Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume16 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: A Sudden Change that Tells of Ruin – Operation_Right_Hand.
Square holes had opened in the ground the same distance from the four cardinal directions of the Windowless Building. Kamijou and Kamisato descended underground through one of them. The inside was a special concrete slope that maintained a set angle. There were no lights except for the small ones pointing to the emergency exit.
Fran’s heat wave microwaves must have been cut off because Swimsuit Kamijou felt a shiver down his spine. The chill of winter returned in this darkness.
At first, he thought this was a large passageway meant to allow trucks to drive materials in.
But that was wrong.
That was clear enough once they reached the bottom of the slope.
They found an incredibly large space. When filming secret bases for a Sentai series, it was common to use a giant underground pool used to gather concentrated rainwater because those underground facilities were exciting to see, but this was even larger than that. Plus, there was no sign of any pillars used to hold up the earth. It was not supported by inflating it with air like a domed stadium and Kamijou had trouble deciding whether it was even possible with existing construction technologies. How was the weight being distributed?
But the strangest aspect of the underground space had to do with the height rather than the size of the other two dimensions.
More accurately, it was the ceiling.
A great number of giant metal cylinders hung down like icicles or stalactites. The bottom end grew wider like a trumpet and Kamijou had trouble imagining what they were at first. He mistakenly leaped to the conclusion that he was in a strange metal botanical garden.
He finally managed to focus on reality once he recalled the long slope they had walked down and combined that with the strange objects on the ceiling.
Yes, a certain thought came to mind:
“You’re kidding…right? Those things hanging down from the ceiling look a lot like rocket engines to me…”
“You might not be wrong. I’ve heard rocket engines spray out a ton of water to make sure they don’t damage their own parts with their heat, so the slope we descended may have been ducts to expel all the steam during takeoff.”
That might seem possible when looking at each individual part, but the location of this underground area led to a frightening conclusion.
“Then…wait. What does that mean? This is right below the Windowless Building. That would mean the building itself is made to leave the earth!!”
“I’ve heard it’s made to survive a direct hit from a nuke, so it’s got to be resistant to heat and radiation. I don’t know what it’s like on the inside, but if it has a proper circulation established, it’s basically an artificial planet. It would be able to leave the solar system or even the Milky Way. Since it hasn’t done so yet, it might still be making its preparations.”
This was insane.
It was so insane that Kamijou was hit by a fundamental question: Why had Academy City been built?
Kamisato, however, remained carefree, perhaps because he was not a resident of the city.
“But all of that is just a guess based on the different pieces we’ve seen. And this is no time to be thinking about the origin of this underground structure. Don’t lose sight of the true issue, Kamijou Touma. Our goal is defeating ‘that person’. For you, that will wipe out the Elements and bring back your peaceful days. For me, it will prevent a third party from misusing that loathsome right hand.”
The boy with a stranger’s hand sewn on slowly lined up alongside Kamijou.
Their surroundings changed as if in response.
Definite fires lit in the nearly unlit space. They looked like the obvious will-o’-the-wisps of a haunted house, but they were the size of lighthouse lights. They were red, blue, yellow, and green. The four light sources were located up above and they eerily illuminated their surroundings while looking down at the boys.
They were 100 meter Class 6 Elements.
It was a group of giant crocodiles and carnivorous inchworms.
The ducts had only been about ten meters across, so nothing this large could have passed through. So had they been built inside here after carrying in the materials, just like a bottle ship?
And the mad scientist behind it waited below the light in the center of the space.
When Kamijou uttered a scratchy voice, the woman smiled and raised a hand.
She was dressed differently from before. Either not even she had been able to endure the heatwave caused by the high power microwaves or she was simply enjoying the situation. She wore her lab coat over a red bikini. The chill of winter had returned to this space because the microwaves could not get in, but her entire body looked heated and healthy.
She had a reason for her body to be boiling.
The right hand she casually waved was roughly sewn on at the wrist like a repaired stuffed animal. The fingertips were slender, but they had a clear lack of femininity. It was blatantly obvious that she had sewn on a stolen hand.
