The Will to Fight
Chapter 2 - Primitive Iron And The Mind
"I see…" Taiga muttered, looking at Senku's roadmap that led to antibiotics. As he was outside the view of the village, he had let down his hood, revealing his head to the others. "So, we're going to make a sulfa drug? Interesting…"
Senku grinned at him, before frowning. "I know, right? But the problem is getting some of these materials. They'll be 1 billion percent difficult to acquire."
"Yeah…" Taiga muttered again, a hand on his chin, as he thought on how to acquire the ingredients. "Iron, Magnets, Copper, Phosphorus, Alcohol, Vinegar, Acetic Anhydride, Ammonia, Electricity, Salt, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydrogen Sulfate, Sulfuric Acid, Coal, Aniline, Hydrochloric Acid, Chlorosulfonic Acid, and Sodium Bicarbonate. That's… A lot."
"And we'll need a serious thorough class to even understand half of these things." Kohaku said, still staring at the chart.
In response, Taiga eyed the villagers critically, before sighing. "Alright, fine, I'll make a periodic table for you…"
"You can make one?" His cousin blinked in surprise, before realizing why. "Oh yeah. The depetrification gave us eidetic memory, didn't it?"
"Precisely, though we still need to find out why. Now, I just need some graphite or coal to work with…" Taiga mumbled, frowning, as he went over to Chrome's storehouse, where he had left his bag. He soon returned with the leftovers of the unused lion pelt. "I can make do with this, but we'll need something more permanent."
"What are you doing?" Kohaku asked, leaning over Taiga's shoulder as he sat on the ground and began working on the periodic table, after Chrome threw a piece of charcoal to him, at Senku's request. As Taiga wanted to focus, he grabbed a small pebble and chucked it at Senku. It hit the back of the scientist's head, causing him to turn around in irritation from his discussion with Chrome, irritation that soon vanished when he noticed what Taiga wanted of him.
"As he said, a periodic table. It'll 1 billion percent help us gather all this stuff, and it'll also help us teach you about chemistry as well." He explained to Kohaku, before turning back to Chrome. "You'll understand more when he's finished."
"Chemistry?" Unfortunately, Kohaku was left confused by it. Seeing Senku dismissing her ticked her off, and he went to have a few choice words with him, as she knew Taiga needed to focus.
After Kohaku's lecture on ignoring her, Senku set about explaining a few 'basic' stuff to the villagers. Much to Taiga's chagrin, as he wanted in on that, but he needed to focus on the periodic table.
Shaking his head, he began with the Alkaline Metals. Li, Lithium. Na, Natrium, or more commonly, Sodium. K, Kalium, or more commonly, Potassium. Rb, Rubidium. Cs, Caesium. And Fr, Francium.
"Alkaline Earth Metals…" He muttered, and went on to the next column. Be, Beryllium. Mg, Magnesium. Ca, Calcium. Sr, Strontium…. He never understood that name. Anyways. Ba, Barium. And Ra, Radium.
Next up, were the Transition Metals. He made sure to make a little space between the Alkalines and the Transitions, making two small stars for the Lanthanides and Actinides. Sc, Ti, V. Scandium, Titanium, Vanadium.
Cr, Mn, Fe. Chromium, Manganese, and Ferrum, or Iron.
Co, Ni, Cu. Cobalt, Nickel, and Cuprum, or Copper.
Zn, Y, Zr. Zinc, Yttrium, Zirconium.
Nb, Mo, Tc. Niobium, Molybdenum, Technetium. The first completely radioactive element of the table, in terms of atomic number. Francium and Radium were also radioactive.
Ru, Rh, Pd. Ruthenium, Rhodium, Palladium.
Ag, Cd, Lu. Argentum, or Silver, Cadmium, Lutetium.
Hf, Ta, W. Hafnium, Tantalum, and Wolfram, or Tungsten.
Re, Os, Ir. Rhenium, Osmium, Iridium.
Pt, Au, Hg. Platinum, Aurum, or Gold, and Hydrargyrum, or Mercury, commonly known as Quicksilver.
Lr, Rf, Db. Lawrencium, Rutherfordium, Dubnium.
Sg, Bh, Hs. Seaborgium, Bohrium, Hassium.
Mt, Ds, Rg, and Cn. Meitnerium, Darmstadtium, Roentgenium, and Copernicium.
