Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume10 Chapter 20
Chapter 20: V.S. “???” Round_12(Secret).
In truth, Kamijou Touma and Almighty Thor were not the only ones watching that scene.
For example, a black cat that did not mew even once stared intently at it from the snow.
For example, an American UAV turned its inhuman camera toward it from 30,000 meters in the air.
For example, Amano Kaguya laughed from orbit even farther up.
While wearing a white ghillie suit and lying in the snow, Sergeant Ingrid Martin focused on the information she was gathering via parabolic microphone.
She had heard “their” conversation.
After that, she asked for instructions over the radio.
“What should I do?”
“We’re trying to figure that out, too. Dammit, so this is how it turns out in the end.”
Most likely, the president on the other end of the radio did not have a proper grasp of the situation. The same went for Sergeant Ingrid. What were those things growing from the eyepatch girl’s back? Could anyone answer even that simple question?
“Can you continue to keep track of their conversation?” asked the president.
“There’s been a lot of static, but it should be possible.”
“I know this is a difficult request for you since you’re tasked with cross-borders operations.” The president paused for a moment. “But I want to declassify this footage. I want to show those two to the world as they are and I want to ask the world for forgiveness. Will you help me?”
Hearing that, she initially took a meaningless action. She tried to bring a hand to her forehead. If it was a request from the president, so it would be different from amateurishly uploading the footage to a video site. He would ask the world in a speech and he would take more of the blame than anyone on the actual scene. That was what he was asking.
“With all due respect, that would definitely harm your approval rating. Not to mention that these two are not American citizens.”
She knew it was useless, but she spoke anyway.
The response was exactly what she expected and it came with no delay.
She felt as if her vision were darkening, but an order was an order no matter how reckless it was. She had been given fewer jobs that left a bad taste in her mouth since he had become president and she decided this was a good way of thanking him.
“Dahhh!! It looks like America’s made up their mind, so when is our boy going to show off his good side!? Make me wait any longer and I’ll be really mad! Really, really mad!!”
Something suddenly rose up three meters behind Sergeant Ingrid and let out a shout. Sergeant Ingrid drew her handgun in surprise, but she saw a nun wearing a red habit. It was amazing the woman had managed to hide in the pure white snow dressed like that.
Next to her was a girl in a habit that looked more like a bondage outfit.
“My question: do you have any faith at all?”
“What are you talking about, Sasha. The people in religious paintings are always beautiful, so justice lies in beauty.”
Next, a different patch of snow rose up.
A girl in what looked like a lacrosse uniform and with a tail-like object growing from under her miniskirt wiped snow from her head.
“Yes, yes. Everyone’s adorable Lessar is here. And who left this black cat here!? Does that mean you don’t need me? I want to eat tangerines and cheese fondue in a kotatsu, too!! Wearing skimpy clothing, of course!!”
Sergeant Ingrid was so overcome by confusion that she abandoned her mission and shouted out.
“Wh-what is all this!? When did all of you get so close!?”
“Oh, what’s with this failed local mascot costume? This is just the best spot for observing them. You were actually late to show up.”
The imp and the red nun looked perfectly at home. In her job, Sergeant Ingrid had fought with the special forces of various different nations, but their behavior was different from any of those.
The imp completely ignored her and contacted some other place.
“I see, I see. So what about England? Yeah, I suppose so. It seems France is talking about withdrawing as well and being the only country still fighting probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Then pass it on to the queen. It’d cause problems if an outlaw like me contacted her directly.”
In the UN headquarters building in New York, United States President Roberto Katze rose from his seat.
“I’ll be holding an emergency press conference. What will all of you be doing?”
Queen Regnant Elizard waved a hand in annoyance.
“I’ll leave that to the people who want to stand out in public. I’ll handle the internal announcement. I’m especially worried about my military obsessed daughter who was so eager to get out there. Her mobile fortress was destroyed, so it isn’t going to be easy calming her down.”
“Ohhh? You’re not dead set on killing them anymore?”
“Please do not tease her too much.” The boy who held the position of Russian Orthodox Patriarch let out a heavy sigh. “I will focus on reaching those in places America’s voice cannot reach.”
“I can provide some assistance as far as that is concerned,” added the Roman pope.
That left France. As everyone’s focus turned to the unhealthy-looking Femme Fatale, she shrugged with a somehow triumphant look.
“France never sent anyone in the first place, so we have no reason to struggle now.”
“It seems one of this world’s problems is how the clever have a way of going unnoticed.”
As soon as Elizard spat out that comment, a small fight broke out.
Someone spoke from a television in a warm living room far removed from the conflicts in the world.
“Today has been a day of trials. I can imagine a lot of people have been glued to their TVs and the internet to receive peace of mind as soon as possible. I would now like to ask you all a question.”
The image of the president on a giant train station screen spoke quietly.
“Is Othinus, the leader of Gremlin, evil? No one would hesitate to answer that question. She is undoubtedly a villain. Tokyo, Baggage City, and even our own Hawaii. The scars she has caused are enough to determine what kind of person she is.”
