Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Chapter 13
Chapter 13: Blooming World
The desire to convey something awaits you
Does it wait behind your blooming back in the past?
Or in your budding arms in the present?
Sayama frantically thought while flying through the air.
He was facing upwards and the rotation of his body was compact.
It had been a surprisingly quick throw.
If he twisted his body to bring his feet to the ground, his momentum would cause him to topple over.
What should he do?
The correct answer was to twist his body, bring a single foot to the ground, and throw his other foot forward.
He would use the momentum of the throw to run forward.
And he did so.
His foot struck the ground.
After a single footstep, he moved his other foot forward and took his second step with the momentum of his spin.
He could not eliminate the momentum, but he could control it. He twisted on his toes to turn and face his opponent.
He took a large step backwards and lowered his hips in case of a second attack.
He reached for Baku on his shoulder, but the creature had not fallen.
He completed his defensive stance while performing that check.
But no second attack came.
Sayama faced forward while relaxing a bit.
He saw Ooki and Shinjou looking surprised, but a small figure had joined them.
It was an old man wearing a black T-shirt and a mountain vest.
He had short gray hair and his right eye was red.
Seeing that color, Sayama spoke his name.
“Hi,” said Hiba.
“Long time no see, you immortal old man,” said Sayama with a small smile and a hand raised in greeting. “Why have you descended from the mountain today? Did you forget how to speak the language of man, so you had to come relearn it?”
“It’s been a while since I heard your nonsensical polite speech.” Hiba smiled and raised a hand of his own. “I had been wondering why you haven’t been stopping by the dojo lately, but I see you’ve been living a normal life. I gathered some nice mountain vegetables today, so I was bringing some to the Tamiya family. When I heard you’d be coming, I knew I had to show you who’s boss.”
Shinjou walked up from the side and tugged on Sayama’s sleeve.
“I gather he’s your teacher, but do you not get along?”
“Of course we get along. We get along well enough to knock each other to the ground. Right, Hiba-sensei?”
“That’s right. We’re always like this.”
The smile vanished from Hiba’s eyes as he observed Sayama’s stance.
The smile only remained on his lips.
“You were careless to let your friend distract you like that, but you haven’t gotten rusty, have you?”
Kashima and Tsukuyomi faced each other within a partition of the UCAT development department’s design room.
The rest of the design room’s personnel had already left for the Showa Memorial Park.
Kashima was chatting a bit with Tsukuyomi in the empty room.
However, she had suddenly glanced at her watch while he discussed his family.
“Now, I think I will head to the Showa Memorial Park like Director Abram suggested.”
“I will handle the preliminary negotiations for the Leviathan Road, but what about you? Will you be coming?”
“To be honest, I don’t think so.” He shrugged. “Will he be coming?”
“You mean Sayama Mikoto? He will of course be there. Do you think he can find the answer, Kashima?”
“I don’t know. But I think we should give him the same thing my grandfather gave Ooshiro Hiromasa. Take this to the preliminary negotiations.”
Kashima inserted a nearby floppy disk into his laptop.
He operated the laptop for just an instant.
He copied a single piece of data and ejected the disk.
He put the unlabeled floppy in a case and wrote on the case in marker.
He wrote “List of 2nd-Gear Residents”.
“These are the countless names used to create Totsuka. Another file contains Yamata’s question.”
“The names used to create Totsuka?”
“Yes. Totsuka required enough power and capacity to seal Yamata, so names were used in its construction. The countless names of the 2nd-Gear residents who were connected to the biosphere via their names were incorporated into the metal.” Kashima nodded. “But because the seal was to occur within Low-Gear, Low-Gear names were used instead. In other words, they used our current names. …My grandfather gave this list to someone who then investigated Japan’s shrines and temples to find the names that corresponded to our original names.”
“Was Ooshiro Hiromasa the one to looked up those names?”
