Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume5 Epilogue
Epilogue: Remove the Restraints. Install......Completion.
The day came to an end.
The preparations came to a close.
And the Ichihanaransai finally began.
After parting ways with Last Order and Fremea Seivelun, Fräulein Kreutune stood alone in the night.
She knew the word, but it held no real meaning to her. From what could be seen in the records of the dark witch hunt and the reports on the scientific analyses carried out on her, one could guess how little connection that word had to her life.
She held a device approximately the size and shape of an egg.
That small link in her hand allowed her to call someone to her with just the pull of a string.
After thinking for a bit, her eyeballs rolled off at a strange angle.
A male voice reached her eardrums.
The moment after she detected it, she also heard the sound of compressed air being released and a drink-can-like container flew through the air and landed at her feet. With a slight gap between each one, three or four such containers flew towards her from a short distance away. Barely any time had passed when a white smokescreen burst from them. In no time at all, a thick riot suppression smokescreen had spread for around 20 meters around Fräulein Kreutune.
The smoke held anti-life form properties by stimulating the mucous membranes of the face and otherwise affected the five senses and breathing.
The mixture of chemicals was designed to also have anti-machine properties by obstructing noise and light except for ultraviolet rays at a specific wavelength.
The effects of the smoke caused the surrounding voices to echo oddly. They stabbed into Fräulein Kreutune’s head with the force of surging waves.
“Capture her!! She is the #1 suspect in the attack on the chairman! We have no reason to hesitate!!”
The Anti-Skill members were wearing special masks that made them look like little grays. They charged into the smokescreen using special sensors that slipped through the gaps in the smokescreen’s jamming effects.
Fräulein Kreutune remained silent all the while.
Her right hand still held the egg-shaped device.
Her eyeballs rolled in a direction that seemed odd for a response to violence.
Several “darknesses” existed within Academy City, and those “darknesses” each had their own variety and depth. They each formed a single dark piece of a jigsaw puzzle that fit together to form the giant picture of Academy City’s dark side.
It would be easiest to picture it as something like a swarm of winged insects covering the rotting corpse of some animal.
And some of that “darkness” held a position especially close to the board of directors that controlled the management of Academy City.
Officially, the facility was a gas turbine power plant that provided emergency power for administrative offices.
However, “he” was in that vast underground facility that spread out underneath the neat and tidy District 3.
“Hey, there. Hey, there. Hey, there. Sorry about leaving you all alone like that. Even we Kiharas had to get involved in the commotion in Baggage City,” said a woman as she stepped off of an industrial elevator.
She wore a baggy lab coat over a cheap suit that was obviously ready-made.
Since it was a decoy facility, the wide area had no power generation equipment inside. The area was large enough to play a game of American football in and it contained nothing anyone could hide behind. Normally, it would have seemed a rather lonely place with just two people inside.
But that was not the case.
A thick “presence” seemed to fill the entire area.
The reason for this was quite simple.
The plain concrete of that underground facility was completely covered in white.
It looked like a spider web.
Or perhaps more like a silkworm cocoon.
It covered every inch of the walls and floor so that the original color could not be seen. The woman in the cheap suit and lab coat was walking across the floor, but it did not feel like concrete. The white ground was undulating unnaturally. Looking up at the ceiling, a number of arch-shaped constructions could be seen strung up from wall to wall or from the ceiling like loosely-hung suspension bridges.
And something existed in the center of the space.
It was not simply in the middle of the two dimensions of the floor. It was in the center of all three dimensions of the room.
A giant white sphere was supported by those many arches. The construction could be seen as either a giant collection of spider webs or a giant chrysalis. Through some gaps in it, his handsome features could be glimpsed.
Academy City’s #2 Level 5.
That symbol of his power that was scattered chaotically through the vast area, seeming to cover every inch, could likely not be so much as scratched even with standard machine tools. Not long before, Kakine had been hooked up to a life support device due to the majority of his body being destroyed, and he had been used to create various weapons at the hands of one of the Kiharas. However, things had changed once a means of creating his own organs with his power had been constructed.
As Kakine’s Dark Matter had begun to spread explosively and envelop an entire Kihara laboratory, those who took the situation seriously had sealed him up inside.
The woman understood that situation.
And yet she said, “It seems a toy of the chairman’s has escaped. Anti-Skill cannot stand up to it. Information has been blocked, but I would like your help to control this confusion.”
He did not respond.
Only the glint of his eye could be seen peeking through a gap in the spider web or cocoon.
“Yes, yes. Of course I have my own reasons. And letting you loose in the city is a rather large risk. But I see no reason why I personally should be concerned about that. In fact, if you can do enough to destroy the Kihara scenario, that would be a huge help in increasing my desire to continue my research.”
