Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume9 Chapter 6c
Chapter 6: Shifting and Fluctuating World. Version_Omega.
He had grown used to blankly wondering what had happened to him. It was similar to being punched so many times that his entire face felt warm and he could not distinguish the individual injuries.
He had been beaten to that extent.
His heart had been torn to pieces and threatened to scatter every which way. His instincts led him to desperately gather the pieces of his heart, but his own outline had thinned so much that he could not even remember how many pieces he needed to gather.
Even so, an external stimulus caused Kamijou’s index finger to move. It was forcibly made to move just like when someone reflexively held a hand up to block a bright light from their eyes.
He was in a park filled with gentle sunlight.
He sat on a white bench and it seemed he had been sleeping while leaning against the back of the bench.
He wanted to wonder how long he had been asleep there, but he doubted the question had much meaning.
It was possible this place had been created the instant he had woken up.
This place was likely a cruel construction put together by Othinus as she watched on from above. Just like the ones before it, it would deny his very existence and strike him with a sense of helplessness.
Anywhere that initially seemed calm and peaceful would always bring thorough destruction in the end. His soul would be smashed by the sight of people he knew screaming and sinking into pools of blood.
And so he tensed up defensively.
After everything he had seen, he would not sit idly by and optimistically watch the change occur.
(I’ll make the first move.)
His hazy mind focused on a single point in the center of his head.
He felt his circulation grow stronger throughout his body.
(Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep my memories this entire time. That gives me a chance to put together a means of resisting Othinus’s seemingly infinite power. …I’ll save them. No matter what happens to me, I will return everyone to normal!!)
What would happen if his heart broke even once amid these many shifting and fluctuating worlds?
He had not given that any thought.
He had more important things to focus on.
Othinus would begin soon. Once it began, the destruction and collapse of the world could not be stopped. Fortunately, he was never made to wait for 100 years in a vast empty desert. She most likely did not want to wait around either. No human would try to kill an unsightly roach by caring for it in a bug cage until it died. This was the same.
He had to figure out what was going to happen.
He had to compare the different variations of destruction and calculate out Othinus’s “range”.
He had to find any common traits and determine what the Magic God’s habits and dispositions were.
There might be a small hole somewhere.
There might be a thin, thin crack that was not noticeable at first glance.
Or there might be something tiny that not even Othinus had noticed.
There might be something somewhere.
(So don’t look away. Face it head on. Face it and overcome it!! It doesn’t matter what happens to me. It doesn’t matter if these repeated scenes that surpass every limit end up frying my brain. I can’t let her manipulate Index and the others any longer. I will return everything to normal and retrieve their honor!!)
He gathered strength in his entire body.
He began to spring up from the park bench.
But something else happened first.
He heard a voice.
It seemed to be speaking English, so he was unable to understand the details.
All he could make out was a name.
But no name would surprise him now. He had even seen a complete stranger being called “Kamijou Touma” by his class, but he had overcome it.
And so he knew he could overcome this as well.
But then the full name slipped into his ears.
“Wait up, Ellis!”
It was just for an instant, but Kamijou Touma’s breathing most definitely came to a stop.
He completely forgot to stand up from the bench. He turned just his head and slowly looked toward the speaker.
A small girl with wavy blonde hair and brown skin ran by.
A boy ran ahead of her.
He recognized the girl.
Wasn’t Ellis the name of the golem belonging to the magician named Sherry Cromwell?
And didn’t the name come from a close friend of hers who had died long ago?
Kamijou stared blankly – truly blankly – as the boy and girl ran off
And then he heard another voice.
It was speaking either French or Italian. Either way, it was a language he did not understand at all. Even so, he could tell the voice was happy.
He turned toward it and found a young girl and a young couple sitting on a plastic picnic sheet laid out on the green grass. They would occasionally pull sandwiches out of a wicker basket and happily eat them. Their expressions said the happiness came more from the situation than the flavor of the sandwiches.
The young girl had brown hair formed into thin braids.
Kamijou was reminded of the nun named Agnese Sanctis.
But had he ever heard anything about her having parents?
“It can’t be…”
He gradually felt a large shadow form over him.
The girl known as Vento of the Front walked hand in hand with her young brother. The man known as Terra of the Left had not been executed by his colleague and drank iced coffee under the same parasol as the other members.
The woman named Oriana Thomson did not work as a magical courier and instead smiled with a few different children and old women.
“There you are, sensei.”
That voice seemed to belong to Kumokawa Maria who wore a strange maid outfit. That meant Kamijou did not even need to check to know who it was she was had spoken to.
It was Kihara Kagun.
It was someone who had definitely died and should be dead.
Those two words stabbed into Kamijou’s chest.
