Clockwork Planet

 
 
 

Clockwork Planet Volume 3 Epilogue


[CLOCKWORK PLANET V3] EPILOGUE – 00:00 – SAVER

Under the moonlight, the sounds of waves echoed quietly.

The place was Grid Ariake–a port city in Tokyo facing the outer sea/

There were port facilities built at the edge surrounding Grid Ariake, spinning in the completely opposite direction to go along with the slowly spinning Grid. In ancient times, this place was called–Odaiba.

The commotion during the day ensured that the port was devoid of people, and at a corner of Odaiba, inside a dock that was like a warehouse.

That was the rendezvous they had agreed to meet at beforehand, and at this moment–

“Aaaaaannnnnnnnnn~~cccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooo——RRRRRR!?”

Naoto’s wail echoed throughout the dock, as though doomsday had arrived.

Hard to blame him however.

Right in front of his eyes was a thoroughly worn out and battered AnchoR, who lost her limbs and was only left with a frame.

Naoto dumped everything he had in his hands, and leaped towards AnchoR, lying down on the large platform.

Marie observed the situation from behind, and even she could not help but turn pale and gasp.

–That was a terrible amount of damage.

No matter how one might try to soften it–that was some ‘heavy damage’.

If it was an ordinary automata, it would certainly be scrapped without mercy. Considering the amount of time and effort to repair this damage, it might be more efficient to build a new one–if it was just an ordinary automata.

Marie glanced at Naoto.

Naoto’s hands were quivering as he touched AnchoR, nodding gently,

“…It’s alright. Really, barely, any fatal wounds on you. I remember everything about your structure, AnchoR, even the wires. I’ll–and Marie…will definitely be able to fix you…haaa…”

“Really…thank goodness?”

Naoto collapsed limply on the floor, and Marie too earnestly heaved a sigh of relief.

And suddenly–Marie realized that she did not have any difficulty dealing with this girl.

Right when she was feeling lost, Naoto lifted his face towards RyuZU,

“…Thanks RyuZU. Thanks for stopping AnchoR.”

RyuZU bowed elegantly, replying,

“As the servant, this is to be expected. Also, this is for the sake of my deluded little sister.”

“I’ll patch you up too, RyuZU…it’s tough being the older sister, isn’t it?”

–In response to Naoto’s words, RyuZU gasped quietly.

RyuZU herself took quite some damage when she entered the ‘Yatsukahagi’ to stop AnchoR–however, the reason why RyuZU was taken aback, was not because Naoto’s ears picked up on that.

–Her exalted Master swore to repair her–for her master’s ‘continued growth’, RyuZU, felt more delighted than the prospect of her being repaired, and again, she bowed.

“…So…rry…”

At that moment, AnchoR, in Naoto’s arms, gave a weak voice.

Upon hearing the interrupted voice filled with noise, Naoto frowned, and Marie too looked down.

Before they could speak, AnchoR continued on,

“An, choR…couldn’t, destroy…even though…An-choR can only do this…”

–To obliterate the enemy, to destroy everything. That was her one reason to exist.

She defied the orders of her Master, Naoto, acted independently, and in the end–could not destroy at all.

Upon seeing this little girl lament with such eyes–Marie had an instinctive thought.

Her instincts however were yelling before her rational mind could: No, that’s the wrong way to think about this…

“…I want…an order…”

The flickering red eyes appeared to be holding in tears as they looked at Naoto and Marie.

Her words and expressions were akin to a perturbed, confused, teary young child, facing a mistake she could not salvage.

What she wanted was not an instruction or an order–but a punishment, a way to make up for her past misdeeds.

One had to wonder if Naoto realized this, but he spoke up,

“Alright, this is an order, AnchoR–”

Naoto told her directly,

“You can lift your head up high–and say ‘I worked hard, I want to be praised’.”

–AnchoR widened her eyes.

Her perturbed red eyes looked on unsteadily at RyuZU.

The latter merely closed her eyes silently, noting that she affirmed Naoto’s words.

The damaged girl was gasping for breath as she muttered,

“…An-choR…worked hard…?”

“Yep! Can’t find a girl more hardworking than you even if I try.”

AnchOR was gasping for breath. And after a pause, those eyes were staring at Marie.

With a trembling voice, she asked,

“…Mama…will you…allow AnchoR…to ask for…praise?”

“–”

At that moment, Marie felt an impulse rising from deep within her heart.

And then, she realized–

–That she was no longer against this girl calling her ‘mama’.

Marie reached out to touch AnchoR on the cheeks, felt the damaged artificial skin, and then, wrapped her arms behind AnchoR’s neck, cradling her like a baby.

Her ears picked up the sound of a heart.

Marie felt disgusted with herself–for actually treating this–no, this child as an ordinary automata, a terrifying weapon of destruction, so nauseatingly disgusted. Such a small child went out to get herself battered all over, willingly, all just to protect them. Also, she did actually protect them–yet looked as though she would be crying at any given moment, wondering if she could be praised.

Was that merely an ordinary automata? Without a heart? Who cared? I’m sick of hearing it, go to hell, damn it.

“Thanks, AnchoR…it’s been tough on you. You–really worked hard.”

Saying that, Marie gave a wry smile, thinking, I really don’t want to admit this–

But for some reason, she was able to understand Naoto–the emotions of that pervert who would propose to an automata.

Just an automata. Just a simulation–if she was to classify everything this way, and stop thinking…

Then humanity, would merely be a simulation machine of protein and biological signals.

If one had to ask if there was a heart–then prove that the heart does exist.”

“…Hiii…aaa…!!”

AnchoR shed a tear while remaining in Marie’s clutches.

Naoto patted AnchoR on the head, and gave the latter a harsh look as he narrowed his eyes,

“Also, AnchoR, you’re sorely mistaken about one thing. I got to give you a little scolding because of this.”

“…Uh…eh?”

“You say that you ‘only know how to destroy. AnchoR, you aren’t that kind of kid.”

Naoto said it so adamantly, and at the same time, AnchoR recalled–

–When I get back, papa will teach me–about myself which I don’t know of–

And as RyuZU said, Naoto stated the answer,

“AnchoR, you’re a smart kid who knows how to protect everyone, bring joy to everyone and have a smile. No matter how strong a girl like you is, that’s not violence–that’s ‘power’.

–Violence and power. It seemed AnchoR did not understand the difference between them, as she blinked.

Upon hearing Naoto’s words, Marie recalled,

“…’Trishula’–the symbol of power belonging to the God of Destruction Shiva. The Trident…”

This memory caused Marie to this. There’s no way Naoto should have any knowledge of such stuff

Despite being ignorant of it, he understood–no, he realized.

“–The characteristics defining the ‘power’ of the God of Destruction are ‘willpower’, ‘knowledge’–and ‘action’. Only by having the three conditions is there the ‘correct power’, and that’s how he became one of the three deities…it’s an ancient Asian myth.”

“So AnchoR–you can use your strength based on your own will, right?”

“Ah…”

AnchoR gasped, and her eyes widened.”

“You’re a kind kid, a smart kid, AnchoR. The power to destroy–is also the power to repair. It’s just like how you need to–‘accurately break things down’ when repairing a clock. That’s not violence. That’s a powerful ability.”

Naoto told AnchoR this with a gentle smile on his face.

“RyuZU did say that too, right? You got to listen to your older sister, you know? AnchoR, you’re an anchor–a force to limit. That’s why ‘Y’ gave you this name, right?”

Hearing this, AnchoR’s eyes flickered, her lips quivering, inadvertently letting out a voice.

Again, she faced Marie, and tentatively asked,

“…AnchoR…isn’t a bad kid? Mama…you aren’t scared, of AnchoR?”

