Owari no Chronicle:Volume14 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Slope of Meeting
In other words
Meetings are found
At the end of a mountain slope
The stars were quite visible in the winter night sky, but a few conditions had to be met for them to be seen.
First, the atmosphere had to be stable.
Second, there could not be any bright lights nearby.
Third, someone had to be there to see them.
A long runway in the mountains met conditions one and three and number two was underway.
The long runway’s lights were switched off, starting from the far end.
It was as if the runway was going dark and silent.
It took less than a minute for the three thousand meters of light to vanish between the mountain and forest.
Once the residual light faded, only one thing remained.
“The starlight, huh?”
A woman in a white armored uniform and a scarf let out a white breath as she looked into the sky.
Her semi-long hair shook as she turned back toward a shadow.
The dark blue shade from the moon and starlight was provided by a beach parasol raised on the runway.
A man in a black suit sat on a long chair below it while a maid set up a telescope next to him.
The man finished wiping his mouth with a white handkerchief and looked to the woman in the scarf.
“Ooki-sensei, are you in charge while everyone else is away?”
“Ah, Itaru-san. You’re older than me, so don’t call me ‘sensei’. I am grateful, though.”
The maid responded to Ooki’s comment while adjusting the angle of the telescope.
“Then may I refer to you as Ooki-sensei?”
“Of course. Oh, I can’t wait to teach a class with someone like you in it, Sf-san.”
“…I have determined I will not do that.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Itaru. “So did everyone else decide you were useless?”
“Th-that got specific in a hurry! ….And that isn’t it. Kanda needs some support with concept related things. They needed someone to work with them from here, so I stayed behind.”
“Then why are you out here?”
“Well, after I finished linking the devices, there was nothing more for me to do.”
Sf and Itaru began whispering to each other.
“She was definitely excluded.”
“Is this what they call ostracism, Itaru-sama?”
“D-don’t say that loud enough for me to hear you,” complained Ooki. “And you know what?”
She raised a finger to gather their attention.
“They needed someone to keep them informed on Shinjou-san and Mikage-san’s conditions.”
“Then why aren’t you in the medical room or the development department?”
“I always get lost when I go underground,” she admitted with a hand on her head and a smile on her lips.
“Itaru-sama, I have never before seen someone so innately uncooperative.”
“Have you never looked in a mirror? Then look at your hand. That’s you.”
Sf looked at her palm as instructed.
“I have determined this is very philosophical.”
“Oh? Do you know how the character for ‘philosophy’ is written? By ‘bending’ your ‘mouth’. Into a frown. That’s often how I feel when I see you. Philosophical, isn’t it?”
“Tes. I have determined that is because I was made in Germany, the homeland of philosophy. Therefore, my every action requires an understanding of philosophy to grasp.”
“Oh, is that why seeing you fills me with melancholy and an urge to kill myself?”
“Tes. I have determined that is one of the trials of life. There are both mountains and valleys in life, after all. …Why you choose that treacherous route instead of the level sea is beyond me, though.”
“That’s because of you!!”
Ooki smiled as she listened to them.
“You two sure get along well.”
“Ooki-sensei, you’re too quick to assume there is good in everyone. She’s more than enough to prove that idea wrong.”
“Tes. Because that is what you wish for, Itaru-sama.”
Itaru let out a white sigh and collapsed back in the long chair.
But Ooki turned to Sf instead of him.
“Then what would you be like if Itaru-san didn’t wish for that?”
Sf tilted her head a bit, placed her hand on the set-up telescope, and replied expressionlessly.
“I was created exclusively for Itaru-sama, so there is nothing else I could be like. Even if identical models were mass-produced at some point, I have determined that I would be the only one that is me.”
She placed her other hand on her chest.
“An automaton’s heart is metal, so that point will never change.”
Ooki scratched her head and looked to the telescope Sf’s hand rested on.
“Do you like to look at the stars?”
“Tes. Itaru-sama does.”
As they turned toward him, Itaru let out an annoyed comment.
“It’s an old habit. We used to do this a lot.”
He viewed the dark runway through his sunglasses.
“We would shut off all the lights without permission, use a lantern to set the mood and keep track of our footing, and get all excited over seeing Saturn’s rings or something.”
Ooki glanced around, but saw no one else on the dark asphalt beyond her white breaths.
Everyone had either gone to Kansai or was working down below.
However, Sf suddenly opened her mouth.
“I can estimate that Itaru-sama imagines that there are people around him when he looks at the sky in an empty place.”
