On a Godless Planet:Volume1A Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Junction 01
Not even gods are all powerful
It was early in the morning, but tension already filled the McDonald’s near Tachikawa Station.
The Divine World was neutral ground for the gods to live in. The academy city was used for social interaction and research, so the nearby Tachikawa Station area differed from the actual ‘90s in a few ways.
This fast food restaurant was a sanctuary for some of the gods.
After all, a lot of gods were kept away by the type of meat in the patties or the seasoning and other additives used. Even with 100% beef patties, the seasoning could include alcohol and the oil or soup ingredients could be made with pork.
That meant only some of the gods could freely eat there.
“The mythologies focused on nature gods have it easy since there aren’t many dietary restrictions. …And by adding a sound-blocking barrier, we can have a meeting in peace.”
“Are you ever going to explain what happened!?”
Sumeragi had died.
But when it came to that…
“I have a feeling you would know more about that than us. So do you?”
“Yeah, yeah. What happened with Sumeragi-chan after you got back from the game last night?”
“Umm, last night?”
The night before, they had returned from the game…that is, from the terraforming of reality.
“Okay, before we got back, Sumeragi-kun said this.”
“It’s dinnertime once we’re done with the game! Right, Senpai!?”
“Yeah, yeah. And then what?”
“I asked him what he was going to do for dinner.”
“Yes, nice one! Going on the attack without looking like it! You’re good at this!”
“I didn’t mean it like that!”
“Then how did you mean it?”
“Well, um, uhhh, um, I wasn’t trying to make any kind of a move! That’s what I meant.”
“If anyone was going to make a move, it would Sumeragi. So what’d he say?”
“Raidou-san, why are you so comfortable joining this girly gossip!?”
“Tooru’s always with me. Some girls are bothered having him around, but they usually accept it when I tell them to think of him as a decoration.”
“And you’re okay with that…?”
“Hey, during the Earth Age, people apparently built tons of statues of me as far back as BCE times.”
“I would love to hear more from someone so close to the roots of the European rules, but right now I would rather hear how this girl went on the attack. Who is with me?”
“Omokane-san, stop pressing me for answers!”
“I’m going to order some apple pie and other snacks, so I hope you’re ready to talk when I get back.”
She had to try again after they got sidetracked, but this was how the conversation had gone.
“What are you doing for dinner, Sumeragi-kun?”
“Oh, yesh! I’m going to eat a convenience store katsudon while remembering all the mental photos I took of you! Then I’ll take a bath and go to bed!”
He then slapped himself.
“Does that mean you actually hear all of the weird thing he says, Senpai-chan?”
“No, he’s usually talking too fast for me to make it out, but sometimes I do. Although still don’t really know what it means most of the time…”
“I imagine he usually means exactly what he says.”
“But what about the mental photographs he mentioned? That’s not something people do. It’s not something they can do.”
“What’s wrong, Saku?”
“Well, I’m just feeling a little sorry for Sumeragi-chan.”
“So are we dealing with a dense heroine here?”
“I think Sumeragi-chan’s advances are just too unique for her to pick up on them.”
“Why is he like that, anyway?”
“Kido-chan and Kunugi-chan play a role too, but Kuwajiri does the final check, right?”
“Well, I don’t think either of them mean any harm, so it should be fine.”
“As long as he hasn’t been castrated.”
“I’d be afraid in a different way if he was that wild after castration.”
“H-hey! Stop talking to each other after asking me what happened!”
At any rate, she decided to continue the story.
She did not like the idea of convenience store meals, but instead of outright rejecting it…
“Do you always get food at the convenience store?”
“Eh!? Oh, um, no! I normally, uh, I normally get leftover bread at the dining hall with hot water to drink!”
That was even worse.
Who was she supposed to complain to about that? Omokane? No, she felt like the Norse gods like Shifu and Raidou were in charge of his lifestyle guidance right now. She decided to discuss it with them the following day.
“Would you like to have a quick planning meeting at a family restaurant tonight?”
