A/N : Hey everybody and welcome to my new work. It's something that I've been wanting to write for ages but haven't really had a good time getting into the zone. The Index/Railgun series is probably my most favourite series so I hope you all enjoy my attempt at it.

Disclaimer : I don't own A Certain Magical Index or anything else that may cross

-ACRD-

Chapter 1: A New Illusion - Director's_PATH

Science, something that has been around in one form or another for many many years. From the earliest times on inventing a Stone Wheel, Science has been apart of the human world since humans first evolved (those that of course believe humans evolved anyway.) Every year it expands, new knowledge brings new technology which further enriches the power of Science. Hence why the greatest minds in the world (or so it seemed) saw fit to create a city. A sprawling metropolis in what was considered one of the most technologically advanced Countries in the world, Japan. This city was given a name, mostly after the primary vocation of most that lived there. Hosting 2.3 million students, the city was donned a fitting name. Academy City; The City of Science.

"Such misfortune," a lamenting voice grumbled.

Walking out from a convenience store, a boy looking to be around twelve years old sighed dejectedly as he stared down at a plastic bag in his hands. He was dressed in a white buttoned up shirt and black pants, he looked rather ordinary but his black hair was spiked in a way that made him look like ahe stepped out of a Manga. The reason for his dejection was simple, the convenience store he had just exited had sold out of the meat they had on sale, meaning that all he had for dinner tonight were vegetables, Tofu, eggs, and Miso Stock.

'Not the end of the world, but I kinda wanted meat,' with a bitter thought, the boy started to walk again.

He was far too used to these things happening, after all, no body had worse luck then Touma Kamijou. A normal day for him held at least five unfortunate mishaps. A really bad day maxed out at fifteen, Today on the other hand he only had to suffer this one, which made him guarded, because if he was having a reasonably lucky day, that meant something big was going to happen, and it wouldn't be good.

After tensely walking for five minuets he came upon the mouth of an alley, it was one he normally took as his dorm was on the other side. Normally he wouldn't have a problem going through the alley but tonight he was sorely tempted to just take the long way around.

"I know what's gonna happen, I'm gonna take the alley and then get jumped and mugged." Not that the muggers would get much considering his financial situation.

Deciding discretion to be the better part of valour, Touma decided to take the long way around.

Fwhoosshh

However the split-second hesitation that he might not have had during another time caused him to see a light flare up from the alley, cursing his luck he decided to go down the alley to see if anyone needed help.

The alley itself wasn't anything peculiar. It was made up of a wall to a building on one side, and a horse-shoe shaped building on the other, meaning that at the centre of the alley was an alcove of a reasonable size, it was in said alcove that the light Touma saw originated. Approaching the alcove as silently as possible, he peered around the corner and his eyes widened.

Standing near the opposing wall of the alcove was an elderly man, sliver-grey hair was spiked back with a similarly coloured trimmed goatee and moustache. He was dressed in a black and grey vine patterned vest and a dark blue buttoned shirt with a vibrant orange and red tie. His pants were black dress pants though weirdly he had bright green sneakers on his feet. In his right hand he gripped a black coloured cane, over his body he was wearing a white lab coat.

"So, this is your response?" The man's voice was light as he regarded the second person in the alcove

In the middle of the alcove was a young man around eighteen. He had short red hair and was wearing what looked like a black high collared school uniform. Touma couldn't see his face, but in his left hand was a lit flip lighter.

"You screwed my plans over old man, I'm not about to take that lightly," the younger man growled holding up his right hand.

Almost immediately, the flickering flame from the lighter was pulled by an unseen force to float above the man's right palm, forming into a ball of flame.

"Pyrokinesis," Touma whispered to himself.

One of the things that set Academy City apart from the rest of the world wasn't just that it was twenty years ahead of the world in terms of Scientific advancement, but also what they are currently experimenting on. Esper Powers, or Abilities were the main concentration of development in Academy City, all of the students undergo a process called the Power Curriculum Program, a Program designed to foster the development of Abilities or as they've come to be known Esper Powers, and those that wield these powers are called Eper's.

