Owari no Chronicle:Volume13 Chapter 39
Chapter 39: Empty Roar
If this is goodbye
Then it is just like thunder during an evening of clear skies
Lights began to appear in the city as evening arrived.
It was not long until Christmas and the end of the year.
The sky was a dark mixture of red and purple and the city did its best to illuminate it from below.
Below that light, warmly-dressed people carried a variety of things and cars clogged the streets.
A couple walked through the many footsteps, rumbling engines, speaking voices, and blaring horns.
It was a blonde girl in a jacket and a dark-skinned boy in a black coat.
The girl walked ahead, drawn in by the broiled chestnuts and lotteries at the surrounding stores, and the boy grabbed her collar to pull her back in front of him.
“Heo, don’t wander around so much. You’ll run into someone.”
“H-Harakawa, the city streets are supposed to be an exciting place toward the end of the year.”
His breath appeared white in the air as he pulled Heo alongside him.
He then looked down the street, where the train station’s roundabout was located beyond a wide arcade.
“I certainly didn’t think we’d end up wandering around near Hachioji Station. If we’d gone to Harajuku or Shibuya, you could probably have bragged about it to your classmates.”
“It’s entrance exam season for all of us, you know?”
Heo smiled with her eyebrows lowered, so he eventually said “sorry” and nothing else.
But then she raised her eyebrows again while still smiling.
“Aren’t you worried about my entrance exam?”
“Don’t come to my school.”
“That’s just mean! Y-you don’t have to be so blunt!!”
“Shut up. Lately, I’ve been thinking that your disease will get worse if you come to my school.”
She frowned and tilted her head.
“The center-of-the-world disease.”
“I thought you were serious for a second, but you’re lying, aren’t you?”
“That’s what everyone with the disease says. The symptoms are doing and saying things others find incomprehensible, having your thoughts tend heavily toward radical directions, and becoming so perverted you lose sight of your surroundings.”
She nodded as she listened and then smiled.
“Are you still going on about that? …Everyone’s like that, aren’t they?”
“That means they’ve all come down with the disease. …It’s probably a moral infection and your initial symptoms are quite severe.”
“Th-then why are you okay!?”
“Most likely, I have moral antibodies. They must be of a type that has yet to be discovered.”
“Th-then.” Heo smiled and clapped her hands. “Please fill me with your moral antibodies!”
The surrounding people stopped walking when they heard her.
She stopped too with her smile frozen on her face.
“Did I just show symptoms again?”
“Just come here,” said Harakawa while dragging her out in front of the station.
The roundabout had been expanded in the past few years and a large-scale parking garage had been built underground.
That was due to the development race with the neighboring cities, but Harakawa did not think about whether that was for the best or not. He felt that was something for the local people to decide.
People looked fondly back on the old days, so in fifty years, they might be looking fondly back on this scenery.
“Harakawa,” said Heo without warning.
He turned around and saw her looking up at the Hachioji Station building and the narrow strip of sky past it.
The light of a surveillance plane could be seen there as it followed their position.
Heo’s expression was calmer than before as she looked up at the flashing red light.
“What is the meaning of this fight?”
“That’s a pretty dangerous thing to say after suddenly looking up into the sky.”
“Y-you’re too realistic, Harakawa.”
“No,” he said while looking up at the same spot. “Once the fight is over, I’ll be the unrealistic one. And that sky belongs to you, Heo.”
She fell silent, but he ignored that and touched the protective necklace his mother had made.
“I will live on while looking fondly upon reality.”
“Y-you can’t do that!”
He turned toward the shout that caused the surrounding people to look over again and he saw Heo with her eyebrows raised.
“You’ll be with me, too. After all…you’re the only one I’ll let ride me!”
The surrounding people ground to a halt once more.
After ten seconds passed, the crowd resumed walking while whispering something.
Heo groaned and Harakawa patted her shoulder.
“Try not to speak too much. The symptoms have a way of worsening when you say or do things.”
She blushed, hung her head, and pointed at a nearby broiled chestnut stand.
“I’ll be quiet, but…I want that.”
“So you want the food stand? Or is it the old guy running it? Which is it?”
“What the stand is selling.”
“You’ll gain weight.”
“I-if you only look at the result, you miss the fun of the process.”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard someone make a logical argument to excuse their overeating.”
Harakawa looked annoyed, but he reached into his pocket and began to pull out his wallet.
But then a red package was held out in front of him…no, between him and Heo. It was a package of broiled chestnuts.
He did not bother wondering when the person had appeared. He simply faced the fact that she was there.
She wore a brown coat, let out a white breath, and smiled at both him and Heo.
“Have a souvenir. A souvenir of your defeat.”
Below Kanda, two red dots appeared on the map of Tokyo displayed on the ceiling.
