Owari no Chronicle:Volume10 Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Resentment's Beginning
Howl and bite
Test the strength of your fangs
Sound filled a lit room.
Eleven fairly solid tones came from the clock on the wall.
That sound reached the girl sitting in the large kotatsu at the center of the room.
She had long black hair, her upper body was lying on top of the kotatsu, and her eyes were closed.
She was asleep.
The television in front of her was turned off and its dark screen reflected her face.
Once the clock fell silent, only the girl’s steady breathing could be heard.
That was when the blanket on another side of the futon rose and a dog exited.
The large white dog was almost a meter tall and he slowly crawled out from the kotatsu and circled around next to the girl.
He then barked.
His voice reverberated throughout the room and the girl frantically sat up.
“Kyah! Sh-Shiro! Don’t bark. You’ll disturb the neighbors.”
She raised her eyebrows while scolding the dog and moved her left hand to hit him. However, he must have known she would not actually do so because he only stared at her hand as it stopped partway.
The dog did not move and she frowned at the motionless dog’s expression.
“Did something happen?”
She strained her ears but could not hear anything.
She brought her left hand to her chest where a blue stone pendant and a red cloisonné pendant hung at her neck. She wrapped her fingers around them both and slowly stood.
The floor creaked a little below her feet.
The sound deepened her frown and she pressed a button on the TV remote sitting on the kotatsu.
Light raced across the black screen, color filled it, and sound came from it. The sound belonged to a late-night show.
“Now! It’s once again time for the World Execution Show!! Today’s challenger is Incester Sisconsky who was arrested for his feelings toward his little sister! He’s already warming up here in the Illinois Central Prison stage! Now, how are you feeling as you face 150 lashes with a metal whip while completely nude?”
“I’m gonna do my best!!”
“Okay, that’s the spirit! If you can win here, our sponsor US-IAI will give you a year’s supply of their new potable bath additive ‘Dashi of Me’! Now, this is a good time for an ad break!!”
The girl had started nodding along, but the ad for the potable bath additive brought her back to her senses.
She quickly moved to the wall while using the loud TV to hide her footsteps.
A thick white coat hung on the wall.
It was for training. For the most part, it was entirely white, but the name Shino was sewn on the inside of the collar in orange.
She put her arms through the coat’s sleeves and fastened the front.
She opened the wood and glass door on the south side of the living room.
There she found a dark hallway and the entranceway beyond it.
This space led outside and its air was cold and still.
Shiro stepped out into the hallway first as if to lead the way and protect her.
Slight cautious tension filled the dog’s back.
…What is it?
Shino was alone in the house at the moment, but the fact that Mikoku was not here bothered her even more.
Mikoku would normally head out first, but she had gone to the factory tonight and she was not back yet. Hajji had apparently gone to get her, but he had not returned either.
…Maybe I should have gone too.
But she doubted she could have gone even if she had wanted to.
If she had, Mikoku would have said something.
Lately, Mikoku hated it whenever Shino was involved in the fighting.
It had started as warnings not to accept any of the Army’s missions, but it had lately shifted to scolding her about taking part in the following day’s attack or even going to help prepare at the factory.
Mikoku was also trying to keep some distance between them.
Shino guessed Mikoku was trying to say that she would protect her because fighting was her job.
She did think that was very like Mikoku, but…
…Why can’t I take part in a fight that will influence the world I’ll be a part of?
She had never asked that question.
She had a feeling Mikoku would be unable to answer if she did. Even if she knew the answer, she would be unable to give it. That answer was something very close to her true thoughts.
…And she has trouble being honest.
But that fear would vanish with the ending of the following day. Shino was one of the backup members for the attack. Mikoku had begged Hajji to change his mind, but Shino had done all her work just fine since summer, so there was no room for complaint.
“It’ll be okay.”
She muttered to herself in the dark hallway so both she and someone in her heart could hear.
“I can manage on my own.”
She nodded and followed Shiro down the hall.
The word “chilly” seemed to gradually crawl up from the bottom of her feet.
Her feet did produce footsteps down the hall, but the television in the living room drowned them out.
