# Ever 17

## bylittle_firebird

### Part 69: Kid - Fourth Day - Part 1

Track—Insel Null

"Bingo. You got it."

"So a 3 bit key for the letter 'E' could be 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111. A total of eight combinations. So every time the code key increases by one bit, the number of code patterns increases exponentially. So for a 4 bit key there would be 16 combinations and for a 5 bit key, 32... So let's say this had a 68 bit key?"

"..."

A 6 bit would be 64...a 7 bit would be 128...an 8 bit would be 256...

(Uh...uh...let's see...)

"The right answer is 2 to the 68th power."

You was doing the calculations on the Security Office calculator.

"So the number of code patterns would be possible is roughly 2.951479052 x 10 to the 20th power. Or 2 sextillion 9514 quadrillion 7905 trillion 179 billion 352 million 825,856 different ways."

"......"

"It's like looking for a hair on the whole of the planet Earth - including the oceans. That's the code that Mayo decrypted. But you know what? What's so incredible about it is not that Mayo was able to do it, but the method she used to do it."

"The method?"

"Yeah. There are two ways of finding a password. One involves difficult mathematical calculations... The other is a method that has to do with trying every key. It seems like she couldn't find an algorithm to work for the first method... So a normal person would opt for the second option. And that's using all of the computers around the world participating in the contest. If you didn't, they say the calculations would take tens of thousands of years. But...but Mayo did it differently."

"She didn't..."

"Yup. She sure did. Mayo put together her own algorithm and did it using difficult mathematical calculations. And just seven days after the competition started, she had found the password."

It was too incredible. It didn't seem real. I should've been surprised, but I wasn't. It was just too hard to imagine that the girl in front of me could do that...

(Sara...what in the world...are you?)

"Agghh! This isn't right!"

Sara pounded her fist on the console.

"It's not working?"

"........."

"Oh, I'm sorry...I'm just a little irritated."

"Don't worry about it. I'm sorry for asking you to do this."

"........."

"Hey, why don't we take a break? I made some coffee."

"Here you go, Mayo."

You handed Sara her coffee.

"Oh, thank you so much"

Sara's coffee came with milk and the sugar bowl.

"H-hey. Didn't you say that you weren't supposed to put anything in coffee?"

"It's okay. Mayo is a special exception."

"Yup."

"Hey, that's not fair."

"Oh, stop complaining!"

"Yeah. You and I are different is all."

(Leave it to You to change the rules!)

Not wanting to start an argument, I silently put milk and sugar in my coffee.

...

After a bit You asked Sara -

"So? How're you doing, Mayo?"

"So far I've got nothing."

Sara turned her palms out letting them face the ceiling. She meant she had zilch.

"Wow, this is even tough for you Mayo, this must be some security..."

"To tell you the truth, the security here is way above normal. I don't think that they are using just a normal firewall. They seem to have made some kind of improvements on the daemons, as well."

"Fire well? Daem what?..., huh?"

"A firewall is a way of protecting a network from unknown intruders. Daemons reside on the OS in the memory. They're responsible for all of the..."

"Uh, okay...I get it...thanks."

(That's it - I'm not asking anymore questions...)

"It's that tough, huh?"

Sara nodded.

'...Normally this kind of OS software is put together using C...So, I tried to attack it using DoS...But it's been reinforced....I'm having trouble finding a hole in the security...'

The conversation (mostly Sara talking) might have well been in some alien language.

"Well, when it gets that complicated, that's pretty much my limit... I'm getting more and more suspicious about this database. I wonder what Leiblich is trying to hide with all this security?"

"Yeah...it's really strange. This isn't your average company security."

I suddenly remembered that on the first day, Sora had told me the reason why Leiblich built LeMU here was a corporate secret. I wondered if it could be related to this.

"Hey. Can't you use the program that worked to win that decoding contest, Mayo?"

"Oh, that's an idea."

"And if we could figure out the root authority password..."

"That's impossible."

"Why?"

"I did a check on the code strength. Guess what it was."

"What?"

"136 bit."

"What?"

"W-what?...That means..."

The number of possible patterns was two to the 136th power.

"Even if you had what it took to get the password, by the time you found..."

Sara held out her fist and opened it up.

"Booom!"

She was right...LeMU was going to go in three days.

"..."

You was depressed.

