Hello everyone and welcome to the bonus chapter of "The Gamma Dimension!" The name of this chapter breaks the tradition of single-worded chapters, but forgive me. 'Original Text Conception' (OTC) is a parody to the term OVA (Original Video Animation) because of the fact that it is a fanfiction. I had this particular plot in mind really early in the writing process and now I can finally present this to you. For that, I am happy! This plot takes place some time after all of the previous chapters! So enjoy and stay tuned for the additional announcement at the end! Oh, for those that got a head-start at reading this plot, you can skip to part three!
Once upon a time I considered it troublesome to scale that steep hill to school everyday. If given the opportunity, I would visit the me in that time-frame and tell him: 'Stop whining. There is a LOT to look forward to. This climb is only the beginning!' I would chuckle to myself as I turn the other way and leave my past self to his bewildered expression. Why? Nothing I could say in that situation could even begin to prepare the other me for the pending twists and turns in his life.
I turned to the being whose petite hand I have been holding ever since my imagination went wild. My girlfriend, Yuki Nagato, observes my expression with a dash of curiosity.
"It's nothing really," I answered. "I was just thinking about something that will never happen."
"Why will it never happen?"
For a question that sounds so simple, I find it unusually difficult to generate a response. Time travel is possible, however, there would be no point in troubling myself to relay a message that does not need to be addressed. Also, I only recall hearing from myself once in my lifetime, and that entire ordeal has been resolved some time ago.
"It's not so much the fact that it will never happen, but more along the lines of it not making much sense."
Nagato turned her head to the pedestrian light in front of her as I corrected myself. Together, we waited until the signal permitted us to continue forward.
"Most abstract thoughts that the human mind conceives are likely to be an occurrence that takes place in a separate dimension," Nagato continued. "The number of stars in the sky exponentially exceeds the total population of humans on this planet."
"And each star can be the manifestation of someone's dreams. You mentioned that to me before, but I still have a hard time believing all of that."
"It is okay," Yuki replied while burrowing her head on the bottom of my tie.
The fellow pedestrians began to pass us once they figured out that we would not cross. A portion of the students my age would look in our direction and witness our out-of-place embrace. One particular trio of male students were especially fixated.
"So they DO go to the same school," one of them said. "I would have been suspicious if they weren't in the same uniform."
People think of us as an odd couple, although no one would have a clue on how right they are. We transcended time and changed reality multiple times together. It is an odd, yet gratifying feeling to know that no one who approaches us now can even begin to comprehend that much. At least that is what I assumed...
I felt an unknown skull gently press against my backside moments after Nagato and I started to hold each other. Judging by the height, she is too tall to be my sister and too short to be Haruhi. If Yuki is in front of me, then...
"Please hide me."
The dignified female voice that vibrated my spine is definitely someone familiar, but my short term memory failed me until I turned around to observe its source. I was by no means prepared.
She stared into my eyes the most sincerity and passion that I ever witnessed from her. This was also one of my only opportunities to observe the details of her pupils. They were the type that would be nearly addicting to look at if her pitch black uniform and ankle-length black hair did not deter my focal point.
"Kuyoh Suoh...? Why?"
She scampered behind me like a frightened kitten before I asked. I turned to Yuki, who looked just as clueless as I was. Since when did Kuyoh rely on me for anything? Also, what can an alien possibly be afraid of? Once I looked to my left, I determined that the answer is another alien.
Yuki instinctively stood by my side, giving Kuyoh the necessary width to hide behind us. The one who is apparently pursuing her greets us in her normal way. She removed the cabbage-colored strands in front of her eyes before talking.
"Why hello there, Yuki Nagato," said Emiri. "How are you and Kyon getting along?"
Nagato decided against replying to Kimidori. She seems visibly annoyed, which is a very unusual expression coming from Nagato. Perhaps she is concerned for the crouching girl behind us?
"I am currently seeking Kuyoh Suoh," Emiri confirmed. "Has anyone seen her recently?"
