Cradling a Flower in a Broken World

Merry Christmas! God sold us.

Cradling a Flower in a Broken World is Manbo-Dead-Behind-the-House-P's second album. Along with the songs, there are three short story segments in the booklet and four audio dramas which tie it all together, and I finally got around to translating them.

Yes, a bunch of Manbo songs which no one would have ever before thought were related at all actually exist in a sort of continuity. I'm as amazed as you, really.

The overall story is based on God's An Energy Cheapskate (though that song isn't on the album). It also introduces Mikoshi Hinata, God's secretary, who starred in Rain Under the Umbrella. (That's not on the album either.)

While I did my best with the drama tracks, some parts were just plain hard to make out, so forgive any errors.


- Taking Opportunity in a Broken World -

Humans have such a crush on God. They put their faith in her, revere her as an entity with which they can never compare, and when the world irrationally turns its fangs on them, they pray for her help.
If you want my opinion, it's humans who are irrational. They pray whenever they please, like it's a toll-free call center open 24/7 for 365 days a year. They're so naive as to think that their belief alone makes them worth saving. And they irresponsibly quarrel with their fellow man over it.
Idiotic. I simply can't trust such creatures as them. That is my conclusion as the creator of this planet Earth.

"Lady Victoria. It's almost time," Mikoshi informed me, expressionless. For how nervous I was, he was taking it rather calmly.
With this presentation I was about to do, I could finally part from that troublesome job as goddess of Earth. I was so tense, I felt like I'd burst. And unfortunately, while I'd gotten all dressed up, I couldn't stop sweating.
I checked over the script again and again in the wing of the stage. Of course, I'd memorized what it said. It was all humiliating data I'd never be able to forget, like it or not.
And I had to skillfully talk my way around it all. It was a reckless task, not unlike trying to sell a single dried-up glove found on the road by making someone believe it was an expensive handbag from a quality brand.
I heard the sound of applause. The presentation before mine had finished. I knew they were for someone else, of course, but the cheers made me feel good. I wanted to be the next one to bask in them.

"Next, from Manbo Planet Inc., we have Lady Victoria's "Earth.""
I stepped on stage after the chairman's introduction. The audience gazed at me like they were seeing quite the rare sight.
A reasonable response. My company was a solid fourth place in the planet cultivation business, and it wasn't often you'd hear our name at such a premier-class auction. It was nigh impossible to wedge your way in; the top three had a monopoly.

I took the mic from the chairman and did a greeting bow. And with my head lowered, I put up my perfect smile forged through centuries of work. How d'ya like that, huh? Adorable.
"I've prepared something that's sure to please all you keen-eyed planet-lovers out there. The third planet of the solar system, Earth!"
With just those first words, the roof of the hall seemed ready to pop off from all the commotion and sneering.
A planet in such a remote region as the solar system... I knew that information alone would make the planet-lovers be unwilling to buy. But all I could do was ignore them and keeping pushing.
"I started cultivating this planet 4.6 billion years ago. Now, it has a beautiful natural environment and a diversity of creatures. And today, I'll show you a "human," the planet's predominant intelligent lifeform."

I looked to Mikoshi waiting in the wing, and he walked my way, stretching his back tall. He didn't seem nervous. He was just doing his job, as disinterested but devoted as always.
He stopped beside me, and the applause continued until I bowed my head toward the audience.
"This is a human male, Mikoshi Hinata. As he works as my secretary, there are a few differences from the average human, but it's all within a small margin of error, you know. As you can see, visually, they're much like myself."
Some of the people in the audience seemed to have questioning looks about the word "male." Sheesh... I was getting fed up, just as anticipated.

"...Humans can't create offspring by themselves. They use a "sex" system, as is seen in some lower species. You may have heard that the requirement for a male and female can be quite inefficient, but with that inefficiency comes love stories... Yes, it can stir up all kinds of drama."
I tried to make it sound theatrical, but the stupidity of it all made my head ache. Really, it was all because of a lack of budget. I only had so many parts I could give to each human, so I made them in two kinds as a desperate measure.
I could practically hear them thinking "what useless fluff" in the audience. Yes, you'd be exactly right about that.

With the air heavy like a class meeting where no one wants to be the representative so they all just look down, the presentation went on, and we reached the question and answer session.
Most of the audience had lost interest in the middle, but there were a few hands up, so I accepted a question from a bearded man on the left side.
"Yes, I have a question. You mentioned earlier that this Mikoshi Hinata has a few differences from an actual human, but looking at the numbers on this handout, I really don't think "a few" could be accurate. About what is the average human's lifespan, would you say?"
Oof. Just the question I didn't want to hear. A pamphlet with more specific data than my presentation had been distributed to the visitors.
I reluctantly wrote the real info in there since I could be arrested for fraud if I wrote lies, but I'd hoped to make it all vague and appealing in the presentation to avoid the parts that were inconvenient for me.

In order to serve as my secretary, Mikoshi was a step above the rest. He was more or less immortal, and his intelligence and stamina weren't bad.
The framework of the human species was thoroughly wasteful; to be truthful, they're such a faulty lifeform that you could whittle down about seven dozen non-essential parts.
So making Mikoshi was as challenging as turning a calculator into a supercomputer. And shockingly, the lifespan of the calculator - the average lifespan of mankind - was...
"About 120 years."
A little bit of an overestimate... Well, it wasn't an impossible number, I suppose. Still, the guests gawked, yelling "That's so short!" and "They're like bubbles!" I'd surely be laughing too, if it weren't me.
The bearded man who asked the question snorted, thanked me, and sat down.

Then a young woman two seats over, perhaps having her interest rekindled by that exchange, raised her hand.
"Um, I was just looking over this data here... Could you explain this "rain" system that circulates water?"
...Augh, this is the worst. Of all the things to ask about... One of the key elements in selling a planet for a high price is "a system of order."
Things like the laws of physics and the food chain fit into this, but of particular concern was how to circulate water, which life needs to survive.

