Owari no Chronicle:Volume10 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Troublesome Visit
You cannot reach them
You cannot reach them
You end up distancing yourself
A white automatic door slid open with a rumble to reveal the area beyond.
A paper with the word “open” on it was placed on the door which led to a room.
The white room gave a view from four stories up and an old man sat at the large desk inside.
The man wore a lab coat and glasses and he quickly looked away from the computer when he saw who had entered the room.
“Ah! I-I wasn’t doing anything inappropriate, Brunhild-kun! I certainly wasn’t enjoying a self-made 18+ game while I worked on it! After all, it’s still in debug!”
“There’s more than enough reason for you to die, Ooshiro, but make sure you answer my question before falling into an eternal sleep that is anything but peaceful.”
Brunhild wore a school uniform, had a small bird on her head, and was accompanied by a black cat at her feet. Ooshiro reacted in two different ways: he brought a hand to his forehead and he spoke with a sigh.
“Ahh, sorry, Brunhild-kun. Could you ask one thing of me at a time? What do you want first?”
“You’re right. First, fall into eternal sleep.”
“I thought your question came first!”
He spun around while shouting and a set of knuckles struck him from the side.
He rose into the air before falling back to the floor while #8 continued cleaning the window next to him.
“Testament. That reaction was directly from the manual. I do not detect the slightest problem. I am emotionally stable.”
“Th-that was a really solid hit! #-#8-kun, are you prepared to take responsibility for this!?”
“Testament,” she replied while pulling a cellphone from her pocket. “Internal line #259? I have some burnable trash awaiting disposal. I take full responsibility for-…”
“I don’t want that kind of responsibility!!”
“That’s right. Wait just a second, doll. My business comes first.” Brunhild crossed her arms. “Besides, burning him isn’t enough to get rid of him. The air currents will carry the rising smoke and pollute the world. When it rains, all of us will be soaked with Ooshiro rain.”
“Testament. I have determined that would be dangerous. I was too careless. I will take responsibility and find another method for disposing of him. …Anyway, what do you need, Brunhild-sama?”
“Well, I hear Team Leviathan disbanded and Izumo and Kazami were injured.”
“That is not entirely accurate.”
Brunhild raised an eyebrow and the cat tapped on her shin, so she kicked it.
“What isn’t accurate? Are Kazami and Izumo okay?”
“Testament,” replied a voice from the corridor.
Brunhild looked over her shoulder and saw someone in a white combat coat enter the room.
“Sibyl? How are Kazami, Sayama, and the others?”
“Testament. Sayama-sama has left for Professor Kinugasa’s home in the Okutama mountain range and Shinjou-sama has left for Sakai. Chisato-sama is unharmed because we arrived shortly after Izumo-sama protected her.”
Both Brunhild’s eyebrows rose slightly and Sibyl closed her eyes.
“Izumo-sama’s left forearm and hand were completely lost and he has yet to regain consciousness. Neither of their weapons have shown any signs of life even after some simple repairs. Also…”
She opened her eyes and looked directly at Brunhild as if that were all she could do.
“Chisato-sama refuses to leave Izumo-sama’s side…and she will not speak with anyone else or even look them in the eye.”
The light in Sibyl’s eyes wavered.
“Ah,” muttered Brunhild with a frown just before Sibyl looked up to the ceiling.
“Wahhhhh! Chisato-sama won’t speak with me! I know I’ve been focusing on Mikage-sama more recently and I know I haven’t been keeping up with her diet notebook, but this is too much! What’s wrong with a little fat!? What’s wrong with a soft body!? That only applies to Chisato-sama, though!”
Sibyl ran out into the corridor in tears and Brunhild glared after her.
#8 turned her back to resume cleaning the window. Ooshiro faced his computer and made comments of “good” and “yes” which Brunhild decided she would rather not know any more about.
Those two were clearly intending to ignore Sibyl, so Brunhild nodded toward Ooshiro in particular.
She then took in a breath, opened her mouth wide, and shouted into the corridor.
“Ooshiro made Sibyl cry!!”
Several dozen confused replies came over the broadcast system, soon followed by the sound of a group posing.
“Let’s go, everyone! It’s eavesdropping time!!”
“It’s eavesdropping time!!!!”
Suddenly, all sound vanished from Japanese UCAT save a voice in the corridor.
Once the echoing crying settled down, Ooshiro frantically stood up.
“B-Brunhild-kun, how could you lie about this!? Something bad is going to happen to me!”
