City Series:Volume4b Chapter 5

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Chapter 5: The Replay Begins (Free Trade-In for the Sequel) – (12/21/1996)[edit]

Part 1[edit]

11:05 AM

It was less than ten days until New Year’s Eve.

It was winter.

The morning was nearing its end, but the cloudy day was terribly cold.

Shoui continued to move below the clouds.

He stood in front of the training post he had attacked so thoroughly the day before.

He sighed deeply in front of that single piece of wood sticking up from the ground.

The sigh carried a Tempo similar to relief and it refused to blend into the winter air even as it floated whitely in it.

He gently held out his left fist as if to sweep his sigh away.

He hit the training post.

He could see the marks from the previous day’s attacks.

He had thrown those punches to confirm in which direction he was headed.

And after making those marks, a thought had occurred to him.

What is it I lack?

It was not strength.

He had that.

Similarly, it was not willpower.

He had that too.

In that case…

Is it Words?

Shoui – Savate/Gym/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Combination – Hit.

The sudden series of blows somewhat expressed the Dis-Worder boy’s thoughts.

A constant rhythm of harsh and intense sounds accompanied it.

Shoui recalled the prophecy Takada had sung for him.

The prophecy had changed form as time had passed.

A changing prophecy and a boy without Words.

When he combined those two ideas, he suddenly realized something.

Maybe it isn’t that I don’t have Words. Maybe they’re just in constant flux so I can’t grasp them.

He tested that theory.

He turned a bit to the side and used a Rhythm toward empty air instead of the training post.

Shoui – Cold High/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Freeze Strike – Hit.

He threw a punch that carried frost even whiter than the winter air.

People normally had to listen to a Rhythm to use that technique, but Shoui could use it if he found it necessary.

What does that mean?

He remembered what Saki Seiji had said about the Osaka Chancellor during the Kinki Riot.

He used Rhythms without using a Rhythm.

That had likely been similar to Shoui’s Rhythm mechanism.

But if he was to oppose the Flame High…

What kind of power should I seek?

He did not know.

So he tried out what he did know.

He first considered using the Flame High, but abandoned the idea.

That was due to the memory of that unknown fear lingering in his mind.

He tried something else.

Shoui – Kusanagi/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Sever Strike – Miss.

He could not produce Kusanagi.

“…?”

He did not know why.

The Words needed to produce Kusanagi was a single tone. There was no detailed Message and it had no MD.

But Shoui could not produce it.

The method he used for Over Rhythms did not work for Wind Rhythms and Heavy Rhythms.

If my Words were in constant flux, I should be able to use those.

He lacked something.

If he was missing something, he would not be able to use those Rhythms.

And if he was missing something, he could not protect her.

It isn’t Words.

It was something stronger than Words that could control his power.

Something that surpassed his Words that were in constant flux.

Something to make full use of his power as a Harmonist and those ultra-fast Rhythms.

Something to release Kusanagi with a single voiced tone.

“…”

Shoui sighed.

At the same time, he heard an animal cry.

It came from the house.

“…?”

It was the same voice as the previous day.

It sounded a lot like a distant dog howling. It contained a melancholy tone and carried into the distance.

Next, the sounds of bamboo swords came to a sudden stop in the dojo building to his left.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Detect Killer Intent – Hit!

“!”

A sharp will oozed out of the dojo’s first floor.

It was a powerful killer intent. Instead of a mere threat, it was pure intent to kill.

Shoui frowned and faced that direction.

He was also curious about the animal cry from the house, but he was more interested in the oddity closer to him.

He walked toward the source of the killer intent.

Most of the dojo’s first floor was a wood-floored practice area and it had small windows to let sunlight in. He peeked inside through one of the window’s facing the open-air training ground.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Take – Confirm Situation – Hit.

He saw the large Kendo dojo.

Wooden swords and real swords hung on the walls and Shoui had a view of two Kendo courts positioned longwise to him.

