Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume7 Chapter4

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Chapter 4: Destruction of the Pre-Established Harmony. Total_Hero.[edit]

Part 1[edit]

The reboot sequence completed and the cyborg created by the city’s dark side awakened.

She was missing an arm.

When she stood up and looked around, she found Kamijou Touma, Hamazura Shiage, and Kuroyoru Umidori were gone. They had likely either fled or gone to meet up with Fremea Seivelun.

The loss of any hint to Fremea’s location was concerning. She might have been able to read some residual information using the #5’s power, but that power had such a high level of freedom that it was difficult to use.

“All threats have disappeared from the area. Redistributing performance from high-speed battle optimization to even distribution. Beginning search.”

As Rensa uttered those flowing statements, her metallic reddish-purple and pink flesh changed. It became the color of slightly flushed skin that could repel water. This was the skin of a teenage girl.

And then Rensa heard a familiar voice

“Rensa-chan. Your camouflage nurse uniform is gone, so you will be walking around naked like this.”

“Doctor?”

Rensa looked around again, but could not spot the person in question.

And yet she could still hear Yakumi Hisako’s voice.

“There may be a problem with leaving my outer skin exposed to the air, but I determined leaving the reddish-purple and pink armor on the surface would make me appear more of a threat.”

“Rensa-chan.”

Rensa fell silent when the woman spoke her name more forcefully.

This was the same as a trained dog.

She did not need to understand the reasons behind the actions.

With a staticky noise, some of her skin changed to something like a reddish-purple and pink swimsuit.

“Nice. Nice one, Rensa-chan.”

“I am unsure why this matters.”

“Well, cyborgs are different from normal machines by definition. For example, you have a ‘face’.”

“Is that also why my bust size setting has been stopped at 80.999 cm?”

“That’s a top priority issue, you idiot,” replied the adult woman with a sharp voice.

Rensa tilted her head, but ended up abandoning the question because she could not solve it herself.

Something else was more important.

“Doctor, where are you? I am detecting a problem of mid level or above in my vision processing…”

“Don’t worry, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with your sensory organs, Rensa-chan. No one can see me in my current form.”

“?”

“My physical body has been safely destroyed. My consciousness has been transferred to the shading computer that uses the AIM diffusion fields as a medium.”

“What? The Agitate Halation project was not meant to construct a billiards cue?”

“If I didn’t present it like that, the other black-hearted members of the board of directors would never have allowed it. What matters is that I have now stepped into the realm of Kazakiri Hyouka and Dragon. I should be able to make significant advances in my research now.”

“That is good to hear. Now that you have achieved your objective, shall I fall back?”

“No, no. I need you to keep at it a bit longer.”

“?”

Rensa tilted her head.

Yakumi continued to produce her voice from empty air.

“I am now an existence fixed in the AIM diffusion fields spread across the city. However, a shading computer can use any gas or liquid that can be controlled with fluid mechanics.”

“I see. And that means?”

“There are some existences constructed from Academy City’s AIM diffusion fields. There is Kazakiri Hyouka and Dragon. …But what if I made the scale even greater? What about the world’s oceans…no, the air. The air across the entire world. If I could preserve my giant thought processes based on its movements, I would be reborn as something that far exceeds an AIM thought being. What would I see once that happens?”

“I have a question.”

“Yesss?”

“When using the AIM diffusion fields, the students and the fields can influence each other. That is why a shading computer can be built and why the city’s heroes can be controlled using it. Can the same really be done with normal air or seawater?”

“It can. Humans’ thoughts can be influenced by the concentration of oxygen in their blood and slight adjustments in atmospheric pressure. This is a common theme in weightlessness experiments. The air can influence people and people’s movements can influence the air. I just have to work my way into the middle of that.”

Rensa was quite a monster with her mostly mechanized body, but Yakumi Hisako went much farther than that.

However, Rensa felt no fear. She only continued asking questions as a student seeking education.

“Then what do you need to shift to the other medium?”

“Fremea Seivelun,” readily replied Yakumi’s voice. “She was necessary to construct Agitate Halation. Basically, she stabilized things and functioned as a linchpin keeping me in this city. The balloon has been filled, but it cannot fly high into the sky if the string remains. And now that I have been fully reactivated as an AIM thought being, I no longer need Fremea Seivelun. Once that linchpin has been removed, I can take a trip into the realm of the infinite.”

“…This plan was a mixture of camouflage and the real thing. What a complicated structure.”

“Oh, it’s quite easy to understand,” said Yakumi as she laughed. But as the woman had no physical body, Rensa could only tell by hearing it. “Just as before, it all comes to an end once you kill Fremea Seivelun. That is all you need to know.”

Rensa heard the quiet noise of an electric vehicle approaching.

It was filled with her spare parts.

“What do I have at my disposal?”

“You can use anything but those roachies. Their guiding substance was taken, so they were probably gathered in one place and crushed.”

The man-eating roaches were a powerful weapon, but they could not self-replicate. A neutron beam had been set to automatically damage the roaches’ brains such that they turned their hunger toward other objects. Even if they ran away and reproduced, their children would not inherit the man-eating characteristics.

That meant they would be forever gone if the current swarm was defeated.

“But why?”

“Agitate Halation is sending the artificial heroes throughout Academy City to rescue Fremea Seivelun. There are approximately 7500 of them. Can you avoid them? Can you defeat them?” She did not hesitate to make those suggestions. It was as if she was implicitly saying Rensa could do either with her specs. “You will be fine. They may be heroes, but they will not necessarily work together. Even if they do work together to find Fremea, they will break apart the instant they spot her. They will all want to rescue her in their own way.”

“Then what should I do? I have no way of tracking-…”

“Rensa-chan, you do not need to follow someone like Hamazura. If you follow the signal from the white rhinoceros beetle we took control of, you will find Fremea. Take advantage of the confusion to approach her and kill her☆”

Part 2[edit]

Kamijou Touma ran through Academy City at night.

He could not see the whole picture of what was going on. In fact, was there any one person who could see the whole picture? Whoever was plotting this conspiracy had likely not foreseen Kamijou’s continued presence. For that reason, there may not have been anyone who truly understood everything.

And Kamijou could not view that in an optimistic light.

An obviously gigantic power was freely writhing around the city. He could feel the strange eeriness of it all.

(At any rate, I need to meet up with this Fremea Seivelun girl. This incident has started to leave any of the rails set up for it, but that girl is definitely at the eye of the storm.)

A map was displayed on the cell phone Hamazura Shiage had given him and a red dot could be seen in the center. That was the GPS signal from Fremea’s security buzzer.

Fremea had likely been fleeing the entire time Kamijou and the others fought Rensa, but she was only a child. She had not yet left District 13. Kamijou was unsure he should be glad he could catch up quickly or concerned that her enemies could reach her sooner.

(But…)

Kamijou frowned while looking at the map on that small screen.

(Where is she running to? It looks like a large area.)

The large blank on the map indicating private property was labeled “Learning Core”.

Kamijou recalled a TV commercial he had seen.

He recalled that it was a theme park created from various educational facilities such as a library, museum, aquarium, and planetarium. It had been created to bring younger children back to those sorts of facilities and it had been unified to make up for the general lack of land and funds, but a high school boy like Kamijou was not aware of all that.

What came to his mind was…

(That place has works of art and antiques, right? I doubt its security would be lax enough for an eight year old girl to sneak in. So how did she get in?)

For an instant, he began to wonder if the red dot on the map was a decoy, but then he reconsidered.

(That’s right. Fremea doesn’t have to sneak in without anyone noticing. She wants the siren to go off. When the guards rush over, they can help save her.)

However, the enemy pursing Fremea now was on a greater scale than ever before.

This was an enemy that sent a cyborg that could freely use multiple Level 5 powers as a mere vanguard.

Middle-aged men with batons and pepper spray would only get themselves wrapped up in the trouble.

“Well, I’m not really one to talk…” muttered Kamijou.

And then…

The red dot suddenly disappeared from the map.

At first only puzzlement filled Kamijou’s face.

He used his thumb to operate the cell phone, but the dot did not reappear. He could no longer see where Fremea Seivelun was.

“Dammit. What?” he spat out.

He began running even faster. He felt a very bad feeling building up in his chest as he rushed toward the giant Learning Core facility.

“What is going on!?”

Part 3[edit]

Fremea Seivelun stood at the front gate of Learning Core. The gate had heavy metal bars and slid open, so it was like a bigger version of a school’s main entrance. It was over 3 meters tall, so an eight year old like Fremea could never climb over it.

However…

A different solution presented itself for someone as small as Fremea. She twisted her body around and managed to squeeze herself between the bars.

As soon as she did, giant lights turned on in various places around the large grounds. They were high output lights similar to the ones on baseball fields. The darkness was wiped away instantly and Fremea instinctually held her arm over her eyes like when a car turned its headlights on nearby.

“Ny-nyah!! What, what!?”

“It does not…matter if you…are found… It is more important that…you lose those pursuing you…”

The white rhinoceros beetle in her pocket created bits and pieces of his artificial voice

She still did not know what had happened, but the beetle was finally able to speak by vibrating his wings once more. It seemed he had still not fully recovered and could not use his power, but it was still a piece of good news among all the unreasonable happenings of late.

“Also…there is this…”

The white beetle rummaged around in her pocket and used two legs to force out an egg-shaped device.

“Nyah. In the first place, Hamazura gave that to me.”

“Yes, but a third party could learn of your position if they intercepted the GPS signal. I am sorry, but I recommend that you destroy it…”

“Nyah…” said Fremea as she hesitated.

She may have been reluctant to part with the tool so readily as it symbolized her bond with Hamazura.

However, the beetle’s thoughts were perfectly logical.

He used his trembling front legs to push the egg-shaped device out of Fremea’s pocket and onto the hard ground.

“Now, hurry. Please crush it underfoot.”

“But…”

“Hurry!!”

The white rhinoceros beetle’s artificial voice almost seemed to be scolding Fremea as she hesitated.

