Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 21
Chapter 21: World of Salvation
It is not darkness you should reach for
Nor is it light
What sound can you simply believe in?
The boy’s father was a sniper.
The boy had been told his father belonged to a special unit under the command of the air force and had fought in battles that were not publicly known.
That had been half true and half false.
The boy’s father had indeed been a sniper and had belonged to a special unit in the American military.
But the battles he had fought were meant to mop up remnant factions who wished to protest the result of battles fought in other worlds. The unit he had belonged to was a global one known as UCAT and his weapon…
…What kind of machinegun is that?
In a dream of the past, the boy saw his father wearing a blue armored uniform. The man’s right hand held a machinegun encased in a blue cowling, his left hand held a handgun of the same color, and he ran through a great number of battlefields.
The machinegun’s bullets trailed white light as they flew. They would attack enemies hiding behind cover and pursue them wherever they might go.
The many high-speed bullets tore through armor, prosthetics, and even cover.
Everyone called him the North Wind. He was the representative member of their unit and their reliable foundation.
One day, the base received a visit by the pilot of a blue mechanical dragon belonging to a Japanese organization. The pilot had originally been a colleague of the boy’s father, but he had joined the Japanese. His home country had not taken kindly to that, but the base saw things differently and they all helped the man with the specialized mechanical dragon maintenance the Japanese could not do.
As the mechanical dragon stuck partially out of the hangar to bathe in the sun, the boy’s father wore a work outfit and spoke to the pilot who was similarly dressed.
They had both removed their shirts and tossed a can of beer to each other.
They chatted about a few topics such as what restaurants along National Route 16 had gone out of business. Afterwards, the pilot looked into the sky and spoke to the boy’s father.
“How long are you going to keep this up, Alberto?”
“I don’t know. What about you, James Thunderson?”
“I’m leaving in ’99. Maria’s parents’ house back in the States has been sitting empty. It’s out in the country with a great view of the sky. There’s a small church there, too. The scenery will probably be exactly the same a hundred years from now.”
“You get sick of a nice atmosphere after three days, but you get used to a bad one in the same amount of time.”
“You’re right.” replied the pilot. “Try to get home a little more often. Don’t you think your kid would like it if you came back with a book for him?”
“I don’t think that at all. Which is why I’ll buy a bookcase for him before heading home next. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Hearing Thunderson, the boy’s father smiled bitterly and lay down in the mechanical dragon’s shadow.
“Unlike you, I don’t have a dragon to ride around in. When you get down to it, I just have myself. I could die at any time. But I let my emotions get the better of me and now I have something I care for. Biggest mistake of my life.”
“So you don’t want to be with them because it will be easier this way once you die?”
“That’s right,” said the boy’s father. “Luckily, Yui’s good at making protective charms from philosopher’s stones. It’s a lot easier knowing she can protect our kid without me. A great wife is a wonderful thing. …She told your wife how to make the protective charms she’s made with the extra philosopher’s stones she swiped, right?”
The pilot sighed as he spoke.
“Hey, don’t you want to think about something a little more cheerful while you’re still alive? I don’t plan to die as I fight, so I’m worried the people like you are going to jump onto the train tracks on a whim someday.”
“You coward. You should try planning to die sometime. You can do anything once you do.”
“I got past that kind of thing once I submitted my marriage registration at city hall.”
“Yeah, and the hell that awaits after that is nothing but trouble.”
The boy’s father smiled bitterly and covered his face with his right hand.
The hand hiding his bitter smile was hardened by the burns and scars of firing his guns so often.
“Having someone so important to you really is nothing but trouble,” he said slowly. “Take today for example. Now I have to go buy a bookcase on the way home.”
The past that Heo listened to came from what Yui had seen and what had been learned from the recordings in her father’s mechanical dragon.
The biggest problem in the confrontation with Top-Gear was what Sayama Asagi had said first after gathering them all in Japanese UCAT late at night.
“I will destroy Top-Gear by activating the negative concepts they are producing in Noah.”
He received some protests, but he told them it had already begun.
“We of course must rescue the survivors of their world, but the negativity will reach our neighboring world which will also turn Low-Gear negative if nothing is done. We must seal that negativity.”
He had told those who would remain to remain and those who would go to go.
He had said Top-Gear was already being destroyed and that all responsibility fell on him.
“After all, I am the one who activated the negative concepts being created there. I altered the data I sent to Shinjou Yukio as she worked to create them.”
Heo was confused by what Yui said Asagi had said. Had Sayama Asagi sent data on the negative concepts to Shinjou Yukio who had defected to Top-Gear?
