|Accel World: The Untold Story Of The Disaster Armour
Author: Tusjecht PM
THIS STORY IS CANCELLED. It got blown into AU territory after I read V8 of the light novels, so there's not much reason left for it to continue. Rewriting soon; head to the forum to submit any characters you'd want to see! See Profile for details.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Kuroyukihime/Black Lotus - Chapters: 3 - Words: 19,781 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 02-05-13 - Published: 01-09-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8891628
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Accelerated World
« Acceleration » is very powerful. Winning at fights, getting full marks on tests, big wins in gambling or sports all become very easy...Thus, once we have tasted this forbidden fruit, we will forever continue to « Accelerate ». For that we need Burst Points, the only way we can keep fighting forever.
-Kuroyukihime, « Lure of Acceleration »
Long after I had walked down the stairs with Pound and Aomizu by my side, I was still suffering from shock. Shock that this game, Brain Burst, was unlike any game that I had ever played.
I didn't notice it at first when I had first « accelerated » in the fourth-floor boys' bathroom earlier, because with the three of us sitting down completely still, it escaped my perception at first. It was only after the game finished, and « acceleration » was cancelled, that I realised its true potential.
"Kyousuke...aren't you going to eat?" Aomizu nudged me with her elbow.
Presently, I was now eating lunch - or rather, trying to eat. I was still busy trying to wrap my head around the entire concept of « acceleration ».
In Hiroo Elementary's school cafeteria, two enclosed areas were set up in their corners. One of them is exclusively for the 5th and 6th year students, so that they could eat in relative peace and quiet. I still don't understand why, but even teachers who would scold students frequently would lower their voices and speak respectfully upon entering this plain-looking room unadorned except for potted plants by the windows.
Pound, Aomizu, and I occupied one such table inside the room, eating silently. Pound tore into his lunch as though he hadn't seen real food for days, while Aomizu delicately nibbled at a slice of fish.
I, on the other hand, moodily stirred my fork in my glass of water for absolutely no reason other than to appear interested in the food.
What is « acceleration »? This fundamental question was presently devouring all of my brain's capacity to think.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as a girl stepped inside, looking for a free table. She's carrying a tray laden with two bowls of curry rice, and as I watch a little more closely, the tray is obstructing her view of the floor.
Consequently, the girl's next step is directly over a dropped plastic bottle cap, the cap being wedged at the extreme edge of her shoe. She stumbles, and the tray wobbles ever so slightly...and begins to fall.
Without thinking, I utter the command to begin « acceleration » again:
Again, the world turns electric blue, and from the reconstructed silhouette of my real body, my net avatar materialises. Feet clad in socks come to rest on the 'floor' of this virtual environment.
Now that I can properly observe, the real world really does seem to have stood still. The bowl of rice is almost completely tilted over now, but its contents appear stuck to the bowl's insides.
So Pound is telling the truth, I concede. This application, Brain Burst really accelerates my sense of time by a thousandfold.
I look around this virtual space again, and examine the falling bowl of rice closely. Since I have not actually stopped time, but rather, I'm examining phenomena as they appear a thousand times slower, I should expect the bowl to still be moving, but very, very slowly. Indeed, the bowl is tipping over with all the grace of a ghost and the speed of a snail.
Eh? As I scrutinise the reconstructed image of the bowl, its contents no longer appear to contain rice. Instead, half of the inside of the bowl appears to be covered with a flat surface like a shadow. However, a swirl of colours is projected on this new surface, giving the impression of infinite depth. Why, then?
It strikes me then, that this bore a striking resemblance to a waxing moon. I think back to Pound's words earlier: The surroundings are captured by the « Social Security Cameras », but rendered into an environment by Brain Burst.
If that is the case...then is this 'shadow' is the product of an area unseen by the « Camera Network »? I try to spot the Camera from the bowl's perspective, but the area is simply too small. Unless...
I look closely at the girl, her expression only beginning to register the initial expression of shock. If my theory is right, then it should be harmless, but in the event I am wrong, I will probably be branded a « pervert » if Pound or Aomizu found out.
I squat down and reach out gingerly to attempt to lift the hem of blue fabric, and immediately spot the observation that confirms my theory. Without needing to lift the recreation of the girl's uniform, the area of her legs just below her skirt is also covered in the same coloured shadow - proving that areas blocked from sight from the « Camera Network » are not rendered. That said, it works just as well the other way round - what I cannot view from my own eyes can be seen by any Camera in the area.
