Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 20
Chapter 20: How to Speak of the End
It has a beautiful appearance
It brings emotional collapse
That is why you want to hear about it
And to learn about it
Kazami and Izumo had planned to stay in Japanese UCAT for the night, so they were the first to learn Hiba had been carried to the medical room after his battle with Atsuta.
They had left the school and the year-end festival with Ooki and rushed inside Japanese UCAT while still wearing their school uniforms.
“So what do you think, Chisato? A small fry should really just run off after getting beat.”
“This small fry has a heroine. When she isn’t watching is exactly when he needs to show some real guts.”
“Is that how it works?” asked Izumo as he came to a stop in a white underground corridor. The medical room’s door opened at the press of a button, so they entered and continued to a row of beds in one corner.
“A man in black.”
Someone in black stood before one of the beds.
When he noticed them, he turned around. He had the narrow eyes and black hair of someone from continental Asia.
However, he gave a light bow before they could say anything.
“I quickly put together some treatment for him. I wanted to at least help him come to.”
“Who are you?”
Kazami and Izumo partially put up their guard and the man took a step forward.
The next thing they knew, he had passed by them.
Kazami also noticed her own hand was casually holding a business card.
Behind her, she heard the door opening and a voice.
“Please understand that Chinese UCAT has no intention of being your enemy.”
Kazami checked the name on the business card.
“Are you Doctor Chao’s-…?”
“It is a common surname in my country. That may be why we like to think of each other as one big family. …Anyway, please take care of the rest. If you need anything, feel free to ask. My country believes great and talented individuals are born in every land and we hope to continue an amicable relationship as the neighbor with the longest history in the world.”
Kazami heard the door close and footsteps moving down the corridor.
The only people left were Izumo, Kazami, and the bandaged individual sleeping on the bed before them.
“Hiba… You’ve been pretty manly for two days in a row now.”
The boy with a thin cloth placed over him instead of a blanket slowly opened his eyes.
His left arm was encased in a cast from the shoulder down and his right arm had an IV in it. His entire body was wrapped in charms and bandages, but the scrapes and the like had been ignored and all of the treatment was focused on the major injuries, be they external or internal.
He let out a quiet breath.
“Did I win?”
“Mikage was taken to the development department and she’s apparently secured to a bed there.”
“Wow.” Hiba gave a troubled smile, but his pain filled it with bitterness. “I can’t be with her just yet, can I?”
He laughed, but it sounded like coughing as he shook with pain.
He looked up at and spoke to Kazami who sighed to express her relief.
“I need to thank you two.”
“Why? It’s really creepy when you say that so suddenly. Did we do anything worth thanking us for?”
Kazami frowned in confusion.
“Ahhhh,” he said quietly. “You don’t know?”
He looked up at his two frowning upperclassmen.
“It’s about something perverted.”
Both boy and girl slammed a fist into the badly-injured patient.
“Ah, wait! No, no! Don’t hit me like that! I’m gonna bleed!”
They ignored him and continued the moderate barrage, but a sudden voice reached them from behind.
“Oh, dear. You certainly are full of energy.”
It was a female voice. They had heard it countless times, but they still replied with a question.
Kazami turned around and found the woman standing by the wall in a suit.
Kazami faced her.
“Are you here to punch this idiot?”
“C-can’t you at least ask if she’s here to visit me, Kazami-san!?”
“You be quiet,” she snapped back before crossing her arms toward Diana.
She began wondering why the woman was here, but she quickly corrected that line of thinking.
…The answer is pretty obvious.
It was simple.
What was happening to them now? And what was happening around them?
Sayama and Shinjou had contacted them to say they had finished the Leviathan Road with 8th-Gear and had reached Sakai.
Harakawa had gone to the base and Heo had taken the 4th-Gear creature to visit Harakawa’s mother.
The common factor among them all was their preparation for the confrontation with Top-Gear and their search for the past.
Even if one tried to hide the past from them, they would not give up or back away.
Given that, why would Diana have come to them?
Kazami boldly looked straight ahead to face Diana head-on.
“For the moment, we’ve dealt with the fights 1st, 2nd, and 6th have picked with us. Heo will do something about 4th and Sayama called to say the negotiation with 8th is complete. All we’re waiting for is 3rd and Top-Gear.” She tapped the floor with the tips of her toes. “We’re also preparing to face Top-Gear.”
