Owari no Chronicle:Volume8 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Confirmation of a Word
And to speak
A single word
I hid and let spill so many feelings
A certain room overlooked the ocean.
The window gave a view of a vast bay underneath the late-afternoon sky.
The room itself was divided into two spaces of ten square meters each. The bedroom space by the window had a desk and a double bed while the living room space by the entrance had a tatami mat floor. The bath and the entrance to the shared bathroom were located next to the door.
“But it seems we can use the 24-hour underground hot spring, Shinjou-kun.”
The boy placing his travel bags next to the living room table spoke and received a reply.
“Wow, this bed is amazing. I bounced back up just from sitting on it. Look, look, Sayama-kun.”
Shinjou had placed her travel bag by the bed and was checking the bed’s springs.
“Ha ha. I feel kind of bad doing this while working on the Leviathan Road, but I never thought we would get to stay in a hotel like this. Not to mention that this is my first time travelling as far as Kyushu.”
“Did UCAT not have company trips?”
“You already know about the summer training camp, but they also had one at the end of the fiscal year. They would have an Izu dancer training camp or a snow tunnel escape training camp. I never went because I didn’t want anyone to know about my condition, though.”
“Based on the names, I think you were right not to go, Shinjou-kun.”
“You’re probably right.”
She smiled, got off the bed, approached the window, and picked up the guest tourist pamphlet placed on the bed’s pillow.
“I never thought my first trip would be to Nagasaki. I thought our senior trip would be my first.”
“I see. Perhaps I should have invited you somewhere before now. It never even crossed my mind.”
Sayama crossed his arms and nodded, so Shinjou frantically shook her head.
“It’s fine, it’s fine. You don’t have to worry about that. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of chances for trips in the future and there’s still a lot we have to do. There’s also the money. Also, I’m glad my first outing like this could be with you. No one would ever guess the two of us were on a trip toge-…”
Despite sounding so excited, she suddenly stopped and her expression froze.
“We left the dorm and school with our luggage, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we left while greeting the students preparing for the athletic festival. What about it?”
“There’s probably a good chance that rumors about us might be perhaps spreading through the school right now!!”
Hearing that, Sayama pulled a calculator from his pocket and pushed a few buttons.
“Probably, a good chance, might be, and perhaps. If I multiply them together as 90% each, that drops the total odds down to about 66%, Shinjou-kun.”
“But unfortunately, that’s still over 50%, Sayama-kun. And I’ve heard rumors that you’re smart, but can I mentally deny them?”
“Heh heh heh. Shinjou-kun, any intellect measurable on the standard scale is no match for me.”
He pulled up a rocking chair from the desk and sat in it. He looked to the same sea Shinjou was watching, looked down to the harbor and city, and finally looked to Shinjou herself.
“What do you think of the view? I think this was a nice room that happened to be vacant.”
“I have a feeling you’re hiding a complaint, but yes. This hotel is connected to IAI, isn’t it? It’s fun seeing everything from seven stories up and the wind is nice.”
“Indeed. If there was a fire, there would be no saving us.”
“Stop trying to make this more exciting than it is. …Anyway, it’s nice how the airport is close by, we can reach the city easily, and we can see the ocean.”
She looked past the bay and to the few islands visible on the boat-filled sea.
“This is nice. The Seto Inland Sea was good too, but this has a different feel to it.”
“Well, most of the islands you can see here are just as empty as the ones in the Inland Sea. But you can see the Goto Islands there and far beyond them but out of sight is China.”
“4th-Gear’s reservation is on one of the desert islands, isn’t it?”
“I believe its island is not visible from here. We have to take a ship from Nagasaki Harbor to reach the IAI-owned island. I believe the IAI ship is set to leave first thing tomorrow morning.”
“So we’ll be going out to sea.”
“The Seto Inland Sea was your first time on the beach, wasn’t it? So will this be your first time out on the ocean?”
She nodded while looking out the window.
“Yes. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean. Izumo-san swam in it last night, though.”
Hearing that, Sayama replied in agreement toward her back.
…Although you call that being “swept away” not “swimming”. But who cares about Izumo.
After he gave a nod of deep emotion, she took a step away from the window, sighed in satisfaction, and turned toward him.
“But we only got a chance to see this scenery because we got here so early.”
“Let’s wait a bit before heading out. A Nagasaki UCAT employee is supposed to bring us a communicator to contact the new headquarters in Okutama. It will apparently take some time to get here, though.”
“I see. Well, I suppose work does come first.”