That was it for the metals. Time for the non-metals. Gone from lines, back to columns. B, Boron. Al, Aluminum. Ga, Gallium. In, Indium. Tl, Thallium. And… Okay, that one was even weirder than Strontium. Uut… Oh yeah, that was a placeholder name. They updated it. Nh, Nihonium, former Ununtrium.
Next up, C, Carbon. Si, Silicon. Ge, Germanium. Sn, Stannum, or Tin. Pb, Plumbum, or Lead. Fl, Flerovium.
Finally, the Pnictogens. N, Nitrogen. P, Phosphorus, that was actually the same as the latin name. As, Arsenium. Sb, Stibium, or Antimony. Bi, Bismuth. And Mc, Moscovium, formerly known as Ununpentium.
To the right, the Chalcogens. O, Oxygen. S, Sulfur, again, the same as the latin name. Se, Selenium. Te, Tellurium. Po, Polonium. And Lv, Livermorium.
Then, the Halogens. H, Hydrogen. F, Fluorine. Cl, Chlorine. Br, Bromine. I, Iodine. At, Astatine. Ts, Tennessine, formerly known as Ununseptium. That was a lot of 'ine'.
Up ahead, the Noble Gases. He, Helium. Ne, Neon. Ar, Argon. Kr, Krypton, or the real life Kryptonite. Xe, Xenon. Rn, Radon. And Og, Oganesson, formerly known as Ununocton.
That left the Lanthanides and Actinides. La, Lanthanum. Ce, Cerium. Pr, Praseodymium. Nd, Neodymium. Pm, Promethium. Sm, Samarium. Eu, Europium. Gd, Gadolinium. Tb, Terbium. Dy, Dysprosium. Ho, Holmium. Er, Erbium. Tm, Thulium. Yb, Ytterbium. Ac, Actinium. Th, Thorium. Pa, Protactinium. U, Uranium. Np, Neptunium. Pu, Plutonium. Am, Americium. Cm, Curium. Bk, Berkelium. Cf, Californium. Es, Einsteinium. Fm, Fermium. Md, Mendelevium. And last of all, No, Nobelium.
That was a lot of work. Taiga groaned as he shook his poor, abused hand, before steeling himself. He had more work to do. Specifically, translating Senku's science babble into symbols for Chrome and Kohaku to understand during the class. The alcohol from the drinks was basically Ethanol, or C2H6O. From that, came Vinegar, or Acetic Acid, whose formula was CH3COOH, and from which came Acetic Anhydride, or (CH3CO)2O.
Next up was Ammonia, or NH3. After that was Sodium Hydroxide, coming from mixing Salt, or NaCl, or even Sodium Chloride, with Water, or H2O, to form NaOH, and HCl. The former was Sodium Hydroxide, and the latter was Hydrogen Chloride.
Moving on, came Sulfuric Acid, or H2SO4. From which, came Sodium Bisulfate, from the mixture with NaOH, forming NaHSO4. After that was Hydrochloric Acid, or H2O:HCl. From it came Chlorosulfuric Acid, or HSO3Cl. The last two were Sodium Bicarbonate and Aniline. NaHCO3 and C6H5NH2, respectively.
"You owe me, Senku… You owe me a lot…" Taiga growled, cradling his sore hand and wrist. Writing this much hurt, dammit! And holy shit, did he write. The entire periodic table and the formulae, complete with translations, took over almost all of the pelt, that he stitched back together rather precariously during the last night, before starting to build. "Alright, time to hang it vertically." The tanning racks were good practice for that. Thank fuck he wanted leather to wear. And the petrification for giving eidetic memory and allowing him to remember all those boring chemistry classes.
"Totally awesome!" Chrome hollered, allowing Taiga to follow the sound to a hill a little beyond the wall he built. "The Earth is spinning!? Amazing!"
"Yep~ that's right~" Senku moaned in a pitiful voice, laying on the ground as he climbed over the crest of the hill to see his cousin on the aforementioned position, Chrome eyeing the stars with… stars… on his eyes, and Kohaku standing on a tree's branch. "Isn't this enough? If only Taiga were here~"
"Yo, Senku. Chrome. Kohaku." Taiga greeted them, frowning, and shaking his hand to get rid of phantom pain. "So, Senku told you about the Earth's rotation?"
