image_1This is what can be considered the pilot to my serial. I will I post my writing here, and in JukePop Serials, with the link being on the About page. Feedback is always appreciated.

Volume 0
Location: Unknown Place in Terra
Interlude 0
It was on May 6, 4087 that I, Edward, finally escaped my mother, Lilith, better known by her nickname “Lily”. I believe I was around ten when that happened. She was a “working girl”, and I was fathered by a now deceased criminal. I always seemed to be an inconvenience, but that ambiguity is cleared up when my mother tells me that I should have been born. Since I am a male, it is expected of me to not show “weakness” in the face of adversity, so I stayed in that hell for ten years of my life.

Even when I was infantile, I was nursed by Ms. Marie, an elder of the red-light district who passed away last year. I had to clean myself, cook for myself, and be independent of myself. Perhaps not too much as mother would help get rid of stuff by selling or breaking them, so cleaning was easy sometimes. In fact, there were plenty of times, such as last week, where she threw anything she could reach at me in conjunction to her daily ranting.

“It hurts.”, I said with my pained voice on the verge of crying.

“Are you crying boy?”, she asked in an annoyed tone. “You are a man! Boys should not cry. It is weak and disgraceful. If you have a problem, then you should fight!”

In my mind I thought, “Why must violence be used by men? I never liked to fight when there is no need to, so why must I harm someone else?”

With great effort, I eventually get up. It seems that mother left for the resting room to talk with her coworkers. Some of them have daughters of their own, and I never see the daughters face the same type of torment or prejudice I do. Maybe it is because their fathers were high up the social ladder, while I was born with cursed blood.

There was no solace even at the academy because of my blood. Parents often told their children to stay away from me, and I was bullied by those who did not stay away. Even teachers were uncomfortable. They always say that the sins of the parent fall on the child, but I wondered why when I did not do anything. I was assigned to the lowest class since I was not born with the ability to use “Ars Anima”, so I studied and trained hard everyday. The motto of our society is that everyone can become strong, but those words always came from those who were already strong, or had advantages in life.. I was weak and at the bottom. I eventually started to try using “Chakra” instead. With whatever money I could scrape up, I bought a katana. It was single-edged and sleek, just the style for me. 1000 pushups, sit ups, and curl ups were done for me to build strength After those, I ran 10 km with my legs weighted. After my daily routine was done, I went to the nearby park to meditate and try to awaken my ability to utilize Ars Anima. I was able to use the simplist “Ars Magus” spells at the age of eight, but it was something that was dictated to be done at the age of six. It did not matter though, “I will keep trying.”, is what I muttered to my self. I was at least happy to develop the ability to “hear the heart of all things”. People will deride it as useless, especially because of my gender, but I was happy to be able to understand the heart of all things. This developed further until I gained the power to heal people with their pain becoming mine. I always used this on injured animals I found. I can usually stay out late since nobody pays a young boy any attention.

I would then return home. In order for me not to disrupt business, I was given a small space isolated from everyone. The space was about the size of a walk in closet, and it was downstairs. It took at least 8 minutes to go back upstairs, so if I needed to uses the bathroom, I try to restrain myself at night to not disturb anyone, but on May 6, I felt really sick, so I went upstairs. The elder passed away about a month ago, so I had no choice but to go to mother. I found her, but I saw something I shouldn’t have. The customer left hastily, and mother was now upset that she has lost business. The ranting and cursing was even more extreme, and she threatened me with a knife.

“I am sorry.”, I try to say before being slapped.

With her demonic glare and a wicked voice, she says, “I could have made something of value. You always find a way to screw up don’t you? If you are really sorry, why don’t you just roll over and die? A crying and weak punk like you will not be missed anyway.”

I hold back my tears and met her glare with my own. “Maybe I will not be missed by you or anybody from this town,” I sniffle a bit, but I continue. “but that does not matter. I will become strong, but not for you or society, but to prove that I can. No matter who says that I can not breakthrough where I stand now, I will do so. Whoever says that I have no purpose in life, I will find one. And whoever says I should die, I will keep living.”

There were no words that came out of her mouth. I grab my sword and head out, starting on my own journey. I say silently to myself, “The path that has been layed down for me is the path that I reject. I am a man? I am weak? I have no use? I don’t care about those things, starting today, I will go my own way.”

Interlude .2
Location: Sabiete, NW Terra
Date July 8, 4087
It has been a little over two months since I left home, if I could even call it that. I wandered into the town of Sabiete, where there was a very strong smell of garbage, and the air was gray. Every corner there were people either dead or injured. For those who were injured, I tried my best to help them by absorbing their pain, but I was unable to remedy permanent injuries or diseases. I was usually in pain for about a day, but I recover quickly.

