Cover Note, Kinoko Nasu
I wrote this when I was invited to make an anthology on the topic of angels. However, the anthology wasn’t text based and the other two participants were artists, so I was in trouble. What do you call a story when over half the pages are pictures?
Especially when it’s a short story. That’s how I came up with the strange “Notes” after my initial doubts.
I remember that I was pretty satisfied with what I came up with, considering I completed it in a short amount of time.
Although it’s unpleasant to the eye, it brings back memories of when I cut and pasted what I’d typed out and printed.
“If I ever get a chance, I would like to make this into a real series too.”
I always think that when I look at the Black Barrel.
Angel Notes. the matter of [knight arms] and [over count 1999].
The plane flew higher into the troposphere.
It had yet to pierce the layer of gray clouds.
Iron wings soared through the gray sky
On their way to annihilate the common enemy of mankind.
By battle’s end, this was the only craft to escape destruction among all those sent.
It seems he was lucky an old AI controlled his plane.
The AI controlled plane was the only one not touched by the enemy’s burning light.
I continued to fly by myself.
Just then I thought, “the organic pulsations echoing through the machine belong only to me.”
I opened the door and drew out my gun.
The air flowing into the cockpit was cold and burned his lungs.
The temperature inside quickly reached below zero. His coat meant nothing.
It was barely warm enough to sustain organic life.
This aircraft, which had only been intended to act as transport for flight-capable species, had no weapons. In order to fight, I had to risk my life in this way.
Arctic cold and rampaging winds…
The corpses of my comrades lying behind me, leaking spinal fluid from their ears and noses…
This old aircraft that could crash at any moment.
The situation was so utterly bleak that I almost felt like singing.
Holding the Black Barrel, which I’d modified for sniping, I did nothing but wait for my enemy,
For the moment my enemy would appear in my scope.
For the moment that I could pull the trigger and finally rest.
Seven days were added to the plane’s clock.
Only seven days have passed.
My paralyzed brain felt that I could stay like this for a month, a year. My body was always on the verge of collapse.
How many days and months has it been?
Just when I had lost everything,
I pulled everything back into focus.
The gun’s sight caught the enemy.
I pulled the trigger without hesitation.
My brain immolated as it punched through its limits.
For just one brief moment before I fell unconscious,
For just one small moment before I blacked out,
For just a moment before I faded away, I beheld the shape of my enemy.
—In a gap in the clouds, I saw an angel.
Angel Notes o
[over count 1999] Hagane no Daichi | Land of Steel
A planet that died. A world that reached its end. An earth where living things can’t live. The present-day name of this planet. It’s not its official name, but a nickname shared by the people who live in this corrupted land. Like the name [land of steel] indicates, most of the landmass are wild and destroyed, covered by a tainted gray cloud.
No food grows, and the air is no longer fit for animals.
To put it in a human-centric way, an apocalypse. But even after mother earth died, humanity lived on with its advanced technology.
Even the once-imaginary end of the planet could not end [mankind].
[a-ray] A-ray Hyakushu | Hundred Subspecies
Next generation primates created by the humans that used up all of the planet’s resources. They were modeled after living things that used to exist on earth. They were modified/enhanced to allow them to survive on the corrupted world. There were many kinds of [a-ray], made up of about 100 major species. Species 1 through 10 consist of only one individual [a-ray] each, not a group.
Some carry human genes and look like us, but most of them are mixed/evolved forms of different creatures and primates.
[liner] Ningenshu | Mankind
The [land of steel’s] human species. The evolved form of the old humans who adapted to the world without changing their shape. They are technically [a-rays].
They were able to adapt to and live in today’s environment, but they do not have any superhuman abilities.
They are building a country in an attempt to remake their old civilization. They have a cease-fire with the Hundred Species of [a-rays].
[Babel’s Tale] Taisen | The Great War
After the death of the planet, war broke out between [mankind] and the One Hundred species of the [a-rays].
[mankind] fought to survive; the [a-rays] fought to rule the world.
Under the [six-sisters] who united the disorganized [a-rays], [mankind] was on the verge of defeat.
Near the end of the war, humanity created the [knights] and [mankind], further killing the already-dead planet.
There was no victor in this war. It was interrupted by an enemy that appeared suddenly and nearly wiped out both sides.
