Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume3 Chapter5
Chapter 5: For What Purpose Should That Strength Be Used? The_Old_Glory.
(November 10 – Kauai – From a tide level monitoring camera)
Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, Hamazura Shiage, Misaka Mikoto, Misaka Worst, Kuroyoru Umidori, Leivinia Birdway, and Roberto Katze reached Kauai on the hovercraft Hamazura had supplied.
“It looks like the marines aren’t here yet.”
“Unlike with us, Olay has no reason to let them get here. They must be trying to find a way past the anti-ship missiles deployed across the islands.”
“But Saronia will have already started to move. In all likelihood, a PMC unit was sent to Kauai when this began. They would have been only a single radio call away from taking action,” said Accelerator.
“Trident and Saronia do not know the exact location of Olay’s daughter. They would likely find her eventually if they performed a thorough search, but they probably want any hints they can get. They probably only just now got the order now that we have actually made it here.”
“That means it’s just us and them for now,” said Mikoto as she brought her hand to her chin. “I’d rather we found this Lindy girl before the marines arrive and make this more complicated. You know where she is, right? Where is she exactly?”
Birdway put her index finger up to her lips and said, “As I said before, Olay and Saronia do not know where Lindy is. Seeing how they are legitimately trying to crush the marine force, they are likely planning to find her by monitoring our movements. …Of course, with that many soldiers, they could always just resort to a search. In the end, this means that our movements will act as the trigger that sends them to Lindy.”
“Prepare yourself before heading on. To save her, we must first bring danger to her. Act only once you have accepted that cruelty. Understand?”
Birdway looked everyone in the eye in turn, not just Mikoto.
After no one voiced any objections, she turned toward the president.
Holding the Imperial Package, Roberto responded while knowing full well that the unseen enemy was listening in.
“Lindy Blueshake is at Sunny Watcher 44-19. …The trigger has been pulled. It’s time to start the firefight with that occult-supplemented PMC.”
The heroes began to move.
They were moving to save Lindy Blueshake. They were moving to lure out Saronia A. Irivika.
The plan to theocratize America had begun in Hawaii and would spread to the entire United States as well as the science side as a whole if left unchecked. The final battle to decide its fate was beginning.
(Unknown Time – Unknown Location – Unknown Camera ID – From footage with altered video and audio)
Olay Blueshake wore a gaudy suit that fit her figure so well it clearly could not have been sold just anywhere and it had actually cost about the same as a midsized passenger jet. She also wore a ten-gallon hat and spurred boots that did not match the suit in the slightest. She did not wear them out of her own tastes or for any practical reason. They were purely to give a certain image to the public. The United States had always been fond of the frontier spirit. That image was a defensive measure against the common criticism those in the internet business received of being “too radical”.
She was in a high class hotel room…or so it looked. It could have been somewhere completely different and merely designed to look that way. It could have been deep underground, in a military facility, on a luxurious ocean liner, or in a large airplane. The available information was so scarce that the breadth of speculation spread out infinitely.
A young male secretary poured whisky into a glass and asked her, “Is there really any need to film yourself?”
“It is important to view everything objectively. Putting myself in the finder helps remind me that I am a piece on the game board as well.” Olay grabbed the glass proffered to her. “Being in a safe area makes one forget fundamental facts. It makes a mere piece think she is the player. …I mustn’t be so conceited. The game board that is the world is fully connected, so someone can reach any other part of it eventually if they put their mind to it. Safety is much less fuel efficient than you would think.”
Despite what she said, her calm words declared that she was confident in her own safety. Someone in a truly dangerous situation would force themselves to hold an optimistic view to help keep a stable heart.
The secretary was well aware of that, but he did not point it out.
“I see you managed to fix the compatibility between the FCE and Trident’s electronic camouflage.”
“That camouflage is so disliked because it is so ineffective.”
“What will you do with Miss Lindy?”
“I will have her brought back to me.” Olay’s tone stiffened there and there alone. “The Blueshake media network began as a collection of information on gold veins during the old gold rush. The network was made public during my grandfather’s generation, but no matter how far the types of businesses it encompasses have expanded, it must be passed down through the Blueshake bloodline.”
“I doubt Saronia A. Irivika and the Trident PMC will carry this out as you asked them to.”
“There is a reason they are able to think those unnecessary things and take those unnecessary actions for unnecessary gain. …That reason is leeway. Because the conquest of the Hawaiian Islands is going so well, they are able to think about more complicated and troublesome things like taking detours that open up more opportunities for them.”
“And what will you do about this?”
“I will of course make sure they cannot think about those more complicated and troublesome things. I will corner them, rob them of their leeway, and make sure they can only think of the simple things. What is the most fundamental thing for a soldier to do? Isn’t it to work at their job to the point that they can no longer think?” As Olay spoke, she typed on her thin, supple fingers raced across her computer’s keyboard. “And so I must have Miss Roseline and her marine volunteers drive Saronia and Trident into a corner.”
“Will they really act based on information received from us?”
“I will not be simply giving an order. I will merely leave them with a hint. If they think they came up with the idea on their own, they will jump at the chance to carry it out.”
(November 10 – Kauai – Mountainous Area in Anahola – From an in-vehicle camera)
Hamazura Shiage, Leivinia Birdway, and Roberto Katze were driving through a mountainous area on the eastern side of Kauai. They were of course using a stolen vehicle.
Apparently, Lindy Blueshake was in an area in northern Kauai known as Napali Coast. Kamijou and the others had landed on the southeastern side of the island and the center of the island was too mountainous, so they had to circle around the island to reach Lindy. This required them to follow the coastline where Trident had their anti-ship missiles set up.
Due to that difficulty the terrain presented, Hamazura and the others had split into a few groups that were heading for Napali Coast using different routes. Hamazura’s group was taking the route that headed counterclockwise around the island’s circumference.
The president stared out the window and at the coast spreading out behind the mountain surface. He narrowed his eyes at the sight of mercenaries setting up various pieces of equipment.
“Even if they are overlooking us to a certain extent to find Lindy, that’s only for the convenience of those at the top. If they actually spot us, a firefight will be unavoidable.”
“The one piece of luck is that your aide and the marine volunteers were slowed down,” muttered Birdway in the backseat.
While driving, Hamazura frowned and said, “Don’t you have that backwards? They’d clearly end up fighting Gremlin and Trident, too. If the other two sides are fighting each other, wouldn’t that make things easier for us?”
“You’re the one that has it backwards. They’re only overlooking us because Olay and Saronia have control. If the marines made it to Kauai and chaos broke out, those bosses might lose control of their troops. Without a power working to give us uninterrupted use of the roads like this, we would be stuck in the middle of an unthinkable melee.”
“Not good,” muttered Roberto. He was still staring out the window. “Roseline has made her move. Boy! Stop this car now! We’re about to get pushed to the side!!”
With a confused expression, Hamazura looked over in the same direction as the president…and then frantically slammed on the brakes.
The tires screeched as they scraped against the asphalt and an instant later even that noise was wiped away.
This was due to a few dozen air-to-surface missiles fired from out in the ocean.
Twenty cutting edge stealth fighters came soaring only a few dozen centimeters off the ocean surface at over 400 kph. They had likely come from Oahu. The eruption of Kilauea had supposedly made aircraft unusable, but that restriction was being circumvented by flying at extremely low altitudes.
However, it was not entirely accurate to call what they were doing “flying”.
In the spot where wheels normally were, the fighters had ski-like floats forcibly attached. By sacrificing aerodynamic and stealth functionality, they could now “grasp” the ocean surface. The fighters were not merely flying just off the surface. It was more like they were being pushed forward as they floated on the surface.
Trident had built their defenses out of anti-ship missiles, so they could not deal with invaders that could move so quickly.
The fighters flew past the few anti-ship missiles that were fired and then fired deadly missiles of their own at the coast.
An orange wall appeared for about twelve kilometers across the white beach.
The wall was created from explosive flames and shockwaves.
Despite being more than five kilometers away from it, Hamazura’s car skidded disconcertingly to the side.
His seatbelt must have constricted his lungs along with his ribs because Roberto Katze let out a gasp from the passenger seat.
“…Dammit Roseline!! Do you not realize I’m here!? Or do you know but you’re firing anyway!?”
“This isn’t over. Now that the anti-missile network has been sealed off, something else will be coming to finish this!” warned Birdway.
And that was precisely what happened.
With their initial bombing over, the stealth fighters circled around without landing. From behind them, landing ships plowed onto the beach. The ships were equipped with hydrofoils and they could move at 100 kph. The steel ships slid up onto land all at once like beached whales.
Doors on the back opened and soldiers poured out.
The soldiers were equipped differently than Trident. They used the proper equipment of that nation. A group of over 150 such soldiers invaded Kauai.
“This is finally coming to a head,” muttered Hamazura as he turned the key once more to restart the stalled car. “In an uncontrollable battlefield, a three-way battle is beginning over Lindy Blueshake.”
(November 10 – Kauai – Blue Energy Gas Station – From a rearview camera in an abandoned sedan)
He had failed to escape.
Weck Lunasand was hiding at an abandoned gas station. He was breathing heavily while crouching behind one of the vending machines on one side of the building.
Only seventy centimeters away but on the other side of the vending machine, he could hear countless people passing by. He could only hear the sound of feet on white sand. If he was found, he was done for. His hand was not on his chest, but that thought made him overly conscious of his heartbeat.
The company ID hanging from his neck said he was a children’s surfing instructor.
He had stuck with his professional ethics too much and had failed.
He had failed at life.
Immediately after the commotion had originally broken out, Weck had piled the children in his class into his SUV and headed for an abandoned building in Chinatown. The building held nothing more than dust and roaches, but he knew it had a civilian nuclear shelter. The room was only a few meters across, but it was enough to hide in. A highly polished resort hotel filled with expensive things was one thing, but he doubted anyone would force their way into an old, run-down building like that. All they had to do then was close the thick door and wait it out.
But then one of the children had told him one of them was missing.
“I should’ve just abandoned him. Dammit. Two thousand dollars a month isn’t worth this.”
Despite having left that safe area, he had not found the missing child.
Soldiers that glittered like CDs were all over the place with the kind of assault rifles often seen in movies that were shaped a bit like hacksaws. That had made it difficult to go anywhere. Their equipment was different from the American soldiers he saw in bars or undergoing public training. And if they were not American soldiers, who were they? About all he could figure out was that it would be bad if they spotted him. They had not found him yet, but it was only a matter of time. Every route was already blocked.