"Simply put, rain is a phenomenon where water stored up in the sky falls to the ground. This supplies the ground with water, then it flows down rivers and seas, and then through evaporation it returns to the sky."
It was a crude explanation, I have to admit. In the past, Mikoshi had laughed at me because of how the irrigation systems humans developed were far better at controlling the water.
Falling from the sky? Who could want such a crude, troublesome method of distribution? The guests roared with laughter.
I heard one commenter say, "It says here that 70% of the planet is water! That's so much empty space!"
The woman who asked the question was dazed for a moment. Then suddenly coming back to her senses, she launched a second question.
"H-How do humans deal with this rain? If it's all right, I'd like to hear Mikoshi's answer."

I handed the mic to Mikoshi. He looked over the hall without any sign of losing his cool. I'll sink you into the sea if you answer wrong, y'know!
"...In my time observing the human world, I've found that they hold small portable roofs called umbrellas above their heads as they walk. Though they can create flying machines, they are powerless to deal with rain."
You can put more of a spin on it than that, you moron! You're practically admitting outright that humans are helpless idiots! I pinched Mikoshi, careful that the audience couldn't see, and he continued.
"W-While it is inconvenient, I do not dislike rain. It is a very human thing to enjoy some quiet time at home when you are unable to leave. Quite poetic, yes. I would describe them as a stylish species, not to toot my own horn."
I wondered if I should follow that up, but it was an undeniably human opinion. I didn't even look at the crowd's wide-eyed reaction. He always spoke highly of humans, and that kind of human impudence is something I really didn't care for.
The eyes of the woman who'd asked the question seemed full of pity, and she thanked him.

Then there was silence in the hall. It seemed foolish to ask any more questions at this point. The explosive question of the crooked axis still remained, but no one even touched on it.
After the Q&A, the auction began. Naturally, there were no bids.
Furthermore, there wasn't even the slightest applause.

"Mikoshi! Come here! Mikoshi!", I yelled in the workshop.
I was fed up. The premier class auction the other day which I'd gotten all dressed up for got us nothing but embarrassment. Since then, I'd just been lounging around in a jersey doing nothing.
"What is it, Lady Victoria? Another shopping errand? Or a pizza delivery? I think you might consider taking a second look at your eating habits."
It wasn't uncommon that this rude man would come into my workshop and right off the bat berate me, a goddess, with meddling conjectures.
This was supposed to be a situation of being summoned by your god, but he acted like a little brother coming into his sister's room to borrow some scissors.

"Watch your attitude. I'm a goddess, you know?!"
"Yes, indeed you are. That was terribly rude of me." His expression told me that what he was saying wasn't what he was thinking.
His black hair, well-groomed for the presentation, was now a mess. It hung slightly in front of his eyes, and I don't know if it was that or if they were always this way, but those eyes lacked ambition.

"And aren't you slacking quite a bit yourself? You're my secretary, so please, make yourself presentable."
"Don't "yes'm" me! I can see that pink T-shirt under your Y-shirt! What does that say, "hot springs"? You want a vacation?"
"If I may say, a god wearing a jersey is one to talk. And are you going to do anything about all these eaten sweets strewn around? You're like a crusty old office lady."
"Please, try to keep it together during work hours. At the very least, I do my job."
I couldn't retort. Indeed, if we were talking about who was fulfilling their duties, I was the one failing to do so. It's a wise man who can talk down a god. ...Well, of course, I made him.
"...It's due to your lack of professionalism that this planet won't sell."
So what? I can do what I want. I'm God.

"So then, Lady Victoria. For what have you summoned me to your room?"
"Hm? Oh, right. I'm ordering you to observe the human world. Blend in with the humans as usual, and give me a report on how the human corporations are faring."
"Again? I last went just a few decades ago."
"A few decades is plenty of time for humans. Don't you at least know that much? Their technology has been advancing faster these last few centuries especially. No harm in doing a thorough check."
"Is this not something you could simply observe from the heavens, Lady Victoria? Do you intend to slack off again and have me do all the work?"
"Oh, shut up. My clairvoyant eye has dry eye, so I don't really want to use it right now! Besides, I'm a goddess and I created you to be my secretary, so of course you're going to work for me!"
It had been like this for the past few millennia. Mikoshi had been so obedient at first, but he gradually started talking back. Unfortunately, he did a perfect job, so I couldn't scold him too harshly.
In a way, I was waiting for him to make a human blunder, but other than smack talk, he was serious, punctual, tactful, and a good decision-maker.

Whatever the reason, as he saw it, I wasn't doing any work. To be sure, I was taking a bit of a break to get over the exhaustion of that presentation, but as the manager of the planet, I couldn't very well stop working.
It wouldn't surprise me if Earth eventually crumbled without my involvement. For example, the latest big thing I did was... Uh. Well, anyway.
"Sigh... I thought I drilled it pretty deep into you not to defy me, but I guess it must have faded."
"I do not mean to defy you. Rather, this is part of my duty to support you, Lady Victoria."
"...What about your duty to look presentable on the job?"
"I think I am fulfilling it to an extent."
"You think "to an extent" is good enough?"
"Thanks to the capacity for learning you granted me, I understand how much I can slack off without causing issue. Being that you are slacking moreso, you should not be so harsh."
Seems I gave him parts I shouldn't have. If only I'd cut down on the learning and added to loyalty... No, then he'd probably just be a useless clingy stalker.

"Anyway! I want to be sure we can sell at the next auction! So I need to upgrade the Earth some more! And to upgrade, I need to know where it's at right now! And to know where it's at right now, I need you to go to the human world! Got it?"
"Understood. However, I feel we picked the wrong place to sell to begin with. We should aim for an auction several ranks lower. Without the three key elements of order, environment, and life, it won't fetch a high price, now will it? Though I think the life is quite superb..."
"Oh, be quiet! Life is our biggest weakpoint!"
"Weakpoint? Certainly not! It's rare to find lifeforms so brimming with drama!"
Mikoshi was biased toward humans. A large part of it was being a human himself, but it seemed that sending him on so many observations of the human world made him fall for them.
"Imperfect creatures face hardship due to their imperfection, and then make it through despite such... Do you not think that wonderful?!"
"Drama" was an excuse that I'd used in the presentation, but I could have no such feeling to that effect whatsoever.

