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?
Yukari has IA’s video première set to automatically archive itself onto her desktop files, but she’s been so engrossed with her new concept album, that the time passes her by at the speed of sound. After a long day of composing and tweaking some of the effects on her program, in order to sample the different frequencies of orchestral instruments, Yukari pops her shoulder back.
The left shoulder cable whirs and spasms. The lavender-haired woman groans with a lingering sentiment (—that could easily pass as something resembling a sigh) from her half-open lips, “I guess, this means I have to go on an errand and get some oil lubricant for my damned sprockets. Jesus! Having an organic must be so easy to maintain, by comparison!”
Walking down from the cater-cornered street’s edge, the items at the store bulge obscenely from the plastic bags. It’s clear that the oil kegs are far too heavy for such a flimsy, single-use solution! Yukari is tempted to fling the plastic film over her shoulder, but her shoulder might start contracting again.
The sun is blaring like an unrelenting kerosene lamp, set asunder in the open sky, and a robotic dog plunks around in hop-steps — amidst the vast expanse of the concrete jungle. Even the hunkering titanium structures seem to warp and wilt in the summer heat. Along the mirage of the countless VOICEROID heads and an imbroglio of tangled wires and neon signs, there’s an all-too familiar face!
There’s a fever felt from their crossing of each other, it’s like a Newtype’s sixth sense in the Mobile Suit Gundam universe; the sea of sound is muted indefinitely for their eyes to link amongst the crowds. IA has a pageboy cap resting on her long locks of hair and she’s wearing sunglasses, and a plaid pea coat — but it’s unmistakable! Their hands extend towards each other, though the blonde idol retracts her reach at the conscientiousness of Teto noticing the desperation that she has towards a stranger.
The girl with the salmon hair-drills was already pressing her pretty hard, for disappearing the day prior! While they’re walking, Teto has her face pressed into the text of a newspaper. IA glances longingly towards Yukari, and improvising a reason to go towards the opposite direction, she proposes with a sweet ding in her inflection, “H-Hey, um, I’ve been really wanting to try some of the snacks at that coffee shop back there!”
Unthinkingly, Teto glances up, through her shades, and drawls into an exposition: “Very good choice, Ari. Yes, yes! That is the Cet Obscur Objet du Désir, know in the English language as That Object of Desire! They use experimental glazes for their danish roles, like butterscotch and rum! I, too, have been keeping them on my shopping list — hey! Ari, wait up! You’re walking too fast—”
IA wades through the mob and linking her fingers with Yukari’s, she strings her along with her, until they are in the café. The steam in the shop smells of espresso and pastries. Yukari yowls softly, saying, “Oh man, that’s the arm that I dislocated from earlier!”
“Apologies,” IA blurts out hastily, “um, listen! That girl that was with me will be here soon. She’s another VOCALOID, so uh, um… I have to pretend that I don’t know you!”
“Why are you talking with your back turned to me?” Teto gasps and grasps IA’s shoulder, “I could have died from being swallowed up by that huge crowd, y’know? Is that woman an acquaintance of yours?”
IA looks squeamish, secrets are obviously foreign to her, so Yukari interjects with, “No, she was just waiting in line behind me. She was asking me if I was waiting.”
“Ah,” Teto says, with a complete retraction of all of her earlier suspicions, “sorry to bother you then! So, IA—”
Teto goes on rambling about one thing or another, and as much as she resists doing so, IA can’t help but stare at Yukari, out of the corner of her eye. The purple-haired vocalist orders a cappuccino to look less suspicious, and IA is thankful for her assistance, to avoid the risk of Teto starting to fire up her arrant, detective mode! IA orders a plain cheese danish, while Teto chows down on their rum bread.
The talkative red-head is in bliss and eats the pastry so vociferously, that IA lends her a handkerchief out of courtesy! IA’s peals of laughter are infectious, Yukari is so envious of her pal that she sulks to herself, thinking, Man, it really sucks that I can’t meet her friends, like she did with mine. It’s all because of our class differences, isn’t it? I want to sit across of Ari, too, and watch her sweep her bangs out of that glowing, cherub face. And talk about confectionaries!