That was Kamisato Kakeru’s right hand.
It was World Rejecter.
“To be honest, Kamijou Touma-kun, I have no real interest in you. I only have business with Kamisato Kakeru. So if you turn around now, I’ll just let you leave. Would you be willing to do that?”
“Are you worried about my Elements swarming Academy City once the heat wave is removed? …But that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. My objective is Kamisato Kakeru and the Elements are merely pawns to that end. The A.A.A. was only a detour, but there are some things I just can’t overlook. If the Kamisato Faction is defeated here, the microwaves from above will naturally stop. In other words, this is the final battle. On the other hand, if Kamisato Kakeru kills me, the Elements will stop and he will lose any reason to keep the heat wave going. So whoever wins here, both problems will end. Academy City will return to normal all on its own. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”
Kamijou thought about that for just a bit.
It was true that he was not at the center of this issue. This was a confrontation between Kamisato Kakeru and Kihara Yuiitsu who had exchanged right hands. The girls of the Kamisato Faction could defeat the giant Elements without Kamijou’s right hand, so this would be over no matter who won. Even if Kamijou desperately swung his right hand around, it would not change the result much.
He understood all that.
But he still repeated himself.
“Again: hell no.”
“Your Elements nearly killed Aogami Pierce and Fukiyose at the water department. They destroyed Tokiwadai Middle School and hurt Misaka and the other girls there. And I’m sure there were plenty of other tragedies I’m not aware of. You’re saying all of that will end on its own? You’re saying I should just sit idly by and watch? How the hell can I do that!? You’ve proven how much you can do. You’ll just be switching it off for the time being, but you’ll still be able to do the same thing any time you want!! I’ll at least be crushing that possibility here, Kihara Yuiitsu!!”
Kamijou Touma had moved between schools and shelters instead of staying in one place.
They had each used different facilities and equipment, they had each seen a different world and problems, and they had each been in different circumstances, but they had all wanted one thing.
They had wanted their normal lives to return.
They had wanted to live a life free of worry.
They had wanted to be freed from the constant fear for their lives.
They may have seen things differently and been able to do far less, but that did not mean Misaka Mikoto would have made light of Aogami Pierce and Fukiyose Seiri’s desperate efforts. Similarly, Kamisato had no right to mock Misaka. And as the source of it all, Kihara Yuiitsu had no right to just end it while ignoring everyone’s thoughts and voices as they desperately worked to survive throughout Academy City.
Ending this was something only the people suffering in Academy City could do.
Kamisato Kakeru and the girls around him had special powers and clever minds, so they may have been the most realistic choice for clashing with Kihara Yuiitsu.
But that was not enough.
They had known the truth from the beginning and made secret preparations, so their pain and suffering were insufficient to hear everyone’s voices and understand that pressure. They only understood in theory or on paper, but they did not truly understand how the people felt as they risked their lives in the sweltering heat wave to gather just one day’s worth of food and water while the Elements pursued them. It was pissing Kamijou off how casually they pretended like they understood.
If someone knew in advance that their cruise ship would be sunk and had prepared life vests and life boats, how could they understand the efforts of those who were thrown into the frigid sea with no warning whatsoever? How could they understand how reliable the buoyancy of a single plank of wood or plastic container felt or how much effort had gone into securing one?
“This isn’t about efficiency. I don’t care what ‘makes sense’!! I need to report back to everyone that this is actually over and that it won’t happen again!! If I can’t tell them they can remove the barricades, leave their schools, and go home, then the fear isn’t truly over!! Whether or not the heat wave leaves and whether or not the Elements go away is a different issue. I won’t let this nightmare drag on and I need the truth to do that. And I’m not about to let you and your know-it-all face hold onto the final key and throw it into some black box!!!!!!”
Kihara Yuiitsu responded with a quiet laugh in her swimsuit and lab coat.
She maintained a smile as she readily replied.
“Then you can die along with them. I don’t care about good and evil or like and dislike as much as Sensei did.”
The wind roared.
The four giant Elements ruling this space had all moved at once and that had whipped up the air.
