Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume12 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Two Pairs Gently Cross Paths. Boy_Meets_Girl(X2).
Misaka Mikoto had gone off somewhere.
Kamijou was not sure why, but she had suddenly fallen into a very bad mood from the moment she had seen Misaka Imouto and that smaller version of her.
“Wait just a second. Have you forgotten whose orders you’re here on!? I thought you were supposed to do whatever I told you today for that punishment game!” she had said while blushing.
Kamijou had simply replied, “Eh? I thought you just wanted that Gekota?”
For some reason, that had caused Mikoto to bite her lip a bit.
“…!! Wha-…Ah…Uuh…That’s right! I don’t need you anymore now that I have Gekota and Pyonko! Enough of this punishment game nonsense, you idiot!!”
That shout had been accompanied by a lightning spear, so Kamijou was currently lying collapsed in a corner of the underground mall. He had succeeded in deflecting the billion volt strike with his right hand, but it had surprised him so much that he had fallen over backwards afterwards.
(Wh-what did I do wrong…?)
Mikoto had shouted “I’ve had enough of you!!” and ran off somewhere, so Kamijou was left alone feeling exhausted and not entirely sure if he had truly been released from his punishment.
(First Shirai Kuroko and now Misaka Imouto. What is with today?)
Kamijou tilted his head in confusion.
The most suspicious individual had been that girl of about 10 who had been with Misaka Imouto. Her facial features had been identical to Mikoto…or rather, to Misaka Imouto, but who had she been?
(I sure hope an additional series of 20,000 Misakas wasn’t made…)
That thought gave Kamijou a bit of a cold sweat, but the worst part was that it would not surprise him at all given what he knew of the city.
He sighed and said, “Ugh. I guess I’ll ask Misaka Imouto later. I get the feeling ignoring that now will come back to really bite me in the ass later.”
“Why are your shoulders drooping so exhaustedly? asks Misaka as Misaka clings to your back like a comforting mascot.”
Just as Kamijou received an odd reply when he absentmindedly spoke his thoughts aloud, he felt some weight added to his back. All of Kamijou’s hair stood on end at the round feeling on his back.
“Wh-what!? Are you a Konaki Jijii!?”
“Misaka is female and bringing up the occult in Academy City is absurd, says Misaka as Misaka presses her body up against you even more for stability. Misaka wants to make this her home base, says Misaka as Misaka informs you of her wish.”
The warm mass of body heat increased in weight a bit.
The trembling feeling in Kamijou’s back reached its climax.
“Wahhh!! What the hell is this!?”
As he shouted, he brought his hands behind his head, grabbed ahold of the thing clinging to his back, and dragged it in front of his face like he was performing a slam dunk. What he found hanging upside down in front of him was that mysterious tiny Misaka Imouto.
(Who is this girl?)
Kamijou tilted his head in puzzlement.
The upside down girl mimicked his mannerism and tilted her head as well.
(How the hell did things end up like this?)
Accelerator’s shoulders drooped.
He was at the area just inside the entrance to the underground mall. Specifically, he was in an open space filled with a few tables outside of a fast food restaurant. But since it was inside an underground mall, he felt there was not much difference between inside the restaurant and outside.
A girl wearing a white nun’s habit and with silver hair and green eyes had her upper body lying across one of those tables. She was buried in a large number of hamburgers, French fries, salads, and other foods. All of this had been purchased by Accelerator. The girl had not had any money at all.
It had all begun when Accelerator had brought his modern cane into the underground mall to search for Last Order. In that first instant, this mystery girl had run right into him from the side.
With an unsteady footing and voice, the girl had spoken to Accelerator.
“Oh, you’re not Touma. You’re not Touma at all. I thought you were Touma. Why aren’t you Touma? Where did Touma go? It doesn’t matter. I’m too hungry to move. It smells like salt, pepper, and meat here. I want to eat it. I want to eat that. What do I have to do? What do I have to do to eat that?”
Normally, Accelerator would have considered smashing the girl’s body to pieces and tossing her aside, but unfortunately for him, Yomikawa had told him just a few minutes before to try to do something good every once in a while. He really hated that kind of conversation. He had no real intention of faithfully taking Yomikawa’s lesson to heart, but he had a feeling he would hear something with a similar nuance to “You didn’t even last half an hour after saying you would quit smoking? Ah ha ha!” if he knocked that girl out of his way to continue on.
He was also reminded a bit of that brat by how the girl continued speaking without listening to what anyone was saying, but he would rather die than admit that affected him.
When he then kicked the starving nun into the nearby fast food restaurant and threw his wallet at her, she had uttered the ridiculous line “I want to eat this and that…I want to eat everything here!” That was how he had ended up in the current situation.