At that moment–Marie felt really ashamed of herself.

She was seen through–the notion was that she was always scared of this girl, always thinking of this automata girl as a weapon, her heart dead set on setting a line between them.

–And so she, Marie, went along with her feelings and kissed AnchoR on the cheek. She then moved her lips onto the eyelids, the reddened cheeks, and then, was unable to hold back her passionate sobbing as she told AnchoR,

“How can I possibly, be scared of you…! AnchoR–”

–…

“Hey Missy, do you know? Even if it’s a movie, those tearful scenes can be rather annoying if dragged on for 10 minutes.”

Hearing that knock, Marie wiped her tears, and angrily turned her head around.

Vermouth poked his head in from the half-ajar door, knocking on the wall.

“Time to get to the next scene, shall we? For example, how the hell do we get out from here, or something?”

“–Of course by cruiser. If you get sick of it, don’t watch it.”

“Oh, like that can do. We just took a stroll in the air, and I was hoping that we’ll get a stroll on the sea! Now then–the upcoming scene will be us leaving the dock leisurely and our cruiser getting holes shot through them, right?”

Vermouth laughed sarcastically–but those eyes of his were absolutely serious.

The fact that the savage terrorists escape was probably known by all.

Leaving aside the land, air and sea routes–no, considering how that massive weapon appeared, it was likely that the deep underground was sealed off too.

If any suspicious cruiser was to casually appear, it would not be strange for it to be shot down without a warning.

But Naoto in turn responded to Vermouth’s doubt,

“Relax. In about–another 46 minutes? There’ll be a random tornado happening in this area. We’re going to charge through ‘that space’ during that time.”

“Oh, that can work. So who came up with the idea?”

“It’s Naoto of course. This is what a madman will come up with.”

“Of course it is, haha! As to be expected of your thinking, brat! I guess I’ll fuc–”

While Vermouth was about to let out a really vulgar joke, he was slapped down by RyuZU’s scythe.

After a moment, the cruiser shutter opened.

A white ocean cruiser drifted in from the sea.

The cruiser was rather large, equipped with a kitchen, cabins, and even a simple workshop.

It docked without a hitch, and two men got off from it.

“…Hah, I guess I’ll stick with being human-shaped after all.”

“Hello, Professor Marie, I was a little late. Sorry to keep you waiting.”

Getting off that cruiser was Halter, now back to his prosthetic self, and Conrad.

Marie went up to greet the duo, answering,

“Don’t say that now, Professor Conrad. You really took care of us here…a lot of things happened, and I nearly belittled you as a result. I might say though that I’m still having issues about it.”

Marie said with her eyes half opened.

However, Conrad seemed to omitted the parts detrimental to him, beaming,

“No no. I did benefit a lot on this job. It really was filled with excitement.”

Marie gave a vague smile, and then, gave Halter and glance, before asking,

“…But I have to say, you really did manage to get a full cyborg body to replace it.”

“Why yes. Because of this commotion, this country was for a moment in a state of no governance. I got quite a few stuff too, you know?”

Conrad noted cheerfully.

–Benefit a lot. That’s probably not just referring to experience or this cyborg–Marie gave a rigid smile. However, she could not let Halter escape while connected to the ‘Black Tortoise’. It really was unspeakable that she was begrudgingly requesting others for help.

“It’s a lot crude compared to the cyborg body from before. Doesn’t feel stable…and the face–I hope there’s a way to change it in the future.”

She said as she caressed Halter’s face, whose body looked entirely different from before.

His current appearance was young and handsome, his physique seemingly thinner because of the difference in muscle gear

The only common point between them was the bald head.

And also, he was wearing sunglasses to go along with his grey suit, the difference so stark it was as though a stranger was impersonating him.

But even so–Marie shrugged,

“Well, any current cyborg build will look crude compared to the 8th generation of the Breguets. We can count ourselves lucky to be able to get a replacement now–and your appearance is exposed. I guess it’s better not to go back to how you look dnow.”

“Are you silly? That’s the face before he’s turned into a cyborg, crafted out bg,

ased on the estimated aging process. You’re just going to give up because he’s a fugitive now? Don’t look now on a nice middle aged man here!”

Halter rubbed his bald head unhappily. Vermouth interrupted from the side.

“And speaking of which, I…don’t get one of those bodies? I’m thinking of going back to be a guy now.”

“How about you remain like that for the rest of your life?”

“Hey bitch–this thing’s not even a cyborg! Aren’t you just scaring me now!”

Vermouth yelled back, but suddenly, he noticed his crotch, saying,

“–But to be honest, I’m very concerned about this baby at my crotch. In times of emergency, the foreskin.”

“Relax Vermouth! I’ll get you some really ugly cyborg onto it! I suddenly remember that there’s something really filthy in front of me!”

Marie looked delighted–and appeared to be ready to modify all over Vermouth’s body. The latter looked away, and scanned his surroundings.

“Hm–well, since we’re all clear on the escape cruiser and our methods, can I ask one last thing–?”

Saying that, Vermouth turned to look at one corner of the dock.

With him leading on, everyone present turned to look at an old man, who had been placed aside.

–Gennai Hirayama, the ‘real’ mastermind–behind this entire sequence of events. His severed arm was crudely treated, and he was not tied up merely seated quiet on the chair.

“…I say, Missy, why is this old man over here?”

Vermouth and Halter both gave some really inorganic killing intent. But–

“Eh? I said we can cook him in the pot, you know? But we can use a drum nearby–”

Naoto said as he looked around. Marie ignored him, answering,

“I requested RyuZU this before the operation. I wanted to capture the mastermind alive if possible–”

Upon hearing this, Halter slapped his own forehead.

He looked down at the girl who was in her teens, saying,

“…I’ll tell you, Missy, it’s normal to have your conscience pricked when you kill, but there’ll be trouble if you keep this guy alive. Do you understand?”

Right–if they wanted to create an ‘evil’ that all belonged to a ‘single criminal cell’, it would be trouble for them to leave witnesses. Luckily–though Marie had no intention of looking so optimistic, but except for Gennai, all of the old Shiga ‘military’ were murdered.

In that case–

“Kill this guy, and everything will end. Do you want me to handle this for you? I’m as used to eliminating anyone and disposing his corpse as I am to drink a cup of tea. Give me ten minutes, and I’ll choose 6 different methods of death for you, from a quick one to the most torturous one, you know?”

…So these are ‘veterans’ on the battlefield’? Marie watched the two men give a frosty atmosphere, and sighed,

“…I’ll say that it’s a lie if I say that I’m so completely against burning him–”

Saying that, Marie gave Naoto a stern glare.

Naoto, who was half-heartedly–no, dead serious on looking around for a drum, sensed that look, and turned around,

“…Alright, if you want me to say something serious, I’ll say it–”

Naoto paused.

“FIrst, even if this old man is left alive, I guess it’s fine. Or I’ll say–he’ll end up killed anyway.”

Upon hearing this, Marie showed a skeptical look.

On the other hand, Halter, Vermouth, Conrad and RyuZU all looked enlightened.

“–I see. That is really the case.”

“If there’s news that there are survivors of the Shiga ‘military’ involved in the coup d’etat, we won’t be the only ones in trouble.”

“No matter the testimony, he will be deemed as one of us, and the verdict will end up being a death penalty for him.”

“It probably will save us all some time to silence (assassinate) him. Certainly, there will not be any issue.”

Upon hearing the trio of men, a machine, and Naoto who did not seem to say anything, Marie’s face tensed.

–Why are these guys always coming up with such foul-hearted thoughts right from the beginning?

Naoto continued to insist.

