Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume13 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: End of an Unwinnable Battle — A.A.A.
Academy City’s District 23 specialized in the field of aerospace development and it was covered by flat expanses of gray asphalt. Needless to say, that was to secure as much space as possible for launch sites and runways. The entirely clear blue sky overhead looked like an infinitely open space, but it was scheduled out down to the minute and even second so that countless aircraft of every size could constantly move through it like threads being knit into cloth. Without the digital control guidance, collisions would have occurred constantly.
Also, security drones patrolled the area to eliminate the risk of naturally-occurring bird strikes, plastic bags blown into the air by the wind, or even intentional trouble.
Normally, the boy stepping down from the acrobike would have been detected before the seconds hand made a full circuit of the clock.
That did not happen because of the electrical support of Academy City’s #3.
But in that case…
Why was that old man there?
His arms and legs looked like dried branches that had long since forgotten the concept of moisture. His splendidly decorated purple and gold robe stood in stark contrast to his thoroughly worn away body. He also used a pure gold sword instead of a staff.
“So you were waiting for me? Perhaps you were thinking you could turn everything around by fighting in an open space with no risk of damaging your surroundings. …But surely that wasn’t all you were thinking.”
He did not rush things or act impatiently.
That Magic God walked toward Kamijou Touma at a leisurely pace.
He did not seem to mind that Kamijou was the only one here. He said nothing about Misaka Mikoto’s absence.
He showed no concern over a possible cheap trick or trap.
A Magic God was not so small an existence.
“I will ask you however many times it takes, Kamijou Touma.”
After reaching a certain distance, the High Priest stopped and faced the pointy-haired boy.
“Those of us from the true Gremlin wish to have you grade our power which inadvertently distorts destiny. You would create the seventh path that does not fit in the other six, you would become the sheath to contain the secret sword of our great power, you would remove the hangnail on our hearts, and you would give us formless peace of mind. And in exchange, you would take the position of the scorer who rules the world’s destiny. How about it?”
Kamijou had only a single word to say.
This had not changed from beginning to end.
The High Priest leaned on his sword with one hand and used the other to scratch at the dried side of his tilted head.
Like a child, he seemed truly puzzled how Kamijou had reached that conclusion.
“It is only a matter of sooner or later. You will eventually accept, so the question is how far the damage will spread before you do. I believe I have already told you this many times.”
Something was coming.
He would make his case with violence.
“What are you planning now, High Priest!?”
Sensing that, Kamijou put up his defenses, but to someone as powerful as the High Priest, he only looked like a small creature tensing up to weather a storm.
“Is this maybe what you were thinking?” asked the old man. “Your choices always lie in front of you and the infinite possibilities of the future are determined by the choices you will make. Those possibilities include tragedy and comedy, fortune and misfortune, peace and war, and everything else, so you can walk down a path where everyone survives as long as you make the right choices.”
The thick asphalt of the runway split apart.
A giant arm rose on either side of the High Priest like towers. As the mud arms wriggled like living creatures, the mummy gave his disinterested conclusion.
“If so, you were too naïve.”
It arrived so suddenly.
“Have you forgotten? I have a deep connection with dirt and I have controlled mud to produce a variety of phenomena. But the finite is still finite and I have not altered the conservation of mass. …What do you think happens underground when this much of the dirt is pulled out?”
It happened immediately afterwards.
A massive cumulonimbus cloud rose from far beyond the horizon. No, it was gray dust. A mountain of dust like that was created when a building was demolished. Since the earth was round, the cityscape may have normally been hidden by the horizon, but this great cloud of dust was large enough and high enough to overturn that.
This had to go beyond a single building.
The dust was coming from more than one point. Buildings were probably crumbling and collapsing one after another. The amount of dust was growing like the movements of a living creature, like a slithering snake, or like the surface representation of a mole moving through the dirt.
It followed the course the High Priest had taken in pursuit of Kamijou and Mikoto.
Something had triggered a collapse in the areas from which the mummy had chaotically pulled the dirt.
The city was being destroyed.
“Didn’t I tell you? It is only an issue of sooner or later.”
The High Priest really did sound exasperated.
“You simply did not notice, so you needlessly spread the damage. Now, how many people do you think will be buried in the rubble?”
The destruction swallowing up the earth was approaching.
It was like a bizarre fuse.
“You were seriously mistaken if you thought you had any say in how much damage was done.”
The mummy mocked the boy’s ignorance.
“Just to be clear, I was the one that destroyed all of this.”
Then the fuse of destruction reached the High Priest’s feet.
The result was clear as day.
“And you were far too shallow if you assumed I would not allow myself to be caught in it all. Well, perhaps that is just the carefree way the Japanese think.”
The sturdy asphalt crumbled all at once.
A square area twenty meters across collapsed and the sense of gravity vanished. The puny boy could only clench his right fist as he was easily swallowed up.
Widespread destruction filled Academy City from District 7, through District 5 and 18, and finally to District 23.
Kamijou Touma stood at the final point and he too fell deep underground as the ground collapsed underneath him.
But the space did not look like it had been created just from the ground splitting open.
An underground facility had existed there in the first place. It was twenty meters across and more than three hundred meters deep. At that size, its height alone made it a deadly weapon.
In fact, when the High Priest fell to the bottom of the cylindrical space, dry sounds came from across his body. It sounded more like the breaking of dry branches than of a human body. His purple robe spread out like a beached jellyfish, but it wrapped around his human form once more as if nothing had happened.
As for Kamijou Touma…
The High Priest laughed.
Countless thick power cables were wrapped around the pointy-haired boy’s arms, legs, and torso. They had distributed his weight and prevented him from dying in the fall.
Of course, the mummy did not think for a second that was a coincidence.
He knew Kamijou Touma.
He doubted someone fundamentally abandoned by luck would experience such great fortune now of all times. Also, the boy himself would never work from a plan that relied on coincidences or miracles. He would have been acting based on the assumption that nothing like that would happen.
“That did not happen naturally. I don’t see that girl who was with you… Did you get her help? In that case, were you planning to fall down here from the beginning?”
What did that matter?
What would it accomplish?
With a dull sound, dirt overflowed from the bottom of the manmade space and it swallowed up the wreckage around the High Priest like a living creature. It was primarily made of dirt, but countless manmade materials jutted out, twisted around, and formed a giant arm.
It was as menacing as being stared down by a plesiosaur.
“If you have a trick up your sleeve, then reveal it. If you have a trap, then use it. …But I will crush it all underfoot and continue forward. It is only an issue of sooner or later. Hurry up and feel despair, okay?”
In response, Kamijou removed the countless cables from himself and set his feet down on the metal floor.
“There wasn’t any damage.”
