13: Yukari

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 2: 1/1,000,000,000th of a Kiss

Chapter 13: Yukari

Let's talk a bit about the girl named Marii Yukari.

She was currently a second year in junior high.

She seemed like a normal girl at first glance, but she apparently saw humans... no, she apparently saw all other living beings as robots through those purple eyes of hers (and although I say her eyes were purple, it's not like her eyeballs were physically any different from those of a normal human).

Because of that, she had been a lonely child. She yearned for friends, and any friends she did make were very precious to her.

Yes, even though Marii was not normal, she still had friends.

First, there was Tenjou Nanami, the girl who taught her how to smile.

Right now they were a bit estranged, I think? But even so, Marii still considered Tenjou to be her friend.

Her second friend was Hatou Manabu.

Hatou Manabu was quite a rare find; not only did she accept the secret behind Marii's eyes, but even took it in stride when Marii was forced to "fix" her.

Because of Hatou Manabu, Marii finally began to find some courage. She began to openly seek friendship with others, without any of the hesitation she had harbored before.

Marii's third friend was Alice Foyle.

She was a genius girl who also had a rather unique way of seeing things, but in a different way than Marii.

She called Marii her companion, claiming that she and Marii were birds of a feather. Of course, that didn't mean that Alice had the same eyes that Marii had, but even so Marii was quite happy at her words.

And then, Marii decided to transfer away from her school.

It was painful for Marii to separate from Hatou and Tenjou, but those were precisely the two that told her this decision would be for the best.

Of course, that hadn't been all. Marii herself was a bit torn about staying. She knew that if she stayed behind, there was a chance she would cause trouble to befall Tenjou and Hatou. They might get involved in something bad again because of her eyes. So maybe it was just too dangerous for them to be by her side...

At least, right now it was too dangerous.

I need the strength to survive on my own, she thought.

Hatou told Marii that she would wait for her. So Marii made her decision. She mustered up her courage. If she wanted friends, then she would have to reach out and grab them with her own hands. She would become stronger.

So, Marii placed her faith in Alice Foyle, placed her faith in Alice's comrades, and travelled to America to meet with Jaunt.

Alice and her friends were kind. Marii thought they could become good friends.

But the adults were different.

The adults had been aiming for Marii's eyes from the very start.

The adults had been planning to use Marii's eyes from the very start. They had tricked Alice and dispatched her to Japan in order to lure Marii over.

The adults spoke to Marii. We would like to use those purple eyes of yours for the good of the world, they said. We would like for you to look at the whole earth with those eyes, they said. And if possible... just like with Tenjou Nanami and Hatou Manabu, we would like you to remodel the world, they said.

Marii refused.

The world was fine just as it was, so how could she do such a cruel thing to it?

The adults tried to convince Marii. The world is a living creature on the brink of death, they said (Marii rejected that argument). For the sake of the world, humans had to sometimes directly manage it and mechanically modify it, they said (Marii also rejected that argument). Marii was so stubborn that the adults isolated her in a separate building in their research facility. She was separated from Alice and the others and punished with solitude. She was also threatened with torture (but for some reason they never followed through on that. They were definitely serious people, but... I wonder why...)

They threatened to kill her family, and Marii retreated into herself.

She herself became like a robot, not giving any kind of response no matter how the people at Jaunt talked to her. Eventually, she stopped even taking meals, and the adults finally resigned themselves and changed their plans.

If Marii wouldn't cooperate with them, then they would figure out the secret behind her eyes for themselves.

To be honest, even the adults at Jaunt were not putting too much hope in being able to get much out of Marii's cooperation. They didn't have any doubt that Marii was telling the truth about her way of seeing things, but they didn't have a good measure of exactly how much she could do with her eyes... after all, unlike Tenjou and Hatou, they had never witnessed her abilities for themselves (and honestly, at this point they hadn't really looked too carefully into the incidents involving Tenjou and Hatou either). So rather than an interest in the unknown possibilities hidden behind Marii's eyes, they were more interested in the biochemical properties of her eyes and how those properties related to the qualia debate.

The children probably had no way of knowing this, but Jaunt was also voraciously running through its funding, and because of its support grants from various nations and its budgetary concerns (and other adult matters), rather than investigating something invisible and unknown, it would rather investigate something concrete and quick that could bear the fruit it needed as leverage in further negotiations with its funding agencies.

There wasn't anything particularly strange about Marii's eyes themselves.

So the secret to Marii's powers must be in that most mysterious of human organs: the human brain.

If they investigated Marii's brain, then they might be able to find some clues about the concept known as "qualia," which was an concept that was heretofore so elusive that it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say we didn't understand anything at all about it. At this point, Marii was essentially an invalid and was not being useful at all. Rather, she was the primary bottleneck to their progress right now. Because of that... Jaunt decided to offer Marii up as fodder for inhumane experiments. And on that day...