“And? What about it?”
Diana tilted her head and smiled, so Kazami showed her teeth in a smile of her own.
“I think it’s about time we heard what happened in the past.”
Kazami went on to sit on Hiba’s bed. She ignored the grunt of pain from behind her, placed an arm on the bed, and asked what she needed to ask without looking away from Diana.
She believed that this woman wanted her to ask this.
“What happened in that battle with Top-Gear?”
“Do you really think I’m going to tell you that?”
“Then why are you here?” Kazami shrugged. “This is the medical room. You don’t have to hide the painful things in here.”
“Even if I have already swallowed that pain?”
“Then you need a good doctor. A doctor that hopes to reach a place beyond where the patient is. …A doctor who will tell us the illness is no longer painful to them.”
Kazami kept her gaze flat as she spoke.
“We will oppose Top-Gear. Obligation to the past, concern for what we’ll be standing against, warnings, and a conscience have nothing to do with it. We decided to oppose Top-Gear, so we’ll do it. …We won’t stop just because you stay silent.”
“Even if that opposition will strip this Gear of a great many of its rights?”
“Either way, Top-Gear is going to start a fight in some way or another. To put it another way…”
Kazami chose her words carefully.
“The Concept War has yet to end for Low-Gear. …And yet you care so much for the past that you want to believe it’s already over. You think sealing away the past will bring an end to the fighting and keep us from losing anyone else.”
She took a breath.
“You’re in the way, Diana. The time for peace is over. No, it was never here in the first place. You simply turned a blind eye while your enemies never forgave you. So…”
“Give us back your time, Diana.”
Kazami swung her legs forward and used the reactionary force to stand up.
The bed slid back and hit the next bed over and Hiba gave another cry of pain, but she paid it no heed.
“Connect your time to our time. Simple, isn’t it? We haven’t reached the peaceful afterschool hours yet. We’ve fallen behind in the lessons, so you just have to show us your notes. We’ll think for ourselves on the test. And then we too will see who has left the classroom and isn’t coming back.”
Kazami held out her palm as if to receive something and held it up high.
“If you have yet to graduate from the fight and you think we’re worthy of being your underclassmen, then show us your notes.”
The evening light washed over a hill from the left.
The right side of the hill was a cement-covered slope and the left side contained a line of houses bordering a cliff.
The scarlet light passed between or over the houses to shine on the hill and the people who stood there.
Currently, that was two people.
Shinjou walked ahead and Sayama followed from a half step behind.
Shinjou carried the Messenger of Wanambi on her head and she read a letter as she climbed the hill.
The letter was from her mother and sent to Sayama’s parents. It was one of those they had found in the Kinugasa Library’s Study the night before.
They were able to read the letters now that they had entered Sakai, so she was doing just that.
…My mom sent this here after moving to Top-Gear.
The text said nothing about why Shinjou Yukio had gone there.
According to Hajji, Top-Gear had invited her. They had wanted her to create a place for Low-Gear in Top-Gear.
The letter mentioned that she had been invited.
But it did not say what Shinjou Yukio herself had wanted out of it.
It only gave the result.
“I came to Top-Gear.”
Another letter said the following:
“I am sure UCAT would be able to create that facility based on the concept creation theory I made. But as I’m sure you have noticed, I modified a lot of the theory. Asagi-kun, specifically because you know a certain amount about it, I doubt you will be able to make it. I’m sorry.”
Shinjou Yukio mentioned that she had committed herself to defying Low-Gear, but Shinjou tilted her head.
…I’m just not feeling it.
Something about Shinjou Yukio’s actions did not sit well with her.
It just did not seem like her to have opposed Low-Gear.
After investigating it all this far, Shinjou had come up with three mysteries that could explain why she felt that way.
First, what was the truth behind the three things that her mother had claimed Top-Gear feared?
Second, why had her mother gone to Top-Gear after discovering those things?
And third, why was Sayama Asagi unable to create the concept creation theory once her mother had modified it?
While thinking about those three things, she was able to make a certain guess.
…Because she knew what it was Low-Gear had, she may have realized Low-Gear had an advantage and decided to defect to Top-Gear.
