Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 36
Chapter 36: Solution to the Responses
The one thing
Everyone decided on together
The library filled with energy once the recess came to an end.
The tension of the question-and-answer sessions had thinned now that those sessions were complete and the second recess had passed.
In the audience seats, members of different UCATS were speaking with each other and others were discussing how the vote would turn out.
Their chatter quickly vanished.
A gray-haired automaton had climbed to the moderator’s seat with a cardboard box in hand.
Without bothering to check that everyone had quieted down, she gently raised her right hand.
Something shot straight up from her hand and it had a hemisphere of plastic attached.
“People call these capsule toys or gachapon or any number of other things, but they seemed perfect for this situation. The two ballots from each Gear are inside.”
Someone spoke up from the audience.
“Th-those are from the ones I won at the cafeteria earlier! I can’t store them or take them home without the capsules!!”
Sf’s left hand was empty, so she used it to fire.
Without bothering to check that the room had frozen over, she grabbed the fallen capsule.
“The votes have been sorted by Gear. First…”
Darkness fell over the library and the only lights were on Sf, the representative seats, and the counter.
Twenty-three people sat in the representative seats and, for some reason, Sibyl and Ooki were dressed as bunny girls by the counter. The two of them held red and white artificial flowers in front of the whiteboard.
Sf looked to the two of them.
“Now, let me explain the rules. A vote for trusting Low-Gear will be white and a vote for being unable to trust Low-Gear or for trusting Top-Gear will be red.”
Ooki and Sibyl held up their white and red artificial flowers and there were even red and white daruma dolls next to them.
Everyone in the audience and representative seats nodded in confirmation of these preparations.
At the same time, Sf suddenly pulled a capsule from the ballot box.
The action was so unexpected that the automatons waiting to provide a drumroll missed their cue.
Sf opened the capsule, unfolded one of the papers inside, and read the beginning of the world’s decision.
It began with…
Everyone could be heard breathing out.
“One vote in favor.”
Sayama stood up and Sf nodded.
Ooki responded by attaching a white flower to the whiteboard.
A moment later, Sf unfolded the other paper.
“One vote opposed.”
No one was able to react to what Sf said.
A confused silence and stillness fell as they all wondered why Low-Gear would vote against themselves.
This continued for three, five, and then ten seconds before some motion finally broke it.
Still sitting, Kazami threw her legs up onto her desk.
She crossed her legs, thrust out her chest, and adjusted her position in her chair. She was showing she had no intention of standing up.
Most of the people in the audience produced voices of confusion and protest: Why?
“Keep it down!!”
Kazami’s dignified shout pierced through all the protests.
She took in a quick breath, raised her eyebrows, looked across everyone, and raised a hand.
“Listen carefully! We intend to look after every single Gear no matter what any of you think! We’ve decided to look after you and understand you even if you reject us or hate us!”
She breathed in again, her cheeks were slightly flushed after yelling, and she placed her hand on her chest.
“And I’m sitting here as a representative of that. …Top-Gear may have opposed us, but we will accept them too! That is why I rejected myself like that. As long as I’m here, Low-Gear will accept anyone, no matter how much they oppose us!”
Everyone grew quiet, but another voice reacted sharply to that silence.
“That sounds nice, but what if that turns out to be a deadly mistake for you? Hm?”
As soon as Hajji spoke, Sf opened a new capsule.
“9th-Gear’s representatives. …One vote opposed.”
Hajji did not stand up. He indicated his opposition with his posture and Sf unfolded the other vote.
“One vote opposed.”
“That’s just gonna be how it is.”
The old manager scratched at his head and remained seated while his suppressed groan of a voice filled the room.
But that was not all.
“Next, Top-Gear. …One vote opposed and another vote opposed.”
Sibyl’s eyebrows drooped as she hung up five red flowers. Mikoku, who had a dog sitting next to her, and Tatsumi crossed their arms without standing.
This put the vote at one in favor and five opposed.
Sf then spoke again.
“Wait just a second.”
Izumo stood up and only then did Sf speak.
“One in favor.”
Boldman stood up, too.
“One in favor.”
There were three white flowers now while the red remained at five.
And a moment later…
Kashima and Tsukuyomi moved before their name was called.
