Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume20 Chapter1
Chapter 1: Good and Evil, They Each Enter the Country. World_War_III.
Even the digital display showing the date of October 30th seemed to be shivering in the cold.
The car’s heater was mostly broken.
As Hamazura Shiage drove an old, beat up car along the snow-covered ground, his hands gripping the steering wheel were cold. No matter how far he went, nothing but flat empty land spread out before him. The commonplace asphalt road was barely visible buried in the snow. The area was so empty that he almost didn’t think he would notice if he strayed off the road.
That scenery was simply something that could not be seen in Japan.
He had heard that Hokkaido was a fairly vast land, but even that wasn’t on this scale.
This area was like a white desert.
They were in western Russia.
It seemed they were near the border of the Elizalina Alliance of Independent Nations.
In order to escape their pursuers in Academy City, they had used a supersonic passenger plane’s autopilot to flee to Russia. They hadn’t had much time to prepare, so they had almost no money to help with their flight.
(…I guess I can’t really complain too much since I stole it, but damn. Maybe it isn’t an issue with the air conditioner and we’re just not dressed properly. The need for heavy clothing here is a lot different than in Japan…)
The car’s paint was coming off and brown rust could be seen on it. While gripping the wheel, Hamazura glanced over at the passenger seat.
A short girl wearing a pink track suit was sitting there.
She was Takitsubo Rikou.
She was in bad shape health-wise due to the side effects of a drug (?) called Body Crystal. She was leaning limply in her seat producing an unhealthy sweat similar to someone with a fever. Hamazura wanted to get her to a doctor, but he knew that wouldn’t solve the problem. Body Crystal was a top secret substance in Academy City. A doctor outside of the city would have no idea how to heal her.
They were on the run from Academy City, the one place that could save Takitsubo.
(We can’t fight Academy City on our own. And even if we could, utterly destroying the city would also destroy the technology needed to save Takitsubo. Whatever we do, we have to return to Academy City and rely on their cutting edge tech in order to save her.)
However, if they just surrendered and returned to Academy City, Hamazura and Takitsubo wouldn’t be free to do what they wanted. And the odds of them being killed were not exactly low. As such, he needed to come up with a plan to ensure their safety.
(So we’ll fight them by finding “something” while on the run here in Russia and using that to “negotiate”. If things go well, we can use whatever it is to get Takitsubo healed, too. That’s our only hope.)
“Hamazura, what is it?”
“Nothing,” Hamazura replied with a smile. “I was just thinking that, whatever we’re going to do here, we’re gonna need some money. The money in our wallets when we left Academy City wasn’t much and we can’t even use that right away because it isn’t Russian money. We need to get some somewhere.”
They could always sell the stolen car he was driving, but Hamazura didn’t feel that was the best plan. Finding the kind of shady dealer that would accept a stolen car wasn’t exactly easy. He could manage it in Academy City, but he didn’t know how things worked in Russia.
And he didn’t know much Russian. Academy City and Russia were enemies in a large scale war, so it might cause a major issue if some Asians who spoke Japanese were spotted.
“I guess we’ll just have to steal some.”
“But…” Takitsubo hesitated.
However, that was their only option.
As if in response to their plan, they spotted a small store ahead. The store was connected to a gas station and it sold canned foods and other preserved foods most likely for those on long distance drives.
“Wait here,” Hamazura said to Takitsubo as he parked the car a bit away from the store. “I’ll be back with some money.”
…Hamazura had said that, but he was actually fairly worried.
First of all, he wasn’t in Japan. The usage of guns was treated differently. He had a small handgun, but they could have a gun or even a rifle for self defense.
(There’s a war.)
Takitsubo had translated the Russian news they had picked up on the car radio, but the word still didn’t feel real to him.
(To the Russian people, we’re their biggest enemies. If they find out that we came from Academy City, it wouldn’t surprise me if they gang up on us.)
Just saying the word wasn’t really enough. He had always thought of war as something that occurred in faraway countries that you would only see on the news, but it was occurring somewhere in the world right that very moment. He wasn’t sure if it didn’t feel real to him because he simply hadn’t had time to think about it since they had escaped Academy City, or if it was because they had never been thrown into a real battlefield full of bullets and shells flying back and forth. According to the news on the car radio, Academy City forces had been deployed to help evacuate and defend the facilities that worked with Academy City within Russia. However, Hamazura still didn’t feel any real sense of danger.
He had no idea what would happen from then on.
Hamazura honestly didn’t care who won, who lost, or what effect it all had on who guided the world. As long as that ridiculous war ended quickly and someone who would protect him and Takitsubo had some control over things, he didn’t really care about the rest.
Hamazura thought about all that, but what he was truly worried about lay elsewhere. He may have been thinking about the problem of the war in order to avert his gaze from his true worry.
That true worry was the fact that he had to attack that store with a clerk inside. It may have been an extremely selfish excuse, but doing that was a lot different from stealing a car or an ATM. When he thought about the possibility of being forced to use his gun, he felt something heavy deep in his gut.
Hamazura checked the safety of the small handgun in his pocket again and again.
(I have to make sure—make sure—that I don’t hurt the clerk in there!! All I need is what’s inside the cash register. I’ll only point the gun at him, that’s all. If I’m going to fire a warning shot, I’ll make sure to point the barrel up!!)
Repeating those things in his head, he gave a small, vaguely-directed prayer. Just before entering the store, he put up his hoodie’s hood so his head was deep inside and put on the gloves that had been in the stolen car.
As he opened the door, he pulled out his handgun.
(I have to make sure I don’t hurt the clerk!!)
And then Hamazura saw the female clerk with her arms and legs bound with duct tape and saying “Nnn! Nnn!” because her mouth was covered.
He also saw a masked man who looked a bit like a professional wrestler holding her down and pressing a blade up to her throat.
The large man was over 2 meters tall and he wasn’t alone. He had two companions. They looked over as Hamazura opened the small door and came in.
“Who the hell are you?” they said in Russian.
Hamazura hadn’t understood them and he merely responded by saying the words in Japanese he had been preparing to say.
“This is a robbery. Put your hands up.”
Takitsubo heard multiple gunshots.
She turned her head while sitting in the passenger seat of the stolen car and eventually saw Hamazura Shiage approaching having left the store. It seemed the robbery was over. He was holding quite a few large beige paper bags in both arms. At least one must have been full of food because it had a long loaf of French bread sticking out. Another had the end of a wool scarf and what looked like part of a folded up coat sticking out.
As Hamazura opened the driver side door and got in, Takitsubo asked him a question.
“Hamazura, were you successful?”
“The clerk was so thankful she gave me all sorts of stuff!! We even got gas for the car!!”
As Takitsubo looked on in puzzlement, the stolen car headed off once more.
Accelerator was hidden aboard a freight train on an international railroad.
The railroad crossed the continent of Eurasia and was the longest railroad in the world. Normally, it would take more than 2 weeks to get from the first terminal to the last, but that was not true then. Due to the beginning of World War III, a large amount of military materiel needed to be transported. The normal schedules and the safety regulations were being completely ignored so the trains could travel at high speed.
Either those preparations alone had quite an effect or they had brought out some kind of prototype from a lab somewhere because the freight train Accelerator was on was traveling at over 500 kph. Its speed was on par with a linear motor car. The front of the lead car tapered off like the tip of a fighter or a space shuttle and the walls of the cars were rough like modern racing swimsuits.
(A war, hm? Fucking ridiculous.)
For an instant, Accelerator had thought the war was a strategy on Academy City’s part to chase after Last Order and himself, but he concluded that he was over thinking things. Because of his activities in the dark side of that city, he knew that actions this out in the open were not like the city at all. They liked to keep things hidden.
