The Unexplored Summon Blood Sign:Volume4 Chapter3

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Stage 03: The Elegant Throne which Invites That Queen[edit]

“Now, Kyousuke-kun. No, Alice (with) Rabbit.”

“Save us.”

(“Now” Stage 03 Open 06/03 12:45)

(“Past” Stage 03 Open 06/02 23:20)

The Elegant Throne which Invites That Queen

Part 1[edit]

(Timeline “Now”)

It was past noon in a luxury hotel room as quiet as the Mary Celeste.

Kyousuke covered his face with a hand.

He did not understand the meaning of the vision in his mind.

“…Wait a second.”

“?”

The White Queen really did tilt her head like a navigator who had been told to wait.

“What am I involved in here? What happened after that job request?”

The vessel closest to him had vanished.

This new information could entirely change what that meant. He did not want it to be true, but he could feel himself beginning to measure Himekawa Mika as an enemy. He began to suspect she had maliciously dressed and acted like an old acquaintance to earn his trust.

He needed to investigate this again.

Who was his enemy? On whose side did Max Layard and Ellie Slide of Perfect Game stand? What was his true relationship with Himekawa Mika, his missing vessel? What about the Deltaston family with its leader lying here as a loser? Who was connected to whom, who was harming whom, and what purpose had there been in opening the door to Pandemonium’s processing core?

“Brother, I doubt all the information you need can be found in this room. After all, the person who did this to that man will have been inside here. Wouldn’t they have retrieved and disposed of anything they didn’t want seen?”

“I don’t need documents. I just have to talk to him myself.”

Kyousuke crouched down and focused on the old man in a gown who lay on the floor while slowly and endlessly acting like he was walking with a cane.

He was a lot like a zombie in the original sense of the word and he would obey anyone’s instructions, but he could barely think and could not understand any complicated signs.

Kyousuke kept it short.

“Tell me.”

“…?”

“Tell me everything about Pandemonium and what’s hidden there.”

“That question is too indirect,” commented the Queen.

“That’s fine.”

Kyousuke cut off her disruption as the old man on the floor began speaking quietly.

“…Pandemonium’s convenience is no more than a decoy to hide its true purpose…”

“Its true purpose?”

“Pandemonium is not…just a Box meant to simplify the Summoning Ceremony… It is meant to destroy the established hierarchy of Materials…and create a new possibility…”

“Possibility?”

“…So that we might receive the divine right of kings…”

“Go back one. Destroy?”

By repeating a single word or phrase from what he said, Kyousuke could guide the old man’s slow and wandering conversation.

It started as a series of random words, but he was cutting deeper and closer to the crux of the matter.

“Pandemonium can manifest new Materials…that ignore the existing costs and sound ranges. For example, even if you summon the same Material…the strength will be different between the Blood-Sign method and the Pandemonium method…”

“…?”

One phrase caught his interest.

“The strength will be different?”

“The Divine and Unexplored-classes summoned with the Blood-Sign method…do not come with their full strength. …There is always a factor of decay. Is Seth of Egyptian Mythology or Yamata-no-Orochi of Japanese Mythology stronger…? There is no definite answer…but with the Blood-Sign method, the answer is Yamata-no-Orochi because it has a higher cost. Even the sound ranges lose all meaning once the difference in cost reaches 10… It comes down to the summoning method and the compatibility between the gods…”

Kyousuke was unsure what word to choose.

He placed his hand on his chin while crouching.

“Factor of decay?”

“The actual equation is unknown. …But if the power of the gods can be increased or decreased based on the summoning method, it would also be possible to create a great enough increase to overturn the existing hierarchy… A Divine-class would be able to defeat an Unexplored-class…or the White Queen at the very top could be dragged down from the throne of the strongest…”

That felt like having a stake driven through his heart.

He tried to be extremely careful so the Queen would not notice, but the silver twintail girl simply smiled elegantly.

“Overturn the existing hierarchy?”

“The Blood-Sign method…categorizes Materials with letters and uses that to assist in the summoning. You could say the preexisting gods are managed via spelling and that overwrites them in a form that humans can perceive… So couldn’t the same god’s cost and sound range change if they are represented with another word? Think of it as the difference between the Norse goddess Freyja…and Freya. This has never been practically proven with the Blood-Sign method…but the theoretical possibility exists, so there must be a loophole somewhere. And that fits perfectly with our objective in the Deltaston family…”

If writing was not an aspect of civilization gifted to mankind by the gods, then the gods’ names were being expressed with a human language. To put it another way, it may have been like switching a telescope’s lens while viewing a star, but it was all just a theory. Kyousuke thought it was a very dangerous tightrope walk.

“Your objective?”

“The Deltaston family desires absolute authority… That perfect authority would be unshakable by anyone…not even the White Queen at the very, very top… By escaping the fear and control of that Queen…man can finally return to being man. In accordance with the concept of noblesse oblige…we in the Deltaston family are obligated to take on that burden…”

Kyousuke breathed a heavy sigh.

In any other situation, he would have loved to listen to this until morning.

“Escape?”

“By summoning the Wicked ‘Green’ Woman who Fills the World with Empty Treasure…one of the Three from the Unexplored-class…and increasing her power with Pandemonium…we will tear down the hierarchy and defeat the White Queen…”

The old man was probably telling the truth.

In fact, his zombie-like state did not leave him with enough of a will to lie.

The boy slowly stood up and the White Queen gave an exasperated comment.

“What a foolish idea.”

“Perhaps so.” Kyousuke decided to avoid argument for the time being. “But this is strange. If they were trying to summon the Wicked Green Woman, then why is it the White Queen standing here?”

“Who knows. Why don’t you ask him?”

He tried, but the old man said nothing.

Kyousuke frowned.

“He can’t refuse to answer, so he must not have the answer. Does that mean he wasn’t the one that did it?”

It also bothered him that the head of the Deltaston family had been defeated and that a third party may have taken control of Pandemonium. That might also explain why the Wicked Green Woman had become the White Queen.

And there was one more thing.

How did the Pandemonium method work? Was Himekawa Mika inside the White Queen? She had supposedly been a Holy Key Woman, a special vessel that could instantly summon a specific Divine-class, but could he explain the discrepancy between that and the White Queen’s presence?

He tried asking about every term he could think of and received a surprising answer.

“Pandemonium is a symbol of a parliament, not an absolute monarchy.”

