Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume22 Chapter11

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Chapter 11: In the Shining Golden Sky. Star_of_Bethlehem.

Part 1

An intense pressure assaulted Accelerator’s chest.

His breathing stopped.

He did not know how it worked, but a portion of the night sky had split open greatly and a great amount of golden light was overflowing from it. Given the refractive index of sunlight and the atmosphere, the heavens were filled with a color that should have been impossible upon the earth. That light expelled all sense of night from the world. The fortress monopolizing the heavens was even more clearly visible than when it had been dyed in the colors of night before.

The night sky from before had been strange enough given the time.

That eerie night sky had seemed like it had been pasted there by human hands and the layout of the stars had been impossible from an astronomical point of view.

But…

That golden sky was beyond even that. It seemed like it would be wrong to even attempt to explain it astronomically. One could only imagine that scientists across the world would just give up saying that there was no way common knowledge could explain it even though it was before their eyes.

Everything had gone insane.

It wasn’t just the fact that the scene ignored all the basic scientific laws. It was the fact that no one was hiding the phenomenon. It was completely insane that it was just spread out before the entire world like that.

Accelerator was used to the darkness of Academy City where it was natural for all sorts of incidents and the esper powers that had caused them to be covered up using cutting edge technology, so that sight seemed completely ridiculous to him.

In that second, in that instant, what was known as the world may have completely changed.

But…

(…What do I care?)

With that one thought, Accelerator cast aside that great change.

He seemed to be grabbing at his own chest with his slender hand as he breathed heavily.

Even then, Last Order’s life was in danger.

If he did not get rid of the cause as soon as possible, it would go beyond the point of no return.

He knew it was selfish.

But even so he did not care about a change that encompassed the entire world. If anyone would say that was self-centered and evil, that strongest monster of Academy City was prepared to fight every single one of them. No matter who he had to make an enemy of and no matter what he had to lose, there was something he had to accomplish.

He had to rescue the girl known as Last Order from every part of that unreasonable world.

Accelerator once more had a reason to live.

“Misaka Worst. Have you gotten the data on the song used to remove Kihara Amata’s virus?”

“It is in a rather shallow portion of the Misaka Network. It seems the single large will of the network had noticed something wrong with the song. The calculation ability of each Sister was reorganized and used in parallel to continually attempt to analyze it. Thanks to that, this newcomer Misaka was able to acquire the data without having to dive too deeply into the network. Misaka has finished downloading it,” Misaka Worst said while pointing toward her own temple with a mischievous smile on her face.

“Give me the data,” Accelerator said without thanking her.

“At least say something. A pointlessly vast knowledge is the reward of intellectual work, y’know? Although it’s kind of like a drink after working overtime.”

She sighed and then pulled a mobile device from a pocket of her white battle outfit.

“Misaka has the song, but she cannot express it with her specs. It has less to do with how you have to move your throat and more to do with the manner of breathing and how you make it reverberate within your body not being normal. It would be faster to output it by sending electrical signals to a speaker. Would you like the score, artificial voice data, or the sound amplitude graph?”

“Give me all of them. Only a lowly thug holds back. Having good manners with small things like that won’t get you any praise, but acting tough and then failing is a waste of your achievements.”

“You really are an unpleasant person through and through, but it is more comfortable that way.”

With a slight noise of static, a change suddenly occurred on the mobile device. A few files were added.

Accelerator took the mobile device and operated the screen with his fingertips. Misaka Worst peered at the small screen from the side.

“But just this song isn’t enough, right? You have to replace the exclusive parameters or whatever. How are you going to do that?”

“I’ll manage somehow,” replied Accelerator as he shook the mobile device around to drive the girl away as her head was blocking his view.

He then pulled out the pile of parchments.

Written with a sticky black ink were eerie and strange spells or magic circles. Misaka Worst frowned upon seeing the cryptic contents of the parchments. They simply seemed unfitting for the crystallization of Academy City’s cutting edge science that Last Order was.

“…Are you mocking Misaka?”

“I’m glad to see you can express your emotions so abundantly, but I’d rather the other dolls didn’t learn from you.”

“Quit talking like you’re a parent. So this clearly occult demon summoning text is hiding the parameter you need? Are you going to become a shady spiritual expert after studying for twenty minutes and then call a goat’s head from a pentagram to grant your wish?”

“No.”

“By the way,” Misaka Worst said without listening to him and with clear ill will covering her words. “Last Order’s problem was caused by something within Academy City, right? So why was the manual to fixing that problem plopped down in front of you in such a far off place? You just happened to go to Russia and yet you just happened to run into an adaptable means of fixing this? It’s like a video game where hints are kindly prepared along the route you progress along. You just need to gather the gun to fight the zombies, the hero’s sword to defeat the demon king, and the memos from researchers and sages and you’ve got it all. Do you really think things would be that simple in this harsh real world?”

“…I said that isn’t fucking it.”

“Oh, should you really be pressing a gun between Misaka’s eyes, you parent? This Misaka would like to be treated the same as the other Misakas.”

Accelerator had stuck the handheld device and the parchments under the arm with his cane and was pressing a mass of metal just below Misaka Worst’s forehead. To be that annoyed but to have not yet pulled the trigger would have been unthinkable for the old him. After all that had happened to that monster, he had softened a little.

“Whether you’re talking about high-level security encryption on computers or encrypted plans from da Vinci’s time, it all comes down to math. The number of digits is a bit different, but the root of it all remains the same. The code put on cell phones for privacy can be broken by repeating the same simple calculation over and over again. People only think of it as safe because the numbers are so huge that it would take too long to do it that way. The actual method of encoding isn’t all that complex.”

“So?”

“So I dealt with it using math. I broke apart all the information into 1s and 0s and then put it together like a puzzle in my head. Under normal thinking, I should have been able to solve it that way. At the very least, I should have at least gotten a clue to how it’s encoded. …Let’s just ignore that the numbers are so large that it would take hundreds of years.”

“Misaka senses the kind of misfortune and frustration that she loves so much in how you said ‘should have’.”

“I can’t solve the puzzle,” Accelerator readily admitted. “I’m missing a piece, so I can’t use just math. I can manage up to a certain point, but something is definitely off. It’s like I’m trying to calculate Pi and an error occurs at the 100th digit every time. There’s some other kind of laws mixed in. Unless I can fill in the missing piece, I can’t correct for this error. The further I continue the calculations, the greater the error spreads until I’ve lost sight of what I’m trying to find.”

“So whatever these parchments are, you can’t get the parameters you need?”

“I can’t do this with math, but I have to solve it somehow, so I’ve brought together every single bit of knowledge I have. I do have the #1 brain in Academy City after all. I’m not particularly proud of it, but I have a lot packed in here. And so I started doing a self-search through every part of my head pulling out every kind of information and just pulling it out and pulling it out and pulling it out.”

His words alone continued.

Misaka Worst should know what he meant. His calculative and linguistic abilities were being supplemented by the almost 10,000 Sisters. In other words, his original intellectual specs were simply that great.

“And then I suddenly realized it.”

“Realized what?”

“I already have things I can’t understand inputted within me.”

“…”

“I first thought of the previous battle between the water angel and the scientific angel, but that wasn’t the right answer. Before that, well before that, I understood it with my own body.”

Accelerator spoke as if he had realized something.

“Yes.”

Speaking of his own loss would have been unthinkable for the person he had once been. But now his priorities had changed.

If he could protect a small life in exchange for his pride, he would unhesitatingly cast it aside.

“I was unable to reflect an unknown attack. It just went straight through my defenses and cut my body in two. I couldn’t come up with a single way of dealing with it. I was utterly defeated at that time.”

He now had enough leeway to smile.

He pushed on his own back and took another step forward.

“But it wasn’t that the attack did not have vectors. I’m sure I had those unknown laws inputted into my body from Aiwass back then.”

Thinking back on it, that had been what had happened.

Aiwass had not just erased his powers like that Level 0.

The being had not worked around his powers like Kihara Amata or Kakine Teitoku.

Aiwass had used a completely straightforward attack and its vectors had directly struck Accelerator. In that case, that information should have been transferred to Accelerator.

A hint had been within his own head from the beginning. The answer was within him. Aiwass had said to go to Russia, but it had not said the solution needed to save Last Order would be simply laid out before him. All that monster had presented to him was the key to the vault.

He mustn’t write it off as “unknown”.

He mustn’t just throw it into the black box.

He needed to establish nonexistent vector axes that could deal with what seemed off. He needed to think of math dealing with things such as imaginary numbers that did not actually exist in the real world but that could be explained using purely mathematical calculations. He had to calculate what the values were from the vectors before his eyes in order to determine what laws were used to create them. He could not figure it all out just from Aiwass. Aiwass was a nonstandard monster. A fragment of an asteroid altered by tremendous heat was nothing more than a rock in and of itself. However, using high level formulas on it could become a key to guessing at the spread of the universe from the big bang.

Of course, he may not be able to grasp a perfect picture of it, but he could put together an inference that was exceedingly close to the truth.

The big bang at the start of the universe had yet to be proven to be a giant explosion. All that had been done was using giant ring-shaped particle accelerators to recreate and confirm the physical phenomena theorized to have happened after the explosion.

Physicists used that to continually bring the original explosion as close as possible to reality in their minds as they filled in the details bit by bit.

He just had to do the same thing.

The skill to focus and control the vectors of forces and alter them into attacks was nothing more than an added value. Most likely, the core of the reason he existed slept in what he was doing there.

When he had naturally been given his esper name, he had surely understood it on an instinctual level, but Accelerator once more became strongly aware of that reason.

“By mixing in nonexistent math similar to imaginary numbers into the contents of the parchments and inputting just one line of a unique physical formula, it rises to the surface. But that isn’t what’s important. Once I have solved the puzzle using the rules I put together myself, the mysterious Aiwass vectors in my head have been cut down to an inference exceedingly close to reality on the same level as the big bang theory. In other words,” Accelerator paused for a second, “I have the parameters needed to save this brat. Now is the time to turn this around.”

He turned toward the small girl who was even then suffering for some absurd reason.

He turned toward the true battlefield where he must fight.

On September 30th when he had confronted Kihara Amata who led the Hound Dog unit, the doctor known as Heaven Canceller had said rather unfunny things that had hit him where it had hurt, but now Accelerator felt he could step into that same field again with pride. Accelerator now understood the value of fighting to protect a life and of putting effort into securing that life.

Not all fights involved physical conflict.

Taking from others was not the only way to win.

Up until then, he had sworn to stand at the peak of villainy in order to protect those important to him from the unreasonable darkness. He continued having fights to the death with bastards a lot like him in the bloody back alleys. Each time he had lost a lot in exchange for his victory which led to him being swallowed up by the darkness even further.

