Part 66: That Moment
...But obviously, we aren't going to accept that Bad Ending. We're going back to the route where Rinka told Odette off and refused to give her information up, and returning to Divine Selection once again. The beginning of Week Seven's Divine Selection is the same, up until Parca actually starts the ritual...
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
The clock hand at the center of the Court of Fate begins to revolve. Nothing she does is any different from normal, but tonight sounds completely different to me. The reason why is simple. Tonight will be the first night I elect someone.
BGM: Fated Selection
I'm conflicted over what to do, even now. Electing someone is the same as stripping away their right to live. It's no different from killing them. Yu's pained voice comes to mind. His heartfelt cry to the world. His battle with the contradiction born within him. I cast a glance over to him once again. He just looks like an average boy right now. Hardly someone capable of terrorism. The wild look he showed before is gone now. In fact, he seems to be at peace. Is he ready to be elected? Does he feel relieved that he'll finally be freed from his suffering? I can't tell from where I stand.
He doesn't bother to say anything to me.
Well, Numeral I?
She inquires as if she knows exactly what is going through my mind. As if she knows I'm about to elect Yu. It makes sense if she's observing the events that happen in the real world. How she does that, I'm not sure. Not that it matters right now...
I can't finish my sentence. I thought I was ready to accept the responsibility of throwing another person's life away for my own. I just can't say it.
Are you really...?
It's a simple question, my dear! Will you elect someone or not?
Why did I go through everything to obtain Yu's regret card? I feel like I'll forget at this rate. But... Even so...!
Shall I presume that your answer is a no?
Naomi's face comes to mind. Yu's actions will be undone with his elimination. That means what happened at Amecha will also be undone. If that can happen, then Naomi will...
Pull yourself together, Rinka. I mutter my own name under my breath. That's not a good reason. We can't shoulder anything together if I let such thoughts spur my actions. I'd just be using her as an excuse for my own weakness. I remind myself to make my decision based solely on my own judgment. If I'm going to eliminate him, it's because I choose to. My own regret comes to mind. I swore that I would live my life out.
I'm... going to elect someone.
...Hehe. Well then.
I straighten my back to regain my posture. My eyes fall directly on Yu following that. He still has the same gentle expression from before. It's the same expression from back when he first ate the dinner I made for him. Even so...
I elect... Numeral IV.
I have to utter those words, no matter what.
Parca proceeds to question the other participants. I almost break out in a sweat when Odette's turn comes and goes without incident. That would have been the moment I got elected if I had given in to her demands on Friday. In the end, the clock doesn't stop at anyone else. I'm the only one electing someone tonight.
With that decided, Numeral I and Numeral IV... Allow me to begin the election procedure.
My platform begins to move in tandem with her statement. Yu's platform does the same. Both of us ascend to the upper stratum of the Court of Fate.
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
It's an odd sensation, to say the least. The way my platform ascends almost feels like I'm on an elevator. There aren't any walls around to support it, but it somehow feels like I can't actually fall off it. That's how smooth and steady the ascent feels. I'm surrounded by unfamiliar scenery once the platform stops. Almost like I'm perched high above the clouds. There's nothing but darkness below. I can't see Miharu or any other participants from here. Yu, on the other hand, stands directly across from me.
You finally decided to kill me.
You're finally gonna set me free from my pain!
Not quite. Only you can save yourself.
Apologies for the wait. Let us commence the election process, shall we?
Wait a minute! What's that supposed to mean, Rinka? I thought you were going to kill me to help me...!
Parca urges us on, so I open up my card book. All my cards fly out the moment I do. It seems I need to pick the relevant ones in order.
BGM: Fated Selection
Your name is Yu, a name given to you by Shigetsugu, so I'm aware of how important it is to you. It's a lovely name. Fire was the cause of your death. A cause oddly intertwined with my own. If I'm being honest, I hated you for it, but now I just feel sad about it.
I pick his name and cause of death in succession.