"Yeah, and it's really weird." Kohaku replied. "If the Earth's moving, I should have been thrown off this branch by now. But I'm not. Can you explain that?"
"Oh, that's because of gravity." The lionskin-wearing Old Worlder smiled, climbing the tree to stand next to Kohaku, before walking to the tip of the branch. "Ever wonder why you fall down whenever you jump off something?"
"Not really." Kohaku tilted her head, not seeing where Taiga was going with it. "What does that have to do with 'gravity'?"
Taiga grinned at her, before jumping off the tree and landing on his feet. "You see, gravity is what makes us fall. This force attracts us to the Earth, allowing us to keep our feet while it rotates at ridiculously fast speeds, and we don't feel it at all. It's a bit more complicated than that, but you haven't reached that level of understanding yet."
Kohaku and Chrome clearly wanted to know more, but seeing as their knowledge and understanding weren't up to Taiga's and Senku's standards, they relented. After all, Taiga dumbed things down for them to understand Senku's science babble. Shaking his head, Chrome looked over to Senku. "Hey, I've always thought it to be strange about that unmoving star. Can you explain it?"
"Oh, that bright one?" He pointed at said star, and Taiga frowned upon seeing it had been dislocated a bit from the rest of the stars, along with the ones that composed the Ursa Major constellation. Not much, but just enough for it to be noticeable. "That's the North Star. Or Polaris if you want the actual name. It's one billion percent likely to show you the true north, so don't you forget it. It's hella useful."
"Is that how it is?" Chrome asked in response, crouching down next to a water basin Taiga had overlooked, as Senku got up from the ground, having rested enough.
Kohaku looked at the basin for a few seconds, before turning her head back to Polaris, narrowing her eyes a little in confusion. "True north seems slightly off, if you ask me…"
"But that's not possible. The margin of error is…" Senku replied, before trailing off, a look of realization on his face. "Wait…"
"Yeah." Taiga added, scratching the back of his head. "I've noticed that Ursa Major has dislocated a bit, I think your guess is spot on, cousin."
"Man, so the Earth's axis has really tilted, huh?" Senku spoke up, acknowledging Taiga's words, looking up at Polaris. "Little by little, over the course of 3,700 years, the Earth shifted entirely. Now, in the year 5739, Polaris and Ursa Major have moved."
"3,700 years…" Taiga muttered after listening to Senku, crossing his arms and leaning against Kohaku's tree. "It's been a long time."
"Yeah, it has." Senku replied, crossing his arms as well, still looking up at the sky. "At least now I have an explanation to why my navigation was so off. I was operating on the basis that the skies were still the same as back in the Old World." He blinked, as he suddenly realized something. "Wait, how did you know that Polaris has shifted?"
That was a valid point, one that made Taiga look over at the water basin. "Oh, a magnet?"
Chrome, who was on the middle of starting a speech about something he knew, instantly deflated. "You already know about it!"
Senku picked up the magnet with an excited look on his face, smiling widely.
"Well, well, well, Chrome. You're definitely a busy man. Now we've taken the first step to the sulfa drug. With this…"
"...We can get iron!"
The resident scientist, wearing nothing but a kilt, triumphantly declared, holding up a large natural magnet containing a few big spikes of iron sand. "Isn't it thrilling?!"
"Nice one, Chrome. Without you, we would have taken way more time than this to get started." Taiga complimented the Stone Worlder, who blushed in embarrassment.
"Wow, just by passing it near the riverbed, this black sand clings to it…!" Kohaku wondered in amazement, gazing at the iron sand she had collected. Smiling widely, she rushed along the river, leaning down to collect more and more iron sand, Taiga keeping up with her.
On the side, Senku and Chrome took the opportunity to laze around. "This lioness is amazing. Are all people on your village like that?"
Senku asked, before Chrome replied easily. "There are a few gorillas with superhuman strength, but Kohaku is the only nimble gorilla."
Unfortunately for them, Kohaku heard that. "I already said I'm not a gorilla!"
Taiga chuckled in mirth, before adopting a more serious expression as he remembered something. He threw his magnet to Senku, before getting out of the river, walking to his clothes as he stretched. "You guys keep gathering iron sand. I'll do my own stuff."
"Taiga!? Where are you going?" Chrome exclaimed in confusion, but Taiga merely smiled as he left, draping his cape over his shoulders. "Wait!"
