mintychu: (nines;)
[personal profile] mintychu

1


As if cutting through a cloud of dust, a close-range weapon flashes. The Type-4O Sword — a state-of-the-art saber granted to those elite fighters on the front lines. Lightning bursts from the blade, its hemispherical body flying in an arc.

A now headless machine lifeform ceases movement, its cylindrical body laying motionless in the sand, before exploding moments later. The debris caught up in the explosion rain down on the surrounding area as nothing more than hunks of metal.

Once the explosion clears, all that remains is the sound of the desert wind.

As the clouds of sand fade from the air, a figure appears. The figure can be easily recognized as an adult woman; her soft curves and slender body, as well as her beautiful legs extending from the hem of her skirt, give her away in an instant.

Though in actuality, she is neither an "adult" nor a "woman". The owner of said figure isn't even a human, nor does she have a sex, in a biological sense. She is a YoRHa model android, No.2 Type B, or more commonly known as 2B, specializing in combat.

On this Earth, humans are already long gone. Due to the invasion of aliens, humans were forced to escape to the moon. The planet is now a battleground for the machine lifeforms created by those aliens, and the androids who are tasked with their annihilation.

Sheathing her sword, 2B directs her attention behind herself as she speaks.

"Is that all of them?"

In response to her question, an object floating around two meters above the ground lowers itself. It's a tactical support unit known as a pod. With a rectangular head and four arms of various sizes, it mainly moves about through the air, however water deployment is also possible. Equipped with long-range attacks, situational analysis, transmission capabilities, as well as first aid equipment and so on, it has every function necessary to assist YoRHa androids.

"Affirmative: No enemies detected within five kilometers of the access point."

"I see," 2B mutters, as she steps up to a large metallic box, which only happens to be slightly taller than her. The access point, which is disguised as a relic of human civilization known as a "vending machine", is an important facility for conducting communications with the Bunker and checking information on the surrounding area.

Whether they're aware of that or not, machine lifeforms tend to find and gather around access points. From the corners of ruins to the middle of the desert, it doesn't matter. They swarm like bugs to fallen fruit.

Consequently, when YoRHa members send and receive mail to Earth, or need to obtain information on the surrounding topography, they must first get rid of the machine lifeforms gathering at the access point. It has already become a normal routine for them.

Now, having completed the usual procedure, 2B is able to fulfill her original goal. She selects the latest message from her list of mail, and opens it. However, just as her line of sight makes out the name of the sender and the words "top secret", she hears him.

"2B!"

The sudden surprise is caused by 9S, No.9 Type S. While he's also a YoRHa member, unlike 2B, he's not built with the appearance of an adult female, but rather his appearance mimics that of a human boy.

"Is that a message from the Commander?"

While he may not have been able to catch a glimpse of the message, Scanner models specialize in investigative purposes and have high intuition and observational skills. Seeing as it wasn't the usual time for communication to arrive from the Council of Humanity, and reading personal e-mails directly before commencing an operation is highly unlikely, he'd come to the conclusion that it must be a message from the Commander.

"No, it has nothing to do with the current investigation. It's instructions for another assignment. More importantly," she says, in an attempt to change the subject, "this wasn't our rendezvous point."

The chosen rendezvous point was actually a location closer to their destination.

"Well, yeah, but you looked like you were in the middle of a battle, so ... I thought I'd come support you."

"That's unnecessary."

If she weren't even capable of dispatching of a few machine lifeforms alone, she'd be defective as a B-type model, after all.

"Yeah, looks like it," 9S responds, with an exaggerated shrug. "Well, we managed to rendezvous safely, so why don't we head towards the target area?"

The coordinates in the map data update from the previous rendezvous point to their target destination, and 2B and 9S begin moving.

2


"Gah! There's sand in my shoes again!"

While walking through the desert, 9S gets the strange feeling that his shoes are flooding with water, but it turns out it's sand, instead. It's a perfectly natural thing, which 2B doesn't believe is something to shout about, but that doesn't seem to be the case for 9S. They walk a few meters, he frowns, they walk a few more, and he's shouting again. And it repeats just like that.

