Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 25

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Chapter 25: One who Steps Back from the Past[edit]

Horizon4A 0571.jpg

Where should I go?

Not as my duty

But as what I’ve set my heart on

Point Allocation (Direction of Progress)


The engine division took up the bottom of the Musashi, below the standard structures holding residential districts and the like.

The large space covered nearly the entire length of each ship, was divided between a port and starboard side, and was divided into sections from front to back to a certain extent.

The giant ether engines (which were divided into blocks), the cooling system, and the control system were all located there. The ether engines were over twenty meters tall and they created Blessings from the ether fuel sent from the Musashi’s fuel tanks. Those Blessings were sent to the divine protection converter in the divine protection engine that managed most of the welfare systems, to the emblems that created the ocean on the ships’ surfaces, and…

“To the gravitational cruising engines lined up underground.”

That voice was drowned out by the sounds of construction.

It belonged to Isa of the Sanada Ten Braves. She currently sat in the gravitational cruising control block located even further port from the port engine division.

She had finished her morning job and was eating the breakfast provided for her. The breakfast was a rice ball with seaweed, a stick of pickled vegetables, and roasted beans. She appreciated the juice box of tea that came with it.

The installation floor was a level lower than the surrounding floor and it was made of a wire mesh. It was three layers thick, but what lay below could still be clearly seen through it.

The gravitational cruising engines. This is my first time seeing these.

Just like shogi pieces, they were lined up in a grid over the several dozen meters of the acceleration block. The lower section containing them was pulled outside during gravitational cruising and each acceleration block would work together to raise their serial output.

It’s pretty amazing.

This sure is nice, she honestly thought since she was the technician even in their ninja village.

But her job was not to create; it was to modify. Sanada Academy did not have the production or maintenance equipment for that, nor did they have the demand. They generally bought or inherited their guns and mobile shells from major corporations or other academies and then Isa would modify them for their own uses.

And in her opinion…

“This sure is nice.”

“What is, Isa-kun?”

“Well,” she replied while barely opening her mouth toward the empty space behind her. “Anayama, you do everything with your own ninja techniques, so you don’t use anything like this.”

“I still need to gather some supplies on site, though. Anyway, have you taken a liking to the Musashi?”

“I was only looking at it from the outside before, but it’s really interesting this time.”

“Can we get down to business now?”

“Testament,” Isa raised her right shoulder to indicate what was wrapped around it. “These are the hemp cables used to transmit ether. It’s fine Far Eastern hemp, so it’s a real luxury…”

She looked down to the coil coated in dark blue plastic.

“I just heard the general plans down below and they’re about to fine-tune the wiring of the gravitational accelerators. I think I’ll hook up the cables I have on hand while I set things up for us.”

“Then take these.”

After Anayama’s voice, something fell between Isa’s legs. They looked like tea juice boxes, but they did not contain tea. Isa picked them up.

“Ten, eleven, twelve. Okay, that’s enough. If I stick them at the base of the gravitational accelerators down below, it should stop Musashino’s rear port accelerators when they try to use them.”

“Testament. So afterwards, we can sell these to other major academies or use them ourselves to promote our own skills?”

“That’s right. …It does bother me a little though. If only I was the kind of person who could feel jealous after seeing all this nice equipment.”

“That isn’t who you are. Besides, if you would destroy something out of jealousy, you wouldn’t modify guns you bought from elsewhere.”

“You’ve been paying attention, Anayama. …Oh, and one other thing.”

Isa held up a hand as if to swipe at the empty air.

“I’ve been trying out some things on my own and I think I can make an autonomous one. The parts are everywhere on the Ariake right now, so I’ve got a real advantage.”

“I think you’re the one having the most fun this time, Isa-kun.”

“It seems to have been a nice change of pace for Nezu too, so hooray for Musashi, I guess. You make sure to help out Yuri, okay?”

She just about laughed, but she held back since no one could see Anayama at the moment. Instead, she took a bite of her rice ball.

I wonder.

They were trying to do something about this giant ship.

Just a few ninja from a powerless academy who were viewed as unneeded were trying to do something about it.

