Chapter 2 – Masters’ Secret
“I can scrap you with just a finger.”
“Wh-what was that about!?”
“You’re trashy, Gappy.”
The one insulting is a petite girl called Daisy Stalk.
She has a vile tongue. Her appearance is that of a cute girl with soft, chestnut colored hair, but she’s actually feisty and stubborn.
“I-I won’t get scrapped.”
And refuting weakly is a robot smaller than Daisy. He has a semi-spherical head, a plump, grey upper body, and old–fashioned caterpillar legs on the bottom. “I-I-I-I-I’m not…a piece of junk.” his retort is lacking in vigor no matter how infuriated he is, for his voice installation is already faulty.
White smoke is pumped out from Gappy’s head. Whenever he gets excited, he’ll short circuit, and the sound he makes in such situations is the cause of his nickname.
Daisy points her cute finger at Gappy, and it looks like she’s declaring her victory.
“See, you’re broken! You’re a piece of junk here! Junk! Junk!”
Gappy refutes, unable to form a coherent sentence as he rushes at Daisy. However, his sudden attack’s easily dodged.
“Yay, you idiot!”
“Okay, enough already.”
I stand between the duo.
“Daisy, stop bullying Gappy now.”
“Master taught us before, no? ‘There is nothing worth disputing over’, and ‘being harmonious is beauty’.”
“We’re getting along well though!”
Daisy retorts. This child really is stubborn.
“Are you alright, Gappy?”
Worried, I check on Gappy. His head is fizzling with smoke, and screws popping out near his ears from time to time.
He certainly does not appear to be fine.
“Well, never mind. Let’s go have a checkup with Viscaria later.”
I pick up the screws, and get him to stand up.
Gappy continues to use his faulty voice installation and thanks me.
“Better scrap that scrap as soon as possible.”
“Hey, Daisy. You shouldn’t be saying that.”
“But it’s true. He wanted to eat some of my oil candy.”
“Didn’t I say you can’t keep it all to yourself? In this situation, you should be ‘halving’ it.”
“Anyway, what’s the reason for your argument now?”
I ask, and Daisy explains everything about how they got into an argument, without holding anything.
Daisy said that they were playing ‘horsey’ that morning. Gappy was the ‘horse’, and Daisy was riding on him, shouting ‘gallop gallop, heh~!”. However, on the third time, Gappy lost his balance, and Daisy fell, her head landing on the road.
“Why were you playing horsey?”
“For an act.”
“For the Prayer Festival, of course.”
“Ahh, I see.”
The Prayer Festival is an annual festival, a ritual to pray for the masters sleeping in the ‘Snow White’.
“What are you performing this year, Amaryllis?”
“Hmm, probably a lullaby. Like last year.”
“Who will you go with?”
“That’s still undecided.”
There’s a stage for the Prayer Festival, and the villagers will perform all kinds of ‘acts’ on the stage. There is no limit to the content, we can sing, dance, play magic–of course, ‘playing horsey’ is fine too.
“I’m definitely going to win a prize this year! Watch me, Amaryllis!”
Daisy beams confidently as she enters my embrace. “I suppose.” And I give her a smile in return.
“I too…Ga, do my best…ppy.”
Gappy enters the conversation, and Daisy yells again “Time to practice!”, riding on him. It appeared that she was ‘piggybacking’ on the shoulders instead of playing horsey.
“Wait, Gappy needs to go for repairs.”
“You’ll break down soon anyway.”
“Even so, Gappy needs to prioritize his repairs…Viscaria! Viscaria!”
I called for the best repairman through the wireless communicator. Most of the villagers have a wireless receiver in their mind circuits, and as long as the microwaves are within vicinity, we can contact anyone at any given moment.
10 seconds later.
“What is it, Amaryllis?”
Viscaria’s voice rings in my mind.
“Gappy short-circuited. Can you help check on him?”
“What? Again? Okay, I’ll go take a look.”
“I’ll leave it to you.
Once I’m done with the communicator, “Now then, no practice until Viscaria arrives.” I told Daisy, and turn to leave.
Ga, ppy, I can hear the voice from behind.
“Amaryllis, I want a hug~” “Carry me please~” “Pat me~”
I entered the village, and the children approach me. Whenever that happens, I’ll either hug them or carry them or pat them. No matter boy or girl, child-model robots like to fawn around.