Accelerator had allowed his body to be used in many different projects in the past. All the money had simply been thrown into his bank account without being used, so this was not an issue from a monetary perspective. But he had to wonder what that nun’s limit was given how many hamburgers she was devouring in quick succession.
The nun was also holding a calico cat, but it must not have been hungry because it showed no interest in the hamburgers. (Not that it could have had them regardless thanks to the finely chopped onions on them.) The cat was meowing back and forth with a stray cat that had wandered into the underground mall. Their conversation was probably something along the lines of “I here supple muscles are in this fall.” “No way! I’ve been focusing on sharpening my claws!!” It seemed neither cat intended to declare the area was its turf.
Accelerator watched the scene of gluttony before him and muttered, “This is ridiculous… Not even dealing with that damn brat is this exhausting.”
“You don’t have to stop at every little thing. Just eat it all. But isn’t there something you should be saying to me?”
“Gulp. Yeah, thanks.”
(What a person to run into.)
Accelerator gently shook his head. He wished better luck in the next life for the people who had to deal with her day in and day out.
The nun brought the large-size drink bottles lined up on the table to her mouth and downed the small plastic bottle’s amount of liquid from each one in 5 seconds each.
“Um, my name is Index.”
“Can you even taste that?”
“I was looking for Touma, but I got too hungry before I found him. Then again, I was only trying to find him because I was hungry.”
Index tossed the small pieces of ice from one of the drink bottles into her mouth and her shoulder’s shivered a bit. Whether it was a sign of innocence or a ravenous appetite, she did not seem to notice the sauce around her mouth. The way she was full of demerits reminded Accelerator of Last Order.
Accelerator clicked his tongue, pulled out a package of pocket tissues, and wordlessly tossed them at Index’s face. He sighed when he saw her struggling to get a tissue out of the plastic packaging. He could not believe how much knowledge of the modern world she lacked.
(So she’s looking for someone too…)
The face of that suspicious figure who had not long ago been wandering around in nothing but a single blanket floated up in Accelerator’s mind. He switched on his cell phone, accessed a picture of Last Order’s face (She had swiped the phone from him when he had mentioned it had a camera. The picture was out of focus and filled with nothing but her face.), and showed it to Index.
“Have you seen this brat?”
“No,” she replied immediately. But she was oddly filled with confidence so it did not seem she was just saying that because she did not care. “I never forget a face I see even once, so I know for sure.”
Accelerator frowned, but Index must have been satisfied after eating so many hamburgers because no further explanation seemed forthcoming. She simply sprawled her upper body across the table with a happy expression on her face.
“I really am glad, though. I’ll say it again: thank you. Now I can go look for Touma without worrying about an empty stomach. Now that I’m full, I suppose I actually have less reason to find him, but I won’t be satisfied until I finish what I started.”
“I see. Well, don’t expect any help from me.”
“I’ve been here for a while now, but I still don’t really get this city. And yet I know I will never forget what paths I go down. Maybe just memorizing it isn’t enough. But I don’t care as long as I can meet the people of Academy City.”
“Great, now go away.”
“…What are you doing? Are you busy?”
“Unfortunately, I’m very busy.”
Accelerator pressed down on his cane to stand up from the chair.
In an unfortunate coincidence, he was looking for someone too.
“In other words, you’re something like a host computer that binds together Misaka Imouto and all the others?” asked Kamijou with his eyes opened wide.
Having finished her explanation, Last Order (“Another fake-sounding name…” thought Kamijou, but he kept his mouth shut) swung her small arms around.
“Misaka would say she is more of a console than a host, says Misaka as Misaka corrects you. There is no central Misaka, so there is little point in having a specific unit to act as the ‘core’ of the network, lectures Misaka as Misaka proudly puffs her chest out.”
It seemed she had been created to allow other humans to stop the Sisters if they went on a rampage. A non-member of the network the Sisters created could use her to send a “Last Order” to the network.
That alone made her sound somehow amazing (although none if it felt real to Kamijou), but Kamijou was left wondering what she was doing wasting time around here.
“Um…Misaka came to thank you for when you saved her from the experiment, says Misaka as Misaka suggests this is a Tsuru no Ongaeshi-like turn of events.”
“You say that, but what’s the real reason.”
“You aren’t going to believe Misaka even for an instant!? cries Misaka as Misaka begins stamping her feet!! But yes, it is just a coincidence that Misaka found you here to thank, says Misaka as Misaka reveals the truth!”
“Then my mistrust was justified.”
“Your lack of delicacy really ticks Misaka off! says Misaka as Misaka begins beating you lightly with both hands!!”
It seemed he had angered her.
As he had no other choice, Kamijou looked around and said, “Sorry, sorry, sorry. I’ll buy you some popcorn over there, so will you forgive me?”
