view this princess’s ‘suicide’?”
“Her ‘suicide’ will not remain in history.” Innocentius took a sip from the bottle. “Motonobu died during this incident, but the Testament descriptions say Matsudaira Motonobu later changes his name to Ieyasu and rules the Far East. His name must be inherited by someone else to continue the history recreation, but someone needs to make up for the loss of Mikawa and the possession of a Logismoi Óplo. If the princess herself is the Logismoi Óplo, the answer is simple: she can pay for Motonobu’s crimes by presenting us with the Logismoi Óplo that makes up her body. Also, there is no way to separate out the Logismoi Óplo aside from ‘suicide’.”
“And through that, the Mikawa and Logismoi Óplo incidents will have ‘never happened’?”
“Testament.” Innocentius nodded. “It will have never happened. Historically, Mikawa never disappeared, so this is the only way. Without their princess, Musashi can be made into Mikawa and the Far East will never have owned a Logismoi Óplo. But if the princess survives, neither event can be said to have never happened.”
He took a breath.
“Later, the different nations will start the Thirty Years’ War and other skirmishes over the Logismoi Óplo; but the world will ultimately gather together if retrieving the Logismoi Óplo will save us from the Apocalypse. I wonder how much that truth will help reassure the people who are feeling uneasy due to the mysterious phenomena and various rumors. …And the Far East is the same. Their emperor remains in Kyou, but they are essentially completely under our control. That should lead them to gather along with the rest of the world.”
“Even after their princess’s ‘natural sacrifice’?”
“Do not forget my ‘cool-headed decision’.”
“How harsh. Mankind has passed the Renaissance and reached the Baroque, but we still must kill?”
“Catholics are the representatives of conservatism. That means the Papa-Schola that leads them is the leader of conservatism. Not doing what I must do is unthinkable from a historical perspective.”
Innocentius placed the bottle on the table and turned toward the distant mountainous landscape where Musashi lay.
“If the Logismoi Óplo we receive from this princess is truly part of a plan to save the world from the Apocalypse, I think I will inherit the name of a saint even if that saint should already be dead. That name will befit a savior and it is the most I can do as the leader of the Catholics.”
“I thought you did not like sentimentality.”
“I do not like it, but I do not hate it either. If I hated it, I would never have become the Papa-Schola. After all, conservatism is sentimentality toward the changing age.”
“Oh, so you are aware that you are behind the times?”
“Don’t get so full of yourself just because you advocate heliocentrism, Galileo. Everyone already knows that’s how it works.”
He laughed quietly, snapped his fingers, and spoke to the student in charge of divine transmissions.
“Now, I’ve changed my mind. Show me the footage from Musashi. I want to see how the Special General Student Meeting is going.”
“Why this all of a sudden? You really have not changed since you were a student.”
“I still am a student, former teacher.” Here alone, he reverted to his old tone of voice. “As the leader of conservatism, I want to see the latest version of modern sentimentality. Was this entire conversation meant to lead me there?”
“No. I was merely trying to convince you because I wanted to watch it.”
“Testament. I am glad to see you are acting like a student too. Now, show us the footage.” Innocentius grabbed the bottle from the table. “Depending on how it plays out, I may intervene.”
Three people stood on the bridge in front of Musashi Ariadust Academy.
They all faced the staircase and the one on the port side was Toori.
To his right, on the starboard side, was Masazumi. Behind them was Oriotorai.
Oriotorai moved in front of her two students.
“President Sakai isn’t here, but let’s begin the final duel of the Special General Student Meeting. This will be the last one, so how about I join in? So, um… Will it be a thirty minute round of combat?”
“That’s amazing, sensei! That joke wasn’t cute at all!”
As Oriotorai smiled and swung up a clenched fist, Toori fled a half step backwards. On the other hand, Masazumi sighed and waved her hands back and forth.
“It will be a debate, so please just continue playing the role of witness. It can be hard to determine the winner.”
“To be honest, I don’t really understand how it works,” said Oriotorai. “I can bind a contract between you that sets the rules of the debate, but please don’t ask for anything more.”
“Judge. That is plenty. We will ask each other questions and provide the answers. If you can make your opponent admit their disadvantage or your advantage, you win. Aoi, you understand our positions, correct? You can actually discuss this, right?”
“O-o-of-of-of course! D-d-don’t underestimate me!”
“Try not cowering and trembling when you say that.”
But Toori scratched at his head, faced Masazumi, and gave his usual smile.
“I’m not very smart, so I can get help, right?”