When Heo asked, Yui nodded and said that Shinjou Yukio had sent a letter explaining that she was creating the negative concepts so Low-Gear could join Top-Gear. After they had received that letter, Asagi had gone back into Babel and taken data on the negative concepts.
However, he had claimed to have altered that data so they would activate upon being created.
Yui told Heo what all of them had to have been thinking when he had told them that.
“We knew he had to have had some reason for it. …And he told us to believe in the final result regardless of what we might have thought at the moment.”
According to him, belief in the result, no matter what it might be, was a promise.
And so they had all gone with him. By the time they had arrived, Top-Gear had been on the verge of collapse and Noah had only survived by ejecting the power of the uncontrollable negative concepts outside of itself.
Top-Gear had been trying to stop Noah by using the positive concepts inside Noah to return the world to normal. They hoped doing so would bring everything back to life.
The Low-Gear group had been there to seal Noah away and prevent it from affecting Low-Gear too, so they had ended up in conflict. Top-Gear had claimed Low-Gear was there to erase the true world.
Most of those inside Noah had collapsed from the negative concepts, but the survivors were either heading out to battle or escaping to Low-Gear, giving priority to the helpers from other Gears and the few children that remained.
An air battle had developed in Top-Gear’s skies while fierce fighting had broken out on the path leading to Noah.
“We were there too.”
Yui’s husband, Alberto, had fired his sniper rifle from the roof of a building they had secured.
As gunfire shook the roof, a friend of his had leaped up in a single bound and introduced himself as Hiba Ryuuichi.
Hiba Ryuuichi had brought a girl with him.
“This is this world’s version of my child. I don’t know where her parents are.”
Hiba had given his weapon to the trembling girl and left her with Yui and Alberto.
He had then spoken to the girl who had looked unwell and trembled. He had told her everyone would know he had vouched for her if she had his sword.
Hiba Ryuuichi had then returned to the battle, but Yui had noticed that he was holding his right side with a bloodstained hand.
Yui said she did not know exactly what had happened after that.
She knew that there had been a long battle, that Thunderson’s mechanical dragon had flown through the sky, and that Sayama Asagi had boarded Noah which was nearly abandoned by that point. He had gone there to rescue Shinjou Yukio and her child.
When Yui had prepared to evacuate with the others, Alberto had said he was staying.
“Japanese UCAT is carrying out a reverse seal…and they need me as one of the Five Great Peaks.”
The reverse seal was something Sayama Asagi had secretly put together before entering Top-Gear.
It was developed from the sealing techniques used to seal 10th-Gear’s divine dragon and 2nd-Gear’s Yamata.
Sayama Asagi had obtained those dragon sealing techniques from the Kinugasa Document he had found at the Kinugasa residence.
Accusers stood in four or eight directions and combined the concepts of several Gears to seal the dragon.
But once it was sealed, the negative concepts would continue to activate within it and would eventually break through the seal.
That was why Sayama Asagi had reworked the seal in one way.
“Simply put, the positions around the dragon making up the seal are reversed to reverse the entire structure of the seal.”
By doing that…
“A normal seal restrains the target because the seal ‘exists’, but when that is reversed, the seal makes it so the target ‘never existed’ because the seal ‘does not exist’. In other words, the target and the seal are sent to the farthest reaches of nothingness.”
Alberto had been in charge of one of the four corners of the square seal. He was to create a barrier and maintain it.
His position had been in western Osaka. From there, he had been able to look up at Noah and see across the battlefield.
The Five Great Peaks were those in charge of the seal like that. Sayama Asagi had been their leader and the others were Hiba Ryuuichi, Diana Zonburg, James Thunderson, and Alberto Northwind.
Sayama Asagi had given the authoritative decree from the center, directly below Noah, Hiba had been to the north, Alberto to the west, Thunderson to the south, and Diana to the east.
The barrier would normally be driven into the ground to establish its existence, but they had reversed that and emitted it into the empty heavens.
However, what did it mean to eliminate Noah which also contained the positive concepts?
Yui had heard Diana’s voice over the radio.
“Will we be destroying this world!? If the positive concepts restrain the activated negative concepts, it’s possible we can stop this world’s destruction!”
Hiba’s voice had answered her.
He had sounded horribly out of breath.
“But what if we can’t do that? If we’re too late, it will mean the destruction of our children too!”
However, he had almost immediately clicked his tongue.
“Sorry, German witch. It was cruel of me to bring up the topic of children, wasn’t it?”
