04 Jul 2023

Nino: Answer Nino.

You step back, and begin gathering your thoughts.
Slowly, you construct several potential answers in your mind. It feels like you've made him wait an eternity to hear you speak at all, but at the same time, it is as if your thinking time had lasted mere moments.

You've faced each other for minutes, and simultaneously, eons.
Perhaps time is not at all a factor in this place.

And perhaps, then, it means you can take solace in the possibility that not much of it has passed outside in the waking world, yes? Not that it makes shutting this guy up for good any less urgent, really.

Let's get started, then.

Nino: He's lying when he tells you that you "Only have yourself." Aria seems to think you sacrificed yourself for her, and you just did the same for Mei without thinking.
Indeed, it is not in your nature to be selfish. Would someone like him really develop a healing ability? Fortification seems to be a side effect, not the primary ability.

  • Nino: Not selfish? So that's the angle you want to take...
  • Nino: You happened to help people out once or twice.
  • Nino: And since healing can be seen as a selfless ability, you cannot be selfish.
  • Nino: Still, because fortification exists, and it appears so selfish to you...
  • Nino: That must mean you can't attribute it to yourself under the same logic.
  • Nino: Instead, you'll stick it to a villainous other,
  • Nino: And say that he does not reflect you in the slightest.
  • Nino: Do I have it right?
  • Nino: I don't like the way you worded that, but...

  • Nino: God. You must be joking right now. Don't talk as if you haven't acted in line with the existence of fortification anyway.
  • Nino: Huh? No, it's true!
  • Nino: I never knew this effect of my ability existed, so you can't just-
  • Nino: Yeah, yeah, okay. Of course you'll say that.
  • Nino: Why don't I remind you thoroughly, then?
  • Nino: No, actually... if I say it like that, it'll just be confusing,
  • Nino: Since this is not something only 'I' can do.

Nino: Call forth a witness.

  • Nino: It's always been possible to reflect on what your mind retains,
  • Nino: But only if you wanted to, of course.
  • Nino: Case in point... let's jog it up by conjuring something that resides in it.

  • Aria: ...Nino.
  • Aria: It was just earlier today.
  • Aria: Just hours ago.
  • Aria: It's not... "too long ago".
  • Aria: There's no way that you'd forget too quickly.
Whoa! W-why is she here?
No, wait, this is familiar...

You've heard her say this exact thing before.

Yeah, no, Aria isn't really "here".

This is definitely a memory from yesterday, on Kaji's ship.
Aria had talked about the time she spent with you in the monster world, however, you couldn't remember her at all.

Still, she desperately tried to remind you of herself, and more importantly...

...Of what you did for her sake.

Yeah, it's one of the facts you've used as basis for your answer!
You couldn't believe what Aria was saying at first, but as your conversation progressed, she managed to convince you.

  • Aria: At the last possible moment...
  • Aria: You saved me from that winged's dangerous attack.
  • Aria: But you, you... you did it by taking my place instead.
  • Aria: You threw yourself into what I thought was certain death...
  • Aria: And I know that you don't remember it, but...
  • Aria: Really, I thought you were gone forever.
  • Aria: I can't express how glad I was to see you unscathed again!
Slowly, you came to terms with the fact that your memory's even faultier than you originally thought. Really, who could forget the existence of an entire person!?

Especially when... it's a person you had almost sacrificed yourself for.

  • Nino: Such wonderful, daring actions.
  • Nino: You surely looked like a selfless hero to any witness.
  • Nino: Actually, to Aria herself...
  • Nino: That's probably how she's come to think of you, ever since that incident.
  • Nino: ...Though not as a hero without any imperfections, probably.

  • Nino: But that's just an outside observer's opinion.
  • Nino: You, however...
  • Nino: You do not deem yourself a hero, despite accepting all this.
What's this guy saying now?
Even if you don't remember it yourself, it is an undeniable fact that you selflessly protected Aria and saved her life in the past!

Therefore, you and he can't be the same, even if...

  • Lacia: ...You are an aspiring hero, are you not?
  • Nino: I don't know where the "heroic" part you're talking about is.

...This is... you, before you left Icicle Bay.
That's when the mermaid lady suddenly approached you and your group.

She said a lot of things about Lady Oshen, and then...

  • Nino: I did what felt right, that's all.
  • Nino: See? There's nothing heroic about me.

  • Nino: Lacia sure was talkative,
  • Nino: But never mind all her irrelevant stories of Oshen or whatever.
  • Nino: What's important is that she insisted on calling you a hero,
  • Nino: And you very clearly denied it at the time.
  • Nino: Right now, if you ask yourself the same thing, would your response change?
  • Nino: Really... are you such a selfless hero?

