On a Godless Planet:Volume 1B

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Novel Illustrations[edit]


Inner Cover[edit]

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She Really Did It

Tachikawa had a lot of movie theaters. Shifu had thought it would be nice to casually pop in and watch something before or after they went shopping, but…

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“Hmm. With a title like Apache, I was expecting something about America’s pioneer period, so that attack helicopter movie took me by surprise.”

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“Its English title was Fire Birds, which feels even less explanatory to me. And I feel like that was a helicopter version of Top Gun or something.”

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“I-I didn’t really understand that Gremlins 2 movie we saw before, but it was still fun.”

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“I loved how it was even more over-the-top than the first one.”

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<Incidentally, Gremlins 2 takes place in Clamp Tower, which belongs to a rich man named Clamp. Given who that was based on, I wonder if that was meant as a form of foreshadowing for later.>

What are you even talking about?

At any rate, it did help to have Balancer as a guide or exposition machine. There was a lot they did not know about the food rules and such, so they could sometimes end up getting into unwanted conflicts with the gods of other mythologies based on their religious rules.

They were currently taking a break in the café across the road from the Tachikawa Central movie theater. They were talking about having a cookout party the following day since they had to help the Mesopotamian group move in.

The girls were discussing what they should buy as a moving in gift, but…

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“So anyway, how are things between you and Sumeragi-chan?”

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“Eh!?”

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“Well, um, it’s normal and the same as always. The most I hear from the neighboring room is him making weird noises or the thud of him suddenly falling to the floor.”

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“How are we defining ‘normal’ here?”

Hey, everyone has their own definition.

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“But, anyway, have you done the thing yet? Y’know, running into him in front of your rooms.”

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“You really did that?”

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“Um, why the very different moods when asking about that?”

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“One of us is excited to hear about it and the other is asking if you’re sane?”

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<That certainly was an awful spectacle.>

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“Wait, wait, wait.”

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“Oh? What was it like?”

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“Well, we returned to the apartment building we use as a dorm and then he went into his room first.”

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“And when you started going to yours, the idiot came back out and you ran into each other? But you wouldn’t have had any luggage, so it doesn’t quite fit the scenario, does it?”

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“We changed the scenario to say I had already put my luggage in the room, gone out to go shopping, and then forgot my wallet in my room.”

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“Why does that idiot get so detailed about the most unnecessary things?”

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“Anyway, I was supposed to wait three minutes and then climb the stairs, right?”

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“Why are you asking us? You’re the one telling the story.”

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“Just roll with it. So you waited three minutes? Okay, the three minutes are up and you’re climbing those stairs! What happened next?”

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“Yes, I was climbing those stairs, and, um…”

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<That idiot was doing squats in his room to build up some kind of power, but he ran out of patience after 2 minutes and 50 seconds.>

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“Yahoo! I can’t wait a second longerrrr!”

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“So, um, I was rushing since I was a little overeager as well, but then the door flew open in front of me and he charged out.”

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“Wait, don’t tell me…”

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“His head got stuck between my chest and the open door, so instead of a Kabe-Don, it was more like a Boobs-Don or a Door-Don. After trembling in a weird way, he fell to his knees and I have to admit I panicked.”

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“So could we call your boobs a deadly weapon?”

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“…”

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“Oh, don’t worry. I am not irritated about the boobs part. I am irritated at the thought of having to do a rollback for that, though.”

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“Ohh, Kuwajiri-chan, that’s awfully mature of you. Anyway, what happened next?”

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“When he woke up, I said ‘well, we screwed that up, didn’t we?’ and he said…”

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“Screwed it up!? Don’t be ridiculous! We boobsed it up! Oh, excuse me. What I meant to say is that it was a critical hit! And that’s A-OK from time to time!”

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“I wish he had died.”

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“I mean, if he’s satisfied, I guess that’s fine. So what happened next?”

“Well,” said Senpai with a nod.

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“We decided we had an excuse to do it again later if we said we screwed it up this time, but then I realized we’ll meet each other outside our rooms every morning and we can try out all sorts of things.”

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“…”

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“Oh, don’t worry. I can bear with it.”

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“Saying that’s only making me more worried.”


Tooru’s Belt Page[edit]

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“So about Tooru’s belt. I feel like they would sell that thing in stores. And I think they had a lot of things like that in this era.”

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“I love when a transformation belt has a ton of gimmicks, but sometimes the batteries are so heavy it slides down on you.”

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“I know what you mean. And when you use all the gimmicks that light up and it starts to heat up, you end up thinking, ‘wait, am I in trouble here?’ ”

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“Mayyyybe equipment that makes sparrrrks or that’s made of wool would be a baaaad idea.”

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“Eh? Eh? So when I hear a weird mechanical buzzing sound coming from Sumeragi-kun’s room at night, is he using a transformation belt?”

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“Sumeragi, what have you been doing?”

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“Wait, wait, wait, wait! You could call it a transformation belt of sorts! When it spins, it changes form and makes noises! Noises from my mouth! Ahahhhn! Wait, no! It’s not that! Oh, and to change the subject, how did you like wearing Kamen Raidou’s transformation belt?”

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“Well, when Thor’s Hammer separated from it, it popped up and hit the bottom of my chest, which popped it right back in. I’m pretty sure that’s a design defect.”

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“Wh-why is that so easy to imagine!?”


Story[edit]

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In Tachikawa, Tokyo, of 1990, the terraforming participants engage in some chatting and some action for a wholly unpredictable story. Or maybe it is predictable. Who knows.


Character[edit]

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Sumeragi Izumi

Protagonist. High School Year 2. Game club member. Main consoles are the Mega Drive, the PC-98, and the MSX2. Big boobs worshiper. Has no filter whatsoever. Seriously, none. Tends to make strange noises. Background noise on legs. Is something of a problem, but isn’t a bad person. It’s fine. Currently a girl.


Senpai

Senpai. High School Year 3. Game club member? Has difficulty saying no. 175cm tall and busty. Seems like the gentle type but actually has an odd amount of energy. Seems to use her flustered expression more than the normal one. Is a Shinto god, but her identity is a secret.


Raidou Tooru

High School Year 3. Game club member. 195cm tall. The reliable big brother type. Surprisingly, intellectual. Gets worked up playing games, but isn’t very good at them. Main consoles are the Famicom and the X68. A real fighter. Big boobs worshiper. Is Thor, Norse god of war, and it looks like he might finally get to do some fighting.


Shifu Saku

High School Year 3. Game club member. 185cm busty blonde. Raidou’s wife. The accepting mom type. Thor’s wife Sif from Norse Mythology and also his other wife Jarnsaxa. A harvest god.


Kuwajiri Tsubomi

High School Year 2. Game club member. 155cm tall. An intellectual with a sharp tongue. Something like a little sister to Raidou and Shifu? Good at games that don’t require reflexes. Kvasir, Norse god of knowledge. Has fairly high blood alcohol content.


Yomoji Shinsei

High School Year 3. Game club member. 205cm tall. Club leader. Stretches his words when he talks. Crazily tolerant yet intolerant. Absurd. Monotheistic god. The four letters one. Harsh with his believers.


Balancer

An AI made by humanity and a 30cm square. Currently works as a manager for the terraforming. However, most of their authority has been transferred to the gods, so he ignores an awful lot for a manager. Gets into a lot of insult battles with Sumeragi. Also provides exposition. This 90s world is a data world known as a Divine World that Balancer created.


Omokane Yatsui

High School Year 3. Shinto Representative in the Divine World. 170cm tall. Is Omoikane, god of knowledge. Is also the Library Committee Head and works behind the scenes for Shinto.


Kubiko Scarecrow

High School Year 3. Library Committee member in glasses and Kuebiko, Shinto god of knowledge and security. 175cm tall. Is only at the Earthly God level, but acts as Omokane’s overseer. Busty.


Sugawara Tenma

High School Year 1. 150cm tall. Is Sugawara no Michizane, Shinto god of learning, and also a lightning god and negotiation god, so she is multitalented.


Kunugi Takeshi

High School Year 3. 180cm tall. Art Club Head. The bandanna wrapped all around him gives him a distinctive look. Close with Raidou and the others and helps out the game club group. From Egyptian Mythology. Fairly important.


Shamhat

Temple prostitute god from Mesopotamian Mythology. Originally human. 160cm tall. Down for anything if the price is right. More of a worrier than you would think and likes to help out. Busty.


Bilgamesh

Half-god half-human from Mesopotamian Mythology. 190cm tall. Tucks his shirt in. Later known as Gilgamesh, which is the better known name. DIY’d his equipment, created laws as a king, and did a lot of other stuff while doing a lot of “stuff” with Enkidu.


Kidou En

Busty. Enkidu, a half-god half-human from Mesopotamian Mythology. Also known as Ki. 180cm tall. Is Bilgamesh’s partner and is about as powerful as him, but she currently uses spells more often. Was originally a guy, but made herself into a girl.


Eshita Inana

Appears in this volume. An important member of a certain mythology, but is fairly useless. Learns to love Karamucho.

Interlude[edit]

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“Ohh, looks like we’ve got a battle after the bath. And we’re up against some big names too.”

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“U-um, if you work up a sweat fighting, will you take another bath afterwards?”

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“Senpai-san, you aren’t too worried about the battle, are you?”


Chapter 22: Dangerous Seed 02[edit]

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A confused panic sets in.

Bilgamesh nodded toward Omokane.

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“Thank you for arranging this.”

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“Does that mean you’ve explained your reasons to Omokane?”

“It does,” confirmed Omokane.

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“I must make the most beneficial decision for Shinto, so if you two lose, I will negotiate with them and keep things as beneficial as possible…while having them take over the more physical duties where Shinto is lacking.”

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“Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”

Shifu placed a hand on her chin.

It was true they were good at those physical duties, but the Norse gods also saw it as mercenary work.

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“Since our terraforming got through the first stage pretty early, the other gods sent us here so we wouldn’t pull further ahead and as a way to wear us down. Also, I think that was more just the gods in general than the DC in particular.”

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“Well, we’re not so much acting on the DC’s behalf as we are-…”

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“Ki, do not say too much. It would shame me to earn sympathy.”

Did that mean they had their reasons?

No, thought Raidou. Every god has their reasons. Which led to something:

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“Politics, huh?”

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“You could call it that. Because that is what is it.”

With that, Bilgamesh stepped back. But not to retreat. He was simply putting distance between them.

His partner Ki moved behind him while waving toward Shifu.

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“It all comes down to this:

"–––Peaceful resolutions are for those who do not wish to fight.

“–––Peaceful resolutions are for those without military might.

“–––Peaceful resolutions are a postwar sight.

“So where do you stand on this issue, Norse gods?”

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“Ask our sponsors.”

“Yes,” said Omokane.

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“Shinto has yet to gain a real manifestation of a purely physical type. That is why we have outsourced most of our fighting and security to the Norse gods, but that means something else here.”

She said it.

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“Raidou-kun, Shifu-kun. No matter how much you two lose here, it will not harm Shinto. Because this is all outsourced. But you are free to fight if that is what you wish to do.”

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“That’s a little confusing, so can you dumb it down a little?”

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“Go nuts.”

Hell, yeah. We’ve got permission.

Kuwajiri grabbed the screen.

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“Balancer? Aren’t you responsible for letting this happen?”

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<It is admittedly a little contrary to the name of Balancer, but I generally take a neutral and indifferent stance toward the gods’ non-terraforming activities. To me, the gods primarily exist for the terraforming, so as long as the are doing their job, the rest can be handled by their politics.>

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“Then did you know those two were coming?”

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<I know of others who came here as well. We do not actively track their actions out of respect for their privacy, but we do record all the “changes” in this world caused by their presence here, their use of transportation, their use of various facilities, their consumption of food, and their breathing. …But information concerning them, actively tracking them, and whether or not they are a threat to all of you is a separate matter. Because we are well-made AIs.>

There were times like this that reminded you this being was neither human nor god.

They could completely detach themselves from the emotions and risks of specific phenomena.

They were subjectively acquiring all forms of information and facts, but they could objectively ignore them. They were focusing only on the parts that were necessary for the Shinto terraforming.

Was that what Kuwajiri and the others mistook for emotions and a personality?

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“Honestly…”

She decided to stop being so pessimistic. She did not want to assume things were bad. Wisdom was a flat thing, so her decisions based on it should be the same.

Balancer’s way of thinking and looking at the world was digital, so it was different from them. But…

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“Does that mean you are not all-knowing when speaking with us?”

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<Thinking of it like that should lead to fewer misunderstandings.>

Then it was not a problem.

Balancer understood this as well as they did. Both sides were working toward that end.

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“Have you appeared to the other side and spoken with them like you do with us?”

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<Yes, it was like that during the virtual manifestation days. I am neutral toward the gods, so I will respond if they seek my help. But…they have not called for me since arriving here.>

What did that mean?

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“Shifu-senpai, Raidou-senpai, there is more to this than meets the eye.”

Kuwajiri saw her upperclassmen’s responses.

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“Yeah, I imagine so. Hence the politics.”

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“It’s time for some physical politics.”

She knew what they meant.

This opponent was powerful. They had the strength needed to get their opinion through.

That meant they did not need to descend to the Shinto group’s level. They only had to use their strength.

There was only one case where they would not do that.

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“When we resist them.”

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“That’s about the size of it.”

Then the rest was simple.

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“It’s time to teach that older pair what politics is all about.”

Just as Raidou prepared to fight, Ki spoke a single word.

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“Press.”

Too soon to even call “immediately”, the bathhouse behind the Norse group was crushed.

This was not a collapse or destruction.

It was crushed as if evenly pressed down on from above.

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“Kyahh!?”

Kuwajiri had been in the entrance, so she ran out while holding Balancer. But the white building grew shorter right behind her.

None of it was broken. The fogged glass windows, the metal window frames, the columns, the walls, and everything else were simply vertically compressed.

There was a sound: a hard straining similar to an empty can being crushed underfoot.

But that was all.

Ki sighed and spoke.

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“You have a pretty overpowered god on your side, so I felt like a warning was in order. I want to make a clear division here so he doesn’t get involved in the duel.”

This is insane, thought Kuwajiri.

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“She really just crushed the building out of the blue!?”

Crushing a building was simple enough for gods of their divine rank, but Ki had not even hesitated.

She had decided doing so would not cause any problems.

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“You really need to stop making assumptions like-”

When Kuwajiri turned around, she saw the bathhouse there.

In its original form.

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Eh?

It was unharmed.

This was weird.

The building behind her had been crushed, so she had frantically escaped from the entrance.

But the white building in front of her now had taken no damage whatsoever.

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“Umm.”

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“Wow.”

She heard a displeased comment from their opponent behind her.

And then it happened.

Someone burst from the boy’s side curtain and struck a Y-pose.

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“♪Absurrrrrd♪”

A moment later, a kilometer-long meteor fell from the heavens and struck 15m in front of her.

The mass that hit weighed approximately 1.4 trillion tons.

The Balancer-created Divine World used its bare minimum of physical laws to blast up the earth’s crust over a radius of about 10km and create a giant crater 2km deep at the center.

It had a diameter of approximately 20km.

The circle from Sunakawa of northern Tachikawa, to Kichiouji in the east, Akigawa in the west, Iruma in the north, and Osawa to the south was utterly destroyed. The shockwave produced by the kilometer-long mass first struck everything over that kilometer. While the shockwave out as a side effect of the hit, air flowed into the vacuum created in the center, producing a storm. Everything was blown away from the landing point, but then it was all sucked upwards, tossing it into the air.

The tremor that ran through the crust shook the ground like a wave. In a 10km radius from there, the surface itself became a “wave” with a height difference of more than a hundred meters.

As a result, the crust, the buildings, and everything else were blown away and folded up.

Everything was literally stacked on top of each other.

In Tokyo Bay, the tremor tossed the seawater in the air all the way down to the shallow sea floor. On the coasts from the Uraga Channel to Yokohama and from Kanagawa to Shizuoka, an immense amount of spray and the ground were thrown into the air.

From Chichibu north of Okutama to Mt. Fuji in the south, the mountain range was shaken so badly it caused landslides and several dozen meters of the Izu Peninsula’s base broke off toward the ocean.

The sound moved well past the audible range, the wind blew towns and the earth into the air, those violent gusts produced even more wind, and bottom to top circulation was created within the crater.

The wind repeatedly sent dirt and dust skyward just like the many waves on the beach.

The structures on the ground were sent more than 20km high and some of them even reached satellite orbit. Whether they were pebbles or buildings, they were all burned by the adiabatic compression, so they poured down like lava rain.

The scattered water – mainly groundwater – was also sent into the sky, where the shockwave hit it and vaporized it.

The water became a heat wave which sent stormy clouds racing along and electrification crackled along the crust’s minerals that were spread through the air along with the dust.

That light that raced freely through the heavens had long been attributed to a god.

Lightning had formed.

Below the wind, rain, clouds, and repeated lightning strikes, Tokyo and southern Kantou’s crust had been destroyed and split to a deep level. With its water gone, Tokyo Boy flowed out through the Uraga Channel and into the ocean trench and the coast leading to Atami accelerated as it began to fall toward the Japan Trench.

All these actions reached Mt. Fuji’s mountain range where the red light of magma was visible through the split parts of the earth. The side effects had already reached all of Japan, the shockwave swept across all of Kantou, and the Aomori region began to split apart despite escaping the power of the crust.

But someone still lived in what had once been Tokyo, Japan, despite all this.

They were the gods.

Most of them were within defense barriers automatically created by their individual divine territories. Others were protected by the barriers of the facilities they happened to be inside and struggled against the continuing explosive blasts.

It was truly cataclysmic.

Every single one of the gods knew exactly who had done this.

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“It was that ill-tempered god, wasn’t it!?”

And everyone heard a single voice.

The voice came from the stormy heavens and it was accompanied by a great beam of light that sounded like trumpets and small bells.

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“♪Absurrrrrd♪”

Then the world returned to normal.

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“Therrrre’s nothing like coffee milk after a bath. I love driiiinking it with a strawwww.”

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“Ah ha ha ha ha ha! You’re the best, Yomoji-chan!”

My wife has nerves of steel to laugh at this, thought Raidou.

They were in front of the bathhouse near the train station in Sunakawa.

They could hear the busy sounds of a pachinko parlor in the distance, so the gods playing some pachinko inside must have noticed the cataclysm and opened the door to see what was going on.

No one had been harmed, but…

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“Kuwajiri, stand back a bit.”

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“Eh? Oh, sorry, I can’t. My legs are a little too weak to move after that.”

He looked to see Kuwajiri sitting with her back against the wall next to the bathhouse’s entrance. She held Balancer in her hands and that screen was weakly bent over for once.

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<Sigh, this is the problem with you gods.>

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“C’mon, I need to get it out of my syyyystem every once in a while.”

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<That took care of a large chunk of the structure materials, so please do it in the real world next time.>

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“Hmmm, sorry about that. Iiiit’s just that all my attaaaacks are map-level AoE.”

Simply put, Yomoji had used that attack to show how much more powerful he was than their opponents.

And by using up his fuel so he could not do it again, he was showing his neutral stance here.

And that meant he was neutral toward his allies as well.

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“Sorry about this.”

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“Wellll, I was mosssstly ready for this.”

After that short exchange, someone burst out of the women’s bath.

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“Hell yeah! The school was destroyed!? I’m a free girl now!”

“Hm?” groaned Ki with a tilt of the head. Her partner was also puzzled.

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“Ki, is that who I think it is?”

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“Yes, it’s the girl we met this morning.”

She had sensed a few presences beside Yomoji inside the bathhouse when she crushed it before.

There had been two presences on the level of household gods and one extremely weak one. So…

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“I thought it was the bathhouse’s guardian deity or something.”

She was not all that familiar with the Shinto rules, but gods of that type were generally stuck in a specific location, or Balancer had had allowed them to move around so they could act as one of the “citizens”.

So she had assumed the girl they met in the morning was a small god playing a “citizen”.

But then why was she in the same bathhouse as the gods preparing to duel them?

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“Could she be a god from a different mythology like us? She could have been coming from a bathhouse on a phase different from Shinto or ours.”

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“I haven’t actually seen her status, but she just has to be Shinto to be wearing the new style uniform of this primarily-Shinto Divine World while at such a low divine rank.”

The normal assumption would be that this was a coincidence.

She was Shinto, so she had been in the same phase barrier bathhouse as the Shinto-related gods. But…

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“There is one other possibility I need to reject.”

She spoke to the Shinto Representative standing with her arms crossed next to the vending machine behind them.

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“I have a question, Omokane.”

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“Do you promise not to be mad?”

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“You’re saying I’m right, aren’t you?”

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“Ki? So she is-…?”

“Yes,” she said.

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“She’s like me. Similar to how I became a woman later on to match you, she must have originally been a guy.”

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“You pulled a fast one on us there.”

Ki looked to the girl making various meaningless poses in front of the bathhouse.

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“Information on the human named Sumeragi Izumi has reached all the different gods, so we would be able to find him immediately if we performed a search. And since we have the authority to detect humans, we wouldn’t even need the search.”

But…

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“You changed his sex, so he would be ‘someone else’. And there was another trick here too, wasn’t there?”

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“What might that be?”

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“The god chosen as her partner is casting a continuous divine protection on her. …We mistook her for a household god because of the divine rank we sensed there, but that was coming from her partner god.”

That was a form of camouflage.

But why had they done that?

Ki’s partner gave the answer.

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“Was it to delay the DC inspectors from reaching Sumeragi Izumi as much as possible?”

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“Yes, it was meant to fool the DC inspectors, but it seems to have worked even better than expected.”

The girl added an “indeed”.

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“We had a convenient rollback opportunity on hand, so I pulled some strings behind the scenes. Without that, this would probably have all been settled this morning.”

The ferrets on Omokane’s shoulders looked up and gave a cry.

That seemed to be truth of the matter.

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“Um, Kuwajiri-chan? So what happened with Sumeragi-chan was all a setup?”

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“Ehh!? This is the first I’ve heard of any of this!”

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“…”

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“I was just sitting there thinking I had accidentally caused all this. ”

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“…”

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“Waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!”

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“Eh!? What!? What’s going on!? Why are you looking at me like some poor, pathetic creature!? Did I miss out on some fun!? Hey! Kuwajiri! Say something!”

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“You need to thank me.”

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“Huh!? What’ve you done that’s worthy of my thanks!? My thanks goes to the earth’s gravity and the ups and downs of the ground that make Senpai’s boobs jiggle, so that means you’re worth less than some ups and downs! Which makes sense since you don’t have any ‘ups and downs’ of your own.”

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“Hey, Sumeragi-chan? Look this way.”

Bilgamesh saw the feminized human fly 70m before excitedly running back.

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“Woohoo! You’re amazing, Shifu-senpai! I can go so much further without a rock ground! Again, again!”

What in the world were they doing?

But someone new appeared from the bathhouse’s women’s bath.

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“H-huh!? I thought something horrifying had happened, but now everything’s fine?”

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“Who is that?”

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“An unidentified goddess with low divine rank. She must be the one.”

The girl wore the new style uniform of the Shinto-related gods, but based on her long back hair and build…

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“Omokane Yatsui, she does not at all look like ‘the most powerful’.”

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“No, I imagine not. And I doubt she will participate in this duel.”

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“Is she not a war god?”

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“No, she is not even close to being that. You have experience with such things, don’t you?”

Bilgamesh raised his eyebrows at that question.

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“If you are trying to blackmail us with some information, then we will make you a target of this duel too.”

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“Oh, my apologies. I have a bad habit of forgetting what I ultimately want and instead going with what is most entertaining. …Good luck. What I ultimately want here is a victory for Shinto.”

Next to him, Ki took a half step back and nodded.

That settled things.

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“I demand a duel!”

These were the rules.

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“Mesopotamian Gods Bilgamesh and Enkidu challenge Norse God Representatives Thor and Jarnsaxa who are temporarily working for Shinto.”

It’s finally happening, thought Raidou with a smile.

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“So you show respect to the opponents you want and try to crush everyone else, huh? That’s a pretty biased form of courtesy…or would you call it justice?”

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“We can discuss those things once the duel is complete. All of this is necessary.”

“Is that so?” he replied before the idiot raised her voice while being healed behind them.

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“Hmmm!? Are those the people I met in Will this morning? It’s Apology Man and the busty girl who was originally a guy like me! Busty Girl, was it a banana for you too!?”

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“Apology Man?”

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“Do not remind me of that shameful memory, Ki!”

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“So what’s this about a banana?”

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“Do not remind me of that shameful memory, Sumeragi!”

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“Is this like an indiscriminate bombing or something?”

It really did feel that way. But they had other things to focus on now.

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“Hey, Sumeragi. You, Senpai, and Kuwajiri need to fall back toward Yomoji.”

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“Yayyy! Hey, screen! Did you hear that!? He didn’t mention you! Ohhhhhh!? Why are you coming this way? You were excluded!”

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<Shut up. I am free to go wherever I like.>

That seemed unnecessarily thorough, but then the idiot asked a question.

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“Anyway, what’s going on here, Raidou-senpai!? Did Shame Man and Busty Girl do something!?”

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“Bil, you were upgraded to Shame Man.”

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“Are you really fine with just being ‘Busty Girl’?”

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“I felt like I lost when my first reaction was ‘well, it’s accurate’.”

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“Yay! I wiiiiiiin! …So what’s going on, Raidou-senpai!?”

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“We’re about to have a duel. That means a battle.”

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“Can’t we head inside the bathhouse and have bath-tle instead?”

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“I’m sorry, Raidou-san and Shifu-san, but I laughed at that one a little.”

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“No! It’s fine! I’m willing to tease anyone if it’ll put a smile on your face! Oh, what’s that look for, Kuwajiri!? I’m in an absolute safe zone here! I’m so cool!! …So, Raidou-senpai!? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Raidou thought for a moment.

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“I told you to fall back, didn’t I?”

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“Oh, right! I’m falling back, I’m falling back! Falling back just enough to have a nice view of Senpai’s butt! Ah! Senpai, don’t move! Please! I beg you! …Thank you so much!”

Are they okay? But then the idiot pointed at Bilgamesh.

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“Shame Man! You should thank me for falling back like this! Because this means I won’t have to use my power on you!”

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“…!? Can humans use some kind of Auth Spell!?”

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“You better believe it! You should thank me for not using my object teleportation spell! If I did use it, I’d teleport the poop in my colon into yours!”

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“Who even thinks of something like that!?”

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“Realistically speaking, that would increase our weight, which would be more of a handicap than you think.”

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“I just noticed, but aren’t we having a hard time standing out against these people?”

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“No, you’re just imagining it. Yes, just imagining it. Completely imagining it. Definitely had to say that thrice.”

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“To be honest, I don’t think I could bear it if you went insane too, Raidou-senpai.”

“Well, I guess it’s all about having a nice balance,” said Raidou.

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“A duel, huh? What kind of barrier are you thinking?”

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“A diameter of 10km should be enough.”

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“Injuries will be virtual and you’re out of the fight once it’s deemed you can’t move anymore. Does that sound good?”

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“Ohh, you’re being surprisingly rational about this.”

Shifu was right. Those two were not trying to hurt them.

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“So it’s politics, is it?”

I tilted my head.

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“What’s that about a barrier?”

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<Battles between the gods can get crazy and an injury taken in battle could mean losing an authority, which could greatly affect the overall power balance. So a barrier is set up around the combat space and a few different divine protections are cast on it to protect the location and the combatants.>

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“The DC decided on all this and created a system of rules. Generally, combat barriers will virtualize the location and the combatants so that any damage done to the location or injury done to each other will have no lasting effects beyond a negative influence on the phase.”

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“So it’s like a game?”

“You could say that,” agreed Kuwajiri.

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“Both sides will supply an amount of ether scaled to their divine rank to create the barrier.”

Meanwhile, Raidou-senpai and the others waved their hands.

Bluish-white balls appeared below their palms, burst, and disappeared.

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“Ohh…”

Something spread out. Or it seemed to. And when I looked back, I saw waves of light the same color as the balls racing out into the distance. Also…

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<It is beginning.>

Just as Balancer said that, it started.

This was a battle of the gods.

Interlude[edit]

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“Coulllldn't we do it as a piiiing pong gaaaame?”

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<You wouldn't need to be gods to do that.>


Chapter 23: Gauntlet[edit]

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Isn't this more the 80s?


It began suddenly.

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“White Sword.”

With those words, the ground and all the structures were destroyed for about 200m in front of Bilgamesh.

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“I’m deeeeeeead!?”

I screamed while taking a direct hit from the sword. I mean, this had to be trouble. He actually pronounced the ‘w’! Who pronounces a ‘w’ after an ‘s’!?

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“What about in ‘Sweden’? Stop being dumb, idiot.”

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“Huh!? Kuwajiri!? You’re dead!? That’s what you get! You’re dead like me!”

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“No, no, no, no! None of us are dead, Sumeragi-kun!”

Now that she mentioned it, we weren’t. The city had been destroyed, but we were fine.

We were in the valley created by the sword attack on the city.

It had been one hell of an attack, so the spot where the bathhouse had been, as well as the houses and factories behind it, had become a valley. Yet we were just fine.

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“Senpai, you protected me, didn’t you!? By sheltering me below your boobs umbrella! In America, they’d call that being ‘under the Big Apple’!”

I dove into an upside-down, straightened-body prostration at her feet to praise her boobs from below.

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“Thank you so much!”

Kuwajiri kicked me in the side.

I rolled a bit and then hopped to my feet.

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“Y-you really went for the toe kick, didn’t you!? That hurt, you moron!”

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“Senpai-san, I’m sorry and I know she is your responsibility, but she’s really pissing me off.”

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“Um, Kuwajiri-san? You can just tell me and I will warn Sumeragi-kun, so let’s not resort to violence right away, okay? Try talking to me first.”

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<Then can you warn that ape that she brings me constant displeasure?>

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“Sumeragi-kun, don’t do too many things that make Balancer mad, okay?”

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“Okay! I swear on my life I won’t!”

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<Could you swear on the life of someone who hasn’t died a dozen times already!?>

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“This is like the stereotypical version of an overprotective person, isn’t it?”

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“So what!? Are you jealous!? Uhohoi! Uhohoi! Okay, Balancer! I get that I’m alive because Senpai’s boobs protected me, but why isn’t Kuwajiri dead?”

Kuwajiri narrowed her eyes far more than necessary, but I ignored it.

Meanwhile, Balancer looked around us.

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<It was a barrier.>

All around us, some kind of weird light rose from below the destroyed city.

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“Is this an RPG’s healing effect?”

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<The destroyed city’s phase-shift is being returned to normal.>

Kuwajiri thought Balancer’s explanation was too stiff.

There was a simpler way of saying it.

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“This is making it so the damage to the city ‘never happened’.”

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“Wait, wait, wait. But it really was damaged.”

“Oh?” she said with a tilt of her head and gestured around her.

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“Was it?”

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“I mean, yeah, it was.”

