Owari no Chronicle:Volume5 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Nighttime Visitor
That which asks yet provides no answer
Acts for that very reason
The same goes for that which receives no answer yet asks
A large white space measured one hundred meters in each direction. That dining hall had a single table almost as long as the room and it shined brightly under the lights on the ceiling.
Those lights also illuminated a woman in white clothing.
The black-haired woman was Miyako. She sat in a chair with her legs crossed and her arms folded. Her legs were shaking up and down which produced a comment from Moira 3rd who sat on the ground at her feet.
“Are you nervous, princess?”
“These are nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Honestly, don’t you at least have some toothpicks?”
Moira 3rd tilted her head at first but then stood up with a sudden idea.
She ran toward the kitchen and the two automatons standing at its entrance moved out of her way. As Miyako watched, she scratched her head in confusion.
The table in front of her contained the standard fork, spoon, and knife, but it also contained chopsticks and a Chinese spoon for some reason.
A close look showed the Chinese spoon was meant for children and it was printed with pictures of characters from the recently popular children’s anime titled “Manga’s First Armored Infantryman”. Namely, it had the protagonist Second Lieutenant Hayato and the mascot armor Bottom-tan.
Everything’s been mecha recently, thought Miyako. And they probably set this table based on something they saw in a book.
She felt they were trying to be considerate, but she felt something else even more.
…Is the food still not ready?
Just as she was thinking it was taking far too long, Moira 3rd ran out of the kitchen. She held up a small container.
“Princess! Here are the toothpicks you wanted!”
“That’s garlic powder, you idiot! I can’t pretend to smoke that!”
She chopped the girl on her blonde head.
“Nwah! I-I was only a little bit off! Right!?”
“A little bit!? Garlic and toothpick rhyme, but that’s it!”
She was not entirely sure why it mattered if they rhymed, but she swiped the garlic powder and placed it on the table.
“I don’t need to take it back?” asked Moira 3rd with a tilt of the head.
“If you serve anything too bad, I can sprinkle this on to mask the flavor.”
“Wow! Low-Gear culture is amazing!”
“Of course it is!”
But the food was very late. Miyako rested her head on her hand and asked a sudden question.
“By the way, Moira 3rd, am I ever going to see 2nd?”
“Hmm. Our middle sister doesn’t like being around people. She didn’t used to be that way, though.”
Miyako tilted her head and Moira 3rd groaned and tilted her head as well.
There seemed to be a difficult problem.
…I see. I shouldn’t have asked that.
She reached out and rubbed Moira 3rd’s head without even looking toward her.
“Wa ha ha. Lord Cronus would do the same thing.”
“Is that so? …Oh, one other thing. Will your master be eating with us?”
The Moirai’s explanation had ended with Rhea’s child returning to 3rd-Gear and Zeus and Cronus entering the Tartaros.
Rhea had not returned, but Miyako assumed that was due to something they were hesitant to speak of.
She still did not know Rhea’s child’s name. Zeus had not made it public because it was an impure name, but Miyako did not even know if the child was alive or dead.
…This is the kind of suspicion horrible adults tend to have.
But depending how the final battle played out, it was entirely possible that the man named Apollo and Rhea’s child had survived. The figure with long blond hair she had seen may have been one of the two.
“Well?” she asked again.
“He probably will.” Moira 3rd nodded. “Typhon is quiet today too.”
“Typhon? You mean that white robot that grabbed me and carried me away last night?”
“Eh? Oh, yes. We hate it, though.”
“Does your master pilot it?”
“No, no. Lord Apollo is too pathetic for that.”
Miyako’s eyebrows rose when she heard the name.
“Is Apollo here?”
“Eh?” Moira 3rd tilted her head and spoke as if explaining the obvious. “Of course he is. He’s alive. It’s just that he’s so pathetic that he can’t voluntarily fight right now. I guess you could say someone else is piloting Typhon.”
That’s right, mentally agreed Miyako.
She recalled what Moira 1st had said during the kamishibai.
…He had a younger sister who was turned into a god of war after refusing to be sent to the Tartaros.
The pale blue god of war in the kamishibai was likely Apollo’s.