However…

(No, dammit!! Don’t do that! If you destroy that, those trying to rescue you won’t be able to find you!!)

The beetle was trembling in an attempt to resist something.

But a third party had control of his actions. The situation had actually grown worse since the student dorm.

He was undeniably the primary owner of that rhinoceros beetle body made of Dark Matter.

However, Dark Matter did not require a single core. The system created by that power was resilient enough to overcome that limitation. In other words, being the primary owner did not necessarily give him an advantage toward controlling the body. The situation could be different depending on the method used, but there was a danger of an interfering third party being given equal control.

And as the beetle fell further into this crisis situation, his thin wings created an artificial voice saying the opposite of what he wanted.

“If you do not destroy that now, it will call in even more enemies.”

“Nyah…”

“An object Hamazura Shiage gave you will end up hurting you. If that happens, he will be horribly hurt as well.”

The voice sounded sincerely kind yet chose words that would accurately tear into her heart.

The white beetle felt such intense anger he thought his body would burst from within, but he could not stop his thin wings from moving.

“Now! If you do not want to hurt him any further, then hurry!”

“Okay… Okay!!”

Fremea moved her small leg while almost in tears.

That egg-shaped security buzzer was meant to call in the people who would rescue her, but she was lifting her leg to crush it and destroy it.

“…St…Stop…!!”

For just an instant, the white beetle regained control of his body.

He gave a quick warning, but did not make it in time,

He heard the high-pitched sound of plastic breaking.

The GPS signal was gone.

She had done it.

And as soon as that thought entered the white beetle’s head, control of his body was taken away once more. A voice other than his own led Fremea in the wrong direction.

“Head into the facility. Head for the museum area because it is the sturdiest.”

“Nyah…”

Learning Core was divided into three major areas: the outside area, the underground area, and the high-rise complex known as the Lightning Rod. The outdoor area she was currently running through was primarily made up of a botanical garden and zoo, so it was filled with a lot of cages either made of metal bars or dug down into the ground. The domed building visible beyond the artificial forest was the planetarium. An aquarium, art gallery, and library existed underground, but the museum Fremea was heading for seemed to be in the Lightning Rod building. She just had to follow the arrows on the signs posted around. Due to all the elementary school children in District 13, the power was turned out relatively early, so the building had an observatory built on the roof.

While running as quickly as she could on her short legs, Fremea dashed between cages from which the animals had been removed and she spoke with the (person who was controlling the) white rhinoceros beetle.

“But, in the first place how am I supposed to get inside the building? It’s night, so they’ll have locked all the doors.”

“You can find a way around that using how small you are. First, please head for the East-2 business delivery entrance. You can head up the garbage chute to…”

Suddenly, they heard a noise.

It was the creaking of a metal fence. Fremea looked over and saw someone jumping out from the artificial forest and into the bright baseball field-like lights.

This person wore a bunny girl outfit that emphasized her feminine silhouette and wore a paper bag over her head. She used both hands to hold a water jet at her waist.

“Found you.”

Fremea took a step back when she heard that.

The paper bag woman was not alone.

With the sounds of people rustling through grass, more and more people appeared out of the artificial forest.

“Ohh, I found you!! No need to worry. I will save you!!!!!”

That oddly cheerful voice made Fremea feel like some strange object was wrapping around her legs.

The rhinoceros beetle’s artificial voice snapped her out of it.

“Hurry! To East-2!! If you enter through an entrance too small for anyone else, they cannot reach you!!”

Fremea finally resumed running for the giant Lightning Rod building.

Countless sets of footsteps pursued her. It was not her speed that prevented them from catching up to her. Instead, the people continually grabbed at each other’s hair and clothes and got their limbs tangled together. They took each other out like water in a flood.

“I will save you!!”

“No, me!!”

“I will!!”

“Get out of the way!!”

Terribly ominous noises struck Fremea from behind.

If she glanced behind her even once, she would be swallowed up. She could tell that all too well.

And like a drowning man grasping at straw, this threat increased her reliance on the white beetle that was giving her clear instructions.

However…

(Dammit!! She’s doing exactly what they want! If she stops questioning anything, they really will be able to control her as they see fit. I need to do something… I need to destroy this false trust!!)

Those demonic calculations were producing excellent results.

Most were completely unaware of it, and the few who were could do nothing about it.

Part 4[edit]

Kamijou Touma arrived in front of Learning Core.

On his way here, he had worried about how he would sneak in, but it turned out that was not a problem.

Powerful outdoor lights were illuminating the complex like midday and a red rotating light on the main gate’s pillar indicated an emergency situation.

With the alarm already activated, he did not need to worry about activating it himself.

Kamijou climbed the three meter fence and made his way inside.

(Did it go off when Fremea escaped inside? I hope the alarm didn’t scare her into going elsewhere.)

The GPS signal had disappeared here. If she had gone somewhere else, he would have no way of following.

Kamijou continued across the complex while following alongside the lines of empty cages that animals were let inside during the day, but he finally frowned.

Something was not right.

The atmosphere was unpleasantly tense. He could smell smoke. The emergency was clearly something greater than an eight year old girl entering. He had a bad feeling that something much bigger was going on.

(What is this feeling…?)

Kamijou continued ahead along the line of cages, but he was much more cautious than before. The zoo had artificial ups and downs built into the ground to make it seem less uniform. Kamijou was walking up one of those hills.

(Hawaii… Baggage City… No, this is different. This isn’t the same scent as back then. This is much…thicker than what I saw there…)

He continued up the hill. The entire facility was lit up with bright lights. Trying to look up into the night sky gave him a headache. However, he could see something else mixed in with that pure white light. Some other color was rising up from over the hill.

(Oh, that’s right…)

Kamijou finally made it to the top of the hill.

And he saw what lay on the other side.

(Russia. This is like the center of World War III! This is the same tension that feels like running right into an invisible brick wall. This is the same scent as that catastrophe!!)

Everything was filled with the red of flames and the black of smoke.

The botanical garden that took up half of the outdoor area was burning.

And it was not just a case of arson. A mass of what almost looked like poppy seeds was gathered around the giant building known as the Lightning Rod. When Kamijou realized they were all people, a chill ran down his spine. This riot was made up of hundreds…no, thousands of people. And they were clearly not a group unified behind a single goal. They were chaotically grabbing and punching at each other.

Kamijou remembered something.

He remembered the self-proclaimed heroes who had begun fighting before his eyes on his way to District 13.

(Are they under the effects of a partial version of Agitate Halation? They all want to protect Fremea, but they’re completely divided over who takes command!!)

They were making no distinction between enemy and ally, so they would target Kamijou as well. This was not a situation where he could stop each individual conflict. He had to find Fremea as quickly as possible, defeat the person behind Agitate Halation, and then end the project itself.

(And that means my first priority is…)

Where was Fremea Seivelun inside Learning Core?

Or had she fled elsewhere?

The best way to find out was to ask one of Learning Core’s guards. Kamijou checked a sign and crouched down as he ran to the zoo office. However, the tiny building was empty when he arrived. The guards would not have been armed with guns. Once they decided the commotion was too much for them to stop, they would have hidden in some safe place.

He went around to a nearby first-aid station and guard station, but they were also deserted. The guard station had numerous monitors lined up inside, but he could not see Fremea on any of them and did not know how to call up past footage.

After checking four or five similar places, he finally found someone inside a square building labeled “food storage”. The building contained machinery that made the animals’ food by grinding up giant pieces of meat and creating a paste by mixing in grains, a digestive aid, and other additives. They must have needed to make quite a lot in one day because it was as large as a harbor storehouse.

Kamijou found the person inside the giant machine that ground up pieces of beef the size of sandbags. A middle-aged man was curled up between the multiple rotating blades that were currently not moving.

“Ee!! W-wait! I am unarmed! I am just a zookeeper. I can’t do anything to you, so please do not attack me!!”

“Don’t worry, don’t worry. I’m not one of the ones who attacked this place,” firmly said Kamijou to quiet down the man.

It would be a problem if the man made too much noise and the self-proclaimed heroes heard.

However, the middle-aged man was so focused on himself that he did not think that far.

“R-really? Then why are you here after hours? Y-you aren’t going to drag me out to them, are you!?”

“I’m not! But how about you come out from there? It may be unlikely, but if that thing turns on, you’ll be ripped to shreds.”

“I-I unplugged it before hiding inside…”

The man must have started feeling more comfortable about Kamijou because he came out and stepped down to the floor.

Kamijou sighed and said, “You just had bad luck. But not many people have entered the zoo. I climbed over the fence at the front gate. If you cross the artificial forest, you can probably reach the fence without those heroes noticing.”

“You’re kidding… You want me to go through there!? It would be safer to hide here all night.”

“They are being completely indiscriminate. They might start a thorough search of the area soon or they might set fire to buildings without searching them properly. It would be best to get out now.”

The zookeeper’s body stiffened in fear when he heard the word “fire”.

He glanced nervously toward the exit again and again.

“Um…who are you? Why are you here?”

“An eight year old girl named Fremea Seivelun is in here. I don’t know if this crowd is trying to capture her or hurt her, but nothing good will come of them finding her. I need to find her first.”

It was possible they did not intend to harm Fremea. However, if the girl was thrown out into the midst of them, she could be accidentally shot in the fight over her. It was even possible the crowd would grab at her arms and legs and rip her to pieces.

When Kamijou explained that fear to him, the middle-aged zookeeper nodded slightly and said, “Animals from the cat family will sometimes get so worked up over protecting their children from an enemy that they accidentally kill that child. I do not know who these rioters are, but I agree they look more dangerous than wild beasts.”

Kamijou’s thought patterns here were actually no different from those rampaging throughout Learning Core, but he did not realize it. The only difference was whether Hamazura had asked them to rescue Fremea or not.

“I need to know where she is hiding in this vast complex, so I want to contact the people who worked as guards here. They’re the only ones who can check the recorded security camera footage. Do you know where they would have gone to hide in an emergency?”

