Owari no Chronicle:Volume12 Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Sudden Weakness[edit]

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You couldn’t reach her

By the time you did, it was too late

And only tears of excuses remain


A large space was filled with the color white.

It was located underground, it was fifty meters square, and white tables and decorative plants filled the large area between the columns.

It was a cafeteria and the paper sign on the wall said “Japanese UCAT Temporary Cafeteria”.

This space had been prepared while the aboveground cafeteria on Japanese UCAT’s second floor was being repaired. It and the spaces for experiment relocation had been among the first of the newly constructed underground facilities.

When evening transitioned to night, the cafeteria was usually filled with people eating dinner.

Today should not have been an exception, but it was relatively empty for the time period.

This was not due to a lack of people. Field operations personnel were filling the tables near the entrance and emergency exit.

However, the number of people grew sparse toward the center of the tables.

Only three people sat at the white table in the very center.

And everyone was staring at those three.

On one side was a blonde woman in a jacket and on the other side were an elderly man in white and a well-built elderly woman in white.

The two in white had loops of paper around their wrists.

An aluminum pot on a portable burner sat between the three of them.

The woman in the jacket was putting meat inside the pot.

“C’mon, Hajji-san. C’mon, Jord-san. If you don’t eat sukiyaki quickly, the meat gets too tough.”

“Yes.” The elderly man in white, Hajji, nodded and broke apart his chopsticks. “Are you sure you should be communicating with us every week like this, Ooki?”

Hajji saw some splinters on the break of the chopsticks and rubbed them together to smooth them down.

“To be honest, I have no intention of changing my stance as an enemy of Low-Gear. You know that, don’t you? Hm?”

“Well, there’s no helping that. We both have our parts to play here.”

“Then why have you been inviting us to eat with you each week for the past month and a half?”

“I’m not choosing you two specifically.”

Ooki smiled while taking some shirataki from the pot and rice from her bowl and putting them both in her mouth.

“In my financial situation, I can only invite two people once a week. When I say only two can come, the others confined down below always suggest you two go.”

She took a breath and swallowed the rice.

“Wow. It really is great getting to eat rice with it. …Anyway, it feels like the others either trust you or want you to eat instead of them.”

“I see.” Hajji nodded again. “It is true eating and chatting here is better than eating alone in that room I can never leave. Yes.”

“How about you, Jord-san?”

“Me?”

Jord slowly grabbed her chopsticks in her fist, jabbed them into the pot, and pulled out some meat.

However, the large hunk of meat broke apart as she lifted it and only a small piece remained.

“My betrayed expectations are really getting to show what they can do.”

She smiled bitterly and Ooki gave a troubled smile back.

Ooki then took some meat from a nearby plate and handed it to Jord.

Jord glanced at the other woman and lifted the corner of her mouth in a smile.

“Oh? You’re a pretty nice person. The food tastes better with someone like you around.”

“Then you must be a nice person too, Jord-san. Anyone who can enjoy a good meal is a good person.”

Ooki pulled out a charred green onion.

“Neither of you is a bad person.”

“Oh, really? That’s just your excessive kindness tricking you. We’re the enemies of this world.”

“But we eat the same food. …That means we can only live in the same kind of world. Oh, I just said something complicated for the first time in a while.”

“But food is entirely different from politics and emotions, Ooki. Both politicians and bad people still eat.”

Hajji poked around inside the bowl and his chopsticks came to a sudden stop.

“You put fried tofu in sukiyaki? That is certainly unusual. Yes.”

“It’s amazing if you let it soak up the soup and eat it with rice.”

Hajji saw that the fried tofu still had some yellow to it and pulled it all toward himself.

He then glanced around at the people in white armored uniforms sitting about two tables away.

“This is quite a peaceful meal. Yes. …But Ooki, what if we tried to escape? I expect some of those suggesting we eat with you are hoping we will take action.”

Hearing that, the surrounding people rose slightly from their seats.

