Count-down to the release of Mushi Uta's Final volume!
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I should’ve killed him already.
I pierced through his chest with my bare hands; there was no way he could have survived that—
Showing a dumbfounded expression, Rokko raised her head to look at (Mr. Hat House).
“So even puppets can feel surprised huh? Unfortunately, as you can see I’m not dead, after all ---“
While speaking, the teenage boy put his hand that was covered in black-colored nematodes in front of his chest.
(Mr. Hat House) ripped open a hole in his chest along with his shirt.
“My ability is a substance-manipulation type, capable of softening any type of material, or compressing them to their limits --- and directing that pressured energy to a fixed point to create an explosion. As such, some degree of separation and integration shouldn’t be a problem for me.”
(Mr. Hat House) smiled wryly as he let go, and returned his chest back to normal.
“But still, that was quite a danger for me nonetheless. It sure took me a long time to reattach together the chest that you pierced --- Although usually, to kill a Mushitsuki, one would usually go for its host…but in my case, it might be better if you had gone for the (Mushi) instead, Rokko-san.”
Rokko bit her lips as she held onto the dagger that was stabbed into her abdomen.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. The injury is affecting your internal organs. If you were to pull that out right now, the impact resulted from the action will only make you die even faster.”
“You were once a “Frightful enemy”. After all, you were the only one who saw through my ability to transform. Not even the SEPB know this ability of mine.”
(Mr. Hat House) glared at the Rokko’s sweat-soaked face.
Of course, it was impossible to fool her.
Rokko had always been carefully observing the children’s expression. They were always so innocent and pure.
But --- after arriving to this city, she noticed a “monster” was lurking among then. Although he had the shape of a child, his looks were different. He would hide among the children and watch Rokko’s every single move with his cold empty eyes.
After that, she secretly followed this guy who “pretended” to be a child, and saw him transform into a teenage boy as he is now. Since then, she regarded him as a dangerous target.
“I --- really enjoy having fun by myself.”
(Mr. Hat House) began to talk in a relaxed tone as if he was just casually chitchatting as he narrowed his eyes.
When Rokko looked back at the pair of eyes gazing at her, she couldn’t help but feel a chill running down her spine.
Compare to the bright and gentle gaze of the children, his dark pair of eyes were filled with nothing but selfish desires; a pair of eyes from an evil being.
“Because of Tachibana Rina’s help, that kid was finally able to escape from the SEPB’s pursuit. She is just too amazing. I really do feel like I was saved by her.”
Tachibana Rina. It must be the full name of the girl that Rokko was interested in.
“And so… There are only two people left that know of my existence now, and one of them is --- you.”
“Only if you two were to disappear from this world, I would then be at ease. But that alone is not perfect enough --- The connection between people is a very troublesome thing. No matter who you are, there’s always a relation between you and other individuals. Family, friends, school, society, and even the people who were just living nearby, there’s always a network of relationships. As long as this exists, someone like me who doesn’t belong anywhere in there would only be suspicious to others … I can’t achieve my purpose with that.”
Rokko clenched her teeth as the taste of blood filled her mouth.
“The moment when I obtained freedom, I finally made up my mind. No, maybe while I was pretending to be others, I probably wasn’t doing it for the sake of hiding my existence… but rather subconsciously preparing everything for this setup…”
“If I truly wish to be alone, I can only cut down the ties of other people. If I were to become someone else, what would happen to that person’s existence? People will begin to doubt themselves, wondering why is this person different from the one that they had in their memories. And with that --- the relation between people will eventually fall apart.”
Rokko repeatedly mumbled that line with hoarse voice.
“You noticed what I was doing, that’s why you came to kill me didn’t you?”
Just as he said, Rokko had noticed his scheme.
Ever since this “monster” appeared among the children, many people had been getting gloomier and darker. She often heard from the people who came to the park saying words like they had mistaken someone or forgotten something, and it just kept on increasing.
