Owari no Chronicle:Volume11 Chapter 27
Chapter 27: Waking Light
In that moment when I awaken
I just hope it is not too late
Something stirred in the darkness.
It was a stir of awakening.
A bed sat in the center of a room dyed in the colors of night and a girl next to the bed lifted her head from the blanket.
She wore a half coat with the name Kazami stitched inside the collar.
She sat up while still wearing the clothes she had come here in.
Her half-opened eyes turned to the clock on the bedside table.
“It’s only eight?” she muttered. “I hate not being able to sleep at night.”
She stretched her back in the darkness.
She looked to the head of the bed and saw Izumo’s face.
His eyes were still closed in sleep and she smiled a bit at the peaceful look there.
Her eyebrows lowered when she saw the wrecked weapons leaning against the bed and Izumo’s left arm.
She hung her head and brought a hand to her eyes.
“I’m not even crying anymore.”
She unsteadily rose to her feet. She had to make a request for each night she spent in the hospital room and she had to call her parents.
Talking in the room would disturb his sleep, so she stood up.
No strength reached her knees and she almost fell.
She grabbed the railing on the foot end of the bed to support herself and she sighed.
Wondering if something had happened, she looked across the room, but her behavior had not changed it at all.
She slowly gathered her strength again and left the hospital room.
She opened the door to the hallway.
She had been in the dark for so long that even the hallway’s small fluorescent lights seemed too strong.
It took several seconds for her eyes to adjust.
After waiting that long, she saw a hallway with hints of the dim night remaining in the corners.
The fluorescent lights on the second floor hallway’s ceiling were kept low enough to not disturb the people’s sleep.
Kazami looked left and right.
To her right were several more hospital rooms and an emergency exit with a maglite available.
To her left were a single hospital room and a lobby. Beyond the passageway to the southern building, she saw the nurse station counter and the hospital ward beyond that.
She would head to the nurse station to make her request for spending the night and then call home in the lobby because cellphones were forbidden in the hospital. She tried to remember if she had a ten yen coin to use in the lobby’s red phone.
Once she started thinking, the thoughts kept coming.
There was a bath toward the front of the hospital. She had declined to use it the day before, but…
…I really should use it today.
No, no, she corrected herself while shaking her head. Try to remember why you’re here.
Another thought suddenly came to her.
…What on earth am I doing?
She wanted to stay by Izumo’s side, but what would that accomplish?
She thought about it, but…
She was not sure what that word of rejection was directed at, but she had made up her mind.
She faced left and started toward the nurse station.
She noticed something sitting next to the room’s entrance.
It was a large green bag. It was larger than a shopping bag and looked more like a travel bag. She checked inside.
…A change of clothes.
It also had a box of rice balls and other food.
She crouched down, dug through it, and found a few letters.
The topmost one was from Sibyl.
“Chisato-sama, I have brought you a change of clothes and a set of towels.”
…Why does she know my size?
The next one was from Mikage.
“Heo made dinner, so I brought you some. It’s fried chicken and rice balls.”
…Are those two getting along?
She looked to the next letter which was from the development department.
“This may be presumptuous, but here is a high resolution DVD of Harumi to cheer you up.”
…I don’t have anything to play it with.
She then read a letter attached to a box.
“If you are bored in the hospital room, play with this. It’s the full action figure ‘Ooshiro in Action’. It comes with a secondary pained expression and a posing stand that sticks into the crotch, so it’s a great deal!”
…I should probably throw that in the incinerator.
She found a letter and a giant case at the bottom.
After picking it up and checking what it was, her movements, expression, and breathing all ground to a halt.
“Anti-7th Combat Instructions by Brunhild.”
The white case below the letter took up most of the bag.
…That’s X-Wi’s transportation case.
She gasped at the presence of those two things.
She stiffened and took deep breaths to slowly relax her body.
She closed the top of the bag, gently tapped the hard cloth a few times, and closed her eyes.
She stood and turned her back on the bag.
She walked down the corridor to the nurse station, raised her head, straightened her back, and opened her eyes.
When she realized how loud her footsteps were, she finally let out a breath.
Seeing that bag seemed to tell her what everyone wanted.
