Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 14
Chapter 14: Resting Girl in a Double Location
Why does the word “nostalgia”
Have such backwards facing
Ring to it?
Point Allocation (Looking Back)
A large space was still filled with darkness.
Eight giant containers held kilometer long ships that were being remodeled.
Each ship was mostly covered by sheets and prefab wooden structures, and sounds of work came from every site lit by the nighttime illumination.
However, there was one spot that was lit yet had sounds other than work.
It was in one corner of a materials yard at the far back of the overall space. For a while now, lights had been shining from the ceiling and an alarm would sound at a regular interval.
Someone looked down at it from the main bridge crossing the central space.
“Honestly, Nezu-kun, it hasn’t even been four hours since we got here and we’re already causing bloodshed in the materials yard to take out Musashi’s Secretary?”
“When things happen, they happen. And when you make them happen, you make them happen, Anayama. Keep in mind that the Ariake is also an event site.”
That reply came from a boy wearing a work vest over a Far Eastern summer uniform. His name was Nezu, his barely opened mouth did not move, and he stared to aft with his elbows on the bridge railing.
His eyes were focused on a certain position in the largescale materials yard. A spotlight shined on that one area and a few work gods of war were on the scene.
They were restoring the collapsed areas once they were done being inspected.
As he watched that, he stepped on a screw fallen at his feet.
“The collapse injured some workers and guards, but the details are still unknown… Yuri did this on her own, didn’t she? It was a little too noticeable if you ask me.”
“The plan was to have Yuri-kun do most of the work with Isa-kun assisting, so I assume that’s what happened. The question is how it turned out. …Are you worried about Yuri-kun?”
Despite the question, Anayama himself was nowhere to be seen.
Other than the people who sometimes walked past, Nezu was the only one here. Still, he spoke as if letting his voice drop down over the side of the bridge.
“We have nowhere else to go, so why wouldn’t we be worried for each other?”
“We have nowhere to go, but we have somewhere we managed to reach and somewhere that has accepted us, don’t we?”
“That’s only because our teachers were so kind,” said Nezu. “History and power were not so kind. …We assumed our future was set in stone and that it was destiny, so we let our guard down. And that’s why we ended up being ‘Unneeded’.”
“What’s wrong with that? We found our way to a kind place in the end.”
“Yuri and I still feel guilty for what happened.”
“What?” asked Nezu.
“I’m impressed you lasted nearly three weeks on the Ariake when you take everything so seriously and love talking so much.”
“Yes, about a week after I arrived, a naked boy fell down a pit on the work site and a chain pulled him back up again, but it only elicited some scattered applause from the people around me. That was when I decided this place will lead you down the wrong path in life.”
“I became a cold character who lives in his own world. I only have to cut myself off from the outside world and everyone around me will decide for me what kind of character I am.”
“I see. …You’ve grown, Nezu-kun. The icy boy who would tell people ‘it isn’t your fault’ every time he attacked them has started making masochistic jokes. I’m impressed by the Ariake’s brainwashing effect.”
“I don’t recall saying that every time I attacked. Only about seven or eight times out of ten.”
“But when I work, I do it like you would, so don’t worry. …You have work to do yourself, don’t you? On the intelligence gathering front.”
“Yes, that’s my specialty and I have a lot to do there.” The wind moved a bit as the voice spoke. “Honestly, it must be the Musashi’s doing that I feel like the world is beginning to move and we’re at the center of it all. What a convenient age we live in.”
“…Are you fine not playing the lead role?”
Nezu’s question was not answered. The voice spoke of something else.
“Nezu-kun, it’s about time. The lift is descending. The next move will be taking place down below, so give me some help. …Yes, help me face Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.”
A few torch spells illuminated a wooden room.
It was a Far Eastern style room, but it had more Western style ceiling and it was filled with barrels, firewood, and food.
The entrance was left wide open and a sign was set up on an easel. It was the Blue Thunder’s sign with an added notice saying, “During the remodeling, we will be open 24 hours a day.”
There was only one customer inside looking at the sign. She was sitting in front of a teacup after finishing her food at the table.
“Futayo-chan? …I can call you ‘-chan’, right?”
Futayo gave a small nod to the voice leaving the kitchen in the back of the café. Her hands were placed together on her lap.
