Part 93: A Life of Struggle
07/03 (TUE), Early Morning
Heh. Can't believe I feel this good, despite how much I drank. Can't believe Miharu went home after her drink, too. The next guy that falls for her is gonna have a rough time, no doubt about it.
Federico chats aloud on a near-empty train. His destination- the airport. He finds himself thinking back on his life during the ride.
Born in southern Italy, his life was an amalgamation of failures. As a child, he was often bullied. He was as thin back then as he was now, only shorter. It left him with no real means to defend himself. His attempts at retaliation resulted only in further beat downs, both physical and verbal. He became a child who knew the taste of defeat well. At the same time, his parents had settled on a divorce after dealing with a lot of friction. Federico wanted to stay with his mother. There was no deep reasoning behind it. He simply liked being around her more at the time. But even those feelings were linked to failure.
The divorce was due to an affair on the mother's side. Naturally, Federico had no involvement in it, but he considered his choice a failure regardless. His mother opted to move in with the man she was seeing and eventually married him. The wedding ring wasn't something she left to Federico. He snatched it when it tumbled out of the garbage. Even so, he couldn't bring himself to part with it, as it represented his desire to see her once more. Twenty years later, he finally realized that it served to symbolize his inability to win his mother's love.
Funny how little I care now that it's gone. Who knows, maybe she felt the same way when she tossed it, too. I get how she wasn't able to devote herself to one person now, too.
The first time he started dating someone was just after entering high school. She was a frank girl, one to always drag him around at her whim. While things appeared steady between them, it was all for nothing when she had to move away. Putting aside what he thought of those events, his high school life was nothing but failure even when he was no longer the target of bullying. He was surrounded by people far more skilled than him in the soccer club. No matter how hard he tried to surpass them, he never could manage it. Even when he put his all into studying, he was never once able to get the best grades in class. Compounding these with the failures of his childhood led Federico to become a child who would always hold himself back. Not that he was aware of it. Much like how he was never aware of the misfortune it continued to cause him later in life.
His fear of failure led to his decision to not apply to any universities. A reality that he continually denied. Instead, he started up his own business. This choice was spurred on by his father's death, which left him with a fairly large inheritance. The business itself wasn't complicated. Anyone with a good amount of money on their hands could do it. He loaned money to those who were struggling, attached a hefty interest rate, and then collected what he was owed at a later date. Of course, he made sure to choose his business partners well- people who couldn't inform the police of his activities due to their having multiple debts or criminal records. In other words, those who had experienced failure on an even greater level than him. There were a number of ways to deal with those who wouldn't pay up. He could force them to visit other loan sharks, lay claim to whatever valuables they had, or simply beat the money out of them. In terms of profit, he was doing somewhat well for himself. Until he ran into an issue that money couldn't solve, that was.
He had been conducting business in the mafia's territory. Naturally, they weren't pleased. Those who crossed the mafia were likely to be whacked with the snap of a finger.
Heh. That freak of nature was way more intimidating than they ever were. Physically, at least.
In the end, Federico's first ever business venture resulted in failure. There was only one way for him to escape his situation. He presented the profits he made to one of the mafia's higher-ups and became a member himself. He never held any significant position there, but his abilities allowed him to bring a fair amount of money into the organization. He even began targeting land owners, convincing them to give up their land in exchange for social status. There was one issue, however. A majority of the money he made was funneled straight to the higher-ups, which ticked him off. That led to him laundering the organization's money by transferring it to a bank in Switzerland.
He set his eyes on a certain shipping company, too. One he had dealt with before. Of course, it was no ordinary shipping company. They dealt in weapons, stolen goods, and much more. The boat itself was stateless, but its representative was a woman from France. They were effectively a group of independent mercenaries.
Kind of amazing that they let me on in the first place, now that I think about it.
Having discussed things with the captain of the ship, that being Odette Malencon, he settled on fleeing the country. The mafia itself was essentially a family-run business. Federico would never make it to the top in that environment, regardless of how hard he tried. Even so, all members had to make a blood oath upon joining. Were they to quit, all that awaited them was prison. Of course, one could not simply quit the mafia and expect to live. And thus, fearing failure once more, he chose to flee.
Only for the ship to be targeted by pirates, leading to both his and Odette's death.
Ain't nothing cool about being a loser even after dying.
