Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume12 Epilogue
Epilogue: End of the Extremely Passionate Quickening — CRAZY_1st_cry.
Still in his Power Lifter, Hamazura Shiage stood on a narrow catwalk running across the wall of the Dianoid’s lowest level.
He had a simple reason for this.
“Oh, crap. This weird donut is trouble! It’s making all sorts of weird squeaking sounds!! Was it placed under too much stress!?”
But Kinuhata Saiai and Mugino Shizuri were carefree as they looked up at him from the floor with their hands on their hips.
“Washing machines are still doing super fine when they make that noise.”
“This isn’t a washing machine!! It’s a graviton-style artificial gravity control device! If it blows, the entire planet will be crushed to the size of a fist!!”
“Who cares. If it’s a problem, I can just vaporize it with my Meltdowner.”
“Again, it’s not a washing machine!! Not to mention that it supports a seventy story building! If it stops working all of a sudden, the whole building could topple right over!!”
“Then should we get out of here super soon?”
She sounded as super casual as someone suggesting to buy mayonnaise now since the price would increase the following month.
“Eh? Wait. What about me?” asked Hamazura.
“C’mon, Hamazura. That donut on the ceiling is spraying steam everywhere. Can’t you super do something about it?”
“How should I know? Try grabbing the joint on the hose.”
“It’s not a leaky washing machine! There’s no way that’s enough to fix it!!”
Hamazura complained, but he had no other ideas on how to fix it. In the end, he was forced to display his stupidity by trying to hold in the strange steam (if that was even what it was). The Power Lifter’s giant hands proved useful there.
Meanwhile, Mugino and Kinuhata made a quick escape of the lowest level. They started by walking toward the door leading to the stairs.
“This has been an awful day.”
“You don’t believe in the superstition that people have a uniform amount of luck, do you? It all comes down to probability, so we can’t even view this as a sign that some super good luck is coming our way soon.”
Hamazura shouted after the two girls, but they had already vanished.
Left alone, he we forced to babysit the giant donut that could burst at any moment.
But even if god had abandoned Academy City, it seemed some invisible something – be it blood type horoscopes or big data investment theory – was still looking after the place.
After all that extreme misfortune, something arrived to make up for it.
“Why is your face covered in tears and snot?”
A girl in a pink track suit had climbed the ladder to reach the catwalk and she walked up next to his giant Power Lifter.
“The entrances on the surface have been opened and Anti-Skill should be here soon.”
“Yes, it would certainly be a pretty big problem if I couldn’t at least hope for that much!!”
“Hamazura, why do you sound so effeminate?”
Takitsubo gently moved up next to him.
There was no real reason for it.
They were in a position where they could lean up against each other without needing an excuse or purpose behind it.
Or at least, they had been.
A moment later, Hamazura skillfully swung his entire body around to avoid the track suit girl while still holding onto the joint of the hose extending from the donut.
With the expected support gone, Takitsubo Rikou stumbled and her expression grew utterly blank.
She spoke to her boyfriend with a bland voice that was as frightening as grinding gravel.
“No, wait. That wasn’t me. I didn’t do that! What’s even happening here? Oh, wait. Don’t tell me it was Aneri!”
“Wait, Takitsubo. Don’t you think you’re taking it a bit too far to be jealous of an assistance program!? Wait, wait. I’ll explain. I’ll explain it all from the beginning! And Aneri, stop trying to trip Takitsubo!!”
The surface looked like a dam had burst.
The Dianoid’s entrances and exits had opened upon St. Germain’s defeat, so all the boys and girls trapped inside had frantically rushed out.
One small boy was dragged along among them.
It was Aihana Etsu. No, it was Kanou Shinka who had used that name.
He too had been released from St. Germain’s bonds and had returned the aboveground floors. That was where he had been swallowed up by the human waves.
But then a hand grabbed his.
“Are you okay?”
It was Kamijou Touma.
The next thing they knew, they had been tossed out into the night of District 15.
The pointy-haired boy looked over his shoulder and gave the crowds an annoyed look.
“Looks like meeting up with the others is going to be difficult. I should probably wait for things to calm down and then call them.”
“Oh, the gravity bomb? Hamazura and that Stephanie person will take care of that. Everyone was released from the Dianoid and a proper team from Anti-Skill will be here to take over soon. There’s nothing you have to worry about.”
“No, uh, not that.”
“Oh, right. If you’re leaving, I’d suggest doing so now. I’m going to go talk with Anti-Skill to explain the situation, but what about you? Would you rather not speak with them?”
Kamijou waved a hand dismissively as he spoke, but Kanou Shinka shook his head.
“I’ll go too. I caused a lot of trouble for a lot of people, but I didn’t do anything I need to hide.”
