Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume22R Ending
Tahiti was a sunny island in the Pacific.
He had originally worn the sunglasses and Hawaiian shirt as a disguise, but that did not stand out all that much while sunbathing. Although he did learn the gold accessories were not a good idea since they got quite hot in the bright sunlight.
Magician Tsuchimikado Motoharu sighed while swaying in a hammock between palm trees.
(You tend to think of maids as going with pleasantly cool Europe, but I say a tropical island is where it’s at. You can enjoy a classic maid in the air-conditioned restaurants and casinos and you can adore your stepsister’s swimsuit on the sandy beach. I have learned the true meaning of the North Wind and the Sun. This is perfect. No view could be more beautiful!!)
The pervert opened his eyes as wide as possible behind the sunglasses. And who could blame him when he was witness to a tropical paradise created by the mysterious cocktail of an outfit made from a school swimsuit, a white apron, and that thing maids wore on their head that his stepsister had chosen based on the process of elimination when the summer heat got to her and she only had the options in her travel bag to choose from. If that sentence does not seem to make any sense to you, don’t worry about it. It only means you are normal.
Then he heard some flapping wings.
White feathers floated in the dry air.
They seemed to belong to a pigeon rather than a seagull. People must have liked them because pigeons were found in every part of the world. They were not productive in any way, but there may have been more of them than chickens. They seemed to grow even more brazen in tourist areas because they showed no sign of fleeing even when a young wife and her dog jogged by.
Three pigeons had flown to the hammock.
Most people would have thought nothing of it, but Tsuchimikado Motoharu was not most people.
This would bring a certain fact to mind for any magician who had thoroughly researched that silver-haired human and the Great Demon he had supposedly summoned.
In modern times, that was considered heresy even in the occult world.
But how many of what had that human sacrificed to use their blood to summon a Great Demon whose name began with a C?
The pigeons did not have a message tied to their leg.
But anyone who knew what to look for would see some alphanumeric text in the splotches on their feathers. Or maybe it had been arranged so only Tsuchimikado Motoharu would notice it, similar to how you might see a human face in a stain on the wall.
(Is it my own perception being twisted here? If I looked at the moon now, I might not see the rabbit there.)
He pulled out a phone he had altered on the software and hardware sides to make it untraceable and typed in the alphanumeric string he had seen. Just as he finished, the three pigeons unnaturally took flight for no apparent reason.
His phone displayed an online news article:
New! Academy City’s Recovery is Complete
Academy City experienced critical infrastructure failure a few days ago, but their press secretary has just announced the official recovery of all city functions.
The cause is still under investigation.
There has been much speculation after the teachers, students, and other residents were seen leaving the city in some kind of mass evacuation, but more and more residents have been seen returning through the eastern gate near Shinjuku… (Read more)
But it was not the article that mattered.
It was the comments displayed below. Anyone could post there, but a few of them stood out to Tsuchimikado.
Any text that could be displayed on the screen could be represented with 0s and 1s. By creating new divisions between that massive string of numbers and following a certain set of rules, you could reach a different text altogether:
“Academy City has left my control. Now that the title of board chairman has passed to another, Aleister Crowley’s influence has left it.”
Tsuchimikado Motoharu was relaxing in Tahiti because he had screwed up. He was in hiding because he and his stepsister Maika were being pursued by the entire science side. The board chairman was the big boss there, but there was so much confusion in the data from that battle that it was hard to tell what was true.
Tsuchimikado Motoharu knew that any message from that human would not be so straightforward. He would never just say “It’s safe now, so you can go home.”
He broke down and reassembled the next comment:
“But this also means that I can be found beyond science. If you truly do not want to run into me, then you should in fact return to Academy City at the center of the science side. Assume that all other territories are a gray zone for you.”
And the next:
“Someone who has crossed the Ungrund has appeared. I imagine they will surround Academy City from without and work their way inside. In other words, they will start where you are now. You wouldn’t want to think you had escaped the barrage only to find yourself in the middle of a minefield, would you? Stay there and you will be the first to die. I will not ask that you believe me. Search out the information yourself and reach your own conclusions.”
Tsuchimikado Motoharu frowned in the hammock after reading all that in silence.
The vocabulary did not seem quite right.
That human had a temper yet was weirdly meticulous, so it was unlikely he would have encoded his message incorrectly even if it was mostly just for fun.
The deepest depths. No matter how far you descended in that place, the bottom never came into view.
Hadn’t that human preferred to call it the Abyss?
He read the next message:
“Something at the foundation has changed. This entire incident was leading up to this. And like a game of Daruma Otoshi, it happened without disturbing all that lay atop it.”