Emiri shifts her sights to Yuki before continuing. "Kuyoh Suoh is the being I must confront to gain access to specific data. Kuyoh Suoh wound up running away from me before I got to properly address my motives. In addition, it appears as though Kuyoh Suoh has the ability to evade ADV (Advanced Data Vision) detection at will, which makes this task even more difficult."
I guess that would explain why Kimidori can't tell that Kuyoh is really close-by. Nagato simply shook her head for a reply.
"Alas, my search continues," Emiri said in a subtle, dejected tone. "Please notify me if you come across her, Yuki Nagato."
I felt Kuyoh shifting closer to my side as Emiri crossed the road and started to vanish from our sight.
"The motives of that girl were made clear to me the moment she tried to approach me," said Kuyoh as she decided to stand again. "It was nearly too much to ask that day when the two of you came to me..."
That was enough of a hint to completely tell me what Emiri was after. But why does Emiri want that all of a sudden?
"...I understand," Yuki replied after being silent for the longest time. "I will protect Kuyoh Suoh from Emiri Kimidori to the best of my ability."
Nagato came to a much faster decision than I possibly could have. As much as I would want to blindly follow Nagato's wishes that shone through her rare gaze of determination, I have to wonder. Why are both Yuki and Kuyoh so vehemently against the idea of all of this? Hopefully that answer and more would develop over lunch.
Nagato constantly insists that she never grows tired of this same cafe even though Haruhi would practically force us to come here every weekend. I decided against asking this time since Kuyoh would be joining us. I honestly do not mind the place myself. When you get right down to it, this place is the most cost-efficient restaurant in the city, but still...
Nagato and I ordered our usual appetizers while Kuyoh requested coffee. For an order that unusual at three in the afternoon, the waitress did not seem even slightly perplexed. She whisked off to serve us immediately. The time-frame from the order to the delivery progressed silently. It was then I determined that Kuyoh's posture is even more refined than Nagato's. I can compare her poise to Asahina's, but I never could keep my focal point on her posture. I continued to observe Kuyoh as she completely defied my expectations by dumping countless packets of sugar into her mug. Once she was done with the creamer I silently concluded that Kuyoh did not like everything black after all.
"So let me make sure I'm on the same page with everyone," I started. "Emiri Kimidori is hounding you because somehow she found out that you were the one that let Yuki become mostly human, and now she wants the same treatment, right?"
"That explanation is accurate," Kuyoh replied.
"What exactly makes that a bad thing?"
Kuyoh shifts her gaze to Nagato. Both of their expressions are identically troubled.
"Emiri Kimidori is... scary."
The simplistic reasoning raises more questions than it does answers. As for one of them: Does Kuyoh ever look in a mirror? Yuki nods forcefully as if she understands, but not even that is enough for me. Every alien I am aware of turned out to be misunderstood in some shape or form. In Emiri's case, she played the bad guy just to provoke Yuki to snap out of her melancholia. Compared to Asakura and even Nagato, Kimidori's nature always seemed to be more rational. So why...?
"It is difficult to explain..." Nagato added. "However, Kuyoh and I believe that complying with Kimidori's wish is not strongly advised at this time."
"...I can't pretend like I can casually accept such bland reasoning!" I stated, causing both of them to stir. "Has anyone actually talked to Kimidori about this? I must have missed the part where neither of you are on good terms with her, but I'm still her friend."
"Kyon..." cried Kuyoh in disappointment.
"If it can be helped," I continued. "I would like to hear Emiri's side of story."
"Excuse me, can I take your order?" the female waitress interrupted. "I can also satisfy your request as you check out, if you would like."
We simultaneously turned to face the eavesdropper and confirm the almost humorous situation. The topic of our discussion looks back at us placidly as if the conversation did not remotely faze her. The other girls' pale and shocked expressions that followed was a Kodak moment I wouldn't want to forget anytime soon. May the good times never end...
Once Emiri got some time off, she joins us at our table, sitting next to Kuyoh. Kuyoh freezes her posture as if one sudden movement from her would be fatal.
