Part 69: The Eighth Millennium ProblemPart 69 - The Eighth Millennium Problem
"Say, will you introduce me to your family?"
Rimi wore a slightly impish expression as she took a peek at my face.
"If we go to your house, won't we run into them?"
"I was wondering what you were planning on doing about it."
"So, what'll it be?"
Hold up, what's with the "now"?
Did I think there was a possibility of us becoming a couple somewhere down the line?
Sure, Rimi was awfully friendly toward me, but when you get down to it, I'm a dirty otaku, you know...
There was no point in expecting something. Give it a rest. Don't think so highly of yourself, me.
"Ah, eh, uhh...."
How should I respond?
If I said I would introduce her to them, I felt like it'd be obvious I was getting ahead of myself.
If I said I wouldn't introduce her to them, it'd hurt Rimi's feelings....
"Ahh, jeez, how exasperating. At this point, I might as well go ahead and say it straight out."
Succumbing to surprise, I nodded. But Rimi seemed satisfied with this answer of mine.
All of a sudden, a familiar voice reached my ears.
"Na, Na, Nanami....!?"
Why was Nanami here?
On top of that, she was excited and smiling, as if the dire voice I'd heard through the phone had come from a different person altogether.
Bewilderment made the inside of my head go white. Disregarding my discombobulation, Nanami came running over on light footsteps.
She exchanged a high five with Rimi.
From her attitude, it almost seemed like she knew Rimi. I hadn't heard anything about these two knowing each other....
"Did I surprise you?"
"The truth is, eeeverything was part of the battle plan I made with Rimi-san."
"Ba, battle plan....?"
"You're so shy, and you weren't noticing Rimi-san's feelings at all, so I helped her out."
No, no way....
"Th, then, your.... the bandage on your wrist, and the phone call from before...."
"All part of the plan. But cause you got seriously worried about me, I almost burst out laughing. Ahaha."
Nanami smiled without a trace of timidity. It went straight to my head. You little bitch....!
"Sorry for tricking you, Taku."
"You don't have to apologize, Rimi-san. It's his fault for being so super-dense."
I fell heavily to my knees. The aggravation of having been taken in. She talked about it like she was making fun of me for being sincerely concerned about her.
I didn't like it. I really didn't like Nanami's way of doing things.
My relief over those things won out, and all the tension came flooding out of me.
"Cause we have to go introduce Rimi-san to Mom and Dad now."
Nanami really was an impudent little sister. Always mocking her big brother.
I was a bit sulky, but I had no choice except to stand up.
I began walking as they pulled me along by the hand. I had a hunch that things were going to be fun.
I felt like a peaceful, bright future awaited me--
A shrill sound pierced my ears.
It was almost akin to a female scream--
The scream is the same as that which accompanied Sena's attack on the
That sound broke through my reverie, forcing me to acknowledge that Nanami's entrance and her battle plan and whatnot had all been part of a convenient delusion.
Uncertain of what had happened, I turned my face toward the light.
Her Di-Sword's flashing was the source of the light. But it was strange.
When I saw it before, I was sure Sena's Di-Sword had given off a blue light.
The sound soon vanished into nothingness. The wind died down as well.
A sharp voice. A cold gaze. There was patent enmity in Sena's eyes.
"Are you the one who wrote this?"
Why did Sena have it? Why was Sena here?
Breaking and entering. Those words floated up in my head. I realized she'd searched my room.
"I'm telling you to answer."
"Y, yeah, but.... what about it?"
It was Kozu-pii's inner voice.
She crawled on all fours, sticking her head out in our direction. Her expression was terribly tense...
At almost the exact same time that Kozu-pii yelled, Sena jumped down,
She raised the sword raised over her head.
I raised my head in a flurry and looked at the place where I'd previously been standing.
Dreadful, with its unreal sharpness and destructive power.
It had been an impact sufficient to shatter concrete, but the sword itself bore not a scratch.
Weren't Di-Swords supposed to be swords people couldn't see or even touch!?
A certain word flitted across the back of my brain.
Her sword had been real-booted...
If Rimi hadn't pulled at me. That beautiful sword would have sliced me cleanly through the head. Instant death.
"Ah, ah, aaaah...."
Trembling bolted through my whole body. Just now, Sena had unmistakably tried to kill me--
My head was full of doubts and questions. Before this, she and Kozu-pii and I had eaten Crunchy-kuns together as a trio.