“Yes. My grandfather apparently forged Totsuka while looking at the list of names Ooshiro Hiromasa wrote for him.” He took a breath. “Ooshiro Hiromasa also discovered the answer to Yamata’s question, but I think this list may have served as a hint. So if you give this floppy to that boy, the situation should be almost identical to back then. He will have our names and the question.”
“But what about him? Ooshiro Hiromasa risked his life to seal Yamata, but do you think this boy will go as far?”
“Yes. I think he views the Leviathan Road with 2nd-Gear as important enough to risk his entire existence on.”
The day before, that boy had said he wanted to go through with this Leviathan Road so he could face the other Gears afterwards.
…He will not choose to back off.
And what would that boy do afterwards?
Would he learn of the past, learn what those who came before him thought, and try to approach those thoughts himself?
Kashima then recalled Sayama holding his chest in the cafeteria.
That boy felt pain when he learned of the past.
…So that’s it. He has accepted even the past. He is Susanoo.
That boy was honest to himself, did not lie, and gained everything.
In that case, what was Kashima?
…No, I haven’t officially chosen to confront him, so it’s too early to think about that.
Kashima suddenly realized Tsukuyomi was staring at him.
He recalled the floppy disk, shrugged, and held it out to her.
She took it with a bitter smile.
She then used her other hand to strike his head.
“You have a serious problem with getting lost in thought. Did you know that?”
And she suddenly said something else.
“I heard you were thinking about quitting UCAT.”
That unexpected comment left Kashima flustered.
“I-it was Atsuta that told you, wasn’t it?” he said while scratching his head. “He can be really talkative about the weirdest things.”
“He’s worried about you, so don’t be too hard on him. …But are you serious about this?”
“I’m not going to hand you a letter of resignation right away if that’s what you’re worried about. UCAT pays well, so I’ll stick around long enough to pay off my mortgage and save up for Harumi’s tuition.”
“Oh, how responsible. She’s still a baby, but you’re already planning to send her to private school?”
“I don’t know, but I think I’ll go discuss this with my parents.”
“About whether to choose a private school?”
“No. About me and my family. My choice here will directly affect my family’s finances.”
“I suppose that’s true. You can take this afternoon off and head to your parents’ home.” Tsukuyomi’s bitter smile deepened and her tone grew exasperated. “You really are worrying over all of this, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am. There’s just no connection between me and 2nd-Gear, so…”
“So you want to pass the truth of 2nd-Gear on to me and leave the front line?”
“Yes, I think that would be best. That Sayama boy I met last night has his own stance toward the Leviathan Road: the surname Sayama indicates a villain. That stance brought 1st-Gear to UCAT’s side and now he’s facing us.”
“He is quite brave.”
“Yes, but at this rate, I would be giving him our answer without a stance of my own.” He nodded. “So instead of pretending I understand, I will give someone else the word to control Yamata and then I will leave. Giving the word to you would work.”
…What will this Sayama boy think of that?
Given the history of 2nd-Gear and his association with UCAT, would he accept it?
Kashima realized his thoughts were turning toward what was convenient to him, so he stopped thinking.
Meanwhile, Tsukuyomi lowered her shoulders and sighed.
But her expression suddenly grew serious and she spoke up.
“What is it?”
A short silence followed.
Those few seconds contained hesitation.
She used that time to look at him like she was observing him.
She then scratched her head as if having a hard time finding the right words to use.
“Kashima, do you think you’re conflicted on this issue?”
“Yes, quite a bit.”
His response was perfectly casual.
Tsukuyomi replied with a single question.
“Kashima,” she began. “Why are you this conflicted?”
Natsu was speaking on the phone.
She was sitting on the floor with the window to her left.
She held Harumi within a towel in her right arm and her left hand weakly held the black phone receiver.
She was watching the weather forecast on the muted television, but she closed her eyes when she saw the symbol for rain.
She instead opened her mouth and spoke.
