Owari no Chronicle:Volume4 Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Point of Acquisition
And remember so you never need to look back again
Kashima stood in the passageway behind the design room that led to the production rooms.
He wore his usual work uniform and lab coat and he held the cardkey Tsukuyomi had given him.
“What am I supposed to do? Director Tsukuyomi told me to face this, but…”
What will that teach me? he wondered.
His heart was feeling restless and he looked forward in order to fill the hole he felt there.
In the past, he had often used that white walled passageway, but now he only occasionally passed by its entrance.
…The newcomers probably think I’m a useless guy who loiters around the entrance.
That was not inaccurate.
His job was to perform the final modifications, but the newcomers seemed to think he was stealing their final job.
A few of those newcomers avoided speaking to him.
The Kashima family had a history with the sword god and swordsmith god families such as Katori or Mikami.
“The military gods of Kashima ended up forging the swords that those families were meant to forge.”
He had heard about it from his grandfather.
As the Concept War had continued, the military gods of 2nd-Gear had started forging their own swords because they had experienced the battles for themselves.
…The original smithing gods ended up forging small tools and daily items instead.
“But the situation has reversed these days.”
Kashima gave a bitter smile toward the floor and then faced forward.
The 1st Production Room was on the right side of the passageway and the 2nd was on the left a bit further down.
What mattered was the room past the corner and at the very end.
That was an area which had existed since the days of the National Defense Department.
…The 3rd Production Room.
“I used to use that room constantly, but now it is used by no one.”
Kashima nodded and began to walk.
After a dozen or so seconds, he passed by the 1st Production Room.
After a similar amount of time, he passed by the explosion-resistant door of the 2nd Production Room.
The passageway turned to the right and the 3rd Production Room was about 100 meters further down.
…I sure am calm.
His pace was steady and his grip on the cardkey in his right hand was relaxed.
…Is this all?
No hint of trembling could be heard in his footsteps and they were not too loud. He tried to move his shoulders and had no difficulty.
He felt an odd sense of loss in his body. He felt himself being cut free of something as if he was announcing that the past was only the past.
He approached the corner.
He turned right.
He focused on his actions again, but his pace was still steady and he was still looking forward.
The white explosion-resistant door of the 3rd Production Room was about 100 meters away.
The thick double door looked as white as the day it had been made.
And that was all.
Kashima touched the left side of his chest just as he had seen that boy named Sayama do in the cafeteria.
Everything was normal. His pulse was not racing and he felt no pain.
…Why am I so calm?
For some reason, the accident from eight years ago felt like a long gone event.
He recalled the sensation of the rain, of the mud, and of Natsu’s hand.
…They all feel so distant.
He wondered why. This was completely different from what he had expected.
He had thought trying to remember would cause him to relive the past in real time.
“But the past is nothing but the past,” he muttered with a sigh.
He relaxed his body once more, faced forward, and began walking.
…At this rate, I’m going to have to reassess myself.
Kashima predicted he would be able to walk up and open the 3rd Production Room as if it meant nothing to him. Then he could pick up the two pieces of Futsuno’s broken frame.
“I need to do something about it.”
Given his current calm, his options were limitless.
He could smash it on the spot and dump it down the garbage chute. He could reforge it, deliver it to Atsuta, and receive his friend’s thanks. However…
“Either way, I might quit UCAT.”
If his connection to the past was gone, he would no longer need to feel guilty concerning Natsu.
…I will be able to be an even better husband to her.
He was now only twenty meters from the door.
He continued walking while thinking about what was to come.
He thought about what he would do once he no longer had to worry about the past.
…I might be able to help with Natsu-san’s rehabilitation. She might recover to the point that her left hand and the rain no longer bother her.
Perhaps that was being arrogant, but this burst of confidence showed just how much the past had been bothering him.
But now the past was just the past.
He had feared it so much, but now that he was facing it and approaching it, it was nothing.
“I feel so stupid for avoiding it for so long.”
Kashima faced forward once more.
He had not moved a single step closer to the 3rd Production Room’s door.
Atsuta arrived at the back entrance to the Tamiya household on his motorcycle.
The back entrance was a small wooden gate. Atsuta was greeted by a young man in a suit. It was Kouji.
Kouji folded his arms while the slight afternoon wind washed over him.
“Long time no see. What brings you to the back entrance of our house?”
“You’re as stubborn as ever, Kouji. What’s going on out front anyway? It’s so loud I didn’t want to get anywhere near it.”
“The same thing you and my sister did back in your school days: preparations for the All Holiday Festival.”
