Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 10

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 10: Commandos in Town[edit]

Horizon1A 257.jpg

Our everyday passes by

Time passes by

Destiny passes by

What is it that does not pass

Point Allocation (Human Relationships)

Sakai’s mind connected the dots within an instant.

Just from the flow of wind behind him, he understood that the girl from just now had arrived.

With no hesitation in his movements, he turned and confirmed it.

Her style is that of a Strike Forcer (Close-combat martial artist)!? This is pretty serious, but she is…

There was a vague memory. Ten years ago, he had indeed met this girl.

Honda Tadakatsu’s daughter. The girl whom Masazumi had said was her acquaintance.

What was her name? I don’t remember, but…

Her movements are as sharp as ever! But she always used to carry a spear…!

I don’t understand what’s happening; having suddenly twisted around to my back, is she attacking or protecting me?

And now, the movements he felt against his skin were the vibrations of the air that the girl had caused by twisting her body.

The vibration was large, the initial speed slow.

Then it’s an attack, Sakai judged. If she was stretching her arms for the sake of protection, then the vibration would be small and the initial speed fast. However, because the wind raised during an attack is caused by the wielder carrying his own volume, and is for the sake of making a complete swing, at first it’s slow but the movement is large.

Now, it’s the latter.

How will she approach me? That was not a question formed by Sakai’s thoughts, but by his instinct.

I remember this girl’s weapon. When she was standing behind Tadakatsu, I was looking at it.

It was not that I became aware of it and was looking at it. The experience of the battles I had cut my way through as a former member of the Matsudaira Four Heavenly Kings sits deeper than in my consciousness. That weapon is of the Shirasago Industries brand. The wooden handle, having been covered with a black matte finish, was of a color that contrasts with the brand name[1] and is sold as something with a durable structure.

The hilt was straight, and because of its length it looked as if it was made to compensate for the instability that stemmed from its lightness.

If so.

Even though the long hilt is aimed towards easy handling of the blade, it holds a single problem.

A katana is a weapon that slices by touching the opponent and retracting as if shaving a piece off. However that denotes the reality in which the wielder has to cut by pulling the blade that has touched its victim towards their own chest.

As such, the blade of a katana cannot cut at any distance but a distance where it is able to be retracted. By putting some strength in the slicing, it is possible to slice deeply; but the distance that can be cut is the distance it can be retracted.

And if it’s a katana that has a long hilt, when it’s pulled towards one’s front, the hilt will touch one’s body.

The distance that it can be retracted is short.

In that case, what will the wielder do to make a long cut?

They will drop their body and swing the blade far!

Dropping their entire body, they will extend their blade far to the front and pull with their entire body.

If that is done, they will be able to gain the twist of their body as a distance to retract the blade.

Now, the wind I feel behind my back is large.

A wind for the sake of stepping her entire body in with all her strength.

The target is the right side of my abdomen. A horizontal slice from my back.

She’s good, Sakai’s instinct acknowledged his opponent.

If she aimed for my upper body, the thick muscle and bone of my shoulder and chest would interrupt her. If it’s below the stomach, she’ll end up severing or snapping my wrist but she can split the thin flesh of the side-abdomen that stretches with the pressure of the stomach.

Furthermore, if it’s a horizontal slash, then she can pull the blade horizontally.

If she does so, then she will automatically pull the blade with just a turning movement of her body and the retracted pommel won’t touch her chest or stomach. If she chains with a twisting motion inwards, she doesn’t even need to steady her footing.

It’s a terrifying sword technique, which shows in how it’s regulated. It’s not something that is learned on the practice ground. This is a sword technique from true battle.

What should I do to avoid it?

Faster than he thought, Sakai moved.

Sakai moved in a way that could not be called an evasion.

In response to the whirling blow behind him, he…

“This.”

…lightly took one step back.

“—!”

The slice that came after the stepping back approached nonetheless.

If it’s a weapon that slices, by leaping in from this direction I’m able to make the distance to retract zero. Even if the opponent stepped backwards, it would become a distance shorter than the original one she was able to pull.

The question is, am I able to step back faster than the slice from the horizontal slash?

Therefore, I twisted my body. Not just directly to the rear, but towards my left as well.

I went.

And furthermore…

“And then—”

Sakai half-drew the tantō he was concealing at the back of his waist.

The draw method is a right backhand, a movement where I pull my shoulder up along with my arm. Because of this, I’m able to protect my right waist with the tantō’s blade, and I can protect my right chest with my slanted arm. Even further, I protect the right part of my neck with my raised shoulder.

