Prologue – Those Lined Up Before the Horizon
Oriotorai slowly uttered these words, looking up towards the sky.
“…the Harmonic Divine States, which fell from the Harmonic World in the ‘Destruction of the Harmonic World’ roughly a hundred and sixty years ago, merged with the Divine States, leaving cracks in between. After the ‘Harmonic Unification War’, this unified territory was, in effect, completely occupied by the countries that had come from the Harmonic Divine States, and the name of our island, the ‘Divine States’, was even changed to the name ‘Far East’.”
Oriotorai looked up at the clouds drifting through the sky, which was dotted with numerous pillar-shaped spaces, like holes in a piece of cloth. Listening to her speak, the class tensed slightly.
However, Oritorai continued to pour out a stream of words.
“At the time, there was a treaty, which stated that the countries of the Harmonic Divine States could not take military or political control. With this in mind, these countries established the Union of the Testament. They formed an academic institution, the Academy, which in turn acts as a militaristic and governmental facility. Using this loophole, they took our land. That’s why the principal countries currently hold the Academy as the most important governmental and military facility, under the regulations of the Testament Union. In this way, they provisionally occupied the Far East, dividing it amongst themselves. Making use of the monarchs who had been placed under their control, they reenacted the original war over the land as a battle between the students of the different Academies.”
This was not all.
“Kept separate from the Far East residency area, which was prepared by the provisionally controlled territories and countries on the ground, Musashi is the only acknowledged territory of the Far East. Even so, we’re still under the Testament Union’s surveillance. Anyway, as for the Far East Academy’s chancellor and student council president…”
She made to continue, but she was interrupted.
“They picked the least powerful and the least able person from our Academy to fulfill that role. Someone like Toori. They even went as far as to give him a nickname like “Impossible”.”
“Their reasoning for doing this was: ‘The fact that a powerful leader is not required is proof that the Far East is peaceful’.”
Hurling those words out was a boy wearing glasses. He was wearing an armband on which the words “Secretary: Neshinbara Toussaint” were written.
Closing a Torii-gate signframe whose display had been opened up in the air, he went on.
“It’s been like this for a hundred and sixty years. Because the Far East has avoided being targeted by the assorted nations by citing its mistakes as an excuse, we’ve always kept our heads down, cooperated, and paid our way. As such, even though we’ve become the Far East’s base of operations, our power’s in severe disarray because we are always moving. In other words, Musashi can’t do anything.
In any case, even though the students of the other countries don’t have an upper-age limit, the Far East’s students graduate at 18…and if you’re above that age, you can’t participate in the government or military anymore.”
“It’s often said in the Far East that the students are the privileged class.”
“And the countries of the Testament Union have a saying, ‘Those who are not students are hardly people’, right?”
Hearing Neshinbara speak so venomously, voices of protest emerged from the class. A boy in the middle brought some packet snacks to his mouth. He was wearing a nametag on which the name ‘Ohiroshiki’ was written.
“I can’t help but wonder, isn’t saying something like that rather dangerous?”
“It’s all right.”
“The Testament Union’s Gods of War fly around the ship to observe us, but they don’t have the time to pick up on our voices one by one. Also, we’re about to enter into Mikawa, which is governed by the ruler of the Far East and the owner of Musashi, Lord Matsudaira Motonobu. Mikawa’s under the Testament Union’s observation, but they’ve half-seceded from the Testament Union and they’ve allied with P.A.ODA, who’re openly hostile towards the Testament Union…So while we’re around Mikawa, the Testament Union can’t afford to move carelessly. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“Ehhhh, you’re so mature. But this time, it’s not just Tres Espana who’re observing Mikawa; it’s said that K.P.A. Italia’s Pope Chancellor has come to check on the new model of his armament of mass destruction, the Logismoi Oplo. Please have a little care…just a little is fine though.”
Oriotorai said, the corner of her mouth curved into a smile. Facing her, Neshinbara spread his arms outward exaggeratedly and bowed deeply. Seeing this, everyone breathed in..
‘But, well…’ Oriotorai muttered softly. A smile on her face, she cocked her head.
“This country’s been suppressed in this way, but…do you all know your plans for the future?”
Hearing her ask this, everyone remained silent.
Oriotorai did not ask any further, as if the silence itself was an answer.
…They’re all third years already.
Around this time next year, they’ll probably be somewhere that’ll answer that question for me.
“The world’s getting pretty noisy nowadays. The history book of prophecy, the Testament, hasn’t been completely reenacted, and with the end its description coming up, the “Westphalia Conference”, it’s being said that we’re probably facing the Apocalypse, in which the world will end. Everyone knows that the earth pulse is riddled with chaos, and Phenomena are occurring everywhere…Like M.H.R.R’s ‘The Piper’s Disappearance’ or Soviet Russia’s ‘Null Land’.”
