Chapter 5: For All The Wrong Reasons.
The walls around Asuha boiled when she brought out her flame, but they froze soon after when she turned that flame into ice. As a result, they crumbled under her immense power, leaving dust and vapor in their wake.
“Asuha! Asuha!” I called out. It was hard to see anything with all the debris in the air.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m here,” she replied playfully.
The whole building came crashing down before I knew it, sending a shockwave that threw me around like a rag doll. Luckily, Asuha jumped up and stopped me from being thrown around too much.
“Hey, you alright? Hold on a sec, I’ll get these off of you,” she said before carefully burning off my straitjacket.
“T-Thanks Asuha,” I said. It felt good to be able to freely move again.
Asuha was close enough that I could see her face even through all the dust. I appreciated her breaking me out, but maybe she went a little too far in destroying the jail. Not only were the walls around us completely reduced to debris, the buildings even further out were starting to collapse from the pressure as well.
Renge and her crew quickly scrambled out of the area. I couldn’t see them leave, but I heard their frantic footsteps loud and clear.
As they left, I could hear someone crying out in confusion a few cells down from us. “What’s happening?!?!? What is it now?? Get me out of here!” she yelled out.
“Asagao, calm down. I don’t know what’s going on either, but it’s best to stay calm.”
No doubt they were Asagao and Natsume. From the sound of their voices they were still shaken up, but at least they were okay. I could breathe a sigh of relief to that.
However, I quickly realized there was something more important that I should be focusing on. I grabbed both of Asuha’s shoulders and pulled her close to me. “Hey, you alright?” I said. “You’re not hurt anywhere are you?”
“W-What’s with this all of a sudden? I-I’m fine…” she murmured back, her face slightly turning red. She swatted both my hands away before quickly turning away from me, exposing her completely naked back to me.
It was only then did I realize she didn’t have any clothes on… I grabbed what was left of a nearby straitjacket, handed it to her, and turned around to respect her privacy.
“Thanks…” she whispered softly. She rummaged through the scraps and tried to make herself an outfit.
I breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad you’re fine. You seemed to be pushing pretty hard especially since you don’t have your specialized weapon… I was pretty worried.”
“Well, the weapon only helps me control it…” she replied. “I can control weak powers just fine, but after that, I get so tired I don’t even want to move anymore. So maybe I do wish I had my weapon…”
Asuha said that like it was no big deal, but I of all people knew how much she was putting up a front. What she did must have put a huge strain on her body no matter how talented she was.
In any case, I had nothing else to worry about as long as she was fine, although there was no way I was going to let her do anything more in that condition.
“Alright, how’s this look?” said Asuha.
I turned around and saw that she had made a makeshift outfit from the straitjacket with even a jacket to wear on the outside.
“Wow, looking good… and cute.”
“Ew, don’t say that,” pouted Asuha with her cheeks again blushing a little bit. “Let’s just get out of here.”
“Alright, let’s go. Wait, let’s get Asagao and the rest first.”
We couldn’t just leave Asagao like that. She had probably been taken hostage so that Renge could get Natsume under control, so before they came back, we needed to get them out.
We made our way even further in the compound where the two were being held, and saw that they were tied up in straitjackets like we were. Once they saw us, the two breathed a sigh of relief.
Their cages were already weakened from what Asuha did earlier, so she just casually broke the metal bars open.
“Kasumi, what’s going on?!?” asked Asagao. “I just don’t understand anymore…”
“We got played, no doubt. Sorry, there’s no time to explain… We gotta go,” I said, breaking her free of the straitjacket.
Asuha did the same with Natsume, and together the four of us made our way out, all while I briefly went over my conversation with Renge.
“I don’t know what to say to that… She’s more amazing than I thought she was,” Asagao whispered in shock after hearing what I had to say.
“Amazing, you say?” I replied back. “Are you still under the effects of her [World]?”
Natsume tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I don’t think any of us are under her control. She probably has to continuously talk to maintain her [World] on us since it doesn’t seem to have a lasting effect. That’s probably why she has to stick with her underlings, and because of that, she hasn’t talked to us in a while. So we should be fine now.”
