Part 47: Takeshi/Sora Route - Part 4TrackZweitestock
I had heard from Sora that You and the Kid were holed up in the Central Control Room because she wanted to figure something out. She said that Coco and Pipi had gone off somewhere on a walk.
"Hmmm...wonder where they went?"
When I asked Sora that, she put her finger to her lips and smiled.
"Shall we say, individual study time?"
Study time... Sora turned over the observation of LeMU to the automatic LeMMIH control system for a few hours. That would ensure Tsugumi and You some privacy... And give Sora a break, too. So, there she sat, in a chair in the Conference Room, looking at the white board. I stood at the whiteboard, dry marker in hand, playing professor. A private lesson, one-on-one. The reason that we started that was....
'Coco and the Kid were giving rave reviews of You's speech... What was it like? I asked her, but she wouldn't tell me. Takeshi, do you know?'
'Well, yeah, but...it's not like I have the whole thing memorized... I know, I'll give you a lecture just as good...no, better than You's!'
--and that's how it started. The title of my lecture was 'The Psychology of Love'... I was playing to the crowd. But I hadn't decided what I would talk about. It was all ad lib.
"Let's see... When is your birthday, Ms. Akanegasaki?"
I would just choose a random starting point.
"Takeshi? What do you..."
"No, no, no, no..."
I wagged my finger in front of my face. Then⑬
I pointed at Sora, and said,
I said, and pointed at myself.
"Very good. Once again. When is your birthday, Ms. Akanegasaki?"
"Development of LeMMIH started on September 16, 1992. The prototype was finished in October of 2000. Actual operation of the 'Sora' RSD System began in April, 11 years later. Which means that I was born on April 2, 2011."
"2011? Oh my, oh my, what a very young student you are. Wait, you're only six-years-old?"
"No, I'm 24."
"I am not sure of the reason myself. This year and last, even three and four years ago, I've been 24. I've been 24 since I was born. Of course it's just my programmed age... I don't actually age like humans do... So I'll always be 24, eternally, I'm afraid."
I have to admit it would have been strange to hear her say "I'm 41," looking the way she did. They must have predicted that such a time would come, and fixed her eternally at 24.
"Okay, okay... I see. Then I shall accept that you are 24, Ms. Akanegasaki. In that case, I think that you should learn the appropriate behavior for someone your age."
She cocked her head to the side, a little bewildered.
"You mean that I don't seem 24 right now?"
"Yes, that is exactly my point - Your average 24-year-old is... Um...more...how can I say... Has a bit more...sparkle."
"Are you saying that my face should be more shiny?"
"No, no, that's not what I mean... 24 is when you start thinking about marriage."
"You become friends with someone at 24, then date for a few years, and marry around 26 or 27. That's the key - marrying into moola."
"Moola? Does that have to do with cows?"
"No,no... I guess my reference was a little dated... Listen up, you're asking too many questions! Be quiet until your teacher stops talking! I'll take all questions at the end. All right?"
Sora nodded silently.
"Ahem. Now then, to go back to what I was saying... Sparkle means... It's the gleam in your eyes as you frantically search for the object of your affection - all, of course, as a preamble to getting married. That is what I am speaking of. Until 23, you choose a man who will be an appropriate boyfriend. After 24, you choose a man who will be an appropriate husband. You might think that an appropriate husband would be one who promises a bright future... But to borrow the words of the ancients, it all comes down to the three 'heights.' High education, high salary, high in stature. That would be the ideal individual... You think there's really guys like that out there? If you're feeling greedy, you might also look for someone who's kind and handsome, and cares more about his family than his job. Ah...in other words... What!!! You could search the whole world and never find a guy like that!!!"
"Professor, you seem upset..."
"Sorry, it's a little traumatic... Ahem. Excuse me. So because of all that, the 24-year-old women can be a very severe creature. Clever and calculating. And in order to bring down her prey, she must have the social skills of a little devil. Do you understand?"
She cocked her head. I wanted to sigh, but I pulled myself together to make a declaration.
"Well, perhaps it is better if you put this theory into practice. Let us try it."
"All right, Mr. Takeshi."
"Yes, Professor Takeshi. I will try my very best."
"No, no, no, no... That kind of talk is a no-no."
"Not "Yes, I will try my very best," but... More, you know, devilishly! Coquettishly! One, two, three, go!"