"Calm down, you two. It's not like the Tiger's abandoning us." Senku said, stopping them, and watching Taiga leave with a mysterious expression on his face. "He has his own things to do, that's it."
"What things?" Kohaku asked, narrowing her eyes at Senku. Taiga was actually better company than the two men who always seemed to insult her in genuine confusion and make evil faces while plotting. The fact that he was going to leave her with these two struck a small nerve with her.
"Hell if I know." The Old Worlder replied. "If I were to guess, he's gonna hunt more animals to make parchment."
"Parchment?" Chrome piped up, curious. Senku grinned at that.
"Something in which he can write better. The lion pelt leather was good as placeholder, because animal skin is the basis for both leather and parchment, but," He paused briefly to glance at the direction Taiga went, before continuing. "Parchment is better overall. Too bad we can't make paper…"
"Write?" This time, it was Kohaku's time to ask a question. While Senku wasn't one to turn down a lesson, he was getting annoyed. He wanted his iron, dammit!
"Put our spoken words out for everyone to see. Instead of hearing, you can see the words if they're written." He lectured, not bothering to hide his annoyance. "It's easier to communicate as well, since people can forget more easily through mouth-to-mouth communication."
"So that's what Taiga's doing now?" Chrome wondered, also looking at the direction the Old Worlder went.
Senku merely shrugged. "Like I said, hell if I know. Tiger's got his secrets, just like I got mine."
Okay, when would these damned questions stop!? "Wait, is that a melon?"
Taiga chuckled as he knew the two would be pestering Senku back at the river. Shaking his head, he returned to what he was doing. Practicing stealth. It had always been one of his strong points back in the Old World, and it seemed it continued to be in this Stone World. But, honestly… The villagers could really work in their awareness of their surroundings. Come on, how long would it be before they noticed him sitting right next to Kinro and Ginro!?
"Hey, Kinro?" Huh? Ginro was attempting to talk with Kinro now. That could be useful. "What do you think about the new guys, Senku and Taiga?"
Kinrou grunted, before relenting. "They are… Interesting."
"Define 'interesting'." The younger brother inquired, turning to look at the older. As Kinro pondered on his question, he noticed Taiga, but neither did nor say anything, thanks in part to the shushing motion the Old Worlder did, and part to the fact this was a good opportunity to prank Kinro a little.
"Well, Senku seems to hold a large amount of information on his mind, despite his physical weakness." KInro began, changing his spear from one hand to the other. "Taiga, on the other hand, holds considerable physical strength, stamina, and skill with his hands. Not to say that his intellect rivals Senku's. Overall, Taiga seems to be the most dangerous, yet the more understanding of the two."
"I see…" Ginro mused. "I wonder how they would react to your words, Kinrou."
"Well, I don't know about Senku, but I'm flattered that you think of me as the most dangerous of the bunch." Taiga suddenly spoke, startling Kinro as the younger brother snickered.
"What the… Since when were you here!?" He exclaimed in shock, pointing his spear at the lionskin-wearing young man.
Taiga merely smirked, before getting up and dusting his clothes. "Quite a while. You two really need to work on your awareness of your surroundings." He replied. "Ginro only noticed when he looked directly at me, and you only noticed when I spoke up."
Kinro merely growled in embarrassment, before looking away, straining his eyes. Taiga blinked, before smiling in understanding. "Ah, I see. Your vision isn't that good, is it?"
The older brother rounded up on the Tiger, speartip pressed tightly on his throat. "Don't tell anyone." He threatened, despite Ginro's frantic gesturing for him to calm down.
Taiga's smile didn't vanish. On the contrary, it became sympathetic. "Don't worry." He spoke, using a soft tone to calm Kinro down. "Your secret is safe with me."
"It better be." Kinro grunted, hesitantly taking the speartip away from Taiga's throat. The aforementioned person kept smiling, before leaving, waving at the two brothers.
A few moments later, Taiga was again in company of Senku, Kohaku and Chrome, watching them try to enter the village for Senku to talk with Ruri for whatever reason. He sighed. Honestly, sometimes he felt as the only sane man there. "The dawn of the Kingdom of Science. This iron stuff!" Someone yelled, probably Chrome, as they walked away to work with the iron sand.
"This black sand we gathered at the river, will turn into "iron"?" A small girl asked, earning Taiga's attention. He blinked, noticing her wearing a melon rind that covered her face.