We definitely weren't close enough that you could call us friends, and even back then, she'd kept her intimidating attitude till the very end.
Even so, it shouldn't have been such a sour relationship as to make her attack me with her Di-Sword out of the blue--
Her movements were swift.
Despite the fact that she carried such a vast sword.
She sprang forward from the ground like a sprinter lunging out of a crouching start.
She swung her sword as though to make its tip cut a line in the ground. Closing the distance between us, she raised it on high.
She was serious. Sena truly--
I lay collapsed gracelessly on my back.
I'd lost my voice.
I couldn't escape.
All too unreasonable.
All too sudden.
To think I'd hit a Game Over like this.To think I'd get ambushed by Sena after desperately fleeing "Shogun."
No-- I don't want to die--
I don't wanna die!
A single human form leapt forward. Diving between me and Sena, standing in the way.
When I looked, Rimi's back was before me. She had both her arms spread out as though to block Sena's path as she charged at me.
She would risk harm to protect me....?
But then Rimi would die....! No, I couldn't take that....!
I remembered what Kozu-pii had said to me before.
Pale light overflowed from Rimi's outspread hands--
"I don't really get Sakihata-shan...."
"Don't touch Taku."
She crossed her hands over each other as though to bind the overflowing light together.
Glittering feathers of light
Danced about her.
That which materialized in her hands--
She caught and stopped Sena's colossal, furiously lowered sword with ease.
"Don't drive Taku into a corner."
So much so that one might mistake it for an angel's wings--
The sword shaped like a pair of wings, which had stopped the attack from Sena's Di-Sword without any difficulty, was clearly a Di-Sword itself.
If she weren't accustomed to handling it, she wouldn't have been able to catch Sena's blow with such excellent timing.
"So Sakihata-shan was a Gigalomaaaniac, too~"
Kozue gazed at Sena and the others from atop the container housing, as if she were sightseeing from the sidelines. She sat on the edge, kicking her hanging legs a little in the air.
Quite a carefree attitude for having interfered with her surprise attack a few seconds ago, Sena thought, clicking her tongue inwardly.
But her eyes didn't slide away from Rimi, right in front of her. Rimi, in contrast, had on a brooding expression.
Behind Rimi, the pathetically crumpled Nishijou Takumi let out a moan.
"Do you know what he's done?"
"The equation called Ir2--"
Hearing it, Sena gripped her Di-Sword harder.
"If you force Taku to awaken"
"Far worse things will happen."
"I'll kill him before then."
"You won't be able to."
There was no point in talking to her, Sena deemed. She took a stance to protect the distance between them.
Rimi, on the other hand, only stood there casually.
Lunged straight at Rimi.
She'd undone the real-booting.
Now Sena's Di-Sword was no more than a delusion.
Unable to touch anything. Unable to cut anything. Unable to kill anything.
But that was exactly what she'd aimed for. Rimi, who had braced herself to receive the attack, reacted too slowly.
In the meantime, Sena had already slipped past her side and taken another two strides, closing in on Takumi.
Takumi's eyes turned toward her, brimming with the hue of terror, and it took little effort for her to finish real-booting.
When she prepared to gore through Takumi's heart with her sword that had once again become part of reality--
Someone's shadow flittered across the corner of her sight. The instant she heard that voice, she became deeply shaken, missed her mark,
At the edge of the roof. The deepening sunset at his back. A lone man stood there like a ghost.
Bloodshot eyes in sunken sockets.
His head hung down, expressionless.
The second she spotted him, Sena stopped caring about what became of Takumi.
The man she had constantly been chasing. The object of her hatred.
The man who had thrown her away and betrayed his family.
That man was before her eyes.
"I finally found you...."
OST: Gradually panic
Stepping toward him, Sena grit her teeth to endure her surging hatred. She readied her Di-Sword again.
Another step forward.
"There was nothing to be done for it...."
"Your mother's final moments were very peaceful. So I want you to feel reassured, Sena."
"Thanks to your mother, we achieved the most marvelous experimental results. Your mother has been of great use to the world."
"You, too, should take pride in her achievements."
When the blood rushed to her head, Sena no longer saw anything but the man's form.
SFX: Sena thrusts her Di-Sword, embedding it into her target
"Haa, haa, haa."
It was Sena's dearest wish.
She had wandered Shibuya every day solely for the sake of killing this man. She had always dreamed of the day when she would kill him.
She tried to pull out her sword. She tried to move away from him.
"St, stop.... don't touch me lightly....!"
