Owari no Chronicle:Volume12 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Clashing Appearance
Say, “So you’re here”
Reply, “Indeed I am”
A three meter wide concrete corridor led to a metal door. The fluorescent lights on the ceiling were a bright white and they reflected off the gray floor.
A leather-covered bench sat against the wall and three people sat on it while keeping as much distance between each other as possible.
The one furthest down was a woman with gray hair.
“This will probably be a lot of trouble, Roger. How about you take control of the room past that door in the name of American UCAT’s love, freedom, and prejudiced dignity?”
Those words were directed at the man in a suit sitting in the center of the bench.
“Diana, we in the States have a word called tolerance. Not that I expect the people who hunted the Romans in the great Germanic invasion to understand. …Isn’t that right, UCAT Director Ooshiro?”
His question was directed at the old man in a lab coat sitting on the other end of the bench.
But he did not turn around and he had a red-haired maid standing by his side.
Roger tilted his head and pushed up his glasses as he looked to Ooshiro’s hanging head.
However, Ooshiro remained as motionless as a boxer who was concentrating after finishing his calculations.
Roger tilted his head further.
“UCAT Director Ooshiro? We are here in the Yokosuka American UCAT branch to hear what the other UCATs have to say and you are the center of attention.”
Wondering if the old man was asleep, Roger frowned, but Diana whispered to him.
He pushed up his glasses and checked there.
“Ah, th-there’s sand in his ear! UCAT Director Ooshiro! That is my dream sand! How did you manage to steal it!? And all to give yourself some selfish dream!”
He grabbed Ooshiro’s collar from the side and shook him, but the old man did not respond.
After a while, he spoke in his sleep with a happy look on his face.
“Ee hee hee.”
“What do you mean ‘ee hee hee’!?”
But the only one to react to Roger’s shout was the red-haired maid standing next to Ooshiro.
She looked into the old man’s ear.
“Ooshiro-sama, you have some trash in your ear.”
She pulled an industrial vacuum cleaner nozzle from below her apron, pressed it against Ooshiro’s ear, and switched it on.
A great sound shook the corridor and Ooshiro twitched from the suction.
“A-ahh!! #8-kun! Y-you’re going to suck it out! You’re going to suck my brains right out!!”
“Testament. I am simply cleaning out your ear. Your brain will remain right where it is.”
“Am I not allowed to describe how it feels!? I think you’ve been too harsh lately, #8-kun!”
She thought for precisely one second and switched off the vacuum’s battery power.
“I have determined you are imagining things, Ooshiro-sama. You may have a persecution complex. And unfortunately for you, things are only considered fact once someone else acknowledges them.”
“Then there’s nothing I can do when I’m surrounded by enemies!!”
She naturally ignored him and turned to Roger.
“Roger-sama, Ooshiro-sama has woken up.”
Roger nodded and faced Ooshiro.
Ooshiro bent over and peered up at Roger.
“Oh? You were here, Roger-kun?”
Ooshiro tilted his head to either side to dump out the sand.
“Sorry about that. I was bored, so I borrowed some of your sand. …Hm? What is it, Roger-kun? Do you want your sand back? Then place your hands on my ears. You’ll be able to hear the ocean.”
#8 did exactly that. She slammed her palms against either side of his head from behind.
A solid noise rang out before Ooshiro swayed and leaned against the wall.
“I can… I can see the ocean…”
“It does not really matter, but why are you so strong-willed when it comes to me, UCAT Director Ooshiro?”
“It’s not just you! I’m a UCAT Director, so I have to be strong-willed about everything!”
Roger answered the old man by gesturing toward #8.
Seeing his hand, Ooshiro looked to #8 and gave an expressionless shriek.
“I-I’m the UCAT Director! I-I’m #8-kun’s boss!”
“What does that matter, Ooshiro-sama?”
He thought on her words for about three seconds.
“Why are you apologizing, Ooshiro-sama? It makes no logical sense to me.”
“Oh, well, um, you see…”
“I asked why you apologized. Quit hemming and hawing and answer my question.”
“Wow, am I being scolded for doing nothing more than apologizing!?”
Someone then stopped Ooshiro’s question and #8’s frown.
It was a clap from Diana on the other end of the bench.
“Everyone, I believe it is about time.”
They turned around and saw Diana’s smiling eyes looking to the metal door.
They then heard a sound.
Muttering voices and tremoring noise came from beyond the door.