The students who were battle-able Ability users as well as the students of certain lineages hardened their expressions. There had been incidents where they had been deployed to exorcise monsters born from the disturbance of the Earth Pulse, and they had detailed information concerning these phenomena.
Everyone lived a normal everyday-life, but occasionally a question that set them off would find its way among them.
This was the question.
“‘If the world is to end this year, what will our way forward be’…right?”
As she said this, Oriotorai re-stopped the parts fixing the hilt to the base of the sheathe.
“Well, it’s troublesome to think about, but things’ll be fine if we keep gathering points. We’ll eventually know what’ll happen to the world, so until then, do what you want.”
“…You feel that way too, Miss? ‘It’s troublesome that we’re being suppressed, but do what you see fit’?”
A puzzled expression on her face, Naruze inquired this of Oriotorai. Listening to her question, Oriotorai looked at the sky.
Oriotorai smiled slightly, and after a little while, she spoke again.
“Personally, I’m thinking about how I once thought of dying. That’s something from a while ago, though.”
Returning her gaze to the class, which stood before her, Oriotorai’s smile grew a little wider.
…Well, these kids will understand the pain of being in that place.
She nodded to herself before lowering her stance.
She looked at those who had, upon seeing her movements, reacted instantly.
“Alright then, if you have the skills in battle, you’re going to have to come with me. So follow me, and even if just a little, be ready to die. The rules are simple, if you’re able to hit me with an attack before I reach the office…”
“I’ll give you five more attendance checks. Do you understand? You’ll be able to skip class five times.”
Hearing these last few words, the expression on the class’s faces shifted.
Having heard these two words, ‘five times’, everyone whispered to each other.
“In other words, we’ll be able to skip five times in the morning…? If that’s the case…”
The class’s hopes were on the rise.
A boy raised his hand to draw Oriotorai’s attention. He was wearing an armband on which the words ‘First Special Agent: Tenzou Crossunite’ were written. His hat pulled low such that it covered his eyes, he spoke together with the flying half-dragon ‘Second Special Agent: Kiyonari Ulquiaga’, who stood next to him.
“Miss, having the attack “hit” and not “graze” should be fine, should it not?”
“Well, well, the battle-types are thorough, aren’t they? But yes, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, you know? I don’t care about your methods either.”
Hearing this, Ulquiaga folded his arms. With his dragon-eyes, he looked down at Tenzou.
“Did you hear that? This female teacher said that it’s fine no matter what we do, Tenzou. Is it fine if I use my power of imagination?”
“Jud. I heard her too. But, putting aside the story Oge-dono told us earlier, I ‘nearly’ touched that ‘female teacher’s’ butt the other day, and she managed to start a disturbance that removed the floor of the residential area, all by herself.”
“Hmph, Tenzou, even when faced with reality, the power of imagination is unmatched. That a ninja like you has not noticed that is regretful.”
“I understand. Then, um, Oriotorai-sensei, no matter where we touch or grope Sensei’s parts, we won’t have points deducted, right? Rather than that, we should get something like bonus points for…specific areas.”
“Ahaha, it’s you two that want to die before the lesson even starts, right?”
Saying those words with her eyes narrowed, Oriotorai stuck her tongue out.
Faster than anyone could react, Oriotorai jumped.
It was a backwards leap. Oriotorai jumped, leaving her figure in its black-jersey lying horizontally over the stairs that went down from the bridge and all the way to the tip of Okutama.
Her destination was the path below the stairs, which exited the second schoolyard and headed towards the bow. This was the road that led to the starboard, passing through the middle of the natural gardens, which split to the left and right due to the large wind tunnels used for air flow within the ship.
…The central-starboard passage, known as “Remorse Way”.
Ten years ago, after Musashi’s Great Renovation, the road was given this name.
Oriotorai knew why people had started calling it this name.
There was a stone plate in one of the shoulders on the right of the road, close to the entrance of the passage.
A stone plate decorated with flowers. It was about 50 centimeters in height. One sentence was engraved onto its surface.
–1638 All those who reside in Musashi pray for the girl, Horizon A’s happiness in her next life.
“Horizon, huh? For those kids, that’s definitely the name that became the beginning of everything…”
As she muttered, she looked towards the bridge. From her perspective, it was rotating upwards at a furious pace. For an instant, she caught sight of her class. Everyone atop the bridge had hesitated for an instant, unable to react.
Naive. If there were a cannon strike from an opposing battleship, they would have died.
Were they aware of thsi?
Voices were spilling out from the bridge, audibly the start of a single word.
Oriotorai heard their voices.
They had most likely started to say the word, ‘shit’. Were they regretful? It’d be fine if they were.
…Having been outwitted, they’d have to be.
So I thought.
I thought of the current Musashi’s chancellor’s board and the members of the student council.
…There were people who weren’t here, or simply absent. Yet, in general, all things strange had been gathered before her.
And they weren’t the only ones. They were all brimming with great things.
‘Interesting,’ she thought, smiling. And as she smiled, the students leaped from atop the bridge.