However, this fight was different.

He no longer needed to remain a villain!!

“…Heh.”

Accelerator hung his head down and contemplated what that meant for an instant.

He contemplated it deeply.

When he raised his head once more, the trembling that had been in his eyes as he wandered about Russia was gone.

“Let’s get started,” was his short comment.

He did not need to make any especially showy actions.

He just had to close his eyes and bring out the answer he had come to in his head in the form of his voice.

That would end it.

That would end it all.

The massive formula was outputted into the world in the form of song data.

Misaka Worst may have been surprised as she watched from the side, but it was nothing special. In the past, Accelerator had eliminated Amai Ao’s virus using his own power. This was merely in a different form, so there was no reason he shouldn’t be able to do it. He had everything he needed. All he had to do was keep it in the best condition through to the end and produce the desired results like he was a machine.

That was how it was supposed to go.

However, the mechanism that was supposed to move slowly got caught somewhere.

It was a slight but ominous vibration like the omen of a train disastrously derailing.

(The golden sky…!?)

Mysterious vectors like Aiwass’s were pressing down on him from above.

(I see. It isn’t too surprising that something like that would interfere with this a bit.)

Static ran through TVs or radios when they were near power lines with high voltage currents running through them. It was the same as that. He immediately determined that and made slight adjustments to his equations.

He was reminded of a ball rolling down a slope.

At the bottom of slope was a cliff.

If he continued to adjust his equations, he would cross a decisive line. Whatever he analyzed, Accelerator was an existence living within the normal physical laws. He himself would not be immersed just by knowing of the mysterious laws.

He would cross that line.

He would be swallowed up by the mysterious laws.

Accelerator knew that, but he did not stop. He continued on. He shot down the slope in a straight line. He could already see the edge of the cliff. Accelerator saw that deep hole as a gate. He unhesitatingly headed forward and leapt into the bottomless darkness.

He crossed that line in an instant.

Immediately afterwards, a change occurred.

“…!!!???”

With a cracking noise, something within his body let out a cry. The blood vessels on the back of his hand swelled up oddly. He became strongly aware that he had thick blood pipelines running from his fingertips to his shoulders. As soon as he noticed that, something tore. His skin ripped from the inside and a dark-red liquid squirted out.

Had he realized it?

By breathing in a way impossible for a normal person and using vibrations from his entire body rather than just his throat, he had let out an extremely special voice. With that voice, he was refining his life force into magic power, putting together a spell, and outputting it into the real world. In other words, he was using true magic.

Espers could not use magic.

If they forcibly used it, what awaited them was an enormous rejection reaction.

The damage did not remain in just one place. The flows of the arteries, veins, and nerves running through his entire body like spider webs gave him a strange pulse and pain while bringing their presence to the front of his mind. He was made strongly aware of the expansion and contraction of his organs as well as their locations. More sweat flowed from his body in an instant than if he were to enter a sauna. That clear and unpleasant liquid mixed with something red. Accelerator thought small scale explosions were occurring in various places across his body. That prediction was not wrong.

But he continued because he had no reason to stop there.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!”

A wild yet solemn voice similar to a primitive aborigine dancing song spread throughout the white land. His entire body was soaked in blood and countless wounds were being expanded from within, but there was not even the slightest shaking in his voice. That was the strength of his will. He wanted to save a certain small girl. With that feeling alone, he overcame the very real pain and carried out his high-level mental work without the slightest error.

There were stories from the age when the Christian Church was still persecuted by the Romans saying that many believers would occasionally witness the form of angels while they were being gruesomely tortured.

There was a rather dreamless view saying that it was an illusion created from the excretion of excess chemicals in the brain in order to escape the excruciating pain. After all, the appearance of the angel was just too convenient. If angels actually existed and that powerful being was on their side, why had the Romans not been slaughtered there?

That view may have been accurate in some cases.

But what if those believers who were in that extreme mental state had subconsciously carried out the mental work needed to delicately carry out a complex and powerful spell that allowed them to temporarily control Telesma in order to perform a high level summoning? Wasn’t that another explanation that had some dreams left in it? Couldn’t it be explained as those believers responding with wordless words and briefly calling in a real angel via some quick spell?

Yes.

Accelerator prayed.

He prayed wholeheartedly. He wished for nothing else. He paid no heed even to his own pain. Academy City’s strongest monster did nothing but continually pray so that he could protect the one who was more important to him than his own life.

That white angel had been thrown down to the depths of the earth by a great amount of evil. He had crawled back up seeking light, but his wings had been broken by a different monster.

But would anyone think that he was “fallen” by looking at his bloody face?

Or would they think that his shining light would not be clouded even if he fell to the depths of hell?

It was the same as with the many believers who had been looked down on, thrown into cells, or thrown into brothels, and yet those unsightly and filthy places had been completely transformed into shining places of faith.

His soul was not so stained that he did not have a place to stand.

Sinners would face their sins, risk their lives and work to make up for their sins, and wash away that darkness.

It was not a mere performance.

It was not something another could force one to do.

The world was not so cold as to not save those who truly searched within their hearts, continually fought to change their ways, and tried to break from their destiny. Among the important historical figures of the Christian Church, there were those who had originally brought suffering to the Christians as Romans. Those people had regretted what they had done for the rest of their lives, but had headed down a path of hardships but also salvation as they continually fought to make up for their sins as much as they possibly could.

What was Accelerator at that time?

Was he a good person or a villain?

Was he a human or a monster?

Was he of science or of magic?

If you had asked him, he would unhesitatingly have answered as follows: Isn’t that obvious? No other word can describe me other than “me”.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!”

By walking down that bloody path, Accelerator had broken every single chain binding him.

There was nothing left limiting him.

He could head forward as far as he needed to.

To save Last Order’s small life, he did nothing but head down the path he believed in.

He became covered in blood.

He continued to sing.

And…

Part 2

Where had Takitsubo Rikou gone?

The battle with Mugino was over and additional attackers had been seen coming down from a bomber, so Hamazura Shiage needed to meet back up with Takitsubo as quickly as possible. Even if he was going to come up with a plan, he did not want to do so while they were separated.

“Dammit!! Where is she!? Takitsubo! Where are you!?”

As he loudly called out her name, Hamazura grabbed a thick branch. An avalanche had torn up the snow-covered base of the mountain. He had lost track of Takitsubo around the time of his battle with Mugino. The fact that no response came after he searched around the area and called her name meant that it was possible she was buried beneath the snow.

Despite working in that freezing land, Hamazura worked up a sweat and his throat dried up. Hamazura took a drink from a bottle of carbonated water. The water was still water because it had been within his jacket. If it had been lying on the ground, it would have quickly frozen.

Meanwhile, Mugino Shizuri disinterestedly watched Hamazura panicking from a slight distance.

“Hey!! You help search too, Mugino!! I can’t find Takitsubo! I can’t even take a guess where she might be!! So help me! I need as much help as I can get!!”

“Why do I have to do that?”

“What do I do? What do I do? The burden of the Body Crystal may have been lessened, but she’s still far from being fully recovered. We can’t just leave her out here in the cold. We need to get her warm. Takitsubo’s weak. She’s a weak girl. It’s all the Body Crystal’s fault that she’s like that…”

“…”

Academy City’s #4 Level 5, Mugino Shizuri, struck with Meltdowner.

With an explosive noise, a mass of snow right next to Hamazura evaporated in a straight line. There was such power to it that it caused a phreatic explosion sending Hamazura’s body flying into the air.

Mugino shook her head.

Index v22 132.jpg

“O-oh, no. I feel dizzy. This might be the result of the Body Crystal…of the Bo-dy Cry-stal. There’s a lot going on with my body’s drive, but…no, I think I might just pitifully pass out.”

“What are you doing, Muginoooooo!? Don’t you know that the weak bunny that is Takitsubo could be buried anywhere around heeeeeerrrrrrrrre!?” Hamazura yelled out in a girly falsetto while lying on the ground.

“…What a pain. Fine, I’ll help you dig her out.”

“Keeeee!! You need to make a clear distinction between jokes and serious statements!! I can’t deal with this. I really do need someone who is completely harmless!!”

Mugino then pointed behind Hamazura with an unbelievably unmotivated expression.

“She’s silently approaching.”

“Waahh!?” Hamazura yelled out upon seeing the ghost girl Takitsubo Rikou quietly drawing near.

But that meant they were all there.

Hamazura checked on the situation now that all three of them were gathered.

He looked up at the golden sky.

He could tell the Academy City attackers heading down amid that psychedelic scenery were about to land a bit away. Their clothing did not match the white snowy plain. They were wearing black battle outfits. They looked like the kind of outfit that would be supplied to urban special forces. They had nothing that looked like a gun.

“…”

Mugino Shizuri had fired her Meltdowner just a moment ago, but it could not be used in real battle anymore.

She would be able to fire 2 or 3 shots, but that would be the limit for her body that had been ravaged by the Body Crystal. She could possibly manage against a stationary target, but it was unclear if she could hit enemies irregularly running around at high speed. It would be difficult indeed to take out those attackers when she had so few shots left.

Takitsubo Rikou would not be any help. The negative effects of the Body Crystal had been alleviated to a certain extent, but she had not undergone any fundamental treatment. And even if she was at full strength, she was more suited for logistical support. His image of her was not that of someone who was skilled at close quarters combat much less someone who could blow away an enemy with a powerful esper ability.

The attackers knew that.

That was why they had parachuted down from the bomber in clear view. Otherwise, they would have been more cautious in their approach.

Hamazura charged into the forest of conifer trees.

A few dozen meters ahead, he saw a figure approaching slowly but surely across the snow. Hamazura held his breath and stared.

It was not a normal soldier.

The attacker was wearing completely black clothes and a gold and white flat mask covered his face. The strange mask seemed to stretch up over twice as high as the attacker’s face. There were no holes for the eyes or mouth. It seemed patterns could be drawn with various man-made lights covering the mask like LED decorations for a cell phone. Hamazura did not know what it meant, but a faint LED would occasionally be emitted. From the stature, the cheekbones, and the other parts of the head the mask did not cover, it seemed the attacker was a man.

“…”

Just staring at the enemy would not change things in Hamazura’s favor.

He checked on his surroundings and on the weapons he could use.

As Mugino and Takitsubo would be of no use, it would not be a good idea to fight alongside them. He had made them retreat into a nearby cave. Hamazura had to fight the attackers, but he also had to distance them from that cave.

He held the assault rifle in his hands and turned off the unrefined safety with his thumb.

(…Did they sacrifice armor for lighter movements?)

Hamazura stared between the trees at the attacker in the strange mask from a few dozen meters away.

