Hamazura and Hanzou entered a set meal restaurant where everything was worthy of complaint other than the price. They settled down at a table in one corner of the restaurant and Hanzou ordered a bunch of food that was seasoned so that it felt like it needed some beer with it to be complete.
When Hamazura had been in Skill-Out, he, Komaba, and Hanzou had gone to that restaurant together frequently.
A flat-screen TV was set up in a corner of the restaurant. Hamazura idly watched a talk show that was going on about a reorganization of the Roman Catholic Church that included the top position of pope changing from Matthai Reese to Pietro Yogdis. Hanzou then started speaking.
“Aren’t you going to order something, Hamazura?”
“I actually just ate at a family restaurant,” responded Hamazura and only ordered a few skewers of salted yakitori. “…You always order Japanese food, don’t you? And you don’t seem to care what kind of restaurant you’re in either.”
“Do I really?”
“You’re the kind of guy that would order fish at a yakiniku restaurant.”
After the food arrived, Hanzou focused on eating for a bit. It seemed he hadn’t had any lunch yet. Hamazura disassembled the skewered chicken and ate the pieces one by one after carefully removing the skin.
As Hanzou continued to chow down on his food, Hamazura looked at him questioningly.
“What’s with you? Did you not have any breakfast?”
“Oh, I’ve just been busy lately, so I haven’t been able to eat a proper meal in a while. I just don’t have the time, so I’ve been eating things like jelly and beef jerky. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and eat.”
“Hey, I haven’t been able to get a hold of you recently, Hamazura. Where have you been?”
“I’m the End of the Century Emperor back from the battlefield.”
Now it was Hanzou’s turn to look puzzled.
Following that, Hamazura and Hanzou started exchanging information that could have been thing’s they had actually seen and could have been mere rumors. One was about the customer that got so pissed at the stingy settings of a pachinko parlor’s slot machines that he plowed into the parlor with a dump truck. One was about the strengthening of security on ATM’s that made even going around and destroying vending machines a better means of gaining money.
“Hehh. So you’ve got a girl, Hamazura.”
“Well, yeah. …But to be honest, I’m a little uneasy about it,” said Hamazura as he stabbed the removed chicken skins with a skewer. “Y’see, with the way I’ve always done things, I can attack, but I can’t protect. I don’t want this to be a relationship that ends in a few months. And so I finally have to think about things long term when I act.”
“…I was thinking of maybe using my lock picking skills. Not to steal stuff from cars, but to have a road service where I open people’s doors for them when they lock their keys in the car or whatever. If I can strengthen my stealing skills in that direction, I can use them to protect, too.”
“Nee ha ha,” laughed Hamazura in embarrassment.
He pulled out a small reference book that looked like it was for a correspondence course from his pocket and put it on the table.
“I don’t think that getting my skills up to a practical level will be easy. I tried reading a magazine that talked about security, but I had no clue what the stuff about electronic locks was about.”
“…Well, at least you know what area you’re interested in, right? Like with choosing between the fine arts and the sciences, you have to choose what you’re good at. At the very least, there’s no way it could end up being wasted effort. All the work you put in will add up.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“Hey, you’re the guy who had the heavy machinery we needed to steal an ATM up and running in two minutes. I’d say going down the path of locks is a good decision.”
That was when a cell phone started ringing.
Hanzou pulled his cell phone from his pocket, looked at the screen, and then put it away.
He grabbed the bill and stood up.
Hamazura looked puzzled.
“What is it?”
“A money making opportunity,” Hanzou said with a bitter smile. “But this is what you were calling an ‘attack’. You can’t protect anyone with this. There’s nothing in it for you now.”
“Well, I have to hurry. See you, Hamazura.”
“Hey, I’ll pay for mine.”
“Didn’t I just tell you this is a money making opportunity for me? The food’s on me.”
Finished speaking, Hanzou turned his back to Hamazura and headed for the register.
Hamazura felt a little left out by not being invited along, but then…
“…Oh? The cashier isn’t here. I can make a dash for it!!”
“You bastaaaaarrrrddd!! Don’t dine and dash leaving me behiiiiiiind!!”
He then drowned his faint feelings in Worcestershire sauce.
They went to buy the groceries for dinner at a nearby supermarket.
Accelerator and Misaka Worst stood listening to the outdated pop music that made one wonder, “Why the hell did they choose this?”