She nodded and slowly walked toward him and his rocking chair.
She then sat down on his lap.
Her warmth, her softness, and the weight supporting them reached him through the double skirt.
When Sayama heard what Shinjou said, he nodded.
“Yes. There is a lot I want to say, but how about you go first, Shinjou-kun?”
“Sure.” She gently rested her hair and back on his chest. “Um, thank you for last night. You put up with it even when I said something strange, made an impossible request, and then started crying.”
“I did. I know it’s impossible and that you lied when you said you could do it. It may be a little conceited, but I think it’s partially my fault that you had to tell that lie.”
Sayama recalled the conversation from the previous night.
How was Shinjou to have a child when she belonged to a race that switched between male and female at a set interval?
Everything might work fine while she was female, but what happened when she became male? She had also once said that she did not belong to any known race.
…That means she might be a unique product of crossbreeding between two races.
He could also think of several other possibilities such as human experimentation and the effect of some form of concept.
But no matter how much they looked into the cause, it would not change the fact that she belonged to a race that switched between sexes.
That was why she had spoken out about her worries and then cried.
“Of course you are. You are wonderful.”
“This might be a mean question, but…do you know something?”
“I do. I know that everything about you is wonderful. Am I wrong? That is the main tenet of Shinjou-ism.”
“Then let me teach you the main tenet of Sayama-ism: this isn’t a joke.”
Her shoulders shook a little and she smiled. In order to keep that trembling inside her, Sayama lightly embraced her from behind.
“Let us get right to the point. Do you think you can never have a child with me?”
“Eh? Um…u-uh, well… If we aren’t going to read too deeply into what that means, yes.”
“Good. Now let me rephrase my answer from last night: that is not a problem, so do not worry.”
She gasped and turned toward him. Her long hair twisted and her eyebrows were lowered.
“O-of course it’s a problem.”
“Have you ever tried it?”
“B-but I still haven’t had my period and the boy side isn’t working either.”
“What if it simply takes longer for you? Or what if you still have issues with your body?”
To tell her to calm down, he gathered strength in the arms embracing her and gently moved the rocking chair.
“You dressed like this today, but was that because you think you still have issues with Setsu-kun’s body and want to remain as Sadame-kun as much as possible? But no matter how you dress yourself up, there are times when you are a boy, Shinjou-kun.”
“I know what you want to say and this may be a step forward in a certain way.”
She looked up in confusion, but he returned her look with his usual expressionless face.
“Before, you hated your body itself and tried to stay as Sadame-kun for my sake. But now you prefer Sadame-kun because there is something you want to do. That is a major step forward. So listen. I will now resolve some of your unease.”
And he did so.
“3rd-Gear has technology for in vitro fertilization as well as cloning technology. You may not be able to carry the child yourself, but that technology will still allow you to have a child. That possibility is available to us now that 3rd-Gear has joined us.”
He heard Shinjou gulp and felt her hold her own body within his arms.
He then embraced her even more and continued rocking the chair.
“You are perfectly capable of rocking a cradle like this. We only need to take an egg cell from you, or – if that isn’t possible – modify one of your cells into an egg cell. So until we decide to do that, how about you try to do it on your own?”
“Do you still not understand?” Sayama shrugged. “The worry behind your tears has already been solved by the Leviathan Road. All that remains is to continue trying to see if you can do it without relying on that technology.”
Sayama’s words filled the air and time passed.
Shinjou took several breaths on the slowly moving rocking chair and then opened her mouth to speak.
She sounded hesitant and troubled.
“C-can I really trust in that and test myself?”
“You can. At any time, at any place, and in any way. Right?”
She nodded and formed a slightly crumpled smile.
“Yes, that’s right. I can continue testing myself at any time, at any place, and in any way.”
However, her head shot up and she frantically turned toward Sayama.
“D-did I just fall for a dangerous leading question!?”
“Oh? What ever are you talking about, Shinjou-kun?”
“Y-you asked me if I would test myself at any time, at any place, and in any way. Th-that’s leading me into accepting all sorts of kinky things!”
“You say some funny things, Shinjou-kun. Ha ha ha. It takes an amusing person to refer to an ethical truth of the universe as a leading question.”
“Stop lifting my skirt while you say that!”
He answered her shout of protest with a deep nod of understanding.
“Then I will do so silently.”
He bared Shinjou’s legs and gave a cry of admiration.
Shinjou frantically tried to twist out of his grasp, but…
“Wait, Sayama-kun. Stop making me straddle you.”
“Do not ask the impossible. Also, I believe it was you that did that.”
