City Series:Volume4a Chapter 6
Chapter 6: The Battle Assembles (Background Information on Character Traits)
“Nagoya’s Chancellor’s Officers were?”
Taeko spoke to Souichirou with sirens blaring in the background.
Souichirou moved his thick head vertically while backlit by the lights of the Osaka Hilton hotel.
“I see,” muttered Taeko. “If the 1st Special Duty Officer was taken out, it makes sense that our special line wouldn’t get through.”
“Can you contact your family?”
“The Student Council must be restrictin’ the information. They didn’t know anything.”
“If both the current Chancellor and the Yamashita family that has held the Chancellor position generation after generation are unaware…this is a problem.”
Taeko did not even nod.
“Nagoya’s Student Council ain’t too fond of the Chancellor’s Officers. As the Turbulent City, our ability to fight gives us more influence.”
“So it seems. Is this an internal issue?”
“They’ll probably make some kind of decision by the time I get back from seein’ Ixolde. They’ll say they couldn’t contact me.”
Taeko gave a bitter smile of self-deprecation and slowly looked around.
They stood in front of the Osaka Hilton hotel as sirens blared. The sports car she had destroyed lay upside down in the road running by in front of Osaka Station.
“Anyway… To get back on topic, ya chased down the motorcycle that attacked ya, cut it down over there, and found it had no driver?”
“Yes. Just as I fired Kusanagi’s sword pressure, the driverless motorcycle tried to turn a corner. And after I destroyed it, I heard another commotion.”
“And ya showed up just in time to see the car I’d crushed, huh? …And they were both radio controlled?”
“I am having our Special Duty Officers check on that. They are asking a general aviation institute to go over all of the wireless signals for the area at that time. That will tell us if they were radio controlled or not.”
Souichirou crossed his false arms.
In front of their eyes, youths in school uniforms were frantically running around inspecting the scene and guiding traffic. They all wore armbands with the mark of Osaka’s Chancellor’s Officers.
Taeko commented on them.
“Osaka sure does follow the academy rules strictly. We just have all the adults and kids work together without much structure.”
Hearing that, Souichirou’s one eye turned to a single police car stopped on the road.
A single supervising officer was there.
“The academy rules guarantee a separation between the adults and children.”
“That started when a bunch of people died in a student conflict and the adults wanted to wash their hands of any responsibility for what the students did, right?”
“And now it has spread to the entire world…giving us this.”
Sirens filled the air and people ran about to direct traffic, inspect the scene, or question witnesses, but it was all being done by students from Souichirou and Taeko’s generation.
“This has the same unpleasant atmosphere as the ogre two years ago.”
“But from what I’d heard, ya beat that ogre in the end. And since ya’d cut off the ogre’s arm, it didn’t break down into its component Lives like the rest of it, so it’s stored in the Nandaimon Shrine.”
“But the price of victory was my arms, legs, and an eye.”
“Nothin’ wrong with that. Now ya’ve got nothin’ more to lose.”
Souichirou looked to Taeko’s left arm aka the Dragon Emperor.
“Was your false arm a choice?”
“Did you choose it of your own free will? That is, did you chop off your original arm for it?”
She smiled bitterly back at him.
“I had my reasons.”
“I am who I am now because of this arm. …Before getting it, there was one person I thought I could never forgive, but, well, now I feel like I could forgive them.”
“Have ya ever thought about killin’ someone?” Taeko’s bitter smile deepened. “If so, I’ll tell you.”
Souichirou said nothing.
He simply shrugged and looked up into the night sky as he listened as Taeko’s smile grew to a bitter laugh.
The moon floated there.
It was a bluish-white crescent moon.
…The moon looked a lot like this on that night.
As Shoui muttered those words in his heart, he had already closed his eyes and started sinking into darkness.
He was falling asleep.
He felt a strong wind blowing around him.
When he closed his eyes, he could only sense the wind, the noise, and the floor below him while he was surrounded in darkness.
His senses constantly informed him of his own body’s presence sprawled out on the floor.
His mind was looking at darkness.
If he did open his eyes, he would find himself on the roof of Osaka Prefectural #2’s student dorm building, but he did not do so.
There was something he had to remember on his own.
It had been worth cutting short his daily nighttime combat training.
This had been bothering him since the previous night.
This was another important memory besides the one of the pain that had become a phantom pain.
His vision was filled with darkness.
He gave himself over to this unimaginable darkness that he could only see by closing his eyes.
—Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Regulate – Hit.
He used some Techs.
—Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Release Memory – Hit.
The Tech vividly resurrected his memory.
7:14 PM (12/18/1993)
At that time three years before, Yuuki Yuuki had just been named the Koto Guardian and had the current Koto Chancellor’s recommendation for being the next Chancellor.
It was a cold and clear December night.
Shoui sat below the eaves of the Nandaimon Shrine’s detached room.
Yuuki sat next to him.
It was the usual situation.
He wore his training outfit of a black T-shirt and his school uniform pants.
She wore her vermilion and white shrine maiden outfit that acted as the Nandaimon Shrine’s uniform.
A night breeze blew through and Shoui spoke while facing forward.
“It’s been two weeks since you last visited me during my night training.”
Yuuki did not reply, but she did speak.
Her unemotional tone showed no hint of apology, but Shoui nodded.
“It’s not like you have a choice. Your grandmother was one of the best during the Showa era…”
“It’s because I’m from Nandaimon.”
“You were against it, weren’t you? You didn’t want me to become the Koto Guardian.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He sensed Yuuki turning to face him.
“My grandmother told me the day before yesterday.”
That led Shoui to slap his forehead and sigh.
“Why does she have to tell everyone about all the pathetic things I do?”
“She laughed and said there was a ‘kid’ who was afraid I would leave him.”
Shoui let out a sigh of resignation and collapsed onto his back.
He sprawled out on the floor.
…I can’t believe this.
He pulled his bandanna over his eyes to block his view.
With his vision gone, he was more sensitive to the presences around him.
He heard Yuuki speak without warning.
“It seems you were concerned for me, Shoui-kun.”
“Now that you’ve found out, it just makes me a worrier.”
He pulled his bandanna further down and sat up.
He sighed inside his personal darkness.
“I can’t believe this. Did you visit me to tell me that?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Really? This is complicated.”
“What makes it complicated?”
“Because I was glad.”
Shoui froze in place with his bandanna still covering his eyes, but she did not stop speaking there.
“Is it ‘pathetic’ to bring me happiness?”
—Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Emotional Control – Hit.
Shoui remained silent, so she asked about it.
“Why are you so silent all of a sudden? …Did I say something weird?”
“Yes, a little… How should I put it? You made me a just a little bit extremely surprised…somewhat.”
“What kind of surprise is that?”
He responded to the bitter smile in her voice.
“I never expected to hear you say that… As rude as that may be.”
“Should I have chosen my words more carefully?”
“It’s a problem.”
“I’d been keeping quiet because I knew you had become one of those people.”
“One of those people?”
He tried to maintain his silence but could not.
“You’ve become someone who can kill people.”
“You know why I have no Words, right? During the Kinki Riot…”
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“I’m afraid of seeing any relatives or people close to me as corpses.”
“I said you don’t have to tell me. I understand.”
A small tremor had entered his voice.
—Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Emotional Control – Miss.
Something like impatience pushed his thoughts forward and formed his next words.
“You couldn’t possibly understand… I was trapped in the darkness and had to make a friend of the nothingness…”
When he heard Yuuki’s voice, the night appeared before his eyes.
She had pushed up his bandanna.
As soon as he felt the night air on his cheeks, she turned his head toward her.
“You don’t cry like you used to when you talk about that.”
She wrapped her arms around his head and pulled him in from the side.
Confusion filled his mind and he closed his eyes so as not to look her in the eye.
As soon as he did, his head was carelessly pulled even closer.
And she kissed him.
Surprisingly, it was in a place he could not have seen even with his eyes open: the eyelid.
He felt a light sucking sensation on his eye.
Her glasses tapped against his forehead through the bandanna.
Naturally, neither of them said anything. Enough time passed for a few breaths, but neither of them took a single one.
After that span of time that felt both long and short, she removed her lips.
She embraced him and he kept his eyes closed.
But a slight impatience filled him and he reached for her butt to change the mood.
Normally, she would have moved out of the way and lightly scolded him.
If she would escape here, he could laugh it all off, but…
She let out a quiet voice and permitted his touch.
With the slight sound of rustling clothes, she lifted her feet from the veranda and snuggled up next to him.
She pressed against him.
Shoui’s heart skipped a beat and he reflexively opened his eyes to look up at Yuuki.
She looked down at him with the moonlight behind her.
Her face was still nearly emotionless and she spoke the first words that came to mind.
“You don’t want to?”
He reflexively sat up and scratched his head.
“Eh? Um, well, how should I put it?”
“You really are stupid. …I prepared myself for a lot when I agreed to be Koto’s Guardian and Chancellor.”
