OmaeGotoki: Volume 3 009 - Gears That Refuse To Mesh
When Eterna returns to the house that night, she doesn’t even try to explain herself. The next morning, when Milkit heads downstairs to prepare breakfast, she finds a note on the dining room table.
[Going out. Be back later. Don’t worry.]
Seeing those words written in Eterna’s hand, Milkit rushes upstairs to wake Flum. When Flum reads it, she puts her head in her hands.
“I never thought Eterna would just leave without a word like that…”
She sits on the edge of the bed, trying to figure out what they should do now. Satils alone left her head about ready to burst, so it’s impossible for her to think of a decent plan now.
“Given this timing, Necromancy is likely involved somehow.”
“Yeah, the morning after those mystery guests came in… It can’t be a coincidence.”
Just as Nekt said, the Church has made their move, dividing their forces quickly and efficiently by using the dead.
As Flum continues to think, someone knocks on the door to their room.
“Can I come in?”
“Ink? Sure, but…”
The door opens and the blind little girl walks in, sensing their presences to get closer to them.
“Are you sure you should be leaving your room like this, Ink-san?”
“Eterna told me I shouldn’t, but since she’s gone I don’t wanna just sit there doing nothing.”
“So you heard…”
“Yeah, but before that I noticed her going out when it was still dark.”
“She left that early?”
Milkit wakes up extremely early in the morning --- waking up before then would mean effectively waking up in the middle of the night.
“Where could she be going that she’d want to keep such a secret from us?”
“Hey, let’s eat first. I don’t think we’ll think of anything good on an empty stomach.”
Ink probably only says that because she’s hungry, but it might serve to get their minds off things for a while. They decide to move downstairs to the dining room first.
Descending the stairs, they find---
“Hey. I just let myself in.”
Nekt sits comfortably in one of the dining room chairs, and seeing them he gives them a casual wave.
“Why’re YOU here!?”
Flum quickly steps forward, drawing her sword.
“Hold on a minute there. I thought you might be having a little trouble, so I came to give you a hand. Hey, Ink. It’s been a while. How’re you doing?”
“Nekt… I’m fine.”
Ink answers ambiguously. Nekt lets out a pleased little laugh.
“Didn’t I tell you? Eterna Rinebow is at risk.”
“You knew this would happen?”
“Nah, I guessed. I think the choice was hers in the end. Daffyd Sharmas is soft like that --- though I guess that worked to his advantage this time.”
Gadio and Eterna were swayed by his words precisely because he was so honest and upright with them. His words and mannerisms were one thing, but the most important thing was the ‘aura’ he gave off, something he couldn’t have faked if he wanted to. That alone won their trust.
“Do you know who she’s with right now?”
“Sorry. I told you, we’re not on good terms with Necromancy. Daffyd did take an old couple here yesterday, though, so they were probably her grandparents or something.”
That would fit with what Ink told them about the visitors.
So the visitors were that old couple and Daffyd Sharmas, then…
“But I guess even the Chosen are human in the end, huh? I’ve gotta admit, I thought Necromancy was a stupid idea from the start. I thought just bringing someone to life was a waste of Papa’s power. Boy, was I wrong! I didn’t realize you humans were so absorbed in the past that you’d throw away your futures like that! She even forgot about you and Ink!”
“...I hope you’re not here to invite me to join you again.”
Flum glares at him dauntlessly.
Nekt only scoffs, as if he can see right through her.
“Because you think you still have Gadio Ruskett, right?”
“!? …Don’t tell me Gadio-san, too!?”
She can’t hide her surprise. Pleased with her reaction, Nekt’s look turns degrading as he laughs.
“All I can say is he abandoned that woman who’s so fond of him and her kid. Same as Eterna, huh?”
“Don’t yell at me, oneesan, it’s not my fault. Not. My. Fault. Glaring at me’ll get you nowhere. I don’t know the details, but he left with some lady in her thirties. Think she was his girlfriend? His sister?”
It was Tia, no doubt about it.
He’s devoted his everything since her death to avenging her --- seeing her alive must’ve destroyed his resolve. Flum could believe he’d leave Kereina and Hallom for her. Some might blame him for succumbing to temptation, but Flum understands how he feels.
