Title: Into The Void
Y: When I was a boy, the housing complex was my whole world. The house was there. The park was there. The school was there. My family was there. My friends were there.
Y: Oneichan was there.
A; Yuu! Watcha looking at?
Y: I was just watching the ants.
A: Ants? Something funny about them?
Y: Not really.
A: Then what are you looking at em for?
Y: I just kinda want to.
A: ...that so.
Y: There's just something weird about them. You see how the ants come out in a line out that hole and go right into that one?
Y: They all get in there after a little bit.
Y: And then they come out of here one more time just to go in there all over again.
Y: It's like the inside connects to the same place and they're going round and round in circles.
Y: Weird, right?
A: Heh. I'm surprised you managed to catch that.
K: Ah! There he is! Yuu!! Let's play some soccer!!
A: Heyo! Private Kanta! Private Youji!
Yj: Crap! The captain's with him!
Y: Count me in!
A: Let me in on this too.
Yj: Just don't go all out today captain.
A: Roger that.
Y: For the me of that time, the housing complex was filled entirely with blessings. It was a perfect world.
Y: And I believed that there was nothing but an endless void beyond it.
Y: Sometimes though, things came out of that void.
D: So you'll be staying over today Ai-chan?
A: There's a spacefish coming today.
D: Gotcha. Make yourself at home.
Y: Every year a spacefish or two comes. Oneichan comes over for a sleepover when they do.
A: No playing around till you finish your homework, got it?
Y: I got it! I got it!
Y: Even within this blessed lifestyle in the housing complex, times like these were especially fun.
A: It's almost spacefish time. You scared?
Y: Oneichan's here protecting me so there's nothing to be afraid of.
Y: That which came out of the void
Y: And the arm of the "World" that struck them down.
Y: Safeguarded the city class housing complex habitation zone.
Y: The Supermassive Spaceship
Title: Into The Void
Y: That was the name of this world that wandered the endless void.
Y: It was everything to us. We were born here. We will die here.
Yj: Did you see it last yesterday!? That spacefish!!
K: Yup. Saw it.
Yj: It was bigger than the last one.
K: When's the festival going to be?
T: So it looks like a spacefish showed up last night didn't it?
T: But aren't there a little too many of you who stayed up late to get a look at it?
T: It's been a while so we'll be going over spacefish today.
T: We extract a lot of things like minerals and protein-like organic matter from the spacefish. Aside from that, we also take in other important materials.
T: The collected material is sent to the manufacturing plant in the abdomen section and processed into all kinds of things like maintenance components and food.
Notes: Housing Complex
T: As you can see, the spacefish are an especially valuable resource for us who live in the housing complex.
SFX: CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP
Yj: When's the festival gonna be!?
T: The materials management group haven't announced it yet but... it'll likely be about three days after the spacefish encounter as always.
Yj: So does that mean the day after tomorrow? The day after that?
K: Festival's a coming!
Y: They say the festival's coming in three days!! You looking forward to it?
A: Yeah. It's about time to for me to keep on my toes.
Y: ? For what?
A: The demon of the housing complex, Saro.
A: He's got a round body, three eyes and three legs to go with them.
A: They say he shows up around the time we have festivals. Kids about your age end up getting gobbled up by it.
Y: Ahaha. What the heck is that supposed to be.
Y: There was no way something like that would exist in this peaceful world. The me of that time didn't believe it could.
Y: But Oneichan's face back then was completely serious.
Y: The spacefish comes and the festival gets put on. The idea behind it was that we had to use up all the old materials.
Y: Festivals are great aren't they.
Yj: The materials management group seem to be super busy though.
K: Oh yeah. Your dad's works there right? That's gotta be a pain.
Yj: If I have to get a job, one in the office would be sweet...
K; It's the plant for me.
Y: Huh? I guess...
Y: I'd like to be able to see Pangu's cockpit or something like that.
Yj: Pangu ain't got no cockpit!
SFX: SLAP SLAP
K: A super AI is what makes it move after all. We learned that in school you know.
Y: In that case I wanna be the guy who wipes down the super AI's box.
K: The box he says.
Y: That gave me a thought. What did that AI think of travelling through the void in Pangu? Did it ever get lonely?
Y: What... is that...
M: It's him!!
