Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume8 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Disaster in the Depths of Fertility. Goddess_of_Fertility.
The unrest and tension had spread even to Kanzaki Kaori, Vasilisa, and Sasha Kreutzev, the skilled magicians acting as bodyguards beyond the thick glass.
“Did you read what they were saying inside?”
“More or less.” Vasilisa gave a simple shrug and a thin smile as she watched the movements of their lips. “It looks like things have gotten a bit crazy. Their base is right in front of Academy City in Tokyo Bay.”
“This makes me feel like being here as a bodyguard was part of Gremlin’s manipulation as well. Some powerful people had to be sent to protect the VIPs, so they could remove us from the front lines by having an unofficial international conference held.”
“We still don’t know anything and you’re already worrying about everything and doubting everyone? You Anglicans are surprisingly weak to information warfare. Thinking about all that won’t help. What matters in an emergency is to do everything as you always would. It’s better than panicking and falling into confusion.”
Having said that, Vasilisa pulled something from her hair.
It was a small charm made of parchment.
“Okay, did you hear that, everyone? Crush every member of Gremlin hiding in Russia. That should allow the normal military to head to Japan. Protect our precious citizens. You can handle this if we keep things simple, right?”
“Are you sending out soldiers while ignoring the chain of command!?”
Kanzaki’s eyes opened wide in shock.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church was doing everything he could to control the situation beyond the glass. For better or for worse, not many people would be willing to act without his permission while in front of him like that.
But Vasilisa showed no concern.
“His biggest selling point is his purity. I don’t have to tell him about all the dirty jobs behind the scenes.”
Sasha, who wore binding clothes all over her body, lightly stroked the crowbar at her waist.
“You do have to. A question: do you really think I, a fellow member of the Russian Orthodox Church, will overlook a traitor?”
“Yes, yes. And my answer is the same as always: the results will prove who is-…gbh!?”
Vasilisa was cut off because Sasha unhesitatingly gave the crowbar a full swing toward her head. With a tremendous noise, Vasilisa’s upper body bent sideways at a right angle at about the waist. However, she recovered like a metronome and she never stopped smiling.
Even afterwards, Vasilisa continued smiling as if nothing had happened.
“Anyway, everyone go all out to crush Gremlin’s diversion team! Teach them that we’re the only magicians allowed to use the name of a fairy!!”
“You perverts,” muttered Kanzaki.
“A question: could you at least refer to me as a monster instead?” protested Sasha.
Kamijou Touma lay on the top of the train’s roof as it rushed through the subway tunnel. He slowly stood up as the car unsteadily shook back and forth.
The train was made up of five different cars.
It was not even 100 meters long.
As Kamijou clenched his right fist, the woman named Freyja who wore a maternity dress took two or three slow steps backwards. However, a smile could be seen on her face thanks to the slight illumination from the fluorescent lights that seemed to flow in the opposite direction of the train.
She was not running away.
She was not being forced back.
Most likely, that was the ideal distance for Freyja. She was preparing to attack. And once she had finished, the girl slowly swung her palm.
“Come forth, Brísingamen.”
Kamijou heard the sound of a hard object striking something.
At some point, a glowing jewel had appeared between her fingers.
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Svaðilfari.”
Something occurred immediately afterwards.
As a single jewel shot into the air with a roar, what looked like red thread appeared and wrapped around it. That torrent of thread looked like a red tornado and it quickly compressed and tightened until it was solid. In the blink of an eye, it then twisted into the form of a giant red horse. It was a mass of kinetic energy made entirely out of powerful artificial muscles.
With a glittering jewel on its forehead, the giant horse gave a tremendous neigh and charged toward Kamijou.
Depending on the breed, even normal horses could weigh 400-500 kilograms. This horse was two or three sizes larger than that and it showed no concern over its head scraping against the tunnel ceiling that shot by at such high speed. If that thing struck a flesh-and-blood human, the human could easily be smashed to pieces.
However, Kamijou Touma’s right hand held a power called Imagine Breaker.
The strength of his opponent did not matter. All that mattered was that his opponent was supported by the supernatural power known as magic. He could then smash them to pieces with a single fist no matter who or what they were.
Kamijou stepped forward while desperately suppressing the desire to surrender to this giant horse that was even destroying the fluorescent lights on the tunnel roof as it advanced. He slammed his fist against the chest of the horse that looked more frightening than the bumper of a large truck.
The aggregation of tightened red thread burst like a balloon and disappeared into thin air.
Kamijou’s weapon was his fist, so he had to approach Freyja who was backing away.
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Muninn.”
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Huginn.”
In the time it took Kamijou to destroy the giant horse, Freyja had already thrown two new jewels into the air. Red thread appeared from somewhere and wrapped around them. They transformed into two giant birds that charged at Kamijou from the right and left.
Kamijou had already grasped the overall situation.
But even so, he could not find an effective way out of it.
Freyja could produce monsters faster than Kamijou could destroy them. In the time it took him to defeat one, she would produce two. In the time it took him to smash two, she would bring forth four. In the time it took him to destroy four, she would create thirteen. Her mass production would continue on and on.
Freyja only needed to use the slight time she built up to repeat the same simple task over and over again.
It was similar to the summoners in RPGs, but Freyja had no more attachment to the monsters she used than to a projectile in a barrage.
Being on top of a train also helped her because Kamijou could not work his way around the monsters.
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Ratatoskr.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Hrungnir.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Hymir.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Svaðilfari.”
(My right hand isn’t enough. I’m going to be pushed back by this barrage!)
Three large, dark red men stood before him. Another giant horse stood with them. And a mass of muscles that looked like a squirrel chased after the others, causing them to charge in a frenzy toward Kamijou. It was not much different from having the quickly-rotating blades of a lawnmower or shield machine approaching him. They mowed down and cut down everything in their path as they advanced.
If Kamijou did not stop them, he would be smashed to pieces.
If he did stop them, twice as many monsters would rush at him.
Freyja’s incantations would continue as long as it took to exceed Kamijou’s ability to handle them.
It would continue until the overwhelming violence produced by those masses of muscle crushed that boy’s skeleton.
The sound of something soft being squished reverberated loudly throughout the tunnel.
As it did, the fertility goddess Freyja let out a whistle.
She bent over and laughed while showing no concern for the large stomach pushing out her maternity dress.
“Ah ha ha!! Amazing. Simply amazing. I never thought you would crush my surefire method like that!”
Kamijou’s choice had been simple in concept.
He did not have time to crush each individual monster with Imagine Breaker, so he had given up on defeating all of them.
He had first stomped his foot down on the small squirrel-like animal driving the other monsters into a frenzy.
He then drove his right fist into one of the large men approaching, causing him to burst apart.
The other large men and the large horse had been packed in closely as they rushed forward, so they recoiled from the impact of the man exploding. During that time, Kamijou had slammed his full body weight into one of them with his shoulder. Normally, that giant body would not have budged, but it toppled because it was already off balance.
The rest fell like dominos.
The monsters fell from the quickly moving train and struck the ground rushing by down below.
That impact may not have been enough to destroy them, but it did not matter as long as they could not catch up.
Kamijou ran down the path created between him and Freyja.
Freyja responded by throwing a jewel.
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr…Uh, oh.”
The pregnant woman with short, wavy hair bent her back and crouched down. Kamijou frowned slightly at that action that put pressure on her large belly, but then…
The large man “given birth to” by Freyja collapsed as if his head had been struck by a hammer. Seeing that, Kamijou finally caught on.
(The tunnel ceiling just got a lot lower!!)
He crouched down as quickly as he could.
The top half of the large man’s head had been crushed, he lost his balance, and he fell off the train and onto the ground.
Freyja giggled while still bent over.
Despite the darkness, she somehow had an accurate grasp of how high up the ceiling was. She straightened her back once more and scattered a large number of jewels.
(I won’t let her recover here!!)
Kamijou sprang up from his crouching position and ran forward.
Meanwhile, Freyja repeated the same incantation.
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr.”
She sent forth a barrage that seemed to nullify all of Kamijou’s efforts thus far.
Multiple large men appeared.
However, the variation from before was gone. That may have shown she did not have the leeway for creativity now that Kamijou had approached.
And when the exact same type of monster charged down a limited route with the exact same movement pattern, Kamijou had a much easier time dealing with them. They did not fly around like birds and ignore the footing. They did not crawl along the walls of the train like snakes and circle around behind him. If they all charged at him at once, he would have an easier time of causing another domino effect.
And if he could break through that wall…
“I can reach her.”
Kamijou tightly clenched his right first.
He charged toward the large men himself.
“I will reach you, Freyja!!”
However, Freyja grinned in her maternity dress and flicked a single jewel up with her thumb.
She gave the incantation.
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Hildisvíni.”
As she spoke, dark red thread produced a boar behind the men and closer to Freyja. Kamijou was cautious, but it was smaller than the men. And more importantly, the men filled up so much of the limited space on the train that the boar would not be able to move properly. Once he began the domino effect, the boar would be struck by the other monsters before it could reach him. If it fell to the ground, that was the end of it. But even if it remained on the roof, he could destroy it with Imagine Breaker while it could not move. Either way, it would not be much of an obstacle.
Or so he thought.
It turned out he was wrong.
Freyja pointed her index finger forwards and made an announcement.
Kamijou heard an unpleasant sound similar to something wet bursting.
The boar at the back mercilessly bit into one of the large men that had his back turned to it. A crunching chewing sound followed. The aggregation of dark red thread wrapped around the boar and the boar even took in the jewel. The boar’s silhouette grew by one size.
“Cost 2. White. Shift / / Hildisvíni.”
Kamijou could instinctually tell this was bad.
He could not let that boar continue to eat those men. He had a feeling the situation would change in some definitive way if it got any larger. He had to eliminate the boar’s food before that happened!
“Cost 3. White. Shift / / Hildisvíni!”
“Cost 4. White. Shift / / Hildisvíni!!”
“Cost 5. White. Shift / / Hildisvíni!!!!!!”
But he was too late.
He had miscalculated. Each time the boar known as Hildisvíni grew, its mouth and stomach grew, so the time needed to swallow one of the men lowered. By the time Kamijou tried to defeat one of the giants, all of the “food” was already within the boar’s stomach.
“Norse mythology is a mythology of mutual destruction. It was set up from the beginning so over 99% of the gods and their enemies would die while fighting each other. By constructing a spell that accentuates that fact, I can create an attack that allows good and evil, white and black to devour each other!”
The boar had grown so large that it almost crushed the train car below it. It seemed to fill the entire half circle space of the tunnel. Its body was constantly scraping against the walls rushing by at high speed, but it did not seem to be taking damage. In fact, the tunnel was noticeably being destroyed.
Kamijou naturally thrust his right hand forward.
(The number of enemies has decreased. This is my chance! If I can defeat any monster in a single strike, the strength of that monster doesn’t matter. I just have to blow away this boar with my right hand and charge for Freyja!!)
“Ah ha ha!!” laughed Freyja. Not even the top of her hair was visible from behind the giant boar. “Are you forcibly trying to motivate yourself? That isn’t gonna work. After all, this is the child I, fertility goddess Freyja, have given birth to. Now that it’s grown up to Cost 5, your mental state isn’t going to change anything.”
“Child…?” muttered Kamijou as he felt a great tension from that special phrasing.
One big reason behind his question came from his desire to look away from the very real danger before him.
But Freyja continued speaking.
“Yes. I am not calling these children in from some other place. I am creating them myself. I guide my magic power through the womb to give it a specific directionality of germination, I pour that magic power into a Brísingamen jewel, and I create a completely different design using that jewel as the core☆”
Kamijou then heard a sound similar to rustling silk.
Freyja may have been rubbing at her stomach.
Kamijou may have been able to guess that, but the words she spoke next exceeded anything he had imagined.
“But I suppose this child is the same. Ah ha ha! My own magical sense is hopelessly lacking. I had no choice but to borrow this child’s brain and body to use magic.”
