Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 24

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Chapter 24: Greeting to the World[edit]

OnC v13 0119.png

Good morning

Let us stuff the world in a trash bag

And prepare to carry it to the curb


Morning filled the air.

The winter morning was so early that the sun had yet to rise and the eastern sky had only just started to grow bright.

Frost covered everything and the temperature was low enough to form ice.

The only sound was the distant engine of a newspaper delivery motorcycle.

However, someone was walking through that early morning.

The streetlights illuminated a girl in a kimono and jacket as she walked along a residential sidewalk.

It was Shino.

She awkwardly shook as she used her crutch and her black hair swayed back and forth.

She was traveling southeast which would take her to the main road.

Her white breath was directed downwards and she released a larger breath every few steps.

“…”

After breathing out, she raised her drooping shoulders and began walking again.

She held the cracked blue stone and the red cloisonné stone that hung from her neck.

“I have to go.”

Words escaped her downturned lips and entered the cold air.

“I have to go…or it’ll mess everything up.”

But she immediately shook her hair side to side.

No, she told herself while stepping forward.

I’m the one that’s messed up.

“They’re all so nice, they don’t care about my past, and I can stay in this world, but…but…”

She let out a white breath.

“Why does it hurt so much?”

She breathed out yet another white breath.

“I have to go. I don’t know where to, but I have to get away from here.”

Because…

“Not long ago, I thought I had to fight. Why…Why can I throw away those feelings so easily?”

She fell silent there and only opened her mouth to breathe as she walked.

But she suddenly looked back.

She stared into the darkness beyond the countless streetlights.

The rows of dark houses hid the one she had come from.

“I’m sorry.”

She thought about the sister and brother with the same surname as her.

“I was happy there.”

She looked away and faced forward again with her head hanging low.

With her back turned, she used her crutch to move forward again.

She was still not sure exactly where she was going, but she made sure she left that place.


Each day of Taka-Akita Academy’s year-end festival began at daybreak and ended at daybreak.

It was not exactly an official event. The students had started it on their own, so the students spent late nights both preparing and celebrating. They ended up forming rotations and transforming the school into a sleepless place.

The sky was still dark on this clear winter morning.

Each day of the festival would begin at that time, but more as a lazy market than a celebration.

The stands would show each other what they had set up and continue the preparations that had begun before dawn. Meanwhile some few people and motorcycles would pass by.

Someone walked along while listening to those sounds and voices.

It was Kazami in her school uniform walking from the large bicycle parking area behind the band of school buildings.

She carried a backpack and rushed along the gravel path to one of the buildings.

On the way, a few club or committee representatives sleepily called out to her.

“You’re not with your husband?”

“Kaku had somewhere to go, so I came by bike and he’ll be here later.”

“What are you two doing for the costume dance party tonight? Are you doing the French Revolution like last year?”

“That was just once and we only did it because I wanted to throw cake around. This year, I’ll probably be walking around with a spear or something.”

She continued on while accepting the reports from the more well-prepared representatives.

Her destination was the second year school building.

She entered through the north entrance, passed by the stairs, and entered the hall on the right.

She found someone standing there.

“Siegfried-san. Taking inventory this early in the morning? You put in a lot of work.”

He smiled bitterly and looked at the books piled up to the hallway ceiling.

“Yes, but I never thought you would be using my workplace as a meeting room.”

“You can blame that idiot Sayama for that one. …And thanks.”

“I hear you have been working hard, too. Or at least you were before Sayama and Shinjou got back.”

“Yes. Sayama called and asked me to take care of a lot until he could get here. But it seems he has a lot to think about and started going over a lot of information with Shinjou as soon as he did get back.”

Kazami scratched her head and looked at the piles of books in the hallway.

“That’s a lot of books. Do you need some help?”

I hope he doesn’t actually ask me to help, she thought as Siegfried turned toward her.

He looked at her, brought the fingers of his right hand to his forehead, and thought for a bit.

Eventually, he looked like he had found the right words.

“Listen. It is crucial that books are handled with extreme care.”

“That’s a roundabout way of saying no, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said while crossing his arms.

She lowered her shoulders and walked past him, but she turned back after placing a hand on the library door.

“Is everyone here? More or less anyway?”

“I do not think you can have ‘more or less’ of everyone.”

