A note from staff
After having started work on this in late 2017, it is done – a complete translation of 2075: Meister Titano’s Counterattack, as seen in the pages of Tokusatsu Hiho Vol. 5 (ISBN: 4800311276). Written by Yukiko Takayama, the same screenwriter behind 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla, and featuring two pieces of art by Shinji Nishikawa, this 7-chapter story takes place 100 years after the events of the movie and centers around Titanosaurus – now revived as a cyborg monster named “Meister Titano” – and an undersea colony of humans and robots. It’s a tale of discovery, sadness, and acceptance, and of course it has plenty of nods to the 1975 movie.
HUGE thanks to Noah Oskow for undertaking this massive translation project; to John LeMay and his fantastic book, The Lost Films (ISBN: 1548145254), I would have never found out about this story without it; to LSD Jellyfish in the forums for looking into translating early on; and especially to Ryu in the forums, a very passionate and patient individual who is the primary reason this story saw a translation to begin with.
~ Joshua S.
2075: Meister Titano’s Counterattack
Shinji Nishikawa = images
A “brand new” SF novella written down by Terror of Mechagodzilla screenwriter Yukiko Takayama
A glittering evening sky moves onwards towards night, a violet dusk stretching across the heavens.
Soon, in just ten or twenty seconds more, the stars would be twinkling…
But in the mind of the Doctor, letting himself sink into his huge leather-covered sofa, his eyes closed, those minutes could have stretched many times longer.
“Ahh, this moment…”
He contrived to control the fluid flow of the falling grains in an hour glass, bending it to his will.
He was indulging in a specific sensation humans have managed to develop.
Just like a a boy who takes the strawberry cake in front of him and stuffs it into his mouth in a single bite, bending time to stretch out the moment when the cream melts so slowly but steadily inside of his mouth.
But no matter how much one curves time, the end will arrive.
In the end all this was nothing but an illusion. Nonetheless, the Doctor had been able to properly enjoy the violet glow of the sunset, and he was satisfied.
Looking upwards, the ceiling above him was but a mass of concrete, just as were the walls and the floor of the room he occupied.
The ceiling had been ornamented with the subtle colors of the cobalt (Co27) used in the composition of the building materials, but in the end it was all simply a mass of inorganic matter. He knew that even now, if he were to press a button on his desk, an entire sky full of stars would surely stretch out before him… But even such an ornamentation as that, if allowed to become matter-of-fact, would not set his heart to dancing as had the planetarium he had seen in his youth.
From amongst the tightly-packed throng of buildings on the coastal areas of Tokyo City, the one that most draws the eyes is a single structure that seems to rise, half-submerged, from the sea itself. This building is the headquarters of a corporation held under the umbrella of the Cobalt Excavation listing.
The buildings of this period, rather than boasting of their height above the ground, instead extended deeper into the confines of the earth — just like how an iceberg shows only its smallest part above water, while its true mass lies hidden underneath the waves.
The Doctor sat amidst a huge panel chair whose wonderful appearance brought to mind the image of a cockpit stretching out underground, the seat like some fused captain’s chair.
There was nothing to report at the moment. Everything was going well.
At the beginning of the century, beginning with Methane clathrate, the hope for a vast amount of valuable mineral resources – the so-called rare metals – began to be held by more and more people. These ambitions were focused on the area from the Izu-Ogasawara Trench, which connects southwards with the Japan Trench, to the Nankai Trough, and all throughout the vicinity around Japan.
The hydrothermal vents on the seafloor are covered in wide-rangingly useful metals, and around the vents are built up massive “chimneys” that reach as high as ten meters, resulting in deposits of usable ores. There slumber huge amounts of important resources that no one had yet to get their hands on.
And yet, the extraction of these would take even more time. Even the towering Himalaya mountain range, if sunk under the sea upside-down, would fail to touch the bottom of the seas where these chimneys lie near such precipitous cliffs, and would simply sink into the depths.
What did rapidly advance, however, was something that came about because of the evolution in artificial intelligence.
The emergence of robots that could think for themselves and could carry out problem solving meant that those problems that made the extraction so difficult could be dealt with.
A private firm began to undertake extensive excavation of these resources.
In short, the power of science was forced to grow until it could be properly connected to economic efficiency.
With the discovery of so many valuable mineral-bearing ore deposits within the area around Japan, more than 20 major deep-sea excavation factories sprung up.
Seven years ago, the chemical element no. Co27 cobalt, which had been said not to exist in the seas around Japan, was discovered. This silvery-white metal was slumbering at the very point where the Japan Trench continued into the Izu-Ogasawara Trench. A major corporation acquired the rights of interest to it, going as far as to establish a deep-sea excavation factory.