“Yeah, and we haven’t had her tea in a while too,” added Asagao.
As I expected, the tea and medicine given by Renge was used to speed up the otherwise lengthy process it would take to brainwash us.
“I was only speaking from an objective point of view earlier,” Asagao continued. “Her idiot ideals aside, she possesses an especially powerful [World], not to mention her skill at developing new things… Looking back at it now, I guess I failed as her boss.”
“Don’t talk to me about failed bosses… It hits me too hard,” said Natsume.
Asagao shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, you’re not wrong about that.”
The two looked at each other and laughed.
“Hey, aren’t they getting along quite well?” Asuha whispered in my ear after eyeing them from the side. “Did they suddenly become friends?”
“Originally they were,” I replied.
Asuha looked at me funny. From her point of view, the two certainly seemed to have become friends just like that. However, as Asagao had stated before, the two spent time together like a family. That’s why it was no surprise that they continued to behave like siblings even now.
As we almost made our way out of the facility, a loud groan came crashing down on us.
“Chigusa… Asagao… Chigusa…” it cried out. “It’s dark and I’m alone…”
With a stroke of luck we just happened to pass by Urushibara, who at the moment was crouched over in a cell corner.
“Ah, it’s Urushibara,” said Asagao. “Kasumi, get him out too.”
Hearing him call my name twice gave me the shivers. It creeped me out so much I didn’t even want to break him out, but if Asagao told me so then I had no choice.
I motioned to Asuha to break the door, but before she could cut off his straitjacket, Urushibara came rolling up to me.
“Hey what the hell man!” he shouted. “What took you so long?”
“Urushibara, we’re gonna stop Renge,” interrupted Asagao. “I need your help.”
Upon hearing that, he immediately stopped shouting and smirked. “I’ve been waiting for you to say that all this time,” he said reassuringly.
He actually sounded pretty cool if not for his sudden quick change in attitude and the fact that he was still tied up.
We swiftly hid around the city right after breaking out. Urushibara snuck around to gather info, and when he came back to us he immediately took a knee in front of Asagao.
“Urushibara,” she said. “Give me your report.”
“Of course! The city right now is actually not in disarray. People are shaken up, but they seem to be on the watch for now. It seems like Renge’s group hasn’t gone full blown revolution yet.”
Asagao crossed her arms and nodded, but Natsume was feeling a bit worried.
“What about my right hand woman and all the other military people?” she asked softly.
“She and along with all the other people who refused to cooperate were thrown in a cell. A lot of the military members are held in a different complex than where we just were and given some sort of drug to force them to sleep. It shouldn’t be too hard for them to bust themselves out, but who knows when they’ll wake up.”
“What’s Renge up to, then?” asked Asagao.
“She dispatched some squads to take care of some loose ends, but for the most part she’s gathered with all the other students, probably either making sure she’s still got control over them or maybe even strengthening her powers. I have reason to believe she’s going to make her move soon… especially since the actual voting for the election is coming up. It’s only a matter of time before she gets what she wants and that will be the end of us.”
“I see… that’s a very systematic approach to taking over the city, but effective. She’s even taken care of the military… Is there any way to stop her?” she replied.
Both Asagao and Natsume looked quite troubled while Asuha just looked confused. As for me, I probably looked troubled and confused, but I called for their attention.
“Umm, can I ask a question here? How did Urushibara find all that out?” I asked, with Asuha nodding in agreement next to me.
Urushibara grinned. “I told you, I was also in the military. You were in the sniper unit, but I was working for their intelligence. No matter what place I’m in, I can always blend in and get information out. Well, maybe not if I’m left alone in a dark place…”
Wow, he didn’t have to bring that up.
But it was true, Urushibara seemed like the type of person to have done everything after being sent in so many places.
“Even within the military, the intelligence unit operates away from everyone else,” Natsume chimed in. “It’s not just you, but most of the other students don’t know Urshibara’s powers. Because of that, he was picked on all the time… so for that I apologize…”
Urushibara shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. It’s better for me if they all look down on me, since it’s easier to do my job. People aren’t on guard if they don’t consider me a threat, and they just can’t help spilling a bunch of secrets to show off.”
