Owari no Chronicle:Volume10 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Lone Defiance
Do you grow defiant
Because you have lost?
Is it a smoldering resentment?
In a large dark space, the ceiling could not be seen overhead and the four walls were only visible due to the faint illumination.
The vast space was several kilometers long, but it was not filled with darkness.
The color of illumination filled it without any actual light.
Shadows fell from the ceiling, but the shadows were the only darkness in the thoroughly illuminated space.
That illumination was dim, but it was even across the entire space.
Two new shadows appeared in that space filled only with the shadows from above.
The shadows produced two sets of footsteps and the sound of metal jabbing into the floor.
The former were the footsteps of a man and girl wearing black. The latter was the sound of the man’s metal cane.
As the metallic sound continued, the man spoke to the girl following behind him.
“Well, Sf? What do you have to say about this space?”
“Tes. It is approximately three kilometers long and five hundred meters wide. I believe it is located approximately three hundred meters underground.”
“Hah. What a dull answer. Don’t you have a subroutine for giving stupid answers to your master’s questions?”
“Tes. I have determined such a subroutine would displease you. Our time together is to be harmonious, so it would not be a desirable function.”
“Sf, from what I’ve seen, our time together always angers me.”
Itaru gave a dubious look and Sf nodded toward his back.
“Tes. Your blood pressure never rises above average. A high average, but average.”
“Tell me what I’m supposed to do if I have questions about that decision of yours.”
“Tes.” Sf nodded again with her usual expressionless look. “Itaru-sama, try to grow up. …Of course, that is something I cannot understand as an automaton.”
Itaru silently faced forward and quickened his pace and Sf followed with long strides.
Her voice rang out along with their overlapping footsteps.
“But what is this place? I can guess it is some sort of storage room, but that is all.”
“In that case, Sf, try telling me where we are.”
“Tes.” She nodded for the third time. “This is the sixth basement of Japanese UCAT. It should be beyond the bottom of the massive pit in the fifth basement’s large storage room. It is an unknown location and we passed through a concept barrier, so my reference point may be a little off.”
“No, you are correct. German UCAT’s coordinate measurement system did an excellent job of grasping our location. …To be clear, I’m not praising you here.”
“Tes. Do not worry. I am fair in my work and I take pride in my own functionality. Therefore, praising me for another’s work or simply for being an automaton would be an insult to all machines.”
“However, I am not to let you do any unnecessary work and that means you will never receive praise. …Ergo, you are unworthy of praise. That was your own request.”
“Hah. So I’m worthless, am I? That’s the highest praise you could give me. Every so often, the heartless expressions of a machine can tell the truth.”
“Tes. I will interpret that as praise of my word choice.”
Itaru slowed his pace, looked over his shoulder, and clearly frowned toward her.
“What kind of nonsense is that? …Follow me.”
“Tes. That praise far exceeds the upper limit I had set for myself.”
She jogged to catch up and fell into step just behind him.
“Where are we going, Itaru-sama?”
He stopped without replying, but that was because they had arrived at the center of the large space.
The space was empty, but…
Sf frowned as she looked into the surrounding emptiness.
Her lifted gaze saw countless representations of objects in every direction.
They were collections of shadow.
Those faint shadows had a shape only visible when straining one’s eyes, but the space was filled with countless cubes measuring several dozen meters across.
As Sf looked overhead and slowly rotated on her heel, Itaru spoke.
“This is the center of the concept space where the string vibration density is highest. That is why the truth of this space is visible here. Tell me what you think those giant shadows are, Sf.”
“I have determined they are rooms. It is a floor that was purged and sealed inside the concept space.”
“They were not purged. They are merely not allowed to exist.”
“Not allowed? By who?”
The master did not answer his maid’s question. Instead, he let out a weary sigh.
“My generation’s UCAT is here.”
“Ten years ago when it was sealed here, I never thought things would turn out like this. It’s ridiculous, Sf. Our place is now nothing but a storeroom.”
Before he finished speaking, Sf spotted a certain fact.
Ten manmade objects sat on the floor that had been empty before.
