Chapter 1: Set The World On Fire
Reality is vast.
In the unending spiral in which existence takes shape, humanity is perhaps but an arm, reaching out into the cosmos to grasp its desires. Humans have a fundamental desire for happiness; for love, laughter, affection, and enjoyment. Some go beyond this, and begin to see a greater picture, a beautiful tapestry in which they are but a single thread. Others close their minds and deny humanity's purpose. They wallow only in despair and regret, refusing to long for tomorrow. These are errant, broken threads, their only hope to be woven back into the magnificent work of art we call life.
While one human may equate only to a single thread, it is these threads that form the outlines and colours of an awe-inspiring picture.
For a long time, humanity has thought itself alone, only briefly pausing to question whether there is truly something beyond what is immediately visible and tangible to them. But this has changed. For the tapestry to be complete, countless threads are required, and as individual threads run together, they begin to merge with more and more bundles of threads, coalescing into shapes and hues. The threads become invisible against this infinite beauty, and the impossible becomes possible.
For so long, threads have been scattered and seperated, despair and tyranny stranding and suffocating whole civilizations. But in one glorious moment, the heavens were pierced, and the mockery of a god within cast into oblivion, and now the threads of life weave in and out, destined to meet in the centre at the apex of the tapestry's glory, before spiraling outwards, always improving on past work.
Will it run out of thread one day? No one can tell. But if that day comes, perhaps we will finally gaze upon the weaver of creation, and they will gather up the threads once more to begin the next work.
I do not claim to know the future - at least, not yet. But I watch the present in every waking moment, witnessing the rise of heroes and the genesis of empires. My own story ended so long ago; now, it is time for me to tell the tales of others.
The firmament held an ominous silence. Starlight and dust mingled in the black vastness undisturbed, but laden with a brooding, throbbing menace. It was as if one spark could ignite a supernova, and a lit match would set the emptiness ablaze.
As if to boldly tempt fate, the space station Icarus lumbered into this forebodingly serene image, confidently repeating its geostationary orbit as if nothing was wrong in the slightest. A flash of light could be caught occasionally, the radiance of a nearby sun reflected by one of the solar panels dotting the station. Icarus itself did nothing but press on, relaxed and tireless. If any sound could have been heard, it would most likely have been a distant, sinister rumble. The tension was building; as still and inactive as the system was, it seemed to be on the verge of snapping.
And snap it did.
Lights blared into view, exploding in a plethora of bright colours before loosening into a chaotic, dizzying swirl. Icarus shook from the impact as it was bathed in sickly red light. From the heart of the explosion, a sea of shadows emerged. They were bulky and angular, but vaguely humanoid, and they moved with an odd grace. Slender, sleeker frames began to form a smokescreen as the heavier figures spat a volley of projectiles from behind, inflicting scores and scratches across the station's surface.
The Ymir had arrived, and Icarus was ready for them.
From the bowels of the construct came a swarm of war machines, flames trailing behind them, starfire reflected in their burnished armour. Each one had been forged in the likeness of man, their fists of steel clenched around blades and firearms. Certainly, the Grapearl were an imposing sight, flying resolutely into the oncoming storm, but this heroic image was offset by the aura of fear and chaos emitted by their brutal counterparts. Still, the first charge made short work of the screen of Ymir skirmishers, and opening volleys were exchanged, the true fight beginning.
The blare of several alarms forcibly invaded the privacy of Nakim's head. Swearing, he made his third attempt to establish contact with the rest of his squad. Fiddling with a few switches here and there had no effect; he impatiently kicked the communication console, which immediately set off a sharp crackling sound, before a strained voice filtered through.
'-py? I repeat, Nakim, do you copy?'
Nakim sighed. 'Roger.'
Lieutenant Hector's voice instantly raised in volume for another chastisement. 'Nakim, where in hell are you!? We don't stand a chance if every pilot decides to go racing off into the abyss! Do you want your squad's deaths on your clumsy, incompetent hands!?'
'Maybe I'd be able to find the rendezvous point if you'd stop firing off these goddamn alarms every second!'
Hector's reply was cold and curt. 'It seems necessary to do so if we want to get anything through that thick skull of yours.'
Nakim gritted his teeth in frustration. 'Hell with this then!'
His Grapearl veered forwards, moments before dashing away in the general direction of the implacable wall of Ymir.
'NAKIM! We're supposed to be in hiding, in long range combat!'
