Hidan no Aria:Volume10 Epilogue
Epilogue: Go for the Next!! Impromptu Sisters -Belt Link-
The following morning, I woke up early after being disturbed by the flickering sunlight shining through the window.
Rubbing my eyes, I put on my shirt and pants before making my way into the living room.
The sight of Kaname on the balcony, dressed in her uniform, greeted my eyes.
Several gulls had gathered around her, though not because she was feeding them. Rather, she was frolicking with them cheerfully.
A blue sky and a blue ocean. White clouds and white birds.
And...a beautiful young girl with a blossoming smile, radiant under the morning light.
...What a picturesque scene. She almost seemed to sparkle vividly, and I found myself enchanted by the sight.
As I walked out onto the balcony-
Kaname softly spoke to the gulls, about to take flight at my disturbance,
"It's alright. There's nothing to be afraid of here."
As if they understood her words, the gulls changed their minds and continued to prowl the balcony.
"...You can talk to birds?"
"Nope. It's just a feeling."
With the sound of crashing waves coming from behind her, Kaname turned to me with a bitter smile on her face. It looks like she's calmed down.
Just like that, the two of us were bathed in the light of the morning sun.
"I'd thought...that Onii-chan didn't really know how to say no to anyone. I never would have guessed you were such a strong-willed person."
"To be honest, I don't have any memories of yesterday starting from when things started to get heated. However, I've checked myself, and it seems you didn't do a thing to me."
She forgot what happened yesterday?
"-After I entered Hysteria Mode, it was almost as if my brain switched over to another personality entirely. Although the effects appear to differ from person to person, but for me, the switch was pretty absolute."
Her explanation reminded me of Nii-san.
Once Nii-san enters Hysteria Mode, he truly becomes Kana, both body and soul. Once in that state, even if I were to call him "Nii-san", he wouldn't know I was addressing him.
It seems Kaname's Hysteria Mode carries similar side-effects.
That said, once he reverted back to his normal state, he retained all memories of his time as Kana. Subsequently, any time I brought up something related to Kana, he'd turn completely red before proceeding to give me a beating.
Kaname's case, however, seems to be even more inconvenient, as even now her memories of that time remain indistinct.
"...Onii-chan, forgive me."
Kaname's face filled with shame as she looked out at the ocean. Her blue eyes seemed lifeless and broken, as if she'd given up on everything.
"You probably think I'm gross, right? Someone like me just appearing out of nowhere, and saying over and over that I like you."
-Her beautiful face broke out in a twisted smile, bitter with self-loathing.
"Yesterday, as I experienced HSS for the first time in my life, though it lasted some few tens of minutes, years of thoughts seemed to run through my mind. As I pondered these things, I came to a realization. I...was never needed by Onii-chan."
"I...well, I had not the slightest understanding of how love truly worked. That's why I foolishly believed that if I just got rid of all the other girls, that if I had you all to myself...then you'd love me. I'd thought that as long as I could enter Hysteria Mode at will, as long as I could fulfill the duty GIII appointed to me, then I'd never have to see Los Alamos again. I was that desperate."
That's the place Watson had mentioned previously...
The research institute where GIII and GIV - Kaname - had been born and grown up in.
"The 'Los Alamos Elite Plan'...do you know of it, Onii-chan?"
"A little. I've looked a little into your past, after all. Its goal is to use science to create gifted individuals, right? If I remember correctly, they were called something like 'man-made geniuses'."
"That's just the name they used for appearance's sake. The real goal of Los Alamos was to create human weapons, the latest form of ultimate weapons."
"Humans with superhuman fighting abilities, each one capable of fighting a large force singlehandedly. The idea was to create a vast number of these individuals, and loose them on enemy countries to repeatedly and endlessly wreak havoc, assassinate VIPs, and thus bring about the destruction of those nations. This is the truth behind the so-called 'man-made geniuses': they are living weapons in all but name."
Destroy...countries...? America, have you gone mad?
I know you love war, but this is too much.
From Watson's description, were that GIII, who earned an R-rank designation, to take things seriously, it'd be enough to destroy a small country.
But a hundred of him? A thousand? Perhaps even a large country would fall to ruin before them.
That seems to be America's new form of suicidal terrorist tactics.
"The politics of nuclear disarmament and a reduction in defense spending have resulted in America seeking new angles in weapons research. The resulting research diverged into 92 different schemes, of which the Los Alamos Elite Plan is but one among many."
Kaname lightly swung her foot in the air, before continuing.
"I am the fourth of the G series, a line of genetically modified individuals in accordance with that plan, naught but a weapon, a product. From the very first moment I can remember, I already held a knife in my hands. The training we underwent made the war you see in movies seem but a passing amusement, but for me, such things were simply a part of daily life. Things that were deemed inhumane to perform on 'humans' were carried out time and again on we 'things'. Day in, and day out."
