.hack//C.S. Chapter 11

Divine receives an unexpected, short email, from Yata.  He wants to have Ikaruga and Haseo meet in order to observe what happens.  If Yata is making a move, then he must have come up with something.  She agrees to Yata's proposal and heads for Ikaruga's designated area in Mc Anu, the bridge.  Knowing where to find him is such a time saver.

Divine stops inside the chaos gate dome.  …Except, what kind of reason should I give him? (-.-; )  Considering how he reacted the last time they met, he'll hate this idea.  Ikaruga was assailed by a noise and headache the first time he ran into Haseo.  No one would want to meet such a person.

Divine has those thoughts in mind when she reaches his side.  With a contrived, cheerful voice, she says, "Ika~ rugaa!"

Ikaruga looks at Divine.  Recently, he has been speaking less and not going to areas as much.  There must be a reason to why he returned to how he first was, but Divine can't think of any.  He stares at her for a few seconds and then looks back at the sunset

Divine says, "Geez, you're not cute at all…"

"…What was that for?"

Divine thought he'd get angry, but there was no strength behind his words.  His attitude is one filled with nothing but apathy.  She says, "Aren't you getting rusty not hunting anything these past few days?"

After a few moments, he says, "…so?"

"How about going to an area once in a while?  I'll go with you (-ω-)"

Ikaruga glances up towards the sky, then towards Divine.  He says, "Once, in a while?"

"Don't you feel like it?"

Ikaruga gives a light nod to Divine's urging.

Ikaruga comes to a stop before the chaos gate.  He places his right hand behind his back as he looks down at Divine.  "So, where to?"

Divine double checks a copy of Yata's email as she says, "No need to worry, I've already picked a place out," and then inputs the word.

For some reason, Ikaruga appears to be feeling nostalgic.  However, even before this, he should have been able to transfer "normally" with this method.

Divine says, "…?  I'm starting, Ikaruga!"

Faint light glitters from the gate and the two are transferred to the area as Ikaruga gives an absentminded, "Ye- yeah."

They reach a type of grassy plain where the gentle breeze of a sunny day rolls the grass and clouds.  Divine begins looking around as though in search of something.  That's when Ikaruga spots a target and walks towards it.  He speaks in reference to the monster he discovered, "…Hey, what's the level here?"

"Etto… about 30  σ(^ω^;)"

The area's level doesn't suit Ikaruga, it is unfit as a hunting ground.  Divine realizes Ikaruga has discovered that their true purpose for being there isn't to level and gives him a mischievous smile.  She knows that giving him an excuse is useless, so she looks Ikaruga in the eye and says, "There is someone I want you to meet.  I tricked you like this because I was afraid you might not want to meet him if you heard his name.  Sorry."

Ikaruga stays silent for a while and then gives Divine his back.  "Who is it you want me to meet?"

Divine's worry that Ikaruga would go back after learning the truth ends as a needless anxiety.  He instead stops looking for monsters and searches for the P.C.  Divine says, "You've already meet him once, Ikaruga…  His name is [Haseo], an adept rouge.

A wrinkle appears between Ikaruga's eyebrows upon hearing the name, "Haseo."  He remains as calm as he can and says, "That black adept rouge?"  They had a coincidental meeting on the bridge and discovered that Ikaruga is assailed by a furious noise and indescribable pain when they're near each other.  Ikaruga has the worst impression possible of him; meeting him is an utter act of foolishness, yet his expression is undisturbed.

Divine notices and grabs his arm before he can change his mind.  "You'll meet with him?  Then, let's hurry.  He's over this way!"

Ikaruka leans forward as he runs due to being pulled by the smaller Divine.  "He- hey…"  He stumbles a few times, but doesn't stop as they run across the field.

Divine stops her feet at a hill and looks up at Ikaruga.  "He's up ahead."

Ikaruga says, "…If, the thing from before happens?"

"Everything will be fine, I'm here for you.  There's another person helping and keeping watch as well."

Ikaruga takes confidence with Divine's assurance and begins walking up the slope.  Standing at the top with crossed arms is the adept rouge.  His black equipment is such a contrast that the blue sky looks like it was clipped away.

"You Ikaruga[1]?"  Haseo has trouble saying Ikaruga's name.

Ikaruga gives a small nod, but makes little effort to close the distance.  One reason is because he's warry of the noise.  As for Haseo, he probably just isn't interested in getting alone with Ikaruga.