Most were thankful, but some were hostile and skeptical of my intentions, although they feigned appreciation. Over these last two months, since I have been around much more people, I was forced to control how I much “feel”. I still have it constantly on, but now I only automatically feel extreme emotions. I still ended up feeling most people I came across since I had nothing more to do, and there was a lot of pain to feel.

It is sickening, how there is so much misery. I do not wish to save people or be a hero, since those two imply eternal dedication. I do not really want to be seen as someone special either. No, I understand now. I want to become strong enough to be a hillside that can support a new future. I shall cast away my old name, and become the broadest of hillsides. The name Braeden is now bequeathed upon me.

Location: Kinit, SW Terra
Date: April 18, 4088
It has now been nearly a year since I left. I have gotten much stronger now. With my sword, I have created my own style that I can be proud of, Rōgeken. This style focuses on switching between slow and hard, and fast and light attacks, all with precision. and have been in multiple fights the past year. In each of those fights, my opponents showcased their “Fullbright”, a colored aura that proves their powerful Ars Anima capabilities. Since they did not sense any from me, they mockingly called me an underdog. When the fight took place however, I managed to fight on oar with them, and sometimes even beat them. As a showing of respect, some of them said I had a “heart of the wolf”. I liked that comparison, so I took the name Lupin as my surname.

At first, I fought with my blade sheathed. My opponents were probably a bit confused as to why I fought with a sheath. And when I say “probably”, I mean they were damn right feeling stupid when I beat them with a giant stick, but I think they got over it eventually. After some more time, I began to “comprehend” the nature of the immortal soul even more. These hands are capable of reaching the soul, and if I desire, nothing will die or suffer pain from me.

I was hungry, so I looked for a dumpster to get something to eat. Aside from the obvious sanitary issues, the semi-frequent stings from various insects, and the very frequent old restaurant owner with one of those stupid looking hats chasing after me, dumpster diving was not too incredibly bad. It was night and because of my dark skin, black hair, and dark dust-stained clothing, these sorts of things were easy. I usually did odd jobs to get some gold coins, but I give it away most of the time. I was about to get in the dumpster when I heard a thunderous crack in the air, and saw a blade coming at me from nowhere.

“Take this!”, is what the over enthusiastic voice says. I dodge his blow and attempt to remedy the situation. I look at him to see that he was fair-skinned with dark brown hair.

“Hey now, there is no need to fight. I was just getting something to-” I am cut off as my attacker charges at me.

“Are you trying to look for excuses evildoer?! Look no longer because there are none?!” His loud voice sounded like an old lady that pricked her toe on a needle.

“So much for that”, I say with only mild annoyance.

I unsheath my blade and cut him vertically. In one fell swoop, he was knocked down. I go toward his unconscious body to move him, and as soon as I am near him, he catapults and screams

“HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

The loud shriek startled me and I take a few steps back. The man picks himself back up, comes towards me, and extends his black gloved hand.

“Sorry bout that mate”, he says with a smile. I was a bit confused at first, but I knew that he did not mean any harm. I mimic his gesture and shake his hand.

“No worries”, I say in reassurance. “What was that about?”

“Ah, you know mate. These streets are TRULY littered with criminal elements that THREATEN the good folk” he says with over excitement. “I have heard of a wanderer who has had a many fights with both parties coming out alive and dandy. Would that be you mate?”, he asks of me. I hesitate to reply to him, but I relent.

“I guess you can say that.”

“Guess?”
“I am not too interested in being recognized.”

“Why not mate? You’re a bloody hero!!”

“A hero? I am just a pubescent boy.” He looks to me in shock.

“You look damn near closer to 16 lad.” I noticed the sudden change in verb tic.

“No more “mate”?”

“Ah, so ya did notice mate?”

“When someone comes literally out of nowhere, attacks me,and yells “ho” at the top of his lung, it is easy to notice a relatively normal tic, mate”, I reply. “May I ask what you want of me?”

“Yes, yes, almost forgot. How about you travel with me? We can clean up the streets a little.”

“Sure.” The man staggers back in shock.

“That was quick. I took you for the angsty teenage type of fellow.”

“I will try not to take offence to that one. You changed your tic again I see.”

“No need to sorry good ol’ boy! We’re real mates now! My name is Jean.” He extends his gloved hand once more. I mimic him once more and extend my hand.

“My name is Braeden Lupin, and I am glad to be of company.”