…On the surface, they talk about letting me rest or cheering me up, but deep down, they’re preparing me to fight.
That was too well put together, she sighed.
She shook her head and brushed a hand through her pretty dry hair.
I’ll probably never be able to do it, she told herself.
All she felt was guilt toward G-Sp2 and remorse toward Izumo.
Even if G-Sp2 was repaired and Izumo was healed…
…I can never return to the way I was.
Her guilt would cause her to step back from it all.
Ahh, ahh. She forced an exasperated sigh in her heart. I haven’t changed at all.
She had once gotten someone hurt in an athletic club.
Her opponent had been the type to do everything by the book while she had been the type to treat it like a real battle. At one point, one or the other of them was about to be made a first year regular and that was when it happened.
She had tried to lose on purpose to give the regular spot to the other girl.
…And that ended up injuring her.
It was not that the other girl had not managed to avoid her attack. Instead, the girl had mistakenly charged in. That girl always did everything by the book, but for some reason, she had strayed from the standard at that moment.
The girl had told her not to worry about it and all the others had said it was just a part of the match.
However, Kazami had withdrawn. Instead of simply handing over the regular spot, she had left that place altogether.
If she had not met Izumo, she had a feeling she would have continued withdrawing from everything.
And now the exact same thing is happening again, she mentally sighed.
…This must be the kind of person I am.
She left that self-analysis in her mind and raised her head in front of the nurse station.
She called out, but there was no one behind the counter.
Just as she started wondering why…
“Oh, over here, over here,” called a female voice.
She turned to the right, saw a door open in the back of the nurse station, and saw the head nurse step out.
The woman had a connection to UCAT and she had not left her post. Kazami tilted her head and looked at the door the woman had left.
It had a placard saying Nursery.
That was the room where all the newborn babies were kept.
Hospitals were usually a place of illness and injury, but that was the one place filled with life.
That fact relieved Kazami, but she soon recalled why she was here.
“Um, I would like to make a request for spending the night.”
“Okay, wait just a second. I need to settle things over here.”
Kazami tilted her head and the head nurse shrugged.
The woman beckoned her over and gestured for her to stay quiet.
Kazami both wondered what this was about and wanted to get the request over with, but she prioritized the former and walked past the nurse station.
The hospital nursery was located next to the nurse station and on the eastern end of the building. Dark glass covered the hallway wall from waist height to the ceiling, so Kazami could see inside.
She saw an oblong room with infant beds lined up along the hallway side.
The white beds resembled cradles and a small child slept in each one.
There was a door labeled Nursing Room on the back of the room and a woman stepped out of it.
She wore white pajamas and held a baby.
She smiled and nodded toward Kazami for some reason.
Kazami did not know the woman, but she nodded back because she had a feeling she knew why the woman had nodded.
The woman laid the child in a nearby bed and moved out into the hallway.
She walked up next to Kazami but did not look at the girl. She kept her eyes on her own child and the other children sleeping beyond the window.
“They’re so cute, aren’t they?”
As she answered, Kazami realized her thoughts were not the same as this woman’s.
The sleeping children brought the words “defenseless” and “innocent” to mind, but beyond that…
“I can’t seem to put my thoughts in words.”
“Is one of them yours?”
“Ah, no. I’m here for someone else.”
She frantically corrected the woman and started wondering what she looked like to her.
The woman faced her and smiled.
She said nothing and the smile felt genuine, so Kazami said nothing either.
Feeling uncomfortable, Kazami faced forward to look away from the woman’s smile.
The woman nodded, bowed toward the head nurse, and walked past Kazami.
Her footsteps echoed through the hallway and the head nurse entered the nurse station.
While thinking she should go make her request, Kazami looked into the nursery.
…Even I was like this once.
“Will I be able to have something like this?”
But she suddenly came to her senses and shook her head.
…Don’t do that.
This was no time to think those happy thoughts. Izumo would have to go through rehabilitation for his left arm after this and they would only start discussing that after all of that was over.
She had a feeling she would back out when it came down to it, but she had another thought as well.
…I don’t even have the will to fight anymore.
