Owari no Chronicle:Volume4 Chapter 18
Chapter 18: Demand for Pain
Will you bring yourself pain by seeking that which once caused you pain?
And what will you do about that which you once sought?
The curtain of night fell over the mountains of Okutama.
Beyond the UCAT facility was a world different from reality.
It was the 1st-Gear reservation. A space with a one kilometer radius was normally filled with greenery, but it could not be seen in the night.
Light spilled from the windows of the houses and temporary residences in the space and smoke rose from the chimneys on the roofs.
But one stone house in the center was a bit different.
It had no front wall. It appeared to have originally had one, but it had been destroyed.
Light filled the inside of that broken house.
Two people could be seen within: a half-dragon covered in a black shell and an old man wearing a lab coat.
They sat opposite each other on bamboo benches placed on the dirt floor.
Between them was a Go board covered in black and white Go pieces.
The half-dragon puffed out his chest and folded his arms while the old man leaned forward and stared at the game board.
The old man then placed a hand on his chin and spoke.
“Fasolt, I would be unbeatable if we were playing gunjin shogi.”
“When we did that, you dropped the landmine piece and it exploded, Ooshiro Kazuo.”
“Yeah, that caused a lot of damage. To me.”
Ooshiro sighed and Fasolt tilted his head.
“I hear the Leviathan Road with 2nd-Gear was progressing well.”
“Y-you really like to get to the heart of the issue right away, don’t you?”
“If a storyteller tells his story in a roundabout way, the truth will escape, Ooshiro Kazuo. That Sayama Mikoto and Shinjou are working on it, aren’t they?”
“Shinjou-kun is the problem. You know about her lie, right?”
“I see,” said Fasolt. “So she is thinking about revealing her lie to Sayama Mikoto?”
“How did you know?”
“It is the proper path for a story, Ooshiro Kazuo. A princess always possesses a secret.”
“A princess? When did you start talking about fairy tales, Fasolt?”
Fasolt ignored that comment.
“Your father was involved in the destruction of 2nd-Gear and you cannot give them very much information, so you cannot get too involved with their issues here. Is that it?”
“Fasolt, you’re great at summing things up.” Ooshiro set down a Go piece. “But I also feel like I’m losing my nerve when it comes to my father.”
“That proves you are young. Once you reach my age, you almost never hesitate.”
“Really. The other day, Fafner made some unnecessary comments about his pulp production job, so I did not hesitate to deck him. That wall there was a victim of our little family battle. It makes me think hesitation might be a good thing.”
Ooshiro turned toward the destroyed front wall of the house.
“I see you are living a fulfilling life. …So how is Fafner?”
“He is performing the ceremony of repentance.”
“The ceremony of repentance?”
“I tie a rope to him and hang him upside down off of the cliff out back for three days. That should get him to repent, but if he doesn’t, I just have to swing him around real good and let him hang for another three days.”
“That isn’t repentance! That’s forced mind alteration!”
Fasolt naturally ignored that comment and set down a Go piece.
“At any rate, the young have plenty of energy and a healthy amount of hesitation. 2nd-Gear has no long-lived types, so the young can hesitate and find their own answer while young.” He let out a deep laugh. “But as a member of 1st-Gear, something else is bothering me. I heard an older group is on the move. German UCAT’s strongest witch is here, isn’t she?”
“You mean Diana-kun? As you know, she is Siegfried’s niece, but…”
“I have heard the rumors, but I never thought that man’s niece would help out 1st-Gear.”
“We live in a different age now. Anyway, it seems Diana-kun is interested in Team Leviathan.”
“She knows about UCAT’s blank period. That should tell you all you need to know, right? Someone who knows a part of UCAT’s past not even you know has returned to check on the Leviathan Road.”
“I do not know what she has been thinking for the past ten years, so I would like to give her an assistant who can keep an eye on her.”
“In that case, I know the perfect person,” confidently declared Fasolt. “1st-Gear has someone who will not be outdone by a German UCAT witch. Do not hesitate here, Ooshiro Kazuo. This is for the sake of that Sayama Mikoto and Shinjou of Team Leviathan which brought 1st-Gear to your side.”
The design room in UCAT’s second basement was suddenly filled with tension due to a single person.
That person was Kashima.
He was soaking wet. His white work uniform was dark with moisture and his usually orderly hair was dripping water and sticking to his face and neck.