M: He's out!!
M: It's Saro!!
M: Saro's out!!
Y: Saro!? That's Saro!?
S: Amada Yuu!! Come with me!!
Y: Why does he know my name... wait, it can talk!?
A: Kids about your age end up getting gobbled up by it.
S: Hurry! There's no time to...
Y: !! He's heading this way...
Yj: Yuu!! Run for it!!
A: Kanta!! Youji!! Your combat functions are...
Y: Kanta!! Youji!!
K: It's no good!! It's all on you captain!!
A: I know that!!
Y: Oneeicha... Flying...
S: Found a laundry pole!!
A: Yu... Yuu...
A: Give Yuu back...!! That child is our...
S: Oh! Cactus!! Darn! It's fake! Oh well! Eat this!!
S: It got her!? Now's my chance!!
Y: It all was beyond my comprehenseion.
S: Take a nap for me okay. You can ask yourself for the full details.
Y!: Made it in time huh. I still have some life left in me.
Y!: Nice to meet you Amada Yuu. I am Amada Yuu.
Y: Ummm... huh? You also have the same name as me mister? What happened to Saro? Did you save me from Saro mister?
Y!: Saro's waiting right outside.
Y!: Nobody but Amada Yuu is allowed inside here.
Y!: Saro isn't going to eat you.
Y!: Saro is my friend. And pretty soon he'll be yours too.
Y: ... ! Where's Oneichan!?
Y!: That takes me back... Right. It's probably not going to die. It is a pretty hardy robot after all.
Y!: You saw it too right?
Y: Robot... That's a lie.
Y: YOU'RE LYING!! YOU'RE LYING!! YOU'RE LYING!!
Y!: I know how you feel.
Y: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU KNOW!? HOW COULD YOU KNOW!!
Y!: Of course I would. I'm you.
Y!: We just share the same name...
Y: We don't share just the name.
Y!: You and I are copies of the same man. We're clones. We're also the only two flesh and blood humans on this Pangu.
Y!: Every other person is the same as Tsuchiya Ai... the same as Oneichan. They're robots. They exist solely to protect Amada Yuu within the confines of the cocoon that is the housing complex...
Y: LIKE I'D BELIEVE THA...
Y!: ...just give this a watch first. It's a message from the "First".
Y!!: I am Amada Yuu. The original. First off, I am sorry. I must apologize for forcing you to live lives that begin and end in this closed space.
Y!!: Next, I will speak of the Pangu. It is thanks to the cooperation of my friend, and alien from the planet Toramado, Saro that earth's civilization was able to build the spaceship Pangu - the universe's greatest warship.
Y: Planet Toramado...?
Y!!: The Pangu is presently carrying out an operation. One meant to seek out the nest of the Outer Spacefish and destroy it.
Y: !! The spacefish..!!
Y!!: The abominable Outer Spacefish are humanity's... No! They are the enemy of every civilization in the universe!!
Y!!: The Outer Spacefish abide by a base instinct to "Assault Civilizations"!! My friend Saro's home planet of Toramado was destroyed because of them!!
Y!!: And now they've set their eyes on their next target - our homeworld Earth!!
Y!!: This is the mission of we Amada Yuus!!
Y!!: Eliminate the Outer Spacefish!! No matter how manny ages it takes! The Earth!! All to protect the the Earth...!!
Y!!: Ghaggh!! Hgahhgaoh!!
Y!!: The... The Pangu... has the ability to transform the happiness and the smiles of its crew into power...
Y!!: No matter how dire or agonizing the situation may get... Smile!
Y: I have no smile.
Y!: My sentiments exactly. His heart was stricken by the ills of heroism. Lungs were in bad shape too apparently.
Y!: Now then, onto the 15th's message.
Y: There's still more...?
Y!!!: Amada Yuu's 15th clone err... Amada speaking. Erm... You see...
Y!!!: ...the Earth has been destroyed. That is information verified by the observation surveys carried out after communcations had ceased.
Y!!!: It seems like the spacefish got them. We didn't make it in time.
Y!!!: Still... calling it home doesn't really strike anything in me... In any case, there really is nothing else to do. My generation has decided to continue with searching for the spacefish nest but... I implore for the generations that follow to do whatever pleases them. Look for a habitable planet... Suicide might be a fine choice too.
