Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: The Beginning of an Answer
An unrealized past awakens and begins to move
During that short history
Chain-like bonds are created
The concept weapon development department was located on UCAT’s second basement next to the maintenance storage room and armory.
The development department was divided into four large sections: the design room, the production room, the experiment room, and storage.
The design room was a fifty meter square space divided up into partitions.
Inside one partition, Kashima and Tsukuyomi were looking at Susaou’s design diagram.
While he had been staring at the landslide, it seemed Tsukuyomi had met with Team Leviathan’s representative.
He had also heard that other members of Team Leviathan had entered the Second Reference Room.
“They are interesting children.”
With that introduction, they began discussing old times.
As they looked at the documents on Susaou, Tsukuyomi spoke.
“It was only nine years ago, but it feels so nostalgic. The development department had only just been reorganized underneath me. As soon as you were assigned to the department, you asked me what is in Tachikawa. But I was as new to UCAT as you, so I didn’t know.”
Tsukuyomi gave a bitter smile and Kashima gave one of his own.
“That’s right. But you negotiated with the higher ups and acquired the necessary documents from the Second Reference Room. You gave me the documents on Susaou which exists in the concept space set up within the former Tachikawa Airfield and current Showa Memorial Park.”
“But Susaou did not live up to your expectations.”
“That’s right,” said Kashima again.
He had gone to see Susaou just once.
“Examining Susaou was the development department’s first job once it was reorganized after the great Kansai earthquake. But…”
Kashima displayed a single image on his laptop.
It was a photograph. With the blue sky in the background, a giant figure stood with clouds around its head.
That giant form was over five hundred meters tall.
However, its entire form was slightly distorted.
“Yes, it makes sense if you think about it. Even nine years ago, it had been about fifty years since Susaou had been active. And Susaou is a humanoid machine built to oppose and confine the ultra high temperatures of Yamata. A used weapon is always on the road to destruction.”
He zoomed in on the image.
Susaou grew larger as it stood in front of the bright sun.
Portions of the blackened armor covering its giant limbs and body had melted and the bridge in the head had vanished as if it had been gouged out.
“On his deathbed, my grandfather mentioned the box of the bridge in the head, but that no longer exists.”
The head had been destroyed.
The metal had melted and formed a square stage with fifteen meter sides. Only a single object stuck up from that floor.
It was a straight piece of metal around a meter and a half long.
“The only thing left in the remains of the bridge is Totsuka, the Cowling Sword my grandfather created to seal Yamata. That’s all.”
As he muttered into the LCD monitor, he heard a sigh from behind him.
“And we went through all the formalities to get there. Even if it is under UCAT’s control, we received permission from each country’s UCAT.”
Tsukuyomi’s words drew nearer as she leaned in toward the monitor.
She then spoke as if yearning for the past.
“Afterwards, you began researching concept weapons, but soon drew back from real development and design. Now you act as the demon of fine-tuning and only perform practicality checks on new models.”
“That is not all I do. I have other jobs. Remember that weird gum project?”
“But you are avoiding any jobs that use 2nd-Gear’s power and the name of Kashima, aren’t you? Is that landslide accident from eight years ago still bothering you?”
Kashima gave no answer. He chose other words for his response.
“Right now, my interests lie elsewhere.”
The photograph of Susaou was not the only image on the monitor.
It also showed photographs of his wife and young daughter.
Tsukuyomi grinned bitterly.
“Ha ha. I guess we can’t compete with your family.”
“Director Tsukuyomi, how are things going regarding the previous director?”
“Oh, you mean my husband? Well, I think it would be nice if I found anything he left behind, but all the documents from his time here vanished in the blank period. What was he doing without telling me while I was in IAI?”
Kashima continued to stare at the LCD monitor, so Tsukuyomi patted his shoulder as if trying to cheer him up.
“Being that fond of your kid is a good thing, but don’t forget that you’re someone’s kid too. My daughter is always out late job hunting and going to informative seminars. When she gets back home, she eats, bathes, and sleeps before heading right back out the next morning. She isn’t a carrier-based aircraft, so she should really get some rest.”