It would be amazing if they pulled it off, but at the same time, how could they call themselves the Ten Braves if they could not do it?

Still, the world is headed to even greater heights.

After all, there was an opponent even this giant ship could not handle.

That’s pretty scary, she thought with a sigh while drinking some tea to join the seaweed aftertaste.

“Hey, what do you think? We’ve done a lot to try to score some points since we ended up at Sanada Academy, but…”

But…

“I have to wonder if we’ve made it to the world stage.”

“We have. We’ve been there the whole time.”

Anayama’s immediate response was hardly unexpected, but she could not help but wonder these things despite being the oldest of them.

“Hey, so if we’re on the world stage…”

I wonder.

“When will we lose the ‘unneeded’ title?”


Isa ignored the silent presence that Anayama created.

“We belong to Sanada, not our previous home. I think we need to have more confidence in that fact.”

“I know that, but…”

Yes, she too knew what came next.

“What work would I accept isn’t ‘unneeded’, right?”

“That’s right. We need a job that will convince us that we are ‘needed’. In a way, that is how we can restore ourselves. So…”

So…

“Everything we’re doing concerning Musashi is meaningful. While Hashiba damaged Musashi, not even they could stop it from cruising.”

“Anayama, you’re surprisingly good at getting me excited about my work.”

“I like theatrics. Once this job is complete, I’d like to stop by a theatre in Mito before heading home to Sanada.”

“I wonder what they’re showing right now. Something mecha would be great.”

“I think the theatrical version of Mobile Checkpoint Kanjin was released. To get through the checkpoint, Benkei begins beating Yoshitsune to hide Yoshitsune’s identity, but in the divine TV version, I think Benkei was the city-size Super Benkei and a punch misfire destroyed the checkpoint. The checkpoint destruction scene was very well done, but I’d like to see something different in the theatrical version.”

“Anayama, your interests are so eclectic I can never get a read on them,” said Isa. “But anyway, Nezu and the others are doing a lot of work too, so how is all that going?”

“What do you mean?”

“Something’s a little off, isn’t it? Like with Yuri.”

Anayama did not answer. He was everyone’s manager, so he probably wanted to avoid commenting on their actions like that.

But this still shows his personal opinion on it.

She thought middle management jobs had to be tough, but in that and everything else, they all trusted each other as they did their jobs. So…

“I guess I’ll just do my job here.”

She gathered her things and stood up while munching on the last of the pickled vegetables.

“Physically stopping the Musashi is my job.”

She then heard a girl’s voice separate from the surrounding construction noises.

“Hey! Can you all help get everything ready so we can head down below?”

It was Hiro. She waved to everyone and pointing down with her gloved hands.

“We’re getting to the last part of the work starting today, so even the newcomers need to work hard.”


“My job, hm?”

A voice spoke in a dimly-lit, spacious, and elevated space.

It was Yoshiyasu’s voice.

She stood in a hangar with a sign labeled Musashino 1st Underground Hangar. A portion of the large equipment such as gods of war and mobile shells were stored here, but it was relatively quiet because most of the gods of war had been moved out.

“Miss Satomi, is this good enough? We did our best to make it cute.”

Engine Division Representative Taizou took a breath in front of Righteousness.

“Matching Mogami’s tastes is no easy task, but I did what I could.”

The blue heavy god of war with dog face armor stood there. Yoshiyasu looked at it and the swords at its waist on either side.

“I know I was asking for a lot, so I’m grateful you did it. I didn’t expect you to have the white for a girl’s armored clothing.”

Unlike Righteousness’s previous combat-focused blue armored clothing, it now had long white equipment such as a skirt.

“Well, we had a spare for the Suzaku that hadn’t been colored yet, so we just shortened that up a bit. You’ve let us take a look at both Righteousness and Yatsufusa, so it’s time we gave you a present as thanks. Look, they coordinated this.”

He pointed to the back where some light gods of war were cutting some armor canvas into a sail to hang from Musashi’s derrick masts. They were over three meters tall and, when they noticed her, they looked up from their giant scissors and marking pin to raise a hand in greeting.

