Owari no Chronicle:Volume9 Chapter 22
Chapter 22: Dead End Escape Path
The path you know leads out of imprisonment
But your body has yet to step into its entrance
People call that a dead end
An apartment sat below the dark sky.
It had an old, beige exterior.
Two people watched a black vehicle drive away from it.
The two of them were in a small park across the road and two buildings east of the apartment building. Standing below a chestnut tree in that park were a boy and a girl carrying a large cloth bag.
The girl wore a white track suit with the name Kazami sewn on the chest.
She watched the closed green steel door on the eastern end of the apartment’s first floor.
“Harakawa really did return alone, Kaku.”
“And Heo’s off to UCAT after checking on her great-grandfather’s corpse. …At least it doesn’t look like Harakawa had his memory erased.”
“True,” said Kazami while leaning against Izumo’s motorcycle that was parked below the tree. “They’ll probably wait until Heo returns to the States for that. She might ask to meet him before then.”
She shrugged and pulled a cellphone from her pocket. She sent an email instead of making a call. She wanted to contact Sayama every so often, but she had not been able to reach him since he had entered the 4th-Gear reservation. That was why she used email.
…Harakawa is back.
She looked down to check the message.
“Harakiri is back.”
Distracted by what the autocorrect had chosen, she reentered the message.
“I also need to mention this.”
She pulled a folded piece of paper from her back pocket. It was a single faxed page.
The document was related to Heo Thunderson’s “demon”. Sibyl had hunted down a newspaper article about her mother’s death and had also sent a copy to IAI headquarters where Sayama and Shinjou were headed.
Izumo peered in from the side and frowned for once.
“That was a weird story.”
“You think so too? It was a lot like a monster movie. Her mother was brutally killed and the villagers saw a giant shadow, but for some reason, her mother was smiling.”
Kazami did not understand why she would have smiled.
“The police speculated that she had relaxed because the murderer had been someone close to her and the journalist guessed it was a satisfied smile because she had protected her daughter from the murderer. Either way, it’s a depressing story.”
Kazami typed in the information they had received from Sibyl and Kanda.
There was a lot to tell.
First, the Americans had determined it was Black Sun that had carried Harakawa and Heo away.
They based this on the fact that Thunderson had said none of the 5th-Gear mechanical dragons remained and because a Black Sun-like reading had once more been detected off the coast of Kantou.
Japanese UCAT would soon do what they had agreed on while speaking with Sayama and Shinjou the night before.
Also, they were planning to keep Harakawa under surveillance.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know, but we have no choice but to act.”
With that, she pressed the send button.
The send screen opened, the shaman girl saying “sending” danced three times, and the screen vanished.
“Now, then,” she said while leaning against the back of the motorcycle. She felt a tugging pain in her side, but she had placed a charm on it and there was nothing more she could do at the moment.
As for what she could do…
“We have to wait for some movement related to Heo Thunderson. When we called, Sibyl said they were doing well.”
“She’s holding it together pretty well given the situation. …Anyway, should we really sit around waiting for Harakawa? Shouldn’t we get back to UCAT and-…”
“Don’t worry. Sibyl said everything’s okay. If we’re going to head back, let’s stick around here for as long as we can first.”
She took a breath.
“And you saw those two in the Nishitama Cemetery, right? Do you really think they can be separated? She was watching Harakawa’s back as much as the scenery around her and he didn’t turn around even though he noticed. If anyone can get Heo Thunderson moving in the next few days, it’s Harakawa.”
She was oddly sure of that, but it came from how the girl had chosen him even when she had to run away.
“Also,” said Kazami. “Unlike when I took part in that first battle because of you, Harakawa has no method or connections for entering a concept space. When a young man wants to meet the princess in the castle, he needs a wizard to give him a magic tool.”
“That young man just needs some guts. Plus, it’s been less than a day since the two of them met.”
Izumo sounded doubtful as he leaned against the driver’s seat and Kazami looked up at him.
She could only smile bitterly at what he said. To say why, she brought a hand to her chest and gave him a true smile.
“Have you forgotten? There’s at least one precedent of someone making up their mind in such a short time. …And it’s right here.”