By doing this, I respond to the opponent’s slice, take a good position, and defend.

Having played his best card, Sakai suddenly twisted his body, having leaped towards his posterior-left, to the right.

The opponent who swung the blade should be there.

She was there.

Black hair was visible.

Now, I touch her body; and from the next instant onwards, the initiative is in my hands.

Generally this would be the time to insert a blow, make her obedient, and show her our difference in form; but now I am the student president of an Academy. I can’t really do anything horrible to a young girl. But to speculate, I think that groping breasts would still be allowed.

And the opponent’s blade tried to hit my blade.

However…

“…h!?”

Sakai saw that the girl behind him suddenly moved to his anterior-right.

This is—

The place the girl was standing was directly in front of my right shoulder. She was showing me her back. She seemed to have dropped her hip.

I don’t know what’s happening.

I don’t know, but it’s a fact that there was an instantaneous movement.

And I know the reason for her having moved to the right and front of me.

So that her own blade wouldn’t clash with mine, huh!?

Blades are made of metal. Even if it’s polymerized to increase its durability, even if it’s tempered, if it hits something hard it will bend or even break. If one is a master, one can sever metal with a blade without spells or blessings; but that wasn’t an easy thing to do even for Sakai while he was in service.

As such, the girl avoided the clashing of blades.

Evading, bursting forward, she controlled her body and twisted for the sake of her slice by dropping her hip.

The katana, readied to the left as if shouldered, matched with the movement of her standing up and leaped upwards…

“——”

It approached.

Swinging a blade upwards from a bent position, and biting into my neck from the bottom right with that movement. An irregular cut.

Sakai’s right arm, the hand holding the tantō, was suppressed by her back.

She’s good.

Reading my movements, she always aims for a fatal blow. That she’s not afraid of close contact with her opponent is the result of her training.

Sakai tried to evade before the blade leaped up to meet him…

“No.”

The tip of his right foot was stepped upon by her deeply retracted left heel.

I drew back my toes. But it was too slow. On the contrary, my attention was taken by the act of withdrawing my toes.

Horizon1A 263.jpg

I cannot dodge. And before my eyes, the girl showed the initial movements of swinging the blade.

This is bad. But when I looked at the two former colleagues in front of me…

Those bastards, what are they clenching their fists and watching the battle for…!

If I could make them speak, I could not come up with anything but the “Go—!” apparent in their faces.

While thinking I’ll knock them down afterward, Sakai moved.

Now, he could not draw his tantō. Therefore, Sakai made an instantaneous decision. An instinctive movement. That was…

“Slap.”

Sakai released his tantō, stuck that hand between the girl’s back and blade, and touched her left butt cheek.

He held her left butt cheek with his hand that had come free. And…

“—!?”

From the girl’s mouth, a scream with a tint of surprise was released.

“Yes, so, have you just about gathered everything? The ingredients for the food for the celebration tomorrow?”

The three figures following Asama, who was dressed in shrine maiden garments, nodded at her words.

The location was a commercial street in the starboard section of the surface segment of the second starboard ship, Tama. Having the benefit of being a ship aimed towards sightseers, it was an attractive place. Among the people who were walking back and forth, there were those who had come up from Mikawa and the students of K.P.A. Italia and Tres España who had come from the southern continental port.

While one of the four who were standing in the midst of that, Naomasa, was spinning and fiddling around with the large wrench used for ship-interior maintenance with her prosthetic arm, she looked at the other three: Adele, Suzu and Asama.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of people, but didn’t we buy too much in one go?”

What Naomasa’s words indicated was the mountain of paper bags that everyone was holding. Let alone those in the arms of the four, bags were hanging at their elbows and some were even suspended on the hard points of their waists.

“I-if Ga-Ga-chan and Go-chan…came, it would have been nice, but…”

Suzu, comparatively slight and light, shook the object-oriented hanging sensors at the side of her waist as she adjusted her hold on the burden she was clutching and spoke. That done, Asama replied…

“Naito and Naruze, those two, are doing some transportation work. I think that they are flying around between the ships right now, but earlier we should have asked them in advance when Toori was blown away by Mito.”

At Asama’s words, the girl with glasses, Adele, sighed with a “Haaah.”

“Well, thanks for your work too, Asama-san. Seeing as how you’re in shrine maiden garments, work at the Asama Shrine is pretty busy now, isn’t it?”

“Yes. At the end of spring, there’s a lot of contract-related work and I’m really busy with counter operations… As for spells, everyone seems to want overpowered ones; so the amount of our monthly orders are getting huge.”

