Part 63: Kid - Second Day - Part 4TrackErsteboden
"Yeah. But she says it's just a hobby. But she's as good as a pro."
"Just the other day she got first place in some cracking contest..."
"A contest to break codes. Just so you know, it's not illegal. It was sponsored by some company with code technology. It was legal cracking to test the security of its technology... The company has hackers attack their algorithms."
"Kind of like a decryption game contest?"
"I guess that's one way of putting it."
"Oh, so it's a game."
"Just because you call it a game, I wouldn't take it lightly."
"There were engineers participating from all over the world. Winning it means that you are one of the world's best hackers."
"You could even say THE best hacker."
"THE BEST...? That's just way too incredible."
"I know. When it comes to computers...she's a genius."
It seemed that you truly couldn't tell who a person was by appearances. Apart from being a little mischievous, she just seemed like a normal girl. But Sara just kept talking with Sora about things that I couldn't comprehend. There was a gap between who she appeared to be and who she actually was. I kept staring at Sara from the side, in a state of semi-awe.
In the end, only Takeshi was completely surprised that Sora was AI. You was an employee at LeMU so of course she knew. Before leaving the room, Tsugumi hadn't seemed that surprised. Sara, as was clear by her questions, had a solid grip on the situation. And the whole situation we were in was so crazy... I didn't know WHAT to be surprised about.
It seemed the sun was getting ready to set. But deep in the ocean, our sense of time was disappearing. Checking my watch was the only way that I knew it was the evening. Nothing changed in LeMU. No one had come to pay us a visit. But things hadn't gotten worse. Right now, there was no sign of flooding or impending collapse. We had just been passing the time as we saw fit. For now, we had all forgotten about not being able to escape.
I sat on the bench and looked at the blooming flowers without really seeing them. There was no one else...around. We were going to meet again at 7:00. Until then we had free time.
I was thinking about Sora. The revealing of what she really was. Sora's real identity. AI...artificial intelligence...a program...a virtual image. Sora didn't really exist. In other words, Sora wasn't a person. But Sora clearly had a will of her own. She could think and act for herself...I knew that much. But with my limited knowledge, everything other than that was beyond me. There were lots of things that I couldn't know. I looked down. The floor was covered with a layer of water. The lights in the ceiling were reflected in the water. It was like the cold light of the moon. I poked my finger into the water.
The water rippled and the surface shook. The light in the water fragmented into disarray...finally returning to its original shapes. I reached into the water trying to grab the light. But... I could only grab a little seawater... I couldn't touch the light. I tried again and again, but I couldn't get my hand on the moon.
"I wish you'd start with the basic stuff."
Sora was sitting next to me. At least that is how it appeared to me. I had decided to seek out an explanation directly from Sora. What exactly was Sora? It might have been rude asking her outright like this, but... But I thought that it would be ruder to continue along without really knowing.
"I see. So we were talking about RSD, right?"
"Yeah. It might be something that you really don't want to talk about..."
"Why would that be?"
"Well, you're not a person, you're Sora...so asking about systems and stuff it might be kind of personal... Uh...I don't really know how to say it... I just thought that it might be like... someone was peeking inside you and kind of unpleasant..."
My broken explanation brought a soft smile to Sora's face.
"You don't have to worry about that."
"What did you just say...I'm Sora. So I am what I am. For example, by explaining about what I am...it is a way for you to better understand me."
I squeezed my hand shut. Of course, I wasn't holding anything.
"Actually, I just explained all of this to Takeshi."
And shes going to explain it again here, almost completely word-for-word what we got in Takeshis routes. Look for the s at the new content if you want to skip this. If you want or need a refresher, Ive left it in this time around.
"Huh? To Takeshi?"
Sora gently put her hand on her chest.
"I am different from everyone else, but I want to be the same. That...that is why I want everyone to know about me."
Saying that, Sora looked at me and slightly dropped her eyes. I felt like pieces of the puzzle scattered on the floor of my mind were about to fall into place. As if enticed by her grin, I became quiet.
