Owari no Chronicle:Volume9 Chapter 30
Chapter 30: Preemptive Truth
Make your will known
Both when you have something
And when you have nothing
Light illuminated the night with the dark mountains in the background.
On the asphalt between a long runway and a white building, a long meeting table cast a shadow by the roundabout in front of the building.
Three people cast shadows with the table between them.
One was a foreigner in a suit.
The tall man faced the other two through his glasses. One was a boy in a suit and the other a girl in a white shirt.
“Now, Sayama and Shinjou. You may have only just returned, but I would like to receive an answer.”
The boy in a suit, Sayama, turned a sharp gaze toward him.
“And what do you mean by an answer, Roger-kun?”
“As I have already said, I refer to the cessation of the Leviathan Road with 5th-Gear.”
Roger reached into his pocket as he spoke.
All those in white armored uniforms by the building prepared their various weapons, but Roger ignored the many metallic noises and removed his hand from his pocket.
Shinjou stated what he now held.
“Testament. The letter inside contains the instructions Mr. Richard Thunderson gave us. He provided us with the full authority he received from 5th-Gear and it is our reason for stopping the Leviathan Road.”
Roger placed the white envelope on the table and then returned his hand to his pocket.
He then pulled out a small black device.
“May I activate this tape recorder? I would like to record your answer and everything leading up to it.”
Roger placed the tape recorder on the table.
The old recorder made a hard clunk as it reached the table and the recording switch was already activated.
The only sound was the quiet one of the tape spinning.
Roger pushed his glasses up his nose, looked first at everyone gathered by the white building, and then turned to the boy before him.
Sayama had a sharp yet expressionless look in his eyes, but Roger faced it with something completely different.
He smiled and narrowed his eyes.
“According to our investigation, the Leviathan Road’s negotiator has recorded conversations for his negotiations. I thought I would save you the trouble while also leaving proof for future use.”
“You seem to be slightly mistaken.”
“And how is that?”
“That is not for my negotiations. It is my hobby.”
Next to Sayama, Shinjou’s knees collapsed underneath her as if the strings supporting her had snapped.
But she quickly recovered and grabbed at him.
“S-stop that, Sayama-kun! This is being recorded!”
“What are you talking about, Shinjou-kun? I merely avoided leaving a misunderstanding in the records of someone such as myself whose name is sure to go down in history.”
Shinjou smiled and nodded twice before turning to Roger.
“Can you delete that?”
This time, she fully fell to her knees.
Sayama and the small creature on his head glanced over at her, but soon returned their gaze to Roger.
“Well then,” he began. “How about we begin?”
Hearing Sayama speak, Shinjou looked up while sitting on the ground.
Begin? she thought. What is there to discuss?
…They have that letter.
Her question drove her to stand and she saw Sayama with his arms crossed and head slightly tilted.
“Could you take out that letter and read it once more?”
“Why? I believe its contents are already known.”
Sayama reached his left hand into his pocket.
Those in blue armored uniforms on the runway aimed their weapons at him.
The metallic sounds of weapons being prepared reached him, but Sayama did not care and he did not remove his hand from his pocket.
“Roger-kun? You discussed Mr. Richard’s transfer of authority before producing the tape recorder. That leaves a certain possibility.”
Shinjou realized what he was trying to say, so she said it in his place.
“He was trying to record us accepting the end of the Leviathan Road without recording the part about the transfer of authority? But then…”
“Yes. It is possible the transfer of Mr. Richard Thunderson’s authority is false. This document may have been a fake even as it was read yesterday. That might be why he tried to record our promise without leaving any records of the falsehood.”
Sayama looked up at Roger with his hand still in his pocket.
“But surely you were not attempting such a poor trick. Right, Roger-kun? As previously stated, producing a fake would be an eternal embarrassment. …Still, I would simply like to go back over the document.”
“That is a lot of suspicion against the truth-loving American UCAT.”
Roger’s line was meant to leave a record of his discomfort at being a target of such suspicion. In other words, he would not hold back if he was proven right.
But Sayama ignored the enemy’s attempt to hold him in check.
“Read it. I want this tape recorder to record that these are the words of Mr. Richard Thunderson. Oh, and one other thing.”
Sayama finally pulled his left hand from his pocket.
