Saturday, 17 March 2012

Emperex: Chapter 2

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Another day, another dollar. The daily grind of working retail really wears out a person, but it's not hard work and the pay's decent.

Casey, my manager, walks into the staff room as I open my locker and grab my stuff. “Hey, I just wanted to say – good work today, Jo.”

“Thanks.” I say sarcastically.

“No, I’m serious. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” I look back and see that Casey looks pretty sincere. In the five years I’ve worked here, I haven’t known him to hand out compliments so easily. It must be some sort of special occasion.

“Well, thanks, I guess.” I say. I try to sound sincere, but it probably sounds a bit forced. “What’s with the sudden emotional outburst?”

“I was just thinking. It’s been almost two weeks, and who knows? One of those monsters could attack here, and I might not get the chance to say goodbye to anyone. So I’m just saying it pre-emptively, so that if we don’t see each other again, we at least part of good terms, you know?”

“Oh, stop being so paranoid. We’re not going to be attacked tomorrow.” I say. “But I still do appreciate the compliment. You should give them out more often.”

I wouldn’t admit it to him, but I’ve been thinking about that all day too. Ever since they started appearing, the “kaiju” have attacked every couple of weeks. But they’re not going to attack us. We’re smack-dab in the middle of the continent, and most kaiju attack coastal areas. And what’s worth destroying here, anyways? We don’t have much in the way of world-famous landmarks.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Casey looks nervous, like he’s trying to gather enough courage to say something. “Uh, listen. I’m not busy tonight, and I was wondering – do you, uh, do you want to go out to dinner with me?”

“Huh?” Well, that was completely out of nowhere. I always kind of suspected Casey had a thing for me, but I didn’t really think he’d ever actually ask me out. He must be really paranoid over the whole kaiju attack thing.

“Sorry, I just thought, uh, you know, just a friendly dinner between friends, you know.” He’s practically sweating bullets. He must’ve really psyched himself up for this.

“I’m really sorry Casey, but I’ve having dinner with my mom tonight.” I really hate to brush him off like this, but it was just so sudden. I need more time to think it over, at the very least.

“Oh, okay, I understand.” He looks absolutely dejected.

“Tell you what. If we don’t all die tomorrow, we’ll go on Friday. How does that sound?”

“Are you sure? I understand if you don’t want to, I mean I’m not exactly a good-looking guy or anything-“

“Yeah, I’m sure. See you then.”

Casey practically skips out of the room, and I immediately regret agreeing to that. It’s not that he’s not a nice guy, but he doesn’t exactly strike me as the kind of guy I’d normally be interested in. But I haven’t had a date in a couple of years, and he looked so desperate. Oh well. It’s just a harmless dinner date, it’s not like anything’s going to come of it.

I leave the break room and exit the store. I didn’t think I’d be working at a shoe store for five years, but it’s easy work and the pay’s decent. I’ve thought about looking around for something else, maybe, you know, using my degree for something, but if it I’m not broke, why fix it? I mean, I’m not exactly challenging my brain every day, but I suppose I’m pretty happy with my current situation. I could be happier, but I could certainly be a lot worse. It’s a living.

It’s winter, which, in Winnipeg, means you need to wear about five layers to prevent yourself from freezing solid the minute you step outside. Of course, it’s an absolutely sweltering -15 C today, so I can make do with a coat and some gloves. It's only a quick jaunt across the parking lot to my car, so I probably don't even need the gloves.

I've always found it kind of weird how you just get used to things. I've lived in Winnipeg all my life, so I've gotten used to the hot, sticky summers and freeze-your-ass-off cold winters. Sure, I might complain about them once in a while, but the weather's not unbearable or anything. But then you have someone who comes in from South America or the Middle East who bundles up as soon as it gets below freezing, and everyone just kind of looks at them funny.

I guess I'm the same way with working. I've worked for the same shoe store for five years, and I am an assistant manager, but I doubt I'll be moving up any more. I could probably do a lot more if I applied myself (my mom constantly tells me that, at least), but I'm at the point where nothing really surprises me anymore. I'm just cruising along, making enough money to support myself and stay in the same rut I'm stuck in.