“…Even for placing yourself in a position where you could kill people?”
“Even if I do, I won’t change.”
“Even if I kill someone, I will still be me.”
As soon as she said that, a sudden raindrop fell on his cheek.
The raindrop had not fallen from the sky.
It had come from Yuuki’s eye.
She was shedding tears from her usual expressionless face.
The second he saw the tears dripping down her cheeks, he realized that all of his thoughts had been wrong.
He sat the rest of the way up and faced her.
He shook his head.
“I just about let an older girl trick me.”
“You’re afraid, aren’t you? You’re afraid of your current situation and that you might change.”
“I am not-…”
“You have to be. Everything you just said was a lie, wasn’t it?”
He embraced her and removed her glasses.
She closed her eyes as if to keep him from seeing them, so he kissed her eyelid.
He heard her quiet voice and tasted some slight saltiness on his tongue.
He sensed that undeniable flavor.
“It tastes a lot like blood…”
His casual comment seemed to act as a signal.
She lowered her head in his arms and she began to cry. She suppressed her voice and her shoulders shook.
She silently shed tears.
Shoui held her shaking shoulders and sighed.
“You’ve always been stupid… You have a bad habit of putting on an act and trying to solve everything yourself.”
“Were you trying to escape the unease by sleeping with me? …Does your current position scare you that much?”
She raised her head and her expression left him speechless.
The ends of her eyebrows were lowered in the first look of anguish he had ever seen from her.
He quickly pulled her from his body.
Their movements while pressed together had nearly pulled her shrine maiden outfit from her shoulders.
She sniffed once to suppress the tears and wiped at her eyes.
The tears vanished, but the expression did not. She held that silent anguish inside and asked a question.
“…What’s the matter?”
Shoui realized his eyes were fixated on her face.
He quickly began to pull his bandanna down.
“You don’t want to?”
But those words stopped him.
He saw a smile on her face and she continued without the smile crumbling.
“You don’t want to spend some of your time on me?”
“…Can’t we keep things the way they were? Doing this kind of thing to make up for your fear isn’t-…”
She cut him off with a quiet voice.
“Can’t you tell I’m blushing?”
With that question, she let her clothing drop from her shoulders.
With a soft sound, the clothing fell away like a blooming flower.
She gathered the clothing around her chest to hide her exposed skin, but she faced Shoui with a bold look in her eyes.
“If something happens, will you…?”
“Will you protect me from myself?”
He knew what she meant by that.
If she were to harm someone else, she would be harming herself too.
And to protect her from herself, he would need to be by her side at all times.
He suddenly recalled her Words.
The winter cries out frigidly
Someone cries in loneliness
- They speak words yet nothing is said
- They speak Words yet nothing is said
- They simply wait for the ice to melt
- They draw near and never give up
He nodded but still felt hesitant as he spoke.
“It’s really not fair to show me the prize in advance…”
She narrowed her eyes and smiled.
“Don’t act like you haven’t wanted to see this for a long time.”
Hearing that, he sighed and gave up.
From then on, she had occasionally visited him at night. It had always been on the nights when she left without him to complete a job outside Nandaimon.
It had all happened long ago, but it had made Shoui who he was today.
In the present, Shoui looked up at the moon in the night sky and sighed.
…Is she who she is now because I didn’t protect her?
He could not answer that question.
He could think of plenty of causes.
He had let her kill someone.
He had not been able to stop her from being hurt.
He had gone to the Mountain without telling her anything.
He had spent two years on meaningless training without contacting her.
And most importantly…
“Even after that training, I’m not a Chancellor and I couldn’t reach the same level as her.”
He got up and walked to the metal fence on the edge of the roof. The wind blowing up along the dormitory wall was powerful.
He could see the schoolyard and the giant school building silently rising five stories into the night.
The schoolyard had pockmark-like holes dug here and there.
However, there was a pattern to the pockmarks. Those dots drew a giant circle with a few more dots drew lines from the center to the cardinal directions.
Word Accelerator Ixolde was buried below there.
That giant double helix word accelerator was buried two hundred meters belowground.
It would create a Rhythm with a Tempo faster than any existing Rhythm could hope to have.
“They claim that Rhythm will be presented to the Mountain, but who knows what will happen.”
With those words, he turned his back on the schoolyard.
The wind hit his back.
…What am I supposed to do now?
As soon as he thought that, he realized someone was standing in front of him.
He put up his guard on reflex and heard a voice.