Interlude. 4
Location: Citrine, NE Terra
Date: May 30, 4089
For the past year, Jean and I have been travelling through the whole region of Terra. Everywhere we went, we caused hell for plenty of people. We fought gangsters, stole food for the hungry, and burned toques. I hate those stupid looking hats. With each victory we attained. Jean exploded with enthusiasm. “Another one for us, mate!”, he will always say.

He is loud and reckless, but he has a good heart, and he is my brother. We recently came into some gold coin and platinum credits after taking care of some problems, so we went to a cafe. He ordered jugs of beer, and I ordered coffee with extra Boliden cream.
“Coffee again lad? You should try this delightful beer served by these delightful women!” He got up out of his seat, putting his foot on a stool while outstretching his arms with a jug in each hand.

I take a single sip from my coffee and say, “Did you forget? I’m only twelve. Or maybe the swig is finally getting to you?”

Of course not mate! Alcohol is like a magic elixir. Sometimes you wake up naked. Other times you wake up feelin like you are on top of the world. And most of the time, ya feel like cow shite.” He raises one of the jugs and sets it down on the table. “But what is ALWAYS guaranteed is that you feel ….. FANTASTIC!”

“That’s great mate, but I do not want to end up naked, on top of the world, or reminiscent of bovine excrement, so I will stick to my coffee.”, I say while stirring my mug. He decides to sit down since he had no comeback, but he sat closer to me than before. He put his hand on my shoulder.

“Listen Bray, we’ve done good. We have 150,000 credits, and that is more than enough for us to start our own crew. We can round up crazy jackasses like ourselves, and supply them with some gears.” He pauses to look at his free gloved hand and continues. “Of course, we will probably need to be conservative and get them “unbound”.
A gear is a piece of equipment that is manufactured to have special qualities to them. Most are made for the purpose of injuring Ars Anima users, while others are for more general purposes. There are multiple types, but they can be broken down into two categories; bound and unbound. Unbound gears take up the same amount of space as the item it was based on, but they are far cheaper. Bound gears on the other hand are sealed into either smaller objects or into the body. Jean’s gear lies in his black gloves, which allows him to summon a sword.

“Yeah, that would be for the best.”, I said. We finish our drinks and leave a tip for the waitress. We get up to take our leave.

“Alright let’s g-” The opening of the door cuts Jean off  before his hand reaches the handle. Two heavily armed and armored men walk in. They point their guns at us.

“We have a warrant for your arrests.” Jean was at first confused, but his bewilderment quickly turned into anger.

“And who the hell gave you the warrant!?”, he said. The men were quiet for about three seconds until one of them spoke.

“No one that matters.” We glanced at each other, and we both knew that for the safety of the cafe, we must give ourselves in. We turn around to allow them to cuff us. They then escorted us out of the cafe and into the back of an armored vehicle. We then drove off.

“Dammit!”, Jean said after the vehicle picked up speed. “I know how these bastards work.”

“And who are these “bastards”?”, I said. Jean was still angry, but he calmed down and answered my question.

“These guys are the 108th Branch of the military. As you saw, they are armed to the teeth, and they deal with people who don’t have much beyond physical power.” He raises his draped head and continues. “They got a prison called Black Bridge not far away.”I let the information sink in before I speak.
“So tell me, why bother with us?”

“Hell if I know. Maybe they don’t like people stealin their thunder?”

“So what are they going to do to us? I don’t remember us committing any capital offences.”

“That is how they get you. They make “grounded accusations”, and “interrogate” you until you say yes. Whoever that happens to is recorded down in history as whatever the 108th want them to be remembered as.” I look down on the floor of the vehicle. Jean’s frustrations receded for a moment. “Don’t worry Bray, we can make it through this.” His words strengthened my spirit, and we kept quiet until we reached our destination.

We were asleep when we got to the prison, and we were awoken by cold water. “Come out.”, the man said. We followed his orders while he escorted us to an area in which we were stripped of our belongings. We were each taken to a different “interrogation” room. I was strapped into a chair, and they started their torture with electricity.
“Awake?”, the technician said in an empty curiosity. It was painful. I looked up to him to speak, but I stopped myself. I made a promise to myself to be strong  and to not give into other people. There is immeasurable pain in this world, and I must endure pain if I want to change anything.

“No answer?”, he said. He stabbed a knife through one of my hands to try to get me to respond. I refused. He then punched me in the temple. “You think you were the only stubborn guy? I’m gonna enjoy breaking you.”  He turned up the voltage and stabbed me through the other hand. They did not want me dead, so they had the electricity on for no more than a single minute, giving me one minute to recuperate. This continued for about five hours, with the voltage being turned up each time. One of the guards came in.

