Someday, for You Who Lived Here / Forever, for You Who Stay There - Chapter 8
8 – Current Day. 1943, February 13th, 5:03. Northern Commonwealth territory, secret coordinates.
“So, what happened to ‘him’?”
After the soldier finished his story.
Before I knew it, I had even put my gun down and asked to hear more of his story.
He looked at me and smiled as he quietly continued.
“He and she met again after that and lived happily ever after. That’s how it would end if it were a normal story, which would have been beautiful, but unfortunately, that was not the case.”
He lightly shrugged before continuing.
“There’s nothing more to tell after that. In the end, he could not save her. That’s all there is to say about it.”
He muttered so without emotion and faintly sighed.
“He entered the Controller’s command and spent around a year working for him. Then news reached him that the saint, Yozuki, drew her last breath.”
No sorrow, no anger. Just a cold, icy voice.
“How foolish, isn’t it? To get his comrades into it, even fighting the country. Entering the backstage of the Commonwealth and dirtying his hands with way worse things than blood, and this is the result. That foolish young boy just lost everything in the end.”
He looked down at his own hands covered in gloves, and a self-deprecating smile appeared on his face.
The soldier with the burn scar—no, frostbite scar—muttered so, and I asked him another question.
“Do you regret it?”
He looked a little surprised at my question, smiled with some confusion, and said, “Well, who knows?”
“It would be a lie if I said I don’t regret it. I thought that I could at least save the other saints, and here I am. In the end, I couldn’t do anything for her, and not for them either. Yes, it would be a lie if I said I don’t regret it.”
He glared out a window and looked as if he was about to say something.
He couldn’t find the words, however, and fell into silence.
He stared at me, and the soldier faintly smiled before opening his mouth to speak again.
“Now, spy. That’s enough reminiscing. Let’s talk about it now, shall we?”
“In other words, why did you come here? But I suppose that’s obvious, is it not?”
He then put his hand in his pocket. I thought he would pull out a pistol again, but what he pulled out was a small portable recording medium.
“All the data about the saint that was left on this facility’s servers is here.”
I looked back at the soldier in shock. I couldn’t read his intent from his expression, but… He didn’t seem to be lying.
“Why are you in possession of something like that?”
“Someone asked me to hand it over if anyone came here looking into the saints.”
After that unclear answer, he put it on the table and continued.
“However, I can’t just hand this over nice and quick. So, please let me ask you one question.”
He smiled without using his eyes and continued.
“Why do you want to know about the saint?”
I tried to figure out the intent behind those words but quickly gave up.
“The answer to that is simple. The human weapons that they called ‘saints.’ ‘We’ think that they should be known to the public.”
“In order to shake this country, the Commonwealth?”
“That too, yes. However…”
I honestly nodded and continued speaking truthfully.
“It’s also because of my own will, unrelated to ‘us.’ It’s just like I told you at the start. I just think that they should be remembered by someone. Don’t you think the same way too? Isn’t that why you told me your story?”
I decided to tell him my honest thoughts.
The soldier then looked surprised for the first time since I’d met him, smiled with satisfaction as he closed his eyes, and faintly shrugged his shoulders.
“You’re not very fit to be a spy.”
“Are you disparaging me?”
“I’m praising you.”
He quickly threw something at me as he replied.
“Please take it. This is yours now.”
I anxiously caught the small recording medium thrown at me as he smiled once again, a real smile this time, and said, “I’m looking forward to seeing how you will utilise the truth.”
He said it happily and glared out the window as he quietly sniffed.
“It looks like it’s about time now. They smelled us out a lot quicker than I thought they would.”
“What do you mean?”
When I looked where his gaze led me, I saw numerous figures of people under the trees.
“It looks like your secret’s out. Maybe things moved on too rapidly after all.”
He said it calmly, in contrast to the meaning of his words, but…
“My secret’s out? But…”
“Don’t worry. There’s an escape route.”
He slowly stood up after saying so and stood before a book rack.
He pushed on one of the books that seemed to be sticking out a little, and the wall next to it slid open, revealing a stairway going down.
“This was built for times like this. Only the Controller of this location would know about it, so you should be able to safely make it out of the Miniature Garden.”
I nodded as he said so with a nonchalant look and then stepped into the darkness without hesitation.
The soldier, however, didn’t seem to be coming down.