"Doesn't it bother you?"

"Doesn't what bother me?"

"The sand! Aren't your shoes full of it, 2B?"

"They are, and while it's an odd feeling, it isn't causing any hindrance to my movement."

The sand in the air is causing poor visibility, but the sand in her shoes can hardly be recognized as a problem. And with that dismissal, 9S's shoulders blatantly drop.

"It's not movement that's the problem, it's the way it feels! Don't you hate the way it just sloshes around in your shoes like that?"

"Feelings are prohibited."

How many times has she had to repeat that phrase to him, she wonders. This isn't the first time she's been paired with him for a mission.

"Yeah, yeah."

9S replies roughly the same way every time, with that pouty tone and facial expression. Well, actually, in the beginning it was more of a 'sorry', with him huddling in on himself instead.

2B had heard that the reason YoRHa members were encouraged not to have emotions was because of a group of them who failed their mission because of them. Of course, emotions cause fluctuations in judgement and behavior, so she believes it's unnecessary for them to have them anyway. ... Herself, in particular.

"Hey! Is that it?"

In the direction of 9S's pointing, the shadow of a building-like shape suddenly emerges. Well, it's not exactly 'sudden', as its location was already properly displayed in the map data, but due to the sandstorm and uneven terrain, 2B wasn't able to see it until now.

"Affirmative: That is the target of investigation. A large structure left over from human civilization."

The pod responds from beside her. However, it's not the pod assigned to 2B, Pod 042, but rather the pod that had been assigned to 9S, Pod 153. Unless specifically spoken to or deemed necessary, pods won't answer questions posed by anyone other than those they directly support.

Suddenly, the wind quiets down, and visibility improves. From the shadow, which was originally blurred by sand clouds, a large arch comes into view. 2B can see that the building had been built within the side of a hollowed out mountain, partially facing a nearby valley. Overall, it has a strange architectural style.

"Looks like it's the structure known as a temple, some sort of religious facility. I think its formal name was the "Barren Temple". It started out as a place of residence, but humans later began using it as a temple instead, or ... something like that!"

2B can hear the liveliness in 9S's voice as he says that. S-type models are characterized by their research and information gathering abilities, so they tend to hold a great deal of interest in just about everything.

"Come on, let's go, 2B!"

He speaks in a tone that suggests waiting isn't an option, as he breaks into a run, kicking up sand in his wake. It's like he's totally different from the boy who was whining about sand just moments ago. No doubt, these are his emotions at work. Watching this, a smile begins to tug at 2B's lips, but she's quick to suppress it.

"Emotions ... are forbidden ..."

She'd only meant to think those words, but they slipped out of her mouth before she'd realized it. At that, 9S turns back to look at her as he shouts.

"Did you say something?"

"It's nothing," is her response, as she, too, begins heading towards the building known as the Barren Temple.

3


The interior of the temple is so quiet, it feels like sound itself has disappeared. The wind, which had so incessantly rang in the pair's ears not long ago, now sounds as though it's been muffled by a thick wall.

"Huh. It almost feels like this place has air conditioning."

Pod 153 promptly responds to 9S's statement.

"Negative: No air conditioning equipment detected within the structure. The current perception of temperature is merely being caused by the difference between the interior and exterior temperatures."

"Oh, for the love of ... Yeah, I know. That's just how it felt."

9S's words come out in a sulking tone, as he hustles through a small passageway. 2B follows close behind, remaining vigilant of her surroundings.

The sound of the duo's footsteps echo and overlap with the sound of their pods' low humming. Suddenly, a portion of the ceiling collapses, creating a place from which light can shine into the area. Thanks to that, the surrounding area becomes a little more visible, and the two are able to make out rectangular stones, systematically placed throughout the staircase and landing.

"Man, did sand seriously get this far into the temple?"

9S peers over the railing of the staircase, looking down at the area below, which happens to be completely buried in sand. It's not just the ground, but even the walls are covered, like the sand had formed itself into small mountains.

"Hypothesis: The accumulated sand within the passageway was placed artificially, however date and purpose of placement are unknown."

