Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 32
Chapter 32: Absolute Supporter
Who is there
No matter what happens?
Point Allocation (Mr. Impossible)
Masazumi felt the stillness around her.
There was some wind and the raised bridge produced a soft whistling noise as it scraped away at that movement of the air. The nearby trees shook and the nature district down below produced a wavelike rustling noise.
However, the people were staring at the sign frames around them. They all displayed the face of Pope-Chancellor Innocentius, leader of K.P.A. Italia.
“Errors in the history recreation are easily created for the convenience of our cultures or civilizations,” he said. “Everyone prefers what is convenient and they will want to choose that method if they know it exists. That is why the history recreation based on the Testament descriptions is always accompanied by ‘interpretations’.”
“But these interpretations are not about convenience. Isn’t that right?” Innocentius spoke in a low, disinterested tone. “A leader committing suicide to take responsibility for his or her nation is the rule of the Far East in this age. That is how history must proceed. It is only natural. …And what is wrong with using a historically accurate interpretation? But you are ignoring the proper rule of taking responsibility with suicide and you are trying to use the idea of interpretations as an excuse.”
Masazumi chose her words carefully.
…What should I do?
How could she guide the conversation in the direction she wanted?
“But, your holiness, your interpretation will lead to the loss of an unrelated and innocent citizen.”
“Oh? …The ‘loss’? Is that what you said? Then let me teach you a wonderful word: martyrdom. Do you know what that means? It is a noble sacrifice.”
“She will not be lost. She will make a choice and continue on ahead in order to lead the people along the path of history that seeks the Testament. Whether she wants it or not, that is the path wanted for history. Do you understand?”
That’s what I thought he’d say, thought Masazumi as she mentally clicked her tongue.
He had a prepared response for this. As he had said before, he had likely held this exact same conversation countless times in his years at the top of Catholicism. There had to have been countless times when someone tried to bring an end to the history recreation.
But no records remained of those rebellions.
…Because he defeated his opponent in these discussions and “interpreted” it as some historical rebellion or another.
She decided that, at the very least, she could not let him turn this incident into some sort of interpretation.
“And how about I continue, hm? You said you would make up for Mikawa by merging it with Musashi and therefore keeping it in existence. But what will you do about the industrial dealings that used Mikawa’s productivity and Ley line reactors?”
“I think I know what you are saying. You are saying Mikawa belongs to the Far East and can therefore ignore its association with the Testament Union as that is not part of the history recreation.”
“Surely you know that is out of the question. You just said you could not allow any errors in the recreation of the Testament’s history descriptions and now you are claiming our actions are errors? Do not be ridiculous.”
Gin frowned at Innocentius’s words and stuck her chopsticks into the bag of popcorn.
“The discussion is veering off track.”
“The normal people listening won’t notice. That is an error in itself and insisting on a rebuttal would not help.”
Everyone turned toward them with questioning looks, so Muneshige folded his arms and nodded.
“The Papa-Schola is supplying response after response at a quick pace. I believe he is intentionally challenging her by lining up so many arguments. By bringing up so many different opinions in opposition of his opponent’s, he is rejecting her and refusing to accept her stance. Simply noticing a small deviation in the argument is a small thing overall. After all, he is constantly continuing on to the next topic without obsessing over any one point. By the time she finds fault with one, he has already evaded her rebuttal by continuing on to the next topic.”
“But…is there a meaning to this? Simply rejecting your opponent’s stance like that would either mean they are both right or they are both wrong. Wouldn’t this create an unproductive situation where neither stance is accepted?”
“Only someone who does not want their argument rejected would say it is unproductive to line up counterarguments like this.” Muneshige spoke while watching the exchange on the screen. “This is an exchange of points of view between the two of them. If you do not accept that, you will be forced to comprehend the opponent’s point of view. And in this exchange of counterarguments, one can discard their point of view to eliminate their opponent’s point of view. And if their opponent cannot keep up with the mutual destruction of points of view…” He took a breath. “It proves that their opponent is speaking only from their own point of view.”
“That is the Papa-Schola’s tactic. No one can stand up to the massive amount of Catholic ‘points of view’ that he has built up over the years. And after his opponent runs out, he will still have a point of view left to speak from. And he is carrying that out in this high-speed exchange. He has already begun lining up his counterarguments. But to him, this is not a negotiation or a debate. He is merely choosing the words he has accumulated in the past.”
“Then…” Gin turned around. “What if the vice president asks him to stop?”
“This exchange of counterarguments is accomplished when one’s opponent negates your own argument with a point of view of equal value. In other words, this is a provocation and test for those who do not realize any argument can be handled depending on one’s point of view. If she asks him to stop, it means she is angry because her own argument is flawed and she cannot form a common point of view with her opponent. That would mean she has lost the debate.”
Everyone watched the screen.
How was she supposed to bring this to an end?
She had caught on to her opponent’s tactic. It was a scorched earth strategy using an exchange of counterarguments. He had accumulated far more arguments than her, so he could survive while continuing this mutual destruction of arguments.
It was a simple method. By showing discrepancies in point of view, he could accept yet reject his opponent’s opinion.
There was a reason he did not make any blatant rejections.
…When dealing with the Protestants, he needs a way to avoid responsibility for any trouble.
His defenses were strong. If she was to change the flow of the exchange…
“Was freezing the finances of the reservations also a means of correcting an error?”
By asking a question, she could avoid introducing an argument and allowing him to provide a counterargument.
“Once we determine our points of view on the princess’s suicide, that answer will make itself known on its own. It is only a secondary problem. Isn’t there something else we should be discussing, hm?”
Rather than answering her question, he focused on the discussion of the primary problem. He was merely narrowing down the topic of discussion to reduce her options for arguments and corner her more quickly.
“Hey, hey! Masazumi! Are you winning!? Are you winning!?”
The idiot behind her was incredibly annoying. He was currently jumping up and down behind her.
“Y’see! Y’see! I’m pretty stupid, so I don’t understand this! But do you have eight secret plans in progress to bring you victory with a double score bonus!? Well, do you!?”
“Quiet down, Aoi. I can’t concentrate.”
“Oh! Is that it!? Do you get more excited when things are silent!?”
“Excited? Excited?” added a voice from the bucket on the ground.
Meanwhile, Aoi walked down the stairs and toward the starboard side. After a while, he came back with products the Council members sold or produced and he began holding them up toward the film crew. She glanced over as he held something up.
“The standard breakfast with the IZUMO label! Pour milk on it and eat it! It’s an extra-large curry!!”
Hassan ran over and helped Aoi hold up the box with a thumbs up.
When Masazumi turned around and swung up her fist, the idiot frantically fled to the starboard side.
“Koni-tan! Seijun’s super scary! …Oh, do you need something to drink, Koni-tan?”
“Shh! Shh! Don’t call me that in front of people! …Oh, I’ll have tea.”
Are they close? wondered Masazumi with a tilt of the head, but everyone on the starboard side frantically shook their heads.
“Socializing! It’s just socializing!” they shouted in unison. “Connections are important!!”
She felt that was something they should avoid saying publicly, but it may not have mattered as the Council was exclusive to Musashi. Aoi also seemed to socialize with the influential merchants and city officials.
…He really is selfish and in a way…
But that thought gave her the answer she wanted.