All the fine hairs on her body stood on end. If he did such a thing to her now, after so much time, it would only horrify her.
Sena had long since severed the family bond that had once existed between her and him.
Yet she was shocked at herself for how, for some reason, she couldn't push him away.
"Not like this...."
This sentence is spoken in both the Homeless Man's voice and Rimi's.
At that whisper. Sena understood.
By the time she realized her mistake, it was too late.
Losing her balance, she toppled from the edge of the roof together with the man--
Abruptly dashing to the edge of the roof, Sena lost her balance all on her own and was at this very moment about to fall off.
Her body threatened to disappear over the edge.
Suicide. Sena had plotted to kill herself by jumping off.
I didn't know why. I wouldn't stand for knowing why.
She'd attacked me out of the blue. Now she was receiving heavenly punishment.
She'd been my enemy, too--
No matter how much time passed, I didn't hear the sound of her crashing below.
I tentatively opened my eyes to see what was happening.
Sena wasn't falling. She'd slumped down.
Rimi stood close beside her. She was gripping Sena's arm.
Had Rimi saved her?
Sena flung away her Di-Sword and wept like a child.
What the hell was going on with this sequence of events....
To me, at least, it had only looked as though Sena were single-handedly trying to die.
"But there was no avoiding it."
What had Rimi done to her--
She was like another person compared to the usual cheery Rimi.
A tormented expression. A sorrowful murmur. Wavering eyes.
A Rimi I didn't know was there.
"It's aaaall~ done, right?"
"Slash you to pieces, you know?"
My back went ice-cold. Kozu-pii had the same airheaded anime-style voice as always. But she meant what she said.
"Yeah. It's over."
"And I hadn't originally planned to do anything about Aoi-san."
"If she'll leave Taku's sight for good, I'll let her go free."
"Cause Kozu-pii and Sena-shan and Takumi-shan are friends."
"Right? Right? Aren't I right, Takumi-shan?"
I couldn't think about anything. If someone told me everything happening now was a dream, I'd undoubtedly believe them.
Why had Sena suddenly attacked me in the first place? Had she been my enemy all along?
"It, it's your fault....!"
Sena, who had been sobbing, raised her face.
She didn't attempt to wipe her tears. She was still collapsed on the ground. She stared at me harshly.
"It's your fault my family....!"
I floundered. She battered me with raw emotion.
What're you claiming I've done?
I don't cause trouble for anyone. And I certainly didn't know a thing about Sena's family.
I'm very much a harmless human being.
"You call yourself harmless....?"
She'd read my mind.
"Even though that which you gave rise to could destroy the world....!"
Destroy.... the world....? Another self-centered fantasy?
I glanced at Rimi, seeking her help. But she stood with her back facing us, looking vaguely out at the darkening sky.
Her figure. Her voice. Was it my imagination that they seemed horribly lonely?
"Because Taku.... doesn't know anything."
When Rimi said it that way, it seemed almost as if she knew anything and everything.
"All the chaos now besieging Shibuya first sprang from that equation."
"Don't say any more."
"Taku truly doesn't know anything."
It sounded like they were talking about me. But I myself couldn't keep up with their conversation.
Kozu-pii descended from the container housing, holding my essay.
It was the origin of the chaos now besieging Shibuya?
Talk about a false accusation.
Of course a doodle like that couldn't possess such power. I had truly been in a light-hearted frame of mind when I drew this doodle.... I must have been.
Because it had happened so long ago, I couldn't remember too well, but....
It bore no particular meaning. I'd only copied the numbers that appeared in a dream of mine.
A dream related to the "Whose Eyes Are Those Eyes?" essay written on the front.
I'd used those words since the distant past, and at some point, they attained more and more of a shape in my dreams.
There in lay the numbers.
Sena had wiped her eyes at last, leaving them bright red.
Even so, she remained crumbled, head lowered in apparent frustration as she wove her words.
"It has never been solved before in all of human history, and is believed to remain unsolved as it is."
"One of the Millennium Prize problems?"
"Seven problems as yet unresolved in the world of mathematics, with a million-dollar prize attached to each of them?"
"No. It is not among those seven."
"And is that the equation embedded in Noah II?"
"Why was it removed?"
"Because of the possibility that it might strew catastrophe throughout the world."
"What manner of formula is it?"
"It's a function that reveals a resonance phenomenon based on the supposition of electromagnetic energy being involved in 'fundamental interaction.'"
