HOPES and FEARS
Chapter 10: Team. Kamijou_Faction_II
Kamijou Touma slowly opened his eyes to bright sunlight. His head was spinning and his body felt numb. The feeling of nausea accompanied by a pounding headache washed over him. Lying on his back, he tried to raise his upper body, but fell every time he rose a few centimetres.
As his vision focused with all the speed of a camera from the 1800s, he realised that there were people around him.
Four blurry, dark figures came into view. One looked somewhat blue. The other was white-ish. The last two were black and white, although it looked as if they were inversions of each other.
He blinked rapidly. Someone was calling him. He felt someone gently, slowly raise his upper body into a sitting position, and then a pair of hands was brought up to his face. The person behind him gently pushed his head forward till his mouth was inside the hands.
He realised that the person in front of him – the white-ish one – was cupping his or her hands together to hold some cool water. He drank rapidly, but before he could gulp, the hands were withdrawn.
"Don't drink too fast!" the person spoke in a concerned female voice. It sounded like Princess Henrietta. "It's bad for you if you gulp it down. Take small sips. Do you understand?"
He nodded slightly to acknowledge, and the hands returned up to his mouth. Afraid the water would be withdrawn again, he followed the voice's advice and drank slowly, taking small sips to soothe his parched throat.
He tried to thank her, but all that came out was "'anks,"
"Don't worry. Just keep calm. You've been through quite an ordeal," the voice spoke kindly. Kamijou tried to hold up his body with his own strength, and the hands supporting his back helped him, somehow understanding his intent. As he crunched his abdominals, trying to get them to work, the person behind gradually reduced the pressure he or she was exerting until he was supporting himself. Kamijou held steady.
And then, he promptly fell on his back.
"Ohh that didn't look too good," a male voice said, sounding sympathetic. He felt a strong pair of arms give him a couple of bracing slaps on the shoulders.
"Isn't it because you let go, Saito?!" a high-pitched female voice snapped. Was that Vallière?
"Well, at least he's got the strength to cry out loud like he did. If that isn't a good sign, I don't know what is," Hiraga's voice was unusually quiet, Kamijou noticed.
Unable to move much, Kamijou settle for talking, "Where…am I?"
"I dunno," the male voice said. "None of us knows exactly where we are,"
There was a pause before he continued, "But I can say one thing for sure –,"
"Welcome back to earth!" a flippant voice cut in. A hand was waved over his face and suddenly, he felt clearheaded. His senses were fully back, starting with his brain and then working downwards through his nervous system. He could see and hear clearly again.
And he felt a throbbing pain in his hand all too clearly.
He let out a strangled cry and held his right wrist tightly.
"Ohhh that doesn't look too good. Nothing we can do about that, though," the voice said ruefully. "Here – painkillers and water. That's the best we can do for now,"
Who are you?
Kamijou looked closely at the man offering him paracetamol tablets. It was a blonde man wearing a blue T-shirt with a khaki lambskin vest. He cast his eyes around. He was in a snowy environment – he wondered why he didn't feel cold, then realised he was wrapped in a thick jacket that he didn't remember possessing. He was sitting on a picnic mat at the side of a two-way road with a single lane for each direction. There were barren trees all around.
"You're in England. Yep, our world's England. I heard it was spring back in the other world, but it's still winter here, just in case you were wondering,"
The blonde man smiled at him after saying that. "My name's Ollerus. Why don't you come with me for a bit, Kamijou? We've got lots to talk about,"
Between The Lines 1
"So you're just going out to meet him straight?" a red-haired man in a red suit asked sceptically.
"Yeah," a blonde man in a lambskin vest told him. He was sitting in the driver's seat of a small nondescript van. "I think he'll understand if I explain,"
"And if he doesn't? You ordered someone to send him back to earth, ripping him apart from his friends. You sent a woman who's a Saint and a Valkyrie to pretty much cut off his hand and throw him into the portal to earth,"
"Well…she did knock him out first...in a pretty painless manner," Ollerus said slightly defensively. "And she was thorough with the aftercare too! She bandaged his hand so he wouldn't bleed to death. Well, that's a Saint for you – she's so fast she can wrap enough bandages to hold back an entire dam's worth of blood before any of the stuff could spill out of his stump!"
"You're disgusting," a woman slapped him around the head. She was blonde and wore an apron with reliable-looking work clothes, including gloves and goggles. "As a Saint, I can't possibly condone such violence,"
The men raised an eyebrow at her and she qualified her statement. "Well, not against children without the means to fight back anyway,"
Fiamma of the Right shook his head with a sigh. "What about that other job you gave Brynhild?" he asked Ollerus.
"Oh, she did it alright. Kamijou and that girl Misaka both made a favourable decision in the end. I don't know what the Academy City board chairman is planning, but this is better than nothing, I guess. Those students he sent over to the other world are…well, they're just students, but having them there serves our purposes well enough,"
"What, you're actually planning to use them as a backup?" Silvia looked at him incredulously.
"No. The only true backup is Imagine Breaker. But it's good for those kids to remain there and make their own plans,"
"What if they don't? What if they just decide to sit back and relax?"
"Oh they won't." Ollerus muttered. "Those kids are all linked to Kamijou Touma directly or indirectly. I wouldn't expect them to be the type to do nothing when faced with the prospect of calamity on the level we're facing. As long as Misaka carries out her decision without faltering, even though Kamijou won't be able to support her, I think we can expect good things from them,"
Between The Lines 2
"Hey. Did you hear? He's back on earth,"
"Hmm? Who might you be talking about?"
"Who do you think? Don't waste my time here, little girl,"
"Oh? I was under the impression you had nothing but time to waste, old woman,"
"Enough! This is ridiculous!"
"So? What do you want anyway?"
"He might be heading into another battlefield,"
"Even with his survival ability, this is a dangerous one, I presume...?"
"Yes. Why else would I call you directly?"
"Can we try to dissuade him? Maybe if we use our bodies…- oh, sorry, if I use my body…?"
"…I'm gonna hang up,"
"So…you sent that woman to send me back," Kamijou said numbly. He had just heard the story of what had happened in the hotel room in la Rochelle from Ollerus.
It was a simple enough story, and one that left him confused and even somewhat hurt.
He was now sitting in the front passenger seat of a nondescript van. Ollerus was driving, and the other passengers were seated in the spacious back of the van. The entire explanation had been given to him here, as they drove to London.
"You sent a woman who's a Saint and a Valkyrie to send me back to earth – by cutting off my hand and throwing me into a portal,"
"Well, yeah," Ollerus sounded somewhat apologetic. But not particularly.
"And she did it in full view of four others. These four, who came after me. These four – three of whom don't belong to this world,"
"Well, that wasn't part of the plan," Ollerus frowned as Kamijou turned to look into the back half of the van – Louise and Siesta were frantically gripping Saito's arms as the van jerked up and down on the road while Henrietta sat a little further away from them, putting on a brave attempt to maintain her dignified appearance. Kamijou looked at her sympathetically and gave her a few vague words of encouragement and a reassurance that earth vehicles were indeed safe to ride in before turning to the front.
"How did I make my way here anyway? How did I end up here while unconscious? I thought there were many worlds besides earth or Halkeginia?"
"Yeah. Your portal was…I guess programmed would be a good word here. Your portal was programmed to come here. When a team of eight set out to look for you in the different worlds some time back, they didn't know where you'd gone, so they couldn't 'programme' the portal. They had to walk on the Bifröst Bridge and manually visit different worlds to find you,"
"Is that so?" Kamijou muttered. "I'd like to hear all about that sometime, but for now, I'm more interested to know…why? Why did you go so far to send me back here, to earth?"