“Oh, the festival. Ryouko was the student council president, so the festivals were pretty crazy back in our day. We didn’t make any preparations at your place, though”
“I knew how destructive your singing is, so I did everything I could via our parents to keep that from happening.”
“Y’know, you’re pretty damn rude.”
Kouji ignored him, sighed, and changed the subject.
“Anyway, my sister is currently out.”
Kouji immediately reacted to that name.
His body moved ever so slightly and Atsuta’s right arm shot up.
An object suddenly appeared between Atsuta’s index and middle fingers.
“A sashimi knife? You’re about 0.2 seconds faster than before. Toh!”
Atsuta’s final shout came as he jumped down in front of his motorcycle. He kept his hands on the handlebars and performed a flip. At the same time, Kouji’s left hand sent a kitchen knife through the air in a backhand swing.
“You have more techniques than the last time I saw you, Atsuta-san.”
Kouji faced Atsuta’s back as the other man landed.
Immediately afterwards, Kouji swung both arms and threw two kitchen knives at the exact same moment.
But Atsuta did not even turn around.
“If I couldn’t do this much, I wouldn’t be able to protect Ryouko!”
Atsuta swung the sashimi knife he had caught.
That produced two metallic noises.
As he slowly turned around, two knives broken at the center lay at his feet.
He faced forward and saw Kouji standing next to the motorcycle and holding a new knife in a backhanded grip.
“Atsuta-san, where did you hear about the young master?”
“Ryouko mentioned him last night.”
“And what is your relationship with the young master?”
“Like I’d tell you.”
“Then please leave. And please do nothing which would harm the young master.”
“C’mon, Kouji. Are you really gonna say that to me? You know you’re no match for me. In the same way, I know only you can handle Ryouko's problematic side.”
“I am aware I am no match for you.” Kouji gestured toward the motorcycle next to him. “Which is why I will instead do things to this motorcycle that will make you cry.”
“That will make me cry?”
“Yes. First, I will use this knife to write ‘real Yankees never die’ on it. Later, I will periodically use my family’s information network to locate the motorcycle wherever it may be and carve new statements into it.”
“Please stop. In fact, when did you get so cunning?”
“Anyone would after constantly being caught up in the trouble my sister causes.”
Kouji stared off into the blue sky and Atsuta sighed.
“Don’t say that,” said Atsuta while recalling the past. “She helped me out quite a lot. She’d go apologize to the families of the people I punched and she’d bring me a lunch when I had no money.”
“I see. For some reason, my memories of my middle school days involve being lectured with my sister at strange houses and being forced up at the crack of dawn to make two lunches for her. I suppose it is important to view everything in a positive light.”
“You got a problem? Why do you keep staring off into the distance?”
“At any rate, please leave. What is with today, anyway? You never act for anyone but yourself. Are you having some trouble with a friend?”
Atsuta smiled bitterly, climbed back onto the motorcycle, and removed the kickstand.
“That’s right. A friend of mine is having some trouble. He doesn’t seem to know who he is.”
Kashima gulped as he stared at the thick door.
He had not moved even a step closer to the white metal door since the last time he had looked at it.
He looked down and could see he was standing. His legs were not trembling. He could feel the floor beneath his feet and he could sense his waist and abdomen being supported by his legs.
But despite thinking he was walking, Kashima had not moved a single step since arriving twenty meters from the door.
“I was standing still while convincing myself I was moving forward.”
He checked his left arm to see if any concept was in effect, but the black wristwatch had not reacted since entering the design room.
What was happening?
…I can’t move forward.
The feeling welling up in his heart seemed to slide up his spine.
He was not sure how to describe the sensation or the emotions it gave him. His desire to deny it formed words.
“My inability to face the past has reached a subconscious level.”
He did not feel any fear, but he could not approach that place.
He faced that explosion-resistant door while wondering why.
A few colored metal plates were attached to the wall next to the sealed white metal of the door.
Those metal plates were engraved with the surnames of the past managers of that production room.
The leftmost plate contained the name Kashima.
However, his own name was not what he focused on now.
He started with the earliest name. That name belonged to the very first manager of the 3rd Production Room.
Next to that name was the name of the second manager.
This time, Kashima was not written in kanji. Kashima’s grandfather had refused to write it that way because he opposed fully naturalizing himself even if he had abandoned his old surname of Takemikazuchi.
Kashima finally began to tremble when he saw those two names.
He felt an extra strong beat of his heart. He did not know what to call it.
He knew nothing of his grandfather or Ooshiro Hiromasa.
Nevertheless, those two names were there. His own name was listed far to the left.
…How can this be?
Carved into that steel were names from the past and the name of the one who was to inherit the past.
