City Series:Volume4b Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Prologue to the Final Battle (New Stage Introduction) – (12/24/1996)[edit]

Part 1[edit]

4:40 PM

The setting winter sun was a deep red.

It was not the warm color of autumn twilight or the piercing color of a summer afternoon.

It was only a moment of color changing into the darkness of the heavy sunset.

That red washed over the city of Osaka every day.

The red and the shadows created a powerful contrast on the white walls of Osaka Castle in the center of the city and the waves of roof tiles dully reflected the light.

It was a strong color.

The Kyobashi bridge to the northwest gave a diagonal view of Osaka Castle where one could look up at the colors of that light and shadow.

Someone was viewing Osaka Castle from atop the Kyobashi bridge.

There were two of them: Tokyo Chancellor Nakamura Hisahide and Vice Chancellor Aoi Hijiri.

Nakamura stood in the center of the bridge with his MD’s headphones still in his ears.

Hijiri stood next to him with her arms crossed and looking in the same direction as him.

A few people were walking by or leaving behind them, but those two ignored the flow of people and kept their eyes on the castle.

They did not move.

Instead, one of them spoke.

It was Hijiri.

“So the battle’s coming up soon, is it?”

She pulled a flyer from her pocket that she had torn from a wall somewhere.

The flyer said that Kansai’s Chancellor’s Officers were holding a Christmas party at Osaka Castle that day.

All current and former members of the Chancellor’s Officers were invited.

But even as late as it was, Osaka Castle was not prepared for a party and no preparations were underway.

Hijiri looked to the castle.

“The party is probably camouflage to give us a battlefield. They want to keep the damage contained, unlike during the Kinki Riot.” She sighed, tore up the flyer, and dropped it into the moat. “What do you think? We could always ignore their invitation and make them look like fools.”

She asked her question, but Nakamura did not answer.

He kept his eyes on the castle without looking back and Hijiri turned in his direction for just a moment.

He was staring straight ahead.

There was strength in his gaze.

He was focused.

And that powerful focus was quite serious.

He used his gaze to direct that internal strength straight ahead.

But his facial expression was horribly lacking in heat.

Even with the setting sun shining on the side of his face, he stared forward with a cooled expression.

He would seem expressionless if not for his eyes.

It was the look of a Killing Holder.

“…”

Hijiri looked away from him.

She breathed a bitter laugh mixed with a sigh of relief as if she had resigned herself to something.

“Are you gonna go for it before they gather there? …Or are you gonna wait?”

Nakamura did not answer, but she did not mind.

She glanced toward the city.

“There are more and more from the Chancellor’s Officers and Houzenji Group hanging around. I bet the tourists will be driven out of the castle before long.”

Nakamura still did not acknowledge her words.

Hijiri smiled bitterly at him.

She uncrossed her arms and placed her hands on the bridge’s railing.

Since she did not look Nakamura’s way, she seemed to be speaking to herself.

“If you say something, will what’s hidden inside come spilling out?” she asked.

There was no response.

Nakamura said nothing.

But he did move.

Still looking to Osaka Castle, he turned to face the castle’s entrance.

“…”

He began walking.

One beat later, Hijiri followed through the blowing north wind.

She remained behind him instead of lining up beside him.

They walked toward the castle grounds.

Toward the site of the scheduled party.

In the setting sun, the uninvited guests entered the battlefield before anyone else.

Hijiri said one thing on the bridge dividing the city from the battlefield.

“…I wonder if Takahiro will show up.”

Part 2[edit]

6:30 PM

The chill of the night was beginning to descend from the sky.

Shoui was lying down, but he had already woken up.

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

His upward-facing vision saw the ceiling of Nandaimon’s detached room.

This had been his room 2 years before.

The room was bright.

The ceiling’s fluorescent light was on.

“…”

His eyes could see the scene around him, but his head was far from clear.

It felt like waking from a long sleep.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Awaken Mind – Hit.

After a single powerful heartbeat, the blood slowly rose through his neck and to his head.

He trembled.

