Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 32
Chapter 32: What God Sees
What are you looking to as you think?
Shino woke for the third time that day.
The first had been at dawn when she left the Tamiya house and the second had been on Ryouko’s back after falling asleep from her wasted effort to reach that hill.
And this third time, she woke after peacefully falling asleep as Ryouko carried her back.
Her mind cleared as she opened her eyes and she could tell she had slept quite soundly.
She was lying on her back and looking up at the ceiling of her usual room.
She wore a yukata and the feel of it on her skin told her Ryouko had put it on her. The obi was tied in a slightly decorative way.
The futon itself was warm, but the intensity of the sunlight shining through the sliding screen told her afternoon had arrived.
An hour or two must have passed since she fell asleep, but even that little time had lightened her mood quite a bit.
…Is that because I cried?
She sat up and felt two gentle weights on the back of her neck.
They were the chains holding her blue philosopher’s stone and the cloisonné that Mikoku had given her.
She nodded for no real reason and got the rest of the way up.
Her right leg was still weak, so she supported herself on the left side, removed the blanket, placed her hands on the folded blanket, and pulled herself out from under it.
She then heard a slight sound from the ceiling, so she called out to it.
“Is that Yo-chan? Or Ki?”
“No, I am…but a simple housecat.”
She heard a meow followed by footsteps leaving through the ceiling.
That would be Ki, she thought while hearing some birds chirping unnaturally in the yard and a whispering voice from the wall.
“I am a lizard, a house-protecting salamander. …So do not call me Tanaka; call me Sa-chan!”
Tanaka’s presence soon left.
All the motion and sounds vanished, but one thing was for sure.
…They’re all worried about me.
She was a little surprised by that.
And she gave a troubled smile.
This was a natural smile that not even she understood very well.
Pushed on by the emotion behind that mysterious smile, she stood up, leaned against the wall, and walked toward the sliding door out of the room.
On the way, she looked to the hanger on the wall.
Her left hand was on the wall, so she used her right to grab Mikoku’s cloisonné.
But she passed below the hanger without doing anything.
She reached the door.
“Mikoku and I are both fine. I’m sure of it.”
She slowly kneeled and slid open the door.
The first thing she had to do was face the others and apologize for worrying them.
…Can I really stay here?
Mikoku had told her not to fight. She had found a place where she could do that, but what would the people here think of what she had done today?
Ryouko had told her she could run away if she wanted to and Shino had her own interpretation of that.
…If I want to go be with Mikoku, I can.
But Mikoku was sure to still be fighting. Sayama and Shinjou showing up before was proof enough of that. Plus, if Shiro was not here, he had to be with Mikoku.
That meant she could not approach Mikoku yet. She understood that and…
“I can’t do anything reckless.”
She was a little worried. She felt Mikoku was at least partially fighting to secure a place for herself.
…But if she gains that place, will she disappear?
To Mikoku, fighting was a means of securing a place for herself.
If she accomplished that or the fighting ended, Shino felt she might be satisfied that she was no longer needed and then go somewhere else.
So if possible, she wanted to see Mikoku before the fighting ended.
If Mikoku was going to go somewhere else, she wanted to tell her there was a place for her here.
And after thinking through it all that far…
“I’m being overambitious.”
She smiled bitterly, looked ahead, and told herself to worry about herself first.
…I need to apologize to the people here.
With that thought, she looked down the dark hallway.
Only then did she notice the tray in front of her room’s opened door.
It contained a pot of rice, a rice bowl, a soup that would not lose its flavor if it cooled, and a small pot with some solid fuel below it.
…Ryouko said Kouji was making Salisbury steak.
She opened the pot and found a white object garnished with vegetables.
“Tofu Salisbury steak?”
After a while, she laughed quietly.
“Ryouko lost this round. This isn’t very greasy at all.”
She checked the paper on top of the tray.
“Dinner is at five. We can all visit the festival afterwards.”
It was Kouji’s handwriting and the words gave her a small smile, but she slowly bent over.
Tears suddenly spilled from her eyes as if pushed out.
“I’m…going to do my best here.”
She told Mikoku to do her best too, quietly called Hajji, Tatsumi, Alex, and the others’ names, and told them not to leave behind any regrets.
“Someday…I’ll go see you.”
She worked up her resolve and the words slowly escaped into the hallway.
Hajji began the questions and answers in top form.
He had one job: if Sayama was going to speak of the future…
…I will speak of destruction.
…I will take a leisurely pace. While the future rushes ahead, the past catches up at its own pace.
He had a single objective.