“Umm, shouldn’t we hurry up?”
“Yes, that’s right. I’m going to make sure to close this door when you leave, so don’t worry.”
“Close…? You’re not coming?”
“Yes. Those guys are gonna find this path before long. I have to stay here and make some time for you.”
The soldier pulled out a pistol from his pocket and pulled the slide.
I felt something unpleasant as I looked at him from behind.
I was about to say something, but he beat me to it with a “By the way…”
“I forgot. I never asked your name.”
I was surprised that this is what he had to say.
“Name? Does that really…”
His mild but insistent tone convinced me, and I decided to give him my name after all.
“T. That’s my name.”
“A codename? How unkind.”
He muttered a little jokingly, and I continued after some silence.
“I don’t have any names to give to someone who might die… I’ll give you my real name if we meet again someday.”
He seemed a little surprised at my answer.
Then he contorted his frostbite scar and muttered in a calm tone, “I see.”
“So, T. This is farewell for a while. I’m looking forward to our next meeting.”
“Yes, me too. Take good care of yourself until… Ah, right.”
The soldier was about to close the hidden door, but my words stopped his hand.
“Is there something else?”
“No, it’s nothing important, but I’d like to gossip just a little one last time.”
“I believe I told you that we don’t have any more time.”
“It won’t take up much time.”
I pushed his hand away from the door and continued speaking almost one-sidedly.
“There’s been an increase in the number of people defecting to the Imperial Bloc, you see. I have a lot of opportunities to encounter these people too, but there once was a very strange group among them.”
I nodded in reply to the soldier, making a suspicious expression.
“10 young girls of very young age and a doctor. It was a very strange grouping, and it was just around the time when you said that the saints of this Miniature Garden were being dealt with.”
After I calmly said so, I saw a clear expression of bewilderment on the soldier’s face that I had never seen since I’d met him.
“…Girls? Were they-“
“Ah, sorry. I said that it wouldn’t take much time, so I should be escaping now.”
With that, I firmly pulled on the door from my side.
Confirming the clatter of the locking mechanism, I turned towards the door and said, “I really hope to continue our chat again sometime.”
Saying that I quickly began going down the steps.
A dark stairway barely lit up by lamps on the ground.
It felt as if it was a road leading to hell as I quickly continued going down.
There’s no hell waiting ahead, though.
I already know that.
“Haha, you really led her by the nose.”
After the spy girl left, a familiar voice reached the frostbite-scarred soldier’s ears.
The soldier glared at the voice coming from the other side of the bookshelf. It was a young man with blonde hair wearing the newest model of the package.
He was staring at the soldier with a friendly smile.
“Complete defeat in the end. She’s a great female spy, isn’t she?”
The soldier sighed as he shrugged his shoulders and continued after turning to the blonde-haired young man with a smile.
“More importantly, what’s the situation?”
“Ten jaegers with packages. That’s probably all. Things might be different if we had a saint, but they’ll have an easy time against humans like us.”
The soldier replied to the man’s unfunny joke.
Then another voice came from the bookshelf on the other side. It was a woman with red hair wearing a package.
“C’mon, Kai. This isn’t the time for laughter. Can’t you see how dangerous the situation is right now?”
“Of course. That ultra-class idiot over there ran off without thinking again.”
The soldier looked disappointed as he didn’t reply to Kai’s remark, which sounded a lot more joyful than its contents would imply.
He seemed different than he did up until a moment ago, looking more fitting for his age.
“Are you gonna kneel down and apologise or something? I may actually forgive you, y’know.”
“Ahaha, what a great proposal! Maybe you should do it first and set an example, Kai?”
The soldier looked at the two arguing even in this situation and sighed while shrugging his shoulders.
“You two really never change, huh?”
The two looked puzzled after the soldier’s remark.
“You’re the one that never changes, you know.”
The two then replied at the same time.
“Well, you did grow a lot taller. I thought you finally started looking better on the outside, but you’re still just as reckless on the inside as back then. You’ve gotta think about us too sometimes.”
“Indeed, apologise, apologise!” We came all the way to this hell because of you, so!”
“Well, we’re the ones who decided to follow him, but…”
The young man beside the woman laughing replied, “Well, yeah,” then turned around to the soldier and asked:
“So, what will we do now, General?”
The soldier quietly thought a little after his question.
