Owari no Chronicle:Volume7 Chapter 27

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Chapter 27: First Time Behavior[edit]

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This is your first time to be shown this

This is your first time to be seen like this

And next time…


The nighttime sea was illuminated by the lights on the beach and the occasional cooking fires.

Several silhouettes moved within the light and produced plenty of noise. The noise was made up of voices, crackling firewood, and sizzling oil on the steel plates placed over the fires.

Soon, one voice rose above the others. It was Kazami’s.

“Okay, this is Kazami Chisato of Team Leviathan and I think I’m going to signal the beginning of dinner. UCAT Director Ooshiro and Supervisor Ooshiro were supposed to be here, but one says he’s too busy developing some photos and the other says he doesn’t like sunny places.”

She wore a blue T-shirt and scratched her head in the center of the group.

She looked around and saw meat and vegetables covering the steel plates. Everyone already held chopsticks, forks, and plates of sauce, so their battle preparations were complete.

The steel plate for Team Leviathan’s boys was the most remarkable one.

Izumo was crouched down and smelling the meat with his face just off the surface of the plate.

Next to him, Sayama was trying to press his face down onto the hot surface.

“S-stop, Sayama-kun! Kazami-san will kill you!”

I won’t go that far. I’ll get as close as possible, though, mentally corrected Kazami as she looked at them and shrugged.

“Well, that also means we’re spared having those annoying and bizarre superiors here.”

She took in a breath.

“Now eat!”

The sudden movement set the air in motion and Kazami dashed over to her seat.

“H-huh? Kazami-san, why are you sitting next to Izumo-san? The girls’ spot is over there.”

“Ha ha ha. Shinjou-kun, commenting on her carnivorous diet is what will truly make her kill you.”

“Shut up.”

She wanted to point out that Shinjou was also here despite being a girl at the moment, but she held her tongue. Hiba and Mikage still did not know the truth about her.

She averted her gaze and called quietly to Shinjou from behind Izumo.

Shinjou turned toward her with some squash in her mouth and Kazami whispered while hiding behind Izumo’s back.

“What are you going to do about the tents? Hiba is with you, isn’t he?”

Shinjou was not joining the girl’s tent in order to keep her condition a secret. She would move to the girl’s tent only when going to sleep at night, but the timing would be tricky.

“At night, I’ll go for a walk to buy time until everyone falls asleep and then I’ll join you.”

“We have Mikage with us, so you’ll have to cover yourself with a sleeping bag.”

“We have no choice,” said Shinjou with a troubled smile.

Kazami wanted to say they did have a choice, but that was her own opinion and she kept it to herself.

She felt she had become more reserved around others recently.

Is that what it means to grow up?

She realized Sayama had grown sharper in his insight yet less piercing in his comments and Izumo had started talking about others.

I just hope I’m not letting my guard down.

She convinced herself she was fine as long as she continued hoping that.

She noticed Izumo speaking with Hiba who sat across from her. They were using gestures to indicate how they had given damage in the fight that day and to explain the most efficient ways of moving. Sayama did not seem to be paying attention, but he was almost certainly putting it all to memory. Shinjou simply seemed shocked at the depth of the conversation.

Maybe we can actually get along.

At that point, she heard someone stand up behind her.

“?”

She wondered who it was and Hiba answered from in front of her.

“Mikage-san.”

Kazami turned and saw Mikage walking away with a cane in one hand. She was walking toward the rocky area and the tents.

Hiba frantically stood up.

“Mikage-san.”

But she did not turn around. With her shoulders lowered a little, she placed a hand on the rocks, slowly raised her hips on top of them, and leaned forward as if to crawl.

Hiba started walking over.

“I thought not helping her was the key to her evolution,” said Izumo.

Izumo then grabbed his can of beer from the ground and closed his eyes. As he brought the can to his mouth, Kazami glared at him and elbowed his arm.

“Whoa! Y-you spilled it. What was that for, Chisato!? The foam is all over my crotch.”

“You can deal with your crotch on your own. …More importantly, that was just mean, Kaku.”

Hiba turned toward her with slightly raised eyebrows, but he soon gave a smile with lowered ends of the eyebrows. He looked to the darkness into which Mikage had vanished and shook his head.

“No, I was wrong this time.”

