Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume9 Chapter 6b
Chapter 6: Shifting and Fluctuating World. Version_Beta.
He was in Academy City. Specifically, he was in the usual classroom of his school.
His classmates were away from their desks and freely enjoying themselves. Their teacher was not present. The smell of lunches reached his nose.
It seemed he had fallen asleep while lying on his desk at lunchtime.
“Kamijou” slowly tilted his head.
“What was that just now?”
His palms were covered in sweat, but he found no stab wound when he reached for the side of his uniform. His left arm was not broken either.
It made sense.
That horrible hell of flames, smoke, rubble, and blood would never happen in real life.
But even so, “Kamijou” found it hard to breathe for a while.
Once he patted himself down and found he was not even scratched, he finally breathed a sigh of relief.
“What are you doing, ‘Kamijou Touma’?”
He heard an exasperated voice from a nearby desk.
It was Fukiyose Seiri.
Her long black hair, forehead, and bountiful breasts were her primary features.
“Are your burns okay!? You don’t seem to be bleeding. Are you sure you don’t need a doctor!?”
“W-w-wait! Why are you groping me all over the-… Where the do you think you’re touching me!!”
After a wonderfully healthy sound of impact, “Kamijou” rolled across the classroom, knocking away several chairs and desks in the process.
“I do not know what kind of dream you were having, but how about you wake up!?”
“Eh? Ah? …A dream?”
“Kamijou” stared blankly at her.
That was when Aogami Pierce and Tsuchimikado Motoharu leaned in to join the conversation.
“Meh heh heh. We all have those dreams, but only Kami-yan would go right ahead and start groping her.”
“Yeah, what was with that? Grabbing at Fukiyose’s melons while half asleep is quite the technique, Kami-yan! I certainly don’t have the courage to do it with such a straight face!! So this is how a true master does it!!”
“Okay, you two. Thank you for volunteering to participate in a scientific experiment to see if heaven exists.”
With that deadpan comment, “Kamijou” climbed up onto his desk and jumped down to attack his horrible friends.
Aogami Pierce and Tsuchimikado Motoharu caught the attack and then lifted him extremely unsteadily up into the air. At the same moment, the classroom door slid open.
“Kamijou” assumed their homeroom teacher Tsukuyomi Komoe had rushed in upon hearing the commotion.
“ ‘Touma’! I’m not satisfied with the lunch you left for me! I’ve suggested it countless times, but now I have to make an official request to introduce a second lunch!!”
“You ‘have to’!? And how is that a reason for someone as suspicious-looking as you to barge into our school!? …Wah! Stop it, you idiots! Don’t silently toss me up into the air like that! I’m going to hit the ceiling! And how can you two lift me up so easi-…egch!?”
“Okay, it’s time for our first afternoon lesson.”
Meanwhile, Komoe-sensei arrived despite the chime not having rung yet.
“Today, we will be referencing the records and testimony related to Mifune Chizuko, an esper who existed before the establishment of the quantum theory system. We will-… Eeeee!? Wh-wh-why is ‘Kamijou’-chan hanging down with his head stuck in the classroom ceiling!?”
“Who would’ve thought there was a duct opening there?” commented Aogami Pierce. “Hm? Wait a sec. I-is this the beginning of a long, long afterschool labyrinth leading to the captivating girl’s locker room?”
“I’m more interested in how Komoe-sensei immediately knew it was Kami-yan despite everyone wearing the same uniform from the neck down, nyah.”
Once “Kamijou” realized no one was going to save him, he took action himself.
He pressed his palms against the ceiling and pushed to force his body downwards.
He let out what sounded like the cry of a pervert who had awoken to a strange new path and his head popped out of the ceiling. Freed from his restraints, “Kamijou” fell upside-down, struck his back on his own desk, and ended up writhing in pain on the floor.
A group of girls in one corner of the class began shouting.
“Quiet down, ‘Kamijou’! Your loud voice is scaring the kitty.”
“Uryah! You can have the salmon flakes left in the corner of my bento box☆”
Index refused to stay silent when she saw this.
“Sphinx has already gained his next meal without me!? ‘Touma’, th-that is exactly what I mean by a second lunch!!”
