Before getting underway once more, my thanks to anyone who favorited and opted to follow since posting Chapter 6. And as before, to any who choose to follow without checking the box; welcome aboard, too.
This will be the final installment of this particular story. Responses to Reviews will follow the end of the actual chapter.
For the last time with respect to this story; except for any original characters and situations introduced within this story, all characters and situations depicted herein are © KAZUMA KAMACHI/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/PROJECT-INDEX.
Chapter 7 – A Neighbor Confirms His Return and Maidens On A Mission Make A Brief Stop-Over.
January 5 of the current year – Touma's smartphone gave notice of an incoming call at the Kamijou Residence. Othinus, who was at the moment closer to the phone, observed the Caller ID notice, before speaking: "It seems, human, that your former dorm neighbor is calling."
"Well, at least that confirms he's still alive. At the same time, that could be either good or bad, knowing him as I do." remarked Touma, as he interrupted his breakfast to reach for the phone and answer the call, putting the phone into hands-free mode." As indicated, it was indeed Tsuchimikado Motoharu.
"Yo, Kami-Yan!" Tsuchimikado called out, in his usual fashion.
"Guess some things never change." replied Touma, adding: "I figured you'd make contact with me sooner or later, so long as you're still alive. By chance did you also contact Komoe-sensei; she was worried about you when you didn't return with us from England?"
"Business before pleasure, as the saying goes … but, after I deal with one or two certain things, I'll allay our cute sensei's concerns over yours truly, nya." responded Tsuchimikado.
"So, is this a purely social call, or is something going on?" asked Touma.
"You catch on rather quick, Kami-Yan." was Tsuchimikado's answer. "It's more, as you put it, social than anything else right now, but I figured you should be on notice of something that seems to be stirring."
"You don't say." remarked Touma. "Well, Othi-chan is here with me, so let's hear about it, then."
"Well, my regards to the former Magic God, then." intoned Tsuchimikado, before continuing. "Simply put, the Rosicrucian Order have been steadily becoming more visible, as of roughly the time of Academy City's shutdown."
Othinus seemed to pause at that revelation, but said nothing for the moment.
"Naturally, I can't say I'm familiar with the name. I've never heard Index or anyone else from the Anglican Church talk about them before." was Touma's reply. "How concerned should we be about this Order?"
"It's hard to tell, nya." came back Tsuchimikado. "Rosicrucians are one of the oldest of Western-based magical societies, if not the oldest. Skipping the details for now, many Western magical groups have their origin somehow linked to the Rosicrucians; even the cabal currently headed by your wanna-be little sister, Leivinea Birdway. Traditionally, the Order has been content to stay out of sight, but that has not deterred them in the past from influencing events, if and when they chose to."
"And how about any motive this Order may operate with?" asked Touma.
"Anyone's guess, to be honest." was Tsuchimikado's answer. "Even yours truly currently has no idea what seems to have caused them to stir as they have recently been doing, or for what purpose. All I or anyone else can do for the moment is to observe them, when they are visible."
"Does anyone over in England know about this Order, as you're telling me right now?" asked Touma.
"Now that you mention it, no … at least not from me." replied Tsuchimikado. "Perhaps you could take this as a reason to contact Index-san. Just maybe, she can dig up some more facts about the Order, that might give a clearer sign regarding what they're up to, nya."
"Well, I do have contact info for some folks over at Necessarius, probably the same as when we sought to contact Ollerus-san back then. Plus I got a video mail from Index. Guess I can put either of those to use shortly." stated Touma.
"I'll leave that to you in due course, Kami-Yan." answered Tsuchimikado. "Well, I have other things to deal with, so before I sign off, I'll trust you to give my regards to Index and company, when you do contact them."
"We'll do as you suggest." said Touma. "In the interim, and as sempai suggested, perhaps we can trust you to stay out of trouble."
"On the other hand, living what others consider to be a dangerous life can be quite stimulating. No worries; I've made it this far … I've my own reasons to stick around. See you soon, Kami-Yan." replied Tsuchimikado.
"Likewise." responded Touma, as the call was terminated.
