Owari no Chronicle:Volume6 Chapter 19

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Chapter 19: Pursuit into the Depths[edit]

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Some answers contain traps

That is normal

So destroy them without thinking of immersing yourself in them


The black clock on the wall indicated the time was four in the morning, but there were no windows on the white walls to let in the morning sun.

The large underground space was divided by several partitions and a woman walked along the western side. The woman, Tsukuyomi, walked to the director’s desk on the south end while holding a bundle of documents.

The sound of her sandaled footsteps suddenly came to a stop.

Something lay at her feet. Namely, a figure in a lab coat had fallen forward and lay sprawled out before her.

She looked closer and spotted a nearby laptop.

“Oh, it’s Kashima.”

With that, she walked past him and he spoke up from behind her.

“You’re going to ignore me, Director Tsukuyomi?”

“Yes, I assumed you were asleep.”

“Adults don’t sleep on the floor.”

“I see.”

She began to walk once more, but he quickly sat up.

“You don’t want to know why I collapsed from shock?”

“I really don’t, but if you’re going to tell me anyway, get it over with.”

“Natsu-san is so cruel. You know the wash toilet we’re developing?”

“You mean the prototype product named ‘Right There!’? You brought it home with you last night, didn’t you?”

“Yes. Before leaving home, I hooked it up and set the spray pressure to ‘anti-ship beam’ since that’s the main selling point. Well, Natsu-san called me during the night with a slight smile in her voice and told me I can’t come home for three days as punishment. She even suspected it could take pictures. Honestly, she’s so cute!”

“Hm. Your point?” she asked expressionlessly.

He stared blackly at her, looked to the side, and lowered his shoulders in a sigh.

Finally, he stared off into the distance and spoke in an earnest tone.

“This workplace has grown so brutal over the past few months. Our boss is ignoring what her subordinates tell her.”

“You really are going all out with your lovey-dovey side. And you’re forcing your boss to listen to it.”

“I am not being lovey-dovey. It just so happens that subjectively explaining the situation makes me feel happy.”

“My sympathies. …Anyway, get to sleep. You’re Team Leviathan’s instructor, aren’t you? I hear you’re having difficulty putting together lessons recently.”

Kashima stood up when he heard that.

“I’m managing by including some of my own interests.”

He picked up his laptop and showed her the screen. The displayed window had a few spheres drawn inside it: ten small red spheres and one blue sphere.

He looked at the screen, smiled, and faced her.

“This is a simulation on the origin of the eleven Gears to confirm the meaning behind the Leviathan Road. The different UCATs have been researching this since World War Two and have achieved some results, but I doubt any of them know the answer. How the eleven Gears came about is still shrouded in mystery.” Kashima tilted his head. “Anyway, I heard they were leaving for a training camp.”

“They all left by helicopter at about three along with that boy named Hiba and that automaton named Mikage. They should have arrived above Nagoya at this point.”

“I see.”

“Are you interested in Mikage because of your grandfather and Susaou?”

He thought for a moment and eventually formed a weak smile.

“A little. After all, that Mikage was supposedly used to control Susaou. But I hear she doesn’t remember it herself, so I’m hesitant to ask her directly.”

“Yes, being considerate is a part of the job. Well, if you’re lucky, you might get a chance to ask.”

“Perhaps,” he said while looking at what she held.

Seeing those documents led him to ask a question.

“Are those documents for the training camp?”

“I’m not going along for that. As a director, I have the right to cancel.”

“But the Seto Inland Sea is where 3rd-Gear…”

“If it’s about my daughter, don’t worry. She wouldn’t get killed so easily. Plus, I think you’ll be more interested in this.”

She held up the documents so he could see.

“This is the report on the Georgius tests.”

Kashima pushed up his glasses, put his laptop under his arm, and stared straight ahead with a smile on the corner of his mouth.

“Nice. What did you find? What are its effects and its origin?”

“What do you think as someone who saw it firsthand when Yamata was sealed?”

“Its function is to amplify concepts, its purpose is to increase the power of concept weapons, and its origin is Low-Gear. Am I on the right track?”

“That’s a good question.” She gave a small smile. “You could be right and you could be wrong.”

“Why are you being so vague?”

“Because that’s all I can be.” She shrugged and her smile grew bitter. “I don’t know the answers. It didn’t react when I applied concept fields around it with the examination device. As far as I can tell, Georgius is nothing more than…”

“A glove?”

“Yes. What we saw for ourselves conflicts with the results of the tests.”

She had learned this after experimenting for the entire day.

She recalled Ooshiro’s face when he had agreed to lend her Georgius. There had definitely been a broad smile there.

He doubted I could learn anything.

And in truth, she had not determined Georgius’s identity. She had learned very little else, but one fact stood out.