“She trusted in your strength.”

“Yes.” Hiba sat down and sighed. “But I really didn’t think I’d lose.”

“Don’t worry, Hiba boy. This guy is an abnormal life form.”

“I know, Sayama-san, but Typhon is abnormal too.” He lowered his head. “And if something like this happens in the future…”

At that point, he suddenly smiled.

He looked at everyone with that smile and reached his chopsticks toward the steel plate.

“But let’s not get all depressing. Let’s hurry up and eat the meat.”

“You need to discuss this.”

Those words caused Hiba to freeze and they came from Shinjou.

She tilted her head, set down her plate, and gathered her hands on her lap.

“Even if the meat burns, Izumo-san will still eat it all, so we can just cook some more for ourselves. If you have something to discuss, I think you should do so. After all, you…um…” She thought. “You don’t look like you have any friends.”

“Now you’re rejecting my entire personality!?”

“Don’t worry about it, Hiba,” cut in Kazami. “At any rate, if you’ve got something to say, then say it. These people may be insane, but they can keep a secret. Isn’t that right, Kaku? …Stop devouring all the meat!”

“Um, excuse me. Are you actually going to let me speak?”

Hiba raised his hand as he spoke and Kazami turned back toward him while holding Izumo by the collar.

Hiba faced her while lowering his shoulders and he placed withered cabbage on his plate as he spoke.

“All of you are letting the vegetables burn by not eating them. You shouldn’t let that happen.”

“Of course we should.” Izumo removed Kazami’s hand and rose up. “A stupid man who backs down before a single girl is violating the rules of nature. He should be castrated and executed.”

“H-how rude!” protested Hiba. “I may be stupid, but I want to stay a proper man!”

“Kazami, don’t you want to do something about these two that have what it takes to qualify as male but not as human?” commented Sayama.

Next to him, Shinjou looked toward Kazami and then closed her eyes and covered her ears.

“I-I won’t look or listen, so d-do what you have to, Kazami-san.”

Izumo and Hiba faced Kazami and exchanged a serious glance.

“We can discuss this later.”

“Sounds good.”

They shook hands across the steel plate.

Is there something wrong with me if I want to knock every single one of them to the ground? wondered Kazami.

But before she could think further, Izumo spoke to Hiba.

“Still, you went down fast in that battle despite talking so much about protecting her.”

“Kaku, you shouldn’t use yourself as a standard.”

“But I’m not even doing that. Hey, stupid Sayama, what would you do if someone was about to hit you?”

Sayama looked to Shinjou who had only just removed her hands from her ears. He took her hand and placed it on his cheek.

“Eh?” said Shinjou because she had not been listening.

“If it was Shinjou-kun, I might happily accept the blow.”

“Okay, you don’t get to talk anymore. Chisato, what would you do?”

Kazami thought about the question. She had received blows during battle in the past. Recently, she had started defending with G-Sp2, but when she could not do that…

“If I can’t block it with G-Sp2, I evade. I don’t have the same defenses as you.”

“But when Hiba took my first hit, he didn’t even try to evade. That’s why I could hit him with the second one right away. Why was that, Hiba?”

“Because…I thought I could keep going, but the hit was stronger than I thought it would be.”

“Here’s the thing, Hiba. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Do you know what it means if the hit was stronger than you imagined it would be? It means you have a weak imagination.”

Izumo scratched at his head and Kazami tilted her head.

Hiba had more combat experience than them, so he would naturally have more experience in taking damage.

But, thought Kazami just before Shinjou expressed the rest of the thought.

“Ryuuji-kun, do you not have much experience in being hit by attacks?”

She seemed hesitant to ask and Hiba immediately reacted.

He gasped and his expression changed from an exhausted smile to tension.

What?

Kazami looked to Izumo and found him taking this chance to devour the meat, so she threw a right hook.

“H-hey, Kaku. What does this mean?”

“…”

“C’mon, don’t go all silent like that.”

“C-c’mon, I was choking! Honestly, Shinjou is exactly right. Hiba has excellent instincts when it comes to making attacks, but he lacks the instincts for receiving them. And you know why that is, don’t you?”

“Yes.” He nodded, lowered his head, and bit his lip. “It’s Mikage-san.”

“Eh? Mikage? But why?”

