Owari no Chronicle:Volume9 Chapter 32
Chapter 32: The Sky’s Guidance
Fly through the sky where no one can find fault in you
The nighttime battle began with stillness.
A single white line flew west through the geographic center of Tokyo from Chofu to the Kunitachi and Tachikawa region.
At an altitude of approximately one kilometer, the individual specks of light down below were just barely distinguishable and a blade tore through the black sky as a white line.
That blade was a blue and white mechanical dragon.
The wall of the atmosphere shook it, but it occasionally made a quick hop off an air current as it tore westward through the air.
Ahead was nothing but the night air soon to be parted by its pointed nose and the sound of the subsequent wind was all thrown back behind it.
The color black could be seen on the empty expressway cutting east to west down below.
The color came from the scorch mark of a giant explosion.
The blue and white dragon noticed the remains of something large covering the expressway and littered across the surrounding field as well.
It shook its body just once, as if bowing toward the other smaller scorch marks.
And it flew on.
The path from Chofu to Kunitachi curved a bit to the right and thus to the north.
The concept space corridor must have been visible to the dragon because it changed course as if jumping to the side.
Some clouds floated up ahead on its new northwestern path. They were located low and had been created when the early autumn wind combined with the night air. The city’s heat and the night wind had produced the clouds.
The clouds glowed a pale blue in the starlight and the blue and white dragon flew above the expanse of clouds that looked a lot like an island in the ocean.
As it flew above, the clouds split and were blasted away behind the shimmering heat of the accelerators.
The spray of scattering clouds vanished in the wind and the dragon tilted a little to the right. It did not change direction; it simply tilted.
A blade extended from its right wing and this blade was formed from white light. The dragon had raised the convergence rate of the optical weapon on its forearm to form this blade which was as long as the dragon itself. This was the dragon’s light claw.
The tip of the blade sliced through the clouds. The dragon’s light claw tore into the clouds like a hand reaching into the water in a moving boat.
However, the mechanical dragon soon closed that right claw. It allowed the light to rotate through the air just once before tilting to the left and similarly slicing the cloud with its left blade.
It was testing its weapons.
The left blade easily split the clouds before being stowed away.
The blue and white dragon raised its nose enough to increase its altitude and to look up into the night sky.
There, it saw the stars.
It was a moonless night. Even with the city lights down below, the stars of the heavens were bright this far up in the sky.
However, a change came over the clouds lit by that starlight: a wave ran through them.
A spray of clouds shot up approximately three hundred meters to the right.
As that spray of clouds shot high in the sky, it moved up alongside the dragon. But instead of settling down, the spray of clouds slowly rose higher.
In an instant, something shot up above the clouds as if it had jumped.
It was a black mechanical dragon. It was three hundred meters long, so it was a midsized one.
The midsized dragon flew in an arc.
And with a cry, it dove back down into the sea of clouds.
The spray of clouds moved directly in front of the blue and white dragon.
Light gathered all across the midsized dragon’s location and that light was dark even to eyes adjusted to the darkness.
It had already prepared to fire every single one of its secondary cannons.
The midsized black dragon did so and black lines flew toward the blue and white dragon.
Harakawa heard Heo’s voice fill the entire cockpit.
She had joined with Thunder Fellow to control the machine’s output and he was in charge of the controls.
The mechanical dragon was simple to pilot. Once he sat in the seat, some kind of power held him in place without a seatbelt. Then he only had to grab the roll bars sticking out on the right and left.
…And tilt my body along with the seat.
The mechanical dragon moved using the balance of its entire body. When driving a motorcycle, one tilted the vehicle to the left or right on corners and leaned forward when accelerating. This was similar.
They were in the sky, so he could move in three dimensions, but he had picked up the horizontal alignment by flying just above the clouds earlier.
For more detailed actions like drawing those swords of light, he simply had to think it and Thunder Fellow would read his intentions and accurately reproduce the action.
All he needed now was experience.
A barrage of black light flew in front of them while they were five hundred meters from the midsized mechanical dragon.
Given their relative speeds, this was a close-range shot that was guaranteed to hit.
However, he saw the light with his eyes which were linked to Thunder Fellow’s mechanical sight and he even received its predicted movement patterns.