[Ether Liner] Kishi | Knight
Life forms extremely affected by the harsh environment. They wield special weapons called [demonic swords]. They are extremely aggressive and can fight [a-rays] on equal footing without any guns of the old age. There are currently 78 enlisted [knights].
[knight arms] Maken | Demonic/Magical sword
What we call the weapon the [knight] carries.
All [humankinds] born in this world are affected by the [grain]. Babies born with large amounts of [grain] in their bodies grow this material like bones throughout their lives, and when they reach adulthood, it manifests outside their bodies. Because these materials are created by the indescribable [grain], they are able to cause strange effects and are strong enough that we consider them weapons.
Only a few humans can shape a [demonic sword], and those who carry [demonic swords] powerful enough to be used in war are considered [knights]. Only one [demonic sword] may exist per [knight].
Space dust. This is the name given to all harmful and unpredictable particles emitted from the non-functioning planet. Although it is harmful to humans, it will sometimes uniquely warp their bodies instead. Some call it mana/ether. The Hundred [a-rays], [mankind], and [knights] are all new species created by this [grain]. The energy transfer rate of the [grain] in the atmosphere is unbelievable. It has resulted in a new kind of warfare that was never before possible on earth.
With [a-rays], who take [grain] into their bodies, and the [demonic swords] manifesting from [grain], all weapons of the old become useless.
i Original Sin
After I came back from work, I saw an angel in my room holding a guitar. I guess I’ve finally gone insane. She had long, wavy blonde hair and wore a pure white one-piece dress. Her face still had hints of girlish youth, and she had… a ring of light floating over her head? If this wasn’t an angel, I sure as hell didn’t know what one looked like.
“Good evening.” The angel bowed and smiled awkwardly.
Rubbing my eyes, I walked inside. The angel kept standing in the middle of the room holding the guitar, looking at me with some kind of anticipation.
“Okay, who the hell are you?”
“I’m an angel.” She laughed. She smiled, a real one this time.
“Yeah, I can tell. What I meant was, why are you in my room? If you’re here to sell yourself, you came to the wrong place. I hate to say it, but I don’t make enough to buy an angel.”
“Oh, I’m not here for that. Hm, what’s the best way to say it? I’d like to do your housework.”
“I can do it myself. Get out.”
“Now, I can’t do just that. I can do anything!”
Since she was full of confidence, I let her clean up the place. The result was more gruesome than an old tragedy.
“…uh, my cooking’s perfect,” the angel said, quickly putting up her pointer finger.
“No thanks. I can’t eat factory produced food. It’s too nutritious; my veins will rupture. You understand me?”
The angel nodded. It seemed like she at least knew I was a human and not a member of an a-ray species.
“Okay, so what else can you do?”
“I can play the guitar!” she said, happily, stroking the guitar.
Her blue guitar was the type that used electricity to make sound.
It wasn’t the sort of thing that fit aesthetically with angels. And it wasn’t just that. She was terrible.
“Get out.” I took the angel by the hands and forced her outside.
A few days later I went to the hospital.
“There is nothing wrong with your brain,” answered a fish-faced doctor.
Every day after finishing my work, I wasted energy chasing away the angel. Eventually, I gave up.
“The sky is dark,” the angel murmured as she looked out at the sky from the window.
An angel who didn’t even know that. Figures. She didn’t seem to be one of the artificial a-ray angels.
“Hey. Where did you come from? I’m guessing you’re not an a-ray living on this side of the divide.”
“I’m not an a-ray.”
“Then what are you?”
“I’m a being created from the hopes and dreams of the people of this city. That’s why I’m so pretty. I’m glad everyone had such… pure… souls.” The angel twirled around happily, the edge of her skirt flaring outwards like a dress.
Now that she mentioned it, I could see how unreal she seemed. She was too beautiful for the land of steel. Her golden hair was so dazzling it seemed like the warning colors of the poisonous animal.
So that means she’s an illusion only I could see?
“…why is the manifestation of everybody’s imagination in my room?”
“Because you killed me!” She seemed madder that I hadn’t realized who she was than that I’d ‘killed’ her. When I asked her if she came here to get revenge, she simply answered, “What’s revenge?”
The angel turned out to be pretty handy, and over time learned many things. Now she’s apparently grasped what cleaning means. The only exception to her skill was anything involving the guitar.