Kamisato Kakeru did not bat an eye.
He gently lifted the L-shaped crowbar that rested on his shoulder like the grim reaper’s scythe.
He had already defeated several Class 6s on the surface and the girls of the Kamisato Faction could defeat them individually. The only question for him may have been how to make use of the large but enclosed space.
But what happened next far exceeded Kamijou’s expectations.
The 100 meter Elements did not attack Kamijou or Kamisato. Nor did they start with the girls surrounding them.
They moved the other way.
They rushed toward Kihara Yuiitsu, their master!!!???
A tremendous sound burst out.
At some point a portion of the Elements vanished. Kamijou’s eyes had not been able to follow what happened.
He only heard a sticky and squishy sound coming from Kihara Yuiitsu’s left arm.
“Devour. Ha ha. Devour, devour.”
He had assumed this oddity came from the right hand she had stolen.
But it did not.
The strange sound came from her unnaturally throbbing left hand and translucent, blade-like claws extended from the fingertips.
“Ah ha ha ah ha ha ha ha ha ah ha ah ha ah ha ha!! Devour, devour, yes, devourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!”
Each time she swung her arm, more of the Elements, which should have been her greatest fighting force, disappeared. At the same time, the beautiful bodylines decorated by her swimsuit and lab coat crawled and throbbed in a way that ignored her original muscles and bones.
No, Kamijou and the others may have been looking at it all wrong.
The Elements were indeed toys created by Kihara Yuiitsu, but they were not meant to attack anyone directly. They had another purpose.
Her whispered voice sent a chill down the spine of all who heard it.
The back of her lab coat exploded. Sharp, crystalline protrusions grew from her back and created something like giant wings. Other protrusions resembled eyeballs, claws, or fangs.
“I thought they might be too tough after raising them underground while feeding them the ones sent out to graze, but that’s fine for now. I might dislike Misaka Mikoto’s insolence, but she was perfect for a warmup exercise. I’m up against Kamisato Kakeru who defeated Sensei’s original A.A.A., so I need to be able to defeat something like that without any real difficulty.”
With a high-pitched sound, translucent armor covered both her legs. It was unbelievably cold, but it had a streamlined and biological look. Perhaps to preserve that uniqueness, her hands remained uncovered, but her overall silhouette was familiar.
The bizarre researcher gave a mocking smile.
“I used a different approach from Sensei and constructed it all on my own without any help from that annoying Aleister.”
She formed a gun with her borrowed right hand and pressed the index finger against her temple as she spoke.
The two long, narrow boosters on her back lit with a red light almost immediately.
“So let’s enjoy this, Kamisato Kakeru. For you, this would be round two! You don’t have World Rejecter this time, but I wouldn’t hesitate even if you did!! Now that you can’t cheat, how much can you struggle against an A.A.A. that took a different path from Sensei? I am going to enjoy tormenting you to death just like Sensei should have done with his A.A.A.!!”
Kamisato Kakeru…or rather, the girls on either side of him shot forward like artillery shells.
Salome, the mass murderer in a white swimsuit and double raincoats, and the pirate girl, who wore a pirate hat and a bikini, were both monsters who had torn through the Class 6 Elements as a close-quarters combat pair.
But Kihara Yuiitsu did not care.
She laughed quietly.
Her many cannons fired.
The girls ducked low like anti-ship missiles charging a warship as they approached Yuiitsu. But Yuiitsu had never intended to hit them with that. After getting them to duck down and thus restricting their freedom of movement, she made her true attack along their straight line path. It had all been preparation for this.
The pirate girl was the first to speak up.
Kihara Yuiitsu swung a ridiculously long anti-special steel chainsaw down from above.
While running alongside her in her white school swimsuit and raincoats, Salome kicked the pirate girl in the side. That altered the girl’s path somewhat.
A moment later, the chainsaw twice their height dropped down.
Salome crossed her weapons…or rather, her arms to protect her head, but instead of being cut, she was knocked to the ground as if she had been hit by a barbell. Her severed brown arm flew through the air and passed right by Kamijou’s face.