They were located in Hachioji of western Tokyo.
“Heo-sama, Harakawa-sama, and Tatsumi-sama have begun their battle.”
Hearing that report from the surveillance plane, Ooshiro crossed his arms.
“Are the pairings essentially random?”
“Testament,” replied #8. “Did you want Hiba-sama to fight Tatsumi-sama?”
“No, that would have had a pretty high cruelty coefficient and it would have become a much more personal battle. …If only I could take part.”
“Testament. So you finally wish to die. Congratulations. That is a wise decision.”
“Wow, you’re not even going to try to comfort me!?”
He scratched his head and sighed.
“But I do have a photograph of Tatsumi-kun from when she was living with the Hiba family. I could have used that to negotiate.”
“In other words, you were taking secret photos of her?”
Without even waiting for him to respond, #8 grabbed the collar of his lab coat.
“Excuse me! Is anyone here a police officer!?”
“Wait!” shouted Ooshiro while waving his hands back and forth.
At the same time, a somewhat weak-sounding voice arrived from the surveillance plane.
“The battle…is over.”
Even the automatons at the consoles reacted in surprise.
They looked around in confusion and found one of the red dots had vanished from the map on the ceiling, leaving just the one.
A few of them frowned as they reviewed the data arriving from the surveillance plane.
Most notably, they were looking at the elapsed time.
A quiet voice filled the Kanda Laboratory.
“It seems the battle only lasted…12.04 seconds.”
The battle was composed of a series of instants.
The very first move was made by Heo’s voice.
Almost as soon as the concept space expanded, a giant mechanical dragon appeared behind Heo and Harakawa.
He had only just appeared, so he had yet to combine with the Vesper Cannon. The cannon was stored as one of his frames, but he needed to reach a certain altitude before combining with it.
They had not summoned Thunder Fellow ahead of time because he used power even in standby mode. To lower his reactor’s power, he needed to return to his concept space and rest.
His summoning was instantaneous, so this was not a real problem. In fact, it was helpful because it allowed them to store up his power to a certain extent.
…Let’s win this.
Heo’s desire for victory was the natural thought for someone with a mechanical dragon form. She knew she was the greatest power of Team Leviathan and of the Low-Gear representatives.
And a moment later, both Thunder Fellow and Tatsumi took action.
Thunder Fellow immediately brought Heo and Harakawa inside his cockpit while Tatsumi drew a long Japanese-style Cowling Sword from her back.
After boarding Thunder Fellow with Heo, Harakawa had a certain thought: where was Typhon?
This concept space contained 5th-Gear and 3rd-Gear’s concepts. The god of war named Typhon had no will of its own, but Tatsumi’s remote control would work better here than in Low-Gear’s normal environment.
However, the answer came from a surprising location: Tatsumi’s hands.
While her right hand held the sword’s hilt, her left held a cup of Bizarre Crybaby Cherry Blossom sake.
Thus, she was not remotely controlling Typhon at the moment.
…Where has she hidden it!?
Harakawa had Thunder Fellow keep up a continuous scan of Tatsumi’s left hand. If she let go of the cup, he wanted to know about it.
The very next moment, Heo was absorbed by Thunder Fellow and Harakawa had Thunder Fellow back away.
However, he did not leap back.
“Fire the main canon!! Use the recoil to put some distance between us!”
The main cannon was only at half power, but that was more than enough for a human target.
And it then fired that “more than enough” power.
The beam of light shot from Thunder Fellow’s mouth and his giant form was blown backwards.
His words gave form to his desire.
The light flew in a straight line and did indeed strike the individual standing on the roundabout.
However, it did not hit her directly; it instead hit the Cowling Sword in her hand.
“Harakawa! That sword is the one Hiba’s dad was using in that dream we saw!”
Heo and Harakawa stopped Thunder Fellow in front of a building across from the roundabout and checked on the situation.
Tatsumi’s blade created an arcing silver afterimage. It had wholly absorbed the light from Thunder Fellow’s main cannon.
It happened in an instant.
There was no sound and no wind. Even the light and power had vanished, leaving only the scorching afterimage behind.
Tatsumi stood with her sword lowered in her right hand and her cup of sake in her left hand.
And after the instant passed, Heo spoke quietly.
“Come to think of it, those chestnuts are…”
“Yeah,” confirmed Harakawa.
He looked forward and saw the red package sitting on the cockpit’s main console even though they hadn’t taken it.
Tatsumi had to have given it to them while they were boarding the dragon.
During the next instant, Tatsumi swung her right hand. She reversed her wrist and snapped it upwards.
The long Cowling Sword drew an arc much like a swinging scythe.
It was coming.
Both Harakawa and Heo knew Hiba’s father’s sword could release enough power to easily slice through a building.