“That’s because my stockings slipped on my skirt and my feet aren’t reaching the ground.”
“I see. So your skirt is in the way. Such a naughty skirt. Allow me to take care of it.”
With a sigh of exasperation he sincerely lifted it up to her stomach.
“Now, that should make it easier to move your- gh. Wh-why are you elbowing me, Shinjou-kun?”
“It’s strange how I feel like I did something wrong when you ask so seriously.”
As Shinjou spoke, Sayama gently twisted her skirt into place and embraced her from behind once more. She trembled a bit and twisted her shoulders around to face him.
“Um, Sayama-kun? I-it’s not even five yet.”
“Listen carefully, Shinjou-kun. We have been too busy to do this sort of thing lately and I have a certain thought. Out of her dislike for Setsu-kun, Sadame-kun gave him her hairstyle and clothes, but in a way, could that be a form of Setsu-kun that Sadame-kun is more comfortable with?”
“When testing Setsu-kun, it was almost always in the school uniform, but that may have been a mistake as it emphasized that it was him. Perhaps it would be better to do it in an outfit that you are comfortable in no matter the situation. Also, this is not the dorm room in which you originally showed your resolve. In a way, it is a place of comfort because you will never return here, so try to relax.”
“But Setsu is…”
She began to speak but stopped.
Sayama thought on the continuation of that sentence.
…Does she still have a problem with Setsu-kun?
As he thought about what lay within her mind, he asked about it.
“Is there a problem with Setsu-kun? Is it about having a child or that he is a boy?”
It took her a fair amount of time to answer.
What is it? he wondered about her.
At the very least, he felt he had answered the questions concerning Setsu that she had mentioned.
…But what is it this time?
What he had to do was simple.
…I can do nothing but trust in her.
He grabbed her shoulders, squeezed, and then embraced her slender body once more.
She took in a breath before speaking.
She took in a few more breaths and moved her lips to test the words she was about to say.
She gently held her own body within his arms. She grabbed her elbows, held her sides, held the bottoms of her shoulders, and shrank down.
Her voice trembled.
“Do I really not have to worry? Will it really be okay?”
After taking a breath, Shinjou spoke again and her voice was quieter this time.
“What is this fear I feel about being Setsu? It’s there, I still feel some unease, and I want there to be more, but…” She shook her head. “Can I really believe at least a little bit that I don’t have to worry about that?”
Sayama felt her relax in his arms and heard her let out a breath.
He felt a trembling heat in the soft back he embraced.
She then nodded and the hair that held a trace of her body heat shook between his chest and her back. After nodding a few more times, she quietly but firmly spoke.
“Will we really be able to use 3rd-Gear’s technology?”
“If you are worried, you can ask the automatons about it. They will do everything they can to serve people.”
“Then… I can have a child even if it won’t be with my actual body? I can do that?”
“I can rejoice about that?”
“You can, but that is only the bare minimum of joy. If you test yourself and it goes well, you can rejoice much, much more.”
She let out a sigh as she curled up her back and sank into his chest.
As she entrusted herself to him, he rubbed his cheek against hers from behind.
She then lowered her cheek in a nod.
In response, he slowly lifted her skirt back up.
He lifted it above her knees and then exposed everything from her gently spread legs to the bottom of her stomach. Before she could change her mind, he reached for her white underwear and gently lowered it down to her knees. With a shriek, she hid her cheeks behind her hands.
While making sure not to interfere with that movement, he lifted one of her knees and removed the underwear from that leg.
“Um, Sayama-kun?” she said with heat in her voice. “Th-this is embarrassing.”
“It is all over for someone if they forget their shame, Shinjou-kun.”
“I suppose someone who long since travelled that road would know.”
“Ha ha ha. Now, let us continue.”
“This is hardly new, but what you’re saying doesn’t follow from what I said. A-also…”
She looked forward through the gaps between her fingers.
“Aren’t you going to close the window?”
“What are you talking about, Shinjou-kun? You need to show off your newfound self to the world.”
“You can do that on your own. W-wait. Stop kicking the chair and move away from the window. It’s too soon for me to try exhibitioni- Ahh! This is way too close to the window!!”
“Calm down, Shinjou-kun. We are on the seventh floor. No one can see us from outside.”
“A-are you sure?”
“I am, Shinjou-kun. You would have to be flying through the sky to see us. …Oh, look. An airplane.”
“They can see from the airplane!!”
“Just calm down, Shinjou-kun. Please trust me.”
