City Series:Volume4a Chapter 3
Chapter 3: A New Movement (Character Introduction)
The winter night was growing late and a sandy wind passed below the moonlight.
That wind blew above the desert known as the Altered Line that covered northern Nagoya.
It danced freely through the sky.
A large bridge crossed the sky as if following the wind.
The long, straight bridge was located several kilometers above the ground.
The giant bridge cast its shadow on the vast sea of sand below and it had a certain name: New Route 155.
The ultra elevated bridge crossed the region of desert covering northern Nagoya.
The moon had risen directly above New Route 155.
The elevated bridge cast its shadow in that moonlight and a four-track freight railroad traveled east to west across it.
Currently, two men faced each other on the track leading to the Nagoya region.
Standing on the west was a large boy with two false arms and a sleeveless school uniform.
Standing on the east was a boy with short-cut hair and a red mountain hoodie.
They were both students.
They both had their legs spread wide across the railroad track.
A powerful silence ruled the region.
Tension itself seemed to float around them.
Something like uncontainable murderous intent surrounded the area with a low Tempo.
That Tempo could only be broken by new words and the first to open his mouth was the large boy.
“To think you would use 155 to try to sneak into the Nagoya region.”
His low voice elicited a confident bend of the eyebrows and a bitter smile from the other boy.
“If we hadn’t been questioned at Inuyama Station, we could have gotten through without having to pass over the Altered Line. I didn’t think they would bother with an inspection for a night train.”
“I had heard Inuyama was caught in a battle …Supposedly, they were faced with a giant wolf-like beast and someone immune to all attacks.”
“We’re all pretty much demons, so you all don’t stand a chance. …Nagoya got the short end of the stick on this one.”
“Nonsense. …Ever since the Kinki Riot, Nagoya has never met anything we could not eliminate at this east-west gate.”
“So you take a neutral stance in combat? Interesting. Now, I know your Vice Chancellor from two years ago tried to side with Tokyo, but I hear he was killed by the Koto Chancellor. So which side will you choose now?”
The large boy responded by holding his false hands forward.
“I would prefer to know what you’re thinking, Tokyo Chancellor Nakamura Hisahide.”
“Oh? I’d thought student information on the east wasn’t getting to the west and vice versa, but it looks like I’m more famous than I thought.”
“Nagoya stands at the center between east and west. The information reaches us.” He continued. “We know that you won East Japan’s Student Karate Openweight Championship despite being a middleweight with no prosthetics and not using a Rhythm. And that you are a problem student who has not once appeared as East Japan’s representative for the thrice a year World Student Conference.”
“Ha ha. That’s how you see me? Damn, I’m cool.”
“What are you thinking? You may be a problem student, but you are still Tokyo’s Chancellor. Why would the representative of East Japan break the world-regulated school rules by traveling west?”
“That’s simple. My sister is calling me.”
“That’s right. My sister said goodbye during the Kinki Riot thirteen years ago.” He took a breath. “And my final connection to her is in that city.”
He resumed a forward-and-back stride while raising his arms in preparation.
He spread his right hand, looked at the silver ring on the middle finger, and asked a question.
“I know all about you too. You’re the winner of West Japan’s Student Karate Openweight Championship and you’re Nagoya Vice Chancellor. You’re Ichiyama Yuusei the Zapper, aren’t you?”
“…So we are about to determine who is Japan’s greatest student karate fighter, are we?”
“The greatest student karate fighter? That’s not what this is about.”
“The fight I am about to begin is the war to become king.”
Hisahide began to sing.
A red flower blooms in the darkness
An empty party begins in strength
A human heart flows into nothingness
- A soldier saves the king
- A woman becomes the queen
- A sage reminisces
- Run down another’s path without looking
- Choose your own path and sprint
- The true path lies in the future
Despite the song, he showed no hint of using a Rhythm’s power.
“Was that song not the Words needed to use a Rhythm?” asked Ichiyama.