I straighten up, relieved that I do not have to actually commit the act completely. "Link Out!" I called, expecting the « acceleration » to end and return to my lunch.
Oh damn! I never asked Pound nor Aomizu how to cancel « acceleration »!
"Had fun, Kyousuke?" Pound asked sarcastically when I returned to the real world. The bowls of curry rice had crashed to the floor a minute ago, and now several students were helping to sweep up the ruined meal.
While still in the state of « acceleration », I had nothing better to do other than to open up Mr Tsubaki's homework and attempt some of the questions, passing by the time until the state of « acceleration » cut off automatically after about 30 minutes.
"Will you just tell me the command to cancel « acceleration »? I promise I won't do it again!"
Pound scoffs at this. "I imagine you were disappointed when you realise you couldn't see-"
"No, you're wrong!" I practically shout, attracting more than a few stares. Recovering myself, I begin again in a softer voice.
"I was just..well, observing the real world while in « acceleration »!"
"Oh really? Just observing?" Aomizu has joined in as well, glaring daggers at me while managing to blush. Unfortunately, I know exactly what they're both thinking of.
"S..sorry! But I really didn't do anything wrong!"
"Guilty conscience, eh?"
Pound and Aomizu used the better part of the remaining lunch break to needle me over this. Only later, when we're returning to our classrooms, then does he turn and explain to me.
"The command is « Burst Out »."
"But lemme warn you," he leaned in threateningly. "I have close to zero respect for those who abuse Brain Burst."
He pointed at himself. "I practice boxing in my free time, both online and offline, but it's my personal motto to never use « acceleration » to win."
"Brain Burst might seem to be a game to you, but it's the other way round. We don't « accelerate » to fight; we're fighting for the right to continue « acceleration ». Didn't Kotori tell you earlier?"
I glanced at her for a fleeting moment; Aomizu is observing us with a somewhat detached look in her eyes.
"Yes..yeah she did."
"Good." He finally stood straight up, and I released the tiniest of sighs.
"Meet me at the cafeteria again after school ends." He called after me as I start to walk back to class. "I still need to teach you how to fight!"
"Uh, okay then."
I turn to look at Aomizu, who has also been walking behind me silently as we walk to class. After about a minute or so, I turned to ask her a question that had been bugging me since lunch.
"Aomizu..why is Pound so serious about this game?"
"Because it's not just a game to us."
Huh? But..isn't the whole application set up as a game?
"You won't understand it, Kyousuke, not yet. You've only used it for yourself once, and that's not enough to see how good it gets."
"And what do you mean by that?"
This draws Aomizu to a sudden stop, but when I look around, I realise her cheeks are flushed; Aomizu is actually showing emotion over this.
"Well, you should know that you duel with other Burst Linkers, right? You duelled Pound earlier, and that was only looking for duels within the school network."
"Um..I guess so? Wait, does this mean that in the Global Net, there are other players?"
"Certainly. There are about four to five hundred Burst Linkers in Tokyo area alone."
Five hundred? Potentially five hundred opponents?!
"It doesn't mean, though, that everyone are enemies," Aomizu quickly catches herself, and resumed her slow walk to class. "Most of us are..well, followers of some of the stronger Linkers. I said earlier that Pound was Level 4, right? I'm a Level 4 Linker as well, but the strongest Linkers now are about Level 6."
"Then..does that make you guys..um, old players?"
"Veterans, Kyousuke. Veterans." Aomizu suggested. "And yes, we veterans follow these Level 6 Linkers."
"How many are there? And..is there a maximum level or something? Or is there none?"
"Um..." Aomizu cocks her head and stares off into space. "I think there are about ten to twelve, I think..was that everyone? When the last time we met..." She starts to count off on her fingers, muttering under her breath.
"Anyway," She suddenly turns back to me. "This isn't important. Pound will tell you what you need to know later."
"You mean, after school?"
"Yes, and so will I." She ends her sentence with a tiny wink, and ducked into the classroom.
This actually leaves me with more questions than answers, but for now it really is time for lesson.
Pound better have more answers than Aomizu, if she's not talking.
Two coils of wire lie on the table, unmistakably XSB Link Cables. Pound is sitting there before me, blankly staring ahead.