“D-do you not know how to feel worried about your landlord or feel happy for the satisfaction of your cat?”
“Kamijou” was literally having trouble breathing, but the white nun did not seem to care.
She showed no sign of leaving until she was given a new world of bread and rice, but the cafeteria and school store would be sold out with the lunch break almost at its end. This would primarily be a problem for Komoe-sensei. His classmates would love skipping their first afternoon class, but “Kamijou” had no intention of being the bad Santa who provided that kind of outlaw’s dream.
And so he made a suggestion.
“What is it, ‘Touma’-san!?”
“You can have a scraped-together meal here or you can be patient and have a luxurious dinner tonight. Which will you choose?”
Almost every event linked directly to food with the girl named Index, so her concept of love did not seem very developed. And her idea of a school likely had all the windows broken, all the partitions and stall walls broken in the bathrooms, and modified motorcycles running through the halls. Her worldview was in a post-apocalyptic state.
“Oden! I’ve heard that Japan’s oden is one of the world’s leading healthy hot pot dishes. You can eat as much as you want without getting sick!!”
“I-Is this a miracle I’m witnessing? That gluttonous monster actually has the sense to worry about her health and cholesterol!?”
“Fine. Today we can have a merciless oden fever! My finances may be just barely scraping by, but this is no time to worry about that! If this isn’t a time to celebrate, what the hell is!?”
“ ‘Touma’! Wait, ‘Touma’! I didn’t like the sound of some of that, so don’t continue on before I can get angry! Let’s take care of it all one by one!”
“For a week starting tomorrow, every meal will be nothing but bread crust and a clear soup of broth watered down five times, but that’s okay, right!? It’s all for the sake of today’s oden fever, so we have no choice!!”
“ ‘Touma’, you just said something really important! I’m disturbingly on board with this idea, but let’s calm down and think it through!!”
Index was actually applying the brakes for once, but “Kamijou” refused to give in once he had decided on something.
As he dragged the white nun along, he did not head for the usual ultra-cheap supermarket. Index’s fear grew as she saw them approach the department store district in front of the train station. At this rate, she might really have to live off of bread crust while reminiscing on the oden from tonight.
The calico cat on her head gave a carefree mew. His food was already divided up by day in a paper carton back in the apartment.
Two sisters walked along the path home from school.
They were Kumokawa Seria and Kumokawa Maria.
One was the brains behind one of Academy City’s board members and she controlled people’s hearts purely with her words rather than with an esper power. The other had an ability named Violence Donut that allowed her to manipulate centrifugal force and she was training at Ryouran Maid School to be a top-rate maid. (Her power had nothing to do with being a maid.)
They were both nice to look at, but the younger sister snapped at the older sister as they walked alongside each other.
“You changed where you’re living again, didn’t you!? I won’t ask about the details, but at least contact me if you’re going to move!”
“Yawn… I do have my reasons, you know? Also, does it really matter if I don’t tell my family about it right away? It’s not like I have a serious chronic disease and we’ll still live in the same city no matter where I move.”
“It would be fine if the few days it takes me to find your new place wasn’t enough for the area around the kitchen sink to reach such a disastrous state that it almost destroys my ideas of femininity. Living in an apartment instead of a student dorm is great, but you have to be more careful when leasing.”
“Don’t the dishes from that delivery service turn to oil if you leave them out? Decomposition is a part of the food chain.”
“That’s how you attract flies and roaches! Do I need to explain this to you from the parts that give me goose bumps just to think about!?”
Based on independent research conducted by Ryouran Maid School, its students’ families tended to have people who were terrible with all housework, so all the work was usually left to the maids-in-training. However, it seemed pampering them too much could be a problem.
“On the other hand, I’m relieved.”
“That your obsession with working only applies to your sister. I was worried you would go live in some guy’s house.”
“Specifically, I thought you would end up living with my school’s spiky-haired boy.”
“It wasn’t me you were worried about at all!! And he may have saved me in Baggage City, but my feelings never went beyond normal gratitude. I don’t plan to steal your favorite boy, so you don’t have to spy on me like that.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am still perfectly calm.”