It was destroyed with the sound of something hard being chewed to pieces. At this rate, she would lose her other artificial arm and then her head and torso would be bisected vertically. Once that happened, not even a self-made cyborg would escape unharmed.
Kamijou immediately gave a yell.
“The fat alternative, Kamisato!!”
The boy pulled two plastic bottles from his tote bag and tossed one to Kamijou.
They contained the type of liquid glue found in any department store’s stationery section.
And the two of them simultaneously threw the bottles at Kihara Yuiitsu from different angles.
More accurately, at the chainsaw blade.
They burst as soon as they touched it, but that was of course not going to stop the rapidly rotating blade.
But something did change.
Salome had been protecting her face and torso by crossing her arms, but the blade did not sink any lower toward her. It continued spinning, but it was no longer cutting.
“Long ago, executioner’s axes would apparently grow useless from the human blood and fat that got on the blade! Not even the sharpest Japanese swords were used to cut cleanly through ten or twenty people in battle. They were really used to beat people down with the weight of the steel!!”
Kihara Yuiitsu tilted her head a little, snapped the claw-like protrusions of armor, and grinned.
“Ohh, I see.”
Since the chainsaw could no longer cut, she swung it straight down. She slammed Salome’s body to the ground instead of cutting her.
Even the mass murderer who had caused so much trouble for Academy City was reduced to this.
And before Yuiitsu could push the chainsaw forward, the Kamisato Faction took action. The ghost girl and cosplay girl created a barrage of high firepower long-range attacks that flew toward Yuiitsu like a solid wall.
But Yuiitsu still laughed.
And she continued smiling as she and the A.A.A. she wore disappeared.
Kamijou’s eyes widened.
“She still has the Elements’ translucent mimicry!?”
Before he could say anything more, she made her next move.
Kihara Yuiitsu had approached right in front of him while blending into the background by hiding behind the many cannons and armor. And she was swinging the anti-special steel chainsaw in a diagonal path.
It did not matter if it could cut or not.
Even Salome had been helplessly crushed.
She would have died if not for her self-made cyborg body.
Even without the cutting edge, its solid weight could not be denied. Not even the other girls could stop it. Not to mention Kamisato Kakeru who was only a high school boy now that he had lost his special right hand. He could not stop it or dodge it now.
If Kihara Yuiitsu’s A.A.A. was still fundamentally the same as the Elements…
Kamijou let out a roar.
He roared and cut in.
He used the yell to force down the instinctual fear of the roaring chainsaw and he stepped forward. He swung his right hand. One touch to the translucent blade destroyed the part that resembled a rotating bicycle chain with blades attached. It whipped around like a writhing snake and nearly chopped off Kamijou’s ear.
“My Elements are reduced lifeforms supported by a magic element, so it is true they are weak to your right hand.”
But he did not have time to bring a hand to his ear to check on it.
Kamijou and Yuiitsu were already staring each other in the eye at close range.
“But your right hand is weak to my right hand. Isn’t that right?”
Kihara Yuiitsu raised her crudely sewn-on right hand. Its shadow danced out.
If Imagine Breaker and World Rejecter clashed, Kamijou would lose.
And if he lost his right hand, not even he knew what would happen. Would it devour Kihara Yuiitsu, would it turn around and kill him, or would it transform the unrelated girls around them into a pool of blood? He only knew that the unpredictable box did not contain even a glimmer of hope.
The flow of time seemed to stall and Kihara Yuiitsu’s right hand moved oddly slowly. Its shadow tried to cover Kamijou’s entire body as he desperately tried to twist out of the way.
It successfully locked onto him.
And she did not hesitate to speak.
“Do you wish for a new world?”
Time sped back up.
But as unpleasant sweat poured from his body, Kamijou remained alive in this world.
There was a simple reason for this: Kamisato Kakeru.
He had pulled a one-touch umbrella from his tote bag, opened it with this thumb, and held it out to hide Kamijou’s upper body.
The shadow of Kihara Yuiitsu’s right hand shifted from Kamijou’s upper body and to the umbrella.