“Do you really think a girl’s sensitive heart can be manipulated by food!? says Misaka as Misaka is completely taken aback!!”
It seemed his methods for dealing with Index had sunk in deeper than he had thought.
(I need to be more careful.)
“Sorry. Then we’ll go without food.”
“Misaka never said she wouldn’t eat it! Misaka would love some popcorn! says Misaka as Misaka shows off a new technique by eating the popcorn but still being angry!!”
(Which is it?)
Kamijou was getting fed up with her, but with the way Last Order was tugging on his pants, it seemed he could settle it with food after all.
Kamijou bought a cylindrical bucket of popcorn with a sweet caramel flavor added. He pushed it into Last Order’s small arms.
“Oh! It’s as big as Misaka’s head, says Misaka as Misaka is impressed by its economical size.”
“…Whoops. That has to be bigger than your stomach.”
(Then again, that nun could probably finish off an entire killer whale without trouble, so maybe it isn’t that big an issue.)
Two minutes later, Kamijou was watching a little girl tremble horribly with the giant popcorn container in one hand and the other hand held up to her mouth.
Kamijou could not stand just watching on any longer, so he placed a hand on Last Order’s slender shoulder.
“You don’t have to eat it all.”
“Myi…Misaka is not the kind of moron that wastes food she was given…burp.”
Her previous businesslike manner of speaking was completely gone. And Kamijou was feeling it may have been wrong to give her such sweet popcorn with nothing to drink.
(Hmm. If only it was this easy to put the normal Misaka in a good mood… Maybe I should have chased after her.)
As Kamijou thought, Last Order started to ask for a drink.
Kamijou had no choice but to buy a small plastic bottle of mineral water. After quenching her thirst with that, Last Order was finally back to her normal self.
She said, “Misaka swiped this, says Misaka as Misaka shows off her prize.”
“So you’re a bandit now? Not bad, higher model Misaka…wait…huh? Are those goggles? Aren’t these the ones Misaka Imouto and the others normally wear?”
Last Order was pointing at the goggles hanging from her neck. The heavy-looking military device looked like night vision goggles. They must have been what had been stolen from Misaka Imouto.
“These were not made for Misaka, so she can’t get them on properly, says Misaka as Misaka gets a bit downhearted.”
“What? Don’t you just have to adjust the length of the strap that holds the goggles on?”
“Let me see them,” said Kamijou.
Last Order stood right in front of him, raised her jaw slightly, and stood on her tiptoes. She was simply trying to make it easier to reach the goggles hanging from her neck. It was wrong to read any deeper meaning into the action.
He touched the strap and found it was made of rubber. It was similar to the strap that holds swimming goggles on. A metal device at the base of the goggles allowed the length to be adjusted.
“Excuse me for a moment,” said Kamijou as he grabbed the goggles. He figured it would be easiest to bring the metal device to him. Kamijou pulled on the thick rubber strap and it stretched.
Last Order started struggling.
“Ow ow ow ow ow, says Misaka as Misa-…”
Kamijou let go of the goggles in surprise.
The stretched rubber strap returned to its original size.
A great snapping noise came from Last Order’s face.
Kamijou was unsure what to say as Last Order rolled around on the floor. As he stood there unsure what to do, the teary-eyed little girl stood on her tiptoes once more to indicate the goggles hanging from her neck.
(Okay, I can’t screw it up this time.)
In some cases, that thought more or less ensured it would happen again.
Long story short: the same snapping noise was heard once more.
This time, Kamijou was kicked to the ground and then stomped on by Last Order, but that seemed to put her back in a good mood. She then held the goggles up towards Kamijou once more.
She was quite brave.
Kamijou was extra careful to live up to that spirit of hers and he finally succeeded in adjusting the length of the rubber strap so it stayed on Last Order’s forehead. The goggles themselves still seemed too big for her, but he managed to tighten it enough that they did not slide down.
“Oohhh!!” said Last Order with a joyous look on her face.
She brought both hands to her forehead and spun around on the spot.
Then a thought came to Kamijou.
(Come to think of it, is she just wandering around on her own? Misaka Imouto was with her before, but she’s gone now. Did they get split up?)
It was hard to tell in the underground mall, but it was just before 6 PM. The sun would be setting soon. He wanted to get that helpless child back to her guardian, but he had no idea if that guardian was anywhere nearby.
(Hmm, what should I do? If her guardian is nearby, what would I look like to them? Oh, hell. I get the feeling they would say something like “What do you think you’re doing to my child?”)
Kamijou felt someone’s gaze on him.
He had a very bad feeling about what was to come.
“What is it? says Misaka as Misaka asks you a simple question.”