"Artificially? You mean they made it flow all the way in here themselves? Like a river or something?"

"Affirmative. It is conveniently referred to as artificial quicksand."

"I wonder why they'd do such a thing. You said the purpose was unknown, right?"

"Affirmative."

There are still so many mysteries surrounding the old world. Mankind may have escaped to the moon, however that doesn't mean they were able to bring all of their information with them. That's why androids continue to conduct investigations for recording and preservation purposes.

"Are there any machine lifeforms nearby?"

Despite not receiving any indication that enemies are in the area herself, 2B poses the question to Pod 042. It's better to be careful in situations like this.

"Analysis: Scans indicate no enemy presence within the temple."

That means that even if, in a fit of curiosity, 9S were to do something rash, he wouldn't be placed in immediate danger. Although, there are machine lifeforms capable of jamming radio waves, so it can't be said for certain whether the area is safe just yet.

"Alert: Damage detected in the floor and staircase ahead."

9S laughs at Pod 153's advice.

"I know that even without your warning. Right, 2B?"

2B merely nods, as she notices a huge stone blocking the descending staircase which leads further into the building.

"This rock looks like it was a part of the ceiling. It's a bit damaged, but you can still make out the patterns on it."

Kneeling down, 9S investigates the large stone before them, before turning his gaze upwards, 2B following suit moments later. The two of them notice the dazzling blue sky above, peeking in from the hole in the ceiling.

"I wonder what caused it to collapse like that."

At the very least, it doesn't appear to be due to machine lifeforms. The purpose of androids is to return the Earth to its rightful owners, humans, and if possible, in a condition as close as possible to how they left it. Therefore, it's best to avoid engaging with machine lifeforms, so as to keep from destroying the ruins further.

Thus, it's difficult to believe there would have been a fight in this vicinity. If an android were to encounter an enemy here, they would most likely have led it to a more open location, away from the ruins.

"Analysis: The collapse appears to have occurred thousands of years ago. Therefore, it is impossible to identify the cause."

"Whoa, thousands of years, huh? That's amazing!"

"Amazing?"

"Yeah! I mean, if the ceiling here collapsed thousands of years ago, then that means this whole place must've been built much earlier than that. I can't believe it's in such good condition. Since the desert climate's harsh and all, a stone building like this should be way more weathered than it is."

9S practically says all of that in one breath, but once he's finished, he gets to his feet, and begins making his way to the room to the side of the staircase, almost as though he's being called to it.

"Now what?" 2B asks, in mild amazement.

9S keeps his eyes fixed on the half-open door to the room.

"How do you think this door opened and closed? I mean, this is stone, right? And look at how thick it is. There's no way an average human could've moved something this heavy."

The door is made up of a pair of sliding doors, but there's no signs of movement by either pushing or pulling on them. 9S eagerly tilts his head.

"Do you think there's a power source for it somewhere?"

9S peers inside the room. However, unlike the passage they're in now, which has natural light pouring into it, the inside of the room is nothing but darkness. Pod 153 moves around to the front of 9S, just as he's about to carelessly step foot into the dark room.

"Proposal: Light function should be utilized."

"Got it. Go ahead and activate it."

"Affirmative."

With that, Pod 153 lights the area, covering quite a wide portion of the room. Though when 9S, accompanied by Pod 153, makes his way further in, the entrance becomes dark again as a result. 2B follows suit, having her own pod activate its light as she steps into the room.

9S peers up at the ceiling, before breaking into a run, moving his eyes toward the walls next as he does. His footsteps echo throughout the room, as he continuously stops to investigate the stones paving the floor below him. 2B feels as though her head is spinning just watching his behavior.

"The floors, the wall, even the ceiling — everything's made out of stone! They cut out huge slabs of it, arranged them, and lined them up accordingly ... It's totally unlike any architectural styles I've seen before! What kind of machinery did they use? How did they manage to transport all of this stone? And how is this single pillar managing to maintain the whole thing intact?"

9S can't help but speak with excitement in his voice, as he runs up to a portion of the wall.