After playing around with them for 5 minutes or so, “Sorry.” “See you again.” “Next time” I apologized, and pushed aside the fawning children who were forming a wave. If I promised them all, I won’t be done even when the sun set.
“Okay, the kids over there, reach your hands over!”
The houses carved out of ice were lined side by side, forming a beautiful scenery of silver and white. The children are playing some games in the garden of the nursery, and there’s about two weeks until the prayer festival as everyone practises without thinking about anything else.
–Now, what shall I do…
I hear the cute singing voices of the children, wondering,
–The problem here is that rule.
Every year, there is some rule in play for the prayer festival, and this year, it is a ‘male-female’ pair. To add on, last year, it was ‘to pair with a child’, and two years ago, it was ‘group with three or more people’. Every festival would have been the same if we didn’t change the rules a little, but even with this kind of mindset, it’s a little tricky.
–I have to find a partner…
I have a lot of options in choosing a child as a partner, like what I did last year. This year though, there’s a limitation of ‘choosing a robot of the opposite gender and a similar age’. My strong point is definitely singing, so i need to find an adult male who’s able to sing a duet with me.
“Goodness…now I have to look for a partner, and I don’t have a lot of options left for me…”
Right when I’m muttering to myself, brooding over this,
“Don’t you have me?”
Suddenly, my shoulder was grabbed.
“Please do not touch me so casually.”
I slap the hand off. “Ow, it hurts.” Eisbahn pretentiously shouts out, combing the blond slicked back hair he’s so proud of.
“Don’t be shy.”
“Why don’t you have a passionate makeout kiss with me? That’ll be the best act.”
“I rather be scrap metal than do that.”
I roll my eyes at Eisbahn, and he jokingly shrugs, showing no intent to reflect on his actions.
“And I already thought of who I want to pair with.”
“Heh. So who?”
“You idiot. That foolhardy guy won’t do. He can’t sing or dance to save his own life.”
“Then the chief…”
“He’s old! You’re always so enthusiastic, yet a late bloomer when it comes to dealing with men.”
“Sh-shut up. I’m not going around wooing people like you. And besides–”
At this moment.
Boom. A loud, booming sound echoes everywhere.
That’s an earthquake. The underground world of ice shakes, and it’s an intense earthquake. Before I know it, my hands are on the ground.
The tremor lasts for 10 seconds or so. However, this earthquake, which hasn’t happened in awhile, causes a huge commotion in the village, and all the children are crying.
“Hey, you alright, Amaryllis?”
“Eehh, I guess…”
–That was a huge one…
I look around, and the nearby buildings don’t seem to be obviously damaged. However, as the massive earthquake might trigger an earthquake, we’ll probably have to go around looking.
Right when I have this thought.
“All Senators are to gather for an emergency meeting. I repeat. All senators are to gather for an emergency meeting–!”
The Chief’s order enters the communicator, and we exchange looks before darting off.
All the other members are already present the moment we enter the Chief’s room.
The ‘head’, Village Chief Chamomile, is on the table, with the ‘mechanic’ Viscaria beside him. Seated by the side is Götz, dubbed the ‘iron arm’.
“Are you both fine?”
Götz raises his massive trunk-like right arm, cheerfully greeting us.
“Yes, we are.”
He has a tendency to end off his lines formally, as though it is a play, probably because he was originally a performance type robot, and rid himself of the artificial skin on his face to be able to portray all kinds of characters on the stage. Thus, the only parts left of his expression are the wrinkles between his eyebrows and the smile on his lips, and even as he was just sitting there normally, he seems a little terrifying. This masked man has a mask on, and as he’s dressed in a black collared suit, he looks like a mannequin dressed in a soldier uniform, giving off a really surreal vibe.
“Sorry, we’re late.”
“No, no. I would say that I have just arrived.”
Götz nods away with a stoic look. He may look scary on first glance, but he’s actually a kind person. The five of us, including him, are the ‘Senator’.
Anyway, the Senators here refer to the members of the ‘Committee’. There are basically two kinds of decision making bodies in the city. Things like changes in issuing supplies, treatment schedule and performances for the prayer programme will be decided by the ‘Committee’. In contrast, if it’s a big issue that can affect the future of the villagers, it will be decided by a ‘Village Meeting’ where everyone is involved.