“For now, it’s nothing but a prophecy.”
“When I do use that song as my Words, then I will become king, just as the lyrics say.”
He took a breath.
“I will become a king who can only choose the future.”
His fantastical words brought a brief frown to Ichiyama’s face.
A moment later, Hisahide began to run forward.
“You aren’t blocking my way!”
With that shout, he won the initiative.
Ichiyama Yuusei was calm.
He successfully used several reactive Techs that did not require initiative.
—Ichiyama – Steel Tech – Take – Activate False Eye “Akashi” – Hit.
- —Ichiyama – Steel Tech – Take – Activate Reinforced Organs – Hit.
- —Ichiyama – Steel Tech – Take – Cut Prosthetics Limiter – Hit.
- —Ichiyama – Steel Tech – Take – Activate Internal Rhythm “Explosion High” – Hit.
By the time Hisahide got close, the steam of activation blew from both false arms.
The power of Ishiyama’s false eyes allowed him to ignore the darkness of the night.
Losing the initiative was the only way he was at any disadvantage.
Hisahide quickly reached him and threw a kick.
He rotated his compactly bent knee. Rather than a karate roundhouse kick, this kick focused on speed and aim as in Muay Thai.
…There’s nothing much of note. Is he testing me?
Ichiyama had faced countless people with kicks at this level.
—Ichiyama – Dodge Tech – Take – Sway Back – Hit.
After confirming that his opponent was neatly rotating on the heel of his pivot leg, he bent his upper body back to escape the path of the kick.
Or he should have.
The strike from the armored hit pointer attached to Hisahide’s white sneakers scored a solid blow on the side of Ichiyama’s broad jaw.
With a dull sound of impact, Ichiyama’s large body floated up into the air.
…What just happened!?
He had successfully dodged with his Tech.
…So why did the kick still hit me?
—Ichiyama – Gym Tech – Take – Stabilize – Hit!
Using a sway back to dodge had been a stroke of good luck. If he had ducked, he would have been hit by a counter.
The kick had been stronger than it looked.
—Ichiyama – Steel Tech – Take – Control False Eye “Akashi” – Miss.
The impact had removed the effects of his false eyes.
With the power of Akashi gone, Hisahide had suddenly become a mere silhouette as he rushed further forward.
Ichiyama was at a disadvantage.
However, he did not rely on the power of his false eyes. He instead worked to solve the mystery of how his opponent had broken his Dodge Tech.
…It would be dangerous not to take this seriously.
With a metallic flavor in his mouth, he sang his Words.
In the cold, still air
The force that disturbs the field via destruction
Is born of a grand power
That song caused his arms to explode.
This was the Explosion High Rhythm.
A series of explosions resided in the fists of his false arms.
The ether floating in the air was not transformed into gunpowder or fuel. It was transformed into pure impacts and explosions.
A roar came from each fist.
The destructive power of an impact from them was at its highest level.
If his opponent blocked, their arm would be blown off and a solid hit would blow them away altogether.
—Ichiyama – Explosion High/Boxing Tech – Multiple Take – Consecutive Attacks – Hit.
The pistons of his false arms began to run, giving him complete control over both straight and curved motions.
With the limiters cut and with the reinforced organs contained within his body to endure the extreme movement, he could pull off a barrage of twelve hits a second.
His Boxing Tech had succeeded, so if Hisahide’s Dodge Tech failed…
“Is that all you’ve got?”
Nakamura Hisahide did not even use a Tech.
He simply danced into Ichiyama’s storm of fists as if nothing was happening at all.
…Is he insane!?
Despite Ichiyama’s question, his fists never hit his opponent.
Hisahide avoided all of the attacks as if bending his body in a dance.
He bent forward, right, left, forward, and back.
Even as the bottom of his mountain hoodie was torn by the explosions, he slowly walked forward.
There was no hint of excitement or worry on his face.