But the real question is: do I really want to get a new job? And if I had to answer honestly, I'd probably say 'not really'. Sure, I'm in a rut, but it's a comfortable rut.

I walk across the parking lot, to my red junker of a car. It's about 10 years old at this point, and I've put plenty of money into it to keep it running; the hard Canadian winters don't help that at all. But it's familiar, and I plan on driving it until it breaks down. The engine whines as I turn the key, and it only reluctantly starts; I guess I should've plugged it in this morning. Oh well.

While I let the car warm up, I think about Casey. I'm not sure what's gotten into him, but he's seemed a bit... off for the past couple of weeks. I think Allison mentioned something about him muttering to himself in the break room. Maybe it's stress? He doesn't talk about his family (I don't even know if he has family around here), and he's not married or dating, but maybe there's something else affecting his personal life? We probably should at least try to ask him what's wrong. I guess I'll have a chance on Friday.

Once the windshield defrosts, I pull onto Route 90. Traffic’s bad, as usual. I can’t blame people for taking it easy in the winter, but it takes me 5 minutes to move past the first traffic light. Not that I have anything planned tonight, but still, doing nothing at home is better than doing nothing in traffic. Then again, I’m supposed to be having dinner with my mom tonight. I haven’t seen her in a while. I pull out my cell phone.

“Hi, Mom. How are you today?”

“I’m alive." Her voice is pretty raspy today; she's smoked on and off for all of her 60 years, but she's still pretty healthy, so it must just be a cold or something. "How are you, dear?"

“Not too bad. So I was kind of thinking, we haven't really talked to each other lately, so how'd you like to go for dinner tonight?”

“Oh?” She instantly perks up. "Well of course, I'd love to. Are you still working?"

"I just got off, but traffic's pretty bad. I'll call you once I'm on the highway, okay?"

"Okay. I'll see you later, then." She hangs up, and I set my phone down. It's true that I haven't really talked to her much in the past couple of months, but I get the feeling that she's been a bit depressed lately, and that hearing my voice cheered her up. Maybe it's fortunate that I blew off Casey, then; I still feel bad about that, but I'd rather spend time with her than him.

Oh wait, their anniversary is coming up. Her and my dad separated when I was younger, though it was amicable on both ends; they just wanted to pursue different things, I guess. They remained pretty good friends even after the divorce, and I spent about equal time with them both, so I guess I'm luckier than most.

But he was taken away from us a few years back. He just hit a patch of ice while driving, went through the rails on a bridge and fell into the water. By the time the ambulances showed up, it was already too late. It was just so sudden, but I suppose bad things come when you don't expect them. My mom never remarried (or even dated) after the divorce, and they'd kind of drifted away in the years leading up to his death, but she lost a part of herself with him. And I can't blame her; I was pretty much a wreck for a couple of months.

Wow, I'm really contemplating my navel tonight; questioning my choices in life, remembering my dad, thinking about how death can come at any moment... maybe Casey's paranoia is rubbing off on me.

At least traffic is actually moving. My mom lives out of town, but it's not too far from where I live anyways, so I just keep going from where I usually turn off. My radio's set to the modern rock station; it sounds vaguely familiar, but I don't quite recognize it. My dad was into '80s and '90s rock, so I grew up with the classics.

Once the song ends, the DJ pipes up. "And that was the latest hit from the new band Shurmer, a cover of Motorhead's Ace of Spades. And I gotta be honest with you guys, I like it just as much as the original." Ah, I knew I recognized it.

The DJ starts talking about the impending kaiju attack. The Kaiju Defence Force has issued its usual warning; try to cut down on traveling time, don't get in the way of police and rescue crews, and call in if you have tips. He reassuringly says that the kaiju generally only attack during the daytime, and night's quickly approaching, so we're pretty much safe. I really hope he's not jinxing it.

