“I’ll also order one, an espresso.” While sitting down next to Yuuki, that person spoke. “Normally, I don’t have a chance to try something like this. I pretty much exclusively drink tea after all. But, our situations are a little different than usual, so I thought I’d try it out. I want to enjoy the atmosphere.”
A splendid head of black hair that stood out in a foreign country. Adding on to that, she wore a vivid scarlet kimono.
The woman is Kirishima Haruko.
“Ah. I’ll say this first.” Resting chin on her hand, she took in the view of the harbor laid out before us and gave a warning. “Don’t move, Onii-sama. I do believe you’ve noticed, but just in case.”
It was just as she said.
He perceived them the instant his sister had appeared.
He understood exactly why his sister had appeared in a place like this.
There’s no way she would act without any preparation nor without a chance of victory. In reality, directing his awareness towards his surroundings, he could feel a number of suspicious presences. They all focused their gazes upon Yuuki.
It would not be wrong to say that they were surrounded. He imagines that there is easily a skillful sniper with their aim on him as well.
Getting a grasp on the situation, Yuuki let out a small sigh.
“…You joined hands with the Tsukumo organization?”
Yuuki derived an answer in the span of a few seconds.
“Yes.” A clear affirmation was given in response. “There was no other way. It was a bitter decision. For me to be forced to pick such a dull method really makes life seem stupid.”
Their espressos were brought over.
For such a store to be open during a time like this, the owner is might also be one of Haruko’s minions. No, rather, it would be more natural to think that way.
“For now.” Yuuki also looked over the portside scenery. “I would like to bow down and apologize.”
“Of course. You wouldn’t forgive me with just something like that.”
“No. That’s not it.” She shook her head. “I should be the one to bow down and apologize. When I betrayed Onii-sama, that was the moment that I deserved certain death.”
“…You really don’t change.”
“That’s the type of creature I am. Now, and in the past. It’ll probably stay the same forever. I will forever only live for you, Onii-sama.”
“I see. Thanks.”
“It’s probably too late for you to care at this point, but I’ll reveal it to you.” While gently shaking the cup of espresso, Haruko revealed an important fact. “There’s a tracker, buried within your body.”
“Well, I thought that would be the case. Otherwise, it can’t really be explained.”
“It was insurance that I had no intention of using. In truth, I have never actually used it once until this point. It was really hard to resist the temptation to use it, you know? After all, I’m a little sister who always, always wants to stalk her older brother.”
“…You really never change.”
“That’s the type of existence I am.”
While boasting, Haruko put the cup of coffee to her lips. She then stuck her tongue out in disgust due to the bitterness.
“Now then,” Haruko set down the cup after just a lick. She didn’t look Yuuki in the eye. Not once ever since she appeared. “At this point, everything will come to an end, but will you listen to a complaint of mine?”
“Onii-sama, you’re unfair.” Haruko declared.
Her words held no sharpness. Rather, she seemed indifferent, as if she was reminiscing about a sports tournament that ended over 100 years ago, “You know that destruction awaited you, and yet you still took action. You pushed the role of stopping it onto some other person. You threw away your calm, no, you acted like you threw it out, and decided not to shoulder that responsibility yourself.”
“I won’t let you say that you didn’t notice it. If it’s you, Onii-sama, you should have noticed it.”
“The system that the white-haired woman is a part of—about the way this world works.”
Yuuki scratched his head.
His silence and gestures revealed the truth. Haruko’s statement hit the mark.
“That woman takes in all the negativity of the world and brings it within herself to purify it, just like a sewage treatment facility—it isn’t wrong as a way to describe it in this way. That side of the facts is certain. She really is praiseworthy. Thanks to Kanaruzawa Sekai, thanks to her fulfilling her duty, this world is able to maintain its balance. Nothing can express the full amount of gratitude that should be given. That’s what I truly believe.”
“However, this is one issue. What would happen if sewage treatment were to stop functioning? What would happen at that time?”
The wind blew.
Something grainy and dusty could be felt through the nose.
“Volcano ash.” Tracing with her finger on the table, Haruko spoke. “It’s from a volcano eruption quite a ways from here. It’s something that flies pretty far. By the way, impacted by that eruption, the air over here has become pretty much stagnant.”
“Southeast Asia has just been hit directly with the largest magnitude earthquake in history, but the western hemisphere of the Pacific Ocean was also hit with an earthquake of the same magnitude. Off-season typhoons and hurricanes are also occurring in an unweakened state. Within the North American continent many rivers have flooded everywhere. Already, millions of people have died.”
“Within all these circumstances, humans are taking it quite casually. Various wars have started around the world. I’m not talking about small conflicts like riots or civil wars, but large wars that involve the full military might of large countries. There are already many casualties and refugees, and the UN has already thrown in the towel. The permanent members of the UN are already fighting after all. I believe that it’s only a matter of time before nuclear weapons are used.”
Yuuki licked his cup which almost had no espresso left.