“Then why do I see tears in your eyes and why are your legs trembling?”
She was an expert at manipulating people’s hearts, but it seemed her own heart was the exception. And the “heroic tales” of Academy City’s #5, which Maria had heard via her classmate Tsuchimikado Maika, suggested that Level 5 was the same.
Just as Maria let out a sigh, she heard a boy and girl shouting behind her.
“ ‘Touma’! I want to ask you something before we get to the oden! Why were you so surprised to hear I’m worried about my weight and my health!?”
“That doesn’t matter!! What matters is that we go with this miraculous flow and buy the ingredients for some oden! After all, there’s always the risk of you waking up from this delusion and demanding a fried chicken festival instead!!!!!!”
“How can you say it doesn’t matter!? I-I won’t let you go any further!!”
“Stop that, you idiot. Don’t grab my hand and slam on the brakes like a spoiled child. …Wah!? Don’t just let go all of a sudden either!!”
Hearing a strange comical sound effect, the Kumokawa sisters both frowned.
“Hm?” they said in unison.
“Kamijou Touma” had suddenly shot forward and landed face up with his head between the legs of Kumokawa Maria’s bee-like maid outfit.
Time seemed to freeze.
The theory of relativity seemed to break down around “Kamijou Touma” as he entered the tunnel created by the girl’s legs and waist. Somewhere, Einstein had to be crying. In a way, this was a perfectly normal occurrence. It was so normal that Kumokawa Seria began to tremble.
“So you do have a connection!! That gratitude of yours was just the first step toward ensnaring him!!”
“What!? You’re mad at me instead of the one who did it!? Are you sure you aren’t turning into Hera from Greek mythology!?”
“Then let me ask you this: how do you feel about giving him a panoramic view of your underwear? I would think a normal person would reflexively jump back and try to end the situation as quickly as possible.”
“Because of my Violence Donut, I purposefully wear panties I’m fine with people seeing, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
“See!? If you have to choose yes or no, you’re leaning towards yes!!”
“By the way, is anyone going to do anything about this boy? He must have a lot of freedom.”
“I think she’s going to handle it.”
Kumokawa Seria used her thumb to point at a nun in a white habit who was approaching with a bewitching glitter in her eye.
Kumokawa Maria began to contemplate the unfairness of her sister glaring at her but showing no concern about the other girl.
“ ‘Touma’!! Get out of there right this instant! You look like someone hiding under a table during an earthquake!!”
“O-only because you grabbed my hand and suddenly let go.”
Hearing that high-pitched shout, “Kamijou Touma” frantically sat up as if his alarm clock had just gone off.
But that was a mistake.
He forgot to check above him.
The top of his head mercilessly struck the ceiling of the tunnel formed by Maria’s legs.
Even if she commonly imitated capoeira while wearing a miniskirt maid outfit, this was far enough out of the ordinary that her entire face and even her ears turned red.
“Wait! No! Stop! Bgh!?”
While confused as to what had happened, “Kamijou” felt a fist strike the back of his head through the skirt. He seriously thought it was going to leave a dent in his skull. As Kumokawa Seria watched on, a distant look entered her eyes.
“Ahh, I don’t know why I’m so surprised. This may be a horrible situation, but I knew this would happen if I didn’t do anything!!”
Meanwhile, Index gnashed her canine teeth and gave off enough of a predatory aura to remind the calico cat she held of its animal instincts.
“ ‘Touma’. I’m not going to explain anything more, but you understand what’s going to happen, right?”
The tiny people within “Kamijou Touma” (who were in charge of defense) spread their arms to block the way and warned him of the coming danger.
His instincts were boiling over as they told him to do whatever it took to avoid having the back of his head bitten open. And he found an extreme solution with incredible speed.
“Wah!! Wait! What are you doing!?”
“It’s called a piggyback ride!!” shouted “Kamijou” in desperation.
He changed his position within Kumokawa Maria’s miniskirt, stuck his head between her legs, gathered strength in his own legs, and groaned as he straightened his back.
Index was on standby to bite at the back of his head, but she gained a look of surprise when she finally realized how serious the situation was.