"And this just in: The investigation into KE-13 has turned up some very interesting information. The KDF took some samples from KE-13, which was a huge fleshy mass that took over the Olkiluoto nuclear plant in Finland for those of you who don't remember, and they've determined that it's biologically similar to Earth life. They're not claiming anything just yet, but it raises some pretty big questions if you ask me."

Nobody was, but he's right. Related to Earth life, huh? Nobody really knows what exactly the kaiju are, but if the biological ones are mutants or whatever, that's gonna make the conspiracy nuts go crazy. There's already a pretty big subset of people who believe that the kaiju are top-secret government experiments that got loose, but there's been a few robotic ones too. Why would you need giant monsters and giant robots? Seems inefficient to me.

The DJ puts some more music back on as I get on the highway. It's about a 10 minute drive from the edge of Winnipeg to the town my mom lives in, so I guess I should call her. There's not really any good restaurants there, so we'll probably end up coming back here and hitting up the pizza parlor or something. I pick up my phone and turn the radio down, but before I dial my mom's number, the song abruptly cuts out.

“Attention, everyone in the Winnipeg area.” The DJ's trying to sound calm, but it's pretty obvious that he just wants to start panicking. “We have just received several reports of a giant spider-like beast on the southern outskirts of the city. We’re not sure if this is a kaiju or not, but we are recommending that everyone in that area leave immediately. Remember, do not panic...”

But of course! He freakin' jinxed it. It's just too convenient that everyone would start talking about kaiju. Even still, it could be a hoax. I switch to the AM stations, just to make sure.

“...has already destroyed parts of La Salle, and it appears to be heading toward the south end of Winnipeg. The KDF has been notified. Until then, we are recommending that everyone in that area evacuate if at all possible...”

No, this can’t be happening. I must be dreaming. It’s just way too convenient; it’s a million-to-one chance, but Casey’s so worried about it that he tries to take me out on a date. Did he know about it somehow? How would that even be possible?

My mom doesn't own a car, and she doesn't get out much, so I don't know for sure if she's going to evacuate or not. It's a bit risky, but I can't let her be trampled by a kaiju. I'm almost to St. Adolphe, so I should be able to get there in time and get the hell outta dodge before we all die. I notice a plane overhead, though it’s flying a bit low. Wait, it’s falling-

My car is thrown into the air, flipping several times and landing upside-down. Against all odds, I’m still alive and in one piece. The blood's starting to rush to my head, so I've gotta get out of here. I unbuckle myself and fall on the ceiling, hurting my neck a bit, but I barely feel it. I shove my shoulder against the door, forcing it open after a few tries.

I climb out of the car. My entire body feels numb, but I'm not bleeding or otherwise injured, though maybe I just can't feel it due to being in shock. My car's completely trashed, with various fluids leaking out of the crumpled engine block. How the hell did I survive that? I guess I'm more resilient than I thought.

The crashed plane or whatever has left a huge crater in the road and surrounding ground. There's not really any smoke rising from it, and I didn't see an explosion, so presumably it's somehow still mostly intact. I'd better go down and check for survivors before the shock wears off. I walk over to the edge of the crater and see-

Okay, this has got to be some sort of dream. Or maybe I died and this is some sort of weird version of my life flashing before my eyes.

In the crater, half-embedded in the dirt and bits of road, is a giant silver figure. It looks humanoid, but far larger than a human has any right to be. Is this the kaiju? No, they said it was a spider. On second thought, it looks kind of robotic...

I’m probably in shock right now, because the fact that I’m standing in front of a giant mecha doesn’t faze me in the least. My first thought is “Cool.”

Cool? Sure, a giant anime-style mecha is pretty cool, but any sane person would be terrified right now. This must just be some sort of hallucination caused by blood rushing to my head, or brain damage, or something. But I’ve got to make sure.

I slide down the edge of the crater. My brain is screaming, telling me to run as fast as I can away from this thing. But my curiosity overrides my fear, and I continue approaching it. Its head looks relatively humanoid, but it looks like it’s wearing a layered mask over its mouth, and the rest is covered by a helmet. Only a small black strip is uncovered, over where its eyes should be. There’s a golden star-shaped crest on its brow, with a big red jewel set in the middle.

