City Series:Volume3b Opening
You have always believed
That you will hear the answer
Sometime, somewhere, surely
I think I will give you the answer from the depths of the earth
I will give the words that have been needed for so very, very long
I will give the various answers that will resound in both heaven and earth
Afternoon Section - Opening: Destruction’s Beginning and End (5:36)
Hong Kong’s destruction began.
Four giant dragons flew through the night sky and Nein Engels were gathered around them.
As if called by the dragons’ roars, the earth was Tuned and flew up toward heaven.
The roads, houses, buildings, greenery, rivers, and everything else became light and sound before seeking the sky.
It truly was a show of destruction.
And Akira ran along the stage of that show.
She always chose the path leading to the weakest of the destructive Lives as she travelled west along Ma Tau Wai Road to return the way she had come and escape Hung Hom.
She was running with all her strength.
She did not turn around and she took no breaks.
Occasionally, her foot would catch on the uncertain ground and she would almost trip.
She would move her wings to balance herself, but…
She would grimace at the pain in her broken wing and the wound in her side.
…I could heal that if I had my Device.
But she did not. Her trusty Device was broken and unusable.
She had lost her Device and injured her wing and body.
That was what she had accomplished in the fight against her brother.
She said nothing, looked down at her feet, and ran.
But the ground suddenly broke apart below her.
She felt her foot break through and a fissure opened much like a gaping maw.
It was deep.
She flapped her wings on reflex.
Intense pain shot through her broken right wing and a numbing pain ran along her spine.
Not even she knew whether her swallowed scream was in response to the pain or the fear below her feet.
She lost her balance at the unstable movement of her wings and she fell onto her right shoulder.
She felt a dull pain and rolled two or three times along the broken asphalt.
She did not fall into the fissure, but the roll caused her right wing to ache again. That pain would not even let her pass out.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow…”
She sat up and shook her head.
Miraculously, her Yard cap remained on her head, so she adjusted its position as she stood up…until her knees began to give out underneath her.
She placed her hands on her sinking knees and somehow managed to remain standing.
She took a breath, listened to the surrounding Lives again, and looked at her own body.
She had several injuries on her skin and her uniform and wings were stained all over with dust and blood.
She silently rubbed her eyes as if they were dirty too.
“I need to focus on escaping.”
She nodded and immediately heard an odd Live.
It was a distinctive Live.
It rang in her gut, had a low Tempo with a wave-like motion, and was colored a metallic gray.
It only lasted an instant, but it raced around her like a ripple.
She looked up and saw the four Earth Burns dancing in the heavens while consuming Hong Kong. The Lives of destruction rang loud in the distance, but they were very different and much more harmonized than the Live she had just heard.
It had been such a strange Live that she completely forgot about the pain in her wing and frowned.
…What was that?
Just as she asked herself that, her upturned eyes saw something in the heavens.
The fire element Earth Burn that had risen from Hung Hom had its long red body split in two.
The reason arrived after a slight delay.
It was that previous Live.
However, it was somehow different.
It was larger, it was more powerful, and its omnidirectional rippling motion had been focused in a single direction.
It was a monosyllabic shout.
She heard it as a continuous “ah”. She felt the low Tempo in her body and saw the heavy metallic Word Color.
It had to be the after-effect of the shout that had cut the dragon in two.
“The after-effect is this loud? Its Octave is easily over ten million.”
The Lives of destruction vanished from her surroundings and the disintegration of the earth slowed.
“Is it over? …No, that isn’t it.”
As proof, she saw a small mountain of land and a few buildings rise into the air far to the south.
The destruction was simply shifting from the surface and into the crust.
It was only getting started.
It was due to the splitting of the red dragon. The Lives the dragon had destroyed had been returned to their original forms, which counteracted its continuing destruction and slowed its pace.
The split crimson dragon began a descent in order to restore the lost portion of its body.
…Who cut that dragon?
She could make a guess and she was confident that guess was correct.
“ ‘If the Earth Burn is activated, call me’, hm?”
She finally gave a slight smile.
She also slapped her knees and faced forward to begin running again.
She noticed a small figure on the broken roadway.
It was a boy in pajamas who was on the borderline between a small child and just a child.
Akira ran over to him as he slowly walked around and looked up in the sky.
She caught up in only a few seconds.
“Hey! You have to run!”
His small body gave a start and he turned toward her.
At the same time, she heard a high-pitched cry.
It was the mewing of a cat.
She looked down and found the short-haired boy was holding a white cat. It seemed to be a pet because it had a red string and a bell around its neck.
