Owari no Chronicle:Volume14 Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Although You Are Not Here
You are here
You are not here
In the depths of the night, a quiet electronic tone rang thrice.
It came from below a large wooden gate.
The gate was located in the center of a fence surrounding a lit home, a woman sat on the curb below the gate, and her wristwatch was beeping.
It was Ryouko.
The quiet beeping of her watch was not enough for the eyes behind her glasses to look down.
She stared up into the dark night sky and let out a white breath.
“Will I be able to end this for myself in another hour?” she muttered. “How should I put it?”
She reached for the paper cup of coffee sitting on the curb next to her.
The coffee had already gone cold and the hand holding it had gone pale, but she still brought it to her mouth.
“Feelings tend to fade with time, but they don’t go away. If you try to create a dividing line with time, things tend not to go well next time.”
As she spoke, the gate opened and a young man in a suit sat to her right.
She turned toward him.
“Kouji.” She glared at him. “Why were you off doing your job and ignoring your sister?”
“You were the one that told me to leave this to you!”
“Yes.” She frowned. “You just don’t understand how girls try to show off. …What would you do if a girl told you to leave things to her in front of several hundred enemies!?”
“I would check her past records, her odds of victory, and her catch phrase to see whether I could leave it to her or not.”
“Wow, that sounded like something a smart person would say! …Become stupid!!”
“It doesn’t really matter, but calm down, sister.”
Ryouko flailed her arms around.
“No, no!! I don’t wanna calm down!!”
“What kind of tantrum is that!?”
“More importantly, what brings you to your sister’s sanctuary?”
“Your sanctuary? This is our front gate.”
“Obviously, everywhere I am automatically becomes a holy site! You really don’t get the elder sister genre, do you!? Is that something pedophiles can’t understand!? Is it!? Daughter of the Takahashi family two houses over! Our Kouji is only interested in girls fourteen or younger, so you’re three years too late!!”
Kouji responded while hearing breaking plates and glass coming from two houses over.
“Please stop spreading nonsense about me! Since when am I a pedophile!?”
“Eh? Y-you actually want me to tell you? Oh, no. My brother really hasn’t noticed!”
Ryouko turned to Pes who had walked over.
“Right, Pes? Everyone knows that, don’t they? If you agree, then sit. …Sit! See, he sat! Even a dog can tell you’re a pedophile! It’s standard knowledge even in the Animal Prefecture recently added to Japan’s forty-three prefectures!!”
“I’m going to completely ignore that second half, but you clearly commanded him to sit!”
“Wh-what are you talking about? All I did was say ‘sit’! That wasn’t a command!”
He faced Pes and spoke in an entirely normal tone of voice to get Pes to stand back up.
He waited a few seconds, but Pes would not stand up.
After a few more motionless seconds, Ryouko gave a sudden cheer.
“Yayyy! I win! The animal compassion trial has found you guilty of pedophile justice (fourteen years of hard labor)!”
Kouji grabbed Ryouko’s hand.
She opened her hand without meaning to and some small reddish-brown objects fell from it.
Pes scooped the few pieces from the ground with his tongue and ate them.
“Sister,” said Kouji. “What kind of woman hides dog food in her clothes in the off chance that she can eventually use it to harass her brother!?”
“This kind right here. …D-don’t tell me you’re denying reality and seeing something completely different!?”
“I will admit there are times when I imagine an ideal sister and find my head drooping.”
“Wow! So imagining me makes you lean forward to hide your body’s reaction!?”
Ryouko blushed and pointed at Kouji with both hands.
“Honestly. If I ignore my feelings, that makes me blush! But if I let my feelings in…y-you scum! Stop relying on your sister for everything!”
“It’s kind of amazing how easily you assume you’re the same as someone else’s ideal.”
Kouji sighed and looked up into the sky.
“Hm? She isn’t back yet. There was an earthquake earlier, so maybe the trains have stopped.”
The last train of the night had long since passed.
They both knew that, but they discussed it regardless.
“Shino-san promised to buy us drinks…”
Ryouko pulled two drink cans from her pocket.