They felt as out of place as someone who went to a baseball game and accidentally ended up sitting in the seats by the third-base where the opposing team’s cheering squad sat.
“Is this an attempt to line you and Misaka up next to normal people in order to find out just how twisted we are?” asked Misaka Worst as she pushed the rattling shopping cart with one hand.
Accelerator responded sounding even more displeased than her.
“…They’re trying to get us used to peaceful scenes.”
It may have sounded like a ridiculous idea, but there was actually nothing more important for people who had returned from the battlefield. If they weren’t able to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling there and weren’t able to adapt to the empty peaceful days, they would end up distancing themselves from the peace they had returned to and would only be able to live in constant battle.
Up until then, Accelerator and Misaka Worst had been at the center of evil created by various people.
They had been covered in filth crawling around in a world where blood being shed was the norm and outsmarting the established rules in order to live on was necessary.
They had gained a type of strength from those experiences, but they also held the risk of distancing themselves from peace.
Targets of fear.
Those who were found worthless if they could not kill someone.
If they didn’t want to become those things, they had to take in that out-of-place atmosphere. They had to get to the point where that kind of place was the norm.
“Hey, hey, Mr. Honor Student.”
“That sales advertisement doesn’t matter. It’s free if you steal it all.”
“…Do you want me to punch you?”
“Why? Anyway. They’re careful to make sure people don’t take anything from the store at sweets shops, but doesn’t it seem like they haven’t thought of the idea of eating it all in the store and sticking the empty wrappers between the shelves?”
“You really are rotten to the core, aren’t you?”
“Actually, Misaka can’t believe that people actually go through the process of paying the amount on the price tag to get things. Isn’t getting everything as cheaply and easily as possible the foundation of business?”
“It isn’t business if you aren’t paying for it.”
“Oh! How about we eat some samples and then pretend to get food poisoning?”
“If you do that, I’ll fucking eat you alive.”
As he complained, a quizzical expression came to Accelerator’s face.
(…How the hell did I become the one with more common sense?)
This did seem very out of place for him, but, at the same time, it wasn’t really.
It was true that informing someone else what common sense dictated was out of place for him.
However, he decided that being immune to common sense was hardly something to brag about.
After leaving the set meal restaurant in District 7, Hamazura felt the cell phone in his pocket vibrating.
He pulled it out and looked at the screen which displayed “Takitsubo Rikou”.
However, when he pressed the connect button and put it to his ear, it was not her voice he heard.
“Hamazuraaa! You’re super slow for someone’s who’s just supposed to be doing odd jobs! Where did you super run off to!?”
“Ugh, who cares; I was thinking of killing some time by kicking those idiots’ asses, but all those delinquents ran off after you. And since you are taking forever, it’ll be night before you get back at this rate. We’ll go find you instead.” added Mugino.
“I-I see. Well, I’m—”
“No, no,” Mugino interrupted him for some reason. “I’m bored, so I was thinking of making the Hamazura Search into a game.”
“It’ll be a punishment game where Kinuhata, Takitsubo, and I will search for you and whoever finds you first gets to punish the last one to find you. Let’s see, the punishment will be…”
“It’ll just be making the loser wear a super bunny suit, right?”
“What!!!???” Hamazura reacted.
“Hamazura, you’ve been super gloomy lately and it’s making me wonder why Takitsubo-san would stick with you.”
“…Don’t worry. Hamazura’s good points lie elsewhere…”
(Huh!? She ignored the bunny part!?)
Hamazura started trembling as he sensed a rising danger, but he didn’t ask for details then. He swore in his heart he would talk with her alone about it later.
“Okay, the super Hamazura Search competition is about to start. Ready, go!”
With a click the line was severed.
Hamazura stared down at his cell phone’s small LCD screen.
He may not be able to go down the same path as Hanzou. He may not be able to return to Skill-Out.
Even though he had overcome World War III, Hamazura was still an underling who could do nothing but run when regular, everyday delinquents came after him.
Except he still had connections to other people.
With Mugino, with Kinuhata, and with Takitsubo.
Frenda may be gone, but Hamazura and the others had regained the connections that came with Item.
There were people who would come searching for him if he was missing.
That wasn’t very extravagant, but it helped to support the depths of Hamazura’s heart.
He had realized all that once again.
(…I can’t just continue to run away.)
