Owari no Chronicle:Volume5 Prologue
Prologue: On a Trip of Self-Questioning
What exactly is a question?
Do you go and continue on?
Or do you go and come back?
Two automatic doors led to a large white airtight space. The fifty square meter white walls, floor, and ceiling were all covered with light emitting panels.
The placard at the entrance illuminated by that light was printed with the name of the space: Training Room 9.
Four people sat in the center of the training room. They were taking a break after completing their training. They all wore white and black armored uniforms and they were looking at small handmade documents.
The first one to speak was the well-built young man in the center. He held up the document in his hand as he did.
“Anyway, we have three days until Team Leviathan’s summer training camp known as the ‘we have less than five months until the world grows too negative and is destroyed, so let’s go to the beach and hope someone’s top falls off’ training camp, but… What is it, Sayama you idiot?”
Before he could say anymore, the boy who had raised his hand spoke.
“Izumo, while the name of the camp is surprisingly good, I must ask…”
“I know, I know. You want to know about the next Leviathan Road, right?”
Sayama nodded and turned to the long-haired girl sitting to his left.
“We need to take action soon, but that will likely make us quite busy. Did you have any plans for summer break, Shinjou-kun?”
“Hm. I want to beat some of the new games I got, but I guess the Leviathan Road is more important.” Shinjou smiled bitterly and turned to the other two people. “Kazami-san, what about you two?”
“No, I don’t think we have anything,” answered the girl directly across from her. She brushed up her short hair as she continued. “But do you know where 3rd-Gear is, Sayama? I hear we still have a few of the 3rd-Gear automatons that fell into our possession when 3rd was destroyed, but I’ve never heard anything about the location of the other 3rd-Gear remnants.”
“The other day, the old man gave me a hint concerning that. He mentioned a large-scale string vibration abnormality in the Kurashiki region about five years ago.”
“Kurashiki? You mean…?”
Shinjou looked up at the ceiling in thought and Kazami immediately spoke up.
“That’s in Okayama. It’s the Kojima Peninsula. According to the Divine States-World Interaction Theory, that’s Greece. So are they there?”
“No. It seems the Okayama branch immediately investigated but was unable to detect 3rd-Gear’s presence. But we might find some sort of hint if we go there. And before that, I would like to meet the automatons kept in UCAT custody.”
“I see,” muttered Shinjou.
That Gear became the basis of Greek mythology and had created automatons and the giant humanoid weapons known as gods of war.
“The Concept Core was split in two and one half is held by Typhon, right?”
“Yes, and Typhon is most likely a god of war.” Izumo scratched his head as he continued. “But we don’t know where the other half is. And with 3rd-Gear, we’ll probably be up against gods of war, so the Leviathan Road is probably gonna be tricky.”
Thanks to the concept activation ten years prior, UCAT was able to stabilize the operation of automatons and gods of war. Before that, they had only been able to construct an unstable concept space for humanoid machines, so their development of automatons and gods of war had been mostly guesswork.
“I wonder if 3rd-Gear’s remnants are living in this world with Typhon.”
“If they were not caught in 3rd’s destruction, they must be. There probably are not very many of them, though.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Merely a guess. They have yet to do anything at all, so the odds are high they have few usable personnel. That is all.”
Hearing Sayama’s words, Shinjou tilted her head. She had a certain thought.
“Then,” she began. “Why are they hiding? If they really don’t have many people like you say, they could always surrender. If they don’t, they have to act.”
“The answer is simple: they have something to feel guilty about. If they show themselves, whoever finds them might take some form of revenge. They may have that sort of reason for their reluctance to make an appearance.”
As he spoke, Sayama looked at Shinjou, Izumo, and finally Kazami.
“We should be careful. 3rd-Gear’s Leviathan Road will not be resolved so simply.”
“When have we ever resolved something simply? Maybe if we didn’t have a certain idiot complicating things.”
Izumo’s comment caused Sayama to nod deeply, fold his arms, and give a serious expression.
“Yes, you are very right. But you should not refer to yourself as an idiot. Let me say it for you: you are a damn idiot. How was that? Will that make a sufficient replacement for your self deprecation?”
Izumo ignored him and glared at Kazami in annoyance.
“I want to get this conversation back on track. Can you force it in that direction?”
“Sure. I’m good at forcing things. …Anyway, let’s move from the Leviathan Road to the training camp. Shinjou, did you see where we’re going?”
“Eh? No. The location is chosen randomly every year and the thought of the Mt. Osore medium tour for last year really got me down, so I don’t check it until the day we have to leave. That way I can resign myself to it the instant I see it.”
“Perfect. And I’m sure Sayama is the same.”
Kazami showed off the pamphlet in her hand with a smile. She narrowed her eyes and laughed.
“Heh heh. We’re going to the Seto Inland Sea. Specifically, a deserted island owned by IAI. It’s officially a test site, but it’s actually a UCAT training ground. And…that area feels like it’s related to 3rd. Right, Sayama?”
Sayama did not immediately react, but after a short pause, he cleared his throat and spoke disappointedly.
“It sounds like a nice place.”
His casual tone caused Shinjou to smile bitterly in her heart.
…He’s actually really happy.
“We might be able to do some preliminary investigation of 3rd-Gear, Sayama-kun.”
“Perhaps so, Shinjou-kun. But… Kazami, how will the tents be arranged?”
“Unfortunately for you two, you will be separate. There will be a boys tent and a girls tent.”
“I-I don’t particularly see that as unfortunate,” said Shinjou.
“I certainly do. And on top of that, there is a problem with that arrangement.” Sayama nodded quietly. “If we are separate, I will be unable to continue my standard inspection of Shinjou-kun’s bod-…”
Shinjou frantically tightened Sayama’s tie. With her eyebrows raised, she lightly shook him back and forth.
