Owari no Chronicle:Volume8 Chapter 17
Chapter 17: Meeting of Conflict
We meet again
We clash again
But that too is not new
The color green lay below the blue of the sky.
The green took the form of a slope and the slope was located above a great expanse of salt water.
It was an island.
The island was only about a kilometer long, had a small pier on the east side, and had no buildings. The outer edges were covered in grass and most of the upper area had a roof of trees.
The only boat at the pier was a small fishing boat.
A path leading up the mountain-like island continued west of the pier and three figures were walking below the trees on that mountain path.
The one in the lead was an animal.
It was a six-legged creature that was made up of green plants. A blue stone hung from a string around his neck like a collar and he quickly climbed the mountain path that had little wind.
Suddenly, the plant creature stopped walking and turned around.
The two open holes on what seemed to be his face turned to the two people following him.
One was what appeared to be a girl in a safari coat and the other was a boy in a blue suit.
The one in the suit brushed a hand through his slicked-back hair and spoke.
“Shinjou-kun, he looks like he’s asking if you want to take a break.”
“N-no, I’m fine, Sayama-kun. The shade of the forest has cooled things down.”
Shinjou loosened her safari coat’s collar, wiped sweat from her brow with a towel, and smiled.
She was different from usual. Her hair was tied back as she did for Setsu, but it was tied with a ribbon and her clothes were different.
“Did you choose the tight miniskirt to combine Setsu-kun and Sadame-kun today?”
“Yes. …Is it weird?”
She brought her hands to her shoulders and showed him her outfit, but he shook his head.
She breathed a sigh of relief and smiled again.
“Thanks. Things went well with Setsu last night while dressed as Sadame, so while dressing this morning, I thought it would be best not to distinguish between them so much.”
She gave a bitter smile.
“When I tied the ribbon in the bathroom, I thought of it as crossdressing, but that’s kind of weird when I use ribbons for Sadame’s hair all the time. …But I’m relieved to hear you say it isn’t weird.”
Despite smiling, her eyebrows were slightly lowered the entire time.
“We’re almost to the peak, aren’t we? Let’s hurry. I want to learn all sorts of things and I also want to stop by Izumo HQ to look for information on the Shinjou from the National Defense Department. And I’m worried about Okutama too.”
“Is that so?”
Sayama nodded toward the plant creature and the creature began walking once more. His rushing footsteps could be heard when he stepped on dried branches on the ground, but his gait was light as if he was enjoying it.
The two who followed him did not stop walking through the shade of the trees even as they listened to the occasional chirping of birds.
Shinjou let out a shallow breath of exhaustion.
“I wonder what the others are doing.”
“Izumo, Kazami, and the Hiba boy should be monitoring Harakawa’s apartment.”
“That’s not who I meant. I was talking about the people at school.”
She brushed a hand through her bangs which were plastered to her forehead with sweat and she looked at the plant creature walking ahead on the path. She then looked at the trees that seemed to be growing from a sea of underbrush.
“They would never imagine we’re in a place like this.”
While glancing around, she looked beyond the forest. Due to their elevation, the sea seemed to spread out down below and the tiny dots of boats were visible here and there.
When she looked even further, she saw land. That was the western coast of Kyushu.
While occasionally checking on her footing, she continued looking at the sea.
“I feel a little guilty for having so much fun in the middle of so much trouble.”
“No matter what happens in life, most anything can be settled by saying, ‘Oh, how delightful!’ ”
“Hey, I see some kind of big facility on the opposite coast. Do you think it’s a nuclear power plant?”
“Oh, how delightful!”
“I don’t think’s quite the right way to look at that.”
As the two walked, they quickened their pace to catch up with the plant creature. The path curved to the left and thus to the center of the island and the ocean visible through the trees changed. Shinjou spoke up with the chirping of birds overhead.
“Sayama-kun, do you think this path is ever used?”
“It seems Nagasaki UCAT maintains it and preserves the forest. The 4th-Gear reservation is up ahead, but a forest is needed as a foundation if the reservation is ever to be expanded.”
“I see,” she said with a nod.
She then saw something dark cutting across the path and jumped over it.
“Is that a water pipe?”
“I assume they are drawing fresh water from underground. That way they can cover the island in the damp environment 4th-Gear prefers.”
“That means the reservation is right up ahead, doesn’t it?”
As soon as she said that, the plant creature turned toward them up ahead.
And he suddenly vanished.
Just as Shinjou gave a quiet “ah” at that fact, she felt a vibration.
The watches she and Sayama wore vibrated and text scrolled across the dial.
—Plants are the rulers.
An instant later, they were surrounded by even more green.
They had entered the 4th-Gear reservation.
A wristwatch indicated the time was two o’clock.
The black watch was wrapped around a thick arm that was connected to a large body that was leaning against a tree.
Next to the watch’s wearer was a girl also hiding with her back against the tree.
She peered around from the right of the tree and saw the blue sky and slightly blurry white clouds.
“The gravestones block people’s view more than you would think. But you’re tall, Kaku, so be careful.”
“Sure, but I didn’t expect them to be visiting a cemetery. Chisato, which one of them do you think wanted to have a date here?”
Izumo peered around the tree on the opposite side from Kazami.
The two of them were watching two other people walk between the orderly rows of gravestones.
One was a black-haired boy in a school uniform and the other was a blonde girl in a hoodie.
“Kaku, is that blonde girl Heo? She looks like the girl in the photo.”
“That’s a good question,” said Izumo noncommittally. “She is looking around curiously while he isn’t. I know what makes people act like that because I did it myself once. She’s not used to Japan.”
