Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume10 Chapter 9
Chapter 9: V.S. “The One who Bears White and Black Wings and Opposes the World” Round_01.
Kamijou Touma and Othinus trudged through the white snow. There did seem to be an asphalt road, but it was under too much snow to see. The ground was just a white plain with conifer trees sticking up in places. There were occasional road signs, but they could see no houses or even telephone poles.
The boy spoke in annoyance as a bit of snow accumulated in his spiky-hair.
“Why is the population density in Europe so messed up? In the large cities, houses are crammed together like a kid’s toy box, but it quickly turns to this once you leave those cities.”
“Speaking from the world’s standards, Japan is the strange one. You don’t often find an island nation where you can never see the horizon.”
Kamijou thought the horizon would be visible in Hokkaido, but he abandoned that line of thinking once he reached the image of warm ramen. While walking through this near-Arctic environment in his school uniform, he felt his heart would break if he thought any longer on that trinity made of salt, butter, and corn.
“Where are we anyway?”
“Hjørring… No, we’re probably a bit further south than that. You can see it on the signs, right?”
“And where do we need to go?”
“The Kværndrup area. Specifically, Egeskov Castle which floats above a lake.”
He could only give a stiff smile.
Fortunately, Othinus-chan quickly caught on.
“Don’t tell me…”
“I don’t know any of that! Why would I!? You can’t expect your average Japanese high schooler to draw a map of Denmark!!”
“Oh, dammit. Do I have to explain Denmark itself to you?” She used one hand to toy with her hair and gave an annoyed sigh. “Listen. Denmark is a country located north of Germany. It is made up of a large peninsula bordering Germany and nearly 450 islands. It may sound like the peninsula is the main part, but the capital city of Copenhagen is on one of the islands.”
“It is part of NATO and the EU, but they still use their own currency of the krone and øre instead of the Euro. It’s similar to the British pound. That shows you how they distance themselves from the surrounding nations, right?”
“Their official language is Danish, but they understand English. In the southern portions, German works too. It’s easy to think their main industry is sightseeing, but they actually focus more on manufacturing such as shipbuilding and the heavy industries. They are primarily protestant, but there’s a fair bit of Catholicism as well. They view Norse mythology as an important sightseeing resource, but almost no one actually believes in it. You can think of it as similar to Stonehenge.”
“By the way, I want to check one thing. I’m not trying to doubt you, but are you actually listening to me, you bastard?”
“Eh? Well…” Kamijou looked puzzled. “I was thinking that you must like explaining things, just like Index and Birdway. I switched over to simply taking it all in instead of interrupting.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. Keep going, keep going.”
“Did you think I was taking time to explain for my own benefit!?”
“Wait, Othinus!! Don’t put me in a headlock while dressed in that ‘new style of bikini’ that would shock even female wrestlers! It’ll do more damage to you in the en- vwah!!”
Even with a girl’s soft underarm and arm pressing against his head, Kamijou Touma remained a gentleman.
But once the vise-like pressure arrived a few seconds later, he realized he had other worries.
“We are in Hjørring which is near the northernmost end of the peninsula while Egeskov Castle is on a southern island. We can travel on land using the bridges, but it is still three or four hundred kilome- What is it? Why are you convulsing like that?”
Once Othinus finally released Kamijou Touma, he was completely limp, but the eyepatch girl ignored it.
“We’ve been walking south on your suggestion, but that is a difficult distance to cover for a human.”
“I-if you’re gonna conveniently teleport us around the planet, why didn’t you bring us closer?”
“Don’t be silly. How many tens of thousands of kilometers do you think that spell took us? This is a decent margin of error. Really, you should be praising my skill since we didn’t crash into the Himalayas on the way and we weren’t dumped into the middle of the ocean.”
“Quick question: did the other members of Gremlin do everything they could to stop you from using that spell, by any chance? Did they insist on using boats and airplanes when traveling?”