“Wh-what!? I want to bite at the back of your head, but I can’t attack because a girl’s butt and thighs are in the way!!”
“Mwa ha ha ha!! How much damage do you think my scalp has taken, Index!? …Actually, I’d like to know that myself. Anyway!! I have already analyzed your attack pattern!! Now, how about we bring this entire series of events to an end, little girl!?”
“Wah! This is scary! Stop it! I feel like I’m about to fall!!”
Kumokawa Maria cried out as she was more or less taken hostage to act as the human helmet to protect “Kamijou Touma’s” head. She was only at shoulder height, but the way she wobbled back and forth above the hard road was bad for her heart.
She instinctually gathered strength in her thighs to keep her balance, but the instant her soft flesh squeezed, an aura of malice flowed out from her older sister.
Meanwhile, “Kamijou” did not have time to worry about that.
A jinx had captured his heart. If he ended up bitten after taking such drastic measures, he feared nothing would ever work.
“Calm down, Index-san! Put away those fangs and give this a peaceful resolution. If you don’t, I’ll have to go buy the ingredients for oden like this! You don’t want to that, do you!?”
“I don’t want that either!! Are you going to carry me around on your shoulders as you shop!?”
“You’re right, ‘Touma’. If you’re willing to cause such a commotion, I guess I have to make a compromise. Specifically, I’ll master some techniques using my arms and legs!!”
“Please no! If you head down the course of a martial arts master, I won’t be any match for you!! Was I right and Index really is the final boss!?”
“W-wait. Don’t tell me you really do plan to walk through the city like this. St-stop. Don’t move your head like that. It’s rubbing against me.”
“By the way, why is that person on top of you grinning a little bit!?”
That was when something snapped within Kumokawa Seria.
Specifically, it was the “bag of patience” spoken of in the old days of Japan.
She cast aside her usual cool and intellectual aura of an upperclassman.
She leaped into the air while wearing her sailor uniform, gathered her feet, and performed a merciless dropkick on the center of “Kamijou Touma’s” back.
With a cry like a crushed frog, the boy flew forward. Left in the air above him, Maria fell down and was caught by Seria who had landed face up on the ground.
Meanwhile, “Kamijou Touma” could tell he was rolling along the ground, but his vision suddenly blacked out.
He panicked as he wondered what had happened, but he quickly caught on. He had once more ended up deep within someone’s skirt.
And the only person in front of him had been the white nun.
As he trembled in fear, the voice of the judge arrived from the heavens above.
“I hope you’re ready for some pain, ‘Touma’.”
She was true to her word.
After the “Kumokawa Maria is a Human Helmet!!” plan failed spectacularly, “Kamijou” fell prey to Index. The bee-colored maid-in-training then used her Violence Donut to damage all of his joints. Lastly, Kumokawa Seria inexplicably began stomping on him here and there with the heel of her loafer.
But “Kamijou Touma” refused to give up.
He had already decided they were eating oden that night.
Not to mention that Index’s anger showed no sign of dying down and the oden was necessary to extinguish those flames.
After parting ways with the angry Kumokawa sisters, “Kamijou” and Index entered the underground zone filled with high-class department stores they normally never allowed themselves inside.
It was once he saw the price tags that “Kamijou Touma” came back to his senses.
“Um…Index? I don’t think this is going to work.”
“But we came this far!”
“I’m not rejecting the idea of oden altogether. We’ll still have oden tonight. …Buuuut how about we go with an economical oden pack at the supermarket? Or we can get two or three different kinds at the convenience store and have a more extravagant version of our usual stir-fried vegetables, grilled fish, rice, and miso soup dinner.”
“I already saw the best one!! If we turn back now, this desire will never disappear. If we lower the grade now, my oden craving will remain within me no matter how much I eat! That won’t save anyone!!”
“Can you please explain why you assume that will be a bad thing for not just you but me as-… Never mind.”
When he saw Index snap her teeth together like some kind of trap, “Kamijou” realized he could not back out now. He began thinking silently with a distant look in his eyes.
(Hello, bread crust. I will be seeing you a lot for a while.)