“There’s no special reason to organize this meeting. Simply about the earthquake from just now.”
The chief raised the topic. That head rolls down the down.
“First, let’s have a look at this. –The Birdmap.”
In response to that voice, a faint light is given off from the table before us, and a map shows something resembling an ant hive. This is the ‘Birdmap’ that shows the entire village.
This loud cry comes from Viscaria.
“The ‘right wing’ got blocked.”
All of us look over at the map in unison. There’s a red light flickering on the path leading to the ‘right wing’. This is the signal indicating a problem.
Out of habit, we describe the appearance of the village as a ‘bird’. The center of the map is called the ‘body’, the core area with 80% of the villagers living here. In the 4 areas around the ‘body’, there are six sections gathered around it, the ‘head’, ‘tail’, ‘right wing’, ‘left wing’, ‘right foot’ and ‘left foot’. In any case, the ‘Snow White’ masters sleep in are located in the ‘head’, and right now, we’re in the center of the ‘body’, the village hall. The reason why there are so many areas isn’t simply because the ‘body’ isn’t big enough to contain everyone, but also to avoid the risk of complete annihilation of the villagers in case of a cave-in.
The area indicated by the blinking red light is one of the separate areas, a residential space called the ‘right wing’. This is the place where Viscaria came to deliver supplies the previous day.
“Is it sealed off? What about the bypass routes?”
I ask, “No can do.” and the village head just rolls about as he answers.
“Leaving aside the route leading directly to the body, the bypass route from the right foot is completely blocked off.”
“Do we have contact with the right wing?”
“Cattleya just gave a report. We have some young who are injured, but everything’s fine after some treatment.”
“Really? Thank goodness…”
For the time being, I heave a sigh of relief.
“What was that about? Just a cave in?” Eisbahn grumbles, putting his legs on the table. “Hasn’t those been happening recently? Can I go back now?”
“Hey, be serious.”
“But it’s troublesome.”
“Don’t you have a sense of responsibility?”
“I might consider if you spend a night together with me.”
Eisbahn’s bares his teeth, showing a glint as he waves his hand over his golden slick hair. This guy’s hopeless.
“To help each other in times of difficulty…this is the teachings of our masters.”
Götz notes with a serious look, “You’re noisy, shut up.” Eisbahn glares back.
“This is just me stating principles.”
“Always yapping away non-stop, shut up already, you bastard.”
Eisbahn’s glares with his blue eyes, and Götz’s silver mask gives a grim look. It’s common for the hardboiled faction’s Götz and the flirty faction’s Eisbahn to clash.
“—Back on point!”
Chief hastily cuts off the conversation, attempting to get back on point. This strange forceful habit shows up all the time.
“Anyway, we need to make sure the cut-off routes are back to normal. If batteries and supplies are not provided, lives will be affected…Viscaria?”
“What is it…?”
Viscaria has been scratching her head, staring at the Birdmap the entire time.
“As the lead mechanic, what do you think of this?”
Viscaria answers while she continues looking, “I think we should try to attack the ‘bypass route’.”
“Huh? Isn’t the ‘direct route’ closer?”
I raise this question that naturally comes. The routes leading the ‘body’ and the ‘scattered areas’ are called the ‘direct routes’, the main routes leading to the village. Conversely, the paths linked everywhere are called ‘bypass routes’, narrow and only used for assistance.
“Of course I want to use the direct route…”
Viscaria operates the control panel by her hand, and swtiches the screen.
“As you can see, the direct route leading to the right wing is very close to the energy cables of the ‘Snow White’. If we have to remove the ice through explosions and melting them, we need to be thoroughly careful in consideration how it will affect the ‘Snow White’. In contrast—”
Viscaria again switches to another screen.
“On the other hand, there isn’t any facility around the bypass route between the ‘right foot’ and the ‘right leg’, so there’s no problems with any violent works. As the lead mechanic, I do recommend this option.”
I agree with her explanation, and summarizes everything. We can’t let the meeting drag on for too long.
“I agree with Viscaria’s proposal to repair the bypass route. We can leave the direct route repair for later…what do you think?”
“This side agrees.”
Götz nods. “I’d say that I agree.” Chief too.
