"Starting Down this One Way Road from Zero"


He walked down the silent, dark, city streets on his own; the large buildings looming over him like ancient sentinels, measuring his every move. What for? He didn't really care. Hands in his pockets, he mentally calculated how much money he would need for his purchase, which he had a good idea of how much it would cost him, but he needed to distract himself somehow.

After the incident earlier this week, the experiment has been canceled indefinitely…

He ignored the desire to rub the throbbing vein on his forehead and kept walking as if nothing was wrong.

Why?

He was the most powerful esper in Academy City, yet a level zero, someone with genuinely no power, bested him in a fight? No, the bastard had some kind of impossible ability, something he had never seen before and something he could not exactly explain. Surviving a dust explosion? Lucky, perhaps, and he had intended it to frighten him, not so much kill him. But every single time he tried to grab him and pop him like a grape, his ability just failed to function, to the point the mysterious boy had slapped- slapped one of his attacks away like nothing! That was simply not possible to explain with conventional science.

The ability to cancel out abilities… How the hell did that even work?

If there was anything remotely positive that came out of it was that he didn't have to see those dead-eyed dolls anymore… right? Realizing that he was going back to thinking about the exact thing he had been trying to avoid thinking about, he moved his thoughts back to calculating the amount of coffee he wanted, walking down the adequately lit street, his destination coming up ahead. After all, the convenience store was right there, open and bright, in contrast with most of the surrounding area which was dark and closed off, as if no one was expected to be out.

Granted, it was almost the middle of the night, and way past curfew, not that it applied to him.

Once inside he almost immediately moved to the refrigerated section and began to sift through the drinks in the store, zeroing in on his preferred brand of coffee. As his fingers went and touched the individual cans, looking for the section of the store that had them in bulk, a realization hit him.

Something's off…

What exactly the "something" was, he didn't know, and if he didn't know what the "something" was, then he damn well couldn't do anything about it, now could he?

He found a six-pack of his favorite brand, picked it up, and looked around him.

Nothing…

He shrugged away the feeling and moved to the checkout counter.

The nervous cashier quickly took the money and gave him a receipt, all without even making eye contact. The teenager ignored the minuscule urge to roll his eyes, both accustomed and somewhat distraught by his partly self-inflicted isolation. On the one hand, he enjoyed the silence, the peace that being alone brought with it, but at the same time, it was lonely at the top and, in glaring contrast, being the most powerful esper in Academy City brought unwanted attention, something the last experiment he had partaken in was supposed to fix.

As the gang of thugs waiting for him just outside of the store proved, it had failed.

Knives, bats, random assortments of what might have once been a tire iron or pipe…

Morons…

His lips parted slightly as he let out a soft sigh, knowing what was coming.

Eighteen broken bones later, he was moving away from the pile of unconscious morons, his mind inadvertently moving back to what he was now considering the worst mistake in his entire life.

Had he been so wrong in partaking in such an experiment?

Yes, his somehow not dead conscious screamed at him; the image of the same girl dying by his hand over and over again etched into his memory. It hadn't been fair; not even by the 10,000th clone had the poor girls been able to pose anything resembling a challenge to him. Oh, number 10,032 had managed to try something new, but it was ultimately useless. Perhaps if he hadn't noticed her little plan to turn the oxygen around him into carbon monoxide he might have been in danger, but he wouldn't be the #1 Esper in Academy City if he couldn't tell when the air around him changed composition.

She never stood a chance and if not for that spiky-haired idiot and the Original working together…

No, all they did was succeed in making the puppets realize they were alive.

He had been killing human beings, girls who weren't even old enough to drive, and the only retribution they would get was that he was back to square 1, exactly where he didn't want to be, making all those murders for nothing.

Other than that, there really wouldn't be any justice for them.

But a part of him wondered if there was something else he could do.

Turn himself in? Disappear? No, he still valued his life a little, and why would he give the benefit to the people out to steal his position away, anyway?

At least he had his rank.

Something a certain spiky-haired boy had challenged.

He kept walking down the street, thinking about something he genuinely didn't want to think about but forced himself to think of it anyway.

He stopped in between a pair of buildings.

Someone was watching him.

Years of constant attacks had trained him to be ready for anything.

He turned around.

Nothing.

He looked at the windows of the surrounding buildings.

Nothing.

He glanced at the empty road-

"Get out of the way, weirdo!" a man in an ancient-looking carriage shouted at him as he sped by.

Wait…

What?

It was suddenly daylight, late morning or early afternoon was the best guess.

He looked at the suddenly inhabited and busy street in front of him. People wearing clothes he had only seen in old fantasy shows and the occasional cosplayer made their way to and fro, some wearing slightly more modern-looking clothing, while some seemed to be dressed in rags or sheets that had been sown together to make something to wear. The well-paved streets of Academy City had been suddenly replaced with the ancient stone roads seen, again, only in fantasy shows, the towering skyscrapers replaced by smaller buildings, none much taller than three stories, and the air was harshly replaced by the dusty atmosphere of an old city.

Then there was the strange half-human half-animal bunch he was staring at across the road.

Is this a joke?

He was fully aware of the telepaths that could create hyper-realistic illusions, but he could keep those at bay, especially when he was as focused as he was now.

Was this a cruel trick by some unknown esper?

He got a hold of his bearings, glancing every which way, trying to figure things out, eventually settling on a direction. Slowly he started walking, mostly on autopilot as he had no idea where to go or what was going on. He was near what appeared to be a marketplace of sorts. He couldn't read whatever language those signs had written on them, but he could see several booths with fruits and vegetables, and some of the symbols seemed to suggest monetary value. Of course, that was assuming the symbols were numbers and not letters that meant something different.

He suddenly felt a heavy surge of frustration and ducked into a random alleyway.

He grabbed his cell phone and looked it over.

"Damn it…"

No signal.

Worse still, if he had a signal, who the hell would he call?

Aside from Yoshikawa, he had no personal contacts, just the names of random labs or agencies in charge of said labs.

He slumped back against a wall and sat down on the dirty ground.

He began to nervously consider the possibility that he was no longer in Academy City, that he was truly somewhere outside the world he knew. Or at least out of reach of the world he knew, maybe trapped in a telepath's reality… or worse…

But then again…

All he was leaving behind was a mostly broken-up apartment, a few frustrated scientists, and a legacy of terror on the surviving clones of a certain level 5.

Nothing to be proud of.

As he was mulling over all of this new information, approaching footsteps caught his attention. He looked up and glanced at three… curious individuals that were approaching him, blocking off the entrance and exit into the alleyway. A short, stubby little fat kid with a bowl cut and oddly straight teeth he appeared to be showing off with a crooked smile that came off as more obnoxious than anything remotely intimidating. A large man that looked like he had walked out of a pirate play, dreads and all… or were those just very badly braided pigtails? And a skinny guy that looked like he had walked out of a J-pop concert.

What the hell?

"Well, what do we have here?" the skinny guy said, sticking his tongue out.

