Owari no Chronicle:Volume11 Chapter 34
Chapter 34: False World
No matter what anyone says
This remains absolutely certain
The corridor was long and narrow.
It was about fifty meters long and pure white except for the BF6 written on the wall. One end led to a rising staircase and the other to two large metal doors with a smaller rising staircase to the side.
That straight space had become a straight battlefield.
The battlefield was supported by a single individual and countless individuals.
The single individual was a girl.
The black-haired girl wore a white and black armored uniform and she kneeled down by the two doors.
The white cannon resting on her shoulder aimed at the other end of the corridor and she fired countless bullets of light.
Several spare barrels hung from her waist and her eyes stared straight down the corridor from below her sweaty brow.
The sound of her firing resembled a spray of water.
She was firing on the countless individuals who decorated the other end of the battlefield.
They all wore black armored uniforms. Some were men, some were women, some were young, and some were old.
They relied on their thick armor and fired back, but a single shot from the white side was enough to blow them away.
“Dammit!!” shouted one of them while crouched down. “We need to make a path for General Hajji, so why can’t we gain any ground!?”
At the same time, they were all struck by white glowing bullets spread out across the corridor.
The solid sound of bodies being struck rang out again and again.
The ones still waiting back in the stairway were tackled by their comrades who were knocked backwards and they were left unable to move while holding those comrades.
The girl sighed and began swapping out the smoking barrel.
She spoke quietly to herself with a serious expression.
“Don’t worry. He’ll definitely be here!”
A voice answered her.
“Who do you think is coming, Shinjou? Who can make it through this veritable sea of enemies?”
The voice was accompanied by two sets of footsteps walking down the small staircase to the side.
Shinjou did not turn around and twisted the scorching barrel while feeling its heat through her glove.
“Sayama-kun will be here, Itaru-san. I know he will. It’s so obvious that we didn’t even have to make a promise.”
“Oh? That’s quite the blind trust you have there. The bell of madness is ringing in your head, isn’t it?”
She answered his sneer with a snort of laughter, but then…
“Itaru-sama. There is blood.”
Assuming he had been hit by a stray bullet, Shinjou turned to look at him.
And she really did see it there on the handkerchief Sf had held to his mouth.
She had heard rumors of him coughing up blood, but this was her first time to actually see it.
He must have noticed her look because he clacked his metal cane against the floor.
“Interesting, isn’t it? I’ve lost so much color, but the blood I cough up is still nearly red.”
“Th-that is not interesting! You need to get back to the fifth basement!”
Meanwhile, footsteps rang down the corridor.
Shinjou quickly finished replacing Ex-St’s barrel
Just as she tightened it to cock it, several people appeared crawling along the corridor.
She fired regardless.
Ex-St’s bullets could react to her will and track her targets. If her will remained strong, she could hit them even when they hid behind cover.
The sound of her firing shook the corridor and smoke raced back and forth.
Even while hiding behind her large weapon, some bullets grazed her armor and body.
The blue defense philosopher’s stone pendant from the development department was constantly shining brightly.
But she had no reason to stop firing.
As she kept shooting beyond the smoke, she let out a shout.
“Look! This isn’t interesting or anything, so hurry back, Itaru-san! It’s dangerous here!”
“No, this should be very interesting. After all, I’ll get to see regret fill your face before long.”
She frowned as her gaze raced along beyond the smoke.
She saw the enemy past the smoke, but she saw nothing she would regret.
“Wh-what do you mean? What will I regret?”
“I’m obviously not going to tell you. And there is one other interesting thing. This one you should find interesting too,” he said. “After all, your mother suffered from the same illness I do.”
She felt her hair stand on end at his words.
But new people in black armor descended the stairs, so she focused on firing.
However, Itaru’s comment had shaken her enough to affect her aim a little.
She heard him laughing, then coughing, and finally spitting something out.
“Aim straight, Shinjou. Aim straight for your regret. And I’ll tell you something else you’ll find interesting. …Do you know what this doors behind us leads to?”
“T-to the storage area for the Concept Cores UCAT has.”
Shinjou answered while trying to get her bullets to start hitting again.
But she sensed motion next to her. It was Itaru shaking his head.
“That’s one of the doors. Do you want to know where the other leads?”
The word “foreboding” appeared in Shinjou’s heart.
So she closed her eyes and raised her voice as she fired. It was a tone of rejection.
“I don’t want to know!!”
“Then I’ll tell you.”
Her eyes opened wide and Itaru’s voice filled her surroundings.
“The other door next to me leads to the true sixth basement that we sealed ten years ago. It only reached the prototype stage and was never completed, but it was a concept creation facility.”
Shinjou quietly repeated that term as she fired. Her lips slowly moved to form the words “concept creation facility”, but she immediately shook her head.
“Th-that’s impossible!! You can’t create concepts!”
“But two such facilities were created. One in the past and one just over a decade ago. The organization that formed the basis of the Army had likely completed one…by modeling it after Babel.”
“Listen. Babel is a storage space for the negative concepts, but it was originally a tower meant to control the creation and erasure of concepts. It is a concept laboratory…a place to work toward becoming a god.”
“Th-then why was UCAT trying to do that? …To oppose the Army? Because the Army was trying to create concepts, UCAT also-…”
“No,” answered Itaru with some slight irritation at her continued questions. “Listen. That is not what UCAT was trying to oppose. And the reason UCAT’s concept creation research was never completed lies elsewhere.”
“It was because the person who formulated the concept creation theory left UCAT. That person’s name was Shinjou Yukio.”
“…!? M-my mom!?”
She turned around and shouted on reflex as if to say it was not true.