“Shut up. We need to get back on topic. How do you plan to safely travel three or four hundred kilometers? The coalition forces will be laying out a search network as we speak.”
“I actually have an idea concerning that.” Kamijou was still lying on the snow. “Stealing a car or a bike would actually help them track us and they’re sure to be watching the public transportation such as buses and trains, but hitchhiking is surprisingly useful. All focus is on the driver at checkpoints and they let their guard down when it comes to the passengers.”
“Did you learn that during World War Three? But this time we’re both wanted worldwide.”
“Will that really be so much of a problem? I’m one thing, but how many people know that ‘Magic God Othinus’ is a girl? Gremlin’s rampage may have kept the existence of magic barely hidden, but for better or for worse, the magic side should view your existence as highly classified. If they let people know about you, more people might try to use you. I really can’t imagine the Anglican Church or Roman Catholic Church handing out information on you left and right.”
With that, their plan was to travel south by foot and try to hitchhike whenever they saw a car.
It was exactly like the ridiculous overseas plan of a young comedian.
Othinus had her doubts, but Kamijou Touma’s face was devoid of worry thanks to his experience of travelling from England to Russia while only speaking Japanese like an old woman from Kansai. He was either quite accustomed to travel or very stupid.
“There’s nothing at all.”
“No, there isn’t.”
“I haven’t seen a single car for a while now.”
“Th-this isn’t good. My teeth are chattering from the cold. W-what country is A Dog of Flanders from? I feel like I’m experiencing the authentic version of that.”
“Don’t worry. That was set in Belgium.”
“Denmark is the home of The Little Match Girl.”
“Oh, god. That’s fifty or even a hundred more steps into the realm of tragedy!!”
Illusions of salt, butter, and corn started appearing in the back of his mind again. Letting one’s guard down while lighting a match could lead to having one’s soul taken away. Someone who has been badly burned must not be given water to drink, and this was the opposite version of that.
Othinus’s large witch’s hat swayed as she tilted her head.
“If you’re hungry, go search through that cave over there. As is the case in snowy countries, bears are always quite close by.”
“This just keeps getting worse!! There’s no way my death will be peaceful!!”
Even as they chatted, they did not let their guard down concerning their surroundings.
They were aware they were being pursued, but they did not expect the attack that arrived.
It began with a flash of white light directly overhead.
A middle school girl named Amano Kaguya ignored gravity while floating curled up in the fetal position. Her anachronistic long black hair and junihitoe trailed out behind her.
No, that was not quite accurate.
Where she was, there was no gravity to ignore.
She was inside the Hikoboshi II, one of Academy City’s three satellites. The giant structure was five kilometers long and Amano Kaguya was its master.
Her casual words contrasted her lovely appearance.
She spoke as one people wanted to keep around but did not want anywhere nearby. The twenty meter spherical space had the formal title of “Zero Gravity Biological Impact Laboratory”, but it could also be called a cell. Seeing it that way would hurt one’s conscience, but that was not enough to change what the irresponsible adults would do.
“I had a feeling you’d be contacting me eventually, but this was sooner than I expected. Are you still acting like you’re ‘his’ ally? Or are you in the role of the maiden who stops thinking about it altogether because she doesn’t want to believe it?”
The girl’s body lived up to her name. She was overflowing with inhuman beauty, but even if the men of the world would desire her, that did not mean the women of the world would envy her. Anyone who knew the hardships of dieting would feel a chill down their spine as soon as they saw her. And that held true even with the junihitoe almost entirely hiding the lines of her body.
“You want to know what I’m doing? Who do you think I am? We may have different affiliations, but I’m one of the ‘abominable brains’ that supports the board of directors, just like you. Of course, my range of influence is limited due to my director specializing in the aerospace industry. Ha ha ha. I know, I know. I was just teasing. Don’t get so mad.”
Any girl would think this girl had inimitable beauty, but they would also see something blatantly wrong with the position and balance of her face and body parts. Unless her skeleton and organs were cut down in size, that shoujo manga figure would not be possible.