With a dull bursting sound, the synthetic fiber material took the hit for him.
“World Rejecter can eliminate all things if the proper conditions are met, but it’s still reliant on the hand’s shadow for targeting. So if you move the shadow elsewhere, something else can take the hit.”
Kamisato spoke quietly with a calm look on his face.
“You really should prepare more before fighting.”
He had so easily neutralized the powerful right hand that had slaughtered Magic Gods by the dozen.
No one knew how to handle World Rejecter better than him.
He tossed aside the destroyed umbrella and quickly called some names.
The ghost girl and cosplay girl on his left and right began to move. They normally specialized in long-distance bombardments, but were they preparing to fire at point blank range? Kihara Yuiitsu began to fall back without thinking. And…
It came from directly behind.
As if to get back at her for the chainsaw attack, the one-armed mass murderer charged toward Kihara Yuiitsu. She ran into the forest of weapons on the back of the A.A.A. Everything that formed that steel-winged demon was a meal for Salome.
“You haven’t forgotten I’m a magician that gains power by using the weapons I destroy as a sacrifice to my god, have you!? Yes, I couldn’t consume the Elements when they were ‘life forms’, but the A.A.A. is a ‘weapon’!!”
If Kihara Yuiitsu had that power taken, she would have lost her precious advantage. And even if not, tearing away the weapons would reduce the number of cards available to her.
More and more disturbing sounds came from her back.
Just as Yuiitsu began moving the weapons on her back, Kamisato Kakeru right hand gave a casual push to Kamijou Touma’s back.
It pushed him forward.
Realizing what Kamisato meant, Kamijou clenched his right fist tight and gave a roar.
“Like I’ll let you do that!!”
“Now, what will you do? You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Both of these opponents are perfect for devouring your Element-made A.A.A.”
Kihara Yuiitsu’s face was covered in sweat, but she gave a belligerent smile.
“Ha ha! Perfect!!”
She was not focused on the boy in front of her or the girl behind her.
The eyeball and claw-like protrusions creaked and all of the cannons let out a roar.
Explosive noises and shockwaves filled the entire enclosed space. Kamijou felt a dull pain spreading from his eardrums. His feet were pinned to the ground just as he started running forward. It was like a solid wall of sound…no, an acoustic weapon. Kihara Yuiitsu had simultaneously fired all of her cannons without aiming. She hit them all with something other than the shells and laser beams and Salome was no exception. The shockwaves and heat collided with her body and the brown girl in a white swimsuit and double raincoats floated up from the ground. She was thrown through the air.
Only about half of the weapons remained on Yuiitsu’s back, but those remaining weapons groaned as they accurately pursued Salome through the air.
Before Salome could land, countless lasers and sensor-assisted anti-air fire gave a roar. There was nothing she could do. It was possible she would be sent flying into the heavens without ever setting foot on the ground again.
But that may have been why supposedly powerless Kamisato Kakeru pushed past everything to step toward Kihara Yuiitsu.
Kamijou thought his throat had gone dry.
Next he felt a heavy blow to his gut. He looked down and saw the large tote bag that the other boy had relied on so far. It took a second to realize that Kamisato had thrown it to him.
He really was defenseless now.
Utterly unarmed, Kamisato Kakeru ran forward in order to protect this sister, even if she was a mass murderer.
“Are you serious? …Hey!!”
Kamijou forced the words out of his convulsing throat.
Kihara Yuiitsu was still Kihara Yuiitsu even with her weapons taken. The A.A.A. was extraordinarily powerful and Kamijou had fought her once before. She had a special martial arts technique that created bubbles in one’s blood and she had a wide variety of options after weakening and harnessing the St Germain virus and Sample Shoggoth. Even with Imagine Breaker, Kamijou had not stood a chance, so he seriously doubted Kamisato could do anything without his power.
And in fact, a flower of blood blossomed just a second later. It was definitely Kamisato Kakeru’s blood. Because Yuiitsu had all of her cannons aimed back toward Salome, she had reached back, torn off a piece of crystal rubble still reluctantly clinging to her back, and thrown it at him. The sharp fragment was twice the length of a pencil.
