Owari no Chronicle:Volume9 Chapter 21
Chapter 21: Voice of Concern
To show concern is to express your feelings
Without any regard to whether that is a good thing or not
The setting sun covered a forest, a lake, and a large tree.
This was the 4th-Gear reservation.
Everything remained the same except for the color of the sky.
The blue from earlier in the day was now dyed with the scarlet of evening.
The large tree’s shadow stretched outward and covered two figures.
Those figures were Sayama and Shinjou who stood on the edge of the lake.
Having just been shown the past, Sayama held his chest and Shinjou leaned up against him and placed her own hand on his chest.
“Are you okay, Sayama-kun?”
“Yes, I will manage. More importantly, are you okay, Shinjou-kun? After what we learned about Shinjou Kaname, that is.”
She nodded and looked to him.
He faced her with a serious expression and his right hand opened in a groping pose.
“…What is that hand for?”
“You cannot tell? I have decided I need to calm your heart.”
“I think you just drove out every bit of calm that was left in my heart!”
She lowered her shoulders in a sigh which transformed into a release from all the tension of worrying about what she had seen in the past.
…Was he trying to help me like that?
As she thought, he opened his mouth, took a deep breath, and spoke.
“Now, Shinjou-kun. As Kazami said last night, we should visit IAI headquarters.”
“To follow Shinjou Kaname? But he died, so…”
“Remember what Doctor Chao said? They received a New Year’s card saying his child was doing well. If he passed away, that card was likely sent by his wife. In that case, we might find records concerning that child if Kaname’s employee record is stored at IAI headquarters.”
“Oh.” Her eyes opened wide and she nodded. “The surname Shinjou would have been passed down.”
“Correct. Everything is inherited by the next generation. Isn’t that right, Mukiti-kun?”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and faced the large tree collapsed in the center of the lake.
After a pause, the tree spoke.
“Yes. Because that happens, the inherited promise with Sayama was fulfilled.”
Shinjou nodded and realized her face likely contained a mix between a smile and a troubled expression.
She hesitated for a moment.
After seeing the past, how was she supposed to express what was in her heart?
The loss of Shinjou Kaname had been a shock, but the conversation between Sayama’s grandfather and Mukiti had been the exact opposite.
…His grandfather is a lot like him.
They were not related by blood and they had different faces and attitudes, but something about them was similar.
…Both Mukiti and I have been influenced by a “Sayama”, so we should be able to reach some kind of understanding.
She had seen Mukiti’s power when he had taken away her exhaustion, but she also believed there was something else they had in common.
And so she honestly spoke the words in her heart.
“That moment in the past meant a lot to you, so you’ve been waiting all this time, haven’t you?”
Shinjou continued while realizing these were the words she had wanted someone to tell her when she had been alone.
“Then it’s time to stop waiting. The people you wished for and trusted in have arrived.” She took a breath. “We are equals, so let’s use what power we have to show concern for each other.”
Mukiti replied with a determined affirmation.
“The Concept War has finally ended for 4th-Gear.”
“Sayama, there is a new fight, isn’t there? Just as promised.”
Shinjou turned toward Sayama and saw him nod.
He crossed his arms, looked around, and took in a breath.
“Indeed there is.”
“And you need my power for that fight, don’t you?”
“Yes. That includes the power of your Concept Core, your healing power, and whatever other powers you might have.”
“I see. Then I have a request for this new fight,” said Mukiti. “Continue to pass down everything so it is inherited.”
“That way, we can remain with you.”
Shinjou thought on his words.
…He’s asking us to preserve this world.
They were to clear away any problems, discord, and obstacles so that nothing was ever gone even if it was lost. That way, it could all remain with 4th-Gear and its near-infinite life.
“That’s just what we want, right, Sayama-kun? That’s the objective of the Leviathan Road.”
She and Sayama faced Mukiti’s tree and spoke a single word in unison.
“Let us go, Mukiti-kun. Come with us.”
As soon as Sayama said that, Shinjou realized a certain color had appeared in the sky.
No, it was not the sky. It was at the very top of the tall stump.
A small flower had bloomed.
It was a white flower on a branch that jutted out.
“Then let us go,” replied Mukiti.
…Mukiti doesn’t say what is already known.
Shinjou watched as the small flower and its branch fell from the stump.
At the same time, the world’s colors began to fade.
She quickly stood up and the wind carried the flower to her head.
The flower then spoke in Mukiti’s voice.
“Let us go.”
The forest and clearing rapidly lost their color.
Green turned to yellowish-green and then to yellow. The trees began to lean as if sleeping and the underbrush sank down as if lying down to sleep.
As the plants fell asleep, their movement produced a wind that indicated the end of the reservation.
“My Concept War is over.”
Mukiti’s will spoke just as the sun began to sink behind the horizon.
The fading color filled the ocean beyond the slowly collapsing forest.
Finally, everything was dyed in shadowy colors and the tones of night.
…They will follow us.
They would follow Sayama because Shinjou had come to meet them.
Shinjou silently stuck the flower’s branch into her hair.
She turned toward Sayama and he spoke expressionlessly.
“That looks good on you, Shinjou-kun.”
One green creature stood next to him.