“Yes, yes. Just as you’ve guessed, I’m aiming the S5 toward the earth. Sad, isn’t it? The ‘package’ that just arrived by SSTO is loaded in the cargo space. Honestly, this is supposed to prepare a stupidly huge amount of sports drink into a beam, slam it into a desert planet, and create a giant cloud made of ‘primordial soup’. The cargo space is meant to hold seeds of plants that can withstand extreme environments. It’s supposed to be filled with the hopes and dreams of children, so why do you humans who crawl along the ground insist on using it for things like this? And if Endymion were still functioning, we wouldn’t have had to reconstruct this useless thing. Just because it’s all according to that guy’s plan doesn’t make it hurt any less.”
Her long stay in space (or rather, her maddening long confinement there) had given this modern-day Kaguya-Hime the ultimate beauty. In exchange, she could no longer eat or walk on two feet while in the 1G environment of the earth.
“And, well, this isn’t the story of a Lv. 01 hero heading out to defeat the demon king, so there’s no reason to start with the weakest and continue up from there. Instead, we decided to make this an impossible game where the final boss is dropped down from the very beginning. Yeah, yeah. A fifteen kilometer area will be wiped out, so the poor little hero with his wooden stick and cloth armor should be wiped out.”
Something giant lurked truly silently beyond the thick window that could keep out cosmic rays and withstand debris.
That giant object was a ring with a diameter of over twenty meters and it was accompanied by several dozen more identical rings lined up vertically. They resembled a tunnel or the barrel of a cannon.
Amano Kaguya curled up once more, floated upside down in relation to the earth, and smiled thinly as she gazed out the window.
“It was Kihara Yuiitsu who insisted I use the S5, but I should probably keep that a secret from the ‘package’ loaded in the cargo space.”
Space Save Supply Shoot System – S5, entering input standby mode.
Mode “Attack” set.
Cargo shell size-C chosen. Commencing final non-destructive scan with electromagnetism and ultrasonic waves. Airtightness, cushioning, and heat-resistance all clear. See report for details.
Combustible gas, magnetism, and electromagnetic firing system synchronization complete.
Liquid shaft magnetism and conductivity confirmed. Commencing redesign of molecular bonds using vibration control.
Initial velocity upon leaving barrel set to 1500 km/h. Final velocity upon reaching the surface set to 31,000 km/h.
Securing ballistic trajectory. Solar wind, debris, geomagnetism, gravity, and centrifugal force all clear. See report for details.
Displaying message: “Commencing final check for erroneous input and illegal remote access. Please manually reenter target coordinates and weapon release code.”
All inputs received.
Number of errors: 0. S5, entering final firing mode.
Firing liquid shaft and cargo shell.
The bright flash of white light was first noticed by Othinus as she held her witch’s hat with one hand and looked up into the cold sky.
“Here it comes.”
For a moment, it did not feel real to Kamijou. His brain was filled with the unrealistic idea that there were two suns in the sky. It is often said that people only believe what they see with their own eyes, but that fact worked against Kamijou here. The overwhelming sight destroyed his rational thought.
It took several seconds for his thoughts to finally come into focus.
He instinctually grabbed Othinus’s hand and began running across the snow.
An instant later, “something” fell into the Danish countryside.
A crater 15 kilometers across was created around the impact point.
It was as if a sword had fallen from the heavens and split apart the earth.
Who would have realized it was nothing more than a giant mass of H2O, aka water.
The word “intense” did not do its speed and pressure justice. An overwhelming explosion of steam occurred directly above the impact point and a circular shockwave covered everything. This was no different from spraying a hose at a line of ants on the ground, but this was actually happening. A massive wall of dust gave the shockwave visual form and it knocked over the conifer trees at four or five times the speed of sound. The wall of liquid and steam had transformed into a ferocious wall of heat. The thick layer of snow melted in an instant and the exposed ground was heated to orange.