Meanwhile, an unseen judgment was given.
It began by trapping him.
The external defense shutters closed over all the windows to keep the prey from escaping.
She had been cleaning the windows, so #8 briefly looked at the inside of the closed shutter.
“I have determined cleaning the outside of the windows will be harder now.”
With that, she stuck the detergent container and rag between the window and shutter and used gravitational control to clean it from the outside. Ooshiro gave an impressed nod but then turned toward Brunhild in sudden realization.
“O-oh, no! I can’t escape!!”
“Why not escape through the floor like usual?”
“You’re right! I can do that!! …Secret Technique: Floorboard Reversal!!”
With that shout, he stomped on the floor with his right foot.
This activated a mechanism in the floor and one of the floorboards audibly hopped upwards.
He peered down and found a Japanese UCAT combat personnel aiming a rifle up at him.
The metal barrel and the red laser point extending from it were trained directly on his forehead.
The man wore a gas mask and Ooshiro wore his glasses, so the two exchanged a glance through their respective lenses.
Ooshiro frantically stomped the floorboard closed on top of the soldier below and someone started banging from below.
He jumped up and down a few times to force it down and then pulled instant glue and self-defense gas spray from his pocket. He glued the floorboard to the ground and stuck the gas spray nozzle into the remaining gap.
“Take this! It’s our new product ‘My Breath – Yakiniku, the Morning After’!!”
After the sound of spraying, a shout of agony came from below the floor before vanishing.
Ooshiro continued spraying for a full five seconds after the resistance ended and then he stood up.
“Hm. That was a close one.”
He stepped from the sealed floorboard and onto another one.
This time, the mechanism opened a portion of the ceiling.
A man in stealth equipment dangled upside down from the hole.
Ooshiro reacted by jumping up to close the ceiling while grabbing “It Tingles!”, a stun gun that could be locked in the “on” setting, and alley-ooping it into the closing hole.
The ceiling closed just as someone could be heard writhing in pain on the other side.
Ooshiro sighed and landed in a light crouched pose.
This time, part of the wall opened.
He closed that hole, but more and more opened in the floor, ceiling, walls, and back of his locker, so he had to close all of them.
After seeing him toss one of his socks into a hole in the floor, Brunhild sighed.
“This is almost over. We didn’t know each other long, but we made plenty of awful memories. Farewell.”
“B-Brunhild-kun, you really are cement-like to the core! You old cement lady!!”
She had been about to leave the room, but she stopped.
He clapped his hands behind her.
“Yeah, you heard me! I’m younger!! Younger!!”
She stomped hard on the floorboards while turning around, five holes opened in the floor at once, gun barrels poked out of them all, and Ooshiro closed them all with a body press.
“B-Brunhild-kun!” he said from the floor. “What would happen to UCAT if I was shot!?”
“They’d probably mourn the loss…officially at least. A few seconds later, they would celebrate the monumental event.”
She ignored him as he pretended to cry, rolled around, and hit the wall.
“Well, I’ll be going. Kazami and the others are at the hospital, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” replied Sibyl who had returned to the corridor while rubbing the corners of her eyes. “But all of them except Chisato-sama should be leaving for Hiba-sama’s dojo soon. They were planning to spend the night there. But Chisato-sama…”
“She’s going to stay with Izumo. That’s fine. …I just have something to give the ones who can still move around.”
“Something to give them?”
Brunhild nodded, reached into her uniform’s pocket, but did not pull her hand back out.
“Siegfried found something in the Kinugasa Library that Team Leviathan should see. …It isn’t anything much, though.”
With that, Sibyl finally stopped her tears and looked over in surprise.
Happy with that, Brunhild opened her mouth with the chirping bird providing background music.
“Ooshiro, let me tell you something. A tremor is approaching here from below, so why don’t you escape through the corridor?”
Ooshiro stopped hammering nails into the floor and gave her a thumbs up.
“N-nice one, Brunhild-kun! I’ll put you in my game!! It’s a life mahjong game titled ‘I am the Riichi!’ and the tagline is ‘Always play the wrong tile in life!’. How about it!?”
Brunhild hesitated. She could not decide what spell to blast him with or if she should first attack with the black cat to buy time for a large-scale destruction spell.
But Ooshiro suddenly froze in place.
A slender hand had grabbed his shoulder from the side.
“#-#8-kun? Explain this hand.”
“Testament. I have determined it is my right hand. And please wait a moment, UCAT Director.”