“…Well, since Viscaria says so, I don’t mind.”
Eisbahn puts his legs down from the table, look unenthused as his neck lets out a creak.
“Then it’s decided!”
I stand up, and look around at everyone.
“We’ll be leaving in 30 minutes. Everyone, gather at the south east opening once you’re done with preparations! Don’t be late!”
We meet up, and get down to work immediately.
The people involved are Eisbahn, Götz, Viscaria and me. Chief’s in the village hall, preparing for any sudden scenarios.
Through the long tunnel, we arrive at the ‘right foot’, and at this moment, it has been an hour since we left.
Once we arrive at the scene, I am left taken aback. The operation this time is to repair the bypass route between the ‘right foot’ and the ‘right wing’, but the collapse is worse than we expanded. The tunnel leading directly to the right wing has completely collapsed, and there are large chunks of ice blocking the entrance, so big that we have to look up.
“This is bad.”
Eisbahn mutters in shock, tapping at the massive ice blocks lying before us. We have not seen such a collapse in 10 years.
“This is where I show up.”
Metal arms Götz volunteers to work.
“Then get to work.”
Eisbahn waves his hand tauntingly.
“Hey, you too, get to work!”
“Enough already. Hurry up!”
I immediately shove this unenthusiastic colleague of mine.
“Eisbahn takes the right, Götz takes the left!”
“Alrighty.” “Roger then.”
Eisbahn and Götz face off against the large blocks of ice from left and right.
“All acts are impermanent. everything is everchanging.”
Götz lowers his body and raises his right arm. The arm, as thick as a lady’s waist, gives off a right light, and energy can be seen flowing.”
With a yell, Götz’s right fist slams into the ice block. Biki biki, web-like cracks spread on the ice block, and with a boom, the ice block shatters. This is Götz’s ‘iron arm’, the number one power in the village.
“Eisbahn, you too, get to work!”
“I get it already! …Ahhh, this is tiring.”
He grumbles as he raises his right fist above his head, his fingers reaching out as they give off a blue light, and he swings his fist diagonally at the ice block. Then, there’s a light coming out from the ice block, as it slides apart, becoming two. This is the ‘Phantom Blade’ Eisbahn is so proud of, the sharpest weapon in the village.
Buun, the blue light again slices a few blocks of ice apart. There’s a rustling sound and a red light next to him , as the ice blocks start to fall. They aren’t on good terms, but it’s strange how they have a nice chemistry.
“Woah, these two are really amazing…!”
“You’re the amazing one, Viscaria.”
“Today’s operation, the repair of the three-wheel, the check up on the villagers. Aren’t they are done thanks to you? It’s because of you that we’re still living.”
I give my praise, and Viscaria suddenly panics and says, “Ah, I’m not that great…” she adjusts her beret, lowering it by a lot, and the face beneath it is slightly red. She’s second only to the Chief Chamomile in terms of age, but she really can’t put on a front. This is something I find endearing.
“It’s over!” “We’re done!”
The voices of the duo can be heard from the shattered pile of ice. It’s really amazing to see such massive ice blocks get shattered like that.
“Good work, you two! Now leave it to me!”
I get onto the icemobile, and start the engine. Now’s my time to work.
Once I’m sure everyone is on the cargo rack, I press a switch on the steering handle. With a click, the lights at the front wheels are lit. This is a ‘multi-purpose directional heat wave firing installation’—commonly known as the ‘little sun’, a unique machine that can fire high heat in a semi-spherical shape.
I let the icemobile advance. 2km per hour, slower than walking speed.
So the shattered ice blocks are obstructing me. I maintain the original speed as I let the ‘little sun’ hit them, and with a whoosh, white steam comes out, as the massive blocks before me shrink as though they’re dropped in hot water. This little sun really is needed to melt the ice.
“Yep, this little sun is really convenient.”
Viscaria nods away in satisfaction.
“Okay, let’s get going! Hold on!”
I yell, and exert my grip on the handle.
With the dazzling ‘sun’, I proceed forward slowly. The ice blocks obstructing the tunnel evaporate with a fizzle once they touch the sun, and white steam fill our vision, so much that visibility is no more than 3m.
“Ahh~hhaa, how boring.”
Less than 15 minutes through the tunnel, and Eisbahn is already complaining. He’s lying flat on the cargo rack behind the icemobile, looking really dejected.
