Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 05

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Chapter 05: Those Reunited Under the Fair Sky[edit]

Horizon1A 175.jpg

At that time

To that person

What should I have said?

Point Allocation (Emotion)

“…But I would never have thought that I would meet you in this kind of place.”

That voice, with a tendency to look downwards, was brought to life in the graveyard.

The owner of the voice, Masazumi, was crouching in front of the graveyard next to the main road adjoined with the greenery.

She was weeding.

“Are you cleaning? They say that automatons really do like to clean no matter where they are.”

“Judge, that principle does exist. The cleaning of this place is a daily routine.”

P-01s, plucking the weeds of the graveyard in the same manner as I, answered.

When the taken weeds had reached a certain amount, P-01s took the trash that consisted in clumps of dirt and fallen leaves along with the piled up weeds and brought them to the gutter adjacent to the path.

As if responding, the lid of the gutter was lifted; and from below, pale black algae stuck their faces out.

“Useless? Natural materials?”

Facing them, P-01s lifted her index finger before her nose and gave the trash to the algae. With that, the algae bore it atop their heads and once again descended into the gutter.

Masazumi was speechless in response to the feeding actions which had been happening behind her back for some time.

She had noticed it a while before, but somehow, below the gutters, the black algae creatures of the sewage pipes seemed to have gotten used to P-01s.

Furthermore, the shared opinion between P-01s and the black algae creatures seemed to be that it would be for the better if it were not known that the black algae creatures were going outside.

It was because that would mean that the black algae creatures were slacking off from their work…

“Not known? OK? Alright?”

“Judge, I can discern that it is alright. Our cover is perfect.”

Aside from the absolute lack of basis in that assumption, now it’s perfectly known by me…!!

While I was thinking and pulling the weeds, a voice suddenly came from behind me.

“Masazumi-sama does the maintenance of this gravestone quite often.”

“Ahh, that’s because it’s my mother’s. There aren’t even any remains, so inside are only her mementos… Even if I put it like that, it would be hard to understand for an automaton, right? …You’re born from souls, so you don’t have anything like a mother.”

“Judge. I will frankly state my thinking… Masazumi-sama sure loves her mother.”

I was told a sudden thing.

Love, huh?

Because it was a rather direct statement, Masazumi lost the timing of her response.

“No,” or, “that’s right”? Without giving back an appropriate response, an affirmation or negation, without being certain which feeling should be the correct one, Masazumi just looked down at the flowers in the bucket beside her.

White flowers. As she let that color to flow to her own heart, P-01s voice was heard from behind.

It was…

“…Let me pass…”

Suddenly, a song.

Eh?

What was audible was a song that even Masazumi knew. A well-known children’s song.

The song named “Song of Passage”. From the throat of an automaton, it was heard.


—Let me pass, let me pass.

If I follow this narrow path, where will it take me?

This narrow path leads to the gods in heaven

Your opinion is not needed. You cannot pass through here

I have come to celebrate this child’s tenth birthday

By dedicating these two talismans

Going may be easy, but returning is frightening

Can I…


“…pass despite my fear?”

From Masazumi’s ears to her chest, there was something akin to trembling. A trembling of excitement and pleasure came, a feeling which seemed as if the depths of her skin were being wrung.

There was something which she had heard from the shopkeeper before. That P-01s’s soul was in her throat.

Then, that voice of song was the trembling of P-01s’s soul. However…

This song is…

I know it. No, anybody living in the Far East would know it.

According to the Testament descriptions, the original version of the Song of Passage began to be sung during the 17th century; but a hundred years before it was supposed to be introduced by the Testament, there was an experiment where this song got its original versions in many places.

That experiment was the Song of Passage.

At the time when the provisional rule of each country was established, this became a song which brought the people of the Far East together.

About thirty years ago, all the versions of the song were collected; and now it was being used as a song to put children to sleep. As the children sang it, it became used for playing the game matched to the song: “I Wonder if it’s a Passage”.

However, Masazumi had no memories of singing this together with everyone.

She had only heard it from afar, when other children played while singing it.

However, when hearing it from nearby it had happened that she really had sang it.

There was something from her youth. At the time where her awareness of her surroundings was not yet certain…

It was my mother, as a lullaby…

When she thought that…

“Is there something wrong, Masazumi-sama?”