“How about you refresh my memory? You’re saying it’s here? Right here?”
He shoved his face into her track suit, so she hit him.
He spun back through the air and collapsed onto the motorcycle.
The two of them fell backwards on the tilting vehicle.
A long, white, and windowless corridor had a drink vending machine by the wall, doors on either side of it, and a placard saying “Locker Rooms”.
A single sound filled that empty space.
The automatic door to the women’s locker room on the right opened and a girl stepped out.
She had short, blonde hair.
She wore a blue armored uniform that had been lightened by removing the skirt and as much of the armor as possible. A necklace made of stones hung from her neck and she wore an orange work jacket that hid her shoulders.
The jacket had a number of different crests and the chest had a nametag.
That nametag said “Heo Thunderson”.
She wore that coat to protect her from the air of that empty space, but she had no color in her face. She also had no expression, so her face was pale and blank.
She lowered that empty face as if bowing.
She raised her head again and spotted a water fountain next to the vending machine and a mirror on the wall to its left.
She looked in the mirror and found she appeared dull in the colorless light. If there was any color in her, it was the slight redness at the corners of her eyes.
She approached the mirror and gently placed her hands on her upper cheeks while trying not to press too hard on the red and swollen areas around her eyes.
She then noticed sudden movement.
It came from the water fountain to her right, but it was not that the device had activated.
She trembled as the water fountain approached her. Instead of rolling on wheels, it moved its body back and forth to crawl on the metal parts on the base that resembled legs.
…U-um… She did not know what was happening, but she instinctually shrank down.
The water fountain noticed her action, took a half step back, and looked up at her.
It bent forward as if in disappointment.
It turned around and slowly swayed its way over to a corner of the wall.
She spoke up without thinking and it stopped, twisted its body, and looked toward her.
Its supposedly nonexistent gaze met hers.
On the way to the hospital to see her great-grandfather’s body, a man named Roger had given her a lot of information in the form of a dream.
Seeing it in a dream still felt strange to her, but she believed it because Roger had confirmed what she had seen once she had woken up.
…Is it like a device that teaches you while you sleep?
There was a lot she did not understand, but there were other things she did.
Long ago, her great-grandfather had belonged to an organization called UCAT that protected the world.
He and some others had destroyed a few worlds, the world was once more headed toward destruction, Japanese UCAT was trying to singlehandedly negotiate with the survivors of the other worlds, and they had shown they were not up to the task.
Of the other worlds known as Gears with which the negotiations were complete, there had been one which gave life to machines.
The water fountain in front of her had to be that.
She regulated her breathing, crouched down, and held her hand out toward it.
Is that what I should say? she wondered, but it finally turned toward her.
It shook itself back and forth to approach at its full speed.
It tilted upwards as if to lick her hand.
The water got on her hand.
She honestly commented that it was cold.
After cooling her finger to a certain extent, she brought it to the corner of her eye and brought her other hand to the water fountain.
It was hard and cold, just like a machine. However, this machine was alive.
Realizing that, she tilted her head and brought her hand around to its neck.
She stroked it there and it twisted around a little to rub up against her hand.
Someone then arrived in the waiting area to the left.
“I see you have finished changing.”
It was Roger and he soon realized she was playing with the water fountain.
“Cute, isn’t it? Of course, we only saw it for the first time yesterday.”
“It was a little surprising.”
She smiled, but she was aware there was no strength in it. Still, she was relieved to find she had regained a little of what had left her since visiting the hospital.
She continued rubbing the living water fountain’s neck and spoke.
“I think my great-grandfather planned to tell me a lot of different things once he brought me here.”
“I can only speculate, but I would say that is likely.”
He pushed up his glasses and glanced over her body.
“Those clothes may be a little tight, but they are perfect for adding concept effects. An airplane home is waiting at Yokota, so I will see you off.”
“What about my great-grandfather?”
Roger lowered his gaze before answering.
“The autopsy has not yet been performed, so he will be sent back to his homeland later. …The thing that attacked you and that boy may have been targeting some special characteristic of Mr. Richard’s.”
Heo recalled the wind that had carried them away in the cemetery.
“Isn’t that demon after me?”
