Toaru Majutsu no Index:GT Volume4 Epilogue
Epilogue: That Human Returns – Science_Side,Interrupt.
“Watch as a Japanese high school boy and some identical clone girls fight over giant burgers in LA.”
“Geh!? They’re looking great here!!”
“I’m so glad we stood up for them. I’d have had nightmares if these adorable girls had been sent off to be killed.”
Academy City resumed its trial with a scattering of similar conversations outside.
One look at the internet and social media showed the clones were generally being received favorably. That meant people saw them as fellow humans. Maybe people had a hard time ostracizing others, no matter what they said. Just like people would avoid tearing the face when opening a snack container with the mascot’s face printed on it.
It was still unknown what would happen with them, but with so many empathizing with them, it seemed unlikely they would simply be killed. However, that introduced another problem.
“You say you killed people not for money and not out of anger but simply to increase your power?”
“You killed more than 10 thousand like this? And you would have killed 20 thousand if no one had stopped you?”
“It was fun. I could feel myself growing day by day. Those are the facts.”
“My, my, how frightening. Those weren’t just lab rats, you know? They may have been born through a different method, but they clearly have the same human lives and hearts as us.”
The white-haired red-eyed monster smiled on the inside.
The world had finally caught up with him.
Which was why they would show no lenience on the #1 and new Board Chairman.
“Order, order. We will now begin the final tally.”
His defense attorney looked nervous, but he had not hired the man. The system required it, but it had been unlucky for him to be given this unwinnable case.
There was no way to overcome the disadvantage of the defendant himself planning to lose.
“Accelerator – real name unknown.”
The judge’s icy eyes stared down at the monster.
He was the executor of justice.
But did the old judge notice Accelerator mouthing the words “took you long enough”?
The world was rejoicing in their victory, but the person who had most wished for that victory would be sent to hell.
Exactly as the new Board Chairman had planned it.
The judge who controlled the scales of justice spoke with ice in his voice.
“You have been found…”
“The last of the Logistic Hornets has apparently landed in the South Atlantic. That means all 12 have been neutralized.”
“I see,” replied Roberto Katze. The President barely seemed to be listening to the report with his feet up on his Oval Office desk. Roseline Krackhart would normally have berated him for it, but she let it slide this once.
Something was clearly missing here. There was an empty gap where the Vice President normally stood.
Roberto spoke his comrade-in-arm’s name while leaning back in his chair and staring up at the ceiling.
The regret in his voice was palpable.
“I thought for sure I would never see you again, so don’t just go get arrested in LA, you idiot!! What am I supposed to say when I see you next!!!???”
Roseline slapped her forehead and groaned like she was cursing the entire world.
“Would it count as discrimination if I called all men immature children who don’t know how to actually finish anything? Yes, I know an American politician is supposed to be pro-diversity. I know I shouldn’t be saying this, but to hell with it: every single man is utter trash!!!!!! Do you have any idea how many fires I’ve had to run around putting out because of the silly battles you fight over your stupid pride!? I’m going to be taking something for indigestion and then staying up all night again! It’s already the 26th and I’m nowhere near finishing my work for the year!!!!!!”
“Hey, that’s part of my collection.”
“It is a piece of evidence!!”
The President moved to stop his beautiful aide after she grabbed his semiauto shotgun. Fortunately, she was not a gun person and forget to load the first round. Otherwise, several rounds would have gone off accidentally during their struggle.
It was a fairly risky battle, but the next thing they knew, he had the aide’s back pressed against the top of his large desk. Almost like he had laid her down on a bed.
It was a highly unnatural position to find herself in, but Roseline did not cry out.
Roberto set aside the shotgun.
“Not a day goes by you don’t save my ass.”
“Don’t do this, President.”
“I could never make a gamble like that if I didn’t have you watching my back.”
“We don’t have any interests in common, so there simply isn’t a scandal to be had with me. Isn’t that supposed to be our greatest weapon?”
But she did not resist it.
This was undeniably the wrong decision, but they may have both been hoping that someday they would make that mistake.
Just then, a message came over the speakerphone.
“Excuse me, we have a sex worker out here calling herself Jane and swinging around a used condom. What should we do about her? She insists we will find she is a friend of the president’s if we check the chromosomes inside, so should we send it to the CDC for testing?”
The aide smiled a little.
She smiled and kicked the President in the crotch so hard he lifted off the floor a little. Then she snatched up the semiauto shotgun that still smelled of gunpowder and actually remembered to load the first round into the chamber this time.