“Is that so?” Kamijou’s expression softened a bit. “But I see you’re not speaking as assertively anymore.”
“That was just the blood rushing to my head. Your personality doesn’t change that easily.”
“Yeah, maybe not.”
People grew, but the root of their being might not change quite so easily.
Kanou Shinka would likely remain a crybaby, but he had gained the strength he needed to hold in the unnecessary tears and continue facing forward.
That was the small change he had undergone.
He had grown while retaining the part of him his old friend had liked so much.
It had been a meaningful experience.
“Frenda definitely existed,” sighed Kanou Shinka. “It’s too late now and there’s no way to save her, but I found the truth about her. And I’m satisfied with that.”
Accepting a difficult truth without averting your gaze may have taken a sort of strength. At the very least, he was no longer the boy who had only been able to keep his trembling legs moving by narrowing his field of vision.
It sounded less like he had just realized something and more like he was asking something he had been wondering about.
“Why did you hand it over to me?”
“At the end there. I may have been the one to provide the finishing blow on St. Germain, but…well…it didn’t have to be that way. I’m sure you could have defeated St. Germain on your own. So why didn’t you?”
Kamijou gave a sudden smile as if the question had caught him off guard.
And he went on to give his answer.
“What are you talking about? The hero here was you, Kanou Shinka.”
He did not need a Level 5 power. He did not need the title of Academy City’s #6.
He did not need a boost from the legend of a shield said to belong to the nonexistent Queen Anne.
He was just a boy and that was all the qualifications he needed to save the world.
2.3 million people lived in Academy City and countless joys and sorrows occurred there every day. No one who lived there could claim to live a perfectly happy life.
If one paid just a little attention as they looked around, that would be abundantly clear.
A small form was curled up and shedding tears.
They produced suppressed weeping and sobbing.
It came from the kind of student dorm room found anywhere in the city.
The tears belonged to a middle school girl. Her room’s lights were off, she had a blanket thrown over her head, and she was trembling. The reason for all this was clear.
It was an entirely different story from this one.
Every three days, a secret death game was played.
She had followed the hellish rules given by the Game Master and overcome countless games. Sometimes she had been alone and sometimes she had worked with other players, but there was nothing going on. A lot of her friends had lost during the previous game and the players who lost were disposed of when the next game began.
She had to stop it, but she had no way of doing so.
She could only keep fighting according to the Game Master’s rules and leaving that framework was simply impossible.
Time was running out.
If she let it begin, her friends would lose their lives and, once she was completely isolated, everyone else in the game would work against her and she would lose too.
There was nothing she could do.
Even with her esper power, academic ability, money, family connections, physical strength, qualifications, and everything else that made up her personality, she could not find any way of escaping this situation.
And that was when her doorbell rang late at night.
Her shoulders jumped in surprise, but that was all.
A minute, five minutes, and then ten minutes passed, but nothing else happened.
She slowly turned toward the front door and eventually stood up. Still holding the blanket, she approached the door. She saw no one through the peephole, so she cracked the door open with the chain still in place.
When she found no one, she tilted her head with emotionless eyes.
That was when she noticed something inside the newspaper box attached to the door. It was an A4-size envelope. Fearing it was rigged with a razor blade, she gingerly picked it up and opened it, but it had not been tampered with in any way.
As she glanced through the many pages of difficult documents, she frowned.
It was a collection of personal information.
It also contained a message telling her she could change her identity by cutting and pasting the relevant portions.
When she turned the envelope upside down and shook, a laminated card fell out. Her trembling lips spoke aloud the name she saw there.
“Academy City’s #6? Aihana…Etsu?”
Meanwhile, a delinquent boy gave a report over his cellphone while nimbly slipping through the security sensors and escaping onto the night road.
“Ahh, ahh! I transferred ‘Aihana Etsu’ elsewhere, just like you wanted. Honestly, this is stupid. You have the power of the #6, so surely you could save them directly instead of going to all this trouble. Do you just love looking down on them like this?”
“It’s meaningless unless they solve their problems themselves? That’s what I’m saying is ‘looking down on them’, you elite! Not that I’m one to talk when I’m helping some intellectual with their hobby. This really isn’t a job for Yokosuka the Organ Crusher, you know?”
“Oh, shut up and go straight to hell. I thought if I worked with someone above the #7 I’d be able to find a way to deal with that annoying guts guy, but all I’m doing is physical labor for 700 yen an hour. So what’s next? Lie in wait to help them escape when their amateurish act falls apart? Wait just a damn second. I’m not some kind of hero! To hell with that!! I’ll still do it, though!!”
The delinquent boy gave an especially displeased click of the tongue and ended the call.
He briefly turned back toward the student dorm and spoke.