“If I did, I would not have been left behind. …No, wait.”

“?”

Kamijou frowned as the middle-aged zookeeper pulled out his smartphone. He seemed to be entering special values into the phones settings rather than using a standard application.

“I think…the camera footage is connected to the network both with wires and wirelessly. That way it will still be up and running if one or the other is taken out. If I do this…and this and…wait, what came next? There’s a way connect to the camera network’s wireless LAN.”

“You can really do that?”

“When some of the Old World monkeys escaped before, a new zookeeper managed to capture them unusually easily. When I asked him how he did it, he showed me this trick. Ah, here we go! I’ve got it!!”

Kamijou peered at the small screen the zookeeper held out. It was indeed displaying the grainy black-and-white footage of a security camera. He switched through them, but all of the outdoor ones only showed what a horrible state everything was in.

“But there are a lot of cameras. Won’t it take a long time to check them one by one?”

“Those rioters came here pursuing Fremea. Where did the alarm go off first? The first one had to be Fremea. She couldn’t have snuck in undetected.”

They checked the cameras around the outer perimeter of the complex at the time the alarm was activated. They spotted a child slipping in through the front gate. They saw her hurriedly run toward the giant building known as the Lightning Rod.

“The Lightning Rod…”

“It was given that name to bring to mind the idea of peacefully using great knowledge to overcome a natural disaster. I always thought it was an odd word choice for a children’s educational facility.”

The zookeeper worked here, so he naturally knew more about the place than the average person. But Kamijou wanted to know about Fremea’s safety.

“What kind of security does that building have?”

“It wasn’t a bad choice on her part,” said the middle-aged zookeeper. “The art gallery and museum are filled with items much more valuable than an animal’s life. It’s the toughest place here. If she did manage to sneak in, it’s the safest place to be.”

“Thanks.”

Kamijou handed the smartphone back to the zookeeper.

The man frowned and asked, “You’re still going? She can last all night in there. In fact, you will probably be spotted by those rioters if you try to approach.”

“If we can figure out she’s there, the others can too,” replied Kamijou while urging the zookeeper toward the exit. “And if that many people use cutting-edge technology and powerful esper abilities, we can’t know for sure the building will last all night. I need to find a way to Fremea.”

Kamijou cracked open the steel door.

After seeing that no one was outside, the two of them turned toward their separate destinations.

“Be careful.”

“You too.”

The two ran off in different directions through that nighttime zoo illuminated by powerful lights.

Part 5[edit]

As he approached the Lightning Rod, the number of people grew. They may have already figured out where Fremea was.

The area around the giant building was made into a large open plaza instead of being used for the zoo or botanical garden. However, it had several pieces of artwork set up as an outdoors art gallery, so there were still places to hide. The stench of smoke grew stronger in the plaza and Kamijou crouched down behind the pedestal to a hunk of metal that might have been intertwined people or trees.

He heard several pairs of footsteps pass by nearby.

He was still about 150 meters away from the Lightning Rod.

(How am I supposed to sneak in? It seems Tsuchimikado just climbed up a wall before, but…)

Having no way in was a problem, but Fremea would be in danger if getting in was too easy. As he pondered this odd dilemma, a thought came to him.

(That’s right. The power lines. If they’re buried underground like in the city, they need a network of underground passageways for maintenance. There have to be secret routes connecting the difference facilities!)

The underground passageways would connect to every building with power. And that included the Lightning Rod.

Also, the Lightning Rod contained valuable artwork and antiques. In case of a robbery, they would probably have thick shutters to stop the robbers and a method of quickly removing the truly valuable items from the building. That would be meaningless if the robbers could simply wait at the exit, so the passageways would be laid out like a spider web. That meant the underground power tunnels would be perfect.

“…”

Kamijou looked around while still crouched down. He saw round manholes and square manholes, but he was too far away to tell which ones led to the power network.

He decided to approach one to check, but then…

He heard an odd sound from the side.

He turned around and his eyes met with a girl wearing a gymnastics leotard under a thick coat. She was swinging a long ribbon through complex trajectories in the sky. Instead of simple flames, the ribbon was emitting powerful orange sparks like it was wearing down a piece of metal.

(Not good…!!)

“It’s. So. Cold.”

As the light ribbon danced through the air, it touched a metal piece of art. Sparks exploded out and a large chunk of the metal was gouged out.

“Could you make the cold go away? Justice must be carried out beautifully!!”

“…!!”

As the sparking ribbon arced complicatedly through the air, Kamijou grabbed it with his right hand. However, he received no resistance when he tugged it toward him. The girl had readily let go and instead pulled out several batons and a bowling pin-like club she had hidden somewhere.

Orange sparks burst from all of them.

Before she could throw or swing around those weapons, Kamijou jabbed his foot forward as hard as he could. He jammed his heel into the girl’s solar plexus and used his entire body weight to knock her unconscious.

However, he could not relax.

Once that one found him, others would head toward him too.

“Shit!!”

He could not remain in one spot. If he opened the manhole lid while they were watching, he would be leading them to Fremea. He had to lose them before he could try the underground power network.

A girl wearing a kendo hakama swung a bamboo sword so heavy it seemed to actually be made of concrete. A young man pursued Kamijou while sliding across the grass as smoothly as if he were skiing. A girl who looked exactly like the stereotypical library girl used the colorful bookmarks held between her fingers to target Kamijou’s throat like they were razor blades.

As Kamijou ran, he tried to take out as many as he could by performing a lariat as he passed by, but it was not enough. Far too many of them had noticed him.

He was running out of places to run.

The paths he might take were being blocked one after another.

“Thank you for inviting me tonight! Let’s get this one-man outdoor concert in the Learning Core started!! We won’t stop until morniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnngggggggggggg!!!!!!”

A tremendous shockwave blasted away the crowd of heroes around Kamijou.

He frantically negated it with his right hand as the girl flanked by advertisement trucks shouted into the megaphone-shaped microphone she held in one hand.

Their eyes met and she winked for some reason.

“Looks like we have someone following us for the full national tour☆ I’ve got nothing against that kind of passion! If the fans are that excited, I’ve gotta go all out for the first soooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggggggggg!!”

“Y-you idiot!!”

Avoiding an invisible shockwave without using his right hand would be difficult. But as Kamijou held out his right hand, he spotted something unpleasant out of the corner of his eye: another esper was firing flames from his palm. He could not defend against another projectile at the moment.

(Dammit…!!)

With his eyes opened wide, Kamijou tried to avoid the flames by lowering his upper body despite knowing it would never work.

And then…

Multiple beams of light blew away the advertisement trucks creating the great noise.

Kamijou did not understand what had happened.

But since the shockwave had disappeared, he focused on the flame esper. He used his right hand to scatter the wall of flames approaching him.

(That was the same power that cyborg used.)

He thought maybe that enemy had returned, but he was wrong.

NT Index v07 346.png

It was not a cyborg with a metallic reddish-purple and pink body he spotted.

(So is this the real Level 5!?)

“Wait…”

This esper was not even looking in Kamijou’s direction.

With a girl in a knit dress and a girl in a pink track suit on either side of her, the #4 brushed up her bangs and spoke to no one in particular.

“Where did Fremea get off to? Honestly, Hamazura. If you’re going to ask us for help, can’t you give us some better information?”

“Well, if we defeat them all and search the entire area, we will super find her eventually, right?”

“…I detect a signal from south-southwest.”

The three girls did not hesitate to walk right into the center of the commotion. It was as if this did not leave the realm of their everyday life.

Meanwhile, the girl who had lost her speakers tossed the megaphone-shaped microphone aside, laughed, and tried to take control of the area with her unamplified voice.

“Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Thanks for the unexpected ad lib request! This is why live performances are so much-…!!”

“Shut the hell up.”

An explosive noise rang out.

Over ten people flew through the air like a part of a joke.

But this was not due to the conflict between the #4 and the microphone girl. It had happened in the distant burning botanical garden.

(What was that…?)

Kamijou frowned and looked around.

He saw…


“This is horrible.”

This area was filled with bright red flames and blazing heat rather than the brilliant white of the outdoor lights. A single boy stood in the middle of the blazing forest. He wore a school uniform bleached pure white and had a headband wrapped around his forehead. He was looking at the burning trees with a look of pure regret.

“These guys showed how much guts they have by living this long. Some of them have lived longer than a human ever will. Now, it’s true trees have to be cut down at times to help us humans out, but I can’t stand it when you don’t show the slightest respect for their guts.”

This was Academy City’s #7.

His name was Sogiita Gunha.

He was here for a very simple reason. He had run across the commotion while walking through the city. A true hero did not need to be led to the incident like the artificially created ones had been.

“Take this!”

With that silly-sounding shout, he simply jabbed his clenched fist forward.

That was all it took.

An overwhelming blast of wind blew out the almost volcanic blaze like it was a simple candle.

The dozen or so students surrounding him took a few steps back when they saw that. Sogiita on the other hand, paid those “heroes” no heed whatsoever. His gaze was fixed on a tiny flickering flame that remained.

“Whoops, there’s still some left. If one blast wasn’t enough, I must still be severely lacking in guts.”

Sogiita lowered his body and held up his fist.

“Let me give everyone a quick warning. If you want to flee, do so now. I won’t be trying to hit any of you, but my method of saving lives is not something you can withstand without any guts.”


“Shit! What the hell!?”

“Surround him! There’s no reason to be afraid then!!”

“Yeah, but…!!”

A loud roar exploded out and several boys collapsed to the ground. Several dozen boys and girls were surrounding a lone boy. This boy was wearing a black leather jacket. Despite facing just that one enemy, the other boys and girls had yet to so much as scratch him.

On the other hand, over half of the original group surrounding him had already been lost. Due to the weak bonds between the group, some of those lost had simply left the group to pursue a different target.

Someone said, “What a joke…”

Someone else said, “Is this the #6!? But even a Level 5 is still human!!”

The boy in the black jacket smiled when he heard that.

His smile split across his face like a crescent moon.