She looked at the green-eyed cat and the boy and then sighed in relief.
She placed a hand on the boy’s back.
“You have to run. C’mon, you’ve stopped.”
The boy silently faced forward and began to walk.
She gave his back a gentle shove and he sped up.
She also began to jog while looking around to protect the boy. Taking solid steps made her right wing throb, but she could hardly complain given the situation.
She looked at the boy’s Live and lamented in her heart that she did not have her Device.
That was just how disturbed his Live was. Both in body and mind.
She apologized only in her heart and the cat mewed once.
At the same time, the boy spoke.
That was all.
Ignoring the pain in her wing, Akira looked down at him and the serious expression that looked far too mature for his age.
…Where have I seen that expression before?
She quickly found her answer.
When watching over J-Gun’s final moments, she had read the Message of his memories from his Live.
The crying boy facing J-Gun in a destroyed city had made that same expression.
And thinking back on it…
…That boy must have been Gunmal.
She would never have imagined that kind of past based on how he acted now, but she accepted it all the same.
She remained silent for a while.
After a few breaths, she nodded toward the boy running with her and repeated herself.
“You have to run.”
He nodded a few times as if accepting her words.
He then looked up at her a bit and asked a question.
“Are you from the Yard?”
“Yes, I’m part of the General’s Yard.”
“Where’s the Great General?”
“He’s waiting for everyone in the center of the city where it’s safe.”
“I see.” The boy pouted his lips. “Then I wish I could have gotten on that motorcycle at the beginning.”
“A delinquent was riding it with a woman. I was in my broken house and they didn’t make it in time.”
“What an awful delinquent,” she said with a bitter smile.
…That would be Kouga and Rin. I guess I’m the only one that hasn’t escaped.
Something appeared just as she frowned.
A great form flew by only ten meters overhead.
“The red dragon!”
The boy was correct.
The red dragon flew by over their heads again.
The roar of its passage was much louder and more powerful than an airplane.
It was thirty meters across and, despite being sliced apart earlier, at least five hundred meters long.
It was simply on too great a scale.
As she thought that, the ground seemed to loosen below her feet.
“Run!” she shouted while following her own advice.
On the second step, her feet seemed to rise.
A crack ran by in front of her and the ground floated up beneath her and the boy.
The crust was being Tuned instead of just the surface.
The destruction had begun at a more fundamental spot.
Akira held the boy in her arms and leaped.
She glanced backwards just once while in midair and saw something she wished she had not.
Far, far down Ma Tau Wai Road, about five hundred meters behind her, the red dragon’s head had dropped to the surface.
…It’s so big.
From this distance, she judged its head to be at least thirty meters across and over forty meters tall if the horn was included.
And bestial eyes glowed yellow in that massive face.
…It’s looking this way?
She felt like she could sense its gaze on her and her wings trembled lightly.
The earth swelled up behind her, blocking the red dragon from view.
She and the boy landed and hit the ground running.
She was now certain she felt the dragon’s gaze on her.
Despite the wall of earth behind her, the Live of its gaze reached her through it.
There was no doubting it.
Its gaze sent a disturbing Live her way. Its Word Color was an oddly warm purplish-red, its Tempo was much like a pulse, and it contained an unpleasantly sticky Message.
It was much like the curious looks she often received around town just for being a Nein Engel.
The red dragon was interested in her.
More than wondering why, she sensed the panic in the boy.
She pushed on his back and spoke.
“Listen. Run as fast as you can without looking back.”
He started to turn toward her, but she placed her Yard cap on his head.
“Don’t look. If you hear something or start to see something, cover your eyes with the brim of my cap.”
“It’s like a magic charm. If you do that, you won’t be scared.”
That monosyllabic question was interrupted by the crust being destroyed underfoot once more.
The ground was rising like a pillar.
Akira shouted and jumped backwards.
The cat in the boy’s arms gave a quick mew as if to say goodbye.
Several pillars of earth rose between her and the boy, creating a wall to separate them.
The street swelled up like a hill and Akira descended the opposite side.
Having turned back, she saw the red dragon.
The crimson dragon was stretched along the road and its long tail still flowed through the sky.
She descended the rising hill and stood on some of the limited flat ground still remaining.
She was surrounded by tilted ground, pillars of earth, and the foundations and walls of the houses and buildings still attached.
“Instead of simply breaking it all down, it’s destroyed and devoured. My brother’s dragon really is cruel.”
She then realized why the red dragon was focused on her.