With the liquid diamond’s storage tube in her sports bag, Akikawa Mie finally reached the headquarters of the precious metals maker at which her mother worked.
But that was not the end of it all.
Mie was confused. Had her mother been so worried she came out to meet her? But that did not make sense. She had not called ahead, so her mother would not have known exactly when she would arrive.
Then why else would she have come out?
Mie looked around and saw lots of other workers rushing from the other buildings in the area.
“Conservation of mass? I knew that. You left a big empty spot underground when you made the giant arms? I knew that. You were setting up a cruel bomb to make me suffer? I knew that. So! I was worried about it from the beginning!!”
As he spoke, Kamijou pulled out a cellphone.
It was a far too common and powerless modern weapon when compared to an abnormal Magic God.
“There’s a danger of the buildings collapsing!! Please move as far toward the park as possible to escape the collapse and the shower of broken glass!! …Uiharu! Double check the population distribution. Arrange the routes so there won’t be any bottlenecks at bridges and intersections!”
“I already am! Let’s see, let’s see. Manually reselecting the traffic control centers and traffic light routines. This should optimize the flow of people!”
A twintailed girl was shouting something. She seemed to be from Judgment rather than Anti-Skill.
Akikawa Mie’s mother wrapped her arms around her.
“It’s okay, Mie-chan. It’s going to be okay.”
She trailed off as an intense tremor ran through the ground.
“Who did you contact? Who would believe you if you mentioned a Magic God? And what acquaintance of yours could get so many people to move?”
“It may be true no one in my class would be able to do that.”
Kamijou readily admitted it.
The asphalt ground swelled up in a straight line. It looked like a giant snake or worm measuring dozens or even hundreds of meters long was crawling underneath. It may have been best to leave the realm of real animals and call it a dragon.
Buildings creaked and swayed ominously.
They were as unreliable as willow branches in the wind and it seemed they would break and collapse at any moment.
Misaka Worst in her ao dai and Kuroyoru Umidori spoke to each other inside the underground disaster prevention structure.
“This isn’t good. Are these dampers really working properly? Misaka gets the feeling they can’t absorb all this shaking. Now, let’s see. Can Misaka slip in some assistance here?”
“Oh? I never thought I’d see a collection of malice helping people.”
“Misaka recently realized that there’s nothing more expensive than what’s given for free! There are luxury boutiques and jewelry shops around here, right? If Misaka gets them indebted to her, she can make all sorts of useful connections! How strange! This is the first time Misaka has gone shopping in a long time and a chance to make a whole bunch of money lands right in her lap!!”
“You really are rotten to the core! And in a completely different way from those of us implanted with the Dark May Project!!”
“But that high-class #3 is a different story. She apparently has connections in Judgment, so she can get the city moving pretty easily. Connections sure are amazing. Getting the word out quickly can be a weapon. I’d never be able to do that so easily.”
But it did not happen.
The city did not collapse.
Akikawa Mie hesitantly looked straight up, but the building still did not fall. Not even a single window broke. Something awful was happening underground, but the damage had not reached the surface.
“See? I told you.”
She realized her mother was winking.
“I told you everything would be okay. That man is protecting the city, so it’s sure to be okay.”
Kamijou explained a tiny flow. He explained a certain rule.
“You thought Academy City’s law enforcement wouldn’t understand the threat of an occult Magic God, didn’t you? But that’s easy to get around. Academy City is still on edge after the incident with Othinus that spread from Tokyo Bay to Denmark.”
Only a few meters below, a middle-aged man with glasses and a comb-over removed his suit jacket, threw it aside, and gave instructions over his cellphone.
“Pour in all of the liquid material sitting in the warehouse!! The damage has spread farther than we could have imagined! It looks like someone built a network of tunnels while ignoring every last safety regulation! If the foundation is pulled out, the city above will collapse!!”
The person on the other end of the phone was confused by these instructions that ignored the proper procedures, but the man placed his middle finger on the bridge of his glasses. The person on the phone could not see it, but it may have been a sort of ritual.
“Shut up and just do as you’re told, you utter buffoon!! Once this is all over and everyone’s safe and sound, you can banish me over by the window or onto a remote island if you want!!”
An Anti-Skill woman came over to check on things.
“Sorry about asking a civilian for help. So does it look like you can pull this off?”
That father’s answer was simple.
“I think I can. No, I will. That is my job, after all.”
His daughter had once wondered why he had bowed when there was no reason to apologize. She had seen the shine leaving his face and she had even wondered why her mother had married him. She had wanted to know how her father had ended up like that.
There was of course only one answer.
He had found something more important than his own interests or allowing himself to shine.
And he would bet everything he could to protect it.
“They may not have been consciously aware of it, but there was still a scab there. The issues had been resolved and everyone was being swept into the Christmas spirit, but then St. Germain showed up. He tore off that scab when everyone was the most sensitive. That’s bound to leave everyone in a frenzy.”
They were saved.
Akikawa Mie’s goal had not collapsed. The large building had not fallen over. If she could take the liquid diamond inside, no robbers could get their hands on it so easily.
But just as she was thinking that, someone else began to move.
“The anti-crime orientation is normally meant to help people feel more safe by buying up disaster goods they don’t know if they’ll ever use, but it was probably also a way for us to let off some steam. And then you caused this giant commotion. For better or for worse, people are going to react. That’s going to cause a mess that the ‘main players’ like us can never predict.”
In the large crowd, Akikawa Mie was not immediately able to tell who had spoken.
But once she did, her mind focused in on him like a piece of trick art.
A battered college boy was mixed in with the office workers in suits. She had only ever seen one in movies or dramas, but he aimed a handgun at her.
Her mother had not noticed yet.
She frantically pushed her mother out of the way, but that was the most she could manage.
“I don’t need to explain the details. I just have to know that everyone is on the move right now! The people here aren’t good or bad, they’re just people who have desperately thought this through!! And that will create a path!!”
The High Priest had mocked both Othinus the defector and St. Germain the liar as being below him, but their actions had helped scoop the High Priest’s feet out from under him. That was how Kamijou and Mikoto had set this up.
“Hand it over! Hand over that liquid diamoooooooonnnnddddd!!”
He shouted and placed his finger on the trigger without warning.
He seemed to think it made no difference whether he killed her and then took it or took it and then killed her.
Akikawa Mie squeezed her eyes shut, but the gunshot never came.
Instead, she heard a heavy metallic sound.
At some point, another college boy had circled behind him and swung down a metal pipe.
“So Judgment will be on the move right about now. Once word reaches the adults, Anti-Skill will join them. Everyone will have been evacuated from the buildings in the danger zones. No, all of those people are fighting to reach tomorrow. They really are! No matter how many buildings you bring down, you won’t take any lives! People’s lives aren’t that fragile!! They may look twisted and they may be divided between good and evil, but everyone’s working to be what they consider the best!! Even if some of them come into conflict, they’ll still decide on the general direction of the era even if they have to do it without us!!”