“Eh!? A planning meeting at night!? Woohoo! A midnight operation! It’s like an operation on my heart! Kerpow! …Oh, sorry! I just wanted to say that! I got weirdly excited and my imagination is headed into orbit lickety-split!”
What language was he speaking?
“I feel like about 80% of what he says is wasted space.”
Shifu-san, please don’t intrude on the flashback scene. But anyway…
“I use a public bath, so how about we grab some dinner before that?”
“Eh!? A public bath!?”
“Yes, a lot of the other gods do too, so we can share information there.”
“Then I’ll do that too!”
“The men’s bath has a lot of powerful war gods and such, so be careful, okay?”
“Not to worry! I won’t even notice any guys are there! I’ll be worshiping you from the other side of the wall, so just watch your level go up.”
The incredible part was how a Revelation Board opened to report she had indeed levelled up as he said that.
Since she was his upperclassman, she decided to treat him to dinner.
“So Sumeragi’s a freeloader, huh!?”
“I was repaying him for his worship!”
“To be honest, I’m pretty sure he’d be so happy he died from just 30 seconds shaking your hand.”
“No, no, no, no! I’m not worth that much worship!”
“You did have a few shrines dedicated to you during the Earth Era, so cut the humility.”
“That was mostly as a part of my family…”
“Are you willing to tell us what god she is yet?”
“It might be best for Sumeragi-kun if we did tell you. Let’s see if there is a good opportunity later.”
“Are you sure?”
“This meeting alone is enough to know they aren’t our enemy and that we rely on each other. At the very least, we Shinto gods can work with these Norse representatives. So we can always reveal our joker as a show of force.”
“Ohh. Senpai-chan must be someone important.”
“I’m not sure what she means because I’m about as lowly a god as you can get…”
Anyway, back to what he had said.
“Ah! I don’t have a bath set! I’ll go buy one at the convenience store after logging out! Wait for me, okay!?”
That was all.
A while later, Omokane had contacted her to say he had died in an accident.
“And? What did you do, Senpai-chan?”
“By the time I arrived at the accident site, it had been cleaned up and they were moving to the next stage. I didn’t like what I heard, so I met up with Kubiko-san at the family restaurant.”
“As you can probably guess from that, she is not a war god.”
“Yeah, if a war god didn’t like what she heard, she’d decided it was time to kick some ass.”
“In that sense, I can kind of tell why Balancer allowed us to help.”
“Generally, I prefer to resolve things with words. Shinto gods are meant to defend their local territory. We don’t like actively seeking conflict with those outside our territory.”
She agreed with that.
“Anyway, here’s what I did after that.”
When Kubiko arrived at the family restaurant that night, she had a black-uniformed girl with her.
Senpai recognized her.
“Oh, yes! So you remember me!”
She was unsure what to say to that. Tenma was sort of an elite. She was on the rise. Senpai was a half-forgotten god at the lower end of things while Tenma had much more potential for the future.
“Tenma-san is a fan of yours. Or rather, she is a fan of the different authorities held by the gods. Yours is quite unique, so she kind of worships you. Well, it’s more like the fetishism of rare things you tend to find in trivia nerds.”
“Th-that’s not a very nice thing to say!”
“Calm down,” said Kubiko while having the girl sit next to her.
Tenma was small. She was probably even shorter than Kuwajiri. But…
“Tenma-san has the most authority as a war god of any of the Shinto gods that have manifested so far.”
That meant she was a bodyguard. Which in turn meant…
“…Can we discuss this here?”
“This restaurant uses a mixture of pork and beef for its hamburger steak and its soy sauce is made with alcohol, so most gods with dietary restrictions can’t come here. And it also doesn’t serve much seafood, so those from the Mediterranean coast can’t use its food as an offering. Shinto’s lack of rules is nice, isn’t it?”
“Um, can I order something?”
“Go ahead. Oh, and I’m having Grilled Assortment Meal C with five grain rice soup.”
“That’s a pretty big meal.”
“I can’t keep going if I don’t eat!”
“Th-then I will have the Three Fried Foods Meal C with a matcha eclair.”
“I think I will have the Japanese-style tuna bowl, or would that be too light?”