“Did he make a “confession” yet?”, the guard said.

“No, but he will come around too it soon. What about the other one?”

“Nothing”

“I see, so the both of em think they’re tough boys. But they’ll learn soon enough. Get a medic.” A medic came in soon after and used an Ars Magus spell to heal my injuries. I was then taken to a holding cell, with Jean nowhere to be seen. They bought me food which I refused to eat. They decided to get one guard to hold me down while the other force fed me. After that, there was not much to do except sleep. They performed these sessions ten hours a day, everyday, every week. They used waterboarding, electricity, various poisons, walling, bludgeoning, slashing, and stabbing. They usually attacked me with thirty or so bladed weapons, so I’m sure that that was their thing. With the end of each session, I would once again be healed, escorted to a cell, and force fed.

After a while, they stopped healing me since I developed a mutation, with mine being regeneration. There are multiple causes of a mutation, but what they are is the same. A mutation is a unique trait an individual has that is not common to their race. I am a full-blooded human with a whore mother and a small time criminal, so it is even rarer in my case.
One day, the warden decided to come in. Needless to say, he was less than amused.

“When we administer our “interrogations”, most submit in a day. A smaller, but comparable amount lasts a week, and including his friend, I can count those who last a month on a single hand. So tell me….. HOW THE HELL HAVE WE BEEN DOING THIS FOR SEVEN MONTHS?” The technician tried to speak.

“Sir, w-”

“DON’T ANSWER GODDAMMIT! I WANT HIM DEAD!” With those words, a couple of guards came in with axes, swords, daggers, hammers, clubs, chainsaws, and maces. One of them took a swing at me with a mace, and it broke on contact.

“What the hell!?”, that guard said. Another guard decided to stab me with a sword. It broke. The guard behind him tried cut me. It broke. The guards next to him tried to bludgeon me at the same time. All of their blunt weapons crumbled. They restrained me and tried to cut my head off with the chainsaw. The motion of it stopped as the chains broke as well. They were moderately annoyed, so they decided to get pole arm gear and pierce me through the chest. It worked, and they were relieved, but that relief disappeared when they saw I was still alive.

The one who pierced me said, “Who, no, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU!?”I look up to him and said with me coughing blood as I speak.

“I… *pant* *pant* I am a guy with a spear through his chest. I would ask you to remove it, but I’d probably bleed to death. I wouldn’t want to dirty the floor.”

“Tch. Put him back in his cell and inform the warden.”, one of the guards said. His orders were followed, and I was being escorted. But at that moment, there was a commotion in the lower cell blocks. The guard was distracted, and I saw an opportunity to free myself. I incapacitated him with a kick to the gut, and took his sword.

“I’m coming, Jean!” I ran towards the direction of the commotion until I came across a gate, separating the upper and lower cell blocks. The gate was guarded by the warden.

“So the pup escaped his cage? Like it matters, everyone here is going to die anyway.” He rose up to challenge me. “But if you don’t want to wait, I can shorten the time for you.” I have to get past that gate, and I have to get through him to do so.

“*Pant* Fine, I will win, Jean and I will survive, and we will leave this place.” I ready the sword I picked up.

“Your spirit is strong.” As he says those words, flames wreath his body. “But I would have you know, a warden is on the level of a World Union military Captain. A greenhorn such as yourself cannot defeat me.” He gathers flames in his right hand and throws it at me.

I dived to avoid the flames, and stood up once more. He gathered flames behind him and launched them as if they were tendrils. I dodged those as well. I waited for a either a lapse in his attacks, or a misstep in his formation. When he decided to attack me with all of his flames at once, I took the chance to dash towards him to deliver a blow. Before I could do so, I was pierced through my left abdomen from behind. My insides were burnt, and I started coughing blood.

“Did you not hear me, greenhorn? You are a mere man with nothing to him. You will die and the memory of your existence will be lost.” I try to get up only to fall again. I am going to die here. I am going to die without changing anything. I proved my mother rig- no. I will not die here. If I am weak, then I will get stronger. I get up with great effort, with the wound closing and leaving an x-shaped scar.

“Did you not hear me, old man? I told you that I am getting out of here. You think you can stop me? This ”greenhorn” has been fighting all of his life,  and his body has been pierced by over a thousand blades. I!WILL!NOT!LOSE!” At that moment, I felt something inside. Weight was escaping my body, but instead of pain it was more like a renewal. An azure darkness leaked out of me, empowering me. The warden’s eyes widened.

