A/N: Well this is it, the last chapter of the Level upper arc and probably the last chapter of this story as well, maybe I'm not really cut out for this after all. Even thought our time together is short, i sincerely thank everyone who have supported me all this time. Who know, maybe i'll decide to see this little pipe dream of mine through to the end. If not then maybe some day you guy will hear from me again, if that time ever come i hope that you guy will still supporting me just like this time. Without further ado, here you go
Chapter 3: Mayfly
Commence Dream Sequence ... IN HD
"And the man, after drawing the holy sword from the stone, is crowned the King of Britain, together with his twelve trusted Knights of the Round, he defeat countless invader and bring peace to his country. The End. Ok time to sleep, i must say i'm surprised by your taste in fairy tale Kuro, tell me do want want to be a King instead a handsome prince rescuing a beautiful princess?"
"No mom, King and prince and princess is boring, what i want is to be ..."
Waking up, again to the annoying sound of that infernal clock. I show it no mercy this time, the clock hit the ground with a satisfying CLANK, however the damn thing just keep on ringing. The room is entirely way too hot, did the power go out overnight? The fact that Academy City have the most stable supply of energy and water in the world mean that the is the result of someone's misconduct, may God have mercy on their soul if i get my hand on them.
I soon as i sit up from the bed, i know this is gonna be a terrible day. The mattress is wet ( no i DID NOT have an accident) and so is my clothes. Said clothes is sticking to my skin due to the sweat couple with the fact that the air in the room is damp and hot make it extremely uncomfortable and suffocating. Despite not being a morning person i hastily get out of bed and open all the window in the room, then i immediately proceed to my daily morning routine, damn never though that changing clothes could felt so good before. There is a missed call from Nakago last night, i must have been to focused on my practice, i immediately call him again ... no answer. Guess it's nothing important ... right?
Time to face music ... yep, just as i fear. My stash of Haagen-Daz ... gone ... damn whoever cause this blackout to hell, and when they're there, damn them again. Taking out of of the ruined ice-cream and all the can in the sink, slam shut the fridge, slam shut the door, i need to get out of here or else i'll go crazy, and this is still early in the morning.
It's been a long time since i last take a walk outside. Despite my terrible attendance, i usually just sleep through the day or practice my power at home when i'm not in school, yep, shut-in extraordinaire right here. When i was young I enjoy going out a lot, wonder what happened, come to think of it, as soon as i got out of the dorm my mood instantly get better, however in place of it there is an unsettling feeling. Nah, perhaps some fresh air is all that i need, maybe i'll crash at the arcade or something, i'll just get something to eat first.
I bought a crepe from a conveniently nearby stand, the shopkeeper also give my a strange frog mascot, who would want this lame kiddie stuff i can never fathom, unless they are, well, kids. Now for something to drink, a vending machine would do, as i recall there is one at the park.
Academy City is truly a city of constant innovation, even their juice are experimental. "Homemade Cold Wind ~ A Sweet-Red Bean Soup "With Grain", too gloomy, "Duel Ranch Specialty Pork-Cutlet Sandwich Drink", too weird, "Soybean Flour Condensed Milk", ok i'll bite. I put in an extremely rare 2000 yen note, press the button and wait ... and wait ... and wait ... WHAT THE FUCK, this machine ate my god damn money, i was gonna turn it into scrap metal when i realize that the 2000 note is still in my hand ... what the hell? this is weird. Maybe i'm just mistaken, just calm damn, put the note in, press the button, and wait ... and wait ... and wait ...
This time i send i punch straight at that piece of crap. The alarm didn't sound, which proved that this vending machine is old and broken down. But that's not important, the moment my fist touch the machine, information about its component and machinery flash through my head.
Judging the concept of creation
Hypothesizing the basic structure
Duplicating the composition material
Imitating the skill of its making.
Bewilder, i slowly reach my hand to the empty space next to the machine, and concentrate ... Immediately an identical machine materialized right next to the old one ... Could this be ... I take out another note and put it in the fake machine, press the button and wait, sure enough a fake can of juice pop out. I just stood there, frozen, after a moment, the fake machine, along with the fake can of juice, vanish with a small sound of broken glass.
The event the night before come back to me.
