A Song to the Future (Mirai e no Uta)
Dr. Rosmärin’s Entry: on ‘devoids’, ‘distortio’ & ‘contamination’
My my, where do I even begin with the guys who single-handedly ruined my field of study.
They are total dickheads. These creatures seem to exist between dream and reality, meaning they can alter the later practically on a whim. We call this phenomenon distortio, as it doesn’t follow the laws of nature or make any logical sense.
Distortio is very dangerous for us humans, even if we are not the direct target of said phenomenon. Any distorted object becomes ‘contaminated’ and is charged with differing amounts of ‘radiation.’ Radiation may cause a chain reaction where nearby objects become contaminated or distorted again. It is advised that no human gets close to a contaminated object; currently the rule of thumb is the bigger the object, the wider its area of influence. Obvious example would be the Needle. There are some exceptions to this rule though.
Being the direct target of any kind of distortio is usually lethal to the human body. Depending on the situation we might be able to do something if we act quickly; still, the loss of one or several organs and/or body members is commonplace and expected.
The effects of radiation can be lessened by using anti-radiation equipment we’ve manufactured using different materials, but primarily fifth. After years of testing what we have now seems to be reliable enough.
Now onto the devoids themselves.
It seems they are what became of 99% of the human population after the ‘whiteout’. (AKA: doomsday, judgement day, apocalypse, blackout, death & rebirth etc.)
Devoids don’t appear to have any sort of intelligence and just act on instinct from what we can tell. Experiments on them have been incredibly scarce and lackluster, for they seem to quickly vanish after being captured. Like, completely out of existence.
This is well known but in fact they are not really empty at all. So far, their ‘bodies’ seem to be composed of a core (probably the real body, as it’s the only material part) and a thick layer of slime protecting it. I call it ‘slime’ but in truth it is just distortion. Thick distortion film.
Devoids are able to combine, shapeshift and so forth, again completely ignoring the laws of physics. The only way to dispose of them is by destroying the core, but the external body can also be damaged by using special armament or, specially, subject Zio’s blood.
Related Entry: on subject Zio
I give up.
Ara’s Diary: on the ‘Whiteout’
Here at the ship we just call it ‘Whiteout’ since we are not particularly religious, but it’s been given many different names. Depending on who you ask they might say something different but in the end we all understand each other, I think.
It is said this Whiteout took place around thirty years ago. Nobody except for captain Rich has any memories from before, save general stuff like language, your own name (not always) or basic knowledge regarding the world (not the old one though). Specific knowledge and abilities like, let’s say, Sonia’s studies can also be kept or restored with time. This process they call anamnesis.
It seems the world was quite a different place back then. The captain sometimes talks about big cities, ‘skyscrapers’ and so forth. Examples of these can be found in books, but it looks like big urban areas were utterly destroyed or, rather, distorted during the Whiteout. Maps of the old world are unreliable now as it seems the geography of the entire planet has changed somewhat. One of our duties is to look around and make new ones; Hazel and the Captain take care of that.
What else is there to say. Oh, since the Whiteout it’s been common to find people scattered around slumbering in some kind of ‘uterus bubble’ (we never gave it a proper name as it is destroyed as soon as the person inside awakens). Sometimes they wake up by themselves in which case we need to find them as soon as possible since they need food and shelter, or else they might die. They are usually easy to spot though since the bubble emits radiation and that can be detected by radars. The bubble itself is, however, not dangerous at all for us humans as far as we can tell.
The age of the individuals themselves doesn’t seem to follow any kind of pattern either. I was found at (estimated) age 7, but there’s also old people and middle-aged people. We think they might have been sleeping somewhere between realities ever since the Whiteout took place; in other words, not every survivor woke up at day one. The number of dormant people found this way keeps getting lower with time though.
The books say in the Old World there lived around 7 billion people, but we survivors are barely a couple thousands. We theorize those who didn’t make it are now what we call ‘devoids.’ They are very dangerous and usually attack us on sight. Sonia and the professor say they just act on instinct now, but I still don’t want to hurt them if they were once humans. I wish we could just avoid them during our missions.
I thank my friends for having taken care of me all this time, and hope we can all keep safe and doing our best!
“Morning Guinea Man!”
“Hello Mr. Guinea.”
It’s been two days since the attack. Because I cannot leave the cell yet, visits from these three have been fairly frequent. Zio in particular seems to have warmed up a little; he’s the only one allowed to enter the cell due to his peculiar (that’s what they told me) organism. After our victory last time he brought me cake and a couple of books (was probably forced to) but at least I don’t feel any murderous intent anymore coming from him.
