Owari no Chronicle:Volume1 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Notification of Ignorance
What exactly is the enemy?
History? People? Common sense?
Or is it all of them?
Every sense in his body was telling him the window to the office floor below his feet was the ground. His left arm that hurt when he moved it was naturally hanging down toward the window. He used his right hand to touch the hem of his clothes and it was hanging down toward his feet as well.
“What is going on?” asked Sayama. “I do not know if you have the technology to control gravity or not, but this is strange. Why are only the things I am touching viewing the direction of my feet as down?”
He looked up toward the hangar above his head. Diagonal slopes had been built in places to connect the walls and ceiling. The area was arranged so that large equipment and that trailer could freely move about.
Sayama looked back down. Shinjou’s gaze met his from where she stood perpendicular to him.
“Shinjou-kun, excuse me, but I would like to try something.”
“Eh?” said Shinjou as she took a step toward him.
Sayama nodded and took her hand.
However, Shinjou remained standing on what was the wall to Sayama.
“So you do not fall this way.”
“D-don’t try such dangerous things.”
“I was prepared to catch you. Do not worry.”
“I’m not sure if I can…”
Ooshiro gave a bitter smile and said, “Unless you jump into the air, what is set as the ground will be constantly updated for you. In other words, the world always exists below your feet in this space. The concept related to gravitational pull has been altered.”
“I see,” said Sayama as he let go of Shinjou’s hand. He looked toward Ooshiro and continued, “What exactly is this power?”
“Let me ask you something instead, Mikoto-kun. How do you think you could explain this power? What if you met with academics and intellectuals from around the world and asked them what power can alter the world so conveniently?”
“They would say it is a trick.”
“Exactly. However, this is the truth. Now, another question. …What basis would they use for determining this is a trick?”
“That is obvious. This breaks the laws of physics.”
“Yes, yes. Indeed it does. Light is bent by gravity, but with this power, light only bends according to the direction set as the ground for it. Even if the real ground is in a different direction. But Mikoto-kun, when you talk about the laws of physics, what world’s physical laws do you speak of?”
“This world’s physical laws.”
“Then let me ask you something else. If alternate worlds did exist, on what basis would we determine they are different from our own? The terrain? The atmosphere? The life forms? Or perhaps the culture?”
With that question, Sayama realized the answer to it all.
He finally said, “Is this what you want to say? There was a world with physical laws fundamentally different from our own. And this power we are seeing follows that world’s laws!”
“Precisely. This world’s physical laws cannot be applied to other worlds. A world with different physical laws will naturally overturn the very basics of the physical laws we know.”
“But there have to be certain absolutes, right? Like the motion of light.”
“No, no. Even that is based on this world’s physical laws. When light is emitted, it spreads and continues on. But why does it do that? Why can’t there be light that does not do that?”
“That is simply what light is in this world, right? But,” Ooshiro took a step forward so their gazes would match perpendicularly, “what if light being that way was actually quite rare?”
“We only know how things work in this world. We assume the workings of this world are absolute. But what if there were a great number of other worlds and it turned out the rules of this world are great exceptions compared to the other worlds?”
“But we do not know of any other worlds, so we can only assume they would be the same as us.”
A bitter smile appeared on Ooshiro’s lips when he heard that response.
“True,” the old man said. “But another world is another world. They are fundamentally different. What we think is simply ‘how things are’ and what the other worlds think is simply ‘how things are’ are fundamentally different.”
“Are you saying,” Sayama looked down at his feet, “there is a world where this is how gravity works?”
Ooshiro nodded, walked over to the opposite window, and stood on it. He looked straight up toward Sayama.
“The ten other worlds and this world are perceived as individual gears and so we refer to them as such. 1st-Gear through 10th-Gear all had their own unique characteristics. And do you know what we called this power of ‘how things are’?” Without waiting for an answer, Ooshiro said, “Concepts. We called them concepts! They are a power that can control even the laws of physics. They are the ultimate reason behind everything. That is what concepts are!”
Sayama gulped at Ooshiro’s words and looked down toward his feet and then around his entire surroundings.
“In other words, the concept of ‘your feet are on the ground’ is being used to make efficient use of this small underground space? …Was that voice I heard upon entering the concept?”
“That was a Concept Text. It is made by gathering inferior reproductions of an extracted concept. Each individual concept is very weak, but it can be heard as a voice once it reaches the level of a Concept Text. This space also has several weaker concepts added on as well, but they cannot be heard as a voice.” He continued. “When an out of phase space has concepts added to it, it is known as a Concept Space. We think of a concept’s identity as a variable fixed-period vibration wave that we call a string vibration.”
“This just got a lot more complicated. A string vibration, you say?”
Ooshiro had said an alternate world was a world with different concepts. In that case…
“So alternate worlds are worlds with different string vibration frequencies?”