“Welcome to the underside of the world, ‘Aihana Etsu’ #...oh, I’ve lost count.”
In a park not far from the Dianoid, a mummy-like Magic God used a gold sword as a cane and spoke in a dry, cracking voice.
He was the High Priest.
The branch-like fingers extending from his robe slowly opened and closed.
“I’m glad to see St. Germain was safely defeated. He was much like a virus that always appeared somewhere no matter what kind of phase was added or how golden a world was created. And there was no talking it out with him thanks to that self-made hatred of his. We could have directly interfered, but we are far too powerful for that. It would defeat the purpose if we destroyed the world in the process.”
“Yes, but it’s over now,” whispered a beautiful women with brown skin and silver hair.
She was Nephthys whose body was covered in white bandages.
“The Voodoo Zombie did an excellent job. I’m sure of it now that I’ve walked around the area a bit. The spell has adapted to our bodies, so now we can move through the world without breaking it.”
“Nee hee hee. Splitting up our power like opposing mirrors, huh?”
Niang-Niang laughed like a mischievous child. She wore a short white China dress and had a distinctive charm attached to her forehead which she poked at with her index finger.
“By infinitely dividing our infinite power, we’ve kept ourselves at a level just barely low enough for this world to contain. …But in a way, this is the worst possible transformation, don’t you think? You could just keep killing and killing us without end. Like a matryoshka doll or an onion, you would have to fight a nearly eternal battle to completely kill us.”
“There is no need to hold back. We are already full Magic Gods, so it would be unnatural to find any way for us to lose.”
“High Priest, this is why you can’t reach enlightenment. How long is it going to take you to realize that?”
At any rate, the Magic Gods had a technique of moving through the world, even if it was like treading on thin ice.
And that meant they were about to begin for real.
They were no longer leaving it up to the tendencies of others or allowing something else to bring about the conclusion.
This time, a group of true Magic Gods was on the move.
“I suppose Kamijou Touma comes first,” said the High Priest while gazing upon the starry sky. “Aleister may have laid claim to him and even Othinus has interfered, but it is not a bad idea. We will simply acquire what it is we need for our objective.”
“Old man, jealous men are just the worst, you know? This would be why you didn’t get any followers even after staying true to yourself to the point of mummification.”
Suddenly, static filled the nighttime park.
It came from a large speaker that announced the time during the day and provided disaster information during emergencies.
“Do you really think I will let you do that?” asked a familiar voice.
“Oh, is that you, Aleister? I’m glad to see you’re still alive and kicking. Sorry about the other day. I really shouldn’t have let my anger get the better of me at my age.”
That was all it took for him to kill.
Rather than follow an exaggerated plan or make careful preparations, he acted on the rocky waves of his emotions.
The High Priest’s words hinted at the joy he felt in tormenting the weak. And worst of all, that “unenlightened man” did not see any of the ugliness inside himself. His surface consciousness did not at all think he was rubbing salt in the wound. He truly believed he was showing his appreciation toward the person he confronted.
“Then again, we have managed to find our feet here. We might be causing some trouble in your backyard and it might not even still be a city once we’re done with it, but try to forgive us. After all, we have pretty short fuses.”
“Found your feet? Do you mean that spell that infinitely divides the infinite capacity of a Magic God to trick the world by eternally layering existences that are just barely small enough for the world to contain?”
“Word gets to you quickly. Anyway, this might be an excellent opportunity for you, Aleister. Our power is limited to what can be explained in this world, so this would be the best time to kill us.”
Even that line had the implied caveat of “but it is still essentially impossible”.
For one thing, no one existed who could kill a being that the world could only just barely contain. Whether a Magic God’s power was divided by a billion or a trillion, a mere magician was still not enough to kill them.
The Magic God’s existence was infinitely layered like a matryoshka doll or an onion. A Magic God was impossible to kill in the first place, but one would have to kill them a trillion or a quadrillion times before they would cease to exist.
So effectively, no one could stop the High Priest, Nephthys, or Niang-Niang.
They could run rampant through the world and anyone who opposed them would be crushed underfoot.
The people could only curl up, tremble in fear, and wait for the disaster to pass. And if they happened to be along the Magic Gods’ path, they would be smashed to pieces for being so “unlucky”.
Needless to say, Academy City had already been thrown into that disaster.
“It is true this might be the time to kill you.”
As soon as the High Priest frowned, he felt a strange object pierce through his dried chest.
He was shocked, but he was not the only one affected. Nephthys and Niang-Niang also grimaced with a hand on their chest.
“If you can predict what must be done and what must happen, you can prepare for the next move. To enter this world, the Magic Gods would need to use a common spell on their own bodies. …Did you really think I wouldn’t take advantage of that? It was the perfect chance to overwrite your internal structures with whatever new parameters I wanted.”