They had carried out that kind of open activity in the French city of Avignon, but that had most likely been because there was something there that had made it necessary. He didn’t know what that something was though.
(Even if I set aside the possibility this is a plan created by that god damn city to get us, there’s still gotta be some kind of hidden reason behind it.)
Academy City was very influential. Normally, they would take measures to prevent a large scale war from occurring in the first place. And yet a war had started that was large enough to destroy the science-ruled world. Thinking there was something behind it wasn’t just some crazy idea.
And Academy City had responded to whoever was picking a fight with them. There may have been something they wanted enough to go to war over.
Accelerator didn’t really care about that.
That was not what mattered to him then.
He was not alone.
Last Order, a girl who looked around ten, lay next to him.
She was a clone created from the cells of the #3 Level 5. She had been used to bring a monster known as Aiwass into the world, which was a major burden to her brain. Due to that, she was merely lying there limply unable to even walk around on her own legs.
Last Order was wearing a button down shirt over a camisole, but she had a thick blanket on top of that. The blanket had been inside the freight train. Accelerator had also found some mainly white winter clothes and put them on.
“…Where are we? says Misaka as Misaka looks around.”
“In a train.”
“Where are Yomikawa and Yoshikawa? says Misaka as Misaka asks a question.”
“They aren’t here right now, but we’ll see them soon. I promise.”
“I see…” Last Order’s words trailed off a bit. “If they were here too, we could have Yomikawa make us another Salisbury steak soup, says Misaka as Misaka is a little disappointed.”
“But I’m glad, says Misaka as Misaka feels relieved. I finally get to see your face again, says Misaka as Misaka stretches out her arm.”
She said that, but her small arm did not move.
Her fingertips merely twitched a bit.
Whether she had noticed that or not, Last Order continued speaking.
“Let’s all eat meals together again, says Misaka as Misaka gives her proposal. Yomikawa’s Salisbury steak soup is really good, says Misaka as Misaka boasts.”
In contrast to her smile, she sounded like speaking was painful for her.
(…Why did it end up like this?)
Accelerator gritted his teeth while crouching down.
(What did she do? Did she do anything that required she end up in a state where she can’t even move her own fingers? Why did this shit have to happen to her?)
As he put more strength into his jaw, an unpleasant noise could be heard.
In that place, she was not free or safe.
Accelerator felt vehement resentment towards the vague idea of fate. He knew it wasn’t an issue that would be solved by holding a grudge against someone, but he couldn’t help but feel angry.
He gripped his modern cane so hard he thought he would smash its grip.
A worldwide war was beginning on that planet.
Various people from countries all across the world would be fighting for the sake of those who were important to them.
But there was no one to fight for her.
Despite the fact that people all across the world were preparing to risk their lives, not a single person existed who would stand up to save that girl who had done nothing wrong.
“...Fuck that,” Accelerator muttered.
He had come that far in order to fight that unfairness. Because of some plan someone had put together, Last Order was on the verge of destruction. In order to save her, in order to oppose that cruel fate, Accelerator had abandoned his position and his pride to come to Russia.
Go to Russia.
Aiwass, a ridiculously strong existence that had utterly defeated him, had said that. The being had said that he might be able to save Last Order’s life if he managed to acquire something there.
Accelerator had no idea what he was supposed to find.
In fact, he wasn’t even sure he could trust what Aiwass had said.
(I’ll do it.)
Accelerator silently made up his mind.
(Either way, I know sitting still in Academy City won’t save her. That means I have to find another way. This has nothing to do with what Aiwass said.)
Accelerator was Academy City’s #1 Level 5 and Last Order was a special clone who stood at the center of Academy City’s plan. It was possible Russia would see them as something like powerful strategic weapons or important military bases. However, he didn’t care. He didn’t especially like being seen as a pawn of that rotten city, but he didn’t need to correct everyone who was mistaken. He only had one goal and he would continue on while destroying everyone and everything that stood in his way.
That was when he heard a noise from directly above.
It was the sound of thick metal being dented in.
Most likely, the freight train container had been bent by something. Accelerator looked up and the same sound came twice more.
It wasn’t just coming from that one car.
That odd sound that couldn’t be drowned out by the sound of the train racing along continued to come from various parts of the train. And it wasn’t always the ceiling. It also came from the walls and below the floor.
At the same time, he heard someone yelling in Russian accompanied by numerous gunshots.
The yelling quickly turned to screams.
Accelerator deduced that someone had jumped onto the freight train while it moved at high speed.
And not many people could get onto a train moving along at over 500 kph.
It had to be Academy City.
(…So they’ve come after us.)
“What is it? says Misaka as Misaka asks about the situation,” said the young girl.
Accelerator slowly looked down at Last Order who lay on the floor. The #1 pulled a handkerchief form her pocket, folded it a bit, and placed it over her eyes.
He did not want her to see a blood-stained world.
As he spoke, Accelerator reached up to the electrode around his neck.
The switch that allowed him to wield the power of the Academy City’s strongest monster was there.
“You aren’t going to fight again like before, right? says Misaka as Misaka makes sure.”
“…I won’t. I promise,” he lied to the girl.
Normally, Last Order would have been able to forcibly cut off his connection to the Misaka Network taking all his powers from him. However, she did not do that. It may have been because she was not even able to do that in her current state.
For just a bit, Accelerator looked down at Last Order’s face with the handkerchief over her eyes.
Finally, he silently stood up.
He stood up in order to utterly destroy all those who would threaten that small girl’s life.
Immediately afterwards, Accelerator’s slender body broke straight through the steel roof and landed on the train’s roof.
When the attackers saw Accelerator appear from a crack like in broken plastic, they moved back a bit.
They were white powered suits.
About 10 soldiers stood there wearing identical suits.
The upper body was surprisingly slim while the legs were exceedingly thick. They were likely special models create solely for speed. They had everything necessary built in so that they could move at high speed, maintain their balance, and soften the shock from impacts.
There were many different kinds of powered suits. There were kinds used for work, kinds used for rescue operations, and kinds used for military operations like the invasion of Avignon. It seemed some of those last types had entered Russia for World War III, but these ones were clearly different. They gave the impression that no money had been spared on their development and maintenance to ensure the maximum performance. The higher ups that had dispatched the attackers must have really wanted them to succeed in their mission.
Accelerator did not waver despite being surrounded by guns.
His glowing red eyes looked around the area and then muttered a few words under his breath.
“…Fucking trash. It’s best not to piss me off.”
A Russian soldier trembled in fear.
He had not gone through any kind of harsh training so he could fight on the front lines. He specialized in supplies and was only supposed to ensure that the necessary war material made it to its destination. However, he was still a soldier. Normally, his spirit was not so weak as to get that scared at having a gun pointed at him.
However, what was before him now was in another dimension entirely.
Those repulsive white machine soldiers had suddenly jumped onto the freight train.
And then some strange monster with white hair and red eyes had started destroying them in a single strike.
The monster had broken through the roof, blown through a wall, caused an explosive wind through the opening, and kicked a few of the machine soldiers out. He had used his human arms and legs to tear through the 5 cm thick steel container like it was made of paper. Those simply weren’t things a normal person could do. The soldier knew that Japan’s Academy City was scientifically developing espers, but seeing it with his own eyes was something else entirely.
“Tch. Looks like that isn’t enough to kill them,” the monster said while staring outside.
He had kicked people out of a train moving at over 500 kph and that was what he said. Both sides in that fight were monsters.
The monster looked around the area.
Immediately afterwards, a giant machine soldier broke through the wall between cars. It appeared right to the side of the monster. However, the white monster did not seem worried. He merely swung one arm slightly blowing the machine soldier away along with the wreckage of what used to be its armor.