The Doctor had taken over the position of general manager for this company a year ago.
Since then, his office has been this command center in the excavation center 2,000 meters deep under the sea.
The lower reaches of the factory were a further 3,000 meters deeper, at the very site of the excavation of the protruding cobalt minerals, wrapped in the darkness of the abyss.
Every day, many thousands of tons of rocks were mined from the site. These are carried to the deep-sea factory where they are refined, and then sent to the surface.
“Those thousands of robotic individuals that support the company…”
Muttering this, a unspeakably wry smile floated onto the Doctor’s mouth.
He was wondering if one should should refer to robots as though they were living individuals or simply inanimate objects.
A thousand robotic individuals, or a thousand robot units…
Images of the forms of those robots who worked in the deep sea flashed through his mind.
80% of those things that toiled in the abyss did not have the form of a human. Things that excavate, things that set the gunpowder, things that looked like tanks and carried rocks, and things that probed the ore deposits using a pointed edge made from water pressure…
But whether their forms were different or not, all the robots were possessed of intelligence beyond that of humans.
In short, the things called robots in this era were things that possessed artificial intelligence.
They thought by themselves, and learned by themselves. They learned, and when they had become possessed of a large enough vocabulary, their knowledge would become even deeper, allowing them to reason, to make deductions… Perhaps they even engaged in flights of fancy, thought upon the future, and dreamed.
Suddenly, the Doctor felt as though something cold had run down his back.
Thinking, learning… Didn’t that mean they had something we could call a “soul?”
The doctor felt a small shudder go through him as he muttered:
“Robots that have their own souls…”
The Doctor’s handsome face took on a slightly warped expression.
This was because a doubt had welled up inside him. If the robots possessed their own souls… and if robots likely had their power sources blithely cut once they’d run out their usefulness…
The Doctor stood up, as if to shake this thought off. He had raised his voice loud enough as to surprise even himself.
“Mere worthless delusions that serve no useful purpose.”
After all, once the Doctor had accepted his position as the general manager of the Cobalt Excavation listing, he had likely also gained the right of decision regarding the cutting of robotic power sources. No, rather, he had in fact accepted the duty to do so…
The robots that worked in the deep-sea excavation factory were built to specifications that matched the work assigned to them. Arms, legs, heads; they need not adhere to such anthropomorphic parts. Their sizes were similarly diverse, with some being possessed of gigantic bodies weighing more than ten tons.
From amongst these, it was the deep-sea excavation robot U-Types whose form most resembled those of humans.
The form of the U-Type was human-shaped, and its vocation was to perform the daily servicing of labor robots. It was tasked with the mission of making the robots’ lifestyles more comfortable and to befriend them.
This was all so that the robots would not forget about humans, down there in the dark depths of the sea. All so that they would maintain a self-consciousness of humans as beings of the utmost kindness.
On occasion, humans would make visits to the Factory.
The Factory was an immense dome, fully-equipped with a pipe that connected it to the world above the waves. Even so, it would be hard for humans to call a depth of 20,000 meters especially comfortable.
A year ago, the Doctor, having taken on the job of general manager, made a visit there.
Initially, with the Doctor acting as though he meant to shake hands with every single robot, U-Type Little-1 (One) was left fully in anticipation, nervously rubbing at its pants with its palm.
But just the act of shaking hands with the supreme commander of the deep-sea excavation factory, Meister Titano, caused this entire event to be curtailed in a hurry.
At a location some tens of meters removed, Little-1, staring up at the dais from the line-up of his fellow robots, felt disappointed. And yet he seemed to grasp why this had transpired.
Compared to the Doctor, who measured not even two meters in height, the decorous and majestic form of Meister Titano, many tens of times larger than the Doctor, had been quite the splendid sight to see…
The recreation room had a small one-room library adjoining it.
Little had opened up a tome by the name of “The History of Livings Things.”
“The earth, which had been born 4,500,000,000 years ago….”
It is known that there is a theory that states that life already existed 4,500,000,000 years ago.
“Ah, so life first began in the sea.”
That first form of life had been called bacteria.
Little, full of intrigue, began voraciously turning the pages.
The creatures had evolved to move from the sea onto land, continuously changing.
He kept on turning page after page…
Suddenly, his eyes jolted to a stop.
A huge, eye-catching creature was drawn on the page in front of him.
In large letters, the text besides the image read “the epoch of the dinosaurs.”
Ahh… What a magnificently attractive creature this was.