Rubbing his wrist, Kamijou said softly, "I wasn't intending to stay in the other world. I knew there were problems on earth – problems I had to get involved in. I was planning to come back as soon as I could,"
"I know," Ollerus nodded. "I don't doubt that. Problem is our schedule was moving too quickly. We're dealing with a Magic God here. A Magic God on the warpath. She could strike anytime,"
"It's not your fault you were sent to another world back in Baggage City. I was there when it happened – you were unconscious, I saw it," Ollerus continued with a heavy tone to his voice. "But earth can't afford to have Imagine Breaker on a different world right now,"
Kamijou stared at him. "Tell me what's going on,"
With a nod, Ollerus recounted the story of the Magic God and her recent actions.
"We clashed with her behind the scenes in Academy City recently. We prevented her from obtaining one of her goals. But I don't think we've won. It's suicide to think she doesn't have a backup of some sort,"
"What am I supposed to do anyway?"
"Have you ever heard of the raison d'être of Imagine Breaker?"
Kamijou rubbed a hand over his face, recollecting his thoughts. "I've heard one of the theories. Hopes and fears, wasn't it?"
"Yup. It's the hope of some magicians. To others, it's a fear. More tangibly, it's a reference point for a world changed beyond recognition."
"That is what I heard." Kamijou agreed quietly, then paused.
"But…if you're telling me that, doesn't it seem like you want me to be the backup? It's like you want me to be on earth so I can change things back to normal after a big distortion has occurred,"
"Yes," Ollerus said solidly, startling Kamijou. He elaborated, "It is true that I want you to be here in that capacity. I said that Earth can't afford to have Imagine Breaker away when a Magic God is possibly planning to change it in some major way because Imagine Breaker is the key to restoring things back to normal,"
"But I have no idea how to use my right hand for-"
"But we're also working to prevent such an outcome from becoming reality," Ollerus finished seriously.
"So you're fighting her," Kamijou half-stated, half-asked. "You're fighting her to prevent her from being able to make that distortion in the first place,"
"Yes. Remember I told you just then that Magic Gods have infinite possibilities, but only a 50% success rate? She's currently trying to create a magical tool to unite her possibilities for a 100% success rate,"
"The Lance of Gungnir,"
"That's right. The volcano at Hawaii, the Natural Selector Tournament at Baggage City, and even their recent infiltration of Academy City was all for this purpose – to create the Lance. Now their next move is most likely to combine all the ingredients they have prepared to actually produce the Lance,"
"Now, the Lance is a magical item," Ollerus took a deep breath. "I guess you understand where this is going,"
"Yeah," Kamijou muttered. "I think I understand,"
"Are you willing?"
Kamijou cocked an eyebrow at him. "What kind of question is that?"
"Kanzaki-san! Kanzaki-san!" a nun wearing a traditional habit shouted as she ran along the halls of an old building that was one of the bases of the Church of England's Parish of Necessarius.
"Orsola? What's going on?"
"It's Kamijou-san," she said breathlessly. "He's back, and he's with the Failure,"
Stiyl Magnus sat at the front of a long table in the centre of the meeting room in a la Rochelle inn, smoking from a pipe. Along the sides of the table sat other members of the team that had ventured into Bifröst. On one side sat Accelerator, Musujime Awaki and Tsuchimikado Motoharu. On the other side sat a depressed-looking Lessar along with Index, Misaka Mikoto and two of her sisters.
"So what did you find, Lessar?" Stiyl started.
"Traces of Bifröst," she muttered, unmotivated.
"It's exactly the same as Eastern Europe, when Touma disappeared," Index added. "Although I can't tell where he went,"
"So he could be anywhere?" Tsuchimikado muttered. "Along with Hiraga and the other two who were with him as well,"
"More or less," Index sighed. "We should go search for him again but…"
"The arrival of more people from Academy City complicates things," the spy finished. "And besides, our team hasn't come together anyway,"
"We are still waiting for Misaka serial numbers 19090 and 10777, reports Misaka as she estimates that it will take a few days at least for either of them to reach la Rochelle," one of the Sisters intoned.
"Lessar, is the gate to Bifröst still open?" Tsuchimikado asked the girl from New Light.
"Of course it is," Accelerator said irately. "How else can I be walking and talking like this?"
"Well, that's good news then," Tsuchimikado said softly, narrowing his eyes in thought.
It could be said that Bifröst existed in a separate dimension that served to connect the nine worlds on Yggdrasil. In order to travel from one world to another, a magician had to open a magical gate to Bifröst, then travel along the Bridge to an appropriate place to open a gate to another world.
When the team had arrived in Halkeginia, they kept the gate permanently open using magic. Meanwhile on earth, the same thing had been done to the gate on that side.
We set up numerous rebroadcast stations – well, they're just a series of antennas placed at regular intervals – on Bifröst itself to carry a variety of electromagnetic signals. This explains how we can use our team radios to communicate with earth and how Accelerator can still use his choker electrode to access his powers and his motor and verbal skills. If those rebroadcast stations were to go down or if the gates were to close, we'd be well and truly cut off.
But since we're still in contact with earth, that means we still have a way of contacting Kami-yan…
Tsuchimikado took out his team radio and attached the antenna to it. He held it up to his mouth and pressed the push-to-talk button.
"Hello, this is Tsuchimikado. Kami-yan, this is a message for you. Do you hear me, over?"
"It's no good," Mikoto shook her head. "I tried that already but it didn't work,"
"It didn't work? Do you mean he didn't reply?" Mikoto confirmed his guess, and he said, "Let's try contacting him regularly even if he doesn't respond. Maybe his battery went out. In that case, he obviously won't respond until he gets it charged. Let's just wait out and see what happens,"
"Is that really alright? Didn't you mention his hand got cut off?" Musujime cocked an eyebrow at him.
Tsuchimikado and Stiyl both smiled tightly.
"That is…honestly not as bad as it sounds. Kami-yan's right hand is frighteningly weird. We've heard of it getting cut off at least…what, three times?"
"Yeah," Stiyl agreed, recalling Aureolus Izzard, Fiamma of the Right, and Magic God Othinus.
"Each time, he just bounced back like it was nothing. I may be overly optimistic here, but let's not worry so much, shall we? It's likely he's alright, even with his hand cut off,"
"That is surprisingly easy to believe," Mikoto snorted.
"In any case, we need to make our move soon. I'd like to leave immediately, but we can't ignore the people who came along, like Komoe-sensei and all the rest," Tsuchimikado muttered. He faced the two clones. "Could you guys put word out on the network and ask the remaining two to get here ASAP? We'll continue making our plans, including how to deal with our visitors – and when they get here, we'll leave for earth,"
"Understood, says Misaka as she understands,"
The members of that hastily-convened conference slowly started to leave. Misaka Mikoto tapped her chin thoughtfully, then walked over to Tsuchimikado Motoharu.
"Hey. I need your help for something,"
"It's an emergency! Cries Misaka 19090 as she reports that that boy has gone missing from Halkeginia!" a frantic voice sounded over the network, breaking the monotony and shifting the focus away from the hundreds of mundane conversations and group discussions going on.
"What? 'Missing from Halkeginia'? Does that mean he came back to earth? Asks Misaka 13577 as she tries to check on that information,"
"We don't know, informs Misaka 10032 as she attempts to calmly go over the facts. It seems he went for a conference with three other people, but then got caught in a violent incident, summarises Misaka,"
"And? And?" a few thousand excited voices asked simultaneously.
"All three of them went missing along with him, reports Misaka 10032, as she makes a side note that there is another one person who went missing at the same time, although she was not known to be in that conference,"
"Where could he have gone, asks Misaka 19090 as she wonders why he has a penchant for going missing,"
"We're searching already, but it's likely he's not even in this world, worries Misaka 10039 as she notes that he could possibly have gone on the Bifröst Bridge back to earth,"
"Can you confirm that? Asks Misaka 13577 as she wonders what to think of this new development,"
"No, we cannot, denies Misaka 10032. We don't have the-,"
"But for now, we can't ignore the possibility that he came to earth, observes Misaka as Misaka wonders what to do!" A childish voice piped up. "But don't worry – I'll do something about it! Says Misaka as Misaka plots and plans to find him!"
Between The Lines 3
"Somehow, I'm not even sure we should try to dissuade him from going into this fight,"
"Oh? And why not?"
