City Series:Volume3a Chapter 7
Act 7: A Tell (Ether) (7:21)
Black smoke rose into and flew through the blue sky.
Some flames were mixed in and many different sounds came from Tsim Sha Tsui’s Chatham Road below.
It was an ensemble of uncountable shouts, screams, and metallic crashes. And all of that must not have been enough noise because a metallic sound resembling a loud shouting voice joined in.
It was the sound of a double-decker bus breaking apart.
A massive hole covered both lanes on one side of Chatham Road and the bus had fallen in.
The sounds of destruction linked with one’s imagination and two people were able to sigh from a vantage point giving them a view down.
“It looks like something from a movie.”
That slightly out-of-place comment came from Rin as she tried to catch her breath.
“They really are violent,” agreed Akira. “I wouldn’t do it like that at all.”
Both of their voices were somehow stiff and located somewhere up high.
They had “escaped” by flying straight up from the hole and onto the roof of a dozen or so story department store on Chatham Road.
Akira glanced over at Rin who was peering down from the edge of the building.
“That was close, wasn’t it?”
Rin nodded while still catching her breath and she pulled a combat knife from her pocket.
“You sure carry a lot of weapons around.”
Rin did not respond, but she did produce a voice.
It was a fairly low, undulating sound.
This was Rin’s Live.
As she produced the voice, she pressed the knife against the back of her own neck.
A moment later, a small orange bird flew from her body.
The bird frantically flapped its wings and ran along the rooftop without flying.
It was a Live of impatience.
After driving it from herself, Rin sighed.
“It was close. If you had been just a little slower with the Tuning, you wouldn’t have been able to deconstruct the flames and we would have been killed. …Look.”
Akira looked in the direction Rin indicated with a jerk of her chin.
That was where the giant hole filled the asphalt road to a ridiculous extent.
The edges of the hole were brightly melted and shimmering heat still rose from them.
The shimmering was very thick, but two men could still be seen standing nearby.
One was a man holding a Device sword and the other was a man with a fully customized body.
Both of them looked around slowly like travelers in a foreign land.
They were searching for something.
“Are they looking for us?”
“Of course not.”
As soon as Rin spoke, J-Gun and Fei began walking.
However, they started toward the opposite side of the road.
The cars in those lanes were worried about the large hole in the ground, but they were still slowly moving along.
Or they should have been.
The orderly current of Lives controlling the road was suddenly disturbed by the two men who cut into those lanes.
The disturbed Lives began with the bright red of screeching brakes.
A double-decker bus slammed on its brakes, blue smoke rose from the tires, and it honked at the two men walking in front of it.
Unfortunately, it was too late.
To make matters worse, the following car crashed into it from behind.
With a metallic crash, the car was knocked backwards and the bus forwards.
And the bus collided with the two on the road.
“Oh, no!” shouted Akira.
Fei briefly turned in her direction as the bus crashed into him.
The destructive Live was not one she wanted to see or hear.
“That had to hurt.”
“Don’t turn away, Akira! Look!”
She kept watching and saw that Fei had not been knocked away despite all the noise.
His body was embedded in the front of the bus as if his feet were glued to the ground.
Akira gulped because she saw no change in the faint Live coming from Fei.
“Rin, did that Galgallin go through a Psyche Outer surg-…”
“Wait five seconds and they’ll head out.”
Due to her harsh tone, Akira glanced over at Rin and found her checking on the Henry Ball she had miraculously not dropped during the explosion.
She was preparing for battle.
Akira did the same by gathering strength in her gut and gripping her Device.
…This is serious.
Looking back down at the road, she noticed Lives of fear overflowing from the bus’s windows and door. The bluish-white Word Color and trembling Tempo formed a wave as it spilled out.
After a beat, the passengers followed the wave out.
Fei may have been waiting for that moment because the double-decker bus floated up like it was a prop made of paper.
He had lifted it.
And Akira also saw Fei’s dried but slightly remaining Live reverberating pure red toward her.
That Live was known as intent to kill.
“Oh, crap. He noticed us.”
She pulled back, worked to keep her Live from escaping, and asked Rin a question.
“Are you much of a weightlifter?”
“I carry a gun everywhere.”
“I’m talking about things much heavier than- Ah! He can throw it!?”
“What is it, Akira!?”
“Don’t look down! You’ll want to just give up!”
But Rin looked down regardless.
And so did Akira.
The red double-decker bus flew up into the air and instantly arrived over their heads.
It blotted out the sun for them.
At the same time, it seemed to freeze about ten meters above them.