Kouji took them and looked at Ryouko who refused to look him in the eye.
She continued to look a little higher than straight ahead.
“I got these from Shi-chan. She told me you had taken good care of her. She said you lose a lot of points for being a pedophile, but that there are good hospitals for that so you need to work hard and reform your ways.”
“I’ll ignore that, but I asked her to buy three drinks.”
Ryouko paused before answering her brother.
“I drank the third one, of course. That one was yours.”
“I see.” Kouji stood up. “So Shino-san stopped by?”
“Then why are you still here?”
“I was seeing her off. And that’s gone into extra innings. We’re tied at the top of the eighteenth and I’m trying to keep pitching for the entire game,” she said. “More importantly, has the young master called? It seems like things are a huge mess over in Okutama.”
“He should be at school today and he’ll call if something happens. He wouldn’t die so easily.”
“You sure are carefree.” Ryouko smiled bitterly. “Well, I guess not.”
“I’m just not as serious as you.”
She rested her head on her hand.
At the same time, a sudden sound came from the sky.
The rumbling immediately moved from the northwest and vanished into the south.
“What was that?” asked Kouji. “It sounded really low to the ground.”
“A bigger one and a much, much bigger one flew by earlier.”
Ryouko let out a white breath and looked up into the black sky.
“Today’s been weird.”
She almost seemed to be reciting the words.
“I hope nothing happens to the young master and Setsu-chan.”
The Aki River ran east to west through southern Akigawa and a residential area was located along a series of windy mountains and forests.
The residential area was built on the northern slope of a mountain.
One of the houses there said “Kazami” out front.
It was a two-story house and there was no car in the garage. The nearby houses were all asleep.
That seemed to be why two people were breaking into the empty Kazami house.
The suspicious pair wore white clothes, the girl stood on the second story balcony, and the boy stood in front of the main entrance.
The suspicious girl commented on the fact that the balcony window had been carelessly left unlocked.
“I wouldn’t expect any less of me. I thought this might happen, so I forgot to lock up”
“If you want to take credit, don’t say you ‘forgot’, Chisato. Besides, you could get up that high with one quick hop using X-Wi.”
“The light would wake up the neighbors. And we’re wearing white, so we’d stand out, Kaku.”
“You’re realistic about the weirdest things.” Izumo sighed. “Wouldn’t it have been easier to head back to the dorm? We wouldn’t even have needed Susamikado to take us here from Okutama.”
“Hm… It’s true waiting in the dorm would be better than getting in everyone’s way as they work to recover in Okutama.” Kazami scratched her head. “But I feel like being at the dorm would bring its own difficulties.”
Down below, Izumo said nothing and Kazami knew he was urging her to continue.
“I mean, if we head back to school, we’d find the schoolyard where Shinjou was hurt and Sayama would be there. I’d feel like we should do something for him or speak with him. I’d just feel like I had to think about too much when it only just happened today…or yesterday I guess.”
Not even twelve hours had passed since Shinjou had been injured.
More and more horrible information had been pouring in for a while and she brought up the worst of them all.
“So Japanese UCAT is gone?”
The location of Japanese UCAT and IAI in the mountains of Okutama had collapsed and work was apparently underway to clear the roads.
Even now, they could hear the distant sounds of helicopters in the air and vehicles on the roads.
It had all been caused by the Leviathan’s main cannon blast.
…We can’t contact the people who were inside Japanese UCAT.
Japanese UCAT had been destroyed, so that was hardly surprising.
Due to the Leviathan’s information concealing concept, the people inside would not have realized it was approaching.
It was obvious what that meant.
The people in that underground space had been annihilated. Not even a trace of them would remain.
And they had no way of confirming it since they had vanished like that.
“It’s all because we didn’t make it in time.”
“Don’t let all that simmer in your mind too much.”
She nodded at the voice from below, but she could not help but imagine it.
Sibyl, Ooki-sensei, Diana, Harakawa’s mother, and Director Tsukuyomi would all have been there. Ooshiro Itaru and Sf would have as well and there would have been plenty of kind and courageous people whose names she did not know.