"I never wanted to create a product that appealed to such weird tastes. They need to be clearly superior lifeforms to sell for a high price!"
"In that case, you certainly should reconsider where you want to sell."
"Hmm... But the contract dictates I only get 35% of the sell price, doesn't it? I'd really like to sell a bit higher..."
"Think about it realistically. ...Although I must say, Lady Victoria, if you abandon them, the slovenly humans may easily crumble. It is my desire that you prolong the sale."
"Slovenly? Are you with them or against them?"
"I like humans. And how they are slovenly."

I couldn't understand him one bit, but yes, I knew I had to be realistic.
But I had my pride. Despite all this, I was supposed to be a leading figure in Manbo Planet Inc. Not the kind of person who was typically given a project like Earth.
No, maybe it was because of my excellence. In order for my company to combat the top three in the industry, they had to accomplish what those three couldn't. So they started a planet project on a very low budget, and that was the start of my bad luck streak.
My boss, hoping to earn a promotion by making rash decisions that caught people's attention, told me "If this succeeds, it'll be an epoch-making business model!", and after writing just a proposal, pushed the rest of the Earth project on me.
He gave a presentation claiming it was perfectly feasible, but featuring a lot of empty, unproven theories - and at the end, he insisted that I could make it work.
I was given 10 quintillion yen in funds, which was 1/600th the market price. In laymen's terms, it was like being ordered to make a full course dinner with salt and weeds.

"So you stated you wished to know the current state of things, but that's a bit vague. What should I be focusing on?"
"Right, well, I suppose scientific developments. That's one of the easiest ways to show the superiority of a species."
"I see. In my last visit, they were already planning to go to space, so I would expect it's not long before they grasp the laws of physics."

Time stopped.

"...Huh? What'd you say? Weren't they just finally able to fly last time?"
"...Don't tell me you didn't read my previous report?"
"Unbelievable... You really aren't working. What point is there in going if you aren't going to look at my results?"
"That's not important right now! Wha? They're already to that point?"
"They're rapidly developing their technology, so I expect it has progressed quite a bit in the past few decades. As of my last observation, they had established quick communications with humans on the other side of Earth, and few incurable illnesses remained. They must be figuring out all kinds of natural phenomena."
This was alarming. Who could have guessed this was going on in the human world? Advancement was a good thing, sure, but there were things I didn't want them to know. It was worrying that they'd have knowledge beyond my control.

"Why didn't you tell me something so important, you idiot?!"
"Because I put it all in my report!"
"Ah! U-Uhh..."
"Why do you seem so disturbed? It should be something to rejoice over."
"This is no good. The natural laws of this planet are full of bugs... They'll find out..."
"Yeah. Normally I'd hire an expert to do the programming, but to cut costs, I tried to imitate it myself this time. Now, it hasn't caused any huge problems so far, but sometimes there are weird things, right? Look, just now, a dead sunfish suddenly appeared behind someone's house."
"That's... quite shocking."

"And if they try to figure out the laws of physics, what'll happen if those illogical bugs occur? Lots of stuff that won't fit into what they've worked out already. At first they'd doubt themselves, but soon they'd notice that it's their weird world itself!"
"And what of it?"
"You tell me! What would you do if you knew there was a chance the ground beneath your feet might suddenly vanish under you a second later? Lifeforms in a world they can't trust are going to panic, and they're going to perish! If that happens, the budget savings mean nothing!"
"I... I see."
"You go to the human world right now and find out how much of that they've exposed! And come back right away!"

This was getting to be very serious. ...Yes, I recognized that I hadn't been doing any work. If I'd known sooner...
No, no, calm down. I know humans better than anyone. They shouldn't even be able to doubt me. If they feel like figuring out the truth of their planet, I'll just have to get in their way. And I'll have to be sure not to miss the right time for it.

"By the way, can I put away this junk on the desk?"
"Huh? Yeah, please."
"And give me anything that needs washing. Don't make any more lonely socks, please."
"What are you, my parents?! I'm YOUR parent! Just shut up and do it!"
"It's just that I'll be gone for a while, and I worry for letting you do it yourself. Also, next Thursday is nuclear waste disposal day, so make sure you put it out by 8 in the morning."
"Ugh! You're such a pain! Just get going already, you stupid hot springs lover!"
"Pardon me."
He closed the door to the workshop and left me alone.
I'd made up my mind. When he came back, I'd bury him in a shallow moon crater.

[Following Story 1 is the first track, The Aurora Had More Than Open Pores.]