By reflecting on his past, Federico is able to lull himself to sleep until he arrives at his next stop. His mind is only on one thing. To gather as much information about Alan as possible before returning to Japan on Sunday morning. But he has yet to notice... Though his life may have been steeped in failure, he's never given in. He's always struggled against that which most people simply accepted.
Federico Carminati is no loser in the game of life.
BGM: Lion House Cafe
07/03 (TUE), Night
I make sure to open the store today after school. I've been feeling better now that my gran's room is all neat and tidy. Once closing time comes around, I go about my usual routine before bringing the diary downstairs to read it. As always, I make sure to handle it with the utmost of care. And then I delve even deeper into the daily lives of Linda and Dianna.
Alan finds himself staying at a hotel today. It isn't unusual for him to switch to one over the warehouse in Yokohama every now and then. The warehouse is perfectly fine for him. It does lack the facilities required to recharge his phone and laptop, however. Not that he can deny the pleasure that comes from sleeping on a comfortable bed.
I couldn't bring myself to go today...
While he had made the decision to visit Rinka yesterday, the store she was running was closed. Today, on the other hand, he simply couldn't bring himself to go. If proof was needed for the butterfly effect of missing one's opportune moment, this would be it. It would have no influence on Alan under normal circumstances, yet he finds himself unable to operate as usual when it comes to Rinka.
My next chance may be my last.
He collapses onto his bed and casts his mind back to the first participant he eliminated.
Hey, so we finally meet!
The VA for our forgotten participant, Numeral VI, is listed as Miyuma Imaizumi; however, this seems to be the only role she's ever been credited for, at least under this name.
May 3rd, Sunday. Three days following the juncture of causality. Alan had been called out to by a lone woman. Alan had received the explanation about Divine Selection from Parca by this point, but he chose not to go to Japan until after the first round. The woman standing before him was Chan Chan. She was the one that caused him to forego his decision and instead come earlier.
It wasn't unusual for people he didn't know to request appointments with him, considering his position. These requests were typically ignored. However, he had no choice but to take notice when she brought up Divine Selection over the phone. While still somewhat suspicious, it was here he learned that a small number of people found themselves in the same situation as him.
I'm so glad you came, Mr. Alan.
She stood a few meters away from him, her tone as confident as they came. In Alan's eyes, she seemed like nothing more than an average woman in her early twenties. Her apparel was simple, about what one would expect of someone on vacation.
How do you know me? Rather, how do you know that I'm a participant in Divine Selection?
Come on. You know that you're famous, don't you? To answer your second question... Sure, I'll fill you in! Just so happens that your name card was part of the initial cards I was dealt. Not many people with a strange name like yours, that's for sure!
I've actually known you for a while, though. Do you remember a man named William Liu?
It doesn't ring a bell.
Figured as much! William... Bill, rather, is part of an advertising company that works with yours. He said he's met you in person, but I guess Mr. Boss doesn't have time to remember the lowly faces of all his subcontractors.
The more the woman spoke, the less Alan cared to be bothered. He was never very good with these types. The ones who gradually drifted off-topic the longer they spoke. Were she a regular businesswoman, he would have been long gone.
But yeah, so, I'm Bill's fiancée!
Care to get to the point, Ms. Chan?
H-Huh...? How do you know my name? I don't remember telling you...
I recommend withholding your number if you plan to use an alias when phoning a company.
After he said that, Alan took out a single card. Chan was quite familiar with the card's design.
VI Name Chan Chan
She wasn't aware of the significance behind the numeral yet, but it was clear that her own name was written on it.
I'm afraid I've already bore witness to the moment a new card is produced.
H-Hey, now! Isn't that cheating?! What happened to protecting people's personal information?!
Alan remained silent in the face of her panic. He was aware that nothing would come from interacting with her as if things were normal.
I-It's just my name, though. Hard not to discover something so common. More importantly...
Chan Chan. You fell to your death. Correct?
No... No way! How'd you know?!
It was simple, really.
VI Cause of Death Death from Falling
He was unable to determine who the card belonged to at the time, as he had yet to meet anyone else in the Court of Fate. However, he soon realized that each participant had an identifying numeral after he came to possess Chan's name card. He had anticipated this by nature of his personal cards containing the numeral XII, but with this, he was able to confirm it. Once he knew that Chan was Numeral VI, he was able to link her cause of death and name.
Uh-oh! Don't tell me I just said something I shouldn't have...
Her carelessness was a source of irritation for Alan.