That was the third thing besides Babel and the Biblical mythology.
“Something Low-Gear has and yet does not have.”
…What if that was something important enough to decide who would win?
Had her mother realized what it was, feared its power, and defected? And had she left the modified concept creation theory to rob Low-Gear of its means of fighting so she could guide Low-Gear to Top-Gear?
That line of thinking seemed reasonable enough.
But it still did not sit well with her. This was nothing but her intuition, but…
…Was my mom that kind of person?
She had taken her information with her to the enemy and not even left her creation behind. That was a purely hostile act and showed her allegiance to the enemy.
The word “harsh” entered Shinjou’s mind, but it did not sound right to her.
She suddenly recalled two photographs of the past.
In one, her young mother wore a school uniform below a cherry tree and gave a smile with real strength behind it. In the other, she gave a weak smile while leaving on a trip.
To apply the word “harsh”…
…I have to think about a version of my mother that doesn’t fit either of those smiles.
But she still had nothing to reject that word. It was a fact that her mother had seemingly opposed Low-Gear.
And now, Shinjou was reading a letter from her. It began with Shinjou Yukio living in a house she was given in Top-Gear’s Sakai.
It did not ask for a response and it mostly talked about everyday life and her job.
“In this world, I act as a concept creation theory advisor. However, I gave them the same documents I gave Asagi-kun and they too are attempting to construct a concept creation theory. It makes me feel a little cruel, but I want to see the people of this world create a concept creation facility under their own power. I also wish I could have brought the Messengers of Wanambi with me. The work here is tough.
“When they show up to ask for my advice or ask about Low-Gear’s culture and civilization, I try to speak with them. That may be why people have started coming to my house to talk. At first, it was only important people, but now researchers, students, and even the neighborhood children and old folks will show up. The UCAT here pays me as a visiting advisor, but I have used that money to prepare a large reception hall which is now open. It has a small table and chairs for the children and even an organ.
“The house is in the same place as the Sakai orphanage I used to live in and I’m wondering if I can eventually make it into a church. If I did, it would be this world’s very first church.”
Shinjou got the feeling that her mother had been enjoying herself.
She felt that was very like her mother, but that created another strong sense that something was wrong.
That sense once more came from what Hajji and the others had said about her mother.
There were some things she simply could not sense in this letter.
…Guilt and hostility.
Shinjou Yukio was acting like she had gone to Top-Gear as an evangelist. She showed no sign of guilt over her decision and she was telling those back home how much she was enjoying herself.
Shinjou could tell this was the strong smile, not the forced one.
Nothing in the letter had been rewritten and the ballpoint pen writing was smooth.
Shinjou’s experience from handwriting page after page of plot for her novel told her that her mother had really been into writing this.
Shinjou pulled out the next letter.
It described everyday life, such as how she would meet with people from Top-Gear’s UCAT and from her neighborhood to discuss Low-Gear’s Biblical mythology.
“It seems only children have the ability to sing a hymn without a care in the world.”
She said some of the adults would avoid the hymns as the “songs of the enemy”.
…What is this?
Shinjou had noticed something odd, but she was not sure what. Shinjou Yukio had supposedly been trying to guide Low-Gear to Top-Gear, so why was she teaching Top-Gear about the Bible and hymns before Low-Gear’s culture?
The next letter talked about work.
And it began unexpectedly.
“I have so much trouble with this world’s version of me.”
Eh? thought Shinjou as she came to a stop.
For Shinjou Yukio, “this world’s version of me” would be the male Shinjou Yukio.
And he was supposedly Shinjou’s father.
She had a single reason for the confusion that stopped her climb up the hill.
…She has trouble with him?
A moment later, Sayama almost toppled forward as he ran into her and wrapped his arms around her.
“Ah, y-you stopped so suddenly Shinjou-kun. I could not help but bump into you and… Ah! My hands just so happened to fall on your chest.”
He was annoying, so she raised her right heel and stomped on his toes.
“Nwohhh!” he shouted behind her. “Heh…heh heh. Even your heel feels wonderful, Shinjou-kun. But I would prefer it if you were more honest with yourself.”
She honestly ignored him and looked back to the letter. Um, she thought while refocusing her thoughts.