There were sixty-four bullets of light coming from both the left and right and thirty-two coming from both the top and bottom. The number coming from the left and right was higher, but forty-eight of those on the left and right and sixteen of those on the top and bottom were from 8-way scattershot cannons.
Harakawa was not afraid of that scattershot. For fear of destroying itself, the midsized dragon did not shoot any directly behind itself.
The scattershot bullets fired on the left and right spread out vertically like a fan and those fired on the top and bottom spread out horizontally. That formed a wall of bullets on all four sides to limit Harakawa’s actions.
“But the area behind you is still wide open.”
The bullets that flew through the corridor created by the four scattershot walls were straight shots from small cannons.
Those small cannons were installed all over the midsized dragon, so the dragon’s smaller movements caused them to vibrate. When moving about quickly, those cannons could fire plenty of bullets but could not aim properly.
Harakawa slipped through the black lines of the flying bullets and continued forward.
He avoided a few of those extreme close-range shots by letting them slip below the wings and a few more by raising the dragon’s body above them.
But when he raised the dragon and exposed its belly, a single shot was fired from almost straight ahead and toward the dragon’s underside.
He could not evade this one.
He was sure of it, but he still grabbed the right roll bar.
He threw his own body to the right and Thunder Fellow moved in kind.
The dragon side-flipped through the air with the tip of its nose at the center of rotation.
They successfully evaded the enemy’s bullet which slipped below Thunder Fellow’s back. The dragon twisted his body to stabilize his flight, poured power into the accelerators, and regained the speed lost by the side-flip.
“H-Harakawa, moving like that makes me a little sick.”
“Then hold on tight, Heo Thunderson. Not that I want to do that too often myself.”
He sighed while continuing to evade.
He could pull off some surprisingly absurd actions. He had thought the dragon was like an aircraft, but it was apparently not.
He realized that a dragon was a creature that could move freely through the sky.
The wings that caught the wind were meant to stabilize its body without using any kind of power and the accelerators were simply meant to supply speed, so he found he could fly in any direction that came to mind.
As soon as he thought that, the enemy’s tail approached.
It was slowing down and Thunder Fellow explained why.
“It is stabilizing itself to increase the accuracy of its attacks.”
“That idiot. What good is a dragon if it slows down?”
“U-um, I hate to interrupt you two guys when you’re getting along, but we have to do something about this.”
“I know that. Thunder Fellow, do you have any weapons? You’ve got more than those swords, right?”
“I completed the modifications a moment ago and the limiters are under Heo’s control.”
“Eh?” said Heo.
Below the dragon, light began to gather at the end of its folded front legs.
“These are tracking shots. I have enough power to perfectly handle the cooling.”
After a moment, Heo spoke again.
“Um, Thunder Fellow? Do you know the enemy’s weakness or equipment?”
“We have yet to see-…”
“We have seen it. We saw the wreckage of an identical black dragon on the expressway…along with the wreckage of some blue ones.”
Harakawa listened to her quiet words.
“Those people were fighting for happiness, so I don’t want it to be for nothing. If you have any memory of that wreckage, I want to use that as a clue so we can fight alongside them.”
“Understood. I will scan my memory and use that data to estimate the enemy’s weaponry and a method of defeating them.”
Thunder Fellow then called Harakawa’s name and the boy nodded.
“Let’s do this, you two. Let’s win this and then thank them for guiding us to victory.”
The midsized black mechanical dragon created a corridor of bullets behind it and lowered its speed.
It stabilized all of its rear-facing small cannons by fixing the positions of its folded back legs and tail.
It fired toward the blue and white dragon flying inside the barrier formed by the four directions of scattershot.
Thirty-two beams of black light tore through the air and toward Thunder Fellow, but he showed no fear.
He accelerated further and dove into the dancing black lines sweeping through the sky.
The force of his acceleration compressed the air in front of him until it burst.
With a sound like a paper balloon popping, he flew through a white explosion of water vapor and continued forward.
He forcefully raced through the black lines.
He flew right, up and to the left, down, up and to the right, and finally straight ahead to leave all the black lines behind.
