“Oh no it hasn’t.”
From beside me came a level-headed retort. A familiar, gentle voice stroked my ear.
The one there was—
Before I knew it, standing beside me was Orino-san.
As her name implied, she had appeared on the battlefield like a bookmark.
That is to say—stuck in unbeknownst to the characters of the story.
“… Good morning, Kagoshima-kun. I’m sorry, I overslept a bit.”
After saying only that, Orino-san took a step forward to stand before me.
She was dressed peculiarly. A monotone dress with black and white as the keynotes. One I must have seen somewhere before, or so I thought as I probed through my memory. I quickly recalled it.
These were the clothes Yomiga-san wore.
However, the black and white coloring had been reversed.
Like a game’s player two colors, the designs were identical but only the color palette had changed.
But if I had to say, the coloring Orino-san was wearing seemed to be somewhat more fitting. I got the feeling this one was the player one.
I got the feeling this girl was the original.
“Orino… so it was your doing. Surprise attacks are lame.”
Utsurohara-san’s mouth warped as he detestably spat up the words.
It did seem it was Orino-san’s power that sent him flying back there.
And I ended up misunderstanding it as my own power awakening.
Whoa, how embarrassing! I’m so embarrassed I wanna die!
I totally got in over my head there! I was totally up to fight right there!
“I’m never going to forgive you!” or something, I said something really cool!
Ignoring me as I held my head and writhed, Orino-san confronted Utsurohara-san.
“Hah. Looks like you’re finally up. Got six hours of sleep? I don’t know how much sleep’s a necessity, but when people do work, they sleep nice and sound…”
“You think you’re hot shit because you’re the fruit of the Facility’s work? Cage of Death Remnant, was it? An existence born in the Cage called the facility, where countless deaths pile up… To start with, the Facility was being used with the objective of creating you.”
“’n wait, me and you are supposed to be allies, for argument’s sake, you know? I had fun crushing the organization that’s gone and done with as ordered. What design’s led you to launch an attack against me?”
Orino-san didn’t say anything.
Clad in a dignified aura, she stood still where she was.
She was different from usual, I thought.
Her clothes went without saying, but how should I put it, her presence was evidently different from her usual self. Quiet and gentle, and somewhat fleeting.
I knew this atmosphere all too well.
The current Orino-san—closely resembled that childhood friend of mine.
“Ignoring me, eh? Ahh, well whatever. For now, an eye for an eye. Let me smack you.”
Again, Utsurohara-san vanished.
The next instant, he appeared in front of Orino-san.
Movements I could only contemplate as teleportation. According to him, it was psychokinesis at an amazing level, but from my point of view, it was the same thing.
It didn’t change the fact I couldn’t perceive it.
Utsurohara-san swung his fist as he had before.
What had broken Kirako-san before—the psychokinetic fist.
Technique and form were a distant memory.
As if to sneer at all fighting techniques, nothing more than violence.
Utsurohara Gouichiro’s fist—hammered right into the center of the face.
The destructive force of the punch struck into the bridge of the nose was fearsome, and just like that, I thought it might punch straight through. It was a fist with propulsion and penetration power beyond my imagination.
I was worried we might end up with Kinnikuman’s black hole phenomenon.
Of course, while it didn’t pierce through, even so, it dug in enough to put the nose’s height at a negative. I needn’t even mention that the nose broke. Perhaps the cheekbones had a depression fracture.
The might of Utsurohara-san’s fist wasn’t normal after all.
Letting off an unsightly scream rolling on the ground.
The face that ate the blow head-on was visibly left in sorry sight. Its form hollowed in the face of a shape, its visage changed into a distortion. A broken nose dripped endlessly with blood.
The sight was far too painful, and unsightly.
“Uu… aa, aaa… aaaaah.”
Containing their face, writhing around in agony. Squatting on the ground like a hornworm, continuously leaking pained groans.
I was… at a loss for words.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t know what was what.
I looked aside.
Not a step away from where she had been before, she sternly stood where she was. She looked down over a crouching Utsurohara-san with terribly calm eyes.
What Utsurohara-san’s fist stuck unto… was Utsurohara-san’s face.
You might not get what I’m trying to say, but the truth was as it was, so that’s all I could say.
I lament having already brought up Jean Pierre Polnareff. This was the moment I should have used that parody.
