Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Prologue
Prologue: The Beginning of False Testimony
The beginning contradictorily tells of the end
Where does that wind lead?
The heavens were filled with the dark colors of night, but no stars could be seen.
This was Tokyo. The moving people shook the air and artificial lights erased the stars from the night sky.
A certain sound was audible in one street of that city.
It was a solid sound. A metal tip was striking the asphalt.
A voice joined the sound.
“Sf, what do you think of Tokyo’s Kanda district at night?”
Those words were spoken by a gray-haired man wearing a black suit. He used a metal cane to walk alongside a white-haired maid named Sf.
Sf spun around and looked around the area when she heard his question.
“The sidewalks are filled with people and the roads with cars, but I have determined they are all moving toward the train station.”
“Oh? And does a wise automaton such as yourself know why?”
“Tes, I have determined they are hurrying home, Itaru-sama.”
“I see,” said the gray-haired man with a nod. Sf stopped in front of him. “What is it, you stupid automaton? Are you trying to block your master’s path?”
Sf was holding both hands out. Those small hands were holding something.
“What’s with that small piece of paper and stamp?”
“To put it simply, this is an ‘I did what Itaru-sama wanted’ point card. Once I reach 20 points, I can praise myself. I usually stamp it myself, but this is the 20th point. Itaru-sama, you do the honors.”
Itaru narrowed his eyes as he took the card and stamp and stamped it.
“What is this weird super deformed face symbol?”
“It is you, Itaru-sama. It was developed by the UCAT development department.”
Sf took back the card and bowed.
“Excuse me a moment.”
She rubbed her own head with her right palm, lowered her hand, and spoke expressionlessly.
“Tes. I am done.”
“Is once enough? You sure are modest.”
“If you wish, I can do it any number of times.”
“Once is enough. And don’t do that in front of people. …Who knows what they would think.”
“Tes. I will only do it in front of you, Itaru-sama.”
“Oh? Sorry, but I’m a person, too.”
“If you say so, Itaru-sama.”
Itaru gave no response.
He began walking again. His feet and cane chose a path leaving the road.
He left the people hurrying home along the main road.
“Itaru-sama, doesn’t this path lead to…?”
“Yes. You’ve been here for some adjustments before.”
Itaru stopped in front of a large white-walled building taking up a large space in the city.
“Officially, it’s known as a hospital, but it’s actually Japanese UCAT’s Tokyo lab. It works with the Okutama development department. I hear they’re improving the anti-3rd god of war.”
“Why are we here today?” asked Sf.
Itaru pulled an envelope from his pocket.
“I have to give this to a certain man. He’s a descendent of 2nd-Gear which is the basis of Japanese mythology.”
“A descendent of 2nd-Gear?”
“Yes. …He holds the name Kashima which is both 2nd-Gear’s strongest military god and swordsmith. Tonight, he left UCAT in Okutama and came here.”
“Could you not wait until tomorrow and give it to him once he returns to UCAT?”
“In all things, the atmosphere is important. Remember that, Sf.”
“Tes. In all things, useless additions are important. I understand.”
Itaru returned the envelope to his pocket and walked toward the white building.
Sf followed right behind him.
“But who is this Kashima?”
“Well, this may be a roundabout way to answer…but do you want to hear about 2nd-Gear?”
“No, not really.”
“Then I will tell you.” Itaru slowed his pace and smiled. “Sixty years ago, 2nd-Gear sided with Izumo Aviation Institute’s National Defense Department before any other Gear.”
“I have heard of that. Control of 2nd-Gear’s Concept Core control system was lost as the Concept War continued and it became the flame dragon Yamata. They signed a treaty and asked that IAI come to their aid.”
“Yes, but help did not arrive in time. 2nd-Gear was burned and destroyed by Yamata. …And in ’46 after the war ended, Yamata was sealed here in Low-Gear. It was sealed using a giant humanoid machine created by a certain researcher in Low-Gear as well as…” He took a breath. “A sword created by Kashima’s grandfather. But…”
“But when it was sealed, the flame dragon Yamata was unable to trust the people of 2nd-Gear who allowed it to lose control. It was sealed based on the trust of a certain Low-Gear researcher. The right to control Yamata should have been passed down by certain people of 2nd-Gear, but Low-Gear stole that right due to Yamata’s lack of trust,” explained Itaru with a bitter smile. “But the Low-Gear researcher who spoke the word to seal Yamata was burned to death by the heat of the flame dragon while sealing it.”
