Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 61
Chapter 61: Comparer on the Scales
If we are to advance together
We must know what it means
To be together
Point Allocation (Acceptance)
Masazumi slowly exhaled.
She relaxed her body and opened her mouth.
She was grateful that Ookubo had gathered the people’s attention and silenced them with her eloquence.
Like this, a short and relaxed statement would reach them.
…This should reach everyone.
With that in mind, she spoke.
“Allow me to reiterate something.”
“The current Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers swear that we will not reject the Representative Committee Head’s suggestion.”
“Heh. A standard principle. I see no reason to be surprised.”
In the hilltop tent, a gentle breeze washed over the sun nudist as he held a glass in one hand.
“A politician must listen to everyone’s opinion. That is true even in an absolute monarchy. …After all, the king holds the right to determine whether the people live or die. He must listen to the people, both to search out useful opinions and to make use of that right.”
Next to him, Terumoto laughed quietly as she viewed the signe cadre. Her eyebrows were raised in a thin smile.
“Musashi’s Vice President just made something very clear. She said…”
“She’s the one in charge of Musashi’s politics. And they had better remember it.”
Terumoto looked to the Reine des Garous who sat across from her.
“Hey, you haven’t met that Vice President, have you? …This isn’t your area of expertise, but what do you think?”
“There is only one thing I could think. This is the Prime Minister of my daughter’s king. …Of course she will be just as, if not more, troublesome than my daughter. After all, she holds a higher position than my daughter.”
The Reine des Garous added a “but” with a smile.
She grabbed her cup and used her lips to pull in and peck at the film of milk fat that had formed on top of her café au lait. Then she licked off what had stuck to her lips.
“That Representative Committee Head has been on the Musashi along with those children. She will have seen the Student Council election, the previous special student general assembly, and the records of the past meetings. The most troublesome people are always the ones on your own side.”
She then viewed the signe cadre while resting her breasts on the table.
“Now… This is about to get brutal.”
Heat and a tremor had entered her body for just a second, so she sucked in some chilly air for an adjustment.
She was inside the Ariake. When they had first arrived here, she had disliked the smell of oil, steel, and scorched metal when she woke up in the morning, but she barely noticed it anymore.
She often visited the work sites to check on the construction progress and the status of urban functions such as welfare and the distribution of goods.
She now understood that the city’s smells changed depending on the time of day.
She had learned all about the Musashi as a part of the Ariake. So…
The Vice President had just said she would not reject her suggestions.
That was not submitting or surrendering to Ookubo. As a Musashi politician, she would accept what she needed to accept and then use whatever aspects of it she could.
But, thought Ookubo.
…I won’t let this end so easily.
Ookubo pushed up her glasses and viewed the Vice President through the lenses.
“Do you understand that I’m not just presenting you with a summary of the people’s opinions?”
“Judge. Of course. And I’m saying I accept that you’re here.” The Vice President spoke calmly. “As the Representative Committee Head, you have the right and duty to take an active role in politics. And as a fellow politician, I will take what you say under consideration if you tell me I’m wrong. After all, you have the necessary knowledge of politics and your position prevents you from saying anything carelessly. Otherwise, no matter how eloquent and forceful you were, you would only be giving me the desires of a single citizen who hasn’t seen the reality of the situation and all the factors involved. …Or is that all you came here to do?”
“No, I came here for a debate between politicians.”
She corrected her wording. Calmly and in a different tone than normal, she spoke the words needed for an official confrontation.
“I wish for a confrontation.”
“Are you prepared for that?”
She knew what the Vice President meant by that.
From here on, they would be betting their status as politicians on this.
I see, she thought as she saw the Vice President smile a little.
“Besides, do you know what we will be discussing from here on?”
“If we are thinking the same thing, it goes without saying.”
Despite saying that, Ookubo swung her arm outward.
She indicated the people down below.
“Do you know what it means to win?”
“I do,” said the Vice President. “If I defeat you but no one is willing to follow me, then I have lost. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
…Yes, this is it.
Yoshiyasu thought that as she leaned on the railing and looked between Mogami’s multilayer city and the sign frame.
“So it’s about public opinion.”
“Not just that,” said Yoshiaki.
She knew that. Or perhaps she should say she had known that.
Since Yoshiaki stood next to her, the people down below would bow and greet them as they passed by. But…
“I’m not the one those people are greeting.”
“That is a twisted way of looking at this, but perhaps you need to start with that kind of assumption. …Yes, it is true those people are greeting me through you rather than actually greeting you. They do not really know who you are, but because I brought you here, they can increase my reputation by greeting you.”