And once it stopped, it was bound to fall.
“Fly, Akira!” shouted Rin.
Without even hearing Rin out to the end, Akira grabbed the other woman and jumped out into the air.
A fall from that height would be lethal, but she did not hesitate.
She flew out over the road.
She could see Chatham Road below and she felt the wind on her spread wings. With a strong flap of those wings, she supported Rin’s weight and descended.
Almost immediately, a splendid sound of destruction reached them from behind, but Akira did not care.
She had no intention of looking back.
Below, Fei and J-Gun had only just hijacked a convertible stopped at the front of the traffic jam.
“Ah, you thieves!”
Akira’s protest chased futilely after them as the convertible took off.
As she watched it go, Akira glanced backwards for just an instant.
Her monosyllabic shout seemed to have gotten through because Rin nodded.
With a large flap of her wings, Akira gently flew along, ignored the panicking roadway, and approached a tram running along the center line.
The tram was moving in the same direction as the fleeing car.
Using Rin’s shout as a cue, Akira released the other woman.
Rin fell toward the tram’s blue roof from about three meters up and…
“Well, I don’t have time to watch.”
Akira pursued their enemy without bothering to look down.
She flapped her wings to fly through the air while using her legs as ballast.
She prepared her Device and listened to the wind blowing through the road.
Perhaps due to the smoke, the blue of the wind was somewhat hazy. It looked in a worse mood than normal.
But Akira did not particularly care. She could deal with some small differences now. In fact, a slight disturbance saved her some trouble.
She stabbed the Device’s blade into the wind.
As she flew through the sky above the road and held her breath a bit, she began Tuning.
“Oh, you Lives flowing around me with an Octave of 400,000, you monologue of the wind and crying of the air. Can you hear…my Live!?”
She released her Live that began with “la”.
It was gentle, but the high-pitched sound contained a rising intonation.
The clear reverberation flew as a song and Tuned the wind’s Live into that of a bird.
The miracle was complete in only four seconds.
The bird of blue wind spread its two meter wings the instant it was born and it flew.
It charged straight toward the convertible racing on ahead.
The bird would become a shockwave once it hit and it had enough power to stop the car.
It was about twenty meters away which would take about five seconds at the bird’s speed.
J-Gun reacted to it with his back to Akira.
He slowly stood up atop the convertible’s trunk and he swung his Device while turning around.
The slight hint of his Live shook as if trying to convey something.
…That’s the same shaking as an Over Up.
That fact gave Akira a chill.
Meanwhile, J-Gun did not utter a word as he released a Live beginning with “oh”.
It was low, but its Tempo was sharp and straight instead of groaning. The Word Color was the red of offense and it was shaped in the bent half arc of a sickle.
The strike smashed Akira’s bird.
“Get down, Akira!”
Rin had a good reason for her advice that was less relevant for someone who could fly.
J-Gun’s attack had done more than just destroy the bird; it continued toward Akira as a destructive Live.
Akira could see the red destructive sound.
The red Live approached before her surprised eyes.
But then it burst.
That was thanks to Rin’s anti-demon round fired from behind.
The sound of the red Live scattering was very much like breaking glass.
Both the Live and the anti-demon round’s spear of light shattered and scattered throughout Hong Kong’s wind.
But Akira did not overlook those smaller Lives.
She frowned, rotated her Device, and gathered together all of the Lives scattering in the wind.
…An anti-demon round and J-Gun’s Live! …This is pretty heavy.
“But…I can’t allow this!”
Akira raced forward again and gathered up the Lives of the wind with her Device.
At the same time, Chatham Road took a shallow curve to the right and the coastline came into view. The valley of buildings would end in another five hundred meters, so this was the time to settle things.
“Oh, you Lives dancing around me with an Octave of 1,120,000, you rumblings of power, roars of wind, and announcements of destruction! Can you hear my Live!?”
It took her a few seconds to call in the greatest Octave she could manage.
A giant spear shining a bright red resided in her Device.
It was at least five meters long, but she did not have time to appreciate it.
She swung the Device and immediately fired it.
“Wait, you idiot! Don’t kill them!”
Rin’s wish was granted. The spear was on the level of a tank’s gun, but it flew toward the convertible’s trunk instead of directly at J-Gun.
Meanwhile, J-Gun raised his Device to eye level and lowered his stance.
He planned to block the spear that was over twice his height and not even aimed at him.
“Are you suicidal!?”
Rin’s question was well deserved. That spear included J-Gun’s own Live, so attacking it would have the same result as punching himself with his own fist.