Kamijou turned around without answering Last Order’s innocent question.
He slowly and cautiously turned around.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me…” groaned Kamijou when he saw who was looking at him.
“And Touma always, always, alllllways goes off somewhere and leaves me behind. Maybe it’s what you call wanderlust. The next thing you know, he’s always off on some new journey.”
Accelerator used his modern cane to walk through the underground mall where it was difficult to distinguish between day and night. All of the students walking about seemed a bit rushed, but that was probably because the last train and bus were set to the city-wide curfew.
“I wonder why he does that. It’s not that he doesn’t like where he is, but there’s nothing specific he likes about the places he goes to either. He just seems to wander around and around and around and around and around.”
Accelerator still did not know who this “Touma” person was, but from what he had heard, he sounded like a horrible person. For some reason, it pissed him off each time he heard the name.
Index grabbed the calico cat that was wandering around the area and said, “By the way, what are you doing here?”
“Looking for someone.”
“Is it that girl on your cell phone?”
“What’s it to you?” replied Accelerator carelessly.
He had no real reason to hide it, but he had a feeling that brat would keep asking more and more and more questions. He knew this because he knew someone a lot like her.
Index merely looked confused while holding the cat.
“Hey, hey. Come to think of it, I never did anything to show my thanks.”
“Just shut up and get lost, you damn brat. I get the feeling that having a pain-in-the-ass brat like you around will bring nothing but trouble.”
“I never did anything to show my thanks.”
She just ignored him.
Accelerator gave her an annoyed look, but Index ignored that too.
“I can help you look for that girl until I find Touma,” she said with a smile.
She had no idea what kind of person she was speaking to.
“…God dammit,” he cursed when he heard that perfectly innocent voice.
This was the day he first realized that dealing with the good will of others was exhausting.
It was Aogami Pierce and Tsuchimikado Motoharu he found standing there.
The two of them looked at Kamijou, looked at Last Order, and then looked back at Kamijou.
And then they said in unison, “You didn’t!!”
“What is that reaction even supposed to mean!?” shouted back Kamijou.
Last Order quickly grew cautious and moved from Kamijou’s side to hide behind his back.
Tsuchimikado and Aogami Pierce paid that no heed.
“Nyahh! Y’know, I could understand Komoe-sensei what with her real age and all, but what is this, nyah? How can you defend this, nyahh!?”
“Y-you bastard!! Do you have no integrity at all!? Kami-yan, just how all-encompassing and gapless is your stance on this kind of thing!? I get the feeling you would try to hit on some lovely old lady sitting on a porch with an arched back and a cat on her lap!”
“But!” shouted Aogami Pierce and Tsuchimikado in unison as they stared Kamijou in the eye. They both showed the world’s most wonderful smile and said, “As your friends! We will pray for your success!!”
Kamijou clenched his fists with the intention of getting rid of those two and their dangerous comments.
Imagine Breaker was the perfect name for his power. That name taught him that this was the perfect time to use it.
As Kamijou and the others began a great brawl, Last Order cautiously called out to Kamijou.
“U-um…Are they friends of yours? asks Misaka as Misaka checks to make sure.”
“A kid like you mustn’t watch this! The lives these two lead and the stupid crap they talk about is too much for you!!”
Kamijou swung his fists as if he was using them to stamp an R-rating on those two idiots’ foreheads. It seemed a day of rest was still a long way off for him.
While filled with anger, Mikoto walked quickly through the underground mall with her arms folded.
Her Tokiwadai Middle School uniform still made her stand out enough that the other students passing by would glance over at her. She normally did not mind, but for some reason, she was feeling more and more irritable today.
(And after he promised me he would go through with the punishment game. That bastard…)
She was silently muttering to herself.
The very fact that this pissed her off so much displeased Mikoto. She did not like how heavily her feelings were weighted in his direction no matter what emotion it happened to be.
Even as she left that area (or rather, that boy), she kept glancing back over her shoulder. She simply was not able to rationally go over her thoughts.
(…He was relieved.)
She lightly kicked the floor of the underground mall without thinking.
She then sighed.
(Of course he was. This is all because of a simple punishment game. I still can’t believe he forgot about it after being the one to suggest it in the first place, though. But I guess when you’re being dragged around against your will, it’s only natural to want to be freed from it as soon as possible.)
After the fact, she felt like a complete imbecile for having gotten so excited about it on her own.
Mikoto’s gaze dropped to the small paper bag from the phone company. She looked at the small frog mascot that’s head was poking out of the bag.
(It’s only natural, but…)
She felt a strong feeling of having been left behind.
Mikoto saw her pouting face reflected in one of the shiny polished pillars of the underground mall. That was all it took to make her want to slap her own face.
