Owari no Chronicle:Volume5 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Greeting at the Entrance
A world full of questions lies there
Is that place desired?
Or does it desire?
Even at the beginning of summer, the afternoon mountain wind was chilly.
That pure wind did not shake or bend and it was not a mountain or a river that it washed over.
It covered a high place. Specifically, it covered the rooftop of Japanese UCAT’s transportation administration building which was built in the mountains of Okutama.
Currently, a single figure stood on the edge of the rooftop.
The figure in a black suit paid no heed to the early summer sunlight and let the wind blow through his white hair.
As he looked down through his sunglasses, he saw nothing but a long runway and the road leaving UCAT.
He looked into the distance to the east and he saw nothing on the road next to the runway or the valley road dividing this area from IAI grounds.
After muttering expressionlessly, he heard a female voice from below.
“Oh, dear. Itaru, are you seeing the princess and prince off?”
“Leave, German witch.”
His immediate response was followed by a figure rising from the edge of the roof. She was standing on the outer wall.
The woman wore a black suit as she walked up the wall and then stepped onto the edge of the roof. Her long, soft, and ashen hair blew in the wind.
“Diana, why are you here? And use the emergency exit like a normal person.”
“You seemed to be lost in thought, so I was hiding in case you said something embarrassingly sentimental. If I used the emergency exit, the creaking of the door would have given me away.”
“Oh? And did I say anything strange, newt woman?”
“A gecko would be better luck.”
Diana smiled and lightly spun around on the edge of the roof.
“Itaru, you said quite a lot. Most of which only we know about anymore.”
“Is that so? I don’t recall saying anything.”
“You did not use words, but the voice of your will reached me,” she immediately replied. Her smile deepened and she closed her eyes. “Teasing you like this really takes me back.”
“Forget all about it. And get lost. It would be for your own good, Diana Zonburg.” Itaru sighed. “I alone will carry all of that hopelessly pathetic, hopelessly drunk, hopelessly broken, and hopelessly dense time. You only need to feign ignorance. If you do, it will all end without anyone knowing anything.”
“So you are going to greedily keep it all to yourself? Is that because you watched it all from the sidelines without being one of the Five Great Peaks? And…because you cried and shouted out back then?”
As soon as she said that, Itaru suddenly swung his right arm horizontally.
That arm held his metal cane and it flew toward Diana’s legs.
But she evaded the strike. She lightly swung her body away from the rooftop.
And she took a step.
That was all it took for her to move off the rooftop and set foot on the building’s outer wall.
She fell horizontal to the ground for an instant and then swung her body back toward the edge of the rooftop.
And when the cement floor of the rooftop came into view once more, Itaru had collapsed onto it.
“Oh, dear.” She lightly crossed her arms and smiled. “Of course you will fall if you swing your cane. I won’t help you up, by the way. I would be too embarrassed if you saw up my skirt from below.”
“If so, German UCAT must have a philosopher’s stone treatment to prevent the aging of one’s shame as well. At any rate, get lost. My stamina is already used up for the day. I’ve had to deal with too much worthless crap and worthless people.”
“If they are so worthless, why were you seeing them off?”
Diana pulled a handkerchief from her pocket.
She spread the thin cloth decorated with a brown pattern and pushed it down with a finger. Despite the blowing wind, the cloth fell straight down without wavering and landed on the edge of the roof.
She then lightly sat on top of the handkerchief and crossed her legs.
“Well, I do understand why you would be worried about them.”
“Hah. You make it sound like anyone else in the world thinks the same way you do.”
“Is that so strange? For example, I find this wind to be chilly and the past to be nostalgic.”
“Oh? Well, I find this wind to be annoying and the past to be unpleasant.”
“That is the same thing.”
“They provide us with emotions.”
Itaru fell silent and Diana sighed. Bitterness entered her smile.
“You really are fun to tease.”
At that point, the emergency exit onto the roof opened and a small figure exited.
It was Sf.
Sf jogged toward Itaru through the wind and bowed toward Diana.
“Thank you for your unneeded and unnecessary consideration concerning Itaru-sama’s movement.”
“That isn’t what I was doing. I just wanted to have some fun with him.”
“Tes. Then I retract my previous statement and my thanks.”
Diana glared at Itaru and he stood up.
“Wouldn’t that be your doing, German?”
“Are you still making excuses?”