Emiri declares that it was sheer coincidence that we met like this, and she has actually worked part-time here for a while. In fact, she admitted to being the one who served our refreshments just a few minutes ago. What kind of person do you have to be to completely evade detection from all three of us who know you so well?
"Some time ago after the Gamma Dimension fully developed, exclusive interfaces under the Data Integrated Thought Entity were given access to the MEM data files of Yuki Nagato produced after the first moment of transition. Even after countless observations of the most detailed files within that time-frame, I find myself unable to make any use of the data in my current state. The more I observe them, the greater my desire to completely understand them becomes. Therefore, I determined that if the appropriate data that Kuyoh Suoh possesses were ran through me, I could analyze the data much more efficiently."
It is scary how much of Emiri's explanation I actually understood. After so many detailed discussions with Nagato, I realized that Emiri uses several of the same terms that she does. One little factoid escapes me, however...
"What are MEM files again?"
"MEM is an abbreviation for memory," Nagato answered ahead of Kimidori. "All thought process – including sight, sound, smell, and feeling are examples are the types of data stored within this file-type."
By the sound of things, if a file like that was on a computer, a half hour of data could easily exceed a terabyte or so. I wonder if the aliens have any need for compression...
Nagato stared at me intensely just then. Judging by the angle of her frown and depth of her squint, I have either:
A) Forgotten something very important or...
B) Failed to listen to Nagato as she was saying something important.
...But what am I not understanding? Nagato has MEM (memory) data, which is shared with Kimidori. Kimidori cannot personally make anything out of the data because someone like her is oblivious to feeling and emotion.
That's the gist of it, right?
Nagato's unnerving expression did not change. Kuyoh's eyes are blankly fixated on me as she took another sip of her sugary caffeine. Emiri observes the others carrying the same pleasant smile she wears at nearly any given moment. The urge to give up and go home is getting stronger.
"The data producing right now looks very interesting," Emiri said through the silence. "But even if I were to observe this data from the perspective of Yuki Nagato later on, my interpretation is likely to remain exactly the same. This is the nature of my dilemma."
"That's just called being the third person."
"Using that metaphor, MEM data files are intended to allow other interfaces such as myself to become the first person."
I thought for a moment. "Become the first person? But that's im-"
I stopped myself before I uttered a meaningless word. At the same time, I felt as though I was starting to understand the bigger issue.
"Miss Kimidori, can I ask you a question?"
"Just how much of Yuki's memories did you analyze?"
Through the corner of my eye, I realize that Yuki reacts to the question much more than Emiri did.
"I have analyzed every significant memory since the birth of the Gamma Dimension... at least three times in its entirety," was her answer.
"So you experienced the time where Yuki and I went to photo booth together?"
"Yes. Five times," was her answer.
"The time where Yuki first heard me confess to her?"
"Yes. Five times," was her answer.
"Our first kiss?"
"Yes. Seven times," was her answer. A different number!
"Even our most recent date we had last week?"
"That file had two parts," Emiri answered. "The activities in the day and activity at night were separate. I have experienced the daytime activities four times."
"... and the night...?"
That was the sound of Mighty Nagato Battleship sinking headfirst onto the table. Kimidori watched her quizzically.
"Kuyoh Suoh," Kimidori said while facing Suoh's direction. "Just now, Yuki Nagato has overloaded because of my words. Without the same abilities you awarded to Yuki Nagato, I will never fully understand the emotions that people go through on a daily basis. Please help me surpass this barrier, Kuyoh Suoh."
"I will not."
"I see," Emiri said with a hint of disappointment. "I guess it there is no avoiding it. In that case I should not press the issue any further like this. Please take this check and excuse me."
She bowed politely, despite the flat rejection and exited the cafe. With that, the confrontation was over. Up until now, I had no idea that Kimidori and Nagato were that close to each other... and from what I've gathered, most of that closeness is against Nagato's will. That must be why everyone is so against it. Nagato's privacy is already being raided. It would be very troublesome if Kimidori completely understood everything that she witnessed... especially personal stuff like last week when Nagato and I-
"Emiri Kimidori, you must delete that specific memory from your terminal immediately!" blindly snapped a waking Nagato.
