Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume15 Epilogue
Epilogue: The Front Front Side of the Coin — Lock_on_Light_Girl.
Metal crashed heavily to the ground.
The sound spread as Misaka Mikoto wandered through the dark streets.
The Anti-Art Attachment was actually several weapons and they were detaching from her body now that their role was complete.
She had crossed a line.
She had broken the dam that kept her contained within an invisible framework.
She could feel it even if she had nothing to back it up.
“Ha ha…ah ha ha.”
Her heart was pounding.
Her breaths were sweet.
She had not understood all of that massive system. She still had no way of comprehending those blank spots. But she was now certain that understanding that would take her to the next stage she hoped for. She had been wandering blindly through the desert, but now she knew where the closest oasis was. That sort of hope filled her chest.
“The world is so large.”
She spread her arms and looked up into the heavens.
She almost seemed to be reciting the words.
“I can see into the depths of the night sky.”
The blessing of the stars awaited her.
She even started to feel that she did not belong in this city of science.
“There are no barriers! The possibilities are endless! There’s so much! There’s so much more for me!! So many clues to follow, so many heights to climb to, and so many summits to aim for!!”
Thus she was happy.
Thus she felt wonderful.
Thus there was nothing to feel sad about.
…But was that really true?
She had already taken the step forward and there was nothing to be done about it now, but that tiny pinprick of a thought knocked at her personality.
She would soon have plenty of material for a rebuttal, but that pinprick did not care.
A single card could cause the entire stack to crumble.
…If that was true, then why did you flee from him by leaving?
She had no answer.
She had no answer.
She had no answer.
“Hey, you over there!”
Then someone called out to her from the side. The deep voice likely belonged to a teacher. She looked over to find a young man in an Anti-Skill uniform. Not only was she a girl wandering alone late at night, but she wore the uniform of Tokiwadai Middle School which was well known for its strict curfew. It was possible she had been involved in some kind of trouble.
But that was not what he asked about.
The male Anti-Skill officer sounded worried when he spoke.
“Are you okay? You’ve got a pretty bad nosebleed, so did you run into something? Or is it some kind illness?”
She did not have the slightest clue how to answer that question.
It was like some kind of side effect.
Misaka Mikoto held a trembling hand to her face and tilted her head in confusion at the sensation on her fingertips.
She looked truly, truly puzzled.
Meanwhile, a woman had much more than a nosebleed. Her entire body had been torn apart and she lay in a pool of blood.
It was Kihara Yuiitsu.
But even that was not fatal.
Something crawled all over her body. It was Sample Shoggoth. Just as it had forcibly sewn on Kamisato Kakeru’s hand, it sewed together the laceration all over her body.
She had lost quite a bit of blood, but she could get a blood transfusion or, if she could not get one in time, use an IV of boiled saline to at least avoid too large a drop in blood pressure. In her current state, she would be lucky just to avoid going into shock from blood loss.
She leaned against a wind turbine and laughed despite her extreme injuries.
She raised her right hand toward the moon, clenched it, and opened it again.
She could still move it.
Kamisato Kakeru’s World Rejecter had not left her.
“I managed to create an outline with Sample Shoggoth and copied their magic using the attenuated St. Germain virus.”
A rusty-smelling liquid spilled from the corner of her mouth as she smiled.
She continued to smile.
“But that is not the true value of this right hand. Those who were satisfied after revealing the closer-to-home trick must have been relieved in their conclusion that there was nothing further inside.”
That also applied to the one who had likely been watching that battle.
That is, the “human” who had been using his Underline to look down at them from his point of safety.
Board Chairman Aleister.
(It’s true Kamisato Kakeru was my first target as revenge for taking Sensei from me. And it sounded like to fun to take everyone from him, including that Kamijou Touma he found so important.)
With a mental “but”, she switched from thought to speech.