"It elucidated an unknown power, one that expresses itself when intrinsic deflection arises between specific electromagnetic pulses and their receptors."
"In a single instant, it rendered obsolete the 'silent weapon' research results that various nations have spent over thirty years accumulating"
"The one who solved that problem is in essence on the same level as God."
"Are you saying you accomplished this?"
"It was discovered in a most mysterious place. In a child's scribbling, that is."
"Afterward, so long as we collect CODE samples suitable for the software from Gigalomaniacs,"
"Noah II will begin full-scale operation, thereby realizing all our desires."
"If only Einstein were alive today. I hear he was a Gigalomaniac of tremendous skill."
"Hypothetical aside, what's the current situation?"
"Isn't it said that the number of Gigalomaniacs throughout the world is so small as to be easily counted? Is it really all right!?"
"We have already secured five subject's samples."
"You seem to have gathered enough to put Noah II into operation."
"Very well, then."
"However, the more samples we have, the greater Noah II's capacity."
"And.... there is a Gigalomaniac boy whose sample I would especially like to harvest, no matter what it takes."
"Saying so doesn't mean we'll let you delay our plans."
"Around when do you think Noah II can move into full-scale operation?"
"As our final experiment, prior to starting it up,"
"I shall carry out the Third Melt."
"You intend to cause another earthquake?"
"What's its estimated scale?"
"In the same class as the Great Kantou Earthquake!?"
"Wasn't it magnitude 7.9?"
"Considering the level of current construction standards and building base-isolation counter-measures,it won't deal out as much damage to the city as in the past."
"But won't the number of victims be incomparable to those from the First and Second?"
"Up to approximately 5,000 people."
"That is, however.... a conservative estimate. Are there any issues?"
"You'll take full responsibility, of course."
"Shall I slash my stomach open and die before you?"
"This is the final experiment."
"When the Third Melt achieves our planned results, Noah II will reach absolute completion."
This isn't an eroge....
"Let's go already. There's no need to hear her out."
Rimi pulled my hand, entreating me to come in the room.
A sense of desperation seeped out of her attitude. Rimi was afraid of something.
"Besides, everything Aoi-san says is a complete lie."
Whose words should I believe....
"H, how can you ge, get so worked up.... over a, a mere equation...."
"E=mc^2, the equation advanced by Einstein. Just as its announcement to the public led to the birth of a future where nuclear weapons would be developed,"
"Your creation, Ir2, is having a similar.... no, an even greater effect on the world than E=mc^2."
"Ir2 made silent weapons a reality."
"Si, silent weapons....?"
"Taking snapshots of people's thoughts, projecting images into their vision, controlling their five senses."
That was the technology from the patent I'd researched all over the place, the one Sena had told me about....
"From here on out, this infernal power will become something anyone can use freely. By means of the equipment created with Ir2 as its basis."
"Then again, long before that, a handful of corrupt bastards will monopolize it, brainwashing everyone else to become the equivalent of cattle without their realizing it."
I, I didn't know.
You say that, but it's got nothing to do with me....
Even assuming Sena spoke the truth, I hadn't deliberately planned on creating something so inconceivable. It was just a little kid's doodling.
I haven't done anything wrong....
"Then, then, that 'Eye Are Too' is--"
"It's what he meant when he explained the bweeeeee power of Gigalomaniacs"
"I see, that old guy was telling the truth!"
"When he said the most important one of us was the boy who gave rise to 'Whose eyes are those eyes?'"
"That has to be yooouuu, Takumi-shan!"
Kozu-pii's perky voice. I couldn't regard it as innocently as she did. Nor did Rimi offer any reply.
Except, Sena alone
Widened her eyes.
Raised her face with a start.
Why was she unsteady on her feet? Maybe because of whatever Rimi had done to her earlier.
"Kozue.... You, what did you just say....?"
Sena pressed in on the puzzled Kozu-pii.
"When you said 'old guy,' who did you mean....?"
"Ummm, you see, he's the one who taught Kozu-pii how precious Di-Swords are"
"He's the first person I talked to after coming to Tokyo."
"The way he looked made me wanna pinch his nose real ugyuuu, somehow, and he had a board with silly stuff written on it."
"Wh, why didn't you tell me tell me sooner?"
"Hyauu, ho, how was I supposed to know"
"I've finally found him....!"
Rimi, Kozu-pii, and I. None of us had any idea what she was talking about. All we could do was dazedly watch Sena and her bloodcurdling demeanor.