“It’s a Japanese way of speaking. …But from that, I take it they’re more or less all here.”

She smiled a little and opened the door.

The instant she stepped inside that open space, she heard several overlapped voices.

——————

The concept texts harmonized and formed a mere sound more than words. It had a clear, metallic ring to it.

And a moment later, something appeared before her eyes.

“Wow, now this is an absurd class meeting!”

The school’s unneeded desks and chairs filled the library to create a meeting room and those seats were mostly filled.

“Two representatives from each Gear plus an audience composed of representatives from each UCAT and assistant representatives from each Gear.”

Some were human, some were half-dragons, some wore lab coats, some were automatons, some wore military uniforms, some wore armored uniforms, some wore kimonos, some were made of plants, and some were made of stone. There was even mist, air, light, and darkness.

“Meeting!”

A voice came from the backpack Kazami wore and a plant creature poked its head out.

The creature had been sent by Mukiti as one of 4th-Gear’s representatives.

Kazami had transported it because the other representative would be brought by Heo as it had been renegotiating with her.

Kazami lowered the bag and the plant creature hopped out.

It more skipped than ran across the stepped floor.

Its destination was lined with the same desks and chairs seen in a normal classroom.

Even the scribbles and carved writing and drawings were still there.

The Kinugasa Library was a large room that took up as much space as four classrooms. By cramming in as many desks and chairs as they could, they had secured over two hundred seats.

Almost all of them were filled by humans, the almost human, and the nowhere near human.

The humans were in the minority here and…

There’s almost no one from Japanese UCAT.

Sayama, Shinjou, Heo, and the others would be in the nearby classroom they were using as a waiting room. A concept space had been set up so each Gear and UCAT had their own waiting room in the one classroom.

How is this going to turn out?

Kazami waved at the plant creature as it turned back toward her.

“Thanks,” it said.

She smiled and then looked around again.

This was the site of the giant “class meeting” to which every Gear was invited.

A lot of “people” were here and she noticed something behind the desks and chairs.

A blackboard had been placed on the wall next to the preparation room entrance and the meeting program was written on it.

1: Opening Greeting

2: Moderator Enters

3: Question-and-Answer Sessions with Each Gear and Top-Gear vs. Low-Gear Debate

4: Trial and Vote for Low-Gear

5: Announcement of Vote Results

6: Closing Greeting

During the meeting, Top-Gear would return 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core to Japanese UCAT and everyone would know it had been returned to 3rd via UCAT.

Officially, 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core was the main purpose of the meeting.

“Officially, anyway.”

As the program suggested, it was actually a question-and-answer session and a debate between Low and Top.

And Sayama had claimed Parts 4 and 5 were the biggest problem.

For Part 3, he would argue with the other Gear representatives as Low-Gear’s representative, but once the question-and-answer sessions with each Gear, including Top-Gear, were over, the trial and vote of Part 4 would begin.

They would vote on a single issue: would they forgive Low-Gear or give themselves over to Top-Gear?

There were twelve Gears and two representatives from each, but apparently…

Jord alone will represent 10th-Gear.

It seemed the 10th-Gear residents had a deeply-rooted policy of distancing themselves from the world and opinions among their own people were split into two groups. So instead of working with UCAT, they had announced Jord would represent them and that they were abandoning their other spot among the representatives.

They had even stated that they would accept any negative consequences of that decision.

Do they feel somewhat responsible because they had at least known Top-Gear existed?

But in doing so, they had lowered the total number of Gear representatives to twenty-three.

Once they voted, a majority outcome was unavoidable.

How is this going to turn out?

Thanks to the rematches and renegotiations, she felt several of the Gears had been drawn back to Low-Gear’s side, but what was going to happen now?

And…

“How will it all turn out?”

She breathed in, gathered some strength, and asked the empty air.

“Can we win this?”


Shino walked with her shadow by her side.

The sky was dimly-lit and the clock above her said it was 5:30 AM.

She was in a large park and the park’s lights illuminated the rows and thickets of trees from below.

The sign at the entrance said Akigawa Central Park, it truly was located at the center of the city, and it was due east of the Tamiya house.

If she cut southeast through the park and followed the main road on the other side, she would reach Higashi-Akiru station on the JR Itsukaichi Line.