The passersby in front of the many electronics store televisions stopped for a moment.
“But is Othinus truly irredeemable?”
Young soldiers in a Florida air force base stood in a line and listened to the speech.
“The people involved in these incidents or the people who have seen the scars they left may have a strong desire to punish her. I do not think they are wrong to feel that way. But is it right to strap someone to the electric chair if they truly regret their crimes and are attempting to save someone at the risk of their own life? I don’t know any complicated philosophy about good and evil. When I was inaugurated as president, I placed my hand on the Bible as I made my oath, but I’m not a clergyman or an intellectual theologian. That’s why I want to ask all of you.”
In a distant country, a spy under a false identity listened to the voice on the television while pretending not to recognize it.
“I’m sure there are some hearts that would be saved by taking harsh revenge. I’m sure there are other hearts that would be saved by giving her a single chance after all this hardship.”
Many people watched their LCD screens via satellite broadcast or video sharing sites.
“But what do you think?”
The Russian Orthodox Patriarch spoke in front of many cameras.
“Othinus has indeed committed many sins, but is it truly in accordance with our beliefs to declare her ‘irredeemable’? I would like to reconsider that question.”
An office worker watched the small television attached to his passenger plane seat.
“Some of the apostles initially denounced the Son of God, but when they came to regret their mistakes, the Son of God forgave them. We are being tested. Will we give in to our weak hatred or will we have the strength to forgive?”
A young man watched his car navigation screen in his parked car.
“I want you to cast aside your preconceptions and look again with unclouded eyes. Look once more on that girl shedding tears. If she had done nothing, she might have been saved, but she cast aside that opportunity and brought further punishment on herself even if it destroys her body. And she has done so in order to save a single boy.”
On a cruise ship, an old man watched the television so intently he ignored the beautiful scenery outside the window.
“If there is any sin in that, it is the sin of so easily being swept to suicide. Our teachings are not kind enough to condone suicide. She must live on and make up for her sins. And once she has made up for those sins, I want her to be saved. By showing that even Othinus can be saved, I want to show the light to the many other people who are heading down the wrong path.”
While waving for a passing helicopter to rescue him, a young man in Tokyo listened to the Roman pope on his cell phone’s 1seg broadcast.
“I believe there are many ways to resolve this. All we must do is choose one of those options.”
A middle-aged worker used heavy equipment to remove the rubble from the remains of Baggage City and listened to the voice over the radio.
“Will we watch over the goodness budding within the evil that is Othinus? Or will we crush that bud of goodness along with the evil? If you place a hand on your heart and listen to the voice of truth, you will know which answer will not leave a bad taste in your mouth.”
The soldiers on the snowy plains of Denmark held sniper rifles between head and shoulder, warmed their hands with mugs of coffee, listened to the broadcast, and looked up into the white sky.
“I believe Othinus is a mirror that reflects our own hearts. Giving into justifiable anger is simple and perhaps even enjoyable, but those who drown in it will learn the truth about themselves. Violence is still violence and it will be their own faces they see reflected in the mirror.”
While continuing to hold off the British monsters one-against-three, Kanzaki Kaori spat blood to the snow and listened to Queen Regnant Elizard’s voice.
“Until now, killing Othinus was the only option we could think of, but a certain boy showed us a completely different way. As head of state, I wish to show my respect for that. It could not have been an easy path. He overcame anguish, doubt, fear, anger, and all sorts of other emotions to reach an answer that none of us could.”
Second Princess Carissa was a step away from defeating the Amakusa Saint and she clicked her tongue at the voice.
“We lost, but not to Magic God Othinus’s power or that boy’s courage. Let’s all admit it: we surrendered to our own fear. As chaos filled the world, we were obsessed with the idea that killing was the best option. And now that we have admitted it, we must carry out the duty of the loser.”
Tears had begun to fill Knight Leader’s eyes as he found himself unable to keep up with the two women whose faces contained ghastly expressions, but he finally breathed a sigh of relief.
“Dragon slaying is a great feat, but a great hero cannot save the dragon. That is what this boy has accomplished. Is it truly a good deed for a great hero to rush in and slay that dragon now? I do not think so. What about all of you?”
William Orwell’s expression did not budge.
“If you have your answer, then pray. That boy has reached an answer that not even a great hero could, so pray that he will show us a sight we could not even imagine.”
Kumokawa Maria listened to the president’s speech from a hospital room television.
The aftermath of fighting that was Kihara Kagun was no longer with her. As soon as Gremlin had scattered from Tokyo in all directions and the disturbance had come to an end, he had stopped moving.
“Will we kill the evil that is Othinus? Or will we forgive it?”
Sleeping peacefully on the bed was a pregnant woman.
Fertility Goddess Freyja was one of the people “he” had tried to protect in the very end and Maria had taken over for him.
“Today, I would like to do one thing.”
And in the end, United States President Roberto Katze finished his speech on televisions around the world.
“I would like to test the strength of humanity along with all of you.”
The world creaked.
