Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume12 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: A Single Breakthrough — Hand_Made_ROUTE.
The transparent floor floated a few centimeters off the ground.
A giant donut-shaped machine was located above the evenly spaced pillars.
It was a graviton-style artificial gravity control device.
Now that it had been tampered with, gravity bomb may have been a more apt name.
It covered everything like an oppressive starry sky.
The group of St. Germains parted like the Red Sea as they changed formation.
One individual had long, wavy blonde hair and white skin. She had likely been intentionally made to resemble Frenda Seivelun to use against Kanou Shinka. Her tailcoat resembled a stage magician’s bunny suit and jacket combination.
That woman stood at the center of it all, and the excitement spread through them all like heat through a diamond.
She pulled a twisted spear from the ground and held it in one hand.
“Do you really think you can defeat a sturdy crystal structure with nothing but a few different individuals?”
The blonde St. Germain smiled as she spoke.
“You seem to be mistaken about something. I am not a magician or a Magic God. I am a third category to go alongside those two. If you wish to completely destroy me, you need the same level of firepower necessary to extinguish the entire category of ‘magician’ or ‘Magic God’. By gathering together, you have merely saved me the trouble of hunting you all down.”
“Enough talk,” spat out Kanou Shinka.
He shook his semi-long hair while speaking on an equal level as the monster.
“Come and get us, if you can. Or do you refuse to fight unless someone throws a glove at you?”
St. Germain remained silent for a moment, but her smile remained and she eventually sighed.
Almost immediately afterwards, more than five thousand Chambords rushed in at frightening speed from all 360 degrees around him.
There may have been nothing he could have done on his own.
He might have been overwhelmed by the numbers and had every inch of his body skewered.
But Kamijou Touma used Imagine Breaker, Hamazura Shiage used his Power Lifter, Mugino Shizuri used Meltdowner, and Kinuhata Saiai used Offense Armor.
It sounded less like shattering glass and more like a pillar of jewels breaking.
Even with hundreds or thousands of simultaneous attacks, there was nothing to worry about when St. Germain had a single target: Kanou Shinka. If they all surrounded the boy and prepared to intercept, they could reach the spears that were concentrated together and destroy them.
With someone to the front, back, left, and right, they could protect his life.
All four of them only needed some kind of nonstandard power.
“What’s wrong, St. Germain?” asked Kamijou. “I’m sick of seeing what you can do. It’s a powerful but repetitive threat, so can we bring this to an end now?”
“This is a real pain,” cut in Mugino as she held her palm towards the blonde St. Germain. “So basically, we just have to wear down their numbers without actually killing them, right? Well, Academy City’s tech is pretty great; my body’s proof enough of that. They can live a perfectly normal life even if I blow off a limb or three!!”
A brilliant beam of light surged out, but the blonde St. Germain only smiled a little.
She did not dodge with all her might or even shrink back.
She simply rotated the spear in her hand.
The beam had definitely hit, but…
“Is it really that strange?” asked St. Germain with a smile. “This was an attack I had already seen.”
She had caught it near the top of her Chambord and she had done so as easily as catching a white ball thrown by a pitching machine.
“What you have been calling spears are no more than the roots of the Chambord. That name comes from the laboratory I once used. Simply put, it provides all of the tools I need to pursue my research themes. You could say it is a vanguard that takes water and nutrients from others, but you could also call it the fragile fingertips that have difficulty maintaining themselves when not protected within the earth.”
She drew a ring of light by rotating the spear whose point was heated to orange.
“But unfortunately for you, the roots can grow stronger by twining together. Not to mention the branches and trunk which are always exposed to the external air and external enemies. Their durability is literally orders of magnitude greater.”
In his Power Lifter, Hamazura thought on that unpleasant ring of that word.
Aneri recorded each individual term and drew connections with red lines.
“Branches and a trunk, too? What on earth are you talking about?”
“One could say controlling diamonds, carbon, and organic matter is nothing more than a metaphor for life.”
The ring of light lost its axis and transformed into something like the numeral 8 on its side or the symbol for infinity.
And the tip was pointed directly forward.
“Do you know the difference between plants and animals, you failure of a boy? There are a few notable traits, but the most well-known is the difference between the cell membrane and the cell wall. Plant cells are a single almighty cell that provides all the necessary life functions such as skin, skeleton, and blood vessels, but that has made it difficult for them to move under their own will. One can only laugh at the irony of fate, but at the same time, it leads to an interesting idea.”