“R-really? That won’t be easy given your previous offenses.”
“I will admit I have been rude to you on occasion, but try to remember when we first met. My behavior towards Setsu-kun was immaculate.”
“I just remembered that immaculate record began with you pressing your ear against my chest and then pulling on me while saying nonsense in the bath. The trauma’s coming back!!”
Sayama continued regardless.
“Quiet down and stop trying to close various things, Shinjou-kun. I have no proof, but I have a feeling things will go well today. How about you?”
“W-well, I feel like it might work today, too. This isn’t the same as the usual dorm room and my worries from before are gone.”
Her tone lowered as she spoke and Sayama smiled at her.
“I see. If this will go well, then perhaps I should call the lobby and put in an advance order for sekihan.”
“Y-you don’t have to do that. I’d rather this be our secret.”
Such lovely words, he thought while gently rocking the chair once more.
She spread her legs to balance herself and he raised his knees.
With his knees pressing up against her butt, she further spread her legs and he placed the backs of her knees over the arms of the chair. He brought her stockings to a position they could safely slip from and she brought her hands to her face.
“What is it? I do not have time to deal with jokes right now.”
“That’s my line!! U-um? Will you please listen to me?”
She bent backwards to press her forehead against his neck and she took a breath.
“You always stop when I’m about to cry, don’t you?”
“You do.” She blushed and lowered her gaze a bit. “But don’t do that today. Sometimes, I wonder if it would go better if you showed less restraint because of me.”
“I see. Then today is a day for both of us to face our problem areas.”
She gave a small smile while still blushing.
“Ah,” she said when he touched her hand. “U-um? Can I ask something else?”
“What is it?”
“Well,” she said with her hands on her cheeks. “You’re recording this, aren’t you?”
Izumo and Kazami travelled east along a road that ran along the JR Itsukaichi Line that existed between Harakawa’s apartment and Taka-Akita Academy.
To their right were a guardrail, a small embankment, and the railroad track. To their left was a field. The only other things around were the evening sun and the cool wind that carried some sand in it.
Izumo kept the motorcycle engine on, but he held the clutch and moved the vehicle forward by kicking off the ground. A sign by the field gave the speed limit, but he was moving the motorcycle well below that.
He called behind him where Kazami sat on the motorcycle.
“Come to think of it, we ended up skipping school today.”
She looked up into the sky and gave a short groan.
“Well, that may be true. We can try getting Ooki-sensei to work something out for us tomorrow.”
“No, let’s not do that. Cheating isn’t gonna help.”
He spoke lazily and she agreed with her eyebrows lowered in a smile.
He suddenly stopped moving and turned back toward her.
“Chisato, why did we stop keeping an eye on that Harakawa guy’s place and start wandering around?”
“Hm? Oh, there was something bothering me. And I don’t think I was wrong.”
“Did something happen? Not that I see any reason to keep an eye on a figure-obsessed guy’s apartment.”
“Wait a second.” Kazami leaned up against his back and tilted her head. “U-um, Kaku? Do you really think that stuff about Harakawa having a figure is true?”
“Yeah. You saw that women’s underwear, didn’t you? He’s doing the same thing Old Man Ooshiro did for a while.”
“But don’t you find it odd that a boy on Ooshiro-san’s level lives so nearby?”
“Chisato, UCAT has a lot of people on the same level as him. They just have different tastes.”
Crap, that’s actually a good point, she thought.
“Oh, but that Harakawa isn’t in UCAT.”
“Sayama didn’t used to be either. Strange people have the talent from the beginning. I know it can be hard for normal people like us to understand, though.”
“Yes. Sometimes I have difficulty keeping up with them. Anyway, Kaku, you’re making a decent argument, but I think it’s a little different this time.”
“You do? Then I guess it is.”
“Why did you change your mind so quickly?”
“Because you don’t lie,” he answered with a serious expression.
“That’s not true.”
“Then maybe you deceive me out of concern for me and I don’t realize it. But if so, that kind of lie isn’t gonna harm me, so there’s no problem. Anyway, you think there’s something more to this Harakawa, don’t you?”
She gave a mental nod to his calm question and shook her hair in the chilly wind that carried an earthy scent.
“What he’s hiding is one of the reasons I said to leave his apartment.”
“If it isn’t a figure, what is it? Did he abduct someone?”
“Please don’t say something I could hear Sayama saying. Although that might be it.”
She stepped down from the motorcycle and spoke in the opposite direction.
“Basically, we have a guest. Isn’t that right?”
A man in a gray suit stood behind them on the road lit by the evening sun.
