A/N: Due to time constraints, this first chapter will cover the first fight lined up. Keep reading, and make more requests in reviews!
"The central area of the pyramid has a stabilizing pipe that's 20m in diameter and 100m tall called the «Main Shaft». This is the pillar that supports every floor in this ship and also the layer that protects important facilities. The insides are all the Control Systems of the ship itself, the backbone of the Alicization plan...the place where the 4 STLs and the main frame «Light Cube Cluster» is."
May 2026, Ocean Turtle
LightCube Cluster A
With slow, controlled movements, Higa Takeru slowly loosened the screws of the main cover with a special screwdriver.
"Two millimetres...six turns."
Thinking aloud helped to calm him down. When it comes to such delicate operations, it's never a crime to take his time. Better to overshoot the timing requirements than to damage the precious crystals nestled inside the steel-gray cuboid he was working on.
Placing the magnetised screwdriver into its slot, Higa reconfirmed his calculation. He needs to remove the cover of the LightCube Cluster with as little contamination as possible; this entire room cannot tolerate even the smallest speck of dust from anything. He turns the handle six times and removes the screwdriver, then places both hands onto two handles shoulder width apart.
Speaking his thoughts again, he tries to control the shudder in his hands.
Soundlessly, the cover comes off- filling the darkened room with an unearthly glow.
Setting the cover down, Higa takes a moment to examine the LightCube Cluster. Almost ten thousand cubes are contained inside the tank, floating in a clear electrolyte to support the delicate electronics within. Most of the cubes inside glow with tiny specks of light - the so-called Fluctuating Light that shows activity of the souls within the virtual reality, Underworld.
If one takes a step back to examine it, calling it a «LightCube Cluster» does not quite capture the beauty of this creation by human hands. If the main terminal is a stem, the sub-terminals are sister stems and their terminal axon is a leave, then the entire installation looks more like a tree. A tree of Underworld's universe itself - drawing parallels to the mythical World Tree «Yggdrasil».
Higa Takeru prefers to call it something else, however: an artificial «Brain».
Holding sixteen blank LightCubes in a statically-neutral cloth - not a plastic or metallic container, that would damage the fragile cubes - Higa holds the cubes above the Cluster. His hand is trembling slightly, but at this stage, it does not matter. The cloth is completely free of dust that would otherwise foul up the Cluster's electrolyte. All he has to do is release a corner and let the Lightcubes fall into the Cluster, assigning themselves to available terminals.
And yet he hesitated slightly.
Last month, the «Ghost Incident» had happened. Power had fluctuated for a few seconds when the teenager Kirigaya Kazuto had dived in, and afterwards, his Fulldive had been cancelled without any command whatsoever. Even when several attempts to show his mysterious opponent had failed, he had reluctantly left saying that «it» should not happen again, and it wasn't as though Higa didn't have faith in him.
So why did he have doubts about installing these Lightcubes...?
Frustrated at the delay, Higa shrugged and forced his worries out of his mind. He let go of one corner of the cloth, and sixteen clear cubes tumbled out, falling into the electrolyte with muted *glop* noises.
Internal mechanisms activated and guided the LightCubes to sixteen free terminals. Higa sighed and reached for the main cover to secure the Cluster...
-and then the glow of the Cluster began to fluctuate again.
MATCH ONE: ALICE SYNTHESIS THIRTY vs BLACK LOTUS
A Certain Rented Apartment in Tokyo
What was that?!
In the comfort of her living room, Kuroyukihime felt a disturbance in the virtual space around her.
To be precise, its a virtual recreation of her living room based on her home's Private Network- dyed piercing, deep blue. In the initial Accelerated Space, she has an extra half an hour at her fingertips to think - twenty-nine minutes, fifty-eight point two seconds to be exact. A moment ago, she was scanning the matching list to check for unfamiliar Burst Linkers in the vicinity of her home; just to make sure that there is no one trying to spy on her.
And then that happened. A distortion in the space where her front door is located.
In her virtual network avatar, she got up and took a single step towards her front door and looked closely. The outline of the door is continuous and unbroken, and her anti-intrusion software shows green across the board. Nothing seems to have happened...
...and then ripples coalesce into another door.
Kuroyukihime stumbles in surprise and shock. Calling up her Matching List again, the names are all the same, so it's not a hacking of Brain Burst. Not likely.