As all this happened, Kamijou Touma and Othinus dove into a cave that had been half buried in snow. It was the place she had earlier pointed out as a good spot for hunting bears.
The straight line attack from the heavens lasted for several seconds.
The shockwave swept across the surface, so they somehow survived within the cave.
But the heat assaulted that underground area. Despite the narrow cave entrance, the heat still made its way inside. The air dried in no time and stabbing pain raced through Kamijou’s eyes. He started to cry out in surprise, but Othinus covered his mouth with her palm so he would not breathe in the scorching air.
About half a minute later, the rumbling continued, but the two of them turned toward the cave exit. Kamijou hesitantly breathed in through his nose, but it did not burn his lungs. The temperature outside was negative fifteen degrees, so the heat had been cooled off quickly.
He headed for the cave exit with Othinus and looked outside.
The scenery had completely changed.
He did not find a silver world of thick snow or a brown world of exposed dirt.
He saw glass.
The surface of the fifteen kilometer crater was completely covered in translucent glass. Glass and porcelain were normally made of silicon, so it could be made by harshly heating sand or dirt. Even if it made sense from a rational standpoint, the scenery still looked like a completely different world.
He felt he had wandered into an uncivilized planet filled with silicon life forms from an old SF novel.
There may have been a good reason for that.
He had no way of knowing, but the S5 had not been created for military purposes. It was a giant terraforming device that would send a massive amount of water mixed with nutrients to the moon or Mars. That would produce clouds and blessed rain which would cover the desolate land with primordial soup. The distances to other astronomical bodies were massive, but the weightlessness of space removed the decay of speed. Water could transform between solid, liquid, and gaseous states, but that was due to the “behavior” of the molecular bonds. In special states such as flash boiling, water would forget the “behavior” that turned it into a gas when heated to 100 degrees and it would remain as a liquid. The water for the S5 used vibrations to artificially redesign the molecular bonds. Until it passed through the atmosphere and struck the surface, the water was made to forget the “behavior” that said it should be a gas.
Simply put, it was a powerful bomb using nothing but pure water.
Its military use by aiming it at the earth had been an excuse to get funding out of the higher ups who were unlikely to pay for a project that could only be used for developing other planets.
However, the boy was not looking at the glassy alternate world.
He was looking up because his mind was fixated on that which had caused the intense impact.
So much dust filled his vision that it felt like looking through a sandstorm. He felt as if the sun was suddenly producing much less light.
But he still saw what resembled a giant tree towering up toward the heavens. He had the unrealistic idea that he had wandered into the monochrome footage occasionally seen in documentaries. That was how far-removed this scene was from a high school boy’s normal life.
The true identity of that mythical tree was a mushroom cloud.
He had not simply been thrown into the cloud of dust. He had been enveloped by that unique weather phenomenon that was still expanding.
He stared blankly at the scene before his eyes.
Turning the ground to glass was another well-known phenomenon associated with nuclear explosions.
As he stood there, someone tapped on his shoulder from behind.
It was Othinus.
“Mushroom clouds can be created by more than just nukes. Any explosion with enough force can do it. Large fuel-air bombs or thermobaric bombs should be able to pull it off, so…”
“No,” muttered Kamijou. “Only Academy City would be able to do this. And if they’re going this all-out, it’ll never end this easily! Mass-produced military clones, AIM thought entities, supersonic bombers, powered suits, cyborgs, and Rensa. I haven’t seen everything, but the glimpses I have seen are enough to know they’ll go farther than this if they’re serious!!”
The word “enemy” filled his mind.
Academy City had fired something from the sky or – more likely – from space.
But had they done so in order to directly crush him and Othinus? Had they made all those preparations for firepower that could be escaped on foot?
“Get back, Othinus.”
“This is only just beginning!!”