“Hm? A parliament?”

“Even if each individual person can only reach the Divine-class…bringing them all together to reach a single conclusion can overthrow heaven. …Divvying up a single Material among all 353 of them allows us to stably summon an Unexplored-class…”

Kyousuke felt something heavy weighing on his stomach.

It took him some time to grasp what those simply spoken terms meant.

“Wait a minute.”

“…”

“That wouldn’t work. You divvy up a single Material to multiple vessels? That might be theoretically possible, but can you really divide it back up into the 353 individual vessels once the limit is up!? In the worst case, wouldn’t you end up with a single hunk of flesh!?”

“Brother, you are speaking too complexly. A loser’s mind cannot process that.” The White Queen sighed. “And he is saying hundreds of sacrifices are acceptable if it means constructing a thousand-year kingdom outside my control. Do you really think that man who seems himself as a hero has enough of a conscience left to care about what happens to them afterwards?”

“Goddammit!!” spat out Shiroyama Kyousuke.

The information he lacked formed an ominous silhouette and tormented his mind.

Himekawa Mika was missing.

All of those vessels had not been in the processing core.

The White Queen had already been irregularly summoned.

How did it all fit together? Why was it the White Queen instead of the Wicked Green Woman, why had Himekawa Mika had him open the door to the processing core, and why had he lost his memories in the first place? He still did not have the whole picture, but a bad feeling still spiraled through his mind. His soul was warning him that digging further would only reveal despair.

He was still missing something needed to know it all.

He faced the head of the Deltaston family with far more aggression than before.

“Tell me!!”

“…”

“What would cause you the most trouble!?”

What if the many vessels had not wanted to continue with the Deltaston family’s plan?

What if they had wanted to avoid being a single hunk of flesh?

What if they had fought back?

And the old man gave a simple answer.

“Summoning a strengthened White Queen…using Pandemonium which was meant to summon the Wicked Green Woman… If the very, very top is boosted further…there will truly be no way to defeat her…”

Kyousuke felt a pain like his head was splitting open.

He had finally reached the crux of the issue.

Part 2[edit]

(Timeline “Past”)

The information in his mind was still a collection of fragments which did not connect into a clear whole.

Even so, the distinct puzzle pieces poured into his mind along with a cloyingly sweet smell.

“Yes.”

“There was a mistake in the job request.”

“I lied.”
“But there were indeed 353 vessels here.”

“Including me.”

“In other words.”
“It was already too late.”

“Pandemonium’s practical test was completed and she was summoned.”

“The Wicked Green Woman was.”
“All of us were combined into a single Unexplored-class.”

“And we could not return to normal.”

“In other words, the combined vessel is ‘me’.”
“Even I am not entirely sure if I am really Himekawa Mika.”
“But.”

“This was not your fault.”

“It was this way from the beginning.”

“It was all over before you had even started.”

“So.”

Shiroyama Kyousuke heard something like sparks bursting near his ears and then it all finally combined into a clear image in his mind. His senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch all combined into a single vision.

He was in Pandemonium’s central processing core.

The giant cubic cage had 50 meter sides. Each wall was covered in detailed geometric patterns with ripples of red, green, and yellow light running through them.

Countless chairs were carefully arranged in the otherwise empty conference room.

It was a space with no master.

“…This is wrong,” groaned Kyousuke.

He faced the bluish-black ponytail woman smiling sadly a short distance away and his voice rose to a nearly shouted plea.

“But this is definitely wrong!!”

He suddenly found people standing on either side of Himekawa Mika.

It was Max Layard and Ellie Slide.

“Listen, Kyousuke-kun. The White Queen’s presence can easily distort people’s common sense. You have to have seen that yourself. It is true of those who obey her and those who oppose her.”

She showed no caution.

She wordlessly told him they had been working together from the beginning and she pressed a hand to the center of her chest.

“The 353 vessels were combined into a single Unexplored-class and returned to human form once more, but I don’t know how long this body will last with hundreds of souls inside it. I have no proof that the individual who has risen to the surface is really the person you know. But if Pandemonium is proven successful and deemed effective against the White Queen, the Deltaston family…no, anyone who is drawn to similar delusions will attempt the same thing. They will be so focused on their lofty goal that they will fail to question the sacrifices.”

“Then…”

“It is not about whether or not this can actually defeat the White Queen. It just has to appear possible. That is enough to hopelessly distort mankind. If the power was insufficient, they only need to increase it. Either they mass-produce Pandemoniums or they increase the number of vessels being sacrificed. And once they start thinking like that, there will be no stopping them.”

“Then are you saying you’ve given up on saving yourselves?”

“Kyousuke-kun.”

It was a truly gentle voice.

And then she opposed him for the sake of her own goal.

“This is only a hunk of flesh taking this form. Even if you can speak with me, feel my warmth, and watch me move, you were too late for the original 353 people. We were the introduction. So you don’t need to think about saving us. To put it another way…yes. Kyousuke-kun, are you familiar with mystery novels? The wealthy master of a mysterious mansion dies and his family begins a ruthless conflict over his fortune. When the detective accepts the job from a client carrying a letter predicting another murder, can he save the man who already died? And would anyone call it a failing that he cannot?”

“…!!!!!”

“So we want you to solve the ‘original case’, Kyousuke-kun.” The woman in the tight skirt suit thinly smiled and laughed. “Our ‘success’ here will accelerate Pandemonium. We do not know if another 353 will be consumed here or if a second and third Pandemonium will be constructed on the opposite side of the globe, but there will be more sacrifices now that there has been a success.”

A success.

Another 353.

“Hey, Kyousuke-kun, didn’t you find it odd? We, the 353 Holy Key Women here, were all sacrificed, so who were the ones giving the presentation at the D.R.O.K. booths? Why are there Holy Key Women beyond the 353? That is what I am talking about.”

“That’s a second set…? No, spares to fill any possible gaps?”

“They will be next. No, I…we, will not allow them to be sacrificed. We will not allow a sacrifice caused by our actions.”

Either way, the “rate of consumption” was bound to increase if the project proved successful.

It was irritating, but Pandemonium was incredibly convenient.

Just like the book describing the end of the Angolmois, it could be used to mislead and deceive people, fill them with anxiety, and lead them to rely on you.

If they were mass-produced and people were able to keep the various Unexplored-classes all to themselves, it would indeed bring an everlasting prosperity to the Deltaston family.

