Owari no Chronicle:Volume2 Chapter 25
Chapter 25: The Path to Overcome Suspicion
The decision to hurry is made by you
The demand that you hurry is made by the footsteps
That hurrying is accomplished by your will
Sayama and Siegfried ran through a dark mountain.
Their only map was the one on Sayama’s cell phone. Their current location was…
“The shadow of the mountain over there means we are almost there.”
The depths of the forest before them looked blue rather than black. The moonlight fell broadly across that area. That was their destination.
Five minutes had passed since the explosion they had heard earlier.
Sayama hurried. He tread on the grass, tread on the dirt, and moved forward. Only one thought filled his mind.
…I still have not found Shinjou-kun.
She had definitely entered the battlefield ahead of him.
What was she doing?
There was something he wished of her. He did not want to lose her before that.
As he picked up his hurrying pace a bit further, the forest opened up ahead of him. The light of the moon spread out before his eyes.
Beyond a drop of about a meter was a clearing.
Sayama kicked off the dirt and leaped. Siegfried followed beside him and did not seem out of breath.
Sayama checked his surroundings while in the air.
The remains of a white tent existed in the center of the clearing, but everything in the area had been destroyed.
There were a few holes opened in the ground. They were large enough for several people to fit inside and it looked as if a giant hoe had created them. The forest on the other side of the clearing had also been affected by the destruction. For a width of about five meters, the cedar and broad-leaved trees making up the forest had been felled.
“This is…” he muttered as he landed.
Urged on by Siegfried, Sayama began to run.
He had been running for a while now, but he put his full strength into it from the very first step.
As Sayama ran, he detected a movement in the air behind him.
It came from a bullet in the corner of his vision. The bullet glowed like a firefly.
Several sounds of paper tearing came from the forest to the north.
And an identical number of light bullets shot toward them.
They were fast. They pursued Sayama and Siegfried and dirt and grass shot up into the air.
Sayama gathered strength in his legs as he heard the bullets strike the ground. He had noticed something odd about that noise.
…The tempo is dull.
He took action based on that thought.
He leaned forward and then swung his body upwards with all his strength.
Immediately afterwards, a light bullet passed right in front of his eyes. This was a single shot.
Sayama leaned forward again and leaped forward. He heard the shot he had avoided slicing through the field.
…So the real one aims for the face.
Sayama wondered what would have happened had he not noticed that tempo.
He realized the sounds of bullets hitting the ground had ceased to follow him.
That showed his opponent was done playing around. Sayama knew he could not let his guard down.
He decided he should have avoided that earlier bullet more barely or even let it graze him. In that case, his enemy would not have put their guard up.
He clicked his tongue and leaped toward one of the holes opened in the ground.
It was a hole made of soft, bare earth. He did not slide inside it; he leaped inside.
After his feet landed on the bottom, he leaned his back against the northern slope.
A bullet then grazed the edge of the ground above him in order to keep him from peeking out.
…What a well-prepared response.
Sayama ducked his head down and looked around. The hole was about a meter deep and three meters wide.
From this position, the northern forest was on the mountainside. He just barely lifted his head up and was able to see that northern forest. However, the forest was too dark to see anything.
The ground burst in front of his eyes. The flying pieces of dirt struck something near his head and fell.
Afterwards, he once more heard the sound of paper tearing from the northern forest.
…A sniper. Is it just one? No.
Sayama denied his own simple question.
While running before, the bullets had come in rapid-fire. And in no time afterwards, a single shot had targeted his head. Given those two facts…
“There are probably at least two of them.”
He had almost no knowledge concerning 1st-Gear guns.
However, they were likely using the same type of rifle the knight had used the day before. In that case, the enemy was using a book or some corresponding object as ammunition. That prevented the guns from being made very small. The enemy had chosen sniping because their weapons were big and not very mobile.
The reason there were two enemies came from there. With a rapid-fire gun and a sniping gun, they could determine the range together and they could calmly handle an enemy whether that opponent charged them or tried to run.
The rapid-fire gun would be used to calculate the range and the sniper would take out the enemy. That had to be their pattern.
But Sayama frowned.
These enemies were firing small bullets of light. Firing would make their position easier to determine. During the day was fine, but those bullets were ill-suited for nighttime sniping. He had two guesses as to the reason behind it.
Either the enemy was taking him lightly or they were trying to draw his attention away from something else.
When he thought about the latter option, Sayama gasped.
