Web小説 「.hack//bullet」

#56: FLASH

   "Ryuuji! Did it work? Ryuuji!"
   David slapped his face a few times, but nothing worked. He was out cold.
   The rain was coming down hard now and Ryuuji's body was soaked. David hoisted him on his back and carried him back to the car, laying him out on the backseat. He looked down at his watch--in fifteen minutes it would be 6pm, the time the Flash was to be released around the world. The first victims would soon appear.
   The unit connection device was still attached to the phone line, and Ryuuji's gear laid on top of the payphone itself. He looked back at Ryuuji, and checked his phone again. 10 minutes.
   David walked through the rain to the phonebooth, and took a look at the device. A simple ethernet cable on one end allowed for him to connect his P-COM to the phone line and enter The World through there.
   Nine minutes.
    If Ryuuji wasn't able to do it, then David only had this sliver of time left before the doomsday clock reached midnight.
   He logged in.
   Kusame's character pointed to the same last spot as Flugel--the Hulle Granz Cathedral. It was completely silent, and he could no longer hear the rain.
   Flugel's PC was gone, and there was no sign of Drain either. The place was completely still. Perhaps he was too late. He looked around closely, between the pews, and approached the altar of the goddess statue. There was the only sign of struggle:
   Protruding from the altar was the Spear of Wotan, handle pointed straight to the heavens. Kusame, puzzled, thought the worst. And Seto?
   Dead, but he did not know it.
   He gripped the Spear with both hands and pulled it out of the mantle. Then, he saw it--
   From where the Spear had been, it shined.
   The flash.
   The holy light of the Goddess, escaping from the small crack left by the spear.
   Kusame looked in, and suddenly his FMD was filled with light. He could feel his body getting lighter, and a sense of weightlessness suddenly enveloped him. When his body made itself apparent again, the light began to clear.
   The first thing he heard was the sounds of birds chirping. Whether or not it was real, the next was the smell of flowers. As he looked around himself he saw a blue sky lined by what seemed to be a bird cage. The sound of rushing water from an elaborate fountain up ahead. The overall size of the area was small, but each minute corner of it was meticulously crafted. Kusame looked around, but found he could not move. When he looked down, he realized there were no arms or legs below him--things the game engine would usually render for players to avoid vertigo. Realizing he had become pure consciousness, an observer, he suddenly began to float away, the birdcage quickly disappearing from his line of sight, smaller, smaller, smaller...
   And then the light.
   The sound of torrenting rain.
   The outside world was like an oil painting from inside the glass box. Rain drops fell from the top to the bottom, top to the bottom, top to the bottom... David's rapidly moving eyes followed each one to slow himself down. When he fully came to, he found himself crumpled on the floor of the telephone booth. He looked out and saw his car still parked, Ryuuji soundly asleep on the back seat.
   He remembered the time.
   David scrambled to find his phone from his pocket, and immediately loaded as many news sites he could fine. It was still early, but some sort of breaking news bulletin was to be expected. Any time now.
   Five minutes passed. And then five turned to 15.
   By the time it was 7pm, David felt he could finally let out a sigh of relief. Ryuuji had done it. Drain was gone.
   Not realizing he had been in his crumpled position since waking up, he adjusted himself back to his feet, sore from the bizarre position he had found himself in. He dusted off his suit, gathered his devices, and then ran back to the car so as not to allow them to get wet. He dumped them all on the passenger seat and closed the door. The rain pattered against the car, and he could hear Ryuuji snoring in the back. He looked at him through the rear view mirror. The peaceful look on his face would not last.
   The engine ignited and David drove off, dreaming of the light.

next ch.57: NEIGHBOURS