"My dear boy, I honestly can say that I wasn't expecting you to actual have the resources and clout to find out that it was my group that stopped your plans" the older man spoke in a serious tone. "Honestly, conducting a weapons deal? Even more so it was a group of Esper's arming Skill-Out."

"You should'a just butted out of it geezer, now I've gotta tune you up to send a message."

Touma watch the scene, debating what to do, he wanted to help the old man, who seemed to have nothing to protect himself, but he wasn't sure how to go about it. Taking a step into the open, his bad luck suddenly decided it needed to show itself as his foot struck a can he was sure wasn't there a second ago, causing the empty aluminium drink container to bounce forward, the tinny sound of of each strike on concrete causing a silence to befall the alcove before the younger man turn on his heel and glared at the unwelcome new-comer.

"Shit, a witness." The man's face was crumpled into a scowl as he grunted with annoyance. "Sorry 'bout this kid but you walked inta the wrong alley."

Without awaiting a response, the man tossed the fireball a Touma. As the ball left his hand, it rocketed towards Touma with substantial speed, not having enough time to do much else, the unfortunate boy tossed aside his grocery bag and held his right hand up towards the ball.

"Such Misfortune," he called out as the ball struck his hand.

However, instead of severely injuring the spiky haired boy, the sound of shattering glass echoed throughout the alcove and the fireball seemed to vaporise.

"What the hell?" The younger man was confused, that shouldn't have happened.

"Interesting," the older man whispered, stroking his goatee. "Such an unusual sight, I must thank you for allowing me to witness it, but I am afraid it's time to end this."

As the old man said this, a shadow dropped down from one of the lower windows behind the man, before darting forward.

Taking his eyes off the brat that somehow shook off his fireball, the younger man turned and tossed another fireball at the newcomer who in response flicked a glowing round object at the fireball. Upon the two colliding, an explosion lit the area and the fire user had to squint his eyes. He never noticed the figure draw even with him and pulled out a short metal rod which extended into a metre and a half long staff. The figure flipped into around his their hands before thrusting it into the fire user's gut. In an instant, the man was launched by an unforeseen concussive force into the side wall of the alcove, falling to the ground unconscious.

Flipping the staff around again in a rather needless fanfare, the staff shrunk back to it's unassuming thirty centimetre size. Touma was able to finally get a good look at the figure.

It was a boy, roughly around Touma's age, he had shaggy, wispy black air that fell haphazardly around his face, he was dressed similar as well, a button up white shirt and black pants, but that really wasn't surprising, many schools had a similar dress code for their male students. His pale grey eyes quirked curiously as he regarded Touma, stowing the shrunken metal staff into a holder on his waist.

"Sorry to involve you in that scuffle lad," the old man spoke up, approaching Touma. "He was someone who we had a prior... disagreement with."

"Err, okay," Touma wasn't sure what to say. "I'm just glad no-one was hurt, sorry to randomly show up though."

"Think nothing of it my boy, I have to say though, that is an intriguing Ability you have there," the man grinned. "If I didn't know any better I would say negation but I know quiet a bit of what Abilities there are in the City and negation is such a one that wouldn't have slipped my notice."

Touma suddenly had the distinct feeling that this man was someone higher on the Academy City 'food chain' then he was used to dealing with.

"Oh, where are my manners, my name is Shuusuke Kuroyama, a scientist and one of Academy City's Board of Directors." The man's statement cause Touma's eyes to widen.

He was not expecting to meet someone who stood at the top of Academy City totem pole.

-ACRD-

Touma was, for lack of a better word, confused. One minute he was in an alleyway, finding out that the newest person he had come across was one of the people who ran Academy City. The next, he was sitting in a rather plain looking office. While the desk, computer, filing cabinets and several bookshelves were expected, Touma was sitting on a bluish grey couch in the centre of the room atop a black and purple spiral patterned circular rug. A solid, antique-looking wooden coffee table sat in front where the aforementioned Academy City bigwig placed down a cup of coffee in front of the pre-teen, motioning him to help himself as he sat down on a swivel chair in front of the desk. On the opposite side of the couch, closest to the exit, the other boy sat, sipping from the coffee poured for him.