As she muttered that in her heart, she peeled herself away from the nursery window.
She turned left in order to reach the nurse station counter, but then she heard a voice.
—Attack power is at its maximum.
A voice resembling her own rang in her ears and all light vanished around her.
Kazami knew what had happened.
A concept space had opened around the hospital and that had cut off the external power.
However, the hospital’s own emergency power allowed the emergency lights to activate.
Faint light illuminated the hospital.
The people were gone. The nurse station and the hallway were both empty.
However, Kazami could hear someone’s presence.
She heard footsteps.
Someone was climbing the staircase past the nurse station.
The dimly lit staircase circled around on its way up and she saw someone turn that corner. It was Ikkou wielding an Azure Dragon Sword.
Kazami began to run on reflex.
She moved west because Izumo was sleeping in the hospital room to the east.
She ran toward the eastern building to draw Ikkou after her once he reached the hallway.
She had to try to run since she had lost to him once and she was unarmed. She would lure him toward her, run away, escape the concept space, and call for help. No one might come to save her, but UCAT could not ignore it if Izumo was in danger.
…That’s what I’ll do.
As she turned toward the far end of the western ward, the nursery briefly came into view.
In that moment, she caught sight of something beyond the glass.
It was a child.
The previous child was sleeping in front of her.
It had accidentally entered the concept space.
Suddenly, the child opened its eyes, looked into the empty space for a moment, and noticed the darkness surrounding it.
It began to cry.
Kazami hesitated and closed her eyes to ignore the baby’s cries. She prepared to start running.
“Oh? A child ended up in here? What an interesting accident.”
The voice from the staircase settled everything for her.
She turned the other way and charged into the empty nurse station.
She turned around and ran through the half-open door to the nursery.
Frowning, Kazami threw her body around to rush toward the voice she heard.
“I can’t believe this!”
Once she entered the dimly-lit oblong room, she quickly found the source of the crying.
She ran over to the bed and hesitated, but…
She shook her head once and picked up the baby and the cloth it was wrapped in.
…This is a special kind of cloth used for babies, isn’t it?
While panicking and thinking that at the same time, she inhaled and made a beeline for the exit.
She pushed the door open with her shoulder.
“I feel like I’m stealing the baby.”
She frowned, cut across the nurse station, and ran toward the counter’s eastern exit.
But she heard a voice from the staircase leading down to the first floor.
“Kazami-sama, why are you taking away the child I was just about to place under my protection?”
It was Ikkou’s voice.
The voice allowed her to judge his location and he seemed almost done climbing the stairs.
…That means I can’t escape easily.
She shouted back at the man to erase the unease in her heart.
“You want to know why I’m taking the baby with me? Because I can’t trust your protection, Ikkou-san.”
She was ashamed of the tremor in her voice. She had not been like this in the past.
She ran between the work desks and searched for a weapon with her empty hand.
…How am I going to escape?
She could not move east because Izumo’s room was that way.
But going west would require circling around the counter and running into Ikkou as he climbed the stairs.
…There’s a passageway to the southern building between the nurse station and lobby, isn’t there?
Is that where I should go? she wondered.
However, a voice and form cut off her thoughts as they appeared in the stairway entrance in front of the nurse station.
It was an elderly man wearing a white armored uniform.
His hair swayed where it was tied back and he held an Azure Dragon Sword.
“Are you on your way back to Izumo-sama’s room?”
His words brought a tremor to her spine.
But the tremor was not because he was implying Izumo was a target.
He was saying something else.
…If I don’t want him to kill Kaku, I have to fight!?
She gulped and faced the counter’s exit.
She chose not to look at Ikkou anymore. The sight of her enemy was nothing more than unnecessary pressure for her now.
But the senses she had gained after fighting so many battles told her some things without looking directly at him.
She did not turn around, but she knew an attack was coming. After all…
…I can’t hear anything.
No matter what kind of attack, he would build up his strength in order to release it.
That moment of focus created a unique silence. It was a clear but stagnant silence.
As soon as she felt that tense stillness in her skin, she leaped forward.
Still holding the child, she jumped toward the counter itself instead of the exit.
“I can jump over it!”