"Emiri Kimidori has already left us," Kuyoh replied calmly.
Yuki shrunk as she noticed the random attention she gathered as she muttered, "I see..."
"Kuyoh turned Emiri down face-to-face a minute ago. This whole awkward scene could have been avoided if Kuyoh did that in the beginning."
"Perhaps you are right," Kuyoh confessed.
"I'll handle the bill. This will be my treat."
I read the bill, hoping I am not biting off more than I can chew. Thankfully, the price is not an issue. However...
"What is the matter?" Nagato asked, noticing my odd expression.
She scooted closer and examined the bill with me. I watched her eyes widen as she read the bottom.
Everything happened right before I could tell Nagato that it was probably not a good idea for her to read the bill right away. That is because there are symbols at the bottom of the slip very similar to the graffiti that Haruhi had me draw on the football stadium ages ago. In interface who reads symbols like these have proven to cause various reactions. In this case...
"We have shifted into an alternate sector," Nagato confirmed.
The people that filled the cafe disappeared. The streets outside the window are now brick roads, and there is no longer a motor vehicle in sight. Yuki and Kuyoh and I took our first glimpse at this trap in astonishment. I decided to bury my eyes in my palm. This is going to be a long day..
The overall structure of this warped area bears a strong resemblance to the Japan that I was pried from. However, nothing about this landscape looked anything like my hometown – in any era. I push open the cafe's saloon doors and the three of us venture out into the disjointed wilderness. The brick road stretches into a showcase of assorted houses. Once I notice a log cabin and a modern brick house back-to-back, I kept my eyes peeled for a dwelling made from straw. There were none, but there was a haystack sitting next to a barnyard.
A circular culdesac marks the end of the surreal with a grass Mayan hut as the last sight. A long, grassy hill with assorted flowers lied ahead. We ultimately decided to scale this hill that would lead to the geographic location of North High. A large mansion replaced the school with a rusty iron gate. The hedge path ahead does not go straight for three yards before turning into who knows where. Judging by the way this structure stands out in comparison to every other building here, there is no doubt that Kimidori is waiting somewhere inside.
It was then I remembered that this whole set-up is a dispute between Kuyoh and Emiri. Nagato has a few things to settle with Kimidori but ultimately, this has nothing to do with me. With that being said, I start to head back home and take a nap.
"The structure of your house has also been changed during the sector transformation," Nagato reminded me.
That's right. If I go back there, no one would be there. Hopefully Emiri was nice enough to leave at least a futon behind. Wait, what kind of unique structure did my house become anyways?
"A trailer park."
Of course! So much for that idea..
Kuyoh went ahead of us; Nagato and I eventually followed. And just as I suspected, there are enough paths in this place to call this area a maze. The only redeeming quality of this field trip is that the two girls traveling with me have the advanced vision to make sure this does not drag on any longer than it has to.
That was when Nagato decided to correct me. "The ADV of Kuyoh Suoh and myself has been disabled ever since we began this hedge path."
Perfect. Kimidori must be some sort of perfectionist. She always seems to make sure that her colleagues are thoroughly entertained. Despite my poor navigational skills and their handicap, we reached our first visual checkpoint after only two dead ends and three cases of backtracking. I could only hope that we are at least halfway through this.
A pungent floral aroma covered this area. I could barely identify whether the general odor was toxic or just sweet, but I saw to it that I did not engross myself in it.
"Keep a safe distance," Kuyoh suggested. Before I began to ask what was I avoiding, I followed their gazes until I found a cloud of golden pollen that illuminated in the sun. Below the dust was a single wild orange flower that danced unnaturally. Moments later it quickly sprouts into a beanstalk three times my size. The stem thickened and mutated itself until it produced four legs. The newborn beast then stood on all fours with a ferocious face and the overgrown petals surrounding its large mane and tail.
