Part 102: A Peaceful WorldPart 102 - A Peaceful World
As for Suwa, he had long since grown completely accustomed to hearing it.
And it was precisely because he had this sound that he'd been able to murder the heart of Nishijou Takumi, a Gigalomaniac. He uplifted an internal prayer of thanks to God for it.
Suwa would never forgive Nishijou Takumi. He'd dared to drive Hazuki to suicide.
Hazuki, Suwa's childhood friend, whom he had lived with constantly, ever since he was born.
Both of their respective parents were followers of the Cosmic Church of The Divine Light, and God and the great Founder had been there for them since birth.
Suwa and Hazuki were raised together as children of the whole sect. It had also been the great Founder's will that they bind themselves to one another.
And so the two of them obeyed their sect's teachings, to the point of offering up the life of the child residing in Hazuki's belly.
Even now that Hazuki had reached martyrdom, he was convinced they had done the right thing all along.
Although, midway through, he'd gotten pretty panicked when his senior, Yasuji Ban, pointed out the contradictions in the "group dive" video.
The video Suwa uploaded to MewTube had been recorded by projecting his memories. But since some time had passed since the incident, parts of his memory of it had grown ambiguous.
He didn't recall the exact details of the scenery, but since the video wouldn't seem very real without that sort of thing, he'd gone out of his way to look at the photos hanging in the lobby of Cornelius Tower.
As a result, the video had become more realistic, but he'd picked the wrong picture to work from.
He certainly hadn't guessed that something would look so strikingly different between the Tower's completion and the present.
Then again, that too had been suppressed, thanks to the great Founder's influence. Suwa would have issues with anyone who underestimated the power of the man who had founded the Cosmic Church of The Divine Light.
He had governmental connections, and he'd even slipped several believers into the management at police headquarters.
No matter how much the likes of Ban howled, it was only natural that he hadn't been able to do a thing about it.
Suwa's occupation as a detective. Hazuki's occupation as nurse.
The support of the pressure the great Founder put on the police and the media. The Noah System terminals provided by Nozomi Technology.
Making full use of these things, both Suwa and Hazuki had focused solely and intently on killing.
After they forced him to awaken as a Gigalomaniac, they would kidnap him and harvest his CODE sample.
Alternatively, by cornering the Nishijou Takumi who had been created from delusions, they would lure out the real Nishijou Takumi, capture him, and harvest his CODE simple.
Real or a copy, it didn't matter, as long as he was Nishijou Takumi.
Which was why Suwa had posed as Nishijou Takumi, using a wheelchair.
It was the divine mandate that had been passed down to Suwa and Hazuki and something they had to accomplish, no matter what sacrifices were demanded of them in the process.
And now, despite losing Hazuki, he had already overcome the tribulations set by God.
Recollecting the face of the woman who had once loved him, and whom he had loved in return, Suwa clenched his back teeth together as though withstanding grief.
And next he walked up to Nishijou Takumi, whose heart he had just slaughtered.
"aha.... ah.... eheheh.... heh...."
Her chest dyed crimson in her father's blood, she laughed. Drool hung slackly from her mouth. Her eyes were unfocused.
His mood having sobered, Suwa gave her a glance. "That girl's done for," he muttered inwardly.
Whatever the case, he was through with her, and he didn't detect much of a need to kill her.
Excluding Kusunoki Yua, since she was an irregularity and no one had conceived of her being a Gigalomaniac, that left Nishijou Takumi and Orihara Kozue.
It must surely have been to the guidance of the divine light that, here and now, these two had come tumbling into Suwa's hands.
Suwa was grateful to Heaven and the great Founder, for how his deeds were thus proven to have been perfectly in the right.
Upon walking up to Takumi, he dropped to his knees, grabbed the slumping Takumi's upper arms, and attempted to drag him upright.
But Takumi had gone totally limp, rendering him incapable of standing. His heart had died utterly.
"Ah, ah, aaahh, aaaaahhh--"
i blink my eyes. where is kozu-pii?
she's fixed to a weird piece of art. rimi is at her feet, all tied up.
something is strange about kozi-pii. her clothes are torn to pieces. and creepy-crawling.
creepy-crawling? what is?
her skin is. her thin skin is.
like on her cheeks. on her neck. on her arms.
around her belly button. on her thighs.
creepy-crawling. groping and groping.
not just one. ten.... twenty.... around thirty?
they must be parasites. gross little caterpillars.
"Iii, iiiiii, gii, gii, aaaaahhh--"
kozu-pii flails her head around, shake shake. her eyes are crazy. she's drooling, slobber slobber.
her face looks really stupid. it's kinda entertaining. and she's wearing something on her head.
lots of cords stick out of it. like a toy. like a "transform us into anything set."
a old guy i've never seen before. who? who? who?
"I see, so you've unconsciously synchronized with Orihara Kozue's delusion. You're quite a curious one, aren't you."
"There's no need to rush things. After her, I'll treat you to as much torture as you like."
i'm next? no way.