Tsuchimikado looked puzzled, but there was more.
It had not been a mistake.
That human had understood it from the beginning and was giving a warning.
“This is something I failed to predict even with the Aeon of Horus. If that woman is not yet another cloud or fraud, then the world will be filled with the true cross and rose – those symbols of man and woman.”
That human had not expected a response.
By the time Tsuchimikado scrolled to the end, the data had been updated and only those bizarre posts had disappeared from the comment section.
The war centered on the United Kingdom had finally come to an end.
The international airport on the outskirts of London was no longer locked down. That said, all of those Asians had been suspicious people without passports. They had required a royal plane that could skip past all the customs checks.
“I’m honestly impressed you didn’t arrest Kamijou Touma out of spite.”
That carefree comment came from Golden Magician Dion Fortune.
She was at a special gate in that airport.
This was the royal family’s personal gate that was hidden from the public so even the self-styled socialites who always flew first class did not know it existed.
It was a large space much like a relaxation facility.
The glass wall showed a large passenger plane taking off with the British flag on the tail fin.
Fortune had decided not to board that plane.
The result of that war had been a crucial issue for her. After all, she had been one of the defenses created by Archbishop Lola Stuart, aka Great Demon Coronzon, who had been behind it all.
If she had been captured as an enemy weapon, dismantled for inspection, and disposed of as an evil weapon of mass destruction, she would have had no future.
“Even Aleister Crowley was from here, so it really does all come back to the UK. I have such a headache,” sighed Queen Regnant Elizard. “How can we call ourselves the home of anti-magician combat? If our inept performance here is criticized at an international conference, the power balance of the entire magic side could collapse.”
“I am sorry, Kamijou Touma. I really do keep using you.”
“That doesn’t mean much if you don’t say it where he can hear you.”
Even if the lives of all her people had been used as a shield, she still felt guilty for obeying that villain’s instructions. She was apparently not shameless enough to imprison everyone who had helped put a stop to that just because the law technically said she could.
A UFO balloon flew through the open sky on the other side of the glass wall. It was the hoodie bikini and rabbit-ear antennae girl Karasuma Fran. She had apparently made an agreement to work as the third princess’s protegee at some point, but without her intervention, the UK could not have avoided having the science side and Academy City take everything from them.
“Are you sure you didn’t want to leave with those Asians?”
“I know you already know the answer to that.” The redheaded girl with her skinny figure expanded by her fluffy white dress gave a mature laugh. “The world’s rules are not truly kind enough to let them leave this country without any kind of deal being made. Someone has to pay the price. And you may have forgotten, but I was born in this country. Both as a human and as a tarot deck. Of course I have my thoughts about the future of the country that gave us the world’s largest magic cabal.”
“What exactly do you propose?”
“Heh heh. I hope you’re ready to quake in your boots over my brilliant perception, Your Majesty. The global power balance is an issue, but the real problem is maintaining order inside the country, right? The UK is supported by the three pillars of the Royal Family, the Knights, and the Anglicans, but one of those was rotten to the core. Try to choose the next archbishop by any normal means and it’s bound to lead to conflict.”
“So hear me out. I’ve heard about that British Halloween thing. It seems your Royal Family worked with the Knights to cause their own problems recently. That means the people will have a hard time trusting any of the pillars. If the later magic cabals derived from our Golden one fan the flames now, the UK might just burn down around us.”
The word Golden held great meaning for Dion Fortune.
It had been far from perfect and had caused plenty trouble on many occasions, but she still did not want the magic cabals that carried on its name to cause unnecessary conflict.
“Then what are you suggesting?”
“I am saying you have a very beautiful new archbishop right here.”
She placed a hand in the center of her chest.
The redheaded girl made a ridiculous suggestion with a straight face.
“I’m from the original Golden cabal, so you know I have the magic skill. And I was born here, so my desire to protect the UK is real. More importantly, I’m not human, so I won’t betray you. At the very least, this would eliminate any openings for others to use this chaos to usurp power.”
“To be clear, openings like that are a scary thing. Even a knight like that Holegres did some awful things when he saw an opening. And let’s not forget how much you shook things up at the end there.”
“Yes, it’s true. I am an artificial being that inherits the spell system of Great Demon Coronzon who controlled the Anglicans until now.”
And she presented this as a bargaining chip in her own favor.
“But don’t you think that will keep me honest? The best emotion for keeping people in line is not courage or love. It’s guilt. Only in moderation, though.”
This was a difficult decision for Elizard to make.