"Interesting to say the least." commented the former Magic God. "I don't claim deep knowledge about the Rosicrucian Order myself, but what your neighbor stated does coincide with what I already know. Also, even as he engineered the divide between Magic and Science, indications are that Aleister Crowley also sowed seeds of mistrust and animosity among various magical groups around the world … possibly a contingency to lessen the chance of a united front from the Magic Side one day coming after him. Whether he used his so-called Archetype Controller to do so, or employed other means, even I can't say."
"Looks like, even though he's gone, Crowley's influence is still present. It's likely anyone's guess how far that influence has spread, or if ever we all might one day be free of it." replied Touma. "Still, and as Tsuchimikado said, it's a reason to consult Index, so I'll send an e-mail, like we did last time, either to lock down the best time for a live video call, or whether to discuss the matter strictly via e-mail."
Even as Touma composed that e-mail, Othinus then asked: "Has there been any word so far from Kumokawa-san regarding your possibly meeting with her, Mitsuari-san and Shokuhou-san?"
Before Touma could reply, a notification sound emanated from his phone, even as he sent the message to England. Manipulating his phone at that point, it is revealed that an e-mail from Seria had indeed arrived in his inbox.
"Not bad timing, Othi-chan." remarked Touma, even as he opened the incoming e-mail and browsed its contents, before continuing: "Seems they're going to pass through Yokohama Station later today. They're going to switch trains, giving themselves about an hour within which we can meet them. I guess we can make that work."
"Well then, I'll leave it to you to confirm things accordingly." stated Othinus. "Are they planning to come here, or do we go to meet them."
"Since they're adjusting their schedule for this, it's probably fair that we meet them half-way, literally. And luckily, I've the funds to get us there and back, without it costing too much." replied Touma. With that, a reply e-mail was composed and sent, regarding their meeting in a few hours time.
Later on that day, the location has switched to Yokohama Station in Kanagawa Prefecture. Winter has indeed set in, but at least today, there was only very light snowfall taking place. People were dressed more against the cold, according to their individual temperament. During that interval, one of Japan's world-famous "bullet trains" arrived from its original starting point in Tokyo, with various passengers disembarking or embarking, before it continued on to its next scheduled destination. Among those who disembarked were three young ladies, suitably attired for the prevailing weather conditions. Once having cleared the platform, one of them took out her phone, and proceeded to enter a message:
Kumokawa Seria: "We've arrived at the station, my kouhai. Where are you precisely?"
Within the space of ten seconds, she received a reply.
Kamijou Touma: "We're inside the main building. Othi-chan and I are holding a booth for us inside one of the cafes." … giving the name of the particular establishment, which was one of many.
"Right." Seria called out to her traveling companions, "they've been located; let's go."
Moments later, and following the directions given, Seria, Mitsuari Ayu and Shokuhou Misaki entered the particular cafe. One of the waitresses, on being given the name: "Kamijou", brought them to the booth, located more or less to the rear of the shop. After everyone was seated, orders were placed, generally for one's choice of hot or warm drink (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.), plus a portion of nikuman. Once the waitress had departed with their orders, Othinus came out of hiding within Touma's jacket.
"Ehhh, no doubt this lurking in the shadows might be a bit bothersome to you, Othinus-san." inquired Ayu, as the former Magic God for the moment took her usual place upon Touma's right shoulder.
"It is, at times," Othinus replied, "but based on the message we got regarding your schedule, we decided there wasn't time on this occasion to assemble at his home. So I'll put up with this sort of thing where necessary."
After drinks and snacks had arrived, things got more or less underway.
"Like I said earlier," stated Touma, "we could talk in detail about all that happened in England another time. For now, I'm seeking advice on how or what to tell my parents about it, as it's possible they may ask me what I was doing over there. Also, there is the issue of whether to mention anything at all, regarding what has happened to me in the City over the last six months, or even the nine years I've been there."
"Do you feel there's a high enough chance they will ask about that?" asked Seria.
