Yukinari Amano loves guns. After reincarnating into another world, the young man goes on a journey with Dasa, the younger sister of the girl who gave him a second life. However, while on the road, the pair are attacked by a local deity—an "erdgod." No normal person could possibly defeat one—so when Yukinari uses his knowledge of guns and newfound abilities to do the impossible, he becomes worshipped as the area's new god himself!
Get ready for an alternate-reality, gun-and-sword-filled, action-packed adventure!
Prologue: From an Ending to a Beginning
They say that at the moment of death, a person’s life flashes before their eyes. If that was the case, Amano Yukinari thought he really was going to die. A whole host of memories were blinking in and out at the back of his mind. Fragmentary memories, constantly flashing, with no surrounding context. There were even several events that Yukinari himself had almost forgotten. Like when he went to see his first movie with his older sister, which for some reason was an old-fashioned Western. Like when his mother pulled a kitchen knife on his father after he criticized her for pouring money into religion. Like when he waited alone in the waiting room for his sister’s eye surgery to be over. Like when he stayed up all night fiddling with the model gun he bought by saving up his pocket money. Like when his sister baked a big apple pie for his birthday. Like when he accidentally stepped on his sister’s glasses and apologized over and over. The memories seemed to go on forever.
Mu-gen-hou-ei. Dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows.
It is a word that describes the lives of human beings in retrospect: transient and short, like bubbles rising to water’s surface and popping. This was especially true for Yukinari. Sixteen years wasn’t long for a human to live, and Yukinari hadn’t thought of his life as one rich with ups and downs. But even so, as he stood only moments away from crossing the boundary between life and death, countless scenes crossed his mind, one after another. This was surprising. Perhaps his life had left a comparatively deep, emotional impression on his memory, even if he hadn’t been too aware of it. He had believed he’d gone through life not caring about too much—aside from his sister. Maybe, in the depths of his consciousness, something akin to a survival instinct was loath to relinquish the future that was in the process of being lost. But before long, the remembrances passing through his mind connected back up to the final scene. That is—He remembered the vermillion of the flames blanketing his vision. Light and heat that would soon consume everything. It was the period, struck with fatal force, at the end of Amano Yukinari’s life. Whether he looked left or right, the flames stood as a blockade, as if to tell him that this was the end of the road.
It was a house fire. He didn’t know what had caused it. Was it an accident, caused by some old appliance catching fire? Or was it arson? It couldn’t have been that he’d forgotten to turn off the gas or been careless in putting something out. All the cooking equipment in the house worked on induction heating, and neither Yukinari nor his sister smoked. It couldn’t have been his parents, as they rarely came home in the first place. No, none of that mattered anymore. There was only one thing that did.
“Sis!” he yelled out. His outstretched hand was far from reaching beyond the flames. Even if he had been able to reach, it wasn’t as though it would have achieved anything, now that he was surrounded by flames on every side. Even so, he couldn’t help but to reach out. He couldn’t have cared less about himself. But his sister—Hatsune had to be saved.
Her form swayed beyond the flames with an out-of-place smile on her face. Had she come to peace with her fate, or had some part of her mind broken from so much fear and despair? Or maybe she was crying. Her glasses were clouded with smoke and heat, and it was difficult to make out her eyes.
The distance to her couldn’t have been more than two meters, but it felt terribly far. The air burned Yukinari’s lungs as he gasped for breath, and his legs were so shaky, they could give way at any moment. It would be impossible to escape from here now. No, even if they were miraculously rescued at this very moment, it would still be too late. Yukinari’s body wouldn’t hold out until the hospital. He already felt no pain from touching the flames; only the feeling of “heat” remained, burned in his consciousness.
“Yuki...” His sister extended both of her hands toward him.
“Hatsune...” Yukinari stretched his scorched hand further.
His consciousness, blurring in the heat, slowly gave itself over to resignation. Couldn’t he at least reach her hand...? If they couldn’t be saved, he wished to at least hold hands with her so they could stay close to one another. Even if their deaths were unavoidable now... if he could die together with the sister he loved, it would at least be the smallest of consolations. His trembling fingers desperately clawed at red nothingness. And the next moment—The burning ceiling fell down. Ruthless reality bore down upon them, thoroughly incinerating and crushing his wish so small that it couldn’t even have been called a hope. Confronted by the sight of despair itself, Yukinari screamed—
Yukinari shouted himself awake.
For a moment, he didn’t understand what was going on. Was he still dreaming? Yukinari rapidly blinked his eyes. They refocused, and his fuzzy, unclear vision rapidly regained its clarity. His right hand, which he had involuntarily stretched out as he shouted, was grabbing the collar of a young woman who seemed to have been peering at his face. For a moment, he thought she was his sister, but she wasn’t. Not that there weren’t some similarities. She had a vague, easy-going atmosphere about her, and her facial features had a kind look to them. However, she was a redhead, and her eyes were blue; she probably wasn’t even Japanese. And most importantly, this young woman was not wearing the glasses that his sister never let go of, even for a moment.
“Wh-Who are you?” Yukinari asked, and realized only then that he’d been placed on something like a hard bed.
“Calm down,” the woman said in a language he had never heard before, her tone quiet. But Yukinari understood, almost as if he’d known the language from the beginning.
“What the—” What on earth kind of language was this? How could he understand it? But first—who was this woman?
“Calm down, okay?” the woman repeated, and rested her hand on his chest. Yukinari had raised his upper body from the bed and was practically hanging from her collar. Instead of pushing him back down, she gently added just a little weight behind her palm, and laid him on his back again.
