City Series:Volume4b Prologue

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Prologue: Hidden Special Moves (Command List) – (12/19/1996)[edit]

Who has succeeded in the great attempt,

To be a friend's friend,

Whoever has won a lovely woman,

Add his to the jubilation!

Indeed, who calls at least one soul

Theirs upon this world!

And whoever never managed, shall steal himself

Weeping away from this union.


(From Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”)

Part 1[edit]

6:58 PM

A pure white light filled the large room.

Those inside the room wore white. They all wore pristine lab coats.

All of the computers and desks filling the room were just as white.

It was a sterile space.

But the large window in the wall opposite the entrance was dark. It gave a view of the subterranean darkness beyond.

Through there, the Ixolde Babel Gun could be seen extending further underground.

Ixolde’s control room functioned within that clear divide between white and black.

The only sounds were quiet footsteps and typing at keyboards.

Time passed calmly.

Suddenly, a long, pleasant beep sounded.

The large digital clock on the wall by the entrance had struck seven.

On that signal, everyone stopped moving.

Those carrying documents, those typing, and everyone else looked to the clock.

Then one man in a lab coat started to move.

He wore an armband indicating he was the room’s manager.

It said, “Osaka Science and Chemistry Research Alliance Head”.

He wordlessly walked down the room’s center aisle and toward everyone’s gazes.

His feet took him below the clock gathering so much attention and he stopped at a terminal there.

As soon as he arrived, the clock’s display changed to 7:01.

“…”

He maintained his silence as he looked up at the clock.

He bent over to peer at the screen instead of sitting at the terminal’s chair.

The screen displayed a small blue window on a white background.

The window was a password prompt.

He stared at the question there and opened his mouth.

“To settle the east-west split begun by the Kinki Riot, Osaka will create the ultimate Rhythm and use its power to subjugate Japan. …That’s what you call peace by deterrence.”

No one said anything in response, but he was not done speaking.

“Including our upperclassmen, we’ve all worked hard for the past ten years.”

And…

“We will now record the ultimate Rhythm: Yamata, aka the Flame High.”

The prompt asked a question.

“1st Lock: What is your wish?”

“>Peace”

“2nd Lock: Who is your wish?”

“>A King”

“3rd Lock: What is your need?”

“>A Rhythm”

“4th Lock: Really?”

“>No, not really.”

“5th Lock: Really?”

“>Yes, not really.”

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

“>Original Words”

“Complete…!”

The conversation with the machine ended there.

The screen briefly displayed a graph.

The white bar instantly filled up to 100% and then closed.

The Flame High had been recorded.

That announced the end of a decade’s worth of research.

But no one moved.

That meant there was no noise.

However, the armband-wearing Alliance Head looked away from the screen and straightened up.

Without turning around, he spoke on behalf of everyone behind him.

“…That was kind of anti-climactic.”

He laughed a little.

“Now, let’s get the data in the underground pocket, send it to the storage room, and seal it in the MD.”

As he spoke, a single clapping sound rang through the room.

?

He turned around in confusion.

Then another clap came from somewhere.

Before he could ask anything, more and more clapping filled the air.

The overlapping sounds were applause.

Chairs could be heard scraping on the floor as the previously unmoving people stood up.

As the applause sounded, papers spilled to the floor with a sound much like a crashing wave.

The girl carrying the documents had dropped them in her attempt to applaud.

That sound elicited laughter from the others.

Rather than hurrying to transfer the recorded data to the storage room, the Alliance Head looked at them all and nodded.

A moment later, a shrill beep came from the terminal below the clock.

Part 2[edit]

7:02 PM

“!?”

They all stopped applauding.

Their gazes pierced through the Alliance Head as they looked to the terminal.

He looked back as if thrown around by those gazes.

He found a new black space in front of him.

The terminal’s screen had blacked out.

“…?”

He grabbed the edge of the screen and peered at it.

A white cursor appeared at the upper left of the black screen and the same question as before appeared again.

“Is this an error?”

Focusing on action over words, he reached for the keyboard.

The keys he pressed were immediately written out by the cursor.

“So it’s responding… Everyone, back to your posts!”

With that, he pulled out the chair and sat down.

He pulled the keyboard close and resumed his conversation with the machine.

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

The repeated password prompt was asking for the final answer.

He answered by trying to quit.

“>exit”

But…

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

He only got the same question again.

He thought for a bit and tried again.

“>Original Words”

And…

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

The question would not stop appearing.

“…!?”

It was no longer responding to the keyboard.

Something was wrong, so he shouted on reflex.

“This is an emergency! Status report!”