His shout was immediately followed by a violent gust of wind that destroyed the mythical tree of a mushroom cloud in an instant. But this pressure did not come from outside. The giant tree was ripped apart from the inside, from the blast site.
Othinus narrowed her eye at the scene before her.
Academy City was a collection of all sorts of science and technology, and Kamijou recalled the primary example: esper development.
In that case, what was Academy City’s most powerful and reliable weapon?
The answer stood directly in front of them.
Academy City’s #1 Level 5, Accelerator.
That true monster who could control all vectors stood in the blast site.
A mass of metal resembling a five meter rugby ball was buried at the center of the glass world. It had been fired at the tail end of the massive pillar of water and the huge steam explosion had cushioned its fall and allowed it to land without a parachute. Even so, it was unimaginable how much technology was needed to let it retain its shape and protect its contents with that much of an impact.
However, none of that entered Kamijou’s thoughts.
His mind was ruled by an even greater threat.
“Of all people…” His lips subconsciously moved. “You’re the very first one!?”
As he shouted, Kamijou raised his arm and knocked Othinus to her back on the translucent glass. A moment later, Accelerator calmly moved his slender leg.
He gently tapped his transport device as if preparing to juggle it like a soccer ball.
The mass of metal was the size of a light vehicle, but it flew forward with tremendous speed.
Kamijou Touma leaped to the side with all his might. The mass of metal almost grazed his clothing and it passed right over Othinus as it became a wrecking ball wielded by a giant.
“Stay on the ground! I’ll handle him!!”
Kamijou fixed his posture as he shouted toward Othinus and then faced forward again. But it had been a mistake to take his eyes off that monster for even an instant.
The spot he had been in was deserted.
A blank filled Kamijou’s mind just before a white face filled his vision.
The roar of four tornados whipping up the air from Accelerator’s back reached Kamijou’s ears after a short delay.
That deadly hand of reflection reached for his side in order to reverse his body’s blood flow and electrical signals.
He twisted his body while just barely managing to swipe away that demonic hand with his own right hand.
He went on to launch his fist upwards and right into Accelerator’s jaw.
A dull sensation passed through his fist and into his wrist.
Red eyeballs stared back at him without the slightest change in expression. A chill ran down Kamijou’s spine, so he leaped backwards without thinking.
A mass of air slammed into and split apart the ground where he had been.
A massive roar of shattering glass burst through the air.
(What’s going on? He’s quicker to recover than before and this isn’t shaking him. He can take a punch more than before!)
Finally, the white monster opened his mouth.
“What the hell are you even doing? Playing the hero with no thought to your own interests may be nothing new, but you’re showing a serious lack of vision this time.”
His voice contained no hint of urgency. He sounded like someone talking about a far off problem they had seen on the news.
However, the fury covering the world was like hell itself.
He lightly kicked the snow that was already beginning to accumulate on the glass and Kamijou crouched down as if twisting his upper body around. The white snow melted and the liquid split through the air at frightening speed. It looked a lot like a laser beam. When used in shipbuilding machine tools, simple H2O could slice through thick steel sheets like butter.
The bizarre sound cutting just barely above his head sent a chill down Kamijou’s spine and he attempted to approach while crouched down.
“What the hell are you doing!?” he shouted as he did so. “Sure, Gremlin did a lot of damage at Hawaii, Baggage City, and Tokyo, but you hold the position of the strongest! Did you really take enough damage to warrant killing people!?”
“I don’t have a reason like that.” Accelerator lightly clenched his fist. “When I was using my power, I didn’t have any crazy ideas about saving the world or protecting mankind, you dumbass!!”
A great roar split the air as fist struck fist.
“I’m only gonna bother looking after the people in my cell phone’s memory. But that person you have behind you might destroy everything in the world and kill off all of mankind. Among those six or seven billion are the few I know, so that’s a good enough reason for me to fight her. I won’t let you say otherwise.”
This may have been the opposite of Kamijou Touma’s path.