“After being trapped in here for two full years, not even I really know what’s going on in here. Ah ha ha. I’m not sure how to say it. Maybe it’s like when a leftover has been sitting in the back of fridge for a looooong time and you’re afraid to check on it.”
“What do you think a human life is!?”
“Or maybe it’s just that thinking about it wouldn’t do any good.”
Just as she said that, the giant boar that filled the entire empty space of the tunnel attacked like an approaching wall.
No matter how powerful the opponent, Kamijou had assumed he could manage as long as he could slam Imagine Breaker into it before it could attack.
In fact, the larger the target, the easier it was to hit. This could even be called a chance to make a comeback. Even as he forced himself to think positively like that, he tried to stop his trembling body.
He had been completely wrong.
As the boar charged, Kamijou’s feet floated up from the train’s roof and he was blown backwards.
When a subway train arrived at the platform, an odd gust of wind blew through the station. The large mass of the train passing through that sealed space pushed the air like a piston.
The giant boar named Hildisvíni did the same.
It had grown so large it filled the entire upper portion of the tunnel and scraped against the concrete tunnel walls. What would happen if that giant form charged straight forward with tremendous speed? Naturally, a mass of air with nowhere to escape would be sent straight into Kamijou.
(You’re kidding… That can happen even on top of a running train!? Does that boar have some strange ability to draw in the air around it!?)
He subconsciously flailed his arms and legs around, but it had little effect in midair.
In midair with no footing, he could not even change the orientation of his body.
Hildisvíni continued charging toward Kamijou at an even greater speed than he flew backwards. If he continued to be pushed by that explosive gust of wind, he would be knocked off the back of the train. If the giant boar touched him, he would be changed into a pile of flesh more gruesome than if he was hit by a train.
Kamijou’s throat grew dry as that giant form approached.
Even as alarm bells rang in his head like sparks from a short, he tried to think up some way out of this.
(Is there no way to overcome this!?)
In London at night, a muscular man with a messy beard groaned at a bar on the outskirts of the city.
He was Misaka Tabigake.
He was Misaka Misuzu’s husband and Misaka Mikoto’s father.
He sat at a table on one end of the dimly-lit bar, opened the kind of unrefined laptop used at public construction sites, and called someone using a satellite phone.
A number of windows were open on the computer, but they all said “transactions suspended” in various languages.
“Hey, hey. I finally get started with that undersea water pipe project connecting the southern tip of Spain to north Africa and everywhere has suspended transactions! How am I supposed to bid for construction contractors now? What’s going on!?”
“Preparations for war, president. Iron, copper, rare earths, and jewels. Instead of making proper deals, the influential people have decided to get rich selling everything valuable until the world passes the boiling point. All the contact points have been closed up and they won’t open again until this crazed excitement is over.”
“Do you have any idea what the self-sufficiency rate for food is!? If both sides stop trading, everyone will dry up before that get rich quick scheme pays off!!”
“Don’t look at me. Honestly, I want to get out of Africa. It’s only thirty kilometers to Europe. You should be grateful I’m making an effort to stay put.”
Despite what the person on the other end of the phone said, he did not seem all that troubled.
That showed just how much experience he had in that continent of hot sand.
“More importantly, Misaka-san, should you really be in London right now? I hear Tokyo, Japan has become a battlefield. What kind of father doesn’t rush off to save his family?”
“I tried every method I could think of. All the airlines have shut down and I can’t use my connection with the RAF. My calls and emails aren’t getting through. I went back to working on this job because nothing worked.”
“It scares me how you mentioned the air force so casually there.”
“I tried getting a civilian space trip, too. You know, one of those things that gets you in space after only thirty seconds of ballistic flight. But that didn’t pan out either. Everyone is in a complete panic over this imaginary war. No matter how much I say I’ll pay with my black card in hand, they say they don’t want to send anything into the air during these unstable circumstances. …Damn. Maybe I should buy a Soviet warplane from the European mafia. My personal funds should be enough for an unarmed long-distance reconnaissance plane.”
“I get it, I get it. You care for your family to a reckless degree! If I wasn’t holding your reins, you’d probably split the planet in half. I get it, so let’s focus on our work.”
Tabigake brought a hand to his forehead when he heard the voice coming from the satellite phone.
He took a long, slow breath and consciously calmed his heart rate.
“Gwaaah!! I can’t stand it! I’m returning to Japan right this instant!! There has to be some way. I know! I could buy an old ballistic missile and climb inside as the payload!!”
“You haven’t calmed down at all!! You wouldn’t survive that even if you wore a spacesuit!”
A single small boat floated under the sun in the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The small boat seemed to be made of wood and might have appeared charming had it been floating in a pond at a park. But with only water visible in all 360 degrees, it gave the more sinister image of being stranded.
A girl in a dress stood in the boat.
The dress may have originally been as pure white as a wedding dress, but more than a third of it was stained red and black as if splattered in her enemies’ blood.
And the same was true for the girl herself.
Her skin had stiches running in every direction like a battered stuffed animal that had been repeatedly repaired. And when the skin had been grafted onto her, it appeared there had been little concern over the moisture. Some of her skin had the youthfulness of a young girl’s skin, some of it was as wrinkled as an old woman, and some of it was discolored a dark blue. This added to the cobbled together impression she gave off.
“Here they are,” she said as lightly as someone who had spotted the person they were waiting for in front of a train station.
The girl casually pulled out a small kitchen knife and threw it toward the ocean surface.
The change only took a few seconds.
The ocean water for over 100 kilometers around the small boat completely froze into a thick layer of ice.
The girl in the bloody dress took an elegant step onto the ocean surface that looked like a lake during winter. The ice palace reassuringly welcomed the girl with a hard sound. The girl smoothly walked across the ice like she was being escorted by the hand of a well-mannered noble.
Several military ships had their path blocked by the sudden appearance of the ice.
It was as if a special chemical had been used to harden the oil in a wok with scraps of vegetables still inside. And the ice did not stop at the fleet on the ocean. The ocean was likely frozen all the way to nearby Saipan.
“Wars are not only fought by the super heroes wielding machineguns. If one crushes the supply ships and their routes, the super heroes’ supply of ammunition will dry up,” muttered the girl in a dress with the lightheartedness of someone reading back their shopping list.
The supply ships had several escort ships with them and were armed with autocannons themselves.
Even if they did not understand the details of magic, they at least understood that the instant large-scale freezing of the ocean had occurred with that small boat in the center.
A deep voice gave a warning in English using the speakers meant to communicate with pirates.
“Stay where you are! Immediately disarm yourself and put your hands up. If we determine you are a threat, we will fire!!”
“You have plenty of weapons to drive off pirates, blow up cruise missiles, and shoot down planes, but you have nothing ideal for killing a delicate maiden, do you? I suppose I should commend you for hesitating to tear me to pieces.”
Her voice remained carefree.
And she continued.
“The queen of Niflheimr can draw out a location’s causes of death.”
And not just around the girl in a dress. Small candle-like flames floated up over the entire 100 kilometer area of frozen ocean. They numbered in the hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands.
The girl raised her index finger and scooped up one of the candle-like lights.
She brought it to her lips.
And she breathed something in.
“Analyzing the residual information of the death. Arnold Mackenzie, male, 24 at time of death. While taking a trip on a cruiser, an acquaintance aboard questioned him about a romantic relationship. It developed into a fight and he was stuffed head first into the oven in the kitchen space. He died of shock due to the intense pain of burns all over his body. …Oh? I wonder if he had any relation to Freyja.”
She tilted her head and reached for the chest of her dress.
She pulled out a shiny black revolver.
The supply ship immediately reacted to this obvious weapon.
“She has a weapon! All crew on deck, stay on your guard!!”
“Throw the gun away within five seconds or we will assume you are hostile and-…!!”
The voice suddenly stopped.
A high-pitched sound similar to feedback came through the speaker and the girl stopped moving for a moment.
Finally, a new female voice spoke over the speaker.
“We quieted down those men who don’t know how this works. It was very childish of you to use such a large spell on people who know nothing of magic. How about we actually enjoy a fight between experts?”
“Wait. I’m not the type to enjoy fighting,” said another female voice over the speaker.
The girl in the bloody dress tilted her head so far one began to worry she would snap her neck.
And she spoke.
“Who are you?”
“I am Silvia and this is Brunhild Eiktobel. Simply put, we’re your enemies.”
Without hesitating, the patched-together girl pulled the revolver’s trigger.
With a dry gunshot, a highly deadly 45 caliber bullet was fired, but it was no match for the mass of steel that was the ship. It would do nothing more than scatter a few orange sparks and make a sound similar to a pot being struck.
That was all it should have done.
That was the common knowledge of the world.
With a great roar, the entire steel supply ship was enveloped in crimson flames.
Nothing had been ignited.
Even if all the fuel stockpiled aboard the supply ship had caught fire, the flames would not have spread so evenly. It would have instead exploded at a single point, breaking the ship in two.
The unnatural flames had been caused by the girl in the bloody dress.
“I can draw out causes of death from the residual information of the dead, store them in existing weapons, and swap out the causes of death. I can strangle you with a sword, drown you with a train, crush you with a blowtorch, and burn you with a handgun. That is a suitable reason to bear the name of Hel, the queen of Niflheimr who rules over the dead.”
When the ship had been struck by Hel’s bullet, it had been heated all over as if it had been “stuffed head first into an oven”. Everyone aboard, be they expert or amateur, soldier or magician, would be roasted like turkeys.
A sound like shattering glass exploded out.
The flames enveloping the supply ship were suddenly blown away and the ship appeared unscathed from within.
It was similar to peeling away sunburned skin. The supply ship’s exterior was actually a bit shinier than before.
A woman’s voice came from the speaker as if nothing had happened.
“Sorry, but barriers are my specialty. If you want to kill the crew of this ship, you’ll have to take care of me first.”
“I see,” was the girl named Hel’s only response.
She spread her arms to show off the candle-like flames scattered as far across the icy ground as the eye could see.
“Ten thousand fifty three causes of death have appeared here in all. As expected of a location deeply related to the world’s largest gun nation, many people have died here. …I will use all of these to kill you. And if I kill you, I will use your cause of death somewhere.”
“Hel, hm?” said the other female voice. It was a bored-sounding voice. “People once called me Hel. I never thought I would run across an idiot who proudly showed off the sinister name of that queen of the underworld.”
“Now you have my interest.”
“Not mine. Let’s just get this over with.”
Misaka Mikoto held Index who held the calico cat. While in that matryoshka doll-like situation, Academy City’s #3 Level 5 used magnetism to jump from wall to wall of the high-rise buildings.
Orange sparks floated down from nowhere shortly after they passed through. A long, long line of those sparks trailed after them.
At first, Mikoto had repelled each and every one of them, but she had quickly learned they could not move quickly enough to pursue her. If she jumped away in the time it took the sparks to transform into pillars of fire and then flame figures, they would lose sight of their target and disappear.
Once she knew that, she saw no point in wasting her time shooting at them.
She manipulated great magnetic power more quickly and precisely in order to jump from building to building.
Either due to the magnetism, the speed, or the height, the cat fiercely struggled. This stabbed at Mikoto’s heart.
“Where are we anyway? Is this Sendagaya or Yotsuya? Damn, if only I could use my phone’s GPS.”
“How am I supposed to know?”
“Are you useful for anything!?”
Academy City was technically a part of Tokyo, but it was surrounded by large walls and one could not come and go freely. That was why Mikoto had a poor sense of the area. She was boldly travelling through the air based on the vague idea that she would reach Tokyo bay as long as she continued east.
“No matter where we go, the surface is covered in people. Is that idiot really trying to break through the center of all that? He could be crushed or…”
She trailed off.
Multiple giant aircraft had flown by quite nearby while clustered together and seemingly competing with each other.
A tremendous blast of air sent Mikoto’s body into a harsh spin despite her magnetic support. She concentrated entirely on the bottom of her left foot and focused on controlling her body.
She finally fixed herself in position by pressing her foot against a sign sticking out from a wall.