“Your daughter is an F-14? But you haven’t told her about UCAT or 2nd-Gear, right? You seem to be conforming to Low-Gear, but…”
“Is that why you’re confused? You can’t figure out why this eccentric director would leave the rights to the Leviathan Road with someone trying to be a Low-Gear resident like you?”
Kashima started to speak, but trailed off.
Finally, he shook his head.
Tsukuyomi patted his shoulder again. She did so more softly and gently than before.
“Listen, Kashima. I turn 50 this year and I haven’t gone through any longevity procedures. I doubt I can remain on the forefront of development for another ten years. From now on, things will be run by you and the others of your younger generation that knows nothing at all of the war. That is why I think you need to give this some thought.”
“Give this some thought? My grandfather’s dying words and my own power have already-…”
Kashima stood up but stopped when he saw the look on Tsukuyomi’s face.
She still stood at the entrance to the partition, but her expression was very gentle.
One look at that and he lost all words.
I can’t stand up to that, he thought as he fell silent.
She smiled a bit when she saw him sit back down and wait for her to speak.
“I like seeing a man waiting for a woman to speak. Makes me jealous of your wife.”
“Sorry, director, but your age has not been kind to that ingratiating voice.”
“Just leave me be. …Anyway, you need to think about your stance as part of 2nd-Gear. Also…”
“This will likely be your last chance to be involved with Susaou.”
“It doesn’t matter. The remnants my grandfather mentioned are no longer there. Only Totsuka remains.”
Kashima opened a text file on his laptop.
The document contained the results of some research he had done. It provided the reason 2nd-Gear could not leave UCAT.
“The records contained a single fact. Susaou’s captain spoke the word to control Yamata and sealed Yamata in Totsuka, but he died. That was all.”
“And with his death, Low-Gear lost the word to seal Yamata,” muttered Tsukuyomi with a sigh. “It’s a difficult issue. If the Low-Gear engineer who once sealed Yamata had survived and that word had remained with Low-Gear, we could have formed a full allegiance with Low-Gear.”
“Yes.” Kashima nodded and spoke that engineer’s name. “Ooshiro Hiromasa. The father of UCAT’s leader, Ooshiro Kazuo, the grandfather of Team Leviathan’s supervisor, Ooshiro Itaru, and the man who my grandfather resented for not saving 2nd-Gear.” Kashima gave a bitter smile. “Of course, I did not carry on his grudge. But…”
Tsukuyomi repeated his last word and Kashima gave a troubled smile.
“But that is why I am finding this decision so hard to make.”
Sayama and Ooshiro Kazuo walked down a UCAT corridor.
After Diana left the training room, Sayama had told the others that Tsukuyomi had used a technique similar to the mysterious one Diana had used.
That had been enough for the others to agree to 2nd-Gear for the next Leviathan Road.
“Someone might be leading us in this direction, though. Not knowing is kind of frustrating.”
Kazami’s comment had summed up everyone’s thoughts.
Sayama was also interested in what sort of negotiation he should use.
Shinjou had remained in the training room, saying she wanted to perform additional target practice, but Kazami and the others had agreed to meet up in the cafeteria once they were done sorting through the documents they had gathered.
Sayama’s job was to tell Ooshiro they intended to go ahead with 2nd-Gear’s Leviathan Road.
However, Ooshiro was currently walking quickly alongside him.
Wearing his suit once more, Sayama quickened his pace to line up beside him.
“Old man, aren’t you in a lot more of a hurry than before?”
“No, no. I’m just testing a new prototype.”
He showed Sayama a digital pedometer at his waist.
It was a yellow plastic device with an LCD showing a stylized girl performing some kind of ritualistic dance. She seemed to be in as sort of trance.
“There is a lot I want to say about that, but it is relatively normal compared to some other things UCAT is developing.”
“UCAT may be developing it, but it will be sold as an IAI product. We can’t make it too out there.”
“What is the product called?”
Ooshiro answered with a confident thumbs up.
“This is the digital pedometer ‘Mambo-chan’. The character is a shaman from an esoteric religion.”
“Oh? That is quite the uncreative name.”