“Doesn’t everyone think that they can get overpowered ones if they go to your shrine?”

Naomasa spun the wrench, and while flipping it over her shoulder from her side, she spoke.

“Didn’t you join the archery club’s human target practice at the culture festival last year, and completely took out everyone including the club members desperately trying to escape the range? And then you took all the prizes and gave them to the orphanage. Even the orphans thought that the presents were the products of human sacrifice, right? The lives of people mean less than prizes, huh.”

“Masa, I mean, something like shooting a group of people not even including acceleration-types is easier than shooting sitting ducks, so I couldn’t help it, could I? Besides, screaming and trying to run outside would have really have caused a disturbance to the people outside the range, so I just blew them away.”

“…Please, try to understand the word ‘disturbance’.”

“Hmm?” In response to Asama, who tilted her head, Naomasa gave the wrench on her shoulder a glance.

“Anyway, joining us like this, you’ll be coming to the ‘ghost hunt’ today, right? I’ve also gotten a night shift off from the chief, Taizou-jii-san, but—”

Naomasa indicated towards Asakusa with her chin. The cargo ships Asakusa and Shinagawa had lowered the sails from their masts, their total heights above 100 meters, and were opening up the derricks that used the left and right arms of the masts. Pulling the ropes going through the pulley on the tip of the arms, the suspended derricks utilized the labor-use gods of war, aerial races, and workers to pull the ropes and manage the movements of the upper segment.

“Well, there’s that, but if I’m going to have the time to help working on Jizuri Suzaku, I’m going to have to head off now.”

As she was speaking she pulled a rope, and the god of war suspended above the derrick descended towards her. Adele, who saw that, formed her eyes into bow-shapes…

“Occasionally, let’s use it as a gondola or play with it like a swing. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

“Just by the way, that’s work research too. Anyway…the sky has become really noisy, hasn’t it.”

In the sky between Asakusa and Shinagawa, between every ship, there were numerous figures that had started to soar the sky with white mist trailing after them. They were aerial races and Technohexen. While taking trajectories that seemed to intertwine at high speed, each of them traversed between the ships; but…

“The supervision of Tres España’s gods of war has ended, so the delivery workers have started to race and have mock battles. Naruze said that there are a lot of people from all over who were aces in their countries but couldn’t compromise with their religions that have fled here; because of that, the exchange of techniques and knowledge is world-class here.”

“Ah, Naruze and Naito were also flying around just now, you know? At a speed where they would have been invisible if not for ‘Konoha’ …According to them, their two-man unit is top class.”

“Well, those two are also doing their work and things like that at the moment; and they’re going to gather at the Academy at night. Really, there’s nobody around me who’s up to any good.”

“…Masa, please look in a mirror and say that last line again.”

At Asama’s words, Adele laughed softly. She placed the paper bags and packages on her raised knee and adjusted her grasp…

“But well, there’s also Mikawa’s fireworks, though as expected everyone’s going to see the chancellor, huh… I’m also going to join battle with a mock-use support lance with an anti-ghost spell, though.”

“I-I’m al-also going.”

Suzu also spoke, and nodded. Asama, who was looking at everyone with her two-colored eyes, lowered the corners of her eyebrows and laughed.

“What is this, everyone’s interested in Toori-kun, aren’t they?”

“That’s true. The entire world is noisy with Oda and the Logismoi Óplo and the End of Days, but worrying about whether an idiot’s confession will pass through or not is really like, well, not the Song of Passage, but…” [2]

Naomasa, shouldering the wrench behind her neck, looked up at the mid-afternoon sky and spoke.

“ ‘Despite my fear[3],’ huh. …That idiot has really gotten motivated.”

Naomasa, lowering her gaze, looked at Asama and opened her mouth. The words that came out were:

“Along with Kimi, you have been with him longer than any of us, haven’t you?”

After Asama, who had been questioned by Naomasa, had thought for a little while, she nodded. Looking at everyone…

“Well, even if you say ‘longer’, it’s because of the relationship between our parents; and my memories from when we were young are rather vague.”

“But, only you have been together with him since before elementary school. Everyone else came after elementary school. So everyone, well, knows what kind of person Toori is, but—”

“Ma-Masazumi-san is di-diffe-rent. And al-also, A-Azuma-san.”

Asama nodded in response to Suzu’s words.

“That’s because Masazumi transferred here last year… Even today, she didn’t come to the Academy and just set off towards Mikawa with the school president… She’s different from us, since she seems to treat the Academy as just a waypoint of her life.”

And also…

“Azuma-kun entered after middle school, so I don’t think that he completely understands Toori-kun.”

