Owari no Chronicle:Volume4 Chapter 16
Chapter 16: Unmoving Predecessor
What is it that was once gained?
It is the source of the storm-bringing wind
It is the place from which all stormy paths leave
Below the blue sky and surrounded by forest, a certain object existed in the center of a lake with a radius of nearly a kilometer.
It was the giant humanoid machine named Susaou. That giant mass of metal was covered in black armor and burnt rust.
It existed within a concept space which had been created back when the Showa Memorial Park was an airfield.
Susaou existed in the very center of the space. Its giant body appeared to be made from connected warships and its waist was lowered slightly. Its two long arms were held up in front of its face.
The area around the lake below Susaou was filled with the color green.
There was a forest, a grassy field, a river, and the lake. The lake maintained its form without overflowing because the surrounding dirt and plants were carrying out their proper function.
Currently, a small commotion was occurring in the concept space’s forest.
“Wah! I’m floating!”
The voice belonged to Kazami.
She was floating four or five meters above a small clearing in the forest.
Sibyl was running around in a panic below. She stretched her arms up and jumped.
“Chisato-samaaa! Please come dowwwwn!”
“I-I can’t control it! This is due to 2nd-Gear’s concepts, isn’t it!?”
Kazami flailed her arms and legs through the air, but she did nothing but float.
When they had entered the concept space, they had all heard the following words:
—Names provide power.
This concept was displaying itself with the character for “wind” in Kazami’s name.
“I felt my body get lighter and lighter and next thing I knew I was up here! What should I do, Sibyl?”
“Chisato-sama, please try harder. Go like this: hoo hoo!”
“Wow, that gesture is so cute, Sibyl!”
“I-I am telling you to do this. What if you never return to the ground?”
“Y-you’re right. Without me around, who will protect the peace of Taka-Akita Academy from those two idiots?”
“Hey, what’re you two doing?” Izumo appeared from the forest and scratched at his head. “Stop making so much noise while I’m trying to get a nap for our investigation.”
“What kind of nonsense is that? …Anyway, what am I supposed to do?”
Izumo looked confused and approached Kazami.
“No, wait, Kaku! There’s wind blowing from you! Wind!”
“Oh, yeah. The name Izumo means ‘from the clouds’, so I guess it would produce wind. That would be why things were so cool as I slept.”
“Ahhh, Chisato-sama is blowing away to the west!”
“Fine then,” muttered Izumo as he ran after her.
He overtook his own wind and made his way below Kazami.
The direction of the wind affecting her changed. The wind was radiating from him in every direction, so the wind blew up at her from below.
She flailed around a bit more and somehow managed to come to a stop in midair.
“Thank goodness. I was about to be blown outside the concept space like a drifting jellyfish.”
“This is a pain-in-the-ass world to deal with. …But it’s not all bad.”
“What’s so great about it?”
Kazami looked down at Izumo and found him looking happily up at her.
“Why are you peeking up my skirt!? You already get to see these all the time!”
“Don’t be stupid. The panties you see all the time and the ones you can peek at now are completely different. A guy is always up for a nice peek!”
“Are you completely shameless? Ahh, and I can’t reach you!”
As Izumo nodded happily, Kazumi rotated forwards overhead as she held down the hem of her tight skirt.
At the same time, she suddenly lost all buoyancy.
With that tone of confusion, Kazami fell straight down.
“Wah! Ow ow ow ow!”
“Ah! Ch-Chisato-sama’s knee struck the side of Izumo-sama’s head as if she aimed it!”
Kazami stood up and looked down at Izumo.
He was sprawled out on the ground with an oddly happy look on his unconscious face, so she decided everything had turned out all right.
“A-are you okay?” asked Sibyl worriedly.
“He’s fine. I have no real proof, though.”
“Yes, I know that he is fine. I have no real proof either, though. But what about you?”
“Hmm. I feel like there was a slight problem with that conversation… At any rate, I’m fine. And more importantly, why do you think I fell like that?”
“I assume your weight must have suddenly incre-… Ahem. I misspoke, so please stop giving me that sad look. I am well aware of the effort you are putting into your diet.”
“Well, I was thinking of losing some weight because I went too far with my school band uniform… But don’t say that kind of thing. It makes me wonder if it’s true for an instant and it gives me a stomachache.”
“A-anyway, let us get back on topic. It happened as soon as you faced the ground,” pointed out Sibyl.
Kazami tilted her head and then nodded to drive out the thoughts of her weight.
