Owari no Chronicle:Volume11 Chapter 35
Chapter 35: Word of Expectation
White wings and bullets intersected in a white corridor.
The bearer of the wings, Kazami, was no longer running.
Driven on by and ducking below the stream of bullets, she quickly glided through the air and performed rotating acrobatics.
She advanced swiftly and spun around as if flying.
She took instant leaps using the acceleration of her wings.
She turned by rotating around the weight of her spear.
Those two methods allowed her to practically fly through the narrow corridor.
She moved quickly, but she moved in perfect curves.
Even when she changed direction, rotated around Jord, attacked, or reached a wall, she did not slow.
She moved left, right, front, back, up, and down. She moved nimbly back and forth the corridor like a constantly swinging pendulum.
She maintained her speed and none of her movements were wasted. But…
“My attacks aren’t reaching her!?”
She fired while wrapped in wind, but none of the shots affected Jord.
Jord’s defenses went beyond simply seeming like nothing was happening.
…There really is nothing happening to her!?
Her body did not waver in the slightest and she did not brace for impact.
She remained perfectly casual.
Kazami attacked the thinner parts of her clothing and even her exposed face or head, but none of it worked.
Thinking this was impossible, she reached into the pouch at her waist and pulled out the blue sphere that had been Ikkou.
—Attack power is infinite.
Trusting in the voice she heard, Kazami attacked Jord from behind again. But…
“That isn’t gonna work.”
Jord moved a thick arm behind her and the machinegun it held spewed bullets.
Pursued by the sound of the bullets hitting the wall, Kazami flew backwards to put some distance between them.
She pulled up her legs and raised her speed to distance herself as much as possible from the approaching bullets.
She managed to escape the movements of Jord’s arm and gun.
She looked up and saw Jord still had her back turned.
Viewing that as a sign of confidence, Kazami leaped down the center of the corridor and rotated around using G-Sp2.
She made a U-turn.
This brought her back on a path toward Jord and she asked G-Sp2 a question.
“What do you think happened there?”
“I don’t know.”
I guess you wouldn’t, she thought. What is this defense of hers?
…It’s different from Kaku’s.
Izumo’s could be described as “sturdiness”, but Jord’s was more like an outright “negation”.
It was simply too powerful.
…Is that because she’s a 10th god?
She had heard about a Gear called Top-Gear just a moment ago, but ignoring that one, Jord belonged to the highest of the eleven Gears. It would make sense for her to have powerful conceptual defenses.
But all of the concepts and concept texts Kazami was familiar with had a single effect.
This gave them a great functional advantage, but they always had some kind of weakness.
In that case, she thought as the setup for her denial while raising her wings for a midair dash.
…Am I done for if I can’t figure out her concept?
Repeated attacks, attacks from behind, and even infinite attack power were no use.
She realized this all came down to knowing her opponent.
And she flew.
By the time she let out a short breath, she had already passed by Jord’s back on the right.
The woman rotated her right arm down to bring it back up behind her.
The bullets tore through the floor and then toward Kazami.
But her rising arm was stopped by her shoulder blade, so she could not bring it all the way up.
Kazami kicked off the air and took a safe route over Jord.
That was when Jord made her next move.
She raised her left arm over her shoulder to intercept Kazami.
But instead of firing the rifle at Kazami, the bullets tore into the air to her upper right.
Kazami’s path over Jord’s back would take her through the path of the bullets. Meanwhile, Jord’s right arm shot up.
And more bullets tore into the air to her upper left.
Gunfire and bullets crossed and Kazami’s path was sealed off by an X of bullets.
But she continued flying regardless.
She twisted her body so she was facing up. She thrust her navel toward the heavens to slip above the crossing bullets with a Fosbury Flop.
The bullets grazed her wings and light scattered from them.
But she cleared them.
She instantly twisted further to take an upside-down position and immediately launched an attack.
Even as she moved away, three strikes shot out of G-Sp2.
By making the final blast especially strong, she launched herself away from Jord.
After feeling and hearing all three hit, she looked over at Jord, hoping to find some clue to solving the mystery.
She learned three things.