The locker rooms were on the right while the entrance, reception area, and stairs to the second floor were straight ahead.

There were around a dozen people in the dojo at the moment.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Take – Confirm People – Hit.

They were all students wearing Kendo outfits.

They all held wooden swords instead of bamboo swords and were facing the main entrance.

Their gazes were sharply focused on the entrance.

Shoui also looked in that direction.

He saw a surprising person in the wide entranceway.

It was Tokyo 1st Special Duty Officer Ikemaru Takahiro.

He wore a three-piece suit with a white scarf over his shoulders.

He was entirely relaxed without a hint of timidity.

That was the polar opposite of the dojo students who were brimming with killer intent.

What’s going on here?

Before he could even finish that thought, he heard Takahiro’s voice.

“Send out Osaka’s Chancellor. I visited his home, but they said he was not there.”

It was an arrogant demand and one of the dojo students answered him.

“Souichirou-san isn’t here! Come back later.”

“I am well aware of that.” Takahiro’s expression did not change in the slightest. “I have already confirmed that Osaka’s Chancellor has not left his home since he was carried there after the battle at Prefectural #2.”

“Then why are you here?”

Takahiro answered without a moment’s hesitation.

“It would be impolite to suddenly destroy his home in search of what I am after.”

He took a breath.

“You have two options.”

He removed the black leather glove hiding his right hand.

He raised his index and middle fingers to indicate the number two.

“One, ask the Nanba family to let me meet Osaka’s Chancellor.”

He lowered his middle finger and left the index finger up.

“Two, your brutal defeat at my hands will show the Nanba family just how dangerous it is to ignore me.”

“…!”

The killer intent grew.

But Takahiro did not mind.

“I have no interest in crushing the Nanba family just because they are too stingy to let me meet their next leader, so this kind of threat would be the best way to show how serious I am.”

As soon as he said that, all of the dojo students moved at once.

Around a dozen sets of killer intent and footsteps focused in on Takahiro.

The raised wooden swords looked a lot like a bamboo thicket.

But Shoui saw Takahiro slowly sigh behind the thicket of wooden swords.

Tokyo’s 1st Special Duty Officer extended his right hand to the side with some slight inertia in the action.

The wooden wall next to the reception desk was there.

As soon as his white and fairly slender hand touched it, he spoke to the wall while ignoring the killer intent directed his way.

“Lay down.”

That settled it all.

Part 2[edit]

2:13 PM

The temperature below the clouds remained relatively unchanged even in the early afternoon.

The gray sky in the background made the scene look all the more wintery.

Especially in an area with a good view.

Nandaimon Shrine on its hill in the southern Koto region had an excellent view of that dimly-lit sky.

If one looked up from the center of the gravel shrine grounds, the surrounding woods were out of view and only the sun filled their vision.

Koto Chancellor and Koto Guardian Yuuki Yuuki was viewing the sky just like that.

She wore her Nandaimon shrine maiden outfit and held a broom.

Phoenix, her false right eye, viewed a certain point in the sky.

Suzaku Ver. 40 was there.

It was the world’s only combat satellite and it was situated at a gravitational and centrifugal Lagrange point, so it moved in an oval above the Koto and Osaka regions. The time it took to complete a circuit changed depending on the phase of the moon and the season, so it was not always in the same place.

“It will enter the Osaka region in two hours.”

After that muttered comment, she looked back down.

She saw the woods surrounding the shrine in all directions.

The withered trees looked horribly cold below the cloudy sky.

She swept their fallen leaves into a pile.

Yuuki – Spear/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Sweep – Hit.

There was a trick to sweeping up just the leaves while leaving the gravel in place.

She quietly, slowly, and accurately swept up the leaves.

And…

Yuuki – Hear Tech – Auto-Take – Hear – Hit.

She heard the gravel moving behind her.

“…?”

She looked back and saw a small animal standing in the spot she had been in a moment before.

