City Series:Volume4a Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Beginning of the End (After-Sales Service)
The Osaka Hilton hotel’s sky lounge gave a view of the city of Osaka.
Two people viewed the colors of that city: Hisahide and Takada.
Hisahide stared at the silhouette of Osaka Castle visible in the distance.
“Sorry the day you arrived is already the big day of Ixolde’s activation, Takada.”
“I don’t mind. I never was interested in Rhythms.”
The Dog God on her shoulder spoke for her as she sipped at a teacup.
Hisahide faced her from across the table, seemed to have something he wanted to say, and sighed.
“You really stick to your own pace, you know that?”
“I am simply playing the role that was given to me. Right?”
The question was directed to Taromaru who replied in a quiet, bell cricket-like voice.
“A Dog God lives by devouring people’s indecision, hm? That creature was made from a portion of your Lives, right? Has he ever gotten along with anyone else?”
“Yes. Just today, he ran up onto someone else’s shoulder for the first time.”
“You’re the one that asked. Why do you sound so surprised?”
“Oh, well, y’know?” He scratched at his hair. “There’s really someone else like you in this city?”
“Yes. He is trying to play his role…and he’s far more indecisive than you or me.”
“Was he good person?” he asked while sipping at his tea.
“Yes. Although he did stare at my butt.”
Hisahide immediately spat out his mouthful of tea.
“Hisahide-san, please don’t spit out your tea. You scared Taromaru.”
“Y-yeah, but more importantly…”
“I’ve said I can read other people’s Lives, haven’t I? Well, I could read his even more once Taromaru possessed him.”
“He still has some guts to admire your ass without permission.”
“You used to always look at my chest, though.”
“That’s because a girl’s all about the breasts, not the ass.”
“If you say so.”
That was all Takada said before taking another sip of her tea.
The waiter brought over a new pot of tea and a cake, so she pulled out her fork while speaking again.
“But he was an interesting person.”
“By looking at your ass?”
“In many ways, including that. He was indecisive about so many things yet he was still trying to do something about it on his own. I was jealous of that.”
“If you ask me, someone who can’t make up their mind is just weak.”
“Then I guess I’m fundamentally weak too.”
“Would it be conceited of me to say that’s why I’ll always protect you?”
“No, you’re working quite hard there, even if it isn’t as much as between Takahiro and Hijiri.”
“I’m glad to hear it. …But I’d like to meet this guy you’ve taken such an interest in.”
“You can if you want. He’s the one the Nagoya Chancellor brought with her.” She took a breath. “He is a key person. I could tell after prophesying his future.”
“Yes, I read his kotodama, but… What’s the matter?”
Hisahide brought a hand to his forehead.
“Ahh… I do want to go out with you, you know?”
“Yes, and I said that was fine.”
Takada held out her right hand to show the golden ring on the middle finger.
Hisahide looked to the silver ring on his own right hand’s middle finger.
“You weren’t thinking at all, were you?”
He sighed when she and Taromarou on her shoulder both tilted their head.
“Well, I guess this is destiny too,” he muttered before telling Takada to recite the prophecy she had seen.
She briefly hesitated and looked to Taromaru.
Taromaru erased all intonation from his voice and seemed to squeeze out the voice so only Nakamura could hear.
A white flower blooms in the darkness
An empty party begins in the fire
A memory of death floats in nothingness
- A king saves him
- A queen laments him
- A sage resigns himself
- Fall into indecisiveness while looking to another’s path
- Choose your own path and hesitate
- The true path lies in the past
His expression changed upon hearing it.
He looked Takada in the eye and voiced his own prophecy.
A red flower blooms in the darkness
An empty party begins in strength
Human memories dance within nothingness
- A soldier saves the king
- A woman becomes the queen
- A sage reminisces
- Run without looking to another’s path
- Choose your own path and sprint
- The true path lies in the future
His lips then uttered something else.
“That prophecy is the flipside of mine.”
“If so, he is the soldier who will save you and make you the king.”