…I will say everything I must say.
He would speak to the future as the representative of destruction and the past.
My sister and my revenge mean nothing this time, he thought. This is not just about me.
I will think of the people and worlds that were lost and stretch myself even further.
Otherwise, he could not act as Top-Gear’s substitute representative.
He crossed his arms in the silence and felt the heat of the fireplace named Sayama.
He had just confirmed a few different pieces of history with the boy and prepared to change the subject.
“I see. So that is what happened in the past. Then…”
This is the prelude, he told himself as he opened his mouth.
“First, let us talk about Top-Gear and Low-Gear’s countermeasures against the activation of the negative concepts.”
He asked a question.
“Low-Gear is planning to restrain the activated negative concepts by releasing all of the positive concepts, correct? In other words, you plan to strike a balance between positive and negative.”
“Precisely. For better or for worse, I believe both positive and negative are necessary.”
But Hajji knew Top-Gear had attempted that, failed, and been destroyed.
Everyone else knew it after he revealed it on the night of their attack and Sayama’s group had provided a report on Top-Gear’s destruction, so even more of the details were known.
That meant it was entirely possible Low-Gear was simply repeating a past mistake.
But Hajji did not mention that. This argument was not about attacking the other side. He felt he instead needed to present the advantages of his own side.
He had already attacked their side on that night, so he had something else to say now.
“Top-Gear plans to use Babel to have the positive and negative concepts annihilate each other before the activation begins in earnest. That will leave the current reproduced concepts in the Gear reservations as the only way for those Gears to live, so their concepts will no longer be ruled by UCAT.”
He took a breath.
“And this way, any Gear that does not wish to leave their reservation, need not do so. And if they do wish to, they can take the concepts with them and do so.”
Low-Gear’s release of the concepts would fill the entire world with the concepts, so the Gear reservations would effectively lose their reason to exist.
That would force them all to leave.
With Top-Gear’s method, the concepts would vanish from the world and only exist in the reservations, so they could split between those who wished to stay in the reservation and those who wished to join the outside world.
Which was better: the world or individuals?
They would all be choosing one of those options during the trial and vote that came after the question-and answer session was complete.
Would they choose Low-Gear or Top-Gear?
Hajji looked across them all, looked to Sayama, and spoke.
“Now, I would like to make an oath on this holy meeting. This oath will demonstrate our different standpoints.”
Automaton #37 had stenographer duty and she recorded Hajji’s oath with some notes.
Hajji-sama: “I believe each Gear has reached some kind of conclusion in the Leviathan Road, but it would be hard to say everyone from those Gears has accepted that conclusion. For their sake, I believe we need to make an oath to each other.”
Sayama-sama: “I see. So you wish to make it clear which side we stand on?”
- Note: Hajji-sama nods.
Hajji-sama: “Yes. Sayama, you have suppressed conflict using the reason you call the Leviathan Road. That is why reason has continued to rule this space as you have reconfirmed those conclusions. …I believe the trial and vote will begin after another recess, but you are attempting to achieve victory there using reason.”
Sayama-sama: “If you stand opposite my position of reason, then with what are you attempting to achieve victory?”
- Note: Hajji-sama raises his right hand.
Hajji-sama: “No one has lost the emotion they felt when they were ruined, when they had lost, or when they lost something precious to them. They are only suppressing that emotion with reason.”
- Note: Hajji-sama looks directly at Sayama-sama.
Hajji-sama: “I swear to you!”
- Note: Everyone in attendance looks to Hajji-sama.
Hajji-sama: “All conflict begins with reason and emotion and it can be ended with either! So from here on, I will become emotion. I will become the emotions of those who have lost! And I swear on the word ‘judgment’ and on this meeting that I will use any means necessary to fairly oppose reason!”
- Note: Sayama-sama raises his left hand in response.
Sayama-sama: “Then I swear on the word ‘testament’ and on this meeting to use reason to fairly oppose emotion!”
Hajji-sama: “Top-Gear wishes to stop the negative concept activation by eliminating all concepts, freeing the Gears from UCAT’s rule, and beginning life in a free new world!”
Sayama-sama: “Low-Gear will release the concepts and create a world where every Gear can live in harmony! And to do that, we will talk of things that once were and…”
- Note: Both of them speak at once.
Both: “Let us talk of the future and of the past!”
#8 realized she was seeing the true form of this meeting.
…The future and the past. Reason and emotion.
It was a simple idea. When one lost something, was it right to use their reason to endure or was it right to use emotion to cry and refuse to accept it. That was the argument here.