“Don’t speak for me,” he said while still looking to the runway. “But when you turn out all the lights, it feels like everything has already ended here. …Ooki-sensei, we’ll be taking care of a job down below in a bit, but don’t turn the lights back on.”
“Eh? But won’t that be a problem when the others get back?”
“Do as your supervisor tells you,” he said. “I’ll give you some orders soon, but until then, why not look at the stars?”
“Oh, can I mess with it?”
“Yes,” he replied with a shrug and a white sigh. “It’s better than having you go down and get lost.”
“Oh, yeah, I suppose so.”
“Then I’m counting on you. I’m sure I’ll have a few jobs for you.”
He let out another white breath as he spoke.
“You should be able to help those idiots fighting over Babel.”
The clash in the late-night mountain region began with a firefight between an American UCAT ground unit and a group of Top-Gear dolls waiting in the forest.
American UCAT made use of armor and explosives while the dolls kept their opponents in place with a hail of arrows and their mobility.
American UCAT put no limits on the quality and quantity of their explosives.
They poured in as much personnel as they could to push on through.
But that did not go as planned.
“What’s going on!? Our explosives aren’t as effective as they should be!”
The flying arrows pierced through the armored shield on the commander’s false arm.
The three arrows sticking from him were made of wood.
The voice that escaped his throat was filled with more confusion than pain: why?
His question was answered by his second-in-command who had taken one of the arrows to his shoulder.
“This is a concept of terrain protection! On natural terrain, the things closest to that terrain are more effective and anything unnaturally processed has its power rejected!”
“What kind of cheap fantasy story is this!?”
The commander scattered gunfire into the surrounding shadows to protect those following from behind.
“Are we overwriting the concept text to cancel it!?”
“We’re trying, but the large Kanda facility has to distribute their processing power elsewhere too.”
“But the enemy can focus on this battlefield, so we can’t overpower them, is that it!?”
Through the thinner parts of the dark forest, the commander saw new dolls arriving.
…They sure are persistent.
The dolls hit by their bullets would fall over but quickly get back up.
The metal bullets had a complex manufacturing process, so they caused little damage in this space.
The explosives and optical weaponry were the same.
“Dammit. Does this concept even affect conceptually strengthened concept weapons because they ‘aren’t natural’!?”
Each enemy might as well have been a solid wall and American UCAT’s defenses might as well have been made of paper.
And even just counting the ones they could see, there were more than one hundred dolls in the forest.
…How many of them are there in the mountains as a whole?
This was worrying and these dolls were not their only enemy. There had to be a main force as well.
The commander sprayed machinegun fire, but the bright sparks quickly vanished and the sound was absorbed by the forest.
Eventually, his ammunition belt ran out.
“Get me a reload! And have the following unit temporarily withdra-…”
He turned around to find his second-in-command was gone.
No, he was still there, but he had collapsed to the ground after taking an arrow to the front of both shoulders.
A moment later, someone shouted from behind them.
“Withdraw!! Get out of the forest!!”
At the same time, the commander felt a slight wind.
He turned just his head and saw a doll only twenty centimeters away.
By the time he wondered how it had gotten there, it wrapped an arm around his neck from behind.
That was when he realized that the dolls themselves were made of wood.
…They made them ecological to match this terrain!?
Their cooling, armor, mobility, and everything else was taken care of by the protection provided by the concept space’s concept text.
Most likely, their actual design only included the bare minimum.
They had been carved down, given moving parts and controls, and then painted.
We’re losing to them? thought the commander.
But his troops’ concept weapons were useless against the dolls’ conceptual defenses.
The automaton’s right hand shot up in front of him.
It held a black knife made of polished obsidian.
It was coming for his throat, but he took that instant to move.
His trained reflexes linked with his survival instincts.
He sank down and forcibly grabbed the knife-wielding arm with his own right hand.
He then bent forward to lift up the slender form behind him.
He immediately flipped his lower back forward.
“Secret technique! One-Man Shoulder Throw!!”
He threw her to the right as if dropping her to the ground.
He had a lock on the doll’s arm, so she could not escape.
As if he had swung a tree branch, she fell head-first in a completely vertical posture.
He took something from his left hip and shoved it into the briefly upside-down doll’s mouth.
It was two hundred grams of C4 explosive with a conceptual protection applied.
The protection simply caused it to detonate when a password was spoken.
While brushing off the automaton’s chokehold and putting some distance between them, he gave a shout as soon as her head was going to strike the ground.
“Explosions are art!!”
A solid sound accompanied the doll being blasted into the sky instead of hitting the ground.
The force of the blast was far smaller than normal, but that was due to the concept space.