Aomizu and I sit down opposite from him. She picks up both cables and connects the two to ports in her Neuro Linker. Pound changes his focus to the cable coils, and picks up one end and clips it to his Neuro Linker as well.
I hesitate. « Direct Connecting » is a pretty uncomfortable thought; with a wired connection, a determined hacker has already bypassed eight security measures embedded in the operating software. Having received Brain Burst from Aomizu yesterday, and being repaid with a horrible nightmare that very night, I was not in the mood to accept a connection.
"Connect yourself, Kyousuke," Aomizu urges. "We need to use « thought communication » to speak privately."
"Hurry up, Kyousuke. Somebody will get me for this if you don't listen to us."
Well then, is Pound actually afraid of someone? Even while I entertain this thought, I'm still connecting the second XSB cable with deliberate slowness, making sure my reluctance is clearly written all over my face. I pop the plug into my Linker and receive the « Physical Connection Warning » dialogue window again.
"Well then, Kyousuke," Pound claps his hands together, not even saying 'Hi,' or anything like that. "You know what to do."
We're gathered in the cafeteria's enclosed area again, the only place we can discuss « acceleration » in relative privacy. Pound places his hand on the table and shows three fingers. A countdown. I look up at him and receive a nod in response. Next to me, Aomizu has just sat down as well; pausing only to take a sip of water, and she nods at Pound to tell him she's ready.
"Burst Link!" we chorus.
With a "BAASHIN" sound effect I hadn't noticed before, the world turns electric blue again. Three net avatars are recreated and appear in this space simultaneously.
"Now then," Pound points a boxing glove at me. "To continue where we left off from earlier. Open your menu again, Kyousuke, and click on the option labelled 'Storage'."
"Should I be expecting anything inside?" I open my menu but my finger just hovers over the option. If there are any more surprises in this game, I want to know beforehand.
"Actually, yes," Pound retorts. "Your « Storage » contains every item and equipment you can find in Brain Burst. You remember that I said earlier, you should be in posession of a « Enhanced Armament », right?"
"Yeah, and what's that supposed to be?"
"Every avatar has some potential for either combat or support," Pound elaborated. "The golden rule is that avatars of the same Level have the same potential."
"However," He cleared his throat. "The exceptions to this rule mainly occur because of « Enhanced Armaments ». They're pieces of equipment that can vary widely, depending on their affinity. I've seen swords, rifles, shields, and there's even a jetpack, of all things..."
Curiously, Pound is flustered when he mentions the jetpack. I don't know what to make of it though, so I just keep listening.
"There are four ways of getting Armaments. The first, and the most probable one now, is getting it as your default equipment when you first receive Brain Burst. That's why," He gestures at me again. "It's going to be in your storage."
"How'd you figure that out anyway?" I'm feeling a little dryness in my mouth after listening to Pound's analysis.
"Like I said," He shrugged. "Same level, same potential."
"Oh, I know I'm a Level 4 and you're a level 1," He continued as soon as the objection is on my lips. "But the point is, your starting moves were already too weak for any normal Level 1 avatar. All that combat potential has to go somewhere, and it has to be in an Armament."
"So," he concludes patiently. "Check your Storage."
I give up. Pound knows more than me anyway.
Opening the Storage, a larger window opens up, I scroll up and down, but..there's nothing.
"Swipe to the left, Kyousuke. By default, it shows « Items » first." Aomizu answers this time.
I swipe, realising that there's a title at the top of the window. Once, twice, thrice, and then I see it.
"It's...it's there. 'Turquoise Shields'." I whisper in disbelief. Then something strikes me.
"If I have had these all along, why didn't they show up?"
Pound and Aomizu are sighing in relief even as I ask. Seriously, how is it a good thing? I just don't get it.
"You can choose to equip them first," Pound explained in a much gentler tone. "You can do that by right-clicking on the Armament and select « Equip At Battle Start ». Just ignore the other options for now."
Pound nudged Aomizu. "Challenge your child, Kotori."
Somehow, I manage the feat of choking and spluttering even in a virtual environment. Pound and Aomizu stare momentarily before bursting into laughter - loud, raucous peals of laughter.
"He..he doesn't mean « Child » literally, Kyousuke," Aomizu struggled to hold back her laughter. "Though, would you like it if i call you Kyou-chan now? Wahahaha!"
