City Series:Volume3b Chapter 2
Act 2: Progress of the Seven Word Song (7:18)
A week had passed.
It was noon on June 23 and Akira was walking through the lobby of a large hospital in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district.
She wore a new Yard uniform and a new spear Device hung at her waist.
She and her clothes were completely unharmed.
She had been hospitalized ever since the day of Hong Kong’s destruction.
In addition to her broken wing, she had apparently cracked her ribs at some point. She had been more passed out than asleep when she had been brought in, so she had not noticed at the time. However, she had received a few large-scale Tune treatments before she woke up.
The female Tuner doctor who had treated her had spoken to her when she had woken.
“You were lucky.”
“You received good first aid and the General ordered us to give you top priority above the other injured. Your wing will be as good as new, so you should thank the people who brought you here.”
Despite the harshness of the doctor’s words, they had not included a sharp Live.
Akira had shrunk down on the bed and smiled bitterly.
The doctor had stroked Akira’s wings.
“I didn’t say it was wrong. Of everyone I treated, your injuries were the worst.”
The woman had added “Aren’t you glad?”, which had made Akira shrink down even further.
She was happy to be released from the hospital, but more because she could leave than because she had recovered.
As she walked through the lobby, she saw the conspicuous white of bandages here and there. Most of the patients in the hospital were surgery patients.
Also, she felt their eyes on her.
She thought they were curious looks at first, but they were not. Their Word Color was a pale red and their Tempo was faint but heavy.
These were Lives of hostility.
Their weak but definite presence shocked her.
When she turned around, the humans and Glossolalians standing or sitting in the lobby all looked away.
The Lives of hostility vanished, too.
None of them were looking at Akira.
She bit her lower lip and turned toward the hospital’s main entrance.
She spotted a small shop to the side of the large glass doors.
There was no one working there.
She stood in front of the shop and looked around, but there really was no sign of a clerk.
“Maybe because it’s noon?”
She tilted her head and checked through the pockets of her uniform’s coat.
She felt some change.
She intentionally rattled the coins around so everyone around her would know she was setting them on the counter and she reached for the newspaper rack.
She noticed something once she prepared to choose one.
“These are the only ones?”
There had always been dozens of different papers put out every day, but there were only six today.
They were printed only in black and red, so they lacked their usual ambition.
She grabbed the paper she always saw in the Yard and then she walked off.
While opening the newspaper, she opened the glass door with her fingertips and stepped outside.
The clear sunlight illuminated her body and the blowing wind seemed almost too perfect.
Something was wrong.
This was not Hong Kong’s usual light and wind.
“But that couldn’t be.”
She lightly shook her head as if she did not want to accept something.
However, the changes could be clearly seen. The cityscape visible from this central Kowloon hospital had grown shorter and the outlines of collapsed buildings were clearly visible even in the distance.
…There’s no smoke or heat created by people.
As her gaze moved south along the Kowloon Peninsula, she noticed the city’s shadow growing narrower. When the Earth Burns had ascended, they had torn into the east and west sides of the peninsula.
These were the scars left by those Earth Burns.
“I can’t believe this.”
After making sure there was no one else around, she let her shoulders droop.
She sighed and continued walking.
This was close to her apartment in Mong Kok. It was just far enough to finish reading the newspaper by the time she arrived home.
She looked down to the paper in order to fill the time and she read the headline on page one: Ripples in the Relationship between Britain and China.
The transformation of Hong Kong and restoration of heaven has been called the Sixth Divine Punishment War. China has placed all blame on Britain, but Britain is denying all responsibility. There reasoning is as follows:
・This incident was a terrorist act committed without the knowledge or approval of the state.
・Hong Kong is still British territory, so it is none of China’s concern what happens there. Even if Hong Kong is moved to heaven, it does not change the size of Britain’s territory, so there is nothing for other nations to accuse them of.
