A voice crept inside my mind. A gentle voice echoed in my mind.
“Why are you so kind to me?”
Kind? I was kind? My mind wondered on the statement. I tried to open my eyes and everything I saw was a bright light and a slender figure behind. From the looks of it, it belongs to a female child who’s at least 10 years younger than me.
“Who are you?” I asked girl standing in front of me but no one answered my question. Only silence. A silence that is too loud for my ears to take.
I slowly opened my eyes and a familiar ceiling welcomed me again. I rose my stiffed body up and scanned my surroundings. Looks like I’m back to my usual spot. I stood up, still carrying the leather bag which contained my metallic baseball bat, and looked at a rectangular hole in a wall and evaluated my current situation.
It’s pretty much quiet and nothing very disturbing is lurking in my sight. I climbed down from a nearby stairs and exited the building which I can call my starting point since I always end up here whenever I go to Delaes. Once I left the building, I took a map from a pocket in my jeans and opened it. I quickly looked at my current location and noticed that there were no ‘holes’ nearby.
I see. This pretty much explains why it’s so silent here. The ‘hole’ which serves as the entrance and exit for this world is one of the most important things here so it being one of the center of chaos isn’t so surprising. I bet that most groups have their base near a hole. Since going in and out is risky, they lay their base on it so as to secure their entrance but still I wonder why I always end up in a different place whenever I enter it.
I can’t do much about it so I’ll just observe things here and look for people which can help me here. As I lay out a plan in my mind, a certain girl flashes to my mind. It was Vento. I wonder if she’s still here, she might just be my one and only hope to this hopeless situation. I quickly walk through certain places while making myself cautious of possible danger lurking at the area.
‘Bang!’ Several gunshots echoed near my location. I quickly crouched down and walked to a nearby wall to conceal my presence. The gunshots remains and a metallic sound always counter it. I peeked to the scene and saw a masked person, wearing a black lolita dress, moves at insane speed while holding a crimson colored scythe which overwhelmingly outlarge the size of the person holding it. The masked person quickly closed the distance between him and another person who wears a familiar female school uniform is holding two mini-machine guns.
Seeing the distance instantly covered by the masked person, the female student who has straight long brimming blue hair throws her guns to the side and quickly rushed to the masked person. They meet and the female student was the first one to make a move. With a flawless touch of her right hand to the enemy’s weapon, she jumped above the large weapon and with a strong smacking of her palm to it, she flew to the air leaving the enemy with a strong shock from her previous action. Seeing an opportunity, she throws something in front of the masked person and it suddenly exploded.
With a smooth landing on the other side, she observed the enemy which was given a strong explosive bomb just a while ago. Her golden eyes mercilessly observed the current location and it narrows more when it suddenly noticed her enemy still standing at the same location with a little crack on its mask. I went back hiding again as it will be very dangerous to continue waiting in this same location for too long. Before standing back to move out from the same place, I used my similarity ability to copy the battle experience of the female student who I know well. The girl I call as class rep.
I think deeply of a formless ribbon. On one end, is my low experience in combat and on the other end was the extreme experiences of combat of class rep. Dissimilar. I tried connecting them together and make them of the same silk. With a little glow in my mind, I focused on scanning the newly acquired combat memories I have gained. It was enormous and most knowledge of it was about gun-using and tricks to use them efficiently without hindering one’s movement.
This knowledge is a minus point for me as I can’t use it much since I don’t have one myself. I continued on scanning my newly acquired memories and saw lots of form of martial arts in which she mastered.
Amazing. I gasped from the various techniques she knows and wondered what drove her to learn these things. I shook my head and woke myself from my dire situation and decided to leave the area. Helping class rep will do me nothing. It might just give me negative points because she might kill me instead or misunderstood me as a spy of some unknown group.
I silently left the area and tried going to ‘holes’ which I haven’t visited before. With sheer luck, I arrived in a ‘hole’ and no one was guarding it but before fully approaching it I used my similarity ability again to copy my previous enemy’s ability. I then tried to approach the area and looked for anything suspicious. I approached a suspicious crack on the floor and touched it but suddenly I noticed something behind me so I turned a little to my left and saw a short blade flew past through me. I quickly fall to the ground because of it and turned to where the knife came from and saw a tall and slender figured girl, wearing a black suit and matching black slacks, approaching me.