“No, I know what you’re trying to say and I do think it’s too late for that. I may have been trying to personally escape responsibility for that crime. But…”
Diana had hesitated and another voice had cut in.
It was Thunderson’s as he piloted his mechanical dragon through the sky.
He had spoken only three words.
“Let’s do it.”
That was the first time Yui had heard Alberto shout in anger.
He had grabbed the communicator with his eyebrows raised.
“Are you sure? Are you sure you want to hope for this and face what it means? What about your kid!? Your kid will inherit the world, but she’ll also inherit the hatred of every other Gear!”
“Ha ha. I have no intention of using my daughter as a shield to escape responsibility for what must be done.”
Thunderson had laughed cheerfully and the sounds of his atmospheric battle had reached them over the radio. After a delay, they had also heard explosions high up in the heavens.
Those low sounds had acted as a bell to indicate the battle was still in progress and Thunderson had continued speaking.
“It’s too late for this world and it’s filled with screams. The only question is who’s going to finish the job.”
“Even if that means earning everyone’s hatred? I thought you liked to view things positively!?”
“I do.” His tone had been the one he had always used when shrugging. “Listen, everyone. If we don’t earn that hatred now, we’ll lose everything. But if we can avoid losing even just a little bit, then it’s possible that hatred can be eliminated one day.”
“So I see only one option. Are you going to make me place all that hatred on my daughter alone? Don’t worry, Alberto. My daughter has the protective charm my wife learned how to make from yours. And she also has the protection of happiness. I’m sure she can overcome all of this.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! Are you trying to say parents own their children or something!?”
“I’m not saying that,” Thunderson had replied. “But this world is going to be destroyed one way or another. And all because we…yes, both our Low-Gear versions and our Top-Gear versions didn’t make it in time. And to make sure our world isn’t taken out with it, we have no choice but to destroy this place. In other words, my daughter is going to be the daughter of someone who destroyed a world either way.”
He had continued from there.
“So if I don’t force this onto her, she will still inherit that hatred or have it forced onto her by someone else. That’s why I’m well aware that I’m forcing that hatred onto her, Alberto. That way, she is free to hate me.”
“I doubt your daughter will hate you.”
“Then maybe she’ll be able to live her life without hating anyone. That would be wonderful.”
He had paused for a breath.
“I know this makes me a terrible parent. …Alberto, I went home to visit my wife as infrequently as you, but I wasn’t as ashamed of it. That means I was even more worthless than you.”
“Are you sure you want to be a target of hatred, Thunderson?”
“I don’t want to. Of course I don’t. No one would want to be hated…except maybe Sayama,” Thunderson had said. “But someone has to do this. Someone has to minimize the hatred so it isn’t directed at everyone. If we do this and are hated for it, it might mean our world won’t be hated. And I feel like I can act tough right now, so let me say something.”
He had taken a breath before continuing.
“My name is James Thunderson. I am of the family of thunder. Even if they are hated, both the thunder and the wind will fly through the sky. And one day, the people will be forced to accept them and choose to be with them. …Just as airplane wings need the wind to take flight, the hated wind is also what carries people into the distance.”
The people around Yui had nodded and begun to withdraw.
Everyone had looked to Noah and realized something.
The enemy had vanished from around them.
Had that enemy been destroyed or had they escaped to Low-Gear?
Heo heard a third possibility from Yui.
“They had gone to attack the defending dragon in order to destroy the square barrier.”
Harakawa saw four pillars supporting the barrier that surrounded Noah in the collapsing sky.
As Roger withdrew and as Chao’s four brothers turned back, they saw a pillar of white light piercing the heavens in the four cardinal directions.
A curtain of light connected the pillars and formed a thin box of light.
“When that is completed, will the space inside be sent to the void?”
Diana’s eastern pillar was located on an elevated field east of Osaka and it was near the gate they had entered through.
A few dozen people in white armored uniforms were gathered near the gate of darkness opened on that elevated ground.
One of them was a skinny elderly man in a white combat coat.
…So he wasn’t wearing those eccentric glasses at this point.
The elderly man showed no fear of the destruction or the light of the sealing barrier, but there was visible sweat on his face.
Thunderson’s voice came from a communicator in the simple camp next to him.
“The barrier pillar has achieved eighty percent stability all the way to the top.”
Reports of similarly high stability came from the other three directions.
Harakawa then saw several glowing spirals rising within the four rising pillars.
…Is that a circle? Or is it writing?
What had started as circles had stacked up on top of each other and extended like a spring.
But Harakawa also saw explosive flames and light rising near the pillars.
