Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume22R Epilogue
Epilogue: Golden and Rosen – Change_the_Rail.
“I can’t believe this. How could we go all the way to Alaska and not see the aurora? I guess we have global warming to thank for this. It’s all that abnormal weather.”
Yoshikawa Kikyou, a (former?) researcher in a white coat, was complaining about something or other.
Last Order, (who looked like) a girl of about ten, was satisfied simply getting to eat plenty of salmon and she was carrying some canned souvenirs with her.
“Going all the way there and not seeing it means we encountered some super-duper rare weather conditions, says Misaka as Misaka discusses probability and statistics.”
“I don’t care that every face of the die has the same probability of happening!! Not when the entire point was to roll a six!!”
They had returned to the city via Tokyo Bay.
To western Tokyo.
To Academy City, the esper powers development institution with 2.3 million residents.
“The lights are already back on, says Misaka as Misaka celebrates!”
“Looks like not all that many thieves climbed over the wall.”
The girl with a mean look to her eyes who had acted as their bodyguard during the trip had something to say about that.
She was Misaka Worst.
“Well, people outside the city see it as a den of strange drugs, so they probably didn’t have the guts to sneak in after its managers fled like rats from a sinking ship. Knowledge is important and no one wants to go exploring in an abandoned hospital only to get blown up. And in Academy City’s case, it’s bound to be way worse.”
Outside of Academy City, they had also heard strange reports of mysterious monsters going on a worldwide rampage. Something must have happened, but they had overcome that trouble and their normal lives were back.
Problems did not just solve themselves.
It might look like some steps had been skipped here, but that was because people had filled in the gaps in secret.
Last Order noticed something within the ordinary crowd.
“Welcome back, says Misaka as Misaka makes sure she gets to say it first!!”
The girl with her arms full of souvenirs ran over and the other person seemed to notice her.
While standing there with his modern design cane, he lazily raised a hand and spoke.
“Yeah, I’m back.”
They were not about to wear swimsuits at this point.
In fact, you may all have forgotten, but it was already December!!
And the all-purpose formalwear for middle school students was their ordinary school uniform. That was something you looked back on with envy once you grew up.
Misaka Mikoto had been so very embarrassed wearing a track suit on the plane, so…
(They actually brought these to the airport for us? I guess having the largest clique comes with its perks. Now, I’m not one to talk since I had to borrow a uniform too, but everyone but the leader of the clique really knows what they’re doing.)
“Ahhhhh!! Yes… A-Academy City products really are so much better☆”
Shokuhou Misaki raised her arms and stretched her back to see how her hip was doing while sounding a lot like someone soaking in a hot spring. Her chest was large enough already, so bending her back like that made for quite the visual.
She had apparently been unable to wait for the normal hospital and received a replacement medical corset from the District 23 International Airport’s medical room, but…
“Is the exhaustion drawing out your true character, Shokuhou? Your transformation into an old lady has no brakes, does it?”
“(Y-you’re the one who shot a hole in my side!)”
As much as Shokuhou wanted to complain, that had only happened because she had robbed the other girl of her consciousness using Mental Out, so she had no right to do so.
(It’s almost scary that he healed that without even leaving a scar.)
“But if he could heal the wound in my stomach so perfectly, why did he leave my hip untouched? That doctor really should have healed everything while he was at it!!”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I’ll bet it was divine punishment.”
“Gh!! W-well, it should only take a week to heal at the most. Enjoy your victory while you can, Misaka-saaan. A fall ability is all the more painful the higher you climb, after all. Ho ho ho!!”
“Um, heating your back when you don’t know why it’s hurting can actually make it worse, so be careful about that. On the other hand, maybe that means pressing a halogen heater to your back is the play here.”
“Stop that, Misaka-san! Really, stop it!! I’ll do anything, so at least look up from your phone and take this seriously! I’m not letting you extend this crisis until the new year!!”
They began fighting over one of the heaters used to cover the areas the general air conditioning could not since the international airport was so large, but in a fight not related to people’s minds, Shokuhou Misaki did not stand much of a chance.
Had that honey-blonde girl managed to organize her thoughts?
She may not have.
