Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume2 Chapter2
Chapter 2: Unchanging Days, Occasional Differences. Lecture_Two.
“Really, Kamijou-chan is quite troublesome,” said Tsukuyomi Komoe, a 135-centimeter-tall female teacher. As she walked through the city at night, a girl named Himegami Aisa who had long black hair walked alongside her.
Himegami had originally lived in Komoe’s apartment, but she had since moved to a girl’s dorm for her school.
Komoe held her small head in her small hands.
“Kamijou-chan must have no idea what an attendance record is. Uuu… at this rate, he’ll be in trouble even with extra lessons over winter break… And he didn’t have enough days during the first term either…”
“With the way he is, I find it strange that he has managed up until now.”
“Whether you are smart or not, you are going to get bad grades on your tests if you never even take in the fundamental knowledge. I doubt he has just been sleeping this whole time, so something must have been entering his head in place of his lessons… Just what could be filling Kamijou-chan’s head?”
“Hmm.” Himegami looked up a bit. “With him, I could see it being methods of defeating a dragon.”
“Something like that is not going to be helpful in life!! He should at least be filling his head with the knowledge and skills needed to live a peaceful life!!”
Even if she gave successive lectures, it was meaningless if the information would not enter their heads.
Thinking that, Birdway decided to take a short break.
She snapped her fingers, calling over one of the men wearing all black.
“Mark, I’m thirsty. Make me a cocktail. Make it a Cinderella.”
“A Cinderella?” Kamijou asked, having heard from the side, and for some reason, Birdway puffed her chest out proudly.
“It’s the representative example of a nonalcoholic cocktail.”
And then Mark secretly taught Kamijou the truth.
“…It’s just a mixed juice drink made of orange juice, pineapple juice, and lemon juice.”
“It’s a nonalcoholic cocktail!!”
She kicked Mark in the shin with her small foot, and he hurriedly escaped to the kitchen space.
Meanwhile, Fremea, who had been Hamazura’s private hot water bottle girl up until then, flipped over the approaching cat and started playing with it. The cat seemed to be saying, “I know that male calico cats are rare, but don’t stare at my balls like that,” but it made no frantic movements.
“…That cat looks like it’s gotten bigger since I last saw it…” Kamijou said looking puzzled.
Birdway refolded her black stocking-covered legs as she sat on the bed, and spoke.
“That’s how it is with the growth of a kid.”
She had been speaking about the kitten, but Fremea was the one that reacted.
She rolled the cat around on top of the kotatsu and looked over at Birdway.
“Nyah. In the first place, you do not look like an older sister.”
“It seems you do not know the truth of matters, you damn brat.” With her legs still crossed, Birdway folded her arms. “There is a large gap between ten and twelve. I live in a different world from a brat like you who still bathes with her father!!”
“I live in a dorm, so in the first place my father has nothing to do with this.” Fremea pressed against the pads of the cat’s paws with her finger. “And I’m enough of an adult to sleep in the dark without a nightlight.”
“Wh-what!? Aren’t you afraid of someone suddenly attacking you in the night!?”
Birdway plainly jumped up from the bed.
Fremea stretched the cat’s mouth and peered in at its white teeth.
“And in the first place I know that Santa Claus really does exist.”
“What, how did you learn about the Nicholas Foundation!? I guess you are one of Academy City’s even if you look like that. I can’t take you lightly…!!”
“…Um, I think there’s a disconnect in what the two of you are talking about,” Kamijou quietly pointed out, but it seemed that Birdway could not hear him as she trembled.
And then Fremea brought down the finishing blow.
“And I wear a bra, so in the first place I’m the winner.”
“What are you trying to do!? Are you trying to pick a fight with me, you damn brat!?!?!?”
With the sound of slicing wind, Birdway pulled out a spiritual magic sword item. The cause may indeed have been the fact that the boss of the magic cabal known as the Dawn-Colored Sunlight did not wear a bra.
But given the situation, Birdway was the one at a disadvantage.
She puffed her chest out in desperation and spoke.
“H-hmph. I lead the highest ranking Golden-style magic cabal, so I do not need to show off to a brat like you. After all, you’re just a brat that can only get someone stupid-looking like that Hamazura to obey you.”
“Nyahh!!” Fremea Seivelun’s tension reached its maximum. “Don’t say bad things about Hamazura. If you say anything more, it’s a duel!!”
As she held the magic sword, Birdway’s eyes turned to a color filled with sadism.
“Eh? She wouldn’t really go all-out on a civilian kid, would she?” Kamijou said as he put himself on guard while looking at that person who (tentatively) held the number three spot in the super sadist world rankings, but the situation developed in an unexpected direction.
