Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 06
Chapter 6: Meeting Participant in Two Places at Once
More than which one came first
More than which one came second
Which one did not disappear?
Point Allocation (Both)
The aroma of butter and cooked wheat permeated that space.
It was a café filled with tables for two or four, and between those tables…
“Hey, Aoi, about that outfit…”
Masazumi called out to the crossdresser who was waiting the tables in nothing but an apron. She glared and pointed at him from one of the tables for four, but she hesitated over what to say.
“Are you insane?”
…Please tell me yes. That would make this so much easier.
Over by the room’s entrance, Asama glared at him and sent some kind of document to the guard station, but it was likely arrangements for the meeting later that night. Maybe.
Meanwhile, the apron crossdresser placed a long pizza on the table.
“Eat up. I guess I’ll be paying for you all.”
“Isn’t this your restaurant?”
“Technically, it’s the place my mom originally used. I’m the part-time manager.”
“I see,” said Mary sitting across from Crossunite at the port-most table. She looked back and forth between Aoi and Crossunite before continuing. “They explained this to me on the way here. Master Wet Man reopened this place on a whim when he was no longer visiting the Tama Blue Thunder.”
“Right, right. Mom was originally here and someone else ran the other one, but when it ended up vacant for certain reasons, mom closed this place and started using the other one. For a while, I ate breakfast at the other one, but I stopped when we lost Horizon. …And around middle school, I didn’t feel like just wandering around after school.”
“That’s right,” chimed in the Aoi sister who was passing out glasses of ginger ale.
She glanced to the spices on the kitchen counter, to the window, and to Asama.
“A lot happened here too. And when my foolish brother was wondering what to do, the government office showed up insisting all buildings on the surface carry out some kind of duty. At first we sold mom’s inventory, but then he started cooking here too since we had the equipment.”
“I see,” said Masazumi just as Mary had.
She had heard about those siblings’ past when in Mikawa, but this was her first time hearing about this in particular. If she had not run across Aoi earlier…
…It probably would have been a while before I had a chance to come here.
People are full of surprises, she thought. You try to understand them, but it’s never enough.
And so she kept her eyes on Aoi.
“You give things a lot of thought, don’t you?”
“Yep, especially my gags.”
The apron crossdresser lined up some tarts on the table.
Masazumi heard some laughter from the side. It came from Mitotsudaira who turned to face Mary.
“When Margot told you about her past before, you didn’t realize she was talking about this place, did you?”
“Judge. I’m shocked… So is this something of a hideout for all of you?”
“That’s right,” said Aoi. “Tenzou, you need to tell Mary this stuff. You don’t need to worry about my feelings. I know Mary won’t get any weird suspicions or anything.”
Crossunite scratched at his head and Mary smiled his way.
“But I appreciate how Master Tenzou worries about people’s feelings.”
“I am glad to hear it…”
“Ha ha,” laughed the crossdresser as he brought out another pizza.
What a harmonious atmosphere, thought Masazumi. And…
…Is this their normal atmosphere?
They tended to gather at school, the battlefield, or somewhere a lot like a battlefield. She could only think of one other time they had gathered somewhere private like this.
…Yes, it was when we gathered in front of the Blue Thunder after winning at Mikawa.
It was a different location today, but it was still the Blue Thunder.
But this still isn’t their normal selves, she decided. The word “normal” hardly applies given the Musashi’s condition and the surrounding situation.
At the very least…
“We need to work toward a comeback.”
And it’s our job to make sure that happens, she added just before the idiot tapped her head just once.
She wondered what he was doing, but…
She remembered that he had put his wig on her during Mikatagahara.
She decided to relax her shoulders and told herself she never again wanted to do something that would cause the others to lose their trust in her.
She gave a mental nod and the idiot handed a pizza cutter to Horizon who sat across from him. Then he grabbed her hand.
“Cut it with this, Horizon. Got that? Don’t do anything weird that’ll scare me, okay?”
“Oh? But this would ruin the flavor, so could you let go of my hand first, Toori-sama?”
“Tch. …Oh, but we can’t let it get cold. So Horizon, Nate, Bell-san, Mary, and the other one over there, feel free to get started. That leaves…”
“Judge.” Heidi raised her hand and pointed outside while operating a sign frame by the wall. “We have plans after this. …Oh, and it involves a meal, so you don’t have to worry about us.”
Muneshige smiled next to Gin.