“Yes. And everything in any of the worlds has a string vibration for their world and a string vibration for the object itself. The one for the world we call the parent string vibration and the one for the individual we call the child string vibration.”
Sayama nodded and said, “So is it like a numerator and denominator? The denominator tells you what Gear they belong to and the numerator tells you what the individual is.”
“Yes. If the numerator differs, it is a different individual. If the denominator differs, it may be the same existence but from a different world. These alternate worlds are not parallel. They exist in multiple phases atop each other. According to the records, a ‘gate’ that alters one’s parent string vibration is needed to move to and from different Gears.”
Sayama then recalled the invisible wall surrounding the forest.
“This evening…was that a space that’s parent string vibration had been completely altered?”
“Not quite. If its parent string vibration had been completely altered, that space would have completely disappeared from this world. But,” Ooshiro raised his index finger, “what if only a portion of its parent string vibration was altered?”
“In that case, would the altered objects world split into two existences? The real one and the alternate world one would exist on top of each other at the same time. …And that means the objects would not disappear from reality.”
He remembered the stone he had picked up in the forest. He remembered how it had left a pale shadow behind.
“So two versions of that forest existed on top of each other? I am guessing a smaller portion had the alternate world string vibration than the reality string vibration. Could I not leave because of the difference in vibration density?”
“Correct. How very wise of you. That is what we call a Concept Space. It is only a pseudo-alternate world created by borrowing a portion of an area’s string vibration. Since it is still connected to the real world, it is easier to create and return to normal.” As he spoke, Ooshiro showed off the watch on his left arm. “I gave you one of these before we entered this Concept Space. These watches are known as String Watches. They detect the wall of a Concept Space and alter the wearer’s parent string vibration accordingly. They are a small version of the ‘gates’ I mentioned earlier.”
“But how did I enter the Concept Space in the forest without one?”
“Someone secretly read your child string vibration. When the forest was turned into a Concept Space, your string vibration was registered so you would be allowed in. That is one thing that can be done when creating a Concept Space. And I apologize,” said Ooshiro as he looked toward Sayama’s left arm. “It seems we rushed things. We only wanted to let you experience it for yourself, but you ended up getting injured due to the inexperience of our units.”
“But it was thanks to that experience that I met Shinjou-kun and am having this conversation now.”
When he said that, Shinjou looked over from her perpendicular position with a troubled expression.
Sayama responded with a bitter smile.
“Come on down now,” instructed Ooshiro.
Sayama nodded and walked down to the passageway where Shinjou stood.
Ooshiro did so as well and looked up at the ceiling.
“Could we return just the inside of the passageway?”
The watch on Sayama’s left arm vibrated.
In the next moment, the surrounding scenery changed. The floors on either side became empty spaces.
Not only were the office desks and maintenance equipment gone, but the materials making up the walls and ceiling were gone too.
They were simply vast, dark areas without even any lights.
“This is what this underground space normally looks like. Everyone does their work in the Concept Space.”
Sayama placed a foot on the window.
However, he no longer felt any power attracting the bottom of his foot to the window.
He also realized the wrench that had fallen to the floor was gone.
They had returned to reality.
Sayama let out a breath and looked around the empty space.
If he paid very close attention, he could make out the faint shadows of people, desks, and machinery.
Sayama then recalled the battle in the forest.
“What happens if something is destroyed in a Concept Space?”
“An object’s string vibration is the concept of its very existence. If a portion of that existence concept is destroyed, no portion of the object itself is destroyed. However, its existence percentage drops. If only a dozen or so percent is used, being destroyed once will not lead to the actual object’s destruction. However…”
“If an object is taken in and destroyed again and again, will the damage eventually reach the original? But I suppose that is quite a bit better than simply destroying a portion of the world. Can humans split apart so only a portion is sent into the Concept Space? That would avoid dying in one.”
“It can be done, but we don’t. As it is only a portion, something inside a Concept Space is an inferior version of the original. The object must rely on the information from the instant of being taken into the space, so its life force is weak and it has no ability to alter the future. …You could say the objects have no ability to grow and simply ‘act’ before being destroyed. That is why it is difficult to maintain a Concept Space for long. If it is not released quickly, everything inside will destroy themselves.”
“Is that why there were no animals in the Concept Space?”
“When choosing the structural elements of a Concept Space, we do our best to only use terrain that does not move on its own. That also reduces the amount of data needed. …Although if you insist that plants are living things too, I have no argument for you.” Ooshiro gave a bitter smile. “And anything that will actually take an active role within has 100% of itself sent inside so that it will not destroy itself. That is what we did with the UCAT Concept Space I just showed you. An empty area is turned into a Concept Space and all of the equipment is brought in from outside. The air conditioning, water pipes, and other things that circulate were tricky.”