“Yes. To show her desire for you to walk with the pedometer as much as possible, I wanted to name her Pedo Lover, but that was immediately rejected.”
“That was for the best. But I get the feeling one can buy a pedometer anywhere these days.”
“This one is a bit different. Mambo-chan has a surprisingly direct personality. If you stop before reaching the set number of steps, she scolds you with her shaman power.”
“Just out of curiosity, what is this power?”
“Seventeen fully charged shocks on the level of a stun baton.”
“I see. If you slack off, you end up passed out on the road. Are you going to sell them to the marines for marching training?”
“Don’t worry. Situations in which you have to stop are rare and the tension can accelerate your diet. See? I’m walking just fine.”
Sayama thought for a moment.
“Old man,” he finally said. “Where have you tested the prototype so far?”
“Within UCAT. Why?”
“I have one question.”
“What is it?”
Sayama looked up at the ceiling as he walked and his expression finally grew serious.
“Have you ever heard of traffic lights and railroad crossings?”
Ooshiro looked up at the ceiling as he walked and his expression finally grew serious.
“Now what do I do?”
“Oh? So you finally reached the truth? Now, the current problem is the automatic door visible in the distance. How long does it take for the electric shocks to activate?”
“M-Mambo-chan is short tempered, so she suddenly attacks if you stand still for even a second.”
“What about turning around? We can make a quick U-turn and come back the way we came.”
“Unfortunately, Mambo-chan insists you resolutely continue on. If you turn around, she gets mad. …Ahhhh! We really are getting close to the door! Mikoto-kun! Could you go on ahead and open it for me!?”
“To change the subject, is it fine if we go with 2nd-Gear for the next Leviathan Road?”
“Don’t completely change the subject! And please hurry! I have less than fifty meters now!”
“Hm,” said Sayama with a nod. “In that case, I have something I wish to ask you again. Please answer me honestly.”
“Is this any time for that!? Ahh, Shinjou-kun would help me if she were here. Is she still in training?”
“Yes. She said she wanted to do some target practice, but does she really need that much training?”
Ooshiro’s expression was impatient, but he still formed a smile.
“Sh-she has always scored highly in training. She has problems in real battles, though. She hesitates and can’t fire.”
“Yes, she has improved somewhat since the battle with 1st-Gear, but the development department’s output records for Ex-St show she has not fully overcome it.”
Sayama recalled the battle with 1st-Gear. Shinjou had wielded enough power to be on even footing with Fafnir Custom.
“You mean she can draw out even more power than that? What is holding her power back?”
“Has she given you a reason?”
Sayama thought for a moment.
“She has no memories before six years ago.”
“I see. There is that, but there is a bigger reason too.”
“A bigger reason?”
“Mikoto-kun,” he began as a warning. “It seems you do not understand. Then again, this is very like you.”
“What do you-…?”
Before he could finish speaking, Sayama recalled something from earlier that day.
…Is the hint to this “Yamato Takeru”?
Shinjou Setsu had said that was his “lie”.
Did Shinjou Sadame have something like that as well?
Sayama nodded and said, “If I do not understand what is holding back Shinjou-kun’s power, I will be killed by her like Kumaso Takeru. Is that what you think?”
Ooshiro gave no response, but Sayama’s thoughts continued on.
He recalled how Kumaso Takeru had been killed by Yamato Takeru.
“He crossdressed and, even as he stood right before Kumaso Takeru, the disguise worked and his true form remained unseen.”
He recalled what he had thought during his fight with Diana.
...Why am I not seeing you even though I should be seeing you?
This led Sayama to a sudden realization.
He realized another doubt concerning Shinjou Setsu and Sadame.
“Oh, I get it now. That was a complete blind spot for me.”
“Do you know now why Shinjou-kun cannot use her full power, Mikoto-kun?”
“I do. I sure am brilliant.”
“That last part does not matter, so could you get to the main point?”
“I am in a good mood, so I will say Testament.” Sayama confidently gave his answer. “Shinjou-kun is crossdressing. That is, Setsu-kun is dressing up as a girl to be Sadame-kun.”