Kamisato had responded by holding up his powerless right hand.
He held up Kihara Yuiitsu’s right hand that had been forcibly sewn on with a needle and thread.
“So even a Kihara is hurt by that?”
It had pierced straight through the palm, so red blood flowed endlessly from the slender woman’s hand.
“By seeing a part of your body damaged, that is.”
Kihara Yuiitsu’s cheeks stiffened just enough to notice if one was paying attention. She then reached both hands back, tore off more pieces of the useless destroyed weapons, and threw them at close range. She threw more and more, but none of them reached Kamisato. He always held up Yuiitsu’s hand so they slashed the palm, broke the fingers, and destroyed its overall beautiful shape.
The blood loss and pain were afflicting Kamisato, but he smiled even as his face paled and sweat covered his body.
Yuiitsu was the one doing the damage, but she was the one being overwhelmed.
That Kihara was overwhelmed by a normal high school boy.
A solid thud sounded as Salome hit the ground.
Yuiitsu had lost her chance to fire.
Her cannons were still aiming upwards, but they were soon released from that position. They gathered and focused on a single point like a magnifying glass focusing the sun. They aimed at the puny boy who was now the greatest obstacle to be destroyed.
He lightly swung the battered right hand and even smiled as he called a name.
Immediately afterwards, something large struck Kihara Yuiitsu’s side even as the A.A.A. protected her. It was a human. It was a girl. Her long brown hair was roughly cut into something like fox ears.
However, something about her seemed off.
She had charged in like a four-legged beast rather than a human.
Also, Kihara Yuiitsu’s A.A.A. was her cutting-edge weapon gained by devouring so many Elements. It of course had direct firepower, but it also had to have many other features to assist in aiming and to divert impacts. In other words, it should have been difficult for anyone other than a mass murderer like Salome to get a clean surprise attack in on her.
To do that, they would have to know the A.A.A. better than Yuiitsu herself.
Did a certain name enter her mind?
He was a large dog that shined with a golden light.
He was an eternally inviolable researcher who loved cigars and romance above all else.
“Elza is a magician who controls ‘something like a’ Kokkuri. And a scientist might not be aware, but Kokkuri is spelled with the characters for fox, dog, and tanuki.”
“Tell us all about that stray dog. Depending on where he ended up, Elza might be able to summon him with a single ten yen coin.”
“Ah,” was all Kamijou managed to say.
He did not know where this caught at her soul, but Kihara Yuiitsu was in an abnormal state. Kamisato had known enough to grab at the scar, knowing full well what would happen. And he had said himself that this was “something like a” Kokkuri. That meant it was not actually one. Even if it was spelled with the characters for fox, dog, and tanuki, it was still only “something like” it. They could not actually summon a specific animal no matter how hard they tried.
But that did not matter.
Kamisato had said before that the trick when making a bluff was a lack of information and that your opponent would draw their own line between the unconnected dots you provided.
Their cage was complete.
And now that she had been shoved inside the invisible cell, Kihara Yuiitsu actually seemed pathetic.
Kamisato only had to call some names and the girls rushed in. Kihara Yuiitsu was helplessly knocked over along with her A.A.A. and the translucent parts were torn away one after another like ants swarming a doll made of sugar. The armor made of eyeball and claw-like parts, the various cannons, and the thick arms forming the wings were all torn away.
The girls of the Kamisato Faction all had a solid core as they followed the boy. That meant they lacked conflicting desires and thus the stolen World Rejecter was useless against them.
All of the weapons were held down, smashed, and torn away. While pinned to the ground, Kihara Yuiitsu stretched her head forward as if trying to bite at Kamisato Kakeru.
His response was simple.
He formed a fist with the bloody and battered woman’s hand sewn to his wrist.
“You can have this back.”
A dull sound burst out.
He did not care if the force of the blow broke the bones in the hand. He used all his strength to slam his fist into that monster’s jaw.
With her equipment taken, the full blow reached her physical body.
Her brain was shaken and her mind as a researcher and civilized human being grew cloudy.