“What is this?” I ask wary. Ara and Sonia have left the room for security reasons.
Zio is holding some new clothes and a crystal amulet. Up until now I had been given some periods of “absolute intimacy” to use a little urinal here or safely take a bucket shower. Only old man Castle has forgotten about it once, but he was listening to music and mumbling, so I don’t think he even noticed me. He just passed by.
“I won’t look,” the boy tells me.
“Remember how we said we were gonna take a small detour? Well, this is a small gift we just picked up for you!” The voice of the scientist can be heard from outside the room.
While Zio is looking away I put the clothes and the amulet on. The crystal gets opaque and dark barely a couple seconds after touching my chest.
“That won’t do,” Zio says. “Sonia, bring me some spares please.”
“Oh, we have plenty!”
Before I realize I am wearing five of those crystals. They look cleaner now.
“Zio please exit the cell!” I assume they are testing something outside and Zio’s presence may interfere. Still I want to tell him something before he leaves.
“Uh, Zio... thanks a lot for what you did the other day. Must be tough.”
“Only thing I’m good for, no worries. Thanks anyway.”
After a couple minutes of standing here in silence everybody enters the room again and, to my surprise, Ms. Sonia herself opens the cell’s door.
“Congrats! You are now a proper guest!” she says. Arabia also looks happy.
“We bought special anti-radiation clothes and a big cube of anti-radiation crystals to try and make your emissions tolerable. It seems you’re good to go!” Ara explains.
“But what about you all? Is it really safe?”
“Hehe. We all have one of these too.” Sonia shows me her neck and I see the same type of amulet I am wearing. “It’s the closest we can get to carrying your cell around. We thought we might just give it a try anyways if we are bringing you to town.”
“B-but didn’t the captain say anti-radiation crystal was very expensive?” I am honestly puzzled at the good will of this bunch. Are they really doing this just for me?
“Maybe for regular people. But we are the Albatross.”
“Since our ship is one of the safest methods to carry stuff around, colonies usually give us whatever we want in exchange for our services. Instead of payment, it’s more like they are investing, funding us. In return, we don’t usually ask for money when we complete a mission,” Ara explains again.
“You wearing one of these too?” I ask Zio.
“Nah, don’t need it” the boy says. “Also, Sonia thinks maybe just having me around helps to counteract the whole radiation thing.”
“I think you should carry one too! It’s like something we all have in common. Like wearing a uniform, but comfier,” Arabia tells him, to no avail.
“If something were to happen, we’d just kick you back in here immediately, Guinea Pig!”
“Now let’s show him the ship, shall we?” the wavy-haired girl proposes excitedly.
First thing outside the ‘cell room’ is, as expected, the cargo hold. It’s stuffed with packages of different sizes; probably some for delivery and others supplies for the ship. Either this or the engine room must be the long hallway I saw semi-conscious when they first brought me here.
“I... I am very grateful for this. I’m sorry for causing so much trouble.”
“Don’t worry, it’s no problem at all!” the doctor answers. “As they say, cada uno es cada uno y dos una piragua.”
“We visited some Spanish ruins not long ago” Zio tells me.
“Country from the old world. Means something like everybody’s different.”
At the end of the cargo hold there are some stairs going both up and down.
“We’re going up. Down there is Castle’s domains.”
First thing I see on the next floor is yet another hallway, but this time a proper one – meaning it connects to other places and not just boxes. There is a little door right behind us.
“This one leads to the library, it’s behind us” Ara explains.
“Quite ample if you like reading, Guinea. We try to save at least one copy of every book we find, if not the original.”
“Those five doors on the right are our personal rooms. On the left, we have the showers (say goodbye to the bucket!) and the infirmary in case of need. Now c’mon, let us head to the cafeteria!”
Arabia takes my hand and carries me towards two big doors at the end of the hallway. Inside, there he is: the only man who has probably seen me naked (wait, did they all see me naked while carrying me to the ship?). He is having a coffee.
“Well if it isn’t Guinea Man! What an artista.”
The place is completely gorgeous, the main reason being an enormous window to the sky in front of us. It looks even thicker than the cell’s. I notice this is actually the first time I have seen the outside ever since I first woke up here, cameras aside. The surface of the ship is quite imposing too, it looks almost like a big spaceship.
“This was indeed a prototype for a spaceship” Zio tells me. “By the way he just called you an ‘artist’, meaning like a good guy.”
“Vincent von Castle, are you already listening to those goddamned pasodobles.” The doctor asks.
