Volume 10, Ending X-02: The Age of Awakening Has Arrived
“I thought the world was supposed to become a happy place.”
“That depends on your definition of happy.”
(Ending X-02 Open 09/02 00:02)
The Age of Awakening Has Arrived
Summoner was no longer a viable profession.
Midnight had passed and it was now September 2.
The middle-aged man named Leonardo Pounds placed his hands on his hips and breathed an exasperated sigh.
“Times sure can change, huh, Kevin?”
A single large space with no walls or partitions was brightly illuminated by the many halogen lights hanging from the ceiling framework, so it may have been reminiscent off a school gym.
But this was no gym.
This was one of the warehouses in the coastal harbor district of Toy Dream 35.
“The Summoning Ceremony is a thing of the past. From the age of summoning to awakening. Ha ha ha. I get it! With everyone’s Awards taken, we’ve all gotta start back at the beginning! But no matter the age, there will always be a place for religions and mythology. And that gives me room to work my magic. Our great sex cult adventures have only just begun!!”
The way he put it could not have been worse, but that view did not just come from an overestimation of himself. No matter how silly it was, the most basic desires could be a frightening thing when they were used to bind people together and, when enough people gathered together, they would begin to forget their original purpose for gathering and feel weirdly drawn to each other. Just like with scams, the trick was to isolate the marks, keep them from thinking through their decisions, and drag them up onto the ridiculous theatre stage.
Leonardo was a charismatic guy. He was decently confident in his ability to command the scene. So if it would allow him to display his talents there, making a scene at this late night party was fine with him.
A woman with a pure white habit covering her from head to toe walked through that same warehouse.
She was The Saint.
She was like his polar opposite when it came to worshipping the Queen. Except…
“Heh heh heh. She does not deserve to be called Queen. She abandoned us. Without even asking first. Oh, I was such a fool. I spent so much time and effort worshipping her, but no matter how much faith and belief you have, it’s all over in the blink of an eye once she abandons you. I need to grow stronger all on my own.”
(Hmm. She looks kinda disoriented and is muttering some scary stuff, but maybe I should look for a chance to sleep with her. YOLO, right!? I have no idea how she escaped that tropical island, but doing a runaway prisoner sounds weirdly hot!! Looks like she’s got some psychological scars, but that means this is my chance. Mwa ha ha, I can help comfort her all night long!!)
There was a reason they were gathered in this warehouse in the middle of the night.
They had needed a large space, but they now also needed walls and a roof to hide them.
Their Awards had been taken.
They were no longer bound by the three major powers, but they also had to worry about a lot more eyes than they used to: police, security guards, ombudsmen, tabloid cameramen, etc.
“So how far along are the containers?”
“The next one is the last one. Once we open it and fill in the eastern corner, the barrier will be complete.”
A huge shape sat in the center.
That silhouette could not be made by human hands and did not look naturally occurring either.
“Detta, huh? You gotta love those prominent curves. And a young woman who knows how to operate machinery like that gets a lot of points from me!! Whew, I’m a little afraid what’s gonna happen to me tonight. I might just dry up into a mummy! Kevin, bring me some maca and caffeine! A whole bunch of it!!”
Those who could not fit in would never fit in.
In the end, that was the truth of the matter.
And people were not made to simply obey. For better or for worse.
“By the way, I would like to point out one thing.”
“What is it, Hot Body #1?”
“Should we really have left that Biondetta on her own like that?”
“Not to worry! Detta can wait until I’m ready for her! Oh, but if she can’t wait and starts ‘operating her machinery’ on her own, I’m not about to complain!”
“What if I told you the GPS tracker I hid in her clothing is showing her in an unusual location???”
Just then, bright searchlights lit up the warehouse from seemingly every angle.
In the same coastal harbor district of Toy Dream 35, two sets of racing footsteps and tense breathing could be heard among the warehouses so late at night.
“R-Renge. Um, uh!?”
The bright white and red made it impossible to hide in the dark night.
Those shrine maiden outfits belonged to Meinokawa Renge and her twin sister Higan.