On one side was a next generation fighter from Academy City. It was clearly different from the fighters people usually thought of that were approximately twenty meters long. This huge fighter was easily seventy or eighty meters long. The maneuverability and turning that was needed for the swift movements of a fighter were all forced through with trajectory alterations carried out by the engine. In fact, it overwhelmed other fighters in those regards. This was the monster that had swept across the battlefields of Russia.
Just that fighter which could achieve a top speed of 7000 kph would have been surprising enough.
(Academy City has finally begun a rampage in the skies of Tokyo!?)
However, a different shadow flew in the sky as well.
It was less than thirty meters long, but it was not made of metal or composite materials.
It looked like an eagle.
It had no feathers. Its entire body was a mass of muscles formed from tightened wet red thread. It flapped its wings to travel at acute angles with supersonic speeds. When one side fired an air-to air missile filled with precision electronics, the other side would complexly move its giant wings to produce a spear-like gust of wind to knock the missile out of the air. It would sometimes use the wind to throw the explosive back at the pursuing fighter.
“That’s Hræsvelgr,” said Index while she held the cat and Mikoto held her. “That is the great eagle that devours the dead in Norse mythology. It is so large that flapping its wings creates all of the wind throughout the world. Gremlin took portions of that legend to create this.”
Mikoto did not understand what that meant, but the sight before her eyes was overwhelming.
Multiple explosions occurred in midair. Two giant forms weaved through the gaps and repeatedly attacked each other and evaded. A spear-like gust of wind was fired and the giant fighter flipped over and just barely avoided it. The fighter then fired a missile but more like it was placing it in the air than aiming and firing.
The surrounding explosive blasts and spear-like gusts of wind knocked the un-ignited missile around like a pinball. It flew through a complex trajectory before dropping down.
And it fell directly in front of the giant eagle known as Hræsvelgr.
The explosive blast was filled with a wet sound that had been absent previously.
The mass of muscles had lost its head and…
“It’s falling!!” shouted Mikoto.
Instead of a building-lined street overflowing with people, it fell toward a wide open space that was either a park or a sports field. Thick trees were snapped apart as easily as a bundle of pasta before putting it in the boiling water and a large cloud of dust rose into the air.
The lack of screams led Mikoto to assume no one had been there. The massive flood of people was formed from the people stalled after losing any means of transportation. People were still not trying to evacuate, so they had not yet started to gather in the parks.
Or at least, Mikoto hoped that was the case.
Watching from where she was would change nothing and remaining still would allow the orange sparks to surround her.
Mikoto thought as she once more travelled from building to building with magnetism.
(Academy City and this Gremlin group are both seriously planning to fight here. But do they really understand what that means? If they set up a defensive line in such a densely populated area, who knows how many people will be dragged into this!?)
The situation had developed in an even odder direction.
As Birdway, Lessar, and Kumokawa Maria travelled through the sewer to reach the river, they were forced to walk through the sewer all the way from Shinjuku to the Takadanobaba area. After exiting into a river, they had stolen a small boat as planned. However, the river was only knee deep. They had obtained a dark rubber boat. Kumokawa Maria did not know enough to tell it was a JSDF military landing boat with an engine attached on the back.
“You’re going to return it with a message card later, right?”
“I can have a certain president replace it for them. That should make a good memory for most anyone.”
The tiller attached to the engine at the back of the rubber boat was being operated by a 12-year-old blonde girl, but no one challenged them. It was obvious to everyone that this was not the time to worry about that.
“That bridge is about to collapse,” commented Kumokawa Maria from the front of the boat as they passed under a small bridge covered in people.
Lessar’s nose began to twitch from where she sat next to her.
“I sense an odd presence.”
“You too?” said Birdway without turning around. “Academy City and Gremlin have finally collided. Everything was limited to the air before, but a few pieces of wreckage have crashed into Tokyo. The looks on the people’s faces have changed. They’re changing from simple dissatisfaction to panic and fear.”
However, there was nothing those three girls could do.
The phone and internet lines were overloaded and they had no way of speaking to all of the people at once. And even if they did, they could not think of anything to say which would calm them down in this situation.
Dissatisfaction held much more energy than people thought it did.
It was more difficult to understand than the more obvious emotions, but that meant it was difficult to defend against. It could cause a real change in people’s mental activity.
When a leader controlled a single administration, he needed to detect the quantity and quality of the people’s dissatisfaction and establish a means of reducing it before it exceeded the tolerable limits. That showed just how important it was.
And the quality of that dissatisfaction was changing.
The stabbing sensation approaching from every direction was likely anger.
Birdway gave a sneer and spoke.
“Those damn pacifists have turned their anger toward Academy City.”
“Why? Gremlin is the one attacking. That dogfight just now only happened because Gremlin targeted a foolish passenger plane that didn’t change its course during this emergency situation. Academy City’s supersonic fighters may look flashy, but all they’re doing is trying to intercept Gremlin’s attacks!”
“They aren’t observing this so calmly.” Lessar dragged over the cooler sitting in one corner of the military rubber boat. “The normal people will know some strange creatures had been flying around until now, but they weren’t attacking. It was only once Academy City interfered that they started going on a rampage.”
“And so Academy City is the villain? That’s no different than ignoring the hornet’s nest on the eaves of your house.”
“This is part of their distribution of what people stand to gain,” readily replied Birdway. “Doing the right thing but having the majority mad at you is not fun on the political side of things. I doubt that’s enough to break Academy City, but it should at least slightly dull the decision making ability of those on the scene. And Gremlin’s plan doesn’t end here. They’re trying to tangle up hundreds of threads to bind everyone from multiple directions. Understanding even a bit of the structure is enough to know how unpleasant this is.”
A bubbling sound could be heard.
Sargasso contained the remains of a luxury passenger ship. On the deck of the giant rusted ship was a giant rectangular pool.
It was filled with a thick, transparent liquid. It seemed to be at quite a high temperature because the air bubbles of a boiling liquid floated up here and there. Perhaps due to the stickiness of the original liquid, it looked like a monster’s gastric juices or a dark swamp with a corpse submerged in it.
No one would have thought it had originally been pure gold.
In the Norse areas, gold was both a symbol of wealth and the material used for the weapons of the gods. After Gremlin had concentrated all of their techniques into extracting the weapon material side of its meaning, the gold had already lost its chemical properties and meaning. People from the science side would have hesitated to even refer to it as “gold”.
Three girls stood on the poolside: Magic God Othinus, Dvergr Marian Slingeneyer, and Mjölnir who took the form of a drum.
They were all central members of Gremlin who were focused on producing Gungnir which could control and stabilize the power of a magic god which was too powerful to use properly. However, they were not constantly and unendingly uttering incantations.
“So this is what it’s like once it begins,” said the eyepatch-wearing girl.
“Igniting it is the hard part. This girl here did a good job of taking in and controlling the volcanic energy we acquired in Hawaii. We should only have to wait now.”
Marian traced her fingertips across the surface of the black drum and the girl who had been given that form shook happily.
Most people would associate the name Mjölnir with the weapon of the lightning god Thor. It had immense power, it would pursue and directly hit its target when thrown, and it would return to its owner like a boomerang. However, it was exceedingly heavy and could only be used by the “chosen one”. That was the standard image.
But just as Thor was originally an almighty god in charge of the weather, terrain, and farming, the hammer that symbolized his power was a convenient tool that could be used for many different tasks. It could be viewed like a magic wand.
Even after Thor’s abilities were limited to those of the lightning god, that hammer retained the vestiges of his power over farming. Thor could eat the goats he owned and they would return to normal with just a wave of the hammer.
Mjölnir was a spiritual item that could be used for anything.
It was a joker that let one pass over a single hole in any experiment.
Putting it that way showed just how rare an existence that drum girl was. She was so rare the entire magic side could easily fight a war over that single girl.
“Now that it’s started, we only have to watch the process. We only need to interfere if we decide a manual recovery is needed.”
“Are you saying I should go take a nap? At the very last, I will not let my guard down until it passes that stage.”
“Ha ha. Othinus, I’m surprised a magic god like you can still get nervous.”
“This is not an issue with my abilities. This world is unskilled and untrustworthy.”
There was one obstacle they could not overcome even with a magical joker that let them fill in a single inadequacy.
They knew the lance could never be completed with the existing techniques of the magic side. Mjölnir could fill in any one magical symbol, but only within the field of magic. Mjölnir could do nothing when any kind of magic was useless.
To fill in that deficiency, they had stolen the power of the science side.
Specifically, a holistic esper.
The remnants of Academy City’s #2 had been forced to create a specimen in the form of a girl and Kihara Kagun had made some alterations to that specimen. They now had a truly unique disposable item.
Othinus would occasionally use the Einherjar who sat on the line between living and dead, so she knew the truth of the matter. That specimen was not an object created from a living human. It was a human-shaped object that had been altered. It was a soulless existence.
“What we are doing is essentially a magical ceremony,” said Othinus. “But it cannot be completed solely with magic. In other words, the automatic work will stall somewhere. To accurately throw in the holistic esper and continue the ceremony with the proper timing, it needs to be switched over manually.”
“I remember a toy where you had to rearrange the rails a train was travelling along so it wouldn’t derail. I guess this is similar.”
A bubbling sound could be heard.
Something was visible at the bottom of the pool.
It was a cylinder as thick as a 500 yen coin and as long as a ballpoint pen.
That was the bottom of a lance.
“How long is it supposed to be?”
“250. …It will grow quickly once it begins.”
“Chehh… I can only access the disaster message board service. Well, it’s not like I could rush there even if I could contact them.”
A middle-aged man in a shabby suit and with a slight beard spoke in an exhausted voice.
His name was Kamijou Touya.
He was the father of a certain high school student.
He was a foreign capital salaryman who was on trips to other countries year round.
He was currently in America. Specifically, he was in a characteristic designer’s building in the center of Silicon Valley. However, his thoughts were completely focused on Japan.
His wife Shiina lived in the 23 special wards of Tokyo.
His son Touma lived in Academy City.
The area they both lived in had fallen into complete panic. As a father, he could not help but be worried.
From the simple sites he could browse on his phone, it seemed all of the airlines had shut down reservations for flights. It was not that all the flights were full. Instead, they were refusing to send out passenger planes when the safety of the air was not confirmed.
Something was happening in Tokyo.
No, that was only the tip of the iceberg. That was only the part that showed up the most.
Touya’s expertise in finances showed him the greater confusion lurking below the surface.
“Sorry about the wait.”
A voice as high pitched as a whistle filled the reception space. It belonged to a young girl.
Touya frantically put his phone in his pocket and stood up from his seat. A blonde girl not even ten years old had entered.
Her name was Lindy Blueshake.
After the fall of the Data Queen of the United States, Olay Blueshake, this girl had inherited her “kingdom”. She was the new queen that controlled a large pillar supporting the value of the United States and its currency, the dollar, by controlling the world’s largest search engine and several other internet services.
During the incident in Hawaii, rumors had spread of the corporation’s bankruptcy and dissolution, but it seemed the people had not wanted to see such a convenient service disappear. It was now back in business thanks to the support of several financial investment companies.
For example, Kamijou Touya’s parent company.
Lindy trotted over to the table with a gait that made one think she should be wearing colorful rain boots.
“Um, I have looked over the paperwork. I just have to sign here, right?” she asked.
“Well, yes. …Excuse me, but did you read over it at least three times? I know it is odd to say this as the one making the proposal, but this kind of contract usually has some king of cruel wording hidden inside it.”
“D-don’t worry! I read over it with my lawyers and accountants!”
It seemed she was not giving much thought to the possibility of opposing factions or bought industrial spies within her own company.
Touya suddenly wanted to explain the basic workings of the world to Lindy, but the large man standing behind her lightly cleared his throat.
He was a tanned and muscular man with sunglasses completely hiding his eyes. The black suit did not suit him. In fact, it was the wrong size. It looked like it would rip in places if he started running.
Touya guessed he was a native Hawaiian and the man spoke with a voice as deep as one would expect.
“There is no problem. We have a system for revealing corrupt personnel.”
“Very well then. …It is not our problem if your group begins to decline because of this.”