“Do you remember what you were taught in that dream? Mr. Richard is the one who fought that demon named Black Sun. If it is after you as well, loading the body on the airplane…” Roger altered his wording. “Being with the body would likely double the odds of Black Sun attacking.”
He continued speaking to distract from his insensitive phrasing and he nodded toward her.
“But we have the Concept Core here to lure in Black Sun. It is approaching Tokyo while resting from the exhaustion of the battle the other day. The airplane prepared at Yokota has been modified to mask the string vibrations of anything inside, so Black Sun will come here without targeting you.”
“You’re going to fight that demon?”
“That is why we are here. Ever since Mr. Richard was with us, American UCAT has been obsessed with defeating it.”
Heo stood and rubbed the edge of the water fountain that also straightened up.
It pressed up against her before returning to the wall.
Heo looked at Roger and wondered what expression was on her face.
“I should be worried for all of you, shouldn’t I? …But will you tell me one thing? What will happen to me once I am returned to the States?”
Roger listened to Heo’s question.
The ends of the girl’s eyebrows were lowered and her lips were slightly parted.
Roger felt she looked more doubtful than questioning and more confused than uneasy.
However, he ignored the passive phrasing and answered.
“Once you return, you will live in a city managed by American UCAT. As a relative of Mr. Richard’s, UCAT views you as the descendent of a hero, so you can live out the rest of your life with no issue. You can live a normal life now.”
He shrugged and hoped the girl was feeling at ease.
However, she was left speechless and looked dumbfounded.
I suppose she would be, he thought. She was repeatedly transferring between schools, no one would believe what she said, and her everyday life was a challenge, but now she is being given a fixed home, everything she has said is being accepted as true, and her everyday life is stabilizing.
She should have no complaints, yet…
…It is ironic that she gained all this from her great-grandfather’s death.
But, he said in his heart before continuing out loud.
“Is anything else bothering you?”
She tensed her shoulders.
However, she quickly shook her head, took in a breath, and puffed out her chest a little.
“I’m sorry. There actually is.”
She lowered her head and lightly held her own body.
“Why did Harakawa and I move to the beach like that?”
“Optical stealth is one of Black Sun’s special techniques, so we have determined that was its doing. Also, it lurks in the ocean off of Hokkaido, so it likely brought the two of you there to…”
He was going to say “execute you”, but he decided against it. He crossed his arms to buy a moment of time before continuing.
“Anyway, it may have decided to give up on that plan once it noticed us pursuing it or once it noticed this country’s self-defense force had sent out a fighter without telling us.”
Heo remained silent and she lowered her head as if she could not accept it.
In truth, Roger had not fully accepted that explanation either. However, that was the only explanation with the facts available to them and Roger was not the type to obsess over an unanswerable question.
“Is there something else?”
“Oh, yes. …Where is Harakawa?”
“He was escorted home. At a later date, the base should send him a reward for protecting you.”
Roger brought his right hand to his mouth to hide his expression, but his eyes remained fixed on Heo.
“We will have to prevent him from speaking about these events. It is unlikely anyone would believe him, but we cannot allow this to get out.”
“I know. That’s how it was for me…”
He saw her shoulders droop as she watched him.
But then footsteps and a female voice approached from the passageway on the left.
“Oh, Heo? Have you finished changing?”
Heo’s shoulders jumped a bit and she turned to the left, as did Roger.
“Oh, it’s Diana,” he said.
As she had called the girl “Heo”, he deduced she had met her before. However, he had been with Heo when she was led to the locker room.
As Roger wondered what this meant, he saw that Heo was at a complete loss for words. Diana wore her usual a black suit and she tightly embraced the girl when she reached her.
“You’re finally here, aren’t you? You’ve grown so much. Roger, you didn’t do anything did you? You didn’t say anything strange, teach her anything strange, touch her anywhere strange, or jump around strangely?”
“What?” replied Roger.
As he tilted his head, Diana enjoyed herself by placing her chin on Heo’s head. However, she still turned toward him.
“What kind of-…”
Before he could ask what their relationship was, Heo moved. She pulled her face away from Diana’s breasts, gasped for breath, and looked up at the woman in surprise.
“Wh-why are you here, teacher!?”