His left arm held a thick waterproof envelope and his right hand was stained almost up the elbow with mud.
However, he did not seem to care. His wet footsteps continued straight forward.
He was headed for the very back of the room. The back wall contained a large projector and a single desk sat in front of it. This open space which was not divided off by a partition belonged to Tsukuyomi.
She had been staring at the photographs taken of Susaou, but she suddenly looked up.
She saw Kashima arrive from the entrance. She watched the source of the room’s tension.
“Have you made up your mind, Kashima?”
She smiled as he approached her without nodding.
He remained silent, but his expression was composed and showed no hesitation or strength.
She nodded inwardly as she watched him. This was a good sign.
Suddenly, a young man stood up from a partition on the right.
The short haired man in a lab coat was an engineer who had only joined three years prior. His name was Mikami.
From what Tsukuyomi could remember, he had a poor impression of Kashima.
Mikami was a pure metal casting and swordsmithing family of 2nd-Gear. Back when the Gear still existed, the Kashima family had overtaken them and they had given up the position of #1 when it came to swords.
That was likely why Mikami was stopping Kashima.
With a single footstep, he quickly moved toward Kashima from the right.
“Manager Kashima, you should not carelessly enter the design room while soaking wet. We deal with fire and forging metal in this department, so-…”
He trailed off because of the look in Kashima’s eyes.
Kashima did nothing but look at Mikami.
Nevertheless, Mikami lowered his hands and backed away.
No one laughed at Mikami’s decision.
Silence fell once more, the tension grew, and Kashima continued toward Tsukuyomi.
His eyes held no strength, but they had not lost their strength either.
“Why are you here?” asked Tsukuyomi.
“The Leviathan Road between 2nd-Gear and Low-Gear will take place at this time in two days.”
“How will it be carried out?”
As soon as she asked, the door to the design room opened and a song entered.
“Iiii am as strong as Ebolaaaa! Eeeeven if you bow down before me, you’ll shit out your large intestiiiine!”
All the others ducked back into their partitions out of fear. Atsuta had arrived.
Tsukuyomi saw Kashima fall silent and put on a grim expression.
“You sure are in a good mood, Atsuta. Why are you here?”
“Wait, why’re you here? I thought you quit and went home to grope your wife’s tits?”
Kashima gave an exasperated look and sighed as Atsuta walked up next to him.
He glanced over at Tsukuyomi and then back at Atsuta.
“You know, the work day isn’t over yet. Also, that was sexual harassment against my wife. Why are you here?”
“I have a good reason, but I’m not going to tell someone who keeps saying he’s gonna quit. Keh.”
“I am not quitting, so tell me.”
“Are you messing with me? Try begging me to tell you.”
“Fine, fine. I beg you. Please tell me.”
“I’m not gonna tell someone with no pride!”
“I really don’t understand you. You haven’t impressed me this much in a while.”
“Is that so?” Atsuta nodded. “Well, whatever. I feel better now, so I’ll give you a small blessing and tell you: it’s the Leviathan Road.”
Everyone peering out from their partitions frowned at that last term.
Everyone wondered what he was thinking and Kashima spoke on their behalf while scratching at his head.
“Oh, that’s right. Back in the cafeteria, you said something about sticking with the Leviathan Road because of some girl you’ve fallen for.”
“Well, there’s that too. But in all my wisdom, I had a thought.” Oblivious to everyone staring at him, Atsuta continued speaking. “Even if we’ve adapted to Low-Gear, why do we have to give our world’s Concept Core to Team Leviathan so easily? Are we stronger than Low-Gear, are they stronger than us, or are we even? How can we hand over the Concept Core without knowing that?” He took a breath and gave a satisfied expression. “I won’t accept it unless we settle that. And that goes for both the Concept Core and the girl I mentioned.”
The first one to react was Kashima. He nodded.
“Director Tsukuyomi, this animal has given a surprisingly sound opinion to rationalize his personal grudge.”
“D-damn you, Kashima! How can you say that about the brilliant opinion I just thought up in the bathroom!?”
“Quiet down,” said Tsukuyomi as she looked behind Atsuta.
All of those poking their heads from the partitions had exasperated looks, but they were staring her way.
All of them seemed to agree with what Atsuta had said.
I see, she thought. So they all had their reservations about this.
“Okay, Atsuta. What do we have to do to convince you?”