The mad scientist groaned as she gasped for breath and desperately held onto her own consciousness, but Kamisato looked down at her and lightly waved his borrowed right hand.
“Kihara Yuiitsu. You made one fundamental misunderstanding.”
He spoke quietly down at the woman who could barely move.
“I wasn’t just better than you when it comes to using World Rejecter. …I don’t know your past, but I’ve sought vengeance longer than you as well. So I know very well just what someone like that is thinking.”
“And your inexperience was your undoing. Did the blood rush to your head when I insulted that stray dog? But that was wrong. Would your anger have cooled if I had apologized with tears in my eyes? Of course not. Even if those Magic Gods had begged for their lives and said they’d had a change of heart, I still would have erased them. That’s the only way to fulfill your revenge. Your target might also feel bad about it? They might say something kind? The instant you started thinking that, your revenge had failed.”
“So I’ll be taking that right hand back. It was mine to begin with and it only has meaning when wielded against the Magic Gods who gave it to me. I can’t let it create unnecessary victims in your hands.”
With that yell, a quiet sound came from Kihara Yuiitsu’s back teeth.
At the same time, Kamijou and the others were shaken by a low, heavy rumbling.
“Why do you think I chose this location, Mr. Experience? Let me show you my style of revenge.”
Kamijou silently looked up.
The ceiling high, high above was covered in metal cylinders that reminded him of icicles or stalactites. The bottom widened like a trumpet, so they may have been boosters that launched the Windowless Building into space like a rocket.
“It’s too late to escape now.”
Kihara Yuiitsu gave a mocking smile even after having everything stripped away from her.
“And as someone who knows revenge, I can tell something about you. You’ve started to waver, haven’t you? If revenge was really ‘all’ you wanted, you would be enraged at having your toy taken and you wouldn’t even think about damage to your surroundings! You’ve gained something else that makes you more than a machine dead-set on revenge!! You can no longer hold World Rejecter. You might even be blown away by your own power the instant you come into contact with the hand!!”
Her voice wavered harshly between strong and weak, but then it grew incredibly peaceful.
“Unlike you, revenge is ‘all’ I have.”
That broke a moment later.
She laughed loudly as if the meter had spun the other way.
“So I won’t hesitate to throw my own life away!! There is no emergency exit or shelter! Revenge isn’t difficult as long that’s all you want to accomplish. You just can’t take on extra objectives like you did.”
Kamisato Kakeru’s expression did not change.
And he once more slammed his stolen fist against Yuiitsu’s smiling face. With that solid sound, the mad vengeance-seeker rolled onto the ground as if he had hit her power switch.
The boosters would ignite soon. Once that happened, the entire space would be exposed to heat even more incredible than a crematory. There was not enough time to run away now. The long, long slope that they had descended was meant to allow the explosively expanding steam to escape. That meant leaving the large space would not bring them to safety. Steam of 100 degrees would catch up to them before they left the slope and their boiling flesh would create a truly hellish scene.
The earth seemed to tremble around them, but Kamisato Kakeru remained calmly silent.
He finally spoke.
“Claire…is up above in the fake A.A.A. Then anyone else who can do it, cut off her right hand and attach mine.”
One-armed Salome frantically interrupted.
She was an eccentric girl who had replaced her entire body with an artificial one without relying on Academy City. Her techniques might be able to attach his hand, but…
“You heard Kihara Yuiitsu, didn’t you!? Just touching World Rejecter could blow you away right now, don’tcha think!?”
“But that’s the only way to deal with the boosters overhead. I have to erase them with my power.”
“There are other ways to destroy them!”
“Destroying them will trigger an explosion. Erasing them is the only way.”
“…Eh? Wait a minute. You mean…eh?”
That arrogant mass murderer looked like someone who had assumed their family would always remain happy and then learned their parents were getting a divorce.
“Kamijou Touma, my tote bag.”
Kamijou handed it over but immediately regretted it.
The boy reached inside, pulled out a spray can, and aimed it at his sister.
The can was labelled “CO2 Icing Spray”.
“You goddamn stupid Onii-…!!!???”