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“Where are we standing right now?”

Even the idiot had a change of expression when asked that.

They had been standing at the bottom of the valley created by Bilgamesh’s attack, but now they were standing on the untouched road in front of the bathhouse.

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“The ground below our feet and our altitude have both changed.”

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“What in the world?”

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“Um, it was replaced.”

Senpai-san gave an example.

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“1+1 is 2, right?”

Oh, you’re explaining it that way, thought Kuwajiri. That’s surprisingly digital. Meanwhile, the idiot tilted her head.

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“Yes! 1+1 is 2! There are other, weirder ways of saying it, but let’s go with that for now!”

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“Okay, then this is the same as that. The undestroyed city and the destroyed city are made from the same amount of ether, so they are equivalent values. They are only different representations, so we are simply taking the 2 and reverting it to 1+1. So while it looks like the ground and our altitude have changed, the truth is that ‘nothing has changed from the beginning’.”

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“Hmmm?”

When Sumeragi tilted her head and entire body, Yomoji shrugged.

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“Shoulllld I call the Buuuuddhists? To explain that form is emptiness and emptiness is form and allll that?”

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“Oh! That shows up in Genpei Touma Den! I remember looking it up!”

Kuwajiri had no idea what that was about, but…

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“So it goes back to normal on its own when its destroyed and it does what we want?”

Senpai-san applauded and the idiot danced a jig.

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<Why did she understand such a convoluted explanation?>

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“Yours was too straightforward.”

There were other barrier rules to explain why they were unharmed, but she decided that did not matter right now.

That human was not going to get involved in a battle between gods after all.

“But,” said the idiot.

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“Where are Raidou-senpai and the others?”

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“There around here.”

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“Huh?”

Was that not enough for him? No, of course it was not.

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“At their divine rank, they move too fast to see with the naked eye. Balancer.”

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<I will display relayed footage with a built-in delay conversion.>

Balancer opened a Revelation Board. And…

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“I can hear them.”

Yes.

A distant, thunder-like rumbling was coming from the south.

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“Raidou-senpai is exchanging physical blows because he needs to get himself worked up.”

The location could be seen in the background of the Revelation Board footage.

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<The Tama River’s riverside. They’ve already moved 3km?>

This wind is nice, thought Raidou.

They were already moving around faster than the speed of sound, but they were not causing any damage to their surroundings.

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“Gotta love these barriers!”

These barriers were like a specially-modified phase space.

Generally, they were allowed to borrow a portion of the territory rights in the Divine World created by Balancer and also receive permission from or even use the local gods or spirits that Balancer had created or moved here.

Destruction was one form of expression and their actions were also included as one form of expression for the land.

No matter how fast they moved or how many buildings they leaped over in a single bound, it would count the same as the flowing river water or the summer grass and flowers blowing in the wind.

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“Kuwajiri-chan explains this using a picture, doesn’t she?”

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“Yeah. That scribbles and an immaculate painting are only different forms of expression.”

That was a surprising way of looking at it for her.

She was probably giving that same explanation to Sumeragi right now while watching the footage of the battle.

But…

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“They’re pretty wild! Maybe cause they’re not connected to Shinto!”

Bilgamesh and Enkidu were giving chase.

They had just passed Tachikawa on the south and reached the Tama River alongside the monorail track.

The Tama River was large.

It was not actually all that wide, but it connected to western Tokyo’s rivers and waterways. The water level was quick to rise during the summer rains, so the riverbank was kept at least 200m wide.

They were running along that. In fact, they were still accelerating.

They were moving their legs the same as normal running, but each step took them well over 50m.

They were moving west alongside the river like that and accelerating upstream.

They approached an elevated train track.

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“Shifu!”

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“Got it!”

That track was the Chuo Main Line cutting across the Tama River.

The bridge was 30m tall and they took a running start along the playground in front of it before leaping.

It was like jumping over a fence.

Their bodies felt light.

They cleared the metal bridge and spun around in midair to dodge their opponents’ attacks.

Raidou was looking forward to the coming battle in the urban area. He was not worked up enough for it yet.

But the other side was already ready to go.

Those two had already made an attempt while they were heading south. A monorail track cutting north-south through Tachikawa was under construction and only the support pillars existed at the moment, but when Shifu had tried running to the Tama River along that…

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“Man, I did not expect you to slice right through that support pillar!”

Bilgamesh’s weapon had done that.

But he was not the only one attacking.

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“Fireball.”

With that word, a fireball raced after them.

And it was not alone. Enkidu spread her arms like wings and hundreds of fireballs raced out. Some shot straight toward the two Norse gods, others circled around toward them, and yet others rose into the sky and dropped back down after a time delay.

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“They’re not making this easy!”

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“But why are all their attack names in English?”

The fireballs started arriving just as they landed.

Raidou and Shifu dodged the speeding fire. He kicked up at a few of the ones targeting her to send them spiraling away into the sky.

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“Because it’s Shinto and the 90s. Names are important in Shinto and we’re not exactly major gods in Japan, so we converted our names into the Shinto format…or Japanese format, really. They’ve probably done the same thing with their weapons.”

But…

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“Weapons aside, they’re about as major as you can get. These are some really old names.”

Shifu nodded as she spun around and kicked up some of the fireballs coming his way.

And after turning that kick into a step…

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“Tooru.”

“Yeah,” he replied as they accelerated.

Raidou and Shifu spun around and dodged the barrage of fireballs flying after them.

They ran.

Speed was their ally. In the high-speed battles of the gods, the physical laws were badly distorted.

Besides, explosions and shockwaves could not keep up with the speed of the gods.

So why had Enkidu used an attack as slow as fireballs?

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Because they’ll still “hit”!

Yes. They would not normally hit. In fact, breaking the sound barrier would normally snuff out any fire.

But those attacks and questions worked differently when a god’s authority was involved. These looked like balls of fire, but they were actually a special attack meant for use against him and Shifu.

So speed came first and foremost. Figuring out how to dodge them could wait. And to a war god, this all came naturally, so as the fireballs rained down like an aerial bombing…

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“What a pain.”

Shifu seemed to be dancing as she ducked below the sparks of the bursting fireballs.

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“Ha ha.”

Her golden hair whirled around and she pulled it in and swung it around so it would not touch any of the fire. Raidou drew them in and forcibly shook them with pure speed, but she ran as if playing with them.

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“Tooru.”

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“Yeah?”

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“This is fun.”

“Yeah,” he agreed when he saw her smile illuminated in the fire.

He was a war god and she was his wife. This was clearly no more than part of a festival for Norse gods who found honor in battle. So he lined up alongside his wife as she danced in the firelight.

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“They should be coming soon.”

They broke free of the barrage. He used some extra acceleration to shake the final shot that came from directly above and he tugged on Shifu’s hand to match their speeds.

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“I guess that slowed us down some!”

Their two opponents were running through the shimmering heat and red light of the fires lit by the fireballs landing behind them.

By godly standards, they were close enough to make an attack.

The riverside playground came to an end in front of Raidou and Shifu.

Now it was just the river.

A curve in the flowing water was directly in front of them.

The river came right up to the embankment on their right.

If they continued like this, the snaking river would be straight ahead with only the much-narrower riverbank and embankment to their right.

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“That narrow riverbank is gonna make it hard to dodge!”

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“But moving to the road will give them a line of fire and they’re sure to get carried away!”

That was true. The poor footing of the rocky riverbank had worked to their advantage, so…

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“Shifu!”

He only had to call her name while leaping forward and left.

He accelerated and jumped diagonally across the river.

Shifu followed without any assistance.

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“Whoa.”

But their jumps had a very shallow angle, so they could not make it across in a single bound.

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“Trying to turn this into an underwater battle!?”

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“We might be Vikings, but we’re not that crazy!”

There was something to stand on.

The riverbed was not made of stone or sand in this region. The hard soil was exposed. Only the bare minimum of maintenance was done for the sake of excavating fossils and because Akishima, the city in charge of this area, chose to preserve the natural terrain. So…

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That makes the phase easy to manage!

Dirt and rock grew up from the river. That outcropping, which had originally been a geological stratum, caught their feet and was not slippery despite the water.

The terrain was on their side.

So…

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“––––––”

After stepping twice to keep his trajectory straight, he took Shifu’s hand in midair to escort her.

And they crossed from there to the opposite bank.

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“They’ve caught up, but it’s about time for our trick!”

Ki breathed a sigh at managing to catch up to their opponents.

Both sides could manage a stride with steps of well over 50m. Norse Mythology was from two generations later, but that meant their abilities were more refined. And…

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“The footing here is really bad!”

In this Divine World, the local gods provided them with little support even with the barrier contract active. As proof, the crust of the riverside shot up like pillars of water.

They were in the riverside playground.

Oh, the soil here is a different color from my skin. This is black soil. I bet it’s good for growing things.

But they kicked off those pillars to keep going.

Their opponents had crossed to the opposite bank and had only been exposed to some clouds of dust. However…

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“We need to jump over the river soon too!”

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“Jet Boots!”

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“That’s your answer!?”

Bilgamesh shouted like diligence itself and light erupted from the outer edges of his feet.

This was not just an Auth Spell.

For a brief moment, gold wings were clearly visible. And…

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“Ki!”

He took her hand.

You’re as forceful as ever, she thought as they instantly soared along a shallow course across the river.

They were catching up even more.

Back at Sunakawa, everyone was watching the footage of the battle on the Revelation Board. They could see the local gods arranged by Balancer assisting the gods moving up along the Tama River. But…

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“Bikkuri Donkey smells really strongly of meat on the inside, doesn’t it!?”

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“Yeah, it’s incredible! They really are pushing for a win in the battle for low cost and large portions! Oh, but it’s really cute how the menu is shaped like a Western partition, isn’t it? Wait, isn’t this my first time eating out with Senpai!? What are the rest of you doing here!?”

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<The ape suggests we watch the battle in a family restaurant and this is where it gets us?>

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“Kuwajiri-san, are you okay?”

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“I feel really bad doing this to those upperclassmen…but it would be weird to just stand outside watching it.”

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“Eatinnnng is part of ourrrr job.”

After hearing that, Kuwajiri said something else while viewing the menu that was standing up like a partition.

She had adjusted the brightness of her Revelation Board to make the night battle easier to see in the restaurant’s lights.

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“They’re headed west, aren’t they? …Things look good. It would be best if they could drag this out to right up against the edge of the barrier west of Fussa.”

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“Hm? They aren’t just running away to wear out their opponents?”

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“They wouldn’t do that. The strongest of the Norse gods are setting things up to show off what they can do.”

Ki had a thought after she crossed the river, fired a few Auth Spells, and saw the enemy run away.

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How far do they plan on running?

Their opponents were not even trying to fight.

If they wanted to, they could easily get in a hit.

But even when she fired that barrage of fireballs, they only dodged them and moved further away.

They were picking up speed.

She and Ki needed to defeat those two for their “politics” to work out well. That was why they continued this pursuit, but…

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“Bil! Could we just negotiate with Omokane instead of bothering with these two?”

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“Omokane is not on our side either. …That is why she told us to go defeat them.”

Also…

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“This barrier will not last forever. If we cannot defeat them in time, our reputation and our influence will suffer.”

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“So it’s an away game, is it?”

They did not want to lose, but neither did their opponents.

Their opponents could maintain their influence as long as they survived this. In fact, they could reduce Ki and her partner’s influence just by not being defeated. So…

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“Do you think they’ll just keep running away the entire time?”

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“Do you think Norse Mythology’s strongest war god would do that?”

“It’s hard to say,” she responded, but she agreed it was unlikely.

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“I don’t think they’re really running away.”

It felt more like those two were guiding them to some kind of good location. So…

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“Let’s assume the location will work to their advantage. From there…”

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“They are in range!”

Her partner moved forward, opened a Revelation Board, and activated an Auth Spell.

Their footing was undeniably poor, so…

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“I will provide my own buffering instead of receiving support from this Divine World!”

He stepped on the ground.

A buffering spell shattered between his foot and the ground, but the rocks no longer hopped up underfoot. The same spell appeared on his elbows, shoulders, knees, and more.

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“Full-body buffering at current max setting!”

And he uttered a single term.

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“Jet Boots.”

He rocketed forward.

Shifu heard a deafening roar.

Tooru was the power type, but if anything, he used bursts of speed for his power. But this opponent caught up to them in just three steps.

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A buffering spell…and an artifact!?

She had seen Bilgamesh using those before too. His attacks, movements, and other actions were strengthened. She had initially thought they were Auth Spells, but they were not.

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“Tooru! Their Auth Spells are used to summon those things!”

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“That’s right. Bil and I are half-god and half-human, so we only have such high divine ranks because we strengthened ourselves with equipment and Auth Spells like this.”

A metallic sound rang out.

Bilgamesh had defended against Tooru’s strike. And…

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“Gauntlet.”

It was indeed a gauntlet.

It was iron colored. It had a simple design with only some white paint in the center.

But the weapon was far from normal. This applied only to the shield portion and not the gauntlet as a whole, but…

“It’s over 5m tall? What kind of gauntlet is that!?”

This was much taller than a tower shield. The giant gauntlet was swung around based on the coordinates of Bilgamesh’s right arm, but it provided autonomous defense.

The wall-like shield portion had stopped Tooru’s strike and deflected it upwards with the auditory version of a dull pain.

But that was not all. The gauntlet was swung around while not actually attached to Bilgamesh’s arm, but it synched with the way he raised his arm.

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“…!”

Oh, no, thought the Norse gods as they accelerated apart.

There was a good spot for them.

It was a bridge.

They had traveled far enough up the Tama River that they had left Tachikawa and arrived in Akishima.

Up ahead, they could see the Tama Ohashi bridge that connected Akishima and Hachioji.

It was an old bridge with only two lanes. It was about 20m tall, but the entire bridge was more than 400m long.

The Tama River cut back to this side below it.

That meant they were approaching another break in the riverbank and the river cut across head of them.

If they went up, the bridge would get in the way.

If they went down, the river would get in the way.

So what were they supposed to do?

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“Okay, let’s do this!”

She went down.

Raidou chose to go up.

The river was flowing below the bridge and the footing was poor.

Going up meant running into the Tama Ohashi bridge, but…

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“The bridge will provide cover from that gauntlet!”

He twisted around to make sure he could counterattack while he leaped over the Tama Ohashi bridge.

Or he meant to.

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“…!?”

When he looked back in midair, he saw an iron-colored wall.

It was Bilgamesh’s gauntlet.

But its size was even more abnormal now. It had been about 5m tall before, but…

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“That thing’s over 50m!”

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“Because it is sizing down to match me. …It would normally pierce the heavens.”

He raised the gauntlet and made a strike that eliminated Raidou’s cover.

The iron strike broke through the bridge and flew toward him. Also…

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“I suppose I will go for a jab.”

In addition to the shield portion, the metal forearm portion was launched in a diagonal strike.

An attack more than 200m in length smashed through the bridge and toward Raidou in the air.

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“Ohh!”

It scored a direct hit.

Interlude[edit]

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“I actually kind of want that gauntlet.”

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“That's probably a bad idea since you already have your own gauntlet.”


Chapter 24: Flintstones[edit]

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I will preserve history

This effect will not be preserved


Inside the Sunakawa Bikkuri Donkey, Kuwajiri thought to herself while viewing the wooden plate brought to her.

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The wooden plates are definitely a plus.

The 300g hamburger steak inside had a generous amount of melted cheese on top and it came with a salad and some rice. The only slight disappointment was the hamburger steak itself.

With a normal steak, she could eat it with just a knife and her hand or a spoon, but this was a hamburger steak restaurant so that was what they had.

But could she start eating yet? Hers had come first because she had ordered a simple one, but the battle was being relayed via Revelation Board.

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“I would really prefer to focus on the battle since that’s our friends fighting.”

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“Woulllld focusing on thaaaat help them wiiiin?”

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<A good point. Everyone has their own way of showing respect, but I think it would be wrong to watch instead eating.>

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“That’s right, Kuwajiri! I’m showing my respect by ordering a merry-go-round parfait for dessert and a full-sugar cola to drink!”

How is she still alive? she wondered with a chill in her heart, but she decided it was best not to think about it. But then Senpai-san asked something after having been focused on the Revelation Board.

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“Um, a giant gauntlet just appeared. What is with that and that White Whatever from earlier?”

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“In Mesopotamian Mythology, Bilgamesh and Enkidu forged their own equipment. That included an axe, a sword, and a dagger, so it had to have been pretty heavy. So I think they can make things grow bigger to represent that weight. They’re taking it a little far, but the fact that they make the things themselves is a trait often seen in ancient mythologies since that was before things were split out between different jobs. I imagine they must have done some R&D on this stuff for themselves.”

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“Aren’t the colors a little dull to be the Tower of Druaga? They’ve all looked real metallic.”

Now that you mention it, thought Kuwajiri.

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“Babylon, which inherited Mesopotamian Mythology, was a bronze age culture, so gold was highly valued. So, of the equipment I mentioned before, only the dagger was made of gold. The equipment that looks like gold might actually be bronze.”

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“Hm? Isn’t bronze green? It’s always green when they find it in ruins and stuff.”

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<That is bronze rust. The rust is hard, which allows the tools to maintain their shape until they are unearthed, but they were originally a bright yellow metal like brass.>

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“For real!? You’ve been lying to me all this time!?”

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“I have seen Raidou-senpai playing that Tower of Whatever, but since it has equipment with ‘gold’ in the name, it must mean that the gold color you normally see isn’t actually gold gold.”

But…

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“Bronze Age Babylon was destroyed by the Hittites who used iron tools. Those two have learned from that and created equipment of steel and later metals.”

This sounds like trouble, she thought.

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“They are not underestimating what came after them. And I thought the gods of ancient mythologies were supposed to be prideful.”

The bridge that had been acting as a ceiling had been crudely destroyed.

Shifu saw a physical blow in front of her.

A metal arm measuring more than 200m long had thrown a punch with divine speed.

The bridge was consumed.

The punch was so fast that the midair pathway of metal and asphalt did not even bend.

The portion that was punched shifted in the other direction like it had been sliced with a cutting machine the width of the fist.

The pressure to the metal of the bridge actually melted it before creating sparks, so scorching pellets scattered from it. But by the time they were in the air, the fist had already punched through the bridge.

One portion of the bridge flew westward like a game of Daruma Otoshi.

However, that was only a midpoint along the punch.

The giant metal arm was aimed at something else.

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“Tooru!”

He was in midair as the metal fist flew diagonally toward him. It was definitely on a collision course, but…

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“Really, I wish you’d look my way.”

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“Oh, my bad!”

Shifu was crossing the river in order to pursue Tooru and the punched portion of the bridge.

She was using the rocks sticking out of the water as footing.

She raced along those stepping stones and flung herself toward the playground on the opposite bank.

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“Flying Disc.”

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“You know that just means frisbee, right!?”

She looked back to see an unsmiling smile on Enkidu’s face and something flying her way. It was a disk with a diameter of about a meter. She could tell at a glance that it was a projectile with razor edges.

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“I can use about a hundred of these if I keep going.”

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“Wow, that is wonderfully inexact!”

What was she supposed to say when she was the target?

Sparks flew.

First in the sky.

Bilgamesh felt the blow land. He too made a leap and continued swinging the 200m gauntlet, but…

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“Something is resisting it!”

An unstoppable attack struck back at the great power of the metal, motors, and launch acceleration.

A sound of impact followed.

The resisting force was clearly a blow to the gauntlet.

Bilgamesh knew what had happened.

The giant metal arm’s attack had been knocked back the other way by a counterattack.

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“The war god!”

This was Thor’s attack.

Someone was upside down and flying through the sky up ahead.

The lengthened sleeves of his summer uniform flapped behind him as he rotated through the air and raised something at the ready: his right arm.

That arm was covered by the color black. The fist at the end glowed red with heat and white smoke rose from it.

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“What is that?”

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“It’s called Jarngreipr and it’s an exterior power arm made for me. A super thin one. Your gauntlet has more mass, but I can give you a run for your money when it comes to pure power. Since we’re a later mythology.”

It was true the struck portion of the gauntlet’s fist had been crushed.

The pressure of the blow must have been powerful indeed. A portion had melted and the base metal was visible. He could only think of one word to describe it.

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“Impressive!”

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“Thanks.”

He did not feel his response warranted thanks, so…

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“Gauntlet.”

He launched it. And…

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“I will not hold back, so this time I will launch both arms.”

He sent his dual attacks into the air. Two heaven-striking attacks were summoned. Plus…

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“Prepare for a double punch at the 500m size!”

They struck.

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“Don’t push yourself so hard!”

That was her first thought about her partner.

They had forged all of Bilgamesh’s equipment.

They had done so back when they were receiving the blessing of the gods, so they were all basically cheating. In all honesty, they would not be able to make something like that again now. That was how high level they were.

Their Auth Spells were the same. They had made them based on what the gods taught them, so while the effects were simple, the power and efficiency were quite good. There were flaws, but…

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“We can defend against those ourselves!”

Sparks erupted across the entire space in front of her.

They were in between her and Shifu who was leaping to the other bank. The razor disks she had fired there had collided with something.

She had not seen anything, but the triple digit number of Flying Discs were deflected and scattered before reaching Shifu.

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What was that?

It was not a wall. She noticed there was no consistency to the way the razors were deflected.

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“A fence!?”

That was it.

An invisible but extremely solid fence had appeared there.

Wondering what it could be, she launched more razor disks in front of her to check. She launched a countless number of them.

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Show me the answer!

It had to be something invisible or nearly so.

She guessed Shifu had dropped a lot of something there.

The girl had scattered some kind of obstacle in the air and it had to be something powerful because…

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“They can deflect my discs!”

When they hit, sparks scattered before her eyes. A lot of sparks.

Metallic sounds erupted out and chained together while sparks burst up to illuminate them. Meanwhile, she continued her pursuit of Shifu. She followed the path created by the discs she threw out ahead of her.

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“Is this it?”

Something touched her cheek.

Just as she realized it was a blade, her skin had been cut.

It was a slicing cut and it had to be quite sharp since the cut was still not bleeding, but…

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“This is just a whole bunch of blades, isn’t it!?”

She shuddered when she realized what would have happened if she had simply jumped on ahead. What had scattered the razor discs was meant to have intercepted her instead.

And she realized the blade that cut her cheek suddenly grew soft and wrapped around her finger.

This was not a metal blade. It was…

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“Is this hair, Shifu Saku!?”

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“Bingo.”

After landing in the riverside playground, Shifu listened to her partner’s physical blows in the sky and looked back while running.

Enkidu was attacking from behind.

Ether light was already scattering on the river below the bridge behind her. The razor discs made by an Auth Spell were returning to their original ether form.

And something else was thinly scattering ether in a similar way. It was…

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“Gullhaddr. It’s my hair.”

Meanwhile, Enkidu also landed in the playground.

She was approaching fast.

That opponent looked her way and raised her hand while running. She was activating her Auth Spell.

But Shifu spoke up before Enkidu, aka En Kidou, could take her turn.

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“Could you say my name again?”

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“Shifu Saku!”

She said it.

This is amusing, thought Shifu.

She was from Norse Mythology, but this was Shinto territory. Shinto was really lax in its rules, so…

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Pretty much anything goes as long as it isn’t impure.

Any mythology or religion was acceptable as long as it was not impure.

That was fairly unthinkable in Europe.

She liked that about it and had chosen a name other than her true name that fit the location. Even though she had initially decided to keep living like a Norse god while here.

But there was one thing that had pushed her to do it. It was more of a human rule than a Shinto thing, but…

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You get a family name!

There were clans and families and whatnot in their mythology, but he was just Thor and she was just Sif. She also had a bit of Jarnsaxa in there too.

But they were on their own. They were not alone, but they were on their own. They were individuals.

So she had been interested in how humanity represented what group they belonged to.

I mean, family names are incredible. Just a short little name is all you need to take something that could have existed on its own and as an individual and instead bind it as a member of a specific group.

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That normally wouldn’t be possible.

But while she had felt some opposition to the idea, she had also been curious.

Would she feel any different if she had a family name?

And this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

So she had decided to do so.

And human society had another tradition.

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“The wife takes the husband’s family name.”

So who was her husband?

Tooru.

He was a war god and a thunder god, so he had taken the family name of Raidou.

So she had thought about trying that out herself.

She would have been Raidou Shifu.

And…

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It felt completely wrong!

I mean, I’m not a thunder god.

I’m a god just like Tooru, but I’m not the same god as him.

So if I took the name Raidou, people could only laugh and call it a lie.

I know the point is to have the same family name with separate individual names, but it feels so wrong in this weirdly ticklish way.

Yeah, I know what it is I wanted.

I wanted something more like when a couple gets matching tattoos! It’s not about one being above the other; it’s a symbol of them being together and becoming a unit that they’ll support together.

It’s a form of promise.

But when they were coming up with names to match this Divine World…

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“If you want us to have matching names, how about you come up with a family name and I’ll take that. You do have a double divinity.”

Tooru was super casual about it.

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“But which of my names should I use for the given name and the family name?”

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“Sif’s your main one, right? Then why not use Jarnsaxa for the family name?”

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“Wait, wait, wait. But Sif is the main one like you said. Jarnsaxa is an addition. She’s the mistress.”

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“Oh, I think I get it. When you have two names due to a double divinity, the original name is the main one so you want it as the family name?”

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“That’s it, yeah. So can you think of any other words that fit your image of me?”

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“Blonde?”

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“Not ‘busty blonde’?”

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“You’d need to praise me a lot more if I went all out with that.”

They came up with too many ideas to fit them all in, but she was personally satisfied with that. And after coming up with a family name for herself, she started going by Shifu Saku.

When she asked Balancer about it…

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<There are a number of rules in this era, so you could treat it as a foreign name and include all three to be Raidou Shifu Saku.>

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“That’s too much.”

But it still feels like an option. A really good option, honestly!

And since everyone uses my family name all the time, I can be kind of forgetful of the given name part. But…

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“Shifu Saku!”

It’s weird. When people use that name and I imagine a Raidou in front of it, it has an incredible power to it. It reminds me how amusing this era is and how good an idea that name sounds, but it also makes me wonder just how madly in love with Tooru I am. But regardless…

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“I love it.”

Shifu got to work intercepting.

She matched Enkidu’s speed and drew her hair before pulling her hands back to either side.

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“Flutter, Gullhaddr!”

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“Protection.”

Ki raised her voice and created an ether shield just before a gold blade reached her.

While running alongside her, Shifu moved her hands to swing her hair which transformed into a blade.

It was a single-edged sword measuring more than 5m long. It was thin, but…

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“…!”

It sliced right through the ether Protection that was modeled after Bilgamesh’s armor.

Ki knew what this was.

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“ ‘Golden’ hair, right!?”

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“So what, do busty blonde’s have powerful hair or something?”

The idiot asked that when Senpai-san’s order arrived before hers did. This was the same as when Shifu had scattered her hair to block the razor discs.

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“You can’t really say that Shifu-senpai’s hair belongs to her.”

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“What do you mean?”

Kuwajiri was unsure if she should answer that, but it was written down in the myths, so she went ahead.

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“A long time ago, an idiot cut her hair off as a prank. Raidou-senpai was prepared to chase the culprit to the ends of the earth and a lot went down there, but Shifu-senpai received manifestation-level ‘hair’ from some dwarf craftsmen.”

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“So a hair transplant?”

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“No. If I had to describe it, I would call it a powerup.”

They were not like humans. “Listen,” she began.

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“She was able to accept it as a part of her body. In other words, the mold of her hair was still powerful even after the hair was cut away. That was because her hair is her most representative mold. And since the craftsmen gave it their all, she was powered up to a manifestation level as the war god’s wife.”

Kuwajiri saw Senpai-san looking overwhelmed by the appearance of the 150g hamburger steak in front of her.

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“Um, after all that crazy talk this morning, I was real excited about this, but now that I’ve calmed down, you can get this kind of thing at most any family restaurant, can’t you?”

Perhaps it was only the gods from the Norse meat culture that thought this barely looked like any meat at all.

But anyway, the battle was still ongoing and there was something she had to say.

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“There are a lot of different minerals and alloys in the world and they can be made to ‘exist’ in this Divine World as well. And Shinto has developed a version of the ones known as Orei Metallo under the name Hihiirokane.”

The Norse had something like that too.

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“Perhaps you could call it Gudgull, or gold of the gods. It’s an extremely simple thing, really. In Norse Mythology, gold is a symbol of extremes such as wealth and decay or success and ruin, which makes it strongly influenced by curses and wishes. So if a righteous person uses it in a righteous way, the value and glitter of gold acts as their power.”

Ki caught on to the trick.

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The special trait of being the gold of the gods remains, but she can freely alter how solid it is.

Gold was a very extendible metal. A single gram could be extended to 3000m as a thin thread. Ki did not know how dense Shifu’s hair was, but she was swinging it around as a thin, 5m blade right now.

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“It’ll slice you up.”

The attack was as fast as whipping hair.

It leaped more than it ran.

It danced more than it slashed.

When she pulled the blade back with both hands, it bent like a whip and the tip swung around faster than the rest.

The blade soared, but it did not follow a single path. It swayed and twisted and it was sometimes pulled around.

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It’s getting longer!

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“I’m actually a harvest god, you see. Tooru is an agricultural god too, but he almost entirely ignores that side, so, well, I can do stuff like this.”

Ki realized she was surrounded by the color gold.

The path taken by the flying and dancing blade remained as light and drew out an imaginary image.

It was a fertile field.

A land full of golden wheat spread out as far as the eye could see.

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“Wait, is this what I think it is?”

This was supposed to be a riverside playground. They had been running through there while exchanging attacks.

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“You can tell? The path of the blade and the wind it produces has gained a ‘phase’. Since my hair is synonymous with wheat.”

Ki knew what she had done. This was one special trait of the gods.

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“You’ve established your divine territory, haven’t you!?”

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“Welcome to the away game.”

That made this a home game for her. The gold of harvest ruled this place.

And Ki knew something about a god’s authority.

Any one representation of it was also the other representations.

So if her hair was a blade and wheat, then the opposite was also true.

Every last head of wheat in this fertile field could become a blade. And…

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“You can extend your blades by several thousand meters!?”

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“Gull-Elding. This attack is basically named ‘Shifu and Raidou’.”

With those words, the attack arrived.

The wheat directly below – no, all around – was the enemy here.

All of the wheat became blades that stabbed into the sky like backwards lightning.

Raidou was fighting a defensive battle in midair.

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“Do you ever stop attacking!?”

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“If you wish to counterattack, then do so!”

Bilgamesh threw his high-speed punches pretty much as he pleased.

Not only were they powerful, but he had a mechanical punching apparatus set up. And by swinging that apparatus around with a perfect grasp of its timing, he could up the rapid-fire speed without relying on the machine.

He was pretty good at this.

Raidou was focused on defense by using his right arm’s Jarngreipr as a shield.

Either he was lucky or they were a good match because he was small and light compared to his opponent’s punches.

