Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume14 Epilogue
Epilogue: The Time for the Cradle Comes to an End – More_Purely,More_Bloody.
Kamisato Kakeru walked through District 7 at night.
He was speaking with someone over his cellphone.
“Ah ha ha! Single combat with the rumored Imagine Breaker, huh? Bet you had fun for the first time in a while, didn’t you? Your power’s so ridiculous that you rarely get to move on to a second strike.”
“I don’t really like fighting that much…”
“But I’m surprised you got your bodyguards to back off. All of them would be willing to bury a body or two in the mountains for you.”
The girl on the phone was not trying to make it sound creepy.
She sounded like she thought that was perfectly normal. She made it sound as casual as having a childhood friend prepare a lunch for you even though you did not ask.
This was now Kamisato Kakeru’s everyday life.
Something had veered him off course.
He still believed it was his right hand’s fault.
“So who won the fight? Your World Rejecter or his Imagine Breaker? That’s something not even my forensic investigation skills can predict.”
Kamisato breathed a gentle sigh in the darkness.
“Imagine Breaker didn’t amount to much.”
That was a certain resolution.
Those words answered which of those powers had the upper hand.
“Well, that’s pretty much what I expected.” Ellen did not seem surprised. “And that’s what makes it so boring.”
Her lack of surprise did not come from a careful comparison of both sides. It came from her blind belief in Kamisato’s strength. God could not lose, justice could not lose, and a hero could not lose. Her thoughts were based on that sort of assumption.
And that was why she would never have expected what he said next.
“Who would have thought there was something else inside Imagine Breaker?”
Bright headlights shined on Kamisato Kakeru.
In the instant of illumination, blood could be seen soaking his entire body. His coat was torn randomly and one of his arms hung limply at his side. He could no longer hold a hand to the side of his neck. One of his eyes would not open.
“When it was just Imagine Breaker, it was easy. But as soon as I erased it, that shot out.”
“What was that thing? Kamijou Touma isn’t just the owner of Imagine Breaker… Yes…”
“What is that heavy tone for? Eh? You’re joking right? Please wait just a minute!!”
Static filled the phone call.
Kamisato removed it from his ear and folded it in two to close it. He stuck the electronic device in his pocket and faced forward where something waited for him.
It looked like a large dog.
The golden retriever spoke human language.
“Do you understand what it means for me to be here?”
Instead of immediately answering, Kamisato brought a hand to his mouth.
A sticky sound followed.
He stopped what came spewing from his mouth, but something dark red still dripped from his nose.
He forcibly swallowed the rusty-smelling mass in his throat to clear his windpipe.
Finally, he opened his mouth.
“…Kh. Are you this city’s grim reaper?”
The golden retriever neither confirmed nor denied the possibility.
He may not have sensed any romance in the way the boy put it.
“To be honest, a Kihara such as myself has no interest in good or evil. But you have caused too much trouble. You have trespassed on someone’s yard and started eating all of the fruits growing in their garden. Sorry, but between like and dislike, that would fall under dislike.”
Something incredibly large and heavy flew down from the night sky.
It almost looked like a hammer swung by a giant. Also, it did more than spread indiscriminate violence. It followed some set of coldhearted laws like a judge giving an absolute death sentence.
Countless metal containers stabbed into the asphalt one after another. They opened up like dice unfolding into a two-dimensional diagram, revealing a great variety of weaponry. They arranged themselves around the golden retriever and quickly connected to him.
“This was not meant to be used on someone like you.”
A slender arm unrelated to the weaponry placed a cigar in his mouth as he spoke.
“Hey, have you ever heard of the Anti-Art Attachment?”
Kamisato’s answer was simple.
He was already aware.
With no surprise or other emotion in his voice, Kamisato Kakeru gathered new strength in his limp arm and swung his right hand horizontally.
More than half of the weaponry surrounding Kihara Noukan was erased.
“I came to Academy City to eradicate the Magic Gods. But before I could act, Zombie and the High Priest were defeated. I only had to think of it as a method other than my right arm that is capable of accomplishing that. Well, it was actually Ellen, Elza, and the others who did all the thinking, so I can’t act like it was all my doing.”
“Oh? So you arrived at this possibility even if only in theory? You truly have gathered some very unusual people.”
“You spoke of good and evil, like and dislike, didn’t you? From that point of view, I hate people who fall under both evil and dislike. Would that be someone like you perhaps?”
“How much do you know?”
“Not all that much. As you can see, I was beaten by Kamijou Touma. That was when I first realized it.” The bloody boy smiled. “I temporarily looked after Patricia Birdway. If not for my business with Kamijou Touma, I probably would have spent all my time on that. And my World Rejecter seems to work from the outside in. That’s why it managed to eliminate Kamijou Touma’s Imagine Breaker yet still got hit by what lay inside. It doesn’t evenly erase everything at the same time. There’s a slight time lag, unfortunately.”
