[summary] No.6: Beyond ~ Part 1 of 422
Type: Novel Summary
Title: No.6: Beyond
Author/Circle: Asano Atsuko
Notes: So if you’ve been hanging around No.6 fandom recently, you know that in the past week it was just announced that a new novel would be published, filling in blanks in No.6 and expounding on what’s gone on since the end of the novels–an extended epilogue of sorts. While the timelines of the different chapters (each dealing with a different character) do seem to differ, it does touch on Nezumi’s and Shion’s activities after the end of the novels. Given that 9th avenue did a great job with the novel translations, they’re going to translate this novel as well, but until that happens, we’re providing summaries in our usual detailed manner! So if you can’t wait and want to know the juicy tidbits, dive right in! Of note: You WILL need to know what happens at the end of No.6 to understand much of this novel (or not mind being spoiled). If you’ve seen the anime/read the novel translations/heard what happens, you should be just fine.
Let me tell you a story–a story about the city-state No.6 and two young men.
Our story opens with a few words from an omniscient narrator, one for whom the story of No.6 feels as if it happened both yesterday and a thousand years ago–for time to our narrator doesn’t pass as it does for most people.
I knew these two young men. Daytime and evening, light and darkness, the earth and the wind, one who accepted everything and one who tried to toss it all away. Different as they were from one another, they were so very similar as well.
This story is one of opposites in every respect.
The first of the four parts to this novel focuses on Inukashi, who at the opening of the chapter wakes slowly feeling dizzy and with the rising urge to vomit coursing through them. While attempting to regain their senses, they recall their last meal the previous evening–a hunk of meat they’d managed to find as leftovers from the Correctional Facility. Given how rare meat is in West Block, this was like manna from heaven–and while there were other options such as preserving the meat for leaner times, or even selling it in the market and making a pretty penny, Inukashi had decided to eat it all in one go.
While the meat had cooked, Inukashi recalled that the reason they’re still alive is probably all thanks to that old man–while they don’t remember their father or mother, the snow falling in flurries from the sky always makes them remember that winter when Inukashi met the old man with the dogs living in a run-down hotel…
The old man had found and taking in Inukashi when they were just a baby, still drinking milk from their ‘mother’ that the old man provided, letting Inukashi drink from her and curl up with the other puppies the dog had just given birth to. That dog had been the only mother Inukashi had ever known. When Inukashi grew old enough to walk and race the other dogs, the old man had said, “You’re a strange child…or rather, a special child.” It’s one of the few things Inukashi still remembers.
But the old man had also gone on to explain that he doesn’t know why he chose to save Inukashi rather than leave them be, even though he suspected the baby wouldn’t last more than a few days. A dozen people must have seen the baby lying there, and done nothing–and yet he could do that for reasons he can’t explain.
This sends a chill down Inukashi’s back–the only reason they’re even alive…is because of a simple twist of fate. If it hadn’t been for the simple whim of an old man, they’d have been little more than feed for the crows and beasts, and that knowledge fills Inukashi with both relief and fear.
Inukashi strives for self-preservation–their own survival is more important than anything else. If their life can be extended a minute, even a second, they’ll dow anything, no matter how debasing. Dying would be easy–jumping off a cliff, waltzing into the Correctional Facility, there are a dozen ways to go, and the worst will only hurt for a few moments. But…Inukashi is having none of it. Even at a young age, they knew that wasn’t the path for them, and would fight to the bitter end, surviving against all odds. The old man had just smiled and patted Inukashi on the head, murmuring, “…You might just be able to pull it off, too.”
He disappeared the following year, at the beginning of winter–Inukashi had woken to find his bedding gone and the old man nowhere to be found. Inukashi hadn’t been sad, though–the dogs were still there, and that was all they needed. And they’ll never forget or stop being grateful for what the old man did for them, saving Inukashi.
The meat has finished cooking, and Inukashi’s dogs are all gathering around hungrily. They dig into the meal, and in short order, Inukashi’s memories of the old man have once again faded into the background, and Inukashi rests easily that night.