Lindy looked puzzled and Touya exchanged a quick glance with the large man wearing sunglasses.
He watched that young hand sign the documents on top of the reception space table.
As Lindy moved her hand, she spoke.
“Does it bother you?”
“What? Well, um…”
“The situation in Tokyo.”
Touya gave a bitter smile at how readily she said that.
Lindy continued her struggle against the many documents.
“Specialists like us can tell right away when communications are overloaded in an area.”
“Ha ha. It looks like it is difficult to hide anything from you.”
“But it is strange. Using the internet normally should not overload it to such an extreme. Unless everyone in Japan took simultaneous action to overload it, information should not be cut off so cleanly for a localized area.”
“Are you saying someone or something is guiding this large flow of events?”
As Touya answered, a different piece of information passed through the back of his mind.
The New York Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Berlin Stock Exchange, and the Indonesia Stock Exchange. This information dealt with the flow of money and objects.
(Iron, steel, car, and aircraft stock as well as the standard futures in oil and grains. Those hasty people are buying and selling everything like a war is starting. And all of the deals are ones that will pay off if the confusion grows.)
“Does it bother you?” she asked again.
Touya raised his head to find Lindy continuing to battle the paperwork.
He could not tell how much she knew.
The eyes of a child could sometimes see through the deception of adults with a special kind of instinct and logic. Touya viewed her comment as just as dangerous as women’s intuition.
“There seem to be a fair number of people who would be happy if this commotion dragged on for a while.”
“If one gathers and analyzes search results, SNS posts, and message board posts, one can create a graph of the world’s trends. It gives a logical framework for what is known as big data. Anyway, it seems that arrow is pointed in quite a dangerous direction.”
(What an unpleasant age we live in.)
Touya kept that thought from showing on his face.
Instead, he spoke.
“In the financial world, there are plenty of people known as traders of death. However, it is more than just the specialists this time. We are catching glimpses of innocent young man and housewife day traders who want this confusion to continue.”
“It appears that some hints have been left to ensure those people voluntarily think that way.”
“Do you not know who exactly left those hints?”
“Big data does not collect information that would allow us to specify individuals. Once we do that, it becomes a spying and eavesdropping system. …That is what my mother did.”
If someone was making posts online to foster this confusion, could their location be used to search out the source behind all of it?
Touya rejected his own idea.
(The true agitator will have manipulated complete strangers to make those posts. The true villain does not commit evil deeds where anyone can see them. I doubt they would remain in the kind of location anyone would think to check.)
“By the way,” said Lindy as her fountain pen raced along the final document. “If we use the packet pattern file structure of the Japan-America hotline connecting the White House to the prime minister’s residence, we should be able to break through the overloaded line network with a top priority VoIP connection. Want to try it?”
“I wouldn’t care if it got me arrested, but I can’t have my wife charged on some national crime.”
Repeated sounds of solid objects being destroyed rang out.
Those were the sounds of the giant boar Hildisvíni charging toward the back of the train while destroying the fluorescent lights and other objects on the walls and ceiling of the tunnel. The boar was only a temporary mass of flesh, so it did not possess the standard instincts of a living creature. It ran right off the back of the train and the crash of the track being crushed burst out.
The maternity dress-wearing magician named Freyja gave a long sigh.
Nothing remained on top of the train’s roof and Hildisvíni had not been destroyed by Imagine Breaker. After being thrown into the air, Kamijou Touma had either been crushed by the giant boar or thrown to the side and fallen to the ground.
Either way, he was certainly dead.
With her job done, Freyja reached into the pocket of her maternity dress and pulled out a communication spiritual item with several runes burned into it.
“Now then. I’ve crushed my top priority, so now I can go to the location of the next greatest problem. Let’s see, the Muspell destruction report list says…”
Just as she began carelessly muttering to herself, she heard an ominous creaking noise.
At some point, a glowing jewel had appeared between her five fingers.
She looked toward the source of the sound.
It was quite nearby. It was on the edge of the train’s roof. While looking to the front of the train, it was on the right.
She saw what looked like fingers.
They were fingers. There were five of them. Someone was holding onto the quickly-moving train with just the strength of their hand.
She peered over at this person and realized who it was.
It was Kamijou Touma.
Freyja grinned and began to release the jewel in her fingers.
But before she could, Kamijou used his free arm to swing around the coat of his school uniform by the sleeve. He had removed it in advance.
The powerful wind caused the cloth to swell out and it covered Freyja’s entire face.
It robbed her of her vision.
She lost her vision while peering down from the edge of the train.
There was one more.
A young man named Fenrir walked through a dark snowy plain in Alaska.
During the night in the Arctic, the air was cold enough to feel like a deadly weapon, but the young man showed no sign of caring. He was like a wolf walking through the snow.
“Is this the way to the secret NORAD base known for ballistic missile defense?”
Ultimately, the most effective means of stopping the allied force was to seal off their intelligence network. In the modern age, intelligence killed more people than bullets. It could be military satellites, the internet, or anything else. If all of those communication methods were cut off, the globe that seemed so small would quickly return to being a vast planet. The more countries and people involved, the more area that had to be understood. And the more area that had to be understood, the more serious the effects of losing coordination.
While walking through a conifer forest covered in white snow, Fenrir came across a rope stretched out between the trees. The rope had an upside-down triangular cloth attached and that cloth had a skull mark in the center.
It seemed the area ahead was a minefield, but Fenrir ignored the warning and continued on.
After walking a little further, the forest suddenly ended and he could see a large space surrounded by a chain-link fence.
It was a radar base with a large number of parabolic antennae inside.
“Does the weight of the snow not break the dishes?”
After uttering that surprised comment, Fenrir heard a noise from the surrounding trees.
He narrowed his eyes slightly.
Immediately afterwards, all of the thick trees in the area were sliced in two at waist height.
It seemed to have been a long blade using wind or something similar.
The blade had been several dozen meters long and it had been created by a single card ripped from a set of flashcards held together by a metal ring. The card said “Wind Symbol” in yellow writing.
This was known as Shorthand.
It was a disposable grimoire developed by a certain female courier. The structure that allowed an original grimoire to automatically send out spells had been extracted and weaponized.
The traces of damage were interrupted around where Fenrir stood.
A different color was mixed into the pure white of the snow. A number of black cracks had appeared as if space itself had been directly torn. One of those had “bitten” the wind blade.
“I don’t even need my canine teeth for this. If I release just my central incisors or lateral incisors, I can tear you to pieces right away.”
The sound of something breaking rang out.
The wind blade did not disappear or break. It was swallowed.
The cracks disappeared like the surface of clay being smoothed over with water. That long blade was swallowed up by those disappearing black cracks as if it was water being sucked down the drain of a pool.
The young man turned around.
He calmly observed the glamorous blonde courier named Oriana Thomson.
“Don’t be so afraid. This is just a trick. It’s not like I’m damaging another phase and throwing it into heaven or hell. Not even I can do that.”
“Then what are those cracks?”
“It’s simple. I distort the flow of power a bit.” The young man shrugged. “Eastern feng shui is the same. The existence of mountains and rivers changes the flow of energy through ley lines and the like. In that case, you can create a ‘ditch’ that draws in the surrounding energy by creating a new mountain or river. It’s the same as how the rainwater will naturally flow toward an irrigation canal and be swallowed up.”
Fenrir was the beast that would devour Odin during the final battle of Ragnarök. The gods had feared him and so bound him and stabbed a sword into his mouth through the lower jaw so he could not close his mouth. When they had, the drool that had flowed from Fenrir’s giant maw had created a large river.
He had used that legend.
By incorporating the same symbols as a river into a location, he created a large “ditch” that swallowed up the massive power of the ley lines. It forcibly swallowed up the magic power that constructed magic and swept it away.
In response, Oriana Thomson lightly spun the set of flashcards in her hand.
And she spoke.
“This is not my first time doing it with an enemy of magic. I have yet to use them on that boy, but I have simulated some countermeasures.”
“Oh, you mean that right hand? All I do is have the magic swept away. I can’t completely annihilate the occult, so I can’t take on the exaggerated role of being a reference point for the world.”
The space around Fenrir grew distorted.
Several black cracks appeared.
“But with this, I can drag in plenty of other things along with the massive amount of energy. You could say it’s like sucking a human down the drain of a pool.”
Even on Tokyo Bay, repeated earthquake-like rumbling noises could be felt vibrating in one’s gut.
A few more Hræsvelgrs that Fertility Goddess Freyja had given birth to ahead of time flew from Gremlin’s base of Sargasso.
That base was only a few dozen kilometers from Academy City which was sending out bombers and fighters which could fly at 7000 kph. It was even possible a shell fired from within the city’s thick walls could fly in a large parabola and strike Sargasso.
Lightning God Thor (or rather, Ollerus disguised as Thor) stood directly on the ocean, listening to the rumbling.
Technically, he was standing on a large amount of goat fur he had scattered on the ocean surface. Needless to say, this was a spell constructed using the symbols of the goats that pulled Thor’s chariot.
A disguise could be a lot of work.
(Now then. Everyone knows Sargasso is in Tokyo Bay, so there is no more need for me to remain within Gremlin. To reduce the danger from Academy City’s attack or Magic God Othinus tearing me apart if my cover is blown, I should leave here right away. On the other hand…)
He heard a great roar overhead that was deeper than the distant explosions.
It came from Mökkurkalfe.
That giant was known as “mountain-like” and it really was large enough to fit that description. Despite being made of dried clay, it rose almost 500 meters above the ocean surface, so its great mass alone could function as a weapon. And unlike Ollerus, Mökkurkalfe was not using a spell to float on the surface. It was so overwhelmingly large that one could forget its feet were touching the ocean floor.
Mökkurkalfe had been patrolling around Sargasso at a uniform speed, but it was beginning to focus primarily on the region of the ocean in the direction of Academy City to the west.
A few shadows flying through the air slipped through the net of Hræsvelgr giant eagles and charged toward Sargasso.
They were Academy City bombers.
(Well, that isn’t going to work. Even if I leave this to them, there is no guarantee they can do any real damage to Othinus. And if they do not stop the production of the lance, not even fleeing to the other side of the world will be enough to avoid the destruction. …In that case, I should continue this recklessness for a bit longer.)
The force trying to destroy Gremlin approached.
Ollerus calmly calculated that they were not powerful enough and made an immediate announcement.
“Knock them from the air.”
Mökkurkalfe mercilessly swung its giant arm which produced a great roar as it tore through the air.
It was because he could do this that he had been able to infiltrate Gremlin.
It was because he could do this that he had grown somehow twisted.
Kamijou had been blown toward the back of the train by an artificial blast of wind and the giant boar Hildisvíni had tried to charge at him. However, he had grabbed at the coat of his school uniform.
Even if he flailed his arms and legs around while in midair, he could not move as if swimming through water.
But what if he had something that could fan the air even more?
What if he unbuttoned his coat and spread it out?
Kamijou intentionally opened up only the right side. He had no guarantee it would work. It was a complete gamble. As soon as he did, his body moved as if being greatly twisted. The gust of wind was powerful enough to easily blast a human into the air, so it was obvious what would happen if he prepared a makeshift sail that increased the air resistance.
As his body spun, he was pushed to the side.
And he fell.
As the giant boar scraped along the top of the tunnel, it ran directly along the roof of the train. By that time, Kamijou had already avoided it by grabbing onto the edge of the roof with both hands and pressing against the wall. Hildisvíni was large enough to fill the empty space, but that was only the area above the roof of the train. The gap next to the train’s wall was wide open. The wind produced by its giant form did not reach down there either.
“Gh… Pant, pant.”
He had survived for the time being.
But if he climbed up now, Freyja would begin her attack once more. And she might not wait until after he had finished defenselessly climbing up.
He needed a way to fight back.
Fortunately, Freyja would likely assume she had won. With that much destruction, checking for a body would be difficult. He had to make his preparations during that slight period of safety. Currently, Kamijou was supported only by his ten fingers and was about to fall to the ground which was rushing by with tremendous speed below.