I thought back to the words Kaname had spoken back in the Logi parking structure,
"This kind of attack is something I've already experienced hundreds of times before during training."
"It's from that kind of place...that you escaped?"
"It was III who offered me freedom, along with others like us. All of those who escaped had been labeled as defective products, either to be 'discarded' elsewhere or brought back for 'repair'."
At these words which weren't normally used in the context of describing people, I furrowed my brow.
"With III at our head, we struggled desperately and prevailed. Because I was still growing, I couldn't do a thing to help. Nevertheless, because I carried within me the potential that HSS bears, the potential to become a warrior of standing, III did not abandon me."
"I've long dreamed of learning how to unlock the potential hidden with my HSS genes, of showing their worth. If I can't do that, then as far as III is concerned, I have no worth. Those without value are not allowed to continue under his protection. Such is his way."
"I already know far too much concerning III. If he finds out I, too, am a worthless existence...then it won't be long before he comes to claim my life. And I...won't try to stop him. There's no way I'd oppose someone so much stronger than me, it'd be simply irrational."
"That GIII, back in the Shinagawa Geofront, did he not declare himself a Butei? What's more, he's said he will not kill."
At my words, Kaname laughed lightly.
"-You don't understand; I'm not a person. Anyway, even if he doesn't kill me...if he abandons me, then there's nothing I can do to escape from those who America will send. At long last, I'll be sent back to the institute to be 'repaired'...This, I always feared...And yet..."
Once more, Kaname showed forth a twisted smile.
"And yet, in the end, I never became strong. You saw it clearly yesterday, didn't you, Onii-chan? My HSS is the kind that turns you weak...From the standpoint of one whose sole purpose behind creation was the notion that HSS would make me strong, I'm a complete and utter failure. With nothing left to 'fix', that leaves only 'discarding', right?"
"Discarding...you mentioned that word earlier, don't tell me...?"
"-It means I'll be killed. If they feel money's a concern, it'll probably be poison gas or something similar."
"Don't look like that. This is fate."
As I watched Kaname, who stood before me, gaze out across the ocean as she simultaneously ridiculed herself while forcing a smile-
Felt a deep-seated fury flare up within the depths of my heart.
Though I felt that her situation was indeed pitiful, nevertheless, my feelings of rage far outweighed any feelings of sympathy.
Tsuzuri-sensei of Masters had previously commented that my personality was such that I tried to maintain my distance from others. That's why I normally wasn't the kind of person to get angry on behalf of others.
And yet...as I looked at Kaname, I couldn't help but have my emotions be stirred up.
Because...when I look at her, all I see is myself-
Forced into battle, time and again, and all because of this thrice-cursed "Hysteria Mode" ability.
Hearing the deep emotion in my voice as I called out to her, she spun around.
"Before...when I gave you a name, were you not so happy that you broke into tears? Was that not because you did not believe yourself to be some sort of human weapon?"
"That...was because I wanted to believe it, wanted to dream that sweet dream. But reality isn't so forgiving. I was born in a research institute, and so it is my fate to be a tool of the military..."
"Where you were born is meaningless! There's no way in hell something as stupid as that determines a person's destiny!"
Right now, I am decidedly not under the influence of Hysteria Mode, and so I find myself unable to speak to girls in that gentle, considerate tone.
Nonetheless, I think that...
...right now, this is what's needed.
I'm going to bare my thoughts, and give it to her straight.
"What we mean by 'person'...is someone who, by their own strength, with their own hands, scraps that bullshit we call fate! From what you've just said - whether it be the stuff about that research institute or helping III - aren't you the one throwing your life in the hands of others!? Look at you! You're, um...beautiful, smart, athletic! Someone like you has no need for someone like GIII to save you, you can save yourself!"
"I can't do it by myself. Someone like me with neither nationality nor even human rights needs to be protected by someone. And if I want someone to help to me, then I need to be of value to them. The only one who's ever recognized my worth is III. Even though even that turned out to be a lie..."
"-You've got it all backwards!"
As I scolded Kaname, my voice took on a tone increasingly like my brother's, when he'd reprimand me.
"If you want others to acknowledge, you first have to acknowledge yourself! That's the first thing about being a person! Anyway, you're wrong about one thing...I acknowledge you. Did I not just praise you? Did I not just say you were smart and your athleticism's a sight to see? I wasn't just saying it; I really meant it, from the bottom of my heart."
At my screaming, Kaname's round eyes grew larger.
"-I think you also know, but I had a kouhai check up on you. Although, to be honest, I already knew - you're an amazing person. You're not just openly welcomed by the first years, you know what the second years call us? 'Brilliant sister, moronic brother'."