"Who are you?" He asked, startling the girl.
"That's Suika." Kohaku said, coming up to Taiga's side. "She's been helping us."
He gained a look of understanding, before nodding. "Oh, okay." He said, leaning down to pat Suika's head briefly, before straightening himself back again. "Nice to meet you, Suika. I'm Taiga."
"Ti...ger?" She asked innocently, trying to look up inside Taiga's hood, and the young man chuckled.
"Tai-ga." He stressed out the syllables, and Suika nodded enthusiastically, understanding him.
"Heh." Senku watched the interaction between Taiga and Suika, before deciding to finally reply to Suika's question. "To answer your question Suika, yeah. It will. You just need to mix 4 parts of iron sand and 1 part of charcoal and we got our iron."
"Wow, it's so simple!" Chrome said, looking at the small contraption Senku built to measure the parts while Taiga and Suika were exchanging introductions.
"Kukuku, don't be so naive." Senku said, chuckling. "This is way different from baking our clay pots. The wood, when burning, reaches up to the temperature of 700 degrees Celsius at best."
"For iron, we need a temperature of 1500 degrees." Taiga finished, crossing his arms, a grim expression on his face.
"So, what we have is not nearly enough, then. What do we need to do?" Kohaku asked, a drop of sweat rolling down her face.
They all looked to Senku, who built the tension up before he said something, as if he was going to reply with something incredible. "Blow like crazy."
And just like that, the atmosphere deflated. Taiga deadpanned at his cousin, while Kohaku, Chrome and Suika looked on in confusion.
As Taiga stalked a herd of Sika deer, he couldn't help but smile wryly at Suika offering to spy around in the village for people that might help them after their failure. He always had a soft spot for kids, and Suika just made him smile, with her earnest attempts to prove herself useful. Shaking his head, he tightened his grip on the knives he carved after Senku showed him how, and took a deep breath as prepared to throw them at a few of the deer.
It was an unusual gathering of buck-less female deer, but hey, he wasn't questioning it. Emerging from his cover, he swiftly threw the knives, striking two deer in the back of their heads successfully. Unfortunately, he missed his other two targets, causing the herd to book it and run. Clicking his tongue, Taiga recovered his knives first, before hoisting the dead deer on his shoulders and walking back to the village.
"It's getting at its apex. I should better return ASAP." He said, looking up at the midday sun. He smirked as he focused on the feeling of the dead deer on his back. Honestly, he was thankful for his fascination with animals, that made him research as much as he could about them. From that, came architecture, as he wanted to build a small house for his dog back in the old world, and this knowledge allowed him to build the house he made for himself and Senku that night.
Of course, since he had an animal he had to take care of, medicine came next, followed by chemistry and biology, since the three were interconnected. After that, he went to research about different foods, and it all snowballed to him learning how to survive with no technology. It was a pain in the ass to learn all those things, but hey, what can you do?
It took a while to see the village again, and he smirked once more as he saw the bigger clearing that resulted from him chopping down the trees. Speaking of the village… "Hey, Kohaku! Can you help me with these deer!?"
"You're back!" She noted, smiling at the corpses hanging from his shoulders. "And looks like you came with results. Sure thing, just give me one of them!"
After they cleaned the deer and separated the food from the pelt, Taiga noticed Senku talking to Suika about something, before shrugging. He probably had a new plan about something, and he'd let the current mad scientist do his stuff. If necessary, he'd help, but mad scientists work better when left alone. "Hey, Taiga." Kohaku spoke, as they finished putting the already cut meat on the shells of the turtles Taiga had hunted. "How do you know so much about animals?"
"Same reason Senku knows all his scientific stuff." He grunted, stretching his back and letting out a relieved sigh as he felt a few pops. "We worked ourselves to the bone studying all we could put our hands on."
"That-" Kohaku paused, blinked, and continued slowly. "That sounds like a lot of work."
Taiga snickered at the understatement. "Understatement of the last four millennia, including this one. I am currently nineteen years old, and I started researching when I was nine. Ten years of work, and I will never be able to know everything I could have." The atmosphere turned gloomy at that moment, as Taiga's expression soured.
"Taiga…?" Kohaku frowned in concern, looking at the strange expression on her recent friend's face, as he had lowered his hood.
