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Full Metal Panic! - Volume 10 - Chapter 4


Chapter 4: Time Hazard 
 
 
He had escaped death once again. 
Waking up, Sousuke thought to mentally check his body for injuries as always. 
For some reason all of his body was dripping wet. His body was aching here and there, but due to the AS Pilot Suit, at most there were bruises. Only his right arm wouldn’t move as he wished, that was probably due to a light sprain. 
“......” 
There was the sound of water flowing, and the faint sound of the wind. But it was totally dark and nothing could be seen. Where had his night vision goggles gotten to? Sousuke searched his tactical vest for a Maglight. 
Alright, there was one. 
He had to switch on the light to the lowest necessary luminance. What he saw first, was the naked bare rock. Next was the entangled wire. There was also a vinyl waste basket, a wooden chair, and a torn fence. And a lot of other junk. 
His surrounding space was like a round grotto. It was similar to the construction of a sewer. Water flowed on the bottom, probably knee deep. Filthy water flowing by the wreckage had gathered there from the mountains. 
It was probably carried by the rapids in seasons or a period of time. Even large parts were rolling about. When Sousuke lost consciousness during the fall, it seems like he had washed there. With the flow of water stopping, the water level he had first seen seemed to have subsided. For the time being he was like garbage that had flowed into a chamber pot. 
How long had he been separated? What time was it? He looked at his watch. From when he had lost consciousness it had most likely been around 15 minutes. Although he didn’t know the distance he had been carried, guessing from the silence, he might have been separated from the crash site. He didn’t even have his carbine gun. It must have fallen somewhere. 
“Captain” 
He was looking for Tessa. She couldn’t be found. 
“...Captain....Tessa?” 
He shouted with a cautious voice, turning at the junk in his surroundings. 
Among the junk was a dead skeleton, a worn out work uniform, and name plate. Gender was indistinguishable. What happened? He did not know how people had died there. 
Tessa was not there after all. 
Was she left in a safe place, or was she washed to another place? He didn’t know whether she was even alive or not… 
Dammit. 
Of course the communications device would be useless. Even if it were not destroyed by the impact and water, in a closed space at a depth like that the electromagnetic-waves would not reach. 
At any rate he was upstream. He had to find her. 
Sousuke, with a quick pace, turned against the flow of water and retraced his steps from the Grotto. A little forward and there was a brick wall in the naked rock. It was a sewer after all. In the ruins that had not been inhabited by humans for a long time, rains and water collected and flowed to that place. 
He moved forward for more than 300 meters. He could see a large hole in the ceiling. There was a slope of broken bricks and 
piles of steel frame. Without any hardship he managed to climb the large hole, getting out of the layer of the sewer. 
There was a large shaft. Narrower than the first elevator shaft that they descended, the height was about five stories. Turning the light higher he illuminated above his head. Going through the side of the shaft there was a passage full of skeletons and pipes. It was somehow deteriorated and worn out. Focusing his eyes he could see that in the top most space of the cave there was a squared passage. A large hole opened in the floor. 
It seemed like he fell from there. 
It was good that he had only suffered minor injuries. Below the passage he fell through was a scaffold and steel frame. Because of the colliding pipes and wires the five story height would not be a headlong fall. 
However Tessa was another matter. It would be hard if she fell. 
The light of the Maglight was weakening. Sousuke was at the base of the cave. He looked for an area where rubble and pipes were mortared and piled up. Tessa was not there, but he found the lost Carbine Gun. He picked it up and verified if it was functional. It seemed that it was not broken, but, because it fell from that height, there was no guarantee that it would fire. 
Is she up there....? 
He looked at the passage where he fell from since he had not found her below. Would she answer if he shouted? 
No, it was dangerous. 
It would be bad if he was heard. Thirty minutes had already passed from the crash. It would not be strange if the enemy reinforcements had managed to come to that area. Going up, he had to verify that passage. 
Really, how unsettling. 
Thinking annoyingly that it was his misfortune for falling in the hole, he immediately rethought. Originally they would be crushed by that helicopter and be flattened. Besides if he were to fall with Tessa in that hole, how would she fare without the anti-impact of an AS pilot suit? 
He increased the light, following the pipe and steel frame crawling along the walls of the shaft, he climbed up. He managed to reach about three stories, but there was no way to go further up. To get out of the shaft, it seemed he had to find another route. 
The nearest tunnel was formerly a passage and he jumped to the squared hole. With the shaft to his back he headed deeper into the hole. If he could find stairs going upwards it should let him go the place where he left Tessa. He kept his Maglight in the left hand, and Glock 19 hand gun in his right hand. Since there might be a possibility of the carbine gun failing, he would not use it to make the first shot. At any rate, it was in a situation where he might meet enemies so he couldn’t make any gunshot sounds. It would be better to make a test shot when guns were fired. 
With caution he proceeded to the ruined passage, turning at a number of corners and crossroads. There were a number of resident doors on both sides of the passage. He looked inside. Was it a staff room or lodging house? It was a room with nothing in it. 
There were stairs inside the passage. 
And then, in front of the stairs, stood Leonard Testarossa. 
“!” 
He wore a red coat on top of his AS pilot suit and had wavy silver hair. An ornamented Colt Peacemaker was in his right hand. His face couldn’t be seen with the night vision goggles, but there was no mistake. It was that man. 
There was no hesitation in his reply. Sousuke immediately fired. 
In an instant the red coat moved, immediately stopping the bullets. It was the aforementioned reactive bulletproof vest. Not caring, he continued to fire five shots, all of them to no effect. 
“The same greetings as usual----” 
Leonard moved. The revolver blew fire. Sousuke hid in the door just in front of him and the enemy bullets went past. He barely managed to evade and the bullets hit the walls, scattering concrete fragments. Protruding the gun, he immediately returned fire. He used up all the remaining bullets in the magazine. The thunderous roar of the fierce gunfight resounded. 
There was no response. Did he evade all of it or was all of it stopped? 
“-I’m amazed at your impatience.” 
You also with your usual pretension, purposely missing the chance for a surprise attack, though that was what he thought, he didn’t say a word. In the exchange of bullets he returned the Glock to his holster, and nimbly setup his carbine gun. 
He’s so proud of his bullet proof clothes, but how about from a rifle bullet with a full metal jacket? 
He fired in semi-auto. 
As expected, he knew that he couldn’t defend from the rifle bullets. Leonard fluttered his body, and his figure disappeared from the passage. Anticipating the damage from the wall, Sousuke shot. No response. Return fire came. It went just over his head. 
“.........” 
The Carbine Gun’s aim seemed to be off to the right. It must have been because of the five story fall earlier. There were no other problems and it functioned. It was impressively stubborn. If he was given the opportunity, he would send mail giving thanks to the maker. 
Sousuke fired, Leonard fired. Sousuke moved, Leonard moved. 
That kind of reply continued a number of times, the two of them went out in the wide room. In a room like a gymnasium, a large liquid tank, a still, a compressor, countless pipes, and valves were spread all over, complexly becoming complicated. 
Leonard seemed to have night vision equipment, while he was disadvantaged with only a Maglight. Aiming and moving with only the light of the Maglight, he was completely visible. He would have to infer prior to firing. 
No… 
That was not the only reason why he couldn’t bring him down. Leonard was strong. 
That reaction speed, the accuracy of that shot, it was a calm and decisive movement. Like thoughtlessness, but actually it was a logical positional gain. It was not a common technical skill. Whether it was the gift of his natural talent or from extensive training was unknown, but he couldn’t be bewildered by his vagary weapons or speech. From his preconception, he thought of him as a “weak boy” relying on his hi-tech equipment for protection. He was mistaken. 
“Can’t be easily killed right?” 
Leonard laughed in the darkness. 
“Good luck, since you’re no match in an AS. Now is your chance.” 
Sousuke remembered the uncomfortable feeling from his provocation. That was not the opponent he had faced a number of times. Previously he had had a softer demeanor. Was that an act? Or did he change into something? 
“You seemed to be a little vulgar” Sousuke said flatly.  
He minded himself so his Maglight wouldn’t reveal his current position. 
“Is that so? To get along better with you, I think this method would be better.” 
Gunshots. Leonard’s bullets immediately grazed beside him. Using the waist high pipe as a shield, he gave pressure to his opponent by moving him from his position. 
“I’ll get along better with your corpse.” 
“Haha, you said it.” 
Since the start of the gunfight, almost more than three minutes had passed. It would be bad if he kept on dragging the time. Leonard’s subordinates would be arriving. Although he was fixated on defeating him, to withdraw from that place… he had to decide about it soon. 
Before that decision, the expected enemy reinforcements arrived. Fifteen meters to the right of the tank Sousuke was hiding behind, from the stairs above, four men with submachine guns appeared. 
