Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume1 Chapter1
Chapter 1: A Peaceful Academy City Without "Him". City.
This was a place that was developed from the undeveloped land of western Tokyo. It was one-third the size of Tokyo, and there was a tall wall surrounding it. Eighty percent of its population of 2.3 million consisted of students. Besides being the pinnacle city of academia and the ubiquitous all-around study of science and technology, there was another side to it - the esper development institution that was achieved through artificial means and scientific processes.
Targeted at the students, the "powers" developed would differ into many types according to each person’s scenario. Each ability would then be sorted according to the ability’s value, power, and practicality, into six different levels: Level 0 (People with No Powers), Level 1 (People with Weak Powers), Level 2 (People with Unusual Powers), Level 3 (People with Strong Powers), Level 4 (People with Great Powers), and Level 5 (People with Super Powers).
As a side note, Hamazura Shiage was a Level 0.
Strictly speaking, he had no power that was visible to the naked eye, though he might have a very weak power he wasn't aware of. It seemed like the vague existence where the Level 0 espers stood.
But it was too early to despair just like that.
This man had the rarest experience of passing through the most intense area during World War III. Also, he had the experience of beating the #4 Level 5 by himself. He managed to live through the battle and chaos in the world for the girl he loved, so right now, he had slightly surpassed the status of being an ordinary high school student.
The man who protected a village in an intense warzone from being overrun by Russian forces, fought back several assassins from Academy City, and returned from the battlefield with great rewards.
But for this End of the Century Emperor Hamazura to return to ordinary everyday life…
"Hamazura!! How long do you need to buy that sports drink!?"
The girl whose shout echoed throughout the restaurant caused Hamazura Shiage, who had several glass cups in his hand, to jerk his shoulders suddenly.
(…Nothing, nothing changed at all!! Even though all that happened, my life hasn’t changed one bit!!)
Though the End of the Century Emperor complained as he was converted back into a mess boy, this was life. No matter how much battle experience he gained, a minor character could only move on as a minor character.
As a side note, the one who prompted for a drink was Mugino Shizuri.
It would take a long time for us to discuss her story, but anyway, she was the #4 Level 5. She was a girl with a tall and slender figure to go with her soft brown hair. One-third of her face was artificially treated with cosmetics, and one of her eyeballs was fake.
There were two other girls sitting around the table.
One of them was Kinuhata Saiai. This short, short-haired middle schooler was wearing a woolen dress. She was a girl that zealously believed in revealing her thighs, often researching ways to unknowingly but definitely reveal them.
The other was Takitsubo Rikou, the girl who had gone out to watch the movie with Hamazura just now. If one really had to define her characteristics, it was her black shoulder-length hair and the pink sports jacket that she would always wear.
Kinuhata seemed to be viewing a forum through her cell phone, but quickly got bored of things like "reconstruction of the warzones in Russia and Academy City is deploying troops". She tossed her cell phone away and focused on the French fries on the huge plate. Kinuhata then tossed a fry into her mouth and used her other hand to gently stroke the special makeup on Mugino’s face.
“…I super can’t tell even when we’re so close right now. Forget about the wound; I can’t even see the eye bag. What kind of unique cosmetic surgery is this? It’s just like it got photo edited; I can’t even super tell the difference!”
“Since I won’t sweat, my pores won’t change normally. The skin color won’t change according to temperature, and there won’t be any goosebumps. I can already feel the difference just by staying around in normal environments. Even if it’s too refreshing, it’s not something that one can feel close about…Wait, why were you rattling on about special cosmetics?”
“Well, in this era that uses CG effects to super add moles or scars or wings or horns, it’s amazing that they can even use special cosmetics to create such an effect. My burning passion movie fan blood is past boiling point already!! I can already feel my blood super burn up by watching those old slasher and splatter movies!”
(…I don’t really want to approach them…)
Hamazura thought honestly, but if they kept that up, a certain person may really tear off her makeup and become a homicidal maniac.
However, when he delivered the drinks...
“You’re too slow, Hamazura!! And what’s this!? Put ice in it properly! Wouldn’t the drinks not remain chilled when you brought them over!? It’s a basic beverage rule to redo it!!”
“Ah, don’t be like this. Hamazura is super Hamazura, after all. Besides, it’ll take quite a while to redo it. As adults, we have to super endure it, you know.”
“Seems like I got bad-mouthed heavily.”
Hamazura sighed and turned to look at the only girl who was not attacking him.
“Since they have so many things to grumble about, regarding that, my princess who isn’t complaining at all is still my best partner, right, Takitsubo? Takitsubo?”
