Part 34: Visual RebuildingPart 34 - Visual Rebuilding
Her tone made it clear that this was an order. On top of that, she spoke almost as if this streetcar belonged to her.
Of course, I had no intention of going inside.
I didn't know who she really was, and she frightened me, and it was a struggle for me to talk one-on-one with a 3-D girl.
I didn't want to get involved with her.
Sena's attitude brooked no room for disagreement.
She didn't stir, but I had no idea what she'd do if I evinced the smallest indication of being about to run away.
Maybe she was actually quite the delinquent. She seemed like she wouldn't have any problem using violence against a guy.
She freaked me out....
But if I showed her even the littlest hint of docility, she'd keep pushing the envelope.
In the past, I'd gotten in squabbles with delinquents countless times.
In such situations, the best thing to do is to run away.
Suddenly, something from behind sent me flying.
Caught off-guard, I failed to brace my legs, and I fell pathetically into the compartment.
Dazed, I turned back toward the entrance to see who the hell had pushed me.
Close outside the streetcar were numerous people who appeared to be waiting for appointments and such, but I couldn't pinpoint anyone among them who seemed likely to be the culprit.
Maybe they're already gotten away.
Why'd they have to shove me down?
Who would do something so awful....?
I must've hit my knee when I tumbled over; it hurt a bit.
I suddenly noticed.
I figured she must've moved it somewhere, but I hadn't heard any noise, and Sena was still sitting down in the same place.
For starters, where would she able to move it?
I didn't spot the chain anywhere in the compartment.
Utterly disregarding my confusion, Sena asked me another incomprehensible question.
"Isn't that why you tailed me?"
Released from her gaze, which had given me the impression that she just might be capable of murder, I felt like I was about to flop down in place.
If possible, I'd have preferred to sit in one of the seats, but when I thought about whether she might pick a bone with me if I did, I found myself unable to act on what I wanted.
"It seems like 'you can see.'"
Sena cast a brief look at me before jerking her chin at the view beyond the window.
"What do you see outside this window?"
Outside the window....
I had the sense that they'd multiplied, compared to before.
Merely looking at them made my head threaten to start aching.
People hunched over, fiddling with their cell phones; people wearing smiles as they talked on the phone; people gazing blankly at the flow of the crowd....
Most of the those I could see from the window were standing still, since they were waiting to meet with someone or other.
Also, with all these people around, how come none of them found it weird that Sena and I were shut up in this streetcar?
None of them even paid any heed to the streetcar itself.
More than that, with all these people around, how come none of them were coming in this streetcar?
"Of course not. Errors definitely exist."
I often thought had similar thoughts.
I didn't mean to say that a rebellious-adolescent worldview was necessarily bad in and of itself.
After all, the world was overflowing with novels and movies and anime with those kinds of settings.
Over a hundred years ago, the Wright brothers had seriously believed, "We can fly in the sky."
Napoleon boasted, "The word impossible is not in my dictionary."
That's why you shouldn't make fools out of those kinds of absurdly big-thinking people. All the powers that be have followed that same path.
Except.... The problem was, why had this girl abruptly started revealing her sweeping, philosophical and ever so typically teenage thoughts to me....
OST: Distorted Theory
"People's bodies obtain information from outside via their five senses, but about 80% of the information they receive comes in through their vision."
I thought absentmindedly that it was similar to a telephone.
Telephones convert one's voice to electric signals and carry that information to distant places.
"Phone? I can't say they aren't similar."
She'd read my mind!?
No, that was outside the realm of possibility. Had I once again been muttering to myself without knowing it?
Of course, I didn't actually put my answer into words.
Huh, I'd been wrong.... I'd never heard of that before.
"It's a type of technology being researched by American physiological psychologists."
"You look as though you're wondering how. But the mechanism is simple."
"In short, all you need is a technology capable of converting it into neural action potentials."
"It's already succeeded in actual tests. A certain team of researchers has finished obtaining a patent for it."
A patent.... Are you serious?
I thought her fantasy was rather well developed, right down to the delicate little details, but didn't saying it had been patented introduce some impossibilities?
"There is something one can infer from that patent."
She slowly re-crossed her legs.
Though Shibuya Station was right there before my eyes, the inside of the streetcar was peculiarly quiet. It felt as if all sound were being blocked out.
It was an illusion, of course.... But I couldn't help remembering my delusion of "an empty Shibuya" from several days earlier, and I couldn't take my eyes off the crowd moving outside the window.
"Electricity travels not merely through their brains, but also through all the nerves stretching throughout their bodies."
She dumbfounded me.
She was far, far more delusional than the likes of me or Yua.
What she said sounded kind of logical, but wasn't it obviously made up?
"In reality, the team of researchers that obtained the patent are shifting the contents of their research in that very direction."
"Said contents were perceived as being too dangerous, so much so that the American president sent down a governmental order to halt them."
How much of what she was saying was real?
"But the world is full with corrupted bastards."
"The kind who can ignore morality, sacrificing other people for the sake of their own gain, all without batting an eyelash."
"It makes me sick."
I unthinkingly scooted back, but the wall was close behind me.