“So the word used to seal Yamata has not been passed down to anyone?”
“Only the Kashima family knows it.”
“Testament. And that is why you are meeting Kashima-sama. Yamata must be controlled when 2nd-Gear’s Concept Core is released.”
Sf looked forward and Itaru followed suit.
An oden stand was set up on the empty street in front of the white-walled building.
“That oden stand is a UCAT disguise, isn’t it? It is the central guard station.”
Currently, a single man sat in the chair behind the stand.
He wore glasses, work clothes, and a lab coat. He looked around thirty, had a slender frame, and was facing the laptop placed on the small counter.
As Sf approached him, she narrowed her eyes. Finally, she spoke.
“Tes. I have checked his child string vibration. He is Kashima Akio of Japanese UCAT’s development department. His is a senior member. He, his parents, and his grandparents all have pure 2nd-Gear blood. However…”
“His physique does not befit the title of strongest military god.”
“No, it doesn’t,” said the man behind the counter as he stood up.
Kashima stood with a relaxed posture and smiled toward Itaru and Sf.
He took a few steps toward them.
“I like it when people don’t think of me as a military god.”
Kashima gave a small bow. Sf lowered her head in place of Itaru, but she frowned.
Kashima tilted his head when he noticed.
“Did a sudden thought come to you?”
“Tes. Kashima-sama, why would you like that I did not compliment you?”
“Because I dislike power. …I dislike my own power.”
“That’s all there is to it, Sf, so don’t question it. He’s a member of the development department. Do you want to cause a split among comrades by unnecessarily finding fault in him?”
“I was not aware you had any comrades, Itaru-sama.”
“Oh? It looks like modern automata naturally reject their master’s personality.”
Kashima suddenly smiled in realization as he listened to the two of them.
“Oh, by any chance are you Supervisor Ooshiro of Team Leviathan? What are you here for?”
“I am here to meet you. Am I interfering with your work? From what I heard, you were on guard duty so you could defeat some persistent attackers while also testing a Cowling Sword.”
“Yes. Oddly enough, the research facilities around here have been attacked a lot lately. And by a mysterious group. My friend Atsuta and I have guard duty here, but I arrived a bit early.”
Kashima raised his right hand. That hand held the laptop which had been sitting on the counter before.
Itaru looked at the opened LCD monitor.
“Were you killing time by researching Cowling Swords as a bearer of the name Kashima?”
“No, I stopped producing them eight years ago. I was passing the time by watching videos I took of my daughter. She’s only four months old, but she’s super cute. Look.”
As the screen displayed a video of a baby, Itaru grabbed Sf’s shoulders and casually pushed her forward.
Sf watched the baby and woman with short hair on the screen.
“I can find no visual match. …Are this woman and child from Low-Gear?”
“She was a classmate during my college years. My wife is Natsu and my daughter is Harumi. Oh, look. Harumi is about to raise her hand. Look, look, look. Ah, she raised it! How cute!”
“Itaru-sama, how should I react to this?”
“Tes. Kashima-sama, I have determined Harumi-sama did very well.”
“Thanks, thanks. …Anyway, what do you need with me?”
“Well, Kashima-kun, it’s a simple matter. To put it in a more roundabout way, what do you think of Team Leviathan?”
Kashima gave a troubled smile at that sudden question but answered after a short pause.
“I think it’s amazing,” he said with a shrug. “You have unfair weapons using Concept Cores, you’ve gathered skilled people from all over, and you’ve proven yourselves by getting 1st-Gear to ally with you. I think you’ve done quite well.”
“Then how would you compare us to your own power, Kashima-kun?”
Kashima’s smile vanished, but Itaru continued speaking.
“I hear the Cowling Sword you wielded eight years ago could emit power that rivals Izumo’s V-Sw.”
“That…was destroyed back then,” said Kashima expressionlessly.
Sf must have thought something about this change in Kashima’s attitude because she took action. She swiftly moved in between Itaru and Kashima.
“I apologize. Kashima-sama, your shoulders have tensed-…”
Sf trailed off because Kashima had placed his hand on Sf’s head at some point.