"The hell!? 'ssif I can do som'n like that right away!? I'll kill you, you bastard! Bwa, bwa, bwaawkk."
I can only imagine where she picked that language up.
"N-no, no, that's all wrong. That's not devilish, it's downright demonic. And that's not coquetry, that's poultry."
"Professor, this is bit too difficult for me to start with."
"Alright then, how about you start by not speaking so formally?"
"Yes, something like that will be better. Something easier."
"Using the same example... Yes, I will try my very best. In casual conversation, this would be 'Sure, I'll give it a try.'"
"Sure, I'll give it a try."
"See, you can do it if you try!"
Sora's face was lit up with a smile...
"This is interesting! Please teach me more."
Her eyes shone...
"'This is, like, sooo fun!' - now, you try."
"This is, like, sooo fun!"
We did this for several hours...
"Go forth, my prize pupil!"
"Oh, Miss Sooora!"
"Hey, Sora, Sora? Did you find Tsugumi?"
"Hunh? Tsugumi? I haven't seen her... Annywayz, Coco, don'tcha know any cute guys you could hook me up with? The guys at this party last week were, were like, such losers..."
"I was like, I'm sicka eldest sons, man! I want something fresh! And then, they wanted to go Dutch. Can you believe it? It's, like, total junk!?"
Coco burst into tears.
Pipi let out a terrified roar.
"Whah, what's the matter?"
"You don't like my new way of talking?"
"Hey, what's going on?"
You came running.
"Oh, hey, it's You! I haven't heard from you for, like, forever, girl. What, are you like busy like a bee or something?"
"What??? What's happened to you, Sora...?"
"What're you lookin' all scared for? Really, how NOT cool. Hurry up and put an end to your work then..."
"You wanna go clubbing or something? Don't you just wanna stay out ALL night?"
"Takeshi!!! Did you do this!?!"
So...... Due to the general outcry, Sora went back to talking like her original self...
Day 4, Part 3 From where we left off in the last update, the same sausage hogging and dialogue takes place, except for the fact that Sora takes Cocos place. Theres a little snippet thats unique to Soras route and is related to something that will happen later on, which is the only reason Im keeping it in this update.
"Can you check to make sure Tsugumi isn't wandering around instead of taking it easy?"
I nodded, but Sora looked troubled.
"What's wrong? All it takes is a quick scan."
"Yes, well... Takeshi, I..."
"I don't like to scan with the sensors unless it's an emergency."
"There are times when even you want to be alone, right Takeshi? And times when you want to talk about something secret, or be alone with somebody...? I want to protect people's privacy."
"If I scan, then I know everything."
Sora's smile was slightly uncomfortable.
Day 4, Part 3 Takeshi heads to the infirmary to check on Tsugumi and make sure shes behaving correctly. However, in Day 4, Part 4, she gives him the slip when he goes to make her a sandwich and Takeshi discovers her in the security room, looking for her lost pet. The new material starts after Dont get me wrong.
"I didn't purposely try to get you to do something that I knew you couldn't do."
"I'm not like you. I'm not stupid."
"You and I are different up here."
Tsugumi tapped her head.
"What's your problem? I can't believe you're being like that at a time like this.... That's not a nice thing to say!"
"I'll be fine. You go back to the Security Office. When I get through to the other side, you can tell me where the hamster is. We won't be able to locate him without LeMMIH, will we?"
"Hmmm, yeah, is it? Why don't you use that superior intellect of yours to think of something? Unless someone who can operate LeMMIH stays behind, it won't work."
"Ha ha ha..."
"Alright. I've learned from you - I'll show you what I can do with a little courage and guts."
"Now, wait just a - !"
She punched me.
Tsugumi punched me.
"See you later..."
Tsugumi took the rope hook and went down the ladder. Before long she disappeared from view. The rope stretched into the water. Holding my stomach, I sunk to my knees. She'd got me with a solid body blow and I couldn't stand up. She really hit hard.
(I can't believe her...)
I seemed to remember getting punched like that...by someone wearing a mascot costume....
(Was that Tsugumi!?...ughg...)
My stomach was in agony. Not where I'd been punched... I was suffering from a totally different pain. I reached for the pipe and tried to stand up. But my hand grasped at thin air. My vision clouded. I coughed and spat.
What erupted from my mouth was the semi-liquid remains of my hotdog.
I felt a chill as I lost consciousness...
(Oh, it's the pipe room... What happened to Tsugumi...?)