“You want to take me on one-on-one? Interesting. I will accept any challenge to a duel. Now, what method should we use to settle this?”
Fremea then stood up from the kotatsu for some reason, and slowly brought her clenched fists down on the table with her waist still raised up.
When Mark returned to the kotatsu with the mixed juice drink (that his superior obstinately insisted was a nonalcoholic cocktail), he for some reason saw two blonde girls in their early teens grappling.
“Ow!? Hey, in real sumo wrestling, grabbing hair is against the rules!!”
“Nyahh!! In the first place, I cannot allow myself to lose here!! Gyaohhh!!”
“Listen to what… I’m saying, you damn braaaaaaaaaatttttttttt!!”
As Birdway yelled out, she wrapped her arms around Fremea’s waist and performed a German suplex, bringing her down onto the bed.
The skirts of both the one performing the technique and the one receiving it made it quite a show, but they did not seem to care.
“Fwa ha ha ha ha ha!! You brat, you damn brat!! It’s one hundred years too early for someone who still wears a Japanese red randoseru to oppose the boss of a cabal!!”
Kamijou and Mark exchanged a wordless glance, and they ended up calling up Leivinia Birdway’s little sister who was in London.
“Something my sister doesn’t like? I guess that would be panties with a large rabbit on them or anything spicy.”
The two of them added a large amount of chili sauce to the Cinderella, making it Mexican style in order to make Birdway end up writhing about on the floor.
In an apartment in District 8, Kumokawa Seria, a girl who had been wearing the uniform of the school that Kamijou Touma went to, was lying sprawled on a sofa in only her underwear.
She was in an apartment rather than a dorm room.
Not only was that rare, but it was also impossible without some kind of special circumstances. Even the rich girls from Tokiwadai Middle School that spent forty thousand yen on food lived in dorms. But Kumokawa submitted to her situation as if it were normal. In fact, she would not let herself be at the level of some rich girl.
She had gotten a little fired up when she had run into Kamijou Touma in the city earlier, but she had since cooled her head. Kumokawa had returned to her apartment and then collapsed on her sofa where she had fallen fast asleep. She could not remember when she had removed her uniform, so she had likely subconsciously been annoyed by the stiff clothing and had taken it off in her sleep.
A plain electronic tone came from her mobile device.
Still lying on the sofa, she groped around with her hand on top of the table, trying to grab it. However, she could only just barely touch the hard object with the tips of her fingers. She accidentally knocked it away with her own hand, and it fell to the ground.
Kumokawa thought for a bit, and then turned over on the sofa.
However, it seemed that the fall to the ground had hit some button or other. An old man’s face was displayed on the screen, and a voice with an exasperated tone came from it.
“…For now, just put on some clothes and fix your hair. Without your headband, I can’t see your face.”
Kumokawa waved her hand around, but she was unable to grab her headband from the table either. It, too, was knocked to the ground.
She made a signal with her eyes, and the entire room's lighting switched to sleep mode.
“Wait, don’t go to sleep. I’ll mess with your mobile device and have it flash at you like a strobe light. I have tons of work I need you to do. It’s all been piling up while you’ve been blankly sitting around like an idiot over the disappearance of that boy.”
“…Because of that time in lazy mode, I’ve gotten rather used to it.”
“Stick with it, Miss High School Student. You chose the path of school life, so how about you act a little more like an upperclassman?”
As if she had just been injected with energy from an outside source, Kumokawa sat up on the sofa, grabbed her headband, and swept back her bangs that were covering her face.
Her forehead glittered, she moved her hands complexly, and she took a pose like she was firing a handgun.
“Kumokawa Seria, the Super JK Tactician bossed around by the board of directors, is here!! I’ll dull the judgment of any pure boy☆!”
After nailing it all perfectly, Kumokawa’s shoulders drooped, and she wordlessly fell back down onto the sofa.
“…I can’t do it. It just feels so empty. I’m not that #5, so I can’t do things like that. Right now, I could sneak into a ballroom dancing class for middle-aged women and no one would notice.”
“Just put on some clothes.”
While still lying on the sofa, she tried to grab the mobile device from the floor using her toes, but her big toe hit it, sending it over to a corner of the room.
“…I just want to sleep for three days straight.”
“Recall how thankful you are for your position. The brain of the board of directors is not a job you can get just by wanting it.”
As she let out that odd yawn, Kumokawa sat down on the sofa. As she could still speak through it, she seemed to have no intention of picking up the mobile device.
“What do you want me to do? I’m the person who couldn’t even save one boy from that war in Russia.”