It was a Dog God.

It was five meters away.

That animal had kept that distance behind her since the day before.

When she walked, so did it.

When she stopped, so did it.

When she sat down, it lay down.

When she had gone to sleep that night, it had curled up in its tail while just barely keeping a distance of five meters in the corner of her austere room.

When she had woken up, it had already been up and wagging its tail.

It did not do anything. It simply stayed with her and watched her.

That was all.

“…”

Yuuki looked around.

Yuuki – Sight Tech – Take – Confirm Situation – Hit.

There was no one here except for herself and the Dog God.

Once she confirmed that, she faced the Dog God.

Five seconds.

After that, she suddenly took a forceful step forward on the gravel.

The Dog God took a frantic step back.

She took two steps forward.

It ran back two steps.

It watched her the entire time to accurately keep its distance.

Yuuki stopped.

The Dog God stopped.

She looked up into the sky a little.

It was a cloudy sky.

The Dog God did so as well.

In that instant, she stepped forward with a loud step on the gravel.

Shocked, the Dog God hopped up for just a moment and then ran back.

But Yuuki had not taken a step.

City v04b 195.jpg

She had placed her foot forward and stopped.

It was a feint.

The Dog God looked confused as it ran back while looking back toward her.

A moment later, it ran head-first into one of the shrine’s lanterns.

With a quiet sound, its light brown body rolled a few times with its long tail wrapping around it.

It got up and quickly shook its head in a sitting position.

Yuuki narrowed her eyes and laughed quietly as she watched.

Her laughter was followed by an unexpected voice behind her.

“You can have fun with that thing if you want, but have you finished sweeping yet, Yuuki?”

It was Senga’s voice.

Yuuki stopped laughing and looked back.

Senga stood surprisingly close behind her.

She looked up at Yuuki with a bitter smile.

“That part of you hasn’t changed, Yuuki.”

“…”

Yuuki said nothing. She simply faced Senga with all emotion erased from her face.

Senga maintained her bitter smile as she spoke to Yuuki.

“I know you were scheduled to patrol the shrine border this afternoon, but could you head over to Osaka instead?’

“Why?”

“I’ve received word that the Nanba family’s Modified Purple Electricity Style dojo was half-destroyed, but none of the details made it here. Could you go check that out?”

“Why not ask that…Iwai Sanzou from yesterday?”

Senga tilted her head at that question.

“I did, but he only said it was a training accident. …But something like that would never destroy the Kusanagi-user’s dojo, would it?”

“What, so is the Nanba family hiding something?”

“I called the Osaka Guardian, but they apparently don’t know anything either.”

“So I have to actually pay them a visit, do I?”

Yuuki nodded and handed the broom to Senga.

“Here, grandmother. You take care of the rest.”

“Yes, yes. I always do get stuck with the cleaning for some reason or another.”

Senga slapped Yuuki’s butt, and…

Yuuki – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Detect Presence – Hit!

Senga – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Detect Presence – Hit!

Grandmother and granddaughter simultaneously raised their right hands.

They faced the stairs up to the shrine.

Someone lay at the top of the stairs.

He wore a monk’s outfit.

“Did he collapse…?” speculated Yuuki.

But Senga ran over before she could finish.

“Iba!” she shouted.

She called his name, but the monk-dressed man did not get up.

Yuuki jogged after Senga.

“Grandmother, should I call an ambulance?”

“Wait! There must be more to this! We can’t make it public.”

Senga stopped her and Yuuki obeyed.

They reached Iba’s side in the span of a breath.

This was Yuuki’s first time seeing the man.

Senga would sometimes call his name in her sleep.

During the Kinki Riot, he had stood between Tokyo Chancellor Nakamura Midori and Osaka Chancellor Kuki Udai.

And he was closely involved to everything going on this time.

He was now collapsed in front of her.

Senga crouched down next to Yuuki and asked the most crucial question.