Unfortunately, my avatar, mirroring my emotions in every aspect, is visibly flushing in embarrassment as well. Taking my cue from Pound's order to Aomizu, I swiftly select the « Matching List » option, and ram the name Magnesium Drake as hard as I possibly can.
The environment swiftly dissolves into a dimensionless void. Rings of light envelop me, and I'm suddenly aware of new sensations, giving me the feeling that the duel avatar « Turquoise Protector » is being assembled around me.
The void vanished and clears to reveal a large, open field I vaguely recognise as the school running track and field. Extremely tall grass grew all around, drenched in the light of a setting sun.
"Ehh...Kyou-chan, why did you duel me?"
From the diminutive shrine maiden avatar, Aomizu's faux playful voice, so unlike her as I knew, emanated across the space in this virtual environment. A cool wind blew and rustling noises filled the air.
"Will you just stop calling me Kyou-chan?!" I shout. Taking a step forward, I lifted my left hand to point threateningly at her, and-
This..this is the Turquoise Shield?
Fixed to my left forearm is an enormous shield that wasn't there before, shining in the sunlight. I turn my arm over to see it, and actually draw a gasp of surprise. There's just no other word for it; the shield is beautiful.
A large, six-sided plate of metal is the base, with two edges elongated so that it looked more like the silhouette of a coffin. But there's nothing remotely disturbing about it's main feature, the reason for my surprise: a beautiful turquoise cross, curved on the insides and edges, adorns the centre and practically makes up the entire surface area. In the twilight, I can't tell for sure, but the rest is filled in with white while the very edges are dark blue. The cross is made from what seems to be crystal - sparkling, rapturous crystal that catches the light and scatters a reflected pattern over my eyes.
I want to touch it, I'm barely able to think. I reach over to stroke the cross with my right, or at least try, because the feeling of a heavy weight in my grasp brings to attention another identical shield - held by a handle in the palm of my hand. I pick it up and I can feel its weight, solid and reassuring. The handle and back side of the shields are both pure, unadorned white that is pleasing to the eye.
I've gone quiet for so long, Aomizu has to walk up and tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.
"..usuke? Hello? Earth to Kyousuke?"
"..er, yeah. Yeah, I'm listening."
"I know, they're..um, they're very pretty, I guess."
I currently can't spare the brain capacity to berate Aomizu for calling the shields pretty. My shields, rather. Somehow, I finally manage to break the magical hold they have on my attention.
"Eh, you were saying, Aomizu?"
"I was saying," she huffed. "That « Enhanced Armaments » usually grant you extra moves! Check your move list again!"
With the shield on my left arm hindering movement quite a bit, I clumsily click on my avatar's name to bring down the in-game menu. I bring up the move list - lo and behold, more moves have indeed appeared.
Enhanced Armament: Left Turquoise Shield:
Normal Move « Thrust »
In any position, thrust the left arm forward in a punching motion.
Enhanced Armament: Right Turquoise Shield:
Normal Move « Block »
In any position, hold shield directly in front of the body.
Normal Move « Sideswipe »
Holding shield upright, swing from left to right or right to left. Does damage if shield hits opponent.
Special Move « Solidarity »
Brace feet apart, right foot behind to deploy anchors. Reflects damage of a single hit. Chance to shatter upon second consecutive hit.
"Well? How does it look like now?" Pound has just jogged up to us, having appeared elsewhere as a « Spectator ». Wordlessly, I tap the « Make Window Visible » option again and let the updated screen do the talking.
"Yeah! That should be more like it!" Pound's avatar doesn't appear to allow for facial expressions, but the sparks of light representing his eyes lift and widen in clear delight, and he pumps his fist. Inwardly, I sigh in relief as well; after examining the avatar for the first time, I genuinely thought that in this game, I was next to useless.
"Anyway," Pound addressed me again. "You're not actually supposed to duel Kotori now, I only wanted to see the Armaments that you had. You're fighting someone else today. Kotori, end it in a draw."
Pound doesn't answer, but instead gives the command to cancel his acceleration and his avatar disappears. A holographic window appears in front of me with some English words on it: I'm guessing it's the draw request.
Aomizu is looking rather expectantly at my hesitation. Resigned to whatever Pound has in store for me, I struggle to read and interpret, and finally click the button that says [ACCEPT]. A window appears, displaying what I take to be the result of the duel, but now I notice in smaller font below that displays how many Burst Points I have remaining: exactly 97. The window fades before I can finish though, and transitions to a blank view.
