Author’s Note: Some may ask the significance of the number “22” in the story thus far.I have used the number a lot so it’s an honest question to ask. Well, you see the number 22 is what I consider to be my lucky number. 22 was my favorite numbered channel as a kid, 22 was the best year of my life, etc. So, to me the number 22 has a positive connotation. I feel that when I put it into a story I’m infusing the story with my luck. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the story since it’s been in the pipelines for a bit!
Chapter 2: Training Day
Samuel breathed deeply, he didn’t know how exactly to phrase what he was going to say. “Well, you see… I joined solely to learn about Long-Sword’s pilot. I want to know who he is!” The holographic general stared at the young man in shock. “Long-Sword’s pilot? Why would you want to know about him?” Samuel sighed and looked at the general, finally making eye-contact with someone for the first time that entire day. “It is because of my family. Even since I was young I was bullied and abused because everyone thought my family was related to Long-Sword’s pilot, the man who caused the great tragedy. People think this way because my family lived on the exact same street as the pilot and also because my great-grandfather had a military background. On top of this, we are the only family on our street to have not taken part in the “Perfect Birth” program. My lineage believed a birth was perfect on its own!”
The general looked at Samuel and began to grit his virtual teeth. The Perfect Birth program was something Williams did not like to think about. It was a program set in place after Long-Sword’s betrayal and it was project commissioned by Williams’ himself. The project was meant to be used to alter human births so that the new humans wouldn’t develop any sort of mental problems or psychological issues. This was done so that the Long-Sword incident never happened again. Many families were against this as they felt their children were perfect the way they were.
Both Williams and the AI that now represented him greatly resented this decision. As such, those that became known as “Imperfect Births” were allowed all of the same rights that the new race of humans were. Samuel himself was an imperfect birth and ended up being born with “Aspergers”. It was a learning disability that results in some socially-awkward behavior from time to time. Samuel didn’t mind having it, in fact he thought that it made his life much more interesting. Williams stared at Samuel as he cleared his non-existent throat. “So, is there anything specifically you wanted to know about him?”
Samuel twitched his fingers around nervously as beads of sweat dripped down the side of his head. The sides of his face began to itch, something that happened often when he felt nervous or anxious. “Well… I want to know if I’m his descendant.” The general frowned, not exactly sure about what he should tell the young man. “And if you are related to him, what then?” Asked the general. Sam thought about the general’s question for a full minute, before uttering an emotionless response: “I’ll figure it out once I know.” The general blinked in confusion, right before breaking into laughter. This action confused Samuel greatly. “I see! You are definitely an interesting young man. Normally, asking that kind of question would get you court-marshaled. Heck, I can’t even give you that kind of information. Well, not at the moment anyways.”
Samuel scratched at his head in confusion. “What do you mean by that?” The AI let out a digitized cough in response. “I can only give you that info once you serve under the military for an entire year. Ginga and the other colonies need defending and the enemies are mounting attacks on a consistent basis. Our army needs the help of our candidates, who are the pilots of our Blades. Look, we need your help and you need ours. You’ve passed the performance tests, simply serve your duty for a whole year and I will provide you with the information.”
A whole year?! In Sam’s mind that was a bit too long, especially due to the constant threat of death this job entailed. Sam thought he should just leave, but then realized that there was no point. Sam would live with the constant thought of who Long-Sword’s pilot was. It would pierce his mind and soul until the end of his days, he would never know if the hero-turned-monster was his ancestor or not. Sam knew the price for this information was steep, but he needed to know. Sam knew he could not talk an AI out of a programming, so he decided to just roll with it. The young man took a deep breath and stood up straight. “Yes, sir! I will serve under this military outfit for the next year and I’ll hold you to this promise.” The AI nodded. “Don’t worry, I am programmed to keep my word. Now, I request you speak with our engineer, Thomas Seagull. He will get you set up with all the information you need.”