“At the end of that war, we could not even control things within Academy City, so don’t sulk over that. At school, you’re the upperclassman who can silence a crying child, right? If you are going to resume your connection with that boy, you need to stop being so lazy.”
“That would just be overreaching,” Kumokawa said halfheartedly as she grabbed an almond chocolate from a package lying on one end of the sofa. “I stopped the tragedies that I could stop, but in the end, that’s all it was. I could not stop the tragedies I could not stop. …For example, I knew that twenty thousand military clones were being used up in those experiments, but in the end, I was unable to do anything about it.”
She bit into the crunchy piece of chocolate she had thrown into her mouth.
“That’s how it was last time, that’s how it was this time, and that’s how it will be next time. …I was just thinking through all that again. In the end, what am I doing? What meaning is there in having influence that is only enough to realize you can only give up because you cannot stop the tragedy?”
“So that is why you are worried about that boy who charges into the flames even though it is hopeless, who jumps straight over those desktop theories and manages to save those we could not.”
Kumokawa fell silent upon hearing the old man’s words.
With chocolates rolling in her hand, Kumokawa listened to the old man’s further words.
“To be blunt, that problem will stick with us from here on, too. We may be one section of the board of directors, but we are also only one section. We cannot interfere with the projects wriggling in the deepest depths, and the mysteries and darkness of the world do not exist solely within Academy City. We are simply too powerless against the threats that come from outside.”
They had so much power, yet Kumokawa Seria and that old man had barely interfered with any of the incidents that boy had been involved in.
The path he walked on was just so dangerous and perilous, and Kumokawa and the old man did not have enough power.
Was it because they were just too smart? Or was it because they had power?
Kumokawa and the old man were restricted on various fronts, so they truly could not approach the core of the incidents.
“Being aware of your own powerlessness is a good thing, but we do not have time to wait for some slow character growth.”
“Are you saying that this city has as many problems as ever even though the war is over?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” the old man said to Kumokawa who was sighing in her underwear. “Just as there are problems we cannot deal with, there are problems a person like that boy cannot deal with. If you want to be able to feel proud of yourself, then carry out your role. That is what it is to be an upperclassman.”
After the short break, Leivinia Birdway began her lecture again.
She lisped slightly, most likely due to the aftereffects of the special super-spicy Cinderella on her lips.
“I have already explained magicians on an individual level. From here on, I will talk about groups of magicians.”
“Are their groups something like Academy City?” asked Hamazura, but Birdway shook her head.
“For the Roman Catholic Church, maybe, but normal magic cabals work differently from your science side. For you, a large organization hands out a special power and manages it. With a magic cabal, people who already have special powers gather, forming a giant organization.”
Index picked up the explanation from there.
“When they are related to legends and the occult, they tend to be viewed as religious organizations. Also, some religious organizations form magical organizations in secret.”
“That’s actually something I’ve been wondering about,” said Kamijou. “What exactly is the difference between the Christian Roman Catholic Church and a magic cabal like yours?”
“I could say there is no difference, but some people would get rather angry if I did,” Birdway finished. “When talking about the structure of the organization, the difference is probably that the former has all its individuals accepting that the interests of the parent organization come first while the latter is a gathering of people who have personal objectives from the beginning. But…”
“The biggest difference is whether they are accepted by the majority or not. The major religions see all other sects as evil and oppress them.”
“Is that how it is…?”
“The general population is not properly aware of magic, but they do know of at least the morality within the legends and occult things at its base. It’s the same as how fairy tales tend to have morals in them. When those things have permeated the land, you are treated as a holy one, and when they have not, you are dealt with as one who must be eliminated.”
Birdway did not touch on the history of oppression like that.
The inquisition and witch hunts.
The Christian Church had originally managed to spread while being oppressed, but in later times, it had become the one oppressing others.
Given her field of research, those things were likely coming to mind.
“For example, modern Western magic cabals use something like secret tricks of the Christian Church. But if half the population of the world belonged to one of those cabals, it would become the greatest denomination of the church. And it wouldn’t even matter if there was a good argument against their techniques. …In reality, that would be incredibly difficult to pull off, but theoretically, that’s how it would work. That’s really all that separates an official technique from a secret trick. Of course, the current majority would never allow the possibility of a great turnaround like that to happen.”
“As I said, these groups are usually formed from people who already have power gathering together. The wishes of the individuals take precedence over the wishes of the whole.”
“…You refer to ‘them’ in the plural, so I’m guessing they’re a group,” Accelerator said, sounding annoyed. “If the rules of an organization will get in the way of their personal actions, why do they gather together?”