“Simply put, just do it however you want. That is the general consensus among the Kiharas. Do you understand the situation?”
She received no reply.
Instead of words, the ground below the woman’s feet shook. The white ground had already been undulating unnaturally, but now it began to writhe as if emulating the sea.
The woman smiled silently.
(Now that he has replaced his own organs with his power, Kakine Teitoku no longer distinguishes between his actual body and the parts fabricated from his power. You could say everything filling this space is now Kakine Teitoku.)
In a way, that may have been similar to acquiring immortality. Or perhaps it should be interpreted as taking the invisible thing referred to as his “life” or his “soul” and diluting it within a larger form.
Academy City’s #1 Level 5 could be said to carry out complete destruction as an established individual, and that woman’s curiosity as a researcher knew no bounds when it came to comparing those top two Level 5s.
Destruction and production.
Between those two concepts, the #1 ruled over the destruction side of things. The woman in the cheap suit and lab coat could not help but smile because she felt like she could see some truth about the essence of science in that fact.
As a member of the science side, she was not about to casually acknowledge the existence of supernatural beings like god or the devil, but at times during her long history of pursuing scientific research, she felt like she was seeing god make some kind of morbid joke.
“Anyway, do this however you like. We Kiharas welcome science like you. No matter what result it brings.”
Meanwhile, the other side of the destruction and production duality, Accelerator, let a displeased scowl onto his lips.
He and Yoshikawa Kikyou had used every means at their disposal to search for Last Order after she suddenly disappeared. Accelerator had even leaped from building to building through the dark night. In the end, they had found nothing. When they decided to head back to the apartment, they found Last Order eating some chocolate she had found hidden in a kitchen cupboard. (It belonged to Yomikawa Aiho. She used it to quell her anger when her cooking did not go the way she wanted.)
“…Where the hell have you been?”
“Mgh!! Listen, listen! Misaka made some new friends—Ow!? says Misaka as Misaka fails to understand why you are suddenly karate chopping her!!”
After a full barrage of karate chops, Accelerator let go of his cane and collapsed onto the living room sofa looking annoyed.
Yoshikawa pulled a carton of vegetable juice from the refrigerator and asked, “What was that about friends?”
“Misaka met this blonde brat and challenged her to a competition! Then we had a competition over some delicious dinner. Oh, and then this person showed us the way back to District 7, says Misa—”
While Last Order’s warning sensor rarely functioned, even she stopped talking when she detected that unnatural silence.
“What was that about dinner?”
“…So you went out and ate on your own?”
The other two had not had a bite to eat due to wasting all that time looking for her!!
On the other hand, Fremea Seivelun was still lost.
“Ah! Awah! I don’t know how to get from District 7 to District 13!!”
But Fremea still refused to admit she was lost. She decided it was everyone else’s fault for not telling her how to get home.
Also, she was just plain exhausted.
It was around midnight, so she was not sure she had ever felt so tired.
“Nyahh. I guess this is fine.”
Fremea lay down on top of a bench in the station plaza and shut her eyes.
Even if she had had the exceptional experience of being targeted by the Freshmen of Academy City’s dark side, it certainly seemed that extremely sloppy personality of hers invited in unneeded trouble.
The darkness writhed.
When Hamazura Shiage and Takitsubo Rikou learned that Fremea Seivelun had still not returned to her dorm in District 13, they ran back out into the night of Academy City. They did not even know where, why, or how Fremea had disappeared.
With its leader Kuroyoru Umidori out of the picture, they thought the dark side organization known as the Freshmen had been stopped, but it was possible some remnant was still active and still targeting Fremea.
Mugino Shizuri and Kinuhata Saiai had a different job to deal with.
They were cleaning up the apartment.
“What were you even doing that made everything so super messy? Half the balcony is melted.”
“I was cooking in the kitchen and it made a human. She talked back to me, so I tried to blow her away without thinking.”
Kinuhata did not understand what Mugino meant, but she did not press for further information.
There were various types of high level espers, but Mugino Shizuri had an exceedingly high output with very little control over it. She was ranked at #4 despite having greater destructive power than the #3 because the application of her power was lower.
But with the amount of power she held, it was lucky someone did not end up dead every time she sneezed.
“Well, I need to test out various movements of my fingers for the periodic maintenance of my fake arm. Cleaning up has a lot of fine movements as well as heavy lifting, so it should function as a decent test.”
“You say that, but that phonebook-sized cookbook is getting super squished there! Is that your fake arm acting up or are your emotions getting out of control!?”
Kinuhata decided letting Mugino help clean the apartment would only lead to turning the entire interior to rubble, so she suggested Mugino take a rest.
Mugino opened the refrigerator, noticed they were out of mineral water bottles, and headed out to the convenience store.
It happened when she was halfway there.