“Is the other pilot Rhea’s child? Or is there someone else?”
“Well…” Moira 3rd sounded troubled. “That isn’t it either. Lady Rhea’s child isn’t here. Our big sister might not have explained it, but a lot happened and so the one piloting Typhon is-…”
“The food is ready!”
When Moira 1st’s dignified voice filled the room, Moira 3rd’s shoulders jumped and she seemed to intentionally not finish her sentence.
…They must have their reasons.
As a guest, Miyako did not want to stick her nose in their business. She smiled bitterly at Moira 3rd who was hiding behind her and she turned toward Moira 1st who quickly pushed in a stretcher.
The stretcher contained a large round metal lid. It had a radius of almost a meter and Moira 1st smiled as she brought it over.
“I apologize for the delay. We made this especially for you, so we went all out and used some ingredients Master Aigaion brought in a hurry.”
“What is it?”
“Can you guess?”
Miyako thought about it. It would be something from their culture, so she would never be able to guess. However, there would likely be some similarities, so she guessed the simplest, largest, and most expensive dish she could think of.
“A 250g steak.”
“Hm, not quite.”
“A fried food combination platter.”
“No, not that either.”
“The tempura B meal.”
“Princess, all of your guesses are very fatty. And what does ‘B meal’ mean?”
She wanted to say it was from her school cafeteria, but she resisted. She wondered what would require such a large lid. A whole roast pig seemed too much.
“Hm… I’m not sure.”
Moira 1st’s smile changed to one of obvious joy and she lifted the metal lid. As a large amount of steam escaped, the dish became visible.
“Tah dah! It’s a crab hot pot!”
“H-how the hell was I supposed to guess that!? Not to mention that it’s summer.”
“Do you not like crab? Master Aigaion’s book said it is a famous Japanese dish.”
“I like crab, but… what happened to Greek mythology? And…”
She started complaining and Moira 1st held out a ladle with holes.
Miyako stood up and took the red handle without thinking. The ladle bowed to her and then straightened its back.
…What a well-mannered ladle.
Suddenly, all the lights but the one above her shut off. A drum roll started somewhere.
“Okay, the princess will now carry out the cutting of the hot pot!”
“S-stop that! I don’t know whose wedding you spied on, but you only do that with wedding cakes! And you can’t cut a hot pot in the first place!”
The lights returned to normal, revealing a disappointed Moira 1st and an automaton holding a drum.
Miyako gave an exasperated sigh.
But then a new figure entered the dining hall. It was a blond man wearing white.
It was Apollo.
He walked through the dining hall while smiling and raising a hand toward the automatons.
His blond hair fluttered around his kindly face.
When she recalled the person she had seen from behind earlier, she knew this was him.
…He looks a lot like the woman in the hallway picture frame.
That woman was likely his sister Artemis.
That sounds like a sad story, she thought. I should stop asking questions.
To change her train of thought, she glanced toward him and whispered in Moira 1st’s ear.
“Will he be able to understand me?”
“If you can understand us, you will be fine. That means the common language concept is functioning.”
I didn’t exactly understand all of that, she muttered in her heart.
Moira 1st may have picked up on how she was feeling because she relaxed her smile and nodded.
“Do not worry. Lord Apollo has been reading and studying the books Master Aigaion brings back. He at least knows the Japanese words that are known around the world: konnichiwa, kore ikura, harakiri, etc.”
“Now you’re disgracing our country!?”
Moira 1st ignored her with a smile.
“At any rate, he is a royal, so he will give the greatest and most polite greeting of your world.”
Miyako froze momentarily when she heard the word “royal”.
But a click of the tongue later, she was back to normal.
She took three breaths. By the time the scent of crab had travelled from her nose to her mouth, Apollo had arrived in front of her.
He was tall. She had always ended up in the back of the class when lined up by height, but he was two levels taller than her. She felt his long blond hair was too old fashioned, but she also felt his slender face was nice.
A sudden question reached her.
…Why do I feel nostalgic?
She tilted her head with the ladle in her right hand.
She noticed the eyes of the young man whose smile could be described as weak or even sickly.
His eyes were the same yellow as the eyes of the white god of war she had seen the night before.
She felt a warm tremble travel up her spine.
