Part 47: SacrificesPart 47 - Sacrifices
As though she'd weighed the perfect timing. As though my cri de coeur had reached her.
Rimi had come running to save me from my quandary.
"Ri, Rimi.... Save me...."
Rimi took a quick look at my face, then surveyed the area. Awakening to the fact that the PC was the source of my terror, she put on a furious expression and began typing.
Neidhardt: Shut up, stupid!
Neidhardt: From now on, you'll keep your hands away from Taku!!11!!!
Rimi turned back and gave me a kind smile.
"Say it that way, and you'll be surprised by how fast they pull back."
Would it really work like that....
Rimi could take things nonchalantly because she didn't know much about the Net.
But putting it harshly would probably just make him angry....
To say nothing of the fact that our opponent was "Shogun"....
I held my breath and watched the monitor, and after a little while, Shogun posted another statement.
Shogun: I'll kill you
Shogun-san has left the room
Current members: 1
How could it be....
Like I thought, we'd pissed him off. The tone of his last line was all too clearly different.
"He won't come tromping over here in person or anything."
"More importantly, are you okay, Taku?"
"I'm sorry, you must've been calling me. I was right on my way here, so I couldn't pick up."
"I'm glad I came...."
Even as I listened to Rimi's voice, I couldn't remove my eyes from the monitor.
I couldn't help how the words "I'll kill you" made my heart churn.
"Th, this is awful...."
"I'm here, so it's fine. You've got nothing to worry about."
"H, how could you d, do it...."
"He, he's gonna.... he's gonna kill me....!"
"I have to hurry up and run....!"
Rimi abruptly fell silent. Eyebrows knotted, she looked up at the ceiling, and
"Wh, what's wrong....?"
"Uu, uuh.... it hurts.... like it's.... gonna split...."
Rimi collapsed in place as if she couldn't hold out any longer. She shook her head unwillingly.
"Why so suddenly.... uuh...."
It couldn't be....!
Far above the ceiling, there might or might not be a satellite.
Was "Shogun" attacking!?
Blood poured from Rimi's nose.
Her half-moan, half-scream abruptly died out. Her body swayed, rocking. She fell head-first to the floor.
No reply. She didn't budge.
Such a.... quiet murder.
He'd killed Rimi without the slightest sound, smell, or hint of his presence.
The silence made it even more frightening.
There was nowhere to run--
I dropped to my knees and shook Rimi's shoulder.
"Hey.... get up.... Rimi...."
There was nowhere to run on the face of the planet.
"Don't leave me behind...."
"Shogun" would attack me from the sky no matter where I tried to run--
"This must.... this must...."
The statements Rimi had typed in before were gone.
As was the "I'll kill you" from "Shogun."
I looked over my shoulder at the rest of the room, but Rimi's corpse was nowhere to be seen.
I was relieved that Rimi hadn't been killed.
Why.... hadn't she come....
Even though I'm so terrified....
"Shogun" had already departed from the chat. The traces he'd left behind him consisted of only four lines.
Not wanting to see even those words, I hurriedly got myself out of the chatroom now that "Shogun" had vanished.
My trembling still wouldn't stop.
"Shogun" was challenging me.
What could be so enjoyable about dogging me?
Had Shogun finally resumed his activity, having selected me as his new victim?
Or was I the most convenient person for him to pin his crimes on?
"Somebody.... save me.... come save me...."
I gazed desperately at the post-awakening Seira-tan.
I didn't want to be alone. I wanted to have someone by my side. I wanted someone to protect me.
"R, right.... school...."
"If I go to school...."
If I went to school, Rimi would be there.
I took off the threadbare trainers that I wore as house slippers, hastily put on my uniform, and left my base.
A more restless atmosphere than usual hung about the city. Perhaps it was due to the earthquake....
Sirens rang out unceasingly far off in the distance. I couldn't tell whether they were from fire trucks or ambulances. Most likely both.
Yamate Street, one block away from where I was walking now, had become incredibly congested.
Numerous cars had caused head-on collisions and then been left there in the middle of the road. I didn't see their drivers anywhere.
The traffic was the fault of those abandoned cars, and the other drivers all honked on and on as if they were going insane.
As I stumbled my way toward school, a lone dog cut in front of me, howling as it crossed my path.
It was a Chihuahua with bloodshot eyes, dragging its leash behind its short body as it sprinted with all its might.
Huge globs of drool hung from its open mouth. It must've gotten separated from its owner.
As I saw it off absentmindedly, I caught my toe on something and almost fell over.
There was a fissure in the asphalt, with one side slightly higher than the other.
This must be due to the earthquake.
A few small clouds floated, carefree, in the midst of its dim blue.
Immediately following the earthquake, it had apparently turned white, as if it were one giant aurora, but I couldn't spot traces of that anywhere.
I simply couldn't calm down.
It wasn't merely.... because of the earthquake's influence.
It wasn't merely.... because of my migraine.
Not only that, a certain urge threatened to wrack me.
I had chills. I wouldn't stop shaking. My headache resurged.