“From here on, I’ll only be talking about practical magic cabals,” Birdway said with a grin. “Oftentimes, they create a group because everyone around them is doing it. If things came down to a fight, a group would be stronger than an individual. Also, the division of roles is necessary to carry out larger ceremonies and gather information, so even strongly individualist magicians gather together in one place.”
“…So if a magician felt no need for the division of roles and felt that it would be more efficient to carry out his goal alone no matter how large it may be, he would not join an organization?” Kamijou muttered.
That world did not seem real to him because he was the kind of person who just halfheartedly decided to go to school or get a job “for now”. He wondered if they did not feel any unease at the thought of not belonging to any group.
Meanwhile, Hamazura said, “So it would be best to assume ‘they’ have a goal that cannot be realized without forming a group and distributing the roles, right?”
“Yes.” Birdway nodded. “Usually, this kind of hostile element stays hidden. Once their location is known, they will be surrounded by the majority. In other words, the smaller their organization, the better. The fewer the people involved, the less the chance that someone will reveal that kind of information.”
“So since ‘they’ have gone out of their way to recruit members, ‘they’ must have some goal that warrants the risks that brings?”
“That’s right,” Birdway responded halfheartedly. “I intend to speak to you in detail about ‘them’ later, but remember that if an organization is formed, there must be a reason. Within the highly secretive world of magic, information is gathered from small things like that. I want you to keep that in mind.”
There were many different kinds of magicians.
For example, there were the members of Necessarius, the Anglican Church’s special unit that was working to safely bring down Radiosonde Castle.
But that was not all.
The United Kingdom had a great number of magic cabals. Some of those worked for the country, some aimed to overthrow the country, some worked for the sake of their own leader, some worked for the benefit of all, and there were countless other types.
There was one cabal reserve army that had not become a true magic cabal.
By purposefully remaining at that low position, the organization managed to take action without restrictions.
Lessar, a magician girl from New Light, threw open the door of one of their hideouts (which was an apartment in Edinburgh rather than some eerie cave), and shouted at Lancis who was reading through an English newspaper.
“Did you hear, did you hear!? That boy was confirmed to be in Academy City!!”
“It was Bayloupe that intercepted the information from the Anglicans, right? And it seems he’s with the Dawn-Colored Sunlight.”
“That damn idiot!!” Lessar roughly threw herself onto the sofa, and swung her legs around despite wearing a miniskirt. “And after I seduced him so much in order to get him to join us for the sake of England!! Why did he have to go joining forces with a magic cabal that is in conflict with the Royal Family of all places!?”
While she yelled, Lessar grabbed at her clothes.
“He needs to be taught a lesson!! That’s the only way!! Giving him treats didn’t work, so I have no choice but to start swinging the whip!!”
Lessar forcefully threw away her clothes, and an outfit of black leather became visible underneath. The outfit gave off the distinctive smell and sound of real leather, and Lessar started swinging around a riding whip.
Out of exasperation, Lancis said, “…Where did you learn how to strip so fast? Since my body doesn’t feel ticklish, you must not have used any magic power.”
“That doesn’t matter!! That bastard needs to know his place! I’ll whip him until he awakens to a new world!!”
“How about we check on the enemy for now? We need to know who exactly is tempting that boy.”
“Let’s see… Oh, this is the photo intercepted from the Anglicans.”
Lessar glanced at the photograph lying on the table.
Kamijou Touma stood in the center of a number of people… but the angle was odd. The photo would have had to be taken from a position a few meters up in the air.
The photo had been given to the Anglican Church by Academy City and then intercepted by Lessar’s comrade, so some kind of scientific technology may have been involved.
However, that was not what bothered Lessar.
A few notes had been added in pen, likely by the Anglicans.
Kuroyoru Umidori <- Small.
Fremea Seivelun <- Small.
Leivinia Birdway <- Very small.
Lessar looked down at her body that was wrapped in a bondage outfit. She was short, but her chest size was not too bad.
The little devil girl that was Lessar suddenly paled.
“…Have that boy’s tastes changed?”
Lessar then looked over at Lancis’s unfortunate chest size as the other girl continued to read the English newspaper.
“This is the time for your major debut, Lancis!! C’mon, put on this white Japanese school swimsuit and head to Academy City!! Who cares if it’s November?!”
“If you say one more word, I’m punching you.”
Musujime Awaki sat at a table in a family restaurant, resting her head on her hand.
She stabbed a fork into a single salad that cost over one thousand yen and was in a completely different rank from an all-you-can-eat salad bar.
Another girl the same age as Musujime sat across from her with a bitter smile on her face.
“That’s bad manners.”
“I can’t rest my elbow on the table even when I’m not using chopsticks?”
However, Musujime made no attempt to fix her manners.
