The Mecha Monogatari, “Praeludium”
Posted by Doug on October 11, 2008
The experience was so far outside of the boy’s ken that he could do little more than marvel at it. It was as if the drab gray walls of the testing facility had just faded away, then the ceiling and floors, then the examiner and his aide, then the chair the boy was seated in, and finally it seemed as if he himself had faded into nothingness.
What remained he could not describe. He saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing, smelled nothing, tasted nothing. Nevertheless, there were…things in the nothingness, things that the boy had no words to name. He could not sense them, but he knew they were there. A great many vague and indistinct thoughts drifted through his mind, but he could not understand them.
More than anything he was aware of a Presence in the nothingness with him, and the boy knew that this Presence was aware of him. It was alive, but it was not. It was powerful, but it depended upon others for its power. It was everywhere, but it was in a certain place, high above.
It was watching him.
The boy was amazed that this sensation did not terrify him, even though all this seemed more real than reality was, as if his whole life up to this point had been just a dream, and when the examiner had turned on the device, it had rudely awoken him. Except now, it seemed as if he was once again growing weary, in dire need of sleep.
Maybe he would dream that dream again, where he was just a fourteen-year-old boy living in an orphanage, existing from day to day with no past and no future and no way to change this. He hoped not. He belonged here, in the Realm of the Presence.
This was where his past was.
This was where his future was.
This was his chance to change everything.
But for now, he would sleep…
It was rare for a youth to synchronize so deeply with the testing facility’s systems that he was unable to be roused. It was difficult for someone to stay synchronized on their first try. Usually the youths could simply be told to disconnect, and they would; sometimes a gentle shake on the shoulder would suffice. But on this particular day in late April 2016, one boy who had been brought in from an orphanage in Setagaya synchronized so completely he had to be injected with a mix of sedatives and synchronicity inhibitors in order to force him to disconnect.
The fact that he could not willingly disconnect was irrelevant—a little experience would solve that problem. The only thing that was important was that he was one of the rare few who could connect to begin with. This ability meant that he would soon be conscripted into the Self-Defense Force and trained to pilot a titan. This ability meant that within a year, he would be a soldier, fighting to defend his homeland against the Eschatos.
This ability meant that within a decade, there was over a fifty percent chance he would die either in battle or through suicide.
This ability meant that his normal life was over.
The boy’s name was Seki Akira.