Battles in that peaceful world would not be decided with the result of a fist fight. And he couldn’t forcibly take victory from someone else. Instead, he had to become someone who could protect those who were important to him. That would solve everything.
As Hamazura was seriously thinking about all that, he had another thought.
(…Huh? Takitsubo and the others said they were searching for me, but what am I supposed to do?)
Could he move around doing whatever he wanted or should he stay where he was?
The game had started without any detailed rules being explained. As such, Hamazura couldn’t go on, couldn’t go back, and was stuck timidly where he was as if he was an idiotic piece of art.
A voice called out to the timid objet d’art titled “Hamazura”.
It was a girl’s voice.
He turned around and saw…a difficult to describe girl. She was wearing an oddly short mini-yukata (?), had brown hair, wore thick makeup, and had accessories all over. She felt like the result of asking an old man who had never seen a city high school girl to describe one.
He knew her.
He didn’t know her family name, but her given name was Kuruwa. The chain wrapped around her shoulders, torso, and legs rattled as she approached him.
“Oh, Hamazura-shi. What are you doing here?”
“I’m the End of the Century Emperor Landmark.”
He was a hidden goal point, but he gave a light smile instead of explaining further.
“What are you doing, Kuruwa-chan? Looking for Hanzou again?”
As far as Hamazura knew, Kuruwa had an unfortunate obsession with everything ninja and he thought she had been chasing after Hanzou in various ways.
Whether it had anything to do with that or not, she seemed to have had some kind of inner change as she was speaking much more politely than before.
“No, no. Hanzou-sama seems to be rather busy right now, so I’m doing something else.”
“Yes. If I were seriously chasing after Hanzou-sama, I might use my seductive techniques to get all the information you have, Hamazura-shi.”
That may have been something he would normally love to hear, but his breath caught because he had been caught off guard by one of those very techniques once.
(Hearing Kuruwa say that is a dangerous sign,) thought Hamazura as he put himself on guard.
Kuruwa must not have liked the look on his face, because she looked a tad offended and moved her hand to her kimono’s obi.
“You look like you don’t believe me. Perhaps I should show one to you now.”
“W-wait!! Don’t strip!! Keep your clothes on!! Using seductive techniques with no goal is nothing more than an endless erotic hell!!”
Kuruwa must have sensed something from Hamazura as he trembled in fear, because she removed her hand from her obi.
“I want to be with Hanzou-sama very much, but I don’t want to get in his way.”
“Oh, yeah. He did say he was doing something. He seemed really busy and even said he didn’t even have time to eat.”
“I saw him just a bit ago at that set meal restaurant. As usual, he was ordering nothing but cheap Japanese food.”
“Well, he is the kind of person that would order normal fried vegetables at a Chinese restaurant.”
“Or fish at a yakiniku restaurant.”
The two laughed at their shared view of Hanzou and gained a tiny bit of a kindred spirit from it.
“So did you hear about what was going on from Hanzou-sama?”
“A little. He said it was a money making opportunity.”
“Hmm. That doesn’t sound like what I’m working on.”
“What are you working on, Kuruwa-chan?”
“Oh, it’s just a matter Hanzou-sama got involved in that I’m sticking my nose into. But would he really start working on something else while still involved in that?”
“Well, you’ve already heard about it, so I can talk about it with you.”
“Oh, you know. The thing about…”
Accelerator and Misaka Worst put items in the shopping cart according to the marked items on the advertisement flyer.
“Furikake, nori tsukudani, whitebait, mentaiko, and umeboshi…”
“Misaka may not be the best person to say this because she’s only ever had synthetic foods, but isn’t this too many things to put on rice?”
“She’s just trying to cut corners. This is definitely better than nothing but frozen foods.”
“Misaka would call even frozen foods a luxury.”
After that, Misaka Worst’s frivolous speech came to a stop.
Accelerator had stopped moving with an item not marked on the flyer in his hand. The cap on the top of a bottle of furikake had a bonus doll of what must have been the mascot.
If that had been Accelerator’s tastes, bursting out laughing would have been the only appropriate response, but the god of laughter wasn’t smiling on Misaka Worst that much.
However, that didn’t stop her from getting a sneer on her face.
“A little chick mascot sure is clichéd… Sir, is that a present for Last Order?”