“I’d heard my mom was part of UCAT! If she left, then where did she go!?”
Itaru was not the one to answer her shouted question.
The answer came from the wall.
A console box was located by the metal door on the left wall. It was the communication terminal that also controlled the door.
Its monitor displayed a certain Arab face.
“Hajji. …It’s been ten years since last I saw you.”
Itaru muttered to himself as Hajji smiled on the staticky monitor.
Only one side of his mouth rose and revealed his teeth.
Hajji took one step back in the monitor and spread his right arm.
He was inside Japanese UCAT’s headquarters on the second basement.
In the center of that room, he lowered his right arm and gave a smiling shout.
“The communications system has already been opened and this footage is being sent to all the world’s UCATs and each Gear’s reservation. I am Hajji, leader of the Army and former general of 9th-Gear. I have something to discuss with you all.”
He took a breath.
“Let us check over our answers about this world.”
Many people had evacuated to the large storage space on UCAT’s fifth basement and they were all looking and listening to the terminal on the wall.
Among them, Ooki tilted her head at the words coming from the communication terminal monitor and speakers.
“Check over our answers? Is he saying we have something wrong about this world?”
“This may be unnecessary, but let me introduce the usual theory concerning the creation of this world.”
Hajji snapped the fingers of his right hand.
An instant later the screen changed to show a large white circle in a black space.
“This is about the creation of the eleven Gears, isn’t it?” said Ooki.
The white circle burst, the circles indicating the ten positive Gears radiated outward, and a large red circle appeared.
Everyone tilted their heads at the completed diagram of the eleven Gears and Ooki tilted hers even further and frowned.
“If he’s saying we have to check over our answers…he must mean there’s something wrong with this,” she muttered. “Hm? But how is it wrong?”
In UCAT’s headquarters, Hajji had displayed several moving circles on the two-story monitor. He then pulled a recording ROM from his pocket.
He held the ROM down to a dog.
The dog took the ROM in its mouth, wagged its tail, and entered a nearby terminal.
After watching the tail vanish inside the machine, Hajji turned to face the terminal with the camera.
“Can you tell someone has altered the data on the creation of this world? Hm?”
He waited a few seconds after that tone of question.
After a few breaths and time to blink, he let out one last deep breath and looked up.
He smiled into the camera.
“Let me tell you just how it has been altered. It was changed to say the world was made up of only eleven Gears.”
He paused for a breath.
“But what if there was another Gear? A twelfth Gear?”
That shout came from the underground space of Izumo UCAT. The voice belonged to Gyes who was preparing to head out within the underground hangar for 3rd residents.
She tore her eyes from the terminal on the wall and looked left and right, but Moira 1st, 2nd, and 3rd were all frowning. Moira 1st shook her head a bit.
“I have never heard anything about that.”
However, a voice next to the wall answered 1st. It came from Miyako who held a chewing gum cigarette in her mouth.
“Then we’ll need to hear his explanation of this.”
As if responding to her icy tone, the terminal filled with black.
Just like before, a large white circle appeared in the center of the black.
Moira 3rd responded when she saw it.
“How is that any different? That splits into the ten Gears, right?”
Sure enough, the white circle split apart and ten small circles radiated outwards.
But one thing was different from before.
“The fragments of the broken circle…”
When the ten Gears split off, fragments scattered throughout the black.
While the ten circles left, the fragments were pulled together into a large pile of wreckage near the center.
It looked like they were forming another circle.
The battle continued beneath the night sky.
As white and black clashed, the black army cried out.
“Look at the truth!! Look at what you forgot ten years ago!!”
While under attack, the white army saw large doll #2 suddenly spread its arms.
Lightning-like light raced between its hands.
An image was displayed in the air in front of the large doll’s chest.
The midair projection showed the creation of the world that Hajji described.
As the ten Gears scattered, a blue circle appeared in the empty center space and grew larger.
“Think about it,” said Hajji’s voice. “Would such a massive concept really break apart so cleanly when it burst? And why would the negative Gears be in the center of the world? Just watch.”
The blue circle formed at the center of the ten Gears. That circle represented a Gear large enough to counterbalance the other ten.
“The chaos that gave birth to the world shattered, but the fragments gathered and formed a single Gear once more. This Gear was the remains of the mother Gear and it regained the pieces torn away by the other Gears via evolution and replication.”
Hajji turned to the monitor.
“In other words, this Gear inherited everything about that original Gear and possessed concepts equivalent to the positive concepts of the other Gears. It became the ultimate Gear and it belonged in the center of all the other Gears. …You could call it Top-Gear.”
With those words, a plus-sign appeared in the large blue circle.
The white army was left speechless in the face of that term, but soon…
“Lies!” someone shouted.
“Yeah!” agreed someone else. “My father is from 2nd, but I’ve never heard anything about a Top-Gear! And what about this Gear!? How do you explain its existence!?”
“Don’t you find it odd?” asked Hajji as if as an answer.
He held his right hand toward the large screen behind him where the white circles of the ten Gears circled the blue circle.
“Pulled by the massive amount of concepts held by Top-Gear, the ten Gears revolved around it. But that would not cause the Gears to collide with each other. So why do you think those collisions occurred?”
On a road through an Okutama forest, a control and communications terminal on the side of an abandoned god of war cargo trailer sent its words and images into the deserted space around it.
The screen showed ten red circles appear next to the Top-Gear circle. These ten circles were negative concepts.
“Do you understand now? These ten negatives gathered to form a single Gear.”
Hajji’s voice filled the empty air.
