Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 41

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Chapter 41: Oppressor from Above[edit]

Horizon4B 0235.jpg

What ends up like that

Before you know it?

Point Allocation (When You Look Up)


It was a place of shadows.

The entire perimeter was covered in a window, but the glass blocked out the light. A ship’s deck extended far beyond that window and the room itself had decorative columns and walls.

That was the large observation deck on the rear of the Jurakudai, a P.A. Oda diplomatic ship.

The fifty meter diameter space was soaked in darkness, but the center contained a light that cast no shadows.

It was bluish-white ether light.

It remained in the center of the cylindrical space without illuminating its surroundings.

The blue light was contained within and leaking from two beds. Their harp-like forms were decorated with moons and the wind. One was empty, but a ghost girl stood next to the other and inside it…

“Hidetsugu-sama…”

The boy with a single dragon horn lay on the bed with his eyes closed. His feet faded away to show he was a ghost and his illusory body was soaking in the blue ether light leaking from the bottom end of the bed.

That ether light enveloped him and pulsated.

The ghost girl watching him was of course Komahime.

She peered down at him and spoke.

“Do you think I’ve made my mother hate me? She started firing on Date and Sviet Rus as Mogami instead of a subordinate to Hashiba.”

She tilted her head and smiled as she asked the sleeping boy her questions.

“What do you think that final shot meant…?”

However, her question fell apart as she asked it. The ends of her eyebrows drooped weakly.

“I know you’re not going to answer. This was forced from the beginning. You didn’t have many regrets.”

She forced a smile and raised her falling head. Then her hand reached the bed on which Hidetsugu slept.

The light supported her. It passed along the hand on the edge of the bed, circled around her entire body, and…

“Ah.”

Her form wavered. Her ears moved to the side, her fox appearance grew stronger, and two tails pushed out from the butt of the inner suit made of a special material for ghosts. The shape of her hands and the slant of her mouth gently rose.

“————”

She trembled and stepped back from the bed. However, her left hand shook and did not come with her. She quickly swung her shoulder and grabbed her left arm with her right hand to pull the hand away. And finally…

“…I’m back to normal.”

The ears remained, but as far as she could see in the mirror she held, the slant of her mouth and cheeks had vanished. “It would look fine if I had my mother’s face,” she muttered while fixing the butt of her suit.

“Are you okay? There was a zap just now, so you probably shouldn’t touch that too much.”

Someone stepped in from the stairway up to the observation deck.

It was a woman in a simple P.A. Oda uniform with her hair worn up.

“Niwa-sama…”


Komahime noticed a slightly harsh tone to her voice, so she bowed.

“Sorry. You are looking after me, but I can’t seem to manage myself properly.”

“Shaja. It’s fine, it’s fine. No one can manage themselves properly, so don’t worry about it. And even if you could manage yourself, something weird would happen to throw it all out of whack. …More importantly, how about we head down to the bridge for another round of piloting practice to get your mind off all this? The captain praised you, saying another two rounds and you would have the skill needed for a temporary license.”

“Thank you very much. It was only in charge of supplies, but I was given a fleet back in Mogami. …And I’m jealous of how quickly you can change your attitude, Niwa-sama.”

Niwa was acting quite differently from when she had been speaking so harshly toward Musashi and the Oushuu forces. There was a smile on her face and there was real life to it. It was not just for show.

She could readily switch between combat and normal times.

Date’s Katakura also switched back and forth pretty spectacularly…

Komahime had a feeling that one had more to do with being crazy, but if he could do that sort of thing during battle, maybe he was just that sort of person. And there was something severely wrong when demonstratives were the only words one could use to describe him.

But Niwa took a breath and looked to Hidetsugu’s bed and the form sleeping on it.

“I do feel bad about all this. …He still exists as a ghost, but his consciousness isn’t entirely there. For our purposes, he’s become something like a doll.”

“Why don’t you call that convenient?”

Komahime felt she was going too far and being too harsh, but she asked anyway.