He did take damage when hit, but the impact fully left him and his body was simply sent flying.

He had considered using that to make a jump and put some distance between them, but…

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He doesn’t let up!

Bilgamesh kept punching again and again, so Raidou had to keep taking the hits over and over in midair.

He had no opening to let himself be thrown a decent distance away.

At this rate, he could be taken to the edge of the barrier, but…

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“Aren’t you a little too tough?”

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“I am the man worthy of divine equipment! Did you really think I would get tired?”

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“Well, you can talk the talk.”

Raidou laughed while using small punches and elbow blows to fend off the left and right punches with just his right arm.

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“I think you’ll get bored with doing the same thing over and over! And…”

Something arrived from below.

He could see a wheat field spread out as far as the eye could see on the dark surface.

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“Tooru!”

Gold blades drew countless rectangles as they jabbed up into the sky.

They attacked the reverse side.

The inside of the gauntlets had thinner armor than the outer shield portion and they were full of openings where the movable parts connected together.

The hundreds of golden blades rose from below to strike and pierce them there.

They were essentially skewered, but…

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“Your blade is not thick enough, later god!”

The numbers were insufficient to split the 500m arms.

Bilgamesh did not let the hits slow him down. He raised the gauntlets and shattered all the golden blades at once. Golden ether light scattered through the air.

But that was enough.

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“Bought you some time!”

Shifu was right.

The thunder god had descended to the fertile field that remained on the ground below.

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“Great job, Shifu! That was the time I needed to get knocked away from him!”

Raidou raised his arms in front of him and raised his voice.

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“It’s a little early, but let’s do it here!”

Raidou prepared to fight Bilgamesh who was descending from the sky with two giant arms at the ready.

But he realized something while he looked up at Bilgamesh.

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“The fertile field…”

A change had come over the perfect gold of the wheat field spread out around him.

It was a color.

The gold faded away from the fertile field covering the land.

This was the divine territory Shifu had established earlier. If she wanted to, her goddess authority let her bless an area of a dozen or so kilometers in every direction, but that was rapidly withering away.

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“Too bad! This means Ki’s power is greater than your wife’s authority!”

Bilgamesh shouted while sending both his arms Raidou’s way.

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“And now that I have caught up, it is my turn again, later war god!”

Shifu saw what was happening.

The fertile field and the land of reverse lightning blades had not all been used against Bilgamesh’s gauntlets.

Before that…

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“I sent them at her so she couldn’t interfere.”

Shifu meant Enkidu.

That girl was nowhere to be seen.

The fertile blades were losing their color now, but Shifu had sent hundreds of them from every direction to attack Enkidu’s location within the wheat.

The blades had taken curving routes and they were packed in densely enough to create a round fruit-like silhouette.

However…

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“Not bad.”

The fruit shattered. No, it withered and fell apart like it was unraveling.

Another form appeared in its place: a flower.

When viewed from below, the way that fruit of scattering blades faded and fell away looked like two sets of five giant fingers made from ether light.

Those ether hands surrounded and held up Enkidu like a flower. The structure was almost identical to the forearms of Bilgamesh’s gauntlets.

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“I combined Protection Large with Sword Barrier. In the battles we fought, bladed weapons were more common than striking ones, so we have plenty of blade countermeasures.”

And…

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“You know my turn has already begun, don’t you?”

She did.

Her surroundings were changing. The golden wheat of her divine territory was withering and fading.

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“Since I was made from the earth, I really wished I could use an Auth Spell like this, so I developed one before arriving here.”

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“Is it a nasty one?”

She could more or less tell it was.

Enkidu had just negated Shifu’s divine territory. That meant she had an excellent defense Auth Spell, but also…

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“You are a harvest god. You are the fertile wheat. But I am the earth below. Do you get what that means? Wheat cannot grow without earth, so my ‘phase’ is at the very foundation of harvest. Even if I’m technically clay.”

So…

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“A harvest god like you has an inferior ‘phase’ to an earth god like me.”

With those words, the protective fingers blossomed and scattered through the air.

In their place, the fading of the wheat reached its completion.

Everything had lost its color.

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“Rock Hold.”

And it was petrified.

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“Rock to Mud.”

The fertile gold faded to the color of dried clay. It then became a moist-looking black before turning white.

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“Petrifying it wasn’t enough? You have to break it too?”

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“As a life made from earth, my authority can return life to earth.”

This was a compatibility issue.

Shifu’s harvest powers controlled the life that grew atop the earth and her opponent controlled the earth itself as life.

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“The ancient mythologies are the originators. Of course, I doubt I could have beaten you if I couldn’t have done this, but I think I put up a pretty good fight.”

Meanwhile, it reached Shifu as well.

The petrification did, that is.

Her divine territory had already faded out to the farthest reaches and started to shatter.

That meant she too would be returned to earth. And…

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“This is only politics, so I think I’ll return you to normal even if you shatter. I’ve learned how to do that too.”

Just as Shifu heard that, she too faded.

A dry feeling reached her fingers and toes and then rapidly moved up her arms and legs.

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“I notice my uniform isn’t fading.”

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“Because it isn’t alive.”

I feel like we get along pretty well, she thought just before her mind cut out.

She too had been petrified.

Interlude[edit]

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“You’ve got the petrification fetish covered too!? Man, you gods are down with anything!”

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“U-um, are you saying you like rocks? Please tell me that’s what you mean.”


Chapter 25: Thunderblade[edit]

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This isn’t me showing off; I’m always giving it everything I’ve got


Bilgamesh gave a shout while falling and sending down twin attacks.

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“Your partner is now dirt! Know that you have no backup!”

But…

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“She will be returned to normal! So worry not and face me!”

His words showed him how weak his own will was.

He was feeling unnecessary sympathy for this opponent.

He had once lost his own partner, so he was empathizing with what his opponent had to be feeling.

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Honestly.

He thought back to when he had once lost Ki.

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“What is happening? Why is his opponent being so nice?”

Kuwajiri nodded while wondering if she was consuming her hamburger steak too quickly and while considering if she should order another one.

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“In his myths, Bilgamesh lost his partner Enkidu and began to wander.”

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“Wander?”

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“Yes. Enkidu was made to die as a punishment from the gods, but Bilgamesh could not accept that death. When Enkidu was on the verge of death, Bilgamesh dressed him up in bridal clothes to celebrate him. After Enkidu’s death, Bilgamesh wandered the world hoping to find the location of his soul so he might be resurrected.”

And…

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“When he ultimately realized that was not possible, the half-god half-human king discovered the limits of his own power and he died.”

She finished the story. And…

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“Uh…”

There were tears.

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“Eh? Um, wait. Hello?”

She had no idea what to do about this.

The story of Bilgamesh was indeed a tragedy, but she had not expected to bring an older girl to tears.

Besides, making this particular upperclassman cry was a problem.

Because the idiot would respond. And sure enough…

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“Don’t make her cryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Ahhhhh, Senpai! It’s okay! It’s only a legend! It’s a made-up story!”

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“Helllll of a thing to say to a bunch of leeeegendary gods.”

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<Let’s just say she is talking about the original text from the Earth Age.>

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“Yeah, that’s what I meant! So, Senpai! Don’t worry too much about their backstories! Now we can continue the legends or play the sequel or whatever! It’ll be as easy as inserting a 50 yen coin in the slot!”

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“And you don’t need to cry either way.”

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“B-but it’s just so unfair!”

First I made her cry an now she’s yelling at me. Well, it is an emotional story. That’s never been my strong point. But…

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“The biggest difference between now and the Earth Age legend is that Bilgamesh is real now.”

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<Just like with all of you, they have the Earth Age legends as ‘memories of the past’, but they are also redoing those legends from the beginning.>

Yes.

The Norse gods had memories of going through the Twilight of the Gods at the end Norse mythology, but that had yet to happen in ‘the present’.

It was the same for Bilgamesh.

He had once lost Enkidu and wandered.

He had tried to live life the way he wanted but learned of his limits when he found something he could not do.

He had that past in his memories and that would cause him to hesitate even in the middle of battle. So…

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He isn’t a bad person. Which means…

Which means…

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“Raidou-senpai, you must have the phase prepared by now, so do it already.”

Bilgamesh saw something while in midair.

His opponent had struck a pose on the dried and scattered land. His left hand was at his hip, his right hand was jabbing upwards, and he swung both those hands before pointing upwards again.

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“Raidouuuu!!”

He shouted.

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“Thorrrr!!”

Bilgamesh interrupted whatever this was by slamming down both his attacks.

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“Enough nonsense!”

Bilgamesh knew his attacks had hit. Both scored direct hits.

He felt the blow land through both the gauntlets.

He had not felt that any of the previous times.

Of course he had not.

He had been making a flurry of attacks before, but he had always been using one arm at a time.

This time, he had used the momentum of his fall and used both arms at once.

That was not something someone could fully block. However…

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“Did he do it!?”

Both of the gauntlets shook.

A counterattack had struck both the ultra-heavyweight attacks and that attack’s power exploded within the gauntlets.

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“…!!”

The wrists of the gauntlets bounced up and shattered.

He heard the destruction of metal. It was an odd concentration of sound caused by the metal being torn, compressed, and crushed.

The 70m metal fists were utterly destroyed.

His opponent had used a counterattack to survive.

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“Damn you.”

That was well played. The enemy appeared in the center of his vision just as he thought he was going to land.

It was Raidou Tooru.

The hem of his uniform was shredded and there was clear weariness in the way he stood there, but…

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“What’s that look for?”

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“That weapon.”

He knew what it was. He had researched it before arriving in this divine world.

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“Norse Thunder God Thor has three divine tools.”

The first was the gauntlet he had used to endure all the attacks thus far: Jarngreipr.

The second was the strengthening belt that allowed Thor to draw out his full power: Megingjord.

And the third was the divine hammer that acted as his symbol.

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“What happened to Mjolnir?”

Raidou held a weapon in both hands so that it spanned left to right, but it looked like a giant sword.

It had no guard and the rectangular blade simply looked like a hunk of metal stretched out.

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“Don’t be dumb. This is Mjolnir.”

Thor smiled a little and lightly swung the large sword.

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“The only flaw with that hammer is the poor craftsmanship, so of course I was gonna improve it when I came here. Just like you did with your equipment.”

It instantly changed shape. No, it returned to its original form.

It really was a hammer.

The handle was short enough to fit inside a single hand.

The striking portion was long side to side, but it was still the size of a hand’s breadth.

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“So I take this and go like this.”

He swung it.

It immediately changed form. As the handle extended, the striking portion also grew wider. The striking portion also thrust out upwards like it was growing taller.

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“It might look like a blade, but it’s really just the striking portion stretched straight out. You can think of it as an extra-long hammer. I used this mode for that counterattack just now.”

I let slip a comment on what I had just seen.

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“Kamen Raidou.”

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“No one asked you to say that.”

“Now, now, now, now,” I said while shaking my head.

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“You saw that just now, didn’t you? Raidou-senpai’s belt buckle started spinning in a really cool way and then the hammer popped out.”

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“It is true Mjolnir is normally stored in Megingjord’s buckle.”

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“Is therrrre a good reeeeason for that?”

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“Because he modified Mjolnir to make it more usable and added some extra features, it didn’t have enough power for itself. That’s why it generally gets its fuel from Raidou-senpai. He’s fighting now, but he only just built up enough fuel to use it properly.”

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“Sumeragi-kun, would you like half my hamburger steak?”

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“Ah! Y-yeshy-yes! I want it! I want it so bad!”

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“Are you listening? Hey, are either of you listening?”

An impact became sound and raced out.

Two rapid-fire sounds rushed alongside the Tama River.

The first was the rumble of the lightning attacks produced when the extended striking weapon counterattacked.

The other was the metal ring of two giant fists pushing away and striking the lightning attacks.

The two continued ceaselessly as a continuous roar.

Both sides struck, attacked, and sometimes spun around while staying on the move.

However, the thunder god was constantly falling back.

His opponent’s attacks were far heavier than his own.

He kept his center of gravity lowered as he launched the lightning hammer attacks, but the two fists were still more than 600m long when the forearms were included.

That was an overwhelming difference.

When he caught one of those attacks, he was forced to fall back a dozen meters at least.

But his extended striking weapon did not break. Instead, the metal fists shattered but were immediately regenerated with ether light.

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“Ha ha! How huge an ether pool do you have!?”

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“You laugh, war god!?”

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“Course I do! We fought much bigger things when we were destroyed in the Twilight of the Gods, but if I can keep up with someone like you, I know I’ve still got what it takes!”

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“I see.”

His opponent smiled a little too.

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“I feel the same way.”

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“Is this a complicated thing for you!?”

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“I said this is politics, didn’t I?”

Oh, right. But…

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“You idiot.”

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“What makes me an idiot?”

The thunder god gave a roar while they fought.

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“This is a battle! Not politics! You call this a battle for politics!? Not how it works! Battles are battles! We’re duking it out and whoever’s stronger wins! How is that politics!?”

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“Whoever is stronger wins! That describes politics to a T! Isn’t that right!?”

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“That’s dead wrong!”

He was sure of himself here.

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“The winner is the one who survives to laugh another day! That’s what I call a battle! Wasn’t it that way for you!?”

He asked a question.

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“Did you laugh back when you were the one to survive!?”

Bilgamesh gave his opponent another look.

He had researched this opponent. However…

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“I lost something precious to me yet survived and regretted it every day thereafter. I felt powerless and I felt despair. But…”

He slammed his fists forward.

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“What about you!? What about Ragnarok!? In the Norse myth you called the Twilight of the Gods, most of the gods die and the world is remade! And…”

And…

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“You are one of those who dies in battle! What did you do then!?”

A counterattack arrived and knocked his attack upwards.

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“I laughed!”

The thunder god raised his eyebrows in a smile.

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“I laughed and died! In a ‘whelp, this is the end I guess’ kinda way! But…”

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“Out with it!”

“Sure,” he replied.

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“But my laugh was a twisted thing. I felt a sick kind of relief that everything else was being destroyed along with me. I was fine with it because everyone was with me. Not what you’d expect from a war god, huh!?”

“Which is why,” he added.

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“I’ll never laugh like that again!!”

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“You will not allow it, is that it!?”

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“Same for you, huh!?”

They exchanged a nod. A moment later, they struck and cleared a small distance between them. At that moment, Bilgamesh met his opponent’s eyes and raised his voice.

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“White Sword!”

Bilgamesh saw the thunder god was already on the move.

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What does he intend to do against my summoned weapon!?

Bilgamesh was not summoning the gauntlets. He was using the White Sword that could be called a piercing AoE weapon.

Did he have some trick up his sleeve? Or was he simply desperate?

Bilgamesh did not know.

But that extended striking weapon was aimed his way and it grew an extra few dozen meters while his opponent gave a roar.

“Thunder God Strike!!”

What is he saying? Gilgamesh wondered in a split second.

The summoning of the White Sword was being completed by the many Revelation Boards around him.

This attack was not like the one he had used previously. The muzzle-like ejection space at the base of the weapon had already been enlarged.

The white sword’s attack would cover around a dozen kilometers and stop when it hit the barrier wall.

What lightning attack could that hammer produce in response when it was long but still only measured in meters?

Was he really simply desperate?

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No! He is not the type of person to do that!

That left only one option: a trick up his sleeve.

And at the moment…

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“It can’t be.”

Gilgamesh checked the top of his vision.

He saw it there.

The thunder god’s trick was there.

At some point, clouds had appeared in the previously clear night sky. The thunderclouds looked like they were being intentionally brought in from the west.

This was weather manipulation. In other words…

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“A phase!?”

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“There we go.”

Kuwajiri looked into the western sky out the window while she wondered if she had overdone it by ordering a melon soda float.

Even in Sunakawa, it was visible at a low angle to the southwest.

Dark clouds extended from the Okutama mountains to the west.

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“Did he create that with an Auth Spell?”

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“No, he did not. It is a type of weather control, but this is due to a natural phase forming in the Nishitama region.”

There was a trick to this, so she opened a map of western Tokyo on a Revelation Board.

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“Japan has a lot of mountains and a lot of rivers. Both of those things eliminate the flatlands all the way out to the ocean. The people of Japan tended not to notice it, but Japan’s terrain is a collection of valleys extending from the mountains to the ocean that were carved away over many long years by the rivers.”

What special traits did that provide?

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“Deep mountain valleys and rivers cause the mountain’s winds and waters to flow downstream. Clouds form more easily in the sky above the mountain rivers. South of Okutama, the Tama River connects to Yamanashi. North of Okutama, it connects to the Chichibu Mountains. So it gets hot in the summer and clouds form especially easily above it. From the perspective of other regions, a lot of rainclouds will extend from there while snaking along the path of the Tama River.”

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<If you swing an absurdly large weapon around to stir up the air on a humid summer night while the great din of it all shakes the air, you are bound to have clouds form for a sudden downpour.>

That was exactly it.

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“The thunderclouds created here are supported by the regional gods and spirits of this Shinto land. And Raidou-senpai can further increase the power by pressurizing them with his Auth Spell.”

In an instant, their surroundings grew white.

She knew what had happened. No, she knew what was still happening. The light coming from the west was no longer just light as it illuminated the western side of Tokyo.

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“This Thunder God Strike is a combination of thunder god tricks. A mass of lightning will crash down from the sky over a radius of probably 3km…but it should only hit the outsiders.”

There was no sound.

There was no light.

Everything was burned away to create a pure white space void of all noise, smell, and even heat.

An explosive vibration had been launched at his opponent from the sky.

But Raidou still saw something ahead of him.

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“Well done.”

His opponent was still there.

Bilgamesh had his giant right arm raised with something visible atop the gauntlet.

It was a shadow.

The all-encompassing shadow continued for more than 2km.

That was not the White Sword.

It was a shield.

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“Red Shield.”

He stood there with his breathing heavy but enduring.

The lightning light faded, the sizzling sound vanished, and everything grew visible once more. However…

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“I would’ve won if you’d used your White Sword.”

Raidou had planned to strike in the opening that left, but he had canceled that plan.

However, Bilgamesh alone could not have pulled this off in time.

Yes.

Someone else had intervened. Someone had reached out a helping hand and replaced Bilgamesh’s attack ejection device with a defense one. Raidou knew exactly who that would be.

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“The wife!”

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“I wouldn’t have noticed the movement in the sky if I hadn’t been watching from behind.”

Ki wiped away an exhausted sweat and sighed. She stood next to the stone statue that had been Shifu.

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“I thought you had to have a trick up your sleeve, but I was focused too much on the river.”

The river was not what mattered.

They were up against a thunder god. Not a weather god like they knew; a god that specialized in thunder specifically.

Also, the natural terrain of this divine world was different from the Middle East.

There was more than one factor to the land here.

The phase that gave Thor the upper hand was the sky.

The terrain along this river would call in thunderclouds from upstream.

She had finally noticed once she was positioned further away and had to view the entire scene from a distance.

That had given her just barely enough time to intervene. And…

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“That is the Red Line Shield defense spell. It is a specialized protection applied on top of Bil’s shield, but unfortunately, I couldn’t apply it more than once. The weapon deployment permission stuff gets in the way.”

So she made a suggestion.

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“How about we take the same family name? If we’re at the same rank, I can intervene without going through the permissions process.”

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“Thank you,” whispered Bilgamesh.

Then he looked to his opponent and took a fighting stance.

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“It’s on, then?”

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“On it is.”

His opponent raised that hammer once more.

Bilgamesh reactivated his Auth Spell Revelation Board. He put it in sleep activation mode to shorten the activation time.

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“We both came here after suffering a defeat.”

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“Yeah, but you’re about to suffer another one.”

Was he simply acting tough after losing his partner’s support and having his largescale lightning strike blocked? No, he had an idea. That was what made him a war god.

Thunderclouds remained in the sky. Lightning was racing from them.

But since Ki remained in the fight, her defense spells could defend Bilgamesh.

If his opponent was going to act tough despite that…

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I must not hold back!

He reactivated his White Sword and preserved the Red Shield that was starting to vanish.

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“I will pour my heart and soul into defeating you!”

The Revelation Board was complete, but then he heard a comment from his opponent.

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“FYI, you’re not the only one with the power of a wife.”

What does he mean by that? wondered Bilgamesh.

This opponent’s wife had already been stopped. Her harvest had been scattered and Ki had petrified her.

Ki had the upper hand on a fundamental compatibility level, hence the victory. But…

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“Ki!”

He realized a certain fact and sensed danger.

But not for himself, for his partner Ki. Because…

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The ground!

There was a color in the ground: yellow.

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“…!?”

This should not have been possible.

The withered and scattered fruits of the earth had returned.

That was odd.

But the light rising from a wide expanse of land was clearly the color of the returning harvest. Which meant…

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“Ki! Your opponent has overcome your compatibility!!”

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“…!?”

Ki was confused.

Something strange was happening.

A golden color was welling up all around her.

It was wheat. That massive divine territory was returning. But instead of being established anew, it was recovering.

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“It couldn’t be.”

She did not see how this was possible, but she had to ask.

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“Did you remove the petrification!?”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, cracks ran through the Shifu statue.

Her entire body split apart and stone scattered. But instead of the entire statue crumbling away, something emerged from within.

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“Whew, that one caught me by surprise.”

It was Shifu. The petrification had only covered the outermost layer of skin. Almost like…

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“Would you call it a threshing facial? But having stone in my underwear was a little ouch, if I’m being honest.”

Ki watched in a daze, but there was something different about the Shifu she saw now.

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“Your hair.”

“Yeah,” she said with a smile while brushing the stone off her hand.

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“Black hair is pretty nice too, don’t you think?”

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“What is the meaning of this!? My Auth Spell should have returned your life to dirt!”

Shifu nodded at Enkidu’s complaint.

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“I have a double divinity. Because there are two people in our mythology who are considered Thor’s wife.”

Was “people” really the right word there? Meh, who cares, she decided.

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“The first is the more well-known one: Sif. That’s the blonde beauty. And the other one is Jarnsaxa. Do you know what that name means?”

She explained.

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“It means ‘iron dagger’.”

The rest was simple enough.

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“Your Auth Spell? If it turns life to dirt, then its rules let you return Sif’s wheat and fertility to the earth, but it can’t do the same with Jarnsaxa. After all, she’s iron. Iron’s still iron even when it rusts. It can’t be turned to dirt.”

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“Compatibility, huh?”

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“Oh, the compatibility issues don’t stop there.”

She moved forward. She approached. Her opponent prepared to fight.

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“Flying Disc!”

Ki launched several dozen razor discs at close range, but Shifu easily ducked past them.

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“Remember what you said about bladed weapons being popular in your day? Then how about barehanded attacks?”

She moved right up to her opponent while she spoke.

It only took an instant. But…

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“Kh!”

Enkidu threw a frantic attack that did not have her hips behind it, but it did reach Shifu’s cheek.

It landed.

Shifu heard a nice sound come from her cheek.

Enkidu had been created as a man, so it was a fairly powerful blow.

Oh, right, she realized after recalling the mythology Kuwajiri had explained for them. Before Bilgamesh and Enkidu had accepted each other, they had fought a lengthy duel through which they realized they were both created by the gods.

In that case, they would be able to handle hand-to-hand combat too. So…

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“Correction: we might have great compatibility.”

With that, she took a step forward.

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“…!?”

The blow she had taken had affected her. It hurt like hell. But…

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“You’ve still got a ways to go before you can match the punches the jotunn have thrown my way.”

Her black hair blew in the wind as she circled around her opponent’s attempt at evasion. Her hair continued to flutter as she interrupted Enkidu’s evasive action with the toughness of iron.

The enemy could not move, so she only had to use her standing motion to gain momentum.

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“How about we exchange stories about our husbands later on, En-chan?”

Then she threw her fist into En’s jaw.

Shifu took En’s hand as she tried to stay standing but started to collapse into the fertile field.

By the time she had supported her, her hair was back to the gold of wheat.

And she gave a shout.

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“Finish this, Tooru!”

Bilgamesh realized Ki had been defeated. But…

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Good enough!

He had just launched the White Sword from his right arm.

The attack would reach the edge of the barrier and create an even deeper valley for the river.

Thunderclouds filled the sky, but he was raising the Red Shield toward the heavens.

The shield no longer had the Red Line Shield protection applied, but…

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“It can still protect me for a short time!”

Once he said that, he saw the thunder god’s hammer transforming again.

This was not the striking portion extending like before.

It was short and it looked a lot like a hammer, except that the handle was longer than it had been.

No.

This was a sword guard.

The hammer formed a sword’s hilt and guard, so what was it lacking?

A blade.

And what would a thunder god use as a blade?

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“A lightning strike!?”

All of the electrification, ball lightning, and thunderbolts emitted from the thunderclouds overhead were concentrated on the sword guard held up by the thunder god.

The lightning was focused and discharged from that point and the blade itself called in thunderclouds while also launching itself into the sky.

The lightning produced a flare.

The lightning blade produced from the thunderclouds gave a roar and burst in the heavens.

The blade of striking light scattered the very clouds it had come from as it reached a height of 9km.

Bilgamesh tried to seize victory.

The thunder god in front of him raised his lightning blade.

That 9km lightning strike descended toward him.

He raised his shield toward the sky, but…

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“Ki!”

You left this to me, he thought while launching his White Sword and moving forward.

He would win this.

He would strike swift and hard.

Even if his opponent was faster, his shield would hold out for a moment. But…

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“Kh!”

He saw something moving in front of him. No, below him.

An attack arrived from the ground – from the fertile land.

It was Shifu’s gold.

Bilgamesh saw the enemy’s attack appear below him.

All of the wheat covering the fertile land turned to blades and hopped up at him.

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“Let’s do this harder than before!”

Well done, he thought. You two work well together.

It was coming.

The attacks were launched up from the ground.

All of the blades raced across countless angular paths and stabbed into him to pin him in place.

They hit him.

The many heads of wheat pierced straight through his gauntlet and the shield it was raising overhead.

But he still gave a roar.

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“No matter!”

His equipment’s mass and speed could easily break those thin blades. So…

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“I will not lose!”

He shattered all of the wheat and continued forward.

He did not stop.

The thunder god was swinging that giant blade to hit him.

It was a swift motion, but he could still win.

His opponent’s attack was coming from above, but he had his shield raised. So…

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“Victory is ours!”

Shifu heard Tooru’s voice from the distant battlefield while she reached a hand out toward En who was breathing heavily down on her knees.

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“You know what? Your partner is a pretty good match for you in battle.”

Tooru spoke to Bilgamesh.

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“But Shifu’s gold is highly conductive. Pretty convenient for a thunder god’s wife, right?”

“Oh, shut up,” she muttered while looking up in the sky.

Her many wheat attacks had been torn apart and were scattering ether light, but they were still there.

Most of them had pierced Bilgamesh’s gauntlet and Red Shield to reach the sky beyond.

The shield no longer provided any protection against the lightning strike.

It would pass right through.

Which meant…

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“Don’t assume we’ve lost just yet!”

En spat out the words.

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“Bil! I’m not going to use Call Bil!”

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“Oh!”

What was he trying to say?

Was it a cry of resistance?

Had he been addressing the enemy? Or…

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“…”

Had he been addressing someone much more important? He did not know. But…

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“Hammer of the Thunder God!!”

The light from the heavens struck the shield, passed right on through it, and shattered it.

Everything simply vanished into whiteness.

It was over.

Interlude[edit]

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“Any deep reason you finished off your hamburger steak just as the battle ended?”

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“So I could order another one.”


Chapter 26: Gods 04[edit]

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Now, to clean up

But first


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“It’s over, isn’t it?”

Kuwajiri looked out the window to see the electricity in the western sky and the eddying clouds in the scorched atmosphere.

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“Now I don’t have to feel guilty about ordering a merry-go-round parfait.”

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“You eat a lot more than I would’ve thought!”

She was Norse, after all. She would regret eating so much later on, but she had bought some bananas on a good sale, so it would all work out in the end. Senpai-san was giving her an impressed look, but they probably had different digestive systems.

Still, she had her own thoughts about Senpai-san.

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How can she maintain that body when she eats so little?

She gave Senpai-san an impressed look and the girl tensed up.

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“U-um, do you need something?”

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“Not really. I was just realizing that Japan has a lot of its own protein-rich foods like tofu and natto.”’

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“I like both of them.”

She shook Senpai-san’s hand and the idiot pulled a paper napkin from the dispenser on the table, bit it, and glared at her.

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“How dare you hold a free Senpai handshaking event without asking my permission! You’ve gotta at least buy a CD for that privilege! Senpai, you’ve released a CD, haven’t you!? You haven’t!? Not even a single!? How can this be!? Something is severely wrong with the music industry! Anyway, Kuwajiri, how dare you do that with your hand! I’m so jealous!”

She had no idea what the idiot was talking about.

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“Sumeragi-kun, do you want to shake my hand?”

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“No, I mustn’t! That is not allowed! I couldn’t possibly hold a handshaking event without earning it with my faith in some way!”

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“IIII bet I could get you to pay a toooon of money for indulgences.”

Probably so. But then Senpai-san asked a question.

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“Um, what happened with Raidou-san…or the entire Norse group, I guess?”

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“We won, so a lot will change. And we’ll have more trouble to deal with.”

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“Trouble?”

“Yes,” confirmed Kuwajiri while glancing at the person looking outside from a position two seats away. That was Shinto Representative Omokane.

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“I mean politics. War God Thor can be seen as the Norse Representative and he just defeated a representative of the 5th Generation Mesopotamian group, even if that opponent was half-god, half-human.”

Kuwajiri was not in charge of politics, but on the intellectual front, she understood what this battle result would mean.

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“Fewer mythologies will think about messing with the terraforming of this planet. After all, we defeated a pretty major player even among the 5th Generation. However…”

This would lead to a concern as well. She called on her knowledge of a past example.

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“First of all, anyone who does pick a fight with us will either be very powerful or use trickery.”

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“That does sound like troublllle.”

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<That is true,> agreed Balancer. <It is now known that not even an ancient mythology’s representative can defeat you in a direct battle. This will have a deterring effect, but it will also lead people to search for a way to overcome that deterrence.>

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“Will they send a powerful god, will they send someone whose authority gives them an extreme compatibility advantage, or will they send in an army to win through pure numbers? Or will they make their attack through political or economic avenues?”

This is what it meant in the end.

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“This means a lot for the Shinto terraforming. As a later mythology, Shinto never had much influence, but this gives them a spot right there with the other mythologies.”

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“Eh!? That’s amazing! Then can we let Raidou-senpai and the others deal with everything while we think up some clever ideas if it’s needed so that hard work and friendship carry us to victory in the end!?”

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“S-sorry, but I was sort of wondering the same thing. Is there some major problem with that?”

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“Norse mythology is not a monolith. The gods are just one faction and we have come here almost entirely on behalf of that faction. But…”

But…

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“While we are working to hold them in check, we still all belong to Norse mythology. So if we help you here, the others are bound to demand payment from Shinto.”