“The damage to Susamikado is fed back to the pilot, but she takes it all on herself to leave me unharmed.” He let out a breath. “Izumo-san’s attacks were unexpectedly powerful because she would normally take the damage. The god of war lessens it somewhat with the armor and buffering devices, but she’s still taking that much damage. I do fight in the dojo, though.”

“And how many of the people in the dojo are using all their strength? You need to remember this. Your current method of attack is based on the damage going to Mikage, even though you don’t want to make that sacrifice. You claim to be protecting her, but what you’re doing just barely qualifies. If you were to die while trying to protect her…”

Sayama continued for him.

“Mikage-kun would die in his stead?”

That question brought silence and Kazami gave a small sigh.

So that’s it.

From Hiba’s perspective, he could not allow the enemy to injure Mikage, but it meant injuring her himself to protect her.

But from Mikage’s perspective as someone who could not speak or walk properly, taking on that damage was her one and only way of helping the person who was trying to protect her.

How awkward.

It was awkward, but she felt they both wished to show their concern in a precise manner.

She and Izumo were fine with injuring each other in battle as long as they won and survived. That was both awkward and imprecise.

However, not everyone was the same. It was possible their method could easily get them killed in some situations and she did not know what she would do if Izumo were to die.

For that reason, she said nothing about Hiba’s situation.

I’m getting cold feet. But still…

“Anyway, let’s eat to prepare for tomorrow.”

We can manage somehow or other.


A dimly-lit room was surrounded by thirty meter prefab walls and it had been dug down into oil-stained concrete. The depths of the hole were covered in shadow and something with a long, narrow form lay in the center.

Near the entrance, a passageway cut across above the hole. The suspended passageway was barely illuminated by the few lights on the ceiling.

A set of footsteps traversed that bridge-like passageway.

They belonged to Shino.

The metal passageway shook slightly as she walked across in a yellow dress and with a basket in hand.

She opened her mouth and spoke.

“It isn’t funny, Alex.”

“Regardless, becoming afraid of cicadas sounds exactly like something you would do.”

She was answered by a male voice produced by the speakers on the ceiling.

That voice she referred to as Alex laughed before continuing.

“At any rate, it is fortunate you were able to return. Even I was worried.”

“Oh, is that so?”

“You can ask Tatsumi. Mikoku was so worried she almost came back from Okayama.”

“She always worries too much. So is everyone in the back office?”

“If my holy memory is correct, three are in the nap room while the supervisor and one other are in the office. Should I activate my super search mode of justice?”

Shino stopped walking.

“Hmm. You probably should get used to using it, so I guess so.”

After only a short pause, Alex’s voice came from the ceiling once more.

“In the nap room, one is on the top bunk, one on the bottom, and one on the floor. They are all asleep. The one on the floor is saying ‘Akemi, that’s it for me. I can’t go on.’ The supervisor and Tatsumi are in the office. They are playing cards. What is a ‘kuitan’? Tatsumi is drinking what I believe to be an alcoholic beverage.”

“Hold it right there, Alex! Why are you eavesdropping on us!?”

A door on the back wall opened and let some light in. Tatsumi stood in the center of the rectangle of light with her hands on her hips. She bent back and took a drink from the paper cup in her hand.

“Do heroes of justice go around peeping these days?”

“No, Tatsumi-san. I told him to-…”

Shino hurriedly tried to explain, but Alex cut her off.

“This incident was entirely my doing. No responsibility lies with Shino.”

“Is that so? Alex, I see you’re an ally of little girls as well as of justice.”

“I-I am not a little girl!”

“You don’t get to say that after being too afraid of cicadas to come during the day! Thanks to that, I was forced to make everyone’s food. Honestly.”

She held the cup of alcohol in both hands and collapsed drunkenly to the floor.

The supervisor nodded while standing behind her.

“Try imagining how bad it was for those of us who had to eat it, Miss Tatsumi. Oh, and one other thing.”

He stuck a token indicating a bet into her hair.

“Don’t try to escape. This makes my bet 3000 yen.”

He grabbed the back of her collar and turned her around, so Shino frantically raised her basket.

“U-um, supervisor. I have the corrected version of dinner.”