“Stop saying that in front of people. Your morals may be set to a foreign level or even an animal level, b-but I want to treat that kind of thing with more-… Are you listening?”
“Shinjou, I’ll answer for that idiot: he can’t breathe.”
She looked past the tightened tie and saw a happy and nonresistant look on his face.
Shinjou supported him as he limply collapsed.
…Oh, no. I went too far. Oh, well.
Izumo watched as Baku mimicked Sayama’s collapse from atop his head.
“Okay, let’s leave that idiot be and leave for the day. I’ve gotten hooked on winning prizes at the batting center upstairs. They have a bunch of great prizes and Chisato loves them.”
“But, Kaku, stop making a fool of yourself by winning a prize you already have. …Oh, and I guess it would be dangerous to abandon Sayama here. Whoever is using the place next would be worried. Right, Shinjou?”
“Um, yes… I suppose the others do view him like that.”
Shinjou took a breath, but Sayama still appeared to be sleeping. After some hesitation, she placed his head on her stocking-covered lap.
She grabbed Baku from his head, placed the creature on her shoulder, and faced forward.
“Kazami-san, why do you look so impressed?”
“I was just surprised you do that without being asked.” While sitting to Izumo’s left, Kazami slapped her own lap. “Resting him on your lap, I mean.”
Shinjou nodded and looked to the white staff engraved with Ex-St which lay to her side. She recalled the first time she had done this several months before…no, only about three months before.
“Sayama-kun wanted to do this the first time we met. And he asked me the other night as well. I think he sometimes wants to depend on someone like this.”
“The other night?”
“Yeah, I played cards with him and lost horribly. And then…um…”
He had asked for a lot more than just to rest on her lap, but she was naturally hesitant to mention any of it.
She frantically formed a smile as she decided to change the subject.
“S-Sayama-kun said his grandfather taught him how to play cards. He’s really good. I can only ever win at video games. In the new fighting game ‘Virtua Leader 2’, I can use the American representative to get in some good air combos.”
“Chisato. I think she’s trying to hide something.”
“Yeah, I sense it too.”
“I-I’m not hiding anything. I’m not.”
She waved her hands in denial, but Kazami gradually gained a bitter smile.
She shrugged dismissively and looked Shinjou in the eye.
“Well, whatever. But not letting himself do this unless he beats you at cards sounds like him.”
“Yeah.” Shinjou smiled bitterly as well and lightly brushed up Sayama’s bangs as he lay unmoving on her lap. “I’m willing to do this whenever he wants, but he seems to have trouble with it.”
“I see. That’s nice. …By the way, Chisato, sometimes I want-…”
“A fist to the face? That’s perfectly fine. Do you want the right? The left? Or maybe both?”
Shinjou looked around the training room while ignoring Izumo who was pretending to cry while collapsed to the side. She saw that they were the only ones there.
“Where are Sibyl-san and the others?”
“Sibyl left with Ooshiro-san. They apparently had someone to meet.”
“I see.” Shinjou nodded and looked down at the training camp pamphlet in her hand. She then looked at Sayama’s face as he breathed shallowly on her lap. “By the way, Sayama-kun has been a bit irritated lately because the Leviathan Road has been progressing so slowly.”
“In the two months since the negotiation with 2nd-Gear, our only orders have been to train and we haven’t tried to contact any other Gears. And now we have to go on a training camp? It must be horrible for someone as impatient as him.”
“But holding the camp near land related to 3rd has to be Old Man Ooshiro’s doing,” said Izumo. He sat up, folded his arms, and looked toward Sayama. “It is true the other countries’ UCATs complained about our actions after we dealt with Yamata. They said kids shouldn’t be sent into such danger without training. American UCAT was especially annoying.”
“The Divine States-World Interaction Theory associates America with 5th-Gear, right? Something likely happened between them in the past. American UCAT may not want us taking the initiative in the negotiations and advancing to negotiations with 5th. They’ll probably interfere with that Leviathan Road.”
“The world is a real pain.”
“Oh? Quit acing like you understand. The problem isn’t the world; it’s the pride of the people living in it. …I have my own pride and I’m sure Shinjou does too.”
Shinjou thought when she heard that. She had a feeling she did indeed, but she also wondered what exactly she had inside her.
As she focused on that thought, her gaze dropped and the boy sleeping on her lap entered her vision. She brushed up his hair with her right hand which had a ring on it. That was when she naturally found her answer.
“Yes. I think I probably do too.”
She nodded and Kazami smiled.
“Sayama must as well. And it’s his understanding of that that irritates him so much. He also has his grandfather to pursue, so he must want to begin the Leviathan Road with the next Gear right away.”
Shinjou nodded and remembered something.
“The training camp and the Leviathan Road are important, but we also have to worry about summer homework. We have a lot.”
“That’s a rather carefree concern when the world might be destroyed.”
“I know what you mean, but Ooki-sensei used the wrong book for our first term classes. We found out the day before yesterday and Sayama-kun set up an inquiry commission, but the only result was ‘Oh, no! I’m so sorry!’ …Our school is a surprisingly careless organization.”
“Heh heh heh. Don’t worry, Shinjou. The way I see it, it’s a surprisingly thrilling organization. …And I forgot this was your first time for this. That means it will be your only time. Third years get no homework because we have entrance exams to worry about.”
Hearing that, Shinjou suddenly raised her head. On the other hand, Kazami and Izumo remained relaxed.
“Why do you look so interested, Shinjou?”
“I just had a thought: what will we do once you two graduate?”
“Needless to say, Chisato and I will- gah! I didn’t even finish the setup!”
