Chapter 1 – Participants in a Chance Meeting by the Storefront
Below the white sky, the midmorning flows of people that streamed through the streets of Musashi were coming to an end.
Everywhere in the town, people were transitioning to their work, which stretched from early morning to noon.
In the vicinity of central Tama, the café Blue Thunder had also entered into its pre-midday preparations. A string with a sign attached to it closed off the entrance to the eating area. Only the bakery section of the shop, which made use of the bread rack in front of the counter, remained open.
However, it was still too early for the morning to truly move into ‘pre-midday’. The female shopkeeper was still setting up inside the store.
“P-01s, you can leave once you clean da front of da shop with water. I’ll be expectin’ you in the evenin’.”
P-01s nodded and left the counter, moving outside.
A large road. The finishing touches to the roadtop had already been completed; the road was a place where people would pass by. Occasionally, a two-wheeled wagon or carriage would pass by, shaking the road and the materials that made it up.
It was the time for work, but tourists could be seen here and there.
“Judging from the situation, we will soon be at Mikawa. The city is coming alive.”
P-01s muttered. Using her personal functions, P-01s thought of Mikawa, which she had not seen for so long.
…Once every year, they came to Mikawa, the site of her beginning.
Musashi takes one year to circle the island of the Far East once. It docks at the residential areas scattered everywhere, delivering and selling goods, but according to the shopkeepers, even one year was not enough to circle the Far East.
P-01s thought of the words ‘last year’.
It seemed that P-01s had boarded Musashi from Mikawa last year.
…When she realized it, she was standing in one of Tama’s roads.
Someone had registered her as a citizen. She was allowed life due to the fact that the proof of citizenship that she carried was real and because the shopkeeper of the café had called out to her in the beginning and became her guardian.
What P-01s was thinking of now was the question that she had kept in her mind since then:
…Where does the product P-01s come from?
The shopkeeper had talked with businesses and offices multiple times, but she was not one of their products. Neither were there any lost items nor missing person requests for an automaton.
“I can see the IZUMO’s or the English method in your construction…but much still remains unclear.”
This was according to the technician who had examined her. When she heard ‘much still remains unclear,’ the shopkeeper had tilted her head, but what the technician was saying referred to the fact that automatons were amalgamations of Ability and machinery, and though they are industrial products, there is a lot of secrecy involved in their construction. In other words, she was an amalgamation of obscurity. Furthermore, the technician said this:
“Her soul is in her throat.”
She heard that automatons were dolls in which human souls resided.
Dolls did not move by themselves, but when souls that were able to absorb Fluid, the power of the earth pulse, resided in dolls, they set Drive systems and other similar mechanisms moving.
In her case, a component that seemed like a soul existed in her throat, at the base of her voice box.
“The thoughts and emotions of some great lady somewhere probably live in dat ornament.”
This was according to the shopkeeper, but the truth was unknown to her.
What she knew was that she was an automaton without memories of her owner.
P-01s brought her hand to face the tap in front of the shop, beside the door.
Using gravity control, she moved the pail under the tap without touching it.
Gravity control was a racial power unique to automatons. It was a necessary power for souls that resided in something to be able to move that in which it resided to make contact with its surroundings, so automatons by nature principally used this power to serve people.
Placing her body close towards the road, she filled the pail beyond her outstretched hands with water and pulled it closer to her.
She took it.
She splashed water on the path using a ladle.
This was something she always did. Once every morning, once before noon, and once in the evening.
A routine that always was. A job that she always did. Something that she should always do. It was something that she could do without having her think of what exactly she was, so it was something for which she was thankful.
…Speaking bluntly, I can guess that I am merely escaping.
The moment she thought of this,
A voice could be heard.
Small, black, round things were piling up from out of the ground at the edge of the road.