"Isn't there anything else you can try?"

"Well, there is one thing... There is one trick I haven't tried."

"What's that?"

A ray of hope returned to You's eyes.

"Everything I tried up until has been cracking this using orthodox methods."

"Uh, there's no such thing as orthodox cracking, is there...?"

Sara ignored me and went on talking.

"What's left... Is what is a kind of cracking that doesn't really require technique. It's called 'social engineering.'"

"What's that?"

"Simply put, it is using social behavior to get information...For example..."

Sara stopped as if it were hard to say.

"For example, finding a person that works for the company operating the server you want to attack and tricking them into giving you a password."

"You get it by tricking...someone...?"

Sara nodded.

"There...there's no way we could do it. Even if we could trick Sora..."

"Of course, it's not something I want to do either. From Sora's perspective, she can't very well leak company information... And I won't try to force her. But... But that's how you get information illegally. But if you are set on getting that information no matter what, you don't have much choice. I just want you to know that."

I couldn't think of anything to say. We were using a computer to do it, so it didn't seem real, but we were actually trying to deceive someone to get information. That was exactly what we were trying to do.

"A system's biggest bug is the people who use it.... My mom used to say that a lot. In that way, maybe we are all bugs in LeMMIH's system."

You stared straight at Sara.

"I agree with you Mayo. But I just can't do it. I can't do anything to deceive Sora. Even if I lose the chance to find out what happened to my dad. Mayo, I'm sorry for asking for such a difficult favor...but I think I'd rather try something else for now."

Sara looked down then lifted her face, grinning broadly.

"Okay then. We'll do it your way."

Sara faced the keyboard again.

"Sara..."

"Don't worry. No matter how stubborn the system is, it was made by people and they can't be as stubborn as me! There's got to be a weak point somewhere..."

Sara began typing away.

[Music—Stop]

We covered our eyes. After a bit our eyes got used to it. I squinted against the light. And there was...

Sora was floating in the air surrounded by a bright ring of light. She was looking down at us from above. She was wearing a white looking cape that fanned out like a pair of wings... She looked like an angel descending from heaven...

"W-what is it, Sora?... Showing up all of a sudden..."

"........."

Track—Kopfsprung

"Sora?"

Something wasn't right.

"There was some abnormal traffic on LeMMIH so I came to see what was going on... What are you all doing?"

Sora spoke politely, but her eyes were like ice. We should have expected her to see through us. But why did she seem completely different than the Sora we were used to?

"Can't you tell by looking? We're trying to crack LeMMIH."

"Do you all know the meaning of what you are doing?"

"Sora! Please listen to what we have to say first. You's father was a member of the team that made LeMMIH. In other words, he's your father, too, Sora."

"........."

"But he disappeared 17 years ago... At the same time there was an accident the cause of which was unclear here. Something about the whole thing is shady. Both the accident and the disappearance of You's father...we think that there is probably something behind the scenes connecting them... So You is trying to get the facts about her dad. She is looking for the truth."

"........."

"Sora..."

"So that's...what this is about... You's father was..."

"Sora...?"

"If it were something I can do, I would like to help you. If it were possible..."

Sora closed her eyes for a while... And then opened them.

"I understand your intentions. But my duty is to protect LeMMIH from intruders. So I am supposed to stop you. That is how I am designed. I alone have no choice...but to obey my orders."

"But that's not..."

"Oh...but...what should I..."

Sora's shoulders shook and she had a pained look on her face.

"Sora, it's fine."

"Huh?"

"Work out somehow...? Sara, what are trying to do?"

"If Sora follows her current program, then she'll have to get in our way. But Sora doesn't want that. So I should just rewrite the program so that Sora can take the action that she wants to take."

"Can you do that?"

"Maybe. Of course, that is if you want me to..."

"........."

Sora's shoulders quivered slightly.

"Sora, are you scared?"

"Yes, a little. No...I am very scared."

"........."

"Let's...not do this. I don't want my selfishness to cause any more problems for everyone."

"Be quiet, You. This has something to do with everyone, not just you."

"........."

"Okay, Sora. It's up to you."

"........."

"Sora? I'd like you to listen to me, and then decide after you hear what I've got to say... Sora, you said it yourself."

"You wanted to exist in the same way that we do. And we want the same thing. That is all I wanted to say."

"........."