Hamazura looked like he was searching for the final straw of life as he said that to his girlfriend. But right now, her eyes were wide open and not moving at all.
“S-sleeping!? The date that lasted until just now must have made you tired, right!?”
“Well, since she went out with Hamazura, it super can’t be helped, right? It’d be weird if she didn’t feel bored.”
"It's because you recommended that movie! You actually recommended such a stupid movie!!"
“At the climax right before the end, the super huge image of the Indian elephant jumping together with all the members was the super best. Right, Hamazura?”
“That’s the hardest part to understand…”
The nonsensical crazed movie fan Kinuhata seemed to be unable to understand Hamazura’s feelings as he cupped his head.
She took a sip from the drink that Hamazura had brought over, and said with 100% dissatisfaction, “…Like what Mugino super said, this temperature far exceeds what a drink should be. I unhappily super propose a punishment game.”
After that, Mugino gently picked the tableware beside her that had deep-fried butter salmon (sort of like a metallic frying pan), and said in a ridiculous tone that sounded like one selling a cute cat, “Then~ How about we take turns slapping Hamazura-chan on the face~?”
"Stop using such a sickeningly scary voice!! Anyway, I'm severely affected by just that icy tone of yours! You're making me all chilly in the back!!"
Hamazura inadvertently shouted out in agony, but in contrast, Kinuhata just sighed slightly.
“No way. That’ll just super praise Hamazura. That guy will only be thinking of making people wear naked aprons or anything super sexually stimulating.”
"This is such a terrifying household!! You two, I'll get goose bumps if I have to hear the word 'family', got it!? Besides, it's extremely difficult to even think of a naked body in that situation!!"
Sitting opposite, Kinuhata covered her ears with an irritated expression on her face in response to Hamazura’s roars. But maybe because her elbow touched it, the third-rate movie ticket that was placed on the table fell down Kinuhata’s knee, and landed on the floor.
“Why is it my fault again!!? …Got it, got it, I’ll pick it up, I’ll pick it up, okay!? So please don’t go about using your Level 4 powers at will inside this shop!!”
Mr. Laborer Hamazura Shiage sighed as he got down below the table. He spotted the target, the thin ticket, immediately. There were the words "Wildman’s N Zombie Escape Madness". Was this the original title or some randomly translated gibberish? Not interested in this movie at all, Hamazura looked away from the movie ticket.
And then, it was right in front of him.
The scene of Kinuhata Saiai's thighs that had the mini-woolen skirt and the cute piece of cloth covering the base were right in front of Hamazura.
It was right there.
A man who could live both his personal and work life to the fullest and could handle anything unexpected could probably touch someone else's thighs and play it off as a joke.
But Hamazura was super Hamazura.
With unlimited shock, he jumped upwards.
With a crash, the idiot banged his head against the table, knocking it upwards.
The victims were Mugino Shizuri, who was carelessly holding her drink with one hand, and Takitsubo Rikou, who was sleeping with her eyes wide open.
The more accurate way to describe it was that the drink in Mugino’s cup drenched Takitsubo.
Takitsubo widened her eyes and gradually gathered her focus.
“She didn’t manage to collect enough information, and she doesn’t look sleepy at all. Seems like she’s thinking of me as the culprit no matter what. Why must I have these things happen around me?”
Shakily standing up after getting the ticket from under the table, Hamazura witnessed something shocking.
Takitsubo, completely drenched, muttered something as she took off her sports jacket.
Under the sports jacket were two hills forced down by a single undershirt.
“(…As expected, they’re big.)”
“(…No, in the overall sense, my super body figure is better.)”
“(…Oh, no, got to calm down.)”
Only Takitsubo was looking around with those blurry eyes of hers.
Without any emotional expression, she said, “It’s about time we leave, isn’t it?”
“Yeah… well. We finished the small bites; we’re about to enter the super main point soon.”
Mugino looked somewhat bored, replying simply with a voice that didn’t fit her personality.
Hamazura stood up.
“So, you know where the place is?”
“About that, I super checked it before. But speaking of which, it super only exists in District 10.”
“Then let’s go, shall we?” said Mugino in a cold tone.
Hamazura carefully probed the tone.
“Is it all right?”
They were originally members of a small group called "Item", however, the team was no longer complete. One person who was supposed to be there was missing.
As if she was trying to emphasize the peace with this absentee, Mugino murmured softly.
“…Let's hurry and visit Frenda's grave.”
The moment they met again, she first gave him a fierce punch.
