Part 24: Contact
BGM: Rinka's Room
Let us continue where we left off.
She places both of her hands on the glass and takes a sip. You can tell she was raised to be a proper lady based on how she handles things like that. I thought the same back at the family restaurant. I nod as a means to urge her to continue. She almost seems like a different person compared to how she was messing around with Lethe.
I meant what I said. You believed me, yes? That's why you brought me here. I will tell you all about me. But first, I would like to know, please. Why did you believe me?
Let's see... There's not much for you to gain by saying that after revealing your name to me. That, plus it didn't seem like you were fishing for info on me.
It's not like I trusted her out of instinct. And certainly not because she's a kid. That's why I took a detour on our way back here. There could've been someone following us on the off chance that she's cooperating with other participants, so I wanted to make sure of that first.
Sorry to say this, but I don't flat-out trust you. Logic only dictates that you weren't lying.
I only trust in myself.
Despite your appearance, you are a kind person.
...You could have left that first part out.
Just as we are about to get into the thick of it, Lethe meows and lies down underneath the table. I assume it feels satisfied after having its milk.
Sonya watches it curl up with a smile on her face.
We had a cat at my house, too. I was always too ill to leave, so it was one of my few friends. The others were books, the Internet... and Passazhir. Yes, you see, my cause of death was illness. I can go into further detail if you wish.
That's all right. I'd rather hear more about you. Keep going.
While not enough to create a new card, I still opt to listen to her life's story instead. The fact that she's telling me this means she's fine with revealing her cause of death. She really is convinced that she'll be the next person eliminated. But why?
Much like you, Divine Selection has given me another brief chance to live my life. I told Papa and Mama about it, and they became convinced when they realized that I was feeling much better than usual. However, my condition will likely be the way it was before, even if I do survive these twelve weeks. I won't make it much longer either way.
So you don't think surviving would also cure you of your condition?
Yes, that is what I believe. That's why I don't mind losing. So long as I can experience as much of the outside world during this time that I can, I'm happy. From what I learned about the world at home, Japan caught my interest the most. That's why I wanted to experience its culture... Not the ninja and samurai, but Japan as it is now.
I was rather excited when I obtained my card book. Japan's anime holds a special place in my heart, and in one magical girl anime, the girl transformed and fought using a book and cards similar to these. Not being able to experience the outside world is my regret. That's why I want to do so now.
Her words trigger my own book lighting up, creating a new card. Sonya smiles when she sees that happen. But unlike her smile in the family restaurant, there is an echo of sadness within it. Her child-like innocence clashes heavily with her mature realization that she's just come a step closer to being eliminated.
After observing the situation for a while, we finally decided to take a family trip to Japan together. Papa and Mama may forget about our trip once I'm eliminated, but at the very least, I wanted to make the most of my remaining time.
You're alone right now, so I assume something happened with them?
Yes, that's right. While we were observing the situation, those with my name card were also watching us.
They had set a trap for us the moment we landed by means of our taxi.
Yes. They posed as taxi drivers and threatened to kill Papa and Mama if I didn't tell them all my information.
The worst possible situation springs to mind when I hear that. It sounds like something Alan Scorpion would do.
Was Numeral XII involved, by chance?
Her denial only serves to worry me more. All it means is that there are others willing to resort to the same methods as him.
It was Numeral II and Numeral XI. Those two are working together.
Oh, those two!
Have you met them before?
I shake my head in response. Numeral III Federico Carminati. I ended up with his name card during the initial distribution. Having seen him in the dream world multiple times, I know he's tall and slender. As for Numeral XI, she's the one responsible for eliminating Numeral VII. Much like Alan, her eyes are as frigid as they come. Those two working together definitely comes as a surprise. I figured I would have the advantage against Numeral III because I have his name card, but if he's with her, that's no longer the case. Realizing that I've interrupted her, I apologize and wait for her to pick up where she left off.
I told them everything to save Papa and Mama, but the man said it wasn't enough. He wanted to know about the other cards I held, too. I happened to have one of Numeral XI's cards. Her regret card.
So I looked her in the eye and said that I could tell him, but it would lead to bad results for them. I expected her to get angry, but she just laughed.
Damn! She's got more guts than that old geezer, despite her age. That's what I'm talking about. I can't believe Sonya threatened me, y'know? Geez, if she wants to see the world, maybe I'll let her after showing that kind of bravado. Say what you will, but I like this kid.
Numeral XI was apparently full of cheer as she praised Sonya for her rebellious act. She had a condition, though. Sonya wasn't allowed to be with her parents until her last day, as a means to prevent them from trying anything. So long as she did that, they were willing to both spare her parents and let her do as she pleased.
Oh, come on! She just wanted to prevent you from using her face and regret as a means to get more information on her!
BGM: Rinka's Room
...Oops. Sorry for shouting out of nowhere.
While your voice may sound scary, I know that your words are kind. Not many would get angry for the sake of someone they need to eliminate. Well, as long as Papa and Mama are safe, I'm okay. Besides, like I said, I wouldn't live for long regardless.
Have you acknowledged your own death, then?
What do you mean, acknowledged...?
Well... Do you feel that it's going to happen, no matter what?
Yes. I have, even before Divine Selection began. I knew I would die as soon as I found out about my condition.
That might explain the sadness in her smile earlier. I'm not sure whether the doctors or her parents told her, but she's likely been informed of how long she has to live multiple times. But just by looking at her, I can tell that she's been raised with love. However, her inevitable death has probably been looming over her head ever since she found out. Just because she knows and has accepted her death doesn't mean she isn't scared to face it, of course.
...It must've been tough for you.
I pat her head. I should have learned with Keiko that getting attached to other participants is dangerous, and yet I can't stop myself. Sonya likely gave up on her life and chose to act like she's fine for the sake of her parents and those around her. I refuse to believe that she's truly accepted it, though. Her expression right now proves it to me.
I knew what was in store for me for a long time, so I told myself that things weren't tough... But now... I'm not so sure...
I don't have the means to provide her with true salvation. I do feel for her, though. No one should have to go through what she has at such a young age, but I can't give my own life in exchange. I can't forget that I just met her today, too. We're not even friends. And yet, for some reason, I'm wracking my brain for her sake. This entire time, she's been wearing a peculiar expression on her face. She likely doesn't truly understand her feelings yet. Not that I can blame her; I'm in the same boat.
Lethe has disappeared at some point during our chat. The light reflects off its empty milk bowl, casting a strong shadow. I spend the rest of the time just patting Sonya's head.
Cardbook has updated.
I Name Shishimai Rinka
III Name Federico Carminati
IV Cause of Death Fire
VIII Name Kamebuchi Keiko
VIII Cause of Death Brain Hemorrhage
VIII Regret Child's Name
IX Regret Gold Medal
X Name Sofiya Priessnitz Alexeievna
X Regret Seeing the World
XII Name Alan Scorpion
X Name Sofiya Priessnitz Alexeievna
X Regret Seeing the World