So that's it huh? Level upper really work, the rumor seem to be true, for once . This is weird, i thought i would be happier, no sense of exhilaration, no sense of accomplishment, just the unsettling feeling that refuse to leave my gut. Maybe i should go back to my dorm and figuring out the full extend of my recently improved power, no, maybe i should have some fun with it first.
Looking around for something potentially exciting, nope, just the boring everyday scenery. Wait, the large monitor outside of a shopping mall nearby is displaying some of Academy City latest invention, including the newest model hoverboard. Normally just visual of the object is not enough for exact duplicating but the screen briefly show the hologram of the inner working of the hoverboard.
Judging the concept of creation
Hypothesizing the basic structure
Duplicating the composition material
Imitating the skill of its making.
A grin crept onto my face.
It seem that 30 years technology advance still can't be consider a futuristic setting yet, sure we may have something like a space elevator but i heard there are some major problems occur right at the day of the opening ceremony. Case in point, the hoverboard may seem cool and is definitely an unusual sight at first glance but it still just stop at being a sporty and fancy entertainment for young teenager, it can't fly very high, its speed is incomparable to a car and it definitely wont safe me if i was to fall from a 50 feet building.
Maybe it's just that I don't know how to probable control it yet, Projection doesn't come with an instruction manual but seriously, a shame really but still all it take is a bit of balancing and concentration, it's not very har ... oops, sorry,wait! That spiky hair guy seem familiar ... a skyward scream interrupts my musing.
" Fukou Da!..."
Nevermind, sorry man, i really am, guess you'll have some extra shopping to do.
Admittedly, the wind blowing through my hair, scream of panic and marvel of bystander sure is relaxing, but the unsettling feeling in my stomach still haven't subside, especially the closer i got to the dorm. Maybe i should crash at the arcade, there're still lots of time left ... Wait, something'd not right, why do i, shut-in extraordinaire find the strength to wake up so early in the morning, i usually just sleep in until noon. The blackout can't be that bad since i have slept through worse things, like the calculus teacher.
What is with these feeling, the justified but too intense urge to leave the dorm this morning, the spur to just messing around in the street instead of returning to my dorm and figuring out my power even though the electricity problems must have been fixed by now. In fact, everytime i think about going back to my dorm, that idea is immediately shot down, maybe i'm just paranoid, It's probably nothing ... Wait, there it is again, something is definitely wrong. I'm immediately make an U-turn straight back to the dorm.
I have to get back to the dorm.
There's probably nothing though.
I have to get back to the dorm.
Maybe I'm just exaggerating things.
I have to get back to my dorm.
It's just my imagina...
Black smoke cloud the sky. Heat washing through my body in waves.
The dorm is on fire. And nobody around as far as the eye could see.
What's going on? Who did this? Why hasn't anyone notice this? For that matter, where is everyone? The unsettling feeling is gone too.
No, wait! Somebody's walking out of the burning building, it's a man, no, a VERY tall boy. He's wearing a black priest robe but no the kind you see giving lecture in the church every weekend. His long hair is dyed red, he's wearing rings on all of his finger, his ear is pieced with several rings and he has a barcode tattoo under his right eye. The most important point is however, there is a girl in white nun habit on his shoulder, her back is bleeding.
In short, he look like a typical shounen villain.
"Hey you, what the hell happened here?
Surprise flash across his face but only for a moment, he answer calmly.
"We're just visiting some relative here, but he's not here, the dorm suddenly caught fire and i just manage to get her out of here, now if you excuse me i need to find help as soon as possible, can you call the fire department for me? Thank."
And with that he walks away. Wow, there are so many thing wrong with that lame half-ass excuse i don't know where to begin.
And it's look like he know that too as he react accordingly and jumped back to avoid the bullet.
"That wound is not something you can get from a fire, and no offense man, you look totally suspicious."
The cat is out of the bag, there is no reason to keep up this farce, he gently set the girl down and narrow his eyes at me threateningly.
"And here I am, in one of my rare mood and decide to spare a life in god's name. Well whatever, i'm suppose to destroyed all evidence and witness anyway. I don't know how you got pass the Opila rune but consider it a cruel joke of fate, may you find peace in death."
While he's too busy with his cliche villain line, i immediately load in another futuristic looking bullet with three spring-loaded fins that deploy upon ejection from the gun. It's call the Taser XREP ( extended range electro projectile ), and is the most commonly use non-lethal bullet by Anti-skill. It cause "neuromuscular incapacitation" which is not based on pain and cannot be overcome, a taser in bullet form.