There was apparently a girl who had announced the end of her love throughout all of Academy City, but not everyone could manage something like that.
And no one could say what the right answer was.
“I’ll cool it! If it will rid me of this irritating pain, I will cool it myself☆ And it’s December, so I won’t even need ice or cooling spray!!”
“Wait, wait, you idiot!! Don’t do that in public!! Stripping now is seriously taking things too far!!”
The sexy girl’s eyes were spinning and she looked like she really would remove her blazer and blouse if someone did not stop her, so blushing Mikoto quickly grabbed her slender wrists, pushed her to the floor, and took the mount position.
That was when a mysterious clattering sound reached Mikoto’s ears.
She looked over from atop the other girl and saw her twintailed underclassman trembling after dropping everything she was carrying.
“I had a feeling my slice of the pie was being stolen by someone, but what have you done to my Onee-sama, you thief?”
“Wait, Kuroko. This is an airport with strict security and you have your position in Judgment to consider, so think carefully about what you do. And I’m as confused as you are that I’ve somehow ended up in this role!”
“It isn’t like we had to return,” said Mugino Shizuri.
She and Kinuhata Saiai had left Academy City, but they must not have chosen to blend into the crowds of the wide world out there.
And the reason why was not some emotional story.
“The outside world has its own rules. And the back alley rules out there are mostly made by the adults in the gangs and mafias. To be blunt, figuring all that out and blending in would be super difficult. We figured out it would be a lot easier to stay hidden in Academy City.”
“That really is an awful reason for staying,” groaned Hamazura soon after returning.
They had struggled to escape Academy City’s darkness, but once they got out, this was the result. They could have chosen to go anywhere, from some remote mountains covered in alpine plants to a tropical island with year-round sun, but after being given freedom, they ended up right back here.
And they could no longer make any excuses now that they had returned of their own free will.
They could no longer claim the adults were using them or that the adults were to blame for all their misdeeds.
His girlfriend, Takitsubo Rikou, spoke to him.
Some people had returned here and some had not been able to accompany them.
Dion Fortune and Great Demon Coronzon.
After thinking about those two, Hamazura relaxed his shoulders.
He sighed and smiled.
“Let’s live the life we want to live. In the end, that’s all kids like us can do.”
Mugino then asked him a blunt question.
He sometimes appreciated her dryness at times like this.
“I don’t know what sentimental crap you’re thinking about, but did you actually find something outside the city? Something to keep the stubborn dark side off our backs?”
“Yeah, you don’t have to worry about that.”
That might technically be incorrect.
Aleister had died without keeping his promise, so Hamazura’s group had no guarantee.
He had gained something as far as connections went.
It was not with Aleister, but it was with the board chairman.
“I feel like something crazy is going to happen here in Academy City.”
Light had returned to Academy City.
At the same time, the students scattered around the world gathered back together.
Aleister no longer stood at the top of the adults.
The grand plan pursued by that human was nowhere to be found.
But people were attracted to something in the city he had built and could not bring themselves to abandon it, so they naturally returned there.
That included everyone from back alley delinquents to the young ladies of Tokiwadai.
They parted ways at the District 23 International Airport.
Academy City’s #1 vanished into the crowd with a demon girl who had nothing at all to do with science.
Misaka Mikoto may have been having trouble explaining herself while holding down the Mental Out girl.
The Level 0 delinquent boy disappeared somewhere with his blank-faced girlfriend.
“Ohh. It feels like forever since we left,” said a white nun with a small calico cat on her head.
She was in the kind of ordinary student dorm you could find anywhere in Academy City.
If anything, this may have been one of the more run-down and lower-ranked buildings.
“We really are back,” sighed Kamijou Touma.
He wanted to know what the secret of his right hand looked like from the grimoire library’s perspective, but he could ask about that once things had settled down.
He pulled the key from his pocket, inserted it into the keyhole, and turned it.
Once he opened the door, he was met by a strange smell that seemed both nostalgic and not.
The cat in the white habit girl’s arms meowed.
She spoke up with a big smile on her face.
She spoke the words that everyone repeated on a daily basis.
“We’re home, Touma!!”