At first, the attack from behind did not stop the college student with the gun.
He tried to turn around with rage coloring his face.
It was another hand reaching in from the side that truly settled things.
This new figure wore an Anti-Skill combat uniform.
And there was one more.
The two adults both grabbed the thug’s collar.
“…do you think that is!?”
“…do you think that is!?”
Their fists flew at once and two dull sounds exploded out.
As Shiosai handcuffed the one, the other college student threw aside his metal pipe. He did not run or hide; he raised his hands and faced the Anti-Skill man who did not know the details yet.
The father with glasses and a comb-over raised his middle finger toward the collapsed thug. Finally able to relax, Akikawa Mie hugged him and let him support her, but she still had a question in one corner of her mind.
“Why?” she asked the final individual.
She knew it was a silly question.
That final remaining college student, Higata, gave a smiling expression of some hard-to-grasp emotion.
“This is for the best,” he said. “If he would have become a murderer otherwise, then this is for the best. We’re friends after all.”
No one noticed, but two people sighed from surprisingly close by.
They were Hanzou and Kuruwa. They had happened to be nearby and they returned their hidden weapons to their sleeves while slipping back into the crowd.
“We had our job taken from us.”
“It’s best if we don’t have anything to do.”
The one boy did not know every piece of the tragedy.
Nor was it all resolved by the strength of a single individual.
People wishing to take on that role could be found anywhere.
“That speeds things up.”
The mummy High Priest’s murderous aura grew.
The old man smiled while overflowing with a sticky joy.
“Let us continue our one-sided game. This is only an issue of sooner or later, so-…”
“Sorry, but that’s over, too.”
Kamijou readily cut him off.
How many people had ever been able to speak so confidently to one known as a Magic God?
“You’ve done too much, so I’m going to tell you something no one’s been able to before. It’s time you got what’s coming to you, High Priest!!”
The giant arm seemed to block out the sun from high in the sky and it clenched into a far-too powerful fist.
The High Priest looked up in confusion and observed the fist he himself had made.
Kamijou knew why.
A deafening sound had come from it, but that far exceeded what the High Priest had been expecting.
“You make your arms from dirt and mud, but that excludes anything processed, be it by heat treatment or a chemical reaction. After all, you grabbed the buildings to swing them around. If you could directly control what had been transformed into glass and concrete, the high-rise buildings could have bent and attacked us like something from a cartoon.”
Kamijou paused for a second.
“But you can’t tell if something else has been mixed into your arms. Misaka proved that by mixing the iron sand in to take control.”
“But this is different. This isn’t like the iron sand.”
“Yes, because trying the exact same thing again would have been too risky. We went for something a little trickier here. Then again, all we did was leave a bunch of compressed gas cylinders lying around where you were likely to create your arm. And thanks to District 23’s focus on aerospace, you can find plenty of liquid oxygen and hydrogen.”
And of course, Kamijou was not trying to detonate the gas cylinders to trap the High Priest in the explosion.
He did not think a gas explosion was enough to defeat this opponent.
The explosion was only the trigger leading to a different phenomenon.
So what was the gas explosion used for?
“Did you know this? The earth’s mantle ranges from 500 to 4000 degrees and the core can reach 6000 degrees. No one ever set them on fire. They just reached those amazing temperatures when the matter was squeezed down by the immense pressure.”
“You don’t mean…”
“Of course, this is all based on what a smart girl told me. …So what if highly-pressurized cylinders are arranged according to a certain pattern to create that core of explosive pressure? What if that great pressure is even partially recreated by artificial means? What do you think would happen to that giant dirt arm you love so much!?”
“Kah kah!! You can’t possibly mean what I think you do!!”
It happened as the High Priest looked up at it.
Just as it seemed the giant fist was collapsing from within, a glowing orange waterfall rushed down toward the mummy.
In truth, even if their calculations had reproduced the intense pressure, only a single point would have reached a high enough temperature to become magma, but that magma melted the dirt and mud around it, creating even more magma. That massive deadly weapon could be seen forming and then dripping down.
The High Priest could control dirt and mud, but not if it had undergone heat treatment or a chemical reaction like glass or concrete.
And that meant there was nothing he could do once the giant arm turned to magma.
In the instant it hit, Kamijou Touma leaped backwards with all his strength, got down on the ground, and placed a hand over his mouth.
The tower-sized arm crumbled from the intense heat and rushed toward the High Priest who stood directly below. The glow of the molten rock quickly enveloped the mummy’s dried branch-like body and erased all sign of him. That syrupy mineral of death spread out from its landing point.
It had worked.
Everything had gone according to plan.
They had made no mistakes and the result they had imagined was right in front of him.
“Did…we do it?” he muttered without thinking.
The pile of melted magma looked like ice cream dropped on the scorching asphalt on a midsummer day, so it could not exactly answer him.
The boy looked around and then looked straight up.
“Did you do it? Do what exactly?”
His hope, relief, optimism, pride, and everything else froze over.
Kamijou’s head turned stiffly like an automaton someone had forgotten to oil. He looked back toward the pile of molten rock where everything should have been over. He even asked himself what there was left to check there.
Then he saw what awaited him there.
“Kamijou Touma, I believe I already told you this is only an issue of sooner or later.”
It was despair.
The glowing orange pile of magma split apart and the mummy slowly appeared. His purple robe and golden sword had burned or melted away and his entire body glowed ominously after being covered by magma that easily exceeded one thousand degrees. It looked less like a human body and more like an alien that had stepped out of a strange UFO.
Kamijou found it very difficult to accept this had once been a human like him.
Given the temperature of the High Priest’s body, he could kill someone just by hugging them.
No, anyone who breathed in near him would fry their lungs.
Kamijou was dumbfounded, but the glowing pile of branches tilted his head in confusion.
Why was his opponent always so surprised?
He truly did not seem to understand.
“Now, what did you imagine a Magic God was? I am a mummy and all of my body’s muscles, fat, and organs have withered away! Did you really think any kind of external wound or asphyxiation could take my life!?”
“I was prepared to throw away even my own life and soul to accomplish my goal. How could I be a Magic God without that level of resolve? You would probably be in for quite a shock if you looked into the origins of Othinus who you keep by your side.”
The orange High Priest laughed.
His mouth split open and he spewed toxic-looking black smoke.
(This is what Nephthys was talking about.)
Kamijou gulped and felt unpleasant sweat covering his body.
(The High Priest’s power doesn’t stop at destruction. She said he has free control of ‘the intersection of the Six Paths’.)