The vassal next to Yoshiyasu tilted her head and looked between Yoshiyasu and Yoshiaki.
“Can I ask what you mean by public opinion?”
“Of course,” replied Yoshiaki while handing the vassal and Yoshiyasu individually wrapped sweets.
They were Surprise Manju Chocolates, which were sold in Satomi as well. Warring States commanders had been manju-ized (as opposed to anthropomorphized) and the manju acted as a talisman with an illegible description of the commander written in Far Eastern.
“Ah!” said the vassal. “I got the super rare Nagano Narimasa! When I get back, I can show it off to Persona-kun and the Chancellor!”
“Heh heh. It’s all about knowing where in the carton the box was and where in the box the package was.”
I got Tsuchiya Masatsune, but it looks like it’s normal rarity. How do they decide what is and isn’t rare?
But, said Yoshiyasu in her heart. When she bit into it, the savory aroma seemed to break apart in her mouth and press the salty sweetness into her cheeks.
“So basically, I need to believe that I am me, right?”
“Exactly.” Yoshiaki looked across the multilayered city. “This city always had a unique regional structure, but building it up to this scale, building in entire farm blocks, and reusing the fallen snow were all additions from my generation.”
“There must have been a lot of opposition in the public opinion.”
“Of course.” Yoshiaki hid her smile behind her fan. “After all, I did that at the same time as I crushed the opposing forces within Mogami territory. If I had not made the belowground paddies first, I would likely have been destroyed.”
“Due to lack of food?”
“No. …We can sell rice. With the belowground paddies, we could grow rice for a longer period without relying solely on the summer season. Mogami has excellent water and we can make wonderfully pure rice with it, so we sold it to the other nations for use as presents or in processed goods. By selling it to Sviet Rus, Date, or using the sea route along the coast of the Baltic Sea, we can gather foreign currency. And by selling it to the people in the resistant forces of our own nation, we can pull them toward us. It also prompted population growth, so we reached this point in about twenty years.”
“Heh heh,” laughed Yoshiaki. “Yes, twenty years. It sounds fast and yet it also sounds slow. …In the twenty years it took to give Mogami its current form, there were those who protested my actions and those who supported me. And now Mogami has nearly reached the form I wanted and the form those who followed me wanted.”
“I can almost hear the triple complaint of ‘Just make a normal city, let’s cooperate with the others in our territory, and don’t become a selfish ruler’.”
“But it was not the complainers who shaped reality. It was me.” Yoshiaki turned toward Yoshiyasu. “Listen. If a nation is not changing, it will be destroyed. After all, other nations exist. …So if you listen to the people telling you to stop, you will have peace within your nation, but you will be destroyed as the other nations prosper. Besides, a nation that does everything the standard way is no different from a corrupt nation that effectively lets the bureaucrats rule. The only difference is that one of them is aware of the corruption. And who is it that knows the most about their own and other nations?”
“The ruler,” said the vassal. “Which would be the Chancellor and Student Council President…normally, anyways.”
Adding that last comment was proof she was from Musashi, but she had likely understood what this meant. Yoshiaki nodded toward the vassal.
“If you understand everything inside and outside your nation, you just have to do what it takes to win. And do it in a constantly changing world. The complainers, unfortunately, hope for something other than what will let you win. And most of the complaints I heard were not actually the same as that triple complaint you mentioned, Yoshiyasu.” Yoshiaki covered her mouth with her fan. “They were telling me to stop playing dirty. Heh heh. But launching surprise attacks on the resistant forces and prompting them to betray each other was just so much fun. How could I have stopped? There are some things a fox simply cannot do.”
“I bet you made a lot of enemies.”
“More of them decided to join me. That’s why Mogami exists as it does now. …It’s true there were some who, right up to the moment of death, refused to believe that someone who doesn’t play fair could win. They must have found it incomprehensible that their ideals had no bearing on reality.”
Do you understand?
“Reality is not an ideal. That is why it is reality. And whatever form reality takes, it is those who survive who hold it in their hands. Call it unfair, incomprehensible, or dirty if you like, but those who work toward survival are the ones blessed by reality. That is why a king must continually work toward winning. If any complaints or suggestions will help them win, they must accept them and strengthen themselves with them, but if they will lead to stagnation and defeat, they are a faulty argument, no matter how convincing the argument seems. And the opposite is also true. After all…”
Yoshiaki leaned over the railing and looked to the multilayered city.
