"Lorelei san, you've missed out a couple of things there." Shinya spoke bitterly.
Everyone stared at Shinya this time. His voice was cold like ice, and his words felt the same too.
"Lorelei san… the wonderful friend and confidante Yutaro sama thought he had finally found… conspired with Vice chairman in order to get rid of me…" the man punctuated his words with a forced, sarcastic laugh. Lorelei's green eyes widened at that accusation.
"Chigaimasu! I would never dream of doing that!"
"Yeah, yeah… what other different things can you come out? Might as well spill them all out so I can listen in one go." Words full of spite refuted Lorelei's defense.
Both opposing parties paused. One looked away, not wanting the onlookers to look at the pain reflected from his brown eyes. I didn't want to do it…you forced me…Lorelei no baka! The other's large and wet eyes blinked many times. She was trying hard to prevent tears to fall down. Face it, Lorelei, you have no right to cry… receive your punishment duly… meanwhile, the rest of the people in the room continued to look. Otaru, standing closer to Shinya, examined his brown eyes. The image of Lime's innocent, large blue eyes appeared in his mind. He reminded himself that that creature sitting in front of him was responsible for the state Lime is in now. He recalled what Lorelei had said. He has the otome kairo… a heart of a young girl… looked into brown eyes once more… Indeed, they are nothing like anyone's around. They are beautiful… like Lime's… but the once innocent large eyes have shrunk with the sadness that weigh around them…
On the other hand, Faust walked over to Lorelei. He'd never seen her in that state before. Not making a word, he quietly removed his scarf around his neck and passed it to Lorelei, imploring her to do something with those tear streaks on her face. She obeyed, wiping them away with his scarf.
The saber dolls looked on. They could not deliberate between themselves who was telling the truth and who wasn't.
"Well, since you say so, let us hear what else you have to add…" Faust said. Shinya looked up, away from the crowd.
"Hayashi san! Are you in there?" Lorelei slightly opened the door and shouted into Hayashi's lab.
"Ee, chotto…" A muffled voice floated out. Relieved that she has found him at last, she opened the door and went in.
"Mou… you're on Shinya again?!" she teased, walking towards the origin of the voice.
"Ee… last night, I thought of something really wonderful and decided to try it on Shinya. It'll be a miracle if this is successful…" the muffled voice replied.
"Oh?!" Lorelei had reached the end of the Lab and stood in front of a marionette compartment. She watched Hayashi san as he lay on the underside of the compartment, busy at work. She smiled. "You really take good care of your pet, ne?"
Hayashi smiled back. He raised his head to talk to Lorelei, but a miscalculation caused his head to hit against the bottom of the compartment, and he recoiled instantly in pain, moaning at the same time. Lorelei grinned widely at the amusing sight.
"So, what is it this time?" Lorelei asked.
Hayashi crawled out of his space (with caution) and stood up. After doing some final adjustments, he opened up the compartment. He showed Lorelei what he had just inserted.
"I have inserted this part which is like a information bank. With it, Shinya can access information easily! He'll be a genius Marionette!" Hayashi said, face beaming widely in sense of accomplishment.
"Sou ka… and what is in the information bank?" Lorelei bent forward and looked at the new part.
"Everything that I know. I do not want my marionette to be an empty piece of metal. Now that he has feelings, he should have knowledge too… I have stayed up all night to input everything that I know into this piece of metal…" he smiled, pointing to the information bank. He then bent down and woke the marionette up.
"Mou owatta, Shinya." He said, caressing the marionette. Large brown eyes opened instantly and blinked. It had caught the image of another girl in the lab and he sprung up in joy.
"Lorelei chan! Genki?" he asked in a beaming smile.
Hayashi has cleared his tools and now eagerly grabbed a chair next to the compartment. He asked Shinya question after question, then waited impatiently for the answer.
"Right Shinya! What is Newton's 3 laws?"
"What did Edison invent?"
"Who came out with the formula…"
"Mou! Chotto matte yo! Yutaro sama!"
The whole lab was filled with laughter. When Lorelei left the lab, she was still smiling widely, thinking of the things that took place earlier. It was sometime when she realised a slight pat on her shoulders. She turned around, surprised.
"Vice…vice-chairman Professor Smith?"
"Lorelei, have you been busy lately?" Smith asked.
"No… I've been quite free for some time after the suspension of the project… What's the matter?"
"Hmm… I would like you to accompany me to a place."
The vice chairman looked around, then making sure no one was eavesdropping on him, he bent down and whispered into Lorelei's ear, "Its regarding the future of the otome kairo."