And here, they realized how that worked.
“That sword absorbs any power that hits it and then releases it!!”
Without bothering to agree with Heo’s conclusion, Harakawa made a quick decision: he flew.
He moved up and to the left to avoid the pressure flying from Tatsumi’s raised right arm. He used the dragon’s pressurizers to quickly ascend.
Typhon was not coming at the moment because Tatsumi’s remote control hand still held the cup, so their enemy had no aerial ability.
“Thunder Fellow! Prepare the Vesper Cannon!”
After flying upwards, they had space below the dragon for the Concept Core cannon.
That weapon was stored in Thunder Fellow’s concept space as one of his frames.
They only had to continue upwards and then fire back down to win. The sword might be an obstacle, but the shockwave and heat that a wide-range blast created around her would be enough.
And only an instant later, Tatsumi’s slash arrived.
She had transformed Thunder Fellow’s main cannon into pressure fired from her sword.
For the first time, Harakawa and Heo saw the light of their main cannon from head-on.
However, they had already calculated out its trajectory.
Thunder Fellow flew up and to the left in order to avoid the diagonal slash.
But an instant later, an unexpected attack hit the mechanical dragon.
It had not come from Tatsumi’s sword. It had come from a completely unexpected direction.
“Harakawa! Directly above!!”
Heo gave her warning just before it crashed into Thunder Fellow’s top surface.
It felt like the entire machine was struck from above and Harakawa bounced around in the cockpit.
His chest slammed into the console and he heard a few of his bones creaking.
“…!? What hit us hard enough to get through Thunder Fellow’s inertial defenses!?”
He read the warning message from Thunder Fellow flashing on the console.
There was severe damage to the upper armor and joints. And it had been caused by…
Harakawa looked up to check.
He looked back through the canopy and saw what had fallen on top of the dragon.
“Harakawa! It’s Typhon!”
He could see it for himself.
On top of the blue mechanical dragon, Typhon had Keravnos attached to its left arm with blue chains.
“She wasn’t controlling Typhon! It was simply falling from extreme high altitude! She had predicted what we would do, so she didn’t need to control it!”
Harakawa gasped and then he saw Typhon moving.
Light filled the white giant’s eyes as it stood up despite the impact having destroyed all of its armor.
At the same time, Thunder Fellow’s voice filled his mind.
“Tatsumi has finished her sake and threw the cup in a trash can, Harakawa!”
“She has time for that!?”
Anger filled Harakawa as he forcibly swung Thunder Fellow to the right.
He was trying to shake Typhon off of them, but the god of war flew forward itself. It spread its wings and made its way toward the roundabout.
He faced forward and saw Tatsumi with her empty left hand raised.
“Now, it’s time I finished this.”
As soon as her voice and smile reached him, Thunder Fellow summoned his weapon.
The concept space hangar opened and the mechanical dragon took out his Concept Core cannon.
Heo saw it play out in an instant.
Her body came apart below her stomach and the frame pulled away.
At the same time, Typhon landed behind Tatsumi.
Tatsumi would not have time to climb on top of the god of war and fly toward them.
The damage from Typhon’s collision had robbed them of their instantaneous speed, but it was still enough to fly up into the air and achieve subsonic speeds.
As soon as Tatsumi stepped onto Typhon’s hand, Thunder Fellow’s removed frame was stored in his concept space and a forty meter cannon came out to replace it.
The process took more than an instant. It required a full breath.
But that was still enough. They had time for it to connect and then fire on their approaching enemy.
But a moment later, Heo saw something else.
Typhon quickly swung up the right arm Tatsumi stood on.
Heo knew what the god of war had done, but it took her a moment to understand what it meant.
Typhon had thrown Tatsumi with all its might
…What is she-…?
Thunder Fellow’s voice brought Heo back to her senses.
She looked forward where Tatsumi had been thrown like an underhand line drive. She flipped around in midair and calmly raised her sword toward the dragon.
She flew toward them like a bladed shell.
But what was she going to do?
Her sword had no power stored inside it, so it was unlikely enough to slice through Thunder Fellow’s armor.
But as Heo saw Tatsumi smile and heard her laugh, she also heard Harakawa’s voice.
“Put the Vesper Cannon away!!”
“Wh-why!? We aren’t using a power her sword can absorb.”
“We are!” he shouted. “We’re using a destructive power right this moment! And she’s trying to absorb it!”
That power was…
“The power to open a concept space! The power to tear through space!!”
Tatsumi immediately spun around and used her midair rotation to swing her blade.
She was positioned just below Thunder Fellow’s right side.
She had gotten the timing just right: just after the Vesper Cannon was ejected and just before the concept space hangar closed.