"Danger," needlessly stated Kuyoh.
A nasty vine lunged from the body of the beast in my direction. The assault was 'censored' by a dark void that sprouted six inches from my face. Another hole appeared by the beast's face, where the relocated attack slapped it.
I have to get out of here. There are two other paths to take, but the flower beast stands in the way of the larger path. The other path is close by, but now that I think about it, separating from everyone in a place like this wouldn't be a good idea either. Why did I even have to be dragged into this?
Suddenly, a hand firmly grabs my wrist and drags me down the nearby path. I took one last look at the creature before it left my field of vision; both Nagato and Suoh are occupying themselves with it. That means the person dragging me to safety is someone completely different. I turned to her direction while struggling to keep up with her. The figure and uniquely colored hair is more than enough to distinguish who is carrying me this way. Unfortunately for me, she happened to be the last girl I would ever want to be alone with.
We stop once we reach a corner of the maze where the sounds of the monster are barely audible. My escort casually stretches about in her pink tank top/blue jeans combination as if she just got done with a relaxing jog. Of course, Ryoko Asakura has always been more-or-less nonchalant.
"So this is another one of Kimidori's setups, huh?" Ryoko said to herself. "I have to say. This scenery is very inspirational."
More like 'heavily inspired'.
"The complex, winding path... the thick corridors... there are countless things we can get away with out here," Ryoko said while waving around the stainless steel companion she pulled from her leather sheath. "And best of all... no one will ever hear us no matter what we do."
"Right.. Anyways, we're wasting time. I'm going ahead."
I turn away slightly so I could still keep tabs on Asakura from the corner of my eyes; she peered in my direction.
"Hey!" she shouted while rushing to my direction. "Where do you think you're going? It's pointless to go on without me you know. Since everyone else is tied up, Master Nagato has summoned me to guide you to the exit, and the last time I checked, you are not capable of ADV!"
Asakura has a point.. but didn't Nagato say something about-
"What! What is this! I cannot activate my ADV! Kimidori! This is unfair on all levels! Master Nagato, my vision is limited to about forty-five degrees! I might not... Master Nagato? No way... telecommunications are down too...?"
Once Asakura was done rambling, she stared at a random hedge as if she were completely blind. I have witnessed this exact opposite scene before. I was the one who was immobile and frightened. If Asakura wasn't armed and dangerous, I would have definitely made the most out of this moment. Instead, I decided to place a hand on her shoulder while telling her:
"Don't worry too much. We should be fine as long as we stick together."
"I am sticking my knife to top of your wrist if you keep it there any longer," Ryoko replied with the faintest sense of sincerity. I obeyed her just in case.
Asakura enthusiastically lead the way. Despite her confidence, Asakura's sense of direction was nothing to boast about since we ran us into nearly every dead end once or twice. Eventually she wore herself out in her own frustration and let me take the lead. A tense silence followed this change until I made attempts to break it.
"..." No response.
"Isn't Nagato supposed to be the only interface with complete emotions right now?"
"Yes," Asakura replied. "What about it?"
"It just seems ironic that Nagato is learning how to adapt to her feelings every day and you always seemed more attuned to them even though-"
"You better not be implying that Yuki Nagato's sensory nerve receptor data has also entered my system as well, Kyon!" Asakura shouted.
"I didn't even understand a word you just said."
Ryoko sneered, "Tch-! Figures."
Even if she denies it, Asakura is the least flawed humanoid interface that I know. If she never presented her true self to me in the past, I wouldn't have even thought twice about her normalcy.
I started to take the route that Ryoko bypassed at least three times. I heard Ryoko drag a bit less once we started covering new ground.
"I cannot see how you people cope with not being able to see behind you," Ryoko complained. "I am starting to see why humans act like scaredy cats in thriller films before they are mercilessly killed."
"It's easier to deal with when you're with someone," I replied. "Note how the victims are almost always killed when they are alone."
"Perhaps a human can compensate for their inability by constantly rotating as they travel?" Ryoko pondered with an innocent face.