They would have absolute authority in which any tyranny was allowed.

They would hold the divine right of kings.

“That’s why you called me here? You knew the 353 vessels were not in the central processing core, you knew they had already been sacrificed, and you manipulated me with the job request?”

“Yes. Because we want you to destroy this place. We want you to thoroughly destroy this Box.” Himekawa spoke like a ghost pointing to its murderer. “Pandemonium is sturdy enough to take a hit from the Lady of Purple Lightning’s power, even if it had decayed a fair bit. Even with the help of Perfect Game here, we cannot be certain we can absolutely destroy the living data. And if even a slight sample remains, a self-proclaimed hero like the Deltaston family will certainly build another one. So we thought about how to use the resources on hand to bring about the greatest destruction. And the answer could not have been more obvious.”

Kyousuke felt something unpleasant running down his spine.

“We summon the White Queen. And in the way the Deltaston family would hate most. We take the despicable strengthening idea they proudly prepared to defeat the White Queen, we use that to thoroughly increase the Queen’s own power, and we let her loose. The hunter and the prey. We will give the label of hunter to the nemesis meant to wear the label of prey.”

And this would solve everything because…

“If Pandemonium is destroyed by the White Queen’s power, it will announce to the world that this method cannot oppose the peak of the Unexplored-class. Even the Deltaston family will be forced to accept it. This is not an issue of the process or conditions. This will destroy the twisted idea that mankind can even attempt to defeat the Queen. That is the best way to save the next 353.”

Kyousuke looked to Himekawa’s neck.

In addition to her whistle, she wore a sin necklace with a number of small decorations.

The mug referred to heavy drinking.

The lips referred to trickery or deception.

The 12-sided die may have been a symbol of a gambling addiction.

“How can I accept that…?”

“And on top of that, we will stimulate the White Queen. We must ensure she puts on the greatest performance with her cruelty. That is where you come in, Kyousuke-kun. You are the only person in the world with the ‘Loved by the White’ Award.”

“There’s no way in hell I’m accepting that!! The Queen can save people? We can rest easy and let her take care of it? That’s just succumbing to her evil!! You’re just running into a future barrier, coming up with an arbitrary justification, and sadly deciding it might be worth celebrating if it means being killed by her! Besides, what happens to all of you then? This isn’t just about Himekawa Mika. What happens to the 353 souls here right now!?”

“Oh? You can’t make a guess?”

“I didn’t notice it, I overlooked it, and I thought it was just a biological component supporting Pandemonium…yes, something like a parallel DNA computer. Until I arrived here, anyway!!”

Kyousuke and Himekawa had seen something just before arriving at this Box.

They had crossed a narrow metal catwalk with giant translucent spheres covering the ground below. A quick estimate had suggested there were more than 100 of them.

Himekawa sighed once and gave the answer.

“Kyousuke-kun, do you remember my keyhole?”

“That thing on your tailbone?”

“Yes, but the original designs had it at the center of my chest. The key was made to enter my heart and turn.”

“…”

It was obvious what that meant.

The location had changed.

There was a difference between the original Himekawa Mika and the one here right now.

“After the Wicked Green Woman summoning experiment, the Unexplored-class left, but there were not 353 bodies left over. Only a single flesh cocoon. You could say that I am the Himekawa Mika who was born then.”

“Then…those transparent spheres…”

“You understand, don’t you? I could not ignore the remains of the cocoon after it burst open, so I took emergency measures. Luckily, the fragments split into 353 pieces that formed spheres on their own. All I did was stick tubes in them to supply oxygen and nutrients.”

“Are those…embryos?”

“Probably. When you think about losing your soul, you might imagine a rapid aging, but it seemed to work differently this time. Losing the soul means a rejection of the soul’s accumulation and experience points, so the body’s growth was reversed and it returned to an embryo that has yet to even become a fetus. However, the body’s volume could not disappear, so the embryo’s size is between 40 and 50 liters. In other words, about as big as a balance ball.”

She had said it had split into 353 masses.

Then who was the Himekawa Mika here?

No, it may have been the same regardless. None of the many embryos had a soul and all of the souls had gathered in “Himekawa Mika”. She just so happened to be the one on the surface, but she was essentially a new body in which all of the vessels had gathered.

Those spheres out there were the same as unfertilized eggs.

They had the white and the yolk, but no amount of warming them could make them grow.

“Then isn’t that even worse?” Kyousuke forced out the worst possibility. “What happened to the souls of the missing 353 people? If they’ve simply mixed together, there’s nothing we can do, but what if they’re still in the process of doing it? We might still be able to do something and we need bodies for them to return to. If Pandemonium is supporting those embryos, then we can’t just destroy it! Do that and all of the souls inside you will lose anywhere to return to!! And…”

“…”

“Your own body won’t last… You have to know how absurdly unnatural your current state is. If you don’t let the excess souls escape, that flesh container will burst!!”

Himekawa Mika did not answer.

She simply smiled calmly.

“Say it.”

She had counted on this.

Kyousuke hated that look on her face, so he forced out the resentful heat burning deep in his stomach.

“Say it!! In front of me! Say what you really wanted to say!! Relying on the Queen? You’ll be happy as long as she destroys everything? Yeah, right. That shallow textbook benevolence won’t fulfill your heart!! There’s no ‘next time’ when it comes to saving people. There’s no order to it! You don’t need to decide it based on what’s possible and impossible! You can be more selfish and greedy!! When you’re saving people as a human being, it’s no time to be putting limits on anything!!”

“We have two ways of stimulating the White Queen.”

The woman who looked so much like Madam Professor was not listening to Kyousuke.

She simply watched with a smile like he was a child throwing a tantrum.

“The first, Kyousuke-kun, is placing you by her side. After all, you are Loved by the White. Even if she is an extraordinary monster, she will still want to look good in front of her beloved. If you ask her just once, she is sure to instantly smash the Box into oblivion.”

She continued coldly.

“And the second, Kyousuke-kun, is to persecute and kill you in front of her. Once again, you are Loved by the White. What better trigger is there to send that peak of the Unexplored-class on a rampage? For this one, no one even needs to ask her. As long as the Queen is enveloped in bottomless rage, Pandemonium will overheat and destroy itself as it supports the summoning. …So Kyousuke-kun, which would you prefer?”