“You could make a convincing argument why this city is impossible.”
“It is an abnormal city that can only exist in this frozen land.”
“Yes.” Yoshiaki narrowed her eyes. “Be abnormal, Satomi. …Oh, but that does not mean it is okay to have such a flat chest.”
“Th-that is not abnormal! It’s just simpler! Right, Yoshiyasu-san!?”
Don’t ask me to agree with you… thought Yoshiyasu as she looked away, but she thought she understood what Yoshiaki was getting at.
“So if you show off a clear form of victory, people will follow you?”
“Everyone wants to win, you know? …All that remains is how well that form of victory suits you. To put it another way, there are as many forms of victory as there are people suited to be king. But you are stuck at the level of suggestions and complaints. I imagine the people above you were very skilled and they had their suggestions and complaints for you. But Satomi, you are now in a position where there should be no one above you. In this world, you must not so readily accept biased suggestions or stagnant complaints. Instead, you must create your own form of abnormal that keeps you on the move and changing. Also…”
Yoshiaki opened another sign frame and enlarged it. It displayed Musashi’s Vice President and Representative Committee Head.
“I wonder if this Representative Committee Head is the same as you. And we have yet to see whether this Vice President can use the complaints and suggestions presented to her in order to create her own version of the abnormal.”
Yoshiaki flicked the sign frame to split it.
She turned her back on Yoshiyasu and started to walk away.
“Come. There is something I would like to show you. I am sure we will have the answer to this debate by the time we arrive. That is…will Musashi become abnormal or will it sink into stagnation?”
She relaxed her shoulders from within and thought to herself.
…I’ve still got a long way to go.
Ookubo still hasn’t gotten serious, she told herself.
This underclassman had an inherited name. In fact, she had two. Before the Battle of Mikawa, the Testament Union had authorized her inheritance of the names Ookubo Tadachika and Nagayasu. Her father had also had an inherited name and her family had been appointed as the Ookubo family, but when moving from Mikawa to Musashi, her father had chosen not to take a position on the Provisional Council and had taken a different job.
On the other hand, neither Masazumi nor her father had an inherited name. They had failed to acquire one. So in this debate…
…I’m the one that’s “borrowing her chest”.
Ookubo has a fair bit there. A fair bit of what where? But I did hear that Mitotsudaira “lent her chest” and failed, so doing so with an inherited name must be dangerous if you’re not careful. Since Ookubo has two inherited names, she must have put together a countermeasure for me “borrowing her chest”. What am I even talking about anymore?
“Vice President, is there something on my chest…?”
“Don’t worry about it. There was just something I should have already considered, since it has precedent.”
Yes, yes. I doubt you know what I meant, so it’s wonderful that you agreed with me. But…
…I need to smash the wall of stagnation.
She had to find a way of replacing stagnation with action.
She also wanted to learn what Ookubo truly thought.
Ookubo had inherited two names as a politician, so there was no way she was supporting stagnant politics. She would have predicted Masazumi’s counterattack and she would know how quickly it would take people to comprehend the debate topic, so there had to be a true motive hidden behind all that.
The girl was still hiding a future of action that her stagnant complaints would lead to. So…
Now, then, thought Masazumi.
How much of myself have I retrieved since Mikawa?
This would be testing that. Both inside and outside herself, how much had she been remodeled along with the Musashi? What had she thought and considered to that end. That was what she would be asked.
So she said one thing first.
“Are you listening?”
She said it to no one in particular. And…
“The Representative Committee Head has listed out her complaints regarding our policy. I will now explain why our policies are what they are and then I will remove all of those complaints.”
In a few places atop a white surface below the sky, footage from within the Ariake was displayed on sign frames.
One such place was the top of the white cliff-like wall on the rear starboard side of the Ariake. A twenty meter torii-style sign frame displayed Musashi Vice President Honda Masazumi and Representative Committee Head Ookubo.
One of the people watching them there spoke.
“That flat politician still isn’t smiling. Will she be okay?”
It was Kimi. She wore a summer uniform and stood in the sky beyond the starboard hull.
She stood on some scaffolding. And rather than a board laid out for a foothold, she stood atop one of the supporting rods.
When the three nations had fired on the rear starboard side the day before, there had been no direct hits, but the explosive blasts, shockwaves, and wind had still battered the outer hull. Some of the armor had bent or shifted.
Scaffolding of hardened bamboo had been set up for an inspection and repairs and the tube-like ends stuck out into the sky.
