Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 19
Chapter 19: Girl Seated in the Morning Sun
Sunlight different from the setting sun
Shines on this place
In this time for making up your mind
Point Allocation (Self-Questioning)
The Musashi seemed to have sunk inside the Ariake’s giant dock and it was illuminated by the morning sunlight recreated by sign frames.
The Ariake’s bow faced south, so the reproduced sunlight from the east shined on the port side.
To the west of Musashi Ariadust Academy on the rear central ship of Okutama, the morning sun and the school building’s shadow reached a certain house at the same time.
The small, single-story house was surrounded by a yard on all sides. The bow end of the house had the sliding door removed and three walls left open. Currently, a casually-dressed middle aged man sat on the veranda.
He glanced behind him into the opened-up room where two automatons sat in front of a divine monitor producing a large widescreen sign frame.
Black disks were piled up next to them as they viewed the footage playing on the sign frame.
“ ‘Okutama’, I have a question about this Peace Sentai Augustus you have been showing me. What is the meaning of the main character Octavianus’s catch phrase ‘I am Octavianus, the Father of the Country! Now, stick out your ass for a dreadful eight!’? Over.”
“ “Musashi’-sama, this is the series that came before Saint of Docking: Valentine, so…oh, but you did not see that one, did you? In either case, it is set on the Mediterranean, so it is quite passionate without crossing the gender line. Also, it is a three-member party now, but in another two episodes, Octavianus is unable to restrain his passion for his teammates and the party falls apart. Over.”
“Judge.” “Musashi” nodded and turned back toward the gaze watching them from the veranda. “Why are you wasting your money on this, Sakai-sama?”
“Well, you know. I wanted to see this when I was a kid, but I had too many lessons to take for inheriting my name. Now that they have a box set out, of course I’m going to buy it. Don’t you have things like that, ‘Musashi’-san? How old are you anyway? Before the great remodeling, wasn’t the Musashi built thirty years ago? Or should I go back 160 years to the construction of the large aerial ship it was based on?”
“Do you wish to be younger than your aide, Sakai-sama? Over. Oh, and a correction. I officially claim to be ten years old. That is when I went through my renewal. Over.”
“ ‘Musashi’-sama…that makes you the same age as us. Over.”
“Okutama” looked away from the screen, but “Musashi” expressionlessly placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Is that a problem? Over.”
“No, not really… But what were you like back then? Over.”
“Okutama” removed her data examination glasses as she asked and Sakai nodded.
“I hitched a ride a few times, like when I went to investigate the Chichibu Mountains, but at the time, she was an OS girl inside a sign frame. I think she occasionally entered a prototype body.”
“I am still a girl. I do not age. Over.”
“I even brought her some additional data from Tono-sensei for her to install.”
“I have heard from the engineers that my ability to develop myself was a primary focus during my OS days. In other words, the decision-making subroutines I built up back then are still being used today. Over.”
“Musashi” was not done speaking.
“And during the great remodeling, I gained this body, but as Sakai-sama said, I had a base body before that and I would install myself into it when needed. Although during my renewal, memories of the old ship could have caused a more awkward transition, so my memories up until then were erased. …The same goes for ‘Musashino’, ‘Takao’, and ‘Oume’. Over.”
“Originally, ‘Musashi’-san commanded from Okutama in a four-ship setup along with Musashino, Takao, and Oume. Later, ships for diplomacy and transportation were added. Thirty years ago, they were made into the first and second port and starboard ships. And during the great remodeling ten years ago, they were made official ships.”
“Judge. That is when I was made the captain of all ships and ‘Okutama’, ‘Tama’, ‘Murayama’, ‘Shinagawa’, and ‘Asakusa’ were added as captain automatons for the individual ships. In that way, it was not so much a remodeling as it was a renewal to officially add on the ships we already had. Over.”
“Musashi” looked to Sakai again.