If she decided that a grimoire was not trustworthy and that she could not rely on someone created by Lola, then she would also have to stop using Index the Grimoire Library. She would of course have to monitor this carefully, but refusing would mean throwing away a very useful opportunity.
“If it even looks like you are up to something, I will immediately cut you down.”
“But of course. Still, I can’t have all authority shifting over to you, so personally appoint some greedless person to monitor me. To be blunt, this country can’t recover otherwise.”
“Then perhaps I should ask Villian.”
“She would do nicely. Karasuma Fran was also controlled by Coronzon, so she would know best how to search for any traces of Coronzon left around me.”
She was quick to make up her mind at times like this.
“Now, this is a simply out of curiosity, but are you sure about this? I hear that Asian was literally willing to throw away his own life to save yours.”
“Oh? You’re surprisingly behind the times. Hadn’t you heard?”
The redheaded girl shrugged and naturally pulled something out.
It was a phone.
It contained an application called Aneri.
And the alternate form of an original grimoire lightly waved the cutting-edge gadget.
“Distance isn’t a barrier to establishing bonds. And not only does Magician Dion Fortune possess love, beauty, and knowledge, but she has always been a master of letter writing and correspondence education☆”
Academy City was back up and running.
However, not all of the problems had been solved.
For one thing, the Windowless Building no longer existed.
A report had arrived that Board Chairman Aleister had died overseas. His body had been given a state funeral in the country he had died in. A photo of his face and a tooth mold sample had been sent to Academy City, but not even those lurking on the underside of the city were sure if they could trust that information. After all, the data they received was of a lovely girl with long silver hair. Very few people had ever directly met Human Aleister, but not even the few who had could say for certain that was Board Chairman Aleister.
The fact remained that Aleister was no longer in the city.
And the underside of the city did not care if there was no definitive confirmation.
Something else mattered more to them.
“Based on the previous vote, the board of directors has decided that Board Chairman Aleister can no longer perform his duties. Thus, a successor must be swiftly appointed to fully recover Academy City’s administrative functions.”
A stir ran through them.
Who would be the next board chairman?
They were essentially deciding who would be the king of the science and the network that covered every part of this planet.
The board of directors had twelve members.
Normally, those would be the candidates, but one member, Kaizumi Tsugutoshi, had a headache.
(Their greed here is impossible to miss. Are they planning to start another war that will cover the entire world?)
As a pacifist (although he had to smile bitterly every time he called himself that), Kaizumi knew Oyafune Monaka took a similar stance to him here, but it would be very difficult for those two to make any major changes without any other help. And unlike Oyafune, he was not strong enough to stick with his benevolent stance to the very end. If he knew a conflict was coming, he would make swift preparations and fight back as much as possible. That was how he had survived this long. If necessary, he would have to get help from his Use of Force Unit led by his brain, Kumokawa Seria.
But not to win the war.
To slit the throats of the dangerous elements before the war broke out in the first place.
“Just to be clear, you do not mind if I continue searching for the whereabouts of the Windowless Building and the board chairman in parallel to this matter?”
“And if his survival is confirmed, the new board chairman you decide on will be null and void. That is what I am really saying.”
“That is not how it works. The former board chairman has abandoned his duties without permission and is absent from our meetings. Alive or not, he cannot overturn the conclusion that he is incapable of performing his duties.”
Did that courteous yet rude youth realize that the old man was weighing his life on the scales based on this exchange?
Youths who had lived a life of luxury hated the concept of seniority. And Kaizumi himself had no problem with deciding these things based on merit.
However, using merit did not necessarily eliminate the old.
If this youth was going to underestimate the old tiger’s fangs, he could keep doing so right up until the tiger showed his merit by devouring him head-first.
“Then how about we decide this with a vote?”
Shiokishi and Yakumi.
Quite a few of them were gone now. The Board of Directors could be seen as the top of Academy City’s hierarchy, but it also took a toll on its members. And it was not just being up to no good that put you in danger. Pure Oyafune Monaka had been shot or nearly shot more than once.
To take that seat and not give it up to anyone else required power in and of itself.
The youth young enough to be Kaizumi’s grandchild laughed and said more.
“It would seem no one takes issue with that. Kaizumi-san, I think we have heard enough of your selfishness. Please do not delay the meeting any further.”
Did he really not realize what Kaizumi was after?
Or was he playing the fool so Kaizumi would let his guard down?
Even if they were taking advantage of the Windowless Building and Board Chairman Aleister’s absence, everything was moving too quickly. He had to assume some large-scale preparations had already been made. They must have been ready to kick Aleister out and take over as soon as the human showed any kind of opening.