He was tall and his face and hair pointed to a certain fact.
“He was watching us from near the apartment. I thought he might need something, so I had him come here. It took some time before he showed himself, though.”
The man bowed and formed a smile in the eyes behind his glasses.
“Thank you very much for taking this outside of the public eye. My name is Roger Sully.”
Roger spoke in English and Kazami frowned.
“What did the foreigner say?” asked Izumo.
“He said, ‘I’m Roger Sully and make sure you remember it, idiot.’ ”
“I did not go that far.”
“Wait!” shouted Izumo. “So you can speak Japanese!?”
Roger narrowed his eyes further.
“I see, speaking in Japanese will work better. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am the assistant inspector from American UCAT.”
Kazami frowned at that and partially removed her hips from the motorcycle seat.
“A pleasure to meet you too. I am honored that American UCAT’s inspector would go out of his way to greet us.”
“As assistant inspector, I felt I had to greet the two who wield Concept Core weapons.”
Kazami’s frown became a smile.
She had referred to him simply as an “inspector”, but he had reiterated that he was the “assistant inspector”. That meant she had not misheard and he had not misspoken. He did indeed have a full inspector above him.
…And his refusal to abbreviate the title means his organization is strict about rank.
She had heard that American UCAT was primarily made up of people from the American military. If he was the same and he would not use the same term to refer to both his own rank and his superior’s rank…
…His superior must have the skill befitting the role of inspector.
He had likely used a spy satellite or American UCAT personnel to find the two of them.
Roger then asked a question.
“What are you two doing out here today?”
“Well, there’s a student who isn’t showing up to school and his homeroom teacher asked us to urge him to attend. However, he refused to come out, so we have to wait until tomorrow to try again.”
She was not lying and she interpreted his nod as evidence that they had not yet located Heo.
Realizing she had the advantage here, she relaxed a bit.
“But the Leviathan Road negotiator seemed to be with you,” pointed out Roger.
“Yes, the student in question is his classmate.”
As she spoke, she thought about whether she should tell the man what Sayama was doing and whether she should approach or avoid the information about Heo. Telling him about Sayama would likely satisfy him, but making Sayama’s actions sound too important could make him question the visit to Harakawa’s apartment.
She weighed the benefits and the dangers and spoke.
“But Sayama had to leave partway through for the Leviathan Road.”
“Is that so?” Roger bent back a bit and smiled. “Thank you for the wonderful piece of information. Yes, this means American UCAT must negotiate with Japanese UCAT as planned.”
“What kind of negotiation?”
“Nothing violent, I assure you. We will merely be carrying out the wishes of Mr. Richard Thunderson.”
“Yes. The reason he came to Japan. Surely you did not think he would be making the Leviathan Road run more smoothly, helping you escape the restraints of American UCAT, or introducing you to your negotiation partner, did you?”
They had thought all of those things.
This is bad, thought Kazami while no longer smiling. Something dangerous is happening here.
…What is this?
American UCAT was plotting something. As she wondered what, she lowered her hips into a defensive stance.
Before she could finish speaking his short name, Izumo had stopped the motorcycle and moved next to her.
Meanwhile, Roger brushed a hand through his hair and continued smiling.
“Now this is a problem,” he said.
“Is it? All I did was put up my guard. What happens now is up to you. Tell us what you’re after and why Richard Thunderson came to Japan.”
“I believe those are things I should tell the Leviathan Road negotiator.”
“Then think of this as us getting the answer out of you with a more physical form of negotiation. Got it?”
“Is that so?” Roger lowered his head a little and wrinkled his brow despite still smiling. “Then you are a little too used to peace.”
Kazami frowned at that and the wind blew through.
In that vast flat area of land, the dry wind of approaching autumn carried the scents of evening and the field.
“Hey, Chisato. I can see your panties because the wind is blowing up your-…”
She threw an elbow, but Izumo did not collapse. While she wondered if she had gotten a poor angle, Roger removed his hand from his hair.
As she wondered what he would do, he snapped his fingers.
She then heard a metallic sound from her left. It was followed by the sound of something heavy falling on the asphalt.
She looked over and saw Izumo’s motorcycle lying in two pieces. The break was perfectly straight as if a giant blade had split it. Oil spilled from the unfamiliar and complex structure inside the engine and a large piston lost its momentum and stopped.
…What was that?
“You could say this was a bit of a concept,” said Roger with a smile. “Just to be clear, I have yet to finish introducing myself.”
|Back to Chapter 7||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 9|