“You’re one scary girl. Are you planning to drag him onto our side?”
“No. He is a key person because he is indecisive.”
“He does not have his own rails…his own Words. Whether he saves you or not will likely be highly dependent on what happens now and on his own indecision.”
“So he’s just wishy-washy? He can’t take a stand about his own destiny?”
“No, that isn’t it.”
“He is hesitant because the possibilities presenting themselves to him are so great.”
She smiled at his silence.
“I understand because I was once crippled by indecision and closed off the possibility of becoming a Tuner, Buster, or Rhythm user.”
“Between me and him, which one’s the better guy?”
She answered with a slight smile.
“I think the one that can draw out his possibilities to their fullest is the better guy.”
“I see.” Hisahide checked his watch. “Okay, I guess it’s about time to head out.”
“Are you really forgoing the original plan and descending to the sewers from this hotel’s basement?”
“Yeah, it’s looking that way. Osaka’s Chancellor’s Officers seem to have caught wind of Ikemaru and Aoi’s battle with the Nagoya Chancellor, so they’ve already set up some guards.”
“That makes things difficult. …So are you finally taking action to become king?”
Nakamura nodded and smiled at Takada.
“Well, I’ll be king by the time I reach Nagoya.”
Ixolde’s underground control room was preparing for Ixolde’s activation in two hours’ time.
The elites of Osaka’s Science Club Alliance were speaking only the necessary words and moving between the electronic equipment lined up in the control room. Their mechanical actions created the illusion that they were nothing more than a portion of the overall machine known as Ixolde.
It was a powerful illusion.
Two people in the control room’s entrance viewed it from close up.
One, an eyepatched boy, faced forward as he spoke.
“Compared to the emptiness of the celebration outside, this room is filled with quiet energy.”
The tall boy standing next to him nodded.
“I really don’t fit in with the Student Council and those VIPs. I was right to leave partway through.”
“You’ve never fit in anywhere.”
They both laughed bitterly at that and Souichirou said more with that atmosphere intact.
“It seems Nagoya…didn’t work out.”
“That Fourth Alarm, right? I’d placed some guards around the Hilton earlier just in case, so we have confirmed Nakamura Hisahide, Ikemaru Takahiro, and Aoi Hijiri are there. But there’s something odd about this.”
“One of the guests there is a girl named Takada…Kiyogi? Not sure how to read her name. And…word of this just reached me.”
Saki pulled out his attaché case and pulled the memo pad from inside it.
He opened it and read through it in a businesslike manner.
“According to the scout unit, the Nagoya Chancellor and the Tokyoites entered the Hilton together at 16:23, but they had a little something extra.”
Saki scratched his head at Souichirou’s question.
“Hizaka Shoui. He was apparently unconscious and being carried, so I bet he was caught in the middle of something. What should we do? We could always break in on the pretext of saving Hizaka.”
“I leave that decision in your hands. For today, I’m only thinking about my personal actions.”
Souichirou continued facing the working students and never once turned toward Saki.
“But…the Shinkage Style is here, is it?”
“What? I’d heard the Modified Purple Electricity Style passed down by your family includes the Kage Style, so is there a connection there?”
“Yes. …This means a bond from before my birth has returned to Osaka. I will tell you the details eventually.”
He still did not face Saki.
“Well, even if the Shinkage Style is here, at least there won’t be an ogre this time,” said Saki.
Souichirou moved slightly.
“That celebration up above is such an empty farce. They will be pressing Ixolde’s remote activation button, but how many of them know that button is a dummy?”
“I wonder what moron’s gonna press that button without knowing a thing.”
“I have no interest, but I’m sure Iwai Sanzou would know.”
“If they actually thought about it, they’d be able to figure it out. Live acceleration requires both timing and personnel, so they’d never give it a remote control like that.”
“The gathered sound will be sealed in the MD located inside the unmanned refinery at the central pocket in the deepest part of Ixolde. Only after eliminating as much as possible will it be automatically placed in storage.”