“Those are the Concept Core storage pallets.”
They were large white pallets meant to transport something. Like giant bento boxes, they could be fully sealed and they all had different sizes.
The farthest and second farthest to the left were only about three meters across, but the third was as large as a god of war transport pallet and the fourth was a half cylinder like a plastic greenhouse.
The fifth was the largest at over fifty meters across, the sixth was about the size of the first two, the seventh was a car-sized pallet divided into four blocks, and the eighth, ninth, and tenth were the about the same as the first.
Sf glanced across the pallets that had suddenly appeared before them.
“The string vibrations shook…and then settled. I have determined that which was hidden has revealed itself. I also detect 1st, 2nd, and 9th concepts.”
“That’s right. Gram, Yamata, and B-Sp are here. They have a will of their own, so they must have come to greet us along with their concealed storage space. They can feel it,” he said while looking at the pallets. “They can sense the gathering of their comrades who once created worlds and fought them and they can sense the ones that desire them. And…they wish to see the answer.”
“You don’t know what I mean? Remember the Army? If they are going to make their move, it’ll be now. They will attack just before the Leviathan Road is completed by acquiring 7th’s Concept Core. I assume they intend to defeat Team Leviathan, steal the Concept Cores gathered here, and perhaps take hostages so they can demand any Concept Cores they lack. …It’s quite simple.”
“Tes. It is a simple sort of terrorism. But where is the crucial 7th-Gear Concept Core? Also…” She looked across the white pallets before her. “Are the Concept Cores not allies of Team Leviathan?”
“You will understand before long. But to put it simply, these Concept Cores want to hear the Army’s side of the story too. For now, I’ll just say this: they want to know the foundation of the Army’s righteousness and where they have taken that righteousness.”
When she heard bitterness in his voice, Sf turned to look at him.
He had a smile on his face and that smile bared his teeth while he looked directly ahead.
“Sf, did you hear about the attack on Izumo UCAT?”
“Tes. I hear Gyes-sama is working on an estimated criminal profile.”
“That’s going to have an interesting answer, but it’ll probably take a few hours to reach it.”
Sf frowned, but Itaru did not elaborate. The bitter smile on his lips said something else instead.
“The Army and a mysterious attacker are both on the move, but do you know what? That selfish Sayama sent my old man the paperwork for disbanding Team Leviathan. And tonight, he’s apparently entering the mountains to look for Professor Kinugasa’s house. Meanwhile Shinjou is taking a trip to Sakai to track down Shinjou Yukio.”
He slammed his cane against the floor and the noise echoed throughout the empty space.
“He has to know this is no time to leave, but Sayama is fixated on this information from the past. Why do you think he has chosen to leave the safety of Shinjou and his other teammates even though it could very well put himself and them in danger? Do you know, Sf?”
“No, but I do not need to know,” said Sf. “No matter what happens, they will carry out the Leviathan Road. There is no need for me to give the answer in their stead. I have determined their answer belongs to them and it is none of our business.”
“Hah. In other words, we should keep our mouths shut and watch what these selfish kids do?”
She nodded and took a step forward to stand by his side.
The ten white pallets were lined up in front of her and she opened her mouth in front of those containers that were each meant to hold a world.
“I have determined there is no need for us to guess at the answer to their resolve. After all, they will find that answer themselves. And until they do, we can rest easy, make no attempt to understand their actions, and make fun of them.”
“Are you trying to turn your master into a sarcastic person?”
“Tes,” she agreed while gently turning toward him left and bowing. “I have determined there is a reason for your actions, so please be derisive of all things, show bitterness to both the heavens and the earth, and let loose the ultimate sarcasm that can eat through both steel and flesh.”
She took a breath and closed her eyes while still bent in a bow.
“Once they learn the reason why, I have determined everyone will pour their thanks onto you.”
“H-hold on. Disband!? Why would we do that?”
A girl’s voice filled a dry library.
It was Kazami’s and it was accompanied by hurried footsteps.
She circled behind the others who sat around the table as she made her way behind the boy standing on the opposite end of the table.
By the time she arrived, he had already turned his expressionless face toward her.