While saving the people close to him, Kamijou had gradually expanded his field of vision and eventually been shown problems on a global scale.
Accelerator had been able to reach that worldwide level from the very beginning and he had used that power to save someone nearby. All the while, the decisions he made contained enough destruction to bring down the entire world.
“I can’t go down the path you’re on,” said the monster as he stared Kamijou Touma in the eye at close range. And that former monster continued. “But that’s no reason for me to feel inferior to you.”
Wings burst from Accelerator’s back with tremendous force.
Rather than black, they were white.
As they pressed their fists together, the pure white wings stretched to several dozen meters and swung down toward Kamijou Touma like blades.
Kamijou leaped to the side as if sliding and somehow managed to intercept each wing as they fell from overhead, one after another. Rather than stopping them and destroying them, he touched their side and moved his hand to redirect them.
Accelerator spoke quietly while sending those fierce attacks.
“If I can either kill her or not kill her, then I ‘might as well’ kill her.”
His voice pierced Kamijou’s chest more sharply than the great din scraping at the planet.
The sharpness of his words may have been another reason the #1 was such a monster.
Even if he could guess at what went on in another monster’s head, he would not sympathize with them. The fact that he treated her as “identical” may have made him that much harsher on Othinus and her ability to destroy the world.
“If that’s the most surefire, absolute, and safe way of ensuring their safety, then I ‘might as well’ kill her. I’m not a fan of getting swept away by pointless emotion and getting stabbed in the back for my trouble. And I’m even less of a fan when it’s someone else’s back getting stabbed.”
Yes, thought Kamijou.
He was angry that Accelerator did not understand, but he did not resent the #1. And that was not simply because he had not explained the situation and had no time to do so.
That was a path Kamijou Touma himself had gone down.
Those had been his exact thoughts when the 23 special wards of Tokyo had transformed into a battlefield and he had been swept down the easy path while thinking he was a hero of justice. In fact, Accelerator used his violence while fully aware of what it truly meant to defeat an enemy, so one could say he was much, much wiser and more responsible.
“Hey, what’s the matter? I’ve said my bit and you’re still putting up a sad fight, so you’ve gotta have a reason for ruining what I’m trying to do here, don’t you!?”
“A reason, huh?”
Kamijou had difficulty holding off all of the white wings with just his one right hand. To intercept each and every one, he did the best he could to up his number of attacks.
“For most of everyone in the world, it’s probably true that Othinus is someone that’s not really worth saving. And logically, not saving her may be the better option, so you ‘might as well’ protect your own safety! But even so!!”
He used his fist to deflect one of the white wings to the side and simply shouted his reason forward.
“If you can choose between having her or not, it’s gotta be more fun to let her join the group!! It may not be logical and it may not be efficient, but this has got to be more enjoyable than throwing her out! That’s my reason!!”
The several dozen wings froze in place and Accelerator spoke in a quiet yet clearly irritated voice.
“You’re not even trying to convince me, are you?”
“That’s how true motives work.” Kamijou grinned. “If you had a reason that would convince anyone the moment you gave it, it’d be a manufactured argument you created for the sole purpose of convincing people.”
After traversing that nearly infinite hell, all Kamijou Touma had acquired was the elementary school level idea that “we should all just get along”. That was simply how much experience was needed to go from “thinking he understood it” to “truly understanding it”.
Kamijou was the same in his lack of a grand objective.
He wasn’t talking about the fate of the world and that wasn’t what he was fighting for.
“But,” said the #1 as his countless wings creaked. “Aren’t you being a bit too trusting in human nature to ask me to stop with nothing but that?”
“I don’t expect you to,” immediately replied Kamijou. “That’s why we fight until we reach an understanding.”
Accelerator fell silent for a moment, but took action.
Academy City’s #1 flapped his white wings and rose to an altitude of 5000 meters in an instant.