“C’mon, now. Stop that.”

The most frightening part was that the boy had not done anything that indicated he was using an esper power.

He had done all of this unarmed. And in that case, what would happen once he started using the power of the #6?

“My name is not ‘Academy City’s #6’. Nor is it ‘One of the seven Level 5s’. My name is Aihana Etsu!!”

His slender arms fired punches on the level of heavy machinery.

And he charged toward the crowd surrounding him without using any sort of esper power.


Academy City’s #5, Shokuhou Misaki, looked puzzled as she placed a hand above her eyes.

“Oh? It looks like someone is using their acting ability to play the role of the #6.”

She had come here while pursuing Kamijou Touma.

When Kamijou had learned of Tsuchimikado Maika’s death in the School Garden, he had abandoned his covert mission and broken out of the gate without explaining anything to her. Shokuhou had been left in the dark. This had irritated her. She did not know what that boy had gotten himself into, but Tokiwadai Middle School and the School Garden were the #5’s territory. She could not allow him to barge in and then leave without explaining the truth behind it all.

“Well, someone pretending to be the #6 has no connection ability to me. I will simply do what I came here to do.”

She held a television remote in her other hand and she spun it around like a baton.

“Category 109 / Shokuhou Misaki is your ally. Immediately eliminate anyone who attacks her.”

“Category 081 / Your target, Shokuhou Misaki, is the boy standing next to you.”

“Category 220 / You are afraid of sailor uniforms. If any get near you, you want to eliminate them.”

She pointed the remote in various directions and manipulated one of the nearby “heroes” each time she pressed a button. Despite the dangerous cutting-edge technology and destructive esper powers flying every which way, Shokuhou remained unscathed as if she stood in the eye of the storm. Of course, this was simply because she was further encouraging everyone to target each other.

However, one person refused to keep quiet about it.

This was Misaka Mikoto who stood next to her.

“Wait! Wait just a second!! Those attacks you’re diverting are coming toward me! Ahh!?”

“Oh? Sorry about that, Misaka-san. I ordered them to target anyone who used their attack ability on me, so they must have automatically chosen the person who looked the most uncivilized.”

“You knew this would happen, didn’t you!? If not…Argh, get the hell out of my way!! Are you trying to use all this confusion to assassinate me!?”

She fired a lightning spear from her bangs which knocked out a boy with dreadlocks who was persistently targeting her. With that convenient automatic cannon taken from her, Shokuhou frowned slightly. It was the look of a clerk faced with a rude customer.

“But, Misaka-san, you have no necessity ability for being here. I am only here because it annoyed me to be left behind before I saw the incident through to its end.”

“That’s why I’m here too!!”

In other words, Mikoto had followed Shokuhou who had followed Kamijou.

“Now, where is that idiot?”

The Learning Core complex was large enough on its own, but it was now in a chaotic state where thousands of students were all fighting each other. Some areas would be difficult to get into at all, so they would have a hard time finding a specific individual.

Shokuhou spun around her remote.

That mental Level 5 had such a wide application for her powers that she did not have stable control of her powers unless she created “boundaries” for herself.

She grinned and suggested, “Then how about the first one to reach him gets to do whatever she wants?”

“Bfh!? Whatever she wants!? What do you mean whatever she wants!?”


Something flew by above Learning Core at high speed.

He instantly grasped the distribution of power within the complex, circled around, and made his way above Learning Core once more.

He had already located his target.

Not a person to attack, but a place to land.

Without hesitation, he charged at high speed straight for an area of the plaza in front of the large building. The self-proclaimed heroes were gathered here in the greatest concentration and the #4 was battling a short distance away.

The Level 5 who flew down had four tornados growing from his back like wings.

He was Accelerator, Academy City’s #1.

All sound disappeared.

A group of 1000 people were blown away in every direction as if a meteorite had landed.

All he had done was land.

That was all it took to wipe out a giant chunk of the enemy force. And his skill could only be called more than miraculous given the fact that not even one person had died despite the massive amount of destruction. His ability in vector control had already reached that level.

As all of those people were unable to stand up due to having their brain rattled, that white Level 5 stood triumphant above them all.

“Gh…fh…gbh!? Wh-wh-what…?”

“C’mon, really?” said Accelerator in light disappointment over how easily he had conquered these enemies. “Don’t tell me you thought I wouldn’t act if that brat wasn’t involved. When the darkness is on the move to this extent, I can hardly overlook it, now can I?”

Then again…

He could not completely ignore the fact that he was making a preemptive strike in case the flames spread to him due to intercepting some information on what had happened with Tsuchimikado Motoharu.

Accelerator glanced around and spotted a familiar face.

A spiky-haired boy had jumped behind the pedestal to a piece of art the instant Accelerator had landed. The boy who had escaped the shockwave was Kamijou Touma.

“Do you know what you need to do?” asked Accelerator.

“Yes.”

“Then go. I’m not the protagonist here.”

Kamijou did not run off somewhere. Instead, he opened a square manhole lid at his feet. He spoke while starting to climb down a ladder leading underground.

“These ‘heroes’ are being controlled by a project called Agitate Halation. Be careful.”

“Who do you think you’re talking to?”

Kamijou Touma completely disappeared below ground.

As if in response, new enemies began to appear. Their numbers swelled up in no time at all. They seemed more like a swarm of insects than heroes who demonstrated special power as individuals.

“Underground? I get it! So there’s an underground route!”

“I can save Fremea Seivelun if I follow that route. I will be the one to save her!!”

“Outta the way. Do you want me to blast you out of the way!?”

Accelerator smiled in response.

But it was filled with scorn.

“Interesting. Then let’s put you to the test, heroes. I’ll use these bloody hands to see if you are worthy of that name!!”


It may have started with someone intentionally guiding them.

However, those people had such strong personalities that it did not end there.

True monsters began destroying everything on the delicate table as if they had snapped their puppet strings with brute strength.

Part 6[edit]

The underground passageways were oddly large for performing maintenance on the power network. It seemed they really were made so valuable art and antiques could be evacuated with electrically-assisted push carts in an emergency. The passageways were laid out like a spider web, so it was hard to not lose track of where one was. Nevertheless, Kamijou kept himself heading as straight as possible for the Lightning Rod.

He quickly made it to the basement of the giant building.

The guards were only human. When the man and woman wearing the same uniform saw Kamijou, they paled and put their hands in the air. They had likely been watching the commotion outside on the cameras. Kamijou frantically waved a hand in front of his face.

“I’m not one of the rioters! More importantly, did a blonde girl of about eight enter the building!?”

“I-I don’t know. But an alarm was tripped…”

“?”

“It was in the accumulation area for the garbage chute at East-2. The alarm is supposed to indicate a clog, but no one would be throwing anything away after hours.”

“So she used how small she is to climb in.”

Kamijou clicked his tongue and ran toward the stairs.

The woman guard frantically yelled after him, “Wait, how did you get in here!? Don’t tell me you learned about the emergency evacuation routes…”

“If you understand, then find some way to deal with this! If I can get in, so can the others!!”

They may have been planning to block the entrance with some furniture because the two guards ran toward it. Kamijou passed by them and entered the small room they had been waiting in.

(Fremea climbed in through the garbage chute, so she doesn’t have a key. If they’ve lowered the shutters due to the emergency, she won’t be able to move freely through the building.)

He checked a map of the building and it seemed she would only be able to move through the museum portion.

Kamijou glanced out of the small room to make sure the guards were not watching him and then he grabbed the set of keys hanging on the wall.

“…Sorry,” he apologized before leaving the small room and finally heading upstairs.

Using the key without permission during this emergency would likely set off another alarm, but it did not matter as long as he managed to reach Fremea. He ran up the emergency staircase, exited to the aboveground floor, and followed the signs to the museum area.

(How will the enemy handle this situation? If they want to make sure they harm Fremea, will they really just leave it all up to these uncertain “heroes”? They’ll definitely use some more direct and dirty method. But what will it be!?)

After running up a stopped escalator like a flight of stairs, he found the entrance to the museum area. Whether it was standard at closing time or due to the emergency, it was sealed with a thick metal fire door.

Kamijou pulled out the proper key from the set he had grabbed and unlocked the fire door.

It had looked like an analog key, but he had not actually needed to turn it. Its accuracy had likely been increased by using craftsmanship to combine electric, magnetic, and other unlocking methods.

The entire museum area was made into a giant multi-story room and the skeleton of a giant carnivorous dinosaur was placed in the middle. Kamijou was on the lowest level of the museum area and it continued up for five stories. If that little girl was hiding in some unexpected small place, Kamijou could overlook her.

He thought for a second about whether he should call out for her.

However, it was more important to find Fremea than to worry about an enemy that may or may not be there.

“Fremea! Where are you!? Can you hear me!?” he shouted out, but received no response.

The building was so silent he began to wonder if anyone was even there. However, this was not too surprising. Fremea was currently being pursued by a large number of heroes that she did not know. From her perspective, Kamijou would appear the same.

He needed some way to earn her trust.

If he did not do something here, it could easily result in Fremea’s death.

Kamijou thought for a moment, hesitated over what came to mind, and finally opened his mouth to speak.

(…Oh, hell. This makes me feel like a kidnapper!)

Hamazura Shiage asked me to come here! If you’re there, please come out!!”

“Nyah…” said a high-pitched voice.

A head covered by blonde hair then poked out.

She was hiding in the mouth of the dinosaur skeleton of all places. It was supported by wires that were not made to support any extra weight, so it had to be much more delicate and unstable than it looked. If an adult tried to climb up to her, it would likely collapse underneath them.

However, that plan of hers did not take into account her own safety.

Kamijou ran up a stopped escalator to reach her level.

“Are you hurt? If not, get out of there. It’s not exactly sa-…”

He trailed off.

In that moment, one wall of the museum area suddenly shattered like glass.

An area that had originally been a window had likely been made into a wall by covering it over with a sheet that blocked out most of the light. The same method was often used in department stores and electronics stores. Someone had broken through that covered window from outside. Pure white light blinded him for a moment.