“I’ll eat that later, Shino-san. Sorry, but just leave it there. By the way, I hear you had a rough time last night. Are you okay?”

“Yes. It traumatized me a little, but I should recover as I see all the dogs off. It sounds like Hajji’s intelligence team can use the information we brought back, but it has a concept barrier.”

“In my position, all I can do is tell them to hurry up. But if they do that, I promise you we’ll figure out what it means and either catch up to or reproduce the technology. You tell them to hurry it up too, Shino-san.”

“I will.”

The man nodded, reached for the door while dragging Tatsumi behind him, and then looked up.

“Shino-san, could you speak with Alex? This is a new body, so even an ally of justice is going to be worried.”

“I will,” she replied just as the door closed.

“They really are kind when it comes to you,” said Alex after a pause.

“Hm. I’m used to it, so it’s hard to tell.”

She smiled bitterly and ran over to the door. She placed the basket next to it and looked to the side.

Passageways surrounded the large hole in the ground and the lights were only located in the four corners of the ceiling. She looked to the right of the door and walked below the northwestern light. There, she tapped on the railing to her left.

“How is your new body, Alex?”

“I believe this will most likely be my final body.”

“Y-you can’t say things like that. We’ll defeat UCAT and then all be together.”

“You are a perceptive girl. I said the same thing to Tatsumi and she ignored me.”

“That’s because…”

Shino trailed off because speaking of a difference in thinking between her and Tatsumi would not accomplish anything.

After some hesitation, she gave a safe question.

“How are you feeling?”

“I have yet to reach a perfect state. A few modifications have yet to be done and it seems my armaments of justice will not be ready in time. I will be making an appearance during the attack tomorrow, but the biggest problem is that my paint job will not be ready in time.”

“Your paint job?”

“Yes,” said Alex. “An ally of justice must be dyed in more magnificent colors than anything else around. In my case, I will need the blue and red that point to my justice and freedom as well as some bright stars.”

“What difference does it make whether you paint that on or not?”

“Justice must be immediately recognizable as such,” he explained. “As soon as they see me, the people who tremble in fear will understand that justice has arrived. It will put their mind at ease when they realize destiny is on their side. I need an appearance that allows for that to happen.”

“So…it’s the same thing as full-body tights on a person?”

“Indeed. Those are such excellent outfits.”

Shino brought a hand to her forehead. She felt common sense had recently grown twisted in everyone around her. She wondered what to do, but forced herself to view it as nothing more than changing times.

“But if you join the attack tomorrow, won’t you be going out in the open?” she asked.

“Yes. To be honest, I will lack persuasiveness if I call on the name of justice while looking like this. Tomorrow, I will be limiting myself to sneaking out in this temporary form,” he said. “After all, this is my chance to use this body to soar swiftly through the sky.”

“You flew plenty of times in your previous body, didn’t you?”

“Not like this. This time, there will be no restrictions. This will be different from the test flights within concept spaces or the times Sir Hajji would bring me to troubled areas of the world to test my combat ability. From now on, I will soar through the one remaining sky of my own free will and in the name of justice.” He took a breath. “I must thank those who have helped me. Especially Tatsumi’s mother. To make up for the time with her that Tatsumi has lost, I must show my appreciation for the small bit of life she gave me. And I will do so by flying for the sake of true justice.”

“Hey, Alex. Can I ask a question?”

“What is it, Shino?”

“What are you fighting for?” she asked.

“To fulfill my justice.”

“Th-then…what is that justice?”

“Well,” he said powerfully. He then gave his answer through the speakers. “Listen, Shino. The justice I seek is a simple thing. To ensure the people of the world must not experience what I did, I shall save them, inspire them, and make sure they rehabilitate themselves.” He took a breath. “I am prepared to pour great effort and spirit into accomplishing that.”

His booming answer caused Shino to look up. She felt as if his voice were shaking her body.

“…”

After a short silence, she smiled and nodded.

“Is that so? Alex, I think much the same thing. And I’m sure Tatsumi-san and the others do too. So let’s do our best.”

She spoke those words toward the hole down below.

Her voice continued down to the giant form faintly illuminated at the bottom of the factory.

The oil-stained industrial elevator contained a steel-colored machine with a long body.

It was a mechanical dragon.


Sayama and the others’ meal came to an end.