“I’m not getting better at guitar at all. I’m playing it just how I imagine it, but what I’m thinking and what’s coming out are completely different.”
Oh, so there was a song she wanted to play. Too bad she wasn’t getting any better.
“No shit. That guitar hasn’t been turned.” Yeah. It was messed up from the beginning.
The angel tilted her head and asked, “What’s tuning?”
Angel Notes i
[cloud sky] Sora ga Kurai | The Sky is Dark
The sky is covered by clouds. Thick layers of clouds hide the sky since the [great war]. The sky isn’t gray. They just cannot see it.
[No.20 Guardian Angel] Tenshi | Angel
The artificial [angel] species of the Hundred [a-rays]. The 20th species out of 100. Equal in power to the top 10 [a-rays] due to their destructive ability. A group that protects one [a-ray] species. Based on the angel of the largest religion of the old world. A humanoid kind with bird’s wings.
They are aggressive and absorb the heavy [grain] scattered throughout the atmosphere after the world’s end for energy.
[Last-Seed] Ningen | Humans
The unmodified kind of human. They are no longer able to live on this planet. It is said they are on the verge of extinction.
They need mechanical or medical support to go outside. They cannot inhale the air directly or eat factory-made. These strengthen them too much and become poisonous.
They are rare but have no value.
ii Public Garden
A female body with wings on its back. A beautiful shape. That life form is called an angel.
I shot down twenty of that kind of angel down a day for my job. That why I wasn’t surprised that an angel saw me as an enemy.
I came to this city a year ago. It’s the strangest city in the land of steel. No plants can grow in the soil of this planet. In this city, however, there are many grey trees, and even some withered gray grass at the top of a hill. On the hill at the heart of the city, there are two giant trees that cover the sky. They reach the sea of clouds. They are called the world tree for their size.
I chose to be an angel hunter. Here, angels came down from the sky every day and attacked people like wild dogs. It was more an annoyance than a real problem, but if we left them alone, the city would be filled with angels. So, the city council hired hunters. I don’t know if the angels had set landing spots, but I mostly saw them in the forest on the edge of the city.
Pulling the trigger of my gun, I felt the kickback in my shoulder. The naked angel slammed into the floor as the bullet hit its forehead. The forest floor was covered with leaves and countless dead angels. Walking across the rough earth, I re-entered the walled city. A beast man who handled another sector waved his hand as he approached me.
“Hey. How’s it going?”
“Eh. Three coppers per kill, considering the cost of the bullets I won’t have a single copper for myself.”
“It’s ‘cause you use a gun. Be a man and use your body.”
“Look, I’m sorry but I’m not that strong. I need medication to get oxygen from the air. I’m just trying to live.”
“I see. You humans are useless.”
“Yeah. Being human is useless.”
Yes, in this world humans are definitionally useless. That’s why humans in the old world would make lots of interesting tools. And so, a-rays were invented, and that caused the great war.
That’s how pure humans died.
After the freeloader angel started living at my house, I took on more work. That angel ate food. The factory made materials for free, but only so much. I had to increase my daily quota from twenty to thirty.
…How strange to kill angels to feed one angel.
“You’re working hard lately.”
“I’m just releasing my pent-up aggression. My targets look a lot like the source of my stress. Makes this lame job exciting.”
I couldn’t help myself and just… said it. The beast man tilted his head.
“It’s a good thing you’re so dedicated. But look out, they say some Knights were inspecting the forest. A Demonic Sword user was looking at you.”
“…what does that mean? Is an Aristoteles coming this way?”
“Dunno. More importantly, they’re apparently lowering our pay again this month. That’s a more pressing issue.”
“Right. Is the financial bureau ready to finally kill us?”
“Well I’ve never done anything wrong.”
Said an ex-con who killed over fifty humans.
The beast man sighed as he looked at the dead angels littering the forest.
“Hey, you think we can eat them?”
He muttered this bad idea.
“Forget it. You’d be punished by heaven for it, I’m sure.”
I said the obvious answer and shrugged my shoulders.
Angel Notes ii
[ ONE] Aristoteles
8 life forms that appeared near the end of the [great war]. Unknown existences. Not just their appearance, but each of them has a significantly different biology. The reason for this name is unknown, but its origin is probably a scientist from the old world.
