Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume9 Chapter 7
Chapter 7: “A Normal High School Boy”. Black_or_White.
Kamijou Touma could not move.
He could not even stand up from the white bench.
He had nothing left to guide him.
Even if he could move his legs to walk and even if he had the strength to clench his right fist, what could he do? After seeing such a perfectly correct answer and after seeing such happiness, did he still have the courage to interfere and charge in toward someone else’s misfortune? It was true he may have resolved something. But there may have been another way. What if he could have travelled back in time and stopped those tragedies if he had only not been fooled back then and had known the answer from the beginning?
Anyone would have said that was nonsense, but Othinus had done it.
It may have been like seeing one’s opponent’s hand before playing one’s own and it may have exceeded what any human could do, but it was obvious whose answer had been more “correct”.
Evening had fallen.
The people gathered in the park had gradually left and Kamijou was soon left alone. Even so, everything he had seen there was burned into the insides of his eyelids.
What possible reason was there to destroy that?
Could he find a motive for fighting Othinus?
He wanted to return to his original world.
He wanted to return everything to normal.
He wanted to return to that normal everyday life he had believed would continue forever.
He wanted to take back the life of the boy named Kamijou Touma.
He was the only one that wanted that.
He had believed that doing so was in everyone’s best interest, but that had been meaningless.
If he had to weigh the wide world against himself, he had always known which one to prioritize.
Othinus referred to herself as a god, and she had produced a result that lived up to that arrogance.
If that god protected this world of peace, created the people’s smiles, and behaved impeccably, what title befitted the person who opposed her?
There was only one answer.
Kamijou covered his face with his hands as he sat in the bench.
“If anyone should be called evil, it’s me.”
He could no longer move.
He understood, so he could not move.
No matter what else he did, he would only trample on everyone else’s lives. The most he could do was feel he had saved them, but that self-satisfaction would destroy the balance of the world’s golden ratio. He could not do that. That was undeniable evil. If he saw someone else trying to do that very same thing, he would set everything aside and try to punch them. And there was no way of justifying treating himself as an exception.
It was over.
He had wondered what would happen if his heart broke during the many subsequent worlds.
This was probably the answer.
He would lose even the bare minimum of what it meant to be a living creature, he would be unable to move even a finger, and he would begin to rot while still alive.
Letting it end like that might also be evil. He could still do something for everyone. Othinus had said his mere existence would eventually cause destruction. It was possible she could simply create a new world, but there were some things that would still be destroyed: the smiles of Index, Misaka Mikoto, and everyone else he knew. And not just that. He also bore the futures of people he did not know. There was no greater happiness than this, so any change would have to be a negative. The role he had been given could do nothing but mess up a good thing.
If he had become a trigger for nothing but that, he should bring an end to it now.
That had to be the case.
After all, that was the undeniably “right” answer.
“I get it.”
“I get it, Othinus. I’ll go find somewhere to die.”
Slowly and silently, the boy stood up from the bench.
The motion resembled a balloon floating up into the evening sky after its string snapped. His small back seemed to melt into that orange world.
The countdown of his footsteps began.
How should he kill himself?
Kamijou vaguely pondered that question as he wandered aimlessly through the streets. The answer would change where he had to go. He had never given it thought before. Othinus’s comments had been right on the mark. He had become so used to experiencing such unreasonable misfortune for so long that no normal trouble would kill him. Whether he was aware of it or not, he would somehow avoid death.
If he chose his method poorly, he would survive.
And that would undoubtedly damage this world of peace and smiles.
In which case, he could not casually and impulsively decide his own fate. He had to think over it carefully.
He needed a method which left no room for survival.
Once he made the action, there had to be no way of turning back no matter how much pathetically he trembled and had second thoughts.
There had to be a clear point of no return.
He did not know when the destruction would occur, so he had to come to the right answer on the first try.
As he wandered on unsteady legs, he realized this place was modeled after Academy City. However, the cityscape was a bit different. Most likely, the things unneeded in a perfect world were gone and new things had taken their place. For example, the laboratories of the dark side that were disguised as private institutions.
The most noticeable change was the lack of walls around the city. If the disputes between the magic side and science side were completely resolved, they would be unnecessary.