The FBI raided the complex and arrested the adults at Jaunt.

One of the Jaunt employees had leaked their plans to the authorities.

(Well, to be precise, one of the Jaunt employees had told Alice and the other children about Marii's condition, and they were the ones who went to the police... but for various reasons none of this was kept on record. The Jaunt employee's identity was also still a mystery.)

Like that, Yukari was rescued.

Right now, she was lying in a hospital bed, an IV drip hooked to her arm.

She was in quite serious condition due to malnutrition.

There was no longer any danger to her life, but she had yet to speak a single word to anybody since her rescue.

But there was no need to worry. Even now, Marii's friends and family were on the way from Japan.

Of course Hatou Manabu was coming, but even Tenjou Nanami had begrudgingly decided to come.

Alice and the others, who had been worried about Marii all this time, were also sleeping in the next room. They had refused to leave her alone and had been in the hospital with her this entire time.

She had her family and her friends. She had people who really cared for her.

So, she would be okay. Marii would be able to get back on her feet.

There would probably still be danger in the future. There would probably still be pain to deal with.

But she would be able to overcome all of that. She would definitely be able to find happiness.

From here on out, Marii Yukari would be able to live a happy life.

Come now, it's about time to wake up...

Marii's eyes opened.

She looked around the room, and then suddenly her eyes landed on the robot model placed near her pillow.

It was a so-called "plastic model" that Alice and the others had brought when they visited her in her hospital room. Alice knew how much Marii loved this model. Marii stared closely at the little robot...

"...... Gaku... chan?"

It seemed that Marii was still a bit sleepy.

Or maybe the vestiges of the dream she was having was still lingering on her eyelids.

She rubbed her eyes, lifted her head up, and finally seemed to be fully awake as she took another hard look at the robot in her hands...

"... Gaku-chan? Gaku-chan, right?"

I felt my heart stop in surprise.

Although, I suppose technically I didn't have a heart anymore.

No, you're wrong. I rejected her statement.

Right... Marii Yukari often relied on Hatou Manabu.

In fact, Hatou Manabu had played a large part in her moving overseas.

Right now, she probably was still just psychologically unstable, and was looking around for Hatou Manabu. That was all.

I'm sure she couldn't see me.

After all... I no longer existed.

Right now, I was an entity that could not be observed by anybody.

The Theory of Everything that Alice had found could also be used to determine when something had been observed with certainty.

But to put it another way, it was also a theory that could be used to derive the boundaries of human observation.

I understood that, and used it so that I would exceed those boundaries.

I went back ten or so billion years, back to the starting of our universe, and meddled with my own personal parameters so that I was remade as an entity to which the Theory of Everything could not be applied. I had begun evolving again from scratch. Into something without flesh that humans could not perceive... into something that was neither wave nor particle, nor even a probability density. I was an existence that did not exist, something that did not reside in the observable human universe. I had extinguished myself from that universe.

So that nobody could ever observe me.

And so there shouldn't be anybody in this world who could be aware of my existence.

In other words, there was nobody here who could determine me with certainty.

Which meant that nobody could interfere with my efforts to protect Marii Yukari.

I would no longer let anybody kill Marii...

"...... Gaku-chan? Why aren't you talking back? Are you mad at me? Is it because I never called you? That's... I'm sorry. But... there were a lot of things I had to deal with, and..."

I was no longer human, without blood running through my veins nor eyes to cry with, and yet seeing Marii near tears like that was just completely unbearable for me.

So, I timidly, timidly tried to talk (I was a bit surprised that I hadn't forgotten about the concept of "talking").

{{... Are you talking to me?}}

"Yes, you! Wah, it really is Gaku-chan! Ugh, don't scare me like that!"

{{N-No, you're wrong. I'm not Hatou Manabu. Hatou Manabu is on an airplane headed here right now, and I'm... I'm just a hallucination. Your brain is probably just a bit confused right now, so you should go back to sleep and rest well.}}

"Wah! You're being mean! Don't be such a bully! Sure, I see people as robots and I don't really know about facial expressions too much... and sometimes I do confuse some people for other people... but I know Gaku-chan when I see her! Sure, you're in a really strange form right now... I guess that's why you're the most adaptable robot I know! But you're definitely Gaku-chan! My eyes don't lie to me!

But umm... how and when did you expand that functionality of yours by so much?"

For a while, I couldn't believe my ears.

Could it be that Yukari's purple eyes could see me?

Even though I should be unobservable by anybody who was subject to the Theory of Everything?