I'm next? no way.
I'm next? No way.
I don't want suffering, I don't want pain....
"You can stop him."
"You can stop him now."
My wrists should've been bound behind my back. But as if it had a will of its own, the cord loosened and fell away.
Tied up, lying there, Rimi turned her gaze alone in my direction. Her eyes were pleading with me.
The vast machinery letting out an eerie hum, residing in state at the center of this dome-shaped space.
This was Noah II itself. She was urging me to shatter it.
Rimi's eyes pleaded with me.
A tall, intellectual-looking man--Norose--had his back turned to me, and was watching Kozu-pii being tortured with a businesslike look on his face.
He hadn't noticed my movements. There were no other people around. Not even Suwa.
I was scared.
What if Norose caught me in the act? What if I failed? I trembled when I thought about it.
There was something wrong with this game, entrusting the fate of the world to the likes of me.
But-- I had to do it.
I found myself able to make up my mind about it unexpectedly fast. Maybe I'd grown stronger.
That's right, I'm strong. I'm strong--
I stood up. Slowly. Norose still hadn't noticed.
He was kind of a dumbass, for being the last boss. Was it so much fun to watch Kozu-pii suffer?
It disgusted me. I gritted my teeth.
Ripples appeared in the air. And a blue light. I took hold of it. I felt it.
Neither cold nor hot. Neither hard nor soft.
I drew it out of the Dirac sea. A long, long sword settled in my hand.
Now he noticed, albeit too late. I real-booted my Di-Sword.
I sent particles flying into the dead spots of everyone here. It didn't require any concentration.
It didn't matter how it operated. All I had to do was imagine it.
I gripped the hilt of my Di-Sword in both hands. Its glow transformed from blue to red.
"Your heart was supposed to have died..."
Norose looked at me with disbelief written on his countenance. He was recoiling.
Raised my sword.
And had a delusion.
That this was a sword of light. It possessed amazing powers, like the ability to slice the air.
If I released its full potential and swung it all the way, it could turn anything in the world to dust.
"Eat it, this is--"
I couldn't come up with a name for my special move right off the bat. So I gave up on shouting an attack name, like in a shounen manga.
Morning. I'd opened my eyes to the sound of my alarm clock, and I looked up at the sky as I brushed my teeth.
Two months since that tumult. Shibuya was still in the midst of reconstruction.
As New Year's passed, Shibuya had begun recovering its previous bustle and gaudiness, little by little.
A voice called me.
OST: Tender Hearts
Rimi smiled at me and whipped a salute.
"I'll hurry up and make you some breakfast."
These past two months, Rimi had practically been coming to my base on a daily basis, and she cooked for me every time.
Apparently she herself had never done any real cooking before, so it doubled as practice for her.
I wanted to tell her not to turn me into her guinea pig, but it made me happy to be able to eat a girl's home cooking, so in the end, I just bit the bullet.
Suimei Academy had been closed ever since the earthquake, but today it was reopening.
I was going to seize this as my chance to stop my half-hikikomori lifestyle and start seriously attending school.
"It makes me happy, getting go to school with you again, Taku."
Rimi said as she cracked an egg.
Carrying inside the two-servings' worth of toast and and scrambled eggs Rimi had made, we laid them on a low table. Then we sat side-by-side on the sofa.
However, Rimi had done the same thing almost simultaneously, and our fingertips brushed atop the container of butter.
OST: Tender hearts
What a classic love-comedy development. Though I smiled wryly at it in my head, my eyes soon met Rimi's, where she sat close beside me, and my heart started pounding.
Rimi didn't take her eyes away from me, either. Nor did she pull back her hand. Both of us having gone rigid, we gazed at each other with our fingers still touching.
I found myself naturally holding Rimi's hand in return. And as I neared her lips--
"Flirting this early in the morning?"
"Na, Nana-chan, good morning, tahaha...."
"Nanami, don't do stuff like that, it's bad for my heart...."
"Haah, you and Rimi-san sure get along well."
"Makes me kinda jealous...."
"Hey, hey, but seriously, how far have you gone?"
"H, how far?"
"You're always like that. Don't play dumb, just tell me, Rimi-san."
Apparently Nanami had settled on Rimi as her target.
"Wa, wait. Don't make fun of me."
"It's okay. Tell me~"
"I'm not gonna tell."
"Then you tell me, Bro. How far you've gone."
Forget about telling or not telling, we haven't so much as kissed yet. Aaahh, I'm such an idiot, a dumbass. I'd had so many chances before now.
At this rate, it felt like I'd probably never graduate from being a virgin.... haah. Depressed by my own uselessness, I took a gulp of milk.
"If you dawdle too much, maybe Nana's gonna steal him."
I pulled a ginormous spit-take.
"Bro, that's filthy."
Haa.... try not to surprise me so much....
Passing through Shoutou Park, we took my usual shortcut.
You could see some faint traces of the earthquake in the park, such as how part of the stone wall around the pond remained crumbled. Even so, it was far better off, compared to the wretched state of the heart of Shibuya.