“We already ate.”
“Then I’ll wrap up a tart just like these and you can eat it after you get home.”
“Thanks,” said Heidi.
Masazumi took that to mean she did not plan to eat much wherever she was going.
To the right of Horizon, Suzu smiled a little as she took the plate of pizza Horizon passed her.
“It’s been so long since…I’ve had one of…Toori-kun’s tarts… Can I…have one too?”
“Sure, sure. I’ll make room for five and cook them up, so any other takers?”
Everyone seemed to raise their hand, so Masazumi did too.
A sign frame appeared in the center of the room as if responding to her action.
Mal-Ga: “Make one for us too! We’ll be there right after work!”
Me: “If you insist. Maybe I’ll throw in the pot stickers I’ve been working on lately.”
Mal-Ga: “No, thank you!”
The apron-wearing nudist nodded as Naito sent word that they did want the pot stickers after all.
“Hmm, then I guess I’ll have to cut them up. Is that okay, Bell-san? I’ll make sure to also have some for your mom and dad ready for takeout.”
“Eh!? Oh, y-yes…th-that’s fine.”
Masazumi tried to figure out what Suzu’s frantically waving hands were supposed to mean.
At any rate, Gin lowered her giant false arm and tilted her head where she stood next to Heidi and Shirojiro.
“You asked us to join you, but is there any reason for us to be here?”
Next to her, Muneshige seemed to have the same question. They were trying not to say anything unnecessary, but Masazumi responded to their true question.
“Judge. There is.” She faced Muneshige. “The first order of business in this emergency meeting concerns you, Tachibana Muneshige. You are currently a normal student, but Musashi’s student council and chancellor’s officers wishes to nominate you as a temporary aide to the Vice Chancellor. As a nomination, it isn’t settled yet, but at least understand that we are making the necessary preparations. In other words…”
In other words…
“I want to send the two of you out to the front lines if we can.”
The first to react was Gin rather than Muneshige. She shook the small hat unique to a Tres Españan summer uniform.
“Are you attempting to take in Tres España to restore the Musashi’s rights?”
…I had a feeling they’d be cautious.
So Masazumi spoke the rebuttal she had already prepared.
“How will making Tres España’s former 1st and 3rd Special Duty Officers aides to our Vice Chancellor restore our rights?”
That must have been what Gin expected because she only said “I see” and corrected her posture. It was as if she had only wanted to know that Masazumi understood that.
A sighing voice broke the silence that followed.
“Differences in rank mean different things to different people, don’t they?”
It was Mitotsudaira who sat across from Masazumi on Horizon’s left. She grabbed a slice of pizza and her nose twitched as the apron crossdresser carried over a pot of egg and spinach.
“This is purely meant to strengthen our fighting force, isn’t it? After all…”
She was briefly distracted when Horizon fanned the over the aroma of the pot and plate the idiot handed her, but she finally recovered.
“Excuse me. …Um, to be blunt, our Vice Chancellor has lost her primary weapon, so we could use the help of someone who fought evenly with Shibata Katsuie at Magdeburg.”
“Judge. I see.” Gin erased her expression. “When will Tonbokiri be repaired?”
The answer came from Naomasa who was leaning against the wall opposite Gin and to Masazumi’s left.
“We left it with Kantou IZUMO, but they don’t even have an estimate. Our Musashi IZUMO gathered what information it could, but it was special-made in Mikawa. With the core damaged, repairing it is a lot like remaking a Logismoi Óplo.”
A bitter smile rang out as Naomasa shrugged and looked Masazumi’s way.
“Masazumi, where is Futayo? I’ve been going back and forth on whether I should be the bearer of bad news or keep it from her.”
“Oh, Futayo went to the Tama Blue Thunder by mistake. …Why are all of you hanging your heads?”
I did explain it to her, but since she can be a little hardheaded, maybe she thought I was mistaken. But anyway…
“It would be a pain to have her head over here now, so I told her to eat there. …Asama.”
“Yes, I’m keeping a log of the meeting, so I’ll send it to everyone involved with a security spell. When people are taking part via sign frame, there’s a possibility of someone spying on it.”
“Hm? Tomo, someone could be spying over the divine network?”
“Judge,” replied Masazumi while shaking her head.
Is this what Mukai’s gesture before meant? she wondered with a bitter smile in her heart.