She was not sure what to call that trembling that came with a realization.
But she recalled something as her memories of the previous night grew more distinct.
When she had seen the god of war’s eyes, she had felt an indescribable feeling.
What had that been?
And now Apollo’s eyes had the same color.
…Will he give me the same feeling?
But her question was not answered.
While she remained motionless, he closed his eyes and gave a smile with a hint of bitterness.
And he spread his arms.
He bowed elegantly in preparation for his greeting.
“Will you marry me!?”
She reflexively slammed the ladle onto his lowered head.
A dignified metallic noise sounded loudly.
3rd-Gear’s headquarters were wrapped in darkness.
The white-walled building glowed palely in the moonlight and a small figure stood at the bottom of one wall.
That figure was the automaton named Gyes.
The red of her suit sank into darkness under the night sky.
She suddenly looked up toward a light.
Above the giant hangar door behind her, light came from the top level of the four-story residential area.
“How unusual,” she muttered. “That would be the dining hall.”
The Moirai were likely working there for the princess who had been brought in the night before.
She thought she heard a strange metallic noise, but she suspected her hearing devices were malfunctioning because it made no sense for that to come from the dining hall.
Earlier, the princess had been introduced to her, Aigaion, and Cottus in the courtyard.
The Moirai seemed to like this princess. 2nd likely wanted to keep her distance because she had not been at the introduction, but the other maids seemed to have a favorable opinion of her. They liked the commotion surrounding her escape and they liked her attitude.
“She shows no restraint around us.”
She smiled bitterly.
That is a good thing, she determined. If only good things like that could continue.
“As always, she will lose her memories and be returned in about three days, but this was a first. If the situation does not change, we may have to dispose of her while the Moirai are not watching.”
The Moirai would criticize the decision, but letting someone leave with their memories intact was too dangerous. That danger took precedence over criticism from the Moirai. After all, the Hecatoncheires were meant to protect that place.
She then heard a noise. She detected movement in a thicket on the slope about ten degrees left of straight ahead. Her eyes could see in the dark, so she easily detected the person’s silhouette and spoke their name.
“Hajji of the Army?”
“Yes. That’s right. That’s exactly right, Gyes. It’s been much too long.”
The thicket parted and revealed a tall elderly man with brown skin and a white cloth wrapped around his head. He was slender, but his shoulders were plenty broad. A hemp jacket was draped over his right shoulder and his hemp trousers were held up by suspenders.
“I have a lot of information for you today. You want it, don’t you? Surely you do.”
“Of course.” Gyes folded her arms and looked at the old man’s left eye which was covered by a black eyepatch. “Say what you have to say and get lost, former 9th-Gear general. We had wondered what you had been up to ever since 9th-Gear’s destruction, but we did not expect you to wander up five years ago with an organization named the Army.”
“My motives are complex. I suppose that is a subtlety of being human. You have stayed in this area all this time, so you don’t know what happened in this country ten years ago or how things have changed since the destruction of the ten former Gears, do you? Hm?”
“I am not interested in that. It was a single hope that allowed us to remain active for the fifty years after 3rd-Gear’s destruction. The hope of 3rd-Gear’s humans surviving.”
Gyes’s words brought Hajji to a stop. He was three meters from her and he stood as if positioning himself directly below the moonlight.
But his one eye did not look toward Gyes; it looked toward the large hangar door behind her.
“Survival, hm?” He brought a hand to his mouth and held a smile in his eyes. “And that hope was answered when I found this place five years ago, was it not? It was thanks to those materials you hadn’t been able to obtain and the philosopher’s stones I had gathered.”
“Do not hope for anything more in return. Five years ago, we made the promise to repay you for awakening our master and we are not the kind of machine that will break a promise.” Gyes took a breath and glared at Hajji. “If we ever no longer need 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core, we will give you the wreckage of Typhon which uses it as its reactor. Not a surprising request for the Army as you barely have any gods of war.”
“Do you think that will be happening anytime soon? With the defeat of Typhon, for example.”
Gyes suddenly raised a hand.
That right hand was wrapped in light. A ring was embedded at the base of each finger.
She pointed the index finger toward Hajji.