“P.A. Oda is a wonderful place,” replied Niwa. “If he was only conscious, I am confident I could get him to side with us. I am #2 of the Five Great Peaks after all.”

“Sorry for being so conceited.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Niwa smiled. “It’s true he’ll do whatever we tell him to, but we can only tell him to walk or to stop. Personally, I’d prefer it if he was conscious. That would make us a lot more convincing. But…”

“But?”

“Being a girl is tough at times like this.”

Niwa crossed her arms and lowered her shoulders while speaking like she could see everything about Komahime.

“Normally, I think a girl on your level would be letting go of everything from the past to prepare yourself for the search for the next person.”

“Oh.” A thought came to Komahime and she realized she was smiling bitterly. “When she thought it was about time for me to leave Mogami, my mother had me choose which of my old possessions I couldn’t take with me. That was really, really hard.”

“She probably wanted you to let go of your regrets and gain a freedom with no bonds tying you to your family. You were going to leave your inherited name eventually and that was one way of doing that. …Mogami’s leader is kind yet cruel.”

Niwa nodded toward Komahime with a smile.

“Foxes care for their families, but the parent and the child eventually part ways. …When the child is making their own family, the aged parent would only be a hindrance after all.”

“If either of us is a hindrance, it’s me…”

After saying that, Komahime realized something, quickly took a step back, and bowed.

“Sorry! I’m on this side now, aren’t I!?”

“We aren’t divided between enemy and ally right now, so it’s fine. Just make sure you stick with us when we are.”

Niwa shrugged, looked over to Hidetsugu’s bed, and sighed

“Hashiba seems to be feeling pretty down about this.”

“Hashiba-sama is?”

“Shaja. ….Hashiba is a very calculating-…no, that’s not quite right. Maybe I should say she’s almost too good at making choices. She actually thought that would minimize the sacrifices. It’s just that there are several different ways of minimizing sacrifices and she has a habit of choosing one of them.”

“You mean…?”

“Shaja.” Niwa faced Komahime again. “Instead of distributing the sacrifice out to as many people as possible, she tries to place it all on a single person who can handle it.”

Niwa lowered her eyebrows a little and brushed up her hair.

“She places that role on herself quite frequently. And given what is to come, the rest of us usually do whatever we can to keep her from simply working behind the scenes. But at times, she decides someone else is the same as her. …No, she decides that other person is different from her, but she assumes they’ll be fine taking on that much.”

“Um,” said Komahime as she took half a step forward. “I am fine.”

She glanced over at Hidetsugu on the bed, but Niwa shook her head.

“You are not fine. After all…”

Niwa looked up and Komahime followed suit. Something was visible behind and over Hidetsugu’s head.

Something like blue ripples was floating there like a mirror and something with no physical form was silently extending from it.

“A mechanical arm…”

It was a god of war arm. The blue draconic arm did not have a physical form as it occasionally appeared from the rippling surface.

As it had no physical form, it looked like a mere trick of the light, but its size and movements did not vanish altogether.

“That thing is trouble.”

Niwa avoided the wavering ether light that slowly formed the god of war arm. She tilted her head away from the rippling line of light.

“Day in and day out, it grows more solid. It’s sucking up more and more of the ether that bed is supposed to be supplying Hidetsugu, so the Jurakudai’s fuel manager is going ballistic.”

“Sorry…”

“Heh heh. Apologizing for her husband’s imperfections is a good habit for a wife.”

“No, um, that’s not what I, um…”

Komahime trailed off when she noticed the amused bend of Niwa’s eyes and the lack of strength in her eyebrows.

“Lady Komahime,” said the woman. “You left some regrets in this world. So did Hidetsugu. That is why you both retained so much of your form as ghosts. But for some reason, your regrets did not fit well together…”

Niwa stopped there, looked to the unmoving dragon horn boy, and simply nodded.

“You are not fine. …And Hashiba agrees with me.”

“Hashiba-sama does?”

“Shaja.” Niwa nodded again. “That is why she hasn’t returned here. She doesn’t know what to say to you. She’s feeling down because she thinks she should have placed more of the burden on herself. Yet if she keeps thinking like that, it’ll interfere with what’s to come.”