Souichirou repeated the same words he had heard in the underground operating room the day before.
Saki rested his head in his hand.
“The storage room is in the center of Ixolde. You can’t get there without going through the emergency passageway in front of the operating room unless you dug a new hole in the schoolyard. And where else could they hope to steal that strongest Rhythm from?”
“The only other option is the central pocket three hundred meters below ground.”
Saki sighed at Souichirou’s words and looked to the Babel Gun visible from the control room’s window.
“Ixolde’s a tricky thing.”
“From Tokyo’s perspective, the only damage will be to Kansai if they can steal the strongest Rhythm and return triumphant to Nagoya.”
“And if they defeat you, Kansai will lose its cornerstone.”
Souichirou finally turned to face Saki.
“Sorry. I’m going to graduate soon, and I had hoped to end my term uneventfully.”
“Don’t be like that. I’ll follow you for life.”
A quiet laugh rang emptily in the air.
“This is probably our last festival before graduation.”
“I need to make sure I am not burned,” said Souichirou quietly. “I do not want to be the festival bonfire.”
With that, he turned around to face the automatic door out of the control room.
“I’ll be waiting in the lobby, Seiji.”
“Huh? You aren’t going to watch the gathering of the sound?”
“This will soon be a holy ground meant only for those who have put in so much work here.”
Saki nodded and sighed.
The two boys left everything to those who belonged there and exited the room to prepare for battle.
Osaka was bright and busy on the surface, but there were a few differences below the surface.
First, it was pitch black as no light could get in.
Second, water calmly flowed through the sewers.
Those two things were always true below Osaka’s surface, but at the moment, something much like the surface was running through below the surface: noise.
“What’s with this salty-smellin’ sewage!? It’s up to my ankles.”
“They sent out some guards, so we had no other choice. Besides, my shoes are just as soaked!”
“Yer shoes don’t cost nearly as much as mine, ya moron!”
“Ah? Cost? How much could they possibly cost!?”
“79.8 thousand yen.”
“…Okay, I can see why you’re mad.”
“See?” Taeko sighed in the darkness. “But are ya sure yer ready? I know that glasses guy was real busy, but still.”
“Yes, Ikemaru was teaching me how to use his charms and the Discord Bombs.”
“Are you really gettin’ in to Ixolde from below ground?”
“According to the map Ikemaru had, I need to break down the wall two hundred meters ahead.”
“And meanwhile, I create a diversion on the surface? Ya sure ya trust me enough for that? I might betray ya for Osaka.”
“I don’t mind if you do. Once I have the Flame High, no one stands a chance against me. Not Nagoya and not Osaka.”
“Hey,” said Taeko. “What’s yer connection with that guy from the Mountain who knew a lot about this sewer’s structure?”
“Ya don’t have to answer if ya don’t want to.”
“Iba was my sister’s boyfriend’s friend.”
“Yeah. My sister and her boyfriend died after they were betrayed by their teacher, but Iba survived.” Hisahide’s voice rang in the darkness. “I think Iba might have had feelings for my-…”
He trailed off and his footsteps came to a stop.
“What is it?”
“Look up ahead.”
His voice and focus were directed toward the shadows of some metal bars in the darkness.
They were arranged like a window lattice and they ran from the ceiling to the floor to block the two students’ way.
“According to Iba, these have a high-voltage current running through them. Removing them will sound the alarm…but your Eighth Dragon Emperor should be able to neutralize that with its lightning attack. Try ignoring the current and bending one of the bars.”
“…You make it sound easy.”
The Dragon Emperor could be heard powering up.
“Dragon Emperor, release protection on the Third Activation.”
Before she had even finished speaking, the armor panel on the Dragon Emperor’s shoulder opened slightly and expelled white smoke and light.
The sewer grew bright and their silhouettes covered the wall as shadows.
A low, heavy noise slowly but surely sounded from the Dragon Emperor with a pulse-like Tempo.