"Probably someone who doesn't know too much... Look at him! Sitting in the middle of our turf like he owns the place!" the short one cackled.

"What's in the bag, kid? Surely something you would willingly share with us, right?" the big guy said in a slightly threatening tone.

Accelerator ignored them, standing up and starting to walk past them.

They clumped together, physically blocking his path.

Accelerator paused.

"Hey, hey, hey now, where are you going?" the skinny guy asked, tongue out again.

"Come on, let's make this easy, just give us your stuff and we'll let you go, we swear!" the short one said, grinning childishly.

Accelerator silently glared at the three, blood-red eyes screamed murder at the thugs.

"Ooh, scary. Did we make the little princess angry?"

The three men continued taunting the level 5, who was genuinely wondering how to deal with the trio. They hadn't physically attacked him yet, but they were in his way…

Yet they were nothing like the common thugs in Academy City, the ones constantly trying to kill him for his rank; no, these idiots were just naïve.

Before he decided what to do, a yellow blurb stopped behind the three, blowing wind down the alleyway.

The three men and the lone esper turned their attention towards the small, blonde girl.

"Eh? Is this a stickup… or a… gang meet-up thing?"

The other four kept quiet, not really sure what to say to the random interference.

"Eh… none of my business… Live strong! Excuse me!" she exclaimed, hopping from one wall to the other and disappearing over the one at the end of the alley, most likely running amongst rooftops, just as quickly as she had appeared.

"Huh… what a weirdo… how brave of you not to ask for help." The tall one said.

"Move." the albino finally said in a low and threatening tone.

"Ha! Or what, pretty boy?" the big man asked, and the skinny one lifted his shirt slightly, showing the hilt of a blade or sword, but Accelerator didn't really care.

More of the same…

Accelerator's right arm shot up and grabbed the big guy, using his vector ability to lift him a few inches from the ground.

"Or you forfeit your lives right here. Which is it?" he replied coolly, actively trying to intimidate them into backing off.

"H-hey! Let him go!" the skinny guy yelled, revealing that he was indeed carrying a dagger as he brandished the weapon.

Of course, his trying to intimidate them had only backfired.

Accelerator didn't particularly care anymore.

Really now, wasn't this familiar?

Slightly disappointed, Accelerator tossed the big guy into the skinny one with little effort. Somewhat to his surprise, the skinny guy dodged and charged him with the blade pointed at his stomach.

I guess this cycle follows me everywhere…

Assuming this was a new world and not his own, the albino had only lasted a grand total of ten minutes before someone tried to attack him, ten minutes before he easily turned any efforts of violence against him on his attackers, ten minutes before someone came at him with intent to kill or maim or hurt.

He felt the faintest sign of being forlorn as he saw the knife inching closer by the millisecond.

Whatever… let's just get this over w-

He heard something akin to glass shattering, which brought him out of his self-reflection.

Then the skinny guy dropped the knife and fell to the floor unconscious, a foot from the albino.

Accelerator blinked.

He hadn't done anything to him yet.

When he glanced at the small one, he was also knocked out. A strange blue residue was visible on the back of his head.

The big guy who was only now trying to stand up was suddenly knocked down by a strange projectile.

"A-are you okay?" a soft, concerned voice asked, causing the already tired Level 5 to look at the entrance of the alley.

A pale, nearly ghost-like, white-haired girl stood at the entrance, visibly worried.

Worried for him? She didn't know him, so she was probably just another naïve soul, or maybe a public servant of sorts whose job it was to watch the streets for trouble like this.

The level 5 didn't really care.

He huffed, shoving his hand in his pocket and looking at the unconscious trio. Obviously, he was unhurt.

"Um… I figured they were attacking you… probably trying to rob you, right?"

"…keyword trying…" he allowed himself to say aloud after a second.

"Well, isn't he rude? Not even a simple thank you for saving him! What a lowlife!" a different voice exclaimed.

"Puck!" the white-haired girl said, glancing over her shoulder.

A small, floating kitten appeared from behind her head and moved towards the albino, grinning.

He got uncomfortably close to the albino, somehow levitating without any propulsion system that the level 5 could immediately see, and Accelerator was considering flicking the sin against nature down the alleyway but restrained himself.

"Hmm… scary eyes… Hey, you sure he wasn't trying to rob them?"

"Oh come on, he seems a bit too malnourished to be doing that- no offense… plus he's got no weapons on him! That guy had a huge dagger!" the girl said, somewhat flustered as if she was trying to justify her actions.

Maybe she regretted them…

The albino esper began to walk away.

"Oh! Hey! Hold on one second, please-"

"Thanks for the help, but I don't have any money and it's not like I can offer you much of anything." He said sounding completely detached from the situation.

"My, how rude!" the floating cat mumbled.

"W-wait! I could really use your help!"

Accelerator stopped abruptly and turned to look at the girl who seemed rather surprised at her own question.

The only reason you're asking for my help is that you don't know me… or what I've done or how many I've killed. Helping you is not-

"Yeah... What is it?" he asked, albeit, begrudgingly.

"Ah! Well, I have to ask if you've seen a yellow-haired girl run through here. She stole something very important from me and I think you may have seen her so really, me helping you was just the most beneficial option I had! Just for my own reasons, not because I normally help people for no reason, you know?"

Accelerator looked at the girl.

The request was genuine… or at least as genuine as it could be. In turn, the albino was genuinely confused by her words and he soon realized that he had focused so much on the fact that she was actually asking for help from him to fully register the question.

"Okay, what do you want me to do?" he asked with no emotion, hiding his confusion.

"Huh? Um… just tell me if she passed through here?" she replied in a small voice.

The albino simply nodded, remembering, before speaking up.

"…yeah, I saw a blonde kid run past those guys and myself a minute or so ago… went up that wall and ran off. Not sure where she would go."

"I see. Thank you! No need to worry about me saving you! Debt repaid in full and it was for my own purpose anyway so no need to thank me!" the girl exclaimed, seemingly ready to run off, but stopped.

She turned to look at him.

She turned to look at the floating cat.

The floating cat had a look in his eyes that seemed to scream "prove me right".

The girl pouted, but quickly turned around, staring intently at the albino.

"Um… are you lost?" she asked him after a moment.

Accelerator looked around the alleyway for a moment.

"…Yeah." the albino admitted with a sigh, rather frustrated.

"Always the charitable one, eh? Well, let's get this over with. Where do you live?" the cat asked, floating up to him after muttering the first part.

"Nowhere here... I don't even know how I got to… wherever this is."

"Uh-huh… well where you from? My friend is always eager to help those in need." the cat stated cheerfully.

The girl seemed to want to say something, but Accelerator spoke first.

"Does the term Academy City mean anything to you?"

Both the cat and the girl smiled politely but shook their heads.

"Sorry, but I've never heard of any district or city anywhere in Lugnica that has that name."

"Then I'm screwed." The level 5 sighed.