“At the very least, Georgius is strange. When Totsuka sealed Yamata, Georgius emitted light and the sword’s power increased. And the same thing supposedly happened in the battle with 1st-Gear.”

“Yes, Gram was apparently given power when it was too weak to withstand Fafnir Custom’s attack.”

“If Georgius did those things, there has to be something there, don’t you think?”

Tsukuyomi pulled a specific page from the report.

As she held it out to Kashima, he looked at her hand before looking at the document.

“Director Tsukuyomi.”

Her right hand was wrapped in bandages up to the wrist and she laughed toward the white cloth that was faintly stained with blood.

“Ha ha. I should have known better. When I wasn’t finding anything, I tried it without thinking. I put away the machine covered in a special defensive concept and grabbed it with my bare hand to try and put it on.”

The result lay before them.

“Doctor Chao says it will take two weeks for a full recovery. She’s going to the training camp, so she won’t start truly healing it until she gets back. I’m going to have to go out for meals for a while.”

“I see,” said Kashima slowly.

Whatever he was thinking, he took the paper while looking at her hand and then lowered his gaze to the printed paper.

“Is this…?”

“Looks like an ECG, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” he agreed.

The paper contained rectangular waves running along a graph. Such a graph would normally have a lot more written on it, but this only had about three waves.

“But what are these occasional pulses?”

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“Check the unit of time.”

He looked above the graph and Tsukuyomi knew he would catch on if he was clever.

Sure enough, he frowned.

“What? One pulse at a rate of approximately eight hours?”

“Exactly. That is the faint vibration inside Georgius. Anyone who likes to jump to conclusions would say this means Georgius is alive.”

“…”

“Even in 3rd-Gear, some kind of internal mechanism is needed to supply a pulse to the metal parts. However, Georgius is nothing more than a leather glove and a metal chip and yet the pulse comes from both of them.”

Tsukuyomi did not know why that was, so she asked him.

He did not immediately reply but eventually spoke.

“It would be simpler to assume that Georgius is alive even so. If we cling to that theory and search deeper, we will at least know it is not alive if we find out we’re wrong.”

“Why do you think it is alive?”

This question received an immediate answer.

“It chose the one named Sayama as its master.” He took a breath. “What if that was not a setting and it wished for Sayama of its own free will?”

Tsukuyomi did not answer because she could not do so when she did not know the truth. He seemed to realize that because he lowered his head and apologized.

“Sorry, but to continue, Georgius was given to Sayama Mikoto by his mother. Can’t we assume it has a will of its own and was waiting for him?”

“Why do you ignore the possibility that it was set to do that and instead insist it has a will of its own?”

“If it was just a setting, it would only need to remain inactive when someone else wore it. However, it rejects others to the point of hurting them.” His expression was completely serious. “That is an action only taken by a being with a will of its own.”

“So you think so too?”

“What?”

His eyebrows rose in confusion, so she raised her right hand and snapped her bloodstained fingers to call him over.

“Come here. I think you’ll like this.”

She turned around and walked to her own desk.

It took only a few steps and the clock on the wall was approaching 4:10 AM. The time was likely drawing near.

“The night before I started the tests on Georgius, I set this up.”

“Wh-what is it?”

“I’m hacking into the deepest depths of UCAT’s databank. In other words, I’m illegally accessing the version of the Second Reference Room on the data servers. Only VIPs can view it and it contains the information on UCAT’s blank period, the Concept Cores, and the National Defense Department.” She smiled. “While investigating Georgius, I had some very limited access to that information in their examination room, so I used that as a way in from here. I have it set up to gather all the classified information at the core of the data servers.”

Kashima reacted after a short pause.

“Director Tsukuyomi, you’re betraying UCAT.”

“Are you going to stop me?”

“No, I just wanted to say that. Oh, and if anyone asks, this means I tried to stop you.”

She turned around in front of her desk and saw him shrugging his shoulders.

His expression softened and he sighed.

“This isn’t just about Georgius, is it? You’re trying to get information on the National Defense Department to help out Team Leviathan, aren’t you?”

“Well, if I take all the information, there’s sure to be some of that in there. And if I have it, I might as well hand it over to them.”

And, she said to herself. If I find data on UCAT’s blank period, I’ll learn about my husband.

“…”

She decided to leave her sentimentality until later and switched on the deactivated display.


Tsukuyomi looked toward the newly lit-up monitor.

A black window filled the screen and had several symbols and words scrolling across it.

Kashima smiled bitterly when he saw it.

“You’re using our hacking software ‘Genius Hacker Girl – Gomez’? That’s the nastiest one, but it’s a pain to use because all the settings are done with text commands.”