Among the children who came to watch Rokko’s performance, there were few that began to show uneasy expressions as well.
And all of it was caused by (Mr. Hat House)’s behavior.
She then realized that the reason why he was pretending to be a resident of the city was all for his experiment. For the sake of stopping his outrageous ambition, she believed the only option was to kill him.
Situations where everyone was driven by doubt and suspicion should never happen. If such an ambition were to succeed, who knows what would become of this world.
“To me, the connection between people is superfluous. Hoping to be forever alone --- was my dream.”
“You must have an opposite dream compared to mine huh.”
(Mr. Hat House) laughed.
Rokko’s dream ---
When she was young, she had once gotten lost in a foreign amusement park. She couldn’t help but fall into a panic until a passing by busker helped her. To Rokko, who had a language barrier with the natives at that moment, that busker ---
Even though their language was different, smiling was universal ---
"Children are my food --- I'm going to eat them all --- not leaving even one.”
Her consciousness began to blur from the pain and bleeding. Yet her mouth continued to repeat the lines as if she was dream talking.
“Their smiles… I’ll eat them all--- not leaving even one, I will eat all of the children’s smiles ---“
No matter which country it is, anywhere where a child’s smile was born, somewhere else, there must be another smile, and another one after another, birthing from joy and happiness.
To be able to make every child smile ---
--- was Rokko’s dream.
“Looks like we are natural enemies to begin with huh.”
Smiles were used world-wide, no matter who you were and who you try to communicate with, you could always create a relation with smile.
On the other hand, what (Mr. Hat House) was hoping to do was --- sever such a link.
Just as he said, their relationship --- couldn’t be described as anything other than natural enemies.
After (Mr. Hat House) said that line, he leisurely turned around. But immediately he stopped his steps and raised his head in a direction.
“Ahh, this sense of ‘distortion’… It seems like a new Mushitsuki was given birth around here huh. Well, it has nothing to do with me anymore since I no longer belong to the SEPB.”
(Mr. Hat House) murmured to him as he walked out of the park.
And then, the dagger that was stabbed into Rokko’s abdomen twitched.
Within the dagger, the black-colored nematodes were wriggling about.
--- Capable of softening any type of material, or compressing them to their limits --- and directing that pressured energy to a fixed point to create a explosion.
The words that (Mr. Hat House) had spoken rang through her mind for an instant.
If she were to pull it out right now, she might possibly faint and die from the heavy bleeding. However, if she were to leave it there, the explosion would kill her immediately. It seemed like (Mr. Hat House) had already considered these possibilities, that’s why he chose the dagger as his weapon.
Without a second of hesitation, Rokko one-handedly pulled the dagger out. Blood spattered as pain almost overwhelmed her consciousness. However, she still managed to throw the dagger up high into the air at the last minute.
The dagger, which flew into the sky, was instantly compressed by an invisible force --- creating a huge explosion.
Rokko was blown away completely by the impact of the explosion into an iron post. She gradually raised her hands which were wearing a pair of white gloves.
Blood continued to gush out from the wound on her abdomen. In front of her, a long slender stick flew into the air. Looking closely, one would notice that it was not any ordinary stick, but rather the figure of a stick insect that divided its body into several segments. Transparent thread coming from the stick insect’s body pierced into Rokko’s abdomen like living beings.
Through manipulating the threads, she instantly stitched the wound on her inner organs and skin.
It seemed she barely managed to stop the blood right before she fell into a state of shock. But, it might be because of her losing so much blood in such a short amount of time, her consciousness was slowly becoming hazy as she felt powerlessness throughout her entire body.
I can’t stay here like this ---
(Mr. Hat House) had just said, there were only two people left hindering him. Other than Rokko, the only one left who knew of his existence must be the girl who helped him ---
I will never let him kill that child.
She then inadvertently remembered, when Rina had come to see her for the first time during the night --- for the sake of sending the precious child home, she was quietly followed her from behind. But then, after she encountered (Mr. Hat House), her target was changed.
