City Series:Volume4b Chapter 8

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Chapter 8: The True Past (Hidden Special Move Information)[edit]

Part 1[edit]

6:00 AM

Shoui and Souichirou’s match began as they faced each other.

They were on a flat beach. The sun was just beginning to show its bright circle over the mountains.

The two of them stood and faced each other without exchanging a greeting.

And with a hint of exhaustion on his face, Souichirou spoke a single word to Shoui.

“…Sorry.”

He said nothing more.

He did not need to.

He knew who his opponent was and he knew their background.

He also knew their skill.

And he knew what he should do and what was necessary.

The two of them stood there with no need for words.

Shoui pulled a golden ring from his pocket and clenched it in his left fist.

And he looked to his feet.

Their shadows stretched long across the beach and toward the ocean.

The ocean was to Shoui’s left and to Souichirou’s right.

They heard the splashing of the waves as those waves washed across the heads of their shadows.

And after several waves crashed, the shadows silently took their combat stances.

Two two-dimensional afterimages slowly moved on the sand.

One shadow raised a sword.

The other raised its guard to protect its face.

The former was Souichirou’s shadow and the latter was Shoui’s.

Both their stances were unique.

Souichirou held his drawn sword down and below his side like an iai pose.

Shoui leaned forward much like the peek-a-boo style of boxing.

Neither stance allowed them to escape.

They were both on the verge of moving.

But that did not happen and neither of them took action.

Time passed as they held their poses.

They looked each other in the eye as the waves continued to crash.

It looked like it had all ended after they took their stances.

The crashing of the waves grew louder.

But they still did not move.

They could not move.

There was a reason for this: their stances and tactics fit together too well.

Souichirou held his sword in a go no sen stance that was meant to counterattack once the opponent approached.

Shoui held his fists in a sen no sen stance that was meant to charge up to his opponent to attack.

Go no sen meant to take action after seeing your opponent move and to get your attack in before theirs.

Sen no sen meant to move before your opponent could and to get your attack in first.

Both stances did not take a second attack into consideration.

Whoever hit fastest would win.

They could not move carelessly.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Decode Expression – Hit.

Souichirou – Mind Tech – Take – Decode Expression – Hit.

They searched each other’s expressions, but that changed nothing.

They were too focused to hide their expressions.

And Shoui moved slowly enough to not show an opening.

He changed his stance.

Slowly and silently, he pulled his left fist back and turned his body at an angle while making sure he did not leave an opening for attack.

Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Change Stance – Hit.

Souichirou similarly altered his stance.

Souichirou – Gym Tech – Take – Change Stance – Hit.

“…”

The sun moved one spot higher into the sky before they finished.

Shoui was turned to the side.

He held his left fist by his waist and his right hand a bit out in front.

This stance allowed him to make a powerful step forward and swing his entire body to throw his left fist.

It was the same stance he had used to destroy the dorm door with Nakamura on the other side.

Since he could throw his fist while stepping forward, he could attack in a single action instead of needing the two beats of movement with the sen no sen.

He had used the heel of his palm on the dorm door, but now he clenched his fist for the slight bit of extra reach.

The speed of a single finger’s length could decide this battle.

He lightly clenched the fist and gathered strength in the shoulder and elbow.

His fist would fly with great speed once he moved.

Meanwhile, Souichirou had a similar idea.

He prepared a thrusting stance just like when he had faced Nakamura.

He normally held his sword low to cut with the front of the blade, but now he held it at a mid-level height to stab with the tip. That was the fastest strike possible with a sword.

City v04b 297.jpg

And the small point of the sword tip was hard to see and thus hard to dodge.

It was still a go no sen technique, but the great difference in reach and speed would make up for acting second.

However, there was another small factor that could decide this match.

Shoui – Break High/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Break High Charge – Hit.

That was the Rhythms.

Shoui could use a Rhythm, but Souichirou could not.