After passing by, Kazami landed five meters from Jord.
She spun to face Jord and landed in a crouching start.
She lifted her hips higher than her shoulders and raised her wings while recalling that one instant.
She had confirmed three things.
First, Jord had turned toward her and smiled as she passed by.
Second, there was a fresh scratch on Jord’s cheek.
And third, there was a small wrinkle in the corner of Jord’s eyes.
First, Jord’s smile had been a challenge to figure out the secret behind her defenses.
Second, Jord had been injured for some reason.
And third, Jord worked to look younger in addition to her natural long lifespan.
The second fact was especially meaningful.
…She doesn’t have perfect defenses.
Something had given Jord that slight injury, so Kazami could damage her if she used the same method.
But what had caused that injury?
And as she thought about that method and completed her crouching start, she also realized she could not let her guard down with Jord.
The third fact she had noticed was proof of that.
“You still try to look young at your age?”
Kazami gathered strength in her shoulder blades which controlled the wings.
“You think you’re tricking everyone else, don’t you!?”
She flew as she shouted.
The flapping of her wings extended her body, her legs moved her body forward, and speed reached her soon thereafter.
She seemed to move in fast-forward as she arrived above Jord with her spear raised overhead.
But she could not swing the spear down toward the two rifles raised from below.
And as Jord raised her arms and bent her back, she quickly crossed her arms in an X-shape.
On top of that, she rotated on the spot.
Her heels sounded on the ground as she turned to the right and fully covered the area directly above herself.
There was no way for Kazami to attack.
She swallowed the rest of her curse and cut through the ceiling with her raised spear tip. She then moved away to put some distance between them.
She flew straight for the floor and landed.
She forcibly flipped her body around and faced Jord again.
She was not about to leave her back to the woman or show any other opening.
She kept a low stance. Her body was almost parallel with the floor and her chest nearly touched her shadow.
Her bangs swayed with the momentum of her turn, but she had settled into her stance before they swayed back.
It was an abnormally low crouching start.
She moved her right leg far back and pulled her left leg up next to her chest.
She spread her arms to the sides with the spear tip held backwards in her right hand.
Her wings were spread upwards.
She could launch herself at any moment and she only needed a single breath to gather her strength.
And so she inhaled.
She took in a single breath and stopped.
A moment later…
She shot forward and up.
There was not much she could do in so short a time.
She rotated forward while tightly holding the backwards-facing spear.
She used all of her strength to perform a forward flip and carried the spear like a shoulder throw.
The spear tore into the ceiling and the sound of destruction exploded out.
But the attack did not hit Jord. As Kazami swung the spear downwards, it proved too short and swished through the empty air above the woman’s head.
So Jord laughed.
“You’re never going to hit if you run on pure momentum.”
“This worked just fine!”
Kazami was not looking at Jord; she was looking at the ceiling.
She had torn a straight line through that ceiling and she had a single reason for doing so.
“The collapse of the ceiling will hit you, won’t it!?”
Before, Kazami had seen a scrape on Jord’s cheek.
It had likely come from a flying fragment of the surrounding walls or ceiling.
Jord could not be damaged by attacks made with weapons.
…So won’t she be damaged by an attack from something other than a weapon!?
While flying over Jord’s head, she had used her raised spear tip to make a shallow cut through the ceiling.
From there, only a single powerful strike was needed.
“Break loose and cascade down, ceiling!!”
She smashed the ceiling and instantly flew past Jord.
First, the ceiling panels broke apart. Next, it was the plumbing and wiring.
But above that was the great pressure of the concrete surrounding the underground floor.
An artificial stone wall two to three meters thick filled the area above the ceiling.
G-Sp2’s cutting power had slice through that.
“I did my job.”
That message appeared on its console just as a rapid wind tore through the ceiling.
The ceiling exploded.
The sound of splitting stone continued on and on as the building materials came crashing down. Dust surrounded them while sparks and pebbles rained down, but the true threat came afterwards.
“Fall, chunks of rock!!”
Just as Kazami shouted from the air, a great piece of concrete crashed down into the corridor.