If she made it there…

I can go somewhere.

Shino rested on her crutch and let out a white breath.

She wiped the sweat from her brow and faced forward.

She currently stood partway up a manmade hill and she was taking the stairs up the grassy slope.

Once she crossed the hill, the main road was directly ahead.

From her position, she could only see a bench at the top of the hill. Beyond that was the dimly-lit sky.

I need to hurry on to the station.

She had decided to go to the Hachioji area.

She could no longer return to her home there, but she felt somewhere she knew would be best.

If it went well, she could pick up the luggage hidden in a number of locations. And once she found somewhere to live, she wanted to return these clothes to the Tamiya family.

To get there, she either had to travel to JR Haijima Station and switch to the Hachiko Line or travel to JR Tachikawa Station and take the Chuo Line to Hachioji.

I need to hurry.

Five-thirty in the morning was when the Tamiya house’s night shift was replaced by the morning shift.

Kouji and the others would be preparing breakfast.

They’ve already noticed, haven’t they?

She wanted to put more distance between them before they had a chance to act.

Then she heard a sound.

It was a train’s whistle and the rhythmical shaking of the track below the train.

Shino gasped and began climbing the slope.

She would be able to see the train’s lights, so the station’s location would be obvious.

Her legs trembled as they relied on the crutch, but she recalled what the Tamiya family’s doctor had said.

It’s only psychological now.

The doctor had said she feared something and was afraid to stand on her own two legs.

Kouji had said she could wait until she was no longer afraid and Ryouko had cheerfully said it was only a matter of time.

They’re such good people, she told herself as she reached the top of the hill.

“—————”

There, she saw the dark city and the rest of the scenery below the park’s hill.

The train’s lights were travelling east through the field on the other side of the road.

“Ah,” she said without thinking.

The road running alongside the tracks was straight and supported a residential area near the station.

If she crossed the field, she only had to follow the road to reach Higashi-Akiru Station.

If she chose a road without any traffic lights and the narrowest of the residential area’s roads, she would reach the station without any trouble.

“Thank goodness.”

She breathed a sigh of relief, but suddenly turned around.

She let out a white breath as she looked back. She looked west, the way she had come, and she saw something familiar there.

To the west of the central park was another field and the municipal office was two hundred meters away.

But another hundred meters beyond that was…

“The Tamiya house.”

The neighboring houses had yet to wake, but one house was filled with light.

It was three hundred meters away, so it was not far at all for anyone who could run.

“You’re kidding…”

She had walked so much, hesitated so much, and tried to get as far as away as possible, but the lights of the house were so close that she felt they were watching her.

“————”

She let out another white breath and her legs gave out.

She sat in the bench at the top of the hill and dropped the crutch to the side.

“What…?”

She took a breath.

“What am I doing?”


The morning air filled a classroom.

The plate hanging on the classroom door said Waiting Room for the Leviathan Road Meeting.

A blonde girl sat by the window on the far end of the room.

It was Heo.

She faced a laptop as the heater started to warm the morning classroom.

This was not her first time at this school, but it was her first time sitting in one of the seats like this.

She looked at Harakawa, Hiba, and Shinjou who wore her armored uniform as they sat at the desks and worked.

They can sit in these tall chairs just fine.

She sighed and looked to the scenery outside the second-story window on her left. The window frame had apparently been destroyed at some point and she assumed that damage was just part of everyday life here. Meanwhile, she got back to working on the laptop.

She was testing the theory of the twelve Gears’ creation.

According to Hajji, the mother element, which had formed the ten Gears and been destroyed, had used the power of evolution and regeneration to create a single giant positive Gear aka Top-Gear. Top-Gear’s creation had formed Low-Gear as a negative counterpart.

He claimed that made Low-Gear a fake created as the negative side of Top-Gear.

But…

Heo manipulated the Gear creation pattern diagram that Kashima had created. She could specify the time axis and a few conditions and she could alter the relative locations before running a simulation of how the Gears had been created.

She had been doing this since the night before and she had a single reason for doing so.

I need to see if all of the Gears could have been created in a way other than what Hajji said.

But it was not going well.

Whenever she shifted or removed any of the conditions, the world was no longer created and it all just fell apart.

Since the night before, she had destroyed the world again and again while also infinitely multiplying it.