“But it wasn’t just looking down that made me fall. There has to be another condition.”
She thought for a bit and finally found the answer.
“I saw the wind.”
As Sibyl looked confused, Kazami thought about her own family name.
“Wait, Chisato-sama! You are beginning to float again.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll come right back down this time,” said Kazami as she descended to the ground.
She smiled at Sibyl who grabbed her hand. Instead of telling her to relax, she explained.
“We weren’t thinking about my name well enough. We were focusing on the character for ‘wind’ so much we forgot about the character for ‘see’. That must be why I was blown away by the wind.” She took a breath. “The name Kazami originally referred to someone who could read the wind, so I suddenly gained the power to read the wind when I faced Kaku’s wind. I was no longer being blown by the wind; I was facing the wind.”
Kazami looked up into the sky.
She could see Susaou towering above as well as a few people in lab coats walking through the sky.
They were from 2nd-Gear. Most of the development department had come to investigate Susaou.
“They can use this power much better than us. I wonder what will happen in this Leviathan Road.”
“Director Tsukuyomi should begin the preliminary negotiations with Sayama-sama soon.”
Kazami nodded and looked down.
Izumo remained collapsed on the ground, but he had come to and was looking up at her.
“This is nice, Chisato. You don’t often get a look from a crazy angle like-…gwoh!”
The sounds coming from Izumo reverberated through that 2nd-Gear space.
Three figures stood in the field in front of Susaou.
They were Sayama, Shinjou, and Tsukuyomi.
They were the only ones in that field. As they faced each other, Sayama started by taking a breath.
This was not a sigh of discouragement or relief. It was an expectant and calming breath taken before starting something.
He looked directly at Tsukuyomi. He had a single thing he had to say, so he nodded toward her.
…It is time we began the preliminary negotiations.
“Will I be able to get along with this old hag?” he said as he brushed his hair up into the warm wind.
Shinjou gave him a panicked look and her mouth wordlessly flapped opened and closed.
He decided to look back at what he had said and he folded his arms in thought with Baku on his head.
“Oh, it seems I spoke my true thoughts out loud and thought what I intended to say. They say your body will take control during extreme situations, so that must be what happened here.”
“I don’t really care, but aren’t you going to apologize for that rude comment?”
“Th-that’s right, Sayama-kun! Even if it’s true, you can’t say it!”
“Aren’t you going to apologize for that rude comment?”
This time, Shinjou was forced to look back at what she had said.
Sayama hid Shinjou behind him and bowed toward Tsukuyomi.
“It appears we have made inappropriate comments.”
“Oh, are you apologizing? Even though the preliminary negotiations are only just beginning?”
“Yes. But, Director Tsukuyomi, you need not worry about your age. Reality is always cruel. Say goodbye to your ideals and say hello to reality. …Now, let us begin the preliminary negotiations for the Leviathan Road.”
Tsukuyomi fell silent and sighed.
“Fine, but what do you hope to accomplish here?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t act like you don’t know.”
He did know, but knowledge was different from hearing your opponent say it.
“I want to hear it from you,” he said.
Tsukuyomi gave a resigned smile.
“Kashima told you back in the cafeteria. 2nd-Gear has nothing to demand from UCAT. We aren’t the same as Fasolt from 1st-Gear.”
Tsukuyomi looked around at the city back in the real world visible beyond the field and forest.
“We are satisfied with this world. We see no reason to make waves and damage our relationship with you. Rather than get hung up over pride, we prefer to receive the benefits of this world.”
“After Yamata was sealed, the people of 2nd-Gear became fully naturalized. It seems the remaining opposition at the time was persuaded by the Kashima who created Totsuka.”
“That would be Kashima Akio-san’s grandfather, correct? He was the second in command aboard Susaou.”
“Yes. He changed his surname from Takemikazuchi to Kashima, but he refused to spell Kashima with kanji.”
Shinjou tilted her head and took a half-step forward.
“Why did he do that?”
“From what I hear, he was a complicated man. For example, he apparently never got along with Ooshiro Hiromasa who led the construction of Susaou.”
“Never got along?”
They had both been engineers and they had needed to work together to seal Yamata.
Sayama found this odd, but he kept the question in his heart.
That Kashima was from the past and he had to focus on the preliminary negotiations.
“That Kashima is gone. You were saying everyone from 2nd-Gear was convinced to naturalize, correct?’
“Yes. If there is anything 2nd-Gear has to ask of Low-Gear, it is to maintain the status quo. That is what we want from Low-Gear.”