She knew how to bring an end to the current situation.
The wind blew through. With mid-afternoon leading to late-afternoon, the wind from the mountains contained a hint of a western scent.
As that wind washed over him, Innocentius sighed.
…Will this end soon?
As soon as he thought that, Musashi’s vice president asked another question.
“After the destruction of Mikawa, a summary succession confirmation was performed on the princess, but she was not the heir at the time of the destruction. To make her the heir later and have her take responsibility is merely forcibly smoothing things over, is it not?”
“What matters is having responsibility taken in a way that is historically acceptable. Our stance requires that we correct the error.”
He crushed her argument with his own.
And another question arrived.
“Then why did you carry out the summary succession confirmation in secret? The princess was a resident of Musashi, so it should have been held at the Asama Shrine. Why wasn’t it?”
“Her suicide still would have been held even if it was, so we used the shrine network to settle the issue swiftly and bring her under our protection before any further trouble could occur. Either method would have resulted in the same answer, so we chose the easier one.”
He crushed it again.
He knew she was running out. Her repeated questions were proof of that. She was running out of actual arguments, so she could only ask him questions.
…This is less amusing than I thought it would be.
He would speak, parry, occasionally crush her argument, and otherwise make both of their arguments “irrelevant”. It took time, but it paved the way to victory.
Eventually, she would run out of arguments and questions.
When that happened, most of his opponents would say that ‘negotiations had broken down’ and justify their opposition.
But it was not that they had broken down. That was merely a means of saving face for those who had been unable to keep up with the accumulated arguments of Tsirhc Catholicism and had been unable to find a common point of view. And there was only one type of common point of view Innocentius would accept.
…One that stands on the side of Catholicism.
That massive sect had existed since ancient times. It would not waver in the face of others’ points of view. If it did waver, it would no longer be something the people of the world could rely on.
And so he would assume his opponent’s hostility while accepting their arguments yet rebutting them with one of his many arguments. After the fact, it would be clear he had not acted hostilely toward them.
His current opponent was walking down that path.
On the screen, he saw his opponent place a hand on her chin.
“It would appear we hold parallel points of view.”
Innocentius said nothing. If he agreed, it would mean he was lessening his efforts to unify their opinions.
Catholicism would not fall for its opponent’s invitation.
And so that opponent spoke once more.
“Then let me make myself clear.” She took a breath. “I accept that we – the Testament Union and us – have conflicting values. Your holiness, I believe you would agree with me there. Would I be correct in that assumption?”
“No. I believe we can reach an understanding if we continue this discussion.”
He gave an inward bitter smile as he said that.
…So it is time for the opponent to show clear opposition, is it?
She would now declare their separation using those “conflicting values” as the reason.
The way she had said it made it sound like neither side was willing to accept the other.
But that was not the case. Catholicism had not given up on achieving mutual understanding. He did not view understanding as a lost cause.
His opponent had simply claimed that it went both ways to justify her actions.
He could not allow her to escape by forcing responsibility of her own failure to understand on both of them.
“Listen,” he said. “We have time and we may not have another chance to have a relaxed conversation like this, so why not work at it until we reach an agreement? If we talk it out, I am sure we will reach an understanding. Am I wrong, hm?”
“I see.” His opponent formed a smile. “Are you saying we will eventually reach a path we can walk down together? We may be passing by each other now, but you believe we will eventually be able to walk together?”
“Testament. Exactly. We do not want to fight.”
What a farce, thought Innocentius with a nod. They try so hard to find a way to oppose us, but I seal that path as well.
He had shown that he absolutely believed they could come to an understanding. For negotiations to break down, his opponent would have to reject his stance of seeking mutual understanding and declare their opposition.
But Musashi’s vice president answered with a smile.
“That is good to hear.” Her smile remained as she spoke. “If you truly believe we can talk it out and reach an understanding no matter what we do, then you will work toward that understanding and not interfere with what we are about to do. That is a wonderful decision, your holiness.”
“What?” muttered Gin as the vice president displayed on the Tres Españan cadena firma looked to the right.
That vice president turned raised eyebrows toward the port side and waved her hand.
“Shirojiro! Work with the merchants on the starboard side to prepare for unified control of Musashi’s finances! To aid the reservations whose finances have been frozen, Musashi will use its own finances to make an unsecured loan of the amount frozen, handle all of the reservations’ internal financial transactions via divine transmission, and construct a means of handling everything on the Musashi!”
“Keep in mind the possibility of issuing a new currency. It is possible the Testament Union will suddenly release the frozen funds to create economic confusion!”
“Asama! Send Aki’s Itsukushima Shrine a written protest and a request to redo the summary succession confirmation! The official contracts between Mikawa’s Princess Horizon Ariadust and a shrine – that is, the birthplace contract with the shrine of her birthplace and the 2nd level resident contract with the shrine of her current residence – were both with the Asama Shrine as she was born on and lives on the Musashi. As such, her Shinto rituals should be performed at that shrine. Protest that it is a violation of your authority to have a crucial succession ritual done elsewhere when the Asama Shrine was so nearby. Also, request to have that treated as a ‘provisional contract’ and thus must be redone! If they refuse, it will mean Itsukushima is ignoring other shrines!”
Gin listened as the vice president shouted instructions.
“What?” she slowly but clearly spoke. “These interpretations are absurdly selfish!”
“Testament. We Catholics are well known for waiting until our opponent destroys themselves and this vice president is using it against the Papa-Schola.”
Muneshige touched the cadena firma and raised the cross-shaped volume slider.
“To ensure one does not become the aggressor and to ensure one’s enemy does, Catholics will reject that opponent yet they must accept that opponent alongside themselves. No matter what absurd thing that opponent tries to do, you reject it yet must allow it.”
Musashi’s vice president could be heard speaking with a smile in her voice.
“Musashi Ariadust understands that it holds three parallel views with the Testament Union.”
The vice president raised one finger.
“First, the Testament Union has frozen the reservations’ finances, so we will provide them with loans.”
She raised another finger.
“Second, the Testament Union has made Horizon Ariadust Mikawa’s ruler with a summary inheritance confirmation, so we have had the proper shrine send a protest and suspension.”
She raised another finger.
“And third, the Testament Union is insisting that an unrelated citizen commit suicide to take responsibility.”
The vice president was now looking at the people below her rather than the screen.
With three fingers raised, she spoke loudly so everyone could hear.
“So Musashi Ariadust Academy will send Horizon Ariadust a recommendation for enrollment and make her a student of Musashi in order to protect her from this misuse of the Testament’s history recreation!”
She took a breath.
“Only a student can oppose a student! The Far East has concluded that Horizon Ariadust’s status as a non-student led the Testament Union to grow overeager in their protection of the Testament descriptions! As such, Musashi Ariadust Academy shall make her a student and protect her in order to fulfill our parallel stance!”
Her cry quickly received a response.
Innocentius’s calm voice contained some static in the transmission.
“Nothing but sophistry.”
The vice president’s eyebrows rose as she stared from the screen.
Everyone gulped, but Muneshige let out a breath and adjusted his position in his seat.
“She understands. She must have footage of the Papa-Schola, but cadena firma can’t record footage, so she must be looking toward their Broadcast Committee’s film crew instead,” he said. “Now then. Sophistry is a nice word. And it’s also the first thing the Papa-Schola said in this argument.”