“What is it? Why are you staring at me with such suspicion?”
“Are you the type that gives your answer without giving it much thought?”
“When have I ever jumped to a hasty conclusion? Say that again and I will knock you to the ground.”
“That’s hasty enough as it is!”
“Calm down, calm down,” said Sayama as he held a hand out to restrain Ooshiro. “At any rate, it seems I let my guard down concerning Shinjou-kun.”
Sayama began to think once more. He had confirmed that Shinjou Setsu was a boy at the public bath.
…But I never confirmed that Sadame-kun is a girl.
He had seen Shinjou Sadame’s breasts before, but that might have been a UCAT trick.
If so, they have frightening technology, thought Sayama with a cold sweat. I should have touched them to make sure.
He had known her for a month, so why had he never considered gently groping them?
…I was careless.
“M-Mikoto-kun, I do not know what you are thinking about so seriously, but let me give you a warning.”
“What is it?”
“Committing crimes is a big no-no.”
“Ha ha ha ha. How can you say that as an old man whose very existence is a crime? And do you really think someone as clever as me would do that?”
“Ha…ha ha ha. I-I suppose not even you would.”
“Exactly. If I explain the situation, she will understand.”
“Wh-what did you just say?”
“Nothing. More importantly, you might want to look forward.”
Ooshiro looked like he still wanted to say something, but he panicked when he looked ahead.
“Wah! We’re less than thirty meters from the automatic door! Mikoto-kun! Please hurry up and open it!”
“Now then, old man. The issue concerning Shinjou-kun was a worthwhile digression, but we need to get to the main issue.”
“You’re ignoring me!? And do we really need to talk now!?”
“We do. Now, calmly listen to what I have to say for the remaining 25 meters. My first question is whether a relative of yours was involved with the destruction of 2nd-Gear.”
“Yes! Yes! One went to 2nd-Gear as an engineer!”
“Tell me why in detail.”
“H-how much detail!?”
Sayama thought for a moment on that impatient question.
“About twenty meters’ worth, I suppose.”
“I’m going to ignore that. Anyway, 2nd-Gear could not control Yamata with their own techniques, so they hoped to get the help of engineers from other Gears! They thought an idea from another Gear’s viewpoint could solve the problem! But… Ahhh! The door’s less than ten meters away! Hurry, hurry, hurry!”
“A quick question: do you really think I will open the door until I have heard what I want to hear?”
“That reaction really pisses me off! Let’s see… Anyway, my father didn’t make it in time! So even though they resented the engineers who had evacuated, they worked together to build the giant humanoid machine and the sealing sword and used them to fight back against Yamata!”
“Lastly, what were those machines known as?”
“The giant humanoid machine was Susaou! The sealing Cowling Sward was Totsuka!”
“I see. That is what I wanted to know. So may we go with 2nd-Gear for the next Leviathan Road?”
“Yes, yes! Just hurry!”
“You did not seem to give that much thought,” replied Sayama as he hurried to the door.
Ooshiro breathed a sigh of relief just as the door opened.
However, two large obstacles stood in his way.
They were two humans.
The aboveground portion of the UCAT facility took the form a building disguised as a transportation administration building.
The fifth floor of that building contained a certain private office.
The room was filled with scattered piles of documents and trash and a single figure was visible beyond the piles of documents on the large desk.
A man in a black suit and sunglasses sat in the desk’s chair.
He held a local newspaper.
His eyes moved across the text, but he did not appear to be actually reading it.
He folded the newspaper to view the back and brushed up his white hair.
He suddenly looked up.
He had heard quiet footsteps in front of the room’s door.
He quickly folded the newspaper and tossed it near the door.
It made a dry rustling sound as it fell to the floor.
In the very next moment, the office door opened and a maid wearing a black dress and white apron entered.
She held a silver tray carrying a cup.
However, she did not look over to see if the man was at the desk. It was as if his presence was a foregone conclusion.
As she took a step forward, her expressionless gaze noticed the newspaper at her feet. She picked it up with one hand.
“Itaru-sama, today’s morning paper has arrived. Would you like to read it?”
“What’s the headline, Sf?”