(It’s not like that idiot’s actions were against the rules of the punishment game. There is nothing particularly wrong with her clinging to his side. So what was I doing? Now that I’ve calmed down, that seems like a pretty childish reaction.)
She was getting sick of the entire idea of a punishment game.
If she had known she would end up feeling like this, she would never have made the bet during the Daihaseisai. She felt like she had lost in everything that had to do with it. Not only that, she felt everyone around her had lost thanks to it as well.
She wanted to just sit in the corner of her room with her arms around her knees.
But she also wanted something right then and there to relieve her stress.
Was there nothing that would do that?
She glanced around and the only recreational store she saw was an arcade. A game called Skill Attack that was well known for being incredibly difficult was set up at the front of the store. Basically, the player used their power against a mitt-shaped “target” that was built to be shock absorbent. The machine used a psychic power measurement device to output a number representing the strength of the player’s power. It was a type of stress relief machine.
Mikoto unsteadily walked over to it. Once the Western sweets shop next to the arcade was completely out of sight, just how irritated she was became very, very clear.
There was no semblance of femininity left in her.
She inserted a few 100 yen coins.
The “target” portion was designed like a sign. A pillar made of a steel pipe had a square batter’s mitt made of a polyurethane-like material attached. The target appeared much shinier and newer than the rest of the machine, so it was probably disposable. It may have been changed out every other day.
(I doubt it can stand up to a Level 5.)
This type of machine was generally advertised as being able to withstand anyone up through Level 4, but the general etiquette was to keep it down to no higher than Level 3.
(Honestly, I even have to hold back when relieving stress…)
While complaining under her breath, Mikoto glanced over at the small warning note.
It said, “The latest versions will be created based on the powers used on this one. Please help us gather actual data with the eventual goal of allowing even Level 5 use!”
Mikoto froze in place.
A large grin then appeared on her face as if the stress in her body was gushing out.
An eerie sparking noise came from her silky bangs.
Misaka Mikoto took in a deep, deep breath.
And then she helped them gather some data.
She went pretty much all out.
“That damn idiot!! What! Does! He! Think! A! Promise! Is!? And after I worked so hard checking the scores after every event during the Daihaseisai!!”
With a great crackling roar, the arcade machine using a power measurement device rocked back and forth. It was built to withstand a fair amount of shock, but this had been enough to rip up the earthquake-resistant bolts holding the machine to the ground. It began letting out a silly-sounding alarm. The gentle atmosphere of the underground mall underwent a sudden change. The students walking around began yelling “Ugyahh!?”, “Wh-what was that!?”, and “Wait, wait up!!” as they began running away.
After venting all of her feelings at the machine, Mikoto panted with her shoulders moving up and down.
“Dingaling♪” came a small electronic tone.
She looked over and found she had made a new high score.
“…How pointless,” muttered Mikoto. “…”
She moved away from the large machine and headed back the way she had come.
Getting angry all on her own accomplished nothing. She decided to admit she had been acting childish and apologize. He had done nothing wrong in giving that Sister a present. She was a bit worried she would be unable to make herself lower her head to that idiot, but she took a deep breath and decided to at least try to be mature.
But a punishment was a punishment.
He was much mistaken if he thought she was going to let her victory from the Daihaseisai end here.
At any rate, Mikoto wanted to speak with him again, so she picked up her pace.
After somehow succeeding in getting Aogami Pierce and Tsuchimikado Motoharu to reconsider their actions, Kamijou checked the clock on his phone. It was already past 6 PM. The sun would be setting outside the underground mall.
“Hmm, those were some very unique friends, comments Misaka as Misaka folds her arms and tilts her head. And why are there still some parts Misaka cannot comprehend? says Misaka as Misaka rechecks the words spoken one by one.”
Despite what Last Order said, Kamijou figured it was no big deal. It was for the best if she did not understand some of what was said.
“Mh, it’s this late already? says Misaka as Misaka feels the need to hurry,” said the girl suddenly.
Kamijou could not see any clocks on the walls and the sky could not be seen inside the underground mall. That meant she must have gotten the information via the rumored Misaka Network.
Last Order turned around and said, “Hey, Misaka needs to get home before long, says Misaka as Misaka gives her unfortunate announcement.”
“Well, it is getting late.”
Kamijou had just been thinking it was about time a girl of her age got home, so he was relieved.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Misaka wanted to stay with you longer, says Misaka as Misaka grows a bit downhearted. It was just a coincidence that Misaka ran into you here, but she really did want to thank you, says Misaka as Misaka expresses her true feelings.”
Last Order brought both hands up to the goggles on her forehead.
“And you gave Misaka this,” she said. “But Misaka thinks he will be worried, says Misaka as Misaka continues on after remembering. If Misaka is too late, he might head out to look for her. Misaka does not want to cause him any trouble, says Misaka as Misaka smiles.”