And all the while, he fired his own attacks.
He fired white glowing blasts of lightning from the base of his wings.
The twin lightning strikes flew in arcs as if to slam into the enemy and more were fired in quick succession.
The lightning blasts sounded like tearing paper as they roasted the air and tore into the back of the black dragon without slowing down.
The lightning targeted the small cannons turned toward Thunder Fellow.
While firing again and again, the blue and white dragon continued to move. He took constant evasive actions, but instead of focusing entirely on that, he also fired repeatedly into the enemy’s weapons.
His goal was to destroy the enemy’s weapons on the upper left side to create a safe space.
With sounds of destruction, black fragments flew into the air.
The black dragon roared. It might have been a roar of protest, of pain, or of rage.
Its left leg had been damaged. The large armor panels covering the base of the leg had been torn away.
But before those several meter pieces of armor had flown very far, they struck the four scattershot barriers.
But that was all. The cannons located there spewed smoke and fell silent.
With the midsized dragon’s left side trailing smoke, Thunder Fellow flew to that side.
But the black dragon took that opportunity to make a forced maneuver: it descended.
It let out a bestial cry and quickly lowered down.
The scattershot barrier above also descended, so that ceiling dropped toward Thunder Fellow.
The lower scattershot barrier blew away the expanse of clouds below and Thunder Fellow made a certain decision as the wind roared and dropped down.
The blue and white dragon accelerated.
He moved forward, hopped up a bit, and turned toward the left side of the base of the enemy’s tail.
The scattershot cannons creating the upper barrier were located on either side of the tail’s base and he targeted the left one.
Positioning himself to fire on the cannon meant moving into the enemy’s line of fire.
However, there was a small gap. At the base of the dome-shaped scattershot cannon, there was a one meter space between the actual cannon and where it was attached to the armor.
That created an opening.
Once he arrived within three hundred meters, Thunder Fellow shook his body to the left and right just once in order to align his position.
And from there, he quickly moved forward. His attacks did not slow as the wind roared around him.
Countless lightning blasts shot out, his charge never stopped, and the enemy’s armor peeled away and into the sky.
However, the scattershot ceiling was dropping quickly.
Nevertheless, the blue and white dragon did not give up on breaking the enemy. It poured lightning blasts into the source of that light that was difficult to see.
The attacks continued at a fast pace.
Lightning strikes could be heard tearing through the air and they joined into a single long bolt of lightning. Countless explosions of light filled the lightning’s destination.
The barrier walls lowered and the nighttime cityscape grew larger below the lower wall.
A moment later, the upper left side of the midsized dragon exploded.
The scattershot cannon had been destroyed and half of the scattershot ceiling disappeared along with it.
The ceiling was not completely gone, but the sky had opened up.
The blue and white dragon accelerated toward that starry sky.
This upwards acceleration was known as an ascent.
He used all of the functions provided by his high-speed cruising form to fly up toward the heavens. On the way, he slipped below the wreckage of the scattershot cannon and arrived above the midsized dragon.
But that black dragon did not give up.
Thunder Fellow saw it open its back and fire a barrage of arcing black homing bullets.
Even if the attack tore into Thunder Fellow, most of it would hit the black dragon itself.
It was prepared to destroy itself for this attack and the blue and white dragon did not choose to evade.
He flew between the black dragon and the black barrage that reached the top of its arc and started dropping back down from above.
An instant later, he chose to descend.
As if allowing the black barrage to pursue him, he pointed straight down from directly above the midsized black dragon.
He made a forced downward acceleration.
Below him was the defenseless opened back of the other dragon.
He continued on.
While dropping and raising his speed, he opened his mouth.
The white light of his dragon cannon could be seen inside that mouth.
The sound of the blast resembled a crashing wave.
The pillar of light was more than twenty meters across and it pierced through the midsized mechanical dragon’s back and out its stomach.
And after ending the attack, Thunder Fellow forcibly twisted his body around and slipped past the other dragon’s side. He swiftly moved from the top to the bottom.
With his gaze almost grazing along the empty cityscape on the surface below, he corrected his trajectory to fly forwards. Behind him, he heard the black barrage hit the midsized dragon.