Nakim grinned with excitement. 'I hide behind no one!' His Grapearl echoed his sentiments by accelerating, and after a good twenty seconds, Nakim lurched into the foe, rifle raised. He squeezed the trigger with enthusiasm and righteous fury, pouring bullets into the ugly mechs before him. To his satisfaction, he scored more than a glancing hit on two of them, and another hail of ammunition finished them off; they dropped away, smoke and fire belching from great holes and gashes in their bodies.
'NAKIM!!!' spat Hector, his tone completely livid. 'Is this how you react to a few belittling comments?'
'Sorry to say, but that's exactly how it is,' said Nakim, the confidence he felt every time he fought beginning to override any of his restraints. Adrenaline spread through his body as he switched to heavy fire and disposed of the rest of his opponents with a few well-placed rockets.
But he was only facing grunts. Nakim longed for more excitement. He steered sideways and backed away from the combat, gauging his surroundings for the first time. Neither human nor Ymir held the upper hand yet; the battle was entering a stalemate around him. Far to the left he saw the rest of his squad at a fire-support point, the green and grey of their Grapearls' armour marred by burns and scratches, but holding out nonetheless. No doubt Hector was barking more of his orders and instructions to his hapless troops. Nakim had never had time for plans, much to his commanding officer's chagrin, and that wasn't about to change; he once again sped away, keeping his eyes peeled for a route into the enemy's center.
He hurled himself back into the fray, rapid fire streaming from his armaments into the Ymir, who were taken completely by surprise, shocked at the suicidal confidence of the man attacking them with wild abandon. It was too easy; he needed a more frenetic fight to sustain this rush. Abandoning the last shred of subtlety, Nakim bullheadedly rammed his way through the ranks of the opposition, heading for his destination at the heart of the battalion.
'What do you think you're doing?' The squad's long-range expert Kaidomaru sounded as disinterested as ever; his question posed as if it had been asked as a formality. Nakim couldn't help but break into another wide smile.
'I'm going beyond the impossible, and kicking reason to the curb!'
A sudden blast rattled the cockpit; heavyset Ymir mechs bore down on Nakim. 'This is more like it,' he muttered, grasping the trigger once again, only to be met by the click that represented an inconvenient lack of ammo. 'And things just get better!' He instinctively switched to close combat, lashing out at the nearest Ymir with foot after foot of cold steel and slicing straight through the machine's midsection. He attempted to plow through the brutes, only to be knocked back by a humongous arm. He smirked. 'And better.' He charged again, this time abruptly bringing his fist down hard into his opponent's flank. No sooner had he knocked it aside than two of its cohorts moved forward, pummeling his Grapearl. He was forced backwards once again.
Kaidomaru's deadpan issued through comms once again. 'Beyond the impossible indeed. Congratulations.'
Nakim only took his words as a challenge. 'I've only just begun to fight...' He tightened his grip on the controls and let fighting spirit flow through his limbs, his blood burning and his heart pounding. A faint green glow illuminated the cockpit, infusing the Grapearl with new vigour even as the two Ymir lumbered towards it.
In a flash Nakim's blade arced outwards, slicing through the Ymirs' shells like a ship's prow through a stormy sea. He hacked them both aside and resumed combat with the first, this time unleashing a barrage of punches, kicks and slashes, the impacts tearing chunks of metal from the hard carapace. Nakim forcefully thrust his left arm through the armoured exterior into the engines, setting of a chain of combustion that resulted in the Ymir mech exploding spectacularly. Nakim basked in his victory; it had been a much worthier fight. But moments later, more Ymir flooded the space around him, obstructing his flight towards the centre.
Anger combined with his lust for victory drove him ever onwards, blazing a trail of smoke and steel through the horde. As much as the excitement of combat motivated him, Nakim also knew that the Ymir were a threat to the wonderful world and civilization he had been shown, all those years ago, from that treetop. This thought sobered him; he began to slow to a halt, concern for his peers creeping into his mind. Looking around, he saw that he had created an entry point; the Grapearls were driving back most obstacles, and the only concentration of Ymir left was in the middle-rear of the battlefield.
It was a more feminine voice that rang out this time; Corporal Minayo, one of the unit's senior officers. Nakim gave a polite response for once.
'Corporal, I've succeeded in breaking through the front lines.'
Minayo chuckled. 'Yes, I think we gathered that. Kaidomaru and Jet are heading towards your position.'
Nakim slumped in his cockpit, suddenly feeling the strain and tiredness that came with exerting such burning spirit. Thank heavens Hector was busy. Now he didn't have to worry so much about getting ahead of his comrades.