“Yes, thank you so much for the vegetables. I made all sorts of things right away. Yes, Akio-san seemed to find it a bother.” She laughed a bit. “I would like to thank your husband as well. …Eh? He ticked you off during a fight over the remote, so you locked him in the storage shed? It’s been 12 hours now? You two always get along so well. Hee hee. By the way, I would like to stop by for a visit before long. Are you planting the rice soon? Oh, in three days?”
She turned toward the wall.
The calendar hanging on the wall had no red circles around the dates for the next few days.
After checking that, Natsu turned her attention back to the phone.
“That should be fine. I’ll take Harumi with me, but I think Akio-san will try to come up with an excuse to not go.”
Her eyes bent in a smile and she looked down into her arm.
Harumi was curled up in her arm sleeping.
“Yes, you have been a lot of help with Harumi. You taught me how to hold her and how to care for her. Akio-san thinks I knew it all from the beginning. …Eh? If he doesn’t think I’m clever he won’t let me control the finances? And I need to add in the spice of a bit of violence? I’m not very good at that kind of thing. I’m not sure I can do it.”
Natsu smiled bitterly, but her eyebrows suddenly lowered weakly.
She cast her eyes down a bit.
“I think Akio-san has been worrying about something lately. Does he think our marriage-… Oh, I see. Sorry. But then what is it?” She tilted her head. “I think it probably has to do with his job, but he has a friend at work who is reliable in a certain sense of the word. Have you two noticed anything?”
A short pause followed.
After that discouraging time passed, Natsu received a response. However, that response caused her face to cloud over.
“You don’t know? I didn’t really think you would.”
She almost sighed, but gulped instead so the phone would not pick it up.
“I try not to say anything about his job, but I can’t help but worry. His sense of responsibility can be too strong sometimes.”
She glanced toward her left hand holding the receiver and then down toward her own neck. A ring hung down from a necklace there.
“Yes, thank you for being so considerate. Yes, he takes everything so seriously, so I want to avoid putting any unnecessary burden on him. …I can more or less guess what he’s thinking.”
After a few seconds, Natsu raised her head and nodded.
“Yes, I am confident.”
Her expression was just as confident as she said, but she was blushing slightly.
“I think he wants to work. He is past thirty, so it is about time he began thinking about what he can and can’t do in his life. …No, the thought came to me after marrying him and giving birth to Harumi. When I was in the Takagi family, I knew nothing of the world and didn’t think about anything.”
She smiled bitterly and moved her eyebrows.
Harumi opened her eyes in her arm. Natsu lightly rocked Harumi and she narrowed her eyes.
“Oh, Harumi just woke up. Yes, I will put her on. Haru-chan?”
Natsu held the receiver in front of Harumi and the child stretched out her small hands.
“Ah…dah...” said Harumi.
Natsu smiled and brought the receiver back to her ear.
“Did you hear her?” Her smile loosened at the response from the phone. “Thank you very much. Yes, quite a lot. Yes, I will make sure to drag Akio-san out there sometime soon. Yes, the girls outnumber him two-to-one, so he can’t win.”
With a smile, she gave a word of parting, dragged the black phone over, and returned the receiver to it.
The quiet tone of a bell was followed by complete silence.
Natsu looked at Harumi in her arm and turned toward the veranda.
Beyond the large opened window, most of the potted plants lined up on a shelf in the small yard were blooming.
The flowers were white, blue, purple, red, scarlet, and more white.
The flowers that were not blooming would bloom during a different season.
“Haru-chan, those are the flowers of spring.”
She looked at the different colored flowers and then up into the sky.
A bit of white was mixed in with the blue of the sky. The clouds were densest to the south and those clouds would bring in rain.
Natsu lightly bit her lower lip as she watched those gray clouds.
“It’s going to rain again,” she finally said.
Tsukuyomi had asked why Kashima was as conflicted as he was.
That simple string of words got to the core of the issue.
That was why Kashima found himself unable to answer right away.
He lightly closed his eyes and thought.
He wanted to answer. He wanted to answer with his thoughts.