Masazumi looked toward her enemy who existed beyond the film crew.
“Your holiness, if you are saying you have been making sound arguments, it just means we have formed parallel views using what you view as sophistry.”
Just a bit further, she thought. Right now, it’s just sophistry.
It was nothing more than excuses meant to destroy her opponent’s words.
…But that destruction has begun.
When the pope-chancellor had been destroying her arguments with the exchange of counterarguments, two options had been available to her.
She could have chosen to grow angry and seek opposition.
Or she could have chosen to reject opposition and accept the pope-chancellor’s words.
Masazumi’s choice had essentially been a synthesis of the two. She had accepted that she understood the pope-chancellor while keeping his opinions as parallel views. And then she had justified her opposition.
But, she thought. I need to go just a bit further.
Presently, she had only stated their opposition. They might attempt to stop the Pope-Chancellor and the Testament Union, but they had not taken any measures to prevent the damage that would cause.
Any kind of fight would be done with no defense and it would leave behind a grudge.
She had to think about how to settle this without an actual fight.
…But he isn’t backing down.
As the Catholic leader, the Pope-Chancellor had to act as an example for those following him and thus he could not back down from someone opposing him.
…In that case…
That was when she heard a voice.
“You intend to protect your parallel views, don’t you?”
It was Innocentius’s calm voice.
…It can’t be.
She looked up with a look of realization.
The Pope-Chancellor spoke the words she could not.
“That is unfortunate. Listen. The Testament Union does not wish for conflict.”
Do you understand?
“And what view is parallel to that of not wishing for conflict?”
Those words took the parallel rails and made Musashi’s view a desire for conflict.
The people gathered on Musashi’s streets and plazas reacted to that.
They first showed slight confusion, exchanged glances, and finally…
An uneasy stir came over them all at once. It spread like a wave and caused the people to look up at Masazumi.
But Masazumi had a certain thought about that atmosphere that resembled fear.
…I was right.
She took a breath.
…He played the war card.
“We wish for peace, but it seems you and your parallel views see things differently? Isn’t that right?”
The man asked her a question.
She had two options: accept the conflict or surrender.
…What should I do?
The surrounding people looked up at her, awaiting her words.
Suddenly, Innocentius sat up a bit and smiled.
“If you retract your statements and surrender, we will overlook any spirit of opposition you might have shown.”
“We will free the finances of the reservations. And how about this?” he said. “We will return Musashi’s authority and permit its merger with Mikawa.”
He conceded some ground. He placed some bait to make it easier for her to surrender.
It was quite a concession.
Unfreezing the reservations’ finances would prevent the chaos of poverty and allow the reservations to continue existing. He was saying they would not take full control of the Far East via the natural destruction of the reservations.
That meant they would not lose everything.
Even if Musashi lost its authority, the presence of the reservations would give the people an option other than joining the ruling nation.
The Pope-Chancellor was saying they would gain a lot from surrendering here.
But Masazumi was still unsure.
…What is going on?
Even if it was only an unofficial verbal promise, wasn’t he going too far with this concession?
As she wondered why, she added another question.
…Why is he going this far to maintain Horizon’s suicide?
She did not understand and so she asked a question.
“Pope-Chancellor. Please think of this as a parallel view.” She spoke to Innocentius via the film crew. “I do not want to know the details of Horizon’s Logismoi Óplo.”
“Oh?” he replied. As he sat up in his chair, his right arm dangled down. “So you caught on. In that case, I will tell you. …As you must have suspected, we just received a report from Tres España concerning Horizon Ariadust’s Logismoi Óplo.”
As he spoke, he produced a six-winged female angel in a white cloak on his shoulder.
The super-deformed angel opened a cornice firma made of white crosses in front of his face. As she held the cornice firma up, he glanced down at it.
“Based on the internal data found during the inspection, the Logismoi Óplo sealed within Mikawa’s princess’s body is named P-01s or Ólos Phtonos. It is the Logismoi Óplo in charge of Phtonos or Envy, which was newly added when the seven deadly sins were created. As for what it does…”
Innocentius glanced toward her with narrowed eyes.
“It has no combat ability, but it can control all the other Logismoi Óplo. In other words, Ólos Phtonos is the controlling OS that gathers all of the Logismoi Óplo into a single weapon.”
“Do you understand what that means?” asked Innocentius over all the broadcasts. “The deadly sins are all said to correspond to a demon from the Age of the Gods. In Phtonos’s case, that is the Leviathan. That great dragon possesses aspects of all other beasts. It has no power itself and it envies all others, but it can gather all those other powers. Last night, Lord Motonobu of Mikawa said one could influence the apocalypse with the Logismoi Óplo, didn’t he?”
“But why did he give his own daughter the ability to control the gathered Logismoi Óplo? The Testament Union views that as the Far East rebelling in order to conquer the world. As you are forbidden to own weapons of mass destruction, the possession of Ólos Phtonos is illegal. And it also must be viewed as an intention to conquer the nations who possess the other Logismoi Óplo, don’t you think?”
“Do you still wish to rescue this princess? If you do, it will certainly lead to all-out war. Surely you did not think her Logismoi Óplo would be of some use. After all, Ólos Phtonos has no offensive ability and it shows your intention to gather the other weapons.”
Masazumi slowly took a deep breath.
…That does it.
Just as she had created a situation in which she could speak on an equal level, he had rejected her.
…If we rescue Horizon, it will mean an all-out war with the Testament Union.
On top of that, Horizon’s Logismoi Óplo did not possess the offensive power needed to stop their opponent.
Rescuing Horizon would not save them, but it would give their opponent a justification for war.
It was a unilateral disadvantage.
…What do I do?
Weighing the advantages against the disadvantages told her to not rescue Horizon.
“This was fun. It’s been a while since someone challenged me like this. If you ignore my energetic cousin, everyone around me either does what I say or says nothing.”
Wait, thought Masazumi. Don’t just bring this to an end.
Having her name suddenly called made her gulp.
She was the vice president of Musashi’s Student Council. The Testament Union had investigated her during the election, so it was not surprising that he knew about her. What bothered her was why he was calling her name.
“It is very strange. You are saying we should accept errors in the history recreation, but is that because you and your father failed to inherit historical names and no interpretations were used to save you?”
She reflexively embraced her own chest.
She could see the people gathered below the stairs and on the street looking up at her. They did not immediately understand what Innocentius had meant and they stared at her with eyes that asked her if it was true or not.
With countless suspicious gazes on her, she felt something cold on her back.
But then more words came. They were spoken with Innocentius’s amused tone of voice.
“Isn’t that right? A failed inheritor like you would want to oppose the strict actions of a name-inheritor like me even without a good reason.”
Wait, she thought. Don’t decide that for me.
…I want to be a politician…
She was not standing here out of simple rebelliousness and yet this man was defining her actions for her.
“Isn’t that right, Honda Masazumi? There are times when you want to reject the natural course of the world. After all…”
“In your attempt to inherit a name, you began a sex-change operation, but you failed to inherit the name partway through.”
He said it.