For something like ten billion years... it was all just a memory, but I had been alone.

Nobody could see me, and I couldn't talk to anybody. I just waited by myself for the day when I could meet Yukari again...

That's how I had lived up until now, and that was how I was expecting to live from now on.

But I was fine with that. That was what I was, after all.

I had done many things that I felt made me deserving of that fate. For the sake of reaching my goals, I had trampled worlds underfoot, destroyed possibilities. Yes, I had left everything to the infinite me's, crossing from world to world, running from possibility to possibility. All the while looking for the world that was the most convenient.

But in the end, there wasn't such a thing as a world that was unnecessary.

I was unmistakably a sinner who deserved to fall into the depths of Hell.

I had to atone for my sins.

So, I had been alone up until now, and even if I could protect Yukari for just a bit, I was okay with being alone for eternity.

That's... what I had decided, but...

"... What's wrong, Gaku-chan? What happened-"

Before I realized it, I had begun to cry.

I had built up and piled up so many feelings over these endless, long years, and it all came crumbling down in an instant.

And once that dam broke, it was already too late to stop the flood.

Just like a child throwing a temper tantrum, I began to sob, my nonexistent tears flowing down my nonexistent cheeks, and then I began to talk.

Began to talk about everything that had happened up until now.

Began to talk about how it was my fault that Yukari had moved away.

Began to talk about how because of that, Yukari had died, and how I had regretted that all this time.

Began to talk about the parallel worlds.

About the infinite possibilities.

About how I found Yukari's dead body, and then started to plan revenge against her murderers. About how I realized I could change the past and decided to try and protect Yukari. About how I changed the past. About how I repeated this over and over and over again, but no matter how I changed the past I could never protect her. I would change something, she would die... I would change something, she would die... I talked about how I killed Alice, killed Nanami, killed Hatou, killed other people for my own purposes, killed myself, became Nanami, became Yukari's mother, advancing like light all the while, and then used Alice and dried up all these many parallel worlds for my own selfish purposes, running away when the cards were not in my favor, and repeated this over and over and over and over and over and over again in infinitely many worlds...

I told her everything.

And Yukari just sat there, listening to me.

She didn't ask any questions, but just sat and listened to me earnestly. She didn't hurl any insults at me, but just sat there quietly...

And just listened to me confess everything.

"... So, you used that Theory of Everything thing and now you can change your body into all kinds of different things?"

{{... Uhh, I don't know if that's exactly what it is, but... I guess, sort of?}}

After I had finished telling my story, I felt quite refreshed. But on the other hand, I also felt my nonexistent heart starting to race.

... Yukari probably was completely taken aback by what I had done.

She was probably afraid... or no, it didn't really seem that way, but she probably hated me now. She probably was disgusted by me.

But, that was fine. I didn't mind.

It was already an unexpected blessing to be able to confess everything to her. Anything more than this would be an undeserved luxury. After this, I would just continue to protect Yukari for as long as she lived. I would be satisfied with that.

There was nothing else I wanted.

{{Anyways... I guess you don't have to worry about anything anymore. Umm... I mean, if you'll allow me to be by your side. I'll definitely protect you. If I'm like this, then nobody can interfere with me, and I can just continue to observe and interact with things with no fear of any repercussions.}}

Yukari suddenly looked like she was in pain.

She dropped her gaze to the PlaMo robot she was holding in her hand before finally looking up again (by the way, it's not like I was now a PlaMo robot or anything. I didn't exist, after all. I was a cloud-like entity who was both everywhere and nowhere in this room simultaneously). Yukari began to talk.

"... Umm, Gaku-chan. Umm... can I say something? I don't really want to hurt you, but I think friends should be able to speak their minds to each other too. So... here I go, okay? Just be prepared and listen, okay? Umm... I'm really sorry you had to go through all that for me, and I really don't want to say this, but...

I really don't think that no matter what you do, you'll ever be able to protect me."

Yukari's words came out in a gentle stream.

And I gasped a bit (even though I didn't really have a throat to gasp with). I tried to argue back.

{{Eh? W-Why? That's not true at all! It'll be fine! There's nobody anymore who can observe me! So nobody can interfere with me anymore!}}

"But I can see you, right? Look, I can see you right there, Gaku-chan."

{{That's... but, I don't really mind if you can see me.}}

"Don't you see? Gaku-chan, don't you see where you went wrong? Where the problem is? I can observe you just fine, Gaku-chan. So you'll never be able to change my fate."


"The only one who can change my fate... the only one who should change it... is me and me alone. Gaku-chan doesn't have that right."

I technically didn't have any eyes right now.

But even so, I felt my vision cloud over.

I felt spider web cracks form inside of me, and then something shattered.

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