“Hmm,” said Kamijou.
He did not know who she was talking about, but he got the general impression that he was probably a good person.
“He is weak,” continued Last Order. “He was hurt a lot. He could never protect what he had and the hands he used to save those things are worn down, says Misaka as Misaka provides fragmentary information. So Misaka does not want to put any more of a burden on him. This time, Misaka will protect him, says Misaka as Misaka speaks her mind.”
“I see,” said Kamijou despite not understanding half of what she had said.
Not a hint of falsehood could be seen on Last Order’s face.
Kamijou decided this “he” was not just probably a good person; he was definitely a good person.
“He can be cool too, says Misaka as Misaka gives some extra information. After all, he kept fighting for Misaka even while covered in blood and horribly battered, says Misaka as Misaka brags.”
Kamijou felt a great familiarity with that behavioral pattern, but he kept his mouth shut as he had no proof it was the same.
“Bye bye,” said Last Order as she left and waved her hand.
Kamijou watched her leave. Her small form quickly disappeared into the crowd that was hurried thanks to the curfew, and therefore the last train, coming up soon.
Kamijou decided to head home too, so he turned around. At that moment, he suddenly spotted a familiar figure.
“She” was headed his way.
“Oh, it’s Touma…”
Index suddenly stopped while standing next to Accelerator.
She was looking down the passageway.
“Is that the person you were looking for?”
Accelerator looked vaguely in the same direction, but the crowd was too large to tell who she was talking about. In fact, he did not even really know who it was she had been looking for.
Index looked up at Accelerator’s face.
He said, “Go.”
“But what about your friend?”
“Don’t worry,” spat out Accelerator. “I just found her.”
He spoke those words while looking in the same direction that Index had been looking. He could see a small girl running his way through the crowd of primarily middle and high school students.
Accelerator knew her name.
He had no idea if it actually counted as her real name and he had no idea how much value there was in a name thought up by researchers to make the paperwork more convenient. But the same went for Accelerator. He doubted anyone knew his real name.
And since everyone referred to her in the same way, it was effectively her name.
And so Accelerator called out that name.
When she heard her name called, the small girl started running even faster. Her face was covered in a ridiculously happy expression.
Meanwhile, Accelerator heard small footsteps next to him.
“Okay, I’ll be going then. Thanks,” said Index. “Touma!!”
The slight footsteps grew stronger. That girl who had been with him for just a few dozen minutes ran off into the crowd.
She did not turn back.
In the same way, Last Order did not look back.
The two girls approached the same spot of the underground mall, crossed paths, and then headed off in opposite directions without ever noticing each other.
They continued on to their respective destinations.
It took less than 10 seconds for Last Order to reach Accelerator.
“Misaka is back, says Misaka as Misaka gives the usual greeti-…Ow! Why are you silently karate chopping Misaka again and again!? shouts Misaka as Misaka holds her head and pretends to cry!!”
While he repeatedly struck the girl’s head, he let out all of his displeasure.
“Where they hell have you been?”
“I was playing, says Misaka as Misaka gives an honest answer.”
“Hmph,” said Accelerator.
He gave one last glance into the crowd, wondering what had happened to that nuisance of a nun.
But he could see no sign of her.
All he could see was a vague crowd.
Everything was back to normal.
Between the lines 4
The name of the building Sasha Kreutzev sat within was the Phenomena Control and Reduction Reproduction Facility.
Technically, that term referred to a collection of buildings created by the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church was primarily an organization created to analyze and resolve spiritual phenomena. When an incident occurred, they would create a facility that recreated the scene of the phenomenon in actual size.
That thorough accuracy was mostly meant to display how relentless they were.
According to the Christian Church, the souls of the dead would head to heaven, purgatory, or hell. Therefore no souls remained in this world. For that reason, the Russian Orthodox Church viewed anything trying to deceive the living as fakes meant to take advantage of the sorrow people saw in death. By their definition, such things were only thought to exist by their absence. It was the same idea as a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
There were extremely rare cases of (real) wandering spirits appearing such as the Jack-o’-Lantern, but the Christian Church viewed those as the souls of criminals who were not worthy of going to heaven but had been barred from entering hell as well.
Anything trying to deceive the living needed to be killed by any means necessary.
That was the only conclusion they could reach.
Whether they were real or fake, they were enemies. The Russian Orthodox Church’s method was to eliminate all such annoyances as if they were the same. A ghost’s regrets, reminiscences, or grudges were all beside the point. If they were wandering on earth, they were evil. The Russian Orthodox Church’s style was to laugh scornfully at any such circumstances and then crush them.