And he turned back and to the right.
A silver arc cut through the darkness as if following his movement.
The sound of slicing air stopped right in front of his face.
The sound came from a long sword. It was at least a meter long and it floated in midair.
Hajji stared at the tip of the blade.
And his expression changed because the sword had cut the string to his eyepatch.
He remained silent as the black eyepatch fell from his face. His expression changed from surprise to a mix between anger and a smile.
And he let out a quick, sharp shout.
It all happened before Gyes’s eyes in an instant.
Hajji’s left hand grabbed the falling eyepatch and his right shot up.
That was enough to smash her sword. But that was not all. Starting from the location of the sword and moving toward her, everything – including the air – was loudly destroyed.
Before she could even finish the word, she chose defense.
She spread both hands and six swords flew from her suit’s long sleeves. The blades were made of soft metal and they bent along with the curved surface of her suit, but she used her gravitational control to condense them into a fixed shape. They all transformed into long, hard swords.
She swung down her arms and the six blades swung down toward the destruction of the air travelling down the center.
A metallic noise rang out.
The six blades were instantly smashed into dust, but she did not care. She was facing the man who had managed the attack power of an entire Gear. The attack was not meant to defeat him; it was meant to buy enough time for her to evade.
“What power is this!?”
She tried to determine the power’s identity.
…Disintegration? No, and it isn’t a concept of destruction either. To eliminate this much…
That was as far as her thoughts got. She realized she would be completely destroyed if she did not evade.
And so she used gravity on her back to forcibly spin herself back and to the right.
Her red heels shot dirt into the air as she fell back. After moving four meters, her back was almost to the white wall, but the warning bells in her head were still ringing.
She jumped to the side.
An instant later, it arrived at the spot she had been in.
The destructive attack sounded like multiple attacks.
The invisible power smashed the air and gouged out a large hole in the wall. In quick succession, it created eighteen sounds and scars as if from driving a stake into the wall. The fragments of the wall turned to dust and nothing remained.
“What was that?”
Gyes remained motionless to the left. The hole in the wall looked like fang marks from a giant beast. It looked like someone had jammed a large, twisted, and dull spear into it.
Gyes turned toward the voice.
Hajji stood in the same position as before, but his left eye was now covered by a shifted portion of the white cloth hiding his hair. He brought a hand to his mouth.
“I came here for business reasons, but I came so very close to losing you. At least until you lose your battle, we are…how should I put it? Business partners, I suppose. Isn’t that right?”
Gyes did not answer and made sure she could still pull three more swords from her suit.
“What was that power? Was it 9th-Gear’s Concept Core?”
“Is that question related to our business?” Despite the question, he had a smile in his eyes. “Well, I can tell you that much for free. This is purely out of kindness, okay? That is not a Concept Core. It is my concept weapon and its true form is not here.”
He removed his hand from his mouth and lightly tapped the eye hidden by the white cloth.
“To state it another way, it is a grudge.”
He smiled bitterly and then hid that smile with his hand once more. But the smile strengthened and he laughed quietly. He bent forward and laughed even more.
“Sorry about that. I really am sorry. Gyes, I have to thank you and not just for being a business partner. That reminded me what has happened since 9th-Gear’s defeat and why I created the Army. You said you do not understand my motives, didn’t you? Well, there is nothing simpler than this.” He straightened up but left the hand at his mouth. “I will destroy the villains. Those villains pretend to merely be playing the villain’s role so they can avoid facing their own evil, but I will destroy them as a failed villain who never succeeded in his past attempts to destroy the other Gears.”
“What a crazy thing to say. And why will you do this? For a personal grudge?”
“No,” declared Hajji. “Didn’t I tell you before? I will hand this Gear over to those who it truly belongs to.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Hajji shook his head without answering.
“If you want to know that, Gyes, you must join the Army.”
“Ha. So it comes back to that? That is impossible and meaningless. All we wish for is a peaceful life. As long as Lord Apollo who we serve is fine, nothing else matters.”
“Oh?” said Hajji. “If you wish for peace, why do you occasionally head out to battle?”
…So they noticed.
Hajji seemed to read her mind.