Four silhouettes parted ways in the sky.

The main fleets of Hashiba, Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date were returning to their homes or the castles where their main academies were.

Date moved north, Mogami north-northwest, Sviet Rus west, and…

“P.A. Oda is going south to Edo.”

Masazumi looked in all four directions and then into the sky directly overhead.

She saw the rectangular shape of the armored diplomatic ship she needed to return to the Musashi.

“We need to get ourselves ready on the Musashi. This situation is urgent.”

“Heh heh. We’ve already been rushing things plenty. What good will rushing things even further do?”

Unfortunately, Masazumi could not deny they had been rushing things. But Hidetsugu had arrived to monitor things for Hashiba and Mogami had shown a refusal to obey.

“The balance of power Hashiba created across Oushuu, Kantou, and Sviet Rus might just collapse.”

“Hm? What makes you say that, Masazumi?”

“I’ll explain later. If possible, I want to gain a consensus on that and some other things with the diplomats we sent out to the three nations.”

She had a lot to think about. Or rather, the number of things to think about had just grown significantly.

And that included a lot to worry about.

Will Futayo be all right with her injuries?

She had been sent back to the Ariake ahead of the others, but that meant their Vice Chancellor had lost to Hashiba. The people on the Ariake would not have been able to see it, but the people in the village of Mito had seen it.

There was also the false information about Futayo being attacked aboard the Musashi from before. Everyone would still remember that, so this new information would be truly dangerous if it reached their ears.

Masazumi had made sure to instruct Ookubo and the PR Committee to report that there was a problem with the Tonbo Spare, but that she had driven off Hashiba’s Ten Spears with some help from the 5th Special Duty Officer and others. If anyone insisted the Vice Chancellor had lost, they just had to heal Futayo’s wounds and let everyone see the girl unharmed.

And the coming negotiations with the three nations would be a major enough event to erase that smaller incident from people’s minds. So…

“The question is how to handle the negotiations with the three nations.”

“In your opinion, Masazumi, when will that be?”

Masazumi responded to Asama’s question by looking up into the sky where the three fleets of those nations were only tiny dots in different directions.

Even if they returned to their headquarters, they would still need to regroup themselves after the day’s events.

“A lot happened, so I doubt they will finish that today. I have to preface this with ‘most likely’, but I doubt the three nations will want any other nation getting ahead of them. It will almost certainly be tomorrow night.”

“I see. Then should I secure a line to use in case we need to do a real-time broadcast tomorrow night? …Huh?”

Asama looked at the sign frame by her hand and tilted her head.

“I just got a divine mail from my dad. It says ‘spend the night over there’.”

“Heh heh heh. Way to go, Asama dad! Is he handing over his daughter’s hand before she’s even married!? Or is it a test to see if she’ll fit in one of my foolish brother’s concubine slots!? If so, we’ll get the following stat increases: Spiritual+5 Shooting+99 Impurity+66. So we’ll need to shove Suzu in there too to bring down the impurity levels!! Let’s get testing!”

“Stop deciding things for me!”

Asama blushed with her eyebrows raised and pointed toward the Aoi Sister and the Ariake.

“My dad only said to stay there! Besides, a shrine maiden has nothing to do with impurity! …Hm? What is it, Hanami? What’s that new meter?”

Hanami could not look Asama in the eye and closed a few sign frames displaying meters.

When Asama noticed, she eventually tapped Hanami on the back, but the Mouse continued working and did not turn around. There were simply too many of them to close.

“What a hardworking Mouse.”

“I feel like she’s gotten especially hardworking lately…”

Meanwhile, a wind blew in. It was the diplomatic ship arriving. Masazumi breathed a silent sigh of relief that they were finally moving on to the next stage. At the very least, she felt they had what they needed to get things moving. But…

“Hey!”

Someone leaned over the edge of the diplomatic ship. It was Naomasa.