When I looked more closely, there were people packed around the seniors' building.
I tried to spot Rimi there.
Mysteriously, every single one of them was alike in how they looked up at the top of the school building.
Excellent, if I asked him where Rimi was....
"No, that doesn't matter now...."
He spoke with a terrible sobriety, and his expression was pale. One rarely saw him so shaken.
What on earth could have happened?
"It's.... seriously bad...."
Bad? What was?
Male Student A: "She was sick, wasn't she?"
Male Student B: "Looks like she went even crazier when people found out about her mental illness."
Male Student C: "She was saying before that she could fly. Oh man, this is bad, real bad.... heheheh."
Male Student B: "Although I totally wanna see someone die."
Male Student C: "It must be awesomely guro...."
Male Student B: "Won't she hurry up and fall...."
Such conversations entered my ears from around us.
I had an unpleasant premonition.
Following the other students' gazes, I tentatively looked up at the school building.
Stood a single girl.
She held her Di-Sword, the same one as from her concert. Her pose was that of one lifting a prayer to God in the heavens.
"That, which cannot be seen...."
Kishimoto Ayase felt the wind.
A chilly wind had begun to carry with it a faint hint of winter. As she entrusted her body to the wind, her expression was very anguished, and drops of sweat rolled down her cheeks.
"No matter how I try to leave, no matter how I try to leave...."
The Suimei Academy roof was surrounded by a metal fence nearly two meters high. Ayase was currently standing in the barely 30-centimeter space that lay outside it.
She had already been standing there for over ten minutes.
Many students had gathered below, they watched Ayase with bated breath.
"Become a sword in the end...."
"And come to slash me apart...."
The teachers darted around to prepare a landing mat, in case worst came to worst.
"With the shield called apathy...."
"People evade the flames of war...."
But Ayase herself stretched out her back, standing up straight as if the ruckus below had nothing to do with her. It appeared, in fact, as if she were deliberately attempting to sever anything tying her interest to the world below.
Raising her chin to look up at the sky, she closed both eyes. She resembled a shrine maiden praying to heaven.
Perhaps because she had a good sense of balance, her body didn't waver whatsoever in the small wind.
Never mind the fact that she was carrying a colossal sword, one approximately as tall as she was, in her right hand.
"My reborn battlefield enemies...."
"Are those with spite in their hearts...."
That sword--her Di-Sword--was radiating a pale light, blinking painfully on and off. As though synchronizing with its blinking, agonized sighs fell from Ayase's lips.... and a weak, thin whisper came leaking out with them.
"At times malice possesses its own will...."
"And.... shows us.... its form...."
The poetry woven by her whisper-- Soon was erased in the wind.
Ayase opened her eyes and ran her gaze across the subdued sky that lay over Shibuya's clustered buildings.
"This world is overflowing with malicious delusions...."
"Everyone adores the unhappiness of others."
"Even if I close my eyes, even if I cover my ears, it does no good...."
"Long ago.... they refused to leave my side."
As she murmured, she brought her enormous sword up to her chest.
She embraced it gently with both arms.
Mysteriously, that sharp-looking sword placed not a single wound on her body.
"I wanted return...."
"To the other world where the Great Will reside...."
"Dreams.... as a vessel of chaos."
Ayase's expression contorted in grief. Quiet tears spilled from her eyes.
Those voicelessly wept teardrops danced into space, borne away by the wind.
"But.... Gladioul grows restless in the womb...."
"Though there's no time left...."
"I can't find it.... I can't find it...."
"Neither door to Heaven, nor wise man, nor hand of guidance, nor seven forms of divine punishment."
"Is the legend of the black knights true....?"
"I've sung many songs."
"Do you mean to tell me it wasn't enough...."
"O, Great Will...."
Ayase slowly spread her arms out on either side.
As though to embrace the sky itself.
As though to indicate her existence to a distant and high-up god.
The pale pulsing of her sword increased in ferocity.
Ayase closed her eyes for a second time. At that moment, a final tear overflowed from the corners of her eyes.
"Since I offer you this vessel of mine"
"Please take my soul away with you."
Stepped forward without a moment's hesitation--
And with nothing there to hold up her body--
"To the place where I must return--"
Ayase sensed the chilly wind tenderly stroking her cheek and felt that she had been freed from everything--
She slowly stepped into thin air as though an invisible stairway lay there.
Screaming and a general roar overflowed from the spectators all at once.
Ayase's body lost its support like a puppet whose strings had been cut, and she flew inverted through the air.
Everything went into slow motion.
Ayase's body plummeted down.
Her rate of descend was horribly slow.
But she was definitely falling.
She would die--
I couldn't save her. It would be impossible to save her, falling from that height.
Moreover, below her was concrete.
Her bones would shatter, her innards would be crushed, her spinal fluid would come bursting out, and blackish blood would spray every which way.
If only it were soft soil.
Then maybe she would survive....
I didn't want to see the moment of anyone's death!
I was about to close my eyes--
A tingling at the nape of my neck.