Meanwhile, Jord gulped down the tea in her cup.

“We have paper bonds on our arms and legs and this entire underground space is controlled by a concept. If we tried to reach the surface without permission, the concept would send us back underground without us noticing. Of course, that kind of thing won’t work on us very well.”

The two prisoners’ words created a powerful aura that weighed down on the others, but one person seemed wholly unaffected.

That person was Ooki.

She calmly placed her favorite ingredients inside the pot.

“You two won’t try to escape. After all, you lost.”

The word “lost” chilled the cafeteria air a little.

Hajji and Jord slowly faced Ooki once more and the others prepared to react at a moment’s notice.

However, Ooki’s expression was as carefree as ever as she flipped over some meat.

“The others from your group are outside. And so are the Top-Gear people. …They retreated from that battle, but they haven’t lost yet. But if you or the others here met back up with them, you would bring your loss with you.”

She took a breath.

“Also, you’ve done what you can as the Army, so you want them to do what they can while not relying on your power.”

“You have quite the active imagination.”

“Ah ha ha. Maybe I do. But…”

“But?” urged Jord.

Ooki grabbed some meat with a smile.

It turned out to be a large piece, so she gave an excited cry. The other two defiantly grabbed their own large pieces from the plates next to them and threw them into the pot.

As that meat began to sizzle, Ooki broke an egg over hers.

She then gave the continuation to her previous “but”.

“They’re on the move, aren’t they? The people you trust are trying to find some kind of answer. After all, my students are doing the same, so there’s no way yours will stay still.”

“I see.” Hajji sighed and shrugged. “Mine are powerful.”

“Yes, but so are you. And Jord-san too.” Ooki gave a bitter smile. “It may not seem like it since you were captured, but Hajji-san pushed back Director Abram on the surface and made it all the way to the sixth basement. And then you defeated Director Abram again and you never would have been defeated if it hadn’t been for Shinjou-san and Sayama-kun’s power. …And Jord-san was the same. You wouldn’t have been defeated if it hadn’t been for Kazami-san.”

“I’m honored to have your praise. Yes.”

“Praise is surprisingly embarrassing.”

“Really?” asked Ooki with an embarrassed smile of her own.

She then continued her previous thought.

“The people who are on the move now earned the trust of people as strong as you, didn’t they?”

“Yes. But you seem very carefree about that assessment. Are you not afraid that the enemy is on the move?”

“The others will do what they want whether I’m afraid or not. Those kids wouldn’t listen even if I did try to stop them. And no matter which side wins, I think they’ll find some kind of answer, so I just want them to do everything they can and leave no regrets.”

She suddenly gave a questioning look.

“Is that wrong for a teacher?”

Hajji and Jord exchanged a glance but eventually looked back to Ooki.

The three of them leaned in toward each other over the pot.

“To be honest, we’re pretty much the same. We’re still your enemy and everything that comes from our mouths is going to come from our grudge against this world, but apart from that, we do have hope for the future that this fighting will create. So be careful.”

Hajji nodded and continued.

“The ones we trust will be taking this seriously. …I only hope your students are as well.”

Ooki nodded, raised her eyebrows a bit, and brought her hands to her chest.

“No need to worry about that.”

She took a breath.

“After all, I was the one to teach them.”

The cafeteria immediately filled with an explosion of protesting voices.


A road ran through the night.

The asphalt one-lane road passed through a residential area.

The houses were lit, but no voices could be heard within.

It was winter and the end of the year was approaching, so the windows were closed tight to keep in the heat and everything else.

Only the excess light escaped and a shadow moved through that light.

The shadow was cast by a motorcycle with a sidecar.

The motorcycle’s engine was silent because this was a residential area at night. The engine’s noise would reflect off the asphalt, reverberate through houses, and reach the ears of the people closed inside.

That was why two people pushed the motorcycle. One was a boy holding the handlebars from the right and the other was a girl pushing on the back of the sidecar from the left.

