Toaru Majutsu no Index:RailgunSS2 Chapter7
An Anti-Skill group wearing powered suits for work in nuclear facilities had begun the mopping up operation in Academy City.
The terrorists were armed with ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles and a large amount of detectors. Essentially, they had special electromagnetic firearms that could penetrate all forms of cover and would fatally destroy human cells and they had explosives that used those firearms.
The means of defense in a modern gunfight was not to see the bullet and evade it. Instead, it was to hide yourself behind something that functioned as a shield. As such, the ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles that could penetrate any kind of cover were quite a threat.
However, as long as you defended yourself with something that could completely block the ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves, you could turn the situation around.
Shirai Kuroko spoke into her cell phone.
“Onee-sama. The soldiers wearing lead armor have ended the firefight. They are fine. The suppression is complete. There is no sign of the nuke exploding. It seems they had almost finished putting it together, but luckily the timer was still incomplete. …That was the report I received.”
“Wait, Kuroko!! Don’t hang up!!”
“It seems the Russian shopping mall had a secondary plan in case the nuclear bomb on the timer failed. They have likely already switched over to that plan. You need to inform Anti-Skill!!”
Mikoto then seemed to hesitate.
But then she continued on with resolve.
“A fighter loaded with a hydrogen bomb is headed from Russia to Academy City. If the air defense unit does not head out immediately, it will be dropped right on top of you!!”
Three old style fighters cut across the Sea of Japan at a point just barely above the waves. They were flying that low in order to lower the odds of being seen on radar as much as possible. However, that was not enough to completely deceive an air surveillance network. If it was, no one would spend so much money developing stealth technology.
“Klyuch Samolyot to all crafts. I have detected multiple radar waves. The JSDF has likely caught sight of us on their wide-area radar. This will not be so easy from now on.”
“Prisluga Samolyot to Klyuch Samolyot. They are not idiots. They would have already noticed us. For diplomatic reasons, they were just waiting until we were past Russian waters.”
“Nochi Samolyot to all crafts. Russia will begin taking action soon, too. I’m more worried about having Sukhoi’s coming up behind us.”
“Klyuch Samolyot to all crafts. Academy City is our greatest enemy. They will soon realize what we are trying to do. This is the critical moment.”
There was no point in flying so low any longer.
The three old style fighters slowly raised their altitude, threw off the caution they had been flying with before, and accelerated to full speed.
They were heading for the capital of Japan, Tokyo.
Those fighters that had the ability to hold a nuclear weapon were headed for the center of the science side, Academy City.
Mikoto paced about in the stock market center beneath the shopping mall. She was not moving her legs in order to reach a destination. Instead, she was merely trying to suppress her troubled nerves.
“…We reached the center of Code EIC, but the equipment is just the equipment. We didn’t find the person who was controlling it, so we can’t stop the shopping mall’s plan.”
Mikoto was muttering in order to put together her own thoughts, but Lessar was listening in.
(Yes, I generally agree with that, but…)
Lessar recalled what she had seen deep in that hidden passageway.
(The problem is that everyone in the group that seems to have been behind all this was decapitated. And they were killed magically. So…who has control of this plan now?)
Various expectations had crossed paths and the final plan was continuing on.
The Solntse hydrogen bomb.
That weapon held such ridiculous destructive power and it was the truly horrible joker being used in that plan.
“I have a suggestion,” Lessar said to Mikoto as the other girl thought.
Mikoto looked puzzled.
“What is this all of a sudden?”
“If the modified MIG-21 continues at a normal rate, it will reach the center of Academy City in less than an hour. We cannot worry about our appearance right now. We need to find the person who is controlling this plan.”
“The destructive force of the Solntse is massive, so the higher ups must have prepared a system to prevent the pilot from betraying them. Simply put, the bomb will not detonate if the pilot merely drops it. After the pilot drops it, the higher ups will send out a detonation signal. I’m betting a system like that has been built in,” Lessar explained. “Otherwise, there is a risk of the pilot betraying the higher ups and dropping a Solntse on the shopping mall. And if there is a unit of those old fighters, they could even drop one here and then run off with the rest once any pursuers have been utterly eliminated.”
Mikoto started to nod in agreement, but…
Something bothered her.
However, she could not get a proper grasp of what exactly it was.
Meanwhile, Lessar had continued speaking.
“In other words, even if they manage to get past the air defenses of Academy City and the JSDF, the dropped Solntse will not detonate as long as the detonation signal is not sent out.”
“In that case, there’s something we can do other than sitting here twiddling our thumbs.”
“Yes, we can find and capture whoever is controlling this plan.”
As Lessar spoke, she tossed something from between her fingers.
The object that spun through the air like a Frisbee in Mikoto’s direction was a single ID card.
“I found it back in that passageway. That card holds authorization of the highest rank. If we search through the areas and data surrounding that person, we can get an idea of these invisible higher ups’ identities. We may even be able to figure out where their hiding places are.”
She had not lied.
But she had left out the little fact that “whoever is controlling this plan” may have changed from being the higher ups to being some third party.
The ID card had its owner’s name, picture, position, and authorized rank on it.
“The name and picture may be real, but the position is probably a fake. I doubt he would just have a card saying ‘Secret Organization’ hanging from his neck. We probably won’t find their hiding places by following that position.”
“That doesn’t matter. We can just use a different opening.”
“Having the highest rank has worked against them. Even in a shopping mall this huge, there aren’t that many areas restricted to that level. So if you open a map…”
Mikoto operated the Semipublic AR to automatically color code the security levels of the areas on the map.
The highest rank was red.
Only 5 areas were filled in with that color.
“See? He went to and from one of them frequently, so there should be some information left there. It’s possible he’s hiding there himself.”
When they actually went there, they found a small door at the end of a narrow passageway rather than something more like the door to a bank vault. A sign on the door said “staff only” and it just seemed like a break room for the workers from one of the shops.
“Is this the place?”
“Yes, but normally I would think the security guards would be stationed around here. Or I suppose it could be a separate unit wearing normal clothes in order to keep even the security guards from knowing about this.”
“According to a report from Bayloupe and Lancis, the riots are in a bit of a lull, but it is still a bit of a problem.”
When Mikoto slid the ID card through a card reader near the knob, multiple dull metallic noises rang out. The door automatically opened inwards and it became apparent that it was over 1 meter thick. A rubber seal was placed around the edge of the door which likely made the door airtight when closed.
“This really does feel like a secret base.”
“Why do boys love creating this kind of atmosphere?”
As they spoke back and forth, the two girls entered the room.
The room was about as large as two classrooms, but it did not give an impression of spaciousness. Something like bookshelves were packed into the room. They were actually steel racks that had a great number of hard disks on them instead of books.
“Offline storage…” Mikoto looked around. “Code EIC is constantly connected to the network, so there is a possibility of someone attacking it externally. There is a risk that the data on the hard disks could be damaged or lost. This is a standalone backup for just such a case.”
“There are also paper documents strewn about.”
“He either was in the habit of printing out the data to check it or he just took all of the important data no one else should see and threw it in here. Either way, it’s more convenient for us.”
Mikoto and Lessar started investigating the room. Mikoto checked the stored data and Lessar checked the paper documents.
(I know the owner of this place is already dead, but…)
Lessar thought to herself while glancing over at Mikoto who was operating the Semipublic AR.
(I don’t think the magician who created those decapitated corpses is just an outsider. I can accept that an outsider could have found the secret passageway, but this magician managed to open and close the door with the proper science side method. …There’s a good chance he or she had a connection from the beginning.)
In that case, what she had to focus on was…
(If this is where the secret data is stored, then some data on the magician connected to the higher ups of the shopping mall may remain. I have to use that information to pursue this magician.)
“…This is it.”
After battling with the piles of paper for a bit, Lessar pulled out a large envelope. Inside were a single photograph and a few sheets of copy paper. It was a background investigation carried out by a detective agency.
(The shopping mall most likely did its own investigation into how safe it was to join forces with this person.)