"I think they might've used this area for lighting. On this elongated stand, here."

"Affirmative: There are traces which indicate a light fixture known as a "torch" may have been placed there."

"One, two, three, four ... There's eight of them in all. I wonder what this room was used for. There aren't any signs of it being used for rituals or anything."

Having finished his investigation of the room, 9S makes his way to the door in the back. While the door at the entrance had apparently been left open, the door in the back was closed shut.

"It sounds kind of ridiculous, but ..."

9S places his hands between the area where the sliding doors meet.

"I'm gonna see if I can open this. Though it'll probably be impossible ..."

The sound of 9S's words overlaps with the sound of the door's creaking, as he slowly manages to move it to both sides.

"Wait a sec, it seriously worked?!"

9S looks on in utter shock at the now open door, as his pod moves in and out of the newly opened room, shining its light as it does. Gaining knowledge of the surrounding area in advance of the unit it supports is also a part of a pod's duties.

"Alert: Extreme differences in elevation between the door and passageway. There is a possibility of it hindering movement."

Unfortunately, Pod 153's warning alone isn't enough to curb the curiosity of a Type-S android.

"I'm just gonna take a quick look! I'll be right back!"

And just like that, 9S moves forward, his hand letting go of the door as it creaks shut behind him.

4


2B lets out a small sigh the moment 9S and his pod disappear into the other room. She isn't about to let this chance slip through her fingers.

"Pod, initiate short-range battle support and deploy weaponry."

"Affirmative: Initiating short-range radio-wave camouflage and activating short-range attack gear."

Pod 042 proceeds through the protocol indifferently.

"Switching battle mode to Anti-YoRHa. Disengaging ID signal."

Thinking of what she'll have to do from here, 2B's heart sinks. And though it takes a great deal of effort, in order to keep her thoughts in line, she stills herself.

This is merely a part of her mission. Yes, it's just a mission. In her head, she focuses on the words "top secret".

It was only just after she'd disembarked from her flight unit that she'd gotten the mail notification. It happened neither while she was still on the Bunker, nor when she was entering the Earth's atmosphere. The moment she stepped foot in the desert, her pod had informed her of it.

Right then, she immediately knew what it meant. The mail had come directly from the Commander, rather than through an operator, at a time when it would be difficult to intercept. The highest level of secrecy.

No, actually, 2B knew what she'd have to do long before that message had been received. She knew from the moment she was instructed to investigate the ruins with 9S, that it wouldn't be long before she'd be given the command to strike him down. Unfortunately for her, that premonition would come true.

"Pod. Locate 9S's position and provide the best route for approaching from the side."

"Affirmative. Locating unit 9S's black box signal and commencing search for optimal route."

2B turns away from the door 9S and Pod 153 disappeared through. It's better to use a separate route to pursue them. Rather than follow them, she should find a way past them and lay a trap before they get there.

Her target is a Type S, after all. And the newest model in a type that excels at research and information gathering, no less. If she isn't careful, she won't be able to take him by surprise.

But then again, in terms of fighting ability, 2B has the upper hand. The outcome has already been decided, so in truth, there's no real need for a surprise attack. However, she'd rather get it over with quickly, if at all possible, before 9S even has a chance to realize he's being attacked. If she can manage that, she can end things before he feels more fear and pain than necessary ...

"Search complete," Pod 042 utters, its voice acting as her cue as she turns back towards the passageway they were in before. She makes her way up to the huge stone blocking the stairs, and leaps over it, 9S's black box signal immediately coming into range once she does.

2B descends the staircase making as little noise as possible. The source of the black box signal is in the next room. Quietly drawing her sword, she closes in on the door.

Just like the first door they came across, this room's door has also been left open. However, 9S is no where to be seen.

2B approaches the door further, making sure to check her surroundings as thoroughly as possible. There are no obstacles to be seen in the vicinity. In other words, that means there are no places for him to hide. However she still can't be sure whether it's safe to set foot inside the room just yet ...

Suddenly, she can feel a presence behind her, and in an instant, 2B barrel rolls to the side, as bullets rain down upon where she was once standing. There's no doubt — that was a long-range attack from a pod program.