A silence fell between the lost teenager and the odd couple at the alleyway's entrance.

"Well, how about you come with us? We can help each other!" The girl suggested.

She kept a brave smile despite the cold stare from the albino.

On the one hand, he was almost disgusted by the girl's naivety. Did he look like a charity case? Did he look like someone she wanted help from in the first place? Was she just underestimating him?

On the other hand…

"You do that often? Ask total strangers for help? For all you know I could be a killer that likes to slaughter kids like you."

"Yeah, I keep telling her she's way too trusting. She should've left you to get stabbed."

"Hey! I… just… I just think that there is a mutual benefit to you giving me some assistance, see I could use you as an extra set of eyes while we look for this thief- you have seen her after all, so while we do that you could also eventually remember where you live. Just a mutually beneficial action that benefits me the most, of course! If anything you should be thanking me for offering you to help me!" she said, speaking rapidly while trying to sound smug and polite at once and failing miserably at both, her confident smile obviously hiding embarrassment.

Accelerator narrowed his eyes and started to weigh his options. Her odd white dress looked... expensive… maybe she wasn't totally rich, but certainly not poor. Maybe she could refer him to a place that could help him out… maybe… maybe even give him a place to stay? But then again, what if this girl was out to rob or use him? He had seen more complex ruses before.

Though none involved getting sent to a world like this…

On that note, assuming this was all happening, he would need a place to sleep, although nothing was stopping him from just waltzing into a hotel and demanding a room, or just stealing one. Except the still not dead conscious that kept screaming at him that he had to atone somehow for his sins wouldn't stop. This could be a new start, so why follow the same violent path that isolated him from everyone? He could at least try to change things up, right?

Just this one time…

It was even an easy task: find that blonde kid; maybe scare her into returning whatever she had stolen, and be done with it.

And she had asked for his help… as well as offered her own without a detectable hint of malice… which was certainly a first even if she was trying to sound like it wasn't a big deal and he could decline if he felt like it.

"Fine… I might as well give you a hand. Let's go." he said in a calm, indifferent voice, picking up his bag and walking past the girl.

"Ah! Alright!" the girl cheerfully stepped up alongside him, exiting the alleyway and moving into the somewhat sunny street.

At least it's more like the mid-afternoon… sleep schedule might get screwed up later.

"Any idea where we should look first?" he asked after exiting the alleyway.

"Well… the kid wasn't exactly wearing stuff that suggested she was well off. I think…" From what Accelerator knew, the bare minimum of clothing could be just a stylistic choice, but then again…

"I guess that could be the case…"

"Therefore, I suggest we look for the slums." The floating cat exclaimed.

"Yeah, that makes sense…" the boy sighed and began to walk ahead.

The girl nodded, keeping up with the slow-moving stranger.

"What did she steal, exactly?" he asked once she got in pace with him.

The white-haired girl went quiet… pensive.

"A small insignia… it's very important to me."

Accelerator kept his eyes on the road ahead.

She was keeping something from him, but not lying either. Not that it really mattered to him.

"Alright then... You got a name?" he asked calmly.

Not so much because he cared, but to check something…

"You know, it's not very polite to ask for a name if you haven't given yours." The cat that seemed to appear and disappear at random spoke up again, interrupting his little experiment.

"You can call me Accelerator… just Accelerator. I don't have a second name, least, not that I can remember."

The level 5 surprised himself, why on earth would he be this honest with someone he had just met?

"Amnesia?" the cat asked.

"You could say that." he half lied. He truly had forgotten his old name after so long.

As for the white-haired girl…

"Oh, I see… well… you can call me… Satella." the girl said in a serious tone after giving it some thought.

"Well, Satella, believe it or not, I actually gave the name I go by." the level 5 responded with little emotion as they continued walking, his theory being right.

The girl stammered slightly before going quiet.

"Hmm. Not very good tastes, Lia…"

"I- I apologize-" she began.

"Doesn't matter." He stated, wanting to avoid the meaningless apology that was sure to come.

"Yes, it does! I just can't really… give you my name right now… not out here, at least… sorry…" she said, the feeling of sincerity behind her words marking the level 5 deeper than he expected.

She was genuinely sorry for not telling him her name? What kind of Purity Sue had he bumped into?

"Anyway, you can call me Lia if you want. I'm sure Puck won't mind."

"Hey, hold on now-" the cat attempted to object, but the boy cut him off.

"Whatever… just… tell me where we can find the slums or the poor side of this town…" the albino said.

"Hmm… I don't like how you talk to my Lia, but I do like your straightforwardness… just don't touch my Lia, kay?" the cat named Puck said in an oddly cheerful tone.

Although the emphasis that Lia was his suggested otherwise.

The level 5 kept quiet, walking as slowly as he could.

He was still taking in the new surroundings. The city looked somewhat medieval, but not entirely, the people, everything from regular humans to dogs and lizards that walked on two legs, everything in between seemingly present and accounted for as he saw a little girl with cat ears get scolded by her mother who appeared to be slightly hairier than her daughter… assuming she was her daughter... there were some signs of a more enlightened society, particularly in the carriages driving around, as these were more organized, and the streets were better put together than what he'd read medieval Europe had been.

As they walked, a breeze picked up and he noticed the girl Puck referred to as Lia move her hand to her flowing hair.

The albino felt a tinge of surprise as he noticed how well cared for the girl's skin seemed to be. Assuming this world was barely past the medieval stage, then to look so stunning must take not just time, but money.

Maybe she really is someone important... wait, what the hell?

Accelerator suddenly noticed the girl's ears.

They appeared normal except for the subtle point towards the end, which was noticeable enough to appear not natural, but subtle enough they could be hidden behind her long hair.

An elf? A half-elf? Some kind of birth deformity? Who cares?

"Um… they should be going that way, I think." She said pointing at a street that seemed to lead further away from the shops and bustling activity behind them.

Accelerator nodded.

There was silence for a moment as they continued walking.

"Um…" the girl said, stopping as they began to cross a stone bridge.

Accelerator stopped and looked at her, raising an eyebrow.

"So…" she began before going quiet again.

"What?" he asked, somewhat impatiently as he stopped walking to face her.

"I noticed you noticed…"

"What, the ears?" he asked.

She nodded.

"Yeah, so? What of it?"

The girl referred to as Lia blinked in surprise, unconsciously stopping where she stood.

Accelerator grimaced at the reaction, turning to her.

"You… don't know?" she asked him.

"Look, if there's some dumb prejudice thing going on in this country or world or wherever, I really don't care about it, so if you're worried about something like that, put it aside for later, alright?" he said, rather sternly, if not annoyed, then turned and continued walking down the stone path ahead.

"Hmm… what an odd fellow." the small cat whispered.

"He has white hair, so maybe he's been… maybe he understands and just doesn't want to talk about it. Maybe?" the girl whispered back.

"Maybe... or maybe there's something else going on… I didn't sense any malice from him, though."