"Then you'd just get dizzy."
Ryoko hesitated before asking "What is a dizzy?"
"Why don't you find out for yourself?" I suggested, immensely hoping that she would. Just thinking about it was too much to hold in.
I laughed for a moment until I heard sudden shifting from behind me. I turned to witness Asakura lunging at my direction with her knife handy. Woah! Did Ryoko snap? For an instant, it felt like time was slowing down. I took that time to watch Asakura's movements. These motions are nothing like the first time Asakura tried to kill me. She had a sadistic face and sturdy grip before; this time, her eyes are screwed shut and she does not appear to be aiming for my vitals. I sidestep to the right, but her left foot stomped on mine before I shifted completely out of the way. Both of us lost our balance, but neither of us fell. Asakura slouches over and pants.
"Something... just crawled on the back of my neck," Asakura whispers in a tone filled with rage. "It was probably some harmless bug, but apparently it scared me senseless... I do not know how much longer I can tolerate this limited vision, but I do know that spoiled brat will pay for this when I find her!"
"I think we're almost there. I'm starting to see the mansion."
"Well that's just... urk-!" retorted Ryoko as she took one step and sank to one knee. "Ow.. Why in the heck?"
She held her right ankle, which she must have sprained after that wild sprint. I have a handkerchief to wrap that up for her, but I declared that I would not do it unless Asakura put her knife away; she huffs as she obeys me.
"So you really can feel things just like Yuki."
"Brilliant, Kyon. You're so perceptive!" Ryoko sarcastically confessed just as I necessarily tightened the wrap. "Urk.. it hurts, damn it!"
"Hold still, and this will go faster."
After a moment of silence Asakura decided to speak. "Do you treat all your enemies this way?"
"Who said that you're an enemy? Nagato sent you because she trusts you and I trust Nagato."
"That is flawed reasoning, you know," Asakura replied. "You are clearly too trustworthy. Don't you know that even your best friends are capable of treachery?"
I smirked before replying, "Can I count on you to kill me before that happens, then?"
It wasn't until I saw Ryoko looking completely shocked until I realized what I just said. What the hell was that? I instantly said the first thing that came to mind, thinking it was some relative joke. Once I reviewed what I just said, I realized that it made absolutely no sense from my perspective at all. But somehow, it felt appropriate at that moment – as if it were some skit that Asakura and I were rehearsing.
Ryoko emitted a sinister smile before replying, "It would be my pleasure."
After an awkward silence, I had Ryoko test out her ankle. She admitted to it feeling better, but walking would still be a problem. After telling her that I doubted that I was strong enough to carry her far, she playfully tried hopping on anyways. Once she fought her way to the top, I remembered how Nagato was inexplicably capable of adjusting her mass when I had to pedal both her and Haruhi during our summer break. Ryoko did the same just then. As a result, we continued on like this with Ryoko's fresh lemon scent to keep me alert. Just as I started to feel we were almost there, she randomly uttered a strange question.
"Kyon. Between a mastermind and a cohort that does all the dirty work, who do you feel is potentially more evil?"
I prepared to give a random answer, but the event that followed washed the words out of my mind. The mansion had finally come into view. In addition, Yuki and Kuyoh stood together awaiting our arrival. Yuki's expression clearly stated that she was not expecting to see us in this position. Asakura hopped off of me and joined Nagato in inaudible conversation. Both of team two appeared to be unscathed and Yuki proceeded to heal Ryoko's injury. In the end, the four of us are ready to enter the final dungeon. Hopefully there will be no need for a save point...
Emiri stood firmly on the indoor balcony, looking just as confident as ever. The full burgundy dress she is wearing contrasts the cedar interior, and her hair that is neatly wrapped into two cinnamon buns does the same. She looked down upon us with the same smile that always lacked emotion.
"Greetings," breathed Kimidori. "Thank you all for coming to see me!"
"We did not come here by choice!" Asakura exclaimed. "And furthermore, I doubt any of this is helping your case any."