"One, because he's stubborn. You could always go Mental-Out on him, but-"
"Exactly. And two, I'm not sure the enemy this time is one you can escape by running to the other end of the world,"
"Well, that's just how it is,"
"How about sending someone else to fight in his stead? What is that #1 doing now? Or the #3?"
Three men sighed simultaneously on earth.
Ollerus, Hiraga Saito and Kamijou Touma both sat on benches in Marks & Spencer, bored out of their minds. Meanwhile, three girls took their time shopping for clothes, assisted by a woman who gave the overall impression of a maid, but easily took leadership of the three of them.
"Saito, Saito! Do I look good in this?" Siesta came running out of the changing room. She was wearing a white knitted sweater and a hot pink miniskirt with black leg warmers underneath.
"Oh, it looks great, Siesta!" Saito tried not to look disappointed that it covered up too much for his taste, although he noticed that the sweater looked somewhat tight around the chest.
"Silvia's reliable when it comes to this kind of thing. It's only thanks to her that we're not waiting for hours," Ollerus muttered to Kamijou. He and Saito had already finished picking their new clothes. Both had picked fleece jackets – black for Kamijou and blue for Saito – along with blue jeans, long-sleeved T-shirts and shoes that were warm and comfortable enough to run in. Out of habit, Kamijou had picked cheaply, but a certain part of him felt like getting something pricey out of spite for all the trouble he had been put through, since Ollerus was paying.
"If you're alright with those clothes, then change back to your old clothes so we can go pay for them," Silvia clapped her hands, stopping Siesta from preening in front of the mirror. It was probably the first time this simple girl from a remote village in Tristain had gone shopping for clothes based on looks rather than functionality, and she was quite understandably excited.
"Yes, Madame!" Siesta said cheerfully. It seemed she saw Silvia as a senior. As she went to change, Henrietta came up. Kamijou looked at her in amazement. He had last seen her in an impressive white and lavender dress that would have been considered majestic in Halkeginia, but which would have gotten her laughed at if she had walked the streets in London instead of riding in their van. Now, that dress was gone, and in its place, the Princess of Tristain wore a knitted light ivory blouse with long sleeves, dark blue slim jeans and stylish leather boots. She had also chosen a long pink coat.
That's really…ordinary, Kamijou reflected silently. Louise came next, wearing almost the same set of clothing, but with darker colours – a dark grey blouse, black jeans and a black coat. Kamijou remembered seeing her picking a set of brighter clothes just minutes before. Raising an eyebrow, he lazily wondered why she had exchanged those for duller colours.
Shrugging, he watched while Saito vaguely complimented Louise and got hit on the head because his words were not sincere enough for her.
"I suppose you thought this was ordinary, right?" A voice next to him suddenly said. He jumped, then breathed out deeply when he saw it was Henrietta. The Princess giggled.
"Uhh, well." He stumbled.
"All the dresses I had to wear back in the palace were so big and grand…and so difficult to walk in!" she complained.
"Hehh?" Kamijou muttered vaguely, recalling how easily Princess Carissa was able to move, and even fight, in her voluminous red dress.
"Are you alright?" the sudden question, whispered right into his ear, startled him. He turned to look at her. She was looking into his eyes in a meaningful manner.
"Y-Yeah, I am," he said. "Why, though?"
"Why? After all that's happened, who wouldn't ask?" She smiled briefly before dropping her voice back to a whisper again. "Are you being forced into cooperating with these people?"
Kamijou's eyes widened, then narrowed as he thought about those words.
I guess it's only natural to be suspicious. If that Brynhild woman were to appear here, it wouldn't be weird if Hiraga and the rest were to grab their weapons and attack her without a second thought. Ollerus hasn't attacked or threatened us but he openly admitted to me that he asked Brynhild to send me back here. He told me that story privately in the van and I don't think the Princess or anyone heard it, but even so, surely they'd find the timing suspicious. They would question why Ollerus happened to be at the right time and place after Brynhild sent me here.
From their point of view, it's like…It's like Brynhild sent me here after physically mutilating me, to be threatened again by Ollerus into cooperating with him.
Well, that is exactly what happened, except 'threatened' is too harsh a word to describe it. It's more like…they need me to perform a certain duty and they were pretty rough about getting me to the place I needed to be, he reflected. He leaned over to Henrietta's ear and tried to sound natural.
"No. Not at all," When she heard these words of his, Henrietta gave a single, slight nod.
"It's so refreshing to be away from the palace! Finally, I'm somewhere I don't have to be a Princess!"
"Is that so?" Kamijou tried to smile. "We can get you, Siesta and Vallière passports later – with those, maybe you can join Hiraga and visit his home country…"
He casually chatted with her to pass the time, without particularly caring about what he said. Bigger concerns filled his mind.
Between The Lines 4
"The #1 is still in the other world I told you about. He's trying to figure out why he lost to some little girl. As for your best friend the #3, she's in the same place, wondering what to do now that our boy is gone,"
"…You just narrowly avoided crushing your phone, didn't you? Honestly, I should make a soap opera out of your life stories,"
"Oh, you think so? Then why do I hear you crying?"
"This is ridiculous,"
"You started it!"
"Well, never mind. The #1 and #3 know him, but they can't get involved because they're across on the other side,"
"What about the #2? Some big commotion happened during Ichihanaransai and since then he's been looking after the Control Tower of the Misaka Network and some other little girl. I didn't know he was like-,"
"Yeah. I heard about that. But this is pointless,"
"Are you saying there is no meaning-ability to get others to fight this battle?"
"I'm saying it's pointless to think of this as a fight he can ask others to take responsibility for. He has to be there,"
"Because of his Fantasy Killer-ability?"
"Yes. This is a battlefield Imagine Breaker is naturally drawn to,"
"…Be that as it may, we can continue with the preparations we've made so far,"
"Do you have an idea?"
"We can't create a situation where he runs away and others fight for him. But we can increase his group support ability and make sure he doesn't fight alone,"
"…Is there no better option?"
"Ok, fine. It's time to make a few phone calls, then,"
"Yep. All we need to do is connect the various dots and give the right information to the right people. The rest will take care of itself. I believe in his ability,"
Between The Lines 5
"…to send me back to earth – by cutting off my hand and throwing me into a portal,"
"A Magic God on the warpath. She could strike anytime…"
Henrietta had not heard everything that was discussed in the van they had ridden in to London, but she had heard snippets, and they worried her. She knew nothing about Kamijou.
I first met him and Lady Misaka back in the Academy. They amazed me with their story – their story of being from a different world. I would've never have believed it – but they proved it by their powers…those powers that could not be explained by the logic of Halkeginia and the Holy Founder.
Caught in the spur of the moment, I asked them to lend me their power.
I regretted it almost immediately. It felt almost blasphemous to trust in their power.
But my need was greater. And besides, if I was to send Louise Françoise into a battlefield, it was only right I send powerful people – people who had already proven that they could and would protect her.
And when I next saw them, the war had been won.
A rush of emotions overcame her.
Wales was supposed to die.
His army of 300 was supposed to fall to the rebels' army of 50000.
His fall was supposed to spark off a political crisis that would definitely reach Tristain within the next few weeks, maybe even days.
But none of that happened.
The war was won by the force of 300.
A crisis was averted.
How did it happen? No doubt Mr Kamijou and Lady Misaka had something to do with it, but what exactly happened?
Just what is the extent of their power, that they can turn around such a hopeless war effort and ensure a victory of such a scale?
"Are you being forced into cooperating with these people?"
He had replied negatively.
She pinched her nose, thinking about his 'No, not at all'.
Maybe I was being overly-suspicious.
Or perhaps protective to the point where everyone around us is a suspect. The poor thing's just had his hand cut off! Even if this Ollerus person came to help us, I couldn't help but suspect him simply because of the timing with which he arrived and the way Mr Kamijou spoke to him.
She opened her eyes, coming to a decision.
I need to talk to him. I need to find out more about what happened in Albion…and what he plans to do from here on out.