In other words…

Whether Kyousuke won or lost, the stage was set so he would cause the White Queen to destroy Pandemonium. That was Himekawa Mika’s plan.

The Perfect Game duo took a step toward Kyousuke.

Why was Perfect Game obeying Himekawa?

Did Government gain something from Pandemonium’s destruction?

Or was it a matter of personal feelings?

Even if Kyousuke used an Incense Grenade to fight, there was nothing he could do when his vessel was working against him. In the worst case, she would summon a Divine-class through the alternative Holy Key Woman method and the Blood-Sign Summoning Ceremony would not respond.

No.

A practical test using the 353 of them had apparently already proven they could summon the Unexplored-class Wicked Green Woman with the turn of a key, so if things were set up just right, it was possible they could summon the White Queen right away.

That was just about the worst case scenario for a flesh-and-blood human.

“Now, Kyousuke-kun. No, Alice (with) Rabbit.”

Himekawa Mika spoke the cursed words without understanding what they actually meant.

Save us.”

He would be thrown into the greatest evil!!

“…To hell with that."

Shiroyama Kyousuke adjusted his grip on his Blood-Sign.

He did not know how much he could actually do. The Summoning Ceremony had been almost entirely taken from him and he was faced with a Government 500 level as well as Incense Expert Ellie Slide, a legendary vessel said to be able to amplify her partner’s power by 500 Awards. On top of that, a single authorization key in the keyhole on Himekawa Mika’s tailbone and she might be able to summon the very, very top. The situation could not have been worse.

But.

Even so.

The fighting spirit did not vanish from Alice (with) Rabbit’s eyes.

“If you don’t get it, then I’ll show you. True salvation has no room for that pure white! It has to be brought about by human hands!! Don’t let her blind you and lead you away from the essence of salvation. What was it you really thought while you struggled in this dark, dark Box? Were you hoping someone you’ve never seen or heard of would be saved!? Of course not. Your bodies melted away in some bizarre experiment, hundreds of souls were removed from their bodies, and Himekawa Mika is about to burst from within despite just barely surviving it all. And you expect me to believe you’ll be happy as long as you can protect someone? Not a chance!!!!!!”

Kssshhh

Kssshhh

“Hm, I had a feeling it would come down to this. Himekawa Mika’s attempt at the White Queen was the most over-the-top and she made it pretty far, so I started to think it might happen after all, but a failure is a failure. We’ll have to make up for this somewhere.”

He heard a voice.

It was a young girl’s voice, but it was as cold as can be.

Fingertips moved along the handle of an axe and operated the flute-like keys.

“What caused you to start viewing Pandemonium as a threat? Did you think the world revolves around you? There are 353 vessels here, so there are 353 new summoning methods. Just as someone thought about making an attack on Pandemonium with the Attach Saint Project, the Holy Key Women, or the individual limited Incense Grenades, the trigger for you was the summon bombing. That is what you used to come this far. Of course, most of the 353 projects are empty theories and those attempts either ended without even getting close to Pandemonium or they’re still pathetically spinning their wheels outside. You used that bombing for a quite a lot: to steal the VIP evacuation route map, to slip past the anti-personnel radar with the crater lakes you had created, and so on. A single book points to a single conclusion and you seem to be the closest to reaching the ending.”

BloodSign v04 196.jpg

Ellie Slide.

Her voice droned on and on so much that Kyousuke lost his sense of time.

Small colorful bottles were attached to the back of her axe and they gave off a damp light as she pushed at the caps like cylinders.

“Then again, those were definitely the words I would expect from Freedom Award 903, but they stray from our objective. Right, Max?”

She adjusted her black and orange witch’s hat with an eagle feather in it and she dragged along the giant armor-breaking axe as its built-in electronic cigarette device scattered a sweet aroma.

It released the scent when she pulled the trigger and she intentionally altered the intensity of the vapor.

“He is extremely logical, so he will come up with the answer right away. If a win or a loss will achieve our goal of triggering a rampage from the Queen, then he only has to delay an answer indefinitely. And that would be a problem.”

The incense expert spoke while showing off her chocolate-colored swimsuit tan lines.

“And have you forgotten? I am the vessel known as Amplifier 500. I am an expert in the small field of Incense Grenade creation and I can increase my partner’s strength by 500 Awards. I specialize in preparing the requisite incense in advance.”

Kssshhh

Kssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Ksssssssshhhhhhhhh

“Simply put, this phase was a failure. You rejected Himekawa Mika’s invitation, you refused to abandon the few for the sake of the many, and you did not selfishly summon and rely on the White Queen. Now, we must reset the stage to reuse this stubborn 900 level. So give us a little more time to work behind the scenes. You are so skilled that you are a bit difficult to control, so beginning this again now would only lead to another failure. My incense will rob you of your short-term memory and we will set things up while you take your time figuring out what happened. Okay, Alice (with) Rabbit?”

Kssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

“Don’t worry.”

“We are used to buying time.”

“Pandemonium is a mobile fortress.”

“There is no reason that this has to happen ‘here’.”
“We have fought all around the world.”
“We have repeated this again and again and again.”

“One attempt tried to induce arrhythmia in the heart reactor.”

“One attempt feigned a virus infection to check for any weaknesses.”
“But almost every plan was crushed before it even began.”

“There have been mountains of attempts no one is even aware of.”

“At one point, I happened to meet Perfect Game.”
“At some point, we happened across Alice (with) Rabbit.”
“So.”
“We will try this as many times as it takes.”
“We are not afraid of failure.”

“As long as it gradually brings us closer to success, anything is fine.”

“So Kyousuke-kun.”

“Until we meet again during the next phase.”

Click.

Part 3[edit]

(Timeline “Now”)

It was not so much his head as his heart.

An incredible shock raced through the center of his chest.

“Ah, gbah!!!???”

And inside the luxury hotel room, Shiroyama Kyousuke finally understood everything. He knew why he had lost his memories, why the White Queen was smiling by his side, where his vessel Himekawa Mika had gone, why Max Layard and Ellie Slide of Perfect Game had attacked him, and who had attacked the head of the Deltaston family and took control of Pandemonium to help summon the Queen.

The one piece of luck was that he could guess he had not been repeating this farce over and over.

Ellie Slide had said “this phase was a failure” and not “this phase was a failure too”.

(But it sounded like people other than me have tried a great number of methods. How long has it been since the beginning? Are the vessels’ souls still unharmed?)