Even a grazing hit from the Explosion High Rhythm would blow someone away, so people were normally filled with fear.
The Explosion High Rhythm briefly slowed, so Ichiyama frantically opened his mouth to send the Rhythm’s Message to his body.
“That’s not going to help.”
With those words, Hisahide arrived right in front of Ichiyama.
His clothing was torn up, but he himself was completely unharmed.
Ichiyama came to a stop when he saw it, but Hisahide took action.
While standing right in front of Ichiyama, he thrust his knee up to chest height and threw a kick.
His lower leg drew a swift sideways arc and his toes flew toward Ichiyama’s jaw.
This kick required great flexibility.
A belated chill ran down Ichiyama’s spine.
His response was entirely powered by instinct.
He tried to block the kick from below using his Explosion High fist.
—Ichiyama – Dodge/Boxing Tech – Take – Block – Hit!
Instead of dodging, he defended. He would take a good bit of damage, but the technique was guaranteed to succeed unless his opponent’s attack failed. After all, he was using the Explosion High Rhythm.
Hisahide would not escape this unscathed.
However, that assumption was completely overturned when the kick struck his jaw from directly below.
He did not understand.
He had never heard of an attack that could slip past an absolute defense.
…What’s going on?
He truly did not understand, but he did know two things: First, he was collapsing backwards.
And second, Hisahide’s right heel was swinging down toward his face like a battle axe.
His consciousness cut out almost immediately.
Kasumi Ryuuichi was 1st Special Duty Officer of Nagoya’s Chancellor’s Officers and his primary duty was to relay intelligence.
But at the moment, he had abandoned that duty to instead face an opponent on a bridge passing through the mountains.
The moonlight seemed to drip down on top of Kasumi as he faced an opponent who wore a white blouson, jeans, and a shirt around their waist for defense.
Kasumi focused on the somewhat androgynous face of this opponent who held a long hexagonal rod.
He nodded and looked around the area.
He saw the moonlit mountains and river. This was the Kagamihara Mountain Range located between Nagoya and Gifu.
He had been trying to carry his intelligence to the Kansai region while avoiding the intense fighting on New Route 155 which would have taken him from Inuyama Station to the Nagoya region.
…The West Japan Chancellors are holding a meeting about Ixolde in Kansai.
He had intended to escape and use a direct line of communication in Gifu, but the enemy had caught up.
Speed was his main selling point as 1st Special Duty Officer, but someone had caught up from behind.
He pulled a memo pad from the attaché case he held under one arm and placed it in his pocket. That memo pad was special made in the Mountain and carried by any 1st Special Duty Officer. It contained the information left behind by the previous holders of that position.
…I can’t let it fall into enemy hands.
The attaché case would only be a burden during a fight, so he threw it down on the road.
He took a deep breath, pulled headphones from his pocket, and switched the MD on.
He raised the volume to an Octave of 160,000 and sent his main weapons from his sleeve and into his hands. They were dart knives.
He held one, two, three, and then four between the fingers of both hands.
—Kasumi – Hear Tech – Auto-Take – Listen – Hit.
He heard a freight train.
It was probably transporting lime or something.
But he did not panic.
Only one track crossed this bridge.
That straight-line layout was ideal for a knife-thrower like him.
He prepared to throw and waited for his opponent to make their move.
He gently tensed his body with his hips lowered.
Before throwing, he would gather strength in his entire body rather than just his arms, so he needed to release that tension like a spring.
His hands sank into the opposite pockets and his eyes focused on his opponent.
That opponent gave him a disinterested look with the hexagonal rod sill in her right hand.
Then her lips moved to form a question.
“Out of respect to a fellow warrior, I will ask your name.”
“…And if I don’t tell you?”
“You will be a loser who I don’t even bother remembering. That’s all.”
“And If I win? What then?”
“Don’t worry. You’ll lose.”
With that cheerful answer, she gave a jerk of her chin to demand he answer.