“Shut up,” muttered Kazami while ignoring Izumo as he once again lay to the side and pretended to cry. “I plan to go on to university, but we’re doing the Leviathan Road, right? So once I graduate high school, I might try studying abroad at different universities. Who knows what will have happened to the world at that point, but the different UCATs should be busy. I was thinking of helping them out a bit. Oh, and Kaku would be with me.”
Shinjou was unsure what to say.
“You’ve thought that through… Surprisingly.”
“That’s not exactly a compliment.”
“S-sorry. But…um…how should I put it?”
“Saying anything more would just dig yourself deeper, so stop. And this is normal. Next year, you’ll be thinking about it too. In your third year, there’s no one above you and simply flipping through the calendar gets you thinking. You think about it even when staring out the classroom window.”
After saying that, a sudden look of realization came over Kazami and her eyebrows rose slightly while she tried to retain her smile.
“I’ve practically been lecturing you while soaking in self-satisfaction, haven’t I? Well, you can let me act like an upperclassman every once in a while, right? I can’t say this kind of thing in front of Sayama.”
“True. Sayama-kun worries about people a surprising amount, so he would probably be overly considerate.”
Shinjou lowered her gaze toward Sayama.
He lay motionlessly on her lap. She did nothing but stare at him, but it still put a smile on her face.
Seeing them, Kazami let out an exasperated sigh.
Izumo remained in his position collapsed next to her.
How quiet, thought Shinjou.
But then a noise filled the training room.
Kazami stood up as the repeating high-pitched noise stabbed through the air.
Next, an announcement filled the room.
“Um, this is an official announcement. Currently, um, two huge philosopher’s stone readings are flying in from the left side of Japan. So, um, the special division and the…standard division? Both are to send all personnel in training or on standby to the main entrance.”
Hearing Ooki’s voice, Shinjou frantically looked at Sayama. His eyes remained closed, so she spoke.
“Sayama-kun! Sayama-kun! Wake up! Wake up! Ooki-sensei is saying something strange!”
But his eyes did not open. Shinjou panicked, thought for a moment, and then whispered in his ear.
“I’m on my way to the bath.”
“Wait for me!”
He jumped to his feet with his arm held out as if holding a wash basin under it.
The moon-filled night sky was colored a dark blue.
The sky, the air, and the shadows created by the moonlight were all dark blue and they all seemed to blend into each other.
And below all that dark blue, forested mountains and valleys were visible.
The area was filled with the murmuring of the rivers flowing through the valleys and the sounds of forest insects.
The river noises seemed to continue without end.
But the insect noises were different. In some parts of the mountains, the insect cries would cease.
That silence of the insects was not contained to a single place. The silence climbed the unlit road leading up and into the mountain.
Two figures were visible on that silent mountain road.
One of the people treading on fallen branches was an old man in a lab coat.
“Sibyl-kun, how should I put this? Can we rest for a moment?”
As he gasped for breath, a blonde girl wearing a white summer coat turned toward him.
Sibyl’s blue eyes bent in a smile.
“I apologize, Ooshiro-sama. It has been so long that I began to hurry without realizing it.”
“And are we going to rest?”
“Testament. No, we are not.”
As she smiled, Ooshiro looked up into the sky and continued to walk. He stared beyond the overhead leaves and branches.
“I get the feeling that everyone has my priority level set very low of late…”
“Testament. Do not worry. If everyone has it set low, it means you do not have to worry about people treating you differently.”
“Wah! Are people abusing the elderly with sophistry these days!?”
His shout was followed by bird cries from the branches overhead. The panicked cries were followed by a few sounds of flapping wings and Sibyl coming to a stop.
Ooshiro stopped as well and she looked at him with her smile gone.
He waited for the bird cries and flapping to end before speaking.
He bowed and Sibyl had vanished by the time he raised his head again.
“Ah! Being ignored is the worst of all!”
He began to run, but the mountain road ended before long and the forest opened up.
“The old Hiba Dojo.”
With that comment, he arrived below the moonlight.
The space was twenty meters square and the ground had been packed down by countless feet.
But while the ground was hard, it was also unmaintained. Cracks had formed in places and grass was growing up from them.
This was the old Hiba Dojo.
“The Hiba family used this outdoor dojo until the end of the war.”
As he looked across the unmaintained dojo, he saw two people on the northern end.
The first was Sibyl in her white summer coat. The other wore a white T-shirt and shorts.
“Oh? Ooshiro’s kid is here too?”
Hiba Ryuutetsu raised a hand in the moonlight and faced Ooshiro.
As he smiled, his red left eye reflected the moonlight.
“Why did you call me to this location of the past on this early summer night?”
“It is beginning again, Ryuutetsu-sama.”
“ ‘It’ being the cleanup of that conclusion?”
Sibyl turned toward Ryuutetsu’s voice as she bathed in the moonlight.
A train could be heard in the distance and the moon illuminated a slight smile on her face.
“That is correct. We will be purifying the vestiges of that battle over the search for a human form,” she said. “That is why we have called you, warrant officer of the former National Defense Department and bearer of the power that destroyed 3rd-Gear.”
In the moonlight, Ooshiro pulled a pile of documents from his lab coat’s pocket.
When he handed the clip-bound pile to Ryuutetsu, Ryuutetsu’s expression grew serious.
“If you look that stern, it makes me want to make a joke.”
“Go right ahead. But it’ll cost you an arm if it isn’t funny. That’s the rule.”
Hearing that, Ooshiro froze in place and Sibyl smiled at him.
“Ooshiro-sama? There is no need to force yourself.”
“That really pisses me off! I’m definitely going to say something funny now!”
“Better not, boy. Not even five arms would be enough for you.”
Being called ‘boy’ made Ooshiro smile bitterly. He scratched at his head while unsure how to respond.
“That really takes me back.”
