Owari no Chronicle:Volume12 Chapter 15
Chapter 15: The Ordinary Extraordinary
And finally, I decide
A room had a blackboard on the wall and several lines of desks.
The desks and chairs were filled by boys in black school uniforms and girls in navy blue uniforms.
However, the back of the far left row by the windows contained a color not seen in the rest of the room.
Everyone else’s hair was black, but this girl’s short hair was blonde.
The nametag on her uniform said Heo T.
Heo placed her notebook, textbook, and pen case on her desk before facing forward.
The windows on the left side of the classroom provided a view of the courtyard and the back of Building B. The classroom was located on the third floor of Building C, which was the farthest north of the buildings.
Despite the view of the gray sky, the air conditioning kept the chill out.
…It’s actually a little too hot inside, so sitting by the window feels nice and cool.
With that thought, Heo began copying down what the teacher wrote on the blackboard.
This was modern Japanese class and they were working an interpretative problem.
She enjoyed class. She learned a lot and…
…It helps me forget about last night, at least a little.
She remembered what Harakawa had said as he left.
He had told her to stay away from the Leviathan Road because she was safe.
He had said someone who was safe did not need to head into danger.
She wondered what she was supposed to do if she saw something she wanted to protect in that danger.
She did not know the answer and that was why she had said nothing as he had left.
She suddenly realized something from that. Oh, she told herself.
…He left because I couldn’t give him a proper answer.
In that case, had her anger been nothing but a misplaced outburst? She had already consumed a lot of their snacks, so…
…C-calorie-wise, I’ve made a horrible mistake!
No, I’ll be fine. I’m still young, she told herself just as she heard a voice.
“Heo? Troubled? Troubled?”
Surprised, she lifted her drooping head.
She looked around, but no one else had noticed the voice. She could only hear the air blowing in from the heater and the teacher’s chalk scraping on the blackboard.
She also heard the occasional turning of a page in a student’s notebook, so she relaxed her shoulders a bit.
…Looks like they didn’t notice.
Her usual bag sat to the left of her desk, but she had brought an additional black backpack today and it was slightly opened.
A green point peeked out of the backpack. It was the nose of a plant creature.
The nose moved back and forth as if sniffing around and Heo whispered at it.
“Um, sorry, but I’m in the middle of class right now.”
The creature unexpectedly began to leave the backpack as if peeling it away.
Heo frantically grabbed its shoulder and shoved it back inside.
“S-sorry, but it isn’t quite time to come out yet.”
…Yes, I am!!
For the time being, she zipped up the bag with the creature’s nose sticking out.
She quickly looked around, but she only noticed a few people giving her curious glances.
They seemed to think she had only impulsively decided to take something out of her bag.
She nonchalantly faced her notebook again, stretched her back, and picked up her mechanical pencil.
She steadied her breathing and began copying down her notes again, while fully aware of the gazes on her.
…I-I’m a delinquent. I really am a delinquent today. How could I bring an animal to school!?
When she thought about it, she realized not even delinquents brought animals to school.
Plus, this was not an animal. It was the resident of another world.
…I-I’ve packed up what you could call a person. …I’m a world-class delinquent!
But this was part of her job as a member of Team Leviathan. The plant creature had showed up at her home, asked for her specifically, and asked to redo their negotiations.
Kazami had contacted her that morning and given her the following advice after hearing about the situation:
“Try to get along.”
That was about as vague as one could get and Kazami had also told her that Hiba and Mikage had been taken to the hospital the night before and that Top-Gear had stolen 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core.
It also seemed Sayama and Shinjou had arrived at Izumo UCAT.
That meant Heo had to deal with this on her own.
She could not leave a guest alone all day, so she had brought the creature with her.
“Heo. Water. Water.”
The worst part was its need to soak up water once an hour, so she quickly raised her hand.
“Excuse me! I’m not feeling well.”
Her elderly female homeroom teacher smiled bitterly.
“Miss Thunderson, don’t push yourself too much in your everyday life.”
The others gave her looks of pity, so she began to worry just what kind of character they saw her as.
At any rate, she left the classroom with the plant creature’s backpack in hand and she made her way to the building’s central hallway.
She opened the girl’s bathroom in the cold air and entered a stall.
She closed the pale green door and opened the toilet lid.
“U-um, you need water, right?”
She pulled a thermos of hot water from the backpack’s side pocket.
She then opened the backpack and the plant creature pushed its way out.
