The end is nigh!
Past Arc ⑰
「Let us eat.」
After Sariel spoke the grace before meals, the children reached out for the food arranged on the table. It might be expected that for children who were mostly in their growth period, that mealtimes could be likened to a battlefield. However, here the food was predetermined in each case, so there was no scramble over it. For children in their growth period that would often lead to small feelings of dissatisfaction, but here it was strictly forbidden to steal food from the other children. Even if they did so, they wouldn’t be allowed to eat it. The reason being, is that the children here were dealing with unique circumstances, and accordingly their food was completely controlled.
This was an orphanage managed by Sariel. To be precise, it was both an orphanage and a hospital at the same time. The children in this orphanage, were test subjects from Potimas’s experiments. It was an orphanage for the sake of the children taken into care from the research institutions that Potimas had scattered all over the place, to care for them and to treat them. They were all chimera, created by Potimas. They were living beings created using humans as a base, mixed with various plants and animals in forbidden experiments. The few surviving ones.
As a result of police forces searching Potimas’s research institutions, it was established that there were many humans who had been subject to experiments. Most of them had lost their lives. Those where the experiment ended in failure, those who were a success but were short lived, and those who died when subjected to further experiments. In the experimental results, the fate of the victims was dispassionately recorded. They truly were treated like laboratory animals, their lives literally toyed with.
The ones cared for at the orphanage, were the children who miraculously managed to survive. Nevertheless, in order to deal with experimental after-effects and the handicaps that they were born with, they were looked after in an orphanage that was combined with a medical institution. At the same time, it was also to keep the children hidden from the inquisitive eyes of the world. A small boy with green skin. A girl with slightly pointed ears. A girl with scales on her body. It was meaningful to conceal those children having a different outward appearance to normal.
With Potimas’s disappearance, the whole world came to know that he had been placed on the wanted list. Then, the contents of his research also started leaking out from various places, becoming rumours amongst the public. From false rumours to valid facts, a mixture of fact and fiction was circulating around. Amongst those rumours, were ones that Potimas had created grotesque looking monsters. Those were true to a certain degree, and also incorrect to a certain degree. In truth, there were chimera made without using humans as a base. Potimas had created chimera by crossing various animals. Some of those certainly had a bizarre appearance. Amongst them, were chimera who should be called pseudo-dragons as they had dragonic elements supplied from who knows where inserted into them, and while they were not as large as the real thing they did display high combat abilities, and an incident occurred where the police who raided a laboratory were mowed down by a rampaging pseudo-dragon. Various exaggerated rumours combined to rush out. The problem was, whether the existence of the bizarre looking children could also be compromised. There were humorous rumours of children with bizarre forms due to experiments attacking people. It was like chatting about creepy ghost stories.
The people spreading such rumours weren’t malicious. Because they never actually believed that such children really existed. They were just exaggerating rumours, and chatting about incredulous tales. However, the children who were victims of experiments did in fact exist, and since they did possess strange enough physical elements to be called bizarre, mere rumours had in fact become reality. If the world found out about them, it was obvious that the children would be hurt to a greater or lesser degree. For that very reason, the children were only acknowledged to exist to sympathetic people, and kept secret from the world.
Sariel took the initiative to take care of those children. Since the Sariel Society had lost their biggest donor in Foddway, the scope of their activities became noticeably reduced. However, because of that and another major factor, Sariel had found it necessary to hide herself as well. Thus, she worked at the orphanage.
The reason why Sariel ended up having to go into hiding, was due to her opposition to MA Energy. Potimas who had since disappeared, was the one who announced the theory of MA Energy. According to that, it was possible to create endless amounts of energy without it ever being exhausted, and it was also extremely simple to achieve. In addition, the world was also astonished by the announcement of a way to achieve evolution of the human body.
However, Sariel had known. She knew that MA Energy was something that was stealing the very life force of the planet itself. The word “god” is a generic term for existences that possess large amounts of energy. Going by that theory, planets can also be called a species of god. Vast amounts of energy exists within planets. Energy that can’t be measured physically. That energy is the very life force of the planet itself, and if it is exhausted the planet will die. MA Energy was the energy of the planet, and the act of using it, meant nothing other than shortening the life of the planet.
Immediately after the announcement of the MA Energy theory, Sariel made an official statement regarding the truth of it. However, it wasn’t accepted. While part of the problem was that people were drawn to the convenience of MA Energy, the biggest problem was that Sariel’s words had no authority. MA Energy was seen as a mysterious energy and that nobody except Potimas knew what it was. Regardless of the theory, nobody even knew why such energy would gush forth. In other words, while she did make an official statement about the truth of MA Energy, it wasn’t possible to verify her statements as being correct. Unfortunately, various researchers also made statements about their own personal opinions on the true nature of MA Energy, and Sariel’s statement was taken as simply another opinion. In addition, Sariel was the head of a charitable organisation. Since she wasn’t a researcher or anything like one, almost nobody considered her to be credible. On the contrary, she was treated as a deranged person spouting thoughtless words.
Part of the reason for that, was that the Dragon Religion had made an almost identical statement. As the name suggests, the Dragon Religion is a group that worships the dragons. However, due to the Tragedy of Tetmaia and more, people considered it to be common sense to fear and avoid dragons. The general population considered people who believed in dragons to be deranged. Having made the same announcement as such a bunch, people viewed what the Sariel Society said with suspicion. In spite of it being the truth.
Even so, Sariel assiduously advocated the dangers of MA Energy. Sariel was well aware of what could happen if it was used. She tried everything she could to try to persuade people that they absolutely must stop. However, it was to no avail.
Then, a faction that strongly supported the use of MA Energy, started to harass Sariel who was making negative statements about MA Energy. Threatening letters were sent to her house. When even that did not stop Sariel, they went as far as sending assassins. While Sariel wouldn’t ever die from that, with there even being incidents of people unrelated to the Sariel Society being attacked, Sariel was forced to restrain her activities. Over the fate of the world, Sariel chose the safety of the people close to her. She couldn’t be blamed for that.
And so, while using the occasion to hide herself, Sariel took care of the children. While she could hear the approaching destruction come closer moment by moment, it was also a time of peace.
“Let us eat” – while this might not sound like much of a grace, the Japanese is basically this. Since it’s so short and not obviously religious I went with a more literal translation. In Japanese, it was simply itadakimasu.
“Tragedy of Tetmaia” – as mentioned in Past Arc ②.