Owari no Chronicle:Volume11 Chapter 38
Chapter 38: Understanding of Goodbye
Our hearts are drifting apart
I have no way of knowing it for sure, though
Mikoku ran through the forest.
She was traveling south. She had made sure she could cross the mountain and reach the road to the south within five minutes if something did happen to Hajji.
The truck for the men controlling the dolls was there and it could be used to evacuate.
The current situation required their help.
She had stayed behind as the rear guard and she was making a wide circle to draw away anyone pursuing them. Her winding route would cause the enemy to lose track of the rest of her comrades.
She simply ran and ran without making a sound on the dried leaves or breaking a single twig underfoot.
…Hajji was defeated?
But even if he had been defeated as the Army’s strength, the Army’s ideals and the rest of their strength remained.
Nevertheless, Mikoku clenched her teeth.
“If only I were more powerful…”
Her job had been to protect Shino and secure their aboveground escape route.
She had done that, but she had also allowed Sayama and Kazami to enter the building.
She knew the others would say it had been an unforeseen situation, that her job had been to protect Shino, and that she had not been asked to keep anyone out.
…But I could not catch up to them.
In their race to the building, she had not caught up to Kazami and Sayama.
Sayama was her fake.
She felt like she had lost to an imitation.
She had been unable to catch up and that imitation had defeated Hajji.
Why? she belatedly asked herself. She had much more training, she likely knew how to handle a weapon better than him, and she was the only one with the ability to regenerate.
But that ability was meaningless when she could not even catch up.
She only knew that the boy had not been looking at her.
Why wasn’t he? she wondered as she ran. Why was he not looking at me?
Why would someone pay no attention to their back on the battlefield?
That voice from behind made her tremble.
It was Shino.
The girl gasped for breath and approached with her white dog.
Mikoku twisted her eyebrows but also breathed a mental sigh of relief.
If the Army’s military might had not gotten through, it meant UCAT survived.
The coming battles would be political ones and individual ones. UCAT would have to settle things with the representatives of the reservations and of Top-Gear as well.
To put it another way, they would have to begin the true Leviathan Road that was held under the whole truth.
And Mikoku could remain with Shino until those battles were over.
…What should I do?
She could be with her, but she would eventually have to say goodbye.
If she mentioned that, Shino would resist it.
But Mikoku could not continue living as they had without saying it.
Not saying it would mean living a lie.
…So would it be better to leave her now?
The evacuation truck was up ahead. They only had to climb this hill and descend on the other side.
Would it be best to take Shino there, put her on the truck, but not get on herself?
After distancing Shino so much, should she start distancing herself?
Shino ran alongside her.
She worked desperately to keep up and her footsteps sounded loudly on the dried leaves.
She turned to face Mikoku and forced a smile.
“I’m glad I can be with you here.”
Mikoku gasped when she heard that.
She had pushed Shino away for so long.
She had told her not to fight, to stop training, and that she was inexperienced, but all of that was better directed at herself today.
Even after all of those outbursts, Shino was trying to remain by her side, so she made up her mind.
…I will be the one to leave her.
She would be able to contact Tatsumi and the others, work separately from them, and try to rid herself of this reliance on Shino.
So she ran with Shino to climb the hill, descend it, and reach the site of their parting.
Once Shino was inside the truck, she would close it from outside and say she was sorry this had to happen now.
…That is what I will do.
That decision lightened her heart.
She thought of the footsteps next to her as a precious thing instead of a natural one and she matched her breathing to Shino’s.
Shino’s breathing was dangerously erratic, but that worry would end here too.
Suddenly, she heard something.
It came from above. Something was falling through the branches and toward them.
She looked up and saw her enemy in the darkness between the branches and leaves.
It was the sword god.
The man named Atsuta had his eyebrows raised.
“You think I’m letting you escape!?”
He rapidly dropped down and swung his Cowling Sword, so Mikoku used all her strength to strike back with her own sword.
She opened her mouth, but it was not a cry of focus that came out. She spoke to the surprised girl next to her.
“Get back, Shino! Hurry up and escape!”
Her shout shook the forest, but she soon heard something unexpected.
It came from Shino’s mouth as she remained stopped next to her.
Mikoku turned to Shino and found the previous fake smile was gone. A natural teary expression had taken its place.
That was the girl’s reaction to Mikoku’s attempt to distance her.
“Why do you push me away!?”
She wanted to say that was not it.
She wanted to say that was not what she had meant. She wanted to say she had meant this battle was dangerous.
…I do not want to push you away!
Shino had to understand, but she was unable to restrain herself in this tense situation. Her emotions had reflexively exploded from her.
But none of this should have been happening here.
Immediately afterwards, three things happened.
First, Atsuta’s dropping Cowling Sword struck Mikoku’s sword.