“So what’s your move, Flum-oneesan? You’re all alone now, and worse you’ve got to protect those worthless humans with you. Think you can do it? It went well for you last time, sure, but you were only fighting trash like Dane who didn’t even have Papa’s power. Do you really think it’ll go so smoothly next time?”
Flum has a pretty good idea of how strong she is right now. The place where Gadio and Eterna were taken is an active lab, a place with more Origin Cores than she’s probably ever seen before. She doesn’t stand a chance against them --- not against Necromancy, or even the boy in front of her for that matter.
If I’m going to protect them, then…
“Hmmm? You’re really not sure even after being cornered this far?”
Nekt crosses his arms, clearly quite intrigued.
“You can’t expect me to decide so easily…!”
“It’s not a bad offer. I don’t mind if you help me or not, so if you’re going to be so reluctant about it we can just pretend we never had this conversation. All I need is for you to be there, really.”
“This is all part of Mother’s plan, is it?”
“Nope --- this is my idea and mine alone.”
“Wait, so Mother has nothing to do with this? The other Children are also out?”
“Ahh, I guess I didn’t mention that. I’m not asking you to team up with the Children, I want you to team up with me. Mother and Papa don’t care either way, and the other Children don’t know I’m here. That changes things, doesn’t it? All you have to do is nod and you’ll earn yourself a powerful ally, if only for a little while. No risk, high return.”
There’s no way that’s possible. There has to be some reason Nekt is doing this, and any gain for him means a gain for the Church, which is bad news for her.
Milkit clutches at the hem of her clothes uneasily as she watches Flum think it over.
Ink hasn’t moved from the beginning until now, facing the ground with a dark expression. For her, it was probably more shocking to hear Eterna abandoned her than having Nekt suddenly show up like this.
“I guess I’ll take that as a no, then. It looks like I’ll be going alone.”
She knows she’s playing right into his hands, but she has no choice but to stop him from leaving.
“All you want is to crush Necromancy, right? You won’t hurt Milkit or Ink?”
“You’re one thing, but I have nothing to gain by killing them. I’d rather spend my energy on something more useful.”
He’s likely telling the truth. If he wanted he could kill them all right now, or he could even abduct Ink if he felt like it.
That definitely doesn’t mean Flum can trust him, though. She’ll probably never figure out what he’s really after at this rate.
She’ll have to compromise.
As powerless as she is, she can’t afford to be picky.
“So? What’ll it be, oneesan? Are you going to join me or aren’t you?”
Convinced that he’s won, he gives her an openly mocking smile.
After all her worries, she’s just about to agree to his proposal when---
A lax, carefree voice comes from the front foyer. A moment later, a certain girl pokes her head into the dining room. All four of their gazes fix on her. Flum, Milkit, and Ink are one thing, but even Nekt freezes at the sight of her.
“There’s a Child here? Uwah, what’s going on?”
Eterna doesn’t act at all fazed, however --- in fact, she’s the only one who manages to stay calm.
“T-That’s my line! Why’re you here instead of with Daffyd, Eterna-san!?”
“Yeah! I thought you talked with him and those old people yesterday!”
Flum and Ink start questioning her in unison.
“Ah. You noticed. Sorry I didn’t say anything sooner. I decided not to go. I already went to their graves and said goodbye, after all. Living here with you is more important to me.”
“Eterna… Uuu… Eternaaa!”
Voice trembling, Ink leaps into Eterna’s arms. Eterna catches her, gently stroking her soft black hair.
“…You thought I left you? Without finishing your treatment?”
“Anyone would be worried if they saw the note you left!”
Even Milkit raises her voice.
“Mu. Never thought I’d get scolded by Milkit. Sorry. I was planning to come right back so I thought that was enough.”
“Where’d you even go, Eterna-san?”
“The next town over. I went to see their graves --- my ‘parents’ Kinder and Claudia Rinebow.”
“You should’ve met them face-to-face already! Didn’t you realize there weren’t any bodies there!?”
“Nn. The bodies were gone. There were signs they’d been dug up. Recent signs.”
Eterna’s gaze hardens.
“Those bastards defiled their graves to get to me. They were finally sleeping, and the Church went and used them for some experiment. They dishonoured the dead. That was enough to stop trusting Daffyd.”
“Kh… You guys are more --- no, just as fixated on stupid platitudes as I thought!”