Kamijou saw a pure-white light fly in a large arc and then start back toward the surface. He had no way of knowing, but this top-speed rush using the white wings had saved many people from the Star of Bethlehem at the end of World War Three.
(My only chance is with a counter.)
Kamijou calmly moved his body.
(I can’t hit him with anything but my right fist, but he can take a punch better than before and I’ll probably be torn to mincemeat if I don’t finish it in a single hit.)
Before the clash, Kamijou crouched down and used his left hand to pick up a stone the size of a baby’s head.
Accelerator’s reflection prevented any attacks not made with his right hand. Throwing the rock would not even function as a distraction while that reflection was working.
But that was exactly why Kamijou did what he did.
In the instant of the clash between heaven and earth, Accelerator accurately attacked his target. He saw every action Kamijou Touma took while holding his right fist toward the heavens.
The monster did not even think about evading, but not because he was overly reliant on his reflection. He was well aware how unique that right hand was and he decided to rush in despite that hand which would pierce his absolute defense.
As long as he remained conscious and could continue his calculations, he would crush the boy before him.
He understood the power of that hand.
Or so he thought.
Kamijou Touma took an odd action.
He first made a cross counter, just as Accelerator had expected. Aiming for the center of the chest rather than the face was certainly out of the ordinary, but it was within the range of options he could take with that fist.
The problem was what came later.
Kamijou swung up the baby head rock with his left hand.
He first neutralized the reflection with his right hand and then he applied a tremendous force to Accelerator’s heart, even if it meant crushing his own right fist in the process. The impact from the rock was much greater than anything he could have caused with a mere fist.
Accelerator’s mind went blank.
With a tremendous noise, the thoughts that controlled his calculations cut out for an instant.
Accelerator awoke buried in snow.
The ground of cracked glass was nowhere to be seen below the thin layer of snow covering everything. The earth was working to return the scenery to normal even after that strike from a terraforming device.
Kamijou Touma and the eyepatch girl were gone and a new figure had appeared in that silver world.
The girl had short brown hair and eyes devoid of emotion.
She wore a white coat and a cold-resistant hat with earmuffs. She was reminiscent of yet different from the person Accelerator had seen in Russia during World War Three.
“What does a clone want?” he asked in annoyance.
“Hah hah hah /return. I was just so very, very worried about Kamijou-chan that I used my ticket and took control of this girl /return. I’m glad to see he could resolve his own problem, though /return.”
The giant grin looked out of place on that military clone’s face.
The one speaking was not the clone herself but the will of the network created by all of the clones.
While there was technically no division between the Will and the clone, anyone closely involved could understand the concept behind this difference.
“But /backspace, you weren’t going all out there, were you /escape? If their top batter of the #1 didn’t take action, there was a greater possibility of the other Level 5’s taking action randomly /return. And if the #1 was defeated right away, the higher ups would hesitate to use the rest of their precious seven for fear of losing them /return. Heh heh /return. Back when you knew nothing but winning and being the strongest, you would’ve never thought about gaining something by losing /return. I think you’ve grown some, Accelerator /return.”
The white monster clicked his tongue and gave a displeased reply while sitting on the snow.
“Is it really that surprising? You’re only here now thanks to my loss.”
“I’m saying it’s mature of you to be able to think about it like that /return.” The Will waved her index finger a bit. “I was really, really worried about Kamijou-chan, but he should be fine now /return. And since I’ve been using this ticket so much lately, I probably can’t come back out for a while /return. But /backspace, I did get to see something nice firsthand /return.”
“How long until the next time?”
“Don’t rely on me /return.” The Will chuckled. “This world belongs to all of you /return. As someone who floats around the Misaka Network with no physical body, I’m an outsider here /return. I may be able to give some outside advice, but I mustn’t be presumptuous enough to think about actually joining in /return.”
Some static mixed in with the girl’s voice, indicating that something was coming to an end and the time of parting was nigh.
“And as an outsider, I have one last piece of advice for you /return.”
