(TL: And now for something completely different.)
“Open all the gunports in the rear!! Set aim… HIGEEEH!!”
Surrounded by monitors on all sides, the center of a room about ten meters in all directions. Various gauges and processing terminals lined up, and within that, Ichijou Tarou had collapsed on the floor as if he were in prayer.
“What I told you to open was… the gunports… who told you to… open my rear…”
Behind Tarou, with her hands locked together, and only her index finger pointed out, the figure of an expressionless woman sitting with one knee up. Tarou noticed a movement in the light, and still on all fours, raised his head to look at the monitors.
“Hey, wait, wait, we’ve opened fire. What the hell’s going on? Do space armies, you know? Does higeeh work as a direction? What’s it supposed to mean? Some sort of code?”
Reflected on all the monitors, hundreds, thousands of pale blue threads of light. By laser propulsion, the antimatter travelling the expanse of space at immense speed was induced into annihilation, causing a burst of heat and light. It twinkled as it left destruction in its path.
“Fufu… Ha Ha Ha!! Just look, overwhelming, is it not? My fleet’s efforts shall bring an end to this war!! The scepter of victory is in our hands! There’s no doubt about it!!”
He closed his eyes, and spread both arms up high. His intoxicated face was colored by the smile of victory.
“Yes. But captain, your sphincter is also nearing its end.”
“With the power I hold… hey, shut it! That’s all your fault, ain’t it!? And that one wasn’t clever at all!!”
Tarou was about to swing his hand down to deliver a retort, but he hurriedly stopped himself. He was well aware of his own reckless personality, but he was even more aware of what would become of his hand if he tried hitting the body of the metal cyborg. He didn’t want to experiment on the specifics of that anytime soon.
“Damn, I’m spittin’ in your maintenance oil next I get the chance… what’s more, well, what’s that. I get the feelin’ we’ve come t’ quite a far place. An’ look at me. You really think I c’n return to earth?”
With his hand touched to his hip, Tarou stared straight out at the galaxies of stars before him. The woman with her smooth metal body stood behind him, and gave a short, ‘who knows’.
“Who knows? How light… but so be it. We’re sure to fin’ it eventually…”
Said to expand infinitely, the void of space.
In it existed the countless lights of stars.
And within that vast and dark world,
Ichijou Tarou was lost.
An impact rushing across his face. His body bent backwards. Ichijou Tarou found his face pressed against the ground, as he took on the elegant posture of a shrimp. He faintly thought over what had happened to him.
“Now then… fer a hospital, tha’s quite an atmosphere its got goin’ on.”
Tarou recalled how he had been hospitalized for stomach pain the other day, and he fought against the intense pain and washed-out sensation coming over his body as he began to roll against the hard, metallic floor.
“Urgh, it’s no good. Humanity ain’t ready for that way of movement yet… oh, right, where am I?”
Feeling some nausea, Tarou slowly stood, and turned a circle to take in the vast room that was overflowing with an out-of-place sensation. As far as he could recall, he had at least checked into a very standard hospital, and it didn’t have any rooms full metal from the walls to the ceiling.
“Abducted? Aaah, no. The door’s wide open. Anyone there~?”
Tarou put his hand to his mouth, and called out. The empty room let his room echo quite nicely, but there wasn’t a voice besides his own to respond. He called out twice more in much the same way, but in the end, he gave up, and loitered around the center of the room.
“Hmm, could it be a research lab of sorts? Was my local neighborhood hospital that advanced?”
Wondering why he was talking to himself, Tarou slowly inspected the room’s interior. Surrounded by barren milky-white walls, there was nothing else but a few terminals that gave off a pc-esque vibe. It was truly an unnerving space. The ground was filled with blocks around a meter across in all directions, with some space between each. Perhaps to form a path, a white line had been drawn to avoid those squares. Tarou found some lettering near the line, and casually turned his eyes to it.
“Ye~p, can’t read at a~ll. It’s foreign.”
From the shape, it was something close to the latin alphabet, but Tarou couldn’t make it out at all. After letting out a single, deep sigh, he started off towards the place he wanted to avoid, if possible.
“Yea~h. I presume I fell outta that thing.”
Said Tarou to a lump of metal growing out of the ground. Inside it was a device containing a cavity of human shape. Alongside complex wiring, he saw a number of needle-like protrusions, with faint red traces of red left on them in a shade that would convince anyone it was blood.
“What sort of torture device be this? I don’t have such hobbies… Is that an Endohr Corp Type IV? … wait, what?”
Tarou mused over the words that had come so smoothly out of his mouth, and stopped in his tracks. A company called Endohr Corp- and the other thing- whatever Type IV meant, while it had come from his own mouth, he had absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever.
“The hell? How scary.”