She spoke with her usual expression and with the footsteps of heavily-equipped soldiers racing down the corridor.
“I have yet to fulfill my responsibility.”
The nighttime scenery outside the window moved to the east.
Beyond the faint light of a city was a dark plain and above that was only darkness.
The dark plain was the sea and the darkness above was the night sky.
The window moving along that scenery belonged to a night train.
Someone stood in the shop located in the rear car of the Osaka-bound train. Shinjou was bent over a bit by the window and held a gray phone receiver.
The ends of her eyebrows lowered a little.
“Okay, Heo. So is Kazami-san okay?”
A nervous voice answered her from the receiver.
“Y-yes, but Izumo’s left arm was…um…how should I put it? It’s like from a movie?”
While listening to the extent of his injury, Shinjou recalled Izumo’s divine protection.
He must have been fighting within a concept that rendered it meaningless.
“They were fighting those four brothers who are always with Doctor Chao, weren’t they?”
“Yes.” Heo hesitated a little, but finally continued. “But how weird are they compared to the rest of you? I-I can use that to decide how cautious to be.”
“I’m not sure I like how you put that… But using Ooshiro units, they’re probably about a fifth an Ooshiro.”
“Eek! W-we can’t handle that.”
“Don’t worry. Harakawa-kun is with you, right? If things get dangerous, you can always run away.”
“Yes, but can I really rely on Harakawa?”
“Why not? Is that a problem?”
Shinjou heard movement on the other end as Heo covered the receiver with a hand.
Heo then took in a breath and whispered.
“U-um, well, you see? I made him mad earlier.”
“Well, uh… He was feeling around inside me and…”
“Yes. He had me sit in the seat, grabbed the thick rod, said we had to perform a test, and even took records. Then he told me it was time to combine.”
“Th-that really is taking it seriously…”
“Oh, but it didn’t hurt. It tickled a lot and made my heart race, but, uh, as I sat there in a daze, I realized people were watching. …But Harakawa said he wasn’t doing anything wrong, so I think he meant he would take responsibility for whatever happened.”
“Y-you two certainly are progressing at a Western rate. …Harakawa doesn’t say much normally, but he sounds really intense.”
“Yes. But part of me wonders if I’m reading too much into it.”
“I-I don’t think so. If he’s taking it that far, he’s definitely committed!”
“But then why did he get mad at me?”
Shinjou thought and remembered an answer she had seen in a magazine.
“Oh, I know, Heo! You need to work to make him happy too! Like, um, embracing him or wrapping your legs around him while you do it.”
“B-but I’d crush him into mincemeat if I did that then.”
Harakawa-kun is surprisingly delicate, thought Shinjou.
“Th-then…y-you can vocally tell him how much you like it.”
“Vocally? You mean like sing? My great-grandfather taught me how to yodel.”
“Singing like that would make you a pervert. So, um, well, this is hard to say, but…you can just say how you feel or what you want him to do.”
“Oh, that I can manage. Nice advice, Shinjou. I’ll do my best.”
Shinjou nodded and breathed a sigh of relief.
…I somehow managed to give some advice as her elder.
And as if responding to her thoughts, another sigh of relief reached her over the phone.
“I’m glad I could discuss this with you, Shinjou. You gave off a scent of knowing a lot about this kind of thing.”
“I’d really like to know where you learned to speak Japanese like that, but…well…you should be fine.”
She smiled bitterly, wondered if they had both managed to relax, and looked up to see a train station passing by out the window.
The train was passing through Izu near Atami.
…I’m going so far away.
That thought produced words hoping for the opposite.
“Are you sure I shouldn’t head back? The train is stopping at Nagoya for a bit, so I could get off and take a night train or taxi back.”
“Harakawa said you don’t have to come back since we can’t contact Sayama to have him come back. He said the two of you are like a set even when you’re apart.”
“I need to have a word with Harakawa-kun next time I see him. …But does that mean he actually trusts Sayama-kun?”
“It’s hard to say. The nuance was more on not knowing much about the Leviathan Road and so not intruding too much.”
…What a rational view.
She thought that was a lot like Harakawa, but she did not want to say so in front of Heo.
But if Harakawa felt that way, Hiba would likely agree as his underclassman.
“Then I’ll continue on to Sakai. Call me if something happens there.”
“Sure. Oh, come to think of it, there was just an explosion on the fourth floor of Japanese UCAT.”