“Mister Silver!?” one of the men called. 
“I told you not to come. Go back.” 
“But, you’re alone-” 
“Go back.” 
“There he is, over there!” 
One of the men sensed Sousuke and fired, tearing up the tank he was hiding on. Some kind of liquid dispersed. 
He returned fire. One of them got hit in the chest from Sousuke’s bullet. 
The remaining three deployed and added fire. The scattering bullets hit the pipe and cable, scattering fierce sparks to the surroundings. 
They were well trained enemies. Not even agitated with injury, cover fire and shots with the objective to kill and wound were well cooperated. But the attacks and movements were monotonous. The composition of the team was not long. 
In an expected place one of them came out. He was killed with one shot. But that man looked like he had thrown a hand grenade his way. From the hand of the fallen man, the pin of the hand grenade was pulled and falling- 
“!” 
There was an explosion. It was an incendiary bomb. 
There was a white flash and conflagration. It was a type of hand grenade that would burn the area with super high temperature. It was most effective indoors. 
There was no damage to Sousuke, who was separated, but a much more serious matter occurred. 
Immediately beside the exploding incendiary bomb, there was a liquid tank. With the splash of bullets the hole widened, and the liquid content flowed out of the tank. Being left behind for more than 17 years, the unknown liquid flowed, with its combustibility mostly undeteriorated. Somehow that liquid caught fire from the grenade, and burned with a fierce heat. 
The flame went along the pipe and ran around the room, with explosions occurring when taking in the conflagration. The floor split with the impact and a steel frame from the ceiling was falling towards Sousuke. Barely evading he ran inward. If he were in that room he would either be baked or suffocate. 
One of the enemies screamed, falling to the lower floor from the dancing flame on the cracks of the floor. Their underfoot was shaking. The whole floor was waiting to collapse. The alcove slab distorted, and was transfigured into a slope. Everything was turning and falling. 
It was no longer a battlefield. Sousuke crawled, getting away from the conflagration and the cave-in. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
“Another explosion....” 
The frequent sound of gunfire continued, with a large sound of an explosion. The ceiling of the rattling passage shook, with large amounts of dust falling over the heads of Kaname and the others. 
“It’s probably Sagara-san. He encountered the enemy while searching for me....” Tessa said. 
Kaname had already heard the details from Tessa. After being involved in the helicopter crash she had strayed from Sousuke. While searching for him alone she had met Kaname. 
Sousuke would be there soon. 
Hearing that, Kaname was unable to contain her feelings. Without thinking, she tried desperately to restrain herself from running off from that place. 
She keeps telling herself, If you get impatient here you will become lost, but she was not able to discern the logic from her emotions. 
She wanted to see him immediately. She couldn’t stand even one more second. 
Also, she wouldn’t get lost. If she continued to call his name in a loud voice, it could somehow work. She might be seen by the enemy… That wouldn’t be, she would definitely meet him first---- such irrational thinking, it kept coming up no matter how much she erased it. 
And then came the worry about the sound of that explosion. 
“Let’s go find him! I know the general direction.” 
“Eeh, but....” Tessa hesitated. 
“But what?” 
“It is certain that enemies are deployed in the direction of the explosion. Mr. Lemon’s leg is injured.... we can’t run away from the encountered enemy before Sagara-san.” 
“We don’t know that right? Sousuke might be in a bad situation, I just can’t leave him.” 
“That is why I’m hesitating. For me, the safety of you and Mr. Lemon-” 
“Such reasons, whatever! I want to see him! If you’ll get in my way then I’ll go alone!” 
There were a number of déjà vu. Her irritation reaching its critical point, Kaname spontaneously raised her voice. 
“Please calm down. I didn’t-” 
“There’s no time to calm down right? Finally....just when he’s so close. Why do you say such things? If I were to meet him, is the circumstance that bad!? Why-” 
“Kaname-san, stop it.” 
Lemon suddenly grabbed her arm with such strong power it surprised her. She immediately returned to her own self, and noticed herself getting distracted. 
“I know how you feel, but you have to be calm. If you make rash decisions here, everything will be a mess.” 
It was as he said. They had to be more prudent. 
“....sorry, Tessa.” 
“It’s alright. Becoming like this was all my responsibility...” 
Looking at the frail Tessa mumbling, Kaname felt guilty. Even though Tessa also liked Sousuke, she did not say any selfish insensibilities. Yet she was enduring it. If Kaname had been in her place she would have flared up and talked back. 
“Somehow… I’m really sorry. I don’t know what happened…” 
“It can’t be helped. Because, you’re finally going to see Sagara-san.” 
“Uhn....” 
“If you’re calm, let’s move on” Lemon said with a serious voice. “It’s dangerous to be here. He has to get as far away from the enemy as possible. If it goes well, we might be able to find another exit. We have to get to the surface somehow. I think it would be best to contact Testarossa-san’s allies with the wireless radio.” 
“But Sousuke....” 
“He’ll be alright. He’s not a burden like me, and it would be easier for him to move alone, and he would aim to get to the surface to contact the allies. If we carelessly join him, there is a dangerously high probability of both parties falling.” 
Even though it was unfamiliar, Lemon carried such experience in his body. It would be wise to abide by his judgment in that kind of situation. 
“I understand. Let’s do that.” 
Killing off the lingering affection that remained, the feelings that wanted to run off in the direction of Sousuke, Kaname nodded. 
“Tessa do you know the way?” 
“For the time being, just a rough construction. We get down from here, going into the deepest research facility to the north there should be a ventilation duct in an ordinary stair case. Although there is no guarantee that the enemy would not be there, it would be much safer than going to the south side....” 
“North....where?” 
“Here. Let’s go.” 
The three of them reached a cross road. Lemon walked while being supported on both sides by Tessa and Kaname. 
In the middle of the darkness, Lemon revealed a faint smile. 
“What’s the matter?” 
“No.... This is quite a benefit. Having beautiful girls on both sides, it would be the best if I didn’t have any injuries.” 
“....Tessa. This person, shall we leave him behind?” 
“That’s right.... we should at least hear his last will and testament.” 
“Aah. Sorry. Sorry. Don’t abandon me.” 
“Geez....” 
Carrying an earnestly apologizing Lemon, they unevenly walked in the middle of the darkness. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
He was sealed in. 
After escaping from the flames he had finally ended up inside an underground facility after a short walk; that was what Sousuke concluded. No matter where he went collapsed ceiling and seal steel doors blocked his way. It would be nice to blow them up using C4 explosives, but there was the offensive smell of gas in the area. Unskillfully using firearms would result in an explosion. 
He cautiously went back to the previous room where there was a battle. It was not be possible to get back there because the passage was plugged with crumbled steel frames and pipes. The flames were temporary and finally ending. He was thankful that the oxygen was not completely taken, but he couldn’t remain in a place like that. 
He was also worried about Tessa. If the enemy managed to get into that vicinity, she might have already been captured. Since she was the sister of their commander, she might not be killed without argument, which was why he couldn’t leave it to chance. 
He needed to escape at once and join up with Kurz. 
If he were to use the powerful Laevatein, with the support fire of Kurz, it would not be impossible to recover Tessa. Although he still didn’t know if he would be able to win over Leonard’s AS, at least it was a more solid plan than facing many enemies alone with an out-of-order carbine gun. 
Then, what if Tessa was not yet caught? 
If that were so, then she would have surely joined up with Kurz and the others. In order to carefully search for the allies in that maze, there was a need for him to eliminate all of the enemies. If he would be able to do that, he himself could not estimate- 
“....!” 
In the corner of his path Leonard appeared. It seemed that he had survived the explosion. Furthermore, sarcastically, he was not even filthy. 
Sousuke and Leonard mutually noticed each other’s existence, mostly at the same time. Both parties, with guns aimed, had fingers on the trigger but stayed from firing. 
“Ooops” Leonard laughed, “If you shoot an explosion might occur. It seems that you noticed.” 
Piercing his nose from some time ago was an irritating odor, like rotten onions. Wasn’t that a combustible LP gas? Then guns would be bad. 
“Possibly, it might not occur” Sousuke said, suddenly pointing his gun at his opponent’s head. He wouldn’t miss at that distance. One shot would end it. But that would also be the same for the other side. 
 
Sousuke and Leonard noticed the presence of each other almost simultaneously. Both aimed guns, fingers on the trigger. He pointed the muzzle at his opponent’s head. He wouldn’t miss from that distance. One shot would end it, but it was the same for the other side. 
 
“Then want to try it? Won’t that be entertaining?” 
“What a charming idea.” 
