Immortal Children - Chapter 1
That's who I am now, and probably all I will ever be.
Translated by KuroNeko
Edited by KuroNeko
A long time ago. There was a fantasy novel that I read obsessively. I can’t remember what time it was.
One day, without warning, the protagonist of the story wakes up on the shore of a beautiful, crystalline lake. He comes into the world quietly, without anyone knowing. He has no mother and no father. Or perhaps the goddess who created him was his mother. After his geometric adventures, he brought changes to the world and became a hero everyone knows.
The story goes roughly like this.
Why did I remember such a thing now? Was it because the moment of my birth, the awakening of my consciousness, was the same as that of the protagonist of the story?
If I don’t know my mother, I don’t know my father. Well, there is no such thing as God’s acquaintance.
I don’t remember much of what happened before I woke up.
After a long hibernation, I woke up in a cave somewhere like a hungry bear. Strangely enough, I have very little memory of anything before that. I do occasionally recall a memory that has been stuck in a corner of my mind for a little while, at a moment’s notice. But I don’t know if the memory is real or not. The world that I remembered and the world that I see right now seemed to be completely different.
The world as I knew it was a peaceful world without conflict. Of course, there were plenty of conflicts outside the country, and religious and ethnic conflicts were constant. Still, it was not a world of collapsed civilization buried in ruins. I can’t remember anything about what I was doing in life before I lost my memory, what kind of person I was, what I was dreaming about, or…… anything like that.
Then there is one more thing that is important. It seems that my body is different from that of a normal human being.
My body was insane, even in a world where human body modification using advanced medical technology, so-called implants, were accepted as common sense.
Despite the fact that I had not undergone any surgery to strengthen my body functions such as reinforced skeletons, my physical abilities were equal to or even surpassed those of those obtained with the highest quality implant parts used in human modification. Although I looked like an ordinary young man, my abilities were superior to those of those who used the most intricate mechanical parts.
The nanolayers covering the skin made a significant difference in the amount of exercise by increasing the rate of oxygen absorption. The nanomachines in the blood, although limited, protected the body from contaminants and unknown viruses, and allowed even minor injuries to heal without leaving scars through self-repair.
Cardiopulmonary function is as strong as a horse, and the muscles covering the whole body are surprisingly strong and agile. My reaction speed had been increased, and if I ran at full speed, I could reach the speed of an automatic motorcycle with a small engine, and my arm strength could even lift a light car.
The eyes, like nocturnal predators, automatically amplified the amount of light so that they could see things clearly in the dark. Other than that, it enabled viewing of various information through the interface displayed on the retina, and the eyesight was enhanced with higher resolution so that it could clearly recognize distant objects. That wasn’t the only modification made to my body. But what surprised me the most was the voice in my head.
Apparently, my brain was capable of communicating with Kaguya, a self-proclaimed human, autonomous interactive support computer aboard a military satellite in geostationary Earth orbit.
To be honest, without the help of artificial intelligence, I might have lost my life the day I woke up in this devastated and harsh world. So I’m grateful to Kaguya. Nevertheless, it took me a long time to get used to the strange feeling of having someone else constantly looking into my head.
Still, I don’t think of myself as special. After all, it’s a world in which we have to do our best just to survive.
My name is Leila. My acquaintances call me “Ray,” but I personally don’t want them to abbreviate it.
It’s Leila. It’s not Ray. An ordinary scavenger living in a post-nuclear war world. That’s who I am now, and probably all I will ever be.
“Ray, did you hear what I said?” Kaguya said.
I was brought back to consciousness by a soft female voice that resonated directly in my inner ear. I turn my attention to the information I’m receiving from Kaguya via the device implanted in my brain.
“Sorry, I wasn’t listening.” I responded.
When I said that, Kaguya sighed like a human would.
“I told you that we’re always available for attack support.” Kaguya said.
“I understand,” I mouthed the answer as I checked the interface on my retina. “If there’s anything unusual going on around me, you don’t need to check with me, just send me information as needed.”
“All right,” Kaguya responded.
Scavenger. So-called scavengers are in the business of collecting pre-war relics. Relics from the old civilization. What a fine way to put it, but most of them were junk. I travels through war-torn polluted areas riddled with murderous, psychopathic marauders and mutants, making a living by finding and selling junk that can be repaired and used with today’s technology. It’s a job that most people hate, but I do it with a certain amount of pride. As a profession in a world where civilization has collapsed, it’s not a bad job.
My main base of operations is a city commonly known as “Torinokago,” which was built around a group of ruins from the old civilization period, including a nuclear protection facility built before the World War II that was designed for a nuclear attack.
When I first heard the name of the city from Kaguya, I imagined a nice looking cyberpunk city. In reality, however, it was a large settlement built around a crater created by the impact of a bomb, made up of junk, scrap wood, and debris of all sizes. Even so, the people of today, who do not know the “real” city that existed in the past, call it a city.
I’m not in that Torinokago city right now. If I remember correctly, we are in the center of the area that used to be called “Sakuragicho.” I can’t help but be puzzled by the sight of the city. The map displayed on my retina through Kaguya showed that this place was indeed Sakuragicho.