He recalled the weight in his right hand.
It was a .38 revolver that had been in the dashboard of the sedan he had deserted in front of the gas station. However, he doubted he could accomplish anything with it. A gunshot would be like telling a pack of wild dogs where some meat was. Also, he was unsure he could hit with the first shot and he was at a gas station. He could not deny the possibility that there was enough evaporated gasoline floating around that gunfire would cause a giant explosion.
The gun was more a good luck charm than anything.
He needed it to ensure he did not panic and do something stupid.
“At any rate, I have to survive this somehow. I need to get out of here. Wait, there’s gasoline here. If I put it in some kind of container and set that off, I can draw their attention elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with it if it’s to save my life.”
He may have been speaking out loud in order to forcibly get himself to accept what he was saying. In other words, even then, Weck Lunasand’s softheartedness remained.
And a further trial remained for that softhearted man.
He heard the cry of a small boy.
Weck frowned, leaned back against the vending machine, and covered his face with his hands.
“Shit…Is that Steve…!?”
Steve was the last student that had gotten separated from the group.
Weck crawled forward along the oil-smelling concrete in order to peer out from behind the corner of the vending machine. He spotted a dozen or so men and women walking across the white beach. They were being led by four or five silver soldiers with rifles.
Amid that group was a single ten-year-old boy.
The difficulty level had just shot up.
The same question crept up in the back of his mind as back in the shelter: should I abandon him or not?
“What can I even do…?”
His breathing grew even more erratic. He felt a great pressure in his gut. However, that pressure was not simply fear for his life. It was caused by his decision to leave another human being to die.
“That’s it. I’ve done enough. For only $2,000 a month, saving seven of them is commendable. I don’t need to get greedy, right?”
After realizing he was saying it out loud, Weck stopped breathing for an instant.
Saying it aloud was his ritual for forcibly getting himself to accept what he was saying.
That meant he did not actually accept it.
“…I’d just get myself killed…”
After saying that one last thing that he could not accept, Weck Lunasand looked around the area.
He was at a gas station. There was tons of gasoline there. He could divide it up into small containers. The wind would carry the evaporated gasoline that was scattered about the beach. Depending on how he used it, he might be able to temporarily toy with the silver soldiers.
Just as methods started entering his mind, he heard a slight metallic noise.
One of the silver soldiers had approached without Weck noticing and he held the barrel of his rifle against the back of Weck’s head.
It had been a mistake to peer out.
The situation had been worsened by the fact that he held that handgun. The soldier had no way of knowing he was only using it as a good luck charm.
“Dammit. I don’t want to die…!!”
He spoke out loud, but he was not about to convince the soldier of anything.
Just as Weck Lunasand squeezed his eyes shut, he heard a loud crash.
The man holding the assault rifle had suddenly flown a few meters to the side.
For an instant, Weck thought the man had been hit by a dump truck.
Even after turning around and seeing it with his own eyes, he could not believe that the man had actually been struck by a careless kick of a slender leg.
The great crash of the silver soldier’s body destroying a vending machine brought all attention on that spot. However, the one who had thrown the kick did not seem to care.
He had white hair and red eyes.
The impression he gave was more that of a beast than of a human.
“…What a fucking pain.”
Two girls accompanied him. They both had the same face, but the look in their eyes was different. The middle school aged one had a proper look, but the older one had the look of a criminal on a wanted poster.
Speaking to the white figure, the middle school aged girl said, “We can start here. Once we hack into Trident’s command cloud, we can destroy their defensive network of anti-ship missiles. Then naval reinforcements can be called in. I have a lot I want to say to you, so I’d rather not get bogged down here.”
“I intend to repay my debt to the clones, but I have no intention of apologizing to you. You aren’t conveniently forgetting that you too were one of the ones responsible for that experiment, are you?”
“I of course intend to make up for that, but it pisses me off to hear it from the poster boy of the experiment.”
While creating an extremely threatening atmosphere, the two of them slowly headed for the beach. They were of course headed there to rescue the tourists being held at gunpoint.
Weck was completely taken aback and the girl with the mischievous look in her eyes winked and said, “Basically, those two tsunderes are saying everything is going to be okay.”
With countless explosions, two monsters ruled the battlefield.
They were the #1 and the #3.
Those two Level 5s had singlehandedly traversed the battlefields of World War III and now a tornado of destruction surrounded them.
(November 10 – Kauai – From a helmet camera for the command cloud)
Saronia A. Irivika was aboard a hovercraft. Lindy was conjectured to be in Napali Coast and its more inaccessible areas were difficult to reach with a normal vehicle. It was much faster to approach by sea.
Trident had been instructed by their client to put together a team to recover Lindy, but Saronia’s inclusion in that team was not in line with the client’s wishes.
The Trident member in charge of piloting the hovercraft spoke to Saronia.
“We will focus on stopping the other forces. Can we leave apprehending the target to you?”
“That would be for the best. With professional killers like you, a threat could end up leading to quite a bit of bloodshed.”
“…Our client would kill us. Do you know who hired us?”
“Olay Blueshake. But that really does not matter,” said Saronia readily in the sea breeze. And she did not stop with just that one outrageous statement. “Gremlin does not matter either. Of course, Trident does not matter. Nor does the theocratization of the United States or the collapse of the balance between the magic side and the science side. None of it matters.”
“O-our conversation is being monitored by the FCE…”
“Yes, I’m sure she’s listening in. But it’s the same for you, isn’t it? Trident has its own objective and you have your own objective. In the end, everyone decides what to give precedence based on what benefits us personally.”
As she spoke, Saronia pulled a rectangular plastic pill case out of her pocket.
In the many partitioned spaces were seeds of trees.
“My country was torn apart by World War III.”
“And yet there were a few countries and areas that benefitted from that war. The primary examples are Academy City and the United States. On top of that, they are remaking my country as they see fit by controlling the flow of money being sent in the name of war restorations.”
“I-I had heard it was mostly construction of infrastructure…”
“Winter is coming. They have requisitioned the natural gas pipelines, claiming it is so they can repair them, but they are delaying that work for the sake of clearly unnecessary construction. They know full well that heating is a lifeline there in the winter, but they are having people swear their loyalty.” A thin smile appeared on Saronia’s face. “We can’t let them do that, now can we?”
Her tone held no thorns and it even had the kind of sweetness one used to entice the opposite sex, but the veteran Trident soldier realized he was trembling.
“That is why I will return things back to the way they should be.”
She took one of the seeds from the pill case and placed it on her palm. She then rolled it around, smelled it, and bit into it with her back teeth.
With a look in her eye like she had remembered something, Saronia continued speaking.
“It is only natural for Academy City and the United States to pay up. It is only natural for that money to truly act in Russia’s favor. Since they refuse to make the initial preparations, I will force them to. After all, they made so much money during that war. Having to give a little back to those they used as a stepping stone seems like an appropriate punishment to me.”
Normally, Trident might have tried to stop Saronia with military force in order to protect their client’s interests.
But they could not.
Despite being accustomed to creating corpses, the mercenaries were frozen in place out of fear of the strange occult and that girl who could freely wield it.
“Oh, and Olay Blueshake. I seem to recall your name being on a list of people who made all sorts of money during that war.”
She had never intended to simply obey.
Magicians tended to give the one precedence over the all. That nature suddenly showed itself.
As she continued on in search of Lindy Blueshake, ferocious intent was displayed on Saronia’s face.
(November 10 – Kauai – Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #300)
Napali Coast was registered as a state park, but the areas deeper into the park could only be reached by heading along a few kilometers of saw tooth-like cliffs where no normal car could pass. A log house stood in that deep cliffy area.
Harzak Lolas, a large man who towered over two meters tall, was tending to a terraced vegetable garden he kept near the log house. It had originally been to grow food, but chaos had taken over ever since its proper owner had started growing flowers in it. Harzak was not growing food in it either. Unbefitting of his large body, he was replanting a small seedling from a planter into the garden with delicate movements of his hands.
Suddenly, the log house’s door opened.
Without turning around, Harzak spoke to the girl who had to stretch up and turn the knob with both hands.
“If you aren’t going swimming, you don’t need to wear a swimsuit.”
“It’s hot. The power generators and the solar panels aren’t enough to keep the air conditioner on all day. And it’ll be hot tonight, so I have to save up power in the batteries. Also, I’m gonna go fishing again this evening.”
That conversation was a custom of theirs, so Harzak was not actually trying to fix the girl’s habit. He changed the subject and said, “Your textbooks are in the mailbox.”
“You’re the one that brings the mail, so you don’t have to just leave it in the mailbox, Harzak.”
“This is your house, Lindy. I am only here to help out. More importantly, you need to check the textbooks to make sure none are missing. I’ll make that long trip as many times as it takes.”
“…I don’t like textbooks.”
“No one likes studying.”
“I’d rather listen to your stories.”
“Unfortunately, those won’t be of any use to you,” Harzak said as he adjusted the soil where he had just transplanted a small seedling. “Will you gain the knowledge of a citizen of the United States or of a native Hawaiian? Both have value. I don’t make the cut on either count. You can tell just by hearing my name. My parents did a poor job of naturalization, so I don’t have a good grasp of the native language or culture. And yet I can’t get used to life in modern America either.”
“Mhh…” The girl named Lindy puffed out her cheeks. “But I still like your stories.”
Having said what she wanted to say, the girl grabbed the textbooks wrapped in plastic and headed back into the log house.
Harzak truly thought she was a good, pure girl, but that was exactly why he could not let an idiot like himself influence her too much.
He had heard that a true king still lived somewhere in the Hawaiian Islands, but he had never even seen a hint of it being true. Was this king in some unexplored land or had he blended into the cities? Harzak had lost even the slightest desire to search him out and become a member of his kingdom. He was sick of running out of strength partway up the mountain and heading back down.
After finishing his work on the garden, Harzak stood up, wiped sweat from his face with his arm, and looked up into the blue sky that was thinly covered by volcanic ash.
It was rare for the ash to make it all the way to Kauai. He started to wonder if he should cover the garden in plastic if it was going to continue for much longer.
That was when he noticed something odd.
He saw what looked like a twenty or thirty cm long dragonfly.