- Suffering Defeat in a Broken World -

(A phone rings, and continues to ring throughout the following lines.)
Victoria: (Tired and annoyed) Ughhh... What could it be? ...Isn't it only 1 in the afternoon?
(She struggles to get up, then suddenly tumbles out of bed along with sounds of crushing cardboard.)
Victoria: (Whining) Whaaat? Oh... geez, a pizza box... Don't leave this lying around! *grumble*
(She finally picks up the phone.)
Victoria: Hellooo?
Mikoshi: Good morning, Lady Victoria.
Victoria: Mikoshi? Whaddya want this early? ...Oh, hey, and throw out the pizza boxes!
Mikoshi: *sigh* Try to wake up, please. I've been here in the human world for some time, as you ordered.
Victoria: Wha - ? ...Ohh, right... Well then, how does it look?
Mikoshi: Don't tell me... you haven't been watching the human world at all, have you.
Victoria: (Angry) Hey, if you're really doing your observation, I shouldn't need to!
Mikoshi: *sigh* Well, then... you don't know any of it. What you feared has become reality.
Victoria: (Surprised) U-Uh? S-So you mean...
Mikoshi: Yes. The humans have begun to doubt their world itself.
Victoria: WHAT?! How could those humans be so fast...?! ...Get me the details and come back right away!
Mikoshi: Understood.
(Victoria hangs up.)
Victoria: *heavy sigh* Humans... So they've been advancing... What do I... *sob* What do I DO?!
(The door slams open.)
Mikoshi: Hello, I'm back.
(She quickly leaps up.)
Victoria: MIKOSHI?! Wasn't that awfully fast?
Mikoshi: Well, actually, I made the call from quite nearby.
Victoria: Then you should have just come back so we could talk normally! Why'd you have to go and wake me up with a call?!
Mikoshi: I'm terribly sorry. ...Perhaps I wanted to hear you half-asleep.
(Victoria grunts angrily and punches Mikoshi with a comical sound effect. He makes moans of pain.)
Victoria: ...So then, your report?
Mikoshi: It... it's as I told you. Not long ago, they researched a phenomenon which they consider to be quite a big bug... and the humans are questioning the stability of the laws of physics themselves.
Victoria: (Gasping) It's all because of those pizza parties I held for myself... *sob*
Mikoshi: What shall we do next? It will be difficult to clear their doubts. Because once they doubt... they find out the truth of their world.
Victoria: (Sighing) Well... There are a couple options, like erase all their memories, or reduce their intelligence, but... I'd really rather not. It'd tank the price.
Mikoshi: Tank... the price.
Victoria: Really, it's gotten so hard to guide the direction of their advancement. I'll have to keep them from destroying themselves somehow... hard as that is.
Mikoshi: I'm relieved to hear that. I'd feel bad for the humans if you were to employ such rash methods, after all.
Victoria: I'm not going to do anything that would just undo all my work. I mean, progress itself is something to be glad about, really.
Mikoshi: Indeed. ...Ah... but come to think of it, I have something else quite delightful to report.
Victoria: Eh? Ooh, what is it?
Mikoshi: (Proudly) Mankind has finally made contact with other intelligent lifeforms!
Victoria: HAAAH?! What the... when did they...?! That's not something to delight at at ALL you IDIOT!
(She whacks him again with a clanging sound.)
Mikoshi: Ack - please stop hitting me so much...!
Victoria: (Angry) You'd better give me a detailed explanation, right NOW!
Mikoshi: ...Yes. Lady Victoria, do you remember those other lifeforms you created besides humans?
Victoria: Yeah... I was just trying stuff because humanity was so hopeless. Though in the end, none of them were really any different from humans...
Mikoshi: Due to their treatment, they moved to places where mankind couldn't reach them. Like the undergrounders, and tengu, and kappa.
Victoria: Yes, and?
Mikoshi: Now they CAN reach them! Progress is amazing, isn't it?!
(The music stops.)
Victoria: ...Hey, you know how humans are huge idiots who readily fight and kill each other over people being the tiniest bit different from themselves? If you put them with creatures who hid away ages ago for that exact reason, there's going to be WAR!
Mikoshi: It's quite all right. There's certainly no trouble of that sort right now.
Victoria: Sure, "right now," you say...
Mikoshi: They've advanced to the point of noticing quirks in the laws of physics, after all. Surely they wouldn't have any futile conflicts.
Victoria: *sigh* I wouldn't really think so... ...So which intelligent lifeform did they make contact with, exactly?
Mikoshi: The undergrounders.
Victoria: Undergrounders?! *sigh* That's a troublesome one to pick...
Mikoshi: Troublesome... how?
Victoria: It's the fact they're underground at all. Did I really never tell you? The planet's crust is filled with absorbent cotton.
Mikoshi: A... Absorbent cotton?!
Victoria: Right. It was cheaper than dirt, literally.
Mikoshi: I didn't think... you were just that stingy...
Victoria: If you dig further down from the caves the undergrounders live in, you'll just hit upon cotton.
Mikoshi: Once they see that... They'll know about not only the laws of physics, but the structure of their planet...
Victoria: *heavy sigh* We'll have to give careful attention to the underground... This isn't something I can just watch with my clairvoyant eye...
Mikoshi: Ah... But there's one more matter to discuss.
Victoria: Mm?!
Mikoshi: This one isn't the humans acting, but rather other intelligent lifeforms reaching out to humans.
Victoria: What other ones?!
Mikoshi: Well, how do I put this... It's a group of about forty different kinds all at once.
Victoria: (Whining) Ehhh...?! Ohh, what am I going to do...
Mikoshi: I've put all the details in my report, so you'll find the information there.
Victoria: G... got it. ...*sigh*

[Following Voice Drama 1 are Learning Effective Living from Cavepeople, and The Festive Monster's Cheerful Failure.]