“I see. The status quo, is it? That is a simple demand.”
Sayama smiled, nodded, and gently gave his answer.
“I reject that demand.”
The afternoon sun illuminated a farmhouse within a forest.
The large farmhouse was located next to a multi-leveled paddy field. The wooden house had a thatch roof and the veranda was darkened.
A single white figure sat on that veranda.
It was Kashima wearing his normal outfit.
His shoulders were lowered and he sat as if trying to shrink down. Behind him was a large old-fashioned Japanese-style living room with a tatami mat floor.
However, he was not looking into the house.
Without wearing his glasses, he was looking toward the paddies which reflected the afternoon sun and sky.
The multi-level paddies were surrounded by mountains and forests and they were still filled with water waiting for the rice to be planted.
“Why are you saying that like you only just realized where you are?” asked a female voice.
He turned around toward the living room and found an elderly woman wearing Japanese clothes and a white apron.
She carried tea on a tray and Kashima took a teacup and drank some. He looked toward the woman’s gray hair.
“Mom, where is dad?”
“Reading the newspaper while putting up a fight in the bathroom. He said something about suffering as he gives birth.”
“I already finished that, you fool. It was a difficult birth.”
An elderly man wearing a T-shirt and shorts entered.
He walked up and sat next to Kashima.
Kashima’s father let out a groan as he settled down and looked annoyed as he asked a question.
“Well? What is it? Did you have a fight with Na-chan? What had you running here while half in tears?”
“I wasn’t crying.”
“Then what put that look on your face?” he asked as if it was a bother.
Kashima thought for a moment and wondered if this was too sudden.
“What would you say if I told you I was quitting my job at UCAT?”
“I see.” Kashima’s father leaned forward as if in a large nod. “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
With a thoughtful expression, he held his thumb and forefinger a tiny distance apart.
“It’s this bad a thing. …But what would you do if you quit?”
“I haven’t made up my mind yet, so I can’t really say.”
“Then why are you here? We aren’t planting the rice until three days from now.”
“If I did that kind of hard work, I wouldn’t be able to move tomorrow. I just wanted to ask a few questions today.”
He then asked what he considered important.
“How did my grandfather face his power? What about his comrades? Do you know? How did they decide whether they should use their power or abandon it?”
“Why do you want to know that?”
“It’s related to my job, so I can’t say. But…it’s what I want to know right now.”
His father’s confused look made him hesitate for a moment, but he still said it.
“I need to decide what I should do about my power.”
“I see. In that case, Aki, I know how you can find out.”
His father gave an understanding nod and reached forward.
Kashima looked at his father’s hand.
After a moment, he gulped.
In his father’s hand before his eyes was a drawn Japanese sword.
“It’s simple, Aki. If your thoughts are enough to leave you conflicted and willing to rely on your ancestors, then use them to defeat this powerful right arm and this decoration from the living room. Today is Saturday. Saturday night is a time for fever, right?”
The old man smiled and suddenly swung the sword toward his son.
“You reject it?” repeated Tsukuyomi.
Sayama remained silent and did not even nod.
It was obvious from Shinjou’s face that this was a surprise to her as well.
The way she gasped and looked at him was not an act.
He had some reason for rejecting the request, so Tsukuyomi asked about it.
“Why? Is there something wrong with us wishing for things to remain as they are?”
“There is,” he decisively stated.
He remained expressionless and his voice contained no emotion.
“First, I would like to hear what you have to offer us,” he asked quietly.
That is a dangerous question, thought Tsukuyomi.
She chose her words carefully and gave her answer with caution filling her gut.
“Two things. First, we will tell you Yamata’s question and answer. Second, we will release Yamata, and Kashima will answer the question for you.”
“I see,” said Sayama. His voice contained a hint of a smile. “You can only offer us half of that.” He took a breath. “After all, we have already arrived at Yamata’s question and answer on our own. You need not give it to us. If we make the deal now, you will only receive half of the status quo you want. Is that okay with you?”
Hearing that, Tsukuyomi realized something.
…A villain, hm?
It was said the surname Sayama indicated a villain.
Did his surname help him function as a villain in the 2nd-Gear concept space?
That sudden thought led her to an answer which she spoke aloud.
“Are you saying you have no problem with causing waves between us?”
“Do not be so suspicious. I am merely verifying what you have to offer,” said Sayama expressionlessly. “Maintaining the status quo. That is quite a convenient phrase. It makes it sound like most anything can be resolved peacefully. But it is just another way of saying you could not think of anything else.”