He waved her away. "Sorry Kohaku, but… It's just too fresh of a wound y'know." Averting his gaze to the sky, he let out a sad smile. "I mean, everyone I knew is probably dead. I'll never see them again. And all I can do is keep moving forward. Advancing towards the future. Even if…" His voice cracked, as he stubbornly upheld his tears. "Even if I have to leave my past behind…"
He was interrupted by a hug from Kohaku. "It's okay, Taiga. After all, you have us, your friends, haven't you?"
He smiled weakly. "Yeah…"
"And, don't forget what you and Senku did." She continued, smiling at him. "You gave me hope. Hope that Ruri will be cured. So, for that, I am thankful."
He chuckled, furiously wiping his eyes with his non-petrified arm. "No problem. Now c'mon, let's get this meat and pelts to Senku."
To say Taiga was weary, it was an understatement. After Senku had his new idea, he coerced him to help the group collect green foxtail and make flour with them. At that point, Taiga had enough, and kicked them away before proceeding to use the flour to make dough, before following Senku's prompt to make ramen with the deer, fish and turtle meat he had collected.
It wasn't anything five-star, but it was good enough for Taiga's cooking skills. Thank fuck for his mother teaching him how to cook in order to impress Hikari. The thought of his former girlfriend soured his mood for the second time that day, but he banished these thoughts away, deciding to focus on the present.
And in the present, he was busy making more ramen for Senku and Chrome's stall, byproduct of their plan to get more manpower. For the sake of his current work, he had taken off his coat and hood, wearing only his pants and shirt, revealing his face to the world. Admittedly, he only made a hooded coat because he wanted to be able to cover his head in the case of light rain, and because he thought it would look cool.
So, it was quite understandable, based off Kohaku's comment a while back, that he attracted the resident girls of the village, who swooned as they watched him cook the food. In the distance, Kohaku's eye twitched involuntarily, causing her to look around in confusion. Of course, while this happened, Senku rolled around in the ground, laughing his ass off at Taiga's (mis)fortune.
"Hello there!" A blonde girl with blue eyes spoke sweetly to him, and he gave her a slightly strained smile in return. "I'm Sapphire! What's your name, handsome?"
"Nice to meet you, Sapphire." Taiga replied, briefly shooting Senku a dirty look. "I'm Taiga."
Sapphire blinked, not sure if she heard him correctly. "Tiger?" She tried, only to get an amused chuckle from Taiga and blush.
"No, it's Taiga." He stressed the pronunciation, and Sapphire widened her eyes in understanding, before regaining her smile, as Taiga continued to cook Senku's ramen.
"So, Taiga… Where do you come from?" She tried continuing the conversation, noticing that Taiga seemed uncomfortable with her proximity.
He smiled at the new subject, before offering a bowl to her. "Here. Dig in." She blinked, before accepting it with a smile, and moaning in pleasure at the taste, that seemed to be divine for her and the other villagers. "To answer your question, Sapphire-san, I'm from…"
He looked around, noticing Mt. Fuji up north, before pointing northeast. "That direction, over the mountains. I lived there all my life, until recently."
"Are there other people there?" Sapphire asked, her curiosity peaking. Taiga frowned, but decided to answer as truthfully as he could.
"I only know of three people, and that's only from what Senku told me." He said, giving a certain glutton his fifth bowl of ramen. "There may be more, I don't know."
Sapphire hummed in response, and had opened her mouth, about to reply, when an unfamiliar voice rang out. "I want to drink something too~ Like cola or something."
"Cola?" Senku muttered in disbelief, eyes wide with surprise.
"Senku, is that an ally of yours?" Kohaku asked, narrowing her eyes. Taiga silently handed the metaphorical reins to Chrome, who accepted it easily, having heard the exchange.
"No." The reply was short. No need to stall the obvious.
"Kinrou, Ginrou. Let's take a break from our quarreling." Kohaku then said without hesitation, lowering her body and sliding her hands down her legs. Silently making his way to them, Taiga stretched his muscles, snatching the dagger he had Senku make from its leathery sheath.
"Why are you both…" Kinrou began, but Kohaku interrupted him.
"No time to explain. There's an enemy." There was a beat, and then… Action.
The end result was the intruder held at dagger, knife and spear-point by the four fighters around the boulder they had been 'hiding' behind. The 'customers' of the ramen stand were startled by the speed the four had acted, Sapphire almost dropping her bowl. Taiga glanced at the person. A male young man around his and Senku's ages, with reparted white an black hair, the white section being long than the black, baggy black eyes, and a jagged stone mark from his left eye down to his chin, in a weird angled line.