There were of course exceptions of humans who had been brought back to life at the hands of the Son of God, the 12 Apostles, or someone similar. However, that could only be pulled off by the Son of God or history’s most powerful Saints. Your average sinner or vengeful dead person could not manage it.
The facility was used to obtain the investigative information needed to crush those enemies no questions asked.
That was where Sasha was.
It was reminiscent of the cities created in the middle of a desert for a Hollywood movie, but its accuracy was much greater than a city street created for filming that’s reverse side was made of papier mache.
It had started with facilities for just an incident or two, but more and more new reference facilities had been created around them. Now, it was large enough to hold two or three entire cities. This was a method only possible in Russia, a country so massive it cut horizontally across almost the entirety of the Eurasian continent.
Inside a building perfectly modeled after a certain palace, Sasha poured brandy into her black tea and drank from her cup with a book in one hand. This was the reference facility said to be the oldest of all the buildings in that movie village known by the overly long name of the Phenomena Control and Reduction Reproduction Facility.
The palace had a mixture of many different cultures. The occult aspects were all based in Christianity and a large onion-like objet d’art was located on the top of the roof.
Despite her small figure, Sasha again and again poured lots and lots of brandy into her tea like someone with a sweet tooth pouring sugar in. Rather than just flavoring the drink a bit, she was now essentially drinking a tea-flavored alcohol.
The thick book in her hand had the title “The True Form of Angels in a Different Shape” written in shiny foil. The Original of the book would be in the original palace, but the book had been perfectly reproduced down to the last letter as a prop for the facility. The facility was well known for having a lot of grimoire copies for a place that was not a grimoire library.
(Important notes concerning an angel being lowered into a human body.)
Sasha’s hand stopped on the page she had been looking for.
Her small fingertip moved through the handwritten letters from a time before printing technology had been developed. She occasionally frowned while working through the cryptanalysis work she was not used to, but she refused to take a break. She had a reason for doing this work despite not being used to it.
Something strange had happened to her body.
The visible symptom was the irregular slight trembling of her fingertips. And the invisible symptom was her strange ability to detect magic power. Or perhaps it would be better to describe it as a type of rejection reaction. The degree of the reaction differed, but she would feel a pressure in her chest when a large amount of magic power was being used nearby.
These symptoms had begun towards the end of August, but she had no idea what could have caused it. When she had been examined at a large-scale facility, they had said her condition was similar to that of someone who had had highly concentrated Telesma residing in their body for a long period, but she had not taken part in any such magical experiment.
What had happened to her body?
That investigation had gone beyond Sasha herself. The entire Russian Orthodox Church was already secretly viewing it as a pending issue. Anyone in the Christian Church could borrow Telesma and it was not rare for it to directly reside in someone’s body. Sasha herself even used it in battle. But this was the first time such special symptoms had appeared.
It also bothered Sasha that interest in her condition went beyond her organization of Annihilatus. The entire Russian Orthodox Church was interested in it. This made her suspect there was something more to it, but she had to give her own body precedence.
Needless to say, the time when Telesma resided in a human body on the largest scale was during the time of the Annunciation. With the Son of God’s total amount of Telesma – that is, an amount massive enough to support and guide this world – contained within a human womb, the human would normally explode. But the Virgin Mary used her special characteristics as the pair for the holy fatherhood to its fullest so that-…
“Hmm,” muttered Sasha as she nodded and read through the text.
She did not notice the threat approaching from behind.
Her entire expressionless face twitched when she heard that horribly ingratiating voice.
But it was too late.
Two hands stretched under Sasha’s arms and grabbed ahold of her small breasts before she could take up a defensive position.
The voice behind her said, “Since you’re studying so hard you have no idea what is happening around you, I think it’s time you took a break. Wait, nwaahhh!?”
The voice cried out because Sasha had pulled a hammer and an L-shaped crowbar from her waist to prepare for battle. The hammer must have had some kind of magical treatment performed on it because a large crater practically exploded into the table the instant the head of the hammer touched it.
Sasha Kreutzev turned around with the weapon in hand.
The person who had been behind her grew pale.
“S-Sasha? This facility was created as a perfect spiritual replica of the scene of an incident, so its role will be compromised if you keep destroying items inside it!!”
“My first response: You can send a written apology to Bishop Nikolai Tolstoy.”
“No, wouldn’t you be the one to write it!? Dammit, why does Sasha look so lovely even while feigning ignorance like this!?”
Sasha sighed as the person waved their hands about.
She was Sasha’s direct superior.
Her name was Vasilisa. She was a woman with white skin that had just begun to show some signs of decline and she was exceedingly worried about ultraviolet rays and spots on the skin. While battles with “those that should not exist” was their basic nighttime activity, she had lately formed a bad habit of saying staying up late was bad for the skin and heading home on her own. This meant Sasha often had to catch Vasilisa’s body in a lasso and throw her into the middle of a group of their target.