“Do you ever shut up? Just get it over with.”
“The difference between you and Kamijou-chan is that one of you views us as an embodiment of good and the other truly views us as nothing but human /return. They may seem similar at first, but they’re completely different and it isn’t something you can consciously overcome /return. Maybe it’s like focusing too much on eliminating discrimination and instead trapping the person in the role of ‘victim’ /return. If you truly intend to face ‘us’, then you have to do something about that first☆ /return.”
With that said, the shorthaired girl fell forward into the snow.
Accelerator clicked his tongue in annoyance, but then realized something.
“Wait. What am I supposed to do with this unconscious girl?”
He received no response.
At the end of it all, some shackles had been prepared for that monster. Being played that perfectly ticked him off.
The battle had ended, but the pain had not.
Kamijou Touma groaned as he walked across the greenery of the glass plain and trudged through the deep white snow.
Two things tormented him.
The first was his shoulder. The intense force of the #1 falling from the heavens and onto his raised fist had almost dislocated the shoulder.
The second was his wrist. Smashing the large rock into his own hand had put a heavy burden on that fist.
He let out a cry. It may have seemed meaningless, but it worked as a brief pain reliever. It was the same theory behind hammer throwers shouting to intentionally release certain substances in their brain.
They did not have time to stop and leisurely perform first aid.
He continued screaming at the top of his lungs to endure the pain. This was not over yet. Accelerator’s arrival meant the coalition force most likely knew he and Othinus were in Denmark. Another pursuer could arrive or Accelerator could return and bare his fangs once more.
“Cool the injury with snow.” Othinus scooped up some white snow in both hands. “Numbing the nerves is a dangerous method, but it can temporarily stop the pain without any special medicine. You need to make sure you don’t give yourself frostbite, though.”
While trapped in a whirlpool of pain, Kamijou initially accepted it without question.
But partway through, he realized something.
Unlike him, Othinus had no visibly obvious injuries and her hands did not tremble as they scooped up the snow.
But that was exactly what did not make sense.
When grabbing a hunk of snow without gloves, it was only natural to feel cold.
Her fingertips should have been trembling.
He faced the girl walking next to him, but she had not noticed the oddity herself.
Seeing her puzzled look, the doubt inside him grew to conviction.
“Othinus!! When did you lose your sense of pain and cold!?”
He ignored his own pain, grabbed her shoulders, and shouted in her ear, but she was the same as always. She did not even reflexively draw back in surprise, but he interpreted that as sluggishness rather than calm.
“Hm. That’s a good question.”
He felt he should have noticed sooner. She had casually walked through this near-arctic environment and performed a headlock with vise-like strength. He had simply assumed she retained some of her power as a magic god and was still far from being human, but what if that was not the case?
What if her senses were vanishing and her body’s limiters were ceasing to function?
That too could explain her strange resistance to the cold and her tremendous strength for such a slender girl. Also, she had said from the beginning that using the Bone Boat was truly the last bit of her power. She had told him not to rely on her after that.
Not even the slightest piece of her special status as a magic god had remained.
Kamijou did not know if he could do anything about it now, but he lent her his shoulder. She felt heavy and he could tell she could not fully support herself. Most of all, she was cold. She felt like a pillar of ice. An amateur high school boy could not determine how much her bodily functions were being restricted.
“I’m fine,” she said. “I can walk on my own, so you don’t have to do that.”
“You idiot! Forcing yourself to move might be destroying you inside!!”
What scared him most of all was how Othinus herself felt no danger. She was so far gone that she could not even do that.
It reminded him of a soldier with a fatal bullet wound to the gut who smiled as he forgot his pain in the very, very end.
“Staying here won’t help, so let’s get to Egeskov Castle and end this, Othinus.”
As the road continued on and on, the white landscape seemed to reject any and all life.
Nevertheless, Kamijou Touma stared forward and continued on.
“No matter who’s waiting for us up ahead, I will save you. I swear it.”