He felt the cold.

He sat up.

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

He found himself in a nostalgic place.

He removed the blanket covering him and revealed his body.

The chilly air hit his skin and he realized he was not wearing his inner suit.

He crossed his arms to keep out the cold, but his skin still felt the cold quite sensitively.

The cold brought back his body’s senses.

Similarly, all of his memories returned.

And he realized why he was here.

In his battle with Souichirou…

My right arm.

He had lost a part of his body.

However, he was currently crossing his arms.

That meant he had the right arm that Souichirou had chopped off.

He looked to that arm.

From the shoulder to the fingertips, it was entirely contained in bandages.

He had his arm.

It was wrapped in bandages, but when he tried to open the hand, he had no trouble moving it. He had feeling in the fingers as well.

Was I healed?

Just as he wondered that…

“Shoui! Shoui! Have you woken up!?”

He heard a voice from outside and the large window was shoved open.

He saw the darkness of the night.

He felt the chill of the night.

That chilly expanse opened up before his eyes.

And Senga stood in the center of it.

Their eyes immediately met.

Shoui was unsure what to say.

“Umm, long time no see?”

“What are you talking about, moron? We saw each other just two days ago.”

“I’m pretty sure we only passed by each other on the beach…”

After saying that, Shoui was relieved to find he actually could speak.

And then he realized what she had actually said.

“…Two days ago? I was out for that long?”

“You weren’t just out. I’ll explain everything, so come on out of there.”

“Oh, right, right, right.”

He nodded, got out of the bed, and tried to stand up.

“?”

He felt something at his feet.

There was a small paper bag by the pillow.

“What is this…?” he muttered while picking it up.

There was something light and soft inside.

Who left this?

No one answered his question.

He heard something else instead.

“Hurry it up, Shoui! Get a move on!”

Senga yelled at him from outside.

He sighed, lightly folded the bag, and stuck it in the hidden pocket of his pants.

And he walked.

He was a little unsteady on his feet, but he regained his balance after a few steps.

He closed the large window Senga had opened and circled around to the front door.

He put on his shoes which were lying there and opened the door.

“Shoui! Hurry up and put this on.”

He found Senga’s rushed voice as well as an inner suit and coat dumped over his head.

The clothes were obscuring his vision, so he set them on the ground and looked to Senga.

“Old Lady Senga.”

“What is it?”

“Before I put on the inner suit.” He pointed to his right shoulder. “Can I remove the bandages on my right arm?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m skeptical that it was completely healed in only 2 days after being so cleanly lopped off.”

The anti-shock reflective material inner suit both reduced any impacts and strengthened his body’s movements. If he was still injured, any vigorous activity could instantly reopen the wound.

So he asked.

“Was it fully healed?”

“Of course it was. That’s why you were asleep for so long.” Senga smiled bitterly. “On the Emperor’s own orders, you were given the best Tune healing Japan has to offer and a group from Detroit was called in for some Live modifications. Two days was enough, so remove the bandages.”

He did as he was told.

Shoui – Surgical Tech – Take – Remove Bandage – Miss.

“Huhh?”

“What are you even doing…?”

Senga – Surgical Tech – Take – Remove Bandage – Hit.

Senga slowly removed the bandages and they fell to the hard ground in front of the detached room.

Shoui watched the bandages fall away and scratched his head with his left hand.

“I always had Yuuki do this, so I’m no good at it.”

His voice faded away toward the end.

He had seen his right arm exposed in the air.

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

His right arm was now a red biological prosthetic.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Accept – Hit.

“Is this…?”

He looked to his right arm with no shock or confusion.

It looked like a human arm, but it was not.

When he held it up toward the moon, he could tell exactly what it was.

It was vermilion.

The arm was made from a glossy vermilion that looked a lot like blood and stood out even in the dark night.

And black stripes of lightning patterns were visible on the developed muscles.

Shoui – Military Tech – Take – Identify Weapon – Hit.

Shoui – Commercial Tech – Take – Identify Product – Hit.