They consider [mankind] and [a-ray] their enemy alike, and repeatedly attack them without distinction. They broke [mankind] completely, and severely diminished the Hundred [a-rays].
After the [great war] ended, they retreated to the sea of clouds covering the planet, but they continue to slaughter all living things.
Since that moment, there is a cease fire between the human species and the [a-rays]. Until they destroy their common enemy, they are all [mankind.]
On my way home, an angel grabbed my arm. Not the angel in my house, but a real, a-ray species angel.
“You’re not very social lately. Rejecting a pretty person like me, you must be impotent.”
She said that as she pushed me into the bar and offered me a drink. It’s true. I hadn’t spoken to her for over half a year.
While we were chatting casually, a bunch of hecklers butted into our conversation, saying the angel should go out with another a-ray instead of “that human.” I agreed, but she shut them up with a glare.
“I’m sorry, were you offended?”
“Yeah, I don’t feel great about it. But, they’re right. Why do you care about someone like me? Don’t a-rays sleep together for the good of the race? I can’t father strong children.”
“You’re not that bad an exception, are you? Besides, we care more about appearance than breeding. There aren’t many species equal to angels, and you’re my type, so there’s no problem.”
She said all this as she drank the purple fizz in her glass.
She looked like a real angel, but her wings weren’t for flying. Instead, they were a sort of capture dish for the heavy particles in the air. Angel a-rays could fly without wings. Once the protectors of the a-rays called the Six Sisters, angels were considered to be equal in power as the Demonic Sword wielding Knights. Another way of saying it would be that they have the destructive capacity of a nuclear bomb all on their own.
As we drank more and more of our true selves were revealed, she asked a weird question.
“Hey, why do you use a gun?”
“Humans can’t use grain like you a-rays, y’know. We’re not that strong, either, so it’s only fair we rely on weapons. What other useful firearms are there other than a gun?”
“Huh. That means humans weren’t made to fight. So why do you still fight?”
“Well, let’s see. If I remember correctly, my family was killed when I was small, and that’s when I dug up a gun and took up shooting so I could get my revenge.”
Yeah, it’s typical. I tried to laugh, but I couldn’t. I was never good at forced smiles.
“But doesn’t them being family mean they were the same species as you? I’ve never heard of any humans living around here.”
“I never did tell you. I was originally born in the Western Lands, on the other side of the great rift.”
“The Western Lands… you mean the continent that got wiped out by the Black Aristoteles…?”
Surprised, she fell silent. When the Western Lands were scorched, I was a child of only 12 or 13.
An old story now, almost 7 years old.
“By the way, do you still have that job?”
“I do. There aren’t any other opportunities for a halfwit like me. I don’t want to be protected like a rare species, either… what are you still upset about the angel-killing? They’re not the same kind as you. Don’t be so worried, it’s silly.”
“I am worried. I don’t care when others do it, but it makes me angry to think that you of all people kill angels every day. Why do you hunt angel?”
…Because I am twisted.
“…It’s my job, I can’t help it.”
I said that without looking in her eyes. She looked at me coldly, seeing through my lie.
“You’re right. You don’t think. That’s why you don’t feel pain. But you don’t feel happiness either. You don’t even enjoy your own memories. Your life must be like your life-support machines. That’s why you have to rely on simple logic to motivate yourself.”
The angel said that with an unhappy expression on her face. But what’s so wrong with being a machine? The theory that all higher life forms have emotions was the the real fantasy.
“What’s wrong with you today? You’re so picky.”
“No kidding. It’s ‘cause you won’t talk to me.”
“I don’t find drunk angels hot.”
“What do you mean? Sure I look this way, but I’m very popular back home.”
Answering yeah, yeah, I sipped at my drink. I was supposed to restrain myself tonight, but looks like I’m passing out before her.
The angel asked me her last question.
“Why do you fight?”
Because I don’t want to die.
“Why don’t you want to die?”
Probably because I want to live.
“Why do you want to live?”
Because I never got to experience anything good.
“Is that so. You’re an underdeveloped life form, needing a logical reason to live like that.”
With those words, she left me first.
But how could I help it. The world died once already because mankind lived by its instincts, and the only punishment for those left behind was being forced to rely on their pessimistic reason.
Angel Notes iii
[No. 1 earth saving system] Rokunin Shimai | The Six Sisters
Being that ruled over the Hundred [a-rays] during the [great war].