“Yes. If specialized answers come from someone qualified in that field, it should help convince the students.”
Masazumi looked past Toori and to the port side of the schoolyard. She looked across the Student Council, the Chancellor’s Officers, and her other classmates before turning to the starboard side.
Adults were gathered there. They were the thirty members of the Provisional Council. Her own father and his clients were there.
Masazumi turned away from them.
“If necessary, I will get help as well. Is that fine?”
She tilted her head with half-lidded eyes, but Oriotorai cleared her throat and spoke up.
“Are the two of you ready for the debate? Who will go first and who will go second?”
Her question received an immediate response from Toori. He threw both his arms into the air.
“I’ll go first!”
Toori’s desire to go first caused Masazumi and everyone else to freeze in place. They all produced the same response.
“Why are you all so surprised!? This is a pain, so I want to get it over with as quickly as possible.”
As soon as he said that, Shirojiro spoke from the starboard side.
“You fool! Going second is easier! When a merchant is ripping someone off, he never suggests the first price, does he!? This is no different!”
“Hm. Shiro-kun, I think that’s too much to reveal in public.”
Hearing that, Oriotorai turned to Toori and stared up at him.
“What will you do? Will you apologize and admit you were stupid? C’mon, just say it. Say you were stupid.”
“Y-you’re trying to pick a fight with me, aren’t you!? Aren’t you!?”
“No, I don’t have enough free time to fight weaklings. I’m just making fun of you.”
“Y-you’re a horrible teacher! I’m gonna make you apologize one of these days! And I won’t forgive you until then! I’m serious!”
“Ah ha ha. Sorry, sorry. Did I hurt your feelings?”
“No. And you apologized, so I’ll forgive you. I’ll forgive you!!”
“Was that really enough for you?” muttered everyone else.
“What will you do?” asked Masazumi while narrowing her eyes. “I’m willing to go first.”
“No, I said I’d go first.”
“Are you sure?” Oriotorai snapped her fingers and a torii-style sign frame appeared next to her face. “Are you really fine with that? Okay. Here’s a contract of Misato, one of the Ookuninushi type gods related to contracts. If either of you fails to argue from your respective positions, you’ll be punished. You understand that, right?”
“Judge,” said both Toori and Masazumi.
They both placed a hand on the sign frame.
Oriotorai watched as Masazumi placed her hand first and then Toori affixed his seal with a practiced roll of the fingers.
“Toori, you’ve done this a lot, haven’t you?”
“C’mon, enough with the compliments, sensei. The guy at the police box doesn’t know me by name for nothing, you know?”
“That isn’t a compliment. Anyway, sensei, what is the punishment?”
Oriotorai nodded at Masazumi’s question.
“Well, divine punishment would be a bit too scary, right? So instead, I’ll hit you with my weapon.”
With a smile, Toori slowly turned to look Masazumi in the eye.
“D-don’t just come out and say it, you idiot. Make it into a joke instead.”
“Don’t worry. Cutting you with my sword would kill you instantly, so I’ll be hitting you with the scabbard. Don’t overlook my consideration.”
The two students looked at the long sword on Oriotorai’s back. It was at least 1.7 meters long and the scabbard was clearly made of metal.
“Wouldn’t an instant death hurt a lot less?”
“I’ve never died, so I can’t say. I’d rather not find out, though.”
The two exchanged a nod.
Toori then took a step toward the bow and toward the people gathered below the stairs.
“Okay, let’s get started.”
“Make sure to debate properly, okay? I want to avoid hitting someone if it won’t accomplish anything.”
“I will, I will.” Toori took in a breath. “Okay, everyone. I, former Chancellor and President Aoi Toori, have a suggestion for how to handle this incident.”
The wind blew through. That wind with a faint hint of marine saltiness indicated the midpoint of the afternoon.
He spread his arms as the wind blew across him.
“It comes down to a single issue. Retrieving my authority and everything else is nothing more than a foothold toward a grander plan to rescue Horizon and confess to her. So let’s make this clear. What do we have to gain and what do we have to lose by rescuing Horizon? That is what I will be debating with…um…Seijun.”
“First, I’ll make my position clear. My suggestion is as follows.”
Everyone watched and listened.
As Toori stood atop the stairs in the wind, he scratched his head yet spoke clearly.
“How about we give up on trying to rescue Horizon?”
In front of Tres España’s tent, the divine transmission officer, the medical officer doing the cooking, the commander, Tachibana Muneshige, and the others were left dumbfounded at Toori’s statement.