A different pair jumped over the twin shrine maidens’ heads as they moved along the top of the containers stacked up like small mountains.
“We were supposed to have them surrounded, so what idiot got lazy and left an opening!? They’re lucky the great Claude here can pick up the slack.”
“Probably that Max Layard and Ellie Slide. They might have learned to derive pleasure from losing at this point. Aren’t you glad they gave you an excuse to show off?”
“3A? Detta is in there as part of the sting operation and we are talking about a wannabe sex cult. If we don’t do something, this is going to take a rather X-rated turn!!”
“That seems to delight you a little too much, so here is a suggestion: why not wait a bit before rescuing her? I feel like that waitress demon could stand to suffer a little.”
The Blood-Sign Summoning Ceremony was no more, their Awards were gone, and the major powers of Government, Illegal, and Freedom no longer existed. An age of chaos had arrived. Various forces were at work in the open and in secret and countless groups were continually joining together and breaking apart.
Whoever took control of that chaos would be the winner of the next age.
Would it be a vast empire ruling over several continents, would it be an educational organization full of all sorts of knowledge, would it be a global religion, or would it be a multinational corporation? No one knew.
The blonde-haired, blue-eyed shrine maiden named Higan spoke up with tears in her eyes.
“I thought the world was supposed to become a happy place with the Blood-Signs gone and - eek - the threat of the White Queen gone.”
“That depends on your definition of happy. If you want to create your own empire, this chaos will look like the opportunity you need to reach happiness!”
Black-haired Renge responded while pulling out a device that looked like a stun baton with a small umbrella at the top. It was a directional anti-electronics bazooka that sent powerful EM waves out in a single direction to destroy any security cameras, IR sensors, or other electronics within 20 meters. They needed this now that their Awards were gone and they had to worry about the police and security, but then Renge came to a stop.
The security cameras had already been destroyed.
She sensed a presence.
And they clearly had no intention of hiding any longer.
First, some trained dobermans were released and then a few figures leaned out from the tall stacks of containers so they could target the twin sisters.
Renge pulled a paper charm from her pocket and held it between her index and middle finger.
It was a Storm charm.
She only had to move her hands in a set pattern and mutter an incantation under her breath.
“I lift a request to Susanoo, god of wind and violence who wanders this world. Please lend a portion of your power to your powerless worshiper!!”
That was all it took for a raging tornado to take her side.
In this case, targeting the obvious dogs or snipers would have been a mistake. First, she used the wind to blow away all trace of their scent to eliminate the risk of the dogs tracking them and then she had it knock over the stacks of containers to drop the elevated assassins into the abyss.
With a dull thudding, something rolled over to Higan’s feet.
It was one of the snipers’ weapons.
The short sword painted yellow was likely a Symbolic Weapon from the West.
“The gods exist,” said Shrine Maiden Renge while carefully walking through the labyrinthine harbor block while the containers collapsed all around her. “And they can exist just fine in this world ruled by Newtonian physics. So there’s no need to go through the process of summoning them from the other world. If you directly appeal to the gods and draw out a portion of their power, humans can use miracles. You can use the cardinal directions, the traditional elements, and other symbols to incorporate the gods into your own spells.”
“From summoning to awakening…”
“The age of magic has arrived.”
No longer were the gods summoned into the fragile and restrictive bodies of vessels. In the Age of Awakening, the gods were brought to this world as gods, so the previous rules no longer applied.
“Hurry up and finish this, will you?”
The voice in their earpieces was as condescending and unconcerned as ever.
It was pretty clear that woman was not going to run to their aid if they asked for help.
“I know everyone is vying for superiority right now, but I will cut ties with any organization that would not benefit me if it rises to the top. That is why I developed those charms to match your character and lent them to you. And I’m giving you a special exemption on payment for the time being, but if you fail to accomplish anything here, you will have to pay for it all yourself.”
“I’m hungry, Renge!!”
“Dammit. Does the Meinokawa Shrine have to be poor no matter what happens in the world!?”
That was when a tremor shook the earth.
This further moved the collapsing piles of containers, so they had to make sure they were not crushed.
But blonde Higan was focused on something more distant than that immediate threat.