“Judge. I do not mind at all.”
“Oh, so you’re still using that old-fashioned speech style, are you? It sounds pretty authentic, unlike Tenzou’s.”
Oh, she must mean that ninja, realized Futayo.
He was always hiding his presence, so she sometimes viewed him simply as a moving part of the background.
…Mary-sama does well to actually perceive him.
Having a spirit-user’s sight and having him interact with her may help there, she thought. But it must be my inexperience preventing me from perceiving him, she also thought.
That thought brought her eyes to the spear leaning against the chair next to her.
It was the replica of Tonbokiri made by Kantou IZUMO.
The real one was currently being repaired at Kantou IZUMO.
That meant she only had a fake.
But even as a fake, it was exactly like the real one except for the main device. The shaft could extend just the same, the weight distribution was identical, and a substitute cutting spell could be voice-activated.
“And when jumping or running, the spell gyros detect it, causing lights to flash and spell sound effects to play…”
If her father had been alive, he would have killed to get his hands on it. She could easily imagine her childish father teasing Kazuno while mimicking the sound effects – “Hyuhhh… Chubyuhhhhhn! Supyoh zupyoh!!” – and ending up having her chase him around with butcher knives.
…But thinking about that sort of thing makes me feel fainthearted.
She wanted to stop clinging to the past.
She wanted to focus on and think about the here and now.
There was no problem with the Tonbokiri replica. The main OS’s thought patterns used the same program as the real one and the memories would be transferred over once the real one was fixed, but…
“Because it is the same as the real one…it will not recognize me as its master.”
The spear remained silent. The dragonfly indicator on the main device indicated the remaining ether fuel, but it remained entirely red because she had not used it. According to the manager of Kantou IZUMO’s Kashima Shrine Division where it had been developed: “This is a tiny version of Tonbokiri’s ability. Please get by with that for now.”
…But it does not matter if I cannot activate it.
She had told Masazumi, Horizon, and the black algae creatures about it and they had said the following:
“Regaining your power is your job, but tell me if there is anything I can do to help.”
“If you are hungry, stop by the Blue Thunder.”
But there was nothing they could do to help at the moment, I stopped by the Blue Thunder as I was hungry, and I suppose I am feeling depressed, she thought. They are all looking in the right direction.
As she nodded a few times, a voice and some movement approached.
“Here’s what you had leftover plus tomorrow’s breakfast.”
A paper bag was held out from the side of the table and Futayo looked to who was holding it.
Futayo remained seated, but she corrected her posture and bowed.
Her ponytail spilled forward, but she snapped it back when she raised her head.
“Thank you very much.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s a parent’s duty to assist their children’s friends.”
That was exactly what she had just decided not to think about, so she indulged in that answer and simply accepted it.
But the manager tilted her head, looked at Futayo’s body, and focused on her arms and cheeks.
“Were you training?”
Futayo had healing charms on various parts of her body and she gave a quick nod.
“Judge. Naito-dono and Asama-dono gave me these. …I told them I was fine without them, but they insisted.”
“Yeah, that sounds like Go-chan and Tomo-chan. It probably isn’t the best idea for the Vice Chancellor to be showing off fresh injuries, but at the moment, maybe you should show off that you’ve been training hard enough to hurt yourself.”
“Asama-dono said the same thing.”
“Ah ha ha. She beat me to the punch, did she?”
The manager laughed with her hands on her hips, but then Futayo asked her a question.
“Manager-dono, have you known the others for a long time?”
“For the most part. …After we lost Horizon, my idiot stopped coming here. That cut me off from some of them, but, well, it’s the present that matters.”
“Then what is this place?”
“Technically, this is the Blue Thunder and our home is the Main Blue Thunder. This place was originally run by a friend of mine, but when we lost her, I thought it would be best to preserve the place.”
The manager smiled toward port where the Musashino was in its dock.
“But after we lost Horizon…I guess that was in middle school? Well, the kids said they wanted to use the main one at home.”
“You mean the id-…the Chancellor and Kimi-dono?”
“And all the others.”
After saying that, the manager noticed Futyao’s teacup.
The tea had gone cold, so she picked it up and walked lightly back to the kitchen.