Very impressive Urushibara, I might have some newfound respect for you…
“That’s why I said we needed his power,” boasted Asagao. “Though even if we have all this info, there’s not a whole lot we can do with it…”
She sighed upon realizing what she just said.
“I hate to say this, but there’s always the option of just doing what they say since I doubt they’re willing to kill us,” said Ursuhibara. “Alternatively, we can go to Tokyo or Kanagawa. With our skill set, I’m sure we’ll be a welcome sight.”
Asuha smirked. “That’s funny… There’s no way my brother can get along with any of them.”
“The same could somewhat be said with him and this city,” Asagao replied unsarcastically.
They were saying some pretty terrible things about me, but I simply brushed it off. However, I couldn’t say the same for Urushibara’s suggestions. If we followed any of those paths, we would be deviating from the only thing I ever wanted. Asuha would still be an elite in those cities, so she could still go inland as planned, but it would be a completely different story for me. Right now, Chiba was my pathway to go inland with Asuha so I could take care of her for the rest of my life. After all, I did promise her that, and I didn’t intend on breaking that promise anytime soon.
Similarly, if we gave ourselves up to Renge, I would be nothing more but a hostage that dragged Asuha down, so of course I wouldn’t want that as well. She needed to live a life without anybody holding her back.
As a result, there was only one thing I could say in response.
“Sorry, but I’m opposed to all those options,” I said. I had to gather myself before saying the next few words. “I guess I like Chiba too much.”
Everyone else froze upon hearing that, but soon they all burst out laughing.
“Yeah, true. I love Chiba too! It’s the best,” Asagao said, trying to do her best idol impression.
Natsume couldn’t help but smile as well as she playfully poked Asagao on the forehead, causing her to pout in the other direction. Urushibara, watching the two from the side, wondered what he had done to deserve seeing them act like this.
Asuha was laughing the hardest among them all. “Oh my god, this is hilarious,” she said, tearing up from laughing so hard. “Alright then, it’s settled. We gotta make Chiba proud.”
“Oh, make Chiba proud? How?” I asked.
“We simply beat them up until they understand.”
“That’s more of making Kanagawa proud, though…”
“Exactly, I agree with Asuha!” laughed Natsume. She jammed both her fists together to show that she was serious. “If we can’t show them whose boss, we can’t win.”
I didn’t know why I was so surprised that they said that, but I guess they really were just muscleheads after all. It seemed Asuha wasn’t the only one wanting to crush them with violence, but Asagao was hesitant to get on board as well.
“Seriously, stop thinking with you fists,” she said with a sigh. “You beat them up, then what? Have you two thought that far?”
“Even if we were able to take Renge down,” Asagao continued, “There’s no way either Nasume or me could become the head anymore. We simply won’t get the votes. And if some random person becomes the head, our situation wouldn’t change. The city would just still be as messed up, and all the progress we’ve made would be for naught.”
Asagao wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t a matter of whether they were in the right or not, what mattered was that no one else trusted them anymore. Their reputation had been torn to shreds, so there had to be another one among us to step up. This election was going to be the defining point between the military and all the other branches, so we also needed a head that could resolve things amicably.
“In other words, we need to throw out a new candidate, right?”
Asagao nodded. “It’s still troublesome… I guess Kasumi’s the best shot we got,” she said with a big sigh before scratching her head in defeat. “With Natsume and me under him, he’s got all the tools needed to take down Renge.”
“Huh?” Asuha and I shouted at the same time.
“Picturing my brother as a head is actually too hilarious to imagine,” chuckled Asuha.
“Seriously. Me? I was taken along with you all, you know? I’m gonna be treated as a criminal too.”
“But like Renge, you were also transferred to my branch. If we can keep the parallel between Renge and you, then people might start question Renge’s claim to becoming the head. The city might start to be hesitant to accept her.”
“Alright, now it’s decided,” said Natsume. “We’ll do a raid on Renge’s little assembly, so we can actually show them who the real bosses are.”
We do have everything we needed to take her down, just as Asagao had said, and this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass on. Hesitating now would mean nothing but Renge’s victory.
“Alright, I got it. I will… try,” I said. I couldn’t think of anything else to say but that.