“But, Sakai-sama, why are you bringing up this nostalgic information that almost feels unknown even though I remember it? And why did you call me here during such a busy morning? Over.”
“Oh, yeah. I have some business that requires your detailed knowledge of the Musashi. There’s a lot I don’t know, so I’d like your help.”
Before “Musashi” could finish her question, she looked up because someone had bowed and entered the house.
“Musashi” looked to exactly the person mentioned in her question.
…What is this about?
As “Musashi” wondered that, Futayo noticed her. The girl looked to Sakai but raised her head a little when she saw “Musashi”. “Musashi” concluded it was an expression of “surprise”.
But Futayo quickly corrected the position of her eyebrows, closed her eyes, and bowed toward the automaton.
She circled to the front of the veranda with a calm, undisturbed pace. Noticing how the girl moved not too much and not too little, “Musashi” was reminded of Kazuno, the automaton who had supposedly helped raise the girl.
There were likely many differences between a captain automaton and one that lived in a city. Especially in relation to knowledge and the mutual divine transmissions of shared memories, their databanks and functionality would be quite different.
But when it came to something as uncertain as a human being…
…It is hard to believe an automaton could give them such perfect movements through the process known as training.
What knowledge and skills had the automaton named Kazuno had? And what kind of modifications had she undergone to teach them?
Indirectly sensing someone who had to be one of the world’s greatest, “Musashi” belatedly carved her own deficiencies into her memory. And into her shared memory.
<Listen, everyone. The Ariake’s automatons have been helping us a lot lately, but nothing good will come of getting lazy. Complete two hundred sets of thirty items of laundry during your work today. Over.>
The others sent back complaints over the shared memory. Behind her, “Okutama” set the sign frame to play at three-times speed, presumably to work through the black disks faster. The sound sped up.
“I-am-Octavianus-the-Father-of-the-Country! Now-stick-out-your-ass-for-a-dreadful-eight! Fwohhhh!”
…Is ‘a dreadful eight’ meant to sound like ‘a dreadful fate’?
Back when it was airing, she might have been able to solve that mystery by sending in a question, but hoping for an answer now was meaningless. She placed the question on hold and looked to Sakai.
He already had his back to her.
Futayo slowly got down on one knee and “Musashi” asked Sakai a question as he faced the girl.
“Sakai-sama, should I prepare some tea? Over.”
“No, I’d prefer you were here, ‘Musashi’-san. Tamako, you get the tea.”
“Eh? But the main character is in the middle of his seventh time. …‘Musashi’-sama, you’ve learned that look gets results, haven’t you? Judge. I’ll take care of that. Over.”
Futayo watched “Okutama” with an unconcerned and expressionless look. Based on the girl’s gaze, she may have had a habit of observing how people walked. Based on the level of the automaton who had taught her, “Musashi” could guess that their movements contained a lot of waste.
…But why would he want me to be here for this?
“Anyway.” Sakai spoke to Futayo without turning back toward “Musashi”. “Da’s Daughter-kun, I’m not really sure how much help I can be for what you’re asking. But I do have someone here who knows more about the Musashi than anyone else, so try asking her.”
“You can’t do it yourself, Principal Sakai?”
“I’m already relying on my age, you see.”
He laughed bitterly before continuing.
“Da’s Daughter-kun, you would be better off with something more straightforward, not my kind of cheap tricks. …Oh, but I’m not forcing you or anything. That way just seems, well, like more fun.”
“Sakai-sama. May I ask something? Over.”
He still did not turn around, so “Musashi” asked her question while aware she was glaring at him.
“What exactly is Futayo-sama asking for? Over.”
“Tell her, Da’s Daughter-kun.”
“Judge.” Futayo sat the rest of the way down and placed Tonbokiri’s spare next to her. “I am searching for someone who will act as my teacher, or for a dojo or similar organization to join.”
“Musashi” concluded that was an impossible request.