“I’m here, darling!! Now where’s this enemy of the USA who wants to meet the working end of my shotgun!?”
“Nooo, you burned out my Harley’s engine!?”
Life had returned to Los Angeles. Whether it was English or not, there was so much talking going on that it only sounded like incomprehensible chatter to a Japanese ear. It was currently night. It was said stores closed surprisingly early outside of Japan, but today was an exception. Maybe everyone wanted to share their joy, or maybe they wanted to feel like their ordinary lives were back even if it meant going back to work when they didn’t have to.
In one corner of a burger restaurant, Kamijou Touma, Index, Othinus, and several identical clone girls were crammed into a single booth seat.
Kamijou felt like he was going to be crushed by the soft skin, soft skin, body weight, and more soft skin surrounding him, but his primary complaint was something else.
“We are being way, way, way too conspicuous here!! Gweh, what even is this? I thought you tried to hide your presence from the world? What happened to that!?”
He could not help but blush.
The interest was of course with the Sisters, but he felt like a panda at the zoo with all the cameras snapping photos of them. The rapid flashing made him feel a little dizzy.
But the sisters did not mind. They had gathered together like a single dumpling-like monster and spoke in their emotionless voice.
“Misaka has stopped hiding, explains Misaka #16360 while clinging to you from the front row.”
“Whoever contributed most to the battle is to be rewarded with a hug and a head pat, says Misaka #19559 while making sure to catch your attention.”
“Being the center of attention is the most important thing in the fucking world. Misaka doesn’t care about the fucking serial numbers any more. Time to share this elation and exhilaration with the Misaka Network!”
The Sisters all had their own unique traits despite being connected via the network, but he felt like randomly sprinkling the word “fuck” into your sentences wasn’t exactly accurate to American speech. He didn’t know what number she was, but he guessed it was an issue of her personal tastes and interests. In fact, didn’t they avoid using the word here since it was offensive?
“Okay, okay! So I just have to choose the MVP, right? But can’t I just shake hands with one of you and then you share that experience over the Misaka Network?”
Terrified by their silent pressure, Kamijou turned to the nun (who was also being crushed by clones due to sitting next to him) for help.
“Grr… Th-they are Legion. Touma, be careful. Now is the time – striped – to use your – panties – right hand – so many stripes.”
“What’s wrong, Index? You’re letting the visual information confuse you. Wait, why is your face all red!? Are you overheating? I-is this that special attack bees do to kill a hornet with heat!?”
“I could see the #5 developing a deadly special attack like that and giving it some bee-related name,” muttered Othinus while showing no intention of helping Kamijou.
The clones’ hands approached like a sea anemone in their desire for a reward, so Kamijou decided to just eat everything on the table while he still could. With their intensity and their stomachs of growing girls, there wouldn’t be a single fry or even parsley garnish left if he waited much longer
“Eh? Is this soy? No, it isn’t. But then what have I been eating!? The worst part is how much like meat it is!!”
“Don’t worry, human. Meat substitutes aren’t unusual. You know the little cubes of meat in the cup noodles you eat at night when you think no one is watching? Made of soy. And the drinks you can never resist buying at the convenience store generally don’t have any real fruit juice in them. They’re nothing but mystery chemicals.”
“That doesn’t tell me what this is! It has fatty parts and actually tastes good!!”
They were not the only ones there.
A silver-haired brown-skinned mother and daughter sat together across the table. The Sisters were only swarming one side of the box seat, so those two were not being crushed.
“I want to eat soybeans. Vegetables are the extreme of healthy.”
With another awkward translation, Helcalia got to work on the giant hamburger she had to hold in both hands. She was happily kicking her legs below the table while sitting in the one seat available only to her: Melzabeth’s lap. She kept hitting Kamijou’s shins, which was legitimately painful.
“I’m surprised to find you speak Japanese.”
“I can get by in Japanese, Russian, and English. The space industry is smaller than you would think. And just like so many medical terms are in German, you really need to know those languages if you hope to make it far.”
He realized the video message Melzabeth had left in her mobile home had not been meant for him to find. If she had known someone Japanese would find it, she would have made it in Japanese.
“I am so sorry you got caught up in our problems here,” she added.
“Hm? What are you talking about?”
“My, my. You’re surprisingly mature about these things. But still, I want to reward you in some way. Yes…how about this?”
“Ah!” cried Helcalia while placing her hands over her eyes.
Kamijou felt a brief, soft sensation on his cheek. He was fairly certain it wasn’t her finger.