“What happened!?”

Iba lay face down, so she lifted him up. That was when she received an answer of sorts.

His mouth and below were so bloody it looked like he had eaten raw meat.

He had bleeding in his lungs.

The blood was fresh and had yet to dry. The impact of collapsing and the relaxation of passing out had likely induced the coughing.

Senga flipped her former student onto his back in her arms.

“…”

The wind blew through.

It was a chilly north wind.

When its chill washed across his face, Iba’s eyes opened ever so slightly.

His empty eyes focused and looked up at Senga.

His bloody lips moved.

“I can no longer see the future and the Kinki Riot begins anew…”

“The Kinki Riot?” asked Yuuki.

But when Iba nodded, he kept his eyes on Senga.

His lips moved.

He raised the corners of his mouth to force a smile, but…

“I never thought he would be even greater than Midori…”

His expression changed to one on the verge of tears.

Then he began coughing up blood.

The blood splattered on Senga’s clothing and face and on Yuuki’s shrine maiden outfit.

But the two of them were unfazed.

Without panicking or rushing, Senga lay Iba’s head back down now that his eyes had closed once more.

The cold wind washed away the stench of blood.

And Senga spoke in a voice so cold it cut off that wind.

“I will heal him. Yuuki, you hurry to the Nanba family.”

“Will you be okay on your own?”

“I took care of him a lot in the past.”

Senga did not look back toward Yuuki, so Yuuki said nothing more and walked toward the house.

The Dog God ran after her.

The wind very, very quietly and coldly brushed across the person and animal.

Part 3[edit]

3:35 PM

The Nanba family home was extremely large.

Four footsteps could be heard in a winding hallway in the single-story house.

An old woman servant holding a lantern took the lead.

Osaka 1st Special Duty Officer Saki Seiji followed her.

Tokyo 1st Special Duty Officer Ikemaru Takahiro followed him.

The old woman walked silently and the two boys’ footsteps reflected off the low ceiling and narrow walls of the hallway.

The first to speak was Takahiro.

“How far are you taking me?”

“You’re our enemy, but you showed up to meet Souichirou without an appointment. Pipe down and follow her.”

The hallway turned to the right.

The old woman carried the light on ahead as her feet almost slid along the floor.

Saki glanced up at her and then looked back at Takahiro.

“What the hell are you even doing here?”

“I want information. Information on cherry trees that blossom in winter and on this family’s connection to the Aoi family.”

“I can’t tell you anything about the Shinkage style, but was what I told you before about the cherry blossoms not enough?”

“What am I supposed to do with the vague information that cherry blossoms bloom during battle? And more importantly,” continued Takahiro. “Where is Osaka’s Chancellor?”

“You are here for information, aren’t you? Follow her.”

The two of them followed the leading light.

Saki asked Takahiro a question while watching he light sway like a firefly’s light.

“Are Nakamura Hisahide’s actions what will determine whether or not you’ll be our enemy?”

“No, I serve someone else,” explained Takahiro. “And unless that person once more makes an enemy of Osaka, I will remain a mere tourist.”

Saki’s bitter smile deepened at that expressionless comment.

“A mere tourist? You destroyed Inuyama Station in Nagoya as well as a hotel and the Modified Purple Electricity Style dojo here in Osaka.”

“Then are you going to arrest me?”

“I would if I had anyone who could restrain you.”

Takahiro smiled bitterly at Saki’s way of thinking. The two of them slowed their pace as they caught up with the old woman.

“How very accommodating of you.”

“That’s just how desperate we are.”

The hallway continued upwards.

They saw a narrow stairway before them.

Takahiro frowned.

“I thought this was a single-story house.”

The old woman in the lead answered him.

“It is an old house.”

“It’s an old samurai mansion,” added Saki, almost cutting off the old woman.

He glanced back at Takahiro and continued in a whisper.

“Sorry, but…”

“What?”