"It's just a hunch for now," answered Touma, "but given its potential implications, it's risky to try and come up with an answer on the spot. And, thanks to a certain photograph my father sent me in one of his e-mails, the subject of my being in England might at least come up. And if he doesn't ask about it, I suspect my mother will, especially if she's seen it."
"Ohhhh, … your mother's likely reaction ability is something you males just might not understand in a hurry, my Prince. And as for a certain photograph, ..." Misaki interjected, even as cat-like grins appeared on each of the girls' faces.
It took about three seconds before a little switch clicked in Touma's mind, followed by his muttering: "You three have somehow seen that photograph, haven't you?"
Almost immediately, the ladies raised their phones together displaying the photograph in question; namely, that of Touma carrying Orsola.
"Oi." groaned Touma, pausing to massage his temples. "Did I hope too soon that misfortune was finally a thing of the past?"
"There, there, human." Othinus intoned, gently patting Touma on his cheek. "If we think calmly and clearly, something will surely work out."
"Perhaps I should explain." Misaki spoke again in a more gentle tone. "Briefly, I was there with Misaka-san, when someone … I'm guessing her father … having seen you exercising your heroic ability in London, took this photo, and sent it to her. Possibly, only Misaka can tell whether her driving motivation to go to England was to check on her father's safety, or to check on any meaning behind what the photo displayed."
"And by your tone of voice, Misaki-san, you all no doubt want to 'check for any meaning', also." responded Touma in a rather deadpan expression.
"Mmm-hmmm." replied all three ladies, leaning in a bit closer, as the booth's space would permit.
Touma took a moment to clear his throat, before speaking again: "Okay … to keep it short: her name is Orsola Aquinas, a Roman Catholic nun and currently affiliated with the Church Of England. She somehow got controlled by one of those magical items that was wreaking havoc all over London. As I understood it, if she wasn't freed from it, it would sooner or later have killed her. With Othi-chan's guidance, I was able to free her, In fact, Othi-chan is my one and only witness regarding all that took place."
"True." chipped in Othinus in a snarkish tone, "although you can't help Index's and the others' collective reaction when you exited an underground passage onto a London street at night, carrying a rather scantily-clad maiden in your arms."
"And she's getting nothing less than the 'princess carry' … nice one, Touma-san." cut in Ayu teasingly.
"What worries me right now is how you all got this photo … granted I can't say I've met Misaka's father, so I have no idea of anyone being present out there that night." asked Touma. "And is that photo circulating in places where it will do me more harm than good?"
"Let's just say that it required some high-level negotiation ability, concerning some rare Gekota paraphernalia, that eventually convinced Misaka to share that photo with me." was Misaki's response.
"Rest easy, my kouhai; the three of us have kept that photo to ourselves." came in Seria at that point, "But it's not altogether impossible that either your father or even Misaka-san's father might have sent the photo to others we don't know about."
Sighing, Touma spoke up: "Well, no point worrying about that now. If that turns out to be the case, I'll just have to deal with it then. By the way, just how did you all explain to family and friends outside Academy City about the shutdown and evacuation?"
"Short Answer … Cyber-Terrorism." replied Seria. "In a bit more detail, one or more as-yet unknown persons launched a cyber-attack on the I.T. systems of Academy City, and managed to disrupt normal operations. For the safety of the City's inhabitants, the population was evacuated and the City's infrastructure shut down via emergency means to prevent further disruption or possible injury to its inhabitants. For now, officials are working with the theory that the person or persons behind the attack had some inside knowledge of the City's I.T. systems, so as to manage to bypass its security … something like that's the general explanation."
"Hmm, … my limited knowledge of Science notwithstanding, I can see how that might work with the average person outside of the City." remarked Othinus. "It's likely more acceptable than telling them that a thousand-year-old-plus demonic creature from another dimension, bound to this world over a hundred years ago via a magical contract, finally moved to kill a former magic-user who had all but renounced magic."
"Yep, … psychiatrists and psychologists would have an interesting time with anyone who gave that as an explanation, even if it's probably much closer to the actual truth." commented Misaki.