“To aid my hobby, how about we each record this conversation?”
He placed a handheld recorder on the table and it was already switched on.
If Roger was now unable to read the contents of the envelope, it would mean those contents were false and he could not allow them to be recorded.
Meanwhile, the envelope remained on the table and Roger did not touch it.
“Let us make a bet, negotiator.”
He brought his hands into his suit’s sleeve and pulled out a small metal case.
“I have not shown it to you, but you could call this my weapon. It contains a concept to show others a false reality, but I will set it aside. I have no need for it here.”
Shinjou looked at the case and at Roger with an upturned glance.
“How do we know you haven’t already used it?”
The answer came from her left.
“Do not worry,” said Gyes. “I have been watching and that case is the only philosopher’s stone reading around him.”
“I see,” said Shinjou with a nod.
It was possible even Gyes’s statement was part of the false reality, but she would have stopped the man if he had actually tried something. She would not have allowed him to even move an arm.
Roger then nodded and pointed at the case he had placed on the table.
“In my dreams, you will wake once you realize that it is a dream.”
As Roger spoke, Sayama slowly reached over to grope Shinjou’s breasts.
His fingers seemed to check the elasticity and shape and he nodded.
“Not even a dream based on my memories could replicate this sensation! Ergo, this is reality!”
An uppercut shook the body of the boy who had groped her. He and Baku on his head turned toward her.
“Wh-what was that for!?”
“Did that wake you up?”
She pointed toward Roger who was looking back with a blank expression.
“That is an unusual method of checking.”
“It is quite normal for Shinjou-kun and me. We do it all the time. …This is being recorded, right? We. Do. It. All. The. Time. Oh, how delightful! That is all. …Now, let us set aside such complicated things and continue with the simple negotiation.”
“What is that glare for, Shinjou-kun? But it too is wonderful. Anyway, Roger-kun, you raised your bet by setting aside your weapon, didn’t you? You are saying the contents of the envelope are real, so if our doubts our proven wrong, we cannot forget the good faith you showed us.”
“That is one way of looking at it,” agreed Roger.
However, Sayama continued as if it were perfectly natural.
“Then we shall raise our bet as well. That bet being on our doubt. …If you are telling the truth and all of 5th-Gear’s authority truly lies with American UCAT… Oh, I know. I will go right ahead and say it.”
Sayama did not hesitate.
“We will give up all rights to the Leviathan Road.”
Roger heard what Sayama said.
…Is he stupid!?
The boy’s confidence came from his certainty that the document was a fake and that certainty was entirely based in the timing at which Roger had produced the tape recorder.
…But the letter inside the envelope is real.
The signature was in Thunderson’s handwriting and it was stamped with his official seal. If a 1st-Gear concept was used, it could be conceptually proven to be written by him.
In truth, the timing of the tape recorder had been a gamble on Roger’s part.
He had a single job as Odor’s aide.
He was to act as negotiator instead of Odor who was a terrible speaker.
He had known he would be facing the Leviathan Road’s negotiator during this visit to Japan. Odor had volunteered to command the attack on Japanese UCAT and the battle against the black dragon and Roger had received only one order from him.
…I am to use whatever means necessary to get Japanese UCAT to accept Thunderson’s instructions.
The instructions were real, so the outcome was already determined. Even if Sayama attempted to cheat in some way, they had been taken directly to this table on arrival and they had not spoken with their comrades in the building behind them. Forming up on the runway and creating an obvious stalemate had been a method of forcing Sayama and Shinjou to step in as mediators without having a chance to discuss anything.
That had worked well.
The automaton in a red suit that controlled the god of war they had flown in on did not appear to be a maid type, so she would be unable to communicate over their shared memory. Also, the concept space communication facility in Kanda was not yet up and running and the shared consciousness of the 4th-Gear resident with them could not communicate over such long distances.
They had been brought to the negotiating table without gaining any information or discussing anything within the concept space.
Roger’s victory was assured, so he had decided to play a bit of a game. Since he could not lose, the point of the game was to see how his opponent would react.
He had expected a clever opponent to guess that Roger’s victory was unshakable and either back off or negotiate for a decent compromise.