Kasumi smiled bitterly as he complied.
“Nagoya 1st Special Duty Officer Kasumi Ryuuichi. My Dance Combat is the Secret Five Families Style.”
She nodded and responded in kind.
“Tokyo Vice Chancellor Aoi Hijiri. My Dance Combat is the Shinkage Style.”
Kasumi frowned at the region she mentioned.
“Tokyo!? Are you invading Kantou!?”
“Does it matter? For this fight anyway? More importantly…”
“I have two questions. To start with…have you ever been to Osaka?”
“I’ve heard there are cherry trees that bloom even in winter there. I’m searching for them.”
“Someone from Tokyo is interested in Osaka’s cherry blossoms?”
“If you don’t know, that’s fine.” She took a breath. “My other question is about Osaka’s Chancellor who uses the Modified Purple Electricity Style which includes the Kage Style. …How strong is he?”
“Haven’t you heard he defeated an ogre that appeared in Osaka two years ago?”
“An ogre, hm?”
Her response was terribly calm.
To make sure Kasumi did not have a chance to attack, she remained in her combat stance as she sighed.
…Cherry trees that bloom in winter and Osaka’s Chancellor? There’s something more to this Vice Chancellor of Zenon City Tokyo.
Kasumi’s thoughts were cut off by the sound of the freight train.
It had grown a lot louder, it came from behind him, and it was surprisingly close by.
“I need to get this intelligence through no matter what.”
With that, the back of his tensed body swelled out.
He stopped breathing and everything else stopped too.
Then, it all suddenly exploded.
His left hand shot up.
It moved too quickly for the average person to see.
—Kasumi – Draw Tech –Take – Rapid Throw – Hit!
Four silver lines raced through the air.
He was aiming below the enemy’s collarbone, below her chest, at her hip, and at her thigh. The locations drew a vertical line down her right half.
Aoi Hijiri responded with a vertical swing of the hexagonal rod in her right hand.
As the metal rod covered her vitals, four knives stabbed into it up to the hilt.
The four nearly identical sounds seemed to pierce straight through Kasumi and brought a chill to his skin.
Aoi started forward after catching the knives, but that was when Kasumi’s right arm shot upwards.
“It’s still my phase!”
As he pulled his right hand from his left pocket, it was wrapped in ether light.
He was adding in his Rhythm.
—Kasumi – Draw Tech – Take – Rapid Throw – Hit!
The knives were wrapped in ether light this time.
They were aimed at Aoi’s left side, making it a mirror image of the previous attack.
Her right hand had stopped after the previous movement and she could not yet move again thanks to the impact and weight of the knives remaining in the hexagonal rod.
Instead, she moved her left hand.
To Kasumi, it looked like she turned diagonally and held her left arm at her waist.
He smiled a little.
…Don’t think you can dodge my attack by turning to the side.
With that thought, he recited his Words.
He jumped straight to the climax.
Beyond the farthest reaches of time
Beyond the most distant lands
Where power becomes a harmony of destruction
—Kasumi – Explosion High/Mind Tech – Multiple-Take – Remote Control – Hit!
The ether wrapped around the back of the four knives became explosions.
A quartet of bursting sounds followed
The path of the four silver lines changed like ricocheting bullets.
But their angle was not all that changed. Their speed also increased considerably.
They had been given the kinetic energy of both the throw and the explosions.
Aoi’s expression changed.
She could not follow the changed path of the knives with her eyes.
One flew toward her throat, two toward her right chest, and one toward her solar plexus.
Even if both her arms were metal prosthetics, she could not fully cover that complex intersection of attacks.
…There’s nothing she can do!
But her left arm demonstrated its opposition to that thought.
That arm was much slower than the flying knives, but a portion of it still brushed against the four knives as it made a flowing forward motion.
That settled it all.
The four knives fell to the ground.
Kasumi watched in a daze.
He understood what had happened.