“You had your breasts removed, but everything else remains unchanged, isn’t that right? You remain an incomplete girl, but you dress like a boy despite not inheriting the name. Why is that? You have hidden your failed name inheritance and your true identity. Why has a fake like you come to this place where one must earn people’s trust? You believe your lies are acceptable as long as they are not found out and I can only assume you are drunk on the power and that you merely wish to oppose the authority of inherited names.”
A cold sweat covered her body. As she wrapped her arms around herself, she remained perfectly still without even trembling.
…I do not believe my lies are acceptable and I am not drunk on power.
She denied the accusations in her heart, but the people before her only stared silently at her.
However, she could tell their gazes were different now. Innocentius’s words had changed those gazes into something else.
It was over.
The people would now look at her in a fundamentally different way.
A small number of people knew she was a girl and that she had undergone a sex change operation.
But most of the people gathered here, focusing on her, and listening to what was said did not know. Nor did they know why she was hiding that she was a girl.
She had her own reasons for wearing a male uniform.
She felt she did not look right in a female uniform after removing her breasts and she felt wrong wearing a uniform meant for a girl after trying to change her body.
As her breasts would never return, she had thought about eventually completing the sex change process.
But most people did not know that. And arguing about it here would be meaningless. After all, it was true that she had failed to inherit a name and that she was hiding her body. Also, she had not earned enough trust for people to accept her rebuttal.
She knew how people reacted when they learned the truth of her body. It had happened a lot at Mikawa. Countless times, they had started avoiding her and became unnecessarily considerate.
…That is why I started reading books and doing other things to make being alone easier.
After she had lost her mother, she had quickly decided to move to Musashi.
In Musashi, the truth had spread through the girls of her class. She had needed to reveal it during the Student Council election and the physical examinations.
Of course, all of them had made sure not to spread the information.
However, that was being presented as her spreading sedition among the people while keeping that secret.
And on top of that…
“Honda Masazumi. You did well. I really think so.”
He clapped his hands as he spoke. She wondered what he meant, but her gaze had dropped and she could do nothing but hold her own body and listen to him speak.
“I have an idea. If you take back everything you have said, I will give you a position within the Testament Union.”
“I will also guarantee the safety of those with a connection to you as well as the reservations of Musashi residents. I promise they will be treated well in the nations they join. You may have failed to inherit a name, but I, the Papa-Schola, will give you this honor.”
…He’s giving me a way out.
He had first revealed the truth of her body to distance her from everyone else.
But then he had closed that gap by praising her confrontation and saying her actions here would ensure the favorable treatment of the people.
Currently, he stood between her and the people.
“You have shown opposition, made harsh decisions to make up for your losses, and hid what kind of person you are, but how about we wipe the slate clean? And to do that, how about you retract everything you said and bring all these troubles to an end, hm?”
She heard him speak.
“What will you do? Musashi Representative Honda Masazumi, for the sake of peace, give me your…”
Before he could say “answer”, another voice spoke up from in front of Masazumi.
She looked up in surprise when she heard Aoi’s voice.
In front of her was the sky, the countless sign frames showing Innocentius’s face, and the crowd of Musashi people looking up at her.
But a dejected face stood in front of them all.
“Hey, hey, Seijun! Are you really a girl!?”
…Wait. Wasn’t that information given out during the Student Council election?
From the look on his face, it seemed he had not read the information even if it had been.
And then he raised a finger toward her.
A serious expression replaced his smile.
“W-wait just a second, okay!?”
“Wh-what is it?”
As she frowned as if to say “hurry it up”, he turned toward everyone else and raised his finger as if trying to lead them.
“Okay, time to check!”
“Eh? Ah, wait!”
She had a vague idea what he was going to do, so she frantically covered her chest.
But Aoi did something else this time.
He crouched down and held his arms forward as if planning to tackle her.
He suddenly grabbed her pants and pulled them down to her ankles.
As Masazumi froze in place while holding her chest, Toori flipped up the bottom of her shirt to reveal what lay beneath.
“Ah, your inner’s panties are the female type that uses strings. They don’t sell just the bottom very often.”
As she lightly rubbed her thighs together, a white cloth was visible at the point where the skin of her inner thigh joined together.
As he crouched down, Toori ignored the people gesturing for him to move out of the way so they could see. He stuck his right palm between her legs and raised it.
As Masazumi came back to her senses, Toori touched her underwear.
As Toori continued to move, her face grew redder and redder.
She frantically closed her legs, but it was too late. He continued on.
As she cried out, she tightened her elbows while covering her chest and frowned.
She groaned, but quickly shook her head and adjusted.
“Wh-what do you think you’re doing!?”
Toori responded by slowly and calmly standing up.
The force of the sudden action caused her to take a frantic half-step backwards, but Toori went on to turn around and look across the gathered crowd. He then tilted his body as if to stare at them all again.
“Totally a girl!”
Everyone let out an excited cheer.
Meanwhile, Masazumi ignored her disheveled bangs and spoke.
“Y-you idiot, wh-what are you-…”
Just as she frantically grabbed her pants and tried to pull them up to the hard points at her waist, Toori turned around and used both hands to touch her chest which was left defenseless due to grabbing her pants with both hands.
Toori clearly pressed in against her chest while she motionlessly gasped again.
After a moment, he turned toward the crowd once more and gave two thumbs up.
“Nice flat chest!”
For some reason, the people let out an even greater cheer than before.
Finally, Toori turned toward Masazumi.
“So what was that he said? You had some kind of surgery!?”
“Um, well… I don’t feel like dealing with this, so go sit over there.”
As she narrowed her eyes too much and saw nothing but white, Toori shook his head and body as a sign of refusal. He then spoke to her again.
“Were you that desperate to have a flat chest!? Do you love flat chests that much!? Do you!?”
Masazumi kneed him in the gut.
Masazumi tried to stomp on the idiot as he writhed on the ground, but he crawled speedily away.
And so she spoke instead.
“Th-there are some things you don’t say to people!”
“But looking at the result, you did become a guy! You got a flat chest!”
“No, that isn’t what happened.”
“Oh? It isn’t? Then are you saying you have huge breasts!?”
“What kind of false dichotomy is that?” muttered the crowd, but Masazumi thought there was more to the issue.
“B-but there are people who worry about that kind of thing!” she said.
“Oh? Are you saying you’re one of those people? If so, I apologize. You can take revenge by groping my flat chest and sticking your hand into my crotch. …How about it?”
That direct question led her to think.
It had certainly bothered her. After all, she had been driven to tears in the graveyard while recalling the past.
But now she had had her pants pulled down, the area between her legs touched, and her chest touched.
“Well, Seijun? Do you worry about your body?”
“Right now, overall rage is winning out over any individual worry!!”
She had indeed removed her breasts and she had heard her body could never be returned to normal. That was why she had cast aside herself as a girl and focused on politics. Yet now this idiot was asking her about it.
“Can you have kids?”
“What? …Oh, yes. I didn’t go that far with the surgery. But I removed my breasts and if I ever did have a child…”
When she told them the truth, what would the child think and what look would she see on the child’s face?
“Don’t worry!” said Aoi. “A flat chested woman’s kid will grow up to love flat chests!!”
“And who told you that!? The voices in your head!? Some distant part of the heavens!?”
“Don’t be stupid. I know you can do a good job, so I’m just saying any kid you raise will definitely love you.”
That isn’t true, she thought. My father…
She started to say he was wrong, but he cut her off.
