Epilogue: One Obstacle Cleared, and Many to Come...Never_Ending
Part 1 (Ito Toshiki)
Wearing a typical blue collar shirt and black pants, Ito Toshiki lay low behind the stack of crates situated near the chaotic warehouse.
"How was the outcome?"
Loosening the collar around his neck due to the humid weather, Ito cleared his throat before giving his reply to the supervisor of this parallel world, «Versteckwelt».
"Iseki Kanae, Minami Ayase, and Sugisata Nariaki. I have visual confirmations for those named above, Gensai Seishiro."
"What about the rest?"
"Only Iseki Kanae has exited from the warehouse. I will update you on the status of Team Sundown Riders after I checked on them."
"I just hope none of them are dead... It'll be troubling if I am stuck with doing up reports all night instead of hanging out with chicks at Daybreak's Bar. Anyway, good work, Ito; sorry for troubling you to go in my stead."
"You are welcome, Gensai. It seemed that my assistance was not needed, as they had managed to resolve the matter on their own."
That much was true.
"More importantly, how did the conference meeting between the supervisors went?"
"Well, in brief, Gester addressed the recent concern about the unusual rise in number of Unnatural Deaths of us Denscrants. I will forward to you the minutes of the meeting later, so you can look through it yourself. Either way, be on your guard. Apparently, this unknown enemy can easily target anybody in any parallel world."
"Understood. I shall proceed to affirm the status of Team Sundown Riders, Gensai. The hidden side."
"Please do, Ito. Of humans."
Ending the video call, Ito slotted the tablet into his back pocket after Gensai completed the passcode for «Versteckwelt».
-It's a pity that the Denscrants won this round.
Part 2 (Aincrex Omori Fumiko)
"Omori-sama, we have lost track of Minami Ayase's tablet signal."
"Ara, is that so?"
Upon hearing her bodyguard's report, Omori put down her dining utensils, and reached for her tablet placed on her left.
"There's the possibility that she turned off her tablet signal to conceal her current location. I could go after her if you- "
"No need for that. I have just confirmed Minami-chan's death."
While eyeing at her tablet screen, Omori bit her delicate thumb as she brought her right hand towards her mouth.
-You just sacrificed your own life for nothing, Minami-chan. If only you weren't so stubborn, and bring along some of my slaves instead... I guess it's time that I take matters into my own hand.
"Please bring that 'bow' over to me."
It could be her own imagination, but she swore her bodyguard had just clicked her tongue.
The cloaked bodyguard shuffled to the side of the colorless room. There stood a bow wall rack holding several exquisite bows that had been properly maintained, as seen from their shine.
Taking out a bow with white limbs and turquoise grip, the bodyguard carried it with both hands, and handed it over to Aincrex Omori.
Without uttering a word of thanks, Aincrex Omori pushed her light blonde hair back as she took the bow from her bodyguard.
Adjusting her grip on the bow, Aincrex Omori pulled back the bow string, and closed her eyelids as she mentally imagined an arrow.
-I will let you have a taste of true despair, Iseki Kanae.
At the same time she revealed her turquoise and emerald eyes, her fingers gripped a cerulean arrow that had materialized from her thoughts.
-Go forth, seek your target and devoid it of its time.
Releasing her fingers, the cerulean arrow shot forward as it broke through the dimension of this world, leaving a crack behind.
Part 3 (Iseki Kanae)
Dragging herself out of the warehouse, Iseki Kanae trudged through the abandoned factory district as she supported her injured abdomen.
Apparently, the chaos outside the warehouse had ended around the same time as her battle with Aincrex Minami. But how was Minami Ayase and Sugisata Nariaki?
Spotting the bob-haired girl from a distance, Iseki breathed a relief, but soon became anxious when she saw the brown-layered hair boy lying on the grass.
"Minami-san, how is Nariaki-kun...?"
"Ah, Iseki-san. Sugisata-san's still alive and breathing, but the wounds he had suffered was..."
-Even as I told him to escape the moment he sensed danger, he actually stayed behind to fight...
"Have you called for assistance already? What exactly happened outside here?"