・If anyone in China can confirm heaven’s state now that Hong Kong has been transformed, Britain will allow them to investigate.
・And if any Chinese were harmed in Hong Kong, Britain wishes to apologize and is prepared to provide any appropriate compensation requested.”
“They handled that well,” muttered Akira.
Britain was clearly reacting after the fact and there were slight contradictions in their statements, but they had found a logical escape route.
“No matter how many people died, they were British citizens, so this will be handled as a domestic British issue.”
If heaven was restored, their souls could be saved.
It was a rough method, but…
“It’s all they have.”
It was because their methods looked a lot like a sudden accident that everything was progressing with ex-post-facto approval.
There had been too much political pressure to act out in the open from the beginning. No matter how noble their goal might be, they could not drive out the people living in the city and obliterate such a vast area of land.
“So it only works because Britain is prepared to stand their ground and argue their case. And if Britain denies responsibility here…”
Rin had already predicted the next ceremony. And even if that ceremony created the metal element Earth Serpent that would carry the rest of the land to heaven, Britain would be able to argue their way out of it in the same way.
…Who thought up this plan? My brother? Or Huang Daquan?
As she pondered that, she flipped to the second page of the newspaper. What she saw written there depressed her.
The headline read, “The Number of Victims is Enormous”.
Number of Victims: Dead – 600,000. Seriously Injured – 1,300,000. Missing – 800,000.
Lost Land: Hong Kong Island and 70% of the Kowloon Peninsula.
Total Damages: An estimated 69 billion HKD (and still rising).
“This is like the result of a war. …These numbers don’t feel real at all.”
…If you include the areas outside the city center, Hong Kong’s total population was about five million, wasn’t it?
More than half of that had been affected. At least one in eight had died and one in two or three had been otherwise harmed.
…Was this all part of their calculations?
Even long ago when their family had all been together, her brother had talked about restoring heaven and had researched the issue.
And his method was exactly what Akira had always wished to do: sending out a dragon.
“So he beat me to it. What a shame.”
Her voice was light, but her expression was stiff. She remembered what her brother had said on the night the dragons had taken flight.
He had said the following about Hong Kong’s destruction:
“That is reality.”
She bit her lower lip as she thought about what that meant.
She heard several airplanes flying by far above her lowered head.
“…? Things have gotten a lot louder since I was hospitalized.”
…Well, it’s an emergency, so there’s bound to be a lot they have to do.
With that thought, she crumpled up the newspaper, threw it to the ground, and kicked it.
She saw Mong Kok’s shopping district up ahead.
That was her home.
Or it should have been.
Hong Kong Cave was dead.
After the Sixth Divine Punishment War in which most of Hong Kong had been destroyed, a five-day investigation by the Yard and investigators from various nations had not found a single Nein Engel there.
All they had found were the newly-abandoned ruins.
However, the air began to move in that pit that now lacked even those investigators.
The surface was sunny and the air was warm.
That warm air flowed down into Hong Kong Cave and gained a damp, green smell as it came into contact with the darkness.
It sank into the pit and slowly gathered at the bottom as if piling up, but instead of becoming air, it rotated and whirled around the spring at the lowest level.
It created a slight wind.
That wind contained gentle warmth.
Two people let that wind wash over them on the edge of the spring.
One was a large man wearing a combat jacket the same color as the shadows accumulated on the lowest level.
In contrast, the other was a six-winged Nein Engel wearing a white coat that reflected light even in those same shadows.
They were Fei the Galgallin and Double Lee the Seraph.
These were the Nein Engels who had caused the Sixth Divine Punishment War.
Neither of them moved.
Fei remained standing and Double Lee remained sitting on the edge of the spring. They simply stared silently up into the shadows of Hong Kong Cave.
They could not see the light of the surface from three kilometers deep.
Since the creation of the hole, a number of structures had been created to cover everything up and hide the residents from the outside.
Still, they stared intently upwards.
Double Lee was the first to move.