You must be wondering if i'm a weapon freak since i know all of those useless information. The truth is this is my first time firing a real gun, i just know how to, the same go with the bullet, i have never seen one before, i just know.
The reason that, in Academy City, student is encouraged to improve their power and the city itself provide their best and suitable support when it come to power development. With powers that with great utility but require vast amount of technical knowledge to be useful like mine, Electromaster, Technopath, ... they occasionally invite is to large Expo or Exhibition for us to get in touch with the latest technology. For mundane but useful skill and knowledge, instead of forcing us to spend hours upon hours cramming it, which proved to be not very effective, they just hook us to a machine called TESTAMENT, which basically mean using bioelectric signals to "download" the knowledge straight to our brain.
In short, this is the first time all the knowledge that has been forced into my head become useful.
"Kenaz. Purisaz Naupiz Gebo"( Flame. A Gift Of Pain For The Giant).
That guy must have realized i have no intention to listening to his rant. A sword of flame suddenly appear in his hand and he immediately swung it downward.
I instinctively rise both my hand and cover my face, but immediately realize that it won't help much.
The sword connect and explode violently. Heat waves, flashes of light, explosive noise, and black smoke burst in every direction.
"Maybe i overdid it. Oh well what done is done. Though this is a little late, if you have any complain, please give it to god, my name is Stiyl Magnus but i geuss Fortis931 is fine too."
With the same amount of care as someone who just squash an ant, Stiyl begin walking back to the girl and presuming his business.
BANG! Another gunshot rang through the empty space and Stiyl hit the ground convulsing.
" Wha ... What? H ... How? That was a 3000 degree flame, even if his skin is made of iron he would melts like a sugar sculpture, there shouldn't even been any trace of him left!
Looking back in an awkward position, when the smoke is cleared, what he see standing where the body should have been splatter like a piece of gum is a slab of metal as big as a door.
"No way, there couldn't be any material that could withstand that temperature, even if there is the heat should have kill you just the same"
I walk out from behind the slab of metal with my hand covering my face from the smoke, a little disoriented by the loud explosion but otherwise mostly unharmed.
"You standing in the city of science, don't underestimate its power. Anyway there is material like that thought, STARLITE, which commonly use to build space shuttle. It can withstand and insulate from extreme heat, up to 10,000 degree, there still along way before we can go anywhere near the sun though. That conclude our little science 101, if you have any question, ask your freaking god."
I'm heading toward the girl to check her condition, Anti-skill can deal with that guy later. But as i walk pass his downed figure, i heard him mutter some thing.
"Ash to Ash
Dust to Dust
Squeamish Bloody Rood"
Two flaming sword suddenly appear in hi hand. I Immediately jump away from but it's already too late. Most esper wouldn't be able to use their power in that state, so I just made the same mistake that i just criticized that guy, which is underestimating the opponent, payback's a bitch i guess.
Another deafening explosion rang out, this time it's more violent and destructive than the last.
When the flames and smoke cleared, the entire area looked like hell.
Someone would think that a bomb has gone off here just second ago.
I laid across the burning asphalt, the hastily create piece of STARLITE safe my life, but my clothes is badly scorched and there is first and second degree burn all over my body.
I wobbly stand up, even if it's incredibly painful, if I stay down, I'll inevitably be finished.
That guy have struggle stand too, but unlike me, he's completely fine, even his clothes is not damaged, it's just the paralyzing effect of the bullet is leaving his body.
"Still alive i see, well good job so far, but i'm done playing around with you. I actually prepared a lot more in the dorm but the other guy didn't showed up and I'm too lazy to collect all of it and instead just burn it all down. Well this is a valuable lesson i guess, luckily I still have some spare."
He take out a bunch of card in his coat and throw them onto the ground, then he begin to chant.
"MTWOTFFTO. (One of the five great elements from which the world is constructed.)
IIGOIIOF. (The great flame of the beginning.)
IIBOLAIIAOE. (It is a light of blessing that raises life and a light of judgment that punishes evil.)
IIMHAIIBOD. (It is overflowing with calm blessings and with freezing misfortune that destroys cold darkness.)
IINFIIMS. (Its name is fire and its role is the sword.)
ICRMMBGP! (Be manifested and become the power that eats into my body!)"