But that was not what it was.
It had a body made of polycarbonate and wings made of ABS resin, it moved around using a motor, and it was equipped with a transmitter and a camera, so it could hardly be called a normal dragonfly.
“…A lens…A camera…” muttered Harzak.
He then recalled why Lindy Blueshake was living in a place like that. He recalled what it was she utterly loathed. He recalled why government workers had introduced her to that “unexplored land” that lacked any and all presence by the mass media.
“Not good… Lindy, Lin—!!” Harzak started yelling as he turned back toward the log house, but a hand reached from behind him and covered his large mouth.
He had no idea when, how, or from where someone had gotten there.
Still having no idea what was going on, Harzak was pushed down to the side of the garden as if his opponent had used some kind of magic trick. Due to the glare of the sun, he could not see his attacker’s face, but the silhouette was enough to tell him he held a handgun.
Harzak would be shot.
He felt a pain like his heart was bound in something like a kite string, but the sound of a gunshot never reached his ears.
He had no idea what was going on.
Bit by bit, he realized that the attacker sitting atop him was trembling, that the attacker had a transparent spear pressed up against his throat, and that the owner of the spear had approached silently from behind the attacker.
An Asian boy and girl stood there.
The boy had spiky hair and the younger girl had a nasty look in her eyes that made her incomparable to Lindy.
They started saying things in Japanese.
“You’re from Trident, aren’t you?” The speaker continued without waiting for the attacker to respond. “Would you rather take a nitrogen spear or a fist?”
For an instant, the attacker looked down at the handgun he was pointing at Harzak and then quickly turned it toward the two Asians.
However, before he could actually use it, the girl’s spear sliced off the barrel of the handgun as well as the front of his helmet. In the next instant, the boy’s fist slammed into the attacker’s face. The silver soldier collapsed backwards and the boy spoke to him in Japanese.
“You should thank me. I actually saved your life.”
“I did most of the work. All those ones collapsed over there were my doing,” the girl said.
“Kuroyoru takes everything too seriously. If I wasn’t here to stop her, she probably would have taken off all of your heads.”
“Where are the others? Are we the first ones here?”
Harzak could not understand what they were saying, but four other silver soldiers lay collapsed in the direction the girl had pointed.
As Harzak lay there in shock, the boy looked over toward the ocean that was visible beyond the cliff and said something.
Harzak could not understand his words, but a strange phenomenon followed.
The phenomenon came from the right hand of the girl with the nasty look in her eyes.
The motion was similar to typing on a keyboard, but it was as fast as an electric sewing machine. The repeated sound of her fingers striking the garden’s fence came together to form English words that sounded like someone accurately reading from a textbook.
“The troops Olay Blueshake hired have begun to move in order to take Lindy back. If you are the one charged with being her guardian, you should more or less understand the situation. Do not let her fall into Olay’s hands. Take Lindy with you and flee!”
Harzak was utterly confused, but the girl was not about to let him argue.
“Hurry! They are coming up from the ocean!! You have no time!!”
Harzak looked over and saw a large hovercraft approaching the base of the cliff that looked like a saw blade.
However, he did not have time to just leisurely watch.
A few of the silver soldiers clinging to the cliff were pointing bullpup-style assault rifles their way. As high-pitched gunshots rang out, the boy and girl lay down on the ground and Harzak frantically made his way into the log house.
“What’ll we do now?” asked the girl.
“We have to at least let Lindy and her guardian escape. Then we just have to fight until we can stop Saronia.”
“You certainly sound calm for someone up against assault rifles, Mr. Japanese.”
“To be honest, I think I’d be too scared to do anything if they had handguns. However, this is on such a huge scale that it just doesn’t seem real.”
The two heard the noises of Harzak and Lindy escaping from the backdoor of the log house. After making sure those two were gone, they started to circle around to the side of the house to use it as cover.
But then the boy suddenly smelled flowers.
Immediately afterwards, the boy’s left arm suddenly dropped.
It dropped straight down. Limply. The joint was still connected, but it dropped down and swayed with no strength in it. He could not bring any strength to the arm from the fingertips up to the shoulder. He felt no pain, heat, or cold. He also felt an odd numbness on the left half of his face. He was unsure what expression was displayed there.
He frantically grabbed his left arm with his right hand, but there was no response. It was apparently not something that could be simply fixed with Imagine Breaker.
“My left arm…?”
“What? I’m not detecting any kind of chemical weapon,” said the girl while making an action with her right hand as if she were gently grasping something.
The girl must have come to the idea from the trembling of the skin on his face, but the boy was half sure it was something else.
They were up against users of magic that had modified spells so they would work against a certain boy and make him suffer.
Still holding his unnaturally limp left arm, the boy looked back toward the cliff from around the outer wall of the log house. He spotted a familiar face among the silver soldiers.
“Saronia A. Irivika!!”
(November 10 – Kauai – Northern Off Limits Area of Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #210)
The deeper areas of Napali Coast were made up of repeated saw tooth-like cliffs and normal cars could not traverse the dangerous paths.
But nothing was without exception.
For instance, there was such a thing as a monster truck.
In Japan, radio-controlled toys were often more well-known than the actual trucks. With four exceedingly large tires and suspension as thick as pillars, they were the ultimate off road vehicles. As the vehicle flew easily through the air while using forty-five degree slopes as jumps, it truly seemed to live up to its name as a monster.
It was of course stolen.
They had borrowed it from some tourists who had fled in the middle of a barbecue party.
“There she is!! It’s the girl from the picture! Why isn’t she waiting in the log house?” shouted Hamazura Shiage as he drove the stolen vehicle over a steep slope with a roar of the engine.
In the passenger seat, the president’s face had paled to the point it looked like he could barf at any second. In the backseat, Birdway was arrogantly sitting with her arms crossed and without a seatbelt while experiencing the shaking of the truck defying gravity.
Despite Hamazura’s complaint, finding the target so soon made things easier.
Hamazura started to bring the monster truck around toward Lindy and the large man pulling at her arm as they escaped along the dangerous path.
Suddenly, Hamazura heard a crash and his vision turned pure white.
A soft, ball-shaped projectile used for riot suppression had been fired from a grenade launcher. Instead of a piercing shock, the force of the impact had spread out across the windshield.
With his vision cut off, Hamazura immediately slammed on the brakes, but he realized an instant later that the attacker had been hoping for precisely that.
“Shit…not good! Get out, Hamazura!! Even if you speed up now, we won’t make it in time!!”
Roberto Katze half-rolled out of the passenger seat and Hamazura followed suit after turning the key. First, the windshield was completely shattered by gunfire and then the scattered gunfire focused on the president and chased after them. Rolling along the sharp ups and downs atop the cliff, Roberto quickly reached cover.
In fear of accidentally shooting Lindy, the silver soldier used the stock of his bullpup-style rifle to beat down the large man with her instead of shooting him. He then grabbed the girl’s arm and threw her into the backseat of the monster truck. He climbed in the driver’s seat and turned the key that was still in the ignition.
Immediately afterwards, the silver soldier’s body bent backwards with a crackling noise.
“That’s what happens when someone has messed with the ignition and the ground,” said Hamazura as he calmly returned to the truck and opened the door. “No matter how much you train, you can’t win in a fight against a high-amperage, three-hundred-volt current.”
Repeated primitive sounds of violence could be heard.
Once the silver soldier could truly not move, Hamazura took his handgun and assault rifle and tossed him from the driver’s seat. Hamazura undid the trick he had applied to the vehicle and turned the key like he owned it.
A bit later, the president climbed into the driver’s seat, turned around, and got a shocked look on his face.
“Miss Birdway! You didn’t escape!?”
“There was no need,” said Birdway simply as she lightly swung about a dagger she had seemingly pulled out of thin air.
Having been thrown in next to Birdway, Lindy Blueshake was leaning away and grabbing onto the driver’s seat headrest out of fear of the blade.
“U-um, Mr. President!!”
“Oh!! F-finally…Finally I meet someone who recognizes me as the president at first glance!”
“D-don’t get tears in your eyes like that! U-Um…The thing is…!!”
“Huh? But I thought this girl hated the media and didn’t read the newspapers or watch TV. How is she so familiar with how you look?” cut in Hamazura.
For someone reason, Roberto puffed out his chest and said, “Back when suspicions about the FCE were being investigated, Olay Blueshake got some help from a pain-in-the-ass group of lawyers and just barely managed to escape all legal responsibility, but that was when the household environment Lindy was in came to light. It was basically a crazy form of a gifted children’s program. It was the kind of thing where the parent shows her love by insisting her kid lives out the ideal she sees in their head and so she puts all the blame on the kid and says the kid betrayed her when it doesn’t work out exactly right. Roseline said it would be difficult to interfere and that it would have a major effect on how the news reports things about me, but I’m just too much of a dandy, so I had to help her no matter the cost. Ain’t I great?”
“So this isn’t the first time she’s met you. Of course, she recognizes you!”
“Let me get to my point! Please!! What is going to happen to Harzak!? He’s getting smaller and smaller back there!!”
“Girl, I understand how you feel, but you and I are their targets.” The president grabbed her small shoulder and pushed her back into the seat. “I promise I will return you to him, but right now it is safest for him if you are not with him.”
Lindy Blueshake shrank down into the back seat.
She was not lost in confusion because she did not know what was going on.
She had the face of someone who was seeing the terrible situation they had seen coming.
“…Has my mom gotten this close already?”
“Yes,” the president admitted. “The time to overcome her is approaching fast.”
(November 10 – Kauai – Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #300)
With his left arm unusable, Kamijou Touma hid behind the log house along with Kuroyoru Umidori. Even then, the mixed unit of Trident and Gremlin was continuing to land. The silver soldiers disembarking from the hovercraft by the cliff easily moved about in that dangerous area and aimed their bullpup-style assault rifles toward Kamijou and Kuroyoru.
Along with a loud noise, the logs making up the building were torn into by the bullets.
“That #1 is completely fucking useless! He isn’t pulling any of them away from us! What the hell are we supposed to do? At this rate, they’ll have circled around behind us before long!!” spat out Kuroyoru.
“A collection of ordinary firepower, hm?” Kamijou looked down at his unmoving left hand. “This isn’t just for me. It’s a means to fight against supernatural powers in general. People like Birdway and Misaka can’t be defeated with bullets, but they’re still human. If bullets are flying their way, they have to use their supernatural powers to counter them. While they are being stopped by that and unable to use their powers for their full potential on something else, Saronia and the Gremlin magicians can circle around and get in a fatal attack.”