"But that still leaves Touma-san with a little problem … how to explain what he was doing in England." remarked Ayu.
"Not to worry; 'Sempai' believes she has that covered." responded Seria. "Perhaps Touma and Othinus-san can go over it and refine it so that it seems more natural, but it could be said that Touma and the other Espers who went to England were randomly selected to assist the investigative team who tracked and pursued the suspected cyber-terrorists to England. Their purpose, of course, was not to directly confront the suspects, but to carry certain access codes on their phones, which, when entered as directed, activated a counter-program that inevitably hijacked the suspects' hardware, thereby stopped the cyber-assault before it proceeded any further. Under more normal circumstances, students would not form part of an operation like this, but circumstances dictated that the matter be dealt with in the shortest possible time."
After a pause to sip her drink, Seria continued: "Do you think you got that clear enough, Touma … you too, Othinus-san."
"Leave it to me, Kumokawa-san." replied the former Magic God with a thumbs-up sign. "I'll go over it with him to make any explanation of it seem natural, if either of his parents bring the matter up."
"Come to think about it, we saw limited TV footage at times of those monsters that were said to be wreaking havoc in England … I wonder how the British authorities explained that to the English population, let alone the world-at large?" Misaki suddenly asked.
"Queen Elizard did say when we had an audience with her; she would be traveling to England's foreign territories which were also subjected to attacks by those things." replied Othinus. "Perhaps at some point, we could inquire of Index as to England's official response on the matter."
"Makes sense." responded Touma. "As for the other point; whether to disclose to my parents what has happened to me over the last five to six months, or even for my whole life spent in the City ..."
"Just before you go there," cut in Othinus, "there's something we learned back when we infiltrated the Windowless Building with the blond-haired one to rescue his sister. It was revealed that, in the past, Aleister Crowley did use his Archetype Controller on the entire world … hopefully, only once … to effectively create the divide between Magic and Science." Ayu, Seria and Misaki all started at the revelation, but for the moment said nothing.
"So, it seems our former General Superintendent has been manipulating persons as well as events for quite some time." remarked Misaki. "It might even be scary to consider for how long, and to what heights or depths that manipulation ability might have gone."
"It seems more and more of his actions along that line are slowly coming into the light, even if most people are unaware of those actions." replied Othinus. "As you said, Shokuhou-san, just how much and how far he went remains to be seen."
"Well, regarding any disclosure to your parents regarding the last six months, or even earlier." Seria spoke up at that moment, "as your sempai and your friend, I agree that it is your right to tell them about it, if asked. However, there are various implications that may crop up if you opt to tell them. And to be truthful, they don't only apply to Touma, but to all of the City's students … even myself."
"I've probably aware of two such implications by now." replied Touma, "one: how do I cross the hurdle of telling them that my memory loss of roughly the last five months was due to Magic? And two: even if they happen to accept that, what we learned before the invasion suggests that my misfortune was an un-natural condition placed on me by both Aleister Crowley and the Magic Gods. As of now, Crowley is dead, and the Magic Gods are … wherever they are. So, is there anyone left in Academy City, much less on earth who could be said to be responsible for that?"
"Yours is truly a complicated scenario, to say the least." remarked Misaki. "By the way, referring to your position as Tsugutoshi's advisor, Seria-san, might such a situation have occurred in the past that you're aware of?"
"It has, and more than once." was Seria's response. "For obvious reasons of confidentiality, I can't disclose everything, even if I wanted to, but there have been occasions where a student Esper was injured, in some cases, very seriously, arising out of the methods of the Curriculum used to awaken abilities. There are one or more clauses in the agreement that is applied when a person becomes a student and resident of the City, which works both ways – the City does carry a measure of responsibility for the safety and well-being of the student, but at the same time, the student is bound by an agreement restricting him or her from disclosing what might be considered sensitive or even incriminating information. More than once, it has gone the way of a legal battle … as I understand it, some have reached a settlement, others are still before some court."