“Aleister. Now that I think about it, you were the original cause. If you hadn’t given Sensei that role, sent him to his death, and had him face that bizarre opponent known as Kamisato Kakeru, none of this tragedy would have occurred.”
She slowly lowered her right hand.
She held it straight forward instead of toward the moon.
There was a windowless building there.
Kihara Yuiitsu thought about the possibilities of World Rejecter’s power in the right hand stolen from Kamisato Kakeru. A dark smile came to her lips. That Board Chairman liked to act all-knowing and all-powerful, but if he really knew everything, then he would have known what would happen to the golden retriever. He had known, yet he had still sent him off as a disposable pawn for some “plan” that Yuiitsu was not sure even existed.
What would Kihara Noukan have said?
Between good and evil it’s evil, and between like and dislike it’s like.
But Yuiitsu was different.
Choosing a different path was interesting.
She felt a definite sufficiency there.
She spoke softly, as if singing a lullaby.
Yet her icy voice contained great resolve, as if she planned to set fire to the house once the child fell asleep.
That vengeful demon spoke while drowning in her own unique brand of romance.
“How many plans have you had to abandon before this one?”
Slight strength entered her raised right hand.
She prepared to activate its power.
But just before she did, a new footstep sounded from within twenty centimeters of her.
Even as injured as she was, it was unnatural for her to miss someone approaching so close. And she did not have time for a detailed examination of the situation. She started moving her hand away from the Windowless Building and toward the noise.
But before she could, someone grabbed her wrist.
Their other hand grabbed her throat and lifted her up.
She was forced to her feet and her back was slammed against the wind turbine.
She gasped as a face appeared just five centimeters from her own.
It was Board Chairman Aleister.
That “human” looked like both a man and a woman, like both an adult and a child, and like both a saint and a sinner. His emotionless eyes peered deep into the out-of-control factor that was Kihara Yuiitsu.
And then he spoke.
“If you wish to kill me, then feel free to try. As long as you achieve your objective, you may take whatever detour you wish. If that is your desire, I will take you on at any time.”
This vengeance-seeker respected that golden retriever from the bottom of her heart.
But behind that she hid intense emotion that made that identity appear shallow.
“But complete your job first. Anything else would be far too cruel to ‘that man’ who lost his life to push you to action.”
His words did not even try to hide the fact that he was behind it all.
Kihara Yuiitsu laughed.
Her laughter was out of control even as she had a hand around her throat.
“Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Hee hee!! Gya ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”
The “human” with long silver hair and a surgical gown let go of Yuiitsu and spoke quietly.
“There is no turning back for me now, so I might as well stop hiding in my safe zone.”
“Yes, yes! Use me as much as you want!! But I will never forgive anyone who harmed Sensei. Kamisato Kakeru, his hangers-on, the Magic Gods who made him special, that Kamijou boy he thought was so important, you as the creator of this cruel city, and all the many people who turn the gears of this cruel city as they enjoy their lives!! Every last one of you built the rails that sent Sensei into the abyss. Between good and evil you’re all good, and between like and dislike you’re all dislike!! As long as I can eradicate you all to my heart’s content, nothing else matters!! Yes, I mean it! This is my own romance that Sensei could never hope to copy!!”
“So what will you have me do, main dish?”
Yuiitsu laughed after falling back to the ground.
The Board Chairman answered with a blank expression, but that did not mean he lacked emotions.
“Kamisato Kakeru was the original threat and Misaka Mikoto has introduced a new threat by contacting the Anti-Art Attachment. She was never anything more than one of the pieces needed to build the network for Dragon, so it was the clones that mattered, not her. If she will obstruct the plan as a whole, then she must be eliminated.”
“But given the state of the game board, you don’t have time to have me crush them one at a time, do you?”
Aleister slowly exhaled and answered.
“Choose one. I will deal with the other.”
“In that case, they’re both done for,” muttered bloody Kihara Yuiitsu.