He bent over with sweat pouring from his body, but he did not have time to wait to recover both physically and mentally.

How much time had he lost?

What were Ellie Slide, Max Layard, and Himekawa Mika up to?

Had they already reconstructed a new stage?

“Oh?” calmly said the White Queen.

Kyousuke also took just a half step to the left.

The very next moment, a deafening sound reached his ears and several slicing lines burned orange through the wall bordering the hallway.

No, it was not accurate to say it had cut through the wall. The opposite wall and window had also been sliced through. Needless to say, so had everything in between. If Kyousuke had not shifted his position, he would have been sliced to pieces along with the furniture.

There were a total of 32 slicing lines.

Just as the hallway-side wall fell apart and collapsed, several strange silhouettes rushed in.

They were Repliglass soldiers.

They had two extremely thick legs and slender feminine upper bodies that almost looked human. They held a two meter scabbard upright in their hands and the sword itself was attached to the end of a part shaped like a scorpion tail.

These were based on the Emperor Scorpion, a Quad Motors local suppression weapon.

But these were special models that borrowed Pandemonium’s power to summon and install just the weapons of Divine-classes.

These weapons fought summoners without a vessel or a Material.

They could be seen as the great insolence of stealing god’s punishing hammer while ignoring god’s judgment.

It went without saying that these soldiers were connected to the Deltaston family.

“The Attach Saint Project, huh? They’re only one of Pandemonium’s side shows used for camouflage, so it’s impressive that they’re willing to die for their master.”

Kyousuke was surrounded by more than 30 special weapons which raised long lightning-enveloped swords over their shoulders.

“Oh, dear. Oh, dear.”

But the White Queen’s smile maintained its elegance as she stood by his side. Her white clothing wriggled like a living creature as if to say it would soon become thousands if not millions of weapons that could carve away the fundamental materials of the world.

“I appreciate your effort if you are giving me a chance to shine, but I still cannot approve of you interfering in this tryst with my brother. That would normally be worthy of 10,000 deaths, but yes, as a compromise, I will cut that in half and have you die 5000-…”

But she was cut off.

However, that was not due to the Deltaston family once they noticed something was wrong.

It was the opposite.

After pulling his Blood-Sign from his back, Kyousuke raised his arm to the side to hold her back.

He used his body to shield the Queen and spoke without looking her way.

He used two simple words.

Stay back.

“My.”

The White Queen brought her hands to her mouth, seemingly without thinking.

She was enjoying this wonderful situation.

“My, my!! Brother, oh how lovable you are, my brother!! Hee hee hee. If that is how you want it, I suppose I can play the role of the cute princess.”

(If she takes action here, I can’t even predict the scope of the damage. So I’ll protect her…to save those poor Repliglass soldiers!!)

The Repliglass Emperor Scorpions had rushed into the hotel after receiving confused reports from within, but they were far from confident.

Their opponents were the legendarily skilled Freedom Award 903 and what was almost certainly the White Queen, peak of the Unexplored-class.

And ferocious beasts grew most violent not when they were hunting their prey, but when they were cornered and protecting themselves.

“You’re kidding. This was a surprise attack, but he still dodged Divine-class weapons!?”

“Data link established. Takemikazuchi 01 through 32 charge complete!!”

“The summoning system is unknown, but the summoner and vessel are in contact with no sign of a protective circle.”

“Kill the summoner.”

“Don’t try to fight the Queen; it’s a waste of time!! Crush the summoner now and it will all fall apart for them!!”

The Repliglass soldiers thought they knew the situation but actually knew nothing, so they rushed in to attack. The scorpion tail parts had 2 meter Japanese swords attached and electricity scattered from those. Those divine weapons could slice right through a tank like a hot knife through butter and more than 30 of them rushed in at speeds and angles far surpassing the greatest swordsman.

But with Blood-Sign in hand, Kyousuke took an extremely simple action.

He took one flowing step to the side.

That was all.

And despite that being all, the countless slicing lines failed to reach his body as they rushed in like a storm. Of course, this would never occur by pure coincidence. Even if the action had been simple, the process had involved extremely complex calculations.

Meaning…

“Even if those are divine weapons, they are equipped on Repliglass and are being controlled by mere humans.”

A light sound followed.

The tip of his Repliglass lightly tapped the slender feminine arm of one of the Emperor Scorpions.

“You are trapped by the concepts of distance and time, you follow your designs, you cannot escape your joints’ range of movement, and you cannot surpass the limits of inertial Gs.”

“Gh, ah!?”

The elbow and the shoulder.

The Blood-Sign immobilized the joints and swung them around to shake the Emperor Scorpion. The tail was also swung around wildly…and the sword of Takemikazuchi sliced through the air.

The damage mostly spread to the other Repliglass soldiers. Some had the arm or leg armor cleanly cut away and some had the feminine upper body shallowly split open vertically. And as the armor or helmets fell away, the surprisingly slender and cute girls inside were revealed.

“So it’s simple. With the Blood-Sign method, I need excellent spatial awareness and I need to determine the enemy summoner’s range of movement by observing their joints, muscles, and center of gravity. Those techniques are just as valid here.”

A powerful wind followed.

The Emperor Scorpions rushed toward Kyousuke in a state of panic instead of using a controlled fighting instinct. Kyousuke spun the captured one around and shoved it into the enemies after a single beat. He was trying to get them to destroy each other. He would guide a scorpion tail to stab into another one or he would use his Blood-Sign to knock one off balance such that it knocked another one down as well.

This was no longer a battle.

It was nothing more than a group of nails being pulled around by a magnet.

“You probably needed a human being as a summoner to summon the Divine-class weapons, but that worked against you.”

Kyousuke spun his Blood-Sign around.

He rested his weapon on his shoulder and spoke.

“If you had thoroughly eliminated all human elements and sent in entirely unmanned machines that ignore the human limits of inertial Gs, muscle strength, and skeletal structure, you might have been able to kill me pretty easily.”

He was surrounded by a pile of rubble.

And despite the storm of cuts, not a single soldier had been bisected or lost an arm or leg. They had all been defeated while just barely avoiding any injures. They shuddered at the thought of those perfect calculations and slumped to the floor.

“Brother.”

The White Queen decided it was time and spoke up.

She was in a very good mood after being protected by the ideal knight.

“What should we do now?”

“…Good question.”

