Monday, December 13, 2010

To Space – Chapter 6

The glitter of the stars and the unending void surrounded Nakajima. Below his feet, the endlessly spinning blue globe shone up at him. It took him a few moments to realize that he was floating in outer space. Nakajima unfolded his arms. The Sword of Hi-no-Kagutsuchi he held emitted a strand of light in the inkwell of space. Its blade twinkled and throbbed, responding to the tens of thousands of stars.

It seemed that Izanami's robe had given him the power to survive and move in the vacuum of outer space. Suddenly, a sinister psychic wave hit Nakajima from behind. Swinging his sword, Nakajima slowly turned around, and found his field of vision dominated by an open, gaping red maw.

An incomprehensibly enormous serpent; though the demon had only owned a temporary form on the surface of the earth, the powerful magnetic field that had forced him into space had given Set a complete body.

Star Scorpion's 60-foot-long solar cells spread out like wings. Set's pale green scales glimmered as he coiled around the beautiful, practical satellite lying in medium Earth orbit.

It looks like the insignificant humans had enough knowledge to summon me into this empty space.

The voice echoed in Nakajima's mind.

But the humans will soon know their folly in thinking that they have banished me. Pulling this machine down with me is an easy task. And that is not all. Have a look at all the demons that were summoned here!

Several pale glowing things that looked like hoods aimlessly floated beside Nakajima.

Soon, they will take on bodies and seek safe haven on Earth. The end of foolish humanity’s dominion over the earth will not be long. Nakajima, whether or not you intended, you have become the knight that blows the trumpet signaling the beginning of the apocalypse. The only path remaining for you is to cast aside your humanity and work for me. It would be a shame to kill you. Think on it.

Ignoring Set's call, Nakajima focused all of his anger onto the sword he held directly in front of him. The environment that had given Set a body had also removed all restrictions on the divine power Nakajima had been granted. The Sword of Hi-no-Kagutsuchi, now an immensely long coil of light, drew a whip-like arc that emitted red light, and came down onto the body of the enormous serpent.

Fool. You do not value your life.

Set lurched forward.

Weaving away from the enormous serpent's attacking fangs, Nakajima was enveloped by an ice-like miasma. The Sword of Hi-no-Kagutsuchi produced many pale sparks as it struck the serpent coiled around the satellite, yet the tough scales showed no sign of injury. The ugly faces and disgusting tentacles of materializing new demons floated like ghosts in the space around him.

The noisy voices of the demons amplified like they were advancing down on Nakajima.

I'd better do something quick; I don't stand a chance against all these demons if they keep materializing.

Even those demons that managed to materialize fully had trouble maintaining their existence in the Assiah world without a powerful magnetic field. For Set, whose aim was a full-on invasion of Earth, destroying Star Scorpion would probably be a heavy blow. In contrast to Set, who could not leave the satellite, Nakajima appeared to have the upper hand as he was able to fly about wherever he willed. However, the longer the battle continued without conclusion, clearer the difference in latent power between the two became. Nakajima's sword seemed heavy in his tired arms, and even seemed to be losing its shine.

However, he could not stop fighting. As minor demons from Set's world continued wriggling as they tried to enter the Assiah world, an unmistakable voice echoed in Nakajima's mind.

Nakajima-kun! I'm here! Aim for here!

Yumiko! Is that you?

The instant Nakajima heard the voice, the Sword of Hi-no-Kagutsuchi regained its luster and became a nova as it tore through the void.

Stab your sword in the direction of my voice!

Nakajima quickly noticed a pale, white, phosphorescent glow on a part of the enormous serpent's scale-encased body.

Yes, I'm inside the demon! If we attack from inside him and outside him at the same time, we might be able to defeat Set.

Led by Yumiko's voice, Nakajima stabbed his blade toward the phosphorescent glow. But the instant before the tip reached the glow, the giant snake’s tail forcefully knocked the blade aside and sent Nakajima flying back. Flipping over and regaining his composure, robe fluttering behind him, Nakajima saw the rolling form of Set uncoil, swimming through the vacuum.

Foolish girl! To think you would let me know that you still live! Now I no longer have to depend on this irritating machine!