“But,” Asama tilted her head. Looking at Naomasa…

“Why do you ask?”

At the question, Naomasa smiled wryly.

“—We, who are here, know about Horizon just as Toori does.”

At those words, Asama fell silent along with everybody. What should I say, and how should I say it? they all thought.

Even Naomasa, who had spoken, shut her mouth lightly; but after a while, she said…

“Shall we continue walking?”

Naomasa pointed at the road with her chin. That too was while she was lightly playing around with her wrench like it was a pendulum.

However, while passing people by, the road she was walking was…

“Um, th-the end of this path is…”

She knows. The reason Suzu is shaking her head is…

“Ahh, the snack shop that Toori always comes to in the morning is here, huh. But don’t worry, at this time the person Suzu fears has gone out… She’s doing her afternoon grave visit. You should know.”

At Naomasa’s line, Asama felt surprise in her heart. Taking a step as if following Naomasa, who had started walking…

“I’m a little surprised. That Masa would be interested in her.”

“—You and I both know about her visiting the graves. When I take a break in the outer hull’s emergency level after my morning or afternoon work, I can hear it most of the time, you know. That song.”

“By ‘that song’…”

“You know about it, right?” said Masa, who had already gone to the front of everyone and started walking…

“The Song of Passage. The song that we sang when we played together with Horizon. Outlining formations on the road with rocks, everyone would pass under each other’s arms…whoever was left in the middle of the formation when we finished singing was the loser.”

“Horizon had this strange part of her that would be concerned about all of us, and occasionally she would purposely lose because of it. She thought that nobody found out, but everyone knew…”

After a while, Asama, who had spoken, noticed that everyone walking was looking at her…

At this point, Asama understood the intent of Naomasa’s words just now. The reason she had been asked about the length of her companionship was…

They’re telling me to talk about old memories of Horizon, aren’t they.

Horizon.

What remained in her memories was a black-haired, blue-eyed girl. The lines of her body were slender, but if she thinks back upon it now, there were times when Asama had thought that she was a girl with a strong heart, a heart too gentle. However, that too…

“Due to her birth she was a really troubled person… Toori-kun, by her side, was gradually becoming an idiot. As if that wasn’t enough, her birth would eventually cause extremely severe problems. Well, I got to know about that…”

A breath.

“…only after she died.”

Asama saw that everyone dropped their heads at those words. But Asama was the only one not to bow her own head…

“I wonder what Toori-kun thinks. Is the confession this time the beginning of his atonement, is it a continuation, or could it be a change in his state of mind… I really wonder what he thinks.”

“At the least…isn’t the fact that he’s going to fondle some boobs certain?”

“Y-yes, I wouldn’t say such bitter, realistic words at such a serious time.”

However, even while saying that to Adele, Asama could not stop her own shoulders from sagging. There was a trace of pitifulness within herself, thinking: It really was like that; it really was, wasn’t it. But Adele continued her words…

“Now that you mention it Asama-san, given that the chancellor was making some references, have you been fondled by the chancellor before? As far as I know, I can’t recall that happening, but…”

This sure was one can of worms. Asama panicked, and while shaking her head…

“No, um, I…”

“Ah? You don’t remember, do you Adele? When Asama-chi first wore a bra, a ‘That’s cheating! Dirty! A breast cover!?’ burst out from Toori, and he started doing it slowly from behind.”

“Uwaaaa—! What are you saying, Masa—!”

“Hahahahaha!” Naomasa laughed five times, and patted Asama’s shoulder with the palm of her hand.

“It’s fine, just laugh…right? Adele, she seriously started to cry, and Toori was scolded by Sensei; but afterward, Toori responded by saying: ‘Alright, then fondle my breasts and things will even out!!’ grabbed her hand, and made her fondle his own bosom while she was still crying, saying ‘Isn’t that nice!? ISN’T THIS GOOD!?’ and was scolded by Sensei a second time.”

“…Ahh, my morning practice dragged on and I came late that day; but hmm, wasn’t Asama-san, having been fondled by the chancellor, crying out of happiness…?”

“I-I’m sorry, wh-what kind of character do I have inside Adele’s head!?”

“Isn’t it fine?” Naomasa said.

“—It might be that from tomorrow onwards, this kind of topic might be hard to bring up after all.”

“Isn’t that right?”

With her double-colored eyes, Asama looked at her friend with an artificial arm who had asked the question.

When she did that, Naomasa, walking, also glanced her way.

“Well, Kimi also knows about it.”