The White Queen had already been summoned. Himekawa Mika and the rest of the 353 vessels had already been combined, so it might have been impossible to return them to their original bodies.

However, he had no real reason to continue obeying her request to destroy Pandemonium.

However.

There was something Shiroyama Kyousuke could not let stand: Government Award 501, Perfect Game. Max Layard and Ellie Slide had met Himekawa Mika and the others much earlier, but they had wasted any chance of truly saving them and had worked toward this conclusion instead.

He had business with them.

He also needed to pay them back for what they had done to him.

And if Perfect Game was attempting to guide Shiroyama Kyousuke…no, the White Queen, then it was obvious where they would be waiting.

He would not rely on the strongest of the strongest.

Kyousuke started toward his new destination with only his human willpower.

“I’m on my way to Pandemonium’s central processing core. I should be able to settle this there.”

The Story of a Certain Summoner and Vessel 02[edit]

Who would have thought that a beautiful peninsula known as the Green Spearhead had stuck out into ocean there just a month earlier?

There had been a mangrove teeming with life and a coral reef out in the ocean. The surrounding islands had envied the ample aquatic resources. The mountains back on the land were mostly undeveloped, so it was effectively an isolated holy ground. It may have been slow to develop technologically, but that spearhead was so blessed it did not need that technology. Water filters and chemical processing were unnecessary. One could quench their thirst just by scooping up the water in the natural springs. That was the world that should have been there.

But there was no sign of it any longer.

The surface was covered by the color white. Pure white. It was truly monochrome. The sunlight was eerily reflected and it obscured the view like a blizzard, but it was not snow or ice.

It was sugar.

It welled up at one’s feet. It filled the forest, clogged up the streams, and spread past the beach and into a portion of the ocean. The smooth white sugar covered the ground so thoroughly there was nowhere else to stand. In some places, it had absorbed the moisture and baked in the sunlight to form a caramel film just like the surface of a pudding cooked in the oven.

The scene seriously looked like it would fatally raise one’s blood sugar just by breathing in the air.

A man in a military uniform covered his mouth with a handkerchief to make sure he did not breathe in the blizzard. This went beyond his mouth and nose. He even felt a strange pain in his eyes.

As he quickly escaped indoors, he was greeted by an oddly cheerful voice.

“Hey, Max! They self-destructed for us!”

A large corporation that acted as one of Government’s many branches had sent in this suit-wearing man as a local supervisor. He clapped his hands in delight.

How many times had Max been deployed now?

From the Antarctic to Toy Dream something-or-other, he had worked all over the globe for the convenience of the higher ups, but this one was somehow different.

Max Layard was in charge of protecting the corporation and managing the transportation of supplies, but he could not stand the view inside the synthetic tent base, so he ran out.

He saw horrifying things wherever he looked.

There was no hint of the complex ecosystem that had existed before. Sugar was of course a necessary nutrient, but it was only harmful in too great a quantity. Large mammals were collapsed all over the pure white land, lots of fish floated to the surface in the sludgy streams, and even the tropical forest was already turning brown. The massive quantities of sugar were killing the animals, robbing the corpses of their moisture, and then rotting away itself.

On the coast, something like a large castle was escaping out to sea to avoid the highly sticky and thus high-resistance sugar.

It looked like an 800 meter black coffin or giant squid made of Repliglass.

(A mobile fortress. Are they really going to stick to a wait-and-see policy with their secret weapon Pandemonium too!?)

The sugary hell had swallowed up everything.

Humans were no different.

Max covered his mouth with a handkerchief so he would not breathe in the sugar blowing through the air like a blizzard and he finally spotted the person he was looking for.

The cause of it all was collapsed in a pile of sugar.

“Why did you do this?”

He had been a wise person. That strange old man had spoken with the wind and the waves and seen the meaning in the shapes of the clouds. There was no meteorological grounding to any of it, but his predictions of sudden tornadoes and storms had saved them a lot. Max had been deployed to join the other troops in this land quite recently, but even in that short time, that sage man had showed many more possibilities to an assassin who had only thought of the Summoning Ceremony as a military tool and weapon.

He had gently narrowed his eyes as the children played.

He had celebrated when the young got wed and got drunker than anyone else at the wedding despite his old age.

So…

“You had to have known you couldn’t win, old man!!”

It must have absorbed the moisture and baked solid in the sunlight. The sea of sugar had hardened like caramel, so Max had to work to drag out the old man who was half buried in it. His skin and his throat had clearly lost a lot of moisture and he apparently could not get up under his own power.

“I wanted to protect it all…”

A cracked and fragile voice answered Max.

The old man’s eyes wandered and finally moved from Max to the distant scenery.

“I just wanted to protect it all.”

Gray structures cut across the mangrove and coral sea. That facility had been built for the large corporation from Government. The troops had been deployed to protect this area which had no technological means of fighting the rising sea level caused by global warming. They were to prevent the approaching sea from flooding the land with a giant seawall. It was a large project, but the work was simple. That meant the government and civilians colluded together and some foundation or other worked with some corporation or other to take as much government money as they could. However, the work had messed with the tides and a lot of damage had been done to the fishing grounds, the coral, and the mangrove. The Green Spearhead’s traditional lifestyle had come to an end and they would clearly be reliant on international online stores for all of their supplies.

The old man and the rest of the village elders had not wanted to attack Government and drive them away.

They had been fighting something much larger.

They had been fighting the entire planet or the flow of time known as global warming.

Just like most of the Pacific, this coastline spoke of a famous sea dragon with an 8-letter name that began with T. That Divine-class was related to the creation myth of the vast ocean and the legends claimed it had created the land and the islands. The old men were not insolent enough to ask for a new world. They simply prayed to their god and asked for the Green Spearhead to be lifted up just a few dozen centimeters so they would not need the seawall or a new world.

That was all.

And yet…

“The Blood-Sign method is full of safety measures. Did you not know what you would find if you took even a step outside that? Of course you did.”

Max clenched his teeth while holding a body that looked like a dried twig.

The god’s power to bring “blessings” had been activated in error. It was the same as how too much happiness corrupted the human soul. That was the identity of this sugar-filled hell.

“You can’t make that kind of mistake just because you’re feeling trapped, you idiot!! They’re divided into the Regulation, Divine, and Unexplored-classes, but the Divine-classes really are gods. Humans can’t hope to do anything at that level!! You had to have known that! Your people had been worshiping those spirits and gods all this time, so you had to know better than anyone how helpful yet fearsome they are!!”