But the door feels different from being a virtual object. The frame is wrought with an artistically exquisite frame of wrought iron, creating a crisscrossing pattern and a pressure that seems to draw her in.
Checking her anti-intrusion software again to make sure, Kuroyukihime steps up to the door. She stretches out a black-clothed hand and touches the doorknob...
A window appears before her. There's nothing written on it...and then English letters appear. Slowly, as though in slow-motion, they form two complete words: UNLIMITED BURST.
She hesitates. This could be a very well-planned trap to catch her in the Unlimited Field. Yet...the pressure from the door doesn't feel like a trap. It feels more like...it's inviting her.
Kuroyukihime takes in a deep breath, inflating her chest. Exhaling, she forms the command with her lips.
Rings of light appear and her entrance hall is dismantled. As she becomes fully immersed in the body of her duel avatar Black Lotus..., she keeps her eyes peeled to see the Stage...
-a huge tower that pierces the clouds. Streets paved with cobblestone. Human avatars gawking at her strange body.
Kuroyukihime - or now, Black Lotus, makes a full turn to see her surroundings.
"This is NOT the Unlimited Field!"
Centoria Cathedral, Central Plaza
Integrity Knight Alice Synthesis Thirty
"...what in Stacia's name is this...?"
Having been summoned from Cloudtop Garden from the Cathedral, Integrity Knight Alice had been expecting no more than a poor prank when she descended from eighty floors with the help of the Elevating operator. The only thing she had been taken aback by was that someone had dared to circumvent the Taboo Index to frighten the people.
Actually, there was one more thing that scared her; that an Integrity Knight had to be called to handle this issue. If local constables were not enough for this task...
And this...this sight before her confirmed her worst fears.
She was told that it resembled a Darkness Knight. But now she could see full well that this is no Knight. If anything, it resembles a demon. Forged from blades and dashed with streaks of poisonous purple.
Arresting her inital gaze was that this being had sharpened triangular edges for limbs. It was razor sharp based on its appearance; making it quite clear that this demon was created to kill.
The second thing that caught her eye was the two triangular pyramidal protrusions on its torso, the slim waist with a skirt of equally sharp armour.
This demon is female.
Pursing her lips, Alice Synthesis Thirty couldn't help but muse that the demon's chest seemed larger than hers.
The demon turned to face her and Solus' rays scattered upon refraction within its visor, made of purple crystal. The black metal of its body, oddly enough, reflected no light, as though cutting the sunlight itself.
Her voice died of her own will. The aura from the demon was oppressive! Purple slits of light where its eyes should be lit up from within as they locked gazes. It felt like a hundred swords facing her, thirsting for blood...
The pressure from the demon is deeper than this. It's more complex than simply wishing to kill. The black swords from the demon seemed...to reject.
Reject all existence that dares touch it, and utterly sunder it until it ceases to exist.
Gnashing her teeth, Alice Synthesis Thirty places her right hand on the handle of her beloved sword. She grips it tightly.
"I am Integrity Knight Alice Synthesis Thirty! State your name and purpose, demon, and you will be personally escorted out of the sacred grounds of the Centoria Cathedral which you have trespassed!"
Alice Synthesis Thirty wryly noted that this demon, having no feet to speak of, seemed to levitate with an unseen force. Perhaps it was aerial elements keeping it afloat...?
"My real name is a secret."
Rude, yet feminine and light. From this demon with no visible mouth, each word seemed to be loaded with a sharpened edge that could cut Alice's ears itself.
"But you can call me 'Black Lotus.' If you can kindly show me the way here..."
One of the eyes brightened in luminance suddenly. The 'arms' of the demon seemed to revolve, retract, and -
Suddenly, the rude words of the demon was clear. It was because of the confidence it - or she - possessed.
"...I will most kindly take my leave, Alice."
Had anyone else addressed her like that, they would most certainly be shackled and brought to the Cathedral to be imprisoned for the rest of their lifespan!
And Alice Synthesis Thirty will not stand for that any differently. The first section of the Fragrant Olive Sword greets Solus' rays as it is unsheathed-
And Black Lotus charges.
I'll do the rest of their fight the next time I'm high from reading the LNs or anime episodes.
I'm crossing my fingers for AW S2!