It was far from being small and far from being alone. More and more gray chunks several meters across fell to the floor and easily stabbed into or broke that floor.
But Kazami did not care.
She spread her wings, forcibly decelerated, and landed on her right tiptoe.
As soon as her foot reached the ground, she heard an especially large piece of rock fall behind her.
It was a block of the concrete that surrounded the corridor and that concrete was about three meters thick. She did not know the size of the piece that had broken off and fallen, but the sound suggested it weighed more than a ton.
Even if Jord had divine protection like Izumo’s, she would not escape something like that unharmed.
Kazami turned back toward the collapse.
Dust rose below the hole covering several meters of the ceiling.
She saw smoke spreading out with a sound much like sand, but she kept herself ducked low.
She saw a form appear within that smoke.
“It can’t be.”
She took a defensive stance, but quickly realized it was only a piece of concrete two meters tall.
At the very least, Jord was not visible from here.
Kazami breathed a sigh of relief.
She lowered G-Sp2 in her right hand.
And she finally brought her left hand to her forehead. While she was at it, she also frowned.
“I guess that was Kaku’s grandma. Maybe I went a little overboard.”
What should I do about this? she wondered while looking up at the giant pieces of stone with a sigh.
That was when she heard a voice.
It was Jord’s voice.
Before Kazami could stiffen, Jord stepped casually out from behind the especially large piece of concrete. Not only that…
“You’re completely unharmed!? Did it not hit you!?”
“Don’t be stupid. Of course it hit me. Do you really think I can avoid every last one of these with so many of them falling at once? A woman needs to be solid. …At least solid enough to repel something like this.”
Kazami looked to the giant stones filling the corridor and realized Jord was telling the truth. Some of them had directly hit her.
But Jord was completely unharmed. Her clothes, face, and hair were untouched.
Not only was she unhurt, she did not have a single stain on her.
Kazami gasped and Jord’s expression changed when she saw that surprise.
She smiled so Kazami could see.
“You thought I couldn’t be hurt by weapons, did you? It’s really too bad. You were so close.”
Jord moved both her hands, but she was not holding a weapon in either one. Instead…
“Oh, c’mon. Where are you even looking? The floor’s what matters.”
Kazami looked down and saw two grenades rolling down at her feet.
Not good, she thought just as she realized what Jord’s concept was.
…Her concept is…
A moment later, a large explosion shook the corridor.
A twelve square meter room had light purple carpet on the floor and two sofas facing each other across a table. A large TV and a bookcase filled with books were by the wall.
The room could be seen as a living room or a parlor.
Three people sat in the room: a married couple and a man.
The husband picked up a cup from the table and held it out toward the man sitting across from him.
“Izumo-san, please drink some. My wife’s tea really is delicious.”
“Hm? Oh, sorry. I know I’m stopping by at a ridiculous hour and, well, I thought I would just say hi real quick. But…how should I put this? Sorry for the trouble, Kazami-san.”
Izumo Retsu took the white cup and brought it to his mouth.
Just as he took a sip, Kazami’s father gave a straight-faced comment.
“It’s actually super sugary.”
Retsu began to choke, but he may have been too stubborn to just spit it out because he looked away and held a handkerchief to his mouth.
After about three seconds, he forced it down.
“Khahhh! I won!”
“Well done. I should have expected that from you, Izumo-san.”
Kazami’s father applauded and sounded truly impressed, but Retsu sounded out of breath when he replied.
“Well, sorry you had to see that. …But why would you give me that?”
“You know how you give saltwater to an unwanted guest? Well, you’re the opposite, so I decided to take the opposite approach.”
“Sorry about that. There is no stopping my husband once he sets his mind to something like this.”
“Y-yes, I can tell from the TV shows he makes. Like…what was it? That five-minute show that airs every morning where you show up at politicians’ houses unannounced. It was ‘What Kind of Screams do People Make When You Jab a Finger in Their Ass?’, wasn’t it?”
“Oh, Ass Scream? Lately, the higher ups have been pressuring us about editing it a little, but the viewers love it because they get to hear the real voices of the politicians. That’s why I was thinking of visiting the one’s pressuring us starting tomorrow. That way, we can hear their true voices.”