“Now, it’s time to introduce today’s executioner! Let’s see, he belongs to the Illinois Central Prison, he’s ranked third in the World Execution League’s heavyweight class, and he’s gained the skill of a master in his thirty years of using the metal whip. Let’s hear it for Markovic the Butcher!!”
After some cheers and entrance music, cries of Incester or Marko echoed from the audience. Out of the corner of her eye, Shino saw a shirtless macho man wearing a triangular black mask, but she reluctantly stepped entirely out into the hallway.
She walked the seven steps to the thick front door.
Shiro arrived ahead of her and raised his tail while lowering his head.
Shino stood behind as if hiding and focused her ears.
“Now, Markovic is going in for the attack! He attacks! He boldly attacks! He targets the crotch! The crotch! Three quick lashes to the crotch! And when the challenger shrinks back, he strikes the jaw from below! The challenger is completely on the defensive!!”
“Ahhhn! I-it hurts! But it feels so good!! Should I just go ahead and die!?”
She was curious about what was happening there, but she instead focused her ears on the door in front of her.
Someone was there.
She could not see anyone in the patterned glass to the side of the door, but she sensed a presence. Someone was hiding right behind the door.
The door did not have a peephole, but she could check on the intercom’s LCD display that used the security camera below the entranceway roof. However, she did not want to create an opening by reaching for the intercom.
And so she asked a question instead.
“Who is it?”
Her voice filled the nighttime hallway and reached the door.
“It’s me, it’s me,” immediately replied a voice. “It’s me, it’s me!!”
“I-if this is some kind of scam, I don’t want any!!”
“Just open up. Are you going to leave a helper from 10th-Gear out in the cold autumn night?”
Shino then remembered that Hajji had said something about bringing back a guest before heading to the factory.
…But why would 10th help us?
And something else bothered her as well.
“Hajji isn’t with you?”
“He said he had something to discuss with the factory manager and it isn’t appropriate for a woman to hang around while men speak. Of course, that means us women need to turn our anger toward those men when we speak.”
“You’re Shino, right? Open up. I’m carrying some pretty big luggage right now.”
“It’s the girl named Mikoku. She’s stubborn, so I had to kill her about seventeen times. That must have exhausted her because she went right to sleep.”
Shino acted on reflex when she heard that. She ran past Shiro and to the door.
“You have Mikoku!?”
She opened the door to the night, but she did not find what she had expected.
Instead of the darkness of the night or the shadows of the neighborhood houses, she saw a large woman in a white coat and the muzzle of a gun.
The cold steel pressed against her forehead left her speechless.
“This is the end, Shino,” said the woman beyond the gun. “You are very kind, but that is exactly why this is the end. Remember this. On the battlefield, that kindness of yours will give you the final push toward death.”
The gun lightly pushed her and she took a cold and heavy step backwards.
Only then did she get a good look at the woman.
She was a large woman that Shino had to tilt her head back to see. Above her thick body and past her coat’s collar was the face of a hooked-nosed middle-aged woman. The woman’s blue eyes were turned toward Shino.
“Oh? You certainly look like a good girl. You are one, aren’t you? You’ll live a long life. If you can stay alive, that is. But to do that, you need to follow the rules of good girls. Make sure you do that.”
With that, she held out what was in her left hand: Mikoku in her work outfit.
Mikoku’s limbs and hair dangled limply down.
However, Shino found herself unable to react to this sudden guest, what that guest looked like, and what that guest said.
While hesitating over what to do, Shiro arrived at her right side.
The dog peered at Mikoku’s face and poked at her forehead with his nose.
Mikoku gave a troubled groan but did not wake. The woman lifted her up and away.
“Oops. It’d be a shame to let the dog wake her. Shino, get me some food. I’m starving and I need carbohydrates.”
“Who are you?”
“Jord, a survivor of 10th-Gear’s gods. …I’m ‘Betrayed Expectations’ Jord. You can call me God or Jord-chan or whatever. What I want to be called changes on a whim, but never call me ‘old lady’. That’s the rule. Got it? Now, let me in, Shino. And food. Get me some food.”