Diana’s eyes narrowed and Roger asked another question.
“Diana, what does she mean by ‘teacher’?”
“I was worried about you, Heo, so I ended my beauty treatment early.”
“Diana, is it just me or did you intentionally ignore me just now?”
It was only after hugging Heo again that she looked to him.
Still looking confused, Heo turned toward him and gave a frantic explanation.
“U-um… Mrs. Diana is my tutor. She was apparently my mother’s friend, so my great-grandfather had her teach me once I started transferring between schools too much. She lived with us for a while and she taught me how to cook and speak Japanese. …It’s been three years since I last saw her, though.”
“That’s right,” said Diana quietly.
However, a sudden voice burst from the floor.
The power maintenance cover on the floor was knocked into the air by a headbutt and Ooshiro’s head stuck out from the opening.
The cover embedded itself into the ceiling a bit and he looked utterly shocked down below.
“Th-this is a brand new genre, Diana-kun! A well-endowed foreign wife teacher!? How strangely bizarre can you get!? I’m so glad I’m the director of Japanese UCAT! There are so many new and exciting things on a daily basis!!”
“Wh-who are you calling a brand new genre!? And UCAT Director Ooshiro, this is a repeat joke!”
“A repeat joke!? It isn’t, it isn’t! It’s a new genre, so it’s a new joke!”
He wiggled around and used a feminine voice, so Heo trembled and looked to Diana.
“T-teacher, what is that?”
“Shh. Don’t look at him. His germs can infect your mind through the eyes.”
“D-Diana-kun! Don’t teach that girl lies!”
After Ooshiro’s shouted protest, Roger pushed his glasses up his nose and spoke.
“I apologize for interrupting your excitement, UCAT Director Ooshiro.”
“Oh, Roger-kun. Long time, no see. You seem to be doing well. …So what do you want? Well? Are you lonely? Then go cry on your own. Relying on me is a big no-no. Okay?”
“How about you say that into a mirror so I don’t have to deal with you? Also…”
Roger thought and finally spoke to the old man again.
“What is 1 + 1?”
As soon as he answered, the cover fell from the ceiling. And it was oriented vertically.
With his lips still forming the “oo” of “two”, he sank down below the floor.
The cover caught on the edges of the hole and fell into place. That sound was accompanied by the sound of something falling and collapsing down below.
Roger wiped the sweat from his brow and turned to the teacher and student embracing and looking cautiously toward the hole in the floor.
“We will disinfect him and capture him. From there, he will be sent to a cell.”
Mikage was in an open space.
It was the rest area on UCAT’s first basement that had a large mirror on the wall.
The neighboring space was even larger, but that was the cafeteria.
People in blue armored uniforms were using the cafeteria for a change.
…When is Ryuuji-kun getting here?
She sat in a chair and a large white table sat before her.
Her hands were up on the table and they held a piece of colored paper.
Hiba had given her the paper before she had taken her nap. He had said to wait in the cafeteria if he was not around when she woke up and he had given her 150 pieces of colored paper to kill time with.
He had not been around when she had awoken under the nap room bed the previous night.
She had gone down to the cafeteria, but the usual people in white armored uniforms had been gone.
Instead, everyone was wearing blue.
…Did they change the uniform?
Still, she had found it unusual that no one was shouting strange things or attacking each other. She had made her way here, but a few men in blue had stopped her. When she had tilted her head, they had placed an armband on her.
She did not entirely understand, but it apparently meant she was a guest.
She had been here ever since and about half of the paper was gone.
She looked to the side and saw someone folding colored paper just like her.
That person’s body was also…no, it was even more of a doll’s body than her own.
She had red hair and went by the name #8. She had said her body was destroyed due to her inexperience, so she had switched over to a spare body. She was currently wearing a white shirt and jeans that had been supplied for her.
Mikage folded the paper along with her to both kill time and help with the automaton’s rehabilitation.
“Ryuuji-kun is late.”
However, he had never said when he would arrive, so it might have still been too early.
I don’t want to wait too long, she thought.
She looked up and saw some people sitting across the table from her.
Those men and women were all wearing blue armored uniforms and they were all holding colored paper she had handed them.