“Thanks for the explanation, but that doesn’t answer my damn question! Our only weapons are your right hand and my two hands. How are we supposed to get out of this!?”
“They have to be thinking that we will be afraid of the rain of bullets and avoid trying to break through the center. Of course, the magicians will be blocking any other path of escape.”
“If we do what they don’t expect and do go straight through the center, we’ll cut Trident and Gremlin off from each other.”
“Are you fucking insane? We don’t have the firepower to pull that off!!”
“Just to make sure, you’re a cyborg and you can make as many nitrogen spears as you have arms, right?”
“How the hell does that help us!? You all took every single one of my extra arms back in Academy City, so I only have these two!!”
“If you don’t have enough, we just need to get you more.”
“Technology is not a talent given only to certain chosen people. This is not Academy City, so we won’t be able to make an arm that looks perfectly human. But if we focus only on having it function as something to produce nitrogen spears from, the materials outside Academy City might suffice.”
“Keh. So what, you’re thinking the more additional hands we hide around, the higher the odds of getting in a successful surprise attack?”
“Do you have data on a diagram or something? To be honest, engineering isn’t exactly my forte. I’d have to leave it all to you.”
“…I can manage, but what are you going to do?”
“The enemy has more than just conventional firepower.” Kamijou Touma pulled out his cell phone. “We need to come up with a way to deal with Saronia.”
He called Leivinia Birdway.
“Birdway! Have you made any progress on analyzing the spell Saronia uses? The Leshy thing!”
“The automatic analysis done by the papyrus was completely fake. Mark and the others are gathering data while aiding the marines fighting Trident across the Hawaiian Islands, but they have not gotten any real results yet.”
“Even if they were fake, can’t we use the results from the papyrus?”
“We were led to that fake information by Saronia, so that means it’s exactly what she wanted us to think was the case. …If I were her, I would have given the enemy fake information that would lead them away from my own weaknesses. Something like saying Imagine Breaker was a projectile weapon. We may not be able to do an in depth analysis of her psychology or anything, but can’t we at least try to see what she was trying to hide with the fake information?”
With the additional arms and using the fake information from the papyrus against Saronia, that boy’s cleverness had gone beyond the norm. It may have been due to his many similar past experiences.
“I see. That is a promising proposition. I’ll pass the information on to my subordinates.”
Kamijou hung up and then heard Kuroyoru shouting at him, urged on by the gunfire.
“Hey, hero! Quit leaving everything to others and help me take apart this generator’s transformer and this hot-water heater!!”
“...You’re getting your cyborg parts from there?” Kamijou said half in shock but quickly got to work.
They simply had not time for him to argue.
(November 10 – Kauai – Northern Off Limits Area of Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #210)
In order to protect Lindy, the monster truck roared off, leaving the large unconscious man behind.
“Hey, Mr. President. You said we need to take her somewhere safe, but where can we escape Olay’s FCE!?”
“I don’t know, but with this monster truck’s mobility, we should head to the central mountainous area of the island! After we lose them, we can think up a way to get off the island!!”
They had no definite means of escape.
The Hawaiian Islands had emergency underground command centers in case there was a crisis on the mainland, but even those thick shelters could not be said to be absolutely safe.
A fixed facility that was already registered was of no value.
Constantly moving around and keeping their location fluid would lower the danger of attack.
Even doing that was like walking a tightrope, but with Trident and Gremlin approaching from behind, Hamazura and the others had no choice but to keep running.
Meanwhile, Roberto Katze checked the Imperial Package and let out a surprised noise.
“What is it?”
“Warnings are being sent out like crazy over the marine network. Those two—you said they were Academy City Level 5s, right?—are going around neutralizing any force they come across whether it’s marine or Trident.”
“That would be the #1 and the #3. It’s hard to believe that they’re officially known as students,” said Birdway happily.
Even then, red x-marks were appearing one after another on the map. Dozens of x-marks formed two lines showing the routes they were taking.
Napali Coast was rich with untouched nature and areas too dangerous to enter with normal cars covered much of it, but the relatively gentle areas functioned as tourist sites. The two lines of x-marks were scattered about mostly on those areas where people would have been gathered.
“Those damn monsters. Are they trying to get Hollywood to make a movie about them?”
“Here one comes. Ah! The fantastic girl is passing right over us!!”
“Hah?” said Hamazura as he looked up.
At the same time, he heard a dull clunk come from the roof of the monster truck. It sounded like someone had landed on it after falling from the sky.
The roof was forced open and Mikoto’s head stuck in upside down.
“Are you all okay!?”
“I thought you were going around with Accelerator and Misaka Worst, throwing the other two forces into confusion?”
“I did what needed to be done. …Is that girl Lindy-chan?”
“We were just barely managing to get away, girl.”
“That’s good. …Is that idiot not with you? Ugh, and I still haven’t been able to give him the Cupid Arrow tag ring,” muttered Mikoto.
“Are you looking for a boy you’re interested in?” asked Lindy in English.
“Bwoh!? Cough cough! That was all it took for you to figure out what I was talking about with such pinpoint accuracy!?”
“Umm… With a boy, you just need to throw your bra at him and then embrace him without your bra on while he’s taken aback. After that, he’ll be like a dog that was just given its food.”
“Do you know what you’re saying!? Please tell me you don’t understand what that means!” Mikoto shouted and added under her breath, “And I’m sure someone your age doesn’t even wear a bra.”
“That’s what the president told me when I met him before, so it has to be true.”
“She’s right, girl. If you want to get yourself a guy, you need to change into a skimpy swimsuit and have a beer in one hand. All you have to do then is press your chest up against him and undo your bikini. Your point will be even more obvious if you do it near a beachside motel.”
“Even if you’re the president, I’ll still punch you!! If you try to say that’s the American way, it would be an insult to the American people!!”
“Girl, you don’t need to worry. When I gave money to fund the development of string bikinis, my approval rating went up a bit. The population of the United States is aging and some issues are arising with social security, so some drastic measures are needed to raise the birthrate.”
“This isn’t an issue with America!! There’s just something wrong with guys!!”
“Roseline buried her head in her hands for some reason too. I just don’t see why everyone is worrying so much over such a simple matter.”
Suddenly, with the sound of a low thicket being crushed, a mass of steel headed their way. It was a khaki-colored tank with lots of phonebook-like explosive reaction armor attached. As the large mass advanced, its treads seemed to tear into the rock surface, but it was surprisingly fast. It was catching up to the monster truck at over 80 kph.
In shock, the president shouted, “That’s from a Northern European company that entered the tank industry when their country wanted to be like Germany! I thought they had lost to the competition in the EU and disappeared, but it looks like they fell to this level!!”
“So it’s from Trident?”
“Yes. I doubt they’ll fire the main gun at us, but the light machine guns are enough of a problem!!”
“Birdway! Can’t you do something with your magic!?”
“Well, I could, but at this range, I’d blow away the monster truck as well.”
“Then I’ll just have to do something,” said Mikoto.
She pulled her head back up followed by a loud noise. Hamazura checked in the rearview mirror and saw her land neatly on the saw-like bare rock.
Merely being able to counteract such a great speed was enough to set her apart from normal humans.
She stood directly in the path of the tank that was moving at over 80 kph. It was unclear what she had done, but the tank suddenly stopped as if it had run into an invisible wall.
“…How much of a monster is she?” muttered Hamazura in shock after the girl disappeared from view.
But the danger was not over. A new disaster showed itself.
It started with a noise.
At first it sounded like the roar of fireworks being set off and a high-pitched whistle-like noise continued on above them. The same thing happened ten to thirty times.
The president realized what it was first and his face paled.
“Brace yourself!! Here it comes!!”
Hamazura did not even have time to ask what was coming.
With an explosive noise, tens or even hundreds of thousands of blades rained down from the heavens.
They were a type of bearing cluster weapon called Cutters. The killing power of a 180 mm gun was enhanced with blades wrapped within the shell like a spring or coil. Like a box cutter, the blades were purposefully made to cut easily and countless numbers of them spread out in the shock of the explosion and rained down on the enemy.
The danger spread seventy meters out from the area of detonation.
With ten to thirty of them, the sharp metal fragments spread out over a wide area with almost no gaps. They were being fired by mass produced guns, but their trajectories were not necessarily the same. Small differences such as temperature, humidity, wind direction, and the way the gun’s combustible gas escaped could change the trajectories. The fact that they were so evenly covering the area showed how skilled those firing them were.
The branches of the trees in the mountainous area were chopped off and the roof and hood of the monster truck were covered in orange sparks.
The truck’s tires were torn to shreds and the giant four-wheel drive vehicle slid to the side.
“!! Trident again!?”
“No, I signed the bill that led to the adoption of those 180 mm guns. So unless they’ve been stolen…”
“So it’s the marine volunteers!?”
They did not have time to come up with a countermeasure.
Multiple figures silently approached and simultaneously attacked the driver’s side and passenger side of the half-destroyed monster truck. Without even opening the doors, Hamazura and Roberto were pulled out through the shattered windows. Another man who was peering into the backseat spotted Birdway and Lindy. Oddly, the man seemed to overlook the fact that Birdway was holding a dagger in her right hand while crossing her arms.
“Thirty-one. I have located Lindy Blueshake and will now bring her in. Prepare for the ‘negotiations’,” the man said into his radio.
“Wait…” gasped the president after he had fallen onto his back when dragged from the window. “I…do not authorize…the use of that method. As the President…of the United States of America…I order you to…”
“What are you going on about? You’ve lost,” spat out the marine. “Who’s going to obey a president that won’t do anything to protect his own country? You have a duty to at least protect the ones who voted for you. If you won’t even do that, then stop calling yourself the president.” The man raised his assault rifle. “The job you’re supposed to do has been handed over to us. If you’re going to interfere with that, then there’s no hope for you. …Fortunately, I never said anything about you when I reported finding Lindy Blueshake. No one will find it odd if you don’t come back with us.”
The marine unhesitatingly aimed at the president’s face and smiled.
“Are you an idiot?”
(November 10 – Kauai – From UAV Lesser Emperor #113)
Somewhere on the island, a gunshot rang out.