"Well, shall I start...with an explanation of RSD?"
I concentrated on what she was saying so as not to miss anything. She placed both of her hands on her chest.
"Kid, can you see me?"
"Yes. I see you."
"I am standing right next to you. You're sure?"
Suddenly Sora faced me and reached out toward me. And then...
Sora's hands slipped without resistance into my chest. Reflexively I tried to grab her arms. Only my hands met with nothing. My hands were in front of my chest, but there was nothing there.
"Yes... So you are seeing me. However, I am not right next to you."
Saying this, Sora pulled her hand back.
"RSD stands for Retinal Scanning Display. The display device is not actually a display. Rather, a weak laser is aimed at the retina."
"Retina? You mean my eye?"
"Yes. In the ceiling of each room and corridor are semiconductor laser output devices. So the image is being directly reflected on your retina."
"Yes. My image."
"Directly on my retina..."
"Holographic screens typically allow for the objects behind them to be visible... This system uses the eyeball as a virtual screen and continuously sends an image synthesized with the background scenery."
"Well, what about your voice? It sounds like your voice is coming from where your mouth appears."
"Have you ever heard 3D sound?"
"Have you ever listened to music using headphones?"
"Hmmm, probably. But I can't remember so I don't know for sure."
"Ah, that's right. Sorry, about that."
"To answer my own question, most people hear sound as if it is reverberating inside the rear center of their head."
"Inside their head?"
I tried to visualize what she meant. A melody playing in my mind... I could get a vague sense of what she said...
"Yeah...I think I kind of see what you mean. I think I've probably heard something like that before."
"But the sound is not actually coming from inside your head."
"I suppose not."
"But if you could apply this knowledge and adjust the volume from the left and the right to accurately simulate this reverberating sound... Then you could create the illusion that a sound was coming from any direction - above or below, left or right."
"I see. Oh...so that would be the voice converters!"
I still had both of them in my ears. I removed them. They were about the size of my little finger.
It was like I couldn't hear her voice. But that wasn't all. Then her image started to get a little fuzzy.
When I replaced the voice converters, Sora returned to normal.
"So wherever you stand and whichever direction you face... LeMMIH is constantly using sensors around the complex that monitor the position of the voice converters to the millimeter. So that when I am 60 feet behind you... My voice will sound as if I am exactly 60 feet behind you. When I am to the right, it sounds to the right. When to the left, it sounds to the left. When I am under you, it sounds..."
"Under...when you are under...?"
"Anyway, that is how it works. Do you understand?"
"Now try to face a little to the left."
I faced to the left as she said. Sora stood and moved around to my right.
"Just a moment ago I said that LeMMIH is constantly monitoring your position and direction you are facing... At the same time, LeMMIH is also monitoring the position of your eyeballs. So that even if you move, I still appear in the same place. This means that LeMMIH scans the image on to your eye in this way."
"So you can be made to suddenly disappear or reappear in another place?"
"Do you want to see it?"
"...No...I think I'll pass."
I suddenly imagined Sora disappearing and fleeting around here and there.
"Somehow...it's kind of like a ghost."
"Yes. I hear that a lot."
"Being in the same place and looking at the same thing, only some people can see it and some people can't. I've never seen one, but if ghosts really do exist... I imagine they exist much the way that I do."
"Hmmm... Now I get it... But there is something that bothers me."
"What is that?"
"Sora, so you can't be in more than one place at a time? For example, you couldn't be in one room talking to me and another talking with Sara?"
"Theoretically it is possible. However, the way that I am designed, I can't do that."
"I imagine it is to help maintain an image of reality for visitors. So that there is only one 'Sora' in the world. Without that kind of setting, visitors would get confused."
"That and it was the policy of my designer. The policy of my designer was to create me as character with an independent personality..."
"That reminds me, I have heard the same thing about the 'United Land' characters. There is only one of each character in the park. Like in a story...there can't be any one character in two places at the same time..."
