Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume19 Epilogue
Epilogue: A Throneless Demon Roars in Hell – the_Devil_“C”.
With her light returned, Human Aleister Crowley was devastating.
Even if it had happened when she had intentionally let herself sink to the bottom, Kamijou Touma could not believe he had once defeated this monster. That spiky-haired high school boy had the rare experience of seeing both a true Magic God and the Golden magicians at their peak, but that was exactly why he was so confused. If this human could do this, could she really be classified as a human? Why was she not known as a Magic God? He was having trouble getting a hold on the vague definition he had accepted.
Ending something through an act of salvation had to be dozens of times more difficult than ending it through an act of killing.
And Aleister had done it at Coronzon’s level.
Both Index and Karasuma Fran had been taken hostage.
Kamijou would have been at a loss as to what to do after that, but Aleister had mercilessly saved them both. The fearsome skill involved was apparent even to an amateur observer.
Every time she had failed or lost, she had definitely grown a bit stronger.
This was different again from Othinus who had lost her power as a god and been turned into a fairy after a battle that involved the entire world. Kamijou could not imagine defeating this human if they clashed again. …After all, she was at a level where she could perform accurate brain surgery in the middle of a battle against something as powerful as Coronzon. If he clenched his fist and challenged her with all his might, he could end up receiving a detailed full-body medical examination followed by a scolding for not getting enough to eat on a daily basis.
(I-it’s a good thing Mina contained Index in advance. Who knows what would’ve happened if she had tried to attack Aleister.)
That was when he heard a liquid dripping to the ground.
This was clearly different from the cold December rain.
The silver-haired girl had a hand over her mouth with a dark red liquid spilling out between her fingers.
“You are familiar with magic recoil, aren’t you? That is the spray created by the collisions between phases. I am not like Mathers or Westcott. When I contain that recoil in my body instead of allowing the sparks to escape to elsewhere in the real world, you have to expect something like this.”
“Don’t give me that look. This is the joyous proof that my power is not being a nuisance to anyone else.”
Aleister slowly took a deep breath to endure the pain.
Meanwhile, Index groaned in Kamjou’s arms. He could not imagine how bad the original grimoire’s toxin would be, but she had to have a high resistance to it. He could only pray that Mina Mathers was correct about the poison acting as a medicine.
The girl magician holding a baby sighed disinterestedly.
“If all went as planned, foolish Coronzon should be falling into our trap about now. I don’t know how much that will restrain her, but we need to make use of what time it does give us.”
“I am not optimistic enough to think something like World Rejecter will trap her for all eternity. I mean, if she could be thrown in there without using the owner’s right hand, then she can get out the same way.”
“Eh? World Rejecter? Is Kamisato causing trouble again!?”
It looked like the idiot’s idiocy was going to blame someone for something they did not do, but Aleister did not bother correcting him. It had been the Kamisato Faction that caused so much damage to Academy City, primarily with the microwave heat wave, and that was what allowed Coronzon to take Aleister by surprise. As usual, that failure had ultimately worked out in her favor since she had learned of her other daughter’s whereabouts and the name of the enemy she needed to defeat, but she probably still felt a need to get back at Kamisato in some way.
“Coronzon has free use of Lola Stuart as an avatar, so she will of course have used her position as Archbishop to give instructions in the Anglican Church’s name and embed some kind of trickery in the United Kingdom and the 53 nations of the Commonwealth bound to them by treaties. Until we dig up and dispose of all that, we cannot defeat Coronzon. Even if we temporarily drive her away, she will recover and attack again.”
“…Is it just me or did the scale of this just get a lot bigger?”
“We are talking about one of the three great Catholic churches. The more than a billion Aleister Crowleys who split off from me are currently attacking those nations. That should be enough for the various Commonwealth nations, but it is unknown if they can fully bring down England itself. To be absolutely certain, this me must leave Academy City and join the battle.”
“Hold on a second. Why did you just use an individual’s name alongside a number rivalling the population of China or India!? You can’t just all of a sudden increase the population of the earth by more than 10%!! That’ll introduce a whole bunch of problems like the food and oil supply!!”