Roger was willing to admit the value of an enemy commander who would retreat when the situation called for it. Depending on how things played out, he had even considered placing Japanese UCAT as second-in-command as American UCAT led the effort to release the concepts.
…But I never expected him to be this reckless.
He had fallen for the tape recorder trick and then clung that one point so much that he had raised his bet to giving up the Leviathan Road.
Raising the bet had likely been meant to intimidate Roger. He thought Roger’s card was a fake, so he was making an implied threat.
…He is telling me to back off while I still can.
At that point, Roger gave a bitter laugh. And not just in his heart.
Sayama and Shinjou gave him puzzled looks, so he contained the laugh and replied.
He then decided to reveal the answer. He reached out toward the envelope to remove the letter.
“Wait just a moment, Roger-kun. You have not given your bet.”
Sayama’s arms were crossed and his sharp gaze looked up at Roger.
“Surely you do not think your bet of a single weapon is equivalent to the bet I just made.”
I see, thought Roger as he withdrew his hand. Yes. Even if I know I will win, I should play the game properly.
As he tried to come up with a bet, Sayama opened his mouth again.
“But I am feeling generous, so how about I raise my bet even further. How about this? If American UCAT truly has full authority concerning 5th, I will also transfer a full set of Japanese UCAT facilities to American UCAT.”
“A full set of your facilities?”
Roger looked up and saw Sayama. Shinjou was looking at him with a look of utter shock.
“What is it, Roger-kun? I do not particularly enjoy having men stare at me.”
Sayama raised his right hand such that a noise came from his elbow and he hid his face behind that hand.
“Oh, my apologies. I forgot that America is a country that respects freedom and any number of preferences. It was rude of me to speak out against your preference. …However, I have already devoted myself to Shinjou-kun, so give up.”
Roger averted his gaze and did his best to ignore everything the boy said.
Sayama exaggeratedly swung down his hand to send wind down on the table, but he did not look down at the envelope as the wind reached it.
And so Roger continued to ignore him while bringing a hand to his forehead and thinking about what to bet.
“Oh, wait a moment, Roger-kun. It seems my hospitality as a Japanese person was lacking. It also seems I have not said enough, so let me raise the bet even further. …If full authority over 5th-Gear lies with American UCAT, I will also transfer you the rights to everything developed by Japanese UCAT.”
“Wait,” said Roger on reflex.
…This is odd.
Where did this boy’s ridiculous confidence come from?
Roger knew his victory was assured, so he had proof that the boy’s confidence was nothing more than a bluff. However, this level of confidence was too much.
As he thought, he heard a voice. Still expressionless, Sayama tapped a finger on the table as if he were nervous.
“Roger-kun, one thing. Just one thing. Can you answer me a quick question?”
“What is it?”
“It is a simple matter, Roger-kun.” Sayama gave one hard flick of the table. “Let us say the letter in that envelope is real, but we had brought a truth that completely overturns it and we had a way of swapping out the contents of the envelope. What would you say then?”
“That is not-…”
He trailed off before saying “possible”.
Sayama’s handheld recorder had disappeared from the table.
No, it had not disappeared. It was being hidden.
“Some slight optical camouflage is distorting the light around the recorder, Roger-kun. 5th-Gear’s dragons use optical stealth and Miyako-kun created a handheld version to show everyone an example to help fight back against it. So just watch.”
A small creature had appeared on the table next to the envelope at some point.
It was Baku. Its legs were sprawled out as if sleeping, but it had supposedly been on Sayama’s head just a moment before.
“I placed him in my sleeve while covering my face and placed him here when I lowered my hand. I set the optical stealth philosopher’s stone on the recorder when I flicked the table afterwards. …Now, what has happened to the contents of the envelope?”
Roger knew what Sayama meant.
He was saying he could have switched out the contents at any time.
…But that is not possible.
Even with an invisibility philosopher’s stone and even if he had the skill to move Baku without Roger noticing, Roger would have noticed if he had tried to tamper with the envelope.
Roger let out a breath to calm himself and pushed his glasses up his nose.
“If you did swap out the envelope’s contents, that fact will remain in the recording.”
“Then let me say this: I swear on the god of freedom and justice that I did not swap out the envelope’s contents.”
Roger looked to the envelope and then Sayama while he thought. The boy was doing everything he could to overturn the situation.
