Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 63

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Chapter 63: Right and Wrong Ones on the Scoreboard[edit]

Horizon4C 0057.jpg

It isn’t O or X

The Os can become Xs

And the Xs can be turned into Os

Point Allocation (Coexistence)


Masazumi felt the reverberation of a metallic sound as she and Tsukinowa viewed Ookubo’s complaints.

●Vice President: Resistance Side

Objective: Take back the Far East’s status and achieve peace by retrieving the Logismoi Oplo and stopping the Apocalypse.

X: Wasn’t our justification the retrieval of Vicereine Horizon?
X: This is too much for Musashi to accomplish.

1: Stop Hashiba.

X: We already lost to Hashiba.
X: Not allowing Hashiba’s rule means opposing the Testament.

2: Give the Musashi the ability to fight and use that power to cooperate with the other nations.

X: War with the many powerful nations under Hashiba’s control would be unavoidable.
X: Musashi is on its last chance, so how can we take such a large gamble?

3: End the provisional rule and request the expansion of the world at the Peace of Westphalia.

X: Just as with 2, there is no guarantee the other nations will cooperate.
X: There is no sign of the rule ending, so can we really do that?

She’s taken this pretty far, thought Masazumi. When she saw it all together, she knew what she had to say.

“There is something I must say as a representative of the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers.”

That was…

“Currently, we are on the way to successfully reaching our objective.”

“Judge.” Without nodding, Ookubo spoke the word of judgment to ask for clarification. “Then please prove it.”

“Judge.” With a nod, Masazumi spoke the word of judgement to express her comprehension. “Then let’s start with ‘1: Stop Hashiba’. …You said ‘X: We already lost to Hashiba’, but…”

Masazumi looked across the people gathered below the stairs.

“Musashi has not lost to Hashiba. We fought the Battle of Mikatagahara about three weeks ago. That was a history recreation, so our loss was a foregone conclusion. And our opponent there…was Qing-Takeda.”

“You are ignoring reality!!”

Ookubo suddenly spoke much more powerfully.

That was to be expected. Masazumi had gone first and foremost for that lost battle which was Ookubo’s greatest means of attack. Ookubo had likely predicted this, so of course she would work quickly to stop it.

Masazumi had no intention of looking back toward Ookubo. Ookubo’s shout was meant to gather the people’s attention on her rather than Masazumi. If Masazumi looked back too, the people who were unsure who to look at would follow suit and turn to Ookubo. Instead, Masazumi spread her arms toward the people.

“Of course, after passing through Mikawa and reaching the Edo region, we were attacked by Maeda Toshiie who was acting as a Qing-Takeda mercenary and by Hashiba who was working with him.”

She chose to continue speaking and to ignore Ookubo.

She could see out of the corner of her eye that Ookubo was not looking her way.

Ookubo was doing the same thing. If she had faced Masazumi while shouting, it would only have drawn attention to Masazumi ignoring her. That was why she had shouted her warning without looking Masazumi’s way.

In front of an audience, every little action could be used to compete for support and attention. That was the situation here.

Judge.

Masazumi spoke while focusing on herself, her opponent, and the people below.

“The Musashi was damaged by Maeda, Hashiba, and P.A. Oda who were temporarily under Qing-Takeda’s command. But…Qing-Takeda originally planned to guide us to a peaceful defeat using interpretations.”

“Please explain why that did not work out.”

I had a feeling this was coming, thought Masazumi as she formed her words.

“In order to gain the cooperation of the Protestants and a friendly relationship with Hexagone Française and other factions, we took part in the Sack of Magdeburg as Protestants, evacuated the people of Magdeburg, and safely saw the Sack through to completion. To get back at us for that, P.A. Oda interfered with Musashi using the taboo method of conquering K.P.A. Italia and securing the Pope-Chancellor for themselves.”

“I see what you are saying.” Ookubo explained what that was while looking to the people. “Vice President, you were unable to predict that participating in the Sack of Magdeburg would lead to the current situation. …Isn’t that right?”


“She’s being pretty ridiculous.”

Six black wings spoke on Musashi Ariadust Academy’s roof.

It was Naruze. She was already equipped with Weiss Fräulein and she walked along the roof to check for readings from the intruder detection charms setup here and there.

“Do you really think anyone could have predicted it would turn out like that?”