“Heh. Given how you’re acting, were you not aware what your higher ups were plotting? Well, I doubt it would have fit your tastes. Sample Shoggoth? An Antarctic parasite? Ridiculous.”
World Rejecter would have worked regardless, but Imagine Breaker had negated it too.
That meant it was more than just a creature. It was related to some kind of supernatural power.
“Academy City was backing that trip to Antarctica, wasn’t it? Then maybe I should assume that was meant as a girl trap laid out as a surprise attack against me. Patricia would have seemed perfect for it. Without the desire to save her sister even if it meant abandoning her own life, someone with an incurable illness would dream of some unknown new world. And due to my goddamn tendency to save anything in the shape of a girl, I would naturally take her into the Kamisato Faction, but you had a surprise waiting to burst out like a jack-in-the-box as soon as I used World Rejecter on her. So what was it you put inside her? To make any sense, it would have to be something that Academy City already has some trust in. Yes, for example…maybe it was discolored Dark Matter.”
He clearly spoke the word “so”.
The forcible sound of a dry branch breaking came from the hand on his neck.
“If I had to say whether I was irritated or not, I’d say I’m just a tad pissed. This too might have been drawn to me by this ridiculous right hand, but just this once, I’m starting to not even care.”
Kamijou Touma had given a different answer.
He had said their right hands did not define them and that they were defined by how they used them.
Kamisato Kakeru could not agree.
He can't confidently say in his heart if there was something that could go beyond what had descended onto him one day.
After all, he was just the kind of normal high school boy one could find anywhere.
He was a student who had been that and wished to continue being that.
So he obeyed his normal sensibilities and spat out his next words.
“To hell with you masterminds. I won’t let you rob anyone of anything else.”
That boy was so afraid of his unique right hand that he did not realize this was both a fragment of and the essence of being a hero.
The golden retriever closed his eyes for a moment.
He could tell at a glance if someone was good or evil, liked or disliked.
He did so here.
“Well, shooting the messenger might not be very helpful, but it’s an issue of affiliations. If you don’t like it, complain to your higher ups.”
“The atmosphere around me was oddly noisy and I had trouble relaxing. Between good and evil, it was evil, and between like and dislike, I disliked it. I can see now why none of the Dawn-Colored Sunlight’s magic came into play. The heart of that same Golden-style was interfering. At the very end here, Aleister really is making me clean up after something unbelievable!!”
An incredible exchange of attacks began.
Kihara Noukan fired countless precision guided missiles, laser beams, and plasma cannons.
He used countless varieties of attack, but Kamisato only swung his right arm.
That erased it all.
It of course erased the approaching attacks, but it also destroyed the weaponry surrounding the more distant Kihara Noukan.
Kamisato Kakeru could already see the conclusion.
His cursed right hand did not waver.
“My World Rejecter has the power to exile people to the excess region in the same timeline. It affects anyone whose conflicting desires cause them to cling to the current world while also wishing for a new world. In other words, your efforts here are useless. It doesn’t matter how much power you have or how many strategies you’ve put together.”
“If the one who made that power has a wavering heart that can’t focus on a single path, then my World Rejecter will react to everything related to that individual. It will be exiled and blown away. Give up. You chose to join forces with the wrong person.”
(Did Aleister know this would happen? He set up the rails while accepting his own weaknesses and flaws, all so he could reach the conclusion that benefits him the most. This was quite the detour, but I suppose he’s finally gotten his plan back on track. It was all to create that “opposing axis” and I was only the opening act. I see. So he’s finally recovered.)
More and more containers were launched.
The shapes of the weapons themselves were different and the golden retriever’s rush continued.
But he could not turn the situation around.
In fact, World Rejecter started consuming the containers in the air, before they even stabbed into the ground. Kihara Noukan gradually lost his resources and was finally stripped bare.
“The Anti-Art Attachment is an application of medical technology, not military technology. Perhaps I should call it an external cyborg attachment. And its main function is to create a link to someone else’s body that allows you to remotely draw on their power. …In other words, you are not the one fighting. You are simply carrying something to its destination. You are carrying the willpower of someone who thoroughly hates the Magic Gods.”
Of course, Kihara Noukan was not just borrowing someone else’s power. He was like an elite soldier that infiltrated deep behind enemy lines and risked his life to lock onto to an airstrike target with a laser sight. Also, he was wielding the secret techniques of the mysterious Aleister. A thorough understanding of that city of science was not enough. Without understanding a world that took a step or two outside of that, the violent team-up would never have worked. No one but Kihara Noukan could have hoped to pull it off.
However, that superhuman skill did not help him here.