“Yes, but it can do the most and it’s pretty smart. When the development department was reorganized, some idiot went too far in a demonstration hoping to increase our budget.”

“They hacked into a certain country’s databank, checked to see if their Secretary of State wore a hairpiece, and added a protector to keep the data from being altered. They did it all without being noticed, but it caused a small commotion in that country when UCAT Director Ooshiro checked to make sure it was accurate.”

“It’s a good thing that country had a sense of humor. When the Secretary of State was giving his official response to the accusations, he said he would reveal their nation’s greatest secret and then removed his hairpiece.”

“I hear Gomez has been upgraded a few times since then.”

“This is Version 4. After all the work I’ve put into it, she’s like a child to me.” Tsukuyomi pointed at the screen. “Anyway, this is a map of the area around the protectors on the strictest portion of Japanese UCAT’s servers. We set up the foundations of this ten years ago, so we should be able to break through it even if I don’t know what kind of modifications the UCAT Director has added since.”

A pursuit at the speed of electricity was unfolding in the server space shown on the screen.

The hacking program would access the areas it had access to and attempt to continue deeper. Sometimes it would delete data, use that as a hole to plunge deeper, and restore the original data so as to cover its trail.

However, the firewall working to cut off the hacking program was also well made. It would constantly check for illegal access, but the scope of that checking would expand or contract so as not to put a burden on the server’s main functions. While tracking the hacking program’s movements, it would also work to detect the origin point of the illegal access.

The hacking program recorded every point it passed through and constantly recalculated the shortest route to use on its way back. The destination of that route was the origin point in question.

Recording that route was much like a homing instinct.

If captured, that origin point could be checked, so the hacking program would destroy itself in case of capture.

The pursuit continued in the electronic world where a single touch meant it was all over.

The standard setting Tsukuyomi had used was to prepare a single hacking program to reach the core of the servers and to send out a great number of dummy programs.

Too many dummies could trigger an emergency where all the servers shut down, so the number of dummies was monitored in real time and new ones were sent out with randomly set destinations.

“From the looks of it, a few million dummies have already been sent out and then destroyed.”

“It says here seven dummies have been captured.”

“Those ones had their origin point set to the general affairs and security divisions. This’ll cause them some problems, so we need to secretly give them some nice equipment.”

“I’d feel guilty if they thanked us for it, so let’s send it anonymously. …But what happens if they capture a dummy from our territory?”

“It’ll say Atsuta’s machine was doing it, so there’s nothing to worry about. If someone comes by, boot up his machine and deal with it. I’ll pretend to play a game or something.”

“Atsuta’s machine has the Heart Sutra for the wallpaper. Do I really have to boot that up?”

“Give it your best shot,” she said with a sigh.

Suddenly, the image on the screen changed.

The black window displayed a straight vertical corridor. The corridor was drawn with two green lines and looked like a cross section of a straw, but it was an abstract image representing the digital world.

“Here we go. It’s on the path to the core.”

The green lines were ten centimeters apart and the blue line indicating the hacking program was falling between them.

“That blue line is long. Are you sure you don’t have it recording too much of its route? How optimized is it?”

“I want it to take a few detours to lose pursuit on its way back. This was the limit.”

Several yellow lines cut across the green corridor to block the way.

Those were the firewall, but the blue line broke through them in an instant and continued on down.

The blue line opened a console and asserted its presence.

“I’m 2nd-Gear.”

Red dots flew up from below to intercept it, but it fired light blue dots and curves that destroyed all of the red dots.

“I see you’ve given it more attack programs. It only had the blaster and zapper when I was working on it.”

“That was to avoid a barrage, so it had to be flashy as well. Personally, I enjoyed it more back when you could still grasp the location of all the bullets.”

“The times are changing. I don’t like saying it like that, though.”

As they spoke, the blue line scattered light blue dots around itself as options.

An especially thick yellow line formed a door down below and one light blue dot flew over and destroyed it.

At that point, the screen suddenly went dark.

They had left the corridor, so the corridor opened like an upside down funnel and then formed a circle.

The blue line had entered a large circular space.

“This is the core.”

Enough red dots filled that space to completely cover the screen and a white sphere sat at the very center.

The blue line paid no heed to the red dots. It fired the light yellow dots while slipping past the mass of red dots to access the empty space beyond. That was a spot of safety, a place where no one would attack it, and a location where it could view all.

It circled around to check on the white sphere in the center.

The sphere was about five centimeters across and the entire circular space was about thirty centimeters across.

“That isn’t a space you want a fight in.”

As if to check on that space, the blue line circled the entire space while slipping past the pursuing red dots.

It finally arrived at a location ten centimeters directly below the white sphere.

“What will it do?”

As if to answer Tsukuyomi’s question, light came from the blue line.

