Part 62: HeartbreakPart 62 - Heartbreak
Sh, she felled me with a single blow....
What an unlikable girl, ignoring the kindness of someone's heart. Or was this the stubbornness that tsundere characters are guaranteed to come equipped with?
I won't moe over something like that in the third dimension!
"Okey, dokey, let's do it thiiis way, Sena-shan."
"I'm telling you, I don't need it."
"It's fiiine. Huuurry. The words you say when you're having fun."
"Like, this is the bomb. Ohmigod, what a, like, total blast--"
They'd studied that together? In a certain sense, it made for an amusing prospect, but....
"To help get accustomed to Shibuya."
"Go, go, Sena-shan."
"Impossible, I, I can't, I can't do it now."
"It's noooot impossible."
Kozu-pii stared steadily at Sena as she began to weep. If she pulled this trick, even Sena--
"Eheh. You still stutter over it, Sena-shan."
I, I'd seen something truly valuable.... Totally different from how she'd been when she was rattling off stuff about outstandingly abstruse theories shortly beforehand. Dere mode was the absolute best.
I'd had another glimpse of the possibilities available to the third dimension.
As a result, I gave my winning popsicle stick to Sena. Unexpectedly, she took it without putting up more resistance.
"I won't thank you, okay...."
Since she glared at me as she ostentatiously reshouldered her Di-Sword, I soon lowered my eyes.
I'd given her a present, so why did she have to threaten me? I just couldn't deal with her. I wondered if she'd do me the favor of staying forever in dere mode....
"More importantly, you--"
"Takumi-shan, are you?"
"You... d, don't have to add on -shan..."
I felt like I'd told her before, but.... Apparently she'd forgotten me.
"Ni, Nishijou Takumi...."
"The sword is your own heart. You mustn't deny it."
"My sword saved me, you know?"
Saved her.... huh. What had happened in Kozu-pii's past....
It also bothered me that she had mentioned "wishing to kill."
"The antiparticles that form together with particles in pair production become stocked up in your Di-Sword."
"Mathematically speaking, antiparticles are that which 'leads toward the past.'"
"Because of this, the more of them a Gigalomaniac stocks up, the greater the consequential 'lag' between him and present conditions."
"At last those contradictions will lead him toward existential self-destruction."
You sure you're speaking Japanese?
"Kozue, you too, stop drawing your Di-Sword frequently."
"Heed my warning if you want to carry out an ordinary lifestyle."
"This has to do with whether both of you live or die."
Sena didn't appear to be saying it as a joke. She wasn't the type to joke around.
"Because we're able to interfere with the Dirac sea by using Di-Swords as our conduit."
"You aren't ordinary."
"It wouldn't be surprising if you caught their eye."
"Those who are trying to abuse the power of Gigalomaniacs."
"Do, d'you mean.... 'Shogun'!?"
"Don't know him."
"Who is that?"
....Kozu-pii, is Sena lying?
"Nishijou, who is 'Shogun'?"
The chill in her voice made me shudder. Naturally, I couldn't bring myself to meet her eyes.
Uuuh, why was she so violent.... Had I done anything wrong?
"Is he a man in his forties?"
"N, no, he's a li, little old man."
Sena let me go at once.
"Is he a Gigalomaniac?"
"I, I don't know...."
"Bu, but, he's the true.... New-Gen criminal...."
"The true criminal.... you say?"
Sena laid a finger against her chin and lapsed into thought.
A volatile atmosphere. Unidentifiable anxiety. Sena knew something.
What the heck was it....? Who were the people trying to abuse the power of Gigalomaniacs?
Kozu-pii abruptly piped up in a cheery voice, pointing at something. It was--
"C'mon, Takumi-shan, in the miiidle!"
"No, wai, I...."
"Sena-shan, you're nooot allowed to look away."
"I don't care for this sort of...."
Obeying the on-screen instructions, Kozu-pii kept pressing the buttons without obtaining our consent.
Before Sena and I had time to mentally prepare ourselves, a voice came out of the screen.
Photo Booth: "Okay! Strike a pose! Click!"
If possible, I didn't want to be left alone with Sena.
Except, she didn't seem to be interested in heading home. Did she plan on wandering around the area again, as she usually did?
I'd have liked leave at once, but beforehand, there was just one thing I wanted to ask the Gigalomaniacs Ph.D. no matter what.