“You luckily dodged it huh?” The woman said with a quite annoyed expression on her face. I quickly look back to the knife she just threw but I think it’s pretty much expected what happened to it already. The knife was stuck on a far away wall. I observed the enemy standing right in front of me while standing back up as to prepare myself from anything that is to happen.
I took the metal baseball bat I put on a leather bag at my back. The woman moved a little step to her right and continued to observe my next move. I too was thinking of strategies in my now furious mind.
Should I copy her battle memories? The thought flashed to my mind but tried thinking of the time it will take to copy it makes it a bad idea. By copying her battle memories, this battle will be completely easier for me since it’ll help me appraise her ability. Sadly it’ll take too much time and if I copy her memories, my current battle memories will be overwritten for quite a time so it might give me a slight disadvantage.
I gulped and slide my left feet to the left. The woman shoots two knives to my direction and as it was too fast for me to process, I instinctively held the metal bat in front of me and used the ability of my previous enemy which he called ‘strength’ to increase the mass of the bat. The knives hit the bat at both ends and got stuck there. The recoil caused me to move a single step backward.
I thanked my previous enemy in my mind and took one of the knives in my bat to my non-dominant left hand and quickly ran to the right.
‘Whoosh!’ A sudden gust of wind passed through my previous area. I then quickly turned to the direction where my opponent is preparing for her next attack. I recklessly dashed to her and saw her quickly throw 3 knives at short intervals. I then recall the memory I copied from class rep. Those knives are slightly similar in speed with the gun class rep is using so I can somehow see the knives. I threw the knife I had in hand to the first one coming to my right. My knife was thrown back because of the difference in force but thanks to it, the knife thrown to me slightly went off its previous direction and I successfully evaded it effortlessly.
I crouched a little and twist my body to turn to the right, completely evading the second one and as the third one was already close, I tried smashing it with my bat.
BANG! The knife fell to the ground with great impact but the tip of my bat was mercilessly crooked. I gulped nervously because of the sight and noticed the great force lying in her throws. A cold sweat came running through my face.
This is bad. This woman is completely different from my previous opponent. She’s not underestimating me rather I’m the one doing it. I slowly digested those thoughts in my mind and quickly dashed to my opponent which shortened the distance between the two of us. The woman calmly threw one knife to my head so I quickly turned my body to the right while perfectly watching my opponent dashing to me while holding a silver knife in one hand. I quickly continued my right motion and with a jump, I kicked her on the her left to which she easily blocked using her two battle hardened hands and tried to throw me to in a clockwise motion, in a vertical angle. But as soon as I feel like my body standing straight to the ground already, I increased my mass which made my opponent let go of me.
My feet quickly landed safely to the ground because of my current mass. The woman tried to land a hit again with a fast and clean motion of her knife to my side. I quickly deactivated the ‘strength’ ability and took a leap backward but still the knife was able to graze through the side of my jacket. Blood slowly start oozing on it and my body quietly welcomed the new sensation of pain.
This is bad. I guess I really need to copy her memories but how will I give time for it? As thoughts rapidly process in my mind I began to talk to her, “What are you guys doing here?”
The woman didn’t answer and instead tries to throw something to me again. Before she could do anything I suddenly blurted the name of Asuka to her to which she reacted and completely stopped her movements. I tried talking to her again and she listened cautiously to it.
Now’s the time! As soon as it flashed through my mind again, I quickly imagined a formless ribbon containing my lack of personal profile for my enemy and her memories of battles before. Dissimilar. I tried to connect them together and make them similar. A faint glow then engulfed the ribbon signifying that a connection has already established. I peered through her memories and saw plenty of her life and death combats.
Looks like she is one big of a coward before but because of certain hardship and trainings, she gained the iron-steel resolve of outwitting the enemies through her speed and flashy ability which could easily accelerate certain things she touches. This ability is what made her threw such fast and strong knives a while ago.
I tried to use my similarity ability to copy it. After a few moments of talking with her, she readied two medium sized knives, which were different the last time, in each of her hands. I tried to do a simulation of the usage of her ability and with a blink of an eye; I successfully managed to do it in my mind. I focused back to my opponent which is quickly approaching m. I remember this action of her. As I quickly remembered the sensation in my memories, I dashed forward to her.