Sf’s expressionless face grew even harder. Kashima sighed and nodded.
He rubbed Sf’s head.
“Sorry. I have no intention of harming your master.”
“Then please stop rubbing my head.” Sf pulled a paper card from her pocket and held it out. “If you wish to do so, take this. If my usefulness earns 20 points, you may rub my head.”
“Thank you. …Anyway, I hope you understand. I sealed my own power in that accident eight years ago. I sealed my power to create swords and to wield them. Why are you here, Supervisor Ooshiro? Don’t tell me you came here to dig up my past.”
“I am happy to tell you that is exactly why I am here. You can be as surprised as you like.” Itaru gave a nod and a bitter smile. He pulled the white envelope from his pocket and held it out. “The next negotiations in the Leviathan Road will be with 2nd-Gear. Tsukuyomi, the development department director, said you would be the representative.”
“2nd-Gear has already allied with Low-Gear, so what could you want now? And what could the military god who sealed his own power want? I would like for you to show us that.”
Kashima remained perfectly motionless and Itaru bowed his head.
Sf did the same while standing in front of him.
As they bowed, a single voice and the sound of a metal cane rang out into the night.
“For our atonement with the past that the late Sayama wished for, you will take part in the Leviathan Road in search of some answer. That is what we all wish for.”
The area that best absorbed the darkness of the night was not the ocean or the city.
It was the forest.
A certain Tokyo forest existed far to the west of the city center. It was located in the area known as Okutama.
Below the moon in the night sky were trees surrounded by darkness.
Just one spot of that dark forest was not filled with shadows. The moonlight reached that spot.
Rows of white-walled buildings could be seen sitting there.
Those buildings were the Tokyo Branch of IAI.
Further back in the valley behind IAI was a single long runway and a white building.
That building was the IAI transportation administration building as well as the headquarters for Japanese UCAT.
The lights were on in that building’s lobby.
White light filled that high-ceilinged lobby and a single painting hung on its wall.
The framed oil painting measured two meters square and it showed the Virgin Mary embracing her crying child. Below the painting, six lines of English lyrics were carved into a metal plate.
They made up the English translation of the hymn Silent Night.
Two people sat in the red carpeted lobby below the painting.
One was a black-haired girl. She sat on a sofa while wearing a black T-shirt and a white denim dress. She was speaking to the old man sitting across from her.
The gray-haired old man wore a lab coat and smiled as the girl gestured and smiled while talking.
The girl raised both hands and her smile grew.
“And Sayama-kun is just so amazing, Ooshiro-san. What took me a month in reflexes training he finished in just a week. There are some things he’s really weird about, but I think he’s mostly an amazing person.”
“That is because Mikoto-kun used to train at a really weird dojo called the Hiba Dojo. Shinjou-kun, he should tell you about it eventually. As well as what happened to him.”
“Yeah,” said Shinjou Sadame as she lowered her hands.
“Where is Mikoto-kun now?” asked Ooshiro to the girl whose cheeks were a bit flushed.
“With starting school this month and working with the student council, he hasn’t finished his training time yet. He said he would work at it until late tonight. …He sure has a lot of energy.”
Her eyebrows lowered slightly and she looked at the painting on the wall.
Her mouth opened slightly and she muttered the first line of the English lyrics.
Shinjou then lowered her gaze once more.
“It seems Sayama-kun’s left arm is almost fully healed. Will Setsu’s role be over soon? He won’t need Setsu to help him out anymore.” Shinjou’s voice grew quieter. “Once Setsu leaves Sayama-kun, my lie will be half gone.”
“Are you really okay with Setsu-kun leaving him?”
Shinjou raised her head, looked at Ooshiro with her black eyes, and formed a smile.
“I think it went well. Normally, I…Setsu and I are not allowed out of UCAT. Getting to go to school and be with someone like him may have been more than enough.” She nodded. “Once the Leviathan Road is over, Sayama-kun will have no more reason to be with me. …Once that happens, will I have to stay goodbye to Sayama-kun as well?”
“Well.” Ooshiro folded his arms. “Shinjou-kun. I have a hypothetical question for you.”
“Hm? What is it, Ooshiro-san?”
“What if Sayama-kun said he wanted to remain with you even after the Leviathan Road?”