- Going Too Far in a Broken World -

(Victoria opens up Mikoshi's report.)
Victoria: "Both the tengu and the undergrounder are on friendly terms with humans." ...*sigh* It might seem that way right now, but isn't it only a matter of time?
Mikoshi: To my knowledge, the non-human lifeforms actually look up to the humans. They aren't thinking anything of conflict.
Victoria: I see...
Mikoshi: That ends my report, but... if you wish...
Victoria: No, get a good rest.
Mikoshi: Thank you very much. ...At any rate, I've been working for nine days without getting any sleep. ...While you've been sleeping, Lady Victoria...
Victoria: Ugh, shut up...! Leave me ALONE!
Mikoshi: Pardon me.
(He walks away and shuts the door. Victoria sighs.)
Victoria: ...Well then...! I guess I should use my clairvoyant eye, huh? How many years has it been...? Ey!
(OOOoooOOOooo mystical noises.)
Victoria: Ooh, I can see... Huh, it's true. They're getting along just fine with humans. Wow, maybe they've wisened up after all...? ...Nngh, my eyes are so dry...! *grunt* *pant*
Victoria: ...Looks like they haven't found out about the cotton yet... Oh yeah, I made it so the undergrounders won't dig any deeper than that.
(The mystic noise in the background wanes.)
Victoria: Huh...? What... Could it be -
(The door swings open and Mikoshi runs in.)
Mikoshi: (Desperate) L-Lady Victoria!! You didn't throw out the nuclear waste, did you?! (Tearful) I told you, they only come to collect it once a YEAR...!
Victoria: (Frantic) M-Mikoshi! This is no time for that!!
Mikoshi: (Hysterical) You're telling me there's something more important than this?!
Victoria: (Still frantic) Of course there is!! What's this about?! The humans... they're in SPACE!
Mikoshi: EHHH?!
Victoria: They’ve been going for about four years now! They're headed for the Milky Way! In fact, they're not just going to space, they're MIGRATING there! They're making towns in the Milky Way!! ...*gasp* Are there already businesses there, too?!
Mikoshi: I'm quite shocked... They really are advancing rapidly.
Victoria: Aaah... I underestimated them... There's no going back from this...
Mikoshi: What do you mean?
Victoria: They're hostile territorial waters in the planet cultivation industry. Creatures leaving their planet means I can't keep a handle on them. Any lifeforms who moved to the Milky Way aren't under my jurisdiction anymore, but the gods of the Milky Way!
Mikoshi: So whatever they might do... you won't be able to take any counter-measures.
Victoria: Right. And the Milky Way, of all things... It's a planetary cluster of Andromeda Development, the number-two company in the planet industry. It has more order than can possibly be compared to Earth!
Mikoshi: Which means the bad parts and abnormalities of Earth will stand out more than ever before...
Victoria: (Wailing) AAAUGH, I'm so stupid!! Stupid stupid STUPID!! Why did I keep ignoring things until something like this happened?!
Mikoshi: L... Lady Victoria! Please, calm down. What's happened has happened.
Victoria: (Whining) But... buuut...!!
Mikoshi: I... I'll get you some milk tea! Just... drink it and catch your breath.
Victoria: (Whimpering) ...Thanks.
Mikoshi: Give me a moment.
(He walks away and shuts the door.)
Victoria: *sigh* I suppose... I can't do anything about what's already happened... ...I bet I'd find more problems if I looked, though. I don't think anything could be more trouble than space... but I need to find it before it happens. Okay, one more time! Ey!
Victoria: Whoa, they're done exploring the bottom of the ocean too... Which means... they must have seen everything on Earth, and I don't see any other plans to go to space... Whew! Seems I'll be able to take care of this after all! ...Mm? EeeeeEEEEEHHHHH?!
(Mikoshi runs in.)
Mikoshi: W-What happened?!
Victoria: T... this is the worst...!
Mikoshi: Eh?
Victoria: The humans... are going to the third dimension...!
Mikoshi: Th... third dimension?
Victoria: It's a dimension above the one we live in! The REAL WORLD!
Mikoshi: W... What does that mean...?
Victoria: I sometimes check on things there myself, but... the people of the third dimension, they're... WEIRDOS!!

[Following Voice Drama 2 are Wrapped in a Cake Box by an Alien, and The Dimension-Leaping Shampoo Hat.]

- Throwing in the Towel in a Broken World -

Victoria: Mikoshi... I've decided.
Mikoshi: Decided what?
Victoria: The Earth needs to be reset for now.
Mikoshi: Reset...?
Victoria: Yes. Humans have advanced too much... Their intelligence needs to be lowered, and then they need to advance again under my direction.
Mikoshi: Lower their intelligence... But that -
Victoria: I know. You're opposed. Because I'm ruining what the humans have accomplished. ...But this is for their sake. If the humans go on to learn the truth of their world... They'll certainly perish. There'll be panic, and they'll flaunt their own intelligence.
Mikoshi: Humans have... they've overcome many difficulties before. Conquering the harsh seasons brought about by the crooked axis, never yielding to countless disasters... Even after fighting amongst themselves... they manage to get back on their feet. So... I'm sure this will be the same...!
Victoria: This time is different! No matter how much science advances, humans can't touch the foundation of their world, and that's what's broken!
Mikoshi: ...You can't fix it?
Victoria: To rewrite the programming, I'd have to temporarily halt the system. But if I stopped it... life wouldn't survive.
Mikoshi: I-It can't be...
Victoria: I know it's unfortunate... but please give up.
Mikoshi: ...I am... a human. I'm not as smart as you, Lady Victoria, and I don't have any real powers to speak of. And even if I tell this to you, I know you won't grant my wish. But... There's something I wish to say.
Victoria: What?
Mikoshi: Do you remember what I said in the presentation the other day? Even though humans have made so many scientific advances... beyond umbrellas, they are powerless to deal with rain. In fact, it may be a more difficult problem than rewriting the laws of physics.
Mikoshi: But even so... we don't fear rain. Even though we can't overcome it, with our hearts, sometimes we can even enjoy it. So I... I want... to believe in humans!
Victoria: ...I understand. But I have to say... ...I'm sorry.
Mikoshi: Lady Victoria...
Victoria: Believe, Mikoshi. This is for the humans' sake. And I don't mean to destroy humans. It's just taking them back a little. I won't let that drama which you love of an unstable world and imperfect hearts go away.
Mikoshi: ...Yes.
Victoria: ...You really like humans, don't you?
Mikoshi: To be honest... Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a normal human.
Victoria: Heh... "to be honest." But... I need your power for myself. ...Be by my side.
Mikoshi: O-Of course! I have no qualms with my present situation. ...Except, Lady Victoria, for your way of living and your slovenliness -
Victoria: You sassing me?
Mikoshi: Pardon my rudeness.
Victoria: ...Okay! Time to do this.
Mikoshi: ...Ah, that's right, are you considering a method? Rewriting the minds of all humans would require quite a lot of funds, I would think...
Victoria: No need for concern. I'm going to guide a human to use their own power to lower the intelligence of their kind.
Mikoshi: H-How would you do something like that...?
Victoria: Mikoshi? I'm a god, you know. Just making a single breeze blow will be quite enough.