The biggest obstacle was removing his coat.
Removing his arms from the sleeves meant he had to temporarily support himself with only one arm.
With his removed coat in hand, Kamijou supported himself as if performing a pull up and slowly moved toward Freyja while clinging to the side of the train.
Once he was close enough, he only had to wait.
He waited for her to peer down at him.
All he did was throw his coat up to block her vision.
“Dammit! That’s your decision!?” shouted Freyja.
It seemed even a magician felt a bit fearful when her vision was blocked at the edge of a train. If she carelessly stepped off, she would fall straight for the ground.
Kamijou had to climb up onto the roof in that time, but it was still not enough. With her vision still blocked, Freyja purposefully dropped the jewel in her hand.
And she gave the incantation.
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Muninn.”
(I don’t have time to hesitate!!)
Kamijou faltered because his opponent was pregnant. He was quite hesitant. However, hesitating here would mean his death and Freyja would continue to use the baby inside her for her own purposes. If her shocking statement about two years having passed was true, he could not leave this be. Japan’s laws seemed to not give a fetus human rights as long as it was inside the womb, but he felt those laws could eat shit.
He would bet on the possibility of saving that child no matter how slim it was.
While apologizing to the baby rather than Freyja and supporting himself with one hand, Kamijou swept his other hand along the roof. While Freyja struggled nervously with her vision cut off, he swept her feet out from under her from behind. Kamijou was considerate enough to have her collapse onto her back rather than her stomach. He had no way of knowing how dangerous an act it was either way, though.
Before checking to make sure Freyja had fallen to her butt, Kamijou climbed up onto the train’s roof.
While lying face down, Kamijou saw the jewel on the floor gathering wet red thread.
He frantically stood up.
Just as it took the form of a giant bird and attacked, he smashed it to pieces with his right fist.
(Her attacks come from those strange jewels she calls Brísingamen.)
After making sure the bird had been destroyed, Kamijou quickly turned toward Freyja.
(If I can steal or destroy that, she won’t be able to attack. I will settle this no matter what! If I don’t take advantage of this timing, this will turn into a long, drawn-out fistfight. I want to avoid that for the baby’s sake!!)
A maternity dress was meant to reduce the burden on the mother. Its material was not made any thicker than necessary and it did not have a large number of unneeded pockets. He could clearly see her body lines through the dress and the only pockets were the ones on the left and right.
If the Brísingamen jewels were supported by magical power, he would not even need to steal them. Simply sticking his hand in her pocket would destroy all of the jewels she had stocked up like bullets.
This was checkmate.
But as soon as he thought that…
He heard a horribly low-pitched voice.
Freyja bent her right knee just once and pulled it back like compressing a spring. Her heel shot forcefully toward Kamijou’s gut.
“Don’t touch my mother!!”
Kamijou felt an impact in his solar plexus and heard an odd shout.
The breath was knocked out of him and he rolled backwards. Meanwhile, Freyja stood up and threw away the coat covering her upper body. As the coat was tossed by the powerful wind, Kamijou coughed and caught it in one hand.
And then he saw it.
He saw the fertility goddess Freyja.
On the large stomach of the woman who had given that name, a complex pattern was written in light as if rising up from within the maternity dress.
“It can’t be…”
He had been mistaken about something.
He had made a misunderstanding during his initial assumptions.
Kamijou could feel a strange chill running down his spine.
He had thought he was faced with the magician known as Freyja and the fetus being used as a calculation device.
But he had been wrong.
He recalled what she had said.
The mother had no magical sense, so the fetus was using magic.
In that case…
“Is it you?” muttered Kamijou in shock.
His voice said he still could not believe the thought that had entered his head.
He was looking toward the woman in a maternity dress, but he was not looking at her.
He looked at her large stomach as he spoke.
“Are you Freyja!?”
It was often said that fetuses could hear the noises and voices of the surrounding world before leaving their mother’s stomach.
That was why she had understood.
Even if she did not have the ability to accurately analyze and understand language, she had been able to distinguish the nuances and emotions of the words sent her way, at least to a certain extent.
Even if she had not wanted to, she had understood
Her mother had lived while everything in the world tried to crush her.
She had understood that this was due to her being inside the mother.
She did not know how she came to be inside the stomach of a mother so young, but she was certain she was not a child that the world wanted to be born. From the moment she was born…no, even before that, she had been hated by a large number of people.
And amid all that, her mother had desperately fought against that unreasonable world.
Even as that world tried to crush her mother from every single direction, that mother had desperately tried to protect the new life growing inside her.
In that crucible of malice, a deluge of verbal abuse had constantly washed over her mother. She had no way of knowing how painful that had been for her.
If her mother had abandoned her, wouldn’t it have all been over?
She had thought that but had been unable to do anything.
Even as a baby inside the womb, she had at times been able to move her arms and legs with her own will. However, her readiness to give up her own life to save her mother had come to nothing. Each time she swung her arms and legs, her mother had misinterpreted the act and only smiled and kindly rubbed her belly.
In the end, it seemed her mother was simply too kind a person.
She had lost all of her personal relationships, her parents and siblings had stopped supporting her, and she had been driven from where she lived. Even as she watched everything she had built up come crumbling down around her, the mother did not hate her child. It was not that she worked to drive the thoughts from her mind; she never even considered it.
Despite having no assurances of a place to sleep or food to eat, her mother had knitted, told old stories that focused only on the good, and enthusiastically repeated a baseless magical charm meant to ensure her child was born safely.
That was the kind of person her mother had been.
And it may have been because her mother was like that that she had been able to think there was at least one good thing in that world otherwise blotted out by the color black.
The mother had done everything she could to protect her child.
The child had done everything she could to save her mother.
While swaying, Fertility Goddess Freyja slowly stood up on the train’s roof.
No, that was not technically accurate.
She was controlling the mother through the umbilical cord connecting the mother and child.
“…someone I must save no matter what.”
The tunnel ceiling grew a bit lower.
Kamijou bent his back without thinking, but Freyja continued standing tall. Seeing the ceiling rushing past just above the top of her head squeezed at Kamijou’s heart.
“There is someone in such a hopeless situation that they will receive no comfort whatsoever even after ten years of work and one hundred years of research. I know that to be the case.”
Kamijou did not know the exact situation, but he could take a guess as to who she was talking about.
If the child really was controlling the mother and the mother could not even stand on her own feet without being controlled, what had happened to the mother?
“What does this have to do with Gremlin and all the destruction they spread everywhere?”
Something had to have happened to that mother and child.
Something so terribly painful it would almost break his heart to hear it.
“They want to destroy the world. Are you saying you’re going along with that!?”
“You still haven’t truly seen what Gremlin is.”
A self-deprecating smile appeared on the woman’s face.
That smile appeared based on the will of the child that was borrowing her body.
“Even if ten years of work and a hundred years of research would all be meaningless, that magic god can ignore those restrictions. It does not matter how much malice fills her. As long as the lance is completed, that person can be saved from this nightmarish situation in which she will hit an inevitable dead end!!”
For an instant – just an instant – Kamijou thought about that possibility.
What if Magic God Othinus was not a bringer of destruction but instead reached out to help people?
That was not the case.
“Someone who could calmly call the incidents in Hawaii and Baggage City a success could never have such a decent heart. And once that lance is complete, Othinus won’t have to listen to what anyone says!!”
“That’s fine. Either way, this stopgap method will not last forever. I may be controlling my mother through the umbilical cord right now, but that is putting her in a detached state where her sense of self grows gradually thinner. She will eventually reach a limit and completely vanish. But if I am removed, my mother will not even be able to keep her organs running. It is over either way. There is only one way to protect my mother from the destruction that is coming before long. I can only take in the contradiction and borrow the power of that magic god!!”
“Do you still not see the truth!? Othinus is only using that as a convenient tool to guide you. It’s the exact same thing happening in this city! The people think something is wrong, but by making them think going along with it is to their advantage, everyone splits apart and no organized resistance rises up! That’s all Othinus is thinking with you!!”
“My mother collapsed while protecting me!! If she had abandoned me, she could have returned safely to her former life, but she stuck with me!!”
Those words sounded like she was coughing up blood and they seemed to be accompanied by a physical blow.
A mere high school boy like Kamijou Touma did not have the foundation needed to deny those words.
He was sure that woman in the maternity dress had fought amid all that.
She had fought to protect a life in some place Kamijou could not even imagine.
“So stay out of the way.”
Kamijou heard a sound like something solid being scratched at.
By the time he realized something was wrong, it was too late.
“Until that time when I can return her body, I will not let anyone hurt my mother!!”
It came from below.
But there was nothing on the roof of the train below their feet.
It came from further below than that.
They were standing on a five-car train. There was a large space inside that giant box. When he had outwitted Freyja by climbing along the wall, he had been so focused on supporting his body that he had looked only at the hands supporting his weight. He had never looked inside the train car. But what if Freyja had made effective use of that space?
What if she had called in a large number of monsters while fighting Kamijou and had fed them all to a single monster to fatten it up?
“Cost 70. Black. Shift / / Níðhöggr Vol. 02!!”
Just as the five-car train left the tunnel and appeared aboveground, Kamijou’s entire vision was filled with bright sunlight.
An attack came in that instant he was blinded.
Freyja cried out and something inside the car Kamijou stood on ripped it apart like plastic. A much too large red dragon appeared with its maw pointed upwards. Freyja took three or four steps backwards and moved to the next car forward. By the time Kamijou saw that, the entire destroyed car had already been tossed into the air. The following cars were dragged along and derailed.
He could not land on the roof of the remaining cars.
He would be smashed to pieces along with the back cars being turned to scrap.
The woman in the maternity dress stood out of reach in front of him.
That was the much too young magician named Freyja and the mother who had tried to protect her.
That mother and child had been forced to rely on the slight possibility of Magic God Othinus’s powers even if they knew Othinus was using them.
(I can’t let it end like this… I still haven’t grasped anything in my hand!!)
Suddenly, the falling motion of Kamijou’s body clearly changed. This was due to external interference. When he realized that, Kamijou finally noticed someone was grabbing onto the back of his school uniform.
It was a girl who had fallen from the sky.
It was a girl who had carried out the acrobatics needed to jump onto the roof of the subway train.
It was a girl who could jump from high-rise building to high-rise building with her free control over magnetism.
It was a girl who already held a white girl in one hand and had saved Kamijou from a hopeless situation with her other hand.
It was Misaka Mikoto.
Academy City’s #3 Level 5 and the ace of Tokiwadai Middle School landed on the roof of the train like an arrow stabbing into it.
Only two cars remained.
Even after they landed and Kamijou sank to the roof, he still lacked confidence that he was alive.
“What a pain,” said Mikoto simply as she released Index from her right hand and Kamijou from her left. “I finally caught up to you, you idiot. Just because our cell phones don’t work is no reason to run off on your own and get cornered! Did you forget that you only have one life no matter what kind of power you have!?”
The white nun holding a calico cat sighed.
“Saying that won’t change Touma. And because nothing will change him, we have no choice but to compromise. Sorry, Touma, but I’m joining in this time. No matter what you say, I’m not backing down.”
There may have been people who would say this was pathetic.
There may have been people who would mock him as powerless.
There may have been people who would criticize him for getting others involved for his own selfish purposes.
A cell phone fell onto the train roof.
It had fallen from Kamijou’s pocket while he was thrown from the train and roughly rescued by Mikoto.
Some button must have been pressed during the fall because the small electronic device began playing a message.
He had set it to record the message to his phone if there was a new message on the disaster message board service.
It was a short message only a few dozen seconds long.
He heard a familiar voice.
“Hey. I wonder if they can hear me. Touya-san, Touma-san. Is this reaching you?”
It was a female voice without a hint of unease or worry as if nothing at all was happening.
That was a person that, unless special means were used such as Academy City’s cloning technology, anyone born into the world had one of. That was an adult that it was perfectly normal but occasionally irritating to have around.
“It looks like there is some kind of commotion outside, but I’m perfectly fine. Don’t worry about me and wait until all this dies down, okay?”