“That child is --- mine---!“
Rokko took a leap, and jumped high into the sky.
She landed hard onto a resident’s house’s roof before raising her head. Above Rokko, whom stretched her arms, her (Mushi) was floating above. The stick insect’s threads were wrapped around her body, pulling her like a puppet doll.
Even if her body couldn’t pull out any strength, it wouldn’t cause a problem for her. Her (Mushi) could strengthen the physical ability of the object its threads were hanging, and manipulate them.
“I’ll eat you---“
Due to the explosion from before, many crowds began to gather at the park Rokko was at. Rokko then took another leap, jumping from one building’s roof to another.
Very soon, she arrived at the house where Rina would always be, next to her window watching. Looking from above, she could see that the Tachibana family was holding a funeral.
“Where’s Milady Rina?”
“She just asked where her father might be. Could she possibly…?”
After she finished eavesdropping on the conversation between a relative and a reception staff, Rokko raised her head.
She burst into a dash on the roof’s ceiling, running towards the city center in at a blinding speed. Although (Mr. Hat House) was capable of transforming his looks, his body’s condition should be the same.
As long as Rokko, who had the absolute advantage in speed, could arrive there first, she should still be able to make it in time.
Crossing through the Akamaki City in a straight line, Rokko dashed towards the observation tower. Behind her back was the big sunset, sinking midway into the horizon.
As she got closer and closer to the city center, the streets became wider as the amount of high buildings increased dramatically. But none of those bothered Rokko, she continued to jump onto the roofs of those buildings and advanced.
Even though she already used her (Mushi)’s ability to supplement her physical capacity, she was powerless in regard to her mental condition. Not to mention she really did loose quite a lot of blood. Every movement that she made, she could feel blood ooze throughout her wounds along with pain.
But, I must stop him ----
The most delicious gourmet she had always been looking for, she hadn’t even eaten it yet.
The little girl who always stood by her window watching her.
Compared to rest of the children in this city, the girl who Rokko was most interested in --- Tachibana Rina ---
Rokko landed on top of a building facing the observation tower.
The tower that was made of tempered glass three hundred sixty degrees all around, standing mightily at the center of the streets, pointing directly at the heavens. When the sun set, it should be enveloped by overwhelming neon lights coming from cannon-like lighting devices on the ground.
If I don’t hurry, it’ll be too late ---
Rokko furiously leaped from above the high building.
The pale-faced puppet flew across the sky of Akamaki City. Even though there were many crowds below, no one seemed to have noticed the leaping Mushitsuki in the sky.
Rokko broke through the glass, and fell into the interior of Skypia. With her strengthened legs, she managed to arrive at the intermediate level of the tower.
Just then, a large amount of blood was spewed out from her wound. Rokko immediately took a protective posture as she stood up.
The interior of the tower before opening was shrouded in silence
Is Rina really here? If she is, is she above or below…? ---
Just at that instant, a huge quake echoed above her. It sounded as if it was coming from a far distance above.
It seemed like the something must have happened at the very top. She immediately turned to look at the two elevators; perhaps it was broken, the signal indicating the floors were all off.
Rokko walked towards the metal gate separating the gallery hall and higher level, and forcefully pulled them open with bare hands.
Just as she had expected, there also existed the emergency stairway used by staff and security personnel.
Rokko followed the stairs and ran upward. Every floor she would push open the door to check if Rina was at the floor or not.
And after who knows how many time she ran back and forth of each floor’s emergency stairs and hall ---
Amidst the exhibition hall filled with restaurants, a little girl turned her head around. It was Rina.
Rokko opened her mouth and started laughing, Rina was surprised for a bit before running to her with a smile.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m here to eat you ---“
Putting on her usual puppet movements, Rokko stretched her arms as she walked closer to Rina as well.
But then ---
An explosion shook the whole floor.