What the heck? This guy think this is some kind of RPG game or something? Maybe he's using a mantra to concentrate better just just mine, what what's the deal with those card.
The torso of Stiyl's priest's habit swelled out and forces from within popped off the buttons.
With the roar of flames sucking in oxygen, a giant mass of fire shot out from within his clothes.
It was not merely a mass of flames.
The crimson burning flames had something black and dripping like fuel oil at its core. It was in the form of a human. The thing was reminiscent of the seabirds dripping with black fuel oil after a tanker accident, and it was eternally burning.
"Its name was Innocentius. Its meaning was "I will surely kill you."
In that moment, I'm sure that the opponent I'm facing is not an ordinary esper.
In that moment, I know that nothing i do will work anymore, nothing can save me this time.
In that moment, I know i won't be walking out of this alive.
In that moment, I felt fear.
From then on, everything is a swirl of chaos and panic.
The giant flame god who bore the meaning of certain death spread its arms and charged toward me like a bullet.
A wall of STARLITE rise up but it just side-step out of the way and attack from the size, i quickly dive out and avoid a face-full of flaming fist. The flame monster stuck the ground and an explosion occur, blasting me away.
Thing just go on like that, the flame giant know no rest and i desperately try to stay alive, after every attack the burn on my body worsen, my vision getting more and more blurry and the heat make it hard to concentrate.
Everything i create that is not made of STARLITE instantly melted down, the heat radiating from the giant burn out every projectile and make it impossible to approach.
The situation is hopeless, the asphalt is melting under my feed and the same go for my shoes, i feel like I'm walking on lava.
There is no way for me to defeat this monstrosity, i should just lie down and let him make this quick. Or at least i can try and run away, not this kind of "avoid death as much as possible" run away but the "get the hell out of here" run away.
But i shot that idea down right away, why? I this another trick? No, it's like that idea didn't even cross my mind in the first place.
What wrong? It's not like i have never run away before, in fact, I used to just ignore all of it and don't get involved at all in the first place.
Why is it that inside of me, there a burning feeling of defiance, like i can't accept this kind of ending, a feeling that I want to do something very important and I want to do it no matter what.
Come to think of it, this feeling is very familiar, i have felt it , a long time ago.
When my mom read me story about the legends of heroes
When i see some kid in my school got bullied
When i see a girl in my class cry.
"No mom, King and Prince and Princess is boring, what i want is to be ... "the heroes of justice"
Oh yeah, now that i remember, i used to think that way. I wanted to be a hero, I help anyone i come across and standing up for anyone who need it.
Now that i think about it, that was the only times when i felt truly happy.
But why? What happened? Why did I stop?
Another piece of memory that I didn't know I remember come back to me.
I'm lying in and alley after getting beated up along with the guy I tried to save.
I regain consciousness in the hospital a day later to my mother teary eyes.
"You have to stop doing stupid things like this Kuro, you are not a hero!"
That's right, when you grow up, you realized that the world is not as beautiful as you thought. It's a cold dark place where everyone is for themself.
There is no hero, at least I'm no hero. They only exist in legends and manga.
Maybe that's why I'm still reading it even at my age.
I enjoy reading about heroes, their epic quest, their mighty feats, their heroic sacrifices.
But that doesn't change the fact that I'm just a normal person with no power.
When begging my parents to let me come to Academy City, i though that would change.
I'm still pretending, unable to let go.
People said that my dream is just a kiddie fantasy, and they're right.
When I was young I pretend that I'm the hero.
When I see a person in trouble, all I can do is pretend I didn't see anything and walk away.
Even now, I still can't get over those kiddie fantasy, even though I pretend that I've put that past me a long time ago
So that's it, pretending, FAKING, that's all I ever do, and that's all I ever good at.
The flame giant finally got me into a corner, behind me is the burning dorm, in front of me is the firery death god. The oily fuel within the flames writhed, changed form, and now seemed to be holding a sword in both hands. No, it was not a sword but a giant cross, over two meters long, of the crucifying type.
"There no where to run now, accept your fate, your sin and prepare to be purify by the flame of purgatory."
Running? If i want to, If would have done that a while a go already,after all I used to do it a lot in the past ... But what about now, why can't I no longer pretending, why did I stop turning my face away, why do i feel like i can't run away anymore?