“I was not fighting because I thought I would win…”

The old man’s expression did not change.

No, he lacked the moisture to change it. He could not shed a tear or even move his face as he saw the unrecognizable state of his home.

“…I was fighting because I could not afford to lose.”

Max had not known.

He had not been born into wealth or poverty, but he had never once been left wanting. He had had food to eat, a place to sleep, a chance to learn, a chance to play, friends, and lovers. The rails had been laid out before him like normal and he had even found those normal things to be boring. Even when he had heard about the hidden side of the world from his uncle in the military and then actually taken a step into the world of the Summoning Ceremony, it had been more about breaking free of the boredom than about reverence. And he had found life there was not all that different.

He had become Government Award 501, Perfect Game.

Even there, he had gone by the name of an expert in the losing battles no one else wanted to deal with because he figured the competition would be relatively light when it came to preparing for withdrawals. He would take those unwinnable battles and turn them into a victory. The individuals would come to a compromise somewhere and he would find a way to lift up the entire unit. Even if they were deep in the red strategically, he would put them in the black locally to hide it in the paperwork. All’s well that ends well. Everyone wanted to get home as soon as possible. Their families and lovers were waiting for them. It was all done to help others. He had come this far with that outlook. He was not going to die on the battlefield. He would find a battle he could win or set one up that way. Quite a few vessels had gotten fed up with his self-indulgent pace and left, but he had not felt enough motivation to chase after them. After all, he had not known if he could get them to stay. That meant it was not a challenge he knew he could win. That was how he had viewed life.

And so he had not known.

Just like half of the world was like “this”, the other half was like “that”.

Just like there were those who could win like it was normal, there were those who would lose like it was normal.

“…Wait for me, old man.”

The next thing he knew, Max was shouting in the old man’s ear.

“You can’t afford to lose, right!? Then don’t you close your eyes until I get back. It isn’t over for you yet. You haven’t accomplished anything yet!!”

The situation was worse than he thought. At this rate, he could not even treat the old man. Max checked over the damage to the village, counted the number of people needing assistance, calculated a rough estimate of the type and quantity of supplies they would need, and then returned to the Government tent base. Everything he needed would be there.

He could already picture the next stage beginning.

The sugar could do more than take lives. It was a great source of nutrients. Would it begin to rot, draw in a sandstorm-like swarm of flies and roaches, and spread disease? Or would the fermentation of the microbes transform it into alcohol, creating a white world where not even the insects could multiply? Would that burn, would the fermentation process rob the area of its oxygen, or would it produce toxic gases? Or would the mountain of sugar become a great landslide once it began to rain? Several different simulations ran through his head, but all of them only made the situation worse. And that alone was correct.

Once he returned to the tent base, he found the idiots were already partying with mugs of beer in hand.

“We did it, Max! If they recognize you for your role here, then you’re going places too! This is the end of our life as Repliglass soldiers without vessels. We’re sure to get new vessels now! From what I heard, a charter plane should be arriving soon for the pre-celebration. So straighten your collar and comb your hair! We’re gonna be fighting over those vessels. You did a hell of a lot more than anyone else, so you need to argue your case!”

“What…what are you talking about!? Have you not seen the disaster outside!?”

“That’s just a weird little natural disaster. Who can be blamed for that? And the truth isn’t going to get out. They don’t have smartphones or even optical landlines here, so they won’t be sending out a single 140 character comment,” said the suit-wearing supervisor while chugging his beer. “More importantly, we were never looking to bring happiness to the Spearhead. The locals don’t matter. This was ‘philanthropy’ work. All that matters is that we fulfill the ad agency’s quota and bring a tear to the eyes of the housewives in their living rooms back home.”

He thought his back teeth would break.

They had selfishly stormed in, dammed up the sea without explaining the risks, and made a mess of the traditional life there. Did they not understand who it was that had put the people here in such dire straits? And this had all started with global warming, which could hardly be blamed on the Green Spearhead which did not even use electricity. The area had been contaminated, intruded upon, and remade without permission. Could this really be called a good deed or philanthropy? Was this what Government should be doing? On what basis could they take pride in their work?

But Max was wrong.

It went beyond even that.

“Max, humanitarian aid is a new form of war.”

He heard something unbelievable.

“There are areas our alliances don’t allow us to interfere with, but we can still build bases there in the name of providing aid. And material transportation bases are especially nice. Harbors and airports allow us to expand our effective sphere of control to the west and east and into the northern and southern hemispheres. They’re all one thrown switch away from becoming naval bases and air bases. When it’s about disaster relief, we’re at the mercy of the fickle god in heaven, but global warming is a great excuse! Rising oceans and growing deserts. If we choose the locations properly, we can easily move our chess pieces forward!! If we keep this up, we’ll be building bases like crazy and the entire globe will be covered by our flag!!”

“What…?”

“According to the military analysts in the White House, this area of sea is going to be real busy pretty soon. The higher ups decided to build several frontline bases in advance to surround a wide area of sea. So! That’s why I’m saying you’ve earned enough points to get a standing ovation from Congress. Max! Let me say it again: it’s all thanks to you. Great work!!”

He had not known that.

He had never heard anything about that.

He had simply accepted the ridiculous claim that they were deploying troops for a righteous cause, but he had still believed it would help people. He had believed it would create, protect, and spread smiles. He had believed philanthropy and humanitarian aid would allow him to avoid aiming a gun or a Blood-Sign at anyone. He had believed that was what the flags were for, what Government was here for, and why all of those goddamn soldiers had been deployed. But what was this guy saying? They had always intended to storm into the Green Spearhead, remake the foundation of life there, and build a military port or airport while registering it as a civilian facility? How was that philanthropy? What about that was aiding anyone? This was nothing more than an indirect invasion!

“But man were those old guys stupid.”

The red-faced supervisor’s lips may have been loosened by the beer because he spat out a finishing blow.

Or maybe I should be praising the Company’s forgery skills. They wanted to make sure it would fool a spectrum analysis, so they actually dug up some BCE era rock to fake that wall painting.

A terribly thin thread was drawn tight deep inside his mind.