The malicious voice belonged to the blonde-haired, eyepatch-wearing girl named Magic God Othinus.
“If you insist that the changed worlds and the act of changing the world are evil, then reject this twisted world with no crime, debt, or broken hearts.”
Othinus leaned in from behind the bench, pressed against him, brought her cheek in close, and almost lightly bit his earlobe as she whispered to him.
Kamijou said nothing.
He had no rebuttal to give.
“Destroying the world is easy. Either kill me or destroy the lance I use to control my power. I doubt a human can accomplish either, but it is at least worth trying. You will fail in either one and you will be unable to take everything from me, but you might create a bit of static. That would be enough to shatter this makeshift world created with an incomplete phase. You would be able to eliminate one of the worlds you believe to be so hideously distorted.”
At some point, a lance had appeared in her hand.
That was Gungnir.
That spiritual item helped control a Magic God’s power. It was the key to it all. It brought about changes to the world while ignoring the wishes of the very people it affected. That single point connected to the heart of the issue.
Othinus was embracing Kamijou’s shoulders from behind.
And she was also holding the lance. This put it well within reach of his right hand.
Right now, he could destroy it.
“Hurry,” quietly urged Othinus. Her long hair gave off a sweet aroma. “It is wrong to twist the world toward bliss. It is right to return it to normal. That is what you said and you are probably right. So show it with your actions. Test out your own idea of justice. Do it.”
(Can this really happen?)
Othinus had been freely using her absolute power to manipulate everything. He had assumed she was an absolute evil. For her own convenience, she had repeatedly destroyed the world, brought people to ruin, and shown Kamijou hellish worlds of agony.
During it all, the thought of returning everything to normal had supported him.
That had been his goal.
“I said this before.” As she watched this world of happiness, Othinus whispered in the trembling boy’s ear. “The world does not really need you. Even without you specifically, their dangers were avoided. The number of deaths, people’s groups of friends, the amount of people’s assets, and the headlines on the news may change a bit, but the world does not stop. People’s lives, jobs, and romances continue on.”
“You saved them in one way. I saved them in another. That is all. In this world, I stood up to those unreasonable incidents in your place. This is not an issue of good and evil. There is no use in arguing who was right. It is an issue of the options available and the actual results produced. Those two factors differ greatly between us. And that affects people’s lives, finances, love lives, and a lot more.”
The puny boy finally moved his trembling lips to speak.
“What have I been doing all this time?”
“You did well for a mere human.” Othinus’s answer was simple. “But did you forget? I am known as a god. I can save people in ways you cannot.”
That may have been the theory in various mythologies.
It might have been made more complex by the minds of those who believed in them.
“That isn’t fair.”
“Ellis was already dead by the time I met Sherry. It had happened twenty years beforehand. No matter how much I struggled, there was no way I could save that boy. I wasn’t even born then.”
“Then you did nothing wrong.”
“It’s the same with Oriana and Agnese. There had to have been tragedies I didn’t even know about. I can’t know everything about people’s debts and hearts. How am I supposed to save people from those things?”
“No one is blaming you.”
A paper airplane cut across in front of them.
A small girl chased after it along with some girls with the exact same face as her.
Kamijou turned in the direction from which the paper airplane had been thrown and saw two Level 5s.
They were the #1 and the #3.
This was likely a slightly different future where they had perfectly reconciled their issues.
“I couldn’t save them. It was impossible for me!! That’s right. Over 10,000 clones were killed. If I had realized it sooner, there might have been a different option!! It was my fault for accepting that. I just thought it was all resolved because I had saved the one or two people in front of me!!”
“If you stop blaming yourself, everyone else will accept it.”
“Then… What did my choice accomplish?”
The truly correct answer was likely the one before his eyes.
It was unreasonable and it required to cheat and turn back time, but Kamijou could not think of any answer better than that.
“Did my choice accelerate some tragedies? Is it possible I caused unnecessary deaths? Did I make someone suffer, did I force a great debt on someone, and did I destroy someone’s chance at love? I was satisfied and thought I had saved them, so what does that make me!?”
Was changing things truly evil?
Was returning them to normal truly good?
Could he still say that after seeing such a wonderful world?
Even if someone was controlling that world?
Othinus had protected the smiles Kamijou had been unable to, so was she in the right? Was this actually a form of just government rather than world domination?
A soccer ball rolled up to Kamijou’s feet.
Othinus gently removed her arms from his neck.
Freed from her grasp, he looked over.
A small form approached him.
It was a nun wearing a white habit.
Hearing that voice, Kamijou instinctually reached for the soccer ball at his feet. As Index approached the ball, she almost looked like a puppy.
A few other people were visible behind her.
And some priests and nuns he did not recognize.
“Oh,” he muttered.
Due to losing his memories, he had lost the actual events.