"All in all," interjected Ayu, "it sounds fine on paper, but it was probably an empty gesture on the part of the former Superintendent; if, as everything indicates, all that mattered was his achieving his own goals, regardless of the wishes of anyone else." There happened to be a slight hint of something in her voice as she finished her comment, which, on another occasion, might have raised some sort of flag. However, if anyone present noticed it, no indication was given.
After a space of perhaps three seconds, it was Touma who spoke up: "Well, taking into account all that we've talked about so far, and considering that, thanks in part to all of you, the issues of my misfortune and memories have been resolved, it's probably safer that I hold back on disclosing any of that to my parents. If at some future time, the world outside Academy City and the Magic Side ever comes to accept that Magic is real, I'll consider talking about it then."
"Excuse me, but Othinus-san did raise what might turn out to be an important point." Ayu came in at that moment. "Is is safe or wise to assume the Archetype Controller was used only once, or might there have been other instances of its use?"
"That's a potentially scary thought, by any stretch of imagination ability." remarked Misaki. "Assuming the Controller still exists, would there be a record anywhere of the instances of its use, including on what scale, for what purpose, and whether it was used on any specific person or persons, or on the whole world?"
"Perhaps the one called Accelerator may be able to find an answer to that." replied Othinus, "Briefly, I was there when he revealed to this human that Crowley passed onto him the means to restore the City. Maybe somewhere in there is information on the history of the use of the Archetype Controller."
"Well, I don't claim to have Accelerator's ear in any way, but, if I can find out anything like that from him, I promise to pass it on." spoke Touma. "It would probably be important to know if the Controller has been used more than once, and if even possible, on whom and for what purpose."
"Just to volunteer a guess." Seria interjected at that point, "and without a clue as to what it looks like, the likely place for keeping the Archetype Controller would have been somewhere within the Windowless Building. With that having been destroyed just before the City's shutdown and evacuation, and unless it was actually located elsewhere, like the Data Bank, it's safe to assume that the Controller is no more."
"I got clued in regarding this Data Bank from both Accelerator and Hamazura." remarked Touma. "It supposedly contains a record of all information pertaining to the City and all its operations."
"Well then, it sounds like the Data Bank just might be the only place left to go, to find out about the Archetype Controller, or perhaps anything else connected with the former General Superintendent." remarked Ayu.
"Sort of in connection with that, I can safely say to you all that Tsugutoshi and Oyafume met with Accelerator, yesterday." commented Seria, "regarding the restoration of the City. All indications suggest that Accelerator will go ahead with it. Official notices will likely be issued to the City's student population during the course of today. For those who opt not to return to Academy City, arrangements will be made to transfer them to other schools in Japan."
"I suppose with the leak of the Parameter List back then, some will decide there's no point in remaining in Academy City, if there seems to be little or no chance of them advancing in their Level." stated Touma. "That I can accept, but this Kamijou-san recalls Accelerator hinting on our way back, without the security of the City, Espers outside could possibly be targeted by persons outside wanting to study them, regardless of their Level."
"It's a sticky issue, to say the least." replied Seria, "but from the feedback I received, Accelerator has decided he won't force or compel anyone to remain who doesn't want to. Also, Tsugutoshi mentioned they touched on a number of items, without necessarily deciding right then how all of them would be addressed, but at least those issues won't be ignored, as they seem to have been done by the former Superintendent."
After a further pause, Touma spoke up: "Well, unless I missed anything, this has at least cleared the way for what will likely be the key points of discussion when my parents return."
"And it seems we wrapped this in relatively good enough time, to get lined up for our connecting train." remarked Ayu.
"In that case, Othi-chan and I can at least see you to the boarding line." replied Touma. "No doubt, we can get together like this or some other way, probably after things settle down in the restored Academy City."
"Could we actually settle for a time period when we're all simply school students – middle, high, or other – without danger, intrigue and adventure rearing its head at random intervals?" asked Misaki, as they collectively rose from the booth.
"One might hope for it. Just speaking for myself, after all I've been through, that would suit me fine." answered Touma as they proceeded to settle their bill and exit the cafe. "Tsuchimikado had contacted me earlier today, confirming he's still alive and back in Japan. He mentioned something seems to be stirring in the world of Magic, but there's nothing definite to conclude as yet whether it could one day become something significant. Based on his suggestion, I've already sent a message to Index; she might be able to uncover something more."