"Ah, Ryoko Asakura," Kimidori said while looking at her. "Now even you have temporary access to your sensory nerve receptors via sharing."
Ryoko stammered. "I don't... necessarily want them. I will most likely have Master Nagato sever the connection later."
"Is that so?" asked Kimidori as she teleported directly in front of us. "It was strongly suggested that once an interface's senses are activated for long enough, an individual will eventually not tolerate functioning without them. How does it feel for you, Ryoko Asakura?"
Ryoko hesitated before responding "Emotions are overrated. The ability to feel objects and body temperature is distracting. Mood swings are abundant since my biorhythms fluctuate way too much. Did I miss anything?"
A strong sense of familiarity struck me just then. I nearly expected to hear that answer nearly word-for-word because somehow, I felt that I would have said something similar if I were in her position. That thought forced a chuckle out of me. Ryoko instinctively turned to me and squinted in response.
"And just what are you laughing at..?"
Emiri clasped her hands together and said, "Oh my. Have you developed an affinity for Kyon?"
"W-what are you talking about!" Ryoko snapped.
Kimidori briefly glanced to my direction before continuing. "Your most recent memory data has shown some rather... odd behavior coming from yourself before you two came here. For once you were comfortable while resting on his shoulders. For once you were happy when the two of you made a promise together."
"You damn brat.."
Asakura's face reddened as if it had never reddened before, and based on her circumstances, it probably hasn't.
"Kimidori, is it normal for interfaces to peer through each others' personal lives like this?" I asked, grabbing her attention.
"It is uncommon," she replied. "Only a select few of us are given administrative rights for observational purposes. This selection is handled periodically."
"Not that I care or anything," Ryoko interjected. "But aren't these individual actions jeopardizing your chances at being selected in the future?"
Emiri answered after a long pause. "...If my newfound ambitions are met relatively soon, then I am willing to accept all of the consequences. That includes any conditions that Kuyoh Suoh would wish to apply in exchange for assisting me."
Upon saying saying that, she faced Kuyoh who has not said a word since she got here. Although she is far less tense than before, her cautious demeanor is just as noticeable. She took a deep breath for nearly a minute before her chosen response.
"Your condition is to develop a plausible reason. Only then will I comply."
"My reasoning is not identical to that of Yuki Nagato?" Kimidori asked while tilting her head.
"Develop an affinity for another entity outside of your faction. That is your condition."
"I must... annul my devotion to the Data Integrated Thought Entity as your condition?"
Yuki stepped forward in response. "Gaining a new affinity does not require abandoning what affinities you already have."
"But what conviction is more important than the desire to gather more efficient data for your creator? Can you please show me?"
Nagato, Asakura, and Suoh brace themselves as Emiri brandishes a luminous card that contests my vision. Once I got my bearings straight, I realized that the four of us that face her are now in an illusion within an illusion. Endless space surrounds us yet again, but this time it is no dream. A faded voice echoes through the infinity.
"Vast Galaxy: Star Cross."
The constellations around us change in shape and close in on us with intensifying heat. Wait a second, I just remembered that I'm human and could be incinerated by all of this!
A frail hand grasps mine
A void appears followed by
A sinking feeling
Thanks to the type of feat that Yukari Yakumo does for leisure, Kuyoh and I warp to the top of the balcony. Emiri gazed down at the dome of darkness that developed where we once were. The entire room is filled with warm orbs that slowly melted into the black boundary.
"Kimidori!" I shouted in attempts to grab her attention. "Stop it! There is no reason to fight like this!"
"Negotiation and compromise are the best approaches to resolve a conflict," Emiri admitted without turning around. "However, there are select situations where words have no effect and actions are the most efficient means of expressing ideals. But Kyon... which party do you feel is in the right?"
It always comes down to this. Why does everyone have to ask for my opinions?
"It was your opinion that gave me the chance to try and persuade the others peacefully. Your beliefs continue to carry a significant impact to those around you. Even someone as inflexible as Ryoko Asakura has taken a liking to you recently."