"Once you step outside the school gate, you'll connect to the « Global Net », and if you were to accelerate at that instant, you'll see the matching list has a lot more names." Pound explained.
We're standing a few steps away from the main gate of school, where apparently Pound has some last words to say to me for the day. Aomizu has already left, saying ambiguously "Someone else will take care of you!"
Pound paused for a moment to busy himself with what appears to be an incoming mail, and listening closely, I can hear mumbles and snatches of words under his breath. He sends a final mail and glances back at me.
"He will challenge you instead, so you are to just walk out of the school gate. The moment someone else challenges you, you will automatically accelerate and get spawned in the stage first. It doesn't cost you Burst Points for this."
"Who's he, Pound?"
"Ah, he's someone strong. among the strongest, rather, but he'll take good care of you if you impress him." He added a sly wink to underscore his point. "We're quite shorthanded...you'll have to do, I guess."
"Who is he, Pound?"
"Nope, I can't tell you." Another wink. "But you'll find out, so get going!"
He sidesteps me and gives a pretty hard push, nearly making me stumble. Recovering, I try to shoot him a glare of frustration, but Pound simply shakes his head and makes a shooing motion with his hand.
When I get to Level 4, I'll come back and kick him for this, I thought. Taking in a deep breath, I lift my foot. One step..two steps..three steps. I'm now standing outside the gate.
My Neuro Linker, detecting that I've stepped out of the school boundaries, automatically disconnects from Hiroo Elementary's network. A small popup appears to inform me I've now connected to the Global Net, and then winked out. I brace myself for the sudden acceleration..
..nothing? I turn back to see Pound's expression; it's back to his normal controlled expression, betraying nothing.
...this is stupid, I think. I turn back, intending to start running back to the train station, when-
That sound effect rings in my ears and the world turns blue for the third time today.
No warning whatsoever?! My frustration with this game has just gone up a notch; I suddenly feel quite naked while the duel avatar is loaded and created, something I didn't experience earlier.
The stage loads quickly at least, because the rings of light fade out and disappear. There's a clank sound as my feet touched ground, but..the blank view is still there? I blink furiously before I grasp it.
The stage did load, but it's a night-themed environment. Above, the sky is black except for purplish clouds in the distance, and all around me are the same buildings as the ones outside our school. However, they're just a shade lighter than the sky, which made it extremely difficult to distinguish their outlines. Looking down, the sky provides just enough light to discern the outlines of my feet from the dark floor.
Stepping out, I notice two green rings of light just beyond the point where a traffic junction lies near our school. Flaming words appear at the same time:
Here Comes A New Challenger!
Looking beyond, I realise it's not totally dark; spotlights dot the edges of the stage in places. The now familiar clanking noise of the game interface reaches me, and I look up to see the Health Gauge bars. On the left is mine as usual, showing my name. On the right, however, is a name I've obviously not seen before..
"...Green..Grande?" I whispered the name out loud.
The rings of light wink out of existence, and I get my first look at the opponent at last, and - there's no other word for it - he is green. From head to toe, armour plates cover every part of his avatar. A V-shaped attachment on his helmet strongly reminded me of a horned beetle I saw in a picture book in my younger days.
What caught my attention, though, was his huge shield. Easily twice the size of one of my shields, the shield looked like a large rectangle with reinforced corners. In the very centre, a bright yellow jewel shone, sparkling from within.
For whatever reason, I sensed a tremendous pressure unlike anything I felt before. Emanating from this challenger was a definite feeling of strength - the strength to weather a thousand strikes without retreating a single step.
Green Grande took a few steps forward, his massive feet shaking the earth slightly with each step. As though caught in an attractive field, I too walked up to Grande until our avatars were about two metres apart. His avatar seemed about as tall, if not taller than Iron Pound's, so once again I found myself looking up.
"You are the new « Child » from Magnesium Drake, am I correct?" A boy's voice issues from deep somewhere, so deep I nearly mistaken it for a teenager's voice.
"Yes, I am." I reflexively respond formally.
I don't receive a reply and tense up, but Green Grande is simply looking up and down at my avatar. His gaze lingers on my shields for quite awhile, and I momentarily forget it's a duel.
"Well, then, let's duel," He finally breaks the silence. "Let's see how strong you are first."