“That brat’s tastes are really damn straight-forward,” spat out Accelerator as he lightly shook the furikake bottle. “…As part of the Misaka Network, you’re under the influence of its one large will, right? So your tastes must be pretty much the same, right?”
“Y’know, Misaka may receive some interference from the Network, but it’s specialized so it’s only the evil intentions and dark portions of the network. Misaka would rather you did not treat her like that naïve little girl.”
“Misaka’s settings are more to trample that underfoot in order to more effectively damage you. Misaka would think you had painfully figured that out on the snow plains of Russia. Misaka simply has no interest in such a worthless masco—”
Accelerator silently swung the furikake bottle to the side and Misaka Worst’s gaze followed it.
He swung it back the other way and the ao dai-wearing girl’s gaze moved back in that direction.
“You haven’t taken your eyes off this chick mascot this entire time.”
“Kh!!” Misaka Worst seemed oddly dismayed. “…M-Misaka can’t believe you would want to look at her the same as Last Order in order to play with the imbalance between body and mind…”
“According to the numbering, you’re actually the little sister.”
Accelerator and Misaka Worst finished shopping and left the supermarket.
They had one item that was not marked on the flyer: the furikake.
“Ahh, Misaka encountered something unknown that she did not imagine would happen. Peaceful days are much more tiring than Misaka predicted.”
Accelerator couldn’t just laugh off Misaka Worst’s words.
Was this really okay?
A simple shopping trip had worn him out this much, so could he really get along with this world?
It was easy to write off this lukewarm peacefulness as something that just wasn’t for him. He had once subconsciously glorified that method of dealing with it as making him really cool.
But what was he supposed to do after that?
If he turned his back on it, was there something that shined even brighter waiting for him elsewhere?
If he wanted to become a monster that had no value beyond killing, he should just continue on down that path. But that was not where Accelerator wanted to end up. The more he wrote off peace as not for him, the farther he became from what he wished for.
Could he really do it?
(…What is he doing?)
A certain Level 0 boy came to his mind.
That boy had most likely been fighting in an even deeper part of the world than Accelerator who held the title of Academy City’s strongest. And of course, that boy had his own place. Had he returned to that place? Did he feel out of place?
If he was constantly switching between the farthest limits of the battlefield and calm, peaceful days, he would be much more amazing than Accelerator who continued to be stuck in the darkness.
For a bit, Accelerator surrendered his body to the fatigue, but then Misaka Worst began tugging on his sleeve.
He looked up with a puzzled expression.
“Let’s go buy some sweets and then eat them right away. Misaka has heard that that is the foundation of being bad.”
“…You certainly get negative aspects from a lot of different places, don’t you?”
Well, she gathered up the negative aspects of the entire Misaka Network, so Last Order’s desires would be in there too.
And so, mostly at the insistence of Misaka Worst, the two of them bought ice cream at a stand made from a van.
“Should Misaka use her tongue seductively as she licks it?”
“Who are you trying to please by doing that? Yourself?”
“Well, there is that. If it would be devastating to your relationship with Last Order, Misaka will let you touch her tits and ass, but doing it now would seem rather pointless.”
“Say what you like, I’m not fucking listening,” responded Accelerator fed up with how she was acting.
Ice cream in hand, he casually looked over at the crowd of people and suddenly froze.
He saw a silver-haired nun wearing a white nun’s habit.
Fatigue and impatience could be seen in her face and it looked as if vitality had been scraped from her well-featured face.
Accelerator recognized that face.
However, her atmosphere was quite different from when he had met her before.
A few seconds later, she had disappeared into the crowd.
(Lost sight of her. Well, I have no reason to frantically go searching for her. And getting her involved with me could even send her life in a much worse direction.)
The girl with an unfriendly look in her eyes sitting next to the #1 didn’t seem to notice.
“Misaka just can’t get used to it.” Misaka Worst’s candid feelings slipped out as she licked the surface of the vanilla ice cream. “Misaka can’t get used to the two of us walking home in the sunlight licking ice cream. It just isn’t right; it isn’t normal. Don’t you feel uneasy because nothing is happening? It just feels like the harbinger of some huge event.”
“Do you want something to happen?”
“Who knows. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Misaka doesn’t think anyone accurately knows their own mind. Even when a psychologist does his own test, he gives a softer estimate on himself. If there was someone who could fully and perfectly understand their own mind, that person would be crazy in their own way.”