Set's thick tail crushed Star Scorpion's wings. The satellite built with accumulated human knowledge was exposed to space like a broken toy and was burned to metal junk with a flash. Just like the satellite, Yumiko's powerful biological Magnetite formed a powerful magnetic field capable of summoning a demon. So long as she lived within him, Set was free of the magnetic field generated by the satellite. Nothing could have pleased Set more than learning of her survival.

Freed from his spatial constraints, Set could now roam through space without restraint. One moment he seemed to attack with his foul, enormous mouth, and the next instant he vanished into the vacuum, reappearing to strike with his thick, heavy tail. Dodging alone took all of Nakajima's concentration.

However, Set's movements appeared to be slowing. Looking closely, the minor demons had amassed at one point on the giant serpent's body, clawing at it. Now that the satellite had been destroyed, they had lost the artificially generated magnetic field and were now competing with each other to cling to Set's body in an attempt to materialize in the Assiah world. Dodging the now-slowed Set's fangs, Nakajima quickly dove beneath the body of the snake.

Now, Nakajima!

Encouraged by Yumiko's voice, Nakajima stabbed his sword into the throng of lesser demons.

SPLUTCH!

For an instant, as if time had stopped, Set's movements ceased. Like thick glass penetrated by a bullet, cracks started spreading over the scales covering the enormous serpent. The cracked were centered on the sword lodged in its trunk. After a moment of silence, Set's body shattered into tiny fragments and dispersed into space. Yumiko, reflected in the light of the sword, floated off into space, still tied to the Egyptian cross; the mass of scale fragments around her looked like snowflakes.

Yumiko!

As Nakajima anxiously swam through space, Yumiko drifted further and further away. The swarm of minor demons desperately trying to remain in the Assiah world clawed at their last hope, Yumiko and the cross she was tied to. Having used the last bits of her power to defeat Set, Yumiko had no way of fighting them off. At this rate, she would be pulled into the demon world along with them.

It's all right, Nakajima-kun. It's best this way... Yumiko's voice echoed in Nakajima's mind.

Don't talk like that! I'm coming to save you, just hang in there!

No! Please, don't try to save me! If I am pulled into the demon world with these demons, no demons will ever come to Earth again...

Wait! Wait!

Fueled by determination greater than his will to fight Set, Nakajima bridged the distance between himself and Yumiko. Nearly within arm's reach, he started wildly swinging the Sword of Hi-no-Kagutsuchi at the demons clinging to Yumiko. Its tip grazed the cross, producing pale sparks. At that moment, Nakajima thought he heard cries of joy erupting from the mouths of the demons.

No, Nakajima! Right now this cross is acting like a door between the demon and human worlds. If I leave it, that door will...

Yumiko had no way of knowing how the demon and human worlds were connected. But her intuition told her that an enormous power, clearly different from that of Set's, was held in the cross she was tied on. Yumiko unconsciously realized what awful things might happen should that terrible power be unleashed upon the earth. She felt that if she died, then such things would be prevented. She bet her life on it.

But Nakajima, focused entirely on Yumiko, had no way of knowing what she was feeling.

I pick you over five billion humans!

Letting out a terrible cry, Nakajima embraced Yumiko's body and sliced the cross in two with the Sword of Hi-no-Kagutsuchi.

The vacuum felt like it burned. An incredible flash shone throughout space.

The two floated through the vacuum still holding each other. Nakajima's chest was wet with an endless stream of hot drops. Her eyelids shut tight, covering the eyes crushed by Set, Yumiko stroked Nakajima's cheek like she was trying to remember the contours of his face. Her lips trembled slightly. Even though he could not hear her voice, Nakajima knew what those lips were trying to say.

You really, you...

Another pair of warm lips prevented hers from continuing. Alongside the couple, several red shooting stars cut through space. One let forth a voice of joy, and another released a loud laugh. It was a crowd of demons that had been able to make it through the briefly-open door and take form in the human world. That door had quietly closed on the echoes of the curses of the demons left behind. The two bodies enshrouded by Izanami's robe were already near the blue planet.


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