Shinjou thought for a moment and blushed.
“Th-that would never happen. Sayama-kun is only with me so he can bring out his serious side and face the Leviathan Road. I can’t conveniently assume it’s anything more. And…”
“If I’m always with him, he’ll find out about my lie. Sayama-kun is clever. It’s dangerous enough as it is. …If he found out about my lie, I think he would start avoiding me.”
Shinjou lightly embraced her own body.
She sighed as if to say it was not fair.
“I can only be with Sayama-kun because of my lie. You understand, don’t you, Ooshiro-san? You and the others who know the reason behind my lie take such good care of me.”
After a while, Ooshiro finally nodded. He let out a deep breath and adjusted his position on the sofa.
As he did, the sound of exhaust could be heard outside the lobby and next to the administration building.
Shinjou and Ooshiro looked out the large window and saw the lights of three vehicles leaving and heading toward IAI.
“Come to think of it, you use those trucks disguised as mobile food stands even at night. What are they heading out for?”
“You know the UCAT Tokyo Laboratory in Kanda, right? They research concept space production devices and update the god of war. Lately, there have been some attempts to get at what’s inside there, so we’ve strengthened the security a bit.”
“Security? So was that some special division?”
“No, it was the development division. The 2nd-Gear group said this was a good opportunity to test out a new Cowling Sword. Director Tsukuyomi always helps us so much with our equipment that I can’t say no.”
“I see. 2nd-Gear adapted well to Japanese UCAT and has already been fully naturalized, right? 2nd-Gear was the basis for Japanese culture after all.”
“Yes. They are impossible to tell apart form a normal Japanese person. Some of their older people will occasionally give classes on 2nd-Gear history for the younger ones, but they are otherwise normal citizens of Low-Gear.”
“I see,” said Shinjou again with a nod.
She looked out the large window which showed her reflection a bit. The lights of the vehicles were no longer visible.
She looked at herself in the window.
She was surprised to find the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
Shinjou tilted her head at her own reflection.
“I hope I can adapt to myself.”
In the Kanda district of Tokyo, the stillness of late night surrounded the UCAT Tokyo Laboratory.
This was the time when the city of Tokyo would get some short sleep in the light of the streetlights.
However, a few noises around that white-walled building disturbed that sleep.
There were three noises in all.
The first was the wind rustling through the trees along the road, the second was a high-pitched metallic noise, and the third was a song.
The first was the last traces of the wind signifying the end of spring, the second was the clashing of swords signifying the beginning of a battle, and the third was an out-of-tune male voice.
“Say farewelllll to themmmm! Knock them out with a single punnnnnch!”
As that song filled the air, the wind may have died down, but the sounds of the swords never stopped.
The voice and the noises came from between some buildings located away from the UCAT Tokyo Laboratory.
The song came from a shadow.
This shadow sang as he weaved along the functional street that contained no residences.
A few other shadows charged at the first shadow. They reached him but were blown away.
“As they shed some tearsssss! Say goodbye with three taaaaaps!”
The shadow running on ahead would not fall.
Without lessening his speed, he ran across the road, weaved between the trees, and cut in between buildings.
After a total of seven clashes, seven other shadows collapsed and the chorus came to an end.
Once the shadow finished singing, he ran out from between the buildings and into the street.
He stopped below a streetlight.
The light showed he was a young man wearing the white combat coat of UCAT.
He had short hair dyed blond, slender shoulders, and thin forward-looking eyes.
“I can’t keep this up. I just can’t. I’ve even run out of enka songs. …I need some more fuel.”
As he spoke, he held his right hand up to his shoulder. He wore a black gauntlet to prevent the sword he held from slipping. On the surface of the sword’s white cowling was a black label that said “7STAR”.
He casually held the sword between his right shoulder and neck so he could use both hands to search through his pockets.
As he did, a staticky male voice came from his neck.
“Atsuta. I’m not getting any data from the Cowling Sword. What are you doing?”
The voice came from a small communicator. The young man named Atsuta frowned.
“I was taking a quick nico break.”
“It means to smoke, Kashima. Y’know, nicotine and all? I think it sounds more bright and positive than calling it a smoke break.”