The reflexive echoing of his own Live would destroy him.
However, he made no attempt to escape.
Instead, he opened his mouth, and gave a powerful Task for the first time since being resurrected.
His Device responded to the bestial roar escaping his throat.
He did not hesitate to radially amplify the Live and it gained a scarlet coloration much more vivid than mere red. It was a wave of killer intent.
Its Tempo was that of a high-pitched shaking and its size was massive.
“An Octave of more than two million!? And it’s still growing!?”
That was an inarguably abnormal size.
The solid murderous intent was instantly amplified until it filled the entire road.
The spear Akira had fired slammed into that Live and shattered.
J-Gun’s own Live and the wind’s Live were included in the spear, but they were both immediately destroyed.
She could not hear the destruction of the three Lives. Only the sound of the destructive Live filled her surroundings.
This destructive power was on an entirely different level from before.
The destruction did not even allow for any kind of reflexive echoing.
“Was he not serious before!?”
As if to answer her question, J-Gun held his Device low and then quickly swung it upwards.
It fired a Live shell large enough to fill the road and it was aimed at Akira.
She did not even have time to scream.
She pulled a Discord Bomb from her pocket and threw it toward the scarlet Live that approached like a solid wall.
At the same time, she twisted her body, kicked off the air, and flew straight down. The enemy’s attack had been fired toward her as she flew, so she could only escape by heading down toward the ground.
The Discord Bomb exploded and its shockwave Live struck the scarlet Live to cancel it out.
The sound of impact was intense, but it proved meaningless.
The Discord Bomb’s shockwave burst, released a black Word Color, and was swallowed up.
Meanwhile, the scarlet Live flew onwards while still roaring.
Akira remained in midair and had yet to escape.
She gave a voiceless shout and moved down with all her might.
It was decided by a paper-thin margin.
The scarlet Live grazed her wings. Just as she felt a slight heat, some pain reached her and a few of her white feathers were pulled out.
But that was all.
…Did I make it!?
As soon as she wondered that, her right shoulder slammed into the asphalt.
She had sent herself downwards, so she did not take too much damage and she could keep going.
She frowned, quickly got up, and raised her head.
Once her vision rose, she saw something shocking.
All of the cars, people, voices, winds, and Lives were trying to escape Chatham Road.
The overall flow was rushing away to avoid danger.
However, there was one form flying into the center of the danger.
It was a motorcycle with two men onboard.
Kouga held the handlebars and Gunmal sat on the back with a Device sword resting on his shoulder.
The bike was Kouga’s. It was apparently from the Honda CB series, but it had been modified so often that its original form was all but lost. It was currently racing forward while blasting its six tone horn.
It was fast.
It was clearly exceeding the speed limit. In fact, it was going nearly triple the number designated on the signs.
It would occasionally run across a bump in the road and the back would hop violently up and land again.
The back wheel would slide a bit before it accelerated again.
“Hey! I’m not sure if I should call it ‘a little’ or ‘a whole lot’, but aren’t we going too fast here!?” asked Gunmal.
The wind distorted Kouga’s face and he did not turn around as he answered.
“Don’t worry. People used to call me Swift Skanda, you know!?”
“Wait, wait, wait. Where are you even from!?”
“What? You hadn’t heard? I was born and raised on the puny island nation next door.”
His words were blown away by the wind and he tilted to the left.
“We’re about to turn!”
Gunmal could not keep up with Kouga’s movements, but his voice was swept away as the bike cut across the road and into the opposing traffic.
Two cars were coming their way, side by side.
“Wahh! I think you took a wrong turn!”
“No, this is perfect!”
Kouga shouted as he twisted the accelerator and sent the bike even further forward.
The racing machine made its way in between two of the lanes.
“Lean back!” he told Gunmal as he pulled on the handlebars.
He could feel Gunmal lean back in the seat behind him and the front wheel rose just a bit.
And like that, they charged in between the oncoming cars.
The wind slammed into them and produced a low sound much like flesh being struck.
The raised handlebars passed above the cars’ side mirrors.
They passed by in an instant with a relative speed of over two hundred kph.
The wall of wind it produced was enough to lightly tear at their clothing but not enough to knock them over.
They passed through the wall of wind.
The front wheel landed and their speed dropped a little.
Kouga leaned forward to press the shaking front tire against the road and then accelerated again.
Or he meant to.
“Hey! Why’d you head into the opposite lanes!?”
“Look to the right!”
Kouga could see a traffic jam filling all four lanes of the road on the right.