…We have to catch up to Shinjou-kun and the others.
Siegfried was nowhere to be seen, but Sayama assumed he was in one of the other holes.
“Do not tell me he is waiting to see how I will handle this situation.”
Just as a grin appeared on his lips, a stone rolled into the hole.
Sayama looked down at what had rolled to his feet. It was a round stone about the perfect size to hold in the fist. It was black and it had words carved into its surface.
The meaning of the words appeared in his mind. They said, “Explosive – After Five Seconds”.
It had been thrown into this hole from the northern forest.
Sayama showed no surprise, fear, or fright. He reflexively picked up the stone.
And a smile naturally appeared on his lips. Words spilled from his mouth that had nothing to do with the desire to hurry in his heart.
“This is a death I can avoid.”
And he took action.
In the mountainside forest looking down on the clearing, two 1st-Gear soldiers aimed at their target.
They both had their dark green cloaks covering their heads as they aimed bipod-equipped rifles toward the clearing.
The rifle on the right had a canvas hardcover book bound to it on the top. It was easy to exchange the magazine, but it had poor stability. The rifle on the left had its book bound to the bottom. It took more effort to exchange the magazine, but each shot was quite stable.
The former was generally used for rapid-fire and the latter was mainly used for single sniper shots.
The sniper drew back the arm he had thrown the explosive rock with and sank back down.
He made sure the rifle magazine had bound properly using the cocking lever to the side of the grip and he moved to peer through the scope.
In an instant, he saw motion coming from the hole he had thrown the explosive rock into.
The target’s head moved above the right edge of the hole and jumped out.
The rapid-fire shooter to the right clicked his tongue in joy.
The sniper thought making noise like that was a bad habit and he pulled the trigger without looking through the scope.
The rifle shook. The cocking lever shot forward and a light bullet flew.
And the bullet hit.
The object that came from the hole seemed to have really been a head. Something white scattered as the bullet clearly hit.
Just as the sniper raised his head slightly, the soldier on the right spoke.
“He’s still alive!”
The sniper narrowed his vision and saw the white figure still trying to jump from the right of the hole.
It must not have been a fatal blow. The sniper calmly peered through the scope.
The white he saw was a coat. Several bullets pierced through it. Those came from the rapid-fire rifle to the right.
Repeated sounds of canvas tearing came from that rifle. An equal number of yellowish-green light bullets flew and tore holes in the white figure jumping from the hole.
The cover of the book in the right-side rifle’s magazine burst and scattered. The book had used up all of its power.
But the sniper realized something in the next moment.
That enemy was hollow.
It was not a human that had jumped from the hole. It was just a coat. The enemy was still alive.
He placed a hand on the cocking lever and began to pull it. But as he looked through the scope, his eyes fell on the coat that fell powerlessly into the hole.
Where had the boy wearing it gone?
He took his eyes from the scope and looked forward.
He was there.
The boy had already jumped from the left side of the hole. That was the opposite side to where he had thrown the coat.
He had jumped out at the exact moment the soldiers had been looking through their scopes and targeting the coat.
The sniper felt uneasy. Had this enemy calculated their actions?
The rapid-fire shooter seemed to have realized the same thing. He loudly clicked his tongue and began exchanging the book.
That meant it was the sniper’s turn.
The enemy began running toward them.
They were approximately 20 paces apart. The boy could fill that space in five seconds.
But the sniper could act sooner. He could cock the rifle in one second, it would take another second to hold the rifle up as the sound of tearing canvas came from below it, aiming without the scope would take a second, and pulling the trigger would take a final second. He could finish it in a total of four seconds. But…
“Hey,” said the other soldier. “What happened to the explosive rock you threw?”
The sniper moved his finger away from the trigger.
He saw a single truth.
The boy had stopped moving.
He had been running toward them, but now he stood still with his arms lightly spread to the side as if asking to be shot. The light of the round moon floating in the sky illuminated the boy’s smile.
At the same moment, something fell in between the two soldiers.
The sniper assumed it was a fruit, but it was not.
It was a round stone. It had familiar words carved on its surface: Explosive – After Five Seconds. And black paint had added another few words on the stone.
The writing was unfamiliar, but he understood it from the image that appeared in his mind. It said…
“Plus five seconds!”
Throwing the coat had not been to buy time to jump out of the hole. It had been to ensure they did not see the stone being thrown into the air. And the reason he had run toward them was…
“He wanted us to target him so we wouldn’t move…”
But understanding it now made no difference.
