Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 39

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Chapter 39: Both Sides Speaking through the Partition[edit]

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For the most part

We’re thinking

The same thing

Point Allocation (Midnight High)


Tenzou sensed another mood change.

He had noticed a lot of noise coming from the girls’ bedroom before, but now…

Th-they’ve gone quiet.

They were not asleep. It was more like they were holding a serious discussion.

They had been sending out records of their thoughts on politics and the Apocalypse for a while now, but it had all stopped after the mood change. Toori must have noticed as well.

“Hey, Tenzou. Let’s grab some snacks as an excuse to barge in on them.”

“B-but what if it goes bad? Like during the school physical exam.”

Despite what the idiot said, he looked somehow satisfied. He had his eyes on the wall blocking his view from the kitchen.

“I was really hoping something like this would happen.”

“Even though you aren’t a part of it yourself?”

“Idiot, I’m plenty a part of it. I mean, they aren’t hiding the fact that they’re discussing something in secret, right? And…”

And…

“Horizon, Asama, and Nate are chatting in the same way Sis and I always do. And Mary, Uqui’s wife, the Tachibana Wife, Seijun, and the others are joining in. The people I care about are reaching out to others to enjoy something, and that’s enough to make me happy.”

“You make it sound so simple…”

But Tenzou felt much the same. Mary was living a normal life after defecting from England. You could easily guess she was shedding flowers while discussing something embarrassing with the others.

Although with our girls, imagining some pretty scene might just set me up for a greater shock when I get hit by the cold reality.

Still, he felt certain that Mary and the others like her could get by on the Musashi.

So she should be fine even if she does go back to England.

Calling it a “refuge” sounded wrong, but this gave Mary another home to return to.

This unique silence was proof of that. He could guess Urquiaga was thinking much the same thing about Narumi. And…

“Toori-dono can rest easy as well.”

Horizon, Asama, and Mitotsudaira were acting normally now.

The changes in their relationships had settled down and they were using those changes as stepping stones to reach further changes.

It’s so strange.

What even was everything that had happened when he first met “Scarred” in England?

Thinking back, it had all been necessary, but he felt like they didn’t need it anymore.

They were the same people they had been back then, but those things would never happen to them again.

So…

Tenzou stopped working as something occurred to him.

We inherit things even within ourselves. Our old selves are inherited by our new selves.


“–––––”

Tenzou had stopped to think and Urquiaga noticed.

“What’s wrong, Tenzou? Some new illness?”

“Y-you never change, do you!?”

But that had woken him up. And when he got his thoughts moving again…

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. We are always changing, whether we are aware of it or not.

When you accomplished something, you did not repeat that same task forever. You started on something new.

Eras, ages, nations, and organizations all worked that way. The same applied to the opponents they had faced and the battles they had fought. Most wars and negotiations were related to the changing of the nations, so they had seen it happen on more than one occasion.

And there are those like Satomi Yoshiyori-dono who have others inherit a new way of life for them.

Yoshiyasu had inherited a new way of life from him and used that to give Satomi a new beginning. Toori and the rest of them would not soon forget what Yoshiyori had left with them.

So Tenzou decided to remember what had happened in England.

He would never forget it no matter how far they were from that nation. That way he would never forget the things they had inherited from the events in England. And…

“Toori-dono.”

That boy was an idiot and he had a knack for making things difficult, but…

Has he been inheriting new things and then wondering if that was for the best?

He could be pretty careless, so there was a good chance he would just shrug it all off with an “eh, it’s probably fine”, but he did appear to be making an effort to actively gain more beyond what he passively inherited and lost. So…

“Things are pretty good right now.” But, thought Tenzou. “I wonder what the girls are talking about.”

“Tenzou, how many kids do you want with Mary?”

“Wh-where did that come from!?”

“You idiot,” said the idiot. “The location, time, and mood in there are perfect for that topic.” He crossed his arms and grinned wide. “And the location, time, and mood are perfect out here too, so don’t you forget it.”


“And so after Izanagi and Izanami’s argument over how many people they would have born or have die, the Asama Shrine – well, Shinto as a whole – has decided to focus on the births.”

Asama felt some mild heat in her cheeks while she wondered what to discuss first. If she was being honest, Shinto took things to some pretty freaky extremes. There were stories of people having babies with not just the standard dogs and rabbits, but also birds, crocodiles, and lava. The Far East is kind of messed up, she belatedly realized.

But this story was more serious.