“If I have to state another reason–this old man seemed to be aiming for me alone, that’s one. If I left him alone, it’ll be like letting AnchoR and RyuZU kill someone, and I’m pissed about that, so that’s too. And if I have to say a third reason–”

Naoto looked down at the old man who remained seated, saying,

“I think there’s ‘someone else’ behind this old man”

–What…?

Right when the group was frowning away, Halter asked, voicing the thoughts of everyone else present.

“It’s true that there’s a lot of things I don’t get–but the basis of that is?”

“Eh, well…someone who really hates ‘Y’ until his head is off–won’t deliberately make use of ‘Y’s inheritance that is AnchoR, right? Also, there’s none of the electromagnetic technology he’s so proud of.”

Upon hearing this, everyone gasped.

Marie, and even Halter and Vermouth, ‘war-hardened’ men, missed out on this fact.

Assuming that AnchoR was at full power, it was easy for her to destroy the ‘Yatsukahagi’–that would be the most ironic thing to this man’s actions, no?

Gennai took these stares, and lifted his head.

His face, including white hair and beard, was as pale as paper, only the metallic-colored eyes were filled with malicely, blazing with moisture.

“–Ahh, impressive.”

His voice was aloof, and hoarse.

“How impressive you are until the very end, ‘Y’–damned God.”

Naoto exhaled in annoyance.

“Aren’t you done with talking…I have a name, and it’s called Naoto Miura. Did you just create a ruckus because your dementia rocked your bonkers or something?”

“It’s impressive that he’s trying to destroy the world because of his dementia.”

Marie sarcastically noted with her eyes half opened. And then, she looked down at Gennai, asking,

“…You kept calling Naoto ‘Y’. For what reason?”

Hearing Marie’s doubt, Gennai slowly lifted his face.

In the face of those ominous grey metallic eyes looking up at her, Marie inadvertently backed off.

“–Marie Bell Breguet. The young genius of a clockwork technician. Pearl of the Breguet family–I really am disappointed that you do not understand.”

“What…?”

Marie muttered, and Gennai looked away from her.

He then looked at the faces of Halter, Vermouth and Conrad in order, saying,

“…You probably should have made contact with ‘Y’. I suppose that you aren’t so dull-witted to not have any thoughts after seeing such magic, such irrationality.”

Finally, he met Naoto in the eyes, concluding,

“–This body is not human.”

“No no, seriously, what is this old man saying now?”

Naoto quickly retorted, but Gennai ignored him, continuing,

“–You probably saw it. This boy easily contorted and remodified the world. Do you really believe…that the one able to do such a thing is just an ordinary human, an ordinary technician?”

Marie gasped.

Halter, Vermouth and Conrad too scowled. Having witnessed that work that surpassed the realm of God, it really was impossible for them to dismiss the old man’s words as nonsense.

“And to me, this Clockwork Planet is full of doubts. It’s impossible for humans to recreate the world using gears…!”

Gennai remained seated on the chair, his voice husky as he continued,

“An impossible existence, an impossible technology. We aren’t sure if this world truly exist. In this situation, I think there’s a need to let ‘Y’ understand such despair and the limits of humanity–I’ll say that this is the motive.”

Saying that, Gennai leaned on the back of the chair.

He looked down, and looked at the right arm he lost.

“…I may have lost…but does this mean ordinary humans aren’t able to defy God? If you want to kill me, do so. This world is ultimately an illusion, just a created illusion created by that arrogant God who called himself human…I have no regret.”

Gennai calmly prompted.

His voice and tone was cold, weary, and thoroughly defeated.

“–”

If it had been, Marie thought.

If it had been a few days ago–when Akihabara was hit by the electromagnetic pulse, causing everything to spoil, perhaps she would have agreed with this old man’s words.

That despair, that feeling of mistrust, that impression that the whole world was merely an illusion, if back then–

–No, but now she understood.

That was not an illusion.

And with such belief and understanding, she spoke,

“–Stop joking around.”

Her words, more forceful and convicted than her voice, let slip.

Gennai lifted his face, his gloomy grey eyes filled with defiance as he glared at Marie.

But Marie did not back down.

–The world was certainly covered by an ‘illusion’.

Once this layer of illusion was peeled off the Earth, what was left would be–this ‘Clockwork Planet’.

Naoto Miura merely heard the sounds of the world after having peeled off the layers.

The present Marie understood this really well.

–The world allowed for paradoxes.

Common sense, existing concepts, current theories–those things were merely ‘illusions’ layered over the world.

To humanity at least, the universe was an epoch, physics was merely a cripple.

By changing viewpoints, RyuZU’s ‘Imaginary Gear’ and AnchoR’s ‘Perpetual Gear’ would exist without paradox, and there would be no doubt to them.

Back then, the world Marie saw–what Naoto showed by peeling off the layer of illusion from the world–everything was merely ‘nature’.

This world was an illusion, and yet at the same time, truly existed–it certainly was not some convenient spell.

Even the current gear technology, which Marie assumed to be wrong, was not a ‘completely different thing’ from the knowledge she possessed.

The difference was so miniscule, some minor things that appeared like an illusion–

–And because of this, Marie concluded. She was able to conclude.

The amazing thing was that the words she said were the same as the words Gennai heard.

“It’s up to you if you want to admit defeat and grumble over here. It’s your choice to think what you want, but–”

Hearing these words, Gennai’s eyes were widened to the limit.

Marie let out a sharp presence as she glared at the dull grey, metallic eyes, saying,

“You’re being too arrogant in your subjective words–who allowed you to speak for ‘humanity’!?”

And so,

“Don’t group us along with you. We haven’t despaired. We are different from you.”

The emerald eyes were burning with tranquil flames.

“Don’t you dare define our limits as human when you gave up yourself.”

Marie declared.

She knew that Naoto beside her was snickering away.

Gennai stared back grimly with a look of realization, lamenting,

“…I see. So there are two of ‘Y’.”

His lips were contorted into a sneering expression as he said this to Naoto and Marie.

“No matter how you two continue to exalt humanity, I will not agree with that–it is human nature to reach its limit. If you don’t learn and understand this before manipulating the ways of the world, how can you possibly call yourselves humans?”

Gennai’s eyes remained dull as he stared at their faces.

“No matter how unscrupulous we are, no matter how much we have to dirty ourselves, we’re going to repeat our failures over and over and over again with our ugly faces covered in dirt, harping over our minor victories; that is ‘humanity’–it’s the same even if we aren’t the ones winning.”

Saying this, Gennai paused.

“Yes, for example–that man is a perfect example of one.”

At that moment–

Within the dock, where only their talking voices could be heard, there was loud noises.

“What’s going on–!?”

The crowd looked around in shock, and then immediately understood the reason.

The resonance communicator in the dock activated on its own.

–Someone hacked in from the outside.

And before anyone could move, the channel was connected.

“Hahaha–I suppose that will refer to me? Mr Gennai–“

–Who’s that?

The voice of a man coming from the communicator caused everyone present to have the same doubt.

No, Gennai was the only one sneering away, staring at the communicator without a word.

Seeing Gennai’s reaction, Marie had a hypothesis.

But before she could say it, the voice announced the answer,

“Ah, as for who I am–you’ll understand if I say ‘mastermind’, right?”

“–!!”

Marie nearly shouted out loud.

The mastermind–the one inciting Gennai from behind, as Naoto hinted.

But it was unexpected that the other party would contact them like this.

And while they were unable to hide their surprise, he continued on nonchalantly,

“Oh, right! Before you show any shock, mind opening the window first?”

“…Window?”

Halter responded skeptically.

“It’s not a trap at all. Now then, hurry up. You’re going to miss it!”

His inscrutable, jovial voice–filled with malice, prompted them.

…There was a limit to how suspicious it could be.

Having realized that, both Marie and Naoto however exchanged glances–and nodded. Marie then quickly turned to open the rusted and sealed window lock, opening the window.