In front of me, I could see the rope disappearing into the hatch.
"That's right! She's looking for the hamster! I have to get to the Security Office! Tsugumi will need navigation!"
"...You're too late."
"Sorry, I'll be right there. Huh? What?"
"I've already been there and back."
With startled look on her face, Tsugumi peered out of the hatch. She pulled up the rope as she stood up and closed the hatch. I slowly got off the floor.
"Ho-how'd it go, Tsugumi?"
"I found him. He was in the corner of the room. But I couldn't catch him. I think he ran this way."
I hoped we could catch him.
"Just let me check, then... What does this hamster look like?"
"He's just a normal Djungarian. Grey color, black stripe on his back, small enough to sit in the palm of your hand...
"Hmmmm.... Like that?"
I pointed at a small rodent running along a nearby pipe.
"...Huh? Takeshi ..."
Seeing the rodent, Tsugumi's eyes got huge. I had no idea what to say. The small furry animal noticed Tsugumi and me and froze, his eyes fixed on us.
I reached out my hand. Gotcha.
(What? Just like that?)
I didn't think I'd catch him so quickly. The stunned hamster lay quietly in my hand.
"Woah! Nice catch!"
"No! Be careful! Don't squeeze him so hard!"
Tsugumi snatched the "rat" from my hand. She stroked it gently as if she were consoling it.
"Did it hurt? I'm sorry..."
"Huh? What? Is that really a rat? I mean, what are you doing with that thing in the first place!?"
I was taken aback.
"No! I keep telling you!"
"This is not a rat, it's Chami! He's a Djungarian hamster."
Tsugumi spat the words out. She pouted as she glared at me.
"Okay, he's not a rat, he's Chami... Chami? That hamster's name is Chami?"
"I didn't say that."
"I never said that..."
Embarrassed, she bowed her head.
"I, uh... Anyway, that is what you were looking for?"
She nodded silently.
"Okay, well, great... That was lucky, wasn't it! Anyway, we've caught him."
"Takeshi, I ...thank you...I guess."
Her voice was quiet and expressionless.
She knocked me down and bolted from the room. She was soaking wet, and still clutching Chami.
(What is with that chick...?)
I had wanted to tell her how glad I was that she was okay. It seemed I had missed my chance. Stunned, I listened to her footsteps grow fainter.
"Oh, I see...."
Several hours had elapsed since the hunt for Chami. I had asked to Sora to come with me to the souvenir kiosk on the second floor.
"Isn't it great the Tsugumi found her friend?"
Her friend, huh.....well, as far as Tsugumi was concerned, it was her friend.
"Anyway, Takeshi... Weren't we going to search this kiosk for food?"
"Uh, was that right?"
It was quiet all around. There was no one around. You, the Kid and Coco were in the Conference Room preparing for bed. Tsugumi was probably asleep in the infirmary.
"We looked pretty thoroughly last time and didn't find anything..."
"But, there are nuts and cookies here. I saw them right away. Look."
Sora pointed to the packets in the kiosk.
There was a mountain of packets just like the one I had found under the bed in the infirmary.
"I guess we were all half-asleep when we looked last time. Well, we don't need to worry about food for the time being."
"We can keep eating the fried chicken sandwiches, can't we?"
"Yes, there are plenty. I don't know what the expiration date on them is, but there should be enough for two or three more days."
We kept talking for a while. It was an ordinary conversation with no fixed theme and nothing to do with the topic of escape.
"I wonder what the weather is like up there..."
"I have no way of knowing what the situation's like up on the surface... But judging from what it's like underwater, it's quite calm. It's unlikely to get worse any time soon."
Half the meaning was probably lost. I thought that perhaps this conversation could be an opportunity. I searched for the right words.
"Listen, Sora. I want to talk about something serious."
"You do too, Takeshi?"
"Actually...so do I."
"R-really? Okay, after you.... Ladies first."
"No, Takeshi, you go first."
"To tell you the truth, I'm a little embarrassed."
"So am I..."
If I wanted to be horrible, Id leave this choice for you guys. However, I want to get this shit out of the way ASAP.
For reference, the choices were: Okay, I'll go first/You go first/Let's both say it at the same time. Since Takeshi is incurably infatuated with the
"Then let's both speak at the same time."
"Okay, together then. Three, two, one, go! It's about the lecture today."
"...It's about the lecture today."