“L-look, Renge, look!”
A shape rose up even higher than the giant gantry crane used to transfer cargo to and from ships.
It was a mountainous serpent with not just eight heads, but more heads than one wished to count. That venomous lake-dwelling serpent was from Greek mythology.
“The Hydra. They really are poachers!”
The gods and demons were wandering reality with physical bodies. And people could borrow their power using wands and charms. …So it was not surprising that some people would want to capture them and surround them with a barrier so they could keep that power to themselves. After all, the gods had no civil rights.
Now, could Susanoo’s storm alone contain this?
Miracles were widely accessible now, but you would still have an advantage if you directly controlled the gods or demons they originated from. It was like Renge and Higan were walking around with normal computers and phones while this group had a supercomputer larger than a school building.
“Higan, use your charm too. You still have Sun, right?”
“Ehh!? I-I’m too scared to borrow Amaterasu-sama’s power.”
“I’ll help you out with my Susanoo. The Hydra can regenerate its heads and two will replace every one that is removed, but the wounds are weak to fire. The air blades from my Storm isn’t enough, so you need to burn the wounds afterwards!”
Another tremor ran through the ground.
Their logic may have been sound, but your instincts would try to stop you from challenging a monster taller than you. And this Hydra was larger than a gantry crane.
“Wait, Higan. I know you’re scared, but stay quiet. We can’t screw up our positioning here.”
“No, not that. Um! There’s someone behind that container. A girl!!”
If it was simply an enemy, they could have ended it by silencing her with the power of their charms.
But in a way, this was much more troublesome.
“ng - uu?”
It was hesitant, but they heard a girl’s voice suing a certain system that sounded almost nostalgic in this age.
But they understood.
That nearly-nude girl was holding herself in her arms and looking toward the distant Hydra in fear.
“uu - kq, wz - iu - ou - hi - lm - ou - weq - ei - yh - ml!”
That settled it.
Meinokawa Renge shouted without thinking.
“Are you kidding!? She’s not a part of all this!?”
“This way, um, hurry! The containers are collapsing!!”
The giant Hydra gave a roar.
That was enough to bind people’s hearts and make them tremble.
With a tremendous explosion, the Hydra’s giant body was blown to smithereens in a single attack.
Something could be heard swishing through the air.
It came from the lighthouse at the end of the harbor.
And the person overlooking everything by sitting dangerously up on the viewing platform railing there was the Rainy Girl, Umie Shouko. She was facing outwards and kicking the slender legs extending from her skirt.
“You sure are overprotective.”
“Not really,” replied another voice.
The viewing platform surrounded the top of the lighthouse and included the equipment for the giant light source, but another figure stood on the actual roof located even higher than that. Her back was leaning against the lightning rod in the center.
Just like the Rainy Girl, that woman’s life had been saved in a way that separated her from the main line of history.
She spoke with the confidence of an adult.
“That was not me.”
“You also only intended to observe without actually helping, right? Unlike them, our power is not bound by the rules of letters or charms. A single fingertip can produce abnormal results, but we cannot predict what kind of side effects that will have. I am figuring out the rules bit by bit by leaping, using clairvoyance, and playing something like a mine-searching minigame, but in the worst case, a single coin toss could destroy the world.”
“Why are you here?”
“The Saint’s presence scared me a little. I was curious what had happened to that man since he was imprisoned on the same island, but it looks like there was nothing to worry about. …It would seem none of his fellow prisoners bothered to help him when they broke out. Losing your popularity is a tragic thing.”
She had done plenty of awful things to Kyousuke and his sister.
She had simply watched when she should have intervened and saved her children and then she criticized him like she had done nothing wrong herself. Even if Wisdom had set it up that way, she had said some terrible things to her child in the foolish hope of regaining everything she had lost.
There may have been no place for her in this age of victors.
But that brother and sister had accepted their pathetic mother.
So she had decided on an absolute rule for herself.
She would atone for everything by actually protecting that happy family this time.
But the Rainy Girl did not take such a dry view of things. If this organization escaped and the risk of them reaching her sister grew past a certain threshold, she would intervene and mercilessly crush them. No matter what kind of distortion that brought to the world.