I take my gloves off and touch the robot’s mask. It’s smooth and pleasantly warm, but it feels more plastic-y than metal. The red jewel is flashing for some reason. I don’t think it was doing that before. The black area around its eyes flashes green, and the mask splits in half down the middle and slides into the back of the helmet. I expect to see a large mouth or nose, but instead, it’s completely hollow inside. It looks almost like a cockpit, actually. There seems to be some sort of strangely-shaped chair in the middle.

Finally, the reality of the situation hits me. This thing is a giant robot, and it’s meant to be piloted by someone.  But who built it? Is it some sort of kaiju? If not, who would go to the effort to build something as impractical as a giant robot? I step inside the head and look around. I don’t see any sort of controls for this thing. How does it work? Do I just sit in that chair, and it plugs me into the Matrix or something?

I fall to my knees as I step into the cockpit. I’m overwhelmed by the sounds of radio static and nails on a chalkboard. I’m not just hearing it, I’m... feeling it. I try to get out, but the mask closes behind me. The sound abates a bit, but I still feel it in my body. It feels like meaningless noise, but there’s a pattern... I try pounding on the mask, but it doesn’t open. I try yelling and cursing and anything else I can think of, but it does nothing. I look around again, for some sort of button to open it. I still can’t think clearly. I stumble over to the chair, collapsing in it. I feel a button on the left arm rest. Without thinking, I press it.

I feel something sharp on my back. It’s a needle. I scream in pain as it cuts through my skin and pierces my spine. I try to get up, but several belts restrain me. I scream as more needles pierce my skin. The pain spreads to my arms and legs. I feel like my blood is boiling. It can’t be a dream; the pain is too real...

Suddenly, my head is clear. I don’t feel the needles in my back anymore. I feel along my back, but I feel several lumps. My hands are warm and smooth. I take a look at my hand. It’s metallic, with four fingers with four joints each. I scream again. Something’s wrong with my hand. This isn’t my body.

Wait. I’m the robot. Or I’m piloting it, or something. I look down; my body is still stuck in the ground. Without even thinking, I brace myself against the sides of the crater and try to get myself out of the dirt. Something activates on my back, and without any effort on my part, I rise from the crater.

I look down, and sure enough, my entire body is metallic. I have a huge barrel chest that looks like some sort of armor, but it only covers my upper chest; my abdomen is less covered, and I can see some pulsing green streaks near my bellybutton. My arms are two cylindrical sections, with shoulder pads with drill-threaded spikes on the sides, held together by some sort of blue... energy in the shoulders and elbows. There are three smaller cylinders in my forearms. They look like gun barrels. My legs are similar, but the bottom sections are bulky and angular, almost like I’m wearing giant boots or greaves of some kind. Each leg has three golden points poking downwards, out of some sort of circular sheaths.

I try taking a step, but I slip and fall. My hand crushes what was left of my car. Great. I get up, and I look at my feet, but I don’t have any; my legs just end, with reddish-pink glass dome-like things on the end. I have more of these things on the backs of my legs and on my back; those were the lumps I felt on my back. I guess they’re some kind of propulsion system. I hear a low hum, and the glass domes faintly glow. I ascend a few feet in the air. From here, I can see a large part of the surrounding countryside, but I don’t see the kaiju yet.

A yellow graph, or radar, or something, appears in the top-left corner of my field of vision. There’s a yellow dot in the middle, and one to the southeast. Presumably I’m the one in the middle, so what’s the other one? Oh, it must be the kaiju. I reach out for the radar, but I can’t seem to touch it. It must be some sort of heads-up display.

Some sort of text pops up on the HUD, but it’s not in a language I understand. I don’t even know if it’s anything from Earth. I try thinking about English... and the text morphs into a huge number. 113,341,943. That’s a pretty big number, but what does it signify? I hope it’s not anything important.

I hear a soft humming coming from behind me, and I turn pretty much 180 degrees around. The yellow dot is right in front of me now, though it’s presumably still in the same place. How do I get over there? I don't even know how to move this thing. I can't really walk or run over there, since this thing doesn't have any feet, so maybe I can fly?