She ran into one of Academy City’s “darknesses” as it writhed through the night.
She first heard a footstep.
The area was mostly filled with apartment buildings, so it was not lit up by the usual neon lights. The only light sources during the middle of the night were the streetlights. That was why it was not too surprising that she could not see who was walking towards her from up ahead.
It was something else that bothered Mugino about the situation.
And the next piece of information arrived before she could figure out what exactly it was that bothered her.
“What’s this? What’s this? In the end, you look a lot different from when I last saw you.”
It was a high-pitched soprano voice.
It was a voice Mugino recognized.
“Has a lot happened while I’ve been gone? Well, whatever. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me what happens when I’m not around.”
It was the voice of a girl who Mugino had once ripped in two.
It was the voice of someone who obviously should not be there.
She had long wavy blonde hair. She had skin as white as a doll. She had a short, compact figure. She always wore a beret, liked to wear miniskirts, and had a habit of covering her legs with stockings.
Those where the features of someone who had been lost.
And they were the features of the person that appeared in Mugino’s field of vision as the footsteps approached.
“In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’ve come to terms with it. That is no reason for my anger to disappear!!”
Cendrillon, a girl who had become a fair bit smaller due to Mugino Shizuri getting the quantities wrong, leaned up against a vending machine in District 7 of Academy City.
Due to the Ichihanaransai preparations, the sounds of do-it-yourself construction could be heard throughout the city. Costumes for haunted houses and cafes also had to be made, so most schools had classrooms filled with the equipment needed for making clothes.
Cendrillon had snuck into one such school and made herself a dress.
It was the symbol of her power.
It was the cornerstone of her transformation.
It was the first step towards letting a completely normal-looking little girl borrow the magic power needed to overpower others.
(A lot of people are still hanging around Kamijou Touma, and they’re probably all giving him edited information in order to have him use his right arm for their ends.)
She did not blame them for that.
Cendrillon was not Kamijou Touma’s ally.
She had but one goal.
She wanted to apply decisive damage to Gremlin for having deceived her back in Hawaii.
She would use anyone to achieve that goal and she would ally herself with anyone to achieve that goal.
(Gremlin is thinly spread out across the entire world map, so I would likely never find them no matter how hard I searched. But they have approached Kamijou Touma. If I follow that boy around, Gremlin is sure to be skulking nearby.)
She had successfully made her way into Academy City and acquired a means of attack.
Now it was time she took action.
“I suppose you could call it miraculous. Also, Anti-Skill’s training must have stuck with them even in an emergency situation like that,” said a frog-faced doctor to a nurse. He had just finished an emergency late-night surgery. “The bullet missed any vital areas and it came out cleanly. Well, as long as he rests, his condition should stabilize. But if he starts moving around, I can make no promises.”
Kamijou Touma was inside the ICU which had one wall made of glass so any small changes to the patient’s condition could be seen from outside and no germs could find their way in. His body was covered with electrodes, he had a mask over his mouth to supply him with oxygen, and he had an IV tube sticking into his right arm at about the elbow.
The vital signs displayed on the screen were stable, but vitals that were too stable were not necessarily a good thing in medicine. That made it seem the patient was not conscious.
“Once his condition stabilizes, he will be handed over to Anti-Skill, so preparations are being made for that. But, well, I wonder if he will end up being treated a suspect or a victim in this situation.”
Lights out had passed, so the hallway had only the bare minimum of illumination. The footsteps disappeared down that hallway.
After waiting to make sure no one was there, Kamijou Touma slowly opened his eyes.
He wanted to immediately throw away the mask, pull off the electrodes, and pull out the IV tube, but the doctors would come running to the ICU if there was any oddity in his vital signs. First, he had to check to see how much he could move.
He only put a little bit of strength into his abs in an attempt to sit up, but a dull pain exploded inside his body. It felt like he was holding a liquid in with only a small membrane. He felt like something would burst and blood would begin flowing out if he forced himself to move.
But that did not change the fact that the situation regarding Fräulein Kreutune was still a tightrope act.
Gremlin, Ollerus’s group, and Fräulein Kreutune’s own movements.
None of the problems had actually been solved.
He did not have the time to be sitting around resting.
(I don’t think I can avoid reopening my wound… I probably won’t last long this time.)
His breathing was shallow within the oxygen mask.
If he left the ICU, he faced a very real danger of simply collapsing somewhere in the city. And there was no guarantee that he would be brought back to the hospital alive. Also, the odds were good that he would end up forced into a literally life-or-death battle with magicians that could take on the entire world on their own.
He had a very real danger of dying.
That was not something a normal high school student was used to dealing with and the feeling spread from the center of his spine and out to every inch of his body.
Kamijou held his breath for a moment.
And after he truly thought about that fear…
He took his next action.