Itaru ignored her and stood up without Sf’s help. He supported his unsteady body with the metal cane and Sf held his right side to help him. Sf then turned toward Diana again.
“Were you assisting Itaru-sama in my absence?”
“No, of course not.”
“Tes. I have determined that was an excellent decision. Only I, German UCAT-made Sf, am permitted to assist him. If someone else were to do so, I would be forced to repay them by assisting them in some way.”
“Oh, I just remembered. I think I did indeed assist him in quite a few ways just now.”
“Tes.” Sf nodded. “Then I shall bring you dinner to repay you. Today’s menu is flavorless miso ramen and soft crackers.”
“I do not need that dinner. …Itaru, why are you looking at me with such pity?”
Sf tilted her head, looked at Diana, and then at Itaru.
“Sayama-sama, Shinjou-sama, and Director Tsukuyomi, left for the Kanda laboratory just now.”
“Do you want to go? That place holds a connection to 3rd-Gear and what we could call your relatives are there.”
“No, I only belong to you, Itaru-sama. I do not view myself as having any family. Also, I believe 3rd-Gear was the world of gods of war in addition to automatons.”
Sf’s knowledge caused Diana to clap her hands with a delighted smile.
“Well done. I see you have been learning.”
“Tes. Thank you very much. As the prided machine of German UCAT, I will not forget any praise, so do not worry. I will automatically reject any complaints, though. But…”
“Your comments seem a bit disjointed. Anyway, but what?”
Sf tilted her head again.
“Tes. In all the mentions of 3rd-Gear I can remember, the discussion was about gods of war or automatons. But what about the humans? I am an automaton. I was created by people. The same goes for gods of war. They are created by people. Then where are the people of 3rd-Gear?”
Diana narrowed her eyes, rested her chin on the arm placed on her crossed leg, and looked to Itaru.
“This perception is our doing.”
“No, this comes from Japanese UCAT’s Japanese language formatting.”
“Tes. Let us settle this fairly with rock-paper-scissors. Start with rock… Why did both of you start with paper?”
As Sf watched them, the man and woman both sighed.
As their sighs ended, Itaru spoke to Sf.
“There are many different issues in the world, Sf. In a way, 3rd-Gear might be where the advancement of the modern world will lead us.”
“The advancement of the modern world?”
“You will find out soon enough. The group at Kanda will tell you that we are all powerless here.”
Itaru struck the concrete roof with the tip of his metal cane.
“And then you will understand why 3rd-Gear was destroyed so quickly.”
An elevated roadway ran east to west through the center of Tokyo.
That central expressway was a long stretch of asphalt with a total of four lanes.
That large road had been constructed after the war and both cars and motorcycles travelled along it at all times.
An elevated portion just inside the city center was named Expressway #4. Below the early afternoon sun, eastbound vehicles travelled along that expressway, passed through several green or underground areas in Shinjuku, and joined the Inner Circular Route in Chiyoda.
After travelling northward on the Inner Circular Route, the vehicles quickly moved underground. Once they came back aboveground, they were north of the Imperial Palace. Travelling east between the palace and Budokan, they reached a land known as Kanda.
The vehicles exited from the expressway and entered the streets of Kanda. One of those vehicles was especially large.
It was a yellow truck. The cargo container was sealed and had a pallet at the bottom. Overall, it looked more like a crawler than a cargo truck. The side of the truck contained the IAI emblem.
The front of the truck seated four and Tsukuyomi sat in the driver’s seat.
She used the rearview mirror to look at Sayama and Shinjou in the back seat. Sayama had changed into a gray suit he had left at UCAT and she looked him in the eye.
“Now, how was that drive? I told you there wouldn’t be any problems.”
“I believe there was a bit of a problem, but it was good enough. What was that black foreign car that tried to forcibly pass us earlier?”
“I don’t know. It seemed dangerous, so I lightly knocked them away.”
With that nonchalant comment, Tsukuyomi shifted gears. After doing it wrong about three times, she smiled bitterly.
“Well, it couldn’t have been that bad a drive. Your neighbor there hasn’t moved an inch.”
“Is that so?”
Sayama turned toward Shinjou to his left.
She had not left a change of clothes at UCAT, so she wore the school’s summer uniform below her seatbelt.
A black binder sat next to her and she was facing straight forward with a blank expression.