“Impossible… THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!! NOBODY HAS GAINED A PARADIGM SPONTANEOUSLY!!!!!” The Paradigm, the height of Ars Anima, and the ultimate representation of the personal soul. Each person who has one was born with a weak and nameless Paradigm. Humans are usually incapable of having enough spiritual power to manifest one, and I know that I am a pure-blood human born without any amount of power. It does not matter, because at that moment, the power was awakened within me, and the name is known to me

“Imperial Sovereignty”. The name is tacky and arrogant sounding, but I guess I cannot chose the name, can I old man?” I imbue the sword with my darkness and prepare to attack. The warden gathered his flames once more and attacked me from all directions. As they inched closer to me. I take a deep breath and slam the sword downward, vanquishing all the flames.

“Huh?”, the warden said. I bring the blade back to its original position, and with a single step, I moved foward to cut him down. He fainted instantly. With him out of the way, I used my new powers to destroy the gate. This prison is made for prisoners without powers, so the gate was easy to destroy. I looked behind me once before rushing down.
I reached the lower levels only to find dead bodies, half dead bodies, and an unrecognizable smell. I looked around and I found Jean. He was sickly looking, but he was not dead. He looked up to inspect me.

“Is that you, mate? You look different.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your hair is silver, and your eyes are goldish brown now.” He gives a nervous laugh. “Ah, I see. You really are something aren’t you?”

“Really?” I stood still for a second before getting him out via fireman’s carry. “Doesn’t matter. We need to get out.” I take a few steps before be crya out.

“Wait!” I stop and put him down gently.

“You are in pain right? Sorry, almost forgot about my emphatic healing”, I said

“No, that is not the problem.”

“What?”

“First, let me tell you what happened. These folks heard about your “sessions”. They got all giddy thinking that the guards went soft and thought that it high time to get out.”

“So there was a riot?”

“Aye, and as you see, they weren’t too thrilled to let anyone get out. If the Union knew what was going on, well, I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure it out.” The atmosphere was silent until I broke it.

“And what was the contingency plan they had?”

“Releasing a toxin that kills those with little or no spiritual power.” My eyes widen as I know what this means. “I heard about this before mate. It is easy to cure, but they did not need to worry since they locked the whole place down.”
I make a small laugh.

“ Don’t go making me worry when everything is fine, mate.”

“You are overlooking a simple fact Bray. People like you cannot catch it, and it is easy to cure, but only for those who can afford it. How many people do you think may die or permanently disabled if it spreads? I’m asking you as a friend, kill me.” Those words made my core shake. “I hate myself for making you do this lad, but it has to be done. But before that, if you find it, I want you to inherit my gear.” Tears start to pour out of his eyes. “Also, do not give up on your dream. I believe that you can make a world where nobody has to cry. You are my brother, and you are strong. My only regret is leaving you so soon.”

This world has never treated me kindly. I have been hated, cursed, and ridiculed. I am being asked to kill with my own hands the only living person that cares about me. My only friend. The logical choice is obvious. With my own two hands, I take the life of my brother. He coughed blood on me. With one last breath and a smile that I will always remember, he said “Goodbye, mate”.

I felt tears about to form, but I stop myself. I take one final look at Jean’s body before going back to the upper cell blocks. I spent about an hour looking for the evidence box that contains what was taken from us. My sword, my dirty clothes, Jean’s gear, and the platinum credits. I take it all and head for the  main entrance. I plant my sword into the building. It has no real meaning, but I felt that I had to do it. I begin walking away from the prison.
“I survived three hells, this will not bring me down. I will continue to rise. I will send a tip to the first officer I see.” I put on the gloves as I was walking. I took a pause and looked at my left hand. “Don’t worry Jean, I will fight for the both of us”.

Interlude .6
Location: Citrine, NE Terra
Date: December 31, 4089
I decided to buy new clothes to replace my dirty and worn out ones. I picked out a black shirt with silver accents, black pants, black boots, and a white longcoat, totaling 200 platinum credits. I pay the amount and head outside. It is night outside, and fireworks light up the sky. The wind caresses my face as the marvelous sounds of music and parading enter my ears. I look to the side of me to discover large groups of people huddled together. They all looked happy, and I felt that they were happy. Having a family must be nice, not that I can ever hope to have one.
I found a hotel to rest and change in. Once in, I take off all of my clothes. Before hopping in the shower, I look into the mirror to inspect my scar covered body. I think to myself “Nobody will want to be bothered looking at such a thing”. I then focused attention on my face. Jean always had a smile so I tried making one, but no matter what, I looked hideous. There is no point in me looking even worse, so I swore to never have a smile on this face. After taking a shower, I put my new clothes on, with me putting on the gloves last.
I spent at least a minute looking at the gloves, trying to take it all in. I decided to activate the gear and summon a sword. The hilt was silver with a blue jewel in the centre, and the blade was jet black and single edged. I rest the blade in my lap to think of a name. “Sephiroth. That is what the name will be.” I dismiss the sword and rest for the night.
Date: January 1, 4090
“Why did you let me die mate?” These words haunt my sleep, echoing through my soul. I wake up from my nightmare and call for room service to bring me bagels and coffee with extra Boliden cream. After having breakfast, I check out of the hotel and head for the nearest bookstore. I never liked reading much, but I figured that I must educate myself do that I don’t fall behind anyone. I buy a holopad and download books on various topics; history, government, science, and cooking. I then head out the store to catch a ride to one of the “Fractures”, where I can surely get stronger.