He opened his mouth and said something.
That something was a question.
“Is Genius still not done?”
“There were a lot of rooms on that floor. It will take some time on her own.”
“She only has to place charms for the final ceremony in the four cardinal directions, but I guess that isn’t easy with such a large space.”
“It is necessary, so she has to do it.”
Double Lee looked down and laughed bitterly at Fei’s clear tone, void of all cruelty or concern.
“Ha ha. It’s been a week since most of Hong Kong was sent to heaven, so it’s sad that what you consider ‘necessary’ still isn’t complete.”
“Should we hasten our preparations?”
“I would really hate to rush this and make a mistake. But anyway, it looks like we can turn Hong Kong Cave into the site of the final ceremony by the end of the day. As for the remaining week…”
“We must stop anyone who would get in our way before the night Hong Kong is returned to China and we must acquire J-Gun Maldrick’s most powerful Device.”
Double Lee gave a small shrug.
“Sorry for making you wait this long. It took me an entire week to make the charms to use here which slowed down the setup for J-Gun’s Device.”
“That was unavoidable. Just like President Huang’s death, everything is a race against time. And, Double Lee, you have not slept much for the past few days, have you?”
“Because I’m still too inexperienced. If I had more power, I could have cut out the need for these extra preparations.”
“You do have power.”
“Not as much as you think I do. Just to start up the dragons, I needed the Tune Emblem and a powerful Device.”
“Yin and Yang lie at the foundation of Tuning and Busting. Ancient Tuners and Busters could easily draw those out from light and darkness. Not only that, but they could even play the Lives of time and space. But look at the modern Tuners and Busters.”
He fell silent and thought for a moment.
“Even I need Master Huang’s blood to obtain the power of Yang.”
“That is because of the Death Techno. Approximately seventy percent of the information related to Tuning and Busting was destroyed during the World Wars and the Divine Punishment Wars, so sending out dragons is worthy of praise in the present time.”
“That’s a nice consolation.”
“It is not a consolation; it is a relative evaluation,” readily corrected Fei. “You are growing faint of heart. Do you feel bad about destroying most of Hong Kong?”
“Of course not. My parents did something far worse.”
“Unfortunately, I have no detailed information on your parents.”
“Are you sure about that? …Fei, do you know the Flight Song?”
“That city connects heaven and earth. …It is the most well-known song in this city.”
“Yes, and it was created right here. Whenever a book introduces the Flight Song, it always has a picture of humans standing by this spring and looking up. Just like we were doing earlier.”
With that said, Double Lee once more looked up toward the heavens. Fei looked in the same direction.
“Can you see down here, Fei?”
Double Lee’s question was a simple one.
Fei’s answer was also a simple one.
“It would be a problem if I could not.”
The Galgallin had customized the majority of his body, so he stated that as if it were obvious.
On the other hand, Double Lee smiled bitterly and lowered his gaze.
His eyes turned from heaven and stopped on the monument next to the spring.
That mossy stone monument was engraved with the Flight Song.
Double Lee confirmed via Lives that Fei had turned in the same direction.
“Don’t you find it interesting?”
“The Flight Song?”
“Yes.” He nodded. “Fei, I have long thought about this song’s meaning. I thought and thought and thought.”
“I am aware. When President Huang first met you, that was the first thing you asked about.”
“I see you’re remembering old times again.”
“President Huang smiled and did not answer, but did he tell you in the end?”
“Yes, he did.”
“And you will not tell us?”
Double Lee lightly answered through body language.
He narrowed his eyes, twisted his lips a little, and simply smiled.
He finally opened that smile and produced some calm words that he seemed to have prepared in advance.
“Some things are best left unknown.”
The two fell silent.
Double Lee stood up and walked over to the monument carved with the Flight Song.
He arrived after one, two, three steps and reached out a hand.
He could be heard peeling moss away and he lowered his head.