"Hey, is this the way or what?" the albino called, yet again, somewhat impatiently.

"Ah, yes! Coming!" she called, quickly running after him, surprised at how commanding he sounded when irritated.

They were both quiet for a few minutes as they continued to walk, the occasional… animal-drawn carriage or noise of two people chatting in the street mostly filling the space.

A lone salesman offering all kinds of products, a woman scolding her child for disappearing on her, some spoke in languages the albino hadn't quite heard before, although if he had to guess he would say it sounded like a butchered variation of French if he had to pick a language from home that he could compare it to, and even that was way off.

The girl turned to him after a while and asked "Um, so… do you really not remember your full name?"

Accelerator shook his head, the memories of who he had once been before everything was too distant to remember, before the incident, before the Kiharas, before that damned experiment… he had lived at least two lifetimes all before age ten, and he may have lived two more in the time he spent killing the dolls. From reluctance to forcing himself to accept they weren't human and that no matter what he tried he would never be able to get them to surrender, to gaining a sick enjoyment from it…

To now…

"If I'm honest, I barely remember some bits and pieces of it. I know I had one, but it feels like it was so long ago… I find it easier to keep using my title I suppose."

"Accelerator is your... title?"

He nodded.

"So, then you're like a knight or a noble?"

"No. Nothing like that..." he said in a tired tone as if talking about it exhausted him.

"Lia, look at him, his arms look like they're struggling with that bag. He probably can't even lift up a sword or unlock his gate. Not sure what you could do to earn any real title."

Suddenly tempted to demonstrate what he could do, Accelerator grabbed one of the cans of coffee from the bag he was still carrying.

"Looks can be deceiving, cat." He said, lightly moving his index and tapping the top of the can, he sent its entire top flying, creating a perfectly cut cup of cold coffee which he proceeded to drink.

The cat winced as if the action had awoken something within it for a half-second, but he quickly composed himself and began to loudly chastise the albino.

"Huh, maybe you can use some magic, but I doubt it means much when you're so out of shape. You should really…"

The floating cat continued to berate him the rest of the way about staying in shape while the girl referring to herself as Lia only stared at the odd can on the young man's hand.

Just where are you from, Accelerator?

The sun had been on the way to completely hide behind the horizon by the time they arrived at their destination. Given some of the uncertain directions a passerby had given them, and Accelerator's slow pace, the trio had made it to the slums much later than they would have wanted. The girl referred to as Lia by that floating cat frowned as she saw how decrepit the area had become. It was dirtier than she had imagined, and she could tell most of the people on the street were ill. The homes were literally crooked as if the wooden structures were falling in on themselves, and many didn't even have doors; thin and dirty looking sheets moving slowly in the breeze were the only cover between the doorframes shielded the inside of a home from the view of the outside world for many of the smaller ones. None of the roads were paved, and the dirt from it all was reflected on the homes as it added to their state of apparent decay.

Yeah, these were the slums alright.

Whether she heard him say it or thought she heard him say it, the girl turned to look at the seemingly malnourished teenager with a concerned gleam in her eyes.

Had he been someone who lived in the slums, too?

As if he was dismissing the whole potential conversation with a huff, the albino that had been with them moved forward; looking rather bored as he did so.

He was a mysterious young man, and she could tell he wasn't exactly a happy person, but he at least seemed to mean well.

He had stuck with her so far, after all, not really complaining, and while he had done little, it was nice to have someone helping her out despite not knowing or really caring about her identity. If it wasn't for his attitude, she would assume he was a knight.

But he does look too weak for that… what is his power about anyway? A blessing of some kind?

She saw him move towards a group of men playing cards on the ground. She sensed something and decided to speak up first.

"Um… excuse me, but… have any of you seen a yellow-haired girl run past here?" she asked as politely as she could.

"Who's asking?" the healthiest looking of the four men spoke.

"A concerned citizen, now play nice and tell us what you know." Accelerator replied in a low, just edging on a threatening tone of voice.

"I'll tell you anything for the right price. What're you offering?" the man asked, grinning.

"Well, I don't really have much money on me-"

"He's joking, why would we deal with a white-haired half-elf? You two both look like-" one of the men coughed before the other one interrupted him.

"Shut it, Colbert, look miss we're in a pretty problematic situation here, so if you can't offer us much, then we can't exactly offer you much help either."

Accelerator sighed.

"Sorry about this."

Lia barely managed to give the teenager a questioning glance before he took a step forward.

The healthiest-looking man felt himself get lifted off the ground suddenly, a force slowly crushing his neck.

"Ack! What-? What the-? HELP!" the man managed to say as he saw that the albino had grabbed him by the neck and was somehow holding him a few inches off the ground.

"I offer you your life intact if you tell us what you know about a certain blonde-haired brat that likes to steal gems and run on rooftops." The albino offered in a dangerous tone of voice.

The other men got up and attempted to attack the albino.

Seeing what was coming and wondering why this visibly weak young man had started a fight, the white-haired girl preemptively readied her own attack…

…and promptly stopped as every man that tried landing a hit on the teenager had their attacks thrown back at them instantaneously before they could even hit.

One guy swung his fist particularly quickly and the girl saw the fingers bend out of shape before the man fell to his knees, screaming in pain.

"Hey, don't go breaking all your bones now, if this guy doesn't know anything, I'm moving on to the rest of you." the albino said a dark grin appearing on his face.

"F-felt! Her name is Felt! She lives up that way! I can show you! P-please let go!" the man managed to choke out before Accelerator dropped him.

"Good. Lead the way!" he replied with an almost satisfied smile.

The man nodded and began moving up the road leaving his hurt companions bewildered.

"D-did you have to be so-? What even is that magic?" Lia asked.

"Sorry, but I wanted quick results since the sun seems to be going down faster than I expected. And this isn't magic." He muttered back, calmly beginning to walk ahead.

"Well… never judge a book by its cover, Lia. The kid has some tricks up his sleeve, I'll give him that much." Her spirit quietly replied, impressed.

With little choice, the girl walked after him, wondering how someone could be so needlessly cruel.

And yet… helpful?

"There, the one with a front porch…" the frightened man said, nervously avoiding eye contact with either of the white-haired teens.

"Good, now get lost."

He didn't hesitate at that order.

"Took longer than I expected…" Accelerator mumbled as the sun continued to set on the horizon.

"To be fair, you walk slower than anyone I have ever seen, probably because you're so malnourished from starting pointless fights for no reason." The cat said before yawning.

"Puck…"

"Sorry, Lia, I had to get one last jab in there. Hey, can I trust you with her?"

"What, sleep-deprived?" Accelerator sneered.

"We special spirits only operate in the day, silly… once five o clock hits, it's a good night for me, and I'm… already past my limit…" The cat said, yawning before slowly disappearing.

The albino stared blankly at the little creature for a minute before turning to look at the house again.

"Alright, I'll take your uncomfortable silence as an affirmative! Play nice, you two..." he said in a suggestive tone.