“I’m sure not many people call you that anymore, but I remember when you were born. Hiromasa was so happy. I was…24 and Hiromasa was 37, I think.”
Ryuutetsu flipped through the documents he had been given. He just looked like a little old man in the moonlight.
“You look good for someone turning 85 this year.”
“I haven’t had a longevity treatment like Chao or Siegfried and I’m not near all sorts of concepts in combat like Abram, so the years are really starting to catch up to me. Fortunately, my wife is the same age,” he said. “But I think Thunderson or I will be the first of that group to die.”
His words caused Sibyl to close her eyes next to him.
She thought closing her eyes had hidden her expression, but Ryuutetsu said nothing to her. He continued flipping through the documents before speaking again.
“Are you going to retrieve you-know-what in UCAT’s Kanda laboratory tomorrow?”
“Yes. It was repaired in the Kanda lab, so we’ll be picking it up tomorrow. Would you like to come along?”
“Not after all this time. I only brought it back because I couldn’t bear to throw it out. And that’s Kaoru’s jurisdiction anyway.” He looked up. “But remember. I’m giving it to you, but in exchange…”
“Yes. UCAT will not interfere with your grandson’s actions.”
“Heh. When did you get so obedient? What happened to the ten-year-old Peeping Tom who would peep on the women’s bath with me?”
“Oh, c’mon.” Ooshiro scratched at his head, but suddenly turned to Sibyl. “S-Sibyl-kun? Why are you silently taking notes?”
“Testament. I think Chisato-sama will find this information useful.”
“Wh-what information! And why!?”
Sibyl ignored him. She continued to ignore him as he sadly sat on the ground with his arms around his knees.
“Anyway, Ryuutetsu-sama,” she said. “Japanese UCAT wishes for a mutually beneficial deal. In exchange for the object we will retrieve tomorrow…”
“You will temporarily put 3rd-Gear’s Leviathan Road on hold. Officially, at least.”
Ryuutetsu’s comment brought silence.
A silent wind blew through and Ryuutetsu’s voice filled the air once more as that wind shook the mountain’s trees.
“3rd-Gear has an impurity, so their Leviathan Road should not be carried out. The survivors from that time in the other UCATs told you the same thing, didn’t they? If we accept 3rd-Gear to our side, something best avoided would occur.”
“What is this impurity?”
“There are actually two. The first is the official one and the other one is more personal. The latter should only be known by me and the survivors of 3rd-Gear, so the other UCATs would be talking about the former. But both will be cleansed before long. 3rd-Gear is approaching a second destruction.”
“I will tell you about that now. I will tell you what 3rd-Gear is most likely doing right now and what we are doing. Once you hear that, you will be forced to think about the Leviathan Road with 3rd-Gear as an adult.” The corner of Ryuutetsu’s mouth rose in a smile. “I wonder what will happen. Once the adults learn of these impurities, they will certainly move to stop the Leviathan Road with 3rd-Gear. But what will Mikoto and his friends do?”
“Testament.” Sibyl looked somewhat disappointed, but she still gave a small smile. “Sayama-sama and the others generally have a certain extent of free reign over the Leviathan Road. If they come into contact with your grandson while learning of the past on their own and working to clear that barrier…”
“Will that change where those inexperienced children are headed?”
“Testament.” Sibyl nodded, but she was truly smiling now. “I think it will change where you are headed as well. They may be inexperienced, but… Chisato-sama said she was wondering what they would do once the Leviathan Road ended.”
She continued smiling.
“They have already started forward along with the entire world. And they have done so whether you wish for it or not.”
“Heh heh. I hate how sharp you are with things like this. …I really have gotten old. I’ve started worrying about sending kids to dangerous places.”
Suddenly, Ryuutetsu brought a hand to his face.
He brought it to his crimson left eye.
His action brought tension to Sibyl’s face and Ooshiro turned around.
“It can’t be…”
“It is. That idiot really is drawing the battle this way.”
“Take a guess,” said Ryuutetsu. His eyebrows were raised, but he had a smile on his lips. “The one I have allowed to cleanse the impurities!”
Below the moon, the lights of a train travelled east.
The train was on its way to Okutama on the Oume Line. It was leaving Ikusabata Station near Oume and it was travelling east along the Tama River.
The light could be seen leaving from a paddy field on the southern side of the river.
The area had no external lights and the green heads of rice were illuminated by the moonlight. The sounds of the insects in the grass and the frogs in the paddy field filled the area.
The wind shaking the rice plants travelled down from the mountains and across the river, so it was fairly chilly.
The moonlit breeze crossed the paddy field and travelled downstream as if pursuing the train.
But that wind suddenly danced about.
A single figure stood on the gravel farm road travelling down the center of the paddy field.
This young woman had her back to the distant station lights.
The beige suit coat hanging over her left shoulder was worn out and faint disorder could be heard in the sound of her pumps treading on the gravel road. She lightly swung around the bag in her right hand.
She let out a weary voice and brushed up her hair with her left hand.
Below her semi-long bangs was a face with flushed cheeks. But that face was accompanied by the smell of alcohol on her breath and eyebrows brought together in a troubled look.
The motion of brushing up her hair caused her suit coat to fall from her left shoulder.
She paused for just a second and looked down at the coat on the gravel road.
She then sat down on top of the dropped coat and started to cross her legs.
But the hem of her tight skirt was too narrow, so she kept her right knee raised. With a click of the tongue, she opened her bag. She pulled out a single sheet of paper: her resume.
The name field said Tsukuyomi Miyako.
The young woman named Miyako held the resume in both hands and held it forward in the proper reading position. She let out a nauseous groan before looking at the writing with a blank look in her eyes.
“What am I supposed to do? Mom’s gonna let me have it when she hears I couldn’t say anything at the interview.”
