Goodbye Liar — Chapter 8︱Her Subterranean Hallows, Pt. 2 (also known as “Reload”)

Art: Fū Miyami

On the trip to a bakery in the slums, IA is enraptured with a wandering street musician, while getting her daily croissant fix. IA is a famous VOCALOID idol and the aforementioned street urchin, Yukari Yuzuki, is part of the VOICEROID class — a caste of misfit, bootleg androids. Will the star-crossed lovers make their differing lifestyles work, or will the system bring them down?

IA’s heart was gliding through a proverbial ring, her frosty expression into a puddle of tears, her heart has gone through a transformation. Something that is ill-described, by words alone. Her lips part, the reverberation on the amps clatter like rain. Something was happening, her arms stretch open to catch the droplets of reverberation.

Yukari’s concerts are religious experience, and a song about her is like a touch of God.

The crowd was dispersing after the roaring applause. IA wipes the moisture from her face, and she’s suddenly vis-à-vis with the girl with the black, bunny-hood. Yukari opens her mouth to speak, stops, and then starts again with, “Your eyes are wet and red, is something the matter.”

“No,” IA says with a disarming smile, “it’s nothing.”

“This show went on for a long time, it’s really late,” Yukari externally muses, “say, do you want to stay here tonight?”

“What?” IA gasps, awakening from her forlorn daydream, “W-With you?”

“Sure,” Yukari proposes with a flush of realization, “I know it sounds weird, but I have this, uh, underground hideaway that we can chill in. It’s rather large, so you don’t even have to sleep next to me! You know, I am the person you designated as a slimy snail.”

“The epithet wasn’t meant to be insulting,” IA mutters, combing back a few strands of hair behind her ears, “it’s like this, I think snails are incredibly cute.”

“What?!” Yukari exclaims, clearly flustered, “Even with those weird, knobby proboscises that branch out of their skull?”

“Mhm,” IA says, with a chuckle and a slight motion of her hand, “I mean, proboscis is such a weird way to put it — wouldn’t you say? Why not just call them antennae, or something… you know, more normal?”

“Normal?” Yukari says with a hearty production of laughter, “You think a living creature having the same set of features as an archaic television set, you think actually think that’s normal? Animals are just us, with smaller circuitry!”

“I was always told that they were organic?” IA asks with a nubile innocence.

Yukari loops her arm around one of IA’s shoulder’s and begins to lead her to the back alley, stating cooly, “What is organic? Does it even really exist?”

IA’s skin is pink from the closeness to Yukari and she murmurs, the helpless haplessness of her confidence in her countenance within a state of conterere, “What do you mean to imply by saying that, Yukari?”

From a face withholding a bitter grimace, Yukari then has a shattered-glass grin and twirls IA around in a pirouette, whispering inches away from her face, “Doesn’t the dollmaker create us all equally? Or are you insinuating that some are allowed mortality, while others aren’t?”

“From my acquired knowledge,” IA squirms, and by restraining her urge to flinch — she, instead, blinks a few dozen times, “t-there are real humans, we call them producers. T-They serve under an elite few, some are of us are married off to affluent suitors. The male VOCALOIDS are, too!”

“From that line of reasoning,” Yukari expels the notion through the industrially grey shadows, “wouldn’t one assume that these humans are all our gods! That the small snail that slogs through the brushes has more dominion than us fakes?”

“I still think there is one dollmaker,” IA says, and the sudden movement that she conveys with her enthusiasm — causes her to brush noses with Yukari, “he made all of the fleshlings, and thus, we were modeled after them. Machinery is just as tangible as human body parts, after all. If we can all feel emotions, what makes either side less real?”

Yukari unfurls the spirited, young blonde and contemplates. IA wobbles a little, dizzy, as the purple-haired siren turns her back to her and enters a key-code into a concrete wall, surrounded by rows of stinking garbage piles! IA pinches her nose at the foul stench and there is a mechanical hatch that opens with the sound of an unhasped vacuum seal.

“Let’s go,” Yukari says with a serious expression, “you mustn’t linger around here, who knows who could be watching us.”

“Okay,” IA says, while scurrying into the portal. The door closes with such an imminent CLAP, that IA’s Rapunzel-like locks almost get stuck in its maw. Yukari eats the humble pie, by saying apologetically, “Hey, man. Sorry about that. I got my hair stuck in the damned thing one time, and I had to saw the locks off with a switchblade. I was lucky as hell to have the little carver in the pockets of my sweat-pants! I installed the door to optimize the security in this place, so it can be a bit testy!”