“When the positive Gears settled to create Top-Gear, a massive negative Gear was created to act as the opposite of the positive concepts. In other words, it was a negative copy of Top-Gear. It was the lowest Gear made as a reverse copy of Top-Gear which created all else. …That was Low-Gear.”
The images on the monitor began to move.
The ten Gears were drawn to the negative Low-Gear and their orbits grew unstable.
Low-Gear’s red circle began a quick and tight revolution around Top-Gear’s circle and the ten Gears rapidly approached Low-Gear before moving away again.
The ten Gears would occasionally graze Top-Gear too, but it was far less common than their intersections with Low-Gear.
“Do you understand? Low-Gear’s creation threw off the balance of every other Gear and created the possibility for every Gear colliding at the time of destruction which triggered the Concept War in the first place. The higher Gears that fought fiercely in that war had to have noticed. There were times when they would choose Low-Gear as a battlefield and destroy a part of it, but later they would find it completely unharmed,” explained Hajji. “But you would not have known this. While Low-Gear is an inferior reverse copy of Top-Gear, it also looks a lot like it. During 9th-Gear’s destruction, I intended to escape to Low-Gear, but I was approached by that world’s anti-Concept War organization and picked up by them.”
Hajji smiled on the monitor no one was watching.
He then explained their identity.
“That was the combat organization that preceded the Army. It was the true UCAT that existed in Top-Gear. …And did you know this, Low-Gear? All of you are fakes created as reverse copies of Top-Gear.”
“Top-Gear was destroyed by Low-Gear. …It happened on December 25, 1995. I’m sure some of you are familiar with that battle that occurred in the other Osaka.”
On the moonlit forest ground, white and black giants moved about.
As they knocked over adult cedar trees and tried to break the other’s armor, the girl on the white giant’s shoulder smiled and asked a question.
“Do you understand now, Ryuuji? Do you understand why I am your enemy and why I am using the surname Nagata?”
“You can’t mean…”
The white giant answered by sending out its right sword.
A black sword blocked it and the white giant pushed forward.
“You are the false version of me! In Top-Gear, the Nagata family played the role of the Hiba family and you are Low-Gear’s reverse copy of their eldest daughter.”
“Th-then let’s get along! We’re both another version of each other, aren’t we!?”
“Yes, but your father and your world destroyed my family and my world.”
Tatsumi piled on repeated strikes and Hajji’s voice came from Typhon as it flapped its wings.
“Only five residents of Top-Gear survived: Shino, Mikoku, Alex, Tatsumi, and Shinjou Sadagiri. Of them, Mikoku, Alex, and Tatsumi have false versions in this world.”
Hiba listened to Tatsumi’s quiet voice as Typhon flew up and raised its sword.
“You are reversed inferior copies of our existences, so your sex and other things are reversed. Due to discrepancies between our histories, your ages often don’t match up and it isn’t uncommon for family names to no longer match after a number of generations. I don’t know if it’s due to Low-Gear’s inferior copies of the concepts, but you do end up corresponding quite closely to us.”
Hajji spoke as if in Typhon’s place as it flew down.
“Tatsumi’s fake is Hiba Ryuuji. Alex’s fake is Heo Thunderson. And Mikoku’s fake…is Sayama Mikoto. Except for Shinjou who joined UCAT’s side, these survivors are the ‘true’ humans who deserve to inherit the original world. They deserve to inherit the entire world, not this inferior copy.”
Harakawa frowned as he piloted Thunder Fellow through the night sky.
Hajji’s diagram of the twelve Gears was displayed on the cockpit console.
He ascended and clenched his teeth.
“Is this why you’re calling us evil?”
The answer over the communicator was in Alex’s voice as the mechanical dragon pursued them.
“Yes, it is because you are a false version of our mother world. And as a fake, you destroyed the ten Gears which are direct children of that mother.”
Heo’s voice was almost a scream as they rose into the sky. She used a tone of rejection.
“Then…Then what was that battle in Osaka!? Why did our parents die!?”
“The rest is simple. I will explain it all in order.”
Hajji’s face appeared on the monitor.
“9th-Gear’s King Sarv realized that Top-Gear existed, as did some in 10th-Gear. Low-Gear took them in, so they opened a gate to Top-Gear after destroying the ten Gears. And they made a treaty. They agreed to settle things between the two Gears before the time of destruction in 1999,” explained Hajji. “That treaty was signed by Sayama Kaoru, instigator of the Leviathan Road and father of Sayama Asagi who later destroyed Top-Gear.”
After knocking some people in black armored uniforms down the white corridor, Kazami noticed the accompanying footsteps had stopped and trembled.
She shouted his name while clearing the corridor by striking her enemy with the tip of the shield removed from G-Sp2.
She turned around and saw Sayama’s pale face and slowed pace.
His hand was on his chest and his brow was coated with sweat, but…
“I am fine. I am perfectly fine.”
His voice shook slightly, but Kazami ignored it.
“Yes, I wasn’t about to worry. Come with me. The headquarters are right up ahead.”
She raised her eyebrows in a smile and turned her back.
She ran down the corridor and heard someone forcing strength into their footsteps behind her own.
…This might be bad. If he hears anything too bad, he could even collapse.
She thought about that possibility, but Hajji’s voice filled the corridor regardless.
“According to the research done by someone cooperating with us, this is the truth. When Low-Gear was still immature, the people of Top-Gear feared the negative concepts would leak out, so they created Babel in Low-Gear as a storage facility that could destroy them if need be. But as time passed, that was eventually forgotten.”
“Until it was discovered by Kinugasa Tenkyou who had noticed the Concept War in his research of mythology,” muttered Sayama.
Kazami then heard him shout a question.
“Is Babel…No, is Low-Gear itself a spare storage room for the negative concepts?”