As if on command, the low hum of the engines gradually changes into a higher-pitched revving, almost like one of those really small cars. The red glow from the thrusters on my feet intensifies, reflecting in the dull asphalt below me. I start to effortlessly glide in the direction of the kaiju. No, that's not fast enough. Faster. I lean forward, almost to the degree of being parallel to the ground, and I quickly gain speed as I fly above the ground.

I’m not sure how fast I’m going, but the road rushes below me, until I eventually see the kaiju. Sure enough, it looks like some sort of giant spider-like thing. It has way more legs than a normal spider. Some parts of it are covered in a metal plating of some sort, but it doesn’t look very durable. I can see a trail of destruction behind it. I think the radio said it damaged a couple of communities to the south, and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop.

I guess it’s up to me then. I need to stop this thing somehow. Uh, how do I do that? What kinds of weapons do I have? Uh, let’s see... rocket fists. Giant robots usually have rocket fists, right? I point my right arm at the kaiju. Okay, how do I activate the weapons? Maybe it’s activated by voice commands. What did that guy always say in that show?

“ROCKETO PANCHI!” I scream at the top of my lungs. I’m not sure if anyone else hears it, of if it’s my real body saying it, but it works. The blue energy in between my arm flares, and my entire lower right arm flies off, rocketing at the giant spider. It strikes the spider in an armoured section, making a dull clink of metal-on-metal on impact. It’s stuck in the spider’s body, so I guess it pierced through the armour, but the spider doesn’t seem to be too hurt by it. It continues walking toward me.

Okay, so that was a stupid idea. If I do that next time, I need to make sure there’s more force behind it. Maybe it needs to spin...

My detached arm starts moving on its own. The spider stops, curious about the item lodged in its body. The entire forearm starts rotating, slowly at first but quickly gaining speed. The spider recoils a bit, seemingly in pain. The hand starts rotating counter-clockwise, and the entire thing digs into the spider’s body, exiting through its underbelly. The spider lets out a harsh, high-pitched scream, but instead of running away, it charges at me like an angry bull.

The spider hits me, knocking me down. Several legs press down on me, seemingly trying to crush my body. I can feel the pressure on the robot, but it’s not painful at all. I’m not sure how tough this robot’s armour is, but I’ve still got to get him off of me. My left arm is pinned down by the spider’s legs, so I point what remains of my right arm at its stomach; the blue energy flares again, surrounding the spider in a translucent blue bubble. I swing my arm to the side, throwing the spider off of me. The blue barrier quickly dissipates.

I get up. The blue energy in my arm shoots outward as a thin beam, connecting with the socket in my detached arm. The forearm and hand are pulled back onto my arm, reconnecting with a sort of buzzing sound. The spider is still stunned, so I back away from it and contemplate my next move. Let’s see... what else does this robot have for weapons?

Two flaps on my chest open up, firing about half a dozen small missiles at the spider. Oppai missiles. Classy. The explosions sever a few of the spider’s legs, but it doesn’t seem fazed at all. It gets up and charges at me again. Its compound eyes flicker, and I stagger back a bit. Did it just hit me with some sort of invisible attack? The HUD shows me that my “armour integrity” is still at 100%. I’m not sure what that means, but I guess I haven’t been seriously damaged by the spider yet. The road's already pretty badly damaged, but I don't really have any way to stop that.

I brace for impact as the spider hits me again; I’m knocked back a few feet, but the thrusters on my legs start to hum again. Instead of falling over again, I gradually start pushing the spider back. It loses its grip, so I pick up the spider and throw it to the side, crushing a nearby house. Oops. I really hope there wasn’t anyone in there.

My left hand splits into four parts and slide to the edge of my wrist. The gun barrels in my forearm slide out, forming a gun of some sort on my arm. I point it at the spider, but it doesn’t seem to be shooting anything. The spider gets up; it doesn’t have any expression, but I can tell that it’s pissed.

