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ANTHEM - Part 3

[sfx: footsteps]
Shiki: Ryu-kun was here just a minute ago... where could he have gone...?
Nayuta: Shiki.
Shiki: --! Nayuta-kun!
Nayuta: Been a while since we've talked.
Shiki: Ah-- it's fine. ... ah, the last round was a really impressive battle. It's really unfortunate about the results, but... you really conveyed your feelings, Nayuta-kun. You seemed so happy to be at Kanata's side, you seemed so happy to be doing music. I don't know why, but... [sniffle] The tears are coming on their own...
Nayuta: Shiki...
Shiki: [sniffle] Thank you, Nayuta-kun. I'm really happy, too.
Nayuta: Mm. Thanks. ... uh, Shiki, you've changed, too.
Shiki: I have...?
Nayuta: You're totally different than you used to be. Maybe it's like your true strength, or there's more weight behind your words, or something. It's really coming through.
Shiki: Is it...?
Nayuta: Yeah. For real. You're way stronger. So I'm happy too.
Shiki: ... yeah.
[sfx: both start to laugh, but immediately--]
Ryu: BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP! Shikki is Ryu-kun's toy! You can't use him without permission!!
Nayuta: The hell is 'using him' supposed to mean??
Ryu: Alrighty then!!
Nayuta: No, seriously, what the hell.
[sfx: Rokuta running up, panting]
Rokuta: Ryu! Shikki!
Shiki: Rokuta-kun!
Rokuta: What a relief! I was hoping I'd see the two of you today!
Ryu: Alright! Space Cadet #6, do you have something to present to Ryu-kn?
Rokuta: Yeah! Look!
[sfx: rummaging around]
Shiki: Are those frying pans...?
Rokuta: Yeah! Remember? I promised I'd let you see me fold a frying pan!
Ryu: Ahaha! There's so many!
Rokuta: Yeah! 'Cause I can do it with lots of things with them. So watch this! First I gotta hold it like this, and then...
[sfx: Rokuta straining, metal bending, Ryu exclaiming]
Shiki: That's amazing...! He really is folding it in half...!
Nayuta: For real?
Rokuta: Alright! I did it!!
Ryu: Ahaha! The frying pan is all squished up!!
Nayuta: [aside] Hey. Shiki. What the hell is up with this guy?
Shiki: Ah... Rokuta-kun is really, really strong.
Nayuta: That's way more than just really strong.
Rokuta: Alright! So next I'm gonna twist this frying pan into a donut shape!!
Ryu: Whoo, whoo! Applause, applause!
Nayuta: He's still at it?
Shiki: It's fine, Rokuta-kun, you don't have to...
Rokuta: No, it's fine! I just ate lots'a karaage, so I'm all fueled up! I feel great right now!