Teto stiffens her hand and whispers to IA, “I think the girl from the line is staring at you! You might have an admirer.”
“Oh, no,” IA dismisses, remembering the power in Yukari’s vocal resonance and tremors it sent down her spine, “t-that can’t be!”
“Yeah,” Teto confesses blatantly, “it’s not like one of the people from the slums would ever even dare to flirt with us, right?”
At the ignorance-based cruelty that Teto was exposing, IA’s eyes were sunken, her thoughts sunk into the deepest of seas, I wonder what Teto would think, if I told her that Yukari’s band was much more talented than most of us VOCALOIDS? What would she say then?
“Ari?” Teto calls out to her, “Earth to Ari!”
“Oh, hey?” the blonde-haired woman replies, not even knowing what to say in this instance.
Every time she felt Yukari’s amethyst eyes melt into her side, courage was beginning to blossom at last, and she declares, “Love is love. Androids are free to love whomever they choose to!”
“B-But,” Teto stutters and is unsure of herself, “w-wouldn’t that go against the dollmaker? God? To get with a different model would be cross-breeding? The dollmaker made us to be purchased as surrogate lovers for humans, we are unfit for such low-level circuitry!”
“It doesn’t matter,” IA gave another proclamation, eyes afire, “God gave us emotions and feelings and free-will, even though people often feel sentiments that are often too strong, so strong that it can’t possibly be their choice who they love. In a way, the dollmaker has designed us to love freely. Isn’t that right?”
Teto is stunned into silence.
“Sorry,” IA clamors shyly, “it’s something that’s been on my mind lately. On my heart. I have prayed for answers, again and again, and that’s the best solution that I’ve come to.”
“Oh, scheissen!” Teto exclaims, “We’re going to miss our train, back into the hamlet of land by our establishment, if we don’t vamoose! Like, soon!”
“A-Alright!” IA vociferates and quickly packs her bags.
As she’s leaving, she wants so badly to be near Yukari again. The realization of the incumbent reality weighs on her, the caste system, the dollmaker, all of it is so hard to comprehend! They slide through the door, like a zephyr in repose, Yukari barely even sees IA’s flit of wandering eyes, as the two of them make their exit.
The bells on the glass door jingle and in a split second, the café feels particularly lonesome. The gradual harmonization in the store’s assortment of jazz melodies, lends itself to the curse of melancholy that Yukari is feeling. Her clay cup is empty, but she can’t ever recall taking a single sip. Every web of thought concerning IA is thoughtless and almost instinctual, inside the coffee house is a wintery mystique, while children down the road split open a watermelon with a sharp stick.
IA feels the same in the aisle of the train station walkway, Teto is bobbing her vibrant curls vigorously, but IA’s heart is elsewhere. The bustling crowd starts pouring into the doors of the bullet train as soon as the doors gasp open, They are some of the last to board, so IA is crammed against one of the egresses.
There is a final announcement to the passengers, and feeling her heart thump as loudly as a bell at the start of a boxing match, the spontaneity climbs through her and all at once, she slams on the red emergency stop button and jogs out of the sliding doors! Teto screams after her, “ARI, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU KNOW, THERE ISN’T GONIG TO BE ANOTHER TRAIN BACK! THIS IS THE LAST ONE!”
“I FORGOT SOMETHING BACK THERE,” IA shouts back, barreling through the crowds, “SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT!”
“CALL ME WHEN YOU’VE FOUND IT!” —is all Teto is able to muster, already sending messages about it to the production staff and their peers!
Nothing is in IA’s mind, other than the hope that Yukari hasn’t left, and out of nowhere, a heavy rain begins to clatter down! IA stops a moment and holds out her hands to catch the many droplets, thinking solemnly, As fate may have it, this is what it was like when we first met. Back in the pouring rain.
Yukari grimaces at the sight of the downpour from the window, wondering if the sudden shift in weather will damage her parts, she says to herself, “Ah, I guess, I’ll wait for it to lighten up a bit, before heading out.”