“And? What else could we need?”
“If you truly think that, then let me say this: you fool.”
The boy’s final word caused Tsukuyomi to frown.
“Let me say it again: you fool. And let me say it a third time: you fool. If you have not realized-…”
“Stop this,” said Tsukuyomi while realizing how dangerous the annoyance she was feeling was. “Do you think you can provoke us into being enemies by repeatedly calling us fools?”
“This is why I am calling you a fool, Director Tsukuyomi. Are you going to give any thought to what exactly is making me call you a fool?” Sayama looked to the ground with a bitter smile. “Let me ask you this: if you truly wish to maintain the status quo, why is one of your people conflicted over his own power?”
Tsukuyomi recalled a certain man. He was the conflicted one Sayama referred to.
…That is the man I chose to be 2nd-Gear’s representative.
Sayama seemed to realize what she was thinking and he asked another question.
“You are willing to cast aside those like him and continue to seek the status quo. Could you not judge that as foolish?”
I see, she thought in silent comprehension. He did his research and gave it proper thought.
2nd-Gear’s problem was not a simple one.
If they had adapted to Low-Gear and lost their individuality, they would have no choice but to fit in.
But even though they had intended to lose their individuality, their power remained.
When those of 2nd-Gear learned of their Gear and came into contact with their concepts, they learned of the power held within their names. They learned they were different from the people of Low-Gear.
That provided an elated feeling similar to superiority, but it also brought avoidance and melancholy.
That was the problem Kashima faced and he was not the only one with that problem. A lot of those in the development department and those who had become more naturalized held the same problem.
“That will trouble my generation and the generation directly below us, but that will not last forever. Our children will be told nothing. They will blend into this Gear and know nothing of their ancestors. Our troubles are like a sacrifice to move from the old age to the new one. Isn’t that right?”
Tsukuyomi smiled bitterly and thought about Sayama once more.
His method was to ignore the poor reputation it would give him and forcefully attack her weaknesses.
But, thought Tsukuyomi. He does not need to do that. These troubles have plagued us for the sixty years since the war.
And yet every one of them would agree to accept the status quo.
There was no point in making waves now.
She faced Sayama while thinking about her own daughter, about Kashima’s family, and about the families of the others she knew.
“I appreciate your consideration, but we must maintain the status quo. Without it, our descendants cannot live here in Low-Gear without the same troubles we carry. We will hide our power, hide our troubles, and blend into Low-Gear. And if you insist on forcing us to change…”
“What will you do then?”
She looked at that boy’s expressionless face and thought to herself.
…Is he more naïve than I thought?
He had previously verified what she had to offer and reduced her bargaining chips by half. But…
“Then I will bring out a hidden bargaining chip I was holding in reserve. That brings it back up to two. We won’t have to accept only half of the status quo.”
Sayama listened to her expressionlessly, but Shinjou drew back in surprise next to him.
Seeing that, Tsukuyomi spoke to her instead of him.
She stated the bargaining chip she had held in reserve.
“If you refuse to maintain the status quo, 2nd-Gear will refuse to cooperate with UCAT in the slightest. Depending on the situation, we might even sell our skills and services to an opposing organization. …In case you didn’t know, there really are organizations that oppose UCAT.”
“Japanese UCAT wouldn’t be able to function if you did that!”
They would be unable to produce, develop, or maintain any of their equipment, and information on their equipment could be leaked to enemies.
They would lose the materials and equipment they needed to function as an organization.
As Shinjou wondered what they could do, Tsukuyomi formed a troubled expression.
“Don’t take this as a threat, okay? It’s an issue of labor and compensation for that labor. UCAT pays us for our work, but we need social compensation as well.”
Tsukuyomi pointed at Sayama with a smile on her face.
“He is refusing to continue providing that social compensation, so we will refuse to continue providing you with our labor. And we will not accept money or land in its place. The only thing we want is the status quo. …He is the one who broke the rules first, so if you are going to blame anyone, blame him and his enjoyment of being a villain.”
Despite all this, Sayama remained silent.
Not even Shinjou could read any emotion on his face.
Will this be okay? wondered Shinjou.
But she quickly changed what she was thinking.
…I’ll trust him. I know he can pull this off somehow.
She stared at the side of his face as she thought.
A certain action occurred in the yard of the Kashima family house.
A father and son were running around.