The attacker’s outfit looked too thin to have bulletproof plates embedded in it. However, given the situation, it was best to assume it had some ridiculous technology that gave some kind of ridiculous effect.

(A special fiber could stop a bullet, but would the shock of the impact get through? In that case, a 7.62 mm bullet would do it. The Anti-Skill protectors look like they would be better than that just based on thickness alone. It looks like he can move quickly in that, but I might be able to do something if I do it before he notices me.)

Suddenly, the attacker’s head turned in his direction. The attacker was not holding anything like a gun, but if his strength was reinforced with springs that expanded and contracted with electrical signals like the ones used in Hard Taping, he would be able to tear a human body in two with his bare hands.

Hamazura was out of time.

His hands shot up and he pulled the trigger with the barrel pointed toward the attacker.

A shock hit his right shoulder like it had been punched.

The first shot struck a tree trunk partway there.

The second shot travelled straight for the attacker.

A high pitched noise and sparks exploded out.

The rifle bullet did not pierce the attacker. An exceedingly lifelike-looking wing suddenly stretched out from the middle of the flat gold and white mask. It acted as a shield to cover that slim body.

“Wha—!?”

Hamazura thought his breathing had stopped, but it was not simply due to seeing that organic wing.

Familiar words appeared in light on the mask covering the attacker’s face.

Equ.DarkMatter.

That was the esper name of Academy City’s #2 Level 5 who had confronted Mugino Shizuri.

Hamazura heard a creaking noise.

The attacker was preparing to charge in toward him.

“Ooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

Hamazura shouted as he continuously fired on full auto.

The sound of metal being scraped apart repeatedly rang out. The cartridges being spat out were striking each other in midair adding a sound like small bells to the gunfire.

However, that scraping noise was not because the attacker’s body was being blown to pieces.

It was the sound of the multiple white wings that had flowed out of the large flat mask knocking every single bullet to the ground.

Hamazura could not reach him.

Immediately after despair filled Hamazura’s chest, the attacker moved.

With a roar, the many wings flapped and filled the dozens of meters between them.

Hamazura did not have time to avoid it.

They flew straight toward him like bullets.

A dull creaking noise came from within Hamazura’s upper body.

“Gaaahhh!?”

The mere fact that he could cry out showed that he had gotten off easy.

His body flew a few meters through the air and collapsed atop the snow. He felt a hard root in his back. After just that one attack, he could taste blood in his mouth.

Hamazura heard the sound of something slicing through the wind.

Multiple wings stretched from the attacker’s gold and white mask and were released around the entire area like whips.

Hamazura rolled across the ground while stifling the yell that was stuck in his throat.

The conifer trees making up the forest were smoothly sliced through. The ground nearby was torn up and thick trees fell over around Hamazura who continued to roll.

The white wings and the mask were made of the same substance.

They spread unnaturally like a sugar sculpture stretched in heat.

“No…” Hamazura muttered.

He had never seen Kakine Teitoku actually use his power, but from what he could tell, there was something off.

“This isn’t Dark Matter or any other esper power…?”

The attacker did not respond.

Instead, the attacker slowly turned the multiple white wings toward Hamazura.

“!?”

Hamazura frantically tried to get up and head back to get some distance, but another attack came from behind. There was more than one attacker. By the time Hamazura realized that, it was too late. The trunk of the tree behind him was sliced apart as multiple white wings attacked from behind.

He was fortunate that he was struck by the tree trunk instead of the white wings.

However, that was still like being struck like a hammer, so Hamazura was knocked away.

That time, he was not able to cry out.

As he lay on the white snow, Hamazura realized that there were red stains around him. He was in such pain that it took him a little longer to realize that was because he was bleeding.

Lying on the ground, he moved only his eyes to look around.

He could see three of them.

He had no idea when the final one had shown up.

“Psychic powers are similar to fire,” said one of the attackers.

They were all wearing the same type of mask, so Hamazura could not tell which one was speaking.

“Fire is a great power that only humans can control, but just swinging fire around brings you no further than a caveman’s torch. Civilized man uses fire to temper iron. It is the same as that.”

(I see.)

Level 5 powers like Mugino Shizuri’s Meltdowner and Kakine Teitoku’s Dark Matter produced effects that exceeded the normal physical laws. In that case, what new materials could be manufactured using those powers? Could they perhaps create brand new materials that ignored everything derived from the elementary particles, atoms, and molecules extending from the big bang?

Just like how carbon nanotubes were different from mere masses of carbon. Just like how semiconductors that carried out high speed calculations were different from mere masses of glass. Just like how steel that had a high level heat treatment applied was different from mere soft iron.

A new substance created using an energy source that did not exist in that world would possess properties that did not exist in that world.

It was to the point where one could mock a true Level 5 as nothing but a caveman with a torch.

“…You certainly seem calm,” spat out Hamazura. “Did you give Mugino the Body Crystal because you wanted to treat that #4 ‘fire’ as a weapon and use her like a flamethrower filled with naphtha? And when that didn’t work out, you came to collect her before the coals went out? What do you plan to do next? Are you going to hook her up to a medical device and turn her into a blast furnace for creating new materials?”

If that were the case, Hamazura was not needed for their project.

Academy City had been pursuing him from the start, so a Level 0 like him would just be killed.

The masked attackers drew closer from three different directions.

He could likely not defeat them with just an assault rifle. Even the Level 5 the materials were created from had the power to single-handedly take on an entire military unit. Hamazura would not be able to defeat even one of the attackers even if he had a tank or a howitzer.

That was if he attacked them straight on.

However, Hamazura Shiage had not stood before them in order to be killed.

“Hey,” he said while still on the ground with no strength in his arms or legs. “Because I rolled all over the place like that, what was in my pocket is gone. It may have fallen out somewhere.”

The attackers paid his comment no heed.

They would quickly kill the two rebels and retrieve Mugino Shizuri.

That was all that was on the attackers’ minds as one stepped forward and felt something hard crunch under his foot.

It was a clear shard. It appeared to be the remnants of a broken glass container.

“Damn. And that was my last hope,” Hamazura said as if he were giving up on something. “I finally thought I had something I could use to negotiate with Academy City and then this happens.”

An ominous feeling swelled up within the attackers.

Hamazura continued to speak to the attackers who supposedly had the absolute advantage.

“That was a package of the bacterial wall the Russian special unit was trying to disseminate. I’d rather you hadn’t stepped on that right before my eyes.”

The atmosphere instantaneously froze. The attackers from the dark side of Academy City had been given the specs of the bacterial wall used in the Kremlin Report.

It was a type of virus that spread through the air and had a higher than 80% death rate for those infected. It had an extremely high resistance to heat, so boiling would have no effect. As such, toxic high density ozone was needed to sterilize it. Also worth mentioning was the fact that the virus had the ability to break down oils meaning it could eat through the filters in protective masks, vehicles, and other constructions. It was stored without any moisture to prevent it from becoming active, but once it left the package and came in contact with the moisture in the air, there was no way of stopping it.

There was even a risk of infection if you were entirely covered in special masks and suits!!

“Shit!!”

Panic came over the attackers for the first time. They knew it was pointless, but they tried to get away from the broken glass container.

And then Hamazura Shiage quickly swung his arms holding the assault rifle.

“Just kidding, you idiots. That’s a bottle of carbonated water.”

“!?”

By the time the attackers realized it, it was too late.

Hamazura stood up on his knees and forced his body forward. He stuck the rifle between the white wings and forced its aim toward the attacker’s waist.

He did not have time to hesitate.

He pulled the trigger.

With a sharp gun shot, the attacker collapsed onto the ground like roughly opening and closing a door. The attacker was protected by the white wings. If he had been shot from anywhere else, it was clear what would have happened.

“You bastard!!”

The attackers had never expected one of their own to be taken out. The other two frantically flapped their white wings.

At that rate, Hamazura would be sliced to pieces. The thick tree trunks would not act as cover from those white wings.

However, the body of a man using the same technology lay at his feet. Hamazura moved to the side and leapt behind the white wings that were still coming from the dead body. The white wings that seemed to slice through anything were obstructed and repelled by wings made of the same substance.

Hamazura kicked the body changing the angle of the neck…or rather, the angle of the wings coming from the mask. The white wings flew down like guillotines toward the attackers.

They both had the same type of weapon.

That meant they were able to block the white wings, too.

Multiple white wings grew from the masks as the attackers used everything they had to block the attack. Yes, they used everything they had. They had no room to spare. That was when Hamazura aimed his assault rifle like he was sticking it out from under his arm.

A scream rang out.

Along with the short burst of bullets, red liquid scattered about and the second attacker collapsed atop the snow.

However, that was the limit.

The third attacker counterattacked. Multiple white wings squirmed about and tore into the ground below Hamazura’s feet rather than at the boy himself. He lost his balance making him unable to aim his assault rifle. He was completely powerless. The attacker first made sure he himself was safe and then unhesitatingly headed forward. He grabbed Hamazura’s neck with one hand and moved that half of his body forward in order to push the boy’s back against the trunk of a tree that had barely managed to survive during that battle.

“Gah!?”

A shock ran through Hamazura’s body, his breathing stopped, and the grip of the assault rifle slipped from his hands. His legs dangled above the ground. The attacker said nothing and spread the white wings wide. There was no mercy in his actions.

“…Aren’t you forgetting something important?”

However, Hamazura smiled.

He spoke as he smiled.

“Even if her body’s balance is off due to the Body Crystal, Mugino Shizuri is the #4. She can still fire two or three shots.”

“…”

As the attacker held Hamazura up with a single arm, the face of the mask moved a bit.

“You’re bluffing. The same trick will not work on me twice. Mugino Shizuri’s level of performance can be seen in the fact that she lost to the likes of you.”

“I see. That’s too bad.”

Hamazura’s arms went limp.

He made one last comment as his limbs dangled down.

“I guess you’ll just get shot through while still feeling triumphant in your victory.”

A brilliant beam of light shot out.

By the time the attacker perceived it, it was already over.

Index v22 147.jpg

The attacker was sticking the right side of his body forward to grasp Hamazura’s throat with his right arm. That arm was blown off at the shoulder…or so Hamazura thought. In reality, the man’s shoulder and right chest were torn off along with it. There was a giant cavity eating all the way into just below his neck.

Hamazura fell to the ground with a thud. The torn off arm was still stuck to his neck.

“What…?”

The attacker’s gaze turned in shock toward the source of the beam of light. Two girls stood there a few hundred meters away. One girl was limp and wearing a yellow coat and the other was wearing a pink track suit. The girl in the yellow coat was leaning on the girl in the track suit’s shoulder.

Mugino Shizuri’s balance was off due to the Body Crystal, so she was not able to aim carefully. Even if she had 2 or 3 shots to spare, they would not hit.