Gold Mar: “Well, I think that’s her point.”

“Judge,” agreed Naruze. Displayed in her crop mark frame Magie Figur, Margot was equipped with Schwarz Fräulein on top of Musashino’s bridge-shaped command bridge. The broom was supported by a bipod, she was kneeling, and a telescope spell was opened above the broom’s handle. She was searching for any suspicious movements.

Her usual smile was narrowed as if she were taking aim.

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan, did you put some makeup on before heading up there?”

Mal-Ga: “Sign frame images are more vivid than seeing it in person.”

“That’s nice,” said Margot.

Naruze hoped the other girl could not see the heat in her cheeks through the makeup, so…

“Keep your eye on what you can see, Margot. Masazumi is…”

Gold Mar: “Yes, it looks like she can answer this. That means she has an explanation for why she couldn’t predict the current situation.”

Mal-Ga: “What do you think she’ll say? I just hope whatever it is makes good doujinshi material….”

Gold Mar: “Well, I’m guessing it comes down to the fact that no one could have predicted it.”

Mal-Ga: “But that’s the same as overlooking her own incompetence by saying everyone else is just as incompetent.”

“Oh, I get it,” said Margot.

Gold Mar: “Maybe the best option is to accept her failure and then recover from that by explaining how she’ll prevent it from happening again… And we did respond to what happened appropriately.”

Once Margot said that, Naruze heard Masazumi’s voice from the bridge below.

“I was unable to predict that participating in the Sack of Magdeburg would lead to the current situation?”

Naruze stopped walking to the next detection spell. She suppressed the swaying of her wings and looked to Masazumi’s back.

What is she going to do?

Would she apologize for being unable to predict it? A prostration would be a rare sight, so she wanted to make a quick sketch. And then she wanted to tell Masazumi something: “Your prostration really saved the day! For my doujinshi!”

As she watched with wings raised, Masazumi moved.

The girl’s shoulders lowered as she exhaled and she spoke.

“Listen. I easily predicted that participating in the Sack of Magdeburg could lead to the current situation. It is because I can make that kind of prediction that I am Musashi’s Vice President.”

She stated it quite clearly.

“I predicted everything that is happening now.”


Horizon placed her hand on the shoulder of the crossdresser sitting next to her.

“Toori-sama, I will choose my words carefully as this is a horrible thing to say, but when Masazumi-sama is under extreme pressure, she becomes just as crazy as you.”

“Hold on. Just to be clear, Masazumi isn’t a real crossdresser or a nudist, so my crazy is better.”

“Umm…” said Mitotsudaira while hanging her head.

“Lady Masazumi never disappoints.” Mary spoke to Tenzou with a smile. “She always makes sure to say the things we want to believe.”


Laughter echoed through a stone hall.

The laughter came from Elizabeth as she crossed her legs in her chair.

“Well said. You know to turn the politician’s podium into your own stage, Far Eastern representative!! Trumps! Do you think Musashi Vice President Masazumi is lying about this!?”

They all eventually held up “O” sign frames to show they did. The Fairy Queen smiled when she saw them.

“Every last one of you is wrong.”

A hole opened below Jonson’s feet and he fell into it.

“Ahhhhhh…”

While Walsingham counted on her fingers, Elizabeth sighed.

“I couldn’t continue the quiz if I sent all of you down. You should thank Jonson.”

Jonson ran in through the side entrance while soaking wet.

“I’m very sorry! I ran back as quick as I could, mates!”

“That was too quick.”

A hole opened below Jonson’s feet and the poet fell again.

“Ohhhhh…”

Hawkins raised a hand in his swim trunks, goggle cap, and scarf.

“Fairy Queen, I am more accustomed to water than Jonson, so wouldn’t I be the best choice at times like this?”

A hole opened below Hawkins’s feet. Hawkins fell with an audible “eh?” and the Fairy Queen tilted her head.

“The swim team must be strange indeed to actually want to fall down there. Any other volunteers?”

They all quickly shook their head. Walsingham counted on her fingers and stopped just before the splash down below. Voices echoed up from far belowground.

“Oh, mate! Why did you fall down too!?”

“I’m not sure! Really, I’m not sure!”

“Now, then.”

The Fairy Queen ignored them and turned toward Dudley who stood next to her.