“Huh? What are you doing here?”
His thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice.
It was Misaka Mikoto.
He guessed that a true rich girl had a habit of always heading to the places with “high-class” in the name. But he soon realized something was off about her behavior.
And then it hit him.
She was in the grocery section of a high-class department store, but she did not have a cart or basket.
“Wh-what? Don’t tell me you’ve gone beyond vending machines and started full-blown shoplifting!”
“I really will blast you into the sky. How far would you like to go? The moon? Mars?”
When the girl known as the Railgun made a threat like that, it was no laughing matter. It would not have surprised him if she could gather various objects to construct a peaceful human mass driver in the middle of Academy City.
“I’m not here to shop.”
“So you are here to shopli-…”
“You don’t get a third chance.”
The genuine rich girl raised her middle finger as she gently warned him.
Irritation filled her tone.
“It seems my school’s dorm has been getting tons of junk mail telling people to come by and try samples of their new foods. The mail has been so full that some of the girls are too afraid to check it. They seem to be taking the name Tokiwadai too lightly, so I’m here to have a word or two with whoever’s responsible.”
It seemed having the approval of a rich girls’ school was enough to greatly increase the sales of a high-class department store. It was a bigger deal than having a popular entertainer in their commercials. Those girls simply lived in a different world from “Kamijou”.
“If I don’t do something, I get the feeling they’ll start standing in front of the dorm with a cooler in hand. I want to put an end to it before that happens. …Anyway, I hear Floor 12 and above is their headquarters. This kind of dispute would normally be Kuroko’s territory, but she seemed busy.”
“Hm?” Index tilted her head next to “Kamijou”. “Short Hair, does this bad guy have food?”
“I suppose. If I grab him by the collar and shake him, I bet a pile of sweets will fall out.”
“That settles it!! ‘Touma’, I will head deeper into the dungeon for the sake of the world!!”
“Wait, Index! You can’t put shortcakes or Mont Blanc in oden!!”
In order to avoid having a truly chaotic hot pot that night, “Kamijou” did his best to stop Index. Mikoto seemed to want to talk more, but she sighed after checking the time on her cell phone. She cracked her neck and started toward the industrial elevator.
The topic then returned to dinner.
“If it’s going to be hell afterward regardless, why don’t we go all out and have high-class sukiyaki instead of oden!? I think we’ll have fewer regrets then!!”
“But that won’t get rid of the oden craving filling my chest! And now you’ve given me a sukiyaki craving!!”
“Don’t be stupid! There’s no way both is happening!! We only get to choose one and then our hellish bread crust life begins!”
“We could divide the pot in two…like this…and fill half with oden and half with sukiyaki.”
“The number of pots isn’t the issue! The ingredients are super expensive!! Do you understand?”
His terribly pronounced attempt at English at the end seemed to enrage the legitimate British girl. A carnivorous beast attacked the back of his head.
His scream shook the entire multistory department building.
“Heh… I get the feeling I’ll lose my life to fill your stomach one day. Just like this insane situation on my head right now!!”
It was unlikely even the calico cat on the girl’s head had given those fears as much thought as the herbivorous boy named “Kamijou Touma”.
Meanwhile, the carnivorous (or rather, omnivorous) girl named Index brought her hands to her hips while skillfully keeping the cat on her head.
“So what will we do?” she asked. “After coming this far, I refuse to back down from the oden.”
“…Let’s do it,” muttered “Kamijou” while rubbing his bitten head. His voice quickly grew to a shout. “We came this far, so let’s do it! I’ll throw this really expensive one labelled ‘Kyoto style’ into the basket! I’ll show you that I can come through when it counts, Index!!”
“Kamijou Touma” was enjoying himself.
Every day was undeniably enjoyable. He would likely end up involved in all sorts of trouble and he would end up clenching his fist while covered in mud, but he could keep going because of this everyday life. It was this place to return to that allowed him to step deep into unexplored darkness.
Today would come to an end.
But he would have tomorrow.
And the next day.
And the day after that.
“Kamijou Touma” knew from the bottom of his heart that these enjoyable days would continue on and on.