Being asked, she was unable to respond immediately.

Masazumi sucked in a breath, adjusting the uncertain trembling within her body.

“…Haah.”

The breath she exhaled softly trembled just once. Thinking about how to respond, Masazumi thought…

I remembered a little of something from the past.

With that, Masazumi put power into her knees.

What comes after this is something that does not need to be said, but… she told her heart as a preface…

As the people who can hear it and find it meaningful are not here.

Therefore, I will dare to say it.

“I’ve spoken about this before, haven’t I? Originally, I lived in Mikawa below us. My family name is Honda, one of the vassals there. For the Matsudaira, two Hondas are needed.”

She took in a breath remembering the face of the other Honda, the person whom she had not exchanged words with since middle school.

“The first Honda is one of the Four Heavenly Kings, the martial Honda family represented by Honda Tadakatsu. The other was the political Honda family represented by Honda Masanobu. I was not a warrior, so my father…”

“Your father inherited the name of Masanobu-sama?”

“He failed.”

Masazumi rested her hands and spoke.

“Another person, not from the Honda family, got to change his name; thus inheriting the name of Honda Masanobu. At that time, my father was just being too honest. Therefore, I…”

What was I like?

Told by my father, did I myself wish for what I had started then? I don’t even remember the reason, but…

“He thought that a child of Masanobu should try to inherit the name of Masanobu’s son. And, for that cause, he thought that I would do anything; and so I did.”

However…

“I failed.”

Masazumi’s mouth moved.

The words which had just spilled from her lips had not been uttered till now.

This won’t do, her heart thought. That was because…

The people who can hear it and find it meaningful are not here.

A resting place where my mother isn’t really present. An automaton. Black algae creatures… Were they even still in the gutter? If she were a young girl, inside her own room, she would consult with her own precious doll about the unsettling things which had happened today; but is this situation the same?

A stupid complaint, isn’t it? Masazumi thought; and she realized that she had never even shown this outwardly.

Whatever the situation, on the Musashi no matter where or when it was always noisy. In the schools, in the roads, there were always people.

Therefore if one has no friends that one can talk about various things with, one can’t do anything but search for a place where one can be alone. There is nothing to do but to find a place where one can spit out stupid complaints to oneself and hide. And now, here, finally…

“…Ten years ago, the Matsudaira family carried out the ‘clearing out’ of their vassals. So, many vassals were demoted and relieved of their duties… After that, all of Matsudaira’s vassals and commercial groups were taken up by the Sagami’s mass-produced automatons.”

Facing P-01s, an automaton herself, Masazumi thought that she would not want this not to turn into a series of distasteful complaints. Therefore, she let that be the end about the incident with the automatons.

“You know, I…”

Masazumi touched her chest with her hands. The uniform she was wearing was a male one. Masazumi, pressing her hand hard into that chest, opened her mouth whilst feeling a strange dryness in her throat…

“When I was fighting for the right to inherit the name, I had an operation in order to not be at a disadvantage… An operation where a woman like me would be altered into a man. First, they removed my breasts…and when they were still deciding whether to also change the sex organs into masculine ones, the sudden ‘clearing out’ made all of it meaningless.”

My father fled to Musashi; and I whose body had become weak due to the surgery was left on the surface with my mother.

My losing my breasts was something I wished for myself. However, after the sudden “clearing out” my goal was completely lost. With all that I did being not even affirmed or negated, my goal merely vanished with a meaningless sense of powerlessness being all that was left. It was as if, after having decided my way forward and working hard in my studies for the test, the road I had to follow just disappeared.

I would have been able to accept it if I just failed the name inheritance.

But it was as if “all of what you did was utterly meaningless” was said to me.

The me from before, the me left in my memory was always apologizing. Without being able to start things by myself, without being able to answer my father’s expectations, I caused trouble for my mother. The same mother that, in the end, was spirited away in the events known as the “Princess Disappearances”…

“Why…was it all just letting go…”

At that moment she muttered.

Suddenly, something spilled out from the corners of her eyes.

Thinking damn, Masazumi wiped her cheeks with the sleeve of her uniform.

“Crying is unsightly.”

“Is that so?”

At P-01s’s voice, audible from behind, Masazumi nodded. If it was weakness or relief, she didn’t know.