  • Nino: ...
  • Nino: Yeah, no. I am definitely not anyone's hero.
  • Nino: Our response to that question is the same, because we are the same.
  • Nino: But there's still something to address, right?
  • Nino: The contradiction you've been holding onto.
  • Nino: "If I am not a hero,"
  • Nino: "Then how could I so selflessly throw myself into life-threatening danger?"
  • Nino: "If I won't say I'm the kind of person who can face his own death..."
  • Nino: "Then how is it that I could act like I was one, anyway?"
  • Nino: But you don't even need to ask this when you already know the answer!
  • Nino: It's very simple.

  • Nino: It's because you have never faced your own death just yet.
  • Nino: Yeah, you knew that you would survive.
  • Nino: You've always known, subconsciously, that fortification would save you...
  • Nino: As long as you didn't go too far.
...It seems that wasn't such a good answer.
Even though you were confident at first, he managed to shoot you down. And uncomfortably so. What he said checks out, at least as far as you remember.

Thus far, never once have you truly thought you were going to die. You might have appeared brave as you acted on your instincts, but perhaps that was only because you also instinctively knew that you could save yourself.

But in a truly life-threatening situation, one you might not be able to fully recover from, would you choose to sacrifice yourself for another person's sake?

Thinking about it, you can't say yes right away.
You already don't feel satisfied with how incomplete you are. So, how could you even think of sacrificing yourself before having recovered any memories? You shudder at the thought of dying not knowing anything about who you are.

Yet still, you also can't say no for sure.
If, perhaps, you had someone whose life was more important to you than your own, maybe seeing them in danger could drastically change things, no? Yeah, actually, isn't that what exceptionally close people would do for each other in such a situation?

Yes, isn't it natural to want to protect the one you love?

Parents whose happiness is secondary to their children's, soldiers who die defending their family's homeland, siblings content with giving up their future for one other, or lovers torn asunder as one sacrifices themselves for the other's sake...

Anyone could commit an act of self sacrifice born out of love - whether it's familial, platonic, romantic, or something else, the scene certainly unfolds everywhere.

But you don't have any relations like those, really...

So in the end, you simply don't know how you'd act for sure.
And you have a feeling you won't ever know, unless you actually find yourself in a situation that calls for this kind of decision.

But that'd be bad. You don't want to go too soon, at least not before getting some closure on yourself and your memories. Ugh, if you're thinking like this, then... it's difficult to continue arguing using your original point here.

...No, no focus! You can't let him have the upper hand!

Nino: You've already contradicted yourself in your points. If you only know what I know, then how come you knew that "I only have myself"? How did you know about Fortifications' potential? For someone who "only knows what I know", you sure are giving me a lot of new information.

  • Nino: Ah, haven't I just shown you that you knew about fortification all along?
  • Nino: Actually, you'd better think of it as a realization you had on your own.
  • Nino: After enough denial, some facts just have to be forcefully confronted.
  • Nino: But well, at the very least...
  • Nino: It's good that you were aware enough to not proclaim yourself a hero to the others so far, yeah? Boy would that have been embarrassing!
  • Nino: Anyway. Let's get to it.

  • Nino: First of all.
  • Nino: Do you recall what you've thought while crossing the barrier?
  • Nino: When you realized Mei let go of your hand, you said...
  • Nino: "How dare she".
  • Nino: Not so selfless, are we.

  • Nino: Mei...!
  • Nino: You know it well, just as I do.
  • Nino: People's trust is limited, and rather fickle.
  • Nino: Their presence in my life is never guaranteed to last.
  • Nino: Yeah, I've always known it. Just like that...
  • Nino: Even if I reach out, they might waver, and let go at any moment.

  • Meimona: I can't go on, I...
  • Meimona: S-sorry.

  • Nino: That's why you can never give your whole self to someone else,
  • Nino: Nor expect them to do the same for you.
  • Nino: After all, whenever you do... you're just setting yourself up for a big disappointment when they inevitably let you go.

  • Meimona: Hey, hey...
  • Meimona: It means a lot when someone believes in me.
  • Meimona: Plus, this is the first time I made a human friend.
  • Meimona: So, I sincerely do mean that thanks.

  • Nino: Yes, remember... Meimona had once called you a friend.
  • Nino: But have you thought about why you couldn't say the same for her?
  • Nino: Later on, you expected her to leave you right away when Icicle Bay's situation was resolved. Have you wondered why that was your first expectation?
  • Nino: ...
  • Nino: Come on. You're practically forcing me to echo your thoughts back at you.
  • Nino: Whenever you think about the people you're with...
  • Nino: You feel such hesitation and frustration.
  • Nino: Those feelings prove that this thought is completely your own.
  • Nino: Which is...
  • Nino: ...I only have myself?