Together with Louise, Mr Saito and Lady Misaka, he protected my world. It is only right that I look out for him and protect him in whatever way I can.
About 15 minutes later, they were done shopping, and went back into the van. This time, Ollerus brought them to a hotel in London.
"I've booked a room for each of you, so get settled in," Ollerus said encouragingly. Kamijou cocked an eyebrow at him. How is this guy so rich?
"I've never been to an earth hotel before!" Saito exclaimed, wide-eyed. "Hey Louise! Let's go take a look!"
"Ah- Don't run, Saito! It makes you look undignified!" Louise hurried after him with Siesta hot on their heels. Henrietta hesitated, while Kamijou remained behind with Ollerus. The two men drifted away to a place they could talk privately.
"So what's the plan?"
"Have you noticed we booked rooms near the airport?"
"How could I not? We hear the roar of a plane very few minutes!" Kamijou replied.
"Glad you noticed. There's a special plane waiting in Terminal 1, Gate 7 – provided kindly by Academy City," he smirked.
Kamijou's face turned blue.
"We don't know exactly where Othinus is. With a plane like that, we can respond quickly, no matter where she shows up,"
"Yeah. I understand," Kamijou choked back his reflexive fear of Academy City's superplanes.
"You won't be on your own. Since you don't have any way of contacting us, we'll send someone to accompany you. Don't worry; we won't send some stranger – you'll know who it is,"
"I see," Kamijou sighed. "I'll look forward to meeting them,"
Ollerus cocked an eyebrow at his response, but didn't say anything. He and Silvia parted ways with Kamijou. As the boy half-heartedly waved them off, Henrietta walked up to him.
"Mr Kamijou. We need to talk,"
Kamijou smiled uncertainly at her. "Aren't you tired after that trip? No surprises there – you guys aren't exactly used to transport here on earth, after all," With a sympathetic chuckle, he encouraged her, "Go up and get settled first. There's no need to rush,"
"No, I have to-"
"Mr Touma Kamijou?" a professional-looking young lady dressed in the hotel's staff uniform came up to them.
"Yeah, that's me…" Kamijou noted the order in which she had uttered his given name and family name.
"So sorry to bother you, sir, but there is a package for you. A young lady asked me to deliver it to you after your check-in,"
"Oh?" Kamijou extended his hand uncertainly and received the package. It was a small box wrapped in golden paper with shiny sprinkles all over it. Kamijou looked at it with twitching eyes.
"Um. Just to be sure, who's the person who asked you to give this to me?"
"She didn't give her name, sir," the lady smiled at him. Kamijou snorted and looked at the package, then did a double take.
Is it just me or are there stars in her eyes?
"Contact lenses just keep getting more and more creative by the day, don't they, miss?" he commented.
Awkwardly, he shook his head. "It's nothing. Anyway, um. Thanks,"
He walked over to a dustbin nearby and opened the package over the top so that the sparkles fell directly in instead of falling all over the floor. Peeling the paper off, he threw it away to reveal a small box that was made of plastic, yet gave off quite a premium feel.
"Um. Mr Kamijou-"
"What on earth is this?" Kamijou wondered out loud. He opened the box and peered inside.
"Isn't this one of those phones made outside Academy City? It's called an Iphone or something, right? There's a button on top here…"
He pressed it and the screen powered on.
"Slide to unlock?"
He followed the instruction and the screen changed to a single page of small squares.
"What is that?"
"Somebody left me a phone," he muttered, much to her confusion. "But…who, and why?"
At that moment, the phone suddenly rang, causing both Kamijou and Henrietta to jump in surprise.
Between The Lines 6
"Hey Ollerus. It looks like the church knows about Kamijou,"
"So fast?" Ollerus asked. He was still in the parked van, with Silvia next to him, a phone pressed to his ear,
"Well, they do keep in radio contact with the other side, after all," Fiamma of the Right said casually over the phone, which was on loudspeaker mode so that Silvia could listen to their conversation too. "You know how the Church of England was interested in rescuing Kamijou back when he went missing. Or at least, quite a few members of that church were willing to take part in the effort. And now that he's back, there's no doubt someone'll go down to take a look,"
"Someone, huh? Who could this someone be?"
"Probably the Japanese Saint," Fiamma guessed. Ollerus shared a look with Silvia.
"Well, in that case…" Ollerus tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I don't think there's any need to send Birdway to meet Kamijou,"
Kamijou Touma walked by himself down the streets of London, keeping an eye out for the café he had been directed to over the phone.
"Let's see…" he looked around. "It should be right around here…"
He whipped around. A serious-looking young woman was running up to him. She wore a white T-shirt and a pair of jeans with one of its legs cut off, as well as a jacket with one sleeve cut off.
"Kanzaki," Kamijou greeted the woman who had called him earlier.
"Are you hurt?" she asked forcefully, scanning his body visually, and, not seeing any physical injuries, resorted to prying his jacket off his body.
"H-Hey, stop it, Kanzaki-san! I'm alright!" he protested as people looked at him bemusedly and a few teens wolf-whistled.
"Don't be stupid! Your hand was cut off!" Now she grabbed his right hand and looked at it closely. "No way…not even a scar?! So Tsuchimikado was really telling the truth about your right hand!"
"…I'm almost afraid to ask what exactly he told you," Kamijou sweat-dropped, before looking at her seriously. "But I'm alright, Kanzaki,"
She stared at him for a few seconds. Uncomfortably, he returned her gaze. Finally, she sighed. "You seem to be fine, physically. Shall we go in, then? We need to talk,"
"Umm. Sure, I guess," Kamijou scratched his head and followed her in. They sat at a small table and placed their orders: hot green tea for her and a plain espresso for him. They took a few sips before putting their drinks on the table simultaneously, both disinterested.
"Ollerus told us you were unconscious when you went to Alfheim. Any idea why you actually went there? Maybe you learned something afterwards?" she asked him suddenly. Kamijou frowned at her, before remembering that Mikoto had told him before about Halkeginia's other name, Alfheim.
"No. I'm sorry, I have no idea why I was taken to Halkeginia – the other world," Kamijou shook his head. "I was unconscious, and when I woke up, I was…there. I ended up working for a guy there to earn money and to pick up the local language so I could ask someone for help,"
He explained to her the system of nobles and commoners found in Halkeginia, and the basis for his hope that someone may be able to help him.
"But in the end, I didn't have to do that, since I met Tsuchimikado and all the rest," he smiled at her. "Thanks for coming after me,"
"I-I didn't really-"
"I heard you helped organise everyone. And I know you're busy with your own work. I was busy trying to find my way back, but I think I'd have failed. Nobody there has even heard of other worlds," he shrugged with a short laugh.
"Well, that aside." Kanzaki said, somewhat forcefully. "There are other matters we need to discuss,"
"O-ok. What?" Kamijou asked, slightly taken aback by her tone.
"The Magic God,"
"Your Highness!" Louise cried, as Henrietta entered Saito's room. She had been lying on the bed with Siesta and Saito, sharing a bucket of popcorn and watching a movie. She got off the bed and stood out of respect as Henrietta entered. Saito and Siesta quickly followed suit.
"Ah – Louise Françoise…there is no need for such formality…" Henrietta sighed deeply and went over to a chair to sit. Pausing for a few seconds, she removed her boots, somewhat awkwardly.
These clothes are really comfortable…to think such items could be bought at such low cost! That lady, Miss Silvia, just handed them a card and they gave it to us…I wonder what that card was…eh?
She realised that Siesta was kneeling in front of her, removing her boots for her.
"Leave it to me, your Highness. It is not proper for a servant to let her mistress remove her shoes by herself,"
It's almost amazing that everyone does things by themselves on this world. Now I feel like I come from a backwater, having to have servants do things for me, even basic things like dressing…
"Louise…what is that?" she asked, distracted, looking at the television fixed to the wall.
"It seems to be an invention of this planet, Your Highness," Louise reported.
"It's called a TV," Saito explained the concept to her, somewhat awkwardly.