The seawater-flavored breeze grazed her cheeks. However–

“Don’t see anything…”

Right when Marie muttered this–

–A boom shook through the night sky, echoing.

Marie was nearly knocked down by this tremendous book, and in her panic, leaned out of the window to look up at the sky.

The source of the boom–was something that broke through the sound barrier

Marie’s eyes were fixed upon the machine that flew towards the sky.

–A tactical fighter jet?

There was a battalion of more than 20 units, flying towards the other end of the cloudless night sky, vanishing,

Where are they going…no, more importantly–there are weapons and machines I don’t know of?

The moment Marie had this doubt, the mastermind answered,

“So how about it? Did you see it? –Those things that just flew by were the latest products of the Vacherons!”

“What…Vacherons…!?”

Marie turned her head from the window, letting out a terrified shriek. At the next moment–

–A flash turned the night completely white.

And a few seconds later, an ‘explosion noise’ incomparable to before rocked the atmosphere, sea and city.

The mastermind then squealed in delight over the communicator,

“Why yes–they predicted such a situation prepared an anti-electromagnetic weapon–and that’s one of them! That enemy is the half-destroyed ‘Yatsukahagi’, but nobody else knows of this fact other than you guys!”

Through those words, Marie understood.

In other words, the explosion from before–was that massive weapon getting crushed by the Vacheron weapons.

“This is the greatest exhibition of them all! Thank you for your assistance–eh? What you say?”

The voice from the communicator stopped, and then, followed up with some malicious laughter.

“Haha, I really want to thank you again. I’m hearing that at this moment, all the countries are coming in now!”

“You..!”

Marie hissed with a vengeful look.

At this time, with the threat of electromagnetic weapons clear for all to see, that they dealt with it–

The objective was obvious.

The declining fame of the Vacherons would rise accordingly…

With Japan trying to clean up the mess that was the situation, they could not stop the Enterprises from interfering..

But that meant–

“You guys–were aiming for that right from the beginning, right!?”

Marie shouted, quivering away as she was unable to express her rage.

Anti-electromagnetic weapon? There was no way they could have developed it and completed it on this day.

Something they prepared just in case? What a joke–they prepared it ‘just for this thing’!

This group of people were secretly controlling the politics, creating crisis, and intended to end matters as it was. The anti-electromagnetic weapons were for this purpose!

They merely did it–to promote their own products…!

However, the mastermind let out muffled laugh, his voice answering Marie’s growl,

“Hahaha, how is that possible!? I really will like to thank you for thinking so highly of us, but I can’t see the future. This is merely one of the good predicted outcomes being used for all its worth–however…”

He paused.

“Even if I can’t see the future, your actions are still within my control, you know? Hahaha–!!”

–This guy…,

Marie was extremely agitated, her body increasingly chilly–her fists shivering due to fear.

What they did–even that kind of miracle was capitalized for something.

However, with a sharp glare at the communicator, Naoto said,

“Stop spouting that obvious ‘lie’ with that disgustingly mysterious voice, old man.”

“Oh–?”

…A lie? Marie turned towards Naoto, who continued,

“How’s it possible for you to say that everything we did–was all within your expectations? If us snatching AnchoR is part of your expectations, aren’t you being too kind here?”

–That’s true. Marie gulped.

She was nearly bluffed by this mastermind’s facade.

Naoto was right. Since this man sent AnchoR to protect Gennai and the others, given that they knew about that ridiculous fighting ability, was there any reason to give her up?

“I suppose you wanted to sink the capital, start a war, and strike big money–? No…”

Naoto noted, and turned his head around. Marie recalled what she heard in Kyoto a few weeks ago. She interrogated a certain military Technical Force member, who yelled,

–“You guys caused that incident in Amsterdam 2 years ago, right!?”–

The rumors of deliberately destroying a Core Tower to analyze the technology–was that…

Halter sighed as he muttered from the side,

“…I see. If the Coup d’etat did succeed, you could raise your prestige as a supporter. If it failed, you can promote weapons used to fight against that electromagnetic weapon. If it worked, the Capital will fall, and you’ll analyse the technology and start wars, selling weapons and letting your business prosper–such typical scumbags.”

“Hahaha, it’s an honor to be praised by you. Or that is what I should be saying, no?”

Halter’s curses were replied with mocking from the other side, and Marie was dumbfounded.

…What’s going on? What kind of mindset allowed him to do such a lowlife thing?”

Who exactly–at that moment, Marie followed her instincts, and yelled,

“You’re–not of Vacheron, right–who are you!?”

The logic followed up a tad later, and she yelled.

This man who called himself the mastermind sounded as though he belonged to the Vacherons–but it was impossible.

The Five Enterprises truly had a tremendous influence.

Normally, on this planet that run on clockwork technology, and since the clockwork technology was the pulse, the 5 Enterprises, who controlled the technology and had the authority, had power that exceeded that of the ISS. However, there were only a few people who could carry out such plans–in two ways.

First, it had to be someone of the position equivalent to the leaders of the 5 Enterprises, and–

Second, that person would never consider the risk of such matters being exposed–madness.

At the very least, even the Vacherons could not come up with a conspiracy to sink a city, analyze the technology, and incite wars.

Even if they did tolerate such evil–this really was not something an Enterprise would give the go sign for, considering the risk they would take if their objectives were exposed.

However, the one who called himself a mastermind answered Marie’s question with a mocking tone,

“Hahaha–who am I? I never thought of this question before. Besides, I hardly had the chance to introduce myself.”

The mastermind cheerfully noted.

And then, before Marie could growl, the mastermind asked,

“Speaking of which, I do want to ask–do you know what the outside world calls you? 12 hours after footage of you dominating the Palace was leaked, and now there’s nobody on Earth who doesn’t know about you–“

He then continued with a chuckle,

“–The ‘Second Upsilon, said to be the second coming of ‘Y’! Everyone said that ‘Y’ in the past came to save the world, but this time, he showed up to destroy–! Oh, such a cool name! A nameless person like me is really jealous of it!”

However, He then switched to a peaceful tone, continuing,

“–‘Y’ will ‘never surpass X’–don’t you think that it’s a relic of the past? That’s why I shall name myself with a cooler name–“

Saying that, the mastermind paused,

And he declared,

“–I’m ‘Ω’. Of the same line of business as you, the real deal of course..”

…Marie remembered that name to heart–Omega. That probably was a name he randomly thought of, but it did not matter.

For her soul was telling her that this was the enemy they had to defeat.

The mastermind ignored Marie’s determination as he continued to play dumb, saying,

“But you can just take the old fashioned route and think of us as the ‘evil organization’. And just to add, it’s a pity that Unit 04 was stolen, but it’s just a weapon after all. Since we know that it’s ‘something that is tagged ‘perpetual’ but ultimately able to be destroyed, I lost interest in it. If you don’t mind such an ancient scrap, you can take it all you want! Hahaha–!!”

While the man who called himself Omega continued to laugh out loud, his voice filled with pure evil–

“–Shut that annoying mouth of yours, damned bastard!”

Naoto agitatedly raised his voice to shout.

And for some reason, he glared at the ceiling, howling,

“–Stop hiding at such a place yapping away. Come down and say the same thing to me face to face if you dare! I’m going to punch your face in!!”

–After an instance

“Haha–“

Omega laughed. The laughter was so sudden, so shrill,

“–Haha, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA–!!”

That mad laughter dragged on, and Omega chimed in,

“I really couldn’t believe it until I confirmed it myself. I see that you really can ‘hear anything’, young Naoto! This is the only way to explain everything, but I never thought such a ‘power’ really exists–oh my, the world is so interesting, isn’t it, young Naoto!?”