  • Nino: Yes, yes, very good! So, that's why...
  • Nino: Don't ask me about that motto, nor how I "know about fortification's potential", and act as if you knew nothing of it at all thus far.
  • Nino: You not acknowledging it out loud does not deny that it's been there all along.
  • Nino: Those dangerous situations weren't as threatening to you as they were to everyone else, because, subconsciously, you were already aware that you'd survive.
  • Nino: Your body remembers having the power to save itself!
  • Nino: You've also been following the rule you had set for yourself, all this time...
  • Nino: To remain cautious, so that you'd never be let down by someone else.
  • Nino: This has always been the case.

  • Nino: Since these are things at the bottom of the well that you call your mind...
  • Nino: None of it was new knowledge given to you.
  • Nino: Rather, you've simply... began to neglect them, you know?
  • Nino: Ever since you met those people,
  • Nino: Have you bothered to look deeper inside yourself again?
  • Nino: No, never. Instead, you reoriented yourself to follow them, and even started calling yourself some sort of leader, disregarding how lost you actually are.
  • Nino: Is it really okay to forget yourself in the process?
  • Nino: Maybe you'd have had this realization about your ability much earlier if you chose to focus on yourself, instead of being distracted to this degree.
  • Nino: Regardless, the argument ends here. I have told you nothing new.
  • Nino: It remains the case that I do not know what you don't know...
  • Nino: Because I am you.

Nino: If he knows everything you do, then why did he react with surprise at seeing Five at the end of your last dream? Surely he'd know about her just as much as the rest of your friends, but he didn't.

...Yeah, right. You're not done yet.
These suffocating thoughts won't engulf you now.

It's hard to talk back when he's going off, but you can do this.
You'll just have to take a different angle.

There's more you can say. Just think back to your first meeting...

The way it ended was very odd.

Earlier, he called what he did "conjuring" something from your memories, right? If he can do it, then you should be able to do the same thing.

Focus, and think back to your dream.

At the very end of it...

Five showed up... oooh!
Just like this, yeah!

  • Nino: Agh, right, that little kid...
  • Nino: She showed up out of nowhere, and you, unbelievably, so easily...
  • Nino: Began to care so much for her, just like that?
  • Nino: Of course it's surprising if you'd just stop and think about it for a second!
  • Nino: Oho? You sound desperate there!
  • Nino: Does this mean you can't argue against my point?
  • Nino: Shut up and listen.
  • Nino: It's not just our last meeting.
  • Nino: Everything about her has been weird since the start.
  • Nino: What this kid said about you... about me... was really...

Nino: Recall what Five said about you.

  • Five: Five saw Nino, and there was light.
  • Five: And Nino... healed Five!
  • Five: Then, Nino promised to take Five home!

  • Five: Maybe, even if Nino forgot Five and Aria...
  • Five: Nino still isn't bad.
  • Five: Nino is Nino, even if Nino forgets.
  • Five: A good person, stay always a good person.
  • Five: So, it's okay!
Ah, it's so heartwarming!
In hindsight, maybe hearing those words affected you kind of profoundly.

At the very least, they certainly were precious enough to linger around as a special memory, one that you hope to never forget.

  • Nino: Ugh, this is what I mean!
  • Nino: I thought I was dead-set on solving my own problems...
  • Nino: But you think I have the time to care about another person's issues, too?
  • Nino: Not even any kind of person, but... a monster.
  • Nino: I'm baffled. At you... at... myself.
  • Nino: Yeah... why did I even think to heal a monster kid?
  • Nino: And after she went on and on about her story...
  • Nino: You promised to help find her home, and scrambled your priorities even more.
  • Nino: And then, just when you were starting to rethink things...
  • Nino: You somehow let her take you out of it again!
  • Nino: Tell me, what's the deal with that!?
  • Nino: Why does her mere existence make me abandon myself this easily?
  • Nino: I don't understand, back then, and even now...
Back then? He must be referring to your previous dream.

Right, he got you to listen to his words so intently until Five showed up. That's when you were able to wake up immediately, despite how strong of a hold he had on you throughout the entire thing.

So that's what he means about Five's existence making you "abandon yourself"?

At the time, recalling Aria and the others didn't help you wake up any sooner, but the memory of Five was able to break through. You don't have an explanation as to why...

What you do know, though, is that this guy absolutely despises it!