It seemed strange that Sora, who could teleport anywhere instantly was walking... Maybe she was doing it to humor me.
"I was wondering about the laser retina scan... So if I were in a place that the laser couldn't reach, then I couldn't see you?"
"Of course not. But... The scanning devices are located in every room of the complex and there are mirrors embedded in the walls, ceilings and floors to reflect the images. So almost no matter where you are, I can be displayed."
"So there are no blind spots..."
"That's the way it is designed."
"However, there is one major flaw."
"I am only 'seen' when someone looks at me."
"I mean, that I cease to exist when no one is looking at me."
"For example, if the five of you here all closed your eyes at once... At that moment, I would cease to exist."
I covered my view forward and looked down near my feet. There was no sign of Sora next to me. It was as if she had vanished, or never been there in the first place.
The outline of Sora's sandals blurred dimly in the water.
"Someone has to 'see' me. I have to be seen in order to exist. Vision... That someone's eye actually creates me."
"Kid... When you close your eyes, I disappear."
Sora's face was one big smile. But somewhere in her smile seemed a hint of sadness. At least...it appeared that way to me.
In the ocean it was only slightly darker than before. Fortunately, the damage to LeMU hadn't worsened. I had a light dinner, eating the chicken sandwich that Takeshi had made. Incidentally, we had gotten rid of that frozen tuna because nobody knew how to cut it up. After eating, there was really nothing to do.
Takeshi's yawn was contagious.
"Well.... There's really nothing to do either."
Everyone was slouched in chairs, just spacing out. There was no impending danger. No new developments. Our situation was unchanged and it felt like time had stopped.
"Takeshi, you're such a slob..."
You said, but she sounded tired.
"And stop dawdling..."
"Look, there's no reason to go wandering around the complex now, right? We're just...going have to wait for help to come anyway, right?"
"Alright...I'm off for a little bit..."
Rubbing her neck and trying to relax her stiff shoulders, You stood up.
"What? Are you going somewhere?"
"Yeah. Nowhere in particular. Just a walk..."
"I've got to move around or I'll get tired..."
"Hey! I've got a great idea."
Sara raised her hand and stood.
"Ladies and gentleman, we shall partake in a game to give us some exercise."
"Alright, but what kind of game?"
"That might be a bit..."
"Well, how about normal tag?"
Sora seemed up for the idea.
"I suppose that would be okay."
"Alright. Everybody, let's play."
"Hey, hey. You expect me to play some kid's game...?"
"What about you, Kid? In or out?"
"What? Me too?"
"We've been talking about everyone participating. So you're playing, too."
"I'm not going to play."
"I'm out, too."
"I meant that everyone apart from Tsugumi is playing, anyways."
"I said, I'm out."
"Hmmmm.... Alright. I'm in."
I was pretty much sick of the boredom.
"Alright. It's settled!"
"But don't you think normal tag will be boring?"
"How about kick the can?"
"Sora, you sure have good grasp of simple games like this..."
"Not that...something a little out of the ordinary."
We all thought. And then...
Tsugumi stood up from her chair sluggishly. She walked briskly toward the corner of the room...
"Wh-what are you thinking? It's dark."
"How about that? Satisfied?"
"I'm fed up.... Even I am about to go crazy."
Tsugumi shot us a nasty look and left the room.
"What...was that about?"
"Maybe we were talking too much for her."
"But, still, why turn out the lights?"
"What does she mean 'even' her? She's the one that's lost it. But she'll be back after a while."
"Hey, Kid. Would you mind getting the light?"
I went to go switch on the lights...
"What is it?"
"Since the lights are off, why don't we try the game with them off?"
"We'll play tag...no...kick the can in the dark!"
Sara took one of the empty cans from the table.
"We'll call it 'Yamioni.'"
"That sounds cool. Let's go with that!"
"It's a bit more exciting than normal tag."
"Of course, Takeshi's good with it, right?"
We decided who was 'it' using rock, paper, scissors.
"Damn. I lost!"
...Takeshi was out on the first try.