The girl blushed ever so slightly as the mostly vanished cat grinned like a child before disappearing altogether.

"Alright, let's go…" the albino mumbled.

The white-haired girl nodded, remembering why they were there, and the two approached the seemingly empty house.

Lia moved to knock on the door, getting a groan from Accelerator before she could do so.

"What?" she asked; frowning slightly.

"You're really gonna just knock on the door of the people that robbed you? Odds are they're going to try to escape… or worse now that they know you're here."

Lia sighed, saying "You have to be polite with people, no matter what. Besides, I'm just here for my gem. I would prefer it if we kept it civil."

He noted the slight glare she gave him when she said that last part.

Please don't get violent with the kid, Accelerator.

"Yeah, yeah, stand back so I- wait a sec, what…?"

"What's wrong?"

The door moved slightly with the wind as the pair stood staring at it.

Unlike the other homes, this door had a lock on it, which begged the question as to why it was unlocked… or broken.

Lia moved ahead and pushed it, and with a creaking noise, it moved aside, revealing that it was, indeed, broken, seemingly off its hinges.

Accelerator stepped in front of her, glancing inside the dark house, immediately sensing that something was off.

"Is nobody home?" the white-haired girl asked.

"Not sure… something reeks, though… stay close." Accelerator looked around, unable to see anything as he moved into the eerily silent home.

What the hell is going on here? Did that prick lie?

Accelerator didn't like the familiar smell of blood and considered walking back.

Lia took a breath and a subtle light manifested itself, illuminating the inside of the house.

Accelerator's eye went wide at the sight, and Lia covered her mouth in shock.

Everything was in pieces, from a large counter to a small table, to the pair of residents that had probably been breathing only minutes prior.

Two dead bodies, one of a large old man, who was propped up against the wooden wall, his small intestine spilled on the floor, while the other was of a small blonde girl who appeared to have been decapitated with almost surgical precision.

Accelerator sensed something and was surprised when a knife flew out of nowhere and was reflected away with the same force a subsonic round would.

Something about the blade was… off.

What the hell was up with the mass on-

"Lia!" he exclaimed, realizing that the girl next to him was suddenly on her knees, clutching her side, breathing heavily.

The knife he had reflected had flown straight into her side.

She desperately tried to stop her own bleeding, her feeble attempts weakening by the second, Accelerator barely moving to her in time to stop her from collapsing to the floor and causing more damage to herself.

He stared in shock as memories flew into his mind despite his attempts at blocking them.

I… will now… resume the experiment, says Misaka, obeying her orders.

Accelerator felt a second blade nearly slam into him, the metallic knife stabbing the floor after being reflected with ease even if the blade was being thrown at speeds similar to a bullet. An almost impossible feat… but so was defeating the strongest, and a level zero had somehow managed to do just that. The light the white-haired girl had brought forward vanished as her breathing became more ragged.

Not a problem, Accelerator could still sense his surrounding with some ease, and he knew there was someone on the far end of the shop, eyeing them.

"A-ah…" the girl tried to say.

The Albino quickly said, "Take a deep breath, I'll remove the knife!"

He didn't get a reply but did it in a swift motion, making sure he wouldn't do more damage.

Preferably, the knife would be left in place in order to take the girl to a hospital, but that wasn't really an option. The girl covered her mouth as Accelerator moved to ensure she didn't bleed out. A fair bit of blood had already spilled onto the floor from the earlier wound, and even if Accelerator couldn't see it, it reminded him of something he would rather forget.

Is… this… death? Asks… Mi...sa…ka…

Damn it!

"Hold still!" he yelled, desperately pushing her hand away and making direct contact with the injury, the second his finger made contact he began to control the direction of her blood flow, keeping it within the wound and in her body. He slowly set her down on the floor, trying to figure out a way to move her to safety without risking further damage to either of them. The girl looked at him, panicked, trying to say something.

Hold still…

Accelerator quickly assessed the situation he was in. He had to move her, get away from the scene, get her to a doctor or something that would save her- assuming they could… no, the wound was too deep for medieval medicine, assuming this world had even that. This place probably wasn't even near the industrial age yet. Then there was the elephant in the room… the dark shadow kept eyeing him from a distance. He was sure the assailant wouldn't just let them run, either. Plus, focusing so much of his calculating power on keeping her from bleeding out could result in a surprise attack getting through his usually impervious-

Another knife flew directly at him with speeds once more rivaling some high caliber rounds before being automatically sent into the wooden door to his left. This one was just a regular kitchen knife and it shattered on contact.

If I had been just slightly unfocused…

"Damn you!" the teenager growled as he glancing away from the girl without letting her go in order to face the darkness, focusing all of his concentration on returning the lost blood into her and keeping it there.

Doubt blood transfusions are standard medical practice here… of course, it's up to me…

He had to make sure nothing foreign got mixed in, he had to make sure no more blood seeped out, and he had to keep both of them alive. Which would, in theory at least, leave him vulnerable… He wasn't that stupid, though. No more knives came, and he could sense movement in the shadows nearby, right by the bodies nearby. The shadow moved cautiously, almost invisible in the darkness of the broken shop, but it moved with a purpose.

A predator studying its quarry… trying to understand what it was up against…

He forced himself to keep some attention fixed on whatever it was, trying not to let the labored breaths of the white-haired girl distract him.

The clouds high above moved then; allowing moonlight to shine a somewhat blue glimmer of light on the knife that had been thrown at them, grabbing Accelerator's attention, and giving him an idea.

Accelerator swiftly moved and grabbed it.

From the shadows to his left, he felt the presence shift in place again, studying him, trying to figure him out. He began tightly gripping the kitchen knife, making sure it was clean before turning once more away from the white-haired girl, he pointed it toward the location where the shadow was, sensing that whatever it was, it wasn't intent on leaving him alone just yet.

Come on… get out where I can see you.

"My, what a strange fellow. And what a strange power… are you perhaps… an archbishop?" a sultry voice asked.

"It's not exactly polite to ask for a name if you haven't given yours." he spat back, finding the voice disgusting.

Two slow and steady footsteps sounded to his right, and from the shadows appeared the figure that had attacked them.

The dark-haired woman giggled ever so slightly, saying "Oh, my sincerest apologies; my name is Elsa. What's your name?"

The albino didn't reply.

He had the enemy right in front of him, so now he could at least focus on saving the girl as quickly as possible. He registered that the girl behind him was barely staying conscious, which was excellent as it showed that she hadn't died yet, but if she started to panic, keeping the blood from leaving her artery would become nearly impossible.

Accelerator gripped the blade tightly in his hand and got on one knee.

Air, friction, velocity, metal… heat…

Utilizing his vector control to its fullest, he began to use the air around him to heat up the blade, the dark-haired woman staring at him curiously as the wind swirled around the room, converging around the boy's hand that wasn't on the girl's wound.

"Young man, I asked you a question. Aren't you going to politely answer it?"