  • Nino: I just don't get it, what's so special about helping this kid!?
  • Nino: If it feels guilty to ignore her, then fine, I understand that part,
  • Nino: But, it, it... it doesn't mean that I have to let it take priority over recovering my memories, you absolute idiot!
  • Nino: Hey, slow down!
  • Nino: It's confusing if you mix up the "I" and "You" like that.
  • Nino: Are you blaming me right now, or talking about yourself?
  • Nino: Both of us! It's the same thing, moron!
  • Nino: Nope it's not.
  • Nino: Argh, why don't you get something so goddamn simple!?
  • Nino: Oh wow, did you just totally break down?
  • Nino: You absolutely totally broke down, didn't you?
  • Nino: Be QUIET! It's all your fault for not understanding anything!
Would you look at that!
He's been so full of confidence, barely letting you get a word in, until you brought this up. Remembering Five is consistently the best way to throw him off, huh?

Wow. Even in dreams, she remains a good kid!

Maybe you'll pat her head and thank her for the help the next time you wake up, although she won't have any idea what you're doing that for.

  • Nino: HEY, away with those thoughts!
  • Nino: Argh, that's exactly what I mean...
  • Nino: You, you just... turn into a total idiot around this kid!
  • Nino: It's like how Mei's so anomalous, that I can't predict things with her anymore... seriously, it's annoying!
  • Nino: Yeah, yeah, whatever you say.
  • Nino: So you don't have a rebuttal to this point, I take it.
  • Nino: Rebuttal...? No, I told you.
  • Nino: It's because you so easily let her in like that!
  • Nino: Abandoning myself so quickly just because of some kid, one that I don't even remember helping, is objectively strange and odd and stupid.
  • Nino: It's natural to be surprised!
  • Nino: Hmmmmmm! A rather weak counter argument, if you ask me!
  • Nino: ...Shut up, fucking idiot.
  • Nino: Whoa! Language! You sounded like Reed right there...
Well, truth be told, you also don't know what your reasons were for helping Five. It's a pretty bold decision for a human to go this far in helping out a monster.

You don't have your memories, so it can't be helped...

But as long as this guy doesn't bring that up, then it's fine, right?

  • Nino: Fine. I'll consider this one a point in your favor, or whatever.
  • Nino: However, I stand by my words that my shock was due to not having any reasonable explanation for willingly helping out a monster kid in the first place,
  • Nino: And for letting that continue to take priority over myself.
  • Nino: Admit it, you are confused about the same thing, aren't you?
  • Nino: Uuuuuh... nooo, not at all!
  • Nino: Hah. Don't act like an idiot, you can't lie to me.
  • Nino: But I'll be nice and let it go, how about that?
  • Nino: Just don't forget that I tore down your previous answers perfectly now.
Bah, never mind, he's caught on after all!

Well, you're not done yet - this guy still needs to address another major point from your last dream. While it does make you happy to get one little victory, you're going to have to be careful with how you bring up that next point.

Yes, there was something else that stood out...

It was a rather shocking image that you had no explanation for.

Nino: Ask about the other "Ninos" in your dream.
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11 months ago
Reply to  Nights

Just wanted to say that the comic is really good, i like it a lot, and I am very happy you are making it :)
Congrats on graduating!

11 months ago
Reply to  Nights

I've been here since the good ol' days of mspfa, and i have to say, it has been one hell of a ride! Seeing the art improve over time as well as the story and pacing, along with the constant updates is something truly admirable. From the bottom of my heart, congratulations for graduating and still keeping the comic running! Keep on keeping on \(^_^)/.

11 months ago

Nino: Into the Ninoverse

11 months ago

Nino: So... assuming for a moment you are the same person or halves of the same person or whatever. You're in conflict over the fact that your priorities are changing, your goals, etc. You can't verify your past but it sounds like it was traumatic if it made a part of you this mistrustful and wary that any kind of relationship won't last. But even recent memories can show that new relationships can show up and grow very quickly, so why not cherish them all the more in the moment right now than worry about when they will cease?

At least some of what he said is true. You are very capable. Stronger than even you realized. So it's not that dangerous for you to go off saving people when they get lost or are in danger. You might not be a hero... but you can help the people you want to help. No need to make it any more complicated than that.

11 months ago

Nino: Conjure "Cooler Five" as she phrased it last time she woke you up

11 months ago

how dare this bloody caped bastard swear in front of dream five? #cancelcino

Pun Lord
Pun Lord
11 months ago

(For Later) Nino: Remember how you tried to save Meimona, even though it was a massive risk? That got you here in the first place. And as for how upset you were when Mei fell, remember that Aria assaulted you after you apparently taking a fall for her? Even she did worse than thinking "how dare she", so lighten up!

4 months ago

well obviously the reasonable explanation is that they're a living person no matter which species they are