“All of Horizon’s emotions and stuff were made into the Logismoi Óplo,” he said with an embarrassed smile. “And now they’re saying she has to commit suicide as the ruler of Mikawa. I think her dad had to be a horrible person to create a situation like this. But still… If he’d hated Horizon, he would have made all of her into the Logismoi Óplo without leaving her soul.”
He turned his smile toward Masazumi.
“I don’t know what things are like between you and your dad. But you don’t stop your carriage in the middle of work for someone you hate or don’t care about, so I know there’s something there. Of course, I know he’s an annoying old man, so he might be a pain to deal with,” he said. “But that just means you need to make up for it by doing a good job with your own kid.”
Masazumi felt a warmth inside her stomach and it quickly rose to her face.
She understood what he was saying to her. But…
“D-don’t be stupid. Wh-who ever said anything about having a child. For one thing, do you really think I can get married with a body like this!?”
“Okay, who here loves flat chests!?”
On the port side, Ohiroshiki threw his hand into the air.
“I do! I do!”
“Okay, I was just asking!”
Cold gazes turned toward Ohiroshiki.
“Eh? A-agh! I was the only one to fall for it again! No fair! This is just silly!! And you’re all mistaken! Honda-kun is over ten, so she’s too old!”
“Quit trying to hide your embarrassment. And Seijun gets a say, so think about her feelings too. Plus, no one else is going to raise their hand once you start so forcefully. Honestly, you act like that question is the most important thing in the world.”
Masazumi saw quite a few people nodding in response.
…There are a lot of people who like that kind of thing. Not that that solves the problem.
As she thought, a voice came from the broadcast.
“How long are you going to continue with this nonsense?”
It was Innocentius.
After Innocentius’s words brought silence, he continued speaking.
“How about we stay on topic? Honda Masazumi, I believe we have already determined what we each have to gain in our discussion.”
His deep voice put Masazumi on guard. The negotiation was not over.
…And I’m at the disadvantage.
The man continued with a suggestion.
“Honda Masazumi, I have a suggestion as thanks for the enjoyment you have given me here.”
“…What is it?”
“If you retract everything you have said here, I will recognize your accurate decision and allow you your inherited name.”
She wondered what look was on her father’s face at the moment.
“The Testament Union and the Far East will engage in many negotiations from now on. During those negotiations, you will be able to help the people of the Far East if you possess a connection to me. And if you successfully inherit a historical name, we will have no issues with speaking officially with you or introducing you to others. Also, the people of Musashi would feel more secure if they were represented by someone with an inherited name, would they not? How about it? Am I wrong?”
“If you do this, the state of your body will not have been for nothing.”
…This is the final push.
It would benefit Musashi, the people of the Far East, and herself.
But, she thought. Something about this bothers me.
…What is it?
She could not put it in words well, but she felt she should say something.
“Ahh!? What do you think you’re saying!?”
The idiot moved in front of her and boldly pointed at the sign frame in the sky rather than the film crew.
“You… Yeah, you! Stop bullying Seijun!”
With every word, he jabbed his finger toward the image of the person he spoke to.
“Y’know what!? I…! I hate…! I really, reeeeeally hate people like you!!!!”
What is this idiot saying now? wondered Masazumi.
Aoi’s words left Masazumi speechless, but he continued on.
“I don’t really know the details, but Seijun’s been worrying about this inherited name stuff and this stuff about her body for a long time! It’s been a real big deal!”
Masazumi felt he was going too far with that, but she felt something similar to embarrassment inside her.
Meanwhile, he raised both arms.
“Listen. Lately, Seijun has almost never been showing up to class! She’s a poor girl who’s on the verge of dropping out of the Academy! She keeps going to the graveyard to sit all alone and hum to herself!”
“And right after transferring here, she was faced by the breast success stories of Asama, Masa, and my sis! Her belief in flat chests was shaken and she started to have second thoughts about the alterations she had made in the secret underground facility of the Church of the Flat Chest. Yesterday, it got so bad it interfered with her meditation!”
“Wait just a minute.”
Her protest caused the idiot to turn toward her, raise his eyebrows, and shout back in a falsetto voice.
“You keep quiet! Your mother will not let that idiot get away with this!”
Wait, wait, wait, she thought as he turned back toward Innocentius’s face.
For a moment, Aoi remained perfectly still.
Finally, he turned back toward Masazumi with a frown.
He pointed toward Innocentius’s face.
“Who is this guy anyway?”
As everyone cried out, Masazumi frantically answered him.
“You don’t know!? That’s the Pope-Chancellor! You need to know these things! He may never stop talking, but he’s really important!”
“Ehh? But I never bother to remember guys’ names. Oh! Maybe that’s why I instinctively remembered your name.”
“If your instincts are that good, try using your brain for once!!”
“Instincts are important, you know?” The idiot folded his arms and began his explanation. “For example, I thought there was something wrong with me, but it turns out I’m perfectly normal.”
“In what possible way are you normal?”
“I’d thought you were a guy with a nice slender waist, but whenever you walk or climb the stairs, the way you shake your butt made the beast inside me wag its tail and stick out its tongue. I felt like I had to tell myself to stay. Quite the wild beast, aren’t I?”
“Have you ever thought how it feels to be the one you say these things to?”
“Don’t worry about it. …No, do worry about it! It’s you I’m talking about! Anyway, since I was reacting to a guy’s butt, I thought my gauge had increased so far that I’d unlocked a hidden gauge, but it turns out you’re actually a girl. That means there wasn’t anything wrong with me getting a bit excited.”
“There is definitely something wrong with it!”
“Really? …Hey, all you guys out there! When a good-looking girl is walking all feminine-like in front of you, how many of you aren’t drawn to her butt?”
All of the male residents of Musashi exchanged a glance. And…
“Okay, I win!”
As she cried out, a voice she had forgotten about returned.
“Such nonsense.” After the deep noise of Innocentius’s sigh, he continued. “Are you bringing this idiot into this to prevent a proper conclusion now that you know you are at a disadvantage?”
“N-no. I was…”
“What!?” cut in the idiot. “What are you talking about, you big idiot!?”
He might as well be picking a fight now, thought Masazumi while unable to say anything.
Aoi on the other hand, spoke.
“Listen! Listen up! I’ve been listening to you and Seijun this whole time and I don’t get what you’ve been talking about!”
“You don’t? Are you sure your view is not tinted by your hostility?”
“That’s not it, you giant idiot!!” declared Aoi. “I’m just hopelessly stupid is all! That’s why I had to have someone else give my answers for me this whole time! I want to rescue Horizon so I can confess to her, but I needed someone to tell me if I could do it! And if so, how! Having someone else tell me was the only way!”
“Seijun is our representative! Our vice president! I had her figure out what exactly it was I wanted to do and she found the answer! There may be some downsides, but it isn’t impossible! That was an answer I couldn’t give! It was an answer our money-lover, author wannabe, and my sis couldn’t give! So…” He took a breath. “I’ll support Seijun! No matter what anyone else says about her or anything else, she gave me my answer! She was the only one who gave me my answer! Nothing else matters to me! And that’s why I’ll definitely – definitely! – support what she said! Nothing will change my mind!”
Aoi pointed forcefully at Innocentius’s face.
