Part 122: The Final Selection
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
07/22 (SUN), Midnight
I glance around the Court of Fate. This marks the twelfth time I've come here. The sight that greets me is one that I've become accustomed to. A number of gears float amidst an infinite darkness. I gaze up and notice a faint ray of light piercing said darkness. The circular platform I'm on is about three meters in diameter. A witness stand, like one you'd see in court, is attached. This is just one of twelve platforms, all of which are arranged within a larger circular pattern, like a clock's face. In the center of three concentric circles are massive clock hands, slowly ticking away.
There was a time when twelve of us were gathered here together. But now there are only two of us. Miharu and myself.
I turn to face Miharu in the endless darkness.
The time's finally come.
Needless to say, Naomi and Lethe aren't here with us. The Court of Fate is a place reserved solely for participants. They may have a special power of their own, but it's irrelevant to this place. It wouldn't matter if it was. We're the ones who need to settle things with Parca, not them.
Good evening, my lovely little slaves to fate.
The girl in question wastes no time in entering the scene, accompanied by her usual haughty tone. The goddess is all smiles, like always.
Pardon me. Perhaps there's no need to make such a grand entrance when only two of you remain. Oh, if only you knew how much it pains me to part ways with one of you tonight. Do allow me the pleasure of bearing witness to the conclusion you have reached.
Mind if I ask something first?
What might that be?
BGM: Do You Understand?
Can you see what fate has in store for us beyond this point? If it's all predetermined, then what was the point in all this?
A fine question. Very well, if it's answers you seek, then answers I shall provide. The way in which I see and understand fate differs greatly from you. I observe a number of potential outcomes simultaneously.
Let us say, for example, that all twelve of you were still present. In that case, I would see individual futures where each of you arrived at the final destination.
You'd be seeing right now.
Indeed. One where Numeral I reaches her final destination, and one where you do. One of those outcomes will separate itself from the primary flow upon your elimination.
Here we go again with the primary flow talk. Fortunately, I understand the implications thanks to her explanation last time. The world as it is right now is in a state of disorder. Only by removing one more potential future can it return to normal.
Thanks. You've helped me confirm that there are outcomes even you can't see.
Oh? I hesitate to ask, but do you even have a brain? Or are you being dense on purpose? Your or Numeral II's elimination. Those are the only two possibilities that exist here. Even should you choose not to settle things yourselves, that just ensures Numeral I's position as the final survivor.
She doesn't believe for a second that she's wrong. I shake my head at her before responding.
Forget all that, then. This is the final election. Let's get it over with.
Agreed. Revolve, O'Clock of Fate!
The Court of Fate rumbles, prompting the clock hand to move.
Will there be an election on your part, Numeral I?
She stares me down while posing her question. Her eyes are crystal clear. This is probably how Dianna looked when she was still alive. It suits her high-class image rather well. And it helps reaffirm that Parca really is nothing more than a girl. A girl who wished to live. A girl whose wish resonated with something in our world. A girl estranged from the concept of fate, yet inextricably bound by it.
How will you respond?
She urges me to answer once more. My answer is obvious. After a brief moment of reflection, I state my intentions.
There will be. Let's end it here.
Not just this round of Divine Selection. Not just Divine Selection as a whole. But the suffering you've had to endure by the hand of fate itself.
Goddess of Fate, Parca- Dianna Harrison. I elect you.
My eyes remain locked on hers as I announce my election.
What? You idiot. Elect me? Come now, that isn't an option. Besides, I am Parca, Goddess of Fate. Not this Dianna Harrison you refer to.
Her usual smile has been wiped right off her face for once.
Ah, so you were in on this shenanigan as well? This entire situation has blasphemy written all over it, my dears.
Parca being unfazed in the face of this leads to further panic on my part. We have all her cards. All that's left is to elect her. Lethe said that he took Dianna's memories from Parca. Is that why? Wait, no. He's never too clear about what he says, but he always makes sure to leave a hint in there. Much like he did while restoring my memories.
Credit where credit is due, of course. You had a clear and concise plan, and tried to carry it out without hesitation. Might I assume that you caught on to my true objective?
I give Parca a nod. Shaken as I am in the face of this, I can't show any fear now. Miharu's showing no signs of concern herself.
I'm very keen on taking your body as my own. You and I seem to share the same essence. The affinity I feel toward you is unlike what I've experienced from other participants. Your existence is one warped by fate, much like my own. In other words, you were born with the same power as I, albeit a tiny amount.