“If you have any questions about this house, ask me rather than her.”

“Why?”

“The Nanba family has a long history you aren’t familiar with.”

“Are you saying the Kusanagi family that protects the emperor wishes to keep its distance from others?”

“If you can accept that line of thinking, then let’s go with that.”

Saki walked on ahead as he spoke.

The steps were short and steep.

It was 17 steps.

At the top, they found a hallway with sand walls.

They walked down it and soon came to a turn.

The long vertical slits in the wall were entrances to hidden rooms.

Takahiro commented on them.

“Is Osaka’s Chancellor up ahead?”

“Do you doubt it?”

He touched the wall as he walked.

“Terribly heavy emotion has built up in here. It is a powerful emotion, much like fear.”

“Well, of course,” answered Saki without looking back. “Some of the possessions and bodies of those killed in the disaster two years ago are stored here.”

“Why here? Possessions of the dead should be-…”

“Some people wish to continue fighting even after death. When it’s against that ogre, anyway.”

“Even after death…?”

He soon received his answer.

It came from the old woman.

“The young master’s prosthetics were created from them.”

“You mean…?”

Takahiro started to ask more, but Saki tapped his chest.

It was a sign not to ask.

Takahiro fell silent and Saki sighed.

“That’s just how it is.”

“Can you really allow that?’

“They wanted it themselves. …And that’s why Souichirou has to seek battle.”

“But…”

Takahiro’s voice deepened in doubt, but Saki tapped his chest again.

“We’re almost there. This will clear up all your confusion.”

The old woman followed the hallway to a dead end.

The gap between the wall and the column suggested the dead end was another door to a hidden room.

“I see.”

Takahiro watched the old woman walk up to the dead end wall.

That was when something strange happened.

She was absorbed by the wall and vanished.

“…?”

The two boys approached the wall in question.

Takahiro stepped past Saki and gently touched the wall.

It was a normal solid sand wall.

“You get it, don’t you?” asked Saki.

The old woman’s lantern was fallen at Takahiro’s feet and he asked a question as it illuminated him from below.

“Was she a ghost so dense that not even a Word Master like me noticed?”

“That old lady always served Souichirou, but she was attacked by the ogre when she was out picking edible plants in the mountains. She’s lived here ever since.”

“Is that why you insisted I not ask her anything?”

“Someone mysteriously vanished for three days after speaking with her. They probably got dragged away by her,” explained Saki. “The problem is that she didn’t seem to be trying to hurt anyone.”

Takahiro looked at the lantern at his feet.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do they rely on this place?”

“I don’t know. …All I can say is that Souichirou will never betray them.”

Another sound immediately followed that.

“!”

It was a cry.

It was a bestial roar.

A lament containing a large portion of sorrow burst out through the wall.

Saki did not hesitate to push open the wall.

There was a dim darkness inside.

Saki picked up the lantern to illuminate the stairs leading down.

The roar rang heavy and loud as it echoed down the hallway beyond that.

“Let’s go.”

Takahiro nodded.

Saki began descending the stairs.

The animal cry weakened and vanished.

The stairway had exactly 49 steps.

Subtracting that from the previous stairs told Takahiro they were now underneath the Nanba house.

The air gradually had grown chillier as they made the descent and their breath was white by the time they stood on the hallway’s wooden floor.

They were underground.

They were surrounded by darkness and Saki’s lantern was the only light source.

The candlelight from the lantern did not actively light the area, so its faint light only brought their surroundings vaguely into view.

The walls were made from rows of iron bars.

“Cells…”

Saki nodded to confirm Takahiro’s short statement.

His shadow also nodded, and…

“Come.”

He resumed walking.

There were several cells. They lined the hallway on either side and were each about 10 square meters.

They were empty save for a futon in the corner.

“…”

The two boys continued walking.

They passed by four pairs of cells, all vacant.

But as Saki and Takahiro walked past the cells, they heard quiet voices from the darkness within.