Humans, animals, and devas. It sounded like something from an old story. When people died, they were reborn and might live the next life as some other life form. Kamijou did not know how exactly that explained the current situation. In fact, while the mental strength of mankind was one thing, could anyone – even the occult specialists known as magicians – explain what the soul was? A lot of the magicians he had seen were angrily swearing revenge for someone who had died. Didn’t that meant the magicians had not conquered death and could not sufficiently define or handle the soul?
But what if the High Priest truly was wielding the Six Paths?
The soul was something no one had seen before, but what if he could change its value and rank by switching between the different rails?
(Is it a spell to change something’s precedence like with Terra of the Left? Was it not superhuman strength that let him destroy or swing around those buildings? Did he weaken what was to be destroyed or used?)
Kamijou felt like he was a step away, but he could not quite grasp it.
For one thing, would a Magic God like the High Priest really use the same sort of power as Terra who had remained in the category of human?
But that thought process was the same as giving up on thinking.
It was easy to conclude that a human mind could not understand a Magic God, but that would mean Kamijou had no chance of winning. He would essentially be moving the chess pieces without giving it any thought.
He understood that.
He understood it painfully well, but he still just about threw it all aside.
That was how overwhelming his despair was.
“If you accept defeat after merely being killed, you will never leave the category of magician. Those are the rules of the lower world and they do not apply to Magic Gods like us.”
It was on an entirely different level.
It was just too different.
It felt like running the 100-meter dash at full speed and gasping for breath while crossing the goal only to find that a 42.195 kilometer full marathon awaited you.
Where was the goal?
How far did he have to go to end this battle?
The High Priest tried to rest on his staff, realized there was nothing there, and idly remembered that the golden sword had melted from the heat.
“Do you mind if I ask one – just one – pointless question?”
“What…might that be?”
“There is no need to be so defensive. It is a simple matter.”
The orange and boiling High Priest patted his own shoulders and continued speaking as if nothing had happened.
He said just one thing.
“It feels like everything you are doing here is so uninteresting.”
He sounded bored.
Or perhaps disappointed was the better description.
“It isn’t like you. It isn’t like you at all. Kamijou Touma, did all of this logical fighting come from that girl’s knowledge? Are you being dragged along by her way of thinking? If so, I can understand why this has been so uninteresting.”
“Ho ho. I thought so!! For one, why didn’t you use Imagine Breaker right away? Normally, when faced with an impossible phenomenon that ignore the laws of physics, the sensible thing to do would be to at least try using your right hand’s power!! Even if that merely proved it did not work, knowing you couldn’t use it would still be a step forward!!”
Kamijou did not know what the High Priest was getting at, but the mummy continued on regardless.
“You ran away as soon as you saw me? Boring. You fled all throughout Academy City? Oh, how boring. Just when it seems I’ve caught up, you use compressed gas cylinders to create magma? Oh! How! Boring!! All of this has been a complete waste of time!! Think how I have to feel going along with it all! I’ve been waiting this whole time for you to use Imagine Breaker against me just once!! To be honest, the one thing that was most like you was the courageous dive from the rooftop at the very beginning! Everything has been so boring ever since that girl showed up!! You’ve shrunk down and curled up! You’ve only been using petty tricks to reduce the amount of damage!!!!!”
“What…are you saying?”
That was all he could say back.
He did not know what the mummy meant.
“There’s never anything ‘interesting’ about fighting. Don’t decide on your own what’s ‘like me’ or not!! If I can keep things peaceful, that’s obviously for the best! If I can keep anything from happening, what could be better!? Why do I have to purposefully turn in the direction I know to be more dangerous!?”
“Is that only because you feel that girl is still nearby?”
It did not get through to the High Priest.
No normal reasoning would reach him.
“Kamijou Touma, you are neither omniscient nor omnipotent. All you have is great talent in one extremely specialized area, yet you have risen to a place so very close to guiding the world. Everyone knows what the right thing to do is, but that does not mean they have the courage to act on it. It is the decisiveness to grasp that opportunity despite the great risk that has brought you so high.”
Someone else was explaining a side of himself he was unaware of.
The situation was almost laughable.
“And yet you have grown so focused on protecting something, that you are abandoning that talent of yours. You’ve grown weak, pathetic, exhausted, and a shadow of your former self. Did you mistake that for growth? What has happened to you would better be described as growing decrepit.”
The High Priest paused for a moment in preparation for his decisive statement.
“You are letting that boring girl drag you around and it is just sad. You are not so small a ‘human’ that you should be contained here.”
Kamijou Touma was not the only one listening to the High Priest.
Misaka Mikoto was as well.
A narrow catwalk was positioned by the wall about twenty meters up in the giant cylindrical space. Tokiwadai Middle School’s Ace hid herself with a hand on the wall that said “Watch out for secondary electromagnetic waves while using precision medical equipment.” Her face twisted like she had been stabbed.
If she had been unwisely standing next to that boy, she would likely have worked to control her expression.
But that proved impossible when she was on her own.
After all, the words of that bizarre mummy seemed to tear into her heart.
“If that girl is keeping you from using your right hand, that is a distinct negative.”
There was no ill will there.
It was no different from seeing a plastic bag on the side of the road and wanting to remove it.
“If that girl is keeping you from saying you will destroy my illusions, then she is already tripping you up.”
That was exactly why it stabbed into her.
She had held pride in her position as Tokiwadai Middle School’s Ace, but that meant nothing against this opponent. That was why the sound waves he had not meant to reach her tore into her heart all the more.
“I simply cannot understand it myself, but is it that hard to push someone aside? I would think it is plain as day that girl is nothing but a burden to you. I can’t think of any reason to have kept her with you all this time.”
The title of Academy City’s #3 was meaningless now.
She had no idea how much the category of Level 5 meant in the wider world outside of this city.
“I can understand fleeing the school with her and I can understand keeping her with you until I lost sight of you. But why after that? If you had thrown her out and had her slip into the crowds, you would have been freed from that annoyance, so why did you keep her with you?”
A certain doubt had occurred to her quite a while ago.
Was that boy walking through some distant world? He was not special himself, but was the world surrounding him on a stage or two above her, was he surrounded by people who knew him better than her, and had she fallen behind to the point that she could only see an afterimage of him?
“Take that grimoire library for example. The knowledge of those 103,000 grimoires might have been helpful. And Othinus might have been able to give you some accurate advice from the viewpoint of a Magic God. Then you would have been able to clench your right fist and challenge me to a battle focused on Imagine Breaker. That would be the proper way of doing this, but it all fell apart thanks to that girl. What do you think about this situation?”
She had stretched out her hand, but she had not reached him.
She had thought she only needed to reach out a little more, but that was because she had not wanted to admit she had fallen so far behind.
Wasn’t that all it was?
The girl thought.
Had she really been of any help to that boy?