He first thought of Natsu.
“I am denying my power.”
The instant he said that, Tsukuyomi spoke up.
“No. You aren’t denying your power.”
Kashima stood up from his chair without thinking.
“How can you say that? For eight years now, I have-….”
“You are conflicted.”
Tsukuyomi stood to face him with a pleasant smile on her lips.
“But,” she said. “Why are you so conflicted? Isn’t it because you can’t deny your power? If you had denied it, wouldn’t you have long since quit UCAT and focused on your family?”
“And while you were feeling so conflicted, you saw someone who was fighting against their own confliction, didn’t you?”
Kashima had no answer for that.
Tsukuyomi sighed with a troubled look.
“Remember this: the more you desire something, the more confliction you will feel. You want to be both a part of Low-Gear and of 2nd-Gear, so you find yourself unable to choose and you keep lying. But…”
Tsukuyomi folded her arms and brushed up her hair.
“I think that is also the state of 2nd-Gear as a whole.”
Kashima felt himself tremble a little when he heard that.
“Kashima, you need to give this thought. Your parents chose the truthful path of completely joining Low-Gear, but not many people can make that decision. Even I am not telling my daughter about UCAT or 2nd-Gear.”
“This is why you are qualified to represent us in the Leviathan Road. Do not try to rush this. The time will come when you can make your decision and you will choose Low-Gear, 2nd-Gear, or maybe some third path. But at the same time…”
“At the same time?”
“Do not try to give an answer until that time comes. And while you still feel conflicted and cannot make up your mind, do not try to give anyone else the word to control Yamata.” Tsukuyomi took a breath and gave one last question. “Is that clear?”
His weak affirmation was met by lowered shoulders and a nod from Tsukuyomi.
“Then I will be on my way to Tachikawa. I will tell Sayama Mikoto that you will eventually make up your mind.”
“Don’t give me that look. Take a break and go ask your parents for advice. You might find the way to your answer there. Also…”
She placed the floppy in her lab coat pocket.
In its place, she pulled out a white card.
“What is that?”
She ignored his question and placed the card on the desk.
“Your past is in there.”
“You don’t mean!”
He instinctually stepped back and saw the card was a keycard for a production room.
And the card did not have a 1 for the 1st Production Room used by the newcomers or a 2 for the 2nd Production Room used for research.
“That 3 stands for the 3rd Production Room…”
“Yes. What you abandoned is still there. And it is precisely because you abandoned it that you want it so much now.” Tsukuyomi nodded toward him. “You feel conflicted because you want an answer and you want an answer to bring an end to your confliction. If you feel like it, go face what lies in that room. Then you should understand what you have lost as you stand in the gap between confliction and an answer.”
With that said, she turned around.
Kashima heard her receding footsteps and one last comment.
“It’s worth doing at least that much.”
At half past noon, Sayama left the Tamiya household and walked to the train station.
For once, Izumo and Kazami travelled by foot along with him.
“It seems Chisato has some ideas about a few mysteries,” said Izumo.
She apparently had some issues they could discuss while riding the train to the preliminary negotiations.
After Sayama had told Hiba and the others he had to leave, Shinjou had handed him something.
It was the black loose-leaf binder Shinjou had been carrying with him.
Sayama had not forgotten the slight look of fear on his face as he handed the binder over.
To calm Shinjou down, Sayama had promised to read it eventually and he now held it under his arm.
The sky above was clear, but gathering clouds were visible in the distance and the wind was strong.
“This is nice weather for a preliminary negotiation. I feel like humming a yodel.”
“Hey, idiot. Enough about yodeling. Just tell me what you plan to do about this negotiation and 2nd-Gear’s Leviathan Road as a whole. They don’t look too motivated.”
“My answer is incredibly simple, so listen closely.” Sayama took a breath and looked up into the sky. “I will confront them expectantly as I wait to see if they are a lazy serpent or a sleeping dragon.”
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