However, he would have had to tamper with the envelope to alter its contents.
Roger’s own eyes told him that had not happened and so he concluded there was nothing to worry about.
For some reason, Sayama tripped toward the table and it was clearly done on purpose.
Roger sensed danger in how Sayama held his hands out toward the table.
As Roger shouted, help came from an unexpected place: Shinjou.
“W-wait. Are you okay, Sayama-kun?”
She frantically held him from the side to stop his fall.
He was stopped and lifted up before he hit the table and he thanked her.
“Thank you. It seems my overwork is catching up to me.”
A blatant lie, thought Roger as he sighed and lowered his gaze.
He then noticed something new on the table.
It was a piece of paper. The folded copy paper had text printed on it.
However, Roger could not read it because an information restriction concept had been applied to it.
…That is a 1st-Gear concept used by all UCATs these days.
At that point, Roger recalled that 1st-Gear had joined the enemy.
…They have writing concepts, including those more complete than we have ever seen.
Sayama spoke while looking down at the fallen document.
“Oh, dear. I dropped an important document from my pocket. I need to be careful. After all, if this document were written with 1st-Gear’s writing concepts, it could affect other writings. It would be a disaster if its writing replaced any other documents it happened to fall on.”
The boy’s words made Roger tremble in his heart.
…Can he rewrite the text inside the envelope using a concept?
Impossible. Do not worry, he told himself. I have never heard of such a concept.
…But at the same time…
Japanese UCAT had won over 1st-Gear, which was the center of writing concepts.
“Roger-kun, why are you being so quiet? Are you tired? I can imagine you are. After all, your single decision here will decide the future of Colonel Odor and the rest of American UCAT,” said Sayama. “You cannot let a careless assumption or reckless decision based on ignorance bring harm to American UCAT. With some things, simply saying you did not know is not enough. …Being a negotiator is not easy.”
The boy was laying on the pressure.
Roger understood that and he understood he had no way of knowing whether a 1st-Gear writing concept had been used or not.
So partially as a way of brushing aside that pressure, he picked up the unreadable paper that had fallen to the table. And he did so before Sayama could reach for the table himself.
Roger slightly disturbed the air as he held out the paper.
But Sayama did not immediately take it. After a pause, he nodded and did so.
“Thank you for collecting that for me.”
“No need to thank me. We prepared the table, after all.”
Sayama nodded again, opened the document, read through it, and opened his mouth.
“Would you look at that. This says full authority over 5th-Gear will be left with American UCAT!”
His words intensified the silence of the surrounding area.
Wondering what had happened, everyone stood up and audibly prepared their weapons, but Sayama continued loudly.
His follow-up statement made everyone immediately wilt.
All strength left them and they sat down, but they then turned even more focus in the negotiators’ direction.
With all that attention reaching them, Sayama looked across the white building and runway before shrugging.
“It seems you all need to work on your sense of humor.”
Next to him, Shinjou peered at the paper in his hand and frowned.
“This…isn’t what was in the envelope, is it?”
“Now, now, Shinjou-kun. I did not swap anything out. I would never divert everyone’s attention by pretending to trip and then have Baku conceptually swap out only the text,” he said. “Even so, Baku is quite attached to me. Look.”
He raised his right arm so Baku could see and the creature copied the action.
Sayama then took another action: he moved as if tripping onto the table.
Baku copied him by collapsing toward the opening of the envelope before him.
…The creature is moving to pull out the contents with its front legs!
Sayama then gave an expressionless comment.
“If Baku were given a philosopher’s stone to hide his movements, he would make a top-class spy.”
It can’t be, thought Roger as he looked down at Baku.
The creature sensed his gaze and turned around.
Roger then saw a blue philosopher’s stone on a pendant around Baku’s neck.
“Wh-what concept is that!?”
“It looks good on him, doesn’t it? That is simply a decoration for a pet, Roger-kun. Giving him a philosopher’s stone with a spying concept is unthinkable. …And let me tell you three things, Roger-kun.”
“And what might those be?”
“First of all…”
Sayama raised his index finger and Baku copied the action.
“Surely you are not doubting me after I have repeatedly insisted I did nothing.”