His next words were directed toward the stones paving the ground.
“If you think about it carefully, it is a simple matter. …Why doesn’t Hong Kong truly connect heaven and earth like the song says?”
“Because the Divine Punishment Wars created a gap between the humans and the Glossolalians.”
“Between the humans and the Glossolalians?”
“The humans created Hong Kong Cave because they feared the Glossolalians. If not for that fearful avoidance, this place would not exist and neither would we as we are…or I as I am.”
“I see. An excellent guess.”
“That is the general opinion of all historians for the past century.”
“Even that last part? …I can’t imagine you without your customized body.”
“I only know this version of myself.”
“Archs RDC Security Division’s Active Duty Section 1 Commander and Division Commander…Fei Garland. When customizing your body, you received a Psyche Outer surgery and lost all of your memories. But…”
“My past remained.”
“Could you not kill her? I looked into it. Her Urban Name is Rin, but her Wild Name is Feng Ling. She’s a detective who made a name for herself as one of the Yard’s searchers, but she’s also a Tuner. Comparing her history to yours, your old self would have met her well before five years ago. And…when you parted ways, she was not even twenty.”
“How strange. You know more about me than I do.”
“She would know even more. …So could you not get rid of her…no, of your past?”
“I’m the same as you. In more ways than one,” said Double Lee. “And so is Hong Kong.”
“No one can erase the past. And in its prediction of the coming future – to return to our previous topic – the Flight Song does not match up with Hong Kong’s past.”
“We already discussed this.”
“What the historians think does not matter. I don’t care that they believe the song was created and sung as some faint hope for the people being sealed below the earth.”
He laughed quietly, and…
“Such ridiculous sympathy.”
He looked up and his expression changed slightly.
“Genius is here.”
A quiet flapping reached them like the spilling of sand.
A four-winged female Nein Engel descended down the center of the pit.
It was Genius.
“Were you waiting long?”
She landed on the spring. The tips of her toes sank into the pure water and she vibrated the wings extended both up and down in order to remain afloat.
She looked down but could not see the bottom of the spring. The bottomless hole looked like a gaping maw below her.
“Double Lee… You’ll perform the final ceremony here, won’t you?”
“Yes. I will drive the Baton into the water right where you are standing.”
“So the metal element dragon lives in the depths of the earth. …This is going to be destructive.”
“If I only had more power, I could have used a more peaceful method.”
“That’s not a very nice way of putting it. …But regardless, I had to send the four elements in advance to start up the metal dragon. I have no choice but to follow those fundamental rules.”
Double Lee laughed bitterly with no harshness in his expression.
Fei asked Genius something without looking away from Double Lee.
“How are your preparations going? …The preparations other than the charms.”
“J-Gun is working in the workshop below the Archs RDC building and the building is entirely empty. The contract is working perfectly.”
“Master Huang did a good job of setting everything up. We informed them in advance this land would be blown away, but in exchange for letting us go through with it, we gave them a portion of what we own in the foreign markets, not Hong Kong’s market.”
“A good decision,” said Fei without turning away from Double Lee. “Double Lee, you said that, when the Flight Song predicted the coming future, it did not match up with Hong Kong.”
“Eh? What are you talking about?”
Genius tilted her head and Double Lee smiled a little.
“That is what we were discussing. …So what about it, Fei?”
“How do you view President Huang’s instructions that continue to match up with Hong Kong even after his death?”
“They are the formula to reach the answer.”
“The answer? Is your answer the restoration of heaven?”
“Do we have anything else?”
“I am not talking about us. I am talking about you personally.”
“What about for you personally? Or for Genius personally? …No, not just that. That is what it was for Master Huang as well. And in the end, that objective is the one thing bringing us together.”
“I see. And you are fine with that?”
Double Lee’s answer made it sound like it was a stupid question.
“What else could there be?”
He also looked Fei in the eye.
For an instant, a metallic tone sounded in reality. The Lives of their gazes had collided.