The battle was continuing.
Everyone on the elevated ground gasped and the man in charge of communications turned toward the elderly man in the white coat.
The ends of his eyebrows were lowered and he hesitated to speak.
“Itaru-san is still inside. He’s with the Hiba camp.”
“He isn’t going to make it in time, then.”
That was all the elderly man said before facing forward again.
They could only watch as countless sparks flew.
However, a voice did reach them over the communicator. It sounded triumphant even as it gasped for breath.
“This is Thunderson. Once the barrier is fully established, I’ll pick up Alberto, Hiba, and Itaru before heading back.”
“Ha ha,” came Alberto’s muffled laughter. “That’s one hell of a dangerous taxi. I don’t really like heights all that much, though.”
“A real man can confidently cross his arms when standing up high.”
Hiba’s comment was answered by agreement and the sound of gunfire. At the same time, Harakawa’s mind saw sparks flying in the distance.
Even as the world fell apart, the battle continued.
Diana leaned against the white wall and spoke.
She spoke accurately and clearly as she thought back.
“On that night when the ending came, I used my broom to fly back to the gate created east of Osaka.”
When she had landed, her steel broom had fallen apart as if to say it had done its duty. She had then joined the others.
The camp had had protective concepts set up and she had been fighting nearby, so her body had been less affected by the negative concepts. Yui and the others had left that protective barrier, so several of them had already been complaining of health problems.
There had been a trembling girl holding Hiba’s sword in the camp, so she had been sent back first.
Behind them, the pillar of light had grown so bright that the writing inside could not be seen.
That meant Sayama had given the decree from the center of the sealing barrier.
Once the light of the pillars had reached its peak, the same level of light had come from the sealing barrier itself.
…The inside and outside of the barrier are being separated and the inside is being sent to the void.
The void was a territory of true nothingness. It had no time, no space, and nothing else.
But something had concerned Diana as the seal had reached completion.
“UCAT Director Ooshiro, is anyone still inside the barrier!?”
“Sayama-kun and Yume-kun are. As are the other three Peaks.”
“Then what are you doing!? We need to put together a rescue team!”
A voice had answered her from the communicator. It had been Thunderson’s hoarse voice.
“Don’t get hysterical, Diana.”
“I’m picking up Hiba and the others now. Once this is over, we’ll head back there. You all need to hurry up and escape to Low-Gear. Wait around too long and we’ll beat you back.”
Diana had then heard Alberto’s voice over the communicator.
“Hey, James. What are you gonna do once you get back?”
“How about we gather our families together and have a Christmas party? It’ll be our kids’ first time to meet each other, won’t it? And Alberto.”
“There’s something I’ve always wanted to apologize for. I shouldn’t have gotten after you for not being with your family.”
He had paused for a breath.
“But the only reason my cowardly heart felt you needed to be with your family was because I wanted to be with mine. …We never seemed to get along, but deep down, we really wanted the same thing.”
That was when Diana had seen something.
Inside the glowing white sealing barrier, figures had approached on the surface and through the air.
Three people had been approaching on land: Sayama Asagi, Yume, and an unfamiliar girl.
The philosopher’s stone that Asagi and Yume had brought to protect against negative concepts had been hanging from the running girl’s neck.
…Is that Yukio’s daughter?
Asagi had lagged behind as he let his wife and the girl run ahead. The light behind him had been too strong to tell exactly why. It had looked like he was holding something in both arms, but he had refused to let go of it.
As soon as Diana had decided it was something Yukio had given him, a shockwave had raced along the elevated land.
Diana had turned toward the rumbling in surprise and seen what was arriving by air: a blue mechanical dragon.
Its armor had been almost entirely smashed or ripped away and the cockpit had lost its canopy. Its wing had no longer been enough to supply lift and it had only remained flying because of its thrust and floating concept.
Everyone had run over, expecting for Thunderson, Hiba, and the others to disembark.
However, Diana and the others had seen something else.
Most of the cockpit had been smashed and had only maintained just enough space for a single injured person to be flown back on autopilot.
Itaru’s right leg had been broken, but the tears streaming down his face had not been from the pain. He had lowered the hands covering his face and he had opened his mouth.
“By the time he reached us, he said the dragon was at its limit and could only carry maybe one person.”
Diana remembered Itaru asking why.
“Why did he give an order that meant his own death!?”
Three sets of eyes looked up at the crumbling world.
As the city and earth fell to pieces around them, the three men sat with their backs against a broken cement wall.
They had all been injured at their posts and they were all shedding blood onto the ground.