Had she really done anything that only she could have done?
“Say it now. Tell her to get behind you. Tell her to curl up in the corner and stay put because she is getting in your way.”
That attack made her gasp and her mind nearly went dark.
But she still could not find any way of denying it.
After all, even she could tell.
Kamijou Touma’s actions this entire time had not been like him.
Immediately running from a powerful enemy? Not like him. Facing an opponent with clearly superhuman abilities yet not using the mysterious power that had defeated Academy City’s #1 Level 5? Not like him. Making his final trump card to defeat that powerful enemy a strategy anyone could trigger that was based on normal physics that a girl had told him about? Not like him.
Not like him, not like him, not like him.
He would always act recklessly, ignore efficiency and logic, and simply reach out to grab victory. Watching him had always been so thrilling, but nothing here seemed like it came from that same boy.
In that case, what was forcing him in this other direction?
What was making him suppress himself?
When he had made jokes as the High Priest pursued them and when he had seemed entranced by Nephthys and Niang-Niang on the work ship, she had thought he lacked any tension.
But what if those things had meaning, too?
She could not say this applied to it all, but what if a portion of it had been an act on his part?
What if he had done it to ensure the fear and pressure did not crush Misaka Mikoto’s heart?
And what if that had placed an even larger burden on that boy himself?
The flow of events from Tokyo Bay to Denmark had seemed a mystery to her, but what if that was the same?
It had not been about Kamijou. It had been about Othinus.
He had simply gone along with her, just like with Mikoto now.
He had been determined to protect the girl standing alongside him.
That was beautiful.
But at the same time, it presented Mikoto with an awfully cruel answer.
She felt like all strength was leaving her body.
Her life was being directly threatened here, but she nearly forgot even that.
(I’m only…to him.)
She gritted her teeth.
Her mind tried to seal that word away to make this even a little easier for her, but she forced it to the surface.
(I’m only a burden to him!!)
This situation strained her very identity.
Still, she had to accept it.
What if she had not been here?
Or what if someone else had been here instead?
The boy named Kamijou Touma probably would have walked an entirely different path. He could have relaxed, let them support him, spread his wings wide, used his strong points to their fullest, and clashed with the High Priest head-on.
That might have been an incredibly dangerous path, but it might also have had the highest odds of victory.
But that path had been sealed.
Thanks to Misaka Mikoto’s presence, the boy who had stopped World War Three and the international terrorist group(?) named Gremlin had been dragged down to a position anyone could fill.
She had accomplished nothing.
It had seemed that boy had moved far ahead of her and that she had not wanted to accept she had fallen behind, but her desperate attempts to catch up had only hindered him and held him back.
Everything she had done had backfired.
She had only been a nuisance.
Misaka Mikoto could only hang her head.
But then she heard that boy’s voice.
“Are you joking, High Priest? You’re a complete stranger, so quit acting like you know who I am!!”
The basis of it all crumbled away after that one strike.
That was what his words had done.
“I could have chosen a different path if I was with Index? I could have taken the best possible path if I was with Othinus? That’s not what this is about.”
How much courage had it taken to speak those words?
That abnormal monster stood there nonchalantly even while surrounded by magma easily exceeding one thousand degrees. It was impossible to tell whether that mummy was alive or not. How could they defeat him and end this? Was it even possible to end it? Not even that was clear with him, so how difficult had it been to speak those simple words?
But that boy had done it.
He spoke like it was normal.
“It was because Misaka was with me that I made it this far. She kept my trembling legs moving, supported my heart as the pressure bore down on it, and kept me in a position to make jokes. With Index, things may have been too focused on magic. With Othinus, it would have been exclusively about Magic Gods and having a clear understanding of their strength might have crushed me with despair. It was because it was Misaka. I survived this long because she was the one by my side. She saved my life and you want me to tell her to back off because she’s in the way? Who the hell do you think you are!? You don’t understand the first thing about the human emotion of this human world, but you’re trying to act like some all-knowing god!!!!!!”
“Heh heh. Argue from a position of emotion or willpower all you want. It does not change the fact that she was, in fact, a burden. What does that girl understand of magic? Not to mention of the territory known as a Magic God. What use is someone who has fallen so hopelessly behind? Enough pretending, Kamijou Touma. You were honestly growing sick of having to lower the conversation to her level, weren’t you?”
“You’re thinking about this entirely wrong.”
Kamijou Touma did not hold back even when his opponent was truly on an entirely different level.
“It isn’t a question of being useful or not!”
Misaka Mikoto realized a dizzying truth.
It was not that he was on a different level.
At this very moment, Kamijou Touma was rising to another stage and leaving her behind in a way other than the one the High Priest had mentioned.
“Hey, High Priest. I’m not enough of a crazed hero to throw my life away if I’m not supporting something in need of protection! You senile old man!!”
Part of that saved her.
But another part of it she could not accept.
“Take it back.”
Kamijou Touma was admitting that Misaka Mikoto had fallen behind. He was admitting that, yet announcing he would still patiently stick with her. Ultimately, she could not stand on the same stage as him and she had not approached the truth of this “Magic God”. In his mind, she was “something in need of protection”. She was intensely dissatisfied with that.
“So take it back, you piece of shit Magic God!! If you badmouth the person who saved my life any more, I’ll go punch you just like you want!!”
But what did that matter?
Was that any reason to stop?
“I don’t care if you’re covered in magma or if you’re over one thousand degrees! Imagine Breaker? I don’t need that for you and I don’t care if it doesn’t work on you! I don’t care if my fist melts away or if my entire body bursts into flames. Yeah, if you don’t shut that filthy mouth of yours right this instant, I’ll keep punching you until you finally do!!!!!!”
The boy was ignoring their original plan and putting his own life in danger. His every word stabbed into Mikoto’s chest and filled her with countless emotions.
If she had fallen behind, then she had to gather her strength and move forward more than anyone else. The greater her debt, the more she had to build up speed and catch up as soon as possible. Wasn’t that all this was?
“I see,” said the High Priest.
Most importantly, hadn’t she made up her mind from the very beginning?
It went back to Sargasso in Tokyo Bay and the trip to Denmark where he made an enemy of the world.
“Was it emotion that led you to the peace of mind we so yearned for?”
“Grit your teeth, High Priest. This might ruin my right hand and I might really have to get it amputated at the hospital, but I’ll trade that arm for your face!! Prepare yourself because I’m going to keep beating you until you realize the error of your ways!!”
She had decided she would ask Kamijou Touma what had happened to him at that time and that place. She had been prepared to accept it no matter how inconvenient a truth was hidden there.
Hadn’t that been her way of catching back up?
(I’ll do it.)
In that case, this was no time to be sitting around worrying.
(I swear I’ll do it.)