There was a mother and child who had not been allowed to give or be given that completely normal thing.
Not even once.
The child had not been born into the bright world and they had never seen each other’s faces.
That overwhelming unfairness lay before Kamijou’s eyes.
In that case, he could not worry about appearances. It did not matter if it was shameful, pathetic, or embarrassing. If it would allow him to destroy this nonsensical precipice, he would use anything. He would use anything and get anyone involved.
That was definitely…
“That is Freyja, a Gremlin magician. Her true form is the baby in the woman’s womb. It seems she used some method to save the collapsed mother which gave her temporary control over the mother’s body.”
Kamijou picked up his scratched cell phone, squeezed it, and spoke.
And he thought.
(But that is definitely not wrong.)
“Please. Lend me your power so I can save them both.”
In that instant, Index, the Anglican nun wearing a white habit and carrying a calico cat, fell silent for a moment. She slowly narrowed her eyes and thought on the meaning of the words coming from Kamijou Touma’s mouth.
In that instant, Misaka Mikoto, the girl with the nickname Railgun and wearing the blazer of Tokiwadai Middle School’s winter uniform, stopped moving as if thinking over the words she had heard.
They did not think it was too much to ask.
They did not find it to be a bother.
They had been waiting for those words for so long.
How long and painful had that wait been? The boy who had naturally spoken those words did not know how those girls felt. It would have taken hours or even days for them to say everything they wanted to say, but that did not matter for the moment.
The answer they had to give here was not something so long and unending.
They could take their time with that once this was all over.
They knew what would currently feel best as an answer for that boy who felt cornered and was seeking help.
“Leave it to me.”
“Leave it to me.”
The two girls took a large step forward to protect Kamijou Touma.
At the same moment, the train shot back into a tunnel.
Ahead of them was the Gremlin magician named Freyja. Behind them were the sounds of destruction as Níðhöggr Vol. 02 charged into the tunnel. It was clearly too large for the half circle space of the tunnel. If it continued forward, it could easily blow away the two remaining cars of the train. A powerful enemy lay ahead and behind, but Index and Misaka Mikoto both gave thin smiles.
They had nothing to be afraid of.
Their enemy was most likely unaware that they now stood in the place they had long dreamt of being in.
It sounded both like the cry of silk being torn and the unique singing of an undiscovered culture.
As the white girl stood in the center, eight giant flower petals bloomed while fused to her ankles. It looked like the calculated beauty produced in nature to draw in insects for reproductive purposes. It looked like the artisanal beauty woven into the artificial subtleties of an analog clock face.
A great number of electrodes were sticking into the petals and various signals were being sent into the girl via cables. For better or for worse, those signals were producing extended high-pitched screams that stabbed at one’s heart.
“Good, good, good,” said Marian Slingeneyer from the poolside on the ruined deck of the luxury passenger ship.
A lance handle the length of a human arm sat at the bottom of the pool filled with a thick, transparent liquid.
It was gradually growing like watching a burning candle in reverse.
The growth was gradual but constant.
“The temporary switchover from magic to science went well. If this keeps up, we will surely make it through without issue.”
“You should stop using the word ‘surely’. It is meaningless.”
The production of the lance could not be completed with a magical ceremony alone, but the solution involved more than simply switching over from magic to science.
The ceremony was still based in magic.
To avoid that insurmountable barrier, they would temporarily switch over to the rails of the science side, but they could not complete the lance if they remained in the realm of science to the end. After overcoming that great barrier, they had to switch the rails back to magic.
Marian must have been nervous because she licked her lips even though they were not dry.
“Now then. This is the last tricky part. If we can manually overcome this, the rest will finish on its own.”
“No, wait,” said the eyepatch-wearing girl in a low voice.
The girl-shaped flower tilted to the side as it continued to emit that strange voice that sounded both like screaming and singing. Its lustrous and moisturized skin began to loosen like baggy clothing. Something was collapsing within. It resembled a decomposing corpse.
Marian Slingeneyer’s expression changed.
“Oh, crap… It’s going to take another 10 minutes to switch back over. If the holistic esper collapses before then, the ceremony will hit a dead end here!!”
“Where are the dregs of the #2? He made this specimen, so he can replace the crumbling tissue!!”
Othinus did not reply to Marian’s cries.
She instead took a step toward the white flower.
She crushed one of the eight petals underfoot and stared at the face of the girl-shaped specimen.
With one hand, she thrust her fingers toward that specimen’s chest as if attempting to crush it.
The screaming and singing did not stop.
Othinus forced her hand inside and grabbed the area corresponding to a human’s lungs. She squeezed like a pump to force air out.
“Do you really think that empty husk will help us if he knows our plan will fail without him? In the time we spent negotiating, the production of the spear would fail.” Othinus used her one eye to stare at Marian. “Do it. We only need this thing to last the 10 minutes until you switch back over.”
The white flower crumbled. Brown and black stains and wrinkles spread across it, so it could no longer be called “white”.
Even so, the voice continued.
Dark red blood trickled from Othinus’s eyepatch.
She had immense power, but things did not always progress as she wanted because her infinite possibilities held an equal number of successes and failures.
Sticky sounds could be heard.
It was impossible to distinguish the sounds of the magic god crumbling from those of the flower crumbling.
Finally, the cruelly decomposed flower bent at the neck and the entire head fell to the poolside floor. It completely burst with a splatting sound. It looked like the remains of a fruit that no one had picked and not even any animals had shown interest in.
The singing stopped.
Marian Slingeneyer collapsed to a sitting position on the ground.
“We did it.”
“Not all of it.”
“Okay, fine. We managed to switch back. We can just sit back and watch the lance complete itself. There is no way it can fail now!!”
The eyepatch-wearing girl removed her foot from the discolored remains of the flower petal that had completely crumbled. It was reminiscent of a flower that was returning to the earth after dropping its seeds and completing its role.
The core of Othinus shook.
“You said we can just take a nap now, right? I will focus on mending myself. If I did it here, the great power could blow away the ceremony.”
“Then why don’t you rely on one of the other members? You still might not succeed, after all. Let’s see, I think Iðunn and Sif are free, so-…”
The eyepatch-wearing girl held out a hand to stop Marian from continuing.
She then walked away from the pool.
As Marian Slingeneyer watched the girl leave, the other girl who had taken the form of a black drum clattered next to her.
Marian looked toward the pool.
The lance had already reached two meters in length and a sharp blade was forming on the end.
“Just a bit more,” she muttered.
The lance was intended to reach 250 cm.
“Just a bit more and you won’t have to go to all that effort, Othinus.”
With those last 50 cm, the world would change.
It did not matter how many new enemies arrived.
Fertility Goddess Freyja held a key that ensured her victory.
While ignoring the tunnel ceiling growing lower again, she stared at her enemies and shouted.
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Hildisvíni!”
She threw a jewel, a great amount of wet red thread wrapped around it, and a boar was born.
That was all she had to do.
Hildisvíni was the beast the goddess Freyja rode in Norse mythology. She would have it play that role here. Even Freyja would be killed instantly if she jumped from the fast-moving train, but she could survive with a cushion between herself and the ground. She would use the boar for that.
Now she merely had to send Níðhöggr Vol. 02 charging in from behind. The attack would fill the entire tunnel and smash the train to pieces.
That would annihilate her enemies.
Both Freyja and her enemies would be thrown into the air, but Freyja alone would have a cushion to allow herself to escape unscathed.
No matter how dirty the method, she would make sure to protect her mother.
She would not let anyone lay another finger on her.
“Destroy everything, Níðhöggr Vol. 02!!”
She gave the final command.
That giant dragon gained an extra burst of speed as if crossing the final line.
That dragon had cost 70 jewels. Even if it ran headlong into a ten-car linear motor train, it would smash the train without taking any damage itself.
Something happened just before the dragon struck.
Mikoto jumped back as if performing a backflip.
Powerful magnetism pulled her forcefully toward the back of the train. It looked like she was throwing a dropkick with the force of a shell. That short and slender girl would be smashed to a pulp the instant she touched any spot on the tunnel, but she did not hesitate to jump from the safe zone and toward Níðhöggr Vol. 02.
The greatest roar yet burst out.
And that roar was followed by many more.
As Mikoto launched herself horizontally toward the dragon, she could be seen pulling several arcade coins from her skirt.
She fired repeatedly at point blank range.
This was the attack that gave her the nickname of Railgun and she fired it again and again to her heart’s content.
The entire tunnel shook ominously and small fragments fell from the ceiling.
The giant dragon’s advance was stopped in an instant.
Freyja and the others’ on the moving train saw what could only be called its remnants disappearing. Their minds had numbed to the point that they could understand nothing more than that.
Now that Níðhöggr Vol. 02 could not destroy the train, Freyja had to rethink her entire plan.
But Kamijou Touma and Index were not going to give her that time.
Just as the tunnel ceiling rose up, the two of them took a large step forward.
They boldly moved straight toward her.
Fertility Goddess Freyja scattered many, many jewels across the roof. Brísingamen was especially popular and well-known even within Norse mythology, so it had been studied by plenty of researchers. Nevertheless, it remained a black box with unknown effects and unknown symbolism. When she threw the core which held that name, she would construct a unique spell using the mother’s body and the womb.
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Þrymr.”
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Hrímfaxi.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Hymir.”
“Cost 1. White. Call / / Huginn.”
“Cost 1. Black. Call / / Svaðilfari.”
Who would produce what and what would eat what? She spread her options as wide as she could. She could force her way through with numbers or she could crush them with one giant monster. She expanded a spider web-like flowchart that allowed her to adapt to any number of situations.
“S F O C I C R Y S!! (Fill in the missing gear of the song for the blessed child!!)”
Freyja’s entire body stiffened as the white nun gave her incantation.
This was Spell Intercept.
Index used a shorthand code called Notarikon to interfere with an opposing magician’s incantation and take control of the spell. Index could not refine magic power on her own, but she had put together this single compilation of skills to take part in battles using the supernatural power known as magic.
That girl took all the knowledge contained in the 103,000 grimoires stored in her head to instantly analyze her opponent’s attack method, search out the most effective method of interfering, and use that against her enemy.
At the same time, Kamijou Touma spoke to Index who was facing the enemy magician.
He told her to analyze the magic being used to give birth to those “children”.
“Now that I think about it, it didn’t really make sense,” said Kamijou after letting out a slow breath. “You said you worked to protect your mother from within her womb. But how and where did you learn magic? Was your mother a magician? Perhaps, but seeing as your magic is specialized toward giving birth to ‘children’, I can guess what it is all based on. Do you know what that is?”
“Magic used to safely give birth to your child,” said Kamijou as if thrusting the words at her. “The original magic was made to ensure you were safely born! I don’t know if that was a spell involving an actual procedure or if it was nothing but a magic charm, but it wasn’t something meant to hurt people!! You remade it into attack magic so you could join Gremlin. If that’s true…!!”
“So what if it is?” asked Freyja with a voice so low it sounded like she was chanting a curse. “No matter what it originally was, it failed in the end!! If I leave my mother and she loses my support, she will be unable to even breathe. She will die. But if I stay in here, her sense of self will gradually fade away. Either way, I can’t protect her with any normal means!! I can’t escape this dead end without a magic god’s power to make the impossible possible!!”
“Then let Index finish it. Let her use her collection of knowledge that can reach the level of a magic god if used all together!!” replied Kamijou Touma without a moment’s hesitation. “Those 103,000 grimoires can bring this to an end without the power of a magic god!! You could say you and your mother have reversed the normal relationship between a mother and fetus. Until a certain point, the fetus lives off of the blood, nutrients, and oxygen of the mother, but a switch is thrown so the child can supply all of those on her own once she is born. This is the same. If we can reveal the spell meant to allow the child a safe birth and send it into the mother that is fully reliant on you, your mother should be able to keep her heart beating on her own just as when a child leaves its mother!!”
The magician named Freyja was using her mother’s senses to make her way through the world, but she was actually a tiny life curled up in that mother’s stomach. In that instant, she was unable to grasp the identity of what it was descending upon her.