“You say that, but you’re considering drawing that knife from your waist. With that there is no worry about explosions. Pressing on a weak me, cutting my throat with it…” 
That was correct. Sousuke had his left hand always in the position to reach for the removal of his knife. In the challenge of melee, there were plenty of chances for victory. 
“Funny you should mention that. I also have something like that.” 
Leonard took something out from under his coat and turned it towards Sousuke. At one glance it was a simple thrusting knife that was not like a sword, there was a lever for the thumb attached 
to the root of the blade. Looking at it Sousuke secretly smacked his lips. 
“This is what you call a Spetsnaz Knife. Looks like you know.” 
That knife was a weapon developed for the Russian Special Forces. There was a strong spring inside the grip. It was constructed such that if the lever was pushed the blade would be detached. Its construction looked like a simple toy, but its destructive power was dreadful. If detached from 10 meters it had a deadly power that could easily penetrate a telephone directory. 
The condition had become disadvantageous. 
His AS pilot suit had an anti-blade function but could not guard against that kind of piercing weapon. He would die if hit, or would lose with a severe wound. Furthermore a weapon that used a simple spring power would not be dangerous for a potential explosion. 
However, there was only one shot. If he was protected from that shot, he could get close and bring him down. 
“I know what you’re thinking” he said, seeing through what Sousuke was thinking. “Kill with whatever method. If there are no guns, then kill with a knife. If there is no knife, then kill with bare hands. If both hands are cut off, then bite on the windpipe. Even if you die you sharpen your bones, you’re the type of guy who waits to trample on the enemy. I wonder if you would think about discussions....” 
“Is there a need to discuss?” 
“A method to get out of here. It’s a stupid conversation, but we’re both sealed in here” 
“.........” 
“Propane has been leaking for a while now. Right now it’s still fine, but after two more hours both of us will either suffocate or get poisoned” 
“You mean there is no need to fight.” 
“Either way we’ll die. I’ve been going around, but there is a staircase over there that is plugged by rubble. If the both of us remove the rubble we could get out before we die.” 
“A short time truce, you mean to say.” 
“That’s right. If we fight now, whoever wins, the wounded won’t get out. Even if one of us gets injured, I don’t think it would get the work done. For the mean time we should cooperate and get out of here, after that we can just kill each other. That’s my proposal.” 
Leonard’s words were not lies. The gas and escape route were also true. If they didn’t have a truce both of them would surely die. 
“Alright. But in the end, it’s for the sake of getting out of here.” 
With not even an atom of forgiveness, he had to go along with Leonard’s proposal. Both of them put down their weapons at the same time. 
“Fine. Should we shake hands?” 
“Bullshit.” 
Sousuke put his carbine gun over his shoulder, and headed to the stairs with a quick pace. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
The Airborne troops of Amalgam, which were under the command of Kalinin, had finished securing the majority of the 
ruin’s surface. Although it was secured, they could not confirm any signs of the enemy. 
He himself also got off to the surface, investigating the other helicopter that descended in the ruins. He noticed that there were two people who walked to the research plant; in addition he managed to see through that those two people were Sagara Sousuke and Teletha Testarossa. 
Most probably, they were under that plant. 
Leonard might also have noticed that. He had also independently moved into the plant, and no communications could be made. After that a four man scout also went in, and after the last contact of “Gunshots have been heard” no further communications were made. They had fought Sousuke; he could only think that the tables had turned. 
After a few minutes, reports from his subordinates confirmed his conjecture. 
The crashed helicopter exploded and caught fire in another area. Again, guaranteeing survivors on the crash site, that evidence pointed to Chidori Kaname and the Frenchman being alive. And then Leonard’s whereabouts were unknown, and the movements of Sousuke and the others were unknown. 
It seemed there was a strange thing happening underground. Having been cut off from the majority of their force on the surface, he couldn’t possibly let his forces get near the plant. 
“Leave the surface to me,” Casper said standing by on his AS. “I’ll take care of those who come near.” 
“....understood. I leave it to you” 
Kalinin said such and brought along a few soldiers and began to head to the plant’s underground, descending the shaft. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Because of Tessa’s guidance the three of them had not encountered the enemy and continued to proceed through the plant’s underground. But then, they were running away from the direction of the enemy so it was not unnatural. 
Going through the deepest part to get out of the opposite side… the plan itself Kaname understood, but getting deeper into the maze was very unpromising. 
“Is it really this way?” Kaname asked Tessa countless times.  
Even she herself did not know how many times it was asked. It was because of the frequency of the déjà vu. 
“Eeh. It should be but....” 
Tessa hesitated to say. The route was another matter, and she had the appearance of being puzzled. 
“....if you head straight of this curve, you will get out on the opposite side. From there, if you look for a ladder in the stairs, you could get to the surface.” 
“Aside from that, what are you trying to say?” 
“Eeh” 
Tessa stood to a stop. 
“....I guess I can’t leave it alone. I have to visit it. You should proceed, please go on ahead.” 
Kaname and Lemon were surprised at her words. 
“What do you mean? A place to visit....” 
“The enemy will be here soon. It’s dangerous for you to be alone.” 
“Don’t worry. Besides, originally there is something I need here. Coming this far, I just can’t give up.” 
“What exactly do you need? We’ll also accompany you.” 
“It’s not that far right? Let’s go.” 
With the proposal from Kaname and Lemon, Tessa shook her head. 
“No, you can’t come. Anyway it’s something important....I will do it alone.” 
It was a bad enunciation for Tessa’s explanation. Even though she knew something, she wouldn’t tell it to Kaname and Lemon. No, not Kaname, but Lemon. Right now he had a proactive collaboration with Tessa, but to begin with he was French Intelligence. If there was a great secret in the plant, there was no guarantee that the contents wouldn’t be transmitted to the organization. 
Lemon himself had noticed that. 
“Could it be, that you can’t tell me this?” 
Tessa fell silent. In other words saying that was so. 
“About this secret city, Wraith and I risked danger to investigate it. Whatever was in here, without knowing the details, we silently did what you asked and went to Moscow. And then I became like this, moreover I don’t know if Wraith is alive or not. Even then, you can’t tell me the circumstance. It’s that right?” 
“I am very grateful to you. But this is----” 
“My allegiances? If it’s the DGSE, I’m sure I’m already fired. I haven’t been in contact with my superiors.” 
“You’re mistaken. Of course I’m also concerned about the information leaking to your organization, but that is not the only problem. The secret here is not about the national security of one nation. If handled unskillfully… the fate of the people of the world might get trifled with.” 
“That’s exaggerated.” 
“No. Even moderately, it is not exaggerated. If you knew the secret the sleeps in here, most people would be charmed by the power and use it. It’s alright to tell Kaname-san. Sagara-san would 
also be alright. Speaking as the persons concerned, these two and me, we’re already burdened with this secret. But, you Lemon-san-- being tempted by it, I do not have the confidence in it.” 
He was embarrassed by her words, Kaname also understood. 
“I really don’t understand. If I were to know about that secret, I should leave it to your monopoly?” 
“That may not be unreasonable- that at least is an important problem. That is why, could you go ahead with Kaname-san?” 
“That a hard request.... Then, how about this.” 
After saying that, Lemon took out the automatic pistol from his belt. 
“Wai....” 
Kaname’s expression changed. But turning on the safety device, he turned the gun and handed it over to Tessa. 
“Take it. If I started thinking strange, shoot me.” 
“Lemon-san, I—” 
“Ahead of this, I’m not sure if I would be able to return alive. Then I would like to know. ....please.” 
It seems that she was in deep worry. As far as what could be seen, Lemon was a good person, she couldn’t say whether this was an act or not. After one minute he could suddenly change, exactly who should warn them? 
But in the end it was concluded as “unavoidable”. Tessa made a deep sigh, and carefully took the pistol that he handed her. 
“....I understand. However, if you showed any signs of change then I will really shoot.” 
“R...really?” Kaname asked, Tessa nodded. 
“I’m serious. I will shoot with all my power. Though I don’t know if it will hit or not....” 
“I..is that so...” 
“Kaname-san. I thought about telling you this. Even if I didn’t, having brought you here, my brother would have told you. Possibly this....” 
“Possibly, what?” 
“No. Anyway, since we’ve decided to go we must hurry. This way.” 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
It was an unusual cooperative work, and it continued in the darkness. 
Even with both of them pulling it took them more than five minutes to move the unyielding steel frame. They receded the concrete and rocks in the surroundings first; it was a hard struggle for ten minutes. Finally the aforementioned steel frame could be move with just a kick. 
Sousuke and Leonard only made exchanges to the most minimal degree required and did not say anything more. It was only to the degree of something like “get that off” or “pull this”. 
Of course they did not let their guards down. Whenever the opponent would change his mind, he would immediately pull out his knife, and would not turn his back whenever necessary. 