Ah, I had spoken a moment sooner... Well, okay.
Sora's cheeks were bright red.
"Ah, yes, that..."
I was probably a little red, too.
We were reflected on the glass of the kiosk. Sora twinkled as she spoke.
"I...wanted to speak about the lecture. Coco was afraid of me, and You seemed mad about something... But what you said wasn't wrong...at least I don't think so."
"Hmm, neither do I... I think my examples may have been a little extreme, but I think my basic message was right."
"Professor... I would like you to finish the lecture... Teach me everything. Teach me what I don't know."
"All right then, Miss Anagesaki."
The lecture resumed. After hour study. She was the only one participating in my lecture. No one else was listening. It was a lecture for one-on-one.
"All right then, Sora, we're going to get back to the basics."
I played it up a little.
"Professor! I have a question!"
"Mm, what is it?"
"You weren't acting like this earlier today!"
I pretended to clear my throat.
"The professor is practicing speaking like a professor! Let's not worry about how to talk! The way you're talking is fine. There are gentlemen who prefer gentle voices."
I went into the kiosk alone. Inside the kiosk, which had not been used since the second flood, was strewn with colorful stationery and merchandise.
"Professor, what should I do?"
"Just stand there."
Sora was waiting just outside the kiosk. I jumped over the counter. I brushed aside the stuff that was lying around, and went over to the window.
"Alright then, Sora."
"Yes? What is it professor?"
"Come a little closer."
From inside the kiosk, I beckoned to Sora. Sora approached the glass. She stopped about a yard away.
"Takeshi, if I go any closer the RSD image will...."
"Don't be so unromantic, you'll spoil the mood."
"But I'll probably start to look flat."
Embarrassed, she bowed her head.
"It's alright, it doesn't matter."
"Repeat after me: 'It's alright!'"
"I-it's all right..."
Blushing furiously, Sora timidly approached the window. Slowly, one step at a time.
Before long... Sora and I faced each other through the thin sheet of glass.
"Here I am. Um, do I look strange, professor?"
"Don't worry. I told you it was all right, didn't I?"
Her image was warping a little, but it was nothing serious.
"All right then, practice."
"Uh. Um, I'm a little nervous..."
"Well don't let me make you nervous. Relax, relax. Okay, repeat."
In my hand I held a marker pen that I had picked up off the floor. I was a red, water-based pen.
"All right then. You know, I thought you were a traditional Japanese girl."
"Mm. Pure and sincere. Lovely. But I felt that as a 24-year-old you were lacking a little something."
"Color...The look of a grown woman."
Sora was standing on the other side of the spotless glass.
"The fastest way to give you coloris with make-up! With conservative make-up like yours, you won't even attract doctors or lawyers! Your make-up has to be more...feminine."
"Professor... I don't understand what you mean."
"A picture is worth a thousand words."
I carefully drew her lipstick.
"Stand still. This is difficult."
"I'm not moving!"
Maybe my hand wasn't used to the angle, anyway, it was shaking a little. I drew her eyeline, gave her mascara and rouge and colored in her eyebrows.
Finished! What a work of art. If I would give it a title... I'd call it... Yes, I'd call it....
'Butterfly of the Night.'
"Is...this feminine make-up?"
"Um, well.... Not quite..."
"Um.... It's actually..."
Over the top. REALLY over the top. It was a complete failure. It looked like a child's scribbling.
"I've never looked like this! This is a change!"
"I've never seen anything, uh, you like this..."
"I think I like it."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that. You really think so...?"
"What? You don't...like it? ...I didn't think you would."
"What do you mean?"
"It's all wrong!!"
I tried to rub the lipstick off with my hand. But it wouldn't come off. The more I tried to wipe it off, the more the lipstick spread on her face.
"Professor! Is this feminine make-up?"
All around Sora's mouth was stained red.
"Miss Anagesaki... Not exactly."
Without meaning to, I laughed.
"Mm...mhhh...haaa....haaaa... I'm sorry.... But it's certainly a change. Haaa, haaa!"
I was apologizing, but I couldn't stop laughing.
"Ooohh! Professor! Stop playing with my face!"
"Tee hee hee... Ha ha ha...!"
We both collapsed laughing. The sound of our laughter filled the silence of the nighttime kiosk. It had been ages since I had laughed like that. And after we had laughed for a while... Sora moved over to the next window.
Sora's face became serious.
