Qualia the Purple
Arc 2: 1/1,000,000,000th of a Kiss
Chapter 10: Possibility and Fate
I had to ask the following question:
"Why can't I just be like light?"
"I mean, I haven't been doing a good job of it, right? Light doesn't have to go through all this trial and error like me. Light can just try every single path simultaneously and get rid of the bad paths by making them destructively interfere. And then only the shortest, correct path is left. Only the correct path is left, and all of this takes a single instant. There's no calculating, no anything. And yet, why can't I do the same thing? If I have to keep ruling out each and every single possibility and each and possible world out of an infinite number of possible choices, then I'd have to be a quantum computer to ever get to the right answer!"
"Yes, indeed. And although I might not be light, I am a certain kind of quantum computer. So if I just keep trying, then someday..."
"Right, I'm a quantum computer! The quantum nature of the universe lets me use all the infinite me's in all the infinite worlds to think and make calculations! My brain is nothing other than a quantum computer! But then why?! Why can't I find the answer, an answer that should become apparent in just an instant?! I know that the answer is somewhere, but..."
"... Well, the problem is probably the problem."
This other me answered me with a tone of quiet resignation.
"If we understood the question, then we could find the answer. But we do not know that question, and so the answer is not forthcoming. Because we do not even understand what we should be answering. Indeed, 'saving Yukari' is a goal and not an answer, and if we do not understand the problem itself, then we have no hope of extracting an answer."
"... So I do not understand the problem I should be solving in the first place..."
I knew there was a problem.
I definitely had the feeling I was doing something wrong somewhere.
But I did not know where and what the problem itself was.
I tried doing everything I could.
I spent the entire school day with Yukari, and always walked her to and from her house in the morning and evening. Sometimes I even slept over at her place. But I still was unable to keep Yukari from being kidnapped. No matter how many allies I had in how many parallel worlds, no matter how many different worlds I visited and how much knowledge and experience I accrued, I was, of course, just a mere junior high student. I was powerless, and I had no time.
If I had more time, then I could've crushed Jaunt.
But before I could do anything like that, Yukari was always kidnapped and then killed.
I tried everything possible. I told Yukari's parents that she was being targeted and got them to reinforce their home security. But Yukari was kidnapped. They hired a personal bodyguard for her. But Yukari was killed. I leaked information about Yukari's powers to the press and made her famous around the world. But all that ended up doing was hurting Yukari and provoking Nanami, and in the end I still couldn't prevent Yukari's death. I tried exposing Jaunt to the public, tried getting people to go there and inspect the facility, but Yukari was kidnapped and dissected. No matter how much I rushed, no matter how much I prepared, each time I tried to play my hand, Yukari ended up dead and her brain in a jar. It was like someone was laughing at me this entire time. And I felt like I was playing a game. Yes, it's my turn now. And now it's Jaunt's turn. Oops, I lost. What did I lose? Yukari's life, of course. That's what I get for being powerless.
Yukari was alive right now, and was by my side.
But I couldn't save her... I just couldn't save her. She would be killed. Killed by how powerless I was. I wouldn't make it in time, and she would be killed. I knew what was going to happen, but she would be killed nonetheless. I was completely helpless to stop the same thing from happening over and over again. She would be killed. I couldn't protect her, and she would keep being killed. It was all my fault. Trial and error. Every single time, trial and error, forever and ever, trial and error...
... Ahh, God, please hear my prayers.
I was in Hell right now.
I killed Alice once.
I was caught and sent to a juvenile correctional facility. I didn't need that world. I went back and killed Alice again. This time I thought I got away with it, but they found me again. So I tossed that world aside too. I killed Alice again. This third time, I finally realized why I was killing her. Yukari died because Alice came to Japan. So if I got rid of Alice, then I could avoid all that. So I got rid of her. But as soon as I did that, another one to replace Alice came. So I got rid of that one too, and then they found me again. Trial and error. Trial and error. I kept on going until I got away with it all.
Finally, I managed to make it so that nobody transferred to our school anymore.
This time, for sure, Yukari wouldn't die.
... But I was naive.
Yukari was once again kidnapped, and this time I was even killed in the process.
Trial and error. From the beginning again...
Sometimes, I called another me and spoke in resignation.
"... Maybe it's just impossible to save Yukari. Maybe this is just all fate."
"Yeah, fate. I mean, everything started from when Yukari died, right? I'm like how I am right now because of her death. So her death was what created me as I am now. If Yukari is alive, then this me would not exist. So...
That might be why I can go back into the past.
That might be why I can change the past and the future.
But, I would never be able to change fate... to change a fate that had already been observed. So maybe Yukari's death had already been determined, and since I am someone who was created from that determination... or I should say as long as anybody created from that determination exists, then I won't be able to save her..."
"Sure... that might be true, and that might not be. To be honest, I can't really say for sure. But there is one thing I can say...