Kashima was trying to evade his father in his father’s yard.
“W-wait, dad! Why so eccentric all of a sudden!?”
“Eccentric!? Don’t use those weird foreign words around me!”
His father swung the sword down from above, so Kashima moved aside.
He evaded it, but his movements were dull.
…Of course they are!
His lifestyle did not involve much exercise. He was already breathing heavily due to the tension of the situation.
But his father was different.
“Don’t dodge out of the way. Why don’t you stop your father’s attack which has been strengthened by long years of farming?”
“The instant I do that, you’ll tear into my flesh like you’re cultivating the land! …Wah!”
The older man swung the sword horizontally as if cutting down some grass.
Kashima crouched down and leaped backwards as far as he could.
He then recalled that he was a military god.
“Wait! You can’t hurt me with a blade!”
Just as Natsu was protected, he himself could not be harmed by lesser blades.
His father’s actions were meaningless. It was nothing but a threat.
“Not so fast, Aki. I helped make this sword.”
“It too bears the name Kashima! It’ll cut through you perfectly fine!”
At the same time, the tip of the sword grazed his body as he bent backwards.
The sword cut through the collar of his work uniform and sent it flying through the air. It also scratched his cheek, producing a shallow wound.
What could he do? This was his father. Would it be acceptable to punch him?
“I-I was a relatively obedient child even during my so-called rebellious phase! So now I can-…”
“You’ll never hit me if you have to make an excuse for it!!”
The sword sliced through the air.
Kashima evaded it while gasping for breath.
His father attacked from the right, right, left, lower middle, and finally above.
As his father held the sword up to swing it down, Kashima turned tail and ran.
“Wait, Aki! I can’t cut you if you run! Your arm! At least give me your arm!”
“I don’t like the sound of that last comment, dad!”
As soon as Kashima shouted that, his feet were scooped out from under him.
His vision quickly fell forward.
He saw a rope which had wrapped around his feet at some point.
Holding the other end of the rope was an old woman in Japanese clothes standing at the edge of the house.
He then fell to the ground completely.
“Mom, you’re on his side!?” he shouted while frantically trying to get up.
But his father approached before he could.
He was holding the sword up to swing it down.
Kashima’s immediate reaction was to kick off one of his sandals.
His sandal landed sideways underneath where his father was placing his foot.
His father stepped on it, lost his balance, and tripped.
As his father fell, Kashima realized a certain fact.
Causing someone to trip as they approached with a sword would only cause them to fall on top of him.
His father collapsed like a felled tree and swung his sword down.
For some reason, he looked a bit happy.
Kashima frantically tried to flee so as not to be crushed by his father.
He tried to crawl forward, but then he heard his father’s voice.
“I’m glad to hear you calling Na-chan’s name, but won’t you be in the same position as her once you lose your right arm and can’t work!?”
His father’s words brought a thought to Kashima’s mind.
This thought caused him to stop moving.
And then his father’s sword struck Kashima’s right shoulder.
Sayama expressionlessly looked toward Tsukuyomi.
He brushed up his hair while Shinjou and Tsukuyomi looked at him.
“You are willing to bring your labor into a negotiation with the fate of the world at stake? You are not going to make this easy, are you?”
“Why do you want to join Low-Gear so much?”
“It would be meaningless for me to answer that. I am the one asking the questions at the moment.”
With a smile, Tsukuyomi stopped him from speaking further.
She pointed down at her feet.
“Answer me this, bearer of the Leviathan Road: What weapons will UCAT have without us? What about armor? Tools? Or any other equipment? If you have no answer, then you have only one option.” She took a breath. “You must support maintaining the status quo for 2nd-Gear.”
Sayama remained perfectly silent.
As he maintained his lack of expression, Shinjou stared at him.
Her expression was tinged with concern, but there was a hint of something else as well.
When Sayama noticed, he asked her about it in a lighthearted tone.
“Shinjou-kun, why do you look relieved?”
“B-because you have some kind of plan, right?”
“Oh?” Sayama tilted his head and spoke with a candid expression. “I have no plan.”
The instant he said that, Shinjou gasped and Tsukuyomi failed to suppress a smile.
Shinjou’s mouth hung open wordlessly and Tsukuyomi’s smile deepened.
“Interesting. They say the surname Sayama indicates a villain, but perhaps you still have a ways to go. It doesn’t seem you’ve become a true villain under 2nd-Gear’s concepts.”
Sayama tilted his head as if wondering what she meant.
“May I say one thing?”