The white light of breaking burst from Shoui’s fist, but the blade of Souichirou’s Device remained silent.

That difference in meaning was crucial.

A single touch from Shoui’s fist could carve the meaning of an impact into his opponent’s body, but Souichirou’s Device could only do damage once its blade tip stabbed into his opponent’s flesh.

Kusanagi could scatter everything if even the sword’s pressure hit someone.

Souichirou had always relied on that power, so this was a first for him.

He had a handicap both practically and mentally.

If that led to hesitation, the superior reach of his sword would mean nothing.

“…”

Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Decode Expression – Hit.

Souichirou – Mind Tech – Take – Decode Expression – Hit.

Their expressions were the same as before.

They did not move.

They sped up, gathered strength, and made every preparation for victory, but they did not move.

Time passed and the waves washed across the shoulders of their shadows.

A sudden female voice reached them from the distance.

“Shoui!?”

It was Nagoya Chancellor Yamashita Taeko.

While turned to the side, Shoui reacted to that voice by lowering his gaze somewhat.

Souichirou immediately responded to that movement.

Souichirou – Boxing/Savate/Gym/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Full Speed Strike – Hit!

He did not move.

It was a pure thrust.

A straight line reflected the morning sun as it made a swift and accurate movement.

Shoui reacted by dodging.

He had to move up to his opponent.

Would he circle to the left or the right?

There were only two options.

And his vision answered that question.

Shoui – Sight/Gym/Savate/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Dodge –

He had seen his and Souichirou’s shadows on the beach.

Souichirou’s shadow silently showed his blade as well.

The three-dimensional thrust became a two-dimensional action when viewed through the shadow.

His options of dodging left or right were replaced with two other options: above or below.

– Hit!!

He chose below.

His shadow ducked below the straight line shadow racing across the beach.

He was fast.

His feet tossed sand into the air.

His fist flew.

He made a counterattack against Souichirou’s step forward.

He was moving even further ahead of Souichirou’s go no sen attack.

He ignored the blade racing by overhead and took aim while ducked low.

His target was Souichirou’s solar plexus.

Even if that Osaka Chancellor had replaced so much of his body with prosthetics, a heavy blow to the center of his body would do some damage.

This would be the end for a normal Strike Forcer.

And it should have been so here.

But Souichirou was not normal.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Auto-Take – Spot – Hit.

The movement Shoui saw was proof enough of that.

“!?”

It was an instantaneous movement.

Souichirou’s left hand let go of the hilt, formed a fist, and punched the back of the blade from above.

The straight forward line of the thrust had its vector shifted downward.

The Device was essentially swinging down from above.

Souichirou – Boxing/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Extra Attack – Hit!

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Jumping Dodge – Hit!!

The attacker was far from normal, but the dodger was just as abnormal.

Shoui leaped toward the water.

His hands and feet landed on the wet sand and he formed a proper stance once more.

By that time, Souichirou was already moving.

He let go of and abandoned the Device as it swung down in his right hand.

He could not move swiftly with the heavy Device in hand.

He turned toward Shoui and charged toward him while reaching his left hand for the short sword at his waist.

That automatically meant he held it low.

It was a lot like his usual attack.

Souichirou – Boxing/Savate/Gym/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Upwards Diagonal Strike – Hit!

Shoui tried to dodge.

But…

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Jumping Dodge – Miss!!

“…!?”

Nothing about the timing kept him from dodging.

He failed for another reason.

A wave had washed up at his feet.

His feet sank into the sand.

In no time at all, Souichirou swung his short sword in sweeping motion.

It audibly sliced through the air.

And before that sound ended, a vertical cut raced up Shoui’s chest.

The anti-shock reflective material of his inner suit provided no protection against a slicing power like this.

He was cut.

He did not bleed yet. So soon after being cut, the muscles had contracted and the blood vessels were squeezed shut.

But the blood would come a breath later.

And it did.

The bone had not been cut, so it was only a light spray of blood.

But it was not over yet.