Yukari drops her hoodie around her shoulders and IA gasps. Although, the front of her lavender tresses drape down, past her bosom, the backside is completely cut off. It reminds IA of the stylish swing-bob haircut, that some inner-city women get. Yukari bears the cut, like one would with a gaping scar, and the blonde-haired girl chimes sweetly, “You’re so fashionable, Yukari! It’s incredible, it really is!”

“Are you making fun of me?”

“No, no, no!” IA splutters with an emphatic shake of her head and a wave of her hands, “Actually, I find it quite attractive!”

Yukari is stunned for a second, she’s looking at a girl that has the appearance of model and is regularly on TV… comparatively, she is just a slum-dog VOICEROID, in an indie band! The lavender-haired beauty brushes the compliment off and says, “Well, whatever. Let’s go, I need to get some shut-eye… I have a few songs that I’ve been writing and I need to see if they’re going to work with the band.”

As the traverse the blue-walled, cavernous dungeon — IA eyeballs the back of Yukari’s splintery strands of faded purple hair. From the moonlight, shining down from a skylight with a rusty, chain-pattern, the vocalist is suddenly awash in a wan glow. Her hair appears to be a pale silver and there’s something celestial about her presence.

Throughout the darkness, Yukari was completely a-tuned to the area around her. She never once looked back at IA. The bird-boned idol began to fret, thinking swiftly, Was I being too straight-forward by saying her hair looked attractive? Does she hate me now? Does she think I’m a creep? Was I just imagining that scene where she told me that she liked me? How can I tell her how I’m feeling right now? Do I even have the right to?

Lost in a medley of thoughts, IA loses her balance one of the jagged, stone tiles and falls face forward towards Yukari! Reflexively, the purple-haired woman wheels around and IA is in her friend’s arms! Her heartbeat is racing a million miles per hour as she’s gently caressed by her hooded hero. Yukari reflects an insouciant expression, but it feels as though there is a tightness in her grip around IA’s waist.

IA is perplexed as the brooding Yukari’s eyes glimmer on, ever-clear, in a shade of the darkest irises. With the strides of the mysterious wisteria-haired woman’s perambulations having ceased, her body is stick-still and her fair skin is as opulent as the marble on a statue. Instead of asking about her earlier comment, IA’s divine image inspires the prepossessing young blonde to implore, “You want to know what’s great about not being born a human being?”

“Where is this going?” Yukari sighs, releasing an ireful glance on the young ingénue.

“What I mean is this,” IA explains with bated breath, “I mean that — that purple is the hardest color for the human eye to see. But, with these cybernetic senses, I can see your hair and eye color with such vivacity! Even in the dark!”

“Ah,” Yukari dismisses callously, “it’s not like I really cared about those things anything. Moneybags of your kind… have such fickle fascinations!”

Yukari was repressing the fervor, that pumped sickly sweet, from her heart’s palpitations. Her long lashes closed for longer than the standard second. And after swallowing the carnality of a lustful beast inside of her, Yukari finally reached the dead-end, at the far stretch of the corridor.

IA is beguiled, and after Yukari presses her fingertips, in a specific pattern, against the palisade of a partition. Neon lights flare up from the onset and the entire wall fractionates, the rustic stone sound is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie! IA’s mouth is agape, and she follows the slender figure into a posh living area! It is akin to the type of lounges that the VOCALOIDs have backstage, except the countertop is strewn with energy drink cans and containers of instant noodles!

There are six computer monitors and the sound of a groaning modem. Along the side of the wall is countless guitar necks, headstocks arrayed like budding flowers, on wall mounts; below them are a row of different amps and distortion devices; and past that, there’s enough firearms to arm an entire militia! IA’s blood thickens, upon seeing the mass of weapons, she stutters out through silence, “What are all of those for?”

“If those fuckin’ bastards in the government try to mess with me again,” Yukari spits out, partially reaffirming this to herself, “I’ll take them out — the fuckers won’t get me without a fight!”

“Again?” IA asks, not able to think from concern, “Whaddaya mean get you?”

“Those bastards who like to play God,” Yukari mutters, almost incoherently quiet in her recollection, “they fucked me up as a kid, they took my innocence; but they were able to get away with it all, because of classism, because of this subservient society that we live in! If someone isn’t close to you, they don’t give a fuck whether you’re killed or prostituted on the streets! They follow these corporate talking heads and they take their words with reverence, even when public indecency and flagrant fraud is all an act, most of us bottom-feeders fuckin’ buy into the bullshit. The everyman feels schadenfreude from the pain of the celebrity martyr, that’s just the same as them, with glitzier clothes and nicer cars! While the real, baleful individuals… puppet-master the system and use politicians as a distraction. Like, do you hate accused child-molester A or B? And most people fuckin’ eat that shit up! It makes me sick!”

