|Initial Walk by Morgan Crooks (2019)|
As the light rail car picked up speed, Morris felt his heart race increase. On the speakers, the jangling guitars marking the start of REM’s It’s the End of The World played.
“What is this about anyway?”
King County Advisory Executive Marrion Tims zipped up the front of her dark purple uniform and grimaced.
“Did you watch the videos?”
Now Tims’ eyes blazed. “Instructional videos and mandated onboarding material.”
A glint of something bright attracted Morris’ attention. Far to the south, close to Tacoma, something flared in the bright blue sky.
“What the hell was that?”
“We don’t have a lot of time and I need to know whether you’re ready for the fight.”
“I’d like to know what’s happening.”
The windows rattled in the Link Light Rail’s frames and Morris heard a faint thud. On the horizon the glint dimmed as he caught sight of the first trail of smoke.
“Are we under attack?”
|Capitol Hill by Morgan Crooks (2019)|
Executive Tims brought the cuff of her uniform to her mouth. “I will need to increase our velocity to 65 kph. The aberration has arrived.”
At this request, the green woods and modern condominiums became a blur as they sailed past. For the first time, Morris realized that no one else was in their car. First one and then a trio of helicopters passed overhead, the heavy thump thump of their rotors audible over the rattling din.
Executive Tims sat back in her chair and watched Morris. In the distance were more sounds, each one growing steadily louder.
“Are you telling me Evangelion is real?”
“More or less.”
“So I’m supposed to, what, help manage the flow of traffic with all of Seattle under attack?”
“You are going to help us defeat a monster.”
As if on cue, the crest of an enormous scaly head rose above the hills of Rainier Valley. There was a tremendous explosion, and Morris saw red flame blossom and turn into waves of thick black smoke. As the smoke cleared the general outline of the creature became clear, and Morris had little surprise in recognizing it as the Freemont Troll.
There was chatter from the overhead speakers. Tims again spoke into her cuff. “Acknowledged.”
“What’s going on?”“The monsters first appeared 150 years ago. There is something that does not like the idea of industry and technology and humans building cities. Everyone so often the earth spits up one of these titans and we’re off to the races.”
Morris was slack-jawed as the colossus heaved into view. No matter how much of the thing he saw, there was always more to see, some impossible detail too large and coherent to deny, too large to ever believe.
“How does that thing even stand? It should collapse in on itself.”
“Monsters are too big to fail,” Tims said with a wry smile. “The size is their entire point. They are meant to be a dark reflection of the immensity of modern reality. Think of Godzilla. Born of nuclear hell-fire, a dark commentary on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
“Yeah, but that’s a movie.”
“Movies, cartoons, and books, all art serves that part of the brain which doesn’t go to sleep between catastrophes and still seeks coherent lessons.”
“Are you saying this has happened before?”
“It happens constantly. That is the point of this type of media. It’s so ridiculous and illogical precisely because it must reflect the preposterous scale of the threat.”
“Modernity itself. Each Kaiju, each titan is an avatar of the destructive part of our own reality.”
“How do we fight something like that?”
“Each city has its own way. Seattle and Tacoma decided the most natural course was the King County Metro. Each of the major methods of transportation around Seattle and its suburbs is a separate defense function. The ferry, street cars, buses, monorail and the light rail, they form the five rings on the fist of the King.”
“How do you fight a monster like that with a light rail car? Am I missing something?”
“At the outset of World War One, the general outlines of the German’s assault on France was already etched into the transportation system. The trains brought the troops from the towns and burgs of the German countryside to the frontier. Seattle’s public transit system is designed to safeguard the people who live here from enormous monsters.”
“Yeah, but they’re trains,” he said. “And buses.”
“You are looking at the thing without appreciating its symbol. Think of the Voltron Lions. The point of the lions is not that that the leonid body plan makes the most efficient combat platform but rather that the symbol of robot lions inspires and reaches back to ancestral memories of valor and might.”
“The monorail is based on ancestral memories?”
“Nostalgia for future pasts, I suppose. Look, it doesn’t matter. In a little over five minutes we are going to reach Seattle Center and you are going to need to join with the rest of the team.”
“I’ve never even driven a train before, let alone a mech!”
“Recall how the Voltron robots are driven forward by a pair of joy sticks and big buttons that appear when they are needed. Or think of the “Drift” as it appears in Pacific Rim. You will know how to control the King County Defender because it is your destiny to drive the Link Light Rail. Reach out and grasp the true nature of the Link Light Rail. It is not meant to be steered or controlled. It is meant to fight.”
Morris sat back and closed his eyes. Around him the noises of the cabin died away. He reached inward and outward with his mind and found the faintest of flickers on the edge of his awareness. There was something in the train that was waiting for him. Had, in fact, always been waiting for him.
|Freemont Troll (Wikipedia)|
When he opened his eyes, he was seeing through the front of the train, the rails rushing beneath him. He had somehow opened another set of eyes within the train and he could feel the powerful electical current supplied by the overhead catenaries caused the Siemans S70 to surge forward. With his new perception he knew course he had to take. The Link Light Rail lifted off of the tracks and swiveled in air. Behind him the monstrous outline of the Freemont Troll stomped through the tiny tidy homes of lower Seattle.
Morris reconfigured the body that was his and the train together. He formed arms and legs. The rails rose up and formed a double-edge sword. Although he had had no more than a lesson or two in fighting, he assumed a defensive stance and watched the Troll approach his position. A signal light blinked red in front of him. He knew it would go green.