It bent itself toward the center of the open toilet.
“Y-you mustn’t use that water. You mustn’t.”
She gave the creature the same lecture for the third time that day and placed it across the toilet.
It placed its six feet along the open toilet seat and she poured a cup of the thermos’s hot water over it.
By the time the water passed through the plant creature, it had lost its heat.
The splashing sound would continue until the water ran out.
Heo breathed a sigh of relief that she was pulling this off.
…D-dealing with other worlds isn’t easy.
She stretched while making sure her back did not touch the wall and the creature asked a question.
“Heo? What were you doing?”
“That’s this country’s language.”
She knew what it meant. They spoke directly via thoughts, so they used what one could call a perfect language. From their perspective, having to use many different languages might sound like a lot of hard work.
“I think it’s a lot of fun.”
“Then 4th boring?”
Heo gasped at that tremendous reversal.
She started by making sure she maintained her smile.
“Y-yes. It’s a very unpleasant sweat, too. N-no, you don’t need to absorb anything from me. You don’t. Th-this much is normal for me.”
I can say some bold things when cornered, can’t I? she thought while finding an answer.
“4th’s language is fun too.”
“Why? Only one.”
Heo thought about the plant creature’s use of the word “one” and she chose her words carefully.
“In that case, languages are a means of conveying your thoughts, so Low-Gear’s languages and 4th-Gear’s language may take different forms, but they’re the same kind of fun in the end.”
After a while, the creature answered.
“4th and Low-Gear the same? Why?”
She knew the answer to that thanks to living in Harakawa’s home.
“Because we’re living together. Languages are meant to convey thoughts to each other, so even if they take different forms, they’re the same if we can properly convey our thoughts.”
“Living together makes the same?”
“Yes, together makes the same.”
I’m speaking like it now, she thought with a bitter smile.
“Even if we’re different, we can be the same.”
“But Harakawa not together. Not the same?”
The ends of her eyebrows lowered at that question.
The plant creature had not seen Harakawa. She did not know where it had learned about him, but it was bothered by the fact that he was not with her.
Why was he not with her?
That was the question she most wanted to know the answer to.
However, she had to be a proper representative of Low-Gear when speaking to the 4th plant creature.
If 4th-Gear viewed Harakawa and herself as Low-Gear, then they were going through a slight civil war. She believed that it was only a temporary split and that it would not be permanent.
“Harakawa isn’t with me for the moment.”
“The same, but not with you? Always?”
She almost answered “maybe”, but…
She swallowed the words. She wanted to say no and she tried to come up with an excuse for doing so.
After a realization, she gave her answer.
“Really? Heo and Harakawa are not together?”
She gave a clear answer.
“But perhaps not.”
Her voice was steady as she replied.
“I don’t know because it’s up to me.”
She was not sure, but she had a feeling this was the answer. She felt like this would lead her to the answer.
If Harakawa had rejected her, she had to figure out why and fix whatever she needed to fix.
She had ended up crying because she had not tried to figure out what it was and she had assumed there was nothing wrong with her.
And as soon as she realized that, a knock came on the stall door.
The plant creature was not done with its water, so she was thankful she had locked the door.
“Is that you, Heo T? Are you okay?”
The voice belonged to her class’s health committee member.
Heo nodded at the nickname her nametag had produced.
“Y-yes, I’m fine. What is it?”
“Our teacher told me to go check on you, Heo T. You’ve been talking to yourself a lot today and doing weird things. …Are you sure you’re okay? I’m been, um, hearing quite a lot of, uh, water in there.”
Oddly calm thoughts of “that’s a misunderstanding” and “what should I say?” entered her mind, but her silence must have worried the girl.
“U-um, Heo T? By any chance, d-did you really have to go?”
“Eh? Well, um…”
Heo looked down at the plant creature standing across the toilet and accidentally spoke aloud.
“This big green thing wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“Eh!? Have you been eating a lot of fiber and a lot of beta-carotene-rich vegetables!?”
“Ah! N-no, ignore that! Ignore that! I didn’t say anything!”
“No, Heo T. You need to take care of this properly! Go to the infirmary and get a suppository!!”
“Suppository?” asked the plant creature.
“I-it’s a type of medicine,” replied Heo.
“Ah, Heo T’s talking to herself again! Teacher! Teacher! Heo T’s in trouble!”
Heo brought a hand to her forehead as she heard the bathroom door open and footsteps run out into the hallway.
