Chapter 29

“Naomi,” Akira said tersely, “please tell me you can do something about that colony.”

“You don’t need me for that,” Naomi pointed out. “You have two Gundams.”

“The Sazabi is not a Gundam,” Kiyoshi started to complain, “it’s—”

“That’s not important,” Naomi cut him off. “Go push that colony back into orbit.”

Demo, our thrusters aren’t powerful enough to achieve escape velocity,” Jin pointed out.

“You’re telling me these things are powerful enough to push asteroids, but not powerful enough to launch themselves into space?” Naomi asked.

“The Gundam didn’t push the asteroid,” Kiyoshi explained, “the psycho-field did.”

“And you have two Gundams with psychoframes,” Naomi told him. “You can generate a psycho-field.”

“The field might collapse once we travel too far from the GINZUISHOU,” Kiyoshi mused, “but it’s worth a shot. Jin-san, do you think you can handle it? Inside the field, you may experience others’ emotions more intensely than normal. You’ll have to be strong.”

“I—shikatanai,” Jin answered. “It’s better than dying.”

“There are other newtypes you could switch with,” Kiyoshi explained. “If you don’t think you can sustain the field, there’s no shame in saying so. You’ll be putting everyone at risk otherwise.”

“We don’t have much time,” Akira cautioned.

“I can do it,” Jin asserted, doing her best to sound confident.

Kiyoshi could sense fear behind that confidence, but he wasn’t sure if it was hers, or if she was sympathizing with the fear she was feeling not only from the citizens of Neo Crystal Tokyo, but from the soldiers of the Soviet Expedition as well. He wasn’t unfamiliar with feeling fear from large groups of people—the goshujin tended to inspire fear in the populace—but this was orders of magnitude more powerful than anything he had ever felt. Knowing that Jin was more sensitive to the feelings of others than he was, and yet she was piloting the Gundam well, he knew that she had the inner strength to maintain the psycho-field. However, if she kept her own emotions under guard, the two of them wouldn’t be able to establish a psycho-field in the first place. He needed to get her out of her shell, without her being aware he was doing it.

“Prove it,” he challenged her. “Shin no chikara misete miyo.”

Tsumannyai!” Fuku complained, tugging at Momo’s hair. “Let’s play, Momo-obasan.” Momo was doing her best to ignore her niece, even as the girl hung onto her shoulders, and stay on alert.

“Goshujin-sama, please take her,” Momo requested moments later. She had heard something in the mansion. The safe room’s CCTV monitors didn’t show anything, but she knew she had heard it. Fuku wasn’t fond of Erika, but she didn’t resist as Erika pulled her away from Momo, who pressed a button on a panel on the wall, sliding the inner door open.

Momo stepped quickly into the anteroom, knowing that the outer door and the inner door would not open at the same time, and if the outer door had already opened and shut, she would have heard it. However, the inner door wouldn’t stay open for long, and once it closed, if the outer door opened, she could be in danger. She drew her blade and strained her cat ears. There was definitely someone outside. Someone who was doing their best to remain silent. “All clear,” Momo called out. “I’m coming back.” The inner door opened once more, and Momo stepped, audibly but not loudly, back into the safe room, but before the door could swing shut, she bounded silently back into the anteroom and held her breath, staying as quiet as possible. After the door closed behind her, a very quiet scraping noise sounded from the location of the control panel on the other side of the outer door.

A minute later, the outer door slid open about an inch, and a tall figure peeked into the room. Momo thrust her sword through the gap but hit nothing, and then the outer door opened completely, and a flurry of knives, forks, and coasters flew into the room. Momo dodged out of the way, deflecting a few of them in the process, and pressed herself against the wall.

“Close the outer door!” Momo shouted, but before she finished speaking, a meido, almost as tall as Naomi, bounded into the anteroom. A quiet hiss escaped from Momo as she took in her assailant. She was an adult nekomimi, larger and visibly stronger than Momo, with a cloth mask covering the bottom half of her face, and she was wearing the uniform of the defense minister’s meido.