The lavender-haired beauty pops an ear-bud into her right ear and listens to her new song, “This is Elimination,” her own voice slithers through the wiring:
「 あぁ、もう！今あの子の事見てた！ 」
Ahh, Jeez！Just look at that girl！
You thought “just a little peek will be fine,” didn’t you！
I won’t listen to anymore of your excuses！
Liar！You’re the worst！
This place has always been for the two of us,
Listen closely to everything
I’m about to say, It’s an important matter
You absolutely have to kneel
Her wandering eyes catch sight of the sopping-wet IA, her looks are imposed by sleet and silver rain. Yukari grabs her belongings and ambles outside, in the midst of the thundering storm, the purple-haired singer wraps her arms around the thin idol and shouts out, “What are you doing out here? Without an umbrella or your friend? Huh? You’re gonna get sick!”
“The streets are so voiceless in weather like this,” IA mutters kindly, “it’s like you and I are all alone here; within a chasm of space!”
“Ari…” —Yukari is transfixed by the somber serenity in this small person.
“I was always, always alone,” IA chants with mist escaping from her pursed lips, “a solo act, but, you’re here. You’re still here!”
“Let’s get inside,” Yukari suggests in a maudlin whisper, “get dried off, and get a warm drink in your hands.”
First 一 I’ve taken care of
OF EVERY SINGLE Girl in this world
After all you won’t be needing any of them right?
Just me is enough！
“No!” IA cries out and claps Yukari drenched clumps of hair, “Not yet!”
Wringing her hands against the fabric of Yukari’s blouse, IA closes her eyes and suddenly steals a kiss from the person she desires! The purple-haired vocalist is wide-eyed at the forward proclamation, sopping wet from the rain, feeling the warmth embrace her open lips. The front woman closes her eyes and takes IA into her arms.
Her body is shuddering and cold, and her cheeks and ears are aflame! The pattering of a summer storm surrounds them, with the many spectators that shield their faces under the bright lids of their umbrella’s spore-like shoots. Her song is still vibrating through her skull, the intimate embrace is transient. All of a sudden, IA’s abyssal eyes are consuming the punk rocker — she had never felt anything like this, anything as strong as love or passion or worship of another android.
As they touched and embraced and the storm raged on, so too did the single that clipped back and forth on-repeat:
That heart of yours,
Your body, your hair
The very tips of your fingernail
All belong to me after all
You should just always, always
be thinking of me
The only person controlling you
should be me, right?
but there is always the possibility
so to just make sure aside from us,
××× everybody is ×××
いらない！ いらない！ いらないの！
Okay? I’ll say it once more
The only person allowed to control you is me
Things other than me in this world…
You don’t need any of them！
What are you doing? Where are you going?
I want to know more about you
Show me everything because I’ll eliminate everything
in this world you don’t need
My heart is full of nothing but you
I want to satisfy you ’til you overflow
but my anxieties fill me up to an inextinguishable extent
Aaa jeez stop it!
My body, I’ll give it all to you
yes, so soak all of it in
You should just be thinking
of me all the time
The only person controlling you
should be me, right?
It’s true look at the red thread of fate
connecting us, it’s here
＝＝＝ so there’s nothing to worry about ＝＝＝
そうよ！ 絶対！！ 離れないもん！！！
IT’S TRUE！ WE ABSOLUTELY！！
WON’T BE SEPARATED！！！
I’m a crybaby and selfish
I’m sorry for always causing you trouble, sorry for doing that！
But, I’m always with…
You should just always always
be thinking of me all the time
The only person controlling you,
shouldn’t it be me alone？
But, isn’t there always the possibility？
so to just make sure, aside from us, everybody is
いらない！ いらない！！ 排除なのです！！！
THIS IS ELIMINATION！！！
Because I’m always always
thinking of you
The only person controlling me
should be you
But, there’s always the possibility
so to just make sure aside from us,
いらない と思わない？ いらないの！
don’t you think everybody else is unneeded？ they’re unneeded！
Jeez! Can’t you lie, at least a little bit！
Without understanding my feelings！
You’re always, always way too blunt
TO BE CONTINUED