(November 10 – Kauai – Northern Off Limits Area of Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #210)
Roberto Katze did not shut his eyes even at the very end.
The smell of smoke wafted up and time stopped. In that strange calm, Lindy violently trembled within the half-destroyed monster truck. The nearby gunshot had been quite a shock to her.
However, something was missing.
The smell of blood was clearly lacking.
This was because the president had not been shot.
The gunshot had been a warning shot fired by another marine and aimed at the ground next to the feet of the marine aiming at the president.
The next thing the man targeting Roberto Katze knew, he was surrounded by other marines with assault rifles.
“You’re the idiot,” spat out one of the marines surrounding the minority.
“Y-you can’t be serious. I’m part of the US military, too!”
“Just disarm yourself. Now!!”
As instructed, the man threw all his weapons to the ground. After binding the man’s hands behind his back with a cable, one of the marines saluted the president.
“Please excuse our rude actions up to this point. We deemed this the quickest method of meeting up with you, sir.”
“Mister, who are you…?”
“I am Corporal Martin Flowers.” The marine said while pointing at his chest with his thumb. He then pointed over his shoulder. “Starting from the right, they are Sergeant Elute Lux, Private Xiaolong Harvard, and…”
“I take it I can consider you trustworthy?”
“I could think of no greater honor.”
“Thanks for your cooperation,” Roberto Katze said frankly. He then switched to his “official” tone of voice. “But prepare yourselves. Right now, siding with me will separate you from the main group. You might even be fired on by fellow American soldiers.”
“To be honest, I wish for a strong America that lives up to its name as the world police, and what Presidential Aide Roseline Krackhart and the marine volunteers are doing may be the shortest path there in a way.” Martin Flowers then looked the president square in the eyes. “But that is not something we should gain by sacrificing a child who has suffered abuse. In fact, I believe a strong America that lives up to its name as the world police should be protecting people like that. We feel you are the one that personifies that ideal the best and that is why we wish to help you.”
Roberto smiled and said, “In so doing, we are distancing ourselves from the easy path through life.”
“Perhaps, but we will be the ones to get the last laugh.”
The United States had begun to move.
It was supported by those with an iron will that did not allow it to lose its order during a crisis.
(November 10 – Kauai – Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #300)
Following Kuroyoru’s instructions, Kamijou was behind the log house wrapping duct tape around and giving shape to the dismantled and rearranged parts of the generator’s transformer and the hot-water heater. As he did so, his cell phone started to ring.
“Some progress has been made in the analysis you wanted. That said, we still don’t know everything about Saronia’s spell.”
“I need any kind of hint I can get. She’ll be here any second!”
“Very well,” said Birdway in a satisfied voice. “The false analysis from the papyrus said she had to use Russian plants, but it seems that that was one of the things meant to lead us astray. That means other plants can be used as the origin for her magic as well.”
“Is she really that powerful…?” asked Kamijou doubtfully as he looked around.
Plants were everywhere. They were what supported the entire food chain from the bottom. If she could use all of that for her magic that could control people or make someone’s left arm unusable, he had no chance of winning unless he fled to a desert or the South Pole.
“Just hear me out,” said Birdway, cutting off Kamijou’s doubts. “To be more accurate, the Leshy spell is magic that gives her control over a small forest in Russia. However, an exception can be made by creating an ‘enclave’.”
“If migratory birds regularly come and go through a certain area, that place can be made into an enclave. And the same result could likely be pulled off by putting a pet on an airplane and taking it to the other place. But more importantly, the animal that goes to and from the area must have a magical connection to the local plants.”
“…Can you please explain this a little more clearly? What do you mean by a magical connection?”
“The Leshy controls the residents of the forest. The animals are considered a member of that ‘society’ once they make some kind of exchange with the forest. If she wanted to make some Hawaiian plants into an enclave, she would have to have the animal brought from Russia give something to the local plants.”
“Like eating a plant’s fruit or dropping a seed caught in its fur?”
“My guess is it’s simpler than that. Something so simple that there are almost no animals or plants that don’t take part in it. Plants do not merely support the food chain. They have another important role that gives the earth one of its most important characteristics.”
“…” Kamijou thought for a second. “The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide…?”
“Precisely. A report said that Saronia has often been spotted in conifer forests. Those are not used for food. If the animals are gaining something from the plants there, it has to be through the air.”
“So the animals that create the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the Leshy’s forest become residents of the forest. And when the residents of the forest go elsewhere and create a cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the local plants, that becomes the Leshy’s enclave.” Kamijou organized his thoughts. “But if she could control all the living things in the enclave, wouldn’t we have been under her control long ago!?”
“Didn’t I tell you we still don’t know all the details? And remember that we still don’t know for sure if Saronia’s magic really allows her to control people. If she had something that convenient, surely she would have been able to put together a strategy that made her much more of a major player in World War III.”
“Doesn’t it seem strange that she could reproduce the effects of the Leshy, a fairy that rules over the residents of the forest? Creatures with simple brain structures like insects or reptiles are one thing, but what about humans? Perhaps she cannot actually control such a complex living creature and can only switch out how they see certain things or make them more weak-willed.”
“Are you just guessing?”
“I am using the people we captured on Oahu and the hostage children in the shopping mall as samples. They seemed like Voodoo zombies to me. Saronia and Olay’s goal was to gain the majority within the US Congress and other government and military areas. After getting a certain number using Olay’s control of information for an upcoming election, Saronia would only have to manipulate the remaining ones who would not give in so that they were absent on the day of a vote.”
“But then wouldn’t everyone in the area of effect become weak-willed as well? If so, areas across Hawaii should have been like zombie theme parks or something.”
“Like I said, we don’t know the exact conditions. My guess would be that it takes time to establish the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It might take as long as three or four days. A week would match perfectly with the creation of the world, but I doubt it’s that long. If it took that long, the magician wouldn’t actually go there. Anyway, that would be why we haven’t seen any effects after being here for less than a day.”
“So if the target leaves that enclave before the three or four days, the spell can’t be completed… And an enclave might be as small as a neighborhood park.”
“If she knew the schedule of her target, she could probably create small enclaves at each place he or she would go in order to build up the necessary time.”
That might be linked to the means of controlling animals and people.
But then Kamijou looked down at his unmoving left arm.
“If those are the conditions, I doubt Saronia would come to the front lines. She can’t carry that out without three or four days, so she must have a spell prepared that gives her some kind of immediate power.”
“I agree, but I have no idea what that could be.”
“I see.” Kamijou lightly rubbed his left arm. “Looks like I’ll just have to charge in and figure it out as I go.”
“Finished!!” shouted Kuroyoru as she attached the “arm” wrapped in duct tape to the joint on her right side.
It was basically a number of metal pipes forcibly held together in the shape of an arm. It did not even have a full complement of fingers.
Dumbfounded, Kamijou stared at the creakily moving arm for a bit, but he finally came back to his senses.
“You only made one? Counting your normal hands, that only gives you three nitrogen spears!”
Even then, the combined force of Trident and Gremlin was slowly approaching.
Likely, they were being extra careful with their approach and continually firing to seal Kamijou and Kuroyoru’s movements because those two were from Academy City. Trident and Gremlin were afraid they had a hidden trump card. They were cornering Kamijou and Kuroyoru with bullets so they would reveal what they could do. The soldiers would press farther in once they were sure of their safety.
Kamijou himself was planning to charge in and gather information on Saronia’s spell and only then try to find a way past it.
For those that relied on supernatural powers, the amount of information one had could be the difference between life and death.
They were likely more worried about Kuroyoru than Kamijou, but Kamijou had no idea how long their caution would last. If the soldiers saw their lack of movements as an “eerie silence” that would work in their favor, but if the soldiers decided they could not do anything, the soldiers and magicians would pour in like an avalanche.
And amid that hopeless situation…
“I was never intending to rely on Bomber Lance.”
“An Academy City-made arm can move on its own and I could use it as an independent weapon, but we just won’t get that kind of functionality out of materials we found lying around. When I realized that, I changed my plan.” Kuroyoru grinned. “When you were given that lecture on magic back in Academy City, I was there too. I seem to remember hearing that magic is meant for people with no talent and that, other than a few exceptions, no special disposition is needed.”
“No, you idiot. I’m no expert, but magic isn’t what you’re thinking it is! Unless you’re some kind of genius, you aren’t going to be able to pull of some amazing technique by adlibbing all of a sudden. Not to mention that espers like us experience a side effect if we use magic!!”
“That’s fine,” said Kuroyoru. “It doesn’t matter what kind of magic it is. It doesn’t have to have any real destructive power to it and I doubt I can perfectly pull it off from the little I overheard. That would be like watching someone perform heart surgery and then trying to do the same thing on your own. I’ll fail, but that’s not a problem. If failing leads to success, that’s not a problem at all.”
“What are you saying…?”
“I’m saying that I will be intentionally causing this side effect or rejection or whatever it is.” With a heavy thunk, Kuroyoru Umidori lowered the duct tape-wrapped arm to the ground. “I’m a cyborg. The extent of what counts as my body is extremely vague. Now, what if I could completely think of the objects I connect to my body as parts of my body?”
Kamijou heard a sound like a hard object creaking under stress.
At first he thought it was coming from Kuroyoru’s “arm”, but it was not.
“Wouldn’t that mean I could force that side effect on whatever object—whatever target—I wanted and destroy it?”
It came from the ground.
More specifically, it came from one of the saw tooth-like cliffs.
To make up for the “magic-like thing” that Kuroyoru Umidori, an esper, had activated, the rejection had appeared in the improvised arm and then spread to the ground beneath it.
As a result, the entire cliff collapsed.
The log house just barely remained behind the line, but everything beyond the line came crashing down. The silver uniformed mercenaries and magicians on that cliff were swallowed up and swept down into the sea down below.
The avalanche was so clear and distinct that it almost looked like some type of thrill ride.
However, that attraction had no safety standards.
Hearing a short scream, Kamijou looked back up from the bottom of the cliff and saw Kuroyoru’s small body trembling. The improvised arm wrapped in duct tape had completely shattered and the skin of her other two slender arms had torn from the inside, revealing the artificial “contents”.
“Tch…It was too much to completely avoid any feedback.”
“Are you insane!? It doesn’t look to me like you can just freely cut off the pain!!”