[Following Voice Drama 3 is When the Wind Blows, Mankind is Doomed.]

- Taking the Blame in a Broken World -

"That man Masaki was quite the villain."
It seemed awfully human for Mikoshi to say that.
"He lowered all mankind's intelligence, which is just what I wanted as their god. Could there be any greater justice?"
Just saying that obvious statement stupefied Mikoshi. Then he went deep into thought. About what "justice" is, probably. That's a theme humans seem to like. As decided by me, that is.

Suddenly, the office phone rang. That fact that it wasn't my cellphone meant it wasn't a colleague or my boss. It was an external questioning, or a complaint. It could even be someone wanting to buy.
Had someone who heard my presentation done some reconsideration? I'd have to make them wait a while. It had already been a tattered dust cloth, and now it was a fine powder. How much could I put that out for?

"Sorry for the sudden call. I'm Kinoshita from Andromeda Development. You're Lady Victoria, manager of Earth, if I'm not mistaken?"

I grabbed the receiver full of hopes, none of which were met. A call from another company in the business. Why?
"...Yes, I am, but...?"
"You see, some creatures from your planet who immigrated to regions under our control in the Milky Way have been causing trouble lately..."
...I suddenly realized everything. The song Masaki played was played on the Milky Way too, and made everyone idiots. And they made a mess of what had been Andromeda Development's land.
"I-I'm terribly sorry to hear that!"
"Our firm's city planning department is slowly developing these areas, and they seem to be rioting for rather unpredictable reasons... Um, and they certainly don't seem to possess the intelligence to traverse space, so..."

When there are lifeforms that can freely swim through space as they please, the market price of planets rises sharply. The theory is that creatures who develop a branch for space research go to a variety of planets.
Places where there's city planning and whatnot going on are reluctant to have trespassers, but in this industry, they generally agree to overlook each other. Perhaps because they know that if they accept visitors, when their planet's lifeforms are able to go into space, they'll be treated the same way.
However, there's an implicit understanding that creatures with intelligence making them capable of space travel won't do any harm to other species. Letting creatures with the intelligence of 4-year-old parrots run loose is just asking for trouble.

"I'm so sorry! I'll take them back right away!"
"Ah, no, that's not going to cut it, I'm afraid. There are rules in the industry, and I can't reject the procedures of other companies..."
"S-So then how...?"
"Via a consigning of control. We're asking you to be the temporary god for the areas your lifeforms have developed in. You'll be answering to three dwarf planets in the Milky Way."
So that's it... Essentially, I was being told to control the regions the humans went into, such that I could get them all to get out.

If I harshly refused, it might have made more trouble with the company. I had to accept it...! Oh, but the work! More work! And here I thought I could just closely watch Earth and advance them properly!
"Thank you very much! We'll send you more details later. Sorry to bother you."
He hung up. His voice was mild to the end, but no doubt he was thinking "Do something about this, dammit!"
If I were in his place, I would have wanted to go over and hit them with something not entirely unlike a crowbar. I was going to get embarrassed over how unforgivable it was.

I put down the receiver.
"What was that phone call?", Mikoshi asked as he gathered the garbage I'd been piling up.
"Oh, just a death sentence."

A hundred years passed after that. The humans, who had before advanced slowly over several million years, were able to recover about 60 to 70% of their former intelligence with my assistance.
From this point on, I had to carefully control their development such that they wouldn't have doubts about their world.
I lived with Mikoshi on Earth, in the human world. While going back and forth between the three dwarf planets, I intervened much, much more than before.
To ensure there were no differences between the Milky Way group and the Earth group, I implemented the exact same rain and four-seasons system as Earth. While it was temporary, it was clearly a downgrade. Kinoshita just had to grin and bear it.

All humanity knew that I was their god, and they followed my rules. But as I trained them, I became painfully aware of how flawed they were. Idiotic, lazy, selfish, always needing to burn their hands before they learned.
Most troublesome of all was the feeling of love. Once they felt it, it was all over - all their functions dulled. If I was lucky, they'd just be weak, and if I was unlucky, they'd dull even further.
The inability to leave behind offspring on one's own resulted in imperfect hearts that can't live alone. Unless they're with someone else, they can't be at ease. They depend on someone else to satisfy them. It's a very unhealthy system.

"Lady Victoria. Did you see today's soaps? That was quite the unbelievable twist."
Mikoshi cheerfully spoke as he washed the window of my room. I unconsciously crushed the milk pack I was drinking.
"Oh, now what are you doing...? You humans have no discipline! You should be working in the daytime, not watching TV!"
"I saw one for the first time on my break earlier. Ahh, a romance in which no one can be saved... Humans truly are quite interesting in that way."
"There's nothing interesting about that at all... I'd just get fed up watching that. You're the secretary of a god, so don't you forget it. Look at the human world from a step back."
Leaving him with that, I left the room. Ugh, Mikoshi... This is no time for that. This planet has bigger opportunities than it did that day when I was forced to reset it.

"Lady Victoria! Good work today!"
"Mm. Do your best."
A human cleaning the hallway saw me and showed his utmost respect. Not only I, but also Mikoshi, had more work to do, so we employed relatively decent humans to do odd jobs.
Mikoshi was glad to have more chances to meet with humans, but of course, I couldn't feel the same way.
"Oh, right. I'm having a meeting with Mr. Kinoshita from Andromeda. I'll be back in about two hours. Clean up the bedroom, too."
"Yes! Understood!"
I was supposed to be a god, but lately, I felt a lot more like a manager.

Kinoshita was the kind of god who got actively involved with the residents of his planets. Sometimes he'd even fawn over my own humans. Like how he participated in Sunday baseball games and showed off his muscles (especially his pecs).
It was just shameful for me. It was like my neighbor getting my kids ice cream despite the fact that they'd broken his window.
More than being kind, he could get work done, so it was no surprise he worked in the number-two business in the industry.
The Milky Way was a long chain of small stars and planets that formed a sort of river, and each point had its own order. If Earth were muddy water, the Milky Way was a perfectly-blended cup of coffee.