She kept silent and listened. With that, Naomasa looked forward…

“That idiot Kimi is continuing to idiotically act like an idiot; but she’s an idiot who’s really caring, isn’t she? People who care about other people too much are the true idiots, though. If tomorrow Toori confesses and it goes well, she’s the person it’ll pain the most after all…and despite that, that idiot isn’t among us, talking here.”

“That’s—”

Asama remembered. About the time earlier, when everyone had split up atop the stairs. Asama, who had left the Tea Club and ran to them, couldn’t do anything but confirm the plans for the night. Even after that, Kimi…

“…Stayed sitting atop the stairs, didn’t she?”

“Yeah, when we split up earlier and left each other, Toori said that he’d try and go to ‘Remorse Way’ after all… You know, right?”

“About?”

“That idiot Toori hasn’t walked ‘Remorse Way’ for ten years since that happened.”

“You do know it, don’t you?” Naomasa continued her words.

“It seems like he decided it this morning. When we were informed yesterday that our gathering would be outside, I pretty much knew what he would be doing during our morning exercise. When we sprinted and leaped outwards from the Academy, straight ahead, the ‘Remorse Way’ was on the right side of the two starboard and port roads. And…”

“Last time, during a lesson at the end of the second year, we ran to the dango shop on the port of Asakusa… Looking in terms of progression, it’s only logical we’d run to the starboard this time.”

Asama answered, and Adele looked towards Okutama. Narrowing her eyes, hidden deep beneath her glasses…

“Then, um, the reason that Kimi-san continued to sit on the stairs was…”

“Because given the idiotic sister she is, she was watching over whether or not her idiotic brother would be able to pass ‘Remorse Way’.”

“She’s an idiotic woman,” Naomasa said whilst taking a step forward.

“Being here, we’re also idiots. No one who’s here, no, no one who’s part of our class has the right to mock her. After all…”

After all.

“The person who didn’t let Toori leave us was that idiotic woman.”

At those words, everyone held their breath even while walking. With an attitude that indicated that they no longer cared about the busyness or noise of the commercial street around them, the silence continued for a while; but…

“That’s right.”

Finally, Asama found her words.

“And everything…was because of Horizon, I think.”

“Hori…zon…”

Suzu opened her mouth while dropping her head. While softly ringing the metal cylinders, the hanging object-oriented sensors at her waist.

“Sh-she was a…gentle person.”

Suzu spoke with a soft voice. Adding a “You know,” she bridged to her next line and said…

“D-did you know? When Toori-kun…called me, at first, he would definitely say ‘Heeeyy,’ or ‘You know.’ And, h-he would reach his hand out to me and…when he touched me, u-um, hi-his hands would do…do this.”

At the tip of everybody’s gaze, Asama included, Suzu’s hand touched the area around the waist of her uniform, in a manner as if brushing past it.

That was a moment where she looked as if she was wiping her hands. However, there was something else in the noise of her rustling clothes.

“Th-this is a signal… I-I’m…bl-blind, so if my name is su-suddenly called, and I’m touched… I-I’ll ge-get shocked, and cause trouble; s-so, before that, they’d make another voice or noise.”

“Yeah, we copied them too. During elementary school, when we noticed that the idiot was doing that, I figured it was one of the little things that redeemed him; but…”

“No,” Suzu shook her head, slightly rushed.

“Horizon…started that.”

She sucked in a breath.

“Even when Horizon di-died, Toori-kun…di-didn’t forget.”

“I see,” Naomasa said, as well as “I’m sorry.”

Asama could do nothing but hold a smile.

Perhaps…

It could be that Suzu-san loves him, so she thought.

At that moment, a voice came from in front of them.

“Huh? So you guys also went shopping here after all?”

This voice is… Turning their faces towards it, on the walkway directly in front of them, several male students were walking.

As expected, Neshinbara, Urquiaga, Shirojiro and Heidi were there, clutching bags.

“What is this, you guys? You’re looking forward to the festival that much?”

“Ah, we’re buying our share for tonight. But…it looks like we overlapped in terms of the food.”

At Neshinbara’s wry smile, everyone also smiled dryly. With an expression where the corners of her eyes were drooping, Heidi said…

“But…is there anywhere else but here? If we went to Okutama, then we’d disturb Toori-kun and Kimi-san after all; and you can’t find this shop on Murayama.”

Heidi looked at the row of shops on the starboard-side, at the walkway across the street.

Everyone followed suit, and at the destination of their sight there was a single snack shop. A shop with a bakery as its side-business was on standby at the time. Whilst the woman who was the shopkeeper did the cleaning of the storefront, she was making conversation with the owners of the adjacent stores.