Having carelessly spoken something I'd rather have had remained hidden, I gave a small cough before continuing.
"...Although of course it's nice to have someone to rely on, don't think for a second you can't go on without it. That's what we call becoming 'dependent'. It doesn't matter who, everyone has things they have to overcome on their own, and for you, this is it."
As I spoke, the feeling she gave off, of someone I couldn't leave alone, reminded me of Reki.
I don't think it's even something she's doing intentionally...but, without a doubt, including those she's mimicked before - Aria, Shirayuki, and Riko, now her repertoire even includes Reki's distinctive traits. Just how many of my weak spots does this girl need to hit before she's satisfied?
"I think what Onii-chan's said is right...but still-"
Kaname seemed to nod slightly before lowering her head, mumbling quietly, as her body trembled lightly.
Her fragile appearance was reminiscent of an orphan with nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to.
As if worrying, the seagulls all turned to watch her.
"...I don't get it. If I leave III, then where am I supposed to go...? Why was I born? Just who...am I...?"
Covering her face in those snow white hands...
She began to softly weep.
This was finally an action appropriate for her age, befitting a junior high school girl.
This girl just loved to cry.
No, actually I should be the one in the wrong here, as the one who made her cry. Since I was speaking to a girl younger than me, perhaps I shouldn't have spoken quite so harshly? Man, I'm just not any good when it comes to talking to women.
...Thinking quietly to myself, and scratching my head in embarrassment...
I saw Kaname's eyes, peeking through the cracks in her fingers, slowly turn to me.
Through this small action, her thoughts were conveyed to me, and I more or less understood what it was she wanted to say.
Sigh...there's no two ways about this.
I had, after all, made her cry on more than one occasion already.
Maybe this would serve as my atonement. An apology was a small enough thing for me to do, and moreover, the right thing to do.
"Until you find your answer, just stay by my side."
Even though I felt like I was a bit of a victim of circumstance here-
But, the fact of the matter was, I had no defense against a girl's tears. That time with Aria stood as a perfect example.
These few days, I'd learned the lesson anew from my time with Kaname. When it comes to women, I have three weaknesses: tears, fragrance, and...and, er, what was it? Oh, right, thighs. I'd better watch out for them in the future.
As I was lost in thought-
Kaname suddenly grabbed me in a hug.
Even though the position we now found overselves in was exactly like the one in the locker room previously...things couldn't be more different. She couldn't be more different.
She'd become, in truth, a pure, innocent, and fragile maiden.
Her virtuous innocence, having come at a time when my mind was fraught with impure thoughts, filled me with shame, and my cheeks flushed in embarrassment.
"The circumstances behind your Hysteria Mode will die with me. To be honest, even the existence of my own Hysteria Mode I've long kept hidden from everyone. That's why, this will be our little secret, okay?"
"Our little secret..."
Kaname gleefully repeated my words, nodding her head with an "Nn, nn", while never lifting her head, buried in my chest, so much as an inch.
She certainly seems to enjoy clinging to me like this...
As I lightly patted her on the back to help her calm down, she wept tears of joy-
"...Onii-chan...is really such a kind person. Onii-chan, and only Onii-chan, will never reject me. I, I..."
Her heart touched, Kaname raised her head to look at me, and seeing my cheeks red...
Her cheeks reddened as well.
It seems like that strange switch of hers has just been flipped on...
"Hmm? Why don't you let go of me? Let's head back in and eat breakfast, alright?"
"I know...my feelings are one-sided. But, I beg you, let me just say this once more, do this once more."
There it is. Kaname-sama's prided conversational skill.
Anytime she says "just this once", a red flag is waved in my mind.
Although I haven't the slightest clue what it is she wants to say, or do, but still, I'd better end this conversation as soon as possible.
Just as I was about to cut her off by saying "Well, then let's hurry and-", she instead interrupted me, saying,
"-I honestly, sincerely love you, Onii-chan."
After she spoke, she tilted her head slightly, and-
Just like Aria, stretched forward, and with a speed surpassing Aria's-
Kissed me on the lips.
Given the present atmosphere, the last thing I wanted to do was push her away, so I waited a few seconds before-
We parted lips. I quickly covered my mouth as if to say, "okay, that's it."
Seeing my reaction, Kaname laughed lightly, and said, "Onii-chan, you're so red! So cute!"
As if no longer able to stand the sight of this flirtatious couple, one after another, the gulls took wing into the morning sky.
Their flapping wings sounded an applause. Their snow-white feathers danced in the air.
(Oh...that's right. This time also...)
I realized that this time as well, Hysteria Mode had failed to show itself.
Even though it wasn't the case that I couldn't do so because of her...