“Second, let us raise the bet further, Roger-kun. If full authority over 5th-Gear lies with American UCAT, Japanese UCAT here in Okutama and the rest of UCAT throughout Japan will assist American UCAT’s actions free of charge.”
“Third, it would seem you are having difficulty finding a good idea for raising your end of the bet. I am much like a god, so I can make bet after bet like this, but you seem unable to find an answer with your level of authority. To help you, I will request a bet that I know you can grant.”
“What is that?”
“It is simple. I can make some guesses based on your age, your skill with the Japanese language, and the fact that you were sent here. So if that envelope does not grant American UCAT with Mr. Thunderson’s authority…”
Sayama turned his sharp eyes toward Roger.
“Tell me everything you know about UCAT’s blank period.”
Roger gasped at Sayama’s request.
That final request was something he had to avoid at all costs.
Therefore, he needed to open the envelope and read the contents to provide the answer.
…Because it is true that Mr. Thunderson transferred all of his authority!
However, the boy was suspicious.
Roger would definitely win this negotiation. The document inside was real, so his absolute advantage could not be shaken.
But a risk arose from a “what if” scenario. What if the document had been switched out or rewritten?
This was being recorded. In fact, he had been the one to record it.
And at the beginning of the negotiation, Shinjou had asked, “He was trying to record us accepting the end of the Leviathan Road without recording the part about the transfer of authority?”
If the document turned out to be a fake, it would support Shinjou’s suspicions.
He could accuse them of switching it out, but the real one was unlikely to return after it fell into enemy hands and just how many people would believe him?
Only he and Odor knew that the document was real. No one else had actually seen it for themselves.
An inspection with a 1st-Gear concept could determine who had written it, but it was all over if the enemy had a way of escaping that and 1st-Gear was likely to side with the Leviathan Road anyway.
…It all falls down to “what ifs”.
He knew for a fact that he was in the right, but for some reason, he felt like he was making a gamble. He was right, yet he was gambling.
He began to wonder where everything had gone wrong. Hiding the recorder with the optical camouflage philosopher’s stone, placing Baku near the envelope, and dropping the paper from his pocket had all been small things.
Any one of them could have been ignored.
But what if they carried everything in a different direction when put together?
Roger frowned for the first time in this negotiation.
The enemy was asking him to break his silence on UCAT’s blank period if he lost.
“Can you not do it?” asked Sayama as if tempting him. “Then why not accept the Leviathan Road? Do that…and at the very least, we will be stuck investigating the blank period on our own. After all, I have recently started to think it is related to the Leviathan Road.”
That was something Roger could not do. His higher ups in American UCAT had already decided they could not accept the Leviathan Road.
But at the same time…
…I cannot break my silence on the blank period.
I simply cannot, he realized. No one remains with the authority to tell the whole story of that time.
Roger brought a groan up in his throat.
But he looked up into the sky and forced it back down.
His gaze moved up the white building in front of him. The building had lights installed here and there.
On the roof at the very top, he saw the white edge he had been pushed from the previous night and he saw two figures standing there.
One was a gray-haired middle-aged man in a black suit and the other was a gray-haired woman in a maid uniform.
The middle-aged man looked down with a cane in hand and he pushed his sunglasses up his nose.
His mouth moved and formed words. Roger could not hear him, but he was able to read his lips.
“Put your mind at ease, Roger Sully.”
Those words were the final push.
Roger forcefully lowered his gaze toward Sayama’s expressionless face and raised his eyebrows.
“American UCAT trusts in our own justice and freedom.”
He reached for the envelope.
“Those two virtues will guide us to the truth! And thus the truth is on our side!!”
He pulled out the letter, opened it, and read it aloud.
“ ‘If I, Richard Thunderson, die or go missing, I leave all authority I hold at the time to American UCAT. September 15, 2005.’ ”
Roger realized the document was still the real one.
Shinjou doubted her ears when she heard Roger.
For an instant, she could not understand what he was saying. After all…
Sayama had used so many tricks and said so much, but the contents were real.
She asked herself what was happening, but she honestly could not find an answer.
Roger had completely won and all the bets Sayama had made would be passed over to him.
She must not have been the only one confused because there was no reaction from the white building behind her.
And oddly enough, those in blue up ahead also failed to react.
It was as if they doubted their own victory.
