Little Girl, a Songbird was Distorted by the World
A short story by Kazunari Yonemitsu
Discharging electricity, he drew near.
Sense Spheres - organs that absorb and expel information in order to repair matter that has become distorted.
These usually take the form of spheres, found buried in the ground.
However, the world could not be repaired by these alone.
That is what I have been preaching.
To that end, we altered those who assembled to undertake the mission of repairing our world.
We implanted Sense Spheres into them, their brains damaged.
I call them Sense Sphere Cyborgs.
He is one such entity.
He is currently standing on the top floor of a high-rise building. For it is here that something is emitting a massive distortion.
Massive distortions are difficult to correct. In most cases, it is easier to simply kill the source of the distortion. For this reason, the Sense Sphere Cyborgs are designed with that specific purpose in mind.
The Sense Sphere Cyborg approached, bewildered, electric currents coursing through the many spheres and slender wires that entangled its black body.
It’s a girl.
A strong wind passes over the high-rise, causing the girl’s black hair to flutter.
A small girl who still knows not what she is.
But she can read the mind of the Sense Sphere Cyborg.
How can this be?
Such a small person cannot possess something on the scale of this vast distortion.
Young boys and girls shouldn’t have developed the rigid ego necessary to create distortions of this size.
With their weak sense of self, they can possess naught but the most feeble, fleeting distortions.
I am certain that this is what the Sense Sphere Cyborg is thinking.
The girl’s green eyes seize upon the black humanoid figure.
Rusted and black, the behemoth stands just under 2 meters tall, a multitude of black spheres and slender nerve-like strands coil and entangle the figure, like some kind of deranged Christmas tree.
The sound of discharging electricity reverberates in the air. Storm clouds hang low, as if it will begin raining at any moment.
The sensory organs of the Sense Sphere Cyborg detect small wings on the girl’s back. No, as soon as he notices them, they've vanished.
With a bizarre, creaking KREOUUUGH sound, the Sense Sphere Cyborg leans forward, arms extended. In order to embrace the girl, in order to crush her to death.
Whatever possesses a massive distortion, he destroys it, obliterates it. That is the function he has been given, the reason for his existence.
The girl’s delicate body curves strangely.
Warm. She’s emitting a faint heat.
The girl’s hands feel hot.
His thoughts flow through her.
I’m a songbird. I’m imprisoned in this horrid birdcage we call a world, but one day this songbird will escape from the world and fly away.
I am certain that the Sense Sphere Cyborg feels the girl’s body slowly twisting and breaking.
Die and disappear distortion, return to nothingness. These thoughts of his flow into the twisting girl.
Her eyes spasm wildly, spine arching. The small bulge of her chest exhales one final breath.
Was that the sound of delicate bones snapping? No. It was the sound of a ball falling from the girl’s hands and striking the floor. An artificial Sense Sphere.
An agonized sob escapes the girl’s tiny lips.
A thin thread of saliva glitters on her open lips.
The Sense Sphere Cyborg redoubles his efforts. The final thought that flows through her is ‘die’.
The girl cranes her neck. She cranes her neck until her face enters the Sense Sphere Cyborg’s field of view.
Her smile seems to permeate him.
A ray of light shines from a gap in the storm clouds. A sound cuts through the wind.
The girl’s back births enormous white wings. Wind kicks up as the wings wrap around the Sense Sphere Cyborg. A multitude of feathers scatter, dancing like snow.
The Sense Sphere Cyborg screams in agony.
The sound of something seething and boiling can be heard.
His legs fall out from under him. Bones like iron beams rip through his flesh, twisting, blooming outward. The girl’s body straightens upright with a graceful movement resembling that of a flexible ballerina. The Sense Sphere Cyborg slowly distorts within the girl’s wings.
Ribs extending outward, flesh distorting and sloughing away.
Internal organs evaporate, ascending to the heavens as if pleading for forgiveness.
Flesh and blood, no longer necessary.
The girl’s frail chest begins to rise and fall, a little painfully.
The wind creates a swirling vortex, like an ominous spell cast in logarithmic spirals.