But still, it wasn't an easy thing. Harder than for anyone else, anyway. Even for a girl as cute as she was.
It looked to be the same for Kaname. It seems things need to reach a certain degree before anything happens.
Just what is the root of this phenomenon?
As I sunk deep into my thoughts, pondering this mystery-
My train of thought was cut short by a loud burst of metallic sound, almost like the coiling of a gigantic spring.
"Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit wasn't just once, but twiiiiiiiiiice!"
A fierce sound, like the bellowing of a crazed bull pierced through the air like a siren.
A mysterious wind blew towards the balcony from inside.
I, I forgot...!
Although I was the one who'd called her over, but because of the stuff with Kaname, I'd completely forgotten-
Forgotten that Kaname aside, there was still another, yet one more who would break out into a murderous rage at the drop of a hat!
Almost like a robot whose rusting joints hadn't been oiled in ages, I slowly turned my head around. Sure enough...
Shirayuki, wearing a terrifying expression not unlike that of a fierce Nio statue, stood in the living room.
It, it was a person wholly unlike the Shirayuki I'd called to Odaiba. Needless to say, it was Kuroyuki who'd appeared.
As if the menacing, dark aura pouring out from her weren't threatening enough...
Far more threatening was watching Shirayuki, dressed in her school uniform, easily wielding her M60 machine gun with a single hand, and taking aim at both Kaname and I.
"To go so far as to do it with Kin-chan-sama twice! That's more than me! How envious!"
Sprouting from the side of her M60's belt feed near her back, was a glittering bandolier of 7.62mm NATO rounds arrayed in a metallic, split-link belt, unwinding like a scroll.
In an effort to avoid jamming, the ribbon-like bandolier was laid out horizontally across her other arm, flowed over to her feet, where it lay coiled in several loops, continued past her white socks...and into her skirt.
Just...just how many bul-, no, hundreds of bullets is that!?
At that moment-
From by my side-
A second dark and murderous aura began to flow forth.
Still clinging to me, Kaname stared daggers at Shirayuki.
"Are you trying to steal Onii-chan from me?"
This, this one's changed too!
This is that horrifying, knife-wielding Kaname!
From among the three personalities she has, her channel's been flipped to number two- the most formidable Kaname-san.
"-That's what I want to say! Even if you are my younger sister, once you violate family rules, then it's time for punishment! Punishment, punishment, I say!"
That notwithstanding, even in this crazy circumstances, Shirayuki still seems to have remained every bit the Butei.
From what she just said, it seems she's carrying out my request, and is fully engaged in her role as my "other sister".
"Stop interrupting me and Onii-chan! It's time for you to go, Onee-chan!"
As if to stand guard over me, Kaname jumped in front of me, her bangs swaying.
Suddenly catching sight of a rather odd shadow, I turned my head-
And saw an X-shaped strip of cloth, floating in the air. Its blade-like edges capable of serving as a bulletproof shield, it hovered dangerously in the air behind us.
My house always seems to erupt in war.
Shirayuki and Kaname, these temporary sisters, glared at one another with outrage evident in their expressions.
"Onee-chan, you've already lost to me once already. Don't tell me you think you can win? That's just too irrational."
"Kaname, you still have much to learn. You should check the concentration of Riri particles at least once a night."
"What can I say? At night, Onii-chan-sama doesn't give me an~y time to rest~"
Kaname revealed an impish grin as she mimicked Shirayuki's double honorific style.
"What did you say!? D....D....D-...!"
The barrel of her M60 trembled as Shirayuki, shrieking enigmatically-
Appeared to have something awaken deep within her, as her eyes opened wide with a seemingly audible snap!. Holy crap, that's scary.
Her cherry red lips were held open, mouth agape and twitching...Ugh, I should have known better than to read her lips. Shirayuki-san was continuously mouthing "I'll. Kill. You.", although in her extreme rage, no sounds left her mouth.
"Kaname! In this world, there are things that siblings can do, and things they can never do! What are you, some kind of animal!?"
And waving around a machine gun like a madman in someone else's house is a thing you "can do", Shirayuki!?
"A...a duel! As long as it's a duel, even accidental deaths are okay! What matters here is, in order to ensure the stability of the Tohyama house, and to afterwards guarantee the peace of our everyday lives, this duel is unavoidable!"
Bandolier in hand, Shirayuki's mouth seemed almost to spit fire as she screamed.
"Ka, kakakaka, KANAME! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A DUEL! As Kin-chan-sama's fiancée, I challenge you to a duel!"
Uh...Shirayuki-san? I'm very grateful that you were willing to accept my request, and pretend to be a member of my family...
But uh...is it just me or has the SETTING COMPLETELY CHANGED!?
Go For The Next!
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