“The various UCAT representatives are beginning to enter the meeting room. And they are here to accuse us.”
The noise beyond the door grew louder.
Music played. The entrance music was a hard rock march and commentary accompanied it.
“Now, then! The world’s UCAT representatives are arriving to the underground meeting room in Yokosuka UCAT! This accusation match has no time limit and their opponents are the formidable Japanese, American, and German UCATs! Who will be the first to make their stand against them!?”
The people cheered.
“Oh, here we go! We have our first one! This human insincerity dismisses all testimony with a single careless statement! Covered in the Mediterranean wind, it’s the ever-sloppy Italian UCAT!”
Applause, cheers, and cries of “Italy” came from the meeting room.
“Now, the next one is here! They completed the foundation of litigation and ramen four thousand years ago! Has the punishment system of this Legalist nation truly achieved perfection!? It’s Chinese UCAT!!”
A roaring cheer followed.
“The third is a surprising individual! The one and only god is always watching! Even in the bath or on the toilet! So one must always be prepared! This oil producing nation is perfectly prepared on the physical front as well! Let’s hear it for Saudi UCAT!!”
Surprised voices spread and even more contestants’ entrances could be heard from the corridor.
As the cheers and other sounds shook them, Diana smiled and shrugged.
“You know why we are standing before them, don’t you?”
Roger shrugged as well.
“I suppose I will answer with testament. We bear the responsibility for American UCAT and German UCAT never revealing what Japanese UCAT was hiding and for fighting the other Gears as allies. But setting that aside, I think UCAT Director Ooshiro should apologize. Apologize to the world.”
“Th-that’s just mean, Roger-kun! I’m always facing the entire world. And with a full prostration!”
The two men’s exchange filled Diana’s smile with bitterness.
“Neither of you are giving any thought to apologizing, are you?”
After a pause, both of the men formed bitter smiles of their own.
“Well, you see, Diana-kun.” Ooshiro loosened his necktie. “It seems Boldman has already fought Izumo-kun as 6th’s representative. …Doesn’t that make it seem buying time here will actually be useful?”
“Testament,” she answered. “Then how about we make them wait a while longer before going in?”
Roger nodded in agreement.
More cheers came from beyond the metal door, but he crossed his legs as a show of defiance.
“Well, I won’t argue if they insist on making this an accusation convention and refuse to have an actual conversation.”
He shook his wrist to produce a small test tube from his sleeve.
He gently shook the blue sand in the test tube.
“I had been looking for a chance to test sleeping with my eyes open.”
At night, the streetlights advertised their position with their own light.
Those streetlights followed a narrow road.
The lights gave a dim view of the surrounding houses.
At this time, the people were hiding in the houses and few of them were out on the road. Cars could be heard on a distant main road, but that was beyond a wall of darkness.
This was a one-lane road and the white lines running along either side were narrow.
However, two forms could be seen below the streetlights.
One was a slender person and the other was a small animal.
The person was a girl in black. She wore a cloak and a three-cornered hat. Her right hand held a broom with a flower-print cover and her left hand held a single white origami crane.
The small animal was a black cat following at her feet.
The cat looked up at her as she came to a stop below one streetlight.
“Brunhild, are you really going to attack now that you’ve left?”
“Yes? Is that a problem? Besides, it seems Diana and the others have already noticed.”
Brunhild put the paper crane in her pocket and turned her sharp gaze forward.
A long fence continued to her right and a wooden gate was located halfway down.
“The Tamiya house. Sayama and Shinjou are here at the moment. And with no equipment. I can’t touch them while they’re inside, but it should only take a single attack once they leave.”
She raised her broom like a spear.
“If we had known about Top-Gear during 1st-Gear’s Leviathan Road, what would Venerable Hagen have done? I bet Fafner wouldn’t have shut up about it.”
“From that, I take it you don’t have permission for this attack.”
Exasperation filled the cat’s voice.
“You don’t, do you? You want to attack before the others on the reservation can. That way you can settle things with UCAT in your own way.”
“Cats these days really like to speculate with no proof, don’t they? I just haven’t forgotten my grudge, that’s all.”
“Well, I haven’t forgotten either, so let’s do this together, Brunhild. Let’s wait until Sayama and Shinjou leave.”
The cat sat down on the road and Brunhild turned to face the gate.
After about three seconds, the cat suddenly looked up at her.
“Just how impatient are you?”
“I’m a cat. Sitting still isn’t easy for me. I can’t help it.”