She was perfectly silent and she shook limply with the shaking of the truck. The way her head bounced around, it looked like her neck had broken.
She had passed out.
“Sh-Shinjou-kun, wake up.”
Even when Sayama grabbed her shoulders and shook her, she gave no response. A look of sudden realization filled Sayama’s face.
“This is not good. I must perform CPR!”
“I think you just skipped at least three steps.”
He ignored the old woman and began unbuttoning Shinjou’s shirt. It was only then that she opened her eyes with a sleepy look.
“Oh, Sayama-kun. Good morn-… What are you doing!? I’m Setsu right now!”
“Why would that matter? Whether Setsu-kun or Sadame-kun, I must perform CPR. And both bodies are equally gropable. …But I suppose these pads are indeed in the way.”
“Ahh… I have no idea where to even start with this.”
“Then I will not hold back.”
“Wait!” shouted Shinjou just as the truck took a right turn.
Tsukuyomi sharply turned the steering wheel, the six wheels on the bottom of the tractor unit performed their turning action, and a curving trajectory similar to a pivot was created.
An external speaker played a right turn warning in a synthetic female voice.
“Turning to the right. Hard to the right.”
Next, the large truck actually turned.
“Ah,” said Shinjou as everything outside the thick back window began to rotate.
The sealed pallet of the connected cargo container became visible as a shadow.
…What are we going to carry in that huge space?
The fact that it was sealed led Sayama to a certain conclusion which he voiced while placing his head on Shinjou’s lap.
“A god of war? Is that what we are retrieving in addition to the examination device?”
“That is correct, you perverted lady killer.”
Once the turn was completed, the sky outside the window stopped moving and a further question arrived.
“You heard that my daughter was abducted, didn’t you? I hear you were at the scene last night.”
“The pilots of the remaining god of war were a student at our school and an automaton. Who were they fighting? We are guessing it was 3rd-Gear’s Typhon.”
“The development department suspects the same. We received a request just before you left last night. We were asked to analyze the string vibration patterns of two large philosopher’s stone readings that were flying westward.” She took a breath. “We detected the concepts for metal and inertial control, the same as the automatons in UCAT. Did you know that the Kanda laboratory we’re headed to has some refugees from 3rd?”
“Refugees? Are they automatons?” asked Shinjou.
“Yes.” Tsukuyomi nodded. “They do not say much, but they have made a few things clear. When 3rd-Gear was destroyed, most of the gates were unstable and a lot of automatons fled to this world. Also, the automatons that fell into this world were ‘found’ in various places. However, they were only made to function in 3rd-Gear, so UCAT wasn’t able to activate them until the concept activation ten years ago.”
Tsukuyomi continued speaking while looking at them through the rearview mirror.
“All 3rd-Gear automatons have at least two abilities: powerful gravitational control to assist their movements and wirelessly shared thoughts with identical types. Due to the latter, the automatons under UCAT protection know that another 3rd-Gear force exists somewhere in Japan. They cannot communicate because they are separated by a concept space, but they can still feel their presence.”
“Then why did they join us? Wouldn’t they want to rescue the others?”
It was Sayama who answered Shinjou’s question.
“They may have feared being taken as hostages against 3rd’s main force. If they are viewed as an enemy, 3rd can act without concern for them. Am I wrong, Director Tsukuyomi?”
“No. That’s the rumor. It sounds like the thought process of a combat-oriented Gear’s automatons, doesn’t it?”
“But does that mean we are assuming we will fight them with no hope for negotiation?”
“Presumably, the automatons do not know the whole truth. However, the main 3rd-Gear force they know of was not a group that would surrender just because their world had been destroyed. My guess is that these automatons have carved that into their memories.”
Tsukuyomi nodded toward Sayama who lay in Shinjou’s lap.
After seeing that nod, he continued.
“Low-Gear’s concept spaces were poorly made, so these automatons could not move properly until ten years ago, but what about 3rd-Gear’s main force? If they can use Typhon to create a concept space, it means they have been active since sixty years ago and yet hiding the entire time.”
Sayama looked down from the rearview mirror and saw a white building through the large windshield. A closed metal gate separated them from the hospital-like building.
“That is the Kanda laboratory. Our department has been helping with its security recently. But, Sayama Mikoto, do you object to being called here today?”
“I do. I intended to meet with the pilot of that god of war today.”