What confused me was that the city was so far removed from the landscape I knew. The abandoned city, devoid of human life, is dominated by skyscrapers that reach to the clouds, made possible by the technology of the old civilization, and in the new district, built on the reclaimed sea, we see factories where a large number of working mechanical dolls that no longer work have been abandoned.
I was at work in that abandoned city. The target is the control chip of the “Assault Droid,” a mechanical puppet weapon. On the eve of the Great War, the government decided to blockade the country, and the riots were reportedly caused by Asian immigrants who rebelled against the blockade. A military machine doll jointly developed by Japan and the United States, model number “0166-J-Assaultroid.”
The control chip of the Assault Droid has a very high computing power and can be used for devices other than mechanical dolls and can be applied in various ways, so it can be bought and sold at a reasonable value in the market. If you can get one in good condition, it will bring you enough profit to eat and drink for a few weeks. However, Assault Droids themselves are rarely seen in this area, and even if you do find one, it doesn’t mean you can easily get a chip.
Rather, it was a terribly difficult task. This is because most of these mechanical dolls are powered by small fusion generators manufactured with technology from the old civilization, and most of them are still working even now, probably several centuries after the war.
And the combat capability of the Assault Droid is extremely high, and only a single platoon of personnel with a certain amount of combat experience and expensive equipment can give it an edge. And even if the battle is won, depending on the damage to the Assault Droid, the chip may be damaged and the battle itself may be wasted. It is rare to find an aircraft that is no longer moving and has been abandoned like this target.
I’m looking down from the top floor of an abandoned building covered in dark green vegetation, at the building below me. I was keeping an eye on the men crouching in the ruins of the amusement park, where only a few vestiges of its past remained. I put my finger on the trigger of my rifle and check the information being sent from Kaguya. Information near the amusement park is obtained in real time by a “Raven-Type Reconnaissance Drone” circling above. The information was communicated through radio towers shaped like telephone poles that have been in operation since the time of the old civilization in various places, and Kaguya received the information, examined it carefully, and then sent it to me.
“There are twenty-seven confirmed enemies in the amusement park.” As Kaguya said this, the looters under his gaze were framed by red lines. “It’s terribly rare for a group of raiders occupying facilities of this size. The rest of them seem to be away from the place right now, hunting for people, as previously reported.”
“Are you sure?” I said.
I could hear Kaguya’s voice turn grumpy as I said this.
“The information sent by you and the vintage reconnaissance drone is being received via a radio tower on the ground by a pathetic satellite that is centuries old and decrepit, and there is only so much I can learn from the information it is receiving. If you want more solid information than this, just launch a new one into the sky.” Kaguya snorted.
“If I had a rocket somewhere and a modern military satellite, I’d do it too.” I responded.
My job is not to fight, but to collect scrap. So no combat action is necessary. However, just as there are no absolutes in anything, there are many times when fighting is inevitable.
Squinting against the occasional strong breeze, I repeat my breathing slowly and look at the looting man I keep catching in the center of my sights.
“It’s time to get moving.” I said. “Cover me, Kaguya.”
“Leave it to me,” Kaguya responded.
After listening to the voice of the self-proclaimed human artificial intelligence coming from somewhere via satellite, Kaguya aimed at the target mark displayed slightly to the upper left of the man’s head, and then pulled the trigger.
A dry gunshot echoed through the ruins, and at the same time, blood smoke rose from the head of the man standing on the balcony of a decaying building, and the man leaned against the rusty railing, his body tangled in it. I let out a slow breath as I catch the brain plasma dripping from the man’s head in the sights of my rifle. The color that displays the alert level of the interface is blue for safety. Kaguya scanned the movements of the multiple men instantly, and after confirming that there was no change in the situation, she determined that there was nothing unusual.
In a world where conflicts occur somewhere every day, the sound of gunfire is not uncommon.
That’s why people like them don’t care if there’s a gunshot nearby.
At the edge of the facility below, I pointed the barrel of my gun at a man trying to climb a rusty fire escape and fired at the target markings displayed near the man. Then the man collapses.
I’m not a great sniper, and I don’t have a genius sense for shooting. Kaguya calculates the best firing position based on the surrounding conditions, wind, distance, and displays it on my retina.
All I have to do is aim at the spot as instructed and pull the trigger. It’s a trick I can do thanks to Kaguya, not something I’m proud of.
Focus on the target and pull the trigger. It’s a monotonous task, like a war video game.
Therefore, there is no emotion when you hit the target, and there is no aversion to murder that comes from the emotion of killing someone. Now I am in a normal state of mind, for all intents and purposes, and I don’t have any aversion to killing people. I’m just an ordinary young man in this devastated world.
A man dressed in a simple full-face helmet with peeling paint and a rusty reddish-brown steel chest armor notices the dead body on the balcony and starts yelling something.
I thought I heard, “Enemy attack!” just as the bullet bit into the man’s stomach.