“How about I get you something cuter?”
“Thank you, but that is not necessary.”
“Then I’ll get you some cocoa.”
Anticipation filled Futayo’s heart when she heard that.
…That is that Western bean tea!!
Kazuno-sama once made some of that. My father took one sip and shouted “What the hell!? This is too sweet! Soy sauce! Let’s put some soy sauce in!” He did put soy sauce in, but once he got the ratio just right, it made a decent soy sauce dessert. But then Lord Motonobu worked out the ratio himself and stole the rights to the drink. Ever since losing that business opportunity, the word cocoa was banned in our house as an “enemy word”.
Wasn’t I not supposed to be thinking about the past? I need to work harder at that.
Then the manager spoke from the kitchen.
“By the way, Futayo-chan, did you hit your back?”
Did I let it show in my movements? she wondered with a tilt of her head.
“I was doing some wall running for training, but my foot slipped.”
“Oh, that thing Tenzou does?”
“No, it was with the Tachibana couple. The three of us have been having sex a lot lately.”
It took about five seconds before the response came.
“…Oh, s-sorry about that. You caught me off guard with that one. Yeah, I’ll scold someone or other for that one later, but you can keep doing it since it’s kind of funny. So, um…”
Futayo heard the manager say “judge” and move around in the kitchen.
“Futayo-chan, have you found a decent teacher or dojo?”
She had never thought about it, but she did hear the word “judge” from the side.
“I’m sure you got some excellent training from your family, but once you move away from all that, you’ll grow lax with the fundamentals. You need a training plan that matches the rising physical abilities of a growing girl. Do you have a place or a person to manage that for you?”
“…No, I do not.”
“Then it’s impressive you’ve been fighting so well.”
Is that how it works? thought Futayo when she saw the manager’s bitter smile. My father and Kazuno-sama did not have someone they could call a master.
…That must mean I am inferior to them.
As she was reminded of that fact, the manager smiled, nodded, and placed a bamboo bottle on the table.
“Here’s some iced cocoa. I put it in a to-go cup, so take your time and drink it at home. And take the time to think about some things, okay? After all…”
“That too is an important part of being Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.”
“If Futayo joined a dojo somewhere, it would be easier for me to deal with. She has a personal contract with our shrine, but she doesn’t have the divine protection provided by a dojo contract.”
Masazumi listened to Asama in a shaking, elevated place.
That place was atop a hand. Specifically, Jizuri Suzaku’s right hand. They were on their way to the materials collapse where Neshinbara had gone missing. Or that was the plan, but…
…I-it’s really shaking!!
In addition to shaking up and down like it was going to throw her off, it was shaking left and right too. Masazumi had only avoided falling off by clinging to Jizuri Suzaku’s single raised finger (the middle one), but…
Tsukinowa seems happy, so this is actually kind of an enjoyable attraction, she thought. Still, it’s a little too dangerous for the owner.
With her arms wrapped around Suzaku’s middle finger, Masazumi looked back toward Asama who sat on the wrist.
“Y-you’re not having any trouble, Asama?”
“Eh? With what?”
…Is it because her body has more ballast!? No, now that I think about it, she can ride on Persona-kun’s shoulder just fine too. …Wait, that doesn’t disprove the ballast theory at all! Wait, wait. Now that I think about it even more, Mitotsudaira rode on this during the Battle of Mikawa. That must mean it’s just my utter lack of athletic ability. So that’s it. Hmm.
She then asked about something she had noticed.
“Naomasa, why is everyone on the road running away from us?”
“What?” Naomasa gave a quiet snort of laugher from Suzaku’s shoulder. “Now. You all had better speed up, or you’re in trouble.”
As he worked at a construction site, Noriki watched Jizuri Suzaku in the distance and opened his inro-style portable shrine.
Laborer: Hey, is anyone there? The Suzaku has been walking around threatening people with its middle finger raised, so did something upset Naomasa?”
Flat Vassal: “Ohh, maybe she didn’t like that she was never mentioned during that awful conversation despite being an elder sister character.”
Laborer: “If you understand it, then you deal with it.”
Flat Vassal: “Oh, judge, understood. 6th Special Duty Officer…”
<Calling: confirmed. Response: confirmed.>
Smoking Girl: “Yeah? What is it?”