The world was overwhelmingly dark and filled with malice pressing against her from all sides. She had been hated by a great number of people even before being born and her mother had desperately tried to protect her amid all that.
Just how great a disadvantage would her birth be?
Even as her mother’s body was about to break while desperately working to support her, someone had attacked that mother.
Unable to fight back, she had been knocked to the dark road surface. At the very, very end, she had used her hands to protect not her own head but her large stomach. That was likely why the mother’s life had been damaged beyond the point of no return.
And so Freyja had given up.
She had given up on hoping for anything from that dark world. The one soft and bright thing in her life had been cruelly taken for someone else’s benefit. In a world in which even that would be taken, there could not be any light remaining whatsoever.
And so she had not hesitated to twist the laws of that world.
As her mother lay on the road with something crucial broken within her body, Freyja had not hesitated to take control of that body. She had instinctually known that her mother would stop breathing otherwise. And she had already decided she would do anything to protect her mother. What she had needed to do first was exterminate the masked attacker who stood before her mother’s eyes.
And so she had distanced herself from the warm future her mother had wished for her.
That mother had been a truly harmless woman who knew nothing of magic. At some point, she had learned a magic charm to give birth to a healthy baby and she had desperately repeated it over and over. Freyja had thoroughly analyzed that charm down to its numerical values and the logic behind it. She had rewritten it and built up the magic she needed to endure fighting in that dark world filled with nothing but bogs and shed blood. She crushed her mother’s ideals in order to save that mother.
She had needed no reason.
She had never thought up a single excuse.
She had not seen herself as having fallen so low as to worry about that kind of thing when it came to rescuing her mother’s life.
For one thing, Freyja’s current state was not normal by any stretch of the imagination.
Normally thinking, a fetus could never control the mother. Even if the pregnancy had lasted two years and even if she had taken control of a portion of the mother’s brain, she should not have been able to fully use logic and language at such in immature state.
She had used magic to twist all of that.
Index was attempting to accurately analyze it all.
It went beyond how she used the Brísingamen jewels as an attack. Index was essentially attempting to hack into the single system known as Fertility Goddess Freyja that was made up of the mother and the fetus.
“I decided I would protect my mother no matter what I had to do. Even if I had to sell my soul to a magic god and even if I had to spill great amounts of innocent blood as a pawn of Gremlin, I decided I would do this! I decided I would do it myself!!”
“It’s over,” cut in Kamijou. He repeated himself. “It’s over now. You no longer have to use that bare hostility as a weapon to protect your mother. That horrible unfairness is over, Freyja. You can trust people now.”
A great cry exploded out.
It was accompanied by a heavy roar.
A large man and a giant horse had taken a step forward. They were both made from a complex collection of wet red thread.
There was no meaning in this fight.
Now that Fertility Goddess Freyja no longer had to obey Magic God Othinus, she had no more reason to fight for Gremlin.
The reason Freyja did not back down was because she did not know how to trust people.
But Kamijou did not think that was wrong or meaningless.
After all, it was completely natural.
That was something she could learn bit by bit after being born and facing this wide world.
What was wrong was the great burden that much too small body had borne for so long.
Kamijou once more stepped forward to face the approaching threat.
He spoke without turning around.
“I’ll take out everything that tries to interfere. I’ll buy you the time you need to prepare. You can focus on this one thing without worrying.”
He stared forward.
He confronted those monsters of muscle that held frightening strength.
He confronted them and he spoke.
“So do this.”
Kamijou and the monsters ran full speed toward each other.
Their clash lasted an instant.
While it was an important element that would decide the trend of the situation, it was a trivial matter that did not produce a single scratch.
The white nun muttered an accurate incantation under her breath.
The young child trying to protect her mother let out a bestial cry.
Kamijou naturally smiled as he used his right fist to blow away the monsters of muscle that were made up of dark red thread wrapped around a jewel.
“It’s over, Freyja,” he said without thinking.
All of this had just been a long rehearsal. Her true performance was yet to come.
“So let’s end this and bring on the next age. We’re waiting for you in the wide world ahead of you!!”
The battered train left the dark, dark tunnel.
And it entered the bright, white sunlight.
The train no longer held any monsters with the strength to crush a human in a single blow or any Gremlin magicians who possessed the frightening power and skills needed to keep the head of a nation from acting.
“Um, excuse me. Where am I?”
This was the same pregnant woman as before, but she asked that question with a frailty that was completely different from before.
This was no longer a mother whose fetus had been forced to take control to keep her alive.
This mother and child were no different from those found anywhere.
The train carrying Kamijou, Index, and Freyja continued on. Freyja had lost consciousness as if sleeping and Kamijou and Index did their best to stay down. They did not want to be thrown from the roughly shaking train and the ceiling came frighteningly low at some points, so they did not want to stand up if they could avoid it.
The subway train continued all the way to Tokyo Station before stopping.
“Damn. So it won’t take us all the way to Tokyo Bay. Moving to a different train is a pain right now.”
Shinbashi or Shiodome would have been closer to Tokyo Bay. It was not that far from here, but that distance would feel a lot longer while walking through those crowds. They had to think up some other means of travelling.
For some reason, the large station was completely deserted. The main entrances may have been sealed off early on and the remaining people may have been led out through the staff entrances and evacuation corridors. They had actually wanted people out so they could use the station themselves, but the official reason had likely been to protect the people from being killed by the smoke if a fire broke out.
This subway facility had handled the situation very differently from the one on Shinjuku.
That alone showed just how confused the station workers were.
(What? The platform is covered in tons of wooden boxes.)
They could not stay on the train’s roof forever. If it set off again, they would not be able to climb down.
Kamijou had been worried because over half the train’s cars had been damaged or derailed, but after climbing down and checking inside, it seemed the train had held no normal passengers. A single man sat in the driver’s seat and the passenger areas were filled with tons of wooden boxes.
Kamijou did not even need to check on the contents.
The man in the driver’s seat did not look like a normal driver hired by the railroad company. The camouflage he wore was a dead giveaway.
(The riot police or the JSDF are using the railroad to transport materials. Those boxes aren’t full of ammunition, are they?)
He was worried because a dragon had broken through the roof of one of the passenger cars and several of the cars had derailed, but it seemed no one had been hurt.
Freyja may have intentionally set it up that way.
That child had been fighting against the unfairness of the world to protect her mother, so she may have wanted to avoid sullying her mother’s hands as much as possible.
Kamijou wondered how difficult it had been to get Gremlin to recognize her as a useful member of that inhuman organization.
“At any rate, the driver looks fine.”
Kamijou knocked on the door to the driver’s area and called out to the man but received no response. He and his organization had likely been trying to stop Gremlin’s invasion in their own way, but he had apparently fallen into mental shock upon seeing Gremlin’s destructive power up close.
Index spoke from the roof.
“Touma, what should we do?”
“I’m probably a high priority target for Gremlin. Not because of my strength or anything but because my right hand can stop the production of that lance. The best way of keeping her safe would be to keep her as far away from us as we can.”
On the other hand, they could not just leave Fertility Goddess Freyja while she was unconscious. She was a member of Gremlin and could possibly regain her great strength under the right conditions.
Gremlin would want to capture her to regain her power and the defenders would want to capture her to defend against Gremlin’s invasion.
“I see. So you give top priority to the girl. I see, I see,” said Index.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, so why are you glaring at me like I’m a terrible person?”
Either due to passing out or due to the child inside her stomach, the woman in the maternity dress showed no sign of waking up after closing her eyes that first time.
According to Index, her breathing and heart rate were normal. However, her sense of self was quite thin due to giving control of her body to someone else for two years. It would apparently take some time before she could naturally accept that role back and fully regain control of her own body. It would be similar to regaining feeling in a limb that had gone to sleep.
It took some doing to lower her from the train roof.
Fortunately, Index’s spell to return control from the fetus to the mother was not needed after the switch had been made. That meant Kamijou could touch the mother with his right hand with no ill effects.
Index worked from above and Kamijou worked from below to lower the calmly sleeping woman to the platform.
Index looked like she was about to jump down after her, but Kamijou frantically recommended she instead use the ladder on the side of the train.
“Touma, I hear a clanking sound.”
“It seems the other tracks are running, too. They may be using Tokyo Station as a relay point for transporting supplies.”
“That sign is covered in so many colorful lines that I can’t tell what it means!”
“The Japanese salarymen who can read this really are amazing.”
They walked down some stairs, headed for a different subway platform, climbed over the ticket barrier, and succeeded in boarding a different train. The subway train was being used as a cargo train, so the car was filled with wooden boxes. That gave them plenty of places to hide. And due to the structure of the train, all of the doors opened when boxes were being loaded or unloaded, so sneaking aboard was easy as well.
“If this place was safe, we could leave Freyja with the station workers.”
“You aren’t going to?”
“If this station is being used as a central supply base, Gremlin might target it. And if the people working here learn Freyja is a member of Gremlin, things could get bad.”
As the train shook, it took them to the harbor area that bordered Tokyo Bay.
Just as Kamijou thought they would arrive at the station, the train passed right by and continued through the tunnel. It came out above ground and arrived at a switchyard near the bay.
“Is this Shinbashi? No, Shiodome?”
Kamijou lived within the walls of Academy City, so he had little knowledge of the 23 special wards in the city. However, even he had to tilt his head here. Was there a switchyard in a place like this?
It may have been a facility belonging to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency or Ministry of Defense that had not been officially announced. But if that was the case, an amateur like him would find nothing if he searched the internet for the answer.
Once again, all of the doors opened.
“Let’s get off here. …Help me out, Index. I’ll climb to the ground first and you take care of Freyja.”
Meanwhile, a rubber boat with an engine attached passed by along a nearby river. It was headed toward the mouth of the river.
Kamijou recognized the girls on board.
They also noticed him, so the rubber military landing boat decelerated, made a U-turn, and came right up to the edge of the switchyard.
“You’ve caught yourself another strange girl? And this one’s pregnant?”
It was Birdway.
She was operating the tiller and engine while Lessar and Kumokawa Maria sat in the boat.
Index looked like she was about to be crushed under the weight of the woman and it would be a big deal if she was dropped, so Kamijou could not leave Freyja (technically, it was her mother) with Index. However, if Kamijou held that sleeping woman in his arms, it seemed things would develop in an amusing but chaotic direction.
“You three would be amazed if you knew what’s happened while you’ve been leisurely floating around.”
But something else happened before he could get to an actual explanation.
With the sound of scattering sparks, Misaka Mikoto fell from the sky and used magnetism to land on the metal railing alongside the river mouth.
“Honestly!! You make that big announcement about fighting together and then leave me behind after the very first attack!? …And why are you forcing yourself on the pregnant woman who was trying to kill you not long ago?”
“Please let me answer one question at a time!! You’re chaining them together like some kind of competitive puzzle game!!”
A great number of sparks appeared along the path of the rubber boat and Misaka Mikoto’s descent. Between fifty and one hundred flame figures appeared, so they did not have time to stand around talking.
Birdway held up her wand and Misaka Mikoto flicked a coin up with her thumb.
With a great roar, the army of automatic soldiers was blown to pieces before it could begin to attack.
Lessar calmly placed a hand over her eyes and looked off into the distance.
“Hmm. It really does look like these attack automatically if you exceed a certain speed. Does it check over a distance of 10 meters?”
“I ran into some at the subway station. Is that what calls them in?”
“By the way, I’m perfectly fine with a guy who can’t help but go for a pregnant woman.”
“I’m not fine with that!!” protested Kamijou.
Kumokawa Maria wore a maid uniform colored in black and yellow like a bee and she slowly looked away from Kamijou.
“That’s going a bit far for me. I know you should try to value as many things as you can, but that’s just…yeah…”
“It’s going a bit far for me, too!! What is with this? Can no one see anything but what they want to see? If you think you can escape your lack of knowledge by typing your favorite words into a search engine, you are sorely mistaken!!”