She remained unfazed and with lightning speed, she tried to stab my hand to which I easily avoided by retracting my hand to the back while getting a knife in one of the pockets on the back. She then attacked with her other knife which was two times faster than before which clearly aims for my neck. Because I know her next moves, I used her ability to move my right hand faster than ever before, blocking her attack with my metal bat which I hardened by increasing its mass. I then took a strong step forward and immediately brushed her off.
Without letting her regain her composure, I threw the metal bat to her with the help of her ability and the ability ‘strength.’ Even though she is forced to move backward because of the force I gave her, she is preparing to fend off my attack using one of her knife in her hand. Without even waiting for it to hit her, I hastily rushed to her while throwing a knife to her left hand. With a swift horizontal slicing motion of her knife, she hit the metal bat but the impact was too strong for it. The knife on her right arm was thrown to the air and made her position much worse. The knife which I threw to her then impaled her left hand to a nearby post to which her face contorts with pain greatly. I feel bad at this seriously but I can’t do anything but fight for my life.
Without any hesitation, I delivered a strong punch to her stomach and her face reacts painfully to it and slowly grew limp to my chest. She lost consciousness. I sighed in relief and quickly took off the knife on her left hand and put her near a wall with her back lying comfortably to it. I cut a little piece of her suit and used it to stop the bleeding on her hand.
If somebody sees me doing this, it will be me being a pervert but I can’t help it! I can’t just lower the defense my cool leather jacket gives me by cutting a piece of it. Not like it has any defense capability in the first place.
I then proceeded to the floor I was inspecting before and I gently touched it. I vividly thought of a world filled with life and suddenly a bright light covered my body and the next time I opened my eyes was in a similar place but filled with people already.
Bingo! Looks like I’ve successfully entered back to the real world but my quest in that place is still not half-way done. I need to find someone which I can trust with and with that, I thought of a dead and lifeless world again and the same blinding light covered me.
I scanned the entire place and noticed that I’m still in the area I was in before and noticed the woman on the same spot to which I putted her before but a strange man with dark blue hair was standing in front of her. I tried to leave the area but my body was rejecting the idea. I then quickly run to them and shouted “What are you doing?!”
The man looked at me with his face covered with a strange mask and his golden colored eyes peering through the tiny holes left for it to see the surroundings.
“You don’t seem to be part of their group.” He said with a cold and rough voice.
“So what of it?” I asked the man who is standing in front of me but the man didn’t answer and continued to look at me. Seriously, this guy is giving me the creeps. He seemed to be interested of me but his aura is gushing off a strong mysterious power in it. With hazy movements, he moved to my left in an instant. My body reacted to his sudden appearance and instinctively held my two hands in front of me and used the ‘strength’ ability to strengthen it and throw him off afterwards. A strong leg sweep then hit both of my hands which completely threw off my hands to the side, leaving me completely unguarded. He then grabbed one of my hands and gracefully slides it to his side and with a strong palm strike to my back, I was thrown off to a post. Pain convulsed to my entire body. It was just a little motion but he completely attacked me without much effort.
I stood back up and quickly turned to where the man is standing. I took one small kitchen knife from one of my pocket in my jeans and quickly threw it to the man with lightning fast. He caught the knife using his two hands and quickly threw it to me with similar speed. I moved slightly to my right and noticed that there was a post in it. The knife hit my left shoulder effortlessly and pain once again ran course through it. Before I can even take it off, a strong killing intent was felt on my side.
I then saw the man in mid-air with his feet aiming for my right shoulders. I quickly twisted my body to the right and deflected his kick with a swift palm strike to the right. As soon as I thought I was safe for a while, I saw his body turning to the right with its other feet already ready for one vertical swoop to my left shoulder. And it did happen. I was hit with strong kick to my left shoulder which made the knife dig in further.
I gritted my teeth and my eyes quickly narrowed from the sudden overflow of pain and with my mind in fury because of pain, I instinctively stomped hard on the ground. But that action only made my enemy secure his victory as he took another large step in front of me and with a twisting turn to the right, he kicked me again to which I instinctively blocked with both of my hands.