The photo and name were clear enough, but the rest was strange for the most part. There just was no consistency in the text. For example, one page listed the person as staying at one hotel and the next page listed a different hotel.
The person may have been protected by a spell that allowed others to accept mismatched reports without finding it odd.
But the effects had worn off once the reports had been turned to digital data.
As a result, the report had displayed the mismatched information as mismatched and the shopping mall had deemed the person as possibly dangerous.
Not taking into account the alteration of information from analog to digital was a common mistake. But there were some things that were difficult to handle when it came to getting that close to the science side.
(…Her name is Caliche I. Niknosh. Well, the name is a bit doubtful, but she failed with the photo. From the small ornaments and the traces left on the headless bodies, it’s clear she’s some failed member of the Russian Orthodox Church. But…)
As Lessar thought to herself, she glanced over at Mikoto.
The girl seemed to be quite something as far as Academy City was concerned, but that did not make it okay to carelessly have her take part in a magic side incident. Lessar was not someone whose job it was to keep the peace, but because she was not bound by any strict rules, she knew quite well how far one could slip from the proper path if one forgot those vague manners.
Caliche who had decapitated the higher ups was a good example of that.
“I have a suggestion.”
“Let’s split up,” Lessar said with a grin. “To be honest, searching through this ridiculous amount of data is more your kind of thing. I don’t feel like I can help all that much. Academy City will be in a serious pinch soon, so I think it would be better if I actually did something rather than sitting around here.”
“Well, I’d be glad if you could go help somehow, but do you have any actual ideas?”
“No, if I did, I would have told you about it.”
“…I see. Well, go patrol around or something then.”
“While I’m out, I think I’ll go eat some of the free samples at one of the grocery stores,” Lessar said offhand as she started to leave the room.
“If you find something, don’t go charging off on your own. Having done that before, I can tell you that it isn’t very much fun. If you find a clue, come back here first, okay?”
For an instant, Lessar had the expression of someone taken off guard.
But an instant later she had the same mischievous smile as usual.
After that response, she left the room.
(What a pain. Is there anyone who can act solely out of self preservation after hearing that?)
Lessar sighed and thought about what she was about to do.
The names of a few of the major Russian magic cabals came to her mind. Mikoto was still continuing her science side investigation, but she would likely reach a dead end that way. From there on, Lessar had to take the front line. She mentally arranged what she had to do.
And of course, she would be using the methods of the magic side.
Lessar first headed for a grocery corner.
The riots had calmed down a bit, but the after effects could still be seen. A lot of the shelves were knocked over, the number of products was down significantly, and a lot of what was left had been trampled underfoot. Lessar did not see any workers. They had likely decided that their pay did not match the risks.
She wandered around a place that had once had shelves lined with herbs and spices. She crouched down and looked through the small bottles on the floor.
“Oh, sage and parsley…and here’s turmeric. Found sanshou and chili peppers, too. With these, I may be able to reduce my work.”
Lessar gathered up a few products and a thought came to her.
“How ironic. The side trying to keep everyone from rioting is now stealing to achieve their goal.”
However, Lessar showed no hesitation in taking the spices without paying.
That showed that she was not on the side that kept the peace.
Lessar did not stand back up. While still crouching down, she opened the bottles of spices. She then moved her arm in a large circle drawing a circle on the floor about the size of a manhole.
Just like in many other cultures, Norse women used plants. Highly dangerous magical plants as well as herbs and spices sold at normal stores could be used as magical tools by them. If you had the proper knowledge, magical materials could be gathered at a convenience store.
“Well, I’m sure that girl and her serious science brain (ha) would rationalize it as autosuggestion concerning folk remedies or something ridiculous like that.”
Lessar waved the tail that extended from within her miniskirt. She liked using spells based on Norse mythology that was purposefully distorted by Christianity. By using that demonic form, she could control phenomena that could not occur within standard Norse mythology.
As she thought through that, Lessar drew a few more shapes inside the circle of spices.
(This is a lot easier when you mix in Christianity. After all, I can just use the modern alphabet rather than having to translate every little thing into ancient runes. Each individual letter of the alphabet does not have complex meaning to it, so you can make a magic circle just by lining up the needed terms. You don’t have to worry about the symbols and meanings of different letters ending up in some strange conflict that stains them and causes the circle to fail.)
Lessar completed her occult magic circle and then placed her index finger on the edge of the circle.
Immediately afterwards, bluish-white flames appeared in the place her finger had touched. As if they were spreading across lines of oil, the flames spread across the complex magic circle. There was no change in Lessar’s expression. The end of her index finger was in the bluish-white flames, but it did not feel any heat.
“Now then.” Lessar stared into the center of the magic circle as if she were enjoying herself. “I’ve opened a point of contact to the outside, so how will she react?”
In the next instant, she removed her finger from the magic circle.
It was not because she finally started to feel the heat.
An ice knife appeared out of thin air stabbing into the center of the magic circle and sending the flames and spices flying in every direction.
It was a clearly defensive action.
If she had removed her finger even an instant later, her finger would have been lost along with the magic circle.
But Lessar’s smile only grew.
She held the smile of someone who had just seen a second 7 line up on a slot machine.
“Yes, that was your only choice!!” She slowly stood up. “After all, I was about to send a message to Russia’s five main magic cabals saying that a magician was taking actions within their turf. And your name and photo would have been transmitted along with the message!! You knew I could trace your location from it, but you still had to magically interfere!!”
Lessar unhesitatingly started running.
The spices had been blown away by the defensive action…or so it had looked. In reality, they were leading the way to the attacker’s location as if they were a line of iron sand caught in a line of magnetism.
(The trace was a success!! I’m sure the attacker noticed it, but while she is mixed in with the crowds is best. I can’t miss her at this distance!!)
Lessar ran through the grocery corner and charged into a back passageway through an open door for workers. An ice knife flew at her at high speed from around a corner in the twisting passageway, but Lessar evaded it by twisting her upper body.
The blade passed by only a few millimeters from her skin, but Lessar’s expression showed no fear.
Her personality focused on the positive more than the negative which was not an aspect that made her well-liked by her comrades such as Bayloupe and Lancis.
The positive in that situation was…
As Lessar poured strength into her legs, she ran through the narrow passageway.
(If not, she would not have panicked and tried to stop me like that!!)
After heading around the next corner, she saw the back of a fleeing woman.
It was Caliche I. Niknosh.
(Bingo!! Suspicious people always do suspicious things!!)
She did not shout out anything stupid like “wait”.
That kind of warning more accurately meant, “wait if you don’t want to die”. It would have no effect on someone already in a kill or be killed position.
As such, Lessar drew as much oxygen into her lungs as she could and ran at full speed.
She almost felt like she could hear her footsteps coming from behind her.
The woman was about 30 to 50 meters ahead.
Assuming there was no humorous pitfall, Lessar would not lose her.
She heard a loud noise.
Lessar sensed that it was the sound of a door being thrown open and she stepped through it as if sneaking through the gap in the swaying door.
She was now outdoors.
The area seemed to be a business parking lot for the delivery of materials. The entire area was flat. Streetlights were lined up at even intervals. Other than that, there was nothing there. Caliche was already about to pass beyond the short trees surrounding the parking lot, but Lessar showed no sign of worry.
At some point, a spear-like object had appeared in her hand.
It was the steel glove.
Four blades were attached to the end of the weapon and it looked a bit like a grabber arm.
Lessar used those blade fingers to grab a small cloth bag. Inside the bag were the spices from before blended at a set ratio.
With the bag hanging from the end, Lessar used both hands to swing around the long narrow weapon above her head.
She was using what was likely humanity’s oldest projectile weapon which had been used to increase the strength beyond that of one’s own arm strength before the invention of the bow.
The oldest form would have had a string or belt put in a U-shape with a fist-sized rock inside that used centrifugal force to fire the rock. But in later times, simplification plus the use of leverage had developed it into a device similar to a lacrosse stick that was a cup attached to the end of a stick.
(Three times…no five times around should be enough…!!)