Before the wave could recede, Souichirou raised his blade for another attack.

He moved fast.

His actions and resolve showed no mercy.

The next attack would definitely slice Shoui through from head to crotch.

And…

“Ah.”

Souichirou weakly released his voice.

And that voice grew stronger as the silver arc began down its path.

“Ah…!”

His voice became his Words.

In his case, that was only a single sound.

“!”

Great pressure filled the short sword.

It was Kusanagi.

A powerful shimmering surrounded the attack as it moved to take down Shoui.

Kusanagi was swung to defeat the one who had dodged its attack and tried to make an attack of his own.

A direct hit would mean death.

And for Shoui, this was the repeat of a nightmare.

Part 2[edit]

6:07 AM

When Shoui saw the power approaching before his eyes, a phantom pain ran through his forehead.

He felt déjà vu.

What is this!?

His battle with Yamashita Gihei had ended like this as well.

He had been knocked unconscious and woken up to find Yuuki had killed the enemy.

And now this was happening, so…

I have to win.

If he did not, he could not protect her.

He had thought the same thing when he had been hit by Yamashita Gihei’s attack.

I have to win or I can’t protect her!

His will desired battle.

It desired victory.

It desired the defeat of his enemy.

It was an extremely powerful desire.

“…!”

And then something changed.

As Shoui tried to raise his fist to guard, ether light wrapped around it.

But this was not the light of the Break High.

This light had a highly sticky power that seemed to consume the Break High’s power.

It was a desire to attack. It instantly surrounded his fist and took form.

It was fire.

The blaze of the Flame High.

“!?”

Before he could express surprise, an incredible pain raced through his forehead.

The phantom pain felt like having a nail driven into his brain and it instantly erased his fear of the Flame High.

He snapped.

His body suddenly moved on its own.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Counterattack Dodge – Hit!

His fiery fist instantly burned the descending short sword.

At the same time, his body leaped across the beach while staying low to the ground.

He did not stop.

With the flames still residing in his fist, he left sand in the air behind him while circling behind Souichirou.

He was a heated gust of wind.

His body moved. It moved to attack and purely to defeat his opponent.

But he asked a question.

What is going on!?

The question was directed at himself.

His body split the early morning wind as it moved, but this was more the power of the Rhythm than his own will.

And…

Why can I use this Rhythm so well!?

Part 3[edit]

6:08 AM

“So this is the truth of the matter!?” shouted Iba Masaaki as he watched Shoui.

He stood up to better see Shoui and Souichirou moving on the beach below.

Senga also watched Shoui as she sat with Iwai next to him.

Taeko and Saki watched the two down below while standing next to the others.

The five of them saw a clash between Kusanagi and the Flame High.

Souichirou picked up his dropped Device and moved around while Shoui swung his Flame High fist.

They were fast.

The audience had difficulty keeping up.

Souichirou mostly stuck to thrusting attacks.

And Shoui’s movements were far from normal.

Taeko commented on what she saw.

“It’s the same as when he snapped against me in the Mountain…”

“It was the same in middle school when he was hit by Ichiyama Yuusei in a karate match.”

“Shouldn’t we be stopping him, granny?” asked Saki.

“Can you stop him?” asked Senga with a quiet look in her eyes. “Yamashita Taeko, you only lost your left arm to the Break High, but that was because you were lucky.”

Taeko nodded in response.

“I know that,” she said. “The dragon told me.”

“I see. Then I suppose I can tell you now. The person who killed your brother was…”

Taeko cut in and answered for Senga.

“Hizaka Shoui…!”

She shouted the name.

She had the bitter expression of someone with sand in their mouth. She had understood it intellectually, but it was still painful to hear it from someone else.

Everyone remained silent.

The only noise was from the battle on the beach below.

The Flame High’s fire flew and Kusanagi stabbed through and cut it apart.

When she heard that roar, Taeko asked a question.

“But…how? How can Shoui use the Flame High?”