"You..you are the « Invulnerable » one mentioned by Pound, am I right?" I suddenly recall.
A curt nod is all I get in reply. He hefts the massive shield in his hand, I presume, and sets it down with a BANG of metal on earth. Just over the top edge, Grande's eyes are both staring at me, and they're narrowed in wariness.
"So, I have to reduce this guy's health to zero, huh..." I mutter to myself.
It certainly doesn't look easy. Thinking back to the danmaku games I play as a hobby, I quickly conclude that frontal attacks are not the way to go; a boss like this usually nullifies all frontal attacks. Therefore, his vulnerability must be..his sides and back?
Lowering my head, I dash forward, pumping the avatar's legs. Oddly, this avatar seems to be able to run extremely fast, even though I'm holding the two large « Turquoise Shields » in my hands. I close the gap in no time at all, and thrust forward-
My shield makes contact with that green monolith with a shower of sparks. I glance at Grande's HP gauge: naturally, with the shield taking all the damage, his gauge has not decreased at all. Curiously, though, there is a small increase in a slimmer green gauge just below both our HP bars, one gauge for each of us.
The force of the recoil pushes me back. Time for the sides!
In danmaku, the beginner approach is to ride out the waves by dodging the hail of bullets, and scoring points and killing enemies are secondary priority. Experts, however, who know exactly where and how the bullets are shot, can score mega-high scores and still dodge bullets. I've been playing such games for a few years now, and can reasonably match at least a third to a half of their scores.
So for an enemy like Green Grande, he would be similar to the types of bosses that have « Vertical Attack Spellcards », whereby they shoot straight down at your character. Dodging the shots is impossible, and one cannot shoot them from the spot you want, it is being filled by thousands of bullets. In other words, « Frontal Attacks » cannot be used.
Hence, to defeat Grande, I must either circumvent his shield, or remove it completely. Neither option has a very good probability of success, but compared to standing in front and repeatedly striking that huge shield, they are more attractive by a few orders of magnitude.
Keeping this in mind, I swing my left arm up and to the right - a feint to give the impression I will be shifting my path to Grande's left. He spots this and quickly ducked behind the huge plate. However, I change direction; swinging my right arm and the shield away, I force the avatar's momentum to be adjusted to a different path - by following the motion of the shield being swung in a clockwise direction, I end up at Grande's right. I can make it...!
Somehow, Grande anticipated the move and moved his shield accordingly, knocking me clean off my feet. With several sickening CRUNCH sounds, I trip over myself and crash into a heap. In the corner of my vision, my HP gauge is shaved off by a few points. With earth-shaking steps, Grande moves up, lifting his shield as well. He's going to crush me with that?!
I don't stick around for him to score a free hit; springing up, I take off and head for some of the tall buildings in the distance.
Maybe, just maybe, there's a way to hit him still.
The thickly armoured feet of the avatar, Green Grande, make a highly conspicuous sound whenever he walks. Thus, he rarely ever chased the opponent during duels, instead preferring to let the opponent come for him.
Right now, however, he was doing just that for the sole purpose of seeking a proper duel with this newbie Burst Linker, Turquoise Protector. His lieutenant had indeed picked a suitable « Child »; the high colour saturation of the avatar had just proved that. However, he had not totally anticipated the shields; even he, the best « Invulnerable » avatar yet, only had one shield.
His footsteps echoing off the walls, the heavyweight-class avatar walked slowly and steadily among the tall buildings on either side of him. This was a bad place for an ambush; with wide streets and alleys, any surprise attack would require considerable speed to stand a reasonable chance of success.
Footsteps from far away echoed softly throughout the stage. Grande turned and looked around, anticipating a flash of blue-green around him..
Nothing. The only avatar standing was him.
With the timer ticking its way through the last ten minutes of the duel, Grande was grimly concluding that this « Child » was a coward. That, or his lieutenants had failed to properly instruct him. Neither conclusion was good.
Grande reached a particularly tall building with several spotlights pointing up. Characteristic of many buildings rendered in the « Demonic City » stage, this building had large ridges running from its bottom to the top, giving off an impression of large claws sticking up from the ground. Above, there might be a ledge or balcony that serves as a spawn point for this building's counterpart in the Unlimited Field.
A tiny flash of light on his shield caught his eye; a reflection of a spotlight's beam. He brushed it aside, then stopped in horror.