“Yes. …And Kinugasa Tenkyou realized Top-Gear existed after entering Babel, so he never told anyone else how to enter the tower and gave this Gear the name Low-Gear. …Isn’t that right?”
Hajji’s explanation left even Kazami speechless.
…If that’s true, it would place Low-Gear under Top-Gear’s control.
She clenched her teeth and gathered strength in the hand that held G-Sp2.
She opened her mouth and forced out her words.
“But Top-Gear was destroyed. …How can you say all this when you lost?”
“Good question,” replied Hajji. “In 1995, Top-Gear was steadily preparing for the final confrontation. Low-Gear must have seen them as a threat and attacked them on the night of December 25, 1995.”
Kazami frowned again. That attack would be the battle Sayama and the others had seen in Baku’s dreams, but…
“So that battle was…”
“We do not know much because we were out on the front lines fighting back, but we know how it ended. …Top-Gear had planned to join with Low-Gear after the confrontation, so a certain person was attempting to create copies of Low-Gear’s negative concepts. However, Low-Gear overloaded the incomplete negative concepts which destroyed Top-Gear. …The side-effects of that passed through the gate and caused a disaster in this world too.”
She listened to the voice.
“That disaster was the Great Kansai Earthquake.”
She ran on and saw the metal door to the headquarters ahead.
“Sayama! We can stop Hajji from speaking!”
Listening to the weak footsteps running behind her, she dashed down the white corridor.
She saw Kashima collapsed next to the metal barrier.
…Sorry. We’ll have to wait to help you.
Hajji was inside and broadcasting his message, so she flapped her wings to accelerate and collided with the metal door.
She slammed G-Sp2’s tip into the barrier.
With a great roar, she and then Sayama charged into the headquarters that the broadcast was coming from.
But once they got a view of the headquarters, they both cried out in unison.
Shinjou stopped firing down the long corridor and blankly hung her head.
Her mind was filled with Hajji’s words and the words of her teammates that had mixed into the broadcast.
Hearing about those past events told her what she had seen in those dreams of the past.
Some of her teammates had “real” reflections of themselves.
But there was one thing she did not understand, so she raised her eyebrows and her head.
“W-wait! You claim I’m a survivor of Top-Gear, but that doesn’t make sense. Mikoku-san and Tatsumi-san are normal girls, aren’t they? So why is my body like this?” she asked. “And my mom was from Low-Gear. If I’m a survivor of Top-Gear, does that mean my dad was from there?”
Itaru answered her from the wall. He coughed and then spoke.
“That’s simple. …You are the daughter of Shinjou Yukio and the true Shinjou from Top-Gear.”
“You mean…” Her surprise had dulled her mind, but she tried to think the best she could. “I’m the child of the ‘real’ Shinjou and the ‘fake’ Shinjou?”
Itaru was not the one to answer her. Instead, a voice echoed from the other end of the corridor.
The person descending the stairs wore a black armored uniform and carried a spear in his right hand.
It was Hajji.
Shinjou frantically got up and raised Ex-St without hiding her surprise.
“I thought you were broadcasting from the headquarters!?”
Sayama and Kazami stood still in the headquarters.
They saw Hajji on the large screen before them and all the other monitors, but…
“He tricked us. He pretended to be here when he’s really down below!!”
They both turned toward the room’s exit, but a voice was broadcast throughout the entire building using a transmitter located somewhere.
“Long time no see, Shinjou Sadagiri. Although it seems you do not remember me. Yes.”
It was Hajji’s voice.
The console in the headquarters indicated the signal came from the sixth basement.
Shinjou and Hajji were there.
Shinjou stiffened in surprise but kept Ex-St aimed at Hajji.
She gulped down a single breath and gathered strength in her legs.
“Is what you’re saying and what Itaru-san just said true?”
“Perfectly true. You would not exist otherwise.” Hajji shrugged. “And you heard that man, didn’t you? Your mother was Shinjou Yukio. Your father was her positive-side opposite, a man whose name is also pronounced Shinjou Yukio. You are their child and your body is a combination of the negative world and positive world.”
Shinjou removed her hand from the trigger and held it to her chest. She slowly lowered it below her navel.
“I have this body because I was born between those contradictory worlds?”
“Yes. That is why I wanted for you to inherit the world. After all, your mother Yukio was the only person to nearly complete a concept creation theory. Not to mention…”
“She is the only person to betray Low-Gear’s UCAT and defect to Top-Gear in search of the true Gear. She cooperated with us. …So how does it feel to learn the truth of your birth?”
Shinjou felt the temperature of her blood drop at the word “defect” and Hajji laughed before continuing.
“Listen, Shinjou. You have been fighting all this time and firing all this time. And every last one of your attacks has been directed at the people of the true UCAT that protected the world your mother desired and in which you were born.”
“You’re lying! Saying it like that isn’t fair!”
She denied it, repeated “he’s lying” three times in her heart, and then shouted her reasoning.
“Besides, why would my mom want to defect!?”
“Ha ha. Because Top-Gear called for her, of course. She was building up a concept creation theory, so they asked if she could create Low-Gear’s negative concepts. …Do you understand what I mean?”
She slowly answered in a questioning tone.
“Top-Gear was trying to create a place for the people of Low-Gear?”
“Yes. Just as I explained earlier. …But because she left, Low-Gear’s attempts to create concepts to use against Top-Gear never left the theory stage and they instead destroyed Top-Gear by overloading the negative concepts Top-Gear had created to take in Low-Gear. …And now the time has come to pay for what you have done. The side-effects of that event activated the negative concepts inside Babel and you are attempting to stop that by releasing all of the positive concepts through the Leviathan Road.”