At the unexpected arrival of Eterna, the tables have suddenly turned.
“Maybe. I’m probably more of a romantic than I think. That’s not bad, though. It keeps life interesting.”
“Ha… You make me sick, seriously…!”
He gives a surrendering laugh, the strength leaving his shoulders. Flum gives him a puzzled look.
“You know there’s no point trying to convince me now that Eterna’s back, right?”
“Of course I do.”
“Shouldn’t you be going, then?”
“Heh… I could take you alone no problem, but I’d have a rough time against the two of you at once, that’s for sure.”
He makes no move to leave, however. If he felt like it he could probably ‘connect’ himself out of there in an instant.
His words giving away no more than they did before, a single possibility pops into Ink’s head. She knows that he wouldn’t admit it even if she’s right, but she can’t stop herself from asking nonetheless.
“Maybe… Did you really come to talk to Flum, Nekt? You didn’t come to see me?”
“Haa!? Why the hell would I do that!? Why would I get all hung-up on a worthless piece of trash like you!?”
“But you feel kinda different… You’re kinda angry, huh?”
“I was just ticked that she wasn’t deciding fast enough is all.”
“No, not that kinda angry… I think you’re angry at someone else. You sounded kinda lonely…”
“Ha, since when did you become my counsellor!? Why would I feel like that!? Until that witch came I was winning!”
“...You’re afraid of being abandoned.”
Eterna mumbles barely loud enough to hear, and he glares daggers at her.
“You can’t prove---”
“Mother abandoned Ink. It felt too sudden to be her love running out.”
Eterna didn’t see it herself, of course, but she heard all about it from Ink afterwards. Until the moment before Ink was abandoned, Mother acted just like a true parent. The second he decided Ink was useless, however, he suddenly started acting like a different person entirely, as if everything before then was only an act.
“Ink’s abandonment had nothing to do with family issues. He didn’t need her anymore.”
As if saying she disagrees, however, Eterna hugs Ink a little tighter.
“So? What’s your point?”
“The Church has three teams for competition’s sake. Necromancy succeeded in bringing back the dead. They’re close to winning. Chimaera is probably doing well, too. The Children are inefficient. They took almost a decade to make you.”
“But they succeeded, didn’t they? I’m living proof of that!”
“There are only four of you. You’re only as strong as Gadio or I, too. You can’t kill demons.”
The more Eterna talks, the more nervous Nekt becomes.
Maybe he feels insulted, or maybe she’s right---
“I don’t think you’re the final version. You’re the Second Generation. There might be a Third and Fourth Generation next. When they’re born --- Mother will abandon you. Like he abandoned Ink.”
Nekt sighs, narrows his eyes, then falls silent. Then, giving them a powerless smile, he gives them a dismissive shrug.
“Seriously… I don’t care how imaginative you are, you can’t just make baseless claims like that. Why should I be afraid of something stupid like that? I’m not a failure! Papa still loves me!”
“Just shut up! You could never know how I feel!”
“I know. I’m the same. I was also a test subject.”
Nekt is struck speechless. Even Flum and Milkit open their eyes in shock. Only Ink doesn’t give a big reaction, having heard Eterna’s age a little while ago, but even she’s surprised.
“What do you mean, you’re a test subject!?”
“I grew up in the slums fifty years ago. I never knew my parents. I was abducted and taken here for experiments.”
“Wait, so this house… used to be one of the Church’s research facilities…!?”
“More like where the experimentee children lived. Our caretakers, the research’s team’s leaders, were the Rinebow couple.”
Eterna begins to tell them about what happened back then, giving Flum and the others a summary of what she went through.
How she was part of an experiment to create humans with Magic as high as the demons.
How back then the Kingdom knew next to nothing about human experimentation and countless children lost their lives under the knife.
How Claudia gave her the name Eterna from ‘eternal’, hoping that she would live even a little longer than the others.
How the experiments succeeded, and Eterna ended up with an inhumanly long lifespan and exceptionally high Magic.
How the inefficiency of the experimentation lead to the project getting cancelled and Eterna herself was to be disposed of.
How Kinder and Claudia let her escape, and how she lived alone in the mountains as a ‘witch’ until she returned to the Capital only recently---
Nekt sits and dedicatedly listens to her every word without saying a thing in response.