How about you forgive yourself already?
I can't forgive you after you took Naomi's life. That being said, neither will anyone else if you keep denying yourself. You're no puppet, much less a hero. What you are is as human as they come.
That's the best I can do for him. When it all began... The words I left him with before dying stuck with him this whole time. As such, he had no choice but to deny both himself and his past.
I lost my parents not long after I was born, so one could argue that I should've tried harder to understand you and your position. But the lives we lead were far too different. I grew up providing for those around me, whereas you grew up taking from those around you.
And after all that, you met Shigetsugu. You learned the joy of providing for another, and the possibilities it could open up for you. The possibility of leading a normal life. Not by your standards, but by those of people like Shigetsugu and myself. That's what became your regret.
I take all three of his cards in hand.
That's why it was so hard for you, wasn't it? You were simply handed that new life, so you never knew how to attain it on your own. That led to you denying the very concept of it.
Yu... I won't forget you.
I finally understand why we'll never understand one another. It's because we both started out the same. It's almost too cruel how things turned out. I'll be able to die a human, at least. That's... normal, isn't it?
All three of my cards begin to move on their own. Once they reach the middle of the Court of Fate, they come together and form a triangular shape. What follows is a sudden burst of light that swallows my surroundings.
I'm glad I settled on you as the person to kill me.
Oddly enough, our regrets are the same, to an extent. Both involve the concept of living regular lives. The values we held surrounding them are completely different, though. For me, it's all about what I already knew. For him, it was what he had come to know.
I can resent you all I want in death.
You and me both.
The light from my cards envelops us both. It's bright enough that I involuntarily squeeze my eyes shut, only to notice my consciousness leaving my body.
I hear a voice during this.
I don't wanna die! I don't wanna! I could've lived a normal life! I don't... I don't wanna die... No... Please, no...
Rinka, Shigetsugu... Mama... I don't wanna die... I still had so much of my life left... Waahhh!
His voice becomes more and more distant. All I can do is listen. I listen to him reveal his true feelings then and there, during his final moments.
Rinka witnesses Yu's final moments, same as before- there's no change to this part. Once Rinka's vision returns, however...
Those were Yu's final moments, weren't they...?
Yu has already disappeared by this point. His final words to me were full of resentment. That's fine by me, though. I had everything he lacked. Everything he ever wanted. And yet, I still find myself clenching my fists. If an afterlife really does exist, then at the very least... I can pray that it's a place where our growths during Divine Selection aren't forgotten. That might be even more painful for him... Knowing what we consider to be a regular life might cause him to panic and question himself. So long as he has the freedom to figure things out, he should be fine.
Funny that I'd think of such things when I don't believe in God or Heaven...
Oh? How impressive for you to say that in the presence of a goddess.
Oh my, how scary. Allow me to show you the cards in Numeral IV's possession. Please consider which you'd like to obtain as you descend.
My platform begins to move, not even giving me enough time to get sentimental over Yu's elimination. I can bring Naomi back now. Not even that thought prevents me from feeling miserable.
I have all of these already...
Parca told me to choose whichever card I wanted, but Yu doesn't have any I can take- just those I already have or ones that belonged to those who have already been eliminated. The ones I already have are Numeral II and Numeral IX's names. Miharu's and Scale Johnson's cards. That makes it obvious how little interest Yu had in Divine Selection.
Thus, my very first election comes to an end. It doesn't feel very special. If anything, it's only served to put a greater burden on my shoulders.
Tonight's session resulted in one elimination. I bid you all farewell for now.
I look over to the empty platform on which Yu once stood. I don't just look at his platform, though. Numeral V, Shigetsugu's platform. Numeral VIII, Keiko's platform. Numeral X, Sonya's platform. Even the platforms for Numerals VI and VII, which belonged to people I never got to know.
I find myself brooding over each and every one of them.
[END OF WEEK SEVEN (PART B): A CHALLENGE AGAINST ALL INJUSTICE]