The atmosphere was a languid one lacking in tension. She felt as if she did not know how to handle it.
The girl sitting in front of Musujime had been imprisoned within a secret underground area of Academy City’s juvenile hall.
In order to save the other boys and girls imprisoned there, Musujime had carried out various dirty jobs as part of Academy City’s darkness.
She had been a member of Group, a special organization for a select few.
At the end of World War III, those bonds had suddenly disappeared. She should have been glad, but there was still a bit of unease because she did not know why it had happened or what had caused it.
What should she do from now on?
Was there a risk of her actions affecting the situation negatively?
“Are you thinking through something difficult?”
“If it were something simple, I wouldn’t need to think about it.”
“How about you break apart the problem?” suggested the girl. “Most difficult things are just a complex intertwining of a lot of different things. I feel that it’s better to line up each of the little problems making it up one by one.”
It was best to resolve each thing in turn and then bring it all back together in the end.
The problem was that resolving each thing one by one might take over one hundred years in her case.
“Even if I’m going to be skipping some steps on the way up, it may be a good idea to at least measure the height of the staircase.”
Fremea, the girl that the kotatsu had turned into a hot water bottle, woke up.
Hamazura Shiage was not nearby. The only people around were some strange foreigners wearing all black, an unknown spiky-haired boy, and a nun in a white habit.
Fremea continued to gather information through her unfocused eyes, but then she felt something on her forehead. As if she were a jiangshi or playing Indian poker, there was a memo stuck there. She read it, and learned that Hamazura had gone out to buy some drinks at a vending machine.
She let out that forlorn voice because she did not know anyone there besides Hamazura.
Also, they had been continuing on for so long on some difficult subject that it was nighttime, and she was exhausted from running around the city so much, so her focus and curiosity had gone below the zero line. She was simply not in a state where she could make the fine adjustments to her heart needed to match the topic of a conversation and lessen her distance with someone she was speaking with for the first time.
Fremea fell back and laid herself on the floor with her lower body still underneath the kotatsu. She saw Birdway’s legs passing by, and she reached out for one of them.
“Stop that, you damn brat! I don’t have time to deal with the likes of you!!”
Birdway spoke arrogantly, but she was holding a handheld game console in her hand.
“Mark!! There’s new information on the walkthrough site. The speed of information in Academy City truly is something else. Hurry up and log in! Let’s kick that lightning scrap beast’s ass!!”
“I am not young enough to still have the kinetic vision needed for video games…”
“Niiyaa…” said Fremea in a feeble voice, but Birdway and the others headed out to the balcony where they could get a better wireless signal.
Fremea was caught in the vicious cycle of being tired and bored yet unable to sleep. She then reached her hand out for the next foot she saw passing by as if she were a cat reacting to a green foxtail.
The foot belonged to Accelerator.
That situation could very well have been enough to make a back-alley delinquent wet himself, but Fremea did not properly recognize the threat level because her sleepiness was at its max and her sense of what was dangerous was below average in the first place.
“Nyaahh nyah nyah nyahh…” she said.
“…Don’t look to me if you need support for your language faculty…”
Even then, Accelerator and his modern cane did not leave. Given that, he may have acquired a personality more decent than Birdway’s.
“…Are you the person who saved me?” Fremea said.
“I’m not your hero,” Accelerator spat out. “Your hero is the bastard who risked his life and actually took the full brunt of the danger. That title shouldn’t be given to someone who just helped out a little.”
It seemed Fremea was so tired that she was not really listening to him.
“Even so, you still saved me,” she said sleepily.
Fremea said that half in her sleep, and grabbed Accelerator’s leg.
As he looked down at the girl sleeping in the kotatsu, Accelerator thought.
(I have no interest in being a villain, and I don’t think that I can become a good person. I’m at a halfway point where I’m not even sure which path I should walk down… but I guess even there, I can still interfere in someone’s life and help bring things to a positive conclusion…)
And on a road in Academy City at night, Last Order, a girl who looked about ten, cried out.
“Gyaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!! Misaka’s position was taken!! says Misaka as Misaka trembles due to an unexplainable sixth sense!!”
And upon receiving massive interference from the Misaka Network, Misaka Worst let out a meaningless cry next to the small girl.
“Gyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!! Misaka doesn’t care about him, so why!?”
After each of their breaks were over, Birdway’s explanation time began again.
“I’ve more or less finished explaining magic cabals and other groups of magicians, but there is one other major thing I need to explain before talking about ‘them’.”
“…There’s more?” complained Hamazura who was bad at listening to things like a principal’s speech.
Birdway ignored him.
“Before we talk about ‘them’, we have to talk about the details of what produced ‘them’. The foundation they came from is a real pain.”