As fast as Aina could run, she was slowly falling behind the magical girls as they flew to the northeast. While they travelled in a straight line, Aina was constrained by the layout of the city. She couldn’t help but long to be flying with them, free from the obstacles on the ground.

Once Koharu had decided to try to interfere with Naomi’s plan, Aina had debated with herself whether or not she should warn Naomi. It was unlikely that the magical girls would be able to stop Naomi, and she didn’t want to face Naomi’s anger afterwards. At the same time, she didn’t want to make an enemy of Koharu, and it was quite possible Naomi was already expecting the mahou shoujo.

Aina’s phone rang, and she welcomed the distraction from her internal debate.

“Ainya,” Diaho’s voice came as soon as she answered the call. Although he was trying to hide it, she could hear concern in his voice. “Nyani’s your situation?”

“The Crystal Palace is secure,” Aina reported, “but three Soviet mahou shoujo escaped, and I don’t know doko they went. I’m coming to meet up with you.”

“Can you check the mansion on the way here? I can’t get through to them, and they missed their last check-in.”

“On it,” Aina confirmed. “I’ll check in in jyuu minutes.” Reluctantly, she peeled off from the magical girls and made for the mansion as quickly as she could.

Koharu and her ragtag team spotted the Gundam and the Sazabi before they spotted Naomi. The two mecha were encased in a powerful green aura, which was slowly lifting them into the air. Then, without warning, they accelerated, rising high into the sky. Scanning the area, Koharu spotted Naomi, seemingly standing around doing nothing.

“Shousa,” her subordinate interrupted. “Bogies at three o’clock.” Koharu craned her head to spot the surviving Soviet magical girls flying towards them, their palms turned upward.

“Peace,” the Soviets called out.

“Stay here,” Koharu ordered. “I’ll see what they want.” She took off towards the Soviets shouting, “Naze do you want peace?”

“We’re all in the same boat now,” one of the Soviets asserted. “You heard Naomi’s offer to the GINZUISHOU?”

“Of course,” Koharu answered.

“The whole world heard it,” the Soviet told her. “The Central Committee decided she’s too great a threat to leave alive, and has set the MIR-14 battle colony on a collision course with this city. We have only minutes before it begins to deorbit, but if we can kill Naomi before then, they will have no reason to sacrifice the colony.”

“Do you realize how crazy that sounds?” Koharu asked. “Not only to kill Naomi-sama, but to do it in the next few minutes?”

“If we’re going to die anyway, I’d rather die trying to save the people.”

“We could flee,” Koharu suggested. “We’re powerful enough to teleport to safety.”

“That’s not an option for us,” the Soviet explained, turning her back to Koharu and lifting her hair, revealing a large bump at the base of her skull. “It’s a bomb. And this is your city. Would you really abandon it?”

“I’ll back you up,” Koharu said reluctantly, summoning the Avenging Javelin into her hands. “Demo, if it goes badly, I will abandon you, and this machi, to your fates.”

“We did it, Jin-san!” Kiyoshi exclaimed. “We made it to uchuu, And the psycho-field is intact!” Jin could feel his joy so strongly that it almost overwhelmed her. The effect was symmetrical, and he got a painful shock of Jin’s trepidation when she spotted the MIR-14 battle colony approaching. It was large, and it was moving very quickly.

“We can’t catch that,” Jin gasped. “We’ll be smashed to bits.”

“We have to try,” Kiyoshi said, summoning all his determination. “The psycho-field will protect us.”

“OK,” Jin exhaled, and the two of them moved towards the colony. Without communicating verbally, they flew in perfect formation, raising their mecha’s arms in sync to catch the colony. As the colony slammed into them, the psycho-field altered reality, and they traveled along with the colony, as if they had matched its velocity. They urged the field to push back, and slowly, the colony began to decelerate.