“Typhon is powered by half of your Concept Core, but only half. It was designed that way, but you hope that adding in the other half would allow Apollo to-…”
Gyes sensed danger in his words. They were inside a concept space, so his words could not escape outside.
…But he is using his ability to leak this information as a threat!
She still had three swords left in her suit. Her decision-making ability told her she had a 100% chance of losing against him, but she could sacrifice herself if she cut off her self-preservation calculations.
Hajji shouted and held forward his right hand. Gyes stopped with her hands reaching for the back of her waist.
As she glared at him, he held forward his left hand as well and lightly waved them.
“Was that a secret? Hm, sorry. I couldn’t help but mention it.”
“Next time, I will take off your head.”
She returned her hands forward and put her self-preservation calculations back in place.
“And you may call it battle, but lately we have been sending out remote-controlled decoys to search for that black god of war. We Hecatoncheires have been doing that without Lord Apollo’s permission. And Typhon acts whether we want it to or not. It seeks the half of the Concept Core it lacks.”
“I see.” Hajji nodded and took a breath. “Then let us get down to business.”
“That lead in was much too long. How can you run an organization like that?”
“I’m good at grabbing people’s attention. It’s the first thirty seconds that really matter. A leader must be a skilled talker. Am I wrong? Hm? And in the ten years since the Army was established, I have gathered the people we need. We will capture UCAT before long.” He smiled bitterly. “Now for why I am here. Typhon flew east yesterday, didn’t it? It could no longer resist not having the rest of the Concept Core, so it flew away from you. And then it was intercepted by-…”
“We know. When Typhon returned, it had been hit by Keravnos. It ran into that black god of war.”
“Yes, and that god of war has met with UCAT.”
Hajji’s eyes narrowed.
“This information is new to you, isn’t it? The organization that contained the one piloting the god of war which destroyed 3rd-Gear has contacted the pilot of the god of war that is currently fighting 3rd-Gear. Also, lights have started appearing in UCAT’s training facility at the Seto Inland Sea. They are preparing for someone to arrive there.”
Gyes bit her lower lip.
…I hope Typhon didn’t leave any traces of its movement last night.
Either way, the black god of war would often attack them. They had been the first to attack, but the other side also seemed to have a reason to fight.
…Especially that black god of war.
With that thought, she nodded.
“You have my thanks.”
But by the time she looked up, Hajji was nowhere to be seen. Unlike with his arrival, he had not even made footsteps.
And then a male voice came from beyond a nearby thicket.
“He got away. And after I resisted watching that night game to keep an eye out.”
The thicket parted and revealed a large man. He wore a mountain vest and work pants and he had a hand towel hanging from his waist that contained a greengrocer’s logo. He clicked his tongue and looked around.
“I wonder if Hanshin won.”
“This world really has changed you. More importantly, what do you think of what Hajji said?”
“When he was dealing with you, he did not even take a step toward me. If he had, I was planning to crush his limbs with god of war level gravitational strength.”
“Don’t be so mad, Aigaion. He may not look it, but he is the general of 9th-Gear. That is a pure combat Gear where everything is known as a holy war and its people have the divine protection of the god of heroes. They destroyed our land by filling their people with the power of god and using them as bombs. This is the man who calmly commanded them.”
Gyes used gravity to draw the three swords at her waist and had them float before her eyes.
“If possible, I wanted to use these to…”
She trailed off. As Aigaion asked her what was the matter, she held the three swords up on her fingertips.
Only the grips of the swords remained. The blades had been made of soft metal, but they had still been smashed to dust.
“Did he guide that previous attack into them?”
That was a warning, she thought. If he had been serious, he could have destroyed me at any time.
“I see,” she muttered. “The Army is not our ally. I already knew that, but I had grown careless. We need to cut our own path forward.”
“What should we do?”
“Once they are finished eating up above, we will ask the Moirai to handle Cottus’s and my shifts. When I saw Typhon yesterday, it had fragments of the black god of war on its fist. That god of war was damaged. If it has contacted UCAT, we need to attack as soon as possible,” she declared. “Early tomorrow morning, we will attack that black god of war and secure it if possible. This is for the sake of 3rd-Gear’s human race.”
|Back to Chapter 7||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 9|