“Normally, most student council and chancellor’s officers meetings are sent to the representative committee, the provisional council, any other related committees, and the teams working under the Special Duty Officers.”
“I would rather not think about it,” said Crossunite, “but does that mean everyone’s been seeing the awful things we say and do?”
“Crossunite, the meetings are generally focused on me, you know?”
“Judge.” Horizon nodded expressionlessly. “You have nothing to worry about, Masazumi-sama. Just because your jokes bomb does not mean you actually lose any…thing…”
She trailed off and an odd sweat began pouring down her expressionless face. After a moment, she looked to Asama by the wall.
“Please help me out. Make it something funny. Yes, Masazumi-sama’s life depends on it.”
“Ehh!? Wh-why me!? I’m not a funny girl!”
“You must have very high standards for ‘funny’, Asama-sama. …Now, go.”
“Eh? Go? Um, wait…”
Sensing everyone’s focus on her, Asama blushed and pressed her back against the wall. Finally, she squeezed her arms around her breasts to accentuate the two mounds and the parting line down the center.
“Look, I have a butt on my chest.”
Mal-Ga: “She’s a shrine maiden, so why does she always come up with that kind of joke? Does she want me to take notes?”
Flat Vassal: “Um, I’m on guard duty out front, but can I click my tongue?”
Righteousness: “I’m on guard duty too, but can you all please get back on topic?”
Asama: “Ahhhh, I’m sorry everyone…”
“That’s right,” said Masazumi.
She put a slice of pizza in her mouth and wished she had waited until after this to take a bath.
…For now, the chancellor’s officers and student council can share what’s going on.
“Secretary Neshinbara isn’t here…but let’s get started anyway.”
“Judge,” agreed Heidi. “Neshinbara was scheduled to check the retrieved resources on the back of Okutama, so he should be here after that. He’s probably digging through all the doujinshi.”
“C’mon, Auge-chan, Neshinbara isn’t that kind of guy. …If he was digging through them, he’d definitely be giving us an overly-excited running commentary. Something else must be keeping him.”
“Hm, what could he be doing?”
Heidi and Erimaki, the Mouse on her shoulder, both tilted their heads and Shirojiro spoke up next to her.
“Heidi, renew the arrangements for the cargo and other matters.”
“Judge. Asama-chi, can you wait five seconds to start the meeting? …There, all done!”
As soon as Heidi smiled and tapped the “approved” mark on her sign frame, Asama nodded.
“Then I’ll place a barrier around this room and the surrounding area. I’ll make sure Naito and Naruze are automatically added in once they arrive.”
Gold Mar: “Roger that.”
Hanami: “Constructing barrier. Clap!”
A few sign frames blossomed and Masazumi felt her surroundings grow a little bright. Then she heard a distant sound like rustling bamboo grass.
…An information-blocking barrier, huh?
Suddenly, she heard Asama’s voice.
“Ah! Excuse me! That’s it! Wait! Please leave everything as is!!”
Masazumi turned around to find Asama pointing their way. Her finger and Mitotsudaira and Naomasa’s gazes were all directed toward something.
“Horizon’s sign frame!”
Asama saw it clearly. The torii cross sign frame next to Horizon’s face was staticky, but it did not go away.
One would occasionally appear independent of Horizon’s will.
…It really did come out!?
Horizon’s sign frames came from the OS controlling her automaton body, so they did not belong to the Asama Shrine which primarily managed Musashi’s Shinto control.
That was why Horizon’s OS had reacted to Asama’s information-blocking barrier.
A normal independent OS would be caught by the defense program and automatically rejected.
This one, however, was forcibly negating that, even if it had grown somewhat staticky.
…But this information-blocking barrier uses the same format as Musashi’s stealth.
“What is this, Asama-sama?”
Horizon herself focused on Asama without seeming particularly worried. If it was a spell program, Asama had the specialist knowledge to understand what it meant. But more importantly…
“Um, can you control that sign frame for me? …Hanami.”
Hanami jumped from Asama’s shoulder and toward Horizon. She pulled a few program sign frames from her sleeves and held them up for Horizon to see.
“I can only guess at this point, but that is most likely a program meant to link Horizon’s sign frames to our divine transmission network. If her OS was made in Mikawa, I should be able to sync with it using an Asama-style OS prayer, since Mikawa is under our jurisdiction. Horizon, can you start it up and install it?”
“Judge. You need my administrator privileges, don’t you?’
