Salvage (Part 8)
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|Black Star successfully retrieves Death the Kid from madness, at which point The Great Old One of Power releases the duo and their colleagues to fight Noah in a battle to save not only their teachers but existence itself.|
Salvage (Part 8) is the seventy-ninth chapter of the manga Soul Eater. It is collected as part of Volume 19.
The Book of Eibon, Hidden Section
Continuing from the previous chapter, Death the Kid, still under the sway of madness, re-considers his answer to The Great Old One of Power's question: which kind of power is it that the young shinigami desires? Although Kid initially desired to produce "transsymmetrical unity," he realizes that Black☆Star was correct: to create nothingness is sloppy. A shinigami is responsible for balancing life and death, whereas nothingness is not death and in fact will be the denial of life itself. Kid realizes even human anatomy is not perfectly symmetrical—and that is why he desires symmetry so much, because of "that very impossibility," symmetry is an "aesthetic," and that "ultimate order" is the form of power that he desires.
With this answer to the Great Old One of Power, the madness that possessed Kid has dissipated. Black☆Star welcomes back his friend to sanity, before telling Kid not to feel indebted to him: "Between meisters and weapons it's always give-and-take, so why should it be any different between friends, right?" Black Star then addresses his answer to the Great Old One of Power: the form of power he will obtain is "ultimate power," to aid Kid "in building that ultimate world he keeps talking about." Black☆Star then tells his friend that he is counting on him to fulfill that promise.
The Great Old One of Power questions Black Star's desire: is not an order imposed by force the same as ruling by fear? Realizing Black Star has experienced each of the seven sins—the seven chapters—to the Book of Eibon, the Great Old One of Power challenges Black Star to discover the "hidden chapter," the eighth deadly sin.
Kid realizes that the being was once the Great Old One who governed power, hence that eighth sin would be the idea that "might is right," the power to create standards for justice and order. The Great Old One of Power responds, "Any 'justice' taken too far is its own evil." The being admits he, Lord Death, and others had indeed taken justice too far until it drove someone into madness—which "gave birth to Asura." The Great Old One of Power notes that Lord Death learned from this error so that when he formed another "fragment" of himself, he would give birth to Kid, who would not repeat the same mistakes.
Black Star complains that the Great Old One of Power rambles and that its fears of power leading to madness are misplaced: just because Kid and Black☆Star have power should not overlook that their "other friends" in Spartoi also have power. When Black☆Star names Maka Albarn and Soul Eater as two of their friends with power, the Great Old One of Power announces those two remain in the Sloth Chapter. Realizing that what Black☆Star and Kid are discussing is "harmony" rather than individual power, he announces that he will "place [its] faith in" Black Star and Kid, hence will release them and their peers from the Book of Eibon.
Surprised that escape from the Book is so easy, Kid asks why the Great Old One of Power does not escape as well. The Great Old One of Power explains that "a Great Old One such as myself belongs" in the Book, lest it allow a certain being with aspirations to make himself "ruler of the cosmos [...] to do with me as he pleases." Therefore, as the level of water dips around Black Star and Kid, the Great Old One of Power releases the two and their peers so to fight a certain individual in a "test of power [to] decide which of you is most suitable" to rule existence.
Noah's Base, Outside of the Book
Franken Stein, Marie Mjolnir, Sid Barrett, and Mira Naigus have joined Tezca Tlipoca to surround the location where Noah has hidden. Tezca had once reflected Noah in his mirror, hence could locate the man's very soul. As the adults enter the building—Tezca walking ahead—Stein recognizes he himself has difficulty focusing and thinking straight. In the building's shadows, a creature waits. Noah smirks. The ground below Tezca rumbles until a giant Magic Worm bursts from the floor, ripping apart Tezca and seemingly killing the Death Scythe.
More of these centipedes erupt from the floor, surrounding the adults. As one cuts at Stein, Sid pushes Marie out of the path of another, losing his arm in the process. As the adults get back on their feet, Noah, despite standing far away in the shadows, uses his power to repel Sid and Stein. Disappointed at the performance of such Shibusen elite, Noah considers these adults unworthy of his collection, hence will kill them. He then singles out Stein, considering his fight against madness pointless: in a world in which the Kishin has been released, Stein should, as Justin Law had, "set [him]self free."