Is it because I have power now? Do I feel like I can do it because my power can be call a REAL power now?
But this power is not REAL, this is a FAKE power with a FAKE level I obtained from level upper.
So this courage must also be a FAKE.
I see, even now I'm still pretending.
Even now, I'm just a fake.
With a deafening roar, the flaming monster swung down the giant flaming cross.
I close my eye, but not because i give up. If I'm a FAKE then so be it,even a FAKE have its value, and I'll going in a manner befitting of a FAKE.
IMAGINE THE STRONGEST WEAPON POSSIBLE.
What come to my mind is not a canon, rocket launcher, gun but a SWORD.
EVEN IF IT'S JUST AN ILLUSION, I'LL BELIEVE IN IT.
Judging the concept of creation.
A sword that can only be drawn by the worthy. A sword that promise victory.
Hypothesizing the basic structure.
A majestic sword with golden handle, with fairy letter engraved on the blade,It cannot be called beautiful because of its appearance for the description of "beautiful" will only dirty it.
Duplicating the composition material.
The crystallization of the wishes of mankind.
Imitating the skill of its making.
Forged and tamper within the planet, blessed by the fairy.
Sympathizing with the experience of its growth
It is sacred, weaved only out of hope.
Reproducing the accumulated years.
The epic life of the legendary king flash through my eyes. Those story that have mesmerized me as a kid. The knowledge that I engraved onto my soul instead of being downloaded to me by a machine.
When i open my eye, i realized that not a moment have passed, the flaming cross is still being swung down, with the clumsiness of someone using a sword for the first time-as the TESTAMENT didn't seem to think this knowledge is important- i swung the sword up and parry the firery giant.
A FAKE sword should have perish along with the FAKE hero that's wielding it. What an appropriate ending for a FAKE.
But it's the giant that got repelled.
At that time I didn't know.
In this world there exist something called the Idol Theory. The term used to refer to the phenomenon wherein an imitation of a whole or parts of a subject, the source, gains properties and attributes that are inherent to that source. That where the man who's standing before me draws his power from.
But like I said, as of the current moment, I didn't have that knowledge, but i still held the sword high above my head.
"Those that take reality at it is and is bounded by it they believed that they've worked as "hard" as everyone else but can't improve, went something doesn't go their way they blame their circumstances instead of improving themself."
I don't really care that it's not suppose to work, or find it weird that it did. I only focus on acting out this farce until the end.
"Those who see the world through their own eyes, keep chasing their dream and ambition even if it's impossible, those who disregard the cold hard rule of reality, break out of it, make their own rule and following it are those that deserve respect. The power to change is not to be earned but to be taken by those with enough courage."
The FAKE hero called out the name of the FAKE sword in his hand. A sword so famous that when you ask somebody to name a famous sword, you'll probably get its name as the answer.
The FAKE sword, an imitation of one of the most famous sword in man kind history, begin to glow in an intense yellow light.
At the same time, i feel that pain erupts through my entire body, I can feel that some of my organ has ruptured, blood explode out my body at random places. My voice however did not falter.
And the FAKE hero swung down the FAKE sword.
And from the FAKE sword, an intense stream of light burst forth like a giant laser, it completely obliterates the flaming giant and continue to blown away the asphalt, heading straight at the priest, destroys all runes card on the ground. The man in question immediately pick up the girl and make a swan dive out of the destroyed path, making sure to use his body as a cushion.
A shockwave tore through the air around his ear, His sense of balance was partially destroyed, But he immediately sit up, summon two flaming sword in his hands and take a defensive stance in front of the nun. He don't know what happened, he don't know how did that happened, his only concern right now is the safety of the nun behind him.
As for me.
I stood there marvel at the destruction i caused.
So that's it huh?
I take a step forward.
I'm no hero.
But I can pretend to be one.
I have no power.
But I can pretend to have some.
I take a second step forward. My head is all stuffed up, my whole body is hot, i feel like my clothes is about to catch fire.
But I feel so good.
This feeling is what I've been looking for my whole life.
The third step. My muscle ache, i can barely walk, blood is escaping my body freely, there is not enough moisture in my eyes, everything is blurry, the next time i blink, i might never open my eyes again.
The answer I have been desperately looking for is in front of my eyes all along. I just pretend I didn't see it.
But no more.