The insane strength of the kick threw me off to a nearby wall and even broke it which made my body flew inside an unknown shop. I tried lifting my body, supporting it with my right hand. I looked at the man standing in front of me.
His golden eyes were clearly looking down at me with an eerie sensation with it. I gritted my teeth harder than before because of the hopeless situation wasted in front of me.
I can’t win with this guy. The thought lingered through my mind but surprisingly he starts looking at somewhere and continued to move away from me. I stood up uneasily and took out the knife stuck on my left shoulder. As soon as I stepped out of the place a strong voice stopped me from moving.
“Don’t move! Why are you in here?” I turned to where the voice came from and saw a young girl with green pig-tailed hairstyle and blue gleaming eyes points a gun at me. The girl wears a similar suit with the one I just defeated. I put both of my hands up in the air signing that I am not going to do anything suspicious but the girl was cautious and merciless. She grabbed one of my hands to her direction and pushed my back with a strong force using another hand of hers. I was forced to have my face kiss the dusty ground.
“Uggh!” I contorted in pain.
“What group are you from?”
“I’m not part of any group.” I answered sincerely but the girl was unsatisfied since it’s pretty much normal for anyone to deny such a thing and puts more force to her hand forcing me to literally kiss the ground with my face.
“Liar. You just beat one of my subordinate. Now! Tell me the truth!” The girl said while exerting much more force than before.
Damn! I can't say anything justifying to this girl! What should I do? Should I fightback? How?!
As those hopeless thoughts engulfed my mind, a familiar voice commanded the girl at my back “You can release him Lily.”
The girl and I looked at the area where the voice came from and saw Asuka slowly approaching us. The green-haired girl called Lily slowly releases me while being cautious of any sudden actions that I may take. I sighed and lifted my worn-out body with my right hand. Asuka runs to me and supported me with her hands.
“You shouldn't stand for now Kiyo-kun.” Asuka said with a sad smile on her face. I was completely refreshed by hearing her words. With it, exhaustion attacked every part of my body and my consciousness slowly got drowned to the darkness.
I slowly opened my eyes and a bright light forced my eyes to close it back and drew my face from it. I slowly exercised my eyes as soon as I think it can take the brightness already, I scanned the room. An unfamiliar room surrounded me. The thing I am lying right now is a soft bed with a similar bed sheet I always see in hospitals. At first I thought this was a hospital but the strange metallic walls completely destroyed the idea. The room had no windows but it does have a door on the other end of the room.
I quickly tried to lift my body and a familiar pain arouse in my left shoulder. It was the wound I got from the very strong guy I fought before. I placed my right hand near it and noticed a neatly placed bandage around it. Looks like they took care of me while I was lost consciousness.
I left the bed and stepped on the cold floor. I noticed a cutely designed slipper near my feet and tried to wear it. It perfectly fit in.
As expected of Asuka. I smiled of the thought and wandered my sight on a nearby table with a piece of paper intact above it. I slowly took it and started reading the contents.
“Kiyo-kun, I'm sure you have many questions you want to ask so after you wake up kindly follow the directions instructed in this paper. We won't do anything on you so please believe in me.”
I tried to imagine Asuka telling me that in front of me. It must be hard. I looked down to the floor and my gaze suddenly saw a suspicious phrase at the bottom of the paper I'm holding.
“Don't you ever abuse the kindness of Asuka-sama or else I'll kill you.” It was written with clumsy penmanship and a girl with pig-tailed hair was drawn beside the message. It looks like it was the girl who was rough at me before. I've found a tsundere in real life. I sighed and went out of the room.
As I stepped out of the room, a three-way corridor welcomed me. Everything was well-lit and several doors where everywhere with a quite good distance between them indicating that it is used for a room. Looking it again, it pretty much gives the atmosphere of a secret base I usually see in TV. I walked through the right corridor which was pretty much straight and then noticed an elevator-like device like how the paper instructed me. I pushed few buttons accordingly to what was written and suddenly the door to the elevator opened.
I entered it and after a few seconds it automatically closed and proceeded to going up to a certain area. With a gentle shake of the room, the door opened. I went out of the elevator and saw a wide metallic door which clearly indicates that something important is lying in wait inside it. I went near it and the door slowly opened.