He then looked at the soldiers moving around outside through the window, squinted, and quietly spoke:
“Let’s go out the front doors.”
“Hey, are you serious?”
“The enemy wouldn’t expect us to do something that suicidal. There are fewer enemies there as well, and we’ll be behind them.”
It was the woman next to him who asked the next question after his serious explanation.
“What are our chances of victory?”
“Who knows? At least a little.”
“How sloppy. Are you trying to die?”
“Of course not. Thanks to the gossip that the female spy made with me, I’m feeling too stubborn to die now.”
The soldier said so and smiled like a young boy.
“I’m relieved to hear that.”
The blonde-haired young man laughed tiredly again and brandished the automatic rifle on his back as he shook his head.
“So, same as always?”
“Yeah. All we can do is keep moving forward.”
The soldier then looked up.
The early dawn sky. It was gloomy, but the light was beginning to come down, and he continued as he looked up at the faintly blue-coloured sky and said with fire in his black eyes:
“We’re going to move forward for her, too, because she couldn’t. For that, we’re gonna crush anything in our path.”
“If this country and this war have shut her in, then we’re going to break it all down.”
After that quiet declaration, he looked ahead again and called out to the two standing by him.
“I don’t know if I can do this alone. So… please help me.”
His order to the two was simple.
“Don’t die, you two.”
“Show us what you got, our dear ‘survivor’!”
A time when everything was lost, and when everything was broken.
Born in that quagmire, however, were the people who had to continue fighting.
Being stepped over like weeds again and again. They still looked ahead.
Even if there was no dawn in the future, there was never-ending, glittering snow inside their hearts.
So they used its light and forged ahead through the dawnless night.
Their hell, or their youth, would surely never end.
Not as long as they continued facing it with a smile.
True End: The Cherry Blossoms of December and the Saint Without Hope
The skies were clear and blue on that December day.
The top-secret facility, the Miniature Garden.
Lenka looked at the back seat of his military transport after showing his ID card to the Defender guarding the front gate and called out to the person sitting in it.
“Hey, we’ve arrived.”
It seems that he had fallen asleep even in the military transport, which was known for being hard to sleep in.
That person slowly raised his head up after being called out to by Lenka and got off the transport as his white robe swayed.
Lenka looked at the person with a side glance, who was still a little wobbly after just waking up.
Covering his slender figure was a white robe with a scarlet design sewn on it.
The thing that drew the most attention was his face, however, and the boorish mask covering it.
He was called “Watcher.”
He was a more slender man than that Controller, who died almost a year ago.
Lenka’s job today was to bring this suspicious Watcher to this location.
Lenka squinted his sharp eyes as he saw him being led away by a Defender after words of gratitude.
Grim reapers of the battlefield—the top brass didn’t say anything about the reason why such a man was being sent into this Miniature Garden, but it was easy enough to guess.
They had decided to get rid of the saints.
That’s why they sent in that thing. They were planning to pretend to support the saints while secretly moving ahead with their disposal.
Lenka couldn’t do anything about it even if he knew, and he didn’t intend to either.
Lenka and the others ‘died’ that night.
Official documents stated that they were executed by firing squad as deserters, and they had turned into people who should not exist, working under the Controller.
Under the Controller, Lenka and the others gained the position of ‘Anchor.’
Military officers who have been granted the authority to take independent action without relying on the military or the Academy.
His hands would get dirty from time to time with the Controller’s orders because of that. He barely escaped death many times, and he did a lot of things that he would rather not remember.
One year passed by like that, almost reaching two. Today, Lenka finally reached this place.
Miniature Garden: the place where Yozuki was sent and where she was said to have drawn her last breath.
He declared himself to the defenders and entered inside. They had stern expressions, but as someone directly under a Controller, no one showed him any opposition.
He looked around as he entered through the gates.
A large site surrounded by high fences crowned with barbed wire. There were white buildings lining up the ground, surrounded by lush green groves out of season, and it looked like a boarding school at a glance.
No, it was indeed that—in the sense that the young saints were receiving their education and training here.
Lenka looked up; the sky was the same as it had always been.
Yet, Lenka knew something. He knew that there was a newly developed holo screen over this facility. It was a wall to stop observation from the skies and to hide the saints’ existence.
It was lecture time, so Lenka walked through the empty grounds as he thought to himself.
It was impressive how they built all this.
It was also impressive how easily they abandoned the girls after caring for them so thoroughly.