“Why can we say that the Musashi Vice President is not lying? Can anyone tell me that?”

“Testament. Th-th-th-th-that is obvious. A-a-after all, the V-V-V-Vice President is the c-c-c-cornerstone of politics. She must a-a-a-always be th-th-th-thinking about the worst case s-s-s-scenario! …C-C-C-Cecil!”

“Exactlyyy.”

On the opposite side from Dudley, Cecil tossed several chips into her mouth.

“Thinking about the worst case everyday makes you worryyy.”

“Could I have some of those chips?”

“Are you worried too, Queeeen?”

“There is a lot that concerns me. But I can get over most of that by having all of you deal with it.”

With that, Elizabeth grabbed a chip from the paper bag and stuck it in her mouth.

“Are these from the stand on the road down below? You have excellent taste, Cecil.”

“They blow away your worriiies.”

“Here.” The Fairy Queen passed some to Dudley and then ate another one. “This is making me thirsty. …Water.”

“Ha ha ha! I’m back and I feel like I’ve just had a nice bath, mates!”

“Testament! The swim team loves the water!”

“And yet neither of you brought any back for me?”

The two fell once more and Elizabeth twisted in her chair.

“Every politician considers the worst case scenario. And politicians work to preserve their nation even if that scenario were to occur. You are exactly right, Masazumi.”

So…

“Tell her, Masazumi. Tell her you had considered all of this.”


“Yes, this was all part of the worst case scenario I considered.”

“You’re saying you predicted the current situation?”

Masazumi did not turn toward Ookubo, but she did respond.

“As one of the situations leading to the worst case, yes. This is of course within the possibilities I considered.”

“Then why didn’t you try to avoid it? If you had tried to avoid the worst case scenario, the current situation would have to be better than it is now.”

“You think this is the worst case? I can’t agree with you there.”

Masazumi looked to the people below.

“Let me make something very clear. The worst case in my mind is…”

Is…

“The sinking of the Musashi.”


“We avoided having the Musashi sunk at Mikatagahara.”

Masazumi looked across the people while expressing her thoughts.

They had been duty-bound to lose that battle and the Testament Union had been under the enemy’s control.

“We did well to survive from Magdeburg to here, and now we are in position to take the next step. Back then, we were in no position to secure equipment for the Musashi and fleeing was our only option. But now that we have escaped that situation, we are no longer bound by a predetermined loss. Soon we will be free to make our own attack. We are nearly there.”

Masazumi said “so” again.

“We did an excellent job of ‘losing’ the history recreation of the Battle of Mikatagahara, but that was not true ‘defeat’. It was only a ‘loss’ as part of the history recreation. The enemy squandered their first and last chance. The enemy had history, the Testament Union, and an immense military force on their side, but they still failed to capture the Musashi. …You did well to survive that, everyone. Musashi’s remodeling is nearly done and we must rush to leave port, but it was you that allowed us to recover to this point.”

Masazumi clenched her right fist, held it to her chest, and lowered her head.

“Everyone aboard the Musashi has my thanks as Vice President for preventing that loss from becoming a defeat and for carrying us to next step.”


“This girl is one wrong step away from being a truly wicked woman,” commented Segundo.

Juana raised her eyebrows and Fusae smiled a little in response.

Juana spun her chair around to face Segundo.

“What do you mean? I believe the Musashi Vice President has only described the current situation from her point of view.”

It was not Segundo that answered her question; it was Fusae. The Valdés sister tilted her head as Fusae waved a hand and spoke.

“This is a lesson you could stand to learn too, Ju. …Um? I think everyone in Musashi must have been anxious after their loss. They probably trained their bodies or worked on the remodeling to rid themselves of that anxiety. But…do you know why they chose to do it in a way that left something tangible behind?”

“Well…” Juana lowered her head and placed a finger on her lips as she thought for a few seconds. “They’re a lot like Tres España before the Armada battle. We were all working to prepare all sorts of things, but now I can tell we were all looking to our future of defeat and decline. So… Testament, we wanted to believe our efforts would be useful.”

“That’s right. You understand the rest then, don’t you? What did Musashi’s Vice President tell the people who were worried everything they’re doing would be for nothing?”

“She thanked them…”

Once she said that, Juana looked up and faced Segundo.

“Thanking and praising people makes you a wicked woman!? Then does being strict with them make you a saint of a woman!?”