…I can’t understand this without switching to serious mode.
She breathed out and started back up the hill as she lowered her gaze to the letter.
The sun has gotten lower in the sky, she realized.
…But what did she mean when she said she has trouble with my dad?
The words continued as if to answer her.
“He was researching concept creation while developing weapons, so he was doing both my job and Asagi-kun’s job all on his own.”
Her father must have gone to speak with her mother as a member of Top-Gear’s UCAT.
“He always asks for my assistance. He is quite serious about it, but that’s why I have so much trouble with him.”
That was the last time the letter mentioned her father and the enthusiasm behind the words changed there.
“When I peeked inside UCAT I saw alternate versions of a lot of different people. I saw people I assume were alternate versions of Asagi-kun and Yume-san. They were developing concept weapons and philosopher’s stones. Also, Thunderson-san is a woman in this world and her husband is in the air force. In this world, Hiba-san develops mechanical dragons.”
The letter also mentioned that Top-Gear truly did not have a version of Babel.
It was mentioned casually, so Shinjou briefly looked up from the letter.
The top of the hill was a long way off, but the gate was visible.
She still had a few letters left, but she guessed this would be the last one she could read before reaching the orphanage.
…I can take a break after we get there.
She looked back down and read that her mother had made the church she wanted.
“I gathered the necessary funds and made a church. It was mostly financed by someone using the name ‘The Pair’s Daddy-Long-Legs’. They must be a very nice person. It even has a concert hall and a director lives in a detached house to manage the place. I need to thank the god that did not exist in this world but will soon be created here.”
Shinjou remembered the past scene of Shinjou Yukio on a snowy night she had seen in the Kinugasa Library’s Study. The woman had been in a park and it had contained a building Shinjou had assumed was an orphanage.
…That was what my mom had built in Top-Gear.
Was that building the same as the orphanage that slept below the earth after it had collapsed?
Had she created an original in Top-Gear or had she copied Low-Gear?
“What kind of world was Top-Gear for my mom?”
Curious about that, she looked up the hill, but then Sayama spoke to her from behind.
“Speaking of that, Heo-kun said something felt off about Top-Gear’s sky, didn’t she?”
“Oh, yeah. She did, didn’t she?”
Heo had indeed said something felt off about the sky.
She said Osaka’s sky had seemed awfully dark from the snowy orphanage.
And during the past of Osaka’s destruction, she said the stars had suddenly become visible from behind the dark clouds.
“Shinjou Yukio must have seen the source of that feeling when she stood here in Sakai.”
Sayama sounded like he knew the answer, so Shinjou turned back toward him.
Before she could ask what he meant, she heard him speak and saw motion.
“Shinjou-kun, do you remember what Tamiya Shino-kun said? She gave the name of Top-Gear’s concept creation facility. It was a name associated with the ark of Biblical mythology. …That name was Noah.”
As if responding to his words, Baku rose up on Sayama’s head.
The creature seemed to be taking some kind of stance as he faced the spot where Shinjou had once cried.
Baku was looking past the site of the collapse.
In an instant, the scenery changed.
She did not feel like she was falling into a dream of the past like before. The dotted sky was quickly swapped out with another scene.
…The blue sky!
It was a summer sky.
A woman stood in front of a church building situated on the edge of a cliff.
She had her back to Shinjou, the blue sky was visible beyond the cliff, a city stretched on below, and the ocean lay beyond that.
A sort of shadow was visible in Osaka’s sky to the north.
A massive object that had to measure over fifteen kilometers from east to west floated above Osaka.
At first, Shinjou was not sure what it was.
She could visually comprehend what she was seeing, but she had yet to fully grasp the situation.
It was a boat.
It was an aerial ship surrounded by a white outer shell and it was large enough to produce clouds when its surface collided with the air.
This was Noah.
The woman standing below the summer sky was looking to that city-sized ark.
And Shinjou came to a sudden understanding.
…This is what seemed off to Heo!
It made sense now. On the night of the destruction, it had been this ark hiding the sky, not dark clouds. The stars had become visible because the ship had moved.
And on that snowy night they had seen in the Kinugasa Library, it had been this ark and not the snow clouds darkening Osaka’s sky.