What you just saw and touched was—
When I thought Utsurohara-san suddenly appeared before Orino-san, he suddenly smacked his own face. The fist I thought he lowered straight forward suddenly did a complete one-eighty and hammered into the bridge of his nose. With enough force to cave it in.
He completely reaped what he sowed.
And in a sense, played a part in his own demise.
Orino-san hadn’t done anything.
She simply stood there.
“… Guh, aah, b-bitch…”
Holding up his face, he muttered in a cracked voice.
It was common knowledge that a fractured nose would cause a massive nosebleed, and Utsurohara-san was no exception, shedding a vast sway of blood. Try as he may to contain it with his hand, it showed no visible effect.
“… What did, you, do…”
“I didn’t do anything.”
A voice so composed I would call it unnatural.
“I simply wished for it.”
“I simply wished for your own fist to turn on you. That’s all there is to it.”
She wouldn’t explain anymore.
At her far-too-straightforward words,
“… Don’t screw with me!”
Utsurohara-san scattered nose blood as he cried out.
“You may have awakened, but when you get down to it, your power is psychokinesis! The same power as me! I’m sure you’re manipulating the electric signals in my body or something. Like I did with the oxygen before!”
The human body was moved by a feeble electronic current, that was common knowledge even I knew. Something about neurons and synapses, I get the feeling I learned it in biology sometime recently.
Meaning Orino-san manipulated those electrons with psychokinesis to take over Utsurohara-san’s body and redirect it?
Like how Utsurohara-san could control oxygen on a molecular level?
If something like that was possible then, I see, it would be a fearsome ability.
“Hah, ahahahah! When you see the trick, it’s simple! I let my guard down back there, but now I’m going to be on the constant lookout for your psychokinesis. A little grit and such fine manipulations will surely be impossible! Ahahahah!”
His broken nose sprayed blood he laughed.
In regards to Utsurohara-san’s maddened smile, “Wrong,” Orino-san lightly shook her head.
“My power was psychokinesis because this power was incomplete. It was incomplete so it ended up looking that way. My power is—something else entirely.”
She said in a somewhat self-abasing tone.
It was by no means a boastful sort of cadence.
Utsurohara-san rejected her words.
“Panicking because I hit the nail on the head!? No more… I won’t let you off anymore. Kill, kill, kill… I’ll gouge out your guts and play with you like a yo-yo!”
Screaming out in an enraged expression, he held his right hand at the heavens.
And—from top to bottom, he lowered it like lightning.
Even I could tell something had snapped inside of Utsurohara-san. With the vague remaining remnants of his limiter all coming off, he was attempting to draw out power beyond his limit.
To speak from results, I had no idea what he was trying to do.
Was there some terrifying sure-kill move hidden in the world, or some trump card he was concealing? Or could it be, could it be, he still had around three forms left?
I couldn’t say.
The reason being—nothing happened.
“… Aah? Heh?”
Utsurohara-san raised a feeble voice and tried lowering his hand again.
Even so—nothing happened.
A swing and a swing, he repeated the motion a number of times yet the result didn’t change.
“.. Hah? Y-you’ve got to be kidding me. W-what’s happening? Why can’t I use psychokinesis… eeh?”
“You’re not a psychic anymore.”
“I wished it so.”
She repeated the same line as before.
Thrusting out a fact a clear as day.
“… W-w-what does that even mean? The hell are you talking aout…?”
Utsurohara-san’s eyes became the eyes of one looking at some unknown monster.
Those were likely the very same eyes I had been observing him with before.
At this moment, Orino-san was making an existence I could only see as a monster cower, she was threatening him. This was a difference in combat potential that made it even idiotic to use the word combat potential.
In a paper airplane contest, like a jumbo jet was suddenly mixed in—or perhaps, when someone got all stuck up thinking level 99 was the limit, a level 9999 suddenly appeared.
That expression fit spot on with the battle before my eyes.
“Utsurohara-san. Just disappear already. You’re getting to be an eyesore.”
The next instant.
Behind Utsurohara Gouichirou ran a crack.
There wasn’t supposed to be anything behind him, yet a crevice definitely was born. That crack spread without sound, surpassing Utsurohara-san’s height in no time.
The crack faintly opened. Within it—a darkness continuing to eternity.