“The foundation?” asked Accelerator.
Birdway waved a small finger at him.
“Yes, but I have no intention of giving a long lecture on the myths and legends. …Well, you could say it was a folklore-class emergency, but at the very least, you should be more familiar with it than occult legends.”
“This roundabout means of explaining things isn’t helping. Just get to the point.”
“I am talking about World War III,” Birdway said simply.
Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, and Hamazura Shiage’s movements stiffened a bit.
They had all taken part in a deep portion of that war.
“…That war was not just a clash between two nations using scientific technology. A conflict in a larger frame existed at the deepest portion of that war,” Birdway explained. “In other words, it was magic vs. science.”
Accelerator frowned upon hearing that.
“So ‘they’ are related to the other side that started that war?”
“…Yes.” Birdway grinned. “During World War III, ‘they’ rose to the surface. As such, I first need to explain what kind of war World War III truly was and what was going on at the deepest, darkest depths of the war, don’t I?”
It apparently was going to be a long story, so they would need drinks and snacks on hand. The three of them headed to either the room’s kitchen space or a nearby convenience store.
During that time, Kamijou opened the door to the unit bathroom and went inside.
However, he was not planning on taking a shower. He was holding a sandwich and a bottle of water that he had bought at the convenience store.
That area was not suited for eating, but he was not planning on eating the food.
There was a girl inside.
“…So you’ll even politely give me food.”
She was Kuroyoru Umidori.
The girl of about twelve was one of the Freshmen from Academy City’s dark side. Her arms and legs were restrained. No special devices or ropes were used. Kuroyoru had already been wearing a punk outfit with plenty of leather and studs. Due to the strings weaved around her arms and legs, her outfit could be made to function as a straightjacket with a bit of modification to how the strings were tied.
She used a power called Bomber Lance that allowed her to produce nitrogen spears from her palms, but her arms were crossed to prevent her from doing so. If she produced a spear, she would only be injuring her own upper body.
Kamijou said, “No, I don’t think I’m the only one that’s worried about you. They’re finding it hard to face you because you just had a fight, is all.”
What had actually occurred was well beyond the level of a mere fight, but Kamijou had no way of knowing that since he had shown up partway through.
Kuroyoru smiled cynically while restrained.
“…I am a cyborg. My insides haven’t been messed with too much, but I can still manipulate the signals within my body to bring about a state of suspended animation on a cellular level. I can mess with my metabolism, so I can go without water for an entire week.”
“If it involves messing with your metabolism, then that means you can’t just go without eating.”
“Tch,” Kuroyoru clicked her tongue. “Listen up, you naïve bastard. I’m one of the Freshmen, the new darkness of this city. I’m the kind of person that targeted Fremea Seivelun’s life just to form a line between Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage and then kill them. I’d prefer you being a little more nervous about being near me.”
“I see…” Kamijou muttered.
That was the first he had heard of that general situation, so he took control of his feelings once more.
“But that’s no reason to get in a fight with me, right?”
For an instant, Kuroyoru felt he was right, but then she frantically shook her head.
“No, no, no!! You’re the one that truly got in the way at the end!! You delivered the final blow! You directly affected the outcome, so you’re a clear enemy!! You’re the kind of person I should have a grudge against!! You have guts to show up before me. Didn’t you think I might just chop you to pieces!?”
“…In the darkness I live in, there is a term called cyborg therapy,” said Kuroyoru with a smile. “Whether it’s victory over an illness, the raising of one’s physical abilities, or a correction of one’s personal appearance, the people who wish to be cyborgs have a defect or perceived inferiority in mind. Of course, those with any shame are not going to write whatever it is down on their order form, but you can still peer into the depths of that person by seeing what it is they’re trying to get across in a roundabout way.”
“For me, it was my arms. I only have two, and my power can only be emitted from my palms. I knew that having more points to emit it from would be better, so I branded myself with the stigma of having only two arms.” Kuroyoru Umidori shook her restrained body as she spoke. “As such, even though I am a cyborg, I did not have my entire body altered. What was done to me was centered on my arms, the shoulder blades that support them, and the connectors in various places on my upper body. My lower body is relatively untouched; after all, there was no reason to do anything to it.”
Kamijou heard an odd noise.
It was an oddly hard and metallic noise for something that was coming from a human body.
“Do you still not fucking understand?”
Her tone of voice changed.
“If my arms are in the damn way because they’re restrained, then I can just remove them!!”
With another metallic noise, Kuroyoru’s left arm came undone at the shoulder.
This was not just the shoulder being dislocated.
The entire left arm came off like a doll’s arm.