Shino nodded, tapped Shiro’s neck, and returned to the hallway.
Jord passed through the door as if shaking her large body.
Mikoku struck the doorframe and Shino gave a quick “ah” at the dull sound.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m not made for precision.”
“It’s fine, so keep quiet. I don’t like kids who get worked up over trivial details. If you’re going to scold me, then I’ll have to scold you for staying up so late. But I won’t do that, so you don’t say anything to me. And get me some food. No complaints about that, right?”
Shino thought about it. She was worried about Mikoku’s head and Jord was overly pushy, but she did not detect any hostility in the woman.
It made a lot of sense once she thought of it like quieting an animal by giving it food.
“Then come in. And please remove your shoes.”
She stepped back into the entranceway and Jord smiled.
The corners of her mouth bent up, her eyes closed, and there was not a hint of sarcasm or ulterior motive behind the smile.
“Good. Children are best when they’re honest, Shino. I’ll be coming in then.”
Jord bent her thick upper body in a bow.
Shino had not expected the sudden action, so she was late to bow back. She made up for it by waiting a full three seconds before straightening back up.
When she hesitantly raised her head, Jord was closing the door behind her. She hung Mikoku’s back collar on the doorstopper and sat down in the entranceway.
The floor creaked and the movement seemed to stir up the air.
As she watched Jord remove her military boots one at a time, Shino confirmed her decision that the woman was not a bad person.
“Jord, why are you fighting UCAT?”
“Sticking your nose into a woman’s secrets isn’t a good idea. I have my reasons. Just remember that. You have your own reasons, right? It isn’t good to ask for someone else’s reasons without explaining your own. And I like good girls, Shino.”
“I also don’t approve of children staying up this late. Hajji needs to be more thoughtful. What is he doing?”
“Oh, um, but…”
She started to bring up Mikoku, but cheers from the living room cut her off.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing. The master is using the flexibility of the metal whip to strike his target’s crotch from front to back. And it forms a compact blow filled with the consideration of a true master!”
“Ah! No! Ow! That really-…! Hwah! Hwaaaaahh!!”
Jord glared in the direction of the realistically dubbed screams and cheers.
“I don’t approve of that either.”
Shino ran for the living room to change the channel.
Below the night sky, a mountain range was steeped in deep darkness.
The mountains were covered in forest and a narrow river and road ran through them.
The road had white streetlights at distant intervals.
Past the guardrails of the spottily lit road was a drop of around a dozen meters and rocky river bank. The river itself could not be seen in the darkness, but the loud sound of rushing water indicated its presence.
A single sound and light moved quickly through the light, the darkness, and the sounds of the river.
The sound was a motorcycle engine and the light was a headlight.
The large-displacement motorcycle was an old Kawasaki and two people rode it.
The driver was a well-built boy who wore a brown mountain jacket to fight the cold. He gently tilted the large motorcycle to either side as he took the corners.
The one clinging to his back was a girl in a blue half coat.
The banking motorcycle and the wind blew her short hair about as she looked forward over his shoulder.
She was looking at the sky visible past the mountains and forest ahead.
Despite being night, the sky was tinged with purple thanks to the lights in the mountain.
She sighed and opened her mouth.
“IAI’s lights are still on. Did UCAT order them to keep the lights on to help defend against a possible attacker?”
“Probably. This is starting to feel pretty serious. What do you think, Chisato?”
The two of them, Izumo and Kazami, both looked to the brightness in the sky.
They would occasionally pass below a streetlight and the sky’s light would become difficult to make out.
“It doesn’t look like anything’s happening. And they have Hiba, Mikage, Harakawa, Heo, and everyone from 2nd there, so they should be fine even if there is an attack.”
“Are you worried?”
She paused before answering his question and she leaned against his back as she did so.
“I am worried.”
She felt the wind as a chill in her ears.
“I just can’t accept why Sayama would tell Team Leviathan to disband. …What about you, Kaku? Aren’t you worried with everyone splitting up at such a dangerous time?”