After that, she hugged him tightly.
The strongest Level 5 who came back from the heated warzone of World War III, Accelerator, was treated with such a feeling.
As a side note, the one who punched him and hugged him was the female teacher in sports attire called Yomikawa Aiho.
Accelerator was currently residing in her apartment.
His unique white hair did not have any color in it, and his abnormally red eyes had the presence of a beast. His thin, line-like body was supported by a modernistic cane, but it was unlikely to contribute to the "skinny" impression that Accelerator gave off.
His body was thoroughly trained through the latest of scientific influences, he was a weapon called a Level 5.
No matter whether it was punching him or hugging him, there were likely only a few people in Academy City who could do such a "human" thing to him.
There were some examples of those people inside the spacious apartment.
“Ah!! Why is there an attack of intense distorted light from front, back, left, right, up, down, all directions!? says Misaka as Misaka is trembling on seeing this terrifying stereo!!”
The girl who looked about ten, Last Order, shouted some strange words as she grabbed onto the gamepad tightly with both hands.
“Kukuku, the lasers are Misaka’s final trump card to prevent you from running around... Large Laser!!”
That was Misaka Worst. She was a girl whose appearance was that of a high school student and had a similar face as Last Order, though she looked like a darker version.
“…Is that another clone that was produced in a plan I didn’t know of…?”
Looking somewhat surprised by Misaka Worst’s presence was the female researcher Yoshikawa Kikyou.
Speaking of which, because of several things that had happened, Misaka Worst's arm was fractured. Even so, she was holding the handle of the gamepad with one hand as she continued to swamp Last Order who was holding the gamepad with both hands (the disadvantageous L and R toggles were ignored).
This was the solo performance of Misaka Worst, who for some reason was wearing a pink-white ao dai.
“Ohh, if so, Misaka will use the Misaka Network created by the Misaka brainwaves to issue a command! says Misaka as Misaka tries to, but why isn’t it working!?”
“Fufufu, the Third Season project had all sorts of mechanisms put inside Misaka’s body to resist your command.”
Both of them continued in their own conversation.
“Speaking of which, where did you get that ethnic costume? asks Misaka as Misaka tries to inquire.”
“? Really? Is this Misaka’s memory not stored inside the Misaka Network because of the command resistance?”
“I gave it to her.”
The researcher Yoshikawa replied for Misaka Worst who didn’t look like she intended to answer given the evil look on her face.
“I won it in a lucky draw, but the measurements don’t really fit me.”
So that was why Misaka Worst, who had that evil and mocking look on her face, had this pink and white clothing. But that wasn’t what Last Order was complaining about.
“…And she’s showing off an adult’s chest, says Misaka as Misaka tries to remain alert.”
“I’m not talking about that; I’m talking about all the factors, including the waist and the hips. Speaking of which, if we’re just talking about bust, isn’t that child’s bigger?”
Last Order then looked away from the gaming console screen and silently stared at the girl in the ao dai beside her, Misaka Worst.
She then said, “Let’s hope so, says Misaka as Misaka tries to clench her fist.”
“No, Misaka was created from the Third Season project, so the growth accelerant should be different, right?”
Last Order angrily slammed the gamepad, but her character in the screen continued to be pummeled.
Seeing the two girls talking to each other disharmoniously, Yomikawa frowned.
She turned to Accelerator, who was lying on the sofa, and asked, “So, who’s the high school girl? Is she the kid’s elder sister?”
The one who answered wasn’t Accelerator, but Misaka Worst.
While waiting for the outcome of the game battle, the girl turned her head to where Yomikawa was and closed one eye.
Using a tone that seemed to indicate that she was treating everyone as an idiot, she said, "The question is, will Misaka become that kid's younger sister?"
It was a database that safeguarded Hamazura Shiage, who clashed against the dark side of Academy City, and the people around him. Hamazura considered how much damage it could cause to Academy City if it were used differently, but at the same time, he knew that he couldn’t get away with it.
Originally, there was a two or three decade gap in technology between Academy City and the "outside", and there was a lot of information that the research institutes didn’t want to release within the city. Even if one were to collect information, the system would definitely pick up extremely sensitive information.
Besides, Hamazura didn’t intend to.
His goal wasn’t to take down Academy City, but to live a peaceful life there.
In order to ensure his own safety, he even had the option to leave the city.
But right now, he wasn’t ready to make that move yet.
The girl whose life was more important than his own, Takitsubo Rikou, had to undergo treatment in Academy City because of a certain incident.