Is she here to greet us? wondered Masazumi, but then Naruze in her summer uniform flew from the deck on her broom. Masazumi tilted her head as the Technohexen circled through the sky on her way down toward them.

“What is it? There’s too many of you and you’re too lightly equipped for bodyguards.”

“We’ve got some trouble. The Committee Leader Alliance has taken action.”

Naruze shrugged as she explained and she held her palms upwards as if it were raining.

“I’d call it a rebellion, but I bet they’re calling it an uprising to bring peace.”


“…What?”

Masazumi and Asama expressed confusion and the Aoi Sister smiled with her eyebrows lowered, so Naruze pointed to the diplomatic ship. Naomasa was leaning over the edge, but someone else was a few meters away from her.

Students with rifles.

“Those are…underclassmen from the Public Morals Committee.”

Asama spoke slowly as if confirming the fact for herself.

That was when Masazumi caught on.

“So the Committee Leader Alliance that works for the Student Council is rising up against the Student Council and the Chancellor’s Officers.”

She knew why. She knew all too well.

Their defeat.

Since the defeat three weeks before, they had been doing their best to not promote war weariness among the people and they had been prioritizing the work on the Musashi’s modifications. In Masazumi’s view, the people had been worried but they were working toward their next move.

However, those who knew more of the true state of affairs were different. Most likely…

Have they decided further war is nothing but a danger!?

Once she understood, Masazumi let all of her emotions leak out.

“This is no time to be doing that!”

“Isn’t it, though? For the underclassmen and committees who haven’t stood on the front lines, that is.” Naruze remained entirely expressionless. “They have control of and agreement from a number of positions on the Ariake and the Musashi. …Since the Musashi is trying to leave port, they want to suggest to the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers that there might be a different possible future for us.”

Namely…

“For the Far East, does the Musashi really need to fight any longer? They want to ask if we could instead end the fighting and peacefully find a solution to the Apocalypse. And to do that…”

“A special student general assembly?”

“Judge. I guess when you’ve got experience with those, you catch on quickly.”

Naruze’s expression finally changed as a smile appeared on the corners of her mouth.

“They’re asking if there is ‘a different future’ available to us. In other words, to end our clash with Hashiba, give up on escaping our provisional rule, and to instead seal the Musashi here in Mito to live peacefully. They’re saying they need to ask us that in a special student general assembly. And they are saying the conclusion reached after discussing that possibility is the course Musashi should take.”


So that’s it, muttered Masazumi in her heart.

“What about the engine division and the other residents?”

“Most of them are siding with us, but they say they’ll support the conclusion reached in the special student general assembly.”

“That’s being awfully calm. I just hope it’s because they trust us.”

Just as Masazumi brushed up her hair, the Aoi Sister leaned against the terrace railing, looked up into the sky, and laughed.

“Heh heh. This is interesting. Instead of a coup d’etat for a human resources update, it’s a revolution for an update to Musashi’s policy. Most likely, they don’t want to be king, but they do want to change the state of the nation. Their primary policy is pacifism. By advocating not fighting, they can make you out to be the faction proposing war and themselves to be the faction proposing peace. Thus anyone who opposes them will be treated as an opponent of peace and therefore deterred. It’s a clever method. Cheap, but still clever. …But Naruze, who was it that made this gutsy decision?”

Masazumi did not need Naruze to answer. She already knew.

“It was Representative Committee Head Ookubo and Public Morals Committee Head Kanou, wasn’t it?”

“How’d you know?”

“Because it’s in the Testament descriptions. If we think of this as part of the history recreation, it makes perfect sense.”

Masazumi sighed and opened a sign frame.

It displayed the previous year’s Student Council election. That was less than a year after she had arrived at this school. She had been elected as Vice President during that election, but…

“Look at the other candidate for Vice President.”

She showed the others the name of the initial candidate.

“Ookubo Tadachika. …She dropped out partway through and shifted her focus to becoming head of the Representative Committee. With two inherited names and the name recognition from that election, people were saying she would be a good candidate for the next Vice President. But…”

What was this?