Lessar gradually lowered the axis of the rotation above her head until she was swinging it similarly to the hammer throw. Once she had the necessary amount of centrifugal force, she opened the four blades that held the spice bag.
The small bag flew in a high arc and headed for its target from above.
It flew more like a grenade than a bullet.
And its actual effects were more like a grenade as well.
Most likely, Caliche had noticed the projectile coming her way. As a few ice knifes appeared out of thin air, she had likely intended to shoot it down.
But it was too late.
Before the woman could do anything, the string holding the bag closed came undone, so the result would have been the same whether the bag was attacked or not.
With the slight sound of something bursting, the spices inside spread through the air. They floated around according to set laws and created a complex magic circle all at once.
Lessar then moved her thumb horizontally and spoke quietly.
“Fire of the right and water of the back, mix the colors of your directions with the wind.”
That was a means of using the Four Types power used by Golden-style cabals.
Following her thumb that had accurately indicated a direction without a compass, an invisible power swirled up.
“The wind of the back right that contrarily holds both the active and the passive becomes that which indicates calamity and a turning point!!”
Immediately afterwards, a flash of light exploded from the magic circle blossoming above Caliche’s head.
An explosive wind was created.
The power from above slammed the fleeing woman’s body to the ground, the short trees surrounding the parking lot cracked and broke, and sparks exploded from the pavement. The Semipublic AR on the surface was intended to have large trucks drive over it, but it had not been able to withstand Lessar’s attack.
“I hope you realize I am being merciful by calling out to you,” Lessar said as she rested the steel glove on her shoulder after grabbing a new cloth bag in its four blades.
She cut across the parking lot.
“I have used the center of Code EIC to investigate what you have been doing regarding the shopping mall. Now, how about you tell me why you have killed the higher ups and taken over their plan?”
Caliche writhed on the ground.
Her face was covered by her hair, but a faint smile could be seen on her lips.
Lessar felt a chill, but she did not have time to actually take action.
Just after a roar reached her ears, Lessar was crushed underneath a large man.
The man had fallen down from the sky and landed on top of Lessar’s small body.
It took a few seconds for her to realize that much.
The shock had shaken her head.
(Dammit…!! She wasn’t alone…!?)
The man was practically sitting on top of her, but he still was not quite balanced.
(What is going on!? Where did he come from!? We’re in the middle of an empty parking lot!!)
Lessar was about to shake the large man off to the side, but he raised his back and then swung down his rock-like forehead.
A dull noise exploded out from right next to her ear.
His head had fallen on the pavement nearby rather than on Lessar. He had struck down with his head hard enough that it would not have surprised her if the hard pavement had broken. When the man lifted his head, Lessar finally realized what he had been doing.
He was holding the handle of the steel glove in his mouth like a dog with a bone.
Lessar then heard Caliche’s voice for the first time.
She then called some other names.
“Sergei, Drag, Milly, Wengo, Marian, Sevche, Aria…everyone join in.”
Lessar threw the man off of her and immediately rolled to the side.
Multiple small explosive noises came from a distance.
(On the roof!!)
Lessar looked over toward the noise and saw the bottoms of multiple feet approaching her like missiles.
Most likely, they were detonating the air beneath their feet to jump the 20 meter horizontal distance from the building’s roof to where Lessar was. They softened their landing in the same manner, but it was nothing but an explosive attack to Lessar who was beneath them.
(Tch! Can I avoid all of them!?)
As Lessar rolled, a great number of legs fell down in a straight line following her almost like bullets fired from a machine gun.
She could not escape to safety just by rolling to the side.
However, the explosions of air they used to soften their landings ended up working to her advantage. With the help of the wind they caused, Lessar’s small body managed to gain more distance than she could have normally.
As a result, the final foot landed just next to Lessar’s face.
As if she were breakdancing, Lessar used the momentum of her roll to stand up.
She had managed to avoid her enemies’ attack, but she did not have time to breathe a sigh of relief.
(Including Caliche and that large man, there are about 10 of them. And they’ve taken my steel glove.)
She looked over just in time to see the large man named Ivan throw the steel glove aside.
The large parking lot was a good place for a group to gang up on her.
“Did you realize I was leading you here?” Caliche said as she slowly approached.
Lessar pulled two or three more cloth bags from within her jacket.
“…It doesn’t look you’re going to tell me your magic name.”
“I don’t need to.”
As she spoke, Caliche lightly waved something like a long narrow spike.
Lessar finally realized that it was a ball-point pen. However, it likely did not have normal ink inside. Given the spells she had used, it most likely had holy oil in it.
Rather than a personal modernization, it seemed to be a format used by the entire cabal. The other members had also turned ball-point pens or other writing implements into spiritual items with which to construct spells.
“So just die for now.”
“Did you hear that?”
For some reason, Lessar spoke leisurely.
Caliche frowned questioningly, but Lessar just ignored her and continued speaking.
“Yes, yes, that’s right. That’s more or less it. From the quality of their spiritual items, they probably have other members in hiding providing logistical support, but I guess this sums up their actual fighting force for now. Yes, yes…well, just get to it.”
Yes, she ignored the woman.
Lessar was acting as if she was utterly ignoring the person before her and was talking on a cell phone.
Just after Caliche had that thought, she felt a sense of danger.
“You don’t mean…!!”
Lessar mockingly stuck out her tongue and…
With a roar, countless runes appeared and unnatural green lightning struck the entire area.
The lightning was overwhelmingly different from natural lightning that came straight down from above. The thick sparks flew in an arc from the horizon and continually rained down on the parking lot.
Caliche had sensed the danger, so she had immediately taken evasive actions, but the men and women around her could not keep up. Their bodies were hit one after another and they fell to their knees before completely collapsing to the ground.
“This is my normal role. I move quickly about and act as a scout. Once we have accurate information on the enemy’s location, Bayloupe sends a highly destructive barrage from a distance. If necessary, Lancis can prevent the enemy from evading effectively by using all sorts of status altering attacks over a wide area and Floris can use her wings to recover me from deep within the enemy lines.”
The green lightning was similar to a carpet bombing, so Lessar too had to evade the arcing sparks as she spoke to Caliche.
“But Bayloupe is really overdoing this. And I could probably manage in a fight against her as long as she doesn’t use that Gjallarhorn. It may have been the right decision not to have her provide covering fire against the rioters.”
Lessar and Caliche faced each other amid the dancing green flashes of light.
Caliche could not hide that she was shaken, but Lessar had a belligerent smile on her face.
“Let’s keep this simple just like the lawless magicians we are.”
“Yes,” Caliche responded as if she had gotten over something.
The green electricity rained down above her head, but she did not move.
She merely raised the ball-point pen filled with holy oil and the sparks scattered in every direction.
With an odd noise, a piece of parchment appeared out of thin air.
The scrap of paper flew away like an empty cartridge and Caliche spoke as she held the spiritual item in the air.
“Let’s simply take each other out.”
Both Lessar and Caliche headed forward at the same time.
The sounds of their footsteps exploded out and the two magicians clashed at extremely close range amid the countless dancing green flashes of light.
In Lessar’s hand was a grenade-like spice bag that could create many different magical reactions.
In Caliche’s hand was the ball-point pen filled with holy oil that could freely create ice blades.
Caliche’s ice knife was faster when it came to the speed of creating a single attack.
A parchment flew up into the air like an empty cartridge and many different blades appeared.
Lessar avoided the knives coming for her throat just by moving her upper body and threw the cloth bag forward as she evaded.
She chanted a spell even though she would be affected as well.
“Earth of the left and water of the back, mix the colors of your directions with the wind. The wind of the back left which also indicates the passive becomes that which indicates peace and stagnation!!”
An explosive sound rang out.
However, it was different from the explosion using the sling from before. An impact something like being hit in the face by a solid airbag struck both Lessar and Caliche.
However, knowing the impact was coming or not changed how quickly each of them could take their next action.
Lessar was already moving her lips.
She stepped further forward.
“The wind of the back left shall quickly disperse. It shall distance itself from the peace and stagnation of the wind of the back left and instead call in calamity and a turning point!!”