There were many equipment and facilities in Academy City that other cities didn’t have. There were wind-powered electrical generators, security and cleaning robots on patrol, and food production factories meant for livestock and agriculture everywhere in the city.
However, there were other differences as well.
In this city, there were overwhelmingly few cemeteries.
Eighty percent of the population staying here were students who had left their parents to stay in the dorms. Even if they were dead (because of cremation disposal, it was impossible to guarantee a DNA verification), their corpses would normally be returned to the parents. In other words, there was no basic requirement to have a graveyard here.
The only graveyard in Academy City was located in District 10, and its shape was similar to that of an elevator-equipped multi-story parking garage.
It was a structure that used the power of elevators to automatically pass the miniature tombstone that had the cinerary casket within it. For this to work, the input of a number was required in the small space that was separated by the clapboard like a shooting range.
As long as the thick waterproof tray allowed it, any flowers and gifts were allowed. But when the system detected any microbes, once it passed a certain limit, it would be dumped into the trash automatically.
As was mentioned earlier, it was rare to find the ashes of students here.
In other words, it was likely that the dead who were placed here had no name at all.
Criminals, abandoned ones known as Child Errors, and those involved in the dark side who had been erased from the "surface".
“…That Mugino is so slow.” muttered Hamazura.
They hadn’t entered the "graveyard" tower, but were sitting at the bench near the entrance, which didn’t carry any sentimental feeling. Most likely, it was a place to let people smoke, but the ashtray that no one was using increased the loneliness.
Mugino was the only one who had entered the graveyard.
The one person who had personally killed Frenda was Mugino herself.
Most likely, there were a lot of words to be said.
There was no intention to listen to what she had to say, nor was there an intention to peek at her face.
Hamazura lazily looked up at the sky and said, “What did Frenda like when she was alive?”
The one who answered was Takitsubo, who was sitting beside him.
Kinuhata also sighed. “She super liked to eat canned mackerel. She used to not worry about money.”
There was still a little uncomfortable feeling about describing someone in the past tense.
Did they wish for this to disappear, or not?
Hamazura was still too immature to decide.
The video game ended in Misaka Worst’s overwhelming victory, and Last Order was left pouting as she put the gamepad down.
Last Order, who had the appearance of a ten-year-old, rolled about on the floor.
She pointed at a certain part of Misaka Worst and said, “Those breasts diverted Misaka’s attention, says Misaka as Misaka tries to analyze the reason for her defeat.”
“Hey, mocking other people’s features to vent your own anger. Misaka really feels that the commander’s one of the Misakas. Your personality is so dark, so dark☆”
Even though Misaka Worst was taunting her, Last Order didn’t mind. She turned to the cloning researcher beside her, Yoshikawa Kikyou.
“Please tell Misaka what Misaka has to eat to grow that big, says Misaka as Misaka wants an open report.”
“Everyone’s eating the same thing, they’re all made by Aiho.”
Aiho, who was also the owner of the apartment, was the PE teacher, Yomikawa Aiho.
Though she was a not-so-glamorous-looking middle-aged woman wearing a green sports jacket…to Last Order, there was no need to look at any other parts when a woman had huge breasts and could be considered as having a nice body.
“It’s unreasonable… says Misaka as Misaka is amazed that nutrition is unable to explain the difference.”
“Oh, my, this is the result of everyone eating the same thing. Doesn’t this give you the same possibility?”
“So there’s no need for you to worry. You’re already growing at a different rate from ordinary humans. Once time passes to make up for it, I’m sure that you’ll grow up to have quite the lovely body.”
Yoshikawa’s words made Last Order reveal a look as if she was bathing under a healing light.
At that moment...
Something fell out of Yoshikawa’s arms.
It was a strange-looking health product.
It was an item that used something similar to a belt to wrap around the body, but on the surface, it looked like something designed to change a part of the female’s body forcefully.
In other words.
The thing looked like a breast enlargement machine.
Having seen the dirty side of an adult, Last Order showed a dejected look.
Then, she trembled as she opened her small mouth.
“…You just said something about ‘naturally’ growing a lovely body just now, right? asks Misaka as Misaka tries to confirm.”
“Ho, hohoho. Actually, no, this is just something that my university friend asked me to check, since I’m a researcher. Seems like this thing’s a fake product of science…”
"Misaka won't be tricked by the lies of an adult!! exclaims Misaka as Misaka tries to reach for that thing!!"
“No, you can’t, Last Order!! That’s a dangerous machine that’ll blow up the chest if it’s not a mature woman using it!!”