“Yes, exactly. You should be able to install it like that.”
Asama inhaled once and continued.
“But this is your decision, Horizon. This program is meant to sync your sign frames with our divine transmission network, which will make it much more convenient for you to take part in our meetings. But the control information could have other applications depending on how it is used, so it could lead to something neither of us wants. So…”
Horizon used her finger to slide the torii icon on the spell Hanami held up for her and she placed her own sign frame on top of it.
“I do not wish to be a doll that can only be spoken to. I believe my sign frames have started appearing because I have grown accustomed to my emotions and my abilities are being strengthened. If I can use this, I have determined I should do so even if it is not easy.”
Her sign frame and the icon both moved. The icon became countless sign frames and Horizon’s torii cross one absorbed them all while inspecting their contents.
Everyone looked to the displayed words. Asama knew them quite well.
“It’s performing a quarantine inspection. It has to be sure the program I created is safe.”
“Authenticated: Asama Shrine Main Prayer.”
“Inspection: Sexual Inspection – Incomplete, Perversion Inspection – Incomplete, R-Rating Inspection – Incomplete.”
The others backed away and a dull sweat appeared on Asama’s face.
…This is standard! I swear this is a standard check!
Horizon gave a mysterious thumb’s up, but Asama had no idea how to respond.
At any rate, the inspection soon finished and the spell was incorporated. All of the sign frames closed and Horizon’s vanished too.
“Did it fail, Asama-sama?”
“No, it just needs to restart. Horizon, imagine you want to talk with someone and raise your right hand like this.”
Horizon raised her right hand and a sign frame appeared at her fingertips. But…
“The Asama Shrine?”
“No, it just uses one of our spell sign frames to call up yours. See?”
As she spoke, the standard Asama Shrine sign frame vanished and Horizon’s torii cross one opened.
Satisfied with the impressed voices coming from the others, Asama explained to Horizon.
“It wasn’t installed directly to your OS. Instead, I had it installed to your OS’s spare memory. So when it starts up, it activates one of our spells which calls in and stabilizes your sign frame. The internal processing simply recorded your authorization procedure and won’t interfere with the main process, so it should be safer.”
“Oh?” Naomasa raised her eyebrows as she looked to Horizon’s sign frame and commented with the others. “Asama-chi, you have some surprising talents.”
“Yes, I’m surprised you can do this, Tomo.”
“I know, right? It’s really surprising that Asama can do this.”
“Um, I get the feeling you’re rejecting a big part of me.”
Horizon gave another thumb’s up, so Asama did the same.
Horizon then made her sign frame appear and disappear a few times, but…
“Judge. Understood. …Thank you very much, Asama-sama.”
“No, no. With a unique OS like yours, it’s safer for both of us if we have a way of speaking to each other. I will do whatever I can if you have any problems, so I look forward to working with you. …Okay, um, Masazumi, sorry for the interruption.”
Masazumi smiled bitterly and nodded her way, but…
“Sorry we’re late!”
The café door opened and two colors entered along with the outside air. The black and gold wore summer uniforms and both had six wings.
“Oh, Naito and Naruze are here. …Sorry about all the time spent on setup, Masazumi. You can start the meeting now.”
She opened her mouth after noting that everyone’s focus had shifted back to her after turning toward Naito and Naruze as they sat by the wall.
“For the upcoming secret meeting with the Date clan, I wanted to gather Musashi Ariadust Academy’s student council and chancellor’s officers to check over our current and future policies.”
She was confident they all pretty much knew what those were.
“Currently, we are dealing with the effects that our loss at Mikatagahara will have on Musashi and the other nations. Then we need to know what to do about Oushuu.”
“Seijun, have you made a decision about what comes next?”
“Judge,” said Masazumi. “Oushuu has been in a constant struggle between Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date, but Russia is currently fighting P.A. Oda and both Mogami and Date have stopped doing anything ever since Hashiba stopped by two weeks ago to ‘check on their history recreation’.”
“According to the Testament descriptions, Sviet Rus and Mogami both begin to decline after Sekigahara. At the same time, the Date clan conquers Oushuu. So my tentative plan is to keep cooperation with Date as our bare minimum standard of success here. Only after getting Date on our side will we move on to Mogami and Sviet Rus.”
In other words…
“At tonight’s secret meeting with Date, we need to establish a pipeline with the Date clan no matter what it takes. In my mind, that is our best possible move here.”
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