Its long neck sturdily supported its skull, and its hind legs which supported its body, so full of symmetry, were rippling with muscle. Finally, its long, mighty tail seemed to grant its whole body a wonderful balance.
The scales which covered its skin seemed to shine brighter than any armor.
Little-1 let out another sigh of admiration.
“Truly, a beautiful exemplar of creation.”
And not only that. It seemed so similar in form…
To Meister Titano.
U-Type Little-1 was ascending from the depths of the sea. Up and up and up…
It was not as though Little-1 was running away from the excavation factory. He did not feel even a shred of an impulse to flee his station. Rather, what had guided him away from the factory was curiosity. A curiosity he could not deny or suppress.
In his ears reverberated the words of Meister Titano…
The time zone at the seafloor dome moved synchronously with time in the world above.
This was despite the lack of morning or night caused by the dark environment that surrounded the dome.
Even so, there was a giant clock affixed in the central hall. Although the internal chronological mechanisms inside of each robot made this clock superfluous, it served its purpose as a sort of course-corrector by which they could come to know the way life was being lived on the surface. Once the needle reached the dial emblazoned on the top of the big circle, it was time for their beloved noon break.
That day, Meister Titano had approached Little-1. His conversation was always a source of true value for his interlocutors, always allowing for tales of the unknown outside world and history to unfold before them as though right in front of their eyes. The U-types, with their frames just like those of boys and girls, would let out a happy cry and gather around his massive body.
One from amongst these had asked the following.
“Hey, does this ocean that surrounds us have an end to it?”
“Yes, I do believe so.”
Titano had answered.
“East, West, South, or North, no matter which of the cardinal directions you decide to move out towards, you will encounter great cliffs rising up from the ocean floor. Not only this, but if you go up and up here in the sea that encircles us, your head will eventually pop up in a world of air completely unlike our water. There, on the face of the earth, are great fields, and mountains that are as tall as our oceanic abyss is deep.”
“Ahh, I know about this. I saw this map of the earth in the library. It’s super wide…”
Little-1’s eyes had sparkled.
“You’re quite the diligent student, aren’t you.”
Titano’s huge face suddenly lurched towards Little-1, his kindly eyes peering at him.
“To gain in knowledge is a commendable thing. Just as you say, the world is indeed very wide.”
The boys and girls nodded, looking up towards that world they had never seen.
“Mountains wreathed in green soar upwards, the sun sparkles, and when night falls, the moon, changing its shape from a full circle to a small crescent, shines a light on the darkness.”
The boys and girls listened with rapt attention.
Titano’s gaze moved towards the ceiling, as if suddenly thinking of something.
“However… I cannot truly say that even that is so comparatively expansive. Far above the atmosphere that envelopes the earth, the stars sparkle, and an endless, boundary-less space spreads ever outwards… Even higher… No, to say ‘even higher’ sounds strange. Rather, I should say we simply do not yet understand the extent of it.”
Little-1 stared at Titano, vibrating with inspiration.
“I’d really like to see that world. Flying through the space between the stars…”
Titao held his tongue, perhaps taken aback.
He was ashamed at having blurted out his feelings so unthinkingly.
But soon, restoring his usual dignity, the massive creature laughed.
“Hahaha, that’s but a dream within a dream. Every one of us who lives in this world has had their place in it predetermined.”
“But, I… I want to try going there.”
“Come now, the time for resting has ended. Go ahead and get back to your work. After all, our work here is done for the sake of all who live in this world.”
2,000 meters beneath the sea is a world of darkness.
Of course he knew about this darkness, but this was his first time directly touching this seawater.
He wanted to see that world Titano had told him about with his own eyes. This had fanned the flames of what had now become an unquenchable curiosity, one which had lured Little-1 out into the sea.
Gently, something brushed against his shoulders.
For a second, he thought he saw a shadow.
A shadow amongst a world of pure darkness was a rather strange concept. Perhaps it was just some fish swimming in the deep sea.
Little-1 was reminded of a story he had heard from an inspector who had returned from a excavation site at a depth of 50,000 meters.
“When I came back to the Factory, at times I would see, dimly, the faint outline of some fish in the water. That by itself is proof that even in the deep sea that some amount of sun was filtering down.”
“Ahh, the light of the sun…”
Little-1 felt his courage well up.
“The light, the sun, it’s guiding me…”
He used all of his body’s power, all that power, to push against the water. Upwards, upwards…
As his eyes became used to the darkness, he was able to notice the varied forms of the luminescent jellyfish around him.
The color around him had slowly changed.
On the reefs that jutted out on one side, sea sponges stuck to the walls, their giant tentacles stretching out, floating upwards, their color whitish.