That was the roar of the Lightning High. It was the sound preferred by the lightning dragon.
The sewer wall trembled and the roar of thunder raced along below Osaka’s surface.
Hisahide spoke even as his voice was drowned out.
“I’d heard the Dragon Emperor is a false arm that only activates once a dragon eye has been placed inside it.”
“That’s right. The dragon’s armor is emperor-class and there are eight right and left pairs. Each of them has the power of a dragon inside.”
“Is it alive?”
“Want to test it out? Not even I have taken it to the final activation needed to wake it up.”
“Please don’t. …There’s no point in destroying half the city here, and that’s what I’ve heard the other Dragon Emperors did.”
Taeko grabbed the metal bars with the Dragon Emperor’s fist and white smoke rose from between the metal claws and metal bars.
“Hold on. Are you sure you’re okay there?”
“It’s just the rubber on the palm melting. …There.”
—Taeko – Boxing Tech – Take – Brute Force – Hit.
The metal bars bent quite a bit, creating a low sound like a root being pulled from the dirt.
A moment later, the bars and their frame came out as the Dragon Emperor’s fist held them.
In the pale light of the Dragon Emperor, Taeko looked back and forth between its shoulder and the bars.
“Did ya say removin’ it would sound the alarm?”
“You idiot!? Wh-what did you do!?”
“Well, I broke it…and it broke.”
“You’ve ruined all the worked we’ve been doing here!”
“I didn’t mean to, though. Ha ha ha.”
“This is no laughing matter!”
“Calm down, calm down. Don’t panic. I’ve just gotta create a diversion on the surface while ya head straight there, right?”
Taeko held the metal bars out toward Hisahide.
“So what should I do with these?”
He did not hesitate to answer.
“Throw them away, idiot!”
The first thing Shoui saw when he opened his eyes was a brown shadow.
His eyes focused on that brown color instead of the dimly-lit space around him.
Finally, he could tell what it was: a Dog God.
The small, foxlike animal was resting on Shoui’s chest as he lay on his back.
He was also staring curiously at the boy’s face.
“You don’t need to worry.”
The words came from the Dog God’s mouth rather than his own.
He placed a hand on his throat and felt the bandages there.
He still could not speak.
“I can’t believe this.”
After having the Dog God say that, he looked in a different direction.
His focus shifted and the ceiling came into view.
It was an expensive-looking ceiling with a pattern drawn in warm colors.
It was both high and large.
“Is this a mansion or something?”
“No, it’s a hotel.”
He turned toward that male voice.
He removed the blanket placed over his chest and the Dog God quickly hopped over to his shoulder.
Shoui looked to the speaker while feeling the Dog God’s claws through his thin innerwear.
A Buddhist monk sat cross-legged on the twin bed next to the one Shoui was lying on.
Shoui recognized the monk outfit as the kind worn at the Mountain.
The man wearing it had folded up the bed’s blanket and sat on the flat sheet.
A tray on the sheet held a glass and a rectangular bottle of whisky.
The glass only contained some damp ice, so he had apparently already drank the contents.
But Shoui looked to the man without paying that any heed.
The short man had not sunk into the bed at all, so he was lighter than he seemed.
When Shoui started to get up, the man held out a hand and gestured to the boy’s feet with his chin.
Shoui looked down and found Takada lying on the bed.
She had removed her stole, the blanket by his feet was placed over her, and her eyes were closed.
He saw a ring on the hand gripping the top of the blanket.
It was an unadorned golden ring.
He tilted his head at the glittering ring of unknown origin, but then he noticed some small movement.
It was Takada’s Dog God.
The creature ran up onto her back and hesitantly looked between Shoui and the man’s gazes.
The one on Shoui’s shoulder replied with a quiet voice reminiscent of a creaking door.
“It seems Takada and the Dog God have taken a liking to you,” said the man.
“Is that so?”
“To be honest, this is a problem.”
“Is she your daughter?”
“Of course not.”
“That Takada girl is destined to become the queen.”