“Aah…if it were possible, I’d want to hide somewhere. But I can’t do that here either, right?”

“Judge, thank you for your understanding. And now, one question about Masazumi-san has been resolved.”

“And that is?”

“Judge,” P-01s’s voice could be heard.

“If I were to speak frankly, that Masazumi-sama wearing male uniforms was not hobby.”

Masazumi was returned to reality in an instant.

Wait a second, wasn’t I hiding the fact that I am a woman?

Should I get mad? No, rather, is it resentment? What is it, this strange feeling which is welling up in the pit of my stomach? It’s obviously not affectionate. If I were to speak with the power of debate that I practiced in my specialized essay classes, I am supposed to state my conclusion first; so if I were to say it in one sentence, it would be “like hell it’s that.” Furthermore, what on earth is with that “that” at the end, an exclamation as if just stuck there? Even further, the black algae creatures…

“Mound? Mound?”

Who was it that taught them those kinds of words; or is it a racial memory?

I’ve really forgotten. Although this was a place where I could be alone even if there was a doll that would hear my idle complaints, this doll just did an amazing tsukkomi. However…

“Masazumi?”

The black algae creatures asked P-01s her name in confirmation, and Masazumi felt surprise.

Responding, P-01s also hid the black algae creatures from Masazumi’s sight while starting to act as if she was plucking weeds.

“Judge, she is Masazumi-sama. Do you remember her? Do you remember how when Masazumi-sama was starving and collapsed she nearly unknowingly crushed you?”

Masazumi then thought that from this time onwards she had to check the surroundings when she fell.

“Masazumi… Seijun?”

“Judge, that is correct, she is a politician. She is a conservationist at work and exploits taxes to help the people.”

It would have been better to deny it; but that too again seemed to be a joke, so Masazumi was silent. With that, the black algae creatures asked some things.

“Friend?”

“—Judge, that is what is said about the both of us acknowledging each others’ existence.”

“Able to become… Friend?”

“That is,” P-01s stopped speaking, and there was an indication that she was looking her way. So, Masazumi turned her back on them, and while acting as if looking at the sky…

“Recently, I’ve wanted some friends.”

“Can I be one?”

“Judge. …Speaking frankly, Masazumi does not have many friends; so this is my chance. In other words, it’s pretty easy. Do not worry, Masazumi-sama is a politician so she loves the management of things like sewage.”

What’s with that wrong way of putting things!!

When she thought that, something suddenly occurred above her head.

“—?”

The sky split, and the color blue suddenly spread outward before her eyes as if bursting open.

“Ah.”

It wrapped around their entire surroundings in an instant. The blue sky was proof of the disengagement of stealth flight. Indicated by that was…

“…Have we arrived at Mikawa?”

Below, there was a mountain range. The other side remained unseen, but eventually, there would be a continental port for Musashi’s use visible in the colossal valley and the adjoining open-air type common use flat continental port should appear soon. And on the other side of those, was the village of Mikawa where she herself had once lived.

“I’ve returned.” That was something she could not say.

She herself was already a resident of the Musashi; Mikawa too had continued to change from the time she had been there. Nowadays, it was rumored that in the large workshop which had four ley line reactors they were making a gift to P.A. Oda; so just in one year, Mikawa had really changed. Because of a warp in the ley lines caused by the ley line reactors phenomena happened frequently, accompanying the “clearing out” national policy.

“How many people are left in Mikawa? …The other Hondas’ second generation should still be there.”

She herself had come to the Musashi; but most people had not left Mikawa, for many reasons, and were living in the outskirts while thinking that the incompleteness of business functions in the city center (because of the “clearing out” and danger of the phenomena) was rather inconvenient.

“I wonder how it all turned out… Well, I’m just sending President Sakai today, so I’ll just be looking at it from afar.”

The sound of the wind could be heard and the trembling echoes of the wind hit the wind-protection spell which the Musashi had.

However, that wasn’t all of it.

Above and directly to the front, as if exiting the area above Musashi’s center leading ship, Musashino, a single ship had come.

It was an aerial passenger-ship with length around 120 meters. From above Musashino, it was trying to circle to the area above them, on Okutama. Compared to all of the Musashi’s ships, its size did not even match one tenth of theirs; but looking at it, the ship had a size large enough to project a shadow across one of the horizontal passages.