It had played out in the Age of Dawn and throughout history.

The population had to grow to prevent it from dying out.

“Simply put, if a nation restricts population growth, it is on the path to destruction.”

“Yeah, I imagine so,” agreed Masazumi. “Not only will their production slow, but they will have fewer people to maintain infrastructure and less tax revenue. In times of frequent war like the current age, and in historical periods that required expansion, no nation could get by if they did that.”

“Question.” Adele must have woken up at some point because she raised her hand while seated next to Suzu. “What about on the Musashi? I keep pretty close tabs on the taxes, since I’m Catholic and live on my own. So are things different here than elsewhere?”

“A larger population increases our taxes and gives us the personnel we need to function as a trade ship, so we promote population growth,” said Asama. “The weight tax has an age exception and a family credit, so people who live alone like you do end up paying more than others.”

“True,” said Masazumi while looking up a little. “The relationship between tax revenue and population would be the territory of a religion with divine protections for giving birth.”


“Yes,” agreed Asama. “The per-person taxes are all about population, of course. And there are also the external Blessing offerings that are classified as a tax. Every religion and nation needs these things to run, whether they’re Tsirhc Catholic, Tsirhc Protestant, or Mlasi. You can think of a nation’s population as its capital.”

Asama tried to keep this as simple as possible. Then Naito raised her hand.

“So you could say people are a nation’s pressurizer?”

“You could,” replied Masazumi who sat straight across from Asama. “Judge. It is the people who earn and spend. Through taxes and Blessings, that cycle can earn enough for the elderly and disabled, which is all the more reason for the Tsirhc nations in particular to advocate it. The greater the population, the greater the tax revenue, the greater the gross income, and the greater the consumption and production, so the excess can be used to begin trade and improve the nation’s position in the international economy. …So, yes, people’s work is like a pressurizer for that cycle.”

Everyone quietly cheered and applauded Masazumi’s summation, but Asama wanted to get back on topic.

“Well, the government will want to advocate population growth and the Asama Shrine, well, this is kind of awkward to say, but, well, we do have ‘replacement’ divine protections and such…”

Asama repeated the word “well” too much because she felt like she was standing on a precipice.

This discussion did have a political side. She considering the Musashi’s current state as she spoke.

But this was not part of her job. She was speaking with her friends. Also, they were currently in a bedroom.

Th-this is the most common site for “population growth advocacy”!

Mitotsudaira and Horizon were currently focused on their curiosity, but Kimi had her back turned with her shoulders shaking. Asama knew she had to say something about that later on.

But Mary tilted her head about what Asama had said earlier.

“Replacement? What does that mean here?”

Naruze smiled a little.

“How do you think babies are made? The principle behind it, not the physical method.”

“Let’s see.” Mary thought for a moment. “Judge. I believe we mentioned this before…but they are a gift from god.”

“I’m relieved you didn’t mention cabbages or storks. …Now, the gods actually exist, right? Tsirhc doesn’t have a specialist in births, so how it works with them is pretty vague. Technomagie is a technique for us mortals, so you have to work at it yourself. But when you have a myriad of gods like Shinto does, there is a god in charge of it and she manages the ‘fortune’ of who gets one and who doesn’t.”

“I see,” said Mary, a former Catholic. Her knowledge made it clear she had studied Shinto since arriving, but she still seemed surprised to find a god would be that closely involved in people’s day-to-day lives.

The gods are pretty much everywhere, which means they’re involved in everything.

The Tsirhc god was a massive and vaguely-defined being, but the Shinto gods had specific jobs they were in charge of.

“So,” said Asama. “In Shinto, Izanami and Izanagi determined the number of births and deaths and the number of births is higher. So the gods have created various spells to promote births, even if they are kind of lazy.”

Hanami held a sign frame:

<Hey, it isn’t easy. By, God.>

“Now, it has been said since the Age of the Gods that the birth rate will fall for some reason once there is peace, a robust welfare system is in place, entertainment is plentiful, and a solid infrastructure system has been built. So that can be a problem.”

“Heh heh. Musashi is well on its way there, isn’t it?” said Kimi.

“It is our job to ensure love flourishes, so we will do what we can.” Asama turned to Mary. “To answer your question, Mary, the god of births grants her worshipers’ wishes to have a baby or not. She does this by balancing both sides’ fortunes.”

“Um, what does that mean?” asked Masazumi, wrinkling her brow.

