Part 1: On The Way Home
BGM: Theme of Destiny
There are a number of terms used to describe a sequence of events that lead to a specific outcome. Some call it life. Others call it a story. One is responsible for much during this sequence such as choices picked, relationships built, and mistakes made. All of that is for the sake of proceeding a long a predetermined path. That is the natural order of a world ruled by the concept of fate.
Fate never strays from its course, regardless of how cruel it may be. My life, and the events in it thus far are simply the product of fate leading me to a certain outcome. That's why I've never once given thought to any missed possibilities found along this path. My life has never been anything worth talking about in the first place. I've never had the luxury of considering the what ifs. After all, I've convinced myself, life has no do-overs. Once the story ends, that's it.
My name is Shishimai Rinka. I'm a second year at Amecha Girl's University High School, a rather famous all-girls school in the big city. Unlike my middle school, which was a hodgepodge of top students and those who barely showed up for class, this is the realm of refined, wealthy ladies. A realm I clearly don't belong in. In fact, they wasted no time in labeling me as a delinquent of sorts.
One reason, really the main reason, is the golden streaks in my hair. However, it's my natural hair color, so the school itself has no issue with it. Not like I get hassled for it, either... It's just a bit too out there for these sheltered students. The main reason I chose Amecha was because it didn't seem to have many regulations in regards to appearance. It turned out, they just didn't list anything due to its unspoken rules based on being a traditional school.
I was pretty pissed off when I got treated like a delinquent, despite having not broken any rules at the time. Fewer than three months later, I've stopped caring. Much like how I have my own values, the girls here have theirs. I can't understand their viewpoint, so it's only natural they can't understand mine. To tell the truth, I am pretty content with making no effort to look at life from another's point of view.
That is, until a certain event causes a massive change in my life. It all starts on a certain day before Golden Week...
05/02 (WED), Evening
Huh. The station clock's not moving... I wonder if it's broken.
Rinka's VA is Eriko Matsui; other characters she's voiced include Benio Yonomori in Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, Misaki Sakurada in Joukamachi no Dandelion, and Nao Kamiya in one of the iDOLM@STER mobile games.
I relay my observation to Naomi as we pass through the ticket gate.
Oh, you're right... I'm surprised you noticed! It's not often you see something like that happen.
Naomi's VA is Asuka Kakumoto; other characters she's voiced are Maiko Serizawa in Isshuukan Friends, Niko Oono in Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, and Elena Shimabara in one of the iDOLM@STER mobile games.
Right? Oh, um, sorry for interrupting you. What were you saying?
Uhh... Well... Ahaha, I seem to have forgotten, too.
BGM: Lion House Cafe
This is Hitsuji Naomi, a first year at Amecha. You might assume that I know her from club activities or something like the student council, but it was coincidence that brought us together. She may be my junior, but I simply see her as a friend because age difference doesn't matter much to me. We're heading back to my place right now, making our way to the station platform to wait for the train.
She yelps as she trips over nothing but air. Fortunately, I snag her hand and keep her from falling on her face. Well, she tugs me forward a bit in the process because she's a bit taller than me, but she manages to regain her balance quick.
Th-Thank you so much!
Now you're overreacting.
I'm not sure if it's due to her meek nature or not, but Naomi tends to trip herself up pretty often. She's the kind of girl you look at and suddenly feel an inexplicable urge to protect.
Hmm? What's up?
M-My hand... please...
Oops, I forgot to let go of her hand after catching her.
Oh, sorry. Did I hurt you?
N-No, not at all! It's just... well...
She casts her eyes downward as she answers. Maybe I squeezed a bit too tight without realizing it? I let go with an apologetic expression.
U-Um...! Th-The train's almost here! Let's get going!
She fixes her glasses, which had become askew after tripping, and then points towards the platform with haste. Situations like this typically lead to a replay of the events from just a minute ago-
Geez. You're a real handful, you know that?
She bumps right into a passerby the moment she starts to walk towards the platform. Even worse, it causes them both to topple over.
I-I'm so sorry!
Sorry. She's a bit too clumsy for her own good...
I make my way over as they get back to their feet. She bumped into what seems to be a young girl. She's about the same height as me, but her face is definitely younger. Sometimes Naomi gets mistaken for a middle schooler thanks to her big round eyes, but that's not the case with this girl.
U-Um... Are you okay?
I notice how pallid her eyes are when I try to speak to her. Her hair's pure white, but mostly obscured by her hat. She definitely looks young, but... her facial features stand out more than your average person's. Safe to assume that she's a foreigner, then. That means her hair isn't dyed, either.
Unlike Naomi, this girl has fallen backward. Since Naomi bumped into the girl's back, you'd think she would've fallen face first, but she quickly spun around while falling. Not only that, but she also made sure to cradle the bag that was on her back. Based on its size, I'd guess she's here on vacation. Chances are she's carrying something fragile in there, like a camera.