“If we went that way, we’d have to keep doing that wheelie over and over.”
“Okay, got it. Your decision was horribly wrong yet right.”
More cars came their way, so they swerved back and forth while breaking through the waves of wind they produced.
Soon, they saw the cause of the traffic jam in the right lanes.
It was a giant hole.
“Gunmal! What is that!?”
“It’s artistic is what it is.”
“The road was destroyed!”
As soon as Kouga shouted that, a shadow enveloped the two of them.
Something was falling towards them.
Kouga reflexively looked up and saw an unbelievable red object above them.
“Why is a double-decker bus falling from the sky?”
“Don’t look back!”
After Gunmal’s harsh cry, Kouga tensed his body and faced forward.
A moment later, the great pressure vanished from overhead, as did the shadow threatening to crush them.
Kouga looked back and saw Gunmal holding his Device in his flesh-and-blood left hand.
“Gunmal!? What did you just do!?”
“Shut up! Just keep going!”
Kouga almost said something else but decided against it.
Instead, he shook his head a bit and sighed.
He then gathered some different words and let them out into the wind.
“It’s not often you get serious. …Are you worried about Akira?”
“I still haven’t heard her answer.”
“Her answer? Did you confess to her?”
Gunmal did not reply.
Instead, he muttered some other words into the wind.
“This really takes me back. I keep hearing Lives of fear.”
Akira watched as the city fell apart.
The scarlet Live flying her way tore through the center of a fifteen-story park hotel located along the road.
The white building was destroyed in an instant.
The smashing of the stone, metal, and glass mixed together into a rumble much like that of a waterfall.
And it did not end there.
Perhaps due to colliding with the massive object, J-Gun’s Live literally exploded.
Briefly, a near-indescribable smell of sweet fire hung in the air.
Immediately afterwards, a deep sound was let loose.
The four or five buildings around the park hotel collapsed from the speed of the blast.
The multiple roars resonated with each other and numbed Akira’s ears.
The smoke of the scarlet killer intent wrapped the buildings in red flames.
…What is this?
Akira watched on while kneeling on the asphalt, but…
“Akira! Ahead of you!”
Rin’s voice brought her back to her senses.
The enemy’s convertible was stopped up ahead and J-Gun was no longer standing on top of it. The Galgallin named Fei was there instead.
…What is he going to do!?
Her question was immediately answered.
Just as when they had met underground, he raised his arm and a mortar jutted out.
White light was already gathering in the barrel.
Just as Akira realized what his attack was based on its Live, an explosion shook Hong Kong for the third time that day.
Heat lost all color once it reached a certain temperature.
It would roast the air and only contain the color white.
That was the identity of the white pillar that shot horizontally along Chatham Road.
She did not have time to dodge.
The white heat filled both sides of the road and vaporized the asphalt.
“You goddamn idiot!!”
A man’s shout collided head-on with the mass of pure white heat.
The clash was settled in an instant and it ended with a surprisingly refreshing sound of steam.
Fei’s heat projectile had been utterly destroyed.
It had all happened in an instant.
The white heat, the intent to kill, and everything else had vanished and it had all become a still wind.
Only the melted road remained up ahead.
The melted portion ended less than ten meters ahead of Akira, but she could no longer detect even a hint of heat.
The heat Live had been destroyed and she saw its many pieces floating through the air and vanishing.
She was speechless.
She had her Device raised as if to Tune because she had instinctually prepared to Tune the heat Live as it flew toward her. She could also tell her fingers were stiff with tension.
She checked and found that Fei and J-Gun had vanished from the road up ahead.
The convertible was gone too, so they must have escaped.
However, she no longer had the energy to give chase.
Strength left her body and she sighed.
She trembled and almost succumbed to the desire to drop her spear Device and fall to her hands and knees, but she just barely managed to move her wings and withstand that exhaustion.
She then looked to the destruction before her eyes.
“That’s unbelievable. And…”
…They eliminated it in an instant.
All she knew was that a powerful Live had flown in from behind.
It had been a shockwave produced by the action of “slicing the air”.
The Live had been produced with a strange sort of Busting and not many people could pull it off.
To confirm her suspicions, she turned around.
There, she saw the tram Rin rode on stopped in the road.
Kouga sat atop a thoroughly modified motorcycle, and next to him was…
He stood with his Device in hand.
…Did you eliminate that just now?
He did not answer.
He only smiled bitterly, looked her way, and said something else.
“Thank goodness. Are you alive?”
He asked in his usual tone.
And as always, his Live was hidden from view.
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