It’s said they look like humans, like fairy-tale witches with black hats riding broomsticks. Each of them had an ability stronger than any of the Hundred [a-rays].
Near the end of the [great war], the young sister, “Judgement,” was defeated by a [knight], and her death scream tore apart a continent. The whereabouts of the remaining five are unknown.
[type:jupiter] Kuroi Aristoteles | The Black Aristoteles
An [aristoteles] that appeared on the western continent.
Black giant dozens of kilometers high. Almost human-shaped.
A mass of black photonic gas; it theoretically could expand infinitely. The unknowable core at its center can only be described as an artificial sun, which emit its gasses.
High kill count of the 8 Aristoteles. The [western lands] were the site of an all out battle, and it wiped them all out without incurring any injures. …Then again this Aristoteles probably cannot be hurt.
After this incident, a team of [knights] was sent to the [western lands]. After a fearsome battle, Knight Edem, the Slash Emperor sliced its core in half with its [demonic sword]. The split artificial sun went berserk and burned entire western continent.
[type:saturn] Jyuujika | The Cross
This cross-shaped [aristoteles] is 3000 meters long.
Its outer shell is made of luminescent material. There is nothing else. Rain made of light fall to the ground from this flying object.
This rain is a meter-long, cross-shaped electric impact that explodes upon contact with the ground, annihilating all living things in its path. It can emit different cross-shaped light, with some causing earthquakes that tear apart the earth it touches. The cross shapes on the ground are just like toms spread across the land.
AKA the Flying Forest, it appears to be the leader of the Aristoteles on the planet.
[Longinus] Black Barrel
A black rifle used by the Gun God. Created by a counter-mineral to the [grain], this weapon is feared by all life forms that carry any slight amount of [grain].
Because all living beings that exist in the world are affected by [grain], none can use or even touch the gun.
The God killer gun. If the target creature is stronger… another way of saying it is the more [grain] in the target, the more powerful the bullet.
Today, only those rare individuals from unevolved species who have no [grain] can touch this gun.
[blood sky] Sora ga Akai | The Sky is Red
The [sky] of this world. Above the sea of gray clouds, the sky is not blue, but red.
This is not because of pollution, but because of the blood of one of the [Aristoteles] that appeared near the end of the [great war], [type:pluto].
In order to prevent [type:pluto’s] entrance into the atmosphere, the [six sisters] fought it and killed each other at the same time. Its blood blankets the planet as a result. The gray cloud is said to be a shield placed by the [six sisters].
In the red sky, the two [Aristoteles] unable to descend further into the planet’s atmosphere swim like fish swim in the sea.
[type:venus] ten no nakigara|heaven’s corpse
An [Aristoteles] estimated to be 1000 meters long. It appeared after the [great war] flying in the sea of clouds. Its shape was never confirmed; its details were unknown.
A winged lifeform. Nearer to [mankind] in shape than its fellow [Aristoteles].
According to records, it was shot down in the [Knight’s] mission carried out in the 83rd year of the new calendar and fell somewhere on the continent. It was once a life form that lands in the soil of a planet and roots itself, spreading spores that eat away at the planet.
It could also be called a gigantic carnivorous plant.
It was put to eternal sleep by the [black barrel].
iv After Images
Slipping through the busy city streets, I returned to my room.
The angel was stubbornly still there.
It’ll be winter soon. The temperature would pass the freezing threshold and the city itself would soon literally freeze.
But I don’t think I’ll be passing a second winter in this city.
“There’s a lot of commotion in the city lately.”
The angel said this as she looked out from the window.
The large window was bigger than the angel and looked like a church-window I saw once in a picture book.
The blond haired, bright-winged angel bent over with a sad expression on her face. Behind her, the city and the two [world trees] blurred like a mirage.
The whole world was that gray steel color. Only the angel was pretty enough to be a nightmare.
The angel looked down towards the distant ground.
The city was full of people trying to leave.
“What is everyone doing?”
“They are all moving out together. A neighboring area was destroyed by the 3000 meter Aristoteles. According to calculations, it’ll pass through this city in three days.”
“Above us. It might collide with the World Tree. Either way, it destroys everything in its path. It’s obvious why people are fleeing.”
“Oh, so that’s why everyone’s so desperate to leave.”
The angel said that and looked down vacantly.