One of the three, Alberto, noticed something in the sky.
He held his broken gun to support himself while he looked up. The sealing barrier’s light was reaching its climax.
“Hey, Hiba, Thunderson. Noah’s about to be blown away.”
A man with a broken sword in his lap sat to his right and a man staring motionlessly upwards sat to his left.
Both of them said “yeah” as if sighing or falling asleep and they laughed bitterly at their unison.
They laughed as if forcing all the air out of their lungs.
Thunderson then spoke.
“I need to get back. …I told my daughter I’d go jogging with her in the morning.”
Hiba gave a meaningless nod.
“I wonder how my son will do? Will he take care of her?”
No one asked who he meant by “her”.
But the three men suddenly heard a sound.
It was a song.
“That’s a hymn. It’s Silent Night.”
They did not know who was singing, but they listened to the song.
“It’s too bad. Noah’s gonna vanish before they finish singing. And yet it was made for people.”
“It apparently has a control automaton, but I feel sorry for the thing. It was made as an ark, but it couldn’t save anyone.”
“Then we need to get back before it’s over. …I bought a bookcase. Not for me, but for my son.”
“Then get moving,” said Thunderson.
“You get moving, too.”
He turned toward Thunderson, but the man did not move.
Hiba was not moving either
“Yeah,” muttered Alberto. “Let’s get back to the people waiting for us.”
The light before his eyes grew brighter than white.
Alberto never closed his eyes, but he could no longer see.
The sun sank beyond a mountain range.
Its final light created a group of shadows.
Those shadows were cast by gravestones on a mountain slope.
The backlight was too bright to read the name on one gravestone, but someone stood motionless and wordless before it.
Speaking in a graveyard was a job for the living.
“That is what happened ten years ago, Sf.”
“Why did you tell me that now, Itaru-sama?”
Itaru fixed his black collar in the evening sun and turned his sunglasses toward Sf who stood a step behind him.
“Because you have no emotions, Sf. I know I won’t have to hear any nonsense from you.”
“Tes. Then that is a product of my ability. Thank you very much. I have determined German UCAT created me to be exactly what you desired. …And the acknowledgement that what I am always telling you is not nonsense means I can give you five times the thanks.”
“I see you also have five times the ability to misinterpret my words.”
“Tes. I had recently begun to worry that I might actually be defective, but that must be due to my increased ability to misinterpret what you have said. …My relief function is working at five times normal.”
“My annoyance is accelerating at five times normal too. What should I do about that?”
“Tes.” Sf pointed to the setting sun. “You can cry in that direction. It seems Ooshiro-sama jumps up and down after he cries.”
Itaru ignored her and slowly faced forward.
The backlight made the name “Sayama” difficult to make out on the gravestone.
New flowers were laid out in front of it and water had been splashed on it.
Sf stepped up next to him.
“Itaru-sama, I have a question about the role of Sayama Asagi and a few others in what you told me.”
Itaru crouched down, bent his left knee, and then slowly bent the right.
“To be honest, I don’t really know. I can make a number of guesses, though. By the time I arrived at the escape zone, I had lost consciousness from blood loss and I was in the hospital by the time I came to.”
He sighed, brushed a hand through his gray hair, and corrected the position of the flowers.
The gravestones that had been hidden below them were carved with the names Sayama Kaoru, Asagi, and Yume.
“Sayama Asagi had brought a metal case containing the left Georgius and he handed it over to Sayama Yume. And…it seems he didn’t escape the sealing barrier in time.”
“Then he is not buried below this gravestone, is he?” commented Sf. “But why did he have Georgius?”
“There’s a theory about that. Top-Gear must have learned Professor Kinugasa had a Georgius in Low-Gear and so created one of their own in Noah.”
He turned to Sf who looked to the grave and slowly pulled a bouquet of flowers from below her skirt. She then spoke slowly to him.
“This is the bouquet I prepared. You always place the flowers so the names are visible, but I have determined the people sleeping here would not want that kind of help. I thought I would hide the names for them.”
“Is that how you imagine it?”
“No, automatons cannot imagine. Besides, if you remove what is blocking the vision of those who sleep here, they will naturally wake up. Logically, the reason you told me about the past today and why you go back over it in your mind again and again is because the past keeps waking up. And…”
Sf spoke as she held out the flowers.
“I have determined a mystery still remains. How did Sayama-sama’s father obtain Georgius’s case? What happened inside Noah? Also…”
She hid the flowers behind herself.
“What kind of people were Sayama-sama’s parents and Shinjou-sama’s parents?”
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