“What is it? Are you going to allow us to maintain the status quo?”
Her question was accompanied by a smile, but Sayama’s response was short.
“Allow me to say it again: you fool.”
“Let me be very clear: your labor will not function as a bargaining chip.”
Sayama partially closed his eyes and opened his mouth.
“That was an interesting argument,” he said with an impressed tone. “The way you talk about 2nd-Gear’s technology…”
“You make it sound like you are the only ones in the world who can develop technology.”
His words fell to the ground with a bitter smile and Tsukuyomi’s body stiffened.
But Sayama did not stop.
“The Germans have their technology known as spells. Perhaps they could reach your level? Also, look at this cell phone I have. Think of the computers we use, the kanji we write with, or the English language. If you want to go back even further, the spread of iron came from the ancient Hittites,” he said. “I do not see a single thing here that was invented by you.”
That comment produced a reaction from Tsukuyomi.
“Then what do you hope to do!? It may be true that we didn’t create every piece of technology in the world, but V-Sw and Ex-St were made by us. Not to mention all the other equipment and weapons you use! What will you do if you lose us!?”
Sayama’s answer was simple.
“We will hire someone else.”
He took a breath.
“That is how labor works.”
He ignored the intensity of her gaze and continued.
“Enough nonsense, Director Tsukuyomi. I hope you see the error of your ways. And let me say this: we can continue on just fine without you.”
“Hah. Don’t get conceited. You think you can use and surpass what we created!? You Japanese created your culture and society by copying 2nd-Gear!”
“Copying? What a wonderful compliment. That means we are able to mass produce.”
“Know this: We are a race who is able to create something new from the copy. Continental Asia? The West? 2nd-Gear? Every culture and society is nothing but a cutting-edge fashion for us. After all, we can steal it for ourselves, imitate it, and bring about a new age. Goodbye old-fashioned original. Hello our new fad. If you don’t like it, add copyright protection into your culture and society. …Then again, we will still break through it.”
Sayama folded his arms before continuing.
“Also, you tried to use your technology as a bargaining chip via your labor, didn’t you?”
“Yes. What about it?”
Sayama nodded and began to speak.
“If you choose to leave, three things will happen. First, your successors will capably continue with your work. Second, you will not be allowed to bring any technology-related data with you. And third.” Sayama smiled. “Everything you have made here is trademarked and copyrighted by Japanese UCAT, so prepare yourself. Wherever you work next, make sure you develop completely new technology from the ground up.”
Tsukuyomi stood motionlessly with nothing to say in response.
Shinjou gulped and looked up at Sayama.
Sayama, however, did not turn toward her.
After a short moment, Sayama asked Tsukuyomi another question.
“Did that wake you up?”
A wind carrying a slight chill blew over the yard of hardened dirt.
Kashima suddenly opened his eyes as he felt that wind.
He found himself crouching down in the yard. And…
“My right arm…”
It was intact. He frantically touched it with his left hand, but his arm was still connected to his shoulder. However…
The blade was definitely located on his shoulder.
The Japanese sword had torn through the right shoulder of his work uniform and the shirt below it. The blade was still touching his skin.
However, it had only left a shallow mark on his skin. It was nothing more than a scratch.
The wound on his shoulder was no worse than the one on his cheek from before.
It was such a shallow wound that he was not even bleeding.
That sword had been forged with the surname Kashima, so why had it stopped at this?
A voice behind him gave him the answer.
“I didn’t go easy on you or lie,” said his father. “You just rank this much higher than me as a military god and a swordsmith.”
Those with the same surname could rank higher or lower than each other depending on their level of training.
That fact and the truth it told him made Kashima stop breathing for a moment.
“Do you get it now, Aki?”
“What you learned from my father and your training at UCAT have made you better than me. You may be denying your name as a military god, but that name will never leave you. Names don’t go away just because you deny them.”
That power was not something he could let go of. It would only grow greater the more he reached for it.
…Once I wield that power, can it never be lost or reduced again?
No matter what life he hoped for, he would never lose that power.
That was the truth.
“Then will I always be like this?” he muttered.
He received an answer almost immediately.
“There is a way.”
He turned around and looked up to find his father looking down at him.
His father nodded once and spoke.
“Give your name a different meaning.”
“A different meaning?”
His father pulled back the sword while it was still on his shoulder.
However, it did not slice his flesh. He felt it lightly scrape over his skin, but only his clothing was cut.