A strange shivering sensation ran up Kinuhata’s spine.
“For example, what if plant cells were fully divided between different functions such as skin, skeleton, blood vessels, and muscles? And what if they were then reunified to stimulate optimization? Now, what kind of evolutionary tree would that produce? If you compare the animal cell membrane and the plant cell wall, the plant’s is undoubtedly stronger. A beast made of plant matter would be much stronger than one of animal matter, wouldn’t you think?”
They did not wait any longer.
Mugino Shizuri fired her #4 beams into the blonde St. Germain again and again.
However, there were no screams or cries.
The pillar directly next to St. Germain had swelled out unnaturally.
Something had shielded her.
The overflowing roar sounded just like pressure escaping a steam engine. The Dianoid’s floor shook as a massive insect slowly revealed its form. To the very top it was just below two meters tall, and it was over four meters long. Its overall silhouette resembled a scorpion with a thick arcing tail in the back.
But instead of legs, it had complexly intertwined tree roots; instead of a mouth, white flower petals with a hint of red; and instead of two giant pincers, the predatory pouches of a carnivorous plant.
It was a mixture of plant and animal, much like an orchid mantis.
The upper body of a man in a tailcoat grew from the tip of the large arced tail where a venomous stinger would normally be found. Needless to say, he was one of the many St. Germains. So in a way, this was essentially a bizarre version of Hamazura’s Power Lifter.
For an instant, Hamazura thought Aneri had undergone a serious error after succumbing to all the rigorous work he was putting it through.
But in reality, the creature’s estimated muscular strength was just that ridiculously high.
The flower scorpion glowed orange in places due to the heat of Meltdowner, but its silhouette remained intact and its countless legs scraped at the ground. The blonde St. Germain thrust forward her spear-shaped Chambord as if it were a conductor’s baton.
“I will now reveal to you the secret laws ruling the trinity of organic matter, carbon, and life.”
The four-meter flower scorpion charged forward like a shell, and the male St. Germain extending from the thick tail produced a deep sound as he swung his own body around.
An instinctual chill filled Hamazura’s entire body.
He suppressed the urge to leave it all up to Aneri and he adjusted his grip on the joysticks.
First, Mugino’s Meltdowner beams continued flying in from long range.
But the scorpion maintained its momentum and Hamazura used his steel arms to forcibly restrain its large pincers.
With a horrid grinding noise, the Power Lifter slid backwards. Index and Takitsubo escaped to the side more to avoid being crushed by the heavy machinery than by the scorpion.
Kinuhata Saiai surrounded herself in Offense Armor and charged in while Kamijou threw his right fist into the ferocious floral maw that resembled a bear trap.
Finally, the monster’s advance came to a stop.
(That should do it.)
Kamijou turned his focus from the empty shell and towards St. Germain.
But that proved to be a mistake.
The back of the crumbling plant beast split open from front to back just like a giant tropical flower. The tail containing the male St. Germain and the back split off and moved around on their own. But instead of a tail, it was now a crocodile made from complexly intertwined ivy and predatory pouches.
Its cluttered array of fangs approached the boy who had assumed it would stop once destroyed.
Kamijou did not even have time to cry out.
The crocodile that was larger than a human directly attacked Kamijou’s head before he could recover from being caught off-guard.
“Super take this!!”
Kinuhata Saiai was the closest by, so she launched a powerful uppercut.
The crocodile was thrown way off course and up into the air, and the male St. Germain embedded inside went with it. The belly was the most defenseless point of any beast, and it was now exposed.
Kinuhata prepared to throw another punch, but then the crocodile split front to back again.
It split and split and split.
“What the hell is this!?” shouted Kamijou.
It was like a matryoshka doll. The beast grew progressively smaller, and it now resembled a creepy octopus that attached upside down to the ceiling with tentacles made of ivy and roots.
And the male St. Germain spun his spear around as he dangled upside down from the creature.
A disturbing pulsation ran through the head… no, for an octopus it would be the body. Regardless, the round portion seemed to inflate like a balloon, and then small flowers opened all over it. It produced a sound like a carbonated beverage being opened.
As soon as Hamazura caught a whiff of the odor slowly descending from above, his face grew pale. This was the grim reaper that anyone who worked on motor vehicles or other combustion-based machines were all too familiar with.
Aneri’s compositional analysis provided evidence for his fears, so he shouted its name.
“That’s carbon monoxide!! Mugino, burn the air! If you don’t, we’re done for!!”