Hearing that, Sayama looked through the windows on either side and into the empty spaces beyond. A dark atmosphere seemed to fall over him.
“I see. So shedding blood cannot be avoided. Just out of curiosity, how much of something’s existence percentage must be destroyed before the object itself can no longer exist?”
“At least 50%. If more than 50% of an object’s existence is destroyed, it will be annihilated. The forest Concept Space was created by accessing about 20% of its string vibration. If the same Concept Space was created three times and the forest was destroyed each time, its existence destruction would reach 60%. That would lead to the real forest being destroyed in some natural way. I cannot say if it would be landslide, a forest fire, or a simple disappearance, but that would be its fate.”
Sayama thought on Ooshiro’s words.
And then he frowned.
“Are you trying to say this kind of thing has actually happened before?”
“I will leave it to your imagination what might have caused the natural disasters that occasionally happen around the world. But can you guess where these rules lead us to?”
Sayama recalled one of the first terms he had been told here.
“You mentioned the Concept War before. Is that it?”
“If a Gear loses over 50% of its concepts, it will be destroyed. The Concept War took the form of stealing each other’s concepts.”
“So the concepts were extracted and stolen from each Gear… Is that what you are saying?”
“Yes. And the concepts of each Gear were taken to this world in the form of a Concept Core that has even greater density than a Concept Text. In other words, all the other Gears had their concepts stolen which destroyed them.”
“I see,” responded Sayama. “Is it possible to create a new concept?”
“Let me just say that it was researched at one time. There were…no successes. All we can do is make inferior reproductions. That is why a Concept Core is needed as a master for creating Concept Texts.” Ooshiro smiled, spread his arms, and looked out across the floors to the right and left. “Do you understand now? Your grandfather was a part of UCAT once it was formed after the war. UCAT fought the ten Gears with different concepts and destroyed them all by taking their concepts. And currently, our primary mission is to protect, negotiate with, stop the terrorist attacks of, and conceal the existence of the refugees of the other Gears. However…”
Ooshiro smiled slightly at that question. He paused for a few seconds before replying. The conversation finally arrived at what Sayama’s grandfather had left him.
“This last remaining Gear is known as Low-Gear because it has nothing. And it is currently facing a crisis. As the victors of the Concept War, we must overcome this crisis by negotiating with the survivors of the ten other Gears and having them cooperate with us.” He took a breath. “That is the Leviathan Road. …And your grandfather said to give you the right to be the representative of Low-Gear.”
A certain staircase could be seen at night.
The green painted wall and the white steps were illuminated by the light positioned above the emergency exit at the top of the stairs.
The staircase was located in the second year general school building of Taka-Akita Academy. It led up to the rooftop.
Two sets of footsteps could be heard walking up the stairs.
The two figures unhesitatingly ascending were a human and an animal.
The human was a girl with swaying gray hair and wearing a blazer. The animal was a black cat.
It was Brunhild, the head of the art club, and her black cat.
The footsteps quickly reached the top of the staircase. The door was unlocked and then opened.
With the sound of wind whipping into the building, the two figures dashed outside.
They were not met by the darkness of night.
They saw light.
Brunhild stopped moving. She looked up expressionlessly into the sky.
It was bright. After exiting the dark staircase, she was faced with the bluish-white moon floating in the sky.
As she stood on the rooftop, the vast night sky and the moon could be seen overhead.
And the wind of the night blew about.
The feel of the breeze led Brunhild to spread her arms and take in a deep breath.
Such cold air, she thought while brining that air into her lungs.
“This Gear is filled with so many unnecessary things,” she commented.
She placed her right hand in her uniform pocket and pulled out a single object.
She held a small blue stone the size of her fingertip between the index finger and middle finger of her right hand.
While holding the stone, she rotated her arms. She held her left arm forward and her right arm back.
The black cat at her feet jumped up onto her left arm.
Brunhild moved her right hand. She made a fist and wrote something in the air using the thumb. And then…
“We were delayed by that intrusion, but you have work to do,” she said expressionlessly before snapping the fingers of her right hand.
With a clear note, the cat’s form changed. It bent and came apart as if made of thread.
“Now, go. Notify us of our hated enemy’s condition and inform our comrades of the situation. You are the tidings carried by the black wind.”
After coming apart, the black cat became wind.
A black wind.
Leaving her left sleeve rippling, the black streak of wind danced through the nighttime wind and shot to the west. It waved, stretched, occasionally accelerated, arced, and then arced back as it soared through the night sky.
Brunhild watched the wind leave before lowering her arms. She opened her expressionless mouth and spoke.
“They are beginning to take action, so the time has come for us to respond… We were the first of the Gears to be destroyed. It is time we stopped hiding.” She nodded. “The survivors of 1st-Gear must stop hiding!”
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