"I see," she said interestedly.
"We're watching a movie now! You can think of it…like a play that's been recorded for people to watch…" Saito faltered, wondering how to explain movies to her. But she seemed fine with his words, and looked at the screen interestedly. Saito handed her some popcorn.
"What…what is this?"
"Popcorn. It's a snack people eat when watching movies…You can just use your hands to eat it…"
"Oh…" she carefully picked up some popcorn and ate it delicately.
"Your Highness…where did you go?" Louise asked tentatively, more interested in why Henrietta had taken so long to come upstairs to their rooms.
"I…I wanted to talk to…oh, never mind," she fell silent with a melancholy sigh.
"Princess? Is everything alright?"
"Y-Yes…" she said absently. Then, closing her eyes, she made up her mind. "Louise Françoise…I believe you have not told me about what exactly happened in Albion," she looked to her old playmate, who appeared surprised.
"O-Of course! I have yet to report to you. How careless of me! Saito! Could you tell those actors to quieten down?!" Saito raised an eyebrow at her words, before understanding that she referring to the actors on TV. Chuckling, he turned off the TV and moved to the other side of the bed to face the Princess.
"Prince Wales had a small force of 300 mages and soldiers," Henrietta recalled. "How did he manage to beat the 50000-strong rebels? Don't get me wrong…I am happy that he survived. But I don't understand the story at all, and when you first reported to me that Wales had survived in that inn in la Rochelle, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I hardly thought of inquiring in-depth on what had happened. And, as you would recall, we were interrupted by that woman," she was unable to stifle the look of contempt that came over her face when she thought of the blonde woman who had attacked Kamijou in la Rochelle.
"Your Highness-" Louise started.
"It was Kamijou and his guys," Saito shrugged. Louise's eyes flashed in his direction, but he continued. "The Prince was saved because Stiyl Magnus – that's one of Kamijou's friends – had this…talisman, I think, with him. He gave it to me, originally, but I gave it to the Prince without thinking about it. I don't know exactly what kind of item it was, but it was powerful enough to save the Prince from that bastard Wardes – oh, damn! We forgot to tell you! Wardes is a traitor!"
"What?!" they explained the story to her. "Wardes…was a traitor? With Reconquista?!"
"He was after Louise. Said he wanted to rule the world with her or something," Saito said quietly. "At first, it didn't make sense. Louise can't perform magic other than small explosions,"
Louise was about ready to bite his head off, but his next few words changed her mood almost instantly.
"But I think I understand now," he said, looking pensive. "After we fought Wardes, Kamijou came before us – saying he had a plan to fight the rebels and win. It sounded incredible. Too good to be true, but we followed him anyway…and in the midst of that battle, Louise…Louise awakened," he looked meaningfully at her.
Louise's expression changed when she heard those words. She walked over to her bag and drew two items – a copy of the founder's prayer book given to her by Prince Wales and his Ruby of Wind. Standing before Henrietta, she took a deep breath and reported.
"Your Highness, I am pleased to report to you that I, Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière, have discovered my dominant element. I have been a useless mage all my life, but I have found my purpose now. I would be honoured to dedicate to you my power…the power of Void,"
"Void?" Henrietta looked at her in disbelief.
"I understand it must be hard to believe, but-"
"No. I believe you, Louise Françoise," Henrietta said quietly. A lot of things had happened that challenged her view of the world. "Void is a long-lost power, but it has existed before. It is not hard to believe that it would resurface at some point,"
"But keep it a secret," Henrietta warned. "I am happy that you wish to dedicate this power to me, but I fear for your safety if word gets out that Void has been discovered again. Especially seeing as…especially seeing as it was involved in a war which ended in the victory of 300 over 50000," Henrietta ended silently.
"Yes, your Highness," Louise intoned solemnly.
"Thank you for understanding, Louise," Henrietta smiled.
They told her the rest of the story.
"So Mr Kamijou devised a plan to stop the rebels?"
"More or less…Basically, he left some of his friends to defend the walls at Newcastle, the Royalists' base, while he took a few of us down to the rebels' headquarters to attack it. Louise and I went with him and a few of his friends,"
Louise took over. "The rebels were ultimately unable to attack Newcastle – their ships were unable to even come near. And then, they heard the news that their headquarters had been taken over, and that their leader was killed and their generals captured. They surrendered quickly after hearing that,"
Henrietta looked at the floor, her mind racing.
"H-How? How many 'friends' did he have? How did they stop an entire army from breaching the walls at Newcastle?!"
"Just a few, your Highness. But they were strong. Strong to the point of making the entire rebel army look like it was made out of paper. Just two of them were destroying ship after ship on their own," Louise shuddered, remembering the two Level 5s defending the walls of Newcastle.
What…? Was this a game to him?
He had powerful friends, so he went into a battlefield without hesitating and brought down an army of 50000?
"Why did he do that?" Henrietta asked in her confusion. "Albion is not his country. Halkeginia is not even his world. Why did he go so far for a Prince he did not owe loyalty to? Why would he go so far for a country that means nothing to him?"
Saito chuckled. "I asked him the same thing. I too was surprised he would step in to stop a war just like that. I asked him why he did it,"
"He told me that someone was manipulating the rebels behind the scenes. Reconquista, in other words. They were…pretty much forcing the people to rise up against the prince. He couldn't stand to see these people being forced to go out to fight in a war on the wishes of some guy sitting back in some safe place behind enemy lines. That's why he decided to take part. He asked his friends to aid him and they agreed. They looked after Newcastle's defences while he went with Louise, me and a few others to the rebels' HQ,"
He tapped his chin. "I know it looks like he just stuck his nose into someone else's business without asking…but I think he did the right thing. I met Prince Wales the night before the battle and saw for myself his resolve. He talked to me, and I felt…I felt that this was a man who did not deserve to die – especially not in such a…such a low manner,"
Henrietta felt a little regret for her thoughts from earlier.
He was in Albion because he had agreed to my selfish request to deliver a letter to Prince Wales, but he never agreed to fight a war for me or for anyone.
And yet, he threw himself into that war. He devised a plan and got people to follow him as he carried it out.
And he won.
Just who is this man?
"Just who is this man?" she asked out loud.
Siesta and Louise simply shook their heads slowly while Saito leaned back with the smile of one who had given up trying to solve a difficult puzzle. Henrietta squeezed the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes.
"I'm…I'm concerned," she admitted. "When we were in that metal carriage…"
"You mean that van?"
"If that is what you call it," she conceded. "While we were in that van, I heard some things. I'm not very sure, but it felt as if that man Ollerus was forcing Mr Kamijou to do things against his will,"
"What? But he rescued us, didn't he?" Saito protested. "We were stuck in the middle of nowhere, with Kamijou still unconscious. We'd still be there if it weren't for him!"
"I know, Mr Saito!" Henrietta shook her head vigorously. "But I just can't shake off this feeling. I -"
"We need to talk about the Magic God," Kanzaki intoned.
"Ollerus isn't the only one fighting her. This is a problem of such scale that the three major Churches are actually working together to think of a solution. We, the Church of England, are working alongside the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church as well as the governments of England, America, France and several other countries to oppose One-Eyed Othinus,"
"I see," Kamijou murmured. I didn't realise the problem was this big.
"Ollerus took a special interest in you ever since you went missing. He was the only one who knew how to open the gate to Bifröst. Without his help, Stiyl and his team would never even have left earth. But that man also has ulterior motives.
"What? We didn't order anything!" Saito narrowed his eyes at the door. The knocks continued, and he went to open the door. There was a woman standing outside, wearing an apron and with a food trolley.
"I think you've got the wrong room," Saito tried to explain. Because the Tongues spell was still in effect on his mind, he was able to communicate with the British lady despite being unable to speak any language other than Japanese.
"You are Mr Saito Hiraga, right?" the woman spoke in flawless Japanese.
"Uhh. Yeah, I am. How do you know me?" he stammered.
"I have a package for you!" the woman smiled charmingly and handed him a package wrapped in golden paper with sparkles on it.