Sam nodded and turned to leave. As Sam turned to leave, the AI noticed Sam’s attire. Specifically, the top button on Sam’s shirt was undone. “Also, Sam, button the top button your shirt. I’m sorry if I’m being bothersome, the man who I was programmed to be like was a bit of fussbudget.” Sam smiled nervously and nodded. “S-Sure!” Sam didn’t like when people brought up his top button being undone. It wasn’t something he did to be a rebel, it just annoyed him greatly. Sam had his reasons for not buttoning his shirt, something he didn’t like other people knowing about. Sam then left the office and ventured out into the hallway. Sam traveled through the hallway into a large tube-shaped hallway. This hallway was made out of unbreakable glass and showed off the exterior of the station. Sam looked through the glass and into the vastness of space, entranced by the stars.
Shimmering comets soared through the dark vastness that was the galaxy, setting Sam’s imagination ablaze. Never had the young man seen such a glorious display of cosmic delight. Sam walked as slowly as he could down the hallway, drinking in the beauty of the scene around him. However, like all great things it eventually had to come to an end. Sam reached the end of the hallway and in the middle sat a rather large door. Sam opened the door and found himself in what appeared to be some sort of odd laboratory. Scattered bit of mechanical items were strewn across the tiled floor. Tattered blueprints covered in coffee stains covered the walls and bits of broken chalk were scattered across a gnarled chalkboard.
As Sam admired the weirdness of the lab, he was suddenly started to hear strange shuffling sounds. Sam turned his attention to the floor beneath him, which appeared to be wear the bizarre sounds were emanating from. Sam lowered himself onto his hands and knees as he slowly moved his head towards the floor. Once he was close enough, Sam heard bizarre sounds coming from beneath the tiles. Sam jerked his head back once he noticed the tiles starting to move. A strange vibrating circulated the set of tiles below Sam, causing the young man to back away. The tiles shook as if some ungodly being was tunneling through them. The tiles split apart as a large drill-like object burst through the tiled floors. Sam stood there in panic, fearing that the enemy was here and ready to attack.
Within moments, the tiles have been split apart by the drills. The tiles breaking caused a thin cloud of dust to circulate the lab. Sam covered his face as the dust and debris circulated the lab. After a few minutes it died down as a man emerged from where the tiles had once been. This man was lanky and stood at a height that was roughly 5 to 6 feet tall. He wore a lab-coat covered in dust and dirt and had a pair of musty goggles adorning his eyes. The man also wore a half-mask the covered the lower part of his face and possessed a head of curly black hair. The man removed his half-mask revealing the face of a rather handsome gentleman underneath. “I take it you’re here for training, I suppose?” Questioned the lab-coat-wearing man.
“Uh… Yeah, I am!” Replied the young man in a rather nervous tone, “I’m Samuel Ash.” The lab-coat-wearing man smirked and popped off his goggles. “I’m Thomas Seagull, head-engineer in charge of repairing the Blades. I’m also your instructor as well, due to some rather unsightly budget cuts. Regardless, it’s good to meet you, Sam!” Thomas reached his hand out for a shake. Sam twitched nervously as he moved his arm towards Sam’s. Sam gripped Thomas’ hand firmly as Thomas took notice of the amount of sweat emanating from his associate’s fingers and palms. “Nothing to be nervous about, Sam! I won’t eat you. I was just tunneling through the floors for… Some personal reasons.” Sam started to sweat even more. “P-Personal reasons?! Were you hiding a dead body in there?!”
Thomas paused for a moment as his lips twitched awkwardly, forming into an even larger smile. Thomas tried to hold back his laughter but broke out into a fit of hysterical cackling. “A dead body? Wow, that’s one hell of a conclusion to jump to! No, my friend, I am not a murderer or some kind of miscreant. This tunnel is actually a short cut I dug myself, it leads to my dojo. It is the classroom where I shall teach you all I know and it has centuries of history behind it.” Sam’s eyes opened wide as he stared at Thomas. “W-What is it?” Thomas tossed Sam a pair of a goggles and chuckled to himself. “Follow me and find out!” Sam shrugged and put on the goggle. Sam followed Thomas into the open hole as the two entered into the darkness of the underground. Sam was curious but at the same very afraid of where Thomas was leading him. He knew the only way he’d learn about the Blades is to follow Thomas’ lead, but was this man really all that trustworthy? Sam was about to find out.