No matter the situation the other man was an enemy. They did not forget this decision. 
“Oh well....” 
Leonard rested his hands. He did not seem tired, only bored of the simple work. 
“Don’t rest on your own.” 
With the words of Sousuke, he shrugged his shoulders and returned to work. 
It was not a bad performance. And not because he was powerless. For someone who didn’t know much but wore a suit, it was a strange feeling looking at him working like that. 
“Tessa must also have come here right? Aren’t you worried about her?” 
Not being able to stand the boring work, Leonard spoke. 
His manner of speaking didn’t seem like he was trying to pinpoint Tessa’s location. It might be a bluff, but he thought that he might have guessed that Tessa would be in the ruins. But there was no reason for him to offer such information, and so he feigned innocence. 
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 
“I don’t think you’d come here alone. She is the one who has a need here.” 
“I don’t know. I also don’t fell like answering.” 
“Aah, is that so?” Leonard said with a searching voice, taking an armful of reinforced concrete, and putting it down below the stairs. 
“What if I tell you that Chidori Kaname is here, well?” 
Sousuke, gripping the fragments of the conduits with his hands, suddenly stopped. 
“Did you bring her? In these ruins?” 
“Don’t rest on your own. Hey.” 
It must have been revenge for before. Leonard made a smirk in the darkness. Even with annoyance, he didn’t say a word and continued to work. 
“A helicopter came crashing down the large elevator shaft right? She was riding in that.” 
“What was that?” 
“Then later the helicopter exploded, and burned up. Although we haven’t confirmed the corpse, it was because of your attacks.” 
For an instant his muscles grew cold, Sousuke immediately decided that it must be a lie. If Kaname were truly dead, he wouldn’t be talking comfortably there like that. Although he didn’t know whose death that man would be saddened by, at least he wouldn’t laugh about it. 
“You don’t seem to believe me. There is no mistake that what I’ve just said is the truth. I was in the hanger of the helicopter in my AS, it was simple to escape. She was in the front cabin. Whatever happened to her, even I don’t know.” 
“Nonsense.” 
“It’s true. Chidori Kaname was riding that helicopter.” 
“Then, why do you talk so optimistically?” 
“That’s right. That’s a good question. ...well, it’s time we start moving. Let’s try it.” 
“Let’s go.” 
Somehow the two of them grabbed on the unmoving steel frame, and pulled with full strength. The base covered with rubble slowly began to give, and they finally pulled it free. 
“Alright. Well then....where were we? That’s right, her condition.” 
Returning to manual labor, Leonard continued the topic. 
“It is true that she was on the helicopter that crashed. I didn’t rescue her, the helicopter exploded and burned. Even then she is alive, I am confident about it. That’s a point.” 
“What are you talking about?” 
Sousuke really did not know the meaning in Leonard’s words. For example if Kaname being in the helicopter was true, 
why did he have that confidence? Additionally, why purposely say so? 
“I’ve also tested it before. Just before your struggle in Hong Kong. She was targeted by an Assassin ordered by Gauron and was attacked in the business district of Tokyo. Under the rain. I was in there hiding. I did nothing and only watched.” 
“............” 
“Think generally. An assassin that was a protégé of Gauron, and a high school girl with good reflexes. No matter how you think it would be her end. But she was saved.” 
“She has good luck.” 
“That’s right, she has good luck- abnormally so.” 
There was a hidden enigma in Leonard’s words. 
“During the attack, that assassin used his first gun. The first shot missed, and emptied the cartridge. In such an opportunity she managed to run away.” 
It was the first time that he heard of that. Even from Kaname, he didn’t hear the details about it. Aside from the small AS called Alastor, and the meeting with Leonard and two to three conversations, he knew nothing more. 
“It was not rare for the automatic pistol to malfunction.” 
“That’s right. But if you were going to kill someone with a gun, before that what do you do?” 
“That’s...” 
Confirm the function of the gun, and inspect that there was nothing wrong with the bullets. Blundering at the start, no matter what kind of target it was, it would be difficult if the target were to be absorbed to the killing rhythm. That was why you had to make certain from the start, to be very careful in preparing to send the target to the other world. 
That assassin was also the same. 
Aside from the coincidence that the bullet missed, the gun also broke down. 
“She has good luck, that girl. It’s a little unbelievable right?” 
“Is that why she is alive from the helicopter crash? Something is wrong.” 
“Is that so? You also have some knowledge of it. How many times has she barely escaped danger in the nick of time? I think that the way she lives is strange.” 
“That’s....” 
With his nose indicating a smile, Sousuke couldn’t deny it. That was correct. When he met her, she was involved with countless dangers. Among them were even some aspects that would give Sousuke chills, and he had experienced the scene of carnage. 
Was that also luck? No, that shouldn’t be. 
“She never gives up and continues to move. Judging what she can do in her circumstance, according to her will and beliefs. The meaning in that is that she is similar to an ordinary veteran soldier.” 
Of course Sousuke could not deny what’s called “luck”. He himself was also alive because of luck. Being a soldier himself with enough abilities, he could also be killed with a single stray bullet. But luck was a persistent element attached to it. There was a saying “Man prospers, God disposes”, luck surely must be “god’s will”. Being bothered by luck, only then would action follow. 
If you remove the ability of a Whispered, Kaname Chidori was by no means a non-rare human. More than an ordinary human, she was a little stronger. Actually that was a difficult matter, but that was not a rare disposition. 
“I recognize her great will and activity. But, will you think about this? She would happen to have this kind of ability herself, her luck.” 
“It’s just a bending theory.” 
Then the people who had filled their life expectancy, all of it would have to be luck. A required environment to live the full life would mean having the required ability. There were already a hundred million people among the world. 
“Well, that might be. This matter is just going around in circles. Also, as for not being dead, it was not luck, but inevitability.” 
“Inevitability?” 
“She is the convergence point of cause and effect. You can say that the world is strange because she is here, or you can say that she is here because the world is strange. From now she will be, probably even without any arrangement from me, she would be meeting with the dead of this relic. There she would unite with the power to put a full stop on history. Becoming the ‘KANAME (Key Stone)’ that would create a world without a past, future and present.” 
“I don’t understand. What are you saying?” 
“About the Omni Sphere and the Whispered. The chaos of the world will start from this ground.” 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
The frequency of the déjà vu was evidently high. 
Kaname also felt that she had walked the long and narrow passage a number of times, and felt that the small abusive language of Lemon and the cough of Tessa were heard a number of times. Having too much déjà vu seemed to be laborious. She had to 
clearly gather her will in front to preserve her true nature. But even then, the indescribable fatigue was accumulating throughout the nerves of her whole body. 
“My head seems to feel funny” Lemon muttered.  
Those words were heard countless times. 
“I’m sure it’s just ahead. But I feel that the door gets farther and farther away. I somehow understand what a mountain climber feels....” 
“Don’t worry. We’ll get there.” 
There was fatigue oozing out of Tessa’s words. 
“Just ahead is the center of the research facility. The device that Professor Valov and the research team created would be sleeping there unharmed.” 
“The effect would be coming from the device right?” 
“Yes. But strictly speaking, it is not the fault of the current device. Since there is no electricity, it’s not functioning.” 
“Being the effect of a device that stopped, I really don’t understand...” 
“It’s a little hard to explain- the effects of that device, would be coming from the past. 18 years ago, the psychic waves of its full operation are being transmitted to this period” 
“The past? Psychic waves?” 
“It’s the Omni Sphere that I’ve explained a while ago. This center is ground zero. Everything started from here.” 
Gradually, really gradually, the three of them managed to reach the center. They passed a number of massive doors. They were lucky they were not locked, and the weight of it was opened by both Tessa and Kaname. 
In there was an extensive hall-like space. It was many times wider than a school gymnasium. In the inner walls were drum type 
units; countless numbers of them sticking closely to each other. One by one they were the size of a truck’s tire. 
And then in the center of the vast hall was a large dome-type structure. It looked like a globular gas tank in Japan, and the larger half cut. On its outside surface, similar to the inner wall of the hall, clung hundreds of drum type units. 
“What is this place....?” Lemon said with uneasiness. 
Looking alert, an ordinary human would not know what kind of facility it was. Speaking only of its atmosphere, it looked like a photo of a neutrino observation facility. Constructed deep underground, strange and exaggerated- it was an experimental device for a simple purpose. It was thought that with an enormous budget and with the required resources it would become a large-scale device like that… it was arrogant space. Even being organized as it was, the device had an abnormal eccentric feel to it. 
As a scientific apparatus, it would rather be like a heretic temple ruined in ancient times. 
Due to the deterioration, the inside of the drum was lost from the inner wall and rolled to Kaname and the others. Probably, the drum was an amplification device. The insides were enclosed special electrical circuits that substituted human intellect. 