He used two different Techs, but he could find no knowledge on this false arm.

He had never seen anything like it.

Senga identified it for him.

“That’s the ogre’s arm.”

He looked back in surprise and she nodded.

“It was made using the Lives of the ogre arm severed by Nanba Souichirou. But the base of the actual biological matter came from your severed arm and…” She hesitated a moment. “The arm of Yamashita Gihei who you killed.”

“…”

Shoui said nothing about the origin of his new arm.

With a serious expression, he simply raised his right arm, thrust it forward, and clenched the fist.

“It’s a great false arm.”

“It’s an honor, isn’t it?”

“What’s it called?”

“There is no literature about a false arm made from an ogre, so you could even call it the Ogre God if you wanted.”

“I see. Would this make me a Steel Forcer instead of a Critical Forcer?”

“No, I think you could call yourself whichever you wanted. It was made to be no different from a normal arm, so ability-wise, you’re still a Critical Forcer.”

Shoui smiled bitterly at that.

“For being made from an ogre’s arm, it’s a pretty boring prosthetic.”

“Yes, save for one power.”

“Power?”

“It can ignore the Flame High. Thanks to the ogre’s Lives,” explained Senga. “Since you still can’t use your power as a Loudist very well, that should help you out.”

“…Huh?”

“What do you mean ‘huh’?”

“Well, uh…you said ignoring the Flame High should help me out.” He tilted his head. “But why would that help me?”

“You moron. Kantou and Kansai are about to clash at Osaka Castle!”

“Ho ho. Well, isn’t that something?”

“And you’re going too.”

“Eh?”

He froze just as he was staring to put on the inner suit.

“Why am I going?”

Senga sighed and brought an exasperated hand to her forehead.

“Do you not remember the Rhythm you used to defeat Nanba Souichirou?”

“…”

“Do you not remember the power that negated his Kusanagi?”

He did remember.

His right arm had negated Kusanagi’s sword pressure the instant he touched it.

But even after Kusanagi vanished, the blade itself remained and chopped off his right arm.

“What was-…?”

Before he could finish his question, Senga slapped his right arm.

“It was your will. It’s a Rhythm meant to protect instead of fight. It’s the Heavy Rhythm that stands opposite of the Flame High and is easiest to use for a Loudist.”

“And I used it?”

“Yes, only a Loudist familiar with all Rhythms and Techs can understand that soundless Rhythm. That blocking Rhythm negates any other Rhythm it touches.” She sighed. “It was once used by Kuki Udai alongside Nakamura Midori who used the Flame High. …And because it is soundless, it is a Rhythm that can be used without using a Rhythm.”

Shoui looked to his left hand.

Can I really use something like that?

He had used it.

He did not know how.

While fighting Souichirou, he had seen Yuuki standing on the beach embankment.

It had happened the instant he had wanted to protect her instead of escape the Flame High or win.

He remembered a certain will within him.

So he spoke.

“That power is needed, isn’t it?”

“Hurry to Osaka Castle.”

“Are the Flame High…and Yuuki there?”

“Yes, they are. …But your power is probably still unstable, so use that Ogre God well as you fight. Your enemy has the Harmonist’s power. Don’t let your guard down and screw up like you always do.”

“It’s not that I let my guard down. I screw up all the time because I’m weak.”

He smiled bitterly and put on his inner suit.

He fastened it to the suit on his lower body to cover his entire body in a single suit.

And then he put on the coat.

“Does my Rhythm have a name?”

“The Storm High.”

“The Storm High?”

“And as a Heavy Rhythm, it’s also known as Totsuka.” She took a breath. “It’s the Totsuka-no-Tsurugi from when Susanoo chopped off Yamata-no-Orochi’s heads.”

“I see,” said Shoui with a nod.

The coat had the right sleeve removed to accommodate the false arm.

He lightly swung the ogre’s right arm to double-check how it felt.

“Okay, I’ll be going.”

“You forgot this.”

Senga held out his bandanna.

He smiled a little and took it.

He wrapped it around his forehead.