Something the machine soldier had been holding landed at the monster’s feet.
It was most likely the item the machine soldier had stolen.
It was a duralumin trunk. The remains of handcuffs were attached to its handle. The handcuffs had originally been attached to the wrists of the Russian soldier, but the machine soldier had torn the chain apart with its fingertips.
The monster headed for the trunk, but the Russian soldier didn’t stop him.
If the monster’s attention turned in his direction, he was dead.
It was like being thrown into a small cage with a carnivore.
The trunk was locked, but the monster opened it as easily as opening his own wallet. He had simply broken the lock open with sheer force.
“…What the hell?” he muttered.
The Russian soldier had not been informed what lay inside. What the monster found inside was a few dozen sheets of parchment. They had what looked like eerie spells or magic circles written on them in old ink.
It was just a bunch of nonsense.
Some people held vague senses of expectations or uneasiness towards good luck charms, but did anyone really think a demon would appear in a physical form to carry out the effects of those charms? What would people think if someone seriously said a series of killings had been done by a demon?
The soldier doubted his superiors would have asked him to handcuff that trunk to himself if it was pointless. And those Academy City machine soldiers had shown up for the trunk.
The Russian soldier wasn’t sure what to make of the situation.
Had his superiors used it as a diversionary tactic and Academy City had fallen for it?
Or were those pieces of parchment in the trunk actually valuable enough that it was worth it for Academy City to send special forces after them?
“...Interesting,” muttered the monster.
The sublime smile that appeared on the monster’s face seemed to indicate the parchment’s abnormality more than anything.
“So this was a mission on the same level as recovering me, Academy City’s strongest Level 5? I don’t really see the point behind this, but it might be connected to the ‘different set of laws’ that fucker mentioned.”
And Kamijou Touma was also in Russia.
It was only the end of October, but the area was already completely covered in white snow. The couple of centimeters of snow weren’t enough to completely paralyze the transportation services, but he was walking in his basketball shoe-covered feet. The snow melted into cold water that penetrated his shoes torturing his toes with a stinging pain from the cold.
He was wearing his school uniform. He usually thought of it as inconvenient, but he was now admiring the range of environments it could work in. Of course, that was probably because it was using the textile technology of Academy City. He still would have liked to have a coat, but it was hardly the time to complain.
Just hearing that word suddenly didn’t give him a proper idea of what was going on. According to Queen Elizard of England, the war had occurred in an “unusual” way from what she could see of the international situation. The fact that it was highly likely that the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church had a hidden connection meant that Fiamma of the Right was likely pulling the strings behind the scenes.
But was that really all there was to it?
If there was only that simple reason, he could just stick to fixing that.
But didn’t Academy City respond readily with military force? Didn’t the city send a large number of forces and unmanned weapons into Russia as soon as the war began as if they had been preparing for this for years?
Was something happening behind the scenes there, too?
Kamijou stood quite near the center of that war, but he was only a high school student, so he couldn’t grasp what was going on behind it all.
However, if he could end the war at least temporarily by stopping Fiamma, he knew what he had to do. And Kamijou also had an exceedingly personal reason to fight towards stopping Fiamma’s plan.
There was a girl called Index.
She had memorized 103,000 grimoires, but was a completely normal girl otherwise. And there was someone after her vast knowledge.
Fiamma of the Right.
He had stolen a spiritual item from England that allowed him to remotely take knowledge from Index’s head. By activating it, he had put a great load on Index’s mind which had left her unconscious.
To save Index, Kamijou had to defeat Fiamma as quickly as possible and destroy the remote control spiritual item.
To do that, Kamijou had gone to Russia where Fiamma of the Right hid.
“…Why is Lessar here?” Kamijou muttered dully.
Now, some of you may just have a blank look on your face upon hearing the name Lessar. Lessar was a girl from the British cabal reserve army of New Light. When Second Princess Carissa had used Curtana Original to start a coup d’etat, she had been one of the magicians who secretly excavated and transported Curtana.
She had white skin and was short. She looked like she might be in her early teens, and just the ends of her long black hair were braided. She was wearing what looked like a lacrosse uniform with a jacket, but what caught the eye first was the tail stretching from the area of her butt. The tail looked like a flat chain running through a transparent tube and it had something like an arrowhead on the end, so it gave a bit of a devilish feel to her. When they had met before, they had been enemies.
Kamijou had felt they had solved everything with no ill feelings after the coup d’etat, but he still didn’t think she was the kind of person who would rush off to Russia like that.
In response to Kamijou’s question, Lessar’s tail swished back and forth lightly.
“Hmm? I’m not here because I was ordered to come by the British Royal Family, because I have a grudge against Fiamma of the Right, because I want to become a member of the Kamijou Faction, or anything else like that,” she responded in an exceedingly halfhearted way. “I was just thinking that it would be good if we give you some help since you dying here would be disadvantageous to the United Kingdom as a whole. …Actually, maybe I shouldn’t go so far as to say ‘we’. Bayloupe may end up grabbing my ass again…”
Lessar seemed to start talking to herself in the middle of her response. Kamijou had sensed it a bit during their first meeting, but he had a good feeling now that that girl had very self-centered thought patterns.
Without realizing what Kamijou was thinking, a mischievous smile appeared on her youthful face.
“Well, you can just say that I’m using you and helping you. If you think of it as having a professional magician’s strength at your disposal, it’s not a bad deal, right?”
“Lessar…are you even all that powerful? All I remember you doing was running around London at night with some strange case.”
“Do you want me to kick your ass and show you? Necessarius can’t help you, right? So I should be a lot of help. Oh, and I’m better than Bayloupe when it comes to simply using the steel glove. As long as she doesn’t use the Gjallarhorn, I won’t lose to her. …Although, I can’t exactly complain about that if it were a real battle,” Lessar added. “And!! My steel glove has been powered up!! Tah dah!! It’s the Lessar Special Custom! Something like a red laser comes shooting out allowing the blade ‘fingers’ to grab things at a distant that it isn’t actually touching when I swing it around!!”
“…I didn’t ask for your help.”
“You really don’t think I can help, do you? Was I overshadowed by the impression left by the rest of the coup d’etat…?” Lessar muttered before seeming to switch back to showing off how she could be helpful. “And it’ll make things a lot easier to have someone who can translate Russian for you, right?”
“And another thing, how did you know I was sneaking into Russia?”
After the coup d’etat, he had pretty much only told Elizard and Stiyl that he was heading to Russia, but he hadn’t told them how or exactly when. And yet Lessar had still managed to hunt him down.
He felt a little pathetic for running into a comrade right after sneaking into Russia alone without telling anyone. It may not have been the time to worry about something like that, but he still felt that way.
Then Lessar seemed to notice Kamijou’s troubled expression.
“Hah hahhn. Are you thinking you shouldn’t do this to Index who is sleeping in a London cathedral? After all, you say you’re heading off to save her, but then you meet up with some other girl right away.”
“Then I have some good news for you. I may have a tail coming out from my skirt, but I’m not wearing spats down below. I’m only wearing panties under there.”
“How the hell is telling me that supposed to help!?”
“Circle behind me!! Flip it up!! And forget all about the girls of the past!!”
“Y’know, I really should punch you for that one!!” Kamijou yelled with veins bulging at his temple.
However, Lessar just asked him a carefree question with her tail waving about as if she were completely willing to show him her panties.
“So how were you planning on finding Fiamma of the Right here in Russia?” She said in a tone that implied she thought he didn’t have a plan at all. “Russia is quite large. It stretches almost all the way across the continent of Eurasia from east to west. Countries with a 9 hour time difference within them aren’t exactly common. It’s a little too big to just run across a specific person by chance.”