No, during that period such a scale of circuits couldn’t be built. Unless- 
“Kaname-san. Are you uneasy about the contents of this drum?” 
“Un, could it be....” 
“I don’t think it’s the brains of humans as expected.” Tessa said with a voice without vigor. “Probably, they used the brains of other high class mammals. Professor Valov’s team seemed to be researching the brains of dolphins. The victims of this atrocity were probably them.” 
“How cruel....” 
Talking about one or two heads would already be sickening, but that facility had thousands of them in the same drum. Kaname tried to refrain from vomiting. 
They already understood. Those ruins were the product of evil and madness. 
If not so, even if the victims were not humans, such cruelty should not exist. 
“This is TAROS?” 
“Yes. This device was created by Professor Valov, the world’s first TAROS. Although he called it ‘Mental Communication Device’. The current TAROS loaded into the Laevatein and the de Danaan used the latest technology in large scale logic element- using Al and Dana as an amplifying device, making it possible to transmit and respond to the Omni Sphere.” 
“However, the period that created this device should not be possible. That is why the amplification of a living brain....” 
“That’s right. To keep the large resources of brain organization from dying, in order to control the chemical of such activity various kinds of diverse drugs were refined in this Yamsk 11 Plant. To keep the secret the production facility was collected within the town. The former town that this was, many excellent specialists were gathered from the Eastern countries. The majority of these scientists did not know the whole aspect of the experiment. Having to investigate this far took me quite some time. Exposing Lemon-san to danger, the different pieces were put into place.” 
“Tessa you’ve gone to that much hardship.... no matter how many secret towns there are, aren’t there any people that know remaining?” 
“None of them remained. Because the people of the town, those who remained, either died or are crippled. And in merely one night.” 
“....what exactly happened?” 
“During the full operational test an accident occurred. TAROS went berserk, radiating an extremely strong psychic wave. The people within the 30 kilometer radius of this center received a serious mental contamination.... later it would be shown on the ruins outside. People who lost their sanity killed, and continued to commit suicide. There are also many people in distant places who were killed by the shock.” 
Although Kaname had not seen the streets, she could imagine what had happened. There was no mistake that it developed into a scene of Hell. 
“A telepathic version of the Chernobyl huh?” a silent and listening Lemon muttered. 
“That’s right. There are a variety of psychic waves that radiate through the Omni Sphere. One that weakens by distance and time is the Iota wave. What contaminated the residents of Yamsk 11 was this Iota wave. The effects are comparatively confined in an area. And then the other is the Tau wave. This has no relation to distance and time. It is a psychic wave with a property that can be transmitted over a distance without getting weak. This has no influence for an ordinary person, except for an instant degree of déjà vu. However, the effects of this Tau wave are wide. I think that it has been transmitted to all over the world.” 
“But, nobody noticed....” 
“Yes. It cannot be observed physically, and there are no persons who received the effects. However, there are exceptions. During the berserk of TAROS, this is just an assumption, roughly 18 years ago, December 24, 1981, 11:50 Greenwich Mean Time 
continuing for about three minutes. In this moment the effects were received by the people who are exceptions. Do you know what kind of people these are?” 
“Well..... I guess it’s us.” 
Lemon’s head turned to one side, Kaname made a deep sigh. 
That might be the biggest sigh for humans. Listening that much, she finally understood. 
My secret. Our secret. 
“The newborn baby. The moment they woke up.” 
“That’s right, it’s us.” 
She still remembered it now. During primary school there were research subjects like “let’s inspect the incidents on the day you were born”. At that time it was shown to the birth mother. December 24, Tokyo time was 20:50. Greenwich Mean Time would be 11:50. 
Mother. 
You should have birthed me 1 minute earlier..... 
“As to why would the Tau wave effected the newborn babies at the moment of their birth....we still don’t fully know that. In the explanation of a Physiologist, Alice Miller, the moment a newborn baby is born there is special activity in the basal ganglia and Occipital lobe. However, at present there is no medical verification. There is no consent from mothers.” 
“Well that’s right.... there are no mothers that would agree to having electrodes stuck into the brain of a child just before birth.” 
“With the creation of a more advance apparatus, I think there is a way to investigate this.... to be delivered into a special Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Apparatus. If ever in the future, that Kaname-san chances to give birth to a baby, would you let me conduct an experiment?” 
“Wha..what are you saying. Why don’t you do it yourself!?” 
“But, I will probably be alone for the rest of my life....” 
“What’s with that bitter face?” 
“Nothing. But, that’s right.... If Kaname-san would lend Sagara-san to me sometimes, I’ll do the experiment myself.” 
“You say that easily....” 
“You don’t want to?” 
“Of course!? Well, in the first place, he and I are not really...” 
“I’m joking. Don’t be seriously troubled by it.” 
“....hey you” 
Kaname shook her shoulders, Lemon timidly raised a voice from the side. 
“Um. Right now, we were talking about something very serious but....” 
“Ah, that’s right.” 
“Sorry, we got carried away.” 
Kaname and the others were near the giant dome in the center of the hall. Tessa, seemingly looking for the passage inside, walked along the outer circumference of the dome. 
“Well then.... Children who were imprinted by the Tau wave at the moment of their birth. They were the Whispered. Nonetheless, we did not receive the vast knowledge from that short instant. Connecting to the Omni Sphere, I think we gained the ability to receive another psychic wave from some future.” 
“Some future?” 
“Yes. The Omni Sphere retrogrades information through time. We did not receive information on technology not yet known from birth, but ‘receive’ information through psychic waves from the future. The imprinting during birth would be to have the minimum required ability for that reception.” 
“In other words, it’s like an access code or a protocol.... With that, when the child grows up the intelligence rises, by some kind of chance, it would receive the suspicious electromagnetic waves.” 
“That’s how it is. ....children born in the said three minutes, what was recorded all over the world was 174 persons. With the healthcare system of underdeveloped countries, there are children with no accurate birth records, and it is actually much more numerous. A rough estimate would multiplied by that… around more than 350 people. However, the confirmed Whispered at the present are only a handful, less than 10.” 
“Why is that?” 
“The age where the Whispered ability awakens might be dependent on individual differences. And aside from the time of birth, there is a possibility of other conditions to become a Whispered. The ‘qualities’ are different though. There are many individual differences when humans are born, and it would not be mysterious for those born to not be affected by the Tau wave. Currently those ‘complication ratio’ is less than 3%, and would not be considered as unnatural figures. In any event, we are currently the communication terminal that receives the output of technology information from the future.” 
“It is an unbelievable story” Lemon muttered. His face being pale was not only because of his injuries. “Technology information sent from the future. Then that means technology and weapons came from that information.” 
“That’s right. The AS was the start of ‘Technology that shouldn’t exist (Black Technology)’.” 
There was no inflection in the words of Tessa. In the wide darkness with nobody but the three of them, her voice resounded with a vacant tone. 
“I think that the effects of the Black Technology most probably started around the mid 80’s. The same children as us Whispered, there were records that these abilities had started to display at around age three. My father, while still alive, was investigating this.” 
“80’s? Then, the world right now....” 
“Yes. The world has been affected by Black Technology for fifteen years, it would not be difficult to imagine. The explosive advancement of elliptical computer technology. The innovative invention in the field of energy. The dramatic change in radar technology....” 
Originally, the development of those enterprises were not yet developed. Enterprises that should have collapsed have not collapsed. Military operations that were supposed to end in failure succeeded. The international economy received a different effect. There might be a change in the result of a large country’s election, originally it may have had a different administration, or it may have had a different policy. 
A collapsed country, might not have collapsed. 
A country preserving its unity might have split up. 
And then, it is possible, The American-Russian cold war might have ended. 
“For arguments sake the ‘Original History’-- if there is a history that has no Black Technology present (something that is mostly on conjecture)-- I think the science technology would still be unchanged from the start of the 80’s. Computer voice recognition on a suspicious level, the existence of Palladium Reactor, the materialization of a bipedal robot technology, and that sort would not exist.” 
“Then were talking about Technology?” 
“Yes. Those brought about the effects in Political economics and military affairs.... complex conjectures are impossible. The whole surface might have gone into nuclear warfare, or the reverse, the cold war might have ended. In any case, it is a different world than we know of. A group of people that would know this truth would call this situation a ‘Time Hazard’. It’s just, that in the first place an ‘Original History’, it is unknown if it exists or not. If the appearance of Whispered and interference of the Omni Sphere are inevitable, this might be a natural occurrence.” 
“It’s something of a large scale that I can’t imagine.... just now, how many times had a déjà vu come? My head has really become strange.” 