"Th-Thanks…" Saito looked up from the package and smiled – then gasped as the woman left.
Is it just me, or were there stars in her eyes?
Wow. Contacts are getting really crazy these days.
Henrietta gasped as she saw the package.
"Mr Saito – what is that?"
"This? I don't know…let me open it first,"
To his surprise, Henrietta walked over to him and asked him to pass it to her. He watched on, bemused, as Henrietta tried to remove the golden covering, getting sparkles all over the floor.
"Your Highness, I can do it for you…" Siesta offered, but Henrietta absently refused. She quickly made short work of the cover to reveal a plastic case she had seen not too long ago.
"Eh? Isn't that the new iPhone?" Saito commented, peering at the package.
"You know what this is?" Henrietta asked him. "Mr Kamijou received a package exactly like this in the lobby. It suddenly made a loud noise, then he started talking to it! And then he just said he had to rush off somewhere and left!"
Saito chuckled at her story. "This is a phone, your Highness. It's used to talk to people over long distances," he started explaining what a phone was, when suddenly, it rang. Saito looked at the screen – it read 'Private Caller'.
"Uh. Let me handle it," Saito offered, accepting the call and pressing the phone to his ear.
"Hello. Is this Hiraga Saito?" the caller was a woman, and spoke in fluent Japanese.
"Uh, yeah. May I know who this is?"
The caller did not answer that question. Instead, she said simply. "It seems your Princess is looking for answers,"
Saito's eyes widened at Henrietta. The woman named Seria continued.
"Turn on the television and switch to channel 77. Listen carefully. All your answers will be there,"
She hung up. Saito blinked as call ended abruptly, then removed the phone from his ear.
"Wh-What is it, Mr Saito?" Henrietta asked.
"I-I'm not sure," Saito stared at the phone. "Channel 77…huh? Let's give it a try,"
He took the remote from the bed and turned on the television, switching it to channel 77. As an afterthought, he set the TV to record the show as well. He stared at the screen critically. On the top right corner, there was the word 'LIVE'.
"Mr Saito, what is it? What happened?"
"Somebody called me. I have no idea who she is, but she said that all the answers to your questions will be on this channel, Your Highness," he gestured to the TV.
"All my answers…here?"
"Apparently…See that 'LIVE' on the top right? That means that what we see on the screen is currently taking place somewhere right now. Somebody is using this world's technology to show us an event that is taking place in real time,"
"Really?" Henrietta said in wonder. "But what is that place…Oh! Isn't that Mr Kamijou?!"
The TV channel showed a live feed from a café. The camera was focused on a small table where Kamijou Touma sat opposite a young lady with long hair tied in a ponytail. Her jacket's right sleeve and her jeans' left leg were cut off.
"Oh my God – it really is him! He's on TV!" Saito shouted. "And he's with a woman…" he started ogling the Japanese-looking woman sitting opposite him, earning a slap from both Siesta and Louise.
"What are they saying?" Henrietta asked.
"Wait – lemme crank up the volume…"
The voices came through loud and clear.
The woman opposite Kamijou spoke, "Ollerus took a special interest in you ever since you went missing. He was the only one who knew how to open the gate to Bifröst. Without his help, Stiyl and his team would never even have left earth. But that man also has ulterior motives,"
Henrietta looked at the TV with renewed interest and sat right in front of the TV, listening carefully. Saito and Louise quickly followed suit.
On the TV, Kamijou nodded. "I'm not particularly surprised to hear that, actually. In fact, he's already told me what he wants. He was quite…upfront about it,"
The woman nodded, looking satisfied. "That helps. I received a call earlier and was told that you had arrived on earth. When I realised that you were with Ollerus, I knew that I had to find you as soon as I could, because I had to find out what Ollerus is planning to do. Could you tell me everything he told you?"
"Sure. But why? Isn't the Church making its own plans as well?"
Saito narrowed his eyes. He remembered hearing from Kamijou about the Church – a religious organisation on the outside, but secretly a magical agency.
On screen, the woman sitting opposite Kamijou answered, "We are. But we aren't all-knowing. I have to admit, the one who knows most about Magic Gods is the one who has stepped into that territory himself – Ollerus. And besides…"
The woman looked away. "It's alright. I'll tell you later. For now, I'd like you to just relay to me what Ollerus told you,"
"Sure…To put it simply, Magic Gods like the one we're facing can create distortions. And the role of Imagine Breaker is to reverse those distortions. My right hand can negate supernatural phenomena, but he thinks that its true purpose is to be a reference point for a world distorted to the point where nobody even knows what the old world looks like. I guess it kinda makes sense…if the distortion is magical, I'd just have to touch it with my right hand and it would be gone,"
The woman looked at him in shock. "So Ollerus brought you back for this? He was afraid Othinus would create a massive distortion, so he wants you to fix things?"
"I wouldn't rule that out…He went through the trouble to tell me all that, so I guess it is useful, or relevant, information. But my 'role' is a lot simpler. Othinus is trying to create the Lance of Gungnir, he said,"
Even over the TV, Saito could see the woman's eyes narrow dangerously. "Gungnir?"
"Yeah. Are you familiar with it?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Another magician – a Saint, actually – succeeded in creating a prototype of it before. I had a hard time defeating her, even though the Lance was only at 70% of its total output at that time,"
"Really?! Damn…the enemy this time is a Magic God. I don't think we'd be lucky enough to face 70%...anyway, it's a magical item, so it's weak against my right hand. The plan is to basically throw me at the Lance and have my right hand contact it before Othinus can do anything drastic,"
"Yeah. Well, but then again, this is a ridiculously simplified version of the plan. Lemme elaborate a bit. Othinus can show up anywhere, so Academy City provided one of their 7000km/h planes to quickly bring me over to the battlefield. Also, Ollerus said he'd send someone to…to basically guide me, I guess,"
"…" Kamijou remained silent. Finally, he said sheepishly. "Um. There isn't anything more…"
"What? How can there be nothing more?! Who is this person who's supposed to be coming?"
"I…I don't know. He didn't say. I just know that it's supposed to be someone I know,"
The woman sighed deeply, and Kamijou looked embarrassed. "I'm glad I came by to see you. Let me get to the second reason why we're here,"
"I'm here to assist you, Kamijou Touma,"
She nodded. "You're essentially a human weapon now. It doesn't make sense for you to go by yourself to the enemy's base and throw yourself at that Magic God,"
"Why are you hesitating? We have done this before, have we not?"
"British Halloween. It is exactly the same – back then, the Amakusa Catholics went with you to London. We were the bomber and you were our payload. It was our duty to see you safely to the battlefield, and it was your role to find a good opportunity to strike Princess Carissa and destroy Curtana with your right hand,"
"I see…So it's the same now. You're concerned that if I go in alone, I'd be destroyed before I got close enough to use my trump card,"
The woman looked sympathetic. "It isn't just a matter of tactics. You have a unique weapon that even the most powerful magical spell cannot overcome. I am a Saint. But our run-in with Acqua of the Back and our struggle against Princess Carissa proved that we need the support of our comrades. Going in alone is reckless, foolhardy, and arrogant to the point of stupidity,"
She looked resolutely at him. "This is a serious battle with the fate of the world potentially on the line. I'm not about to let you go in by yourself and make a mess of things. I will personally accompany you to the battlefield and see that you complete your mission,"
The transmission ended with that. Saito blinked in surprise, then stopped recording. He tapped his chin a few times.
Henrietta looked at him with resolute eyes. "You said this…phone was used to talk to people over long distances, right?"
"We need to talk to Mr Kamijou. At once," Henrietta ordered. "I do not know exactly what is going on, but what we have just seen confirms that he is going into a battlefield. I intend to find out as much as we can,"
The phone in Saito's hand suddenly rang again. He looked at it and frowned – again, it was a private number. He accepted the call.
"Hello, is this Hiraga Saito?" The voice was different this time. It was a pleasant male voice.
"Yeah…who is it?" he said cautiously, wondering if this guy would identify himself. He did.