"Doubt the world. Know how it operates."
"This world is not perfect."
She turned in my direction.
Muttering that without looking at me, right as she was on the verge of passing me--
She vanished from the train on her own.
The door at the entrance had opened silently, without me realizing it, the same way as the moment it closed.
I felt as though I had been deceived by some trickster spirit.
Through the window, I dazedly watched Sena from behind as she left. She swiftly vanished into the waves of people without turning around even once.
The most I could grasp was that she hated the world. Indeed, it was an archetypal form of adolescent rebellion.
From my point of view, it was a nuisance to have her unilaterally expel her twisted, tinfoil-hat theories at me.
With her tone being what it was, I'd felt like I was at a lecture.
But I was relieved she hadn't attacked me.
Somehow, something about her gave me the sense that she was likely to go around beating people up without caring who they were.
Wanting to take a breather, I settled down into the seat that Sena had occupied earlier.
Immediately after, a delinquent-looking couple abruptly entered the compartment.
And after them followed a trio of obviously delinquent kogals, and then an aging older man, and even a young, suit-wearing salaryman.
In practically an instant, the streetcar became cramped.
SFX: Computer Noises
Grim: You know, Lord Neidhardt
Grim: You say you aren't interested in 3-D girls
Grim: But haven't you been getting along with all kinds of 3-D girls lately?
Grim: You said before that one of them barged into your house
Grim: You've really hit your stride with the ladies
Neidhardt: Okay, listen up
Neidhardt: I'll acknowledge that I have more opportunities to talk to cute chicks
Neidhardt: But look....
Neidhardt: Every single one of them is mental!
Neidhardt: You try being on the receiving end of their crazy talk
Naturally, I didn't think they were true, but it shouldn't take more than a little investigation to determine whether the parts about the patent and the presidential order were real or fake.
Which was why, with Grim as my backup, I soon began running some searches.
I researched with the help of one of Grim's acquaintances, an American resident.
Meh, but it wasn't like we were going to find anything.
Nowadays, you can't believe anyone without a good source.
Grim: Shiho contacted me
Neidhardt: It's nonsense, right?
Neidhardt: That psycho bitch
Neidhardt: She must've been making a fool out of me, thinking I wouldn't know English anyhow
Neidhardt: Don't underestimate the Net!
Neidhardt: Here endeth the lesson
Grim: It exists
Grim: He went outta his way to translate it
Grim: For now, I'll upload it
Neidhardt: You gonna troll me again?
Grim: You have no faith in me, lol
Grim: Then again, that's because I'm usually up to no good, lol
Grim: So should I invite Shiho here?
Grim had tricked me all the time up till now.
If I trusted him like usual here, I'd end up seeing something mind-breakingly nasty.
But he had a source, and he was even saying he'd invite Shiho....
Neidhardt: If you're trolling me again, I'm gonna kick you out of the guild
Grim: Believe me just this once
"Dammit, I'm such an easy mark!"
Heart beating a little faster, I clicked the link while narrowing my eyes to keep from seeing anything clearly all at once.
OST: Distorted Theory
It was a document written in English, with a strange diagram below it. In the middle of the diagram was drawn something resembling a human face.
The headline was "United States Patent." 'Patent' must mean the same thing as 'tokkyo' in Japanese....
In other words, this was....
"It's already succeeded in actual tests. A certain team of researchers has finished obtaining a patent for it."
Next, I opened one of the two attached text files. Therein was a translation of some news that had touched on the subject of this patent.
As it was undertaken with health care in mind, this research has drawn the attention of blind people throughout the world.
It is a landmark invention that allows even those who have been blind since birth to see what lies around them by via the use of filming devices, such as video cameras.
To provide a simple explanation of the technique involved in this,
It has already met with success in tests, and they have also acquired a patent.
"A patent.... It's really been recognized...."
The things Sena told me hadn't simply been adolescent delusions?
I gulped and opened the other text file.
No organization may conduct classified experiments on human subjects, nor may they support such efforts, in the absence of informed consent. This order takes effect on March 27, 1998 or, if the legislative process permits, before that date.
An executive order from the American president....
Its contents were the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a movie; I hadn't imagined even this would be part of reality.
I tried following the linked URL, just in case. Even I can read English text. In spite of my appearance, I'm way smarter than those slackers who attend school every day.
But the contents actually written there were indeed the same as the translated text.
"Would not it also be possible to control all of people's five senses, as well as their free will itself?"
What concerned me more than anything else--
Sena's intentions in deliberately saying these things to me.
Did it have anything to do with me?
Because there remained the possibility that I was a sleepwalker.
It seemed that on the day of the third New-Gen incident, the "staking", I had gone to @Cafe and posted in a chat as "Shogun," though I remembered nothing of it....
Besides, I didn't have any memory of Rimi. Apparently she was a friend I'd been classmates with for over a year, and whom I'd hung out with countless times, but she didn't exist in my memory.
For starters, there was no way I'd be able to become close to a cute girl like Rimi, given how bad I was at talking to 3-D girls....
At least, the part about the chat was purely Yua's fantasy.