The boy looked back over his left shoulder.

“Are your hands cold, Mikage-san?”

“Nn. I’m fine, Ryuuji-kun. And we’re not far from home.”

“Is that so?”

Hiba nodded and faced forward again.

A certain thought about Mikage came to him as the chilly winter air washed over him.

She doesn’t just go with the flow anymore.

Until that summer, he had always been with her. But once the battle with 3rd-Gear ended and they joined UCAT, she had started acting on her own discretion more.

Did she want to use her own legs now that she could walk?

Did she want to be less of a burden on him?

Once Heo had joined them, Mikage had stayed with her quite a lot. He had once asked why.

“Because we’re similar,” she had answered with a tilt of the head.

He could see some of that as they pushed the motorcycle now. Both of the girls normally rode in the sidecar and they had both joined Team Leviathan after most of the others.

And they’re both part of the blonde genre!

He nodded in his heart and thought about asking her if she was cold.

“…”

But he decided against it.

He felt he was worrying too much and then wondered if feeling that way was in itself worrying too much.

So he opened his mouth and said something else instead.

“It’s a shame we never managed to open that barrier in the Study, isn’t it?”

The barrier had a wrist-sized hole on either side and they had found the inside was split into the shape of five fingers.

They could feel a dividing line at the wrist, so the inside of the hole was clearly made to turn.

However, neither of them would do so.

Hiba and Mikage had matched their timing perfectly, Izumo and Kazami had used all their strength, Harakawa and Heo had used some strange sort of effort, and Sayama and Shinjou had tried their best while Sayama said and did some odd things.

But they never turned.

They had originally been checking over the holes to make sure they were not a trap, but that had changed once Mikage had slowly stuck her hand inside one.

Hiba had frantically asked her if she was okay and she had answered with a smile.

“I’m fine, Ryuuji-kun. Nothing happened. So you try to turn the other one with me.”

“Of course!!!”

He had immediately thrust his hand inside and jammed three of his fingers because it was split between the fingers inside.

The others had quietly asked each other why he threw himself at things like that, but he did not care.

At any rate, he and Mikage had been unable to turn them.

Kazami and Izumo had used all their strength, but Kazami had immediately pulled out her hand.

“It’s no use. This is all about the initial burst of strength, right? If it doesn’t work then, it’s never going to work. Keeping at it will only hurt your wrist. …And I’ll break my nails.”

Harakawa and Heo had failed and Sayama and Shinjou had done no better.

Hiba had baselessly assumed Sayama and Shinjou would be able to do it.

They had discussed it afterwards and found that Sayama’s left hand and Shinjou’s right hand had been the closest fit to the shape inside. That had revealed that the left and right holes were different sizes inside.

However, the barrier would not open no matter how many times they tried.

Shinjou had said the following:

“Well, if it would open that easily, wouldn’t Sayama-kun’s mother have opened it?”

Kazami had added:

“It looks like you need something other than the best fit to get past Professor Kinugasa’s trick.”

And according to Sayama:

“It is hard to believe, but we may require a key in addition to the perfect fit that Shinjou-kun and I have.”

And…

“If my mother never opened it, that key must not be here. Professor Kinugasa had connections to the National Defense Department and the Izumo Company in general, so the possibilities are as limitless as the ever-expanding universe.”

In the end, they had left opening that barrier and retrieving Georgius as a task for later.

Fortunately, Georgius came from Professor Kinugasa, so it had no connection to Top-Gear or the other problems of the past. Sayama had decided they did not need to find it immediately.

However, one thing had bothered them. Heo had mentioned it to Sayama as they ended their meeting.

She had felt something odd about the sky in their dream of the past. She did not know what exactly it was, but that girl with the greatest connection to the sky had felt something off about Top-Gear’s sky. It was certainly worth keeping in mind.

Sayama-san and Shinjou-san are on their way to Izumo and Sakai. They’re searching for Shinjou-san’s mother’s past since it’s probably closely related to Top-Gear.