'Oi, Nakim, what the hell do you think this is, a street race? Slow down!'
'It would do you well to act a little more rationally.'
The energetic, enthusiastic Jet and perpetually detached Kaidomaru had caught up, but neither seemed too displeased despite their exasperated words. Nakim greeted them jovially.
'Nice to see some friendly faces. Kaidomaru, have you gathered anything about the enemy's deployment?'
'My long-range visual sensors have received signals forward and slightly to the left from here that match those previously found in Ymir commanding units. On the far right they have positioned artillery units which Lieutenant Hector is dealing with as we speak.'
'Kickass, could you point me to the big one?'
'I am afraid I must ask you to express your enquiry in a more specific manner.'
Nakim smiled wearily. 'Give me approximate coordinates for this 'commanding unit', that's who I'm looking for.'
'Are you sure that is at all wise?'
'Wise? Fuck no. But it's gonna be FUN!'
Kaidomaru could be heard to sigh loudly, even over the tinny voice channel. 'Considering the lengths to which we have needed to go before in order to dissuade you from these harebrained schemes, I find it infinitely more simple to comply with your request. Sending data in 15.'
Nakim felt a rush of anticipation as the machinery in front of him hummed, relaying streams of figures to be displayed on a number of blue screens. He locked on to the Ymir commander's location and accelerated once again.
'Wish me luck!'
Jet spluttered. 'Wait, you can't seriously be-'
Kaidomaru only sighed again. 'You clearly do not know the cretin well enough. I believe the time has come to rendezvous with the others; we are going to need their aid in order to 'bail him out', as the expression goes.'
Nakim was spurred on by the thought of the perilous fight he was about to enter. As he neared his destination he could see them clearly; a guard of heavy mechs in the shape of beasts, coated in a silver sheen, surrounding a large, imposing machine, covered with ornate scarlet markings, a vicious, jagged slab of metal on one arm and a Gatling-gun-esque armament on the other. There was no doubt in his mind that this would be a thrilling confrontation. He quickly configured comms in order to challenge the commander to glorious single combat.
'Ymir bastards! Let me see if your leader is man enough to take on Nakim, taker of a thousand souls!'
The Ymir parted, and cruel laughter flooded Nakim's open comms channel. A deep growl filtered through the aliens' merriment.
'Well, well. It is not even an officer that challenges me, let alone a true hunter! Listen to me, boy, I don't know what your inflated ego has told you, but you are going to regret your insane decision. When you languish in hell, look back at this moment and ask yourself where it all went wrong for you.'
Nakim only cracked yet another of his daredevil grins. 'You talk the talk... but can you walk the walk?'
Wordlessly he forced more Spiral power into the Grapearl's systems, tightened his grip on his sword, and prepared to charge. The Ymir chief only found this more amusing.
'It would seem you are lacking in any weaponry besides a chipped knife and a pathetic amount of Spiral power. This will be all too easy.'
The chief's mech glowed a malevolent red, its limbs and body tense, ready to burst forward at any moment.
Instantly scores of bullets riddled his Grapearl's body, dozens of seperate impacts shaking the frame. He grimaced.
'It's supposed to be a fair fight here!'
The alien threw aside his gun and gave a bark of amusement. 'Fine. Weapons make no difference to me. I could crush you with my bare hands.'
He hurtled ahead once again and they clashed for the first time. The Ymir leader hacked down with his cruel cleaver, but this time Nakim easily blocked and absorbed the blow, lashing out with a sharp kick that knocked the bulky mech away. Refusing to give his enemy even a moment to retaliate, Nakim slammed recklessly into him, using the momentum to carry a forward thrust of his sword into the unshielded body. Next he unleashed a series of frenzied slashes that criss-crossed along the armoured beast, rips and gashes opening in its casing.
'Showing some enthusiasm, are we, human?' jeered the Ymir chief. He brought the fist which had previously held devestating ranged armament down onto the back of Nakim's Grapearl, pulverizing its rear defenses. Nakim almost threw up from the force of the blow, but refused to retreat, instead slamming into his rival's mech once again, and again, blasting it back, always sustaining his offense, punctuated with strikes and slashes. The Ymir was taken aback by the brutal assault, and withdrew a short distance, gathering more Spiral power.
'It seems this won't be such a poor hunt after all,' the chief rumbled. Nakim felt cold defiance pouring from within him, and raised his voice.
'You're not taking down a defenseless herbivore here. You've picked a prey that bites back!' Let the alien have his 'hunt', he thought to himself. It's the last half-assed metaphor he''ll ever make.