She suddenly glanced to the right which was the west. In the dark mountains of Okutama, she could see a few small gatherings of light.
“She’s always saying she’ll introduce me to IAI, but I’m not gonna use connections to get a job.”
Still sitting, Miyako brushed up her hair with her right hand and turned back to the resume.
The paper clearly described all the results she had produced so far: middle school, high school, university, the clubs she had belonged to, and whether she had a license.
She let go with her right hand and searched through the bag. She pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
She brought the flavorful smoke into her mouth, savored it, and breathed it out in a ball.
“That isn’t what I want them to see…”
She turned toward the fields for hobbies and special skills. Cooking and engineering were written there in ballpoint pen.
This just isn’t working out, she thought as she looked at it.
“I hate relying on people, but now it’s past mid-July and I still don’t have a job.”
She folded the resume in two and then folded it in half again.
She stuck it in her bag and sighed. With the cigarette still in her mouth, she collapsed backwards onto the ground.
She thought it was pathetic, but she grabbed the cigarette and held it up toward the moon.
“Even a former delinquent like me wants to flee this cruel world.”
She smiled bitterly, flicked the cigarette to knock off the ashes, and watched them scatter in the wind.
“Can’t something good happen for once? Like a meteor destroying society or a wealthy Prince Charming proposing, dying right after the marriage, and leaving me an easy life with tons of maids to do everything for me.” She showed her teeth in a smile. “Ridiculous.”
Her smiling face slowly grew serious.
“I just want to be a proper adult.”
As soon as she muttered that, she heard a voice.
She heard it in her mind rather than her ears and it resembled her own voice.
—Minerals have life.
Wondering what that voice had been, she got up.
She started to ask “who’s there”, but never finished.
Something fell to the ground directly to her right.
It was a giant mass of wind. As she was almost blown away by the great roar and wind, she looked up.
“That’s no meteor…”
The moonlight illuminated a white giant.
A giant white figure stood in the moonlit paddy field.
The white armored warrior was over ten meters tall.
As she sat at its feet, Miyako realized this white oddity was not disappearing, so she slowly looked around the area.
Once the wind produced by the giant vanished, everything grew still.
All the movements, insect noises, and frog croaks had vanished.
The silence and stillness was so great that a sense of confusion fell over her. It was as if all life had vanished from the area. And the giant standing next to her was more than just confusing.
She called all of her engineering skills and knowledge into her inebriated mind and stood up.
“This isn’t an anime, so how sturdy does that thing have to be to stand like that?”
The unmoving white giant was close enough to reach out and touch. And so she took a step closer to do exactly that.
As she did, two lights appeared on the giant’s head.
They formed the eyes on what appeared to be its face. The lights were yellow and she felt a certain warmth in them.
They may have been a signal that something was activating.
…I feel like I’ve seen those eyes before. But where? No, I’ve never seen glowing eyes before. It’s the general feeling they give me.
Looking at those eyes brought a brightly warm and weak feeling to her chest.
…What is this?
With that thought, her drunken mind prioritized curiosity. As if tempted, she reached a hand out toward the white giant.
And just before she touched it…
The light in the giant’s eyes suddenly strengthened and it moved.
It took a half step to the side as if avoiding her.
…It’s running away.
As it reacted like a frightened animal, it produced a powerful noise and wind. When it stepped into the paddy field, it tore off heads of rice and produced a splashing noise. The foot sinking into the mud produced an equal volume of muddy water flowing onto the gravel road.
It had moved approximately three meters away and Miyako still could not hear any insects or frogs.
In that silence, she looked at the fingers of her outstretched arm and the giant beyond them.
She saw the white giant look down at her as if hanging its head.
The giant’s head suddenly produced some sort of noise. She could tell it was a male voice, but she did not know what language it was.
But after speaking, the giant turned its back to her.
“Wait,” she called out.
But then she gasped in realization.
…What am I doing?
She had gotten drunk after failing an interview and now she was telling a white giant to wait.
Just as she wondered how much of that was normal, the giant made its next move.
The six large wings on its back spread out.
It had three pairs of main wings with ailerons. The main wings were over five meters long and their flaps rose and fell. She even saw in-wing thrusters which should not have existed in reality.
The wings spread out like a living creature and they blossomed in the moonlight.
What is this? she wondered. This shouldn’t exist.
But that sense of reality was wiped out by the truth before her eyes.
The spread wings gave off a dignified glow in the moonlight and wind suddenly exploded out.
The white giant flew into the sky.
Miyako crossed her arms in front of herself, but it was too late. Uh, oh, she thought as her body floated up a bit. In the next moment, she fell onto her butt.
The impact itself was not as bad as the pain of the gravel stabbing at her.
But she immediately forced herself through the wind and back to her feet.
She had seen the white giant turn toward her in the instant it jumped up.
Its yellow eyes had seemed afraid of something.
She opened her mouth, but no words came out. She did not know what to say.
She felt a strange sense of frustration, but she must have sympathized with the giant to have read fear in its eyes. Something similar to that giant’s fear resided within herself.
But what was it inside her?
Instead of an answer, she heard a noise. It was a muffled sound as if something were tearing at the wind.
A reverberation of the wind fell from the previously silent sky above.
She looked up and saw a single white cloud drawing a line through the night along the path in which the white giant had flown.
Something else came from the sky behind her.
With the sound of something tearing at the wind, a new figure swiftly cut by overhead.
As if showing its intention to whip up the wind, the figure repeatedly accelerated as it passed by above her head. It flew through the night sky while producing a chain of roars resembling the flapping of wings.
Miyako put up with this second wind as she watched. This new figure wrapped in wind and noise was another giant much like the white one from before.
But it was colored a dark black.
The black giant pursued the white giant as it flew through the night sky.