“How long more?”
Viscaria responds tersely. “Tch—” Eisbahn voices out in annoyance.
“Can’t we go faster?”
“We can’t. There may be a second collapse if this happens.”
Viscaria coolly notes, and all Eisbahn can respond is, “I really can’t take this…”
“Hey, where are you touching?”
“Just some skinship.”
Viscaria pinches hard at Eisbahn’s sticky hand that’s fondling her butt.
“Tch. Why are the Senator girls not cute at all?”
“Enough with the useless talk already.”
“And that’s why you can’t find a lover, Viscaria.”
“For me, machines are my lovers.”
Viscaria extends the feelers in her right hand out.
—Seriously, that idiot.
I keep on driving the icemobile, observing the cargo rack through the rear view mirror. Behind me is Viscaria, who’s watching the surroundings quietly; Further back is Eisbahn, lying down straight. Götz’s right at the back, completely quiet like a knight about to depart. This is a scenery that hasn’t change in a hundred years.
“Nn, the landscape’s low here. Slow down.”
Following VIsercia’s instructions, I lower the speed by 3 rotations. The speed is finally at 1km per hour, and we’re moving really slowly.
Melting away the tunnel quickly is forbidden here. Given the capabilities of the little sun, we can open a path by melting the ice, even if we are moving just a little faster, but this might cause the roof, already loose due to the earthquake, to collapse on us.
“Just lower the output a little more. Yes yes, at this speed.”
Viscaria continues to calculate and gives me instructions. At this point, she probably has numerous calculations going on in her head. Direction, sturdiness of the ice, output of the heat, speed of the icemobile. Nobody else can come up with some calculations.
Tremors reach my hands on the handle from time to time. The ice blocks that collapsed contain rubble of various sizes, so whenever I crash into an ice block, it’ll cause a tremendous recoil on the hands holding the steering handle. I continue to steer the vehicle that’s berserking like a crazy horse, moving at a constant speed.
And so, an hour passes.
Viscaria yells, “What is it?” I pull the brake.
Right when Viscaria shouts out, a loud rumble trembles.
Someone calls for my name, and so—
The world is shattered.
My batteries are restarted. My consciousness is back.
Something large is pressing on my upper body. Is it collapsed ice, or is this the afterlife? No, there’s no afterlife for the dead—
“You awake now, Milady?”
I open my eyes, and find a man’s face inches away from my nose.
I send the man flying away with a slam.
As I’m not controlling my output, the man really is sent flying away.
“You lowlife! Lecher! Shameless!”
“What’s with you? And I just saved you too…”
Eisbahn pats the back of his head that has collides, and slowly gets to his feet.
I lift my head in surprise. A block of ice above me was about to crush me, and its surface is chopped off cleanly.
“Well, good that you’re okay.”
Eisbahn switches off the ‘Phantom Blade’ coming out from his right hand. The blue burner-like lights slowly shorten, and finally vanishes into the hand.
“Did you just save me…”
“Quite a late realization there.”
“If you wanna, thank me with your body…owowow.”
“Don’t get greedy.”
I kick his naughty right hand that is reaching for my butt. I really wanted to convey my thanks to him, but seeing that gleeful face left me really disinterested.
“What about Viscaria and Götz…?”
“No need to worry. Look.”
Eisbahn points his thumb back. Opposite the toppled icemobile, I can see two figures.
Suddenly standing before me is Viscaria. Her iconic beret has fallen off, revealing short red hair.
“Lady Viscaria, may I inquire if you are fine?”
Reaching a hand out to her is a silver man. “Sorry about that.” Viscaria answers as she holds the hand.
“You may dispense with the thanks.”
—Thanks goodness. Everyone is okay.
I heave a sigh of relief. Without Götz and Eisbahn around, who knows what would have happened to us.
I look around, and mutter.
“Where is this place…?”
It’s a space I have never seen before.
It’s a large space that’s very warm, so warm one won’t think of it as being in ice. There’s a huge hole in the roof, and it seems the earthquake causes the ‘bottom’ of tunnel to fall off, and we end up falling into this space.
To deduce where we are, I pull out the Birdmap from my mind circuits.
—Eh? There’s no response?
