On instinct, you shut your eyes tightly.
In fact, they are shut so tightly that it kind of hurts. All you can do is put your stock in Mei right now. You don't know if you can convince your stubborn brain to "believe", even if it feels like everything hinges on that.
In the darkness, you hear Mei's voice echo.
Everything will be fine as long as you believe.
A strange pang of nostalgia strikes as those words replay in your head.
Did you ever get told something like that in the past?
No, you're sure you haven't. There's no way, not until you met this girl.
There's nobody as bold as her, who constantly says these odd things like a cliché cartoon hero, yet manages to sound fully genuine at the same time.
You definitely haven't, and yet, it feels so...
- Meimona: Ninooo?
That thought is bright. Too bright to focus on anymore.
In the first place, you're really not the type of person to believe in something so irrational like blind luck.
Surely, betting on that was a bad move.
- Meimona: Nino...
- Meimona: You can open your eyes now, you know.
- Nino: Wuh?
- Nino: O-oh...woah!
- Nino: We made it!!
- Nino: Wow, Mei, you actually did it-
- Nino: OW!
- Nino: Hey, that HURTS!
- Meimona: Sorry!
- Meimona: You were holding on too tight, it was kind of uncomfortable!
- Meimona: Gee, get some manners!
- Meimona: You didn't have to get so scared like a baby.
- Nino: Not my fault you jumped over an abyss of death and wanted me to be just fine with that!
- Nino: But hey, wow, you...
- Nino: You actually made it. I'm surprised.
- Meimona: It's because you believed in me, heheh!
- Nino: Are you... sure I did?
- Nino: I don't feel like it.
- Meimona: Well, yeah!
- Meimona: Because if you didn't, we'd both be icecubes right now.
- Meimona: So, thanks!
...Because making you think you were gonna DIE cancels out a good deed! Yeah!
- 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.
You, a "friend"?
That feels more flattering than it should. Or actually, maybe too overfamiliar? Hopefully this isn't going to be troublesome in the future, since you only kind-of know each other. You never expected that anyone would want your friendship, really.
And, for some reason, you continue to be the one getting thanked.
- Nino: ...You're welcome, I guess.
- Nino: Please don't do the same thing thrice, though.
- Meimona: Hehe! No promises,
- Meimona: That's only if we can survive without it!
Is something up with her or not? For a split second, you think you probably just imagined her weird seriousness, since she's usually so nonchalant about everything.
Your expert analysis currently suspects this to be the case only at first glance. Who would call a friend a valuable asset, after all? Certainly not you.
Either Meimona just doesn’t think too hard about saying things like this, or she's... got some angle here.
Turning on you... you wonder if she's really capable of it. If she wanted to, then she could have left you behind long ago. There were plenty of opportunities and situations for it, so the fact that it hasn't happened must mean something.
Also, considering that she's using this valuable time to play with Boyfriend, innocence seems more believable right now. Meanwhile, you're here secretly trying to pass a morality check on her, not to mention trying to figure out the strange feeling you got when she jumped earlier.
It felt like you'd just woken up from a dream and only retained the idea, not the visuals and details, just the gist of whatever that was. And what it was isn't something that makes sense to you, unfortunately.
Jeez, the two of you are stuck in the same place, but only she can afford to be so relaxed about it. Lucky girl, she's got nothing to worry about like you do.
- Nino: What are we going to do now.
- Meimona: Whatcha mean?
- Nino: WE'RE on a tiny mountainside island.
- Meimona: Oh!
- Meimona: I dunno.
- Nino: W-what do you mean you "dunno"???
- Meimona: Dunno means I dunno!
- Nino: Could you at least pretend to take this a little bit more seriously.
- Meimona: I am, though? I'm being serious when I say I dunno!
- Meimona: I just looked for a way off, and this was it.
- Meimona: Now you come up with the next step!
- Nino: Dang it, it's not that easy, Mei!
- Nino: When did it turn into this kind of arrangement?
- Meimona: Since now, I just decided it. :]
- Meimona: So, baton pass! Let's hear those ideas!
- Nino: Urgh.
- Nino: Well, we need to not be in line of sight of the patrol's ship.
- Nino: Going behind this mountain should suffice.
- Nino: I guess then we could climb up the mountain, and maybe...
- Nino: Get a good view of the area, then try to find a better next destination.
- Meimona: ...So, it IS that easy after all, huh?
- Meimona: :]
- Nino: :|
- Nino: It's really not.
- Meimona: Hmm, you make it look like it is.
- Meimona: One little push and you’re generating tons of ideas per second!
- Nino: Listen, I don't have even one percent's worth of confidence in what I said.
- Nino: These are shorter than a short-term plan. They’re dwarf-term plans.
