Owari no Chronicle:Volume10 Prologue
Prologue: Beginning of the End
That is something
That swoops down
In the very places that refuse to accept it
There was a sound.
It was a low electronic tone sounding four times to indicate the hour.
But that sound was not the only one permeating the air.
Another higher-pitched sound continued without end: a set of footsteps.
Those footsteps travelled down a white corridor. The windows of that corridor showed the early morning from four stories aboveground.
A woman was walking down the corridor. She had red hair, a slender body, and a maid uniform. Her right hand held a box of food.
She and the footsteps both stopped in front of a certain room.
The white door contained a placard with the handwritten words “The Holy and Incredible Ooshiro Kazuo’s Room”.
When she saw the placard, the woman tilted her head and lowered the box to the floor.
“I have determined this requires correction.”
She pulled a magic marker from her chest and rewrote a portion so it now said “The Wholly Incorrigible Ooshiro Kazuo’s Room”. She replaced the rewritten placard and then straightened it.
“Well done. I have determined that was an excellent job.”
She pressed the button next to the door to open the door.
But it did not open.
She tilted her head in confusion and turned to look at the button.
She noticed a piece of paper stuck next to it which contained a cartoonish drawing of Ooshiro giving a thumbs up.
“Make a weird noise and the door will open!” the drawing said.
#8 corrected her posture and tried to decide what to do, but the concept of “weird noises” did not exist within an automaton. Any noise an automaton made had the approval of their accurate decisions.
No automaton’s decisions would approve of something “weird”.
While trying to figure out what to do, she realized she had forgotten something.
As was the custom near the end of the month, the rooms were to be cleaned today and some preliminary preparations were needed for that.
That was why she faced the closed door and spoke through her shared memory.
“#23, spray insecticide into the room in front of me.”
While determining that she was satisfied with how #23 responded without question, she picked up the box from the floor with her right hand.
A moment later, she heard something from beyond the white door.
The automatic door opened and a transparent gas entered the corridor like shimmering heat.
Beyond the door, #8 saw a large white room.
Below the fluorescent lights on the ceiling, Ooshiro was dancing within the shimmering gas.
…I have determined this is perfectly normal.
She passed by the intensely dancing old man in a lab coat who was holding his throat.
“Ooshiro-sama, I have brought your dinner.”
She visually confirmed the contents of his large desk. It was normally filled with toys, but today it actually had a space cleared in the center. He had likely been doing some kind of work.
She remembered that a lot had happened in the month since the battle with 5th-Gear.
He was likely trying to put everything in order after that.
She then thought about the people involved in that incident.
The 5th-Gear Concept Core half held by Black Sun had been taken into Thunder Fellow’s Vesper Cannon. Heo had become a temporary inspector and her guardian Odor was living in Yokota UCAT along with Roger.
Violet had been destroyed at the Kanda Laboratory, but she was apparently having a new body made. Her body had been a poor match in the first place, but the idiosyncrasies that had given her actions had led to her skill in combat. A standard 3rd spare body could not recreate those idiosyncrasies, so the automatons she had protected were helping create a new body for her below Kanda.
…I have determined she is a fortunate unit.
#8 had been able to see Gyes again during that incident, but the other automaton had returned to Izumo UCAT that morning. #8 had yet to meet Miyako, Gyes’s master, so she wondered what kind of person she was.
Team Leviathan was preparing for the next negotiation. The older members like Kazami and Izumo were occasionally training with the newer members like Hiba and Heo and it seemed they were improving.
As for Sayama and Shinjou…
…They say they will be leaving for their respective destinations tomorrow.
Sayama was going to the mountains of Okutama to follow in the footsteps of Professor Kinugasa and his own father who had also pursued the professor. His destination was the home Professor Kinugasa had supposedly left behind.
Sayama had a photograph of the building from a newsletter he had brought back from Izumo UCAT. #8 had been the one to calculate out the general location of the building based on the background in the photograph and GPS data.
After thanking her, Sayama had asked if there was anything he could help her with, but she had no personal hopes of that sort. If he had asked if there was anything she wanted him to do, that would have been a different matter.