"I'm Kakine Teitoku, from Academy City. Please call me Kakine,"
"Er, ok…And why…"
The boy named Kakine chuckled. "We were told to talk to you about the upcoming operation against the Magic God. Can we meet?"
Saito's full attention was captured at once. "Is this related to Kamijou Touma?"
"Yes it is. We were contacted in Academy City and given some interesting information regarding Kamijou and the Magic God, One-Eyed Othinus. We were also told to link up with you and two others – Louise de la Vallière and Henrietta de Tristain. Are these two ladies with you now?"
"Yes they are," Saito answered quickly. "Your call came at just the right time. We were looking for answers ourselves – it'd help greatly if someone could explain what's going on. Where can we meet you?"
"We just took off from Japan. Can we meet at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3's Arrival Hall in about an hour?"
"Sure! We'll be there! Wait…what?!"
Kakine laughed heartily. "No bull. We'll be there in an hour, tops. See you soon!"
Saito took the phone away from his ear and looked at it in disbelief. Then, a serious expression found its way onto his face and he looked at the expectant Henrietta, Louise and Siesta.
"I think I've found a starting point," he said. "Let's go to the airport,"
A small group sat at a table at Starbucks in Heathrow Airport's Terminal 3. There was a pink haired girl sitting next to an overly-energetic brown haired girl. With them was the oddest person ever – a boy who looked like he had been doused completely in white paint. He had a slight smile on his face and had a mild green light in his eyes.
"We got the same transmission as you did – the recording of Kamijou in that café talking to that woman with long hair," Kakine Teitoku said. "At first, it didn't make any sense to me, but then Last Order here gave me some background information that was very helpful,"
"That's right! Says Misaka as Misaka seeks to bring you up to date!"
Kakine explained, "Time is short, so I'll explain things briefly. I'll be skipping a lot of points too, but I can explain them later if you want. For now, the important thing to do is to explain the crux of the matter to you, and then to decide what we're gonna do,"
"Before all that, I think it'd be good to know some things about you," Henrietta gently cut in. "How exactly do you know Mr Kamijou? Are you a friend of his?"
"No – I have never actually met him," Kakine shook his head. "I suppose you must be wondering why I'm actually getting involved in this. It isn't because of Kamijou. It's because this is a problem of global proportions. As one of Academy City's only 7 Level 5 espers, I cannot possibly ignore this,"
He took a sip of his earl grey brewed tea. "There is a Magic God who is preparing a special weapon that will give her perfect control over her limitless powers. I'm not too knowledgeable when it comes to the occult or magic, but I've heard that this means she will become invincible and will be able to shape the world to her liking,"
He explained the concept of a Magic God in depth to the Saito and the Halkeginian mages.
Thanks to the Misaka Network, a large amount of information has already been stored up regarding the Magic God. Last Order has no reason to trust me, after all "Kakine Teitoku" has done, but she chose to disclose that information to me. Now, despite my lack of experience with the Occult, I have a passing knowledge of it, enough to make decisions for this case.
That boy with the special right hand…he sure has his work cut out for him.
I wonder if things might have gone differently during Ichihanaransai if he had been around.
He continued his explanation with a straight face as thoughts continued to fill his head. Images of the #4 Level 5 fighting "Kakine Teitoku" and several massive, pale white rhinoceros beetles along with a passive dark-haired girl in a pink tracksuit filled his head together with memories of how he had broken off from the Kakine Teitoku network and usurped control from the original (who had gone missing, for some reason).
"Just how powerful is a Magic God, really?" Saito asked.
"I don't know for sure, but…let's see. As far as physical strength goes – this is gonna be pretty graphic – she's strong enough to sever a person's hand by simply crushing their wrist," chuckling at the others' shocked expression, he continued, "That's what happened to Kamijou, actually. As for her other abilities, I've heard she can perform many different kinds of magic – including magic to heal herself, attack enemies, and so on. I suppose that's only to be expected from one who's at the very top when it comes to magic. Defeating her won't be easy…Now, nobody knows what exactly this Othinus person will do once her weapon is ready. Who knows, she might even become a benevolent deity. But what she's been up to in other parts of the world recently isn't exactly reassuring,"
He linked his fingers pensively. "Somebody showed me a recording of Kamijou sitting in a café and discussing his plan with a woman-"
"Oh, we saw that!" Saito interrupted.
"Ah, that's very good. Then you'll already know that Kamijou and that woman – Kanzaki Kaori, from the Church of England's anti-magical Parish, Necessarius – are planning to stand together against Othinus. Further enquiries revealed even more interesting facts. Did you know that the plan to fight against Othinus and prevent her from becoming a perfect Magic God has three layers?"
"Yes. What I mean is that there are three different stages to the battle. Stage 1 is before she creates her magical weapon, Stage 2 is while she creates it, and Stage 3 is after she creates it. There is a team of magicians who will attack her during Stage 1 to prevent her from making that weapon. There is a team that will attack her during Stage 2 if the first team fails. And if they fail and she creates the weapon, the third team will take over. The first Team is made of powerful magicians. And the Third is actually a coalition of various governments and religious organisations. Kamijou and Kanzaki are the only ones in the Second Team,"
"The only ones?"
"Yes," Kakine finished his tea. "That is why I am planning to join Kamijou and Kanzaki to fight Othinus. We will prevent Othinus from creating the Lance of Gungnir,"
After they finished their drinks, they went back to their hotel. Kakine followed them there and booked two rooms for himself and Last Order. Saito, Louise, Siesta and Henrietta went to Saito's room and sat there quietly. After a while, Saito went to the corner of the room and retrieved his sword. He sat down and looked at it intently.
"Saito? What are you…?"
The boy remained quiet and took out the iPhone that had been given to him earlier. Scrolling through the pre-loaded contacts, he went to the letter K and held his finger over the name 'Kamijou Touma'.
"I'm going to join those two," he said simply.
"What?! You're going to fight? But this isn't even your fight!" Louise protested.
"What makes you say that? This is my world – of course it is my fight," Louise quietened as she realised he was right.
"He's not the only one who wants to join in," Henrietta rose from her chair. "I too want to lend my strength to Mr Kamijou,"
"Your Highness! You can't possibly mean to fight like a common soldier!" Louise protested.
"He did the same for me," she said quietly. "He isn't your average common citizen in this world. He doesn't act like it, but from what I have seen in this world, it is very likely he is similar to a noble from Halkeginia. Not by right of birth, or in his riches, but in the way he moves things. In the way major incidents happen with him at the centre, and the way people surround him,"
Louise bit her lip.
"So…this isn't earth," Saten Ruiko said uncertainly. First, magic. Another method of obtaining supernatural powers. We heard all about churches and cabals on earth. And about the system of noble mages and commoners here in 'Gallia'.
And now…Misaka-san just says we're on a different world.
Misaka Mikoto nodded. "Yeah,"
"And that's the reason Kamijou-san was in such a hurry last night," she continued.
"That's right," Mikoto answered her. "To be honest, all of us panicked when we heard you were here. This isn't a place anyone can just walk into,"
They were all in the meeting room of the la Rochelle inn Mikoto and her teammates were staying in. She was standing at the front of the table with Tsuchimikado Motoharu standing next to her.
The Feng Shui professor took over. "This is another world. Normally, earthlings like us wouldn't have anything to do with this place. We only came here because it was an emergency. Kami-yan was away in Europe doing…well, doing his usual thing, and then he went missing-"
"Kami-yan went to Europe? To do 'his usual thing'?! That bastard, why didn't he say a word?!" Aogami Pierce started crying comically.
"He didn't go there for a holiday!" Mikoto snapped. "He went there for-" she broke off awkwardly, not knowing what to say.
"Yeah, I'd like to know what he went there for," Hamazura Shiage spoke up. "Was this after Hawaii?"
"Yeah," Mikoto confirmed. "He started his trip to Europe just after Hawaii. He said something like…He was under the impression that we'd been betrayed and used by that girl Birdway. And he just took off, saying he needed to set things straight,"
"Huh. Sounds like him." Hamazura snorted.
