[summary] No.6 ~ 2630
Author/Circle: Kino Hinoki, Asano Atsuko
Shion and Nezumi gaze down into a room full of hundreds of corpses, all lined up neatly on conveyor belts…all with their brains removed for examination.
Shion comes to the startling conclusion that these are samples–and now that their brains have been excised, the bodies are no longer needed…so they’re being disposed of.
Even Nezumi is shocked by this:
Every single one of these people used to be someone, with family, who loved and laughed and cried…and now they’re being tossed out like garbage.
‘No.6…you’ve resorted to this?’ Shion wonders, before exclaiming, “They’re not human…this isn’t something that humans would do…!!”
But only moments before–the very room they’re in had been filled with lab technicians seemingly enjoying themselves. Some even had pictures of their family at their desks. Does that mean they’re all evil demons?
Nezumi snaps back to his senses and drags Shion away–they can’t afford to die here–but as they burst into the hallway, they’re met by a group of armed guards. Nezumi barks at Shion to duck, tossing out a small grenade, which explodes and activates the sprinklers above. Nezumi uses the smoke and confusion to start taking out the guards, slicing through the group until he manages to take one hostage, ordering the others not to move–to drop their guns, or he’ll slit the man’s throat.
But he’s met only with the sound of clapping, and a man steps forward through the group. “Well done, well done indeed. But how about we leave it at this? Fun and games are over, VC103221. And…Shion, wasn’t it?”
Nezumi glances at Shion, confused, and Shion explains that the man’s name is Rashi–he’s an interrogator for the Security Bureau. Rashi expresses glee that Shion remembers him and admiration at how much Shion seems to have grown in their time apart. He never would’ve expected Shion to try and infiltrate the Correctional Facility like this. Shion returns that he never expected to meet Rashi again either.
Rashi explains that he’s actually an instructor for No.6’s military forces–and apologizes for not properly introducing himself before. Nezumi is unamused, advising, “Why not take his card, Shion? Might come in handy when you start looking for a job.”
Rashi is impressed with the pair’s efforts thus far–Nezumi’s skills are enough to make him want to recruit Nezumi himself.
Nezumi “politely” declines, instead ordering Rashi to toss aside his gun and get out of the way.
Rashi repeats once more that he’s impressed–not many could get as far as they have, after all. But…they’re still painfully young and naive, and he whips his gun around and shoots Nezumi’s hostage between the eyes, leaving Nezumi to watch in silent horror as the man jerks back to the ground–
–before subsequently sending two more shots straight into Nezumi himself, in the shoulder and leg.
Shion screams his name and dives to catch Nezumi as he falls.
Rashi approaches, chiding Nezumi for not being sure he had his super-fiber cloak wrapped tight around him, where it might have helped shield him. As Shion holds Nezumi, Rashi admits that it’s been fun–but everything’s over now. It does seem a pity to dispatch them, but it can’t be helped. He’ll see them off peacefully, in recognition for their valiant efforts–one bullet each.
But before he can do so–the sprinklers turn off, and the bulkheads start to close, shutting everyone in. If they don’t escape immediately, they’ll be exposed to high-voltage current, and the guards urge Rashi to escape before it’s too late.
Nezumi watches the others leave, teasing Rashi that he really ought to get going, to which Rashi replies:
“Just as soon as I’ve finished with you two.”
But Shion only tightens his grip.
Nezumi lets himself relax into Shion’s hold, breath coming in short pants, and starts to accept his fate…
…and reaches up to hold the hand that Shion has draped over his chest.
‘Ah, I see… I guess I am gonna die with you, then…’
He won’t close his eyes, though; he’ll keep them wide open and see all he can of this world until the very last moment. Shion squeezes even tighter, holding him close…
…when a bullet rips through Rashi’s chest. He lists to the side, sliding down the wall into a heap on the floor.
Felled by a bullet fired by Shion.
Nezumi turns a worried gaze upward…only to find Shion’s eyes dead and dull, blank and lifeless as he clutches the gun and stares ahead.
Rashi clings to life, berating Shion for not being sure to aim for a critical point if he’s going to shoot someone. But Shion simply steps forward calmly, explaining, “I have a few things to ask you, first.”
He wants to know why they didn’t activate the barriers initially; they must have paused the activation in order to chase Nezumi and Shion down, after all. Rashi explains that it was simply that the system didn’t activate, on its own–as to why, he doesn’t know.
Shion presses him for answers, but Rashi maintains that he truly doesn’t know, begging Shion to finish him off, set him free, save him from this pain.
“…Save you? I heard those same words just earlier… Beneath this building.”
Nezumi struggles to his feet–he has to stand, has to grab on to Shion’s arm. Has to stop him. But he falters, collapsing, and can only beg inside his mind to understand what Shion’s trying to do.
Shion talks about the manhunt, about the innocent victims herded into trucks and tossed into the facility, about the man who’d fallen with them who begged Shion to save him–and wonders what Rashi was doing at that moment. Enjoying a cup of coffee? Or perhaps taking a bath?
“I couldn’t save that man.”
“I can’t save anyone.”
Nezumi screams for him not to do it–but he fires, and Rashi is dead from a bullet to the head.
Nezumi clenches his eyes shut–he doesn’t want to open them, because when he does, he’ll have to face the cold truth. He just wants to run away, eyes screwed shut, to be anywhere but right here, right now. He doesn’t want to see it–
–and in his mind, in the darkness behind his eyes, he remembers.
It’s a familiar scene, a voice saying it will teach him a song, and a woman carries his young self.
“I can sing it! I can sing it just fine!”
The woman commends him for a fine demonstration of his singing prowess, and he leans against her chest, exhausted.
The woman reassures him that it’s fine to sleep–she’ll carry him. Where to? The forest, of course.
Nezumi comes to, announcing that he’s going back–back to the reality where Shion exists. He has to go back there, no matter what might be waiting. He cannot flee alone.
‘Shion…I have to come back to you,’ he vows to himself…as Shion repeats, “I can’t save anyone…”
[END CHAPTER 26]