"Oh… all right…"
Smith took Lorelei to a Laboratory. Gingerly, Lorelei stepped into it and found equipment of the latest technology staring back into her eyes. She gaped.
"This… all this…" she said in astonishment.
"The otome kairo… what an exciting piece of invention… I'm fascinated by it… Lorelei… work with me… make our dream of the world filled with marionettes working for us become real!" Smith turned and grabbed Lorelei, his eyes shining with excitement. His eyes… they looked at me fervently like Hayashi san… no… Hayashi's eyes are full of hope… his eyes are hungry for power…
"I'm sorry, Prof Smith, but I have been ordered to terminate the experiments by chairman." Lorelei said, taking his hands off her shoulders.
"That old man is nothing but crap! He doesn't understand what we'll be able to achieve! He doesn't know what benefits it'll bring to the Marionette research team! We'll become famous and YOU… (grabs Lorelei again) you will rise to fame! Instantaneous fame!"
Lorelei struggled under his strong arms. He does not love the marionette with his heart… all he wants is power… She struggles harder and breaks free.
"I can't work with you. We'll never be on the same path. You are only interested in the power that the otome kairo will bring to you."
"And you tell me who isn't? Didn't you invent the otome kairo exactly for that purpose? Look around at all the members around you… they are all here for the same purpose… to make the marionette a household name… so they can achieve fame that they long for!" he walked towards Lorelei slowly, step by step. Lorelei took steps backward as he advanced. She could not look elsewhere but look into the menacing black eyes of Smith. It was as though he is forcing her to agree. Suddenly, she stopped and retaliated.
"Hayashi san is not the same as you!"
"How would you know he's not the same? He could just be pulling wool over your eyes for all you know…"
"Chigaimasu! I can see it by the way he treats Shi…" Smith's eyes opened wide. Lorelei quickly stopped, aware that the secret is almost out.
"I… I forgot… I still have a report to hand in to the committee. Excuse me." With that, she hastily left the lab.
Smith looked in the direction Lorelei took off. His mouth curled into a sly smile. "Hayashi Yutaro."
A few weeks later, Lorelei returned to her lab to find it been ransacked. While she stood still, in a state of shock, somebody called her. "Lorelei."
She turned around and is shocked to see Smith standing behind her, holding some papers he found from her drawer. Her eyes widened and her heart skipped a beat when the papers drooped down revealing the title in bold letters, "MSM-00".
"Lorelei, on the pretext that you have destroyed MSM-00, you kept it to your custody while you monitored further progress of it. Do you realise that you have violated the rules of the research team by carrying out investigations without permission?"
Lorelei's heart pounded faster every second. A new sensation known as fear was slowly overtaking her.
"Also, you have roped in the aid of another member, Hayashi Yutaro in your investigation. Are you trying to set up a rivalry?"
Silence. Lorelei could not find her tongue to refute.
"Do you realise that these papers are enough to let us expel you from the team? Also, take a look at these, please." Smith threw a box of unfinished otome kairos before her feet. Lorelei looked on, her eyes widened to that of a small animal in captivity.
"We can sue you by these pieces of evidence alone… your career in research and development…" pauses, pushes up his glasses, "will be OVER."
In a wicked smile, Smith picked up the box of otome kairos and walked slowly towards the exit of the lab. He was stopped.
"Onegai… prof Smith…" Lorelei pleaded in fear.
Smith turned back, and whispered into her ear. "I can keep your career safe… if you give me your cooperation…"
"In front of the committee, she betrayed us. She confessed everything. Me and Yutaro sama …" Shinya stopped, intercepted by Lorelei.
"Mou, ii. You're right. I have ruined you for my selfish motives. Come and do whatever you wish to do upon me. Just promise you'll leave my marionettes alone." Lorelei walked to the front of Shinya and stood very still. She closed her eyes, bracing herself for whatever punishment Shinya is intending to mete out on her.
He looked at Lorelei, brown eyes burning in rage and confusion. Hatred got the better of him. "You took away everything from me… DIE!" Shinya pounced on Lorelei, his right arm closing in on her neck. His left arm joined up and tightened. Lorelei gasped and choked. Otaru stepped forward. Lorelei raised her hand to stop him.
"Demo…" Otaru took another step on impulse.
"Back off! (cough) Do not s… stop him… Otaru, Go… (choke) mene… Faust!… repair those marionettes for me… for… me… please…" Lorelei squeezed her words between gasps.