Holding his shaking body, he took a step back. Its trigger was unidentified, but at that moment, a light vibration shook the room. The floor slowly began to move.
“Oh stop right there. You see, I hate these sorts of developments, you know…”
The block units in the floor rose up one after the next. And those dozens of units, differing not from Tarou’s expectations, were fashioned with the same apparatus as the one before his eyes. Tarou gazed over them, as they leisurely float up. But what he didn’t anticipate wasn’t that he found them empty, but that…
“So it’s the skeletons in the closet. No, can’t laugh this one off…”
It was likely the fact, that within all of them was nothing but human bones.
… “COLD SLEEP SYSTEM, THAWING COMPLETE”…
A synthetic sound rung out from somewhere in the room. It caused Tarou’s body to jerk.
“Eh, ah, what? So that’s how it is? Was that the kind of guy I was? With that incurable illness thing?”
… “CONVALESCENCE SURVIVAL RATE: 0.0002374”…
“… Oy, oy, aren’t you failing a bit too much there?”
… “DECEASED: 4211”…
“Four thousand… hey, wait a second there. That’s–”
… “IN PROCESS: NONE”…
“Yes, please wait a right there. See, look. I just want to calculate this out here.”
“… Whoohoo, how lucky~… as if I could rejoice!!? Someone!!? Anyone there!!?”
Distraught by the incomprehensible situation, Tarou found himself most surprised by how calm he was. Even so, his heart was hammering, his legs were shaking, and his body wouldn’t move as he willed it. Collapsing with tangled legs, he began to crawl his way to the exit.
“Hey, doc!! Someone!! Anyone!!?”
As if being chased by something, Tarou made his way out, and found himself racing down a hallway of the same construction as the room. Along the way, he found several things that looked like doors, but be didn’t know how to open them. They didn’t have doorknobs, and he didn’t see anything like sensors on them.
“Oy!! Dammit, is there really no one here? Just where am I… wait, huh?”
At the end of the long corridor. Arriving at a conspicuously larger door, Tarou saw a gap in the middle of its sliding frame. After calling out a few times to whomever may be beyond it, he thrust both his hands into that gap.
“One two, ngggggggggggh!!”
The door that iron-looking door was heavy, and Tarou put his feet against the wall, and pushed with all his might. Along the way, the thought of turning back, and playing with the terminals had come to mind, but if possible, he didn’t want to return there.
“God dammit, move!!”
Still questioning himself over why he was so serious about opening it, he felt some relief as he felt the lump of iron finally start to move.
“Fhah… well then, pardon… me…?”
What Tarou stepped foot in was a room of the same construction. But there was one large point that differed.
On the side opposite the door, there was a giant glass window in place of a wall. In a daze, Tarou staggered towards it, observing his own figure reflected back at him, as he drew closer and closer.
What extended before him was an infinite expanse of stars. That vivid array of lights was something he definitely would never be able to see from earth, and Tarou momentarily forgot his situation as he looked out over it. He had no knowledge of constellations, but he didn’t think such a thing was necessary to take in the twinkling lights, or to find them beautiful.
“Halfway through, I was hoping I was getting punk’d…”
… “MESSAGE REPLAY, STANDARD YEAR 1428 11 05”…
A sudden voice from behind. Tarou turning in surprise, but the room was as empty as ever. The unfamiliar term of standard year sent a shiver down his spine, but with the thought that the message was something like an answering machine, he waited for its continuation.
… “Testing, testing. Regular report. 14281105. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
Unlike the synthetic sounds from before, it was a voice that clearly belonged to a man.
“No, this situation is far, far from ordinary.”
He didn’t even know where the voice was coming from, but Tarou muttered to himself as he headed for the center of the room.
… “Interstellar travel going exceedingly smoothly. No problems with the ship or cargo.” …
“No, I’m telling you this ain’t smooth. Especially the cargo part… and wait, for reals? This is a spaceship? Uuum, just how many years have I been out? This is the future, dude; the future. Did they develop the car-shaped robot yet?”
… “Henceforth, all crew members will enter a cold sleep. The next report will be in five years’ time.”…
“Yes, yes. Nighty night… OOOOOOOYY!!!!”
… “That is all. Ulster Wayne, tuning out.” …
“W-wait a second. Eh, what? What did he just say? All the crew? Could it possibly be that he just said all crew members?”
Tarou panicked some as he paced back and forth in the room. Naturally, there was no response.
“All the crew in… cold sleep? No, no, no. I mean, doesn’t that mean…”
Tarou continued muttering to himself, but even the words coming out his mouth didn’t reach his own ears. He didn’t know what he was saying. Because in his head, the first words he had heard from the synthetic voice were echoing in his head.
… “SURVIVORS: 1. SURVIVORS: 1.”…