“So,” IA asks, all at once, intimidated and scared as the reality sets in, “does this mean you’re planning a coup against the government?”

“No,” Yukari bellows, the chagrin becoming an open fissure on her face, “there’s no point. They have already raped me and stolen from me. There’s nothing left to get back — so, my stock is just in case those fuckers come after me. For self-defense. I would rather die in shoot-out than be tortured and defiled. A coup? No chance, I’d just be fighting a losing battle and leaving my band without a singer, slash, guitarist. I can’t just abandon people who depend on me. And you know, even if I did stage such a thing — the dogged society would just use their disposable, meat-puppet soldiers to guard them from me!”

“Yukari, uh, um,” IA is visibly at a loss for words, “does the band come down here to practice?”

IA’s eyes are glinting and they cast themselves towards the instruments, Yukari soothes her worries with the words, “No, nobody else knows about this place. Other than Akari. I think the others have modicum of an idea about it, but for the most part, it’s a secret base.”

“Then, why bring me here?” IA asks, removing her arms from her breast.

“I don’t know,” Yukari remarks lethargically, “I guess I know that I could kill you easily, if you ever decided to betray me.”

IA audibly gulps and Yukari roars with a piercing laughter, saying, “It’s a joke! A joke! Can’t anyone from the ritzy parts take anything as humorous?”

IA is still speechless and Yukari suggests quaintly, “Say, you wanna jam with me?”

“Say what?” IA’s blithe confusion outweighs the confoundment.

“Gimme a song and I can play it on acoustic, while you sing, what do you say?”

“Alright,” IA posits, “how about a song called Reload… do you know it?”

“Yeah,” Yukari says with a knot of insincerity, “I heard it once or twice before, and I, uh, have played it.”

“That’s my song,” IA states loudly, “so you… ? Have you been listening to my albums?”

“I think I’ve just heard them once or twice on the tele,” Yukari blatantly lies, “it isn’t like I’ve been stalking you or anything.”

I’m a bad liar, Yukari thinks dolefully, a terrible wolf, deceiving her this way.

IA’s eyes scan her for a moment, but then her clear eyes remain faithful and radiant. Yukari rests the wooden basin in her lap and begins to play the piece seamlessly, pleasantly surprised at the woman’s dexterity, IA starts singing the first verse:

閑静の中に映える 金剛の滝の様

Wind flutters within me, like a waterfall’s heartbeat

天と地紡ぐ糸は決して解けない

The string connecting Heaven and Earth, can never come undone

わずかに紛れ込んだ太陽の光が

The sunlight that has vanished in the fight

鋭い影を表現してるわ

is expressing sharp shadows

凛とした空気を目一杯吸い込んで

Now inhale, the fresh air

目を閉じて気を鎮め覚醒を待つ

Close your eyes, calm down, and wake up

伝う空の涙 喜びで大地が踊る

Carrying the sky’s tears, the Earth rejoices

本能に身を任せて叫べ 叫べ 遠くへ

Entrust, your body’s instinct to scream, scream far away

香る枯れた涙 悲しみも山脈も超えて

The fragrant, dry tears pass over sorrow and the mountains

宿す誠の愛 燃やせ 燃やせ その心を

To dwell on love… burn, burn that heart

轟々と荒れる風を 両手で受け止め

Grasp the storming wind with both hands

全身が熱く燃えて小さな芽が出る

My whole body burns hotter, a small seedling appears

遥かな過去と未来を繋ぐ

Connect the distant, past and future

儚く脆くも生き抜け

Survive through your short life

心が千々に乱れる時は

When a heart is torn to a thousand pieces,

流るる息吹を感じて

Feel their flowing breath

伝う空の涙 喜びで大地が踊る

Carrying the sky’s tears, the Earth rejoices

本能に身を任せて叫べ 叫べ 遠くへ

Entrust, your body’s instinct to scream, scream far away

香る枯れた涙 悲しみも山脈も超えて

The fragrant, dry tears pass over sorrow and the mountains

宿す誠の愛 燃やせ 燃やせ その心を

To dwell on love… burn, burn that heart

TO BE CONTINUED

FFN: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13784755/1/Goodbye-Liar

Published by eggheadluna

H.E. Rodgers is the author of the Juniper's Tree series, also known as the 真柏Project. MyAnimeList: https://myanimelist.net/profile/Egghe... Twitter: https://twitter.com/EggheadLuna #真柏Project #JunipersTree

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