Hearing that, Asuha rushed up to me. “What?? You as the head?” she said, frantically pulling at my sleeve. “But… doesn’t that mean you’ll have to fight? You’re super weak right? It won’t work out!”
“I’ll manage, it’ll be fine,” I replied with a smile. “There’s a lot of people I can depend on… after I ask them. Be right back.”
I spoke lightheartedly to put her more at ease, but as I left I could hear her go, “I’m saying you can’t just manage through this..” behind me.
I called over Urushibara away from the rest of the pack since I wanted to speak to him alone.
“What?” he eyed me suspiciously. “You’ve got some guts calling me out here, Mr. candidate.”
He laughed, but it was one of those weird laughs where I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. Oh well, I just shrugged it off.
“Sorry,” I whispered into his ear. “I just got something I needed to discuss with you…”
I took the time to explain everything.
When I finished, Urushibara didn’t know what to say. He took off his glasses to rub his eyebrows, and with a grunt he said, “Chigusa… heh.” He smiled so brightly that he actually seemed dependable for once.
This was a day I thought would never come, yet here we were.
Honestly speaking, Urushibara was actually quite dependable. At first I thought he was just a tanned, scar-ridden gangster, but he always managed to be useful no matter what the situation was. In this case, his scouting was on point, and he even had the time to grab a spare uniform for Asuha. Furthermore, he was able to secretly lead us to Renge’s meeting place thanks to a route he found while he scouted around.
When we got there, we noticed about fifty of Renge’s group of transfers along with some other students patrolling the area with all their specialized weapons in hand. I guess Renge really didn’t want us to interfere. We quickly hid on the side and discussed our game plan.
“We probably have to get through them to go in, so to help with that I brought these,” said Urushibara, pulling out four specialized handguns from his bag.
Urushibara had once again surprised me to have even thought this far. At this point he wasn’t just an intelligence officer, but the whole branch with how much support he was giving us.
“I almost couldn’t get these with how much the whole area was on lock down… but we’d need to rely on these for our main firepower… It’ll be only us four fighting…”
Urushibara bit down on his lip in frustration, but to me he had done plenty already. It was true that it would still be an uphill battle even with these, especially since no one expected Asagao to fight.
“Sorry, I really wish I could fight alongside you all…” said Asagao, realizing what was going on.
“It’s okay, I’ll make up your portion in battle, too!” reassured Natsume. She gently patted Asagao on the shoulder before grabbing a handgun and inspecting it carefully. “This is quite the old, generic model, and it’s hard to use this with our [Worlds], so it’ll be hard to do any damage with these. But it’s plenty. It should be good enough to overpower them.”
“On paper the range on this is about 50 meters, but in reality it’s about just 10,” noted Urushibara. “Of course it also depends on how well you can use it.”
I was sure he was being informative, but I wasn’t paying attention to him at all. Instead, I went ahead and grabbed myself a handgun as well. After I took mine, Asuha quickly snatched up the remaining two.
“Alright, I’ll be in the front,” she said. “You guys cover me.”
If it wasn’t for me frantically pulling her back, she would have taken off by now. “What? No, no, you can’t do that. You already spent way too much energy earlier, so why not just let Natsume handle the front?”
Asuha groaned. “It’s because of you that I’m like this… I’m used to this, so just be quiet and watch me,” she said as she waved me off. She was done talking to me.
There were loads of things I wanted to say in response, but I didn’t want to jeopardize the operation just because of our little quarrel, so I took a moment to compose myself. It was true that Asuha was better suited to be the vanguard since Natsume had more firepower but at a longer cooldown, so I guess she was right.
“Alright,” I finally said. “Good luck, Asuha.”
“Sure. Just don’t get in my way and it’s all good,” she replied without even looking in my direction.
I felt a small wave of relief as I turned back to Natsume. “So that means Natsume will be protecting Asagao, then. Just provide some covering fire from time to time.”
“Got it. Leave her to me,” she said with a smile.
Asagao got emotional hearing her say that. At the very least, with this she wouldn’t be taken as a hostage. What’s left was to make sure the plan goes smoothly.
