Apocalypse Witch:Volume2 Epilogue
And thus their icy survival field trip came to an end.
But there were a few problems needing solving before they returned.
Once the pressing danger was gone, people apparently became irresponsibly kind. The other Crystal Beach domes opened their gates despite having locked out the Grimnoah students and teachers before.
The middle and high school kids were none too pleased with those people after being locked out and forced to battle the decoy Threats in the frigid outdoors, but they could not resist the pleasure of a space kept at a comfortable temperature and humidity as well as plenty of food to go around. Perhaps the return to normalcy had returned them to being humans instead of weapons.
Two of them were currently inside a rented-out conference room in a large hotel built in that artificial summer.
However, it was rarely if ever used for meetings. It would be more well-known for hosting press conferences.
“What is it?”
The 12-year-old blonde girl named Natalena Blast shrank down nervously.
She could not look the Student Council President in the eye.
“Why haven’t you handcuffed me? I was trying to kill you.”
“Hmm, but what did you actually do? Even ordinary kids will shout ‘die’ or ‘I’ll kill you’, so are you suggesting we arrest them all on charges of attempted murder or criminal conspiracy?”
“M-more than 30 people died and you’re still going to forgive me?”
“Do you…?” Even now, the older girl drew out her words smoothly. “Do you really think I don’t feel anything from this? When I suddenly have an unnatural opening on the Student Council?”
“But I know blaming you will accomplish nothing, so don’t worry about it.” Omotesandou Kyouka laughed and revealed a cruel truth. “The shadowy figures pulling all the strings never expected you to accomplish anything.”
“They knew you would lose and they were hoping the question of how to deal with Anastasia’s sister would tear us apart. So doesn’t it seem wrong to define you as an avenger? The people who sent you here never really saw you that way.”
Why was the girl so reluctant to give in on this point?
If Kyouka reversed her opinion on a whim, Natalena really would end up behind bars.
Given the social effects if it had succeeded, an attempted assassination of the world’s strongest would likely receive a greater punishment than a normal crime. And it would be too late to change her mind once it happened.
If she still could not stand this treatment, then she really had been a bad fit.
She was critically lacking in talent for evil deeds.
Omotesandou Kyouka let a true smile appear on her lips concerning that.
That honest girl could not match the kind of wicked genius found in this girl who had seen it through to the end. Kyouka’s group had just about corrupted this person who would be much more at home in the sunlight.
That was what Utagai Karuta had been trying to prevent.
The world’s strongest could get away with those things.
They might cause the occasional tragedy or trample on people’s happiness, but it all fell within the acceptable bounds.
But if they let the world work that way again, they would have lost.
That would have led straight to the cold crossroads that Anastasia and the other Problem Solvers had found. The only options remaining to them would lead to death, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
“You aren’t going to give up your Crystal Magic, are you?”
“Or is it Anubis you want to hold onto? To remember your sister by.”
Natalena did not seem to have an answer.
None of this would be easy for her to accept, but since she had never been the type for revenge, forcing that engine to keep running would have been even more difficult for her. For better or for worse, she had spent too much time with the target of her revenge. She should have attacked without even thinking about his situation or circumstances, but then she had seen his agony, tears, pride, and anger.
So she could not do it.
She could not load the engine with what little fuel she had left.
“If you are still trapped in revenge – or would like to be – I recommend joining us here. As a Grimnoah student, I mean.” She spoke like she was inviting the girl to join her for tea. “We are the ones who directly killed Anastasia Blast, but it was someone else who gave her the push that placed her on that battlefield. Someone else who wanted to pit those two magics against each other and profit from it while they safely remained elsewhere. So. Do you have any desire to get to the bottom of that with us?”
That had been Kyouka’s stance from the beginning.
She simply had not cared if it was accomplished by building trust or by dragging it out of the girl with torture.
Young Natalena could not have learned so much about Anastasia’s God Worshiping Magic on her own and she could not have faked her identity to sneak into the Second Grimnoah. Someone else was pulling the strings and Kyouka wanted to get as much out of the girl as possible.
Utagai Karuta had evidently kept his promise.
Now she would not have to play that more unpleasant card.
The counterattack could begin.
The key to it all, Natalena Blast, hesitantly began to speak.
“When I learned that Anastasia was dead, um, I was contacted by…”
Karuta was in the B World dome’s medical office.
Altogether, the several domes were about the same as a normal city, so the medical office was the size of a small general hospital. They would heal most wounds in 30 seconds, but his lost blood and body heat would not come back. It had helped a lot to get him in a warm bed with a blood pack.
“Got anything to say for yourself?”
“I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
Amaashi Marika was fully apologetic for once.
That was precisely when the President entered his room.
“Karuta-kun and Marika-chan, are you all packed up? We need to return to Grimnoah ASAP. Is Aine-chan inside you, Karuta-kun?”
“No, I gave her some free time, so she’s probably wandering around somewhere around here. What’s the rush?”
“I have some new info.”
That changed Karuta and Marika’s expressions.
They knew what Omotesandou Kyouka had been investigating. And with Natalena on their side, she might have given them some valuable information on the string pullers working behind the scenes.
Except those expectations were shattered by the true cruelty of the world.
“The Threat has appeared now of all times. And this time, they’re probably real.”
This was entirely different.
And it was not something they could ignore. How deep did the string pullers’ influence go? Did they fear the Threat, or were they manipulating the Threat as well? That was still a mystery, but an attack now suggested the Threat was being used in some way.
Marika spoke up in a cautious way.
“Come to think of it, we never did find out where the real Threat is or what they’ve been doing since we defeated the Problem Solvers.”
“So where are they?” asked Karuta. “Does the real Threat have enough intelligence to locate critical targets in their fight against us humans? Like a petroleum storage base or a nuclear power plant?”
Kyouka shook her head.
Hadn’t she said they needed to return to Grimnoah ASAP?
In other words…
“Osaka Bay. Specifically, on the ocean floor near the Port of Kobe.”
“You don’t mean…?”
Karuta was speechless.
If that was true, this was no time to be pursuing the world’s mysteries. They were being held up as the world’s strongest, but how many steps behind were they!?
“It can’t be!!”
Omotesandou Kyouka did not deny his worst fears here.
They had been there all along.
How could they call that ship a symbol of humanity’s resistance? They were the only ones who had not noticed the truth.
“They have silently gathered directly below Ocean Crystal Magic Academy Second Grimnoah. An army of the true Threat managed to amass so stealthily the bay’s sonobuoys failed to notice.”
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