HEAVY OBJECT:Volume9 Epilogue
Quenser stood on the deck of one of the fleet’s supply ships.
He leaned on the metal railing and stared off into the shining blue sea.
“That was pretty crazy.”
The sounds of a moving crane accompanied his words.
A small submarine floated in the ocean directly below and it was attached to a thick tube from the supply ship. It was not receiving water or fuel. Instead, the fuel stored inside the submarine was being sucked out.
No, not even that was entirely accurate.
Technically, it was the fuel taken from the side of the Nataraja as it sat on the ocean bottom two thousand meters down.
“Putana apparently swung around her main cannon and road roller to choose where she landed after sinking. That took her right on top of the Nataraja. Pilot Elites are all so scary. They must think on an entirely different scale.”
He was speaking to the Princess who stood next to him.
She replied while giving the seabirds breadcrumbs she must have brought from her cockpit’s supplies.
“You just don’t have enough of a fighting spirit, Quenser.”
“Eh? What? You’re on her side!?”
The supplies inside the Nataraja were being returned to the Legitimacy Kingdom, Information Alliance, Capitalist Corporations, and Faith Organization.
The fossil fuels were simple to deal with, but the Nataraja’s own structures would eventually be dismantled, melted, broken down, and finally returned to their rightful owners. Quenser could not even imagine when the work would be complete. In all seriousness, it was like the creation of a new undersea mine on a global scale.
Even the genius children who had rebelled would be returned.
“Those brats said the world has already ended. They said the hands of the World Clock had reached the end before we were even born.”
“They said it was a matter of when we would realize it. They claimed we would remember we were dead in the next two hundred years.”
There were countless problems.
They were all intertwined and they would be difficult to untangle.
And while they resolved one problem, another four or five would rise from the chaos.
But the Princess gave her answer with emotionless eyes.
“Yeah. That’s the proper reaction.”
Overly tidy people sometimes did not notice their own messy hair.
Even if those children had risen from the sea after mankind’s destruction and terraformed a burned continent with plants and microbes they had preserved, they probably would not have created the utopia they hoped for.
They would have created the same sort of society with some of the positions shifted around a bit.
Take the present for example.
No one got along and war was an everyday occurrence, but when everyone’s interests aligned, the world powers would put on forced smiles and push for a path of cooperation.
They had all been children once and now they were adults.
That was all there was to it.
“I don’t think the world will end in two hundred years,” said the Princess.
“But in two hundred years, I think the world will have become something we could never imagine.”
“Probably. If humans were the kind of creature to give up and let themselves be destroyed, the world never would have ended up like this.”
“Do you really understand what ‘the world’ is?”
“Of course not. After all, the world is waiting for me in the future. I’ll become an Object designer and look down on it from the top floor of a skyscraper with a champagne glass in one hand.”
Fleets from the other world powers had arrived and similarly retrieved resources from the Nataraja.
They would almost certainly use those resources to wage new wars.
Or maybe someone would try to avoid that by sending an Object to attack the returning transport fleets.
As oil reserve estimates were corrected and new technology reduced the consumption rate, the hands of the World Clock would move forward or back quite easily. The colossal ship at the bottom of the ocean would become a new basis for a countdown to replace the old countdown based on the tapped out deposits around the world.
And thus, the world continued to change, bit by bit.
It travelled down such a complex path that it was impossible to tell who wanted it to head in that direction.
“We at least have to do our best to make sure the world isn’t an ugly place in two hundred years’ time.”
Frolaytia Capistrano used her laptop’s camera to speak with a superior officer waiting in a distant safe country.
“You all have a way of digging up these bizarre international problems, don’t you?” asked the officer.
“What scares me is that some people might think those boys are actually diligent soldiers.”
“But all this business with geniuses really makes you think, doesn’t it? It’s simple enough to say you hate liars, losers, thugs, and selfish people, but just swinging around a stick isn’t going to do anything about it. You won’t change the world and you’ll have your corners removed as you’re rounded off like stone in the river. But they had the strength needed to fight that flow.”
The officer seemed to be enjoying himself.
Or perhaps a soldier who never set foot on the battlefield needed the flexibility of mind to turn any situation into a positive.
“But at the same time, this was an opportunity for us. This Nataraja incident let us divide the geniuses between the usable and the unusable, between the safe and the unsafe. It’s a lot like the good and evil gods the Faith Organization sometimes talks about. We know who to make offerings to and who to seal away, and that means a lot.”
