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-Ar tonelico Sidestory-

The Queen of the Underworld

Writer: Genki Tomimatsu

Supervisor: Akira Tsuchiya

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"Spica, I've been wondering about something. Why did you want to become the Queen of the Underworld?"
A shocked expression showed up on my face for a split second in reaction to Misha's sudden question.
Maybe it was because she took me by surprise?
I never thought that Misha had such doubts floating around her mind.
I don't know what drove her to it, but she did ask me that question.
"...Why do you ask?"
"Because it's not normal for anyone to want to reach a position like that, you know? So I was wondering what happened that made you want to do that... Or shouldn't I pry into it any further?"
"...Will you keep it a secret from everybody else?"
"Of course. We're friends!"
"Right... Well, I'll tell you just a little about myself"
Well, reminiscing every once in a while isn't bad for anyone, is it?

"If you obey me, you will get anything you could possibly want"
When I was still in kindergarten, we put on a play for the school festival.
A friend played the Demon Queen role in it, and it was then that she told me these words.
I then replied with this line:
"Who would obey someone like you!? Get ready for defeat, Demon Queen!"
Words that would be said with no hesitation had I been a heroic type.
My friend had strong sense of justice, so had she been cast as the hero, I'm completely sure she wouldn't have hesitated in saying them.
But unfortunately, I'm not a heroic person, nor do I hold any admiration for heroes.
As I said that line, I thought that admiring the kind of person the Demon Queen was wouldn't be weird or anything.
So I made up my mind at that point.
That someday I would become a Demon Queen and get everything I could possibly wish.
This incident was what drove me to start working to become the Queen of the Underworld.

"..."
"Ah, did something happen, Misha? Why are you just standing there with your mouth agape?"
"No, it's.... It's nothing"
"...Such a strange child you are. But well, it doesn't matter"

But no matter how much I said I wanted to become a Demon Queen, it wouldn't be an easy path.
The gist of it is that no ideas about what I should do to become a Demon Queen came to my small child's mind.
What do you think such a small child could have done at the time?
The only answer was playing making-believe as what I wanted to be.
So given I have always had a greater dynamism than other people, I thought up a Demon Queen make-believe game.
It was a simple game in which I just acted as a Demon Queen.
But the Demon Queen was of course the central role in it.
So it would be played in one of two possible ways: I either defeated the child that was cast as the hero, or I had them become my underling in exchange for receiving something they wanted from my hands.
As children have such simplistic thoughts, none among them ever had the idea of defeating the Demon Queen to obtain what they wanted.
It was just a game, yet I couldn't help but enjoy it immensely.
Saying "I shall give anything you want"
felt so irresistibly good, I couldn't just
contain myself...
Well, none among the other kids ever understood what was so fun about it, so after
three days of playing it, my friend
came and said,
"Spica, that's scary!"
But even though that was enough for us to stop playing the game, it didn't weaken my admiration for the
Demon Queen at all.
So I said, "The Demon Queen is amazing, she has everything anyone could want! I love the Demon
Queen!"
"....Hmmm, hmmm"
That was the worried-sounding reply my friend gave back.
You might already know what happened without me saying it, but not even a week went by
before I had no friends in kindergarten.
While I was child, I learned back then that my admiration for the Demon Queen
was something I should keep hidden.
Normal people fear the Demon Queens, and they also regard those who admire them
in the same way.

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As a child, I didn't have enough mental fortitude to be able to withstand loneliness,
so while I never gave up on my admiration, nor did I get rid of it, I ultimately decided
to hide it away.
That was the first lesson I needed to become a Demon Queen.
Thanks to that, I continued worrying about what I should do to become a Demon Queen
while keeping my admiration hidden from everybody else.
Of course, I couldn't just talk about this openly with anyone, so the only choice I had
was to search for the answer on my own.
And so, me and my friends soon got to the age when we would have to think about our futures
in a pragmatic way.