Fei seemed to have lost to that sound because he looked away. His gaze wandered a bit before stopping on the Flight Song monument next to the spring.
“Double Lee,” he said. “You know everything, you have great power, and you desire something that we don’t more powerfully than we do anything. But you never try to fit in with us and people would likely call you…”
He thought for a moment.
Fei went on to add that he did not understand that kind of emotion.
No one said anything after that.
Double Lee and Genius did not agree with or deny it.
The wind simply blew.
That single word described the state of Akira’s apartment.
It was not that the entire apartment building had been destroyed. Her home – that is, her room – was the only one destroyed.
She noticed as soon as she unlocked and opened the door.
Light from the window reflected off the white porcelain fragments and rounded glass shards covering the old wooden flooring of the small kitchen.
The pieces of blackened boards in the shadows on the floor had originally been the cupboards and the toppled pillar by the wall was the refrigerator with its door torn off.
There was also graffiti spray-painted on the walls, broken lights, and every other kind of destruction imaginable.
As she muttered those words in the entranceway, the Lives remaining in the room stroked her cheeks.
Attracted by the outside wind, those residual Lives tried to escape the room. Their Word Color was the dark red of molten metal and the Tempo following that red was a loud, racing pulse.
These were Lives of hatred.
“With Lives this dense, several people must have done this.”
She weakly nodded in acceptance of what had happened.
“Because I’m a Nein Engel…they thought I was a part of my brother’s group.”
…They were taking revenge.
She also remembered the Lives of the patients staring at her in the hospital lobby.
Those had been lighter than the hatred left here, but they had still contained hostility.
She placed a hand on her chest to contain her rising pulse.
The Lives of hatred were disturbing her own Live.
She took two, then four deep breaths.
“This kind of thing happens all the time.”
As soon as she gave that emotionless comment, she noticed someone standing right next to her.
She had not expected them there.
She was shocked to find how defenseless she was and she reflexively reached for the Device at her waist.
She turned around and swiftly brought the person into view.
That was exactly who was there.
The middle-aged woman wearing a green dress was the landlord of Akira’s apartment and she peered into Akira’s room.
“Are you okay, Akira?”
“Yes, I’m fine. But…”
“That’s some rotten luck.”
“Yes, it is. …But who did this and why?”
“It’s unthinkable what happened to your room.” The landlord closed her eyes and gave a sympathetic nod. “I think it was the night two days after that new Divine Punishment War. That would be five days ago. A group showed up as they were preparing to flee to the mainland because of what happened to Hong Kong. …I think there were about twenty of them.”
“And they did all this?”
“I was shocked when I noticed the next morning, but I can’t tell you exactly what happened.”
“I suppose not.”
As she responded to the landlord, Akira realized her Live was oddly still.
…I’m trying to ignore the emotion of anger.
She felt bad doing this to the landlord, but she could see the woman’s Live.
She could not read it, but she could hear and see the Live coming from her body and that told her what emotions she was feeling.
The landlord’s Live was currently playing fast and yellow.
It was a Live of panic.
To be sure, Akira checked on the main entrance’s doorknob.
There was no sign of damage to the lock or of the doorknob being replaced.
Someone had led the destroyers into her home.
…This kind of thing happens all the time.
She accepted it with that thought.
She ignored the landlord who was continuing to talk next to her and she stepped into her own room.
She switched on the light out of habit and heard a sound much like tearing paper come from the ceiling.
The broken light had short-circuited.
“Well, you still have power here. …What will you do, Akira?”
“Maybe I should leave.”
“No, you can stay if you want. …We’ll be leaving this city, too.”
“Then what will happen here?” Akira turned around with a hand on the door leading to the living room in the back. “What will happen to this apartment?”
“Britain bought them all. They didn’t pay very much, though. …Still, I think we’ll be using that money to move to the mainland.”
Akira said nothing in response, but the landlord continued speaking.