Even Roger frowned as he looked at the letter.
At that point, Shinjou heard a sound. It was the loud, dry, and repeating sound of clapping.
And it came from Sayama.
He was expressionlessly clapping his hands toward Roger and the sound echoed off the white wall of the building.
“Well done. Well done indeed, Roger-kun. Even if the enemy has laid a trap, American UCAT will persist and use their justice and freedom to reach the truth. That makes you a follower of the truth and a foolish yet brave challenger. And that is what has carried you to this result. That result being…”
He made his declaration.
Roger doubted his ears when he heard Sayama.
For an instant, he could not understand what the boy was saying. After all…
Sayama had used so many tricks and said so much, but the contents had been real.
He asked himself what was happening, but he honestly could not find an answer.
He had completely won and all the bets Sayama had made would be passed over to him. So how did that constitute his loss?
He must not have been the only one confused because there was no reaction from the runway behind him or the white building in front of him.
Even Shinjou frowned as she looked to Sayama from the side.
“It is a simple matter,” said Sayama. “Before entering this concept space, we were pursuing Heo Thunderson. And before leaving Shimane, Kazami gave me a certain piece of information during her periodic report. She said a delinquent classmate of mine seemed likely to head out to retrieve Heo Thunderson.”
“What about it?”
“This afternoon, American UCAT was stopped by that delinquent boy while trying to secure Heo Thunderson. At that time, the two of them were snatched up by Black Sun or something similar and taken into the eastern sky.”
That was true, but they still did not know what it had been. If a dragon was assisting people, Roger wanted to say it was a survivor of 5th-Gear, but that conflicted with what Richard Thunderson had said.
…He said White Creation and the other dragons combined with the Vesper Cannon and that Xolotl 3 is no more.
But Sayama continued speaking.
“What if there is a survivor of 5th-Gear and that dragon has been left with Heo Thunderson along with full authority over 5th? And couldn’t you say Richard Thunderson wrote his instructions with that in mind? He said that if he dies or goes missing, he leaves ‘all authority I hold at the time’ to American UCAT. Why did he not specify his authority over 5th-Gear?”
“You can’t mean…”
“All of 5th-Gear has already been transferred from Mr. Richard to Heo Thunderson via that mechanical dragon! Mr. Richard’s authority is no longer 5th-Gear’s authority. He only left you with his records and assets so you could protect Heo Thunderson!”
The boy took a breath.
“Take Richard Thunderson’s authority, American UCAT! We on the other hand wish to speak with Heo Thunderson who he left 5th-Gear’s authority with in the form of a mechanical dragon!”
Roger struck the table at Sayama’s shout.
The sound of his clenched fist rang loudly through the air and Baku was knocked into the air and flipped over, but Roger paid him no heed.
“That is simply untrue!”
“Have you checked?”
“There is no need. The mechanical dragons of 5th-Gear gave Mr. Richard Thunderson full authority and he told us they are no more. You claim another mechanical dragon exists, but why would that be!? How can a mechanical dragon exist when none exist!?”
“Then listen,” said a voice.
It came from Sayama across the table and Shinjou tensed her shoulders next to him.
“I have many questions concerning 5th-Gear, including that transfer of authority. Even when it comes to Black Sun and the fall of 5th’s people, there are just too many uncertainties! We must answer those questions before we continue!”
Sayama turned to Shinjou who looked surprised by his words.
“This is a gamble, Shinjou-kun. Will my optimism win or will America’s pessimism win?”
“What do you mean it’s a gamble, Sayama-kun? And what questions are there about Black Sun or 5th’s destruction?”
He did not immediately reply. He first looked away from her and toward Roger.
But he did not stop there. He looked across everyone present.
“A mechanical dragon flew into the sky after saving a girl and the delinquent boy who tried to protect her. And now, that delinquent boy is again trying to save her. If the girl answers, that dragon is sure to appear once more.”
He took a breath.
“Listen, great nation that wields the justice of adults and provides the freedom of protection and order. That dragon stands in a place of truth. A place of truth sought by a demon-possessed girl and a delinquent boy.”
Sayama lowered his gaze to the creature sitting next to the letter Roger had placed back on the table.
Baku had already raised his front legs in preparation to bring forth the past.
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