As he wandered about, he glimpsed the faces of the people who had left the orange-dyed park. They were all returning to their own small worlds and grasping their own happiness.
He turned toward some loud voices and saw a four girl group sitting around a table through a large restaurant window.
“In the end, I think your short tempter is due to those salmon bentos, Mugino. I don’t know if you would call it chemical substances or chemical seasonings, but you need to watch out for any strong flavor like that!!”
“What? Frenda, I don’t want to hear that from someone who eats canned foods year round.”
“Come to think of it, you two eat salmon and mackerel. Why are you so super focused on seafood? Try to make your characters more super distinct.”
“…You two get along surprisingly well.”
A few more people walked by in front of Kamijou. They passed through the restaurant’s glass door and headed toward the girl group’s table.
“Nyah, nyah! What’s that delicious-looking stuff you’re eating, onee-chan!? Is it a new dish? Are they having a canned food fair!?”
“Fremea, I think she brought that in without asking. Look, the waitress over there is stiffly looking this way with a bitter smile.”
“Hamazura, you need to apologize for being super late! Also…those two are Komaba and Hanzou, right? Why is efficiency super dropping now that we got more underlings!?”
“Tch. That’s because Hanzou said turning back there was a shortcut.”
“Don’t blame me! It was because Leader Komaba wouldn’t leave that vending machine! Y’know, the one with the roulette!!”
“In the end, I can’t help but ask why my little sister is so attached to that extreme macho man.”
Kamijou had no intention of entering the restaurant, but the smell of food stimulated his hunger.
It seemed he still felt hunger at a time like this. He felt disgust at his own despicableness.
He patted his pocket and found he had his cell phone and wallet.
After walking a while longer, he found a food truck stopped on the side of the road. It seemed to be selling hot dogs.
“L-look, Sister Lucia! The hot dogs there are 2000 yen each! They must taste heavenly!”
“That is both gluttony and greed!!!!! A nun must not eat something like that!! Lidvia, you say something, too!!”
“Unfortunately, it appears Sister Orsola has already started eating one.”
The price was ridiculous, but this would be his final meal. He did not hold back and bought one along with a cup of soda.
After he received his food, a boy and two girls with brown skin passed by.
“Etzali, what are we going to do now?”
“Ask Tochtli. She’s the one that heard the commotion.”
“Wait. Don’t pass this off onto me. She’s practically your little sister and it isn’t easy calming her down once she starts pouting.”
As he sat on a guardrail and ate the food, he heard several voices from a nearby pedestrian bridge. First, he heard a gloomy teacher and a girl wearing a brightly-colored bee-like maid outfit. Neither of them noticed him.
“Sensei, what are we going to do now?”
“I hear an event is being held nearby. It appears to be a simple festival, but we should probably check it out.”
“Heh heh heh! Ha ha ha! So you mean this will be a festival date in yukatas? My Violence Donut is going to let out a roar!”
“You appear to have jumped ahead in the conversation like a scratched record, but try to calm down for now.”
Behind them were two girls with breasts larger than one would expect of students. They were glaring at each other so intensely it seemed sparks would fly.
They both had long hair. One had black hair that almost looked wet and the other had blonde hair that shined like honey, but they were both specialists at manipulating people’s minds.
“Don’t you think that was a bit much?”
“Oh, dear. I apologize, but I believe my comprehension ability is too poor to understand what you mean.”
“Oh, is that so? Is it that hard to comprehend that you shouldn’t recklessly use your Level 5 powers to cut in front of a line of elementary school children just to buy a hot dog!?”
“Ha ha ha. I told you I have poor comprehension ability☆”
Trying to kill himself with overconsumption of sugar and cholesterol would take too long.
After finishing his meal, Kamijou threw the containers in the trash and began walking through the orange city once more.
He passed by a woman in pajamas and a wheelchair and a girl with smartphones and other handheld devices hanging down from her neck.
“Oh, dear. As a Kihara, this peace is so boring.”
“Does it really matter? As long as we can play around with science, it doesn’t matter if it’s for good or evil. We might as well live in a way that fits this place. …That is what a Kihara would say.”
“Anyway, did you see that project summary? We have to research and develop new standards for garbage disposal. What a joke. That won’t even take three days to finish.”