“That’s what you’d think, isn’t it?”
Lessar stared blankly at that unexpected response.
“How many magicians do you think I’ve fought now? I’ve gotten a bit of an idea of how you all do things by this point.”
The Strait of Dover was a 30 kilometer strait between England and France.
Throughout history, it had become an important point whenever the relationship between the two countries soured. That area of the ocean had a bloody history and it was now about to absorb more blood and lives.
“The deployment of a mixed team containing both Anglicans and knights is complete.”
Kanzaki Kaori nodded silently in response to the voice.
They were not standing on land. They were on a boat. Large 100 meter long sailing vessels made of wood flooded into the area seeming to completely cover the sea. All of the ships had been reinforced magically making them tougher than a battleship and quick moving.
It was an odd sight.
However, the truly odd part was not the great number of ships.
It was the fact that the war between magicians had developed to that level.
“The era truly has changed,” said Agnese Sanctis who was standing next to Kanzaki.
The short girl looked off into the distance with her hand above her eyebrows like she was giving a clumsy salute.
“It seems the coup d’etat in England is being called British Halloween. Just like Nessie or the Nazca Lines, it’s being treated like one of the 7 mysteries of the world or something. Humans sure are tough. Even when faced with something they can’t comprehend, they just end up accepting it.”
“Yes, it seems no one has realized that it was actually magic,” said Kanzaki with a sigh. “But they had a vague idea that Japan’s Academy City is scientifically developing ‘mystical powers’. It’s an entirely different system, but it gave them a bit of a resistance. Because they knew that kind of thing actually existed somewhere in the world, it was easier to accept that something similar could exist nearby them.”
As she spoke, something seemed to catch in the back of Kanzaki’s throat. Knowledge of the science side had helped stabilize the magic side. That also meant that, without that knowledge, a more serious panic could have occurred. Kanzaki became wary of “something” that had made its way inside her thinking without her knowing.
“At any rate,” Kanzaki said changing the subject, “if they get through here, they have a straight shot for London. I want to avoid a battle as much as possible, but we have to defend ourselves if the French forces attack.”
“It’s almost 100% certain that they’re coming, though,” scornfully said the short nun who led an entire unit. “England and France have been in a dangerously tense situation since before the coup d’etat. …And annoyingly enough, it’s thanks to their backing by the higher ups of the Roman Catholic Church. With that foundation, World War III is likely to spread here. And glimpses of the Roman Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church can clearly be seen in the background of it all. I don’t see how France won’t attack England with things the way they are. The only question is whether they will attack as the vanguard of the Roman Catholic Church or they will attack simply to put an end to the historical and magical antagonism between the two countries.”
After Agnese finished speaking, a transmission came in from Agata, one of the nuns in her unit.
“Interference from France has been confirmed!! They’re coming, so stay on your guard!!”
The Strait of Dover usually perpetually created waves but the ocean then gathered together from the French border. Like ice had spread out instantly, the ocean water solidified.
“Tch. They’ve created footholds for themselves and robbed our ships of maneuverability all at once!!”
Shadows shot along like arrows.
There weren’t just one or two of them.
Over 1000 magicians headed from the French border towards Kanzaki and the others by running straight across the white and hardened ocean surface. At that rate, the British side would be killed. They would be crushed like a beached killer whale being eaten by a flock of crows.
Without the use of the ships, over half of the strategy Kanzaki and the others had planned was useless.
However, that did not stop them.
Starting with Kanzaki, the Amakusas who specialized in hand to hand combat jumped down from the ships in order to intercept the French magicians.
Then Kanzaki noticed something odd at her feet.
She hurriedly jumped to the side.
A hole opened in the area of the salt land she had been standing on. If she had been an instant slower, she would have fallen into the sea. Then they would have concentrated their attacks on her while she couldn’t move properly.
(They were already an enemy that we needed to go all out on, and now this…!?)
They were at the disadvantage by being stuck on top of the unmoving ships.
But if they jumped down onto the salt land, the enemy would seize the initiative and attack.
Whatever they did, they were in a bad position.
People who were seriously waging war were not supposed to allow the enemy to create a situation where they had the advantage.
“You can’t let something like that stop you. I thought you were supposed to be the force protecting England!” said an intimidating female voice.
Immediately afterwards, a thin film appeared atop the salt land like an extra coating. That time, it had not been France’s doing. The phenomenon spread all the way across the ocean at once as if it were invading France from England.
They now had a proper foothold.
Kanzaki strongly stepped down and she used her sword’s scabbard to blow away more than 20 French magicians at once.
As she did, she looked over in the direction the female voice had come from.
Standing there was the country’s second princess wearing a red dress.
Fiamma of the Right was the leader of the secret Roman Catholic organization God’s Right Seat. Normally, he would have bossed around all of the various groups in that church that was said to number 2 billion across the world.
However, the other members of God’s Right Seat—Vento of the Front, Terra of the Left, and Acqua of the Back—had all either been defeated or had left the organization of their own free will.
What had Fiamma used to make up for the loss of power their loss had created?
What part of the Roman-Russian alliance had he used?
“The answer I came up with is the Russian army,” said Kamijou as he walked along the snow. “Of course, Fiamma doesn’t see them as comrades. They may be nothing more than something like a breakwater used to buy time and ensure nothing gets in the way of his plan. But he will use anything he can. To move freely throughout Russia, it is much more natural to think it will be easier to use those already in Russia than using a Roman Catholic organization. I should be able to see glimpses of Fiamma in the movements of the Russian army. If I follow anything out of place I see there, I can find him.”
“Fiamma came to Russia to find Sasha Kreutzev, right?”
“Yes, but I don’t know why,” said Kamijou simply raising the white flag at Lessar’s question. “But if that’s really all he needs, then he wouldn’t have a reason to come here himself.”
“He could easily just order the Russian military and the Russian Orthodox Church to search over the area for her. All Fiamma would have to do is sit in an easy chair in front of a fireplace and wait for the result. But that isn’t what he did.”
“So there’s…something else?”
“Yes, there’s something that Fiamma has to do himself.”
As Kamijou spoke, Lessar looked at the side of his face.
She couldn’t figure out if he was an idiot or actually smart.
It was probably an issue of what field he specialized in. Like a jigsaw puzzle, various limited circumstances had to be met for the workings of that boy’s head to get going. Someone good at video games may have excellent reflexes and kinetic vision, but they couldn’t just use those skills in a different field like martial arts. It was something like that.
Most likely, the girl sleeping in a London cathedral was a piece of the puzzle for him.
“But Russia is in the middle of World War III. The military has to be moving all over the country. I doubt the Russian military expected China and India to side with Academy City. I bet they’re frantically sending troops in that direction right now. Can you really find the actions related to Fiamma amid all that chaos?”
“Fiamma is sure to be trying to hide his plan,” responded Kamijou. “He’s using the Russian army while keeping that fact a secret from them. We need to be suspicious of any kind of operation with a plausible reason behind it but shows a completely different meaning when you look at it in a different way like it’s some kind of trompe l’œil. …For example, an operation that shows an odd chemical reaction when you add in the term ‘magic’.”
“And that’s why you’re here?”
“I wouldn’t have come all the way out here for any other reason.”
Kamijou looked out across the scenery of white snow and muttered a few words.
“…Wait for me.”
The Elizalina Alliance of Independent Nations was made up of groups that had opposed Russia’s way of doing things. They had a common currency like the EU and a passport was not needed for people or goods to travel between them.
Russia had viewed them as a nuisance and had been planning to invade the alliance once they had a reason even before the war. And now they had a chance to do so in the confusion of the war.