She struck her clenched fist forward.
It looked less like Lessar’s small body’s strength was bringing her forward and more like her and Caliche’s bodies were being drawn together by powerful magnetism.
Of course, Caliche had no way to avoid if they were being drawn in towards each other.
Along with Caliche’s words, an upside down guillotine blade appeared on the ground.
The blade was about the size of a drawing board and it blocked the path of Lessar’s fist like a metal shutter.
As a clanging noise rang out, another parchment flew through the air.
Lessar pulled out another cloth bag and threw it forward underhanded. She was so close to her enemy that it flew back behind Caliche, but Lessar moved her lips regardless.
“Fire of the right and water of the back, mix the colors of your directions with the wind. The wind of the back right that contrarily holds both the active and the passive becomes that which indicates calamity and a turning point!!”
That time, a light exploded out and an explosive wind was created.
Caliche must have feared being drawn in towards Lessar by the explosion behind her because she twisted her body to the right to escape it.
But that was not Lessar’s aim.
She was after the parchment that was ejected like an empty cartridge after Caliche activated a spell.
The parchment was blown through the air by the wind and Lessar grabbed it between her index finger and middle finger.
“I was right. It’s Ex Voto. It’s a method of more easily causing miracles by communicating your request to the Son of God via a third party such as one of the patron saints throughout history. Using parchment rather than an object is very like a Russian-style cabal. Were you trying to have it correspond to an icon?”
A giant rotating blade like what would be used to cut lumber appeared on the ground.
But Lessar ignored it and continued speaking.
“With Ex Voto, as proof that the prayer by proxy was carried out, the ceremony is ended when an offering related to the prayer is brought to the altar of the patron saint. For example, it could be a text indicating the contents of the prayer carried out. However…” Lessar brought her index finger in near the approaching rotating blade. “It would be simple to determine the method of cancelling the spell once you have that text, don’t you think?”
With a clear noise, the rotating blade shattered.
Lessar did not even give the woman time to be surprised.
She charged through the fragments of ice that glittered like certain types of decorations and headed in close to Caliche.
She held a cloth bag in her hand.
“Fire of the right and wind of the front, mix the colors of your directions with the wind. The wind of the front right which also indicates the active becomes that which indicates attack and change!!”
Caliche knew she could not make it in time.
It would explode before her eyes.
However, she still produced an ice knife from thin air despite knowing it would be futile.
Lessar continued speaking.
“The wind of the front right shall quickly disperse. It shall distance itself from the attack and change of the wind of the front right and instead indicate defense and immutability!!”
By the time Caliche realized what had happened, it was already over.
The ice knife she had created with her own spell did not stab into Lessar. Instead, it shattered and the many pieces stabbed into Caliche’s own upper body.
The symbol of defense and immutability.
It was as if the knife had been reflected.
Mikoto investigated the data in that storage area.
She was trying to find the details and locations of the as yet unseen higher ups controlling the plan.
The shopping mall was trying to drop a nuclear bomb on Academy City using old fighters, but Lessar predicted that the higher ups held the detonation code for the Solntse in order to prevent the pilots from betraying them.
Mikoto more or less agreed.
In order to stop the Solntse from detonating, they had to find the higher ups and prevent the detonation code from being entered before the bomb was dropped.
“…I can’t find anything,” Mikoto finally muttered while looking at her PDA’s screen.
She had found the name of the person with the highest level of responsibility according to the documents, but from what she could find, that person was only for show and had little to do with the actual work. It was possible that person was completely unaware of the shopping mall’s darkness.
But given that those controlling the shopping mall from the shadows truly did exist, that result was suspicious. They must have worked to leave absolutely no trace because there was absolutely no sign of them. They were of course not in any register of names, and nothing that appeared to be their names was listed in any of the documents.
Mikoto looked at the ID card with the highest authority that Lessar had given her.
At the very least, the person who had worn that card around their neck had to exist, but the data made even his existence seem doubtful.
(…I can see why Setali truly felt there were no evil higher ups.)
But one thing was for sure.
The plan that had brought a Solntse into Academy City and that was about to drop one of those hydrogen bombs on the city with an old fighter was still continuing.
If she did not find those higher ups as soon as possible, that plan would be carried out.
With that in mind, Mikoto continued searching through the stored data, but she did not find anything.
Just as she was about to sigh, her fingertips suddenly stopped.
It was not related to the higher ups, but she had found some data that interested her.
(…Data on the secondary plan…)
The large computer at the center of Code EIC had only had data on the primary plan to bring a Solntse into Academy City and detonate it on a timer. There had not even been a file on the secondary plan that would be carried out if the primary one failed.
She had now found a description of that secondary plan.
(I’m sure the secondary plan is just the plan to drop a Solntse from a modified MIG-21, but…)
If Mikoto were to read through the detailed description by the shopping mall, she might find some useful data she did not know yet. If she found information on the flight path or time for the modified MIG-21s, it would be easier to intercept them.
Mikoto opened the file with that in mind, but…
She forgot to breathe for an instant.
Mikoto repeated herself while still looking at the PDA.
Multiple contrails passed by over Shirai Kuroko’s head.
They were likely from cutting edge fighters scrambling from District 23. It was not just 2 or 3 of them. She could tell that over 10 fighters had flown by above her.
They must have been cutting across Academy City while raising their altitude because the noise was quite loud even for Shirai who was on the ground.
(I wonder what official reason was given for those heading out of the city…)
She doubted they could completely disappear from the radar. And even if they could, it would be difficult to play ignorant if people on the surface saw them. She guessed Academy City was preparing some kind of official announcement.
But she did not have time to be surprised by that.
If the information from Mikoto was correct, at least one modified MIG-21 with the ability to carry a nuclear weapon was heading their way over the Sea of Japan. They could not allow something ridiculous like a hydrogen bomb to be dropped on Academy City.
At first Anti-Skill had been skeptical of what Shirai was saying, but their atmosphere had completely changed. After all, the terrorists using ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles had turned out to actually have a hydrogen bomb.
Since Anti-Skill had taken command of the investigation, Shirai was not able to step past the yellow tape cutting off the path inside.
From outside, she spoke to the powered suits inside.
“Is the recovered uranium ornament…is the hydrogen bomb safe now?”
“Luckily, the level of danger was much lower than it could have been since it was obtained before the timer was activated. However, completely cutting off the circuit will be difficult. The nuclear technicians and bomb squad have to work carefully together to do so safely.”
There was a 20 or 30 year gap between the technology inside and outside Academy City. Normally, the city would have had the advantage when it came to tech, but working on a hydrogen bomb still made them work cautiously.
Also, Academy City did not defuse bombs by cutting colorful cords with wire cutters like in movies and dramas. They would use special chemicals to cause a chemical reaction that turned the explosive into a material that would not explode or they would throw it into the back of a special truck with armor on the level of a tank and completely detonate it within. The work done in those cases was usually done by a remote controlled robot with a manipulating arm.
However, that changed when it came to a hydrogen bomb.
That kind of bomb could not be safely detonated.
“The more destructive and more dangerous the bomb, the more we have to rely on old methods. …How ironic.”
“But at least we don’t have to carry out the work with the timer counting down like in a movie.”
The Anti-Skill officers in powered suits looked up at the remaining traces of the contrails in the sky.
“…But that’s the real problem right now. A modified MIG-21 could drop a hydrogen bomb on us at any time.”
Shirai felt the same way.
“I know the threat is approaching, but there is nothing I can do… Really, this is not good to my stomach.”
The ice knife shattered before Lessar’s eyes.
The countless sparkling shards of ice struck Caliche’s upper body almost like a shotgun blast.
Caliche’s body was blown a few meters away while blood sprayed about.
“Well, I guess that about settles this.”
Lessar looked around the area and it seemed Caliche’s comrades were mostly collapsed and unable to move due to the green lightning attacks. It would have been a problem if one of them was faking it, but it did not seem that any of them had had the strength to spare needed to calculate out that far.