They were too faint to make out, but many people were speaking together.

Saki commented on them.

“The residents here are reacting to you. You are a new face, after all.”

“The sad part is I can’t tell if they are welcoming me or not.”

“I know what you mean,” said Saki as he came to a stop.

He had arrived at the end of the hallway.

A set of metal double doors was there.

Several new charms were attached to the door.

“Based on those emblems, those must be locking charms. What is beyond this door?”

“A secret path that comes out through an old well.”

“…? Did you recently seal off that path?”

“Yes. Because we didn’t know what would happen.”

With that. Saki held the lantern out to his right.

The cell to his right contained a great mass of darkness.

It was a person.

He wore tatters of clothes and had lost both arms and his right leg.

His body was held in place by several thick chains attached to the stone wall.

He seemed to be sitting with his back to the wall.

His long unkempt hair fell down over his face, hiding his identity.

Saki stared at him and Takahiro asked a question.

“Who is that?”

As soon the words left his mouth, the sitting boy opened his mouth.

Despite the lantern as the only light source, his ferocious teeth and horribly red mouth could be seen.

He released his voice with a harsh breath.

“Ah!!”

That single tone ran strong and loud.

The cell’s metal bars shook.

The chains bent and a metallic noise spread through the links to color the single voice.

That was not all.

The sound set power in motion.

It was a great power.

The strongest power in the darkness was the light of a flame.

Flames burst out from his right shoulder.

But this was not the fire of a lantern or torch.

Nor was it the flames of a campfire.

It was a burning cascade.

The voice rang out.

The flames burst out.

The flames whirled around and rose up to fill the cell.

As the voice gradually lost its color and grew more plaintive, the flames rapidly burned forward.

A great flaming serpent raced toward the metal bars.

The Word Master beyond the bars held out his hand.

But…

“Stop!”

Saki shouted over the roar of the flames and held back Takahiro’s hand.

A moment later, the voice ended and the flames collided with the metal bars.

The fire burst and brightly lit the subterranean darkness.

A barely audible noise came from within the cell.

Then the fire vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.

The voice had also vanished.

The lantern was once more the only light in the darkness.

The pale light illuminated the cell and that revealed the fire-emitting demon who sat by the wall.

A horribly emaciated face could be seen beyond the unkempt hair.

Takahiro spoke a name when he saw the unconscious face with its closed eyes.

“…Osaka Chancellor Nanba Souichirou.”

“That’s right,” confirmed Saki. “The Flame High is known as Yamata for a reason. It did a pretty good job of swallowing up Souichirou’s Kusanagi. He can’t control his own Words anymore, so restraining the Flame High is the most he can manage.”

“Is he enduring the spread of the flames?”

“He removed his false arms, but it wasn’t fast enough.” Saki sighed. “We quickly got the finest quality divine steel from Hong Kong and remade this cell. …We closed off that door to make sure his fire couldn’t get out if something goes wrong.”

“I see.” Takahiro looked to Saki. “Are you saying I need to use my kotodama power to heal Osaka’s Chancellor if I want information from him?”

“Your average Tuner can’t heal him and we’d rather word of this didn’t get out. This was the perfect time to run across a Word Master who can destroy an entire building.”

Saki smiled bitterly and pulled a key from his pocket.

It was the key to the cell.

He stuck it in the lock and said one last thing.

“So take care of this, will you?”

Part 4[edit]

4:11 PM

After stepping out of Osaka Station, Yuuki did not head for the Nanba house.

There was something she had to do first.

She started walking west from Osaka Station and crossed the track to the north.

She was a very conspicuous presence in her Nandaimon Academy uniform and with the giant staff Housei in her right hand.

She could feel the people’s eyes on her, but she did not look back and continued walking.

She heard some quiet voices behind her. The women and children were making excited comments about the Dog God that continued to follow her.

But she realized that those were not the only voices.