A blue dotted line extended from the front of the blue line and toward the white sphere in the center.

That dotted line represented the predicted access route and a window opened for just a moment.

“Go ahead? Y/N.”

But they did not even have to press a key because the development department’s program was autonomous.

“Y”

A moment later, the blue line raced into the darkness.

As it did, the mass of red dots pursued.

The wave of red surged toward the blue line’s destination and the blue line threw light blue dots out like a spray to intercept.

The light blue spray cancelled out the red dots.

The silent disappearance of the two created an open space and the blue line continued into that darkness while showing no sign of turning back.

The red group arrived and more light blue splashed out at them.

The red and light blue vanished and the blue line continued forward through the darkness.

That collision and cancellation of color continued at high speed.

As it produced the instantaneous sprays of light blue, the blue line broke through the center of their afterimages.

That line raced toward the white sphere. Once it reached a distance of 64 pixels, the red group changed its tactic.

It formed a wall.

The red group realized it could not predict the blue line’s actions, so it tried to surround the white sphere and prevent access from any position.

In other words, UCAT’s core was being completely cut off.

The expected result of this action was displayed on the screen with a note in parentheses.

“Emergency (of the awkward variety).”

The server was being shut down.

The firewall represented by the group of red had determined that shutting its own system down was the only way to protect itself.

The wall of red approached completion, but the blue line did not hesitate.

It continued on its predicted path below the white sphere because that was the shortest route from its current position.

The line cut through the darkness in an instant and approached the red group attempting to set up a wall.

“!!”

It danced.

It quickly travelled to the all access points around itself and fired its attack programs around as it did so to make the red wall collapse.

The light blue spray collided with the red.

Without even checking on the progress of that attack, the blue line rebounded straight up toward the white sphere.

Just as it arrived, text appeared on the screen.

“Mission complete!”

The blue line fired a light blue line from either side of its body and those two lines formed a protective corridor that repelled the red group.

The blue line began quickly taking data from the white sphere and the light blue corridor displayed the rate of destruction at different points.

“It should hold up long enough to transfer out the data!”

Tsukuyomi watched the indicator on the monitor. A window divided into 100 segments slowly but surely informed her of the data transfer rate.

She gave the program further instructions.

“Skip the core’s dummy data!”

“Select option: call keyword.”

“What keyword should I use to trigger a skip?”

She thought for a moment, but Kashima reached over to the keyboard.

“18+.”

As soon as he hit enter, the speed of the indicator shot up. The blue line was no longer reading the dummy data and was quickly extracting only the important classified information.

Tsukuyomi sighed toward Kashima as he watched the monitor.

“Not bad. …Wait. Why does the core contain mostly 18+ data!?”

“You were only supposed to download a few files, but now you’re downloading all of UCAT’s core data, aren’t you? Will it all fit on your machine?”

“Of course not.”

“But the development department server is directly linked to the other servers, so they’ll have no problem catching us if you put it there. What are you going to do?”

“Don’t worry.” She nodded. “I’m encrypting it and sending it to every development department member’s machine. By my calculations, there should be enough space as long as I delete the unnecessary data on the machines.”

“I see. It is true our individual machines have our exclusive security on them, so no one outside the department can view them. …Wait, Director Tsukuyomi! My latest family movies are on my machine!!”

The monitor they watched displayed the layout of desks in the department. On the overhead map that displayed the partitions as white lines, Kashima’s desk was gradually filling with blue.

“Ahhh!!”

As he watched, his desk on the map grew entirely blue.

After a quiet chime, the data switched from his machine to the machine next to his.

“Ahh…” He fell to his knees. “I couldn’t protect my family…”

“C’mon, stop that. You need to distinguish between 2D and 3D.”

A moment later, noise filled the room.

The emergency alarm was going off.

“Eh?”

She checked the monitor, but the light blue corridor protecting the blue line had not been breached.

That meant the electronic battle inside the server had not been discovered.

In that case…

“This must be something else.”

Kashima stood up and an announcement explained the situation.

“Um, sorry to interrupt all of you working the night shift, but, um, this is UCAT’s security department. An intruder entered the first floor and, um, the security department did not arrive in time to stop said intruder from moving further inside. Um, we would like to ask all the standby members of the field operation department to assist.”

Muttering voices could be heard in the corridor as some people began to take action.

They could be heard shouting to each other and equipping themselves as a further announcement arrived.

“Um, this is the security department. We have more information on the intruder. Um, she is a girl. I repeat, she is a girl. Her beauty has been ranked Class A. We have a beautiful girl accompanied by a large number of dogs. It is a truly moving sight. Even if you have nothing better to do, please remain where you are!”

The voices in the corridor grew oddly bright and the noises grew even louder.


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