The repeated strikes and explosions of light shook the wind.
One especially loud explosion surpassed the blue and white dragon for just an instant, but it was drowned out by the city being destroyed in the machine’s fall.
A few components flew past the blue and white dragon while trailing smoke, but he overtook them again.
And that was all.
He changed his course and flew up into the night sky.
There, Thunder Fellow accelerated and lightly waved his wings up and down as if in thanks.
He was pointed toward the North Star visible in the sky and he saw the lights of Kunitachi and Tachikawa.
A number of shadows were visible in those two cities that the JR Chuo Line ran through.
Those shadows were the black child craft which had already formed up to intercept him.
Thunder Fellow did not hesitate.
He flew straight into that group of shadows.
Diana ran along the railroad.
She was on the Tachikawa end of the elevated portion of the Chuo Line between Kunitachi and Tachikawa. Tachikawa’s station was about three hundred meters away.
The nighttime cityscape to the north and south could be seen on either side of that line which ran east to west.
Both Tachikawa and Kunitachi were prosperous around the station, but the rest was filled with residential areas and parks.
She could see a long way through the city.
Above the lights of empty houses, she saw dark shadows in the sky.
They were black mechanical dragons. A formation of a dozen or so of the small child craft flew through the sky. They were lined up at set intervals to form both rows and columns.
But Diana was not fighting them.
Her opponent was a different group of small dragons prepared elsewhere.
And the group she was fighting had just as many as in that aerial formation.
“What a pain!”
She let out a bitter smile and two small mechanical dragons flew toward her from the northern sky to her right.
Black Sun had prepared these small dragons for them.
Only ten minutes before, she had come here with Odor and the others to confront Black Sun and they had set up a defensive line. She had filled the width of the concept space with a paper barrier in preparation for a direct confrontation.
However, Black Sun had prioritized continuing west.
He had rammed his own child craft into the barrier and sacrificed them to open a path.
Odor had sent impact after impact into the giant machine, but Black Sun had ignored them, even as his armor was smashed.
She remembered what Odor had shouted then.
“Are you running!? Are you running, Black Sun!?”
Black Sun had accelerated as if turning his back and he had chosen to continue west even as American UCAT’s mechanical dragons had fired on him and Diana had sent paper attacks at him.
He had left it all to his child craft.
That was just how much he desired the west.
Vesper Cannon was in the Okutama Japanese UCAT building to the west.
That cannon had once shot down Black Sun. White Creation and the other dragons had joined with it so it could evolve into the cannon needed to defeat the similarly evolved Black Sun.
Black Sun feared that simple cannon that had no one to use it.
That’s right, thought Diana. He understands.
“The bearer of the weapon to defeat him is headed this way.”
Just as Odor had said, Black Sun was indeed running. He was running from what pursued him.
And that told Diana what she needed to do.
“I can help those pursuing and those waiting up ahead by drawing the enemy to me and defeating them!”
Strength filled her gaze as she looked to the sky to her right.
The two small dragons descending from the night sky were getting close.
Their roar filled the air and she estimated they had arrived within a kilometer of her.
She responded by pulling paper from her pocket and throwing it. The paper flipped around once in the air.
And the face of one of the swiftly flying mechanical dragons exploded.
Rather than a traditional explosion, the word “pressure” burst and produced a great sound of impact.
The direct hit shattered the armor on the dragon’s face and bent it backwards in the air. It was thrown off course and it crashed into a residential area of north Kunitachi before it could slow down.
However, the other dragon was still alive. Wind wrapped around it as it flew, but…
A sudden attack from the upper left slammed into it.
A metallic sound rang out as proof of the hit and the black dragon flipped around before its back crashed into the elevated railroad.
Diana made a small jump.
At the same time, the elevated railroad was blasted to the side with the sound of breaking stone.
The Chuo Line had one track on the top and one on the bottom and it was made from a metal bridge and a concrete base, but the impact of the dragon created a large curve to the south. The ripped-up metal bridge and the creaking and splitting concrete base expressed just how much force the impact had contained.
Everything obeyed the impact and bent to the south.
At the leading edge of all that, the small mechanical dragon had been bent into a shallow V-shape along its back, but it soon reached the limit of its flexibility.