Kazami’s father lifted his right hand and his wife pulled some cigarettes from below the table.
He took one and turned to Retsu.
“Mind if I smoke?”
“Go right ahead.”
“Then I will.”
He pulled a completely different cigarette from below the table and lit it. This one was as thick as his arm.
“Ahhh. …You don’t seem surprised, Izumo-san. This disturbs most people.”
“Well… To be honest, I’ve gradually grown to enjoy all this.”
The married couple exchanged high fives and then turned back to Retsu.
“Sorry. To be honest, Chisato and Kaku-kun were here last night.”
“Oh? Both of them were? That I didn’t know.”
“You’re lying about that, aren’t you?”
Retsu was left speechless when Kazami’s father leaned forward and pointed at him.
But the other man only leaned further forward, placed his open hand next to his mouth, and whispered to Retsu.
“I just wanted to say that.”
He straightened back up and smiled. Retsu smiled bitterly and drank some of the sugary tea.
“Is this how you control people in your projects?”
“I’m nothing special. …I only got into it because I like to stand out and I like to gossip. Do you know what my debut job was?”
“Wasn’t it managing your wife who was your classmate?”
He grabbed a remote control from the table.
It belonged to the video player and he played a recording on the TV.
“When I was in college, a crime documentary I made and sent in was actually used. It was about the murders of the couple who ran a local set lunch store.”
A staticky video of a winter street appeared on the screen. A reporter wearing glasses walked next to the fence of a large house. His expression was terribly serious, but…
“Ha ha. Why do I have an afro?”
“Kazami-san, I thought you didn’t record your work?”
“The me in this tape can die for all I care. I followed the case purely out of curiosity, my viewpoint got distorted, and I never got anywhere near the truth. This is a shame I need to leave a record of. And…”
He stared at the screen.
“The couple who ran that store had a strong connection to IAI. And not just a connection. For some reason, they were treated like employees. They even had company IDs. But their daughter didn’t know and neither did anyone else. If anyone did…and this is just my instinct talking…”
The TV displayed a house across from a ramen shop.
“It would have been the old man named Sayama who lived in this house. He also had a connection to IAI for some reason.”
“What if I knew the answer to all that? I am IAI itself, after all.”
Kazami’s father turned toward Retsu.
He looked directly at the other man without saying a word. He stared at the slight smile on Retsu’s face.
Afterwards, Kazami’s father suddenly smiled as well and shrugged.
“That’s too boring. And not fair on my part. Our connection comes from my Chisato’s explosion of pheromones as such an intensely wonderful girl, but I would be using her feelings if I used that connection to get an answer out of you.”
“Oh, then my apologies.”
“No need to apologize. This just shows how great my daughter is.”
“I’m jealous of how well your family gets along. I really am. Mine is so cement-like.”
Kazami’s father laughed at that.
“C’mon, Kaku-kun’s a good boy! After all, the only thing on his mind is letting my wife and me see a grandchild as soon as possible.”
“Ha ha ha. That idiot really is a positive-minded sexual criminal, isn’t he?”
“But what’s wrong with being honest about yourself? …You know my wife used to sing, right? It was apparently brought up a lot in school when Chisato was a kid, so she never sings in front of us. …The things parents most want to see are what the kids tend to keep between themselves.”
He scratched his head and gave a bitter smile.
“Well, for how strong-willed our daughter is, she tends to withdraw into herself a lot.”
“That’s part of being a good girl. Only if they know their own worth, though.”
“I’m not so sure she does. …Two years ago, she apparently hurt some other girl’s leg while competing for a regular spot in the club. It was the naginata club. And when I asked her why, she said she had felt she didn’t belong in that regular spot, so she swung in a random direction to create an opening and lose. But her opponent charged right in at that random direction. What do you think of that?”
Retsu crossed his arms at the question.
After a while, he gave a troubled smile with lowered eyebrows.
“She must have thought she was the only one in the wrong there. …But what did you tell her?”