If she had any complaints and if she had things she wanted to correct…
(I’ll catch up to him!!)
She had to start by telling him!!
Even with Imagine Breaker, it seemed unlikely he could negate the Magic God portion of the High Priest. Even after all the contact he had with Othinus, she had never died.
Even if he desperately punched the mass of molten rock, it seemed unlikely that strike would break the High Priest. He only had the physical strength of a high school boy. He doubted it would do any damage to the High Priest who had endured the previous fierce attacks as casually as having a chat over tea.
That was why the resolution relied on something else.
“Why are you letting the blood rush to your head, you idiot!!”
Just as Kamijou Touma clenched his fist as hard as rock and prepared to take the first step toward the orange and burning High Priest, he heard a shout.
“Isn’t there something better you can do than let that magma man set you ablaze!?”
There was something else that felt much closer by than his mysterious right hand.
The look in his eyes changed when he heard the girl.
Meanwhile, the crimson mummy known as the High Priest clearly clicked his tongue.
He seemed to be giving up on something.
He seemed to be saying he would find someone else to be the scorer who influenced the world, created the seventh path, and became the sheath for the Magic Gods’ power.
He did not hesitate to drag his 1000+ degree body toward Kamijou.
But the boy was not bound in place and he was not set alight.
Misaka Mikoto gave a yell from directly above and a cascade of rubble poured down.
The burning mummy was briefly swallowed up by the rubble.
The orange glow vanished.
“We aren’t in this to defeat him. We’re trying to safely reach the end of this day! We decided that before falling down here, remember!?”
When he heard that, Kamijou shifted to a different train of thought.
He shifted from destruction to survival.
He grabbed the handlebars of the acrobike that had fallen with him, he pedaled it from the side without sitting in the saddle, and he let it drag him away.
(That’s right. There’s no real reason I have to settle this. There’s no rule saying magicians or Magic Gods can’t be defeated if I don’t use my right hand to negate their magic.)
Strength filled his thoughts as he just barely managed to avoid being swallowed up.
(You called Misaka’s power worthless, High Priest, so it’s time that very power sent you tumbling down into defeat!!)
This may have been meaningless against an opponent who would not stop if he was only killed. It might only delay the inevitable by a dozen or so seconds and that mummy might crawl out unharmed.
But buying that time was more than enough.
“Misaka, are you ready!?”
“If I wasn’t, I’d be panicking a lot more right now!! So hurry!!”
The two of them clung to the acrobike and sent it flying.
But not toward the pile of rubble burying the High Priest.
They turned their backs and moved in the opposite direction. They made their way to a metal maintenance door so they could escape the large cylindrical space.
What was this space meant for in the first place?”
Resentment filling his voice, the High Priest thrust his dried hand from the top of the rubble.
The rubble around him glowed orange and melted into a syrupy substance as a surprisingly sticky sound signaled his regained freedom. The surrounding oxygen was absorbed and his temporarily extinguished body burst into flames once more.
A Magic God was not going to complain about the pain that would normally have caused.
“Boring, boring, boring, boring!!!!!! At last, at long last, it looked like the winds were changing, but that girl!! Are you going to run away after all this? How many times have I told you it is only a matter of sooner or later? How long are you going to delay the inevitable!? What happened to Imagine Breaker!? What happened to your right hand!? What happened to the One who Purifies Gods and Slays Demooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnsssssssssssssssssssssssssss!?”
Kamijou and Mikoto ignored what he had to say, slipped through the metal door, and vanished.
The High Priest’s skinny body swelled out with immense strength as if to break through that thick door.
But that was when it happened.
Something like static electricity scattered.
A stinging chemical smell reached him.
Anyone with the proper knowledge may have realized it was a catalyst like neon or argon that would produce a plasma flow when immense amounts of electricity were passed through it in an enclosed space.
The walls of the large cylinder began to glow with a bluish-white light. The smaller pieces of rubble began to ignore gravity and float.
That strange power gradually grew stronger and finally even the High Priest’s body was floating.
With the melted rubble, dirt, mud, and metal surrounding his body, he could easily fill the role of a metal shell.
“O-ohhhhh!? C-could this be…!!!???”
Parasatellite 01 was an unmanned astronomical probe developed for the Arrowhead Comet as it made its closest approach to Earth in 1700 years.
It was to be fired from an underground silo-style mass driver in Academy City’s District 23.
It could be fired for only the cost of the electricity needed to power the low-temperature superconductor electrodes and the space-filling plasma flow. It was single-stage, so it did not require any complex trajectory management.
Less than ten minutes after being fired, it would leave the atmosphere and place its payload in the desired orbit.
The immense plasma flow was given directionality and everything inside the cylindrical space was fired.
It all broke through the clouds and scattered out from the center. A single line of light burnt through the heavens as it left the planet.
The explosion blew away their sense of hearing.
The thick metal door was closed, yet the two of them still abandoned the acrobike and threw themselves onto the floor. It was just like a stun grenade. Even if no actual damage was done, the light and sound were intense enough to give the illusion of damage. Also, humans could die from shock just from having soft serve ice cream pressed to their chest while they were blindfolded.
The gyros continued functioning, so the acrobike remained standing all on its own.
“…Ah…!! Khah!! Ahh!!!???”
“Kh…gh… A-are you okay?”
Kamijou’s mouth continued flapping like a goldfish’s, so Mikoto recovered first. That may have been because she was accustomed to using abnormally high voltage currents.
“Wh-where’s the High Priest?”
“We used a real mass driver. He’ll have been launched beyond the moon.”
However, they apparently could not open the door right away and check. They would supposedly lose an arm or a leg if they set foot inside before the excess electricity was removed from the inside of the “barrel”.
The two of them made their way outside.
The acrobike proved useful again. They were at the bottom of a three hundred meter pit, so it was anyone’s guess how long it would have taken them to climb the stairs on foot. The suspension absorbed most of the shock from the steps, so it only felt like a slightly bumpy slope.
“Without you, I never would have imagined I could use a mass driver. Even if the idea came to me, it would have ended as a fantasy I couldn’t hope to pull it off in reality. I wouldn’t have any idea what switches to use or anything like that. The High Priest controls the dirt, so there’s nothing he can do once he’s removed from the planet. …The scope of this whole thing has gotten so crazy.”
If that comment had been ironic or sarcastic, she would have punched him.
If he had laughed and praised her for at least taking part or making an effort, she would have thrown him down the stairs.
“But I didn’t do anything.”
“You’re saying that after everything you did?”
“But I really didn’t.”
Mikoto pouted her lips without thinking and belatedly realized how childish it was.
But she could not stop herself. Not in front of this boy.
“I didn’t do anything. I’m not saying that on the level of using my power to throw rubble around or to hijack the mass driver’s firing sequence. This entire incident was between you and that monster called the High Priest. There was never a place for me here.”