Even if I called out to her, Sena retained her ill-humored expression.
It had been better when Kozu-pii was here, but she remained off-putting....
Heart thumping, I asked my question, deciding to assume my voice had reached her.
"I, is Kozue's inner voice pa, part of her power as a Gigalomaniac, too?"
I didn't expect her to give me an answer. Whatever the case, I figured it would end with her going "Hmph" and laughing at me.
Sena cast a glance at me, than shifted her eyes to the jumbotron by the pedestrian scramble.
She responded thus.
"All Kozue does is send her voice into other people's dead spots. The mechanism isn't any different from what I explained previously."
"The particles she transmits are converted to sound, not images. It's same as with a telephone."
"And when Kozue sent you the delusion of her mental voice, a local shared recognition was born between the two of you."
"If, if so, how did my inner voice reach Kozu-pii?"
I myself hadn't delivered any delusions to Kozu-pii's dead spots.
If that were the case, Kozu-pii should only have been able to send a one-way transmission.
Yet we'd carried out a successful conversation with the voices of our hearts.
"Gigalomaniacs can 'see' the delusions of others. Kozue is especially gifted in this area."
"One could also say that she is all but forcibly 'made to see' the delusions expelled by others."
'Seeing' delusions? Could someone really do that?
I couldn't. So I didn't think I was a Gigalomaniac....
With a suddenly distant look in her eyes, Sena transferred her line of sight from the jumbotron to the crowd walking in the pedestrian scramble.
"Br, broken.... what breaks?"
"Before she came to Tokyo, 'they' drove Kozue into a corner and broke her heart."
Even so, she faced this ability in her own way, and somehow, she had managed to lead a peaceful lifestyle by concealing it from other people.
Once she entered high school, Kozue began to frequently spot the reflections of "mirrors" as she went about her everyday life.
At first she had thought it a mere coincidence. It happened only about once or twice a day.
But as the months went by, that frequency gradually increased.
She would encounter people in possession of "mirrors" over ten times per day.
Those encounters themselves were nothing special--she saw people passing her on the road carrying mirrors, or students in the same grade as her fixing their makeup in the bathroom, nothing more.
But whether it was a coincidence or something intentional, the reflection in the "mirrors" almost inevitably struck her eye.
At last those who bore the "mirrors," all of them, began speaking to her in "voices containing insinuating laughter."
In her classroom, in the school building, on the way to school, while she was shopping; such people appeared wherever she went.
It wasn't any particular person. On the contrary, there were different people each time.
But to Kozue,
Everyone holding a "mirror" began to seem suspicious.
Everyone "laughing insinuatingly" began to seem suspicious.
At last she began to have the hallucination that even those without "mirrors" were asking her, "Who are you?"
She became borderline neurotic, and those internal voices clung to the depths of her ears, refusing to leave.
"Who are you?"
Ever since, she ceased speaking. She became unable to look at mirrors.
Despite that, the demands of "Who are you?" continued to reach her.
She could no longer even tell whose inner voice it was.
A broken fax machine, incapable of blocking incoming transmissions. Considering the conditions set by her unique predisposition to hear the voices of other people's hearts, there was nothing she could do about it.
Kozue's heart went to pieces.
Three sophomore girls whispered something to each other while using hand mirrors to put on makeup in the classroom.
"Mirrors" and "insinuating laughter."
And the calls of "Who are you?" she thus came to hear. Were they actually the inner voices of her three classmates? Or else one of Kozue's aural hallucinations?
She didn't care which.
As Kozue's eyes quivered in terror, a mirror's reflection entered them.
For a second, her field of sight went bright. Was it on purpose? Or a coincidence?
She didn't care which.
Before she knew it, she was screaming--rather, shrieking. Her instinctive "desire to kill" controlled her.
For the first time, she seized the Di-Sword she could see at the edge of her field of sight.
To see Rimi.
Surely my juvie classmates would taunt me about this and that today as well.
That was tough enough, but when you weighed it against the possibility of being able to meet Rimi, I could still put up with it.
I recalled yesterday's events as I passed through the school gate. Sena had emphasized her warning as we parted.
"You'll need a will strong enough to transform evil to good."
"If you come at it half-heartedly, you'll only be devoured by your delusions."