"Alright. So Takeshi is 'it' first."
"Then it's settled."
Everybody was grinning at Takeshi. Takeshi looked about as sorry as it was possible for him to look.
"Here you go, Takeshi."
I handed the empty can to Takeshi.
"But...hiding anywhere is okay, as long as it's on this third floor. Okay, let's hide."
"W-wait a sec!"
Takeshi held up a hand hurriedly stopping You from sending everyone off.
"You, what did you just say?"
"No. Before that."
"You can hide anywhere on this third floor."
"...Are you serious? Not just the Conference Room?"
"This room is too small. And there aren't that many places to hide."
"But the WHOLE third floor?"
"Oh, of course, the areas you can't walk from here are off limits. And the emergency corridors and stairs are no good either."
"That's still too big!"
"It's not fair to the person that's 'it'. While he's looking, he's sure to get it from somebody else..."
"I think it's fine."
"It's not fine. The game won't work. That's a MAJOR problem."
"Gosh. You sure complain a lot."
"Well, he would certainly appear to be at a disadvantage..."
"I will dim the lights on the third floor...but in return I will make it so that sounds carry better. If sounds carry, then you can hear when someone moves across a corridor with water. That will give the person who is 'it' an advantage. And I will make it so that you know where people are moving. I will synthesize footsteps and dispatch the data to voice converters."
"Alright. That sounds better."
"Oh, but...what should I do if I should get to the can first?"
"That's right. You can't kick the can!"
We'd only just noticed. If we played tag, we just would have had to ban Sora from jumping about as an image...
"Then I'll team up with you. We'll make it so that Sora and I have to be within a yard of each other when we hide or when we are 'it'. So I can kick the can..."
"Okay? Let's try it this way."
On top of that we made Sora promise not to use the bio scan or LeMU to monitor the location of anyone.
"Yeah, that makes it fair then."
"Alright. All set."
It looked like everyone was ready.
"So I'll count. O-n-e, t-w-o, t-h-r-e-e..."
As Takeshi started counting, we dashed out of the Conference Room.
Splash, splash, splash...
The sound of our stepping through water sounded deeper than before.
(I get it...so this is what she meant by making the sound bigger...)
I thought that we would have to pay attention to which sounds were our own and which others. And we'd have to determine which footsteps belonged to the person that was it. But for the person that was it, it was easier because everyone else was the enemy. That pretty much negated any advantage we might have had. At least that was what I thought.
You, who had been running at the front of the pack, stopped us.
"If you don't hide, he'll find you."
"Don't worry about that. Just listen."
"It appears that you have some kind of strategy."
"Yes. Exactly right."
"If we continue like this, then we'll just get all separated and hide... But that increases the chance that we'll lose."
"But that's the way the game works, isn't it?"
"You're SO naive. In games a man is supposed to WANT to win."
'But aren't you supposed to be a girl, You?'
I stopped myself from saying that in the nick of time.
"But there is no way to guarantee a win, right?"
"Mayo...is that what you really think?"
You said this as she played with Sara's braids.
"Well, hurry up and tell us already."
"If you'll think about what we have...and what Takeshi doesn't, then you'll get it in a flash."
"What we have...?"
"What Takeshi doesn't...?"
"Numbers. We are many. Takeshi is one."
"YES! That's it."
Hopefully the smart/dumb questions are removed from the updated Xbox 360 version, but until then well have to deal with them. The one here was I get it./I dont get it.
"Oh, I get it...we'll try to win by sheer numbers."
"Yup. If we all mob together then there is nothing the person that's it can do."
"So if somebody gets found, somebody else just kicks the can. And if that person gets caught, then somebody else kicks the can..."
"That's right. So if we all get there at once and unleash an attack, Takeshi won't be able to defend, right?"
"Oh, I get it."
"So...after we all split up we'll aim for the can and charge the Conference Room. After kicking the can, we'll separate again immediately."
"By repeating this hit-and-run we'll win."
"But isn't that kind of cheating?"