“Please steady your head, Lemon-san. Where we are right now is the center of where the Time Hazard occurred. We cannot predict what effects it would have on the mind.” 
“The center.... But isn’t it strange? The world rotates, revolving. Moving in the center of the solar system and the Milky Way. If it were in the strict coordinates, the ‘here’ 18 years ago would be somewhere beyond space right?” 
“No. The Omni Sphere exists in the mind of the area it was first activated, and has absolutely no relation to the physical world’s coordinates. It is not something similar to the Ether Space of the past. That is why the livelihood domain of humans, in other words on the surface world, ‘existing here’ could not be explained. The Omni Sphere adheres to the Earth and moves together with it, and the coordinates system on the earth makes Yamsk 11 ground zero, there are other faulty expressions but.... it would be better to think of the situation like that.” 
“It’s difficult.... Even so, these ruins have been uninhabited for a long time. If there are no people, the Omni Sphere wouldn’t exist right?” 
“It’s not because there are no people that it doesn’t exist. I think the expression ‘it has no meaning’ is more correct. Besides, this place is different. The effects of the incident 18 years ago still remain to the present day, no, it reaches here.” 
They found the entrance to the dome. It was similar in height to Tessa, a narrow hatch. 
“Aah..... I really don’t understand. Kaname-san, how about you?” 
“I...” 
Kaname, who had been silent for a while, felt her head was heavy. It was the because of the said déjà vu. Step by step, she felt painful advancing forward. Like walking in a heavy viscous liquid with resistance and discomfort. Then there was an order of precedence. 
“I... understand.” 
She understood. 
They were not simple uninhabited ruins. What was waiting ahead? 
“Aah..... I really don’t understand. Kaname-san, how about you?” Lemon said. 
“Lemon-san. You’re repeating yourself.” 
“Aah..... I really don’t understand. Kaname-san, how about you?” 
“Lemon-san?” 
“Kaname-san, how about you?” 
“Lemon-san!” 
“How about you?..... about you? you? you? ou? u, u, uwawaauwaua......uwaaaaaaaa!!” 
It was a scream with a frozen spine. Lemon’s mind was being plucked from his body. Like receiving an electromagnetic shock averting his spine, his whole body shook violently. 
“Hi....!?” 
“Stopstopstopstopstopdon’tdon’tdon’tdon’tdon’tdon’tdon’t!!” 
“Lemon-san!!” 
Looking down upon Kaname, who was only shivering, Tessa thrust him away will full power. Lemon staggered, and fell to his backside a few meters away from the dome. Even then his struggle did not stop. 
“Let’s pull him back! Help me!” 
“Eh? Ah, yes.” 
Lemon, who continued to scream despite falling, was pulled out into the exterior hall. Finally his derangement stopped. He lied down with a sobbing voice. 
“What was that? What exactly is this....” 
“I don’t know. But, probably—” Tessa muttered. “The Iota waves that were emitted from the center of the facility are stronger than expected. With a strong feedback from the Omni Sphere, Lemon-san fell into panic. It’s because he is a normal human.” 
“Right. When I first felt the electromagnetic waves in North Korea, it was this kind of feeling. It because we have grown accustomed to it, those unskillful might be shocked to death....” 
“This was beyond supposition. At this rate, we can’t bring him inside.” 
There was no reason to recklessly bring him in. Rather, if this was favorable to Tessa, she didn’t have the appearance of being glad. 
“But the Iota wave, there must be something inside?” 
“That’s right. However, but more than my hypothesis, the distant strength is-” 
Tessa faced down and coughed in nausea. 
“Tessa, are you alright?” 
“Yes. Why don’t you wait with Lemon-san? There is no need for you to recklessly accompany me. Here with him-” 
When Tessa was saying that, Kaname firmly gripped her hand. 
“Alright. Let’s go.” 
“...yes.” 
Holding Kaname’s hand, Tessa once again started walking towards TAROS- the center of the dome. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
“Stopping History. What’s that?” Sousuke asked.  
Leonard muttered something in the middle of the deep darkness. Machenshaft Als Herrschaft Des~…. He did not hear the last part. It was most likely German, he didn’t understand the meaning. 
“Huh?” 
“I wonder if that’s Heidegger. ‘A construction that controls the creation and the created’. Or possibly Self Cause (Causa Sui). It’s only by association. The connection between cause and effect is to go because of going. Well, it’s about philosophy. Anyway setting free the principle of causality, we have lived thus far in this different world. If Fate and Destiny are indeed to become free-what would man wish for at that time? I am progressing for that preparation.” 
Principle of causality? Fate? 
Sousuke didn’t entirely understand the meaning of that. 
“You heard about the Omni Sphere from my sister right?” 
“A little.” 
“Even TAROS?” 
“Once. A device that accesses the Omni Sphere, and the ability to operate the Lambda Driver.” 
“The Lambda Driver was just an extra. It was for convenience.” 
“It seems so.” 
“These ruins are where the world’s first TAROS was created, and a berserk incident occurred. As a result, children who were to arrive at the same time became the Whispered. ....the real importance the Omni Sphere holds is the transmission of a variety of electromagnetic waves from that area, not being restricted from time and space. Whispered are persons capable of transmitting information from the past or future. With its effect we made this world different from the ‘original world’. Another history, another time axis, another world. Originally AS should not exist, even Mithril shouldn’t. Amalgam also would be a different organization.” 
“That’s absurd. Such a thing-” 
“It’s up to you to believe it or not. But this is the truth- how do you think you should treat this world?” 
“I don’t have to treat anything. I should just leave it alone.” 
Wherever the world may be, for Sousuke, such things had no interest to him. 
History changed? Then what about it? Even if it were the truth, the truth surrounding him would not change. 
There are enemies, there are allies. 
There are battle tactics, there are mission objectives. 
Actions that should be done, information to look at that needs to be known, something that should be heard. 
“Would it be alright continuing like this?” 
Leonard laughed. 
“Of course not. Those that should exist are gone, those that shouldn’t exist are here. People who should have lived are dead, those who should have died are still alive. This world has gone mad. We have to correct it. Someone who has the power to do so…” 
“The one who’s mad is you. I don’t know what kind of methods you have to reform the world but-” 
“It’s not world reformation.” 
His fed-up scornful voice echoed in the darkness. 
“It’s not worthless politics. Inclining the Earth’s axis, think about the occurrences of natural disasters. If there is a way to return things, it would be ordinary to think about returning it right? Returning the world to what it was originally. What is mad about that?” 
“I’m not a great genius like you. Even if you say the world is mad, no feelings would grow. I really don’t understand, but what you say about ‘returning the world’ would be to deny the environment that we have lived in, right? Even for enemies and allies. That is what I do not like.” 
“Then listen to this, do you have comrades in arms that have died? Relatives or friends, surrounding comrades that you have lost?” 
“Of course.” 
The comrade in arms in Afghanistan. And the mercenaries he met after. There were many of them. Those who were with him in the operations of Mithril. Matt Shade of the intelligence department. Uruz 1, Gail McAllen. PRT’s Lian Shaopin. Gebo 9’s pilot Eva Santos and her crew. Colleagues who died in the battle at Merida Island that he heard of- Castello. Speck. Several officers of the West Pacific Fleet. 
And then- Nami. 
No matter how many of them there were, there were at least a few people who died because he didn’t have enough strength. Especially Nami of Namsak, just the fleeting memory of her name sent pain down his heart. Nami. Sorry. If I were only a second faster in saving you- 
“You have, right? You have many deaths. Don’t you regret them?” 
“....I have no obligation to answer.” 
“No, you regret them. But, ‘originally’, the majority of them should still be alive. The Black Technology that the Whispered brought about changed warfare, surely the fate of those surrounding people were obviously affected. The lives that they should have, are you going to deny them this? Saying coldly ‘leave them alone’ and abandoning them. Who would be the one who’s mad?” 
“I’m not abandoning them....!” 
He understood the expectations of his opponent, but even so Sousuke raised his voice. 
“Can you say that to them? ‘It was unfortunate that you died, give up. There is a way to save you, but I don’t want to try it’?” 
“What you’re saying is nonsense. You can’t save those who have died. Time axis of the past of the future, they won’t be resurrected by such theories.” 
“Hmm. You don’t seem to be saying that with a rock head. Why do you think so?” 
“Because I’m a killer” Sousuke said, gazing at Leonard. “Before, it is as you said to Chidori. I killed more than 100 people. I don’t know the accurate number. And there is no need to know. There were a number of people riding in the truck which I blew up 
in the gorge of Afghanistan, but I did not count. Generally speaking, I stole the lives of countless of men. That is why I understand. I feel I know it.” 
“Hmm. In other words?” 
“Human death is absolute. They won’t come back again. If you can somehow bring them back as a puppet, then they would be another person.” 