"Which is why Misaka will not be fooled by those words!! exclaims Misaka as Misaka tries to stop you! If you have a mature woman's body, you don't need that device!!"
Being left aside, Misaka Worst spoke to Accelerator, who was lying on the sofa.
“Biology researchers are unexpectedly attracted to those suspicious goods. Speaking of which, is it all right not to stop them from creating such a ruckus?”
His first concern was the irritating noise as he went to sleep again. Then, seemingly as a mediator, the huge-breasted master of the house, the teacher Yomikawa Aiho, stepped in between Yoshikawa Kikyou (who was joking about) and Last Order (who was arguing about being tricked).
“All right, all right, cut it out. Isn’t this something that Kikyou’s complaining about not working? Speaking of which, there’s also that slimming machine that can cause the body to change. It’s about time for me to step in and deal with those messed-up habits of yours.”
After saying that, Yomikawa took away the breast enhancement device that both of them were fighting over.
"The one person who doesn't need this took away the light of hope!! exclaims Misaka as Misaka shudders!"
“No, you can’t, Aiho! If your breast level is enhanced with the machine, this world will collapse-Ah!!”
But the situation developed in a way that they did not expect.
“…Eh? I didn’t do anything, so why is smoke coming out without warning?”
“Maybe the remaining breast power went in reverse, says Misaka as Misaka trembles in front of this unknown phenomenon!!”
“Is this unscientific… suuu!?!? How is it possible!? But if it’s Aiho, or that!!”
Yoshikawa was wavering in her belief of science due to this shocking scene.
As a side note, among the females, only Misaka Worst wasn’t interested in the machine.
Accelerator continued to maintain his sleeping position and asked, “You’re not joining in?”
"I'd be interested if you'd get big breasts if they attached it to you."
District 10, in front of the cemetery in Academy City.
Just as Hamazura, Takitsubo, and Kinuhata were having their rather hollow conversation, the door to the graveyard opened. Hamazura and company turned to see Mugino walking towards them.
Her expression didn’t change.
There was no sign of her crying, and her eyes didn’t look red.
Even so, something had definitely happened inside.
And as for what had happened, she didn’t want Hamazura and the rest to notice it.
“Is it over?”
Facing Hamazura’s question, Mugino just gave a simple answer.
In reality, nothing may be over.
But Mugino still said it.
It was like she was trying to isolate it.
On a side note.
Though it was not suitable to reveal that they were remaining quiet, the land in District 10 was the cheapest in Academy City, and it was because this place was famous for having the worst security. The only graveyard was located there because many companies refused to set up shop there, and finally, after a long turnaround, it settled in this backdrop.
Thus, since he looked like he was bringing three youthful girls there (actually, it was the other way around), Hamazura Shiage-kun naturally became the bull's-eye for the delinquents gathered around.
“Which one would be faster: bus or train?”
Just as Hamazura was talking to them, five guys appeared in front of them, blocking them.
If this were a team of troopers, this group of delinquents would look like some hero fighter. The only guy facing them, Hamazura gave them a threatening look, probably to dampen their enthusiasm or gain the right to talk or something.
“Hooooollllld it right there, money kid. We’re working right now, so can you please help us? Our work is just to beat people up badly and settle the debt, that’s all.”
“Whether you say anything or not as you hand your money to us, we’ll beat you up good; whether you run or beg for mercy, we’ll still beat you up. You understand the situation now?”
(Damn it… This is a huge problem.)
Though they were teenagers who were only treating death as something trivial, Hamazura himself wasn’t some superhero, so his body trembled inadvertently. The second one was especially dangerous; from the way he looked and how he was squatting down, it seemed like he was a professional at this. To fight on the road, where there was no referee or soft mat, he was even more dangerous right now to toss people, strangle the enemy’s neck, or wring the joints than those stupid amateurs who would use blunt weapons or knives. Hamazura understood that from firsthand experience.
On the other hand, Hamazura was rather relieved. Since they relied on fighting techniques, it was likely that this group of delinquents were like him in that they became delinquents because they had no ability. If they weren’t dirty people who could manipulate gravity such that they would increase the effect to ten times that of a wrestler’s throw, they couldn’t be considered the scariest kind in Academy City, right?
Besides, forget about Takitsubo; Mugino and Kinuhata, who were also with him, were of the scariest kind in Academy City.
Mugino was the #4 Level 5, and Kinuhata was a Level 4 who could even handle a sniper war. The delinquents were basically fighting against a stationary tank or bomber jet. No matter whether the enemy was the number one foul freestyle wrestler, or a judo master who could toss man-eating bears aside, they wouldn’t even be opponents for Mugino and Kinuhata.