And in response to Omega’s words, Marie thought “this is bad”, and regretted it all.

The reason why this man contacted them and rattled on for so long–

Was to affirm–their ‘trump card’ Naoto’s ability!

Omega continued cheerfully,

“I do apologize for saying something overboard, young Naoto. I really do have a lot of interest in you, and you’re the one I want to analyze more than the ‘Heaven’s Pillar’. As an apology–to be honest, the analysis of the ‘Perpetual Gear’ is incomplete, and I really couldn’t bring myself to give up on Unit 04, so I shall leave it to you. Sorry to taunt you.”

“Like hell it is! AnchoR had always been mine. Go die already!”

“Naoto! Why are you…!”

Marie growled. Even if it was out of defiance, they lost out by revealing their ‘trump card’. However–

“…The hatch’s closed.”

“Eh…?”

These sudden words from Naoto caused Marie to shut up.

Naoto continued to give a hostile glare at the ceiling, saying,

“…There’s a massive stealth bomb around 20,000m tall. If it’s a bomb, RyuZU’s functions can handle it. But I just heard the sound of the resonance cannon AnchoR used before.”

Hearing those words, Marie widened her eyes,

“–Resonance Cannon? How is it possible to have a Resonance Cannon with more than 20,000m range!?”

That range was beyond three times that of the realistic–no, theoretical limit. However–

“So it’s something similar to a Resonance Cannon? I can conclude that it’s the other voice of that guy.”

Saying this, Naoto took a breath, and continued looking up into the sky with disgust, saying,

“Guess where I am. If you get it correct, I’ll spare you. If you get it wrong, I’ll kill you”–that’s how it is.”

The significance of those words caused Marie to be so startled she was short of breath.

It was ridiculous–Marie swallowed back what she nearly blurted out without thinking.

No matter how ridiculous it was, how unbelievable it was–if Naoto said so, that had to be the case.

And thus, if that was the case, in other words, they just–

Nearly got killed at the last moment–and ‘remained alive because they were spared’.

That probably was because it was–‘more beneficial to them’.

For it would not be a handicap to keep them alive–and at the same time, they could be used.

A mocking sneer rang from the communicator, seemingly awaiting Marie to make this conclusion,

“–Splendid, correct answer. As expected of you, young Naoto!”

“Y-you dare look down on us…!”

Marie’s eyebrows were raised, her voice quivering in anger. The unbearable shame caused the blood to rush up her head.

When was the last time she was toyed so brazenly like this

It seemed the mastermind even thought of Marie’s anger as some form of entertainment as he continued,

“And thanks to you, I’m able to move more easily than ever! My dear international terrorist cell Second Upsilon, please continued to put on a show and let me continue to lie low–but young Naoto Miura, there are two misunderstandings I’ll like to correct you on, you know?”

A pause.

“Unit 04 being snatched away was really within expectations, actually. It would be impossible to explain the prevention of Kyoto’s collapse without some form of magic, so I chose the premier ‘bait’–haha, glad that you like it. It really is a precious chip, but an investment worth making!”

Hearing those words, Marie felt a chill up her spine.

That indicated–

That the enemy–really was aiming for Naoto, and lured him in.

When did it start–when did they really start planning, and to what extent?

“And secondly–I’ll spare you if you’re correct, kill you if you’re wrong…well, that’s the correct answer–“

But because of the following words, the chill became a definite fear of death.

“–Except for the one who got it correct, young Naoto, everyone else can die, you know?”

“–Get down–!!”

Naoto screamed.

Marie did so without thinking. She saw, within her flowing vision that Halter, Conrad and Vermouth did the same.

The ones who did not do so was RyuZU, preparing to fight–and the sneering Gennai.

And Gennai’s head–exploded.

“–!”

The blood and brains exploded, the smell of rust filled the place.

After a beat, another gunshot could be heard.

…We’re sniped!

Marie gritted her teeth, and Naoto showed an anxious look as he turned around.

This isn’t good.She thought. The second shot–

“……?”

The second shot isn’t coming–?

On the rooftop of a tall building, where all of the port facilities in Grid Ariake could be seen clearly,

“Hah…never thought I’ll be able to stay alive. I guess my luck does come in handy somewhere…though this is definitely work beyond my pay.”

Karasawa joked, and easily spun the tool that was stabbed in.

A clank, the sound of intricate parts breaking.

Following that was gears spinning and missing, and the machine the size of a bicycle stopped.

THis machine was equipped with a black cowl and a long barrel, giving off a vague presence of violence.

–A sniping machine used for assassination.

Karasawa stabbed a tool through the thin armor to destroy the AI, sighed, and grumbled as he muttered,

“…I should say that this is work beyond that of my salary…well, I’ll just think of it as interest for the ‘favor’ I once had. Looks like Professor Marie is safe now…ugh!”

He groaned softly, and held down his flank.

The crimson blood dripped between the gaps of his fingers.

“…This really is…will the insurance pay for this if I apply for work hazard…I guess not at all, haha–my workplace is too dark for anyone to stay in.”

He managed to fight off the assassin, but was not able to remain unscathed.

His right wrist, coupled with some of his ribs, were fractured, and he took two shots to his abdomen.

He estimated that, having sustained such severe injuries, it would take him a month to fully recover.

His injuries were not serious enough to warrant becoming a cyborg…but his life would be at risk if he did not seek treatment early.

Karasawa’s breathing was increasingly erratic given that he took such a severe injury.

“Got to think…where do I go next…”

This time, he really knew of something he should not have.

He managed to fight back against an assassin, but the same luck probably would not happen too often.

He had to quickly hide his existence–or he would require a certain person’s protection.

For the time being, his only hope was…yes, look for the Princess? His experience in the ‘Meister Guild’ was that working in a field with a pretty, capable woman would be a cheerful one.

“Professor Marie…I guess she should be fine. I’m just a third rate character compared to them. They’ll figure out a way to escape–woah, that’s close.”

Karasawa dragged back his nearly faded consciousness, and chuckled.

Then, he swallowed back the glob of blood rising up his throat.

“Ahh damn it, it’s a heavy wound after all…before switching jobs, the nearest backalley doctor…”

Karasawa dragged his wounded body as he vanished in the darkness of Tokyo.

The sun was about to be submerged on the other end of the horizon.

And on the sea dyed red by the sunset, Marie laid on the chair on the deck.

The temperature was warm, the the sea breeze blowing from time to time very comforting.

She looked up through her sunglasses, and within the hue in the sky was the shadow of the ‘Equatorial Spring’ stretched across.

She tilted her neck slightly to the side, and found a man by the side of the cruiser, fishing.

While the man continued to turn his back on her, Marie called out,

“Halter, mind getting me some juice?”

“Sure, orange is fine, right?”

Marie nodded. Halter proceeded to take out a can of orange juice from the ice bucket beside him without looking, and threw it to the bag.

The juice can flew in an arc, and Marie caught it in mid-air, before proceeding to pull the ring.

It let out a relaxing fizzy sound.

She enjoyed the icy, sweet juice as she switched on the resonance radio placed on the side table.

The speakers aired some news report along with static.

“–We shall now report on the ‘February 8 incident’. On the 10th of February, the criminal group–commonly known as ‘Second Upsilon’, attacked the Palace, took Princess Houko Hoshinomiya hostage and occupied the ‘Heaven’s Pillar’. Currently, their whereabouts remained unknown. Also, it was determined that the huge weapon used for this terrorist attack might have used electromagnetic technology. Countries around the world have began action in purchasing the latest anti-electromagnetic weapons from the Vacherons…”

Marie heard the report by the female anchorwoman, and snorted unhappily.

“So everything went according to that damned mastermind’s plans…”

“Not only that. Now every country has technology to fight electromagnetism–this basically means that they all start to doubt that the others have electromagnetic weapons.”