Finally, Sora lifted her face and focused her eyes on Sara.

[Music—Stop]

"As you wish."

"Mayo, you be careful. Please, don't hurt Sora..."

"It'll be fine. Trust me."

Sara typed on the keyboard.

"Alright then. Sorry, Sora, but I'm going to take a look inside you now. Don't worry. Think of it as like an x-ray."

Sara continued working as we watched.

As we watched her deft hands, Sora's tense expression began to relax. It was then that...

"Ugghhh...!"

Sora began to suffer.

"Wh-what's the matter?"

Track—Das Absuchen

"Wh-what happened?"

"How am I supposed to know?"

"Dang. That sucks...it looks like I got snagged by the scan..."

"What's that mean?"

"That the surveillance program that is managing Sora discovered it was being cracked."

"Everyone...please escape at once! If you stay...I... I may...harm you."

"Huh?"

"Escape... N...now!"

"Oh...I'm not going to make it!"

Sora held out her hand.

"I will now implement elimination of the intruder."

Our surroundings suddenly changed. We were no longer in the Security Office. We were in the middle of a roiling ocean. The water swirled loudly.

(Wh-what is this?!)

It appeared as if we were about to be sucked in and our bodies torn to pieces. I tried to shout...but water continued to rush into my lungs and I couldn't breathe.

(What is...happening?)

"Is this...an RSD image?"

You shouted this.

The ocean continued to ground in my ears. It was all the work of a generated hologram. So it was no longer scary.

"It is no use."

The next instant a high-frequency scream rang out in my mind. My head hurt like it might split open.

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!"

Unable to withstand it, I took out the voice converters that I thought were causing the pain. But the sound went on.

"Sound is also being emitted from the room's speakers. As long as you are in LeMU you can't escape."

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

The pain was so intense that we were rolling around on the floor.

"Cease what you are doing immediately."

"N...no...!"

"I said no! I have to do this...for Sora...for Nakkyu...and for myself. I won't lose to Leiblich!"

Sara continued pecking at the keyboard.

"If you persist in your efforts, I can not guarantee your safety."

"There has to be a hole someplace in the security...!"

"Wh...what? I'm not giving up...no matter what...!"

"There is no...I will from now...release one segment of my security. Please aim for it...by sending in a massive load of data."

"Yes...that should...make my system out of control. I can't guarantee...the outcome...but it might create a gap long enough for you to rewrite the system."

"With my power...I can only free it up for only a short amount of time. Don't miss the chance. The chance will...be 1/17 of a second."

"Got it."

"Okay. Here I go... Gggrrrrhhh...!"

Beeeeeeeeeep!

"A type 14 error has occurred."

"Now!"

"Sorry, Sora!"

"One segment of security..."

Sara pushed the enter key.

"...has discovered an impediment..."

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!"

Beeep!

"A type 7 error has occurred. Approaching numerical limit."

"I did it!"

The high-frequency attack stopped.

"Aaaah...arrrghhh...oooooowww!"

Sora struggled in pain. Finally her body began trembling.

"Sora!?"

Beeeeeeeeeeeeep!

"A type 9 error has occurred. Division by zero will be initiated according to application formatting."

Beeeeeeeeeeeeep!

"Waaaaa! W-what's happening to me...? I am...I am Sora Akanegasaki...a system engineer in LeMU's Development Department...and assistant in charge of operating LeMU."

Crackle!

A part of the console sparked.

"I...will be your guide today during your visit to LeMU. I...guarantee your safety and the safety of everyone on LeMU. I am the protector of everyone in LeMU. I am the defender of all in LeMU."

Snap!

"I am...I am... Who am I?"

"Don't lose yourself! You are Sora! You are Sora Akanegasaki and have been spending time with us!"

"I have...with everyone...?"

Beeeeeeeeeeep!

"Unanticipated orders are attempting to be implemented."

Sora started suffering even more...

Sora...split in two.

"Sora...is two..."

"You mean...she divided...?"

It wasn't an illusion. Of course, given that it was all RSD-generated, there is no guarantee that it all wasn't an illusion... At least I was not the only one that saw it. You and Sara seemed to be seeing it, too. The new Sora attacked, grabbing the old Sora by the throat. The two of them struggled equally. The two Soras... It was like an apple split into two pieces...? No! It was like an apple reproduced in whole.