Ikaruga speaks after a moment of silence, "Did you also hear that noise and get a headache back when we first met?"

"No, I just happened to be going that way to begin with…  That said, didn't you say, "Skeith," to me?"

Ikaruga barely has any memory from when that noise started back then.  He wasn't able to answer Divine back when she asked him something similar.  He says, "That Skeith you mentioned, is it something dangerous I need to know about?"

Haseo stares down Ikaruga as he says, "I don't know if it's dangerous or not, but how do you know the name Skeith?"  He doesn't have a full grasp on the person… the P.C. before him.  Yata only told him Ikaruga's name and job along with a rough description of his appearance.  However, since he knows the name of an Avatar, he should also have some sort of connection with the C.C. Corporation and be associated with the G.U. conglomerate.  He might even be an Epitaph user.  So should I really be talking with him about Raven and Avatars?

Ikaruga thinks about Haseo's question for a while before saying, "I know about it somehow, but I don't know.  It might be intuitive… something I was able to pick up on from a corner of my brain because of that headache."

Haseo is irked by the response.  Intuitive, in other words, he doesn't know anything about Skeith.  He gives up thinking and scratches his head as he releases a sigh.

Ikaruga then asks a simple question, "Why did we meet for?"  It's something he has been wondering about.  They're only two people who spoke a few words on the bridge, after all.

Haseo says, "Well, in my case, my [boss] told me to come to this area.  You?"

"Something similar to that."

Neither of them decided to meet the other of their own free will.  Even the reason for being there is becoming unclear.  The gap between Haseo's eyebrows crease as he realizes and says, "In that case, neither of us need to be in this place."  Didn't Yata say directly meeting with him would be good for talking about the Avatars?

Haseo begins taking strides down the hill.  Naturally, he walks towards Ikaruga, but Ikaruga doesn't move.  He either forgot about the noise, or is uncertain and doubts anything will happen.

Ikaruga's negligence is returned to him as he's overwhelmed by pain and noise more potent than the previous time.  He drops down and holds his head on reflex.  His long obi and the hems of his clothes come loose and spread across the green ground[2].

Haseo stops and drops to a knee to get a better look at Ikaruga's complexion.  After speaking for a bit, he's unable to claim they have nothing to do with each other anymore.  He says, "Hey, is this that noise again!?"  He can't tell what is going on with Ikaruga from the outside, but that he's suffering is obvious.

The noise prevents Ikaruga from answering.  It sounds is like a sandstorm is scrapping around inside his head.

Haseo clicks his tongue and grasps Ikaruga's shoulders.  His voice might not be able to get through, but he's hopeful a physical touch will.  Instead, the action aggravates Ikaruga's agony.

Ikaruga's hands go from holding his head to falling limp onto the ground.  With his body arched upward and his head tilted back, he gazes at the sky with wide open eyes and say, "….I- I'll…

"I'll take it…"

Haseo creates some distance between himself and Ikaruga, yet Ikaruga continues his delirious ramble.  He says, "I'm, Skeith… Skeith is me…  You're me?[3]"

Yata and Divine appear as though they waiting for that moment.  Yata speaks with an exceedingly composed tone.  He says, "This… is a stronger reaction than I expected."  He's calm stands in complete contrast to the fidgetting Divine at his side.

Haseo turns to Yata and demands an explanation.  "What the heck is going on with that guy?  What's his relationship with Skeith?"

Divine says, "…We'll talk back in town.  Right now, protecting that data takes priority."  She then transfers away with Haseo before he can ask for further clarification.

Data protection.

Prepare an impenetrable area to completely isolate Ikaruga.

Prevent Skeith's data within Ikaruga from flowing out.

Cracked Sleep


T/N: Well, this chapter was exciting.  A lot is starting to make sense, but I get the feeling 70% of this will be thrown out the window as the story develops and more information is revealed.  I can't wait to see how this contact, literally, with Haseo will affect Ikaruga.

-Gandire Alea

[1] Ikaruga's name is written in Katakana instead of the usual kanji here.

[2] This part was a bit unclear to me: 高さを失った長い帯や裾が、緑の地面に広がった。

[3] I'm not sure if he says me or mine. 「オレが、スケィスで…スケィスがオレで…。お前がオレ?」

12. Drifting>