Halter’s back remained turned on Marie as he continued,

“It’s fine now, but once the commotion calms down, there’ll probably be something else that will trigger. If another conflict happens, those guys are going to earn money again.”

Hearing those words, Marie let out a gloomy sigh, and switched the radio channel.

The program on another channel was airing commentary.

“–In other words, I think it was Princess Houko’s brave actions that caused the terrorist attack to fail. If the ‘Second Upsilon’ did not hastily attack the ‘Heaven’s Pillar’, Grid Akihabara would not have lost control that led to the large weapon’s destruction.”

“–Speaking of Princess Houko, it was said that after the ‘military’ assault squad went in to save her, she commanded them and got down to resolve the situation…”

“–Yes, correct. Not everyone knows however that Princess Houko did obtain the license of a Gazelle when she went to Europe for studies. It can be said that because of the Princess’ command of the Royal Technical Force that they quickly dealt with the emergency, and that the damaged ‘Heaven’s Pillar’ could barely remain functional.”

Halter spoke with an optimistic tone.

“That Princess sounds as though she’s still doing well, I guess?”

“I guess. She’s already suited to be a leader, if not because of her position.”

Marie nodded, and recalled the report she heard in the afternoon.

–It was said that the damaged ‘Heaven’s Pillar’ was to be investigated and repaired by the “Guild’. Also, all repair works in the Capital Circle has begun smoothly under the support of the other countries.

And so, Houko, who was saved, was treated as a hero who saved her country. The government completely lost the support of its people because of this incident, and one could imagine Houko having a huge influence on it.

Marie felt perked up once she knew her good friend would have a bright future in store for her, and continued,

“And that’s quite some good acting…when she was interviewed, she dismissed this good friend in me as ‘an egoist who acts on personal benefit, an arrogant person she cannot agree with’.”

“.–Most of it is probably true.”

The retort from above caused Marie to immediately feel dejected.

Marie lazily got up, and turned around, saying,

“I’m so dejected now that you’re saying it, and my killing intent is coming out now–oh main culprit Naoto?”

She turned her head towards Naoto, dressed lazily in a Hawaiian shirt to go with shorts and slippers–looked completely lethargic as he stood there.

Beside him was RyuZu, in a dress as usual, standing by as though she was an outsider.

And then–

“Ah, AnchoR! You’re finally okay!?”

Marie saw the girl, AnchoR walk out from the cabin, and eased her expression as she greeted the girl.

“Ah, mama…”

AnchoR slowly approached her, smiling back.

Her body once lost its limbs, and even its frame was severely damaged. There were limbs attached to her for the time being.

…As expected Marie thought.

AnchoR was basically severely damaged to begin with.

Furthermore, the spare parts used on her body were unique, each of them different from the usual kind—it was impossible for this escaping yacht to have materials that could repair AnchoR.

Thus, AnchoR was attached to a prosthetic for automata, the parts obtained when Marie broke down the ‘Black Tortoise’ Halter was attached to and extracted them.

However, unlike RyuZU, whom Marie had broken down a few times and remembered the blueprint, only Naoto knew of AnchoR’s structure.

He attached the ‘prosthetics’ and repaired the sensors to the bare minimum possible where she could walk–but Naoto practically spent half a month in the cabin doing this job.

No matter how naoto tried to handle it–it seemed AnchoR was still unfamiliar with her limbs, her movements seemingly rigid.

Marie curled her lips, saying,

“–So slow. How long were you going to keep me waiting?”

“You got to be kidding…I can’t bring myself to do this emergency measure when it can’t even be considered a repair.”

–Yes. That was not a repair–it was merely an ‘incomplete’ procedure.

If it was Naoto of the past, even if he wanted to, there was no way he could accomplish this job.

In the past, even if he could repair it to the ‘perfect stage’, there was no way he could skillfully adapt to using replacements as a placeholder.

–To be honest. Marie thought.

She had no idea as to why those limbs could move after they were connected.

Marie did prepare a theoretically perfect replacement. That was something she dared to conclude.

However, the important thing was AnchoR herself, for the nano gears to the faux nerves were all contorted and melted due to the high temperature. There was nothing within her that was normal. Furthermore, she took damage from the shots by Gennai, but even without that, it would be extremely difficult to repair her.

However, Naoto himself tried all the methods, and adjusted the contortions.

Marie’s vision inadvertently darkened when she found the Main Cylinder on the collarbone to be damaged, but Naoto was able to repair that part beautifully with intricate actions.

Of course, it took a lot of time. Even with Naoto’s ears and newly learned technical skills, it took him half a month.

But normally speaking, that was a process that could possibly take years–

No, to be honest, that was a ‘is it even possible’ thing…?

Furthermore, they were not in a workshop with the latest equipment available.

It was merely done in a ‘work zone’ that was randomly added to this yacht that was casually swaying on the waves, not even a workshop.

Even Marie had no confidence that she could achieve the same level of results under the same environment and the same time–for now.

However, she quietly decided–that sooner or later, she would catch up.

And so, Marie stood up from the deck chair, ran towards AnchoR who was slowly walking over, and gently led her to walk.

The petite body was dressed in a white Smock Blouse.

Marie pinched the surface of the clothes, and Naoto warned,

“Ah, wait! Just to tell you, don’t take off those clothes! The artificial skin–”

“Don’t lump me along with you, you pervert–come here, AnchoR. The wind here’s very nice. Come rest with mama, okay?”

“Hm, okay…”

AnchoR smiled and nodded, and Marie carried her by the shoulder, leading her towards the deck chair.

…Since half a month back.

Marie’s attitude towards AnchoR was that of being so doting, so lovestruck.

But in contrast–

“Hey–wait, hey! Why are you kidnapping my kid!?’

“Eh?”

Naoto suddenly protested loudly, and Marie gave a condescending look, saying,

“How can I possibly hand AnchoR to a pervert like you? I’ll teach this child on how to become an outstanding lady.”

“What right do you have to call yourself a lady! Leaving AnchoR to you will only create a new landmine of a girl. You got to be kidding me!!”

“Leaving her to you and RyuZU will turn her into a new pervert. Think about it calmly and choose which one you prefer.”

“Thinking about it, one more of you is going to cause damage to the world! Uwaahhh!! But I don’t want a future where AnchoR turns out like that!”

Naoto cupped his head in agony as he said this.

Marie ignored Naoto and she sat down on the deck chair, and had AnchoR on her thighs.

Realizing this, Naoto turned to RyuZU beside him and complained,

“Ryu—-ZU!! Marie just stole my rights as a the parent! What’s with the law!? Why is she the one gaining custody here!!”

RyuZU shot Naoto an icy glare as she responded,

“Pardon my honesty, Master Naoto, but even if the universe does topple over, there is no way Master Marie can be your wife.”

“Woaaahhh!! Right–! My bride is RyuZU! Eh, ah! Then this doesn’t make any sense! On what basis is she claiming custody here!”

“Allow me to repeat myself, master Naoto. Are you unhappy with me about anything?”

“—-No, wait, wait a second, RyuZU. Why does it seem like you’re on Marie’s side?’

Naoto yelled, and RyuZU seemed to ponder for a while, before shaking her head, saying,

“–That certainly is not the case. However, rather than crossing swords with my little sister over my beloved Master, I might as well–I did think of it before, so since this can be settled without that much ruckus, perhaps this scenario might work.

“Eh, that’s a completely different matter!? Why are we talking about different issues now!? A-AnchoR! Who do you think is better, me or that landmine!?”

While Naoto tossed out this question in his doubt, Marie again asked,

“It’s me right? Isn’t it, AnchoR?”