They were all still hungry, but the meat had run out.

“Some continue to wield their weapons despite running out of ammunition,” muttered Sayama.

He was looking at the plates still in Izumo and Kazami’s hands.

When he turned to the right, Hiba nodded and shrugged. The fire below illuminated the boy.

“Do you think our grandparents did this kind of thing long ago? Have you heard what led the National Defense Department to realize the Concept War was going on?”

Sayama knew thanks to the documents he had read that day. Shinjou glanced over at him, but he did not turn to her.

It would be best to let him speak here, thought Sayama. That will let him fit in better.

Kazami tilted her head, put on some work gloves, and opened the container of rice.

“Was there some specific thing that made them realize?”

“You’re still not done eati- O-okay, I’ll answer, I’ll answer. U-um, they noticed when some of the ley line extraction facilities they built were destroyed. They thought it had been done intentionally, so my grandfather was sent to the different facilities for security. And when he arrived at the Okayama facility, he ran across a certain individual.” He laughed. “It was Siegfried Zonburg, advisor to the National Defense Department.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes. He had been given secret orders. He was to appear cooperative while actually monitoring their technology and destroying the facilities manipulating the ley lines near his home country. But something odd happened. A facility he had not touched was destroyed, and in a single night. It happened to the one in Okayama.”

Hiba looked up toward the sea. Shikoku was in that direction, but he only looked at the sea before turning back.

“From what I heard, my grandfather and Mr. Zonburg fought without bothering to ask any questions or give any explanations. However, they could not bring the fight to an end. They both knew the other’s ability a little too well. Even now, they sometimes talk over the phone. Anyway, something suddenly fell from the sky while they were fighting: a god of war and a dragon.”

“The god of war was the model for the one Sayama collected the day before yesterday, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. They were both dead, so they were gathered and studied. It was only once the National Defense Department used ley line extraction technology that they could detect concept spaces…and that was when they realized the Concept War was being fought here in Low-Gear. The other Gears did not like making battlefields of their own Gears, so they often chose this one as none of them cared if it was destroyed. Later, Mr. Zonburg discovered how to enter concept spaces and they managed to retrieve several pieces of wreckage and equipment from inside them. That was when the Concept War began for the National Defense Department.”

“E-excuse me,” interrupted Shinjou from next to Sayama. “Did Hiba-sensei tell you who was in the National Defense Department? And if so, was there someone named Shinjou?”

Her voice sounded calm enough, but the actual question was unexpected. Hiba must have sensed desperation in that question because he was slow to answer.

After a few seconds, he finally opened his mouth.

“I was only told that someone named Shinjou worked as the assistant of the National Defense Department’s leader.”

“I see…”

“I guess you already knew that. Um, can I ask something too?”

Everyone but Sayama frowned at that, but Hiba asked regardless.

“I occasionally hear about a group called the Army, but what is that? I’ve only fought 3rd-Gear.”

“That is a simple matter,” replied Sayama. “We have never seen them for ourselves, but it seems they are a group of survivors from the destroyed Gears who have gathered around 9th-Gear. It is also a relatively new group. This is only my guess, but I suspect they only came together once the concepts activated ten years ago.”

“Is that so?” said Hiba.

His shoulders lowered and this time Sayama asked him a question.

“Does something about that bother you?”

“Yes. Before he died, my father had the fake-sounding job of ‘monster slayer’ and he used a sword my grandfather got from a friend. …I was wondering if he was actually fighting the Army before they completely gathered together.”

He did not stop there.

“Also, that may explain something else. I mentioned it to Kazami-san and Izumo-san yesterday, but my stepsister Miki disappeared about eight years ago. I wonder if that also had to do with the Army. Oh, but I’m not just going to blame everything on the Army.”

“Yes. We know absolutely nothing about the Army’s actions or goals, so we should avoid jumping to conclusions. However, it seems certain that they do not like the Leviathan Road.”

Sayama had heard they were growing more active and they had also attacked UCAT early that morning. The attacker had apparently managed to escape, though.

“Hiba boy, let me tell you one thing. If you do defeat 3rd-Gear, there is a good chance the Army will target you.”

“I thought as much… There’s also a chance they’ll notice I’m with you like this. They probably won’t believe me if I insist I’m not working with you.”