It charges at me again. I try to reverse the transformation on my left arm, but it’s not working. I try jabbing my right hand into its eyes; just before impact, my hand starts spinning like a drill. The resulting impact destroys most of the spider’s head. It crumples to the ground.

The HUD displays the words “Amplifiers at 35%”. I have no idea what that means. I try retracting the gun on my left arm again, but it still won’t work. I shout the order again, but still nothing. The spider twitches, once again getting up. But I destroyed its head! That’s usually a pretty safe way to kill any monster, right? The flaps on my chest open again, but I’m out of missiles. I lunge at the spider while spinning my hand, but it dodges this time. I fall prone on the road, and the spider pins me again.

A gaping, sharp-toothed mouth opens on its underside. The mouth starts to salivate some sort of clear liquid, which starts hissing as soon as it hits my back and the ground. Acid spit? What a totally original weapon. Then again, I'm not exactly one to talk. I try to get out from underneath, but the spider’s not letting me move at all. It gradually lowers its mouth, dripping more spit on me. The HUD shows my “armour integrity” number at 99.4% and dropping. 

In desperation, I order the thrusters on my feet to activate. They start to whine again, and I’m propelled from underneath the spider, ripping up the highway for a short distance. I eventually manage to right myself, and the thrusters propel me into the sky. Our battle has done a lot of damage to the highway and the surrounding area, but we’ve managed to stay away from any populated areas for the time being. I’ve got to end this quickly.

I feel something slide out of my back. I turn my head around, and I see ten bronze blades folding out of these small pockets bolted to the back of my shoulders. Each blade has a small amount of white energy on the tip, which occasionally pulses and sends white energy down channels on each blade. I look at my left arm, and I notice that the empty chamber in the middle of my arm is gradually filling up with this energy.

Amplifiers at 44%. Cannon mode ‘Star Buster’ ready to fire.

Star Buster? I guess that’s some sort of weapon. I look behind me, and I see the small town of St. Adolphe a dangerously short distance away. I can't let this thing get any closer. I fly toward it, stopping about a hundred feet over it. It stops dead in its tracks. I’m not sure if it can still see me or not, but it definitely knows I’m there. I get the urge to taunt it, but even if it could hear me, I doubt it’d understand me. I notice that my entire left arm is now engulfed by the white energy. I guess it’s time to fire the ‘Star Buster’.

Each of the three barrels on my arm fires a beam of brilliant white energy. The beams strike the spider, cleanly splitting the spider into four or five separate pieces. After the Star Buster has drained all of the energy from my arm, the blades slide back into my shoulders and the gun retracts into my forearm. I fly down to the spider; it definitely looks dead this time. The radar dot representing it has disappeared. I guess that means I killed it for good.

Suddenly, the reality of that battle hits me. I just found a giant robot, and used energy beams to fight and kill a giant spider. I feel my metal body slump, and I open my eyes. I’m back in the cockpit of the giant robot. I’m still in excruciating pain. I try to get out of the chair, but I feel the needles still connected to my spine. I get the feeling that trying to rip them out manually is not a good course of action. So does that mean I’m stuck in this thing forever?

One by one, the needles are removed from my spine, each more painful than the last. The straps around my body retract, and I get out of the chair, only to fall to my knees in pain. I remember that I was in a car crash. My entire body feels weak. The mask opens, and I stumble onto the ruined road, conveniently right next to the scrap metal that was formerly my car. The robot gets up and activates the thrusters on its feet, and it’s gone in a flash. So it can move without me. Why does it need a pilot then? Why would someone put anyone through that ordeal?

Ugh, no time to think about that. I grab my cell phone out of my pocket, but my brain is swimming; I barely have enough time to bring up my mom's number before I collapse in a heap.


I wake up in a warm bed. My head still hurts, but it feels more like I have a bad hangover than anything else. Gradually, the sights, smells and sounds return to me. The smells, in particular; it smells sterile and unnaturally clean. A hospital. A hospital? How did I end up here?

The room is dimly lit, with the only source of light filtering in from behind the window blinds to my right. It's daytime. How long have I been out? An older gray-haired woman sits in a chair at the back of the room.