Aleister held her empty hand to her mouth.
“Oh, dear,” she said with a straight face. “I seem to have screwed up again. I hadn’t thought it through that far.”
“Just to be sure, your whole life of constant failure wasn’t just due to you being extremely myopic and trying things without thinking them through, was it?”
This explained why the Mina Mathers supercomputer had been guiding Aleister until now. In fact, she had been that bad even with Mina’s guidance. If Mina did not strip off her mourning clothes and change into a maid uniform, the future of the human race was in trouble.
“That would make her a legit British maid with cat ears. But that’s all wrong for a young widow!! It’s as awful a combination as a vanilla and offal hotpot! There’s something wrong with this picture in my mind!”
“You seem to have some crossed wires in your brain. Now, you can train to be channeler if you wish, but if you do not learn to control yourself first, the spirits will control you.”
“No, wait. I shouldn’t just go with my immediate reaction. What if I imagine she’s a young woman trying to bear with that outfit as the embarrassing result of a punishment game? And what if – yes, just hypothetically – what if she was a dorm manager? So it would be Mina Mathers blushing, fidgeting, and unsure what to do with herself in that frilly outfit? My god, it’s beautiful! Why was I trying to stamp out this possibility with a hasty decision? I’m so stupid, stupid, stupid!!!!!”
“Hey, if you don’t come back to your senses soon, I’ll kiss you. With tongue.”
Once he received an unprecedented threat from a historical dirty old man, Kamijou’s mind was instantly dragged back to reality. In a way, he felt about as much fear as he had while chased around by the mummy High Priest. He knew this utter moron would not hold back even if she was holding her baby.
“Does this cruel reality really have more it wants to throw at me? I’ve had about enough of all this, so I just want to go home and get some sleep.”
“Don’t be silly. You need to make some preparations first, but you will be coming with me.”
“Excuse me?” replied Kamijou like it had to be a joke.
He truly did not want to believe it, but his doubts were soundly rejected.
Human Aleister clarified.
“Again, you will be joining the battle to conquer England so we can fully eradicate Coronzon. Sorry, but this has already been decided.”
“Umm, you shot me twice and I’ve been running around nonstop ever since. So what if I just say no?”
“A fair question. This me has no authority or assets…so I have no choice. I will just have to win you over with my body.”
…He could not let her surface appearance fool him. His heart was pierced by as great a shock as when he essentially saw that old mummy setting up a pillow that said “yes” on the front and “no” on the back.
One problem remained for Hamazura Shiage.
It was that object with a pale blue light flickering between the gaps of its armor.
“I still can’t seem to get it off. What am I supposed to do about this Processor Suit, Aneri!?”
“Takitsubo-shan! Yes, you can always count on your lovely girlfriend to be worried for-…”
“If you’re having trouble, you should probably just have Kinuhata or Mugino force it open with their powers.”
“Wait, you Santa from hell!! If I leave this to that human bulldozer and human tunnel boring machine, I’ll be torn up into scraps along with this mass of cutting-edge tech!! I can just see them tilting their heads in confusion when a dark red liquid oozes out from the gaps and it stops moving!!”
Hamazura and Takitsubo whispered to each other like a couple in love as they watched a cosplay woman in a bizarre combination of mourning clothes and cat ears cut across the hospital parking lot.
“Surely there’s a lever or handle somewhere,” said Takitsubo.
“I’ve searched all over and haven’t found anything.”
“Um, young lady? Don’t crouch down between my legs like that. It makes for quite the visual from this angle!!”
“There’s a small hole here. Only about a millimeter.”
“Eh? There? How embarrassing! …And how am I supposed to interpret this? Like lovers searching out each other’s moles???”
“It’s like the thing for forcing open a CD tray when it’s stuck.”
“Wait, don’t shove a straightened hairpin in there! That’s not a smartphone’s SIM card, so it’s not just going to pop out so easi-…”
With several sounds of something being cut with an arc welder, all the armor came apart and Hamazura Shiage made his debut.