So…

(It was Takitsubo Rikou… That #4 relied on someone else to correct her aim…?)

The attacker did not realize that he was not speaking those words out loud.

(No, it’s not just that. Even the bacterial wall bluff…was nothing more than preparation for this. If I had known Mugino Shizuri was aiming for me, I could have easily dealt with it… That’s why he made me think that any showy possibilities were nothing more than bluffs…That way, I would let my guard down and give them a chance to slowly aim at me…)

With 2 or 3 shots, all of the attackers could have been taken out as long as all of the shots would hit.

If even one shot was evaded, it was over. No, the white wings coming from the mask most likely could deflect those weakened Meltdowner attacks.

(So…)

Hamazura’s defeat of the two attackers with the assault rifle had been nothing more than good luck on top of their strategy. His role had been to keep the attackers still, buy some time, and allow Mugino to finish them off.

The wounded #4 had not been able to fight the way things had been.

That was why Hamazura had changed the situation to one where the wounded girl could fight.

The attackers had completely fallen for their trick.

“God…dammit…”

The attacker’s horribly wounded body wobbled to the side and collapsed onto the snow.

Even so, he moved the mask.

With his last strength, he tried to take Hamazura down with him.

But then he felt something hard press up against the side of his head next to the mask.

It was the barrel of an assault rifle.

“How could…this happen…?”

The attacker finally started to regret it.

The attackers’ primary objective had been to kill the two rebelling against Academy City, Hamazura Shiage and Takitsubo Rikou. However, their opponent had been a Level 0, so they had taken him lightly and had neglected to do a proper analysis of his strength.

“So this is…Hamazura Shiage…”

“No, you’ve got that wrong,” said the boy who was aiming his assault rifle down while standing on wobbly legs. “This is Item. Make sure to remember that while you burn in hell.”

Part 3

There was no real reason for it.

His right arm simply had a special power within it.

Imagine there was a nuclear missile about to be fired before your eyes and you held the control key in your hand and the firing control panel was right in front of you.

Was it unnatural to put the key in and try to stop it from firing? Wouldn’t it be more unnatural to say things like “I’m not a specialist, so I don’t understand it” or “I’m not a soldier or a police officer, so I have no obligation to risk my life” and stand there without doing anything? Wouldn’t it be more unnatural to not do it because you had no reason to do it?

Someone who would do that would not be human.

They would be nothing more than a toy that had run out of drive.

No reason was needed to fight. In fact, not doing anything in a great crisis would bring guilt. And he had the necessary things in the necessary amounts. Instead of trying to stretch his hand out toward a place he could never reach, he instead continued making slow preparations for a long period of time like creating stairs out of wooden boxes.

It was for the sake of a single success.

It was for the sake of a victory that required no reason.

He felt that boy was the same. They both possessed right arms that had special abilities even if they had different properties. That was why he continued to fight using the power of that right arm. He had no doubts over the reason behind that process. After all, he had no need to think about it. In fact, he had no reason to come to a stop.

That was why he fought in the same way.

That was how it should have been.

And yet…


A great high-pitched noise rang throughout the Star of Bethlehem.

It was the sound of Kamijou Touma’s right hand repelling the flow coming from Fiamma of the Right’s third arm.

Kamijou’s Imagine Breaker could not negate a power all at once if it was too great. He used that fact to his advantage to press against the side of Fiamma’s approaching attack pushing it like a train changing tracks, making it slip, and causing that overwhelming attack’s trajectory to veer off.

Fiamma wondered why.

His right arm altered the strength of the power it presented to match the strength of the enemy he must defeat. And Fiamma had determined his enemy was World War III. In other words, it was a great calamity that could destroy an entire planet contaminating the surrounding area of space with a large amount of debris. By bringing together the Star of Bethlehem, Misha Kreutzev, and the flesh-and-blood right arm that acted as a container for Imagine Breaker, he should have succeeded in drawing out the proper ability. Fiamma should possess the power to single-handedly claim victory over that large war that was a mix of science and magic.

It was like the power to destroy all of humanity on the face of the earth. He was trying to use that for the sake of salvation, but it would have been possible for him to bring an end to human history if he used it in a certain way.

However…

“…Why were you able to stop that?” Fiamma muttered.

He adjusted his grip on the remote control spiritual item.

The golden light in the heavens focused together and rained down straight for Kamijou Touma matching the movement of Fiamma’s third arm.

“Is it that great an ability? It is merely the power to negate the supernatural!! It is merely the power to grab and twist a power it cannot completely negate!! …I should be able to sink an entire continent into the ocean with a single wave of my right arm. I should be able to dry up all the water in the oceans with a single strike!! You were nothing more than an adapter connected to that right arm until the designated time. You were nothing more than a potato shoot that is to be returned to the earth after the potato is collected!!”

Guided by the 103,000 grimoires, the power of salvation bared its fangs.

The golden rain fell.

It fell on about half of the surface of the Star of Bethlehem. The mass of stone structures crumbled bit by bit and large cracks ran through even the floor Kamijou and Fiamma stood upon. The pressure sent ferocious winds flying in every direction and it caused such fierce destruction that even Fiamma brought his third arm up to protect his face.

However, Kamijou Touma did not go down.

His right arm was pointed straight up. He had forcibly repelled the first strike and it has exploded out like a liquid having something dropped into it. The after effects of that struck the downpour and distorted the trajectories of the beams of light.

Why?

That boy’s right arm should not have held such great ability.

A single attack from Fiamma should have destroyed all of humanity. He should have been able to deal with even Vento of the Front or Acqua of the Back with a single wave of his right arm.

“Do you still not understand?” Kamijou Touma asked from within that ruined room that had lost even its ceiling due to the bombardment from the heavens.

His voice was low and heavy.

“You said that right arm changes its ability based on the strength of your enemy. The stronger your enemy, the more strength it draws out. And to draw out the arm’s power to the maximum, you had to cause World War III to increase the people’s malice. You needed to complete your preparations to make the form of the enemy you must defeat clear.”

So what?

World War III was continuing even then. Tragedy created more tragedy and the spiraling malice would spread out to every corner of that planet. Fiamma’s holy power would increase in response to that ugly sight and he would purify the entire world once his preparations were complete.

“But that brings in another possibility,” Kamijou spun his right arm around as if to check on his shoulder.

The joint made a cracking noise as he did so.

“What if everyone’s hearts were not filled with malice to the extent you thought they were? Then you would not be able to draw out as much power as you expected.”

Fiamma’s eyebrows moved ever so slightly.

He stared past the broken wall and down at the distant surface of the earth. The golden light was shining down, but he could not see deep down at the surface. The dust and evaporated particles may have gathered together creating a screen. It was like the world was covered in a smokescreen emitted by the minds of the people killing each other in that war.

“…You’re making an incorrect assumption.”

Fiamma of the Right shook his third arm.

He tightly gripped the remote control spiritual item that supported him with a vast amount of knowledge.

Clear hatred resided in his eyes.

“This world is twisted. It can no longer be controlled. The four great elements that make up its core would have been utterly destroyed had I not corrected them. Remaining resources, opposing races, religious differences, lack of food, warring countries, destroyed borders, and everything else becomes intertwined creating a situation where each problem cannot be resolved in turn.”

“…”

“You’re saying I was not able to gather up as much malice as I assumed? Don’t make me laugh. That is nothing more than nonsense coming from someone who does not understand what malice is!! That great war is continuing even now and it is making everyone honest!! Nation, race, religion, gender, language, money, bloodline, talent, and all the other small thorns in people’s hearts are starting to be brought out into the world!! …Do you really want to believe that the depths of human hearts are that pure? What part of a human heart could be pure with the things they have done!?”

“It’s true that human hearts are not something to be viewed from the outside. Human nature may be something dripping with darkness. There may even be malice sleeping within me without my knowledge and I simply do not wish to believe it is there.”

Kamijou did not stop speaking there.

“But that is not all there is to human nature.”

“What…?”

“How can you say that there is only one aspect to what is inside people? How can you claim that there is dark malice within the depths of our hearts and that there is nothing else there?”

There was a deep darkness spreading throughout people’s hearts that nothing could be done about. Humans did not only think about making connections with others. They also possessed a nature that led them to distance themselves from others under many different pretexts such as protecting themselves, ensuring their own safety, and monopolizing things. Hurting others and rejecting others were completely natural actions to take.

However, there was also an even greater light sleeping within them at the same time. There was a virtue that people were normally too embarrassed to mention out loud. There was a justice that one did not feel the need to show off. Those things surely existed. They may not be visible, but they were definitely there.

It would be odd if they were not.

If there was truly nothing more than malice that led people to kill others, then humanity would have fought itself to destruction long ago. The fact that everyone was still living to that day and that history had continued on showed that the desire to connect with others was stronger than the desire to destroy others.

“I did not need a reason.” Kamijou Touma clenched his right fist anew. “It was not that I was strong. You merely failed on your own. Even with no reason, humans will fight for those that are important to them. Even with no special power, they will still fight because they wish to protect them. I was saved by that power.”

“With no reason?” Fiamma looked at Kamijou with an expression like he was seeing something he could not believe. “That is the conclusion that only fits for us. Imagine that a nuclear missile is about to be fired. We hold the control key and the control panel stands before us. It is true that we need no reason to put in the key and try to stop the launch. However, those who do not hold the key cannot stop the missile.”

“You don’t need the key.” Kamijou’s rebuttal came without even a second’s delay. “You can stick wires into the keyhole. You can open up the control panel and mess with the computer cables. You can even shoot at the missile itself just before it launches. Having the key or not only matters for one of many means of resolving it. There is absolutely no reason to stand by and watch the missile launch. …Anyone can fight. As long as you have something you wish to risk your life to protect even if it makes the entire world your enemy, you can fight.”

“What an idiot,” Fiamma muttered.

He realized anew that Kamijou Touma was a being with a mentality fundamentally different from his own.

“I’ll be taking Index back,” Kamijou Touma announced as he took a large step forward. “And not just that. The fighting between the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church, the conflict between science and magic, and the fighting between countries across the world in World War III will all end here.”

“Do you really think you can do that?”

As if in response to Kamijou’s step forward, Fiamma of the Right spread his third arm out wide.

That surefire arm increased in destructive force in response to human malice.

“Do you really think that you can have a complete victory without losing anything in such a large scale conflict!? Things like World War III are nothing more than the preliminary preparations. With the Star of Bethlehem in the heavens, the purification on the earth has already begun. Are you saying you can still bring about an easy victory!?”

“I can.”