“An explosion? The fourth floor would be Ooshiro-san’s room, wouldn’t it? In that case, you don’t need to worry about it.”
“R-really? But it was an explosion.”
Shinjou heard a confused pause, but that only showed Heo’s inexperience with UCAT. She would adapt after half a year and then she would watch the explosions like they were nothing more than fireworks.
Heo steadied her tone.
“Anyway, I think we’re going to do what we can here to look into our pasts. After all, I don’t want Team Leviathan to disband right after we joined. …But if we do find our pasts, Sayama really will reform the team, right? So we’ll do our best. And…”
“I’m personally curious about it because my parents would have been there.”
“Those were the people who protected us, so I want to know what kind of battle they had. …I’m proud of my parents.”
“Yes, you can think about your parents that way, but make sure you don’t think that way about some of the people in UCAT now.”
“R-right. But even with them, the records show them seriously working on their jobs.”
“It would be kind of amazing if they were getting worked up over perverted things in the middle of battles.”
Then again, I’ve seen a few people who do exactly that, thought Shinjou, but she decided to keep it to herself.
At any rate, Heo had a lot of hopes for UCAT. Shinjou heard a lot of things she could not say herself and it made her happy.
There were a number of issues, but Heo was likely a suitable person for searching the past. Shinjou also wanted to know about that past battle, but she did not want to intrude because she did not even know about her parents.
And so she spoke.
“Okay, Heo. As your senior in Team Leviathan, I have something to tell you even though we disbanded: pursue the past. As someone who doesn’t know much about UCAT, your unique viewpoint will probably lead you to understand a lot we couldn’t. …And I bet a lot of people will let their guard down around a beautiful blonde girl.”
“I don’t think that last point was entirely necessary, but I’ll do my best!”
After a quiet snort, Heo spoke up again.
“Oh, but don’t force yourself. You take your time in your search too.”
“I will, and thank you for going along with that troublesome and twisted orator who loves riddles.”
“Yes, and…I do want to become one of you.”
“Eh? H-Heo, you already are one of us.”
A bitter laugh answered Shinjou’s frantic reply.
It was a self-deprecating laugh and Heo’s voice followed.
“Thank you very much. That’s all the more reason to think about all this. If Team Leviathan can reform, that’s when we can truly become one of you. That’s why I want to think about my parents, my great-grandfather, and…”
Shinjou heard the breath as Heo silently muttered another name.
“I want to do my best to pursue those people.”
“Good, but remember to discuss it with Harakawa-kun and the others after you think about it, okay? Even if you find your own answer on your own, you can’t find the answer to bring us all together without the others.”
“Then we’ll only get the true answer once you and Sayama return, right?”
Shinjou noticed a smile in the girl’s tone.
She’ll be fine, she decided before giving her parting words.
“Okay, then let’s do our best. And take care of Kazami-san and Izumo-san.”
She set down the receiver while realizing that true answer was more dependent on Kazami and Izumo recovering than on her and Sayama. The telephone card was ejected with a hole near the “ten remaining” spot.
…That was a pretty long conversation.
She looked out the window and saw the shadows of a giant mountain.
The train had entered a mountain range. According to the Japanese map she had seen in class, passing through these mountains would take them through Hakone and into Shizuoka. That would bring them closer to Toukai than Kantou.
The distance to Osaka and Sakai was shrinking.
…What’s going to happen?
With that silent thought, her eyes turned to the darkness between the mountains.
She then realized that she had no one to discuss her thoughts with now that she had set down the phone and now that Sayama was not with her.
She held her trembling shoulders and started walking from the shop car.
She made her way to where her bed was.
If she slept, she could escape these feelings and doubts.
Quiet footsteps moved through a dimly-lit lobby.
The lobby’s white walls and long waiting room seats were illuminated by emergency lights. Across from the seats was a long counter covered by a curtain.
Signs saying prescriptions, accounting, etc. lined the counter.
This was a hospital lobby.
The footsteps slowed to look at the signs on the counter.
The large window beyond the seats was meant to let in the sunlight, but it now reflected the one producing the footsteps.
A slender girl with short blonde hair walked west through the lobby.
She was moving toward the three people on the western end of the waiting room seats.
One was a girl with long blonde hair who sat in the seats.
Another was a boy with a red bandanna around his forehead who sat next to the other girl.
The last one was leaning against the column next to the seats.
“Harakawa, I just spoke with Shinjou. It sounds like she’s going to continue on to Sakai. Um, uh…she doesn’t want to leave behind any regrets.”