"Yes, I have asked Seusmes-san to help me, and he's currently on his way now. When I arrived here, I saw Sugisata-san fighting with his Aincrex."
Iseki perked up upon hearing that. "His Aincrex you say?! Where is he now?!"
"Don't worry, I have forced him to retreat."
"He was about to kill Sugisata-san when I arrived. I quickly stepped in and we fought."
As Iseki examined Minami, the cuts and shreds around her uniform and limbs became the proof of her effort.
"Unfortunately... I wasn't able to deal the finishing blow."
"There's no need for you to go to such lengths, Minami. All that mattered was that you saved Nariaki-kun's life, and I am grateful to you for doing so."
"I-I don't deserve such praises."
"You do, now that you have gotten stronger yourself."
"I-It's been a while since someone praised me... I feel so embarrassed."
The awkward silence they experienced when they first met now came in between them. However, it dissipated rather quickly this time, as Minami handed a soiled tablet to Iseki.
"Whose tablet is this?"
"I think it belonged to Sugisata-san. I found it lying on the ground nearby."
Iseki heaved a sigh. "Knowing how careless his parallels are, it must be his."
"Erm, Iseki-san? I feel like you are misunderstanding something here..."
"He's just like his parallel, alright."
A vibrating sound then came from Iseki's red skirt pocket.
The name of the caller caused her to raise an eyebrow.
-Kazuki? Don't tell me he has awakened already?
"Yo! What's up, ladies! How did the battle went?!"
As Narita Kazuki greeted them in his usual energetic tone, both Minami Ayase and Iseki Kanae turned away from the tablet and cringed.
"Your voice is too loud, Narita-san..."
"It's hard to believe that you had underwent an operation a few hours ago, Kazuki-kun."
"Nah, a little stab like this can't stop me yo! Ugh!" Judging from the painful expression from knuckling himself, Kazuki doesn't seem to have recover fully yet.
"Don't push yourself too hard, Narita-san."
"It's a pity, yo. If I had participated, the fight would have gone 'Whack Whack Whack; Dodge Dodge Dodge.', and the doppelganger would shout "OW!" because I would've thrown in a boomerang in between yo!"
The ladies weren't amused by that, however. Thus, Kazuki changed the topic and asked about Nariaki's condition.
"But more importantly, how's Nariaki doing?"
"Not too good. Probably due to the amount of blood lost, he's currently unconscious."
"Oh man. Then have you called for help already yo?"
"Yeah. Minami had just asked for Seusmes' assistance."
"Good to hear that yo," said Kazuki. "Crap! The scary nurse from our school's infirmary is coming in! Catch you ladies later!" He ended the video call transmission.
After tugging the tablet into her skirt pocket, Iseki took out a white cube from the other pocket.
"Here you go." Iseki handed over Minami's Aincrex's pyricore.
Minami scrutinized the pyricore. "This pyricore... don't tell me it belongs to my Aincrex's?"
Iseki placed a hand on Minami's shoulder. "I promised that I would give it to you, remember?"
Tears flowed out from Minami's brown eyes. "But you and Sugisata-san risked your life for this. I... How should I ever repay you?"
"Considered it paid for protecting Nariaki-kun's life, I guess."
"Sniff, sniff... You are just too kind of a person, Iseki-san. I will treasure this moment for the rest of my life!" exclaimed Minami. "And if it's fine with you, could you enter my name into your team members list?"
"Aren't you planning to return to your normal life?"
"I am... but if it comes to a situation where you need my help, I would be more than pleased to assist you, Iseki-san!"
"If doing that will sit well with you, then I shall take up your offer."
"Thank you very much, thank you very much!"
"I will drop by your world and visit you when I have the time."
Ensuring that Minami had finally stopped wailing, Iseki let out a big sigh of relief.
They had accomplished the mission, and this saga had reached its conclusion.
It's rare for somebody to thank a monster like her. Perhaps the reason why she had carried out that act of kindness was to redeem herself. Although not much, it should alleviate some of her guilt for killing.
Nevertheless, she had understood and mentally prepared herself when she decided to walk down this path.
That she will not have a good ending to her life.