“If one couple doesn’t want a baby yet, their ‘have a baby’ fortune is redirected toward a couple that does want one,” answered Naruze. “I’ve heard it isn’t perfect, but the god of births is in control and Shinto allows gods to manage the fortunes of their worshipers.” Naruze sighed. “This is part of the reason rape and such is so hard for Shinto worshipers.”

“Oh, to be clear, the couples’ fortunes aren’t fully swapped and it requires the consent of both couples. You see, mutual consent has been promoted in Shinto ever since the land creation story.”

“Is that really any reason to have a long history of teleporting things into violators’ asses?”

“I see,” said Mary. Whether she actually understood or not was another matter.

But then she asked something else.

“Um, who is the Shinto god of, uh, births?”

Asama felt everyone’s eyes turn her way. She felt an oddly warm sweat while she hung her head and raised her right hand.

“There are more than one, but the biggest one is, um…Sakuya from our shrine.”


<It really isn’t easy. By, god.>

Asama sighed when she saw Hanami’s sign frame. Then Kimi laughed quietly.

“Heh heh. In that sense, it’s amusing that the Asama Shrine is on the Musashi. With the god of births on our side, we will be the Far East’s only independent territory not on its way to destruction.”

“Won’t politicians try to use you?” asked Masazumi.

“She can win them over with a well-placed kaboom,” said Naruze, miming firing a bow. Adele, Suzu, and Narumi all nodded.

“Makes sense.”

“N-no, I’ve never done that…I think.”

“Then why do you know how to blast people like that?” asked Gin.

Horizon placed her hands on Asama’s shoulders from behind to demand an answer.

Asama sighed and raised her right index finger before answering.

“It’s said we were nearly used by politicians long ago and a lot happened, so the Asama Shrine built its rear shrine on Fuji’s peak and declared it inviolable.”

Shinto was independent beneath the Emperor. They handled the Far East’s infrastructure and divine protections, so in the days of the most powerful clans, they had attempted to build up some military might and it was said they had even fought a battle.

But all of that is kept as a Shinto secret, just like the records from the Age of Dawn.

She had a feeling Yasuhira would tell them all about it if they asked. But…

“Anyway, none of those old reasons matter anymore and the Asama Shrine is part of Musashi. Now, there are spells and arrangements used for those who want a baby and those who do not. Yes. …Naruze, don’t give me that weird look.”

<My husband is enough for the one-time-use divine protections. By, god.>

“Oh?” Naito looked to the sign frame. “That’s one form of love…”

“We’re having an awful lot of divine visitations tonight.”

“We’ll be in the Ariake soon, so IZUMO has asked her to stay inside Musashi’s spell field. The Ariake has its own spell field and its own god and we don’t want any interference, so she has to stay inside. She won’t actually be physically summoned here, but her presence on the Musashi will mean no time lag for our divine protections.”

“Won’t it stress her out to be holed up like that?”

“We can have a summer festival to help cheer her up.”

It was interesting how Mary nodded several times in interest.

“Is this different than the spirits you know, Mary?”

“Yes. The spirits have their own natural roles, but they don’t have a defined political structure or specific jobs. At most, they have divisions like ‘king’ or ‘lord’.”

Asama really wanted to ask more about that, but that would stray too far from the current topic.

“Mary.”

“Yes?”

Small flowers scattered from her tilted head.

She must have been enjoying the conversation, or just the general mood, so Asama felt the need to make her point.

“There are preliminary divine protections for these things, so…feel free to come to me if anything happens.”


Eh? thought Mary.

She assumed they were asking because they found any information related to her and Tenzou to be amusing, but…

“U-um.”

What did they want from her here?

Oh.

When she had left England, there had been talk of her giving birth to the next King of England.

That might make them a foreign name inheritor and treating inherited names as hereditary was banned, so that would be a lot easier said than done. But…

“U-um, uh.”

Why couldn’t she stop the white flowers spilling all around her?

She was so terribly embarrassed, she had no idea what they were talking about, and she knew this was a selfish feeling, but…

“I-I will discuss it with Master Tenzou.”


Gold Mar: “Tenzou.”

10ZO: “Do you need something?”

Art-Ga: “I so hate that I can’t share this with you! Just know this is my reaction: die.”

Uqui: “That does not narrow it down very much with him, Naruze.”

10ZO: “I-I am so confused.”


“Heh heh. You focused on England here so you wouldn’t have to talk about yourself, didn’t you!? Didn’t you!?”