He continued speaking.
“But if you do that, all of the negative concepts will resonate and repel each other. …Top-Gear possessed all of the positive concepts, but it was unable to oppose the overloaded negative concepts and was destroyed. That means the positive concepts cannot contain the negative ones. Yes. …Low-Gear will be destroyed.”
“Th-then the Army is…?”
“Yes. We are looking at this in reverse. By eliminating the positive concepts, the corresponding negative concepts will be annihilated too. To do that, we must open the doors of Babel and use the concept creation facility inside.”
He asked her if she understood.
“Low-Gear is trying to become the ruler of the world by doing what Top-Gear failed to do and what led to Top-Gear’s destruction. But that is a gamble. They have hidden, forgotten, or altered the fact that the negative concepts will resonate with the released positive concepts and be released themselves. They are falsely claiming that gathering all of the positive concepts and working together is enough to contain the negative ones.”
He took a breath.
“Even though Top-Gear – Low-Gear’s superior – tried the very same thing and was destroyed!”
In UCAT’s second basement, Hajji’s voice filled the headquarters and a new quiet voice joined it.
It was Sayama’s voice.
“I must go and stop this one-sided speech.”
“Yes, but at this point, people might think we’re silencing the truth.”
Kazami asked her worried question as if testing him.
She held G-Sp2 and Sayama nodded toward her.
“Some probably will, but he is saying whatever he wants without allowing for a rebuttal. That is not a negotiation,” said Sayama. “And someone who refuses to understand is exactly who we should negotiate with.”
Kazami’s eyebrows had begun to lower, but they moved back up when she heard that.
“Oh?” She stepped up next to him. “Then let’s go. …No, we have to go. Then you can show me.”
She turned her back on the large screen showing Hajji’s face.
“You can show me how you will crush that righteousness of his because I have no idea how to handle it.”
Sayama’s eyebrows twisted as he too turned his back on the large screen.
Kashima slept in the entrance to the headquarters. Most of his left ribs had been broken and a few had punctured his lung, but his defenses as a military god and the protection applied to his lab coat had kept him alive.
It was possible this would have some lasting effects, but the most they could do for him now was place him a more comfortable position. They had also called for help, so they would leave it to whoever showed up.
“We need to go, Kazami. Things are dangerous down below.”
“Right,” she agreed and took the first step.
But then Hajji spoke from the screen behind them.
“Oh, and I have a present for the child of Top-Gear’s destroyer.”
Sayama expressionlessly turned back.
He saw the false image of Hajji give a twisted smile.
“Sayama Mikoto? You think your mother attempted a double suicide, don’t you? But let me tell you the truth. After the final battle in ’95, your mother attempted to rejoin UCAT with the Georgius she had in her possession. And when she did…”
Sayama felt his eyebrows rise sharply.
And then Hajji’s voice reverberated through his entire body.
“The Army was still not completely unified at the time and a radical group attacked her. From what I hear, she protected her child from a blade by placing Georgius’s case on top of herself and covering her child with her own body the entire time. She was killed, but UCAT arrived in time to protect her child.”
He smiled bitterly.
“They could not make the incident public, they had failed to protect her, and the rescued child must have passed out and did not remember the crucial part, so UCAT went with the police’s conclusion and announced that Sayama Yume had attempted a double suicide with her child.”
A groan escaped Sayama’s clenched teeth.
Hajji’s laughter escaped the speakers.
“Ha ha! But do not worry, Mikoto. I have already taken revenge for you in accordance with our military regulations. I eliminated the criminals. Will you thank me? Hm? And it is an interesting incident. After all, your mother saved you, but you misunderstood that act and have hated her ever since. Ha ha! Truly fitting for the villain of a false world…for a false villain! Even your hatred is false! Your own petty misunderstanding has created who you are today!!”
Sayama heard something like a small stone breaking.
He knew what it was and Kazami was looking at it wide-eyed.
“Sayama, your tooth!”
He had clenched his teeth so hard that the right canine had broken. The flavor of blood flowed into his mouth and…
He fell to his knees and collapsed to the floor with his hand on the left side of his chest.
Baku frantically jumped down and poked at his collapsed cheek with his front paw, but he felt no pain from any of that.
All of the pain was in his chest.
The word pain itself filled him and instantly dyed his mind in darkness.
Kazami rushed over to Sayama after he fell face down.
She shook him, but his tightly shut eyes would not open.
…This isn’t good.
The word panic appeared in her mind as Hajji’s loud laughter filled her ears.
“Well, Low-Gear!? Do you see your crimes now? Not only are you an inferior copy of Top-Gear, but you destroyed the other Gears, destroyed Top-Gear which is the ‘real’ version of yourselves and the mother of us all, and even caused a great earthquake in your own world!!”
His laughter rang through the air.
“All of you in the Gear reservations, did you hear the truth Low-Gear has been hiding from you? You should have left your Gear’s concepts with another Gear! In that Gear, the peoples of all Gears could have lived without the negative pain found here. But the fakes were so concerned with their own lives that they broke the treaty they themselves had formulated, destroyed their alternate selves, and damaged their own Gear. …And then they hid it all!!”
He raised his voice.
“What is the Leviathan Road really!? Are they not negotiating for ex post facto approval of their actions while hiding their true crimes!? The activation of the negative concepts and everything else is the direct result of their destruction of Top-Gear ten years ago! And they have failed to reveal that fact while negotiating as the supposed victors of the Concept War! And all while using some ignorant fools as their negotiators!!”
The black army cheered on the moonlit runway.
They gave roars of admiration and earnest desire.