“That’s probably best for her. But, Heo Thunderson, the nuance of that that expression is a bit off.”
She tilted her head and stopped walking while the long-haired girl tapped on the shoulder of the boy next to her.
“Ryuuji-kun, are we leaving?”
However, it was not the boy who answered.
“Hiba is asleep, Mikage.”
Heo felt herself smile as she said that.
A lot had happened that day, so she was glad and relieved that she could smile at least a little now that the night had arrived.
She saw Mikage tilt her head and poke Hiba’s cheek. After four pokes, the boy moved with his eyes closed. He lowered down, twisted around in annoyance, and generally moved like an inchworm.
“Ahh, M-Mikage-san. No…stop… The fish meat!!”
“Harakawa, there’s something I want to say and it’s threatening to dynamically burst out of me, but should I say it?”
“Don’t worry about it, Heo Thunderson. Worrying about it won’t fix him.”
“You’re probably right,” she said while Mikage further tilted her head.
“Ahh, Mikage-san. No, no. Don’t suck out the center of the fried egg!”
Heo was unsure what was so arousing about that, but for whatever reason, Hiba bent backwards, his back jumped up, and he fell behind the seat.
Ah, thought Heo just as she heard what sounded like a rock hitting the ground.
The dull sound reverberated throughout the empty lobby and Hiba’s legs trembled as they stuck up from the back of the seat.
Finally, he spoke from the floor.
“Ah! Wh-why am I in this pose? Wait, don’t tell me this isn’t the wall, but…the floor!? In that case…is this a concept attack!?”
“Hiba Ryuuji, I know you’re quite happy right now, but get up right this instant. That’s an order as your upperclassman.”
Hiba sat up on the white floor with a confused look, checked on his surroundings, and finally looked Mikage in the eye as she tilted her head.
“Did Shinjou-san say something?”
“Oh, um, she’s still going to Sakai. But, uh…”
Heo hesitated, but she decided to say it.
“Is your head okay?”
“O-of course it is! Just being in the blonde genre doesn’t give you the right to be so rude! I’m surrounded by strange people and you might think I am too by association, but they haven’t infected me yet!”
That’s a lie, she declared in her heart with a full smile on her face.
…But if they haven’t infected him ‘yet’, that means it’s only a matter of time.
“Anyway, Kazami won’t leave the hospital room, so how about we get going?”
As soon as she asked that, Heo saw a quick change on Hiba’s face.
For just a split-second, his eyebrows lowered.
She knew what that meant. She knew all too well why they were here and what it meant to leave alone like this.
And Harakawa gave voice to that meaning.
“The treasurer won’t leave the room and there’s nothing we can do to help, so let’s head home. …No, let’s get to Hiba’s grandfather’s place like we planned. It’s close to here and close to UCAT.”
He crossed his arms and looked up at the white panels on the ceiling.
“The president was sedated with some drugs. I don’t know the details about his arm, but I hear they’re talking about constructing a prosthetic and his arm is supposedly fixed in place with some strange technique that won’t actually heal it. …And the treasurer is looking after him even though he’s asleep.”
Heo felt Harakawa had intentionally chosen the phrase “looking after him”.
He was being considerate to them and to Kazami, but in truth…
…She simply refuses to leave him.
When Heo and the others had arrived at the hospital about an hour earlier, Izumo was already being taken to the hospital room.
Heo had seen the bed carrying him to the individual room and she had seen Kazami. Kazami had been calling his name and shouting something else while clinging to the bed.
…And she was crying.
When they had left UCAT, Sibyl had just returned from rescuing the two of them and she had informed them that Izumo’s life was not in danger. She had noticed the concept space, left before anyone else, and intervened as Ikkou and Mitsuaki tried to attack.
That had been just after Izumo’s arm had been smashed.
With a pale face devoid of expression, she had told them the following.
…I doubt there is anything you can do to help at the hospital.
She had to have seen Kazami crying even more than they had.
Heo remembered how Kazami had not even tried to look back at them.
She remembered Kazami calling Izumo’s name as if to get him to notice her.
She remembered the trembling in Kazami’s voice as she shouted “I’m sorry”.
Kazami was safe and Izumo was injured because he had protected her.
It’s a lot like when I lost my mother, thought Heo.
She remembered when that had happened, but how had it been compared to Kazami now?
Izumo had not lost his life, so were Kazami’s cries…
Heo wondered that, but she shook her head. They were not an overreaction.