As everyone watched, they assumed the two of them would stand to bring the tally to an even five each.
But everyone gasped when they saw what actually happened.
“Sorry. We’re pretty much the same as Low-Gear by this point, so we thought it would be safer to half reject ourselves like you did.”
Tsukuyomi wrinkled her brow in a bitter smile from her seat while Kashima alone stood.
“One in favor. One opposed.”
There were now four white flowers and six red ones. Top-Gear had the advantage.
The gap remained the same with thirteen votes remaining, so everyone looked to the moderator’s seat.
“One in favor.”
She turned to look at Hajji and the others.
“With our other white vote, we’ll be tied at six.”
But she was answered by a sudden stir in the crowd.
She turned to look at the source of the stir.
The black cat in the neighboring seat had not stood.
Just as her surprise and something akin to anger left her speechless, a voice reached her from the dark audience seats.
“Do you understand why we did this, Brunhild?”
“If you say it was to protect yourselves, I’ll abandon 1st-Gear right here, Fasolt.”
“That isn’t it. It really isn’t, Brunhild. This was the decision our pride led us to.”
He used his lung capacity to say it all at once with an admonishing tone.
“At the very least, some of us temporarily received the Army’s help. They helped maintain Lord Hagen’s Fafnir and found a hideout for the City faction. It seems they were acting on a few different personal grudges, but we must not forget what they did for us.”
“Without them, nearly half of us would have had nowhere to go and died.”
Brunhild tightly clenched her fists as she listened.
Part of her refused to accept that, but…
…My role is to be the 1st-Gear representative that stands on Low-Gear’s side!
She used that thought to remind herself that she had not betrayed herself.
So she spoke up before the black cat could say anything.
“Understood! It’s true I couldn’t have maintained Lord Hagen’s body or found a hideout for us. And…I wouldn’t have been able to cast an opposed vote like that!!”
“Brunhild,” said the black cat. “Are you going to bully me?”
Everyone ignored the cruelty that followed, so Sf went on to open the next capsule.
As soon as she read the Gear name, Miyako answered.
“Yeah, I’m opposed and Gyes is in favor.”
Everyone looked to Miyako who remained seated.
But she placed her arms behind her head and stared at the flowers on the whiteboard behind her.
“This makes six white ones for Low-Gear and eight red ones for Top-Gear.”
Her tone was light and it did not seem to bother her that everyone’s eyes were on her.
“This is how it had to be. I’ll admit that Hajji guy pisses me off a fair bit, but without him, Apollo wouldn’t have lasted long enough to meet me. And, well…”
She turned to look at Gyes who stood with her eyes closed.
“Don’t worry about it. Let’s just say I wanted a reason to stay seated for the sake of the child in my belly.”
Miyako slapped Gyes on the butt and Gyes cried out and frowned, but Miyako paid her no heed.
She instead looked across everyone else.
“You heard me. Low-Gear is going to support us in the future, but it was that weird old guy that supported us in the past. …That decision wasn’t a mistake.”
She released a relaxed sigh.
“Personally, I wonder if maybe the past and the future could get along with each other. Well, I guess that’s too much to ask for.”
No one could respond to her casual comment, but Sf did move on to the next votes.
In the audience seats, Shinjou stared blankly at the whiteboard.
There were six white flowers and eight red ones and 8th-Gear’s were about to be added.
“One in favor.”
Ooki held a second white flower in anticipation as she walked over to the whiteboard.
…With two more for Low-Gear, it will be eight each. That leaves 4th, 5th, and 7th.
She assumed those three would side with Low-Gear.
Top-Gear had a two vote lead, but she was certain they would catch up and overtake them.
Everyone in the audience around Shinjou seemed to rise from their seats a little.
Several confused voices were uttered and Odor shouted at the lead.
“Why!? Why does Wanambi care about Top-Gear?”
The answer was immediately displayed.
On the floor in front of the representative seats, sand raced along like a snake and formed writing.
Everyone read it aloud and Shinjou herself realized what it meant.
“Oh,” she said as she stood up and looked at the further writing.
“Go with” “Shinjou” “Child” “Low-Gear” “Top-Gear” “Highest” “Lowest”
“It can’t be,” muttered Shinjou as she watched on with everyone else
However, she also knew nothing could be done.
