He looks up at the sound of an agile yet graceful movement, but only sees the spread of branches from various trees bloc…

5 . Dreams and Reality

Ikaruga hunts monsters within a forest dungeon the next day .   His leisure pace suggests that the previous day’s events were nothing more than a dream .

杭州桑拿

He looks up at the sound of an agile yet graceful movement, but only sees the spread of branches from various trees blocking out the sky . He releases a small sigh and somehow vanishes from the sea of trees for another [conversation] .

Mac Anu

Soon after Ikaruga reaches his spot on the bridge, Divine arrives . She says, “Has anything changed since then?”

“Not really . ” He then looks towards Divine as he adds, “Ah… there is one . ”

Divine presses him with her gaze . “Really, what?”

Ikaruga returns her stare with look of helplessness . “You started pestering me more . ”

“I’m worried (`ヘ´)”

Ikaruga’s tone is more him pouting than being angry . “Cat’s fall when they worry too much . ”

A moment of silence passes before Divine says, “Hey, is it alright if I ask you about something a bit painful?”

“What? Why are you being so polite…?”

“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to . ”

Ikaruga finds himself only able to nod in response to Divine’s sudden seriousness .

Divine says, “After logging out… In other words, your real memories . Do you have any besides those from The World?”

Ikaruga squeezes out the word, “…No . ” He then says, “Like I thought, something is… wrong with me . ”

Divine wipes away Ikaruga’s anxiety, “That’s… not true,” but she herself isn’t in a position to do so . “… I have to apologize, for us at the C . C . Corporation . ”

“You’re, an administrator?”

So he didn’t realize it during my exchange with Haseo . Back then, Divine admitted to being a former employee . “Well, I’m something like one . ” She then lowers her head as she adds, “There’s still a lot that isn’t understood, but we are exploring various methods in order to help you . ”

Ikaruga says, “I don’t know when it happened, but one day the distinction between the Real and The World became blurred . ”

Divine lifts her head upon feeling the resolution backing Ikaruga’s voice . Him speaking his thoughts is rare .

Ikaruga continues, “Back then, I could still log out . I’m positive that was the Real . ” His gaze shifts downward as he tries to reel in the distant memories . “…But then, bit by bit, the Real started to fade . I’ve been here, in The World, ever since . ”

“Do you remember anything about the Real?”

Ikaruga unclenches his right hand and stares at his palm . “…Right now, The World is the Real for me . ” He thought it was strange at first . I was in cyberspace, yet I felt pain while on the net . I became able to feel the breeze blowing through my hair and the freshness of water . My five senses, my very nerves themselves, have been converted into data . There’s got to be an explanation, but what?

Ikaruga lets out a, “…ha”

“Hm?”

He clenches his fist as he says, “I… am Ikaruga . There is nothing more than that . I no longer know whether The World is reality or fantasy . ” He gaze falls upon the sunset as he gives up on that trail of thought . He mocks himself by saying, “I sometimes think… that this is just a dream . That the real me is just sleeping . ”

The thought,There’s nothing I can do about myself who won’t wake up, makes him miserable .

Divine lowers her head and says, “…I’m sorry . ”

“This doesn’t have anything to do with you . Even if you apologize… nothing will change . ”

Regardless, Divine doesn’t lift her head . Ikaruga sighs and lifts her up . The unexpected act of being brought up to his face makes her stiffen . He looks straight into her eyes and says, “What am I supposed to do if you get depressed? Comforting others isn’t one of my strong points…”

He then speaks a command, but the tone is surprisingly gentle . “That’s why, you don’t have the privilege of getting depressed… Got it?”

Divine gives a resolute nod as she laughs .

Ikaruga and Divine have spent a long time together, but they exist on different time axes . His loneliness will not disappear regardless of how much they talk with each other .

I don’t know if this is a dream or reality, but I’m certain of that feeling .

T/N: I like how short the . hack chapters are . I wouldn’t have been able to finish this one in time if they weren’t . On the flip side, it will take a bit longer for us to see how this story unfolds, but that can also be seen as, we get to enjoy the story longer . Now, some of you may notice a space between the dialogues, that’s intentional . It’s to symbolize a change in the current lead character . Hopefully, Cute Star will also get her own passage to lead . By the way, does Ikaruga remind anyone else of Tsukasa’s situation hack//sign??