Massive power gathered in the ten crossbows.
The girl that was Magic God Othinus had rejected Kamijou Touma’s salvation.
And in exchange, she would die.
“Thor, get down.”
Kamijou would not hesitate any longer.
He clenched his fist until it was as hard as rock and spoke without turning back.
“A single hit from this would blow the planet away. I doubt even you would survive.”
He took a step into the snow.
As long as he could take that one step, he would make it. His feet would not stop. He walked, ran, and then dashed full speed through the snow.
He rushed toward Othinus.
He made his way to the girl who had put too much of a burden on herself and was about to break apart.
The eyepatch girl faced him with her one eye.
The other eye was still not inside her eye socket and the cracks continued to spread through her body. Even if he was going to do something about the eye, he had to stop those crossbows first. She had lost her lance, so the source of her power as a magic god was the fairy spell wound in her chest.
That was the trump card against magic gods that Ollerus had developed.
But it was magic, so his right hand would be able to destroy it.
Meanwhile, she held out her slender hand.
Her index finger pointed at the boy.
She had finished targeting him.
Next, she would fire.
The ten embodiments of destruction rushed out all at once.
To the boy named Kamijou Touma that was an absolute wall. It was death itself. It had truly and completely killed him once in the past. Just as all living creatures could not oppose their own lifespans, that great firepower was the ending point for him.
(I won’t let myself lose here.)
However, he did not look away and he charged straight forward.
This time, he would overcome it.
He was determined to.
(There’s no reason to give up after coming this far!!)
The sound arrived after a short delay.
One beam of concentrated destruction shot by his side. He had not avoided it with his athletic ability. It had been an intentional sacrificial pawn meant to restrict his possible routes. In that infinite hell, it had been the final shot that killed him.
He understood that, but he continued to run.
More arrows raced past him and they all narrowed his range of motion. His freedom was reduced and his death approached, but he still ran with all his strength. Each time an arrow was fired, the cracks crawling along Othinus’s skin would have an explosion of growth. He could not allow that to happen no matter what, so he ran. He forced down the fear to reach her as quickly as possible.
In that hell one step away from death, his eyes met with hers.
She had a slight smile on her face.
It was the same smile she had given when silently accepting Index, Mikoto, and the others’ attacks on Sargasso. It was as if she were saying everything was returning to its proper position.
(That’s not what this is.)
The destruction of Othinus continued and her body inexorably crumbled.
“To hell with this!! You brought me back to life, returned everything to normal, and saved me! You understood what a small piece of happiness was!! You can’t possibly think it’s right to sacrifice yourself like this!!”
The god’s answer was to fight back.
The death that invited him in took clear form and assaulted him head on.
He could not evade it now.
The previous arrows had guided him and worn down his freedom of movement. Even if this was an open area of land, it felt no different from a straight and narrow tunnel and a final attack seemed to fill that entire tunnel.
This was unavoidable death.
As he watched it approach, he had a sudden thought about when he had died before.
(Come to think of it, I never tried this back then.)
He clenched his right fist.
He could not evade, so that left only one option.
His right fist clashed head on with the magic god’s arrow.
In the instant of impact, he realized he had failed.
An ominous noise passed through his arm. Imagine Breaker was not enough to completely destroy this attack and he could feel his arm being pushed back.
(I don’t care if it gets broken, crushed, or ripped apart! As long as it isn’t torn off, I can still negate the stake in her chest!!)
He swung up his right arm that had become a spiral of intense pain.
With a sound like a rubber band snapping after being stretched beyond its limit, the arrow’s trajectory was diverted slightly upwards and he slipped below it.
The girl’s surprised face lay before him.
“I win, Othinus!!!!!”
He had made his way up to her, but he did not clench his fist as he moved his red-stained arm. Rather than punching, he embraced her slender body in both arms.
He wrapped his arms behind her and his palm touched the stake of light piercing through the center of her chest.
He gathered his last strength in those five fingers.
And he pulled it out from her back.
“I won’t let you run away,” he whispered in her ear.
His body was completely battered, but he still gathered strength in his fingers.
That was enough to smash the stake of light to pieces.
“I promised, remember? I said I would save you even if it meant fighting the entire world.”
Othinus narrowed her eye as the boy held her in his arms.
She looked happy.
She looked truly happy.
“But you don’t have to worry.”
He heard a cracking noise.
It was a very quiet noise.
But it did not stop and it did not come to an end. As the sound of thin ice breaking continued from her body, the blonde girl in an eyepatch smiled.
“I was already saved from the moment you said that to me.”
He saw light.
He saw particles of light.
By the time he noticed the change, he could no longer feel the girl in his arms. Her slender body crumbled. He could not understand it. Her crumbling body was more fleeting than snow. It turned to smooth particles of light as it fell to the ground and those were swept away by the wind.
He had been one step – just one step – too late, and in that moment, he thought he heard her voice once more even after she had vanished.
Before he could determine whether that voice had been real or imagined, something within him reached its limit and he collapsed onto the snow.