She's by herself, too, so I'm assuming she came here with her family and has somehow gotten lost. What I think is a key on her bag at first is actually just a keychain. She hops back to her feet, bag in hand, her glare drilling into me.
You should apologize, Naomi.
She seems a bit too panicked to get up on her own, so I lend her my hand once again.
I-I'm so sorry about that...! Wait, are you a foreigner? Uhh... what do I say in situations like this? Sah-ree...? Par-dohn...?
The VA for this line says the last two words in English rather than Japanese
You should take a deep breath first.
She offers nothing beyond an empty stare as Naomi apologizes and bows her head. She seems like she wants to say something, but for whatever reason, opts not to.
Eventually, she runs off toward the platform without making it clear whether or not she understood our apology. She spins around to face us one more time, but I get the feeling that she's locking eyes with me, not Naomi. It's funny... Thanks to her unique appearance, she still stands out in the crowd. Then again, my hair causes me to stand out as well, so that's probably how she spots me so quickly.
In the end, I'm not able to tell if she finds her parents or if she actually has come here all alone.
Hey now, no point in saying that to me. You did apologize to her, and she didn't seem to be injured, so... I guess it's fine.
That being said, you really gotta pay more attention to your surroundings.
Right! I'll be sure to use severe caution with each and every step I take from now on!
You realize you're gonna trip again if you do that, right? O-Oh... I can't see her anymore.
Is something the matter? Don't tell me he actually did get hurt...
Wait, 'he'? Wasn't that a girl?
Was it? You may be right, considering how pretty she was. Wh-Which means I've been doubly rude...
The sound of an approaching train rises as our conversation falls, much like Naomi. We make our way over to the platform.
Try not to trip stepping in this time, okay?
We make our way onto the train bound for Shinjuku, having largely forgotten about the person Naomi bumped into.
BGM: Silence (plus train SFX)
We board the next train at Otsuka station. My place isn't far from there. We first have to get off at Shinjuku station before taking the metro for two more stations. The only issue is that we're making this journey at 5 p.m.- pretty much rush hour- so the trains are packed. Naomi and I get practically glued together on our journey to Shinjuku.
S-Sorry... It's my fault that we got caught in all the foot traffic...
Don't worry about it. I'm used to this, so it's no big deal.
BGM: A Dot on a Piece of Paper
Huh? Isn't that...?
I spy a familiar bag from amongst the crowd. Well, the bag itself is standard, so it's actually the keychain that catches my eye. Yup. It's the kid from earlier. Standing right in the middle of the passenger car, bag hugged tight against their chest. They're not tall enough to reach the overhead straps, but I doubt they'll fall over thanks to how crammed it is.
Didn't expect them to be in the same car.
Hmm? Did something happen?
Oh, wait... Their bag's open.
The strap has probably unfastened a bit due to people rubbing against it on the train. I'm just worried because the kid doesn't seem to have noticed. The other passengers probably don't care enough to notice, either. Some are reading the newspaper, others are killing time by checking out all the ads, but most are on their phones. I doubt I would've noticed if Naomi hadn't bumped into them.
And that's why I am the only one to see what they are doing...
With a deadly serious expression, almost as if they are being squashed by incredible pressure...
Something black is peeking out of the bag. It looks mechanical, but different from a camera or laptop. For whatever reason, my mind leaps to a conclusion that I've only read in fiction...
It's a bo-
Before I can finish, it happens.
A flash emits out of the bag.
The detonation is almost instantaneous. A wave of heat propels throughout the train car, enough to feel like my skin is being seared off. A sharp, explosive roar comes right after, puncturing my eardrums. I duck in front of Naomi to protect her and then push her away. I feel my body being pushed by the explosive shockwave, too.
And in that moment, my body is burned beyond repair within the flames.
BGM: Sinking in Flames
However, my consciousness remains intact...
I hear a voice.
I don't feel anything anymore.
Vivid memories pulse through me- the shockwave, the pain, the heat searing through my body... And yet, I no longer feel any of it.
My consciousness begins to fade. Or maybe I've already lost it. This is but a remnant of it before it fades away completely.
The final, fleeting moments of a consciousness drowned in a sea of fire.
My sight gradually fades, too. No doubt my consciousness will be spirited away, like a leaf in a gust of wind.
If nothing else, being able to hear that voice puts me at ease.
There's no arguing that fate has decided to end my life here and now.
[Fatal Twelve Opening Movie]
Familiar Voice A: Rinny! Earth to Rinny! Rinka, you there?
Familiar Voice B: Rinka?
I hear two voices calling out to me. I know who they belong to without even seeing their faces.
Familiar Voice A: Wake up, dammit!
BGM: Lion House Cafe
A sharp pain rushes through my forehead, causing me to finally lift my face off my arms. No doubt this'll sting for a while.
What happened to the fire?
Fire? Were you dreaming? Sounds weird...
Dream...? So... I was asleep?
J-Just a little...
No need to be so polite about it, Naorin.