By the time the frog-faced doctor detected the abnormal vital signs and ran back to the ICU, the bed was empty. The IV tube and the various electrodes were sitting discarded on the bed.
At the same time, a buzzer went off in the hospital security room indicating an emergency door had been opened.
The security camera records showed what looked like a boy wearing a hospital gown.
And the doorknob was covered in blood.
Various people held various motives.
Various people were in various circumstances.
But the time was the same.
“Today” came to an end, and “tomorrow” arrived.
The preparations for the Ichihanaransai, the giant assembly of cultural festivals carried out by every school in Academy City, finally came to an end.
This was where it all started.
The Ichihanaransai finally began.
Biometric confirmation complete. Validating connection.
Welcome back, Aleister-sama.
Reading Thoth 78 artificial intelligence is beginning the inputted task.
Beginning discussion regarding the problem of Fräulein Kreutune.
Fräulein Kreutune’s identity is still effectively unknown.
Genetically speaking, she can only be called a normal human.
Since humans and gorillas are genetically only 2% different, it is odd that she falls into the category of a human.
With the body she has, it would be less surprising if her DNA formed a triple helix.
Categorically, Fräulein Kreutune would likely count as belonging to the science side, but she belongs to a different system than the psychic powers developed in Academy City.
To specify, she is not an esper that causes various phenomena using quantum theory based around their Personal Reality.
She is a life form that does not possess a Personal Reality that is supported by what is known as the mind or the ego.
Her thought patterns may be similar to an even more simplified version of an insect.
Hot or cold. Sweet or bitter. Damp or dry.
All of those sorts of conditions are scanned and the direction that leads to the most suitable environment is chosen. Such decisions are piled on top of each other one after another and it gives the impression that she is “thinking deeply”.
However, Academy City psychic powers are not controlled with just the brain. The entire physical body controls them.
Fräulein Kreutune’s thoughts are overly simplified and yet her physical body is overly optimized. That imbalance is estimated to be what gives her such unthinkable characteristics.
(Link to a different topic found. For the results to an experiment showing destroying the mind of a human with normal thought patterns does not produce these same effects, please see [this].)
On the other hand, there is no reason for her to remain in a single form or property.
Or rather, it is estimated it would be natural for her to be constantly changing to conform to the situation.
Conforming to the situation.
To put it another way, the keyword related to Fräulein Kreutune’s transformation is estimated to be “learning” by scanning her surrounding environment.
It does not matter whether that surrounding environment is good or bad.
Once she absorbs a certain level of information, Fräulein Kreutune will likely transform into some other form regardless of what sort of information that is.
By acquiring a massive amount of information, she will grow from a collection of continuous thought processes even simpler than an insect’s to a more complex and flexible thought process. In the process of that growth, she will likely experience a great change.
Most likely, she will become something that exceeds what can be referred to as “Fräulein Kreutune”.
Perhaps it can be referred to as eclosion.
Just as there is a great change between a larva and an adult insect, Fräulein Kreutune’s transformation conceals the possibility of reversing the position of prey and predator.
If the position of the hunter and the hunted are reversed, the construction of the food chain will collapse and incredible damage will be done to the current culture that is centered on mankind’s use of science.
Aleister-sama, by both physically and informationally isolating Fräulein Kreutune, you had stopped her from learning.
That was not a mistake.
(Link to a different topic found. For information regarding the destroyed portion of the windowless building’s outer wall and the honeycomb-shaped inner wall alone successfully retaining the airtight state, please see [this].)
However, from the standard amount of information Fräulein Kreutune can see or hear, it is estimated to take a very, very long time for her to acquire the massive amount of information required for the transformation.
It would take approximately 2300 years. Given Fräulein Kreutune’s characteristics, that is not an impossible length of time, but it is not a pressing matter at the moment.
The problem is that this modern society contains a few different methods of obtaining information more efficiently than simply seeing or hearing it. Be certain she does not find a means of accessing Academy City’s Bank.
On top of that, a more pressing problem has presented itself.
Fräulein Kreutune has come into contact with Last Order, the command tower of the Misaka Network.
If Fräulein Kreutune detects the Misaka Network and uses Last Order’s brain to take control of it, that 2300 years can be reduced to a mere 3 seconds.
Also, as Fräulein Kreutune learns from the environment and changes her properties based on that, it is likely she can eat a human’s brain and reproduce the brain’s structure within herself to acquire its properties.
If she deems doing so is necessary, any personal circumstances are estimated to not be enough of a factor to stop her true nature from taking over and eating the brain.
In other words, she will not spontaneously stop acquiring new properties.
To be blunt…
It is estimated that Fräulein Kreutune will acquire the properties needed for the eating and absorption and subsequently begin taking action to eat the target’s brain within 2 hours.