“It seems the Russian army is trying to build up a base near the border,” said Lessar who must have gathered information from the nearby residents beforehand. “The basic configuration they’re using includes vehicles with a missile launcher and a howitzer on them. It looks like they’re planning on tossing explosives into the Elizalina Alliance borders from a distance of 30 or 40 kilometers.”
A radius of 40 kilometers was bigger than Academy City and the armored vehicles would be deployed around the base to double or even triple their effective attack range.
Of course, this was a war, so it wouldn’t end after just one or two shots. Once the base was complete, they would likely be able to send a thousand or two thousand deadly shots flying through the air.
“But that isn’t the true purpose behind it.”
“If they truly wanted to bomb them, they would just have the air force use some ground-attack aircraft or bombers. That way, it wouldn’t really matter how far away they were. They could turn the entire country into a sea of flames all at once. …They’re trying to trick people with the immediate specs. There is no real need to build this base.”
Suddenly, a high pitched roar traveled over Kamijou and Lessar’s heads. It wasn’t just the sound of a passenger plane. It was the distinctive roar of supersonic travel.
However, it was not the sound of a Russian Air Force aircraft.
It was quite the opposite. One of Academy City’s supersonic bombers was slicing through the sky above Russia. But it was not on its way to turn some city to rubble. Apparently, it was bringing in some of the materiel and weapons needed for a base that had been constructed directly within Russia.
Usually, airborne troops were not used that way.
It was true that landing in the middle of enemy territory and constructing a fortress would be advantageous, but that was only if that fortress could be maintained. If you couldn’t ensure an above ground route to transport a large amount of materiel on, the fortress would end up being isolated.
However, Academy City overcame that problem with sheer force.
Their supersonic bombers could travel through the air at over 7000 kph. Those monstrous planes could easily fly right over Russia’s anti-aircraft network and shake off intercepting fighters using overwhelming speed. A large amount of materiel could be supplied to the fortress quickly and reliably using them. Thanks to that, the large country of Russia was already dotted with quickly constructed Academy City fortresses.
“Amazing,” said Lessar in a somehow carefree voice as she looked up at that technology from the distant world of science. “Did you hear Academy City’s response to Russia’s proclamation of war? Apparently, they said there was no real reason to fight, but that they weren’t sure if it was right to stand by doing nothing when they could stop it. When it comes down to a simple comparison of military power, they must be way out ahead.”
“…Wouldn’t Russia want to shoot down one of those because of all the weapons on it that give Academy City that advantage?” said Kamijou after a thinking about what Lessar had said.
He looked up at the military planes that continued flying by every 20 or 30 minutes.
“From the engine noise alone, even a dog or a cat could figure out that this is a major passageway. Yet this base only has land-based weapons. It doesn’t have a single runway for fighters. In fact, I haven’t seen many Russian fighters at all. Something just seems wrong.”
Was it Kamijou’s experience with the science side that allowed him to be so sure of that?
Lessar was an expert at battle, but she lost that authority when it came to the actions of a scientific military.
“How did you figure this out?”
“From a map,” Kamijou said pulling out a folded paper map similar to the ones sold anywhere.
“You can figure all this out just by looking at a map?”
“No. I’m not a professional soldier or anything. I can’t deduce what’s going on behind the scenes just by seeing the formation of the army.” Kamijou lightly shook the folded map around. “If they were truly carrying out an important military operation, they wouldn’t be selling this map. They’ve already made sure maps of a few areas aren’t being sold, but there was no restriction put on this area. That’s especially odd given how large the base is. They don’t want the area to seem important, so they’ve purposefully left the security low. However, that made it stand out.”
“Ah,” said Lessar either in admiration or just giving an arbitrary response. “So is Fiamma in that base?”
“I’m not even convinced there’s actually a base there.”
“But the Russian army is stationed there, right? How are we going to get in?”
Kamijou trailed off as the sound of engines became audible in the distance. They sounded deeper than a normal vehicle. They must have belonged to large trucks.
They could see a group of large vehicles travelling along the white snow plains. Kamijou wasn’t sure exactly what kind of trucks they were, but they were reinforced with heavy-looking metal at various points and they had a military feel to them.
If that had been all, it wouldn’t have been too odd a sight in a country at war.
However, there was something else that was clearly odd.
At both the front and back of the line of trucks was a carriage pulled by two horses. The horses were made of silver metal. They weren’t wearing some sort of armor; they truly were horses made of metal.
The carriages were not made completely of wood and cloth. Instead, they seemed to be covered in an outer shell that looked like Western armor.
They were heading from the direction of the base Kamijou and Lessar were headed towards.
This time Kamijou frowned.
“What are those?”
“Oh, has your precious knowledge of the science side run out?”
“I’m not talking about the trucks. Those odd horses are clearly not scientific. Or are you saying the Russian army independently developed pet horse robots?”
“Hmm. I’d say they’re Russian Orthodox Sleipnirs. I’ve heard they were created to help cross snowy plains.”
“…So our opponents here really are magicians.”
“Yes, the trucks were probably just borrowed from the army. Magicians might not know much about cutting edge scientific technology, but they can still drive.”
Kamijou tried to follow Lessar’s lead and lay down to hide on the snow, but the cold stabbed into him right through his non-waterproof clothes causing him to hurriedly stand right back up again.
“If you take unnatural half-assed methods like that, it just makes you look more suspicious,” Lessar said with an exasperated expression.
“I know, I know,” Kamijou responded blowing out white puffs of air. “You said they’re from the Russian Orthodox Church, but what’s in those trucks? Are they full of spiritual items needed for war or something?”
He hadn’t asked that question expecting her to know the answer, but Lessar gave him one he certainly hadn’t expected.
“It’s probably the villagers.”
Lessar grabbed the map from Kamijou and pointed towards the general area of the “suspicious base”.
“The official story is that they hastily put together a base to attack the Elizalina Alliance from, right? Well, there were probably people living there before the base was made.”
Kamijou’s shoulders jumped slightly.
Whether she noticed that or not, Lessar continued on in a carefree way.
“And if that line of trucks being guarded by the Sleipnir carriages just continues on past us, it will reach a concentration camp for political prisoners. I don’t know what pretext they’re officially being taken there on, but the Russian Orthodox Church must not care about the villager’s lives to rob them of their homes like this. They may have just forced everyone out of all the villages in the area in order to use the secretly constructed base.”
“How many villages are there?” Kamijou asked peering at the map from the side. “How many villages were already in the planned area for the base?”
“There were around 8 villages with 20 or 30 people in each. It seems this area is mostly wilderness because it wasn’t developed much. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but they could probably fit all of the villagers in those truc—Wait, where are you going?”
Lessar yelled out to Kamijou as he suddenly ran off.
He was headed for a nearby log house. With almost nothing between it and the horizon in every direction, the mountain hut may have functioned as a rest area.
For some reason, a four-wheel drive vehicle was parked outside the empty log house. From the symbols on the side, it seemed to belong to the Russian army. Kamijou guessed that the army may have been using the log house as a lookout or surveillance area.
He approached the vehicle, didn’t hesitate to use his elbow to break the window, and unlocked the door from inside.
Lessar did not draw back upon hearing the loud sound of breaking glass.
Instead, she sighed.
“Why are you taking out the tool box? Don’t tell me you’re trying to save the villagers with just that crowbar.”
“We don’t know how many enemies there are or what kind of magic they’re using. That isn’t a situation where we can just charge in and assume we’ll manage somehow. I don’t ever charge into a dangerous situation because I want to.”
Lessar pressed her index fingers against her temple at the fact that Kamijou did not deny his intention to rescue the villagers. She had sensed it a bit during the coup d’etat in London, but she was sure now that the boy had a screw loose in his head somewhere.
(…But that’s why it looks like there’s a real chance of enticing him into working for the UK. Hee hee.)