Touma found the whole situation surreal.

"Just roll with it," the voice came from the boy as he placed his cup on the table, On the ride over he had introduced himself as Kazuki Shikihiro. "The Professor likes to act on his whims all the time."

"A little harsh there, but not without some measure of truth," the Professor chuckled. "So Touma, I'm sorry for bringing you here suddenly, but that Ability of yours has me curious."

That didn't surprise him, Touma was aware of how abnormal his hand was.

Ever since birth he had this power, and it was his belief that it was the reason life was hard for him. His bad luck had caused a lot of problems in the past, anybody in his home town would blame their luck on him and after one particular event, a drunken man beating him after he lost his job, his father had decided to send Touma to Academy City in hopes of determining what made Touma's luck bad. That was when he discovered the power held in his right hand, a power that could negate Abilities, and with that knowledge, Touma was convinced that it was also negating his luck. He explained as much to Kuroyama.

"It doesn't register on the testing machines either," Touma muttered out, finishing his explanation. "It's why I'm registered as a Level 0, the tester said that despite that I needed to name my Ability so I've taken to calling it [Imagine Breaker]."

"[Imagine Breaker] huh? A fitting name, a power that breaks the imaginary world Esper's create," the Professor grinned, referencing the separate reality that Esper's had to create in their minds to distort reality.

"That's what the tester said when I named it," Touma nodded.

"Such a peculiar power," Kuroyama sat in though for a moment, before grinning. "You mentioned you were a Level 0 right?"

"Yeah..." Touma really felt like bemoaning his lot in life, as he was sure it was his damned hand that prevented him from developing an Ability that might make him a higher Level. After all, the higher one's Level, the more of a stipend they received from Academy City.

"Well then, what would you say about working for me?" Kuroyama asked.

"Working for you?" Touma was confused.

"Ahh, I haven't explained what I research," the Professor realised. "You see Touma, I study a specific area about Ability's. That area is the study of the Abnormalities and Exceptions of Esper Power's."

"Abnormalities and Exceptions?" Touma asked, not understanding.

"You see in this city there is approximately nine hundred and twenty thousand students that have an Ability, what I study are two particular questions; One," he held up his right hands index finger. "Things like the reason why Level 0's can't develop an ability and why there is such a massive difference between Level 1's and 2's, and Level 3's and 4's. They are Abnormalities. The Professor paused. "Are you familiar with the seven strongest Ability users in Academy City?"

Touma nodded, the cream of the crop Academy City had to offer, the only seven students out of the 2.3 million students total who have reached the highest known Level Esper's can reach, Academy City's vaunted Seven Level 5 Espers.

"My research into Abnormalities also covers why there are massive gaps separating 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th Level 5's and why 3, 2 and 1 each hold their own separate level of power." Kuroyama paused for a moment. "Of course that's providing their own tests allow for it."

Touma understood that, he was aware that the higher your Level was, the more tests you had to go through. He'd imagine that the Level 5's didn't have much free time.

"Anyway, the second thing," Kuroyama held up a second finger. "Is studying those who have Abilities that far exceed any known science." he paused again. "Of course this one is a little harder because the top three Abilities that surpass Scientific reasoning are the Number's 1,2 and 7 Level 5's."

Okay, that wasn't one Touma could understand, he was under the impression that any Ability breaks the laws of Science. When he said as much to Kuroyama he nodded.

"Very true, with what we have done with the Power Curriculum Program, any normal person would say that any and all powers generated by the students break the rules of Science and Reality, the very two functions used to create an Esper's Reality; Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Schrodinger's Cat Thought Experiment are things that either prove we're ill equipped to study something or present us with an impossible to solve mechanic that seemingly has no right answer. However, a vast majority of Esper Power's have a fundamental Science that allows it to work."