Yoshiyasu bowed back.

“————”

She realized she had grown more humble than when she had been in Satomi.

But that was not a bad thing. She was not supporting, protecting, or guiding them; she was simply receiving their help.

Of course, since she had the full authority of Satomi, Musashi had to treat her carefully.

But I can’t just sit around as a guest.

That was why she wanted to be on the scene as much as possible.

But…

“…”

She looked up to Yatsufusa standing motionless next to Righteousness.

“Director.”

“Judge. What is it? If you don’t like it, we can remake it.”

The light gods of war quickly began shaking their bodies back and forth and moving their hands in a gesture of “Please don’t. Please don’t.”

Sympathetically realizing that the higher ups were strict everywhere, Yoshiyasu asked Taizou a question.

“Do you really not know how Yatsufusa is activated?”

He briefly stopped moving.

“Hmm…”

He scratched his head, but not to say he did not know. It felt more like he was trying to figure out how to explain it. Since Yoshiyasu knew the general answer, she started for him.

“Are the artificial emotions of Yatsufusa’s program rejecting me?”

“That’s the only way I can explain it.” Taizou sighed. “The eight virtues, hm? I’m not the most virtuous person, but I do have to wonder what kind of person has all eight.”

“The last two Chancellors could pilot Yatsufusa.”

“Yes, that’s what makes it so tricky,” he said. “No one’s perfect, so if they could pilot it, the eight virtues it wants must be its own interpretation of them. …Of course, that raises the question of what those eight virtues are.”

“I appreciate that you’re investigating this.”

“I don’t mind.” He waved a hand forward and back. “The Suzaku is a difficult machine, but so is this to be honest.”

“It’s that bad?”

“Judge.” He pointed to different parts of Yatsufusa and smiled for some reason. “Listen. The program that controls it is interlinked with far too many parts of the machine. Basically, it’s difficult to swap out parts. I knew it was going to have some severe balancing issues from the moment it had eight power systems inside, but this thing wasn’t built to swap out the parts for long-term use.”

“Judge. I understand. We were prepared from the moment it was built two Chancellors ago.”

Because…

“Yatsufusa is currently one of the most powerful gods of war in the Far East, but it doesn’t have any divine tech like the Four Sacred Beasts do. And since technology is constantly being improved, a lighter and more powerful god of war will be possible in a decade or two.”

“Whether something like this could be mass-produced is the real question, though. That’s just how much of a threat this thing is.”

Was that supposed to make her feel better? She did feel a little happy, but reality was a different matter.

“The Chancellor before last said it only had to last two years. Yatsufusa only had to remain one of the most powerful in the world for two years. At the time, I wondered why she was being so fainthearted.”

But now she understood.

“When Yatsufusa was completed two years ago in 1646, she had probably predicted that the nations would all begin to take action with the Apocalypse approaching. She probably thought the Warring States period would come to an end and the world would grow more peaceful. So…”

So…

“According to the Testament descriptions, after Matsudaira’s reign begins, the Satomi clan falls during my generation and nearly dies out. She left me this powerful god of war so I would be prepared when that time came.”


Yoshiyasu sighed.

She had not understood any of this.

She had been chasing after her sister and that man for two years…no, even longer. She had chased after them, constantly watched them, and thought she understood them.

But I never realized what it was they were looking to.

They had probably been looking much further into the future than her, so she had been unable to judge what they wanted there. And now something else came to mind.

“Director, I wonder what they wanted from me.”

“There’s no way I could know that, miss. …I’m a mere technician, not a student. It’s true I’ve used quite a bit of machinery and I think Yatsufusa and Righteousness are pretty cute. I…no, we can prepare them and send them out there…but you know what?”

You know what?

“You have to feel your preparations for yourself.”

“…Feel them?”

“Judge,” he said. “Some people can get it from themselves, but if you don’t feel that you’re helping something, it’s all a waste of time. So you don’t receive help. You don’t go out to get it, either. That’s not quite it. …So this is what I think you do.” He smiled bitterly. “What matters is that you prepare it for yourself. You have to prepare it by deciding you want to get some help. You need to be ready to pick it up when it rolls right in front of you.”