Currently, there are three Fractures around the world with the one in Terra spanning the length the length of the continent. In these places, the conditions are uninviting, with physics that defy logic. It is not against the law to go into any of them, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone that wants to. I am dropped off about 25 km from my destination, so I spent a couple of hours walking to enter into the area. As soon as I enter, I feel as if a ton-weighing boulder is placed on my shoulders.

The gravity in a Fracture is about seven times that of the outside world. Not only that, the aether concentration here is high, making it hard to muster up much spiritual power. In other words, as soon as someone enters here, a weight is placed on their very soul. The climate cannot even be called such as it changes randomly. One minute, there can be streams of lava radiating throughout the area. Another minute, the temperature can drop to absolute zero. Small scale earthquakes, raging tornadoes, floods, and frequent lightning storms are all likely to happen at least once a day, with no predictable pattern. One thing that is consistent is the density and hardness of the materials here. The softest ground feels as hard as a diamond, and the water feels like mercury.

Of course,all of those conditions pale in comparison to the phantom beasts here. A phantom beast has abilities and characteristics that are seemingly random. They are not like vampires, werewolves, demons, angels, or any other race. In fact, it is incorrect to label them as a race because of the lack of predictable traits. The beasts that reside here in this Fracture have had centuries to adapt and become even more powerful, which is the reason nobody dares to tread in any Fracture. Right now, I am a tadpole in an ocean.
Location: Terra’s Fracture
Date: July 16, 4090
It has been a little over seven months since I began training here, and the experience has been less than pleasant. The beasts here can be as big as six meters, and with a single swipe of a limb, the terrain can be completely altered. I remember one time that I was attacked by a mammoth. With a single swing of its trunk, the whole forest was leveled, including all of the water. It tried to squash me under its leg, but I managed to overpower it and escape with some plants. The beast must’ve gotten mad when I tried to steal its food. The outburst reminded me of cutting in front of someone in line, only the mammoth was slightly more agitated.

I rely on stealing food from the beasts because of two reasons. The first is because they tend to hoard food. The second is because I have no interest in hunting and killing them. The meat in restaurants is actually in vitro meat, so I have no problem eating that or animals I find to be dead already. I am usually successful in doing these things unnoticed, but this mammoth was acutely sensitive to its surroundings. I found that I can completely “turn off” my powers as if I never had them. It seems that is is because I was not born with them, with those who were born with theirs unable to completely suppress them since it is tied to their very existence. In other words, it would be like if they were deprived of breathing.

I return to my camp to prepare food. I have been trying different recipes and techniques since I have to be self sufficient. I gather the meat I found previously and the plants I gathered from the mammoth. I snap my right hand fingers to summon forth a dark flame to make a campfire to cook. Afterwards, I continue my endurance training. Those with enough power possess a thin and invisible “barrier” around their body, giving them protection. Of course, it is not only about power since one still has to train to be efficient at doing it constantly. It usually takes half a month for someone to project a barrier without thought. I have been trying for five months, but I am not about to give up. I go into a lava stream to swim in it. If I survive, great. If I do not survive, then that would not be so great, but I at least get an A+ for trying.
Location: Danbur, South Terra
Date: July 20, 4090
I decide to take a break from training to see what is going on in the world. Where I am right now is a depression, so I have nothing to use but my hands to climb out. I summon my sword Sephiroth and push it into the walls to start the climb. It took about half an hour before I make it out, but I still have a ways to go.