When an object was Tuned into another form, it would give shape to the Tuner’s Message.
And the Message was the Tuner’s thoughts, including the elements of emotion.
“And that includes hostility.”
After that monotone comment, she bit her lower lip.
At the same time, the ground shook.
She looked forward and saw the red dragon moving.
It was moving forward, toward her.
Hong Kong’s destruction continued.
Above the earth, city, and sea in four directions, a crazed performance was underway that mixed together all sorts of sounds.
The volume and sound quality was a lot like the roar of a waterfall.
Asphalt, water, wind, plants, light, and fire were all broken down and carried upwards.
But there was a restful place from which the party of destruction could be seen in all four directions.
It was a band of land that included Hong Kong Cave and portions of Kowloon’s business district and administrative district.
Rin and Kouga had indicated that this area would not be harmed when the massive four Tune Emblems were activated.
It was a narrow strip of land.
The roads were overflowing with cars trying to escape destruction and crowded with people seeking help.
The destruction of Hung Hom’s thermal power station had cut the city’s lights by two-thirds and the partial lighting only accentuated the darkness of the night.
Sounds of destruction, the roars of the dragons, the rumbling of cars, the fear of the people, and the Lives of all those things filled the area as densely as water in the depths of the ocean.
Nathan Road cut vertically through Hong Kong and its northern end was normally the quiet border between the business district and administrative district, but it was no exception.
The General’s Tank Force was buried among the cars like stones in a river and could not move.
“This has really turned into somethin’ else,” muttered the General with his upper body sticking out of his Grant’s turret.
He had driven down the center passing lane to keep his field of vision open, but now he could not budge from there.
He glanced up at the three dragons in the sky and sighed.
“I guess what was taken isn’t comin’ back.”
Those dragons had been made from Huang Daquan’s blood.
His blood had contained Yang Lives, so the dragons would not return to Hong Kong even if the Tuning was dispelled. They would combine with heaven, which was filled with the same power.
“The red one was actin’ strange earlier and I heard an odd Live, but that won’t be enough.”
He lightly shook his head and squeezed the speaker microphone in his hand.
“Um, no one in this street is to move. Put your hands up and I can at least say you won’t die.”
Rare for him, he frowned, crossed his arms, and looked around with narrowed eyes as if he were unsure what to do.
He then heard something strange.
It was a Live of silence.
He could hear Lives of destruction and screaming in the distance and he could hear rumbling engines from much closer by, but despite all the surrounding noise and people, there was not a great din.
“Is that ‘cause of my influence?”
He smiled bitterly.
“I guess it was the same durin’ that Divine Punishment War. The Tune Emblem is different from the secret technique used then, but it’s funny that it’s the son doin’ it this time.”
He gently stroked the scar on his cheek.
“The mother created by Huang and the son that became Huang’s protégé, huh? I just hope it’ll be stopped the way it was during Hu’s time, and not like it was during mine.”
Once he said that, he heard a familiar, loud sound.
It was a motorcycle engine.
And he heard the actual sound rather than the Live.
That was exactly who he saw when he turned around.
Kouga was driving his motorcycle through the congestion, but he was not using the road or the sidewalk.
He was driving straight along the Nathan Road’s central divider.
The General saw someone on the back of the motorcycle.
Based on the Word Color of the Live, he could tell it was Rin.
“The Tempo’s a little weak for Rin, though.”
The motorcycle shot toward him with enough speed to blow away that concern.
But despite the speed, it was accurately controlled.
The Live of Kouga’s panicked gaze pierced through the General.
“What is it?”
As soon as the General spoke up, the motorcycle came to a rapid stop.
The tires screeched and blue smoke blew out.
The back wheel hopped up a bit, the motorcycle skidded a little past the General’s Grant, and it came to a stop.
Kouga hopped off and picked Rin up from the back.
He had not lowered the kickstand, so the motorcycle slid and toppled over, but he ignored it and shouted to the General.
“General, you’ve gotta Tune her!”
The General caught on as soon as he saw Rin in the man’s arms.
The woman’s right leg was missing from the knee down.
Hong Kong’s destruction was approaching its climax.
The black earth dragon, the green wood dragon, and the blue water dragon were already flying about high in the night sky and the Nein Engels decorated their surroundings like stars.
Where they had left the earth, the surface had torn away and muddy seawater was filling the great holes left behind.
There were no more Lives rising from those places.
The red dragon alone had yet to ascend. It calmly floated over the land of Hung Hom. It smashed the earth, swallowed the greenery and wind, and restored its torn body.