Just as she thought she had rid herself of despair, it struck her again.
Following the ear-splitting sound of glass cracking, an azure arrow dived from the heavens and pierced Nariaki's skull.
-To Be Continued-
Yo! Good to see that you have made it out alive of this mind-screwing story! This is yours truly, Ryou Arubin, here. Having started this project, Parallel Encounter, back in April 2012, I have finally completed the first installment of this series after two long years!
Before I began on my writing journey, to be honest, I never thought of myself reading a novel, much less writing it. A casual gamer who likes to seek and try out new online games, I randomly search for them through Google, mix and matching different search terms.
And one day, this game title I chanced upon struck me.
«Sword Art Online».
"WOAH! WHAT A COOL TITLE! I MUST SEE HOW IS THE GAMEPLAY LIKE!"
What greeted me was a webpage filled with strings of texts and a small picture.
"That must be the poster image they are using for advertisement! Eye-catching indeed."
Up to this point, I was convinced that this was the main official website for this game.
Until I dragged the scroll bar down.
"Ugh... Novel Illustrations? Volumes? Chapters? Isn't this just a book? What a letdown."
I didn't hesitate to close the webpage, simply because I loathed books.
Back then and even now, imagination wasn't my forte, that much I would admit. Probably because of that, I disliked visualizing things, which is what a novel would force me to do.
I prefer images being fed to me, so that I could sit back and enjoy the show without overstraining my brain, thinking of "how does this guy looks like?" or "how is the attack being executed?". Feel free to label me as spoiled, but a significant number of people of my age/generation prefer to watch shows rather than read books. This may or may not hold true for you, however.
Either way, novels with illustrations? Certainly a fascinating concept for a visual person like me. Considering how striking the images were, I might as well give «Sword Art Online» a shot.
From that moment I stepped into that novel, I never once regretted my decision. The illustrations which served as visual aids certainly assisted in me in imagining the world, but there was something else that truly touched my heart.
How was it possible to paint such an exquisite world, with merely words? How was it possible for the characters to feel so real and alive, with merely words? To sum it all up, it felt like I am actually playing the game myself.
Before I knew it, I was browsing through the whole list of light novels available in that website, trying to find stories of similar genre, trying to re-immerse myself into that unfathomable experience again.
In the midst of reading my second light novel on that website, an idea flashed past my mind.
Hey, why not try your hands on creating a novel? If others can do it, why can't you? If others can bring joy to people through reading their works, why can't you?
And so, I began to work. Towards that goal of producing a creation that has my name on it. Towards that goal of bringing happiness to others. Towards that goal of leaving something memorable behind in this world, so that people could recognize and remember it.
Damn, pardon my bad habit of trailing off to talk about my sentiments. Anyway, how do you feel about Parallel Encounter?
I haven't exactly read much books, but I feel that the parallel worlds theme hasn't been explored too much fiction-wise. Okay, maybe it has been rather overused, considering the recurring theme of "another world residing beside the Earth" you may have read in fantasy books. But that's that.
Probably because I am a realist, I don't excel in coming up with a whole new world from scratch. But since I was rather keen on the parallel worlds theme, I decided to base them on the real world which all of you are familiar with.
Just that theme alone wouldn't make this story unique! I understood that much from reading «Sword Art Online», since it's definitely more than an online death game.
Like an ice cream chef doing an trial and error to discover new flavours of ice cream, I began to mix and match things that I liked, and Parallel Encounter was the end result.
I thank you all who have read and reviewed it. Without your support, I may never have been able to complete it. I truly thank you all from the bottom of my sincere heart.
And a special shout out to a fellow writer, Katsurou Shimizu. If it wasn't for him listening to my rants and urging me on to write, I would have never able to complete this volume as fast as I had hoped to. So if you have the time to spare, do check out his work, Ghost Gunslinger. An epic mixture of supernatural, cracks, and tear-jerking dramas, you can be sure that Ghost Gunslinger will mingle with all of your five senses.
With that, I hoped that you have enjoyed the Parallel Encounter 1: An Impossible Encounter! Hope to see you all during the next instalment!
1 March 2014.