“I’ll ignore most of that, but no smoking on the job. For the sake of your health, chew some of the nicotine gum in the box I gave you. It will make some people very happy. Me, especially.”
“Yeah, you quit smoking after your kid was born. But why are you trying to regulate my health, too? Anyway, come watch my battle and recital. I’m sure you’ll find it moving.”
“Moving, hm? We do say that when something fills us with emotion. The question is which emotion this would fill me with.”
“C’mon, you idiot. This is a hell of a lot more normal than staring at pictures of your wife and kid.”
“Staring? You have it all wrong. I am admiring them.”
“It’s the same thing, you idiot father.”
“Ha ha ha. Thanks for the compliment, Atsuta. More importantly, I have something to discuss with you, so accompany me on the train ride home.”
“What do you want to discuss?”
“The Leviathan Road. Supervisor Ooshiro went out of his way bring me the paperwork himself. It seems Director Tsukuyomi has given me full authority. To be honest, I’m not sure what to do.”
“Yeah, you lost all assertiveness eight years ago.”
Atsuta started ignoring Kashima.
But when he pulled his hands from his pockets, he held a long, narrow package of gum.
That nicotine gum had the UCAT symbol on it. The front had a drawing of a smiling man with his eyes opened wide as he ran down a railroad track. The name of the product was “Thomas the Danger Engine Nicotine Gum”.
“Kashima, quick question. …What is wrong with your taste for coming up with something like this?”
“The sales just keep rising.”
“Are you sure you’re not reading the chart wrong? Is it rising as you go to the left?”
“What are you talking about? Do you hate Thomas the Danger Engine that much? …All the kids love him.”
“Um, kids don’t need to stop smoking. Can’t you make some nicotine gum for adults that’s filled with sex and violence? Something like Female Teacher Excitement Nicotine Gum.”
“Calm down. If I made that, it couldn’t be sold in the normal market.”
“Are you insane, you naïve father? You’re going to sell this gum to the general public?”
“Apparently, it will be sold as an IAI product. The copyright check was strict. Something about the smile needing work.”
Without speaking another word, Atsuta switched off his communicator. He grabbed the sword held between his neck and shoulder and looked up into the sky.
“I need to forget that unpleasant conversation.”
He began chewing the gum.
“Salted salmon flavor. Now I want some rice,” he muttered while slowly glancing around.
At some point, Atsuta had been completely surrounded.
Atsuta stood in the center of the illumination of the streetlight and a few different shadows were standing around him.
There were four in all. They were all men wearing long black clothing.
As Atsuta watched, he realized all four of them had altered a portion of their body.
“Ha ha. You’ve got the armored body modifications from 3rd-Gear. Wouldn’t it be better to attach those toys to an automaton instead? …What Gear are you from?”
The men silently took defensive stances, but Atsuta lowered the white sword in his right hand.
“No. That attitude just won’t do. It just isn’t right. Listen up, you idiots. When I ask you a question, you answer me. Let’s try it again. …Are you part of that rumored Army that takes in people from any Gear?”
The only response he got was silence. Atsuta chewed the gum while a smile appeared in his eyes and on his lips.
“You’re here to steal the god of war being improved in the UCAT Tokyo Laboratory, right? You bring such a large group to sneak in during the night and this is all that’s left to take me on? How boring. You might as well just go ahead and leave.”
In the very next moment, Atsuta took action.
He took a casual step to the right.
It was a quick action.
He moved toward the right hand soldier in black who had mechanized both his arms.
The soldier frantically moved his metal arms into a defensive position.
But he did not make it in time.
Atsuta had already made his way close enough.
Immediately afterwards, his Cowling Sword swept by in front of the man’s chest.
That was enough to smash his arms like ice.
The soldier in black opened his mouth in a wordless cry and Atsuta pulled a piece of gum from his pocket and shoved it into the man’s mouth.
“It’s popular with children, you defeated beginner.”
Without waiting for the man’s opinion of the flavor, Atsuta kicked his unguarded body.
With his arms gone, the soldier in black collapsed and a metallic noise rang out.
But Atsuta did not even look at him. He turned around and watched the remaining three.
“Don’t worry. I won’t kill you. I’d never hear the end of it from Kashima otherwise.”
“Oh?” replied a voice.
It came from the man with two false arms who stood in the center of three standing ten meters away.