Even as they headed toward the boarding line, Touma asked both Misaki and Ayu: "By the way, was there any special reason why Tokiwadai transplanted themselves all the way to Bali, after the evacuation, or is that just the way of the ojousama?"
After pausing to make a sort of contemplative gesture, it was Misaki who answered: "If we take the explanation as it was stated to us, Tokiwadai's administration felt like giving its students a break after the evacuation, as well as the affair with the Elements before that. They even disclosed that plans are being considered to establish a high school under the Tokiwadai name." Even Seria rolled her eyes at that revelation.
"It's not yet a done deal, but at least it's an option that might be worth considering." remarked Ayu, "although it might be an equally good idea for Tokiwadai's middle school population, ourselves included, to consider a more normal high school after we graduate. It could be looked at as getting more in touch with the world outside of School Garden."
Any further comment was momentarily interrupted, as everyone's phone either vibrated, or sounded its notification tone, or did both. Glancing at hers, and opening the message received, Seria spoke up: "Looks like it's official; for those who choose to return to Academy City, it's expected to be up and running again by the fifteenth."
After a few seconds, Othinus spoke: "Just curious; everything I've ever heard about Tokiwadai and School Garden suggests that, except perhaps for you two (indicating Ayu and Misaki), and the one who often shoots lightning at this human (a reference to Misaka Mikoto), its student population are for the most part sheltered from the world outside."
"Now that you mention it, Othinus-san," pondered Ayu, with a curious expression, "that's generally correct. And it could be argued that most of us who have at least some exposure to the world outside have at least one thing in common ..."
Within the space of a few seconds, Touma fidgeted as all eyes are turned towards him. "Wait, … are you inferring that somehow this Kamijou-san has been and is some sort of corrupting influence on otherwise pure maidens?" he exclaimed.
"You said it yourself, my kouhai." replied Seria, in a sly tone, "and the facts known up till now seem to speak for themselves."
"In which case," interjected the former Magic God in a smug voice of her own, "perhaps this human should be made to … how do you say it in your popular media … 'take responsibility'." Touma did a double-take at Othinus's suggestion, with one eyebrow raised.
"I wonder how that could be arranged?" Misaki asked with a grin forming.
"We could think of something ..." was Ayu's response in a similar manner.
"It could even involve notifying his parents at this rate." interjected Seria, seemingly suppressing a giggle.
"Now I'm really starting to get worried." muttered Touma.
"You might indeed have reason to worry, if more ladies decide to act on that idea, Touma." remarked Seria, "like perhaps even that young lady helping Index on the video mail you forwarded, ne."
"Ahhh, … looks like Seria-san raised that little point before either of us did." cut in Ayu.
"Indeed." responded Misaki.
"I'm letting you answer that one out entirely on your own, human." teased Othinus.
"Some things seem to be staying the same, even with my memories restored." grumbled Touma, then after a pause he continued in a more normal tone of voice: "Short answer once again; Itsuwa's her name, she's a member of a group who are originally from Japan, we have a history regarding various incidents connected with the Magic Side, and she's also very much aware that my priority right now is on finishing high school, before going anywhere in 'that' direction."
"Accordingly, Othinus-sama is on hand to keep you on track with that, human, even if something strange should crop up in the future." replied the former Magic God, "And help from you three will be welcome, of course.", directing that last part of her statement to Ayu, Misaki and Seria.
"Of course." the three replied in unison.
Minutes later, and just before passing through the control gate to get to the boarding platform, Othinus had to (quite literally) hop from one person to another, while, one by one, Ayu, Misaki and Seria each engaged in a parting hug with Touma.
"I won't pry into the nature of your 'girls-only' trip, but I'll trust you to be safe out there. And like I said, we'll all get together somehow, later." was Touma's parting words.
"Count on it." was the almost unanimous response from all three ladies.