After thinking that far, Hiba returned his focus to his vision and his hands.

He spoke while pushing the motorcycle through the night with Mikage.

“Sayama-san and Shinjou-san are probably boarding their train right now.”

“Really?”

Mikage did not know much about trains. He doubted she even knew that the Chuo Line began at Tokyo Station.

“How about we take a train somewhere sometime soon?”

“Nn. Then…how about to UCAT?”

“Why that hellhole? And we go there all the time.”

“Nn. But never by train. Sayama and the others use the train, don’t they?”

That gave Hiba a thought.

If she learns how to get to UCAT by train…

She would be able to go there on her own.

He almost asked if that was what she wanted, but he stopped himself.

I keep stopping myself from asking things, he sighed n his heart.

Lately, Mikage had started doing a lot and helping with a lot, but she would sometimes surprise him by suddenly showing off her results. For example, when Heo had taught her to cook, she had brought him a completed meal after he returned from training or school. He had been surprised and happy that she could do so much, but he had also been bothered that he had not been a part of it.

We aren’t passing each other by, are we?

He firmly rejected that idea. That isn’t true, he told himself. If it was, she wouldn’t be pushing from behind.

And she wouldn’t offer to take a bath with me!

Yes, she had made that promise after leaving the medical room.

He accepted the bath as a fundamental truth.

She wanted to show him something she had not shown him recently, so he suspected something had changed in her mind or body.

I hope we can start taking baths together all the time again.

He decided to trust in her change, but he heard her voice from behind.

“I wonder if Sayama and Shinjou will be okay.”

“I’m sure they will. 8th-Gear’s Concept Core is below Izumo UCAT and they’ll return after a quick stop in Sakai. Apparently, they’ll be bringing 8th’s Concept Core with them.”

“I see.”

“Are you worried?”

“Nn,” she replied. “Because there are 3rd automatons at Izumo UCAT.”

“That’s right,” he said before turning a bitter smile toward her. “But if Sayama-san needed help, he would definitely tell us and he would never put Shinjou-san in danger.”

He saw Mikage looking at him.

“Nn.” She smiled. “That’s right.”

“Yes, it is.”

He nodded and thought to himself.

She’s so damn cute when she smiles!! What? What is this flavor in my heart! It’s sweet!?

But he hid those thoughts and faced forward.

They were almost home and that meant they were almost to the bath. That was fantastic.

But there was something he had to say.

“We need to make sure we don’t let our guard down either. We have 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core, so those automatons at Izumo UCAT might challenge us to a fight.”

He expected another “nn” in response, but he did not immediately receive one.

Assuming she was thinking, he waited a few seconds and finally got something in return.

The motorcycle handlebars shot forward and out of his grasp.

“!?”

He could only imagine Mikage had given a powerful shove to the sidecar.

“Mikage-san!?”

When he turned around, he saw Mikage collapsed on the back of the sidecar.


Hiba looked to Mikage who lay on top of the sidecar.

Did she trip?

But that idea was immediately overturned.

Something had appeared on the back of her right shoulder.

“A knife…”

The blade looked about fifteen centimeters long and it had a black grip.

It was sticking up from her clothing as if it had been stopped by her shoulder blade.

Wondering who had done this, Hiba strained his ears for any sign of the enemy, but he found nothing.

He knew it was dangerous, but he turned around and ran toward Mikage.

“Nn…”

She let out a quiet voice and tried to get up.

That action added color to the clothing at the base of the knife.

Even in the night, the dark color was impossible to miss. That color was the proof that Mikage was human.

“Mikage-san! Don’t move! You’ll only widen the wound!”

But she still tried to get up. It was as if she were trying to show him she was fine.

A moment later, Hiba sensed a presence behind him.

“————!!”

He swung his right hand on reflex.

The palm of that hand immediately grabbed something: the guard of a knife.

He looked down to see the black grip of a knife extending from his palm.