With the sound of a metal can falling to the floor, its body fully bent.
That was the end. Its body split open at the belly and the metal motors and circulators were exposed to the northern sky. White smoke rose from the framework that still desired to move.
And as a roar escaped its mouth, it exploded.
At the same time, Diana fell. She no longer had the elevated railroad to stand on. The curving railroad’s concrete base had been ripped up from the ground and the entire structure had shifted about five meters southward.
“Oh, dear. Oh, dear.”
She brought a hand to her wavy silver hair and instantly pulled out a paper broom.
She tossed it into the empty air below her feet.
And she stood on it.
It stopped her fall like a bridge fixed in midair.
She looked around in search of the one who wielded the power that had knocked aside one of the dragons charging toward her.
She called out but could not find him. She simply heard a sound and saw repeated showers of metal sparks in the western sky toward the station.
He was there and he had likely had the same idea as her, but he had helped her on top of that.
She narrowed her eyes, looked up in the sky, and saw some new opponents flying in an arc through the night sky.
There were three of them, but that was not all. The sound of the railroad’s destruction had disturbed the aerial formation of black mechanical dragons.
The dozen or so small dragons were looking down at her, but she smiled back at their gazes and movements.
“It’s not polite to stare too much at a woman’s face, you know?”
With that question, she stuck both her hands in her hair.
All of the presences in the air responded with motion.
Their first action was either to prepare to accelerate and charge in or to prepare to fire on her.
A moment later, she saw flames bloom in the night sky.
There were seven fiery blossoms in all and the wind had already passed through by the time they appeared.
Diana visually confirmed what had created those flowers.
As she spoke, the sound finally reached her. She heard seven metallic sounds of the seven mechanical dragons being sliced in two, the seven muffled explosions, and the single gust of wind that tore through them all and continued into the western sky.
She heard the sound of something flying through that lonely sky.
She heard the westward flight of a blue and white mechanical dragon.
Heo clung directly to their speed in the night sky.
Her five senses had combined with Thunder Fellow. Oddly enough, her senses felt the same as always despite her limbs and face no longer being human.
When she reached out and touched her face, she felt her arm bending like normal and the normal sensation of her fingers. However, her vision saw the mechanical dragon’s front leg bend and touch the armor of its face with its sharp claws.
Thunder Fellow commented on that fact.
“I am applying a two-way conversion to your senses, so there should be no difference from normal.”
She did not entirely understand, but she appreciated the lack of unease over having changed form. In fact, the flow and chill of the air that Thunder Fellow would always be feeling felt ticklish to her. His frame was exposed and only surrounded by a bit of armor, so…
…It feels like I’m naked.
But at the moment, her body was swiftly soaring through the sky.
She could not see Harakawa who was piloting, but she could speak with him.
And her entire body could feel the effects of his piloting.
…We’re moving so fast.
Her senses were based on Thunder Fellow’s and thus accelerated to a certain extent, but it seemed most of the sensory alignment was allotted to Harakawa who needed more processing speed as he piloted.
Currently, he was set so his senses were compressed to about ten times their normal speed while Heo’s were closer to five times.
Their speed was approximately 1200 kph, but it felt like 120 kph with Harakawa’s sensory speed and 240 with Heo’s.
Her eyes could not keep up.
When high in the sky, the ground was so far away that their flight felt slower, but now…
“W-we’re flying into the city!!”
She saw the city flying by so close below her that she felt she was going to trip over it. She saw the elevated railroad cutting by from left to right in the distance and she saw a few black forms in the sky overhead.
For some reason, the railroad seemed to bend toward them, but the next thing she knew, they seemed close enough to reach out and touch it.
In an instant, Harakawa desired to draw Thunder Fellow’s swords.
Heo gave permission an instant later.
As soon as she did, swords of light shot out on the left and right and she felt them hit something.
Seven somethings, to be exact. Three on the right and four on the left.
They would reach the railroad in an instant.
Heo heard explosions behind them, but she also heard Harakawa’s voice.
“This is just a series of one-shot battles. Thunder Fellow, you need to get a little more meat on your bones. You’re built too much like a racecar. I wish you were built so it was easier to evade.”