"Alright. Okay, then.... Alright. This time I promise you perfect feminine beauty..."
I picked up the pen again and faced the glass.
I faced it, but....
I didn't draw anything with the pen. I stared deep into Sora's eyes through the glass.
Her glossy lips were forming my name.
"Let's not do this."
"You don't need makeup... You don't need makeup, Sora, you're already beautiful."
"Don't tease me."
"I'm not teasing you, I mean it."
"Don't say that, professor."
I could see Sora blushing.
"If you say that, professor, I'll start to take you seriously."
She bowed her head, her eyes searching around.
"No more playing teacher."
Sora slowly raised her head and looked me in the eyes.
"Sora... Your hands..."
"Put your hands here."
Sora placed her hands where mine were. Right against left, left against right. Separated only by a pane of glass, our hands were touching. It felt strange. What should be a barrier between us was actually the only thing joining us. Without something between us, we couldn't touch. But on either side of this glass, we were able to confirm the existence of the other. It felt as if my hands were touching Sora's body. Sora's face was there in front of me, mere inches from me. We were so close I could hear her breathing. I thought that I could probably even take her in my arms.
"Takeshi... May I ask you something?"
"I feel warm... I feel really warm... From my fingers...and in my heart... What's happening...? Why do you think....?"
I couldn't answer. Sora's eyes glistened with tears as she stared at me. The glass in the window was shaking. Sora's warmth spread to my hand. But it was just an illusion. If I closed my eyes, Sora disappeared. But in my hand I could feel the warmth like sunshine. Even if the warmth was just an illusion... Sora existed there and then. Of that I was certain.
TrackDrittes Auge Nehmen
And finally it... It penetrated me. There was no way for me to shake it off. It seeped completely into me. It was strange, but there was no feel to it. The blackness invaded and settled inside me. It overtook me, never to part again.
What an awful way to start the day. I pulled out my PDA to check the time. It read 3:18 a.m. But all drowsiness had left me. Attempting sleep again would have been a waste of time. I thought I'd only have another nightmare. Nearby I could hear soft breathing.Coco and Pipi were nestled together comfortably, asleep. Trying not to wake them, I opened the Conference Room door and sneaked out.
For a moment, I had the illusion it went on forever.
(Stop being stupid...)
Without hesitation I stepped into the cold water filling the hallway. I realized how oddly accustomed I'd grown to this spectacle, this strange situation. This daily routine. Being continually enclosed by walls. Walls that, in a matter of time, were doomed to come crashing down.
(Where will I be when it happens...?)
...I decided not to think too deeply about it. I had already decided not to think about things like that...
The bed was empty. The spilled nuts were gone. I wondered if Tsugumi had cleaned them up, or was it someone else.... In the meantime, no one was in the room. Reaching out to the LeMMIH terminal, I touched the screen. No reaction. The monitor lights were out.
As always, the room smelled like smoke. I tried the terminal. The screen read 'Periodic Maintenance in Progress.'
The message continued.
'LeMMIH: Full System Periodic Maintenance Program in Operation. Until completion, portions of LeMMIH functions are inaccessible. Estimated completion time: 6 a.m. While under maintenance, automatic control systems throughout the compound will be partially off-line. However, facilities and attractions will operate normally. Note: Since all sensors and recording systems operations will be checked during maintenance, function may be erratic. Therefore, it will not be possible to access data through the terminals. WARNING : This maintenance program should not be aborted except in cases of emergency. If aborted, there is the danger of making the LeMMIH system unstable... Therefore, please refrain from accessing LeMMIH until after maintenance completion. Thank you for your cooperation.'
'Additional note : Until the maintenance completes, I will be unavailable. Everybody should be asleep at this time anyway, right? I informed everyone about this operation at dinnertime, but in case any of you forgot what I said, I am leaving this message... That is all, good night.Sora'
(Geez, Sora. I guess you forgot to tell me about this. Or then again maybe I just wasn't listening...)
I was probably busy eyeing that extra piece of sausage in the refrigerator. Trying not to be seen by the others, as I hid the sausage... And later, cooked it up... I'd been gloating over it until being caught, and then... Certainly not expecting to be throwing it up only a half an hour later...
(Was I stupid or what...?)
I was lucky it wasn't worse. Oddly enough, I hadn't felt hungry since...
Next time: Tsugumi and Sora take Takeshi aside for conversations. They don't end well.