Which brings us back to the following morning, and Inukashi isn’t feeling so swell. The room is spinning and they feel like throwing up, and strings of panicked thoughts run through their mind. Getting sick in West Block is a death sentence. A dog pokes its head into the room, just as Inukashi is beginning to despair, and they beg it, “Please…please call them–I’m begging you, get them for me…” and the dog darts away while several puppies whimper nearby.
Inukashi wakes from a dream–it was a dream from long ago, how many years now?
They wander down the stairs and out an underground door–the hotel is situated near the entrance to No.6, just outside the wall. On most any other day, Inukashi wouldn’t wander out this way, having to face No.6, but their stomach is growling and there’s no food in the room. At length, Inukashi wanders into a forested area and comes upon an abandoned house, derelict and in disrepair. With neither sight nor sound nor smell of humans around, Inukashi cautiously enters…and recalls that an old woman used to live here, with a boy, possibly her grandson or something. Inukashi had seen them a few times, and recalls that the old woman had been crazy, pulling a knife all by herself on the mayor or something of No.6–and been promptly gunned down for it. Of course, this is all hearsay from the marketplace.
Inukashi’s about at the limit of hunger, and they’re desperate to find something, anything to eat. They step through a door inside the house…and find books, everywhere, all over the place. The floor has almost disappeared under the books piled everywhere. The entire room seems to be made up of only books–it’s the first time Inukashi’s ever seen a book.
Inukashi knows how to read, and can write simple sentences, because the old man taught them–but they don’t know anything about “books”. They pick up one from the pile nearest to them and flip it open to a random page–where a picture of an apple greets them. It looks delicious–what a cruel joke.
Just as they’re convinced there’s nothing in this room but books, their eyes land on a small, silver box, with a towel spread out beneath it. They hesitantly open the box…and let out a low whistle.
It seems to be an emergency kit, filled with drugs and bandages, even a scalpel, obviously of No.6 make. Inukashi is already calculating just how much something like this would go for–the disinfectant alone would probably go for at least two silver pieces–when they spot a small mouse sitting on the table beside them.
It’s not a living mouse–well-made, but obviously built by human hands. Inukashi moves to get a closer look–when a cold chill runs down their back and they break out into goosebumps.
“Don’t make a move.”
The chills aren’t from the knife pressed against their neck, but rather from how bitterly cold the voice sounds from behind them, like all feelings and emotions are frozen, making those withing Inukashi freeze over as well. It’s the voice of a murderer.
Inukashi panics–when did this guy manage to not only get inside, but sneak up behind them? Inukashi had prided themselves on being able to detect intruders, so how…? Was this guy not even human?
“Pl–please, wait, I just–”
“Put the box back where you found it.”
“All–all right, I will.” And Inukashi does as asked. “Th–there, I put it back. All right?”
“All right? Hardly.” The man twitches his knife at Inukashi’s throat. “Stealing is tantamount to death here. You’ve no right to protest being killed for it.”
Inukashi tries to start a conversation, nervous laughter in their voice, reminding the man that they live just nearby, in the run-down hotel, with their dogs, and while they don’t really have a name, everyone calls them ‘Inukashi’–they just keep talking, because they fear if they stop, the silence will be followed by their throat being slit.
“Hey–I’m begging you, I’ll apologize, so please forgive me. I was wrong–I’ll never ever do this again, okay? Please don’t kill me, please! Just…let me go. I don’t want to die yet, not ever! I’m sorry–so, so sorry. I’ll never touch anything of yours again, I swear it! So please don’t kill me!” It’s not a ruse, Inukashi really, truly is begging for their life.
The knife is drawn away, and Inukashi breathes deeply–but their neck stings a bit, and when they bring their hand up, they realize that the man has made a shallow slice into their skin to spook them, but not deep enough to draw blood–just enough to hurt. This is all the evidence Inukashi needs to be sure that this man isn’t human–he’s some kind of demon or monster.