“Hm,” he thought. After a moment, he smiled. “How about a fight to the death!?”
“Don’t say that with such a big smile, you idiot. If we kill them, UCAT will do more than just kick us out.”
“Don’t criticize my idea without giving one of your own.” Atsuta clicked his tongue. “Okay. As a compromise, how about a mock battle? We do outdoor training, right? We can do a large-scale version of that against those kids. If they can defeat us, we won’t complain about releasing the concepts.”
“A mock battle?” muttered Tsukuyomi as she looked behind him and Kashima.
The others all looked toward those two but finally turned silently back toward her.
There was strength in their gazes. They had all made up their own minds, but they were leaving the decision up to her.
And so she folded her arms behind her head and spoke.
“That could work.”
“Oh, I actually got through to you!? This is an amazing discovery! Hey, Kashima, look at this! This woman’s so old, but my modern Japanese still got through to her!”
“Director Tsukuyomi, this creature is always rude, but I ask for extra forgiveness this time.”
“He can have it just this once,” she said in annoyance before standing up, looking them in the eye, and nodding. “The place will be Showa Memorial Park’s concept space. The method will be a mock battle. The victor will be decided by which side’s representative takes Totsuka from where it sits on the bridge in Susaou’s head. The reward will be the loser giving in to all of the victor’s demands. …How does that sound?”
“You didn’t even hesitate to say that… You already had this planned, didn’t you?”
Instead of responding, Tsukuyomi merely smiled.
She already understood most of it.
The villain boy she had negotiated against earlier in the day had led her to make up her mind.
…So we are abandoning the status quo where we hope for peace no matter what.
“In that case, we will use this greatest method for winning our acceptance. Well? Any complaints?”
Atsuta shook his head in satisfaction and Kashima scratched at his head.
He looked troubled, but Tsukuyomi did not overlook the amused smile on his face.
“Hmm… Director Tsukuyomi, if you insist on that, I guess I have no complaints.”
“So you’re ready to do this?”
“You intend to repair Futsuno and bring it back as 2nd-Gear’s greatest sword?”
Atsuta gave a look of surprise next to Kashima, but Kashima ignored him and replied.
“W-wait, Kashima. Are you serious? I think you’d be happier groping your wife’s tits.”
“I would. And that is why I made the decision I did: I will make Futsuno and I will grope Natsu-san’s breasts.”
Kashima then thought for a second and tilted his head.
“Huh? That gave my determination a bit of a different nuance. It sounded somehow wild.”
“No one cares, so start getting ready. Make the preparations you need to find all of your answers.”
These two men are no different from children, thought Tsukuyomi with a bitter smile.
She then clapped her hands once toward the people peering out from the partitions.
“Okay, everyone! Go and give offerings to your ancestors and families tonight! Make sure you get a good grasp on your own name! It’s a rainy night, so don’t you think it will make for a sentimental scene?”
As the rain fell in the darkness, a certain train travelled west through Tokyo.
The train had left Shinjuku on the Keio Line and it stopped at every station on its way to Takaosanguchi.
The front-most car held relatively few people. It only contained two people carrying large paper bags.
One was Shino who wore a white T-shirt and a black dress. The other was Mikoku who wore a blue jacket and jeans.
Shino held a single paper bag, but Mikoku carried two larger bags as she sat to Shino’s right. Mikoku also had another bag below her seat and one up in the luggage rack.
Mikoku’s expression was serious as she sat with her back to the rain-covered window. She solemnly opened her mouth.
“Now, then. Our resupply mission was a success.”
“You can’t trick me by acting all serious! You even bought that fluffy pillow! You’re a liar!”
“You are the one who said you wanted it.”
“No, I didn’t. I just said it looked comfy.”
“That is the same thing,” said Mikoku with a smile.
But Shino then saw the smile suddenly leave Mikoku’s face.
Mikoku stared into the rain-filled darkness outside the window and the ends of her eyebrows lowered slightly.
She must have noticed Shino watching her because she asked her a question.
“Did you see that in Shinjuku?”
“Yes. We only passed by, but that was definitely Shinjou.”
Shino recalled how their mouths had hung open and they had nearly started to cry when they passed by that person.
She averted her gaze from Mikoku, held the bag more tightly in her left hand, and touched Mikoku’s arm with her right hand.
“It’s no use… She doesn’t remember us. She didn’t notice us at all.”