"Shogun" existed separately, and all he'd done was try to entrap me.
Setting aside the matter of whether his real identity was the elderly man who had appeared in front of the 107 building in a wheelchair.
What if Sena, too, were an associate of "Shogun"?
Maybe she was attempting to mislead me.
Don't swallow it without a grain of salt. Don't believe a suspicious and unfamiliar girl like her. Sena and Yua were birds of a feather.
It'll be okay this way, right, Seira-tan....
The post-awakening Seira looked at me sorrowfully.
Kusunoki Yua's slim, lithe fingers moved as if it were dancing.
Her gaze was constantly fixed on the monitor. She touch-typed calmly, making few typos.
She was writing an email.
In addition, it was a rather long one. Yua had already spent close to thirty minutes thinking of her message and polishing it as she went on writing.
Her fingers stopped moving without warning.
The cursor blinking on the monitor scrolled along as it sped its way toward the left side of the screen.
The long composition she had been writing up until now vanished in the blink of an eye, together with the cursor's movement.
This had become a habit of hers as of late. If she weren't embracing something like this, she would grow unbearably anxious.
"....Please.... Give me courage...."
Yua's expression was strained as she murmured quietly to no one in particular.
One after another, the monitor displayed the characters she typed with graceful gestures.
Kusunoki Yua posted:
Hello. This is Kusunoki.
I would like to talk with you one more time, Nishijou-kun.
I will go to your place tomorrow, at 5:00.
It was exceedingly short and simple, compared to the text she had previously erased.
After some hesitation, Yua went ahead and clicked the "Send" icon.
"Ah.... I sent it...."
The mail finished sending without giving her a chance to stop it.
Yua embraced the Gero-froggy on her knees again, harder. From then
on, she continued staring at her monitor for over an hour.
There was a reason I had come to @Cafe yesterday and today in succession.
Plus, she was presumptuous enough to mention that she wanted to talk with me one more time.
Don't fuck around with me, I'd like to say to her.
What's with saying "I want to talk with you" after deceiving me? There's nothing you could possibly have to tell me.
Anyway, she must've come up with a new plan to entrap me or something. I'm not gonna play along with her.
Yes, I wasn't used to conversing with girls. As a result, I'd been totally taken in when Yua made a play for me.
Seeing me like that, she'd been secretly mocking me.
And then there were her incomprehensible delusions.
I have plenty of delusions myself, but mine doesn't cause any inconvenience to other people.
But she'd regurgitated her theories at me in a way that almost made it seem like I was the New Gen criminal.
I'd never forgive her.
And so I'd ignored her email, but one thing still concerned me.
Which was why I'd taken refuge in @Cafe, even though today wasn't a school day for me.
If possible, I'd have liked to bring my Di-Sword for good luck, but unlike Sena, I didn't have the guts to walk around the shopping district carrying it with me.
All that aside, it was pretty tiring to spend almost half the day at a net cafe.
The reclining seat was comfortable, and the store interior even came equipped with showers, but I certainly couldn't make myself feel as at home as in my base.
Besides, the biggest problem was Seira-tan's absence.
Spending these past two days shut up in @Cafe had really made me see just how vital Seira-tan's existence was to me.
I wanted to return to my base fast.
By that time, the last train would have run, and I didn't think even Yua would be lying in wait for me.
I had another four hours to kill before midnight.
It'd go by quickly if I played ESO, but....
My secondary character, Liselotte, was standing there with nothing to do.
Except, we hadn't been able to find a source for the part about "controlling people's free will and physical movements." Maybe that aspect of it was purely in Sena's head.
Because mixing the truth with a tiny bit of a lie was a particularly skillful and effective method by which to threaten someone.
I absentmindedly contemplated Liselotte inside the screen.
"Liselotte, is the view you see the real thing?"
I muttered in a soft voice, so as to keep anyone nearby from hearing me.
I had pondered something similar before.
The world that I was currently looking at: Liselotte's world, Baselard, may have been the real thing to Liselotte, but to me, it was artificial.
This suggested that "the world I'm in," which the person behind me gazed at, was also something artificial.
However, in the same way that Liselotte couldn't recognize me, a higher-order being, I too failed to recognize the higher-order being who was the person behind me.
I wondered if Liselotte was thinking the same kind of thing as me.
At least, without my intervention, she wouldn't even be able to move under her own power.
Then what about me?
This sequence of movements, was it a product of my own will?
SFX: The door opens behind Takumi
The door that set apart this private room was opening; I heard it at my back. I simultaneously sensed someone enter.
Startled, I turned--
OST: Gradually Panic
I was about to cry out in dread.
That hand of hers was feverishly hot, and my nose picked up on the scent of her sweat.
"Don't make a sound."
"Promise me you won't."
"You'll promise, won't you?"
"You won't say you aren't going to?"
"You'll do it, right?"
Before I knew it, Yua had pressed down on my shoulders with stunning strength, and I couldn't get up from my chair, either.
Yua's gaze pierced me coldly at point-blank range.
When I averted my eyes, unable to endure it, I saw the three Gero-froggies attached to the bag hanging from her shoulder.
Positive, Negative or Neutral?