The High Priest fell silent for a moment, but…
“No, that would not be possible. All you ever achieved was the failure you call Aiwass. How could you possibly prepare a spell that would affect not just one completed Magic God but affect a group of them in the exact same way? And you would need information on us specifically before putting together the spell.”
“Oh, come on,” said Aleister with no hint of emotion in his voice. “Why do you think I challenged the Magic Gods alone when Othinus was defeated? Wait. Don’t tell me. Surely you didn’t actually think a ‘human’ such as myself could be enraged by a simple stain in a journal.”
“I had to take the necessary parameters by force. That was all. It did get me laughed at by some people I know, though.”
That was why he had not cared that he had lost.
He had only needed steal the Magic Gods’ parameters through direct contact and then make it back alive.
“I buried it inside you,” said Aleister.
That “human’s” cold voice seemed to challenge those gods of magic.
“What did I bury inside you, you ask? Tremble in fear, true Gremlin. There is great meaning in your doubt turning to impatience and then to fear. Listen, I no longer view you as a threat. You may have forgotten after living for so very long, but it is high time you gradually remembered what death feels like.”
“No,” denied the High Priest. “That is still impossible. The very foundation of your assertion is wrong. You claim to have prepared something powerful enough to defeat Magic Gods like us and you claim to have used this opportunity to inject it inside of us, but that would require swapping out Zombie’s spell. Whether you had a spell or not, you would need to defeat Zombie, a Magic God, to replace her spell! That’s no different from locking the key inside the vault. Your initial argument doesn’t hold up!!”
Something heavy could be heard tearing through the wind.
The continuing fluctuation in the noise suggested it as slowly rotating as it flew. The Magic Gods reflexively turned toward the noise and they saw something fall from the distant night sky.
It landed right in the center of their group.
It was a cross forcibly made from intersecting steel beams.
It was wrapped in barbed wire and it resembled the magical rose symbol more than it did the original symbol of a monotheistic religion.
With a deafening roar and a cloud of dirt, the cross stabbed into the ground and it had something attached to it.
A human silhouette was nailed to the cross by countless tungsten steel spikes and it was tightly bound by barbed wire.
“Zom…bie?” muttered the High Priest when he saw the girl whose entire body was covered in stitches.
“I would prefer not to use such inelegant language,” said Aleister.
He was supposed to be cold and unfeeling both above and below the surface, but a note of contempt seeped into his voice.
“But by any chance, were you taking me for a fool?”
Far away, a golden retriever narrowed his eyes slightly.
With its job complete, the sky-piercing electromagnetic ejection catapult folded up.
While a small metal arm allowed him to puff on a cigar, an indulgent memory came to mind.
It was of those original people, those people who were no longer with him.
He had no real grudge against anyone and he held no hostility toward magic.
It simply came down to his way of life.
It came down to how he would use the mind they had left him with.
“Now, then. I suppose I should get started.”
Sweet smoke escaped his canine mouth as he sighed.
The declaration of war was complete.
That meant it was time for war. A true conflict between science and magic was unavoidable.
“I should get started where they left off, even if it means relying on the foreign laws they so abhorred. And I can hold my head high as I do so because that kind of rule-breaking contradiction is what it means to be a Kihara.”
Focus on nothing but being a Kihara.
They had been unable to continue their efforts, but he would make sure what they had done was not wasted.
In St. George’s Cathedral, Archbishop Lola Stuart, a woman whose folded blonde hair was 2.5 times as long as she was tall, spoke with no emotion evident in her voice.
“So he isn’t even trying to hide it anymore. I think he’s mocking me.”
A few pieces were laid out on a board.
They represented Academy City and the Magic Gods who would likely oppose the city now.
The Anglican Church was well known for its battles against magicians, but these would not be easy opponents even for them.
(Normally, I would wait until they had worn each other down and then make my move, but that would be meaningless if I can’t fully control both sides’ actions.)
She tapped her index finger on the board as she thought.
However, she was not worrying over the enemies she had already seen.
The most frightening ones were those whose role had yet to be decided.
Those were the forces that could do anything.
With a quiet clack, she placed a new piece on the edge of the board. All of the other pieces were arranged according to some sort of system. They were dangerous, but she could predict what they would do. This new piece, however, was placed far from all the others and no one could ignore it.
This piece did not belong to Academy City, the Magic Gods, or the Anglican Church.
A certain boy’s name came to mind as Lola toyed with the piece’s head using her finger.
“What ‘this’ does may just determine what happens.”
The next battle was beginning.
A few people claimed to fully understand the situation, but were they truly seeing everything on the board?
Not even that was certain as far-too-many people’s fates were swallowed up by it all.