“Listen, Aki. Simply denying your name will not deny your power, so you need to give this some thought.”
“Thought about what I want to be with this name?”
“I didn’t say that.” His father’s voice contained a smile. “Only you can give meaning to your name. The name Kashima originally referred to a military god. Its meaning as a swordsmith was added later by our ancestors. In that case, you can-…”
“Can I really do it?”
Kashima slowly stood up and turned around.
His father stood there holding the sword.
He belatedly remembered his father was shorter than him.
He looked his father in the eye and restated his question.
“Can I really give different meaning to my power?”
“How should I know, idiot. It took our ancestors years and years to bring the power of a swordsmith to the name Kashima. It was meant to give us some power to help win the Concept War. I don’t know if you can manage this on your own, but there is one thing I know for sure.” He took a breath. “If you don’t do anything, you’ll never know if you can do it or not.”
“My father and the others had to have been the same when they created Susaou and Totsuka, so if you have a change of heart, look at this.”
His father snapped his fingers on his left hand.
At some point, his mother had moved from the house and next to his father.
She held out a large brown waterproof envelope.
It seemed to contain some kind of document.
Kashima took it and the flexibility of the paper inside told him it contained a bundle of Japanese paper.
His parents nodded when he looked at them, so he opened the envelope and pulled out the paper.
Written on the paper were…
Countless surnames were listed on hundreds of pieces of Japanese paper.
“During the creation of Totsuka, it seems Ooshiro Hiromasa created this from the list of 2nd-Gear names my father gave him. These characters and surnames were used in Totsuka.”
“So this belongs to the man who opposed my grandfather…”
Kashima stared at the envelope.
The past held physical form there. He could hold it in his hands and see it with his eyes.
“If my memory holds, the ‘countless’ names were divided by job, combined together, and therefore compressed into approximately one thousand names. It seems he started creating it on March 10, 1945 and finished in the early morning of the 12th.”
It Kashima’s father was correct, the compressed list of 2nd-Gear names had taken two days to create. Kashima began to speak while wondering if that was possible.
“Why did he do that? I thought he didn’t get along with my grandfather.”
“Idiot. Didn’t I tell you I don’t know? That was enough for me, but it isn’t for you. So take it. If you do decide on something, look at it then,” said his father with a smile. “You’ve been worrying over this for eight years now, right? It’s about time you made up your mind and chose what path you want to head down.”
Three figures stood motionlessly on the field from which Susaou was visible.
Sayama, Shinjou, and Tsukuyomi did not move an inch even as the afternoon wind blew across them.
Tsukuyomi’s head was still raised and Sayama looked directly at her.
The look in his eyes was quiet and admonishing. He spoke with the same tone as was in his eyes.
“Do not bring culture and society into this, Director Tsukuyomi. Those things are only the material from which the world is made and the person who bears them is always changing. They are of no use in a negotiation for peace.”
Those words finally produced a movement.
Tsukuyomi embraced her own body and appeared defensive.
“What do you mean by that?” She continued her words of protest. “Are you saying it’s wrong of us to wish our descendants to have peace just because we have nothing but technology? Do you think you’re some kind of god?”
In response, Sayama smiled once and held a black binder to his chest.
“Yes. Unfortunately, I am in a very good mood today, so I feel even greater than a god. And so let me say this: it is natural.” He took a breath. “Listen, Director Tsukuyomi. Peace is not something you wish for. It is something natural that should be there. You must not work for it or wish for it. You claim this is for your descendants, but what excuse will you make for them when you force misfortune onto them?”
“You say it should be there, but it is not. That is why-…”
Someone other than Sayama suddenly cut her off.
“What do you mean it isn’t there?”
It was Shinjou.
“U-um, Director Tsukuyomi. You said you wanted to maintain the status quo, right? But now you’re saying you don’t have peace. In that case…”
Shinjou’s question trailed off and disappeared, but Tsukuyomi’s shoulders still trembled.
Sayama then nodded toward no one in particular as if to say “Do you get it now?”
“Yes. You do not have what is natural and you do not even know how to work toward regaining it. That is why you must ‘wish’ for it, correct? You understand nothing, but you want to keep everything as it is in the hope that the problem will resolve itself with enough time.”
“That will change nothing. Even if you seal off all information, someone will eventually learn of the past and worry over the same things you are now. And that is not all.”
Sayama looked up into the sky. He then looked across the forest in three directions and finally looked up at Susaou in front of them.