As she's working on righting herself, 2B spots a blade coming down at her. 9S, who had at some point looped around behind her, was now engaging her with a short-range long sword.

She never imagined she would be the one attacked by him. Despite having planned to be the one to initiate a surprise attack, for her to be the one hit by one is unexpected.

As she aims a kick to the hand 9S is holding his sword in, alarms go off in her head.

Why is 9S is possession of a short-range weapon? He shouldn't be capable of even holding a long sword in such a fashion.

2B quickly puts distance between the two of them, watching as 9S's sword burns in the heat of battle and dissolves away. If she had gone through with that kick carelessly, she would've suffered a substantial wound to her right leg. Aware of his disadvantage in close combat, 9S had probably set a trap of his own.

She needs to change the location of their battle somehow. In a dark place with poor visibility like this, it's unfavorable for her to have arrived later than he had.

With a huge leap, 2B puts distance between the two of them, and heads straight through one of the doors. She comes out into a room different from the one 9S's black box signal is coming from. Thinking over the amount of time it's been since they originally separated, she doesn't believe he'd have had enough time to place traps in this room as well.

9S follows quickly behind 2B. Despite having no where to hide, 9S shows no hesitation. Using Pod 153's laser as a distraction, he sets up a close range attack of his own. 2B is nothing short of perplexed by 9S's aggressive fighting style; he fights as though he's fine with the concept of risking his life here. She's never seen him like this before.

Dodging Pod 153's lasers, 2B quickly moves to slash at 9S. But 9S's movements are quicker than she'd expected, and her attack fails to connect. Or, rather, it's his pod's long-range attacks that are causing the most trouble. Wanting to stop the movements of Pod 153 first, she shouts the order to her own pod.

"Pod! Set Pod 153 as your primary target!"

There is no setting which allows attacks at the risk of one's own life in a support unit's programming. Therefore, if one comes under attack, it will immediately switch over to evasive behavior. In other words, she can interrupt its long-range attacks during the moments it uses to evade. It only affords her about one or two seconds at a time, but it's enough.

The previously never-ending stream of lasers ceases for a brief moment, and in that moment, 2B quickly closes in on 9S. Not having expected an attack on his own pod, 9S stops in his tracks, giving 2B the opportunity to close in, her blade pointed directly at him.

"This is it," 2B thinks to herself, before she's overwhelmed with an intense feeling of discomfort, and the sword she'd been clenching so tightly falls to the floor.

2B tries to open her eyes, but she's unable to do even just that. Her arms, her legs — she's lost control over her entire body.

Suddenly the stones paving the ground approach her eyes, or more accurately, her body's the one that approaches them. As she falls, she can hear 9S's voice beside her.

"I'm sorry."

5


"So it wasn't just a misunderstanding," 9S mutters. Or, rather, his words don't actually make any sound. "Voices" within hacking space are only recognized as his own personal data. The white surroundings are also nothing more than that.

"I wish it really were a misunderstanding," he thinks to himself. That 2B was willing to kill him is just too much. With each of his words comes inadvertent changes in his expression and tone, showing small glimpses of his doubts. Though soon, those doubts turn to confidence and that confidence becomes reality.

"I really didn't want to have to do this ..."

That isn't a lie. It's the truth. He just couldn't think of any other way. From the moment he realized that 2B was sent from the Commander to keep watch over him, he tried to think of whether there was any other way, but it was no use.

"There's just no way a Type-S could win against a Type-B."

9S knows 2B's battle capabilities well, as they've been sent on a number of missions together. If he didn't take control of her body through hacking, it'd be a one-sided fight. In order to hack 2B, who rarely ever shows an opening anyway, he had to seize the right opportunity while engaging her in close-range combat. It's in the moment of capturing prey that predators become most defenseless. It's through observing the remaining life on Earth that 9S has realized this.

Conversely, this was a successful hack precisely because 2B had really meant to kill him in that moment. If she had not had murderous intent, no matter how much 9S had attacked her, she would've just reverted to evasive maneuvers, and he would've never had the right opening he needed to hack her. The fact that 9S is where he is in this moment is proof of her intent to kill him.