The night sky was chilly and clear.
The black giant flying through the air had four metal wings extending from its back.
The two pairs of four meter long wings were spread out with two toward the sky and two toward the ground.
This action should have created air resistance, but it did not. The pale light emitted from the front of the wings cut through the air and only the necessary amount of air was brought inside the front slit to be stored inside the wing.
The swing-down portion of the wing would then beat down the air.
The atmospheric explosion emitted from the wing’s rear thruster accelerated the metal giant upwards.
The distance to the sky above vanished in an instant.
As the black giant ascended, a sharp red light appeared on its face as eyes.
It then located its enemy in the wind, the night, and the sky.
That enemy was the white giant.
The white giant’s back was visible at a high enough altitude to be called “the heavens”.
It was ascending, so the black giant ascended even further.
As it flapped the wings on its back, a noise came from the black giant.
It was a voice coming from the mouth portion of its face.
“Are they planning to leave the concept space they set up themselves?”
The voice that seemed to be questioning itself might have belonged to a boy or a young man.
And another voice immediately replied. This time, a feminine voice came from that same black machine.
“I don’t know. But if we can end this here, we should use our weapon of destruction.”
A male and female pair spoke within the same craft and the female voice continued.
That name produced movement.
A concept space expanded around the black right arm and the weapon known as Keravnos appeared in pieces.
First, the frame of a spear was emitted from space. The claws on the bottom of the frame locked onto the arm and combined with the rail meant to fire the spear shell. Next, side guiderails and an upper counter-head were emitted from space. Those parts surrounded the top and either side, forming a cannon.
After that, a shock absorber appeared and connected to the back. With the inside complete, the spear shell entered.
The spear shell was made up of three spears, all which glowed white. They were the color of a thunderbolt.
Finally, twelve steel bolts were emitted from space. With six on either side, they drilled into Keravnos one pair at a time. The six-fold harmony of metal closed the weapon, fixed it in place, and made sure it would not budge.
It all occurred in an instant.
“Finished. We can do this!”
Just as the female voice cried out, something happened above the black giant’s head.
The white giant flipped around with the moon above it and the black giant below it.
It almost seemed to collapse backwards until its head was pointed down toward the black giant.
Immediately afterwards, the white giant flapped its wings.
It charged down toward the other giant and toward the ground.
It had been carrying a sword over each shoulder and it was now holding the right one down toward its left waist.
“Here it comes!”
But the black giant also flew. With a large flap of its wings, it calmly soared.
And then music came from the black giant’s mouth.
The boy’s voice sang a song.
—Silent night Holy night
As if riding on the gentle rhythm of the hymn, the black giant accelerated without rushing.
—God’s Son laughs, o how bright
At such great speeds, contact would only last an instant.
—Love from your holy lips shines clear
The descent at greater than free fall speeds and the ascent fighting against the pull of gravity crossed paths.
—As the dawn of salvation draws near
The sword on the left and the spear on the right clashed.
—Jesus, Lord, with your birth
The song’s final line transformed into a shout as the spear easily broke the sword.
Something odd happened.
The white giant vanished and suddenly appeared to the side. It appeared on the right with zero time lag.
“Did it take our attack again!?” The boy’s voice seemed to forcefully turn around in the sky. “Mikage-san, what was that!?”
“It’s no use! The attack is already here!”
As she had said, the white giant’s sword had already been swung down.
“That isn’t just teleportation! It’s an instant attack!”
With teleportation, the giant’s movements afterwards would continue from before, but when it had appeared an instant after vanishing, it had already been swinging the attack.
This was not high speed, invisibility, or teleportation. It was as if the black giant’s attack had been taken away.
“What’s the trick to this!?”
As he asked that question, evasion and attack crossed paths.
With a great noise, the white giant’s sword deflected the firing device at the base of the spear.
And then the white giant crashed into the black giant.
The sound of destroyed metal filled the sky.
Sounds of pain and surprise came from both and the result of the crash showed itself.
The white giant was larger and was moving faster. To eliminate the lingering effects of the impact, it rotated and dropped straight down. But the black giant was knocked through the air with its chest armor and back wings broken.
Its altitude quickly dropped and it approached the surface.
The black wings spread out. It flapped them at just above the ground to throw its body sideways, but it was too little, too late.
It used all of its leg strength to kick off the ground and forced another strike of the wings to correct its path. It flew in a high-speed horizontal glide and pursued the white giant which was similarly skimming along the surface approximately one hundred meters ahead.
“Sorry. This is because I am incomplete.”
The boy did not respond to the female voice’s comment. After a short pause, she spoke again.
“Did you see Typhon back there?”
“Yes, but what about it?”
After another short pause, the female voice spoke as if checking with herself.
“Its eyes were yellow. …The color was different when we fought it before.”
“True,” muttered the boy.
The black giant’s head tilted as if to ask why, but the female voice cut off the boy’s puzzlement.
“Typhon is slowing down.”
“I do not know, but this is our chance!”
The black giant nodded at her words.
It continued forward. It kicked off the ground once to leap into the air and then flapped its wings. It was taking a low-angle yet high-speed dive.
And it charged in. It swung Keravnos on its right arm toward the white back it approached.
“Cry out, crushing lightning strike!”
The male and female voices cried out in unison and the stabbing spear was fired while wrapped in light.
As the white giant glided along, it frantically turned around and swung its sword toward the other giant.
Keravnos devoured the sword. The metal sword shattered in an instant and it scattered through the sky.
But the black giant saw where the white giant was headed.
A woman wearing a white shirt and a beige skirt looked through the sky while walking. It looked like she had lost sight of the giants and was searching for them. She slowly turned her head toward them.
She caught sight of the approaching white giant and her expression filled with shock and paled.