“Today’s troubles are getting going earlier than usual…”
“Heo T?” asked the plant creature.
“Um, yes. Some people say my name that way.”
She sighed and touched the plant creature.
It had already gone through all the water.
Shinjou and Sayama stood in a dark corridor.
Shinjou held a fist-sized stone. It was the Messenger of Wanambi, but…
The hard stone was emitting a gentle heat from within.
…It’s been cold lately, so it would be nice having something like this under the covers at night.
Meanwhile, she saw something up ahead.
It was a long white console with a bookshelf and a cupboard for dishes.
“My mom’s workplace.”
The coffee cup she had seen in the past was in the cupboard.
She hesitated briefly.
She placed the stone on the console, opened up the cupboard, and pulled out the white cup with both hands.
It was cold, but she felt an imagined warmth in it.
The ends of her eyebrows lowered as she held up the cup and lowered her head.
“She was here.”
Tears threatened to spill from her eyes and she realized how prone to tears she had been lately.
So she breathed in, tensed her gut to hold in the tears, and embraced the cup.
“You can cry if you want, Shinjou-kun.”
She forcibly shook her head, causing the drops in the corners of her eyes to waver.
“We’re going to Sakai. I’m sure I’ll cry there, so…I don’t want to cry until then. That way I can cry a whole bunch.”
She raised her head and forced a smile. The tears never left my eyes, so it doesn’t count as crying, right? she told herself as she wiped at her eyes.
She then gently set down the cup on the console.
“Are you sure?” “You won’t take it?” “Belongs” “to” “Yukio”
“My mom didn’t leave this for me and she didn’t spend her time with it after I was born. It belongs to her from the time she was here.”
“Tes” “Understood” “Yukio” “Different” “Shinjou” “Name” “Name?”
“Sadagiri,” she said firmly.
After a while…
“Shinjou” “Sadagiri” “Shinjou” “Yukio”
“Individual” “Inherit” “Understood” “Tes” “Testament”
She nodded at that with a smile.
“Thank you” “Thank” “Thankful” “Grateful” “Great” “Amazing” “Maze” “Labyrinth”
“Does your excess intelligence sometimes send your associations out of control?”
“Speak to ourselves” “Happens a lot” “Try not to” “Endure” “Entertainment” “TV” “Video” “Osaka” “Arm”
They started playing shiritori.
…I feel like I could watch them all day, but have they always been doing this?
She imagined Wanambi and them all rapidly playing shiritori to increase their heat while living in their empty world during the Concept War.
…Actually, where did they learn that game?
Probably Sayama-kun’s grandfather or my great-grandfather, she decided.
“I wonder if my great-grandfather was like your grandfather, Sayama-kun.”
“Sh-Shinjou-kun, please do not insult your ancestors like that.”
“Insult” “Insulate” “Insulation” “Too cold?”
“No, no. I’m fine,” answered Shinjou as she rubbed the head of the stone in front of her.
She then looked up.
Sayama did the same next to her.
They both looked to the darkness beyond the console.
In their dream of the past, it had been filled with a jungle of piping and walls of giant tanks, but now…
“What is this empty space?”
A spherical area fifty meters across was gouged out of the darkness.
The empty space had eaten into the surrounding machines and pipes as well. The neighboring machines and tanks all had the edge of a sphere torn into them and their internal components were exposed.
Shinjou could only think a massive space had utterly vanished.
Some panels were laid out at the bottom of the empty space to create a level area and futons were laid out on them. The automatons hiding out below ground were likely using it as a place to sleep.
“I bet that higher bed with a canopy is Miyako-san’s.”
Miyako’s voice reached them from the distant entrance.
“Don’t go peeking at our stuff!”
Shinjou tensed her shoulders and grabbed onto Sayama’s arm.
She questioned how they were supposed to investigate this area without seeing the beds, but…
“What is this hole? It wasn’t there in the dream, was it?”
“No,” Sayama shook his head and Baku emulated it from his head.
Suddenly, a voice reached them from further in.
“This was the result of creating a concept and then eliminating it. That prevented the facility from ever being used, but it also means the concept creation theory was completed.”
Shinjou turned toward the voice coming from down the corridor and the voice continued.
“Hi. You’ve seen a lot here, haven’t you? So can you tell me what you think of it all? Has it cheered you up and made you feel like you can keep going after all? Has it?”
The owner of the voice appeared from the darkness.
“That guy in the white suit.”