Castle is sitting next to a big table at the center of the room, and now that she mentions it, he has on him a small music device. It’s OK music, pompous & somewhat majestic, but with a touch of elegance. It sounds exotic.
“This one is called Amparito Roca.” I look to my Spanish specialist in search of answers.
“Just the name of some guy” he says.
“That is a cassette player” Ara tells me; “he found it a while ago, restored it and claimed it for himself. Everything was fine till we found all these pasodoble tapes.”
“Now he’s listening to that crap all day,” Ms. Sonia explains. “This room actually has a decent music system and big speakers so he could stop wasting batteries on that accursed apparatus – he even repairs them sometimes when they malfunction – and still just refuses to learn anything that isn’t his own lousy portable player.”
“I’m all about the hard-ware, miss” the old man comments. “All that digital stuff is too complex for me. Besides I can’t spend much time on here anyways; should get back to work.”
“More like should be working now.”
“By the way” I ask out of curiosity, “who does the cooking here?”
“Zio does” the doctor rapidly answers. The boy blushes.
“Usually I do most of the cooking” Ara explains, “but yeah lately I’ve been trying to teach him some basic recipes. I could learn you too if you want, Mr. Guinea.”
Both Zio and I blush.
“I-is that your specialty, miss Ara?” I ask, obviously trying to hide my arousal.
“Specialty? Why no, I’m an herbalist! But since usually I don’t have as much work as the other crew members I thought I’d cooperate in some other way.”
“Don’t let her trick you; lady here is a wonderful cook” Castle says. “I’m going. By the way Mister, would you be interested in joining my band?”
“Me? Like a music band?”
“With the tapes, we also found some sheet music. He now wants to create a big symphonic band even when he himself has no musical studies whatsoever. Only five or six old guys in town have agreed so far” Sonia tells me.
“I-I’ll think about it.” That moustache has something in it that just won’t let me turn the old man down.
“Won’t regret it, Mister. Won’t regret it.”
“What’s up?” asks the doctor.
“It’s... nothing. I was just thinking last time the place was this lively was during the Rabbit Island incident.”
“There would always be like two or three of those buggers roaming around the engine room, no matter how tightly I shut the place. Well I’m going young’uns.”
Castle takes his cassette player, puts an old red cap on his head and leaves the cafeteria. Amparito Roca slowly vanishes into the distance.
“Rabbit Island incident?”
“We’ll tell you some other time” the girl replies. “It’s just there was like this week we had to carry dozens of rabbits around; it was a lot of fun. Happened a couple years ago. Now, want something to eat, Mr. Guinea? Or shall we continue. There’s only the command room left.”
“I’m fine, thanks. Let’s move on.” These guys really look like a weird family, I’m glad I get to be here with them even if their generosity makes me feel a bit awkward.
The command room is just next floor. It is massive and, just like the cafeteria, it has a gorgeous view of the outside. The Albatross looks even more imposing from up here.
“Hey there Mr. Guinea. Glad you could make it out. Name’s Hazel.”
The whole Mr. Guinea thing is starting to get old real fast.
“He’s our main pilot” Ara tells me. We are of course talking about Glasses. He is also wearing a crystal amulet; forgot to check on Castle but most likely he had one too.
“Glad you’re all getting along. Well, what does our guest think of the ship?”
“It’s honestly very impressing... but what surprises me the most about the whole situation is you guys. You’re all being so nice to me it’s almost scary, hehe.”
“No reason not to.” Glasses smiles. “As you were told, picking up stray people used to be very common. You’re the only one we’ve had in quarantine for more than a couple hours because of your radiation levels, but Sonia here came up with this solution.”
“By the way, if you’re wondering how I know you were told that...” he points at a bunch of monitors on the wall. I redden thinking about the implications.
“Haha, don’t worry! I try to eavesdrop as little as possible. And during your ‘absolute intimacy’ time we just turn the thing off.”
“Well, now the only thing left for us is to decide how you’re going to spend your remaining time here, Mr. Guinea. We don’t have any rooms left as you saw, unless somebody wants to share–”
“Oh; I’m completely fine at the cell, I have everything I need. Well as long as you respect my absolute intimacy.”
“You sure?” the girl asks.
Now that I think of it... isn’t five rooms too few? If nobody was sharing, so far we have Hazel, Ara, Zio, Sonia, Castle, and...
“What about the captain?” I say.
“Oh, he lives above us.”
“Isn’t this the top floor?”
Hazel points at a narrow wall ladder camouflaged right next to the stairs.
“Although that would be the lame way in” he states.
“Because this, young one, is the cool way!”
