Chapter 1 – Participants in a Chance Meeting by the Storefront
With the pail of water in hand, P-01s approached the direction from which the voices came.
The corner of the store’s lot. The gutters by the roadside.
Because it was connected with the sewage, wooden lids always covered the gutters. However, when she lifted up the lids, a black, round thing around five centimetres across poked out from below.
Its black figure looked like a clump of fur that had been matted with muddy water.
…However, according to their personal statements, they were algae.
Like a creature of some sort, the algae clung to the edge of the gutter with the bottom of its spherical body. It used its sensory organ to look around the area.
“We have not been found out. We are fine.”
The black algae that lay before P-01s’ eyes, the black algae creature, was a hive mind organism that worked in Musashi and many other cities to treat the sewage. They consumed the ‘dirtiness’ with photosynthesis, purifying it into ‘cleanliness’. Because of this, all the countries had formed contracts with the black algae creatures’ hive mind, supplying them with food in exchange for sewage treatment.
That was what these black algae creatures did, but every time they soaked in the sewage, they would be covered with it. The spilled sewage can be decomposed by the chemicals that leaked from the black algae creatures, but the same could not be done for the smell.
They knew that if they came outside from the sewers and gutters, people would hate them.
Despite this, they came here. There was a reason for this.
“Has the sewage stagnated again?”
Looking at it, the black algae’s body was slightly dry. P-01s judged that it was lacking water.
This was an area where the sewer pipes twisted. Because each ship of the Musashi was gigantic, the inner components fought an eternal battle, attempting to find a way to absorb the deformities of the outer shell.
…The central area is where the most creases took shape. Speaking further, this is the surface level, which is the least supported of all the levels. This was the reason there were so many ships where the centre of the surface level was hollowed out.
The black algae creatures wanted their food, the sewage. However, because the flow of the sewage had slowed down, stagnated and gotten stuck, someone had to use a brush to force out the stagnation and blockage.
Originally, this task should have been the responsibility of one of the managers in the public offices.
“…Jud., I understand.”
P-01s poured water onto the black algae creature.
Narrowing its sensory organ eyes, it let the water seep in fully.
It twisted below the gutter. The next one came out.
P-01s nodded and poured water on it.
The next came, and the next. This continued.
The seventh of them bathed in the water. The seventh creature thanked her and made to dive into the gutter. But differently from the others, it said this before diving inside.
“What do you mean?”
Having been asked this, P-01s tilted her head to the side. There was a smell. It was the smell of sewage. Because they were sticking their bodies slightly out from below the gutter, only she had noticed, but if the black algae creatures came out completely, the surrounding stores should notice. The truth was clear. Therefore, P-01s said this.
“Jud., to speak bluntly, it stinks.”
The black algae creature asked why, given that it smelled, she talked with them.
P-01s immediately answered this question.
“Your smell is not something that is given off because you are trying to hurt others. It is originally a smell that P-01s and the others created. You do not completely come out of the gutters, making sure that the smell does not spread. Speaking bluntly, because of this…P-01s has no reason to deny you.”
“Then Friends?” The black algae creatures asked.
“Jud., if that is what you call a relationship where two beings acknowledge each other.”
Hearing P-01s’ words, the black algae creature remained silent for a moment. However, after a few seconds, she said this:
“…I am called P-01s.”
The black algae creature compressed its body, as if to nod.
The creature left and the lid to the gutter closed.
P-01s raised her previously lowered hips. Just like the black algae creature had said, she rinsed her hands with the leftover water. She checked that the surroundings were not dirtied, but the black algae creatures had also absorbed the sewage that they had leaked.
As if in its stead, a figure fell.
The figure was a human. The black male school uniform was that of the Musashi Ariadust Academy.
However, the slender frame of the figure with fairly long black hair swayed before suddenly falling to the ground. The figure fell flat, but the knees did not hit the ground.
A thump rang out and a cloud of dust rose up.
…Does the fact that a cloud of dust rose up imply that not enough water has been spread over the ground?
Thinking this, P-01s called out the store.
“Shopkeeper, there is a customer. To speak of what she looks like, Masazumi-sama is as always…on the brink of starving to death.”