Kazami stood in front of Sayama and ignored how Shinjou’s shoulders trembled next to him and how Baku’s fur bristled on his head.
“Listen, Sayama. What do you mean Team Leviathan will disband?”
Everyone else moved back at her sharp tone of voice, but Sayama remained unfazed.
She then began to think. Was she questioning him head-on because she thought it was her duty or because she personally felt angry with what he had said?
…It doesn’t matter.
She decided she would be asking him either way.
“Harakawa and Heo joined a month ago and we’ve gathered plenty of power with a god of war and mechanical dragon on our team. We can fight at our best no matter who challenges us. So why do we have to disband just as the enemy is arriving!?”
“I think you may already know half the answer, Kazami.”
For an instant, she did not understand what he had said.
Eh? she thought as he brought a hand to his head.
He grabbed Baku, placed the creature on the table, and turned his usual expressionless look back toward her.
“I will leave Baku behind. With Team Leviathan disbanded, he is not mine to take. I will be pursuing Professor Kinugasa out of my own interest, so I hope someone else can take care of him.”
As he spoke and ignored her protests, her thoughts ground to a halt.
She could not believe anything she was hearing.
She only understood that Sayama was trying to act on his own.
…And he has no intention to discuss it or to stop.
It felt like he was saying he would win if he remained in motion.
The term “ex post facto approval” appeared in her mind. Her dislike of the term led her to speak out of reflex.
“You can’t just decide this for us! There’s more to Team Leviathan than just you!”
Oh, this isn’t good, thought the rational portion of her mind as she grabbed his suit collar and pulled him toward her.
Hiba started to move in, but Mikage stopped him.
“She needs to say this.”
Pushed on by those words, Kazami faced forward.
Past her pulling arm, she felt Sayama’s existence as a weight.
“You have teammates. This is the place where you can get serious, there are people who need you here, and the enemy is coming. Why are you trying to have us disband!?”
“As I said, half of the reason is already obvious.”
“Not to me it isn’t! You need to say it plainly!” She took a breath. “I thought I was going to die countless times, but I kept going! I even saved your life! Remember when I shot that werewolf in that Okutama forest!?”
She had been troubled by the fact that the werewolf had taken his own life, but…
…Are you saying my pain, that werewolf’s death, and the fact that I protected you and Shinjou were all meaningless?
“Who do you think you are? If saving you then was meaningless, then there’s no hope for us.”
However, he did not immediately reply to her thoughts. It was only after a long pause that he did so.
“This is not something that can be explained in words, Kazami.”
It was his usual calm voice and his words brought a certain thought to her mind.
That may have been true for him.
…Why would you choose now to say something like this?
It was true she might not understand it.
…But can’t you at least try to explain it? We’re not the same as you.
They had been through a lot together, even if for a short period of time. If they at all saw each other as teammates…
…We’ve worked so hard, so can’t you give some kind of explanation?
“And how can you say that? Is it that hard to trust the relationship we all have?”
Sayama did not answer her question.
Kazami felt his silence solidifying her course of action.
To her, the Leviathan Road and what she had gained here were important.
…But has everything we’ve done been pointless to him?
She then asked her final question.
“I don’t want to sound patronizing, so let me ask about the most important point again. If you don’t give me a proper answer, I will hit you. Why should Team Leviathan disband at this crucial time of all times?”
“I do not feel like saying.”
She stopped moving or even breathing as he spoke.
“Speaking with you has told me that you are immersed in the reason for this, so you would never understand even if I did explain it to you. You would only think you understood.”
Those words led her to tighten her left-handed grip on his collar.
She swung back her right arm and Shinjou’s eyes opened wide next to him.
“S-stop! You’ll cave his skull in!!”
I hope I do, she thought while swinging her right fist. She wanted to wipe that never-changing expressionless look off of his face.
“Stop it, Chisato!”
But just before she hit, Izumo’s voice seemed to steal the perfect moment from her.
And it all ended in an instant.
Arms passed below her arms and lifted her up.
Her feet rose from the floor as if she were weightless. The hand holding Sayama’s collar let go and flailed around, but she could not struggle with her wings without X-Wi on.