“Ahh, I can see. I can see inside the sea.”
By stretching out his neck and looking all the way up, the world which had been so dark began to sparkle, turning into a shining world, spreading outwards. Light was filtering through the layer of blue water beyond.
A ray of light suddenly scattered about, setting the water all around his vision to sparkling, spreading out just like the cut ore he knew so well from the Factory. In the center of all this poured a white light, almost blindingly bright.
That must be the star called the Sun that the Meister had told him about… The star most close to the earth, around which the Earth maintained a fixed orbit…
“Ahh… How incredibly beautiful.”
He gazed at it for a time, moved by the sight.
But at that very moment, all of this, everything, was lost to Little-1.
Without him even having noticed it, the thing called “death” had arrived…
* * *
“Ahh, that was a close one. We almost let Little-1 get away.”
The Doctor was shaking violently.
Robots who abandoned their post were to be obliterated.
For the Company, which controlled the deep-sea excavation factory by telecommand, the first duty of all robots was to be obedient beyond anything else, no matter what occurred. For those that did not obey, there was no choice but to push the kill switch.
Despite all this, the Doctor had still hesitated for a moment as he observed Little-1’s crime of leaving the factory and fleeing towards the surface.
It had been a mere second of fleeing out to sea, and yet he somehow felt shaken.
It was perhaps that question of whether a robot possessed a soul or not that lead him astray.
The Doctor was supposedly a man who himself possessed a strong will.
He wasn’t supposed to believe in things as vague as a soul, and yet…
He remembered when he had visited the Factory, 2,000 meters below the sea, upon taking on his position as general manager last year.
As he had shook hands with Meister Titano on that dais in the great hall. Titano had bent down his gigantic body — half-beast, half-machine — and had dipped his head respectfully. The deepness of the color of those eyes he had briefly glimpsed had somehow stayed in his mind ever since.
Somehow, those eyes seemed to say that the ability for the robot to learn by itself and to grow by itself was inherent in Titano. He had come to theorize that this could only be explained by the base animalism that was part of Titano’s past, implicit in the nature of the core creation of thinking robots.
When he had tried to push the kill switch, could it have been Titano who had overcome that depth of 2,000 meters to try to stay his hand…?
The Doctor allowed this thought to be drowned out by others.
In the center of the meeting room stood a circular table built in the classical mahogany style that give off a dignified light.
The table was reserved for the use of the chairman, the director beneath him, the vice president, and the various of those who sat on the board of directors, and the Doctor had been granted a seat directly in front of the chairman himself.
“Thirteen at the circular table, huh.”
The Doctor moved around the table, muttering to himself.
So they mean to war with a god… That thought passed through his mind, but in this age, with these people in such a rush to accumulate wealth, he doubted these thirteen would have the elegance nor free time to bring such a thing to fruition.
The agenda for this day had to do with dealing with the U-Robots.
A U-Type Little-1 had fled the Factory without permission, swimming of his own accord towards the surface.
“For the moment it’s only a single unit, but it may well affect around a thousand of the factory robots. Shall we not nip this worrisome problem in the bud?”
One from amongst the board of directors stood up, turning to face the chairman.
“Is it not that we simply built these U-Types to resemble humans too closely?”
“By which you mean to say…?” asked the chairman.
“If they’re too similar to humans, it only makes sense that they would begin to feel unsatisfied with those things which are different for them from humans.”
The Doctor thought this was a vast leap and far too much of a one-sided opinion, but held back on stating as such. The Doctor felt that if he were to speak of the souls of robots or perhaps the unease that Titano had filled him with, he would only be putting himself at a disadvantage.
“Perhaps it also behooves us to cease creating them with such anthropomorphic forms, so that they might better understand what they truly are.”
The voices of all the other directors could be heard.
Eventually, it was decided that the 60 U-Type units that worked the seafloor factory would be dismantled, given up as failed products.
The Doctor cast his eyes downwards, refusing to voice his opinion.
It was then that the vice-president spoke towards the Doctor.
“Doctor, I believe you hesitated a moment when it came time to push the Little-1 unit’s kill switch.”
The Doctor, surprised, looked up.
“Even such a moment’s hesitation could easily have lead to a major accident.”
“Now, now, Mr. Vice-president.”
The Chairman’s mild face had crept its way into the conversation.
“We are not robots. For a human, a delay of mere seconds is merely something which cannot be avoided.”
The meeting ended with the sound of the chairman’s laughter.
Returning to his company quarters, the Doctor enveloped himself in his leather-bound chair, breathing a sigh of relief.