Beams of light shot in several directions at once.
That deadly gas was primarily produced by incomplete combustion; an intense oxidation reaction would convert it into relatively safe carbon dioxide. Aneri had colored the toxin red to visualize it, but that coloration was already vanishing.
The remains of the octopus had shriveled up like rotting fruit, and it must have completed its role because it fell down. The male St. Germain must have breathed in the toxin himself because he collapsed to the floor and did not move.
While their attention was on him, the blonde St. Germain rotated her spear a few times.
The transparent floor undulated.
A giant mossy green spider appeared, and a male St. Germain sank into its back as if it were a bed or sofa. A mantis was covered in tough tree bark like armor, and a young female St. Germain had its two scythe-like arms attached to her shoulders and dragged the rest of it like a cape. A giant rattlesnake was made from countless intertwined roots, and an elderly St. Germain vibrated in place of the rattle on the end of the tail.
The beasts were not completed beasts.
They were nothing more than beings that incorporated the great strength of plant matter. All of the St. Germains held similar Chambords which provided more brutal destruction than any venomous stinger or fang.
“Let me be clear about one fundamental fact.”
The blonde St. Germain smiled as she rested her Chambord on her shoulder.
She spread her other hand horizontally to indicate the other St. Germains standing alongside her.
“If you are to face ‘me’, then you must overcome the framework of the individual. After all your boasting, I hope you have enough fighting spirit to drive ‘me’ into overflow.”
At the same time, the countless St. Germains wearing plant matter armor attacked alongside the surrounding downpour of spears they had created.
St. Germain’s attacks had attained maximum intensity.
It was like refining oil or alcohol before igniting it. It was like a laser-shaped diamond cutter that fired artificial diamond dust at extremely high speed. It was like a dust explosion caused by a large amount of scattered carbon dust.
They would sometimes fire a downpour of spears, they would sometimes transform their plant matter beasts or move to a new one, and they would sometimes wrap roots and vines around themselves to produce enormous springs.
The blonde St. Germain jumped freely about, kicking off the pillars or ceiling, and Kamijou Touma remained on the floor, but they briefly collided head-on.
Her Chambord caught the boy’s right hand and it was destroyed bit by bit as the outermost layers were stripped away like a Baumkuchen.
They glared at each other like warriors locking blades and they threw words at each other.
“Enough of your desperate tricks. You can’t manipulate anyone anymore and you can’t trick anyone with your lies!!”
“I wouldn’t be so sure. All I have to do is ensure everything works out in the end. Taking Aihana Etsu out of the equation isn’t all that much of a problem for me.”
The blonde St. Germain smiled thinly.
Kamijou finally realized she was completely serious. She was prepared for battle as a con artist.
“I think you are the one that isn’t fully aware of the situation. The gates of hell have already opened. The Magic Gods have already entered the real world. And do you know what they will desire first?”
“They are of course after you.”
She forcibly swung her partially broken spear.
With a solid clang, some space opened up between them.
“Just as the sword desired a king and St. Germain desired Aihana Etsu, the Magic Gods long for the one known as Kamijou Touma. That is why they envied Othinus who could move about as she wished. Heh heh. Yes, that’s right. That is why they envied her!! Not for using the name Gremlin, and not for twisting the real world as she saw fit! They were only angry that she was monopolizing the one known as Kamijou Touma!!”
“Before wondering about my credibility, you wondered how I knew about those hundreds of billions of hells you experienced, didn’t you? Well, I understand. I am neither a magician nor a Magic God. But don’t you dare say that the category of St. Germain is somehow inferior to that of the Magic God. No matter how perfect and happy a world the Magic Gods try to create, I will always occur at some point, regardless of the possibilities or environment involved. I am a being that transcends causality and the phases.”
Hamazura’s Power Lifter mercilessly charged toward the blonde St. Germain from behind.
But before the steel fist could reach her, a green spider rushed in from the side, pressed the Power Lifter to the ground, and caused it to slide like a passenger plane in an emergency landing.
Kamijou gave a shout directly below the donut-shaped gravity bomb.
“St. Germain doesn’t exist. Those supposed Magic Gods are a product of fiction!”
“That is how it has turned out, yes.” A hint of stickiness filled her smile. “But surely you have noticed, boy. When discussing the truth of the world, the ‘real’ history that everyone accepts as normal is completely groundless. Did you find Othinus when investigating the legends of Odin? How do you link a muscular male god with that girl!?”