Walking under the trees, full of leaves even in winter, he went around a building that looked like a school.
He wasn’t particularly going somewhere specific. He knew that the thing he was looking for—the thing he wanted to find—wasn’t here anymore.
It had already been over a year since he was told that she had died. He had already come to grips with it.
No. That would be a lie.
Somewhere in his heart, he still could not accept it. Precisely, it was because he could not look ahead that he chose this job to transport the Watcher and come here.
He wanted to see if she had left even a little bit of herself behind in the place where she spent her last moments.
Lenka stopped in the woods behind the school building as he giggled at his own misery.
A useless sentiment, he thought, as she would never come back anyway.
He was about to turn on his heels then, but…
“Why are you hanging around a place like that?”
A lovely voice echoed like a ringing bell, and Lenka suddenly looked back.
It was a petite girl standing there.
A Commonwealth officer overcoat that didn’t fit her body and a winter army hat.
She had a silver cane in her right hand to help her walk, and her legs were covered in something like armour.
And most of all, her hair.
Her hair, casually let down, was pale pink like cherry blossoms.
“Who are you?”
Lenka gathered himself and hurriedly made up a calm expression; it was a technique he had mastered over the last two years.
“Excuse me. I just wanted to take a stroll, but I got lost.”
“A stroll, huh? That’s quite a risky stroll, is it not?”
She muttered so with a neat, expressionless face like a doll. When she looked at Lenka, however, her expression swayed, even if just for a moment.
Lenka thought about how he would explain it.
The girl before him was certainly a saint; it would be a lot of trouble if he openly talked about Yozuki with her.
He hurriedly tried to come up with a lie on the spot, but the girl opened her mouth to speak first.
“Let me see you off if you can’t walk by yourself, Mr Suspicious. Before that, though…”
She said this, walking with a light gait, and continued.
“Will you stay with me for just a little while?”
The girl took him along a forest road to a large-scale botanical garden.
A wide variety of plants, from tropical to cold, were all mixed and lined up. Lenka opened his eyes wide in the corner where she led him.
Separated from the other plants, it was a cherry blossom tree that was so splendid that it was worth looking up at.
“Look how well it’s blooming. That’s surprising this season, isn’t it? Is this what you wanted to show me?”
“Of course not. This is just a fabrication; it blooms all year, so there’s nothing special about it.”
Lenka was confused by the girl’s cold reply.
What was she thinking about? He looked over at her, and she took something out of the back of the thick trunk of the tree.
“This is what I wanted to show you.”
Saying that she casually handed Lenka a worn-out notebook with a grass-coloured cover.
It was a record book issued to soldiers. Lenka took it, wondering why she would hand him such a thing, and gasped as he carefully flipped through the first page so as not to tear it.
Such words were lining up on the first page.
Lenka knew, however, that these were not mere words but names.
“Ah, I’m so relieved. I guess you’re the right person, after all.”
After the girl tiredly muttered so, Lenka asked her while forgetting to hide his expression.
“What’s going on? Why are you giving this to me?”
“If a soldier with a frostbite scar on his face ever shows up, hand this over to him. That’s what she told me.”
“Who? You should know already, right? Mr Lenlen.”
Lenka was in shock after he heard the girl calmly say his nickname.
This… This notebook, it’s…
With renewed determination, Lenka reopened the notebook.
There were countless names written on it. In addition to the thirty or so names that the two decided on at first, there were a lot of other names he didn’t know.
Perhaps they were the names that she came up with herself. There were some parts that were quite difficult to read.
“Damn it. I told her that she should write in a way that we could read later.”
Lenka muttered, taking a sigh, and continued flipping through the pages.
Lenka’s hands stopped at one last page after flipping through many white pages.
It wasn’t a name written there.
It was a text with several lines.
He slowly followed the letters. The strokes were getting shaky towards the end, and they became very difficult to decipher towards the end.
After reading it until the end, Lenka saw that there was something in the notebook on the last page.
It was the packaging paper of that chocolate that they ate together.
It was completely flat after being in the notebook for so long, and Lenka bitterly laughed after seeing it.
“You really take way too good care of things, don’t you?”
He muttered to her, who was no longer here.
Then he looked up at the cherry blossom tree and its many branches and opened his mouth to speak again.
“Damn it. I can’t believe you did this.”