When he turned, noticing the abnormality behind him, Utsurohara-san simply warped his already muddled face even further as he raised a shriek.
“W-what is, this…! D-don’t screw—”
To escape the crack behind him, he sprinted forward, not a glance to the side.
But—there was Orino-san.
The girl who was standing beside me, for some reason she was there.
At first, I thought it was teleportation.
But I soon knew it was different.
These past few minutes, I had witnessed various paranormal movement skills—for example, Kirako-san’s teleport; for example, Utsurohara-san’s fake teleport through psychokinesis.
But Orino-san’s movement was clearly different from anything they showed.
If I had to say, Kirako-san’s movement came with the ardor, or perhaps preparedness of, “I’m going to move now”. To her, no matter what supernatural power she was using, it was still movement in the end.
And yet Orino Shiori’s movement had nothing.
I didn’t even know if it was ‘movement’ to begin with.
As if to her, her existence being there was merely inevitable, she was naturally there.
In manga terms, if a character was suddenly drawn in later after the fact.
In novel term, a sentence was suddenly inserted after the fact.
It was such an unreasonable, abnormal movement.
Maintaining her silence, Orino-san softly pushed Utsurohara-san on the chest. With that alone, his balance crumbled, making him collapse backwards.
Towards the rift in space—he fell.
“Eh, no wai, eee, u, u, uaaaaaAaaaaa——”
With his death cries mercilessly sealed in the crevice, they completely cut off like the change of a channel.
Utsurohara Gouichirou’s existence had vanished from here.
“… U-umm, is he, dead…?”
“Don’t worry. He’s not dead.”
My monologue was answered by Orino-san, who was already standing beside me. Her movement was too natural, it almost made me hallucinate she was there from the start.
The current Orino-san was far to natural… precisely why something was off.
“That there wasn’t per say a door to hell. It was just a door in time and space. I sent him to a world different from this one. It’s a world where dragons and the such naturally exist, so now that he’s lost his psychokinesis, he might have a hard time making it there, but he needs at least that much punishment.”
… Even if you tell me it’s just a door in time and space…
From my point of view, it was just as hard to imagine as a door to hell would be.
“Kugayama-san’s fine too. She’s already healed.”
At those words, I hurriedly peeked at Kirako-san.
While she was still unconscious, the traces of injury on her body had all banished. The concrete and ground stayed the same, but she alone as if time had been rewound—or perhaps like she hadn’t incurred the injuries from the start, she was completely in her original state.
“… It might be different from healed. There was no treatment or medication or anything like that, I just wished for it”
The voice came with a lonesome ring.
The enemy to defeat gone and Kirako-san’s safety confirmed, I looked at her anew.
Orino-san didn’t try to look me in the eye, she simply faced forward. Her profile was neither laughing nor angry. If I had to say, it wasn’t expressionless, but a natural human expression.
A peculiar emotion enveloped me.
When now she was supposed to be more monstrous than a monster, I didn’t think to be scared. To take it even further, she didn’t look strong in the slightest.
Like god, and yet like a newly born child.
With such a terribly unbalanced state, yet it looked as if there was no greater completion than that in and of itself.
“《Book Marker》. I see you’ve gotten to use it without issue.”
From nowhere in particular, I heard a voice.
“When you get down to it, psychic powers are largely divided between a perception that surpasses the normal senses: ESP, and the power to move things without physical interaction: PK. The representative cases of ESP would have to be x-ray vision and mind reading, while the representative case of PK would be its namesake psychokinesis. However, in the end, as some forms of ESP make use of PK, the classification is merely for convenience’s sake—that’s right. That’s precisely why I turned my attention to PK, meaning psychokinesis.”
Smoothly singing a song, the voice continued on.
“Psychokinesis is the ability to manipulate matter without having to hold it in your hand—to manipulate matter. If you think about it, doesn’t that sound like a terrifying ability? Doesn’t it sound like a power way too omnipotent? For example, manipulate the wind, and you can become a wind user. The atmosphere’s a splendid form of matter. And manipulating the atmosphere means you manipulate fire, a form of combustion reaction. Naturally, you can control the water and earth as well. Haha, one power and you’ve got the four elements as a complete set.”
I heard footsteps.
The sound of leather-soled sandals rubbing against the ground.