Just as the boy swung his arms up, the stone exploded next to them.
Sayama saw two soldiers fly out from the flames and smoke in the forest.
They were ten meters away. They were surrounded by a flaming wind that roasted the trees and leaves. The blast of the explosion had sent them tumbling out into the clearing. At a glance, they seemed to have injuries on their faces but were still breathing.
Sayama glanced around.
He spotted a tall dark figure standing next to him. It was Siegfried.
“So it cost you your coat. You cannot do that a second time.”
“No need to be shy. I do not mind if you give me honest praise.”
“Do not say the same thing Sayama Kaoru did.”
“Now that is good to hear. If I am saying the same things as my grandfather now, I will be saying things even more wonderful than him tomorrow.”
Siegfried smiled and Sayama did so bitterly.
“More importantly,” said Sayama as he looked forward.
He looked into the forest beyond the fading smoke of the explosion.
A single figure stood there. This figure was dyed in the color black.
The short figure wore a black dress and a three-cornered hat that hid her face.
“A new opponent… A witch?” muttered Sayama, but he denied it. “No, a grim reaper.”
This figure held a long scythe.
Sayama suddenly realized Siegfried had taken a defensive stance.
He gave a suspicious look and Siegfried swung his right hand downwards.
“I heard about this while I was in 1st-Gear. I was told where lost souls went in that closed table world.”
“An interesting topic. Please continue.”
“At one point in their history, an underworld was developed for those lost souls to live in. That underworld is a type of concept space and its string vibration is near the borderline between positive and negative, so it can be expanded in any Gear.”
“And what tool is used to open this underworld?”
“The scythe known as Requiem Sense. Regin’s older brother, the old man named Hagen who combined with Fafnir Custom, had worked as the manager of the underworld.”
A single sound seemed to come in response. It was the mewing of a cat.
And then the grim reaper moved.
She held the scythe vertically above her right shoulder.
Her right hand brought the handle directly above and her fingers traced over the writing carved into the surface of that handle.
Sayama heard a voice. It was a high-pitched and monotonous girl’s voice.
“I am that which is with you.”
As she spoke, the words carved into the scythe’s handle and blade began to emit light.
“Hear me, those who were lost yet not lost.”
The light was blue at first.
“That is your pride.”
It turned to white.
“That is your memory.”
Then yellow, red, and finally crimson.
“That is your spirit.”
Just as the light turned black, the girl opened her mouth and pointed the tip of the scythe behind her.
As if in response, wind blew by next to Sayama.
Before he could even mutter “not good”, Siegfried moved forward.
He wordlessly charged into the forest in his black outfit. He swung his right hand and a single piece of paper shot from his sleeve. All Sayama could tell was that it had something written on it.
The word extended from the paper and into the empty air. That word of German glowed a bluish-white and extended to a length of one meter.
Siegfried held the paper hilt and quickly closed the distance between him and his opponent.
He swung the blade of writing toward his opponent’s neck.
He took the shortest route to aim from below. A few trees were sliced by the blade along the way. With a sound of tearing fibers, Siegfried continued forward and left those trees behind him.
His attack swung through.
However, the girl in black avoided the strike. She merely took a step back.
Sayama watched Siegfried’s back.
The pressure of Siegfried’s sword strike knocked the girl’s three-cornered hat up slightly. The blade split the very end of it and the brim of the hat flipped up.
The face hidden below the hat was now visible. Siegfried’s blade of writing illuminated that face.
“Brunhild Schild,” muttered Sayama.
And he realized something else: Siegfried had stopped moving.
In response, Brunhild returned her face from the bent back posture she had taken to evade.
Her normal expressionless look was gone. The ends of her eyebrows were lowered and her lips were twisted to the side.
She hung her head down. She tightly gripped the scythe handle in both hands and opened her mouth.
She took a breath.
“Open, gate of the abyss!”
Brunhild drew the scythe back. And she dropped it straight down.
The scythe split space behind her.
The sound was similar to paper being torn.
That meter long slice stopped when the bottom of the handle struck the ground. The blade stopped just a few centimeters above the shoulder of her black clothing.
Brunhild then grabbed the handle and spun it around to point the tip forward.
In response, light appeared behind her. That yellowish-green light filled the line the scythe blade had travelled through. The line split vertically, tore horizontally, and widened.
“Why?” muttered Brunhild.