Lessar walked over as if dragging her exhausted body along and picked up her steel glove. She then turned toward Caliche who was collapsed face down on the ground.
Paying no heed to the woman’s bleeding, Lessar forcibly flipped her face up.
She crouched down and stared at the woman’s face.
“Even if you remain silent, I have ways of ‘looking inside’, so there’s no point in being stubborn.”
“Why did you kill the higher ups of the shopping mall and take over their plan? Do you have the detonation code for the nuke?”
“Our spiritual items…” Caliche moved her bloody lips, but she was not responding to Lessar’s questions. “From the number and details of our spiritual items, you realized that we had people in hiding providing logistical support in addition to the direct battle unit…”
“If you knew that much, why didn’t you realize it? Why didn’t you realize that leaving the ones who specialize in spiritual work and construction was much more dangerous than letting the battle unit remain active?”
Lessar’s breath caught in her throat.
At almost the exact same time, a giant mass of constructions broke through the wall of the large business facility and into the parking lot.
Lessar slowly stood up from her crouching position as she saw the giant silhouette through the dust that had been blown into the air.
What she saw was difficult to describe.
It was something like giant wheels. They were basically made of a white stone like marble and the outer edge that contacted the ground was reinforced with a gold-colored metal.
The small ones had a radius of 3 meters and the large ones had a radius of 15 meters.
The wheels were not simple ones. Instead, they were made of different sized wheels on top of each other like the gear of a mountain bike.
The large and small wheels fit into each other like gears connecting them together like a giant snake.
While making creaking noises, the giant wheel snake slowly bent its large form. It was as if it were setting its aim on Lessar.
If that giant form came at her, she would be crushed thinner than a piece of paper.
“Oh, come on, really? It feels like Telesma has been forcibly gathered together.”
“We originally set that up as insurance.” Without getting up, Caliche moved just her head to look over and smile at Lessar. “We would use it if the shopping mall decided not to give us our reward. The situation got out of hand and we lost our chance to use it, but it looks like it has come in handy after all.”
The giant form that appeared through the curtain of dust was easily over 70 meters long. It was likely a weapon designed to crush things with its weight.
Even though the shopping mall was huge, it did not have the space needed to hide a weapon that large. Either a magic circle to call it in from afar had been cleverly hidden or only the necessary things had been gathered so that the other parts could be gathered together automatically.
The weapon could likely cause quite a bit of damage just by freely running around and making random U-turns, but Caliche would not have called it in for just that.
It was best to assume it had some kind of magical power added in.
“Don’t tell me that thing’s for sale too,” Lessar said sarcastically, but Caliche did not respond.
When she did open her mouth to speak, it was on a completely different subject.
“It isn’t us.”
“We have no interest in oranges or nuclear materials. …Code EIC is a purely scientific product. However, the science side is not enough to investigate how it affects the human mind. For that reason, they contacted us in secret asking us to observe the people’s minds from the occult point of view. We were signed onto the project as just one of many sensors.”
“In exchange, we were going to use Code EIC’s improvements on the human mind from a group psychology point of view for ourselves, but that promise was broken. To repay them for that, we killed the higher ups and then tried to get our hands on Code EIC once more.”
Caliche was speaking as if she was not even looking at Lessar who stood before her.
It was possible that her consciousness was fading due to her blood loss.
It was true that Code EIC could be quite useful from a religious point of view. Using uncertain information such as rumors and urban legends, one could isolate a single group and freely regulate the merits of people within that community. One could create a headquarters, a leader, or a natural enemy just as one wanted.
It was the same as raising or lowering the values of products.
Some people within the community would appear to be bright and shining and others would appear stagnant, dark, and fallen into the shadows.
In truth, the goal Code EIC had been created for could be called a financial religion.
Just by changing out what was at the center of it all completely changed the community.
And it could be changed to be like the world that Lessar and Caliche lived in.
“But it isn’t us,” Caliche said with an odd firmness to her voice despite her condition. “Someone is continuing the plan and detonating the Solntse, but it isn’t us.”
Lessar turned her attention more to Caliche than to the giant weapon made of a great number of wheels. The woman was merely smiling. She would likely not say anything more even if Lessar pressed her for more information. In fact, doing so could even lead the woman to finally dying of blood loss where she would just continue smiling as a corpse.
And most importantly, the giant enemy that had appeared from the shopping mall was not going to let her take her time questioning the woman.
“Not good, not good.”
While using her magical communications to order an additional bombardment from Bayloupe, Lessar held out her steel glove.
“This is not time to be worrying about stopping a nuclear explosion that doesn’t especially concern me.”
Despite being covered in bandages, the security guard Enirya G. Algonskaya was still continuing her work.
“So the riots are spreading through the central business facility more than the hotels and airport. The number of people trying to take advantage of the chaos is increasing…”
Enirya thought as she checked on the situation using the Semipublic AR.
The rioting had begun on the pretext of protecting the peace by eliminating the dangerous person from Academy City who was trying to detonate a hydrogen bomb, but that surface reason was beginning to crumble.
However, that also meant that the rioters were regaining their ability to think rationally. If the situation reached the point where they could shake them mentally using verbal warnings rather than having to resort to force, the situation could be resolved more easily, but…
Suddenly, one of her colleagues who was similarly injured called out to her.
“I have a report.”
“Not much is going to surprise me after all this.”
“A giant 70 meter construction has been spotted within the grounds of the business facility. It appears to be moving about while destroying the building.”
“What!? What does it look like!?”
Enirya snapped at her colleague, but he did not seem to have a good grasp on the situation himself.
Enirya let out a groan as she received the explanation that it was a mysterious construction that could possibly be a weapon or a vehicle and that looked like a collection of many giant wheels.
“…Are the higher ups trying to literally crush the rioting using some secret weapon of a road roller or something?”
“The details are unknown, but it seems to be having the effect of putting a stop to the rioting in various places. It seems the people’s thoughts are changing from joining in a dangerous situation to watching a situation they do not understand.”
Suddenly, a new piece of information appeared on the Semipublic AR Enirya was looking at. She frowned and set the screen at a level where her colleague could see it.
“It seems the use of martial law has been approved.”
“The approval of the higher ups is needed for that.”
That was indeed their chance to put an end to the rioting. If martial law was declared while the rioters were focused on the giant construction, they could cut the rioters off from each other by cutting off the flow of information. After that, they could crush the riots individually until enough of the rioters had been defeated that the rioting could not continue.
Her colleague looked relieved.
“We lost track of where they were during the riots, but it seems they’re okay. And they are still powerful enough to take the actions necessary to bring functionality back to the city.”
“Wait a second,” Enirya said cutting him off. “Don’t over half of the higher ups have to give their electronic signatures to enact special orders such as declaring martial law or imposing a gag order?”
“Y-yes. What of it?”
“For security reasons, those electronic signatures are only valid if they are carried out through the devices in the manager’s room. And with the higher ups missing, they of course are not in that room.” Enirya paused for a second before continuing. “Who made those electronic signatures and from where?”
“C-could it just be because we are in a state of emergency? I don’t know where the higher ups have evacuated to, but as long as they are all gathered in one place, they could still enact one of those special orders without going through the manager’s room.”
“That isn’t the issue. Even if it was the higher ups that did this, they can’t just ignore the security issue. Even if they are secured in some kind of shelter, they would not be able to send out electronic signatures at this level.”
“Once again, there is some system we are unaware of,” Enirya said as if she had given up on something. “But if so, we have no proof that these electronic signatures actually came from the higher ups. In order to accurately judge the situation, we need to find out who made these electronic signatures.”
“We will thoroughly investigate this.” Enirya pointed at the wall with the window displayed on it. “We will find out who made these and where they were sent from.”
The giant wheel snake broke through the wall of the shopping mall and appeared outside.
However, part of Lessar was still optimistic.
The giant wheel snake was indeed a dynamic weapon with a focus on destruction, but it had likely been prepared to destroy the entire landscape of an enemy base rather than an individual magician.