Misaka Worst smiled.
“How about you?”
“I don’t care,” responded Accelerator halfheartedly. “I took back everything I needed from that war. I now have everything I need. And if it’s needed to keep those things, I’m willing to do things I’m not used to.”
“Misaka thinks that finding out what exactly it is we can’t seem to get used to is at the center of it all.”
“Is it the peaceful atmosphere itself or is it being stuck inside boundaries laid out by someone else.”
“…What are you? Some little brat?”
“Misaka feels this isn’t something to laugh at. Misaka thinks that we should experience just how inadequate it is to be trapped in boundaries laid out by some else. Then we should tear away everything that isn’t necessary. Aren’t our personalities at odds with the mere idea of being trapped within boundaries laid out by someone else?”
“Just change the way you think.” There was no turmoil in Accelerator’s feelings. “Someone is thinking that we can’t do that. Someone is thinking that beasts like us can only live within a sea of blood. In that case, isn’t successfully living inside the boundaries laid out by them a way of showing our defiance to them?”
“Ah-ha. Misaka likes that.” Misaka Worst continued licking away her vanilla ice cream and chomped at the unneeded portions of the cone. “But don’t you smell something bad around here?”
“Misaka would even say it’s a nostalgic smell.”
Hearing her words, Accelerator narrowed his eyes.
Holding his cane, he looked around the area again.
A tranquil and casual cityscape stretched out around him.
For that reason, something seemed out of place. Its color and form perfectly blended in, but it was still clearly different. It was an unexplainable intuitive differentiation like seeing an alien wearing human skin.
At the other end of his gaze was…
“That tourist bus.”
“Yes, it could be a disguised undercover vehicle,” said Misaka Worst smiling. “Academy City is the same as ever. Oh? But this is odd. Misaka thought a certain someone had gotten rid of the city’s dark organizations by having them do away with the dirty jobs they forced people to do by using people and objects as shields.”
“We have two paths we can take here.” Misaka Worst presented her fluttering index and middle fingers in front of Accelerator. “To eliminate them accepting the danger that brings in order to ensure our safety or to safely overlook them here in order to avoid danger.”
“The answer is obvious,” spat Accelerator in response. “We take them out here. They broke their end of the agreement. I need to give them a warning about that darkness that’s still hanging around. I don’t like sticking my nose in other people’s business, but it’s a completely different story when it involves the dark side of the city.”
Misaka Worst whistled.
“Well, now that the darkness has begun moving, a certain someone would surely get hurt and her life would be in danger. It seems #1 is a good little boy who just wants to help out others.”
“…Don’t act like you know what you’re talking about. So what are you going to do?”
“Misaka will of course choose the more dangerous route. It sounds more fun.”
Hamazura Shiage pressed his back up against the wall.
He slid down and sat on the ground.
Kuruwa was gone.
The conversation he had with her replayed in the back of his mind.
“Oh, you know. The thing about Hanzou-sama sheltering a small girl.”
The truth was, Hamazura Shiage was not in a position where he could brazenly enjoy his life in Academy City.
When he had left the city and gotten caught up in World War III, he had been on the run because it had been determined that he was “an uncertain element that knew too much about the dark side of Academy City”.
During the war, Hamazura had gotten ahold of a certain piece of data.
It was known as the Parameter List and was enough to shake Academy City at its core.
But it wasn’t perfect.
He had managed to balance the scales, but if the scales tipped past a certain point, the very depths of Academy City would be sure to put together a means of eliminating him.
“I don’t know the details, but it seems that girl is being targeted by the upper levels of Academy City. It’s as if she would be killed if she walked around the area for half an hour.”
At best, the scales were exceedingly unstable.
If they received another large shock, they could be moved in one direction or the other
To prevent that, it was best to lie low.
He needed to take time to see whether the scales were tipped far enough in his favor to risk his life on it.
Basically, he had to not cause any problems.
He should abandon Hanzou and abandon the girl who was being targeted.
“Ah, I can’t quite remember her name.”
Most likely, that reasoning wasn’t wrong.
If he was to ensure his safety, that was the only option left.
He had sworn to protect Takitsubo Rikou.
He wanted to keep danger from her as much as possible. He wanted to avoid having her swallowed up by the city’s darkness at all costs.
So the decision to abandon them wasn’t wrong.