But he more or less understood based on his knowledge.
This was a future where they had not failed and had not had their role stolen by Kamijou.
As the silver-haired girl took the large ball from him, she looked at his face and tilted her head.
“What’s wrong? Does your stomach hurt?” she asked.
He figured he was making a very strange face.
Would something change if he reached out with his right hand and rubbed her head? Or would nothing at all change?
For an instant, his right palm trembled ominously.
Kamijou formed a smile.
He quietly clenched his right fist on his lap.
“It’s nothing. I’m fine.”
Kamijou watched the girl’s back as she jogged away.
That sight of her joining another group had to be the one those people had seen so many times in the world he knew.
Had that really been a form of salvation?
Who had he been saving by continually providing those people this horrible sense of loss?
“Protect or destroy,” whispered Othinus as she sat on the back of the bench and leaned her back against his. “You can only choose one or the other. And that decision will affect not only you but everyone you know. It will decide everything for all of them.”
“What are you asking me to do?” asked the boy as he trembled. “You will save the world even if I don’t do anything. You just showed me that! So what do you want from me? What is there left for me to do in this utterly perfect world? What are you entrusting to me!?”
“It is quite simple.” Othinus’s tone was so carefree it almost seemed she would start whistling. “As you said, this world is perfect. Utterly perfect. Everything is protected by the golden ratio calculated out based on the assumption that Kamijou Touma does not exist. But think about it in reverse. Your mere presence here will cause a malfunction in this world. An unnecessary gear or a single wedge can obstruct the movement of every other gear. …That is the current state and it will soon begin to collapse. I do not know if it will happen one second from now or one month from now, but it will happen. It will happen the instant this world remembers that you are still here.”
Magic God Othinus glanced at Kamijou with her one eye and gave her conclusion.
“Bring an end to your life. There is no other way to protect this world.”
For an instant, Kamijou gave a relaxed expression that resembled a bizarre smile.
But anyone could tell he was definitely not smiling.
Othinus ignored it.
“I could kill you, but I am sure you have realized the problem with that. You have a way of somehow escaping dangerous situations brought about by external factors. Your inability to die when you should may be the greatest of all misfortunes you have been constantly exposed to. I can kill you with odds greater than 99%, but if you want to fill the gap and reach 100%, it would be faster to end your own life. That would be the most wholesome option for the world.”
Kamijou heard a quiet sound.
Something had fallen from the sky.
It was a loop of thick rope used to hang oneself. As soon as he realized what it was, more objects fell around him: a knife, a charcoal grill, a handgun, detergent, a car, pills, a thick plastic bag, a broken hair dryer, a silver sake cup, a knife in a wooden scabbard, a filled gas can, and clothes with rocks filling the bottom in place of weights. It was a colorful, comical, and surreal scene reminiscent of the raining sweets seen in a children’s picture book.
“Choose on your own and make up your mind on your own. If you are prepared to bear it all, then you can battle me and destroy the lance. If you are not prepared to do that, then you must end your own life.”
Kamijou slowly turned toward Othinus.
But she had already vanished.
The boy was left all alone.
The all-too-enormous weight of that happy and perfect world pressed down on his shoulders.
Between the Lines 5
The person thought about justice.
They had a feeling it was in some place as distant as the names of the extinct dinosaurs.
The person thought about peace.
They had a feeling it could be created even without justice.
One by one, the person gathered the conditions needed to create the scene in their head. While performing that work, they tilted their head. They thought back over it all from the beginning, thought it over from the beginning again, and finally came to a realization.
It seemed the person was an unneeded element toward bringing peace to the world.
The people the person knew would smile, those people would take the hands of people the person did not know, many things would develop, and the many problems that had piled ridiculously high would be thoroughly resolved. And after that shining ideal that looked like an example from a textbook was accomplished, there would be no place left for the person.
If the world had peace, it was likely that no one would complain.
If the world had peace, it was likely that no one would raise any questions.
If the world had peace, it was likely that everyone would ignore the process used to reach it.
If the world had peace, it was likely that everyone would rejoice at the result.
If the world had peace, it was likely that everyone would say it was right.
That equal and selfish answer would crush the convenience of an individual. But there was no other option. Justice had already been lost. Only the fossilized relics remained.
Needless to say, peace had great value. Past history proved it was worth considering the sacrifice of half the world just to acquire.
If it could be purchased with a single life, anyone would leap at the chance.
Historians would praise that great deed of mankind, a new number would be carved into the list of great dates, and even a holiday would be made.
All of humanity would smile as they committed that murder.
Grinning and armed with that theory, they would look away from the truth and rejoice in their lukewarm and unpleasant peace in which everyone forgot what justice is.
This led to a question:
Did the person wish to cling to a world like that?