“I’ve heard American UCAT’s mechanical dragons can transform. Can you not do that, Thunder Fellow?”
“Look at your own body, Heo Thunderson. The frame is almost entirely built along a single axis to mount the engine. It’s a slender build for a high-speed cruising form.”
“The transformation mechanism was eliminated during the evolution process,” explained Thunder Fellow. “The transforming type switches between high-speed, high-mobility, and combat forms to obtain the benefits of each. This gives them the greatest ability to approach the enemy, but…”
“But?” asked Heo. “But what?”
“They are considerably less durable. The primary frame is delicate and the armor must be made thinner to allow clearance for the moving parts during transformation. It is a good design for attack, but it cannot protect those inside.”
And that was what Thunder Fellow wanted least.
“So reinforcing the frame would make it too heavy and less flexible?” asked Harakawa. “Is that why you made a fixed high-speed frame to ensure the enemy couldn’t leave you behind?”
“That is the basic idea.”
“I see,” said Heo.
That was when Heo spotted someone in the quickly moving scenery. Diana Zonburg stood on the elevated railroad passing by below.
The woman’s usual smile was looking resolutely up at her.
They immediately passed her by.
Heo’s vision was already over a residential district in northern Kunitachi and they began to curve toward Tachikawa Station. It all happened at such high speed that she felt meaningless fear at the speed itself.
However, she managed to regulate her breathing.
…We are fighting.
The organization named UCAT was fighting to protect the world. Diana, Roger, the people she had passed by in Okutama, the boy named Sayama she had spoken to on the phone, the pilots of the blue mechanical dragons, and many other people had been fighting in the past, were fighting in the present, and would continue to fight in the future.
She took a breath. Cold air entered Thunder Fellow’s air cooling system and it chilled her body and mind.
She clung to their speed so she would not be tossed around and she focused on herself once more.
She was using too much of her strength. Harakawa was controlling her body, but she was defending herself against those quick movements. She was desperately clinging to their speed so she would not be thrown off no matter what he did.
“Um,” she called out to check on something. “Are you okay, Harakawa?”
“Yes. I feel like we’ll be blown away if I make the slightest mistake, but I’m getting by.”
“You mean…I’m hard to ride?”
“What are you saying, Heo?”
That question made her wonder if she had said anything odd, but she did understand one thing. Just as she had suspected…
…I’m not holding on.
If anything, she was the one being embraced. She was the one producing the speed, after all.
Um, she began in her mind. Is Harakawa embracing me? But if I asked him, he’d probably get mad.
And so she changed her question.
“Uh, Harakawa? Is this fun?”
He raised their speed and accelerated through the sky.
They were approaching the area north of Tachikawa Station, but she no longer felt the fear from before.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. It’s been a while since I got to go all out like this.”
“Is that so?”
Heo gave a sigh of relief. She was happy to find he did not hate this weapon of speed she had become. And so she mentally embraced him back as he sat inside of her body.
“It’s fun for me too.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Heo Thunderson. …And Thunder Fellow, I have a request.”
“What is it?”
“Slowly lower my heightened senses to only five times normal. I’ve gotten the top score in my club’s traditional ‘beat the traffic camera’ contest four terms in a row, so send the extra processing power to Heo.”
“Eh? But, um, I don’t need that much!” she protested. “I’m fine at the same speed as you.”
She was certain that she could leave this to him.
Instead of clinging on to endure it, she had to embrace him back and entrust herself to him.
When they had passed by Diana earlier, she had recalled what the woman had said back at the base.
…A true woman must help a careless gentleman make his way and she must have the consideration to let him take the first step and lead the way.
I haven’t made it that far, though, she added with a bitter smile in her heart.
“Let’s go, Harakawa.”
“We’re already on our way, Heo Thunderson. On our way to where the answer lies.”
His instruction to accelerate reached her. It felt like a push on the back and she interpreted it as being embraced from behind. She answered with speed and by embracing his existence within her.
A slight limiter had been placed on their output thus far. It had corresponded to the fear in her mind, but it vanished now.
Thunder Fellow lit the afterburners he had yet to use.
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