Just as she would think it was going well, the world would continue to exist instead of breaking.

And…

That isn’t all.

She had another job: translating reports.

The Gear representatives, UCAT representatives, and audience members of the meeting all needed a report on what Team Leviathan had learned.

They were providing the report in English because it was an internationally understood language.

However, Shinjou was in charge of writing the report and she did not know English.

The only members of Team Leviathan who could speak English were Sayama, Harakawa, Kazami, and Heo.

That had automatically made it Heo, Harakawa, and Kazami’s job to create the translated report.

Harakawa was currently sitting at another desk translating Shinjou’s report into English.

Heo thought she should help, but Harakawa refused to give her anything to do. He said she needed to focus on finding an answer to the Gears’ creation.

And then the door opened and Kazami stepped in.

“Harakawa, I’m here to take over for you.”

“The meeting’s beginning soon, so I’ll finish it off.”

Kazami shrugged and looked to Shinjou. Shinjou was typing and instructing Hiba where to copy some photographs into the report. Each time she did, Hiba would run off to comply.

But now Shinjou responded to Kazami’s gaze.

“I think I’ll have the whole thing done by the midpoint of the meeting. I plan to send the different parts out in the order they’ll be read.”

“Is that so?”

Kazami put her hands on her hips and turned to Heo.

“How are you doing, Heo?”

Heo let her shoulders droop.

“Well…”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Harakawa while still facing his own laptop. “There isn’t an answer for you to find if he was right, so don’t despair even if you don’t find one. That just means he was right after all.”

“But what if I overlooked something?”

“We’re the ones that let you handle this, so it would be wrong of us to complain. All we can do is decide you came to the best answer possible or help you until you find the answer.”

He pulled a book toward him. It was Kinugasa Tenkyou’s mythology encyclopedia.

That was when Shinjou looked up.

“Did I get something wrong?”

“I’m going to make the quote more persuasive by pulling out the original book. It makes a better bluff than just writing a citation and the people watching can be more easily convinced that a lie is correct.”

“That sounds like something Sayama-kun would say.”

“That is not someone I want to be compared to.”

Harakawa clicked his tongue and typed in the romanized version of the author’s name given with the publication data.

It was true the name of Kinugasa Tenkyou would be highly persuasive to the Gear and UCAT representatives.

Everyone’s working so hard.

So she nodded and decided to do her very best to find an answer.

Instead of wasting time worrying, she needed to move toward that answer.

But the problem was…

“I have to attend the meeting as 5th-Gear’s representative, don’t I?”

Hearing that, Kazami brought a hand to her chin.

“Can’t you head out for 5th-Gear’s question-and-answer session and then come back in here? You can have Harakawa sit out there in your place for the rest of the time.”

“Why me?”

“You’ll help Heo, won’t you? And you can bring Shinjou’s report with you and translate it out there. Once you’re done, send the data back to us.”

Kazami then pointed to the seat Heo was sitting in.

“And way to go, Heo. That’s Harakawa’s seat, isn’t it?”

“Eh!? B-but I just used the seat Shinjou led me to.”

She turned around and saw Shinjou’s shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter.

“I made sure you would sit there.”

Harakawa sighed when he heard her.

“I was wondering who had arranged that. So the criminal was one of our own.”

“U-um, Harakawa? Sh-should I move?”

“You can if you don’t like sitting there. Personally, I’m about to leave on a journey to heal my heartbreak over this betrayal.”

“Ehh!?”

Just as Heo cried out in protest, two things happened.

One was the door opening and a large boy in a school uniform entering. It was Izumo.

“Hey, things are about to begin.”

The other was someone suddenly standing up from behind the teacher’s desk.

“It would seem everyone but Mikage-kun has arrived.”

It was Sayama in a suit.

Heo then saw Sayama turn toward Shinjou.

“Sayama-kun, a-are you okay?” asked Shinjou hesitantly.

Heo knew why. The meeting preparations, checking over the report, and everything else they were doing were on his instructions.

Earlier, he said he was getting some rest and went to sleep.

He had been working his mind and body since the night before and could not have gotten even a half hour of sleep, but he stood tall before them.

He had his usual expressionless look, his mouth hung slightly opened, and he raised his left hand.

He then pointed at a location a bit below the ceiling.