Y!!!: Why did he decide to this alone? The First... wasn't right in the head. We can't even turn this into migration ship even if we wanted to.
Y!!!: Haaah...... Phhh. Heh...
Y!: Do you get it now? The state of things.
Y: No. I don't.
Y!: Hahah. I had that very same reaction a long time ago too. Start with coming to terms with the idea that humanity is completely out for the count first.
Y!: With this my busine- GHACK!! The medicine's worn off huh... PGHPHGACK!!
Y!: My business here is now concluded with this PGHAGH!! The "Sucession" is complete.
Y!: The exit is to your left. Do whatever you like.
Y!: I recommend suicide. There is nothing left after all.
Y!: Give Saro my regards.
S: Hey there. Sorry about the rough escort. Have you got a grip on the sistuation, Yuu-kun?
Y: ...you really don't eat kids?
S: Ehh!? Me? I don't! I'm a silicon based lifeform you know?
Y: I didn't know what that last part meant but it was then that I felt that Saro had a peculiar charm to him.
S: Well then, what will you do now? I can bring you back to the housing complex if that's what you want.
Y: It calmed me down.
Y!: They exist solely to protect Amada Yuu within the confines of the cocoon that is the housing complex.
Y: I'm not going back...
S: Alrighty. Come with me. I'll take you the living quarters in the Pangu's core that the generation of operators used. You're the king of Pangu from today onwards.
S: This here is Ice. This is the robot that will be taking care of your needs.
I: I am Ice. It is good to meet you, Yuu-sama.
Y: My predecessor was just, a predecessor. I heard from Saro he died after.
Y: ...the housing complex was also just a housing complex. I had no intention of going back and I realized that it was not a place for me to go back to.
Y: Nothing on the outside. Nothing on the inside. An endless void.
Y: I stayed in the living quarters that all Yuus before me passed their time in. I spent that time doing nothing worthwhile. At some point I continued on with my education at Ice's suggestion. I had time to kill.
Y: Why are you joining in?
S: I get bored too.
Y: And then a year passed us by
Y: A spacefish showed up
S: You listening? Yuu!!
Y: Pangu moves the way you will it to! But in order to communicate that will to Pangu's AI it's going to use up a lot of your mental energy!!
Caption: Pangu Forehead Section - Combat Operations Room
S: Since it's your first time I don't recommend drawing out the fight!! Finish it in a flash!!
Y: It was then with that one strike from me and Pangu
Y: That something in me crumbled to pieces along with the spacefish. Something came loose.
Y: Pangu draws its power from the smiles and happiness of its crew.
Y: Hha Hah Haaa
Y: I was far and away from feeling happy when I fought but the new Amada Yuu was already in the housing complex.
S: The space the housing complex is in was modeled on the first Amada Yuu's boyhood environment. The robots there received an order from him. "Bless the clones with happiness". They do all they can to stay faithful to it.
S: Even when those things come around, they still act all hardheaded about it!! Even since what happened with the 15th they've been saying "Yuu is not going to the operations room"!!
Y: They probably think it's only going to turn that happiness upside down.
S: You decide what goes on with you and Pangu but Pangu's stewardship falls to me. AIs are just machines after all. Doesn't matter how ornery they get, they're still just simulators in the end!! Philosophical Zombies!! There's no way I can let their kind make the decisions!!
Y: And that gets you all riled up? Ahaha.
Y: Doesn't matter how ornery they get... just simulators huh...
A: Give Yuu back...!! That child is our...
Y: Our... What was she going to say? I couldn't that face out of my head.
S: They're a nuisance but we don't have to worry about leaving it to them. They're good at keeping kids amused. The Pangu is strong.
Y: In the 10 years since then
Y: Pangu certainly proved its invincibility.
Y: I had become a young man and I had become accustomed to battle but
Y: Hah Haa
Y: Feels like we've been running into spacefish a little more often. They seem to be getting stronger and stronger too.
S: The encounter rate aside, the enemies' strength shouldn't have risen at all. The cause for the change... it's probably because of the housing complex.
Y: The housing complex?
Y!!!!: Ghhoh! Hghoh!!
Y!!!!: I want to go to the festival...
A: That's going to depend on how you're feeling tomorrow. Rest up and get better first.