As Lessar secretly confirmed her goal, Kamijou stuck the L-shaped crowbar into the snow. He pulled a strong nylon string from the toolbox and tied it to the crowbar sticking from the snow while glancing down at his cell phone which was displaying an analog clock face.
He pounded an iron stake into the ground at a bit of a distance and tied a string to it as well. Seeing him pull the string out tight, Lessar frowned.
(…He’s making a measurement?)
That thought came to her mind because she knew how to make accurate measurements for the size of different parts of the magic circles needed for large magical rituals.
“What are you doing?”
“You can’t tell? I’m measuring the direction. Well, technically, I’m measuring a flight path.”
Kamijou stuck a few more stakes into the snow and spread strings out near the ground.
“Oh, so you weren’t just heading out there to try to fight with that crowbar.”
“Not even I’m that stupid. How many escorts do you think those trucks have? I’m not about to pick a fight with a group of professional magicians. They’re experts at killing. Do you think I’m a character from a shounen manga or something? I can’t win against that many opponents. …My right hand may have a special power, but it isn’t much help when I’m overwhelmed by numbers.”
“Then what are you planning to do?”
“Let me just check: That Russian Orthodox group doesn’t care about the lives of the villagers, right?”
“If they did, they wouldn’t be taking them to a concentration camp. You probably don’t have a good idea of what a place like that is since you’re from a peaceful country like Japan.”
For some reason Kamijou smiled.
“Good. Then this could work.”
“Again: what are you planning to do?”
“Nothing too tricky. I’m just going to use everything at my disposal.”
Kamijou finished laying out a few more strings and then pointed above his head.
Lessar looked up and saw a long, narrow contrail.
Brassa P. Marhaisk frowned.
Brassa operated the small 8-wheeled carriage pulled by Sleipnirs at the front of the trucks transporting the prisoners. The carriage looked like a pill bug with silver metal plates covering it like armor. However, he was not frowning out of displeasure. All the drivers of the armored vehicles had a similar expression as they stared out the long narrow horizontal slit of a window that only allowed them to see forward . It was the same for the magical vehicles and the scientific ones.
All he could see was a white snowy plain.
There was little difference between the asphalt and the dirt.
At first glance, it looked as if one could just ignore the road and head along whatever path one wanted, but that was not actually true. The problem was the snow. It was impossible to tell how deep it was just from the surface. You also couldn’t tell if any thick trees were fallen and buried underneath it.
Carelessly hitting something like that would break the 8-legged horse spiritual item, and he wanted to avoid that. Also, Russia was a vast country. Its urban areas were some of the most developed in the world, but in the places where there was nothing, there truly was nothing. Being stranded there would be as bad as being stranded in a desert.
It was the kind of place where a map would only tell you that there was nothing there. The maps hadn’t been updated in years, so you really couldn’t know what was there. Straying from the small roads partially hidden in the snow was something you truly wanted to avoid. “How much longer to the detention facility?” said a bored voice in a transmission from one of the trucks.
Of course, it was sent by a magical spiritual item.
“We packed too many people in here, dammit. It’s a like a sauna in here.”
“Then open up the door for some ventilation. In about 10 seconds, you’ll be wishing you had that heat back,” Brassa replied to his fellow magician.
Then a high-pitched roar came from overhead.
It was one of Academy City’s supersonic bombers.
He was pretty sure they were called HsB-02s. According to a report he had read, they had turned the French city of Avignon into a sea of lava. They were apparently transporting goods instead of bombing, but he still couldn’t exactly remain calm with one passing by overhead.
“Dammit. Where’s the proper Russian army? Can’t they do something with surface-to-air missiles?” said the driver of the truck.
“They fly at 7000 kph. A missile can’t lock on and fire fast enough. It’s like they’re mocking the theory of aerial warfare.”
“What about the Migs or Sukhois? They can take on American stealth fighters, right?”
“I don’t know. My scientific knowledge isn’t too great.”
Brassa glared up at the large bomber in annoyance.
(Thank to John’s interception spell, the age of magicians flying came to an end. If it weren’t for that…)
If that airplane dropped a bomb then, Brassa and the others could be killed instantly. Having the bombers dropping small lightweight airborne tanks on parachutes was a problem, but Brassa felt more humiliated than relieved that the bomber wasn’t directly carrying out its normal job.
“(…Damn you. I know you can see us,)” he muttered under his breath.
Immediately afterwards, flames suddenly burst up on the route Brassa and the others were heading on.
It was only about 300 meters ahead. Brassa hurriedly ordered the Sleipnirs pulling the armored carriage to stop. The entire convoy stopped on the road.
He thought there would be nothing but snow all the way to the horizon, but he saw a log house-like building that was likely there for anyone whose engine stalled or who ran into some other type of trouble. The explosion had occurred right next to that building. When he looked closely, he saw what looked like a four-wheel drive vehicle sitting there.
The explosion continued.
The log house itself was blown away. The sole manmade structure on the vast landscape was blown away.
It wasn’t just a normal explosion.
It ran across the ground in a straight line for over 3 kilometers. The white snow was blown up into the air instantly and the ground glowed orange. It was like the Russian earth was being torn apart and melted causing magma to spew forth.
“What!? Are they bombing!?”
Normally, Brassa would have been unable to respond to his companion’s question, but he had heard that Academy City’s supersonic bombers had cleanly cut the French city of Avignon off of the map. He had heard that they had weapons that used the air friction created by speeds of over 7000 kph to produce fearsome destructive force.
“So they’ve finally done it!!”
An unpleasant sweat started flowing from Brassa’s back. The convoy composed of trucks and armored carriages traveling along in the middle of nowhere were a convenient target when seen from the air. They had nowhere to hide and they were clumped together enough to be easily locked onto with the radar.
“Hey, can you use a people clearing field or something to prevent them from targeting us?!”
“We don’t have to time to prepare something like that,” Brassa responded as he re-realized just how much danger he was in. “This is bad. We should get out. They’ll just continue bombing us until they hit us if we stay inside.”
“But they’re bombing us with some super weapon from Academy City!! If we get out, we’ll have nothing protecting us from the blast!!”
“You saw that destructive force just now, didn’t you!? With just the spiritual items we have on hand, the trucks and carriages will just be blown to pieces!! It’s better to make sure they can’t target us. If we spread out and hide ourselves on the snow with our white outfits, our odds of survival go way up!!”
“What about the villagers we’re transporting!?”
“Leave them.” Brassa grabbed his usual staff and headed for the exit to the carriage. “We’re just taking them to the concentration camp anyway. Who cares if they fall victim to the bombing here?!”
What Kamijou Touma had asked Lessar to do was actually quite simple.
“You said your steel glove had been improved, right? It can grab distant objects just by having a red laser-like thing touch them instead of the blade fingers, right?”
“What about it?”
Kamijou pointed up into the air in response to the girl’s question.
“Then can you grab that?”
She frowned, but still began to follow his instructions.
“Wait. I have one more request. Can you stab the steel glove into the ground and make it move from a distance?”
“…Why do I have to do something like that?”
“So you can’t?”
“No, I can,” said Lessar as she stabbed the steel glove upside down into the snow and moved back a few meters. She then sent a bit of magic power to the spiritual item causing it to “grab” a distant object.
That distant object was the supersonic bomber flying at over 7000 kph at an altitude of 10,000 m.
Immediately afterwards, the steel glove split the Russian ground in two as it was dragged by the supersonic bomber.
It was a simple issue of air friction.
By slicing through the lower altitude area with its higher concentration of air at over 7000 kph, a massive amount of energy was produced.