Kazami had heard Sayama’s roar reverberate into the heavens when Shinjou had been injured.
Returning to the dorm had been Sayama’s only option.
What would he do once he realized no one was there?
What would he do once he realized he had not avoided losing her even after she was saved from the life-carving concept?
Kazami shook her head.
She knew her thoughts had turned in an odd direction.
She was no different. She had lost something and so had everyone else.
But to her, the day’s entire incident seemed to have begun with Sayama’s roar.
…I’ve grown a little unsure what exactly it means to feel sorrow.
Should she let out a roar of her own, should she bear with it, or should she simply try to understand it?
She was not sure, so she decided to calm down as Izumo had suggested.
She opened the window in front of her.
She gave her pointless greeting and for some reason crouched low and removed her shoes before entering.
The room was dark, but it was her room. Izumo had never actually been inside it.
There was a simple reason for that.
“It’s full of things from before I met him.”
She looked around the dark room, but she relied on her memory more than her sight.
The room was mostly built around the stereo system she had had her father buy her when she entered middle school and the bed she had chosen during elementary school.
She had left the stereo system and bed behind when going off to high school because she had only brought what would fit in her bag and because a strange sense of independence told her she needed to grow up.
She had ultimately transported quite a lot by repeatedly bringing more over in her bag and Izumo had added even more, so things were less clear cut now.
Regardless, this was her foundation, so if she did not find it embarrassing, she felt that meant she had not changed.
“Hey, it’s cold out here!”
“Oh, sorry, sorry.”
She left her room and passed through the small living room on the left to reach the stairway landing. Her father’s study was on the other side.
She switched on the stairway light.
…Even if the neighbors notice, they won’t suspect anything if I head out and greet them.
She walked over to the entranceway and opened the door. She put on a smile and faced Izumo on the other side of the door.
She added in a flirtatious tone.
“What will it be first? Dinner? A bath? Or…”
Once she got that far, Izumo gave her a beaming smile, and…
“Right in the entranceway!?”
That was rushing things too much, so she attacked with her right fist.
Someone stood in the schoolyard at night.
It was Sayama in his white armored uniform.
The schoolyard was too large to see the other side and the concept space had already been removed.
It was now a normal space containing only the remnants of the year-end festival.
There was a wooden tower in the center and empty festival stands along the edges.
There was no sign of students or anyone else.
…There are no lights on in the school buildings.
Everyone must have been worn out from the winter Bon festival the night before, so they had all naturally dispersed to return to their resting places.
Sayama looked up into the sky.
He saw a single white contrail leading eastward toward Fussa.
That was the path along which Thunder Fellow had flown.
After taking a look at Okutama, Heo and Harakawa had dropped Sayama off at the school and then left for Yokota.
After dropping him off, Harakawa had told him to get some sleep.
A good decision, thought Sayama. He had not slept for a while, and…
He knew exactly what had happened. Japanese UCAT had been destroyed and everyone inside was gone.
He had seen the Leviathan’s attack with his own eyes.
American UCAT and the other nearby Japanese branches of UCAT had rushed over, but they were mostly making emergency repairs to and checking on the road and crust. It was not yet possible to check for survivors.
It was obvious that Japanese UCAT was lost and there was nothing Sayama and the others could actually do.
Fortunately, UCAT Director Ooshiro had escaped the destruction because he had gone with the others to the battle.
…He has the luck of a cockroach.
However, that had meant he could immediately contact them with instructions and to explain the situation.
He had given them a simple task after telling them he would contact them next in the morning.
“We are supposed to force ourselves to get some sleep without needlessly visiting the site of the attack.”
Otherwise, they could not put their emotions in order and they could not accept the truth.
And they would not be able to fight.
A battle still awaited them.
The Leviathan remained in the sky above Shinjuku, near the center of Tokyo.
The Leviathan had taken a direct hit from the great cannon hidden on the lowest level of Japanese UCAT, but it had not been destroyed.
It had taken such a powerful attack, but it was working to fully heal that injury.