And the blade of the knife was extending from the back of his hand.

“…!”

Someone had thrown the knife and he had stabbed it into his own hand, but he had no regrets. If he had not done that, it would have pierced the left side of Mikage’s back.

He clenched his teeth to bear with the cold, penetrating pain and he pulled the knife out.

“Mikage-san.”

He turned back around and leaned over Mikage’s back to protect her and push her down as she tried to get up.

“…Nn.”

He tried to remove the knife from her shoulder, but in that instant, he saw something.

As she lay collapsed on the sidecar and faced forward, a certain emotion filled her face.

It was surprise.

“Ryuuji-kun! In front!”

He looked in the indicated direction and saw the color silver approaching.

But this was not another knife. It was thicker and longer.

He also saw someone holding it.

They stood in front of the sidecar and swung down the Japanese sword.

“Tatsumi!?”

Tatsumi’s black combat coat fluttered around her and her left arm sent down the blade with enough speed to escape the wind.

“It’s been a while. …Don’t tell me you thought 3rd’s automatons were the only opponents you had to watch out for.”

With instantaneous speed, she rushed forward without hesitation.

“Top-Gear still intends to fight you.”

Hiba was filled with as much surprise as Mikage had been and that slowed everything down.

In the three-beat sequence of perception, understanding, and reaction, he ended up a definite step slower than Tatsumi.

Her attack was targeting him.

But even if he avoided the sword, it would reach Mikage below him.

After considering using the knife to strike her just as she struck him, he reached a certain answer.

He chose to protect something more important than himself.

“…!”

He completely covered Mikage from above.

He would protect her no matter what happened.

She had a blade in her back as she tried to get up. That foreign object would prevent her from joining with Susamikado and it meant she could not use her full strength.

So he embraced her from behind.

He felt her body jump in surprise.

“Ryuuji-kun!?”

She cried out in confusion and she seemed to have realized what he intended to do and what Tatsumi’s actions would cause.

She knew he was trying to protect her no matter what happened to him in the process.

He felt her breathe in and then…

“Susamikado!!”

Her ringing voice called in the pieces of that steel power.


It all occurred in a series of instants.

A black god of war appeared behind Mikage and Hiba.

Metallic sounds filled the air, the pieces of its body fit together, and its metal left fist shot forward.

Tatsumi did not stop her sword, so its tip collided with Susamikado’s fist.

However, three things happened then.

First, it produced no sound whatsoever.

Second, Tatsumi remained standing and was not knocked backwards.

And third, Susamikado’s fist was stopped by the tip of her sword.

An attack from a god of war standing nearly ten meters tall could not break the tip of that sword.

Tatsumi simply pulled back her left elbow a bit and gently reversed her wrist.

Mikage opened her eyes wide and gasped at the scene before her eyes.

“It can’t be,” she muttered.

“Mikage-chan, don’t look so surprised.” Tatsumi smiled. “You actually did pretty well to make me pull back my elbow.”

Tatsumi had absorbed the force of Susamikado’s blow with just the movement of her left arm and the sword and she now raised her right hand.

After she inhaled and snapped her fingers, something appeared behind her.

It was Typhon.

The white god of war broke through the wind blowing down from the heavens, but it landed silently on the asphalt.

That god of war possessed the name of the storm dragon in Greek mythology and it drew a sword from its right shoulder.

It was coming, so two powers worked to fight back.

One was Hiba as he lay over Mikage. He threw the knife in his hand toward Tatsumi.

The other was Mikage as she ignored the pain in her right shoulder. She raised her right arm and…

“Keravnos!”

They worked in perfect unison.

Tatsumi would have to break her remote control of Typhon to brush aside the knife with her right arm and that would stop Typhon just long enough for Susamikado to use Keravnos as it appeared on its right arm.

Tatsumi chose to prioritize her own life and she grabbed the knife with her right hand.

Immediately afterwards, a heavy metallic sound rang out and the tip of Keravnos collided with Typhon’s unmoving chest.