Still, it had definitely blown her away.
…Even if it is just one!
He grabbed the collar of his still-breathing second-in-command and tried to pull him to his feet, but then the airborne doll did something odd.
She had been sent upwards while upside-down, but she then bent both her knees forward.
The legs wrapped around a thick tree branch passing through the darkness above and she swung like a pendulum.
The commander stared blankly upwards as the doll swung twice to build up speed.
And she jumped straight down.
She flipped around once in the few meters of space available, landed with her body turned to the side, and looked right at him.
He saw a scorch mark on her mouth as if blood was oozing out, but that was all.
“That didn’t affect you!?”
As if to answer him, the doll shook her head and spat something onto the ground.
It was a single tooth made of wood.
The action seemed to be showing him how much it had affected her.
She was saying to thank her for taking that much damage.
Simply put, it had not affected her at all.
He gulped and confirmed something with his sense of hearing.
He could hear something, but it was not gunfire or shouting voices.
He heard a voiceless silence and soft footsteps approaching him through the underbrush.
Figures stood in the surrounding forest…no, in all of the darkness he could see.
These figures were not his fellow soldiers. They were all dolls wielding knives and bows and arrows.
Impossible, he thought. All of my comrades were taken out?
“We were hoping to make a successful assault, but we couldn’t even act as a proper diversion…”
He clenched his teeth. The only upside was that the following unit had been able to withdraw.
But he picked up a machinegun lying on the ground.
He exhaled and did not bother wiping the sweat from his brow.
“I’m not going to lose here.”
He was well aware the voiceless dolls were not going to reply.
“I may have no power, but I do have a will.”
“If I can lose with that, then this world is done for!!”
He knew it was not going to work, but he still raised the machinegun like it was some kind of ritual.
The dolls began to move at the same time.
They rushed toward him like a wind blowing through the forest.
The countless blades and flying points were trying to tear into his body, not his will.
It only lasted an instant.
Just as he prepared to squeeze the trigger, everything was swept away before his eyes.
It looked like a white gale, but…
…A shell!? No…
It was a train.
The high-speed train measured over two hundred meters long and it used its speed to become a high-speed shell and plow onto the battlefield, breaking through the conceptual protection on the way.
A shockwave raced by, trees were toppled, and the commander too was blown away in an instant.
But in that instant, he saw the train tearing into the ground, racing through the sounds of destruction as it fell on its side, and yet continuing on in the direction American UCAT had been trying to go.
He stopped when he hit a tree and he laughed in the blowing wind.
He could see a mechanical dragon and a black god of war flying and repeatedly clashing in the sky.
The train was no longer visible, but he had noticed that the front car was partially destroyed.
He doubted it could carry its passengers all the way to Babel.
But that was enough.
Mountain climbing was best done on foot.
“Ha ha,” he laughed in the wind.
He could see twin lines of bent and twisted metal laid out along the path the train had taken.
He could not stop laughing when he saw that and he sat down at the base of a tree.
“So they laid a manmade track to decorate the path we made.”
He raised his voice while hoping it would ride the wind and reach them.
“Keep going, you bearers of strength!!”
The train stopped near a ridge in the western Mount Ikoma region.
Susahito Custom’s attack had kept Alex’s cannon blast from scoring a direct hit, but the front car had still been knocked on its side, twisting the other cars in the process.
It had of course been the automatons who saved them when all of the cars were about to slam into the mountainous terrain.
They had fixed the track below the train like a sled, so the train had become a high-speed shell sliding along the slope and into the mountains.
After placing the cars gently on the mountain slope, the forty-two automatons were too overheated to move.
The front car was almost entirely destroyed.
The rest had had their armor destroyed and not a single window had survived.
However, the passengers were almost entirely unharmed.
They worked to carry the unmoving maids into the shadow of the train.
“Let’s go,” said Kazami as they all started up the slope.
If they crossed the ridge, it was all downhill from there. They would reach Babel in no time.
They had received a report saying American UCAT would regroup and follow the path they had created.
Also, American UCAT’s mechanical dragons had arrived and were crushing the dolls like tanks.
But when they reached the top of the ridge and looked down, they all saw a shadowy tower rising toward heaven in the vast night.
Below, a forest surrounded the tower, but that forest was broken by the slope they stood atop.
The rocky way down was about five hundred meters and there were enemies there.
The slope was covered in dolls and…
“The sky too,” said Sayama.
Indeed, a few dozen figures were visible in the sky.
They were dolls wearing black armored uniforms with black wings spread.