“…I see. So this is insane, is it? Unfortunately, I had the #1’s offensive thought patterns artificially implanted within me, so I have some inconsistencies at the instinctual level. I sense danger when it comes to little bits of pain, but I have almost no fear of fatal wounds. I simply can’t get used to standard group psychology, so it seems there are some areas where I tend to stand out.”
A medical amateur like Kamijou had no way of knowing if the damage had only affected her mechanical parts. However, he felt it would be too much to ask Kuroyoru to fight any more with how much she was trembling.
And Kuroyoru did not give Kamijou time to think.
“This is no time to be looking away. The enemy leader is here.”
On the lower portion of the top of the cliff, Saronia A. Irivika alone remained. She must have immediately jumped off of the collapsing ground. When she realized all of the PMC soldiers had fallen into the ocean, she gave an order over her radio.
“…to West Napali Coast. I repeat, send reinforcements to Napali Coast! …Dammit, their command cloud has been completely taken out.”
Saronia clicked her tongue, tossed aside the radio, looked at Kamijou, and smiled.
For a moment, all was silent.
They faced off, one on one, as if in the eye of a hurricane.
If Kamijou could defeat Saronia there, he would effectively be destroying Gremlin and Olay Blueshake’s plan.
“Okay, then!! I’ll give you the privilege of playing with me while I wait for my pizza to arrive!!”
“Sorry, but the only thing you’re going to be tasting is defeat!!”
(November 10 – Kauai – Waimea Valley – From a camera for recording proceedings)
Waimea Valley was a giant valley in the mountainous area of Kauai. The sight of cliff after cliff each dozens of meters high made it a valuable tourist attraction, but it was an inconvenient place to get around in. It was one of the routes that led to Napali Coast where Lindy Blueshake was thought to be, but few roads were made in such a dangerous area and that made advancing difficult when a defensive line had been built up.
Presidential Aide Roseline Krackhart was stuck.
The narrow paths through the mountains were blocked by multiple armored vehicles Trident had brought in. Luckily, the enemy force had been eliminated with anti-tank missiles and the mercenaries had retreated, but the wreckage of the armored vehicles remained. They could not advance until that wreckage was removed.
Roseline clicked her tongue and then noticed the video camera recording her.
“Are you still recording this?”
“I-if I don’t focus on my job, I feel like I’ll pass out…”
“That camera is cut off from the internet, right?”
“Yes, I switched it over manually. All those kinds of services have been shut off.”
“Are you sure?”
“Look, the display says off.”
“Hm, fine then.”
Just as Roseline took her focus away from the camera, a different worker called out to her.
“What is it?”
“You have a phone call.”
Roseline took the proffered cell phone and grimaced upon seeing the string of letters displayed on the screen. She answered it and heard a familiar male voice.
“Hey, Roseline! I thought it was about time I spoke with you.”
“I am the one that needs to speak with you!!” Roseline gritted her teeth, thinking that man must have a talent for angering others. “Why have you convinced some of my marines to split off and form their own group!? We were at enough of a disadvantage against Trident. We do not need our chances lowered even further by splitting our own troops!!”
“I thought you’d say that. And that’s why I’ve come to make a deal with you.”
“I’m not keeping up this resistance because I want the marines to be fighting each other. It was actually a complete coincidence that I managed to get their help, but since I have them, I want to use them to their fullest.”
“This doesn’t seem like one of your bluffs. How do you intend to defeat Trident?”
“I don’t intend to.”
He said that so readily that Roseline’s mind went completely blank.
Finally, she came back to her senses.
“Y’know, I think you have the makings of a Japanese tsundere, Roseline. You’re usually so perfect in everything, but you have no ability to adlib to deal with sudden things you didn’t expect.”
“Enough with the jokes!! And I think that qualifies as sexual harassment!”
“I guess I need to explain myself. Even if I had not split the marines in two, they would have gotten stuck in a long, drawn-out battle against Trident’s units attempting to retrieve Lindy. I am the president, so I have to do my best to avoid a situation where this nation’s citizens’ lives are needlessly wasted. What do you think?”
“…So you purposefully split my force just to interfere?”
“They are the US’s forces, not yours,” corrected Roberto Katze. “There are currently two problems on Kauai. The first is the Trident group trying to recover Lindy and the second is you, Roseline. I would like to solve those problems one at a time. This only looks so complicated because I was trying to solve both of them at once.”
“Are you trying to say you could resolve this if you had command of the marine volunteers?”
“Even I think before I take action.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. President, but I cannot trust what you are saying. I’m going to hang up.”
“You trust me that little!? But the people showed how much trust they have in me during the election!”
“The Washington Stream said you had more pipedreams than any other politician but that your crazy ideas might help jumpstart the stagnated economy.”
“Just listen. There is a way to defeat Trident.”
“Other than Lindy Blueshake?”
“Other than Lindy Blueshake.”
Hearing that, Roseline sighed.
She ground her teeth as she could feel her conscience crumbling inside her after she had worked so hard to solidify it.
She lightly kicked the tire of her off-road car and said, “So what are you going to do? We will take it into consideration, so just tell me.”
“Thanks, tsundere-chan. First, their source of money is Olay Blueshake. We intend to deal with her master plan by capturing Saronia A. Irivika. Just by defeating her, it will all fall apart. But that still leaves one problem. Do you know what that is, Roseline?”
“…Even if Olay gives up, Trident will not necessarily stop. They are fighting under the assumption that all of their crimes in America will be cleared from them by Olay’s political influence. If they withdraw, they will not just be traitors, but unheard-of criminals who started a war with America. More death penalties would be handed out at once than ever before in American history.”
“And they know that the world police will chase after them even if they flee the country. After all, former American soldiers make up a good portion of Trident. That is why Trident will not stop and we need to do something about that. If we can just solve that issue, it will all be over. I doubt those from Gremlin mixed in with the PMC troops will continue fighting on their own. If they could have, they would have done so from the beginning. That is why we need a method of dealing with Trident.”
“And how do we pull it off?”
“At the very least, it has to be a method that does not use Lindy Blueshake as a shield. That only worked as a trump card against Olay, so it will be of no help against the PMC she hired.”
“Again, how do we do it?”
“As you said, the primary driving force behind them is the fact that they will be executed if they retreat. I don’t know whether the former American soldiers wanted to get something across to the country or if the reward was just too tempting, but that is the only way we can get them to back off.”
“…If you have no intention of telling me, I’m just going to hang up.”
“We start with Trident’s commander. Or in this case, would it be their manager?” the president said. “Anyway, he must be here on Kauai. I’m guessing either he—just like Saronia—wanted to use Lindy as a means of preventing Olay from betraying him or he wanted to show that he saved her ‘personally’ to get in Olay’s favor. Either way, he would gain a lot. …Also, their command cloud uses even radar and civilian satellites to allow high speed intelligence support. The main server is likely overseas, but the information network the data is being sent through uses the internet within America. That allows Olay to spy on them using her FCE surveillance network and it allows me to interfere with my Imperial Package.”
“You know where the commander is?!”
“I have a question for you, Roseline. It would be difficult to defeat the Trident troops deployed across Kauai and the other Hawaiian Islands using only the marines we have. But what if we only had to deal with the platoon protecting the commander?”
(November 10 – Kauai – Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #300)
Kamijou Touma charged across the rough ground and straight for Saronia A. Irivika. His greatest weapon was his right fist. Preparing circumstances in which it was effective was the starting point of any of his strategies.
“(…What? I’m so unsteady…!)”
“Yes, yes. You can’t control your own weight, can you?” Saronia grinned. “Your arms are balancers used to control your weight and your left arm is currently unusable. Someone who has been without an arm for years may be fine, but with it suddenly switched off like that, you can’t control yourself properly.”
“And your weight is the true force behind your fist.”
A dull noise exploded out.
Saronia had jabbed her leg out toward Kamijou’s chest. He had just barely managed to block it with his right arm, but it still sent him backwards. After reeling two or three steps back, he finally managed to regain control.
She was indeed well trained, but Saronia was still a small girl.
It was likely only due to Kamijou’s lack of control over his own weight that she had been able to send him so far back.
“Gh…” groaned Kamijou
While humming, Saronia continued with her kicks. The next one circled around toward Kamijou’s left side.
He could not move his left arm.
Her sharp strike stabbed straight into that gap in his defenses.
“Gremlin is desperate for any countermeasures we can get against Imagine Breaker. Why do you think we tampered with the leylines to send that fortress to see if you were alive, nyaaahn!?” Saronia thinly smiled as she estimated the damage she must be doing from what she felt with her foot. “Thanks to that, even an indoor type like me has been going to the gym and working up a sweat! I’ve gotten some lovely muscles for my legs☆”
“Yes, and now you will try to put some distance between us.”
Kamijou forced his right arm around to hold his left side and tried to fall back, but Saronia’s slender arm grabbed at his collar.
She pulled him forward while swinging her head down as a blunt weapon.
With a dull noise, Kamijou’s body bent backwards.
“(This isn’t how someone who merely controls people would fight!!)”
Saronia continued to throw kicks, focusing on the left half of his body while words leaked from the bottom of Kamijou’s throat.
“(But she isn’t using her magic either. Is this another sign of their unease over Imagine Breaker just like Radiosonde Castle!?)”
“More or less.” By aiming for the left side of his body, Saronia was making sure he could not grab at her feet. “But everything has its use. Even if I cannot directly bind Imagine Breaker, I can lower its strength by sealing off your left arm.”
Unable to support his own weight, Kamijou rolled across the ground while undergoing a rush of kicks from Saronia. Saronia then moved her right thumb as if flicking something straight up.
“(…Here it comes!!)”
Still on the ground, Kamijou held out his right arm, but much to his surprise, nothing happened.
Silence hung over the area for a few seconds.
Still not sure what that meant, Kamijou rolled to the side to put some distance between them. The sole of Saronia’s shoe seemed to chase after him.
She had no real reason to pull a feint in that situation, so…
“Looks that way, nyahn.”
She caught up to Kamijou with a motion like she was trying to kick a soccer ball as hard as she could.
With the breath knocked out of him and while suppressing the urge to vomit, Kamijou muttered, “…What are…you doing…?”