“Why is that? If the body, mind and environment are the same, then they would be the same person, right?” 
“You’re mistaken. Death itself is a part of humans. A personality until the last moment. That is why we seriously fight with full devotion. This is the only unchanging absolute rule. Even that Gauron abided by this. That person is the garbage of humans, but simultaneously knew the fleeting moment of life. The differences between him and me are what is being enjoyed and what is not being enjoyed.” 
“Very interesting view” Leonard said, laboriously taking up the concrete lump. “Gauron, huh? This talk, about made time and destiny, he also mentioned this. He didn’t doubt. But he didn’t concern himself. He said something similar to you. Even though you were fated enemies, having the same opinion. Isn’t it cynicism?” 
“It’s not cynicism or what. It was a warrior’s unwritten law.” 
“Gauron is a warrior?” 
“At least. But you’re different.” 
He had no intention of disdain. Sousuke only spoke what he felt. “You’re different”. But his words stimulated something inside of Leonard. 
“I see. Then, you have to hear this; would Kaname dying be the same thing?” 
“..........” 
Sousuke did not say anything. He didn’t understand it himself. 
“You don’t know, right?” 
There was no pride resounding in Leonard’s voice. 
“If I were in your place, well, I couldn’t accept that. A rule or an unwritten law… because this is a world that has no need of such procedures. Aren’t you people perceiving things in simplicity? Good or evil, likes and dislikes, enemies and friends- you don’t believe in dualism right” 
“What are you trying to say?” 
“I don’t know. Unexpectedly, I think there might be no need for us to fight.” 
Unexpected words. 
No need to fight- Why did he say such words?  
You appeared to us as enemies from the start. Standing as an obstruction to our mission, many friends died, and then you took Kaname away.  
There was no thought of reconciliation. 
“I understand. It’s not that I’m talking about peace. No matter how I say it, the answer would be NO, right?” 
“Of course.” 
“Your stubbornness is no different from the fundamentalism of a terrorist. However Mr. Kalinin was wrong. He was hesitant at first.” 
“....the Lt. Commander?” 
“The first time I made contact with him was last Christmas. Even after listening to the current mad world, he did not immediately believe. However, he seemed to think long and hard. During the great assault last January.” 
“You’re nonsense would not make him double cross.” 
“I’ll reveal some proof to you. Using an ordinarily unforeseeable natural phenomenon, Amalgam gave Mithril a great blow, so to say.” 
“Natural phenomenon?” 
“The Solar Wind. With the influence of a large scale solar activity, it is know that most communications would be down. I foresaw it using TAROS. It is impossible to predict the surface climate and society, but it was not difficult to predict solar activity. The activity of humans living in a small planet, there is nothing that could affect the sun. Knowing the exact second, I used that. If not, Amalgam would not be able to strike a great blow to Mithril in such a short time.” 
During the aforementioned great offensive he heard that Kalinin’s state was strange. 
That was because of Leonard’s prediction. Using the absolutely unpredictable solar activity Amalgam devised an attack. There was no more “proof” than that. TAROS and Omni Sphere, history’s accident that made a communication method to cross time. All of it was true. 
“Then he agreed. With a means to correct the mistake, I have that power. The ally that he followed is accurately not Amalgam, but me.” 
“Impossible...” 
Andrei Kalinin, wasn’t he the personification of that “Warrior’s unwritten law”? Beside the possibility of “correcting the mad world”, it was unthinkable that he would ride along that plan. For him to accept failure, defeat, and every kind of blow, on top of those he would construct the “next mission”. 
If not. If he were not so, us who have been fighting under him, for what purpose were we fighting for, exhausting all power? 
“Andrei Kalinin is a realistic man. I also understand if you do not accept this. That is why no explanation was made.” 
“The Captain- Tessa knew this?” 
“She should know. On top of that, she did not explain anything, and obstructs my objective. Why is that? Do you know?” 
“There are people in Mithril who would approve of want you’re saying.” 
“That is correct. That is why Teletha did not explain everything. Letting bygones be bygones, and thinking of letting history continue. Facing forward is splendid, but it was a reason of self intoxication. There is also the revenge towards Amalgam. Going against controlling the world. But that girl’s first motive was to go against me. Denying me of what I should be doing, thinking of showing her own power.” 
“She is not that kind of selfish person.” 
“I don’t care about her true intentions. But it is as what I’ve said, having the pretext of wrong principle. In short, a child. Because she’s smarter than ordinary people, all the more she will manage it. There is a theory attached inside of her.” 
Extracting the steel pipe buried in the rubble, there was a sound of the surrounding concrete breaking. There was a hole no larger than an arm, from there blew a cold wind. 
Just a little more. 
If they removed the surrounding rubble, they could go through the opposite passage. 
“Amalgam right now, is radically headed to deterioration.” 
Removing the rubble, Leonard surprisingly said that. 
“Although no one notices it. What I am going to do, the plan to fully stop the history of the mad world, needs considerable calculations and resources. The democratic system is inconvenient. That is why I’m going to break the lever.” 
“Break the lever?” 
“The introduction of a dictatorship. Destroying the equilibrium of the management’s power, spreading distrust and fears. Then a person will appear to execute the brilliant activity, using the carrot and stick in the dark forming alliances using influences. It is simply troublesome work, but will take form in half a year. Due to the activities of Mr. Kalinin.” 
“In other words, you will be the dictator.” 
“We still haven’t arrived at that stage. Mostly we’re grasping the background of the important leaders and will finish off their communications network like a virus. The communications network is not the internet. It’s more of a primitive coded system, so nobody noticed. Amalgam also has made use of this for dozens of years, quietly increasing it.” 
Although he didn’t have any intention of giving away the coded system, Leonard’s words were already important information. Also easily speaking about the actual circumstance of his own organization… 
“Why are you telling me this?” 
“I thought it might be a good idea to tell you. You guys are desperately fighting, someday Amalgam will decline. No- that representation is amusing. Before that, this world will be corrected from the mistaken form.” 
Coming that far, Sousuke couldn’t possibly think of what that man was boasting about. If Leonard were mad, the conversation would be over. But in the unfortunate matter, that was not the reality. Kalinin had sided with him, Amalgam certainly had shown some strange movement, and then the unnatural question about the world… it all coincided with what Tessa said. 
It was not a lie, and it was not madness. 
Then, what kind of method would be used to execute that plan? 
“Chidori being necessary, was it for that plan’s purpose?” 
“That’s exactly it. Right now, a new TAROS is being constructed in another place. This TAROS, so far, has a structure that has no problems in scale. Its power is to interfere with the past, an ordinary Whispered can’t be used as a catalyst. A much larger power for imprinting, most probably there is only one suitable person. After searching so long for that suitable person, I finally found it. The psychic wave that was emitted from the incident in this Yamsk 11, the first until the last information of the Tau wave, it would be her who will receive its vastness. Sending the technological information from the future to the Whispered, it is not from someone unknown. It is her. She will be from now on.” 
“Chidori....?” 
“Her ‘abnormal luck’, is because she was living in a ‘singular point’. She would be capable of that. Influencing fate. That is why she is not a Whispered. Rather what she should be called, Chidori Kaname is a Whispering. That’s right, the one who would send the Black Technology to make the world in disorder, would be her.” 
“She is an honest person” Sousuke emphasized in an irritated tone. “No matter what kind of theory, she would not have a behavior of gladly sending killing technology. ....I’m not sure about the context, at any rate she is not that kind of person.” 
“That is a mystery” Leonard laughed saying that. “Being strong that far, why would a righteous girl interfere with the past? The past that she cannot accept, what would that be? Was it something that happened long ago? Or would it be happening to her? And then, why would she be sending the Black Technology? No, will she send it? Even then, in the first place who was the one 
who invented the information that she has? Where is it? Is there another Whispered from the future? Or there isn’t? If you want to know that then you have to leave it to chance. What do you think?” 
There was a mixed self derision in his inquiring words, echoing from somewhere desolate. The devil descending in front of your eyes, laughing at the works of god that has surpassed his own understanding… drifting about in such eeriness. 
“What I know....” 
His head seemed to be funny. Leonard’s words, his tense and context were in disorder. 
But he understood one thing. Chidori Kaname, that innocent girl, it had nothing to do with her own will. With someone else’s reasoning she would become a sacrifice in a grand and arrogant plan. That was only it. 
“Ultimately, what would you do yourself? What is your objective in fighting us? Retribution against Amalgam, or the opposition of world domination? Stop with that empty slogan. If possible I want to hear a much more simple intention.” 
“Take back Chidori, returning to the usual life. That’s all.” 
“Impossible.” 
“That’s not so.” 