Meanwhile, there were mixed emotions within Shinya's eyes. They were full of hatred and rage, but at the same time, they expressed fear for the first time. He found himself in a dilemma. Part of him hated Lorelei to the core, yet there was a better part of him that was chiding him and reminding him what Yutaro sama had said. - You must not blame her. She is your creator and the reason why you are here. Do not hate her, for I trust her. - As Lorelei's gasps got weaker and weaker, he felt himself choking too at the same time and softened his grip before Lorelei was totally breathless. She fell onto the floor, gasping for breath. He cursed under his breath and turned away from her. Within him, a feeling he had suppressed for a long time was threatening to resurface. But he held back even stronger. He was determined not to shed any more tears. It was this time when he missed Yutaro sama even more.
"Kuso! I can't believe I have so little energy left." Quickly glimpsed at Lorelei and scorned, " Ah… I'll just have to do it another time. Someone take that slut away…" he spat and turned away and walked further away from the crowd so to hide his true emotions that are exposed from the windows of his soul.
Otaru looked on at Shinya. He could feel the soul within that shell screaming for help, if not, for his master. He walked towards the marionette and put his warm hand on Shinya's shoulder. Shinya jumped and looked back at the owner of that warm hand, his brown eyes threatening to cry. Otaru smiled. "Enough. Stop it. You know you can't hate her. Stop pretending to be strong. Tell me what you did all that for." The warm and comforting voice rang into the ears of Shinya. His eyes widened and his vision became blurred. It was the first time a man's voice sounded so comfortable, other than his master. Before he was even aware, a huge water drop fell from his eyes, creating a tear streak on his face. That voice… Yutaro sama… He buried his head into Otaru as he sobbed, that urge which he had hidden deep inside him for a long time finally released. Otaru closed his arms around him, and for the first time since Shinya lost his master, he felt secure in the hands of this stranger.
Meanwhile, Lorelei sat on the floor still, staring at Shinya in disbelief. Faust walked towards her and helped her up. After a short while, she asked in a soft tone, "You never really hated me, did you? What did you come back for? And why did you have to do all that? Whatever you do, you must believe that I never wished to hurt you… I couldn't possibly… because I am your creator… you are my first." Her earnest words rang on in Shinya's ears. After a while, he lifted himself from Otaru. "Arigatou, Otaru san. I must have taken you for Yutaro sama." Otaru gave him a wide smile, indicating that it's all right. For the first time since Shinya brought into Japone castle, he smiled back. He then turned to Lorelei.
"I came back… for Yutaro sama…" he said, pressing a switch which opened a compartment within his body. He took out a small contraption out of it.
"Why?" Faust asked levelly.
"You won't understand what I've been through. After the explosion, I have been floating in the universe, only managing to land onto Terra 2 after many years. But no matter where I went, I was not welcomed. They refuse to come near me when they realise that I'm not real. They are used to seeing female marionettes walking around, but not a male one. I was despised. Abused. Chased away. It was these moments when I hated you even more…" He pauses, turning to Lorelei, "I keep thinking of those happy times that won't ever come back. I learned to be strong in the hard way, all the while thinking of how I would punish you if I ever saw you again… I long to go back to Yutaro sama. He would take care of me. He would protect me. I… I…"
Otaru asked, "But why Lime? Why my marionettes?"
"The Saber marionettes have the wonderful ability to sense one another because they belong to the same set. If I can get information on them… then I can find Yutaro sama…" He pauses, raising the contraption he took out from his shell. "This… this is something that Senmai sensei has designed. But it wasn't perfect. I wanted to perfect it so I can find Yutaro sama."
"But why do all that? Why couldn't you just come and look for me?" Lorelei asked.
"Look for you? I didn't dare to. You betrayed me before. You might just decide to do it again. Also, I could not risk revealing my identity to the Japones. I could only lie low then, meanwhile thinking of a plan to find Yutaro sama."
He walked towards Lorelei. "Ne, Lorelei, you must know where Yutaro sama is, don't you? Oshiete! Onegai…" he took her hands and looked earnestly into her eyes.
"Hayashi Yutaro is not on Terra 2." A voice behind Shinya spoke. He turned, not believing his ears.
"Uso!" He defended.
"300 years ago, only 6 survivors landed on Terra 2. Hayashi Yutaro was not one of them." Faust continued. " Zannen, but he is not here."
Shinya's eyes widened in shock and his pupils trembled at the crushing fact. He shook his head in disbelief. "Uso…" He then grabbed Lorelei by the hand. "Ne, Lorelei, he is not telling the truth, is he? Ne, Oshiete! Yutaro sama wa doko?"
"Hayashi san… he could have been one of the survivors…" Lorelei finally said, turning away from him. Her words surprised even Faust. "But he turned back… to save you."