The Vice-President’s comments during the meeting had been on point.
He had indeed hesitated, even if just for a moment.
The Chairman had managed to save him by way of turning it into a joke, and yet…
It was not as though he could count on the Chairman to save him every time.
The Chairman had likely weighed the words of his vice-president, and had simply decided that the Doctor could still be of use.
“I have no desire to give this comfortable chair over to anyone.”
He felt this desire very strongly.
And what were his weak points or enemies compared to his ambition?
Surely it was the very weak-willed idea that these robots had souls that was his greatest enemy.
When he finally rose, he used his terminal to freely gather data.
Data about Titano.
An ancient creature had been discovered on the seafloor.
The scientist who had succeeded in installing its control device was…
* * *
A roar echoed in the deep…
Titano let forth an earth-shaking cry of sheer sadness, full of all his quivering rage at the merciless final moments of the U-Types.
At Titano’s feet lay a heap of broken-down metal that had once been young boys and girls.
When her blurry vision found its focus, the soft face of a woman was gazing at her.
Staring into her eyes.
“You can go home, Lady Kei.”
“It’s, your name.”
“You were sleeping.”
An hour later, L. (Lady) K. (Kei) set her feet down from her white-sheet ensconced bed onto the tile floor.
She felt somehow out of sorts, and yet she was able to stand up firmly and confidently.
“My legs, my body…”
She felt like some lost memory was just on the cusp of her awareness, and yet she could not recall what it was.
“You can take your time trying to remember.”
The nurse had said that, and yet…
She stood in front of the full-sized mirror situated on one side of the wall.
What she saw was, beyond a doubt, her own body. She even remembered that light pink shade of her skin.
“My body…It’s just as it was before I fell asleep.”
Muttering again, K happened to find her eyes fixed on the scar on her arm. The scar made it appear as though her skin, injured by a heat ray, had been duly stitched back together.
The gears of her memory began to grind backwards…
“Ah, what lies beneath this skin isn’t a body. It’s machinery…”
The memory came on like an assault.
It had been that day. That day when she had said, “please kill me.”
L.K. had been moved from her hospital room to a single in a glamorous hotel.
In the early afternoon, a knock came at the door.
The Doctor had come to visit her, a rose in his hand.
“It’s a good thing, getting used to this world.”
The nurse let out a boisterous laugh, then whispered quietly in L.K’s ear.
“This is the man who brought you back to life. He’s a military officer who belongs to the Company.”
The helicopter descended, its rotary wings reverberating as it headed towards the Miura Peninsula.
The terminal, situated as it was amidst a sea of green, became larger and larger as the helicopter approached.
As they landed, the white doors opened, soundlessly.
As the Doctor lowered his slight body down onto the ground, he held out his hand in a clearly learned gesture, catching L.K. in his arms as they touched down.
“It would seem you know this vehicle.”
“Yeah, that’s what I would imagine.”
Without asking her to elaborate, the doctor let out a burst of laughter, nodding. There surely had been some major changes that had occurred.
He guided them towards the headland of the peninsula.
“This is the place where you used to live with your father, the professor.”
“Yes… I suppose…”
“I’m guessing that neither the shape of the bay nor the waves that crash against it have changed all that much. But that’s because the nature we designate for preservation and the nature for we designate for destruction has been made so very distinct. This area might have scenery even beyond the lushness you may remember.”
“Yes, I see, but…”
“There’s no black-tailed gulls.”
Seeing the Doctor’s bewildered expression, L.K. raised her voice and laughed.
“I was just making a joke. Only, it might have been a century old joke.”
Since waking up from her slumber, L.K. had come to know that the majority of her body had been mechanized. Even so, she supposedly still had some of her human body remaining. The question was how much of that truly remained. Perhaps she was 20% human, or 10%, or maybe less than even a single percent. Considering this filled her with unease.
A door was revealed as the two walked around a huge rock that soared above its surrounding. This was an elevator that had been bored into the the cliff wall. It dropped them down 80 meters in a matter of only a few seconds. The place that they arrived in made her think of a palace carved of chalk. A shower room like that of a single room in a hotel was lined up as well.
Climbing up the stairs, the rock wall revealed an amazing view.
Everything was so breathtakingly beautiful…
The Doctor stared at L.K., whose surprise and delight shone on her face.
The view of her in her swimsuit was simply perfect.
Whether her beauty was something that had been built into her form, or something K had possessed since birth, the Doctor could not be sure.
