Toaru Majutsu no Index:GT Volume2 Epilogue
Epilogue: Greeting Through the Bars — Matching_Complete.
A violent crash shook the department store.
Bloody Kamijou Touma had fallen down the escalator. His mind was cloudy and he was bleeding badly. His entire body felt feverish and he could have sworn the flavor of blood was growing stronger with every breath he took.
He was at his limit.
He had never received a vaccine or antidote. Defeating Anna Sprengel was not enough to save him.
The few remaining employees hesitantly emerged to check on the sound, but they screamed and fled when they saw the bloody boy.
“What are you doing?” asked St. Germain.
His continued existence meant Kamijou Touma’s life would continue to be worn away just as Anna Sprengel wanted. Yet the boy had not tumbled down the escalator in order to reach the pharmacy or clinic.
He staggered over to the food section in the department store basement, leaned against the shelves, used them to drag himself along while knocking products to the floor, and made his way to an area where cold air reached him.
He was trying to find something perfectly ordinary: agar-agar.
He grabbed it and then collapsed down from the shelves.
He coughed up a lot of blood.
He did not have the time or strength to mix the powder with water. His balance was already shot and, while he could still see, he had trouble telling which way was up and which way was down. He grabbed the ready-made pack of block-like gelatin to try something before he passed out.
He did not know the exact conditions, but that stuff was not just used for cooking and making sweets; it was also used as a culture medium for growing microbes in a Petri dish. He knew it could not have any other germs in there, so he stuck the plastic container inside the large microwave used for heating the roast chickens sold at the front of the store, turned the dial, and forcibly sterilized it with heat.
Kamijou spoke as if forcing the air out of his lungs.
“If I die…”
“You’ll die too if you’re still in my body.”
Finding a vaccine or antidote might save Kamijou Touma, but he did not see that as a perfect solution.
“If you could hijack dead bodies, people would have viewed you differently. Maybe they would’ve just feared you, or maybe they would’ve thanked you for helping them remember the dead.”
“It would be meaningless.” St. Germain rejected the entire idea. “I cannot maintain my own thoughts without using someone else’s brain.”
Anna Sprengel had always intended for him to be disposable.
Whether Kamijou Touma or St. Germain remained in the end, it never would have kept her interest. She would have abandoned them and both would have been destroyed. That was probably what made this a “safe bit of fun” for her.
To put it another way, no matter who had won out, no sample of them would have remained for Anna Sprengel. She would have gained nothing no matter how it turned out. She may have had some objective other than Kamijou and St. Germain.
But he was in no state to look into what that might be.
There was another problem he had to solve.
One he had to solve by his own hand.
“I will leave,” said St. Germain.
He felt the heat receding from his body.
No, it was moving toward a certain point in his body, as slowly as a slug. Specifically, the palm of his right hand.
“This is your body, so it is only right to return it to its original state.”
He knew what St. Germain was trying to do.
Imagine Breaker apparently could not fully negate him because he continued to multiply within Kamijou’s body, but that would change if St. Germain stopped the uncontrollable spread and directed himself toward his own greatest enemy.
This was likely a choice not even Anna had considered.
“But what happens to you?” asked Kamijou.
“If I remain within this body, I will continue to destroy it from within. An esper cannot escape the side effects of using magic. At some point, it would be too much and you would die. So no matter what I choose, I cannot avoid annihilation.”
“If you’re only doing this because you can’t avoid it, that means you don’t want to do it!! Any living being, no matter what form it takes, will be troubled if it knows it’s going to die!!”
“Let’s try out even the smallest possibilities we can find. It might seem like suicide, but there has to be another option! If there’s even the faintest ray of hope out there, you can’t rush toward this dead end!! This is a crucial moment. I don’t care what all the other St. Germains out there have done. The version of you right here fought to protect Academy City! You don’t have to give up on yourself just because it’s ‘the right thing to do’!”
“But if I do that…”
“Shut up!! What good are ideals that can’t protect everyone? I don’t care if it makes you look selfish. I won’t reject that choice, so reach out your hand!!!!!!”
But the meaning of the silence had changed somewhat.
It was a much softer silence. The other being inside him may have been smiling.
“Why must you say these things? That is precisely what makes me want to protect you from further harm at the hands of others.”
“Anna Sprengel might think she is all-knowing, but I will accomplish something here she failed to predict. Esper, I will free you from that woman’s game. Allowing you to live happier than anyone will be the greatest attack against her.”
Kamijou Touma had no choice in the matter.
This was a microscopic suicide using Imagine Breaker. He may have been able to stop it by cutting off his own right hand, but he did not have the strength left to drag himself over to the fish and meat preparation area with its specialty knives and other equipment. Simply grabbing an ordinary pack of agar-agar had brought him to his knees.
If he had taken that step right away, without hesitation, he might have been able to save a life here.
He regretted that decision.
The final choice was entirely in St. Germain’s hands here.
“This is the right thing to do.”
“It is wrong to destroy your own body.”
St. Germain’s words seemed to reject the very act he was in the process of completing, but he bent his principles for the boy he would leave behind.
He was of course afraid.
Any form of life, even one that wished to die, would feel fear when the moment actually arrived.
“And there is no need to grieve our parting.”
He knew it was a lie.
But that magician enjoyed putting on a little show that excited people and gave them dreams.