Asama noticed that Suzu had turned to her back. Therefore, discreetly, with a small voice…

“Suzu-san, you haven’t come here since last year, have you?”

“Yes… Wh-when I passed by, i-it was scary.”

“I see.” After Asama, who nodded, lightly touched the binder skirt at her waist, she took Suzu’s shoulder.

At that moment. The female shopkeeper of the snack shop turned to face them. When she noticed them, she showed a smile…

“What do we have here? From the mornin’ til’ now, there’ve been a lot of customers from the Academy, huh. It’s still out of openin’ hours, y’know?”

“Ah, I’m sorry.”

Heidi answered. She touched her cheek with her hand, and after bowing shallowly…

“Um…tomorrow, we might be making a racket…”

“Ya having a party? If that’s so, I guess I’ll have P-01s work hard.”

“Haha,” Asama listened to the words that Heidi said in response to the laughing shopkeeper.

“A party…that’s right. Yes. I believe it’ll be alright.”

She took a breath.

“Because everyone is praying that this will be a fun party.”

“It would be nice if we have some fun tomorrow. Don’t you think so? Ga-chan?”

A resounding voice was brought to life in the open pathway.

Walking the pathway, where the blue sky beginning to tint with the color of afternoon was visible, was someone with six golden wings. It was Margot Naito in her uniform. While opening up her speedometer-type Magi Figur by her head, the place she was making her way through was the long direct pathway where people and goods went back and forth. It was a horizontal transport-passage on the starboard of Murayama, where ships and winged figures came and went.

In the center-segment of Musashi, the starboard horizontal transport-passage that opened up in the starboard wall through a hatch was a delivery opening that sent the goods received from the continental port on the opposite side of the ship during Musashi’s stop to Musashino and Okutama.

At this time, the passage would be bustling with deliverers passing through with business or personal things…

“Ga-chan, by ‘upwards’ you mean you’re doing an ascending race in a gravitated space, right? Will you be coming out afterward?”

“That’s right; once I finish this job, let’s go again. Should we learn from Almirante or Marine? We’ve finally gotten recommended to EDEL Brocken as aerial-equipment testers by that lady Wildkamelie, so I want to do some customization of Weiss Fräulein. Same for your Schwarz Fräulein right?”

“Yeah.” Nodding at Naruze’s voice, audible from the Magi Figur, Naito once again raised the work permit she carried on her right arm. Sticking a broom into a cart laden with numerous small packages, she hurried towards the bow.

While moving through the voices and movements of the crowd, she sent her voice in response through the Magi Figur, its needle waving…

“Just wait a little bit, okay? Somehow today, the coming and going of goods is kinda strange and everyone is packed together. Nai-chan feels a little troubled. Just like Shiro said, goods are only coming onboard.”

“That’s fine, if there’s a lot coming from Mikawa then I should also move.”

From the other side of the Magi Figur, voices sounded from Naruze’s line. With her juniors’ voices…

“—The upperclassmen are going out into the sky! We’ll be cheering for you! We bet our club fees on you!”

“Ah, that’s right, this is also for the Manga Research’s new work, ‘Kobo-san’ …But, how much more goods do you need to transport?”

“I’ve only got one urgent delivery, I think? All the rest should be fine to do at night, probably. But well, it’s not good to be in too much of a hurry, right? A while ago, the KKK delivery section accidentally stuffed the Manga Research goods into K.P.A. Italia’s guest ship after all.”

“Yeah, three thousand books our club’s homo-section made for events. The King was a skillful-seme, wasn’t he?”

“Please refrain from putting real characters into your stories, Ga-chan. I mean, I think that the King is a clumsy-seme.”

“I wasn’t the one who drew it, you know. Well, I didn’t think that the King they sent here was going to voice an objection to Hexagone Française, but instead he objected to Lord Ita. The invention of printing techniques as a result of history recreation is cruel.”

“Well,” Naruze’s voice was audible from the handheld.

“I’ll finish up quickly, take my third victory today, and prepare for tonight. It’d be shameful if a Weiss Hexen and Schwarz Hexen made the night’s activities stink of the mood you have after returning from work.”

“That’s right.” Naito stopped in her tracks, because some people were bringing a 10-meter class large-scale wooden box from the transportation ship into the ship interior and the security officers of the horizontal transport-passage had given the traffic signals for pedestrians to stop for a while.

Naito, who lined up in the queue of people who had stopped, sighed and looked at Okutama and Musashino, visible beyond the spell windshield.