Opening a concept space required a power that transformed space and Tatsumi sliced into that power.
She heard a sound much like shattering glass and felt the blow land.
The sword blade glowed dully to show it had gained a new power.
A moment later, she twisted her body and used the power she had only just received.
She poured it all into Thunder Fellow.
She made a horizontal slash. Even she had difficulty keeping steady after being thrown through the air at such great speed. It was enough for her body to cry out in protest.
However, she clenched her teeth and raised her eyebrows because this was worth it.
Thunder Fellow had already removed his frame and he was taking evasive actions to put some distance between them, so if she missed this chance…
…I won’t get another one!
That thought forced her sword along.
She had never let even Mikoku hear her put that much force behind her voice. She primarily fought by receiving attacks, but she actually released power from herself and it produced a clear result: space opened up.
That was her sword’s power now.
With a sound like a brass instrument being struck, the entrance to some other space was cut open.
It opened like a book and darkness was visible on the other side.
The spatial hole fired by her sword grew to the proper size to swallow its foe: the mechanical dragon attempting to take evasive action.
Without the support of its frame, the dragon failed to move in time and it was swallowed whole.
Thunder Fellow vanished into that foreign space in what seemed like no time at all.
Only air remained and the Vesper Cannon fell to the ground.
However, that was not all.
Just before Thunder Fellow had been swallowed up, he had fired lightning toward Tatsumi.
It was a desperate attack.
She trembled at the strike made even as the dragon’s defeat was certain.
Also, Thunder Fellow had sent two people from his cockpit and to the ground.
One or maybe both of them had fired that final attack.
…A desperate attempt at taking me down with them.
She then wondered if her true enemy could do that much.
The lightning approached, but she did nothing.
The reason why was obvious.
She had lost control, continued rotating from the excess force of her slash, and crashed into the window of a building across from the roundabout.
In the moment of impact, she absorbed the shock with her back, but the glass shattered before she could finish.
The lightning struck the building’s outer wall and knocked Tatsumi into the building.
After falling to the ground next to the roundabout, Heo had lost everything except for her own breath.
She called out quietly, but no one answered her.
She simply looked up into the stars in the night sky.
She knew why this had happened.
Thunder Fellow had been absorbed by the spatial slice Tatsumi had hijacked.
He had the ability to eject his stored parts, but he needed for Heo to call out to him if he was to leave the concept space himself. And that only applied to the space that existed between him and her.
But now, that power had been absorbed by Tatsumi’s sword and used to send him into a spatial slice not under his control.
“He won’t come out…even if I call for him…”
Her vision blurred as she spoke.
“I lost…so he…!”
What have I done? she thought. The words “careless”, “thoughtless”, and “failure” filled her mind and she could instinctually feel her defeat.
Her tears were proof enough of that.
The dispute between Low-Gear and Top-Gear had been riding on this battle and she thought about what it meant to have lost. Also…
…Thunder Fellow won’t appear anymore even if I call for him?
The power that supported her had been lost and defeated due to her own carelessness.
That double sense of fear filled her stomach with a bitter feeling and sent a tremble down her spine.
She got up to suppress the tremor and saw something like a gravestone sticking out of the roundabout.
It shined in the roundabout’s lights.
“The Vesper Cannon…”
She then realized she was at Typhon’s feet and that someone sat in the fourth floor window of the building beyond the Vesper Cannon and the roundabout.
Tatsumi shrugged from the broken windowsill with a trail of blood on the right side of her forehead.
She smiled, let out a white breath, and rested the Cowling Sword on her shoulder.
“It’s too bad you won’t get to bring the chestnuts back with you.”
Heo was shocked by Tatsumi’s words because she had lost something much more important than that.
She realized that the victor simply could not understand, more tears spilled out with each breath she took, and she thought about protesting Tatsumi’s words.
But she suddenly felt her vision going dark.
She realized the emptiness in her heart was greater than the protest in her heart.
She began to pass out as everything settled down into that emptiness.
She knew she could not allow herself to do that and that she would be fleeing responsibility in doing so, but…
She heard a voice from behind.
“Get some rest. And have faith that it’ll all be okay.”
Those were the words she most wanted to hear, but the ones she simply could not believe. However, she also felt arms wrap around her to embrace her from behind.
“You can share the responsibility with me, so…take this time to rest.”
She did not want to agree to that. Harakawa was in charge of piloting and attacking, but she was the one actually making Thunder Fellow move. She had been careless in a number of ways, which had led to this result, so she did not want to leave any of the responsibility with him.
“It’s okay. I’m telling you to do it.”
When she heard those words, she finally passed out.
She apologized but also thanked him as she fell into the shadows.
And as her vision sank into darkness, she wondered if Thunder Fellow was seeing something similar.
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