Second, the force of that impact shattered the worn-down Cowling Sword’s cowling.
And third, the concept contained inside the Cowling Sword was emitted in an uncontrolled state.
A moment later, one of the hills in the mountains of Okutama was destroyed and collapsed.
Countless sounds of impact rang through the moonlit forest.
They were the sounds of black wings striking the trees.
The trees would spin through the air and fall back into the forest. Susamikado flew face up into the trees and created a canyon in the forest.
It stopped after knocking over a few trees, it was covered in damage, and it had several deep cuts in its armor.
White smoke rose from its body and a single footstep sounded about ten meters in front of it.
A white god of war stood taller than the surrounding trees as it stepped on the earth and stone.
A girl stood on the white god of war’s right shoulder.
She wore a long sword on her back and she brushed up her black hair.
“You definitely didn’t make this easy.”
She wiped some sweat from her brow and smiled.
“Despite what happened afterwards, Hajji still said what he needed to say. I wonder what’s happening on the Gear reservations right now. Are they perhaps refusing to speak with UCAT? After all, this completely overturns the basic assumptions of the Leviathan Road.”
She had the white god of war slowly raise its two swords to chest height.
“But your negotiations weren’t a complete waste. You did gain some cultural exchange and trust. But it is now time for atonement…and for our righteousness,” she said. “Not that it matters for you. Our battle will end here.”
Typhon swung down the sword in its left hand.
A moment later, Susamikado shot up into a sitting position.
The blade in its right hand raced up to catch the blade.
But Typhon’s actions remained calm. It stopped its left sword to hold Susamikado’s blade in place and swung down the other sword in its right hand.
Susamikado had no way of blocking this one.
Her words struck Susamikado.
In that instant, Susamikado’s blade extended. No, Susamikado actually extended its swing to the right.
The black blade moved into the forest.
The forest was made up of trees and the blade chopped down one of them.
It intentionally kept the blade diagonal and the tree forcefully bent into a shallow V shape.
The cut top half fell toward Typhon.
“That is useless!!”
Typhon knocked away the falling tree with the left sword it had raised for defense.
It also took a step.
Its right leg stepped forward to swing down its right sword.
The tip of the right blade entered the left side of Susmikado’s chest.
It stabbed in below the collarbone and a bit toward the side.
The horizontally-oriented blade slid into the gap below the collarbone armor.
Without the armor, a god of war was nothing more than a collection of frames and components.
The blade stabbed through to Susamikado’s back as easily as through tofu.
But Typhon did not stop there.
It tried to use the output of its right arm to pull the blade inward. That blade was caught between the collarbone and chest armor, so Typhon was trying to use that parting line as a guide and pull the blade to just below the neck.
“Miki! You’ll regret doing this!!”
Tatsumi ignored Susamikado’s shout.
Typhon pointed the bottom of its right arm toward the sky and moved to make the cut.
In that instant, Tatsumi heard a distant metallic sound. It came from the Japanese UCAT building to her right.
She turned in that direction and saw two enemy gods of war standing on top of the destroyed white building.
One was a silver god of war and the other was a maid god of war created from a mass-produced 3rd model.
Tatsumi saw the silver one lifting the maid one overhead.
The maid god of war was extended horizontally while the silver one was in a javelin-throwing pose.
At the same time, a shout came from the girl in a white armored uniform standing at the silver god of war’s feet.
“Here we go!!”
With that, she swung both her arms to move the silver machine.
It performed a quick throw.
The maid god of war held its arms up in an X-shape as it broke through an explosion of water vapor.
After the sound of the air exploding, the god of war flew toward Typhon like a shell.
It had controlled its inertia and gravity to transform itself into a light shell. If it returned its weight just before impact, it would have the same effects as a massive shell. The impact would likely smash its frame and internal components, but…
“Do you not care!?”
Typhon let go of its right sword and held out its right shoulder.
This was a defensive pose meant to endure the impact.
The moment the impact reached its shoulder, it would catch and eliminate that force.
Catching and negating strength was Tatsumi’s specialty, so she would do exactly that.
She moved Typhon a bit to the left and away from the flying maid god of war. That way, she could redirect the god of war and immediately slice through Susamikado.
Or that was her intention anyway.
Instead, a tone of question escaped her lips.
She then heard a light metallic sound like an empty can falling to the ground.
She saw the maid god of war fly up into the sky.
Strange, she thought. My timing should have been perfect.
But for some reason, the maid god of war had been knocked into the moonlit sky. And like an empty can at that.
She had great confidence in her skill, so this unexpected outcome stopped her.
She only froze for an instant, but at her level, that was enough of an opening.
She heard the answer to her question from up ahead.
“She didn’t remove the inertial control. She knew this wouldn’t work, so she acted as a decoy!!”
There was a reason that plan had successfully surprised Tatsumi and created an opening.