“I told her only to attack when she really would hit. …And she’s done a good job of following that. I think she instinctually knows she’ll only hurt herself if she does anything she isn’t fully committed to.”
Retsu laughed and crossed his arms again.
“What a wonderfully energetic girl. My son has a pretty weak body and it seems my wife had a lot of trouble because of it.”
“Yes, but he seems to have gotten a strong mind out of it. He’s managed to pull Chisato along with him and allowed her to enjoy her life.”
Kazami’s father continued from there.
“Earlier, she must have solved some trouble she was having at work…no, in her life. She sent an email saying she would be here tomorrow. …Will you stop by too, Retsu-san?”
“No, I should be far too busy at work tomorrow.”
“Is that so?” Kazami’s father smiled and looked to Retsu. “But Chisato really is enjoying her life with Kaku-kun. She still worries about things, but she has someone to discuss it with. This is what you call true entertainment! Isn’t that right?”
He showed off his teeth in a smile and raised his cup for a toast.
“She’s probably enjoying herself now too. She must be on a stage she feels she can perform on.”
Dust ran through the corridor for the second time.
It was made by Jord who had been covered in the first wave of dust from the ceiling.
The explosion from her grenades had destroyed the floor and smashed the walls.
The building materials were terribly damaged. It looked like too much damage even for grenades.
“Well, she did up their attack power to infinite.”
Jord’s hair blew in a wind mixed with waves of smoke. She sighed and looked up.
“Is this all the bearer of 10th-Gear’s Concept Core can do? …How boring.”
She spat out a “keh” of disappointment toward the floor and took a step forward.
She had no active interest in what the Army was doing, but she felt she should put in some more work since she had come to help.
Hajji should have just about reached the Concept Cores by this point.
She had blown away G-Sp2’s bearer, so she needed to retrieve 10th’s Concept Core from within.
The Concept Core of 10th-Gear was the source of the world tree’s power and of the gods’ power. The 10th-Gear reservation was controlled by an inferior copy, but Jord was certain it would be a richer place with the real thing.
Hajji would probably tell her to hand it over, but she could always confront him too.
“That’s right. 9th-Gear’s great general versus a member of 10th. What kind of battle would that be? I doubt I would escape completely unharmed.”
At that point, she heard a voice through the spreading smoke.
“You are really full of yourself, aren’t you?”
The voice was accompanied by a visual form.
It was a girl with raised eyebrows, a white spear in hand, and white wings on her back.
Jord frowned and came to a stop as the girl spoke.
“You aren’t like Kaku. He only pretends to think so highly of himself…but you’re different.”
The smoke cleared and scattered to fully reveal her form.
She was five meters away and the white spear had transformed. The stabilizing wing for flying was raised in the back and shimmering heat came from the back end.
But no one rode the spear that had taken its flight form.
Kazami was completely unharmed as she held up the spear, so Jord frowned again.
“Did you use the regeneration of 10th-Gear’s Concept Core?”
“Sorry, but G-Sp2 isn’t that kind to me anymore.”
The girl smiled bitterly with sweat on her brow and she expelled a breath that held some small bit of strength.
“Did you forget? The attack power in here is infinite. Just as your grenades exploded, I used G-Sp2’s short range super acceleration to break the sound barrier.”
“You hit the infinite explosive blast with an infinite shockwave?”
“Yes. They use that method during actual rescues, don’t they?”
Kazami lowered G-Sp2 and shrugged.
“G-Sp2, first form.”
The weapon began its transformation.
Jord frowned as it powered down, but Kazami ignored her and removed the shield from below the spear tip.
The action was awfully calm for a battle and G-Sp2 must have found it odd too.
“Is it over?”
But Jord saw Kazami smile at the weapon’s question.
“No, we’re just about to win.”
Impossible, thought Jord, but G-Sp2 reacted differently.
A “♪” mark appeared on its console. It seemed to unconditionally trust Kazami that they would win.
The girl then began to move.
She mounted the long narrow white shield on her left arm and casually walked over to Jord.
Jord raised her arms to fight back and pulled handguns from her sleeves.
All attack power was made infinite in this space, so there was no point in using larger guns.