…In that case…
During the battle in Top-Gear’s Osaka, Sayama’s father and the others had been making their way toward Noah, Top-Gear’s UCAT had likely used Noah as their base, and if the negative concepts had gone out of control inside Noah, Shinjou’s mother would have been there too.
…Was Noah the true scene of the final battle!?
The past did not answer her shouted question.
But it did move. Shinjou’s mother turned toward her.
The woman’s long hair and skirt fluttered in the sunlight.
Shinjou gasped as her expression came into view.
It was a weak smile.
And Shinjou Yukio opened her mouth to speak with the smiling blue sky and Noah behind her.
“Unfortunately, I can’t give you my absolute cooperation. I believe I made that clear when I defected. I said I would keep my assistance to the bare minimum to help preserve Top-Gear’s dignity.”
She was speaking past Shinjou, which meant…
…There’s someone behind me?
Shinjou could turn around just by thinking here, so she did so as if spinning on her heel and she faced the same direction as her mother.
Behind her, she saw someone in a lab coat standing in the center of the sunny summer park.
It was a slender man with his black hair tied back behind his neck. The eyes behind his glasses were fairly sharp.
“So you will not assist us?”
Despite his words, his tone made it clear he had fully expected this.
However, Shinjou noticed a nametag on the chest of his lab coat.
…Noah Concept Development Department Director – Shinjou Yukio.
She did not immediately think of this as her father. He was not yet in that position here, and…
…My mom said she had trouble with him.
When he turned around, a sudden thought came to Shinjou: perhaps he was the same.
And the female Yukio’s voice shouted after the lab coat.
“There are some who understand what I’m doing. I was able to build this church…and even a concert hall. This was all thanks to the kind donations of many people. So…so my answer will not change no matter how many times you come here. I handed over my documents and I listened to what you had to say, but I cannot provide absolute cooperation. No matter how many times you come here while pretending to understand what I’m doing, my answer will not change. It won’t!”
Her voice pursued him, but the lab coat did not turn around and his departing legs did not stop.
As if taking his place, several footsteps and voices entered through the gate into the park.
They belonged to children.
They were led by a kindergarten teacher and they ran toward Shinjou as if flooding through the gate.
Countless voices filled the park, greetings were exchanged, and Shinjou’s father slipped out to the side of the gate so as not to be in the way. He then began walking to the city below, with his back to Shinjou.
Shinjou looked past the remaining woman and the arriving children and she watched him leave.
…That’s my dad?
She understood that both her parents had their own point of view based on their positions.
Her mother wanted to work as an advisor while providing an understanding of Low-Gear by spreading the Biblical mythology. Her father wanted her help for the coming final battle.
…He’s serious, so she has trouble with him.
Maybe they’re both that way, she realized.
In an instant, the past switched over.
It was primarily the color that switched over.
The heavens transformed from the blue sky into a dark red sky.
In other words, it transformed from a peaceful summer to the night of destruction.
Destruction filled the sky, dark clouds covered the earth, and the gaps in the clouds gave glimpses of the color red filling the surface.
Lightning flashed atop the dark clouds and the heavens above were in motion.
The starry ceiling was twisting and distorting.
Sayama’s mind looked to that distortion.
…Is the world growing negative!?
With this land at the center, the world was being compressed from the edges until it vanished.
Most likely, he qualified to himself. The people of this world and all other life here are being destroyed.
This was not like the other Gears that had fallen to the negative side after losing their concepts. This world was still supported by its concepts, but it had grown negative as if turning everything inside-out. In that instant, all things in that world would have grown negative and vanished without time to suffer.
Anything that managed to retain its form would be annihilated once its destruction ratio grew too high and there was only one way anyone had survived.
…The people who had resistant philosopher’s stones from other Gears.
That would be the people who had survived the first impact of negativity inside facilities like Noah.
As the deluge of negativity assaulted Top-Gear, Noah still existed.
The giant white boat seemed to sink into the dark clouds.
Above, within, and directly below the clouds, mechanical dragons darted about and witches flew on metal brooms.
On the surface below, people in armored uniforms clashed and exchanged attacks of various powers.
Sayama’s viewpoint allowed him to look down on it all.
But his mind suddenly picked up speed as if being swept away.