Inukashi slowly turns around, still massaging their neck–and is shocked to see that the person standing before them is not a demon or a monster or one of the dead, but a boy in a red-checked shirt. Or–maybe a girl? Wait no–definitely a man; no girl would have such a cold, ruthless voice. The boy’s hair is long, draping over his shoulders and hiding his cheeks, and his small, pale face is almost creepily refined. His eyes are a strange shade–a fascinating pale gray. It’s the first time Inukashi’s ever seen such a color. He seems taller than Inukashi, but it’s hard to define his age.
The boy is expressionless as he returns his knife to his case, and Inukashi is irritated at the relief that wells up inside them from this–this is who got the drop on them?
“That shirt doesn’t really suit you, y’know,” they laugh, trying to appear unruffled by the encounter. “Not exactly something you see every day in West Block.”
“I borrowed it.”
“Borrowed it? Where’d you borrow something as nice as that? You’re not gonna tell me ‘from No.6’, right?” Inukashi means it as a joke initially, but once the supposition is out of their mouth, it’s all they can think of. It’s a well-made shirt and looks warm and comfortable–and that emergency kit from before was definitely from the other side of the wall.
“Wait…what the hell are you? Are you from the city?” But Inukashi doesn’t ask any further questions, because the boy has reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of jerky which he’s now eating–a bit of food Inukashi realizes he took from Inukashi’s own pouch.
“Payment for you stealing from me–I’m taking this.”
Inukashi yells at him to give back the meat, and the boy just smirks, urging Inukashi to take it back by force if they want it so badly. But Inukashi realizes that this isn’t an opponent they have any hope of winning against in a fair fight, and without the dogs for backup, there’s no point.
At the concession, the boy compliments, “Good boy; how reasonable of you. With manners like that, you’ll live long.”
Fed up with being teased like this, Inukashi storms out. The boy just sits on top of a pile of books and watches Inukashi leave silently. That gaze on Inukashi seems to hold them in place, and they can’t even move. “Just…what the hell are you?” It’s the same thing Inukashi asked before, but now it’s much more seriously posed. “…Do you live here?”
“But–this place has been abandoned for years. Where did you even come from? And–why do you have a shirt and an emergency kit from No.6? Don’t tell me you’re one of them?” Inukashi knows they should leave, get out of here, but their lips won’t stop flapping, and the questions keep coming.
“God you talk a lot. I’m surprised you don’t bite your tongue off with all the babbling you do.” The boy shakes his head and offers up a strange smile–and Inukashi feels a bit taken, heartrate rising.
This guy…is dangerous–more so than a murderer even. It’s a gut feeling, but Inukashi doubts it’s incorrect.
Don’t get involved with him. Leave right now. Never approach him again.
All of the warning bells are blaring, but Inukashi ignores them for some reason and continues questioning. “…What’s your name?”
The boy cocks his head. “…Nezumi.”
“That’s a weird name; is it your real one?”
“No weirder than ‘Inukashi’.”
“…I guess you have a point. So–Nezumi, huh? At least it’s easy to remember.”
“And you plan on actually remembering it?”
“Oh, well, I mean…”
Inukashi can feel the urge to escape rising–feeling like they’re caught in a spider’s web and just being played with, but they still can’t move a muscle. Danger, danger, danger.
“Well…see you around, Nezumi. Maybe we’ll be fated to meet again some day.”
“Sure, should fate so deem it.”
Yeah right. Inukashi never intends to see this guy’s face again. They take their leave at least and sprint up the stairs and outside.
“Nezumi…huh.” Inukashi wonders if they’ll indeed be able to get out of having to ever see the guy again.
Sure, should fate so deem it.
Nezumi’s final words still resonate in Inukashi’s mind.
Sure, should fate so deem it.
Maybe…fate will deem it. Inukashi has a sinking feeling that they’ll meet again many times in the future, that they’ll become involved in one another’s lives somehow.
“Nezumi…huh,” Inukashi whispers again.
“Did you call us?”
“Did you call for us, Inukashi?”
Inukashi opens their eyes–it’s bright. There’s bright blue sky streaming through the window in a corner of the room.
Nezumi peers close, and their eyes meet–it’s just like that first time they met, fascinating pale-gray eyes.