“Compared to that, who do you think you are, old man? You’ve been making all sorts of complaints and saying all sorts of nice-sounding things, but it all comes down to wanting to kill Horizon! You haven’t given me any answer other than that!”
“Mr. Impossible,” said Innocentius while looking directly at Aoi. “Did you give any thought to what the people of Musashi and the Far East think about going to war?”
“Don’t change the subject!!” shouted Aoi. “I haven’t forgotten what Seijun said at the beginning! You’re…um…what was it? Oh, right! You’re trying to kill someone unrelated to the incident! And that’s wrong!!”
“Do you understand why it is wrong?”
“I understood it back when she explained it!”
Masazumi heard the crowd muttering, “Is that really enough?”
It really isn’t, she thought.
“Don’t worry, old man! Seijun still understands!”
…Is this idiot trusting me or forcing responsibility onto me?
She was not sure.
…But he’s supporting me.
She understood one thing. She had felt she was only doing what she was supposed to.
…But he felt it had real meaning.
She now had a vague understanding of that irresponsible boy and his connection to the others. Until now, she had thought he was a hopeless person who could not do anything. She had not been entirely wrong about that.
…But that is exactly why he trusts people.
He would give absolute support toward anything she did.
He would fearlessly shout his support even when faced with the leader of the Catholics.
…Who else would do that?
As she silently asked that question, she heard him speak in front of her.
“Seijun, answer me this. This old man won’t shut up about what we have to gain or lose, but will your plan cancel out all of the negatives once it’s put together?”
“Y-yes. It will require a lot of cooperation, but the reservations can be supported with loans from Musashi.”
“And what about that stuff about joining the countries ruling the reservations?”
“If we win, that will be taken care of. But my specialty is politics, so I can’t say anything about the battles.”
She received a response from the port side.
“I believe that will not be a problem!”
It was Mitotsudaira.
Masazumi turned around in surprise. Mitotsudaira had her arms crossed as she stared sharply at Innocentius behind Masazumi.
“Oh, the heir of Mito Matsudaira. Are you supporting this rebellion against the Testament Union?”
“No. I am merely admonishing the Testament Union for going too far.”
She lowered her head slightly, but the strength in her gaze was the same when she looked back up.
“Even if this does develop into an all-out war with the Testament Union, we will not be fighting every nation at once. Musashi can move and use its stealth mode. We can choose our battlefields and we can move to areas not fully controlled by the Testament Union. Also…” She smiled. “The only enemies on the current battlefield are the declining Tres Españans and K.P.A. Italia who are acting as their bodyguards. The initial battle is not hopeless and, if we win here, some forces will likely recognize our value.”
“And do you understand what will happen if you do that, hm?” Innocentius slowly asked his question. “The Testament Union will no longer protect the reservations. What do you have to say about that?”
This was likely Innocentius’s final reminder and it brought a certain thought to Masazumi’s mind.
…This is it.
She made up her mind. She knew what she had to say to the Pope-Chancellor.
…That leads nicely into the final step of the countermeasure I thought up this morning.
She had finally arrived here.
…In that case…
Earlier, she might have hesitated to say it.
But now she had no reason to doubt herself.
She had someone who would support her. It may have only been one person in the entire world, but it was someone.
“Seijun, tell me.”
“What is it, you idiot?”
“Well, if we rescue Horizon, we gain stuff by avoiding foreign rule and gaining independence with that sovereignty thing.”
Masazumi listened to his question.
“But what do the other nations gain from us rescuing Horizon?”
“Aoi Toori.” She answered quietly, certainly, and directly. “Let me say one thing first. We will almost certainly have conflicts with the other nations; but we must never forget to wish, and do everything we can to ensure, that we do not die and that we do not let anyone else die. We must use politics, economics, religion, strategy, tactics, weaponry, negotiations, business deals, and anything else we can. We must never forget to do all of that in order avoid death and distribute the burden of responsibility among everyone.”
She faced forward toward the crowd gathered on the Musashi. She nodded once and then began speaking.
“No one will have to let Horizon die. That is the greatest gain that is common to the entire world. And it acts as the preparation for the other benefits and our justification.” She breathed cold air into her lungs. “By merging with Mikawa and rescuing Horizon Ariadust, Musashi can act as the sovereign power of the Far East.”
“Are you saying you will abandon the reservations? Is that it? Well?”
“No, we will not abandon the reservations.” She shook her head. “Musashi is now announcing that the Far Eastern reservations will temporarily become independent self-governed cities. They will be neutral areas where no distinction is made between religion and combat is forbidden. That frees the reservations from Musashi’s political decisions. To state it another way, the reservations are now free markets.”
She took a breath.
“And in exchange for recognizing the reservations’ independence and self-governance, Musashi will bind a contract to act as their voluntary guard ship. If any battle is begun within a reservation or a reservation is being invaded, Musashi will strike back at the corresponding nation with an action deemed equal.”
“With the reservations neutral, Musashi itself will act independently as the sovereign power of the Far East.”
“Why would you do that!? Why do you want to gain sovereignty and escape our rule!? What do we gain from this and what is your justification!?”
Masazumi boldly answered the Pope-Chancellor’s question.
“We will explain and resolve the Apocalypse by gathering the Logismoi Óplo.”
Masazumi clearly stated the final part of the conclusion she had reached that morning. This was their greatest justification against the Testament Union and everyone else.
“Musashi swears it will gather the Logismoi Óplo around Horizon Ariadust, work to resolve the Apocalypse, and seek no reward for doing so! This is a process that should be carried out on a worldwide scale; but we will prevent any nations from using it to their advantage and it will prevent intensified conflict between nations due to the gathering of the Logismoi Óplo!!”
In other words…
“We will act to save everyone from a worldwide crisis!”
“Nonsense!” roared Innocentius over the divine transmission. “You will possess weapons of mass destruction? Do you really think you have the right to do that!?”
“We do!” Masazumi spread her arms and opened her mouth wide to speak loudly. “The Logismoi Óplo are Horizon Ariadust’s stolen emotions, so they rightfully belong to her! They may currently exist as individual weapons of mass destruction, but do not forget that they are nothing but her expressions of emotion once they are in her possession!”
Innocentius tried to say something, but Masazumi ignored him.
“We request the return of the Logismoi Óplo which were created by stealing her emotions.”
She continued to speak while feeling relieved that she had reached the end.
“As Musashi Ariadust Academy’s representative, I will make an announcement here. Musashi does not wish for conflict with the other nations and we request assistance in resolving the Apocalypse! But if you obstruct our Apocalypse resolution, intensify the conflict over the Logismoi Óplo, or insist on holding on to a girl’s stolen emotions, Musashi will challenge you to a student-to-student confrontation as established in the academy rules!”
“I see,” said a voice over the broadcast.
The voice reached every nation in the world. It had an image in some places and it was filled with static in some places, but its meaning arrived all the same.
“Negotiations truly have broken down, haven’t they? These are no longer parallel views.”
The hard noise of snapping fingers was heard.
“Galileo, do it.”
Asama listened to Innocentius while supporting Suzu’s back.
…Do it? Do what?
Suddenly, Suzu trembled and turned her head to the left.
Asama reacted by moving Suzu to the right to protect her and looking to the left.
She shouted toward the port side. In that direction lay the schoolyard and a pool surrounded by a bamboo fence.