Although he was confused, he didn’t fight her hand. After all, he felt something like his sister in her. His kind and gentle big sister. He wondered what had happened to her. He wondered what had happened to himself. Was this a hospital? Had they been brought here and rescued from the brink of death?
As he lay on his back on the bed-like thing, Yukinari surveyed his surroundings. He could immediately tell that he wasn’t in a hospital bed or operating room. The room’s light was being provided by old-fashioned lamps attached to the wall, and even more notably, there was no medical equipment: no ventilator to help him breathe or EKG monitor to read his heartbeat. Instead, there were only metal tools, their purpose unclear, and glass vessels, like flasks and test tubes, giving the room a sinister atmosphere.
It’s like some kind of laboratory...
The thing that immediately came to mind was the stereotypical character Yukinari had so often seen in old sci-fi movies: the mad scientist. In which case, was he about to be operated on? No, perhaps he had been already? He couldn’t see a single scar on his arms, which he knew had been horribly burned—
“Are you sore? Does anything hurt?” asked the woman. She looked like a gentle person, certainly not someone who would conduct inhumane experiments. Not only her words, but also her expressions and small gestures showed genuine care for how Yukinari was faring.
“Who on earth are you?” Yukinari asked back, in place of an answer.
“It... talked!” A voice called out, sounding surprised. It was obvious that it hadn’t come from the woman, who had been beside Yukinari the entire time. “Sis, it... talked!” They sounded as if they had just seen a dog or a cat speak. A small, wry smile broke across the woman’s lips. “Naturally,” she nodded. “‘Man-made and the product of intelligence, they possess all knowledge from birth’—of course, that’s going too far, but I did imprint a functional vocabulary during the procedure, so it’s only natural that he can speak from the beginning.” She turned around to face the person who had spoken to her. It was a girl.
She had a small figure and had her silver hair chopped short, which led Yukinari to think for a moment that she might be a boy. However, the pitch of her voice and the clothes she wore made it clear that she was a girl. He thought she was most likely somewhat younger than the other. She was probably around thirteen or fourteen. He could see a few similarities to the older girl in her face. Given that she had said “Sis” a few moments ago, the two of them were probably sisters. When compared to the older girl, with her intellectual gaze and graceful air, the younger girl seemed somehow awkward and doll-like.
“In his case,” the woman continued, “unless I’m very much mistaken, he was a living human before, so it’s only natural for him to have a sense of self so he could make full use of his knowledge.”
“Oh... Huh.” The girl gave a little nod, but her sky-blue eyes were looking subtly off-center from both her sister and Yukinari. They weren’t focused anywhere in particular, and her pupils were gazing loosely off toward infinity.
This girl, she...Probably couldn’t see. The girl carried a wooden box full of lab instruments to her sister and set it down beside her. She looked confident in her movements. Perhaps she wasn’t completely blind, or she was using sound to roughly determine where things were in relation to her. She seemed to be acting as the young woman’s assistant, or rather, her gofer.
“Dasa. I’m sure you understand, but you have to keep this—”
“...Mm.” The girl called Dasa answered, nodding. Satisfied, the woman turned back to Yukinari and smiled. “Are you okay? Do you remember your previous world? Or—”
“Previous world?” It sounded almost as though he had been reborn. No, more to the point—
“My name is Jirina. Her name,” she said, indicating the girl standing by her side, “is Dasa. Can you remember yours?”
“Yukinari,” he answered, but not without feeling somewhat uneasy and uncertain. Am I... really Amano Yukinari? It was the sight of his hands, held up in front of his eyes, that had caused him to question this. They were unblemished hands, without a single scorch mark. Unlike his face, which he could only see by looking in a mirror, his hands were something he saw virtually every day, and their every contour was branded into his memory. As “palm reading” demonstrates, human hands are unique and come in all shapes and sizes. However...Are these my hands? He felt as if they weren’t. These probably weren’t his hands. The phrase “previous world” crossed his mind once more, along with a bleak memory of fire. Had he—
“Yukinari. What a strange name,” Jirina said, tilting her head slightly. “All right, Yukinari. All this must be very confusing for you, but don’t worry. I’ll give you a full explanation of everything.”
Die? And then—come back to life? No, the more likely situation, as unbelievable as it was—
“It would make me happy if you could trust us,” Jirina said suddenly, with the angelic smile of a young child. All her smiles before now had radiated an air of intelligence and been filled with the kindness of a patient adult, which only accentuated the childish, innocent smile that she wore now and made her look all the more charming.
“Yukinari.” She extended her hand toward him again, this time not to hold him down, but to offer him a handshake.
Yukinari looked silently at the hand offered to him. It was slender and pale, but upon closer inspection it was covered in a number of cracks, cuts, and scratches. It was a worker’s hand. His sister Hatsune, who did the housework in place of their mother, had hands like these. They were the hands of someone who worked in earnest and tried their hardest, even when they weren’t very skilled.
So Yukinari took her hand. Jirina broke into a broad, happy smile. As she lifted him into a sitting position, Yukinari thought idly to himself that she really did resemble his sister Hatsune.
Of course. His sister. Never mind himself—his sister was his priority. What had happened to her?
“Where’s my sister?”
Jirina and Dasa tilted their heads in confusion.
“My sister. Amano Hatsune. Is she safe? Is she alive?”
Ask as he might, no answer came. Yukinari could feel the blanket of silence covering them slowly turning into despair.
On the other side of absolute death, time began anew.
It was a meeting that this world had not foretold.
Yukinari was still unaware that this event would develop into something that would alter the makeup of this entire world—and he would be standing at the center of it all.