“Will you start working with us?”

He did not answer, but he did close his eyes in a troubled smile.

Sayama nodded and decided there was no need to rush the boy to an answer.

As such, he crossed his legs and returned to the previous topic.

“I do wonder what the Army is and what they are thinking.”

“Eh?”

“Listen. They stole data from the core of UCAT and can likely use that to produce weapons. But what if they do so again after we complete the Leviathan Road with 3rd-Gear? They will receive complete information on gods of war. To prevent that, we must look at more than just the Leviathan Road.”

The others all looked up in surprise which made him a bit happy.

I am rejoicing at such a childish thing.

With that thought, he gave his prediction.

“If they truly intend to become our enemy, they should make some kind of move this time.”


A large white wall was colored by the dim light of the moon. It had windows at the top, but the bottom was taken up by a giant door. Based on the size of the windows, the door on the bottom was eight stories tall.

The windows reflected the light and singing came from within them, but not a single sound came from the giant door below.

There was motion to the side of the door as an elevator lowered from the emergency exit above.

The moonlight showed a woman with black hair and white clothing riding the elevator.

She held down the bottom of her outfit to fight the wind created by her descent and she spoke to herself with a smile in her voice.

“What are you doing, Miyako?”

As she looked to the night scenery of Kurashiki, the elevator came to a stop.

The elevator’s railing opened to the side and the console tilted its head. It was wondering how she had liked the ride, so she gently stroked the console.

“Wait here a bit.”

She had something to investigate.

She had hoped to check something with Apollo, but he had not shown up for dinner that night.

“Is there a basement?”

Even as she repeated the question she had been unable to ask, she was certain that one did exist. During the day, Moira 2nd had pointed to the floor after sacrificing herself to save Miyako.

Moira 2nd had since been taken to be repaired. According to Moira 1st, she would be as good as new once her body was replaced, but some adjustments would be needed and defects would likely show up.

“Once my middle sister is back, make sure to praise her instead of being worried,” Moira 3rd had said.

“I will,” Miyako had replied.

She repeated that while taking the first step now.

“I will.”

She walked toward the basement Moira 2nd had informed her of.

That did not mean entering the hangar beyond the door. From what she had seen during the day, there was no passageway leading underground inside the hangar.

And even if there is, Typhon will be guarding it.

Also…

“Moira 2nd was not in the hangar to begin with. If she came from the basement, she must have circled around outside first. And the hangar has no back entrance, so there’s only one likely place for an entrance to the basement.”

That would be the western wall of the building.

Why am I doing this? she wondered as she picked up her pace.

She had received some uncertain information from the automaton who had been completely unsociable up to that point. It was possible her pointing finger had been a complete coincidence.

“But it might not have been a coincidence.”

She recalled the smile on Moira 2nd’s face before she had been crushed.

That made up for being unsociable before.

Once she turned the corner, she would find the row of potted plants along the south side of the building. The maids who had taken those flowers’ names were cleaning on the upper floors. The singing from above was proof of that.

“They’re all working together, so I shouldn’t be down here acting on my own like this.”

She turned the corner and immediately found someone standing in her way.

“You.”

She knew the person very well.

“Moira 1st.”

“Yes, Lady Miyako.”

Moira 1st raised her skirt a bit, curtsied, and turned a smile in Miyako’s direction.

“Where are you going?”

“To the basement.”

“Would you like to explain why you are doing this without telling us?”

“Nope.”

Moira 1st tilted her head at that.

“Why would you say that? You are attempting to search out our Gear’s secrets without telling us. Does that not make you feel guilty?”

Miyako gave a quick answer to that: she laughed.

“Ha ha. No, it doesn’t, Moira 1st. Stop testing me already. I’m not afraid to do what I need to anymore. I want to know more about 3rd-Gear and I’m willing to force my way into anything as long as it isn’t personal.”

“Are you turning against us?”

“No, this is my natural right. And if you really have accepted me, then I have to be able to do this without saying a thing. If I feel the need to ask you about it, it means I don’t trust you. If we really do trust each other, we should be able to come to an agreement even if I force my way into something I shouldn’t have seen. We can agree to keep it a secret.”

She took a breath and stepped toward Moira 1st.

“If this isn’t a test, then move out of the way. There’s something I have to know.”