“I’ll be sniping around, and Urushibara, once you get inside, you know what to do, right?”
“Me? Oh yeah, leave it to me,” he replied.
I was glad I didn’t have to explain everything again for him. What a reliable person.
And with that, our little strategy huddle was over. I didn’t feel like we actually decided on anything, but oh well. It was time to begin the operation.
“Alright, Asuha, go for it.”
“Yes sir!” she said, her eyes sparkling with anticipation. She couldn’t help but smirk before heading off.
Once she was gone, I hid myself under the cover of the shadows. I suppressed my feelings of restlessness by constantly reminding myself that it was up to me to make the right shots, and to do that I had to stay calm and wait.
On the other hand, Asuha went wild with her acrobatics. She immediately rained down a volley of bullets at the enemy who couldn’t react properly in time. She continued to be relentless in her barrage, but there was only so much she could do as a single fighter even though she didn’t give them any time to recover from her attacks. As time went on, the enemy was able to slowly circle around her through their numbers alone before she had a chance to stop them.
Now, at the center of the enemy formation, Asuha was growing tired from a mix of fatigue and her dwindling power. There were just too many people that she had to handle. Even worse, Asuha was trying really hard not to kill them with her aim, which only gave them even more of a handicap.
Once the enemy got her surrounded, they started to fire multiple warning shots at her feet. Asuha was clearly getting frustrated, so it was up to me to support her. I could tell that she was too reckless in her movements and that was made worse by the fact that she wasn’t paying attention to her stamina. It was only a matter of time before her haphazard way of fighting led to her demise.
That was why I had to focus on her and her movements. Despite the massive scale of her [World], my [World] was to help her and her alone. It enabled me to be the only one who could read her movements and do something about it. No matter where her enemies were coming from, my duty was to shoot every single one of them down.
And that’s what I did. I cocked my gun, listened to their movements, and shot… again, and again. I shot their arms, legs, and even the guns they were holding. Some shots put them down quietly, but some others were hit so hard they were knocked off balance and went down screaming.
In the very front, Asuha stopped what she was doing and turned back in my direction. “What are you doing?!!?” she screamed back at me. “I told you not to get in my way!”
“Well I told you I was gonna cover for you!” I screamed back.
Through all the gunfire, through all the explosions, through all the shouts and screams of the people around her, the only voices that really pierced through everything else belonged to us two.
But that was the extent of our conversation. Asuha continued her indiscriminate barrage and I continued my extremely precise shots to the people around her. I vowed to make sure that there would not be a single person who could get to her today.
“There’s a sniper out there! Get to cover!!” someone finally shouted. In an instant, everyone stopped what they were doing and immediately tried searching for me. The fear of getting shot compelled them to quickly take cover and hide, even more so when they could have thought there were multiple snipers.
We immediately took advantage of that opening and forced our way into the building.
Renge looked beautiful as usual on the stage even from afar. Well, I actually wasn’t that far away from her, as a quick sprint would be more than enough to reach her. However, she just felt like she was so far away, almost unreachable. She felt as out of reach as a horizon off in the distance, a faraway star in the night sky, or even an idol on stage.
Speaking of which, this place would be perfect to have a performance. It was tall enough to have three seating floors and spacious enough to seat thousands of people. I was hidden in the third floor, but I could see that there was already that amount of people inside.
I could also faintly hear the gunshots outside, which inevitably made the people inside nervous. They began to nervously whisper among themselves, but thousands of people whispering at once caused quite the commotion. They looked at each other in panic before turning to Renge up front.
However, she was completely unfazed and went along with her speech as if nothing had happened. “I will become the head of Chiba,” she stated. “But even if you don’t support me, I’ll still reach out my hand to you.”
Renge’s goons were all lined up right behind her with their heads held high. They didn’t seem one bit concerned about what was going on outside. I even saw the person who shoved a gun in my head earlier.
The audience loved her speech. They cheered and gave her a round of applause, exactly how they responded to her in the debate. Once again, Renge’s [World] seemed to put the audience in a fanatic trance.
At that moment, I heard Urushibara go, “The control room has been secured. I repeat, the control room has been secured” into the headset I had been wearing. I tapped into my mic to confirm that I had received his message and got ready to finally end this by popping another pill into my mouth.