“You say you heard it from someone or saw it written somewhere. But what meaning is any of that when speaking of St. Germain? Especially when everything you see before your eyes is the truth.”
His understanding was shaken.
Everything he thought was true had been knocked loose by nothing but words.
“I am St. Germain. I am the third category that easily separated itself from the mere magicians yet refused to join the worn-out Magic Gods. I can only be described with the term ‘St. Germain’. Why can’t you grasp that simple fact?”
Just like someone losing depth perception in a pure-white field of snow, Kamijou Touma’s mind was thrown into an informational whiteout.
And then he spoke.
“Is that more of your roleplaying?”
The blonde St. Germain’s illusionist’s smile froze, just like cracks entering a jewel.
“I thought it was strange,” spat out Kamijou. “If all you wanted to do was trick Aihana Etsu into doing something wrong, there would be no point in sealing the Dianoid and trapping everyone inside. If your goal was blowing me away with the gravity bomb, you would have no reason to trick Aihana Etsu. And what’s this about that golden shield he had? If you just wanted to fill him with hate and send him against me, you could’ve just given him a knife or a gun. You wouldn’t need to make him believe in magic on such short notice, so a simpler weapon would have made it easier to get him moving. No matter where you look, your actions weren’t logical.”
“At first, it all looks like you have some grand master plan, but there wasn’t a plan at all. That’s the true form of St. Germain. Whether it’s a grudge you’ve held for ten years, a plan you’ve been working on for twenty, or a goal you’ve sought for thirty, you just make it up in five seconds and then overwrite your own memories. Of course the plans, thought processes, and morality of someone like that would be an inconsistent mess. You can’t keep just one thing up for long.”
That made it impossible to argue against St. Germain on terms of good and evil.
Even if he had killed someone for money, he would claim to have been killing his father’s murderer as soon as someone questioned him about it. And if anyone accused him of wrongdoing during his sob story, he would make them out to be a corrupt cop or a bribed judge before mercilessly slaughtering them. In the very end, his actions would be the just ones.
“When you first attacked, you claimed you didn’t have time to deal with me since you’d found Aihana, but that wasn’t the truth. You were scared of Index’s 103,000 grimoires and Othinus’s experiences as a real Magic God. You were scared of carelessly showing yourself in front of people who knew how this world really works! That one chance meeting would reveal all of your lies and place all the blame back on you!!”
That was how he had gotten by.
After piling up so many excuses and indulgences within himself, he had run out and needed to compare himself to a Magic God. That was how great a magician he was.
“You aren’t a Magic God. But St. Germain? A third category? We’re not talking about beer here. New definitions don’t just pop up like that! You’re nothing but a normal magician. You’re just like all the others I’ve seen before. But you were afraid of being called that, weren’t you!?”
That brought up another issue.
A very fundamental issue.
“Are you really St. Germain?”
“Or are you someone else who found it easier to use that name!?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
St. Germain gave a wide grin and a few beads of sweat appeared on her small forehead.
“Needless to say, I am the time traveler known as St. Germain who traversed 1500 years in search of a king to serve and who never seemed to have enough money to keep up with those filthy nobles, so I used my words to get by when necessary and weren’t they the inefficient ones for maintaining those wasteful and extravagant customs and it was not my fault in any way because I did the very best I could for this world and I would assume you don’t want the world to be overrun by Magic Gods when you know firsthand just how much of a threat they are and you know that something has to be done if not just one but multiple have been released into this world and since I have the power to, I must do something about it and you are the one they are after and are certainly built into their plans, so destroying you now would force them to correct their plans and it is a shame we cannot just talk this out, but you simply refuse to understand my perfectly logical explanation and it is all your fault for not understanding, so it is you that is the problem here and not me, so there is nothing I need to worry about – simply nothing at all – and now that I understand that, I can relax and- Defrag complete: Report #1006632901.”
Kamijou Touma slowly narrowed his eyes and shook his head.
He knew she had overwritten everything in just five seconds, but that was exactly why he said what he said.
“You poor thing.”
The blonde St. Germain bit into the corner of her lip with her canine tooth, and she swung her Chambord horizontally even though it was broken.
One hundred spears appeared from the wall behind her and rushed toward Kamijou.
However, Hamazura used the Power Lifter’s legs to kick the green spider up into their path. The flying spider acted as a shield and was skewered in midair. The St. Germain embedded in the spider’s back frantically separated and escaped.
Despite the repeated sounds of destruction, Kamijou continued speaking.