“I hear this is the season for gyoza.”
“But I was planning to have a meeting in the library with Omokane-san and the others after this.”
“They serve sake.”
“Hmmm. I am an agricultural god, but it isn’t limited to rice.”
“So wheat is fine? Then I hear this is the season for beer to go with your gyoza.”
“That does sound perfect for this discussion, so I will add a large serving of edamame and share them.”
They let Tenma do the ordering while they began the discussion.
She had one main question.
“How did Sumeragi-kun end up in an accident?”
“According to a traveler god that witnessed it, he ran out into traffic.”
“Ran out into traffic?”
“Yes, he got all excited shouting ‘visiting the bathhouse with Senpaiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!’, ran out into traffic, and got hit by a dump truck.”
“Cause of Death: Senpai-chan?”
“Sh-Shifu-san, you weren’t here for this! So stay out of the flashback!”
But she was unsure what to say.
“Is going to a public bathhouse really that exciting?”
“For a human, it probably is. The Roman gods say public baths are the height of leisure, so they apparently built giant temple bathhouses where they could slurp up the worshiper broth made from the bathwater.”
“They sure love taking things to the extreme…”
“Yes, but due to the limited medical knowledge at the time, the large bathhouses doubled as medical facilities that unintentionally helped prevent the spread of infectious disease.”
“Bathing is certainly important.”
“Yes, but they rarely replaced the water and they were pretty open sexually, so the bathhouses also helped the spread of parasites. Check the digestive systems of the ancient Romans and you can apparently find parasites that haven’t changed much at all since ancient times.”
“Heh heh heh. Those cocky gods from other mythologies should have realized they would only have their wisdom mocked if they focused on manifesting just the gods of wisdom to prevent that kind of thing. Because you can never underestimate the level of fetishism and nerdiness in the Shinto gods.”
“Oh, I got sidetracked, didn’t I? Anyway, I think it’s safe to accept that Sumeragi-kun was excited.”
“We’re talking about a teenage boy who had never really talked with a girl before. When a busty beauty moves in next door and suggests they eat dinner and visit a public bath together, he’s liable to ask the convenience store clerk if they have any engagement rings for sale.”
“Anyway, Sumeragi-kun was excited and he ran out into traffic. …So what happened then? That’s your real question, isn’t it?”
Yes. What she wanted to know was found there.
“Sumeragi-kun was hit by a dump truck. A 4-ton one.”
“Yes. That does not seem too unusual on its own. More gods are being manifested lately, so more spirits and support gods from the different mythologies are manifesting and more of the automatons prepared by Balancer are being manufactured. A lot of construction is underway from Tachikawa to Akishima and Tokorozawa. It was one of the trucks being used at one of the construction sites.”
“The construction company that owns the dump truck is Olympus Enterprises. It was a furnace type.”
A short silence fell. It was broken by Tenma placing their order with the automaton waitress who walked up.
“We would like a Grilled Assortment Meal C with five grain rice soup, a Three Fried Foods Meal C with a matcha eclair, and…a Japanese-style tuna bowl with an order of gyoza, a medium draught beer, and a large order of edamame.”
“Now I look like a heavy drinker, don’t I!?”
“I assumed you were tired after all the preparations lately, Scarecrow-senpai. And with another meeting tonight, it can’t hurt to get plenty to eat.”
My, my, thought Senpai while enjoying the wisdom god upperclassman and underclassman’s exchange.
…It’s so different from Sumeragi-kun and me…
Well, he was unique in a number of ways. Anyway, there was one thing that bothered her.
“Olympus? Do you think they are trying to meddle in our terraforming rights?”
“Every mythology wants to. That’s how lengthy and big an undertaking it is. There are oddities like Yomoji-san, but it’s generally the accumulation of a lot of work. So the mythologies that excel at it will get involved in the other mythologies…if not try to outright take over.”
“But this was not one of the usual accidents during terraforming. His rollback will be done tomorrow, but you need to be careful.”
“Are you saying it wasn’t an accident that he was hit?”