Immediately, I was dragged straight into the all to familiar feeling of having thousands of voices surge right into me where I was on the verge of passing out. Luckily, the bitterness of the pill in my mouth put my conscious back in check, and because of that I was somehow able to endure the pain.
I tapped into my microphone three more times where I was instantly greeted with an okay from Urushibara, or at least I thought that was from him. At this point, I was too deep in the voices of all the people around me that I couldn’t really tell.
“Renge, it’s checkmate,” I said. “You’re done.”
Renge abruptly stopped her speech the moment she heard me. “Wow, it’s your voice, Kasumi!” she said, speaking joyfully as if it was just another day at the office. “But where are you?”
She giggled in a way that seemed much louder and closer than before… perhaps I was more inclined to listen to her now that she sounded like her usual cute self. I focused on her voice through all the chattering in the arena. Her suddenly jump to cheerfulness really got the crowd going.
“I’m not done— I’ve just begun, and…” she whispered off the mic.
While she was speaking, I felt a chill in the back of my head as I processed all the voices going through it. It scratched at my brain so painfully that I couldn’t wait another minute. I had to pull the trigger.
No, it’s over.
This gun was supposedly made to hit targets up to 50 meters, but the bullet itself can fly as far as 200 meters. Because of that, with the right information and skills, it was possible to hit targets at that distance.
The bullet went straight into the leg of a boy standing by her side, causing blood to splash onto Renge’s face, though she continued to stay relatively unfazed. On the other hand, the boy immediately dropped to the floor and gave a scream so loud it shook the audience to their very cores. Some couldn’t stay composed from hearing his scream and screamed out just as loud.
The sudden jump in sound intensity obviously did not go unnoticed by me. Just as I thought I had a grasp on all the sounds in the area, their screams once again put me on the brink of passing out. Luckily, I managed to force my trembling hand to throw another pill into my mouth.
It was unlikely that he was going to die since I didn’t hit him in a fatal spot, but with all the pain he was feeling he probably thought he was going to. The audience as well probably had the same sentiment from his screams. If Renge could bring out her [World] to control them, then I needed to have them act on their primal instincts by making them fear for their lives. An individual may be very strong mentally, but as a group it was easy to break them down.
“Actually, I’ll say it this way…” I said again through the speaker. “Renge, I will end this myself.”
“Ah, I see… that’s amazing,” she said, speaking with a darker tone this time around. “I guess it really was you. This all wouldn’t have happened if only you went along with me that time… if only you grabbed my hand… if only you were there for me…”
She spoke solemnly, envisioning why things ended up this way and what would happen if things had been different.
She opened both her arms to me and said, “I guess that doesn’t matter now, though. Please do it… End it…”
If we had been in her dream, I probably would have been right there for her on that stage. Unfortunately, this was reality, so I had no choice but to pull the trigger instead.
The bullet headed straight to her chest, but I wasn’t trying to kill her. Instead, I hit the atomizer she hung around her neck, instantly breaking it into little pieces. With her specialized weapon now gone, Renge’s power went out of her control and vaporized with a blinding purple light.
The audience that was once under her control instantly lost control of their senses as a result, so they weren’t able to process her screams. In fact, I could confidently say that I was the only one who saw her collapsed body on stage and the only one who could hear her whispers.
You didn’t need your [World] to make people like you. They already liked you for who you were. Stop caring about it so much…
That’s why I should be the one to step up to her. I headed up to the stage as if I was the one to rescue the tragic heroine that she had become. Once on the podium, I almost collapsed before reaching for the mic. At this point, I was feeling the heavily side effects of bringing out my [World].
I didn’t plan out what I wanted to say even as I stood on the podium, though it didn’t really matter either way. I could have just winged it. That being said, I knew exactly how I wanted to start it off.
“Hello, World. Good morning, Chiba,” I said. Once I had that out of the way, my creative juices began to flow. “Has everyone woken up from their nightmare? No? Well, maybe there’s no point in asking that. I can’t hear you all anyways, so allow me to say the following: We have power. Power to kill the [Unknowns]… and the power to kill people by starving them all to death or simply by sniping them from afar. Don’t think for one moment that we don’t have the power to control every aspect of your lives and even the power to control your behavior. ”
I paused to cover the fact that I was feeling too nauseous to continue speaking.