Gin alone looked around the unmoving group and spotted a grain of rice on Muneshige’s mouth.
She skillfully plucked it off with her artificial arm’s fingers and put it in her own mouth.
In K.P.A. Italia’s tent, the student in charge of divine transmissions remained motionless. Galileo and Innocentius were equally motionless.
Innocentius had been drinking from his bottle and the water spilled from the corner of his mouth.
But he remained motionless.
On the Musashi, everyone remained speechless and motionless.
The townspeople, Guard Unit, Provisional Council, teachers, and everyone else stood perfectly still and did not utter a word.
But there were some who managed to move: Tenzou and Urquiaga on the port side of the schoolyard and Naomasa who had just returned.
The three of them climbed up onto the bridge and took up positions to the port, starboard, and center. They lowered their hands once to measure the tempo and raised them on a count of three.
And on their cue…
“Ehhhhhh!?” shouted the entirety of Musashi.
During the shout, Suzu’s knees gave out limply beneath her.
“W-wah!” shouted Asama who stood behind her. “S-Suzu-san! Suzu-san! I know this was unexpected, but pull yourself together!”
“I-I’m f-fine. S-some kind of c-cushion caught me…”
“Heh heh heh. Heretical shrine maiden, why are you burying Suzu in your giant breasts?”
“Do you really have to continue humiliating me with body-related jokes!? Goddamn Shinto!”
Asama went on to shout out what everyone else was thinking.
“What is going on!?”
Toori waited for everyone to stop their confused shout because they needed to catch their breath. He used the relative silence to speak while still scratching at his head.
“C’mon, everyone. Just think about it for a second. If we go rescue Horizon, it’ll cause a huge war with the Testament Union. I don’t know about you, but starting Armageddon sounds like a bad idea to me.”
“Wait just a minute!!” shouted Masazumi who stood diagonally behind him.
She glanced to the starboard side of the schoolyard and saw the entire Provisional Council frantically nod toward her.
“Y-y-you… Aoi, wh-wh-what are you saying!?”
“What are you saying, Seijun?”
She looked up into the sky, took a deep breath, and forcefully lowered her head once more.
“That’s my line!! What do you mean we shouldn’t rescue Horizon!?”
“Oh, so you’re arguing we should go rescue her!?”
“N-no, I’m not! Why did you steal my line!?” She brought a hand to her chest. “The suggestion you just gave is my suggestion!!”
“No, it’s not.” Toori pointed at Oriotorai behind her. “She said we would debate and that we’d argue from our ‘respective positions’, but she never said which was which. I’m just saying what my position is. What about you?”
As Masazumi grew flustered, the surrounding silence took on a different form.
Rather than a shocked silence, everyone was silently and slowly observing the two representatives.
And amid that heavy silence, Toori spoke.
“I go first and then you go, but we never decided who would be on which side. I chose to go first because the rules said I could choose which side I got. And if you break the rules, you’ll get punished. Look.”
Masazumi glanced behind her.
Oriotorai was making practice swings of her sword and scabbard. She was holding it above her head and swinging it down until it almost touched the floor. The movement between the two positions was too fast for her eyes to see.
“Hmm. I’ll actually be hitting someone, so there’ll be some resistance. I may need to use more strength to make it to the floor.”
“Um, sensei? You don’t have to take this so seriously…”
As Oriotorai turned toward her, Masazumi asked a testing question.
“Uh, about Aoi’s decision just now…”
“Yeah, it really surprised me, so I was making some practice swings to distract myself.” She brought up the contract sign frame once more. “But if you want to cancel this and rewrite it, you have to pay a cancellation fee.”
“And the cancellation fee is…?”
Masazumi hung her head and Toori gave a solemn nod behind her.
“With that sword pressure, you’d vanish from the face of the earth on the second one.”
“Y-you don’t have to state the obvious.”
“C’mon, you two. I’m not that much of a gorilla. You wouldn’t vanish until the fourth strike.”
“How is that any different!?” shouted everyone.
Masazumi sighed, but Toori circled to the starboard side and spread his arms. The Provisional Council was now behind him as if supporting him. And with his back to them, he spoke.
“Okay, let’s do this, Seijun. You’ll have to tell me. If we rescue Horizon, it could turn into an all-out war with the Testament Union. If it does, is there still anything we gain by rescuing Horizon?”
His voice filled the air.
“I can’t do anything and I can’t answer that question myself, so tell me, Seijun. What exactly is it that I want?”
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