That was why Lessar had a chance of winning. If the destruction was the broad wide scale type, then there would be gaps through which she could slip. The giant wheel snake was constructed out of giant circles. When a ball was put inside a box it just barely fit inside, there would be gaps in the corners. If Lessar continually moved about aiming for those areas, she could avoid the enemy’s attacks.
Or so it should have been.
Lessar suddenly noticed that the rubble made of broken building materials was being sucked in towards the surface of the giant wheels.
It was not just a collection of giant wheels. It was a giant spiritual item that had been created by a magic cabal.
Lessar had forgotten that simple fact, so she was caught off guard.
Immediately afterwards, the countless large and small wheels plowed toward Lessar with a loud grinding roar.
The road surface broke under its weight and the remains were sucked in and utterly crushed at the point where the wheels met. Lessar’s small body would soon meet the same fate.
When that giant form broke into the parking lot, Lessar was already gone.
The giant wheels chewed through everything in its way.
She could not fix her gaze on anything.
She could not feel gravity or the ground on her legs that dangled down below.
Even the flow of her blood was unstable, so she had lost the ability to think properly.
Amid all that, Lessar blinked.
“…Huh? Why am I being embraced by Floris?”
“Because I saved you,” answered Floris, a girl who also worked at Nihon Daruma.
Just like Lessar had a tail stretching out from her miniskirt, Floris had small wing-like decorations attached to her shoulders. Those decorations currently had even bigger wings of light extending from them and she was flying at high speed just off the ground. Just when she occasionally needed to adjust her direction, she would lightly kick off the ground.
They cut between buildings and flew right past the trees lining the roads, but Lessar felt no fear. Just like when riding a bus or train, the acrobatics of the driver did not feel real as a passenger.
In fact, her focus was mostly on the giant wheel snake that was chasing after them and crushing the trees and street lights before sucking them up between the wheels where they were further crushed.
Floris spoke as she worked to keep her flight stable.
“But what is that thing? It looks like a weapon that crushes things with its weight and size alone. Is it used to suppress an enemy base by crushing absolutely everything flat?”
“If it is…ew. Caliche and the others must have been squished as flat as a newspaper by their own spiritual item.”
“Wouldn’t it be set to not crush its allies? For example, it could be set to not put any weight on its allies.”
“What do you think the base of the spell is?”
“I’ve only seen it from afar, but it seems to be different from the patron saint types they’ve used so far. Those Telesma wheels probably have their foundation in the Ophanim.”
“But the quality of the power used seems to be of Michael. For some reason, he is recorded as being both an archangel and a patron saint, right?”
“They have forced power into a spiritual item that has its symbols skewed. It sounds like they would lose quite a bit of power constructing it that way.”
“I’m pretty sure there was some story related to Michael that had to do with chains. Something about linking circles together.”
“You mean binding the highest class of fallen angel for 1000 years? Hmm, now that you mention it, the absorption of the rubble might be related to that. And the lack of damage to allies could be added on by an expanded interpretation of the fact that the chains that bind evil do not bind believers.”
“So what do we do now?” Lessar looked back behind them while Floris still held onto her. “That thing’s a weapon that just crushes things under its giant form, so it will likely pursue us to the end. Given its speed and destructive power, you may not be able to lose it with just your wings.”
“Of course, I’ll be turning back partway through.” Floris responded arbitrarily. “But it doesn’t look like it’s going to just wait around.”
Lessar did not even have time to look confused.
The giant wheel snake crashed through a nearby wall and charged toward Lessar and Floris. Their opponent ignored the layout of the roads and just plowed straight through buildings to get at them.
“Eh? You’re kidding!! That thing moves similarly to a collection of gears. With that much rubble in there, it should grind to a halt like getting some cloth caught between the gears!!”
“Well, it is part of the occult.”
“I guess there’s no complaining about it then.”
Arcs of green lightning appeared from afar and attacked the giant wheel snake, but Lessar doubted they would have much effect. With a tail of sparks following it, the giant construction pressed on toward Lessar and Floris.
It started making continuous hard crunching noises.
The construction of the giant wheel snake was changing. Like the gear of a bicycle changing, it changed its pattern to one more effective for chasing the two girls.
“Have you found its weakness yet!?”
“I’ve probably come up with about the same thing you have.”
Floris turned sharply and flew through the streets while darting through the gaps in the rubble the countless wheels had created. Lessar turned her focus back to the giant wheel snake that continued following them while crushing the buildings and trees.
More accurately, she focused on the points where the giant wheels met.
“When it swallows up pieces of rubble that are too large and when it changes the arrangement of the gears, the wheels temporarily ignore gravity and distance themselves from each other. Of course, a mystical power is needed to cause such mystical phenomena. In this case, it’s Telesma.”
“If we time it carefully and interfere at that moment, the normal rearrangement pattern will fail and something terrible could happen. A huge amount of power is needed to move something that huge, so having that power go out of control will create plenty of destructive power on its own.”
“Right, right.” Floris raised the output of her wings of light. “But the main problem is that those are not the same as simple wheels or gears. To make them grind to a halt, we need analyze what magical symbols those wheels use and what process they use to rearrange.”
“There are two ways to do that,” Lessar suggested while moving her fingers. “The first is to continue letting it attack us like this. If you’re skillful enough to avoid all of its attacks, I can carry out the analysis slowly but surely. But it doesn’t look like you have the mobility to spare to do that and the plan to drop a nuke on Academy City is still ongoing. It wouldn’t be good to stretch this out unnecessarily.”
“What’s the second?”
“That is of course to get on it directly to get near the ridiculously huge wheels.”
Floris fell silent upon hearing that.
She finally opened her mouth to speak while continuing to quickly fly at low altitude.
“…Do you understand what you’re saying?”
“Of course. Only our scouting specialist—that’s me—can carry out the analysis of that spiritual item. You couldn’t do it, Floris.”
“If I let go now, you’ll be upside down. Even if you do land on top of the pursuing giant wheel snake, your feet will get caught in the wheels’ absorption and you’ll be thrown upside down into the gap between the wheels.”
“The axis of the wheels is not rotating. Only the wheel around it is rotating at high speed. If I can pinpoint my landing on that, I won’t get caught up in it.”
“Do you see how fast it’s moving? Don’t you think you’ll be thrown off by inertia if it makes a sharp turn?”
“If I can get close enough, the actual analysis won’t take much time at all. If I can analyze what magical symbols are used in the regulation of the intervals before getting thrown off, you and the others can defeat that giant snake.”
“If you fail at any point in that, you’ll die!! And all the data going into that plan is just speculation! If any of your assumptions are wrong, you’ll be jumping into a complete dead end!!”
“Floris,” Lessar slowly interrupted. “We have an objective here, right?”
“That objective is not to die here. And even if I do die, we need to avoid utter destruction. Do you understand? Analyzing those magical symbols is necessary to defeat that thing, only I can carry that analysis out, and I have to get close enough to touch those wheels to do so. That’s just the situation we’re in here.”
“God damn it.”
“If you understand, then let go of me on the count of three. Okay. Three, two, one…”
There was no hesitation in Lessar’s voice.
And realistically, there was no other way.
As Floris continued to fly at low altitude, she kicked strongly off the ground once which sent her flying up about 10 meters into the sky. And then she let go of Lessar.
Her cell phone would not connect.
Mikoto squeezed the plastic body with enough force to almost crush it, but she still could not connect.
At first, she had thought it was because the storage area was surrounded with thick walls and she had left the room, but it would not connect no matter where she went.
The city’s communications facilities may have been taken out due to the riots or the communications network may have been intentionally cut off.
It did not matter as long as she could not contact Shirai Kuroko or someone else in Academy City.
With the secondary plan being carried out, whether she could contact them or not was literally a matter of life or death.
(Ahh, dammit!! First, I need to figure out how far the communications are cut off. At this rate, the Solntse could still be detonated!!)
That was when her cell phone suddenly started to ring.
(Why…? No, maybe it’s still working within the city.)
An unfamiliar number was displayed on the screen, but she did not particularly care.
She answered the phone.