However, he did not have time to spend hours solving the misunderstandings. For one thing, Kamijou Touma’s life was made up of a series of those misunderstandings. The bitter flavor of his life was stronger than that of a pain reliever made from 50% kindness.
Birdway smacked the cover of the rubber boat’s engine.
“Well, at least we managed to meet up. Gremlin’s base of Sargasso is located on Tokyo Bay. We’ll be heading straight there. They may have destroyed the major roads and railroads to set up a thick barricade of living flesh with the crowds filling Tokyo, but that has no effect on the ocean. Now that we’ve come this far, it finally looks like we can actually do something.”
“Magic God Othinus.”
“I have serious doubts whether that monster can be killed with direct strength. However, she’s currently producing that lance. If we interfere in the large-scale ceremony that Gremlin is pouring all of their power into, the energy that has lost anywhere to go will bare its fangs toward the spell user. Even if we can’t kill her, there is a decent possibility her own power can be used to kill her.”
Most likely, none of them fully approved of the word “kill” being used there, but they all knew Gremlin had to be stopped. Setting aside the question of how far they would go, they needed to prevent Magic God Othinus from doing anything more.
“If you understand, then get aboard. We can’t waste any more time. …And don’t tell me you plan to bring that pregnant woman along with you.”
“To be honest, I can’t figure out what to do with her. Do you think the hospitals are running properly right now? And is there a safe route to get her there? From what I heard, the child has been in there for two years. I have no idea what will happen or when, so I can’t just leave her in some warm place and-…”
He trailed off because a powerful gust of wind blew through.
A shadow appeared overhead.
Kamijou looked up and his face stiffened.
It was Níðhöggr.
That giant monster which had glared down at the people from the top of the tower earlier was now soaring very close nearby.
That dark red dragon passed above Kamijou and the others and then slowly circled around in midair. After turning 180 degrees, it charged toward them again.
The first pass had been to locate its enemies in preparation.
The second pass was the attack.
As the dragon charged at them with tremendous speed, it showed no concern about striking the ground. It flapped its wings to pick up more speed as if it was fine with creating a giant crater in the ground and causing that coastal area to crumble and allow seawater in.
With his hands full due to holding the woman in a maternity dress, Kamijou shouted to Mikoto.
“I thought you defeated that thing!”
“I did!! This one is a lot bigger. It looks easily over 100 meters long! If a mass that large slams into the ground with the speed needed to catch up to a supersonic passenger plane…!”
“This is different from those sparks from before. It has some special conditions for attacking.”
“Does it have to do with that pregnant woman?”
Birdway and Lessar prepared strange spiritual items.
Níðhöggr may not have been trying to exterminate them. Fertility Goddess Freyja had been the primary person sealing off Tokyo, so her defeat may have triggered a rescue attempt by the dragon. It may have been ordered to do that from the beginning.
But it was all for nothing.
Freyja no longer wanted to be rescued by Gremlin and this violent method would smash both enemy and ally to pieces. Freyja may have originally intended to provide adjustments for this simple rescue order, but she could not do so anymore.
The impact from that great mass would tear into the planet.
None of them could stop it.
Even if they tried to run, they could not escape that dragon. The destruction would be on too large a scale and it was not a simple mass of stone falling from the sky. It flapped its giant wings to adjust its course and accelerate. It would follow them if they tried to run, so they had no way to escape.
The enemy was approaching from the sky, so Kamijou and Kumokawa Maria’s hand-to-hand combat was of no use.
They could only rely on Misaka Mikoto, Birdway, and Lessar.
But could those three push that dragon back?
Kamijou glanced around in search of something to use as a shield or wall, but he found nothing. The switchyard had a number of trains stopped in it and it had warehouses that were likely used for maintenance, but none of those were strong enough to withstand this attack.
They had to worry about both the initial impact and the immense shockwave it produced.
The trains would roll like empty snack boxes and the warehouses would be smashed flat. When the attack would eliminate all unevenness in the area and leave only empty land behind, thinking about cover was hopeless.
“What can I do!?”
“Stay out the way!!” roared Birdway.
A coin was fired at three times the speed of sound and multiple explosions followed behind it.
It did have an effect.
The dragon’s silhouette crumbled as if its temporary flesh was being torn away.
However, the dragon ignored it.
Níðhöggr continued charging toward the ground at full speed.
(It didn’t work!!)
Kamijou began to squeeze his eyes shut.
But then he saw something else.
He saw a man’s silhouette.
The man grabbed a crane’s wire and flew through the air like a pendulum. He appeared in the space between the dragon and the ground. Níðhöggr did not hesitate to tear this intrusion to pieces with its giant maw. The man made no attempt to dodge. His body was taken between the dragon’s teeth and the destruction began.
It was as if the man had wanted that.
Immediately afterwards, a bluish-white blade of light extended from the dragon’s mouth and sliced its giant body two or three times.
“Ah…” said Kumokawa Maria without thinking from aboard the rubber boat.
She recognized the silhouette.
She recognized that man who had constructed a spell to neutralize only the fatal wounds he received and a sword spell that amplified its tremendous sharpness the more he was injured.
The man had not sliced the dragon into pieces.
That would have left the pieces of that giant corpse to rain down on the switchyard. The countless flashes of that sword of light did not fully slice through the dragon’s body. He left the pieces attached like vegetables cut by a terrible cook.
All he needed was air resistance.
He needed to throw off the dragon’s balance.
Níðhöggr’s giant body could no longer maintain its orientation, so the direction of its flight greatly changed as if a giant invisible hand were moving it off course. The dragon now headed toward the river instead of the land and it crashed into the water, starting with its battered head. Water flew in every direction with incredible force and the rubber boat shook, but that was all. A hopeless situation similar to an asteroid strike did not occur.
The man in the air twisted his body around a few times to adjust the direction of his fall and landed on the gravel-covered ground after falling from a height of over ten meters. The bluish-white blade of light extending from between his index finger and middle finger slowly disappeared.
He was Bersi.
He was Kihara Kagun.
This man was officially a member of Gremlin and had supposedly died during the commotion in Baggage City. He had risen again with the power of Magic God Othinus, but that had not meant his life had been saved or that he was once more working for Gremlin of his own will.
He was still dead even now.
He had completely lost the life force he should have produced. Instead, he was a doll that never rotted and moved using the magic power injected into him from outside.
The look in Birdway and Lessar’s eyes showed those two girls of the magic side had silently put up their guards.
But Kumokawa Maria was a bit different.
Kihara Kagun was acting somehow different from the lifeless doll she had seen at the end of the incident in Baggage City.
And finally, she found it.
There was a slight scar on the back of his neck.
The eyepatch-wearing girl in Sargasso narrowed her one eye slightly and looked up.
That man had once devoted everything to take revenge on and kill a certain Kihara.
He had thought of every possibility and left behind backdoors with which to escape any dilemma.
One of his ideas was a countermeasure for a very dirty and Kihara-like method.
From the beginning, Kihara Kagun had considered a certain hopeless possibility.
What if he failed in his revenge and, upon his defeat to Kihara Byouri, control of his physical body was taken in some way? What if he was ordered to attack one of the people he most wanted to avoid baring his fangs against?
To escape such a situation…
“There’s something embedded in here,” muttered Kumokawa Maria. “That freed him from being controlled like a doll!!”
It was nothing more than a small semiconductor.
A list of how Kihara Kagun would act given certain conditions had been inserted as a string of 1s and 0s. Kihara Kagun was not thinking using the brain of Kihara Kagun.
However, a tiny effect would appear only when he was forced to do something that was “not like him”.
He wanted to ensure that he would take the actions that were “like him” based on the list he had inputted into the device.
1. He would exterminate his enemy, Kihara Byouri.
2. As long as it did not interfere with 1, he would limit the loss of life of both enemy and ally as much as possible.
3. To achieve 2, the damage or destruction of anything other than human life was allowable.
No one but Kihara Kagun himself knew those rules. He had already fought a few times along the coast of Tokyo Bay in order to fulfill those conditions.
It was not limited to this attack on Níðhöggr.
He had only run across Kumokawa Maria by coincidence and had recklessly tried to save the people there while he saved Freyja.
It was the same as that time when he had held a shovel and stood before a killer in order to protect a few children.
He would no longer say anything to her.
That device most likely did not support something so complicated.
No one could ever know the truth of the matter.
“I’m going to stay here,” said Kumokawa Maria.
She stepped out of the rubber boat and onto the concrete bank of the river.
“Someone needs to take this pregnant woman to a safe place, right? I’ll take her. …And she might not be the only one in an urgent situation. Even if the rest of you go to defeat the cause of all this, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone in the city, right?”
Kumokawa Maria slowly took Freyja from Kamijou’s arms.
“You understand…right?” asked Kamijou.
“I have already accepted that he is dead,” she readily said. “This is just the last remaining trace. It’s like finding his will after the fact. Most likely, he wasn’t trying to save me. Nor was he only trying to save this woman. …In the end, he hasn’t changed. He tries to save everyone around him even if it wears away every last piece of his own body. Someone needs to reward his foolish selfishness.”
She was not trying to run from reality.
She did not think she could save this moving corpse.
In that case, it was her problem.
Kamijou Touma had no right to stop her.
“We’re counting on you, then.”
“We’re counting on you, too.”
With that short exchange, Kamijou Touma and Kumokawa Maria went on their separate ways.
The boy climbed aboard the rubber boat along with Index and Misaka Mikoto.
Birdway steered the small boat away from the shore.
They continued into the fog-like steam covering Tokyo Bay.
They moved toward Gremlin’s base of Sargasso.
As Kihara Kagun moved his feet as precisely as the second hand of a clock, Kumokawa Maria followed behind with the pregnant woman in her arms.
She had not noticed before, but a large number of men in camouflage were collapsed in the area. They seemed to be riot police and JSDF members.
Most likely, they were volunteers who had attempted to fight Gremlin without knowing what a threat the group was.
The armored vehicles and self-propelled guns had been sliced to pieces, but the people were almost entirely unscathed. If a single shell had been fired at Gremlin, the counterattack would have caused such great destruction that the people would have been smashed into too many pieces to count. Kumokawa Maria could clearly imagine that simple truth after what she had seen in Baggage City.
Kihara Kagun had carried out an obvious act of destruction.
It may have been a quick decision after receiving an order from Gremlin.
However, he had ultimately protected the lives of his enemies.
Seeing that, Kumokawa Maria knew that man never would have changed.
She had once viewed him with nothing but respect and admiration, but her impression of him had changed after her short but deep contact with him.
He was definitely not suited to being part of a household.
She doubted he could fit within the structure of society even in his job.
No matter how old he grew, he spoke seriously of dreams and ideals, he refused to look at problems realistically, and he smiled at the small results he gained even as he lost so much more. That was likely who he truly had been. He had not been perfect. In fact, his personality had contained more negatives and problems than anything else. While young, Kumokawa Maria had just so happened to see the lovely side of him.
However, she did not feel disappointed.
In fact, even if it was all over, she felt fortunate to have seen the human side of him that was closer to his true self.
She no longer distorted her view of him or deified him.
She could now speak properly about this man who had been lost.
“I’ll stay with you.”
Kumokawa Maria walked alongside that man while holding that unconscious pregnant woman in her arms.
“I have no choice, so I’ll stay with you. Just like leaving flowers by a grave, this is nothing more than self-satisfaction, but what’s wrong with one person being led around by this awkward will? I will not stop you anymore. Just like in Baggage City, you will probably wear away every last piece of your body to achieve your goal, but I will watch over you as you do so.”
That man gave no response.
She knew he would not.
This was a living human replying to a will.
It was no different from speaking to a grave.
Kumokawa Maria did not think it was meaningless. Just because those words would not reach anyone’s ears and just because science could not prove her actions would accomplish anything, this was not something one could make light of.
“Once you see this selfishness through until you cannot move a finger, you truly lose your human form, and you face true death as nothing but a pile of flesh, then we can return to our city.”
Below that chilly November sky, a certain girl was able to stand next to a certain man after several years had passed.
In that instant, she accepted the death of someone she cared about. That was an instant anyone had to overcome at some point.