The cat sighed, lay down, curled up, stretched out, sat and scratched his head with his back leg, licked and rubbed his face and stomach to wash himself, and even chased his tail for fun.
“Brunhild, why are you pointing your broom at me?”
“Have you ever heard of tension?”
“I-I have! Of course I have. That’s just rude, Brunhild.”
“Then tell me what it means. If you don’t, I’ll hit you.”
Sweat poured from the cat’s entire body.
“Um,” he began. “Well,” he continued. “Does it have a flavor?”
“Yes, it sometimes tastes like a mixture of iron and salt. As a color, I suppose it would be red.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Don’t worry. There isn’t any pain. Yet.”
“Are you talking about something else now?”
“I am.” She nodded. “I’m talking about you!!”
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!! Ah, no! The scar from before is still sensitive, so don’t attack me ther- hee hee hee hee hee hyo hyo hyo hyo!”
After she attacked the cat for a while, his sides trembled in laughter, so Brunhild released him.
She stood up, but…
She quickly turned around.
She looked five meters ahead where another streetlight shined down.
The white light washed over a human form.
She saw a white light.
This soft light was even brighter than the streetlight.
It had instantly descended from the sky, it took the form of two wings, and it had a single girl at its base.
The girl wore a white armored uniform and a scarf, she carried a long pallet on her back, and she held a large white spear.
“What do you want, cosplay girl?”
Kazami landed in front of Brunhild and faced her.
“Now,” said Kazami with her eyebrows a bit raised. “I see 1st wants their turn after 6th.”
Kazami faced the witch.
She placed her feet at shoulder width and smiled with her eyebrows still raised.
“I will be your opponent.”
She faced forward where Brunhild stood in the darkness.
The girl wore her black combat cloak and three-cornered hat and she held a broom.
She was prepared to fight.
But the same could be said of Kazami.
“I never thought I would end up doing this with you.”
…I’d prefer to say we shouldn’t fight if we aren’t enemies.
She understood that, but she also understood their respective positions. She knew that Brunhild was here as 1st-Gear’s representative.
So she held G-Sp2 under her right arm and reached for the long pallet on her back.
“I’ll lend you this before we begin. If you’re picking a fight with Team Leviathan to clear 1st-Gear’s grudge, it would be best if you had this, wouldn’t it?”
The long white pallet smashed the asphalt as it stabbed into the ground.
Brunhild frowned when she saw it, but her eyebrows soon twisted and shot up.
“You don’t mean…!”
A certain white corridor had no windows. The white fluorescent lights illuminated the black letters saying BF3 on the walls, but BF4 and BF2 were lined up alongside it.
The people walking down the corridor wore white cloaks, armored uniforms, or work outfits. They walked one way or the other, carried luggage, transported materials, or exchanged words or diagrams.
A boy stood by the wall in order to avoid all that movement. He wore the pants of an armored uniform and a T-shirt. The nametag on his chest said Hiba Ryuuji.
The people moving up or down the corridor looked at him, saw the nametag, saw where he was standing, and gave a nod of understanding at the fact that he was standing there instead of helping.
He could only nod back with a bitter smile at the fact that he was not helping.
“I’ll help some later.”
He muttered that comment in front of the medical room.
He listened to the footsteps and voices of the passing people, but he did not move from that spot.
“I’m not trying to skip out on work or anything.”
He kept his bitter smile, but the flow of surrounding people vanished.
He crossed his arms and noted that Japanese UCAT was very busy despite the truth revealed by the Army.
…Well, I guess they can’t just abandon their work. The time limit on the negative concept activation is only five days away.
A month and a half ago, the Army’s attack had destroyed the third floor and up of the UCAT building.
As a precaution against secondary damages, the aboveground portion was being completely remade. The oil painting and other things in the intact first floor hall had all been transferred to Taka-Akita Academy or other facilities.
While the aboveground portion was being rebuilt, the underground was being used instead.
To make the modifications and restoration of the underground easier, each floor had been broken apart by room and reconnected with concept spaces. It was common to find first basement facilities on the fifth basement or three storage areas connected together to form a workplace.
Everyone was busy with the restoration work.
Hiba had heard that the foreign UCATs had planned to take over Japanese UCAT after the Army’s attack was settled.
…By taking over the group that had hidden the truth, they could demonstrate their sincerity to the Gear reservations.
He felt they had had a decent excuse for an occupation. After Japanese UCAT had cleared the greatest barrier that was the Army, they would have had all of their authority stripped from them.