"Answer me truthfully! Otherwise I'll slit your throat where you stand!" Kohaku exclaimed, the four hardening their gazes. "Are you one of the long-haired man's subordinates, you bastard?!"
"It's on your best interest not to lie, otherwise, I'll drag out your death painfully." Taiga spoke in a dull tone, looking down on the intruder with a blank expression.
"Oh, dear... As lovely as being tied up by such a cutie sounds, Haven't you perhaps mistaken me for someone else?" He spoke in a sweet tone, which only caused Taiga to narrow his eyes and dig his dagger further on his throat, drawing blood. The intruder's voice lowered to a squeak. "Please don't kill me?"
Kohaku narrowed her eyes, before shooting Taiga a look. "Ease up a bit, we need him to be able to properly speak."
He took a deep breath, before retaking his sweet smile and tone. "I know nothing about any long-haired man. Since escaping my petrification, I've been alone all this time, you know...?"
Senku rose an eyebrow. "I thought your face looked familiar. Are you Asagiri Gen?"
"Do you know him!?" Kohaku demanded, looking at Senku.
"No, not a single bit." Senku denied, resting his hands on his waist as he narrowed his eyes at Gen. "He's some magician who wrote trashy psychology books."
"Have you read them? I'm sooo happy~ But calling them trashy is cruel~" Gen whined, pouting. "Please call me a "Mentalist"."
"Wait, I apologize for so feely eating some of your ramen." He continued, still with that innocent look. "So can't you lower these weapons for me? I'm already so scared, I'm trembling. I wouldn't want to spill this precious ramen, right?"
"G-G-Give it to me!" Ginrou jumped at the opening, a hungry look as he took the bowl from Gen. "I'll take it for you!"
Taiga and Kohaku shared a look. The man was obviously lying. Kohaku noted that he wasn't even frightened, even if he was wary of Taiga now. Not that she could blame him. The guy could make anyone wary of him. 'Spinning lies… Without the slightest hesitation!'
"As I was once again searching for food alone today," Gen kept talking, speaking his honeyed words. "I suddenly encountered the nostalgic scent of ramen, and grew weak in the knees!"
Senku kept silent as he looked at Gen, Taiga ready to act in a moment's notice. Only when Senku smirked, did he relax. "Kukuku… Well, I'll accept what you say for now. Anyway, there's no such thing as free lunch. Everyone who ate the ramen! I've got work for you."
Taiga looked around. That meant Ginrou, Gen, Sapphire, Ruby, Ganen, Shovel, and Kujaku. Thankfully, Kohaku had told him and Senku about all the people she knew by name, and pointed them out, which allowed him to recognise them now. He smirked lightly as he looked at the innocent-looking Gen. Poor mentalist, not knowing what was expecting him.
Well, he also pitied the others. Gen was the only one to have earned his enmity, as small as it was.
The six kept pumping air with the new system at the Iron Forge, causing Taiga to wince at the speed they were doing it, as he tugged on the hem of his hood, that he had put back on with his coat. "I know it's necessary to get iron, but… Wow. That's a lot." Ginrou had only been spared because he was one of the guards.
Senku chuckled. "Yup, it is. But soon we'll get iron, and then we'll be able to make much better things!" His expression turned into his "mad scientist" mode. "This is exhilarating!"
"Scary face, Senku. Scary face." Taiga deadpanned, staring at his cousin with a half-lidded gaze.
All he got for a response was a dismissive wave, causing his eyebrow to twitch, before he calmed himself down. It wasn't worth it. "This remodeling has given our air-pumping ability a power-up!" Chrome declared, all excited. "This is Iron Factory, Level 2!"
"With this, and the shift system…" Kohaku began, smiling widely. "Looks like we can do it!"
"Asagiri Gen." Senku said, standing behind said person. "Are Taiju and Yuzuriha doing well?"
Gen paused in his yelling, before sighing with a sly smile, still pumping air into the forge. "Ah~ So that's how it is. For you to frantically challenge me with that kind of trick, it's very brave of you. Are you really going to challenge a mentalist?"