“Hi there. If I told you it’s been a while, can you figure out who this is?”
“Oh, lovely. So bank transfer scams are popular outside of Japan, too.”
“This is the happy and embarrassed Lancis. We got naked together in a back alley and changed into swimsuits.”
“…Wow. You’ve taken the memory I want to recall the least and set is as the thumbnail. And why do you know my number?”
“Do you know how much information can be taken from a cell phone that’s in wallet mode?”
Mikoto just about yelled out, “Just tell me where you really got my number!!”, but she resisted.
“Okay, what do you want? Oh, and I need to ask: can you connect outside the city with your cell phone? There’s something wrong with the signal and I can’t get a connection.”
“I haven’t tried, so I don’t know. And I didn’t call you to discuss the number of antennae.”
“Hey, why are you suddenly just trailing off like that?”
“This is difficult to say, but Lessar…”
Her feet slipped.
It was almost a miracle that Lessar managed to land on the nonrotating axis without getting crushed by the giant wheel.
And once she landed, the rest would not take long.
It was true that the weapon was quite powerful and getting caught up in it just once would likely give her wounds she would never recover from.
However, that also meant a lot of effort had to go into controlling it. They would likely have decided to make the magical symbols as pronounced, clear, and easy to understand as possible.
Once she got near, she could quickly analyze it.
And after that, it would not be difficult to destroy the giant wheel snake.
Suddenly, she felt a dull vibration. She felt it coming from her legs, so Lessar looked down at her feet, but she quickly realized that she was wrong.
The entire giant wheel snake was shaking greatly.
As the wheels rearranged, the giant structure’s entire silhouette changed from the straight “snake” to something more triangular.
But just like a bicycle’s gear, the wheels were not in a completely straight line. Instead, they shifted slightly to the side with each connection.
The giant construction almost seemed to be trying to scrape off and crush a bit of “dirt” from its side.
If the “top” of the triangle above her head came straight down, it would definitely hit Lessar where she stood on top of the axis.
Lessar’s throat quickly grew dry.
Her thought processes reached a point where she could think of nothing but life or death.
At that time, she had two options.
First, she could jump away as quickly as possible and run as far away as she could in order to avoid being hit by the wheel being swung down. However, the giant wheel snake could make a quick U-turn at any time. She doubted she could escape on foot and there was no guarantee that Floris would be able to pick her up.
Second, she could carry out the analysis of the magical symbols of the wheels knowing she could end up being hit by the attack. However, even if she completed the analysis, she still had to put together a spell to stop the movements of the wheels, so her odds of success were quite low.
And the option she chose was…
“Yeah,” she said with a small smile.
The slight bit of fear on her face disappeared.
“If I’m likely to get killed either way, I have to choose the one that won’t leave me with a guilty conscience!!”
She yelled out.
She stepped forward.
She stretched out her hand.
She placed her palm just barely off of the side of the quickly rotating wheel and recited something under her breath.
Lessar cast aside the option of jumping off the axle and focused all her energy on analyzing the magical symbols.
She felt as if she had grasped something.
But in that time, the giant wheel snake that had become triangular continued down straight above her head. It moved slowly but accurately down and it was more like a circular saw used to slice lumber than it was a blunt weapon.
It gave a strong impression of death.
Lessar could almost see the countdown until it hit.
Even so, she continued fighting to find a means of defeating the giant wheel snake down to the very end.
With an explosive noise, the entire surface shook.
The huge body of the giant wheel snake trembled.
Its already bent silhouette became even more twisted.
However, that twisting had not been carried out by the giant wheel snake’s own power.
It had been done by an external force.
It had been forcibly twisted by the “other power” that stood opposed to magic.
In other words…
It had been Tokiwadai Middle School’s Railgun.
Lessar heard the explosion after a slight delay.
The giant mass of wheels had been greatly twisted to the side, but it still managed to force itself down toward Lessar.
However, the line of wheels that had been twisted by the Railgun was too far out to hit Lessar. The external force had caused it to miss its initial attack point.
Whether it hit or missed, once it attacked, it lost time until it could attack again. In order to rearrange the many wheels and attack Lessar again, it would have to create a slight opening.
(This will work. I’ve read the contents of their spiritual item!!)
“Bayloupe, Floris, Lancis, I need assistance!! It is indeed related to Michael! It uses the property of bringing balance to the world via military force to constantly give stability, preservation, and regulation to the space between the wheels!!”
In that case, the conditions to create an explosion were simple.
Just like all the other angels, Michael could not be destroyed or brought into disorder. What was considered “stable” for any circumstances had already been inputted into him, so he would take the optimal action and bring about the optimal result. But Lessar and the others were not being threatened by Michael himself. It was nothing more than energy.
What was considered “stable” had been conveniently overwritten by the magic user who had brought in the Telesma.
That meant they could easily make the giant wheel snake self-destruct by interfering with that point and destructively overwriting the conditions for that stability.
The giant wheel snake tried to rearrange its wheels to change its shape and destroy Lessar.
Lessar did not overlook that.
It was her only chance.
“The archangel and patron saint that is St. Michael holds the chains and the key. The chains bind the highest class of fallen angels and the key seals the pit into which the king of demons is cast so that 1000 years of stability may occur.” She recited a spell. “But now that key is to be reconfirmed!! Can the key truly seal the pit? Is it enough to seal the king of demons? Is it appropriate to bring about 1000 years of stability!? Recalculate the necessary outputs needed to match those conditions!!”
The phenomenon that occurred then was quite simple.
The giant wheels fell and completely shattered the rubble and road surface below.
Normally, everything would have been swallowed up and crushed. Nothing in the area would have remained. Not the buildings, not the trees, not anything.
But a moment before, Lessar had rewritten the conditions. The stability between the wheels had been lost and the countless wheels both large and small had scattered. Some collapsed to the side like a coin on its side falling over and some continued rolling and slammed into the wall of a building.
“Oh, oh, oh, oh…”
Lessar jumped down to the ground from the axle. It was only about 5 meters up. An amateur would probably break some bones at that height, but a trained stuntman could jump down that far without any cushions.
The road surface there should have been made into part of the Semipublic AR, but it had not been able to withstand the weight that had been put on it. Sparks flew from various areas and it showed no sign of functioning.
When she landed, Lessar saw Mikoto striking a daunting pose with her hands on her hips.
Lessar had a bad feeling about what was to come.
“I thought I told you not to go running off on your own.”
That vague response caused sparks to fly her way.
“It seems heading after the higher ups of the shopping mall was in vain. The…um…outside group that was controlling that giant wheel snake seems to have been involved as well, but they said they are not the ones who have taken control of the attack plan to use the Solntse in Academy City either. In other words…” said Lessar.
She hid the fact that the higher ups of the shopping mall had all been turned to headless corpses, but she still managed to more or less get the situation across.
“There’s still someone else who has taken control of the plan?”
Mikoto held her head in her hands.
Given what she had found out about the secondary plan in the storage room, the situation was not looking good.
“By the way, what is this about the secondary plan? Is it not a plan to drop a Solntse from a modified MIG-21 after all?”
“No, it isn’t. It turns out…”
A number of explosive noises rang out above the Sea of Japan.
The modified MIG-21s were loaded with chaff and flairs, but there was simply a limit to what they could do. The cutting edge fighters prepared by Academy City were more than two generations more advanced. And the difference in numbers was simply too great.
It was impossible to fly such that the more advanced fighters did not get on their tail.
There was no way to escape a lock.
Once a missile was fired, it was all over.
Even while taking special actions like quick rotations and using deceptive actions such as using chaff and flares, they could not continue to avoid the explosives forever while they approached with sharp angles.
“Klyuch Samolyot to Nochi Samolyot!! That’s enough!! Eject right now. Smoke is coming from your main wing where it was hit. If you stick with this any longer, you’ll just get caught up in the explosion!!”
“Nochi Samolyot to all crafts!! Not yet! As long as we aren’t all taken out, we win!! I’ll draw the enemy crafts to me!! While I do…!!”