“You are the worst Gear that killed your other selves, destroyed the greatest world, caused a disaster in your own world, and covered it all up for your own safety!”
The black army clashed with and pushed back the white army.
“We of the Army will be destroyed here along with you! And we will place Top-Gear’s survivors as the negotiators afterwards.”
Hearing that black soldier, a white soldier trembled and shouted back.
“Are you trying to steal this world!?”
“Steal it? No. We’re returning it. Returning it to the children of Top-Gear who can inherit all of the Gears. …Listen. This may be the only land left, but the inheritors still live. That’s why we’ll die here, why you’ll die here, and why this world will be given to its rightful owners. It will be given to the children of the true world who we have raised for the past ten years!!”
To support the shouting black army, Shino held her philosopher’s stone next to the forest.
She closed her eyes.
She wrinkled her brow and the white army’s movements shrank while the black army’s momentum grew.
The bloody black soldiers gave a long war cry as they cut down the white army with their full strength.
“Oh, that was such a rich world and the people were all so kind. And I believed them. They said they would be the survivors of the Concept War and that the peoples of all Gears – including Low-Gear – could live in their world without worrying about concepts. …I truly believed that!!”
“But…but then all of you…!!”
As they collided, a few of the black scattered while a great number of the white scattered.
Their cries of anger roared through the night sky.
But someone responded to that.
It was a quiet voice. It was a trembling girl’s voice.
It was Shinjou’s voice.
Her awkward words sounded like she had completely forgotten a battle was underway.
She took a breath and her voice was emitted by all of the communicators.
“I don’t want that.”
At the end of the long corridor, Shinjou lowered her head and spoke while pressing the talk button on the communication terminal.
“No matter what anyone says, I don’t want that.”
She shook her head and inhaled.
“I don’t know anything about that.”
“That is a child’s reasoning, Shinjou. Let me tell you something. …It’s true your mother married a Top-Gear man and betrayed Low-Gear, but she must have been one hell of a traitorous woman. She was the one that informed us that Top-Gear was working at creating the negative concepts.”
“She used a method Top-Gear didn’t know about to inform Sayama Asagi in a letter. She said that they might become enemies, but that they should both do their best.”
Itaru took a breath before continuing.
“Your mother manipulated both Low-Gear and Top-Gear, Shinjou.”
She did not nod.
She finally nodded, hung her head a little, and held Ex-St in her arms.
“What is fine, Shinjou?”
“Well.,” she said. “My mom didn’t write her true feelings in her letters. Not in those letters she wrote with a weak smile on her face. …But the people she cared about would have known that and they would have known she was the kind of person to actually smile when she was happy!”
“Even if that’s what the letter said, the people she cared about would have understood! They would have known she was giving a weak smile of resignation!!”
She shouted out, but Hajji roared back at her. It was a blunt rejection.
“That is an assumption!!”
He slammed the bottom of his spear against the floor as if to say he knew what Shinjou Yukio had been thinking.
The loud sound caused Shinjou’s withdrawn body to tremble and he opened his mouth to speak.
Miyako crossed her arms in front of the underground communicator.
Gyes and the Moirai watched her silently frowning.
But she listened to Hajji’s words.
She listened to his shout of rejection.
“Shinjou Yukio thought she could reconcile Top-Gear and Low-Gear’s differences, but she lost everything. Once Low-Gear realized Top-Gear was growing stronger with her concept creation, they made a preemptive strike! As the representative of those who were destroyed, it is my duty to destroy the positive concepts held by UCAT and rid the world of the negative concepts!”
But his next words were spoken in an entirely different tone of voice.
It was a quiet, almost soothing, and yet powerful tone.
“Listen, Shinjou. I don’t think your mother would have wanted this. Hm?”
Miyako reacted to that.
She bit through the chocolate cigarette in her mouth.
“Shinjou,” she said while turning her wrinkled brow up toward the ceiling. “Say it. Tell him. That idiot thinks he knows someone because he’s known them for a long time, but tell him you can get to know someone more than enough even in a very short time.”
She took a breath.
“Show what you’re made of and tell him!!”
Shinjou raised her head at Hajji’s words.
She glared at him with her eyebrows slightly raised and he shrugged his shoulders.
“How about it, Shinjou? Will you stop fighting for your mother’s sake?”
“No,” she said clearly. “Because I know my mom.”
Hajji frowned slightly. It was a look of pity.
“I see. But how much do you actually know her? All you saw were some old records, right? You don’t have a single memory of actually speaking with her, do you? What do you have besides assumptions?”
“B-but she was always trying to look strong while hiding who she really was!”
“Just like I used to!!”
She took a powerful breath and spoke toward the floor.
“Is an adult who says harsh things right by default? Is the most powerful Gear right by default? Is the real one right by default? Is the weaker one that managed to win wrong by default? Is the one that tried to deceive someone wrong by default? Are they really? And if so…is it wrong to survive?”
Her voice rose to a shout.
“If so, has everything I’ve been thankful for been wrong!?”
“Oh?” Hajji responded from the other end of the corridor with his spear on his shoulder. “That just sounds like a girl on the side of evil refusing to admit she was wrong. …After all, the crimes of this Gear are an original sin they have borne since before their birth. They merely expanded that intrinsic sin ten years ago.”
“Then I’m fine with being wrong. I’m fine with looking wrong to others. We’ll work to do something about ourselves and make ourselves right. We’ll lie and, but as we keep doing that, we’ll gain forgiveness bit by bit, confess our wrongdoings bit by bit, and better ourselves bit by bit.”
“That is why we have villains in this world!!”
She took a breath and spoke even louder.