-Gandire Alea

5 . Dreams andReality

Ikaruga hunts monsters within a forest dungeon the next day . His leisure pace suggests that the previous day’s events were nothing more than a dream

He looks up at the sound of an agile yet graceful movement, but only sees the spread of branches from various trees blocking out the sky . He releases a small sigh and somehow vanishes from the sea of trees for another [conversation]

Mac Anu.

Soon after Ikaruga reaches his spot on the bridge, Divine arrives . She says, “Has anything changed since then?”.

“Not really . ” He then looks towards Divine as he adds, “Ah… there is one . ”.

Divine presses him with her gaze . “Really, what?”.

Ikaruga returns her stare with look of helplessness . “You started pestering me more . ”.

“I’m worried (`ヘ´)”.

Ikaruga’s tone is more him pouting than being angry . “Cat’s fall when they worry too much . ”.

A moment of silence passes before Divine says, “Hey, is it alright if I ask you about something a bit painful?”.

“What? Why are you being so polite…?”.

“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to . ”.

Ikaruga finds himself only able to nod in response to Divine’s sudden seriousness

Divine says, “After logging out… In other words, your real memories . Do you have any besides those from The World?”.

Ikaruga squeezes out the word, “…No . ” He then says, “Like I thought, something is… wrong with me . ”.

Divine wipes away Ikaruga’s anxiety, “That’s… not true,” but she herself isn’t in a position to do so . “… I have to apologize, for us at the C . C . Corporation . ”.

“You’re, an administrator?”.

So he didn’t realize it during my exchange with Haseo . Back then, Divine admitted to being a former employee . “Well, I’m something like one . ” She then lowers her head as she adds, “There’s still a lot that isn’t understood, but we are exploring various methods in order to help you . ”.

Ikaruga says, “I don’t know when it happened, but one day the distinction between the Real and The World became blurred . ”.

Divine lifts her head upon feeling the resolution backing Ikaruga’s voice . Him speaking his thoughts is rare

Ikaruga continues, “Back then, I could still log out . I’m positive that was the Real . ” His gaze shifts downward as he tries to reel in the distant memories . “…But then, bit by bit, the Real started to fade . I’ve been here, in The World, ever since . ”.

“Do you remember anything about the Real?”.

Ikaruga unclenches his right hand and stares at his palm . “…Right now, The World is the Real for me . ” He thought it was strange at first . I was in cyberspace, yet I felt pain while on the net . I became able to feel the breeze blowing through my hair and the freshness of water . My five senses, my very nerves themselves, have been converted into data . There’s got to be an explanation, but what?.

Ikaruga lets out a, “…ha”.

“Hm?”.

He clenches his fist as he says, “I… am Ikaruga . There is nothing more than that . I no longer know whether The World is reality or fantasy . ” He gaze falls upon the sunset as he gives up on that trail of thought . He mocks himself by saying, “I sometimes think… that this is just a dream . That the real me is just sleeping . ”.

The thought,There’s nothing I can do about myself who won’t wake up, makes him miserable

Divine lowers her head and says, “…I’m sorry . ”.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with you . Even if you apologize… nothing will change . ”.

Regardless, Divine doesn’t lift her head . Ikaruga sighs and lifts her up . The unexpected act of being brought up to his face makes her stiffen . He looks straight into her eyes and says, “What am I supposed to do if you get depressed? Comforting others isn’t one of my strong points…”.

He then speaks a command, but the tone is surprisingly gentle . “That’s why, you don’t have the privilege of getting depressed… Got it?”.

Divine gives a resolute nod as she laughs

Ikaruga and Divine have spent a long time together, but they exist on different time axes . His loneliness will not disappear regardless of how much they talk with each other

I don’t know if this is a dream or reality, but I’m certain of that feeling

T/N: I like how short the . hack chapters are . I wouldn’t have been able to finish this one in time if they weren’t . On the flip side, it will take a bit longer for us to see how this story unfolds, but that can also be seen as, we get to enjoy the story longer . Now, some of you may notice a space between the dialogues, that’s intentional . It’s to symbolize a change in the current lead character . Hopefully, Cute Star will also get her own passage to lead . By the way, does Ikaruga remind anyone else of Tsukasa’s situation hack//sign??.

-Gandire Alea.