“Yes. It is just as we heard. She has no memories of her childhood.”
“How about I speak with her next time. With my power-…”
“No. Using your power could put her on her guard.”
“It’s okay. We will meet Shinjou eventually. I cannot say if that will be as an enemy or as an ally, though. Also, you saw who else was there, didn’t you? That was Sayama Mikoto, my enemy.” Mikoku shook her head a bit and sighed. “It is a difficult issue. Shinjou was crying in her heart. That Sayama may be able to stop those tears and he may not, but either way it will hurt me and make me hate him.”
Sayama returned to his dorm in the rain.
As he walked through the dormitory hallway, his watch read 8:10 PM.
Shinjou always went to take a bath at four or five, he would study after that, and they would eat dinner in the school cafeteria no later than eight.
“I wonder if Shinjou-kun ate on his own.”
Part of the problem was that Shinjou did not own a cell phone.
…But perhaps I should have called the dorm head so I could have a message passed on to him.
He hurried his legs toward his room. He found the door unlocked, so he opened it.
As the door opened smoothly, he saw the other side.
“It is dark?”
Not a single light was on and no one was in the room.
…Where is Shinjou-kun?
Just as he started panicking, Baku suddenly poked out of Sayama’s breast pocket and pointed his head toward the bed.
Wondering what that was about, Sayama looked over and spotted a figure sleeping in the bottom bunk.
It was Shinjou.
Why is he asleep so early? wondered Sayama. Perhaps the stomachache from earlier today came back.
Sayama closed the door and walked over to the window in the dark.
He placed the binder and Baku on his own desk.
As he did, he heard rustling cloth and turned to find a white shirt sitting up in the darkness.
“Sorry. Did I wake you?”
“No. You can turn on the lights.”
“No need,” said Sayama as he crouched down next to the bed.
He found a weak expression there.
As he observed Shinjou’s eyes, he suddenly realized the area around his eyes was a bit red.
…Has he been crying?
But he asked about something else instead.
“Do you need anything? If you need any food, I can bring it to you.”
“No,” said Shinjou again while frowning a bit.
He looked down and lightly held the bottom of his stomach which was hidden by the blanket.
He also continued speaking before Sayama could do anything.
“Don’t worry. It will go away by tomorrow morning. I hope it’s sunny for the All Holiday Festival.”
“Yes, we can enjoy the festival together.”
“Yes…. Um, Sayama-kun?”
“What is it?”
“Did you read the plot I gave you today?”
Sayama was at a loss for words. After being given the plot, he had headed out to work and had only just arrived back.
There was no way he could have read it yet.
…That must be how important it is to him.
His thoughts brought silence. When Shinjou realized what that silence meant, the ends of his eyebrows lowered.
“Sorry. I asked too much of you.”
“Not at all.”
…Saying I was busy sounds like too much of an excuse.
But it was true he could not have taken his time to properly read it. He felt that was important.
“I apologize for now, but if you will allow it, I would like some time.”
“Some time? Why?”
“Yesterday, you said you wanted me to know you.” Sayama directly spoke the words in his heart. “Just as you are trying to convey yourself to me, I want the time and resolution to face you properly.”
“And if you have that, you’ll read it?’
“Yes, I will read it.”
“But I might leave tomorrow.”
Shinjou’s right hand grabbed Sayama’s left sleeve.
He held it, but he quickly let go and slowly pulled his hand back.
He groaned a bit and lightly bent over.
He then relaxed his body and slipped back under the blanket butt-first while continuing to look at Sayama.
Shinjou hid even his head under the blanket and there was nothing Sayama could do.
He considered reading the plot now, but he decided against reading it in this atmosphere.
…That would be rushing things and trying to avoid the issue.
With that thought, he suddenly stopped moving.
He heard Shinjou suppress another groan at the precise moment he felt a pain in his own chest.
Wondering where this pain came from, he suddenly recalled an old memory.
Long ago, he had felt a pain in his stomach during the night.
Everyone experienced that sort of stomachache while a child whose body had yet to fully develop.
It brought definite pain to the one feeling it, but those around them would act as if it was nothing and it would indeed disappear by the next morning.
He thought back to then. His parents had been around back then, but what had they done?
The pain in his chest grew as he tried to think back, but he had to do it.
Shinjou’s groan caused Sayama to quickly place his right hand on the left side of his chest.
There was something he had to do as a villain.
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