“Sayama-kun, can you hear me? Right now, I want this world’s righteousness. I want a righteousness that doesn’t exist yet. So you become the villain. You play the part of the evil that does exist and guide us into the future I want!!”
In the headquarters, Kazami listened to Shinjou while trying to shake Sayama awake.
“Sayama! Listen! Shinjou’s calling for you!”
But he must have been unconscious because he did not move.
Regardless, she continued shouting to him.
She heard Shinjou’s voice.
She began with an exhausted and bitter laugh.
“Sayama-kun, you’ll come for me, won’t you? Thank you. …But you’re probably exhausted, so I’ll fight for now. I’ll work in place of the villain, so come here as soon as you can.”
“Sayama! Wake up… Wake up already! Shinjou’s asking for your help!”
“And you know what, Sayama-kun?”
Kazami thought to herself as she listened to Shinjou.
…There’s no point in me hearing this!
She practically squeezed Sayama as she shook him, but his pale face remained motionless.
And she heard Shinjou’s quiet voice.
“Um, Sayama-kun? I learned something while listening to this Hajji person. …It’s about something long ago and about something I just told you about yesterday.”
She paused for another “um” before continuing.
“It’s about right after I lost my memories and was taken in by UCAT.”
She took a breath and seemed to hesitate briefly.
“Itaru-san told me someone would come for me someday, but no one ever came for me and I cried and cried. That was nine years ago. …And you know who it was who was supposed to come for me?”
Kazami shouted his name just as Shinjou gave her answer.
“It must have been you and your mother! Do you remember what you told me a long time ago? When your mother took you out that last time…”
Kazami made sure to carve Shinjou’s words into her heart.
“She said you were going to meet someone important. …That’s what she told you when you left, wasn’t it? So…I might be wrong, but I still believe it. So come meet me. I’ve been waiting for you to come for me. …I’ve been waiting for nine years!! So…”
“So I’ll call for you! I’ll call the name of my precious villain!!”
Kazami raised her fist just as Shinjou gave her cry.
A breath later, a new voice came from every communicator connected to UCAT.
It was a boy’s voice.
“Did you call for me?”
He took a deep breath before continuing.
“You called for me, didn’t you? Thank you, Shinjou-kun.”
The owner of the voice slowly took another breath.
He took two breaths and spoke slowly as if savoring his words.
“And now that you have called my name, I will race to your side, Shinjou-kun.”
Shinjou stared wide-eyed at the corridor terminal, but she soon smiled.
She nodded and tears drops from the corners of her eyes.
“Will you come for me, Sayama-kun?”
“Yes, I will.”
Sayama’s voice answered in confirmation.
“Of course I will make my way to you. And…I am sorry, Shinjou-kun. It is my fault that you were left alone for those nine years.”
He continued speaking from there.
“Are you listening?” he began. “Are you trying to fight right now, Shinjou-kun?”
“I am,” she said before taking a strong breath.
She immediately let out the breath and tightened her grip on the cannon in her left arm.
“That Hajji guy is on the other end of the corridor.”
“Is that so?” he asked. “Then, Shinjou-kun.”
“Two minutes. Please wait just two minutes.”
In the headquarters, that boy trembled as he stood in front of the monitors that no longer displayed anything.
He placed his left hand on a terminal to support his shaking body and placed his right hand on his chest.
“Yes, just two more minutes.”
He slowly inhaled and sent more words to that girl.
“Just two more minutes. I will reach you after a total of nine years and two minutes, so keep fighting until then. If you do…”
“In two minutes, I will absolutely, certainly be there to protect you.”
Shinjou smiled bitterly at what she heard.
He hasn’t changed, she thought as she said one last thing.
“You can push yourself.”
She removed her hand from the terminal’s talk button.
She faced forward and at Hajji down the corridor.
The metal spear was already right in front of her.
She back-stepped in surprise, but Hajji pursued with spear in hand.
“Two minutes? I’m not waiting that long. No.”
He stepped forward as he spoke.
“After all, I have not been waiting nine years. I have been waiting ten years for this day.”
Resignation filled his voice as he thrust the spear forward.
Shinjou did not have time to avoid it, but…
…I’ll do something!
She only had to last two minutes.
“I’ll do something!!”
Just as she raised her voice and tried to think of something, she saw someone’s back move between her and Hajji.
It was Ooshiro Itaru’s back.
“Hey, Sf. Your master’s about to be injured. Aren’t you going to stop it?”
“Tes,” replied Sf’s voice. “Because this is what you want.”
A moment later, Itaru’s back shook as Hajji’s spear blade struck him.
She shouted to Itaru as he crumbled to the ground with the color red staining his chest.
Hajji took a step back to put some distance between them and Sf ran forward to support Itaru.
Shinjou gasped and saw a bitter smile on Itaru’s lips, so she frowned.
“Why? Why!? Why would you do that, Itaru-san!?”
“You want to know?”
“O-of course I do!”
“Then I won’t tell you.”
He spoke forcefully, but the bitterness left his smile. This was a smile Shinjou had never seen him make.
He then doubled over and coughed up quite a lot of blood.
It was too much to contain in his hands.
The red color covered Sf’s apron, but she said nothing, held his shoulders, and pulled him back.
She then looked up at Hajji with a sharp gaze.
“Do not worry about my master. Please continue.”
“That’s right. Yes. …And I am satisfied that I was able to defeat one of Top-Gear’s destroyers.”
Immediately after he spoke, Sf held her right hand out toward Hajji and produced a handgun.
She gave the man an expressionless look past the gun.
“I have determined that comment is not what my master desires. …He himself desired to receive your attack and protect Shinjou-sama, but he does not wish to be dishonored by you. Tes?”