Every villager has a signaller installed in their bodies, just in case, and it’ll be indicated on the Birdmap in the form of a red light, but I can’t see anything.
—What’s going on? There shouldn’t be a place in the village where the radio waves can’t reach…
Suddenly, an excited squeal can be heard.
I see that it’s from Viscaria. She’s looking around the room, “Amazing! Amazing! So this is the Full Mobile?” “Is this the Poly Screen?” squealing away.
“What’s the matter?”
I leap over a collapsed block of ice, and arrive at her side.
—Eh, what is this…!?
Like Viscaria, I too let out an impressed cry.
Rows of massive containers are stacked like dominos in the innermost section of the room. At the side of the storage are sofas lined out in a single file.
I look to my side, “Yeah.” And Viscaria nods away.
“No doubts about this. This is ‘Masters’ room.”
Having a brief look of it, it’s about 20 square meters. We never discovered such a large space near the village.
—This is really amazing…
I walk in the room, overwhelmed by this scene. Every day, I can see the ‘Snow White’ our masters sleep in, but it has been more than a hundred years since I’ve seen a space humans live in. The books our masters read, the water our masters drink, the sofas our masters sit on—
I’m so touched to a point of being speechless, and can only let out a sigh.
Everyone present is moved. Even Götz, who’s as unflappable as they come, is going “We have a new discovery.” “A grand discovery it is.”. Viscaria in turn is staring at one item after another. Eisbahn, who likes to lean by the side, “Amazing, really amazing…” has been looking around like a child. We have forgotten the fact that we have fallen in here, thoroughly mesmerized by this strange room.
“Hey, have a look!”
Suddenly, Eisbahn shouted.
“What is this?”
He picks up a multi-purpose terminal, and on that screen, it’s showing a video.
It’s a naked woman. She’s twisting her waist in a sexy manner, looking very lewd.
“Kyaa!! Wh-what is this!?”
“What do you mean? An ero book, ero book.”
“Th-th-throw it away! Right now!”
“But this is our masters’ belongings.”
Saying that, Eisbahn switches through the as though he’s reading a book. And so, the woman’s getting more intense—woah, eh, this, she’s naked, hugging, like this—
“So this is the ero book they talk of…it’s the first time I’m seeing such a thing.”
Eisbahn’s eyes are glittering, like a child who just came across a new toy.
“Look at this Götz. This is really amazing.”
“You have been talking about lewd all this while…uu.”
Götz’s eyes are practically glued to the screen. “This is too unbecoming.” He mutters as he keeps flipping the pages. The naked images of young women appear one after another.
“Hey, what are you doing here, Götz!?”
“No, simply trying to investigate what is inside. Erm, I absolutely have no interest in lewds—”
“I’m confiscating this!”
I snatch the terminal from Götz’s hands, and in the process, the naked lady lets out a sexy groan. I hurriedly switch it off.
“Götz is still a man after all…”
With a strangely impressed tone, Viscaria returns from deep inside the room.
Her hands are holding a replay video of two naked men embracing each other.
After a while.
“What is this…?”
I continue searching, and find a really amazing scenery in a corner of the room. Over there, a massive monitor occupies the entire wall, and there’s a robot seated before it. It seems the robot has used up all its energy as it collapses on the table.
“Everyone, come here!”
I call through the wireless, and the other three come over. Upon seeing the robot slumped before the monitor, “Who is this?” “Never seen this face before.” The men frown.
“It’s a goner” Viscaria shuts the chest of the robot, and shrugs, “Thoroughly ‘dead’. The mind circuits have been wrecked for 30 years.”
“30 years…so it has been alive for the first 70 years?”
“What’s it doing all this time…”
There are numerous panels before the robot, but all of them are cut off. Viscaria tries to repair them, but the situation is so dire that it will take a long time.
“It’s like a control room.”
After this, we find a rope and ladder inside, and manage to escape safely. We thought it would be difficult to escape, and we’re really lucky that it’s so easy.
Personally, I still want to investigate that space, so I do have some regrets. However, the repairs to the bypass route is of utmost importance, and we can’t delay it.
I quietly make up my mind to revisit this place, and get onto the tribmobile.
At this moment.
Suddenly, I sense a gaze. Someone seems to be staring here.
—Who is it…?
I quickly turn my head around.
But there is no one inside the room.