A man’s voice echoed through the ruins, and at about the same time, bullets rained down on the building I was in.
“Have you found it yet? ” Kaguya asked.
Ignoring Kaguya’s voice and quickly raising my prone body, I slung my rifle over my shoulder and jumped through the glassless window.
“Aren’t you being a little rough?”
Without replying to Kaguya’s words, I took out a device that generates a gravity field from my belt pocket and threw it at the ground below me. As the grenade-shaped cylinder touched the ground, a short, high-pitched metallic sound rang out beneath my feet. Then I felt something soft envelop me, like when diving underwater, and I fell into the center of the gravity field, canceling out the impact of my landing.
“Oh, what a waste. It was the last gravity field generating grenade, right?” Kaguya complained.
I set my feet on the cracked ground and quickly ducked into the rubble at my side.
“If I don’t die, I’ll pick it up again some day,” I said
“That’s probably what I said,” Kaguya replied curtly.
The interface on my retina had turned red, alerting me to the danger.
“Kaguya, this is the kill zone. Stay focused.” I said.
“I know.” Kaguya responded.
Just then, the sound of wind whistles past my ears.
“He’s still alive, shoot him, shoot him!” someone shouted.
I was relentlessly attacked by the angry looters.
“In front, the second floor of the building, on the left.” Kaguya instructed.
I reacted immediately to Kaguya’s voice, quickly drawing my handgun from its holster on my thigh and firied two bullets at the target, quickly ducking for cover without checking for a hit.
Angry shouts begin to fly around the area. I ran out and jumped into the shade of an abandoned car that had been put up so that I could show my stomach.
“What the hell is he doing!?” one of the looters shouted.
“How am I supposed to know?” someone from the group responded.
Out of nowhere, I hear the impatient voices of the looters. You seem to be very confused, huh.
“M-mutants! It’s a mutant monster! He’s got a weapon!”
“Asshole, it’s a human! I saw it.”
“Quick! Kill him quickly!”
Bullets were scattered haphazardly, and a cloud of dust filled the area.
“Sound the alarm! Let the guys on the hunt know that we’re coming!”
“That’s why I told you to get a radio! Anyone who can move, run–”
I quickly ducked my body into the shadows of the abandoned car as I blasted the screaming man’s jaw with a bullet.
“Good. Looks like it’s gone quiet.” Kaguya murmured.
Immediately after Kaguya’s murmur, a large number of bullets were hurled at the abandoned car.
“It’s definitely quieter.” I said.
I put the handgun in the holster and pull out the submachine gun from the waist holster to quickly check the remaining ammunition and load the magazine. Only the barrel is seen from behind the building, and it properly swept toward the enemy. Once I was sure that there was no more gunfire from the looters, I quickly moved to where I was hiding.
Leaning my back against the building, I concentrate for a moment on catching my breath.
“What’s the situation like?” I asked Kaguya.
After a brief silence, Kaguya replied.
“It seems to have gotten a little noisy. From the eyes of the reconnaissance drone in the sky above, enemy could be seen coming towards the amusement park.”
I exhale and think. There is no time to relax. If I don’t act quickly, I will be glued to this spot.
In the meantime, the number of enemies would increase without limit.
“The monster is here!”
“It’s a humanoid mutant!”
I hear the angry voices of the looters.
“I’m human,” I chuckle and release the smoke grenade into the air.
Reduce the number of enemies as much as possible while the information is mixed up. The enemy has me “Mutant monster” and “many,” the best time to do this is while they are confused and thinking that I’m the one.
“Behind you! There’s a monster behind you!” I shouted.
After uttering a loud lie to distract the looters, I remove the gas mask hooked to my backpack, quickly put it on, and jump into the white smoke sprayed from the smoke grenade.
“Where are you, you monster!?” said the looting woman.
“Here it is,” I responded.
I stabbed my knife up under the chin of the smoking and confused woman, killing her, and then quickly moved to another location without staying there.
“But I hope you can at least distinguish between grotesque mutants and humans. I’m not a monster,” I complained.
“If you call a human being who has been modified a monster, then I think Rei is a fine monster.”
I pretended not to hear Kaguya’s words.
I hide in the shadows as I enter the amusement park building that the looters are occupying.
Then I took a deep breath. The situation was on schedule, and none of the problems I was worried about had occurred. I instructed Kaguya to activate the bombs that I had planted in the surrounding buildings beforehand.
“Now, do it,” I ordered to Kaguya.
There is no need to tell Kaguya directly what to do. I don’t know what kind of technology it is, and I’ll never understand it, but Kaguya has picked up my thought potential and knows exactly what I want.
Multiple explosions occur in the vicinity, shaking the core of the area. The moment of the explosion is always uplifting no matter how many times I experience it. Of course, this is only possible when I’m not on the side of an explosion.
With the strange sounds of panicked looters in the background, I turn my gaze to the back of the dimly lit building. The game is about to begin. I braced myself before coming face to face with the killing machine.
TL NOTE :
1. “Torinokago” – 鳥籠 translated in english is “Birdcage,” city name is not change as it is already a given name by the author.
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