With a crash of destruction, the spear of light pierced through the white giant’s chest and out the back.

White armor scattered through the air and an oil-like black liquid splattered everywhere.

After confirming the damage to Typhon, Hiba jumped forward.

He intended to attack Tatsumi.

He kicked off the edge of the sidecar and leaped above her head.

He pulled up his right leg so he could jab it down at Tatsumi as he fell.

“…!”

He gave a yell, but one thing still bothered him.

Is this how she intends to settle things!?

He had fought countless matches against her when she attended the Hiba Dojo under the name Miki.

She had excelled at turning aside and defending against attacks, so he had never once hit her.

However, he could manage it with his current timing.

He had jumped past the sword in her left hand and her right hand had just caught the knife.

He opened his mouth wide to brush aside his slight hesitation.

“This fight is already over! This one-sided and meaningless fight doesn’t need to continue!”

He prepared to launch his right leg attack.

But just before he did, he saw an odd movement and heard an odd sound.

He saw Tatsumi suddenly let go of what she was holding.

She let go of the knife in her right hand and even the sword in her left.

“What?”

As he wondered what this meant, he heard her speak.

“That’s right. I never told you the reason why you should fight me.”

There’s no reason for that, he immediately thought.

He was her fake, but that was her reason and it meant nothing to him.

But she continued to speak as he made his kick.

“When the enemy invaded Top-Gear, I was the one who drove your father to his death.”

“…!?”

“In other words, I killed Hiba Ryuuichi, your father”

A moment later, he saw two things.

First, the fingers of Tatsumi’s right hand moved slightly.

And second, a giant white fist flew toward him.

“How can Typhon still move after that hit from Keravnos!?”

Regardless, the uppercut performed by Typhon’s right fist said all that needed to be said about its functioning state.

Hiba reflexively put up his guard, but the giant metal fist crashed into him as if to say his defenses were meaningless.


She had outdone him.

Several thoughts and decisions came to Hiba, but none of them produced words.

It seemed he was collapsed on the asphalt.

More than doubled over, he seemed to be bent into a Z-shape.

A few bones were broken, his muscles were trembling from the shock, and he was pretty sure he had torn some of those muscles.

However, he felt no pain and he had no sense of equilibrium. His vision wavered and was wet with tears.

He could neither inhale nor exhale, but his pulse raced and his vision grew dark from lack of oxygen.

But even as he fell into darkness, he turned his trembling gaze forward.

“No, Ryuuji-kun! Don’t get up!”

He could see Mikage who was sitting up while holding her right shoulder and he saw a white god of war beyond her.

The black god of war’s left arm and Keravnos were still pierced through Typhon’s chest, but it was still moving.

How can…it move?

He heard Tatsumi’s voice as he trembled and forced himself up, starting with his butt.

“You don’t get it? Typhon doesn’t need a cockpit in the chest when it’s remote controlled, so I had it hollowed out as much as possible. …Surprised?”

Hiba was unable to response.

He simply swayed up and down, trembled left and right, and tried to stand.

“Ryuuji-kun!”

He could not respond to Mikage’s voice either. Instead, Tatsumi said more.

Her affected tone of voice made it clear she knew perfectly well he could not answer.

“Oh, dear. Keravnos seems to be stuck.”

She raised her left hand and Typhon forcefully raised its own left hand.

As it rose, the inside of the bent elbow scooped up the elbow of Susamikado’s extended right arm. That very same arm still had Keravnos inside Typhon.

“I expect you’ll have reinforcements before long, so I’ll be leaving.”

Her words were accompanied by the sound of something breaking.

Susamikado’s right elbow broke upwards and Keravnos was removed.

“…!”

Hiba’s wavering vision saw Mikage’s right arm jump up.

That arm was bent ninety degrees at the elbow. And it was bent the wrong way.

He distinctly heard her gasp.

Unable to hold on any longer, Hiba’s vision moved forward as if tripping.