However, the walking surface had yet to be added to the scaffolding. Only a course grid of bamboo had been built up vertically over a wide area of air.
“All of the bamboo is about thirty centimeters thick. They make for midair footholds over an area of about a hundred meters. They plan to add on an actual floor and make sure transport ships can fly up alongside it to carry in the armor panels, but they haven’t had time with all the effort going into the residential districts.”
Kimi spun around on a piece of bamboo about a dozen meters away from the outer hull.
Below her, thin clouds flowed by and the somewhat blue-tinted ground was visible.
“We’re over three kilometers up. …What stage could be grander?”
Kimi stepped lightly through the sky. She moved only her ankles to leap to another bamboo about three meters away. She did not quite make it far enough, but she placed the tip of her toes on the end of the bamboo scaffolding and pulled herself in.
When she turned back, she saw the Ariake’s outer hull.
She saw three people there. Asama glared at her, her mother showed off her teeth with her hands on her hips, and…
“Samurai Girl, do you have your feelings in order yet?”
She called out to Honda Futayo.
…Honestly, I was wondering what she wanted us to do.
According to her mother, she was to help with Futayo’s training.
As far as Kimi could see, Futayo had had a lot on her mind. She had fallen from the wall during training and failed when she should have achieved victory in battle.
But according to Kimi’s mother, this was not just a slump.
“Mom… I just have to deal with this myself, right? Heh heh. Everyone wants a piece of me. Have I turned into my foolish brother?”
“Kimi, this isn’t a game.”
“I know that.”
Kimi could tell her eyebrows had risen in a smile. She gently grabbed her right side skirt and stepped back along the scaffolding with her right toe tip.
Then she stood on the edge of the bamboo with just her right toe tip. This meant only about two centimeters of her foot was touching the bamboo, but she looked to Futayo all the same.
“I will give you the scaffolding I just left. You should thank me.”
“Judge,” replied the girl. “Manager-dono, how can I complete this training?”
“If you…oh, right. Kimi! How much can she stab you!?”
“Heh heh. Mom, that’s simple. It’s ‘easy mode’. Write that with kanji and it means ‘stubborn hairiness’…wait, what is this!? It was supposed to be simple, but now it’s looking surprisingly hairy! Hey, Asama, what am I supposed to do now!?”
“Um, Toori-kun and Kimi’s mother? Kimi is always like this at school too, but is there anything you can do about it?”
“Hmm. I always leave her and Toori with you, Tomo-chan, so you and your friends can do what you want with them.”
Kimi smiled bitterly as Asama’s shoulders drooped to say that was hopeless.
That’s fine, thought Kimi. If you have any complaints, just come out and tell me. It’s up to me whether I listen to them, though.
…You won’t be able to make those complaints at school much longer.
They would graduate and there was the Apocalypse. She did not know what was going to happen, but that was why…
“It’s best to do everything you can to enjoy yourself as you are.”
Kimi placed her right hand on her summer uniform’s chest.
“Samurai Girl, stab me here even deeper than before.”
Futayo would know what she meant by “before”: when they had fought at Mikawa. Futayo’s blade had been unable to fully reach Kimi then.
“Try to do it properly this time.”
“Judge. I am grateful.”
Futayo bowed and made a light jump.
She was coming.
She immediately covered more than a dozen meters and landed on the scaffolding in front of Kimi.
As soon as Futayo jumped, she noticed movement on the sign frame on top of the Ariake.
Masazumi and Ookubo were facing each other.
She was fighting. As the Vice President who carried Musashi on her shoulders and as the representative of Musashi’s intelligence, she was protecting what they had to do.
Both Futayo and Masazumi were from Mikawa. Futayo’s father had had an inherited name, but neither of the girls did at the moment. But…
Futayo wondered if a gap had opened between herself and Masazumi. There was a clear difference between the girl who was trying to protect Musashi and Futayo who was trying to recover herself. But…
“Now, then,” said Masazumi. “Let us begin our confrontation anew.”
Yes, thought Futayo as she landed on the scaffolding and faced forward.
Kimi was there. And she heard Masazumi speak.
“Are you ready?”
Yes, repeated Futayo in her heart as she leaned forward. She was preparing to give herself initial speed.
Then she spoke while imagining the speed inside her.
“We are ready.”
Masazumi was, the others were, and Futayo was.
“We have never been more ready.”
With her back to Masazumi’s words, Futayo accelerated her body.
She moved forward.
|Back to Chapter 60||Return to Main Page||Forward to Afterword|