...Cell Division. I figured that this was the result of overloading LeMMIH.

"Okay! I got the root authority!"

"Do it now! If you strike now, you can rewrite the system!"

"A fatal...system error...has occurred... Data may be...damaged...Immediately... initiate...rebuilding... In 30 seconds...the emergency reset...will initiate."

"Hurry! LeMMIH is resetting the system to rebuild it. You must act before that! Hurry!"

"Okay! Just be patient, Sora."

Sara typed the keys at a furious speed. All we could do is stand helplessly and watch.

"17 seconds to reset."

"Sara? Not yet?"

"Just a little more!"

Sara continued pounding in code as she wiped the sweat from her brow.

"Seven seconds to reset."

"Sara!"

"I've got it!"

Sara stood as if she were ejected from her chair.

"Three seconds to reset."

"Okay! Ninja Technology Technique... Time to turn the tables!"

Sara struck the keyboard with her palm.

[Music—Stop]

The two of Sora's images began to overlap...The two fused into one. At the same time, the system underwent an emergency reset.

Darkness and silence...colors and sound lost. LeMMIH temporarily ceased functioning. And then exactly 170 seconds later...LeMMIH rebooted.

Track—Klamauk

The fan of the computer gave off a quiet whirring sound. The display on the wall came online all at once. There was a surge of letters rushing across the monitor...the system start up screen...and it finally switched to automatic operating mode. And then Sora appeared again before us. She seemed to burst upon us floating in the air, but at the same time had a solid presence. She closed her eyes and it looked as if she were embracing herself as she descended.

"Sora...?"

Sora slowly opened her eyes.

"Good morning."

"...Everyone."

"Do you know who we are? Do you remember us?"I pointed at myself.

"Yes, Kid. And You and Sara as well. And Takeshi and Tsugumi, although they of course are not present."

"Yes."

"Hey, Sora. I would like to investigate LeMMIH's C level data. Could you help me?"

"Of course. I'll do my best."

Sora nodded slightly as she spoke.

"Hey, there is something I would like to know... Sara, what in the world did you do to rewrite the system?"

"Uh, well...actually I didn't change anything. I just added a patch that changes the priority duties."

"That is correct. My processing routine has not been altered. However, now my duty to serve you is higher priority than that of my duty to protect LeMMIH."

"Hmmm. I don't really understand, but... But you mean that you no longer have to stop us?"

"That's right. And if it will be of use to you, then I will show you the internal workings of LeMMIH."

"Now then, shall we jump right into the search?"

"By all means."

"........."

"Hey? You, what's wrong?"

You was hunched over and quiet. She didn't look well.

"Thank you...Sora...and Mayo. You've done so much for me..."

And then Sara said -

"That doesn't seem like you...Nakkyu. You can't choose what you have to do to get what you want, just keep being yourself!"

Sara waved her words away casually with the palm of her hand. I agreed with her completely.

"She's right. Don't lose sight of yourself."

"I agree."

"Okay..."

"And thank you too, Kid."

"Huh? Me? I didn't do anything."

"What are you talking about? You are the one that persuaded Sara to help, right?"

"And my decision was based on your words of wisdom."

'You told me that you all hoped for the same thing.'

"It was your advice that helped me to make up my mind."

"I see...so that's what happened."

I felt a bit embarrassed.

"Alright! Now enough warm fuzzies... Let's start investigating!"

[Everyone]
"Alright!!"

The only clue that we had to start off our investigation was the name of You's father, Yoichi Tanaka. Actually, the work going on beneath the surface of LeMMIH's exterior was all done by Sora. It looked like the system still couldn't be accessed by normal means. Sara was worn out but she kept on typing.

[Music—Stop]

...Nearly half an hour had passed since Sora had disappeared inside LeMMIH.

Track—Gedaechtnisschwund

"Are you finished?"

"I can only tell you what I was able to learn, but..."

"Good work."

"So? What did you find out?"

"........."

"It didn't work?"

"No, I have uncovered various facts."

"In that case, hurry up and tell us."

"........."

"...Sora?"

Sora stared straight at You. Her serious expression made You wrinkle her brow. It didn't look like the kind of situation suitable for light talk or jokes. I wondered what Sora could have found...?

"You, I want you to stay calm and listen. There is a possibility... That your father, Yoichi Tanaka, has already died."