But Shiroyama Natsuginu, that mother in an apron, smiled thinly.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I can tell at a glance. This new age belongs to them.”
A long skinny object spun in the boy’s hand.
It was a magic wand only a certain boy could use. It looked a lot like a Blood-Sign, but instead of being a device to summon power, it was a Symbolic Weapon that placed certain elemental colors in his hand to strengthen his internal image. Both ends of the long, skinny wand glowed with a different color and the light trailed after it to draw dual circles in the empty air.
That weapon was named Magick.
His Awards had been taken, so he could not position himself anywhere that would be spotted by security personnel or cameras.
“First I create it and now I destroy it. I need to apologize to Quad Motors after this is over. The Hydra can no longer support its presence here, so it has returned to the other world. It was meant to purify the seawater, so I’ll have to do a largescale public infrastructure Awakening to make up for this.”
Three people stood in the moonlight atop the roof of one of the many large warehouses.
One was a boy in a hoodie and comfortable pants.
And two lovely girls stood on either side of him.
“Honestly, you humans never do change. Is your species unable to live without these selfish desires?”
“Nh, the sea breeze is sticky. I want to get this over with and take a bath with you, Nii-sama. He’s really good at washing hair. I get so sleepy in the bath when he does it.”
“It’s too soon for you, new girlfriend. That’s a special privilege for only me and mother.”
Since the gods and demons of legend existed in the real world with physical bodies, whoever controlled them became the victors of this new age.
So what did that make this boy for having the two strongest and most irregular Unexplored-classes by his side?
He could move between worlds and in some cases even choose to save the dead.
He managed the gates of the underworld and could communicate with gods like Odin, Enma, Hades, and Osiris.
(Well, my life will only last 100 years and I doubt I can overturn even my own death.)
“Iai, any readings?”
“Yes, Nii-sama. Three primary ones. Othinus and the Aoandon from the Divine-class and the Lady of Purple Lightning from the Unexplored-class. And one unidentified one.”
The small girl’s body became translucent at times like this.
Her soul had been resurrected as a human, which had removed the sister’s soul from the Colorless Little Girl, but the empty shell that had left behind had been preserved. So by transferring her soul in a process similar to astral projection, she could swap from being a human to being the Queen killer at any time.
They had reconciled with the twintailed girl dressed in a white battle costume, but her power remained.
The Colorless Little Girl had to periodically release her power or else here mere presence would distort everyone around her.
“Mary, I want to know about the humans too.”
“There are far too many to count. It seems like a decently sized group. Let’s decide what roles to play. I will provide the attack power, so that little thing can lock onto the individual humans and give them barriers so no one dies. Give them each their individual rooms like a honeycomb.”
“Boo, why does the old twintail lady always get to do the fun part?”
“Silence, twerp. You are the Queen killer, remember? Reverse the roles and you would break through my barrier and what good would that be?”
They had a plan.
Once they took action, the entire largescale battle would be over after a count of three, like some kind of magic trick.
The beings designated as Regulation, Divine, or Unexplored-class could now freely move between worlds without a Blood-Sign spelling out their names.
That meant someone who could not be summoned with the Blood-Sign system would be here as well.
“Wisdom must be out there somewhere.”
“And maybe a lot closer than we thought.”
Kyousuke looked down into the harbor district to see two familiar faces: Meinokawa Renge and her twin sister Higan.
There was a third girl nervously running through the dark harbor while they tugged on her slender hand.
He had made the world like this to keep his promise.
“Kyousuke, do you still need to hear the words ‘help me’?”
Mary Ann placed a hand on his shoulder and whispered that question in his ear.
Shiroyama Kyousuke responded with a shake of his head.
And he gave a short reply.
“Not in this new age, no.”
The age of summoners had ended.
He had shaken off all his defeat and guilt.
He was bound by no one now.
So Magician Shiroyama Kyousuke gathered the power of two Unexplored-classes in his wand and ran toward the late-night battlefield.
- Reboot complete.
- Welcome to the Age of Awakening, Administrator.
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