"Not at all. Attacking with overwhelming numbers is a basic military strategy."
"So it's kind of like violence by the masses?"
"Or a democratic strategy."
"In a democracy...the majority rules... In other words...those with less numbers are weak."
But our footsteps were sure loud. Still, if we didn't hurry, Takeshi would find us. I just hoped that someone would get there and kick the can before he found me.
"Who is that?"
Suddenly, Takeshi's voice rang out behind me. I was so concerned with the sound of my own footsteps that I didn't hear him approach. At this distance...there was no way I could get away. I gave up.
"Oh, no. You caught me... Am I the first one?"
"Dang. That means if you catch everyone, then I'm 'it' next?"
"I reckon so."
"I wonder if someone will show up to help me."
"Takeshi, if you don't go step on the can, then I'll go kick it."
"You sure know your kick-the-can rules."
Suddenly You came flying from the side and completely sideswiped Takeshi with a jumping cross-chop to the neck.
Takeshi's head had gone under water.
You was pointing at the submerged Takeshi and cackling crazily.
Takeshi, floundering in the water, stood up.
"Hee, hee...I won this battle!"
"Hey you! Wait!"
"Wait for you to catch me? No thanks!"
"Hey you! I'll get you back for that! Just you wait!"
Takeshi took off in a mad dash after You.
"...Well...I guess I'd better go kick the can."
I strolled leisurely to the Conference Room.
"I found the Kid! I stomped on the can!"
Takeshi pointed at me declaring this. He was stepping on the can. You was near him and looked depressed. It looked like she had lost.
"Ha, ha, ha! Did you really think you could outwit me?"
"Takeshi you cheat! You changed the place of the can!"
"Nobody said where we had to put the can, right? Besides, you smacked me so I figure we're even."
"Alright, alright. Whatever. Anyway, so I'm the first person you caught?"
"You got it."
"Well, that plan was sure a failure..."
"...Huh? What plan?"
As they were talking, the sound of splashing footsteps could be heard approaching the door...
"I found Sora and Sara."
Takeshi stepped on the can.
"Oh, did you get beaten here, You?"
"Things didn't quite work out as planned."
"Nakkyu, don't you think you jumped the gun just a little bit?"
"You said we would all charge together."
"So that was your plan..."
"Yeah. I thought if we all went for the can at once, you wouldn't be able to stop us."
"That's pretty tricky."
You laughed mischievously and with a hint of embarrassment. We gathered in the center of the room.
"Well, finding all of you was easier than I thought..."
"First of all, mob-style kicking of the can is definitely outlawed."
"You think I can stop you if you all come attack at once?"
"That's why. It takes all the fun out of it. Timing your rush, just right, for when the person who is 'it' goes searching...all of that would disappear from the game."
You reluctantly agreed to be 'it' the next time.
"Alright. Everybody good with that?"
Sora, Sara, I - everyone nodded.
"Okay then. You is 'it' next. The can is over there, so you get it. Put it where you want and count..."
Clatter, clatter, clatter...
The sound of a can being kicked rang out in the darkness.
"Hey! Who kicked that?"
"It wasn't me!"
As soon as she got this out of her mouth, You started to run away.
We all scattered like scared butterflies.
You said this as she ran.
"That was a close call."
"But who kicked the can?"
All four of us had been found by Takeshi. The rules were that anyone caught couldn't kick the can.
"It wasn't me or Nakkyu. And Sora can't kick."
"I didn't kick it."
"You don't suppose it was Tsugumi, do you?"
"Tsugumi? No way."
"But that's the only possibility."
"I wonder if Tsugumi wanted to play the whole time."
"She was probably just embarrassed to say so."
That could have put a new, almost adorable twist on her personality.
"Oh, ho! We'll have to thank her when we see her."
Sara laughed happily as she said this.
You proposed this as we reached a T in the corridor.
"Yeah, let's split up. Good luck!"
"Okay. We will meet up later."
You went left and Sara and Sora went to the right. Uh...I...