Seeing that, the white giant took action. It fully spread its wings, drastically lowered its speed, crouched over, and spread its arms.
It moved to protect the woman from the attack approaching from behind.
As the pursuing black giant swung its right arm, it altered the trajectory away from the white giant.
The attack could not punch through the white giant.
But the fired spear produced a lightning strike.
Light enveloped the two gods of war and a great rumbling rang out.
Miyako stood on the gravel road which was scorched, broken, and giving off heat.
She was surrounded by an intense light that had fallen from the sky, but she did not close her eyes.
She saw everything that happened. The heat- and light-filled wind brought slight tears to her eyes and made her tremble, but she continued to watch.
It started when the flying white and black giants had descended toward her.
As soon as the one with white wings landed in front of her, the light had come.
Sound raced by around her like she was surrounded by a waterfall and light filled everything. She could tell the hot wind was blowing from below her feet.
She did not remember much else. She had simply suddenly noticed the white giant standing before her.
…Did it protect me as I carelessly wandered around?
She tried to speak her confusion aloud, but she could not form the words.
Her lips were trembling. As were her face, head, abdomen, and knees.
But her eyes looked steadily up at the white giant. She looked up at its face.
Those eyes emitting a yellow light would be there.
As if responding to her thoughts, the giant lowered its head slightly. She could now see its face.
It was a pale blue.
Rather than the yellow light, the white giant’s face gave off a pale light.
This is the same color as moonlight, she thought.
In the next instant, the white giant moved. As if refusing to lower its head any longer, it suddenly spread its arms slightly and bent backwards.
It let out a roar. The roar sounded like a mix between an “ah” and a “gah” and it was clearly a female voice. The foreign-sounding male voice from before was gone. It now produced a pure, bestial, and scream-like voice.
The cry blew away the steam and exposed the moon above.
The entire chilly sky was now visible. The sight made Miyako shudder. She then heard a noise. Something was shaking the air as it approached from behind the white giant.
“The black one…”
The dark giant moved in. It skimmed across the broken paddy field at high speed and instantly arrived from a distance. It was already swinging the spear attached to its right arm.
Miyako heard it give a war cry.
In response, the white giant ended its cry and swung its right arm toward Miyako.
“What?” asked Miyako as the white giant grabbed her.
In no time, the steel fingers had wrapped around her tense body.
She was restrained.
She was lifted up in an instant and then forcefully squeezed.
As she wondered what was happening, the white giant turned around, bringing her with it.
And it held her out toward the black giant.
“I’m a hostage!?”
Even as she almost passed out, she saw the black giant stop when it saw her.
She once again wondered what was happening.
The white giant which had shown her fear had protected her but then taken her hostage once the color of its eyes had changed.
Meanwhile, the black giant had stopped moving upon seeing her despite continually attacking the fearful white giant.
…Which is the good one and which is the bad one?
While held by those five steel fingers, her breath was squeezed from her lungs and she had difficulty drawing in more air. Her breathing was shallow and her vision grew blurry.
And then the white giant flapped its wings.
Just as she felt her body grow heavy, she found herself in the sky.
Her vision had reached the heavens.
The large moon was visible overhead.
She saw the pale color of the moon just before her consciousness cut out.
The black giant stood on the paddy field’s gravel road.
After the triple spear on its right arm was dismantled and stored in the concept space, it lowered its right arm.
Afterwards, its shoulders clearly drooped.
The face was clearly turned toward two things on the ground.
Sitting on the gravel were a balled up woman’s suit coat and a black bag.
After a moment of silence, it spoke with the boy’s voice.
“The concept space will vanish soon, but should we pursue them? They got someone else involved.”
The response came from a weak and quiet female voice.
“We can’t. I can’t send power to the wings properly.”
“I see,” said the boy’s voice.
At the same time, light arrived. This was not the moonlight from above. It came from directly in front of the black giant.
The white light pointed directly at the black giant’s face.
More lights illuminated its face and body from the sides and back.
And then the black giant saw it. A great number of large forms were visible beyond the hands holding the lights. And several human forms were visible on top of them.
They were trucks. The large trucks had surrounded the giant as a barricade.
The lights were approximately fifteen meters away. The giant had not noticed them as they approached. Which meant…
“Did they use some kind of concept?” muttered the male voice.
He received a response from a boy standing in the center of the people lined up on one truck. His hair was slicked back, it had some white mixed in, and his sharp face was turned toward the giant.
“To use the stereotypical phrase, we have you surrounded! Feel free to resist if you like. We have already prepared a stupid but sturdy shield and a beautiful gunner that can shoot through anything as long as she has enough guts!”
“Am I that shield you mentioned, you son of a bitch?” said a well-built young man standing to the boy’s left and holding a giant sword.
The girl standing to the boy’s right then spoke while holding a giant staff.
“U-um… My Ex-St doesn’t use my guts for output. It uses my spirit.”
“That’s the same thing!”
The girl cowered down as everyone else shouted at her, but the sharp-faced boy in the center patted her shoulder.
He then faced the black giant once more.
“Now, what will you do?”
Rather than the male voice, it was the giant’s female voice that answered.
“What should we do?”
The line of people took defensive stances when they heard that question. Except for one of them.
That one was the sharp-faced boy who had spoken before.
Rather than going on the defensive, he loosely folded his arms and placed his left hand on his chin. It looked like he was evaluating the black god of war.
“Will you fight?” he asked.
“Are you picking a fight?”
“That depends on you.” He nodded and calmly continued. “If we do fight, you may come to regret it.”
The black giant did not move, but the male voice muttered to himself.
“I give up…”
“Please shut it down, Mikage-san. These people are not our enemy. Not that they are our ally either.”
He took a breath.
“You are from UCAT, aren’t you?”