Afterwards, the others would vote for the view they felt was correct and the world would be remade accordingly.
And at that point…
Oh, no, determined #8.
If an argument could be called a tactic, then a meeting could be called a strategy.
Hajji had likely thoroughly prepared his strategy and tactics over the past month and a half. His previous oath and decision to stand on the side of emotion were not something he could make up on the spot.
He had likely predicted that the discussions with the Gears would end like this.
…But Sayama-sama is different.
She had heard that he had been thinking about holding a meeting like this, but he had only learned of Shinjou Yukio’s past the day before.
And his time to think during the meeting had been drastically reduced.
He knew what he had to do, but he had been deprived of a chance to do it.
Just as #8 looked to the back Sayama’s suit, she heard Hajji’s calm voice.
“Now, how about we prepare to talk about the destruction of the past?”
“I am saying we can complete what you have called Top-Gear’s Leviathan Road. I can’t have everyone thinking they will gain something by choosing Low-Gear.”
When she heard that, #8 realized Hajji was beginning his “attack”.
Moira 1st listened to and watched Hajji from the audience seats.
Her shared memory was full of life as the thoughts of so many fellow automatons moved about.
…The ones that joined Low-Gear are growing cautious.
They were cautious of Hajji because they viewed him as Sayama’s enemy. Some of them had apparently been hijacked during the attack a month and a half prior, so she could not blame them.
But, she thought as Moira 3rd turned her way while licking a lollipop from a festival stand.
The smaller girl was wrinkling her brow a little.
“Big sister, everyone’s thoughts are getting kind of dangerous, aren’t they?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well,” said Moira 3rd. “That Hajji guy’s heartrate and body temperature are really stable. …He isn’t excited. In fact, Sayama’s are less stable because of his exhaustion and impatience. Also…”
A quiet voice from beyond Moira 3rd continued for her.
It was Moira 2nd’s scolding voice.
“He is not using emotion when he speaks of emotion. He is only the representative. …He seems to have used up and cast aside the arguments and grudge he showed during the attack on UCAT.”
In that case, thought Moira 1st as she saw Hajji raise his right hand and open his mouth.
“We on the side of emotion, Top-Gear, promise the following if we win.”
He pointed toward the heavens.
“First, we will punish all primary UCAT personnel, the people of Top-Gear will be given most of the leading positions, and this world will be protected by the trustworthy top point that is Top-Gear.”
“But I know what you are thinking: if you do that, you will lose the rights that UCAT promised you during the Leviathan Road.”
Moira 1st heard Hajji continue with the word “so”.
They all listened as Top-Gear spoke of a scenario where the Leviathan Road was done away with.
…What will they do?
Hajji swung down his right hand and answered her unspoken question.
“We will allow UCAT to remain, place it under our control, and continue the Leviathan Road as-is so that you can keep the rights granted to you.”
His answer sent a stir through the room.
An unpredictable sound that Moira 1st concluded was surprise filled the shared memories of the Moira-class automatons.
It was likely made up of every single model’s thoughts which likely mirrored those of the surrounding people.
“He’s hijacking the Leviathan Road!”
A shout of protest arrived over their shared memories, but…
Moira 1st heard #8 who sat calmly next to the moderator’s seat.
After requesting that they stop, she slowly spoke.
“Why are you so angry? Whether he is hijacking it or not is a problem for Top-Gear and Low-Gear. What we receive remains the same, so I have determined this is irrelevant to the other Gears.”
That’s true, agreed Moira 1st without releasing the thought to her shared memories.
Hajji’s words had contained a certain meaning.
…He has eliminated any advantage given by the Leviathan Road.
The greatest deciding factor for the advantages and disadvantages of choosing Low-Gear or Top-Gear had been the Leviathan Road, but Top-Gear had eliminated that factor by saying they would honor it.
The only factors remaining were Low-Gear’s reason and Top-Gear’s emotion.
But, thought Moira 1st.
…In that case, where is the gap between Top-Gear and Low-Gear?
As if to answer her, Hajji raised his right hand again and pointed at Sayama.
“There is one point of difference between Low-Gear and Top-Gear: the nature of the ruler.”
He took a breath.
“Low-Gear is a destroyer. You used destruction for your own ends and now, as villains, you tell us to give up on the past and face the future. On the other hand…”
Sayama continued for Hajji.
“Top-Gear will not forget the destruction and will weep with the survivors, but you will set this world in motion after setting up leaders from the top inheritors. …Isn’t that right?”
Moira 1st saw Hajji nod.
…What is with this discussion?