She swung around the left arm like nunchuks while it was held together by the long glove. Kuroyoru Umidori then turned her now-freed right arm towards the center of Kamijou’s face.
She was using Bomber Lance.
She had said that she had a reason to turn that power on him, but she was also the kind of person that would not hesitate to do so even without a reason.
“You’re taking villains too fucking lightly!!”
With an explosive noise, a spear made of nitrogen shot out.
That spear held destructive power that could pierce straight through composite armor, much less a human skull.
And Kamijou’s reaction to that impending death was…
“Yes, yes, and here’s Imagine Breaker.”
Kuroyoru stared in astonishment as her very identity was blown away with a light wave of his right hand.
Meanwhile, Kamijou could not exactly turn a blind eye to what had happened.
“…So just tying you up isn’t enough. Hmm… But you could be in danger if I can’t prove that you can’t resist.”
“Wait, wait!! Don’t just move the hell on!! Come to think of it, you were the one that did something to prevent me from killing Fremea, too, weren’t you!?”
“Oh, I know. If you can freely take them off as a cyborg, I can just take off the other one. If you have no hands, you can’t use your power.”
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait- Ow!? You idiot! They don’t just pop off like that!! How many damn locks do you think there are!? And even as a member of the darkness, confining a twelve-year-old kid in the bathroom and removing both her arms seems really fucking twisted to me!!”
“…Hey, the left arm isn’t going back on.”
“I’m not some old TV! You can’t fix it in an analog way like that!! Ahh, stop grinding it in there! If you hit the connecter wrong, it sends noise through the nerves for pain!! Dammit, gimme that!!”
Kuroyoru grabbed her left arm back from Kamijou, and reconnected it using a special process.
Everything related to the connector was completely artificial, so there was no blood. Due to this, it didn’t feel real to Kamijou and he looked her over interestedly.
“Being a cyborg sure seems convenient…”
“Do you know what the lifespan of precision equipment is? Think of a computer. If you have it at full operation 24/7, you’ll be lucky if it lasts three years. Do you really want a body that requires surgery that often?”
But Kamijou was not really listening to what she was saying.
He ripped open the plastic wrapping around the sandwich.
“But as a cyborg, you can have gills like a fish added on and live underwater, right? Not just swim, but live there. There would literally be a wider world you could live in.”
“…The issues of your cell’s osmotic pressure and a lot of other minute things would have to be dealt with, so you’d probably have to thoroughly change your body for that.”
“Or you could put cat ears on your head to gather auditory information from a wider range.”
When she heard that, Kuroyoru’s movements froze.
Immediately afterwards, she quickly backed up from him while still restrained.
“S-stop! What the hell are you imagining!?”
“I’m from the darkness!! I’m one of the Freshmen who have begun to hunt down the Graduates!! Don’t be stupid! That isn’t foreshadowing!! There isn’t going to be some strange development where it turns out that I always wear my hood in order to hide cat ears!!”
Accelerator heard the commotion coming from the unit bathroom, and (in an exceedingly rare move for him) silently paled.
There was a certain common point between all villains and those in the darkness.
That was the fact that having their cool atmosphere ruined would end everything.
No matter how much of a villain someone was, if they were handed an apron and thrown into a kindergarten, they would have no choice but to look after the children.
Normally, the villain would protect their own world by using violence to eliminate those who would ruin that atmosphere of theirs, but that Level 0 had a strange right hand.
It was frightening to think of what would happen if one could not eliminate those that would ruin that atmosphere.
Kuroyoru Umidori had been implanted with the especially attack-oriented part of Accelerator’s thoughts, so she was similar to a version of him that had headed down a different path.
If he failed, he would end up like that.
Accelerator had already deviated from villainy and darkness, but he swore in his heart that he would work to avoid being wrapped up in that kind of situation.
Between the Lines 2
She was not part of the blue Earth visible beyond the window.
In complete weightlessness, Kanzaki Kaori’s black ponytail waved unnaturally, and she spoke into a spiritual communication item. As she was using that rather than a radio, she had to be speaking with someone magical rather than someone scientific like the people from the submarine or the rocket control center.
She had relied on the power of science for the launch.
However, the rest would fall under the realm of magic.
“I have finished connecting the designated spiritual item. Can you monitor things from there?”
“W-we can detect the signal. It does not seem that you made any mistake in the connection,” responded a girl known as Itsuwa.
“There are sure to be some differences when using magic developed to be used on Earth. After all, they include the use of the cardinal directions and Earth's condition. I’ll be careful here, but it should be easier for you to carefully monitor the subtle changes in the values. I would appreciate it if you would stay alert.”
