Part 51: Takeshi/Sora Route - Part 7.5GRoooanaaan...
"You've really done it."
The floor started shaking. I couldn't stay on my feet with the violent shaking. I wobbled as I moved, but ran swiftly to the entrance of HIMMEL. I tried to close the heavy door with the full force of my weight.
But my hands wouldn't move like I wanted.
I suddenly felt terribly dizzy, a burning sensation in my chest and collapsed to the floor. My hands slipped. I couldn't stand up. In this crucial moment...my condition couldn't have been worse...
"T-Takeshi! Hang on tight!"
But I wasn't. A terrible fatigue and sluggishness struck me. A flow of dirty water had swallowed the path to HIMMEL and was on the verge of reaching the ceiling.
(No! I've got to get the door closed...!)
But my hand couldn't reach the lever. My sight was fading and body was shaking.
"We...can't...any longer... We won't...make it..."
The stream of water had become a giant snake, raging as it approached.
"Ha... Come on! You bastard water! Bring it!"
I screamed back over my shoulder. Trying to cover Sora, I put my back against the open door to HIMMEL. I was determined to block the entrance. I was going to fight it off. I wasn't going to run away. I would... I would save her...no matter what!!
I heard a terrifying roar behind me.
The watertight door had been sealed shut by compressed air from the water pressure. Seawater pounded against the door again and again, like a stampeding herd of wild animals.But the sound was coming from far away.
"Okay, I can hear you..."
I had a ringing in my ears.
"How long will it hold?"
"...I don't know..."
"The door behind you...is locked...you are shut in."
"In order to delay the destruction of LeMU, I'm releasing all the watertight doors at Dritte stock. Dritte stock has been flooded entirely. Its structural integrity is failing..."
"I see. Thanks..."
On the other side of the door was 6 atmospheres of pressure. The walls on all four side of the room I was in had already surpassed their limits... But luckily, there was still power somehow. Emergency power must have kicked in. The lights went slightly dim.
Sora bit on her lip.
"Please don't... Don't thank me."
"I was only......"
Something gleamed in the dark. Her silhouette. Sora was staring at me. Her tears. Her tears fell quietly. They sparkled then disappeared.
"Listen, I... What shall I do...tell me."
I reached out to catch the tears. The grain of the light winked and disappeared in an instant. The light disappeared as it reached my hands.
"Don't worry. You are doing fine. Don't do anything, Sora."
I wouldn't erase it. I couldn't afford to lose her. I opened my eyes as wide as I could and tried to burn her image into my mind.
"Listen... The main thing is that You are safe..."
My eyelids were becoming heavier. Before I could even ask her if she could forgive me, I collapsed, pitching forward onto the floor... And fell into a deep sleep.
Light. I felt that I had overcome an immense distance. The end of the darkness. A soft, white light surrounded me. There was nothing else for me to look at. There was nothing below me. Nothing there to support me. But for some reason, I was at peace. I was floating. Floating steadfastly. I was swaying freely in the center...
I could hear something, faintly. The first sound I had heard in my lifeYes, it was the sound of a heart beating. I remembered. I was surrounded by the gentle sound of a beating heart. There was no greater feeling of peace than what I felt then.
How long would I be able to stay there? I didn't know. I knew that I would have to leave the place at some point. I would have to let go of that fragile bond soon. But I wasn't sad. If that time must come... Darkness cleared again and out of it would come... A new world, where I would resolve to be reborn.
I woke with the warmth of the light. I was sleeping on a cold floor. Sora was floating right in front of me. It was like a dream, yet it was not a dream. It felt strange.
"Morning... 'Good morning' is such a fantastic word, isn't it?"
"It makes me feel like I need to get up and get to work."
"Ha, ha.... That's right."
Sora smiled softly.
"What time is it?"
"I don't know. It seems that the timer has is broken."
I took my PDA from my pocket and pressed the button to turn it on. The battery was dead. Nothing showed on the screen.
"It seems that we have lost all way to tell the time, haven't we?"
"The connection between myself and the terminals at LeMMIH was been severed just a little while ago, and all of the sensors in LeMU itself are no longer operational... But according to my previous calculations, we can expect this area to hold out another..."
I put my hand in front of Sora's mouth. And then, slowly let my hand fall.
"Time doesn't matter any more. I don't need to know. There's no need to worry about it anymore..."
"...Yes, you are right."
It may have been difficult for someone as conscientious as Sora to just 'stop thinking.' Still, Sora smiled for me. She looked around, and then spoke as if she had just remembered something.
"Oh, some good news arrived while you were sleeping, Takeshi."
"I discovered that communications were still operational in IBF, so I analysed the weak signals going through the outer wall of LeMU. According to my results, everyone on IBF was rescued by a salvage vessel and made it safely to Insel null."
"Wow, that's great news! I realize just how much I was worried about them."
I looked up at the ceiling. They were all there. You, Tsugumi, Coco, the Kid... I couldn't see them, of course, but I knew somehow. As if she understood what I was thinking, Sora looked up at the ceiling, her face smiling compassionately. I looked back. She looked at me. Straight into my eyes. Deep within her pupils was a faint light shining.
"Takeshi...why did you come back 'here'?"
Sora murmured quietly in the darkness. The only light to illuminate us was coming from the emergency lights. Her tone was peaceful.
"Would you tell me the real reason one more time?"
A calm smile spread on her lips... Sora was holding back tears that threatened to burst forth at any moment.