“But it isn’t because you’re an inconsistent mess with nothing of your own that I feel sorry for you.”
“You may be able to fabricate your morality and slip into a century of history in only five seconds, and you may be able to continue overwriting and overwriting until an optimum history has been built up in your head.” He seemed to throw his words at her. “But even after all that, you still can’t escape yourself. That’s why I feel sorry for you. After all, every magician has a beginning. You begin with some reality you can’t bear to accept, so you vow to overturn it, carve your magic name into your heart, and then become a magician, right? Then there has to be a beginning to your lies. No matter how easily you can lie or how comfortably you can make your way through this world, you can’t escape the initial event that made you want to start acting. So none of this works as an indulgence for you. You may be able to deceive everyone else, but you can never deceive yourself.”
“Is that all you have to say?”
“Yes. That’s all I can say here.”
This whole time, Kamijou only spoke from his enemy’s point of view.
“Now it’s your turn to speak. But not to me. Speak to your own heart, you damn con artist.”
Immediately afterwards, their clash resumed.
“Cut the line!”
That shout of anger continually filled TV Orbit’s production office on the Dianoid’s mid level.
“Physically sever the cable if you have to. Just keep us from broadcasting. Hurry!!”
Needless to say, the greatest fear when a TV station was taken over was not the destruction of the broadcast equipment. It was having that equipment used for nefarious purposes.
A TV station or any part of the mass media could lead to deaths if misused. It had only been an accident, but when an American radio station had read a news-style drama about the arrival of aliens, it had led to a nationwide panic that included shootings. If an accident could do that much, just how much chaos could intentionally inaccurate information cause? In the worst case, it would be based on pre-existing feelings of discrimination.
The lack of mass production for and high-specs of editing and broadcasting equipment worked together to make them often cost hundreds of millions of yen, but people’s lives were more valuable. And that was not just a nice thing to say. If they were sued, the reparations and drop in the corporation’s public image would literally make the human lives more expensive to lose.
They had already had an intruder and a container had gone missing, so anything was possible that day.
But the people in the station were most afraid of someone spreading false information that would cause large-scale riots throughout Academy City.
They certainly never imagined it would lead to “this”.
A single footstep rang coldly behind them.
The number of St. Germains below the donut-shaped gravity bomb was reducing bit by bit.
The surprising leader in takedowns was not Mugino Shizuri or Kinuhata Saiai. It was Stephanie. While the powerful espers had their hands full holding back the spears and plant matter beasts, Stephanie was free to fire on the St. Germains with her PDW.
Her PDW did not use bullets fired by gunpowder. Instead, it used compressed gas to fire mock bullets made of tungsten steel.
Within twenty to thirty meters, it was destructive enough to fill a flesh-and-blood body with holes, so it was about as dangerous as a real gun indoors. Still, there were a number of ways to reduce the damage done.
For example, she could fire through clothing or stacks of paper.
For example, she could ricochet the bullets off of the walls or ceiling.
Quick bursts of gunshots rang out and the St. Germains were struck on the side of the jaw or temple to forcibly shake their skulls. With some slight blood loss, they collapsed from a concussion.
“Tch. The adult’s stealing all the good parts!”
“What even is that? Super point-blank sniping? What kind of genre is that!?”
St. Germain used a variety of attacks using carbon: the countless spears, the armor of plant matter animals, and carbon monoxide spray. But the most dangerous part was the multiple chains of attacks from different angles and used with time delays. Each time one of them was defeated, their attack pattern would change.
The group moving toward Mugino and Kinuhata was still relatively thin.
Stephanie was of course the same as she freely moved about.
The most dangerous area was around the pointy-haired boy with only his right fist to work with and Hamazura Shiage who wore his Power Lifter.
There was no real reason to provide covering fire, but the more St. Germains they took out, the less of a threat they were overall.
And whether they were controlled or not, Academy City’s #4 was not about to choose her own death just because she could not absolutely guarantee the survival of the hostages.
But something moved in the way just as Mugino Shizuri held out her palm.
It was not any of the St. Germains or the plant matter beasts that looked like giant orchid mantises.
Hamazura himself moved in and out of her line of fire.
“What a pain. Maybe I should just shoot him too.”
“Wait, Mugino, wait,” calmly cut in Takitsubo Rikou.
A moment later, Mugino felt a bizarre tremble run up her spine.
She turned around in surprise, but the girl in the pink track suit was staring vacantly into space.
(What was that? Did I almost lose control?)