Shinya was in a state of shock after hearing that. "What do you mean? Tell me! Quick!" He demanded, shaking her at the same time.
"On that day, as soon as Hayashi san had realised that Mesopotamia had gone out of control, he quickly left the ship. But he turned back."
"Why?" Shinya pressed on. "Why? Why!"
"To save you." was Lorelei's answer after a long pause. "He remembered that you were still hidden on the ship, with the pause button on. He turned back to reactivate the program."
"Uso… uso yo…" Shinya muttered in a state of shock, unable to believe his ears.
"Yutaro sama! You have woken me up!" Shinya said, beaming. Hayashi however, did not return that smile. As he held Shinya's hand and ran along the floors of Mesopotamia, he spoke with a very serious expression.
"Shinya, be wary of others around you when I'm not around."
"Why? You are going away? Take me with you!"
"No, I don't mean that… When you're on your own in the future, you must learn to be strong. I understand that you have a female heart, but the exterior that others see is that of a man. You must be strong to protect yourself. And be careful not to reveal your identity before others, all right?"
"Hai… demo doushite?" Shinya asked, confused.
"One last thing. Never hate Lorelei. You must not blame her. She is your creator and the reason why you are here."
"No way! Have you forgotten how she betrayed us?"
"I understand her. I believe she has her reasons. Do not hate her, for I trust her." Hayashi had stopped running and he sticks close to the walls of Mesopotamia, feeling for a switch. Shinya looked on. Sometime later, his hands fumbled on the correct switch and a trapdoor on the wall opened, revealing the vastness of a huge universe.
Hayashi heaved a sigh of relief. "Here, Shinya, jump." He said, pointing to the trap door.
"What about you, Yutaro sama?" Shinya asked, bewildered.
"Just do what I say! I'll be right behind you."
"Hai! You must come for me!" Shinya obeyed and jumped out, floating along the universe.
However, Hayashi never caught up.
"Sonna… Uso yo… uso…"Shinya muttered incoherently. He suddenly felt the world under his feet spinning. Delirious, his hands lost their grip on Lorelei and dropped. Thinking of the events that happened on that fateful day had made him oblivious to the real world as the images in his mind begun to spin with the surroundings around him. Then, when the spinning got faster and faster and when everything merged, he felt his limbs turn numb and loses control of them. Then he blacked out.
"SHINYA!" Lorelei screamed as the marionette in front of her went soft and fell into a heap on the floor. Faust quickly came forward.
"He's weak from the plasma penetration earlier. Besides, the impact the truth has on him is too great. This is not good. His otome kairo might break. Quick, bring him to the repair room."
Shinya opens his eyes and finds himself by the sandy beach. He lay there for a moment, not wanting to move. Yutaro sama… you did not keep your word… Then, he saw a young girl approaching him. Her hair had the same colour as that beautiful, deep sea ahead of him. The girl smiled. "Ohayo!"
He smiled back, and tried to sit up. She came over in graceful steps and sat down beside him. Then they sat like that for a long time, staring at the sea. Over the distance, another girl was doing a dance in the water. She twirled herself around and around, splashing the water and laughing joyfully as she did so. She saw the newcomer on the beach and waved for him to go over. As Shinya watched on, he felt the laughter which came out from the dancing girl has got to be the best music he has ever heard all his life. And this puzzled him. There was a part with him reasoning - This isn't correct… why is her laughter so beautiful even though she is here?
As Shinya looked further, he recognised the girl's blue hair and her laughter. He asked. "Are wa…"
The girl beside him nodded. "Yes, that's Lime. She's waiting to go back."
"Back to Otaru, Cherry and Bloodberry, Lorelei, everyone…"
Shinya looked on. How could she still laugh so joyfully? She could lose her master forever…
"You are sad." The girl next to him said.
"Why is she still so happy? Otaru might leave her forever…" Shinya said. The girl next to him merely smiled.
"Otaru has never left her. He is always with her. Together with Cherry and Bloodberry."
"Here." The girl replied, raising a hand to her chest. "kokoro ni iru."
"Sou." A gentle breeze blew in, causing Shinya's hair to wave along in the breeze.
The two continued to stare at that beautiful sparkling marine blue sea. As Shinya looked on, he began to understand a lot of things. After a short while, the girl next to him spoke.
"Its not over yet." She reminded him.
"Yes I know. " he replied, standing up. "I have to go back."
"It's showing response!" Lorelei exclaimed, on seeing the yellow light on Shinya's otome kairo light up. An hour ago, they had performed an emergency operation on it, trying their best not to let the otome kairo break. When they had completed it, Lorelei stayed by his side vigilantly, monitoring any slight signs of movement.