That was when his thoughts fully restarted. It was slow and awkward, but he was thinking.

I have to go.

He did not know where or to do what. All he saw was a single charm placed on Keravnos as it stabbed into Typhon.

“Goodbye, Ryuuji-kun, Mikage-chan.”

With Tatsumi’s parting words, Typhon spread its wings.

She was going to escape, but Hiba’s vision simply continued forward while shaking to the left and right.

I have to go.

“No!”

He heard Mikage’s trembling voice. He turned toward her and saw she was looking his way.

She’s crying?

Why? he wondered. Oh, right, he realized.

Does your broken arm hurt?

I’m sorry, he thought. I’m sorry, but I’m about to go protect you.

He did not entirely understand. He did not entirely understand any of this.

A certain girl had been close to him long ago and he had treated her like his sister, but she had just said something strange.

She had claimed to have killed his father.

That was a lie. He knew it had to be a lie. That strong, strange, and perverted father could never have been killed.

He had to find out the truth.

And I have to protect Mikage-san.

He was only six meters from where Mikage had landed. That felt like such a great distance and he kept feeling his knees just about give out, but he still continued forward.

“Mikage-san.”

Something fell to the ground below his feet. It was not sweat. It was thicker than that and it was a dark red.

But, he thought. Mikage-san is in a much worse state.

He passed between Susamikado’s legs and his vision darkened as he reached out toward Mikage.

He wanted to take her hand, pull her close, embrace her, and protect her in every way possible.

But suddenly, he realized he had stopped moving.

Huh?

Strange, he thought.

His vision had not fallen yet and he should still be dragging his trembling legs forward.

Why? he wondered just before noticing what was stopping him.

A point of force was pushing back at the top of his chest.

That force had a short blade and a black grip.

It was a knife.

Tatsumi had thrown what he had thrown back at her and it had stabbed into the center of his sternum.

“Ah…”

I need to go forward, he thought, but his legs would not move.

He felt a weight in his knees and his vision dropped down.

His knees bent and reached the ground. He stretched his hand out toward Mikage, but it could not reach her.

However, that hand suddenly did reach her.

She stretched her left hand back toward him and their hands touched.

Eh?

He looked up at her and saw her eyes were closed.

She was collapsing.

Was it the pain in her right arm? he wondered before seeing a certain color.

Dark red was seeping from her neck.

He looked up as she collapsed and the sky came into view.

With the dark winter sky in the background, a single giant sword split the heavens.

It was the sword in Typhon’s right arm.

The tip of the sword pierced accurately through Susamikado’s chest and neck. The blood on Mikage’s chest came from her synchronization with the god of war.

A moment later, her body struck Hiba’s.

A creaking sound came from his body as her broken right arm hit the knife stabbed into his chest and pulled it out.

As soon as he held her in his arms, he exhaled.

He let out the breath he had been holding this entire time.

“Kah!”

He expelled a mist of blood and carbon dioxide.

He felt the warmth of his and Mikage’s blood on his chest.

His vision grew dark as he looked up into the sky.

Unable to support Mikage, he began to collapse backwards.

His upturned eyes saw Susamikado vanish.

The black giant instantly disappeared and Typhon’s sword returned to the bottom edge of his vision.

Meanwhile, he tried to stop the blood flowing from Mikage’s chest by holding her tight in his arms and he heard a voice.

“Thank you, Ryuuji-kun, Mikage-chan.”

He heard a breath.

“Thank you…for being so weak.”

“…!”

Just as a thought reached his mind, Hiba hit the asphalt with Mikage in his arms.

The impact shook his entire body, the back of his head struck the asphalt, and tears fell from his eyes.

He realized that Tatsumi’s presence and Typhon’s presence were gone.

He stared motionlessly into the night sky and cried as his vision fell into darkness.

“Kh…”

Still embracing Mikage’s unmoving body and still looking into the sky, his mind also sank into darkness.


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