I thought that I had gotten used to this isekai world – its differences, its quirks and inconveniences – the overall way of life that was completely unlike my previous one. But then, my eyes fell upon what was strewn about these ruins.
“N-N-No way! It’s a, a, a gaming console!!!”
My eyes lit up as I held a strange box-like object in my hands. But unlike the magical devices that I was used to in this world, there was the distinct design of electrical and USB ports on it. The slot where a disc should go was present too, and across the top, the words ‘Peakstation 12’ was etched boldly.
After we entered the ruins, we were met with a sight that blew our expectations away. Under the capital of Purnesia, an entire futuristic city lay dormant, the hum of artificial lighting revealing an enclosed dome around the whole area.
It looked like the inside of some space colony. A chorus of faint gasps and murmurs echoed as we stepped into this bizarre place. My gaze met Ludmila and Saki’s, who merely stared at the scene, frozen.
The clang of two polearms dropping rang heavily in the air, the Sun twins flabbergasted in similar fashion.
The progressive flavor of architecture and the dim outline of the cityscape were far greater than what we could hope to achieve, something that shouldn’t be possible since we were standing on ruins of a past time.
‘If such a thing once existed… then, what the hell is this world?!’
Our collective stupor was broken as Eryn and Cornelius marched forward.
“Come on. There’s much to see. Many of which we still do not understand after spending weeks examining the place.”
“Forget about just a week, Eryn. If Katalina were to see this place, we would never leave again…,” I joked, half serious. This was everything that she aspired for and then some.
“Perhaps, it’s fortunate that curious minds are tempered by our reports first. Even I, with all the recollections that I have seen from you Electi, am truly astounded by what lies before me. Does mankind not know limits?” Kaguya chimed in, feeling very much out of place.
She was merely a lady normally isolated within the confines of her own country, with small glimpses of what she had accessed in our memories to broaden her scope of reality. These alternate lives were so different from her own, making it such that she could see little difference between that and the reality before us.
The same was said for Eryn and Cornelius, who barely understood just how ‘impossible’ the ruins seemed.
Walking on, the nostalgic feeling of modern stores, office buildings, and eateries dotted the streets. However, one thing soon became clear. This place was long abandoned. A thick layer of dust covered nearly everything, with items on shelves and racks resting where they were, undisturbed for who knew how long.
There were no signs of any remains, and no struggling or chaos to mark any form of destruction. The city was completely devoid of life, seemingly fading out of existence rather than being destroyed.
For us Electi, we found many of the things that we never thought we would see again – vehicles in the streets, appliances and electronics that weren’t powered with magic, and traces of entertainment and media, all left behind and now relics.
That was why I was so surprised. After happening on a video game store, I couldn’t swallow my curiosity as I bolted in to verify what generation of consoles this society had gotten to. The magical, gaudy box in my hands felt lightyears ahead of the parallelogram-shaped one I owned before, and noticeably larger and denser. ‘But did it have to be a dodecahedron???’
“XMox Full Circle and Pretendo Flip. No matter what world we stumble upon, naming schemes for consoles will always be cheesy.” Saki said with amusement, putting on a pair of futuristic glasses and brushing off some handheld device that accompanied it.
For an otaku that grew up in the age of gaming, there was no better way to keep track of the times. But seeing that there was already a 12th iteration, it seemed like this world was at least a few decades ahead of my own, ahead of everyone’s.
Saki and I walked out of the store, meeting up with the others. Eryn and Cornelius were conversing with Lady Kaguya, telling her the points of interest they had discovered. Meanwhile, Ludmila zoomed all around, examining the cars and getting into them, playing around with the dashboard to figure out if any would start.
Wen Lu and Wen Zhi were also in the midst of memory lane, sitting atop a pair of eye-catching motorcycles. Interestingly, they looked very natural upon them, despite wearing full-body warrior armor. It looked like they could rock a samurai biker flick.
“Had enough detours?” Eryn looked over at me. Certainly, I had been fairly distracted by nearly everything around us.
“The fact that you otherworlders seem to recognize so much tells us quite a bit.” Cornelius placed a finger against her cheek in wonder. “What is alien to us appears not so for you lot. I can only surmise that some otherworlder brought such advances with them and completely changed the timeline of progress.”
“This is much more advanced than where I come from,” I told her, and as we circled around to the other Electi, they said the same.
The city before us was outside of anyone’s imagination. Far beyond.
“But if such an advanced society existed once, how come we don’t see any of its influences in the current day? How come they just disappeared without passing on any history?” I wondered aloud.
“We wouldn’t be so lost if we could figure that out, you know. And all the recorded literature seems to have aged so long that it has crumbled to dust. No more penned history, no annals to dissect. Also, I’m surprised that you know what the buildings you’re entering say. It’s all gibberish to us,” Eryn commented.
I looked around the streets where we stood, realizing that I had investigated them based on the ‘feel’ alone. My eyes suddenly widened. There were banners of store names and such, but they weren’t in English. Yet, it still used a Romanized alphabet. Nowhere in this world was a different language used, and it was only the little bit of Japanese that I playfully used with Saki that deviated.