“Well, I’ll handle the Georgius stuff, so you can spend your time getting as much information from the automatons as you can. Just like you did with us.”
“I see. It would seem non-humans are becoming my specialty.”
“Are you calling us inhuman?”
“Could you not say that a woman who has carried a human and given birth to them goes beyond the realm of humanity?”
That question brought a few seconds of silence.
Amid the silence, Sayama felt a small tap at his shoulder.
It was Shinjou. He could see her looking down at him with flushed cheeks.
“Um, Sayama-kun? That question reminded me.” She spoke quietly with the ends of her eyebrows lowered. “Do you think I will be able to do that with this body?”
Sayama directly answered her hesitant question while resting his head on her lap.
Shinjou narrowed her eyes.
“I hope so.”
“Do not worry. You definitely will.”
“Really. After all, I will do my part to help.”
“O-okay, but you could maybe word that differently…”
She drew back her head in order to hide her blushing face.
“Thank you,” she said even more quietly. “I’ll do some more research into that kind of thing. …And I’ll discuss it with you again.”
“Yes. Let us work hard.”
“Work hard? …I think we’re talking about different things.”
“Not at all,” said Sayama. “If we work hard, not only can we surpass humanity, but we can surpass godhood as well.”
“Eh? Ah, w-wait! You suddenly went way above what I was talking about!”
Sayama frowned at her panicked shout.
“What is it, Shinjou-kun? I was trying to put together a precise plan.”
“Don’t mention what that plan entails!!”
Just as she shouted, Sayama heard something else.
—Metal is not dead.
Those sudden words made him sit up.
“I’m glad to see you’re quick to switch gears,” said Tsukuyomi. “And it looks like they’ve sent out someone to greet us.”
The truck gradually slowed down.
As it shook from momentum and Shinjou let out a sigh of relief, Sayama turned toward the driver’s seat.
The white building was still visible through the windshield.
But three things were different from before.
“There’s something odd about this.”
First, the metal gate was sitting wide open.
Second, several dozen figures wearing maid uniforms were lined up in waiting before the gate.
And third, a giant green armored warrior stood behind them. It was a god of war.
One of the maids stepped forward.
She had red hair.
The truck stopped fifteen meters in front of her.
The red-haired maid suddenly reached a hand toward her collar.
And she opened the collar to show her neck.
But the bones and flesh of a neck were not there.
It was a mechanical connector.
Two sockets were connected vertically and wires connected the collarbone to the head. Shinjou gasped when she saw it.
The red-haired automaton looked toward them.
Her orange eyes looked sharply up at them.
“Welcome, but please leave.”
She did not shout, but her voice reached the inside of the truck.
The voice seemed to quietly permeate the area as she continued to speak.
“I am sure this is part of a job, but we must make an exception when a relative of Sayama’s is involved. As an automaton of 3rd-Gear, I have a request for this relative of Sayama’s. There is someone here who you must not be allowed to meet. As such, please leave. If you do not…”
Sayama saw movement.
The giant armored warrior behind the maids took a step forward.
In the concept, its metal body had the litheness and gentleness of living flesh, but it also had great weight.
The one step produced a heavy metallic sound. It then took a second and third step. The fourth step brought the god of war in front of the automatons and next to the red-haired maid.
Its giant legs were spread at shoulder width and its arms were spread lightly to both sides.
It could freely begin battle at any time like that.
However, the red-haired automaton spoke without so much as glancing toward it.
“Please leave. I also ask that you hold no interest in 3rd-Gear. Dealing with 3rd-Gear will sully the Leviathan Road.”
Miyako was brought back to the previous room.
Moira 1st led her by a hand. After a few seconds on an elevator-like device from the side entrance, she was right next to the emergency exit she had fallen from.
What is going on? she wondered.
Moira 1st remained silent and did not rebuke her for what she had done and the other maids were not with them. The lack of defense and the lack of punishment seemed to indicate that they did not view her as an enemy.
…They are saying they will not harm me and so I shouldn’t run away.
Before they entered the previous room, Moira 1st looked over her shoulder.
With a slight smile on her face, she passed through the white knob-less door and entered the room.
“Princess, please come in.”
Miyako placed a hand on the door and asked the maid a question.
“Why are you going in first? What if I suddenly closed the door and ran off?”
“If you are willing to say that, I can assume you will not actually do it.”