“Tes. ‘In Shinjuku yakuza turf war last night, one of our own reporters met a surprising end!’ ”
“No, thanks. Throw it over there.”
With only a single shake of her short hair, Sf walked straight over the documents scattered on the floor.
However, she did not leave any footprints on those documents. Not a single paper so much as shook.
Once Sf reached Itaru, she held out the silver tray in her hand.
“Itaru-sama, I have brought your coffee.”
“I don’t want it.”
“Tes. I simply wanted to say that, so do not worry. Shall I dispose of it here?”
“The last time I told you to dispose of it, you really did dump it on the floor.”
“Tes. That was two weeks after I arrived. I have checked that memory to a depth level of five, so there is no mistaking it.”
“Yeah, I remember it too. I ultimately had to wipe the floor myself. It was also the first time I thought about having you dismantled, so it’s a day to remember. High-quality machines are so wonderful because they do what you tell them to.”
“Tes. I have determined you must be very methodical if you were ready to dismantle me for maintenance within two weeks. But do not worry. I am the pride of German UCAT and my automatic internal cleaning is guaranteed to suffice for 666 years.”
“Oh? You perform automatic cleaning?”
“Tes,” answered Sf with a nod. She lightly rotated her wrist. “At night when I have nothing else to do, I remove the parts myself and diligently brush them.”
“Automatic just means you do it yourself? Anyway, I don’t want the coffee, so you drink it for me.”
“I have no digestive system, so I cannot drink it.”
“I see. Then I guess I’ll drink it. It’s a shame you’re a machine that can’t experience this wonderful flavor.”
Itaru turned to Sf with a smile and Sf remained expressionless.
“I am glad you are pleased. Please take your time.”
“…Come to think of it, a defective machine like you can’t understand sarcasm, can you?”
“Tes. I determined that to be what you wanted. If you change your mind, I can always add emotional functionality.”
“Emotional functionality? What would happen if you plugged that in?”
Sf thought for a moment and finally tilted her head.
“Tes. Plugging it in would only get in the way. I would install it internally.”
“And what would happen once you installed it?”
“Tes. Once I installed it, I would have emotions.”
“No matter how unreasonable a command, I would respond with a smile. No matter how disagreeable a master, I would cry upon his death.”
“That isn’t emotional functionality. It’s robot functionality, you problem machine.”
Itaru took the cup Sf held out and took a sip.
Seeing that, Sf tilted her head expressionlessly.
“You can drink coffee now?”
“It’s nothing but water, caffeine, flavoring, and coloring. Describing it as similar to poison would not be an exaggeration. I hate it.”
“Then why are you drinking it?”
“Because you said you can’t, Sf. That makes this your fault.”
“Tes. I will make sure to bring some for you after every meal.”
“Why? Some kind of unnecessary consideration for your master?”
“Because it is what you want, Itaru-sama,” said Sf expressionlessly.
Itaru looked back at her face and finally held up the cup.
“Next time, bring me something colorless. The coloring stains my mouth.” He brushed up his white hair. “I only accept meaningless things like color and flavor.”
“Tes,” said Sf with a nod.
She quickly turned around as Itaru watched.
She swiftly turned toward the entrance. Of the two hands holding the tray, she moved her right.
Her right hand held a black handgun which she aimed up at the office entrance.
Itaru then noticed a woman standing in that entrance.
This tall woman wore a black suit.
Her long silver hair swayed as she lightly raised a hand in front of the already closed door.
“Oh, dear. I didn’t expect you to notice when I had only walked in. I miscalculated.”
She used a joking tone, but Sf’s pose did not change.
The tray was still in her left hand and the handgun in her right.
“I detect a powerful philosopher’s stone. You are of unknown affiliation, so I ask you introduce yourself. You have 15 seconds.”
“Oh, my, my. Itaru-kun, can you say something to her?”
“She is an extremely uninvited guest. Sf, do as I wish.”
“Oh? Isn’t that a harsh greeting for someone you haven’t seen in ten years? And Sf, have you forgotten one of the people who helped create you?”
“When I was re-adjusted in Japanese UCAT, I was formatted for Japanese use.”