We hear an implacable voice coming from above and the hugest chair fuckin’ comes down the cellar on a moving platform. It is the Captain.
“That’s the command chair” Ara explains. “Goes up and down, connecting this place and the captain’s chambers.”
“How are we doing, young Guinea Man. Hope you’re enjoying your first full look at the Albatross.”
“Y-yes Sir! Very much Sir!”
“No need to be so formal!” the Captain laughs. “As Hazel just said, we apologize for having you inside the cargo hold for so long. Christ you’re a man, not a goddamn packet!”
“Thank you so very much. But are you all completely sure just the clothes and amulets will be safe enough?”
“No, we are not,” the Captain says, keeping a cheerful attitude.
“Some kinds of radiation, in particular that found on stray humans, is usually inoffensive to us,” Dr. Sonia explains. “We all knew this from the beginning, but your levels were still too high to risk it.”
“Now that the levels are tolerable, we have no problem with you roaming around, Mr. Guest” the Captain says.
“I-it’s a huge honor Sir!”
“Haha! Just call me Captain. And calm down already, we don’t bite! Anyways we had to do this sooner or later” he continues; “we’ll be reaching town tomorrow afternoon, and we had to make sure regular people will be able to cope with your emissions if you plan on staying there.”
“Wait” I ask, almost by instinct. That last remark has suddenly taken all enthusiasm out of me. “So... you’re leaving me in town.”
“That’s what we always do with strays. Unless you’d like to–”
At that moment, the alarms go crazy for a second time.
“The sky is still blue... wait, what the hell are these lectures?” Hazel is talking to himself.
“Now, speaking about safety... everyone, you know what to do–”
“C-captain. Transmission coming in.”
“What in the seven hells...?” the old man murmurs.
“Tell Castle to check everything as always and come here as soon as he’s finished” the Captain orders Hazel.
“Yessir! Now about the call...”
“Let’s double down on it. Ask for video contact. Now everybody” he tells us, “stay as close to the door as you can. That way you won’t be seen. Ara, this time you can’t leave until we know what’s going on.”
“Yes, Sir” the girl murmurs.
We can see a big black cloud coming right towards us. If the radars are correct, that thing is even slightly bigger than the Albatross. I’m no expert, but they told me devoids come on big packs and the distortion they cause usually provokes storms. But this here looks too compact. Could it be solid...?
“Video call coming right in.” A monitor rises from the ground just before the Captain’s shoes. There is a lot of interference and we cannot see anything. As Castle enters the room, we tell him to stay quiet.
“This is Captain Leonhardt from the Albatross. Requesting ID.”
The Captain repeats the message a bit louder. His voice is firm and composed.
“This is Captain Richard Leonhardt from the–”
“I know. I can read.” The unknown voice sounds clear and cutting. We all stand in silence.
“Sir, your transport is brimming with radiation. I request ID.”
“Radiation...? Huh, so that’s how you call it...” the voice tells us.
“Oh, ID...? Just call me Null.”
The image then starts to clear. After a couple of seconds we can see the face of a young man wearing a red coat, not dissimilar to that of the Captain. His hair is long and messy, and shares color with his eyes: pale yellow. This ‘Null’ looks somewhat feral and is wearing a malicious smirk.
“Should be better now. Say, captain Leonhardt, you like my ship?”
“I’ll get straight to the point then. You’re carrying something that belongs to us. Get it back or you’ll get hurt.”
“Carrying? We have dozens and dozens of boxes full of canned sardines if that’s what you want.” The Captain doesn’t crumble one bit; his soul really is made of pure steel.
Everyone knows the enemy is talking about me.
“I’ll say more – it’s right there, in the same room you’re talking to me from.” This Null looks quite sharp, I can almost hear the Captain’s thoughts. “And you see, I’m getting impatient.”
“Well I do like sardines.”
“Captain, two shots coming towards us!” Hazel exclaims.
“Intercept them with anti-radiation missiles.”
There is a huge explosion just a couple dozens of meters in front of us. The room shakes a bit. When the smoke goes away, the surface of the ship is again covered by devoids just like last time. No, there are far more.
“Are they being controlled...?” Hazel murmurs. The Captain gives Zio the thumb and he storms out of the room.
“That was only a warning,” our interlocutor states.
“You don’t want to engage against us.” The Captain looks dead serious. Everyone in the room gulps.
“Oho! Bold words Mr. Leonhardt. I actually like it better this way.”
Null hangs up.
Zio looked towards the other ship, which now could be seen much more clearly. It was as if it was containing a storm itself.
“What the hell is that. There could be thousands in there. Is the whole thing just distortion...?”