Taking responsibility for some of those regions thus required frequent meetings. Maybe a bit too one-sided to call meetings - it was just me giving reports on development. I had to advance my humans just a little more and then evict them.
"How's it been going?", Kinoshita asked with a refreshing smile. The meetings always began with that question, to which I'd usually just reply "Feels like just a little more" and that would be it.
I'd explain in more detail what kind of advancements had been made, then once I was done, Kinoshita would grin and say "Keep up the good work." But today was different.

"Still? It's been 100 Earth years."
...He'd been smiling, but his face suddenly turned very serious.
"Even I'm beginning to feel I've been waiting quite a while. When do you think they'll be able to leave?"
His patience had finally run out.
"From all three regions, I'd estimate about 50 more Earth years..."
After that reply, he sighed. He looked down on me like I was useless. So pathetic he was going to throw up. I was doing all I could, but humans were just too terrible a material to work with.

"Previously, you reset the world by making the wind blow. Could you not employ a similar method here?"
"...That's not possible. If I were to suddenly increase all their intelligence without strict regulations, they would be on the path to destruction again. I have to slowly give them wisdom until they're able to go into space..."
"I see... How about this, then? Temporarily use your power to raise their intelligence, and as soon as they're back on Earth, reset them again."
...I couldn't do that. Not that it was a difficult task, but it was simply impossible for another reason.

"I don't have any more funds..."
Kinoshita repeated after a few long seconds of silence: "Funds?"
"Yes, actually, I've been using a lot of money getting them back up to speed after the reset..."
My active involvement with the human world in the past century was using up several hundred times the usual amount of my budget, so if I were to start from scratch yet again, it would certainly hit rock bottom.
If I wanted a planet that fetched a high price, I couldn't make any more wasteful mistakes. But that was strictly my company's problem, so Kinoshita shouldn't have been surprised.

"I understand that it's a project with a very low budget, 1/60000th that of the regions in the Milky Way. So I can respect the fact you've managed it for 4.6 billion years, and sympathize. But please, consider my company as well. Because of humans, our plans for development have been set back 100 years already."
I would have said the same thing in his position. It wasn't something I'd put up with. Still, I could only plead with Kinoshita.
"Please! Wait just 40... No, 38 years! I'll definitely make it happen!"
Kinoshita let out another big sigh.
"...35. Show me results within 35 years. If you can't do that, I'll arrange for the return of all humanity to Earth, and have your company foot the bill."
If it came to that, my position in the company would plummet. I could easily be fired. ...I'd have to try.
"Thank you very much. I will. I'll do it within 35 years."

"I'm home."
When I came home, Mikoshi was watching a recording of a soap opera in the living room. But when he said "Welcome back," he noticed, somewhere between "welcome" and "back," how incredibly displeased I was, and quietly turned off the TV.
"...W-What's happened?"
"They told me to get out in 35 years."
"I... I see." Mikoshi seemed to have suspected as much.
"I'll get you some milk tea."
"...Wait in the bedroom."

Today was a day for staying in bed. I'd stay in bed all day. I'd try hard, but I'd try hard starting tomorrow. I knew I had to revise my plans, but that revision would start tomorrow.
Being given all these planets was doing a number on my pride. I'd surely be fired at this rate... Or should I just quit already? Still, I needed money. I had to get that 35% from selling Earth.
...I'll clean it all up in 35 years, neaten things up as much as I can with the remaining money, and sell it for as much as I can. And then I'm out!
My mind made up, I slammed open the door to my bedroom, and was met with a shocking sight.

It was a mess...

Naturally, I was the one who made it so, but I had ordered the man cleaning the hallway earlier to clean my bedroom. Had he ignored my order...? No, he forgot. Because he was an imbecile.
The house shook with an explosive scream, founded in all the stress I'd built up today. Immediately after, I heard someone running to the room.
"W-What happened?!"
Mikoshi looked unusually pale, and his shirt was stained with milk tea. He must have spilled it out of surprise at my scream.

"My bedroom's still a mess! Even though I told that guy cleaning the hallway to do the bedroom too!"
"Cleaning the hallway... You mean Hikoboshi?"
"Where is he?"
"H-He left."
"Yes. ...He said he made a promise with his girlfriend."

Giiirlfriend...? This is that love thing, isn't it?! He was so entrenched in his emotions of love, he forgot about my orders... Oh, I'm not going to let this stand.
He should have been pretty smart among humans, seeing as I employed him. As I recall, his grandfather was part of an underground exploration team, and his father was an engineer for advancing into the Milky Way. Both played major roles in humanity's out-of-control growth.
I would expect great things from him just from his having those amazing genes alone. And yet he casually betrayed my trust.

"His punishment will be star-shooting. Have the kappa prepare it."
I would shoot him toward one of the other three dwarf planets I controlled in the Milky Way. He'd never be able to return on his own power. I'd forever separate Hikoboshi from his "girlfriend."
"D-Don't you think that's a bit extreme? I'm to blame as well for not noticing the dirtiness of the bedroom!"
"No, it's his fault. You've done fine, Mikoshi. ...If I forgave him, the humans would take advantage of me."
"But they'll never be able to meet again..."
Despite so enjoying fiction where no one could ever be happy earlier, it seemed he wanted them happy in non-fiction. Once again, I couldn't understand Mikoshi's humanisms.

"...All right. I'll let them meet just once a year. And only on the night of Tanabata. Tell him that he should do his work the rest of the time, with that as his ray of hope."
Once a year seemed relatively frequent for the immortal Mikoshi. It was a bit long when it came to nuclear waste disposal day, but it didn't seem too infrequent for meeting someone.
It's common sense that we'd have a different perception of time from humans, but it's hard to imagine exactly how when you've lived 4.6 billion years.
"Yes... Understood."
Mikoshi reluctantly accepted my proposal. But it wasn't enough to quell my rage. I decided to add another condition.