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“Ah.”

It looked like she had caught on.

Their ultimate goal here was the terraforming. So…

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“They might just ask that some of the planet’s land be given to Norse mythology. Of course, we will ask for payment as well since we are not doing this as volunteers, but the more we fight for you, the more you will be obligated to provide, which will only bind you. Personally, I think you should give a military god or war god a real manifestation as soon as possible and then use us as reserve forces.”

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“Kuwajiri-kuuuun.”

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“What?”

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“You shoulllld really stop announcing your deparrrrture in advance.”

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“Ah.”

She had meant it as a warning or a knowledge-based decision, but she had taken it too far.

No, the fact that she felt like she had taken it too far was the proof that this decision was partially based on emotion.

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“Sorry. I seem to have a tendency toward pessimism.”

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“Oh.”

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“Well, not as much as you do. You amaze even me there.”

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“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.”

It was even more amazing if she was not aware of it. However…

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“Kuwajiri, keep one thing in mind.”

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“What is that?”

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“I like having crazy fun with everyone and I want to keep doing it.”

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“You mean?”

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“Yeah,” said the idiot. “I mean, I don’t want to see myself as some sad loner! I’m super-duper lucky to have Senpai with me, but I can’t intrude on her everyday life just to worship her! All my worship juices would squirt out of my believer hole if I was able to be a part of her everyday life, but to preserve the value of my worship, she needs to be someone beautiful, not someone desperate for attention! And she is someone beautiful, even if she seems to hand out rewards a little too readily! So…what was I talking about again? Probably about Senpai given what I got sidetracked on.”

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“Was it your respect for Senpai-san?”

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“U-um, thank you very much?”

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“I-I am unworthy of your thanks! I, Sumeragi Izumi, will endlessly respect you even if you give me a colder response like, ‘You’d better praise me more than that, you pig’! Long live, Senpai! Long live, Senpai!! …Really though, Kuwajiri, what were we talking about?”

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“What you wanted from your relationship with us.”

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“Eh!? You want a relationship with me!? Well, you’re out of luck! I’m running straight for Senpai without taking any detours! My path is as straight as National Route 1! Straight as can be!”

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<FYI, National Route 1 is in the Nagoya region, so it is fairly curvy.>

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“This is about nuance, not facts! Why don’t you get that!? What do you think, Kuwajiri!?”

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“I think I might be able to calm you down if I mess with some of the settings during the next rollback.”

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“A psychological castration!? That’s new!”

She really was annoying.

But the worst part was how obvious it was that idiot was trying to be considerate.

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Showing off my negative side was a mistake.

What good was sympathy from the likes of a human?

But for now…

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“You say you don’t want to be lonely, but the result of this battle means all the mythologies seeking out a suitable phase on this planet might just gather here and have some ‘crazy fun’ fighting over the land.”

This was going to be a pain. But on the other hand…

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“We don’t want this to lead to conflict either, but that is another reason why our peaceful days here might be over.”

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“Kuwajiri-san.”

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“What?”

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“You don’t have to make yourself into a villain. That is only possible for people with the absolute conviction and pride to believe nothing at all can bring them down.”

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“…”

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“I was merely lashing out based on the anxiety and other things I carry with me.”

Just as she said that, several voices arrived at the restaurant entrance.

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“Ohhhh.”

Kuwajiri could tell why Yomoji had looked up.

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“Hey. We’ve brought the other two. They’re joining us.”

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“Is this a ground beef and pork mixture? We can’t exactly eat that.”

Ki finally let herself sigh while viewing the menu.

It had finally hit him that the time for fighting was over.

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It had been a while since we fought.

They had just completed the post-battle process.

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“It is very convenient that we are warped back to where the battle started once it is over.”

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<Yes, but data-wise, this is still an alternate phase, so some adjustments must be made toe ensure your safety and bring you back.>

However, none of that took very long. Plus, Balancer handled everything for their surroundings.

They ended up in front of the bathhouse, so Balancer guided them to this restaurant.

They took the seats across from the Norse pair who were ordering tons of meat.

The table across the aisle from there was filled with Norse and Shinto gods.

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“I never imagined the human would have turned into a girl for no reason.”

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“Caught me by surprise too! This was apparently a first for my rollbacks, so I ran to the bathroom to check on some things during the terraforming!”

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“Yeah, I know what you mean,” replied Ki. “There are some things you’ve gotta check out once you get a female body.”

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“Right!? I gave myself a look and was all ‘way to go, me!’. But why did you make the change, Busty Girl?”

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“I had a number of reasons, but personally…well, you know. If I was going to be ‘receiving’ Bil, I figured having more receptacles would mean more variety.”

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“This conversation is going places fast.”

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“Wait, wait, wait, wait!”

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“Anyway,” said Ki with a light wave of her hand. “There are actually a few different versions of our mythology depending on which civilization was in charge, but the further back you go, the deeper my love for Bil is depicted to be. And when you keep hearing that, it makes you want to go for it, right?”

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“Yeah, that happens when you keep getting praised for something.”

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“Exactly. And since there were other reasons for it too, I figured it was worth doing.”

Everyone gave fairly solemn nods, but then Bilgamesh took a gulp of water and spoke up.

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“I had no problem with the male body either, though.”

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“And we’re going places again.”

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“Oh, but Shinto is perfectly okay with that.”

That was Shinto for you. Nice and lax.

But their partners had already begun exchanging opinions next to them.

Raidou spoke his mind.

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“Man, that was pretty fun.”

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“Winning is always fun. It feels great, doesn’t it?”

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“Was it fun for you?”

After a pause, Bilgamesh nodded.

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“I feel better now. Because I managed to decide what it is we should do.”

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“Politics, huh?”

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“Yes, politics. We can discuss this later. Right now, I want to reach an understanding about that battle.”

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“So you feel better, but you still don’t like it, huh? Kind of confusing.”

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“Do you enjoy it even when you lose?”

Shifu glanced over at him when she heard that question. Bilgamesh’s partner, Kidou, did not look their way and continued speaking with the underclassmen.

Kidou’s reaction was the unnatural one.

Does she have her reasons? wondered Raidou as he answered the question.

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“I do. Because I can think about why I lost.”

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“Explain.”

“Sure,” he agreed.

This is what he meant.

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“Once I understand why I lost, I can be certain of one thing: I will win next time. Once that happens, my loss doesn’t end with just a loss. I can be certain that I grew stronger in the process. And that means…”

This is how he viewed it.

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“Maybe losing was actually better than winning. At that point, I just have to look forward to the rematch. Because I can win the next time. I will win the next time. Bring it on, you SOB. Stuff like that.”

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“…”

Bilgamesh silently held out his hand, so Raidou shook it.

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“You are right. Defeat only makes you stronger next time if you can accept it. But…”

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“Yeah.”

They both knew this.

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“Losing but stopping there is the absolute worst.”

He had experienced that when the world of the gods was destroyed.

The other guy had experienced that when he had lost his partner.

So how had these two made it this far?

He could make some guesses here, but politics was not his domain. The only one here who could do politics was Omokane at the other table, but she had too much of an ulterior motive.

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“Kuwajiri,” he sent via Revelation Board.

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“Miru-senpai is asleep right now. I would wait until tomorrow for anything politics related.”

“I see,” he replied before holding out a flat hand to pause the conversation with Bilgamesh.

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“Sumeragi! Let’s have a party at your room tonight. With everyone here.”

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“Eh!? Senpai in my room!? Kyun! Oh, that was the sound my heart made! And I’m not sick! It was the sound of my heart’s flitter-flutter button being pressed! Flitter-flutter push! Kyun! One more time! Kyun! What’s with the ‘you’re ruining my meal’ look, Kuwajiri!? I’m like a delicious spice, aren’t I!? But anyway, how about it, Senpai!? Oh, but I’m not talking to the male Senpai or the carnivorous Senpai! I’m talking to the real Senpai!”

Godless shinobu.png

“Don’t think I’m forgetting this.”

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“Thank you! Thank you so much! Criticism from a busty goddess is the ultimate reward!”

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“Is this what humans are like nowadays?”

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“No, she is a special case! Or I hope she is!”

Bilgamesh noticed Balancer had appeared next to him.

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<Hello again, Bilgamesh. I was monitoring you, but since I do not interfere with the actions of the gods, I had shut myself off from you and your private words and actions.>

Hearing that, he looked to the boy across from him.

Raidou nodded as if to say Balancer was correct.

Godless raidou.png

“It’s true. Balancer wouldn’t tell us anything about you.”

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“You have my thanks. But…”

He turned toward the noisy human and saw Ki looking his way. However…

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“Oh, sorry.”

She had not done anything wrong, so why did she reflexively apologize?

He had known his partner a long time, but there was still a lot he did not understand about her.

Godless shinobu.png

How cute.

Figure it out, boy, Shifu added, but that was probably just how those two were.

En was apparently having some trouble with Bilgamesh’s “loss” brought up in the previous conversation. That was probably something from their mythological age.

But right now, Bilgamesh had met Tooru who had experienced a similar loss. En must have found some peace in the fact that the two boys had come to a consensus on what that loss meant.

Godless shinobu.png

I’d better cheer them on.

She felt like she was becoming more and more like a mom, but that was fine.

It was fun.

Bilgamesh asked a direct question.

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“Why do you think I lost?”

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“To be blunt, because of everything.”

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“That doesn’t tell me anything.”

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“Then,” said the other boy while spreading his hands. “Because everything was an away game for you. Does that help you understand?”

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“What do you mean by everything?”

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“The battlefield, the participants, the time, the land, the tactics, and everything else.”

The other boy responded with a toothy grin and Bilgamesh did feel like he sort of understood.

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“In other words, this was a standard tactic for you.”

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“Yeah. And an abuse of the rules. I mean, you two had a poor position here to start with. The barrier created around the battlefield would disappear if we cut off the ether supply both sides were providing, but doing that at this point would have politically hurt you two since you were the ones with a reason to pick a fight. So you had to defeat us no matter what. Meanwhile, we could run away to change our positions…and to lure you into position.”

Also…

Godless raidou.png

“We knew the area and the lay of the land. Nature gods are crazy powerful when they can take advantage of the local terrain, but I think you let your guard down when it came to that.”

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“I’ll admit I didn’t expect thunder since it was a cloudless night.”

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“Are you saying we were too impatient?”

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“Yeah,” agreed the other boy. “That’s the short of it. I don’t know what burden you’re carrying, but it was weighing you down from the start.”

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“I thought we had prepared well enough to make up for that.”

Ki nodded and spoke to the couple in front of them.

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“It’s been a while since I’ve seen Bil have so much fun building and forging new equipment.”

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“I was not having fun.”

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“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s that kinda thing, isn’t it?”

He felt like that interpretation had been forced onto him.

What a troublesome girl, he thought from the bottom of his heart.

Meanwhile, the thunder god tilted his head.

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“Was that your best equipment?”

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“No, we left the Hyper versions at home. We modified the base-level equipment and brought that with us this time.”

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“They were originally bronze, but we made them out of steel this time.”

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“Excuse me for interrupting, but you were going for defense while aware that would increase electrical conductivity, weren’t you?”

She understood it well. Since she was a god of knowledge, she was clearly an excellent god.

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“We knew a thunder god was in charge of the fighting here. Bronze has low conductivity, so it would be effective as a defense against lightning attacks.”

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“Really? I know bronze is made from copper and isn’t copper used in electronics? I remember doing stuff with that in elementary school, but I guess that memory is fabricated.”

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<That is one of the lightly fabricated memories we provided you with, but it is true that copper is highly conductive. It is the next best metal after silver. Gold is also highly conductive as seen in the finale of the recent battle, but if copper’s conductivity is a 10, then gold’s is only a little over 7.>

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“Well, my gold functions on special rules designed to match Tooru, so you could say I’m made to be penetrated by his attacks.”

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“Did your explanation have to sound so dirty? Well, did it?”

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<Let’s pretend we did not hear that and continue the conversation. You’re up, Senpai-san.>

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“Eh? Um, uh, don’t machines use gold plating for the electric contact points?”

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“Gold corrodes far slower than silver or copper, so using gold plating is ultimately cheaper even though it comes at the cost of some conductivity. Also, if we again view copper’s conductivity as a 10, then bronze’s would be between 1 and a little above 1, although it depends on how it was made.”

Godless raidou.png

“Well, the electricity isn’t the part of a lightning strike that does direct damage. It can burn through stuff, but it grows weaker while it passes through the target. And if the target is touching the ground, it can pass right through them as long as there isn’t any resistance. If anything, the impact from the shockwave is the more powerful part.”

Godless gil.png

“That is true,” agreed Bilgamesh. “There are two ways to defend against lightning strikes. The first is to use a poor conductor that does not allow the lightning to pass through and deflects it outwards. The electric attack that doesn’t reach you will become an external impact, so solid materials are preferred. But bronze is too brittle for that. Even if it could prevent a thunder god’s attack from reaching me, we concluded the impact would break through. So we went with the other method: allow the electricity through to soften the external impact.”

Hence steel.

Godless gil.png

“Steel has fairly high conductivity and a solid surface, so it seemed like the best choice. We decided I could defend against the thunder god’s attack with my shield and, if that did not work, let it pass through me and into the ground. However…”

He had encountered an unexpected ambush.

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“I did not expect you to use the harvest god like that.”

His equipment had been pierced up from the ground.

When it happened, he had thought it was no more than some blades. However…

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“Those blades were part of the ‘harvest land’ phase, weren’t they?”

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“Oh, you actually figured it out?”

Of course he had. It had bested him in combat.

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“So in the very end when that pierced my weapon, my failure was in using my momentum to destroy it.”

Because…

Godless gil.png

“It was growing up from the ground below as ‘harvest land’. Even after breaking it, the remnants remained pierced through my equipment and they had been ‘cut off from the land’. I rejected the very ground on which I stood. Thus, the lightning strike could not escape into the ground and instead exploded within.”

But that was not all.

Godless ki.png

“Shifu, your hair is gold, isn’t it?”

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“It is. Gold’s conductivity comes in third after silver and copper. And like I said, mine is special gold made to match Tooru. So once my blades had pierced through, Tooru had what he needed to get his power through and control it.”

So to sum up…

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“We overlooked your mutually complementary relationship where together you control the earth and the heavens. We tried to battle a couple as if they were unrelated individuals.”

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“Like I said. It was all an away game for you.”

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“We will not lose next time.”

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“I’m game any time. Remember, legit duels aren’t the only way to compete in this world and you take things way too seriously for a proper duel. So how about we play some video games and take it easy?”

Now.

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“We can discuss the heart of the issue in that idiot’s room. But give us a quick taste now, 5th Generation.”

Bilgamesh glanced over at Ki.

She was looking back at him. She did not try to run away or avert her gaze, but she also did not try to act tough.

She was ready for this.

That was wonderful.

She truly was his partner. So he placed his hand on hers when he asked the question.

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“Is that human’s room safe?”

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“Balancer set it up. It exists as a phase space, so we can use a barrier to cut it off until tomorrow morning. We could do that at the bathhouse too, but you don’t have an official Shinto connection quite yet.”

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“I see.” Bilgamesh nodded. “Then why bother saying anything here?”

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“Don’t be dumb. Think about it. We’re students and it’s summer break.”

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“That’s right,” said Shifu with a grin. “If it looks like a serious issue, we need to buy some drinks and prepare for a long talk. If not, we can buy mostly snacks and have a party. So which should it be?”

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“Our troubles are not some summer vacation distraction.”

They are not taking this seriously, he thought, but he had lost to them. Also…

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“Fine, then.”

It seemed strange to him, but when in Rome.

The previous battle had taught him what it meant to learn new things.

So he told them what they first needed to do concerning the problem they faced.

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“Shinto? We wish to defect to your side. The decision is yours.”

Interlude[edit]

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“Way too much stuff here uses a ground beef and pork mixture.”

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“Balancer, they have Bikkuri Fries and Bikkuri Pizza here, don’t they!?”


Chapter 27: Junction 04[edit]

Godless 1B 111.jpg

A connecting connection


Raidou used the Bil-Ki Duo’s defection announcement to determine whether or not they should continue the discussion here.

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“Yeah, we can’t really discuss that here. Let’s get to Sumeragi’s room.”

That thought excited me a little bit.

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I-I get to go in Sumeragi-kun’s room!?

It did make sense given the situation, but I still couldn’t believe it. And it sounded like it might just be a sleepover tournament. Well, not a tournament. Not that it matters. Okay, maybe I was little flustered.

Kidou-san said she would pay the bill, so the Norse group mercilessly ordered an extra hamburger steak each.

But after we had paid and were considering stopping by a convenience store, Omokane-san called out to us. She paid her own bill after we did, but while walking out ahead of us…

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“Take care, all of you. I have some business to attend to.”

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“Huh? Where are you going, Omokane-san?”

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“I need to complete some work related to Bilgamesh-kun and Kidou En-kun’s defection. The actual paperwork has already been submitted, but I must inform the other mythologies that it has indeed happened.”

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“Omokane-chaaan?”

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“What is it, Shifu-kun?”

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“How much did you know about what was going on with the Mesopotamians?”

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“Well,” she said. “I have an information shutout field, so I heard pretty much everything. You can get yourselves filled in at Sumeragi-kouhai’s room.”

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“Oh, so that’s how it is?”

What was this about? I honestly didn’t know, so I asked.

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“What is this about?”

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“These 5th generationers have something they can’t tell us.”

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“Yup. They’re sworn to secrecy by some kind of contract.”

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“Eh? But didn’t they just say they were defecting?”

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“That is something new we have just agreed to, so they are free to tell us that. The secrecy is about something from before that. They made a contract with someone else about it.”

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“U-umm?”

This was sounding confusing.

But Raidou-san summed it up for me.

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“They can’t tell us about their actual objective or some plan that someone else is working on. A contract they made with that someone prevents them from doing so. Or maybe talking about it would allow them to be tracked.”

What did that mean?

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“They have a boss.”

Raidou had more or less figured something out.

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There’s something contradictory or out of place about their actions.

A lot of it came down to his group’s misunderstanding. He knew what their biggest mistake had been.

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“We were too worried about the delays in the terraforming here.”

He felt bad when Senpai-san shrunk down, but that was the crux of the issue.

However, there was something he could not figure out. While thinking on it, he pointed east, toward Sumeragi’s apartment, and began walking.

It was a summer knight and Japanese summers were humid, but not as bad as his home. Still, he would prefer it not to be so hot.

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“Bilgamesh, do you mind if we make some guesses here?”

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“Go ahead, but keep in mind that we can neither confirm nor deny anything.”

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“Then here’s a yes-or-no question: Do you have those ’80s-style sideburns because you got the wrong idea about the current fashion trends?”

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“My hair is curly and does this naturally!”

He really is a nice guy, thought Raidou, while realizing he had been too careless in how he treated Sumeragi lately.

Anyway, he added while turning toward Kuwajiri who raised her hand and picked up her pace to keep up.

She was lit up by an orange streetlight. He had a feeling those orange ones had become more common recently.

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“Let us suppose that this 5th Generation pair has a boss.”

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“…”

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“I just about reacted to that.”

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“That careless side to you scares me at times like this.”

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“I could say the same about how you can do most anything without getting careless.”

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“Well, aren’t you a cute couple.”

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“Oh, whoops.” Kidou waved a hand dismissively and opened a Revelation Board. “I’ll listen to some music, so go on ahead.”

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“I will,” Kuwajiri continued speaking. “As Raidou-senpai said, there are two cases in which they would be obligated to keep a secret.”

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“So when would they be obligated to keep a secret? The first possibility is that they were ordered to do by their boss. That would mean the secret is related to their inspection duty. In other words, what the inspector will be doing in the Shinto-led divine world must be kept a secret. That one is simple enough. If we knew what the DC inspector wanted to inspect, we could work against that inspection. I can see why they would be asked to keep that a secret.”

The idiot walked forward and raised a hand while nonchalantly staring at Senpai-san’s jiggling chest as she walked next to him.

She must have thought no one would notice, but she was moving her head and down in time with the jiggling.

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“Then isn’t that the answer? They’re the DC inspectors, so what other possibility is there?”

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“Yes. If that were true, you would be right.”

However…

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“The other possibility is that they were not given any instructions by their boss.”

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“Huh?” I tilted my head and the rest of my body in front of Kuwajiri. “Is that even possible? Kuwajiri, are you all right? Are you sure you aren’t making stuff up just to have more to say? Well, can you answer me that? C’mon, answer me! Answer me! Answer meuuuuuuuuu!”

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“How did you turn that into a ‘u’ sound?”

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“Oh, thanks! Thanks so much! I’m so glad someone actually responded! Everyone around here has started ignoring my jokes recently! Hey, Kuwajiri! You need to react to my jokes like Busty Girl here!”

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“I wish we lived in a world where you could just die.”

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“But anyway,” said Kuwajiri while walking behind me. “What if they were not given any instructions by their boss?”

I had a question about that.

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“Is it even possible to be inspectors but not receive any instructions from their boss?”

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“Oh,” said Senpai. “It is. In certain circumstances.”

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“Yes! Of course it’s possible! In certain circumstances! Yes! Senpai is right! Kuwajiri! It’s possible for that to be the case!”

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“…”

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“Kuwajiri, was it? I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to get mad in cases like this.”

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“No, I am choosing to view this as me guiding her to the correct answer with a clever trick.”

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<It is a lot like luring a monkey from one cage to another, isn’t it?>

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“Is that so?”

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“Heyyyyyyy! Stop turning the flirty couple against me just before they join us! Shouldn’t you be telling them how great I am!? …Okay, Kuwajiri-kun, can you tell the class some good things about Sumeragi-kun?”

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“You can use her for shade when she is standing up.”

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“Too baaaad! It’s night tiiiiime! Okay, let’s get back on topic.”

She gave me the nastiest look.

Kuwajiri had her concerns, but…

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“I had a hunch when you mentioned defecting, but it seems I was right.”

The Mesopotamian duo outranked her in divinity and school year.

But now was not the time to worry about that. The situation was probably underway even now. Because…

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“They are not the DC’s inspectors.”

She said it.

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“And if they are not the inspectors, then why would they be sworn to secrecy? That is simple enough: someone other than them – such as their boss – is the inspector. In that case, it does not matter if they do or do not have any direct connection to the inspection. The rules say they are not allowed to say anything about an inspector from within their own group.”

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I had a feeling things were headed this way.

Kuwajiri-chan’s analyses were never wrong. That meant her statement here was fact.

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“That means the real inspector is someone else. Right, Balancer?”

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<To preserve my neutrality, I must say ‘no comment’.>

That answer was all the confirmation they needed. So to speed things up after falling behind…

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“Why are they defecting and why did they pick a fight with us?”

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“The fight would have been to improve their standing here. Thinking back, they kind of dodged the issue of why they were fighting beforehand. They just said it was ‘politics’.”

But…

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“They never said those politics were related to the inspection. So instead of the politics between the DC and Shinto, they were trying to establish their position within the Shinto force after they defected. It was that kind of political fight. That they should be able to talk about.”

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“Sounds like a reallll pain.”

Yomoji-chan was right.

But that brought Shifu back to her previous question.

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“Why are they defecting?”

Someone raised their hand

It was Kuwajiri-chan.

Shifu looked over and the girl immediately responded.

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“I think their boss refused to reverse a decision regarding their mythology recreation. And that boss did so as a representative of the DC.”

Bilgamesh felt relief.

He felt like everything they had done since coming here had gone well. Except that the human kept making strange noises.

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Come to think of it, Hato used to be human too, but I don’t remember her ever being like this.

Did that mean it was only the current humans who were weird?

Regardless, the knowledge god called Kuwajiri was correct.

It came down to their mythology recreation.

As gods, gods had their authority, but they also had to do things in accordance with their mythology.

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“We were born from mythology, so if we neglect our mythology, we will cease to be gods. It is not known what happens then since there is no precedent, but in the worst case, it could create a contradiction in our very existence as data entities and we would be destroyed.”

However…

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“A lot of worlds and gods do not meet a pleasant end in their mythologies and they still want a happy life this time around, so we use interpretations as a form of politics to make the adjustments needed to get by.”

But…

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“But if that 5th Generation boss has become a representative of the DC, they’re sure to tell the gods below them that no interpretations are allowed. They couldn’t hold a strong political position against the other mythologies otherwise.”

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“In their mythology, Bilgamesh and Enkidu got along well enough that fan works about them became popular in later civilizations. And you can see they’re basically husband and wife here.”

But…

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“They caused a bit of trouble with the gods, which led the gods to give Enkidu ‘death’ in Bilgamesh’s place. Afterwards, Bilgamesh wandered the world in search of a way to reach the realm of the dead, but he had to give up and accept his own death as well. As you can see, their mythology has an unhappy ending.”

Then what did this mean? Kuwajiri simply faced forward as she explained.

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“To show their pride to the other mythologies, you were being forced to do Enkidu’s ‘death’ without any interpretations, weren’t you?”

Kuwajiri clearly stated the answer, but she also realized she had succumbed to her bad habit again.

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I have a tendency of blunting stating harsh truths.

Could she call it a love of knowledge above all else?

No, if she could tell it was a problem, then it could not be that.

She had all the knowledge she could want, yet she had trouble “understanding” things like this. Even she found herself to be a pain at times.

But if she was right about the reason the 5th Generation duo was here, there was something else she did not understand.

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“I do not understand how this works as an actual conflict between mythologies. Raidou-senpai, what do you think is going to happen considering all of this, including the time at which they arrived?”

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“Do you have to give me all the hard questions?”

Kuwajiri glared at him, but Raidou still answered.

He looked up to view the stars in the western sky.

The effects of their battle had vanished when the barrier was removed.

There were no repercussions outside of the actual result.

He spoke while viewing the sky that proved that.

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“Since they’re asking to defect, we can assume their boss isn’t here yet. Besides, if this is their boss and an inspector, they must be a top-level god, on the level of a creator. Bringing a god like that from a virtual to a real manifestation would take a lot of preparation. Plus, given their divine protections and authority, the DC can’t let one of their own leave without making adjustments first. So these two knew they had some time even if they were being tracked, which is why they challenged us to a duel.”

But something still bothered him.

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“That said, they’re pretty major gods. Mesopotamian mythology is mostly virtual manifestations, so information on their real manifestation is sure to have leaked and reached their boss.”

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“But they’re still keeping the secrets they need to keep.”

Yes.

They were keeping those secrets so their location would not be found out. So…

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“They managed to do a real manifestation and come here without their boss finding out.”

That revealed something.

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“They have an ally back home. And among the top levels, at that.”

At that point, he noticed a contradiction there.

He and Shifu had just fought them.

It was not just the Shinto and Norse mythologies with real manifestations on this planet. Several other mythologies were using it too.

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“So they thought the result of the battle would act as a deterrent against the other mythologies.”

That meant everyone had to know they were here.

Yes.

That battle would normally have told everyone they were here and it would have spread from there.

Nevertheless, they were still keeping their secrets. Which meant…

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“They are certain something will prevent information on that battle from leaving this planet.”

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“What could that be?”

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“That would be me.”

He heard a voice and turned around to see a god in casual clothing.

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That’s a low divine rank.

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“You’re a former human, aren’t you?”

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“Yes,” said the god who wore a white dress below a see-through blouse. “I am with those two. My name is Shamu Hatoko.”

Scarecrow sighed in her home.

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“I don’t like the way this is headed.”

She removed her coat within a large space.

This was a student dorm. The three-story building was located near Sunakawa Station and she had rented out all of the first-floor rooms and removed the walls to remake it into a library.

Location-wise, she appreciated that she could board the city bus that stopped in front of the dorm and take it straight to a bus stop behind the school.

That was thanks to all the Shinto gods who lived in this area. For example, Tenma, who had been with her until earlier, lived in an apartment two buildings down and across the street.

Scarecrow had told Tenma “see you tomorrow” and asked her to do some bodyguard work, but she had found a familiar face in front of her own room. She thought it might be a visitor, but…

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“See, these are my casual clothes.”

This meant something had been going on behind the scenes earlier.

Scarecrow asked a question while keeping herself within the light of a streetlight.

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“Why did you come to school in that indecent outfit, but wear casual clothes to someone’s home?”

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“Weren’t you listening? I’m a temple prostitute.”

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“Now, I will hear what you have to say. What do you want?”

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“Omokane contacted me twice and, after some discussion, I chose to leave my people with you. The first time was when I borrowed a book from the library and the second was after regrouping with those two. For the second time, we got a little overexcited in the bathhouse and were practicing blowing bubbles until a certain combat freak I know destroyed the Shinto version of the bathhouse and the management god kicked us out. That was when I ran into her again.”

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“…”

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“What?”

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“Meeting her once wasn’t enough to work everything out? Plus, I thought I hid Yatsui and Tenma when I sensed danger and you arrived in the library.”

That woman had a bad habit of adlibbing things despite being a knowledge god and an on-site commander.

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She’s clearly more of a trickster god, if you ask me.

But that led her to analyze things deeply enough to reach the truth.

And that was why she was the commander. However…

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“I wish she wasn’t so oblivious to the trouble she puts us through or the ways we try to help her out.”

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“Oh? But your decision worked out well for me. If I had managed to hold an actual discussion with Omokane in the library, we might have worked everything out there, but then that previous battle wouldn’t have happened.”

Shamhat smiled a little.

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“The first time, she asked me to introduce those two first. She said they could fight duels to determine their position in the ranking. Shinto likes to keep things exciting, doesn’t it? And I think it was that duel that allowed Bilgamesh and Ki to be accepted so readily, so it was good all around that your attempt to help Omokane did not pay off.”

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“My way of thinking doesn’t mesh will with yours in general. In this case, my job is to keep an eye out so battles like that do not happen. …And one other thing.”

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“Yes?”

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“I never said it is a problem that my attempts to help her ‘do not pay off’. The problem is that she is oblivious to them.”

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“Is there a difference?”

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“There is,” she said. “My way is based on having a conscience.”

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“…”

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“Sounds like both of us go through a lot for our boss.”

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“Since we are in agreement there, I will hear you out. You say the first meeting led to that duel, but what about the second one?”

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“I can’t believe this.”

Scarecrow walked to her desk while feeling a little blue about still having work to do after taking a bath.

The study desk was a lot like a library counter. It faced the library that covered the entire first floor of the apartment. The refrigerator, sink, bath, kitchen, and bed were all in the “supply room” back behind the desk.

She used this room for work and as a place to leave her knowledge.

But before coming in here, she had received a lot of information from Shamhat at the entrance to her home.

Information leaks were dangerous things.

Contracts made with gods had to be kept. Mythologies and old stories were full of people losing something or suffering other dire consequences when they broke a promise with a god.

That was no different when the promises were made between gods. So she had wondered if this information leak would reach their “boss” based on the contract linking them, but…

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“Remember during the day, when you said I must be a spy? Well, it’s true. And that’s why I have the authority to conceal it when I leak information. Otherwise, no one would trust me during our nighttime ‘engagements’, would they?”