“Miki, you think everyone is attacking you!!”
The black blade raced toward her.
As he piloted Susamikado, Hiba realized his blade had hit nothing.
Typhon had jumped back using its six wings.
If it made a counterattack now, this was all over.
So he let go of the blade and threw it.
Typhon deflected the thrown black blade just as Susamikado’s right hand grabbed the sword stabbing into its chest.
Hiba forcibly pulled the sword from his own shoulder.
He instantly pulled it out, rotated it around, and grabbed the hilt.
He held it forward, but…
The white god of war and Tatsumi had vanished from the split forest.
“Ryuuji-kun, up above!”
He looked up and saw Typhon in the center of the dark sky. It had its back turned, showing him its wings.
From its shoulder, Tatsumi turned just her head to look his way.
“Sorry, but it’s time I left.”
Typhon flew further up into the sky. A white line travelled south and divided the starry sky. That was the contrail produced by Alex’s wings.
Typhon spread its wings as if guided by that line.
Back on the ground, Susamikado stepped forward without moving its left arm. It looked up into the sky like a child being left behind.
“What good is leaving!? The Army lost!”
“Yes, the Army did. But only as a military force and not as Top-Gear.”
Hiba saw a bitter smile in the sky.
“But what about politically? And…what about us as individuals? Can you truly say that you defeated us?”
“The world will no longer forgive you and our war is not over. Even as you attempt to atone, you fakes will have to deal with your real versions from Top-Gear.”
The white wings fully opened.
“Let’s have some fun next time, too. Then, our battle can determine who is real and who is fake with no room for gray.”
Susamikado called out and tried to spread its wings to pursue.
But the left wings refused to move. The second base moved, but the first base refused to stand up from the machine’s back. It only produced the sound of components locking together and whirring fruitlessly.
Meanwhile, Tatsumi faced forward into the night sky containing that white line.
The full power of the six white wings took their owner away in an instant.
All that remained was the noise of the enemy tearing through the air to leave.
Lights dotted the dark forests of Okutama’s mountains.
That white color attempting to resist the darkness belonged to the streetlights along a riverside road.
A single light tore through the darkness as if to assist those streetlights in their resistance.
It was a car’s headlights.
A black limousine travelled quickly up the mountain to reach the Akigawa region.
The driver was a young man with short hair. He wore a black shirt and a blue suit and he spoke into the limousine’s hands-free phone.
“Sister, I’m on my way back there. Has anything strange happened while I was away?”
“Hm? I-I-I-I didn’t do anything. More importantly, Kouji, did you see the young master?”
“He only needed a suit, so he asked me to leave it with the guard. He said he still has work to do but he’ll need a change of clothes afterwards.”
“Hmm. Then I guess he won’t be back at the dorm until morning. …Then, Kouji, buy me some ice cream at the convenience store on your way back. I want the experimental flavor of Garo Garo-kun.”
“Yes, yes,” said Kouji as he ended the call.
He reached for the gear stick and prepared to accelerate.
He reacted on reflex when he noticed something odd up ahead.
He avoided it.
He moved the hand on the gear stick to the hand brake and yanked it up.
The back end of the car rotated to the right and he ignored the screeching of the tires as it turned.
After the car shot into the right lane and faced the opposite direction, he pressed on the accelerator.
He used the acceleration of the spinning wheels to cancel out the motion vector pulling the car backwards.
Once it trembled and came to a stop, he neatly parked the large limousine on the shoulder of the descending side of the road.
He then opened the door and stepped out.
Once out in the chilly night air, he looked behind the car.
“Who is that?”
Someone was collapsed in the center of the road.
It was a girl wearing some kind of thick black outfit.
He could see her chest rising and falling as she breathed, but her clothes were covered in mud for some reason.
This was a mountain road, but the upward slope was covered in concrete and the other side was a large valley. He looked up the slope but only saw a forest filled with dry leaves. Also…
…There are no footprints leading here.
And yet the girl’s feet were covered in mud.
He frowned as he looked at her military-style boots.
Her right leg took a sudden bend inward at the inside edge of the shin.
“It’s broken. Did she fall from above?”
He did not know, but the process of elimination left that as the only possibility he could think of.
He looked around to see if anyone else was around, but…
“No one. I can’t even hear anything moving.”
He lowered his shoulders and looked back at the girl.
He did not know what was going on, but he could not leave her here now that he had found her. He touched the hair covering her face as he wondered if he should call for an ambulance.
The face he found below the hair was one he recognized.
She was the guest who had stopped by near the end of the morning. She was the one who had suddenly left.
His confusion left him as a question.
“Who are you?”
But the words that escaped his lips received a response.
The collapsed girl gave a quiet answer as she let out a breath.
A moment later, she fully lost consciousness and her head slumped limply down.
“My name is Tamiya Shino.”
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