Despite the different flavors of culture, in Sistina and Macali and Sanshiro and Purnesia, everyone used solely English. And I had not thought it odd until now. Saki had been forced to learn it more proficiently, as did Ludmila.
As for Wen Lu and Wen Zhi…
“Nah, we’re both from Hong Kong. Our English was good to begin with,” they both said, still atop their rides.
“I see…. But then, what language is this even? German? Italian? French?”
The others shook their heads, unable to recognize any of it. But then, I had a thought.
“Wait, you said that all the books have disintegrated, right?” I directed to Eryn and Cornelius, who both nodded. “But where I’m from, information is stored in other ways.”
“Oh, like computers and the net?” Saki chirped.
“Yeah, we rarely even touch books. Smartphones are where it’s at. Anytime I wanted to look up something, I’d yell out ‘Sirius! Search for such and such…’ and a roboty voice would answer back,” Wen Zhi said, making imaginary swiping motions upon his palm.
“Does Doodle Translate exist? Maybe if we searched for some kind of terminal…,” Wen Lu added, lost in thought.
The only question was… ‘just what did a terminal look like in this particular age?’
“Damn, guess we’ll have to be ‘mad scientists’ and search for the legendary IBN 5100… ah, no one gets the reference? Gel bananas?… no?”
I was among a sea of stiff glares, making my otakuness retreat back to the recesses of my mind. The others threw out other expectations of what they believed a terminal would look like.
After several rounds of trying to explain a concept that was utterly foreign to people of this world, Cornelius perked up.
“Oh? A large room with a single slab and nothing else around? I vaguely remember something like it. An eerie room really. It felt more like an isolated prison of sorts, given how cold and bare it appeared.”
We all laughed, realizing just how weird such a thing would seem to someone out of the loop. But thinking about it again, it never did make any sense why such a trope existed. But sure enough, terminals seemed to be in some wide vacant space, perhaps suspended high up in a void with a single bridge leading to it in the middle. Like some guardians would suddenly rise from the abyss and attack any-
‘That better not happen. I’ll be pissed if it does.’
Fortunately, there was no mysterious, suspended bridge over a bottomless chasm. While the room was certainly large, there was no place for enemies to hide. My eyes saw no hidden breaks in the walls that would suddenly open up and reveal sentry guns or have robots pop out of them.
It was just a dead room, echoing our footsteps as we approached what looked like a center console. However, what was there was merely a chair and podium, nothing else. There was no sign of a keyboard or controls on top.
“This is it,” Cornelius said, “but no matter what we tried, nothing seems to pop out. While I do not know what to expect of this ‘terminal’ you are seeking, this is the only building that we found that lacks a purpose.”
We looked all around the center unit for several minutes, staring hard for any sign of an activation switch. The smooth surface of the podium left us with no ideas, and my eyes saw nothing hidden within it.
“How many otherworlders does it take to turn on a terminal? Enough to ‘Electi’ a response!” Wen Zhi joked, to many a groan.
I was in the middle of a facepalm, my other hand bracing upon the podium for support after reeling from that bad pun. But then, I felt something warm to the touch.
“Claude! What did you do?!”
I looked up in surprise, seeing the center unit glow bright suddenly. Slowly, the room illuminated from the podium outwards, like the entire room was restoring back to life.
The empty, dimly lit room hummed with energy, painting over the walls with a white hue. We stared absentmindedly at the console’s activation, unsure as to why my touch had triggered it. And then, a loud series of welcoming beeps echoed, followed by a voice that sounded artificial.
“Greetings, Apostle of Mana. What can I do for you today?”
“Apostle? Of mana? Since when-”
It suddenly clicked. I was currently in possession of the God of Mana’s powers. After defeating the God of Life, which had absorbed it before, both powers now resided within me.
“It has been 8 months, 14 days, 2 hours, and 28 minutes since the archives have been accessed last. Do you wish to restore your previous windows?”
“8 months? That would have been-”
“When Lamps Magellan was still the Electi of Mana, correct?” Cornelius finished my statement.
“Yes! Restore the previous windows!” I announced.
Immediately, holographic screens filled the empty space around us. Dozens of them, enough to fill the wide room. I had to walk around to parse through them, eyeing many designs that seemed all too familiar. Transport vehicles, weaponry, devices – blueprints of items that I had seen used in the war with Purnesia. That explained where some of the ingenuity came from.
I reached out and touched a window that depicted a rifle; it magically transformed into a tangible 3-D model before my eyes. Despite being an imaginary object, it felt solid as my fingers rubbed across it. My mana-sensitive eyes could see the intricacy of the rifle, down to its individual components. Katalina would be in heaven if she saw this…
“Hey Claude, look here! Isn’t this-”
“Master, the blind man…”
As I turned around, the model rifle still in my hands, I was met with the face of Purnesia’s genius upon a recorded screen. It looked like he left behind a message.