Jord took aim and shouted out.
“Do you really think you stand a chance!?”
But her question did not reach its target.
Kazami instantly arrived right in front of her.
Kazami almost looked bored as she tapped her right shoulder a few times with the spear shaft resting there.
“Are you mocking me?” asked Jord. “Do you think that spear can break through my defenses after you shut down its power?”
Kazami did not answer.
Instead, she suddenly looked to the right.
She ignored Jord and looked at the empty wall there.
She was in the middle of a battle, and yet she left herself entirely defenseless.
But just as Jord gasped at the action, Kazami swung G-Sp2 with all her strength. The weapon moved from the girl’s right shoulder and into Jord’s left cheek.
An instant later, Jord realized she had flown to the right and slammed into the wall.
The impact shook the air.
Feeling a solid hit for once, Kazami looked down at her right hand.
She could tell G-Sp2 was also shaking a bit from hitting their opponent.
“It stings,” said the weapon.
“It does,” agreed Kazami as Jord stood from her kneeling position by the wall.
Jord spat a broken tooth to the floor and held her left cheek as she stood.
Her entire body shook with rage.
She already stood powerfully in front of Kazami with her large chest thrust outward.
The handgun had vanished from her right hand and a white shotgun had left her sleeve in its place.
“It’s time you were blown to pieces!!”
Before shouting, raising her weapon, or even speaking, Kazami took action but without gathering her strength.
She spoke to G-Sp2 in her right hand.
“Do you think our attack will hit?”
“I don’t know.”
“Neither do I.”
With a quick snap of the wrist, she swung the shield in her left hand to strike the center of Jord’s gut from below.
The woman doubled over and crashed into the ceiling.
The building materials crumbled as they stopped her. They wrapped around her and refused to let go.
As she hung down embedded in the ceiling, the shotgun fell from her hand and her lips twisted in anguish.
“Yeah, how should I put this? It looks like I’m the one that gets to see you cry.”
Kazami tilted her head at what she was doing and at the result. She also looked up at Jord.
“Your concept isn’t a defensive power. Instead of thinking about what put that scratch on your cheek, I should have been thinking about why it was put there.”
She rested G-Sp2 on her right shoulder and shrugged.
“You’re Betrayed Expectations Jord. You gave the answer yourself. In other words, your concept betrays other people’s expectations. Anytime someone thinks they’ll hit or thinks they’ll do damage, it’s negated.”
She tapped the tip of her right foot against the floor along with her next two words.
“And. So. If I wanted to hit you, I just had to believe it probably wouldn’t hit. The scattering fragments scratched you because they were an attack without a will behind it.”
Jord began to slip out of the ceiling.
She was going to fall, but just before she did, she bared her teeth and asked a question.
“But how can you attack without thinking you’ll hit? A technique like that requires serious mental focus, so why would some random girl know how to-…”
“That’s simple. I did the same thing two years ago. I attacked while thinking it wouldn’t hit and that I would lose…but I did hit. I’ve gone back over that moment countless times over the past two years.”
She smiled a little.
“But now I think I know why my attack unintentionally hit the other girl. She must have been trying to lose as well. That’s why she came straight toward my attack.”
I really am weak, she realized again.
At the time, she had been trying to escape the pressure of being a regular and she had been so focused on herself that she had assumed the other girl’s injury was entirely her fault.
She had not tried to be with someone else.
She thought about that girl who was now in another class and apparently the captain of that club.
If it hadn’t been for that incident, I never would have met Kaku.
…I don’t stand a chance against her now.
“I’m glad I’m so weak.”
She smiled and spoke just as Jord fell from the ceiling.
Seeing that, she closed her eyes.
Now I can’t even see Jord.
She spread G-Sp2 and the shield to either side and began to spin around. She spread her wings and spun and spun like she was dancing. She spun until she was dizzy.
It’d be a miracle to hit her now.
With those words, she held a single expectation in her heart. She thought of the unlikely and she thought of her opponent as she smiled and spoke to Betrayed Expectations Jord.
A moment later, her super swing of G-Sp2 hit something.
It was an unexpected lucky hit.
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