Going away after leaving this stuff…
How can I stop after reading this?
How can I stop after you show this to me?
How can I give up?
“Are you done?”
The girl with the pink-coloured hair muttered after staring at Lenka for a while.
“I’ll take my leave then. There’s a gate if you go straight south, so you can leave there.”
“Weren’t you going to see me off?”
The girl answered Lenka’s question:
“It doesn’t look like I need to. Because I think you can walk by yourself now.”
She calmly said so, turned on her heels, and began walking away.
Lenka looked at her back and instinctively called out to her.
“Thank you, Kokonoe.”
The moment Lenka called her name, her icy, expressionless face showed a clear change for the first time.
It was hostility and confusion.
“Why do you know my name?”
“That’s a secret.”
Lenka declared so with a little pride as she deeply frowned, raising her eyebrows.
She turned her back to Lenka again without a word after that and left.
Lenka saw her off until he couldn’t see her pink-haired head any more, and then he looked up at the cherry blossoms and the tree again while holding the notebook.
A cherry blossom tree out of season. He looked up at the man-made product.
“Beautiful, isn’t it? Just like I told you.”
He muttered so to no one in particular and almost felt that he could hear someone saying, “Yep, it is.”
- To Lenlen
It’s been a while. I hope you’re doing well. I’m alright.
I’m not sure how you write a letter or if it’s okay to write it in a notebook like this in the first place.
Itsuka told me that I should still write one. So here I am.
Well, I wonder where I should start.
Right. Do you still remember back when we kissed?
I definitely do.
It was actually very embarrassing, but I was surprised by how faint your reaction was. But you were pretty shocked after that, too, so I guess it’s okay. Yeah, it is.
Anyway. I’ve gotta write some stuff that’s more fitting for a letter.
When I asked Mitsugi about what I should write, she said you’re supposed to write about your current situation when you’re writing a letter.
It’s been exactly one year since I came to the Miniature Garden.
Everyone loved the names that we decided on with you.
The defenders never use them, but the names really stuck between us.
I just got some more younger sisters, so I wanted to give them names too.
To be honest, I was very depressed when I first got sent back here.
Still, everyone’s here, and it’s a lot livelier than I thought it would be, so I’m having fun.
There is some not-so-fun stuff, though.
It hurts to have my blood drawn every week, and I don’t want to do the sacrament tests either since they hurt my body.
They said the Controller is gonna change, so my treatment might change too. I’m a bit worried about that right now, and… oh, right.
There’s no chocolate in the Miniature Garden.
I told my sisters to bring me back some when they go out on attacks, but no one knows what chocolate is, so they keep bringing me the wrong stuff.
I’m starting to feel a bit bad, maybe because I wrote about so much stuff that’s not fun.
I said I was alright just now, but I’m actually not doing so well.
My hand is starting to hurt and tremble after writing this stuff. I try to think about you, Charl, and Kai when I feel bad, but it’s still really hard.
The inhibitors haven’t been working that well recently, and I’ve been having some trouble sleeping too.
I just want to be with you all again.
I just want to think about you all.
I miss you.
I want to see you again soon.
There’s so much that I can’t say in a letter like this. I want to hear your voice and talk to you. There’s so much I want to tell you. I really hope you’re thinking about me too.
You remember the promise, right? You’re gonna come and get me, aren’t you?
I feel like I’ve been worrying so much recently. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I’m scared.
I’m scared that we won’t meet again. I can’t help but think that I might just die like this, and it gets so scary when I’m trying to sleep at night.
That’s weird. I wasn’t planning on writing that stuff.
Sorry, I’ll write some more fun things.
Right! They planted one of those ‘sakura’ trees that you were talking about in the botanical garden.
It’s so beautiful, just like you said.
I wish my hair colour was like that, too, like Kokonoe’s. Don’t be surprised if you see that I’ve dyed my hair when we meet again, okay?
I don’t know when it will be, but I’m waiting for you to come here.
Only if, but…
If you come here and I’m not here any more…
Please move forward.
Keep going for me, and please, save those kids for me.
Please remember them; you’re the only one who will.
I know I’m asking too much.
But you’re the only one I can ask for help.
Well, I’m getting tired now, so I’ll leave it here for now.
I’m looking forward to hopefully looking at Sakura trees while eating chocolate with you.
Maybe chocolate would be too luxurious, huh?