With a last glance at the angel just standing there, I started packing up my belongings. I packed winter equipment and clothing, my personal air maker, and several guns into my bag. I decided to leave everything else behind.
“Are you going too?”
“Yeah, because I don’t want to die. But not right away. I’ll head out on my own after the commotion dies out down there.”
The angel lowered her eyes sadly. Since she always looked happy for no reason, this made her look really lonely.
“…This may be our last day together, so let me ask you a question. What were you, after all?”
The angel made a sigh with nothing under it.
I had only figured out that she wasn’t the kind of angel known to me. That’s why… that’s why I wanted to know the truth, in the end.
The angel answered plainly, “What everyone calls an Aristoteles.” She looked at me like she was surprised I didn’t know.
Aristoteles. A thing that appeared suddenly on this planet and became the enemy of all living things. An unpredictable enemy with no obvious methods of communication, no clear living biological structure.
And that this was in a little city like this, in a room in a deserted tower, shaped like an angel, and playing a guitar? What kind of joke was that? No living thing on this planet could stand up against this creature; what a punishment from God.
“Oh, well, more the thing under this city, to be exact. What I used to be was shot down and fell to this place. It was an instant death. Trees grew there, and people started living on them.”
The angel went on. This planet can no longer raise life. That’s why green things wouldn’t grow; but they could grow in some other life, from somewhere else.
“I’m normally not like this, but it’s how I ended up. What everyone calls the World Trees used to be my wings… or feathers on those wings. The feathers, as they fell, took what used to be my form. I was originally that sort of invasive species. They’re not angels like the ones from this planet.”
“But you’re still shaped like an angel.”
“Because I’m everyone’s fantasy. My old body is already dead, but it seems something like my mind lived on. But I never had a concept of mind. The species of this planet have the wonderful ability to form shapes out of knowledge. Using everyone around me as a model, I made a shape out of the knowledge I’d had but never used. I’m shaped like an angel because it’s the closest shape to what I used to be. That’s how I was able to communicate with everyone; I created similar mental circuits. I was able to become myself by taking this form of the imaginary angel.”
The angel detached herself from the thing called Aristoteles by becoming an illusion. She was able to know herself for the first time by becoming something other than herself.
She’s no one, a realization of an image of an angel imagined by the people on their own.
“Are you happy?”
The angel happily replied “Yes.” Only an illusion stood there.”
“I see. An angel can only live within an imagination.”
The thought of the definition of an angel. Wings, a halo, being really beautiful, and finally, that it’s only an illusion.
After all, the things that bring you hope can only be fantasy.
When I thought about that, the angel sadly answered, “You’re right.”
“I wish I was a real angel.”
Looking more like an angel than any real angel, she said that.
v How A Star Is Born
The huge flying cross moved away into the ashen clouds. It had changed its course and was now disappearing from sight even as it kept pouring down its rain of judgement.
Seems like battle is over.
The plane I was on kept going higher and higher in the troposphere. There was a big hole in the right side of the plane.
The wounded iron bird could no longer follow instructions. It would just keep flying until its died as though that was the dream of all who had wings.
Sooner or later, it would escape the sea of ashen clouds and reach the stratosphere. My body wasn’t built to breathe in such a place. But I don’t need to worry about that. There’s no guarantee I’ll even be alive by the time I reach that place.
I leaned on the wall as I put down my gun.
The door stayed open. Just like before, cold blew in and I could see the earth clearly. The land without color. Even the distant ocean was colorless.
This was a world that was completely dead.
Even so. This land of steel felt so precious, and my vision blurred.
I saw something like this 5 years ago.
That day, the enemy that appeared through the clouds was more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen. A pair of wings. A figure that somehow resembled a human. I shot that thing that looked like an angel. A bullet that was little more than a grain of sand to that thing drilled into its forehead and felled that angel.
In that moment. In that instant I pulled the trigger, our eyes met through the scope. There was no communication. That was all.
But since then, I kept dreaming of that thing falling through the sea of clouds, forever.
The angel that accompanied my plane woke up. One of her wings was ripped horribly.
As a high-ranking kind of a-ray, she was naturally forced to join this mission, and she jumped inside the plane after being badly wounded.
She only came in her to rest her wings, but we were out of luck. The moment she entered the open door, an arrow of light ripped through this plane that was too close to the Cross.