“That is correct.”
As the sharp-faced boy answered, the black giant trembled.
The hatch on the bottom of the stomach opened outward.
A short figure jumped out and to the ground. He was a boy wearing black jeans and a white tank top. He had short hair and a white bandanna wrapped around his forehead.
He gave a troubled smile as he heard that comment from the surrounding people.
“I get these red eyes from my grandfather. …Also, I request protection. Will that suffice, student council members?”
Sensing confusion and surprise, the red-eyed boy spoke with a smile.
“I am Hiba Ryuuji from Class 1-F of Taka-Akita Academy. The one about to appear from this god of war is Hiba Mikage. Sayama-san, do you remember me? I’m the grandson of that troublesome old man, Hiba Ryuutetsu.”
As he spoke, the boy named Hiba raised his hands. He also stopped between the black giant’s legs.
He held his raised arms forward as if to catch something.
As soon as he spoke that name, the black giant transformed.
No, it was not a transformation. Starting with its limbs, the entire body folded and bent inward until it vanished into thin air.
With the sound of building blocks being piled up, the black craft disappeared.
And just before it did, the back of the craft opened and a human figure fell out.
It was a female figure. The blonde girl wore a black shirt and a white dress.
As she fell, Hiba caught her from below.
The girl, Mikage, did not move. She did not fix her disheveled hair and she merely took repeated deep breaths.
…Is she okay?
As he thought that, Hiba felt something damp in his right hand. Something warm began to cover that hand.
As that warmth caused him to gasp, he heard a voice from above.
“Is she injured? We can treat her.”
“We always handle it ourselves, but it looks like that won’t happen today.”
He realized that everyone surrounding them was staring at Mikage.
He knew why she was drawing their focus. Her visible skin at the neck and hands was different from that of a human. The material resembled human skin, but the joints were black and made with a geometric pattern.
“An automaton,” someone said.
That comment caused an even deeper silence to fall which Hiba did not like.
But that silence was broken by Sayama giving instructions.
Hiba took a breath as he heard the footsteps of people frantically beginning to move.
A white-clothed rescue team quickly arrived and spread out a white sheet, so he gently lowered Mikage to the ground behind him. He placed her on the sheet and lightly placed her hands on top of her stomach.
“It’ll be okay,” he said reassuringly and the rescue team smiled at him.
“We will make sure she is okay.”
His smile in response was weak, but he raised his head as he heard the sounds of medical equipment.
He turned around and turned his red eyes in that direction.
“Thank you very much. Please take her to a good doctor.”
And then he looked around the area once more.
He first noticed that Sayama was looking his way.
“This is Team Leviathan, isn’t it?”
“Did you hear about us from Hiba-sensei?”
“Yes, but only a bit. Something about winning each Gear to your side, right?”
“Correct. Are you fighting 3rd-Gear?”
As Hiba wondered whether he should answer, Sayama continued speaking.
“This is not just a casual request. I am sure you have your reasons, but could you end your fighting? It will hinder the Leviathan Road with 3rd-Gear.”
“No,” replied Hiba reflexively. His eyebrows rose. “3rd-Gear is our opponent. And…I cannot hand them over to you. If you want 3rd-Gear’s Concept Core, then wait until we have settled things with them.”
“An impurity.” Hiba chose his words carefully. “3rd-Gear has an impurity. If you touch them, you will be stained, so we will cleanse that impurity and then give you the Concept Core.”
“And until then, you want us to leave you alone?”
After a moment, Sayama folded his arms and a small animal that had climbed to his head mimicked the pose.
“I see. An interesting proposal. According to my horoscope, I am a bit short-tempered today and my lucky word is ‘anger’, so-…”
“W-wait, Sayama-kun! Don’t do anything rash based on the astronomy department’s fake horoscopes!” cried a voice from behind the truck.
Sayama frowned and turned toward the voice.
Hiba tilted his head as he thought the voice sounded familiar.
“U-um, we just received word from Ooshiro-san. Is there a Hiba-kun here!? If so, please raise your hand!”
Hiba did as requested. But after a few moments of silence, Sayama looked at him and then on the other side of the truck once more.
“Can you see him from there?”
“O-of course I can!”
“Then answer me this: which hand is he holding up?”
“U-um… Um, uh… The middle one!”
“Please redo your evolution from the microscopic stage. At any rate, what is it?”
“Well,” said the voice. “It seems we’re supposed to secure Hiba-kun and the girl with him without asking them anything! It sounds like a complicated situation and I didn’t really understand it.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha. Thank you for being so wonderfully useless, Ooki-sensei.”
“Teh heh heh. Stop flattering me.”
That was flattery? thought Hiba, but then the name Sayama had mentioned made him recall a famous teacher from his school. Oh, so that teacher is part of Team Leviathan too.
…Now I’m worried about the world.
Sayama and the others faced him and Sayama gave him an expressionless look.
“There is a lot I would like to ask you, but we will prioritize the organization here.”
Hiba looked up and around at the people surrounding him.
They were UCAT members, but they were mostly quite young. A lot of the girls were about his age.
The same was true for the girl standing next to Sayama. She did not seem to be a member of the student council, but…
She looked familiar, so he tilted his head.
…Isn’t that the person named Shinjou who is always with Sayama-senpai? But isn’t Shinjou…
“…a boy?” he muttered.
He suddenly shuddered.
As sweat poured down the back of his body, Shinjou spoke to him.
“What is it? You don’t look too good.”
“Eh? Oh… U-u-u-u-uh… Well…”
He looked around to find something to say. As he did, he looked up at the girls.
“With the design of the girls’ uniforms, it feels like I’m peeking up their skirts,” he muttered with a serious expression. “Does thinking that make me a pervert?”
Countless silent attacks flew his way.
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