With a tremendous explosive noise, an orange line raced across the white land along the route of the supersonic bomber. It was roughly 3 kilometers long. The ground melted like magma and blew the white snow away. The steel glove must not have been able to withstand the friction partway through because the line of destruction ended shortly after the steel glove was torn to pieces.
Lessar was the one that was shocked by this.
“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!? M-m-my steel glove!! That was the one and only Lessar Special Custom!!”
“Good. It had a nice effect similar to what happened in Avignon. That might very well fool the Russian Orthodox magicians.”
The trucks and carriages that were protected by solid spells had been abandoned in the middle of the snowy plain. Kamijou could see that the group of strong magicians that a normal high school student couldn’t hope to take on had distanced themselves from the convoy on foot.
It probably wouldn’t have been as effective if they had just used some kind of explosive to emulate an aerial bombing. An amateur like Kamijou couldn’t tell the difference, but there were different types of bombs and those different types spread out differently and made different types of noises. For instance, someone may have been able to tell that a faked explosion using propane or gasoline was not an aerial bombing.
That type of bombardment using air friction was exclusive technology of Academy City. There was no analogous weapon in Russia.
That was why Kamijou had managed to trick them.
Whether they were professional magicians or tough soldiers, he could fool them at least once that way.
“If they were transporting guests they had to protect with their lives, that wouldn’t have worked so well. But they didn’t care about those villagers, so they were willing to just abandon them when it came down to it.”
“You seem to feel like you’ve accomplished something here, but that steel glove was mine!! How are you going to make up for destroying it!?”
“How much does a spiritual item cost anyway? Actually, do they even sell them?” Kamijou asked offhand as he ran towards the trucks about 300 meters away.
Lessar ran after him muttering something to herself.
Apparently, the residents of the villages in the area designated for the base were crammed into the trucks.
Kamijou circled around to the back of one of the trucks, but he didn’t know how to open the door. He shook the giant metal fixture, but it wouldn’t budge. Lessar had said Russian Orthodox magicians might have been transporting them, but the lock must not have been magical because nothing changed when he touched it with his right hand.
Lessar then reached her hand in from the side. With a surprisingly simple motion, she easily opened the truck door.
The men, women, and children cowering inside were all focusing on them.
They were panicked and confused.
They were afraid because they thought they had arrived at some decisively bad place and they were confused that the people opening the truck did not seem to be with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Kamijou started to say something to put their minds at ease, but he didn’t know Russian. He thought about using gestures to get his point across, but he gave up on that idea. Instead, he whispered to Lessar.
“Can you tell them to help us because we’re going let them escape?”
“What a pain,” Lessar said bluntly. “I don’t see how this action helps the UK.”
Kamijou pointed out towards the snowy field as he responded.
“If we don’t hurry, the Russian Orthodox magicians will realize something’s wrong and come back.”
Lessar looked grumpy, but she decided to do what he said. Seeing her face the people in the truck, Kamijou headed for another truck. The door was the same, but he managed to open it himself that time. Having to explain everything each time would be pointless work, so he used gestures to indicate that the people inside should head to where Lessar was.
“How are they going to get away?”
“They can just use the trucks. I’m sure there are people in that group who can drive. They can just head to a nearby town for now.”
“…Well, I guess that’s fine. But there isn’t very much in the way of concealment spells cast on these things. They look like Russian army trucks, so we’d better hope they don’t get attacked by any Academy City tanks.”
“We’ll take the front carriage. The one covered in metal panels that looks a bit like a pill bug.” Kamijou looked over towards the small carriage. “It’s the hardest to see the faces of those inside of it from the outside. I’m clearly Asian and you…well, I can’t really tell, but I’m betting there’s a noticeable difference between British and Russian faces. It probably wouldn’t be good if we were spotted. That armored carriage will be best to head towards that base in…but there’s still one problem. Can I ask for your advice?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t know how to drive a carriage.”
“Hey, I’d like to see a high school student that does know how to drive a carriage in this day and age.”
“Yeah, well I’m a middle school student,” Lessar said as she headed for the armored carriage.
She seemed fairly confident. Kamijou started to head after her, but someone suddenly grabbed at the edge of his clothes.
He turned around to find a small girl.
She seemed to be trying to say something, but she also seemed to realize that she and Kamijou spoke two completely different languages.
Kamijou gently removed the girl’s small hand from his clothes and started to speak to her in Japanese not worrying about whether she would understand him.
But he never got a single word out.
A woman holding a baby who seemed to be the girl’s mother frantically grabbed the girl’s arm and pulled her away from Kamijou. He couldn’t understand what the girl’s mother was saying, but there was hostility and fear in her gaze.
(…This is World War III. Academy City and therefore the Japanese are Russia’s enemy.)
He felt a prickle of pain at that, but he just spoke in Japanese without showing it on his face.
“If I’m ever in a similar pinch, you can just repay me then. So don’t worry about it.”
Something like a small horn sounded from the armored carriage. Kamijou admired how it sounded just like a normal car horn as he ran towards the carriage.
It was not exactly what one would call pleasant within the armored carriage. It had an air conditioning-like spiritual item that regulated the temperature inside, so it wasn’t cold, but the carriage was filled with the stench of sweat. The thick steel enclosing them within and preventing them from seeing outside gave an odd sense of being trapped.
Lessar was sitting in the seat for the driver within the armored carriage that was currently not moving. Not even that seat was exposed. It was completely surrounded by the metal panels as well. The reins that connected to the metal horses known as Sleipnir stretched out through a slit.
“Wow, I thought it would be hot in here, but this is ridiculous.”
“…The settings for this air conditioner-like thing are just too broad. If we set it just a bit colder, I’m betting it would suddenly get very cold in here. And if I touch it with my right hand, I’ll destroy it.”
“Sigh. I can’t stand it. I’m gonna undo the buttons on my shirt and fan myself with my skirt.”
“Bfh!! What are you-!? Why are you doing that all of a sudden!?”
“I’m seducing you, so react already!! If you push me down and get this over with, the UK will have one more vanguard member!!”
“Hah hahhn!! I see. So you’re just one of those girls that says all sorts of things with a smile on her face while not knowing the meaning of any of the sexual terms she’s using!! As someone who has just a bit more experience with life, let me tell you that you’re saying some truly dangerous things!! You should be more careful!!”
(You fool, I’ve got you now!!)
The little devil girl that was Lessar lightly swished the tail coming from her miniskirt and grabbed at an opening for a counterattack with an evil smile on her face.
“Okay, understood!! Then I’ll show you exactly how serious I am!!”
And on the battlefield on the Strait of Dover, the Amakusa girl named Itsuwa felt a chill run down her back as she held her spear in both hands.
“!? Wh-what is it, Itsuwa?”
Itsuwa hesitantly averted her gaze from Tatemiya Saiji who had been surprised by her odd exclamation.
“N-nothing… I just…have a bad feeling about something…”
Of course, nothing happened that a more late-blooming girl would be afraid would happen. Instead, Lessar was holding the reins to the Sleipnirs and driving the armored carriage looking unhappy.
“I was a little nervous about using the Russian metal horses, but it’s basically the same as a normal carriage.”
“What do you mean by a normal carriage…?”
Because they were riding in a Russian Orthodox carriage, they had been able to reduce the amount of suspicion directed towards them. However, Kamijou doubted they would be able to just get onto the grounds of that heavily guarded fortress with it.
After Lessar drove the armored carriage for about half an hour, she stopped it in the middle of the empty field of snow.
“We’re going to reach the fortress’s defensive lines before long. To put it bluntly, we’ll be on the receiving end of missile launchers and howitzers if we continue on like this. I doubt the defensive spiritual items installed on the carriage can stand up to that.”