It wasn’t wrong.
“I think it was…Fre…Fre…mea? …Yes, it was Fremea Seivelun. She’s about ten years old and has fluffy blonde hair. She was emotionally attached to Komaba-shi, wasn’t she?”
Crouching in the alley, Hamazura gritted his teeth.
Komaba Ritoku was the Skill-Out leader who had once fought the city’s darkness for the sake of a great number of Level 0s and died for it.
Fremea had been the girl Komaba had fought until the very, very end to protect. Hanzou was most likely sheltering her to carry out Komaba’s dying wish.
Fremea was a harmless Level 0 with no connection to Skill-Out.
That harmlessness may have been one of the reasons Komaba had tried to protect her.
Also, Hamazura Shiage knew the family name Seivelun.
Up until then, he hadn’t known the family name of the girl emotionally attached to Komaba. Even Komaba, the person closest to her, had merely called her “imported” because that had been his first impression upon hearing the name.
However, Hamazura couldn’t fool himself any longer.
Now that he knew this, he had to face this.
“…Frenda Seivelun,” muttered Hamazura.
There was a short pause before he continued speaking.
“So she was her little sister…!!”
Frenda had been one of the main members of Item who had fought alongside Mugino Shizuri, Kinuhata Saiai, and Takitsubo Rikou.
He did not know the details of how she had come into contact with the city’s dark side and become part of Item.
It was possible Frenda herself had enjoyed fighting.
It was possible it had all started with Fremea.
Was there really nothing wrong with abandoning her?
His friend Hanzou was currently fighting with the city’s dark side.
Allowing Fremea to die would be the same as trampling on the feelings of Komaba Ritoku and Frenda.
With all that, was there really nothing wrong with abandoning them?
“There isn’t anything wrong with it,” Hamazura muttered.
He had given voice to his thoughts in order to solidify his view.
His voice gradually grew louder.
“There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s no way there’s anything wrong with keeping danger away from Takitsubo and the rest of Item!! I overcame all that war. I may have been covered in filth, but I finally grabbed this new life with my own two hands!! Like hell I could let that slip away. I will protect what I’ve obtained on my own no matter what!!”
Still crouched in the alley, Hamazura grabbed his head with his hands.
When he thought about it rationally, the most effective way of protecting himself, Takitsubo, and the others was to abandon Hanzou and Fremea here.
That option held the least risk and allowed him to protect those he cared about the easiest.
That was what he should choose if he truly wanted to protect those he cared about.
When he let the callousness sink in, he knew he should just let the problem approaching before his eyes go on by him.
He would choose.
He had to choose.
Hamazura clicked his tongue and clawed at his head.
“Fuck!! Like hell I can abandon them!!”
He put his hand to the wall and stood up once more.
He ran towards the shadows in the depths of the narrow alleyway that symbolized the city’s dark side.
He ran to save his friend who was facing a deadly crisis.
He ran to protect the feelings of the dead.
He didn’t contact Takitsubo and the others.
This was Hamazura’s problem.
As long as the balance of the scales was unstable, he couldn’t get those girls wrapped up in this.
He ran in order to ensure that he would return.
Hamazura Shiage dared to run into the depths of the darkness.
Between the Lines 2
Many people trembled in fear when they first met that large, muscular boy, but he personally did not like any kind of conflict.
When he had become the leader of Skill-Out, a gathering of Level 0s who had dropped out of the schools’ esper development programs, he had tried to drive some morals into the group little by little.
He had them avoid unnecessary violence, not specifically target the weak, and no longer merely commit crimes that Anti-Skill and Judgment would overlook. He instead wanted them to secretly protect those who couldn’t even ask for help.
Of course, the actuality did not turn out so lovely and tear-jerking. As always, they had used the fact that they had been ostracized by Academy City to justify doing all sorts of horrible things. They would say they just wanted a place to belong and do all sorts of completely unrelated things.
However, it was true that Komaba had caused a certain “line” to bud.
To those who had been victims of Skill-Out, it may have sounded like nothing more than an excuse, but it was true that something like morality had been born there.
It provided an opportunity.
Something happened that influenced their fate.
Perhaps it was like placing a large snowball at the top of a hill and having someone give it a push.
This was nothing as calm as a slow change or a natural growth.
What it actually was had been horribly simple.
One after another, Level 0s were being attacked by powerful espers.