"Think of it this way," Kazuki's voice drew Touma's attention. "My Ability; [Kinetic Drive] works on the principle of Kinetic Manipulation." He pulled of a plastic arcade token from his pocket and held it between his right index finger and thumb. "I lay my manipulated Reality over the token causing it to vibrate" he did so and the token started shaking in a manner not possible without machines. "In this state I can further manipulate it to vibrate hard enough to cut through metal, and just recently I've actual been able to overcome plastic integrity."

"And what happens to the token then?" Touma asked in curiosity.

"You saw it in a alley earlier, once some-thing's structural integrity is exceeded by my Ability, it glows red and explodes," Kazuki grinned.

"The red flash that took out that guys fireball," Touma spoke in realisation.

"Yep, but back to the topic. Despite the fact that every Esper Power in the City is on it's base value impossible, Science still dictates the mechanics in how we develop our Ability's." Kazuki finished explaining.

"What we study here are the few Abilities that exceed known science. Powers that should not be possible by any means." Kuroyama picked up.

"There are Power's like that?" Touma couldn't believe it.

"Indeed, take for instance the current Number 2 Level 5 [Dark Matter.] His power allows him to create over twenty thousand forms of energy, a portion of which do not exist in the world. So how then is he able to create a formula and calculation to bring into existence something that even he himself is not aware exists?" The question had Touma stumped.

Truth be told he was a little rattled knowing someone had that type of power. Not much was really known about the Level 5, he had heard that two of them were elementary schoolers, whether it was true or not he never really thought about, but the rest he had no clue about.

"Anyway, the reason I am telling you this is that your Power, [Imagine Breaker,] clearly fits both category's. It's an Abnormality due to the fact that while not registering as a power you managed to vaporise a Level 3 Pyrokinetic's fireball, and it's a Exception because it doesn't seem that there is any Science behind your Ability's function." explained Kuroyama. "As a Scientist I am very intrigued by this Power and want to study it, as such, you will be paid accordingly." He was silent a few moments. "I think a Level 2 stipend will be a good starting point."

As the words left the older man's mouth Touma felt like crying. A Level 0's stipend was generally enough to live on if one was frugal, but Touma's bad luck made all the money he gets vanish into thin air. He didn't remember how many times he had to ask his parents for extra money because something bad happened. A Level 2 stipend was a godsend, and it was at that moment Touma realised how sad his life was.

"I'll do it!" and so he agreed. Regardless, as a Student this should be his 'job' as most other's got their earning for the time they spend having tests done so in the end Touma felt like whatever the testing entailed, it was something that everyone else did.

-ACRD-

Academy City had many sites that would cause ordinary people to question their existence. But the denizens of the City were far used to everything, after all weird was the norm in the City of Science. So it wasn't much surprise that no-one living in or going through School District 7 paid attention to why there existed a windowless building. Flat symmetrical walls over a hundred metres tall and glowing a ethereal purple. People also probably don't notice that not only is it in the exact centre of School District 7, but it so happens to be at the centre of Academy City as a whole. The building however, housed what probably amounted to the most impotent person in Academy City.

In to top-most floor, a room bathed in an amber light sat. The ceiling was filled with wires and machinery of varying types and unknown purposes. In the centre of the room was a cylindrical shaped structure that seemed to be made of glass, and in the tube of red liquid not unlike embryonic fluid floated a figure. They looked like an adult, but also a child, their feature's were that of both a man and a woman. Wearing a green hospital gown and sliver hair that seemed to be defying the fact the figure was floating upside down. Their eyelids fluttered open, revealing sea green almost dead looking eyes as a screen opened up in front of them.

"I was wondering when you were going to contact me Shuusuke," the voice seemed to phase into existence, smooth but definitely male, despite the figure's mouth not opening.

"What is it you always say? 'Nothing happens in this City I don't know about?'" Kuroyama asked raising an eyebrow. "Anyway, I figured you would know about the boy's power so I thought it'd be prudent to ask if I can study it?"

The figure was silent a moment, before the voice materialised again.

"...And what is it you hope to achieve with studying the [Imagine Breaker?]" the man asked.