“—-fueeh…”

AnchoR, stuck between Naoto and Marie, gave a conflicted look.

And Halter, unable to watch on anymore, interrupted,

“Hey, enough already…you two are the worst examples of parents by asking a kid whether she likes papa or mama.”

“”Who’s papa and mama here!?””

Both of them shrieked in unison.

AnchoR kept that look of dilemma on her face as she spoke up hesitantly,

“…I like, papa…”

“Oh yesssh–!”

“Wha–”

Naoto gave a victory poe, and Marie looked dumbfounded.

However–

AnchoR continued on with a carefree smile,

“…But I also like mama, who’s always with papa…”

“”–“”

“Papa’s amazing, and mama’s smiling with amazing papa…AnchoR likes that mama.”

……

After a long silence, Naoto lifted his face adamantly, saying,

“–Right, let’s decide on who’s a better fit with AnchoR.”

“…Heh?”

“The one who can repair both AnchoR and RyuZU completely will have custody. You got a problem!?”

Hearing that, Marie gave a relaxed sneer,

“Didn’t you forget, young Naoto? The parts AnchoR use–no, same goes for RyuZU. Both of them have parts beyond normal specifications! Are you able to get materials of equivalent parts without my influence and connections!?”

“Ha! –I’ll think of a way to get it. So, tell me what I need to do!”

Fufu Marie snorted gleefully.

“You need a nanoparts branch on the level of the International Technical Research Center. The Breguets have it, and at my house, I have parts for RyuZU–all the spare parts made from the nanoparts…on my word go…I’ll–ah!”

Marie’s confident look froze for an instant.

“Damn it–I don’t have AnchoR’s parts! Ugh…in that case, I can only attack my old house’s ‘factory’…!”

Marie bit her fingernails and growled, and this time, Naoto was giggling away, spiting her,

“Now it’s equal opportunity for us! Next destination decided! We’re going to attack Marie’s house–no, wait. Why do we have to?”

Naoto tilted his head in confusion, and Marie said in a dumbfounded manner,

“Do you think I can go back to my old house and say, ‘sorry, I’m an international fugitive now, please let me use my family resources’, and my house will say ‘of course’? You think my dad’s an idiot!? It’ll be a big hit to the Breguets if he’s suspected to be involved with an international terrorist group. I can see me shooting at me once he sees me, you know!? That’s why we’re going to start attacking them! And while we’re at it, let’s start a fight with another Enterprise for no reason at all to make it look like it’s without bias…ahh, now that it’s a rare chance, let’s go hit the Vacherons–just to tear them up.”

Naoto nodded in agreement. He clenched his fist, giving a thumbs up.

“Alright, that’s it. We’re doing this! AnchoR, watch papa be a hero out there.”

“Please wait and watch mama show off her dignity to this useless bum, AnchoR♪”

“…? …Okay!”

AnchoR did not understand what was going on at all–

But it appeared the duo was delighted, so she nodded and smiled.

Halter slapped his forehead, and told them,

“More importantly, you you two…if we’re going to ride this broken boat to France, at least figure out where we are right now…? If possible, look behind us.”

Hearing that, Marie sighed in annoyance.

She continued to embrace AnchoR on the shoulders, stroking the latter’s hair, and asked Halter,

“What…? Again? They’re annoying…where are the pursuers from this time?”

Half a month passed, and it was the third time they were attacked.

They managed to fight them off, but if this kept up, it was going to get annoying.

While Marie nonchalantly asked, Halter gave a proper answer,

“Who knows…right now, we’re in the Bengal Bay. Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh–where exactly?”

Your choice, Halter’s words were basically implying this, and Marie turned to look behind.

She saw a high speed pursuit boat on the other end, and miniature boat automata headed straight for this cruiser. It appeared that they were faster, and were going to catch up soon.”

“–That’s the Thai coastal police, you know? I was under pursuit before, so I know.”

Vermouth poked his head out from the deck terrace as he responded.

“Goodness…we’re practically in the Indian Ocean, and the Thai coastal guards are mobilized…now this is getting troublesome.”

Halter rubbed his head and groaned, but Naoto did not mind as he asked,

“Is that referring to us? Or political issues?”

“Political–”

Naoto immediately concluded, and activated the the Thermobaric Buster that was originally on the ‘Black Tortoise’–now equipped on the aft of the cruiser. However–

“Hey, Marie, I thought of something good. Let’s snatch that cruiser.”

He suddenly suggested with a grin, and Halter rubbed his bald head, asking,

“–You intend to cross the Indian Ocean on a military ship? That’s way too obvious. It’s like waving a flag to everyone and saying that we’re here.”

“It’s no different from our actions being caught even though we aren’t waving a flag. Also, we aren’t crossing the Indian Ocean. We’re getting on shore.”

Naoto said that, and Marie considered, while Halter frowned in shock.

Vermouth was the only one smiling away.

“Now this is a good idea. Thailand is a good country, you know–? Gentle, pretty women, and there’s a third gender over there, you know? I think they’ll be really welcoming of ‘Naoko’, won’t they?”

Vermouth gleefully continued with a vulgar joke, and Marie sighed, saying,

“…But this is a good idea. It’s frustrating, but really a good idea, Naoto.”

“Oh? What is it, Milady? Pumped up now?”

“I’m suggesting that we go from Thailand to France on land. Don’t lump me with you, pervert.”

“…Travel on land from Thailand? For what reason?”

Naoto tilted his head as he asked this savage looking Marie, and Marie nodded,

“It’s the Grid Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.”

She said in one breath.

Naoto frowned hard, stared at Marie, and asked,

“…Sorry, but what kind of spell is that?”

“That’s the official name of the Thai Capital, Grid Bangkok.”

She immediately answered, and continued,

“Bangkok–the Multiple Grid in Thailand. There was once a crisis of the functions failing, and the ‘Guild’ once interfered. Back then, they had an agreement between the 5 Grids, the 4 neighboring countries that were Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Bangladesh…basically, there’s a lot of holes in the border and a lot of illegal passages. We can get parts for AnchoR and RyuZU, and we get go North to India.”

“–Politics really is incredible…”

“Anyway, that means–”

This time, Marie showed an exceptionally savage sneer as she told Naoto,

“We’ll sink all the boat automata, knock out the crew on the pursuit boat, take over, and just enter the Thai military port without issue.”

–She’s probably poisoned by Naoto. Halter thought.

Of course, Halter would not say it out, for he did not know what reaction he would get if he did so.

“Haha! Right now, I’m going to be sure just in case. Are you going to be pirates and capture a pursuit boat? Do you know how many cannons and weapons that thing contains?”

Vermouth screeched, and Naoto too yelled back agitatedly,

“6 of the 15cm machine guns, 18 of the silo missile, 121 people on board, 28 flight automata–should be easy, right?”

“Brilliant! This is really crazy! Let’s turn the cruiser around–and attack!”

Vermouth grinned away as he turned the cruiser around.

RyuZU seemed to pay no attention to this commotion, and she seemed to realize something as she said,

“Speaking of which, Master Marie–there is something I have to tell you.”

“–I have a bad feeling about this, but what is it?”

Yes, RyuZU nodded, and said,

“No matter how you try to create a ruckus out this, AnchoR’s Master shall be Master Naoto. She cannot move a certain distance away from him, so do take note.”

RyuZU’s reminder caused Marie’s eyes to widen, her breathing frantic.

She felt dizzy, her disappointment leading to her consciousness fading.

So, what did that mean? If she wanted to continue having AnchoR–

“–I-I have to stay with this pervert on my own will!?”

Marie shrieked in shock,

Halter watched the group yap away, and really felt peeved as he retorted,

“…Have you guys forgotten that we’re all international fugitives wanted by the whole world? No matter whether we like it or not, we need to move together.”