“But there are a lot of tracks through the snow that look like they came from a vehicle of a similar size. Well, I guess it can’t all be easy. Just knowing that the base is bringing in similar carriages is enough. That tells us it really isn’t a normal military installation.”
“What do you mean by a normal military installation…?”
The fortress itself was only about 10 kilometers in each direction. It was said to be front line base adjacent to the border with the Elizalina Alliance, but it wasn’t operating as one would expect for such a base. Part of Fiamma’s plan had to be hidden there.
A defensive line was set up at a radius of 40 kilometers around the fortress.
Of course, it wasn’t surrounded by huge walls like the Great Wall of China. Guard towers had been set up on each side of the fortress and a great number of shells would be fired on any suspicious figure that was spotted.
“…So they evacuated everyone living in an area even greater than Academy City.”
“Yes, but this area is mostly wilderness, so that didn’t even amount to the population of a single Japanese village.”
That reminded Kamijou of just how vast the country of Russia was. On an island nation like Japan, you simply couldn’t find such a large area of untouched nature.
“So what do we do now?” asked Lessar from the driver’s seat. “If we set foot within the defensive line like this, we’ll definitely be blown up by missiles or torn to pieces by bullets. We can’t avoid that kind of thing with the speed of the carriage. Don’t you need some sort of plan? Oh, and I highly doubt they’ve left a blind spot for us to sneak in through.”
“Actually, they might have,” said Kamijou in response to Lessar’s comment that had been said in a half challenging way. “Like I said before, Fiamma is using the Russian army, but he isn’t going to tell them the details of his magical plan. He probably just fooled them into thinking there was a just cause for World War III. If so, he needs to have a secret route he can use to bring in magical equipment and materials.”
“So you’re saying we can sneak into the fortress as long as we find that?”
“Most of the Russians don’t know about magic. At the very least, I doubt the normal soldiers can fight using magic. It should be easier than breaking in through the front.”
“…Fiamma of the Right is pretty powerful, right? I mean, he is said to be the leader of God’s Right Seat. The magical traps and subordinates he’s prepared will probably be rather high level.”
“And that’s where I finally come in.”
Kamijou smiled and waved his right hand around.
That hand held a power known as Imagine Breaker that could negate every kind of supernatural power.
“A fight against a professional soldier armed with a rifle and bombs isn’t the type of battle I should be fighting. Nor is a battle against a large group of Russian Orthodox magicians. I had just been thinking that things weren’t going as well as usual for me, but here’s where it starts. I’ve finally arrived at the stage that’s made for me.”
Kamijou Touma stared straight ahead through the slit-like window in the armored carriage.
He muttered a few words as he faced the slight silhouette on the horizon that belonged to the facility he was headed for.
“…I’ll be there soon, Fiamma.”
Deep in Moscow stood an old man wearing an extravagant military uniform that a soldier on the battlefield would certainly not be wearing. He was within a building that was like a palace, but it was actually a fortress registered as an official military facility. The man’s uniform was covered with military decorations. Until a moment ago, he had believed that he had been in the very depths of Russia’s darkness. However, that was apparently not true.
Other men wearing similar uniforms were also gathered there.
Those men were similar in ways other than their clothing and careers.
“…The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, huh? It seems the world has spread quite a bit in an unexpected direction.”
“We started this war as they wanted, but can we really push back Academy City’s forces?”
“There are a surprising number of people aiding Academy City. The blessings of scientific technology have certainly carved out a large line.”
“Essentially, this has developed into a war between those under the control of the Roman Catholic or the Russian Orthodox churches and the rest of the world. It really hurt not to get India and China’s help.”
“I can’t tell what Academy City is after. Adding in those unmanned weapons and showing off how much military strength they have isn’t a plus for them.”
“You’re saying they have a goal beyond interception and defense?”
“Maybe it’s the missile silos?”
“We can’t allow the silos to be taken no matter what. With their technology, it’s possible they could activate them without a proper signal. It’s also possible they could bring in some of their own.”
“I’m suggesting we think about activating you know what.”
All of them fell silent at that.
They had gone through that argument countless times before. The topic was such a heavy one that, even after discussing it so many times, they still had not given a definitive green light for the “you know what”.
Finally someone muttered a few words.
The man was staring at the pile of documents on the table as he did so.
“The Kremlin Report...”
Between the lines 1
Academy City had become quite busy, too.
In her dorm room, Misaka Mikoto was sitting on her bed. Her roommate, Shirai Kuroko, was not there. It seemed she had been needed on some job for Judgment.
They had the day off school.
It wasn’t because a typhoon was blowing in.
The odds were “still” low, but the odds of a Russian ballistic missile or bomber making it to Academy City were not zero.
While Academy City and Russia seemed intent on fighting each other, the Japanese government had responded negatively to the idea of war. That wasn’t exactly surprising. After all, Japan did not have an army, so they couldn’t just decide to go to war. The Russians were acting on the assumption that it was a worldwide war, so America’s attempts to deter them were ineffective.
Seeing that they had no chance of victory in all-out war, the Japanese government has pressured Academy City to quickly give into Russia’s demands and avoid the war.
In response, Academy City had presented an extremely simple video.
It was footage of ballistic missiles exploding outside the atmosphere.
It wasn’t just one or two missiles.
More than thirty of those fast moving shadows were flying through the sky at once and they were all shot down by Academy City interception weapons.
“We will not force you to do anything,” said an Academy City spokesperson on the mobile 1seg broadcast. “However, we have no duty to protect anyone who is not our ally. Russia has already fired ballistic missiles without warning. Fortunately, none of them have been confirmed to have been loaded with nuclear warheads, but we do not know when that taboo will be lifted. We would like to take the course of action that we believe to be correct. But then, the country of Japan has the Aegis ships and PAC3s acquired with a large amount of tax money, so perhaps this is not all that much of a problem for you.”
(…That’s practically a threat.)
Academy City was saying it would remove its air defense network from the rest of Japan if they tried to interfere. It was true that the many American-made interception weapons the Self Defense Force had desperately been supplied with were excellent, but they could not compare to the Academy City weapons that were 20 or 30 years ahead in technology. Even a child knew the American weapons were not 100% accurate and they were in a situation where missing even once would bring tragedy.
Academy City was more or less threatening them using the Russian missiles, but the general populace didn’t care. They just wanted to make sure those missiles did not fall on their own heads.
Thanks to that, the people were putting major pressure on the politicians. They were pressuring them not to provoke that city. They were begging them to allow their own cities to remain in the safety zone. With that flood of people’s views, the politicians couldn’t do anything which left Academy City able to do whatever it wanted.
The proclamation of war had been announced to the entire world and Mikoto had looked it up herself on the internet.
She knew that an aberrant city like Academy City would not give in to its demands.
However, she still felt an odd discomfort. While urging the people on with an indirect fear, Academy City was remaining a clean “ally of justice” that was protecting the people without getting its own hands dirty. That purity was very weird as if everything had been washed away with bleach. Mikoto found it odd that there didn’t seem to be something hidden down below it all.
Mikoto looked over to a different cell phone from the one she had been watching the video on.
This one had a Gekota strap on it.
She had called a certain spiky haired boy’s number countless times, but she hadn’t gotten through at all. And that boy had recently said he was in London when the coup d’etat was going on.
She had thought it was some kind of joke.
What if that boy still hadn’t returned to Academy City?
Mikoto decided it was worth looking into.
Ever since the proclamation of war, usage of the airport in District 23 had been restricted for civilians. And given the timing of the coup d’etat and the war, it may have been difficult for him to have come back.
Academy City seemed like it was cut off from the disturbances occurring outside, but it was actually at the center of the war.
If that boy was outside of the city, his level of danger shot up considerably. She couldn’t just ignore that possibility.