“At this moment…”

He spoke while staring into the empty air.

“I see three Shinjou-kuns flying around. One in her pajamas, one in her underwear, and one in the nude.”

“G-go back to sleep!!” shouted Shinjou.

“Ha ha ha,” laughed Sayama as he turned her way. “Shinjou-kun. Is that Shinjou-kun in the armored uniform the real one?”

“Y-yes? And what would a ‘fake’ one be?”

“Heh heh heh. A fake one does not have a winnable route. …Anyway, are you worried about my condition right now?”

“Yes. …I am.”

“Is that so?”

He nodded, gently spread his arms, and spoke casually.

“If you give me a voluntary kiss, I should wake up. Yes, and I will surely achieve victory in this meeting.”

Hearing that, Heo realized something.

If he’s still acting like this, he must be okay.


The meeting room was filled with as many movements as there were people and the noise gradually grew.

The seats were split into four sections using the four sides of the stepped floor.

The seats by the counter were for the representatives of the twelve Gears. The long rows of seats on the north and south were for the audience.

The seats by the preparation room in the back were for the audience members with higher priority and a teacher’s desk was set up on the highest point of the floor for the moderator.

A single desk was prepared in the center of the lowest portion of the floor. That was Sayama’s seat.

Most of the seats except for the moderator’s and Sayama’s were filled.

Various voices came from those seats and automatons moved between them carrying drinks and the like.

The drinks were melon soda and teas that Kazami and the others had secretly acquired from the year-end festival. For snacks, they had okonomiyaki and chocolate bananas. The representatives from other countries or Gears were busy learning about the cuisine of a foreign nation or world.

But as they provided that service, the automatons used their shared memory to search for hidden weapons and to estimate the guests’ physical abilities based on their heat-resistance distribution.

“This is #56. The guest in Seat 3B6 has three knives in their pocket.”

“Testament. This is #81. Based on their physical condition, I believe the guest in Seat 2D13 has a hangover.”

Also, the voices they heard from the various seats contained important information.

“…depends on the Suez tariff and if we can get the trademark.” “Oh, Lady Miyako, they were selling a tenderloin cutlet flavor of chocolate cigarette.” “In other words, our intentions on the continent are to…” “Roger, Roger. What is this ‘Blue Hawaii’ flavor!?” “No, I don’t bet on soccer.” “Delicious.” “Field.” “Oh, if only I could make a video of this scene and show it to them.” “…depends on whether we can get the rights for…” “Can’t they hurry it up? I have work back at the department.”

They are all different, concluded the automatons while processing the many voices they could hear.

However, they soon realized something: one spot within the great crowd of seats remained silent.

It was the spot that had gathered the most attention earlier.

It was the lowest and southernmost end of the counter-side seats for Gear representatives.

That was where the Top-Gear and 9th-Gear representatives sat.

First was the seat for Hajji as 9th-Gear’s representative. He and Jord had been escorted in as soon as the library had been opened up.

After a while, an old man in a work uniform who could only be a Low-Gear human had sat next to Hajji as 9th-Gear’s substitute representative. Not long later, Toda Mikoku had arrived with her hands filled with grilled squid and takoyaki. She was accompanied by a white dog and Nagata Tatsumi and their appearance had sent a quiet stir running through the others.

Tatsumi was still in the process of consuming some cooked chicken liver.

Next to her, Mikoku pet the white dog’s head as it sat by her. Jord had scooted her seat over to allow Mikoku to sit next to and speak with Hajji.

Mikoku and Hajji’s exchange was clearly just an everyday conversation. And…

“I have determined there is information missing,” commented one automaton. “They are omitting something of which they have a tacit understanding.”

Based on what information was missing, they seemed to be talking about someone they knew or…

“Is she not with you? Hm?”

“No.” Mikoku adjusted her position in the seat and nodded. “She is apparently somewhere where she can live a happy life if she wants.”

And…

“I think she is fine. Both she and I…are not alone.”

The automaton felt Mikoku was assuming too much, but Hajji only crossed his arms.

“I see,” he muttered.

The automaton did not know why Hajji had displayed an understanding of Mikoku’s assumptions.

Regardless, Mikoku smiled bitterly and Hajji seemed to have a question about it.

“What is so funny? Hm?”

“Oh… Just that your response was the same as mine when I heard.”