"Tell me about it! As if Hawaii wasn't enough, he went straight to Baggage City and-" Mikoto said loudly, her emotions excited by the turn the conversation had taken.
"Baggage City?!" Yomikawa cut in loudly. "What was that child doing in Baggage City?! Don't tell me it was during that tournament?!"
Mikoto and Tsuchimikado could only shake their heads silently.
"We can only speculate as to what he did there. He didn't even tell us. But we know that he went missing there. After doing our research, we found he was in this world,"
"And that's the reason we're here," Tsuchimikado capped off. "We came to find Kami-yan, whom someone had forcibly sent over here,"
"Forcibly sent over?" Yomikawa questioned.
"He was probably forced because the events in Baggage City hadn't come to an end," Tsuchimikado's voice took a speculative tone. "I can't see Kami-yan leaving before a resolution has been found. And it's impossible he went of his own accord because Kami-yan doesn't have the means to do so. He can't refine mana to use magic, and his esper power level is 0. He has neither scientific nor magical means to cross from one world to the next,"
"But that's ridiculous!" Kongou Mitsuko opened her fan in front of her face dramatically. "If he is a Level 0 unable to use this…so-called magic, then how do you explain last night? He held his own against-" she broke off. The other girls looked at her uncomfortably, especially Kuroko. Mikoto raised her eyebrows, then took a look at her three best friends and understood what they were getting at with a laugh.
"While it is true that that guy doesn't have any magical or scientific ability, he has an ability specific to his right hand,"
"It's called Imagine Breaker," explained Tsuchimikado. "It's a special kind of power that negates all supernatural phenomena that it touches. It disperses mana and AIM fields alike. A magician could, say, blast a fireball at him and it would disperse harmlessly if he were to strike it with his right hand. A Hydro Hand esper could blast him with water and it would lose its potency if touched by his right hand,"
"Ah! That explains…" Uiharu started, then broke off, not wishing to talk about the last night, when she and the others had attacked Kamijou and Accelerator. Mikoto decided to change the topic.
"Well, in any case, we came here so we could find Kamijou. But now I have one question – how did you guys not notice you were on a different world?" She asked with a puzzled expression. Everyone looked at her blankly.
"There is a…sort of bridge that exists in a different dimension," Tsuchimikado explained. "It's called Bifröst and it connects the different worlds. If you wanna cross over from earth to this world, you'd need to use Bifröst…To put it simply, there's simply no way you can fail to notice you came to a different world,"
Mikoto nodded, remembering the cosmic views of Bifröst.
"Well, this may sound kinda lame, but we came here on a bus with the windows covered," Hamazura said. It was suspicious alright, but we just went on it anyway. Kinuhata was pretty much forced to go, to earn some academic credits – funny how she supposedly needs those even though she doesn't even go to school – and so I was forced to go along with her by Mugino.
Mikoto and Tsuchimikado looked at one another.
"Well, that explains it. But it doesn't explain why…" Tsuchimikado scratched his head. "All of you came here for this Learning Trip, right?"
There was a flurry of nods. Tsuchimikado cocked an eyebrow at Mikoto.
"Don't ask me," she sighed. At that moment, a loud static noise filled the room.
"Bzzt. Hello? Anyone?" the radio Receiver-Transmitter she had placed on the table suddenly buzzed. She frowned at it. Tsuchimikado looked at it in surprise, then took out his own RT.
"That's strange…my RT didn't buzz…" he commented. Mikoto stared at him, puzzled.
If someone transmits using their RT, all the other RTs will go off at once. But why did mine alone go off just then?
Her eyes widened as she came upon the truth.
Multi-frequency RTs. Our RTs can be set to multiple frequencies and receive/transmit at each frequency at the same time. If my RT sounded, but his didn't, then that means…
She hastily took her RT and pressed the button.
"What?" Tsuchimikado looked at her, his smile gone.
"Are you alright? What happened to you? Where the hell did you go?!" Mikoto shouted into the RT, causing Tsuchimikado to sweatdrop.
"Nya…one question at a time, Miss Railgun…and if you don't release the PTT button, he won't even be able to talk…"
Blushing, Mikoto released the button. Within a few seconds, the reply came.
"Yeah. I'm alright,"
Mikoto let out the breath she'd been holding, and Tsuchimikado cracked a small smile.
"I'm in London right now. Who else is with you now?"
"Tsuchimikado and me," Mikoto answered. "Oh – the students who came for that Renaissance Trip are here too,"
"I need to talk to, umm, all of you. Accelerator, Stiyl, Lessar, the Sisters, everyone. Oh, Hamazura too,"
Tsuchimikado took her by the shoulder and steered her out the door. Hamazura quickly followed them, having heard his name. They ascended the steps to the second level of the inn, where their rooms were. Tsuchimikado pressed the PTT button on his own RT, which was set to the primary frequency.
"Everyone, this is Tsuchimikado. Kami-yan just contacted us – I repeat, Kamijou Touma has just contacted us. Everyone gather in Room 2-7 now!"
Within minutes, Accelerator, Stiyl and all the rest had gathered in that room. They set Mikoto's RT on a small table and sat around it, either on chairs or the floor.
"Kami-yan. We're all gathered now,"
"Right. First of all, I'd like to say sorry for jumping the gun. All of you came so far for my sake, but I let myself be taken back to earth instead of going back together with all of you,"
"Hah? What, you think I came all this way out of goodwill towards you?" Stiyl snorted derisively, pressing the PTT button.
Kamijou laughed weakly over the radio. "Ollerus sent someone to Halkeginia yesterday – to Vallière's room. I had gone there to meet her, Hiraga and Princess Henrietta. While I was there, that person opened up the Bifröst portal and sent me back to earth. The others followed after me right after that,"
"Why?" Mikoto questioned hotly. "Why did he send you back so early? Couldn't he have waited for us to go back to earth on our own – as a complete group?"
"I asked him the same thing," came the rueful-sounding reply. "He couldn't wait. That Magic God is moving too fast,"
Everyone fell silent.
"So Ollerus wanted you to go back because the Magic God is moving too fast?" Lessar asked, pressing the button. "Then, that means…"
"Kanzaki and I are going," Kamijou confirmed. There was a sharp intake of breath.
"We should go," Mikoto said softly, without pressing the PTT button. Stiyl nodded.
"You guys stay there, will you?" Kamijou suddenly said.
"What? You want us to stay here while you fight that Magic God?!" Mikoto shouted into the RT.
"N-No, not really," Kamijou replied nervously. "Kanzaki and I aren't the only ones fighting. Ollerus and his people, as well as the three major Churches and several governments are involved. We'll be fine on our own. Seriously, guys. Just stay there for a while and let us finish this up,"
Nobody pressed the PTT button.
"Oh, by the way, if you have phones, you can probably reach me on WhatsApp," he suddenly said, giving them a phone number.
Between The Lines 7
"…eight nine seven," Saten Ruiko recited as she wrote down the phone number she had just heard uttered over the radio while standing outside the door to Room 2-7.
Kamijou Touma turned off his RT and placed it on the table. Kanzaki stared at him.
"That probably worried them more than if you had kept silent," The Saint observed.
"Still, I had to let them know I'm alright," Kamijou muttered. "I owe that to them, at the very least,"
Kanzaki nodded. "Telling them to stay on the other side is a good move as well. It is possible we may fail. If we do, we'll need them to come in to this world and set things straight. We don't know what Othinus will do, but if she becomes a dictator or some harsh God, we'll need a resistance. Who better to take part than those who are currently hidden far from her gaze, in a different world?"
"Yeah. I know," Kamijou linked his fingers. "In any case, I gave them my phone number, so they can still get through to me by Instant Messaging,"
He looked into his pocket and fished the iPhone he had gotten from a mystery person earlier, pressing the power button. He looked at the screen in boredom.
His eyes popped open.
"200+ unread notifications?!"
To Be Continued