“That’s right. The name’s Izumo Retsu, so try to remember it if you can. I’m more famous than my son, after all. Anyway, since I fell down, I decided to wait for you on my way back up.”
The elderly man in a white suit revealed what he was hiding behind his well-built back.
It was a white, A4-sized touchpad, but…
…It has the same cowling as a concept weapon!
In that case, she thought.
Retsu smiled. It was a troubled smile with lowered ends of the eyebrows.
“8th-Gear’s Wanambi is in here. You can carry it back with you and complete the Leviathan Road on your way.”
His tone made it clear there was a “but”, so Shinjou stiffened.
Sayama spoke up as if responding to her tension.
“You sound like you have something else to say.”
“I would expect no less of Old Sayama’s grandson, Mikoto-kun. …Yes, there is something I want to say and something I want to ask.”
“Tell us what you want to say first.”
“I will.” Retsu nodded and looked to Shinjou. “Shinjou-kun, now that you have come here and seen that large empty space, have you noticed a certain mystery?”
Before she could ask what he meant, he looked to the large hole, narrowed his eyes, and continued.
“That was 1st-Gear’s writing concept. It was a pre-existing concept, but it was created as an original rather than a copy. But to make sure the double presence of that concept did not destroy the world’s balance, the concept created inside of an experimental concept space grew negative and caused that.”
“Then…my mom really did create a concept?”
“Yes.” Retsu’s voice was quiet and he stared into the distant darkness. “By constructing a theory based on the available data, she created a working theory.”
Those words led Shinjou to realize what he meant by a mystery.
There was indeed a mystery here. If her mother had successfully created a concept…
“Why was the facility below Okutama never completed?”
They would have had all the data and her mother would have had her theory near completion.
“That is simple. She went to Top-Gear and…she made some clever alterations to the data she left behind.”
His use of the word “alterations” left her speechless.
However, he looked her way and spoke with a calm expression.
“I feel like making a joke here. Should I?”
“No. I think that’s due to the pervert genes of the Izumo family, so just keep talking.”
Retsu hung his head and sighed, but he quickly looked back up with a troubled expression.
“Well, anyway. By the time we checked over the data, it was too late. Once we had reason to doubt some of the data she left, all of it started looking suspect, so Asagi-kun decided to end the project. All that remained was the wasted facility on Japanese UCAT’s sixth basement…and the fact that Low-Gear was in trouble.”
“B-but why? Why did my mom do that?”
“I don’t know. I’m not your mom, so I can only guess.”
She fell silent at that and he shrugged.
“Was that a little too harsh for you? But it’s the truth. And none of us know why it happened. Was she telling Low-Gear to die? Or did she not want Low-Gear to use concepts as a weapon? That’s for you two to find out.”
“For us to find out?”
“None of us want to remember those times, but you want to investigate it, don’t you? And you’re their kids. You have more right to know and to think about it than I do.”
With that said, Retsu straightened his back, tossed up the PDA in his hand, and caught it.”
“I just gave you ‘the past’ as a gift. So next…”
“You want my brilliant self to give you ‘the present’ as a gift?” asked Sayama.
“That speeds things up.” Retsu smiled and brushed a hand through his gray hair. “Yes, I just have one thing I want to ask you. …If, hypothetically, Top-Gear turned out to be 100% in the right, would there be any point in lending you Wanambi? There wouldn’t, would there? So I want to ask you why you would borrow Wanambi and complete the Leviathan Road if Top-Gear is in the right. Or to put it more bluntly…”
He took a breath, spun around for no reason, and pointed at Sayama.
“Prove to me you can complete the Leviathan Road even if Top-Gear is entirely in the right!”
Shinjou thought about what Retsu’s question meant.
…That’s what Sayama-kun was talking about, isn’t it?
She remembered their conversation on the emergency staircase the day before.
…He told us he has a last resort against Top-Gear.
It was something that even Sayama had referred to as “treading on thin ice”, but that was exactly why it was a last resort.
…What is it?
Sayama crossed his arms in the face of his questioner.
“Father of Izumo, what a silly question. What if I were to say I simply hate quitting something without finishing it?”
“Your need to ask ‘what if’ is enough to know that isn’t the case. Get on to what you really think.”
Shinjou was taken aback by Retsu’s reasoning.
…He isn’t letting Sayama-kun have his way.
I probably would have fallen for it, she realized.
“Mikoto-kun,” said Retsu with a bitter smile.
“Please, there is no need to use ‘-kun’. You can simply call me ‘Mikoto-sama’.”