"..."
"Oh? Is something the matter, Misha? Why are you rubbing your forehead?"
"No, it's just... How should I put it...? You were a very calculating kid,
you know...?"
"You think so? Regardless of what you might think, neighbors used to call me
good-two-shoes Spica"
"...O-Okay, got it. And then? From the way you're talking, it feels like you're
about to tell me about how you started being a buyer"
"Correct. But you know, it was actually more of a coincidence"

When I left childhood behind, the first think that came to mind was the Demon Queen title.
I noticed it once I took a good at myself on a mirror, but I'm actually pretty nice-looking, don't you think?
Due to it, I got the feeling that calling myself a Demon Queen wouldn't fit my looks, not to mention it would
bring my reputation down.
That was what made me change from wanting to become a Demon Queen to just becoming
a Queen.
However, what awaited those who left childhood behind was only manual work. In other words,
a job.
I started working with my friend here in Firefly Alley, and we sold items. It was the same job
you see me doing now: selling Kitty Candy.
But even this job had the particularity of being fairly
difficult when all was said and done.
The reason for it is that most customers are children.
Dealing with children is quite tiring, which coupled with having to stand all day long
makes it natural for anyone to end exhausted at the day's end.
As days were so busy for me now, naturally I had no free time I could use
to continue searching for ways to become a Demon Queen.
But being a seller with my friend was pretty fun.
Especially that time... When we first sold all our candies.
"We sold out everything today, Spica!"
"Yeah!"
"But there also was one kid who cried because he couldn't buy any. I felt so
bad for him"
"Well, then let's make and bring many more with us tomorrow! That way we won't
end up sold out!"
"Yeah, you're right. Okay, let's go home quickly to get ready for tomorrow!"
We might have been too happy because we managed to sell out all our stock.
We spent that whole night together in a daze, making candies, and before I realized it
morning had come.
My friend worked so hard that sleep deprivation knocked her out cold, so I went out to sell
candies on my own that day.
"Maybe I should go sell at the Airport today. There's lots of people there"
While my reason for this was that dealing with children on my own was hard enough,
I would still have to directly deal with both children and adults, so I would still
get exhausted all the same.
You know, I started feeling by this point that because I had no time to dedicate to it,
I would be better off giving up on my dream.
"*huff-puff* *huff* ...Hey, miss! Could we talk a second?"
It was a dream that I had to always keep hidden in my chest, not being able to be frank
about it with anyone for who knows how many years.
"Hey, miss! Are you listening!?"
But as it was so important, I couldn't just
get rid of as if it were nothing.
"Hey, miss! Please don't ignore me!"
I'll just give up. Yeah, I'll give up on it now.
"Please, I beg you!"
"Shut up! What is it with you now!? Don't you know you shouldn't bother
people while they're in a sentimental daze!?
Then I realized that I was screaming at a man that was dirty all over,
who was standing in front of me as he panted and gasped.
...While I didn't say it aloud, he was clearly suspicious.
Naturally, I backed away from him.
"...W-What do you want?"
"Ah, you're misunderstanding! I-It's not what you think! I just..." But before he could finish, we heard footsteps of people running in our
direction.

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"Damn, these stupid guards're pretty fast... Hey, could ya please tell me about any back alleys or the like that're hard to see and difficult to enter?"
His appearance alone was really suspicious on its own.
Maybe he was a thief, or something even worse?
Anyway, I didn't want to be involved with that sort of person.
At that moment, I was quite in a state of grief even though
that didn't show on my face.
I just shouted at him because he was being annoying, and that also
was why I pointed at a narrow alleyway that was right behind me.
"Gotcha! Thanks!
The next instant, he pushed several bills into the basket I used to carry the candies as thanks.
The amount of money was far greater than what I could make selling candies for a whole day. I was
rendered speechless from the surprise.
"This is so you keep quiet about this! Thanks!"
I never knew again about the man that ran away in panic
that day.
But the dream I was ready to give up on instantly started shining
once again thanks to this incident.
"...I can... I still can do it!"
I realized that information is highly valued in this world,
and then, the rest came by itself.
People that come to buy information never do so in a direct way.
In addition, if I could make acquaintances or establish friendship with those people,
I would undoubtedly gain powerful connections for myself.
And so, in order to attain the chance to become acquaintances with those people, I decided, "The Underworld... Yes, the Underworld it is!"
I should slowly take over the entirety of the world from the shadows of that place
that most people know nothing about!
"To think such an unexpected twist would come just when I had already given up..."
This wasn't a mere coincidence.
It is the proof that it was inevitable, that it was destiny for me
to become the Queen of the Underworld.