“This is a practice zone for freediving. It’s a competitive sport in which you simply dive under the ocean in a straight line, but…”
L.K., having seated herself on a boulder, was staring intently into the azure waters of the sea. As she did so, she felt as though she could see a research vessel continuing down an unfathomable path. And all the marine organisms that cowered on the ocean floor… The control system her father had built that allowed communication between the mind and gigantic beasts, causing them to move in the way one wished… Memories from so very long ago all passed through her mind.
That was right… These were all the memories of a hundred years gone by. L.K. stretched out her spine as if to shake off these thoughts.
She began to be aware of the sound of the Doctor speaking.
“…They achieved a record of over 130 meters fifty years ago. However, it’s not a very active sport anymore. The reason is that the depths of the sea no longer mystify us as they once did. Science may have progressed, but what lies inside the human heart does not seem to be able to shift so swiftly. Rather, we might be able to say that the flesh has in fact degenerated. Recently, I’ve finally managed to overcome my plateau of 100 meters, but I doubt my personal record will get much better.”
The Doctor stared at L.K., his gaze soft and kindly.
Her lightly colored irises were beautiful.
“And yet, it may be exactly because we can’t do something that that thing has meaning…”
The Doctor was just about to continue while saying, “…for us humans,” but he quickly closed his mouth, swallowing his words.
He felt as though he had seen L.K.’s eyes cloud over.
She might have been more sensitive then he had realized. The Doctor stared at her again, this time attempting a more thorough observation.
L.K., seemingly having recovered her good mood, let out a burst of laughter.
“You’re acting quite considerately towards me, aren’t you?”
Leaving a pause, the Doctor spoke again.
“I… I know everything about you.”
“I read the data.”
“What do you mean by ‘the data?’”
“If we were to go to the central laboratory… you could see any data you might wish to.”
“Such a thing is…”
“Of course, it’s not as though just anyone can search through those files.”
“I found them by complete chance.”
L.K. scanned the skies as though searching for words with which to reply, but still her silence lingered.
The Doctor took her arm, pulling her closer to him and peering deeply into her eyes.
“But your soul is that of a human. And that’s the very thing that makes a human what they are.”
“One hundred years ago, you were crying, weren’t you? As you told the person you loved to kill you.”
“I read that phrase over and over again.”
“You need not say anything. Your soul is that of a human.”
Gently, the Doctor pulled L.K.’s body into an embrace.
He would make her understand. He would bend time itself…
Surely L.K. would feel this moment had lasted an entire eternity.
It was at this time that the terminal hidden by the towel affixed on an out-of-the-way part of her body began to blink on and off.
Twenty minutes later, the helicopter bearing the two of them was heading towards the coast.
Despite the emergency call, the Doctor had still brought her back to her hotel room.
L.K. was looking over the deep crimson roses that he been set on the glass of her table…
The scenery of that cape, seen for the first time in a hundred years, kept appearing in her mind.
It had been a wonderful time.
The sea, the sky, and the forests… That clean, fragrant scent that had filled her lungs and her heart…
And then she had a dream…
She was carried away, lost in the Doctor’s embrace…
He had told her that her soul was the very soul of a human.
Despite all the that, the question of “why” kept on welling up in her heart.
Why had she awoken from her century-long slumber?
Perhaps she had in fact been made to wake up.
A nurse had shown her to her high-class hotel after she had awoken in that hospital.
And then, the Doctor.
Everything seemed to be connected in some sort of circle.
“But for what purpose?”
Suddenly, with the harsh sound following a shockwave, L.K. was sent flying from the sofa.
The ground itself was shaking.
Her arms, outstretched in panic, grasped only air, as she felt her field of vision slide into nothingness…
* * *
It looked just like an underground fortress.
Within the giant circular dome, uniformed people were moving about restlessly.
The terminals densely set into the surrounding walls flickered like uncountable stars in a sky.
The 260 large screens set into the ceiling broadcast a single, huge video. This video, its reverberations shaking the very dome itself, was for the benefit of overwhelming them with a view of the advancing robots.
“Could this perhaps… be a movie? This era’s style of movie?”
L.K., who had lost consciousness following being hit by the shockwave in the hotel, had awoken inside of a car speeding down an expressway. The car had entered a long underground tunnel, and had then taken her to this dome.
The image on the screen was stuttering.
The giant walls crumbled as the ground shook. From the cracks gushed water, and suddenly the screen had filled with water. The robots, in battle mode, converged on the rapids.
Just then, she thought she had caught sight of some gigantic creature just behind the screen.
She looked over her shoulder towards the source of this sudden voice. The form of the Doctor was suddenly standing close to her.
His eyes, with those lightly colored irises, came in close to K’s face.
“Are you alright?”