“No, Juana, that isn’t what I meant. It’s surprisingly close to my point, though.”

Segundo picked up a newspaper and looked up to the ceiling.

“From Magdeburg to now, they desperately fled, worked hard despite being worn down and damaged, lost a major battle, and remodeled the Musashi with worry in their hearts… Musashi’s Vice President just praised everything they did. All this time, they had been worried and concerned that their efforts had been for nothing, but their nation’s representative said that isn’t true, that their actions brought the Musashi this far, and that they gave it a future. She even thanked them for it,” he said. “What’s going to happen now? She just overturned all of their worries and doubts with this one exchange.”

Takakane had been reading a baseball information magazine at his desk, but he suddenly spoke up.

“If it was me, I wouldn’t stick with their Representative Council Head. After all, she’s basically saying that everything Musashi’s done was for nothing. That’s like telling all those worried people to give up.”

But…

“She’s saying their efforts were worthless so they should give up, but everyone prefers hearing those efforts were meaningful, that they helped, and that someone wants them to keep it up. Of course…that might send Musashi through hell in the future.”

“————”

Juana was at a loss for words and Segundo spoke to her.

“All Musashi’s Vice President did was thank them while expressing things in a way that benefits her. …But that’s what the people wanted. If she was doing that on purpose, then she is either a wicked woman, or…”

How should I put it?

“A politician who can align people’s hearts with what she wants to do.”


Masazumi listened to the silence as she bowed.

All of the people had stopped moving and none of them tried to speak.

It took a few moments of stillness before she understood they were waiting for her words.

Did that help?

She wanted to think it had helped to support and express her approval of what the others had done. After all…

I think this too is part of my own growth.

Until Mikawa, she had thought a politician was someone who implemented the optimal politics and made the optimal decisions, but she had realized that was not the case at Mikawa when Horizon’s death had been approaching.

She had experienced first-hand that a politician was someone who implemented the politics needed to survive and made some suboptimal decisions. When searching out a suboptimal path to ensure Horizon’s survival, she had been worried whether or not that was the right thing to do. She had also worried whether or not she was the right person to do it.

But an idiot had given her unconditional support. So…

I can be an idiot too.

My decisions might send Musashi through hell, but I will do whatever it takes to ensure our survival. And if everyone is worried as they work toward that end, I will support them.

Because, unfortunately enough, I’m being supported by Musashi’s most powerful individual. So…

“Let me say this.”

I will put in the work needed to live up to what that supportive idiot wants.

Even if I question whether or not what I’m doing is best, I won’t worry. Instead, I’ll help out by supporting anyone else who’s worried. That is how much I’ve grown for the time being. So…

“I have one thing to say about your first complaint. …Accepting Hashiba’s rule does not conflict with stopping Hashiba.”

As for why…

“We will be stopping Hashiba’s forces from interfering with the other nations’ history, taking the history recreation too far, or forcing death on anyone. Hashiba’s rule is a forgone conclusion in Far Eastern history, so rejecting that would also mean rejecting Matsudaira’s rule. We would be establishing a double standard otherwise. But taking the history recreation too far or forcing death on people with the Testament descriptions is murder. Every nation must follow the rules of the history recreation and work together. From that perspective, Musashi is not alone. If Hashiba violates the history recreation, the other nations will work with us to stop them and resist them. That is their duty as a part of this world.”

Masazumi had Tsukinowa open a sign frame.

“Thus, here are my corrections to your complaints under #1.”

1: Stop Hashiba.

O: We lost to Hashiba as part of the history recreation. There are no further similar opportunities.
O: To stop Hashiba is to preserve the history recreation, so the other nations are obligated to help.

“Now, then.”

Masazumi and Tsukinowa waved a hand in unison to smash the sign frame.

“I think I’ll get started on smashing #2 and #3 now.”

“Please wait.”

Ookubo cut in from the side.

“You say you predicted this and that everyone did well, but aren’t you ignoring the inconvenient parts? During and leading up to the Battle of Mikatagahara, we lost Former Hexagone Française Chancellor Anne, Lord Matsunaga, Lady Yoshitsune, and Satomi’s Chancellor. …You really expect me to believe you ‘predicted’ all that?”


Yoshiyasu stopped walking through the multilayered city and a word escaped her mouth.