In that case, thought Scarecrow. There had been a largescale battle in the western sky and Omokane had (as usual) only given bits and pieces of information over the Revelation Board, but…

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“Are you keeping information on that duel from leaking out?”

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“I haven’t been with those two the entire time. The gods of each mythology gave me permission to use my authority while visiting your base within the school here. I am here as the vanguard, but I will not send the DC any information on you until some time has passed. When a DC inspector is liable to show up here, that seems like a fairly useful deal for the other mythologies to make.”

I see, thought Scarecrow as understanding reached her.

It was true she had not been contacted by any other mythologies despite the scope of that battle. And…

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“Kunugi-san contacted our people, but I haven’t heard anything from anyone since then. Are you also preventing any information from reaching us?”

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“If I am keeping anything from leaking out, it only seemed to strike a nice balance if I also prevent anything from getting in.”

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“Wouldn’t it strike a better balance to let information travel inwards?”

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“For a political information manipulation authority, sure. But mine is a prostitute’s one. Prostitutes look tight-lipped, but grow quite talkative in bed, so do you really think everyone is going to tell them their secrets?”

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“This has been a learning experience for me.”

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“It’s a surprisingly romantic authority, don’t you think?”

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“I was thinking it would lead to a lot of stress building up.”

Shamhat smiled, but was she treating Scarecrow like a child? She decided it did not matter.

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“Does that mean information on Bilgamesh and Enkidu has not leaked out even after that battle of theirs?”

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“Yes, it does. This is my specialty, after all. But you know there is one thing I have trouble with, don’t you?”

She did. Or she could figure it out, anyway. During the day, Shamhat had broken through her “guidance”.

Which meant…

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“You are good at manipulating ‘internal’ information, but you have trouble manipulating ‘external’ information, don’t you?”

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“Yes. I don’t do the external stuff. That’s why I needed a decent location back when I did it with Enkidu.”

So…

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“Look into it. The information was blocked, but I’m bad at detecting movements on the outside. With your ‘guidance’, you can tell when someone is coming, can’t you? Then can you check and see if our boss has come here?”

How strange, thought Scarecrow. Isn’t it a little soon for their boss to be arriving as a DC member?

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“What is the meaning of this? Bilgamesh and Enkidu only just arrived independently. How could their boss have arrived so quickly?”

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“It means they rushed straight here while brushing aside all the issues related to the internal power balance and taking a real manifestation.”

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“What god would be so reckless?”

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“Oh? Don’t you have a god like that? It’s a pattern seen in every mythology, so you should have someone similar. Yes, Mesopotamia also has a high-level god who behaves wildly, like the rules do not apply to them.”

Anyway, that was the conversation they had just held.

Shamhat had gone to regroup with the others, so Scarecrow had no choice but to take a seat and face the library.

She had to investigate.

She held both hands out in front of her, opened her mouth, and formed her Words.

When from the east, trap and send south.

When from the south, trap and send west.

When from the west, trap and send north.

When from the north, trap and send inward.

When from the outside, show the blossoms and send to me.

Those Words created an enclosure around her.

Countless Revelation Boards appeared on the bookcases. They changed angle in a stepped fashion, raced out, produced multiple layers, and surrounded the bookcase while linking together like pipes.

Over and over, light appeared on their surface and all the bookcases blossomed with ether flowers. It all became a box made of Revelation Boards and that became a flowerbed.

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“Blossom and teach, Enclosure of Visions Past.”

All of the flowers blossomed.

Ether flowers bloomed from the Revelation Board box connecting the bookcases and the feedback returned to her.

Revelation Boards appeared by her hands to display the search results.

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I use the “information” of books as a catalyst to access all the information within my reach. Then I only have to find the information that is facing us.

There it was.

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“That must be it.”

Just one of the flowerbed’s blossoms was facing her way.

When she compared it to the feedback Revelation Boards by her hands, she indeed found the information there.

It said…

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“The inspector!?”

The Mesopotamian “boss” was already in this divine world as an inspector.

Shifu received an emergency message from Scarecrow.

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“Shifu-san!? The others are with you, right? Including Shamhat and the Mesopo-duo!?”

What kind of abbreviation is that? Shifu wondered. Then again, Kubiko-chan can be rather longwinded when she starts explaining stuff. We can stop Kukwajiri-chan because we outrank her, but Kubiko-chan’s in our year, so that doesn’t work. And I’m getting kinda longwinded myself here. So…

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“Everyone’s here. What is it?”

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“Was I right?”

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“This could hardly be worse, yes. …Anyway, where are you all headed now? And where is Yatsui?”

Is she panicking? Shifu wondered, but she made sure not to panic herself. The others noticed the exchange and turned around, but she gave them a reassuring wave.

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“We’re headed to Sumeragi-chan’s place. Wanna join us? As for Omokane-chan, I think she went off to do something earlier.”

She heard Kubiko-chan mutter “it’s always something with her”, but she pretended not to hear it.

And after a pause for a breath, Kubiko-chan hurriedly continued.

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“Sumeragi-kun’s place, you said? Then you should come here instead! My place is closer!”

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“Eh!? Scareko-senpai’s place!? You’re inviting us over!? For real!?”

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“Eh!? W-wait just a second! Why are you inviting Sumeragi-kun over!? Regardless of your answer, I won’t forgive you!”

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“Regardless?”

It’s nice how Yomoji-chan can all our craziness in stride.

Now, the others were being noisy, but Tooru suddenly spoke up.

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“Is it the inspector?”

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“Yes.”

Some movement immediately followed.

There was a slight disturbance in En-chan’s pace as she walked alongside Shifu.

She was clearly shaken. However…

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“Is that even possible? If we’re talking about a creator-level god from Mesopotamian mythology who was also involved in Sumer, then simply leaving the virtual group by taking a real manifestation would cause enough of a commotion in and of itself. I mean, even if the real manifestation is kept hidden, it greatly affects a mythology when a multi-authority god moves around. That’s why they need time to make adjustments in advance. Isn’t that why these two hurried here and had that duel with us?”

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“Kuwajiri-san, Mesopotamian mythology has a trickster god who is on the same level as a creator god but who is not bound by any of that. Think of it like Susanoo for us.”

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“That is correct,” said Shamhat. “Every mythology has a troublemaker like that.”

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“Yes. This 5th Generation can move freely and has the traits of a war god.”

Who was that?

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“Oh? You really are just walking around in the middle of the night out here, aren’t you?”

They heard a voice.

It came from dead ahead where they saw a girl wearing an extra layer over a new-style uniform.

Her blonde hair fluttered in the night breeze with the black sky in the background.

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“I am Eshita Inana. I would be one of Bilgamesh and Enkidu’s bosses. Yes, I am here for my job as an inspector and to bring those two back with me.”

Interlude[edit]

Godless ki.png

“Oh, it’s only you.”

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“I had a feeling it was just you.”

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“Eh? Is that any way to treat me!?”


Chapter 28: Treasure Hunt[edit]

Godless 1B 131.jpg

Now, which one do you like?


Raidou saw this new arrival as a pain in the ass.

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“Kuwajiri.”

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“Yes. Based on the DC’s records, I expect Eshita Inana is a real manifestation of Eshtar, from 5th Generation Mesopotamian mythology.”

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“Eshtar?”

That must not have been a familiar name in Shinto. No, Senpai-san was on the level of a local god within Shinto, so it made sense she was unfamiliar with Eshtar.

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“Eshtar is an older name for Ishtar.”

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“Correct. And Ishtar is becoming fairly well known in fantasy stories in this era.”

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“I-I’m sorry, but I don’t know much about video games.”

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“You mean Ishtar from the Return of Ishtar, don’t you?”

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“What was she returning from exactly?”

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“A long night at the arcade playing that game?”

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“Yeah, it did take around 5 credits to beat.”

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<In the future, the record will be completing it with 2 credits.>

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“Really makes you think about what the purpose of arcade games is. I feel like games changed a lot once you could play them on home consoles without worrying about paying for credits.”

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“What are you talking about?”

The others seemed not to know the answer to Shamhat’s question, but Kuwajiri hazarded a guess while tilting her head.

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“I think this is more ‘90s references.”

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“Yeah, it’s about video games. I think we played that one a few times when you were with us at the Daiichi Department Store, Kuwajiri-chan. It’s that one where two players could explore a labyrinth together.”

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“The title screen has the title in English, so that might be why she doesn’t remember it as well.”

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“Oh, right.” Kuwajiri nodded. But, “Japanese games have no honor at all, do they?”

It was scary how easy it was to imagine what she meant by that.

But Raidou knew something about this himself.

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“Wasn’t there an Eshtar game on the MZ-1500?”

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“You’re thinking of Issural! I’ve made that mistake a few times myself!”

Was that it? If so…

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“Kuwajiri, I’m really not sure about this, so help a guy out.”

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“Gladly,” she said without sarcasm. “Eshtar is a major god from Mesopotamian mythology.”

Kuwajiri watched what she said.

She was talking about the person right in front of her.

If she only spoke the truth, she would be accurately describing that person and there would be no issues there.

But what if she said something untrue?

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It would violate that god’s “phase”.

Words had power in the same way phases did. That was why incantations existed, but if you said something mistaken about a god, you could not blame them for immediately growing hostile.

Especially for someone with a low divine rank like Kuwajiri. Someone like Eshtar was powerful enough to force through even a false accusation against her.

So she chose her words carefully.

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“Eshtar was originally a goddess named Inanna and she is a god of harvest, combat, beauty, and love. She is also associated with the planet Venus, so through the merging of various religions, she crossed Europe and became the origin of goddesses like Venus and Aphrodite.”

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“Oh, I know about that too. I do,” said the idiot. “In Druaga, a fake Ishtar appears on Floor 57 and the real one appears on Floor 60, but I thought it was a game where you were supposed to defeat everything you saw, so I attacked the Floor 60 Ishtar and got Zapped, which hardly seems fair.”

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“Shut uuuup!!”

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“Hey, you! Are you just making stuff up about me!?”

Kuwajiri could not agree more.

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“Hey, idiot! You need to bow down and make up an apology!”

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“Kuwajiri-chan? I’m not sure that’s the best way to say that.”

Kuwajiri kind of agreed.

But the idiot tilted her head.

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“Hold on. Are you okay, Kuwajiri? I was talking about a game. You really should be able to distinguish games from the real world. Can you maybe do that?”

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“Maybe I could kill you and solve all of our problems in one fell swoop.”

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“Are Mesopotamian gods okay with live sacrifices?”

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“I don’t know about older times, but by our time, it was all done with sheep.”

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“Yeah,” said Enkidu. “We would use sheep kidneys for divination. That really takes me back.”

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“How does that work? Like finding a fatty kidney means good luck for the day or something?”

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“To be honest, it wasn’t all that different from that.”

Kuwajiri felt like she was receiving a lot of needless knowledge as a knowledge god.

It was obvious the others were whispering among themselves now, but Kuwajiri did not let it get to her.

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“There are a lot of stories about Eshtar dating back to when she was known as Inanna. The most well-known is where she visits the underworld by approaching her sister, who rules the underworld, and makes a ridiculous demand but is instead tricked. Then she returns from the underworld by stealing the ‘wisdom’ of a wisdom god. Oh, and also the story where she falls in love with Bilgamesh there, is shot down, and is so angry she lashes out at Enkidu.”

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“Eh? Eh? But that last one…I mean, that’s Kidou-san, right? Ehh? It isn’t like that nowadays, is it?”

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“Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.”

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“…”

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“…”

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“…”

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“Wait, why aren’t you two saying anything? You mean it really happened?”

Bilgamesh raised his hand.

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“I had Ki and that was enough for me.”

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“And I was all, ‘don’t you dare lay a finger on my Bil’.”

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“You were a lot more enthusiastic back then, huh?”

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“Well, Mesopotamia back then was 100% A-OK with man-on-man stuff, so there is even surviving art showing men drinking while engaging in some ‘docking’.”

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“Why is that the topic that gets the Shinto god of knowledge to interject via divine transmission?”

She decided to write it off as another underground aspect of Shinto.

But…

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“Eshtar has a lot of stories and spread to many different regions. She was popular enough to become the patron goddess of her home’s capital city. But in the mythology, she had parents and relatives who controlled nature and creation, but she was free and not bound by such roles. So since these two are involved, it is entirely possible she came here on a whim.”

And…

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“Her primary trait – you could even call it her authority – is selfishness. Her stories are born from her uninhibited nature and, in a way, that makes her a being outside the spectrum of good and evil. Think of her as someone who thinks everything should go her way.”

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“If you ask me, this could hardly be worse. No offense to her.”

Raidou reflexively added that second line, but Sumeragi agreed with his main point.

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“I spent so many coins on her game.”

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“Like I said, I didn’t have to worry about that with the X68 version, but some of the magic had slightly different effects. Some of that worked in your favor, but some felt really unfair, so it was something of a tradeoff.”

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“Yeah, instead of playing an improved port, you wanted to play the original with the bad parts fixed, right?”

He shook the idiot’s hand.

Anyway, he had something to say here.

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“Hey, Eshita…can I call you Eshita? Or would you prefer Eshtar?”

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“Eshita is fine by me.”

Then he would go with that.

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“For now, we refuse any duels with you. We constructed a barrier and used up a lot of energy in our battle with these two, after all. If we’re going up against a major player of the 5th Generation, we want to be in top form.”

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“What, one measly battle and you can’t manage another? Is that all the Norse war god has got?”

Kuwajiri nodded at what Eshita said.

That meant this was the “selfishness” Kuwajiri had mentioned. In that case…

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“Is this a part of her personality, and not an intentional provocation?” he asked via the Revelation Boards.

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“Eh!? How is that fair!? Just because it’s ‘a part of your personality’, you don’t get to say whatever you want with no repercussions! We need to get after someone when they say something rude! What, Kuwajiri? Why are you looking at me like that!?”

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“Sumeragi-chaaan, I know you want attention, but let’s do this later, okay?”

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“Later!? Okay! But you promised! You promised to do this later!”

That condition convinced the idiot to quiet down and the conversation could continue.

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“We’re two generations after you, so wouldn’t you be shaming yourself if you picked a fight with us while we’re low on ether?”

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“Eh? No? I’d just beat the snot out of you and go home to brag about it. Shame? Only idiots pass up a chance to win over something like that. And if anyone complains, they’re just going to complain without actually doing anything about it, so those complaints are entirely meaningless.”

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“Wow, I can kinda get behind that attitude.”

Raidou understood it as well. In that case…

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“Then do you want to go fight a duel?”

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“Eh? Are you serious?”

She looked a little disturbed by that.

Did that mean she had not been serious about this? Or…

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“Sounds like she came here to do something other than fight a duel.”

That was it.

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“First, I need to do my job as an inspector,” said Eshita. “The Shinto terraforming is progressing too slowly, so I’m here to recommend removing your right to terraform.”

And…

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“I am also here to take back those two who defected to Shinto.”

Just as she said that…

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“Oh, excuse me, but I would like to interject here! Is that okay!?”

A familiar face approached.

Eshita knew who Omokane was. In fact…

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“I thought you were weirdly willing to help when I asked for directions, but you wanted to join in, didn’t you?”

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“Eh!? Omokane-san, whose side are you on!?”

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“I am on Shinto’s side.”

That was incredibly hard to believe, but that was why she was so trustworthy.

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“So as long as it benefits Shinto, you don’t care what the other groups do?”

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“Exactly right. I have no intention of sticking my head into another mythology’s business. I know that Shinto is not strong enough for that at present,” she said. “We are currently receiving assistance from the other mythologies. Forgetting that and moving to the forefront would be meaningless.”

She means that, thought Eshita.

If she could be so decisive specifically because she belonged to a weaker mythology, then there was nothing to worry about. So…

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“Where is your negotiator?”

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“You want to do it here?”

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“Do you have somewhere else in mind?”

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“Well,” said Omokane while opening a Revelation Board. And after a moment, “There is a convenience store nearby. If we use its parking lot, there will be little damage done if things get rowdy, and supplies will be readily available.”

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“Outdoors? I have a high divine rank, you know?”

Eshita spread her mouth horizontally and complained, so Omokane pointed to a shallow point in the sky.

This was the ’90s Earth sky made by Balancer.

She did not know how realistic it was, but she knew the AIs had the power to make it as realistic as possible.

So she looked in the direction Omokane pointed.

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“You can see the morning star in the virtual sky, can’t you? Isn’t that your star? Anywhere its light shines is your home, correct?”

They ended up going to the parking lot of a nearby store called FamilyMart.

I asked Kuwajiri a question while following after that bigshot god called – Eshita was it? – who had boldly taken the lead.

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“Why is that goddess wearing so much when it’s summer?”

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“Eshtar grows weaker when she removes her clothing.”

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“What in the world?”

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“A fair question.” Kuwajiri wrinkled her brow. “One of her stories has her go to the underworld ruled by her sister in order to steal that sister’s power. So her sister harassed her by stealing an article of clothing from her at each gate into the underworld.”

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“Harassed her.”

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“Yes,” confirmed Kuwajiri, causing Senpai to blush.

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“That would be a problem, wouldn’t it?”

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“It would. Now, Eshtar had all seven articles of clothing removed, leaving her naked, and she was captured in that weakened state.”

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“So was that clothing special equipment to strengthen her or something?”

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“Nothing like that is ever mentioned.”

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“Based on the cause and effect, the only possible conclusion is that stripping weakens her.”

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“Yes. So her authority makes it so she grows weaker as she removes clothing, but looking at her here, it must also work so she grows stronger as she puts on more clothing. She’s wearing more than 5 layers, isn’t she?”

It seemed like she would be hot like that, but maybe she was fine since she was a Middle Eastern god.

But then I noticed she had stopped walking. And as I wondered why…

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“Wait! I don’t know where we’re going! Why would you have me take the lead!?”

Was this goddess perhaps a moron?

They turned the corner after walking one block too far, so they arrived at FamilyMart from the back.

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“I never thought I’d be hanging out with gods in a convenience store parking lot.”

I tilted my head and Raidou-senpai spoke up.

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“Hey, at least we’re in the back so we don’t get in the way.”

The familiar way in which he pulled over a beer case to use as a chair was kind of amazing. As for Kuwajiri…

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“Move out of the way, you. I’ll set up a space for us.”

She lined up some beer cases as seats and side tables we could use.

We were surrounded by the noise of a big convenience store air conditioning unit and the…what were those things called?

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“What are those things that lure bugs in and then go zappo?”

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<Those are called electric insect killers, or more colloquially as bug zappers.>

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“You soooometimes get a rhino beetle orrrr other bug too big to die and it keeps getting zapped oooover and over.”

“You do, don’t you?” I said while Senpai and the others returned from buying some snacks.

They had apparently taught the Druaga Duo how to use money and how convenience stores worked.

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“I didn’t know this was a country where you can buy women’s underwear 24 hours a day!”

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“I am glad the horse meat on sale there was canned. I could never have gone in there again otherwise.”

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“I’ve already used them a bit, but is there anything the employees can’t do?”

They had apparently each made their own unique discoveries.

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“Well, we may be here for some negotiation or debate, but how about we start with some snacks? We had to avoid anything that melts, but I think we have all the other kinds of snacks they had available.”

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“The kind in cardboard tubes only have small paper plates when you open them, so they’re kind of hard to deal with.”

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“…”

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“What is it?”

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“Hey, um, those bags? Are you saying they have snacks in them?”

I answered by wordlessly opening a bag of Calbee Potato Chips and showing her.

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“Are you for real!? Hey, Bil! Come check this out! It’s incredible!”

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“Huh? What is this about? Keep in mind I am known as ‘he who saw all’.”

Raidou-senpai and I answered by wordlessly opening a bag of the Grilled Beef flavor and showing him.

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“What sorcery is this!? Hey, Hato! Come here! They are showcasing sorcery!”

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“Oh? Maybe for you and your ancient sensibilities. But I am more informed, so I doubt this will surprise me.”

Raidou-senpai, Shifu-senpai, and I answered by wordlessly opening a bag of the Ethnican flavor and showing her.

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“How can this be? Hold on! Show me that again! I can use it for my nighttime entertainment!”

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“What are you people wasting time on when we should be negotiating!?”

Raidou-senpai, Shifu-senpai, Kuwajiri, and I responded by wordlessly opening a bag of Karamucho and showing her.

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“…”

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“I-I knew that! I totally knew that was in there!”

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Oh, reallllly?

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“O-of course I did! How could I not!? I am the woman who stole the wisdom god’s wisdom and ran all the way back to town with it!”

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“What, are you Sazae-san?”

Hatoko-senpai laughed at that, so she must have gotten the reference.

Meanwhile, Busty Girl-senpai looked my way while getting excited about the Consommé flavor that Raidou-senpai’s group introduced her to.

She raised her upturned hands a few times, which likely meant I was free to mess with Eshtar some more, so I held a bag of chips out toward her.

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“Okay then, popular goddess who has both wisdom and beauty! I don’t know how to open this, so can you do it for me!?”

I handed it to her.

She could not open it.

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“I-I can normally open these, but I’m just having a bad day! Also, I think this bag is defective!”

She handed it to Senpai who tilted her head and opened it with ease.

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“…”

Godless senpai awate.png

Oops.

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“Calbee bags are really easy to open in the center like that, aren’t they? Other brands aren’t that well designed.”

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“Wait! How could you open that when I couldn’t!? How can a low-ranked goddess open something that a super-duper-high ranked goddess like me couldn’t!?”

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“How you couldn’t iiiis something of a mysteryyyy.”

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“She’s clumsy?”

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“Her nails are too long?”

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“She’s too old?”

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“A cultural gap.”

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“I didn’t like any of that, but who just called me old!?”

Eshtar held a hand out toward me.

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“I want a rematch! A rematch! I can do it this time, so close that bag back up!”

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“Closing it again is a little beyond our abilities.”

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“Super glue would be too strong, but I could just us small dabs of it.”

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“Oh, I have a stapler, so let’s go with that.”

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“A stapler?”

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“Yup, a stapler.”

Shifu showed it off, eliciting gasps of surprise from the Mesopotamians.

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“Are you for real?”

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“A shame it does not work with clay tablets, but still impressive.”

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“I knew about this! I did!”

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“But why do you carry a stapler with you, Shifu-senpai?”

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“I bet I know. To sew up wounds when you’re injured in a fight, right?”

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“We might be war gods, but we don’t prepare for that on a daily basis.”

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“It’s just to staple together my shopping notes. My uniform’s back pocket has way too much room, you see.”

Anyway, I handed Eshtar the bag of stapled-shut chips.

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“Here ya go.”

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“Hmph! Just you watch!”

Mesopotamian mythology’s most popular goddess began awkwardly opening a bag of chips behind a convenience store. And after a while…

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“Ow! Damn bag!”

After some cursing, she finally managed it. The bag was fairly ripped up, but…

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“How about that!? Opened it, didn’t I!? Of course I did! That was easy!”

The scattered applause from everyone else put a huge smile on her face.

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“Okay, I’ll be taking this as an offering! That’s fine, right!? I mean, look how much more you have over there!”

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“Eh?”

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“What? Are you saying I can’t?”

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“Eh? Ahhhhh, no, um, you can if you want. Go ahead.”

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“Hm? Senpai, what has you so flustered?”

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“Well,” she said with her shoulders drooping a little. “It’s just that Karamucho is your favorite snack.”

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“Eh?”

I carelessly expressed my confusion and everyone fell silent for a moment. And eventually…

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“…”

Godless senpai.png

“…”

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“…”

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Ah!

Shifu-senpai placed an arm around Senpai’s shoulder.

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“Hey, Senpai-chan, let’s have a chat about this later on, okay?”

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“Wait, wait, wait, wait! I, but, um, I didn’t mean, um, uh.”

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“Not to worry, Senpai! I will eat Karamucho for every meal from now on! And I’ll buy up Koikeya stock to drive up the stock prices!”

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“Eh!? What’s this? Is it about love!? I’m a goddess of love, so let me hear all about it!”

She was a more casual goddess than expected, so we explained the situation to her. And…

Godless eshita.png

“This stuff, right!?”

She grabbed a 100g bag of Karamucho from the “pile o’ snacks” we had made.

Then she quickly moved back to her beer case chair.

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“This is that human’s good luck item for love, right!? If you want this back so your love will come true, then give me everything I want in the upcoming negotiation!”

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“But they sell those at every convenience store and supermarket.”

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“They sell love-fulfilling items in stores in this country!?”

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“I’m gonna be eating that for every meal now, so of course they sell them everywhere.”

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“Sumeragi-chan, she’s surprisingly pure, so maybe you should stop lying to her.”

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“I’m not lying! I’m really gonna eat Karamucho for every meal!”

I noticed Eshtar was raising her hand. And of all things…

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“Then am I allowed to eat this since I’m a goddess of love?”

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“Yeah, knock yourself out. We’ve got other snacks over here.”

Hearing that, she reached for the bag and then stopped.

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“…”

After a moment, she walked over to me with unopened bag in hand.

And with a big smile…

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Open it for me!

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“There’s no perhaps about it anymore. Even if I’m being generous, this major ancient goddess is definitely a moron.”

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“You don’t get to call anyone that.”

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“Yeah, but I think I see why she’s so popular.”

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“I am so sorry.”

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“Do you see why I want to keep that innocent moron away from my partner? I can’t have him catching her dumbness.”

But what were we to do?

I watched as everyone settled in there.

There were three rows of beer case chairs and side tables.

With Eshtar in front of it all, the first row had the Druaga Duo and Omokane-senpai. There was an empty seat there, so I could guess there was someone they wanted to join them. Maybe me!

The second and third rows were arranged more like a circle with beer cases gathered in the center like a table. That was where all the snacks and drinks were.

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“We’re pretty obviously treating this like a spectator sport, aren’t we?”

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“Hey, there’s not much for us to do here.”

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“If anything, Shifu and I are like witnesses. Kuwajiri, you use your knowledge to help out.”

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“Understood. But who is the Shinto negotiator?”

Just as Kuwajiri asked that, we heard a voice from the front of the Family Mart.

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“Excuse me! I will be participating as the negotiator!”

I recognized the voice I heard and person I saw.

It was the underclassman who had been with Scareko-senpai at the bathhouse before.

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“I am Sugawara Tenma! It is a pleasure to meet you!”

Tenma was fairly excited.

She had made sure her summer uniform was impeccable and she pulled a folding fan and a pen set from her pocket in place of a notepad. She also checked on the large and small swords at her hip.

Godless tenma.png

This is a negotiation with a major god! How exciting!

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“Sugawara-kouhai, do you think you can do this?”

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“I do. I was a politician in my past life, after all.”

Yes. Unlike the other gods, she was a human who had become a god, so she had inherited some realistic skills along with her authority. In her case, those were mostly politics related.

Godless tenma.png

“When looking after the imperial palace and while demoted and sent into exile, I handled my fair share of international negotiations. I may have been defeated in power struggles where connections are king, but that is a different beast from politics and negotiations. Simply put, I can handle both knowledge and combat and I can perform both politics and negotiations. I am a multitasking god.”

Godless shinobu.png

“Ohh, with all that going for you, it’s even more amazing you had room to cram dealing with a major ancient god in there. Anyway, here’s part of your payment up front.”

She handed Tenma a box of Potelong. And…

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“Um, Tenma-san, I thought you would need a stand, so I made one for you by stacking two beer cases.”

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“There are empty bottles in the bottom one, but don’t let it bother you. That was all we had.”

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“Makes you look like a heavy drinkerrrr.”

Wait.

Godless bokuonna.png

“And if you’re thirsty, you can’t go wrong with a Sangaria Hiyashi Ame.”

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“Um, excuse me.”

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“I really, really don’t want to answer any questions right now, but I feel sorry for you, so go ahead.”

Those Norse gods scared her, but she forced herself to actually ask her question.

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“Um, I heard the inspector was here and we were holding a negotiation concerning the Shinto terraforming, but what is all this?”

She asked her primary question while viewing the informal party where they had even opened up some canned yakitori.

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“Where is my negotiating partner?”

Everyone answered by looking back behind her.

In the seat facing the rest, heavily-dressed Eshtar was munching on Karamucho.

Godless eshita.png

“Damn, this stuff is good! …So what’s up? Are we doing this meeting, or what?”

Godless tenma.png

“Wow, there goes all of my excitement!”

Can I really handle this?

Interlude[edit]

Godless gil.png

“I am so sorry.”

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“Oh, um, I am sorry too.”


Chapter 29: Blockout 01[edit]

Godless 1B 151.jpg

Is she okay?

Hmm


Hatoko liked the ginger ale she tried.

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I need to buy some more before I leave.

Back home during the mythological age, there had been no ginger. Same with sugar.

There had been beer, but it had not used hops and lacked any bitterness. It had been more like a sweet drink and had actually been a little like this ginger ale, but…

Godless pigeon.png

This ginger stuff gives the drink a nice sharp flavor!

Unlike ancient times, her home had received some imported herbs during her virtual manifestation. Ginger had been one of them and they had received sugar too, so she was pretty sure they could make this.

But that would be risky. The sugar was especially risky. Sugar had been too powerful for her back when the only sweetness she had known came from honey, fruits, or glucose syrup made from fermented wheat. The rapid importation of sugar had led to most people having more bountiful weights.

In other words, I need to lose some weight.

Oh, but it’s best to have a little extra weight, right? This can work. Or maybe not.

But back to the ginger ale. The balance between sweet and sharp was nice. Canada, huh? Where’s that? She looked it up and found it was a long way from her home. It probably belonged to the 8th generation mythologies or later, so she wondered if her mythology could surround it and take control of all the ginger ale.

On the other hand, the convenience stores seemed good enough. She hoped one of those Seven Elevens would open in the Mesopotamian virtual manifestation world.

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“Balancer, when do these convenience stores reach the Middle East? Around 1500 BC by any chance?”

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<Unfortunately, Seven Eleven only opens stores within the UAE starting in 2015.>

Godless pigeon.png

“How awful. How am I supposed to last another 25 years?”

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“Defect! You can defect! Go for it!”

The Norse goddess made it sound so simple, but she was planning to stay here a while longer on a whim. However, she had not requested to defect. The upcoming political dealings would probably influence their decision on this. So…

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“Eshtar, are you ready to do your inspector job?”

Eshtar liked the Karamucho she had tried.

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I can see why that human said she would eat these for every meal!

What are these even made of? The back of the bag says potatoes, but…potatoes? What’re potatoes? My Revelation Board says that’s a crop from America, but…America? Where the hell is America? My Revelation Board says that’s a new continent, but…a new continent?

Godless eshita awate.png

How am I supposed to know what happened 3000 years after my time!?

Karamucho seemed to come around 500 years after that, but that was a separate issue.

Oh, but you don’t really have to pay attention to the outside world during your virtual manifestation. So it isn’t my fault I didn’t know about potatoes! Of course I didn’t know!

Still, these things are good. And there’s still a big bag of them, so this might just be the best day ever.