Most of all, however, is that brilliant heart of yours. One truly worthy of being the final survivor. What say you, Numeral II? Will you elect her?
Not even you could fish up a world where I say yes to that.
Hee-hee... That leaves us with no one capable of carrying out an election.
Parca's voice echoes throughout the Court of Fate. The grin on her face is one of pure evil.
As stated before, Numeral I will remain as the sole survivor by default.
Saying that, she stops the clock and makes her way to the center of the Court of Fate. Once there, she pinches her skirt and curtsies.
I hereby declare Divine Selection to be ov-
???: Oh? You naughty child, weren't you taught to follow proper protocol when elected?
A voice ever so similar to Parca's, yet inherently different, makes its presence known.
BGM: The Girl's Song (New track alert- also, this song also plays during the credits for the Bad Endings )
Good evening, my elegant and haughty self.
I assume it's obvious, but her VA is the same as Parca's.
In front of Parca appears none other than Dianna. I didn't even notice her arrival. Two girls with identical faces, although Dianna's expression is much more stern.
The tone of her voice says it all. She's shaken. This is the first time she's ever shown this side of herself.
Who are you...? Why are you in my Court of Fate?
A little birdy told me that this place was never really mine to begin with. In fact, the Court of Fate was given to me as a means to carry out the system known as Divine Selection.
You speak nonsense... Even if another goddess were to exist, this domain remains mine. No one may enter without my permission.
Oh, you're quite right. That's why I gave myself permission.
Parca stares at Dianna in disbelief. She probably can't begin to fathom what's going on right now due to her lack of memories. What's more, she has to be feeling a strange sense of familiarity with Dianna. Much more than the one she feels with me.
Am I to take it that we are one in the same?
Indeed. I am thou- thou art I. Born at different times, but equal nonetheless.
Equal? You would do your best to not forget your place, child. A kind and compassionate goddess, I am not. Take your leave, or else.
Parca reaches out toward Dianna, who simply shakes her head. There's no smile on her face. If anything, it looks like she feels pity for her.
Worry not. I carry every intention of doing so. However, I'm afraid you will be joining me. Neither of us have any right to exist in this world any longer.
Dianna extends her own hand. The palms of their hands make contact.
What are you-?
Let us return to being one. We must accept what is to come.
Their fate. A bright light envelops them both...
Good evening. I've come to face my true fate.
...Parca emerges from it. The change wasn't worth all the theatrics, really. In an instant, Parca's forgotten memories of Dianna flowed back into her. She's still very much Parca on the outside, but there's something different about her.
That's... not the Parca we know, is it?
Dianna said they'd return to being one, so she must have given Parca all her memories.
It's strange. I never realized just how painful memories could be until now.
I don't know what she's referring to. All I can say is that she looks upset over whatever she remembers. A moment of silence follows as she closes her eyes, almost as if to control her emotions. What she's thinking is anyone's guess. She takes a deep breath once done and then proceeds with her announcement.
Numeral I and myself... Allow me to begin the election procedure.
My platform begins to move in response, just like in previous elections.
Time for me to settle things.
Yes. I have something to say to Parca- or rather, Dianna- before you do, though.
We've been together ever since I can remember. We never became close, let alone friends, but I'm sure you were necessary to me. Things never would have ended up the way they did for me without you. I doubt we'll ever meet again, but allow me to say this nonetheless. Think of it as my own magic phrase.
See you next time.
Thank you. Farewell for now.
We've already begun moving by the time Miharu finishes saying her piece.
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
Kinda hard to believe that we've reached this stage, huh?
We arrive at the upper stratum of the Court of Fate. I'm the only one standing on a platform this time. Parca's standing on nothing at all, as always. She's even taking a big stretch.
It comes as quite the shock for me. Who knew I had so many memories! I always thought I was a mere system put in place to ensure my own survival. That wasn't quite the case, though. A system with no emotions would never attempt to take your body for its own. Perhaps I should have realized my human nature the moment such a desire sprouted within me.
I have a question. What'll happen to us after your elimination?
I see Leo skipped over that part of his explanation.
Both yourself and Numeral II will remain upon my elimination. That being said, the world will attempt to ensure that only you survive following that. Do not fret, though. You have the power to cause a single miracle. Fragments of what people have felt and experienced are gathered in the Court of Fate as a form of energy.