"I'm hoping it might allow me to make some headway with the Level 5 studies" Kuroyama explained. "Maybe also shed some light as to why we have so many Level 0's in comparison to any other Level."

Indeed a baffling question.

"...Very well, but be mindful, that boy is someone of consequence." the voice was still flat and inflectionless, but Kuroyama heard the warning all to well.

"I'll be careful" the Professor nodded and the screen he was on vanished.

Silence befell the room before a lifeless chuckle reverberated through the still air.

"Interesting," Aleister Crowley, the General Superintendent of Academy City, thought. The small speck of amusement he felt not heard in his voice or seen on his face. "I had wondered if the boy would attract the attention of any of my Board of Directors, but Shuusuke Kuroyama?" if anybody had been in the room of the man that ran Academy City they would have felt a dark pressure like no other. "I look forward to seeing what you will do under his care [Imagine Breaker.]"

-ACRD-

Shuusuke sat at his desk, staring balefully at the remains of a snapped pen gripped tightly in his left hand, blue ink splattered lightly on the desk.

"Every time." He took a deep breath, the tension ebbing away as he tossed the pen remains into a nearby trash-can before going to a sink in the lab, washing the ink off his hand.

He had not long returned from dropping Touma off back at his dorm before returning to report his decision to his direct superior. Aleister Crowley was a man that all the Board Members feared on a primal level. For some it was they way he looked, for others it was the eeriness of the fact that one had to talk to the man while he was upside down in a vat of who knows what. But Shuusuke, he feared the way the man seemed to be like the dead emotionless doll he so happened to resemble. He also hated the fact that he cared little for those around him. To find out that the young lad he met earlier that night was someone that could evoke a warning from a man who otherwise barely acknowledged anyone was something that didn't set well with the old man. Whatever the reason, Shuusuke knew he probably won't find out, either way he had some work to do. Some preliminary Ability tests for Touma tomorrow, something light and easy for the boy's first day at real testing.

"Maybe also an upgrade to his status," Kuroyama thought aloud.

Not all the dormitory's level restrictive, in fact there was one such place not far from the lab, the thing is a Level 0 wouldn't be able to pay the rent. The dormitory that Touma was in right now catered for Level 0's. While by no means unliveable it was essentially two rooms, A single large room that served as the living room, kitchen and bedroom and a bathroom.

Regardless there were still things to do before that. Sitting at the computer in his office, he began typing up a list of basic procedures, his conversation with the General Superintendent aside, he was really looking forward to studying Touma's Ability.

-ACRD-

The next day, Touma had to conclude, was unusual. While the morning went through in a normal fashion. After school finished however was where the difference started. Making his way to Kuroyama's Laboratory, the scientist had him submit to a few different blood exams before running him though a brief A.I.M scanner. An Involuntary Movement Diffusion Field was a subtle 'aura' Esper's gave off that was a by-product caused by their unique Personal Realities, a constant yet unconscious effect on the world around them. Needless to say, Touma didn't have one and that in and of itself was enough for Kuroyama to be shocked. While it's true his results came back marking him as a Level 0 he still should have an A.I.M Diffusion Field just from undergoing the Power Curriculum Program. The Professor then had Touma test his negation on Kazuki.

"So as it stands, if you have a hold of an Esper their powers are nullified." Kuroyama read from a tablet. "Moreover, you totally negate his arcade token's Kinetic charge, rendering it harmless. however, while you remove the Kinetic concussive force from his staff strike, the staff still causes damage to you equal to how hard Kazuki struck due to the staff itself not being an Ability."

"Though, as scrappy as a fighter you are, you still kinda suck," Kazuki commented as Touma rubbed his ribs, the place Kazuki had struck.

"Can't argue there," Touma muttered.

"Hey, wanna add that to what you do here?" Kazuki asked suddenly.

From the side, Kuroyama rose an eyebrow.

"What, learn how to use that thing?" Touma asked motioning to the staff.

"I was thinking fighting in general, but I can teach you how to fight with a staff if you want," shrugged Kazuki.