"Yes, 34 years ago."

"Thirty-four years ago...?"

"..."

"H-hold...on... What do you mean 34 years ago? I'm only 18-years-old. I was born 18 years ago. How could anything as ridiculous as my father dying 34 years ago...?"

"Y-yeah...what you're saying Sora just doesn't match the facts."

"Please just stay calm and listen. I have not reached a final conclusion. I am merely saying that there is the possibility."

"........."

"First I tried to search for information on You's father. However, there were no files pertaining to Yoichi Tanaka recorded in LeMU's database. In other words, there are no records that anyone by that name existed."

"So are you saying...that You's father wasn't here?"

"It...it can't be..."

"But that is only based on limited information from the areas of files you can access, right Sora? You said there were areas you couldn't breach, right?"

"Of course, that is correct. I am merely an interface program for LeMMIH. I am not permitted to access high-security data."

"So records about Yoichi Tanaka might be there."

Sora continued, responding to Sara's question.

"That is a possibility that I can't deny. However, there is no such name on company name lists, accounting records or any of the message logs exchanged on the local area network... As far as these are concerned, no record of Yoichi Tanaka exists."

"That can't be! I'm sure that my dad worked here at LeMU! And besides...besides... Even if he wasn't here...that doesn't mean that he is dead, right?"

"Correct..."

Bang!

"No it's not 'correct!' Tell me why you reached that theory!"

Sara grabbed You as she went to grab Sora. You was on the verge of losing reason, and getting carried away by her emotions.

"I will explain my research and reasoning. But first...may I ask you a question?"

"?"

"This may sound rude, but...where did you hear that your father was an employee at LeMU?"

"I..."

"That your father disappeared when you were a one-year-old. If that is a fact, then you should have no memories of your father... Am I wrong?"

"No, you're right. I don't remember anything about my father. I don't remember playing together, or him holding me..."

"But I'm sure that he as around until I was one. There are pictures and films of that time. I'm sure he was there. I'm sure that my mom said so as well."

"So that was the case..."

"Huh?"

"........."

"........."

"........."

"........."

"What is it? Why won't you say anything?"

"It's because..."

"What?"

"It is difficult to say..."

"It might be difficult...but you have already told me many difficult things."

"........."

"So tell me. What happened with my mom?"

"You're sure?"

"Y-yes."

"Then I will tell you. Your mother...Yukie Tanaka... Passed away 15 years ago."

"No!? W-what are you saying? Sora... How can you tell me that... That's just not possible..."

"That is all that I can tell you. I will display the detailed documents on the screen. Please refer to them."

You stumbled toward the display, sitting down in front of it. Sara and I read the display from over her shoulder. On the screen... Was a record from the company LAN. It was a notice a death. There was a file about the office procedures related to Yukie Tanaka's death. There was a message log of messages exchanged among employees about the notice of her death. And a funeral notice...The screen kept changing from one image to the next. The next thing that was uploaded to the server read-

02/07/19...

(So this was on July 19, 2002, 15 years ago...)

At the end of the files, the following appeared. It was a record of an online conversation between employee Mr. A in the Personnel Section of the General Affairs Division and Mrs. B in the Second Section of the Research Division.

"I won't believe it!...I won't...! I absolutely can't believe it!!!"

As she shouted this, You fled from the Security Office.

"Nakkyu!"

Sara followed after her. Sora and I remained behind.

Track—Heilmittel

"Did you understand? As I said before, when I searched the database for the name Yoichi Tanaka, the data which I can access had no records. However, the chat log that appears to be 15 years old... It seems to indicate that Yukie Tanaka had a husband named Yöichi. Judging from the context of the document...I conjectured that if Yöichi had died 19 years before that would mean 34 years before now."

"But the name Yoichi Tanaka doesn't appear in any of the other data. Why is it only here?"

"I can only speculate from my limited knowledge... All records related to Yoichi Tanaka were erased for a reason. Please read the 14th and 15th line of this log one more time."

-A > What? Oh, you mean you didn't know?
-B > Is that so?

"The flow of the conversation seems unnatural."

"Yes. Originally there seems to have been some text between these lines."

"So you mean that someone erased part of it?"

"From A's comments it would appear so."

"But, Yöichi's name was left in B's comments... Oh I see."