However, a maid automaton did not ask for that kind of thing herself.
Shinjou on the other hand was visiting Sakai in order to pursue the woman named Shinjou Yukio.
Chances were good she was not Shinjou’s relative and this was not a Team Leviathan job.
That was why she wanted to do this before the next Leviathan Road began.
…But the Army is preparing to make their move.
The attacks by the Army had grown sporadic.
Recently, activity had ended in the distribution routes for their overseas sources of money.
This meant the Army was going to make a major move before long.
Thinking about the state of the Leviathan Road, UCAT had already gathered the Concept Cores for 1-6 and 8-10.
The only one requiring new negotiations was 7th, so a lot thought this would be when the Army attacked. Quite a few requests had come in for transfers from the standard division to the field operations division and from the field operations division to the special division.
But even though a lot was in motion…
…I did not think UCAT Director Ooshiro had much work for today.
Wondering what he could be doing, #8 looked to the side.
Ooshiro’s dance was approaching its climax.
“Ooshiro-sama, how long do you intend to continue dancing?” she asked with a frown. “Do you not want your dinner?”
“Ah, w-wait, #8! D-d-d-d- you have any idea what is happening to me!?”
She looked at him, placed the box on the desk, opened it, and produced a container.
“You appear to be dancing.”
“Nwah, you’re just the worst! L-listen. I-I c-can’t br-brea-…peh peh peh peh.”
“Ooshiro-sama, you need not try so hard to speak. I know what you are saying.”
“R-really!? Then you know what I just said?”
“Nwah, you’re just the worst! L-listen. I-I c-can’t br-brea-…peh peh peh peh.”
“Not what I literally said! What I have a feeling you don’t understand is what I meant!!”
He held his throat and rapidly jumped up and down.
From that, she estimated what it was he wanted to say.
“Testament. I have determined you are dancing for joy because you are having difficulty breathing.”
“Why do you insist on defying me at every turn!?”
“Ooshiro-sama, please calm down. …Your logic is falling apart. I have determined this is entirely unrelated to whether I am being defiant or not. Let us simplify the problem before continuing: what seems to be the problem?”
“The person right in front of me!!!”
She contemplated his pointing finger. While it was possible he could be referring to her, that was unlikely as he had said “person” and not “automaton”.
Based on that conclusion, she turned around to find the person who must be behind her.
She found a window with its shutter closed, but she saw their reflection in the glass.
She took a step back and Ooshiro was now pointing at his own reflection in the window.
She tilted her head.
“But I already knew that. I am a little disappointed.”
Ooshiro collapsed to the floor and #8 took a step back from his sprawled-out form.
After all, he had taken upskirt photographs of her in the past. He had claimed his shoe was untied, but he had been wearing sandals. Based on the manual Diana had given her, #8 had successfully used the ends of her arms to apply pressure to his sides and transport him about three meters diagonally upwards.
…But ever since then…
“Why was I put in charge of you, Ooshiro-sama?”
“D-do you not like it?”
She replied to the voice from the floor while cleaning off the desk. She dumped the plastic models, dolls, and manga in the trash can.
“I have not determined that. Your room has a high tendency toward entropy and always having a job is a happy thing for a maid automaton. Also, the manual I was given said my primary job is to transport you into the air using various parts of my body. This gives me plenty of opportunities to fulfill that job, so I would call this an excellent workplace. However…”
She continued while bending all of the DVDs piled up on the desk and using them to neatly fill the trash can with no gaps.
“The exact same events repeat too often, so I have recently been unable to stimulate my memory device. I have determined it is a poor environment for an automaton to grow.”
“I-I’m being plenty stimulated right now. Especially as a living creature! S-see? I’m growing faint and I think I have a delightful urge to vomit!”
“Testament. I have determined you are hungry. I had some odd jobs to complete, so I completely forgot about you as your priority level is set extremely low. Your dinner is about eight hours late, so I brought you a large serving of the cafeteria’s new ramen rice. Please eat.”
“Ramen rice? They have that? So it’s a new dish?”
“Testament. Hot ramen noodles are placed on top of a plate of steaming rice. I chose the flat noodles as they seemed to have the most volume.”