“You probably haven’t heard, but the only things functioning in the city center are the emergency hospitals, the Yard, and some slight distribution of supplies. Everyone else has fled to the shelter in the New Territories.”
“They all fled?”
“Yes. The state set up a shelter – really just a tent city – in the New Territories twenty kilometers from here. There’s apparently a distribution center there, too.”
“VIPs from Britain and other countries are supposedly using that as their base. …You hear all the planes flying around, right? People are moving to other countries and that shelter is the only place where you can arrange for a flight out.”
“You’re running-…moving away, aren’t you?”
“Yes. My son and his wife have already gone there and we’re thinking of settling down in Broad City – Shanghai now that it’s been liberated. …The resident of the next room over and the Ban family down below are all doing the same.”
“This is the only place I have… Could I maybe stay?”
“That’s fine by me.” The landlord’s Live remained unchanged, but her tone grew brighter. “Think of it as making up for what happened to your room. At the very last, no one’s going to complain about someone living here for the week until Hong Kong is returned to China. If you like, why not move down into the Ban family’s room?”
Akira replied with silence.
She turned the doorknob and opened the way to the living room.
As soon as she did, she lost her sense of sight.
At first, she did not know what it was before her eyes.
It was darkness.
But it was not actual darkness. Light from the window was definitely filling the room.
That meant she was seeing Lives with a black Word Color that had the same density as darkness.
She instinctually drew back.
Drawn by her movement, the Lives filling the living room flowed out.
She pressed her shoulder against the side of the door so they would not touch her.
She squeezed her wings shut, crossed her arms tightly, and held her own body.
She saw the pitch black stream at her feet swell up like a swarm of snakes and swim outside.
…That’s an amazing amount of chaos.
The Word Color resembled the detonation of a Discord Bomb and its Tempo was not uniform. The Word Color that looked like darkness was probably formed from a variety of Word Colors packed together in the small room.
She could not see the individual emotions.
It was a disturbing mixture of Lives.
However, the room slowly came into view as they flowed outside.
“Is everything okay?” asked the landlord behind her.
…If everything was okay, there wouldn’t be any Lives like this left here.
She hung her head and glanced inside the room. The living room had doubled as her bedroom, but it was now utterly destroyed.
Books, glass shards, and scraps of cloth were strewn across the floor and the walls were covered in lacquer spray graffiti of colors reminiscent of internal organs.
These were the scars of revenge.
“I need to clean up.”
She took a step forward while ignoring all of the worried-sounding comments from the landlord behind her. She walked toward the back of the room where some of the darkness remained.
Her feet felt like lead weights.
Five hours went by.
Cleaning the room proved extremely difficult.
First of all, Akira had no cleaning supplies.
The vacuum cleaner had been thrown through the living room window and onto the balcony and the broom seemed to have been used as a weapon to destroy the room.
“Humans are so uncivilized.”
However, that light joke was not going to change the situation.
The resident of the neighboring room had apparently moved to the mainland, so she finally decided to enter that room through the window and borrow their cleaning supplies.
“Getting ready is a job in and of itself.”
As she began to clean, she noticed a few things.
“The city’s Live is so calm.”
There were barely any Lives being emitted even in the shopping district.
She could tell that by looking out the window.
Most of the stores there had no merchandise on the shelves. There was only the occasional shop with stocked shelves and the owner would be sitting alone by the street, looking bored.
“The channels of distribution have been cut off, haven’t they?”
She moved her gaze to the road down below.
There was dried mud and a thin coating of white powder on the asphalt.
She initially thought it was sand, but it was not.
It was salt.
The seawater had come this far.
When the dragons had flown, Hong Kong’s land had been torn away in the four cardinal directions and seawater had flowed into the crust.
There had been a large near-field earthquake and a hole five kilometers deep. The after effects had been devastating.
The coastal areas had collapsed like a landslide and then a thirty meter wall of water had crashed into it all.