One side was the hidden leader of the largest Christian denomination thoroughly reinforced by the sky temple known as the Star of Bethlehem, the world’s malice brought to the surface by World War III, the knowledge of 103,000 grimoires, the nature of God’s Right Seat, and that special severed right arm.

On the other side was a high school boy who had no special characteristics beyond a special right arm.

However, he had no reason to hesitate.

As such, Kamijou charged forward.

“Unlike you, I believe in the strength of humanity.”


At that time, a strange shadow showed itself as if piercing through the coastline of Barcelona.

It was a strange golden shape something like a giant arm and something like a giant snake. The hand stretched up into the air, halfway opened its fingers, and towered high into the sky without grabbing anything.

Everyone there fearfully watched it.

That area was relatively removed from the fires of the great war that was occurring. The area was not in a state of alert.

While a great number of civilians watched on, a change occurred in the golden arm.

The golden arm explosively expanded from the ground up to the fingertips. In an instant, the shape of the palm crumbled and was transformed like a giant balloon.

The sound of the distorted sphere reaching its limit could be heard.

And…


At that time, at the end of the 100 meter arm shooting up from the surface of the Sea of Japan, the palm lost its basic shape and turned into a distorted sphere and it clenched tightly into a fist as if attempting to crush itself.

Immediately afterwards, it burst.

At the same time, the giant 100 meter arm broke to pieces and a tremendous shockwave spread in all directions.

The calamity that appeared in the world was outputted in the form of high waves. It was as if a giant space station had struck the ocean’s surface. A wall of seawater over 30 meters high spread out evenly in a circle.

The aircraft carriers, escort ships, amphibious assault ships, battleships, cruisers, and all the other various Academy City and Russian ships made of steel that were lined up and fighting were completely swallowed up.

“What is going on…?” cried out a navigation officer from an Academy City cooperative institution as he saw the giant approaching disaster.

He was not even sure if he should take refuge within the ship or to put on a life jacket and jump into the ocean.

“This goes beyond a war! What is happening to the world!?”


At that time, a golden arm exploded in a similar fashion even on the war front in Eastern Europe.

However, that one did not cause waves.

Radiating from the center of the exploding arm were thunder clouds lowering down to the surface. The dark masses of water vapor explosively spread along the surface of the earth while an odd noise reverberated throughout the area. It was the sound of sparks. It was the sound of voltages exceeding a hundred million. Those overwhelmingly high voltage currents blew apart the people absorbed by the dark clouds and fried all electronic equipment on the weapons.

“You’re kidding…” blankly muttered a man from Academy City who was hiding behind some rocks as the dark clouds approached.

The scope of the disaster was simply too great. The thunder clouds expanded to the left and right for kilometers, so there was no way of avoiding it even if he started to run. And his body would be torn to pieces within a few seconds of being absorbed by the clouds.

Faced with that ridiculous situation, only a thin smile appeared on the man’s face and then someone grabbed his ankles. It came from underneath a destroyed Russian armored vehicle. He lost his balance and was pulled underneath.

Immediately afterwards, the dark clouds shot past him.

An ominous sound like a train’s power source shorting out continued repeatedly. Just being underneath that vehicle did not leave the man unscathed. A portion of the current travelled through the surface and then mercilessly through the man’s entire body.

However, he did not die.

The groaning Academy City man finally realized something.

“You…” the man muttered while looking at the female Russian soldier who had dragged him under the vehicle. “You know we’re enemies, right? To you, I’m the detestable invader.”

“An invader who went out of his way to stop the Kremlin Report, you mean? And this is no longer any time to be worrying about the war. The line of command is all but destroyed. There are also all sorts of unconfirmed reports of similar things occurring all over the world,” the female soldier practically spat out those words as she stared at the electrified snow that had been blown up into the air as an aftereffect of that purple electricity. “I’m fighting this war to protect my family. I’m not going to let the world end or humanity to be annihilated after everything I’ve done!!”

Suddenly, they heard the cracking sound of water rapidly freezing.

Immediately afterwards, a tremendous noise exploded out.

Some kind of giant ring had appeared on a portion of the ground they could see from underneath the vehicle. The giant ring was made of a substance similar to pure gold, it had a radius of over 100 meters, and its width was greater than that of a two-lane road. It was stabbing diagonally into the ground.

The female Russian soldier thought it looked like an angel’s halo.

However, that was not the only change.

Along the area of effect from the thunder clouds that had run across the ground, giant rings, long arcing parts with tapered ends that were similar to ribs, river-like curving bundles of cloth, and other objects were being forced into that world tearing up the ground and blowing away forests. It looked like someone had turned over a giant toy box. The flood of giant constructions spread in every direction and every object was of incredible size.

The Academy City man forced words out of his dry throat.

“…What the hell is going on?”

“How should I know?” bluntly replied the Russian soldier. “The one bit of luck is that this was just a plain. If something like this happened in an urban area, the buildings would all have been destroyed.”

“And…”

A rumbling and vibrating exploded out.

The thunder clouds had passed by, but the danger was not over.

There was no rule saying there could only be one golden arm.

As long as those giant arms continued to come up from the ground, the dangers would keep coming.

“Here comes another one. What do we do!?” asked the Academy City man.

The Russian woman moved her fingers along an anti-tank rocket launcher.

“Isn’t it obvious? We end this before it can explode!! Help me, Academy City. We need your firepower!!”

“Dammit. And I’m already busy stopping the Kremlin Report!!”

“The objective is the same. Whether it’s occult or a bacterial wall, we need to destroy every single thing that is going to cause unnecessary deaths!!”


At that time, a golden arm about to explode was sliced off at about halfway and sank into the Strait of Dover.

The civilians, the soldiers, and everyone else were dumbfounded.

Amid them all, the girl who had brought that golden arm to its demise spun her single staff around.

She was a girl of about 12.

“Hey, Mark!! You’ve been slacking off on maintaining my symbolic weapon, haven’t you? Thanks to that, I’m only getting 80% output!!”

“Boss, the production and consecration of a symbolic weapon is supposed to be done by the weapon’s user, are they not?”

“Tch. But what is going on? I never thought I would end up having to help out to save the world.”

“Given the situation, it seems Fiamma of the Right’s plan is to purify the surface of the earth. He seems to be disseminating pure Telesma to cause a change in the foundation in order to save the world. He must be thinking that changing the foundation will change all of the structures on top of it,” Mark explained. “However, the mere amount is an issue. Spreading that much Telesma around will cause quite a bit of destruction. And on top of that, unlike the magic power refined within people’s bodies, Telesma has an elemental color from the beginning. This causes phenomena of or derived of the element to occur.”

“So it’s like the flood of Noah’s Ark. The passing cleanliness is no different from a disaster to us ugly humans.”

The blonde girl who had been referred to as “boss” put on an evil smile that was unbefitting of her age.

And yet there was enough intensity in it that it made one think that there was no expression that better fit her lovely face.

“And we ugly humans are labeled as ugly because we do not know when to give up.”

A distant explosion pounded on the girl’s ears.

It was coming from the horizon. Not even that girl could eliminate all of the golden arms. The ocean where no people or ships were had low priority, so explosions like that continued intermittently.

Along the affected area of the disaster, objects like giant angel halos and bones appeared one after another.

“…I see. He’s made sure to see this through. He has prepared the resources to be used in the revival after everything has been washed away. That’s a huge pile of materials more valuable and convenient than gold, platinum, or tungsten.”

“Well, it is possible to create objects such as clothing and weapons from Telesma, from an angel’s body…but as someone who uses human magic, the scale leaves me utterly shocked.”

“But it is meaningless,” said the blonde girl quietly. “It may be true that having enough resources to satisfy every single person on the planet would resolve most conflict. Each individual will resolve things still as an individual. However, that is not enough. If people are given resources, they will use those resources to expand the range of what they control. People have already built rockets and taken control of the moon’s surface, so we will not stop there. We will use the deuterium on the moon and aim for Mars. That is why increasing or decreasing the amount of resources will not stop conflict. It will only change the scope of the conflict.”

“Also, a material equal to the weapons and shields of the angels cannot be dealt with using human techniques. They cannot be scratched even when using lasers or diamonds and I doubt human magic can do anything to an angel’s body. This is not what I would call resources. It is nothing but a pile of giant trash.”

“Well, our ultimate objective is to seize control of the entire world be it the magic side or the science side. Ruling a world that has been wiped clean and is filled with useless toy blocks sounds boring. Let’s go get busy with some philanthropic work.”

Numerous golden arms burst up from the ground and the ocean.

The girl paid them no heed.

She rested the staff she had been spinning around on her shoulder and unhesitatingly stepped forward.

She used a megaphone a man in formal dress handed her and spoke to the entire battlefield.

“Whether you’re British, French, from Academy City, or Russian, listen up!! All soldiers that can do so need to support us with your infrared aiming information transmitters! When you receive target coordinate information, provide backup fire with everything you have!! Now, the time has come for a bombardment of the people, by the people, and for the people!! Let’s make this flashy, baby!!”

Some British soldiers who were too shocked to stand opened their mouths to speak despite not being able to control what they were saying.

“Wh-wha-what…? Who…are you people…?”

The girl did not turn around in response.

With her back to them and with many men in formal clothing surrounding her, the girl spoke.

She brought the megaphone to her mouth and spoke as if singing.

“We are a magic cabal. We are the Dawn-Colored Sunlight.”


At that time, Acqua of the Back stood upon a white snowy plain. He was watching an oddly-shaped shadow break through the snow on the ground and show itself.

It no longer had anything to do with Academy City, the Russian army, science, or magic.

Everyone was working together to charge at the golden arm.

They wielded their weapons to destroy the source of the calamity before it could cause another large scale explosion.

They were fighting to ensure the damage did not spread further.

They were fighting to protect those important to them.

(…You are a fool, Fiamma.)

Acqua smiled faintly.

That man’s expression almost never changed, but at that time he did smile if just a bit.

(It is not you or me who will save this world. No matter what you destroy and no matter what you bless, you cannot win over the people. For the people who live in the world, protecting that world is the obvious choice.)

In that case, the time had come for him to wield his power as one of those people.

Acqua was no longer a Saint. Nor was he a member of God’s Right Seat. He did not have the physical strength to swing up his own greatest weapon of Ascalon and the amount of magic power he could refine was only on the level of an average magician.

But what did that matter?

Acqua was not fighting because he was a Saint or because he was a member of God’s Right Seat. He did not feel that he had lived a praiseworthy life, but unfortunately, he had a lingering attachment to that world at least to the extent of being able to think of someone he wished to protect.


At that time...

“Oh, there he is. I finally found him,” quietly said an old man as he removed binoculars from his eyes.

A youth next to the old man spoke to him in exasperation.

“Is this really okay? You’ve returned to Russia of all places. There’s a rumor that the old name of the Astrological Surgery Brigade is still recorded on the black list here.”