“Are you sure?” His response came immediately. “It honestly doesn’t matter to me who the hero is. As long as everything’s been resolved, I couldn’t ask for anything more. So… So Misaka, this didn’t need a hero. It ended without losing anyone and that’s all that matters.”
“(Sigh. He wouldn’t be so hard to deal with if he wasn’t honestly thanking me from the bottom of his heart.)”
“Hm? Did you say something, Misaka?”
“No, nothing. I’m not so unprincipled that I would use a cobra twist on you when you’re so exhausted, so I’ll have to give you a rain check.”
At any rate, they had somehow dealt with the High Priest. Nephthys and Niang-Niang remained in Academy City and there could be several other Magic Gods hiding around, but this meant a lot. For the moment, they had ended the destruction spreading indiscriminately through the city.
With that in mind, Kamijou breathed a sigh of relief and drove out onto the surface with Mikoto.
They stepped down from the acrobike and placed their feet on the ground without worrying.
But then they noticed something was wrong.
Kamijou was the first to ask about it.
Sure enough, it was still the afternoon, but the sky was as dark as evening. It was dark enough to make reading a book difficult. Also, the previously blue sky was covered in a thick gray fog. Even the sun was blurry and they could look at it without hurting their eyes. There were three rings of light surrounding it.
“A Bishop’s Ring,” muttered Mikoto as she lent him her shoulder. “Ten thousand tons of space dust pours down on the earth every day. It’s proven by the new layer measuring only a few millimeters that accumulates on the relatively unchanging ocean bottom every century. A Bishop’s Ring is a blurry ring of light that appears around the sun when an especially large amount of space dust is present.”
“What? Why would it be appearing now?”
“I don’t know. There’s more than one reason for a Bishop’s Ring to appear. For example, when a large portion of the debris storm circling the earth slams into the atmosphere, during a rocket or shuttle accident, or when a comet approaches and scatters a bunch of space dust-…”
Mikoto trailed off and her body tensed.
“When a comet approaches….”
Kamijou realized a moment later.
“Do you mean the Arrowhead Comet!?”
There was no water or air there.
It was said outer space was filled with as-yet-unseen dark matter or small dust that would eventually form new astronomical bodies, but they were not dense enough to propagate sound or voices.
He had been drenched in scorching molten rock that easily exceeded one thousand degrees, he had been exposed to the extremely high voltages of the plasma flow filling a mass driver, he had experienced the overwhelming air friction from an escape velocity of over Mach 20, and he had left the atmosphere with nothing to protect him.
The mummy’s entire body was wrapped in tremendous heat, but there was no oxygen for that heat to create fire. Melting the ice on the comet’s surface scattered quite a few chemical elements around, but it was still not the same as on the earth’s surface. That was why the High Priest only glowed brightly like a lightbulb’s filament.
And his joking voice overturned those assumptions.
The lack of air kept him from bursting into flames, yet his voice freely propagated through that airless space.
He could control dirt.
The Magic God known as the High Priest sat in Zen meditation atop a one hundred meter mass of frozen rock shaped something like a rugby ball.
A Magic God could handle being thrown into space.
The Arrowhead Comet was mostly made of ice and dust. He had manipulated those particles like iron sand to take control of the comet. He had decided to use anything available to him to return, so he had hitched a ride back to Earth on that star.
Hadn’t Nephthys said that the stars could be plucked from the sky so easily?
(Now, what will you do? What will you do when you see me approaching after you put so much into that attack, Kamijou Touma!? Can I trust that you will raise your naïve ideals against me!!!???)
The Arrowhead Comet left the supercomputer’s predictions and clearly altered its trajectory.
It turned toward Earth.
He gave no thought to a proper approach angle. He did not care if the comet itself burst at extremely high altitude. The mummy himself could force his way through the thick atmosphere with no planning whatsoever.
As soon as he entered the atmosphere and was surrounded by oxygen, his incredible amount of heat would set him on fire. As soon as he crashed into District 23 at top speed, a giant dome shaped explosion would fill the entirety of Academy City. Still, that was just more entertainment.
He intended for this to reach beyond what Kamijou Touma’s Imagine Breaker could handle.
But because of that…
“Ho hohhhhh!! It wells up inside you because it is impossible! It is only worth sending your way because it is an unreasonable demand! Kamijou Touma! Mankind!! This isn’t the extent of your possibilities, is it!? Now show me the hidden power that has allowed you to keep history running until this day!!!!!”
Still in his Zen pose, the High Priest spread his arms as if to welcome the blue planet with his entire body.
This was the exact opposite of comforting or calming.
The heat was so great that the mummy’s body had more melted than burned and it began to fuse with the one hundred meter comet. He controlled all the dust to indirectly command the hunk of ice. He himself became a sinister star.
The intense friction carved away at the comet’s surface.
At some point, it gained a giant face, arms, legs, and a torso, so it almost looked like a mummy.
The sinister glowing spear stabbed straight down toward the blue planet.
“Now come, Imagine Breaker!! No, the One who Purifies Gods and Slays Demons!! Show me your resolve by literally leaving everything up to your right haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnddddddddddddddddddddddd!!”
There was nothing they could do.
They could only watch as the orange light ignored its trajectory and dropped straight down.
Its speed may have been Mach 10, Mach 20, or even Mach 30.
Mikoto could only fire an arcade coin at three times the speed of sound, so this was beyond anything she could handle. She could only wait to be crushed and turned into a portion of a giant crater.
Kamijou had been unsteady on his feet after the previous battle, but she felt him moving slightly while still resting on her shoulder. He silently reached up as if to grab the giant falling comet with his right hand.
She could not tell what meaning there was in that.
The boy himself probably could not explain what was hidden there.
She asked a pure question.
She was answered by an ominous cracking sound. It came from the body of the boy who was right next to her yet seemed impossibly far away.
—It honestly doesn’t matter to me who the hero is.
After everything that had happened, it was only now that Mikoto truly felt fear.
—As long as everything’s been resolved, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
She felt fear rising from the pit of her stomach.
—So… So Misaka, this didn’t need a hero.
All the while, she heard the intermittent sound of cracks running through something.
—It ended without losing anyone and that’s all that matters.
Specifically, it came from the boy’s right arm.
“Sensei,” called a well-mannered voice.
It came from Kihara Yuiitsu, a woman in a cheap suit and a lab coat.
She was constantly mocking the entire world and the entire human race, but she was acting differently just this once. Just like a well-trained maid seeing her master off, she bowed at the proper angle, breathed at the proper times, and spoke in the proper tone.
“Have a good time.”
“I will. Today should be a little rough, so stay here in this sturdy building.”
A synthetic voice answered her.