All the spotlights point upwards, so the only way I'd see a reflected ray is if-
He chose this moment to look up, and unfortunately his vision was soon filled with that glimmering, turquoise cross.
With a screech of tortured metal, I drove my left shield right into Grande's shocked face. The helmet attachment detached and crumpled from the force, and he reflexively let go of his shield, letting it fall with a clang. Twisting from the impact, I brought up my right shield to meet the ground, and was reintroduced to terra firma.
It was more of a question of luck, really. Had Grande taken a left turn instead, I would have wasted all my time by climbing up the wrong building. Glancing at the health gauges, it cheered me to see that while I had taken a terrible beating by falling from that height, Grande's HP had taken an equally punishing reduction; our gauges were now equal.
Rolling to a sitting position, I stood up and glanced and Grande. Miraculously, he was still standing, although he was clutching his ruined helmet. Fragments of his helmet were scattered and clearly, he was feeling pain.
It then hit me, that I was feeling bruised all over, no doubt a direct result of my suicidal fall. Experimenting, I jab my shield into my foot and- OW!
Pain is truly simulated in this world, is it? If so, then..
I limp over to Grande. "Uh..are you okay? Does it hurt?"
One eye peeked through a massive green hand. "What do you think?"
"Uh, sorry!" I bowed for added respect.
Grande saw all this, and promptly burst into laughter as well. "My my..this is a duel really. Still.."
He bent over to pick up his fallen shield. "That was quite clever," he remarked nonchalantly. "Many have tried to pull off my shield, or feint as you just did...but no one has ever jumped from the stage, betting on an extremely small probability of success."
Given his light, polite tone, as though we were merely discussing where to eat, I decided to follow his cue and replied as well. "Well, it is like danmaku after all, there's always a way to beat the boss."
"Always?" He narrowed his eyes. "Do you believe that?"
Where did that come from? "Ye..yes, but why do you ask?"
"I ask you again. Do you believe, that even outnumbered and outgunned, there always exists a way to win?" There's much more pressure and conviction in his tone; I'm shrinking back reflexively.
Remember a time when you were cornered and helpless, and yet you still continued to fight-
I grip my shield a little tighter, trying to drive out the recollection. Clenching my teeth, I meet Grande's overpowering gaze and answer:
"Yes..yes, they exist."
Leaving me with that anticlimatic ending to the conversation, he turned on his heel and made to leave.
"Eh, wait, wait a bit! There's still some time left! Isn't this a duel?"
"Of course, but I'll consider this as your win."
"Why? I can't pull that trick again, right?"
"But you were able to think of that," He turns and points squarely at my avatar's mask. "You, out-leveled and weaker than me, didn't give up and still tried to fight. That kind of determination is badly needed."
"Me, of course. Call it a draw?"
The system window appears in front of me. Once more, I'm in a duel with no winner, just..just partners.
"What..what do you mean, you need me?" I ask a final question.
"I want you to join my leadership, of course." Grande replied evenly. "You and Iron Pound, flying the flag of the Invulnerable Great Wall Circle. At least, until legions can be formed."
I look up at him, and back at the draw request.
"I'll meet you in the real world," Grande suddenly added on. "I'm standing outside your school gate, and Pound is coming with me as well."
So that this guy can talk me into joining his group? No thanks, really. As far as I had seen, this was just another FullDive game, and if what Aomizu had said was absolutely correct, then membership depended on these fights; fights that really hurt, and lose too many fights leads to the loss of your game.
And yet...with this, I gain the power of « acceleration », which allowed me to see so many things in much greater detail. The question is, though, is whether it was worth it. I think back to my reply to Aomizu on my first day back.
Slowly, a turquoise finger reached out and touched the button. Blinking in acceptance, the system window vanished and was replaced with a larger window:
Result is a DRAW!
Between Turquoise Protector [Level 1] and Green Grande [Level 5]
Level 5?! So strong?!
The perspective cleared and goes to black. My first real fight in the « Accelerated World » has once again, finished in a draw.
end of chapter 3.
A/N: Well, hello there. Thank you for taking the time to keep reading through all these chapters here!
In between, I have been writing oneshots, check them and review if you please.
Chapter 4 will be in the works longer because I'm now going to work on my other ongoing fanfic, Starry Skies Tainted By Flood.
Once more, thanks for reading, reviewing, and favouriting if you may!