Prologue 2: Hime and Hotaru
Why? Who knows, but the world seemed like it was ending. The sky was a color never seen before, and below it, two young girls were sitting on a bench out in the park. The park was quite close to the coast, so the two gazed out into the ocean.
They were completely alone, but that in itself was expected. After all, there was no telling when the <Enemy> would attack, so the only people who would loiter out here were the crazy ones. Well, perhaps two lovers who lived far away from each other would also risk going out to meet each other. In any case, compared to any of those people, the two sitting right now were in much more danger.
“Hm? What is it, Hime?” said Hotaru softly, but Hime would not respond. Hime really didn’t have much to say; she just wanted hear Hotaru’s voice. Hotaru, knowing this, simply smiled and lightly touched the back of Hime’s hand.
“It’s quiet, isn’t it?” continued Hotaru as she kept gazing out into the ocean.
Hime nodded. “Yeah…”
The ocean was as calm as could be. It was perfectly still; there weren’t even any waves crashing against the shore. There was nothing but silence in the air, and as they had done so many times before, the two just peacefully stared at the view. It wasn’t like there was any particular reason for them to choose this place as their meeting spot, they just happened to always play around the area. However, within them there was definitely some desire to see the ocean like this, because in this ever-changing world, the only thing that didn’t really change was this view.
“It’s so peaceful… it’s almost as if the stuff that’s happening right now is a lie,” said Hotaru.
“I know,” said Hime. “Though, I wish that was true…”
Hotaru clutched Hime’s hand even harder. They were both still young, so in reality, they didn’t fully know what was going on in the world. Well, it would be more accurate to say that no one knew what was going on in this world. The two only understood that the world had changed, and everything that they once knew had turned into something different.
Three years ago in June, the <Enemies> appeared. No one knew who they were, and no one knew where they came from. These unknown entities came to the cities with their unknown machinery and began their attack. At first, the higher-ups gave these entities a sophisticated name, but in the end, they just became known as the <Unknowns>.
In the beginning, a certain country was trying to assert its dominance over others by using newly developed weapons, but as the conflict became more heated, the <Unknowns> randomly appeared and began their era of destruction. In the end, only after that very country suffered heavy losses in their military facilities were all the countries able to band together and fight. It was only natural, though, as the absurdity of having aliens attack didn’t exactly propel the countries to make good decisions. Humanity had no choice but to accept their new fate— they were forced to see that there were enemies that had appeared, enemies set to destroy them.
As such, without so much a declaration of war, humanity began their inevitable fight against the <Unknowns>. Soon, with all the fighting going on, a plan to put all non-combatants underground and into cold sleeps was developed. Cold sleep, a technology developed five years ago, was a cheap and effective way of preserving the cells while rendering the humans unconscious for long periods of time. It was effective in the sense that it kept everyone safe and without much need for maintenance, so supplies that were originally going to be used for these people could be sent to the combatants instead. Despite that, going into a cold sleep was scary in itself, and there was no guarantee that it would work against the <Unknowns>. The technology to safely wake them up without any damage was naturally developed as well. However, no one, especially those who were set to enter the cold sleep, expected to use this technology so soon.
The two elementary schoolers continued to sit as they said their final farewells. They understood that entering cold sleeps was necessary for the sake of humanity having a future, so they had no choice but to do it. Today was their last day, and that’s why they snuck out of their respective emergency shelters to come meet with each other.
“Tomorrow, huh…” said Hime.
Hotaru frowned. “We’ve got no choice… right now, we’re completely useless in battle, right?”
“I know,” said Hime, dejected. “But why am I the only one in a different shelter? I mean, you and Mary are in the same unit…”
There was no possible way to house all the children into one shelter, so they had to be divided into different ones. Unfortunately, Hime was more concerned about being separated than she was about going into the cold sleep. After all, if Hotaru’s shelter was attacked by the <Unknowns>, there would be no more meeting her ever again…
“I’m really scared if you aren’t by my side,” said Hime softly.
“It’ll be okay. You’re strong, you know?”
“I’m really not,” said Hime, her voice shaking. A single tear ran down her eye. “I need you with me, Hotaru…”
She quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Hime was the older one, but she had always been like this.
“We’ll be okay.” Hotaru strengthened her grip on Hime’s hand and used her other hand to turn Hime’s head a bit until they were face to face. “I think… No, I’m sure we’ll meet again. The adults will fight off the <Unknowns> for us, okay?”
“Really. Have I ever lied to you, Hime?” said Hotaru without an ounce of hesitation.
Hime shook her head, and Hotaru did a big smile.
“Once the war is over,” continued Hotaru. “Let’s meet here again!”
“Okay… it’s a promise?”
“I promise,” said Hotaru, raising her pinky to Hime.
Hime nodded slightly in response before completing the pinky swear with Hotaru.