“There was no one in the dump truck. We are looking into it now and Olympus has agreed to an investigation led by a third mythology prepared by Balancer. Olympus had been trying to get involved here lately, so this actually worked against them a little bit.”
“Then this was different from normal, wasn’t it?”
“Isn’t that why you called me here?”
That was true. After that, they had exchanged what information they had and checked on the pace of the terraforming before ending the meeting.
And this morning, she had called in the Norse group and Omokane, since she led the Shinto group here. But…
“This time, it happened after we made a fair amount of terraforming progress, but what happens now? And what does it mean that this wasn’t an accident?”
“I spoke with Balancer and gods from the other mythologies, so Sumeragi-kouhai’s rollback is already underway. Any delays now would give them an excuse to intervene, after all. We worked quickly this time. The rollback should be complete before long, so you can go check on him later.”
“Check on him? …Oh, you mean that.”
“You have to play the new neighbor again. Sorry for putting you through this.”
“As for it not being an accident, we still don’t know for sure about that. And you should probably assume we will never know for sure. We need to be ready for a number of different possibilities.”
Hearing that from Omokane meant they were done with this topic for now.
There was only one more thing to say:
“Please try to prevent anything like this again. It’s a lot of trouble for the terraforming.”
“…Understood. The terraforming does come first. I will keep that in mind.”
Omokane got up. She usually had two ferrets on her shoulders, but now there was only one.
“Where’d the other one go?”
“Shitaharu loves construction sites, so I let him go for a walk.”
Did that mean Omokane was looking into things herself too?
“Okay, that ends this meeting, so are you headed to the student apartments, Senpai-chan?”
Shifu asked that while they walked toward the school on the road in front of Tachikawa Station. The other girl sighed.
“I have to meet Sumeragi-kun there. That is my duty.”
“Humans really do die easily, so don’t worry too much about making it perfect.”
“Yes, I suppose this is the…12th time, I think?”
“The rollback thing must be pretty shocking from a human perspective. I mean, it’s shocking to us gods too.”
The rollback system was a privilege given to the humans involved in the gods’ terraforming.
Humans were far too weak, so it was difficult for them to function in the same environment as the gods. So…
“When Sumeragi-chan dies, we just have to get serious and revive him.”
It was simple.
Basically, he could not truly die.
But the gods were not all-powerful. Since this was being done with the gods’ authority, there were some analog issues with it. Such as…
“The memories are only added on by the day, so when he’s rolled back, he won’t remember yesterday. And the memory retention isn’t perfect even outside of that, so he forgets a fair amount of the past with each rollback.”
Yes. He would lose his memories of me.
“I know. He’s already forgotten that he chose me as his partner, his reason for doing so, and plenty more.”
“He still says he will do the terraforming with me.”
That was an important psychological support. A few rollbacks ago, he had completely forgotten about me and I assumed he would refuse to be my partner, but he never did.
I was always worried that might change the next time, but…
“He’s always chosen to stay with me, so I trust he will this time too.”
“…That can’t be fun.”
“Y-you’re the ones that set it up this way!”
“Calm down,” said Shifu while holding out her hands. They would reach the apartment soon, so Raidou opened a Revelation Board and checked the time.
“He’ll wake up in about 5 minutes, right?”
“Balancer will wake him up while staying hidden, so I assume so. Senpai-chan, if you’re worried, do you want us to cheer you on from here?”
“N-no, I don’t need you acting like you’re my mom!”
“Then,” said Shifu with a pat on my shoulder.
“I’m sure you’re tired, but if anything’s troubling you, just stop by the game club. We’ll be eating convenience store meals there for our ‘first day routine’.”
“…Sumeragi-kun puts us all through a lot of trouble, doesn’t he?”
“Ohh, now you’re acting like he’s an old friend! I hope you can keep that up.”
With that, the other two made their way to the school. I saw them wave, turn around, and point in different directions as they discussed which of the nearby convenience stores to stop at.
“Will Sumeragi-kun and I ever be like that together?”
At any rate, this was the first step of the rollback.
I was the upperclassman moving in next door. It was all rolling back to that.
I have a memory of playing a really fun game. I remember it clearly.