“Eh!? You’re kidding!” The woman brought a hand to her mouth in surprise. “Th-then did they delete all the episodes of the cartoon Herr Himmler I hid in a corner of your memory!? Even the rare episode ‘Goebbels is Flustered’!?”
“I just performed a search and discovered a large blank in the surplus memory on the fifth depth level. I have determined that is all that remains.”
“Ahh, and after I came here to get them back.”
“Hey, Sf, you can go all out eliminating her.”
Sf silently aimed the handgun.
The woman frantically waved her hand.
“You really can’t joke with her, can you? But what if that goes for me, too?” With a bitter smile, she gave her name. “I am Diana Zonburg of German UCAT. Damit Gut?”
In a corridor on the third basement, Sayama saw two people blocking the way ahead of him.
One was an older bald black man wearing a white armored uniform and a vest.
Sayama had met him during the battle with 1st-Gear. His name was Boldman and he helped coordinate with the normal units.
The other, Sayama did not recognize.
He was a large old Arab man who wore a sand yellow combat coat over his white armored uniform.
He wore a cloth wrapped around his head like a turban and he was facing Sayama.
He may have been old, but he was around two meters tall and his gaze was plenty sharp.
His white eyebrows and long white beard moved.
“Sayama?” he said in a low voice.
Immediately afterwards, Sayama felt a pain in the left side of his chest.
Sayama wondered why until he noticed the man’s gaze. He was looking in Sayama’s direction, but…
…He is not looking at me.
He seemed to be looking toward Sayama yet recalling something from the past.
As soon as Sayama realized that, the pain in his chest strengthened.
“Out of the way, Abram!” shouted Ooshiro.
His slender body and lab coat had made it within three steps of the door.
The Arab man named Abram began to move aside.
But with Boldman next to him, the door was full. He could not move.
Upon noticing that, Sayama turned to Ooshiro and nodded.
“How very unfortunate.”
“I know you don’t actually think that!” shouted the old man just as a door along the corridor opened.
However, Sayama knew that door led to the concept space office floor.
Another old man suddenly burst from the darkness on the other side of the door.
He was slender and had long black hair. His name was Yonkichi and he had helped navigate the helicopter taking Sayama to the battle with 1st-Gear.
As Yonkichi left in a hurry, Ooshiro charged into the office floor.
Mambo-chan may have insisted one resolutely continued on, but it seemed right angle turns were acceptable.
The door quickly closed and Yonkichi looked confused.
“Um, what was that about?”
“Nothing more than an old man’s recreation. If he does not go for a walk, he cannot remove the toxins from his body.”
“Testament. Anyway, I must be going!”
Yonkichi quickly ran off in the direction Sayama and Ooshiro had come from.
Sayama let out a breath, realized the pain in his chest was gone, and looked toward the two large men who took a step away from the door and toward him.
Boldman indicated Abram to his side.
“Should I call you commander, Sayama Mikoto? This is the director of the field operation department, Director Abram Mesam. You have not met him yet, have you?”
“Team Leviathan is a special division of the field operation department, so do you supervise us?” asked Sayama.
Abram responded in a low, clear voice.
“No, Team Leviathan essentially has independent authority. Its direct supervisor, Ooshiro Itaru, and the man who just left, Ooshiro Kazuo, both have more authority than me when it comes to you.” His tanned face then twisted into a smile. “Nice to meet you. I am Abram Mesam and I control your backup and the other field operation members. If you ever need anything, Boldman here will take care of it.”
“Testament,” replied Sayama.
He no longer felt any pain from Abram’s gaze.
With a quick nod to Sayama’s response, the man began walking away. As he did, the hem of his coat flipped around and he asked a question.
“Is 2nd-Gear up next for the Leviathan Road?”
“That is our current plan.”
Abram gave a bitter laugh at Sayama’s tone.
That laugh reminded Sayama of how Siegfried had reacted to his words after the battle at the Imperial Palace. In that case…
“Director Mesam, were you one of UCAT’s original members?”