Its prey was Akira.
In a single word, she was exhausted.
She had removed her uniform’s coat and all she could do was run and jump.
Even when running at full speed, the great dragon could fill the gap with the slightest of actions.
A few times, it had caught up to her and just about crushed her or devoured her.
However, she was much too small for the dragon. It would misjudge the distance and bite at the wrong spot or drop its maw in the wrong area.
“But I still can’t take much more of this,” she sighed while weakly running along.
She had tripped and slammed against the ground or rocky walls so often that she could no longer feel the pain in her right wing.
…Have I knocked myself silly?
As she had that overly carefree thought, she heard a heavy Live behind her.
She looked back and saw the red dragon’s face.
The Live of its gaze pierced into her body and she escaped it by moving to the right.
She ran and a giant red wall burst through the spot she had just vacated.
The dragon bent its neck while practically lying on the ground.
It turned its head toward Akira.
The yellow light of its eyes faced Akira and the Live racing from it was no longer one of curiosity.
This intense red Word Color and low rumbling Tempo belonged to a Live of fury.
And she had no weapon with which to deflect that Live.
She felt a squeezing in her heart as her own Live was crushed and nearly broken by that fury.
If it broke, this was all over. That would mean her Live had been Busted.
Her voice escaped her throat, but it did not reach the level of a scream.
“You have to be kidding me!”
It was only a small shout, but it helped her regain a grip on her own Live.
Instead of calming her Live with Tuning, she created the rhythm of a song.
This was the Flight Song that she had known for a very long time and it flowed through her heart.
As she sang, strength returned to her gaze and she used that strength to force back the dragon’s gaze.
Her feet had nearly stopped, but they began moving again.
The dragon reacted to her movement.
It released a furious protest at the recovery of its nearly defeated prey. It opened its fang-lined mouth and released a voice of pure attack rather than words or breath.
It was a roar.
The great noise nearly blew Akira away.
But she held her ground.
She sensed a presence behind her.
She turned only her head and saw an earthen wall that had not been there before.
Called by the dragon’s cry, it had risen from the ground as if by springs.
By the time she noticed, it was too late.
Shock and pain ran through her back and wings, but it did not end there.
She did her best to not lose her balance, but the rising earth proved too much for her.
A cylindrical pillar of earth jutted up with the speed of an elevator.
Akira lost to that inertia and collapsed onto her back.
For a winged Nein Engel, falling onto her back was filled with only pain and fear. She felt instinctual fear at having her defenseless stomach turned toward the nearly empty night sky.
She raised her head in a frantic attempt to get up and she saw the red dragon’s face.
She had been raised from the ground by a few meters, so there was nothing to obstruct the dragon’s gaze.
From the dragon’s point of view, she was nothing but an offering.
The dragon must have noticed what she was thinking because it smiled.
An unpleasant chill ran down her back and she trembled.
She felt a reflexive urge to run, but her body would not move.
Her arms, legs, and torso seemed pinned to the ground.
Her will responded to her question, but her body did not.
She was exhausted and her body had given up, regardless of her will.
She gasped at this unexpected betrayal and looked to the enemy.
It raised its head and opened its maw with the other three dragons and the Nein Engels flying in the night sky behind it.
And it rushed toward her.
She could not even scream.
Her voice refused to come out.
Only her thoughts raced through her heart.
The wordless thoughts powerfully raced into the sky in pure Live form.
Only one person in the entire world heard that rushing Live.
And he responded.
He responded by blowing the dragon away from the side.
She heard a great rumbling.
When the great dragon’s face was only around a dozen meters from her, a gust of wind struck it from the side. Instead of a light impact, that wind was enough of an attack to knock it onto its side.
And something much more crucial reached her a moment later: a distinctive Live.
It rang in her gut, had a low Tempo with a wave-like motion, and was colored a metallic gray.
It had blown the red dragon away.
…It can’t be.
She glanced around, but before she found anything, she felt something solid touching her back and below the knees.
A moment later, she was lifted up from those points.
“Don’t act so confused.”
She looked up and saw Gunmal’s face before her eyes.
Hong Kong’s destruction was approaching its conclusion.
The red dragon writhed along the earth from the unexpected attack, Akira did not lose her life, and Gunmal held her in his right arm.
His blue eyes looked at her and he finally smiled bitterly.
“You should’ve called me sooner. How else am I gonna know where you are?”
She looked silently at his face.
He started to say something more, but tilted his head at the awkwardness in her gaze.