What? he wondered just before realizing what provided his footing. It was a mechanical dragon. His mind stood on the blue back armor and two nostalgic forms accompanied him there.
They wore white armored uniforms and tore through the wind as the dragon flew.
The woman crouched down as if clinging to the mechanical dragon’s armor.
“A-chan! Standing up like that is dangerous!!”
“I agree, Yume-san, but there is simply too much I have to see.”
The man, Asagi, brushed up his hair and faced forward.
Noah was visible between the clouds and the massive ark resembled a floating island.
The mechanical dragon emitted a voice from within the roaring wind.
“Asagi, I’m going to get in close once to determine the exact point and the air currents. I’ll let you off on the second approach.”
“Testament. Please do. And make sure you all prepare for the reverse seal. I will definitely be back.”
“Testament,” replied the dragon. “I’m sure Itaru is managing the preparations.”
“He pushes himself too hard. I kind of wish we hadn’t brought him along.”
Yume tugged on Asagi’s sleeve and frowned.
“You were the one that decided to do that, A-chan. Half the responsibility lies with you.”
“I know. Testament. Understood. And…”
Sayama heard a certain statement leave his father’s mouth.
“I will bear the responsibility for destroying this world.”
…So it is true.
Those words brought a sensation of pain to his chest.
Just as Hajji had said, his father had destroyed Top-Gear. His father himself had just admitted it.
When we face Top-Gear, I cannot let myself look away from this truth, he swore to himself and thus accepted it.
He then noticed that his mother was still tugging on his father’s sleeve.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay on your own, A-chan? Will you really bring her back? Will you bring Yukio back to Low-Gear?”
There was a slight tremble in her voice.
“And will you bring Yukio’s child back, too?”
Asagi faced his wife, nodded once, and smiled.
“Yes,” he said. “Don’t worry. I’ll bring everyone back. And all before Mikoto wakes up.”
Sayama’s mind gasped just as the mechanical dragon spoke again.
“I appreciate the show of familial love, but we’re about to the party hall. Can you see it, Asagi? If the surface says ‘caution’ in the Osaka dialect, then place your arm at your side and swing it outwards for a tsukkomi salute.”
“Why do you of all people know about that kind of local custom?”
Meanwhile, Sayama’s vision made a great leap. The dragon had flown upwards as if making a jump.
In only an instant, he experienced an endless series of movement.
The dragon twisted to the right, used the motion to fly into the clouds, and slipped through a group of enemy mechanical dragons.
Bursting shells placed blossoming fire in the air, charms thrown by his mother deflected enemy shots, and his father faced straight ahead.
Without time to catch their breath, they left the clouds, left the wind, and approached a great white barrier.
It was Noah.
That manmade ark hung motionless in the sky like a wall.
The dragon flew just off its surface and ascended. Its acceleration left behind the pursuing enemy dragons as it flew into the sky. It flew into the heavens where Noah was no longer visible.
In that instant, Sayama looked in the same direction as his father and realized something.
Below them, someone stood beyond a large window on the top level of Noah.
It was the two Shinjous in lab coats with a white automaton behind them.
“A-chan! That was…!”
“I know! Hurry, Thunderson! Hurry, family of thunder!”
Sayama’s father turned back toward Noah, wrinkled his brow, and opened his mouth for a shout of protest.
“Those waiting for a villain are within the unwanted ark!”
The man’s voice rang out as Sayama was thrown into the sky of the past.
His vision instantly grew dark and he began to awaken to the present.
During that process, he thought.
…Shinjou-kun’s parents had separated themselves so much, so why were they together?
And how had his father and the others destroyed that world?
There were so many questions and he was sure he would only find more. He reached his left hand out toward the darkness. It appeared empty, but reality awaited him beyond it.
He was certain he would gain something important there.
Meanwhile in American UCAT at Yokota, the dream sand gave Harakawa a dream of the battle in Top-Gear’s Osaka. In the Akigawa hospital, Heo was told what Harakawa’s mother had seen. In Japanese UCAT, Kazami, Izumo, and Hiba watched as Diana opened her lips.
“That was a night that not even we fully understand.”
She smiled bitterly as she continued.
“How about I tell you of the time that began on that night and will hopefully connect to the present?”
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