“Max!! The ‘package’ you had them safely carry in made all the difference! It would’ve been an international incident if we had pulled the trigger, but no one can blame us if they wiped themselves out. This Spearhead is ours now. I really hated the jungle humidity, so I feel like levelling all those trees and springs to turn it all into a year-round indoor ski resort. The Green Spearhead? Hah! Am I supposed to believe it’s an emerald? A blade is useless if it isn’t made of polished steel.”

It broke.

It snapped and burned through.

“But we’ll get paid a tip at the very end, so that’s fine! With all these collapsed people, we get the added bonus of the medical aid. And the double-whammy of a mystical secret leading into disaster is sure to get us a ton of donations from bored housewives and from IT startups that want to stand out. Not that we’re actually going to save them. If they suffer and suffer and suffer some more, we can drag out how long those commercials bring in the money.”

———

“And don’t forget that sea dragon! We’ll need something even greater to calm that Divine-class. That means an Unexplored-class. And right now we can do whatever we want on this Spearhead as long as we claim it’s for humanitarian aid and disaster recovery!! The group breaking in Pandemonium is probably itching to get started. And since we’re already planning for a lot of losses, we can easily work in that kind of powerful project. Ah ha ha ha ha!!”

A loud sound burst out.

A Blood-Sign made of ski material gave a roar as it was held upside-down. It took Max a moment to realize the close-range blunt weapon disguised as a stabilizer had smashed the foolish man in the face.

He did not regret his action.

The supervisor was knocked from the table and all of the bastards trying to enjoy the party turned around at once.

The collapsed man in a suit held his broken cheek and gave an unintelligible shout.

He likely meant “Who do you think you are?”, so Max Layard immediately answered.

“Go to hell where you belong, you demons. I am Government!!!!!”

That sounded cool enough, but it was no use.

He was punched and kicked from every direction. Some idiot went too far and drew a handgun, so a scorching heat pierced Max’s side. That was when they all came back to their senses, said something about the alcohol getting to them, and dumped Max behind the tent base. The great disaster had left their unit with a fair number of rotting corpses as well, so they must have thought he would not stand out much. People were hesitant to freeze an honorable soldier and ship them like blocks of meat, so if they respectfully wrapped the body in the national flag and called it a burial at sea, he would be shark food. There would be no chance of an autopsy.

He could see an unhealthily clear blue sky up above the sugar-covered ground.

And then someone’s face appeared in Max’s fading vision. A brown girl of only about 12 was peering down at him. Her clothes looked like a combination of a Western European witch and a Native American, but who was she?

“What a pain. Even a warrior with a raging bull and chicken totem would show more caution. You should have known this would happen before it even began.” The glasses girl sounded exasperated. “A summoner is meant to summon. Why did you even think of fighting without a vessel?”

“…”

He doubted she was from the village.

Her clothing had native symbolism, but it did not seem to be that of a coastal people. And it was because she belonged to neither side that his honest thoughts slipped out.

“Don’t be stupid. I wasn’t fighting because I thought I would win. I was fighting because I couldn’t afford to lose, Miss Eagle.”

“Hmph.” The impertinent girl crossed her arms and breathed from her nose. “What is your Award number?”

“Government 501.”

The chocolate-colored witch with swimsuit-shaped tan lines laughed fiercely.

“I see. That barely passes. I don’t know if that means you have a weird sort of luck or if I’m just too nice.”

“…?”

Max was confused, so the girl continued.

“You’ve lost a shocking amount of blood, so dip your finger in it and stick it in my mouth.”

“What…?”

“I’m telling you to bind the contract. You have a Blood-Sign, but how’s your stock of Incense Grenades? If you don’t have any, I can make some for you.”

She spoke of a nearly superhuman feat as if it were child’s play.

“Once the protective circle is set up, the summoner is distanced from any internal or external causes of death until the battle ends. As far as I can tell, the bullet isn’t lodged in your body and your organs and major blood vessels are fine. And luckily, there are plenty of spectacular idiots here, so a Chain will be simple to keep going. If you buy some time and stop the bleeding between battles, you still have a chance of survival, don’t you think? And more importantly,” whispered the witch. “Don’t you have a battle you can’t afford to lose, summoner? Then get started right this instant.”

With new power…no, with the power he should have already had, a summoner stood up while carrying something he could never compromise on. There were two things he had to do: get that piece of shit corporation out of here and calm the Divine-class that continued its rampage here. He could ignore Pandemonium for the time being. Once things had recovered, they would decide the area was no use as an experimental ground and leave on their own.

This time, he would protect that old man, everyone in the village, and the Green Spearhead as a whole.

“Now that the contract has been bound, I will temporarily seal away the name Amplifier 500. As the vessel, I will leave you in charge. What should we call ourselves, summoner?”

“My name is Max Layard. As for the two of us together…”

The world police. Government.

He answered while looking to the role those drunk idiots had entirely forgotten.

“You can call us Government Award 501, Perfect Game.”

And “they” began their first battle.

Facts[edit]

  • The Blood-Sign method uses letters to measure the gods according to human comprehension which helps summon them. The strength of the gods is impossible to define, but the Blood-Sign method ranks them according to Cost and Sound Range.
  • Similarly, Pandemonium was used to assemble a theory saying that the same god’s Cost and Sound Range would change if their name is spelled differently.
  • Illegal’s member of the Three is the Wicked “Green” Woman who Fills the World with Empty Treasure (l u – o – n p – e – q o – e i – r – k – a – r u m – p l).
  • Pandemonium’s original purpose was to increase the Wicked Green Woman’s power so she could defeat the White Queen and to create a thousand-year kingdom for humans that no one else could interfere with.
  • Himekawa Mika and the rest of the 353 vessels had already been used in an experiment and they could not return to their original bodies afterwards. Himekawa had control, but all of their souls were contained inside.
  • Himekawa was working with Perfect Game in a plan to defeat Pandemonium. Kyousuke’s role was to stimulate the summoned White Queen into giving a great enough performance to destroy that fortress which not even the Lady of Purple Lightning could damage.
  • Kyousuke was the best candidate since he had the White Queen, but a total of 353 attacks had been made on Pandemonium. The details are unknown how Ellie’s incense put the other summoners to work.
  • Perfect Game defeated the head of the Deltaston family and took control of Pandemonium. They rewrote the routine meant to summon the Wicked Green Woman in order to summon the White Queen instead.
  • Because Kyousuke refused to participate in the plan, Ellie erased his memories with her incense to buy them some time.


Back to Stage 02 Return to Main Page Forward to Stage 04