OST: Tender hearts
Yua was sitting on my bench. Turning back in our direction, she put on a soft smile and lowered her head.
"Um, Nishijou-kun, yesterday was a lot of fun."
"I went shopping in Akihabara with Yua."
"Ah, I get it. For dolls, right?"
"Call them figures...."
Meh, but it was true that we'd gone to buy figures.
"I put the new Seira-chan on display in my room right away."
"Eh, Rimi, are you interested in figures?"
When I asked her, she turned a bit bashful.
"Mmm, more so than that,"
"I wanna like the things you like, Taku."
"Waah, what a bold declaration...."
"Then let's go shopping together next time."
"Eh, for real? Thanks so much."
As I switched to my indoor shoes, somebody blew into my ear from behind me.
Goosebumps sprang up on me with a shiver, and I leapt back as I turned around.
"Fufufu. Good morning, Takumi."
"Ah, good morning...."
Ayase abruptly tilted her head at what Rimi had called her--
"It's the first time someone's called me that."
"It isn't too bad."
"Phantasm is having a show. The day after tomorrow."
"If you'd like to, come."
"Are you saying it to me?"
"I'm talking to you, Takumi."
"And to Rimi."
"Wah, really? I'm definitely going."
Phantasm had disbanded once, but word had it that once the new year came around, they'd undergone a rapid revival.
I didn't know what kind of change of heart in her had brought it about, but I wanted to hear Ayase's songs one more time.
"But I'm not letting you have Takumi."
"See you, Takumi."
I hastily put a hand to my mouth.
Teary-eyed, she apologized to him, then finally managed to come up to us.
"Are you hurt? You mustn't run in the halls, Kozu-pii."
Kozu-pii began fidgeting. Then she peered up at my face from below.
"Cause I wanted to tell Takumi-shan reeeeaaal fast."
"Tell me what?"
"Um, you see,"
Her arms were folded, and she had a rather sour expression pasted on her face.
"So Sena-san's come out of the hospital--"
Sena had been hospitalized throughout these past two months. The psychological assault that Suwa had inflicted on her had kept dragging at her the whole time.
Although she wasn't doing anything, she bore a certain aura about her, like she might slap someone across the face any minute now.
I'd been going to visit Sena in the hospital twice a week, but no matter how much I tried to start a conversation with her, in the end, she hadn't listened to a word I said. It had been almost torturously awkward.
Maybe she really, really disliked me. I didn't get along well with Sena....
A sense of tension stretched tautly between us. Rather, I was just getting unilaterally terrified.
"And sooo! When school's over today, let's ceeeelebrate getting out of the hospital."
That was when Sena finally opened her mouth. I cringed. I couldn't meet her eyes.
Sena held something out to me. It was a small stick with "Winner" written on it.
"Ah, it's a winning Crunchy-kun stick."
"I have something to say to you."
"Wh, what could it be....?"
It must've been a figment of my imagination that Sena's cheeks somehow appeared to be blushing pink, right?
"I, I'm.... in love with you."
Her abrupt confession left not just me, but also Rimi and Kozu-pii, staring blankly.
For a second, I thought she was teasing me, but Sena wasn't the type to crack that kind of joke.
Which meant.... ARE YOU SERIOUS?
"D, don't make me say it, you idiot!"
She'd gone all dere and then back to tsun mode, totally of her own accord. No, but even if she said that to me all of a sudden....
A beat too late, Rimi cried out in surprise. Kozu-pii, perhaps still uncomprehending, had her eyes as wide as saucers.
"What, Sakihata. Do you have a problem?"
"Do I ever! It's, ummm, ummm, anyway, you just can't!"
Rimi and Kozu-pii were wildly confused, but the most bewildered one of all was me. To think that she'd made such a proclamation to me.
Without any idea of how to react, I looked up at the clear sky beyond the window.
Somehow, right at the start of the semester, it was turning into quite a noisy day, huh.
--I sure want it to continue.
I wished for it from the bottom of my heart.
Suddenly, I looked at the reflection of my face in the window.
I was hugging my knees in a pitch-black space.
Before me was the sole light source in this space.
It was like a monitor, like a window, like a picture frame.
As I watched it. My emotions lay absolutely still. Or else, maybe my heart was dead.
Then I realized.
Since when had it been a delusion?
"From the beginning."
"Didn't Suwa-kun kill your heart?"
I had been in a delusion ever since then, the whole time....?
"I've succeeded in extracting your CODE sample. I'm finished with you, so do feel free to return to being dust anytime you please."
Yet a single tear streaked down my cheek.
At the very end, I'd gone back to being a loser. I'd run away from the harshness of reality.
"How nice for you, being able to have a pleasant dream at the end."
When you got down to it, I'd been a worthless human being.
I apologized, but I didn't really get why I had to apologize anymore. Nor did I feel any guilt.
And I decided to return to the continuation of my delusion from before. Someone would probably be nice enough to kill me sooner or later.