“What…are you doing here?”
“Huh? That’s one hell of a thing to say. You‘re the one who called us, after all.”
“Oh…I did? Wait, no, I called for…”
“If not us, then who?”
“Inukashi–are you awake now?” A white head peeks out from behind Nezumi.
“You were in rough shape–but you should be fine now. You’ll feel better soon,” Shion smiles.
Shion, I was scared. I thought I might die. I was scared and lonely and I couldn’t help myself. I called for you.
“Here, drink this.” Shion passes over a bowl of some green liquid–an herbal remedy that he read up on in one of Nezumi’s books apparently. Nezumi helpfully offers advice to just pinch the nose to make it go down more easily, and Inukashi downs it in one gulp.
Shion rests a hand on Inukashi’s forehead; it’s cool and feels wonderful. “You have to stay in bed for a while,” he urges. It doesn’t look like pneumonia, but Inukashi definitely has cold symptoms and a bit of anemia.
Inukashi protests that the dogs won’t survive with Inukashi in bed, but Shion urges Inukashi not to worry, that he’ll take care of the dogs and the lending business–and Nezumi will help feed them, too.
Nezumi winces at this, but eventually relents, reminding Inukashi that this is nothing more than a debt being racked up, and that Inukashi will be expected to repay them later.
For some reason, Nezumi’s words, which usually incite such irritation and anger…sound almost kind right now, and Inukashi lies down and smiles softly.
“Oh–by the way, Inukashi,” Shion continues, “with your stamina, I don’t think you need to worry about this sickness, but you really should do something about the wound on your toe.”
“Toe? Oh, my big toe on my right foot?” Inukashi is used to small cuts and bruises, and so long as it’s not a major injury, a bit of licking is usually enough to heal it.
“It’s starting to fester; if you leave it like this, it’ll swell up and you won’t be able to walk. So…”
“I’m gonna operate on it.” Shion pulls out that old emergency kit–which doesn’t look a bit changed since before.
“Uuuuh…Shion, what are you…”
“I’m just going to make a small incision, drain the pus, disinfect it, and then stitch it back up. It’ll be over before you know it.”
He’s already donned rubber gloves and has a scalpel in hand.
“W–wait, INCISION? Shion, wait a minute, WAIT. What about anesthetic?!”
“Don’t have any.”
“DON’T HAVE ANY? But–”
“It’s all right; I’ll finish up quickly. Sorry,Nezumi–would you mind restraining Inukashi for me? Make sure he can’t move.”
“Roger.” Nezumi presses down on Inukashi’s hips with both hands, immobilizing them from the waist down. “I’ll bet you didn’t know this…” he smiles, “…but Shion here just loves stitching people up. Despite his looks, he’s a pretty sadistic bastard.”
Inukashi protests more and more fervently, and Nezumi chides at them to calm down, the wound really does look bad and could be what’s got Inukashi so sick in the first place. Inukashi doesn’t care–they just don’t want it to hurt, but Shion’s already going at it, narrating the ‘operation’ as he goes. This obviously does absolutely nothing to help calm Inukashi down, and Nezumi murmurs softly, “Don’t cry, there’s a good boy. We’ll get you a treat later…” and this actually does calm Inukashi down, leaving them feeling like a baby again, cradled in someone’s arms. No fear, no pain, just a place to rest peacefully…
“There there…just sleep, don’t think of anything else. We’ll protect you with all that we are. We won’t give you over to any grim reaper, no matter what.”
We’ll protect you with all that we are.
Inukashi’s eyes spring open, and they stare up at Nezumi, then down to Shion, crouched over their feet–they both look serious.
We’ll protect you with all that we are.
It’s not a lie. In this world of nothing but false and fake, Nezumi’s words alone are truth. Even should everything else in the world be revealed to be a complete sham, Inukashi can believe in these words alone.
It’s the last straw, and Inukashi starts to cry, tears falling in buckets.
‘You asshole; I can’t believe you made me cry.’
Inukashi wipes away at the tears with both hands and continues silently weeping. The sky outside is still a bright, brilliant blue.
END PART 1