“Wait!! What’s that super blank look for!? Is this the usual pattern where you make me do all the work but take credit as a team!? That’s super cruel!!”
When Kinuhata Saiai snapped at her, Mugino got back to fighting.
The two of them forcibly stopped the St. Germains from moving and Stephanie knocked them out with accurate gunshots.
This demon had taken over the Dianoid, but they had a way to drag him down to a manageable level.
“I super don’t know how many St. Germains there are in the building, but whittling down their numbers would be best! So let’s take them all out!!”
“If we can safely take a few samples, the others back there will figure out what’s at the root of it all, right? Then let’s not push ourselves. We only have to hold them in place long enough to have them knocked out.”
Mugino was talking about Index and Othinus who waited behind them.
They had pulled back one of the concussed St. Germains and were checking over the body and peering into the pupils.
“Touma said something ridiculous about using the reverse of the process that original grimoires use to infect people’s minds, but…”
“Yeah. For using a name like St. Germain, the method sticks to the basics. It looks like an acting trance is used to overwrite the contents. He views himself as the carbon forming a diamond, so it was necessary to purify his existence while creating the stable crystal. It’s pretty logical.”
When a group attempted to contact the dead, it was commonly said they could not include anyone with doubt in their heart. That often led people to view those techniques as scams, but there was a logical reason for it.
By wearing the same “uniform”, eating the same foods, and going to a set location at a set date and time – especially an underground crypt or deep in the woods – they would create a small world cut off from the outside world. Creating a group dyed in unique colors was a way of bending the common knowledge of that small, isolated society.
If one placed a single drop of ink into the sea, it would be quickly diluted, but things were very different when it was placed inside a single cup of water.
To complete a ritual, cabal magicians had techniques of instantly filling themselves with the appropriate thoughts. They had ways of twisting their own beliefs and principles in only a few days like turning a dial to match the angel they were summoning, the phenomenon they were producing, the time and date, or the positions of the stars.
Ultimately, they would fully purify their own beings so they could synchronize and parallelize.
St. Germain’s legend had that tendency in the first place.
He was called unfathomable and no one knew what he truly thought, but he had appeared in the parties and gatherings of royals and nobles which were cut off from normal society. And there, he had used his understanding of the hopes and desires running rampant there to dye himself in their colors. After doing so, he would make thorough use of them. Immortality, time travel, ancient knowledge, and buried treasure were all things that powerful people with too much spare time would leap at.
And eventually, their positions would reverse.
Instead of dying himself in their colors, the royals and nobles’ fascination with the legend of St. Germain would be dyed in his colors. They would use massive amounts of money to obtain St. Germain who knew everything and that would place serious pressure on their city or country. At that point, there were no leading roles, minor roles, actors, or audiences. Just as the matter drawn to the nucleus of the crystal was not fundamentally different from that nucleus, they became a single massive crystal known as St. Germain. It was a mad theatre.
In which case…
“He didn’t even have to use the toxins of an original grimoire. When magicians start feeling unwell in the middle of a large-scale ceremony, there’s a ‘resuscitation’ technique used to quickly remove them. He just used that as-is.”
“Well, it’s really nothing but acting, so the roots aren’t that deep. How about we get started and use this opening to crush the entire St. Germain network? Since he sees himself as a diamond, there must be a controller or settings file as the 0.1% impurity lurking below the other 99.9%, but that may show itself once we shake him hard enough.”
One of them was an expert in everything up to becoming a Magic God due to the 103,000 grimoires stored in her head.
The other was an expert in everything after becoming a Magic God due to being the only member of humanity to observe such things.
Together, it would be harder to find something their treasure trove of knowledge did not cover. If they used that knowledge to its fullest, there was no way they could not construct the virus of information needed to release these people from St. Germain’s control.
Mugino, Kinuhata, and Stephanie were holding back most of them, so there was no chance of defeat now.
But then Takitsubo Rikou suddenly raised her head.
The Dianoid’s lowest level was a flat surface covered in evenly spaced pillars, but those pillars contained flat-screen monitors. They may have been meant to monitor the artificial gravity control device instead of being purely decorative.
Regardless, those monitors were displaying some strange information.
“This isn’t over yet.”
The blonde St. Germain spoke to Kamijou with her mouth split wide in a smile.
“I am not done yet, boy.”
“No, you’re just about at your limit. You aren’t even looking at your true enemy, so you never had a chance of winning!”
“I am not talking about willpower or fighting spirit. Do not underestimate the third category of St. Germain.”