"Right...I'll tell you. I have Someone that I want to protect, even if it costs me my life. She isn't something tangible. Other people may think I'm stupid. But, to me, she was the most valuable thing in the world. I may not be able to see her with my eyes closed. I may not be able to hear her if I plug my ears. But, that doesn't mean she will disappear. I know that she still exists. And I realized...just how important she is to me."
She nodded quietly.
Using my hands to support me, I got up.
"I forgot. I had some unfinished business."
I went over to the HIMMEL console.
"Unfinished business? What do you mean?"
She smiled softly and said.
"Is LeMMIH still in maintenance mode?"
"Yes, but none of the functions related to LeMU are operational any longer."
"Well, it doesn't matter."
(Which pocket was it...?)
I finally found what I was looking for and dug it out of my pocket.
"Is that...a terabyte disk?"
I nodded and inserted the terabyte disk into the console disk drive.
With the little knowledge I had, I needed to find the file.
"LM-RSDS-4913A Sora Akanegasaki"
I chose 'Copy to Disk' from the menu. There was no guarantee that this would be successful, but I was going to try. I felt I had probably exhausted my allotment of luck in life, but it was worth a shot. If something malfunctioned, or there wasn't enough space on the disk, we were finished... I thought it was probably the last gamble in my lifetime.
"Keep it simple."
I hit the 'Enter' key and the data began copying.
"Sora, remember to shout 'Keep it simple.' when you hit a button."
Sora smiled shyly. We stared at the console monitor. The copy slowly progressed. All of her memories were being burned on to the disk.
"Professor...about my homework."
Sora murmured as she looked at the monitor.
"Homework? Did I give you homework?"
"No, we students did it voluntarily. Would you please listen?"
"Yes, of course. Fire away."
"I... I realized... The reason why I was born. I was meant to be just like any other human... I was born to fall in love. That is why I am truly happy now. Because I know what love is now. And love is... It doesn't matter if your method is primitive. It isn't necessary seek a meaning for it or an objective. The only thing you need to do is to love - just that and nothing else. That is what I realized."
Sora brought her face close to mine. And she brought her lips near my cheek.
"Takeshi... I love you... I am so grateful to be in love with you..."
I touch my cheek where she kissed. I felt a gentle warmth there. Was it the afterglow of her lips? Or was my cheek simply blushing?
"There have been times when I've disliked you. I've even hated you, too. But, even with all of that... I love every bit of you! Whatever I'm going through, all it takes is to think of you and I am so happy."
She was strong. Her mind and heart had grown so much stronger in the past few days, match the maturity of her age or, more likely, transcending it.
The disk continued to copy. Her memory being etched on to its surface. It was being etched into me, too.
"What do you want to do when you get out of here?"
It was an empty wish. We knew it was impossible. But it didn't feel strange to me to be talking about it with Sora. Sora, who really existed right in front of me.
"I... If I could get out of here... Well..."
"I would like to travel the world."
She winked and smiled.
"And, if I could, I'd like to go on a date with you. I would go out with you for about two or three years, then get married at the age of 26 or 27. That's what young ladies hope for, isn't it? ...Isn't that right?"
Sora became a little blurry.
My eyes misted over. I was having difficulty seeing clearly. Was it an RSD malfunction? Or perhaps I was short of oxygen? No...that wasn't it. No.
I was crying. The tears were falling down my face. Sora's figure wavered.
"He was the master sculptor in Greek myths... He's been called the King of Cyprus... One day he created a beautiful sculpture of the woman of his dreams. And, because it was so beautiful, he fell in love with the statue. He kept on thinking to himself 'If only it were a real woman.' Aphrodite, the goddess of love, took pity on him and brought this sculpture to life. They married and even had children."
"I don't think I'll ever be the King of Cyprus... But...I love you...more than anyone."
I reached out for her. I brought her face to mine and kissed her on the lips. I ran my fingers through her hair. Her hair fell through my fingers as if it were a stream of silk. I could even sense a sweet smell. Even though I couldn't touch her...it was real.
Copy complete. There was no guarantee that the procedure had been a success... All of the data about Sora in front of me... All of the images Sora had seen, the sounds she had heard, things she had felt and thought... Every strand of her memory was written on that disk.
What was memory? I wondered. What if I input the contents of this terabyte disk onto the Sora at Insel null...? Would that make her just like the Sora I knew?
"Hey, what can I do for ya?"
"Ha, ha, ha..."
Every time I played the fool, it never failed to make her laugh. We were holding back tears, which threatened to spill down our faces.
"I suppose that what we just talked about while the disk was copying won't be on that disk. It's kind of too bad."
"Nah, the memory's right here."
I pointed to my head.
"I will remember... And the next time that we meet, I'll tell you about it."
"Really? Okay let's promise, then."
"Alright, it's a promise."
We crossed our hearts. Promise. When would that promise be fulfilled? ...I didn't know. But, I didn't have to know. The mind is not as simple as black or white.
Large cracks ran down the walls. Through the holes, a large amount of mist spurted into the room. Heaven, heaven had finally cracked open... The mist quickly became raging streams and soon water was filling the room. I squeezed the terabyte disk into my pocket and stood in front of Sora.
But for some reason, I didn't feel any fear.
"It's a promise... It's going to be okay, Sora. I won't die."
It was just like the time we stood facing each other through the glass window. Sora and I put our hands together. If miracles truly do exist... Then that was surely a miracle. I could sense everything about Sora.
"Takeshi... Thank you!"
I couldn't help it and embraced Sora.
The softness of her skin. Her smell. Her breath. Her heartbeat. Her memory. Her existence. I swore I wouldn't forget. I swore I would never... In all eternity...forget....
We embraced in the cold seawater and became one. My body began to float gently to the place where the heavens and the ocean fused into one.