Y: The Amada Yuu after me collapsed. The lung disease that the First had got to him.
Y: When it shows up is random. It could come at the age of 10 and it could come at 50. There was no cure. It was that obscure a disease. It was one reason among others why the First began this essentially suicidal journey.
Dummy: First Dummy No. 83
Y: Us clones will go forth hand in hand with the First's desperation for a long, long time.
Dummy: One more time! Go to hell!!(Motivational voice)
Y: He's about the same age as me back then. Aren't you going to kidnap him?
S: I'll let him pass this time. You're still holding up well too.
Y: After years of fighting the illness, my successor's short life ended and he died a young boy.
Y: The housing complex residents who lost their Yuu hung their heads low in silence. It was almost as if they really did...
S: Playing sad now? Sure are a dedicated bunch. There's not even anyone around to watch their little act.
Y: We're peeking right now aren't we?
Y: It wasn't long till the housing complex started raising a new Amada Yuu. The Pangu regained its strength.
Y:... mmngh ...?
I: Good morning, Yuu-sama.
Y: Morning, Ice.
I: Could I trouble you to come to the monitoring room?
Y: Hm? Sure...
Y: Time passed since I took up the Pangu's reins - 23 years.
Y: What is it Saro?
S: We've found the Outer Spacefish nest.
Y: And the time passed since the first Amada yuu set out on this journey - roughly 500 years.
Y: The day has come
S: That planet is there. That's the nest of the spacefish.
Y: ...to be honest, I was thinking that it'd be good if we never found it. Even if it was just routine and all it did was make number of years go up. We'd lose something to do after all.
S: ...........I have to apologize to you. No...
S: I have to apologize to all of you humans.
S: That planet is my home planet of Toramado. The spacefish... they were developed by the Toramado government... They're weapons.
Y: ...but I heard that the spacefish destroyed planet Toramado...
S: ...let me tell you the whole story.
S: The spacefish, they have a disposition to seek out and attack all civilizations except for Toramado. The Toramado government were afraid that they'd be invaded by other planets so they decided they needed to launch their preemptive strikes to prevent such attacks. That's why they made them look like natural but extreme lifeforms.
Y: The hell... that's a scary concept for a weapon.
S: It's often the biggest cowards that take the most radical actions.
S: I opposed that government's decision to create spacefish and left planet Toramado by myself. Eventually I drifted my way to Earth... and became friends with Amada Yuu.
S: I told him a lie. I told him that my home planet of Toramado was destroyed by the spacefish. The reason I told them that was... I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to gain their trust if they knew I came from the planet that created the spacefish.
S: And so I borrowed the power of the earthlings to make Pangu and went on the journey to slay the spacefish together with Amada Yuu.
Y: Saro was probably the one to make it so that the Pangu would be powered by the crew's happiness and smiles. I thought it was strange for there to be restriction like that at all. It might have been put in place out of consideration for the clones that were dragged into the First's suicidal journey.
Y: ...it must have been tough.
S: It doesn't compare in the least to what you all have to endure. ...I'm sorry for keeping it from you...
S: Now then. We've prepared a supermass bullet for this moment. Please shoot it. The spacefish control mechanism lies at the very core of the planet.
S: Please fire the supermass bullet at the center of planet Toramado and blow it to bits.
Y: ...hold it.
S: The spacefish are the enemy of every civilization in the universe.
Y: But Toramado's...!! Your speceies live there don't they!? Right now!! Right there!! If I fire something like that mass bullet into the planet's core it's going to send megaquakes through the planet's crusts! The surface will...
S: ...Do it! Please...!!
I: Spacefish incoming!! 54 bogeys! ETA to contact is 27 hours from now!!
Y: Mmngh!! ...
I: This... One is coming in fast!! Such speed... A hyperspeed unit is approaching!! ETA to contact is 2 hours from now!!
S: The Stellarmass Cannon takes 3 hours to deploy!! We'll have to take out the hyperspeed unit first and then fire off the Stellarmass Cannon before any more of those things arrive!!
Y: GHHAUGH!! GAH GPHHUH PHGAAH!!
Y: Damnit... Why now... of all the... times!!
S: Yuu!! Are you okay Yuu!?
Y: GHHKK GHUGH GHEGH!!
