EP. 08-4E  Parader Ⅳ (1)

...

Voice of a little girl Mom, when we're there...can we really eat till we're full every day?

Voice of a mature woman Of course, sweetheart.
We can have three meals a day, and there won't be any monsters anymore.

Voice of a little girl Yay! That's great!

M4A1 What...is this...?
What exactly is this recording...playing out before me?

Clear female voice It's someone's memory...
Hush. Just watch from the side.

Clamor Hey! Run!
Run for your lives! It's an airstrike! An airstrike is coming!

Voice of a little girl Mom! Mom! Where are you?!

...BOOM!!

...

Voice of an old woman You'll be staying here from now on.
Poor child. I'm really sorry about your parents...
But you must understand, this is the way of the world we're living in... You must work for your food.

Voice of a young girl Yeah...I understand...
Dad...Mom... Why did this happen...

...

Voice of a frivolous man Hey, young lady.
You seem to stare at the camp of the security contractor when you pass by every day.

Voice of a young girl ...I'm just...passing by.

Voice of a frivolous man I hear one of their bigshots is in there.
If I remember correctly...wasn't there an accident where a bunch of refugees were slaughtered by mistake? What a tragedy...
Rumors have it, the guy might've been in charge of that operation, I think?

Voice of a young girl ...!

Voice of a frivolous man Of course, just having that knowledge isn't particularly useful.
But with this, it'll be a different story.

Voice of a young girl ...!
...A handgun!
But...I have no money...

Voice of a frivolous man Heheh. Money isn't the only currency in the world.
Well? Care to hear my terms?

...

M4A1 A handgun...? Why would she...want such a thing?

Clear female voice Vengeance. Vengeance...for her family.

M4A1 I do not understand... Her decision is too rash. What purpose will her action serve?

Clear female voice Perhaps you can't understand...
But..I can.

...

Voice of a soldier Have you heard? There've been a number of assassinations targeting the contractor.
At this rate, we're gonna get extra shifts.

Voice of a soldier Halt, young lady. This is a surveillance area. Please state your purpose.

Voice of a young girl I'm here to deliver bread. I've made an appointment...

Voice of a soldier Is it your turn today? Fine. Make it quick.

...

Voice of a middle-aged man Hey, what are you doing?!

Voice of a young girl Devil's underling...go to hell!

...Bang! Bang!

Clamor Target spotted! He's making a run for it! Shoot him!

...!

Voice of a soldier Did I get him?! Go and check. Be careful!

Voice of a soldier Wait... This...This is the young girl just now!

Voice of a young girl ...
Dad... Mom...
Is this good enough...?

...

Languid female voice Is that so...? Can't believe that happened...
...Yeah, I think there's still saving her.
Well? Why not give me a chance? I could use a volunteer at my lab right now.

......
...

M4A1 That girl... What happened to her afterwards?

Clear female voice Are you worried about her?

M4A1 I do not know...
Perhaps I am merely curious...about whether she actually died.

Clear female voice She won't die until she fulfils her purpose...

M4A1 ...
Who...on earth are you?

Clear female voice Don't you remember?
We...should've met before...

M4A1 ...!

Sangvis Command Center, Area S02.

Destroyer What are you doing, Dreamer?! Griffin troops are almost at the door!
Do something with your super aerial weapons!

Dreamer Calm down, Destroyer. It's not time to get real yet...

Destroyer Huh? We're about to lose our territory!
Surely you know how important this place is!

Dreamer But it's only YOUR territory, isn't it? That's got nothing to do with me.

Dreamer gets up from her seat.

Destroyer Hey! Dreamer, where are you going?!

Dreamer Agent...seems to have issued new directives. I should go on standby.
(Sighs) What a drag. It's just for meeting up with someone, but not going is not an option...
It'd actually be more interesting if I could blow something up.

Destroyer E...Exactly! If you still have time to spare, why not help me out first?!

Dreamer Well...
You're right. It does seem rather inconvenient to head out like this.
Then I'll give your doorstep a sweep... You come with me.

Destroyer Huh? Do I have to? But the command post...
Hey! Wait up, Dreamer!

Dreamer Hurry up. The cleaning is about to begin.
(Mutters) At a time like this...one can't do without a bait...
Hahahahaha...

EP. 08-4E  Parader Ⅳ (2)

...
......

M16A1 Per...sica.
I've extracted...the file.

Persica ...
Well done, M16.
Deliver it to 16Lab with your drone.

M16A1 I've already dispatched it along with the equipment you gave me...
I've never used it, and I hope M4A1 will never have to use it either...

Persica ...She'll use it as she sees fit.

M16A1 Ha, true... She's a smart girl...
A bit TOO smart, unfortunately. An indecisive AI isn't fit for command. You really should've designed her to be more assertive.
Or if I'd been more strict with her... Sadly, that's no longer possible...

Persica Perhaps... But you're certainly still helping her.
You know...M4 is right behind me. Everything you say is directly transmitted to her neural cloud.

M16A1 Why are you doing that?

Persica To stabilize her mental state.
I'm attempting to break her seals, but forcing her to awaken through technology will make her neural cloud go haywire.
Your voice is keeping her calm and at peace. That's crucial to repairing and recalibrating the personality of her AI.

M16A1 Seal? Recalibrate? I don't think I'm following...

Persica M4A1... This time, I won't just wake her up.
When she awakes, she'll be stronger...and more dependable...
That's...how she used to be.