The FAKE sword in my hand disappeared with a sound of broken glass and i hit the HOT hard floor moments later.
I want to become ...
The Calculate Fortress, more widely known as the Windowless Building by the citizen of Academy City, true to its name, it's a tall building that is literally windowless with no sight of corridor, stair, air duct or entryway making access only possible through a Lv4 Teleporter. It's not open to the general public and is constantly protected by strict security. This building is rumored to be the base operation of the General Superintendent of Academy City.
Somewhere inside the building, a quadrangular room is being light up dimly by the artificial light of countless monitor. In the middle of the room is a cylindrical tube filled with red alkaline, inside of it is a Being floating upside down. The Being is indescribable by any word other than human, that human seemingly pay no heed to the fact that its current position will make water go into its nose or that the many monitor in the room is up side down in its point of view.
"It's seem that i have miscalculated the potential of this subject."
Although he's the only one visible in this room, a second disembodied voice speak up, the temperature in the room suddenly drop even though there is obviously no ventilation.
"Really? He seem interesting enough, let me talk to him Aleister."
"Getting bored again i see? Then so be it."
Even after the boy has hit the ground, Stiyl shows no sign of relax, flaming sword still raised, sweat rolling off his face, eyes entirely focus on the downed figure. After a while, it's clear that the youth is not getting up, he heave a sign of relieve, checking the nun for any sign of injury, mind i chaos.
What was that? No, there is no question about it, that was definitely magic, is he a magician? That not true, judging by the state he's in right now, it's obvious that he's an esper. How did an esper learn to use magic anyway? Is he the same as that Backstabbing Blade? No, he didn't followed any ritual, his manipulation of his own internal energy is non-existent and it look like he doesn't have the first idea about magic beside smoke and mirror. In fact the only reason that it didn't backfire on him spectacularly is that the object was so real that it's symbolic meaning is enough to get the job done.
In short, he was just lucky.
Summoning his flaming swords, Stiyl slowly approaching the boy, every step filled with caution and determination. He stood over the boy body, sword poised to strike. Lucky or not, the boy is a threat, to the magic side, to her. No, he won't let anything happen to her, he made a promise, she may not remember it but he is, he will protect her from any harm, even if that mean burn down any and every threat, even potential one.
The phone in his pocket vibrates, Stiyl grits his teeth irritation but dispel the swords ad take out the phone anyway, after all anyone who has his number is important and they'd better have something equally important to talk about.
"Who are you?"
"I'm the General Superintendent of Academy City, I have granted you access into the city to recover your objective and you're still allowed to do so, however i'll have to ask you to refrain from killing a citizen of Academy City for it's ill be violating the rule of trade secret. It will be no problem if it was a lv0, however this one is a full-fledged Esper of Academy City and a if magician defeating an esper, or vice versa, neither side will be able to remain silent. We will certainly take measure to ensure the existence of magic remain a secret of course."
"Bullshit, that guy have clearly used magic so you people are the one who violated the law first anyway."
"You must have realized that this is just a coincident, and considering the ... special circumstances that he was in, i doubt that something like this will happen again."
Stiyl set the phone on fire and throw it away, flaming swords in hands once again.
"Better safe than sorry"
Aleister doesn't show any concern for the rude hang up.
"I see, that's unfortunate."
"Look like your luck run out". The swords rise up, the time has come. The 3000 degree flame of purgatory will burn away the mortal body till there is nothing left and cleanse the soul of all sin. May god have mercy on his soul.
"Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."
After finishing his lengthy rite, the swords is mercilessly swung down.
A fierce cry accompanied by the sound of breaking glass, Stiyl immediately jumps back, the swords in his hand are gone. Before him stood another young boy with spiky hair and similar generic school uniform. Another one that bypassed the Opila rune? Tch, This has going on for too long, my mana reserve is dwindling and I don't have enough rune for another Innocentius, better retreat for now.
With one less look at the bleeding nun, Stiyl disappear into the fire.
"...ey, you, are you alright?"
The sound of someone, most likely male, enter my ear. Do i look like i'm alright jackass, I'm fucking dying here, at least let me die in peace, damn that voice annoy me for some reason. I'm rolled onto my back, pain shoot through my entire body, thank a lot fucker, by now he must have realize how severely injured i am.
"Tired ... let me sleep ..."
"No! Don't sleep! Stay with me! help is coming."