The light tore through her wing and the body of the plane, knocking her unconscious and knocking out the plane’s AI.
And now, several minutes later, the unconscious angel slowly woke up.
“Good morning.” When I said that to her, she turned around and looked out. The thing called the Aristoteles was disappearing into the distance.
I told the barely conscious angel our losses, that our mission had succeeded.
The angel approached me joyfully. Unable to stand up, she crawled along the floor, her hand slipping on something wet. My blood had spilled out over the floor and dyed the angel’s body red.
“When you… shoved me aside?”
Without answering her question, I looked out. Over the endless clouds, the plane kept flying higher.
The sky I saw for the first time in my life looked different from anything I’d read in books.
“The sky, it’s red.”
Repeating a phrase that I had once heard somewhere, I had no more strength in my hand. The Black Gun fell to the floor.
“The Black Gun. So you really were the person who shot the Bird down.”
“…I guess. That’s what people say. But I used all my luck back then. Look at this mess now.”
“Idiot. It’s because you saved me…”
“How could I help it? I couldn’t let a pretty girl like you die in front of my eyes.”
I said something really arrogant. It was so absurd it made me laugh. “That doesn’t suit your character,” she said, agreeing.
We just kept on laughing without looking at each other. In a small, weak, gentle voice:
“You’ve changed. You weren’t this honest with your feelings before. So it is true that you found someone else than me.”
I wonder if there really was such a person. Although if it was the angel who said she’d rather be a fake, she must still be waiting in my room for my return.
They say that angels cure the mind, not the body.
“But that’s not true. People don’t change because of others. I was always like this. I just acted like I didn’t care. I really was a good person. You couldn’t tell, could you?”
“Yes, really. I wanted to become a hero when I was small. I was immature, probably still am… you should go. You can probably still fly down to the ground on your one good wing. You don’t need to come with me.”
She stood up and looked at me with a harsh expression.
“Are you going to be okay? Alone until the end?”
“Didn’t I tell you? I want to look cool. I wanted to be a hero. And I want to be alone at the end… because I was all alone until now anyway.” I think my clumsy forced smile worked. The best one of my life.
Flapping her one good wing, she flew out. She looked like an angelfish, swimming in the red sea.
I stood up and went to sit in the cockpit. Not knowing what I was doing, I tried to fix the broken AI>
If I still had some luck left, my fate might change.
When I closed my eyes, I heard a voice.
“Why did you fight?”
“Because I didn’t want to die, of course.”
“Why didn’t you want to die?”
“Because I wanted to live, of course.”
“But why did you want to live?”
It’s obvious. It’s because…
At the farthest limits of my memory…
Only the answer is different from before.
vi Glitter Love
Just when I was about to leave the city, I was found by a messenger from the military. Someone must have remembered the old stories from 5 years ago and named me for this mission.
When I returned to my room and grabbed the Black Barrel I’d meant to leave to rot, the angel was still there.
“Are you going to fight it, then?”
“Looks like it. The Knights are also assembling, and the military’s eager to try. They’re aiming to change the Cross’s course. If that’s all, it might not be impossible.”
“It’s impossible. No one understands what an Aristoteles is. That isn’t a life form from this planet. There is no change of victory.”
“How could that be? Remember, we’ve already defeated 3 Aristoteles. If we have more fire power than them, they’re not unstoppable.”
“I don’t know about all that. They can’t be judged by this world’s common sense. They don’t even have a concept of death. They won’t stop until they’ve achieved their objective.”
“Objective? You guys had such a thing?”
“Yes. It’s not our objective, but we have it. They arrived to fulfil the last with of this planet. This planet died by the hand of the lifeforms that lived on it. The planet itself doesn’t grieve this. Even perishing at the hand of its own life is all right. A planet only has a will; it doesn’t have meaning. But even it had expectations. The planet could forgive because its life would follow its fate. But mankind was able to live on, even on this dead land. This planet was frightened by the creatures that kept on living on top of its corpse and cried out for help at its death. “Please, wipe out the creatures that still live.”
“I see. That’s what you were.”
When I muttered that, the Angel said no, and shook her head.
“The only ones who heard the planet’s cry were the other planets. I, no, we were the highest ranking species of those planets who heard the earth’s death wish. For instance, the Aristoteles ‘Heaven’s Corpse,’ what I used to be, was the strongest thing on Venus.”