A few minutes later after Ayu, Seria and Misaki have departed, Touma and Othinus made their way back to the Kamijou Family Residence. At about the moment the two entered the house and closed the front door, a certain message shows up on Touma's phone; specifically, it is from Index.
"Looks like we have the option of a live video chat within the hour, or via e-mail." Touma stated. "Since we've got the time for it, I guess we can go with the video chat."
"Sounds good to me." answered Othinus. "Perhaps you could advise her of the plans to resume life in Academy City, when we do talk to her."
At the time suggested, a video call was engaged between Touma and Othinus on one end, and Index on the other. One could even count A Certain Calico Cat as part of the call, as he kept pawing the screen of Index's laptop on occasion, seemingly trying to reach out to Othinus.
"Looks like you're well up to speed with using your laptop, Index." commented Touma with perhaps a hint of teasing. "I guess others could teach you about it better than I could."
"Could be, could be." Index replied. "and Ayu-san has been in touch with me thus far. She'll organize some lessons for me, which I'll no doubt deal with and conquer speedily."
"Sounds like someone is mistress of their domain." remarked Othinus, in a snarkish tone.
"And someone had better be grateful that Sphynx is here with me." Index responded smoothly.
"Now, now; it might be true that you miss each other already, but at least this way you're not totally cut off from each other." interjected Touma. "Before I forget, I told Komoe-sensei you're staying over there for a while. If you're fine with it, I can send her your contact info."
"Fine with me, Touma." Index replied. "And you can also include Himegami as well."
"I'll either contact her directly or via Komoe-sensei on that." Touma responded.
"Right then, onto more serious matters. This human's dorm neighbor is back in Japan, and advised us of some sort of activity possibly brewing, connected to the Rosicrucian Order." stated Othinus.
"Hmm, … based on what was contained in your earlier e-mail, I'll probably confirm what you said was already mentioned by Tsuchimikado." Index replied. "Also, in general, Necessarius only steps in to deal with confirmed definite threats to the United Kingdom, so that, even if there are movements sighted involving the Rosicrucians, it's unlikely that the Anglican Church would do more than observe, unless something is spotted that is determined to be a definite threat."
"Still, while this human and I can probably do some basic research on the Rosicrucians via the Internet, as it's called, you may have access to more detailed information that's not readily available to the average person outside of the Magic Side, via the grimoires." Othinus called back.
"Point noted, Othinus; it's worth taking a look. If I should uncover anything, I'll be sure to notify you guys." Index replied.
"Same over here … if Tsuchimikado or I should uncover anything, you'll be hearing from us first chance we get." stated Touma.
"Touma," Index responded in a more serious tone, "please don't let this or anything else like it distract you from your primary aim to finish high school."
"It's all right." Touma replied. "Just as we talked about it between ourselves in England, I'm neither interested in nor intent on running around fighting rogue magic-users or espers as I might have done in the past. Plus, everything we've uncovered till now all suggest that my many misadventures might all have been set up, directly or indirectly, by Aleister. With him out of the picture, that sort of thing should stop. If something appears before me which registers as a definite threat, of course I'll take action, but I'm not actively going looking for it; nor will I simply drop everything and go after it."
"I recall Queen Elizard stating while we were still in England that there were discussions going on between the British Government and the City Director who is Kumokawa-san's employer." commented Othinus. "By chance, has anything further come out of that?"
"So far, I've heard nothing on that." was Index's response, before continuing: "Ah, I figure I should mention this … Kanzaki-san has noticed that my Walking Church is working once more. Thus far, she has not asked how that came about, nor did I volunteer to explain it."
"Perhaps until we know more about the Invisible Thing, it might be wise not to raise the matter yourself, Index." suggested Othinus, "but if your comrades in England press you for an explanation at some point, there might be little harm in disclosing what we know so far."
"Dragon-san and I can communicate mind-to-mind … that much I know." remarked Touma. "Possibly, and likely outside of school hours, I could take time to find out more about it, and whatever it might know about Imagine Breaker."
"One possibility on that, is that while you retire for the night, you could use that time period when your body is at rest for your communication period with the Invisible Thing." remarked Othinus.