The tall man in black took a defensive stance before her.
Seeing that, Brunhild shouted with her head still hanging down.
She thrust the scythe forward and cried out.
“Attack, knight of enmity!”
As Brunhild took a step back, something appeared from the opened rift of light.
It was a giant knight wearing full armor.
This armored knight made of light stuck only his upper body out from that space. He was about six meters tall. He held a sword in each hand, both of which were near twice his height.
The two swords produced a great roar as the knight swung them down.
The sound rose into the sky and the atmosphere moved as the attack shot down.
The gigantic double strikes flew toward the ground as if falling.
Brunhild shut her eyes.
And in that moment, a pair of male and female voices cried out from the forest to the right and the sky above.
Sayama saw it. As that pair of giant swords was swung down, two powers slammed into them.
Izumo came in from the right wearing a white armored uniform.
The giant single-edge sword in his hand fired white light from its blade.
And Kazami came in from above wearing a white armored uniform.
She dropped straight down from a height of ten meters above the knight of light. She aimed her long spear straight down as she did. The single-edged tip of that spear fired a white light as well.
They both struck the knight’s blades with their own weapons.
They both let out cries of exertion that began with “ah”.
It all collided.
A metallic sound similar to glass shattering rang out.
Izumo deflected the knight’s right sword inward.
Kazami deflected the knight’s left sword inward as well.
The knight’s swords struck each other in midair.
A new metallic noise rang out.
In the next moment, Izumo circled around below the knight’s arms and struck the two swords from below.
Kazami had leaped into the air with her previous attack, so she struck the swords from above for a second time.
Kazami jumped through the air and toward Sayama and Izumo used the follow-through of his swing to turn toward him.
Immediately afterwards, straight cracks ran through the six meter knight, starting with the two swords.
“Don’t stand around and watch! Run!” shouted Izumo.
After that obvious warning, the knight exploded.
A splendid wind swept through the forest.
Brunhild stood with Requiem Sense held in front of her.
The forest had disappeared around her.
With the exception of a fan-shaped area behind where she stood, a crater about ten meters across had been formed. Brunhild sighed as she saw a slight red light coming from the scythe’s blade.
“Did you retrieve them?” she asked the blade while looking around where several lights flew about like fireflies.
Brunhild swung Requiem Sense around her in both hands. The inertia created by the weight of the blade made her lean her body back on her heels to keep her balance. The lights approached the swinging blade and were swallowed up.
After spinning around about five times, darkness returned to her surroundings.
“But this darkness still has the moonlight.”
She glanced around her surroundings once more.
Only two collapsed 1st-Gear soldiers were in the clearing connected to the crater. Those she considered her enemy were gone.
Brunhild let out a breath and looked to her feet. She looked to the black cat hiding behind her legs.
“Let’s wake those two up and meet with the others.”
“Yes. But…that shaved off the fur on my tail.”
The cat tilted his head at that response.
“Are you okay, Brunhild? You don’t seem very energetic.”
“I’m fine. Everything is back to normal.”
“Back to normal?”
“Yes,” said Brunhild expressionlessly. “My grudge and everything else is back to normal.”
Sayama ran after Izumo who had taken the lead.
After running for about two minutes, they left the forest and arrived at a wide basin.
It contained a grassy field where the new UCAT base had been set up.
The flames of lamps lit the area and others dressed like them were gathering there.
A fair number of people were there in addition to Izumo and Kazami, but Shinjou alone was absent.
“I see,” said Sayama with a nod as he caught his breath.
He would have to go find her.
Having made up his mind, Sayama looked over the people there once more.
There were about 50 people in all. They were mostly dressed in white armored uniforms, but there was a pair wearing black just like Siegfried. Ooshiro Itaru stood with his metal cane and Sf carried a large load on her back.
Itaru pushed his sunglasses up his nose and looked toward Sayama.
“So you came, you ignorant brat,” he said with a frown.
Sayama nodded and folded his arms.
“I have come in order to learn everything.”
That exchange caused the surrounding people to focus on them bit by bit. Sayama heard footsteps, the rustling of clothing, and the clattering of metal equipment as everyone turned toward them.
In response, Sayama threw out his chest and looked around at all of them. He took in all of their gazes and spoke.
“Is the special unit for the Leviathan Road here?”
“They are. For starters, there’s me.”
The person who stepped forward first was Izumo who had been standing right next to him.
“How about we check over the members of Team Leviathan real quick?”