At that moment, he rapidly turned 180 degrees and slashed through thin air.
“Just my imagination?”
As soon as Zio heard this, his chest was pierced by a big, thick, archaic knife.
“T-teleport...?” he managed to mutter. He had blood on his mouth. His consciousness was quickly fading away.
“Don’t worry boy, I’ll send the crew regards. Oh, and thanks for showing me the way in.”
Null kicked Zio down the Albatross. He fell into the endless, darkening sky.
“ZIOOOOOOOOO!!” Ara screamed from inside the command room.
Arabia is crying on her knees while Dr. Sonia embraces her tightly. Castle and me are both in shock, unable to even react to what is going on.
“Use the upper cannons to ignite the surface of the ship,” the Captain orders.
“Our ship? The shields won’t be able to handle that! It would leave us completely open!”
“Do it now goddammit! We need to gain as much time as possible!”
Hazel presses a couple of buttons in frustration. The upper cannons move until they are all targeting Null and the devoids on the deck. He gets the missiles ready and then... nothing happens.
“D-distortio...? Why are they not working!”
Castle shrugs, as confused as everybody else.
“Good try.” We hear his voice again. It comes from Zio’s walkie. “Would’ve probably worked against any of you monkeys.”
“God fucking dammit – CUT HIM RIGHT NOW!”
“Everything’s gonna be okay... shh...” we all stay in silence listening to Sonia’s comforting words. The Captain throws his hat away.
“Well, we’ll really need a miracle this time.”
“What do you long for.”
The One was not convinced by the voice at all.
“Chocotajas” he answered mockingly.
“You are not being honest.”
“Primero los chocos y luego las tajas.” Had all the time in the world. He was confident the voice didn’t.
“You are not being honest.”
“Primero los chocos...”
They had been arguing like this for what felt like an eternity. The One hated the goddamned light. He hated the Voice even more if possible. He honestly just wanted to get out, but he had all the time in the world. And he knew every second he was getting closer to his goal.
“You are not being honest.”
“I don’t trust you for shit.”
“You are not–”
“...luego las tajas.”
How long can you keep going at it you fucking ratdick voice, cause I ain’t telling you shit. What the fuck is all this anyways, heaven? You pretend to tell me this bullshit nothing with a dude just asking you the same thing a billion times is heaven? I swear to God if I do make it out I’ll find whoever is responsible for this and gun his ass & balls down the street like the degenerate he is. Yeah you keep telling me I’m not being honest you fucking piece of shit retard voice, you ain’t getting shit from me you fucker. Get lost.
“System error. Activating emergency protocols.”
Zio opened his eyes.
The hatch was firmly shut and the shield was a bit stronger than expected, so Null was just patiently cutting through it with his knives like one would a big can of soda. The crew was terrified and had prepared some anti-devoid weapons, well knowing that they would not be nearly enough if the invaders got inside. All until–
Null heard a big explosion and stood up. It was his ‘ship’. Something had pierced right through it like a raging drill, making the whole thing look like butter and cutting it in two in the process. Now it was all set on fire and slowly tumbling down.
In that moment, the hybrid felt one of the seven aspects of death right behind him and turned around. Zio had just emerged from under the Albatross propelled by his own blood, which in that instant was flowing around him as if painting two devilish wings in the air.
“What the fuck?”
His body was instantly stabbed by Zio’s combined crimson blade which he had thrown seemingly a microsecond ago (Null didn’t even have time to react) and, just in the blink of an eye, the boy seemed to teleport to the hilt of the sword and took Null on an aerial extreme speed travel back to his own blazing ship, where he pinned his enemy’s body. The sheer force and speed of his charge had thrown most of the small devoids off the Albatross; the remaining just followed the big one.
His eyes were boiling red.
“Hoh. I see” the hybrid managed to say. “Your blood makes it so I can’t dart away anymore. Good one, kid.”
“We’ll see each other again.”
“...in hell, maybe.”
Zio left his impaled enemy on the falling airship and somehow jumped back to the surface of the Albatross, where he collapsed right next to the hatch.
The crew needed a moment to process what they had just seen.
“Hazel, go help him. Quick” the Captain sighed. He didn’t look too surprised and was lost in thought.
A few seconds after that, they could all sense a tremendous explosion coming from below. The Albatross was safe once again.
 ‘Chocos’ references a Spanish dish not dissimilar to grilled cuttlefish. Similarly, ‘tajas’ are just strips of fried bacon - thus ‘chocotajas’ would be a hypothetical dish combining the two. The One is only making fun of their interlocutor here.