The special characteristics of Musashino were the ship-type bow and the spell controller that blanketed the sky of the stern like a roof. And as for Okutama, it had floors of residential districts and natural districts layered upon each other like stairs. Musashi Ariadust Academy was located on the highest level of those stairs, and the stair that went towards the starboard-side Remorse Way from in front of the Academy was clearly visible even from here.

It was a distance where one could make out the figures of those atop the stairs, but where individuals couldn’t be determined.

However, Naito looked at a single small figure sitting on the Academy stairs.

“Ga-chan… Can you see Kimi-chan?”

“Judge. —I can see her clearly from Musashino. Because Kimi isn’t moving.”

“Which is to say the chancellor hasn’t moved from the front of Remorse Way either, has he?”

“Yeah… Is there anything you’d like to say regarding those two?”

“Yeah,” Naito reached into the cart of small packages and grabbed hold of one of them.

“One urgent package is addressed to the student council, you know? The delivery label is printed with ‘Climax! Virgin Queen Elizabeth First Edition’, so the one who asked for this is the chancellor, huh.”

“Please choose whether you want to be serious or make a tsukkomi about it, Naito. Rather, didn’t he say that the eroge this morning was the last one?”

“This’s camouflaged as an educational package from IZUMO Divine Transmission’s educational program, ‘Working Grandpa’; they messed up the delivery label. This should be the continuation of ‘One After the Next with Henry VIII!’.”

“Like I said, please don’t make your comment include difficult references.”

“That so?” Naito, who tilted her head, looked beside her; looked at a figure there who, just like herself, was waiting on the traffic…

“Ah, it’s Seijun.”

At the sudden voice, Masazumi’s body shook.

She turned back, and at the tip of her gaze the six-golden-winged Naito was there. Masazumi looked at the pushcart and asked…

“…Your part-time job?”

“No, this is Nai-chan’s real job. What’re you doing?”

“Ah, I’m returning from Mikawa. And well, I was thinking of going towards the school, towards Remorse Way.”

“Judge, I see, at this time the ship exterior is pretty crowded, huh.”

“…? Naito? Has Masazumi come? If she has, tell her about tonight and that item…”

“Tonight?” At the voice that leaked from the Magi Figur, Masazumi tilted her neck. In response, Naito nodded…

“Ga-chan, I’ll do it right now, so wait… Then, um, Seijun, the chancellor said he was going to have a ‘ghost hunt’ at the school tonight. We meet at the stairs at 8:00 PM. Are you coming?”

Being asked, Masazumi felt a slight relief. They invited me, huh? However, she replied…

“Ah, no; earlier when we were outside I was told by President Sakai, but…”

“You can’t?”

In response to the question, Masazumi averted her gaze unintentionally and said…

“If everyone from the student council is there, then… It’d be a bad example.”

She, who muttered, “I’m sorry,” thought: I’m a letdown, aren’t I. But, speaking to make her understand…

“I’ll be at Murayama, so if I tried to go to Okutama at night, I’d have to pass the police-box during its night shift. If I did that, I’d be troubling my father as well.”

“Masazumi’s father is a big member of the provisional council, right?”

“Well… That’s right.”

She was a bit lost about how to answer, when suddenly Naito raised the package in her hand along with a smile.

“Then, I’ll give you this. It’s an item addressed to the student council.”

“Huh?” Accepting it even while asking, Masazumi looked at the delivery label of the package in her hand…

“Why is this addressed to the student council…”

“Could you just put that aside and bring it there for me? I mean, the chancellor is close to Remorse Way right now after all… I think you should go meet him, you know?”

“Why? Why should I meet him?”

At Masazumi’s question, Naito attached the portable vault she had taken from the cart to the latch behind her waist, and answered with a smile.

“Mm… It has something to do with the topic tomorrow. What’s popular is important to a young girl, after all.”

Right after she said it, Naito brought the cart right up to the wall; and removing her broom, she covered the cart. She locked it, and faster than Masazumi could turn around, behind her a breeze blew through the air where the wind of her passage passed through.

Eh?

Turning around, Masazumi saw that a group of men and women, each of them wearing the old flight uniforms of different countries and flying through the air with brooms, flying instruments, or with their own wings, had stopped in midair.

Several of them looked this way, in Naito’s direction…

“Come up here, ‘Zwei Fräulein!’ We won’t lose this time! We’ll show you the power of the old generation!”

Naito brushed the Orei Metallo (Wisdom Ore) at the tip of her broom, and turned around while carrying out her start-up operations.