“According to the Testament descriptions, Honda Masazumi had repeated political conflicts with the Ookubos and eventually drove back the Ookubo faction, but he eventually fell victim to a plot by Kanou Gozen who was connected to the Ookubo faction. From there, Honda Masazumi never returned to the political world.”

Everyone gasped, but the Aoi Sister laughed quietly.

“But you haven’t inherited your name.”

“I never thought that would actually be a consolation.”

She could only smile bitterly at that. But it did tell her something about Ookubo.

She is serious about this in her own way.

According to the Testament descriptions, the political conflict between Honda and Ookubo resulted in Ookubo’s fall. She had two inherited names and was said to be the best candidate for the next Vice President, so what would happen to her if she was outdone by someone with no inherited name?

She would lose everything she had built up.

That meant this was not a mere whim or a game.

“So we need to assume Ookubo is presenting us with the possibility she sees for Musashi and the Far East.”

“By the way,” said Naomasa.

She leaned over the edge of the deck and gave a cautious glance back toward the Public Morals Committee members watching over them from a distance.

Smoking Girl: “Neshinbara was attacked last night and there was the thing with Futayo. …Do you think that was this Ookubo’s group?”

I wonder about that, thought Masazumi.

She felt like this uprising and those attacks did not fit together. After all…

Doing that would reduce the legitimacy of their uprising.

But someone else spoke up before she could: Asama.

Asama: “I’m not so sure. It’s true something seemed a little off about Ookubo-san last night, but I feel like something doesn’t fit quite right when I think about her being behind the attack. …Of course, I might just be imagining things.”

“I see.” Naomasa nodded. “You know a lot about words, Asama-chi, so I’ll put that thought off for now. Still, it’s best to be on your guard.”

“Judge.” Naruze nodded too. “The fact remains that we were attacked and being on our guard is the Chancellor’s Officers’ job. The rest of you take things easy. You have us with you.”

But…

“What are you going to do, Masazumi? If her dropping out from the Student Council election is interpreted as an early recreation of her fall from the political world, the only one making a serious fall will be you. It’s not long until summer and now we’ve got all this trouble to deal with. And when we don’t have even an hour to spare…”

Naruze spat out a “keh” and Masazumi could only find her incredible.

However, someone took sudden action: the Aoi Sister. She swept back her hair and spoke.

“Well, sending out the nicest diplomatic ship was the best decision for them. Are they ‘protecting’ us as VIPs?”

If so…

“We really are going to have to have a sleepover tonight. …We have the meeting with the three nations tomorrow night, but before that, we have a meeting with the adorable children on the Ariake who are trying to usurp your authority and turn you into figureheads.”

“Most likely,” sighed Masazumi. What were the students supposed to do if they could not control the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers? “A special student general assembly. This will be our second one in just the first term. This academy has issues.”


“This is a notification from ‘Ariake’. The Musashi is shifting from departing standby mode to maintenance standby mode. Once the transition has been made, please return to your work posts. Also…” The announcement continued after a pause. “In preparation for Ariadust Academy’s special student general assembly, the various committees are working to temporarily remove the authority of the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers. All effort will be made to cause no trouble for the workers, normal citizens, and normal students, but please await the special student general assembly while looking out for each other. Over.”

“Ariake” calmly spoke in the sign frames that filled the Ariake with afternoon light.

When she heard those words, Isa was eating a late lunch from a bridge giving her a view of the engine division.

A special student general assembly, huh?

She had infiltrated the Ariake as a normal citizen, so she would only be a spectator of that event. If anything, she felt like she could pull off more of her ninja work while that was going on.

“I guess it could work.”

The topic of the special student general assembly would be announced later, but it seemed the committees wanted to criticize the members of the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers. Rather than replacing the leaders of Musashi, they wanted a general assembly to determine Musashi’s overall policy.

Although if they do change the policy, the Student Council will just be a figurehead.

This was led by someone with the inherited name of Ookubo. She had made a greeting on the ship-wide divine radio earlier.