“W-wait, Kaku. Put me down. This is embarrassing.”
“I won’t, Chisato. If I put you down now, it won’t end well. We’ll all end up feeling bad.”
Izumo’s voice reached her from near her shoulder blades.
She suddenly realized that Hiba, Mikage, Harakawa, and Heo stood beyond Sayama and Shinjou.
Hiba was frowning and Mikage was tilting her head with her usual look.
Harakawa on the other hand was resting his head in his hand and looking off in another direction. Heo was clinging to his sleeve with a pale face.
Heo’s hand held his sleeve so tightly that it had turned white and he continued ignoring it all even though she was tugging so hard. Seeing that was a shock to Kazami.
The word “sorry” appeared in her mind and it led her to relax.
She felt Izumo sigh into her back.
“Hey, stupid Sayama. Can I ask you something?”
“What is it? Keep in mind that I will only answer serious questions.”
“Ha ha ha. Think back over everything I’ve ever said and go hang yourself, you idiot. …Now, are you listening? You may not be telling us your reason for this, but it’s not some stupid reason, is it?”
“I see.” Sayama frowned as if to say this was an unexpected question. “What would make you ask that? When have I ever said anything stupid?”
Shinjou expressionlessly elbowed him for that.
He curled up and held his side, but Shinjou ignored him and turned toward Kazami with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“Sorry. …But I’m pretty sure Sayama-kun wouldn’t give you his reason even if you killed him. And I also think all of us, myself included, will understand eventually.”
She spread her arms and got the words out quickly as if to fill the empty space.
“H-how about thinking of it like this? Team Leviathan isn’t disbanding, but Sayama-kun and I will leave just as we had planned. During that time, we will have nearly disbanded regardless of what you all think, so…”
“So while the two of you are gone, we should think about why he says we should disband? And if we haven’t found the answer by the time you return, we really will disband?”
It was true Team Leviathan could not function without those two and would have essentially disbanded. So if they realized why he wanted them to disband, they could join back together once those two returned.
…But this is a dangerous time.
Kazami brought a hand to her forehead while Izumo still held her in the air. She understood Shinjou’s compromise, but could they really leave Team Leviathan unable to function right after an attack? From a strategic standpoint, Sayama was their commander and Shinjou their gunner. Kazami could fill the role of gunner with G-Sp2’s second form.
…But who will be our commander?
She turned toward Sayama’s voice.
He pointed at her while standing up and removing his hand from his side.
“Listen,” he said expressionlessly. “In that case, I nominate you as Team Leviathan’s temporary negotiator.”
“You take command. And whether you are fighting, eating, or sleeping, allow anyone with a problem to consult with you.”
She was about to protest, but a sudden high-pitched voice cut her off.
“I-I think that’s a great idea!”
It was Heo.
She stood up in her gray uniform and drew back a bit as everyone turned toward her. The hand on Harakawa’s sleeve did not loosen, but she blushed.
“U-um, well, as a new member, I am reluctant to admonish a superior, but…”
“Why are you following that part of Japanese culture, Heo Thunderson?”
She was half in tears as she spoke to Harakawa who was still turned away.
“We finally got to join together, but there’s a bad atmosphere hanging over us right now! And, um, Kazami was about to hit Sayama’s insane head with her killer ape punch that can KO a gorilla!”
She took a deep breath while ignoring the various glares she was receiving.
“I-I don’t think it’s right to act like thisp!!”
She stumbled over the final word.
Only after shouting out did Heo realize what she had done.
She had tried to say something difficult in Japanese and had end up stumbling over the word.
There was nothing wrong with that in and of itself. She would occasionally do it at school, but the girls in her class said it was cute. However…
Cold sweat poured down her back as seven silent gazes bore down on her.
Oh, no, she thought again.
…I showed weakness in front of them.
But will I be okay? Will they overlook me because I’m the youngest?
Whenever someone showed weakness, they receive an attack from a world void of sense. That seemed to be the unwritten rule of this group. The boy named Hiba would often run off to buy cans of coffee and Heo assumed that was because they were taking advantage of some weakness of his.