"No matter how you look at it, we were both acting in our own selfish interests."

Though right now, 9S feels as though he's doing something even worse than merely killing her. Not only is he trying to kill her, but he's also forced himself inside her head without permission. He knows that's terrible. And yet.

"There's something I wanted to know."

9S cautiously proceeds towards 2B's memory storage. He didn't hack her solely for the purpose of taking control of her body and killing her. There's something he needed to know, no matter the cost.

"Therefore, you are to eliminate 9S."

The most recent thing in her memory seems to be the contents of a message. There's no doubt this was the message she received at that access point not long ago. Unprocessed memories are not stored in chronological order, but by the strength of the impression they leave on the unit.

The moment she'd opened that message, her eyes jumped right to those words. "Therefore, you are to eliminate 9S". In other words, 2B must've been anticipating that message from the beginning. All because she'd been thinking about how it'd be coming soon, her eyes darted straight for those words before anything else.

"Confirmation received."

"He appears to have tried ..."

"Contents,"

"Accessed the main server ..."

"Pending issue for some time ..."

"Several instances ..."

"Forbidden ..."

"9S has ..."


Fragments of her memory are scattered about. The words being as disjointed as they are indicates that 2B must have been very upset when she read them. Moreover, 9S himself had appeared while she was reading them. She hadn't been allowed the time she needed to organize the sentences in her head ...

9S presses on further into her memory storage, seeking the answers needed to satisfy his questions.

"Is this it? The ... secret conversation between 2B and the Commander."

2B can be seen looking at the back of the Commander. Rather than a confidential conversation exchanged through a transmission, it seems she spoke to her in person.

"But isn't it standard for an S-Type to conduct field surveys independently?"

"You're too concerned about what's standard. There can be exceptions. For example, what if it were an area showing multiple enemy responses? S-Type's are unsuitable for battle, so that would create the need for someone to go along and support them."

"... Understood. Then I'll proceed with that."

"For the time being, I only want you monitoring him. You'll be given more instructions at a later date."

It's a memory of 2B from before she'd ever cooperated with 9S. But, at this point in time, he shouldn't have done anything "prohibited" yet. Nevertheless, the Commander felt she needed someone to monitor him. He wonders what she was even basing her suspicions on.

Then, suddenly, a memory concerning 9S surfaces.

"Scanners like me mostly work alone. Scouting out enemy lines and all that? I don't usually get a partner. It's kind of fun!"

Ah, he remembers this. Those are the words he told her in their first mission together. Apparently 2B must've thought about her conversation with the Commander during that. 9S didn't realize that, even then, 2B had been monitoring him. Not to mention, he had no idea that they'd even be together "at a later date".

With the bitter taste of that memory lingering, he moves on to the next one. It seems to be a memory of a conversation with the Commander again, this time through a transmission, though the Commander's voice is hard to make out through static.

"... S-Type's specialize in research and information gathering. Due to those characteristics, they tend to know too much. Perhaps this is the fate of S-Type models ..."

"What's wrong with knowing too much?" 9S thinks to himself. "Is that really a thing?"

"I'm certain that someday 9S will partake in something he shouldn't. No, he may even have already crossed that line."

9S can't refute that claim. It's true that he'd already attempted to access the main server without permission.

"There is as of yet no confirmation. However, it seems someone has already attempted unauthorized access to the main server. This attempt appears to have been a failure, but the next one ..."

That's right, he failed the first time. He had to escape due to an attack barrier. He withdrew immediately, so he shouldn't have left any traces behind. But he abandoned his next attempt after having already broken through one of the barriers. And during the next one, he was able to break through even more. The more barriers he broke, the longer it'd take him to withdraw. It became easier and easier for them to catch him.

It may have just been a matter of time, for his illegal access to be discovered. Even so, he wanted to know. The harder the barriers became to overcome, the more he wanted to see what was on the other side. Even though he knew it was dangerous, he couldn't stop. If there's something he doesn't know, he can't just leave it that way.