Isa thought she had done a good job because after the initial greeting…

“As a separate issue at the special student general assembly, I intend to have the frustrations and problems of the normal citizens and students addressed. If you take those frustrations and problems to the members of the Representative and PR Committees, we will discuss their validity and work toward resolving them.”

In other words, they were willing to hear the complaints of the normal citizens and students. Most likely…

That must include the people temporarily living down below at the land ports in Mito territory.

By listening to those complaints toward Musashi’s current state, Ookubo’s faction could bring those people to their side.

And since the source of those complaints would be “the enemy”, the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers’ position would weaken.

It was a lot like the diversions that a ninja would use in enemy territory.

A portion of that information strategy was already beginning. Even in the engine division, a member of the PR Committee wearing a bunny outfit had arrived in front of the torii-style bulletin board device. Everyone lined up and the guy in the front acted as their representative by voicing their first complaint.

“Why didn’t the PR Committee send a young girl here? Why did you send us some guy from the Mongolian Religious Talisman Kombat Club aka MoRTal Kombat? Are you mocking us with that bunny outfit? Is this some kind of challenge?”

“I didn’t want to dress like this either! But the Committee Head is a glasses girl!”

“Tch. Then it can’t be helped… But you’d better lend me your collection sometime. You’ve got one, don’t you?”

When the boy responded in the affirmative, the line of engine division workers began listing off their daily concerns.

“Crossdressing is fine, but it’s a problem when he strips and I kind of like it.”

“I liked the Vice President better in pants, so could she maybe wear those again?”

“I don’t care if the Secretary makes sudden heroic poses while he grabs a porn doujinshi in the bookstore, but can he stop smiling at us and saying, ‘This one hasn’t hit it big yet, so it’s still rare! Oh, you too!? You must have the same Sinister Sight of Superb Selection!’ That’s gotta be against the rules!!”

This place likes to keep things interesting, thought Isa as she continued eating her lunch.

Based on the weight, she guessed the bamboo leaf wrapping she held contained rice balls like that morning.

Oh, these ones are cooked!

There were three. One had nothing inside, one had kinpira inside, and one had roasted chicken inside. There was also some sweet root and stem vegetables cooked simply with some salt.

Unlike that morning, she had been working, so she had been given a main dish with stronger flavoring and vegetables that were more flavorful and tougher.

That’s just what I needed.

The provided tea was a warm barley tea that did not forcibly erase the flavor of the food.

She was just about moved to tears.

The bamboo leaf wrapping said it was from Rarely Metabolizable of the Restaurants Guild, so she decided to check it out later. While she had work to do on the Musashi, she had not been restricted from living her life at the same time. She wanted to enjoy this like a trip when she could.

After all, it was possible she could be leaving very soon. So…

“Anayama.”

“Hm? What is it? Oh, I’m in the middle of some work, but I can skip out on that for a bit.”

No, you can’t, thought Isa as she spoke with a ninja technique.

“I think I might be kind of on the side of Musashi’s Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council.”


It took a few seconds for Anayama to respond, but his voice clearly reached her.

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Testament,” replied Isa while chewing on the vegetables and feeling the flavor leak into her mouth. “I…”

She gulped.

“I’ve been looking around since last night and I’ve seen the engine division today. To be blunt, the Musashi is a great place for people who love machines as much as I do.”

Oh, the chicken’s really good, she thought.

“I know everyone at our academy’s doing their best so I can’t compare our facilities and equipment to the ones here…but the stuff here really is nice.”

So…

“I want to destroy it if I can.”

“That’s a feeling I’m not sure I understand.”

“C’mon, it’s simple. It’s not mine, it’s really well-made, and it’s our enemy’s, right? So I can destroy it, destroying it would be a good thing, and I want to destroy it. So shouldn’t I destroy it? It seems like a waste, but if it’s going to be destroyed one way or another…”

She nodded.

“I want to be the one to do it if I can. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“Is this…love?”

