[summary] No.6 ~ 2830
Author/Circle: Kino Hinoki, Asano Atsuko
Chapter 28 finds our boys confronted at last with Safu, standing alone amidst a forest of tubes housing brains and brain stems. Shion starts toward her but stumbles, falling to his knees, and voices his relief at finding her seemingly safe and sound. She’s alive and well–and they were finally able to reunite.
Safu responds similarly, glad that Shion came–just as she believed he would.
Safu: “I’ve been waiting so long for you… That’s all I could do: wait for you.”
Shion apologizes for being so late, but she shakes her head and instead remarks on his strange hair color. Shion confesses that it’s a long story, and Safu concurs that he must have been through a lot, more than she could even imagine. And yet he still came for her–“That’s…all I could ask for. Thank you, Shion. Thank you so much“.
At Shion’s side, Nezumi remarks, “Sounds almost like you’re speaking your final words there…”
Safu now notices him and realizes that this is Nezumi–she’s always wanted to meet him, has wondered what kind of a person he is, and Nezumi apologizes (with no small amount of sass) for not appearing in a more presentable fashion fit for a lady.
He then gets to the point and directly asks Safu if she was the one who hacked the main computer to guide them to where they are now.
At Shion’s confusion, Nezumi reminds him that he was the one who said it felt like someone was calling him. But Safu says it was not her, as she lacks that power. Who, then?
Here, Shion recalls the words of Rou, explaining about the great god of the forest, Elyurias.
When Nezumi prods her, asking if she knows Elyurias, Safu confesses she does not–but she knows that it was Elyurias who guided them here. And who woke Safu fully, who told her the truth of everything. Nezumi asks where Elyurias is, and while Safu does not know, she’s sure she is nearby.
She knows next to nothing of Elyurias, but when Safu had been longing to see Shion once more, Elyurias had called out to her, offering to let them meet again.
Nezumi continues to pepper Safu with questions, and Safu chides him good-naturedly:
Safu: You’re just full of questions, aren’t you, Nezumi?
Nezumi isn’t in a playful mood, though–not after what they’ve been through. He wants to know what Elyurias wants with them, why she’s drawn them here–but Shion stops him with a hand on his arm; all they need be concerned with is escaping now.
He asks Safu to guide them to the system core for the main computer, and she beckons the pair to follow her. Shion proceeds to do so, but Nezumi freezes at his side. When Shion asks what’s wrong, Nezumi’s expression darkens.
Nezumi: “Can’t you feel it? That something isn’t right…?”
Safu leads them to a tall room with a huge glass tube filled with wiring–mechanical and biological–within which, she explains, lies “Mother”. There’s a similar system at the heart of the Moondrop, known as “Grandmother”.
Shion approaches a control panel and proceeds to go to work–but it’s no use; there’s a special authentication method embedded in the computer, and his skills are no match for it. He turns to Safu to see if she has any input, and she explains that it’s impossible for anyone to access Mother save for the man who created her.
Nezumi asks about Elyurias–can’t she control Mother, given all the aid she gave him and Shion? Shion latches onto this idea as well and starts to approach Safu, asking questions in a similar vein–but Safu takes a measured step back.
Safu: “STAY BACK!”
It’s here that Shion recalls Nezumi’s earlier warning, his mention of something not feeling right.
He asks why she’s backing away from him, but Safu just continues begging him not to get any closer.
Safu: “I waited…waited so long for you… I wanted to see you, missed you so badly…that was the only thing I wished for!”
Shion is confused–haven’t they been reunited now? He’s standing right in front of her, they’ve come to rescue her! She’s going to get out of this place, together with them.
Shion: “Let’s leave here–together.”
…can only shake her head sadly.
Shion erupts with raging confusion–why? Why is she rejecting them? He reflects mentally that he can’t keep his emotions in check anymore; he tries to tamp them down, but they just keep bubbling to the surface and running wild.
He reminds her of the very sweater she’s wearing–it’s one her grandmother knit for her long ago. She admits that it is and recalls how Shion complimented her on it when all of the others around her laughed. Shion was the only one who didn’t laugh at her–and she met him within that wretched, lonely world of the elites. To her, it was–
Shion: “STOP IT!”
He doesn’t want to hear her reminiscing about these things, he wants to know why she’s wearing that sweater now, years later–but Nezumi grabs him and stops him.
Nezumi: “Enough. Just leave it at that.”
Shion: “Leave it at that? Leave it at what?”
He chides Shion for attacking Safu out of his own worries. It’s a cowardly act. Shion is confused–cowardly? Nezumi reminds him that he surely must understand; there’s no way he hasn’t noticed, right? So he mustn’t turn a blind eye to the truth. Nothing will come of avoiding reality; things can’t go back to the way they were.
Nezumi: “Shion, do not run away. Or at the very least…don’t run away right now.”
Shion realizes now that this Safu they’re seeing isn’t really Safu; she’s only a virtual image being displayed to them by Mother. Shion’s best friend no longer exists in this reality.
Nezumi’s words wash over Shion as he struggles to comprehend, but Shion can’t bear it and tries to refute him. He reasons that Mother’s virtual programming couldn’t possibly reproduce an accurate version of Safu as she is now. There’s no reason Mother would choose that black sweater from deep within Safu’s memories. Safu chose that sweater of her own volition.
Shion: “It’s not Mother, Nezumi. The one who’s showing Safu to us right now…is Safu herself.”
Safu is the one using Mother–and he confirms this with Safu.
Safu: “I just wanted you to remember–to remember me. You complimented me on this sweater, so I wanted you to remember me wearing it.”
Shion is confused–is Safu saying she wants Shion to make her into a memory? He explodes, ordering her to tell them where she is–but she responds that she’s nowhere now. She doesn’t exist anywhere anymore.
Shion rushes forward to grab her–
–and his hand slides right through her virtual image.
Safu: I just wanted to tell you goodbye. And thank you. Because I had you…I was always so very happy.
Safu: “I loved you.”
Shion stares at her, dumbfounded, and realizes that this really is Safu. This unwavering strength, tenacious beauty like a bird in flight–it’s all her.
He slumps to the floor, broken, and Safu begs Nezumi to destroy Mother. Nezumi says they’ll do so, if that’s her wish, and she thanks them. Nezumi returns that no thanks are necessary–destroying mother will amount to taking out the core of the Correctional Facility. He’d do so without even being asked.
Nezumi summons Tsukiyo and prepares to destroy the computer, but Shion still wants to investigate a bit more. Nezumi, though, is fed up–surely he understands, right? He saw that as well, after all. All of those tubes of brains and spinal cords…
Tsukiyo installs the detonator, reminding that they have 3 minutes to escape–the maximum allowed. Safu urges them to make haste, that they can’t waste even a second–but Shion refuses to leave without her. If she’s trapped here, they’ll help her escape. He doesn’t care what form she’s taken now, he has to–
But Safu begs him not to–to please not be so cruel as to do that. If she’d known he would see her in that form, she never would have longed to see him again. She’s trapped here, and it hurts so very much. So please, just destroy Mother and set her free.
Nezumi takes his arm and leads Shion out, asking Safu to ensure that they meet no resistance in their escape if at all possible, a task to which she agrees.
She then steps forward, arms open to embrace Shion–
–before passing right through him.
/I love you, Shion. Love you more than anyone else./
[To be continued…]