“That’s probably what happened to most of the missing.”
As soon as she said that, she heard the air trembling in the distance from another airplane.
She ignored it and resumed cleaning her room.
She had already carried out or swept out the bed, the bedding slashed with a blade, the broken bookshelf, the torn books, and all the broken glass.
“I can’t believe this…”
There was no strength in her voice as she removed the broken lightbulbs.
“What happened to my sanxian and photo?”
She could not find the sanxian her father had given her or the only photograph she had of her family.
She cleaned every nook and cranny of the room and checked every splinter of wood and scrap of paper, but they were nowhere to be found.
…Were they thrown out the window?
The vacuum cleaner had been caught on the balcony, but the photo and sanxian may have fallen to the road.
…And if they did…
“I’d never find them.”
She sighed and walked to the kitchen holding a lightbulb that was really only the socket.
She threw it in a trash bag and drank some water.
Fortunately, the water purification plant was running, so the water was still clear.
She brought her mouth directly to the tap and drank the water.
“That’s a huge help.”
She took a breath and relished the cold dampness in her fairly dry mouth.
She worked to refresh her mood.
…I’ll find the photo and sanxian eventually.
She told herself to think positively and her eyes stopped on the water flowing down from the tap.
“I haven’t done that in a while.”
She normally did some Tune Education with water every morning, but she had not done it even once since being hospitalized.
…So it’s been a week.
“If I don’t keep practicing, I’ll never be like mom and the others.”
She opened up the tap even more and the water forcefully struck the sink.
The refreshing sound of impact rang throughout the kitchen.
As she listened to it, Akira grabbed the spear Device from her waist.
She unfolded the collapsible spear with practiced motions.
After a single metallic sound, the spear was complete.
It was a little long to swing around in the kitchen and she held it under her arm.
She breathed in, closed her eyes, and…
“Oh, you Lives with an Octave of 160,000, you laughter of flowing water. Can you hear my Live?”
She made her Wind Up.
She called in the Lives with the usual method and sang her own Live.
Hers began with “la”.
It had a white Word Color and a loud, gentle Tempo.
She created a Message with it.
The Message combined the spilling water with a flying bird.
She completed it all in an instant.
The water falling from the tap became a colorless bird.
It was a dove.
Its Live was dense for its size, so it had little of the water’s amorphousness.
It stepped up onto the edge of the sink and chirped.
“Just like always.”
She stroked the dove’s head and walked toward the entrance.
She stopped after three steps and threw open the door.
Several doves would fly from there every morning.
Anything transformed with Tuning would go where it could regain its original form.
The doves created from water Lives would always fly toward the sea.
This one was no different.
“Now, it’s time to leave.”
She gestured out the door and the dove flew that way.
It flew from the sink and flapped its wings well despite them hitting the wall.
Its flapping wings sounded loudly as it took a midair turn toward the main entrance.
It flew right past Akira’s eyes…and it burst.
The water scattered everywhere.
What had been a dove distorted and fell apart as if it had been hit by a rock.
She heard a sound just like pouring rain and water flew through the apartment hallway.
Akira’s legs and the hem of her skirt were wet.
The water was cold.
This was the blood of the dove she had created.
The dove was dead.
With the Device in one hand, she looked to her wet clothes and the wet hallway.
“What just happened?”
There was no need to ask; she already knew.
“I messed up…the Tuning?”
That was the only explanation, so she nodded.
“I can’t believe this. …I guess I’m a little rusty.”
She took a breath.
“I’ll take it a little more seriously this time. Yes.”
She shut the front door and held the Device tight in her hand.
Her eyes turned to the water pouring from the tap.
The water was the same as always.
It flowed the same as a week before and it contained the same Live.
…So why did I fail?”
Her expression was stiff as she asked herself that.
“I can’t believe this…. What could it be?”
As soon as she said those words, she began Tuning once more.
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