I: Mnh!! It's slower than the one before but another hyperspeed unit is making its approach!!
I: ETA to contact is 4 hours from now!
S: That's cutting it close! Yuu! We have to get the cannon ready!
S: I'm sorry Yuu... There's no measuring the weight of the karma you'll be burdened with. It's monstrous but please... Toramado has to... The spacefish must be stopped...
Y: Ice GHAGH
I: Yes, Yuu-sama?
Y: Put the housing complex up on display...
Y: Oneichan's here protecting me so there's nothing to be afraid of.
I: Impact confirmed... The spacefish have ceased functions...
I: The wreckage will be processed as per procedure momentarily but the autopilot will...
S: You have no heart and yet you have the gall to feign sympathy. It's revolting. What would you know. Damned machine.
I: No... I may not, but you do...
Y: His succession handover went much more smoothly than it did with me. The next Yuu who should have been about the same age as the me of that time wore a muted expression unbefitting of his youth after hearing about the state of things.
Y: I'm going back to the housing complex... he told me.
Y: ...this sort of reaction probably wasn't the first. I saw off the new child king of Pangu as turned his back to me and left. I made my way through a passageway hidden in the records room towards the "Slumbering Room".
Y: GHEGH GHAUGH
A: ...welcome back...
A: You must be exhausted. Time you get some rest.
Y: ... yeah.
Y: So you replicated the bedroom from the housing complex... It's well made...
Y: GHEHG GHOGH
A: This place is located within the Pangu's core but me and the housing complex me at the head make adjustments to it from time to time to keep it in sync.
Y: The housing complex me...?
Y: ...right. So you have two bodies, one here and one there. Yuu should have returned back to the housing complex by now. Do you know why that is...?
Y!!!!!: Please begin making female clones. Male clones as well. As many as you can. Also, prepare varieties of environments, as many as possible. We need them to accummulate whatever acquirable genetic mutations we can get.
Y!!!!!: ...but that may not be enough... what do we do then...
Y!!!!!: ...we'll go to Earth. I don't know what kind of state it's now but if it's habitable...
Y!!!!!: My predecessor... He went so far as to destroy planet Toramado to put an end to the fight against the spacefish.
Y!!!!!: So now, I'll do whatever it takes... to make sure humanity doesn't meet its end...!
Y: ...we came all the way here to see a new "First" being born... Still... going back to the Earth... That's going round in circles... like those ants...
A: That bug's already been fixed. We made it look a bit more random now.
Y: Ghhkk... GHAUGH GHEGH
Y: ...Haah... I'm... a little tired... Think I'll get some sleep...
Y: Goodnight... Oneicha...
A: Goodnight. Yuu.
A: Our everything...
Y: I had thought that there was an endless nothingness outside the housing complex. But it turned out there was a world outside.
Y: A world of stars.
Caption: Into the Void(END)
"Into the Void"
"The Wandering World - Pangu" was the working title going through the end but I think "Into The Void" made for a more fitting one. That said, using "Into The Void" as the title of the anthology wouldn't mesh well with the vibe of the other works in the book so I left in the "The Wandering World" bit.
I wanted to try my hand at long oneshot story and look at the 74 pages that came out of it. Counting in the draft too, it took nearly four months to draw. I had other work going on at the same time so it was tough and took a lot of time.
Still, I had a lot of fun drawing the spacefish. Fact is that a mere mangaka tends not to like having to draw but seems like I enjoy drawing gigantic things. The robot was a failure design-wise though. It had to be super gigantic enough to fit the housing complex on its head but at the same time it needed to also look like a proper robot. It was that line of thought that led to that half-assed form. I really should have thought out the design more to my liking without getting too detailed.
Contents-wise, the idea that kicked it all off was the image of a gigantic fish heading towards a housing complex only for an even more gigantic arm to come flying out at it and knock it away. In the end, that scene didn't go any further than the opening and the story went to a really far off place because of its expanded scale.
The contents were serious from start to finish and drawing the draft fed back into it so I'm feeling pretty satisfied with it. I didn't really have the readers in mind making it though(content and volume-wise) so I guess it must have been pretty taxing on you guys. It did tire you out, right?
And with that, thank you very much for reading through Mizukami Satoshi's Anthology "The Wandering World".