Shoui stared at the monk when he heard that.
His mouth remained closed, but…
“Talk about sticking with the classics. Don’t tell me you’re seriou-… Don’t say it! Not now!”
“I do not mind.”
“Oh, that’s luck-… Stop that!”
“I see the Dog God is reading all of your thoughts.”
“Yeah, and it’s not exactly fun. Can’t you stop it?”
“This is the first time the Dog God has naturally taken a liking to anyone other than Takada, so there is nothing I could do.”
“Is that so?”
Shoui shrugged and lay down on his side.
He made sure not to wake Takada as he adjusted his position and sighed while propping his head up with his hand.
“So what’s going to happen to me here?”
“It seems Nakamura can become the king with you here.”
“If what he said is true, then he is the one that kicked you in Osaka Prefectural #2’s student dorm.”
“Oh, the guy who crushed my throat.”
The man frowned a little at that.
“Yeah, he kicked it. Got a nice solid blow from directly below.”
“It’s unusual for Nakamura to miss.”
“Miss? …Where was he trying to hit me?”
“When going for the face, he was trained to hit the side of the head here or the jaw.”
“If I took that kick to the jaw, I think I’d have lost about five teeth.”
“It was an additional attack meant to keep you from speaking, so the end result was little different. Still, allow me to apologize in place of my student.”
The man obediently bowed.
Shoui was impressed that the man still did not sink into the bed even when he moved.
“Who are you?”
“Yuuki Senga hasn’t told you? I used to train under her.”
“Oh, so I was kind of following in your footsteps. Sorry. …It’s only been three days since I came down from the Mountain, so I still haven’t been by Nandaimon.”
“But I had heard the boy named Hizaka Shoui was Nandaimon’s protégé.”
“That may have been true two years ago.” He laughed bitterly. “I trained at the Mountain for two years and still didn’t become a Chancellor. I haven’t figured out how to face her when I go back.”
“Two years? Has Yuuki Senga had anything to say about that?”
“Like I said, I haven’t seen her. She hasn’t come to say anything to me either, so I feel like I missed my timing.”
“I see. Then…”
The man crossed his arms for a few seconds.
“You may have been lucky to be so talentless.”
“I assume you know Yuuki Senga used to be a head teacher at the Mountain.”
“But I doubt you know that she traveled around Japan thirteen years ago, creating Chancellors as she did so. She created Chancellors who could use the Heavy Rhythms that have since become Death Techno.”
“Thirteen years ago?”
“Yes, the same year as the Kinki Riot that began as a sports riot after the Koshien game went into extra innings.”
The man pushed back his right sleeve to show off the arm.
The entire right arm was covered in keloids.
Shoui gasped and the man continued.
“As we fought each other, something seemed wrong. I began to worry over why we were fighting. And…”
“After the third death, when the Heavy Rhythms began to be feared, I realized that we had been placed on the path to conflict.”
He covered his arm with the sleeve once more.
“Yuuki Senga tried to seal away the Heavy Rhythms that the world viewed as dangerous and she tried to suppress that age in which student conflicts were frequent. To do so, she taught the Chancellors supporting Japan how to use the Heavy Rhythms and had them fight.”
“I am not.”
“Do you have any proof?”
Shoui laughed quietly at the man’s silence.
“Not even Old Lady Senga could manipulate people’s hearts to that extent. Besides, the sports riot that began the Kinki Riot wasn’t faked. It was a natural incident caused by the cheering squad. She couldn’t have interfered in that.”
“Then why did I alone survive?” asked the man. “We realized our mistake and wished to settle our differences, but our surroundings did not allow it. Most notably, the Mountain. …The Tokyo Chancellor and Osaka Chancellor were driven to death by the Mountain and the corporations.”
“They were pursued by the private army of the corporations that feared the Heavy Rhythms…and they were surrounded by the special forces of the Mountain led by Yuuki Senga.”
“That was when my Words changed.”
The man breathed a deep and heavy sigh.