Godless pigeon.png

“Um, Eshtar?”

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“What!? Do I get another bag!?”

Hatoko gave her a bottle, so she chugged it.

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“It’s so good! What is this!? Ginger!?”

Godless pigeon.png

“Yes, well, it was from Omokane over there.”

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“A gift!? At least someone knows how to treat me! Now, what else!?”

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“Oh, we have a big bag of Karamucho. And some napkins.”

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“How thoughtful! What mythology are you from!?”

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“You have to ask!? This is Senpai we’re talking about! Just look at those boobs and try again!”

Eshita had no idea what that was about, but the girl who gave her the Karamucho answered the question.

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“U-um, I am Shinto.”

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“Shinto!? Then you’re the one’s I’m inspecting! So what’s this!? Trying to bribe me with Karamucho!?”

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“Um, will it work?”

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“Wow! These are so good! I could get hooked on them!”

Bribing an official? For shame.

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“Man! If you were some random spirit instead of a Shinto god, I would’ve ranked you up to a ‘god of giving Karamucho’!”

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“…”

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“Is Mesopotamian mythology really that casual about this stuff?”

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“I am so sorry.”

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“I think Eshtar is especially special in this case.”

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“To add to that, Mesopotamian mythology is a polytheistic religion with more than 2100 gods over the entire area and time period it was followed. So it seems fine to me for one of those to be a ‘god of giving Karamucho’ or a ‘god of giving Ethnican’.”

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“Oh! Ethnican! You like Calbee, don’t you!?”

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“To add more to that, the stories in Mesopotamian mythology get more and more casual as time goes on. With Bil and me, it reaches a point where fanfiction would be taking it more seriously.”

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<To add even more to that, Karamucho came out in ’84, Ethnican came out in ’86, and ‘super spicy’ won the new word award in ’86. That should be enough to introduce these gods to this era.>

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Ethnican!? You mean there’s more!?

What was I doing here again? wondered Eshtar while accepting an opened bag labeled “grilled beef”.

She paused to help her remember. And then…

Godless eshita awate.png

“Hey! You’re trying to win me over with food, aren’t you!? Well, it won’t work!”

Godless bokuonna.png

“What if we threw in this Polinky that just came out the other day?”

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“Wow! These are so good! The combination of sweet and salty is- wait, no!”

She noticed someone in the other group had their hand raised.

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“What is it!? You have your hand up, so speak your mind!”

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“Um, I’m supposed to be the negotiator, so when are we going to hold the actual negotiation?”

Everyone fell silent.

They all glared at Eshtar, so she knew exactly what to say.

Godless eshita awate.png

“It’s not my fault!”

Anyway, thought Eshtar while taking a breath and wiping off her hands with the wet wipes she had someone open for her.

Godless eshita.png

“Then let’s get down to business. I would like to keep this short.”

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“Understood.”

Then…

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“First of all, explain the delays in the terraforming.”

Godless tenma.png

“Very well,” replied the negotiator. “Shinto’s terraforming of this planet is in fact progressing on schedule. You could even say we are ahead of schedule. If you heard of any delays, there must have been some kind of miscommunication.”

Eshtar lightly tilted her head at that sudden counterattack.

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What kind of claim is that?

But that was fine. These differences of opinion were the entire reason for sending an inspector, so she knew what she had to say here.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“What? You’re saying there are no delays?”

And the claim of being ahead of schedule was utterly absurd.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“You are clearly behind schedule. Four months have passed in this divine world, but you have only created a 300 square meter patch of land.”

She opened a Revelation Board that showed the terraforming records of the other planets.

She checked the timeline for the first four months and displayed the models of the planets at that time.

Godless eshita.png

“The planet done by Yomoji over there was almost entirely complete at the four month mark. And the planets done by those Norse gods and by the other forces had the surface almost entirely complete by four months. This is the only planet that has not done that. Care to explain?”

Godless tenma.png

“There is nothing to explain. But if I must, I would say that this is normal.”

The negotiator made a bold claim.

Godless tenma.png

“Terraforming is a time-consuming process.”

Tenma thought this should be viewed as a problem to be solved.

Godless tenma.png

When you encounter a problem, you must determine what it is and work toward a solution.

It was inefficient to start throwing around accusations when you encountered a problem.

After all, personnel and time were limited resources.

So even if this inspector was far above her rank, she had to say this.

Godless tenma.png

“First of all, the Shinto group sent to this planet is primarily made up of Earthly Gods. We do have three Heavenly Gods, but the other sixteen, including me, are either Earthly Gods or humans made into gods. There is a large difference in the number of gods and the overall divine rank of the gods sent here when compared to the other planets.”

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“What even is divine rank?”

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“Well,” said Raidou-senpai in response to my question. “It generally refers to the extent of your sovereignty, your number of worshipers, and the historical rank associated with that.”

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“Sovereignty? Historical rank?”

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<The extent of a god’s sovereignty refers to how much space they can control in relation to their authority. In other words, it refers to the space they have control over using their authority. The authority connection means it is calculated based on a residential space since that will have the most authority links.>

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“It ranks their sphere of control and can be broken out into different levels: World, Space, Heaven, Planet, Realm, Region, Country, Metropolis, City, Town, Village, House, Room, Hidden, and Empty.”

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“You look awfully proud of yourself for rattling of a list of units that make no sense.”

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<Now, now.> Balancer shook their screen downwards. <At Empty, they have a divine rank of 0. They exist as a unique being, but they have only just come into being and are much like a spirit. As they grow, they reach the title of Hidden at a divine rank of 1. The difference between 0 and 1 seems simple, but it is crucially important. It is the difference between being mere ether and having a mind of your own.>

Godless bokuonna.png

“Sorry, I still don’t get it. Is it like when you first become aware of the opposite sex?”

Godless raidou.png

“If that’s what it takes for you to understand it, then go with that.”

I decided to go with that.

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“I think I get the ones like room, house, and village. Is it using SimCity rules?”

Godless raidou.png

“Yeah, more or less. It measures the extent of the space you can control. ‘Room’ means a diameter of a meter.”

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“So by room, we mean a bathroom.”

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“There are other rooms that size. Like a closet. So at 1m, you could say it is more like a closet than a room. At that level, we’re talking about a guardian deity of a closet or something. And once you reach House, you have a diameter of 10m.”

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“Woo hoo! That’s like three stories tall. That’s a pretty big house!”

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“Anyway, Village is a radius of 100m. Do you notice a pattern yet?”

I thought about the numbers I had just heard. House was 10m and Village was 100m.

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“It’s going up by powers of 10.”

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“Yes, so the next one is 1000.”

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“Town is 1000m or 1km. City is 10km, Metropolis is 100km, Country is 1000km, Region is 10,000km, Realm is 100,000km, Planet is 1,000,000km, Heaven is 10,000,000km, Space is 100,000,000km, and World is 1,000,000,000km. The numbers don’t really mean all that much on the upper end there.”

I tried imagining it, but…

Godless bokuonna.png

“What is all that based on?”

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“The World class has a one billion kilometer sphere of control and the shortest distance between Earth and Saturn is more than 1.2 billion, so it’s about that much.”

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<Ancient humans were capable of observing Saturn as the furthest planet from Earth, so that was effectively the extent of the ‘world’ they would have thought of a god as creating.>

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“Then,” I said. “If we had someone with that vast a sphere of control, couldn’t we just get them to do the terraforming?”

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“When you control that much, you also have to maintain control of it all.”

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“Yes. Gods with vast areas of control must maintain those areas and also maintain the other gods living there, so they have trouble staying in the black as it is. Our own authorities are constantly being drained to preserve the laws of this world, so we cannot act at our full power either. Our available power is reduced considerably.”

Godless yomoji.png

“Thaaaat’s right,” said Yomoji-senpai. “I’ve got a Worrrrld class divine rank, but maintaining eeeeverything eats up a lot of power. I mean, I’ve got to supporrrrt an entire world on my owwwwn. The initial planet was easy, but then I got anotherrrr planet, and now this plaaaace? There will probably be morrrre, so I have to leave some roooom to spare.”

Godless balancer.png

<Yes, there are some gods like Yomoji who are legit World class, but other mythologies have gods that “feel like” World class because they can act like one over a smaller area but actually have a lower divine rank. And with multiple World class gods, they have to strike a balance between each other, which can use up even more power than just maintaining their world.>

Godless kuwajiri.png

“That is why the DC chooses who they send to help with the terraforming. Our seemingly World class gods are actually at the Realm level, so we could be in trouble if an actual World class shows up.”

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“Shinto’s World class gods have been sealed away using reserved manifestations, so that’s another way we’re at a disadvantage.”

I had a thought about all this.

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“That’s a lotta politics.”

And as usual, what I thought also left my mouth.

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“I bet there are a lot of problems with overlapping control areas between gods.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“That is why we make careful adjustments during the terraforming. Of course, if we don’t try to ‘control’ anything, we don’t use our powers and we don’t have anything to maintain, so we can just exist there without causing any problems other than our passive influence on events.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“So is it like doing anything at all puts you in the red?”

Godless raidou.png

“No, gods at our rank can shove a lot of the ‘maintaining stuff’ part to the gods with higher ranks, letting us act more freely. …But you know how we created a combat field to fight in earlier? The four of us together only covered about 10km. We’re allowed to go nuts inside there and we’re doing just fine afterwards, but my divine rank is actually at the Region level. Can you see how much the maintenance, buffering, and restraint takes off the top now?”

Godless shinobu.png

“The buffering is the worst of it all. You end up paying that where you least expect it.”

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“I know what you mean. I’m at the Village class, but I still get a lot taken away from buffering against local gods and spirits.”

They were now just swapping complaints.

I was hardly one to talk, but it felt like we weren’t making any progress. Oh, does that make me clever? Well, I’d better ask about it to show how clever I am.

Godless bokuonna.png

“Anyway, to keep the conversation moving, what was that historical rank you mentioned before?”

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“Oh, that.”

The Druaga guy raised his hand.

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“I was originally at the Country level, but the things I do in the myths put me at the Region level. That is your historical rank. You can think of it like a correction made between generations. If you take a 5th generation god like me and a 7th generation god like those Norse ones over there, the historical rank correction would make me twice as powerful even if our original rank was the same.”

Godless ki.png

“In that previous battle, our ranks were bumped up from Country to Region while the Norse couple had to make up for that x2 difference.”

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“I am honestly impressed they managed to win.”

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“I see. So what about Miss Karamucho over there? What’s her divine rank?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Well,” said Kuwajiri. “She is normally ranked at the Region level, but her mythology correction puts her at the Realm class. She of course has a lot of that taken away by maintaining that realm, but in terms of the pure power difference, no one here is capable of beating her. In a physical fight, we would have to rely on compatibility or on strategic use of our authorities. Those two would be in trouble since they just got done fighting a battle.”

Godless raidou.png

“If you ask us to do it, we’d still win. I’m a war god, so I’ll always fight no matter how outmatched I am and I’ll make sure I find some value in that fight.”

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“I know that and I do trust you, but we have a better option here.”

Namely…

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“The DC’s mythologies are willing to negotiate in order to preserve their pride. We must take advantage of that. If fighting is necessary, it can come later.”

Tenma waited for the divine rank lecture to conclude behind her and then bowed toward Eshtar.

Godless tenma.png

“I do apologize. There is a lot we have yet to reach a consensus on.”

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“That’s fine. I don’t mind it much myself. …But what do you mean your overall divine rank is low?”

Godless tenma.png

“I have a document on it right here.”

She displayed the level up status of the Shinto gods on a Revelation Board.

Godless tenma.png

“The gods of the other mythologies start off at a decent level by using their ancestry, but Shinto was not allowed to do that and we must start at a low level.”

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“But you can level up quickly using that human, can’t you?”

Godless tenma.png

There it is, thought Tenma. Bilgamesh was right. They do want to take the human for themselves, don’t they?

That told her what Eshtar would argue.

Godless tenma.png

“Shinto is not making full use of the human.”

So they would take the human from Shinto.

Tenma wanted to test this.

Godless scare.png

“What do you make of what she’s saying, Tenma-kun?” asked Scarecrow on her Revelation Board.

Godless tenma.png

“I think I will face this head on in order to test her.”

How deep did this go? She threw out some words like throwing a stone into a pond.

Godless tenma.png

“Something unexpected occurred after introducing the human to the terraforming.”

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“Oh? And what is that?”

Godless tenma.png

“Well,” she said. “The human dies more easily and more unexpectedly than we ever imagined.”

I saw everyone looking at me.

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“What!? What’s all this!? Are we starting a new surveillance society!? Or did you finally notice my hidden charm now that I’m a girl!? That must be it! Yomoji-senpai, tell me what makes me so cute!”

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“Baaaack when I had a bit of an ego, I got a biiiit salty with a worshiper who kept asking for praise, so I turned them into sallllt.”

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“Wow! That is salty! But what’s that got to do with anything!?”

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“It is true you tend to die unexpectedly. Now that I think about it.”

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“Wait! I’m the dainty heroine! I’m always having to take a seat because I’ve worn myself out! But I also lose my temper a lot! That gap is what makes me so great! So what’s wrong with that!? I get that being dainty means I can die easy, but what’s this unexpectedly nonsense!?”

Godless shinobu.png

“Who was it again that ran out into the road and got hit by a dump truck?”

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“Wow, what kind of moron did that? You always want to look both ways before crossing the street, right? I mean, if there’s a busty girl waiting for the light next to you, that’s your chance to look over at her chest while still following all the rules! Oh, but if you were standing next to me, Kuwajiri, I might forget to look both ways! Or would you prefer I did!? You would, wouldn’t you!?”

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“What am I supposed to do with this idiot?”

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“U-um, does this mean I need to make sure I’m standing next to Sumeragi-kun whenever she crosses the street?”

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“Ha ha ha. I knew we had gods to protect travelers, but I never knew it worked like that.”

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“Omokane-san? You need to stop talking.”

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<Come to think of it, if Senpai-san was on the other side of the street, that ape would probably shout something weird and run right into traffic.>

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“I do not shout weird things! What if Senpai were to hear me!? That’s why I always shout it outside of the audible range!”

Godless ki.png

“Are you some kind of monster?”

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“Even more concerning is the thought of what happens if Senpai-san is on the opposite platform at the train station.”

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“Yeah! Leaping out in front of train sounds like an awful way to die!”

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“I was more thinking of the hundreds of thousands of Tokyo residents whose commute would be delayed.”

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“Waiiiiiiiiiiit, Kuwajiri! You’re not doing this right! You’ve gotta be clearer about what you mean or I sound like an idiot!”

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“…”

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“Is it always like this here?”

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“I’m so sorry.”

Everyone seems to be having fun, thought Tenma while everyone squabbled behind her.

But she had a job to do, so she had said what had to be said.

Godless tenma.png

The human dies easily.

That meant two things for the gods.

First, it meant humans were weaker when compared to the gods.

Second, it meant that humans were weak creatures in and of themselves.

The former was a simple matter.

While the gods could descend to the real planet during the terraforming, humans would be killed instantly if the environment was not adapted to them the instant they appeared.

Phase compatibilities could make it hard for the gods at times, but they would not be killed instantly. It helped a lot that their very existence was a phase and a mold, so they automatically erected their own field.

They were a lot more physically durable.

Gods were weak at first when their divine rank was at Empty, but once they reached Hidden or above, they rapidly grew stronger.

The existence of a phase was what mattered most. Gods had one and humans did not.

Then there was the latter meaning.

Godless tenma.png

Humans are weak creatures.

She could tell that much when comparing her life as a god to her life as a human. She would no longer die if she was hit by a dump truck. She might be sent flying, but she would just roll around for a bit and be fine.

The rules were different.

And that comparison said that humans were effectively weaker.

The DC did not understand that fact.

They lacked the experience.

So how would the DC handle this?

Tenma heard Eshita speak after placing a hand on her chin and thinking for a moment.

Godless eshita.png

“We already knew humans were weaklings, didn’t we?”

Godless tenma.png

“Yes, but it was worse than expected.”

She had to explain this so the DC would recognize that the weakness of humanity was greater than expected and so she could justify the delays to the terraforming.

Godless tenma.png

“The human has already died and been rolled back twelve times. A simple calculation tells us that twelve times in four months means dying once every ten days. Also, the human loses some of their memories with each rollback. They must be reeducated about the terraforming each time to prepare them.”

Godless eshita.png

“I have a question out of simple curiosity.”

Eshita made it clear this was not an official question.

Godless eshita.png

“Can’t you change the settings there? How about giving them some divine protections so they’re more durable?”

Godless tenma.png

“Then they would exceed the bounds of humanity. The human assisting with the terraforming can be created by the gods, but they cannot exceed the bounds of humanity.”

Godless eshita.png

“What would happen if they did?”

Godless tenma.png

“Any changes at a fundamental level would mean they no longer count as human. At best, they would be considered half-god, half-human.”

I noticed Senpai had fallen silent.

No, she had already been silent, but what was this? It was like her presence had shrunk. Her boobs were still as big as ever, but it was like she had a flat-chested presence now. Like she had grown more docile.

Godless bokuonna.png

“What’s wrong, Senpai?”

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“Oh, um, it’s nothing.”

Just as she replied, Mr. Bil raised his hand. He somehow made it look like a solemn act. It was honestly impressive.

Godless gil.png

“What would happen if divine protections or whatever caused the human to no longer count as human?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Temporary buffs from divine protections or authorities count as a blessing given from their god based on their worship. Those are accepted as normal. Otherwise, no human could ever descend to the planet for the terraforming.”

Kuwajiri explained.

Godless kuwajiri.png

“But if the divine protection or authority is more powerful and it permanently changes something about that human, they will have become superior to the rest of the species and will count as a half-god, half-human.”

Godless ki.png

“That’s what we are. We were given power, so we don’t count as truly human,” said the busty girl. “You can’t do that with every human. There’s no going back after that change, right?”

Godless omokane.png

“Correct,” confirmed Omokane-senpai. “So we have some insurance in place just in case.”

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“Insurance?”

Tenma nodded at Eshtar’s comment.

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“The partner system. Everything is set up so the partner god’s divine protections and authorities will only affect their individual partner and that partner’s actions. Thus, if the partner god does give the human power exceeding the bounds of humanity, it only means the end for the partner. It will not affect the rest of the humans sleeping until the terraforming is complete.”

The human remained normal so far.

And with that explained…

Godless tenma.png

“The human must participate in the terraforming as a mere human. The partner system is being used to ensure they remain in that position while the work is completed, so the current level of progress is in fact according to schedule.”

Godless eshita.png

“Is that so?”

Eshtar smiled in a way that showed no emotion.

And then she spoke.

Godless eshita.png

“But you are in fact behind schedule.”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Listen.” Eshita looked to all of them. “No matter how you try to excuse it, you are behind schedule according to the initial predictions you sent us. I don’t care what your reasons for this pace are.”

So she asked a question.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Do you have a solution for this problem?”

Godless omokane.png

“Are you suggesting we strengthen our human past the bounds of humanity?”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Can you do that?”

Godless omokane.png

“We could if we wanted to. We just do not want to.”

The Shinto Representative gave an oddly bright smile.

Godless omokane.png

“Listen. I doubt we will ever decide to do that, but if we did, our terraforming here with the human would effectively be a failure. So…”

Eshita looked to the human behind her.

Godless bokuonna.png

“Yessssss! I will always be meeeeeee! Wait, what was that!? Some weird expression of adolescence!?”

She ignored her.

That idiot was not who she had to focus on. Omokane was.

Noticing her gaze, Omokane nodded.

Godless omokane.png

“If we ended up failing like that and we received approval from the DC, we would make a new human and redo it all. And if we did not receive approval…well, the entire terraforming project would count as a failure and we would probably have our rights stripped from us. I just want to make sure the other mythologies are aware of that.”

Godless senpai komari.png

Yeah, I thought. What are we even supposed to do?

Godless eshita.png

So that’s what they’re doing, thought Eshita while munching on some Karamucho. They’re taking the human hostage.

Terraforming with a human introduced several advantages and problems.

The most direct was the leveling up provided by the human’s worship.

On their own, gods could only train themselves up, but respect from humans could improve them from the outside. That doubled their efficiency and broke through the upper limits.

Eshita was from the 5th generation. Her generation was effectively the top of the currently existing gods, but it was true some of the later generations were catching up. The support of a human would provide an advantage there.

The DC had wanted to run an experiment on a human’s effects using Shinto since they were not strictly part of any generation and had a low divine rank.

And that was what they had done.

But Shinto was taking advantage of that.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“If that human ceases to be human, the introduction of a human will be deemed a failure, huh?”

Godless tenma.png

“Yes, the human’s frequent deaths are one cause for the terraforming delays. But if the human’s partner boosts their power more than necessary, they will cease to be human.”

So…

Godless tenma.png

“We have no intention of doing that. Even if we are technically falling behind schedule, we view it as the unavoidable result of the circumstances.”

The negotiator made her point.

Eshita thought using the partner system as insurance was a good idea.

It prevented all of humanity from being made partially divine either by accident or by some mischievous god.

But that allowed Shinto to make another claim.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“So you’re saying you can’t be blamed for the delays because you need to protect the human while terraforming?”

Godless tenma.png

“Yes. Asking us to strengthen the human to speed things up would be mixing up our priorities.”

She was a bold one.

To put that another way…

Godless eshita shinken.png

“The delays to the terraforming schedule are due to the human’s frequent rollbacks. Are you implying this is the human’s responsibility?”

Eshita understood where this was headed. She knew what Shinto was trying to say.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“You’re using the human as a shield to protect Shinto’s terraforming, aren’t you?”

She directed the question at Omokane, who did not respond.

She took that as confirmation, so she said more.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“But what if the DC tries to take the human from you?”

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“Take them from us? Are you sure you can do that?”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“I’m saying I could challenge you to a duel right here.”

Godless omokane.png

“Not what I meant.” The Shinto Representative waved a hand dismissively. “Remember the partner system? Sumeragi-kouhai’s partner – and thus the target of her worship – is that girl right over there. Taking Sumeragi-kouhai from us will not change the target of her worship. And if you were to try to cancel the partner system…”

Godless senpai awate.png

“…!?”

Godless bokuonna.png

“I’d flip out!”

Eshita heard a voice.

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“Huh!? Do you wanna know what happens if you try to cut my bonds with Senpai!? I’d go ask some god for a sensory transfer spell and transfer the feeling of using moxibustion in my asshole to your asshole!”

Godless omokane.png

“Are you sure you want to do that? I’m pretty sure that would leave a mark on your asshole.”

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“Eh? Um, um?”

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“What are you even talking about!?”

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“I see,” sighed Raidou. “Omokane is really only after one thing here.”

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“Is it that Shinto wins in the end no matter what?”

Exactly right.

If it did end in failure, Shinto’s losses would be kept to a minimum.

And the partner system provided insurance for Shinto on top of that.

If need be, she was willing to use Sumeragi as a shield to pull it off.

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“So no matter what happens, she’s using the human’s presence like she was given a hostage.”

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“So if you change your point of view, this double bind that forces them to sacrifice someone can also be seen as a double bind that protects that someone?”

Raidou was not sure about that.

Could this really be seen as protecting Sumeragi?

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“A double bind!? What’s that!? Is it when you do bondage on the top and bottom!? Ahhhn!”

That idiot needs to shut up.

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“This is the worst thing about Omokane-san.”

Scarecrow was lost in thought.

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Using the human’s presence as insurance for the human is fine, but she feels a need to add more nastiness on top of that.

She used it to protect Shinto.

She used it to guide Shinto to victory.

Because Shinto was so powerless, she would use every means available to them.

Those were all advantages Omokane had planned for by introducing the partner system.

The DC and the other gods had not tested to see what actually happened when a human was introduced to the terraforming, so Shinto had a lot of authority on the subject.

They were the only ones who could determine through direct experience if the experiment had been a success or a failure.

What if?

What if the time came to make that decision?

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No matter what the DC says, we can say quite clearly that it was a failure.

It did not matter if the DC rejected that.

There would be mythologies that opposed the DC and there would be those who used Shinto’s decision as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the DC.

If that happened, Omokane would do everything she could to convince the other mythologies that terraforming with a human was dangerous and an abject failure.

Then the DC could not use the terraforming as an excuse to claim the human for themselves.

Omokane was currently threatening to do just that.

She had also used the partner system to fix Sumeragi’s worship on a specific god.

The DC could try to remove that worship, but it was unlikely to go well. After all…

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“Sumeragi-kun is a serious worshiper of Senpai-san.”

She felt like maybe she should not smile while saying that.

But all of this was unfair to Sumeragi.

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“Our strategy here is to proclaim we are throwing out the human while also protecting both the Shinto terraforming and the human.”

She had to wonder why they were doing something so risky, but that was just how Omokane was.

Was it possible Omokane was actually an evil god?

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Now, this is evil, thought Eshita in awe. They’re trying to bind us with our own words.

The trick here was to restrict the DC with the DC’s own demands.

If they demanded that Shinto hand over the human, Omokane would claim that using the human was a failure and thus humans had to be eliminated from all future terraforming work.

But Eshita had a question about that.

So she asked about it.

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“One question,” she began. “If things go south for you, you plan on declaring the human a failure in order to protect everything for yourself, right?”

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“No, not at all.”

She really was a bold one.

But Eshita decided to ask further.

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“Let’s see if I have this right.”

Eshita chose to restate things, including the concessions that had been made.

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“The delays to the Shinto terraforming were due to protecting the human, right?”

She would accept that reason.

Otherwise, they would use the human as a shield.

The DC only wanted the human, so it was best not to make any choices that would harm the human.

So she made a concession there.

The delays to the Shinto terraforming was not enough reason to take the human from them.

But, she thought.

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“There is one thing I must ask you.”

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“What is that?”

Oh, this was a simple matter.

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“You said the partner system is a safety measure to avoid turning all the humans into half-gods, right? But that’s the thing.”

She asked her question.

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“That goddess there has a really low divine rank, so I doubt it’s even possible for her spells or divine protections to permanently strengthen that human beyond the bounds of humanity.”

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“Eh? Um, uh.”

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“Well? Am I right?”

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“Hey! Mucho! Don’t bully Senpai! You think I’m letting you get away with that!? Okay, Raidou-senpai! Go get her!”

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“While that is my role here, try to think more politically.”

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“Who are you calling Mucho!?”

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“Calm down,” said the human’s partner goddess. “It is true I do not have that kind of power at the moment.”

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“A good response.”

She implied things would change in that regard.

Nothing could sound more wonderful coming from the one and only god with a human worshiper.

Eshita had been like that in her memories of her nonexistent life in the Earth Age.

But that line also established something.

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“Answer me this.”

She asked a question.

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“That partner god cannot strengthen the human very much at the moment, so why do you claim the partner system functions as a safety measure?”

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“Why do you think?”

That was not an answer, but she was pretty sure she knew the answer already.

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“That goddess has some kind of divine protection or authority that could affect all of humanity, doesn’t she?”

She had to check on this.

If it was true, then this was a double hostage situation.

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“The rollbacks are to blame for the delayed schedule and the partner god’s power could affect all of humanity. …You are not making these negotiations easy for me.”

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“What is so difficult about this?”

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“If we try to take the human from you over the delays or any other reason, the partner god’s power could activate and render all the humans unusable. It’s like negotiating while holding a bomb.”

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“Indeed, indeed,” said Omokane while gesturing toward the goddess who Eshita had considered recruiting as a Karamucho goddess. “Do you want to know what her power is?”

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“I would. So what is it? Is she really that powerful a god?”

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“Yes.” Omokane nodded. “As you have guessed, her power can affect all of humanity.”

And…

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“The partner system only limits her divine protections and authority in regards to humanity. Those things can still reach us gods. Otherwise, she could not protect herself if another god attacked her and she could not receive support from other gods either.”

That meant her authority could affect Eshita.

After making that point clear, the Shinto Representative spoke with a smile.

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“If she is serious about it, then it does not matter who her opponent is. It could be me, you, anyone else on the DC, or even a 0th generation god. That is just who she is.”

This whole topic was not fun for me, but Sumeragi-kun turned toward me with a light in her eyes.

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“Senpai!? Do you have the authority to make all of humanity busty!? If so, can you make me busty so I can simulate feeling your boobs!?”

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“Eh? Eh?”

Shifu-san was standing behind Sumeragi-kun, so she slapped her on the cheek.

Eshita saw the human roll about 70m along the ground and then run back over with a huge grin.

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“Yahoo! Standing between two busty goddesses and getting slapped from behind is the best! This makes the whole life thing worth it!”

What was she even talking about?

But regardless, this was dangerous.

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“I’m going to keep this simple since I’m getting fed up with it all, but what if I said Shinto’s methods were unacceptable?”

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“Yes, I can see that you feel that way. But as long as it remains a warning, we will still have permission to continue. So I must determine what exactly you mean when you say this is ‘unacceptable’.”

Simply put…

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“We will use a Japanese negotiating method since Japan is the homeland of Shinto. How ‘regrettable’ do you find this turn of events? That is the fastest way to confirm the seriousness of your statement and for us to find a compromise.”

Eshita nodded at that.

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I said I wanted to keep this simple, so why is she making this way more complicated!?

This was part of her strategy.

This younger girl was acting as the actual negotiator, but this must have been set up before the negotiations even began.

She was discussing the supplementary topics to see how much she could steer this in Shinto’s favor.

That meant “negotiating” with her was meaningless. It would only wear away Eshita’s own footing.

So she knew what to say.

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“Then let’s establish some common ground here.”

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“What might that be?”

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“The terraforming has been delayed, hasn’t it?”

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“It has.”

She accepted that much. That settled it.

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“I’m sure you have your excuses, but you had our trust when you began terraforming, didn’t you? First, you must take responsibility for breaking that trust.”

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“She’s shifting the blame again,” said Scarecrow in her own library.

The Shinto strategy was the one Omokane had thought up: ensuring that Shinto won in the end.

So whenever they ran into trouble, they had to arm themselves with arguments that would leave Shinto blameless.

They would place responsibility on someone other than Shinto and negotiate from that perspective. However…

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“She is treating the issue of responsibility as separate from our excuses.”

Shinto was not at fault.

It had been an unpredictable accident.

But their failure nevertheless remained.

Eshtar’s voice arrived via divine transmission.

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“Shouldn’t a businessperson predict what could happen and submit a schedule that accounts for the worst case scenario? Even if that means they submit a slower initial schedule than the others?”

And…

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“You failed to contact us when you ran into these delays. …Although I will admit contacting us would have led to an inspector like me being sent out immediately. But that was a bad move. This means you knew about the delays yet you failed to report them.”

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“And what, pray tell, is wrong with that?

She knew the answer. It was very simple.

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“That qualifies as a breach of trust with the DC. Shinto has committed a serious betrayal against the other mythologies, so I simply cannot overlook it.”

There it is, thought Shifu.

Eshita had turned it around.

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“She’s not even talking about Sumeragi-chan anymore.”