So he went with duplicity here.
“Whatever happens to the me here, there are many more St. Germains scattered around the world. I am an imposter who fools even himself by swapping out his memories and ideals. The great magician, the Count of St. Germain, is already an immortal being who has surpassed space and time, if you will recall.”
Kamijou Touma listened to his every word.
Because he felt that was the respectful thing to do.
And once that powerful magician was done speaking, Kamijou Touma slumped forward.
He had reached his limit.
The boy had been given his Christmas present.
He had been granted life.
Accelerator sat in a cold, dark room.
Academy City’s #1 and the new Board Chairman was inside a holding cell. The white monster was waiting to be indicted and tried. All so he could clean up the city’s dark side with no room for any exceptions.
The cell was quiet.
Only the most basic rights were guaranteed here. The place had to be heated, but that did not seem enough to eliminate the chill creeping in through the concrete.
But this was still far better than the sticky darkness.
This was the natural world.
It was the world as it truly was, not a warm but somehow twisted sense of safety. It seemed to slowly and silently numb over your good sense.
No one wanted to be surrounded by bars, but when you knew it was the leadup to achieving true freedom, it was not all that bad. It was something like being in an egg protected by a hard shell.
Then he heard some footsteps.
They were very quiet.
The next cell over must have been occupied.
A little girl who looked only ten smiled as she spoke to him through the bars.
“Hello, big boss of the science side. Do you know who I am?”
“For someone with a fancy title like Board Chairman, you are not easy to get in contact with. Even the CEO of R&C Occultics was forced to come see you directly.”
He clicked his tongue.
He could always bend the bars and attack the adjacent cell, but that would mean breaking the rules he had chosen for himself. If he created a new exception, any who knew that secret could use it to design the next form of the darkness.
It was time for his diplomatic debut as the new Board Chairman.
“What brings you here today?”
“Nothing much. Set 1 is complete, so I was using my free time to enjoy myself and gather some data. My digital invasion is progressing quite smoothly, after all.”
“But I’m done with that. I saw an interesting irregularity, but it only barely reached the level of interesting. Set 2’s objective is right here. Now that I’ve met you, my Academy City sightseeing tour is probably over.”
“Cut the crap. However you got here and however you choose to interpret it, you’ve lost now that you were thrown behind bars here.”
“Oh, I’m leaving once I’ve had enough. So do try to draw this conversation out as long as you can. Entertaining me will preserve world peace for that much longer.”
The atmosphere had changed.
It was a small change, but something about his voice brought a chill to any who heard it.
And in response, countless particles of dust and dirt gathered on a single point. That was an unclean cocoon that gave mass to an otherworldly being. A translucent demon rose up out of thin air.
“Do you really think you can get away with that sort of exception while I run Academy City?”
Yet she refused to relinquish control of the conversation.
Another ominous atmosphere gathered there.
“It irritates me. Oh, how it irritates me. You’re so slow on the uptake I want to bite through these bars and kill you right this instant. The fact that you would ask such an unbelievably stupid question now of all times irritates me to no end. And yet people will still doubt my intellect and claim I didn’t explain properly? It would be less infuriating to see a message window from on high saying ‘the problem is 100% on your end, so go check your system settings, you utter trash of a user’ when your download keeps cutting out and you keep getting server errors. But not to worry. I can bear with it. I can suppress these feelings. Eh heh heh☆ Maybe I should learn how to enjoy self-restraint. Yes, that sounds like an excellent goal if I say so myself. So bright and positive. I need to learn to enjoy a cup of coffee while waiting for that late-night download to complete. I won’t be able to sleep afterwards, though. Hey, where’s my applause? I just saved your pathetic life, so I believe I am warranted some praise here.”
She did not feel the slightest hint of fear when facing the #1. Did that mean she was even more unusual than him?
She had managed restraint this time.
But next time, she would explode.
She would destroy the entire world, her original plans be damned. Her tinderbox of a smile said as much as she continued speaking.
“You will learn soon enough that there is someone out there that this city, this country, and this world cannot restrain.”
“Hee hee. No stupid questions this time? Clever boy. It is time you learned that your authority is not absolute, you wannabe ruler of a child. I belong to the ancient Rosicrucian magic cabal that the world’s royals and nobles, driven by pathetic greed, searched so desperately for using their own and the people’s money. It does not matter how much power you have or how much justice or materiel you rule over; you can never capture me.”
Time dragged on in a closed cell with no clock.
The old ruler narrowed her eyes affectionately toward the new ruler.
And she made a blunt statement.
“I did not start up R&C Occultics because I wanted a giant IT company of my own. That is simply the modern form of the organization which can never be caught. So I already know the answer. Let me be clear—your authority will bind you. You cannot capture me like that. No matter what.”
“Do not question me, fool. …Oh, dear. Hee hee hee. I’m sorry. That was rude of me☆. But this completes Set 2, so an outsider like you can keep me here no longer.”
And the master of the No. 1 Temple in Germany’s voice contained the tension of unexploded ordnance as she leaned against the bars and spoke.
She was somehow reminiscent of the human who had once allowed the dark side to exist as he ruled over and observed everything in the city.
She hinted at trouble brewing.
“So I will use my spare time to help myself to some of this boring city’s data, new Board Chairman.”