She did not understand their language, but she would use gestures to show them how to fold the paper when they asked.
“Yes. Folding it like that makes people happy.”
She folded, #8 folded next to her, and the red-haired automaton spoke while checking the movements of her fingers.
“Excuse me, Mikage-sama, but this is not a very accurate motion.”
“Ryuuji-kun said that’s better. He said it’s better to have mistakes.”
“I do not want many mistakes.”
“Then you do make some mistakes?”
That made Mikage happy and she said something else to #8.
“We’re the same.”
#8 looked back at her with slightly raised eyebrows, but she soon turned back to the colored paper.
“I apologize for my lack of knowledge. I see now that I was wrong.”
“It’s okay. I’m not very smart.”
So relax, she happily thought. I’m glad something like this is enough for me to relax.
She did not know what kind of expression to make at times like this, but Hiba had said it would come out on its own without her having to make it.
She wondered if that was happening now. She thought she looked expressionless on the mirror covering the wall, but that might not have been the case.
She did not know the answer, but it did not feel bad and she did not mind.
Her body was definitely improving, bit by bit.
She also thought her mind was improving as she learned more and more, but the others would improve as well and so the distance between them would not change. She focused more on the happiness that they were all improving than on that gap.
…I can’t wait.
While folding the paper, she told herself that the future was sure to be infinitely more enjoyable than anything so far. She finished the final fold along with the dark-skinned woman across from her and held up the paper.
She inflated it, spread it out, and folded out the front of the portions sticking up on the front and back.
That was what they had both made. The woman whistled at what she held in her hand.
The two cranes were shaped slightly differently, but the expressions on their faces were the same.
The woman said something and #8 translated.
“She said she will teach her child how to do this once she returns to her home country.”
#8 then held out the paper she was folding. The creases on the paper had dotted lines across them, arrows to show the direction, and numbers to show the order.
The woman took it and brought her hands together.
Mikage did the same in return and all the people in blue armored uniforms quickly took the same pose.
#8 frantically looked across them all, but Mikage felt it was unavoidable. That automaton still was not used to how things were done here.
Mikage thought while exchanging nods with all of the people across the table from her.
…Where are all the people in the white uniforms?
…Ryuuji-kun really is late.
Hiba was inside a small room.
It was located on UCAT’s first basement and one wall was covered by a large window.
The placard by the entrance called it the Hidden Rest Area.
The window was a one-way mirror and it gave him a view of the rest area next to the cafeteria. The window was located to his left and he could see Mikage sitting at the table in the other room.
She, an automaton, and the American UCAT members observing her were all folding the colored paper he had given her.
She had likely been folding the paper ever since she had been taken into American UCAT custody. She was also waiting for him.
“That must be nice…”
He sighed toward her back and then faced forward.
His hands were not on the table before him because they were handcuffed behind his chair.
These handcuffs had been placed on him the moment he had been captured.
A man sat across the table from him. The bearded man in a blue armored uniform had spoken in Japanese to introduce himself as a sergeant and to say Hiba was to be interrogated.
“Let me ask again,” said the sergeant. “How many people have evacuated down below, how many are injured, and what kind of weaponry do they have?”
“Of course I’m not going to tell you any of that.”
Hiba placed his head on the table and faced sideways so he could calm himself by watching Mikage’s back.
“If you just tell me already, I’ll take you to that world of freedom out there.”
“What are you talking about? It’s better to hide while watching.”
“This seemed like a good place for an interrogation, but what is the point of this room anyway?”
“You don’t know? For the non-humans, especially werewolves or aquatic types, it’s apparently painful to wear clothes for long periods of time. But they can’t exactly strip in front of people, right? So when they can’t stand it anymore they come here, strip naked, and enjoy some virtual streaking.”
Hiba and the sergeant glanced around the room. It contained a radio-cassette player with an exercise tape inside, a hula hoop and treadmill for exercise, and for some reason, a camera on a tripod.
The sergeant cleared his throat before speaking.
“They could just hide their nudity with an optical camouflage philosopher’s stone.”
“They apparently tried that, but things showed up while heading home in the rain or someone they happened to bump into on the street got a good grip on a certain part of their body. After that, they doubled down and created mosaic-style optical camouflage, but it apparently wasn’t popular with foreigners.”