M16A1 Ha, I just can't picture...an M4A1 like that.
Too bad...I won't get to see it...

Persica Will you regret this, M16A1?

M16A1 Why would I? It's a bargain for me!
If I really mean that much to her...

M16A1 Tsk...

Persica What is it? Your neural cloud...is starting to act up.

M16A1 My head...is throbbing...
It's a very dull ache, nothing too bad, but it's kinda annoying... Is this how it feels to be rewired by Parapluie?

Persica Possibly... But AR-15 never reported this.

M16A1 Maybe she didn't want to. That girl...is always acting brave.
And...now there seems to be interference in my channel...

Persica That's Sangvis Ferri rewriting some of your modules. The channel will be jammed.
Very soon, you won't be able to hear me...

M16A1 Ha...
So I won't even get to say goodbye?

Persica The link is still there. If you want to say goodbye, do it now.

M16A1 Haha, will I wake her up, like in your fairytales?

Persica Do you want that?

M16 falls silent for a moment.

M16A1 M4A1...

M16A1 No matter what I'll turn into...wait for me.

Persica M16...

M16A1 Ha, that's a bit embarrassing...
But it's all I want to say...

With that, M16 gives herself a good stretch.

M16A1 In any case, I'm done here, right? What a relief.
Then let's bid each other farewell while my mind is still my own...

M4A1 M16...

M16A1 ...!

M4A1 M16...
Don't go...

Persica ...!

M4A1 M16...don't go...!
M16A1!!

At last, I see hope in this labyrinth.
It is in the form of a familiar and dependable figure, burning all alone in the distance, and I know that is the exit...
I run after her. The flame grows rapidly and bursts into a blinding light...
Until at last, it turns into a surgical lamp in the ceiling...and I make my way back into reality from what seemed like an endless dream.

M4A1 (Gasps) (Pants)

Persica M4A1...
You've finally...

M4A1 ...
Where...am I...?

Persica You're home, M4. Welcome back...

M4A1 I see... I have finally...
Also, Miss...Persica...
...Where is M16?
I heard her voice...

Persica M16...
Is out on a mission... She isn't here for the time being.

M4A1 Is...that so...
I want to...see her...

M16A1 Really? Then you'll have to wait for quite a while...

Statics crowd out all correspondence in the channel, and the signal is completely lost. It's time to leave. Leave everyone behind...
I get on my feet and dust myself. I'm starting to feel rather attached to the room.
Not because of the deleted memory, but because this is where I bade my last farewell...

I am bugged. I am monitored. I am used as an anti-communication weapon... What will I turn into, now that I've been marked by Parapluie?
The person who comes to mind right now isn't myself or anyone else. It is none other than AR-15...
That girl... What would she be thinking at a time like this...?
I'm losing my train of thought. I take a deep breath and hug my weapon tight.
I leave the room behind as the old iron door creaks shut.

"Most people won't realize it's the last day of their life as they wake up that morning."
Sometimes, things are actually easier when there's nothing else to lose.

Thud!

My neural cloud can no longer propel my limbs. I fall on my knees in the long corridor, like a cat with its bones taken out.
Time's up...
Now...I just have to await my fate...
......

M16A1 Singing...?

I start to hear the singing of a clear, female voice. I can no longer tell where it's coming from.
Maybe it won't hurt to just listen... I'm truly exhausted...

M16A1 Beautiful...
Have I finally...started dreaming as well...?

Dreamer Not really, M16A1. This is neither a dream nor a delusion.
You're merely completely immersed in the Sangvis deep web.

M16A1 Dream...er...

Dreamer My, my. You know...I really, really hate handling stuff like this...
Things that make me work overtime on short notice really ruin my mood...

M16A1 Well...? Not gonna...shoot...?

Dreamer Now let's not be hasty. Let me tell you something interesting.
Just now, you see, a modular drone flew over the area...
That kind of thing can be spotted from above very easily, you know...

M16A1 You mean... WHAT?!

Dreamer Relax. It has certainly been shot down, but it has fallen somewhere beyond my territory.
It'll take a while to see who'll get to it first.
But then again, it no longer has anything to do with you, does it?

M16A1 Humph...
Don't underestimate...our Commander...

Dreamer Whatever. After all, I don't really care about that sort of thing.

M16A1 So...what...do you want?

Dreamer Technically, it's our Mastermind that wants to see you.

M16A1 What?
I'm not seeing her here.

Dreamer She isn't here, alright...
But she's there in your mind...
Didn't you just hear her?

M16A1 ...!

The next day. Griffin HQ.

Helian Welcome back, Mr Kryuger.
Was everything sorted last night?

Kryuger Thanks to Persica, it's dealt with for the time being.
But we can't let down our guard. The military will pressure us time and time again in the future.

Helian By the way, Mr Kryuger...
Regarding the T-Doll M16A1...

Kryuger Her sacrifice will not be in vain.
Reward the Commander in charge of the operation. Comfort the other T-Dolls and keep a close eye on their mental state.

Helian Understood. I'll follow up on the matter. However...if I may be frank, sir, aren't the AR Team's neural clouds a little inconvenient?

Kryuger Everything comes with a price, Helian.
We're on the battlefield. There are always things that matter more than others.
Let's head to the office. I need to make some changes to the working plan. Are the preparations we've discussed ready?

Helian Yes...
Mr Kryuger, is the final showdown...about to begin?

Kryuger Just get on with the preparations...

Kryuger In any case, it won't be very far off.

Episode 8 - Spark. END.