“I do not know who here will name themselves king, but what about the code list? The Windowless Building that managed the city is gone and I am having difficulty believing that is really the chairman’s corpse.”
“We were already in dire need of reform. This is the perfect chance to update all the unnecessary machinery and equipment while laying out new infrastructure. A war just ended and the expansion of public works will help stimulate industrial activity. Let us ride this wave: the great wave of postwar recovery.”
(What a blatant lie,) sighed Kaizumi.
Academy City had recovered, but no one actually knew why the breath of life had returned when it did. That was why they were all so wary of each other. In any other circumstances, they would have handled the meeting via telecon.
Who had the code list?
Whoever that was would effectively be Academy City’s leader. If they thoughtlessly started a war and aimed at the wrong person, they could receive a very painful attack in return. Whether you wanted to approach them as an ally, construct a cooperative relationship with them, or feign friendship before murdering them in their sleep, they needed to know who it was first. Which of the twelve face-down cards was the unbeatable joker? That was why they had all gathered here and assumed doing it over the internet would not be enough.
(There must be more to this.)
The old man calmly observed the group of poker faces.
Succumbing to paranoia would not help here.
Instead of letting his emotions take control and deciding some specific person was the enemy, he had to keep a flat perspective and line up every possibility on the table.
(It isn’t necessarily a member of the board that has the joker.)
That was when he heard some solid footsteps.
This did not seem to be a secretary, brain, or bodyguard working for any of the board members. After all, he could hear the clacking of a cane along with it. Kaizumi looked puzzled at first, but he could guess what was going on once the only response to the demands of “who goes there” were only answered by sounds of violence.
The person who walked out was a white monster.
It was Academy City’s #1 Level 5, Accelerator.
“This is a lot trickier without an obvious landmark like the Windowless Building, but this is the board of directors boardroom, right? I know it’s something of an emergency, but did you really have to be skulking around in the shadows like this? Or were you afraid of being attacked?”
“How did you find this place?”
The atmosphere had changed.
The youth who had been giving the boring speech sounded flustered. He must have believed control of the conversation had been stolen from him.
“This is no place for one of you damn guinea pigs to be!! Know your place, monster. You children have only been given some added value inside this miniature garden that we run!!”
Accelerator did not seem to care.
He may have used his powers in some way because he stepped lightly up onto the long table and walked down the path of honor laid out between the stunned board members.
“I plan to eradicate that way of thinking, but I’ll overlook the rudeness just this once. If I let every little thing you brainless people do get to me, I’d have an aneurysm in no time. Even I can mature, so how about some praise, hm?”
He made his way to what looked like the seat of honor at a birthday party.
That one empty seat at the end was different from the ones for the Board members lining both sides of the table.
After plopping down in that seat, the white monster rested his feet up on the table.
No one could speak up and demand he be thrown out.
That was of course partially because there was not much they could do when the great military might of the #1 Level 5 had made it this close. But information mattered more than military might at the moment. The children were supposed to be under the adults’ management, so how had one of them found his way to the secret meeting place of the board of directors?
“Someone left me something in their locker, so I’m here to pick it up today.”
He answered them by pulling out a completely ordinary device.
It was the smartphone that a certain human had given him on the verge of death in the United Kingdom.
While toying with the “proof of a king” that contained the code list that provided full authority over Academy City, that monster leaned back in the leather chair and spoke with a confident smile while a demon girl accompanied him.
To those who called espers guinea pigs and who were surely hiding many skeletons in the dark closet they thought would never be lit up, his greeting might as well have been a death sentence.
“Listen up. The name’s Academy City Board Chairman Accelerator. I hope we can all get along☆”
“He lost,” she said. “Once he got out, the One who Purifies God and Slays Demons lost quite quickly.”
“Oh? It isn’t often things betray your expectations.”
“That’s for sure.”
She had thought Aleister Crowley would use up Lilith more quickly.
She had thought the One who Purifies God and Slays Demons would win.
And based on those predictions, she had been making gambles that ordinary people could not even see.
She would take action to make up for that loss.
And she would do so silently.
She smiled and spoke while crushing a rose in her small hand and letting drip a red liquid that could produce unknown miracles.
“But that is what leaves some openings in this world.”
The worlds of magic and science had both been badly shaken.
And the people in their respective seats were already looking beyond that.
Holy Guardian Angel Aiwass.
Together, they belonged to the ancient magic cabal known as the Rosicrucian Order.
So they readily spoke a challenge to the world.
“Do not think this is over.”