He had seen it with his own eyes.
First, Aoi’s left hand had shot forward while drawing an outward-facing spiral.
At the end of the jab, her palm was facing upwards.
By then, the knives should have reached her body, but they had changed direction again.
They seemed to have been swallowed up by the spiraling motion of her left arm. They were like branches caught in whirlpool. It had only lasted an instant, but they had clearly swam along with the motion of her left hand and then been deflected.
He could see a large outward-facing wrinkle in the left sleeve of her blouson.
He did not know what kind of power it was or even if it came from within or without, but a great power had created a current there to apply a twist to the straight movement of the knives.
…What was that?
A simple touch had caused the blades to fall despite each one flying in from a different direction.
She was entirely unharmed.
…What was that!?
No one answered his question.
Meanwhile, Aoi silently spun the hexagonal rod in her right hand.
She pointed the grip toward Kasumi so the knives stabbed into it were closer to her.
She grabbed the hilt of the topmost knife and slowly pulled it out.
With a sound that brought a chill to his teeth and she held the knife’s long hilt in her slender fingers.
Ether light glowed in her hand and her lips parted.
She produced upbeat drum and bass Words.
Beyond the farthest reaches of time
Beyond the most distant lands
Where power becomes a harmony of destruction
That was Kasumi’s song.
She did not have an MD. She simply uttered the Words from her own mouth.
She ignored his confusion.
—Aoi – Draw Tech – Take – Rapid Throw – Hit!
The knife moved swiftly but horribly silently.
Its speed as it flew straight toward his chest filled him with vivid fear.
—Kasumi – Mind Tech – Take – Emotional Control – Miss!
- —Kasumi – Gym/Dodge Tech – Multiple Take – Leaping Dodge – Hit!
As soon as he took a large jump backwards, Aoi jabbed her metal rod into the railroad crossing the bridge.
A solid sound rang out.
—Aoi – Explosion High –Take – Remote Control – Hit!
An explosion suddenly appeared on the back of the knife and it ricocheted.
Before Kasumi could feel surprise, the knife stabbed into his left leg.
It plunged deep into the limb.
His voice of question was accompanied by pain racing through his brain.
She had definitely used his techniques and Words.
The force of the throw, that way of using the Explosion High, the intensity of the blast, and the Words that should only have belonged to him were no different from what he had used.
…What is going on!?
“You deflected all my attacks…and copied them…?”
The answer to his question contained an overwhelming meaning.
“I surpass you.”
He tried to oppose her words, but his voice of protest would not come.
Instead, the pain from the knife in his leg brought a scream.
And that voice was answered by a steam whistle behind him.
A mechanical roar and artificial light washed over him from behind.
The freight train was rushing toward his back as he crouched at the edge of the bridge.
The tracks shook and let out a metallic groan to tell him of the great weight approaching.
With his leg injured, he had no way of avoiding the train.
“Do I really have to go to the trouble?”
With that question, he heard Aoi sigh right by his ear.
By the time he saw her graceful face in front of him, she had already grabbed his collar.
“What are you doing!?” he asked in utter fear.
“The loser doesn’t get to speak.”
With that, she threw him into the river below.
A cry of terror and surprise escaped his throat.
As he flew through the air, the metal bumper of the freight train’s first car grazed his feet.
That first car continued on and passed through the position Aoi had stood in.
It had hit her.
He could not imagine any other outcome, yet he was confident that girl who claimed to be Tokyo’s Vice Chancellor had not been hit.
A beat later, he fell into the winter river and broke through the surface.
He sank deep into the chilly water.
A new figure appeared on New Route 155 where the Tokyo Chancellor and Nagoya Vice Chancellor had fought. Five minutes had passed since the fight ended.
A tall, skinny boy in a first-class three-piece suit took long strides to catch up to the boy in a red mountain hoodie.
The long scarf draped over his shoulders blew in the night wind as he spoke.