Hearing Kimi’s comment, Mitotsudaira tried to keep a low profile.

I can’t let them drag me into this!

Asama was her shield. She needed to change the topic while those two were busy going cannibal at each other. So…

“Masazumi, will there be negotiations about these things?”

“Honestly, I think that will have to wait until after Westphalia. But once this age of extended war is over, it is the number of people who will support a nation’s strength. If Shinto could make their ‘hidden’ settings more prevalent…” Masazumi thought for a moment. “We could actually set our sights on settling the outside world.”

“Heh heh.” Kimi looked away from Asama to face Mary. “How many do you want?”

“Judge. My sister has helped me in so many ways, so I think it would make for a lively family to have at least two.”

Mary placed her hand on her cheek, making no attempt to stop the floral cascade.


Gold Mar: “Hey, Tenzou.”

10ZO: “Wh-what now!?”

Silver Wolf: “No need to be so defensive, 1st Special Duty Officer. It is a simple matter. If Mary tells you something in the near future, we will never forgive you if you run away.”

10ZO: “W-well, now I’m scared!”

Asama: “Now, now, Tenzou-kun. Calm down. This is nothing bad. …But we won’t forgive you if you run away.”

Gold Mar: “You have no escape.”

Art-Ga: “I had run through most of my material for the manuscript I just submitted, so I do appreciate all the excellent material I’m getting tonight.”

10ZO: “Th-that last one is only in it for self-gain!”


Asama realized that Kimi was looking behind her.

Horizon was there.

What is she up to now? she wondered, moving to block Horizon from view.

But Kimi asked her question regardless.

“We’ll have to ask my foolish brother’s opinion later, but how many do you want, Horizon?”

“Wait, Kimi. Horizon may not be thinking about that kind of thing yet.”

A smile immediately entered Kimi’s eyes.

“Fair enough. …You, though, are thinking about those things, aren’t you?”

Eh!? thought Asama just before she felt hands on her shoulders from behind.

“An impressively aggressive stance on population growth advocacy, Asama-sama.”

Captured between the two girls, Asama started pouring with sweat. It had been a while since her body temperature fluctuated so much in a single day.

“No, um, I…wait, what about Mito!? Hey, don’t shut that curtain with such a relieved smile!”

“Forget her,” said Horizon from the side. “Just answer the question.”


Horizon considered the question for herself. If she were to have children…

“I would need to consider what had happened with the Apocalypse and with the political state of the world. Not to mention what happened with me.”

This is really the only thing to say, she decided before speaking again.

“Any children would be born into a difficult age, so they might wish they had never been born. But,” she said. “Every new life makes the world that much more exciting. Of that I am certain. And even if they are faced with a harsh reality, I am sure Toori-sama, Asama-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama, Kimi-sama, and the other life intervention extremists would do something about it. If possible, I would simply tell them one thing.”

That is…

“Do not let this scare you, because all of us will save you.”

So…

“Keep on fighting.”


Horizon suddenly sensed a shadow.

It was Kimi, who was now kneeling in front of her.

“Hush.” Kimi placed her right index finger on Horizon’s lips and narrowed her eyes with a smile. “Heh heh. That was clever of you, Horizon. You framed it as all of us doing something, but you were really saying that you would save your child.”

“So you noticed.”

“Oh,” said the others, so Horizon gave a double thumbs up.

“I am second to none when it comes to relying on others.”


Mitotsudaira looked to the others from in front of the curtain.

Everyone turned their eyes or heads her way and nodded. Even Naito and Naruze.

This is just between us.

She would not tell her king about this.

Horizon could tell him if she felt like it, or she could never tell him. So for now, the curtain in her hand acted as a barrier.

This is a secret.

That was why they all nodded, telling her to keep quiet about this. And…

“And next up is…”

Horizon placed a hand on Asama’s shoulder, looked Asama in the eye, and shouted…

“Mitotsudaira-samaaaaa!!”


Asama realized her execution had been delayed by one turn.

Th-that was a close one!

No, this only delayed the inevitable, but it gave her time to mentally prepare. It was the difference between standing in the batter box with 2 outs versus with 1 out. She was still safe. Except that she feared she couldn’t bring herself to swing at the ball regardless.

But part of her was relieved by Horizon’s earlier answer.

Probably because she already knew she would be doing that kind of thing with Toori-kun.

Horizon already had a vision of the future in mind.