The mother pulled her face away with a gentle smile.
Helcalia was still staring, but when her mother wiped the burger sauce (made from who knows what) from around her mouth, the girl resumed innocently kicking her legs.
The daughter may have been placated, but Othinus had seen it from right on his shoulder. The dumpling of clones had seen it too.
Not to mention Index.
“Wait, wait, wait! If you’re going to be nice, try to do it right! Can you please explain to them that this is no more than a normal greeting in the West, Melzabeth!? Wait, why are you blushing now!? What do you mean it’s embarrassing when I use your first name!? This isn’t the time for that!”
He was a step away from death when his old folks phone began to ring on the edge of the table.
He snatched it up, checked the screen, and frowned.
“What now? Withheld numbers are always scary, but it’s even worse when I’m overseas!”
The idiot (who failed to realize he could receive calls from anywhere in the world no matter where his phone was physically located) hesitantly answered his phone.
“Huh? What is it, Stiyl? Weren’t you on your way to the R&C Occultics HQ? And you said you didn’t need the USB memory. What, the fighting’s already done? Well, Citrinitas was the foundation of their defenses and we already took him out, so was the rest a cakewalk?”
The scratchiness of the voice was not due to a poor signal.
Stiyl could not keep his own voice steady. Kamijou frowned as Stiyl started again.
“They were already dead. We found all the R&C Occultics executives in pools of blood.”
When he heard that, Kamijou Touma finally noticed a numb tingling feeling at the back of his head.
He could not accept it. The clear Japanese words had entered his ears, but his mind would not process them. So his face stiffened and he asked a silly question.
“Wait, what does that mean? Like, it was an illusion or something? Do you need a specialist there? Like Inde-”
“No, do not bring her here. She might seem naïve, but she’s actually quite perceptive. Because once something enters her head, her perfect memory lets her review it over and over again. So don’t let her know about this.”
Stiyl Magnus was a master of the witch hunt and he had overcome so much fierce fighting, but he groaned here.
This one had to be bad.
Kamijou could not see it over the phone, but that may have been a blessing. Did the tall priest even realize he was speaking more to himself than to Kamijou?
“She can never forget anything, so I can’t let her see this hell.”
Earlier in Los Angeles, the magician sent to defend the R&C Occultics HQ had been defeated. With Citrinitas out of the picture, the 30 million residents and the Academy City and Anglican members of the joint force were dragged back out of the sand.
A final showdown was imminent.
The company executives held an emergency meeting inside the HQ building.
“Hey, what are we going to do about this!?”
“Has the drone management server been dismantled for transport yet? As long as we get R Rose out of here, we can abandon this building and use the Logistic Hornets to maintain our control of the skies!!”
“You’re still hung up on those useless toys that reject our commands!? We have primary income divisions beyond online shopping. Right now, we need to go into hi- !?”
The woman’s shoulders jumped in her fancy suit.
And not just because of her mental state.
That global VIP had been hit by a multitude of attacks, so by the time she collapsed to the floor, her entire body had swollen. It was so bad her expression was unreadable. In fact, something appeared to be moving underneath her swollen skin.
With a single footstep, someone gathered the dumbfounded executives’ eyes and walked right into their sanctuary.
It was a woman in a beige habit with her blonde hair cut unevenly at the shoulders.
“I considered using tsetse flies, but tachinid flies really are the best choice for research. They’re bigger, tougher, faster, and – with the right modifications – can even break through human skin and lay their eggs inside. Also…”
That woman pointed her finger at the executives as they desperately tried to flee. No, was that a small water gun? Whenever the jelly-like substance hit a target, a swarm of killer flies would take a sharp, curving path toward them with an afterimage resembling a black or silver beam.
Flies could easily distinguish between different scents, so they were actually one of the easiest insects for people to control.
“When they’ve been customized to fly at 50km/h, you can’t hope to outrun them. I’ve outdone myself this time. I think these are even more convenient than bullets. Not even hiding behind cover or wearing bulletproof equipment will save you from this.”
“Good grief.” Everyone was shocked to see what was obviously a golden retriever answer the mysterious woman. “Did you choose to make your deadly toy out of the universally-disliked fly as a tribute to the Decomposer and the Carrier?”
“Those twins did not have exclusive rights to such things. Director Yakumi Hisako used bugs too, if you recall.”
The golden retriever sighed and cut a new cigar.