“Oh? And what if I do?”
Miyako slammed the door shut.
The slamming noise satisfied her quite a bit.
…What should I do?
Despite her thought, she remained motionless in front of the closed door. If Moira 1st was testing her, she would test Moira 1st. She had no intention of running, but she wanted to see how the maid would react.
Would all of those previous maids arrive? Would Moira 1st pursue her on her own? Either way, they would try to restrain her. Their style of no defense and no punishment would be meaningless once they restrained her. She would have plenty of reason to feel rebellious.
But nothing happened. Moira 1st showed no sign of speaking from the room and there was no sign of the other maids taking action based on the noise of the door.
And so Miyako left the door to continue this test. She intentionally produced footsteps on the red carpet, but there was still no sign of anything from the room or elsewhere.
And so Miyako continued walking. She turned at several corners and reached the previous emergency exit. It had felt like a long run before, but it was surprisingly close by.
The exit was still standing open.
She walked further. The wind and light coming in through the exit were those of summer, but something felt off about the wind.
She thought about what it was.
…There are no smells from the city.
The wind did not contain the slight heat, oppressiveness, or exhaust smell that a city produced.
This place made no sense. When she thought about it, the giant that had lowered her to the ground and the one in the hangar were odd too. If they showed themselves outside the building, someone would notice.
…What is this place?
She looked up and saw Kurashiki through the emergency exit.
…That should be real.
She stepped outside the emergency exit. There were no stairs, but there was the elevator surrounded by a railing.
The rails of the elevator circled around to the side in order to avoid the hangar door below.
The hangar door was closed now and the blue giant was nowhere to be seen. The same went for the white giant.
As she leaned over the railing and looked at the distant city, she suddenly noticed something.
Beyond the twenty meter earth clearing in front of the hangar, a man stood in a forest primarily composed of broadleaf trees.
The young man wore white clothes. His back was turned toward her and his blond hair was even longer than hers. He did not turn toward her and he merely stood in the forest looking into the distance.
“Is he looking at the city?”
Did that young man live here?
When she had tried to escape, she had not seen him in the framed paintings. If those paintings were of the deceased, he might have been the current master.
In that case, she felt she could clear away a lot of the doubt in her heart.
She thought about using the elevator to head down, but she stopped.
There was no movement around her. No one came to pursue her and no one shouted at her.
“Dammit. What are they doing?”
While feeling reluctant to leave the figure standing below, she returned to the hallway. After arriving at the door with long strides, she threw it open.
“What the hell are you doing!? And what is this place!? Who are you people!?”
As she asked those questions, she saw Moira 1st standing before a table in front of the bed. She was transferring dishes over from the stretcher she had brought in. The maid smiled and turned toward her.
“It will take a little longer to prepare, so you can look outside for a little longer if you wish.”
Miyako moved closer to Moira 1st while aware of the harshness on her face.
After approaching so close their foreheads almost collided, she spoke the words she had prepared in her heart.
“Do you never get mad when people act like I do?”
“Have you ever done anything malicious to us, princess?” asked Moira 1st. “Have you ever tried to destroy us?”
“Well…” started Miyako as she recalled her actions.
At the very least, she was honorable enough not to punch someone who had not acted maliciously toward her.
But she still tilted her head.
“ ‘Destroy’ has an unpleasant ring to it. And why is your Japanese that poor? With that and that giant robot down below, there’s something odd about this place.”
“It is not odd because it is all only natural.”
Moira 1st stopped preparing the meal.
She placed a hand on her collar and scarf and removed the scarf from her neck.
“This is a temporary alternate world that exists out of phase with your world. It is known as a concept space. I will explain the details later, but we are the only residents.”
She opened her collar down to the chest, but this did not reveal what one would expect.
The flesh and bones that would form the neck, collarbone, and chest were not there.
Instead, there were rounded white parts connected at the joints like a doll.
“Our bodies are made from a metal and ceramic frame added to flesh that is modelled after a human’s. The joints are made with wires and plastic. We are automatons.”
Moira 1st’s smile deepened and the movement of wires caused her head to tilt above the neck which connected similarly to a light bulb socket.
“Will that be enough for you to believe me, princess?”
- ↑ Geckos are considered lucky because the Japanese word can be written with kanji meaning “house protector”.
|Back to Chapter 3||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 5|