Would she ask the others about those things, either directly or through him?

Asama knew she had to give good answers as the Asama Shrine and as a tenant. And…

“Mito?”

The wolf holding the curtain shut looked confused.

It took a bit before she finally gasped.

“Y-you mean me!?”

Red rapidly spread across her face.

Wow, her reactions are pretty amusing, thought Asama before wondering if she reacted like that too. If so, I can see why everyone teases me over it. …I’m really sympathizing with her tonight, aren’t I?

“Asama-sama, is something wrong? It’s like your spirit has left your body.”

“It’s nothing. I just came to understand something that does me no good whatsoever to understand.”

“Anyway,” said Naruze, her pen at the ready. “I’ve drawn a few variations in preparation, but I was really hoping for some pillow talk material. Now, out with it.”

“Wh-what exactly have you been drawing!? Besides, this is a relationship between a knight and a king!”

“Oh, that’s perfectly normal. In the Testament, it’s almost cliché for a knight to be accused of homosexuality and for a royal to forgive them due to reasons. …So stop thinking this is unique to you.”

“Y-you know a lot about this, Naruze!”

“No one’s better than Ga-chan at researching the least useful information out there.”

It was true Naruze’s inquisitive nature could be impressive at times like this.

She can know the weirdest things about Shinto. Sometimes things I didn’t even know.

Of course, she also immediately forgot anything that she couldn’t use for her doujinshis.

Meanwhile, Mary smiled and placed a hand on her cheek, flowers spilling everywhere.

“Lady Mitotsudaira, no one is going to make fun of you.”

“Yes, I know that…but still.”

Asama saw Mitotsudaira’s eyes flit over to her partition while she pursed her lips.

She knows there’s no point in denying it.

She was holding that curtain shut herself. So…

“Since I am half Loup-Garou, I honestly don’t know how hard it will be for, uh, that to happen. My birth means it is at least possible.”

“Yeah, there is the Reine des Garous’s legendary 24 days.”

Why did Adele sound so awed as she said that? And hadn’t that ended up in the lyrics to some song?

But the wolf shifted her eyes toward Asama.

“Also, I have heard that hereditary traits often skip a generation.”

In other words…

“If my king and I had a child…they would probably take after my mother.”

What would that mean? Kimi immediately gasped.

“You would lose to your own daughter! Because you take after your father!”

“How did I know you were going to say that!?”


Mitotsudaira sensed everyone giving her sympathetic looks.

Wow, they think this is really big deal, don’t they!?

Personally, she had hoped they would laugh it off as a joke, but it felt like they had taken it extremely seriously. But anyway…

“I expect I would raise them to be strong.”

She then turned a smile toward Asama.

And she knew exactly what to say next.

“What about you, Tomo?”


Mitotsudaira saw Asama respond by taking a deep breath.

She was not too afraid to answer, but she was not locked up in thought either.

She has to do everything seriously, doesn’t she?

Since everyone knew Mitotsudaira had turned to Asama as a joke, she did not have to come up with a serious response, but Asama (being Asama) was going to do so anyway.

“Well, just from my point of view, there is one thought I’ve long had about this. See, I’m an only child, right? So, well…” She glanced over at Kimi. “I do think it would be nice to have more than one, so they can each have a sibling. But…” She glared at Kimi. “I also know that would make them exponentially more difficult to deal with, so maybe that’s a bad idea.”

“A-Asama Shrine Representative, um, you could have omitted that last part.”

Gin had a point, but siblings really did seem like too much trouble when using that sister as an example.

But Asama relaxed her shoulders, turned toward Horizon, and then looked to Mitotsudaira.

“But, well, if we are blessed with the opportunity, I’m sure at least one of you will give them a brother or a sister.”

“D-do you have to lay the pressure on me!?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Mitotsudaira-sama, not long now until you can attempt to break your mother’s record.”

Horizon’s comment made Narumi frown.

“Since she’s only half Loup-Garou, will it take twice the time, or half the time?”

“Even 12 days sounds like a lot,” said Asama. “But I think 48 days would kill Toori-kun.”

“If you hogged Toori-sama to yourself for that long, I believe it would affect the family finances, so I recommend we devise a schedule or something,” said Horizon.

“I-It might not be like that with me!? Maybe!?” insisted Mitotsudaira. “Also,” she added, turning toward Asama. She definitely had something to say here. “Tomo, I do not want you limiting yourself to one for our sakes.”