Judging from its trajectory and speed, the ship was currently trying to pass above them. If there wasn’t some sort of mistake…

It was a flight to see all of the Musashi.

While thinking about it, Masazumi looked at the side of the passenger ship. On the other side of the rustling leaves of the trees, where the side of the passenger ship was with waves streaming from its water line, there was a family emblem.

In the midst of the sun’s reflection, it could be seen that it was the family emblem of the three-petaled hollyhock.

The only family able to use that emblem was the Matsudaira family. So that meant…

“That’s the ship of the lord of the Matsudaira, Lord Motonobu!?”

Ten years ago, right before the Musashi had been renovated, Lord Motonobu had descended to the Musashi. After that visit he had never returned. This was because ten years ago, when the provisional alliance with P.A. Oda had become a formal alliance, the Testament Union forbade him to board the Musashi (since it was able to become a mobile fortress) to prove Mikawa’s neutrality.

Why he is doing this? Has Lord Motonobu come to welcome the Musashi?

She knew very well Lord Motonobu’s tendency for a spectacle, and she also recognized his voice and face pretty well.

If it were to be said why…

“…Greetings! It’s been a while, residents of the Musashi. Do you remember your teacher’s face?”

From every external speaker on the Musashi, this man’s voice resounded.

That was not all. At every shrine, on top of the hall which housed the shrine itself, enormous torii-shaped signframes appeared. Reflected in the middle of the frame there was a single man whose back was facing the bridge of a ship.

His hair was covered with a black scholar’s cap with his glasses hung. To the announcing device, which was a microphone held by his right hand with his pinky finger outstretched, he said:

“Thank you for staying with us; I am Mikawa’s lord, Matsudaira Motonobu. But it’d be great if you called me your teacher.”

It was because of this.

Sagging her shoulders, Masazumi thought. Motonobu really loves making announcements with the divine transmission.

Originally, because people were leaving Mikawa’s center due to the phenomena and the clearing out of people, it seemed that it was something he started so his voice could reach the outskirts. But as the time passed, it turned into an exhibition that was performed at the slightest chance.

His specialty was an one-sided rambling, so he called himself the “teacher”. And even now, he was still going along with that.

“Because of the Testament Union’s instructions, the Musashi’s residents cannot descend to Mikawa. But, do not worry. We’ll be bringing lots of things from Mikawa, and the people who’ve come to sightsee will talk about it, right? So everyone, I want you to use your shrine’s ley line divine transmission or connections to have exchanges with Mikawa. And if it’s possible, your teacher also wants to know what kind of lives you are all living and what you want to do from now on. I’d like it if you’d let me hear that from all of you, that’s all. Then, let’s start. There’s lots of time, so let’s use it all effectively.”

He continued.

“Tonight, I’ve prepared something special. At night it would be nice if all of you could look in Mikawa’s direction, because I’ve prepared some fireworks. With this…today’s first lesson is over!!”

Along with his words, the divine transmission disappeared and the display frames above the shrines also closed and vanished.

Now Motonobu’s ship was passing over their heads.

Masazumi chased the passing figure of the ship with her gaze, and she turned around…

“Really, not only Mikawa, but even the Lord has come…”

“…hasn’t he?” those were the words that Masazumi was not able to say.

Her gaze was fixed upon P-01s, behind her.

P-01s’s back was facing her way, and she was waving at the ship traversing the sky.

“Eh…?”

When the question leaked out from between her lips, the small black figures at P-01s’s feet panicked and hid in her shadow.

However, P-01s continued waving. Eventually, the ship showed its rear side. After crossing the sky above Musashi Ariadust Academy towards the east, the bow turned; and until it took its path back to Mikawa, all P-01s did was to wave at it.

The wind moved, and the automaton’s hand was lowered. However, opposing P-01s (who did not turn around), Masazumi said:

“…You’re acting like a tourist from the country, you know.”

“Judge, on the bottom of that ship someone was waving his hand at me from the other side of the glass.”

Who that was was unknown to Masazumi, and it should have been unknown to P-01s too.

However, P-01s said this.

“He was looking this way and smiling.”

Along with those words, a sound could be heard.

It was the ring of a bell: The sound of Musashi Ariadust Academy finishing its fourth period and entering its lunch break.