But back to her name of “Vasilisa”.
It was unclear why she had taken the name of a heroine form a Russian fairy tale, but it was of course a fake name. She apparently just barely qualified as being in her late twenties, but no one knew the exact number. She would just say “Women have plenty of secrets!”, but she would look depressed for about half a day if someone responded with “So basically no one would celebrate your birthday”.
That horribly immature superior caused Sasha lots of problems. The main issue was that this was not an issue of the past. She was still constantly causing her problems.
Vasilisa glanced at the pages of the book Sasha had been reading and said, “You’re reading some musty old book again? So have you still not figured out what happened to your body? Then how about I give that body a thorough examination. Eh heh heh. Ah ha.”
Sasha took the hammer spinning in her hand and swung it down on Vasilisa’s head.
After hearing a nice, dull noise, she said, “My first question: Would you prefer the hammer or the screwdriver?”
“It’s not a very useful question if you wait until after the fact to ask. Oh, Sasha. Your destructive power is as unthinkable as ever.”
She did not want to hear that from the superior who had not batted an eye at being struck by a hammer with magical effects meant for torture. Vasilisa liked to joke, but she was actually stronger than Sasha.
“Come to think of it, wasn’t the Telesma that resided in you the back-oriented blue color of Gabriel?”
“My second question: what does it matter?”
“And wasn’t it a normally unthinkable amount that might have even been greater than the total amount of the 12 Apostles?”
“My third question: What does that-…”
“Bpph. Wasn’t Gabriel the angel that was responsible for the Annunciation? And wasn’t that when an amount of power greater than the 12 Apostles was forced into a woman’s body? Oh? Oh, oh? Sasha, by any chance is your stomach growing a bit plump…bggh!?”
Sasha swung a saw such that it struck Vasilisa directly in the face
The woman remained unscathed.
“Ah, sorry, sorry. That’s right. With that heavy restraining outfit you always wear, you could never withstand pleasureless baby-making, could you?”
“My fourth question: Don’t sully even one holy page of the New Testament, you piece of shit. An added explanation: You abused your authority to force me to wear this outfit.”
Sasha was wearing a restraining outfit made up of black belts and a red mantle worn over a see-through suit that looked like nothing but innerwear. Overall, it looked like something a perverted old man would wear at night. Vasilisa had claimed it was so she could restrain herself as a last resort if her own body was possessed by “those that should not exist”, but it was plainly nothing more than her own tastes.
Sasha did not want to even touch such a slutty outfit, but unfortunately Vasilisa was her direct superior. She had to obey the oaths she had made on paper. She would feel like a complete fool if she was sent to a convent (or rather, a detention center called a convent) for disobeying over something so ridiculous.
Naturally, not all Russian Orthodox nuns wore that outfit. The Russian Orthodox Church was not a collection of perverts.
Sasha hid her body behind her red mantle and glared up at her superior.
Vasilisa cackled while wearing a completely normal red habit.
“Eh? You dislike it that much?”
“My second response: That question in and of itself is an insult to my personality.”
“Then let’s get you a different outfit,” readily replied Vasilisa.
Sasha was a bit taken aback by this as she looked up at her superior through her bangs that got in the way. Vasilisa started rummaging through the old-looking bag at her feet.
“Y’see, for business reasons, I was doing some investigation into Academy City and that island nation’s occult.”
Sasha had a bad feeling about what was to come.
She had a feeling she must not see what was inside that bag.
She had not received any help from an astrological institution, but she felt a distinct chilly premonition for some reason.
“Well, it turns out Academy City has a certain unique culture. And when I say culture, I think you can guess what I mean. Japan really has given me a lot of excellent reference material. I got my hands on some genuine data and worked hard to sew it thread by thread. Ah ha♪”
Sasha looked over to the door.
She started to calculate out its thickness and materials.
“So Sasha, have you ever heard of Magical Powered Kanamin?”
She used her L-shaped crowbar to break through the heavy door and escape.
When she had seen the outfit Vasilisa was holding out while smiling from ear to ear, Sasha had thought she was going to cry. She had known that superior had been gathering information on Japan’s suspicious otaku culture via France, but she had never thought the woman had gotten quite that crazy.
She could never stand to wear that shiny and sparkling outfit.
Sasha Kreutzev was a battle nun belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church’s special forces known as Annihilatus. She fought harshly with the desire of bringing extinction to “those that should not exist”, so she could not run around in such a thin and fluttering outfit.
She decided it might be in her best interest to transfer to another post.
No one would want to die in battle while wearing such a hardcore outfit.