When his hand touched it, he felt the chill of the split forehead protector.

It had been split by Yamashita Gihei’s attack 2 years before.

It all started here.

With that thought, he bowed toward Senga.

And he started walking.

The walk quickly grew to a jog and then a run.

The gravel crunched below his feet as he raced through the winter darkness.

He ran.

Shoui – Savate Tech – Take – Sprint – Hit!

He ran down the path leading to the shrine.

The wind was blowing.

It was a powerful north wind.

Part 3[edit]

7:01 PM

The moon was out.

That pale yellow and somewhat waning light was directly above the city of Osaka.

The moonlight was endlessly wavering.

The heated air at the surface was producing a shimmering effect.

The year-end city was trying to warm itself even if the sky was cold.

The strongest shimmering was located above Osaka Castle in the center of the city and it produced turbulent air.

Osaka Castle had been the site of countless battles in the past and it had been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt.

The only lights illuminating it were the reddish-brown streetlights shining on the cherry trees lining the inner moat.

That unfocused light lit up the castle from below, giving it a different look from the day.

It was a frightening look.

Three people were approaching that frightening form from straight ahead.

Osaka Chancellor Nanba Souichirou.

Nagoya Chancellor Yamashita Taeko.

Koto Chancellor Yuuki Yuuki.

At the plaza in front of Otemon Gate, they left Saki Seiji and Iwai Sanzou who had come to see them off and then they ran toward main castle tower.

Since starting a minute before, they were sticking together and none of them were out of breath.

They were surrounded by darkness. There were tall stone walls, trees, and lawns.

Taeko spoke to no one in particular while second in line.

“The wind sure is picking up.”

“That is because the city lights have begun to come on,” replied Souichirou in the lead.

He wore an armored shell built for mobility.

It looked like armor missing most of its parts and it supported and strengthened the wearer’s movements.

Both his prosthetic and the mobile shell produced quiet mechanical sounds as he moved.

“Listen. As I said before, this battle will-…”

“Act as a trigger to bring the east and west together whether we win or lose, right? …But do the two from Tokyo know that?”

According to those on guard duty, their enemy was only the Tokyo Chancellor and Vice Chancellor. The two of them had been on the way to the main castle tower.

Of course, those two would know nothing of what was occurring at the center of Osaka.

So Souichirou narrowed his eyes a little and did not answer Taeko.

He sped up.

“Whatever the case, I want to win this.”

“Well, we did leave everyone waitin’ in the parkin’ lot. …I’d love to win and then go listen to the outdoor concert of Beethoven’s 9th.”

A powerful gust of wind seemed to blow Taeko’s carefree voice away.

“Is it gonna rain?” she asked while looking up into the night sky.

Yuuki also looked into the night sky while following behind the other two.

She stared at a certain point in the sky.

And at the same time…

Yuuki – Savate Tech – Take – Sprint – Hit!

She moved out ahead.

“Ah! Hey! What’re ya in such a hurry for!?”

Yuuki ignored Taeko and kept going.

A small form followed behind her.

“!?”

It was a Dog God.

It hurried its small body to pursue her.

It was about a meter away from her.

But Yuuki did not even glance toward the Dog God.

Yuuki – Spear/Throw Tech – Multi-Take – Throw – Hit!

She opened Housei in her hand.

She used centrifugal force to spin the giant staff and then threw it into the air.

Yuuki – Steel/Military Tech – Multi-Take – Suzaku Ver. 40 Link – Hit!

Her right false eye, Phoenix, connected with the heavens.

A moment later, lightning struck Housei as it flew through the sky.

It was a white light.

The sound arrived afterwards.

Housei fell while wrapped in light.

Yuuki ran.

The giant staff fell with enough force to stab into the ground, but she snatched it from midair.

To negate the falling centrifugal force, she powerfully spun Housei in one hand.

The afterimage of the ether light surrounding it drew arcs just like neon lights.

With each arc of light, her vermilion uniform shined in the darkness and her black hair flew.

She appeared to be dancing.