The pale light running across various parts of the armor had entirely vanished and it must have been lined with detonating cords because accurate lines of orange sparks raced along it instead.
That might sound ridiculous, but it was meant for emergency removal. If it was too complex to reach in a time of need, it would have been useless.
However, that was not the most important point for Hamazura and Takitsubo.
Santa Girl Takitsubo Rikou had crouched down with no concern for her miniskirt in order to check near the guy’s crotch and Hamazura Shiage had just appeared in front of her in only his underwear.
They should have considered it. Hadn’t A. O. Francisca – that is, Karasuma Fran – appeared from her Processor Suit as a bikini girl despite the winter season? And she had had a legitimate reason for that: so the suit could read the electrical signals in the surface of her skin. The foreshadowing had been there!!
And with that part of his anatomy shoved in front of her face, Takitsubo-chan the Busty Santa spoke in a low voice.
“Wait, this wasn’t my fault! I really don’t like the way you’re holding that straightened hairpin there! What are you planning to do to me!?”
“I’m not sure I buy your concern when you’re getting kind of cheerful down here…”
“No, wait! Really, I’m serious, just waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!!!!!”
His screams echoed into the late night sky.
Index and Karasuma Fran had been released from Coronzon’s grasp and Aleister had overcome many hardships to receive her daughter Lilith’s life from Aiwass.
They all lived happily ever after.
That was how it looked, but the world was not so kind.
“…Is that them?”
Someone stood on the asphalt as cold rain poured down through the December night.
It was a white-haired and red-eyed monster.
He was Academy City’s #1 Level 5, Accelerator.
“I have no idea how this happened and I don’t really care what tricks you’ve used. But the board chairman who’s been running Academy City from the very top is this silver-haired brat, right?”
Hamazura Shiage also slowly walked over.
The presence or absence of the Processor Suit meant little here. The cold December rain was hard to bear in nothing but his underwear, but he knew he had to give this top priority.
Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, and Hamazura Shiage.
The three of them exchange a glance in the chilly night.
Then there was a dull sound of scraping metal.
Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage had both pulled a weapon on Aleister.
Academy City’s #1 held a light military handgun that looked like a toy since it was made from layered plastic.
The former Skill-Out leader must have been worried about the Swords and Firearms Control Law because he stepped on the plastic cover on the end of a broken umbrella on the ground, pulled straight up on the grip, and exposed a piece of sharp metal. It was a makeshift rapier meant for stabbing.
Both of them were deadly weapons capable of taking this soft girl’s life.
This was no time to be worrying about the pain of his injuries. Without thinking, Kamijou Touma stood protectively in front of the silver-haired girl holding a baby.
“Hey…what are you thinking!?”
“Answer me this: What reason do you have to protect them?” Accelerator clenched his teeth while he stood in the icy December rain with his modern design cane. “Academy City Board Chairman Aleister is the orchestrator of all the tragedy in this city. They’re the source of all the blood and guts splattered through the back alleys here! I don’t know what they were planning, but if they hadn’t tried to make it happen, none of this tragedy would’ve happened!”
“You can’t just write off everything they’ve done because ‘all’s well that ends well’. Whether you were blinded by greed or were nudged in that direction by someone, everyone is carrying something like that. We’re living on despite the suffering. You can’t just set that burden aside because it’s heavy!! You have to face it! Face yourself, you son of a bitch!! If you can’t do that, I’ll grab you by the hair and make you look! It’s the same damn thing you’ve done to so many other people!!”
Kamijou had his back to Aleister and thus could not see the look on her face. He glanced in the direction of the black cat witch who stood a short distance away, but she only shook her head. Even if she was going to stay with Aleister Crowley, she was not going to erase all the hatred and grudges that human had earned.
The boy gulped and looked to Hamazura who was also wielding a weapon.
“…Is that how you see it too?”
“You’re the one that protected Lilith all this time, right? Would you not have saved her in the first place if you’d known she was Aleister’s kid!?”
The heavy silence that followed felt like having lead poured into his gut.
The sound of the rain seemed like enough to burst his eardrums.