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“Yeah. We figured they wanted the human’s worship and that’s why we used Sumeragi as an excuse and a threat, but she’s narrowed her focus down to the issue of Shinto’s responsibility.”

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“So she is focusing on Shinto’s behavior instead of whether or not humans should be used in the terraforming?”

Exactly. But how will this play out? wondered Shifu just as Sumeragi-chan stood up next to her.

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“Eh!? What!? The world no longer revolves around me and everyone’s ignoring me!? Not on my watch! Tell them to pay more attention to me! Kupaaaaaa!”

The background noise was getting irritating, so Shifu tugged on her skirt to get her to sit back down.

Anyway, Shifu knew this was going to be a pain.

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“She is ignoring our explanations and excuses and instead focusing on our responsibility and failure to report. Unfortunately, that is something we cannot deny.”

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“Th-then what do we do?”

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“Apologize, I guess.”

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“I mean,” said Shifu. “We did something wrong. If they can define it as a breach of trust, then it means they were the ones harmed, not us.”

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“Wait, when did you harm them?”

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“By betraying their trust. You could say it harmed their reputation.”

En-chan seemed to get that, so she must have initially interpreted it more literally since that was the way her mythology tended to do it.

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“Well, let them cry about being a victim all they want. They’re not actually wrong, after all.”

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“The DC seems to be having a tough time of it too.”

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“They are. Now, it might seem like they have us dead to rights, but we still have some wiggle room here.”

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“Wiggle room?”

Kuwajiri-chan nodded at that. The summer night and the intensity of the meeting must have gotten to her because she wiped some sweat from her brow.

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“Yes. We do still have some wiggle room here. Because even if Shinto does apologize, the DC cannot say what it is they want from them.”

Kuwajiri could tell the negotiation was approaching a conclusion.

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Both sides are searching for a way to end it.

The tension of the exchange was making her sweat. Or maybe it was the heat of the summer night.

Whatever the reason, she took a sip of the orange Fanta she had set down next to her.

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“If the DC directly demands Shinto hand over the human, Shinto could go to the other mythologies saying the DC is abusing their power.”

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“Because the DC was using the human as a bargaining chip?”

Exactly. That would be the best way to get the other mythologies riled up.

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“We could justify our actions by claiming that the gods are meant to protect humans.”

Then what would they do?

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“So we know the DC won’t ask for Sumeragi-chan, but will they have Shinto come up with the apology method and try to guide Shinto into handing over Sumeragi-chan themselves?”

That sounded like trouble.

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“If Shinto fails to apologize here or tries to shift blame elsewhere to dodge responsibility, then the DC can go to the other nations claiming to be the victim.”

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“Something like, ‘Shinto isn’t doing their job and they won’t even apologize!’ perhaps?”

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“Wow.” Senpai-san opened her mouth in a troubled way. “I’m having a hard time deciding whether we or the DC are worse here.”

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“That just means we are evenly matched. So we need to focus on what factors remain that could tip the scales.”

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“Whether or not Shinto apologizes. And if they do, how they do it.”

Kuwajiri nodded at Raidou’s answer.

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“If Shinto can dodge the responsibility issue while not having to actually hand over the human, then the DC loses any means to attack them. Shinto is from Japan and no one loves apologizing more than Japan, so this should all come down to how they pull off that offensive form of defense.”’

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“Now,” said Eshita. “How will Shinto apologize for breaching the DC’s trust?”

Interlude[edit]

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“I love having Sugawara around to apologize for me. It makes things so much easier.”

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“It isn’t supposed to be easy!”


Chapter 30: Blockout 02[edit]

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Whoever makes the claim first wins.

Shifu heard Omokane groan.

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“We try to shove all the blame onto you, but you send it right back at us since we were supposed to be supervising, huh?”

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“It’s like a counterattack doing more damage for everything we had built up against them.”

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“Yes, a real ‘too clever for our own good’ moment!”

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“You have guts to say that at this stage.”

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“But what are we going to do about it?”

Omokane groaned again and nodded with an oddly refreshed smile on her face.

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“I may be too clever, but Sugawara-kouhai is exactly the right amount of clever. It’s high time we saw just how skilled a negotiator she is.”

Tenma considered how to view the concept of “apology” here.

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They want us to apologize.

That word was nothing but a nuisance.

During her mortal life, she had caused some political trouble and been the target of some political trouble behind the scenes and she was eventually demoted for it. She had been sent to as remote a region as they could think of back then, so her enemies had been absolutely ecstatic. However…

Godless tenma.png

My apologies fell on deaf ears.

The experience had definitely left its mark on her, so most of the poetry she wrote during her mortal life had been gripes about being demoted and pleas to her boss, the emperor.

She now wished she had written something more cheerful, but that poetry was how she had ended up being known as a vengeful god, so you never knew what twists and turns life would throw at you. Back then, she certainly had not expected to end up as a girl like this. But why would she have?

Regardless, she considered the topic at hand.

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“You want us to apologize?”

She knew what that meant.

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“Are you sure that’s all you want?”

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“That’s all?”

She caught on fast. That was her weapon after all.

So Tenma came out and said it.

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“If we hurt you, or your group’s, feelings and displeased you in that way, then I voluntarily apologize for that. I too have feelings and understand what that is like.”

But she had more to say.

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“But apologizing does not actually fix anything. If bowing your head could recover a physical loss or a waste of your time, apologies would be a miracle surpassing even the acts of the gods. But apologies cannot do that. So if no rules have been established regarding apologies, they will only make up for hurt feelings.”

However…

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“Let us refer back to your question: How will Shinto apologize for breaching the DC’s trust?

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“That was a surprisingly good impression of her voice.”

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“Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it!?”

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“Why do you sound so proud, Yatsui!?”

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“Hey, I feel kind of proud when Kuwajiri-chan does a good job.”

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“I will do what I can.”

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“I’m soooo jealous. One of myyyy people kept getting into trouble, so I had to send caaaast him down into the deeeepths.”

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“You need to stop doing stuff like that.”

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“Hey, hey, hey. Aaaanyone would get pissed when someone blasts a truuuumpet in your ear while you’re trying to sleeeep.”

Tenma was glad she had that statement on the record.

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“I am most grateful that you will overlook a breach of trust with nothing more than an apology, which would normally only resolve an emotional issue.”

She doffed her hat and bowed.

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“I am dreadfully sorry about our mistake. I will let my superiors know you were so kind to us.”

She faced forward to find Eshtar viewing her with a bag of Wasabeef in hand.

The bag was still closed, so she opened it for her.

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“Here.”

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“Thanks.”

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“Now, I believe we are done here for today. Take care on your way home.”

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“Sure, sure…wait, no! We’re not done here!! Hold it!!”

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“She’s surprisingly friendly, isn’t she?”

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“We really are very sorry.”

Eshita punctuated her response with a sigh.

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Neat, my breath is spicy!

That was pretty cool. It made her not want to brush her teeth. But on the other hand…

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“Do you really think that qualifies as an apology?”

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“That was a fairly high level apology by Shinto and Japanese standards. Are you saying even that was insufficient?”

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“High level? That?”

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“Yes,” she replied. “The lowest level starts at something like ‘Oh, hey. My bad.’, the low level is a simple verbal apology, the mid-level specifies what it is you are apologizing for and includes a written letter of apology, the high level includes a bow as a physical sign of apology, and the highest level is a prostration. The prostration in particular has a spiritual effect that allows it to work with any target.”

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“You’re pulling my leg with some of that, right?”

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“I am not.”

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“The prostration in particular works against gods too thanks to the manifestation system, meaning they can actually influence the workings of this world.”

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“A prostration can?”

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“I can demonstrate for you if you like, but you will regret it.”

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“Wait, stop!”

This girl could always be a suicide bomber, so it was best not to provoke her. Eshita also heard some comments from the peanut gallery.

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“Tch. Why’d she have to say no? We totally would’ve won then.”

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“Indeed we would have, Sumeragi-kouhai. She must have realized any provocation would have guided us to victory.”

Oh, man. Does this mean I’m actually clever?

Also, this Wasabeef stuff is so good. The other spices were a tingling kind of spicy, but this is more of a piercing spicy. It came as a shock at first, but now it’s kinda fun and I can taste a hint of sweetness behind it, like a little treat. I’m totally buying some of this before heading back.

But she had a problem to solve before that.

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“Did you think you could weasel out of this with some cheap wordplay?”

Oh, I know what I can do.

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“I will forgive your breach of trust based on that apology.”

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“Thank you very much.”

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“Hey, it’s nothing.”

She smiled before continuing.

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“Now give me the results.”

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“I will forgive the breach our trust. That is a simple act. But the result of that act is a separate matter. In mathematical terms, the act is the expression and the result is the solution. I will forgive you for using the wrong expression, but you still need to give us the solution.”

So answer us.

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“If you want us to overlook your expression, you must have the solution for us, right? So where is it? Hand it over. Spell it out for me.”

Well?

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“You never said you couldn’t produce the results, so this must be a good deal for you. I mean, we all heard what you said: I am most grateful that you will overlook a breach of trust with nothing more than an apology, which would normally only resolve an emotional issue.

Now.

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“I’ll forgive the breach of trust, so give us our results.”

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“That impression was so bad I would never have guessed who it was if I didn’t already know.”

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“She called that wordplay ‘cheap’, yet now she’s doing it herself.”

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“I am sorry. So sorry.”

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“I don’t really think you need to apologize for this, Bilgamesh.”

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“I am so, so sorry.”

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“This is why people start calling you Apology Man, Bil.”

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“It must suck to have a weird boss.”

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“Omokane-san, you’re just fishing for reactions from Kubiko-san at this point, aren’t you?”

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“Sorry, I already wrote out a rather lengthy message.”

Tenma began by raising her hand.

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“We have shown you results.”

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“You have, have you?”

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“Yes.” She chose her words carefully in order to test her opponent. “We confirmed the existence of a 0th Generation mythology for this star system and discovered what that mythology is.”

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“–––––”

She must have known about that. Since Balancer was involved, that neutral AI would have given the information elsewhere as well. However…

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“We have Shinto and the human to thank for that result. And while things have been considerably delayed, we have that series of events to thank for this result. Shinto recommends we extend the current schedule since things are playing out as desired.”

Because…

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“If we continue on this schedule, there are definite odds of achieving further results of this nature, but using other methods might have no odds of that. I think these observation results are worth gambling on, but…”

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“But what?”

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“But it took us 4 months to achieve these results. Let’s say you in the DC took the human for yourself. How long would it take you to achieve results on this same level? 4 months? Now, Shinto exists outside of the generational numbering, but if we were placed inside it, your 5th generation is more than twice as advanced as us. So 2 months? No, I doubt it would take the great DC that long.”

She asked a question.

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“If you did have the human at your disposal, are you confident the DC could produce similar results in less than a month?”

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“It all comes down to this,” muttered Omokane.

She was confident of that.

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Now, how will Sugawara-kouhai finish this off?

The knowledge god nodded to agree with her expectations here.

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“That is true. The star system’s 0th Generation mythology is definitely something we could not have achieved without Sumeragi. And the DC is wary of yet badly wants the ability to create new mythologies like that. But if the DC intends to criticize our results and take her from us, they must first prove that they could achieve the same or superior results in less time. Otherwise, they would be seizing her for purely selfish reasons.”

That was exactly right. But…

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“Is it even possible to get Sumeragi-kun to produce further results in less than a month?”

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“One problem is we don’t know what those ‘further results’ would be. And there are a few other problems too.”

She counted them off on her fingers as she thought them up.

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“First, would Sumeragi-kouhai obey them?

“Second, Sumeragi-kouhai will die again and need to be rolled back.

“Third, what other results could they get from her next?”

They would have to solve all of those and produce some results in less than a month.

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“That is no small feat, 5th Generation.”

She spoke loud enough to be overheard and received a convenient response from one of her own people.

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“No, it isn’t.”

Good, way to play it up. The natural tone makes it work even better.

Sugawara nodded too.

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“So how about it, DC? Can you produce results within a month after taking the human from us?”

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“That’s just not possible.”

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“Right? I mean, the DC has never done it before, so they can’t just come out and say they definitely can do it.”

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“Exactly. But what do you think, Kuwajiri-kouhai?”

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“I agree it isn’t possible. But…”

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“But?”

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“This is all about politics, so I already know what their answer is going to be.”

Good question, thought Eshita.

The DC, the 5th Generation, and the Mesopotamian gods had never done anything like that before.

There was no way they could pull it off in less than a month.

So her answer was obvious.

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“Of course we can. Less than a month? We can do that easy.”

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“Eh!? Um…ehhhh!?”

I knew I was overly flustered, but it really did make no sense to me. I mean…

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“I thought that wasn’t possible. I thought they couldn’t say they could do it.”

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“Douhai-kun.”

Oh, right. We’re in the same year, so she can’t call me Senpai-kun. And why can I analyze that part so rationally?

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“What they want first and foremost is Sumeragi-kouhai. Once they have her, they aren’t returning her. We could demand it, but they just have to find a way to weasel out of it. Hence, they can say whatever they want here.”

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“But! But how is that fair!?”

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“That’s politics for you, Senpai-san.”

Kuwajiri continued without turning my way.

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“Truth and logic are irrelevant. They only want results, but they need that idiot – that is, Sumeragi – for that. So they are willing to accept and push through any condition we place on them to get her. They can either figure out a way to pull it off later or come up with an excuse.”

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“That’s right,” said Eshita. “If we can’t achieve results with the human, we just have to say ‘something unexpected’ occurred. You said that earlier, Shinto, so you can’t tell use we can’t say the same thing.”

She reached for a new bag of Karamucho as she spoke.

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“The DC, and especially us Mesopotamian gods, have a lot of pride and reputation to live up to. You lowly Shinto gods could never understand.”

So…

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“We will be taking the human and the right to create new myths. Also…yes, if we can establish the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation mythologies for each planet in this star system, we will accept that as suitable results.”

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“Also,” said Eshita. “When you hand over the human, we will forbid the use of her partner god’s authority in a way that would allow her to grow beyond the limits of humanity. We cannot have anyone forbidding our use of the human because using her could affect humanity in some way.”

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“How convenient for you. But do you really think we will give you all that for nothing in return?”

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Here it comes.

They were talking on her terms now.

They were accepting her suggested restrictions as part of a possible deal. She had hoped to guide them in that direction, so this was convenient.

So she began to think, but she also began speaking since she knew she was right about this.

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“In return, we will accept Bilgamesh’s defection. Enkidu, on the other hand, must first complete the recreation of her myth.”

She raised her hand and a spear glowing with a horribly dark light appeared in it.

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“This is the spear of the underworld. Are you prepared to die?”

Ki realized what Eshtar was really after here.

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So that’s it.

Had some decision been made behind the scenes? She belatedly realized the true meaning behind these political dealings.

She thought about what it meant for Eshtar to be here, but…

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Yeah.

She faced forward to view the wild goddess who was munching on snacks.

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“Since we have not officially defected yet, our contract with the DC prevents us from discussing this, Eshtar.”

But that settled it.

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“I accept that death, Eshtar.”

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“Kidou-san!?”

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“Holllllllllllllllllllllld up, Overdressed Mucho! You’re planning on penetrating Busty Girl here with your spear!? What kinda euphemism is that!? And do you have any idea what it would mean for the world to lose a girl as busty as that!? You’re only somewhat busty, so you wouldn’t understand, would you!? Well!? Mad you don’t understand!? I’m not mad, cause I do understand! Oh, and now the fury of my boobs worship has come full circle! Which is to say, you won’t get away with this!”

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“Euphemism!? What it would mean for the world!? What the hell are you on about!?”

That may have been the most sensible thing Eshtar had said all day. But…

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“I am so sorry, everyone.”

Bil held a hand out to the side, telling the others to stay put. And…

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“Do not interfere in Ki’s case here. I will explain why later. For now…can we continue the discussion of that human?”

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“Oh?”

Eshtar turned to Ki and smiled bitterly. She was definitely looking that way and she even nodded.

That settled it.

Ki was right about what was going on here. So…

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“Can we get back on topic now?”

In Shinto, words influenced the world.

Eshtar thought that was the most beautiful part of Shinto.

Since humanity had been given language by the gods, they could use words to access the gods. Because they were divine words.

But in Shinto, words were not just connected to the gods; they were connected to the world as well.

Words themselves had something like a spirit, creating what Shinto referred to as Kotodama.

People could use those rules to approach the gods and the world itself through the medium of words.

The Mesopotamian gods had been friendly with the people, but there had still been a distance between them. Also…

Godless eshita.png

I like how the gods and the people are both only a part of the world.

That sounded like such a carefree existence to her since the Mesopotamian gods were both residents and rulers of the natural world.

Since all the world’s rules came from them, they were also responsible for everything.

That was the natural result when they could not rely on the people for anything.

But in Shinto, the people could influence the world through the words given to them.

It had to be so much easier on the gods to leave all the inconvenient nonsense to the “world” which included the humans.

She envied those later mythologies for that.

The people who created the mythologies already understood what they could do for themselves, so they looked to the gods for much less.

That was probably why the gods of later mythologies had specialized powers instead of taking on multiple jobs and authorities.

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On the other hand, this pressure is the best part of being an earlier generation god.

Maybe that made them arrogant, but that was just who they were.

So she knew exactly what to say to these newcomers from a later mythology.

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“You want to continue this conversation? Then continue.”

Your Kotodama can influence the world, but we are the world itself, so just try and influence us.

Shinto is supposed to be the “path leading to the gods”, so use the power of your words to speak to us gods.

Tenma knew it all came down to this.

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I already had her forgive our mistake thanks to my apology.

Then she had pointed to the creation of a 0th Generation mythology for their results.

And she had guided them to this point.

She had lured the other god in by saying they would have to produce results even faster than Shinto if they wanted the human.

Eshita had fallen for it. Or more accurately, she had accepted the challenge.

And then.

And then she had grown more aggressive.

She had worked toward acquiring that human for the DC.

She was willing to do whatever it took. Acquiring the human was her top political priority.

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And she didn’t stop there. She is using everything at her disposal.

Then she had banned the use of the partner god’s power in a way that would render the human unusable as a human.

That was meant to limit their options.

It was a further attack.

And…

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“Now you are using the defectors as bargaining chips.”

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“That’s right,” said Omokane, regarding Sugawara’s comment. “Eshtar said they would accept the defector’s defection to counteract our results with the human.”

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“How is that supposed to work as a deal?”

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“A major 5th Generation god like Bilgamesh will strengthen the Shinto forces considerably. Whether or not that allows us to continue terraforming, we could give him a double divinity with one of our more physical gods as a show of force against the other mythologies.”

However…

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“But that would mean giving them Sumeragi-kun.”

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“Was it a mistake to challenge them to produce results with Sumeragi-chan?”

It did look that way at the moment.

Luring Eshtar in like that might turn out to have been a bad idea.

The challenge had forced Eshtar to take this seriously.

So what were they going to do?

Would they accept those terms, or reject them?

If they were going to accept, they only had to accept.

But if they were going to reject, they had to explain why.

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“Sugawara-kouhai.”

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“Understood.”

That underclassman knowledge god took a deep breath.

Tenma spoke.

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“I will make the decision.”

She had to make a decision.

So she did.

First, she took a certain action.

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“Auth Spell: Divinely Ordained Constellation.”

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“Eh?”

Something appeared just as I questioned Tenma-san’s words.

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“A library?”

It first appeared by her hands.

Revelation Boards opened by her hands, those began to eject pages on a myriad of topics, and more and more continued to appear there.

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“–––––––”

Once that massive amount of information was joined together like that, she began to read it.

The information took the form of a book.

Within all that movement, she recited some kind of poem.

The stars of the divine

Follow paths and reside in constellations

But do they have their own thoughts as they float in the inky black

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“Divinely Ordained Constellation.”

She repeated the name and unfathomably long bookcases appeared in a half-circle behind her. They were made of ether, countless books were automatically pulled from their shelves, their pages loosened, and the bamboo writing strips came apart.

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“Come to me.”

She spoke to the written characters. Whether in books, on bamboo writing strips, on stone tablets, in cloth scrolls, or whatever other medium, the chosen ether writing flowed out and approached her like a torrential river.

It was all drawn in toward the stack of Revelation Boards she held in her hand.

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“–––––––”

When she waved the Revelation Boards like a fan, the bookcases vanished and she held a single book in her hand.

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“Um, what was that?”

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“I know! That was Master of the Akashic Book, wasn’t it!? I remember writing that down in my dream journal a week ago when I dreamed about having that power!”

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“Ow, the cringe.”

I looked around for someone to provide the actual answer and our superior crossed her arms and nodded.

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“Sugawara-kouhai’s Divinely Ordained Constellation uses historical precedent and an experience-based AI to search through all of her knowledge and provide several possible solutions to the problem at hand. So the more knowledge she accumulates, the more accurate and versatile that guidance will be.”

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“Ahhh! I was so close to being right!”

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“Better luck next time, Sumeragi-kun.”

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“Okay! I’ll do what I can!”

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“Can we please focus on the negotiations!?”

To Kuwajiri, Sugawara was a knowledge god one rank below her own level. She knew she could not let Sugawara get ahead of her, but she was also seriously considering creating a similar Auth Spell for support in the future. However…

Godless kuwajiri.png

I would have a hard time escaping this situation.

They were up against a 5th Generation god.

Of course, negotiations came down to negotiating skill and knowledge. Even if the generational difference created a historical gap in knowledge, this would come down to how well they understood the current situation. In that sense an Auth Spell that provided immediate support would be effective when you absolutely had to win no matter what.

Before long, Sugawara shut her book.

She had decided what to say, so she faced the 5th Generation goddess in front of her.

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“Eshtar.”

She called out to her first.

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“Shinto will accept you here as an inspector.”

That was a compromise.

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“We will allow you to work as our manager.”

That sounded like a complete capitulation.

Eshita stopped eating Karamucho when she heard her negotiating partner say they would allow her to work as their manager.

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“What do you mean by that?”

She was confused.

This discussion had honestly included a lot of what she could only call petty bickering. But…

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“Why would you accept my authority now?”

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“That is simple enough.”

Light scattered from the other girl’s hand.

She had held a large book providing an answer derived from her knowledge and the historical precedent contained therein, but it now vanished as ether light, as if to say its role was complete.

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“Because that is what you want. Or am I wrong?”

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“I don’t understand this. Why in the world would I want to be your manager?”

Kuwajiri realized something from that line.

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“Oh.”

Her voice gathered Raidou and Shifu’s attention.

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“You’re up, Miss Knowledge.”

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“Could you explain this one for us?”

When her superiors asked for it, she couldn’t refuse. She had to preface it with “most likely”, but…

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“This is all based on the assumption that both sides need a compromise.”

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“Why a compromise?”

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<Because without one, this would lead to the worst case scenario.>

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“What is the worst case scenario here?”

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“Well,” cut in Kuwajiri. “That would be Sumeragi. She would become a dangerous presence that could easily lead to the worst case scenario.”

The idiot looked back, but she was harmless for the time being.

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“Sumeragi will become dangerous if Shinto hands her over to the DC. That would lead to the worst case scenario.”

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“Hold up! I worship Senpai, so I’m not going anywhere else!”

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“The thing is, just like Bilgamesh can defect to the Shinto side, Senpai-san could join the Mesopotamian gods and continue to be your god there.”

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“For real!?”

A hand shot up. It belonged to Shamhat who had held her tongue thus far. She nodded at what Kuwajiri had said, and then…

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“To be blunt, that would mean making Senpai-san there a temple prostitute like me, just one dedicated to that human. That would be the best option for the two of you.”

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“Eh? Eh? Eh?”

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“Wait! Senpai is making a class change to be my personal sex god!? What kinda porn game is this!? Is it for the 88!?”

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“They’ve been releasing more of those for the 98 recently, haven’t they?”

Senpai, please don’t get her further off topic.

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“Whatever the exact method, it is a convenient system for controlling Sumeragi over there. However, that would require changing all of Senpai-san’s settings. I do not know what her authority is, but some of you have hinted it could be dangerous for that human. To eliminate that risk, she would have to first be removed from the list of Shinto gods to remove her authorities and such. Then she could be re-manifested as a new god in Mesopotamia.”

What would happen then?

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“Sumeragi would temporarily be without a god.”

And what would that mean?

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“Sumeragi would become a threat to all of the gods during that time. Because she would be free to create any myths she liked.”

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“Yes, that is exactly the issue.”

No doubts or guesses were needed here. Omokane viewed this as a perfectly predictable fact.

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“If Sumeragi-kouhai so much as looks up into the starry sky, she could easily create a 0th Generation mythology none of us could have ever even considered. After all, everyone but her is a god right now, so her thoughts about someone might provide that god with a new myth.”

And…

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“Eshtar-kun.”

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“What do you want?”

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“You should have a decent grasp of my personality by now, so let me ask you this: Do you really think I would let you have Sumeragi-kouhai without doing anything in response?”

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“Of course not. I know exactly what you would tell that human: Sumeragi-kouhai, once your partner is gone, start thinking about that star system mythology you came up with before.

That sounds nothing like me. You should really stop trying to do impressions of people. Not that it matters.

Now, Omokane knew exactly what expression was on her face right now, but…

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“I am perfectly fine with removing Sumeragi-kouhai’s partner if that is what you want.”

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“You know that would count as another breach of trust, don’t you?”

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“You’ll forgive us if we apologize, so why should I care?”

She smiled and raised a hand toward Eshtar.

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“I do apologize. I might breach your trust if you do this, but don’t let that stop you.”

She also opened a Revelation Board.

It played back the footage Balancer had provided of this star system’s history and she handed it to Sumeragi.

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“Store this on your Revelation Board. It will guard you like a protective charm if things go south, Sumeragi-kouhai.”

Now.

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“Eshtar, what will you do?”

Eshtar responded swiftly by standing up.

Eshtar did not use the spear of death she held.

She simply stood up and tried to protest, but Omokane spoke up before she could.

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“Now, now. Don’t push yourself too hard!”

As soon as those words reached her, she found her own actions lacking.

She had tried to step forward and speak, but…

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“Eh?”

She grew unsteady and fell back onto her butt.

Eshita had no idea what had happened.

She only knew her hands and knees were trembling and weak.

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“Ugh.”

Her throat felt horribly dry. What was this? Had an authority hit her with some kind of disease? But she doubted any of the gods here could do that.

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“Wh-what did you do!?”

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“It is honestly impressive that you are still conscience and capable of speaking. I suppose that’s the 5th Generation for you.”

Omokane spread her arms as if to indicate the entire summer night.

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“You are dehydrated. You might be from the Middle East, but you let your guard down, didn’t you? Real manifestations are a scary thing.”

A figure sank down in the library.

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“Sigh. She actually did it.”

Omokane had set her up, but it was Scarecrow who had made the arrangements.

She still remembered when Omokane had initially explained it to her:

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“Make it a convenience store parking lot. Somewhere blocked by walls and roofs would be best. And somewhere with the large air conditioning unit located next to the store, not on the roof.”

A search of Shinto land had found the perfect location.

The rest had been simple. She had only had to contact some of the Shinto gods there.

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“We made sure Eshtar-kun was exposed to all that heat but we didn’t give her any drinks after the initial one. Instead, we gave her plenty of super-spicy snacks that got her sweating. I also told Sugawara-kouhai to drag out the negotiations as long as possible. I had no idea how much endurance heavily-dressed Eshtar-kun would have in her real manifestation, but I had hoped it would at least keep her from focusing on the negotiations. I honestly did not expect it to knock her out with dehydration.”

Was that really something to sound so proud of?

But, thought Scarecrow.

Godless scare komari.png

I feel kind of bad doing this to Eshtar.

With a virtual manifestation, a god existed as a data entity, so they barely needed to eat and drink. They existed as ether and they lived in a virtual world full of ether, so it was like living within the very nutrients they needed.

But a real manifestation was a different story. They were still a data entity, but one designed to match “reality”, a world formed from the bare minimum of laws.

They had to eat if they were to maintain themselves.

Of course, they had their durability and divine protections as a god, so they could draw on their power and cool themselves down if they overheated.

But they still had to resupply whatever they had consumed.

Also, the circulatory system was a critical factor for their real manifestation bodies.

If they lost bodily fluids, parts of their body would cease to function. They would not actually die thanks to their divine protections, but they did not have any divine protections or Auth Spells to replace those lost fluids. At best, there were ways of moving an unconscious body, like those found in Voodoo.

Their nutrients were not automatically acquired like they were in the virtual world.

That was why the gods ate so much.

But they only learned to do so after living in this world for a while.

Eshtar had not done that yet.

Omokane’s dirtiest trick was giving her just the one ginger ale at the beginning.

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“Ginger ale makes you sweat.”

And that effect was greater if you drank something to begin with than if you drank nothing at all.

The fact that you had had something to drink would reduce the body’s caution regarding dehydration.

Also, Eshtar was a Middle Eastern god. The temperature there was high, but the humidity was low, meaning you would not sweat all that much. That was also why it grew so chilly at night.

But this was Japan.

The temperature remained high during the summer nights and the humidity was high.

Plus, those sweltering nights had rapidly grown more common during the 80s and 90s.

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“Eshtar and her heavy clothing could not have been a worse match for a Japanese summer.”

Tenma looked to her cruel boss.

First of all, Eshtar had fallen onto her butt and could not move.

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“C-curse you! You coward! You set me up because I’m not familiar with the local climate!”

Second of all, Omokane crouched down in front of her and gulped down a bottle of water.

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“Ahhhhhhhhhh! Precious water! It’s soooo good! And it’s natural water at that! Truly delicious! I might just buy a dozen bottles to bring home with me!”

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“You are the worst.”

Tenma apologized in her heart, but she had assisted in setting this up.

And it had worked even better than they had expected.

Her boss had a huge smile of satisfaction on her face.

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“Okay, what should we do now, Eshtar-kun!? I am so glad to see we are finally in a position to talk this out as equals!”

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“Kh! You coward!”

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“A coward? Me!? But giving a powerful foe exactly what they want to lower their guard is a traditional Shinto tactic seen in as major a story as the slaying of Yamata. This means you were outplayed by Shinto, not me.”

She placed a new water bottle on the ground next to her.

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“Now, let’s work out a mutual compromise.”

Interlude[edit]

Godless bokuonna.png

“She’s evil.”

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“Does that make us the servants of evil?”


Chapter 31: Death Bringer[edit]

Godless 1B 209.jpg

Your delivery of disaster is here

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“Join us in compromise, Eshita-kun. We will both destroy ourselves as things are, so let’s compromise.”

Tenma watched Omokane speaking.

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“We want to continue the terraforming and we have no intention of letting Sumeragi-kouhai go. And we want to ensure the safety of Shinto as a whole while we are at it. So if we are invaded, we will resist to the best of our ability. We will make whatever arrangements are necessary to accomplish that. Such as…”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Such as have the human create mythologies as a form of terrorism?”