He laughed.

“Well, maybe you can’t do that yet.”

He slapped her back. It was a powerful enough blow to knock the breath out of her and the noise and pain reminded her of the past.

She had once had someone who would do that to her.

“Director…why can’t I do it?”

“You don’t have enough experience.”

He bared his teeth in a smile and pointed to the gods of war and adults behind him.

“All of them have had someone leave or say goodbye. They complain about it, they groan in their sleep, and they’ll come to a sudden stop when they remember it. Everyone on Musashi has experienced goodbye. They’re all focused on the past, but none of them are walking toward the past.”

He crossed his arms and the gods of war behind him took the same pose.

“Let me tell you something while I can, miss. Don’t chase after what you’ve lost. If you do, you’ll move toward the past and lose the time you need to build up your present self. If you get stuck in the quagmire of the past, you’ll do nothing but remember the time before the loss and walk further and further toward the past. You’ll only get more and more stuck there.”

So…

“So look to the past and cry. Face the past head-on and turn your back on the present, but make sure you cry and step back. You can keep your back to the present, but make sure to step back toward it. That way, each time you cry, you’re putting more distance between yourself and the past. That will solve most everything.”

“I’m not sure I get what you’re saying.”

Yoshiyasu asked a question.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because machines can’t lie.”

“That’s right.”

The maintenance workers surrounding Righteousness raised their arms in her direction.

“Your god of war has some reinforcements in places. From what we can see, it’s focusing way too much on when you land.”

“But we can tell that wasn’t your doing. There are also reinforcements on the wings and main frame that the pilot wouldn’t even know about.”

“What we’re saying is,” they said, “Satomi’s technicians were making sure you could do things right even if you didn’t ask them to. Machines don’t lie. …We can see the intent that went into them.”

“You heard them.” The engine division director grabbed her shoulder and turned her to the right. “Satomi wasn’t just left in the hands of the students. It was left in our hands too and we’ve been taught how we’re supposed to inherit that. Miss, this place isn’t the same as Satomi, but we can promise you that you’ll be able to move ‘forward’ just as much here as in Satomi. So…make sure you eventually look to us properly.”

He gave her a push on the back, telling her to go. As she wondered where to, she saw someone up ahead.

“Satomi President!”

The vassal was waving from the passageway entrance on the right wall.

“The Chancellor and the others are apparently going shopping at Mito, but how about we get ready to go now? Our rooms on the diplomatic ship are apparently ready and the shops and restaurants inside are running! The Treasurer’s Aide gave us a ridiculous amount of money for our trip! I just about bought a house with it, but I managed to control myself! Let’s go buy a bunch of clothes and snacks!”

Her motivations are pretty simple, thought Yoshiyasu before turning back to the others.

She bowed and then jogged over toward the vassal.


Mitotsudaira hung her blushing head.

She was inside a tailor’s shop in the Mito city on the surface. One made an order in the front room and the clothing was made in the back room. That left a fair amount of time spent waiting around, but there was tea and food prepared to help pass the time.

She was currently waiting for her clothing for the trip to Sviet Rus.

I had to hand over my coat and skirt so they could take the measurements, so the tatami mats are kind of ticklish.

Suzu and Urquiaga of the Date group and Yoshiyasu and Adele of the Mogami group were apparently already preparing to leave inside the diplomatic ships at the land port, but it was taking her group longer because the Chancellor and Horizon had to get ready too.

They needed to hurry, but they wanted to avoid rushing and forgetting something. The diplomatic ship and the transport ships that would accompany it were ready to go, so it was now up to them.

Far Eastern tailor-made clothing was quick and reliable at times like this, and she had something to do while waiting for the clothes to be made.

I-I need to choose a choker design…

The idiot and Horizon peered at her from the side.

She was selecting a choker to replace the one lost in the battle with her mother. As promised, he and Horizon were with her. Kimi and Asama had come too, but…

“Heh heh. Look, Mitotsudaira. Isn’t this design of clothing really cute?”

What is going on here!?