What welcomed me was not a wide room with a very important figure sitting on a desk far from it but something very different. It was the surreal destroyed world which we call Delaes and out there was a familiar figure wearing a black suit and matching black slacks. It was Asuka who quickly smiled at me as soon as the door opened.
I approached her and tried to ask her a question but stopped. The loneliness hidden in the smile of Asuka was too much for me to handle. If I just persevered and think through this when I was a little younger then I'm sure I would've known this a lot sooner. The thought of me having fun in the other side disgusted me.
I simply looked down at the ground with my gaze on Asuka's unusual black shoes. A formal black suit was probably the uniform of their group. It made a little smile on my face.
“Kiyo-kun, I'm sorry for hiding this thing to you.” Asuka said with a low voice.
Apologize? Why apologize to me? Shouldn't I be the one doing that?!
“What the hell are you saying? Isn't this pretty much my fault? I've lived my whole life relying on you with complete ignorance to what you have in mind.”
She shook her head and denied what I said “That's not true! I just... did it for myself. I wanted to be of use to you that's why I did it.”
“Eh?!” I blurted with my face pretty much red from getting flustered from what Asuka just said. I tried to wipe off the thought and changed the subject.
“So can you kindly tell me what this world really is?” I asked her with my usual carefree tone. Asuka nods and looks at me seriously. Even I can tell that she's back to her usual battle mode atmosphere.
“This world is called Delaes. I don't know how you managed to move to this world but I think you have pretty much know little details about this world. 'Delaes is an alternate world where everything is ruins because of a mysterious force lurking in it.' is probably what you are thinking of this world right? But this is not just an alternate lifeless world. This world is a self-drawn image of what our world will become.”
“Self-drawn image? So you mean this is something like the future? But isn't this place supposed to have been ruined by a mysterious force?” I asked confusingly.
“Yes, it might be hard to believe but this is our future. A place where no signs of life exist, a completely desolate place. The mysterious force you are talking about is what we are looking for. To avoid the incoming destruction of the world, we need to locate it and find what caused it so that we can find countermeasures in our world. If we move slowly then it might end our world in an instant.” Asuka explained to me and looked down with a sad face.
“If that's the case then why are people fighting here? Why do they need to kill each other when they have the same motives?” I asked with a little sign of anger in my voice.
“Unfortunately not all people wants the world to keep going as it is. Other organizations wants to find the mysterious force in order to drag it to the real world and end it in an instant. Those people doesn't want to see life going on that's why our people always fight with them every time we meet them.”
“Destroy the world?! Are they all idiots?!”
“They have their own reasons. We can't do anything but fight back to them.” Asuka said with clear loneliness on her voice. I tried to shout back to Asuka but gritted my teeth hard to stop it from coming out. I'm sure Asuka doesn't like the idea of killing others as well.
Killing? The dangerous word lurked In my mind and my body instinctively went nervous because of it. I opened my mouth slowly and asked Asuka something.
“Have you killed someone already?” I looked back at her and saw her smiling in a very sad manner. She nodded and said “Yes. I'm very sorry.”
Seeing her actions, I can see the sadness in her from doing those actions and suddenly Asuka looked back at me with a cold expression.
“Kiyo-kun, today you will have two choices. Join us and live or refuse and get killed now.” Asuka said with a similar tone to when I saw her on the alley. She moved a single step forward and raises a long unsheathed katana.
“I'll join ya.” I said while I putting on a very carefree gesture. Asuka immediately falls to the ground and hid her face with her two hands. She was crying. She was crying not because of happiness but of regret probably. Regret that she has to force me to join their group and the pressure she has loosen because of my carefree actions.
It’s alright now. You don’t have to take everything by yourself. I gently said in my mind as I approached her. As soon as I stood in front of her, I immediately crouched down and embraced her, with her head on my left shoulder. I wanted to let her cry on that place for much longer but a sudden pain hit me.
“Ouch.” I blurted out.
Crap! It was the shoulder which I have a wound! As I nervously look for ways to make up for my carelessness, I noticed Asuka softly giggling on my chest.