The Board Chairman narrowed his eyes a little and then looked up at the night sky.
And as he looked up, he spoke.
“What do you think you’re looking at, you bitch? Do you want me to curse you to death right this instant?”
Lola Stuart spoke to herself on the other side of the globe.
“That confirms it.”
Kamisato Kakeru’s mind was hazy.
He felt more heat in his right hand than pain. He also felt an odd pressure. He turned his blurry vision in that direction and found it was forcibly tied off with a cloth or ribbon. He seemed to be lying on the examination table in a moonlit infirmary. Blood was smeared here and there and the room felt far from peaceful.
He had hated World Rejecter so much and now it was gone.
The entire hand had been severed and some woman named Kihara Yuiitsu had taken it.
He felt like the depths of his mind were being stirred up by the despair that overcame him.
He had not wanted that power.
He was relieved that it was gone.
The girls of the Kamisato Faction had gathered around him for their convenience, but what if that really had been due to the influence of his right hand? Now that the hand had transferred to someone else, the girls might leave him as well.
That in and of itself was good.
His original objective had been to destroy the strange category known as the Kamisato Faction so that those girls would return to being strangers with free wills of their own.
The problem was the possibility of their next owner using them as she saw fit.
What if Ellen, Elza, and the other girls gained the same blind trust in Kihara Yuiitsu that had led them to gather around him? What if those with extraordinary power like Claire and Salome retained their willingness to do anything for “the owner of that right hand”?
They had said themselves that they were willing to dump a few bodies in the mountains for him.
It had sounded like a joke, but he did not believe it was only a joke. If someone with no self-control had that right hand, then it was all over. Who could say how many crimes those girls would commit before returning to their senses?
(I have to…)
He clenched his teeth while too weak from blood loss to even get up.
(I have to…do something…)
But what could he do now that he had lost World Rejecter? He was the kind of normal high school boy that one could find anywhere. He knew that all too well. He was not a genius with an IQ of 200 and he was not a martial artist who could kill a bear bare-handed. He did not stand a chance against Claire or Salome, not to mention Kihara Yuiitsu who had adopted so many bizarre powers.
He felt dark, dark despair.
And as if to kick him while he was down, he heard a small noise.
It was a footstep.
Just as he gathered his strength, he rolled right off the examination table. But he did not have time to cry out at the pain in his back and hip.
He saw a familiar face in the infirmary.
No, he saw several familiar faces.
With the moonlight reflected in their eyes, the girls gradually gathered closer around him now that he was awake.
Just the day before, this gathering would have meant nothing.
But at the moment, Kamisato lacked his right hand.
Kihara Yuiitsu had already stolen it. She had control of the right hand that had constructed that ridiculous harem, so the odds were good they were here to do something for her.
In other words, to eliminate an enemy.
They would kill Kamisato Kakeru with a smile on their faces, dirty their hands, and run to Yuiitsu, hoping for her praise.
Unable to get up properly, he tried to slide back in a sitting position. It was difficult without his hand, but this was not the time to worry about that. He could only press the stump against the floor and try to move as far away as he could.
This was of course a futile attempt.
The circle tightened in.
He was trapped.
Finally, someone who seemed to have completely changed form spoke up in the moonlight.
“Are you okay, boss!? I’m so glad you finally woke up!!”
It was Elza.
Her brown hair was cut with tufts that looked like fox ears. The plastic bottle in her hand was filled with old ten yen coins. She was a blunt delinquent girl, but she actually excelled at housework and yet did not want anyone to know. She stood there as she always had.
She did not seem to be under Kihara Yuiitsu’s control.
“I was terrified since Claire had gotten herself knocked out of the fight earlier. But I tied off the wound and gave you a ton of saline, so you should be on the way back to a stable condition now that you’ve woken up.”
“Hm? What’s the matter?”
Before he could ask that question, the long-haired girl in a baggy lab coat said something more.