But finally, Hamazura Shiage moved while holding his makeshift rapier created by removing the protective plastic cover from the tip of a broken umbrella.
He broke the already-broken umbrella frame in half.
And he shoved the two sharp ends toward Kamijou Touma and Accelerator’s faces.
They both glared intensely back at him, but he could not take it back now. He slowly took a breath and then spoke.
“…I honestly don’t care either way.”
“You went this far when you don’t even-…!!”
“Yeah, I’m fine being just one of the masses. It’s not like I have the power to protect or destroy the world. All I have is one puny vote. But I’ll use that vote to its fullest. I’ll shove it right into the middle of your conflict. You’re stuck at 50 vs. 50, so I’ll cast the final vote that decides the whole damn thing!!”
The sweaty boy in just his underwear looked to the silver-haired girl behind Kamijou.
“I only have one demand. I want some kind of insurance other than the Parameter List file that was lost during the heat wave. I want some kind of amnesty that will protect me, Takitsubo, Item, and the others!! Something that will protect us from the dark side!! Say yes and I’ll risk my life to protect you. Say no and I’ll take in Lilith and let you die. Make your choice, board chairman!!”
To repeat, Kamijou could not see Aleister’s expression while standing in front of her.
But there was clear mockery in the breath that reached his ears.
“How convenient for you.”
“…Is that your answer?”
“But a demand has no value if you lack the ability to grant your end of the bargain. But fine. If you will follow me, then I will grant you your extraordinary request. Make sure to fight hard enough to make up for the part of your promise you cannot grant on your own.”
Then something happened that surprised even Kamijou.
The silver-haired girl stepped out in front of the spiky-haired boy who had supposedly been her shield. She pushed Lilith into Hamazura’s arms and then unhesitatingly walked right up to Academy City’s #1.
“This one step alone is not part of my plan.”
“Look, this is the world ‘outside the mastermind’s wishes’ you so longed for. Welcome to the end of the children’s rules. Now, what will you do? From here on, you cannot shift blame for any of your actions. You must bear responsibility for your own actions. With that in mind, let me ask you something: what do you want to do with that gun and your powers?”
“…You’ve convinced me of one thing.”
Accelerator’s voice was even icier than the December rain.
And that monster aimed the gun upwards as he spoke.
“There would be no point in doing anything now. I’ll remind you what fear is. Only then will I settle this.”
“As you wish.”
Did it make her a monster to bow so elegantly in front of that monster?
It had all seemed ridiculous, so Kamijou had let a lot of it slide. But there was clearly something dangerous about the way Aleister had readily entered a hotel or sauna as a silver-haired girl. That magician used her own failures, defeats, setbacks, and losses to help herself grow, but she never did calculate out the actual risk any of it would place on herself.
They were in agreement.
And the great magician who was willing to violate any taboo whispered in a sweet voice that dragged all who heard it into a bottomless bog.
That girl spoke the name of the abyss.
“Next stop: England. Let’s draw out all our strength and go on a rampage.”
“Abh, hh, abhahh…!!!??”
Somewhere in Academy City, a portion of the perfectly normal scenery split apart and an arm burst out. It sank down, rose back up, and then pulled out a face and torso along with it. At that point, several arms grabbed at the hair and clothing and dragged it all back down again.
Even so, that being had returned.
Avatar Lola Stuart.
And Coronzon within.
With multiple Magic Gods clinging to her like the sludge of a bottomless bog, she had taken one last large step to force her way back from World Rejecter’s shifted timeline.
“Oh, crap! We got carried away and played around a little too much!”
“Oh, dear…. This is not good. The crack has sealed back up.”
A modified mini-China dress girl with pale skin and a sexy woman with bandages wrapped around her brown skin had been dragged up with her. Those two sounded panicked for once, but it was too late now. They had made so many compromises to reach that catastrophic paradise, but the door had already sealed up tight.
Lola gasped for breath with them tangled around and clinging to her.
And she sensed someone’s gaze on her.
Someone was looking down on her as she tried to gather her strength and stand up like a newborn fawn.