“I guess you have a point there,” said the shrine maiden, the bashfulness gone from her face.

The Shinto idea of Kotodama said spoken words carried actual power, so maybe Asama had used that line to reach some internal decision.

“I think that is something I will decide only after discussing it all with Toori-kun and the rest of you. Also,” she said. “My mother taught me so much about Shinto and housework and so on, but that must have been a lot of work. Thinking back, she only could have raised one, maybe two, that way.”

She stopped speaking there.

Mitotsudaira looked over to see Horizon raising both hands toward Asama while sweating profusely.

“What is it, Horizon?”

Horizon8B 333.png

“I am ashamed to admit I have none of that knowledge, so can you handle all of that education for me?”

“Heh heh. Horizon.” Kimi tossed Horizon a set of summer uniform sleeves. “Try folding them.”

Horizon stood up and carefully draped the sleeves over the hook sticking out from a curtain pole.

Then she gestured at it with both hands.

“How is that, Asama-sama!?”

“I’m beginning to think I should start by teaching you first.”

“To be perfectly clear, I prefer to live as easy a life as possible.”

Asama had no idea how to respond to that, but Mitotsudaira quickly arrived at the only viable solution.

“You need to find an easy way to teach her. That will probably be easier for you to teach a child and easier for the child to learn.”

“Hmm… So maybe record it on a sign frame so they can check it at any time. Oh, and have the video pop up automatically when they do it.” Asama looked back up. “But anyway, I will take care of whatever I can.”


Asama took a breath and Horizon sat down to show her agreement. And…

“Now, how about we take a break?” Horizon pulled a teacup and teapot from behind her. “I swiped this from the kitchen earlier. Oh, I also have a kettle of hot water.”

“Huh? Then what are these snacks?”

“Toori-sama made them.” Horizon nodded. “I switched them with the ones I made.”


“Toori-dono! I opened up this dessert you made and found it’s nothing but sugar!”

“Oh! I dunno how this happened, but it must be Horizon’s love! Her love! I bet you’re jealous! And we were just discussing that too!”

“Let’s see if you can say that after you break through this bedrock of sugar!”

“We would probably be better of pouring coffee on it and drinking it as the ultimate Georgian coffee.”


“Wow, the Chancellor put a lot of effort into this. Each one is unique.”

“That clever bastard… Oh, but I too made each one of mine unique…at the very bottom.”

Adele decided it was best not to ask what kind of surprise Horizon had left for the boys.

But this talk of their futures had brought something to mind.

“Oh,” said Adele.

Should I ask or not?

This was awkward to say, but she did have a question.

Umm…

She worked her sleepy head to figure out how to phrase it when the Date Vice Chancellor spoke up next to her.

“Going back to that previous conversation, can Musashi’s princess even have children?”

She just came out and said it!

Adele paled, but she knew the Date Vice Chancellor felt like it was her job to ask these questions.

And the response did not come from Horizon herself.

The Vice President raised her right hand first.

“Back when Horizon was still known as P-01s and we learned what was going on there, an engineer checked over her functionality while the Blue Thunder’s owner sat in as an observer.”

And they discovered…

“She can do all that just fine.”


Asama heard Horizon’s “judge” of confirmation.

She held a cup of pudding in her usual perfect seated position.

“Whatever else he might have done, my cruel father must have wanted his daughter to live a normal life.”

In other words…

“If Toori-sama enjoys ‘combining’ with me, then we will know that he has the same preferences as my cruel father.”

Asama spat out her tea.


“W-wait! If you tell Toori-kun that in the middle of that, uh, activity, it might just kill him, so please don’t! Can you promise me that!?”

Asama grabbed and shook Horizon by the shoulders.

“But I need to hit him with at least one good one while we do it,” said the shaken girl. “There is no way I can resist the temptation.”

“Actually,” said Gin, her cheeks flushed. “When you have a prosthetic made – especially a biological one – they tend to use your own cells, so the same may have been done for your body.”

That reminded Asama of something.

Gin-san has some of those, doesn’t she?

Asama had seen Gin’s slender prosthetic arms.

She had worn black biological prosthetic arms when the Musashi arrived at IZUMO because the larger ones she used for combat and everyday life were being repaired.

Those must have been made in the way she mentioned. And in the same way…

“Yes. If she was created that way, then even if she has an automaton base, her body should be close to what it would have been.” Narumi showed off her right hand by rolling it around. “I too have biological arms and legs and the center of these are reinforced biological to allow for attachment. But the reinforcements can be hard to notice since the exterior is so similar to my original limbs.”