Sweat flows. Wrapped up in the girl, the black figure languidly transforms.
The cry trails off.
The once white wings close, now dyed red.
The distortion is complete.
The upper half is humanoid, but inside it is hollow.
Distorted into the form of a birdcage constructed from steel beams, his arms grasp at the air fruitlessly while repeatedly discharging electricity.
Like an animal that has lost sight of the world it must escape from, it feels compelled to struggle even though it knows it’s pointless.
The voice that issues from the girl’s lips is not her own.
”This was the first transformation.”
The girl smiles with satisfaction.
That smile is my smile.
“I christen you World.”
That voice is my voice.
But it is too late for my words to reach World. Inferior Grotesques have no comprehension of concepts such as language.
The image of my sister’s face lying on a dark floor drifts into my mind. Please wait for me, I pray.
On some deeper layer, the face of my friend with dissociative identity disorder drifts into my mind. Please do not betray me, I pray.
Borrowing the girl’s body, I move on to the next stage.
At the time you were converted into a Sense Sphere Cyborg, I feared the distortion.
But that fear within me seems to have been more of a fascination.
You, whose function was to correct distorted delusions, became part of that very distortion.
That voice is my voice.
All for the sake of a new world…
This story was the first in a series entitled "23 Tales to Change the World". It was intended to be a series of 23 stories depicting the origins of each Grotesque, but only four were ever completed. Yonemitsu recently discussed the project on his "Great Heat Wave Radio" series here. As far as I know, the second story (Cocteauhead) was distributed at a Baroque fan event in February, 1999 (possibly in a pamphlet). A third-party doujinshi that included work by several Baroque staff members featured the third story (Hungones) and was sold at this same event. The fourth and final installment (Bulger) allegedly involved a priest and was distributed via email as part of a limited promotion in the early 2000s. They are exceedingly rare, to the point where Yonemitsu himself no longer even remembers writing episodes 2 and 4. I've only managed to obtain #3 but have refrained from uploading my translation of it, both because publicly posting doujinshi contents on the internet is extremely taboo and because Yonemitsu says he hopes to re-publish this story in the future.
The first edition of this story was initially published in “Baroque-san”, the copybook written and illustrated by Baroque’s developers in 1999 and distributed as a reward to fans who created fanworks based on the game. In the following year, the story would be revised slightly and re-released in the “Baroque Report Z” promotional flyer. The story would then be revised yet again in March 2022 as part of Yonemitsu's ongoing "Great Heat Wave Radio" article series. The translation found on my website is of the second edition, which was freely distributed in "Baroque Report Z". I will not be updating my translation to the third edition out of respect for Yonemitsu, who is currently distributing copies of it to his subscribers.
Most of the changes between the first and second editions were inconsequential and involved minor clarifications or corrections (such as defining subjects in vague phrases or the “21 remain…” line being corrected to “22 remain…”). The scene involving the Sense Sphere Cyborg briefly noticing small wings on the girl’s back was a new addition for “Baroque Report Z”. That section originally read: “The Sense Sphere Cyborg approaches the girl. The girl does not move. However, one alteration has larger implications. The Archangel’s line about his friend having “dissociative identity disorder” was originally about (presumably) a different friend with “gender identity disorder”. Yonemitsu has stated that this friend could be any number of characters, but is likely the Guardian Angel (as in the PS1 port she says: "The FLUIDITY of MY gender is a CRUCIAL PART of WHO I am, but PERSONALLY, sometimes I am TEMPTED to deny THAT").
The name of the Sense Sphere Cyborg in Japanese is “人型感覚球”, which translates as “human-shaped/humanoid Sense Sphere”. The “humanoid” prefix also appears in the Japanese term for “android” or “人型ロボット” (lit. “humanoid robot”). “Cyborg” misses the implication that the Archangel sees these tortured beings as merely ambulatory Sense Spheres rather than the human beings they once were - simply a means to an end - but “Humanoid Sense Sphere” sounds a bit awkward in English. It was a tough call, but I ended up choosing “Cyborg” for the sake of flow and clarity.