At that moment, Justin reveals himself behind Marie, offering a prayer for his god to "punish the foolish" as he attacks Marie. Her chastisement of him is not heard by the Kishin-worshipping Death Scythe, his headphones too loud and Marie's mouth hidden from him to read her lips. Justin knocks her down again, then knocks down the approaching Naigus as well before, gazing onto the Moon, he informs Asura that he has "slaughter[ed]" these "pig[s]."
Noah continues to mock Stein for suppressing his madness, snapping his fingers to cause tendrils to rise from the ground to bind the scientist. Noah then calls upon the Book to release Manticore, a scorpion creature. But Noah then notices a bandaged hand attached to Manticore's tail, reaching from inside the Book's pages. Voices call out from the Book, asking the young man with the bandaged hand to hurry up and pull them out. Sure enough, the hand belongs to Black☆Star, who manages to pull all of his friends across all the chapters out of the Book—and into a dog pile of upended, collapsed, and tired fighters (with Blair resting comfortably atop Kilik Rung's head). But as soon as the Manticore rears its head at Black Star and Maka, the students are back on their feet, in time for Kid to see that they have landed next to the torn and bloody remains of Tezca.
But the students have little time to react, seeing more of the centipede monsters hosting their teachers into the sky. Marie and Sid urge their students to escape. Black☆Star and Kid, furious, knock down the Manticore leaping towards them. The students stand up—Maka and Soul leaning upon each other for support—to face Noah. The greedy villain has found worthy opponents as Death the Kid announces that such a being as Noah has no presence in his ideal world: he must be executed.
- When the Great Old One of Power refers to Lord Death as having taken justice too far, the Mass juxtaposes this remark with information that Lord Death removed part of himself to form Kid as one "fragment," it was so not to repeat the same mistake as with Asura. These comments foreshadow the reveal, coupled with their similar appearance, that Kid and Asura are both fragments of Lord Death, hence siblings.
- The Great Old One of Power's remark, that "any 'Justice' taken too far is its own evil," is similar to a remark by Emine to Shotaro, that justice taken too far is like an eighth deadly sin, made in B. Ichi, Atsushi Ōkubo's previous manga.
- Kid debates with the Great Old One of Power over the phrase "kateba kangun, makereba zokugun," which translates as "If you win, you're the government army; if you lose, you're the rebel army," the equivalent of saying that might makes right, or that history is written by the victors.
- When the Great Old One of Power refers to an individual who desires to rule existence, the remarks hint that this individual is Noah, whom Kid, Black Star, and their peers will battle for the fate of existence. When later chapters reveal Noah is merely a personified extension of The Table of Contents's desires, the Great Old One of Power in this chapter likely was referring to The Table of Contents as the being desiring to rule all.
- Tezca is doubtful that he has located Noah's presence. As he explains that he usually can track the souls of those persons that he has reflected in his mirror, the reason Tezca may be doubtful could owe to Noah's composition: as an extension of The Table of Contents, an icon, and an embodiment of the madness of knowledge.
- Stein's struggle to sense Noah's soul and presence is explained in part as the result of his own fight to maintain his sanity after the Kishin's revival. His nearness of the Book of Eibon may have worsened Stein's madness.
- Justin calls out to Asura that he has "slaughtered another pig in a cage on antibiotics." Typical of Atsushi Ōkubo's writing, this remark is a musical allusion, in this case to a lyric from the 1997 song "Fitter Happier" by English alternative rock band Radiohead.
- Justin's gaze up towards the Moon in his prayers to Asura foreshadow that the Kishin has escaped to the Moon, setting up the battle to unfold in the manga's final chapters.
- A manticore is a Persian mythical beast, with the head of a human, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion.<ref name="SE V19 P190">
- Noah's call of "Manticore! I choose you!!" alludes to Pokémon, the video game series adapted as well into manga and anime, in which characters use similar language when summoning their creatures to battle each other. In the next chapter, Noah will go a step further and, before summoning Horror Dragon, reverse his cap, as the protagonist of Pokémon has done.