Part 64: Conclusions
content warning: violence, depiction of bodily harm
BGM: Theme of Destiny
06/17 (SUN), Morning
There are a number of terms used to describe the 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 for the sake of proceeding along 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. There was a time when I truly believed all that. But now I know. You don't just let fate run its course. You shoulder it yourself. That's why I'm going to settle the score. I'll change fate itself.
I make my way to the station closest to Tokyo Tower and then take the train to Shinjuku. Once there, I rush to where this all began. The place that led to me losing my life. I've been here a number of times since Divine Selection began. This is the time that truly matters, though.
There he is...!
The train is already sitting at the platform. The signal for its imminent departure rings out just as I spot him.
He's in disguise today as well, from what I can tell. I can barely make out his outline from here, but I know it's him. The hair, those rabid eyes, and the keychain on his bag. Those all stood out. He seems to have noticed me. His cold gaze sends a shiver down my spine. It's possible he's been waiting here for my arrival. In fact, that's definitely the case.
He turns and boards the train. I jump into the car closest to me so I don't miss it.
Although the train isn't packed due to it being a Sunday, there's still a decent number of passengers. Enough for all the seats to be taken and leave a good amount of people standing.
I need to hurry...
Things kicked off not long after leaving Shinjuku on that fateful day. That's why I run toward the car that Yu boarded, paying no mind to the people I bump into along the way. I'm moving toward the front cars- the same direction that the train is moving in.
The situation has already escalated by the time I reach my destination, however. Yu opens his bag the exact moment I arrive.
I scream at the other passengers on instinct. I can't say for sure how many hear me. The lack of any significant reaction tells me it has to have been very few. That's not my problem, though. There's only one thing for me to do here.
You took your time.
Yu has tossed his disguise. His face is recognizeable by the entire country after yesterday's stream. Those who see him immediately understand their situation. In that sense, his presence alone proves to be far more effective than my warning.
What are you planning?
I told you. I'm settling the score with fate.
You won't be able to kill anyone now. Even if you let that bomb go off.
I'm lucky that he didn't opt to do anything wild right away. Nothing was stopping him from letting the bomb go off right then and there.
That's fine. All that matters is that you're here now.
I'm aware of what you want.
I stand tall as I confront him. The passengers in our car gradually make their way to another one. Someone tries to grab my arm to help me escape as well, but I brush them off. Yu might detonate the bomb if he thinks I'm trying to escape. I have no intention of doing so. If he wants to settle the score, then I'm all for it.
You want to become a hero. Not as a puppet, but as your own person.
So I wasn't hearing things after all. We didn't even have our card books back then, and yet we understood each other. Odd, considering I could barely comprehend Japanese back then.
Doesn't matter. Surely you're not satisfied with just me being here.
It's your fault everything ended up like this! You should've killed me before!
That's why I'm here now. You're not the only one trying to settle things.
My memories were gradually coming back to me as I spent time with Shigetsugu. I slowly came to remember everything about myself. My past, my desperation, and most importantly... my true nature. That's why I begged you to eliminate me.
I don't have a normal life to go back to after this! I'm not like you!
You had a normal life with Shigetsugu, though! You two were like family!
And I've ended up worse off for it! If I had to lose anything, it should've been my conscience! I wouldn't have had to worry about anything then. I would've been nothing more than a mindless machine built to kill! Having my eyes opened to what a normal life looks like made revisiting my past that much more painful! I don't want that feeling!
All you had to do was find your own way to live!
I can't! Shigetsugu never taught me how!
He never felt the need to. He honestly believed that you would manage. He wanted you to decide how you would leave your life on your own. That's what the money he left behind was for.
He's asking too much of me!
No, he's not. It was your choice to become a puppet in the first place, wasn't it?!
I'm not a puppet!
Then prove it!
That's why I'm doing this! I'll become a hero after you kill me!
Tell me! What is a hero to you?! To me, it sounds like nothing more than some tall tale of your own design.
A hero is someone who gives their life to accomplish something. Someone who, in death, becomes timeless. Everything I've done after Shigetsugu was eliminated was by my own will. Going back to my old work. Making a stand against the world.
Taking what's important to you was all part of it. I want you to kill me, so I killed someone close to you first. I did this of my own volition. I've proven that I'm not just some puppet...!
I feel myself about to scream when he brings up Naomi. I can't let it out, though. I must hold it in. I'm pretty sure he means everything he's said. That's why all I feel for him now is pity. I know that I shouldn't... I mean, it makes no sense to feel sorry for the person who killed Naomi. I had convinced myself that the story he told at Tokyo Tower meant nothing to me. But... But still...!
Who is a great hero to you, then?
I have to ask him.
A great hero... to me? Mama, of course! Who else could it be?!
What was it she provided for you, then? I'm sure it was the same thing as Shigetsugu.
Huh...? What did Mama... give me...?
Shigetsugu wanted you to become a person who could provide something for another. A desire she likely shared. And that something wasn't fear or despair, much less anger or sadness. No one would wish for that. You understand that, don't you?!