There were a few voices with a duller and heavier tone.

“If this is how it’s going to be, I might not be able to get to the Nanba house today.”

After that quiet comment, she made a call at a nearby phone booth.

She called the Osaka Prefectural Office.

As soon as they picked up, she rattled off a few keywords to prove her identity.

She pressed her thumb against the phone’s camera.

The phone’s small display immediately reacted.

“Match confirmed.”

She swiftly explained what she needed and hung up.

As soon as she left the phone booth, the city’s Fourth Alarm began sounding.

She nodded in satisfaction.

“They react quickly.”

It did not take long for the current of people to change in response to the alarm.

The Fourth Alarm was used to evacuate people from regions where damage was likely to occur.

A citywide broadcast loudly announced where that was.

As Yuuki walked about a block, the flow of cars and people gradually changed direction.

The people passing her by were expressing their doubts about the alarm and what was about to happen.

It was an undeniable commotion.

The people were guided slowly but surely away from the location of disaster.

The academy rules had established separate legal enforcement measures for students and normal citizens, but everyone would be hurt in a disaster. Adults and children both intended to evacuate.

They could watch on after arriving somewhere safe.

The people passing by were arriving from in front of Yuuki.

The alarm continued to sound.

Yuuki fought the current of people.

She was on her way to the location of upcoming damage.

She had called the Osaka Prefectural Office and predicted that damage.

That location would soon be a battlefield.

She could see it now: the Umeda Sky Building.

It was a 170 meter observation tower.

A bridge-shaped floating garden was supported by two identical tower buildings.

She walked toward that building.

There was a hotel out front and the Umeda Sky Building itself had several tenants inside.

People were slowly flowing out of them.

It was like a wave.

Yuuki bumped into the wave of people as she walked.

Yuuki – Mind Tech – Take – Detect Presence – Hit.

She sensed a powerful presence behind her.

It was not the Dog God.

It was further back than the Dog God five meters behind her and it was more powerful.

She did not look back to see who it was.

She simply walked.

The tall tower was already right in front of her.

The wave of people was gradually thinning and the commotion was dying down.

The Fourth Alarm sounded all the louder.

The citywide broadcast urged people to evacuate, but it was meaningless to Yuuki.

There were no longer any people in front of her.

The two tall towers stood in her way like a giant glass wall.

Instead of passing between the towers, she walked east to circle around the Sky Building.

Passing between them would have meant walking through a nature park.

She chose the spot with a clearer view.

The presence behind her gradually grew.

The owner of the presence was waiting for her to arrive at the battlefield.

Yuuki knew what would trigger the battle: looking at her opponent.

But she did not look back yet.

She climbed some stairs and walked across the plaza in front of the Sky Building.

She passed by the Sky Building’s east tower.

She was headed for the entrance to the west tower.

She continued walking.

Then she stopped in front of the glass doors of the large entranceway.

Two presences stopped behind her.

One was the Dog God.

And the other…

“A grudge from the past,” said Yuuki.

Her quiet breath contained a hint of exhaustion.

At the same time, she prepared Housei in her right hand and turned around.

And she called a name.

“Nagoya Chancellor Yamashita Taeko!”

Her enemy was already on the move.

By the time she fully turned around, Yuuki saw a giant metal fist.

Taeko – Steel/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Dragon Emperor Strike – Hit!

Yuuki – Spear/Gym/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Block – Hit.

The Dragon Emperor’s fist collided with Housei’s frame, producing a heavy metal crash.

Yuuki had blocked the attack, but the fist and shield had different masses.

Yuuki was thrown backwards.

The impact and inertia slammed her inside the Sky Building.

She did indeed see Taeko with the Dragon Emperor raised.

“It’s time to settle this!” shouted Taeko.

At the same time the Dragon Emperor gave a draconic roar.

The roar mixed with the Fourth Alarm, creating a horribly low and long noise.

The battle had begun.


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