I don't need any me who wants to give up. So go and disappear."
I hung up the phone and let out a sigh.
Let's start from the beginning again.
Let's start and go as light, traversing every single possible path.
In order to find the one right answer.
That was already what I was.
One day, I suddenly realized something.
If I didn't have enough time to save Yukari, then I should just make enough time.
It was because I started from here... from the point of that first phone call that I found myself running out of time. So I should just go back further. I already went back in time once, so I could do it again. Yes, go back further... go back to before Jaunt was created.
I had already used my memories from all the parallel worlds to look into Jaunt. I found that they weren't created too long ago, and actually as an organization was younger than I was.
They were formidable because they were an organization.
So I just had to prevent them from forming that organization.
If I started from before Jaunt was formed, I could also take my time and my enemies would be weak. This was the very definition of killing two birds with one stone.
"... Wait wait. Going back even further... you're going to make a small child fight?"
"Age has nothing to do with it. We all share our knowledge and experiences, so it'll be fine. Actually, a small child might put our enemies off their guard, so it's a pretty huge advantage for us."
"But, going that far back... that's before we met Yukari, right? Our left hand was still normal back then."
"... What are you saying after all this time?"
I let out a derisive chuckle and began to inform this me who lacked all too much self-awareness.
"Can't you see? This 'cell phone' of ours was nothing more than the spark that lit a fire. It's convenient and we still use it, but in reality we do not need it at all. After all, I am already like that. I have already been fixed to be like that long ago. What's important are the results. We can just slap whatever interpretation we want onto how we got there.
And okay then. Do you have any other suggestions?"
"Then stop nitpicking and let's try every single possible thing that we could possibly try."
I cut off the phone call, and began to dial out again.
Consecutive use of this cell phone would drain quite a lot of stamina, but I didn't mind. At any rate, I had no use for this world anymore.
All I needed was the possibility to save her. I didn't even need myself any longer.
"...... And so,"
"Good luck from here on out, 'me.'"
"Leave it to me."
I let out an exaggerated sigh and cut off the call to my toy phone.
I was really surprised when what was supposed to be a toy phone started ringing, but that was natural. I had just turned five, after all. So nobody could blame me if I got a bit frightened or even if I almost wet my pants over something like this.
But more importantly...
"You know, I got lotsa knowledge and ekschperience, but if I can't use it right, it doesn't mean anything! I guess it's true you get more smarter when you get older!"
I shook my head and thought about the fourteen-year-old me.
I thought even further, to the sixteen-year-old me.
And then I thought of myself as a twenty-year-old (twenty?) and then of myself as a thirty-year-old (... thirty!), remembering details of lives in various faraway worlds in which I was old almost beyond imagining.
All of them were useless.
"Hey, me. Remember that you gots to think outside the box here, okay?"
The reason why all these me's had failed before was because we were only thinking about possibilities that lay on a straight, vertical line.
I had access to all the infinite parallel worlds out there, but I was exploring them with one hand tied behind my back.
But I wouldn't make the same mistake twice. Possibilities admitted no boundaries. All I had to do was to be flexible.
The results were the only thing that mattered. As long as I fixed the results, then the path that led to those results would just come into existence from somewhere.
I felt butterflies in my stomach as I pushed a button on my toy phone.
And soon, another me answered.
"... You hafta know what I want here, right? You see everything going on in my head, right?"
"Yeah! You're looking for a certain me in a parallel world! Sorry though, I'm the wrong one. But keep trying!"
"Okay." I nodded and hung up the phone before dialing again.
Right now, I'm sure all the me's in all the parallel worlds were dialing their phones together. Just thinking about that made my heart race.
Because of that, it probably wouldn't take long before I found the right me.
Yes, I would find that me.
If I was powerless to face Jaunt, then I would just find a me that had power.
For example... a me that could use magic.
If there really were an infinite number of parallel worlds, then there must be at least one world in which I could use magic.
And if I could find just one, then from that point that world would become the standard for other worlds.
This was the way I should've always used the power of infinite possibilities.
"Yeah, leave it to me! I can definitely do this!"
Yes, for me, this was possible... and honestly, I've always wanted to try this anyways.
Becoming a magical girl, I mean.
How could I now use magic, you ask?
Instead of magic, you could say "superpowers" instead. And honestly, neither the reason nor the path that got me to this point matter. Maybe it was some kind of mutation, or maybe some external source changed my genetic code, or maybe it was even something else. There were infinite possibilities, but the only thing that mattered was the result.
First, I started by looking for me's who thought they could do magic.
The minute I found a me like that, all the me's became like that.
And then, I looked for the me's who actually could do something.