Izumo responded by resting his large Cowling Sword on his shoulder and saying the following:
“Even more dolls, huh? How many variations are there?”
“Ooshiro-san must be happy with this many dolls around.”
“I-I don’t like dolls that much.”
Hearing that, #8 turned toward Ooshiro and he gave a quiet shriek at the look in her eyes.
“Y-you are…different. Okay?”
“In other words, you hate me even more?”
“Y-you must not twist my words! I think you’re great! Yeah! You’re so great, #8-kun.”
“Testament.” #8 nodded. “In other words, you think being despised and beaten is ‘great’.”
“Is that all I am to people these days?”
They all made sure to ignore him.
That was when a voice reached them, carried up the mountain by the wind.
It was a female but deep voice.
“So you’re finally here.”
Kazami reacted before anyone else by adjusting X-Wi’s position on her back.
She was standing halfway up the slope and a giant hammer-style weapon rested on her shoulder.
“I’m not really taking Top-Gear’s side, but there’s something I wanted to check on.”
She was looking at Izumo and Kazami.
“You aren’t going to be betraying any expectations, are you?”
“Don’t worry,” replied Izumo with a serious expression. “I meet her expectations every night.”
Kazami’s kick sent him flying through the air and that signaled the beginning.
As Izumo flew below the moonlight, the dolls reacted and the others from UCAT began to move.
The white army and the black army rushed forward like avalanches moving both up and down the slope.
“Ha ha ha. Hurry on down!”
Jord’s words rang through the surge of people and voices.
A moment later, she raised her giant hammer in the shadow cast by the tower behind her.
“If you’re too slow, the world is gonna change!!”
A small white underground room in UCAT contained a bed in the center with lights shining down on it from the ceiling. It was an operating room.
The tones of the EKG sounded quietly as the doctor closed the wound on the back lying on the bed and applied a charm.
Next to him, Tsukuyomi wore her development department lab coat.
She looked to the doctor with a few swords in hand.
The doctor hesitated to answer.
“I managed to close the wound, but…”
The lines coming from the EKG printer had reached the falling line.
The doctor looked to Tsukuyomi.
“I think she will last like this. She must be fighting with her own willpower. To be honest, it’s a miracle she’s holding on like this.”
“Will she recover on her own?”
“No. The name concept is like a linchpin. It was applied under the effects of the Concept Core, so it will continue to carve into her life. If we could stop that, then we could make her life whole again, but…”
The doctor trailed off and lowered his head.
“I apologize. You already know all this.”
“Yeah.” Tsukuyomi nodded and looked around with the swords in hand. “From here on, it’s a concept battle. We have to see how much people can fight against the world of 2nd-Gear.”
She looked at the sleeping girl, at Shinjou’s closed eyes.
The EKG was beeping.
It was a quiet sound, but it was proof that the girl was fighting against that world.
“That girl always does give her very best effort.”
Tsukuyomi nodded and tension filled her face.
“I’m going to begin now, but call someone for me. …The world’s most powerful witch should be here. I could use someone that skilled with spells.”
Kazami and Izumo faced Jord.
Kazami was in the air and Izumo on the ground.
Kazami had just destroyed a few dolls and their fellow UCAT members had just vanished into the forest below.
Izumo had just stopped Jord’s hammer with his white Cowling Sword and put some distance between them.
Jord took a large step back and spoke while catching her breath.
“So dolls aren’t enough, are they?”
“No, they aren’t.” Kazami looked down at Izumo. “Even if they have the conceptual protection of the terrain, their joints still use wires and oil for smooth movement. If you cut them in just the right spot, they’ll lose their balance and fall.”
To do that, one had to keep up with their speed or be able to block their attacks.
Kazami and Izumo could do one or the other of those, so the dolls were keeping their distance.
“I see. So dolls really aren’t enough. …I thought you might have been relying on the Concept Cores, but it looks like you can actually fight pretty well yourselves.”
“You’re not bad without a Concept Core yourself.”
Kazami heard Izumo speak casually to his grandmother, but Jord only lightly replied, “That’s right.”
In that instant, Kazami realized the sounds of wings and thus the winged dolls had moved away.
The dolls on the surface had also moved far away from Jord.
…What are they doing?
Worried by how the dolls quickly moved several hundred meters away, Kazami asked a question.
“What are you going to do?”
“Something simple. I’m just going to show you how stubborn 10th-Gear can be.”
She raised the giant hammer with only her right arm and she smiled with one eye shut.
“Do you know what Concept Core weapon 10th-Gear made before making Gungnir?”
Kazami frowned because this was something Izumo had only just told her the night before.