“We’re doing it,” Kiyoshi said optimistically, still unsure if it was decelerating fast enough. As if in response to his worry’s the colony’s thrusters fired up, and it began to accelerate once more. “Hold fast,” Kiyoshi grunted. “This colony has been abandoned for centuries. It can’t have that much fuel left.”

But the colony kept accelerating, and fear overtook them. That fear, however, strengthened the psycho-field, and they pushed back harder, adrenaline coursing through their bodies. Once again, the colony decelerated, even with the thrusters at full force.

“It’s working, but we’re losing altitude,” Jin observed. “It’s not enough. At this rate, the colony will still hit Chikyuu.”

The Avenging Javelin travelled downward at incredible speed, but Naomi snatched it from the air as if it were nothing. At the same time, the Soviet magical girls attacked Naomi from three directions, beams of magic impacting uselessly against her body. Summoning golden hammers and sickles, they rushed towards her. Naomi threw the javelin at one of them, but Koharu teleported it back to her hand. Even so, Naomi was able to draw her sword and cut down one of the magical girls, dodging the other two as they flew past.

“TIME ALTER—DOUBLE ACCEL” the other two Soviets shouted out, racing towards Naomi even faster. The result, however, was the same. As they passed by her, Naomi cut another one out of the air.

“TIME ALTER—TRIPLE ACCEL” the last remaining magical girl cried. This time, she was fast enough to parry Naomi’s strike. “TIME ALTER—”

“ZA WARUDO!” Naomi interrupted. The next instant, the Soviet lay dead.

“How about you?” Naomi called up to Koharu. “Still want to finish what you started?”

“Not particularly,” Koharu replied.

“That’s a nice toy you have there,” Naomi said, referring to the Avenging Javelin. “What does it do?”

“It slays my teki,” Koharu said coldly.

“That doesn’t help me,” Naomi said, sounding disappointed.

“Doesn’t help you with what?” Koharu asked, narrowing her eyes.

“I’m looking for something very specific,” Naomi told her, “but I don’t know exactly what it is. I’m sure it has something to do with anime. I’ve actually spent a lot of time watching anime and reading manga, trying to figure out where it might be hidden. Fifty whole years.” Naomi was rambling now, but Koharu didn’t stop her. “It’s just that I find it so incredibly boring. I don’t know what these weebs see in it. And it’s nonsensical. I couldn’t understand half of what I watched or read, so I may have passed right over it.”

“Is it a buki?” Koharu asked. She wasn’t sure what kind of weapon would make Naomi stronger, but whatever it was, it was too dangerous to allow anyone to get their hands on.

“Possibly, but not necessarily. It could be any kind of object, or even an abstract concept. The important part is that it’s been protected by the GINZUISHOU for the last fifty years.”

“The machi?” Koharu guessed.

“No, not that kind of protection. What’s your favorite anime?”

Nichijou, I guess. Never really thought about it.”

“A comedy anime,” Naomi mused. “That doesn’t fit your serious personality.”

“I think anime is best when it’s an escape from your normal life.”

“Hmm, if only I knew whether he felt the same way. I could use that to narrow my search. “What about manga? Video games? Which ones do you like?”

“I—Naze should I help you?”

“I’m going to find what I want eventually, and the quicker I do, the quicker you can go free.” Koharu had been so absorbed in her surreal conversation with Naomi that she hadn’t realized she had been trapped. An invisible barrier surrounded her, preventing her from moving too far in any direction or from teleporting away. She cast her most powerful barrier-breaking spell, but it fizzled before it fully formed. “If you struggle too much, I’ll have to kill you. I’d hate to do that. You’ve been a good ally to Mme Aina, and whatever happens today, I hope you’ll continue to be useful to her. Now, are you going to be useful to me?”

“I can’t really help you if you’re not going to tell me what you’re looking for.”