Taeko sighed while following after her.

“Yer too much for me.”

“In what way?”

“In that ya can do anything even if yer not aware of it.”

“Awareness can be harmful in some things,” said Souichirou without even looking their way.

Taeko smiled bitterly.

“That’s true enough…”

Meanwhile, they reached a fork in the road.

Heading north would take them to the inner moat and east would take them to the main castle tower.

Yuuki chose the tower route.

Souichirou and Taeko turned in that direction a moment later, but…

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

“There’s an enemy here!”

“But the report said those two were at the tower!”

“It’s another one! There were 3 of them to start with!!”

With that shout, Taeko jumped to the side.

She faced north, toward the inner moat.

She had sensed the enemy’s presence there.

That girl with a giant false arm attached to her left shoulder disappeared behind the stone wall in an instant.

But neither Souichirou nor Yuuki pursued her.

They did not even turn in her direction.

But Souichirou did call out to her.

“Give it your all and do not worry about us!!”

His shout lasted an instant.

The two figures ran toward the central circle in front of the tower.

They entered a garden with a pond.

And…

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

He said nothing.

But he did look to Yuuki and the Dog God as they ran away.

Souichirou – Gym Tech – Take – Stop – Hit!

His prosthetic legs and the heels of his mobile shell creaked as he slid to a stop on the gravel.

He too had noticed the enemy he needed to fight.

“Koto Chancellor, I leave the last one to you!!”

Yuuki did not respond.

She continued running.

She passed through the central circle and ran up the zigzagging stone steps.

She was not out of breath.

Her pace remained steady.

She simply ran and looked up while sticking in her headphones.

She looked to the roof of Osaka Castle’s main tower.

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

She found the enemy.

And at the same time…

Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!

She jumped.

She used the railing running down the center of the stairs as a stepping stone and she jumped up to the entranceway’s roof.

Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!

And without a running start, she jumped up to the left and onto the second floor’s roof.

She continued from there.

Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!

Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!
Yuuki – Mind Tech – Take – Ignore Pain – Hit.
Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!

She grimaced at the pain from her ankle.

But she ignored even her own body’s pain.

She took a breath and continued up.

Her feet could be heard kicking off the roof tiles.

With each jump, her vision grew higher and the wind stronger.

The city of Osaka gradually spread out below her.

She was high up.

But she continued jumping regardless.

Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!

She saw the roof of the main tower.

Yuuki – Gym/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Great Leap – Hit!

She arrived there.

Yuuki stood on the waves of roof tiles and looked ahead.

The night sky was spread out before her.

After climbing so high, the sky was at eye level.

It was the dark sky of a winter night. The moon seemed to ripple in the wind and the shimmering heat.

There were dark clouds low in the sky.

They were likely due to the ether supply from Suzaku Ver. 40. The vibration of the air had produced the clouds.

“…”

She looked down at her feet.

The Dog God was swaying with its front paws caught on the edge of the roof.

It had somehow managed to climb this high.

She looked away without helping it the rest of the way up. She confirmed where it was she stood.

She was on the southwest edge of the roof.

It was a poor place for a battle without railings.

She looked up and walked forward.

She walked up the sloped roof.

And…

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

She saw someone standing on the very top of the roof.

She knew who it was: Tokyo Chancellor Nakamura Hisahide.

He was staring down at the city.

But he already had headphones in his ears.

What should he do?

What did he want?

His music eloquently answered every question.

He moved his eyes to look across the city of Osaka.

“So you’re here.”

He spoke into the wind.

But instead of speaking again, he took a single action.

He smiled.

It was not an audible laugh.

Nor did his body shake.

He simply glared down at Osaka’s nightscape, put a powerful smile on his lips, and raised both arms.

Flames burst grandly from his hands.

This was the fire of the Flame High.

It roared and lit up the heavens from below, but he did not stop smiling.

His eyes were now looking at Yuuki instead of Osaka.

Killer intent filled those eyes.

And his mouth produced more words.

“Now, it’s time to become king!”

With that, Nakamura won the initiative.


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