Only Senga could answer that.

“A Rhythm’s power can be used without the music as long as you can reproduce the Message that transforms the ether’s Lives. But that was only understood after I had spread the Heavy Rhythms to everyone.”

“So that’s why the Kinki Riot happened…”

“It would have been too late by the time everyone was trapped by a power like the Flame High, right?” asked Iwai Senzou.

“But.” Senga sighed. “Sometimes an idiot like that shows up. An idiot who refuses to follow the same path as everyone else.”

She saw Shoui emit more flames using the Flame High.

“When faced with death, his desire to protect transformed into a desire to win and he killed Yamashita Gihei.”

“Then…?”

“He does not remember it. The shock of his own action and the cut from Yamashita Gihei left him with no memory of it.” She took a breath. “Yamashita Taeko, Shoui stopped moving after destroying your left arm because…he subconsciously remembered killing your brother in the same way. He tore off his arm with the Break High and then attacked with the Flame High. …And when nothing but ashes remained, the wind swept it all away.”

“Then your granddaughter…?” asked Iba.

“Why does the Koto Chancellor claim to be the Killing Holder!?” shouted Taeko.

“Because she wanted to! You got a problem with that!?”

Three of them fell silent after that and the fourth spoke.

It was Iba.

“So there never was a Killing Holder…!?”

“All there was was a foolish granddaughter. …A truly foolish one.” Senga smiled bitterly. “For two years, Shoui trained and came to loathe the concept of death that was subconsciously carved into him. I really thought he never would use the Flame High again…”

“And the Koto Chancellor…”

“She played the part of the Killing Holder. She really did want Shoui to return, but she said nothing.”

The two combatants continued to move on the beach below.

Shoui attacked and Souichirou received.

It tended in that direction.

Saki took a step forward as he watched them fight.

But he stopped, kicked the sand, and clicked his tongue.

“H-hey, granny! Can’t you do something!?”

“There is something.”

“What is it?”

“It’s all up to Shoui, though. If he is truly thinking about Yuuki, he will find a good way to resolve this.”

“The Koto Chancellor!?” asked Saki. “Where is she!?”

“She hurt her leg, so it’ll take time for her to climb up onto this beach!” Taeko pointed behind her. “I thought I would lend her my shoulder to help, but she insisted she was fine on her own…”

“Wait a moment.” Senga crossed her arms and looked to Shoui. “Iba! You know the Rhythm that Kuki Udai once used, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. But…”

“Kuki was a Dis-Worder just like Shoui. …Iba, can you tell me why your student Nakamura became a Harmonist and was able to use the Flame High?”

Iba did not hesitate to answer.

“Someone who has no experience with Rhythms and Techs can best use a high-speed Rhythm like the Flame High.”

“Yes, Nakamura Midori was the same.”

When Senga said that, Iwai Sanzou frowned.

He scratched his head.

“Then…he is the same?”

Senga did not nod.

“I don’t know if Shoui is. But the opposite of a Harmonist is someone who can use all Rhythms and is skilled in Techs. They can use the Rhythm that opposes the Flame High without actually using a Rhythm.”

She took a breath.”

“They are the Loudist that lives in the realm of Black Noise.”

Part 4[edit]

6:09 AM

Shoui moved.

He continued moving.

His mind had grown shallow and his heart had faded.

His mind was blocked out by the drop in oxygen due to the exercise and by his powerful attack instinct.

He only just barely maintained his thoughts thanks to his fear of death.

He did not want to kill or be killed.

But the pain intermittently stabbing into his forehead tried to cut off his mind.

Each time, a memory replayed in the back of his mind.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Release Memory – Hit.

He had forgotten this memory.

It had entirely vanished from his mind.

But it was forcibly replayed.

His memory of Yamashita Gihei appeared before his eyes.

It all happened in an instant.

It was two years ago on a winter night.

After taking the hit to his forehead, he had hopped back up in the north wind.