"It's likely worth looking into, Othi-chan," was Touma's reply, "especially if one day, we may find ourselves having to reply on that knowledge."
"Touma, you mentioned doing such a thing outside of school hours." interjected Index. "Does that mean Academy City will one day be restored?"
"Yes, it does." was Touma's answer. "Put simply, we all got officially notified that Academy City should be up and running again by the fifteenth of the month."
"Then, barring anything unforeseen taking place, we've both got our respective objectives to work on, before we see each other again." remarked Index. "So then, you do your best, Touma."
"And you do your best on your end, Index. Now that you're online, you can drop a mail anytime, or if our schedules allow for it, we can chat like this. Talk to you again, soon." declared Touma.
After the call was closed, Othinus asked: "So then … on to the future, human?"
"Well said, Othi-chan." was Touma's answer. "and it probably applies equally to all of us … on to the future."
Responses to Reviews of Chapter 6 follow at this point. Any reviews that show up after posting of Chapter 7 will be added as they appear:
Mr. X (commenting on Chapter 6): Another time, place and set of circumstances, updates could come out faster. In the present time, place and set of circumstances, they come out when they come out, and not before.
ArmoredCoreNineBall (commenting on Chapter 6): The building process, as we've talked about mostly via PMs, continues ... and, even if it's over where this story is concerned, it may yet carry over into any future tales I spin.
ADdude (commenting on Chapter 6): AC's New General Superintendent is facing up to the fact that he can't just vector away certain things, like in the past when he was just 'hanging around'. And it's almost a certainty that some Directors will object or even oppose him, even if they keep their intentions or actions concealed for a time, if or when he decides that "the Dark Side Must Go". My take on his (a-hem) "introductory address" to the Board, is a sort-of shout-out to a scene in a classic mecha anime series (some might recognize a key word or two).
MrQuestionMark (commenting on Chapter 6): With respect, the average fanfic reader might not be interested in (as you deemed it) "the more complex and political side of things", preferring to see more of the various action sequences. Someone's going to sooner or later touch on them; might as well be me as anyone else.
RebelCris (commenting on Chapter 6): It ain't easy going from just hanging out, to becoming responsible for a city state of close to two million persons, especially in the seeming state it was left in by its previous General Superintendent, is it?
Brosephg: Perhaps one or more PMs exchanged over the past few weeks might explain my ability to make story content based on characterizations, character interactions and scenario build-ups as appealing to you as they have been so far.
GunsAndMagic (commenting on Chapter 6): As long as I awaken to see another day, this story will one day be completed. Simple as that.
tsun (commenting on Chapter 6): Comment is appreciated.
Mr. X (commenting on Chapter 7): We'll see when it makes its appearance, won't we?
RebelCris (commenting on Chapter 7): Once in a while, the so-called real world must take priority over the world of fanfiction.
ADdude (commenting on Chapter 7): Index's reference to 'anything unforseen' may be taken to mean that there's little or no guarantee that it will be a quiet and peaceful progression for the three years (at least in this AU) that she will be away from Touma and Othinus ... but that's the sort of thing that could make fuel for more stories.
ArmoredCoreNineBall (commenting on Chapter 7): in similar manner as I responded to another, the political side of the To Aru Universe could make for a good enough foundation for significant events to transpire. After all, as you and I have noted elsewhere, the major characters of the Raildex franchise (too many to mention individually) will not stay in that 'magical' age group (14 to 16 years old), forever. Possibly one of the few things funnier than Touma getting grilled over his encounters with females by other females might be if the "griller" one day turns out to be a certain Kamijou Shiina ... a possible plot point for a future story, just maybe.
I will be solely a reader and reviewer for a while from this point on, as I have a few 'real-life' matters that I've decided must take priority, even in the face of the major issue occupying most people's attention right now. At least one person out there is aware that I do have some ideas for future stories to be penned, and, so long as I don't "join the choir invisible", those stories will one day show up, either here on FF, or over on A Certain Archive Site (say-no-more, say-no-more).
Until my return as a story writer ... peace.