Space sure is desolate tonight.
Well, "tonight". In a manner of speaking. It's sleep time soon, which doesn't mean it's night, since the star shines bright on the sky and all. But... even to this day, centuries after Aragami took to space, those figures of speech remain.
It's strange to think about it. They say mankind fought against extinction, that planetbound Aragami threatened our survival like no other thing had done before. And then one day... they up and left, no questions asked.
Must have been weird days, to see that your life was in danger permanently, and then they all vanish, just like that. First few weeks were chaotic, Fenrir almost collapsed on itself not once, not twice, but four times, and plenty of riots broke out. Apparently people's ability to put up with bullshit is reduced when they're not in constant danger. Who'd've known.
Since Fenrir's sole purpose, both stated and in the people's minds, was to fight Aragami, they decided to track Aragami to wherever they'd gone and get rid of them. They were our trouble, and we would solve it, or so they claimed. And so we arrive to the present day. It's been a couple hundred years now. Give or take like ten, I'm not keeping the damn count. God Arcs haven't changed much, surprisingly. Still oversized clunks of metal. Turns out there's only so much power you can compress into the Oracle Cells before the buggers just... explode. And take the surrounding mile or two of research facilities and wilderness, while at it.
God Eating's optional, people's overall life quality has vastly improved, and we hit space. Yeah. Not much to talk about.
Acheron. A nasty piece of work. Squid like, big, manageable. Most of the time. Not that tough of a creature, on average, but it's got a host of nasty abilities, and if left unchecked it can go ballistic and do some major damage.
One was sighted nearby this blue supergiant. R... one... three... six, was it? I'm sure that wasn't the whole name, anyway. Pretty sure it had like, an A or something afterwards. And it's surrounded by a whole bunch of big stars, too. It was an odd sighting, considering we couldn't detect any of its usual sources of power (derelict ships, minor spacial anomalies, remnants of great battles, among others) around the vicinity. But that was alarming, perhaps even more so, considering how we still haven't quite figured out how they work. Among their oddities, they can absorb energy, and we're on the lookout for some source of energy we may not be aware of. If there's anything we ought to know about these creatures, it's pressing to know about it right away. Any further tricks they can pull on us and we might have a hard time dealing with them.
And so they sent me. They told me they did a handful of studies on me, and turns out ALL my great great grandparents were God Eaters. And not just any, but apparently a whole bunch of God Eaters whose feats were the stuff of legends at their time. I drifted off while the doctor gushed about my lineage, saying how it gave me peerless potential. Didn't catch much after that bit, honestly. Sounded like some made up shit just to get me to cooperate, but hey, if they went through so much just to get to me, I might as well lend a hand.
Thus, we get to the present. I was sent alone, as is customary, and loaded with every last bit of technology from the last 100 years that senses any form of energy output. Most of them had to be set to filter the energy readings from the star, or they'd blow up and slash or drive me insane from the amount of noise they'd do. And even so, they're driving me nuts.
But again, no weird power readings. Everything within the star system is within parameters. No uncertified ships, no magnetically charged asteroid, nothing.
"Kilo to Charlie. Romeo system apparently secured, no unusual energy readings. Recommended course of action?"
"Charlie to Kilo here. Stand by. If no unusual signatures appear within the usual 15 minutes, you're allowed to leave. Charlie out."
"Copy that. Kilo out."
I decide to remain in space, standing vigil over the star system. The space suit automatically dims the light of the star... otherwise, its light would blind me several times over. And burn me to a crisp. And play havok with my insides. Yeah, the suit also protects me against radiation. Thank god for tech.
Fifteen reglamentary minutes later, nothing shows up, and I consider that my blessing. I'm hoping they really have some of my favorite drink back at Outbreak... it's high time I went back to the Sol system, anyway.
I hear that out in space, you're not supposed to listen to a single sound. Not that you'd be aware of it, because Fenrir's high tech suits replicate the sounds you'd hear in astounding detail. Right like the few surviving records of the Aragami back when they first appeared, I hear. Never had time for that myself, anyway. My life was mostly spent between hunting and... shall we say, recreative research. I've only caused a few dozen, easily controlled explosions. I hear they get on sis' nerves. All the more reason to continue.