She smiled bitterly. Because…

“Back in Date, I thought I only had these because I was reluctant to give up my limbs, but here I don’t have the money to use combat prosthetics as spares for Unturning Centipede, so I end up using these biological ones all the time. …I thought I only kept them around out of reluctance, yet here I am getting so much use out of them.”

“Wouldn’t you call that a blessing from god?” asked Mary.

The others nodded.

“Umm, now that we’ve finished that discussion, how about a toast?” suggested Asama

Everyone raised their teacups.

Horizon brought her cup to her mouth just like the others.

She tilted it back and drank the contents, earning a question from Asama.

“Wait, didn’t that have pudding inside?”

Horizon froze.

After a bit, she made a sound that was not quite a cough and not quite a choke as something slid down her throat.

A few seconds later, she finally moved her hips up and down a few times.

“That was a close one. Heh, but I will never lose.”

“I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but I bet Toori-kun will be happy to know you were satisfied.”

Since Horizon pulled out another one, she must not have had time to actually taste the pudding.

“Aren’t you eating an awful lot for the middle of the night, Horizon?”

“Fair point. My bodily structure is nearly identical to the real thing, so I need to consider small fluctuations in weight. Even if my cruel father set it up this way, it is somewhat infuriating.”

“Y-you’ll be…fine…Horizon. You have…the arms,” said Suzu.

“True. This is something not even Gin-sama and Narumi-sama can do. They also do not seem to have a storage space behind them. I should use those advantages to name myself superior.”

“In that case,” said Kimi, entering her own partition. She left the curtain open and pulled out a futon. “Heh heh. Your heart is nice and warm at the moment, but you will need a space for when it’s feeling colder, won’t you?”

“I get the feeling you’re about to tease us again,” said Asama with a glare.

Kimi also pulled a futon from Mitotsudaira’s partition.

But instead of saying they should get to sleep, she seemed to be saying they should lie down and take a break.

“So what if I am?” asked Kimi. “We just confirmed we have something fun awaiting us after the Apocalypse and we can use that to kick my foolish brother’s ass into gear. We’re just having fun tonight, but it’s still worth dreaming about the kind of reality we hope to create for ourselves once summer break is over.”

So…

“Nothing can scare us if we have dreams of a post-Apocalypse world.”


They ultimately got Neshinbara’s manuscript complete at 4 in the morning and the sun had risen by the time their rushed editing was complete as well. After Naito and Naruze carried the manuscript data to Musashi’s international divine transmission shrine, they chose to sleep in the bedroom space they had created. They based the decision on Suzu’s parents calling to tell them the bathhouse would be ready sometime in the morning.

“This really only feels like an extension of the usual,” commented Masazumi.

She, Mary, and the others smiled bitterly while they decorated their uniforms or hair with fashionable purification charms, showed them off to each other, and gradually fell asleep.

The boys had all fallen asleep as they were in the café area, but after the girls finished getting dressed and completed some simple grooming, they ate some breakfast in place of lunch and made their way to Suzu’s bathhouse. However, the wolf whispered to the shrine maiden on the way.

“Tomo, I think my king invited everyone to the Main Blue Thunder last night so we could spend this time together.”

Because…

“We were only now moving in for real, which could have made us nervous and uncertain how to tell the others afterwards, so he invited the Secretary over and made sure it was a fun night instead.”

“And Kimi was doing something similar…just in a very Kimi way.”

It was never easy to say whether she was more thankful or annoyed with those two, but Asama passed on the message from the sign frame that appeared by her face.

“The Ariake is appearing ahead to port!”

In the midday sky, a massive amount of white fog appeared beyond the horizon.

White armor panels appeared as if breaking through a waterfall of white wind. That floating dock was larger and wider than the Musashi and its hangar hatch was sitting open.

Masazumi spoke while viewing the Ariake’s impressive form in the distance.

“We won’t be entering the Ariake quite yet. But this appearance signals that we have arrived. From here, we will visit the Kantou nations while using the Ariake as a floating port and loading supplies inside it. We might not be going inside, but it will still function as our Kantou base.”

She noticed the Ariake was displaying a sign frame bearing the message “Welcome Musashi”.

“Once Hashiba returns to Kansai in the Azuchi, we will be heading that way ourselves.”

So…

“Make sure to complete your preparations before then.”