You could maybe accept being killed by a venomous bug, like a wasp, spider, or scorpion, but having countless maggots devouring all of the soft tissue below your skin had to be a horrific way to go. It was an obvious case of using empathy in a more detached fashion.
“He said he doesn’t want any of it anymore,” casually replied the woman, twirling the small gas-powered water gun. She winked and tapped her temple with her other hand. “So I’ll be taking all that ‘dark side’ technology for myself. That means all the technology needed for Five Overs, military clones, androids, nanodevices, artificial ghosts, artificial muscle enhancement, AIM diffusion fields, and even making dogs speak. But most importantly, that includes esper development. I don’t even need the Bank. I have all the official and unofficial Academy City tech stored right in here. The only thing not in the palm of my hand would be that right hand.”
“There is very little romance in a mid-boss who shows back up for a second round, or in a special boss who has gathered up all the previous gadgets. And this isn’t about their actual stats. Fighting the same enemy again lacks impact and a Demon King who can use all of the Four Generals’ abilities is easily defeated.”
“What if called it using just the old, outdated tech to confront the smug new boss?”
“Oh? Putting it like that is cheating. My romance sense is tingling just a bit. Do you mean like using an old German 88mm to blast the high-tech composite armor tanks coming at you like a parade of death?”
“That isn’t possible and you know it.”
“That’s the entire point, though. The romance is found in attempting the impossible.”
“Wait, it can’t be…” groaned one of the executives who could not even get out of his chair. With intruders in this deep, they had to assume the HQ building’s guards had been wiped out.
They had to assume a single person had done that.
“It can’t be!?”
“Yes, it isn’t just your cowardly personality keeping you from getting up from your seat. But don’t feel bad. It’s already happened to you all.”
They could not move.
And not just their arms and legs. They even had trouble blinking and breathing.
Then something moved at the back of the woman’s head.
There was something there. A face-like shadow was visible in the golden glow, looking uncomfortably cramped in that short hair. And it wailed in human language, its voice sounding like it was drowning in the air.
“Hey, you there! All of you! Somebody fight back!! If you don’t, he’ll get cocky. This is Aleister, the ‘human’ who lived a life of failure and setbacks! Don’t let him have this! Tear him down! He must have left any number of openings!! So…!!”
“Ha ha ha. Lola Stuart, Great Demon Coronzon, and my constant companion. You are such a tsundere. I know you only say these things because you love me.”
“The very idea sickens me!!!!!!”
“Sorry, but just this once, I have won a flawless victory. The inevitable defeat can wait until next time.”
It was a ridiculous conversation, but no one could stop it. They were already paralyzed down to the finger. The woman(?) had more than one trick up her sleeve. The killer flies were just one card in her deck.
In fact, every type of scientific technology was her toy.
“Allergens have a much more dramatic effect when absorbed through the skin than ingested orally, so things not identified as food allergies can still affect you. And this method does not give you a chance to sense the danger and take measures to avoid it until it has already taken effect. It lets me bring people down while they remain defenseless. And unlike cyanide or monkshood, nothing out of the ordinary will be found in the autopsy. Even the professional investigators will conclude it was an unfortunate accident where the victim consumed something without realizing their allergy to it.”
Anaphylactic shock was a cause of death no medical or police investigator would question, so the executives were shocked a second time to learn it could be induced externally.
The woman took a disinterested glance around the room.
“I see CEO Anna isn’t here. Not that I expected her to be.”
“You just called it a flawless victory, yet a flaw has already presented itself.”
The dog’s exasperated comment did not bother the woman.
She was used to unfortunate coincidences.
She smiled. What did you do when the person you wanted was out? You left a message.
“You know, Miss Sprengel, if you get in the habit of staying home from work, you will find it harder and harder to ever leave the house again. And I think I should start getting to work as well.”
The Academy City and Anglican joint force would be arriving at the HQ building before long, so she had to write out an obvious message that no one could erase and then leave in a hurry. Nothing here was related to Academy City, so they were bound to transmit it around the world without hiding anything. That meant the message would reach Anna Sprengel.
The woman grabbed a dull letter opener from the gorgeous table and touched it to the tip of her soft index finger. Harming someone with that would require a lot of force. Then she slowly turned toward the poor victim who was dripping with sweat and unable to move.
She held the letter opener with a backhand grip and readied it like it was a stake.
And she smiled.
It was an oddly refreshing smile, but it was a thoroughly “dark side” smile that seemed to split her mouth apart.
“Aleister Crowley, the human whose life came to an end at Blythe Road, is on his way to kill you.”