At that moment, fire burst from the terminal’s screen.

“!”

It was not an explosion. It was a directional flame, much like from a flamethrower.

For just an instant, the terminal spewed a bonfire-like flame as if it had become a burning altar.

The machine burned.

The Alliance Head rolled from the chair to escape the heat and intensity of this abnormality.

But his eyes remained glued to the terminal as it burned to ash. He viewed the machine that Ashed into nothingness without leaving a single scorch mark on the wall or floor.

He watched that audible fire and shouted a name.

“The Flame High!?”

At the same time, an alarm sounded from the speaker on the ceiling. The room’s white lights vanished at the same time.

Deep red warning lights switched on in place of those fluorescent ones.

Tension rapidly filled the control room and someone’s voice raced through the room.

“Someone has hacked into Ixolde’s control computer!”

“Into the completely isolated control system!?”

“It’s a direct connection from within! The target firewall’s spoofing supplement was broken through two minutes ago!”

“You moron! Even if they’re inside, could they really break through the defenses!?”

Something answered that shouted question.

The Ixolde Babel Gun gave a roar outside the large window.

It was a great roar.

“Wha-…!?”

The sound acted as a physical blow as it mixed with the alarm and shook their bodies and the room.

Then that machine, which looked like it was made from linked-together containers, began a rapid transformation.

While shaking and producing a mechanical cry, it erased its seams and strengthened its connections.

The mass of metal wriggled like a giant snake.

“A Live transformation!? Is it a Tuner?”

“No! There’s no interference at its Octave! This is…a Word Master!”

“You mean there’s a Word Master capable of transforming Ixolde at will?”

“There’s no other way to explain this! They didn’t hack into Ixolde! They tamed its kotodama!”

The Babel Gun raised a metallic cry as needle-like objects jutted out from it.

Those needles split and spread out thinly to become leaves.

The metal leaves grew out from the seams between containers like heat sinks.

Several of them stuck out long and sharp on either side and straight line veins were visible on them.

Ixolde was rearranging its Live to become a flower.

But that was not all.

That vast underground space was covered by a ceiling. The Babel Gun’s base was attached to that, but it was torn away by a great force pulling downward.

The giant metal stalk rose like a cobra head and the head instantly became a flower bud.

The growth and transformation produced great noise.

Several cracks ran through that bud and an intense noise rang out.

It was blooming.

What had been a machine was blooming as a flower with the alarm, the metallic noises, and the sounds of impact acting as its cries of birth.

It was red.

Even in the red lights of the alarm, it was noticeably deep red as it spread out.

The red flower blossomed in the darkness.

Scarlet ivy wrapped around its stalk, its leaves, and its flower.

That ivy was fire.

The flames raced up from below and wrapped tightly around the surface of the flower petals.

The flower burned.

Just like the terminal, the giant red flower of metal was instantly wrapped in scarlet flames.

It crumbled.

With a roar much like that of a waterfall, the metal blossom crumbled in the darkness.

The roar of impacts created by the bright flames assaulted everyone watching.

“————!!”

Then tension and screams filled their surroundings.

The crumbling flower was falling toward the control room.

Before they could even gasp, the burning red flower petals filled the entire window.

The Alliance Head tried to say something to them all, but…

“Take cover!”

With a roaring voice behind them, the wind raced in.

Part 3[edit]

7:04 PM

A shimmering of heat raced through the center of the room.

The shimmering was heading for the large window and the flower beyond.

Someone’s Words rang out.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!”

The shimmering responded by producing Kusanagi.

A spatial cutting power that could slice through anything raced in a straight line and broke the large window.

With the repeated sounds of shattering glass and dull impacts, the power collided with the flower.

A few screams filled the air and everything was drowned out by the wind and heat.

But the flower and its petals were sliced through, the flames were blown away, and they all fell into the darkness.

Every student in Osaka knew who could pull off something like this: Nanba Souichirou, the Ogre Buster who wielded Kusanagi.

He stood in the control room’s entrance and did not lower his raised sword.

“We have an attacker! And once the space underneath here burns, the entire area will collapse!”

A few of them nodded at Souichirou’s words, a few moved, and one spoke.

“Something activated the mid-level freight elevator and it’s headed to this floor!”

The enemy was ascending from underground.

This enemy had tamed Ixolde and controlled the Flame High to burn the giant flower.

As if to confirm that fact, all of the computer screens blacked out below the red lights.

Everyone saw white text on the black screens before their eyes.

“6th Lock: …Then what is your need?”

The machine asked the question none of them could answer.

The battle was beginning.


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