Faust came forward on hearing that. He stood by the compartment and looked while Lorelei closed his otome kairo compartment and waited. Slowly, the signs came. First, the fingers twitched. Then, his eyelids flickered slightly before he opened up his brown eyes. However, there was something different about his eyes. They were no longer weighed by sadness. They seemed to have been lifted somehow.
He sat up and looked around. He noticed two compartments to the left of him were occupied. He observed closely. On the far left, Lime slept. On the compartment next to him, he realised that the girl that had talked to him earlier on was sleeping in the compartment. He scanned down the compartment. At the far end of the compartment, 'NSM-X1' was engraved onto the compartment.
"Who is she?" he asked.
"Marine. Also known as NSM-X1. Though I have tried many ways to repair her otome kairo, it just wouldn't seem to work."
"Marine… desu ka?" Shinya said. He recalls the words that she had said. Arigatou, Marine san… He then turned around and pressed a switch on his body. A compartment opened and he took something out which caused Faust's eyes to focus and Otaru run forward.
"Are…" Otaru demanded.
"Hai…"was Shinya's reply. "Gomenasai, Otaru san. Please forgive me." He held out the two otome kairos before him. Faust took over them and inspected it carefully. After making sure that they are really Cherry's and Bloodberry's otome kairos, he handed them over to Otaru. He received them eagerly, repeating the process of checking them if they are all right (though he does not really know how to do it).
Shinya turned to Lorelei who has all this while been by his side. "Lorelei, This is for you." He opened another compartment and placed the contraption he had completed halfway into her hands. Lorelei takes it in wonder.
" Why?" She asked in wonder.
"Since I can't possibly find Yutaro sama anymore, this contraption is no longer useful to me anymore. Replace Lime's original chip by the one I have duplicated and placed in this contraption so that she will recover. Also, I have a few devices I have designed over these years which might be helpful to you." he said, opening his compartments and taking out his gadgets out one by one. "Promise me you'll fully utilise them. This is for Yutaro sama too." He said, smiling.
Lorelei blinked. She could not believe her ears. "A… Arigatou." Lorelei said as she took over his stuff.
"One last thing. Lorelei, I know I have hurt you quite badly. Do you hate me?" he asked softly, brown eyes this time looking earnestly into her amber green eyes. She smiled back.
"Can you forgive me?" brown eyes continued looking into amber green eyes. She answered his question by coming forward and gave him a big hug.
"Arigatou… now that I have finished what I need to do, I have to go now."
"Go? Where?" Otaru asked, surprised. Where else can he go?
"Back to Yutaro sama, of course." Was his strange, almost distant reply.
"Eh? What do you mean?" as Otaru asked, the rest of the room also felt the same way and wanted the answer from Shinya.
"But… I thought you've already known that he's…" Luchs began.
Lorelei's eyes opened in shock. "Are you thinking of… no way!"
Shinya took Lorelei's hands. "Lorelei, I believe you should remember what this contains." He takes her hands and places it on the bottom left compartment of his body.
"Your information bank… demo doushite?"
"Take it," Shinya urged, smiling. "This contains Hayashi Yutaro's knowledge. Study it carefully. You might be able to find a cure for Marine."
Lorelei shook her head still, trying to guess the meaning behind his actions. Shinya said. "Mou, I'm tired. I'm going home."
"Chotto… I don't understand…" Otaru came forward. Shinya smiled. "Otaru san, you're the best master I've ever met other than Yutaro sama. Arigatou."
He then opened up the bottom left compartment of his body, revealing the shiny silver metal that is the information bank which Hayashi had planted in. he nodded to Lorelei. "Do it. It's better for everyone."
Lorelei hesitated for a moment, and raised a hand to remove it. Before she put her fingers on it however, Shinya stopped her.
"After you take it out, do this last thing for me." Ending his words, he raised his left arm and opened yet the last small compartment, revealing a small red switch. Lorelei gasped. "Are you sure?"
Lorelei nodded. "Wakarimashita." She raised her hand and removed the information bank. After setting it to one side carefully, she directed a trembling finger towards that red switch and dropping a tear, she pressed on it. The yellow light within the otome kairo extinguished. Life went out of Shinya's eyes. Lorelei set Shinya lying back into the compartment, planting a gentle kiss onto his forehead.
"Oyasumi, Shinya." Lorelei whispered, dropping another tear.
With that, the program of MSM-00 running for 300 years is finally terminated, and the incident involving the last secret on Mesopotamia finally came to an end.
*E*N*D* *O*F* *P*A*R*T* *7*
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