Baku sat on the head of that creature which had likely gathered the reservation’s ecosystem information. As they also had Mukiti inside the flower…
“4th-Gear will gather in Okutama UCAT, won’t it?”
“Yes, but we must visit IAI headquarters in Shimane first.”
Sayama looked up into the yellow sky of the sunset.
“The American UCAT force at Okutama is a problem. We currently have nowhere to return to.”
Harakawa noticed color before his eyes.
The pale yellow light of the setting sun filled his vision.
…This is the sky.
He realized that was what he was seeing.
He could easily see this by lying down in a large open area, but his subconscious was sending him warning signals. Something was not right.
…Where am I?
When he tried to remember what had happened, he arrived at his memories of the Nishitama Cemetery. A group in strange blue armored uniforms had pursued them and he had been struck while trying to let Heo escape.
That’s pretty pathetic, he told himself.
…So is this the cemetery?
Cirrus clouds were flowing east through the sky and the sunlight was coming from the west.
While looking up into the sky, he realized three other things.
First, he was lying on sand.
Second, he could hear water splashing across that sand.
And third, someone was lying on top of him.
To check on all three of those things, he sat up.
He was not in the cemetery.
He was on a beach.
The ocean was only ten meters away.
And the person lying on top of him was…
Her eyes were closed and her breathing was shallow.
He could feel her body heat through her clothes and that told him she was definitely alive.
He breathed a sigh of relief that she was safe, but then he remembered something. Just before he had passed out, he had seen a mass of wind before him.
“A demon, hm?”
He spoke the word she had mentioned and gently held her in his arms.
She let out a quiet groan and spoke in her sleep.
He nodded and relaxed his shoulders.
His words took the tension from her eyebrows.
He waited for her breathing to calm down and then he looked around the area.
The beach was surrounded by rocky areas and the rocky area behind him had been worn down into an embankment with pine trees growing beyond it.
Based on the direction of the setting sun and the size of the waves, he drew a conclusion about the ocean before him.
“Is that the Pacific?”
He guessed they were in Chiba or somewhere close. He would often go to the beach while touring with the automobile club and this beach was a lot like the one in Kujukuri he had visited over summer break.
Hiba had stayed home from that trip because he had been worried about his girlfriend who lived with him. On the way back, they had fired all their leftover fireworks into Hiba’s room, but that had caused something inside to explode. It was still a mystery what that stupid underclassman had been doing in his room.
While nodding at that unnecessary memory, Harakawa looked to Heo in his arms.
He returned his expression to normal and stepped on the sand to stand up amid the sounds of waves.
Heo was light in his arms.
She really is a girl, he thought while also realizing he had no sand in his shoes or pants cuffs. Heo was the same, so it almost seemed like they had descended here from the sky.
He then belatedly realized something else.
“This means we moved from the cemetery.”
The change in the color of the sky meant it had not happened instantaneously. It had taken some amount of time for them to move here.
“Or were we carried?”
That begged the question of “by whom?”
…Was it the student council members or the group in blue that they were fighting?
Or if it had been the demon’s doing…
“Why would the demon leave Heo unharmed, take me with her, and abandon us here?”
He walked as he muttered his question. The sand below his feet formed a slope and his footsteps produced a sound much like a squeaking mouse. That sound continued as he climbed the sandy slope.
The pine trees beyond the embankment grew closer.
He saw a rusty railing beneath those trees, so there had to be stairs down from there. Based on the number of pine branches he saw, he guessed the area beyond was a forest.
As light as Heo was, he still began breathing more heavily while carrying her up the unstable sand.
He hurried on while deciding to take a break once he reached the embankment at the top.
The salty wind pushed at his back and…
He arrived at the top of the embankment.
Beyond that embankment was a gentle stone staircase meant to fill the ten meter height difference and a small pine forest grew on either side.
At the bottom of the stone steps was a road leading through the pine trees.
He saw some vehicles parked on the narrow road. The green vehicles were familiar to him.
“Four-ton trucks of the US military.”
Three of those trucks filled the road down below and a group of people stood around the trucks, in the forest, and below the steps.
And they all wore blue armored uniforms.
Just as the sight made him move, the wave of blue parted and two men stepped forward.
One was a slender elderly man in a gray suit and the other was a young man wearing glasses and a brown suit. It was obvious neither was Japanese.
The elderly man pulled his right hand from his pocket and looked up at Harakawa.
His gaze could only be described as “sharp”.
“That girl. I am the one charged with protecting that girl.”
Harakawa frowned at that and was unsure how to react.
“Wait just a moment.”
He began with that to make sure he still had strength in his voice.
“This girl is going to a place called UCAT with her great-grandfather.”
“We are that UCAT.”
The man in glasses spoke up quickly as if to gain Harakawa’s trust.
He then pulled a document from his pocket.
“This was written by her great-grandfather, Mr. Richard Thunderson.”
The man looked up at Harakawa through his glasses and he was not smiling.
“As her great-grandfather has passed away, we intend to protect her from now on. If you have no objection, we would like to take her in as soon as possible.”
All of the men in blue armored uniforms prepared for a possible fight as the man asked a question.
“Will that be okay?”
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