“We knew it’d all be over if we were abandoned. We tried to be good because of that. Kinder and Claudia were nice, though, so we didn’t have to worry. But if they were like Mother --- we would’ve probably lost our place. Been abandoned. We would’ve clung to any chance of survival --- even an enemy.”
He has no response for that. He simply stares blankly at the wall, lost in thought.
“Hey, Nekt. Something you said earlier kinda stood out to me…”
Flum asks him something this time.
“You said ‘Mother and Papa don’t care either way’, right? Maybe because of what Eterna said just now, I get that Mother is probably focusing on the Third Generation right now. But you mentioned ‘Papa’ --- err, Origin too, so does that mean…?”
“Papa’s really busy right now, but… Yeah, you’re right. Before I came here, Papa didn’t say a thing to me.”
Nekt had let it slip earlier.
Origin wouldn’t shut up because Nekt was busy --- just like Mother, it must be abandoning the Second Generation Children, too.
“I know how it feels to worry like that… To be afraid that the only person you can truly rely on will abandon you.”
“Ugh, now even the slave’s taking pity on me?”
“You’re also pitying me, aren’t you, Ink? Haha, how disgusting! I was only trying to manipulate Flum-oneesan a little… how’d it come to this?”
They can tell that he’s only bluffing --- and because of that he only bluffs more.
Ink addresses him in a serious tone, making sure to keep any pity out of her voice.
“You wanna make Mother happy by crushing Necromancy for her, huh?”
“C’mon, Ink, that’s only assuming the Third Generation even exists!”
“If that’s why you’re here… If you ask nicely, Flum and Eterna might help you.”
“Ha… ahaha, what’s that supposed to be, a joke!? Hahaha, ahahahahahahahaha!!”
He puts a hand to his face, laughing uncontrollably, cackling as if it were the funniest thing in the world.
“It’s all the same in the end! Besides, why would you do something stupid like help me!? I’m your enemy!”
“I’d be fine with that.”
In response to Flum’s words, Nekt’s eyes open wide as he stares at her through the gaps between his fingers.
“What’d you say…?”
“I’m saying I’ll help you.”
“That’s crazy talk, oneesan! That’s going beyond just being nice! Y-You can’t just go saying things like that!”
He goes past anger, half-laughing and half-screaming, but Flum remains calm.
“I’m not trying to be nice. I think I can believe that the Children and Necromancy are enemies, and now I actually know what you’re after yourself. Because of that, I’m ready to join forces with you if you are. After all, I can’t see Mother deciding you’re still useful as being bad for us.”
“But that doesn’t mean…!”
“Besides, we don’t know where Necromancy’s lab is, or where Gadio went. You have an idea, right?”
“...Something like that, yeah.”
“In that case, we have something to gain. Win-win. That doesn’t mean I’m going to trust you, of course, and we’ll still have to fight to the death later, but if it’s only a temporary truce---”
She holds out her hand to him.
“I’m really fine with that.”
Even without being told, he knows that she’s waiting for a handshake to seal the deal.
“You’re all idiots! The hell are you saying… You were this way with Ink, too. How’re you guys so… so…!”
He clenches his teeth noisily, maybe from hatred, maybe anger, maybe envy. Even Nekt himself doesn’t know what he’s thinking, his normal train of thought completely derailed.
Just like Flum says, they have a lot to gain from working together and little to lose. He certainly wasn’t expecting this, though.
Or maybe --- maybe somewhere deep down, ever since he saw her save Ink, he knew that something like this might happen. With everything that’s been happening to him recently, what happened to Ink might just happen to him next. Maybe he was hoping that they’d do the same for him, that he’d be saved in the end…
His pride refuses to accept that, however.
No, no, no…! I… WE are the special ones, the only ones who can really use Papa’s power! Like I’d ever come crying to her like some human child…!
Nekt is still far too immature to understand that there are times that pride can do nothing but hurt.
“So, Nekt, why don’t you---”
“Like I could accept that!! Connection!!”
His face twists, and clenching his fist he uses Origin’s power to ‘connect’ himself with somewhere else and teleport away.
“Maybe it was too much.”
“Just when it seemed like we’d be able to talk with him, too… What a shame.”
In the end, they weren’t even able to ask him where Gadio went --- though that wasn't the only reason they offered to help him, of course.