“…Hey, don’t be like this.”
Hamazura was honestly trying to advise the delinquents who were looking to cause trouble as he said that with agony.
Naturally, he ended up in End of the Century mode as he continued.
“Kids. I’m sincerely saying this for your own good, so remember everything that I say, or else I can’t guarantee that you’ll remain alive… In this world, there are certain realms that you can’t interfere with. You’re already one step away from that guy. One more step, and that distance will doom all of you. If you can identify that person, hurry up and scram!”
For some reason, Mugino and Kinuhata exchanged weird looks with each other.
“My. How terrifying~ Save me, Hamazura.”
The meaning behind these charming voices was unknown.
Then, Mugino and Kinuhata grabbed onto Hamazura’s arms, seemingly about to clamp them for some unknown reason.
Knowing what they intended, Hamazura suddenly felt goose bumps.
However, the five delinquents and Takitsubo Rikou seemed to believe in the performance, not knowing whether it was true or not. The girl in the sports jacket also seemed to get competitive all of a sudden as she grabbed Hamazura’s neck from behind, causing Hamazura to end up lifting her.
“…Don't take him without permission. Hamazura is mine.”
At that moment...
Hamazura Shiage definitely heard some important brain circuits snap. They belonged to the five delinquents.
After a while, a certain delinquent whose mouth was half-open in shock said, "Ooohhhhhh!! What are you trying to pull here!? What are you trying to do by acting like a playboy, you bastard!?"
The shout he let out was somewhat like a seal or an otter, but it was obvious that the enemy’s anger had reached its peak. He closed in and was getting read to personally beat Hamazura’s face in.
At that moment, Mugino, who was deliberately holding Hamazura’s wrist down through a delicate movement, twitched her body slightly. Because of the pain coming from his elbow, Hamazura had to follow Mugino’s movements and turn around as if he was turning a door.
Thus, the delinquent’s strike that was aimed at his head missed.
It ended up hitting his shoulder.
And the five fingers that he reached out just so happened to be in a grip state.
"Yaaaahhh, it hurts, damn it!!"
“Kyah~ Hamazura’s super~ cool~”
Mugino let out an even sillier-sounding voice as she grabbed Hamazura’s wrist, which stopped midway through, and kicked him in the waist. Hamazura was sent flying into the middle of the group of delinquents. On the other side, Kinuhata beautifully "pressed" Takitsubo down just as she was sticking to Hamazura’s back.
Before he could understand what was going on, it seemed like the delinquents realized something.
"It's time to get serious, eeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"
"You should say something to that demonic woman, eeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"
Hamazura had only one choice.
Escape. He decided to scatter some soil from the flowerbed to obstruct the fallen delinquents' view, and used that opportunity to get away.
The smoking breast enhancement device was confiscated by Yomikawa, and Yoshikawa went back home to set the pre-recording time for the time being.
There was currently a live telecast on the TV inside the room, and Yomikawa noted that she wanted to record the drama that she wanted to watch.
“It would be great if there’s a television receiver that could air multiple channels at the same time,” muttered Yoshikawa.
The TV was airing such a show.
Most likely, the host and the production crew couldn’t even smell the front lines.
“…Despite the fact that World War III ended in twelve days, after the war was over, there were a large number of eyewitness reports regarding supernatural phenomenon. Experts have called this a third war syndrome. This is a common group psychological problem that occurs due to the stress created by the warzone environment, similar to the phenomenon that occurred during the ‘British Halloween incident’ that took place during the political crisis in England. Some experts feel that they should be rewarded handsomely, and as soon as possible.”
Accelerator was just lazing around.
He was lying on the sofa, feeling that there was a sense of something being out of place.
On closer look, Last Order had snuck into the small sofa.
“…What are you doing?”
“Misaka wants to sleep, says Misaka as Misaka explains clearly.”
Before the #1 could complain, the ten-year-old-looking girl was already sleeping. Accelerator clicked his tongue, and another voice came from somewhere else.
“How do you feel about taking back your peace?”
“…What are you trying to say?”
She used a tone that clearly implied something.
In the past, there was the existence of "darkness" in Academy City. It had tremendous power, but for certain reasons, the people involved in it would find it hard to reintegrate themselves into society. At times, in exchange for their own survival, they would use their friends as shields, offer things like books or information or even their status, or even be in charge of several "jobs"…It was that kind of world.
Accelerator had also been a part of it.