“I had heard there was an insane warrior in UCAT. He comes from the sword god family of 2nd-Gear which is the basis for Japanese mythology. His family name is Atsuta and his given name is Yukihito.”
“I’m surprised you know that. You sound like a sensible person.”
“What are you saying? You are the descendent of the gutless Gear that surrendered to UCAT before any other Gear!”
“Shut up. You’re gonna bring up something from 60 years ago that not even my dad was around for? That won’t do. It just isn’t right. …And what do you mean we surrendered, you idiot? Listen,” began Atsuta. “The culture here in Japan with its occasional sexiness and violence is based on 2nd-Gear. Our ancestors didn’t surrender. They compassionately descended before the primitive natives here, you complete idiot.”
His words and tone erased all expression from the three soldiers’ faces.
But one breath later, the man from before spoke again.
“Then we can assume 2nd-Gear will cooperate with the Leviathan Road? The holy sword Totsuka that sealed Yamata is held by UCAT along with the giant humanoid machine Susaou. So will you also…”
“Ally ourselves with UCAT in the Leviathan Road?” asked Atsuta. “I don’t know. We’ve gotten used to this country in the sixty years since the war, but Low-Gear doesn’t know the truth about us.”
“The word used to control Yamata. The Low-Gear researcher who sealed Yamata died while sealing it, so it wasn’t passed on to Low-Gear. The only person who knows it now is my friend Kashima.”
In that case…
“Low-Gear can’t control Yamata right now.”
Atsuta nodded and looked at the three men.
“Okay, that should be enough. I’ve talked enough for today. I’ll cut you down now.”
As Atsuta watched them, his enemies’ faces stiffened. One was on the right, one was directly in front, and one was to the left.
“Oh, so you can show some nice expressions. As a reward, I’ll show you something neat.”
“Just watch. If you can.”
As soon as he said that, Atsuta began walking. He walked toward the man on the right.
He walked casually and without suppressing his footsteps. However, the man did not react. He only waited for the approach as if he could not see Atsuta.
Atsuta moved up to the man.
Finally, the man panicked. He looked left and right as if he could not see Atsuta who stood right in front of him.
“H-hey, where did that idiot get-…?”
His cry was cut off.
Atsuta had cut him down.
“I won’t kill you. Take your time and enjoy this.”
Atsuta stuffed a piece of gum in the man’s mouth and turned around toward the man who had been on the left.
The exact same thing happened.
As soon as Atsuta turned around, the man on the left lost sight of him.
He checked to the left and right and bent down as if he could not see the man standing directly in front of him.
His question was cut off.
Atsuta had travelled six steps to the left and cut him down.
Once again, Atsuta stuffed a piece of gum in his mouth.
The men on the left and right had both been unable to react until he had already attacked.
All that remained were the two wrappers Atsuta balled up and tossed aside.
“You can tell your kids about it when you get home. It should be going on sale soon.”
With that comment, Atsuta stood before the man who remained in the center. Atsuta’s expression was one of complete boredom.
“Now then. Why do you look so pale, you ape? I haven’t removed any of your blood. Or did you panic because you think I’m a psychotic murderer or something?”
Atsuta held the Cowling Sword in front of the man’s face.
When he saw the white steel point of the sword, he flinched back a bit.
“That technique,” he muttered.
“That was 2nd-Gear’s Art of Walking. You approach while escaping your opponent’s perception and then take their life. There are stories of approaching an enemy to assassinate them in Japanese mythology, right? Anyone well-known in 2nd-Gear can do at least this much.”
“You have that much skill and power yet you still serve them?”
“Shut up, you idiot. …The thing is, this woman who’s important to me is from Low-Gear. It may just be one person, but, well…she’s important to me.”
Atsuta smiled bitterly. With that embarrassed smile, he scratched at his head.
“C-c’mon, you idiot. Don’t make me say such embarrassing things at a time like this.”
With that comment, Atsuta jabbed his knee into the man’s gut.
With a loud sound of impact, the mechanical arms and organic body collapsed and stopped moving.
“Ahh, ahh,” sighed Atsuta. He looked over the four collapsed figures and said, “Make sure to clean up before you leave. And don’t spit your gum out on the road. Got it?”
- Nico is Japanese onomatopoeia for smiling.
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