“Shut up. There’s nothing wrong with me using all the spiritual items I have stockpiled for my own use. And when you heard that William Orwell was headed to Russia, you headed after him without reporting it.”

“Well, I’ll admit that I lost my cool. I still owe him from the time with the Orleans Knights. Not returning that favor would leave a bad taste in my mouth.”

The youth held a French sword called a colichemarde that had been derived from a sports tool. Next to him stood a woman who possessed the qualities of a spell called the Oracle of d’Arc.

Those three were not alone.

Many people were gathered there. Many people had been saved along the path that mercenary walked.

“So how’s the mercenary doing?”

“He’s doing mercenary work like usual. But something’s odd. I didn’t take him as someone who would toy with something like this.”

“Are you worried?”

“Of course not.”

The old man sighed and then lightly swung the Japanese sword resting on his shoulder.

It was Raikiri.[1]

That modern mass produced spiritual item was based on anecdotes of strikes from heaven being intercepted.

As if in response to that, hundreds of figures behind the old man held their own individual weapons at the ready.

“Someone that lovely deserves our assistance.”

“But,” said a young man, “I don’t think this kind of makeshift solution will be able bring an end to these disasters occurring one after another on a global scale.”

“I know. That’s what the former Astrological Surgery Brigade is for. People who freely move across the world have a network allowing them to do so. The lines set up by those obstinate people who thoughtlessly take root and protect a single place can be freely brought together.”

“?”

“Well, a senile old man like me can at least tie together the thin, thin threads. The truly tricky part will be done by more suitable people. …At the very root, they are not idiots.” After saying that, the old man lightly swung Raikiri. “What free spirits like us must do is simple. Do you know what that is, young man?”

“It is not to think about anything too difficult,” the young man smiled and swung his colichemarde in a similar manner, “and take up our swords if there is someone we must protect, right?”

“Let’s go.”

Those two words were enough.

They become a unified strength and charged into the battlefield.


At that time, Vasilisa, the head of Annihilatus, strongly kicked a female magician who had once been her subordinate causing the woman to fly into a set of double doors like a shell destroying the locked door.

Vasilisa was within a palace in Moscow.

The tremendous noise that destruction made caused the shoulders of the person confined within the room to tremble. He was a boy of about 15. He was so slender that he had a linear beauty greater than even a true woman like Vasilisa. He was so slender that it looked like he would end up in eternal sleep after three days of being out on his own. The majestic outfit of the Patriarch made him look like a small child who had put on his father’s suit.

Vasilisa spat the blood that had gathered in her mouth onto the floor and smiled.

“Hello, our great leader. It seems you were treated quite carefully to have been thrown into such a luxurious birdcage. The positions of the fairy tale boy and heroine have been completely reversed, but I’ve come to rescue you from the evil king’s castle.”

“…I did not think that anyone remained who would call me Patriarch. I had no power. No matter how much I yelled, no one would lay down their weapons. Everyone used the signature I was tricked into providing as an indulgence and refused to listen to my words attempting to repeal that decision.”

“You’re cute, so I’ll forgive you,” interrupted Vasilisa in a completely joking manner. “And there is still something for you to do. It is something only the Patriarch can do.”

“?”

Vasilisa was devoted to only Sasha Kreutzev, but her heart almost wavered at how lovely that confused look on the Patriarch’s small face was. The criteria on which she chose where her allegiances lay were quite simple. She put her hand up to her face to make sure she did not have a nosebleed.

(...C’mon, stop that. I’ve already lost a lot of blood, so I just don’t have enough left right now.)

“Do you see that?”

Vasilisa suppressed her writhing heart and pointed toward the window.

Even from that distance, the fortress floating in the golden heavens was visible. That was just how vast its scale and altitude were. It was the fortress of God’s Right Seat’s Fiamma of the Right. It had been named the Star of Bethlehem from the remaining fragmentary records.

“That fortress was created by gathering the necessary parts from Christian churches and cathedrals across the world. However, each construction has its own ceremony. Just gathering them all in one place would not be enough to neatly fuse them all together.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“There is a spell for connecting them,” Vasilisa said while waving her finger a bit. “Fiamma used both the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. In other words, he used spells from both churches to their fullest in his plan to construct that fortress.”

“In other words…”

“If we analyze it, we can break its joints. Most likely, the Russian Orthodox spells were supplied to him by Nikolai Tolstoy, but no documents to that end were found in his palace. However, we do not need to give up there. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Of course, the spells used would be ones that were top secret even in the Russian Orthodox Church. Vasilisa did not think that Fiamma would use an easily analyzed spell as the key for his fortress.

However…

“Oh, I see,” said the Patriarch moving his thin lips and lightly rubbing his chin. “The Phenomena Control and Reduction Reproduction Facility is nearby. In order to find the conditions needed for the occurrence of ghostly and spiritual phenomena, a 1/1 scale diorama facility is created where all sorts of experiments are performed…”

“If we remove the limiter, it can be applied to the Russian Orthodox magic used by humans. And if we succeed in the simulation, we can calculate out what spells Fiamma used.”

“So you’re telling me to remove that limiter.”

“I wonder if you can do it. Even with the ‘old cannibal woman of the one-legged house’ with you, your safety is not guaranteed.”

Vasilisa tried to rub the Patriarch’s head, but he moved his head to the side to avoid her hand and headed for the exit to the room. Unaware that his actions had excited her even more, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church asked her a question.

“But the Star of Bethlehem’s joints use Roman Catholic magic as well as Russian Orthodox magic. We may only be able to weaken it.”

“…Don’t worry about that. Despite being a quite stubborn, a certain oddly well connected and strange old man has helped us tie together those thin, thin threads.”

“?”

Bringing the wrinkled old woman phantom with her, Vasilisa headed along after the Patriarch.

“What I’m saying is that group is not as rotten as everyone thinks they are.”


At that time, an old man named Matthai Reese who had abandoned his position as the Roman Catholic Pope headed down underground below a half-destroyed Vatican cathedral. His objective was to analyze the spells Fiamma had used in his plan. Such a large scale plan could not be done solely with the spells for those in God’s Right Seat. The central spells may have been from there, but it was highly possible that existing Roman Catholic magic had been used to fill in the gaps.

“Hi there, you dandy gentleman. How are things going there?” said someone via a magical communication.

“Hmph. Am I really the person you want to speak with? I am no longer the pope.”

“I am speaking with the person who I believe to be the leader of the Roman Catholic Church both in name and in reality. And I do not think Pietro Yogdis would work well together with our cute Patriarch.”

“I’ll take that to mean you succeeded in getting an audience with the Patriarch. And I have finished selecting the main books I need. I am just about ready to construct a circle for a super long distance spell that will interfere with the Star of Bethlehem in the Russian sky.”

“Oh, how convenient. It seems the Vatican does indeed have plenty of trump cards lying in wait. I could do anything I wanted if my position was given that much of a budget.”

“How much credibility is there in the theory that the changes on the earth will cease once power is taken from the Star of Bethlehem? I am still receiving reports from all over the place of golden arms producing disasters.”

“Hmm? It should be fine. The changes on the earth are occurring in response to the changes in the heavens. If we stop the changes in the heavens, the changes on the earth should stop, too.”

“I hope you’re right. If everyone ends up being sacrificed despite having stopped Fiamma, it will all have been for naught.”

“By the way, is the Roman Catholic Church really okay with this?”

“What do you mean?”

“Fiamma of the Right is in conflict with our interests. However, it is true that he is still bringing great benefit to the Roman Catholic Church. If you destroy that foundation, there is no guarantee that the Roman Catholic Church will be able to prosper as it has in the past.”

“I do not mind. …There is no point in possessing a power that cannot protect everyone. If it will save the people, I will stop Fiamma even if it strips the Roman Catholic Church of power.”

“He’s sinfully cute.”

“…What are you talking about?”

“Our leader. I wonder if you had a time when you looked like that.”

“I had a disposition that made me beloved by many, but I was never referred to in that way. I was chosen to be the pope after all, so I probably give off an image of a solemn father.”

“Oh, it looks like our cute fatherly image has taken offense at that. But he’s so cute!! I just want to hug him!!”

“…Actually, isn’t it the fairy tale heroines that are most often referred to in that way?” Matthai Reese said half out of exasperation as he looked over the massive amount of data that was sleeping underground.

He was in a library filled with large bookshelves. The small girl known as Index Librorum Prohibitorum had once been invited there.

If he knew what spells Fiamma had used, they may be able to fight back.

They may be able to stop that huge war.

However, that also meant…

“We are helping bring about our own defeat, aren’t we?” said a young priest following Matthai Reese.

“It is not a defeat,” Matthai Reese corrected with a strength that stopped even others from doubting. “Even in this, we are fighting for victory.”

“That victory will gain us nothing.”

“If you truly think that, you would not be helping me.”

The young priest fell silent for a bit.

Only the sound of flipping pages could be heard.

“…Can we redo it all once more?”

“We can,” was Matthai Reese’s short response.

There was a small smile on the old man’s face.

“We definitely can.”

Suddenly, Matthai Reese started to frown. Immediately afterwards, a stabbing headache spread from his temples to the inside of his skull. He was in a vault of knowledge pure enough that Index Librorum Prohibitorum was invited into it. Even for the former pope, viewing that knowledge for a long period of time brought a deep negative effect on his body and mind.

“We can still do it,” Matthai Reese said while holding a hand out to drive back the young priest who was attempting to see if he was okay. “We can still fight. In order to open up the path to a hope-filled tomorrow, we cannot stop here.”

However, it was true that he was worried.

The secret ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church and the wisdom of the Russian Orthodox Church.

If they used the techniques used in the Star of Bethlehem against it, they would be able to severely damage it.

However, it was not clear if they could actually bring it down.

After all…

(Those are not the only techniques being used…)

He had received word that Fiamma of the Right had stolen the remote control spiritual item for Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

That meant that the Star of Bethlehem might not only be using Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox techniques.

The final key was…

“The Anglican Archbishop, hm?”

“Hey, hey. Do you want to play a game of rock-paper-scissors to see who has to speak with that trickster of a woman?”


At that time, Sasha Kreutzev pulled many different tools from the belt at her waist while standing within the Star of Bethlehem that floated above Russia. She scraped an L-shaped crowbar along the floor to draw a gigantic magic circle.

Lessar was hurriedly preparing the escape containers.

There were many metal container-like objects with large parachutes on them hanging down from the bottom of the fortress. Lessar was preparing them for use.

In addition to those two girls, over 200 Russian Orthodox magicians that had been cast aside by Fiamma were there. They had to be allowed to escape to the surface before Fiamma disposed of them.