If the person at the source of the power fit World Rejecter’s conditions, all of the power enveloping Kihara Noukan would be erased.
“Give up. If you run off with your tail between your legs, I’ll spare you just this once.”
The dog was now just a dog.
From a distance, Kamisato slowly raised his right hand toward that loser.
He would bring true defeat to that mere dog.
“But if you have a heart wavering between a desire to cling to life and disgust for this world, then I have a question for you: Do you wish for a new world?”
The golden retriever slowly exhaled.
His weaponry had been stripped from him, but the dog used the one remaining arm to place a cigar in his mouth as he spoke.
“It’s true my weapons might not be of any use. If I think about the path taken by the one who made and uses them, I do have to wonder if he wholeheartedly wishes for an entirely perfect plan. Between good and bad, it’s a foolishly bad, but between like and dislike, I foolishly like it.”
Kihara Noukan then added a “but”.
Aleister had implicitly told him he would lose even with the Anti-Art Attachment. And he had said he wished to see him struggle and break free of those perfect bonds of destiny.
Almost like the singularity inside a certain boy.
So Kihara Noukan cast aside reason. Logic and efficiency did not matter here.
He obeyed only the romance living in his heart.
“If you asked me, and the things that give me form, whether I wanted a new world, the answer would be no. Boy, I have intelligence. I know the original seven who gave it to me. I understand their wills and I have attempted to follow in their footsteps. So my thoughts and my personality would never stray from the path and would never hold conflicting desires when faced with the kind of salvation presented by someone who can only rely on the supernatural. I will live and die in this world. Whatever result that brings, I will face it, I will confirm the answer of the Kiharas that it leads me to, and I will complete the task the original seven began.”
Kamisato Kakeru smiled a little.
He smiled, clenched and opened his right hand, and then accepted it.
“Those around you are one thing, but you yourself are strong. That at least seems to be true.”
“Let’s do this. Until the final moment arrives.”
A moment later, the true conclusion was reached.
It felt like something heavy was spinning around and around in her mind.
Even as a Kihara, her mind had gone entirely blank and she could not think.
She had stopped breathing.
She looked like a child trying to escape a scary dream.
Kihara Yuiitsu frantically ran out onto a dark road.
She received no response.
A pool of blood spread below a barely-functioning streetlight and a silhouette was collapsed on its side in the center.
He must have put up a powerful resistance. He must not have moved a single step back. Noukan had always been a true intellectual, but his fangs were coated in dark blood. It was not his. He had bit at his opponent over and over like a wild beast.
But his own injuries were far worse. It did not look like simple punches. Yuiitsu identified them immediately using her thorough knowledge of the rules of destruction. It had likely been something like a collapsible baton. Even as Noukan had bit at his opponent’s limbs, the golden retriever had been beaten over and over.
The injuries covered his head, his body, and his legs. Every last part of his body had been brutally beaten.
Until he could no longer move.
Yuiitsu let out a wail.
She tore at her hair, clawed at her skin, and audibly tore her cheap suit and lab coat.
But at the same time, her researcher’s mind began running.
She immediately began her analysis.
(His heartrate and breathing are disturbed. His pupils are dilated and his entire body is convulsing irregularly. Several organs were ruptured and bones broken. His blood pressure is rapidly dropping…)
She could not bear to look directly at the truth, so she converted it to data.
She did not need to feel hatred for the one who had done this. Kihara Noukan’s vitals were more important. If something was not done, he would undoubtedly die. The blood loss was especially bad. If the oxygen supply to his brain dropped far enough, his golden retriever brain would be destroyed. That was truly fatal for a Kihara. She nearly fainted when she saw the severe damage to the external attachments that connected to the weapons, allowed him to speak human language, and supplemented his intelligence.
She searched out all of the problem points.
Next, she worked out how to heal him.
She compared to two, calculated a more accurate timeline, and felt despair.
(I won’t make it in time!!)
The destruction of his brain cells was progressing faster than any method of healing him. At this rate, he would almost certainly die. And even if he was saved, his intelligence would never return.
In that case, what was she to do?
(Yes, yes. No matter how cruel or nasty it is, I will achieve my goal. After all, I am a Kihara!!)
She held the limp, bloody dog in her arms and carried him by foot to the closest research institution.
A giant freezing facility awaited her there.
She would put him in cold sleep. That would stop the damage for the time being, but it also meant she could not heal him. She would no longer be able to speak with him. The golden retriever’s time would be stopped inside that icy coffin until mankind’s technological progress advanced to the point that medical technology could solve this “great problem”.
It was time to say goodbye.
She gently placed the specimen on the silver coffin.
Kihara Noukan thought this was the best choice.
He felt joy in Yuiitsu’s growth for immediately making this decision.
Would he next wake in a few decades, a few centuries, a few millennia, or never at all?