- Meimona: Hey, you thought like three whole steps ahead, it'll be fine!
- Nino: I did, didn't I? Unlike a certain someone here.
- Meimona: GASP, are you talking about...
- Meimona: ...
- Meimona: ...BOYFRIEND?
- Boyfriend: Meow.
- Nino: No. Don't insult Boyfriend.
- Nino: If he could speak, his plans would be better thought out than this someone.
- Meimona: Durrr, alright, I get it!
- Meimona: So what? My plans are okay as long as they work!
- Meimona: Think about it! Since meeting you, I've never failed at anything I tried.
- Nino: Sure you didn't, technically... but don't get too cocky now.
- Nino: You think less than half a step ahead before you do anything.
- Meimona: But that's not always soooo bad!
- Meimona: Sometimes just going with the first obvious thing is the best solution!
- Meimona: Don't just sit and grumble about not being prepared forever.
- Nino: You're saying it’s okay to be risky.
- Meimona: Hey, I never said that! I just think that...
- Meimona: Sometimes you gotta stop thinking for so long, and say to yourself, "HEY!!"
- Meimona: "Why am I worrying about such a distant future before I consider dealing with the situation I'm in first?"
- Nino: ...I don't remember asking for a lecture on this.
- Meimona: The future only comes later, and it only comes from actions in the present!
- Meimona: Take the first step TODAY, not tomorrow!
- Nino: Oh, now you're just doing it on purpose.
- Nino: Stop acting like a walking self-help book by stating the obvious.
- Meimona: Hahaha! "Obvious", you say...
- Meimona: Yet, you'd still disagree with what I do if I don't meticulously plan it out first! Who do you think you're fooling? >:]
- Nino: No one.
- Nino: I just don't think I'll ever be comfortable with your riskiness,
- Nino: So we can simply agree to disagree on this.
- Meimona: Fine, take the sour loser way's out, kiddo!
- Nino: ...Sour?
- Nino: Pfffffffft.
- Meimona: What?
- Meimona: You are a sour loser, are you not!
- Nino: Ahahah!
- Nino: Yeah, sure.
- Meimona: Yeah s-so, what's so funny!?
- Meimona: Is...losing somehow funny to you?
- Nino: No, it's nothing, nothing at all.
- Meimona: I don't feel good if you're laughing even though I'm the one who won the argument. >:[
One day she'll say it out loud again and get embarrassed by everyone laughing at her. That's when she'll realize who the loser really was all along.
- Nino: Hey...
- Nino: We're next to the barrier, huh.
- Meimona: Oh, yeah we are.
- Meimona: How did you not notice that earlier!
- Nino: Because you're distracting.
- Meimona: Woah! :o
- Nino: ...I meant that in a bad way.
- Meimona: Woah. :[
- Nino: It's my first time seeing the barrier up close like this.
- Meimona: That you know of!
- Meimona: You must've seen it before if you've crossed it, right?
- Nino: Oh, true.
- Nino: I don't remember it being anything like this, though!
Not that it would do anything, really.
You remember that familiar light you passed through in the cavern of illusions.
There's no such light anywhere in sight here. In fact, the barrier is so dark that it feels like nothing exists beyond it.
Because of that, their existence may be easy to forget, but not for you. The monsters and their world are there, waiting just mere meters away. They've always been there, and always will be, even if everybody wants to turn a blind eye and live in complacent ignorance of them.
Somehow, it feels like you've kept this fact close by for years.
- Meimona: Hiyaaah!
- Meimona: Take that, Nino!
- Nino: Take what?
- Meimona: Take THAT, your second loss of the day!
- Nino: What.
- Meimona: Stop spacing out, and face reality, boy...
- Meimona: The reality is that... I made it here first!
- Meimona: I won the race, you slowpoke!!!
- Nino: Hey, that's unfair!
- Nino: When did this become a race?
- Nino: And when was THIS spot the finishing line?
- Meimona: Sorry, rotten egg, you better learn to deal with being dead-last.
- Meimona: Or are you yet again a so...
- Meimona: Sour...
- Meimona: ...
- Nino: Are you okay?
- Meimona: ...
- Nino: Heh, you can't try to own me when you don’t even know the saying, Mei.
- Meimona: ...
- Nino: ...It's sore, not sour.
- Meimona: ...
- Meimona: Sore...
- Meimona: Sore loser.
- Meimona: Nino. You sore loser. Oh no.
What's she staring all thousand yards at you for?
No, wait. She's not looking at you.
You say, oh no what the hell, and then Meimona shouts oh FUCK.
And before you could ask the important question "Did you just swear", you hear Kaji shout that you're both under arrest, seventy years in prison each, get the FUCK off of his rocky island, bastards.
This is not the best way things could've gone.