“I know UCAT originally had Professor Kinugasa at the top, Izumo’s grandfather, my grandfather, the old man’s father, and Siegfried. How many other primary members were there?”
“Including me, four. There were a total of eight gathered under Kinugasa Tenkyou and every single one of them was stranger than me. And if you wish for it, you will surely meet all of them.”
“Is the name Shinjou among those last four?”
His response was an immediate denial.
Sayama had expected that answer. Just as Fasolt had said, the Shinjou in the National Defense Department had disappeared before he entered UCAT.
Sayama did not know what it meant, but it was as Abram said: if he wished for it, he would surely meet them.
Abram did not turn around, but his voice mixed in with his departing footsteps.
“Will you be going to the Showa Memorial Park in Tachikawa tomorrow?”
That location had just come up at school and Kazami had mentioned it after training as well.
“You mean where that giant humanoid machine is located?”
“Testament. The two machines which saved Low-Gear from Yamata are located there. The first is the five hundred plus meter Susaou. The other is the divine sword Totsuka.”
“So it follows the legend of Susanoo?”
“Yes. The Concept Core that is Yamata is closed within Totsuka. I am on my way to the development department to suggest we regulate the concept space around Susaou tomorrow. …How about you perform the preliminary negotiations there with 2nd-Gear’s representative?”
Abram did not turn around.
Instead, Boldman turned toward Sayama and raised his right hand as a sign of parting.
Sayama turned his back on the two men just as an old man dashed out of the darkness of the office division to the side.
He was slender, had long white hair, and wore a white coat.
“You are Nijun who I met in the medical room before. Why are you in such a hurry?”
“Oh, Sayama-sama. Did you happen to see my youngest brother?”
“You mean Yonkichi? He rushed off in that direction not long ago.”
“Is that so?” Nijun pulled a cell phone from his pocket. “Brother, pass this on to Mitsuaki. That fool is most likely on his way to the second floor.”
“What exactly is going on?” asked Sayama.
“That fool has once more tried to build up his own character independent of us. This time, he started adding ‘gelge’ to the ends of his sentences. As his older brothers, we were just about to punish him.”
“I see. With four brothers, it must be difficult to remain coordinated.”
“It is. Oh, here comes my brother. I see he has brought the Azure Dragon Sword. …I will be going then.”
While making sure not to look toward the newly arriving brother, Sayama asked a quick question.
He was curious about a certain inconsequential matter.
“Excuse me, but I believe an old man whose foolishness is of the highest order ran inside there a bit ago.”
“So that would make him the foolishest? No, that might not be a word. Anyway, you mean Ooshiro-sama, correct? He ran inside half-crazed not long ago, but…”
“A female employee stood in front of him and held out some tea, but the moment he stopped and began to drink it, he collapsed. He is still collapsed on the floor and convulses once about every five seconds. Everyone assumed it was some new game of his, so we are leaving him be.”
“That is fine. This game will end after 17 rounds. I will collect him once the electric shocks are over.”
“Goodbye,” said Nijun as he left.
Sayama gave an exasperated sigh as he listened to the man’s footsteps.
“Why is this place always so lively?”
A short silence filled Ooshiro Itaru’s private office.
It was caused by Sf as she faced Diana.
As soon as Diana’s introduction came to an end, Sf narrowed her eyes.
And she suddenly lowered her handgun.
“Tes. I have checked your child string vibration. Name: Diana Zonburg. Affiliation: German UCAT. Rank: Division Chief. Sex: Female. Age: ”
“You don’t have to give that. Be a good girl now.”
Diana quickly walked up alongside Sf, embraced her, and stroked her head and cheek.
Itaru, the owner of the room, sighed and looked up at Diana with half-lidded eyes.
“Why are you here, you old-style German? Did you want to see my present situation?”
“Do the Japanese even know what an emotional reunion is?”
“Then are you here to bring back memories of my past? You should know I can never forget that past.”
All intonation left Itaru’s voice.
Meanwhile, Sf lightly brushed away the hand rubbing her head.
She took half a step to move between Diana and Itaru.
“I must inspect your belongings.”
“Is that what your master wants?”