“Ethics really are a tricky thing.”
The sergeant nodded in understanding, reached below the table, and pulled out a machine with a volume switch.
“Now, let’s get the interrogation started for real.”
“Y-you’re just as forceful as my upperclassmen! And what is that machine?”
“This is a philosopher’s stone interrogation device developed by American UCAT. It is called the Shameful 2000 and it contains a philosopher’s stone that will make you want to let out all your secrets. You will begin making confessions of your own accord in proportion to the volume setting. I’ll be fine since I have a philosopher’s stone with an opposing concept, but how long can you last?”
The sergeant suddenly turned the volume up halfway.
—Secrets are not to be hidden.
Hiba gave a quiet shriek and shrank down in his chair.
After thirty seconds, the Shameful 2000 gave a chime indicating it was done.
Hearing that, Hiba peered at the sergeant and the man peered back at him.
“Now, let me ask again. How many people have evacuated down below, how many are injured, and what kind of weaponry do they have?”
However, Hiba remained silent and the sergeant smiled.
“You’re focusing your thoughts, aren’t you?”
He raised the volume and Hiba began speaking with a perfectly seriously expression.
“A bath with Mikage-san. A bath with Mikage-san. A bath with Mikage-san. A bass with Mikage-san. A ass with Mikage-san. A bath with Mikage-san’s ass. A bath with Mikage-san’s breasts. A bath with touching Mikage-sa- Oh, no! My focusing thoughts are leaking out!”
“How in the world is that focusing your thoughts!?”
“Don’t underestimate the Japanese, you American! You may have everything out in the open all the time, but our race has a special skill to burn everything into our memories in an instant! When she sits in front of you with a short skirt, leans forward in a shirt, or touches you without thinking, that skill activates! You can almost feel the power coursing through your mind!!! If you take a bath with them, the constant damage to your focus causes your latent powers to awaken! Long live the infinite plain!! And I’ve gotten awfully honest under this confession concept, haven’t I!?”
The sergeant raised the volume to maximum.
“Ah,” said Hiba and a change came over his expression.
Despite all the previous yelling, his expression grew completely blank and he fell silent.
Meanwhile, the sergeant sighed, wiped the sweat form his brow, adjusted his position in his chair, and faced Hiba’s empty eyes.
“Now, let me ask yet again. How many people have evacuated down below, how many are injured, and what kind of weaponry do they have?”
There was a short pause before Hiba answered.
He turned his distant, dead eyes toward the sergeant and spoke with his mouth hanging open.
“Oh,” he said first. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I actually gathered online images of that foreign model because I thought she looked like Mikage-san. I’m sorry. The other day when we were eating lunch on the emergency stairs. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help but look when the wind blew up Kazami-san’s skirt. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Two days ago, I saw Shinjou-san (Boy Ver.)’s underwear from under the arm of the armored uniform. I noticed that it was green but I didn’t say anything.”
“Oh, no. Did I take it too far?”
The sergeant lowered the volume to about halfway and Hiba’s expression returned to normal.
“Listen! If you want to focus the mind properly, you need to focus on the shameful things that-…”
He brought the volume back to maximum.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I only touched Mikage-san’s butt in the bath seven days ago because-…”
“This is hopeless.”
The sergeant lowered the volume to zero and then raised it again.
“Wh-what do you mean hopel- Just coursing through your- I’m sorry.”
“This is definitely hopeless.”
He fully lowered the volume again and Hiba tilted his head toward him.
“Is it really?”
“Yes, so let’s take a more physical route. I’ll be using concepts so it won’t leave any marks.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t waste my time if I were you. I had a fortunetelling done earlier and it said I’m the dog type, so this probably won’t work. It said I’m a dog that loves its master even if it finds that master annoying. It was that punching bag fortunetelling machine in the entertainment room we passed on the way here. I think it’s called ‘A Direct Hit to Your True Character’. Anyway, everyone was a little disturbed by my result.”
“Hmm. Then I guess it wouldn’t count as torture if I chained you up and hit you until you cried.”
“Um, sorry, but wasn’t this supposed to be an interrogation?”