In a way, he was eliminating his regrets.
The process was similar to having a large number of hairs tangled up in the water and cutting them away one by one with a pair of scissors. Bit by bit, his body grew lighter and the ritual would prevent any recoil-like reaction when he tried to cross the point of no return.
(If I wrote a will, I might be able to gather my thoughts better.)
But there was no point because there was no one to read it.
As he thought, he heard the distant noise of a beating drum.
A group passed him from behind.
“Thor!! Hurry up!!”
“Wait, Marian. It just started, so there’ll be tons of people. Being a bit late would be perfect.”
“By the way, I spotted Bersi. He was secretly with that ringlet curl maid again!!!!!”
“Oh, wow… Well, that’s Bersi’s decision. Besides, you should probably give some thought to Mjölnir shaking next to you there. I think she’s gonna explode out of jealousy before long.”
Kamijou smiled slightly as he watched their backs disappear ahead of him.
It seemed all conflict had truly come to an end.
As Othinus had newly built up the interpersonal relationships throughout the world, it seemed some strange new connections had been made, but the current form was likely happier than the original form.
This world was created with pleasant feelings taking precedence over slight out-of-place feelings.
The festival was not being held at a Shinto shrine. Instead, festival stands had been set up along a large river in District 7. Overall, it felt more like a fireworks festival than a religious festival. And in the end, that fit Academy City.
“Wow!! shouts Misaka as Misaka gives up on trying to process all the information in front of her and just expresses her joy!”
“If you abandon any attempt to understand, it will stop our processing ability as well, so please try harder, says Misaka as she feels dizzy.”
“What the hell am I doing here?”
“What’s wrong with getting a little excited? Saving every last one of the 20,000 plus Sisters deserves at least this much.”
“But it does cost a lot! Look behind you, #1. All those clones are staring restlessly at the food stands!! And Misaka Worst-chan, that mass of ill will and foundation of the Third Season project, is egging them on!!”
Kamijou instinctually tried to find the sources of these voices in the crowd, but he could not. Instead, he spotted a man and woman wearing lab coats. They had nametags clipped to their chests. The tags read Yoshikawa and Amai. They were watching on with smiles on their faces and Kamijou guessed they were researchers of some kind.
“Ow! Honestly, this is too many people. And where did my onee-sama get off to!?”
“Yeah, it’s going to be impossible to find her with all these people who look just like her.”
“Oh, Uiharu. I just remembered. Is it true Arisa-chan is coming here in secret today? Y’know, that ‘perfect mode’ created once the two became one.”
“I saw that doll-like child president wandering around earlier, so she is probably here somewhere.”
He continued walking.
As he listened to the voices, he walked slowly through the festival built alongside the river.
He grew more convinced that his coming action held meaning.
He understood the weight of their smiles and what it was they had gained. This was not simply a number on a document. He learned that it truly was “here”.
Kamijou Touma heard a certain girl’s voice.
A small figure ran toward him.
She was a nun in a white habit that had golden embroidery as if on a teacup.
He knew this girl by the name of Index.
“Stiyl, Kaori! It’s wrong to only let me choose three things in this food paradise!! I’m already starving!!”
Kamijou raised his head of his own free will.
He wanted to burn the scene before him into his mind.
As the silver-haired girl ran out of the crowd, she held a calico cat in her arms. She had already spotted who she was looking for, so there was no hesitation in her actions.
Without slowing for an instant, she ran right by Kamijou.
She had not been looking at him.
He heard voices behind him.
But the boy did not look back.
He had made up his mind now.
He felt as if he had seen what he truly needed to protect.
He began walking once more.
He followed the river downstream as he walked all alone through the lively festival. Beyond the cheerful voices and decorative lights, a large building towered above them.
That was his destination. He had to reach that roof.
It was not just the elevator or escalators within the building. The happy festival built along the river was also part of the stairway leading up onto the execution stage.
He walked slowly.
He entered the building.
He boarded the elevator and pressed the button for the roof.
As one would expect of Academy City, the elevator was silent yet quick, but it still took over a minute to arrive. He did not know the exact number of floors, but it had to be well over three hundred meters.
If he fell from the roof, there would be no kind way of describing what would happen to his human body.