“Wait…”

Not even she knew what that was telling to wait, but…

Stop that.

Don’t you praise him or judge him.

Don’t define this for yourself by either idolizing his death or stripping it of all meaning. So…

“————”

The vassal walked a few steps ahead of her before looking back. And…

“Um, Yoshiyasu-san? You look pale. …Are you afraid of heights?”

“My god of war flies, you know? …Although I guess it’s not really the same.”

Someone else turned back with a smile. It was Yoshiaki. She hid her crescent moon mouth behind her fan.

“A public figure’s private matters are private, but their public matters belong to everyone.”

Some tension seemed to leave Yoshiaki’s face and Yoshiyasu realized something.

“Sorry.”

Yoshiaki laughed quietly at that word.

“I don’t mind. And I have no intention of being indebted to Satomi over that. Over Komahime, that is.”

But as Yoshiyasu lowered her head, she heard a voice. It was the Musashi Vice President’s.

“My predictions were of the worst case scenario for Musashi. It is true that representatives of other nations did everything they could to avoid that scenario, but that was part of their predictions, not mine. …They did what they felt would avoid their own worst case scenario and that happened to save us.”

And…

“We can guess at what they were hoping for, but with Hexagone Française and Satomi, there are those who have inherited their wills. They do not belong to us and we cannot speak of them using our own predictions.”

Yoshiyasu breathed a heavy mental sigh at the Musashi Vice President’s words and Yoshiaki gave a shallow nod.

“Musashi’s Vice President is strict. …She is already telling you to take over for the previous generation.”


“Now, then,” said Masazumi as she raised two fingers toward the people. Tsukinowa copied the action to open a sign frame with the #2 opinion listed on it.

2: Give the Musashi the ability to fight and use that power to cooperate with the other nations.

X: War with the many powerful nations under Hashiba’s control would be unavoidable.
X: Musashi is on its last chance, so how can we take such a large gamble?

“Let’s continue with these two complaints. First, about the possibility of war with powerful nations…”

The crowd below tensed up a little. Or she thought it did.

The people on the Ariake had experienced a battle the day before and they knew of Hashiba’s attack on Satomi and Edo. They all knew what it meant to take on a powerful nation. But…

“Let’s continue on without fear. Cowardice is curable.”

So Masazumi stood proudly tall and spread her arms a little.

“It is possible Musashi will wage war with a powerful nation in the future. But if we limit Musashi to Matsudaira’s history recreation, we have no more major losses. And if we act as a mercenary for another nation, we can check over the contents of the battle in advance. I think the possibility of major damage is remarkably low.”

She swept her hand from west to north in order to indicate all of the Ariake and the Musashi.

“We have sent ambassadors to the three nations and we have reached this point thanks to the cooperation of England, Hexagone Française, the Protestants, Qing-Takeda, and Satomi which we earned through diplomacy. As I already said, if we accurately follow the history recreation and keep up the diplomacy, the other nations will work with us and respond to our results. …In other words, we can make adjustments to any battles with powerful nations.”

And while I’m at it, added Masazumi in her heart. I can get rid of this other X too.

“Looking at it that way, you can see that this is not Musashi’s last chance. If we cooperate with the other nations, we can earn their trust as we did with England and then we can gain the advantages of trading there from then on. Through intermediate trade, we could also contact the nations with a connection to the cooperative nations.”

She placed a hand on her chest and closed her eyes.

“So as long as I predict the worst case scenario and consider ways to avoid that, the Musashi will not sink. If we then continue cooperating with other nations, we could gain many locations like the Ariake as well as the funds and right to repair or remodel. And as long as Musashi remains on the move, it will remain a constant deterrent. But…”

She took a breath, raised her right hand, and shook it left and right as a sign of rejection.

“If we stop moving, Musashi’s effectiveness as a deterrent will fade and eventually vanish. Then no one will pay us any heed.”


A crossdresser tilted his head in a waiting room at Sviet Rus’s Kasuga Gora Kremlin.

“What’s this deterrent stuff Seijun’s talking about?”

“She is talking about the intimidation that Musashi causes without actually doing anything,” quickly answered Mitotsudaira. “For example, when I am near you, someone who wants to attack you might give up just because I am there. Neither of us did anything, but my actual power prevented them from acting. That is called a deterrent.”