The odds were good that this would be his last time to speak with Kihara Yuiitsu.
What was he to tell his student?
There was a lot he wanted to say, but all of it came from his own softness. Those words would not allow her to grow. He would only create a copy of himself in her and she would never be able to progress beyond him.
So he sealed off those words he wanted to say.
Most likely, Kihara Yuiitsu would be thrown onto the front line. Or rather, the very fact that Kihara Noukan would be retiring here had been arranged as preparation for something. Aleister was making his next move in order to deal with World Rejecter. So the odds were extremely high that she would end up confronting that irregular power. The Board Chairman had asked him to break free of a complete dead-end, but it had been impossible for Kihara Noukan. It would take a much, much stronger Kihara to break free of the bonds of destiny and pave the way forward under their own power. It would take a brand new sort of Kihara who could move beyond pure logic and surpass even the untested theories.
His own regrets did not matter.
He had to think about what would be best for his student.
The golden retriever brushed aside his softness, gathered his last strength, and spoke.
“I have one last thing to tell you. Become a Kihara that exceeds even me. Do not hold back for my sake. Continue beyond me. I know you can do it. I have nothing more to teach you…”
That was all.
The golden retriever truly lost consciousness this time and Kihara Yuiitsu wept like a child. Yet at the same time, her fingertips moved in isolation from her emotions. They moved with perfect accuracy and ruthlessness. The flash-freezing machine produced a heavy noise as it set to work on her beloved teacher. It looked like his life was being made a part of the machine.
She had done it.
She had done it with her own hands.
“I will do it.”
Even as she sniffled, that Kihara spoke.
When she raised her head again, a strange light filled her eyes.
“I will do it!! I will…I will become a Kihara that surpasses him. I will become a Kihara no one else can hope to match! After all, this is the task my teacher left for me!! He told me to become something unique that goes beyond being a mere Kihara and cannot be explained with the term Kihara!!!!!”
The world of pre-established harmony crumbled around her.
The wishes of the Magic Gods did not matter.
The actions of World Rejecter which had instantly killed those Magic Gods did not matter.
“Yes, that’s right. The student must one day surpass her master. She must become someone that her surpassed teacher can be proud of.”
After the intense hellfire passed, all that remained was a calm burning just like the lit tip of a refined cigar.
It was a constant heat that did not flicker or burn too brightly.
She would take on the Board Chairman who seemed to know everything, Imagine Breaker who that Board Chairman was so focused on, the science side that Board Chairman belonged to, the dispute with the other side that was thought to exist, World Rejecter that had caused trouble for them all, and everything else in the world.
And even as she did so, she would not take a single step back.
“That would be the romantic thing to do. Isn’t that right, sensei?”
That opposing axis was being reborn in this hopeless world.
In a windowless building, a “human” floated upside-down in a giant tube.
He had long silver hair and wore a green surgical gown.
That “human” who appeared masculine yet feminine, young yet aged, saintly yet sinful simply floated as always.
Everything was going according to plan.
Everything was back on track.
No matter how many irregularities the process may have caused, he had prepared a “game” capable of bringing everything back on track.
He did not need to think about the losses. The word “adversity” was meaningless. Just as a compressed spring only bounced back with all the more strength, a glance at the whole showed that he had come out better off than when he had started.
So this was a great success.
He had made progress with nothing to taint it. He could feel proud of what he had accomplished without worrying what anyone else thought.
And after thinking through it that far, the absurd score was actually displayed.
A roar seemed to tear apart the very world.
It was contained within the windowless building and not allowed to escape.
Once, on that day when he had learned of his young daughter’s death, this “human” had left a tearstain in his journal. Now, for the first time, he truly cursed this plan that could only lead him in the best possible direction.
Once upon a time, the world’s greatest magician was still just a child.
The town he lived in was a horrible place.
His mother and father who believe in god refused to understand him and his school teachers were all so mean. However, they all looked nice on the surface, so they all had influential positions in the town. While living in that garbage dump of a town, he began to look down on the god who had created such an awful world that was so easily fooled and could not punish liars.
So he decided to show them what a real god looked like.
He would find the proper rules since that pathetic god would not.
That was the starting point that later led to him joining the great Golden cabal and developing countless spells and spiritual items.
But that did not mean he was successful in everything he did.
The more he approached the answer, the more things would get in his way. The stable cabal ran afoul of infighting, his child collapsed, his wife left him, and his family fell apart. And each time he hit a stumbling block, someone was there laughing at him from somewhere.
“This is no different…”
Even so, he is still doing his very best.
He is still working to find the answer that not even god could find so that he can make the world a better place.
“This is no different than what those Magic Gods dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!”
Even as he laments, shouts, is knocked down, and despairs, Aleister Crowley still continues his fight against god’s rules.
- Yuiitsu means unique.