“Because I’m a contradictory being, they did this to go with me?”
Wanambi had chosen both sides to be with the person who belonged to both sides.
I guess that makes sense, she thought while sitting back down.
Her body felt oddly weak.
…Are we…in trouble?
She wondered if it was her fault.
But she shook her head.
No, she told herself. This was Wanambi’s decision.
“5th-Gear. One in favor.”
Heo stood with her eyebrows slightly raised and Thunder Fellow’s vote was as expected.
“One in favor.”
Two white blossoms were added and they caught up.
Low-Gear and Top-Gear both had nine votes.
Shinjou exhaled and looked down at Heo who looked back and nodded.
Heo’s expectant gaze then turned toward the two plant creatures.
There was a fear that the plant creatures would only count as a single vote because they were a single being.
…One of them represents Mukiti.
Shinjou told herself they would count as two votes and that Low-Gear would pull ahead here.
She breathed in when she heard the name she was hoping for.
The rest of the audience nodded in acknowledgment of the coming reversal.
And Sf responded by reading the votes.
“Both votes…are invalid.”
“Eh?” said Heo. “Wh-why!?”
She spoke the question on everyone’s mind and the two plant creatures placed their front legs on the desk.
“The same. The same.”
They looked at Heo, at their surroundings, and at Sayama.
“Not different from Sayama.”
Heo felt a chill run along her spine when she heard the creatures’ innocent voices.
She knew what they were thinking.
“So you’re saying Sayama’s vote…counted as yours?”
Their excited answer received silence in response.
“4th-Gear not extra. With Sayama.”
“If add more, then different. Then not with.”
Heo almost protested and said that would put Sayama in danger.
“This is what 4th-Gear is, isn’t it?”
“Heo T understands!!”
While feeling tension build in her heart, Heo saw the plant creatures nod.
…Wh-what’s going to happen now?
Both sides had nine votes for a total of eighteen. With two invalid votes, twenty votes had been used up.
That left three votes.
Sf nodded once and looked to the whiteboard.
“Please add the invalid votes as one in favor and one opposed. We do not want it to look like they had no say in the matter.”
Ooki and Sibyl added an extra flower below the others but with a slight gap from those others.
That made a total of twenty.
Heo’s heart skipped a beat when she realized there were only three votes to go.
Hiba listened as the automaton began to read the votes.
However, instead of reading what they said, she held up the ballots.
Both of them were blank.
And with them held up, she asked Hiba a question as the proxy for the representatives.
“What is the meaning of this? I told you to press the front of the sphere against the ballot for ‘in favor’ and the back for ‘opposed’. Like 4th, have they refused to vote?”
Hiba stood up.
“Um, how am I supposed to explain this? It’s kind of complicated.”
He hesitated, held his head in his hands, groaned, wrapped his arms round his body, wiggled, and bent backwards.
“Hiba boy, that is getting creepy, so stop.”
“I-it’s creepy when I’m not sure what to say!?”
“Raise your hand if you think it is creepy.”
Hiba hung his head when he saw everyone raise their hands and even saw Wanambi spelling out “Raised hand” and “Agree”.
“But I really don’t know what to say. Maybe I should break the tension with a joke. …Kazami-san, if you throw your chair, you won’t have anywhere to sit.”
He sighed and gave Sayama a troubled look.
“It would be so much easier if I could just say they’re both votes for Low-Gear. …Should I say that?”
“I have a feeling your careless question has ruined that plan.”
Hiba thought back on what he had said and Sf spoke up.
“In other words, both votes are invalid?”
“Ahhh! I think I screwed this up!!”
“That does not matter,” said Sayama. “Now, what happened? Why did 7th-Gear vote this way?”
“Well,” replied Hiba as he recalled the question-and-answer session and looked to the four spheres floating around him. “They longed for a world they would never grow tired of. They found that world in Low-Gear, but…”
This is what they decided, he told himself.
“They do not want a ruling organization. I think what they want is the heavens and the earth of Low-Gear, regardless of who is right or who is wrong.”
Sayama nodded and looked behind him.
Hiba looked too and saw nine votes on both sides with two more a bit below those nine. But after all this, the votes remained perfectly even.