She could not complete her frantic words.
The sound of the spraying did not last long.
“Knocking you out with a physical blow isn’t easy, but you still need to circulate oxygen and carbon dioxide to keep your brain functioning. Now, can you continue breathing in a cloud of highly concentrated carbon gas?”
The concentration of oxygen would not be that easily changed outside of a sealed tank, but the brown mass murderer was unfortunately wearing two raincoats over her swimsuit. The hood covering her head created a partially sealed space with little space for the gas to escape.
“A rapid change in oxygen concentration isn’t the same as being strangled. If all you need to do is knock someone out, this is a lot faster. Of course, go too far and it could have serious lasting effects on the brain.”
In around a dozen seconds, the mass murderer’s head wobbled. Unable to keep her balance, the girl who had displayed such frightening strength collapsed on the spot.
“I had secretly sworn to myself I would never use this method to stop you. Sorry I’m such an awful brother.”
“I won’t stop.”
Kamisato’s expression remained unchanged.
He looked around, confirmed that no one was stepping forward to volunteer their help, and grabbed Yuiitsu’s limp arm. He held a crystal fragment stabbed into the other hand like it was a blade.
It probably was not the sharpest tool, but he had decided it was enough to cut the thread sewing the hand on.
“Fine then. I’ll do it myself.”
No one stopped him.
There were around a hundred girls there and they trusted him enough to give up their lives if he told them to die, but even if they restrained him, they could only wait for the rocket boosters on the ceiling to ignite. This was the end for Kamisato Kakeru whether they stopped him or not, so they froze up, unsure what to choose.
The girls could not move and Salome’s short temper was hampered by her cloudy mind.
Who could still move?
There was only one option.
She could not get up and she could barely move, but Salome gave him an imploring look.
She looked to the other boy.
“Please. Punch that giant idiot right this instant and take that away from him. If you don’t, he’ll…my brother will…”
She sounded on the verge of tears.
She sounded like a small girl who had gotten separated from her family in an unfamiliar city.
When he found himself the target of her words, Kamijou was reminded why he was here.
He was not exactly friends with Kamisato Kakeru or the girls around him. He would never hand over Othinus for their revenge against the Magic Gods.
He had not considered that this last-second “waver” inside Kamisato had anything to do with him. That would mean the words and kindness directed at Kamisato had gradually built up in his heart and inadvertently helped Kihara Yuiitsu have her revenge.
There was a lot he wanted to say.
Don’t act like you know what you’re talking about. No one really wants to be annihilated. The girls here stood up and helped you, not your right hand. Do you really think they want a world without you?
But he could not say it.
He simply could not.
If he did and the words hit home inside Kamisato, it would only widen the cracks. The “waver” inside him would grow larger and larger, increasing the risk of him being rejected and erased by World Rejecter.
Trying to help him would kill him.
So Kamijou had to swallow the words. He had to force down the words that had risen from his chest to his throat. That was the only way to preserve the slightest chance that Kamisato would survive this.
He may have been overthinking it, but Kamijou found himself cursing something invisible.
“Was this all my fault? Was all your suffering my fault?”
“Ha ha. Not at all.”
With two snapping sounds, the blade passed through his and another’s wrists.
No one could sympathize with his actions, but the most normal smile imaginable remained on his face even as the blood splattered on his cheek.
“It’s true you didn’t accomplish anything decisive in this fight. You were useful, but another pawn might have done just as well. So that must not have been your role here. I think you’re still standing here because you needed to hear what I’m about to say.”
“What is that?”
He boy who knew its destructive power better than anyone did not hesitate to grab the severed hand. The “banishment” may have already begun at that point. But as if to make extra sure, he forced it into place against his wrist.
In the instant before the decisive destruction set in, he left behind a curse.
“Take care of these girls. Don’t worry. Isn’t that what you’ve always done?”
And he made the final attack.
There was no hellfire that was hotter than a crematory and there was no pandemonium of half-destroyed boosters exploding.
Only the frozen stillness of winter remained.
In that instant, a certain boy was erased from the world.