Part 81: StakeoutPart 81 - Stakeout
SFX: The only thing to be heard in this empty station is the breeze.
The station itself was completely underground, being located in a tunnel, and the only outside light that reached it was a faint amount coming in through the outdoor exit area at the end of the platform.
Now, due to the earthquake, all the light fixtures had gone off, and it was terribly dim, much more so than usual.
There had been no need for her to buy a ticket.
She didn't spot any station workers anywhere, and the ticket machines were out of service, too.
When she looked at the tracks, the rails there were visibly warped. Naturally, the trains had been at a standstill since yesterday.
Kozue's left foot was completely bloody.
Broken glass had sliced into her during the earthquake. Sena had wrapped a towel around it in hopes of stopping the blood, but the depth of the wound surpassed her expectations, and first-aid treatment wouldn't be enough by itself.
Gigalomaniacs couldn't use their power to heal their own wounds.
Pain compelled them to be reminded of the reality of their injuries.
"I can't walk anymore~"
No matter how Kozue whined, looking as if she were about to cry, Sena remained silent. All she had done was focus intensely and wholeheartedly on walking toward this Shinsen station.
Kozue, who could only stand up one leg, immediately crumpled in place.
"I've finally found you....!"
At the end of her line of sight.
A lone human figure was sitting down at the back of the dim platform.
"Who is that message aimed at?"
Her voice was frigid.
The homeless man--Hatano--kept his head lowered and didn't look at his daughter's face as he spoke evenly, voicing her name.
"....I thought about it constantly over the past half-year."
"How I would kill you."
"Because to me, being killed by you is perhaps the best way to atone. So I thought to myself."
The "method she had selected to kill her father" was cutting him down with her Di-Sword.
Its simplicity, in other words, came closest to the truth.
There was no meaning in how she killed him. There was meaning in killing him.
Hatano had yet to raise his face.
"Why do you apologize?"
"Because I'm forcing you to dishonor yourself by murdering your father."
"As long as I can kill you, I'll take on any amount of disgrace or slander."
"You killed Mom and my little sister."
"Those are the facts."
"And even worse, they met with such a dreadful end...."
Sena's voice, which had until then maintained its cool-headedness, all emotions repressed, wavered a tiny bit.
"I didn't want you to see it."
"No, forget what I just said."
"Why did you do it!?"
"There's no meaning in explaining the process."
"It won't satisfy you, and it won't alter the outcome."
"Is this how you're going to run away again?"
"I was the one at fault. That's the whole of it."
"I'm.... disappointed in you...."
SFX: The sound of a Noah Terminal suddenly appears, and Hatano Issei's voice starts to periodically gain a strange quality. Something like a mix between his regular voice and telepathy.
"You still expected something of me? What?"
"Everything in the world is an electrical device, people included."
"You said it yourself, Sena."
Sena's shoulders trembled.
Discomfited, she attempted to blow away her reason by transforming her internal uncertainty to rage.
"Sena, don't be misled."
"If you are an electrical device, then your emotion of resenting me is made up of no more than electrical signals."
Hatano was pressing at her. So Sena told herself.
"Your words won't work on me."
"Don't act on your emotions too much. Otherwise, you'll develop contradictions."
"You mustn't take in those words. It's a psychological attack."
"Suspend your judgment."
"We're done talking....!"
Kozue, who had been on pins and needles as she watched their exchange, was torn over whether to stop their quarrel, but the pain in her foot made her give up.
She wasn't sad, but something wept, sobbing, in the depths of her chest.
Hatano took a long stride toward Sena.
Slow to react, Sena switched to a receiving attack. But as she braced her legs, one of her feet caught on some gravel.
She was frightened. She'd maintained herself by hating her father.
But when it came to confronting him, she became afraid to face him. She herself didn't understand why. At least, it was certain that what her father had said right beforehand lay at the root of it.
As she fell backwards.
She swept her massive Di-Sword up from below.
A sword that disregarded both gravity and centrifugal force.
Her father's hands sent her flying.
Her father's relieved eyes.
Sena bit her lip.
Having flown from behind him, something grazed Sena's cheek and vanished.
Blood spurted not only from his shoulder, but also from his chest.
The scarlet liquid overflowing from his wounds caught Sena on the cheek.
That man stood on the boundary between the Shinsen station tunnel and the tunnel continuing toward the Shibuya station, in the crossway that was the sole place from which one could see a wide piece of the sky. There was a revolver in his hand.
"But, well, don't you think I've got some pretty sweet skills, considerin' the distance and all?"