“We are constantly checking on the changes, including the effects of other heavenly bodies. Currently, nothing is outside the acceptable margin of error, including the power related to the tattva that flows from the sun and alters in elements by rotating around the Earth. As long as there isn’t a sudden flare causing a massive amount of solar wind, we estimate that there will be no errors that would hinder the mission.”
Of course, the science side had given them the records of solar wind and sunspots.
With the communications line still open, Kanzaki headed for the hatch of the spaceship. Instead of walking, she kicked off the wall and floated there.
Whenever she moved her body even slightly, a metallic clanking noise could be heard.
Due to the lack of gravity, she could not feel its weight, but Kanzaki was wearing something like the breastplate from Japanese-style armor. She also had some kind of jumbled-up device on her back that looked like a bunch of metal parts folded up.
If she were walking on Earth's surface, all of it would have weighed her down quite a bit.
As a Saint, she may have managed, but an average athlete would have been crushed.
However, if someone who specialized in researching space saw it, they may have frantically tried to stop Kanzaki. They would have said that heading “outside” with such light equipment was suicide.
It was not just an issue of breathing. Before one would suffocate, they would have to avoid quickly dying due to the issues with the pressure and temperature.
“Equipment check is complete. I am about to open the hatch and head out. There is still oxygen in the ship, but that does not matter, right?”
“There is a danger that the difference in pressure will damage some of the equipment in the ship, but it shouldn’t be a problem as that is just a disposable ship. But all of the air will move to leave the ship when you open the hatch, so be careful.”
“…If the spiritual item could be damaged by something like that, it would not be able to head out there or reenter the atmosphere.”
Kanzaki grabbed the hatch’s handle with one hand.
“If you leave it be, it seems the spaceship will reenter the atmosphere in half an hour and it will naturally burn up in reentry. The report said the reentry angle is set to annihilate the ship, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Understood. I’m going.”
“1000. Starting now. Good luck.”
After hearing that voice, Kanzaki unhesitatingly spun the handle.
After making three revolutions, a slight gap opened between the hatch and the wall. Immediately afterwards, the hatch itself was blown out into the pitch-black void. That propulsion was created by the remaining oxygen in the ship. The gas flowed in the direction with the least pressure.
But Kanzaki did not lose her balance.
The strangely shaped breastplate she was wearing automatically maintained her balance.
(…In Japanese legend, stories about the heads of oni or nobles with a grudge flying through the air are not exactly rare.)
Kanzaki thought while slowly heading “outside”.
(There are also stories of swords that could pursue that kind of malignance. Well, those are just a few of the many stories of weapons that automatically fight, such as the ones from Norse or Celtic traditions.)
She turned around, and could see the entirety of the spaceship she had been on. It was almost cone-shaped. The ship was more lead-colored than silver, and its basics were probably not too much different from those of a Cold War-era spaceship. However, the technology inside had been majorly changed.
The cone-shaped ship reflected a dazzling light.
It was being bathed in the sunlight.
Both the visible light and the invisible cosmic rays did not lose much energy there when compared to the surface surrounded in an atmosphere, so they could travel much farther. The area directly bathing in the sunlight had to have a surface temperature of nearly four hundred degrees.
But there was no hint of pain on Kanzaki’s face.
If she was not protected from that kind of thing, she would not have even been alive.
Kanzaki was calm enough to appreciate the oddly near and clear moon and the sea of stars that could not be seen due to the atmosphere and the light sources on Earth.
“Are you having any problems?”
“Not currently. It’s just that this is my first extra-vehicular activity. I have a few backups set up in case of any unexpected situations, but please monitor my situation closely.”
As she spoke, Kanzaki looked down at her feet.
There was no sense of up or down there, but her stance was that of one looking down.
“…I can see the target.”
There were white clouds robbing the Earth of its blueness, but there was a giant cross-shaped structure that looked as if it were pushing aside those clouds. Due to its altitude, it was not affected by the atmosphere as much. As such, it seemed to have clearer borders than those of the great landmasses on the surface.
Kanzaki split off a bit of the magic power flowing through her entire body, and sent new magic power through the breastplate. She checked on the circulation, and then a change occurred in the breastplate.
The metal parts that were folded up on her back opened wide. It looked like steel angel wings and also like a Japanese sword in the way it displayed beauty in the slight curves amidst the sharpness.
“I am beginning my descent.”
“I will be monitoring your angle of reentry.”
“As long as I can safely make it into the atmosphere, I will be able to land on Radiosonde Castle,” Kanzaki said as she slowly moved toward her home planet.
Her speed slowly but surely increased.
“After all, it would be hard to miss a target that huge.”
- A sumo wrestling term.