“That war is finally over and everyone was beginning to walk down a new path…”
“Oh, you’re asking why I am interfering?” Saronia’s expression loosened, but a piercing light remained in her eyes. He had touched on something he should not have. “Yes, the war ended. You played an important role in ensuring that. The chaos ended and the countries of the world took action to rebuild.” Saronia paused for a second. “But my country was used as a stepping stone to do so.”
“It isn’t funny. It truly isn’t funny. Children starve needlessly and the elderly shiver in the cold needlessly. The major countries have control of the flow of resources and money. They dole out only what they absolutely have to and call themselves heroes for doing so. It feels like justice is up for sale in a whorehouse.”
Kamijou had no idea what the truth of the matter was or if Saronia was even telling the truth from her point of view.
But whether she was being truthful or not, he should have guessed it.
Even then, something was advancing.
He could see glimpses of the shadows of the greedy ones.
He was no prophet, so it was impossible for him to know the ripple-like effects his actions would bring about. But this time at least, his actions had clearly been involved in how things had turned out.
“I suppose the one piece of luck for you is that you do not have piles of money at your disposal.”
The green magician smiled.
It was the smile of a fairy.
It was the smile of the ruler of the forest.
It was the strange smile of the one who brought death to those who lost their way and who would distribute her riches in gambles she held at a whim.
“But even so, I still have enough reason to kill you.”
No matter what he would do from then on and no matter how he would face the ripple-like effects brought about by that war, he had to survive his current situation first.
He had to find the truth behind Saronia’s attacks and the spell she used.
What were the rules behind it and what process did the attacks use?
What could he negate and what could he not?
He needed concrete information.
“(What do I have to destroy to regain use of my left arm? I need to find out!!)”
“Let us begin again,” said Saronia as she loosely clenched her hands and charged forward. “Let us begin the gamble of the Leshy, the ruler of the forest!!”
She moved both her thumbs as if flicking something straight up.
(November 10 – Kauai – Nohili Port – From a tide level monitoring camera)
In a civilian port on the western side of Kauai, Cinesic Evers, commander of the Trident PMC, raised his hands into the air. He was wearing an old-fashioned but popular French military uniform for high officials. Even after leaving the military and joining a company, old men seemed not to lose their desire for power.
The reason he was raising his hands was quite simple. American marines were spread out around the dock, their rifles were aimed at him, and his command armored vehicle covered in antennae had been blown up.
Amid all that, Roberto Katze pushed passed the marines protecting him and approached with a clear smile on his face.
“Hey there. If I had to take a guess, I’d say you are a former French naval officer who lost his standing after having the failures of British Halloween shoved on you. You couldn’t have worked your way up the ranks this quickly using normal means, so did you manage to take control during the confusion of the war?”
“…Why do you want to know?”
“I was just asking. So what, are you being backed by the EU? They’re having economic troubles of their own and they were left ruined by that war without being able to profit.”
“Ridiculous. There is nothing that proves the EU is in any way connected with us.”
“As I said, I’m only asking. But I get the feeling I know the truth by the fact that you spoke to defend the EU rather than Trident. And when I think about it, I can see political intent in the fact that Trident’s primary area of activity was in Eastern Europe that is not a part of the EU. There must have been a connection even before you took over. …Well, that doesn’t really matter,” the president said before changing the subject. “To be honest, we have a difficult problem here.”
“Are there really any easy problems?”
“True enough, but this one is different. The crime of declaring war on the United States is so unprecedented that I’m not even sure there is any legislation dealing with it. That means that if we arrest you, the odds of you getting thrown in prison are a complete unknown.”
“And that’s a problem.” Roberto Katze shrugged. “If we can’t judge you under existing laws, we might have no choice but to deal with you simply as foreign invaders. And remember, if you cannot be judged by the law, you cannot be protected by the law either. We cover it up with the word war, but in reality it is no different from slaughtering people without a trial.”
“…It’s too late. Once Olay Blueshake and Saronia A. Irivika take control of the government at its core, everything will be turned around.”
“Sorry, but that isn’t going to happen.” Roberto shrugged. “Mister, I’m sure you’ve realized that Saronia is not a normal soldier and that she does not use normal firepower. She uses those techniques that a certain sadistic British princess (who would make a good tsundere) showed us during British Halloween and that we saw all too much of during World War III. I may not look it, but I am a high school dropout, so I leave difficult things like magic to the specialists.”
“The specialists…? You don’t mean…!!”
“Mister, they may be the greatest target of your hatred, but it is still best to leave it to the specialists. I have taken the proper measures and so Saronia will soon be defeated. Once that happens, both you and Olay have no means of victory. …You don’t seem to understand, so let me be very clear.” Roberto spoke slowly as he stared straight into Cinesic’s eyes to emphasize his absolute advantage. “This is not a negotiation to see who wins and who yields. Your and Trident’s defeat is a sure thing. What is on the table is how much your crimes can be reduced. So get serious about this. As things stand now, you and the rest of Trident will pay your debt by being slaughtered as a wartime enemy. Currently, Kilauea’s eruption has sealed off our various advantages, but if this issue is prolonged and our forces clash once more, do you really think Trident’s fifty thousand troops can defeat five million troops from the four branches of our military as well as troops from our various allies? It would pain me to simply slaughter you all without a trial…but there just isn’t any legislation for this kind of situation. You need to seriously think about how you can survive this.”
“So you’re telling us to break our contract with Olay and quickly withdraw all our troops?”
“If that is your choice, then you should do so. I will let you assess the situation here and make your decision, but just remember that time is of the essence.”
Roberto Katze took a military radio from a nearby marine and pressed it against Cinesic’s chest.
Holding the radio, Cinesic thought for a bit and then sighed.
He set the frequency and brought the radio up to his mouth.
With a tone like he had given up on something he said, “To all troops deployed among the Hawaiian Islands. All other areas do not matter. It does not matter how much ground the Americans recover. All forces are to assist Saronia A. Irivika in Napali Coast of Kauai.”
Roseline Krackhart’s face paled when she heard his words.
Roberto Katze’s face stiffened and he asked, “Are you serious, you bastard?”
“I am quite serious.”
“That decision does not merely affect your own future. It affects the futures of all fifty thousand of your subordinates including the ones who are not in America.”
“If you want to shoot me, do it,” Cinesic muttered as he tossed aside the radio. “As long as Saronia is safe, we can turn this situation around. My target is right here and Lindy Blueshake, the tool I can use to deal with our client, has shown herself. Saronia with her occult powers and your anti-occult personnel will face off. The victor there will show us who truly needs to withdraw.”
(November 10 – Kauai – Napali Coast – From UAV Lesser Emperor #300)
Saronia A. Irivika’s magic took its name from the Leshy, a Russian fairy that was said to rule the forest.
The identity of the attack was unknown, but something had paralyzed half of Kamijou’s body centered on his left arm.
Saronia loosely clenched her fists and moved her thumbs up as if flicking something straight up and Kamijou rolled to the side to gain some distance.
“Nothing…again? Another misfire!?”
“Chehh. They just won't hit!!”
Seeming not to care that nothing had occurred, Saronia tried to continue attacking Kamijou with her kicks. However, she was just a little too slow. Kamijou managed to effectively gain some distance and stand up.
He used his right arm to stop the foot that flew toward him like a hammer and gave voice to his speculation.
“Is it something like a mine or a trap? Is it an attack that waits for me to step into it rather than firing a bullet!?”
“I guess it was only a matter of time before you figured it out. But a mine can be used as a grenade if you get close enough to throw it.”
Kamijou could see that Saronia was holding some things in her hand.
Each one was only about a millimeter across.
The identity of the sand-like objects she held was…
Kamijou immediately twisted his body to the side and managed to avoid the rain of seeds that were thrown at him like a scattershot.
“Too bad,” said Saronia with a sneer. “Pollen is good enough to bring about the effects.”
Kamijou’s body fell straight down.
Unable to support his own weight, he collapsed to the ground.
It was a simple matter of prestidigitation. Saronia had openly held the seeds to draw his attention while using her other hand to undo the cord holding a small bag shut.
“Looks like I got your entire left side this time. I gotta say, you did put up a fight. Normally, you would have undergone multiple organ failure by just breathing it in.”
The first attack when Kamijou and Kuroyoru had hidden behind the log house must have been due to pollen on the wind.
“It’s a bit like a chemical weapon, so it can be pretty nasty, but it can get a little difficult to use once the trick is revealed. Then the enemy just has to maintain a position upwind of you or even produce wind themselves. That’s why there are really only two ways to use it. You can either get a first attack in before the enemy has had time to analyze it or find the perfect time like I just did. …It’s pretty rare for someone to get hit by both types like this.”
The Leshy fairy that Saronia’s magic was based on was supposedly the ruler of the forest. The Leshy controlled all living things in that zone and gave or took away things in gambles. That was what Birdway had told Kamijou.
“So this is a penalty against someone who injures the property…of the zone…?”
“I have no intention of giving you the answers,” said Saronia as she brought the seeds into her palm once more.
However, she may as well have given him the answer. It was most likely a punishment for those who obstructed the development of the plants. That was the base of Saronia’s spell. That obstruction could be stepping on a seed or getting in the way of the pollen as it flowed through the air.
“(I still don’t know where the attack comes from once I step on the seed. What rules are behind it? Where does the damage come from?)”
A few images flew by in the back of Kamijou’s mind.
He spoke while unable to get up.
“The ruler of the forest, hm?”
“Yes, but I’m not a forest girl.”
“If you could have the animals attack me, you would have already done so.”
“…Well, I’m not all powerful.”
Saronia seemed to try to respond without faltering, but Kamijou noticed a slight hesitation.
Kamijou’s suspicions were confirmed.
For someone who claimed to be the ruler of the forest, only having a connection to the plants was too weak. She could likely interfere with the insects and other animals in the area. As Birdway had mentioned, even if she could not directly control humans, animals with simpler brain structures like insects and reptiles were a different story.
So had Kamijou been attacked by some kind of poisonous insect?
No, he would have felt some pain if that were the case.
His only hint was…
“(In her first attack with the pollen, I was hit but Kuroyoru was not.)”
Was it because she was a cyborg? Did it have no effect on a mechanical arm?
It had only been Kamijou who had taken the pollen to his left arm. Kuroyoru had been standing next to him, so she would likely been hit by the windblown pollen elsewhere. And yet no effects had shown themselves. Other than her arms and part of her upper body, Kuroyoru was no different from a normal human.