"5 ... more ... minute ..."
"No! I said don't sleep god damn it! Think happy though! Wait, no, don't think about things like heaven! Think positive! Yeah, positive though, like you are gonna make it through this, just stay with me a little longer."
Man that guy is getting on my nerve, just piss off already bastard.
"F ... Fine ... Shut ... your trap ... mother ... fucker"
I forced open my eyes, my vision is blurry and the image is distorted by the heat of the flame leave my unable to make out the feature of the shadow in front of me, that's alright, if i had enough strength i'd have given that guy a knuckle sandwich. At least it let him know that I'm alive. There is an audible sigh of relieve.
"What happened here? Who was that guy? Why is everything on fire?"
"Kidnapped ... a nun ... burn ... all evidence ..."
"They came for Index?"
"You ... know her?"
"I treat her some food this morning, she said she's running away from some Magic Cabal, didn't believe her at first but it seem that this is no joke, just wait here, i have called the ambulance, help is on the way."
"No ... take her ... find help ... not citizen ... Academy City."
"But I can't leave you alone here! You look like you're gonna die any second now."
"So does she ... unlike me ... no help coming ... for her."
It take another minute but that guy finally get off his ass and carry the girl away. Not before finish saying his piece of course.
"Thank you! Try and stay alive ok? I'll come back for you later."
And with that he's gone, leaving me with TONS OF DEATHFLAG, return my ass! That fucker seriously annoy me. After a while, the sound of siren comes from afar, I allow my self to fall into the slumber I so desperately need and deserve.
And the pain is no more.
I open my eyes the the darkness. I'm floating in an endless void, cry of lamentation echo from afar.
So this is hell huh? A little more boring than i expected.
"No, it's not boy, it's just a little punishment for the cheatcode you used."
The temperature suddenly drop even though this is hell and I'm dead. I feel a presence, so alienating, so powerful that it overshadow everything and oppress even reality itself. Its presence is so granted I can feel it clearly yet at the same time unable to comprehend it.
"Who are you? ... What are you?"
"I don't quite know myself, one things for sure though, I'm beyond existence."
"So you are ... God? The capital "G" God? GOD? I though this is hell!"
"No, I'm not God, and for that matter, this isn't hell, this is just the price you pay for your borrowed power."
... I have no choice ...
... I still remain a lv0 no mattler how much i try ...
... This city has a wall called "talent" that keep getting in my way ...
... My dream remain just a dream ...
... Level upper is the only way ...
Yeah now that i think of it those cry of "suffering" sound a little pathetic, so this is not hell after all. So this the the side effect of Level Upper ... Meh, i was expecting something worse, at least I'm not dead yet.
"Oh that remain to be seen boy, I just want some answer from you while you're still alive. So tell my have you found the answer you seek?"
"Yes, yes i have."
"An what is it."
"My dream, the thing i meant too ... no, the thing i WANT to do, I want to become, THE HEROES OF JUSTICE."
The voice sound amused.
"Saying something like that out loud in public will earned you nothing more than fits of laughter, you know that boy? Tel me are you satisfy with that answer?"
"Even though we both know that it's a pipe dream? Even though we both know that the pain and suffering in the world is too much for anyone to handle, you still one to shoulder that burden alone?"
The cry of lamentation around me suddenly keep getting louder intensify to the point that it's unbearable. I just close my eyes and tune out the sound, pretending no to hear them, just like always, the only thing i good at.
"What is this? Are you gonna turn your face away again? Are you gonna ignore the suffering around you thinking that you are powerless to stop it just like it has always been? Are you gonna abandon this path you just found so easily just like this?"
I open my eye, the noise around my suddenly stop, falling back into the background just like before. I answer with a cocky smirk.
"Like hell i am, for the first time in a long time i have finally taken my first step, this is just my starting line and i'll keep charging forward, and i don't plan to stop anytime soon. You seem to have misunderstood me, i want to become the hero, not the all benevolent GOD that control all life and death, how i can be ignoring them if they've never reach me in the first place. T still think that the world is a wretched place . Sure I'll reach out for those that i come across and extend my hand to those that ask for it but after everything said and done, I'm just a small man with a small heart, I can only be moved by what in front of me, not what the world need."
"I see, the path of only saving only those that you can or those that is close to you while forsaking the rest, the path that has been taken by many heroes of old."