I’d lost my ability to breathe without realizing it. Our enemies were the rulers of alien planets, where our understanding of the world meant nothing. The strongest creature on a planet was the planet itself. Mankind, fighting for our survival, was at war with 8 planets.
“Yeah, we have no chance. You got that right.”
The angel nodded sadly.
“And they have the moral high ground. Ugh. If humanity had accepted out end in the year 2000, we would have gotten away with just being the victim.”
“No! The ones in the wrong are the Aristoteles. They don’t have any will. Isn’t it awful to erase life without even wanting to?”
The angel who learned to understand this world said that.
But “good” and “bad” didn’t matter any more on earth.
The only rule was whether you lived, or you died.
That’s why… that’s why I’ve lived until now. Because I didn’t want to side with death.
“It won’t change anything. I don’t have a reason to fight anymore. I probably never will again. At this point, if we’re killing each other for no reason, we’re all equal. Isn’t that the simplest way to live?”
The angel won’t answer me.
“What are you going to do? Even if you have the same objective, the Cross and you are different things, right? Then your body will be destroyed alongside this city. You said you died instantly, but that’s by our understanding. I doubt how we understand death applies to other worlds. Aren’t you still able to move?”
The angel, looking down, shook her head.
“No. If I move, the outer shells of the wings will shatter. All the leaves on what you call the World Tree will fall. If that happens, uncountable numbers of angels will rain down. If that happens, everyone will die before the Aristoteles even arrives.”
The angel said this gloomily.
She’s right. The leaves on that cloud-scraping tree outnumber humanity. Billions of released angels would cover the whole planet in an instant.
“But you’ll die if you don’t.”
“It’s all right. I am the people here. I am just an image they made.”
“They just gave you knowledge. You are different from us. To you, we are just accessories. You should shake off us. You’ll feel lighter.”
The angel smiled sadly, and once again shook her head.
“You’re an idiot.”
“I know I am. But I can’t help it. I love this place.”
The angel said that with tears in her eyes and odd feeling of satisfaction.
How could I argue with that?
“Okay. I guess that can’t be helped.
Yes, and as the Angel nodded her head, she stared at me. Her unblinking gaze asked me, how about you?
“I’m going to die soon, you know. I think you can least admit that, and the heavens won’t punish you.”
The punishment already came when the planet irresponsibly broadcast its own death. As I packed my belongings on my back, I said.
“Yeah, I’ll be honest, I love this city to. Anyway, since that first moment, I was possessed by you.”
Huh. The Angel’s eyes went wide in surprise.
“What does that mean?”
“It must mean I’ve fallen in love with you since that moment. I only just realized that now.”
When I said that, the angel’s expression sparkled, but she quickly put her head back down.
“But I’m not a human being.”
The angel only just realized that.
Geez. She’s a real idiot.
“You know. There’s only one being left in the whole world, and that’s me. What does that have to do with anything, anymore?”
The angel nodded.
There’s nothing left to talk about. The made my way outside as it grew nearer to the appointed time.
“See you. Go to someone with a better imagination, next time. You can become a real angel if you do that.”
My imagination was always twisted, somehow.
When I looked back at her one last time, the angel answered, no with a gentle expression.
“There’s no such thing as a real angel. I’d rather stay a fake one.”
The fantasy said it would stay a fantasy.
Was that true? Convinced, I left the room.
All that remained in that room was my sister’s guitar, and the fake angel.
Angel Notes vi
[GODO] Jyuushin | Gun God
“His” nickname given to him at the time of the “Bird Drop” mission. Some sarcastically called him a god impersonator. A rare pure human. He excavated the [black barrel] from a sealed vault, and made it his gun. Died during the mission to intercept [type:saturn].
[Ultimate ONE] Aristoteles
Life forms that comes from the other planets.
They were the strongest creatures of their respective planets, and each of them had the power to wipe out the remnants of [mankind] on this world.
The name Aristoteles was given by [mankind]; they had no names themselves. The Aristoteles do not fight each other. They simply fly around killing things.
Several Aristoteles upon coming into contact with [mankind] acquired the human understanding of “knowledge.”
After [type:saturn], who received orders from each planet and disseminated them to the others, was destroyed, they entered the final phase of their war with [mankind].