"But only when the sky is clear. On rainy days, the high water will be too dangerous. And rain is unpredictable, after all."
"I'll tell him so."
Humans are no match for rain. For whatever reason, Mikoshi loved that notion. He thought of it as a tool for creating drama.
Deeming it acceptable if it should happen to rain, he acknowledged the addition and went to inform Hikoboshi.

Once alone in the room, I gave a wry grin.
There would be no drama to it.
I would make it rain every year.

[Following Story 2 is the Fools Among the Stars series.]

- Knowing God in a Broken World -

(Rain falls throughout. There's a step, which makes a slight splash.)
Mikoshi: As I thought...
(Victoria gasps.)
Mikoshi: So you were watching too, Lady Victoria.
Victoria: (Surprised) M-Mikoshi! ...I was. Because they ignored my orders and tried to meet even though it was raining.
Mikoshi: Though you noticed, you didn't stop them.
Victoria: I thought if they met, they'd give up on it. But...
Mikoshi: This is humanity for you. Hikoboshi fought for ten years, and Orihime waited for thirty-three. And yet... neither of their hearts gave in.
Victoria: Mm. ...I thought that humans had weak hearts for getting attached to others... but on the contrary, it seems to make them strong. I wonder if I should fix their ages later? Though I don't know if it'd amount to an apology...
Mikoshi: Lady Victoria. You'll get drenched out here. Let's go back inside.
Victoria: Yeah. ...Mikoshi?
Mikoshi: What is it?
Victoria: I think... I kind of understand what you were saying.
Mikoshi: Eh?
Victoria: This is... "drama."
Mikoshi: ...So you finally see now.
Victoria: Maybe Earth's a better planet than I expected.
Mikoshi: Really? I think the same. In two more years, it'll be the 35 years you promised. Let's keep at it, shall we?
Victoria: I can't do it. ... (Cheerfully) Should we just sell it? Earth?
Mikoshi: ...Hah?
Victoria: It won't be for much, but... Hey, let's sell it!
Mikoshi: Eh? Uh... ha, um, but, you just...
Victoria: It may be a good planet in my eyes, but it's iffy as a product. The price isn't going to get any better. Our business is over.
Mikoshi: I-I can't... Are you saying that you're giving up?!
Victoria: Hmm, am I giving up...? ...You'd understand, right, Mikoshi? We'll leave the rest to the humans. Letting things go their own way instead of following my guidance, I'm sure it'll be a better planet. At least to me and you... right, Mikoshi?
Victoria: ...Oh, but of course, I'll have them evacuate the Milky Way regions. Luckily, it seems that'll be possible pretty soon!
Mikoshi: ...Understood. Indeed, perhaps doing nothing is best for them.
Victoria: Although of course, without me, maybe they'll just die right away, right?
Mikoshi: That... that is a possibility.
Victoria: Maybe I'll give them a little bit of an insurance? I'll use all the remaining funds to make one really excellent human! Like some kind of hero they can depend on in times of trouble. ...Yeah... maybe I'll make the design kind of like Hikoboshi... Hah, that guy's got lots of guts!
Mikoshi: That sounds good. Well, then they should be fine. Whatever should happen, they'll find their own answers.
Victoria: Mm.
Mikoshi: Incidentally... After the sale, what will become of me?
Victoria: Oh, right. Well, I'll be gone. So your job as secretary is over.
Mikoshi: ...You, er, say it's over, but... That's what I was born for, so...
Victoria: Well... Then you're a normal human!
Mikoshi: Eh?
Victoria: You can be reborn as a normal human, and live as a normal human from scratch.
Mikoshi: ...Can I?
Victoria: Sure! I'm finally making your dream come true.
Mikoshi: Thank you very much! ...It's... a little lonely... but I'm glad.
Victoria: *giggle* Thanks for all your hard work. Of course, you do have one final job left.
Mikoshi: Yes. I'll get them back to Earth as quickly as possible.
Victoria: Mhm! *relieved sigh* It's finally over... That was so long... Ah, I know! I'll take my last vacation days!
Mikoshi: Though you spent many of those long days resting.
Victoria: You sassing me? ...What matters in times like these is feeling! Maybe I should go to a hot spring or something...
Mikoshi: Which hot spring?
Victoria: Hmmm...
Victoria: ...Atami?

[Following Voice Drama 4 are The Dark Lord's Like a Fawning Girl, Hero, and Sakura.]

- Cradling a Flower in a Broken World -

When I began my vacation, using up all my remaining paid vacation days, there was a sakura-blooming boycott occurring on Earth.
Though I was nearing retirement, I was still their god, and I'd made plans to bathe in a blizzard of sakura petals. The planet just wouldn't go my way to the bitter end.
I thought about putting in a word, but I changed my mind. I was on vacation, for one. But also, I'd decided that once the humans returned to Earth, I wouldn't intervene.
They'd soon have to live without me. So I wanted to see how they'd fare, you could say.
I watched the situation unfold on a little TV at the hotel. I found it irritating, but humans fought as humans will do. That's fine by me.

Then today, finally, the bloom came. I had watched it happen countless times, the same thing every time - so I didn't expect it to feel so refreshing.
"Mikoshi! How is it over there?"
I called for my secretary through the fence separating the baths.
"It's the best!"
A good response. For once, I felt the same way.
The scenery was nice. The water temperature, too. And delicious sake. Simply the best.

A single sakura petal landed on the back of my hand.
"...Maybe it'll sell for a pretty good price after all."
I found myself smiling.

- Credits -

Music: You Takahashi
Story: You Takahashi
Illustrations: Tsukasa Ryuuguu

Victoria: Rie Kugimiya
Mikoshi Hinata: Kensho Ono

Voice Drama BGM: Tooka-P (monaca:factory)

...and a bunch of other credits which you probably don't really care about.

Also, special thanks (lots of them) to Ame and Renna for helping with the voice dramas.

Posted December 21st, 2013


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