I have to do something, she thought and that led her to take action.
“U-um, uh…” She forced a smile. “I-I think we should try to stay positive. Okay? Okay? Isn’t that right?”
The others exchanged a glance and finally nodded.
“Yes,” said Sayama while crossing his arms. “I apologize, Heo-kun. We should have been more composed. Yes.”
He gave a deep nod and Heo sighed in her heart. It looked like she was off the hook.
Sayama then gave a serious look to Izumo who still held Kazami.
“Izumo, Heo-kun is exactly right. Don’t you agreep?”
Oh, no, calmly thought Heo as she saw Izumo nod and rub his head against Kazami’s back.
“Yeah, she may have a point. We were getting a little harsh with each other. Isn’t that righp?”
“Ha ha ha ha ha. Izumo, I am glad to see you are an understanding manp.”
“It’s all thanks to Heo. This conversation is really turning out nicelyp.”
Seeing Heo fall silent, Shinjou frantically spoke up with a troubled look.
“S-Sayama-kun, Izumo-san! Don’t be mean to Heo like that! She’s a yankee girl who still isn’t used to this foreign culture, so her Japanese isn’t the best!”
Are you trying to kick me while I’m down? wondered Heo while tugging on a sleeve.
“Harakawa. What am I supposed to do when-… Why won’t you look at me!?”
“Don’t drag me into this, Heo Thunderson.”
She just about called him mean, but she was cut off by someone clapping their hands. The sound came from up above.
She looked over and saw Kazami frowning with her hands together.
“Okay, okay, okay. I’m sick of this, so let’s get it done with. Sayama and Shinjou will go on their trips as planned and return with whatever information they find. Meanwhile, we will think about Sayama’s riddle and any of you can consult with me if something happens. …That sums it up, right? But what if a representative of 7th approaches us for the Leviathan Road?”
“Tell them to wait until I return. It is only a trip into the mountains of Okutama, so it should only take me two days and one night. Until then, you can kill time by thinking about the reason for disbanding,” said Sayama. “But if they wish to fight, the battle will not be a part of the Leviathan Road. Think of it like the battles with the remnants of 6th and 10th in the past.”
“Okay, okay. Got it. …In other words, how to handle it is up to us. But,” she said while sharpening her gaze toward him. “I still haven’t accepted what you said.”
“And you never will as long as you are asking me. …Look to yourself for the answer.”
He gave a pause for thought before continuing.
“Oh, I know. I do have a hint for you: the answer is something even Shinjou-kun and I have. In other words, search for your own pasts. That is what this is about.”
“Yes. All of our pasts are different, but they will undoubtedly lead you to the reason I ordered for Team Leviathan to disband. …However, I do not expect you to understand at the moment because, right now, you do not desire your past.”
Heo saw Kazami wrinkle her brow and turn away. She seemed to be saying he was only giving excuses and therefore was not worth listening to.
After that, silence ruled their surroundings.
Shinjou gently held Sayama’s right arm and gestured toward the library entrance with her chin.
…They’re leaving, aren’t they?
As if answering her thought, Shinjou turned toward them. Her eyebrows were lowered, but she looked satisfied.
“I won’t say I’m sorry any longer, but we’ll be leaving for a bit. I’ll be thinking about this while I’m gone, so let’s compare our answers once I get back.”
“Nn,” said Mikage with a nod and Shinjou smiled.
But after a short pause, Hiba stood up and lifted his bandanna with a serious look.
“Um, uh, can I say one thing? I’ve been wondering something.”
When Heo asked what it was, he turned to Izumo.
“Izumo-san, is it just me or have you been groping Kazami-san’s breasts for a while now?”
His question left everyone dumbfounded and Izumo made a small movement.
His arms crossed each other as he held Kazami and he adjusted their position so they pointed toward the others and lifted Kazami’s breasts from below.
“This is my new invention. I call it the X-Grope! Eeeeeexxxxxxxxx!”
As soon as he shouted the technique’s name, both of Kazami’s elbows crashed into his face.
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