Such feelings seemed inappropriate to the situation, but she couldn’t help thinking how beautiful his eyes were…
At that moment, a shockwave raced through her entire body, from her feet to the crown of her head, and L.K.’s body was flung into the air. The Doctor, still standing his ground, caught her firmly in his arms.
A harsh siren began to blare throughout the dome.
* * *
While Titano, spearheading the mobile robot troops, whipped up a surge of sea spray towards Tokyo Bay, the fully forces of the mechanical beasts made themselves known. Suddenly, the coastal industrial areas of Tokyo and Yokohama were wreathed in flames, ominous smoke billowing up to the skies. All the while, individual unit by individual unit, the robots collapsed, felled by the Company’s remote controls.
Each time a robot fell, Titano let out a shuddering roar, and increased his savagery.
He crossed the Tama River estuary, and began to head towards the city center.
Within moments, Haneda Airport was no longer operative. Technological innovation had made the runway usable, with takeoffs and touchdowns happening at intervals of every few seconds on the ten different concurrent 5,000 meter runaways, but these were being reduced to mere rubble underneath Titano’s feet.
The central station towards the north of the airport had become a symbol of Tokyo following its construction in 2060. The ultra-sonic maglev bullet train had become a main aorta of the archipelago.
But when faced with the Titano’s wrath, all resistance was futile. The maglev cars he hoisted aloft were like mere animal crackers to him, to be bent and manipulated with ease.
The bombers which had been sent on emergency dispatch bathed Titano in bullets.
Throughout this all, the battle in the center of the city gave no quarter for those humans who found themselves caught up in its fury.
* * *
The lights were cut, and for a moment the dome was blanketed in darkness.
The emergency lights blinked on a few seconds later, revealing L.K. huddled against a wall. The Doctor had moved quickly to help her, but she could still feel a mechanical buzz reverberating in her ears like some form of tinnitus.
The Doctor took her, hand-in-hand, to his office, but his expression was like stone.
“I should have told you sooner.”
“What do you mean, tell me?”
“I should have told you about the robot rebellion at the Deep Sea Excavation Factory. We had assumed we had more time, but their movements were simply too quick. The first explosion came…”
“You had lost consciousness in your hotel… What happened afterwards is exactly as you saw on the screen. It all means that Titano’s intelligence has progressed at an astounding rate.”
“A marine organism you knew well. Although he’s now known as Meister Titano.”
So that shadow she had so briefly glimpsed really had been the very same from a hundred years earlier… And yet…
“The origin of all this was the obliteration of one robot with the form of a young boy who had escaped the Undersea Excavation Factory. Eventually the Company decided upon dismantling the entire U-type stock, viewing them as a failed product. The supreme commander of the thousands of robots who worked in the factory, Titano, gave out a terrible cry of rage, and set the rebellion into action. The explosions on the coast were carried out by those robot troops under Titano’s command.”
“You say that Titano is the one who brought about this rebellion. But if this Titano is the same creature I used to know, he should have a very docile nature. For someone like him to command an army of rebellion…”
“Ah, that’s correct. Or it was a hundred years ago, at least. But for Titano, everything has changed in the intervening century. Because now, Titano is a mechanical beast with the intelligence of a human.”
“A mechanical beast…”
A sudden thought welled up inside of L.K.’s mind.
Perhaps she had been awoken for the purpose of this very battle.
“Doctor, you told me you had come upon my data by complete accident.”
“Perhaps it wasn’t as much of an accident as you say… Perhaps while hypothesizing upon this battle, the research data you were reading through lead you directly to me.”
“All carried out in order to discover Titano’s weakness.”
“It’s nothing as simple as all that.”
The Doctor answered in a voice that seemed to be struggling to exit his throat. His hand went to a terminal and flipped a switch.
Instantaneously, a screen opened.
Multitudes of Titanos roared upon the various screens set into the wall. He had suddenly shown his gargantuan self. The mechanical beast had given himself over to fury, becoming rather a beast of destruction, trampling upon all structures in front of him. Flames were burning upwards towards a sky blanketed by dark smoke.
L.K. stared, transfixed by the display in front of her.
Over half of Titano’s body was covered in machinery. Despite this, there was no mistaking the creature she had once known.
“They turned you into a beast of destruction…”
On the screen, heat rays flew about, bursts of flames billowing upwards. The industrial zones were destroyed. The sparkling white bridge that spanned the waters off Shinagawa was transformed, all too quickly, to mere scrap metal.
From behind L.K., opposite the screens, the Doctor’s voice sounded darkly.