His body had moved on its own.

Despite the blood flowing from his forehead, he had kicked off the asphalt and charged toward his opponent.

Yamashita had raised his sword to counterattack.

He had swung it.

Shoui had dodged to the side.

Yamashita had tried to turn around.

Shoui had fled further.

He had circled behind Yamashita.

Yamashita had continued turning to pursue Shoui.

But Shoui had delivered a powerful punch to his right arm with a Break High fist.

Yamashita’s right arm had torn off and flown through the air and the impact had spun Yamashita in the opposite direction.

His back had been fully exposed to Shoui.

The blood had yet to flow from Yamashita’s right shoulder.

In the instant before that could happen, fire had wrapped around Shoui’s fist.

Victory.

With that power sealed in his attack, he had thrown his fist into the center of Yamashita’s spine.

The enemy had turned to ashes in an instant and Shoui had passed right through him.

He had staggered forward.

His outstretched fist’s momentum had remained.

His body and his mind had been at odds.

Upon defeating his enemy, the Flame High’s power had vanished and a great emptiness had remained in his heart.

The pain had quickly rushed into his forehead.

His legs had tangled up, he had tripped, and his shoulder had slammed into the solid ground.

Only pain and exhaustion had filled him and he had passed out.

As his vision grew dark, Yuuki had gotten up off the ground and looked to him.

He had heard her voice.

“Shoui-kun…”

It had been a feeble voice.

But it sounded nostalgic to him now.

I can’t believe it.

His faint thoughts smiled bitterly.

She hasn’t called me that since I arrived in Osaka.

His mind looked to reality.

“!”

His senses were freed from that memory.

He was on an Osaka Bay beach.

The situation had not changed.

He was still fighting.

As before, his body was moving to achieve victory.

Souichirou released a powerful attack with the morning sun in the background.

Shoui’s body moved further and dodged it.

It was an excellent movement.

But Shoui’s mind felt uneasy about the flow of the battle.

Souichirou’s movements were a lot like those of Yamashita Gihei.

A vertical slash arrived.

After dodging that, he had circled behind Yamashita Gihei and torn off his arm with a Break High strike.

Souichirou swung his sword in the same way.

Shoui had a chance at victory.

If he followed the same route, he could win.

He could circle to the right, tear off Souichirou’s right arm with the Break High when he tried to turn around, and use that impact to stop him from moving.

Then he could finish it with a Flame High strike.

He could win.

But that would mean Souichirou’s death.

I can’t.

That was what he thought, but his body moved.

So that he could win.

Part 6[edit]

In an Instant

Souichirou – Kusanagi/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Right Diagonal Strike – Hit.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Jumping Dodge – Hit.

Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Prepare – Hit.

Souichirou – Gym Tech – Take – Turn Around – Hit.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Jumping Dodge – Hit.

Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Prepare – Hit.
Shoui – Break High/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Break High Charge – Hit.
Shoui – Break High/Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Break High Strike – Hit!

Souichirou – Steel Tech – Take – Remove Right Arm – Hit!!

Part 7[edit]

6:10 AM

When Souichirou’s right arm was punched by the Break High, it flew into the clear air.

But Shoui had not torn it off.

Souichirou had removed it himself.

None of the impact reached his body.

“!”

Shoui saw him turn around.

He swung his Device with his left arm alone.

He held it high for an overhead swing.

This was also identical to Shoui’s memory. It was identical to the attack Yamashita Gihei had used to knock Shoui out.

The phantom pain returned to his forehead.

At the same time, he felt a lethargic weight fill his body.

It’s the same.

It was the same sort of exhaustion as when he had killed Yamashita Gihei.

He knew why he was feeling it.

Because he knew he could not defeat his opponent.

To one who sought victory, defeat meant death.

The Flame High vanished from his hand.

But his enemy did not stop.

Souichirou – Kusanagi/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Kusanagi Slash – Hit!!

A thought came to Shoui.

