Prologue – Those Lined Up Before the Horizon
Across the counter of “Blue Thunder”, the female automaton stood there in an apron, her head lowered slightly. She placed the baked bread upon the shelf behind her; she didn’t spare the road a glance.
However, her face suddenly turned towards the back of the store. An oven used for baking bread stood there, and above it a kitchen counter, which held a stove that used the excess heat
The automaton moved her gaze towards the kitchen counter and the cooking equipment next to it.
Continuing to face that direction, she stopped moving, as if she had taken interest.
From the path, the numerous footfalls of a group walking briskly and the sound of their voices could be heard.
“–We’ve got to hurry up and get back, it looks like they’re comin’ this way. The town carpenter won’t be able to stop laughing.”
“If we’re being worked at a pace where we die from overworking, we’re not going to have the opportunity to use our money even if we get paid, y’know. But, at your place, that part-time working automaton…P-01s was it? Can’t it be sensible and close the shop?”
“We’re not gonna close, ya know. I’m a former samurai, so closin’ shop durin’ business hours is kinda embarrassin’. That child understands this too. Even at this kinda time, she’s waitin’ for people comin’ to eat their breakfast.”
The approaching voice said.
“All of you, it still seems rare to me, but that child’s been comin’ to this shop every mornin’ for a year, and I’m renowned for openin’ early in da mornin,. I was pretty surprised when that child stood outside our door, and outside of da name P-01s, she didn’t know anythin’, and she had no shelter, so it was pretty troublin’, but well…I’m glad I hired her. She’s got spirit. Anyway, recently, I haven’t even had to check da morning’s repertoire.”
“Spirit doesn’t have anythin’ to do with an automaton, right? They don’t have things like feelings, after all…”
At that point, the voices stopped. This was because the row of figures had come to the front of the store.
Within the crowd, a middle-aged woman, the owner of the store, turned to a few of the people of the crowd as they continued to pass by. A smile hovered at the corner of her mouth.
“She’s my pride and joy. Now, I’ve even started ta think about my own repertoire. Even if I put that in da menu in da future, I won’t be servin’ that to any noisy people, y’know?”
“Jud, that’d be horrible.”
Still laughing, the men and women left. The female shopkeeper entered the shadow of the store.
“Really, even though workers are supposed t’be equal. It’s not a big deal, right, P-01s?”
Hearing her question, the automaton returned her gaze and a nod.
The shopkeeper across from her placed her hands on her hips and sighed.
“Well, don’t worry about the noise. Then…I won’t be closin’ da store, but I’ll have ta bring in the sign out in front and throw out da water. When the din’s all over and I can take a breath, you can head home. You can take as much of the baked bread as ya want. Why don’t ya bake it a little more in the oven?”
With that said, the automaton nodded slightly.
Her gaze moved slightly, but not to look away from the shopkeeper.
Having been asked this, the automaton returned her gaze after a short while and nodded.
In response, the shopkeeper put a hand to her hips and sighed.
“You memorized my repertoire, so when ya think about what ta make yerself, it was always somethin’ plain, and there were a lot of failures, but…well, the basics’re important.”
The automaton said softly. She continued to speak with an emotionless voice.
“To increase the repeatability of Shopkeeper-sama’s work, around one year is needed. Speaking about the current situation, other than being asked “didn’t you put your heart into it?” by the customers, there are no problems. Currently, P-01s is in the midst of researching her original breakfast, but as a result of the desired product being unclear, P-01s is in the midst of pondering to which level she should investigate.”
“If that’s the case, then just do it ’till yer satisfied. The depths of egg fryin’ are pretty deep after all.”
The shopkeeper laughed a little. Sticking her hand out towards the automaton’s head, she patted it as if mussing her hair.
“A child who does their work seriously is a good child…When yer done, make one portion just like we always did in practice. Yer an automaton, but yer type needs food after all.”
‘Jud.’ the automaton nodded.
Immediately after, a voice tinged with nervousness could be heard from the stern of the ship.
“Th-they’ve finally come…”