It wasn’t to the point where he would mimic Haruko, but it was still excessively bitter. After hiding away from the world for a little while, he was ill-informed about world events—No, he succeeded in becoming ill-informed. Opening the lid reveals the reality that was somewhat cold. It has reached the point where it was impossible to ignore.
“Onii-sama, is Kanaruzawa Sekai-san doing well?” His sister’s hold on him did not loosen. “No, I know even without you saying anything. She is without a doubt doing well. She has probably returned to being as healthy as she ever was. Otherwise, things would not be consistent. This world and Kanaruzawa Sekai are two sides of the same coin after all.”
“Originally, that person’s body would have been incurable no matter what operation or rehabilitation was to be used. Of course, right? She was forced to face all the negativity within this world all by herself, you know? It’s more reckless than trying to cure cancer with simple cold medicine. And yet, that person recovered. It used to take great effort just for her to take a step, and now she’s lively as can be. On the other hand, the world that we live in has become messed up. In just this short amount of time, our planet has fallen apart. Disasters the size that might come once every hundred years are now flying off shelves as if they were on a bargain sale. It’s also only a matter of time before World War III begins.”
“It’s probably out of control at this point.” While running her finger over the cup handle, Haruko lay out her conclusion. “There’s no way to stop something that has been released all at once after being held back for so long. It’s about time to settle the bill, so to speak. Measures to prolong it can probably be put in place, but it’ll probably all end in a futile effort. The world has been made in this way after all.”
At that moment.
A bright light lit up the area. After a slight delay, a rumbling sound occurred.
It came from the monastery—after understanding that, Yuuki’s face paled, and as if predicting this would happen, Haruko called out to him and inserted the final stake.
“Onii-sama, please don’t move. I implore you.”
“…What are you planning on doing?” Yuuki sat back down and forcefully calmed himself. He then calmly asked. “What do you want to do, Haruko? Why did you go out of your way to come all the way here?”
“Do you want to bring me back?”
“No. That would be useless.”
“It’s not like you want to apologize either, right?”
“Yes. That would also be useless.”
“Then, what is it?”
“Let’s see. If I had to put it into words—” Haruko stretched her arms. She had refreshed expression as if she had just gotten something off her shoulders. “If I had to put it into words I wanted to try being a heavy woman. You could say that I’m already quite heavy as it is, however. Ah, I’m not talking about weight, let me just say that first.”
“What are you talking about?”
“As you’ve surmised, this place is surrounded by people under my orders. Snipers are also placed to cover all directions, and every one of them is awaiting my orders.”
Without replying, Haruko called the owner of the store to order some black tea.
Then, she spoke indifferently, “Their aim isn’t on you, Onii-sama. Rather, it’s on me.”
“With just a single word, I’ll probably riddled with holes like a beehive. They’re men that I trained from the ground up. They’ll follow any order I give them. Killing their master is just a simple matter.”
“…What are you thinking?”
“It’s really quite simple.”
Zuun. The earth shook once again.
“Me or Kanaruzawa Sekai. Please pick one of us.”
“If you leave me and go to her, I will die here.”
Don, don, something that sounded like bombardment could be heard for a little while now.
Flashes of light came poking out of the thunderclouds, lighting up the portside town.
“I’ll choose Kanaruzawa.” His response was immediate. “It’s something that’s already been decided. I’ll protect her with my life. I have to do that. No matter what happens.”
Haruko nodded easily.
It was as if she knew from the beginning that an answer would be immediate and that she knew the contents of the answer.
“So I’ve been rejected. Well, it’s not strange in any way though.”
“Sorry for being such a brother.”
“No. I like this part of Onii-sama after all.”
Yuuki set the cup of espresso on the table.
He stood up from his seat and declared. “Then, I’ll be going.”
“Have a safe trip.”
With a short exchange of words, Yuuki left the area.
Haruko didn’t watch him as he left. It was like that ever since she arrived. Never once did her brother appear within her field of view.
“I know that this was all a farce.” Placing her chin on her hand, she muttered to no one in particular. “I never once thought that there was any meaning in all of this. But, I had no choice but to do it. That’s the type of person I am after all.”
She continued to act in such a way but was never rewarded. How many times did this repeat itself?
It really feels like it has repeated itself in this way forever. It would even continue within her dreams. The same could probably be said about their previous lives. That’s probably why she always has a strange sense of nostalgia.
She doesn’t think of it as unfortunate. However, she was slightly tired.
A cup of black tea was placed in front of her.
Within the continuous sounds of the earth shaking and of explosions, the mellow smell that wafted from the cup was unexpectedly good. It seems that tea leaves that fit Haruko’s tastes were used.
After enjoying the smell, she took a sip.
“As expected, this is still the best.”
She nodded full of satisfaction. Then, she raised one hand, before waving it down.
The sound of a gunshot mixed into the rest.
Fresh blood scattered across the open terrace.
A heavy thud shook the air, the time within the port town stopped.