However, the sound I hear is... indescribable. The only thing I can say is that the system didn't recognize the input it'd been given, and went haywire. Regardless, the most horrible shriek one could ever conceive... yeah, that, times a hundred.
It's a marvel I'm not dead where I stand. They sure do breed us God Eaters tough.
An Acheron, larger than we've ever seen before, is drilling itself towards the star's insides. Energy bursts are all over the damn place, and if I know my astrophysics right those emissions are gonna be a pain in the ass if they hit anything in the neighboring stars. Considering how many planets we've colonized, this can't stand.
"Charlie! Kilo here! An Acheron is.... it's driving itself into the star!"
"What?! Copy that, Kilo! Engage immediately! Your suit should protect you for an estimated ten minutes within the star's outer layer. Cause as much damage as you can then retreat!"
Thank god for tech. Walking on a star's surface. The ultimate dream of many, and I think I'm the first time it's come to it. Too bad it's to save lives and not to have a little fun. Maybe another time. It's a rather pressing situation now.
The Acheron is ridiculously huge, and I've trouble putting it in words. Usually they're about the size of a small landmass, and while they do have nasty abilities, their insides are usually wide available to slash at your heart's content, provided you can make your way past its inner flora and fauna. But this one... this one is the size of a planet. The eye alone is probably bigger than Pluto, according to the suit's systems.
There's nothing I've got that will cause even the slightest bit of damage.
If I remember anything from Aragami 101, it's that Acherons have the teensy tiniest bit that controls the energy handling. Harm it in any way, and the creature just... dies. Energy overload. Boom. Professor only theorized about it, since with the entryway being about the size of a peanut, not to mention it's surrounded by walls of the hardest metal you'll ever see, reaching it is a pipe dream. But in this one... the entry ought to be bigger. Much, much bigger.
As soon as I land, the visor all but shuts off the shine of the blue sphere of death below me, and I can't help feel off for about a second before the suit accomodates for the gravity well of the star. The pull is strong, but nothing insane. I guess the convective currents and shit are a bit more troublesome. As soon as the setup is complete, a countdown commences.
"12 minutes until critical energy failure. Counting."
The Acheron is nearby, its massive eye being the only real way in. Even considering how sensitive those are, this is probably not going to harm it at all. But this is just an entryway.
A hole about three meters tall should do.
"Environment change. Adapting..."
"Adaptation process complete. Environment should be manageable at normal energy consumption levels. Battery levels currently sitting at 83.5 percent."
Even if the systems adapt to the insides instantaneously, it takes my eyes a moment to change from the searing blue to the dull browns and reds that make up an Acheron's insides. Even God Eaters can only do so much.
"Alright, that should do it. If I ever return alive, I'll be sure to send professor Cohen the best bottle of wine money can buy. Now let's see... the way to the energy thing should be right past the optic nerve... or whatever the hell they call an Aragami's equivalent to an optic nerve. Time to go full blast! Suit, engage experimental speed test level 5."
"Warning: experimental speed test level 5 will cause injuries to all but the hardiest God Eaters. Do you wish to...?"
"Goddammit, I know what I'm doing! I helped design you. I grant approval, yeah, just do it. I gotta traverse a thousand kilometers to get to where I must go."
"Access granted. Experimental speed test engaged."
For fuck's sake, I'm gonna make my suit's AI less talkative when I get home.
Experimental speed levels are off limits to most users. To have level 1 engaged, you must be top 1% physical class God Eater. And it only goes up from there. While I'm pretty sure I normally qualify for like level 3, maybe, this suit is not the ordinary suit GEs are given: top of the line tech and all, I pushed it to level 7 once. Couldn't walk for a month, but hey, records indicated I was going fast enough for my speed to be a non-insignificant fraction of c. Thank god for tech.