…It might just be that I’m overly emotionless.
Plus, it was not that Kazami had nearly lost Izumo.
…It was only pure luck that she didn’t lose him.
With that in mind, the overlap between Heo and Kazami was being protected by someone important to them.
But Kazami had power while Heo had not.
Nevertheless, Kazami had been protected and someone important to her had lost a part of his body.
Why was she apologizing to Izumo even though he could not hear her?
…It’s just like I used to be.
She was apologizing for a simple reason.
“To lighten the feeling of guilt.”
“What are you muttering about, Heo Thunderson?”
She looked up and realized the others were looking at her.
She frantically shook her hands back and forth and formed another smile.
“Oh, s-sorry. We’re going to Hiba’s grandfather’s dojo, right?”
“That’s right,” said Hiba as he stood up with a smile.
Heo realized he too briefly looked up at the ceiling like Harakawa had.
She then walked past him as he took Mikage’s hand and helped her to her feet.
Harakawa reacted to her footsteps by moving from the column and continuing on toward the hospital entrance.
She moved to his left and hesitated, but…
She took his left hand and held it tightly.
He received her grasp with a slight toughness and warmth, but that was all.
She looked up, but he did not turn back from his half step ahead of her.
She felt anything she said would be rejected at the moment, so she remained silent and tightened her grip on his hand.
…Now that I have the power of Thunder Fellow and my teammates in UCAT…
What did it mean for her to lose or partially lose someone important to her?
Part of her wanted to make sure she never knew, but another part thought about Kazami who now knew. It was because Kazami had power that she had apologized for allowing the damage.
…What’s going to happen?
What would happen to Kazami and what would happen to Heo if she found herself in the same situation someday?
While thinking about that question with no answer, Heo realized something.
Harakawa’s hand was squeezing back now.
She nodded and made sure Hiba and Mikage were following.
“Shouldn’t we hurry? It’s getting late, so Hiba’s grandparents are probably already asleep.”
“No, my grandfather stays up late. He likes to watch late-night shows without my grandmother knowing. I think today’s is Mountain Hermit Squadron Tengumen. It’s about a group of naked men with tengu masks on their crotches who destroy the evil of the world. They’ve lived in the mountains so long that they don’t know how society works and that’s used for social satire. Last time, Red was arrested after trying to get into the train station without buying a ticket, so this episode is about the others going to rescue him. The title is ‘Assault! Bring Tears to the Power of the State!’ ”
“I’m going to be staying in a house that gets that over the airwaves?”
Heo was worried now.
Suddenly, her grip on Harakawa’s hand felt him stop moving.
She looked up in confusion and saw him looking forward with a frown.
She followed his gaze and saw someone there.
“Wh-who are you!? Why do you have a black cat with you and a bird on your head? Are you a friend of UCAT Director Ooshiro!?”
“I-I don’t think it’s possible to be more rude than that! I am 1st-Gear Inspector Brunhild Schild. I don’t believe I ever spoke with you properly even during the party after the 5th-Gear battle, but this is a good opportunity. Make sure you remember me, so you won’t be that rude ever again.”
Brunhild stood in the entrance with her arms crossed and faced the other four.
She then looked up at the ceiling along with the bird and cat.
“Is Kazami still feeling down?”
“Y-yes. She isn’t meeting with anyo-…”
“Hah. I’m not going to do that. Looking at a loser might infect me with their loser-ness. More importantly…”
To cut off any further comment on what she had said, Brunhild quickly pulled something from her pocket.
She held out a paper cylinder.
She flipped the cylinder around, grabbed it again, and pulled it open.
With the sound of escaping air, she pulled something out.
“A large photograph?”
“Siegfried found it while organizing the Kinugasa Library. After the National Defense Department, the old Japanese UCAT was formed. This is a group photo during a trip taken to Kansai so their main force could get to know each other better.”
She spread it out in her right hand and revealed a black-and-white photograph of a mountain ridge somewhere.
The faded gray image showed a number of people in a row with the sky in the background.
“And Ooshiro gave me this.”
Brunhild picked up something lying at her feet.
She held out a wicker object with her left hand.
“It’s just a bucket, but look closer. You can kill some time with the creature in here.”
Heo saw something stand up on the edge of the bucket.
It was a small creature that resembled a boar.
Brunhild smiled and opened her mouth beyond the bucket.
“It’s Baku. He doesn’t seem to like me, so can one of you look after him?”
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