Can Our Previous Meeting Just Be a Dress Rehearsal?
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"I knew you were here." Herr pushed the door open, the cold evening wind blowing onto her cheeks. The sun had long set, and only the sea of the city's neon lights illuminated Jinzhan's silhouette.

Herr walked forward, not deliberately caring for that slow-spirited woman and going straight for a seat on the concrete ledge next to her. Four legs swung in the air with the wind, at the top of a building, not caring for the traffic 900 meters below. The two didn't really say anything, each enveloped in their own silence; not even a glance at each other was shared, the two simply sitting quietly, leaving the speaking ot the wind.

Jinzhan spoke. "Of course I was here."

"Where the hell am I?" If you were to pull down your blindfold and immediately see that you were at the edge of a 900-meter-tall skyscraper's roof, you would definitely be scared. Jinzhan was just like that. Looking at her surroundings, filled with skyscrapers bathing in the sunlight, she fell backwards into the embrace of the one who had started all of this.

"Here? This is the United Nations Black Monolith Building's roof. Maybe you don't recognize it since you've always been looking at it from below." The woman behind her hugged Jinzhan, a brilliant smile on her face, two fingers playing with Jinzhan's blonde bowl-cut.

"I didn't ask you that! I mean, why the hell did you bring me here?!" Jinzhan raised her head, her bangs brushing against the woman's nose. If you were to sum up Jinzhan's face in three characters, it would be "QAQ".


"I'm asking you!"

"Oh? You're asking me why?" The woman played with her jet black hair and bit her finger between her snow-white teeth. A pair of eyes looked left and right. "It's because you never leave the base… I thought I'd bring you out for some fun."

"She really pushed you off?" Herr's expression was one of uncertainty.

"Yeah! I fell right behind the Russian internet security consultant! I was so embarrassed!"

"I'll need to check the safety records. This kind of wonderful hidden history has to be seen."

"Oh, you little…"

"You're really not gonna try?" Seeing that pair of white wings, glimmering an ethereal blue, Jinzhan feigned ignorance, minding her own business and ignoring the introduction from the employee handbook by turning her focus away.

"Section 4: The United Nations Black Monolith Building is the official United Nations offices and diplomatic conference center in the I.O.S.; as a a symbol of the official representative status of the I.O.S., the Black Monolith Building features a fitting black glass facade. The rectangular shape of the building, combined with its black exterior and 1:4:9 ratio, symbolizes the magnificence of the building, while incorporating elements from classic film culture in order to express our good wishes for the future of humanity…"

"That's enough, you don't really care about that anyway." Jinzhan chose to ignore this voice, though the direction from which the voice came was rather strange. She turned her head up to the sky — the direction from which the voice was coming — and her jaw dropped in shock. Those wings were already on that person's back, beating in the wind above. Under the white feathers of spanning over five meters each, there was an ethereal light blue glow that seemed rather dull against the daylight. But that effect of feathers falling like snowflakes made it almost look like a crystal.

Floating in the center, under the pure, holy light, an angel extended the most beautiful smile.

That angel's left leg bent slightly, and the tip of her right foot lightly touched the edge of the concrete ledge next to Jinzhan. Her whole body turned at a 45º angle backward, only relying on her wings to avoid falling back. Her left hand reached out for the stunned Jinzhan, her five pure white fingers unfolding in front of her like a lotus budding, with only the pure fragrance coming towards her.

"Do you really not want to try?"

Jinzhan grabbed onto that hand before her, and experienced "blushing with embarrassment" for the first time.

Under the twilight light, the black building seemed more serene and solemn, instilling a feeling of being in a majestic presence worthy of respect. At times, one would experience clamor, and at times, there would be the static accumulated from life, but seeing such a scene could clear one's mind of all that noise.

Like an albatross flying across the peaceful, obsidian-like surface of the soulless ocean, a pair of wings made its way across the surface of the building. A girl sat on another girl's back, holding in her hand a holographically projected tome, yet not reading it. The girl below her flapped her wings, carefully controlling her speed and inclination. Even though to her this was a familiar task, she still needed to maintain that weight in her life. Their two faces looked to the sunset, appreciating this sunset synchronized to Greenwich Mean Time.

Some people would say this is not a real scene. But in the eyes of others, this could be because of the perspective of "people". To them, this was the world. This world could be monotonous, and it could be chaotic, and it could be dangerous, but it was their world, and to them, it was their reality.

There was no simulated sunset, no product of the International Occult Space. To them, this was simply the sunset.

There was no emotional simulation system. To them, this was true emotion.

And there was no Strike Team-2048 "Simple Sudoku", and no missions. To them, each other's company was enough.

"I know you two usually give people a good kind of yearning."

Jinzhan sighed, the vigor in her eyes slowly dissipating.

"I miss her."

"I will always be by your side, I promise. From now on, when you want to cry, count me as crying with you, alright?" Saying that, she left Jinzhan only the residual warmth on her forehead and lips, and turned to leave. She did not forget this last goodbye.

At the time, Jinzhan's thoughts were in a relative mess. The code-disrupting bullets provided by Maze were not that simple to use, and two of them had hit her in the stomach — AI don't really have that distinction; as long as the attack hits the virtual avatar, it is the same regardless of where it hits.

At the time, the scene had already fallen into full-blown chaos. Since the Foundation came to capture the threat, the situation had truly been a fog. The Foundation AICs were about to finish constructing a barrier, by which point the anomaly would be safely in their pocket. And the Maxwellists seemed to be on the Foundation's side. This level of relation meant that the threat really couldn't be captured; their plot couldn't work — but the strike team was having a hard time doing even that. Maze's network support had also started to come in - after all, Silicon Universe was their base, and they had to take care of this mess.

It seemed like escape had become the best option. Put down the fear of failure and return; nobody would blame them, even Command had given instructions to do so. But she ignored these thoughts, passing out of sight of potential obstructors, holding a Zhou-Koroman Data Overloader on her own. Then she rushed down the hill. She could easily have been stopped, regardless of who, but she was so skillfully elite that she broke through every defense in their path and entered the threat entity's interior.

By the time Jinzhan's thoughts had recovered, everything was nearing its end. The Foundation's barrier was gone, and so was the threat entity. Personnel from all factions had all stepped back to a safe distance. And at what was originally the center of the fighting, a large sphere floated in the air.

That sphere was a vortex of turbulence in the air, in which prisms of lightning flashed. And at the very center of this vortex, her torso had long been crushed, and her right arm had been torn off — that turbulence was actually one of the images manifested by the high-density data, which was mixing, squeezing, expanding, colliding, fusing together.

But she still lifted her head and waved her still-intact left hand. Before the lightning pulsed through her chest, before the light obscured the entire sphere, she remained smiling, gazing at Jinzhan, till the end.

Just as she was born in an instant, she died in an instant. The massive amount of overloaded data converged and collapsed, forming a glowing, radiant wormhole. The entire paranormal threat completely collapsed, turning into simple data, dragged into the abyss across space and time — and the girl with it.

And then the glow faded, as if the threat had not existed to begin with. The ray of light in one girl's heart faded, confirming that the other girl would never again return.


When the tears were no longer pooling, they soaked directly into Jinzhan's face. The tears flowed freely, taking away her sorrow that she no longer had to hide, leaving with the wind, scattering with the gale along the skyscraper's surface and into the night sky. Teardrops, following the black monolith, flew in the sky.

It's true, AIs aren't used to crying. But that doesn't mean they don't cry at all, only that they don't often cry out of their own emotion.

And as such, this weeping, could count for the both of them.

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