A large black body stood in front of it. A red demon wore a male K.P.A. Italia uniform with a black cloak over it. He also wore glasses.
“I am Galileo, vice chancellor of K.P.A. Italia.”
An instant later, something moved.
It was Urquiaga whose blue and white shell was just as large as Galileo.
He instantly expanded the flight wings on his back and the accelerators under his arms. He spread his arms and lowered his body.
With those words, he began in a forward-leaning pose.
His face was turned directly toward the demon.
He pulled a giant pair of pliers from his pocket. It was divided into a left and right part and he held one in each hand while thrusting them forward.
He was a half-dragon. Specifically, he was a race produced by flying dragons that evolved into a humanoid form.
…His race can fly.
He initially gained speed by compressing the air within his body and expelling his Dragon Breath from the accelerators on various parts of his body. He would then use his forward motion to aid his air intake and provide even greater pressure to the Dragon Breath.
A dragon’s weapon was his mass and sturdy shell, but Urquiaga held a weapon in his hands.
He blew away a cloud of dust and accelerated.
The half-dragon Inquisitor skimmed across the ground as he flew.
His flight was instantaneous and he would reach his target in no time.
“Oh?” said Galileo in response, but he could not evade in time.
But the expected sound of impact never came.
Urquiaga looked beyond the cloud of dust that swept in from behind him.
Beyond his arms were the combined pliers that looked like a giant pair of tongs. From what he had learned in his classes…
…This interrogation tool should not be used on humans because they will give in too quickly!
However, it was useful against those with shells because it could crack that tough outer shell. It was also useful for holding them in place. Standard practice was to use his momentum to capture the target within the tool and then twist it.
The pliers would not budge when he tried to twist them.
He looked at the front of the pliers.
“No. This is a battaglia martello.”
Beyond the cloud of dust, the demon held a black hammer in his left hand. It was meant for human use, but it was no different from a staff in the demon’s thick arm.
But oddly enough, Urquiaga’s pliers were not reaching the war hammer.
Just before reaching the rib-like design of the hammer, the two rectangular tips of the pliers were stopped in midair by some sort of power.
…No, wait! Has it lost its power!?
He poured all his strength into the grip, yet the tip of the pliers remained free and only opened and closed ever so slightly.
A meter was visible on the top of the war hammer. The meter was filled with the color red and it was obviously producing some kind of spell effect.
“Do not tell me…”
“I see you have caught on.” Galileo nodded deeply and opened his fang-filled mouth. “This is Stithos Porneia, the Logismoi Óplo left with K.P.A. Italia. I am not its official user and am only borrowing it, but it will still show its power against an individual.”
He then explained its effect.
“At its current output, I suppose you could say it strips away all power that comes into contact with it and then plays with it.”
In an instant, the pliers came apart in Urquiaga’s hands. But they did not simply separate into the left and right portion. The grip, the latch on the bottom of the grip, and everything else came apart as well.
As the half-dragon gasped, Galileo laughed from deep in his throat.
“Anything that controls power gives up its power and is played with. Charming, isn’t it?”
That question was followed by a shout from Urquiaga. He ignored the demon before him as he raised his voice.
An instant before Urquiaga’s cry, a figure leaped from behind him.
Urquiaga shouted the name of the one who roughly wore a male uniform without the upper inner suit and with a cloth wrapped around his stomach.
“You don’t have to call my name.”
Noriki ran toward Galileo’s right, the side not holding Stithos Porneia. His step rotated his body to swiftly bring his slender body to Galileo’s right side.
He lightly tapped the rough cloth wrapped around his right arm.
One of the charms inserted within the cloth reacted.
“Internal Connection: Suwa Shrine. Spell: Creation Registration 031: Confirmed.”
At the same time, a green torii-style spell emblem appeared from his right elbow to the tip of his fist.
“Created Spell ‘March’: Activate.”
With his right elbow bent down in a compact stance, he swung his body to the left.
And he slammed his fist into Galileo’s side.
He poured all his strength into the blow. All of his weight was behind it.
A clear sound rang out.
“Oh? Is that all?”
As Galileo’s question would suggest, Noriki’s fist had struck the demon’s side and then stopped.
But it had not stopped due to Stithos Porneia’s power.
“You did not so much as shake my outer shell, much less break through. …Your aim was good. A demon’s shell and scales are smaller on the side so we can twist our body. A strike to this more flexible spot can directly reach our organs.”
“But it seems your fist was too light. Not only are you skinny, but you are weak and the multiple layers of scales and shell on my side dispersed the impact. It seems that spell strengthened the impact, but you used it against the K.P.A. Italia landing team commander last night, didn’t you? Did you forget how ineffectual it was there? I believe that was the same. Your fist is just too light.”
“You don’t have to say what I already know.”
“What teacher does not give a thorough explanation to a student? Then again, given your build, weight, and speed, you simply lack the strength needed to get through to my body. You would need about three times the strength you have now.”
As Galileo spoke, Noriki moved away from him and prepared for another punch.
“Are you unable to learn?”
As soon as Galileo said that, Urquiaga let go of his pliers.
“I will be taking this back!”
His hands shot forward with the energy of a punch, but they were reaching for the hammer in the demon’s arm.
That Logismoi Óplo contained the emotion corresponding to the deadly sin of Porneia or lust. What would happen if he retrieved it?
Toori shouted over from the bridge.
“Uqui! Get it!! That’ll probably make Horizon all sexual!! I want it so bad!”
“Stop trying to talk me out of it!!”
But Galileo had already reacted. He ignored Noriki as the boy tried to punch him and he focused on Urquiaga’s actions. He raised three clawed fingers on his right hand.
That word was followed by a certain phenomenon.
Urquiaga and Noriki were suddenly slammed to the ground. And…
The school yard was blown away in an arc with Galileo in the center.
Masazumi watched Galileo who stood in the schoolyard.
Only wind and dust surrounded him.
Urquiaga and Noriki who had stood to his front and right respectively now lay behind him.
They were both lying face down and seemed able to move, but they must have taken damage.
Neither one immediately stood up.
Not only had they been slammed to the ground, but they had been forcibly moved around the schoolyard. Their muscles had been strained and their organs and inner ears had been unable to keep up. They would be unable to stand for a while.
…But what was that?
As she thought, Galileo had already turned toward the others who were taking defensive stances.
She heard Innocentius’s voice from the sky behind her where a sign frame was presumably displaying his face.
“C’mon, Galileo. Don’t let them take it from you. I trusted you with that.”
“Are you not going to rebuke me for using a heretical spell?”
“Write a paper denying heliocentrism later. That will make up for it.”
“Then I will do what I can now.”
As he spoke, Galileo looked up.
He looked across everyone on the port side and suddenly stopped his gaze on Ohiroshiki who was a bit port of the center.
“Yes. You will do.”
“Ehhhh!? This just isn’t my lucky day, is it!? Everyone, everyone! Help me! Please help me!! …Ah, why are you all moving away!? Stop it!”
“Ah ha ha. Ga-chan, don’t you think we should watch someone else get slammed to better grasp the situation?”
“That’s right, Margot. Make sure to watch carefully. The slow and short one dying first is the standard pattern with these things. And if it follows the pattern, it means everything is staying within our expectations!!”