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“Exactly. We are not a powerful mythology, but we will use everything at our disposal to protect our rights. I am prepared to say that as many times as it takes.”

And…

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“You should understand that you won’t gain anything if you simply do what the DC wants.”

Yes. That was true enough.

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“If that human is allowed to create mythologies as she pleases, the rest of the gods will question the DC’s management skills. Then someone would appear to support us, beginning a conflict between the DC and a new force that includes Shinto, who you harmed.”

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“So you aren’t going to give up that human no matter what?”

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“Do you think we would do all this if we were willing to do that?”

She really is a villain, thought Tenma.

And Omokane continued speaking.

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“So I suggest we compromise. Let us return to what Sugawara-kouhai was saying.”

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“If this goes the DC’s way, Shinto will fight back in every way we can. We will make sure the DC suffers some losses no matter what. That will be the point of our resistance.”

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“So you want me to back off as a ‘compromise’?”

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“No. …Sugawara-kouhai, explain it for her.”

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“Basically, I think we should make use of this situation. Eshtar, you know our situation here and you know what methods we will use if we resist. So…”

So…

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“If you act as an intermediary between us and the DC and you promise to not take the human by force, we will support you as a manager of the human-driven terraforming and we will provide you with all resultant information before anyone else.”

Eshita immediately deemed that an interesting idea. However…

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“You want me to be your puppet?”

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“That will be up to you.”

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“So you want me to be your manager, but you’re going to treat me like this?”

Oh, no. I’m starting to feel chilled, so this is a serious case of dehydration. I doubt I’ll die, but I’d rather not get an even worse headache.

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“So you want water?”

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“Yes. Obviously.”

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“I would be willing to give you some if you agreed to our compromise plan.”

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“For real!? Then I agree, I agree! Now gimme the water!”

Omokane turned toward the others and the human tilted her head.

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“Wasn’t she about to protest before!? Wasn’t she gonna make something go boom with a mystical power? She was, wasn’t she!?”

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“Let’s just count ourselves lucky she didn’t actually use that spear of death.”

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“I was only pretending! I was acting on a whim! The fact that I’m so active is my big selling point as a goddess, so I do stuff like that all the time!”

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“She’s not kidding about that, by the way. So be careful, everyone.”

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“Hey you! Don’t just spill the beans like that!”

Omokane nodded a few times and then snapped her fingers.

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“Strip her.”

Stripping her was Shifu’s job.

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“Eh!? Wait! Don’t just take advantage of me because I’m feeling all woozy!”

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“Now, now, just stay still, okay? I’ll have you stripped in no time.”

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“Shifu-senpai, when Eshtar visited the underworld, she had an article of clothing removed at each gate, which also stripped her of her power. She appears to be wearing 7 articles at the moment, so removing around 3 of them should halve her power.”

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“H-hey! Stop giving her advice, Miss Flat Chest!”

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“Kuwajiri, is that how people see you?”

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“Shifu-senpai, go ahead and remove her inner suit too.”

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“Eh!? What!? What did I do!? Hey, hey, hey!”

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“Wow, this stuff is heavy after soaking up all that sweat.”

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“Eh!? Ahh! Stop that! Ah ha ha ha! That tickles! Ah hee hee hee ha ha ha ha! Geh!”

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“She laughed so hard she choked?”

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“We definitely need to snap a photo now that we’ve stripped her. For insurance purposes. Oh, and Eshtar-kun, only we are here to see this, but Kubiko-kun is monitoring us from a remote location, so if you try anything, this photo will be spread all over the world. Now, I would much rather not do that, but it’s insurance.”

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“Insurance sure is convenient.”

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“I belieeeeve the word for it is eeeevil.”

Godless raidou.png

“Girls sure are ruthless against other girls.”

Godless shinobu.png

“There, all stripped.”

Eshita was allowed to keep her inner suit and shirt.

Two articles of clothing meant she was less than a third as powerful as her original state.

But she had gotten water. And more snacks too, so she let out a sigh.

Godless eshita warai.png

“Ahh, that’s a lot better.”

Godless balancer.png

<Your data entity body was created by us, so any critical deficiencies can be replenished more rapidly than would be biologically possible. Please drink as much as you like.>

Godless eshita.png

“I will,” she said while emptying her first bottle and turning her thoughts to what just happened. “I’m surprised by this.”

Godless omokane.png

“By what?”

That should be obvious. It had to do with the human over there.

Godless eshita.png

“I honestly thought you would be treating the human worse. Since we’re gods and she’s human, I thought you would be holding her more tightly in your grasp. Y’know, to use her like a tool or a slave.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Sorry to disappoint you! Oh, but I am a slave to Senpai’s love! Yes, I am a tool that speaks through the language of love! So you weren’t all wrong! Right, Shifu-senpai!?”

Godless shinobu.png

“Eshita-chan, do you want some Potelong?”

Godless eshita warai.png

These are soooooo good! I love their simplicity!”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Don’t ignore me!”

Godless eshita.png

“Anyway, I didn’t expect you to be so accepting of such a moron.”

Godless ki.png

“Yeah, I’ve gotta agree with you there.”

Godless gil.png

“I’m half-god and half-human, but even I see the gods as capricious beings that mostly cause problems.”

Godless raidou.png

“We get along pretty well with the humans, so it feels like these things get more relaxed with the later mythologies.”

Godless eshita.png

“I know what you mean,” said Eshita. “Now. What is this compromise you’re proposing?”

Omokane sat directly in front of Eshita with Raidou and Sugawara on either side of her. She set down a beer case and sat on that to put herself at Eshita’s eye level.

Godless omokane.png

“I already explained what I want. I want you to remain here as an inspector so you can act as an intermediary between Shinto and the DC. In exchange, we will provide a guarantee of our continued work on the terraforming and we will provide the DC with all relevant data and results.”

Godless eshita.png

“Heh heh. So you want me to be your accomplice?”

Godless omokane.png

“Wouldn’t that be easier for you?”

Godless eshita.png

“What do you mean?”

Godless omokane.png

“Well.” Omokane snapped her fingers and pointed at the pair of 5th Generation half-god, half-humans seated behind her. “I mean them. You came here for them, didn’t you?”

Godless senpai awate.png

“Hm? What does she mean?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“They mentioned defecting earlier, but I’m not sure.”

Godless ki.png

“Let’s just say things back home are a bit of a mess.”

Godless gil.png

“The goddess who let us escape…has been captured back home.”

Eshita took a deep breath.

This meant they had known her situation from the beginning.

Godless eshita.png

Well, I just have to deal with it then.

She was more or less ready for what was to come. Ready to become their “accomplice”, that is.

Godless eshita.png

“He means Shamash, the Mesopotamian sun goddess. She’s my twin sister, she has a higher rank then me, and she’s really kind. In a motherly way.”

So…

Godless eshita.png

“She educated Bilgamesh and, when the gods were going to bring death to Enkidu, she opposed the idea and worked to dissuade the other gods.”

Godless ki.png

“My mother was Aruru the Creator God, but I was also saved by Shamash from time to time.”

Godless eshita.png

“Anyway,” said Eshita. “In the Earth Age mythology, I sought Bilgamesh’s hand in marriage and was refused and Enkidu was so mad about it she basically cussed me out.”

Godless ki.png

“Of course I did.”

Godless shinobu.png

“Ohhh.”

That about summed it up.

Godless eshita.png

“And that is what led the gods to bring death to Enkidu.”

She summoned the spear of death to her hand.

Eshita could tell everyone had grown cautious.

So she just came out and said it.

Godless eshita.png

“This is necessary.”

Godless omokane.png

“For the mythology recreation?”

That was part of it, but this about something else.

Godless eshita.png

“Shamash and the others were captured for the crime of letting those two escape. Shamash in particular was immediately confined. And the highest gods of Mesopotamian mythology arrived at a decision. If Enkidu dies to recreate the myth, then Shamash can go free.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“So it’s all about your dumb pride!”

Godless eshita.png

“That’s the way of things with gods. Being important is dumb in so many ways.”

So…

Godless eshita.png

“So to avoid being like that, Shamash took the full blame to protect the others who agreed with her.”

Godless raidou.png

“And you plan to deal with those two here in order to free Shamash?”

Godless eshita.png

“She’s my twin sister. Well, she’s sometimes my brother instead, but that’s a long story. Anyway, I’m still free, so rescuing her is my job. That’s why I came here with this spear while the other gods are working out how to continue with their official duties.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Wait, did you steal that spear?”

Godless eshita awate.png

“N-no! I left a note saying I took it!”

Godless omokane.png

“Eshita-kun? Um, if you didn’t come here as an inspector, then everything we’ve discussed here goes out the window.”

Godless eshita awate.png

“I did! I swear I did! Please believe me!”

Godless ki.png

“With everything you’ve pulled in the past, that’s honestly hard to believe.”

Godless gil.png

“Like destroying a mountain or stealing the wisdom god’s wisdom.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“But she’s also surprisingly pathetic since she picked a fight with her other sister and lost.”

Godless eshita awate.png

“Stooooooooooooooooooop!”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Anyway,” said the flat-chested knowledge god who had supplied the finishing blow against Eshita’s reputation. “This explains something I had been confused about: why Bilgamesh and Enkidu came here. That was part of Shamash’s plan, wasn’t it?”

Godless shinobu.png

“Hm? What do you mean by that?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Well,” said the flat-chested knowledge god. “Eshtar is part of the myth about death being brought to Enkidu.”

But…

Godless kuwajiri.png

“She, Bilgamesh, and Enkidu also have the story of Enkidu descending to the underworld but returning.”

Kuwajiri had a simple question.

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Why did Bilgamesh and Ki choose Shinto after deciding to defect?”

You could always say “they just did”.

You could also say they had nowhere else to go.

But that was not the case.

She finally felt like she understood what had been bothering her about this.

Godless kuwajiri.png

“In the myth of Enkidu returning from the underworld, Ishtar receives Gilgamesh’s help in building a mansion and then throws a party to celebrate, but some musical instruments are dropped into the underworld during the party.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Hold up! What kind of world are we talking about here!? Are there just holes to the underworld in your backyard or something!? That’s horrifying! You wouldn’t even see that in Hoshi Shinichi’s short-short stories!”

Godless tenma.png

“You mean like the hole from Oi, Detekoi?”

Seeing the idiot and the girl shaking hands annoyed Kuwajiri a little bit. I don’t get that reference.

Godless shinobu.png

“Ohhh, feeling jealous, Kuwajiri-chan?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“I will endeavor to read more and more broadly from now on.”

Anyway, she had to get back on topic.

Godless kuwajiri.png

“So Enkidu went down to collect those instruments, but he failed to obey the rules of the underworld and couldn’t return.”

Godless ki.png

“Do you know how many rules they have down there? It’s impossible to remember them all.”

Godless shifu akire.png

“I was gonna suggest bringing a cheat sheet with you, but you only had clay tablets back then, didn’t you?”

Godless ki.png

“Yeah, that wasn’t an option.”

Probably not.

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Anyway, Bilgamesh noticed, spoke to the gods, and somehow managed to get Enkidu back from the underworld.”

Godless senpai.png

“That reminds me a lot of the Shinto story of Izanagi and Izanami in Yomi.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Yes. As humanity grew in number and migrated across the earth, they passed down the basic story of ‘returning alive from the underworld’ even as it evolved from culture to culture. Shinto’s version came a lot later, so its details had changed considerably, but the basic ideas are still very similar.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“The story of Enkidu’s return from the underworld began with Eshtar, so if she performs the mythology recreation for that story, she will be able to bring Enkidu back from the underworld.”

Godless raidou.png

“Kuwajiri, but dead is dead. How does she bring Enkidu back from being dead?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Yes, dead is dead. But we have an example right here of that rule being broken. I am referring to the human – that idiot over there. Humans can be rolled back.”

And…

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Enkidu is a half-god, half-human made by a god. That is not the same as that fully-human idiot, but she still has a human element to her. So we just have to bring Enkidu over to Shinto and apply the rollback system. I do not know the odds of that working, though.”

Godless balancer.png

<There would likely be problems, but the way the system works would make it possible.>

That meant they could do it.

Godless kuwajiri.png

“That is Sun God Shamash’s plan, isn’t it?”

Eshtar nodded.

Godless eshita.png

“My sister did not lament the fact that she was captured. She said the gods had no choice but to do it. But she said I could rise above that since I’m ‘a delinquent’.”

Godless raidou.png

“So you’re like the delinquent with a heart of gold who takes in a stray dog?”

Godless ki.png

“Are you calling me a dog?”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Then you weren’t supposed to protest on a whim earlier, were you?”

Godless eshita awate.png

“I wasn’t thinking straight! Cause I was mad! It doesn’t count!”

She was not going to let that slide. But…

Godless eshita.png

“My plan was to get some results as an inspector and then free my sister by placing Enkidu in the Shinto system to…roll her back, did you call it? And this is close enough to what I wanted, so I’ll go with it.”

Godless gil.png

“We came here on Shamash’s recommendation. She said there was a chance of Ki surviving if we used the Shinto rollback, so that was our plan. But we didn’t expect Eshtar to show up as an inspector and, given what she’s pulled in the past, we couldn’t exactly trust her.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“So she’s a walking disaster?”

Godless eshita awate.png

“Hey! Hey! You can’t just blame everything on me!”

Godless omokane.png

“I believe we shall approve Bilgamesh-kun and Enkidu-kun’s defection. In fact, I just did. The higher ups gave me emergency authority to make that decision, so I can do that.”

Godless eshita.png

“I appreciate you doing that even after knowing my plan. If I brought her death without your permission but after she defected, it would mean I had killed a Shinto god.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Oh, so that’s why you were willing to accept Bilgamesh’s defection but not Enkidu’s earlier.”

Godless eshita.png

“Yes, I planned to ask Balancer to act as an intermediary in that case. I would have needed a forced intervention to make this a mythology recreation of Enkidu’s return from the underworld.”

I see, thought Kuwajiri. This goddess is an idiot, but she can be clever at times. But…

Godless senpai awate.png

“Um, but are you sure?”

Senpai-san raised her hand and turned toward Enkidu.

Godless senpai awate.png

“If we do this, it means bringing death to Kidou-san, doesn’t it?”

Ki honestly didn’t like the sound of that.

The whole rollback thing felt like a mess.

You would lose some of your memories, so she and Bilgamesh could not remain the same as they were before. But…

Godless ki.png

“But…it’s far better than being separated by death.”

She understood that perfectly well.

A tablet-style Revelation Board appeared by Eshita’s face. she glared at it and then shattered it, but…

Godless omokane.png

“Word from back home?”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Yes. They piss me off so much. When have I ever done anything in a less than flawless fashion?”

Don’t look to me for agreement there.

But Omokane-san responded while opening a Revelation Board and quickly performing a few operations.

Godless omokane.png

“They expect you to betray them, don’t they?”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Yeah, it certainly seems that way.”

Godless senpai komari.png

“Betray them how?”

Godless omokane.png

“They think Eshita-kun will allow Bilgamesh-kun and Kidou-kun to escape. I imagine the only reason they are not directly intervening is because Eshita-kun is here as an inspector. If they stopped an inspector on her level before she actually betrayed them, that would qualify as a serious internal conflict. They would be shaming themselves for no reason.”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Pretty much, yeah.”

Godless eshita awate.png

“Hey, wait! Yeah! That indirectly proves I really am here as an inspector, doesn’t it!? See, I told you!”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Why can’t you prove it yourself?”

Godless gil.png

“Lack of trust.”

Godless ki.png

“Lack of trust.”

Godless shinobu.png

“Probably lack of trust.”

Godless balancer.png

<Definitely lack of trust.>

Godless bokuonna.png

“Wow, lack of trust across the board! Hey, Mucho! That’s a rare accomplishment!”

Godless eshita warai.png

“Really!? Yay! I’m the best!”

Godless eshita awate.png

“Hey, wait! I’m super trustworthy! Who do you think you are, insulting me like that!?”

Godless shifu akire.png

“Gods?”

Godless balancer.png

<Your creator.>

Godless eshita warai.png

“You’ve got me there!”

Godless senpai awate.png

“B-but, um, isn’t it bad your local gods are checking up on you?”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Amazing, Senpai. Only you would try to steer the conversation back on track from that.”

That compliment made her kind of happy.

Godless senpai.png

“Thank you, Sumeragi-kun. Although I’m a little worried that just means I have trouble reading the room.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Not at all! The problem is that no one else even tries to read the room because they’re too caught up in their own ego! You can be as proud of this as you can your looks, your personality, and your boobs!”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Aren’t looks and boobs the same thing?”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Don’t you get it!? This means there’s way too much I need to praise her for! Listen! Her looks cover so many things, like her hair, her eyes, and her eyebrows! And looking down a bit, there’s her sexy lips with the lower one being a bit fuller and even her thighs which seem to have a bit more adductor muscles than is strictly necessary! We’d be here all day if I praised her for them all! My fondest wish is to have more time to praise her! Do you get it now, Kuwajiri!?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Sugawara-kun, I would love to learn more about your Auth Spell.”

Godless eshita warai.png

“Ah ha ha! She’s ignoring you!”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! What’s with this weird double team!?”

Godless senpai awate.png

“Sumeragi-kun, calm down, calm down.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Okay, I’ve calmed down. Everything’s fine. Just looking at you calms my heart like a soft drink!”

Godless shinobu.png

“What qualifies as a soft drink, anyway?”

Godless balancer.png

<In Japan, it is legally defined as a flavored, non-dairy beverage with an alcohol content of less than 1%.>

Godless tenma.png

“By that definition, tomato juice and soy milk surprisingly qualify as soft drinks. On the other hand, soup is a food, so it would not meet the ‘beverage’ part of the definition.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Do you like tomato juice or soy milk more?”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Senpai! Which do you like more!?”

I really wasn’t sure what to say when Sumeragi-kun directed that question my way out of the blue. I wasn’t cut out for thinking on my feet like this.

Godless senpai awate.png

“Well, um, if I had to choose…soy milk?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Correct. Soy isoflavones activate female hormones, so that seems to fit my image of you. Sumeragi, on the other hand, would probably be better suited with a highly-caffeinated calorie-free cola.”

Godless senpai.png

“Yes, that does sound about right.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Really!? Then I’ll paint myself cola colored and stuff myself inside a plastic bottle, so buy me at a vending machine!”

Godless shifu akire.png

“Hitting the button on the machine and having you fall out sounds downright horrifying.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Hey! Hey! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!”

Worrying that Sumeragi-kun would get stuck in there seemed like the wrong thing to focus on. And…

Godless omokane.png

“And it’s done. Their defection has been approved by the virtually-manifested Heavenly Gods.”

Godless raidou.png

“That went through quickly. Did you threaten them again? Your leaders really like to avoid trouble with the other mythologies, don’t they?”

Godless omokane.png

“Threaten them? Let’s not be silly.” Omokane laughed. “I think Amaterasu’s conservative side is a good thing for our top authority figure. But she’s being a little cleverer about it this time, Raidou-kun. This is about Shamash.”

Godless gil.png

“Shamash? What does she have to do with it?”

Curious, are you?

This had to do with them too, so Omokane tapped her Revelation Board without letting them see what it said. She had been using it to contact multiple people via divine transmission.

Godless omokane.png

“Listen up. Shamash is a sun god, but also a goddess. And women will form connections with other women. The male-female ratio of sun gods throughout the world is approximately 2:1, but in the virtual manifestation world, the female sun gods and other significant goddesses have been improving their standing and getting their name out there fairly well. So I went through some other Shinto goddesses with real manifestations to let Amaterasu know that a fellow sun goddess is in trouble.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“You Shinto gods sure do love setting up a bunch of hidden groundwork instead of tackling your problems head on, don’t you?”

Godless omokane.png

“Our weak position makes that a necessity. Unlike the big-name mythologies who can act Machiavellian for fun, we have to do it to survive. …Anyway, even conservative Amaterasu is willing to act if it will leave another mythology indebted to us. So while the Mesopotamian gods have captured their Sun God Shamash to save face, I doubt they will be able to keep that up for long.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Their laundry won’t ever dry otherwise.”

Godless omokane.png

“Yes, and they can’t put their futons out to air out either. Anyway, the Mesopotamians might outwardly say Shinto is pushing our luck, but we can at least establish a connection between Takamagahara and Shamash.”

So…

Godless omokane.png

“Grant Enkidu death, Eshtar. That will settle everything.”

Godless senpai komari.png

Does it really have to come to this?

Ki – Enkidu – En Kidou had to be “granted death”.

There was no avoiding it.

There was no other option.

But this bothered me.

Godless senpai komari.png

“Um…is there really no other way?”

Godless shinobu.png

“You mean about the rollback?”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Kidou En’s name has been entered into our rollback system as a special entry. Bilgamesh has not since no request was made, but we should be able to do the same with him. The odds of success are-”

Godless senpai komari.png

“No, um, I’m not asking if it will work.”

I explained what was bothering me.

Godless senpai komari.png

“If she’s rolled back, she’ll lose some of her memories and be confused about a lot.”

Also…

Godless senpai komari.png

“When someone you care about doesn’t remember you or you later realize they’re missing some memory you shared, it really gets you down.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Senpai! Has that ever happened with me!?”

Godless senpai awate.png

“Um, well, uh.”

It had. But…

Godless senpai komari.png

“You’ve made things even better after going through that, so it’s all right. But…”

Godless gil.png

“And you think it couldn’t be that way for us?”

Godless ki.png

“Bil, she’s saying we can’t know what it’s like until we’ve been through it ourselves.”

Godless senpai komari.png

“Sorry. I’m not trying to one-up your tragedy and I did kind of talk down to you there, didn’t I? I just think it would be better if there was some other way.”

Godless kuwajiri.png

“Could we reach a political resolution?”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Not a chance. The gods back home will see the usage records for this spear.”

Eshita-san put back on the clothing hanging on the fence around the air conditioner, so she probably needed her strength back to throw the spear. She sniffed at the collar and nodded, so they must have managed to dry off.

Tenma-san placed a hand on her chin at what Eshita-san had said.

Godless tenma.png

“Could you attack a part of Kidou-san’s body – like her hair – instead?”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“I’m granting her death, so the spear won’t disappear as long as any living part of her remains.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Why would you create a spear that has to kill someone!? You Mesopotamians are scary!”

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Yeah, I won’t deny we can be a pain sometimes.”

“Just do it,” said a voice.

Godless ki.png

“I’m okay with it.”

This is probably how it has to be, thought Ki while looking to Shamhat.

Godless ki.png

“Hat. When I was originally more of an animal than anything, it was you who brought me back to my senses and let me get to know Bil and the others.”

So…

Godless ki.png

“If I do lose my memories, fill me in on everything I lost.”

Godless pigeon.png

“So I’m your guardian?”

Godless ki.png

“I’d say educator.”

Godless pigeon.png

“I can do that, but I never did teach you all that much. I mean, you gained a lot more afterwards and that’s what really matters.”

Shamhat nodded.

Godless pigeon.png

“But I will make sure you can gain all of that again.”

That settled it. Ki decided it was best to get it over with quick before she could have second thoughts.

Godless ki.png

“Bil, I’ll see you again.”

Godless gil.png

“Of course you will. That’s why we are here.”

At least he was as strong as ever. I need to be strong too.

Then she turned toward a certain goddess.

The one they called Senpai.

Godless ki.png

“Thank you for worrying for me, even if this was already set in stone.”

Godless senpai awate.png

“No, um, I, uh.”

Godless senpai komari.png

“I think I was more talking to myself than anything.”

Godless ki.png

“What’s wrong with that?”

Ki recalled why she had come here.

Godless ki.png

“When you care about someone, it’s only natural to want to be with them and improve your relationship with them.”

Godless senpai komari.png

“––––––”

Did that trouble her? But Ki decided to offer her a silent prayer: Unknown goddess of a later mythology, may your kindness bring you happiness.

Then Ki realized how shockingly little hesitation she felt.

Godless ki.png

Oh, I get it.

She might lose a lot from this, but it would free her from the bonds of eventually being “granted death”.

I turned toward Senpai.

Godless bokuonna.png

“Senpai, do you want to do something about this?”

Godless senpai komari.png

“Eh? Yes, I know this is the only option, but I still want to do something about it. That’s probably just who I am.”

Godless shinobu.png

“You’ve got real courage, Senpai-chan.”

Godless raidou.png

“Yeah, you really do.”

Godless senpai awate.png

“Eh? No, I’m just gutless.”

That isn’t true at all, I thought. Senpai really is the best. Because…

Godless bokuonna.png

“Everyone feels the same way you do, but we’re all making excuses to avoid it. So I’m proud of you for being able to come out and say it!”

Godless ki.png

I’ll finally be freed from that.

No, she already had been now that she was in the rollback system.

Everything will be okay now, she thought while turning toward Eshtar.

She spoke to the goddess standing with black spear in hand.

Godless ki.png

“Do it.”

Godless eshita.png

“C’mon, at least look a little scared.”

They both smiled at each other as they got ready. Eshtar swung her arm a bit to extend the sleeve of the clothing she had just put back on.

Godless eshita.png

“I’m ready.”

Ki breathed in and shut her eyes.

And then…

Godless ki.png

“––––––”

If this is what death feels like, then it’s not all that bad really, she thought.

She would change things in order to survive.

Eshita chose to throw the spear.

That was partially due to the distance between them, but mostly because she didn’t want the tactile feedback of directly stabbing the spear into Ki. She also vocally psyched herself up.

Godless eshita shinken.png

“Ready, set, boom!!”

She threw it. And immediately…

Godless bokuonna.png

“Ready, set, boooooom!!”

The idiot pushed Enkidu out of the way.

Godless eshita awate.png

What!?

This of course came as a shock. Because the idiot was now in the path of the thrown spear.

There was no way to stop the idiot or the spear.

Godless senpai awate.png

“Sumeragi-kun!?”

That cry rang out just before the black spear stabbed half of its length into the human.


Chapter 32: Curse 01[edit]

Godless 1B 231.jpg

What do you call a punishment you didn’t ask for?

The spear stabbed me dead center of the chest. It clearly split my spine and stuff.

Godless bokuonna.png

Wow, this hurts like hell!!

C’mon, Mesopotamian gods, if this spear is supposed to “grant death”, couldn’t you make it a little more painless!? Agh, it hurrrrrts.

But when I collapsed backwards and looked down at my not-quite-huge chest, I found the spear was already gone.

I had been granted death.

That meant I was going to die. In fact…

Godless bokuonna.png

“Ohhhhhh!? There’s light coming from my arms and legs!”

Godless balancer.png

<That is a well-made “death”. It “kills” the target’s body as a data entity and releases the data bonds.>

Godless kuwajiri.png

“This kind of thing always starts from the extremities and works its way in, but shouldn’t it start from the top of the head too? I wonder why it doesn’t.”

Godless bokuonna.png

“Hey! This isn’t the time for analysis!”

Godless senpai awate.png

“Sumeragi-kun!”

Senpai ran over to me. Ohh, now that’s a super low angle. Her chest was jiggling and the crotch of her uniform was…how should I put it? Lifting up on her? Ahh, what a waste! Also…

Godless ki shinken.png

“Hey!”

Godless shifu akire.png

“Wow, you’ve really done it now.”

Those three busty goddesses gathered around me. Well, one was only a half-goddess, but the image was amazing regardless. I had to be the first human in history to see this. Thank you, god! Which god? Well, there’s plenty to choose from right here. Oh, but you stay out of view, Kuwajiri. You’d ruin the perfection of it.

Anyway, Senpai crouched down and peered into my face. She was crying.

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“Sumeragi-kun, why!?”

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“Sorry, Senpai. But…”

But this was another way.

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“That inspector was supposed to ‘grant death’ to that busy goddess, but she instead ‘granted death’ to their precious human by mistake. Won’t that help you in your negotiations, Omokane-senpai?”

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“You just gave me a lot more work, Sumeragi-kouhai.”

She gave a short laugh.

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“But if we do this through the DC, it will leave Eshita-kun in a much worse position responsibility-wise, so let’s settle this between Mesopotamia and Shinto. We can designate Shamash as the negotiator to smooth this over and build an understanding between us. We are the victims here because our human was killed. Let us discuss this with an understanding that we are prepared to withdraw our complaint if they send Shamash.”

But…

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“Why do this?”

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“Isn’t that obvious?”

I watched my feet and hands disappear and felt intermittent waves of excruciating pain, but I still managed to speak.

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“Even if those two aren’t separated by death, one of them still might lose her memories or have other issues, right!? I don’t want to find excuses for why that’s the best option! That doesn’t have to happen to anyone other than Senpai and me!”

This would be a problem for Senpai, but you could say it was just more of my troublesome antics.

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“Senpai.”

I wanted to say something, but what could I say to that tear-streaked face?

Argh, I could normally talk a mile a minute, but I was completely hopeless at times like this. Her emotion had overpowered me and I felt so bad. I wanted to say something. But…

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“Hey, are you okay!?”

Just as Mucho called out in a panicked sort of way, Senpai looked up at her with eyebrows raised.

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“You did this!!”

Eshita was overpowered for just a moment.

It was true she had caused this to happen and her awareness of that had let her be “defeated”.

But after taking half a step back on reflex, something else happened.

She had reached out her right arm while calling out to the human, but the nails of those fingers suddenly crumbled away.

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“…!?”

She thought it was some kind of destruction or collapse Auth Spell.

But it was not. Because her sleeve was still intact. Then was it an Auth Spell related to disease or death?

Godless eshita shinken.png

No!

This was something more fundamental. Gods like her were defended by many different divine protections and Auth Spells that provided a resistance against disease, death, and injury. Unless she caused the loss hereslf like she had with the previous dehydration, it was nigh impossible to harm her.

So what was this?

She suddenly recalled what Omokane had said.

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That goddess is the most powerful of the gods!

She had thought that was ridiculous and could not possibly be true. She had assumed it was a bluff.

But what was this?

She realized her fingers were collapsing too. This really was not simple destruction.

She thought it might be a drying effect since the skin looked parched and almost seemed to be disintegrating like a dry branch.

She quickly pulled her hand back, but the motion caused her hair to flutter out and the ends of that scattered in the wind too. Whatever this was, it was not going to let her escape, so she raised her voice against whatever was pursuing her.

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“Is this a calamity!?”

I gasped.

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“Ah!”

Now, I’ve done it, was my first thought. I had given into my emotions and grown angry. I had started to feel hatred toward her.

I looked out in front of me and saw Eshita-san there.

She was staring at me with her face pale.

It looked like she was afraid but was trying her best to hide that fact.

Godless senpai awate.png

“Ah…”

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“Senpai-chan, have you calmed down now?”

Shifu-san got down on her knees and held me in her arms from behind. Her presence and body heat brought focus back to my senses and not just my mind.

I really had done it just now.

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“What is the meaning of this?”

There was no hiding it now. While I tried to figure out if I should stay silent or say something, Omokane-san spoke up.

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“Let me assure you that was an accident. And that it was the natural reaction of a partner.”

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“That isn’t what I meant.