It came from a golden retriever.
That dog was Kihara Noukan.
“Just to be clear, the situation is at D. That is four from the worst possible level. I assume you have already given thought to the local residents in case this happened.”
“Yes, although I consider it a completely unnecessary concept for Kiharas like us.”
“Yuiitsu-kun, this is not the time to be discussing that definition. I believe that was a personal promise between the two of us.”
“Yes, it was! I scattered a few pieces of bait, but the liquid diamond seems to have been effective. The people involved are not aware, but they were gathered together like iron sand to a magnet. The population distribution and the dispersion patterns for the shockwave and shattering glass are all good to go. Even if you activate Situation D and go all out, the degree of human damage will not exceed what you have calculated. Everything is within acceptable bounds☆”
“Very good. …Otherwise, we would be no different from the animals.”
The dog had no way of forming expressions, but he would have been smiling if he did.
Even without the expression, his scent and aura were enough to charm Kihara Yuiitsu.
“If anyone actually believes the cover story about the vault bending under its own weight because the building was flipped upside-down, they must be quite the pacifist.”
“Between good and bad, that would be a bad sort of stupidity, but between like and dislike, I would say I like it. A heart that can innocently believe others is a beautiful thing. I can sense the breath of romance in it.”
“Oh? So you see that as romance, too?”
He was surrounded by countless rocket boosters and he had a single weapon. It ran through the entire unit from front to back, but it was not the giant gun of a warship. It was overwhelmingly heavy and hard, it achieved blinding speeds using the same electromagnetic acceleration as railguns and mass drivers, and it ultimately produced its destructive power from a massive rotation. It was known as a tactical armor-piercing drill. The giant drill was dozens of meters long and it could break into an underground silo or directly destroy a military base.
“Heh,” laughed the dog. “Men really can’t get enough of drills and pile bunkers. We’re perfectly willing to ignore profit when it comes to them.”
“That sure is amazing. Although to an amateur like me, it only sounds like phallic compensation.”
Oddly enough, the dog cleared his throat.
He seemed to be embarrassed.
“Anti-Art Attachment, set up.”
With those words, the mass of metal came to life.
“Confirm connection to Aleister in District 7’s center.”
Kihara Yuiitsu knew she was in the danger zone, but she did not take even a single step back.
“Light boosters alpha through delta. Omit countdown. Takeoff.”
It weighed more than twenty tons in all, but it seemed to forget all about gravity.
Only a few seconds later, the golden retriever bearing the entire unit became a spear to pierce the heavens.
It truly happened in only an instant.
As the High Priest laughed amid the pressure of the intense wind, he saw a point on the surface flash.
By then, it was already over.
He had become a giant star of doom, but a long drill of tungsten steel pierced through the center of his body.
He was not even allowed to scream, cry out, or cough up blood.
Naturally, this was not contained to mere physical phenomena.
There was a systematic trembling that could be called an extremely high-speed high-frequency vibration. There was a slight unevenness in the drill’s rotation, that pattern conveyed the power of someone’s will, and it took the form of something that destroyed the High Priest’s body from within. He had become one with the comet, but that strange something caused his flesh and bones to tremble and crumble.
Just as a second could be divided by a thousand or ten thousand, that instant seemed to last an eternity.
There was no time for a voice to propagate as a wave, but the golden retriever’s will still reached the mummy.
“This is a message from the ghost named Aleister.”
The weapon, the special steel drill, tore through the High Priest’s giant form and its rotation produced and extremely high-speed and systematic fluctuation. Not only did it bring about the High Priest’s death, but it created waveforms which were converted into words to convey someone’s will directly to the High Priest’s body rather than through the vibrations of his eardrums.
“Do you remember the life that was taken by destiny as if to smash the childish gears of a desire to make the world a better place and to save every last member of the human race? Do you remember my daughter’s name?”
The mummy High Priest received that will and his body was still pierced down the center.
The heated surface of the comet split apart…in the shape of a slight smile.
Oddly, what he remembered was not the daughter’s name, but the “ghost” who had created that situation.
That ghost had been a coldhearted pragmatist and yet went on the passionate rampages of a madman. Even as he cursed the imperfections of mankind, he had married a woman. Even as he rejected human emotion as impure, he had kept a journal. Even as an expert who had mastered magic, he had shown interest in the path of science. And even as he had determined he would need to fill so many boys and girls with chemicals, he had left a transparent tearstain in his journal on the day his own daughter had died. That “human” was the king of man who had rejected becoming a god of magic. He had seen meaning in that and had chosen to remain in the same realm as his family without giving up on anything.
The Magic God tried to speak a single word.
If the speed of sound had been just a little faster, he would have said that word: sorry.
A moment later, there was a flash of light.
Kihara Noukan refused to let the comet fall to the earth.
Acting in his role as messenger, the golden retriever had finished conveying the willpower of the “human” named Aleister.
The Arrowhead Comet had been racing toward the surface at greater than Mach 20, but the golden retriever had risen to meet it at the same speed. What result this had went without saying.
As had been shown at the Tunguska Event in Russia, when an astronomical body of a certain size broke apart in midair, it would cause an explosion large enough to spread a shockwave for dozens if not hundreds of kilometers.
All of the glass in Academy City shattered.
The high-rise buildings with excellent earthquake countermeasures creaked and swayed as they desperately worked to remain standing.
The commotion spread in a chain-reaction, but Kihara Noukan kept a perfectly cool head.
High in the sky, he adjusted the force of his boosters and slowed to a hover.
A skinny arm unrelated to the weaponry extended to place a cigar in his mouth and light it.
After that moment of bliss, a transmission arrived.
The golden retriever exhaled some sweet smoke as he opened his mouth to speak.
“One down. No, with Zombie, I suppose it’s two.”
He found it odd for Aleister the “human” to display such obvious emotion even if it was in response to defeating a Magic God.
But that was not it.
He heard something quite strange next.
“That takes care of Gremlin. You made quick work of them.”
“Wait.” Kihara Noukan double-checked something while grabbing the cigar with the arm. “I only took out the High Priest. I still have at least Nephthys and Niang-Niang to go.”
“What are you talking about?” The emotion had vanished from Aleister’s voice once more. “Then you didn’t do that?”
The golden retriever honestly wondered what that meant.
He looked down on Academy City once more.
What was happening in that city?
Cycle Arts Collection 4
Instead of sitting in the saddle, the performer clings to it from the side. That alone is simple, but there are a number of ways to hold on such as making a handstand on top of the handlebars. For that reason, the difficulty was increased by one point.
Smoothly climbing stairs with the acrobike. At first glance, it looks like simply riding up the stairs while leaving everything to the suspension, but doing that will blow a tire. The performer must raise and lower his or her weight a little to help absorb the impacts.