Had things proceeded as normal, I would have used the energy provided by the eleven eliminated participants to turn the sole survivor into a vessel for me. My elimination assures that won't come to fruition, of course. Thus leaving all that energy unused. Instead, I would like you to make use of it. Make it so that this world, one where Numeral II's death has been undone, becomes part of the primary flow.
Use that energy to alter fate. While it may be impossible to bring back a world that has split from the primary flow, that has yet to occur tonight. A power that allows me to exist within the real world should have no trouble merging two intersecting worlds into one primary flow.
Of course, we can't forget the role that perception plays in the world's existence. Myself and Leo, not to mention Naomi and Mao, are thinking of a future where both of you are still alive. You aren't alone in that regard. A simple push is all that's needed to alter fate. Though the idea of 'pushing' a concept may sound odd. Hehe.
So I just need to... wish for it?
Indeed. You will become the closest thing to a goddess in this realm upon my erasure. When all is said and done, this place remains a facet of your dreams. Your perception can easily change the world. So please, wish for the future that you desire most.
Now seems like a good time to continue with your election. Parting ways may become too difficult if we talk any longer.
I nod at her and open up my card book. This is probably the last time I'll see this book. All the cards I've acquired thus far float out from within it.
It's been a long road. So very, very long...
BGM: Fated Selection
Your name is Dianna Harrison.
Yes. I may have become Parca, but that name still feels the most appropriate for me. It is the name given to me by my father. One I treasure deeply.
Poison was your cause of death.
It pains me even to think back on those events. Linda must have been heartbroken over her inability to save me. I never once resented her for it. Even in those final moments, I wished for naught but her happiness.
Both their mother and Linda had no option but to abandon Dianna. Their own flesh and blood. I can't begin to imagine how much of a relief it would be for them to hear her say that.
Your regret... comes from a desire to re-do your life.
Dianna herself made this known to us. The desire is fueled by her thoughts toward those who had passed away. Dianna was a special girl. She told us about how she felt personally responsible for the deaths of those eleven people. Her desire to live was what caused them to face the fate originally intended for her. A time came when she was unable to escape it any longer, though. Still, she was able to live on through twisting that same inescapable fate.
I had one desire during my final moments. To re-do my life and accept what fate had in store for me at the time.
Lethe may have taken your memories, but that one desire remained within you. That's why you wanted to take my body and live your life.
Correct you are. While I wished for my own survival, I never wanted others to die. A selfish slave to fate- that is Dianna Harrison.
My cards make their way between myself and Parca, emitting light along the way.
Allow me to apologize for everything before I go.
There's no need for you, Dianna, to apologize.
You may not have realized it, but you've long since been forgiven.
Are you sure about that? I've made countless people suffer under the false pretense of hope given to them as Parca.
I can't speak for the others, but you're no different from me. You just wanted to live.
That's been my wish all along. A wish so simple. So obvious. No matter who you may be.
Leo was who asked you to save me, wasn't he? How bold of him. Regardless, I never anticipated hearing that from you right at the very end. Would that I could cry tears of joy.
Liar. You're not supposed to say that until you actually cry.
Goodness, there's that threatening side of you. Do try to keep it an appearances-only trait.
Light begins to engulf the Court of Fate. I'm sure this is the right thing to do. Saving someone is far beyond my capabilities. What I can do is come to know them and give them all I can.
Thank you for everything.
I'm the one who chose to part ways with you, but you're thanking me. You have no idea how much of a relief that is.
BGM: Fall Into...
I find myself in a sea of flames once more. A scene I've witnessed countless times by now. Ironically enough, this is where it all started for me.
They're no longer around to hear me mutter their names. I can only assume they've returned to their original fate and faced their death from long ago. They were never inhabitants of the real world, so nothing should've been altered following their elimination. Part of me considered the possibility of Parca's actions all being undone, but I don't see that being the case. Seems like I was right.
Divine Selection itself would have been undone if things played out like that. But I'm still here in the Court of Fate, which proves my point. That's good. My relationship with Miharu, Naomi, and Mao would have changed in that case.
I should go.
My platform begins to descend in accordance with my thoughts. I still have one last thing to do.
Everything was supposed to go well after this. I'd return to the lower stratum after seeing Parca off and then use the energy there to alter fate. Just as she told me to. That's how it was supposed to go.
What... the hell...?
Fate doesn't have the capacity to be kind, though. Black flames besiege the lower stratum upon my return.