My opponent appeared in what I guess you would call outer space and there was a large fleet laid out far behind me. That opponent was of course in a space warship. There was a whole fleet of them and it was honestly pretty cool, but it was my job to command my fleet and defend against their attack.
Those attacking opponents were my old friends.
I…well, I stood in an open area and commanded my subordinates. I think it was what you call the ship’s bridge. It was designed just like you always see in anime and whatnot.
Everyone took action when I gave an order. But none of them were human.
They were automatons running on AI. They promptly began to intercept our opponents. They immediately executed my orders, you could say.
Meanwhile, one of my friends on the offense side displayed their face in the air in front of me. I was using a Shinto-style Revelation Board, so my friend’s face appeared inside the torii-shaped display space.
We were playing a game, so there was only one thing to do: tease each other. We made faces, exchanged trash talk, and I had a lot of control over the Revelation Boards, so I moved it around to their side and did a little dance to annoy them.
They laughed and admitted defeat, so it was time for the real battle.
There was someone by my side then.
Who was it? Oh, yeah. I remember. But the game was more important at the moment. Yes, if I won this, she was going to tell me something important. Um, what was it again? I think it was in exchange for showing off what I could do in the game. But…
I lost. Badly. And an AI spoke from my Revelation Board.
“Oh, that would be another game over there.”
I awoke with a start.
I felt like I just had an awful dream. Or rather…
I was pretty sure I’d died 2 or 3 times. I caught my breath while just sitting in bed in a T-shirt and underwear with the morning sun shining in on me.
I checked the digital clock on the same shelf as the TV next to the bed and saw it was 08:03 of 8/4/1990. I disliked how the time and date didn’t quite match. Was this going to be a bad day? Or wasn’t it?
But that aside…
“Is this what it was??”
The reason I had “died” had fallen onto the bed.
It was just an ordinary pair of game glasses. Those things you put on to play an immersion game. They looked like glasses, but they were sitting next to my pillow. Or more likely, they had fallen there. That meant I had fallen asleep while playing the game.
The glasses said “Genesis-Edge” on them, but they technically weren’t a game system. Were they VR equipment? Well, I had bought these things while hoping they would be good for killing some time. They’re the latest fad and it cost me a week’s pay from the part-time job I started during summer break.
“Summer break, huh?”
My school was local and used a dorm system, which was rare these days. That meant I didn’t live at home. I had moved out when my parents went overseas. It was just too big for me alone.
But I did have plenty of memories there. Um, well, I can’t actually remember any of them now, so…uh, just trust me. Some moving stories had to have happened there.
And now I was living a carefree life.
The school had a huge campus, so the dorms were more like fancy apartments. The building was only two stories, but I think it still qualified as fancy. They were built 15 years ago and they were apparently built before this was part of the campus, but they were made into dorms when the land was bought up by the school.
I would have preferred a “dorm” like this outside the school, but my parents probably didn’t feel safe having their kid outside the managed campus.
I realized something. I was supposed to meet him as a neighbor moving in.
“I forgot to bring my suitcase when I left earlier.”
I was emptyhanded.
I didn’t have any breakfast. Crap. I hadn’t expected the fridge to be empty. I recalled something about a convenience store meal, so I tried to remember what I had eaten last night.
“Did I have a convenience store katsudon?”
I couldn’t remember. At any rate, I had been working part-time, so I had money. So…
“I guess I’ll eat out.”
When I went to change, I found only new style uniforms in the closet, which was pretty bad from a fashion perspective. But the uniforms were hung up in a weird mix of different varieties, so maybe it kind of worked? Well, whatever.
Right, I thought as I suddenly remembered an image of the night sky.
No, not just a single image. It was an afterimage of the countless stars in the sky. It was a flashback. I was remembering something.
Or rather, a planet.
I realized I had left the TV on. A square-faced newscaster was talking about humanity’s settlement of another star system.
<Um, excuse me. What is the hold up!? I am stalling for time, so could you hurry it up!?>
“No, um, I don’t have my clothes suitcase…”
<You didn’t bring it with you when you left? That empty one, I mean!?>
“Why do you know it’s empty!? That’s a violation of my privacy!”