The fact that she was a cyborg should not have mattered.
Something other than that had to have made Kuroyoru Umidori a special case.
She had a portion of the #1’s thought patterns artificially implanted within her.
She had inconsistencies at the instinctual level. She could not get used to standard group psychology.
As Kamijou lay on the ground, he looked back over at his unmoving left arm.
He had thought there had been a problem with the “hardware” that was his arm, but he had been wrong.
The “hardware” was being sent commands by the “software” that was his mind. That “software” was where the interference was occurring.
However, Kamijou’s mind had not directly fallen under Saronia’s control. If that had happened, he would have taken much more damage. It was the punishment for treading on the development of a plant. That punishment was being accomplished solely by controlling a group of insects or small animals.
Kamijou thought for a bit.
He suddenly grabbed his cell phone with his still moving right arm and quickly pressed a few buttons.
“I thought I told you I have no intention of giving you the answers!”
Saronia let fly a kick.
The kick struck his right wrist and another one stabbed into his side after he had let go of the phone.
“Calling Birdway of the Dawn-Colored Sunlight again? Quit thinking you can just ask her anything and get an answer! Search engines really have emptied the minds of this generation.”
Kamijou glanced over toward his phone which had flown a fair bit away and then looked back toward Saronia.
“This is an exclusion from the ‘forest’ you have created in this zone. By gathering the small, simple creatures like insects and reptiles, you can control the minds of a majority of the creatures in this area. That way, you always win in issues of majority rule. The ‘forest residents’ are forcibly linked by something like group psychology and this allows you to focus their malice and hostility on one point. That results in what is happening here. You can externally interfere with and distort the mind that is normally inside a person.”
The penalty was the exclusion of an irregular element to maintain the stability of the society.
It was the suppression of a minority by the majority.
Saronia was the one reproducing it as an attack, but she looked surprised.
“I can see why you need to rely on that phone of yours. Group psychology only exists among humans. You were heading in the right direction with the idea of being rejected by the forest residents, though.” Saronia sneered. “With my spell, I first evenly maintain the minds of all living things within the specified zone. There is no distinction between human and beetle, but there is a division between those within the zone or outside of it. Only then can something like group psychology be used.”
The identity of her spell was made clear.
Kamijou had the information he needed to find a way past it.
“So have you figured out its weakness?” Still sneering, Saronia approached him. “Even if you have, can you pull it off with the left half of your body completely paralyzed? As I said before, control of your weight is directly linked to the force behind your fist. Now that you can’t brace your legs, you would need muscles on the level of a grizzly to knock someone unconscious.”
Saronia did not even have time to raise her voice in confusion.
Kamijou Touma’s body suddenly stood up from its collapsed state on the ground. It was an impossible action for a human. As if his heel was acting as a hinge, he stood up like a basement door on the floor opening.
Saronia was utterly shocked, but then she realized what had happened.
Two slender feminine arms were wrapped around Kamijou’s waist. The palms had produced something like lances made of air which had launched Kamijou’s body up and forward.
As Saronia watched, the two arms smoothly wrapped around Kamijou’s left leg and reinforced it like a cast.
No, it was more like a powered suit that mechanically augmented his strength.
“Mechanical…arms? So you were using the phone to—!?”
“I never said I was calling Birdway. In fact, I never said I was making a call!!”
It may have been improvised, but he now had control of his left leg.
Saronia had carelessly drawn close enough for him to plow his right fist straight into her at full strength.
That was the strike that she—that Gremlin—was so worried about.
Imagine Breaker slammed into her and a dull noise burst out.
Saronia A. Irivika’s small body bent backwards.
But that was it.
She held her ground. Her lip split and a trail of blood dripped down, but she did not go down.
“I already told you!” she spat out while grabbing a large number of seeds in her right hand. “Even if you can use your leg, your left arm is paralyzed, so you can’t control your goddamn weight!!”
She threw the seeds at Kamijou as if scattering salt.
Taking the shower of seeds straight on, Kamijou collapsed to the ground once more. His entire body convulsed. He had no idea what expression was on his face and he could feel his blood vessels pulsating unnaturally. He could not move anything except for the part of his right arm that was past the elbow.
“…Chehh. So your organs are still functioning. I guess it really is best to get the pollen directly in the target’s mouth.”
Kamijou could not even breathe without focusing on it.
He moved his right arm and slowly crawled, scraping himself across the hard ground.
“You are the one who ended the war. There was one thing I wanted to ask you if I ever met you.”
Kamijou now knew the details of Saronia A. Irivika’s Leshy spell.
But he still had a question.
She could only use her magic after creating numerous “enclaves” linked back to her small forest in Russia. Birdway had suspected the preparation time for one of those enclaves was a few days long.
However, Saronia had only learned that Lindy Blueshake was there a half hour or so before.
Saronia would not have had time to prepare an enclave.
“Why did you end the war the way you did? The areas like Russia that were brought to ruin by the war are undergoing reconstruction, but do you know what is actually going on there?”
“Academy City and America are…”
“They are messing with other people’s countries as they see fit just for fun.” Saronia smiled, but it was completely devoid of joy. “In exchange for all the money they are throwing around, they are interfering with the structure of the government, seizing control of infrastructure like electricity and water, and deciding who will be saved and who will not. And yet they are part of the group that pulled the trigger that started that war. They are dividing people up like oranges being packed into boxes and then throwing away the boxes they don’t like the taste of.”
“Even my small forest was cleared away and covered in asphalt. If I had not joined Gremlin, I would have been unable to transfer over the power that makes me a magician.”
Had she started by making all of Hawaii or at least Kauai into an enclave? That was not it. If she had done that, she would have put Lindy into a trance before trying to forcibly abduct her. Even if she was up against amateurs, it would have been better to eliminate all possibility of escape or resistance.
“I know that world has ended and cannot be brought back, but we can live on even after it has ended. I want to make the preparations for that. And this life will not be something forced on us by Academy City or America.”
That meant there had to be a reason.
There had to be some kind of trick that allowed her to create an enclave there without waiting for days.
“It seems Gremlin as a whole and Olay are trying to destroy the balance between science and magic by recreating the United States into a theocracy, but that is nothing more than a trivial task to me. I don’t care what it is as long as it rids Russian and Europe of those who use the name of justice to profit.”
“We…” Kamijou forced out his words even as it felt like his breathing would stop. “We did not…end that war…for that to happen. We…”
“But that was the result.”
“Then…it is my duty…to fight those who…are making you suffer in the…name of justice. There is no…need for you to…do these things… that will make the world...blame you.”
“How naïve. You were only able to end that war because of all the preparations made by others. What can a mere pawn do when faced with the people who made those preparations?”
Saronia needed two things for her Leshy spell.
Plants and animals.
When Saronia possessed plants and animals that created a cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide, she transformed that area into a “forest”. In that twisted zone, she ruled over the twisted community and had assaulted Kamijou with a twisted penalty based on twisted rules.
“And you are weak. Gremlin has joined together to fight the world’s victors. How is a loser who cannot even defeat a single one of us supposed to accomplish something as grand as you are proposing?”
In that case, couldn’t she use a type of supplement?
Instead of using the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide to make an enclave out of the local plants over the course of a few days, she could bring in one of the original plants and plant it directly into the soil. That would get rid of the few days of lag. If she also opened cages holding insects and small animals already under the control of that plant, Saronia would indeed have control of the majority of the forest residents.
And as an extra hint, Kamijou Touma had seen someone bring a plant into that area.
“And so I think it is about time I sent the finishing blow to your heart.”
“If you’re going to make some idealized argument, I wish you would give some strength along with it. After all, that’s what led to us getting trampled on during that war.”
That large man who was Lindy Blueshake’s guardian. Just before the attack, he had been planting a seedling. Kamijou doubted Harzak was working for Saronia, but all the flower shops or vending machines he might have stopped by to buy the seedling could have been attacked and had the seedlings switched out. That way he would have unwittingly carried out his role.
It was also true that Trident had waited until after he had finished planting the seedling to attack.
In that case, it had to be the origin of Saronia’s magic.
The seedling had been planted in the small garden to the side of the log house!!
“…Ah?” said Saronia A. Irivika questioningly.
She was surprised because Kamijou was still breathing even after she had scattered countless seeds atop him.
And then she realized something.
At some point as Kamijou used only his right hand to drag himself along the ground, he had made it to the garden. And he had used that single usable part of his body to pull out the seedling that had been planted in the soft soil.
That seedling was the origin of the spell that took its name from a fairy that ruled the forest.
Normally, countless such origins would exist within the zone, but that one plant was the core due to that zone’s rushed construction.
And he had pulled it out using that right hand that had an absolute effect on magic.
Kamijou Touma slowly stood up.
His body was no longer bound by anything. All his limbs moved as he wished them to. He once more had everything necessary to put all his weight behind his fist.
Kamijou spun his right shoulder around to check on his arm and Saronia merely stood watching without attacking due to having lost her absolute trump card. She had developed her special foot techniques based on the assumption that Kamijou would be unable to control his weight due to an unusable left arm.
One had regained his trump card.
The other had lost hers.
“I’ve caught up to where you stand and I can now see what you see. But if what you say is true, then you are not the one that should be risking your life in this fight.”
After that, primitive sounds of violence continued for a time.
(November 10 – Kauai – Nohili Port – From a tide level monitoring camera)
Having received the report, President Roberto Katze pointed to the military radio that Cinesic Evers, the commander of Trident, had tossed aside.
“Pick it up, you bastard,” said the president.
“So Saronia A. Irivika was defeated.”
“Your dream has been shattered. It’s time to look at the cold, hard truth, mister.”
Cinesic could have all his troops fight to take Saronia back, but it would be all over if they held her hostage. If it seemed likely Trident would actually succeed in taking her back, they would just kill her. At that point, Saronia and Olay’s plan to conquer the United States would fail.
Now that Trident’s crimes could no longer be cleared away, continuing the fight would be nothing more than tying a noose around his own neck. The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands due to Kilauea’s eruption would not last forever.
“…What are your terms?”
“How about we start with three hundred years in clandestine detention facilities in the Arctic and Alaska, with no chance of trial. If you quickly withdraw all your troops, end this chaos, and reveal all information you have on the organization you dealt with named Gremlin, I might consider reducing your penalty. …So basically, get your troops the hell out of here and tell us everything.”