“No, it’s impossible. Even if I give up, she will be targeted by someone else eventually. Such humans, and ordinary person should be existing in an organization. Even Mithril is suspicious. If the generation changes someday they would start longing for her powers. It is because it’s an organization. This is absolute.” 
“...............” 
“But if we were to correct the mad history, she will take a life as an ordinary human. No one would target her. Having a calm life, fall in love, give birth, grow old. What you would wish for. This is the only solution.” 
Speaking of the theory thus far, that should be. 
In the corner of his confused mind, something was telling him that “what this man is saying is correct”. But it left out the most important thing. In regards to that solution, why did he have a feeling of rejection? 
No, he knew. 
If that were to be, he would no longer be in her life. In Leonard’s words, “fall in love”, “give birth”, “grow old”, one by one those words were tightening his heart. 
He was not there. 
He would not even be able to protect her from afar. 
“Then.... it would be meaningless.” 
“What a troublesome dilemma. I’m even bothered by it. It’s good that you’re bothered.” 
Leonard took an armful of concrete and let it fall on to the lower floor. Sousuke, in the same manner, threw the rubble. In a matter of few minutes, both of them immersed themselves without saying anything. Finally the two of them uprooted the steel frame, with the momentum they cleared the stairs and a large amount of rubble fell in. 
The flatness and the hanging dust and smoke cleared, and a large hole passable by one person was finished. 
“Oh well, we’re saved” Leonard muttered, and dove willfully through the hole.  
Although his back was defenseless, he didn’t have the mood to attack. Sousuke later followed and the two of them safely emerged on top of the floor. From the stairs there was a “T” junction on a narrow passage. 
The truce ended there. 
The two mutual enemies took a few steps from each other, confronting each other in the darkness. 
“Well then, shall we return to killing each other?” 
“...........? 
There was no worry of catching fire there. Guns and explosives could be used. 
To take him down, it should be then. 
If it were a showdown in AS, even with the Laevatein he didn’t know if he would win. But if it was flesh and blood there were prospects of victory. If he did not defeat him then, that man would definitely become a great threat. 
“Alright. By all means.” 
On the side with a dim light where dusts were fluttering, Leonard Testarossa was laughing. 
It was not a pretentious smile. 
As he was then, he was glaring at somewhere. Immediately gazing at him, he was expecting conflict. There was not even a particle of tenacity to the present world; it was the laugh of a religious fanatic. 
Sousuke, suddenly, was caught wondering if he could win against that opponent. 
By no means was it fear. Only, the killing intent towards the enemy that was inside of him previously was no longer there. That was the result of listening to Leonard’s words; it produced a hesitation inside of him. 
If ever-- if ever there was a possibility to implement Leonard’s plan, wouldn’t it be the best course to let Kaname return to a peaceful world? To kill or wound this man, would it end that path? 
I don’t care what happens to me. Chidori. Why are you not here? 
At the end of the short hesitation, Sousuke said. 
“Right now.... let’s stop.” 
“Fine. Then for our mutual frustration, why don’t we let those feeling out some other day?” 
Turning his back, Leonard left Sousuke. It was a defenseless back. There was still time for a surprise attack. That was probably the last opening. 
But Sousuke couldn’t move. 
Leonard’s form disappeared into the darkness. He could no longer be aimed at. 
“Let me tell you this last. Even if I turn the whole world against me, I will accomplish my objective.” 
His voice echoed in the passage. 
“You can do nothing and become a spectator. But the next time you show yourself in front of me, there will be no mercy. I will kill you with all my might” 
Sousuke could not answer back. 
Standing still and dejected, not knowing where his enemy went, the sound of footsteps disappeared to far away. 
Change the world? 
Becoming calm alone, he suddenly did not believe. He was currently half-believing half-doubting; that must be the proof of his own character’s preservation. 
However, there was still one important task remaining. 
“Chidori....” 
If she were somewhere in the ruins he had to find her first before the enemy did. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Kaname and Tessa went through the hatch of the dome, proceeding in the narrow passage. 
Lemon was left behind outside of the dome. He was with them entering it, or so they thought. 
Déjà vu. Déjà vu. Déjà vu. The endless repetition of their thoughts. 
Drawing close to the center, there was a feeling of pressure and fatigue. 
Even though it was almost five meters away. Why was that goal, the small room inside the dome, that far? No matter how much advancement was made the end would not come. Even thought the summit could be seen, the summit couldn’t seem to be reached, it was that desperate feeling when climbing a mountain. Those were shared by the two. 
Hand in hand, hearts connected. 
I’m scared. Do your best. Just a little more. 
It’s hard. Painful. Don’t give up. 
But, what now? 
It was not distinct as to who was reprimanding and who was complaining. Threading on a few meters for an eternity of travel, the two girls reached the center of the dome. 
“This is....” 
In the deepest part of oldest TAROS was a corpse with a large amount of electrodes surrounding it. 
In a container like a large bath tub a number of cables and pipes were connected. In the center of the container a corpse like a mannequin was stationed upright. 
A girl- a young one at that. 
It was not decayed, a skeleton, or like a mummy. It was closest to a wax figure. 
It had a material feel like cloudy ice. The corpse had preserved its glossy luster. A rich breast and slim waist line was 
perfectly preserved. It had a feel to it like it was a varnish on the dead- like something coming out of a fantasy, a smooth curve. 
The corpse was close to a sculpture. 
The face still couldn’t be seen. Surrounding the head of the “sculpture” was countless electrodes and an extremely large helmet-like shape. The head of the deceased was accurately placed in the center of the dome. It must have been for the accuracy of the experiment. 
“Who is that?” 
Kaname and Tessa opened their mouths at the same time, asking the question and answering at the same time. 
“The subject 18 years ago. Although I do not know who it is.” 
“Then, why are the remains in this state?” 
“No. The remains perished long ago. What is in here is the remains of her existence. With long months and years, her mind manifested itself in the physical world through this form, the Omni Sphere.” 
It was an icicle-like cave. The power that remained in that space, those molecules were one by one being constructed. 
That was the remains of time. 
That crystal- her remains were the Whisperer. There was nothing there but the power it held, someday- that’s right, in an unknown future, she would be revived. Controlling with greater power. No eternity. 10 years? 100 years? Unknown. An unknown amount of time. 
“Make preparations—” 
From the bag in her hands Tessa took out plastic explosives. Plugging it into the electronic detonator she placed it on the foot of the sculpture. Stretching the cord from the reel she connected it to the firing mechanism. 
“Blow it up?” 
“Yes. I’m going to destroy this place.” 
That was her objective. That sculpture that was emitting psychic waves- That Crystal formed a catalyst. Making the Tau waves reaching from another period convert and transmit the high energy Iota waves. Its effect was Michael Lemon losing his sanity. If it were to be destroyed then Yamsk 11 would be released from its curse. There was no prevention from having the same crystal being brought up again, but it had to be destroyed every time. 
No- 
That itself was a large contradiction, was it not a wasted effort? 
The appearance of the Whisperer couldn’t be stopped. It was eternity. Then- 
There was a voice. 
You fully understand don’t you, my daughter. You’ve finally come. 
It was a familiar voice. From long ago. 
That’s right. I have been waiting for you to come. Even now, I have been calling you many times. And every time you resisted, your ears rejecting my voice. 
But this has been decided. You are here. You can no longer refuse me. 
Receive it. My power. Accept it. My soul. 
If a God exists, then we are that existence. You are the entirety of the three Moirae. Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos. 
There is no longer need to fear. 
Reach out your hand. Open your heart. 
With great joy, hold on to your heart the infinite joy. 
That’s right. We are always like that. Hesitation is a waste of time. 
“Kaname-san!?” Tessa called.  
When she noticed, Kaname was standing in front of the created “sculpture” in the center of TAROS. 
“We’re going to destroy that. Please stand back!” Tessa warned her, gripping the detonator of the explosives. 
“Destroy....?” Kaname mumbled as if in a fever.  
The reverberation inside her cranium sometime ago, somehow, had distinctly vanished. Those déjà vu no longer came. Her field of vision was becoming clear. Like the refreshing feeling of having your nose unclogged. 
“The need to destroy it is no longer.” 
“Eh?” 
Separating from the sculpture, she walked to Tessa’s side. What would she do, she did not know. Pulling on the chest of a perplexed Tessa, she snatched the detonator. The surprised girl stretched and pushed, throwing the detonator. 
“What are you-” 
Quickly snatching the gun hanging on Tessa’s belt, she slapped her cheeks. Grabbing on her collar while staggering, she pulled with all her strength. 
“.....!” 
“Let’s go, Tessa. There’s nothing we need here.” 
The Whisperer behind Kaname built up a sound and broke up into pieces. 
 


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