He smiled as he held his large Cowling Sword.
“Okay. You can start by giving my name. I’d love it if you added ‘the great’ afterwards.”
“You are Izumo the Great Idiot.” Sayama waited for three seconds while staring at Izumo’s face from below. “Hm. You did not seem to love it.”
“Enough. I was an idiot to expect common sense from you.”
“Why are the two of you acting like idiots?” asked Kazami from next to Izumo.
Sayama looked toward her and Izumo.
“I suppose the two of you are like the forwards of the team.”
“Yes. Kaku and I take the vanguard during missions. Shinjou provides backup for the vanguard. And the rear guard…”
A figure a head taller than the rest stepped forward from the back of the crowd. He was a man with dark brown skin. He was bald and had a short beard on the very end of his chin. His armored uniform must not have fit him because the neck had been left open.
He walked forward and held out a hand.
When Sayama shook his hand, he felt great strength squeezing his hand. The man gave a smile and spoke.
“I am Robert Boldman. Despite the name, I am a second generation naturalized member of 6th-Gear.”
“He is a former major in the United States Air Force. He handles commanding and coordinating with the general division as well as backup during emergencies,” explained Kazami with a smile.
“His nickname is Baldy. No teasing him, okay?” said Izumo, also with a smile.
“I get the feeling you do not know the meaning of that word. Or is it just me?”
While still smiling, Kazami kicked Izumo away and called over the next member.
“This is Sibyl. You received a transmission from her, right?”
“Yes,” replied Sayama as the color of the surrounding light seemed to change.
A tall woman with long blonde hair stepped forward. She wore the female version of the white armored uniform and it had a skirt and long sleeves tightly attached. She turned her blue, drooping eyes toward Sayama.
“I am Sibyl. I am in charge of communications and maintaining equipment on site. I see you decided to come, Sayama-sama.”
She bowed and Sayama nodded in return.
That brought a smile to Sibyl’s lips and she took a silent step back.
In her place, Ooshiro Kazuo stepped forward with a notebook computer under his arm.
He raised his right thumb and Kazami gave a smile and a nod.
“That should be enough. Okay, next.”
“Ahh, Kazami-kun! That’s abuse of the elderly! You monster wife!”
“Shut up. Okay, the one who handles the controllers for concept spaces and things like that is-…”
Before Kazami had even finished speaking, Sayama found Ooki standing before him while wearing a white armored uniform.
For some reason, Ooki’s ears extended out to the sides.
Her eyes were bent in a smile. She held up a hand while looking toward Sayama.
Sayama suddenly flicked her in the forehead with his right hand.
“O-ow!! Wh-what are you do-…ow ow ow ow ow!”
Sayama pulled on Ooki’s long ears, but they did not come off. They were real.
“What is this? Are you Ooki-sensei? Are you really her? If so, give me some proof.”
“Um…uh…well…proof? A-ahhh! I can’t come up with anything so quickly!”
“Damn. Only the real one would act this foolish. Okay then.” Sayama was still grabbing onto Ooki’s ears. “Why are you here, Ooki-sensei? This is a dangerous place. Hurry back to your Okutama apartment and exterminate the roach you said appeared in your kitchen. And take out your trash.”
“I-I already sprayed bug spray to deal with the roach! I still haven’t taken out the trash, though.” Ooki took a breath. “Anyway, I am a member of Team Leviathan. I have been here longer than you, and don’t you forget it.”
“In other words, you will be my subordinate.”
“Khh,” groaned Ooki and Sayama let go of her ears.
He looked over at Kazami for confirmation.
“Yes. Ooki-sensei is a 10th-Gear tree spirit. I don’t really understand it myself, but there you have it.”
“You didn’t have to say you don’t understand it.”
“That’s right, Kazami-kun. Ooki-kun does an excellent job. …Even if it looks like she only randomly pokes at the buttons.”
Everyone in the crowd began nodding and muttering in agreement with Ooshiro’s comment.
Ooki clenched her fists up at her shoulders.
“I don’t do it randomly! I do it as the ideas enter my head!”
“That’s called doing it randomly!” shouted back everyone in unison.
Sayama patted Ooki on her shoulders that had drooped in dejection.
“At any rate, you have given everyone a common factor they can relate to, Ooki-sensei. That is a wonderful thing.”
“I-I don’t want you to relate to that!”
Sayama ignored her objection and spoke.
“Now, everyone. Let us begin here.”
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