"Mom." I say weakly. My throat is dry and raw. I reach over to the nightstand and grab a cup of water, sipping it through the straw.

"Jojo!" She practically throws the book against the wall as she jumps up and runs over to my side. Her face is pale and sickly-looking, but her eyes are red and swollen.

"You... you haven't called me that since I was a kid." I remark.

"Oh my God, I'm so glad..." She sits down on the bed and tightly hugs me, gently weeping into my shoulder. "Oh Jojo..."

"What, how did I get here?" I ask. Memories flash through my mind - driving to see her, falling plane. No, not a plane. Giant spider. Mecha. What, no, that can't be right. I fought a giant spider in a mecha? That was a dream... right?

"The kaiju, it almost got you..." She sobs loudly. "I don't know what I would've done, oh..."

"It's okay, mom. I'm fine." My head's still fuzzy, but I don't think I'm seriously injured. I still feel a bit numb and weak, but I don't feel any major pain anywhere, and I'm not in casts or anything.

We just sit there, hugging each other, for at least a few minutes. A doctor and a nurse peek into the room and hesitate to come in, but my mom notices them and excuses herself.

"Hello, Miss Hernandez. I'm Al Morly." he says. He's an older man with a trimmed mustache and black-rimmed reading glasses. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine." I say. "I mean, I just woke up, so I might hurt later, but I'm good right now."

"Good to hear." he says. "You're quite lucky, you know. You got pretty close to that kaiju attack, but you've only got bumps and scratches to show from it."

"Y... yeah. Uh, how is everyone else?"

"Only a few fatalities and about three dozen injured." he says solemnly. "It is rather sad that any death is good news, but that other kaiju stopped it from getting close to the city."

Other kaiju...? The mecha, yeah. I was piloting it. I remember it now, I was fighting the spider.

"Regardless, I would like to keep you in for another night. I'll give you a quick checkup and discharge you tomorrow, just to make sure you're alright." he says.

"I understand. I bet you have those other victims from the attacks to look after, huh?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Please, don't hesitate to call if you need anything." the nurse says. They both say goodbye and step out of the room, and my mom returns holding a box of tissue.

"So, there was two kaijus?" I ask.

"Yes, that's right. One was a spider, the other was some sort of giant robot." she says. "They were fighting each other for some reason. Nobody really knows why."

"But you're alright, right?"

"Yes. That spider thing was killed before it made its way to St. Adolphe, and the robot kaiju just flew off somewhere."

"Huh." Yeah, that's right. The robot dropped me off by my car and just flew away. And then I called mom... wait, did I? I remember pulling out my phone, then blacking out, but did the call go through? I guess the ambulances just managed to find me in the aftermath.

There are so many unanswered questions. What exactly was that robot, and why did it want me to pilot it? And where is it now? Will it come back for me when the next kaiju appears, or will it just find another pilot? I have no idea what's going on. A part of me is still convinced that it was just a dream or a hallucination of some sort, but no, it was far too real...

I eventually coax my mom into going home to get some food and sleep. She only reluctantly agrees, and only after promising that she'll be on hand if I need her. And, of course, since my car's been scrapped, she'll have to come and pick me up tomorrow. But she needs to worry about herself too.

As the sun sets, I get up and move around a bit. Yeah, I'm feeling completely fine. I mean, I guess I wasn't really hurt in the car crash, and the robot didn't hurt me at all... wait, yes it did. I step into the bathroom and check my back; to my surprise, there's no cuts or scars or anything on it. Yeah, it stuck needles in my back for something (controlling it?), but it healed them. Or maybe I just healed while I was out. But the doctors didn't mention it - but would they? If they suspected something, even if I was using drugs or something, wouldn't they bring that up?

The real question is... should I tell anyone about this? I mean, they could hold me accountable for destroying the roads and that house, but the KDF would probably want to know as much as they can about the mecha. Not that I know much more than they do, but...

Whatever, I'll think more about it tomorrow. I get back into bed and drift off to sleep, wondering about this whole ordeal. I'd say it's been weird, but I feel like that's a huge understatement.

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