<To be clear, I manage the Divine World, so while I will honor your privacy, the weight in different locations is calculated as stress on the secondary world. Based on those results, the suitcase has been empty since the third time.>
“I-I sat through that entire explanation, but weren’t you trying to hurry things along!?”
I remembered something while watching the TV in the dimly-lit room.
It had been a while since humanity discovered a livable star system that was actually within reach.
That led to a boom in space development and, by the time kids my age were in our thirties, we will have resumed the exploration of the unexplored parts of the deep sea, the high mountains, and the tropics as a way of simulating that field. Our classes had a lot more occupational training for that reason.
“Clothes and food are what matter now.”
<There is new movement in the ape’s room. I should not exist in a ’90s world, so it is time I made myself scarce.>
“Ah, ah, you irresponsible AI!”
I had no choice but to call for help on a Revelation Board.
“Um, Shifu-san!? A little help please!”
“Oh, oh, what’s this? We’re checking what options this convenience store has. Wanna join us? They have pizza-flavored Umaibo.”
“I thought you were buying meals there. We just ate burgers, but Sumeragi-kun won’t have had anything to eat. Please think about his nutritional balance.”
“Is she his mom?”
“And didn’t you have some pressing issue?”
“Yes! I need to pretend I’m moving in next door to him.”
“I’ve always wondered what the point of that is. Same with our game club act.”
“Well, by keeping things the same each time, it prevents any errors in Sumeragi-chan’s memories, right?”
“Yes! That’s right! Anyway, I left behind my clothes suitcase when I went out to meet him!”
“…Tooru? Senpai-chan just confessed she didn’t bring any clothes with her when she went to meet Sumeragi-chan.”
“I feel like showing up in front of his room with no clothes on would solve a lot of things real quick.”
“I’m still wearing clothes!”
I decided it was worth making that clear.
Okay, I decided.
I need to buy some clothes. Also some food. So if I got dressed and grabbed my wallet, I would find happiness outside. Get ready, world of consumerism. I’ll be with you soon.
I could buy a new style uniform, but I already had some of those.
So I would buy normal clothes.
I quickly got dressed.
“Yeah, but they generally don’t sell suitcases at convenience stores.”
“I-isn’t there something you can do!? Like ask a craftsman god!?”
“I’m here to help with your Shinto stuff, but I wasn’t expecting that help to involve supplying a suitcase with only a few seconds of warning…”
“Should we ask the brothers Buroku and Etori?”
“Eh!? You can do that!?”
“I think so, but then it’ll probably automatically return after you throw it or it’ll have a really short handle but be the strongest there is when you spin it and hit people. You’d have to call it a suitcase hammer.”
“Wh-why would you suggest such weird craftsmen!? You’re talking about world-ending legends now, aren’t you!?
“Hmm, it’s not as unconventional as Shinto, but we have a pretty wide variety of crazy on our end of things too.”
“Ah, ah, I’m almost out of time!”
“Hmm, why not say you were just checking out the room? Then you can say you’ve decided to move in.”
“That’s it! I’m checking out the room! Perfect! I’ll use that!”
I walked outside.
My room was on the 2nd floor. The hallway was as large as a terrace and I found someone standing next to me. They were in front of the neighboring door.
“A girl. And with big boobs…”
“Eh!? Oh, um, I…I’m just here to check out the room! Yes! It’s that time of year!”
It was a girl I didn’t recognize and she started blurting out a bunch of exposition.
She was tall and had big boobs.
She fit my tastes perfectly.
I told myself to wait.
This was always a tricky time. After all, it was a meeting between Sumeragi-kun, who had just been rolled back, and me, who remembered everything.
…It’s a pretty sad time for me.
I had to restrain myself and respond to him properly.
But that was fine. I knew he would soon start being his old self again, like he had regained his identity. So I had to act cheerful while trusting in him.
That had become downright routine by this point. However…
Something was wrong.
“Yes, that’s me!”
He looked a little different from before.
“Is something wrong!?”
Why are you a girl!?
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