“That’s why I thought to try seeing how far that power could be expanded. By following psychokinesis to its logical conclusion, I thought to have it reborn as something else. To make it so what it could manipulate wasn’t restricted to matter, but time, and space, and fate, and cause and effect… couldn’t I create a power to manipulate everything in this world?”
The quiet footsteps gradually closed in.
“The organization was made for that sake, and the one born within it was the Cage of Death Remnant. The ability she holds has surpassed ‘control’ into the power to ‘rule’. Meaning the 《Book Marker》 is the ultimate power of rule. The Cage of Death Remnant is capable of manipulating any and everything to her will.”
Gray hair close to white, and a gray kinagashi close to black.
“Before her, this world is little more than a scribble on paper. It is possible for her to change it however she wants, and if she doesn’t like it, she can throw the paper away and draw something anew. To put it very simply, it’s a power that lets you ‘do anything’.”
The sort of monotone looks that snatched color away from the world.
My childhood friend with slow steps walked all the way up to Orino-san and I.
He made the same smile as ever. Sweet and bitter, after he smiled at me with a smile fitting of him, he shifted his gaze to Orino-san.
I looked over the two of them.
They both clad their body in monotone fashion.
But Orino-san’s distinct white and clack, and his colors where the boundaries were ambiguous seemed somewhat contrastive.
When they were so similar, something wasn’t locking into place.
“How do you feel, ‘Orino-san’? how does it feel to obtain an almighty power surpassing even god?”
Orino-san glared at Kai. In her eyes I could read anger and fear, and just a little hatred.
“Was it your kindness that sent Utsurohara Gouishirou to another world? I was sure you were going to do something more torturous. You really are kind, ‘Orino-san’.”
“… Why. Why did you give Utsurohara-san an order like that!? Putting Kagoshima-kun and Kirako-san through such…!?”
“If I did that, you’d use your powers, right?”
While Kai said it so calmly, Orino-san widened her eyes at a loss for words.
“Unless it’s to protect someone, you’ll never fight with all your power. That is the sort of human Orino Shiori is. And in order to defeat the strongest psychokinesist Utsurohara Gouichirou, you would have no choice but to cling to the powers you’d only just awoken to.”
“You can’t mean…”
His talkative prattle turned Orino-san’s expression pale.
“Meaning my goal was a trial run of the 《Book Marker》. It was for that reason that I kept Utsurohara Gouichirou as the underdog.”
“… So it was all on the palm of your hand?”
“No, I wouldn’t say so. Truth be told, I didn’t intend to drag Akira into it. I’d have the substitute play ‘Orino Shiori’, and as always, without knowing a thing, I intended to keep him as an outsider to these events.”
But, said Kai, looking at me for a moment.
A tired, bitter smile surfaced on his face.
“Akira… saw through it. That Orino Shiori was a fake. I had an inkling in the back of my mind, but I never thought he really would notice. Even if he did, I anticipated it taking a little more time, but for him to notice on day one.”
Yomiga Eri and Orino Shiori’s swap surprise.
I noticed with one look.
Only I ended up noticing.
“From there it was a huge rush to change to the spare plan. Have Utsurohara target Akira, and after waiting for you to awaken from your slumber, to inform you of that truth. Of course, the move to the spare plan was done by the arbitrary judgment of my partner. Albeit, if she didn’t do it, I myself would personally have given the order to Utsurohara.”
While Kai’s composure didn’t crumble, Orino-san looked baffled.
After a few seconds of silence, “… Why did you make me?” in a wrung-out voice Orino-san said.
“Why did you do this? Why… was it me? What exactly… do you want to accomplish?”
It was a quiet exclamation. The sort of shout one gives through their tears. Just a moment ago, she had overwhelmed Utsurohara-san with godlike powers, but now she looked oh so small.
In regards to Orino-san’s expression snapping at him in bitterness, Kai quietly closed his eyes.
“Of course, I’ll tell you everything. It is my responsibility to do so. But before that, can you give me a little time?”
Orino-san asked back with a dubious face. There, Kai opened his eyes and turned to me.
“At the end, I want to talk a bit with Akira. This may be the end, after all.”
Regardless of what I thought on the matter, he roughly gripped my hand.
In her surprise, Orino-san called for him to halt, but Kai didn’t stop.
“Let’s settle this, Akira. Everything between us.”
And Kai took me off somewhere.
It was the first time I ever experienced being spirited away.