And even if Fiamma was defeated, they still needed a means of escape.

They were over 10,000 meters up in the air after all.

“Wait! I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but the ‘last bus’ is about to leave!!”

“My first response: I am not here because I wish to be. A supplementary explanation: I truly wish to get away from here as quickly as I can.” Sasha’s hands manipulating her tools did not stop as she spoke. “My personal opinion: However, I also am resistant to fleeing without doing anything. The only one actually opposing Fiamma right now is that boy. As a professional magician, I must at least support him even if it is useless resistance.”

“How!?”

Index v22 183.jpg

“My second response: Fiamma used my body to call in Gabriel and to change a section of the sky into the environment he wished for. …As such, I may have become a major factor that can drive a wedge into Fiamma’s plan.”

She did not know how much of an effect she could produce.

At the very least, it was impossible for Sasha Kreutzev’s actions alone to bring Fiamma’s huge plan to a standstill.

However, she still had to do it.

Sasha’s gaze did not waver as it lay hidden behind her bangs.

Lessar scratched at her hair.

“Ahh, dammit!! Then I’ll help you finish this as quickly as possible!!”

“?”

“I too was thinking about sticking around to the very last possible second. That boy seems like he will be beneficial to England, so I’ll help you out just to kill some time.”

“My third response: You do not need to go that far…”

“Either way, our escape plan has been temporarily stopped since you have decided to do this.”

Lessar used her thumb to point behind herself.

The Russian Orthodox magicians were getting out of their escape containers and approaching.

They were approaching to help spread the complex magic circle Sasha was trying to draw.

Sasha was shocked, but Lessar grinned in her direction and spoke.

“Now this flow will not change until we get some kind of result, so let’s fight back against Fiamma’s plan.”


At that time, a group of girls dressed in mainly black nun's habits were travelling across a snowy plain of Russia at high speed.

Their clothes looked like those of the Roman Catholic Church, but they were currently not affiliated with that church.

They were the former Agnese Forces.

Those 200 nuns were headed for a place where both Academy City and Russian soldiers were collapsed.

Fighting did not necessarily mean to kill one’s enemies.

They had their own way of fighting.

“Sister Agnese, we have spotted people needing to be rescued. It is impossible to get them all out of the effective range of the explosions. As planned, shelters need to be built at points calculated from the distribution map of those needing to be rescued!!”

“Listen up, Sister Angelene. The shelters use the theory of the swaddling clothes and manger of the Son of God! Order each of the nuns skilled in the use of Divine Mother-style Ex Voto to set up shelters!!”

“The large rescue helicopters are on standby 3000 meters back! Have them transport the heavily wounded out before the next explosion!!”

“Get the lightly wounded to one of the shelters! We do not have time to transport them all out!!”

It all happened in no time at all.

What they were referring to as shelters were nothing more than tent-like objects made of a wooden framework and a large white cloth. However, they were still not objects that could be constructed in a dozen or so seconds. To those watching on who had no idea what was going on, it may have looked like the shelters were spring-loaded toys that automatically expanded.

Collapsed soldiers who were unable to move were taken one after another to the shelters created in the middle of the battlefield.

Surprisingly, both the Academy City and Russian soldiers were treated in this way.

They were all humans who held the same feelings toward that one situation.

If they had all realized that earlier, such a showy war may not have occurred in the first place.

“…Who are you?”

Those words were squeezed out by a man who had been controlling an Academy City powered suit.

He asked his questions even as he had bandages wrapped around his body.

“Whose side are you on…?”

“We did not come all this way to discuss that,” responded a girl in a black nun’s habit. “If I must respond, I will say that our only goal is to reduce the number of injuries in this war as much as possible.”

“…”

The nun was using medicines made of plants rather than the usual antibiotics and the soldier was at a loss for words. As if to fill that silence, a communication reached the shelter of wood and cloth.

The soldier could not see any kind of equipment.

A male voice came from what looked like a card that was stuck to one of the shelter’s pillars.

“Really now. I knew Fiamma loved to keep things clean, but I never thought he would try to clean things on such a large scale.”

“So this really is part of Fiamma’s purification plan?”

“It would be best to assume it is. He’s destroying the status quo and producing the materials needed to recreate it all. …However, new materials that no human can destroy and therefore cannot be manufactured by anyone are nothing more than giant pieces of garbage.”

A sharp yet heavy vibration shook the snowy plain.

Immediately afterwards, a golden arm protruded up from the ground nearby.

The Academy City man lying in a bed grimaced in pain and sat up. A Russian soldier in the bed next to him did the same.

“Dammit, hand me my gun,” the man said with a groan as he stretched one hand out toward a nun. “I can’t let this end without fighting back. I don’t know who’s doing this, but you’re clearly good people since you’ve helped us out. I’ll give you enough of an opening to escape.”

However, there was no need for the Academy City or Russian soldiers to make a suicide attack on the arm.

They were not even given the time to do so.

Almost an instant later, a single long sword severed the golden arm at its base.

A majestic form could be seen through a gap in the cloth forming the simple tent-like shelter.

The Asian girl wielding a katana over 2 meters long was strange, but it was even stranger that she had been able to slice apart that golden arm in a single strike.

The golden arm was over 100 meters long and thick enough to match. Even if that 2 meter sword had a tremendously sharp blade, it should not have been able to sever that golden arm simply due to its thickness.

And yet…

“Basically, it’s the same concept as opening a slit in a plastic bag,” said a female voice from the card-shaped communication device on the pillar. “You create a small wound on the target and then let the weight of the target force the slit wider. It is a required skill in the many legends of dragons and other beasts being sliced through with a sword that is clearly smaller than the beast.”

The Academy City man was in shock and his body was covered in light from an old form of illumination called a torch that a nun wearing black was holding. A circle of light as if from a flashlight crept across his body. He thought she was checking for injuries, but something was odd. Even after the circle of light passed over parts of his body, his body’s surface glowed palely.

It was as if his body was being supported from without.

“Whether you plan to live on or block the way before a powerful enemy, you must first be able to move your body.”

As he received medical treatment, the Academy City man recalled the situation outside of the shelter.

He tried to remember as accurately as possible where the still functioning tanks and powered suits were.

Before long, the man had completed his preparations to head out to attack.

This time, his enemy was not the Russian army.


At that time, two swords severed giant gold arms growing from the surface.

One was a sword of light extending from a shard of the British blade Curtana Second.

The other was the French blade Durendal.

Using those blades were the representatives of each country, Second Princess Carissa and the Femme Fatale. Their wounds from the Archangel Misha Kreutzev had not been healed, but there was no sign of weakness in their actions.

“First an angel and now the symbol of the right arm. That bastard is obsessed with Telesma, isn’t he?” said Carissa in a disinterested manner as she swung her sword of light. “Move the Mobile Fortress Glastonbury from Deployment B to Deployment C. Check how it’s doing. A malfunction here would be a real pain in the ass.”

“…If you removed the altitude limitation on Glastonbury, you could probably reach Fiamma’s temple a lot faster.”

The Femme Fatale looked up into the sky. 10,000 meters up above her was the fortress known as the Star of Bethlehem.

“If it was that easy, we wouldn’t be going to all this trouble. Glastonbury was developed to conquer areas along the surface. It is not meant to be used in high altitude battles in the sky.”

Carissa turned back toward Glastonbury.

“The Star of Bethlehem, hm? I’m surprised the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church were willing to disclose that information.”

“They were both used. All this means is that neither of them are so beyond saving that they would just stand by and allow a plan like this to happen.”

The Femme Fatale lightly swung her sword around by moving only her wrist and began to think.

(Come to think of it, my little sister’s country is in this area, isn’t it?)

She then arbitrarily punctuated her thoughts with a “hm”.

(If I get her to owe me a favor, it could lead to France’s benefit.)

(Hey, sister. I would rather one of the representatives of Western Europe did not plot to take things from a smaller country. It’s childish.)

(Oh, Eliza. It’s polite to knock before entering.)

(You are within range of my bombardment spell.)

(If you were truly that skilled, I do not think the French government would have recognized your secession.)

(That area was originally intended to be a battlefield on which to fight Fiamma, so my soldiers have set up all sorts of dangerous things. In the end, Fiamma invaded and stole Sasha Kreutzev before we were able to use it, but my bombardment spell can still reach that point.)

(Are you hoping to get me to owe you a favor?)

(Don’t you think it is more natural for a small country to take things from a representative of Western Europe?)

Sparks flew between those sisters.

And then Carissa seemed to receive a transmission. However, it was not from a magical means of communication. In response to an electronic tone, the second princess pulled a radio out from her cleavage.

The Femme Fatale looked at Carissa like she was looking at indecent lingerie.

“…I’ve asked you this many, many, many times before, but is it really necessary to store that there?”

“Shut up. What are you, my mother? …Unfortunately, this dress has nothing remotely like pockets. I hope you have enough sense to tell whether it is better to do this or clip it to my panties.”

Carissa spoke into the radio and seemed to be talking with someone in London.

“I see, I see. So that’s it. In other words, the techniques and knowledge of the Anglican Church are needed in addition to those of the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in order to bring down the Star of Bethlehem.”

The second princess gave multiple quick nods.

“In that case, tell this to the head of the Anglican Church: If you do not immediately disclose the necessary information, Second Princess Carissa of the Royal Family and of military matters will shove Curtana up your ass.”

Having said what she needed to say, Carissa cut off the transmission.

“It seems the preparations to bring it down are underway. However, just waiting for that to happen will only let the damage increase.”

“So you are saying there is only one thing we must do?”

The two women once more held their legendary-class swords at the ready.

A number of golden arms appeared from the ground as if surrounding them.

Standing back to back, they spoke.

“There is a way to obstruct Fiamma’s plan without directly attacking the Star of Bethlehem.”

“…And that is to destroy every single golden arm that appears on the surface, right?”

Multiple cutting strikes flew and the surrounding arms were destroyed in an instant.

The knights, Necessarius, and the French magicians followed suit.

Their invasion began.


At that time, a thin Western sword made of something like particles of light mercilessly pierced through Stiyl Magnus’s shoulder and into his chest as he stood within St. George’s Cathedral in England. The sword was the sword of the harvest god Freyr. It was a spiritual item that moved automatically and surely stabbed into its opponent’s vitals. It cut through Stiyl’s collarbone and ripped through thick arteries and organs.

The expression on the girl named Index’s face remained frozen.

Stiyl’s movements stopped.

And in that time, multiple attacks continued on.

Another two swords stabbed into Stiyl’s back and waist and blood red wings swung down as if to finish him off. The attacks were simply overwhelming. The repeated attacks crushed human flesh while also causing fatal damage to the life force that was the source of magic power.