“By the way, Flum. What’s this about Gadio?”
Eterna doesn’t know about Gadio’s wife or his relationship with Kereina and Hallom. Flum doesn’t want to spill all his secrets there without him, but with things as they are Eterna needs to know the truth.
“The truth is---”
After Flum finishes telling Eterna all that she knows, she replies with an “I see...” in a low voice.
“I didn’t go with Daffyd because I was too heartless to.”
“What are you---!?”
Flum protests, but Eterna cuts her off with a shake of her head.
“Fuu… I was only with my parents for a few years. I lived without them for decades. I said my goodbyes. I left the past behind. Gadio --- he’s different. He still feels for her, tried to take revenge for her.”
“I can understand why Gadio was so tempted, yeah… That just goes to show how much he loved her.”
“We can’t leave him be, though.”
“I wish we’d at least asked Nekt where their lab is…”
“It’s too late for that. We just have to figure it out ourselves now.”
“Yeah, I guess. I think I’ll start by going to his house and checking things out there. Nekt wasn’t lying, I don’t think, but I’d like to be sure.”
“Where should I go?”
“Ink still can’t go outside, so I think you should stay here with her.”
Ink broke her promise and broke quarantine, after all. Especially since it hasn’t been long since her heart transplant, there’s still a chance she could take a turn for the worse.
“I’ve prepared for anything bad that might happen. If I’m with her she’s fine outside.”
“No pushing yourself, though. Definitely no running.”
Eterna lectures her a little, and Ink nods so vigorously in response she practically bounces. It’s hard to tell if she heard a thing Eterna said.
“There. We can help.”
“Okay… Could I get you to go and have a word with Welthy-san, then? There’s a chance she sniffed something out already. She should be at the newspaper she works for right now.”
“Reach’s sister… Got it.”
After deciding a time and place to reconvene, the four of them leave the house.
Beneath the Capital, at the end of a labyrinth of waterways, lies a facility that seems oddly out of place with the surrounding architecture. It’s a ruin of times long passed, an ancient and highly advanced civilization --- and it also happens to be the Children’s new hideout.
“Mother, Motheeer! I’m sorry if I did something bad! Just answer me, please! Please…!”
Fwiss of the Spiral Children is on the verge of tears as he pounds on a certain door. Thud-thud, thud-thud --- he isn’t hitting the door very hard but his hands are glistening with blood after being at it for two whole hours.
“Did you want us to kill them after all? I worked really hard when we were moving, though! I did everything you told me to, Mother!”
The weak-willed Fwiss is far more dependant on Mother than the other Children. After Gadio destroyed their old hideout and forced them into hiding down there, Mother hasn’t paid hardly any attention to the Second Generation Children, nor has she even told them why.
Fwiss is at his nerves’ end, terrified that the same thing that happened to Ink might happen to the rest of them.
“I’m back… uwah.”
Nekt ‘connects’ to the hideout, only to find Rook glaring daggers at him from where he sits slumped against the wall.
“Where were you, dammit!?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes. Mother, abandon us. Scary. Bad. Gotta apologize…”
A white-haired little girl clutches a beat-up antique doll to her chest as she reprimands him.
“If apologizing was going to get us anywhere, Mute, Mother would’ve noticed Fwiss by now.”
“Oh yeah? Maybe it’s because you lied and went off to who-knows-where that she’s angry at us!?”
“You’ve got the order all wrong. I left because all this is happening.”
“What the hell were you doing, though? Don’t tell me you’re just like Ink…!?”
“As if I’d ever stoop to the level of those mere humans. Just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean we could ever understand each other.”
“Hmph. As long as you get it.”
To the quiet, mysterious Mute and the rough little Rook, Mother is their whole world. Worse, they don’t see a single problem with their overdependence --- just as Mother had raised them.
“Motheer! Please! I’m so lonely I could die! I’ll drink my medicine! I’ll take my shots like a good boy! Please, Mother… Motheeer…!”
Fwiss’ voice is starting to grow hoarse from all his screaming.
Finally, though, he seems to get through to Mother. The metal door smoothly slides open, revealing him standing there.
He grabs Fwiss’ head and drives his knee into the boy’s nose. Fwiss’ head snaps back and he stumbles backwards a few steps. He manages to avoid falling over somehow, but half his face in stained bright red with a vicious nosebleed.