“You people are horrible!”
Hearing Ohiroshiki’s shout of protest, Masazumi wondered if everyone was sure of their victory or if they were just naturally like this.
But then Noriki began to move. Without brushing off the dirt, he forced himself to his feet, held up the emblem on his arm, and tried to punch Galileo.
But Galileo held up his palm and spoke something.
Suddenly, Galileo stood behind the others. It had all happened in an instant.
“A movement technique!?”
It was not a teleportation technique. The wind and dust surrounding him and trailing after his path were proof enough of that.
But his position was dangerous. He stood below the bridge and a demon’s strength put him only a jump away.
He made the jump. The muscles of his massive body allowed him to lightly hop onto the railing of the bridge.
“I finally made it. Hm. This is my first time seeing Musashi’s representative up close.”
The demon shrugged as he looked down on Masazumi from a distance of five meters. He was over three meters tall and standing on the railing, so it felt like he was directly in front of her.
He then held out his right hand.
“That discussion was quite amusing. …But class is now over.”
Everyone down below took action, but Masazumi could tell they were not going to make it in time.
She was up high. Naruze and Naito could fly up to her, but it took time for their wings to take in air and pressurize it.
Tenzou the ninja could likely jump up to them, but he was on the port side of the schoolyard because he had tried to follow up Urquiaga and Noriki’s attacks.
That meant no one was going to make it in time. The technique that defeated Noriki and Urquiaga would strike her.
…I need to escape!
Just as she thought that, Galileo started to swing his right arm.
At that moment, she felt two things.
First, Aoi grabbed her body from the side as if tackling her.
“C’mon, that’s dangerous!”
And he pushed her to the ground.
Second, she felt a wind.
The wind blew up from the bottom of the stairs and washed over her.
Just as she wondered what was happening, a white light raced by.
As Masazumi lay on top of the bridge leading to the academy, she saw a certain sight.
The butt end of a spear had struck the right arm of the black-cloaked demon standing on the bridge railing.
The wind that had flown into the area was actually a spear-wielding girl with her black hair tied in a ponytail.
“I am Honda Futayo, commander of the Far East’s Guard Unit,” she said.
That name caused Masazumi to move from where she lay on the bridge. Aoi lay on top of her to protect her, but she frantically tried to knock him away.
“Futayo!? …Aoi! Don’t! Touch! Me!!”
“I’m on top of you, so stop asking the impossible.”
“Get off of me!!”
She kicked him off, moved away from him, and stood up as the idiot rolled away.
She looked toward the back of the female warrior standing between her and the demon.
“Is that you, Futayo!?”
“Masazumi. …I have not seen you since middle school.”
But Futayo did not turn toward her. As she wondered why, she heard Galileo speak from beyond Futayo.
“Are you trying to interfere?”
“Which one of us is doing the interfering?”
No one on the bridge or the schoolyard answered those questions. The response came from the people of Musashi gathered below the stairs in front of the school. Masazumi heard voices coming from far below the stairs behind her.
The surprised voices changed to cheers.
As she turned toward the commotion, she saw Aoi was already looking down the stairs.
Wondering what was causing these voices, she followed his gaze and saw two people climbing the stairs.
And Aoi called out to them.
“Hey, hey! Is that We and We’s wife!? Are you two on a walk!?”
“Show some respect! We are Musashi King Yoshinao!”
Yoshinao had already passed by the film crew standing on the stairs. His wife accompanied him while dressed as a queen of the era would dress.
“We hope all of you have not forgotten that we still hold the authority of the Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council!”
“Oh. You took our authority and tried to attract everyone’s attention, but we completely forgot about you so now you’re taking center stage yourself? I understand. You’re something like an unpopular performer.”
“How dare you speak that way towards us!? How dare you!?”
“Okay, okay, okay.” Masazumi stepped in between Yoshinao and Aoi. “Calm down, calm down. Um, Musashi King, what do you need?”
“We are here to admonish you students for your reckless actions, Honda-kun!”
Oh, he knows who I am, she realized.
The Far East’s Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council swapped out every year, so it was not uncommon for people to remember faces but not names.
Meanwhile, Yoshinao arrived at the top of the stairs while holding his wife’s hand.
“Papa-Schola. If you can hear us, then please have Galileo leave.”
“Oh? And what are you going to do? The Musashi King holds the right to veto the decisions made by the Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council, but you cannot take part in a student dispute as you are not a student.”
Yoshinao spoke with his back to the film crew.
“We have the Guard Unit commander who is acting as our bodyguard.”
Masazumi turned toward Futayo’s back. She had not moved, but Galileo had lowered his arm and taken a step back.
And then Yoshinao continued speaking.
“This is Honda Tadakatsu’s daughter and she was personally trained by him. She is armed with the divine weapon Tonbokiri which was a prototype for the Logismoi Óplo. We shall see if any of the students here can defeat such a great warrior.”
“And will you return their authority if she loses? Musashi King, what proof do you have that this girl warrior is not in league with Musashi’s students? Well?”
“Wait a second, old man! Don’t treat us like these cosplay people!”
Masazumi kicked him away.
The idiot rotated thrice, struck the railing, and broke through it.
She looked slightly surprised at this unexpectedly over-the-top result.
“I feel like I should ask… Are you okay?”
“Eh? Y-yeah, don’t worry about it. That was due to my boke spell, so I’m perfectly fine!”
Really? she wondered, but she could see there was not even a scratch on him.
She felt constant protection would be more convenient than a spell using charms, but she also felt she would catch his idiocy if she delved too deeply into it.
“In other words, King Yoshinao, you want Futayo to fight one of us?”
She felt that was absurd. She knew how strong Futayo was from her time in Mikawa.
They had not been together in middle school, but they had often been compared due to the identical family name.
Masazumi had failed to inherit a historical name, but it was said Futayo would certainly continue in Lord Tadakatsu’s footsteps.
Tadakatsu may have died, but Futayo had received Tonbokiri.
“My special movement technique was unable to keep up with Tres España’s Tachibana Muneshige.”
Masazumi saw the guard unit gathered by the school building’s entrance. They were looking at Futayo worriedly, but they said nothing.
They must have been unable to stand having Futayo as an enemy.
And another person walked forward from behind them. It was Oriotorai.
“Things sure have gotten complicated while I just watched on.” She clapped her hands. “The debate between Masazumi and Aoi was interrupted by the Pope-Chancellor, but I say they’ve both shown equally solid standpoints. That’s fine, right?”
She then turned toward the Broadcast Committee’s film crew to face the Pope-Chancellor.
“This is an internal issue of Musashi Ariadust Academy, so I must ask for students from other academies to stay out of it.”
“I will be more careful in the future.”
“Judge.” Oriotorai nodded. “Now, time for an extra round. How about we get the fourth round started?”
She turned toward Futayo and nodded. Futayo nodded back and took a breath.
“If you cannot defeat me, know that your blades will never reach the enemy. If you cannot do that…”
She turned toward Masazumi. Behind her, Galileo also glanced toward Masazumi for an instant.
Wind wrapped around him and he vanished.
Next, the afternoon wind blew in. It shook Futayo’s hair. That hair blew against Tonbokiri’s blade and was cut.
“If you cannot do that, I will cut through all of your hopes and dreams.”
“Who will be my opponent!?”
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