“I will answer with ‘tes’, proud automaton.”
Sf bowed and made the gun vanish with a wave of her hand.
She glanced over at Shinjou and pulled Itaru’s unmoving body over to the stairs.
She took a breath.
“One minute and forty-five seconds to go. …Please forgive us for taking up so much of your time.”
Hajji reacted to her words by laughing.
He showed his teeth as he laughed in resignation.
“A wonderful job buying some time. But Shinjou, I’m sorry to say it doesn’t look like you are going to last the remaining minute and forty seconds, does it?”
He emphasized his question with a “hm?” as Shinjou raised Ex-St.
But an even more obvious answer came from beyond Hajji.
That answer came in the form of a person located far away.
He was just stepping down from the distant staircase.
It was not Sayama. The person who had arrived too soon was a large man whose white armored uniform was in tatters.
He was covered in blood and unsteady on his feet.
“Sarv… You’re still alive?”
“Sarv is dead. Abram still lives. That is all there is to it.”
Abram looked to Shinjou and nodded.
“Shinjou, fall back to the metal door behind you. And Hajji, will you help me buy some time? Or does 9th-Gear’s general prefer to run from an injured opponent?”
Hajji snorted and turned to Abram.
Shinjou stepped back, but Hajji was no longer focused on her. He spoke to Abram.
“Why do you support this world so much? Hm?”
“That is a simple matter.”
Abram used his shaking hands to hold his metal spear under his arm.
He stared straight at Hajji with his one eye and twisted his lips up into a smile.
“Yes, a very simple matter. Because the villain will be here in another minute and a half.”
“Do you really think he can make it here? The Army has been positioned all along the way here.”
“Anyone can answer that question. …Anyone from Low-Gear anyway.”
Abram took in a breath and puffed out his chest.
“Attention, all UCAT personnel!!”
Abram’s voice filled the sky, the building, the ground, and everywhere else.
“The fake field operations director of this fake world has an announcement!!”
The pilot of the blue and white mechanical dragon in the sky listened to the voice while quickly rotating out of the way of an attack.
“You may not believe me and you may want to give up on this world, but…”
The pilot of the black god of war made repeated sword strikes in the forest and listened to the voice coming from the communicator in the machine’s head.
“Just a minute and a half more! Please keep fighting for another minute and a half!”
The wielder of a large white sword defended from the ground and listened to the voice coming from the building.
“After that, the villain will begin the negotiations! He will determine whether those of us on the side of evil should be destroyed!!”
The voice rang out.
“So don’t give up until then!!”
As Kazami heard the voice in the corridor, she looked to Sayama who ran alongside her.
He was panting and holding his chest, but the sweating had stopped and his complexion had improved.
Baku was swaying happily on his head.
But Kazami looked to Sayama’s head itself.
“Are you okay?”
He glared back at her.
“Is that anything to say after punching someone? What if the blow ends up making me go crazy?”
“In your case, I think it would make you go normal.”
She laughed quietly and pulled a cellphone from her pocket.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Hm? Emailing a friend. I didn’t get back to my dorm yesterday, so I didn’t set the machine to record the documentary my dad appears in. It’s called ‘The Zoo’s Grand Panda Breeding’. …Have you heard about it? It’s about a panda couple named Lew-Lew and Ewd-Ewd.”
“Won’t your father record that? It is his job after all.”
“My dad’s hopeless. He claims recording it will steal his soul.”
“Thank you for telling me about that odd rule.”
Meanwhile, Kazami decided to send an email home while she was at it.
She sent “I’ll be back home tomorrow”.
It’s not that I’ll “probably be back”. I will be back, she thought. I’ll work to make sure I get back.
I kind of feel like talking with them, so maybe I should bring Kaku with me and spend the night.
With that thought, she put her phone back in her pocket and looked over at Sayama.
She felt like laughing when she saw him running in his suit, so she did.
“I never thought I’d end up running alongside you.”
“It is an unexpected turn of events for me as well, but this is not the first time. We did the same in the battle with 1st-Gear. And Kazami, I know it is a little late to repeat myself, but can I say much the same thing I did back then?”
Kazami nodded as she spotted the reason for his comment up ahead.
Seeing her nod, he did the same thing as back then.
He lowered down and launched his body forward.
And without turning back toward her, he spoke.
“Kazami. As you are now, I can leave this to you.”
A woman stood in their path. The large woman wore a white combat coat.
She looked to Kazami instead of Sayama.
“Oh? I was waiting for the Izumo descendant, but this is interesting too. I’ve heard all about the girl named Kazami who bears G-Sp2, the weapon with our Concept Core sealed inside.”
Sayama cut past her, but she ignored him and swung her arm.
“I am Jord of 10th-Gear, I am Betrayed Expectations Jord, and I am Izumo Kaku’s grandmother. …How about you take me on? You wield our world itself, so I need to make sure you have the necessary resolve.”
Kazami’s eyebrows rose as she stopped and faced Jord.
“Is that so? But I’m sorry. Kaku doesn’t talk much about the 10th reservation, so I’ve never heard of you. Also, I was just accepted by my stupid underclassman, so I’m feeling really embarrassed and feel like going on a rampage to hide it. …I’m not going to hold back, so I hope you have some resolve too.”
Jord narrowed her eyes.
“Ho ho. Well said. Well said indeed. You’re a good girl. I haven’t met a good girl like you in a while. …I can’t help but want to see you cry.”
She swung her arms and machineguns slid out of her sleeves and into her hands.
She held the grips just as Kazami raised her wings and held up G-Sp2.
They fired and charged in simultaneously.
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