She snapped her fingers and the many flat-screen monitors attached to the pillars activated.
“Have you forgotten? I sealed the Dianoid and trapped countless people inside.”
“You don’t mean…”
“And St. Germain synchronizes, infects, and spreads. As long as I can provide the crystalizing stimulus, I can spread without end, just like electricity in high concentration saline. And wouldn’t you know it, the Dianoid’s mid level contains an entire TV station!”
“You don’t mean…!!”
Deafening static assaulted their ears. Image after image danced across the screen, too quickly to follow: discontinuous scenery, a page of an ancient document, a strange graph, a realistic three-view drawing of a skull, etc. Overall, it looked like a bizarre sort of flashing art.
Aneri tried to analyze the pattern but quickly produced an error.
Hamazura groaned while operating the Power Lifter relatively close to Kamijou.
“What… what the hell is that!? Don’t tell me that weird footage is playing throughout the entire building! And please don’t tell me everyone who sees it will turn into a St. Germain!”
“Why do you think it would be contained on such a small scale?” replied St. Germain with a laugh. “Didn’t I tell you? The Dianoid contains an entire TV station.”
Without thinking, Hamazura Shiage completely forgot about the extreme battle surrounding him and he naturally looked to the side. He could not see outside because the Dianoid’s lowest level was deep underground and not even Aneri could gather that much information with the Power Lifter’s sensors, but he had to have been picturing the endless expanse of the nighttime city.
What was happening in Academy City?
What world would they find once they set foot outside of the sealed Dianoid?
This one action nearly broke Hamazura’s spirit, but Kamijou Touma remained facing the blonde St. Germain.
“No. Is this just another of those school plays you love so much?”
“If you could put a video online to synchronize, parallelize, crystalize, and grow without end, you would have already created a single crystal out of the entire world’s population. You wouldn’t be a third category or whatever; you’d be a crystal known as humankind. You may need to imprint information like that, but that isn’t the full story. There has to be some kind of decisive trigger at the end.”
Kamijou Touma continued speaking.
“Hey, St. Germain. Why did you just lie? Enough with the terrible lines that set your teeth on edge. To you, lying is a weapon and acting is a shield. You must have had a reason for it. How about I delve a little deeper? You’re starting to panic, aren’t you? Are we actually approaching checkmate here? That’s why you decided you needed to turn things around with your words and destroy our rhythm.”
The blonde St. Germain smiled quietly.
And as she smiled, an unpleasant sweat poured from her face. Veins that looked on the verge of bursting bulged out across her otherwise perfect face.
“Oh, I know.”
Kamijou’s words did not stop.
At this moment, he was more talkative than the specialist who had continually deceived royals and nobles with countless lies.
“How about this?”
He slowly extended his hand and pointed at something right in front of him.
It was time for the decisive answer.
“The pills. St. Germain is always taking pills.”
But this voice came from directly behind him.
It came from Kanou Shinka who had been driven out of St. Germain’s focus until now.
St. Germain controlled carbon.
That was true on the micro level and the macro level.
In that case, his specialty could not be imprinting information in people’s minds. The method had to use carbon.
For example, the black pills inside the pill case.
At the very center of his mysterious legends was the fact that he never ate any normal food and had lived for hundreds of years on only his secret medicine, wheat, and water.
What if that medicine was actually a certain microbe dried by the thousands or tens of thousands?
When dried, their life functions were mostly stopped and they could remain alive in that state for years. As soon as they absorbed a liquid such as saliva, they would resume functioning and invade the body of the human who had ingested them.
That was the less than 0.1% impurity in the 99.9% pure crystal.
It was not the nucleus or the terminal; it was a complete outsider. And just as with colored diamonds, it functioned as a controller to rearrange the properties of the entire crystal.
Someone knowledgeable of such things might think of Last Order’s position in the Misaka Network or Fremea Seivelun’s position in the Agitate Halation Project.
But if all of the St. Germains who repeatedly spread like an ever-growing crystal always needed the pills, then that alone would restrict them. And a diamond’s impurity had to remain at less than 0.1%. If it took in too much, it would cause a defect in the crystalline structure.
So that impurity was the most unstable portion of the structure.
Whether it was a new member, a weary member, or a member that had been worked loose from the crystal and lost control, the settings file worked to stabilize the errors.
What if microbes like that were the trigger?
What if they could be cultivated in water and wheat and they could infect the human body?
What would that make St. Germain who had been whispered of for well over one thousand years?