The brilliant light was coming from a helicopter floodlight. However, it was not just that painfully bright light that entered the building.

Someone balled up their body and jumped in through the broken window.

Kamijou recognized the person.

She was a cyborg with a metallic reddish-purple body.

“Hey. Hey, hey, hey! Rensa-chan’s here now, so I think you need to give up. Anyone who gives up gets a quick death. Then again, your fate has already been decided either way. Hee hee hee☆”

However, Kamijou started to doubt whether this was the same person as before.

Everything from the aura surrounding her to the words coming from her mouth was far too different.

“Why are you this intent on targeting Fremea Seivelun?”

“What? How much do you even know? Well, it doesn’t matter. You’re in the way no matter how much you know. The Agitate Halation project may have been completed, but my master wants to see what lies beyond that. It’s something like blowing up a balloon and cutting the string. And that means we can’t have the old project remaining so stable. To reach even greater heights, we need to thoroughly destroy what we already completed.

What this cyborg was saying made no sense.

Kamijou could not even understand what she meant by “greater heights”.

“Oh, oh, oh. One more thing. You may think you can get by with clenching your fist and starting a hot-blooded battle, but it’s too late for that. I’m only here to monitor the situation. I’m not here to fight you or to kill Fremea myself.”

“What…?”

“You don’t get it? You were led here from the beginning!” said someone other than the cyborg named Rensa.

The voice came from Fremea Seivelun’s pocket. It was an artificial voice produced by a small white rhinoceros beetle’s wings.

“Hee hee hee☆ If you’re gonna trust your comrades, you have to doubt them sometimes too. This thing tried to stop you so many times. ‘Don’t do it!’, ‘Don’t go there!’, ‘Please, listen to what I’m trying to say!’, and ‘Please, at least destroy this body of mine!’ ”

The beetle was trembling as it poked his head out of the pocket.

Was that his final sign of resistance? Or was it just an act forced on him by a third party?

Kamijou felt a strange heat rising up in his head.

“You bitch…”

“Wait just a second! Didn’t I tell you I wouldn’t be fighting? In fact, it’s already over.” Rensa spread her arms playfully and then gave a bow. “This building has already been filled with bombs. Just the flick of a switch and the entire thing goes boom!! It was all over for you from the moment you set foot inside here!! Hee hee hee☆”

It did not sound like a joke or a bluff.

An unpleasant feeling shot from one end of Kamijou’s spine to the other.

Rensa was not holding a switch, so she likely had the ability to send the wireless detonation signal using her cyborg body itself. That meant it would be impossible to take the switch away from her.

(Dammit…!!)

Kamijou immediately moved to cover Fremea, but it was too late. And it would be meaningless. If a blast was coming head on, he might be able to do something, but he could not protect her if the building’s central pillar was destroyed and it all came crashing down on them.

“And that is why! All I need to do! Is watch on and make sure you die!!”

And…

The time for the explosion arrived.

“Safety release. Password input complete. Okay, everyone! Time for an explosion show with no special trick to it! Bombs activate!!!!!!”

A weak electric signal was emitted from her cyborg body.

That detonation signal would turn one small area of Academy City into empty land.

Part 7[edit]

The air was filled with silence.

The air was filled with stillness.

The air was filled with nothingness.

While Kamijou lay over Fremea despite knowing it was hopeless, he focused on the quiet so much his ears started to hurt. But he eventually realized something.

“…What?”

It was not Kamijou who spoke.

It was the cyborg named Rensa.

“Why didn’t my fireworks go off!? They couldn’t have all been duds. How much work do you think I put into setting all this up!?”

It could not have been a coincidence.

Someone somewhere had done something. But who? There were several Level 5 monsters with superhuman abilities outside the building, but there was nothing they could do without knowing about the bombs. Had any of them had a chance to find out about them?

If not…

The sound of two great masses crashing together exploded out.

The side of the helicopter waiting outside the broken window had been struck by a white rhinoceros beetle of about the same size.

“You bastard…” Rensa’s eyes opened wide. “Is this some kind of joke!? I had you completely powerless with my interference!!”

Without even bothering to watch the helicopter crash to ground with black smoke, the rhinoceros beetle spoke with its artificial voice while also flapping its thin wings to fly.

“The primary consciousness means nothing with Dark Matter. You even used that characteristic to restrict my actions.”

Yes.

Even now, the key chain-like white rhinoceros beetle in Fremea’s pocket was trembling. And that was definitely the primary unit among all of the Dark Matter.

And yet…

At the same time…

That giant beetle hovered in the sky while staring at Rensa with its glowing green eyes.

“But that also means I do not particularly need my primary consciousness. Unlike the Misaka Network, each individual unit is not controlled by one large consciousness and each individual personality is not given importance either. The more I split apart, the more my consciousness is split apart into independent minds and they join back together into a single consciousness when I join back together. If you break a cookie in two, it still tastes the same and it regains its original form if you place the two pieces back together.”

This was the exact opposite of the Sisters and the Misaka Network where a problem with one portion of the network risked affecting all of them.

He could split apart as many times as necessary while retaining a sense of his self and he could still produce the same stable personality down to the last piece.

“No matter how much I split apart or how much I cut off, I continue to be Kakine Teitoku. When I detected that Fremea Seivelun was being led here, the almost 50 insect-sized versions of myself that had split off all decided independently to come here and search for any danger. And even at that size, cutting a cord is not difficult.”

Then again, thoughtlessly splitting himself apart like that presented a risk of the malicious portion of Kakine Teitoku appearing concentrated in a single independent piece. That was the same as how gathering only the raisins from a raisin cookie gave you something that could no longer be classified as a “cookie”. Fortunately, that special case had not occurred here.

“I have something to say to you people who enjoy creating collisions between heroes like a game of billiards.”

The giant beetle flew through the broken window just like Rensa had.

He caused his own outer shell to shatter and a beautiful white boy stepped out.

“Do not underestimate a Level 5.”

With a great roar, giant pure white wings burst from Kakine Teitoku’s back.

“…”

Prompted by the other boy’s will to fight, Kamijou Touma stood up from Fremea Seivelun and held up his fist.

The two boys stood on either side of Rensa, but she still laughed.

“Heh… You really are amazing, doctor. Hee hee hee☆ So you took this all into account! It makes sense. Why would you need me to simply monitor an explosion? …But you should have just told me from the beginning! Fuck!!”

NT Index v07 369.png

In response to the two boys, a flower opened wide from Rensa’s back and the countless folded up “knitting needles” shot out. The pistons built into the sides made fast and accurate movements based on certain values and rearranged the wiring within Rensa’s body as if pulling on threads.

The giant flower closed once more.

And as if taking its place, four tornado-like objects appeared from her back.

This was Academy City’s #1 power.

These were boosters created with vector control.

“I’ve seen the records from the previous Rensa. She relied on firepower and used nothing but projectiles while switching between different powers. That created openings you could take advantage of. She was obsessed with maintaining a safe zone. I’m a lot simpler than that. I stick with what’s strongest! I specialize in high speed close quarters combat!! The basics are called the basics because they leave no room for improvement!! Hee hee hee☆”

Part 8[edit]

In the outdoor zoo and botanical garden of Learning Core, the flow of the battle had been mostly set.

Even if they were up against thousands, almost all of the Level 5s had gathered for some reason or another. Among them, the #1 was especially effective against espers and the #4 was especially effective against next generation weapons. With the two of them fighting, it became unclear who was chasing who around.

But…

“Huh?”

Shokuhou Misaki frowned after having several dozen people fight for her like captured pieces in shogi.

Misaka Mikoto was being slowly pushed back where she was fighting a short distance away.

She was firing lightning spears at the many students, but they had started shouting about something.

“We need a ground! Everyone who can’t fight anymore move up front!! You take the blasts for us!!”

“We’ll finish her off, so you let us retain our strength!!”

“Okay… Make sure…to defeat…her!!”

(I don’t think her power is that easily defeated. This probably isn’t due to their ground working. She’s probably just having trouble defeating them without killing them when they’re prepared to charge at her with suicidal ability.)

“Not that it matters since I’m not going to help her.”

“You’d better help!! You could stop all of them with your powers without so much as scratching them!!”

Shokuhou ignored Mikoto’s complaints and began to take her next action.

But then…

Some giant mass suddenly charged at Shokuhou from the side. She reflexively pointed her remote control at it, but then she froze in place.

This was not a human, so her powers as the #5 would be of no use.

A large cat that was either a leopard or a jaguar slammed into Shokuhou Misaki and knocked her to the ground. She (or rather, the brainwashed students standing around her) frantically grabbed at the legs of the carnivorous beast, but it was too powerful. At this rate, it would tear out her throat.

“Help me, Misaka-saaan!!”

“I will, I will. But how about we let it eat a bit of you first!? You’ve got a bit of extra fat on the chest you wouldn’t miss!!”

Instead of relying on that cold-hearted school friend, she controlled an ice esper and attacked the side of the beast. Once she pushed the unconscious creature off of her and stood up, her expression was one of annoyance.

Several other beasts were staring at her.

The animals should have been inside their night habitats, but it seemed someone had released them.

(C’mon, really? I suppose these are heroes rather than simple villains.)

Shokuhou Misaki brushed off the dirt on her uniform and used her remote to change the formation of her “troops”.

(The more unfavorable the circumstances, the more unexpected the method they find to counterattack. …With a characteristic like that, this is definitely no laughing matter.)

Unbeknownst to her, this sort of situation had a precedent.

Kamijou Touma had once defeated the #1.

Hamazura Shiage had once defeated the #4.

It had already been proven that a Level 5 could be defeated by a Level 0.

Part 9[edit]

Kamijou Touma, Kakine Teitoku, and Rensa.

The first two to clash were the ones with wings.

In other words, Kakine and Rensa clashed at supersonic speeds.

A great roar exploded out after a short delay. The dinosaur skeleton collapsed in an instant and the tempered glass display boxes located here and there shattered. Fremea panicked and balled up her body.