I want to win.

But it was different from before.

He would not kill.

He would not be killed.

Then what do I want to do?

He suddenly remembered the ring held in his left fist.

What had its owner left with him?

He remembered.

The answer reached him through his vision.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Auto-Take – Spot – Hit.

He saw the answer.

Part 8[edit]

Same Time

The embankment divided the beach from the city.

A lone girl stood atop it.

She wore a red blazer and her long black hair fluttered in the breeze.

It was Yuuki Yuuki who claimed to be the Killing Holder.

She simply looked to Shoui with no emotion visible in her face.

Part 9[edit]

Same Time

Shoui saw her.

That was enough for him to understand it all.

His mind fully awoke.

His body rebooted.

He gathered strength in both fists.

He remembered what he needed to do.

He had made a promise with her three years before.

I promised to protect her from herself.

She must have seen that as promising him the same thing.

And so she had taken on the Killing Holder title.

“!”

His eyes looked to Yuuki rather than the much closer slash.

He would protect her just as he had promised.

So he would not use the Flame High.

He would not win to protect her.

Would you say I’ll be protecting her to protect her?

He realized there was something more powerful than Words inside him.

It was a great power.

He recalled when he had first met Yuuki.

When she had rescued him from below the collapsed house, she had first told him her name.

Yuuki.

It had been crudely pronounced and that had been everything.

He only thought for a split second.

His movements were also instantaneous.

As the slash moved toward him, he spread his legs on the beach, raised his right arm, and opened his mouth.

And he gave a yell.

“———!”

He tried to force her name from his throat.

But he failed at that.

A different voice escaped him.

It was a lot like the very first voice anyone made in their life.

It was like a baby’s cry.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

Immediately, Souichirou’s sword swung down with Kusanagi’s power wrapped around it.

But…

“!?”

Shoui raised his right hand with no Rhythm around it and without using a single Tech.

And the instant his hand touched the slash, Kusanagi vanished.

It changed.

The Device became nothing more than a blade.

But its momentum was not lost.

The blade split Shoui’s right palm.

The silver line sliced off his thumb and its base.

But that diverted it away from his head.

As soon as the blade dug into his flesh, Shoui had swung his arm outwards.

The slight shift to the sword’s path led it into his right shoulder, down into his collar bone, and even lower.

Souichirou’s attack fell straight down and split Shoui’s shoulder and right chest.

With a great noise, the sword pressure whipped up the sand and Shoui’s right arm flew through the air.

Needless to say, this did not stop Shoui.

He swung up his left fist.

He squeezed the golden ring hidden inside.

He turned it toward Souichirou who had just swung the sword down.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

Souichirou – Dodge Tech – Counter-Take – Dodge – Miss!!

Shoui’s fist dug into Souichirou’s side.

The sound if impact was followed by three light sounds much like a branch breaking underfoot.

At the same time, Souichirou’s body floated up a little.

His head drooped down and he fell to his knees.

Meanwhile, Shoui took a step back and sighed.

An approaching wave washed at his feet while he looked to his right shoulder.

There was no arm attached.

He could see his shoulder’s skin and the bone jutted out past the flesh.

“…”

He sighed again.

It was a breath of relief.

With that relaxing breath, the flesh swelled out, hiding the protruding bone.

And allowing the blood to gush out.

“!”

He was hit by the recoil of the blood spurting out with the force of his pulse.

He felt great exhaustion and the shock of blood loss.

He realized his vision was tilting and the ocean was gradually growing vertical.

Oh, I’m falling over.

Once he realized that, the sand filled the left side of his vision.

He felt exhausted and the right half of his body was soaked with something warm.

Even as he succumbed to the desire for sleep, he tried to hold his right shoulder with his left hand but then stopped.

His left fist held Takada’s ring.

He could not get it dirty.

“I can’t believe this.”

Shoui spoke for the first time in several days and shut his eyes.

His mind quickly fell into the darkness.


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