7. The Invisible Cage
The town is noisy today. The C.C. Corporation P.C. have gathered for a meeting and many P.C. have gathered around them.
Ikaruga gives the spectacle a sidelong glance as he, like always, enjoys the sunset from atop of the bridge. In an unusual twist, Divine is absent.
A group of three to four people cross the bridge as they walk towards the plaza. One grumbles aloud, “As I thought, you too? Just what’s going on?”
“There’s no keyboard or monitor, I can’t logout… No way this is an event.”
Ikaruga separates from the handrail at those words. They can’t logout….?
A steamed gunner voices his exasperation. “Looks like the company support is also getting impatient. It really makes me doubt this is an event.”
A macabre dancer’s shoulders droop at the remark. “That’s… Doesn’t administration look as clueless to what started this as everybody else? I wonder… if we’ll be stuck here forever.”
“At worst, couldn’t they just cut the server line?”
“Would that let us logout…?”
Ikaruga, anxious about their discussion, follows after them. There are other P.C. who “can’t return.” It isn’t just one or two people either. Every player logged in has the same problem.
The usual, thriving, guild shops within the plaza are ignored by the P.C. who protest the administrative support. Some employees are trying to mediate the problem, but they’re being overwhelmed. One says, “Please be patient, we are currently investigating this matter. We’re in the same situation as all of you…”
A tribal grappler approaches while saying, “You administrators don’t even know the cause of this problem! Is this some sort of joke?” Similar conversations are repeated all around.
Ikaruga listens in on various groups, but is unsuccessful in learning more about the situation. He stops upon noticing 2 to 3 strange P.C. emerging from the shadows of an alleyway. They wear cones atop of their heads and wrap their bodies in black robes. Their faces, however, are covered by a white mask.
A strange sensation of nostalgia and terror assails Ikaruga. …What the? I… know them…?
He once heard that people with amnesia sometimes recall things they don’t want to remember. In other words, Ikaruga is remembering something terrifying.
Ikaruga was once involved with those black P.C., but he hesitates on whether he should approach them. Something is warning him, it might be his subconscious, but he’s being told, “Run away.”
His body doesn’t listen to the voice. All he can do is click his tongue at his own helplessness as he trembles in place.
One of the black robes notices Ikaruga and says, “…Hey, that man,” and they all stare at him, jii.
“No way, is that Ikaruga?”
“P.C. names can’t be repeated. There’s no doubt about it.”
The same way Ikaruga knows the men in black, they know him. They, however, show no intention of approaching him. They exchange a few messages and then melt back into the shadows.
Ikaruga is released from the tension gripping his body the moment they are out of sight. He walks back to the bridge with his trembling legs and grasps the handrail. He calms himself by taking several deep breaths.
That’s when a different pain overcomes Ikaruga. That noise he felt long ago returns. Him… again…? A black adept rouge and pink haired, female P.C., tribal grappler run past him towards the dome.
His head burns as a string of words pass through. That woman… Tar- vos…? But even though it’s a word from his own thoughts, What’s… Tarvos?
Ikaruga watches their two backs get smaller. Once the noise settles and the adept rouge disappears into the dome, he forces himself to stand back up. There’s a lot he doesn’t know. He’s followed the same pattern every day since the last incident. There are times when he’s unsatisfied, but watching the sunset always lifts his spirit. Running into that black, adept rouge, P.C. gives me trouble.
Ikaruga murmurs, posori, a complaint as he watches the sunset. “…Ever since I met that cat, nothing good has happened.”
The problem of being unable to logout is resolved after several hours. It’s resolved for everyone, save Ikaruga.
One person is left behind
T/N: Poor Ikaruga! Anyway, here’s another chapter down. Things might start moving now that those shadows noticed Ikaruga. Seeing something happen would be nice. This novel is only a volume long and we are in seven chapters. Well, let’s wait for our patience to be rewarded. Still, those P.C. sure took getting stuck in The World very well. Way to well if you ask me. Didn’t they realize they were actually in the game?? Their bloody monitors were gone!!
Now, I’m not sure if the person with Haseo today is the same as last time. Back then, the person’s class was written as, 呪術士, this time the class is, 拳術士. The difference is the first kanji, but again, I don’t know if that was intentional. I’m also not that familiar with the character personalities to make a proper guess.