“Kiyo-kun. That was awful you know. Hehe.” She said while slowly wiping the tears on her eyes and after gently doing it, she looked back to me and smiled brightly.
Uhh.. I wanted to do something great once in a while but I just failed it. I sighed and smiled again. Well if the result ended in a smile then I don't think it's too bad.
Asuka pushed me away gently and stood back up while wiping away dusts on her black slacks. I also stood up and asked her “So you're going back to work?”
She shook her head and softly said “No. My superiors let me take a day off for now and they also wanted me to try recruiting you if you agreed to which you easily agreed with. Moh! Kiyo-kun you're so unfair!” puff
“And I went to serious mode just to convince you.” She pouted cutely at me with a dissatisfied face.
“Haha! I seriously have no choice but to join your group and I know you won't do anything bad to me. So I guess you're my superior now huh?” I said while slowly walking away from the area. Asuka followed behind me and saw her puffed her chest out with pride.
“I guess you're still my kind and lovely childhood friend Kurogi Asuka huh?” I said while patting her pouting and dissatisfied face and continued on our walk. Halfway through our walk, Asuka gave me a map of Kagami City with some symbols marked on some areas. Asuka explained that those are the 'holes' they have discovered so far.
I analyzed the map and noticed that there are more marks in this map compared to my map. A suspicious thing then caught my eyes. There was no mark in the alley inside the shopping district which I always use to enter here. I wondered but I decided to keep it in my mind and continued to walk together with Asuka.
After a few minutes, we have arrived in an area with lots of people who wears the same uniform as Asuka's. It looks like this is one of the bases of their group and another place where a 'hole' is hiding. We passed through several people and they bowed respectfully to Asuka. Asuka answered their respect with a gentle gaze and a slight nod. I merely followed her with my head looking down at the floor, sensing a similar jealousy I always feel at school.
We entered a large white tent guarded by two guys with a very big body. Asuka walked to the center of the area and touched the floor on it. She looked at me and indicates that I need to follow her. I approached the area where Asuka was and touched the floor near right below me.
“Imagine a world filled with life Kiyo-kun. Yes, the world where we live and protect.” she said to me with a gentle voice. I closed my eyes and focused on thinking such a world. A familiar sensation then engulfed my body and by the time I opened my eyes I saw a familiar place. I scanned the entire area and noticed that we are in a corridor of Kagami Academy. I stood up and Asuka did the same.
“That area we entered before was Kagami Academy in ruins.” Asuka said while looking outside the window.
“I see.” I replied while still having a hard time processing how the school went that bad when others pretty much remained the same, except for certain cracks and destruction on the walls.
“Let's go home then.” she looks back at me with her cheerful smile. We left the school while slowly walking our way home. As we walk back home several things hit me and asked Asuka about it.
“I think it's very clear that there are other groups in this thing. Can you give me a little insight about it?”
“Yes. The first group I'll tell you is the group where I belong which we call as Gospel. Our goal is to destroy the mysterious force and save our world from destruction. The second one is called Ergo(?), they are a group who wants to obtain the mysterious force to destroy our present world. There are still other groups but they hardly show themselves so...” Asuka explained while thinking of something she might have missed and taps her right hand with her left palm and continued explaining things “Oh! There’s also one noticeable small group. We don’t know what they call themselves but they’re pretty strong.”
“Strong huh? And only small? Can’t you just defeat them by numbers?” I asked her with a doubtful face.
“We really can’t do that. They may be suspicious but their goal is most likely the same with us Gospels. So whenever we make contact with them, we just leave them alone but Kiyo-kun. Are you really sure about joining us?”
“Well I can’t say that I’m feeling reluctant about it but I don’t really have any choice but to join you and you’re in that group so I think I’ll be fine. I also know that if I don’t find any allies in that world then I’ll surely die in that place so don’t worry about it Asuka!” I answered with a cheerful tone and noticed that we are in front of the house already. As we entered the house a very different scenery was what welcomed us.
Everything was ruined. The walls have several large holes and some had even holes that could have been made by gunshots. Someone had raided my house and that’s entirely a bad thing. Cold sweats slowly flow down from my forehead, it’s as if it’s indicating the start of something. Or it could have been the welcoming party for my participation in the group called Gospel.