But that system had been destroyed—not by anyone else, but by Accelerator at the end of World War III.
Unabara Mitsuki…Or whatever his name really was.
Accelerator’s ears heard the voices of the commentators who enjoyed that boring peace.
“…Between this, it’s unknown whether there really is a supernatural phenomenon, but basically, there’s evidence of a huge golden ring and a bone-like thing left behind in cities all over the world- no, it’s not so accurate to describe it as golden. The United Nations threw the piece into some parts of the Pacific Ocean that lack oxygen, and even though they did process it, used it to change the oxygen supply in the ocean, and also revived the supply of fish and other kinds of seafood, I do think that there are other motivations for them to throw them without investigating them…”
As for the other members of Group, who once worked as a group of four in the darkness, how were they right now? Accelerator wasn’t really clear about it, but it was likely that in this bastardly city, they would work hard for their "stability".
However, there was something lacking.
He felt that something was lacking.
After the war, Accelerator had cut off all links to the darkness; thus, he wouldn’t be able to access the necessary information regarding the dark side of Academy City. Of course, there were means to eavesdrop; it was just that he didn’t want to get involved with the darkness ever again.
Thus, no matter whether it was a blessing or a curse, he wouldn’t be able to ensure the others’ safety.
Among the people who had taken part in that war, who could be excluded?
Did "that guy" who had been in the deepest part came back safely?
“…Also, it’s worth being happy that Academy City’s side incurred zero casualties, but Academy City also exposed all technical expertise and military risks. Regarding this, Academy City has expressed…”
There was no need to look forward to that TV program that was uttering gibberish.
But if so, who could be trusted?
There was once a cloning program that used the cells of the #3 Level 5, Misaka Mikoto.
In terms of results, it was a failure. Unable to create the necessary specifications, it was ended. However, this cloning technique was used for another experiment, creating a mass number of clones.
Last Order was the commander of the approximately ten thousand remaining Sisters, and Misaka Worst was created after that through the unorthodox Third Season project.
The massive brain that was formed by the electronic network of almost ten thousand brains formed the Misaka Network. The network linked all the information that the Sisters had, and the network also worked for a "certain purpose".
There was Last Order, who was created as a "human interference commander", and Misaka Worst, who had "evil thoughts and feelings" embedded in her for some "certain purpose".
“Go buy something?”
Accelerator, who was lying on the sofa, asked in shock, and the female teacher in the sports jacket, Yomikawa Aiho, nodded her head.
“I don’t care whether you came back from the battlefield or some other place; since you came back, you better start acting like a member of society and live on.”
“So you’re talking about doing such a boring thing?”
“Huh?” Yomikawa acted like she was confused and pondered for a while, before continuing. “In human society, the most painful thing is being unable to help others and not being needed by others, right?”
“Cheh!” Unable to say anything, Accelerator got up. “You don’t have to come up with some twisted introduction to psychology, you damned teacher!”
“No way, I have no intention of going into life counseling. Basically, I’ll settle any problems that appear with this iron fist of mine.”
“So, what do I have to buy?”
“Food. Those that I circled in red on the list.”
“…That kind of thing again. Doing this really doesn't match who I am.”
“In that case, work hard and get used to it.”
Spurred by Yomikawa, Accelerator reluctantly grabbed his crutch and stood up.
Thus, Last Order, who had gotten sick of the spaceship game (she had woken up after the nap to challenge Misaka Worst again), looked up at Accelerator.
“Misaka wants to go!! Misaka wants to go!! exclaims Misaka as Misaka wants to be your assistant since you’ll feel uncomfortable being alone!!”
“You’re so noisy!! Stop trying to predict the future!”
Aside from Last Order, who was shouting "Misaka wants to go, Misaka wants to go", Misaka Worst seemed to be a little edgy for some reason.
Actually, to her, there was another battle other than the computer battle.
It was a real battle.
It was mentioned before that Misaka Worst had a strong sense of ill-intent thoughts and feelings added from a "certain aspect" of the Misaka Network.
This could be expressed not only through anger and hatred.
But also jealousy.
She was envious of Yomikawa, who was always talking to Accelerator. She also wanted to go along.
Last Order’s thoughts spread to all the Sisters. As there was an interference with the "certain aspect", it affected Misaka Worst as well.
Misaka Worst, who normally wouldn't take orders from the commander, Last Order, would inevitably be affected.
For that reason...
(…Uwaah!? I want to go. I want to go shopping!! Damn it, Accelerator’s none of my business, but the network, the network’s giving an unbearable emotional wavelength, Uuwwwwaaahhhhhhhhhhh!! Nononononononononononononononono—!!)