Was he a literal…
A dignified song filled the room.
It came from Index who had her hands folded as she knelt next to a collapsed St. Germain.
St. Germain’s crystallization worked by purifying people’s thoughts using the personality changing technique of an acting trance. This impromptu incantation would remove that and call back the original personality.
This was not magic. It was a more fundamental technique.
It used no magic power and was technically not a supernatural ability.
So when it seemed like St. Germain’s thoughts were leaking out, it was only an illusion. It was nothing more than words mechanically spilling from the supposedly unconscious St. Germain as if he were trying to fight something.
It was much like he was suffering from a nightmare of old wounds.
To normal ears, it may have sounded like static, but to anyone with the proper knowledge, that scream of memories was enough to imagine the original sound. It was much like a needle running across the inscribed surface of a record.
And it brought several formulae to Index’s mind.
(Is this how it works? The pills, the secrets of life, and the identity of what made St. Germain into St. Germain.)
It was more than just a voice.
The collapsed St. Germain’s fingertips moved slightly. An index finger tapped out a simple signal of zeroes and ones and a fingertip slid along the floor to form writing. Index added them all into her mental framework.
What she discovered was a dreadful truth.
(This didn’t come about naturally. Those pills and those creatures were manufactured?)
But by who?
Microbes could not shake the flask used to cultivate them.
Just like using bread to grow mold, someone had used water and wheat to prepare the optimum environment to produce them.
(Who could it have been?)
Index began to mentally reach out her hand.
There was a door there.
She reached toward the veil of secrecy that led to an ancient world.
(Or is that itself part of-…)
“Don’t be fooled.”
A voice dragged her mind back to reality.
It had come from fifteen centimeter Othinus.
“That doesn’t exist. Making you think ‘could it be’ or ‘is it possible’ is how this con artist works. It seems impossible by any normal standards, but it would be fascinating if it were true. St. Germain doesn’t use credibility to fool people. He uses curiosity. So there isn’t actually anything there. All that really exists is the boring reality before your eyes.”
Besides, their goal was not to perform a full investigation.
This was a side road, a meaningless digression. They needed to return to the task at hand without being led astray.
To resolve everything, they had to erase it all, including the claw marks hidden in the deepest depths.
The blonde St. Germain’s back straightened unnaturally and twitched like she had been hit by a stun gun.
Nothing had happened to her on the outside.
This was coming from the internal structure of the St. Germain framework.
Someone was working to delete them all plus the network itself.
And they had been fully caught by that attempt.
She would be eliminated in just a few more minutes, as would all the others. Every St. Germain alive in this time period would vanish.
Even as her shout and gasp caught in her throat, she produced a new spear from the floor and grabbed the Chambord in one hand.
The surrounding walls and floor groaned as plant matter creatures grew from them.
Even the blonde St. Germain was attempting to don a monster which had giant blooming flower petals instead of a mane.
She was preparing to slaughter her enemy.
And that enemy’s name was…
“You made one mistake,” said Kamijou Touma.
With a great bursting sound, his right fist stopped the lion his opponent was trying to wear.
And that was all it took for the beast to crumble.
“It wasn’t that you didn’t make it to the gravity bomb in time, it wasn’t that you failed to control Aihana Etsu, it wasn’t that you didn’t drive us away from here, and it wasn’t that your lies weren’t enough to deceive yourself.”
He opened his fist and pointed straight forward.
But he was not pointing at the blonde St. Germain.
He pointed at the person beyond her who truly stood in the leading role.
“You mistook the name of your enemy!! Your true enemy was by your side from the very beginning!!”
St. Germain attempted a horizontal swing of her spear as she turned around.
In other words, that was where her enemy stood.
It was the #6, Aihana Etsu. No, it was the one-and-only Kanou Shinka who had cast off that shell.
Before, that hero had said he would take back his friend’s pride that she had trampled underfoot.
So from the very beginning, Kamijou Touma had not been a necessary part of this story. He had only been there to help fix the jammed gears when Kanou Shinka had hesitated to do what he needed to do.
Now that the gears were working again and everything was turning like normal, it was hard for that puny boy to find any reason why he would lose.
An explosive roar rang out.
That deafening noise was likely the first time he had ever seriously punched someone.
The pills that were a settings file had been taken away and a fatal error was spreading, so the St. Germain network was falling apart. The 0.1% impurity in the 99.9% pure diamond crystal had caused it to cloud over and grow as black as peat.