Hajji eventually smiled bitterly as well.

The two of them finally laughed quietly and gathered more attention.

However, Hajji looked around and returned the people’s gazes.

“This is wonderful,” he said.

He reached an arm around Mikoku’s shoulders as she crouched over in laughter.

“This is wonderful, Mikoku. Yes, truly wonderful. If this all ends today, how about going out for yakiniku with your adoptive father? Hm?”

“Is that any way to ask out a teenage girl?”

“Hm. Then how about steak?”

Mikoku did not reply. She only leaned forward again while her back and shoulders shook.

But Hajji gently tapped her back.

“Let’s eat a lot. Yes.”

His words do not fit, thought the automaton.

“Why is he talking about food when she is crying?”

I do not know, she thought, but she understood it was not a harmful act and that she had her own job to take care of.

Suddenly, the speaker installed in the library produced a noise.

Everyone turned toward the red-haired automaton standing at the seat next to the moderator’s seat.

“Now then, everyone.”

They all briefly spoke and moved, but all the movement and noise soon vanished and she continued.

“We will now begin the Leviathan Road meeting.”


Roger heard #8’s dignified announcement from his seat among the southern audience seats.

Everyone around him, including Odor, focused silently on #8 and waited for her next move.

The other automatons had stopped moving and seemed to be making some kind of decision about the situation.

They must be wondering whether this meeting is wanted or not.

Not that they will find an answer until it is over, he silently added.

Suddenly, he heard two new sounds.

Someone had clapped twice in quick succession.

It had come from the opposite direction.

It was Hajji who sat on the lower level of the seats by the counter.

He calmly sat in his small chair and loudly clapped.

“What’s wrong, everyone? We should celebrate this moment. The time has come to understand the true state of the world!”

Meanwhile, a gray-haired man in black spoke from the top level of audience seats by the preparation room.

“Yes, this may be the time to celebrate. Because we’ll be putting an end to something not at all worth celebrating.”

The two men stared at each other either with one eye or through sunglasses.

“————”

And they audibly looked away.

Tension ran through the room, a palpable silence fell over everyone, and #8 spoke.

“Now, it is time for the moderator to enter.”

Next, Roger saw the meeting’s moderator stand up.

It was a gray-haired automaton waiting in one of the upper level northern audience seats.

“The moderator will be the Japanese UCAT automaton, Sf-sama.”

“Tes.”

Sf gave a shallow bow to everyone and turned her slightly narrowed gaze toward each location.

“I have determined the ‘-sama’ is not necessary.”

Almost immediately, several people raised their voice. Their shouts were filled with panic, anger, and restraint.

“Objection!!”


#8 heard several cries of objection.

It did not only come from the Gear representatives and the assistant representatives in the audience seats. It also came from the UCAT representatives.

The chain-reaction of voices grew louder.

Is the meeting going to be delayed?

She knew why. Japanese UCAT was the one being accused in this meeting, so the other representatives were concerned that the moderator had been chosen from them.

Not only did the moderator move the agenda along, but she would accept or reject objections and everyone present was required to obey her decisions. So why did one of the accused hold that position?

They can ask why if they want.

But their worries created a torrent of voices as they all tried to have their own voice heard.

#8 decided this was going nowhere and prepared to give the automatons an instruction.

She would tell them to stop everyone from speaking.

But just before she did, two sounds reached her.

They were very loud and they came from opposite directions: the air and below the floor.

The one in the air was metallic and the one below the floor was a rumbling. The two of them collided at floor level.

“!!”

The entire library shook up and down as if it had been struck.

All of the chairs and desks slid around a bit and the people sitting in them had to support themselves on each other.

It only lasted an instant, but that was exactly why it managed to stop them all from speaking and moving.

Once the shaking subsided, #8 saw the two men who had caused the loud noises.

The first was an elderly man raising his right hand in the center of the top row of northern audience seats.

He tilted his head in annoyance.

“Roger, Roger. Are meetings always this noisy?”

Roger answered the man while brushing a hand through his hair.

“No, Colonel Odor. They are holding a festival today, or a Matsuri as they call it. And during a Japanese Matsuri, a form of folk entertainment known as Ikki is customary. I believe this commotion is a usage of the Ikki mantra.”