“That leaves…” began Sayama.
Sf nodded, pulled the final capsule from the ballot box and tossed it into the air.
“This would be 10th-Gear’s.”
Kazami looked to the airborne ballot capsule and closed her eyes.
Oh, crap, she thought.
…I hit her with everything I had a month and a half ago.
If she votes for Top-Gear, will it be entirely my fault?
Kazami shouted a rejection in her heart.
She had G-Sp2 which contained 10th-Gear’s Concept Core, so 10th could not neglect Low-Gear.
That’s right, she thought while breathing in and opening her eyes.
She looked to the left and saw Izumo beyond a few other people.
That boy was Jord’s grandson and he was on UCAT’s side.
What? she asked herself.
Her eyebrows rose as she gave a silent prayer: Don’t let us win.
She prayed while hoping that expectation would be betrayed.
Hajji hid his mouth.
He asked himself what was going to happen and received a rational answer.
…So this is how it ends.
With the answer in mind, he crossed his arms again.
At the same time, the automaton caught the falling ballot capsule.
The automaton’s voice read off the vote that would determine everything between the two Gears which were tied at nine votes each.
Her emotionless voice filled the library.
“One vote for 10th-Gear.”
Shouting broke out.
“What!?” asked some voices.
“Why!?” bellowed others.
Some simply cried out in surprise.
The loudest voice of all was Hajji’s after he stood up.
He breathed in.
“This is nothing worth getting upset over, Hajji. Have you forgotten the Concept War already?”
Jord stood and looked across everyone with her chest calmly and proudly thrust forward.
“10th-Gear’s gods are the strongest of any Gear, so we can’t exactly let anyone rule over us. We will always stand at the top of the world, no matter where we are.”
“The possibility had occurred to me, but are you really trampling on the answers everyone else has-…!”
Hajji began to step forward, but someone grabbed his hand to stop him.
It was someone who had circled around to his side.
“Father, thank you,” she said. “But didn’t I tell you the results would be interesting?”
Surprise filled Hajji’s face when he saw her troubled smile.
He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth just once.
“So I was the one that did not understand what I was seeing.” He took a breath. “So this is the kind of balanced result the world wanted.”
When she heard that, Shinjou ran down from the audience seats.
She rushed to Sayama’s side and unfolded a white cloth. It was the napkin on which Sayama had written his predicted results.
She gasped and looked between the napkin’s numbers and Sayama’s slightly sweaty face.
“You were exactly right.”
“Of course I was. The world is mine, after all.”
He grabbed Shinjou’s hand and lifted it and the napkin into the air.
“The world is written here. And the hand holding it belongs to the girl who was born of that world. She truly is a child of god.”
“Are you still saying that kind of thing?”
Shinjou ignored Kazami and the others who spread their collars and looked up in annoyance, but then she tilted her head.
“But…what happens now?”
Hearing that, everyone looked to the whiteboard behind the representatives.
Ooki and Sibyl’s differently colored flowers were blossoming there.
Eleven were red.
Eleven were white.
Jord’s vote was considered invalid, so another white and red vote were added to each.
Both sides now had an equal twelve votes.
When they saw the numbers and colors, the elderly representative of some country’s UCAT spoke quietly.
“Oh,” they said. “It looks like flowers blooming on twin trees.”
Another voice seemed to speak in agreement.
The dignified voice belonged to Mikoku as she stood from Top-Gear’s representative seat.
She and the dog by her side looked to only one person: the boy in a suit who could be called her opponent.
“This is the answer reached by the Gears,” she said. “And I have a suggestion.”
“What might that be?” calmly asked Sayama.
Mikoku thrust out her right fist.
“We settle this. At this point, the Gears will accept whichever side wins. And with that in mind…”
She made a decisive declaration as if to stifle all else.
“I wish to hold a battle between Top-Gear’s and Low-Gear’s representatives!”
Surprised, everyone turned around toward a certain noise.
The emotionless moderator automaton was clapping.
“An excellent suggestion. This will end the trial and vote and thus complete the scheduled meeting. So that we may all arrive at our respective conclusions…”
She curtsied. All of the automatons present grabbed their skirts below the dim lighting and lowered their heads.
“Please bring this to an end.”
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