A Meeting to Save the World

A MeetingMachine to SaveMake the World

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"The world is ending?"

Slightly quaking, I repeated what I heard into the receiver.

"Ah, it's ending. That's confirmed."

From the exclusive line to the O5 Council, protected from eavesdropping, slowly came a deep chorus of the same words. To me on this end of the line, who had nothing to say, they discussed the meaning of those words.

It appeared as if multiple objects capable of seeing the future had, in unison, predicted the end of the world. It was certainly an emergency, but… was it really the "destruction of the world"? Up till now, the threat of predicted K-class scenarios had come up again and again. Even so, humanity was still here.

There had to be other reasons they called it "the destruction of the world". O5-1 was not the type of person to jump to conclusions just because many objects agreed on the same thing.

"Is that it?"

"No. The problem is that the day the world is said to end… is in 64 days."

Thought stiffened. Barely more than two months? That was too little time to enact countermeasures. So that was why they said the world was ending — the chance was high enough. Though nothing else was said, in my mind I understood what it meant. O5-1 put their ear to the receiver.

"We need to meet immediately. I've already invited everyone else but you. Thirteen, you need to come to Site-01 as soon as possible."

There was no disagreeing with such orders. We had to keep the response to the end of the world top secret. In view of that, the best option was to meet in person.


With that acknowledgement, the call ended.

… 64 days later? Wasn't that too sudden? Why was it ending? These hard-to-swallow questions unconsciously stirred in my mind as the receiver creaked. Taking a deep breath, I loosened my grip on the handset and put it down. I stood up, taking my coat from the secretary waiting by my side. The important thing now was to get to Site-01 as soon as possible.

"Prepare the Undershuttle to Site-01."

"Got it."

Hurriedly, I told my secretary what I needed, grabbed a bag with the bare necessities, put on my coat and exited the room, walking down the passageway.

Perhaps I was being impatient, but before I realized it I was running down the corridors, sweat dripping from my brow. At least I'd gotten some water from my secretary — I was getting thirsty, and that was annoying.

"Project Reboot". Held up in prominent letters over the center, it was the name of the project meant to avoid the end of the world. As the forerunners of this project, the meeting at Site-01 had spent six hours just to prove that on the X-Day in 64 days — codenamed "the COUNTOVER" — the K-class scenario that was predicted to happen would be almost impossible to handle. Even the O5s were human, and having discussed for six hours without a break, the fatigue was visible on our faces.

In preparation for the predicted K-class scenario — nobody knew the details, so the new designation of SD-Class "Shutdown" Scenario had been invented for it — what should be done? Even if we tried to prepare something, we didn't know how it would end, and if we didn't know, there was no way to prepare anything. That was the one thing we knew about the SD-Class "Shutdown" scenario. And as there was nothing specific we knew, this project was rejected.

Could we investigate the COUNTOVER through time-manipulating objects? That would be a dangerous action that could shake the timeline, and depending on what specifically the K-class was, the information brought back could affect the present, so that project was rejected too.

And after that, what was proposed… whether these "last resorts" like escaping into outer space or using another Keter-class object to neutralize it would allow them to avoid the SD-Class was unknown, so it was simply a gamble. Whether it was possible to escape that kind of scenario, and whether the SD-Class was really going to happen… though, every future-predicting object, from the fortune cookies that told you your future to the old man who experienced time backwards to the clock whose hands ticked down to the exact time of the end, regardless of size or specificity was pointing to the same 64-day deadline, the chance that it would actually happen was especially high, and such doubts were soon dispelled.

And now, the meeting room was quiet. Everyone was sitting in tall chairs, hanging their heads. Someone sighed quietly. "Dammit." "Nothing we can do would work." Nobody spoke up, not even me.

Resting my head that seemed like it would collapse from the despair, I took a new piece of information. I recalled its name, written on a sheet of paper. Once upon a time a doctor had proposed it to the O5s, and it was laughed off as impossible and rejected. Even looking at it now, it seemed just as impossible as it had appeared that day. It was a silly, silly idea, sillier than anything else we'd seen, so much so that we questioned the sanity of the doctor who proposed it.

But somehow, every time I rolled up that page, I felt my despair fade a little. I read over it time and time again. "Project Arca"… In a hoarse voice, I muttered its codename, and I noticed just how dry my throat was. I reached for the water I'd forgotten for six hours, the first time since the meeting began, and in order to prepare for what I would do next, I downed the entire bottle in one gulp.

Bang — I slammed the empty plastic bottle on the table loud enough to make a sound. Everyone looked at me, startled. I stood up, checked the documents in my hand, and looked across the meeting room. The project I was about to propose was incredibly stupid. It was absurd. It was insane. It could have been laughed at, I didn't know.

But there was no choice.

"I have a proposal."

With the project to execute decided, the meeting ended. The O5 Council scattered to their respective Sites to finish their duties, soon to reassemble.

The Undershuttle — the Foundation's train system running deep underground. This secret subway known only to Foundation personnel was capable of high-speed motion, making it extremely important in emergencies. The O5s each boarded their own carriages and set off for their respective Sites.

Of course, I used it too. The next train was in five minutes, and as I swung my legs sitting on a bench in the empty terminal, the elevator door opened. Looking at me, leaving heavy footprints on the terminal floor, he walked towards me.

"Why? What the hell did you propose, Thirteen?"

Standing in my view, he stared down at me, sitting on the bench.


Not understanding the meaning of his words, I waited for him to speak again.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, pushing through such a stupid plan? The COUNTOVER is in 64 days! Can't there be a better option?"

As if to vent his anger, he rattled on. Of course, he'd opposed it the whole way at the conference. To appease him, I made my case quietly.

"Calm down, Eleven. Though I was the one who proposed it, I didn't push it through. It passed 8 to 5, popular vote. Even if you were to kill me now, the end of the world wouldn't change, and neither would the execution of the project."

"Even then, I have my complaints — Building a machine to reconstruct the world? That's impossible! You're insane!"

As if to push through my words, Eleven interrupted. His irritation seemed to be more from fear than from wanting to vent his frustration at me. I smiled and replied.

"No, I'm perfectly sane. "Project Arca" was approved because we determined that it was possible for us, the Foundation."

I stopped Eleven, who was about to complain, and continued.

"Do you really think we have any other options? Do you actually think we could harness a Keter to counteract it? Of course not. Even if we escaped into outer space, there's no telling whether we'd be spared. As long as we don't know the reason, the best option is to weather the destruction that is predicted, don't you think?"

I said it all at once, with no room for him to butt in.

Eleven went quiet. For a while, he stared at me, almost as if he wanted to shoot me. Satisfied, I sighed and sat back down on the bench. Time passed silently for a moment.

Breaking that silence was the roaring of the Undershuttle. Good timing, I wanted to thank the driver. As I thought that to myself, I walked towards the open shuttle door, and as I did so, Eleven said something from behind me.

"… You're a strange one. We can't possibly make everything the way it was."

I stopped and turned back. Smiling, I responded.

"Why not? If we don't try, we'll never know."

I looked away from Eleven, sitting on the bench staring at me dumbfounded, and boarded the shuttle.

This could be an insane project for all I know. But two months is far too much time to give up. The shuttle sped up to full speed. With the Undershuttle, it doesn't take much time to get anywhere, but even that time was wasted here. I wrote down everything I could think of at the moment into the Project Arca document.

64 days to game over.

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