Yohei: Oi, oi, what the hell are they doing over there?
Saimon: [chuckles] Isn't it a relief that he didn't choose to hold his demonstration at 4/7?
[sfx: footsteps]
Itsuki: Rokuta-kun's strength is a byproduct of the experimentation done on him.
Yohei and Saimon: ...?
Yohei: You're... that guy from 1Nm8?
Kei: It has been a while.
Yohei: Don't bother with greetings. What do you mean byproduct?
Kei: ... that's...
Itsuki: Kei. I will speak. ... I have told you before that Rokuta and I were both experimented on by the Alter Trigger company.
Yohei: Yeah.
Itsuki: There, the experiments performed were tailored to the particular characteristics of each child, and they carried out many experiments. They varied wildly, ranging from psychological experiments to dangerous drug trials.
Saimon: If I recall correctly, its effect on you was that it made you a tremendously accurate memory, correct?
Itsuki: Correct, though you make it sound more pleasant than it is. [sigh] And in Rokuta's case...
Rokuta: [slightly far away] Alright!
[sfx: Rokuta straining to fold a frying pan while Shiki, Ryu, and Nayuta watch on and applaud]
Itsuki: He was given extraordinary strength. He doesn't seem to think twice about it, but there are of course many risks involved. It is very easy to incur injuries as a result of a lack of control over his strength. Furthermore, because of his abnormally high energy use, he gets hungry very quickly, and if he neglects to attend to his nutritional needs for even a moment, he will be unable to move.
Saimon: That's...
Yohei: That's a raw deal.
Itsuki: It is more of a curse.
Saimon and Yohei: ...
Kei: I have not yet changed my mind.
Saimon: About asking us to let go of the metal?
Kei: Yes. Zer-- ... For Natsume Ryu-kun's sake.
Yohei: ... [sigh] Pass. S'like I already said. Phantom Lives are our reason for living. It's the way we are. The risks and the curses are all part of the deal.
Saimon: Just as you are the way you are, some things are non-negotiable for us as well. We haven't changed our minds.
Kei: Is that so.
Yohei: I mean, what about you?
Itsuki: What do you mean, what about us?
Yohei: You say the metal is evil and should be eliminated. You say that, but you put on a real show.
Kei: ...
Saimon: The unique sense of transparency that your outstanding melodies exude is unmatched by any other team. It's a flavor particular to you alone. I felt strangely healed as I was listening to it. There is a message in it, sharp and piercing in its gentleness, and the lyrics overlaid atop the sound are at times almost heartbreaking in their poignancy. It's like looking at a wonderful structure made entirely of glass. Moreover--
Yohei: Agh, that's enough. We can't take you anywhere, professor.
Saimon: ... ah. Ahahah.
Yohei: ... gimme a straight answer. You had fun, didn't you? Taking part in the battles.
Kei: ...!
Yohei: Takin' your soul and cuttin' it down and cuttin' it down, and making music out of what you found there. It's the kind of thing that you can only understand when you've done it yourself, and you don't care about anything else in that moment but the music. I know you know what I'm talkin' about. Am I wrong?
Kei: But... that's...
Itsuki: ... I understand. I will give you an honest answer. When on stage, I felt something that I had never felt before. Perhaps it is that I was, as you say, "having fun". That does not mean that I approve of the use of metal. However, when I am on stage with 1Nm8, I feel as though I have been freed of the curse upon me. There is a sound, and a comfortable connection I feel with the other two... knowing that such a thing is possible, it makes me wish that that moment could last forever. ... [dry laugh] It is an emotion I do not know how to process. I'm quite surprised, myself.
Kei: Itsuki...
Itsuki: Kei. What do you think?
Kei: ... [sigh] I had fun as well. The sensation of sound and soul becoming one, the feeling of connecting with the other two, was truly amazing. But that was a feeling given to us by the Phantometal. I love 1Nm8's music. But I cannot abide the use of the metal. I honestly... do not know what to do, even now.
Itsuki: We do not need to make any conclusions now, Kei.
Kei: But--
Itsuki: And for Rokuta... music is the best way for him connect with you right now. Even if he is unable to get his memory back, somewhere inside of him, he remembers your sound. That time with the piano.
Kei: ...! [sigh]
Itsuki: Don't push yourself. I do not have a solid answer yet, either. But I know one thing for certain after fighting on that stage. ... 1Nm8's music. Kei, for you... no, for all of us, it's salvation. It's not a curse. It's a gift.
Kei: A gift...
Itsuki: Yes. If nothing else, Rokuta and I were saved by it. I think there is still hope.
Kei: ...
Saimon: Miyama-kun, you only have one chance to live.
Yohei: So how you gonna live that life? S'up to you.
Kei: ... indeed. Our feelings on the metal have not changed. ... however, what are we going to do from here? What can we do? I think I would like to discover those answers while we continue to perform as 1Nm8.
Saimon: I'm very glad to hear that.
Yohei: Lookin' forward to hearing your next song.
Kei: Well. We'll see you again soon.
Itsuki: Please excuse us.
[sfx: footsteps]
[sfx: crowd chatter]
Saimon: [chuckles]
Yohei: What's so funny?
Saimon: That was very sweet of you.
Yohei: What was?
Saimon: Well! I think I'll get some food. The roast beef looks delicious, Yohei.
Yohei: Tch. Oi!

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