Flat Vassal: “Judge. …You want to be treated as a part of the elder sister genre too, don’t you!?”
Smoking Girl: “Hey, someone get Adele to a good brain doctor.”
Flat Vassal: “Wh-why would you jump to that conclusion!?”
Asama: “But Adele, you have taken a lot of blows to the head lately, so it’s okay if you’ve gone crazy. We all understand.”
Flat Vassal: “Huh? Huh? I feel like I’m being treated nicely in the worst possible way.”
Why are all of their conversations so weird? wondered Masazumi as Jizuri Suzaku came to a stop.
They had arrived at the scene.
That materials yard was located between Okutama and Musashino and the Musashi’s replacement armor panels were piled up there.
“It feels weird for them to be stacked up higher than a god of war.”
“That’s because the work can only be done inside the dock. They had about as many replacement parts stacked up alongside the dock at IZUMO too.”
Even as the Vice President, Masazumi felt she still had a lot to learn about Musashi and its surroundings.
The metal hand below her feet and the metal finger between her arms both trembled. Jizuri Suzaku was lowering its hand to the floor.
“Masazumi, we’re heading down.”
Asama took her hand and helped her stand up. That was likely to help her with the unfamiliar footing, so Masazumi did not resist the urge to place a hand on Asama’s shoulder while trying to keep anyone else from noticing.
“Think nothing of it.”
Asama smiled and so did Masazumi when she saw Hanami greet Tsukinowa. And by the time Jizuri Suzaku’s arm reached the dimly-lit floor…
“Oh, Masazumi-dono…and Asama-dono too. Naruze-dono and the others are performing the inspection over there.”
Having arrived ahead of them, Crossunite pointed deeper in to direct them. A valley between the piled-up materials created something of a passageway, and…
“What is this?”
It looked to Masazumi like a mountain of papers had collapsed. It was so large that she could not keep her eyes off of it as Asama took her hand and helped her to the floor.
…So this is the materials collapse.
Giant armor panels were stacked up so high she could not see the top. Some had shifted out of place, some had fallen, some had tilted, and some were standing on end in a group.
The worst of the collapse was the mountain near them. The center of the pile had shifted port to form a sideways “V” shape and knocked over the neighboring pile.
“What could have caused that?”
A male voice answered her. It came from a middle-aged man in a lab coat.
“One theory is that the joints in the floor became temporarily disconnected, but I can’t agree with that. …Oh, long time no see. I’m Kantou IZUMO Representative Mishina Shouichi. …I’m glad I could introduce myself like this.”
He placed a hand on his head and gave a quick bow.
“Thank you for taking such good care of my Hiro.”
Masazumi saw Shouichi gesture toward the collapse.
“I don’t want to just stand around here, so how about we hurry up and get on with the inspection? Either way, we need to take this seriously to ensure everyone’s safety in the future. After all…”
“Judge. I’d heard. There were injuries, weren’t there?”
He nodded and brought out his sword-shaped Mouse. Asama also nodded and brought out Hanami who exchanged a few sign frames with the sword.
Asama: “Okay, I have prepared an exclusive data area for you, representative. Only those involved in the inspection can access the conversation.”
Vice President: “Tell us.”
481: “There were six injuries. Five of them were guards caught in the collapse while out on patrol, but…”
Vice President: “But?”
Mal-Ga: “Judge. One of the injuries was from a sword. Tenzou checked and confirmed it. For the time being, we’ve told the PR Committee they were ‘caught in the collapse’.”
481: “Oh, you stole my line.”
Mal-Ga: “You should be thankful all I did was steal it. With my skill, I can rewrite your lines into shameful cries.”
10ZO: “Leave it to Naruze-dono to make something like that sound cool.”
This has devolved into chaos, thought Masazumi while watching Tsukinowa tilt its head on her shoulder.
“Can we see the scene?”
“Judge. We’ve gotten it accessible. This way.”
Shouichi and Tenzou faced the moving gods of war and workers. There were also some guards and some others watching curiously from a distance. Masazumi began walking while watching the working people and listening to the questioning voices.
…Would you look at that.
When something happens, it really gathers attention, she thought while making her way to the scene.
|Back to Chapter 13||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 15|