It remained inside a Concept Space. The wide-range concept space production device in the Kanda Laboratory had forcibly grasped the one destroyed by the Leviathan’s attack and guided it into the sky above Shinjuku Station.
The massive concept space covered the eastern half of Tokyo.
The Kanda Laboratory’s personnel had been evacuated and eight duplicate devices were being used to trap the Leviathan.
The reports said it was not moving. It was imprisoned in the concept space, but it was rapidly healing its wounds. It possessed the power of all negative concepts, so it had more than enough power to escape if it wanted to.
Regardless, it remained curled up in the sky above Tokyo and it continued to evolve.
It did not try to move and Sayama knew why.
…It knows no one here can hope to oppose it.
…It’s more focused on changing the world than on some puny enemy.
The Leviathan was creating the positive concepts corresponding to the negative concepts.
Once that was complete, it would create a concept to make the world immortal and it would self-destruct.
That powerful dragon would stay where it was and accomplish what it wished to do.
It had easily evolved and recovered from attacks made by Concept Core weapons. Next time, its defenses would be powerful enough to endure a direct hit from G-Sp2’s divine dragon and the Vesper Cannon.
Its speed would surpass all else and its attacks would pierce through anything.
It was a massive weapon worthy of changing the world.
That was the enemy they had to fight.
That was the enemy they had to prepare for.
And that was why Ooshiro had told them to get some sleep.
Harakawa had told him to do the same thing.
“But…will I be able to sleep?”
Sayama looked to the school building.
“When I wake up, won’t the destruction of Japanese UCAT be confirmed and won’t I be forced to accept everything that has happened? …I am still not ready for that.”
He took a breath.
“I am not ready to accept that nothing remains of Shinjou-kun.”
He faced forward. As he walked toward the school building, he turned his gaze to his surroundings.
“Ahh,” he muttered. “Someone…”
His voice was swept away by the wind.
“Isn’t someone still having a festival? Can’t someone distract me?”
He continued walking through the abandoned field.
He squeezed out his voice and held his chest with his right hand.
“It hurts knowing you are nowhere to be found, Shinjou-kun.”
A festival was underway below the night sky.
A giant form floated three thousand meters above Shinjuku Station.
It curled up as if asleep and looked down on the festival below.
The festival was the night scenery of the city.
It was early morning on Christmas Eve. Lights filled the city around the station. The roundabout and arcade were decorated with a tree and lights.
Winter break had begun for the students and not many people were visible on the streets, but a lot of the homes had lights on in their windows and a lot of people were still visible in the windows of family-oriented restaurants.
However, all of the people were only pale, transparent blue shadows.
They were only shadows of the outside world visible in the concept space.
The form looking down on them was a fifteen kilometer dragon.
Its body would stretch from Shinjuku to Mitaka, but it was curled up in a space of five kilometers by five kilometers.
Its six wings were wrapped around itself and two people stood on its lowered head.
These people were more than shadows.
One was a girl wearing a black armored uniform and the other was an automaton with twelve pure white wings.
The automaton pointed to the southeast.
“Mikoku-sama, what are those lights? Over.”
Mikoku looked to the light in the distance.
“That is…Tokyo Tower. You should know that. You have a map in your head.”
“This is my first time seeing Low-Gear’s Tokyo. Over.”
“I am not all that familiar with Low-Gear’s scenery either.”
“It is pretty. Over.”
“Yes,” agreed Mikoku.
She sat on the Leviathan’s head, lightly tapped its armor with her palm, and looked to Noah.
“Are you sure you want to do this? …If you create a world, you will disappear, too. You, me, and this world will disappear and then be brought back to life.”
“But I have only one joy. Over.”
Noah spoke as Mikoku watched.
“The new world is my only desire. Over.”
Mikoku nodded and lowered her gaze.
A glass cage had formed on the Leviathan’s head.
“The ejection point for the concept extraction…”
The Leviathan had been made new through evolution. Just like its main cannon, this device used all of the channels in its body to focus its power on a single point.
A girl was inside the cage.
She wore white clothing and floated within dark blue light.