Misaka Worst tried her best to resist the surging force, but she was still unable to withstand it in the end.
The reason was that though she tried to draw that evil intention out, Misaka Worst still couldn't handle it.
A short-circuited Misaka Worst stood up, and rushed at Last Order who was tugging at Accelerator’s pants, knocking her away.
“Misaka, Misaka, too! Misaka wants to go shopping together!!”
A few minutes later.
After getting a wallet from Yomikawa, Accelerator asked a very simple question to Misaka Worst, who was lost in her own thoughts:
“What the hell were you doing just earlier?”
“…Misaka doesn’t understand it herself…”
In order to get away from the delinquents, Hamazura was running randomly.
The method may vary depending on the target and the situation, but for running away on foot, the most important thing was to keep changing between roads and alleys. One had to make a decision when it was impossible to use a car or a bicycle.
More importantly, if it was someone like Anti-Skill, one had to look for a place where there were few people. As for delinquents who ignored the law, it was a more practical to choose somewhere crowded.
The setting was also one of the reasons to use the surrounding people, view, and common knowledge to block the pursuers.
After considering that, it was important to avoid running away in a straight line. Even if it was the tiniest angle, by running around multiple times, it was easy to cause the pursuers to lose sight.
Those methods were effective in shaking off pursuers, but there was one thing to note.
(…Damn it! I’m unfamiliar with District 10!! Am I running north!?)
There was a risk of getting lost if one ran and made turns on unfamiliar grounds.
Even if he wanted to run away, there was a chance that he would make a U-turn, and he could end up running back to his pursuers.
In order to prevent that, as a tactic, he would decide where to run, and then turn with minimal angle. It should be effective for him to continue running in the same direction.
Even still, though he had a clear mind, he was currently being chased by delinquents, If he could let his body obey his mind while he was sprinting at full speed, it wouldn't be so hard on him.
“Ha!! Ha!! ...Damn, damn it. Mugino and Kinuhata…I’ll make them remember it. Those girls, I’ll spank their butts a hundred times after this. And if Takitsubo takes off her clothes, that would be a great feeling.”
As he was running at full speed, his thighs started to hurt, and his breathing was rough. Hamazura stopped and looked around.
He couldn’t find his pursuers now.
He saw the sign nearby; it was District 7.
It seemed like he had crossed districts.
For a moment, just for a moment, Hamazura thought of Mugino and the rest, but the worry quickly dissipated. The delinquents had all been chasing him, and even if they headed for Mugino and the rest, it was impossible for a Level 5 and Level 4 combination to fail.
(Should I message them that I’m all right?)
Hamazura pondered about the situation that was worth praising.
(No, no, if they know that I’m all right, I’ll end up in some ridiculous thing again. Better act like I nearly died…)
Hamazura’s shoulder knocked into someone.
It was a middle-school-looking girl with short brown hair.
Hamazura consciously bent down and apologized, but the girl didn’t reply.
With an uneven pace, the girl vanished into the crowd.
(…What was that? That’s a Tokiwadai Middle School uniform, right…?)
Hamazura looked in the direction where the girl had vanished.
(Seems like something major happened to her…Well, it’s none of my business anyway.)
Even if he were to continue to worry about her, he couldn’t help her anyway.
Originally intending to send a message, Hamazura slipped his cell phone back into his pocket. He was looking around to get a cold drink to quench his thirst.
“Hey, Hamazura. What’s with you?”
A voice came from beside him.
Adjusting his breathing, Hamazura looked over. It was a face he was very familiar with.
Between the Lines 1
The name of the entire group was Skill-Out.
It was a group of teenagers gathered together after they were eliminated from the esper development program that formed the basis of Academy City’s school curriculum.
Truthfully, the name Skill-Out was like a mafia or a motorcycle gang; they weren’t really an organization, but rather a collective term. The groups would go against each other, and they would also work with each other; it was a complicated group. But to the outside world that didn’t know of the truth, they were just guys who were useless at school and who caused lots of trouble.
In truth, that was a wrong impression.
No matter where they had been born, no matter what they did, they were all moral activists who would fight society. Wanting their own place of belonging, it became a home for them.
Among all the Skill-Out gangs, the ways to decide a leader, leadership capacity, and management means differed.
In the past, one of the groups had a certain boy as its leader.
His name was Komaba Ritoku.
A boy who died back in October.
- A traditional Vietnamese dress, now the country’s national costume.