He then jumped from the raised earth below his feet.
He landed lightly and immediately began running.
Finally, Akira managed to speak.
“Wh-what about the dragon?”
“It’s no use. It’s gotten even bigger than before. I was trying to blow off its head, but it didn’t work.”
“It’s no use?”
“I’m still a little rusty. And personally, I think knocking that thing away is a pretty amazing feat.”
“That’s true,” she agreed.
He glanced behind them.
“I guess it’s about over.”
In the same breath as her question, the earth around them began rising.
It was time for the dragon’s ascent.
The earth came from the crust and was Tuned.
“The Tuner’s ability, the Devices, the Tune Emblems, the blood of an Archs, and dragons that destroy the earth to further develop themselves. They’ve used a ton of methods to increase the Octave they can control.”
“This is no time for casual commentary. A-are we going to make it?”
The earth was torn deeply next to them and it flew up toward the sky.
He looked down at her.
“We will. I created a path before the destruction resumed.”
“It’s just like making a Device. I just forged the earth a little.”
“Enough to keep that dragon from destroying it? You have to be joking.”
But she could decide whether he was joking or not after they safely escaped Hung Hom.
She sighed and he asked her a question.
“Why didn’t you escape right away?”
“You had time after I cut the red dragon, right?”
“Well…” She hesitated and lowered her eyes. “I was held up by some things.”
He then spoke to her.
She looked up to ask him what he wanted and he kissed her.
She was surprised, but before long…
She fell silent.
She felt it was inappropriate, but she closed her eyes and surrendered herself to him.
The contact between their lips allowed him to forcibly read her Live.
That irritatingly pleasant activity ended after only two seconds.
Perhaps due to having her vision cut off, the wet sensation of his parting lips seemed especially distinct.
When she heard his voice, it was too close for any other sounds to get in the way.
“I see.” He took a breath. “So you were saving a kid. You can tell people about that kind of thing, you know? And I’m not talking about what suits you or not. I guess…well…I sort of like that kind of thing.”
“And I also wanted to know why you’re dressed so sexily.”
“That torn clothing is pretty erotic, you know?’
“What are you talking about?”
She frowned and opened her eyes.
He was looking straight forward.
Huh? she thought.
…Didn’t he just say something?
There was no sign of that left in him, but he looked down at her a bit.
“Go to sleep,” he said. “You’re tired, aren’t you? Then go to sleep. Once you wake up, you’ll probably be in a hospital bed.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He smiled a little and picked up his pace. “It’s a straight shot from here, so get some rest.”
As if in response, the red dragon roared behind them.
That signaled the conclusion of Hong Kong’s destruction.
Rin awoke in the night.
Her body awoke before her mind.
Her eyes opened, but her vision was hollow and unclear.
She dug back into her memories based on her senses and found herself lying on her back when she should have been sitting on a motorcycle.
…Where am I?
Only her body could answer her.
Something warm and solid was wrapped around her right arm from the elbow down.
And she felt nothing below the knee of her right leg.
She closed her eyes and listened to the Lives.
All across her body, she sensed the cold blue Lives of injury.
Her right arm was broken and held in a hard cast.
…A cast? So is this a hospital?
She accepted that question as the answer and gave a sigh of relief.
She listened to her slightly rapid pulse and to her own body’s Live.
She could not sense her Live from below her right knee, but the rest of the leg was not emitting the blue Word Color of injury.
…My Live has stabilized.
Her body had accepted the loss.
…Well, not even Tuning can add on what was lost.
She spoke in her heart and slowly opened her eyes.
She vaguely saw a white room in the darkness.
As expected, it was a hospital room.
The glow-in-the-dark hands of the clock on the wall told her it was nearly two in the morning.
A glowing digital calendar was contained near the center of the clock face, so she knew it was June 17.
…So only six hours have passed since Hong Kong was destroyed.
She realized that her body and mind both wanted sleep.
The waking effect of her panicked mind had gone, so the power of the anesthesia was returning.
She used her unfocused mind to think.
The dragons of the four elements had activated.
On the night of June 30, the Nein Engels would use the acceleration of the four elements to activate the Earth Serpent.
Fearing that fact, some would choose to flee and some would choose to fight.
She suddenly spoke.
“Why did I survive to see this through to the end?”
Her voice vanished unheard into the corner of the room.
She smiled bitterly and closed her eyes.
Sleep was quickly taking hold.
Thinking she would take action once this exhaustion left her, she fell back to sleep.
|Back to Preface||Return to Main Page||Forward to Act 2|