The #2 must have taken some measures with his Dark Matter because he did not hesitate to attack Rensa even though she had the #1’s reflection.

And yet Rensa was the one laughing.

“Hee hee hee☆ Unlike the previous Rensa, I’m not afraid to enter the realm where my senses can’t keep up. You could say I’m the calculation type. I’ll trust my life to an untested theory I’ve built up! That’s why I don’t hesitate to get into the higher speeds! That’s just how it’s gotta be with Level 5 powers, after all!!” Rensa was speaking while moving at speeds that were difficult to follow with the eye, so her words sounded somehow distorted and were difficult to understand. “And two against one doesn’t matter. Only one of you can keep up with my speeds. If I just crush the bigger threat first, your greater numbers mean nothing!!”

Kakine and Rensa were either kicking off the walls and ceiling or creating shockwaves whenever they moved because Kamijou could hear repeated solid sounds coming from every direction that sounded similar to impacts.

It was true that a high school boy like Kamijou could not keep up with those speeds.

Even if he swung his fist around at random, he would never even scratch his opponent.

However…

(That isn’t gonna stop me!!)

Kamijou took a decisive step forward. He did not hesitate to charge toward the clash between Kakine and Rensa.

At first glance, this looked like suicide, but both Kakine and Rensa were using esper powers to maintain their tremendous speeds. If Kamijou’s right hand touched them, they would lose that power and suddenly lose their balance.

If he took away Rensa’s speed and Kakine attacked her, she was done for.

His inclusion was not meaningless.

Even if there was no chance his fist would even touch her.

(She has to worry about my fist. Her options will be more limited. That’s enough. Applying direct damage isn’t all there is to a fight!!)

“Tch!!”

He heard Rensa click her tongue.

Kakine did not overlook the ever so slight change to Rensa’s high-speed movements to compensate for the sudden introduction of Kamijou. He flapped one of his giant wings and attacked Rensa as if pushing her toward Kamijou.

Rensa forcefully took the attack as if sacrificing one of her arms.

“Hey.” She then grabbed that wing with her hand. “Guess what, #2? My vector control ability can alter the vectors of anything I touch. And that means…”

“…? Oh, no! Please get out of the way…!!”

“I can manipulate your Dark Matter, you idiot!!”

With a roar, the white wing twisted unnaturally as if it was a sugar sculpture being stretched.

It flew in an irregular and difficult to predict trajectory and mercilessly slammed into Kamijou’s upper body.

“Bh…gh!?”

It felt less like being hit by a blunt weapon and more like being hit by a car. All of the oxygen left his lungs in an instant. He was slammed down to the ground where he rolled backwards until he reached Fremea.

Rensa then attacked from the air once more like a bird of prey.

“Hee hee hee☆ Maybe I should destroy this eyesore of an uncertain element first!!”

“…!!”

Kakine Teitoku cut in between them.

Kamijou could hear repeated sounds of dull impacts. The white wings and tornado wings slammed forcefully into each other again and again. It sounded less like a fistfight and more like an argument between a sewing machine and a machine gun.

“Kyaaah, how cool! But how long can you keep it up? If you let just one strike through, they’ll be turned to mincemeat. C’mon. C’mon. C’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon!!!!!!”

Kamijou forced his half-battered body to stand up.

And he shouted at Kakine’s back.

Cut them loose!!

Realizing what Kamijou meant, Kakine immediately severed his wings from his main body.

Kamijou charged forward.

He swung his right fist toward Rensa’s face from behind the wings still floating in midair.

“Shit!?”

Rensa frantically protected her face with both arms, but then Kakine targeted her lower gut with a new wing he had created.

With a dull sound, Rensa’s slender body was knocked all the way back into one of the shattered display cases.

“Did we do it?” muttered Kakine Teitoku.

Rensa was not moving while she lay half-buried in the rubble.

Kamijou tasted iron, so he used the back of his hand to wipe off his mouth.

“Just defeating her won’t be enough to end this. We need to get away from here just to be safe. Can you turn back into that huge beetle? If so, carry Fremea somewhere far away and-…”

Kamijou trailed off.

He had seen something unpleasant.

“No.” Rensa stood smoothly up from the rubble. “No, no, no. This has yet to even begin. The previous Rensa could never have gone this far, but I’m different. After all, you need to be cornered like this to use it. The previous Rensa was too obsessed with maintaining a safe zone. She fought too logically. She would never take a gamble. And so she never took this much damage.”

“What…?”

“You don’t get it? The ace up the sleeve for Academy City’s #1 always shows itself when he’s truly cornered!!”

With a great roar, jet black wings erupted from her back.

“Sto-…” started Kakine Teitoku.

But before he could continue, his white body was sent flying over Fremea’s head and into the wall. The entire building trembled ominously.

That strike made the previous even match seem like a lie.

It was as if everything else had been nothing but preparations for this one strike.

Rensa snapped her fingers, pointed toward Kakine’s crushed form, and whistled.

“I was completely right! You’ve gotta stick with the strongest!! Nothing beats close range!! Why even bother thinking about the others!? There’s a reason this power is ranked at #1 when yours is only at #2. Eh? Oh? I think there was an unconfirmed sighting of him using white wings in Russia…but I don’t know how to use those. Maybe the conditions are a bit different. Well, it doesn’t really matter!! Hee hee hee☆”

“Damn you…!!” shouted Kamijou in anger, but Rensa ignored him and swung a black wing horizontally.

That strike seemed to chop through space itself, so it should have transformed that boy’s body into a bunch of mangled flesh.

However…

“…?”

Rensa stopped laughing.

With a high-pitched sound, the black wing’s trajectory jumped upwards.

Kamijou had knocked it upwards with his right fist.

Rensa looked confused and swung a black wing once more.

She repeated the attack three, four, and even five times, but Kamijou Touma would not die.

He just barely managed to survive.

“Ha ha! Hee hee hee☆ What the hell!? I just brought out my ultimate weapon and you lost your greatest fighter in Kakine. So why are you so much livelier now that everything’s turned so hopeless for you!? It just doesn’t add up!!”

“Don’t ask me!!”

“So you don’t understand it either? Does the increased danger act as a trigger like with me? No, that ain’t it. Oh, do you just have an easier time reading the situation when it’s a simple case of one against one? Hee hee hee☆ Are you the type that has trouble in fights involving multiple people?

“So what if I am…!?”

“It means I can do something about it, you idiot.”

Suddenly, Kamijou’s reaction slowed when the next black wing was swung toward him. If Kakine Teitoku had not gathered all of his strength and knocked Kamijou out of the way, Kamijou’s entire body would have been smashed to pieces.

Fremea let out a shrill scream. Kamijou looked over at Kakine who had been slammed against the ground in his place and then looked back toward Rensa in shock.

She must have altered some setting because her cyborg face had completely lost any expression whatsoever. The rhythm of her blinking and breathing were mechanically given a set interval as if she was timing them with a clock.

When she spoke, her words came at a uniform speed like a translation device.

“Your precognition can be prevented by restricting the information you can take in. I’m a cyborg, remember? We don’t even have to get into electrophysiology to know that humans can’t stop slight muscle movements no matter how hard they try. However, I control everything with machines, so I can truly freeze my expression. If I wanted to, I could be as still as a statue.”

She had sealed it away.

If he could not make his move before she did, it was impossible for him to defend against Rensa’s supersonic attacks.

“Go to sleep, hero. In fact, did you really think you were a hero? Did you think you were a hero who could save every single person you came across? If so, you were dead wrong. The path to a flawless victory has already closed.

As she spoke, Rensa brought her hands behind her and stuck them into her long hair.

She pulled out a clear cylindrical container about as thick as a little finger. It contained a reddish, flabby object. Rensa flicked the container and it rolled to Kamijou’s feet.

At first, he could not grasp what it was.

But then Rensa spoke.

“You don’t get it? That’s #028. That’s the previous Rensa. To get technical, it’s a human hypothalamus that was chopped out and repackaged. You could say it’s the smallest unit of life. Not even Academy City’s tech could mechanize this part. Of course, that could change at any time.”

“You can’t mean…”

Kamijou was at a loss for words. Fremea screamed and Rensa seemed to enjoy hearing it.

“It began with that failed project using the #3. A clone had the exact same physical body yet at the same time functioned as a distinct human being. It seems one of the great mysteries of life is the fact that life forms gain the role of the master when they are created. That gets in the way of acting as a pure slave in order to become an output point for esper powers.”

And so they had shaved away pieces of the human body until that “mystery of life” was gone.

She was not just a human and not just a machine.

They had wanted a seemingly contradictory technique that would fully recreate a human without using any biological methods.

It should have ended in failure, but someone somewhere had forced it into reality.

And to do so they had created industrial goods by tearing away people’s humanity.

Even most of their brains had been taken away and replaced with precision equipment, so it was hard to say if they were still human or even living creatures at all.

“When you heard me talk about the previous Rensa, did you think there were maybe three or four different bodies? That’s not how it works. This is the one body. It can be a bit difficult to handle, so only a very limited number of people can use it. And unlike those ultra cheap clones, the manufacturing costs are just too high. Even that doctor from the board of directors could only afford one. Hee hee hee☆ Production of this one body took up a huge chunk of the total assets of Academy City and the maintenance costs force that VIP doctor to make deals directly with the underside of the city. I hope you can see how much she put into this. It isn’t surprising that those Five Overs based on powered suits just can’t compare when it comes to acting as a high level esper countermeasure!!”

They must have decided it was worth the price.

This was a cyborg with the direct combat ability to perhaps defeat all seven Level 5s if one angered them or made an enemy of them. Those adults were running several projects that made them feel guilty but produced such massive benefits to be worth it, so they viewed the children of Academy City as a threat because their minds were still developing and they acted based on emotions rather than what benefited themselves.

And so they had wanted an overwhelming power that allowed them to rest easy.

It was the same as how the higher ups of the city had once tried to accomplish a single goal by producing a great number of clones and convincing the #1 to kill them.