Sayama ignored Shinjou’s glare and Retsu’s bitter smile grew.
“Then, Mikoto-sama, I’m sorry to say that I’ve known your father and grandfather for a long time. I’ve come to learn quite a few verbal tricks in that time. …Do you get what I’m saying?”
“Yes. You are saying you have an overabundance of terrible memories.”
“Wow, the grandson’s the same? That’s three generations in a row!!”
“Heh heh heh. It won’t be long until Shinjou-kun and I produce the fourth generation. Prepare yourself.”
That comment surprised Shinjou.
She took a step back and brought a hand to her chest.
“But they’ll be like me too. Then again, your side might be so strong it overpowers my side.”
“Hmm. I seem to have misspoke, Shinjou-kun. That is not what I meant. I would want our child to have your beauty, eroundism, intelligence, hardworking spirit, rejecting acceptance, and blessing from the butt spirit.”
“I’m not sure all of those are compliments.”
At any rate, Shinjou pointed down the corridor.
Sayama looked down that way and saw Retsu crouched down and playing shiritori with the Messenger of Wanambi.
“Fox. Ha ha ha. How do like the suffering of all these x’s? …Oh, are you done over there?”
“Yes, can we continue speaking?”
Retsu nodded and stood up. He looked over at them from his great height.
“Right now, my stupid son’s bridal candidate says the other kids are renegotiating with the other Gears. So you can finish the Leviathan Road with 8th-Gear, learn of the past in Sakai, and put together a plan to deal with Top-Gear. …But when are you going to handle 9th’s Leviathan Road? 9th is pretty much the Army’s main force. And…”
His mouth opened wide and bent up in a smile.
“When are you going to do Top-Gear’s Leviathan Road?”
That question brought something to mind for Shinjou.
…First, Kazami-san and the others have to defeat the other Gears in their rematches to preserve the previous parts of the Leviathan Road.
“And if we finish the Leviathan Road with all of the Gears except for 9th-Gear, which was the Army, and Top-Gear…”
…The Gears will either take Top-Gear’s side or Low-Gear’s side.
She quietly spoke her conclusion aloud.
“The world will split into two factions which can meet for a negotiation.”
She brought a hand to her mouth and raised her voice to a yell.
“Every Gear can gather and hold a negotiation over whether Top-Gear or Low-Gear is right!”
“Indeed,” agreed Sayama. “We can create a venue for more than just Top-Gear’s view!”
He looked to Retsu.
“No matter what sort of righteousness Top-Gear has on their side, we can hold it back. …No matter how righteous the past may be, it is limited in number. If a greater number support the present’s righteousness, the past’s righteousness has no choice but to restrain itself!”
“You mean you won’t let the past rule unopposed?”
“Yes. I do not yet know what form this meeting will take. I do not even know if Top-Gear will agree to it, what topics to discuss, or how to set it up. Not knowing if such a thing can be arranged at all is the biggest challenge at the moment.”
Based on their periodic contact with the others, they knew 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core had been stolen, 4th was renegotiating with Heo, and 2nd was still a mystery. There were too many unknowns for concrete plans at this point.
“Also,” said Sayama. “At that meeting, we will be competing with Top-Gear to see who is in the right. We just received a large hint from Shinjou Yukio’s past, but we must solve those mysteries in our negotiations with 8th and the further information on her we find in Sakai.”
Shinjou listened to him talk about her mother.
“We must face whatever led up to Top-Gear’s destruction and determine the truth.”
She gave a deep nod at that because the past he was searching for was closely connected to her.
…I want to find the truth about my mom and the others.
Sayama smiled a bit and nodded toward her.
“Yes,” he began. “We know two things for sure. First, the end of the Leviathan Road comes at the conclusion of the Leviathan Road meeting where each Dragon’s representative is gathered. And second, we will use the past and future we have gained to battle Top-Gear there.”
He extended his left hand toward Wanambi in Retsu’s hand.
When Retsu saw his outstretched hand, he showed off his teeth in a smile.
“An excellent idea. In that case…”
Just as he was going to say something more, he stopped.
Eh? thought Shinjou as she noticed where he was looking.
She looked at his feet where the Messenger of Wanambi’s sand was forming letters.
“Hurry it up” “Hand it over”
“It sounds a little like the yakuza,” commented Shinjou as Retsu reluctantly and silently passed them Wanambi.
|Back to Chapter 14||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 16|