The ocean was just too vast.
Academy City was just too far away.
The pilot of Klyuch Samolyot looked at a gauge in the cockpit with a burning feeling in his stomach.
Just a bit more.
The time was coming.
No matter how erratically he flew or even if he loop-the-looped, his cold sweating would not stop. He was being surrounded from all sides. He would not last long. Those were his simple feelings. He was of course outnumbered and outclassed, but his modified MIG-21 also had a giant weight hanging down from it. It was impossible to take part in a dogfight like that.
Machine gun fire started coming from one of the cutting edge fighters on his tail and a line of tracer bullets approached. Shortly thereafter, the unpleasant sound of metal being torn reverberated through the fighter.
“Shit!! My right aileron was taken out!!”
With that destroyed, he could no longer tilt the craft. Simply put, it was like having the steering wheel no longer work. And it was clear he would be shot down in no time now that another penalty had been added on in that already difficult situation.
But the pilot of Klyuch Samolyot smiled upon seeing what one of the gauges said.
They had won.
“Klyuch Samolyot to all crafts.”
With that, they had won.
“The time has come. There is no need to stick with this any longer! Let’s end this quickly!!”
After yelling that, the pilot of Klyuch Samolyot yanked on a lever which activated the ejection device. Tiny explosives detached the clear windshield covering the cockpit and it blew away as if it had slid back. Immediately afterwards, the seat and the pilot in it were ejected.
Prisluga Samolyot and Nochi Samolyot’s pilots also ejected from their old fighters and their parachutes opened.
“What?” said a bewildered Academy City pilot. “They just abandoned their hydrogen bomb. That was their last hope and their trump card. I doubt they can swim back to Russia once they fall in the ocean. They’ll just end up being recovered by one of our ships. It’s like they want to be captured.”
“…Look, dammit. There’s a submarine coming up to the surface. They were planning to recover the pilots here from the beginning.”
“Should we sink it?”
“We only expected this to be a dogfight. We don’t have any torpedoes.”
Meanwhile, the pilots that had fallen into the ocean were recovered.
One of the Academy City pilots clicked his tongue at the submarine that started to submerge.
“I guess we should be rejoicing that they gave up their hydrogen bomb. Contact the salvage ship and have them begin the recovery operation for the dropped hydrogen bomb as planned. Now that we know the enemy has a sub, you should tell them to make sure to sweep the sea for mines.”
The Academy City pilot took one last stubborn sweep over the area where the submarine had submerged.
“So in the end, what were they after?”
“Please tell me this is a joke…” Lessar said while peering over at the PDA Mikoto was holding.
However, it was the truth.
It displayed the details of the secondary plan which was to come into effect upon the failure of the primary plan of using a timer to detonate the Solntse hydrogen bomb that had been brought into Academy City.
We can only prepare a single Solntse which is being used as the uranium ornament. As such, it is necessary to put together this plan so that our single shot is used to its fullest.
In the secondary plan, three MIG-21s modified to carry nuclear weapons will be sent out as a diversion. They will be holding dummy bombs the same size as a Solntse. Those three will draw the attention of the air defense network, so they will not notice what we are truly after.
We will be sending a small UAV. It will fly above Academy City and act as a mobile antenna with which to transmit the detonation signal to the Solntse being used as the uranium ornament.
Even if the timer is stopped or it is recovered before the timer is activated, the Solntse will detonate as soon as it receives the detonation signal from the UAV.
The closer to Academy City the UAV takes off from, the less the risk, but if it is too close, it may be detected before even taking off. As such, it will be taking off from a cruiser in Tokyo Bay.
“The modified MIG-21s are just decoys? They merely have the ability to carry nuclear weapons, but they are not actually loaded with hydrogen bombs?” muttered Lessar in utter shock.
Mikoto’s face had also paled, but part of the plan made sense to her.
Lessar had once predicted that the Solntses to be dropped from modified MIG-21s could not be detonated by the pilots. She had concluded that it was quite likely that they would not detonate without a detonation code transmitted from the higher ups in order to prevent the pilots from betraying them.
But that would not work.
To prevent the leak of information on their technology, Academy City had a powerful jamming signal running parallel to its outer wall. Even if they transmitted a signal from the Russian shopping mall, there was no guarantee that it would make it to the Solntse within Academy City.
That was what the UAV was for.
An environment allowing long distance transmissions had been created where the person behind the plan could send the detonation signal to the UAV or even cancel it if necessary.
Once the small UAV with the detonation signal inside it made it within Academy City, it could transmit the signal without being affected by the jamming.
It would detonate the Solntse that Anti-Skill had recovered before the timer had been activated and was currently being prepared to be dismantled.
“The danger is not over even if those old fighters are shot down,” Mikoto said as if continuing Lessar’s words. “If the UAV relaying the detonation signal makes it to Academy City, the city will be utterly blown away!!”
She would not make it in time if she tried to return to Academy City.
All Mikoto and Lessar could do was find whoever it was that had taken over the plan and bring it all to a stop from the top down.
But where was the person behind it?
The higher ups of the Russian shopping mall were out of the picture already. And the outside group that had apparently been manipulating them from the background also was not continuing the plan using the nuke. Who was in control of the plan? Were there really that many layers of secret groups working in the shadows behind the previous group?
“This isn’t going to turn into a situation where there actually isn’t anyone else behind this, is it?” said Lessar quietly
“You mean this plan using a nuke is just continuing despite no one being in control of it?”
“No, not that.” Lessar seemed as if she was having trouble saying what she was trying to say. “I don’t know all that much about science, so an elite Academy City student like you might just laugh at me, but…”
“This city seems to have a means of moving the entire organization without the existence of a clear boss…”
A very bad feeling came over Mikoto.
It had come to her mind too.
When she thought about it, it had been deeply related from the very first incident. It had spread the urban legends. It had caused the riots. It had free use of the cameras and the Semipublic AR, it read people’s reactions, it automatically created news sources to spread, and it manipulated group psychology like a toy car.
“The one behind this…is Code EIC itself…?” Mikoto muttered blankly.
Normally thinking, the answer was no. A machine rebelling was just too ridiculous. Anyone who regularly used computers knew that real computers and programs did not behave like that.
Code EIC was a system made to interfere with the human mind using rumors in order to alter the values of selected products.
In a world without humanity, Code EIC would have no purpose and it could display its ability the greatest in a world overflowing with people. In that case, there was a possibility that it could bare its fangs toward humanity without having any actual “will” such as hatred toward humanity or wanting to fill the world with a new order. It could just be obeying simple commands to expand its functionality or to spread its range of options.
Had Mikoto, Lessar, the occult convenience store, the workers in the shopping mall, the higher ups, and the outside group all been manipulated by Code EIC?
Had attacking Academy City been a necessary command in order to expand its functionality as a machine?
After thinking through all that, Mikoto shook her head.
“The higher ups of the shopping mall did not like the difference between Academy City’s technology and the technology disclosed to the cooperative institutions. They decided that they would create a business model even if it meant the destruction of the field of psychic powers development and tried to lessen the 20 or 30 year gap with Academy City by preparing a Solntse. They planned to cause great damage to Academy City and bring their own unreliable data to the forefront in the world.” As Mikoto spoke, she sorted through all the different ideas in her own head. “But the Russian shopping mall is not the only place that would benefit from that!! If the scientific data held by a cooperative institution would grow much more valuable after the destruction of Academy City, then many different cooperative institutions would benefit from that. There are indeed other people who would benefit from this. That way of thinking is much more realistic than saying the computer started controlling people to expand its functionality on its own!!”
“Yes. There is an actual person behind this. This person may be hiding behind Code EIC and trying to pass it all off as computer issues. But we won’t let that happen. If this person is controlling the plan, we have to stop them!!”
The secondary plan continued with its objective to reuse the Solntse hydrogen bomb that had been brought into Academy City.
A still unseen person was behind it all.
A UAV acting as an antenna to transmit the detonation signal was heading to Academy City from Tokyo Bay.
They had to stop any or all of those things.
That was the final battle.