“Hey, are you the only one here?”
Shoui realized who it was.
He stood up and took three steps back.
He was keeping his distance.
When Saki realized what Shoui was doing, he silently pulled out his spear and held it at the ready.
“Why are you running away? …And more importantly, what were you doing up on the roof?”
“Eh? Well… Um, I was doing a bit of combat training and then some thinking.”
“I know that look. You don’t believe me, do you? That’s not very nice of you.”
“No, it isn’t that.”
“If my stomps were making a racket down below, I apologize. That might have been loud.”
“Yeah, I’m here because we got some complaints about that.” Saki sighed. “Well, I also used to cause a lot of noise training here.”
“Yeah, and so did Nanba Souichirou who’s Chancellor now. Back when he hadn’t fought that ogre and had all his limbs, he would train here every night like you were.”
“How do you know that? Are you an obsessed fan or something?”
“Don’t be stupid. As the 1st Special Duty Officer, I’m in charge of intelligence. Besides, Souichirou and I are from the same year.”
Saki held up the black leather attaché case in the opposite hand from his spear.
The words “For the 1st Special Duty Officer Only” were printed on it in gold.
“Two years ago, there was a malfunction during Ixolde’s test activation being held in the schoolyard in front of you. So many Lives were disturbed that an ogre was born in Osaka.”
“I heard about that while I was at the Mountain.”
“That ogre lived in the mountains of Sakai and ate people’s Lives, so Souichirou – whose family, by the way, is descended from Ogre-Buster Watanabe no Tsuna – fought the ogre with his Modified Purple Electricity Style of Dance Combat and his Kusanagi Rhythm.”
“And during their second fight, Nanba Souichirou won in exchange for losing the use of his arms and legs, right?”
“Yes. Ever since that victory, we stopped gathering here.”
“Because it reminds you of a time when none of you had been hurt?”
“None of your business, moron.”
Saki laughed quietly after that.
“You want to pick up where we left off?”
He pointed his spear toward Shoui.
The moonlight reflected dully from the blade and Shoui took a few steps back.
“W-wait juuust a second. …Sorry, though.”
“What is it?”
“You seem to think my lack of Words is a wonderful little threat, but why exactly?”
“Do you think you’re in any position to order me around?”
“Ah, why do adults always dodge the issue like that?”
“Don’t be stupid. There’s a reason I can’t tell you. A good reason.”
Saki nodded and looked down at the attaché case in his left hand.
“Since I doubt you’ll accept that, I’ll give you a simple explanation. Ever since a certain incident, the 1st Special Duty Officer of Osaka’s Chancellor Officers has been told to be cautious of any Dis-Worder that approaches us.”
“A certain incident?”
“Yes, but I can’t get into the details.”
“W-wait a second. Um…are you saying your issue with me is based on something like a prophecy!?”
Shoui was answered by Words.
Saki crossed his arms as if to better hold the attaché case as he began his recitation.
Even he vanishes
She too vanishes
- A hand that can hold onto no one remains
- A hand that fosters destruction remains
- That hand pleads for no one to leave
Saki spoke to Shoui with his arms still crossed.
“Once, there was a boy who had no Words. After he and his girl saw some cherry blossoms blossoming in winter, he brought misfortune to Osaka and died. The 1st Special Duty Officer at the time was his friend. …The first page of the history notebook inside this case contains that Officer’s altered Words after seeing it all through to the end.”
“Those are some harsh Words…”
“Really? I don’t think so.”
“But doesn’t ‘pleading for no one to leave’ sound like he isn’t letting their spirits rest in peace?”
After saying that, Shoui realized what the Words meant.
“He’s asking them to stay by his side even after they’ve died?”
“Interpret it however you want. I can’t get into the details, but your situation is awfully like that boy’s.”
“You mean bringing damage to his surroundings, dying…and filling someone with sorrow?”
Saki did not nod. He simply looked Shoui in the eye.
His silence seemed to be pressing Shoui to make a decision.
He kept his spear at the ready so he could act at any moment.
—Shoui – Hear Tech – Auto-Take – Sense Danger – Hit!
—Saki – Hear Tech – Auto-Take – Sense Danger – Hit!
They heard a scream.
It came from the dormitory directly below.
The two of them exchanged a glance.
They heard that shout and the shattering of glass from downstairs, but then the noise vanished.
“Saki-san!?” / “…What is going on!?”
By the time they yelled, they were already on the move.
They were running toward the stairs down from the roof.
Something was happening downstairs.
Most likely, it was a fight.
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