Part 62: Kid - Second Day - Part 3TrackErsteboden
"Sure. Anything is fine."
Great... I felt like the group hierarchy had sorted itself out.
I had a good idea of where it was from my wanderings around the complex the day before.
Something had been left on the bench. It was wrapped chicken sandwiches. I figured these were probably sandwiches that Takeshi had made and taken to Tsugumi and Sora. I bet that during the blackout they had been forgotten.
(Alright. I might as well take these along.)
I took the sandwiches and put them into my pockets.
There was enough food and drinks for us to survive for days. The only food there was chicken sandwiches and the ingredients to make them, but... At least we didn't have to worry about food - meaning we were unfortunately fortunate. I took six cans of cola from the kiosk's freezer. Only Sara had asked, but I thought I'd take back enough for everyone.
"Here we go."
Cradling cola in both arms, I started back.
When I came back, everyone was chatting loudly. Cards were randomly placed on the table facing down. They might have been playing a game.
"I figured since I was there that I'd bring back enough for everyone."
"Thank you, sir!"
Sara took two of the two cans and handed one to You.
"Here you go, Nakkyu."
"Hey, Kid. That was sure thoughtful of you!"
You took the cola from Sara and popped open the tab. Like a pro, she held the fizz down so it wouldn't explode. She didn't go getting herself all drenched in soda.
"So what were you all up to with the cards?"
I put the remaining four cans on the table.
"You don't know Mental Guts?"
"Never heard of it."
"Oh, I'll bet it went with your memory. It's a super famous game."
I realized that I couldn't remember even these kinds of things... I wondered if I should have been more uneasy about my lost memory than I was. First, I thought I'd have a cola.
"Oh, by the way, I also brought these."
I remembered the sandwiches and holding the can in my right hand, plunged my hand into my left pocket.
"This. This here."
I removed a wrapped sandwich.
"Huh? Where'd you get that? Did you make it?"
"It was on a bench in the rest area. Didn't you leave it there, Takeshi?"
"Oh, yeah. It's the one that I forgot to give to Sora. I left it there during the blackout hubbub."
"I thought that somebody might be hungry."
"Oh great! You are so thoughtful!"
You rushed over and violently mussed up my hair.
(Oh, that's right. I have another one.)
Feeling good about myself, I put the can in my other hand and went to get the sandwich from my right pocket.
"What's the matter?"
There was nothing in my right pocket.
"Did you drop it?"
I didn't think that I could have dropped it... Somehow, I felt there was something odd going on.
"Alright, then this is Sora's."
Looking, I saw Takeshi holding the sandwich out toward Sora.
"You didn't eat breakfast, right?"
"Uh, no...I'm fine..."
"Don't be polite. I made this...I'm sure it tastes good."
"Hey, I'm not kidding."
"I'll vouch for him, they're pretty good."
"Uh, me too..."
Sara and I both raised our hands in a show of agreement.
"Sora? What? You can't eat my food?"
"That's not it..."
"Then what is it? Eat too much yesterday? Or are you on a diet?"
"No. You have to eat or you'll get weak. Here! Take it!"
He tossed a cola and chicken sandwich toward Sora. They traced a gentle arc through the air.
Sora suddenly reached out her hands... She reached them out, but...
But Sora didn't catch them. No. She couldn't catch them. She didn't avoid them. It wasn't that she was too slow. Sora was there with her hands extended into space. The sandwich had fallen at her feet. The cola had violently slammed into the wall behind her and exploded. The spewing cola didn't get Sora wet. The droplets looked like they flew through Sora's body. The sandwich wrapper covered the silhouette of Sora's sandal... It was as if the two had melded together.
Takeshi wasn't the only one surprised. I also...I was confused and without a clue. It could have been that it seemed odd because I didn't know from the start. Or maybe it seemed strange because I'd forgotten it. So all I could do was sit there with my mouth agape, my eyes staring at the spectacle.
"That's why I said...I didn't need it."
Sora made an embarrassed looking expression.
"No, that's, what, I..."
Takeshi looked completely puzzled.
"I meant to toss them as if I were handing them over...that's weird...your hand must've slipped..."
"Excuse me. Takeshi, there is nothing strange about it."
"B-but! The cola blew up and...is your clothing alright?"
"But you're...stepping on the sandwich...your foot...you've got no toes, Sora..."
"Oh?.... My gosh! Sorry about that."
But the place where the sandwich was supposed to be wavered unsteadily. I...didn't have any idea what it all meant.
"Uh, I guess, Takeshi...that you didn't know?"
Sora was shuffling embarrassedly.
"Sora...what...in the world are you?"
For some reason You gave a huge sigh right next to Takeshi.
"AH, HA, HA, HA, HA"
She burst out laughing.
"I just had to watch because it was so funny, Takeshi..."
"You really don't listen to anything..."
"Wh-what are you talking about?"
Takeshi was still confused.
"The explanation at the park entrance."
"S-so? So what about it?"
Looking around, only Takeshi and I were surprised. A strange expression floated on to Sara's face, but it seemed like she knew what was going on. Tsugumi's face was blank. Apart from Takeshi, it seemed like nobody felt this was anything to be that surprised about.
Tsugumi stood up as if irritated.
"I can't watch anymore of this...it's ridiculous."
After spitting out those words, she left the Conference Room. Maybe we were used to it, but we just watched her go. No one tried to stop her.
"We'll just leave Tsugumi be..."
"Sora, sorry to bother you, but could you introduce yourself again?"
"Yes. Of course."
The punctured can had stopped fizzing. Sora took a step forward toward us, carefully as if avoiding the sandwich, and straightened up. After a slight bow, she spoke.
"I am Sora Akanegasaki... My official name is 'LM - RSDS - 4913A'. I am an artificial intelligence, or AI, program in charge of guiding visitors around LeMU."
"I have been programmed as one part of the LeMMIH system. If you call me from any nearby terminal, I will soon appear anywhere within LeMU. My image reaches you through a network supporting this RSD system throughout the complex. I think that there are few places in the world boasting this kind of technology."
"So it was RSD..."
"But I've never seen one this amazing."
"It's one of LeMU's big attractions."
"So that's why Sora disappeared during the blackout?"
"Yes. I'm sorry to have caused you undue concern..."
I had finally lost any sense of what was going on. Takeshi looked flustered as well. The conversation had taken off and left me and Takeshi behind.
"Simply put, it is an image display system that uses a semiconductor to shine a laser directly on your retina."
I nodded. I had no clue what she was talking about...But I thought it might have been because I had no memory. It also seemed that any more questions would stall the conversation. So I decided to take an 'I don't get it, but that's okay' approach.
"And it is supporting such an advanced personality."
The surprising thing was Sara seemed to be following the conversation the best.
"LeMU is fairly perfectionist when it comes to virtual space technologies. My existence is one manifestation of that."
"Doesn't that require a big system?"
"Yes, but it is much smaller that it would have been 10 years ago."
"How big? Where is it? I'd like to see it."
"Uh...I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to say. It is a secret."
"You weren't given the details?"
"Well, this is a bit of a different question, but does Sora's personality change based on her memories...?"
The conversation was getting more and more technical. Sara kept badgering Sora with technical questions. Things about samplings and algorithms and structure this and encode that...jargon was flying around. My head started to hurt.
I approached You and tugged on her sleeve.
"This conversation is crazy complex...what is with Sara anyway?"
"She is...a computer ninja of sorts."
"Stop with the stupid jokes."
You puffed out her cheeks as if pouting. It didn't seem she was in the mood for a comeback.
"Mayo? She's a hacker."