“Harakawa is checking that sign for the cemetery’s map. It looks like they’re headed to the foreigner area.”
“Does that mean the Harakawa or Thunderson family has a grave here?”
Izumo’s suggestion caused Kazami to stop moving.
She narrowed her eyes and stared at Harakawa and Heo as they walked between the gravestones. She then tilted her head.
“They have too many flowers.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are two containers for flowers at the grave. One on either side. But they have two flowers each.”
“They might be visiting both the Harakawa and the Thunderson graves. What do you think?”
“I’m not sure what to think. It could be a coincidence and it may have some kind of meaning, but I don’t know what that meaning is. Either way, this means both of them have a parent buried here.”
“Yes…you’re right. Maybe we’re overthinking this?”
Kazami spoke aloud and nodded as if trying to convince herself.
After a pause, she nodded again, but she grabbed G-Sp2 from where it was leaning against the tree. She took a step forward and away from the tree, but Izumo called out to her.
“They’re going to move out of sight if we don’t move. Stay low and follow me.”
“If you insist,” said Izumo as he crouched down.
He grabbed V-Sw from the tree and soon made his way to her.
He glanced at her for a quick moment and then back at the two backs moving away.
“Chisato, you might’ve been onto something just now.”
“In what way?”
“My grandfather’s grave is up ahead too.”
She frowned at that and frantically looked around.
“W-wait a second. I need to buy some flowers for him and greet him. Um, what does your grandfather like? Porn magazines?”
“Chisato, make up your mind whether you’re gonna be polite or rude. But yeah, probably porn magazines. I’m sure he’d love it if we opened one and propped it up against the next grave up so he could look at it. …Anyway, can we get back on topic?”
“Sure. You were saying?”
She held her spear under one arm and began counting the contents of her wallet, but Izumo continued regardless.
“Not only is my grandfather’s grave up ahead, but so is Sayama’s grandfather’s, the Ooshiro family’s…and probably the Hiba family’s too.”
Kazami’s expression and the hand in her wallet both froze.
She also stopped walking, so Izumo did as well. She glanced toward Harakawa and Heo to make sure she would not lose sight of them and then looked back at Izumo.
“What does that mean?”
“It means all those perverted old men are competing together for pervert supremacy in the afterlife. It seems a section of this cemetery is used for UCAT members after they die,” he explained. “But the old Thunderson still hasn’t been placed in the Thunderson grave and what about Harakawa? If his grandfather or grandmother had been a part of the original UCAT, we would’ve seen his name in the documents the military god papa gave us. In that case, it must be a parent of his that’s in the Harakawa grave.”
“The Harakawa and Thunderson parents? Why would they be in a cemetery for UCAT-…”
Kazami trailed off, glanced back and forth as if checking something, looked down, and finally returned her gaze at Izumo.
“Kaku, can I make a prediction?”
“Sure. My prediction for our future is two kids and a giant house.”
She took G-Sp2 from under her arm and spun it around a little to take care of that, but the concern remained in her expression even as Izumo collapsed.
“What if it’s the people who died in the secondary damages of the Great Kansai Earthquake? That could explain the graves from their parents’ generation.”
“It is possible their parents were in UCAT back then.” Izumo got up and brushed off the dirt. “But it’s a pain how so many mysteries are popping up. I wish we could’ve told Sayama this last night.”
“He and Shinjou are going to the IAI headquarters in Izumo, remember? My dad’s there and he should know just about everything. If they strangle him and have him spill the beans, it would solve everything.”
“Um, Kaku?” Kazami lowered the ends of her eyebrows but still smiled. “I’ve only spoken with your dad that one time two years ago, but I doubt he would say anything even if they strangled him.”
“You’re taking his side?”
“In a roundabout way, I was complimenting you.”
Bitterness entered her smile and she brushed some dirt off his shoulder.
“Anyway, let’s see where those two are headed. We can talk after that.”
Izumo raised his hips and Kazami did the same.
Harakawa and Heo had grown more distance and Izumo and Kazami stood up some because they doubted the other two would notice and because they wanted to hurry up and get closer.
But they soon noticed someone else standing on the next row of gravestones.
It was likely someone visiting a grave, so Kazami lowered her head a bit and pushed the back of Izumo’s head so he would do the same.
The other person also nodded and then their gazes met.
Kazami realized there was an entire group beyond the row of graves.
Most of them wore blue armored uniforms beneath their suits and they had machineguns hidden inside their bouquets of flowers.
In the lead was an elderly man in a suit and…
“Roger Sully!!” shouted Kazami.
After a moment, Roger looked up in surprise.
“Why are you here!? Are you here to do perverted things in the graveyard!?”
“Who are you calling perverted!? And I see that look on your face, Kaku, but stay quiet!”
She ignored how Izumo timidly stuck his right thumb in his mouth and she quickly held up G-Sp2.
Meanwhile, Roger and the others took a large step back and similarly prepared for battle.
The wind blew in and the sunlight passed through the clouds while the elderly man raised his right arm and spoke to Roger.
“Roger, Roger. Who are these two? I remember seeing one of them this morning!”
“Testament. Colonel Odor, they are a dangerous pair. After all…” He took in a breath. “When I gave them a dream yesterday, both of them independently began a one-man kissing and groping scene!”
“Y-you don’t have to get into so much detail! And Kaku, this is not the time to ask me if it’s true!”
“Roger, Roger. These are students yet they were making out? Japan truly is a depraved country!”
Kazami fired while making sure not to hit any of the gravestones.
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