“”How’s such a dumb thing possible!?””

“…You guys are the dumb ones, seriously…”

Naoto and Marie exclaimed in unison, causing Halter to sigh hard.

At this point, now that they had to fight alone against a massive force, he had the increasing feeling that he was foolish for being the only one sweating over this.

And then, he suddenly turned to Vermouth, who was steering the boat, saying,

“–Oh, right, kid. Where do you want to follow us to?”

“What’s with this, bro? Aren’t we on the same boat in having only our heads left? You don’t have to be wary of me like this, right?”

Vermouth snickered.

“Eh, just find me a place and leave me on shore, and I do intend to say goodbye. Before that though, please help me get back my normal body. It’s too cruel to leave me in such a body and go, right?”

Vermouth referred to the blonde hot smoking body, and Halter nodded,

It’s true, halter thought If I’m in the same situation, I’ll like to get out of this sooner.

“And even when we’re on our separate ways, I’ll come back to help if there’s anything interesting. These brats are coming up with some really interesting things–”

I guess. Halter shrugged, and opened the metallic box beside him by kicking hi.

The box opened with a bam, and there’s lots of treasure within it–no, there were all kinds of weapons ranging from rifles and anti-tank cannons.

He grabbed a massive Gear Launcher from within, and carried it on his shoulder.

Naoto suddenly seemed to have thought of something as he said,

“I say, Marie, maybe we should be issuing a warning at this time now, right?”

“You’re right. Let me think…I’m not too good in Thai…”

“Oh? So there’s a subject the super genius girl isn’t good at? That surprised me. In that case, leave it to me.”

Vermouth teased, and Marie frowned,

“You know how to speak Thai?’

“I said that it’s a ‘good country’, isn’t it? I used to be an Agent, you know? Don’t look down on me, Missy.”

“…I feel that losing to you is the second most infuriating thing to me in this world. Once we get to Thailand, I’m going to familiarize myself with it.”

“Go ahead–so? What do I say?”

“…Let me think. Give up on resistance and hand over that pursuit boat. You’ll get court martialed if a cruiser snatches a boat, but relax. Just tell them that the ‘Second Upsilon’ did it to gain sympathy, okay?”

“Okay, don’t get wet because of my proficiently in foreign languages, okay?”

Vermouth laughed, and took a deep breath.

Then, he yelled at the speaker equipped on the cruiser.

“เห..เห้ย..เรือลาดตระเวนลำที่อยู่ข้างลางนั่น! มันน่าหงุดหงิดที่พวกซิงขับเธออยู่, เนอะ? ฉันจะทำให้เธอครางด้วยลีลาส่ายสะโพกของฉันจนเธอต้องร้องขออีก!
ถ้าไม่อยากให้พวกนั้นขี่เธอก็ทำให้ห้องควบคุมเปียกซะก่อนซิ! ไอพวกซิงทั้งหลายที่กำลังสั่นอยู่บนนั้น รีบๆกระโดดลงทะเลได้แล้ว!”

–After that, the hail of bullets rained upon the cruiser, indicating the futility of those words.

Marie was knocked down by the explosions and water pillars from up close, askking incredulously,

“…What did you say?”

“I said what I was told to do.”

Vermouth nonchalantly answered.

Halter gave a lethargic sigh, nodding,

“…Yeah. Looks like they felt the sincerity of this kid. There’s no way they can feel anything that doesn’t exist in the first place.”

“Hahahaa! Translating is really difficult, bro!”

Vermouth exclaimed, showing no intention of reflecting upon his actions as he answered.

The bullets glided past the sky, ripping through the oceans. The explosions shook the atmosphere, and the intense waves hit the yacht.

In this emergency, Marie yelled happily,

“Final confirmation! Vermouth in charge of the wheel! Approach them and dodge the bullets at maximum speed! Halter’s in charge of firepower! Sink the boat automata using the Gear Launchers and machine guns!”

Naoto said,

“RyuZU, once we get close enough for you to jump on, knock them all out. AnchoR, watch papa hijack the wheel of the pursuit boat!”

“Understood.”

“…Papa, mama, do your best…!”

RyuZU bowed elegantly, and AnchoR smiled as she cheered on.

…As he watched that exchange.

Halter wondered.

Whether Naoto and Marie actually realized it.

The indisputable fact–that those two were already ‘equal to Gods’ on this planet.

It did not matter whether those two were really humans, it did not matter how they defined themselves.

No matter how they assumed themselves, how would the ordinary people who knew of their power view them–

The public called them Second Upsilon–the Second Coming of ‘Y’, that was what it meant.

It was to be expected that the world would not simply sit back and watch them.

The world could not possibly ignore the ‘Gods’ who existed in reality–who possessed such a tremendous power.

Naoto and Marie had grown.

They practically leapt into the realm of Gods in one step, and surpassed it.

That was what he felt in Kyoto, the dreams he harbored in his youth that became reality.

But on the other hand, the uneasiness he had back then seemed to increase by the day–

For him to have such a feeling, that would indicate–

“I’m getting old now, am I?”

Halter inadvertently blurted out such familiar lines, and sighed,

And then, he spoke to the black clothed automata not too far away, who was following Naoto’s instructions and preparing to end everything with ‘Mute Scream’ at any given moment, saying,

“Hey, Missy. RyuZU.”

“How callous–I suppose I did mention it before, but what is it?”

“Do you think this is the ‘gear of fate’ at work?”

Halter asked.

RyuZU silently answered with an elegant smile,

“I do not have a function that can observe such a thing, however–”

She slowly lifted her stare.

And looking over to where she was looking–it was the ‘Equatorial Spring’ that continued to spin in the distant sky.

RyuZU asked,

“Which direction does that spring appear to be moving towards?”

“…The right.”

“Really? But if you move down South from here, past the equator, and look at that spring again, your answer will be ‘left’.”

…The cruiser continued to shake.

The bullets rained upon them, and any one hit could have reduced the cruiser to shrapnel. In such a situation however, RyuZU continued to look up at the clear sky, and continued on,

“The truth is something subjective as according to how many observers there are–but there is only one fact. It is spinning right now, and that is the main point, no?”

…The automata discussed a philosophical issue through an observer effect.

Halter could not help but feel skeptical.

But at the same time, is it convincing because she said it–he wondered.

The automata that could move in imaginary time, and had negative output.

This fact was that time was simply a matter of truth.

No matter how distorted, or how it spun in reverse…he could not deny that it was spinning…and that was fate.

On the other end of his sight, the duo who had the abilities to change the world were discussing while being fired upon.

“Hey Halter! You need to do something! That’s a lousy body, but man the machine gun at least!”

“We’re running out on the Thermobaric Buster shots, uncle! Get to work!”

“–So that is how it is, Master Scrap Metal. You should be getting to work, no?”

…Goodness.

He gave a wry smile.

“…Well, since it’s the God of fate leading us, I’ll go on until the very end.”

Sayin that, he aimed the Gear Launcher he carried upon his shoulder.

He imagined the day in the past when the world ended–and when it was recreated.

He faced the truth that the day would arrive again.

He laughed that no matter how old he was, he ultimately was a brat no different from the kids in front of him

Halter rubbed his bald head, and slowly squeezed the trigger.

–Tick tock, tick tock.

The gears spun.

Regularly, mechanically, inevitably.

And so, they continued to count time as it existed.

Even as clocks stopped, it meant nothing.

Even when damaged, twisted, the wheel of time would continue to spin.

Regularly, mechanically, inevitably.

–Pointing towards the malfunction, distorted time.

Tick tock, tick tock–

–It merely continued forward towards the direction it should be heard, continually spinning.

As to whom it was headed to, in which direction it should be going towards, even God did not know–