One shouldn't make light of their name. Of course, that's advice you'll have to consider in the next life.
Alan was already an atheist, but the teachings of his parents seemed to carry a lingering influence on him.
H-Huh?! I dunno why you're acting like you know my regret, but-
You were mountain climbing with William while on vacation. It was nothing too difficult. More of a hike than climbing, really. However, curiosity got the better of you. It led to you veering off the designated route toward the cliff's edge in the hopes of a better view.
Huh? What? How could you know?! Were you stalking me?! Ugh, that's gross! I can't stand gloomy people like you, even if you have a handsome face! Besides, Bill's the only man for me!
As for how you fell to your death, I think it's fair to assume you slipped. Truly the definition of foolish for such a thing to happen after entering an off-limits area.
Shut it! Since you love talking so much, tell me how you know so much about me!
I can't tell if you're clueless or if the panic is causing you to forget.
Alan made sure to gather as much information on Chan as he could the moment he learned her name. He wasn't entirely convinced that Divine Selection was real, but the creation of the cards and the existence of a card book that removed all language barriers convinced him not to deny it outright. Information provided one with the upper hand when negotiating. That was the conclusion Alan had reached. It was why he did everything he could to gather information on not only her, but her fiancé William as well, though he wouldn't admit to such a thing.
Half of what he told her was information she herself had made public via rampant social media posts and updates. While the results of her fall had clearly been undone, it wasn't difficult for him to put the pieces together based on the information he had at hand.
Well, whatever. Let's put an end to this farce.
Chan wiped the sweat from her brow before whipping out a knife. It was a butcher's knife, around twenty centimeters in length- her intent with it clear as day.
I've got my life together with Bill waiting for me... I can't afford to die again!
She raises the knife before dashing toward Alan. A mere five meters separated them. She would reach him at her speed in an instant. Chan was confident in her speed thanks to her having played tennis since childhood. What's more, Alan was the stereotypical rich boy. He had no means to defend himself- or so she thought.
Were you not informed that participants cannot die via normal means?
Alan dodged her with ease before twisting her wrist and stealing the knife from her grasp. He kept hold of her wrist, however, and brought the knife to rest against her neck.
H-Huh...? How'd this happen...? L-Let's take a time out, okay?
You must not believe what the goddess said, I take it. Not that I would believe it before I've seen proof.
H-Hang on a sec... This isn't looking good for me, is it? I mean, I'll die if you slice me up with that... but you'll become a murderer, y'know.
Alan could hardly believe the words coming out of this woman's mouth after her own attempt to stab him. He knew that there would be no point in calling her out for it, however.
Would you like to be my test subject?
Don't... Please... Help! Someone help!
Disastrous hardly began to describe what happened next. Just as Chan screamed, William leapt out of hiding. He attempted to jump Alan, but Alan used Chan as a human shield. William could make no move in that situation, so Alan threw the knife away and pushed Chan toward him. They both fell over as she slammed into him, causing Alan to look down on them both.
Tonight is your final night with her, Mr. William. Spend it well.
Saying that, he took out a third card.
VI Regret Married life
No... My... My regret...
You are without a doubt the most foolish participant among the twelve.
Alan had lost all interest in Chan by that point. He picked up the knife and tossed it back to them. The last thing he wanted was to raise suspicion by carrying it around when he'd only just arrived in Japan. Neither Chan nor William saw this as an opportunity, either. Their instinctual fear of him had taken over. Not even a gun would make them feel as though they stood on equal footing with him.
Alan had no interest in what they did following that event.
This place may come in handy...
Not only was it abandoned, but no one else seemed to be squatting there, either. It's neither too close nor too far from the city. Should everything check out over the next few days, he would use it as his base of operations.
Part of me can understand her desperation now, at least...
Alan lets his thoughts slip out as he stares at the hotel room ceiling.
Cardbook has updated.
I Name Shishimai Rinka
II Name Hebinata Miharu
II Cause of Death Suicide
III Name Federico Carminati
III Cause of Death Death from Structural Collapse
V Name Ushizuka Shigetsugu
V Cause of Death Death from Starvation
V Regret Back when I was Close with Family
VI Name Chan Chan
VI Cause of Death Death from Falling
VI Regret Married Life
VIII Name Kamebuchi Keiko
VIII Cause of Death Brain Hemorrhage
VIII Regret Child's Name
IX Name Scale Jones
XII Name Alan Scorpion
XII Cause of Death Death from Poison