“What’s so strange about us doing everything we can for you, Kamisato-han?”
“C’mon, why are you acting so distant after everything we’ve been through? Haven’t we told you we’ll do anything for you, boss?”
He was speechless.
“H-hey. What is it, boss? Why are you covering your face like that? Does your wound still hurt? Dammit, if only they’d had some specialized anesthetic here. All we can do is cool the injured area to numb the pain.”
“He’s probably more shocked about the loss his dominant hand. You’ve always been awful at taking care of people’s hearts, Elza.”
The usual circle of girls was there.
They had all accepted Kamisato Kakeru himself, not World Rejecter.
He had a place here.
A boy with another right hand had once said people were not defined by their right hands. He had said the people were the ones that summoned the power of their right hand. He had said Kamisato had so many people around him because all of those people adored him.
Kamisato had not been able to believe it.
That normal high school boy had lacked what he needed to believe it.
That puny boy covered his face with one hand and one wrist to desperately force down the sobs as he built his resolve anew.
(Yes, yes!! I’d made up my mind from the beginning, hadn’t I? No matter what happens to them and no matter what influence they fall under, I will never abandon them. I will return to them to their original lives!!)
That power had been given to him because he sought a nonexistent ideal.
But the answer had been right in front of his eyes the entire time. He had never needed to do anything at all. If they had all just returned to their original location, it would all have been settled.
Yes, for every last one of them.
Including Kamisato Kakeru.
“What is it?”
“Do you want something, boss?”
He smiled a little when they responded like they were looking after a child with a cold.
(Do I want something, hm?)
He focused on that again and spoke.
“How long will it take for Claire to recover?”
“She should be working at reconnecting her upper body to her lower body right about now.”
“But if you say you need something, boss, I’m sure she’ll come running. If she wants to, she can move around as just her upper body. In fact, I bet she could hop around as just a head in an emergency.”
His thoughts turned to his lost hand.
“The hand Kihara Yuiitsu cut away from herself should still be in the schoolyard. Go get that. I’ll use it as a replacement hand for the time being. If Claire connects it, I should be able to move it properly.”
There was of course the issue of compatibility just like with organ transplants, but since Kihara Yuiitsu had already stolen his hand and attached it to herself, he doubted there would be any issues there. And even if there was, he could just have one of the girls find a breakthrough using some dirty technique of theirs.
(I doubt World Rejecter will come back if I just sit around.)
Imagine Breaker prioritized Kamijou Touma as its owner even if his arm was stolen, but either World Rejecter lacked that ability or Kihara Yuiitsu was keeping it from working right with some kind of trick.
That meant he would never get it back if he did not take action.
He would have to chop off the right hand she had stolen and take it back.
He would now seek the very right hand he had hated so much.
He was aware of the irony, but he still thought quietly to himself.
(It doesn’t matter if I have conflicting desires. I don’t care if I end up blowing myself away the instant I get the power back. Kihara Yuiitsu. I can’t let her abuse my right hand. I need to take it back before that happens. If I’m going to bring back those normal days, I need to end the tragedy here!!)
Kamisato Kakeru slowly breathed out and then stood on his own two feet.
“Come with me, everyone. Let’s bring this all to an end.”
And finally, one superfluous conclusion.
It is a truly small and insignificant conclusion.
“Morning, Kami-yan. Heading to a new school really changes when you have to leave in the morning, doesn’t it? I keep leaving early cause I’m afraid I’ll be late, but then I get here way too early.”
“Not that it really matters, but what happened to that pointlessly strained atmosphere?”
“Well, once we calmed down and thought about it, we couldn’t figure out why we were so obsessed with burning porn magazines, dolls, and body pillows at school last night.”
“So you idiots saw the light, huh?”
“We should’ve realized sooner that you’d never be working that hard to stop us if it wasn’t for our own good.”
That everyday sort of recovery was small.
But it was not something to be looked down on.