I finally reach town and I look for a cafe. I find one that looks pristine, so I enter into it. Once inside, I catch a whiff of fresh fruits. I take a seat and order strawberry lemonade and an order of sesame chicken. As I wait, I turn my head towards the TV to listen. Suddenly, there is an emergency newscast talking about Jack “the Black”, who has a bounty of 220,000 platinum credits.
Interlude .8
Jacky is black panther-like phantom beast with a large stature. I would say that his height is about 305 cm. I heard that he has a thing for black and grey chess board pattern vests. I also heard that he has a certain kind of reputation of getting into a fight with anything he can. It did not matter who, where, or why, Jacky accepted any challenges, and was indiscriminate in who he made provocations to. The only real reason he was caught was because the people he fought did so willingly, and usually in desolate places. His latest fight, however, caused 500,000 credits in damages, and he crushed any opposition for five months straight, bounty hunter, serviceman, or otherwise. He was finally taken by Captain Valis. It has been said that she took him down in one strike.

He was imprisoned for about a year until his recent escape. I think that it was the food that made him want to breakout of prison. But even if the food was abhorrent, I cannot, and will not allow such a guy to roam around.  From reports, it seems that he is somewhere in the city-state of Danbur. I guess it is fitting, since this place is famous for outlaws and duels. In that case, finding him would be easy. What I need to worry about is making sure I get him where no civilians are around.
Location: Danbur Outskirts
Date: July 29, 4090
As I thought, I was able to find where he was in two days. Jack “the Wack” was never one to practise neither caution nor subtlety. I spent the next couple of days watching him, waiting for the chance to get him. I finally tracked him to his hideout, which was decrepit and harsh. It was night when I made my move. I suppress my powers and began sneaking up on him. It will take a lot more than a single hit to incapacitate him, but getting in a preemptive strike will help. I get him in my sights and prepare my attack. The moment I begin to gather my power, he will probably realize my presence, so I must do this quickly. I release the “Sanction” that I placed upon myself, and summon forth darkness from my left hand. I then release my “Insurrection”, and the arrow-like  blast charges at him and hits him instantly, knocking him back. He puts his hand on his head, probably wondering how he was knocked from where he was sitting.

“The hell was that?”, he says as he stands up. I summon Sephiroth in my right hand, and charge straight at him. Sensing the threat, he raises an arm, and uses his hand to catch the incoming attack. I twist my body and kick him in the abdomen to be released from his grip. I then leap backwards to put distance between us. “So you are the little bastard that tried to ambush me, the great Jack “the Black”!?” Enraged by my audacity, he appears in front of me in a single step. An attack is coming, so I take my stance and use my sword to take guard. He stretches his left arm outward, and swings his claws through the air, leaving black streaks behind. His power clashes with my own, creating a shockwave. He makes a fist with his right hand, and launches a punch. I activate “Sanction” in my free hand, and raise my left hand to meet the attack. We were interlocked. “You ain’t bad”. He begins to clamp down on my with increased strength. “Tell me, who are you?”

“Why would you want to know?”

“Why would I want to know? Why wouldn’t want to know the name of the man I am about to crush?”

“Hmph, It does not really matter who I am. I guess you can call me an avenger!” My body becomes shrouded in darkness, and I toss him into his shack. He raises from the ruin, with his fullbright being visible.

“Hehehe, very nice,” He smiles in glee, dusting himself off. “But for a self proclaimed “avenger” is this your limit? None of what you did even phased me. But I guess you wouldn’t be the only one that got all confident because I said you ain’t bad. Ars Magus: Raigeki.” Black lightning appears in his left hand. In an instant, he appears behinds me. He attempts to hit me, and I sidestep it. He swings his right arm, launching me back. Not even giving me the chance to hit the ground myself, he lunges himself upwards in the air, slamming me and creating a crater. He attempts to hit me once more with Raigeki. In response, I fire off “Insurrection” into his chest. This gave me space to stand up, and I begin to wipe the blood from my mouth. “DISGUSTING! FOR ME! TO BE PUSHED BACK! BY A LOWLY MONGREL! I will not allow this slight to go unpunished! You will pay with your life!

“But I am not dead yet.”

“The hell you trying to say!?”

“I am not trying to say anything at all. I will tell you this though. In an instant, I will strike you down with thirteen moves.”

“Thirteen moves? Let’s see about that. Raigeki: Doble.” In both hands, Jacky wields lightning. For the final time, he lunges to me. I stand still with my head lowered slightly. He inches even closer. I raise my head, with my eyes giving a single glow. I take my stance. The distance between the two of us is almost to zero. With no stall, I slash in the air twelve times, reminiscent of the peripheries of a clock. The blue streaks close in on him. I still have time. I dismiss my sword, and cover my right hand in darkness. As if it were an illusion, the twelve slashes and my fist converge onto him all at once. The shockwave created from this blew everything back within a 15 km radius. The two spells in his hands fade, and he loses consciousness.