At the same time, exactly what she had predicted raced toward her from behind.
She heard a slicing of air that resembled a flute and heard something ricochet off the surface of the wall.
After a quick moment, she landed and ran eastward.
Something exploded behind her.
Kazami heard the air burst.
She heard desk drawers and frames bending and breaking, the fluttering of scattered documents, and concrete in the ceiling and elsewhere splitting apart.
“The passageway to the southern building!”
The passageway had been utterly destroyed when the side wall of the neighboring nurse station was smashed through.
She could not reach the southern building now.
As she listened to the sounds of breaking rubble, she ran through a three-way junction and the lobby.
Once she reached the eastern hallway, she realized the lights on the ceiling had gone out.
…Did the power fail?
As if to answer her, only the battery-powered emergency lights on the walls were functioning.
Only the floor was lit now.
Her pace threatened to slow as darkness fell over her, but something supported her.
The small form in her arms moved.
Her heart raced a little at the touch from a power she could not control.
After using both her heart and body to agree, she continued to run while holding that life in her arms.
Ikkou’s voice approached from behind.
“Kazami-sama, how is Izumo-sama doing?”
The voice was only a few steps behind her, but she told herself it was okay. She did not sense that pre-attack silence.
She continued to run toward Izumo’s hospital room and a single thought filled her panicking heart.
…I have to do something.
She felt that thought was going to vanish, so she repeated it even more strongly so it could not escape.
…I have to do something!!
Her body was frightened, her mind was backing down, and her experience told her she would lose.
But she had those words in her heart.
I have to do something, she said again.
Suddenly, she heard a silence behind her.
She moved in an instant.
She turned around. To distract her from her fear, she gathered more strength than necessary and practically threw her body around.
Five meters behind her, Ikkou was raising his Azure Dragon Sword in his right hand.
His attack would arrive an instant later. It would likely be wrapped in a shockwave and could easily slice the building in two.
Kazami responded by throwing what she held in her right hand.
It was a utility knife she had grabbed from a desk in the nurse station.
The blade was drawn out as far as it would go and she threw it by grabbing the back end between her fingers and almost pushing it forward.
She did not have time to take aim, so she used all her strength to chuck it toward the center of Ikkou’s torso.
Immediately afterwards, she saw the knife produce an explosion of water vapor.
Have I always been that strong? she wondered as the knife broke the sound barrier.
The reason for this was simple. Ikkou’s concept had set the attack power to its maximum.
However, the knife could not endure its own shockwave and it shattered.
It destroyed itself.
Fortunately, that proved effective. The small shockwave that spread from the explosion of white water vapor forced Ikkou to defend.
As the vibration of the air washed over Ikkou, Kazami arrived at Izumo’s room.
However, she did not stop there. She ran past it and pulled a silver case from the bag sitting in front of the room. She opened it with one hand and tossed the case away while holding onto its contents.
She had the baby in her left arm, so she could not wear it over both shoulders. Even so, she placed the strap over her right shoulder and activated X-Wi.
—Light possesses power.
The concept voice accompanied a wing growing from only the right side of her back.
A moment later, silence came from Ikkou as if to stop the expansion of that light.
After that brief silence, she heard a single footstep. He was rushing toward her.
While running toward the emergency exit at the end of the corridor, she flapped the wing on the right side of her back.
The wing of light produced wind.
She used X-Wi to make a great leap forward.
It was a low jump that sent her skimming just below the ceiling.
As she flew, she twisted her body around and performed a half rotation.
She stood on the ceiling and faced backwards.
The wing flapped as if scratching at the air and she took a large step back.
She faced forward while doing so and saw Ikkou running along the floor overhead.
He was almost directly below her and he was swinging the Azure Dragon Sword up toward her.
“That was fast!”
“This is the average speed among my brothers.”
With those words, his sword flashed by.
Ikkou swung the blade toward the one-winged girl flying overhead.
She was moving back in a straight line and did not have time to evade.
She had no weapons and the shockwave would reach her even if the sword itself did not.
He regretted hitting the child with the attack as well.
…It would have been better if I had used it as a hostage.
It was a sad turn of events.