You knew Shigetsugu considered you both kind and brave! That's why you accepted the name he gave you! You wanted to become the person he saw! That's why you're still using that name, even now!
Only your name card didn't disappear. That's more than enough proof that, deep down, you don't want to become this kind of hero! Quit running and face yourself already!
Shut up! Just shut up!
He cuts me off with a rabid scream. There is more to it than just his words, though. His animosity toward me is palpable. He's become nothing more than a desperate child.
He rips his bag open while screaming.
Inside is the exact same bomb he used on the day we died.
Don't do it!
He's not doing this to kill others. He's trying to hurt himself. This is his solution to escape the contradiction within himself. I dash toward him in response. I do it instinctively. My reasoning behind my action doesn't matter right now.
Don't be so rash...!
I can make it before he triggers the bomb...!
Just as I think that, the train lurches violently. The speakers announce that they have engaged the emergency brakes. Someone must've pressed the emergency stop button after fleeing this train car. As a result, I throw all my weight back in order to keep myself from face-planting as I run at Yu. The recoil on top of this shift throws me back against the door connecting this car and the next.
I turn my gaze back to Yu after making sense of what just happened, only to find that I am too late.
A thunderous roar resounds, accompanied by a blinding light. This is a scene embedded deep within my psyche.
I close my eyes as the explosion goes off. Fortunately, I get away with just a cut on my leg due to both the distance and the fact that Yu was smothering the bomb when he set it off. Then again, it might be due to Divine Selection working to protect me as a participant. The flames from the explosion envelop the car, just like they did before. The heatwave causes my vision to blur. I can feel the discomfort on my skin from the intense heat, too.
It's the same scene I witnessed before. The scene undone by Divine Selection.
What happened to Yu...?
BGM: Sinking in Flames
Heh, heh... I knew it... I can't die...
I turn my eyes from Yu the moment he enters my line of sight. The explosion has roasted him alive. Fragments of the bomb are lodged in his body, exposing raw muscle. He is bleeding profusely. I only look upon him for a second, but I will never forget that sight. The smell of burnt flesh wafts throughout the car with the smoke. I look back toward him, slowly.
Come here, Yu! I can help you before it's too late!
What do you have to gain by helping me?
The heat I feel is nothing compared to what it must be like around Yu, who is at the locus of the explosion. I try to make my way over to him, but my body refuses to move. Yu's card book, which remains completely unscathed, lays at his feet. I would've expected it to catch fire, but there it is, perfectly fine. The tattered and scorched remnants of Yu's bag lay beside it. The keychain has been damaged a bit, but it's more or less survived the blast. Yu picks it up, ever so slowly.
I bought the bag along with this keychain the very first day I got to Japan. I didn't think much of it at the time. But when you took it from me at Tokyo Tower, I felt I had to get it back. It had become important to me at some point. At some point... during the time I spent with Shigetsugu...
Tell me later! Just get over here, now!
I don't know why I'm worried about him. All I need to do is learn his regret. But I can't settle down seeing him like that.
Shigetsugu never locked the door when someone was home, but he would whenever we were out. You lock the door when you leave and unlock it when you come home. That's common sense to you. I... wanted that to be the case for me, as well.
I only realized it once Shigetsugu was gone, though. Once that desire of mine became unattainable. If possible, I wanted to live a normal life... like all of you.
My card book begins to shine. Not that I'm in any position to check it right now. I drag myself as close to him as I can before extending my hand. The unseen wall of heat around him pushes against me. The sweat built up on my arm evaporates before it has the chance to drip off me.
That doesn't matter right now!
Now you can... finally kill me...
A gust of smoke surrounds him all of a sudden. Probably because a swell of air just got sucked into the car when a window broke. The flames grow more intense. I can't even keep my eyes open. The amount of smoke causes me to crouch without thinking. I must be trying to keep myself from breathing it in. My right hand remains extended toward Yu, though. It's the one part of my body I can still control willingly.
I feel something solid touch it.
Thank you, Rinka...
I'm not sure if he speaks after touching my hand, or if I imagine it. Regardless, I feel my consciousness fade from the suffocating heat.
I give into it and pass out.
Cardbook has updated.
I Name Shishimai Rinka
I Cause of Death Death by Asphyxiation
I Regret Daily Routine
II Name Hebinata Miharu
III Name Federico Carminati
IV Name Yu
IV Cause of Death Fire
IV Regret Daily Routine
V Name Ushizuka Shigetsugu
V Cause of Death Death from Starvation
V Regret Back when I was Close with Family
VIII Name Kamebuchi Keiko
VIII Cause of Death Brain Hemorrhage
VIII Regret Child's Name
IX Name Scale Jones
IX Regret Gold Medal
X Name Sofiya Priessnitz Alexeievna
X Regret Seeing the World
XI Name Odette Malencon
XII Name Alan Scorpion
II Name Hebinata Miharu
IV Name Yu
IV Cause of Death Fire
IV Regret Daily Routine
V Name Ushizuka Shigetsugu