She faced her delivery rivals, who were in the air beyond the startled Masazumi…

“Won’t you wait a bit? Ascending in gravitated space is Nai-chan and Ga-chan’s weakness, so I’d like to do it.”

“Overcoming your weakness, what spirit! You’re worthy of our training!”

“ ‘Almirante’, you’re already a geezer, so back down. When it comes to two-man units, we, the former aces of Hexagone Française have slightly above a 60% chance of victory against you two, who aren’t Technohexen.”

“Yeah? I’ll seriously drag out the anti-god of war combat manual from when I was in active duty and do some combat maneuvers…the fact that I was a small fry like you three years ago was because I’d been taught by troublesome brats.”

“Ahaha,” Naito laughed, and ran. Masazumi, who stood on the pathway, asked…

“…What…is all of this?”

“Ah, a race and mock battle that everyone from the delivery businesses is doing. We start when the observers are gone, so it’s called ‘Geheimnis Sabbat’. We do technical research and training, and we also make some money on the side by displaying it and betting on it.”

“I haven’t seen it from up close, but…”

“You should come with us this time, you know? There are going to be strange snacks up there, and we’re going to pull an all-nighter at Tsukiichi.”

“Right?” She called out, and everyone in the air nodded. Now, the clothes and equipment of those who had gathered were all from the aerial squadrons of every country. There were many people in Masazumi’s grade or younger, but she had heard that the reason that it was mainly irregular races and older witches was because they were people who had fled the oppression brought on by the hunting of heretics and gathered at Musashi.

In all the other countries, there was no time limit on graduation from the Academy; but in the Far East, it had been decided that graduation from the Academy comes at 18. Therefore, ever since they’ve come to Musashi they couldn’t be in service. However…

“Come now, aces of the current duty! The old aces have come to learn! Show us the skills that brought ‘Wildkamelie’ to her knees and led you to become testers for ‘EDEL Brocken’!”

“Ahaha, if Ga-chan isn’t here I can’t match you guys, though… If she were here, we’d be invincible.”

Leaving everyone, who said, “Go on, Go on!” in front of her, Naito waved to Masazumi and said…

“Then, please give the item to the chancellor, alright?”

“Ah, yes.” Turning her back to Masazumi, who said those words, Naito launched her body into the air.

She leapt into the empty sky. In response to the wind that naturally caught in her wings and the sensation of suspension where there’s no longer any support for her legs, Naito stuck the speedometer-type Magi Figur into her palm.

“Model Summon: Product Name ‘Beginning of a Sleeping Face’: Confirm.”

Technomagie is a spell that ARIA-calculates the expended ether in its most elementary unit, ATELL. However, the created spell is saved as a focal instrument, and if it’s necessary that calculation can be summoned immediately with no need for an ARIA. What was being carried out was that…

“ ‘Beginning of a Sleeping Face’: Quintet Activation: —Confirm.”

At the same time, three speedometers appeared at the brush-part of the broom. Two appeared at the tip.

“Oooh,” Almirante spoke…

“Aren’t you making any spells other than that one?! What umpteenth Model is that?”

“Spontaneous creation is wasteful, so I’m just saving the most appropriate one as a pattern. Everyone’s copying me, so the division of the pattern folder is troublesome… Anyways, I’ll do this without ‘Schwarz Fräulein’, so let’s race one round, alright? On the way there I’ll meet up with Ga-chan and we’ll do the second round, which is upwards, right?”

“Oooh,” as if taking in their voices, a shockwave of air burst out from the brush-part of the broom.

In the next instant, Naito’s body and vision rose up into the sky above Musashi.

The sky.

Below her, on the top of Musashi, bathing in the rays of the afternoon sun, there lay the expanses of towns and natural parks.

It’s so big. As she thought that, the heat waves and wind chasing her from below were visible to her gaze.

Everyone is chasing. Each one is adapting to my form, and learning. For me, who has no place where I belong as a witch and was brought along by the flow of life to Musashi, they’re an existence I’m thankful for. In the beginning, we had clashes; but as we kept going, I was recognized, I learned, and now we’re equal.

And furthermore…

The chancellor and Kimi-chan…

In front of the Academy on Okutama, there were two figures she knew in front of “Remorse Way”; but while Naito brought the tip of her broom to face the northern skies, she confirmed that the two were staying unmoving…

One round. Even if I do that, those two won’t move, right? Thus she thought.


Notes[edit]

  1. Shirasago contains the character , which means white.
  2. 告白を通る (To succeed in a confession) → 通し道歌 (Song of Passage); take note of the shared character.
  3. Last line of the Song of Passage.