“Tes. It is also my decision. But please keep in mind that I will not let my guard down even if you possess no dangerous objects, Diana-sama. Words can be dangerous these days.”
“Yes,” said Diana with a sigh as Sf’s slender fingers poked at her hair and shoulders.
Her smile vanished.
“I guess I still can’t talk about old times with Itaru-kun.”
“You can do that once I die. But how about you speak to their empty graves instead of me?”
Diana did not nod in response and her smile did not return.
“Team Leviathan has some interesting members,” she said.
“Oh, so you met them? You are Germany’s greatest witch who was once known as the Mother Cat. What are you doing here? Are you going to crush any idiot who tries to oppose us like you did during our time?”
Diana still did not nod, but a thin smile appeared on her lips.
“You really haven’t changed. But I’m relieved. I can tell you and your father are still manipulating things behind the scenes. I never thought you would manage to gather so many members for Team Leviathan. And you’ll gather even more, won’t you?”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I saw Director Abram earlier. It was only from a distance, but he was giving a rare smile.”
“…So he was smiling.”
“Testament. He only smiles when talking about the past. He refers to himself as an imposter, so he must be happy to talk about the true eight.” She nodded. “You will gather all of them eventually, won’t you? UCAT was originally made up of the destroyers of worlds known as the Eight Great Dragon Kings plus Kinugasa Tenkyou for a ninth member. You will eventually gather the people who will succeed them and go further than we ever did, won’t you?”
“Hah. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Testament. You can say it like that if you want. We are the only ones…no, you are the only one that understands. …I worked to forget what once was, but you are still actively involved,” she said. “But promise me one thing. Do not let them become like us. Also, give them a future. …If you do that, I will fully support Team Leviathan.”
“I can’t promise that, but you still need to help. It doesn’t have to be full support.”
Diana’s shoulders drooped at his expressionless words.
She let out a fake-sounding sigh.
“You are a complicated person. When a woman asks you for a promise, you are supposed to agree.”
“I don’t need promises. I need people who will work so I don’t have to do anything. I don’t bargain. Does the Mother Cat ask the owner of the house for permission to play with her toys? What is your job?”
“I think I will defeat them as many times as it takes.”
“Oh? From that look, I take it you’ve already cheerfully done so.”
Both of them gave bitter smiles and Diana nodded.
“I will be showing up in training more and more and let them lose to all sorts of things. They have no time and they cannot afford to lose in a real battle.”
“Only one that loses and recovers will grow stronger. That is the creed of German UCAT, isn’t it?”
“Japan walks down the same path. You seem to be valuing weakness in modern times, though.”
“We are a happy country that can accomplish a journey to find ourselves all within our own minds. Of course, that method will only find the version of yourself that is convenient. Any real philosopher would find it laughable.”
Diana did not nod, but she smiled at Itaru.
“Testament. I am a bit relieved.”
“That Sf is taking her job seriously if you ignore her odd interpretations of orders?”
“Sure, let’s go with that. …I did only just reunite with her, though.”
Diana then looked down at Sf.
“What is it?”
“Um,” began Diana as the ends of her eyebrows lowered slightly.
She tilted her head while clearly having difficulty deciding what to say.
She looked more directly at Sf who was touching her body.
“Why have you been kneading my breasts for a while now?”
“Tes. They are so needlessly large that I suspect you are hiding something inside them.”
“Knowing her, she could have napalm in there, so be careful,” commented Itaru.
“I bought it myself.”
“Tes,” said Sf as she continued to touch Diana.
“Sf,” called out Itaru. “If you’re searching for concept weapons using the philosopher’s stone reaction, it’s no use. She modified her body to make herself young again. Just like with Doctor Chao, her entire body will give off the philosopher’s stone reaction.”
“Tes. Understood. The reaction coming from her chin, chest, and lower belly is especially-…”
“You don’t need to bring up any unnecessary information! C’mon, look how cute you are.”
Diana forcibly embraced Sf and stroked her head while staring at Itaru with half-lidded eyes.
“You didn’t install anything weird when you formatted her, did you?” she asked out of the corner of her mouth.
“I used the method you prepared,” he replied without nodding.
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