Images flash through the dark void before me.
A king with a golden sword in hand cut down countless invader to protect his country.
A girl who valiantly lead her people from he front, claiming victory and end the hundreds year war in just nine day.
A knight with only a sword facing a giant dragon with fearless and unwavering determination.
The same king kneeling on a hill of sword with a mortal wound after killing his own treacherous son, watching his country burn while dying in loneliness and betrayal.
That same girl is burning on a stake, till the very last moment still believe in the lord that betrayed her and praying for the people that abandoned and condemned her.
The invincible dragonslayer losing his life by a blade of betrayal striking him in the back, which kick start the tragedy of his wife revenge.
"This is a long, unrewarding and treacherous path. No matter how much courage you assumed, how much power you borrow, how much heroic you pretend, in the end what you find is only despair and regret, tell me boy, are you still plan on continue with this pathetic pipe dream of your?"
"I just told you didn't? This is just the beginning, until this soul burned away and this body crumble to dust, i'll never stop. Beside, what is their ending have anything to do with me anyway? Our path maybe the same, But I am the one that will walk it, and I will walk it MY OWN WAY."
"Laughable, with borrowed power, borrowed courage, borrowed ideal, can you still consider it your own path?"
"You misunderstood me again, i don't plan on being a cheap knock-off forever, one day the power i borrow shall become my power, the courage i borrow shall become my courage, the ideal i borrow shall become my ideal and the path i share shall become my own path. Only then that my dream will be truly fulfilled. Only then that I can become a real hero ... No ... I will still be a fake but I'll be the FAKE THAT MORE REAL THAN THE REAL THING. What i find at the end of my road is mine, because of me, and for me only. I'll be the one to judge it value."
"Hahaha, interesting, then I shall be there to witness it, the moment you find what lies at the end of your journey."
And with that the voice along with its presence fade into nothingness.
There is only me, the darkness and the silent cry in the background. What now? I am the damsel in distress now, guess the only thing i can do i wait for the real hero to save the day. This punishment is boring, therefore it suck, and thus it's kinda a real punishment. May as well sleep it off like i always do, I still didn't have the nap that I oh so desperately need and deserve.
And the suffering around me is no more.
"I'm back Aleister."
"How was your trip?"
"He's surprisingly selfish and petty, with a distorted sense of heroism to boot. He's the same yet the absolute opposite of that Imagine Breaker boy, which make him interesting nonetheless."
"He's want to help people, but not because it's the right thing to do, it's because he just WANT to. In a way he's doing it for himself, rather than for the people he save. A selfish hero with no self-sacrifice, only self-satisfaction."
"What do you mean? It's normal for human to value oneself above other, I see no disparancy in that."
"I know it's normal for human to always consider their own happiness before other, and some take delight in helping other but have you seen anyone who's only able to feel happiness through the happiness of other?"
"I see, that's intriguing, what happen in the past that make him have that way of thinking i wonder?"
"That why I called him distorted, if somebody is like this they probable watch their parents shot in a dark alleyway, but i combed through his memory, he have an absolutely normal and happy family, he doesn't even have any sob story to tell. Apparently he's just born that way."
"I see, then that's bring more risk in using him then, his value is not very high in the start any way. I can use him to shorten some step in my plan then dispose of him as soon as possible, unless you have others thing in mind."
"It's alright, use him however you want? Just a warning Aleister, he's like a mayfly?"
"What do you know about them Aleister?"
"An insect belonging to the order of Ephemeroptera ..."
"They are call "one-day fly", they are insignificant little bug the live almost all they live in water and only acquire wings to fly once they mature, and even then their life only last from minutes to a day."
"I fail to see the connection."
"One day, Aleister, the time will come for him to show his true worth, the insignificant life he has been leading up until then will show its real value in that and only that moment, and it will be extinguished in that same moment. It's the moment of a life time, and that moment will pass so fast that no one is gonna remember it, but that insignificant little moment ...
... is enough to last a life time"
A/N: And there you have it folk, thank you for having putting up with me this whole time. Once a gain i thank those who has been supporting me this whole time. Even if this fic end up buried in the rubble of the internet, please, even if just for a moment, believe that somewhere in the ToAru world there is a certain fake hero, that's enough for me. Good bye and good luck.
P/S:Cyber cookies for anyone who know all the heroes that is mentioned in this chapter.