Sena's father toppled over beside her. His upper body was already bloodstained.
Sena stared disbelievingly at the pool of blood spreading across the tiles.
"Words are chaos...."
Her father mumbled, his breathing feeble.
"You're too honest, Sena...."
"When I see you like that.... it fills me with sadness.... and adoration...."
She was supposed to have been trying to kill her father, but her father had saved her life.
"Don't screw with me...."
Sena gripped her Di-Sword harder.
"Meh, doesn't irk me much either way. I meant to have both members of the Hatano father-and-daughter combo die for me anyway, see."
--How long had this sound been ongoing?
She couldn't forgive him.
She could never forgive that gun-bearing man, he whose existence had interfered and kept her and her father from settling things.
"How dare you get in the way--"
When she stood up and looked ahead of her.
SFX: Suddenly, a baby starts crying
She reflexively flung it away from her.
Her sister whose name she didn't know, who had been devoured by her mother.
The baby before her eyes had gaping bite wounds on it. White bones with pink shreds of flesh clinging to them peeked out from the gaps in its dried-out skin.
Sena-- Became lost again. She couldn't take her eyes off it.
She couldn't forgive herself for throwing her little sister away, for finding her disgusting.
Her sister's miserable corpse, embraced by their mother, gnawed upon by their mother.
When she was forced to watch it. More so than sorrow or dread, what she had felt was disgust.
Even though, in a corner of her head, she understood that this was a psychological attack brought on by a delusion.
"Who are you?"
Wounds she had wanted to forget. A past she hadn't wanted to remember.
Decayed tears leaked forth in her heart as well. She began longing to escape.
Not wanting look at the mirror, she wished she could turn her face away.
Despite that, her body stayed unmoving, in opposition to her will.
And on the other side of the mirror, she wasn't crying.
"Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?"
She was falling into a Gestalt collapse.
She was uncertain of the shape of her own nose.
She was uncertain of the color of her eyes.
She was uncertain of the fullness of her lips.
She was uncertain of her own shape.
She was uncertain of her own face.
"Who.... am I?"
Her image had been on the verge of splitting infinitely within the mirror. At the voice that suddenly came flying toward her, it stopped multiplying.
"I am.... Kozu-pii...."
The colossal mirror towering before her broke into tiny pieces.
Kozue looked for the source of the voice that had saved her.
In the passage leading toward the turnstiles. She recognized "his" form there.
Kozu-pii cried out. Not just in her heart; in reality. Come to think of it, this was the first time I'd ever heard her speak out loud.
It was thanks to Kozu-pii that I'd managed to come running here.
While near the police box atop Dougen Hill, I had distinctly heard her inner screams for help in my head.
And once I ran off, relying on her voice,
There was Sena, going white as she was forced to witness a delusion I couldn't see, Kozu-pii, and--Hatano-san, blood-drenched and fallen.
A man stood near the crossing with a revolver in his hand.
Maybe he thought he was some kind of gunman, going by how he twirled his gun around and around in his fingers.
Though he was in a suit, he also wore a rucksack, and from within it reverberated a nasty mechanical noise.
Suwa Mamoru. A detective in the investigative department at police headquarters. I had met this man before.
"Originally, I'd just come to get rid of them eyesore Hatanos."
"Nishijou-kun. Thank you so, so much for jumpin' into the fire of your own accord for me."
"See, they told me to grab ya if I spotted you."
"Who told you....?"
A flippant smile. That way of smiling brought his late partner, Detective Ban, to mind.
But there was a decisive difference between them.
Detective Ban's smile had been a performance, meant to set the other person off-guard, or else irritate them.
When it came to Suwa, on the other hand, this sly smile itself was his true nature.
"Hey you, do you know where Norose is?"
"Look here, Nishijou-kun."
Suwa shook his head exaggeratedly and let out a sigh.
"I'd like you to be a teensy bit more careful about how you talk. I'm your elder, ya know?"
"Ban.... you're the one who killed him...."
"Killing someone, even though you're a detective...."
"I'd rather not hear it from you, man."
I clenched my Di-Sword tightly.
"I have no obligation to use honorifics.... with a prick like you."
"You think it's okay to talk down at me like that?"
I could tell clearly, even from this distance. The smile had disappeared from Suwa's face.
And. Without moving a step out of place. He made an unexpected gesture, as if he were shaking out his free hand.
When, startled, I looked at my shoulder, a familiar cross was protruding from it.
One of the cross-shaped stakes that had been used in the "staking" incident.