“All those carbohydrates are going to make me fat!!”
#8 glared down at the old man who was rolling around on the floor.
“Why are you so selfish?”
“I have a feeling you aren’t even listening to me, #8-kun!”
“I have determined you are imagining things. My auditory devices are functioning perfectly as always,” she said. “Also, I forgot to mention it, but in preparation for today’s cleaning, I had insecticide sprayed in your room. If you have difficulty breathing, I have determined you should leave the room.”
“Th-that is why I’ve been suffering all this time!”
She looked back down at him when he said that.
“Why would you dance instead of telling me something so important?”
“#-#8-kun? I just realized what we lack is communication!”
“A maid automaton does not desire casual communication with her master.”
“H-how can you say that when you casually scorn me all the time!!”
“Casually? Even if I have ever scorned you, it would have been after careful thought.”
“How much thought?”
“3rd’s artificial intelligence is perfect, so approximately a split-second of thought.”
“That’s the same thing! That’s the same thing as doing it without thinking!”
She determined he was the sort of person who would never understand even if she stated it plainly.
Deciding to simply leave his food on the desk, she removed the wrap from the ramen rice and set down the containers for the arbitrary toppings she had brought for him: marmalade, chocolate chips, and mint.
Upon closing the box, she suddenly realized what Ooshiro had been working on today.
“Ooshiro-sama, what are these documents on the corner of your desk?”
“Riiiice! Riiiice! That lovely silver sushi riiiiice!!”
#8 followed Entry 11 Part 3 of the manual and pressed the end of her leg against his side for just an instant to make him hang in midair for approximately two seconds. Her job was to transport him to the air. What happened afterwards was none of her business.
He slammed into the wall, bounced off, and stood up.
“O-ow!! #-#8-kun! I think kicking me is a bit-…”
“Ooshiro-sama, that is irrelevant, so please answer my question. I apologize, but it is a question about one of your few actual jobs. When I checked your desk, I noticed-…”
“Oh, you mean the new figure I bought? That’s Full Transformation Magical Girl Gomes Trigger!”
#8 broke Gomes Trigger into four pieces and dropped them into the trash can.
The door opened and then closed at that weird cry, but she did not care. Without a thought to how nosy she was being, she gathered the documents from the corner of the desk.
She commented on the first five documents.
“Why are these letters of resignation addressed to you? Is someone planning to leave during this busy and dangerous time when the Army could attack at any moment?”
Ooshiro did not react. After his previous shout, he had inhaled and crossed his arms and he was now staring at her in that pose.
He was showing his teeth in a smile and #8 made a certain judgment about that expression.
…Is he testing me?
Meanwhile, she reached for something else on the desk.
It was a schedule for Team Leviathan’s actions and it was written by Sayama, but the actual schedule was summed up in a single sentence.
“What is this? It makes no sense. Don’t tell me Sayama-sama plans to…”
Just as she prepared to say aloud what Team Leviathan was scheduled to do, she realized something.
Ooshiro had passed out while still standing and smiling.
…Did the insecticide get to him?
If he died, she would be the one to discover his body. She would be thoroughly questioned, but she wanted to avoid that since she was so busy. That was why she grabbed his collar and dragged him over to the automatic door.
However, it would not open. A weird noise was necessary.
Oh, no, she thought just before grabbing and twisting the ear of what she held in her hand.
That produced a weird noise and the door opened.
She finally dragged him out into the white corridor. While making her way to the medical room, she thought to herself.
…Is Sayama-sama scheduled to stop by today?
He was not. Both he and Shinjou would not be visiting UCAT because they had to prepare for their trips on the following day.
Kashima would be visiting their school that night to give a lecture on how the Gears had been formed. After that, Hiba, Mikage, Heo, and Harakawa had their training and examinations.
“But by then, that item on the schedule will have already taken effect.”
She guessed that it had been Sayama’s request to keep this a secret. But…
“What is going to become of Team Leviathan and the Leviathan Road?”
“I simply cannot understand what you are thinking, Sayama-sama.”
Her gaze turned to the dark night beyond the corridor window.
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