Their appearance had entirely changed.
The fact that they were now a young girl felt very immature.
But Coronzon immediately saw through it.
“Oh, would you look at that. It seems I have an absolute victory on my hands for once. How about I give you the throne of the needy while we are at it? I mean, with you back, Academy City is in a precarious position. It really is no laughing matter for me.”
“Shut it, you hip-thrusting animal. Your failures and defeats change nothing. I am the one who watches it all and laughs.”
“It’s quite sad seeing a nude ape pointing and laughing at me. It doesn’t even make me angry or exasperated. I just feel sad for you. Did you really think I would simply hand over Academy City if I could have predicted this would happen?”
Then something happened.
With a deep noise, the lights illuminating the dark night were all extinguished.
The Great Demon was dumbfounded and the human sneered down at her.
Yes, it was now Aleister’s turn to laugh.
She toyed with a stamp-sized flash memory card between her fingers.
“You tried to take control of the Bank using A. O. Francisca, but it was Hamazura Shiage who ultimately gained the parent device. When he purged the whole thing without asking, I will admit I panicked and thought I had failed yet again, but that exposed the circuitry inside and allowed me to find the port for plugging in this flash memory. So I used that to send out a virus that shut down every last computer. Yes, that general word gets the idea across a lot better than a more specific one like malware or worm, doesn’t it? Just like Holy Guardian Angel or Great Demon.”
“You can’t really give a virus an overall rank, but I feel confident calling this one the most brutally wide-scale there is since it brought down the entire network while Misaka Mikoto’s cyber attacks would only break through one targeted barrier. Yes, this affected both Academy City and all the cooperative organizations scattered around the world. Well, I left enough leeway for the medical and research equipment and to ensure the astronauts in the satellites aren’t harmed. Yes, that means this blackout has not abandoned any of the badly injured, so don’t worry about that. I made sure to build in a failsafe for that by basing it on field hospital construction techniques. I will do this right. So you only have to focus on lamenting your own bad luck. After all, this means all your research data and next-generation weapons are entirely unusable.”
What did that mean?
Aleister savored the look of dawning realization on her archenemy’s face.
“This is not something you can solve by brute forcing a random number table. Human or not, any mind but mine would need 20,000 years to fully eliminate this virus. Oh, and don’t worry about Lilith’s physical vessel. I can create that even without the equipment here. Now, then. Given this result, I think it is time for an announcement: Because the citywide blackout cannot be fixed anytime soon, all residents are to evacuate the affected area to ensure a minimum standard of living for the students. …Now you cannot stop the exodus of the city’s greatest success: the people. No matter how comfortable the city is, these are teenage boys and girls. If they are free to leave and they have no functioning bathrooms here, no one will want to stay. Especially when they only just recalled what comfort is like after recovering from the heat wave. It would have been one thing if this was the first time, but having it taken away again now will be hard to bear. I will also have the Sisters and Fuse Kazakiri scatter, hide, and escape your grasp. But not to worry. Now that I have dealt with Aiwass’s fixation, I can manage a short gap. Do you understand what all this means?”
“It can’t be…”
“As I said before, I will give you Academy City. Assuming, that is, you have any need for a deserted and desolate ghost town without a single bit of accessible data.”
She raised her leg high despite her short skirt.
“I came to understand some things in the fight against A. O. Francisca. First, your possession is a threat, but Karasuma Fran proved that your avatars’ lives are not fully snuffed out. Second, since you bothered to come back, you must care about Lola’s body. …In other words, some of it remains there, no matter how faint it might be. And don’t even bothering asking what I am talking about. Honestly, if you weren’t so damn unkillable, I would have failed yet again. For that alone, I must thank you.”
She held her leg above Lola’s head while she was pinned down by multiple Magic Gods and unable to move.
“This is a declaration of war.”
Now that she had decided to oppose Lola, she showed no mercy.
“I will take back my daughter. So wait for me in your lonely castle, you filthy bug.”
With that said, Aleister Crowley stomped hard on the Great Demon’s head.