Nakim attacked again, this time with more precised, focused momevements, dodging the retaliatory hits for once. He clenched his left fist, waiting for an opening, launching flurries of cuts from his weapon, until the Ymir switched from uppercuts to a parry to the right, and Nakim rammed the fist square into the now-vulnerable head, which was demolished by a burst of Spiral power.
'Upstart, don't think this means you've w-' The growl was cut off as Nakim wildly pummeled the body with his Grapearl's limbs, sending chips of exoskeletal material flying and making a series of huge dents.
'You don't know what you're dealing with here, bitch!' roared Nakim, throwing aside his sword to pound the Ymir with every foot and fist he had available.
He beat him forcefully, raining down punches and kicks like a madman. Metal clashed with metal as he attacked, until he spotted a weakened shoulder, grabbed the attached arm and tore it off. With great effort the Ymir commander boosted away, his machine heavily damaged. Nakim trembled with exertion as the satisfaction of victory circulated around his body.
'Very well... it seems I've underestimated you,' the Ymir gasped. 'But there is a certain level of force even you cannot overcome. Men, it is time!'
Nakim looked on in shock as the guards formed a protective circle around their leader, their very shapes shifting and warping. Hatches opened, limbs linked, and pistons pumped as a horrifying new machine was formed around the chief. They were combining, coalescing into a vast, vaguely humanoid shape. Multi-limbed, it bristled with guns and spikes, red flames of Spiral power dancing along its surface. Its six arms each bore a titanic instrument of destruction, and its mighty legs were lined with thrusters and jets. The glistening silver of its thick shell was interrupted only by its blood red core, the remains of the leader's personal mount. It was a truly imposing sight.
Nakim felt uneasy for the first time; this was something he could not hope to beat alone. But, as luck would have it, he was not alone at all.
'Nakim, you insubordinate piece of spit!' bellowed Hector, his voice once again showing off just how unsuited it was for indoor use. 'Look at what you've done!'
Nakim breathed out, for once relieved to see the squad racing towards him. They certainly seemed a little worse for wear, although Nakim realized that his own Grapearl was most likely in a terrible state.
'As I see it,' said Nakim, 'I've broken through the front lines, taken out a decent portion of Ymir, created an opening for the rest of the army, and defeated the enemy commander in single combat. Not a bad job, eh?'
'No. No, Nakim, you're just wrong.'
'Thanks to your ridiculous antics, three units were forced to retreat after attempting to follow you into combat, creating a significant disadvantage against the heavy mechs. And as soon as we manage to get the upper hand, you go and drag us into a fight against this behemoth with no support or avenues of retreat, a fight we are almost certain to lose!'
'I never asked you to-'
'They're all here, Nakim, all about to die for your stupidity, just as I predicted!'
'Just get the hell out of here, then! You won't care if I go down against this thing, right?!'
'I don't leave men behind, you know that!'
Nakim ground his teeth in frustration. Hector's posturing was exactly what was getting his unit killed.
'You know what, Lieutenant?'
'What? What now?!'
'... Screw you sideways.'
Nakim once again threw himself in the face of overwhelming odds, ignoring his comrades' screams. He flew towards the giant, sure he was going to die.
Sure enough, a gargantuan axe swooped into his Grapearl; even as he attempted to dodge its right limbs were shorn off. The enormous mech punted him away, the collision shattering half his remaining armour. Even now, the rest of his unit were charging in, but Kaidomaru's bullets could not dent the monster; the others fired shells and bullets of all kinds but still did not scratch it. It was over before it had even begun - even as other squads arrived, any attacking mechs were batted aside. The terrible beast bore down on the broken Grapearls, reloading its armaments, raising its axes and cleavers, ready to finish them. For once in his life, Nakim accepted defeat. They were doomed. As the massive executioner slowly brought its arms down, Nakim closed his eyes.
Bursts of dazzling green light shocked him to his senses as the great weapons shattered. An overwhelmingly comforting and inspiring sight rose into view.
Gurren Lagann had arrived!
Even the behemoth was forced to recoil in fear as Gurren Lagann calmly materialized its drills and swooped towards it, brilliant green fire wrapping around it, creating the image of a radiant comet plunging towards the previously invincible Ymir. Gurren Lagann punched straight through its core, releasing its individual components into the surrounding space before the core's spectacular explosion consumed them completely.
The battle finally over, Nakim lay back exhausted as his wrecked Grapearl drifted towards Icarus.