“I don’t believe U-Type Little-1 was attempting to start an insurrection or anything like that. He probably just set out into the sea out of pure curiosity, hoping to see the outside world. For a human child, that’s something that would be considered completely normal. But we couldn’t forgive something like that. You could call it the arrogance of humanity… But now, we have no choice but to win. Titano’s rebellion may be against a single corporation, but if this chain reaction is allowed to continue its progression…”
L.K. cut him off.
“His weakness was towards supersonic waves.”
“We already tried that.”
L.K. stared at the Doctor. Her feeling that it really had been as she suspected grew.
“Doctor, you knew about it. You knew everything.”
The creature she had controlled a century earlier. The circuits her father had envisioned and which had been completed by that visitor from space. It had been hooked up to K’s brain, thus perfecting the control mechanism.
The Doctor had known about it.
“You… You want my circuits, don’t you…”
The Doctor’s face, staring at K, was an earnest one.
“It’s just as you say. I knew everything. I gathered all the data and refined a strategy for this battle. I intended to use you as a pawn in that battle.”
“But what I told you at the coast was the truth. That your soul is that of a human. And then I felt this sympathy with you, and we shared that dreamlike time together.”
“Please, don’t say anything more…”
On L.K.’s downturned face, tears ran the length of her cheek.
Then L.K. finally turned her face to stare at the Doctor, and then she spoke, enunciating each word.
The Doctor said nothing in reply.
Finally, he muttered a few words.
“I… refuse… to let you die…”
The voice that said those words was so quiet it was almost impossible to discern.
The anesthetic should have been working properly by now, but L.K. was feeling her consciousness slip away under the barrage of an intense headache…
She wondered how much time had passed.
Slowly, she regained consciousness…
Still, the area around her was simply too quiet.
She slowly stood up, but found not a single person.
Gingerly, she stepped out into the corridor, but there too she found no sign of humanity.
L.K., wondering how the battle had gone, halted for just a moment where she stood.
This quiet, it could mean…
But in this moment, she felt that either result would be fine by her.
But beyond that, she had something she had to do.
She made herself concentrate. The thing she needed to search for was so very far away, and she could sense only but the faintest of signals from it.
She ran down the corridor, making her way to the subterranean tunnels. Once she continued onwards to the caverns, she knew there was supposed to be a submarine waiting for her.
All this she knew from the map of the labyrinthine subterranean tunnels that she had stolen from the Doctor’s mind at the last moment.
In order to retrieve her circuitry, she had undergone a surgery that had seemingly ransacked the contents of her head – and yet the records were all still safely within storage.
L.K., jumping into the submarine, was brought instantaneously down into the depths of the sea.
For some reason, the Doctor’s words rose once again in her thoughts. He had said that he had overcome that hundred-meter plateau in his free diving. And he had said that “it may be exactly because we can’t do something that that thing has meaning,” and had said “for us humans…” before swallowing whatever words he had meant to continue with.
But this was something L.K. could do.
Precisely because she wasn’t human.
A thousand meters… Twenty thousand meters… She set her course towards that faint signal.
Suddenly, she was swamped by a violent shockwave.
The waves had become like huge ripples, crashing down again and again, shaving off and collapsing parts of reefs, the jumble of which had crashed directly into the submersible. Knocked about like a leaf in a storm, the sturdy walls of the submersible, made with all the principles of modern science, were torn asunder, the submarine sucked into the center of a maelstrom…
Perhaps, this would be the end of her battle…
This time, too, had ended in human victory.
Just as she had that thought, L.K. felt her consciousness fade away, and she knew no more…
When she came to, it seemed she was at the bottom of the deep sea.
Even for L.K., this degree of water pressure was unbearable. She could feel the pressure, already nearly at the point of bursting her lungs.
Suddenly, she became aware of something supporting her.
Its gargantuan head drew close, a huge, black eye – larger than L.K.’s head – peering at her.
His face jerked towards her, as if trying to recall some lost memory.
Coming more to her senses, L.K. realized that she was lying, stretched out upon Titano’s palm.
But Titano said not a word.
As she glanced about his gargantuan body, she saw that the majority of his robotic parts had been destroyed. It seemed the life-force inherent in his original form as a living being was the only thing keeping him, just barely, alive. That life, too, it seemed, was nearing its final moments.
L.K. began to speak to Titano, who sat wordless.
“I betrayed you then too, a hundred years ago. And now, a century later, it seems I’ve only betrayed you again… But now, here, at the bottom of the sea, we’ll be together… always…”
A luminescent jellyfish flitted by, disappearing into darkness like some shooting star.
Within L.K.’s body, her life-support system gave out, never making a sound.