At the same time, he sank cross-legged into the bed.
His head was still hanging.
“Dis-Worder, it was only Chancellors with special abilities like yours that Yuuki Senga taught to use the Heavy Rhythms.”
“Eh?” asked Shoui.
He recalled what Saki had said on the roof the other night.
“There was once a boy who had no Words. He brought misfortune to Osaka and died…”
“You heard that from the 1st Special Duty Officer of Osaka’s Chancellor’s Officers, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” confirmed Shoui. “The 1st Special Duty Officer at the time was his friend. And his Words…”
He looked to the monk, but the man did not raise his head.
His shoulders shook a little but there was a small smile on his downturned face.
He was laughing.
“Yes, this hand is all that remains. …This hand that, at the end of it all, could not defend against Yuuki Senga’s spear and allowed those two to kill each other!”
Shoui was left speechless.
“Do not worry. You were kicked out of the Mountain, so they must have decided you cannot use a Heavy Rhythm. Even if it took them two years to do so.”
“Why would they want to have me use a Heavy Rhythm?”
“Because of what I said.”
The Dog God on Shoui’s shoulder expressed his confusion by tilting its head.
The monk raised his head with a powerful smile on his face.
—Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Decode Expression – Miss!
The expression was too powerful to read.
A chill ran down his spine and the Dog God hid behind his head.
“I said I would create someone who could use a Heavy Rhythm, so Yuuki Senga attempted to create someone to oppose them.”
“You still do not understand? Think carefully. It is not just you. Her granddaughter is the same.” The man took a breath. “Remember this, boy. While Yuuki Senga erased all kings and split Japan between east and west, I intend to create a king and reunite Japan once more. …She does not like it, though.”
“Doesn’t like it? …And that’s why she made Yuuki like that?”
“Yes, the Killing Holder. …She mentally trained up her own granddaughter after the girl killed someone. I assume she did so once she realized she could not rely on you.”
Shoui silently removed his head from his hand and lay down on the bed.
“Ahh, ahh,” he sighed. “So it’s all my fault.”
“I don’t think it is,” said Takada’s voice without warning.
Shoui froze in place on the bed.
“Don’t be so mean, Iba-sensei,” said her voice. “I’ve been listening, and you make it sound like Shoui-san caused all this.”
“No, I was saying Yuuki Senga had-…”
“Shoui-san trusts this Yuuki person.”
The man named Iba fell silent at that.
Shoui realized the weight of Takada’s arms had left his legs, so he got up.
He saw her smiling.
It felt like the room’s dim light was illuminating only that smile.
He scratched at and tilted his head.
“I feel like these past few days have been the busiest in my life. Everyone who shows up says whatever they want and I’m faced with these huge revelations on a daily basis.”
“You are probably working through two years’ worth of truths and obligations,” said the Dog God on Takada’s shoulder.
Shoui nodded and the man to his right cleared his throat.
“Takada, I need to get going soon.”
“Oh, you’re causing a diversion in the city, right? From underground.”
“I really should have gone with the other two…but I wanted to speak with Yuuki Senga’s current student.”
Shoui tilted his head at that.
“Um, what are you two talking about?”
“We’re stealing the strongest Rhythm from Ixolde.”
Takada sounded entirely casual as she clasped her hands and stretched a little.
Shoui’s head dropped forward.
“You understand the situation, don’t you? We’re from Tokyo’s Chancellor’s Officers. Since Osaka creating the strongest Rhythm would be a threat, we’re going to steal it.”
“Um… This is kind of sudden.”
“Don’t worry. We aren’t making the attack. We’re only creating a diversion.”
“Attack? Diversion? I’m hearing a lot here that makes me worry.”
“You don’t have to worry because you have time to figure it all out. …The diversion team doesn’t have to start moving until the attack team has made their attack and escaped. We still have plenty of time.”
“Please understand your position here. If you do, nothing like the Kinki Riot will happen. That misfortune only occurred because there was no one to worry about who they were.”
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