Only someone who was the same as those in the past could arrive here.
Kashima recalled the past. He recalled that day nine years ago.
He had finally managed to see that giant humanoid weapon, but the bridge in the head had been mostly destroyed.
…My grandfather’s dying request to go to Susaou became meaningless.
He had focused solely on demonstrating his power in the 3rd Production Room so that he could pursue his grandfather.
As he did nothing but pursue his own power, he had forgotten all about the girl he had grown close to in his college days.
“What happened to me after that?”
He suddenly heard a certain noise.
It was the sound of rain.
…It can’t be.
He was underground. There was no way he could be hearing that.
But he was undoubtedly hearing rain.
He had gained something on that rainy night when the earth had collapsed.
What had it been? How had he acquired it?
He absentmindedly raised his left hand up in front of his face. He did so ever so slowly.
But he could not fully raise it. It stopped while positioned diagonally down.
It looked like he was holding his hand out to someone.
…Don’t think back. Don’t think back to what you reached for and what you gained.
He had thought he had carved it into his heart, but he had actually avoided touching it and simply deceived himself.
…Don’t look straight at it.
But his left hand was definitely grasping something in the empty air.
He was grasping the hand of someone he cared for. He could feel the missing fingers and the warm wetness.
Just as before, Kashima let out an enraged cry.
He clenched his hand which was covered in phantom warmth and heat. He faced forward.
He only recognized three of the names: the two rightmost names and his own name on the left.
Why had he wanted to have his name engraved there?
Back then, I viewed it as my pledge to pursue the past, thought Kashima. Please… Please let it be a lie.
He wanted to erase the fact that he had ever wanted that.
Otherwise, everything he had now would become a lie.
Natsu, Harumi, their house, the flowers in the garden, his parents’ concerns, their own concerns…all of it.
But all he felt in his hand were missing fingers and wet blood.
“That is the truth,” proclaimed the letters in that steel. “Everything you have gained is nothing but a lie used to escape from us.”
Kashima distinctly recalled the feeling of creating Futsuno.
…I felt such superiority.
He had felt joy, but that joy had frozen over in an instant when he heard the scream.
He trembled as he recalled the emotions he had felt.
“Please,” he muttered.
…I don’t need any of that anymore.
“Please rid me of this name…”
His trembling voice received no response. The engraved names sent him nothing but silence.
Those names would not move from the past.
That truth caused him to instinctually move back. He took a step back and immediately followed it with another.
“Ah,” he said quietly as he turned his back on those names. “Ahh…”
He tripped and almost fell as he began to run. There was nothing he could do to stop himself. He finally realized his entire body was trembling.
He felt as if the door behind him had opened and some unknown presence had come from within.
It was already right behind him. The names of the past and the names of the present were trying to swallow him up.
Is this what I abandoned? he thought again.
Kashima ran. After taking a few steps, he realized he still held the cardkey in his right hand. He threw it behind him.
He did the same with everything he thought would get in the way of his escape: the pen in his lab coat pocket, his calculator, his handkerchief, the lab coat itself, and the glasses on his face. He threw them all at the presence pursuing him.
But the past would not leave him. That feeling that caused him to tremble refused to let go.
He felt as if it would never let go again.
He swallowed a scream and continued to run.
…I have Natsu-san and Harumi now.
He turned the corner and ran out into the empty design room without looking back.
…So why won’t my power leave me?
“Okay. How should we handle this?”
A woman in a lab coat stood beneath the clear sky.
It was Tsukuyomi.
She was inside the 2nd-Gear concept space containing Susaou. She was in the small open area next to Susaou’s lake.
Other than the lake to the north, she was surrounded by forest.
With the rotting pier extending toward Susaou to her back, she stood in the cool wind with her arms folded and a slight smile on her lips.
She faced a boy wearing a suit. He was Sayama Mikoto.
She used her smile to welcome him and slowly began to speak.
“Sayama Mikoto-kun, are you alone?”
“Yes. The others do not like negotiations, so they are investigating the area. How about you?”
“I’m alone, too. Kashima had to gather his thoughts a bit, so he won’t be coming. I, Director Tsukuyomi Shizuru of the development department, will handle the preliminary negotiations in his place.”
“So you will be my opponent, is that it?”
She nodded just before her expression changed.
Someone had exited the forest behind the boy.
The person wore an orange jacket and a white dress.
She was out of breath and Sayama turned toward her.
“Shinjou-kun,” he said.
“Yes,” replied Shinjou Sadame upon having her name called. She looked at him and then Tsukuyomi before giving an exhausted smile. “Sorry I’m late. This is the preliminary negotiations, right?”
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