"Well, knowing my luck, it's probably gonna come in handy" Touma sighed before turning to Kuroyama. "That okay Doc?"

"It's fine." Kuroyama waved the question away. "Considering the way your Ability works I think that studying it in action as you fight might be more beneficial."

It wasn't long until the Professor called it a day, saying Kazuki could leave as well. The two boys headed out of the lab when Touma decided to ask something that had been on his mind since yesterday.

"By the way, what was all that yesterday with the Pyrokinetic?" His question caused Kazuki to raise an eyebrow before sighing.

"Not exactly sure how to explain," the grey eyed boy began. "You see, when it comes to the leadership of Academy City, most of the Board of Directors keep to themselves and their own private dealings." He paused a moment, as if trying to figure out how best to explain. "I'm not sure if you can imagine, but that means there are some pretty hefty stuff that goes on in the City's background." He took a surreptitious look around. "Essentially this background is commonly referred to as the Dark Side of Academy City."

Touma's eyes widened at the rather foreboding term.

"There are a lot of groups that are a part of this Darkness, only a few however exist to stop things from escalating." Taking another look at their surroundings, Kazuki continued. "The Professor on the other hand, he tries to make sure that the Darkness doesn't bleed into the light, shutting down dangerous situations in order to prevent innocent people from being dragged into the Darkness." Touma was having a hard time digesting all of what he was being told.

"What you stumbled upon yesterday, that was an end result of a prior altercation, there were a group of Esper's with ties to some corrupt Military Officials that were selling Military Ordinance to members of a Level 0 terrorist group known as Skill-Out." Kazuki gave a bitter smile. "We fought both sides, the Esper's got away but we got most of Skill-Out."

Touma noticed he didn't sound too proud of it.

"The Pyrokinetic yesterday, he was the leader of the Esper group and as you can probably guess he didn't like the fact we butted in." Kazuki shrugged. "He found out who hired us and tried to take out the Professor directly and that was what you walked in on."

"Seriously, me and my bad luck," Touma moaned out. "Though I guess it could have gone worse."

"No doubt, though I think you could have taken him," Kazuki smirked. "He was one of those idiots that relied solely on his Ability, with your [Imagine Breaker] and fighting skill you probably could have knocked him out."

"Yeah, it's that probably that I'm concerned with," Touma groaned before going silent.

They walked for another five minutes before Touma spoke again.

"That's why you want me to learn how to fight, isn't it." His tone wasn't accusatory, to which Kazuki was thankful for.

"Not gonna lie Kamijou, that hand can help a lotta people, I'm sure you're aware of that." The questioned garnered a nod from the spiky haired boy. "And to be honest, I kinda like the thought of having something as powerful as the [Imagine Breaker] backing me up," Kzuki stopped, causing Touma to as well. "However, it's your decision whether you help us out on that side, 'cause I can't guarantee safety nor can I say you won't see things that would truly sicken you." Kazuki started walking again, Touma following beside the wispy haired boy. "Think about it, take however long you need."

"Alright," Touma nodded. "I'll give it some thought, thanks for being level with me Shikihiro."

"Heh, what are friends for." Kazuki grinned widely, clapping Touma on the shoulder before the two split up.

Touma realised that this was big, he had always assumed there would be bad things in this City, he ran into a lot of thugs and even had a minor encounter with Skill-Out thanks to his need to help people, but he felt that this was a on a whole new level.

'Regardless,' Touma thought, reaching the apartment complex that was his home. 'This is something I need to think about.'

-TO BE CONTINUED-

A/N : And there's chapter one.

I'll be honest and say that it took me a while to actually finish this. Between not being sure if I wanted my OC's to be as prevalent as well as how I wanted the story to be different from the original.

As I said above this is probably my most favourite series and I just got around to watching series 3 recently (which is what got me to get off my arse and finish what I had for this.) I hope that you all enjoy it.

Feel free to review and I'll gladly take any opinions and comments anyone has to offer.

Peace out.

willdraco1987.