And the minute I found a me like that, once again all the me's became like that. Theory? Reason? Don't care. Don't need any of that. The ends would create the means. Whether you believed in the Copenhagen interpretation or the Many Worlds interpretation, the end result was the same. Just slap whatever useful theory you wanted onto it (even in physics, the only reason the Copenhagen interpretation was the most popular one was because it was simply more convenient than the Many Worlds interpretation). So I just needed to think flexibly. I just needed to innocently demand results without thinking about the means to get there.
The next step was to find a me that actually had a useful power.
At that point, I had to actually go and try these powers out for myself, but I had all the time in the world, and all the worlds as well, for that matter. So I would be fine. Someday, I would definitely reach my goal...
In one world, I was discovered shooting fire from my fingers and taken to the hospital.
In one world, I failed at teleportation and melded into a wall, killing myself.
In one world, I was seen flying through the sky, and I was captured by the Japanese Self Defense Force or some organization like that.
I needed a costume. So that nobody would be able to figure out who I was. So that I could still be seen in public and not care.
My experiences in every single world became my sustenance, and all the myriad possibilities became my weapons...
"The magical girl Magical Maruchipuru Mana-chan is here at last!"
And so, Magical Maruchipuru Mana-chan began her work, wishing in her heart that she could meet and become friends with Yukari as soon as possible.
... To be honest, there were worlds in which I got so impatient that I went to meet Yukari immediately (well it's not like you can blame me - let me just remind you all that I was a five year old right now, so I was pretty direct when it came to my own desires).
But, no matter what I tried, all that I ended up doing was getting Yukari and Nanami taken hostage to lure me out, and I ended up getting them involved in all kinds of messes. So I just tearfully decided that I would stop trying to meet Yukari at this age.
I would try to meet them again after I had finished everything I had set out to do.
If I could just accomplish my goals properly, then I would have nothing left to worry about.
So, let's hurry up and clean this mess up.
"No mercy for bad people!"
Jaunt was a huge organization, but just like a lion or an elephant, in its infancy it was quite powerless. So this was quite like taking candy from a baby.
I first went around beating up all the future founding members of Jaunt - the people whose initials would eventually form the word J-A-U-N-T.
I carefully and meticulously dealt with the root of the problem.
None of those people seemed to understand why all these bad things were happening to them, and that honestly annoyed me a bit, but I guess there wasn't really anything I could do about that.
Along the way, I also found Alice's mother and punished her. Quite a lot.
There were definitely some things I had wanted to say to Alice's mother.
Of course, I also brought Alice to a place where there were people who could take care of her. A proper, nice-looking place that, unlike Jaunt, seemed quite trustworthy. This might mean I wouldn't meet Alice in the future, but... wait, no. I could just go see her myself, right? It was also quite strange seeing Alice giving me that really nasty glare, but even so I was satisfied. Now Jaunt would never be created.
I returned to Japan, and retired from my life as Magical Maruchipuru Mana-chan.
I met Yukari, became her friend (yes, in this world, I became Yukari's childhood friend just like Nanami!), went to the same elementary school as her, entered the same junior high, and even though we had already met, we once again ended up kissing in the hallway.
And then of course some bad things happened, and my left hand became a cell phone (I didn't really try to avoid the incident at all, so of course it happened. By the way, Nanami's accident also happened... but I intervened and so Nanami never stopped being friends with Yukari).
And then I became a third year student in junior high.
And Jaunt never showed up.
But then, despite all that, Yukari was kidnapped.
Not by Jaunt, but by a different organization.
An organization based in a completely different place and with completely different founding members.
... And I found myself completely back to square one.
I lived on for a while longer, finding out information about this newly created organization, before returning to the past.
And this time, I not only destroyed Jaunt, but also that new organization.
And then, a completely different third organization appeared and kidnapped Yukari.
I found myself starting from the beginning again...
There's no such thing as fate. There's no such thing as fate.
I didn't die. I couldn't. That's what I was. Even if I "died," then another me would just pick up in my place. And I could never ever abandon my goal.
There were other things I hadn't tried yet.
The world was... the possibilities were endless, so there were plenty of other things to try.
Again. Again. Again. Again. No matter how many times.
Trial and error.
"You know, I was thinking about what that me was saying that one time..."
Trial and error.
"... Ahh. The one that was talking about fate? She said that because we come from a future when Yukari had already died, there's some paradox that prevents us from saving Yukari, right? That no matter what we tried, the end result would be the same, right?"
Trial and error.
"You know, if I think about what she said harder, I have to say she has a point. There might be some worth in thinking in that direction."
Trial and error.
"... Yeah, you're right. It's not like we have anything else to do, and it doesn't hurt to try. But how exactly do you propose we do this?"
Trial and error.
Trial and error.
"Dunno. All we have to do is decide to do it, and then we'll just move forwards like light. Right?"
Trial and error.
Trial and error.
Trial and error...
"If saving Yukari is impossible for me, then I just have to become not me."