It seemed to her that they were trying to understand each other. By understanding their opponent’s position, they could oppose them more effectively.
But Moira 1st realized the flow of conversation always began with Top-Gear’s words.
It was as if Hajji were rolling up the groundwork that Sayama rolled out during the question-and-answer sessions.
Or to put it another way…
“Top-Gear is trying to swallow up Low-Gear.”
Hiba sprang up from the infirmary bed.
He was listening to Hajji speak over the cellphone being used as a transmitter.
…This is bad!
After he sat up and threw off the blanket, he heard more from the phone.
It was Sayama replying to Hajji.
“Hajji-kun, the Leviathan Road we have agreed to was based on the assumption that the concepts would be released. If you eliminate them instead, I believe it would be impossible to continue with the agreements we reached.”
That’s right, thought Hiba, but then he heard Hajji’s calm voice.
“Sayama, there is a simple answer to that. If our methods conflict with the continuation of the Leviathan Road’s agreements…”
He could be heard taking a breath.
“As the losers, you will have to make the necessary adjustments. You must ensure that everything is inherited by the new world.”
“You have no right to reject this idea, do you? Yes, if you are wrong, then you only need to make yourself right. That is what Shinjou told me in UCAT, so that is all you need to do. There is no problem.”
…This is bad.
Hiba felt like everything they had done was being flipped over like in a game of Othello.
They had filled the board with their pieces, but all at once…
…He’s flipped them all over.
He then realized how Hajji was going to use the position of emotion to hold back the Leviathan Road that came from reason.
In other words, he knew what Hajji’s tactic at this meeting was.
“By swallowing up the Leviathan Road, he’s crushing his opponent’s reason without having to use reason himself!”
Hiba tried to get out of the bed. He knew there was nothing he could do, but he still wanted to go there.
“Calm down, Hiba.”
He heard a voice from another simple white bed and saw someone sitting cross-legged on it.
“Izumo-san! A-are your injuries okay!?”
“Yeah, but what were you moaning about in your sleep? You were holding your crotch, twisting around, and shouting ‘Balls! I’ve had enough balls!’ Are you gay or something? Stay back. I don’t even want to hear your voice.”
“D-don’t say that when you’re the one that started the conversation!”
“I gradually realized it after I’d already started the conversation.”
Hiba noticed Izumo was reading something.
“H-how can you read when all this important stuff is happening!?”
“There’s nothing I could do to help, so I thought I would rest until it was an absolute emergency and that German disguised as a female doctor left this European magazine here.”
“All of a sudden, I want to read too. Can I?”
“Stay back, you creep. If you’re gay, aren’t the contents of your own pants enough for you?”
“Y-you’re really prejudiced, you know that!?”
Suddenly, Kazami’s voice came from the phone.
“What are you two doing?”
“Oh, K-Kazami-san!? I-I was, um, well…”
“Don’t worry, Hiba. Calm down. …I’ll go easy on you.”
“Wait, wait. You mean you won’t go easy on me, Chisato? I can’t believe this.”
“I get the feeling neither of you have a very high opinion of me!”
They both told Hiba to shut up, so he did.
He then heard Kazami’s voice again.
“Things are heating up quite a bit in here, so if you’re thinking of heading over, you probably should. It’s at least interesting to watch.”
“Eh?” asked Hiba just as Hajji’s calm voice came from the phone.
“Let us begin.”
Just as he said, the questioning began.
And it began with the emotion of losing something precious.
As Hajji began to speak, a girl gulped in Low-Gear’s waiting room.
She spoke in a daze as she stared at the twelve spheres displayed on her laptop’s screen.
“It can’t be…”
Behind her, a black-haired girl in a white armored uniform turned around, stood up, and walked over.
“Did you find the answer, Heo?”
“Well, uh… This method was really just a crazy idea I had, but…”
Heo brought a hand to her cheek.
Her face had gone pale and she audibly gulped before looking up at the black-haired girl standing next to her.
“B-but this is the only way to explain something I’d found odd.”
“Something you’d found odd? What’s that?”
“Well.” Heo looked the other girl in the eye. “It’s Georgius, Shinjou. That’s the key to it all.”
She began by saying “look” and hit a key to begin the simulation.
…This has to be the right answer.
The world creation simulation restarted and the window filled with black.
As they saw what appeared there and watched the beginning of the world, Heo and Shinjou gave contrasting reactions.
Heo closed her eyes as if telling herself something, while Shinjou…
That’s right, thought Heo as she nodded and asked a question.
“Do you believe in god?”
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