The albino ignored her, turning to look at the girl whose eyes had slowly popped open.

"Hey, Lia… I need you to take a deep breath, I'm going to cauterize the wound and it is going to-"

"How rude." was the only thing the strange woman said before lunging directly at him.

Accelerator saw her clearly for the first time.

She was dressed in all black, looking like an eccentric multi-millionaire with too much time and money on their hands, emphasized by the long black dress and the dark, feathery scarf that might have been scarlet or purple, but he wasn't sure given the lighting…

The only reason Accelerator flinched was because he had never seen a human go from standing still to moving with such tremendous force so quickly.

Oh, he could do it, he was certain the top three Espers in Academy City could do so as well, but he had never seen anything like that from an adult. If asked, he would admit with no shame, the move surprised him.

However…

The woman referring to herself as "Elsa" found that having all the energy you were exerting be diverted right back against you isn't a pleasant experience at all. She slammed through the wooden walls of the shop, leaving a gaping hole on the wooden structure and God only knows how many bones shattered.

Taking a breath, Accelerator turned to Lia, who took hold of his hand as he moved the heated blade to the wound.

She nodded.

He recognized both fear and determination in the weary eyes of the girl, the trust she had put in him cutting deeper than he'd expected.

I'm too slow... damn it... damn it all!

Accelerator lifted the fabric of her top, pushing the guilt he felt for failing her away, tightly gripping the heated metal and pressing it against the wound. The girl grit her teeth and sucked in some air as the knife seared the wound shut, her legs kicked the air slightly as she forced herself not to scream in pain. The pain would certainly be unbearable, and the albino was surprised that she wasn't fainting due to it. Cauterizing was a painful process, requiring multiple burns that lasted one or two seconds at the most. Now, it would save her life, though a nasty scar would certainly remain. Lia stayed awake in spite of the ungodly pain, tearing up but refusing to slip into unconsciousness.

Accelerator stopped after a few seconds, noting that the wound was no longer bleeding, and with a fair bit of her blood returned to her, Lia would likely survive the ordeal. He checked her pulse, seeing it slowly begin to stabilize. He almost let out a sigh of relief.

Now to deal with… that.

An almost animalistic growl came from the hole in the wall.

"Great… I need you to do me another favor and stay down, alright?" he said in a low, threatening tone, smiling ever so slightly.

The girl tried to speak, but the albino simply walked away, moving deeper into the darkness, away from the small rays of blue moonlight, both hands balled into fists.

To say he was pissed off would be a major understatement.

"Alright, Elsa or whatever your name is… give up now, tell me who sent you, and I might grant you a quick death!"

A low laugh came slowly from outside as glowing purple eyes pierce the darkness.

What the hell are you?

The woman came into the shop again, blood pouring from the stub that used to be her left arm. He wasn't all that surprised it was all that was left of it. She had hit him with so much force that any human bone would have shattered on impact, let alone having that same exact amount of force reflected straight back into it. Somewhat to his surprise, the stub quickly fixed itself, the arm seemingly healing itself on its own.

Well, whatever you are I'll kill you either way!

His smile widened slightly as he knew that her healing factor didn't matter.

The woman, however, giggled like a little girl before saying "Incredible, simply incredible! You must be an archbishop, you simply must be! To meet one so-"

A light breeze was the only warning she got before an invisible force slammed her into the floor, pinning her to the ground.

The white-haired teenager grinned cruelly in the darkness.

"I don't know what that means, nor do I care. Now, are you going to play nice or do I have to educate you?"

"My, how commanding! How exactly do you plan to educate me?"

"Maybe I can start breaking every bone in your frail body one a time until you understand what I mean!"

A sharp crack actually caused the dark-haired woman to gasp in pain.

"So-so cruel…" she said while forcing a smile, now glaring at her crushed ankle, the albino's foot stepping on it had buried it into the wooden floor, preventing it from healing quickly.

The boy spoke with disinterest.

"You nearly killed a defenseless girl, maybe because she witnessed something she shouldn't have, but honestly, all that says is that you screwed up your part. If anything, this is just what happens when you try to kill people that haven't laid a finger on you." Accelerator sighed, the smile diminishing slightly as he began pressing his shoe onto the woman's side, slowly crushing more bone under his foot.

The woman screamed in pain now just as Lia managed to stand up, albeit just barely, clutching her side.

Accelerator heard her weakly manage to get up, which was a feat in of itself, but he kept the dark-haired woman pinned. The white-haired girl moved slowly, finding her balance, and slowly beginning to walk over to him. He was about to tell her to stay down and stay back and stay out of his way when she spoke first.

"W-wait… the badge… did you pay them to steal it?" she somehow managed to breathe out the words.

Accelerator paused, turning back to the dark-haired woman.

She remained silent.

Without skipping a beat, Accelerator proceeded to slam his foot into her side, breaking apart several ribs in one swift motion, stabbing bone fragments into her vital organs, causing as much physical pain as he could.

The woman gasped in pain once more and suddenly began to laugh maniacally, never losing her composure.

"I'm afraid you won't get any information from me, you-" her words were cut off by screams.

Accelerator lowered his foot ever so slightly into her body, committing every little crack he felt and heard to memory as the woman attempted to fight back but found herself restrained in her entirety. Unlike the dolls or the thugs that he'd fought previously, he finally felt some satisfaction in slowly breaking someone's bones.

Still, her lack of an answer annoyed him.

Was she this dumb or is the buyer that dangerous?

"Listen, lady, I don't think you understand your situation, so let me make it clear. I'm not about to let you live, you can choose between a painless death or the slowest, most excruciating way to go you can imagine. I will turn your mangled body into a carpet, I will keep you conscious longer than your body physically allows even if it heals, I will make you experience every painful sensation, break every tiny bone and let it heal before breaking them over and over again until you cooperate. You pissed me off, you killed people we wanted to talk to, and I take it they're not your first victims, either, so I guess killing you is actually far more efficient than letting you live…"

"Ah-ha-ha- except you need the information that I have, do you not? All this pain you can cause, you are free to try it. My lips are sealed. You won't get what you want no matter what you do." The woman oh so rudely interrupted.

Accelerator simply grinned from ear to ear before sucking in a breath and grabbing the woman's face with his right hand, making sure to keep her pinned. Lia raised an eyebrow, about to ask a question when the woman… no… the creature referring to herself as Elsa began to scream and writhe as the albino teenager held her in place.

It didn't stop, the wailing was unlike any human or animal Lia had ever heard. As if the woman was actually being forced to experience the most excruciating death over and over again all as the albino in front of her kept her in place. She didn't understand what he was doing, there wasn't any magic that she could recognize, and it wasn't some kind of elemental magic she simply couldn't detect. There was no smoke or signs of fire burning her eyes and she knew of no ice spells that could cause such a reaction bar a slow freeze of the liquids with the eye, but even that couldn't be it as she would have seen or detected some sign due to the sheer drop in temperature.

But there was nothing.