“Nagoya’s Vice Chancellor was on the ground back there. Did you kill him?”
Hisahide shrugged and shook his head at the sharp question.
“It isn’t easy with just my hands and feet. I can’t pull off a one-hit kill.”
“That is the weakness of White Noise. Although that talent does allow you to use silence to ignore Techs and Rhythms that are programmed using the flow of Lives.”
He pulled rectangular glasses from his suit’s breast pocket and placed them on his nose.
“I doubt Nagoya thought someone like that could actually exist. According to legend, I believe the last Harmonist existed thirteen years ago.”
“As the Kinki Riot continued to intensify over the course of a year, two Chancellors personally brought it to an end: Osaka Chancellor Kuki Udai and Tokyo Chancellor-…”
“And the only one who can follow in their footsteps is you, Nakamura Hisahide.”
When the tall boy interrupted, Hisahide nodded, smiled bitterly, and looked at the silver ring on his right hand.
“And yet I used to be called worse than a Dis-Worder because I couldn’t use Techs or Rhythms.”
“Yes, even a one-in-a-million Dis-Worder can apparently use Over Rhythms and Techs.”
“It’s like the Ugly Duckling. After all, that turned out to be a shortcut to being the strongest.”
“…The strongest, hm? To think the key to unifying east and west was strength.”
The boy stroked the scarf that floated around him like the legendary hagoromo of a tennin and Hisahide smiled bitterly.
“Ikemaru, where’s Aoi?”
“She is apparently dealing with a runner. She will meet up with us in Nagoya.”
“Hold on. So she isn’t with Takada?”
Ikemaru quietly nodded.
“Even if she is my cousin, it is not my job to look over that Dog God user.”
“So you ran on up here, leaving my future wife all on her own?”
“I did not run. I walked.”
Ikemaru ignored Hisahide’s bitter look as he continued.
“Besides, I doubt Takada Seigi of all people would want anything to do with you. She did give you a prophecy, though.”
“A prophecy, huh?” Hisahide nodded. “Have we finished all the preparations to make me king?”
Ikemaru used a hand wearing black leather gloves to pull two pieces of paper from his pocket.
They were charms.
“As Ikemaru Takahiro, future representative of the Ikemaru family, I have sealed two powerful kotodama. One is for Ixolde and the other…well, it will likely help you on your way back to Nagoya.”
“You couldn’t make it three?”
“I am traveling with you as an inspector, but helping that girl find what she is looking for matters more to me. …But don’t worry. You could even call the words inside these ‘excessive’.”
“So we have the two charms. That leaves an underground map and information on Ixolde. The former we can swipe from a government office, but what about the latter? The HQ for Osaka’s Chancellor’s Officers?”
“Most likely. And on the personnel front, Master Iba will be joining us later.”
“Now I’m worried. That old man should have no trouble getting into Osaka. But the person we really need here is Takada, so where is she? I haven’t seen her since you blew away the station’s roof back there.”
“The Dog God will protect her. I assume she’s helping heal the injured. I can hardly believe the way she thinks sometimes.”
“That’s because she’s pure. Unlike you.” Hisahide gave a deep sigh. “This has been a long story, but getting to Nagoya is something like the halfway point.”
“Who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t met Master Iba at the Mountain.”
“Three years ago, huh? Ikemaru, what were you doing back then?”
“Facing the death of that girl’s mother.”
“Don’t say that so casually. Aoi wouldn’t want that, would she?”
Hisahide turned around and started walking down New Route 155.
He resumed his journey to Nagoya.
“Let’s go, Ikemaru. We don’t need anything else in Nagoya. If possible, I want to regroup with Takada and Aoi there…and then we make our attack on Osaka.”
“You’re really doing it? You’re going to make yourself king? You’re going to crush Osaka as they build something as ridiculous as Ixolde?”
Hisahide answered with a nod and simply stated his own personal theory.
“There only needs to be one king.”
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