However, Index’s expressionless face tilted ever so slightly to the side in confusion.

The multiple blades and wings had definitely slid into Stiyl’s body. However, there was no other change. It had been too smooth. No blood was shed and no flesh was crushed. The human body was not cut apart as easily as a spoon dipping into yogurt.

Her conclusion came too late.

By the time she realized it was a magical trick, the next move had already been taken.

“It is a mirage. It’s a common method,” said a voice behind her.

She then noticed something odd in the area of her spine.

Immediately afterwards, an explosive noise as if from a strike of lightning exploded out. Stiyl had activated the restraining rune card he had put on her.

Index’s backbone creaked as it bent like a bow.

“Warning: Chapter 47, Verse 80. Restraining effect on mind and body due to a psychological effect has been confirmed. It is affecting mental functions. Leading the restraining effect to a dummy area and putting priority on maintaining ability to analyze spells.”

The rune on the laminated card started to fade like a poster that had been left in the sun for long periods of time. The important “staining” of the rune was being removed. Of course, once that coloration disappeared, its effects would disappear too. It would not last long.

(…She may have been weakened by the interruption from the remote control spiritual item, but she is still the library of 103,000 grimoires. I did not think that this would be enough to seal her.)

What he had managed to do was buy some time.

At a fundamental level, Stiyl Magnus could not defeat Index.

However…

“I do not mind.” With a small smile on his face, Stiyl pulled a new rune card from his pocket. “If that annoying boy can finish things in this time, we win.”

He then heard a footstep.

Stiyl looked over to find Laura Stuart smiling.

She was lightly swinging around something in her hand.

At first Stiyl thought it was the remote control spiritual item and his eyes opened wide in shock, but that was not what it was.

Laura was holding a card-shaped communications spiritual item.

“Here’s your reward,” she said.

She brought that communications spiritual item that was connected to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church close to her lips.

“Well, it seems the quota has been met, so I will aid in the retrieval of the grimoire library as well.”


And so the three major Christian denominations, the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church, finally joined forces.

They had a single objective.

Fiamma of the Right’s castle known as the Star of Bethlehem would be robbed of its power in order to stop any more atrocities from occurring.

They began to move in order to tear off the chains that were binding the world.


Kamijou Touma and Fiamma of the Right wielded their respective arms.

Multiple shockwaves shook the area, and the magical aftereffects turned into a flood of light that scattered about. Besides the direct clashes, light flashed intermittently around them and blood red beams of light were fired in multiple directions. It was an attack using the 103,000 grimoires.

However, their clashes were not equal.

Bit by bit with each collision, power left Fiamma’s third arm as if a sharp beak were pecking at soft flesh. Fiamma’s arm had gained special flesh via various ceremonies, but it was clearly becoming battered and crushed.

Kamijou’s power was not anything special.

The source of the power supporting Fiamma of the Right was breaking.

Fiamma wondered why.

His third arm was supposed to produce tremendous power, but its output was falling bit by bit. Cracks were running through the Star of Bethlehem that he had constructed from the important parts of churches and cathedrals from all across the world. It was also losing its natural glow. The earth was supposed to change in the same way as the golden heavens, but even after so much time, it had not been conquered. In fact, something like small bits of contamination were appearing here and there in the golden heavens. Something was wrong. It was the same as how a single gear ceasing to move could obstruct the movement of all sorts of mechanisms.

Nothing was going as he wanted.

At that rate, he would no longer be able to catch up.

Fiamma was trying to release more power than was being supplied to him which effectively weakened him.

“Ooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!”

Fiamma yelled and swung his third arm even stronger and faster.

However, he himself realized there was a contradiction in that action. His arm was supposed to be almighty. If he swung it, it would hit, so he had no need for speed. If he hit, the target would be destroyed, so he had no need for destructive power. And yet Fiamma was now relying on simple arm strength. That was proof that the essence that should reside within his arm had been shaken.

There was a low vibration.

The entirety of the Star of Bethlehem shook. However, it had not been caused by the battle between Kamijou and Fiamma. The vibration had been completely independent of them. The fortress itself was headed for destruction.

The speakers within the fortress activated on their own.

Fiamma did not know it, but the voice that came through belonged to a girl named Lessar.

“The Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox churches have begun to release the joint spells on the Star of Bethlehem! Um…Sasha Kreutzev of the Russian Orthodox Church and I have embedded a relay point for the releasing spell and are now getting aboard the escape containers. There are no more containers! You need to hurry!!”

Once more, an irregularity Fiamma of the Right had not even considered was damaging his plan.

That irregularity was known as virtue.

“It’s over, Fiamma,” Kamijou said quietly as he brought his right fist up at the ready. “Your right arm that is at the center of your plan is losing power and your ceremonial grounds you call the Star of Bethlehem is no longer usable. And most importantly, if you truly wanted to save the world, you would be rejoicing at the fact that the virtue within people’s hearts is winning out over the malice. …The fact that you cannot do that shows that your illusion has already failed.”

“True,” Fiamma said with a slight laugh. “I am at the disadvantage here. Now that the power at my base is weakening, my plan cannot be continued. The purification on the earth is grinding to a halt. …Even if I swung my right arm now while it is rapidly losing power, it is unlikely I could take those on the earth down with me. If everything stays the way it is, it will all fall apart in this indefinite state.”

“…”

“Yes, if everything stays the way it is.”

Fiamma’s words were ominous.

Immediately afterwards, the golden heavens above their heads wavered. Shading appeared in the glowing heavens. All at once, a mass of light headed for the Star of Bethlehem. Masses of energy appeared one after another in rapid succession and focused on the inside of the Star of Bethlehem.

Kamijou’s expression changed and Fiamma lightly swung around the remote control spiritual item.

“Just so you know, I did not use this. This is the result you all brought upon yourselves.”

“What…?”

“I did not obtain anyone else’s help. Time was simply on my side,” Fiamma said.

He had not opened the gate of heaven. He was simply such a holy existence that the world around him changed to become like heaven.

The change had continued with time and it had now passed a certain line.

“It was originally supposed to change bit by bit in stages, but this ‘virtue’ continually prevented that from happening. As a result, an unnatural distortion was created between the heavens and the earth similar to power being stored up within a bent continental plate.”

Even then, a massive amount of power was flowing into the Star of Bethlehem. If that exceeded the limit of what the fortress could hold, it would no longer be able to hold back the amount left over.

“As a result, the heavens are filled with Telesma while the earth is not. That massive power will now rain down like the flowing of an electric current. …Simply put, the earth will be filled with light. It is via a different route than I had intended, but the result will be the same. The change is still continuing in this world.”

“Do you understand what is going to happen?” Kamijou said while grinding his teeth. “That’s a huge mass of the same energy that makes up an angel’s body. If that falls down to the earth, a ridiculously huge explosion will spread across the surface before any kind of change can take place!! It was the same with Misha during Angel Fall. If power that massive is allowed to rage without being controlled, it could easily destroy all of human civilization!!”

“Yes, it is unfortunate, but only for you. Given the amount of power, at least the entire continent of Eurasia will be enveloped by the light.”

Fiamma’s gaze still held power.

That was the first time Kamijou had seen the concept of refusing to give up show itself in such an evil way.

“Even if a bit of virtue showed itself amid this war, overwhelming destruction will blot it out from above. Wielding virtue is no use. You cannot stop tragedy that way and the despair that comes over you upon realizing that turns your malice into something much deeper and heavier than it was before.”

And the mass of highly concentrated malice that was created by giving up gave a large stimulus to the power within Fiamma. It was much greater than before. It was much stronger than what Fiamma had simulated it would be. He stood at the top of every living thing on that planet and he could wield that power to change the world in any way he saw fit.

“Overly powerful divine punishment can easily destroy the unions between people. It is the same as the bonds between people being broken with the destruction of the Tower of Babel. And in response to the malice created in that, I can once more draw on a tremendous power.”

“…Fiamma…”

“It is too late to save the world in your way,” Fiamma said with a smile on his face as he saw Kamijou clenching his fist tighter than ever before.

That smile was an expression of calm created by his newly guaranteed supply of tremendous power.

“Now, victory is mine.”

Between the lines 8

After sticking some cloth into the slight depression that was like a small window on the side of the Nu-AD1967 warhead, Mikoto finally sighed.

“…Pant pant. Now the warhead has finally been neutralized. If they end up having an ultrasonic remote control, we could be in trouble though.”

“From the confusion over the transmissions, it seems they do not have another plan, reports Misaka. They seem to be panicking over the fact that nothing is happening, says Mikoto adding on some emotional information.”

“Do you think they’ll come up with another plan?”

“With the active unit gone, it seems they will switch over to fleeing, predicts Misaka. They do not have the remaining strength needed to carry a warhead of this size, so they will likely abandon the nuclear weapon, says Misaka as she listens to the communications.”

“But just leaving them be could come back to bite us in the ass.”

“A different faction of the Russian military seems to have come to that same conclusion. Special forces have surrounded those officers, says Misaka as she intercepts different communications. They will be stopping them with a special suppression strategy once they leave the building, reports Misaka.”

“The special forces must not be heading into the building themselves because they don’t want the officers to feel cornered enough to detonate the nuclear bomb. That isn’t something that can be promptly detonated in a vehicle or something.”

Mikoto pushed away the cloth and then pressed against the end of the shovel the Sister threw to her. It had been mounted on the body of a tank. Mikoto manipulated magnetism to smash the reinforced glass over the optical receiver.

“Then we just have to destroy the warhead’s connectors.”

After destroying the three points that connected to the computer, Mikoto turned back toward the Sister.

“Okay, all done. Now this warhead can’t be used. Of course, that would change if someone put it in a different outer shell.”

“The warhead alone weighs 2 tons, so it cannot be moved without a crane, predicts Misaka.”

“Just in case, we should tell either the Russian authorities or Academy City about this spot.”

For the moment, the problems surrounding the nuclear weapon had been resolved.

That was when things truly began.

Misaka Mikoto had not come to Russia to do something like that. She had come to meet up with that spiky-haired boy and punch him.

She spun around looking at her surroundings.

“You have the means of using all sorts of weapons installed in you, right?”

“If necessary, Misaka can also use the Misaka Network to acquire additional information, says Misaka as she discusses with the other Misakas how she should negotiate her part-time job wages.”

“You can’t get paid until you’re in high school, so you’re working for free.”

“…Aren’t you getting your priorities backwards?”

Mikoto pointed in a certain direction ignoring the Sister’s mumbled words.

“I don’t know if they were going to use it as a weapon or as a means of transportation, but there is a VTOL craft over there. Can’t we use that to fly up to that fortress in the heavens?”

Notes

  1. Raikiri means Lightning Cutter



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