It'd come too fast for me to see it. The dimness of the premises also contributed to how I'd completely failed to notice it flying at me.
Suwa had thrown it. All this distance, without the slightest inaccuracy.
I tentatively touched the stake. It felt cold and smooth.
Was this a delusion? Or the real thing?
The pain grew steadily stronger and stronger. I couldn't flex my hands.
I couldn't hold onto my Di-Sword.
Suwa spoke in a voice tense with repressed fury.
Forcibly suppressing his explosive anger, he unleashed that stake at Nishijou Takumi.
As though it had a will of its own, it shot in a straight line to stab through Takumi's arm.
So far, fifteen stakes had hit their marks. Not a single miss. Takumi's shoulders, upper arms, wrists, palms, waist, thighs, knees, shins. Blood lapped idly out of his deeply pierced wounds.
"Not that it's all that interesting, playing a game of darts where you never miss."
The next stake was already in Suwa's hand. He repeated the same motion, flinging it.
The following events are presented through the thoughts of both Takumi and Suwa, with repeated cuts back to Suwa's face every 1-2 lines. In the interests of not bloating this post too much , all instances of Suwa's face have been cut (save for when something actually happens or is said), and all instances where both lines are the same will be text instead of screenshots.
"I'm just a regular human being, but I got my hands on a power equivalent to what you guys have."
"This power is a gift from God."
"Because it allow me to fight for the divine light, for what I believe in."
Suwa hurled yet another stake.
"Haa.... haa.... haa...."
"Like an insect pinned up as a specimen."
"And you ain't no rhinoceros beetle or butterfly."
"A brat like you is more like the dung beetle type."
"If you've got any last words, go on and say 'em. But keep it to twenty letters or less."
"Ha.... ah.... ha, ah.... ha.... ah...."
"Earlier.... you called me a cherry-boy...."
"Did I hurt your feelings?"
"This is the last one."
"As for the salvation of the divine light.... I'm sure as hell not givin' it to you!"
"....Did you know?"
The one who would die with this single blow was--
"Virgins have incredible imaginations--"
SFX: The noise of the Noah Terminal abruptly stops.
With a dull sound.
"The miracle of the Resurrection is a story, and a delusion."
"What.... did you do....?"
"If you're God's vanguard, then crumble to dust like the Messiah."
"I don't need salvation."
Kozu-pii had on a blank, dazed face. It seemed like she'd been shocked by watching the whole thing from beginning to end. Her foot was bloodstained and painful to look at.
"Kozu-pii, you okay?"
Still slumped down, she bobbed her head in a nod. But it appeared as if she couldn't stand up on her own. She looked up at me with sparkling eyes.
Kozu-pii, you're talking normally....
"Ah, you're riiiight...."
Putting a finger to her lip, she tilted her head in wonder.
But she soon appeared to tire of thinking about it.
"Um, ummm! Do viiiirgins have amawamaaazing imaginations?"
"....Yep, they're pretty awesome."
Sena had said that ignorance was a sin. But I didn't agree with her.
You can have the sorts of delusions that would be impossible to have if you knew.
Delusions are a virgin's number one talent.
Sena stood at the edge of the platform, her head lowered. At her feet was--
I hadn't made it in time. Even though I'd thought he might know Noah II's location....
"Noah II is close beside Shibuya Station."
Sena murmured, gazing down at Hatano-san--at her real father's remains--as if she'd seen through what I was thinking.
"On the verge of his death, this man conveyed it to me... to my heart."
"From the south exit in Shibuya Station. A now closed-down planetarium on the roof of a building."
"Noah II is in there."
I waffled over whether or not to say anything to Sena.
She had borne a grudge against her father. She had longed to kill him.
"You plan on atoning, by protecting me....?"
Sena's words were aimed at her father's unresponsive corpse.
"You acknowledged your own sins. And then, as if you were showing it off to me.... it's like you committed suicide."
"I can't forgive you.... I won't forgive you."
"The truuuth is, you didn't wanna kill your daddy...."
Kozu-pii's whisper hit the nail on the head. That was when Sena stopped showing us her resolute attitude.
"Why didn't you try to make up for what you did wrong by living...."
"Why're you leaving me alone...."
"Break.... Noah II...."
"Considering that you tried to kill me.... I've got no duty to hear out your wishes...."
Two wide, gaping holes. What spread out in their depths was a deep darkness. If I passed through there, it'd be the most direct route to Shibuya Station.
"For my own goal, and no other reason--"
"I'll break Noah II. Without fail."