Senku kept silent, and Gen took that as his cue to keep talking. "But rest assured. 'Cause they're extremely well. Especially Taiju-chan with that bottomless stamina of his! You know what I mean? Sen-Ku-Chan~" Gen's smile turned downright malicious at this moment, and the only thing that stopped Taiga from acting was his thinking of why would Gen just plain reveal his alliance.
"He has to be that long-haired man's lackey!" Kohaku exclaimed, grabbing her weapon. Taiga, noticing that, placed a hand on her shoulder to stop her, narrowing his eyes at Gen. "Taiga?"
"Listen to Taiga. He's one billion percent reliable." Senku told her, before returning his attention to Gen. "Asagiri Gen, you one billion percent saw through my trick. But why have suddenly decided to admit you're Tsukasa's ally?"
"Because the situation changed when I saw this." Their gazes went to the forge, and comprehension slowly dawned on them.
"I see…" Taiga smirked. "You saw the possibility of the return to the modern times, didn't you?"
Gen merely grinned in return.
"To be honest, I thought it'd be Tsukasa Empire's victory, without doubt." Gen commented, watching as Senku put the molten iron in a mold. Taiga snorted. He was currently crossing his arms, leaning against a tree behind Gen.
"Obviously." He retorted, smirking. "After all, Tsukasa doesn't know about me, and from what Senku told me, he thinks that he's dead. After all, you probably came to confirm Senku's death or survival, right?"
"Yep. I'd just need to go back and say: 'Tsukasa, Senku's alive!', and that'd be the end of that. That's what I'd intended to do, anyway." Gen replied, smirking at Senku's work.
Taiga merely chose to look at the curious villagers, as Kohaku and Chrome explained to them what Senku was doing and why they asked for their help for the job. Ganen didn't get much, but he understood enough that he rationalized the fact that he would possibly taste different kinds of food later on. The others were more ahead of him, what with Chrome and Kohaku knowing how to explain things and dumb them down, thanks to Taiga helping them with that.
But, one thing went unsaid, and Taiga heard it loud and clear. 'However, if you somehow manage to make iron weapons, the outcome is uncertain…'. "All I have to do is make a false report: 'It was only some primitive village. Senku's dead.'. With that, I can save Senku-chan over there."
"Kukuku, if you did that for me, I would actually be quite grateful." Senku stated, having left his protective coat behind, spinning his arm from the shoulder down to work out any kinks.
"I have noooo policy whatsoever." Gen began, after smirking at Senku. He raised his arms, assuming a faux-innocent expression. "I'm the best smooth-talker in the world! As long as I can live having a good time with cuties, I'm happy! Whether Tsukasa dies, or Senku-chan dies, I don't give a damn!"
He paused, and assumed a menacing expression, his stone mark resembling a fanged maw. "No matter who I have to betray, I'll back the winning horse." As soon as he said that, he crossed his arms, and abandoned the menacing expression. "I'm considering it~ Shall I betray Tsukasa and become Senku-chan's ally!? In the battle of the Tsukasa Empire versus the Kingdom of Science, who will be the victor~?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Taiga stated, smirking as he walked up to Senku's side, looking at Gen from over his shoulder.
"Exactly." Senku declared. "It's one billion percent decided. The Kingdom of Science will be the winner!"
"Whooa!" Chrome shouted, as Kohaku and Suika celebrated. "Finally…! Finally, we have iron!"
"Behold, Asagiri Gen!" Taiga said, hardening his gaze as he gestured at everything around them. "We have taken a village of primitive humans who had no knowledge of science, and are in the process of transforming it into our Kingdom's capital!"
He lowered his hand, and held it at Gen. "Will you become part of it? Will you abandon the modern times? The choice is yours. But, what will it be?"
Gen looked stunned at Taiga's words for a few moments, before closing his eyes. "So that's how it is." He smirked. "Alright, you have my answer."
Hello, SoulMatter here! Wow, I'm honestly amazed at how many people are following this fic! Thank you all for the favorites, follows, and reviews! This is officially my most popular fic of the two I'm publishing, and even the most popular Dr. Stone fanfiction! Thank you, seriously.
I apologize for taking so long to write this, but once I got all caught up with the manga, I sorta lost my muse, and only updated the writing bit by bit. Gen's introduction was honestly my favorite part, and I hope you like the formulas and elements up in the beggining. See ya next time! Happy Holidays for y'all! Peace Out!