“But given the recent technology race, I doubt the masterminds will be executed. While they are dangerous, they have the brains needed to pull something like that off.”
“That’s why they’re evil gods, not demons. You fear and yet revere them. Although that might be a tragedy for them and not salvation,” smoothly added the officer. “It seems the Island Nation has a tradition of worshiping unmanageable evil spirits as gods, but this may be similar. Malice only needs a shrine to contain it. And the system used to utilize these malicious geniuses will probably look bizarre to any normal person. In fact, they would probably see it as a fate worse than death.”
“Doing that is not the military’s job.”
“Ha ha. That’s true. You can end the conversation by saying they brought it upon themselves, but the world really is extremely cruelly made.”
Human history was already over.
They would remember that within two hundred years and it would all crumble away once they did.
Those geniuses had experienced something that made them think that.
They had been presented with all sorts of ugly data to solve the problems at hand and it had led them to give up on Planet Earth.
“Even I sometimes wonder if this world should have been destroyed long ago,” said the officer.
“I wonder if the curtains of history should have been gallantly lowered as soon as something as bizarre as the collapse of the UN occurred. I wonder if everything’s been coasting on inertia ever since and there’s no chance of a bright future remaining.”
“But our history is what has continued afterwards. And now that it has continued, we can’t exactly throw in the towel.”
“Yeah, that is true. But aren’t you saying that thinking is too much of a pain, so you’re giving up? That too is childish reasoning.”
The old maintenance lady operated her notebook-sized tablet while checking on the damage to the Baby Magnum. The onion armor always had to be replaced, but the damage this time was far from light.
While performing her work, she spoke to the brown girl next to her.
“Are you sure that was what you wanted?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I suggested you detonate the Collective Farming’s reactor in exchange for helping us, but you didn’t actually do it.”
The girl in a green nurse-like special suit shrugged at that question.
That had been an option at that time and in that place.
She could not have escaped and would have been caught in the blast, but she could have kept the Legitimacy Kingdom from analyzing the technology any further if she had detonated the Sarasvati.
She could have offered up the Sarasvati.
And if the stolen resources in the Nataraja had been lost in the Sarasvati’s explosion, the world powers may have been unable to keep up appearances and may have rotted away in despair. Beginning with the extinction of the saprophytic bacteria, the continents would have been buried in seemingly living flames created by the sludge and solid fuel covering the world.
That may have let her take revenge against the Legitimacy Kingdom for taking everything from her and it may have had the greatest anesthetic effect on her suicidal desire.
But the brown girl had not done it.
She had wanted to see what came next.
She had likely found something that made her think that way.
“I only did what I needed to.”
“Yes, but not many people can do that in such an extreme environment.”
The Sarasvati remained on the bottom of the ocean, but the Legitimacy Kingdom apparently intended to send an underwater drone to continue analyzing the technology. Another project would use underwater arc cutting to slice away the components and retrieve them, bit by bit.
Once the Legitimacy Kingdom fully absorbed the technology, Putana might be summoned as the Pilot Elite for an Object based on it.
Of course, the Legitimacy Kingdom and the Faith Organization were in the middle of an international trial over who owned the Sarasvati, while the Information Alliance and Capitalist Corporations wanted to interfere. There was no guarantee it would all go as planned.
“What do you intend to do now?” asked the old lady.
“For now, I’ll be going somewhere beyond the Faith Organization’s reach. I was custom made with military secrets, so I will probably be sent to a laboratory that deals with Elites.”
“I see. I heard Millia wanted you.”
“That wouldn’t have been bad either.”
The old lady received a text message summons on her tablet.
It was from Frolaytia.
Frolaytia was busy putting together the paperwork for the higher ups who leisurely sat around in the safe countries. If she needed the old lady’s help, she probably needed detailed data on the condition of the Baby Magnum or the Princess.
The old lady left the rest of the work to her maintenance soldier subordinates and started toward the motorboat that would take her to the small aircraft carrier holding the high ranking officer.
On the way, she turned back to speak.
“Oh, right. I forgot to say one thing.”
“What is it?”
“Thanks for not giving up on the current world.”
Putana Highball’s emotionless eyes softened a bit at that.
“I should be thanking you. It was your words that showed me a wider world.”