“Even if knowing it will lead to pain and fear?”

Miyako continued walking forward as she answered.

“If that’s what 3rd-Gear is, I have to know. Knowing is more important than pain or fear.”

“…”

“And afterwards, we can try to come up with a way to get rid of that pain and fear. You won’t say it, but I can more or less tell that 3rd-Gear strayed from the humane path even more than I’ve heard. That’s why you now treat people with almost excessive care. But you also think you can’t coexist with Low-Gear, don’t you?”

She now stood before Moira 1st.

“I may be stupid, but I can tell that much. And since I’m stupid, I still want to get along with you.”

As she spoke, Miyako gave a mental groan.

That sounds like something a teenage boy would say.

What she wanted to say was much simpler.

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“Move, Moira 1st. There’s something I need to see.”

As soon as she said that, sudden movement reached her body. It came from the unexpected action of another.

“!”

A resilient mass wrapped in cloth pressed against her cheek. Two objects that felt like slender resilient rods wrapped around her back and pulled her forward.

It took her a few seconds to realize Moira 1st had hugged her.

“Ah… Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I apologize, Lady Miyako. I cut off my shared memory, so do not worry.”

“What do you mean don’t worry?”

“This was on a whim.” Moira 1st laughed. “I apologize for pressing myself up against you, but this is the first time I have determined it would be best to leave all of my authority with someone else.”

“What?”

“As I am the leader, the standards for my decisions are set rather high when it comes to entrusting myself to another. That leads to a fairly large reaction when it does happen, so…well… I apologize.”

“You’re calling that rich boy pathetic while also secretly saying something pretty risqué, you know that?”

“A-am I? But even though I have made this decision for the lower maids before, this is the first time to do so for myself. Lady Miyako, I apologize, but please stay like this for a moment.”

Her tone made it clear Miyako’s opinion did not matter here. This was rare for Moira 1st.

She must really want to do this, thought Miyako. And I can’t let anyone else see this.

“Well, being the leader must be tough.”

“Thank you for your concern.”

Miyako heard another laugh and then pulled away from Moira 1st.

Her body has some hard parts, but she’s got pretty large breasts. If there was a mold for these maids, hers would probably be expensive.

While wondering if she had lost or not, she looked at Moira 1st. The maid had her eyes closed and almost appeared to be asleep.

Does she feel relieved?

That was the expression anyone, even children, gave when feeling relief.

If this is the first time this has happened…

Miyako recalled that Moira 1st was thousands of years old and felt she needed to say something.

“Well, it’s fine if…um…hm.”

How should I put this? No, it’s the attitude that matters.

She reached out her left hand and lightly embraced Moira 1st’s back. She felt the automaton trembling a bit, so she gently stroked her as if soothing a cat.

“You’ve been through a lot, haven’t you?”

While still stroking Moira 1st’s back with her left hand, she placed her right hand on the maid’s head. She felt it was a waste to place her fingers in that thin yet plentiful hair, but she stroked her head all the same.

“Whenever the stress builds up, you can come to me if you want. If you don’t, you’ll just keep wearing yourself out.”

“Yes.”

Moira 1st nodded and the strength in her arms lessened on Miyako’s back.

Is that all she needs to make up for thousands of years?

She almost asked if Moira 1st was holding back, but she stopped. If she asked that, Moira 1st would likely move away prematurely, so she instead kept her arm on the maid’s back and continued stroking her head.

“U-um, if you do this too much, it would not be fair to the lower maids.”

“I gave them names, but you three didn’t take one because you already had Moira as a name. You can think of this as a release to make up for that.”

“A release?”

“That’s when you finally let something out after holding it in for a long time. …And I don’t mean that in a dirty way.”

Moira 1st laughed at that and strength left her body.

She then moved away.

After taking a step back, her expression had returned to normal and she bowed.

“I apologize for letting you see something so disgraceful.”

“I’m always way more disgraceful than that,” said Miyako. “And more importantly, move out of the way. I’ve got somewhere to go.”

“I cannot do that.”

“Why not?”

Miyako frowned, but Moira 1st gave her usual smile.

“The door to the basement weighs five hundred kilograms. We can open it with our gravitational control, but can you do that without my help, Lady Miyako?”


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