"And so... Oh? What is it, Misha? Why do you look so troubled?"
"No, it's just... I was thinking that destiny is so complicated..."
"Well, that is just how fickle destiny is. After all, it is destiny at best
what decides such things"
"At best, huh...? O-Okay then... So what did you do
afterwards?"
"Ah, right. I started working as a buyer in secret from my friend,
but she ultimately caught me as I was selling information...
Then I told her that I would become the Queen of the Underworld"

"...What do you mean?"
Her face was now showing a shocked expression.
While she was initially angry when she caught me receiving an enormous payment
for the information I had sold, she was shocked when I told her what I intended to become.
...I knew it, it looks like my drive for getting things done is far stronger than that of normal people.
"Just like I said. I will become the Queen of the Underworld, and for that, I must amass as much power
as possible: connections, assets, and a strong information network. Do you understand?"
...But the next things she said shocked me quite a bit.
"Please Spica, just let these dangerous dreams and work go! We can just continue selling
candies together starting tomorrow! I'm sure a normal life like this one would
suit you well!"
"It's not about whether it fits me or not! That sort of life can never satisfy me!"
"Satisfy you? Are you actually planning to control the world from the shadows just to satisfy
yourself?"
"Oh, I don't care about controlling the world. I just want to become the sort of person who
can obtain anything they want in an instant. And the easiest and quickest way to do that would
be to make the world mine. Isn't it simple?
"These are no dreams at all... These are ambitions!"
...It seemed my friend wouldn't be able to accept my ideas.
But well, she had always been a girl with a sense of justice stronger than that of most people,
so it was natural she couldn't agree with it.
I understood at once that talking any further would be a waste of time, so I turned my back
on her.
"Spica!"
"I'm busy... If you're going to get on my way, we can't continue being friends"
If she was only going to be a burden, I should just cut her away from me.
It didn't matter that she was a close friend... Because becoming the Queen of the Underworld
was what I really wanted to do.

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"...Are you going to get on my way?"
Her answer was obvious.
"...I will"
...You see?
I started hearing the sound of her footsteps behind me.
She was slowly walking away from me.
"I'll do whatever I have to put an end to your ambitions!"
Huh?
Her unexpected answer crashed right into my back, which made
me start asking her back in turn,
"...What do you mean, Mi?"
"Stop it. I'm no friend of the Queen of the Underworld"
Her cold response made me gulp down her name as I started saying it,
and I put on my natural stern face.
"If you're going to try and make the world yours, then I'll make
sure you never get to do that!"
While in my heart I was beyond shocked due to my friend's words being so unexpected, I blurted out:
"...It's impossible! You have no power to stop me!"
"In time, I will surpass you... And once I have grown
stronger than you..."
"You will come and put a complete stop to my ambitions, right?"
"...I'll stop you, no matter what!"
These were the last words I ever heard from the girl who used to be my close friend.
Strangely, I never heard again about where she was or what she
was doing.
The only thing I know is that she is now my enemy.
That she would someday appear before me once again, to destroy the dreams and aspirations
I have treasured for so many years.
The instant I had these thoughts, I could feel a chill running down my spine.
The dread that she might come someday to destroy before my own eyes the dreams I chased,
and the impending urgency that I ought to become stronger as soon as possible to
protect these same dreams.
"...Could she destroy everything I have built up?"
My buyer business had greatly expanded already.
I will become stronger, to win the confrontation we will hold someday
and protect my dreams.

"...So in a simplified way, these are my reasons"
"..."
"Oh? What is it, Misha? Why are you putting on that exhausted face?"
"You know... I've always thought you weren't a normal person, but to hear
you had gone so far..."
I felt like she was saying something really cruel to me, but well,
it isn't like it matters much.
"But there's just one thing I still can't believe, Spica"
"Oh? What would that be?"
"I had never thought you could feel dread or urgency. The Spica
I've always known is the one who always has a calm smile on
her face"
"A woman's past holds many secrets. The same goes for you too, doesn't it? Misha?"
"Ugh... Y-Yeah, you might be right... As for your friend, umm... What was
her name?"
...And in the end, she asked that question.
But she is no friend of the Queen of the Underworld. So if anyone asked
what the name of my friend was, I shouldn't just say that girl's
name.
...But there should be no problem if I say the name of a girl named just like her.
"...Misha"
"Hmm, what?"
...Looks like she didn't notice it.
"...It's nothing. Her name is a secret. After all, that person
is the only weak point I have"
"Got it... But I still can't believe that the invincible Spica has
someone who can go head-to-head with her"
"And yet it's true... It is quite unbecoming for me, who should be
like a Demon Queen who knows no fear"
"But it still makes you quite similar to one, doesn't it? Oh, Your Majesty"
"...Knock it off"
But everyone is sure to have a weak point or things they are afraid of.
It goes for Misha, for myself, and even for that girl who used to be my friend...
Therefore, I keep working even now to make sure that my fears never come
to pass.
I don't care if I get called a buyer or an illegal information broker.
Doing this will lead me to make my dreams true, and at
the same time it will allow me to protect them, so,
"Well then, it's time for me to get back to work"
I have to grow as strong as I can.

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