…And yet another boring outcome. Not even defeating Izumo-sama will change that as he is still asleep.
Even as he swung the sword, he felt this was an awful outcome.
The tip of the sword raced through the air, gained a burst of speed, and began to produce its shockwave.
But the Azure Dragon Sword’s blade suddenly shattered.
It had not destroyed itself. The blade had struck something before it had produced the shockwave.
It had struck something Kazami held.
With the sound of shattering glass, metal fragments scattered as specks of light.
How? he silently asked. She was unarmed, so how did she break my weapon?
He looked up and saw Kazami past the scattering shards of his blade.
She quickly moved back along the ceiling and did indeed hold a weapon in her hand.
That was the weapon his blade had hit.
“A fluorescent light!?”
“That’s right. Thanks to X-Wi, light is power.”
She answered while gliding backwards along the ceiling and she threw the broken fluorescent light toward him.
“Didn’t you do that experiment in science class? Fluorescent lights glow white for a while even after turning off.”
“I never received a compulsory education.”
“That’s too bad. You wouldn’t understand how hard it was to learn the times table then.”
“The same goes…for Izumo-sama!”
Ikkou approached. He hit a switch on the Azure Dragon Sword’s base and a new blade was created.
Kazami looked at it as she backed away.
“A second blade!?”
“Unfortunately, there is still more I must shave away!”
He ran and took a powerful step to approach her.
To match her flight, he raced along the floor. To match her retreat, he advanced. To match her interception, he attacked.
The pursuer and the pursued clashed.
Their movement came from their speed and they both released attack power.
Ikkou swung his Azure Dragon sword and it broke. Kazami fell back, removed a fluorescent light from the ceiling, and slammed it into his sword.
Their weapons crossed paths at high speed and destroyed each other again and again.
The swordfight raced down the hallway.
The sounds decorating the fight sounded like sudden bursts of brass instruments.
The roaring wind blew away all of the fragments.
Ikkou smiled and shouted out as he ran along the floor.
“Not bad, Kazami-sama! I would rate this at about 15 points!”
He saw her expression past the bursting light. Her eyebrows were raised and her teeth were clenched, but he revealed a smile regardless.
“Aren’t you having fun, Kazami-sama!?”
“Not in the slightest!!”
I see, he thought as he ran.
However, he was certain this was about to become much more fun. After all…
“Then please look behind you.”
She looked back in surprise and saw what was there.
“The emergency exit. This means there are no more fluorescent lights. How will you handle this ending?”
With those words, he broke Kazami’s final fluorescent light.
The Azure Dragon Sword’s blade also shattered into fragments of light, but he swung the sword up regardless.
Once the new blade grew from it, this would become a surefire attack.
An instant later, he saw the wing of light flap and bring the girl down to the floor.
She had turned her back on him.
He also saw her hand reaching for the emergency exit door.
“Do you really think you can escape!?”
“Do you really think you can win!?”
With that question, Kazami turned around.
She thrust forward her right hand as she did so, but it was not holding light.
However, it was holding something.
“Buildings like these keep maglites in the emergency exits. Didn’t you learn that in disaster training at school?”
Kazami switched on the maglite.
Light raced down the dark hallway.
The directional light was supposedly powerful enough to be seen from five kilometers away.
It instantly shot down the hallway and struck Ikkou’s body.
He caught the light on the Azure Dragon Sword, but it knocked him into the air and sent him flying.
The light pursued him as he flew through the air and it accelerated him down the hallway.
The light instantly passed by the nurse station, the nursery, and the corridor to the other building.
The Azure Dragon Sword broke.
The wall of light continued on and struck his entire body.
And that was not all. The dust created from the shattered fluorescent lights and steel blades were pushed by the light and acted as reflectors.
What began as a mist of light fragments quickly grew in a chain-reaction explosion.
Countless explosive sounds could be heard racing down the hospital’s second floor from east to west.
The front end of the light explosions destroyed the western emergency exit and made their way outside.
All that remained was the vanishing light, shimmering heat, wind, and…
“I doubt that’s enough to defeat him.”
Kazami turned off the maglite and lowered her shoulders in front of the eastern emergency exit.
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