“Right.” Jord nodded. “This is it right here. I picked it up from the reservation on the way here, so I’m going to see for myself just how you two will oppose a god!”
She then swung down the hammer.
When it crashed into the rocky slope and produced a metallic noise, Kazami heard a voice.
—Abilities are reversed.
At the same time, she saw her wings pick up speed in a certain direction: down.
Her wings of flight were now powering her fall.
Before she could even gasp, she crashed into the rocky slope.
Izumo saw Kazami fall toward the rocks.
She fell back-first, where her wings were.
Cautious of Jord, she had moved lower, so the fall happened almost instantly.
He ran over, but he was not going to make it in time.
She fell about five meters and she had lost her balance due to X-Wi, but he doubted she would mess up and fall on her head.
She hit the ground as he ran over.
That shout proved she was not too badly hurt.
Once he arrived, she placed her hands on her lower back while lying on the ground.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow…”
“A-are you okay, Chisato! Is it your butt!? Does your butt hurt!? What a naughty butt! I may have to confiscate it! Like this!? Like this, right!? O-or is your butt just unspeakably naughty!?”
“The problem isn’t my butt! It’s your head!!”
Her fist flew, but…
She never reached him and her fist swished harmlessly through empty air.
X-Wi lay between her back and the ground and the metal backpack had pulled her down.
She could not get up from the ground.
She raised her arms and swung them around, but X-Wi did not follow her movements or even budge.
It almost seemed glued down.
“What is going on?”
She looked over her shoulder toward X-Wi and Izumo tilted his head.
“Did it get heavier?”
He reached for X-Wi himself and it easily moved. If he subtracted Kazami’s own weight from the weight he felt, X-Wi had to be about three kilograms.
“It’s not heavy at all?”
“B-but it’s really, really heavy.”
“No, that isn’t it.”
He let go of X-Wi and thought for a moment.
“Your special ability ‘Kong Power’ has been reversed.”
“How can you be so mean to a girl!?”
“Hey, calm down, Chisato. Think about this positively. This means your power comes from a kind of divine protection instead of from you. In other words, your Kong isn’t actually yours.”
“Oh, you’re right.”
Her face brightened and she gave a sigh of relief.
“Now I don’t have to be synonymous with school violence anymore.”
I have one hell of a girlfriend, don’t I? he thought as a strange feeling filled his heart.
Kazami then gathered strength in her abs to sit up.
She failed to sit up, but she kept trying.
It looked hopeless.
She sucked in air, sprawled out on the ground, and swung her legs to build up momentum.
But she still could not get up.
Izumo watched as she flailed her limbs with more grunts of “nwah” or “nn”.
…Damn. This is pretty nice.
“H-hey, Kaku, h-help me out a bit.”
“Sure,” he said as he cheerfully started removing her skirt.
“What are you doing!? We’re in the middle of a battle right now!”
“Calm down, Chisato,” he said as Kazami stopped moving. “My special ability ‘Adolescence 2005’ must have been reversed, too. That means I’m doing this with a pure heart. I am dedicating my life to keeping a pure heart.”
“Then that dedication is about to end.”
She swung her arms and legs, but she could not get up and thus could not reach him.
“Ah. Hey. Kh. Hit him.”
Watching her flail around helplessly calmed Izumo’s heart.
…Wow, this is just amazing.
He thought to himself while watching her struggle like a small animal.
…I need to keep trying tomorrow, too.
Suddenly, she got her hips up and forced a kick which hit him on the right arm.
It was a much more powerless kick than usual.
…That’s clearly not going to hurt or send me fly-
A moment later, he made five and a half flips and crashed into the ground.
The impacts and pain reached him directly.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow! What was that, Chisato!? You’ve got plenty of power!”
“N-no, I don’t!” he heard her say. “Your divine protection has been reversed!”
The damage he took was being multiplied by as much as it would normally be reduced.
He clenched his teeth and looked to their enemy.
Jord was smoking a cigarette ten meters away and the hammer was resting on her shoulder.
“Well, humans? Do you get it now?” She blew smoke from the twisted corner of her mouth. “All abilities are reversed right now. Even the ones people use to fight. Now, a question. It’s a nice question because it has a nice answer. So listen. …Can you tell me what my ability was originally?”
Izumo and Kazami exchanged a glance.
After looking at Kazami’s wrinkled brow, he turned back to Jord.
They both gulped and answered in unison.
“Not acting your age?”
“You people don’t make things easy, do you!?” Jord raised the hammer. “Met expectations. Everything will go exactly how I want it to! That is the power of a god!!”
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