The two of them exchanged a glance and groaned as they thought.
A moment later, a noise reached them.
It was a high-pitched and carrying noise that repeated again and again.
“An alarm!?” shouted the sergeant as he turned toward Hiba.
Hiba collapsed on the table and looked toward Mikage. The people around her were moving, but she was slowly folding the colored paper.
“That must be nice… And I guess it’s about time for what we set up.”
That comment was followed by a shouted announcement.
“Emergency! Everyone on the surface, be on the lookout! A transport lift is rising from underground! It’s carrying…”
After a breath, the voice continued.
“The Vesper Cannon!!”
“When they deem the time is right, Japanese UCAT will strike back while using the Vesper Cannon as a decoy.”
Sayama’s voice filled the mountains as he walked.
The sky above his head was almost entirely filled with the colors of night. He held two travel bags and walked through a large parking lot with Shinjou who had a flower in her hair.
“Do you think they’re all okay?” she asked with a tilt of her head.
“American UCAT is spread out to deal with Black Sun and Japanese UCAT is divided between a concept space unit and a normal space unit. The enemy cannot gather into a single army as when they attacked, so if our side gathers on one side or the other, they have a chance.”
To their left and continuing into the forest behind them was a long runway. A small airplane with the IAI emblem was stopped on that runway.
Their destination was the white building up ahead.
Much like a large hospital, the facility rose five stories above ground level and it too contained the IAI emblem.
“That’s IAI headquarters, isn’t it?” said Shinjou. “We’ve finally come here.”
Most of the building’s windows were dark as business hours were already over.
However, two people stood in front of the building.
One was a blonde maid with a blue stone pendant hanging from her neck.
The other was a girl with semi-long black hair who wore a lab coat. She raised a hand in greeting.
“Should I just say hi? It seems like things have gotten exciting at Okutama.”
“Indeed they have.” Sayama nodded with a bitter smile. “Think of it alike an athletic festival between Japan and America. At any rate, it is strange to meet you like this. Are you undergoing UCAT training, Tsukuyomi Miyako-kun?”
“Yeah, and I’m glad to see you’re as self-important as ever. Right now I’m being trained in reproducing weakened concepts. If you like, I could make you one with some leftover materials. …This is Moira 1st. You remember her, right?”
Miyako said it was time to get going and turned around. She faced the dimly-lit entrance to IAI headquarters and tapped Moira 1st on the shoulder. The maid bowed toward the two visitors and turned in the same direction as Miyako.
“I will show you the way to Japanese UCAT’s western general headquarters, supporters of the Leviathan Road.”
“Please do. Here, we should be able to find records from before UCAT’s blank period, such as employee records from the Izumo company days. We are looking for pre-World War Two records on Kinugasa Tenkyou and a man named Shinjou Kaname. Also, any records of people with the surname Shinjou from around twenty years after that.”
Sayama quickened his pace as he spoke and he stepped up onto the raised tile in front of the entrance.
“Doctor Chao mentioned a New Year’s card from the Shinjou family which referenced a child. Upon learning of their father, that child might have gone to the same place as him to learn more about him. Much like we are doing now. …And as a child born during the war, they likely married during the sixties and had a child. And in that case…”
Sayama looked behind him and to Shinjou who was currently Sadame. She met his gaze with a stiff expression.
However, he ignored her tension and spoke without hesitation.
“The odds are good that your father, the one you inherited the surname Shinjou from, was Shinjou Kaname’s grandson. …Let us hurry. The others will have secured a place for us by the time we return.”
At exactly 8:00 PM, the American UCAT teams guarding the large explosion-resistant doors sealing off Japanese UCAT’s fourth basement and below realized a group of people in white and black armored uniforms had appeared without opening the doors.
They had opened a small concept space and passed through the door inside it.
American UCAT was slow to react because they were dealing with the appearance of the Vesper Cannon on the surface and trying to find a way to attach it to one of their Blanca 9 mechanical dragons.
The group in white charged toward American UCAT while letting out a shout.
They did not yell loud enough, so they did it again.
They all rushed forward and a flow of blue expanded on the building’s aboveground area to fight back.
The second clash was beginning.
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