“Wow, I’m useless… But isn’t that dangerous?”

“It is.” Mitotsudaira smiled bitterly. “When a powerful nation tries to force a weaker nation to obey, they will sometimes show off their military might so the weaker nation won’t think of opposing them. A deterrent can also be called a show of force. So…”

So…

“For your power to be a deterrent rather than a show of force, there must be trust between you and the other nations. They have to trust that you won’t show off your power to threaten other nations and that you’ll use that power to protect them from invasion. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how much you claim your power is only a deterrent; they won’t believe you and will think you’re being shameless.”

“In that case,” continued Mary. “For Musashi to do that, we need to establish relationships with the other nations and earn their trust. And we must also reform our own power.”

“That’s right. …It isn’t a large amount of power that’s needed. We need to show we’re updating our power for the current age and that we intend to use it properly. If we don’t do that, our old-fashioned power will be easily invaded and cannot be used as a deterrent. …To do that, we need funds, a location, and technology. It isn’t something we can do while standing still. That is why Masazumi said we must remain a ‘constant deterrent’.”

Just as the bitterness left Mitotsudaira’s smile, Masazumi made her corrections to the complaints.

2: Give the Musashi the ability to fight and use that power to cooperate with the other nations.

O: Most battles in the history recreation are with powerful nations and we can gain the cooperation of those powerful nations.
O: As long as Musashi forms relationships with the other nations, it can continue to exist.

“That completes #1 and #2. That just leaves the two Xs for #3 and for the overall objective.”

Just as Horizon nodded expressionlessly, Ookubo’s words appeared on the sign frame.

Ookubo: “I have a question.”

That is…

Ookubo: “If Musashi is to act as a constant deterrent, it will require a massive amount of funds, so wouldn’t it be best to act as a trading ship as before? That precludes the damage brought by battle and it will increase Musashi’s assets. And if we expand their trade power, the other nations will protect us. Wouldn’t that be safer?”


I see, thought Masazumi.

Ookubo was saying they should develop themselves as a trade city even more actively than before Mikawa.

That’s a lot like one of the suggestions I made at England.

Instead of making a single circuit of the Far East each year, they would establish bases and more efficiently trade with them. Unless technology was developed that surpassed the Musashi’s transportation abilities, Musashi would be protected as and receive the benefits of being a trade nation.

But, added Masazumi.

“What Musashi needs now is to protect, not to be protected.”

“What do you mean by that?”

Ookubo had stopped using her fake-sounding dialect, but Masazumi did not know if that meant she was getting worked up or not. Either way, I need to be careful, she decided before speaking.

“First, being protected for our trade requires a close relationship with that nation. That will take time, a great amount of trading, and a great number of trades. If we are looking to the short-term goal of Westphalia, that would be difficult to accomplish.

“And second, the Musashi can transport a massive amount of materials. Even if we do not use that transportation space exclusively for trade, we can still carry more than enough to trade with multiple nations and we are remodeling it to carry even more.”

Masazumi raised a third finger.

“Also, when protecting the other nations through deterrence, the Musashi just has to be there, trade goods or not. Our protection will reach the other nations when we are simply nearby and that will build trust. But if our diplomacy requires trade goods, time and effort are needed to secure the goods and to unload and load them. That is incredibly dangerous at a time of war. I wish to use the Musashi as a transport ship while also practicing deterrence diplomacy. That way, the Musashi can perform mid-level trade while on standby.”

“I see. You seem to have put together this plan in conjunction with the remodeling of the Musashi. Then I have a question.”

“What is it?”

“Judge.”

Masazumi sensed Ookubo nodding next to her.

“First, I received a suggestion from someone else, so I would like to place it under consideration here. …This suggestion says Musashi could act as a deterrent even while acting primarily as a trade ship.”

“What?”

For a moment, Masazumi had no idea what Ookubo meant.

Deterrence through trade?

It was true the money earned through trade could be used to strengthen themselves militarily or spent on diplomacy. If they used the money effectively, it was true they could increase their effectiveness as a deterrent. But…

Wait.

Something seemed off about this. But why? No, she knew why. She just refused to accept it. Because accepting it was not going to help. So…

“Not you two again!!”

As soon as Masazumi raised her voice and looked back, the school’s front entrance burst open.

“Thank you as always!”

A prostration slid swiftly across the bridge.