In any case, I couldn't get my hands on a Di-Sword no matter how hard I tried. I'm no hero. I'm only a waste of space who can't even do a decent job of protecting his own little sister.
Apparently he was targeting me as if we were playing a game. So the next "quest" might begin at his whim anytime now.
That terrified me.
Even my attempts to acquire a Di-Sword had originally been for the sake of protecting myself from "Shogun."
Swordless, how could I escape his evil grip?
If Rimi were with me?
But it bothered me that Rimi was taking time off from school. What would I do if, this time around, Rimi were taken hostage the way Nanami had been?
The candidates would have to be those with Di-Swords.
Ayase was injured, so that took her out of the running.
I didn't think Sena would help me.
And Kozu-pii was a little.... no, considerably weird....
Before I got to my seat, I took one look around the room.
Was she absent today, too? Was she really just skipping? Insecurity flickered through me.
I wanted to meet with her.... I wanted to see her cheerful face.
Next, Kozu-pii's seat.
When I remembered the story Sena had told me yesterday, it made sense that Kozue-pii always carried herself this way.
--Good morning, Kozu-pii.
Our eyes didn't meet, but we internally exchanged morning greetings.
The delinquent girls watched me, grinning.
It was the day after yesterday. I wouldn't yet be able to peel of the label of "self-proclaimed psychic boy who's actually an otaku freak and made an idiot of himself on TV."
The male thugs appeared not to have arrived yet. They often skipped our first-period class. Which was convenient for me.
And then that voice-- Called my name.
She seemed faintly bashful as she gave me a little wave.
"Long time, no see."
She wasn't an illusion.
She had a definite presence.
She was breathing.
Her hair stirred.
She was blinking.
She was there.
She was here.
Something burned in the depths of my nose. I was assaulted by a squeezing sensation in my chest. I was about to weep.
Half-standing in my chair, I went motionless, head hanging.
"Wh, whoa, Taku, what's wrong?"
"Are you crying....?"
I frantically shook my head. If the juvies nearby knew I'd cried here, they'd torment me again.
I told myself I shouldn't cry. But the tears kept overflowing.
"Ah, I get it. You're happy to be reunited with me. Right?"
"Tahaha, just kidding. Maybe that was a little too self-conscious of me."
Rimi said in a bright, joking tone, and all I could do in response was go on shaking my head desperately.
Still more, I couldn't look at her face properly. If I did, I'd definitely start bawling....
That was when someone tapped me on the back.
It was Misumi-kun, looking ill at ease. The hand he patted me with was considerably more restrained than it used to be.
Even though he'd ignored me before.... I wondered why he was being nice enough to talk to me again.
Talking with me would definitely bring misfortune on him. He'd end up being the target of the class juvies' bullying.
Right, it would be better for them if neither Rimi nor Misumi-kun put up with a creepy otaku like me--
When I held my silence, Misumi-kun put on a forced smile.
"How dark of you, being all broody so early in the morning. Hahaha."
"Well, but I know you're that type of guy."
If you asked how I knew, it was because he'd always said such things to me.
"You say that, Daichin, but it's too early in the morning for you to be so uselessly breezy."
"Don't call it useless. You come to school for the first time in a while and this is what I get?"
"Then.... false-seeming breeziness!"
"Hey, Taku, whaddaya think of how she's putting things?"
I nodded ambiguously. Somehow, my tears had stopped.
The usual scene lay before me.
Neither of them acted concerned by the fact that my position in our class was becoming something very bad.
"They say she's still hospitalized. She wasn't injured much, but apparently she's got it pretty bad psychologically."
"Listen up, Taku. The fastest way to get a girl is to be nice to her in her moment of weakness."
"Which is why, I'm seriously thinking about visiting Kishimoto in the hospital."
"Daichin, you're the worst. Booo, boooo."
"This time your girlfriend really is gonna stab you, you know?"
"I'm just paying a visit. Ain't nothing to be ashamed of."
"That's different from what you were saying a few seconds before."
"Speaking of which, Taku, you know Kishimoto. Won't you come with me?"
"Eh, ah, errr...."
It was a typical topic for Misumi-kun, sure enough. But because I'd been positive he would ask me about psychic powers or something, it startled me.
Misumi-kun kept chatting afterwards as well.