She instantly searched for every type of dojo on the Musashi and checked the footage from their demonstrations and competitions stored in the Musashi’s databanks, but…
“I doubt anywhere on the Musashi would be able to satisfy someone as skilled as you, Futayo-sama. Over.”
“No, I am not trying to challenge the dojo and I am not simply looking for a place to train.”
Futayo met “Musashi’s” gaze with a powerful one of her own and spoke.
“I am still continuing my training from my time in Mikawa. I have also included the basic training from Oriotorai-dono’s lessons to create my own personal style.”
“Judge. I have determined Oriotorai-sama’s lessons are quite unfair and aggressive for a member of mankind, but is that still not enough? Why not ask her to be your training teacher as well as your schoolteacher? Over.”
“Musashi” had searched through all the active fighters and Oriotorai best fit the requirements, but Futayo shook her head.
“Oriotorai-dono’s sword is…”
She thought for a moment before continuing.
“It is meant to be our enemy and it must stay that way.”
“You’ve been paying attention.”
Futayo’s expression relaxed when she heard Sakai’s comment. She may have felt he had supported her conclusion. The man then placed a hand on his chin.
“I see. It’s true Makiko-kun might be able to teach you, but that would of course mean taking up a lot of her time. And as your schoolteacher, she has to deal with the others as well. And most importantly, she has to act as your ‘enemy’, so if you asked her to start acting as your ‘ally’…”
“If we look at her ‘enemy’ role as a school of martial arts, it would be the same as having her shift to a different school. While it would help me, it would lead to errors by the ‘enemy’ for my classmates,” said Futayo. “Also, I am honestly not sure what it is I want.”
The girl tensed her shoulders and “Musashi” asked a question.
“In other words…you have not decided whether you want to continuing growing as you are or if you want to introduce something new? Over.”
“Judge. Not even I know that, so I was thinking of leaving that up in the air for now.”
I see, thought “Musashi”. If her request is about “type” and not “level”, then I can relax the search criteria.
“Judge. Understood. I will create a list of places that may be able to fulfill that role and send it to you. Please wait until about eight o’clock. Will that be sufficient? Over.”
“Oh, yes… Thank you very much!”
She bowed with enough force to shake her ponytail, so she had apparently wanted this quite badly.
I need to live up to her expectations, decided “Musashi” as she saw Sakai’s shoulders relax.
He turned toward her with the corners of his mouth raised.
“What do you think, ‘Musashi’-san? Should we bring out that old thing? …Are you interested, Da’s Daughter-kun?”
“What is ‘that old thing’?”
“Judge,” said “Musashi” while thinking that there was only one thing here that she knew about and that Futayo would be interested in. “Sakai-sama showed it to me while telling me some old stories before. And I put it away because it is not something to be showing off like that. Over.”
“It is the divine weapon that Sakai-sama used in his student days. If Tonbokiri’s spare seems insufficient, why not take it? Over.”
The sun was slowly beginning to rise.
The height of the sunlight was shifting from early morning to morning as a single shadow flew diagonally down from the sky.
It was Unturning Centipede, the mobile shell of Date Vice Chancellor Date Narumi.
The wings of light on the centipede’s back faded and seemed to vanish into the sunlight.
“Vice President Date Narumi has returned. Guide me in.”
After the conversation that led to, several sign frames appeared along her path down. The guided purification corridor disinfected her and removed any spells that may have been cast on her without her knowledge.
Unturning Centipede slowed as it passed through those torii-style sign frames.
Soon, something came into view up ahead.
“Sendai Castle, this is Unturning Centipede. I am entering Main Runway 2 as guided.”
It was a carved mountain.
A mountain seemed to face the city below her and that mainly stone mountain was split open about a third of the way in from the east side.
Unturning Centipede was heading for a D-shaped cliff seven hundred meters tall. Its surface was tilted slightly as if to form an umbrella and it contained the sunlit national emblem of Sendai Date as well as…
“I have returned.”
Unturning Centipede flew toward the thirty meter wide and fifteen meter tall entrance to a runway.