Even if there were trees or a thick mat prepared by a rescue squad below, there would be no saving him.
And with a soft electronic tone, the elevator stopped.
The metal door automatically slid to the left and right.
“This should do it.”
A dazzling world opened up before him.
The sky was now closer to gold than orange and the wind refreshed his heart as much as a cup of water in the desert. He slowly crossed the roof to reach the edge. The area must not normally have been open to the public because it had no fence to prevent people from falling. Beyond the roof, the scenery was unobstructed. No world could have been happier. Every single light before his eyes seemed to praise youth and the festival music could just barely be heard up on the roof. He heard no harsh sirens of Anti-Skill or ambulances. He doubted they were needed anymore. That was why he heard none.
“This is the best possible spot to end my life, Othinus. I couldn’t make something like this on my own.”
He had desperately worked to resolve many different incidents in the past.
The Fuse Kazakiri incident on September 30.
The coup d’etat that covered all of Great Britain.
World War Three.
But what had happened afterwards?
He had not wanted to protect the world. He had not wanted to save something as exaggerated as “the human race”. But had the short history after those events really been what Kamijou Touma had wanted? Othinus was the leader of Gremlin. If she had not caused such violence, it may not have turned out that way. But at the same time, would everything have ended happily ever after if Gremlin and Othinus had not acted? Really? Even if they had not appeared on the stage, someone else might have appeared to ruin that world.
In a way, Gremlin and Othinus had brought an end to that series of events.
No matter how many problems there were with their methodology, he could see the results before his eyes. That “someone” who Kamijou feared would most likely not appear here. Othinus would not allow for the “imperfect fluctuations” of misfortune or tragedy that were needed for that “someone” to naturally appear.
Even if it was due to unilateral control brought about by self-righteousness and arrogance and even if that tidy and sensitive god was not actually thinking about the individual people, her actions still brought about true peace and happiness. Even if they were being manipulated, everyone had been equally given success. In that case, the people would not care how it had happened.
Everyone wanted to be happy.
Ultimately, every human was attempting to move in that one direction.
It was not the methodology or process they wanted.
They wanted what was left in the end. They wanted that high score.
For a while, Kamijou stared off into that gold-tinged world.
Oddly enough, the boy still felt a bit of hesitation and fear toward the simple act of “jumping” despite having coming so far. He had spent quite a bit of extra time on the rite of passage meant to numb his senses, but he had been unable to rid himself of all of it. It somehow made him feel very pathetic.
No one would gain anything by him fighting this.
His opposition was nothing more than an empty desire. There was no logic or reason behind it.
He felt as if his heart had been scraped away bit by bit and he was now viewing what remained at the very, very end. That was this desire. This despicable desire. He had said so much about rescuing people or saving the world, but this puny desire was what lay hidden in his bottommost depths. This was why the Magic God had seen right through him. It was only natural she was disappointed in him. It may not have simply been Othinus’s “attacks” that had left him with no place left. Why would anyone make a place for someone like this in the first place?
But that would end soon.
Kamijou slowly closed his eyes. The roof had no fence or railing. If he just stepped forward, it would all be over. He only had to imagine. There was a path before him. A path leading to that which should be in the form it should take. A single unnecessary piece had been mixed in with a giant puzzle and it could never be completed as is. So he would remove that piece. He would create a path and move that piece off the table. That was all he was doing. While thinking this, he accidentally smiled. Off the table. That seemed to be the answer. After forcibly rejecting his desires, all that remained was escape. As his heart trembled at the thought of annihilation, it seemed he was trying to move his heart “somewhere other than here”. And yet no such place existed. That meant it would disappear.
He took a step.
With his heart numbed over as if it had been dunked in icy water, he finally managed to step forward.
He took a second step.
He moved forward. He walked down the path. He walked toward the result everyone had to want.
He took a third step.
With each step, he grew more used to the bizarre action.
There was no fourth step to take. Even so, he did not open his eyes. He would follow the same action and move his foot forward again. This would end it. There would be no miracles or coincidences. There was no way he could “somehow or other” be saved. Othinus had rejected that sort of vague concept. And so he would die. He would disappear. He would be no more. This was not a sweet story of taking a journey to a better place. He would simply be annihilated.
And he began to fall.