Everyone was either facing down or looking up.
Sound of falling.
It was the first time I'd heard it.
Beside me, Misumi-kun widened his eyes, stunned.
Though his line of sight ought to have been pointing toward the place where Ayase landed, his gaze was filled more with a powerful surprise than with horror or sorrow.
Not only Misumi-kun.
All of the spectators, wearing expressions of incomprehension, went speechless.
I couldn't tell.... whether or not her bones had shattered.
I couldn't tell.... whether or not her innards had turned to pulp.
Her spinal fluid.... hadn't come lashing out.
Blackish blood.... hadn't flown everywhere.
A frail but certain groan spilled from Ayase's mouth.
She was alive....
She appeared to have lost consciousness and didn't budge an inch. But she had almost no visible injuries. Only minor trace of blood on her forehead.
Even though she had fallen from the roof.
She lay collapsed there, all but unhurt. On a flowerbed.
OST: In the ward
"It appears that there was a tremendous difference between our projections and the actual results?"
"We've taken the first step toward evolution."
"We had no idea there'd be three digit's worth of fatalities!"
"Was there something wrong with your plan?"
"I would very much like you two gentlemen to take a look back at the history of human evolution."
"I have no objections to the fact that evolution brings with it considerable sacrifice."
"I care nothing for those who died."
"The critical part is how it differs from our plans!"
"If so, why didn't you make contact with us beforehand?"
"Certain preliminary arrangements are needed to control the flow of information."
"We haven't sacrificed people and money so you can do whatever the hell you want. Don't forget that."
"No worries, sir. As I mentioned before, everything remains within range."
"Sooner or later, there will be no need to suffer through gathering votes or fear prosecution for forceful political canvassing."
"Be discreet. If our mutiny against the Committee of 300 were discovered, only destruction would await us."
Committee of 300 posted:
A secret organization shrouded in mystery, rumoured to pull the strings of the world behind the scenes.
Composed of only 300 members, they are known as the "Unseen Rulers."
Their subordinates include royalty and intelligence agencies from numerous nations, with a focus as well on banking enterprises. They are all puppets of the 300, even other secret societies that would appear in conspiracy theories. It is said almost the entire world is bent to their will, whether it be companies, police, research institutes, etc.
However, their true existence will remain a mere rumour to the end.
The Committee of 300's ultimate goal is theorized as the construction of the so-called New World Order under the "Human Domestication Project." Outside of the Elite, one billion will be left behind as all others are slaughtered. Those billion will remain as slaves subject to the Ruler's dominion.
"Your duty is to proceed as planned; nothing more, and nothing less."
"We shall be the ones to make adjustments."
"I'm quite aware of that. Kuku...."
"Well, then. Let's hear your report about the second generation."
"The final results will satisfy both of you."
My lungs furiously sought oxygen. As I wheezed, I took a swift look about the park.
There were absolutely no human figures around.
I didn't catch sight of the personages I dreaded--"Shogun" and Yua. Relieved, I began collecting my breaths.
It was close to evening. The sky gradually transformed from blue to the color of twilight.
The usual quietness of this park made the previous uproar at school seem like a lie.
After the stir, I gave up on searching for Rimi and ran away here.
At the time-- As Ayase fell-- I'd thought she could never be saved.
But she'd lived. I still didn't know the details, but at least, she hadn't died. She was breathing. She had few, if any, outer wounds.
Under normal circumstances, she would definitely have died. She was miraculously saved--
Because she fell atop the soft earth of a flowerbed....
Because there had not been anything like a flowerbed down there.
Despite that, why, in a single second, had a flowerbed "manifested"....
Even in the midst of being upset over it, I'd envisioned that maybe "there was a flowerbed beneath her"....
But, just because of that.... Could a split-second delusion like that.... actually become reality....
I'd wondered if I had some kind of special power, and I'd undergone the similar experience of witnessing Ayase divide in two, but....
Could I do something as amazing as creating a flowerbed instantaneously....?
Even though I didn't possess a Di-Sword....?
When teachers ran up to her as she lay there, they left footprints amid the flowers.
The flowers blooming there--I thought they were the same as those planted in the courtyard flowerbeds --Had their stems bent from being trodden on by the ambulance crew.
And they were probably still in the same place even now.
A delusion.... had become reality.... and stayed that way.
It hadn't ultimately disappeared, like Ayase's doppelganger.
Could I.... seriously done that....?
A sharp voice called me from behind.
Before I had a chance to turn around, a hand stretched out and seized the front of my shirt.
Without my having any chance to struggle--
I got shoved violently into the playground equipment.
My back slammed powerfully against it, and I moaned in pain.
"You created that flowerbed."
Sena was the one who had used violence against me out of the blue.
She grabbed the front of my shirt and pulled me up with incredible force. I couldn't breathe. I waved my arms around in vain, but she showed no indication of letting me go.
On top of that, her eyes were brimming with a sharp light that might be interpreted as the desire to kill. I went cold, thinking she'd murder me, and frantically shook my head.
Positive, Negative or Neutral?