This must be what she meant by the fate of an S-Type model. What the Commander said was true. She had every right to monitor him, and maybe even kill him.

The next memory once again takes place in the Bunker. However this time, it's not showing the back of the Commander, but instead the front of her.

"S-Type models are not suitable for battle. You should not have any difficulties disposing of him. However just because close-range combat isn't their specialty, doesn't mean they don't have the ability to fight. And in addition, S-Type models are sharp. There's a high possibility that he'll realize someone has been sent to monitor him."

"He doesn't appear to have realized it ..."

"You just aren't suited to be observing him. Just as he isn't suited for combat."

Once again, the Commander wasn't wrong. 2B really didn't realize it — that 9S had seen through her identity a long time ago.

At first, 9S thought she was only pretending not to notice, but that idea soon disappeared. 2B just didn't have the qualities she needed, or rather, she was clumsy. She'd show glimpses of kindness or concern during unexpected times ... It wouldn't be strange if she were just hiding who she truly was under that facade, but to an S-Type model, it was easy to figure out.

"Either way, if you attack him, he's sure to attack back. And with that hacking ability S-Type's are so skilled at."

What a good eye she has. 9S wants to give her applause for it. Because, right now, things are proceeding exactly as the Commander had believed they would.

With this, he's found half the answers he'd been searching for. The reason 2B wanted to kill him was because the Commander had ordered it, due to him knowing too much. 9S wonders where the key that'll unlock the rest of this mystery must be, and then he hears it.

"I'll let 9S go on ahead, and then I'll be able to deploy my weapons and make my way past him for a surprise attack."

Fragments of memories from a different time period interrupt the memory of her conversation with the Commander.

"If I can just end it quickly ..."

It's obviously an older memory, compared to the other one. 2B seems to have been thinking about how to dispose of 9S long before the Commander ordered it.

"... Then 9S won't have a chance to realize what's happening ... And I can end it before he feels more pain and fear than necessary ..."

The other half of the answers he sought.

"So that was it, huh," 9S thinks to himself, as he watches the interrupting memory disappear.

"Even for someone like you, who's superior in close combat, if you were to be hacked by him, you would lose all locomotive functions in your limbs. That's why ..."

"That's why what? What'd she do to 2B? So the Commander didn't instruct her to use a surprise attack. But then what did she instruct her to do?"

These thoughts run through 9S's mind, before the answer reveals itself.

"Set a trap for him in hacking space."

9S is overcome with a terrible feeling upon hearing those words. And in the next moment, a black wall appears in contrast to the white space around him, and purple and orange balls of light come flying at him. It's an installation-type logic virus.

By installing a logic virus in her memory storage, she created a surefire way to effectively attack him if he were to hack her. However, 2B could also be affected by said logic virus, so he hadn't expected her to have gone this far.

"Crap, I was careless!"

Well, actually, rather than being something he hadn't expected, it was more something he had just hoped wouldn't happen. The Commander always tended to choose methods which would place 2B in great danger.

"I gotta get out of here before my data gets contaminated."

"Unfortunately, even logic viruses aren't perfect. So let's take the necessary precautions," 2B's memory continues on.

"Where's the exit?! Where's the route I secured?!"

"If you utilize a closed barrier, you can lock him within your logic circuit."

Before he can even fully realize what's happening, 9S's body ceases movement, and dark spheres begin to rapidly appear within the hacking space, caused by a barrier with a self-closing algorithm.

"Pod! Construct a new escape route!"

No response.

Not only did the logic virus attack 9S's personal data, but it also cut off contact to the outside, effectively severing any paths out.

He only has a few seconds remaining before his "current self" is crushed by the virus and disappears. He watches helplessly as the white space around him becomes painted over by black.

"Is this ... it ..."

The location from which 2B received her orders was from the access point within the desert. There were so many opportunities for her to kill him before they even reached their destination. There was no place to hide, the footing in the sand was terrible, and 2B is easily the better fighter — she had all the advantages in the world. Nevertheless, 2B didn't even attempt to attack him until they were already inside the temple. But 9S was able to see her memories, and find the answer to all of that.