“What did I tell you, Jack. In an instant, I took you down in thirteen strikes.”

Interlude
I lifted Jack onto my back. Since I did not possess any orichalcum cuffs, I had to pay extra attention to him to make sure that he does not escape. I toted him to the nearest Union facility, with us arriving by day. The building was not too big though. I awaited at the gate and saw a single soldier. He came up to me and said, “Who are you?”.

“Nobody important really. But, the unconscious guy behind me is.” The serviceman looked at Jack.

“I didn’t expect him to be captured so soon.” He pulled out one pair of aether laced orichalcum shackles, and one pair of cuffs.. He restrained Jack with the shackles and then turned to me. “It is standard procedure for civilians to enter while restrained. Is that okay with you?”

“Of course.” I stretch out my hands for him to cuff me. He called another two servicemen over. By the time they arrived, Jack was awake.

“At least I don’t have to carry the big guy” one of them said. Jack looked at him with a wicked glare. “Up.” With a short delay, Jack conceded and rose. When he did, he looked at me and gave me the same look as he did to the serviceman. I was sure he wanted to say something, but words never came out his mouth. “Walk.” Jack was escorted away. The second serviceman looked to me.

“Come, our Vice General wants to see you.” I follow him farther into the facility. We entered a building and we took an elevator two floors up. We walk for about two minutes before we enter into an office on the right. “Here he is, sir.”

“Thank you Captain”, the man in the office said. I get a good look at the man. It is none other than Vice General Beoul Kim of the Division of Tactics & Recon. He was about 200 cm tall, with narrow eyes ,black slick back hair, and a cigar in his mouth. He was wearing a burgundy suit with a matching fedora. “Hello young man. Or do you prefer for me to call you Braeden Lupin?” My eyes widen slightly.

“How do you know about me?”

“I like to pay attention to current events and trending rumours. Of course, all of the things you did are no longer “current” in any sense of the word, but you get my point.”

“And what things did I do?”

“Some clean up in the throughout the region, surviving several months of torture, being the sole survivor of the “Black Bridge Incident”, surviving in another hell hole for seven months, and most recently, the capture of a notorious criminal. Does that cover everything?”

“Yes sir.”

“Now then, let us move onto why I called you up here. I will like for you to enlist in the DTR.”

“Sure, why not.” He opens his mouth in astonishment and allows the cigar to fall out.

“I expected a bit more reluctance, all things considered.”

“What happened to me was the work of the 108th Branch of the main army. I am not naive enough to see things in black and white. I have my own dream that I want to achieve, and maybe being in the DTR will be beneficial.”

“And what would that dream be?”

“A world with no suffering.” When I gave my response, the Vice General went quiet.

“I don’t think I ever heard that one before.” He gets another cigar and puts it in his mouth. “Are you aware of how things go here?”

“Yes. The DTR is the division that handles either “sensitive matters”, or anything where having few people is preferable. In other words, this division is comprised of elites.” The Vice General shook his head in interest.

“You seem to know a little something about the Union. Care to elaborate some more?”

“The Union spans the entire world, and was formed a decade after the end of the Black War, the last major conflict of the Third Era. Ever since then, the Union has been in power for over four thousand years.”

“Very good. You would be surprised at how many people do not know at least that much.” He gets up and opens a drawer to his side. He retrieves an kite shaped wrist item and and gives it to me. “Here.”

“What is this?”

“This thing here is a LINK device. It has all of the functions of a holopad and more. I believe that you will find it to be useful.”

“It is a bit hard to put it on while cuffed.”

“Oh, I’m sure you can just break it.” I raise my arms closer to me and shatter the cuffs by pulling my hands apart. I then strap the LINK device to my left wrist. As soon as I do that, I feel a slight tingle in my body. “There, now you are enlisted. I gave you the rank of a Warrant Lieutenant. I think the freedom will be best.” He reaches his hand out for a handshake, which I return. I begin to take my leave. As I was about to exit the office, he speaks once more. “Now, let us see if you are a dream chaser, or a dream maker.”

And so I spent the next four years alternating between training the Fracture, and invoking the my warrant. My targets were usually those who believed that their deeds will never catch up with them. It took about a year and a half before I gained my epithet, “Avenger”. Right now, I am a Colonel, serving at the age of 17. I grew to be about 185 cm, and I allowed my hair to grow out to reach my shoulders. I have endured countless pains, countless failures, and countless battles. But I have only begun.

Next Chapter

© 2016 Brandon Christopher/Kakuzan, All Rights Reserved

Advertisements