She wondered about the albino's strange… ability... and how he had seemingly heated up a blade without any use of magic. She held the area he had burned in order to save her life and narrowed her eyes.

If he wanted me dead this woman would have done the job for him so killing her makes sense if he wanted to take the credit, but then… why save me?

The albino removed his hand from the woman's face allowing her some respite.

"Now, you can answer her question, or experience that over and over again. Nonstop." He emphasized the fact that he wouldn't relent.

The dark-haired woman stared in shock at the albino, seemingly dumbfounded at the turn of events, as if this hadn't been part of some deal. She was about to try to talk when she found that she couldn't. As if she was in too much shock to actually say anything.

What? What did he-? Did he do something else? I-

The Albino interrupted her internal analysis before she could figure out why she couldn't speak.

"Ah? Still loyal to whoever ordered this? Well, let's see if I can encourage you a little-"

"Wait."

Accelerator turned to Lia, who approached him slowly, still clutching her side, very much in pain although the light surrounding her suggested she could handle it.

She looked at the woman and asked him "Is she restrained… completely?"

"Yeah, but I haven't broken her back yet… do you want me to?" he asked matter of factly, not even facing the white-haired girl.

The girl seemed to contemplate the option but sighed before saying "No, I'll just look her over. As much as I would appreciate the information, the important thing is my badge."

The woman glared at Lia as she began searching her.

Seeing the half-elf was seemingly restraining the albino monster from killing her, Elsa found the strength to speak through her heavy breaths.

"So… you got yourself... a loyal follower of the witch's cult? Wait until the council learns of this."

Lia ignored it but flinched when the woman managed to spit at her.

Accelerator waited, wondering if she would ask him to break the woman further, but the request never came.

The girl simply breathed in and spoke calmly.

"I don't really know if I did anything to you before, but I am sorry you experienced whatever led you to become this. I sincerely apologize." The girl weakly said, finding what she was looking for on a hidden pocket on the woman's odd dress.

The small gem began to glow upon contact and Lia hid it in her own pocket.

"You think I need your pity?! Your days are numbered, you damned witch-"

Lia was spared the hurtful insult as Accelerator stepped on her chest and physically squeezed the air out of her.

"Ugh, shut up already… if you got what you wanted I assume you won't mind me killing her?" the boy asked her.

Again, the girl seemed to consider it. She glanced at the unmoving bodies in the shop and back at the monster.

"I… I have no right to ask this of you after you saved me, but… could you keep her alive?"

Accelerator stared incredulously at the girl, seemingly confused at the fact that the request was genuine.

Maybe she had indeed lost too much blood and her head was messed up?

"Thieves or not, she murdered two citizens of Lugnica… killing her now wouldn't allow her to meet justice at the hands of the law."

Accelerator considered this as he turned to the murderer under him.

The memory of the same girl dying over and over again by his hand flashed in his mind.

"Is that what you want?" he asked the white-haired girl.

"I would prefer it."

When she spoke, her hand moved to the seared wound on her side.

Somehow the simple reply pissed him off, but… she was the one who asked for his help.

Lia shut her eyes as she heard five loud snaps as Accelerator shattered the woman's bones in multiple places, both legs were shattered above and below the knee, and the final one would have been something in her spine. Aside from a few contained grunts, the woman was silently defiant.

As a final measure of security, or perhaps out of some level of sadistic payback, Lia wasn't quite sure; Accelerator grabbed the woman's face again and did… something that knocked her out completely, only a quick scream escaping her before falling silent.

He turned to look at the surprised girl.

"You wanna leave her here or what, cause I'm not about to start carrying her."

The girl smiled slightly despite the pain on her side.

"We'll contact a knight, and we can leave it to them. Hopefully, she hasn't harmed anyone else."

The albino shrugged and began to walk past her only to jump as the girl suddenly grabbed his hand. It wasn't every day someone laid a hand on him without his knowing beforehand, but the action had been too weak to warrant a defensive response. He did his best to suppress how the small gesture had startled him.

"W-whoa, hold on! Aren't you hurt?" she asked, not noticing she had surprised him by grabbing his arm.

The albino wasn't used to physical contact of any kind, so the only response he had was to quickly pull away, saying "Obviously not, she couldn't touch me!"

He winced then, recognizing the slight sting of a cut on his hand. He looked at his right hand, the one that had held the knife.

There was a shallow cut across it.

I must've held onto it too hard…

"Damn it all…" he groaned, realizing that he had no bandages or antibiotics to deal with it. Cuts across the palm of anyone's hand were incredibly annoying to heal, even if it wasn't all that deep.

Could always just-

"Let me see." The girl said as she gently took the hand in her own, again, escaping consequences from his ability.

She frowned slightly, took a deep breath, and began to hum.

He really wasn't amused. What was this supposed to be, anyway, some kind of elvish ritual to mourn lost skin cells?

No, Accelerator was not amused at all… at least, not until a blue light materialized over them and the cut appeared to close on its own.

He blinked, surprised.

"Never seen healing magic before?" Lia asked.

The teenager took his hand back and stared at it for a moment, impressed with the results. He slowly shook his head as he hid it in his pocket.

"No, I guess I haven't… I… thanks for that…" he said, surprised that he meant it.

She just saved him a week of guarding against infection assuming this land relied on whatever ability allowed for that and not antibiotics and bandages.

But he had nothing more to say.

The woman named Elsa was, for lack of a better description, utterly crippled, which was probably better than what she had done to her victims, but suffering is a matter of perspective. Lia had recovered her gem or badge or whatever that was, so she didn't really need him anymore. Hell, she would probably use some of that power on herself just to make the scar disappear.

He was about to leave again when the girl decided to walk past him, saying "It's better to hear someone say thank you than sorry, you know."

He didn't say anything, prompting the girl to stop and look at him.

"Aren't you coming?" she asked.

The albino simply raised an eyebrow.

"You haven't seen where you live or anything, right?"

Accelerator frowned but didn't deny the girl's statement.

"Come on, you said you didn't have anywhere to go or stay, right? You can come with me."

"Your family okay with having a stranger over?" he asked then.

In the moonlight, Accelerator noticed the faintest glimpse of pain run across the gentle eyes of the girl.

He decided to push further.

"Hell, you think they'll be fine with having someone who just tortured another woman without a second thought? You did see that, right?" his question was loaded, as he had noticed how oddly unaffected the girl had appeared by his actions as if she'd seen something similar or worse before.

Lia spoke quickly.

"Yes, but she attacked us and tried to kill us. You… saved me… I'm thankful for that."

Accelerator shut his eyes and turned from the girl, mildly irritated by her words.

"Yeah, well… you healed me for my troubles; debt is paid in full… beyond full if you asked me."

I'm too much trouble to keep around…

"Are you saying you owe me after all of that?" she asked, a strange smile on her face.

He shrugged and began to walk past her, closing his eyes as the girl almost seemed to gain an impish grin.