But the different countries had failed to work together well and American UCAT had stationed itself to protect Japanese UCAT, so the other UCATs had missed their timing.
He had also heard that German UCAT had held the other powerful European UCATs in check.
While the foreign UCATs had hesitated, Japanese UCAT had organized its personnel and announced it would hold a meeting for all UCATs.
That had led to those other UCATs gathering together to accuse the American, German, and Japanese UCATs of conspiring together.
Ooshiro’s group had apparently gone to an underground meeting room in Yokosuka, but Hiba was unsure how well that would turn out.
…I hope he isn’t doing anything too weird.
“Well, #8 is with him, so it should be fine.”
Of the automatons, the ones in Japanese UCAT and the Kanda Laboratory had stuck with Low-Gear.
He had heard the ones in Izumo UCAT were not leaving the underground area there. They were holed up in the underground laboratory and Miyako was acting as their representative.
Is something going to happen there? wondered Hiba.
A report had just come in that Izumo had fought Boldman and been sent to the hospital.
With the situation in flux, they would never be able to settle everything in the meeting room below Yokosuka.
And that state of flux was controlled by the Concept Cores and those fighting over them.
…That would be us.
He thought about it casually, but he did feel a sense of responsibility.
If the enemy brought out anything in the god of war class, it was his duty to stand in their way and accept the challenge.
Currently, their enemies were those who wanted the Concept Cores.
If there was anything for him, it would likely be from 3rd-Gear.
He had no idea what would be coming, but it would happen eventually as long as they held the Concept Cores.
…I don’t like this at all.
He had fought alongside Gyes in the battle against Black Sun. He knew Gyes had been perfectly courteous to Mikage and kind to the others.
Gyes had seemed to find exchanges with #8 and Sibyl especially meaningful, so she had often talked about Low-Gear with them and asked how things had been since they had come to this world.
Hiba had also crossed blades with her in training. She rode on her god of war’s shoulder, so…
…I had a great view of her underwear.
With that tight skirt, it was unavoidable, he thought as he closed his eyes and nodded to convince himself.
A moment later…
“What is it, Ryuuji-kun?”
Mikage’s voice suddenly reached him from the side.
He quickly looked up and saw the medical room’s door had opened.
Chao had once worked there, but it was now run by a female doctor who had worked under Chao.
Hiba briefly recalled that, but…
“How did it go, Mikage-san?”
He looked to his side where Mikage held an examination report.
She wore a white armored uniform and her skirt fluttered as she bent forward.
She narrowed her eyes and her eyelashes bent in a smile.
But she only said “nn” again and nothing more.
…Did something make her happy?
She could now walk without a cane or someone pulling on her hand. It was awkward and she could not break into a full run, but it was enough for everyday life.
Everyone around her was looking after her and she was apparently secretly learning to cook.
She was saying “nn” a lot recently.
It was a sign she was in a good mood, so…
“Nn.” She nodded. “Let’s take a bath today.”
Hiba’s mind leapt from his head at that sudden comment.
The word “wait” bounced around his brain. The words “don’t wait” were bouncing around too. “Which is it” joined in, followed by “well, it doesn’t matter”, and “are you sure it doesn’t matter”.
He calmed his breathing and looked around.
Without even focusing, he could tell the people had stopped walking and moving about.
He also felt some odd gazes on the back of his neck. They were filled with what one could call murderous intent.
…This isn’t good.
The label on the wall said BF2, but this was actually at BF4’s depth.
If he tried to reach the surface now, he was certain the elevator would “malfunction”.
…This is really bad.
“I have a lot to show you in the bath.”
The level of “bad” rose to about thirty percent.
Sweat covered his back in an instant and he just barely managed to maintain his casual expression.
Mikage was giving a carefree smile next to him, but all sound and motion had vanished from their surroundings.
He had to choose between his safety and Mikage’s good mood. The answer was obvious.
…I’ll bet on Mikage-san and only on Mikage-san! I’ll bet it all on her!!
So he gathered all of his courage and asked her a question.
“Ha…ha ha. What has you wanting to take a bath all of a sudden?”
“Nn. You don’t like that we haven’t taken one together in a while, do you? You want to see, don’t you?”
The level of “bad” grew to fifty percent and Hiba’s sweating grew just as much.
He heard whispering voices around him.
“Boss, should we take him out?”
“No, it’s too soon. It’s still too soon. We need to wait until he’s alone.”