“I am here for the Leviathan Road. What exactly do you think the ‘status quo’ is to me? Did you ever stop to think about that, Director Tsukuyomi?”
Tsukuyomi was unable to answer, so Sayama continued.
“Once the Leviathan Road is over, the concepts of every other Gear will be released to counteract the negative concepts of this Gear. I do not know what will happen then, so I cannot say if the world will remain as it is.”
…I do not know if the status quo can be maintained.
With that thought in mind, another thought floated up in Sayama’s chest.
It was an announcement he had carved into his heart.
“I want to face every Gear. I want to face everything. And that includes what comes after the Leviathan Road. That is what I mean when I say I reject 2nd-Gear’s demand to maintain the status quo. You need to be able to handle any future that may arrive. And that includes the possibility of this Gear being destroyed after the Leviathan Road ends.”
A slight smile was enough of a response.
“Does it really surprise you? If the Leviathan Road fails, Low-Gear will be destroyed. However, it is possible some people will survive that destruction. If that happens, will you still wish for the status quo?”
“How about it? Will you be reconsidering your stance on the status quo?”
With that question, Sayama held out his left hand.
Tsukuyomi took several seconds to realize what this meant.
She averted her gaze and let out a bitter laugh.
“So Team Leviathan does not want 2nd-Gear to ally with you so easily, is that it?”
“It is not that we want this to be difficult. What we need is a resolution that leaves no grudges or regrets behind.”
Tsukuyomi gave another bitter laugh.
“Why are you holding your hand out to an old woman like me?”
Despite what she said, she obediently reached out her own slender hand.
As well as the other hand.
Sayama exchanged a glance with Shinjou, but quickly gave a bitter smile.
Sayama held out his left hand, so Shinjou held out her right hand and they both took one of Tsukuyomi’s hands.
Despite being the one to initiate this, Tsukuyomi gave an awkward smile.
After a few seconds, she let out an exhausted sigh, let go of their hands, and spoke.
“But whatever happens, it’s Kashima’s decision. Wait just a bit longer for your answer.”
“I hope he is the sort of man you think he is.”
Hearing that, Tsukuyomi relaxed her shoulders and sighed again.
“You may be Kashima’s version of Ooshiro Hiromasa.”
“The old man’s father who could not prevent 2nd-Gear’s destruction?”
“You seem to know a little about him. When our ancestors evacuated to Low-Gear, Kashima supposedly said this to Ooshiro Hiromasa: You did not intend to truly face 2nd-Gear’s destruction.”
Tsukuyomi stared overhead once more.
She stared at the 500 meter humanoid machine with the bridge in the head destroyed.
“Construction of Susaou began on March 12, 1945.”
“Does that remind you of something?”
“Yes. When I saw that date in the cafeteria yesterday, it reminded me of a certain incident. It is likely related to what you just said. The incident which drove Ooshiro Hiromasa to face that destruction occurred from March 9 to 10 of ’45.”
“And that is…?”
“I plan to do some research into it as a step toward facing your Gear.”
Sayama smiled and Tsukuyomi smiled back.
He seems very different from just a moment ago, thought Tsukuyomi. The surname Sayama indicates a villain, hm?
That last thought urged her to provide further information.
“Susaou was completed August 1, 1946. The final result came two weeks later. No one knows what exactly happened up there and Kashima once pursued that question. He wanted to know why his grandfather and Ooshiro Hiromasa worked so desperately toward the same goal despite disliking each other. He wanted to know what his grandfather had been thinking.”
“It is worth looking into for both us and him. We must know each other if we are to fix the discord between Low-Gear and 2nd-Gear that began sixty years ago.”
“Yes.” Tsukuyomi nodded and put a hand in her lab coat pocket. “Kashima gave me this floppy. It contains the list of 2nd-Gear names that his grandfather provided Ooshiro Hiromasa. It also contains Yamata’s question.”
“Testament. I will gladly accept that.”
“But you have at least vaguely grasped what Yamata’s question is, haven’t you?”
“Testament. I believe I know what it is: what is Yamata’s name?”
Tsukuyomi did not respond, but she did smile.
Sayama reached out and took the disk.
“When Ooshiro Hiromasa found the answer, he used this list as a hint, didn’t he?”
“It seems so. The next time we gather, you will need your answer. Kashima will likely provide our stance before long. We will use his decision to decide on the date for the Leviathan Road.”
“Very well then.”
Tsukuyomi placed her hands on her hips and nodded.
The afternoon sun began to pass behind some clouds in the sky.
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