With an alien-like strength that surpassed far beyond a human’s ability, Rokko struck Rina with her full force, almost crushing the entire wall and ceiling.
“I won’t be fooled by you again!”
Rina quickly took a step back in the nick of time, dodging Rokko’s attack.
“---You’re pretty sharp huh, Rokko-san.”
The girl who said that line, her eyes were dyed pitch black from the overflowing selfish ambition within.
The Rina that Rokko knew would never show such expression.
“What have you done to that child…(Mr. Hat House)?!”
“I’ve already killed her --- though I wanted to say that. As a reward to you, Rokko-san. Tachibana Rina is currently at the highest floor, I really didn’t expect… you would catch up before I reach her.
I made it ---
Rokko squeezed out her strength, and attacked towards (Mr. Hat House) who had Rina’s figure.
But in the next second, the floor’s window glass suddenly scattered. Something huge that appeared immediately charged at Rokko’s body out of the blue.
“Rina, are you okay?!”
Appearing from the window was a little boy.
And the thing that sent Rokko flying was a huge centipede; it must be that boy’s (Mushi). It seemed like he have climbed all the way up here through the outer wall with his centipede.
Blood poured out from her abdomen like fountain, Rokko’s consciousness blurred for a moment.
(Mr. Hat House) turned to look at the boy that appeared, and showed a smile.
“Kazufusa… help me!”
Although she didn’t know who that boy was, it seemed like he knew Rina. And right now, he thought (Mr. Hat House) was Rina herself.
If she were to face two Mushitsuki straight on, it would be too much even for her.
Just when she was thinking what she should do under such a disadvantage, a crispy sound of footwear suddenly echoed.
That sound of footwear clicking against the floor, it seemed like the little boy and (Mr. Hat House) had also heard them.
Three Mushitsuki’s line sight, as if attracted by a magnet, all turned towards the emergency stairs at the same time.
The sound echoed again and again, slowly approaching the floor where they were at.
And at last, the person who appeared in front of them, was a little girl so gorgeous one couldn’t even gaze straight at.
Wearing a full-colored mourning outfit, her long hair swayed by the wind blowing through the opened windows, transparent tears rolling down her cheeks as she stared quietly at these three Mushitsuki.
“R-Rina..? Who is this --- then?”
“Hello, young lady.”
It seemed like due to the reason that the original have appeared, (Mr. Hat House) suddenly gave up and stopped mimicking. After the huge hat covered him completely and resized, he had already returned to his original young teenage figure. It looked like that hat was his (Mushi) which was capable of producing those black-colored nematodes.
On the other hand, looking at the girl who she had been eagerly searching for appearing before her, Rokko stood up trembling, walking straight towards her with her awkward movements.
“C-Children are my food --- I'm going to eat them all --- not leaving even one.”
Performing her techniques to the best of her ability, she slowly walked towards the girl.
She had been searching, and searching ---
Ever since the moment she saw her standing next to her window, she had been thinking ---
More beautiful than anyone else --
Stronger than anyone else –
Purer than anyone else, that girl’s smile would definitely ---
“--- Guru Guru, biting from the head downward--- come, come here closer ---"
Cracking her neck side to side as she moved closer and closer.
In the middle of the hall that was almost completely destroyed, the puppet started dancing.
Even though it was out of the tune with the surrounding sceneries, the succinct performance rooted Rina to the ground, not able to avert her eyes the slightest.
And then, finally ---
“…Yeah, I gotta save you right.”
A tear flashed down Rokko’s cheeks.
Her empty stomach was instantly filled as strength fueled her body.
Just as she had expected.
This girl --- Tachibana Rina’s smile would definitely bring more smiles to the world.
Rokko --- a traveling busker who wished to see everyone’s smiles, a Mushitsuki harboring a dream that could never be realized ---
--- was saved by a girl’s smile.
Thank you for reading~
Feel free to leave comments for any questions or feedback~
Came across this pic after I done tling, i think it fits very well and awesome ~ xD