“I’m fine as long as you’re with me.”
Kazami removed her cheek from his back and smiled bitterly.
She was about to express her gratitude, but then she felt his back press against her cheek once more.
However, he had not leaned back. She had been pushed forward.
“Kaku, why did you brake?”
“There’s a checkpoint up ahead. And isn’t that…?”
As the motorcycle slowed down, she looked past his back and indeed saw a checkpoint.
A “no entry” sign had been set up and two large white RVs blocked the road.
A red warning light lit up everything there.
She then noticed that the RVs were UCAT’s disguised security vehicles.
…It’s a UCAT checkpoint?
“Looks like they’re being really cautious about an attack. What a pain.”
Kazami agreed with Izumo.
However, she recognized the person waving the red warning light in front of one of the RVs.
She called out from the motorcycle that was now moving at a walking pace and Ikkou looked up.
“Oh.” A narrow-eyed smile formed below his gray hair. “Sorry about the trouble. It’s just that things have been quite dangerous recently.”
“Thanks for going to the trouble. …Are the others still on the other side?”
She pointed toward the bright sky past the mountain and Ikkou nodded.
“They should be. That’s why we were forced out here.”
“Ah.” Kazami shrunk down and lowered her head with a troubled look. “Sorry. And it’s so cold.”
“No, no, no. Do not worry about it. We have the UCAT director’s approval for this job.”
Ikkou lowered the warning light and lifted the “no entry” sign. He then placed the sign in the gap between the two RVs blocking the road.
“Hey, Ikkou-san. Why are you blocking our way?”
Kazami answered Izumo while hitting his shoulder.
“You idiot. It’s a checkpoint, so even we need to show our IDs.”
“That is not why,” said Ikkou.
He circled behind the RV on the valley river side and opened the trunk.
He pulled something out and rested it on his shoulder.
“Two meters long. This is short for an Azure Dragon Sword.”
He approached as he spoke and the solid footsteps of his leather shoes rang through the night air.
The slow sound of the footsteps was joined by light in the Azure Dragon Sword’s blade.
Kazami had a sudden thought about the scene before her.
“W-wait a second, Ikkou-san. What is going on?”
“You cannot tell?”
With that question, he arrived within three meters of them.
His sword’s maximum reach was two meters, so he only had to take a step forward to be in range.
Kazami understood that much, but…
She could tell a forced smile had appeared on her lips, but not even she knew what it was meant to hide.
She only knew that Ikkou was slowly raising the Azure Dragon Sword.
Izumo’s voice brought her back to her senses.
She felt like a sudden adjustment had come over her vision.
An attack was coming and it was coming from someone she knew, someone who had helped her for so long, and someone who had even saved her.
When doubt prevented you from moving, it was called hesitation.
And as she hesitated, she saw Izumo’s large back lower down as he prepared to move.
When she did see him move, she finally realized it was okay for her to move as well.
…But what for?
She knew the answer. It was only a possibility at this point, but it was likely true.
“Chisato! They were the attackers!!”
“Yes, I must apologize, but it was the four of us.”
Once she realized that fact, she recalled the information on the attackers.
First, the men who had attacked Izumo UCAT had been covered in black, but one had wielded an Azure Dragon Sword.
Second, Gyes had said she knew them, but the match was not yet sufficient to make a public announcement.
“Wh-what is going on!? Why would Doctor Chao’s four brothers attack us!?”
“It is a simple matter. You could call us the illegitimate children of 7th-Gear. In other words, we ourselves are the Concept Core.”
“How about we continue the Concept War?”
With those words, Ikkou made his attack.
He prepared to lower the raised Azure Dragon Sword along a diagonal path and it was clear what that path would do.
…He’s trying to slice Kaku and me in two!
He was serious. That confused Kazami, but she opened her mouth regardless.
“I can’t accept this!!”
She raised her right arm toward the sky.
Her shout travelled high into the sky.
“Come!! We need to put a stop to this nonsense!!!”
A moment later, Ikkou’s sword raced through the air.
A slicing sound followed.
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