“Do you get it now? We don’t want individuality. Unlike the standard sort of esper, anyone can use Rensa with the same specs as long as they meet the proper conditions.”

The city’s darkness still viewed human lives much too lightly.

“When one brain can’t be used anymore, it’s switched out for a new one. That way the one of a kind firepower known as Rensa can always be in use. For Rensa, the brain is not much different from an arm or a battery.”

Was she still alive?

Was she already dead?

“It seems #028 is still functioning, but she wouldn’t have switched out with me during the repairs if she was perfectly fine. Well, those that can’t be used anymore get used as calculation guidance parts for the Sniper Bee, so it isn’t like they’re just thrown away.”

This life had been cut away to such an extent that even that simple distinction could not be made. If the numbering was accurate, at least 27 other people had had their brains cut apart, had been built into this system, and had been used up.

“Why…would you…? Did someone above you make you do this…?”

“You could say that. But don’t think of me as some poor victim. If I hadn’t chosen this path, I would definitely have met some much worse fate. I volunteered for this to open up a new future for myself. …There are people in this world who live such tragic lives that something like this looks like their final hope. Hee hee hee☆”

What had she been originally?

What past would have left her convinced this life in a test tube was a happy future?

Kamijou could not even imagine.

He tried, but his thoughts simply could not make it that far.

“That’s fine,” said Rensa…no, #029 with a derisive laugh. However, she gave a somehow envious look to Kamijou and Fremea behind him. “This is what you get with a happy hero who lives a happy life and protects other happy lives. People who have actually been soaked in the darkness can’t save anyone even if they win. That’s why it’s perfect for that sort of hero to be ignorant of how the world actually works. I don’t know what life you’ve lived up until now, but I’d say you’ve had a pretty easy time of it since you have all of your limbs and internal organs intact. …You may be able to save people, but you can’t win this. The path you’ve walked is just too different from the one I’ve walked.”

There was no weight in the actual words spoken.

However, the meaning carried an intense pressure as this was something that must never be spoken.

And this pressure was enough to violently crush the heart of someone who had lived a normal life.

“Do you get it now? There was never any way of achieving a flawless victory here. Agitate Halation produced sacrifices before it even began. Both in the earlier preparations and today. How much destruction do you think those heroes spread while they were on their way here?” said Rensa...or rather, whoever was controlling that body. “This won’t end in one of those idealistic scenarios you love so much. Saving one or two people now doesn’t make up for it all. …There’s no point in saving every little person. No matter how much you grit your teeth and protect this Fremea brat, it won’t change the fact that you didn’t protect those others.”

“…”

Those words were meant to knock back Kamijou, but they may have also been the central pillar supporting this person who was being called Rensa.

It was too late. There was no going back.

And so there was no point in aiming for an ideal. It did not matter if you abandoned the life before your eyes.

However, doing that would only make the already heaping pile of bodies grow larger. What Rensa was saying was ridiculous, but it may have held some truth. No matter how many excuses he tried to make, there had been lives Kamijou Touma had not saved. No matter what he did, he could not change that fact.

There was no point in trying to deny it.

Rensa was asking if he could still hold his view of the situation after accepting that.

But…

“To hell with that. That’s no reason to stop trying.”

He said it.

He declared it.

Even if there was no way to bring this to the ideal ending and even if he could see no way of defeating the powerful enemy before him…

Kamijou saw no reason to give up.

“If you stop trying just because you couldn’t save someone, you lose any small possibilities that may remain. There is no such thing as a perfect hero, so if we don’t all bring together what little power we have, we can never protect anyone!”

“You’re contradicting yourself. Did you realize that?”

“Even if I am, that’s something for me to deal with.”

Kamijou clenched his fist anew.

He stood as a shield to protect Fremea who was in the most danger here.

“That isn’t something I should be forcing onto the people who need rescuing. I just have to deal with any lies, contradictions, or mistakes myself! I’m not saving people to check whether I chose the right answer!!

“Hee hee hee☆ Fine then.” Rensa laughed, licked her lips, and took a step forward. “That was my attempt to ‘save’ you, but if you want to keep going, I don’t mind. It just means one more body. You can add a bit more color next to Fremea Seivelun.”

Those black wings that symbolized death drew closer.

Part 10[edit]

She did not understand what was happening.

She could not imagine what had caused it all to turn out like this.

As Fremea Seivelun sat in a daze, her instincts led her to the answer.

She realized this had happened because she had wished for it.

She used people. She made them do what she wanted. …At some point, she had vaguely realized it was all too convenient. When the Freshmen had abducted her, Hamazura had come to save her with no thought for his own life. And there had been when so many people gathered around Fräulein Kreutune. She had been happy with the end result and had not felt any reason to question it at the time…but it had definitely been twisted and completely wrong. And it was always someone other than Fremea who paid the price in blood.

When she wished for it, someone would act.

Her world was created by trampling someone else underfoot.

“Why…?”

Why had no one told her?

Why had no one accused her of doing evil?

If they had…

Fremea Seivelun might have kept her mouth shut and not asked anyone for help.

“No…” muttered Kakine Teitoku from where he lay half-crushed on the floor with most of his human form lost. “That is not something you need to worry about… I was only doing what I wanted to do. And he…is likely the same. So…”

Did that make it okay for Kakine Teitoku to be defeated in Fremea’s stead?

Did that make it okay for that boy still standing in Rensa’s way to be killed?

…Of course not.

Fremea used the back of her hand to wipe away the tears that were even now about to overflow. She looked forward once more. She saw more than just Rensa there. She faced the great world that wished to harm her.

She did not want to just sit there and be killed.

But having someone else hurt in her place was even worse.

And so…

“…Nyah. I’m not going to just hope a hero will appear anymore,” she said.

She slowly stood up.

Even if it was impossible and even if it was reckless, she gathered all her strength and announced what she truly wanted to do.

“This time, I will be the one to protect everyone!!”

Part 11[edit]

Yakumi Hisako had “deepened” her existence as an AIM thought being by using the theory of a shading computer on the AIM diffusion fields. At the moment, she was watching the battle between Rensa and the others from nearby.

No matter what happened, Rensa’s advantage could not be overcome.

In just a few seconds, Rensa would eliminate every obstacle in her way and kill Fremea Seivelun.

(Heh. Eh heh heh.)

Yakumi Hisako had thought she would witness something new if she created the ultimate esper.

Yakumi Hisako had thought she would witness something new if she bound together the seven Level 5s.

But those plans had not met their full potential and had not lived up to her expectations. That was why she had decided to come this far. She had no idea what she could see that would satisfy her. She had no set value for what height she needed to reach. However, she continued to believe that she would naturally know when she witnessed something truly unimaginable.

(I can feel it. I can feel the final linchpin holding me to this world! If that is destroyed, I will witness something new!! This will surely be something that cannot be described simply in the framework of science! The ultimate joy that will break me to pieces is surely waiting for me!!)

With a medical specialist, one might have thought she sought eternal life or eternal youth, but Yakumi was not interested in such things. Living forever without aging was nothing but sacrilege. What mattered was the instant. She viewed the value of a life in its “high score”. What mattered was the greatest moment in that life.

(Now, Rensa-chan. Do it now, Rensa-chan! Kill Fremea Seivelun for me. I will likely be destroyed when I see what awaits me, but in that single instant I will set an extraordinary and unprecedented record!!)

And…

Yakumi Hisako suddenly realized something. She was not sure why she had realized it, but she had nonetheless.

Fremea Seivelun had raised her head and was looking Yakumi directly in the eye.

It seemed like a normal thing…but it was not. As an AIM thought being, Yakumi could not be seen by human eyes. Fremea could easily look in Yakumi’s direction, but she should not have been able to see her. Nevertheless, she was staring directly at the woman.

(What? What is this slippery feeling? This is the same feeling as when my previous plans did not meet their full potential. But nothing here could possibly lead to my failure! Once Rensa-chan kills Fremea, the final linchpin, I will no longer be restricted to Academy City. I will be able to fly out into the entire world. Nothing can change that now!!)

And then she heard a voice.

It said, “…Nyah. I’m not going to just hope a hero will appear anymore.”

(Wait.)

Yakumi’s thoughts had been wrapped in an inhuman exhilaration, but now an unrefined and raw anxiety filled her.

This final linchpin was holding Yakumi Hisako back. It was keeping her “human”.

NT Index v07 394-395.png

(The pillar supporting the entire Agitate Halation project was that Fremea Seivelun was the representative of the weak who needed protection. If she becomes something other than a protection target now…!! Wait! This can’t be happening…!!)

“This time, I will be the one to protect everyone!!”

A sound similar to shattering glass exploded out.

In that instant, Yakumi Hisako and Fremea Seivelun were in “the same place”.

Had Yakumi returned or had Fremea joined her?

(Honestly, I may have been the one to design her, but who would have thought she would function so perfectly as a final linchpin?)

“But neither of us has any direct power. We can only wait for the result!! And it is as plain as day what will happen here. You will be killed and I will be released from this city! No one can change that now!!”

“Nyah. That isn’t true,” decisively denied Fremea Seivelun. “It may be incredibly small, it may be almost entirely useless, and you may call us Level “0”, but our power is not zero!! It is not true at all that there is nothing we can do!!”

Those words filled Yakumi with an incomparable sense of disgust. A grimace appeared on her face as an unpleasant feeling raced down her spine.

And then she realized something.

(What…is this? My face? My spine? I abandoned everything, so why do I have such normal things!? It’s… It’s almost as if…)

It was almost as if Fremea Seivelun was controlling everything.

Could a mere Level 0 control the entirety of the AIM diffusion fields?

No.

However…

(The shading computer uses every movement of the target fluid to perform its calculations. In that case, even the smallest power producing the AIM diffusion fields creating me has a connection!!)

Even a Level 0 caused changes on the microscopic level.

Their powers were referred to as “zero” because they were of no use in normal life, but it was not technically true to say they could do nothing.