If only I knew whether that makes my life expectancy longer or shorter...
"To put matters simply... your influence could end this conflict on the spot."
Once Emiri put it bluntly, I started to realize that I have yet to take a side personally. It does feel unreasonable to deny someone from the right to humanity. On the other hand, if Kimidori already has so much power over Yuki and Ryoko, who knows how much more chaotic the situation would become. Either way, someone will get hurt. Even if it is one individual who cannot feel, it still matters! But wait...
"Develop an affinity for another entity outside of your faction. Only then will I comply."
Kuyoh is not completely denying Emiri. All she asks is for her to develop a reason of her own like Nagato did. Whether or not finding something like that is simple, it is still a reasonable stipulation.
"In that case... I have decided, Emiri," I said causing her to lower her artifact and look at me from the corner of her eye. "Kuyoh will listen to you – but only once you discover the key to empathy."
The moment I finished that statement, the card-shaped item she held in her hand shattered into pieces. A few shards shot towards Kuyoh and I but they disintegrated into a finer gold dust upon contact. The black dome started to fade and reveal two troubled aliens breathing heavily. Emiri looked in their direction.
"To search for feeling without the ability to feel," she uttered to no particular target. "Is that not a catch twenty-two?"
"Can I get you to help me find it some time?"
"Thank you, Kyon," she replied. She took a few steps towards the center of the balcony joining an unfamiliar robed individual who emerged from behind me. Just as I determined that the cloaked individual was about five centimeters taller than me, they warped out of sight.
"Thank you for saving us," Yuki greeted as Kuyoh and I went down to them.
"My performance was poor because these senses distracted me too much!" complained Ryoko. "Why does Kimidori want them so badly?"
Yet again, Asakura's ranting forced a couple of chuckles out of me. She glared at me as if she were plotting how she will make me regret laughing at her. I feel slightly insane for feeling less threatened by her angry face, but I slowly began to realize this about myself.
Nagato told the lot of us that once we abandon this building, we will return to the real world. Kuyoh was the first to leave and Yuki followed shortly after. Ryoko stood nonchalantly by the doorway as if it does not matter where she is. I thought to myself and remembered that once we go back, Ryoko would not be going with the rest of us. She came here as a standby unit and will probably go into hibernation after all of this. Knowing that...
I decided now is the time to resolve my unfinished business.
"I didn't answer earlier when you asked who I thought was more evil between a mastermind and a grunt... There is no way for me to answer something like that, because evil exists in everyone. The grunt is just as evil as the mastermind. The victims are just as evil as the syndicate... and the heroes are just as evil as the villains. Humanity is complex like that. I think that is why Emiri wants to-"
"I'm leaving," Asakura interrupted. She turned abruptly and made her way out of the mansion. I barely recall what I just ranted about, but I distinctly remember watching her face change as I was going on. She reddened even though I didn't say anything embarrassing, and right before she left me behind she looked like she was going to explode. It was then I determined that Ryoko has virtually no tact for masking her emotions. I was only a baby when I began to adjust to my feelings, so I cannot relate to her in that department. However, if Asakura decides to hold on to her humanity for just a bit longer...
I will do my best to help her.
Author's Notes: Thank you for reading! Now then, as I was alluding to before, I have some good news and some bad news! First the good news. Later on in May 2011, the official Haruhi Suzumiya Light Novels will be published! This means that the long-awaited continuation to the canon Alpha & Beta Dimensions will be officially released to the public! That has a bit to do with the bad news. This is very likely to be the last update I will be doing to "The Gamma Dimension," until then. And if I do update this AU, I will be releasing it under a separate story title codenamed: 'Haruhi GD'. For those who may be interested, it will be beneficial for you to subscribe to me as an author if you have not done so already. It was a real pleasure for me to write this story for all of you, and I hope you all had as much fun as I did! Feel free to leave a review! Constructive criticism is especially appreciated since I know there are several ways for me to improve as a writer, and I wish to learn those ways one step at a time! Until we meet again!