He stopped as she pointed right at him, grinning from ear to ear.

"Well, then in payment for my services, I request that you come with me so that we can thank you in full!" she declared as if she was royalty.

The teenager blinked, maintaining his expressionless stare.

Though he'd be lying if he said he wasn't at least considering it.

A place to stay, maybe some food… he could use it to orient himself to this mysterious world before deciding on a course of action.

But…

"You sure you want me near you? I don't know what that lady was talking about, but it sounds like having me around may cause you more problems than it's worth."

Lia got serious then. She was pensive, uncertain of the possible outcomes should she bring this young man with her. It was like bringing a stray dog home, maybe he was nice now, but what happened if you tried putting it on a leash?

"Tell me… why did you save me?" she asked then.

The albino didn't reply.

The girl didn't repeat her question, waiting expectantly.

Upon seeing he wasn't going to answer, she spoke up.

"We barely know each other, yet you went out of your way to not only stay with me and guard me against any attacks, but you stopped me from losing more blood and sealed the wound all without using magic. Why?"

"Not like it's something that would be much of an effort… I-"

"Then why stay? Who am I? I'm just a lone half-elf girl who lost a simple gem after all! Even if I was rich, a person like me can't have that much money on hand, certainly not enough to make risking your life worth it. Or do you know something you are not telling me?"

What is this, a catch 22?!

"You're the one that asked for my help, I just did it because you asked me to!" he barked back in mild frustration, suddenly irritated with the unexpected character analysis from the silver-haired girl.

"Then I doubt you will cause me much trouble…do you have anywhere to go?"

Accelerator didn't reply, breaking eye contact to look at the dirt road.

"…Accelerator, you saved me… let me help you out."

Accelerator winced at the sickening honesty in her words.

"I don't have any money or real valuables that I can attest to, I have no idea how to read your written words, my clothes and this bag are all I have. You would basically be taking in a beggar off the street."

The girl nodded and was quiet for a moment, but spoke up faster than he was expecting.

"Roswaal is a… unique man. I'm sure he won't mind, especially once I tell him you saved- I mean… owe me a favor."

"Roswaal? What is he, a caretaker?"

A sad smile spread across her face.

"Not exactly, he owns the home I operate from… I am one of the four candidates to the royal election and Roswaal is helping me manage while the election begins."

Royal election?!

"Royal… wait, just who are you?"

"Well… my name is Emilia… just Emilia, and... and I'm not of royal blood, I was just chosen because of this gem… they were handed to many candidates but only four have been selected."

She spoke, sounding embarrassed at revealing her true identity.

Accelerator looked at the glowing gem and said "So even if they hate you, they have to let you try to run…to rule the country?"

The girl nodded.

"Won't having me around screw things up for you?" he asked then.

The girl he now knew was named Emilia said "Well, it's complicated... you know about the Witch of Envy, right?"

"No, why?" he asked.

Emilia got uncomfortably close to him, studying his face.

"Huh… Maybe you really are suffering from amnesia… wait, how did you know I was lying when I told you that my name was Satella?"

"Cause you thought about it too much. Seriously, anyone could see that."

The girl huffed, a tired look in her eyes made visible by the blue glow of the moon.

"Rude, but… honest… so you really have no idea about the Witch of Envy?" she asked again.

Accelerator didn't reply, the answer being quite obvious at this point.

"Well… she… looked like me. She had white hair, was a half-elf… and she destroyed half the world before being stopped a long time ago, so… if you're born with white hair you're not considered very lucky. Cursed, depending on who you ask." she said weakly, trying her best to hide the amount of pain this had caused her.

Accelerator frowned.

So her having me around by itself would be more of a problem in this world than back home…but add the fact that she is a half-elf with silver hair…

"Then I should go on my way."

The teen was about to dismiss her, to make up some excuse for her to leave him when she said "But I think everyone should be equal, human, demi-human, white-haired, or otherwise! So just let me repay you! Please?"

Please?

Something about the way she asked… it hurt to think about, but there was lingering loneliness in her words. Add to the fact that she hadn't objected to cold-blooded torture…

This girl has been through something…

He stared at her for another moment before looking up towards the stars in the sky.

He didn't recognize a single constellation.

"Emilia, was it?"

"Yes?"

A small part of him wanted to push her away.

She was clearly kind-hearted, and if the scar he had left on her was any indication, naive to the point of suicide in spite of whatever horrors or pain she had faced prior. Having him anywhere close to her would certainly cause the girl more problems, yet she was throwing all of it aside just to help him. But then again, if her appearance was already causing assassins to go after her, wouldn't she want more protection? Could he actually do something different with his ability? For once, use his destructive power to protect someone?

Was that even possible for him?

He had caused so much pain before, he seriously doubted he would be able to help anything, but… maybe he could try starting again.

"…If you insist, then I have no choice." he finally breathed out, conceding defeat.

He wanted to say that he felt annoyed when the girl smiled back and began to slowly lead him down the barely lit road, but remained quiet.

He was unsure where this path would take him now, a part of him still doubted any of it was real, but he decided that he would walk it regardless.

It's always a one-way road with me, isn't it?


A/N: Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking either.

I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Re; Zero, but I really did enjoy the anime back when it came out, and the story had some of the most amazing scenes I have ever seen in any series. Problem is, not only is the Light Novel (probably) far from over, I don't know a whole lot more than what the anime showed. I know *some* spoilers about Rem, Roswaal… the witches… but I am still murky on a lot of the details, yes, even after watching season 2.

Then there's the choice of Accelerator for this.

I've wanted to write a fic with him since he barely got much focus on the first fic I published way back in 2018, and I just love redemption arcs, so I figured he could go through a different one on here, just protecting someone else… I'd be lying if I said this doesn't feel kind of wrong as Subaru is an impressively written and developed character, in my opinion; written in such a way that I doubt I could ever hope to match in a story like this as he goes through his own redemption arc in a sense.

So, I simply went right back to the strategy I use for every story I write: what if?

And that is what you see here: what if instead of a nice guy from Japan getting chosen by the Witch of Envy, a remorseful monster with a powerful ability to boot was taken instead?

If it isn't obvious enough, this is taking place just after Accelerator's defeat at the hands of Touma and the cancelation of the Level 6 Shift Experiment, right before he meets Last Order. Having no one ever ask for his help before, yet meeting someone who would not only offer help but also ask for it like Emilia would probably make her the person he now goes out of his way to protect.

Does it work? Well… that's for you to decide, Accelerator doesn't die so easily, which inadvertently means he can't save everyone, which didn't bode well for Felt and Rom here... yeah, sorry about that, but a different character means a different scenario.

So… I guess that's the twist for this fic… maybe…

Not sure if I'll keep up with it as it is a bit out of my comfort zone and completely different from my other works, so maybe I'll leave it as a one-shot, or come back to it later, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

Do you guys want me to try and continue this story?

No?

Feel free to let me know!

Reviews and suggestions are always appreciated!

Thank you for reading!