It was the same as every time before now, with Misumi-kun rattling on by himself, Rimi occasionally jumping in to poke fun at him, and me only grunting vaguely.
The Nozomi Group.
A large enterprise, with numerous subsidiaries, which carried out its business with ministerial authority from the government.
Its subsidiaries had started up business in a variety of fields, from the sale of clothing and groceries to trading in the capacity of a distributor of imports, and they had accomplished measurable achievements.
Norose, who stood at the top of the group and reigned over it, gazed down at the view he could see from his personal castle.
His consciousness, however, was not turned toward the scenery.
While wearing a mocking smile on his mouth, he tapped the floor irritatedly with his toes countless times.
OST: I'm rounder
"Good lord.... it's a hassle to deal with old men."
"Don't you think?"
"....They're too cowardly. Although you could also say, that it's what has enabled me to climb this far."
"I'm bored to death of both using them and undercutting them."
"Reality is a sad thing indeed. We can't afford to underestimate the influence of the Committee of 300."
"Are you looking forward to it? Kuku, I am as well."
"It took quite some time to come this far."
Norose walked up to his desk.
The top of his solid-looking desk, carved from natural oak, had little of the decorative about it and was burdened only with office-like items.
Except, there was one thing that gave off a different color from the others, and it had tumbled carelessly toward the edge.
Norose picked up that green, bizarrely designed mascot character. He gave it a bored glance, and tossed it in the wastebasket.
His narrowed eyes swung toward the room's dim interior.
"I would never have dreamed you were a Gigalomaniac."
"It would seem that even God has allied Himself with me."
"You'll permit me to take a sample from you."
"Kuku, what, there's no need to be afraid."
"I'm a former doctor. I'm the sort who simply can't bring himself to proceed without informed consent."
"And for that, we need many samples from you Gigalomaniacs."
"There are individual discrepancies when it comes to taking CODE samples."
"In powerful Gigalomaniacs, it causes the NA synapses to become even more active, increasing their range in the brain."
"Generally speaking, only one-tenth of the human brain gets put to use. But Gigalomaniacs are different."
"We know that they also make use of the remaining nine-tenths."
"The inside of a Gigalomaniac's head is truly fascinating."
"The more samples, the more Noah II's capabilities will approach those of the real Gigalomaniacs, before at last surpassing them."
"Will you offer your consent?"
Norose nodded in satisfaction and, blowing out smoke, returned his gaze to the scenery beyond the window.
However, he usually thought to himself that he'd give passing marks to the view from somewhat separated places like this building.
But then, this nightscape would soon become something one could never see again. As a result of the final experiment performed in his Project Noah.
Lately Rimi had been inviting me to eat with her, but as you might well imagine, I became embarrassed and ended up refusing.
Which was why, when we reached lunch break, I left the classroom and retreated to a place where I could find peace.
At times it was the library, and at times it was the courtyard.
But after the previously mentioned disturbance, everyone in the school had come to recognize my face, and I couldn't calm down no matter where I went.
Gazes stabbing into me without mercy. Sneers and insults thrown my way.
Today, too, I walked around school, but it had the opposite effect of exposing me to even more disparagement, and when I thought I had no other option but to flee to the bathroom--
Come to think of it, I hadn't spoken to Nanami once since that incident. I'd avoided bumping heads with her all week long.
Because I hadn't known what kind of expression to make when I saw her.
I was the worst kind of brother, one who had prioritized my own life over hers.
It was no more than a miracle that Nanami had been safely released. I hadn't done a thing.
Maybe "Shogun" had told Nanami it was my fault he'd abducted her.
If so, she'd definitely be furious at me. She'd disdain me, and maybe she wouldn't listen to me.
That was why I didn't have the courage to go see her.
But now that I'd spied her like this, of all times, I started to get worried.
But I shook my head to rid myself of them.
That severed hand, and the bracelet it wore, and the cell phone it held,
All of them had been delusions. Realistic delusions.
Because the hand was no longer in my fridge. It seemed more natural to think that, rather than having vanished, it "hadn't been there from the start."
Nanami being alive and well like this served as proof of that.
My sister's right sleeve slipped down a little as she twisted her hair.
Sensing something wrong, I gulped down my voice.
I'd seen it.
It was a very minute sense of wrongness, one that truly didn't matter at all, but--