“I suppose not. Thankfully, the GINZUISHOU is still sending me all of its knowledge. What I’m looking for is bound to be in there somewhere. I’m going to start time flowing again so that I can continue to receive that information. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice that either? During the ZA WARUDO stand, I set up a more permanent time stop around the two of us so we could have this conversation. Do let me know if you think of anything useful.”

Time continued and Koharu waited in silence, completely at Naomi’s mercy. Within her barrier, she was able to look around and see the rest of her allies captured just as she was. They were shouting at her, but she couldn’t hear them. She couldn’t hear anything but Naomi’s voice, but Naomi wasn’t continuing their conversation. She was exchanging banter with someone, or perhaps multiple someones, and occasionally commenting on the Soviet division attacking the city, or the colony about to drop on it. And time stopped again.

“It looks like they may not be able to stop the colony,” Naomi said gravely, “which means I don’t have as much time as I thought. You will help me, and I won’t ask nicely.”

“Alright,” Koharu said evenly. “Nani do you want to know?”

“Let’s start with powerful things. Our GINZUISHOU is loosely inspired by the Ginzuishou from Sailor Moon. It was powerful enough to make Sailor Moon queen of the entire world. Now, what’s more powerful than that? In any anime, manga, or game you can think of.”

“There’s the Seihai,” Koharu offered.

“Nice try, but I know that to be a trap. Do you want to die? If I fail here, you’ll be crushed by that colony. I, however, will escape.”

“The Soviets thought you were a danger to the world. If it will foil your plan, maybe it’s better to let the city go. The GINZUISHOU can’t feed you information if it doesn’t exist.”

“The GINZUISHOU will eventually re-form. Even if it takes me another fifty years, I will get what I’m looking for. You’ll gain nothing and millions will die. And besides, believe it or not, my plan isn’t dangerous. Not to most people anyway.”

“What could you want that isn’t dangerous to most—Masaka, you want to restore Paris?”

“Not the Paris of old, but a new Paris.”

“Viva Neo Paris?” Koharu laughed. “That’s just a pipe dream of armchair revolutionaries. It could never last. Surely you aren’t that big of a fool.”

“When everything around you is foolish, you have no choice but to—That’s it!”

Time started again. All around them, people began to float into the air. Mostly meido, but also Akira and Diaho, were caught in Naomi’s barriers.

“Those of you who are bound to me, I summon you,” Naomi bellowed. Nine columns of light appeared around Naomi, fading into the forms of Akira’s nine gynoids. As Naomi turned slowly, looking each of them in the eyes, she began to sing.

Tamago no kara wo yaburaneba
Hinadori wa umarezu ni shinde yuku
Warera ga hina da
Tamago wa sekai da

(If it cannot break its egg’s shell
A chick will die without being born
We are the chick
The world is our egg)

Naomi stopped turning, locking her eyes on Kazue, who stepped forward haltingly, as if moving involuntarily. As she walked towards Naomi, she too began to sing.

Sekai no kara wo yaburaneba
Warera wa umarezu ni shinde yuku

(If we don’t crack the world’s shell
We will die without being born)

Akira banged his fists on the side of his barrier, shouting at Naomi to stop, but the sound didn’t pass through the barrier. Kazue reached Naomi, taking her outstretched hand, and the two sang together.

Sekai no kara wo hakai se yo!

(Smash the world’s shell!)

Holding Kazue tightly, Naomi dipped the gynoid back, and a glowing orb appeared above her chest. The other eight gynoids took up the song.

Sekai wo kakumei suru tameni
Sekai wo kakumei suru tameni

(For the revolution of the world)

They continued to repeat the line as the hilt of the Sword of Dios emerged from the orb above Kazue’s chest. Naomi grabbed it firmly, pulling it from the gynoid and lifting it above her head. As the light of the sun glinted off the blade, Naomi once again made a pronouncement that the entire world could hear.

Shizenhou wo kakumei suru chikara wo!”