And in that case…

(Even the smallest unit of information making up the shading computer can influence a giant AIM thought being inside the computer!? Shit. All she needed was to realize it. And I gave her that realization by soaking her too deeply in Agitate Halation!!)

A staticky pain raced across Yakumi Hisako’s consciousness. She grimaced and then felt something vaguely floating up deep in her mind.

“Doctor…”

She could see a hospital room.

The white room was filled with machinery gathered around a single bed for a young child.

“Doctor…”

She did not know who it was.

She could not see the child’s face. The child’s entire body was wrapped in bandages without even any holes for the eyes. Something dark red was seeping into the bandages from within. A breathing tube was sticking between the bandages at the mouth and it sounded as if each word was spoken with great pain.

However…

Despite the child’s eyes and mouth being covered, Yakumi Hisako could still clearly tell that this child was smiling. That smile was pure and innocent. It held everything that Yakumi lacked.

“Doctor, are humans really as noble as you say they are…?”

Yakumi Hisako heard a slapping sound.

It was the sound of her hand being forcefully brought up to her face.

(I’ve never seen this before. I’ve never seen this scene before! Is Fremea Seivelun… Is the final linchpin using the gathered AIM diffusion fields to randomly send someone’s memories into my head!? The data itself has no meaning. Is she trying to crush me by overwriting pieces of my mind again and again until my original mind is unrecoverable!?)

The static continued to amplify.

She was no longer able to tell what information in her head was actually her own.

“It’s…kay.”

“The human body…occasionally…dern medicine………heal itself………….”

“You wi………tainly………better. I prom………okay?”

(I…! I am not that simple kind of tragic villain! But at this rate, I cannot recover. I will be crushed by this massive amount of data!!)

“Wait!!” frantically shouted Yakumi Hisako. She felt intense humiliation over the fact that she had fallen far enough to feel frantic about anything. “You do not understand the true scope of this project. The violent side is no more than one small portion of it. If you could see the ultimate goal, surely even you would-…!!”

“I don’t need to understand,” spat out Fremea. Like a great hero cutting down the symbol of evil, she spoke without hesitation. “I have no interest whatsoever in your project! I just want me, Hamazura, the rhinoceros beetle, and everyone else to have their smiles back!!”

Part 12[edit]

A ridiculous snapping sound rang out.

It came from within the female cyborg named Rensa as she licked her lips.

“Oh?”

She stopped moving.

The black wings erupting from her back dissipated in an instant.

“What!? Wait a second. I don’t remember calling in a ridiculous power like this!!”

Her stomach swelled up horribly large like a lithium battery that was continually overcharged.

When Rensa (#028) had tried to use Kamijou Touma’s power, she had failed to control the power she could not understand and her arm had exploded.

When it came down to it, this was the same.

However, this time Fremea Seivelun had thrown the existence known as Yakumi Hisako into Rensa.

“Abh…gbh… Wait…what is…gagh!! Ghh!!”

“Heh…Eh heh heh. Gjh…This…this is how it ends for me…? Heh heh heh heh heh!!”

Two voices came from the one body.

And as they spoke, Rensa’s body continued to swell. Her chest, her face, her arms, and her legs swelled. As each point swelled further and further, she began looking less and less human.

While lying on the floor and gradually regaining his own human form, Kakine Teitoku calmly spoke to the boy who could still fight.

“End this…now.”

“I will.”

Kamijou clenched his right fist even tighter than before.

He walked toward Rensa as she continued to change.

Rensa rolled her warped eyeballs to glare at Kamijou.

“Hee hee hee☆ What the hell? What the hell!? You’re going to kill me? Your ideals are full of contradictions and there’s nothing right about them!!”

“…”

Kamijou Touma’s right fist contained a power known as Imagine Breaker. It would eliminate any supernatural power, be it magic or psychic in nature, the instant he touched it.

It would only take a single fingertip to erase this “abnormality” that had entered the cyborg named Rensa.

That would be the most efficient way of saving #029 who was having an intense burden placed on her body.

However…

“What do you want me to do?”

“Ha ha! Ha ha ha!! Don’t make me laugh. Weren’t you listening? I wanted this. Yakumi Hisako of the board of directors is my savior for turning me into this! You want me to hand her over? You want me to let go of her? I’ll never do that. That is one of the few things in this world I would rather die than do!!”

That was not unexpected.

If she was willing to go along with this cruel project, she had to have some reason for doing so. Even if Kamijou was not aware of any of it, she had a life that she had lived up to this point.

“Say there are 10 people caught in a crisis. Only 9 can be saved. If nine of them abandon the one and evacuate, it is not considered a crime according to the plank of Carneades. When I was put in that situation, the only options I could think of were to kill someone or to offer myself up as a sacrifice. However, she showed me that there is a third option! Even if I ended up like this and even if those 10 people who were more important than the world to each other are now only nine, no one had to die! …And this did not just save me or whoever I would have killed. Everyone there was saved from the great pressure of having to kill someone to survive!! And that is why I have nothing but thanks even if I had to take such a cruel path!!”

“…”

“And this wasn’t just me! It wasn’t just #029! I haven’t heard anything from the others, but all of us have our reasons for willingly obeying that woman as we run through the darkness. I won’t let you…I won’t let someone who showed up much too late take that away from us! To us, Yakumi Hisako, the woman writhing around within this body, is the greatest hero in the world!!”

He understood that.

Kamijou Touma alone could not save every single person in the world who was seeking help. And as long as life continued on, there would definitely be someone saving people he did not know using methods he was not aware of in places he had never been.

And of course, there would be people who adored those heroes.

“I won’t let you have her… That is the one thing that-…gggbbhg!!”

Rensa’s cyborg body continued to swell up. Her beautiful feminine silhouette was completely gone and some kind of fiber was sticking out. It looked like someone had stuffed a firecracker inside a straw doll and detonated it.

“Then…” said Kamijou through clenched teeth. His voice quickly grew to a shout he could not hold back. “Then why didn’t you go save Yakumi Hisako earlier!?”

“…!!”

“If you wait around for a hero, they won’t always make it in time. That’s just a fact of life. But what if you had done everything you could until they could arrive!? What if you had desperately fought until they could!? You might have been able to change the outcome!!”

Before this happened.

Before she became an AIM thought being.

Back when she was a proper human being.

Long ago.

“How can you say that?” said Rensa as her face cracked and grew more warped from the inside. “That isn’t something I can do! That’s something only you can do! So don’t force it onto me!! And I’m not talking about how many chances I had to control this body or that I was only a small core in a test tube. I’m saying that someone like me can’t play the role of a hero!”

Kamijou did not say “you can”.

He shook his head and gave a different reply.

“You already are. You’re doing a wonderful job right now.”

“Shut up,” cut in Rensa. That cyborg moved her red eyes that had been damaged on the inside and stared at her enemy. “I can never be a clichéd hero like you! I’m just a filthy tool. That is the only way for me to repay her for what she did for me!!”

Who was protecting who?

Who was killing who?

Anyone could tell something as simple as that without an explanation. Kamijou Touma tightly clenched his right fist and made an announcement.

“Let’s go, hero.”

“Shut up…”

“I can no longer do anything but destroy. This hand can only destroy your illusions!! So now it’s your turn to make it in time!!”

“Shut uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp!!”

Wings shot forcefully from Rensa’s back even as it collapsed.

However, these were not jet black.

They were white.

This was the ultimate power Academy City’s #1 had once risen to when he had gained a certain something. Rensa had...no, #029 had finally made it that far.

Kamijou Touma had no plan.

He took a step.

And then another.

He advanced directly toward his enemy.

(Saving #029 is simple. I just need to drive Yakumi Hisako out of her body. But I can’t hold back with my right hand’s power. If I end this, I will be killing someone to save someone.)

The fact that this person had no physical body did not absolve him.

For example, there was Kazakiri Hyouka who was an aggregation of AIM diffusion fields.

For example, there was Fräulein Kreutune whose body was fundamentally different from a normal human’s.

For example, there was Misaka Imouto who could be mass produced as much as was needed.

He had saved abnormal people by treating them as human. And that was why Kamijou of all people could not so easily abandon this woman. The path he had walked to reach this point would not allow it.

“Ah…ogh…Ahghh…”

As if in response, Rensa walked unsteadily forward with those pure white wings still growing from her back.

The internal damage had advanced to the point that she could not even stand up straight anymore and she was not even aware she was staggering, but she still faced Kamijou.

(But…)

Their gazes collided in midair.

A strange power seemed to fill both their bodies.

(I know something now. No matter how much you might resent me for it, and no matter how much of a contradiction it is, there is someone standing before me who I can save like this!!)

“You can’t stop me,” spat out Kamijou Touma. “I will save you.

“Bgh....ghh… Stop…joking around… That’s…the wrong person!!”

Their clash lasted for only an instant.

Rensa used her cyborg body to charge up to Kamijou at supersonic speeds. She swung the white wings on her back to the right and left simultaneously. That boy should not have been able to do anything. The speed was one problem, but she had also changed her settings to eliminate all slight changes to her expression and the surface of her body. In other words, Kamijou could not use the precognition he had gained via experience.

However…

Kamijou Touma’s body sank down as if they had arranged it ahead of time.

Rensa was moving at such tremendous speed that he could never have made it in time if he had started moving after seeing what she was doing. Yet the boy accurately waited for Rensa as if he had foreseen her exact actions.

As the destruction continued within Rensa’s body, even #029 had started to lose control.

Even if she had cut off all facial expressions, a slight trembling had returned.

“No…!!”

(So…)

Kamijou Touma clenched his fist.

He clenched it so tight blood oozed out.

Instead of using his right hand on the white wings being swung down from the right and left, he evaded them by swinging his upper body out of the way. He then used all his strength to throw his fist at the center of Rensa’s face as they glared at each other from extreme close range.

(So think for yourself!! Think up a way of saving the person you want to protect most!!)

His fist flew.

A look of surprise appeared on Rensa’s cyborg face.

And…


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