“Yeah, I can’t believe he’s standing there waiting for his bath time instead of helping us.”
As the effect of synergy heated up the surrounding area, Hiba felt his blood cool and he looked to the end of the corridor. He looked to the nearly deserted stairs.
“U-um, Mikage-san? H-how about we go outside?”
Something soft suddenly bound him from behind.
Mikage had embraced him.
The touch and heat of her body reached him through the back of his T-shirt and he sensed danger.
He was acting as her shield, so his front was wide open. He saw a group sitting and holding sniper rifles over by the stairs at the end of the corridor. They were entirely focused on maintaining those guns.
“M-Mikage-san? This makes it a little…a little hard to walk.”
“Nn. But you haven’t been touching me lately.”
It rose to seventy percent and Mikage supplied a finishing blow.
“Hm? You’re sweating, Ryuuji-kun.”
It broke past one hundred percent and a special division commander spoke to the snipers at the end of the corridor.
“Okay, time for some target practice.”
“W-wait a minute!!” shouted Hiba.
Suddenly, a voice called out from behind. It was a female voice and it was asking a question.
“Is something the matter, Mikage-sama?”
Before Hiba could realize it was Sibyl’s voice, Mikage had lifted her head behind him.
She spoke and removed herself from him.
He turned around with her and saw who had just climbed the stairs at the opposite end of the corridor.
“Sibyl-san, why are you in such a hurry?”
“Just making some preparations. …Were you here for an examination?”
Mikage nodded and handed the examination report to Sibyl who had stopped in front of them.
Sibyl nodded and took it.
“I will look over it later. Anyway, Chisato-sama just called to say she wanted us to send out G-Sp2 and X-Wi. I also checked and found a 1st-Gear concept has been released within Akigawa, so I just finished preparing for that.”
“Eh? In other words, Kazami-san is going to solve this with violence against 1st-Gear?”
“Hiba-sama, it is not violence. It is a spontaneous physical solution.”
Sibyl smiled and fell silent as if waiting for a sign of comprehension, so Hiba frantically spoke up.
“O-oh. Ha ha ha. Th-that’s right! Spontaneity sure is great! Maybe I should go perform some spontaneous observations!”
“That is called peeping and I will report you for it. Testament?”
He averted his gaze and hung his head, but Mikage tilted her head and looked to Sibyl.
Her eyebrows were laid flat and her expression looked blank.
“Is Kazami going to cry again?”
“Not to worry, Mikage-sama. She said she will be fine. That is why I have only made the preparations. I have determined that should be enough.”
Sibyl took a breath.
“And she wanted to see what 1st-Gear could do when they were serious, so I sent something else along with G-Sp2 and X-Wi.”
A dignified tone filled Sibyl’s voice.
“I also sent the weapon that can be called 1st-Gear itself.”
After Kazami stabbed it into the asphalt, the white pallet split in two.
What appeared from the pallet as it broke into a front and back half?
Brunhild was the one to provide the answer.
The long metal sword responded to her voice by sending red light through the mold of its details.
Gram produced a voice.
“It has been a while, young lady.”
Brunhild watched on in surprise as Kazami grabbed Gram’s hilt and lifted it.
“This thing’s light,” muttered the girl before throwing it to Brunhild. “This is the power that 1st-Gear wanted. I’m lending it to you. What do you think?”
That question was answered by a dry sound.
It was the sound of Brunhild’s glove catching the airborne sword.
The sword was taller than she was, but the black magician easily swung it around with only her wrist.
“You’re going to regret this. I lived right alongside the one who created Gram, so I know how to use it quite well.”
“Is that so? Well, I know how to use G-Sp2 quite well.”
Brunhild nodded and lowered her head with the broom in her left hand and the sword in her right.
“You have my thanks. Now that I have Gram, I will represent 1st-Gear in this battle.”
With those words, she tossed the broom into the sky.
It cut through the air overhead and she raised her left hand. She held a piece of metal in that hand.
The metal instantly shattered and dispersed.
It sounded like the ringing of a bell.
Kazami remembered it. When fighting 1st-Gear’s City faction, they had activated concepts like that.
“You’re using a concept space as a battlefield, aren’t you?”
“Yes. But if that’s enough to surprise you, you’re going to get hurt.”
The lips visible below the three-cornered hat formed a thin smile.
A moment later, Kazami heard a voice.
—Writing holds power.
The concept text spread through the air like a shout and the world changed accordingly.
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