Unturning Centipede rolled forward in midair to travel feet-first.
In case something went wrong inside, flying in head-first was not the best plan. Unlike an open takeoff and landing zone…
…Sendai Castle is a closed fortress.
She flew inside. The bright sky in her vision grew dark and both the sounds and wind changed. Unturning Centipede’s sight devices began amplifying the light. The management mode of the auditory devices, joints, and artificial muscles shifted from flight mobility mode to ground cruising mode.
The restraints protecting her bodies against the Gs were removed.
Her inner suit loosened a little and she started to feel the warmth and her sweaty skin.
I’m home, she thought, so…
“Prepare for capture.”
A catapult lane curved along the floor toward the runway entrance and Unturning Centipede reached its right arm toward the arresting rope hung high above the lane.
The catapult lane was a floor panel that raced along rails installed in the runway.
When leaving, the object on it would be accelerated from the back of the runway to the exit to launch them out. When returning, its accelerators were switched off as it waited at the entrance of the runway and it would carry whatever the arresting rope captured to the back of the runway.
The panel was thirty meters long and five meters wide, but when flying in using flight mobility mode, one would overshoot it in an instant.
However, Unturning Centipede managed to grab the shimenawa hanging from a metal pole supported on either side.
A divine transmission commented on the fact that it grabbed the first of the several ropes prepared.
“Vice Chancellor, we have a second and third one prepared, so try to use them sometimes.”
“Sorry, Rusu-san, but I quite like going for #1.”
After grabbing the shimenawa hanging from a metal pole, Unturning Centipede pulled the catapult lane forward with its inertia.
Its wings kept it floating, but it had a lot of inertial weight. The wind rumbled as the catapult lane moved along the rails.
As if in response, something moved in the opposite direction on the right.
Beyond the atmosphere buffering spell sign frame, someone was being pulled out by a catapult lane with three other gods of war.
“Oniniwa-san? Are you taking over for me?”
“You just happened to arrive when we were leaving. A girl shouldn’t be getting home in the morning. It’s indecent. Even if it’s your duty, it isn’t setting a good example for the underclassmen.”
“Sorry about that. Then did the mid-level ones come back from below because of me? I need to thank them later.”
“Testament. Also, Kagetsuna seems to want to speak with you. Meet with him if you have a chance.”
By the time she replied with “testament”, Unturning Centipede had slowed and could place its feet on the ground.
It stood on top of the moving catapult lane.
The limbs and torso made of large armor split apart and Narumi stepped out.
Her long hair blew in the wind and Unturning Centipede closed itself inside its dual pitch space behind her.
As soon as her feet touched the catapult lane, Unturning Centipede vanished into a spray of ether light. Then she took another step forward.
“Vice President Date Narumi has returned.”
The catapult lane reached the end and she stepped off the lane and onto the standby zone.
After signing the return confirmation a female student handed her from the left, she looked around and noticed something about the people’s movements, rows of gods of war, and equipment being brought in.
“We’re on alert. …Well done.”
Her smiling comment elicited a cheer from everyone in the large standby zone. She nodded back toward them and turned toward the runway behind her.
She heard a great noise and saw Oniniwa and the others heading out for their patrol.
Finally, the runway’s defensive doors closed. Instead of just one, a total of twelve doors closed with reinforcing spell emblems added in.
“We may have put this together in a hurry, but when fully deployed, it should be able to withstand a dragon line reactor, Aki, or the unknown attack that destroyed Benkei.”
They could fight at any time.
In that way, they were not just on alert and not just doing nothing.
…We’re preparing for war.
Narumi felt satisfaction at that term as she continued walking.
“Where is Katakura?”
“The Vice President is in the main garden.”
“…Is he with Masamune?”
Her shoulders drooped at the students’ answer.
“Honestly, this is so much trouble. Or…”
The heels of her false legs rang out as she muttered to herself.
“Maybe I’m spoiled to have so many things I need to protect.”
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