“Agh, hyugh… Mother… Why…?”
“You just don’t know when to shut up, do you, you little brat!?”
Next, he punches Fwiss in the face.
“Hagh… Mother… I only…!”
“I told you, didn’t I? I’m reeeeeally busy right now so I don’t have time for you!”
“Y-Yeah, but I was lonely…”
“You interfered with my research because of something stupid like that!?”
He grabs Fwiss by his green hair and starts slamming his face into the wall.
“I was finally, FINALLY making progress! What is it!? Did you forget that you exist only for my research!? Hmm? Is that it!? Is it!?”
Fwiss’ consciousness begins to rapidly fade, and losing control over his body he wets himself.
Mother, not seeming to care, continues to beat him.
Nekt’s body trembles with fear.
I-I’ve got to do something… But Mother… Mother…!
The Children know they shouldn’t oppose her --- that they can’t. That’s why Nekt tried to get help from the outside.
There’s nobody else there, however. Nobody can stop Mother, not Rook, not Mute, not even Nekt.
“Inspiration! Thanks to those infernal Chosen I finally have the inspiration I needed! Trembling, tingling, like lightning through my brain! Hehe! That, that feeling is still there! I can still feel the high! My head’s ringing with that pleasure, that ecstasy! This is divine inspiration, I can feel it!! Divine, you hear me!? If you get in the way it’ll all come to nothing! Do you want that!?”
“Hyahugh… s-sorr… Hygah…”
“Ahh… hahh… fuu… Really, you’re all hopeless… I love you all soooo much… Why can’t you understand that?”
“I-I lovthe you too… Mother…!”
“Let me work, then. Okay, Fwiss? If you don’t stay quiet like a good little boy I might start hating you.”
“Hygh…! I’m sorry, so sorry…! I’m sorry, I’ll be a good boy, just don’t hate me, Motheeeeeeeer…!!”
Fwis grabs onto Mother’s legs as he turns to return to his room. Looking down at the boy in irritation he kicks him off, and without looking back even once he slams the door behind him.
Fwiss is left trembling on the ground, moaning softly in pain.
Nekt moves to help him up, but stops when he notices something off.
“Uu… fuu… haha… hehehe…! Hehe, hahaha…!”
He’s not moaning --- he’s laughing.
He hasn’t lost his mind.
“Hahh… thank goodness… Mother doesn’t hate me… haha, Mother… this pain… it must be your love…!”
He’s simply happy.
“Ain’t that great, Fwiss?”
“It’s okay. Mother, busy. Back to normal soon.”
“No, everything’s fine. I’m just happy Mother still cares. It’s my fault for breaking our promise! Ahahahaha!”
Nobody else finds it strange. They simply accept Mother’s violence as a show of affection.
How’d it get to be like this?
It’s not as though he had been violent to them before this. The abuse suddenly started after they moved to their new hideout. For some reason, though, they continue to idolize Mother as though he was the same as always.
Nekt is the only one who recognizes that as strange.
Is it because I’m smart? Because I’m more mature than the others?
He shakes his head in response to his own question.
No… I’m the same as them. I’m still under Mother’s thumb. Only Ink was treated as a failure, and because of that she was able to adapt to the real world like that---
She didn’t decide to be different --- she was forced to be. Her own will had no part in it, her thoughts and actions practically scripted by Mother. She was only dancing in the palm of his hand all along.
[You’re going to become the other Children’s big brother, okay? You’re clever, so I’m sure they’ll listen to you.]
He remembers Mother telling him that once.
If all this is according to Mother’s will, if he’s planned everything out, maybe he already knows Nekt reached out to Flum for help.
So everything I’m doing is useless? No… I’m overthinking things. But am I right, or is Fwiss?
Flum had called Nekt’s perspective on things twisted --- but if only among the other Spiral Children, it should be right.
I… I wish I could trust Mother. Ink was just so different, though… so bright and cheerful, like she was having so much fun… Maybe it’s all because she left…?
Nekt’s desires as an eight-year-old child.
Nekt’s sense of self as an eight-year-old human.
Caught between two worlds, he grits his teeth, more confused now than ever before.
|Back to Previous Chapter||Return to Main Page||Forward to Next Chapter|