“Shino-sama,” said Noah. “She will be the first brought back to life. So…”
Noah searched for the right words.
“Do not worry, Mikoku-sama. Over.”
Mikoku nodded and looked down at the brightly-lit false city. It was filled with the lights of a festival.
“You will finish creating the positive concepts tomorrow, on the twenty-fifth. All we can do is wait until then for the new world.”
“Is waiting that much trouble? Over.”
“I will be fine. I can distract myself by watching the festival.”
“Really?” asked Noah without forgetting to add “over”.
After a moment, she gave a hesitating suggestion.
“Would you like to play shiritori? Over.”
“Shiritori? …Oh, we did used to play that, didn’t we? You still want to do that?”
“Testament,” replied Noah. “My creator taught me that game. Over.”
Noah spoke quietly to Mikoku.
“Everyone was so kind. Over.”
Sayama was in the dark Kinugasa Library.
He had considered returning to the dorm, but his feet had taken him to the library as he passed the school building.
He had somewhat set the dorm as his final destination.
That was where he had the most memories.
If he went there right away, he felt like he would be crushed under the weight of those memories.
He had decided to ease himself into his memories.
He recalled the past as he walked.
He thought back to the spring. Whenever he had gone to sleep, Shinjou would climb up onto his bed to wake him. Some accidents had occurred and he had ended up seeing her butt and pulling on her underwear.
He had not quite known if she was Setsu or Sadame at the time, so on a few occasions, he had considered pulling down her underwear as she slept or focused his mind in the off chance he had awoken to the psychic power to see through her underwear.
Unfortunately, his training had been insufficient and Shinjou had confessed before his powers had manifested.
…That takes me back.
A lot had happened during the summer and fall too, but he decided to immerse himself in those memories once he returned to the dorm. Still, he did remember how abnormally cute she had been at the end of summer when she had tried on her swimsuit one last time before putting it away for the year. She had even posed in front of the mirror.
Watching her from hiding had truly warmed his heart. She had knocked him to the ground once she noticed him, of course.
…That really does take me back.
He then realized he would never be able to touch her again.
…Could I imagine this library wall is Shinjou-kun?
He tried touching it. He placed his hand on the concrete wall and imagined the roundness.
He tried for three seconds before giving up. It was no use. Imagination was not an adequate substitute for some things. Especially when his impatience had led him to overlook the elementary fact that concrete was hard and cold.
…I really should have made a plaster mold of her.
Was some sixth sense at work when I felt the need to do that? he wondered.
Suddenly, he realized he was alone in the library.
He fell silent and sat in a nearby chair.
The day before last, they had held a meeting and trial in the library and Shinjou had rushed in at the very last moment to save him.
That was the very opposite of the situation during the Army’s attack, he thought.
“I really do think the two of us are well-balanced opposites,” he muttered. “I am so serious, pure, and moral, but you still find a way to naturally seduce me. It was wonderful how you would cheer me on even as I lost myself in your charm.”
He sighed and looked up to the ceiling.
He decided he would head to their classroom, leave through the emergency exit, and then maybe visit the cafeteria before returning to the dorm.
He removed Georgius from his left hand, spread his fingers, and looked to the ring there.
Shinjou had placed it there the day before last.
It was the final thing she had given him that had a physical form.
His gaze dropped to Georgius.
“I wish I could have told you that Georgius’s will was based on your father.”
He removed the other Georgius as well, placed them both on the desk in front of him, and finally lowered his head.
“Father, I am sorry.”
He kept his head lowered for a full five seconds, breathed in, and looked back up.
He took both Georgiuses and stood up within the empty library.
He spotted a certain color in the dark library.
That color was white.
It was sitting on a desk in the area designated as a rest area.
“A stack of paper?”
He remembered the day before when Shinjou had told him to wait and he remembered what she had been doing.
He ran over on reflex.
His leg slammed into a chair he had overlooked and his swinging arm collided with a desk in the darkness, but he did not even feel the pain.
He arrived at the desk and grabbed the stack in both hands.
He grabbed what Shinjou had created and left here.
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