"2B sure is clumsy ..."

It was all so she could end it quickly. So 9S could die without realizing what was happening.

The black spheres fill in the remaining space, leaving no gaps. However, somehow it's a strange and quiet feeling. 9S feels neither fear nor pain.

"Goodbye, 2B ..."

And in that moment, darkness takes over.

6


Just as quickly as when she'd lost control of her limbs before, control returns to her.

"Closed barrier operational. Logic circuit blockade complete. Isolation successful."

2B blinks a few times to confirm the success of the operation, before slowly rousing her body awake. Her motor functions are perfectly operational now.

"Elimination pending."

She feels numb, so much so that not even a needle could make her feel pain. The only thing she can feel is the feeling of having completed a mission, as she looks down at 9S's lifeless body before her. His black box signal hasn't faded, but the loss of his personal data has caused all of his functions to cease.

If she could've killed him with just close combat then it would've been fine, but if she couldn't, then she could easily have used the logic virus to take him out. Even if 9S were to remove the virus, if he's imprisoned within the logic circuit due to the closed barrier, she'd still be able to erase each of his circuits. It was all the Commander's idea.

9S may have had his two-tiered strategy of hacking during close combat, but the Commander, who'd thought of a three-tiered strategy, had won this.

2B grasps her sword with the opposite hand, and thrusts it downward.

"Destruction of head."

The palm of her hand feels strange as it resists, a feeling she's never experienced before. It's not like this is the first time she's been made to destroy a friend's body. When another member of YoRHa became inoperable on the battlefield, and she had to destroy them, she didn't feel anything like this. She wonders if she's finished destroying him yet.

"Destruction of chest."

Once again, she thrusts her sword downward. It's peculiar. That strange feeling from before is spreading. It was only the palm of her hand moments ago, but now she can feel a sense of pressure in her upper body as well. Despite no signs of anything physically placing that pressure on her, she feels like she can barely breathe.

"Black-box signal confirmed offline."

His body lay before her, completely destroyed. With his personal data also destroyed, 9S can officially be considered dead. Her mission is complete. And yet, despite that, she feels as though she's left something incomplete — she feels strangely forlorn. She can't figure out why her respiratory functions feel like they're failing.

"Goodbye, 2B ..."

His words play back in her mind. The data that still remains in her memory, 9S's final words. It's a strange feeling, but she finally realizes what's been causing that pain in her chest.

"Right ... So this is ..."

The feeling known as guilt. Or perhaps even remorse. But regardless of what it is, emotions are forbidden.

In the moment she tries to suppress those forbidden feelings, 2B feels something else well up within her, as if to resist that. Memories of 9S.

His voice as he'd shout, '2B'. The smile he made when when he told her how fun it was to have a partner — it was such a bashful smile. She wonders during which mission it was when he was so shocked by her unexpected clumsiness, as well.

She can feel a lump form in the back of her throat, as her chest tightens, and she grits her teeth. For the first time, she understands the pain caused by the memories of those left behind. But this is her own fault. She's the one who's accumulated more memories than necessary.

"Goodbye, 2B ..."

Again. That voice again.

2B shakes her head in an attempt to drive his voice out of her mind.

"I won't apologize."

It was her mission, after all. She holds no feelings of guilt. None whatsoever. If she's given the order to do this again, she'll do it in a heartbeat.

"Because this is my duty," she says to herself, as she raises her head.

"Pod, contact the Commander."

"Acknowledged."

Pod 042 begins communications, causing a projection of a screen to appear.

As her pod does its job, she thinks to herself. She knows she'll have to do this again, so she's decided she'll forbid herself from becoming too close to anyone else. She'll keep the time she spends with people, the conversations she has with them, to a minimum. That way, she won't create unnecessary memories again. That way ... she won't have emotions that should never have existed in the first place.

"Commander here."

2B breathes in deeply, pushing out all the remaining pain in her chest — everything.

"2B here. I've completed the mission."

From her indifferent voice, something within her fades away, like the sand which falls throughout the temple.

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jenana

May 2017

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