“So keep all that in mind. It doesn’t matter what branch you’re in, I’ll always have my sniper aimed at you. I will be the one to decide if I want to pull the trigger or not, which makes me undeniably the most powerful person in Chiba. If you got a problem with that, bring it to me. You know where I am, and I’ll be waiting for you.”
I cut off the mic. It was a miracle that I was even able to say all that, but it looks like I was at my limit. What’s left was for Asagao or Natsume to end this farce by taking me down one way or another. Hopefully Urushibara had managed to get them in as we discussed. After that, my work here would be done.
A long silence followed— it felt like an eternity, but it could have just been a second. A moment of silence could feel ten times longer than it actually was. It always had that kind of effect on time perception.
Despite that, I clearly heard footsteps. They were the some of the angriest footsteps I had ever heard. And they belonged to Asuha.
Asuha walked up to the podium in silence and forcibly knocked me off onto the cold, hard floor. Sure it was painful, but I was actually relieved that I could finally lay down. Although losing consciousness by the second, I laid there as I looked up to Asuha on the mic.
“There. I’m number one now. I’m the head. If you got a problem with that, come at me,” she declared.
I passed out before I could see what happened next.
I wondered how many times I had peered into the world from the darkness. Even though I couldn’t speak to it, I could hear its sound going through me. Even though I couldn’t see it, I could feel its heat radiating onto me.
And just like that, I emerged into the world once again. In this case, the sound came from a trembling voice near me and the heat came from the blankets that were draped over me.
Asuha buried her head into my chest as I woke up. “You really are so stupid,” I heard her say.
The moon was bright enough for me to get a clear look at her.
“Why did you have to do that? You were such an idiot, it made me so angry!”
Tears started to well up in her eyes as she glared at me. “Next time you do that, I’ll actually kill you.”
“Don’t worry. That was the last time,” I said confidently. I gently wiped the tears away from her eyes.
“Because if I kill you, you won’t do it any more.”
“I sure won’t.”
“Besides, I’m strong,” she said, this time playfully hitting my chest a few times and grabbing my collar. “I could have done it myself.”
I gently grabbed onto her hand and said, “I can’t deny that.”
“So I was supposed to be the one to end Renge. Why did you have to do it? Don’t you hate working?”
“There are things I hate more than just working. I had to do it.”
“I guess that’s true for everyone.”
“Yeah! There’s a bunch of other things I hate. Like my brother, you know?”
“Don’t say that please…”
She always did say the most ridiculous things, but right now I was just glad to be talking to her. It didn’t matter what we were talking about, I only treasured the fact that we were together at this very moment.
I selfishly thought to myself that I understood her feelings just by being with her. She didn’t need to tell me anything at all, but since she did, I would be happy to listen to her all day.
The day when she could say the same for me couldn’t come soon enough. It would be the day when she could truly understand my feelings.
Before falling into the cold sleep, I heard nothing but a voice in my dreams.
“Don’t cry,” I said to it. “Everything’s going to be alright.”
Who was I trying to speak to? I closed my eyes and tried to hear it out. I could tell it belonged to a child, but I didn’t know exactly who it was.
However, the voice brought me a warmth that I still remember to this day. Even with nothing but darkness around me, it became the source of my hope.
It wasn’t long before the voice started to fade away, and me along with it.
At that moment, the coldness took over, and the world came to a standstill as space and time froze over.
Within that, I longed for the voice. I didn’t care what the voice was saying or who it was speaking to. I just wanted to know if it was there. Once I heard it, I could feel its warmth once again.
And that’s how my [World] came to be. It was there to understand what the voice was really saying. Whether it was crying out in happiness or sadness, my [World] was there to always hear what it had to say. No matter how much time had passed, my [World] was there as a reminder of what was truly important to me.
As long as I could hear her voice, as long as she was there, I didn’t need anything else. She was the only thing that mattered to me.
That’s why I can say this with confidence:
I really don’t care about this world.