Past level 3 speed the suit knocks you out, puts you in a brief coma, and then wakes you up when you arrive. No human body can handle the stress, so it just turns off all functions and creates a repellant magnetic field that avoids your insides going outside, or any sand grain going relativistic bullet on your sorry ass. That, and Oracle Cells. Tons of them. Not even I know the full thing. But it works.
After about 5 minutes, according to the timer, I make it there. Only have 6 more. Great. I command for the ship to enter low orbit and follow me around. Can't waste no time at all. The entrance is here. And guarding it, an Aragami of legend. A test of mettle.
Hehehe. These things were monstrous back in the day. But now? Small fry. Not even worth the hassle.
After a supremely brief battle that may or may not have involved complete disintegration and shouting at the top of my lungs, the Ouroboros is no more. Instead, there's a clean passage to the energy handling bit. Squishy. It's roughly the size of a small building, but with how sensitive it is, a simple slash should do it.
Of course, I don't wanna die inside, so I set up a small explosive charge and work my way out.
"Engage experimental speed test level 6. Overrule approval question, I know what I'm doing."
Even the little time I spent there was significant. 5 is not an option.
"Activating... Activating... Acti- WARNING! ENERGY TOO LOW FOR ATTEMPTED OPERATION! READINGS INDICATE 40%!"
Oh goddammit. The explosive. I had no charge, so I had to make one. Costs a ton of energy.
Think fast, man. Think fast.
Life support will slow me down. And I need to be there in as little time as possible.
"Activate and reroute all available energy to speed systems. Inhibit all but the most elementary life support systems. Oxygen, blood control, all off. Keep only safety magnetic pads online. Engage speed test level 7. Overrule all permissions."
I take a few deep breaths. These will be the longest short while of my life. I will be conscious the whole time. Can't say I wanna be the first to do it, but... looks like I'll have to be.
The sensation of speed is quite well known, yet ill defined. What I experience now... is beyond speed. It's best described as sensory overload.
While senseless images and sounds pound my poor eyes and ears, every muscle in my body screams for me to stop. My lungs ache for new air, but I keep myself under control. Somehow. If I try to breathe, I'll suck in something I shouldn't and probably have my insides turned into relativistic splatter goo for my troubles.
It takes an eternity. Supposedly relativistic speeds should make things faster, in a way. You know, same time speed outside, goes slower for you? Well, the trauma here prevails over science, and what the screen records as a couple of seconds feels like an hour.
Barely clinging to consciousness, I leave the Acheron. I only departed ten seconds ago. Or was it...? My mind isn't clear anymore.
The ship is here for me.
"Beam me up. Send me to medbay immediately. Check for anything that, if left unchecked, will kill me. Then, check for potential causes of long-lasting injury. Then check for immediately fixable shit. Meanwhile, set course to Fenrir Central HQ, Earth. Overrule all questions with emergency code class Omicron. I need a freaking doctor."
They tell me I was lauded as a hero for weeks. Prevented countless billions of deaths. But I couldn't wake up for months.
By the time I did, I fully recovered. Medicine is wonderful, innit? Thank. God. For. Tech.
I'm gonna put that my fucking family shield, I swear. Just you wait. Mark my words.
But I care not for a hero's recognition or my family shield (for now, anyway). All that time, there was only one person who was in my mind. Good thing she's right next to my bed when I wake up.
"Kayle. You bastard. Don't you ever do that again!"
Her eyes, filled with tears, betray her words. She can't help but hug me, and I give it back.
"Can't help but keep being your messy little brother and getting in trouble, can I?"
"Kayle, I swear to god, if you ever try this again I'll wait by your bed until you wake up only to kill you for doing it. Am I clear?"
I can only laugh. Threatening as though her words may be, I'm too ecstatic to feel any bad.
"Come now, I haven't been to Outbreak in months. I hear they managed to correct the rotation times. But doesn't that mean...?"
"No, the Moon still moves across the sky. They accounted for that. We have some catching up to do. Come on, I got a stash of that shitty drink you like that's been waiting for you for a while now."
Oh, this keeps getting better.