“Yeah, it’s that mistaken idea that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance and if you miss it ‘I may never love again’. In a manga, that’s the type of guy that ends up having his heart shaken by a girl innocently approaching about five pages later. And it’s the type of guy that ends up liking rejections in stories once they grow up. That was popular in the temple burning stories for a bit, wasn’t it? There was that immediate punchline with ‘Clear my mind and even this fire will feel- arrrrrgh!’ But the endorphins in his brain allowed him to endure the heat and he ended up achieving enlightenment as the temple burned down around him while he twitched on his back with a blank-eyed smile and double Buddhist hand gestures.”

“I’m sorry, Isa-kun, but have you been reading a lot lately? Is this Miyoshi-san’s influence?”

“Well, there was a whole bunch of stuff piled up last night. It was labelled ‘for trade’, so I can see why the other nations think Musashi has poor public morals or is full of child pornography. You can get hooked on this stuff.”

Isa then changed the subject.

“Anyway, I just rigged another three of the gravitational accelerators. …If the Musashi enters gravitational cruising, the rear port side will go boom. But…”

“But?”

“If this rebellion or whatever it is works, we won’t get to see that.”

I don’t want that, she thought.

“Anayama, I want to see the Musashi go boom.”

“And that’s why you’re siding with their Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers?”

“Testament. If Musashi gets all passive, I’ll never get to see it go boom. And if it goes boom, it’ll increase the selling power of our name. Isn’t that right?”

“Hmm… That might be true in general, but my intelligence gathering ability might be more popular among experts and thus with the kind of people who would actually hire us.”

“I see… Well, if you say so, then it must be true…”

Isa looked down to the lower level and saw Mishina Hiro there. She pulled a morning rice ball from her lab coat’s pocket and took a bite.

“Hey, a lot’s happening, but let’s go fix the problems we found during that mode shift! If you’re free and have worked down below, come with me!”

They all nodded and replied with “judge”, but a few of them pointed at the bunny suit boy holding the opinion box.

“We’ll be down after we finish making our complaints about the Chancellor!”

Isa laughed bitterly.

“Ah ha ha. That Chancellor sure is popular. Anayama, you might just fail.”

“That Chancellor is in Sviet Rus right now.”

“Is that so?”

Isa stood up, folded up the bamboo leaf wrapping, put it in her pocket, and started toward the stairs down.

That was when a large sign frame appeared near the engine division’s ceiling.

It was specialized for video and it showed a room with neatly arranged tatami mats but little furnishings.

Two people faced each other diagonally while sitting on cushions.

“That’s that Ookubo person and the automaton named Kanou.”

As everyone looked up at the screen, the automaton turned to face them.

The yellow ink-style lettering at the bottom said, “An Emergency Audience from the Student Council Room: Musashi’s Current Possibilities”.

“Good day, everyone. I am Kanou and I will be in charge of today’s broadcast of Armor Piercing Room, the talk show that breaks into one’s true thoughts.”

She gestured to Ookubo opposite her.

“I would like to hear what Ookubo-sama has to say about her plans, objective, and topic for the special student general assembly she has called for, as well as what effect it will have on everyone’s busy lives. Now…”

With that, Ookubo turned around.

She bowed and then looked to the viewers. Isa looked to the black eyes behind the glasses.

Wow.

There was strength in those eyes. She was not just looking toward the viewer. She knew what it meant to look “at” someone.

Isa’s ninja intuition told her this was probably a troublesome person and the girl’s voice descended from the sign frame.

“Judge. Everyone, I am Ookubo Tadachika, second year of Musashi Ariadust Academy and the head of the Representative Committee. I am here in order to ask you all something today. First, I would like to address the special student general assembly that will be held tomorrow afternoon at one.”

Isa listened to Ookubo’s voice while viewing her focused eyes.

“The current Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers wish to stop the Apocalypse by opposing the great powers of Hashiba, P.A. Oda, and the Testament Union. We would like to propose a different method. One that avoids conflict to peacefully stop the Apocalypse.”

In other words…

“I would like to propose to all of you the possibility that Musashi can both avoid battle and have world peace.”