“Ikki? What is Ikki?”

“Testament. Ikki is when they all chug a bottle of sake and attack a public facility while demanding that the annual Nengu tax be lowered. I believe there has recently been a push to ban it during commercials.”

“So…So it is a large-scale military civil lawsuit!? Is this country still stuck in the middle ages!? And…”

#8 watched as Odor turned to the south.

She followed his gaze and saw a black-haired man in black sitting with his arms lightly crossed.

She recognized him as Chinese UCAT’s representative.

His left leg was sticking out into the aisle next to his desk and it was firmly planted on the stepped floor.

Did he make that underground tremor?

“Interesting. A very interesting trick,” said Odor. “Does your technique only work in the lowest of places?”

“In my country, we refer to the power in the earth as a ‘crouching dragon’, resident of the soaring eagle’s land.”

The man with a Chinese UCAT nametag turned to #8.

“Now, please tell us why you have chosen her.”

It was not #8 that said “tes”.

It was Sf herself and she already stood by the moderator’s seat.

“It is a simple matter. I am a doll, so I have no emotions. If ordered to do so, I can make perfectly impartial judgments. …And Itaru-sama, what do you wish me to do?”

“Well,” said the gray-haired man while crossing his arms behind his head. “I couldn’t care less about Japanese UCAT, so judge everyone equally.”

“Tes.”

Sf nodded, fixed her hair, glanced at #8, and then looked across everyone else.

“If you are still worried, feel free to use any of the techniques you have. I am sure every Gear and UCAT has techniques of confirming that I truly have no emotions. I have determined you can keep me under constant observation if you like. But…”

She took a breath.

“If you make a false report saying I have displayed emotions, betrayed my master’s request, and lost my impartiality…”

She raised both arms.

Everyone saw a heavy machinegun with anti-concept modifications in each arm.

The dully shining black metal already had ammunition belts loaded and the triggers were halfway pulled.

Sf’s emotionless gaze raced back and forth and tension filled everyone it landed on.

Regardless, she spoke.

“It seems a moderator normally possesses a hammer for moving the meeting along, so I have prepared my own. I am powerless on my own, so I brought two of the loudest hammers I could find. If the hammer falls two thousand times a minute, it should quiet down even the most unruly participant.”

No one said anything more.

Faced with that still silence, Sf nodded toward #8, so #8 adjusted the position of her microphone and opened her mouth.

“Now, will the Gear representatives please rise?”

Below the lights, all of the Gear representatives stood.

Many of them were substitutes and many of them were not human, but they were all the representatives of a world and a history.

For 1st-Gear, it was long-lived Brunhild and her black cat.

For 2nd-Gear, it was Imperial Tsukuyomi Shizuru and Military God Kashima Akio.

For 3rd-Gear, it was Tsukuyomi Miyako, queen of 3rd, and Gyes, the automaton representative.

For 4th-Gear, it was a normal plant creature and a plant creature taking Mukiti’s place.

For 5th-Gear, it was Heo and Harakawa, who was standing in for Thunder Fellow.

For 6th-Gear, it was Boldman and Izumo, who Boldman had selected as a substitute representative.

For 7th-Gear, it was the four balls of the Concept Core and Hiba, who acted as their assistant.

For 8th-Gear, it was Wanambi’s PDA and a Messenger of Wanambi.

For 9th-Gear, it was Hajji and the old manager.

For 10th-Gear, it was Jord alone.

For Top-Gear, it was Toda Mikoku and Nagata Tatsumi.

And for Low-Gear, it was Kazami and…

“Ha ha ha. Sorry I am late, everyone!!”

A sudden voice stabbed into everyone from the door by the counter.

The all turned around to find a boy in a suit with Baku sitting on his shoulder.

He stopped as everyone focused on him. He calmly pulled a comb from his pocket and fixed his hair.

“I am Sayama Mikoto, Low-Gear representative as well as the negotiator to act as defendant and Low-Gear’s defense lawyer.”

He spun around once and struck a pose such that his clothes made a snapping sound.

“Are. You. Listening!?”

He struck a new pose with each word, placed Baku on his head, and spoke to the entire world.

“Now, let us begin! I am in an excellent mood! After all…”

He took a breath.

“Shinjou-kun just gave me a voluntary kiss on the lips!!”


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