Chapter Notes: Part II of the Prologue! There's a 'worldwide broadcast' there that will appear on every fic in this AU. The invaders (OCs, but not too important at this point) are also introduced in this part. Everything's still covered in mysteries, though the pieces will start falling into place XD; It's also easier to understand everything if you read all of the other parallel fics *shot*
On 10051: Shou-chan is less… helpless here, compared to the previous installment, because here, Shou-chan now has decided on what to do and he's gotten used to Byakuran harassing him (Stockholm Syndrome, 10051-style?). On another note, it seems that this Byakuran is more playful. Though that won't last for long *nervous laugh*
Word Count: 1813
Formatting: I use a lot of symbols in Byakuran's speech (e.g. hearts and notes) that don't appear in this site. A fully-formatted version is in my livejournal (link in my profile) :D
Project Dying Hope: Prologue Part II
December 31, 2999 - Tuesday
"Shou-chan, what do you think?"
Shouichi takes a look –a long, long look- at Byakuran, innocent smile in that sly, sly face, harmless hands gesturing at the control room that will crush the world.
He fervently hopes that Byakuran-san will ignore the despair clouding his eyes, the tension weighing down on his not-yet-adult shoulders, the anger stirring in his fingers.
He can't finish what he wants to say, because his thoughts are colliding against each other, quickly assembling themselves into 'things-he-can-say-to-amuse-Byakuran' and 'things-that-even-Byakuran's-strange-favoritism-will-not-forgive' and 'things-that-he-really-wants-to-say'. Most of his thoughts belong to the last two categories, but amusing Byakuran is his only hope for survival.
Though really, if he spoke up against Byakuran's plans, will it really do anything at all?
Byakuran's purple eyes are wise, oh so very wise, and it sees things Irie is doing his hardest to hide, bury, destroy.
"Ahh, Shou-chan~ Everything is going to start soon~ "
Irie remains silent, because really, what else is there to say? Please stop the earthquake? Please don't let those people invade this place? Please don't engage the world in war?
"When I rule the world, I'll make you my second in command~ "
"I'll stay here and monitor everything," He says in a halting voice, reminding himself that doing his job well in Japan will save his parents, his friends—hopefully.
"Be careful, ne?"
Shouichi nods and waits for the communication link to disconnect before he sinks to his seat, hands massaging his temples.
More than the upcoming calamity, more than the incoming intruders, more than the approaching world domination war—Byakuran is the one that he should be careful of most.
The earthquake destroys countless buildings, takes countless lives, crushes countless dreams, and Irie Shouichi squeezes his eyes shut, hands hugging himself, saying countless apologies to the people he won't be able to warn, to protect, cursing himself for being the one person Byakuran cares enough to save.
January 01, 3000 - Wednesday
"Shou-chan, what do you think?"
Shouichi feels his headache worsening and his stomachache persisting whenever he hears Byakuran's voice.
As expected, the residents at Gisborne, New Zealand didn't see even a glimpse of the sun's rays.
The TV stations that survived the massive earthquake were all showing one thing at the moment: shots of a flying fortress atop a newly-risen island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, interrupted occasionally by the feed of a platinum-blond male wearing an all-white uniform.
Even though Byakuran already explained things to him, he still found it hard to believe.
"Your beloved Earth is now in another dimension—isolated from the Sun," The man's voice is annoyingly cheerful –he actually reminds him of Byakuran- as though he actually finds the situation hilarious. "That's why, you poor things will never see the sun again."
It's common knowledge that humans cannot exist on a planet without sunlight to fuel photosynthesis, without the sun's radiation to keep the Earth from freezing.
Shouichi leans against the leather chair Byakuran-san insisted he buy for his office, even if he is against over-the-top things. Him living in luxury gnaws constantly at his conscience as well, since a person like him doesn't deserve to live such a pleasant life (well, it's not exactly pleasant, but it's something many would be jealous of) while others are currently suffering in confusion and terror.
"Ne, ne, Shou-chan, are you listening?" Byakuran asks gaily, and he wants nothing more than to press the button to close the window that displays his boss' oversized face on the monitor.
"Yes, Byakuran-san," He says wearily, because for one, it's early morning here, and two, this turn of events isn't exactly something that makes him energetic. Plus, he can only take so much infuriatingly-happy annoyances at such an early hour.
Daisuke –the platinum-blond man- is the acting speaker on behalf of the invaders that arrived on Earth. "Zero Star," He says, referring to their organization's name, "is looking forward to your cooperation."
The World Union-owned channel shows the current World Union chairman, who speaks up after a few moments of consultation with his fellow world leaders beside him. "What do you need our cooperation for?"
There is no static at all in the broadcast. The entire world waits for Daisuke's answer.
If Irie squints enough at his monitor, he can see faint threads surrounding Daisuke. Irie checks broadcasts from different stations and finds that the threads are present in every single one of them.
He wonders if those threads have any significance. He thinks about asking Byakuran about it, but his boss, well. Byakuran seems to have grown bored of Daisuke's 'welcome speech' and is now opening his second bag of marshmallows.
Daisuke smiles disarmingly. "Oh dear, didn't I tell you? Our group is looking for something." He then cocks his head to the side, smile widening ever-so-slightly.
"And for that, we'd like you guys to all be gone from Earth~ "
January 03, 3000 - Friday
"Shou-chan, what do you think?"
Shouichi actually managed to resist Byakuran's constant naggings at him to join him in Italy. For that, he gained a ray of respect for himself. On the other hand, it just prompted Byakuran to fly over to Japan, even though airline operations are currently suspended at the moment.
"I'll fix your tie." He offers, ignoring the question, willing his hands to stop shaking when he adjusts Byakuran-san's clothes, even though there is nothing more he wants to do rather than wrap his hands around this man's neck.
"Maa, if Shou-chan is nervous, I'll get nervous too," Byakuran says playfully, even though Shouichi knows that his boss is just teasing him. The idea of this insane man even feeling the remote tugging of nervousness is laughable.
"Ahh, I'm really lucky to have Shou-chan by my side " He has heard this man spout even more embarrassing things in the past, but combined with the formal outfit and that particular smile… A pink flush rises unbidden on Irie's cheeks, even as he hates himself for it.
Byakuran looks satisfied with that reaction. Byakuran then stands in the middle of the room, nodding to Shouichi to start the world-wide broadcast. Shouichi hates himself even more when he turns on the switch the override the current broadcasts and replace it with the live feed of his boss and his cheerful smile.
"Hi, everyone! " Byakuran starts, waving at the camera, acting like an innocently, cheerful kid. Irie wonders how many more people would be captured by that expression, wonders how many more pawns would be created from this move, wonders how many more victims will suffer from the plans he's helping implement.
The world hasn't recovered from the shock of the mass genocide request from the invaders. Now, Byakuran is here to confuse the world even further.
"I'm Byakuran and I'd like to offer salvation to everyone who's willing to work with me."
He has heard this speech so many times before –Byakuran enjoyed annoying him over video calls that were mostly nonsense with some harassment thrown in- but he still can't help but stare at Byakuran—who's currently staring straight back at him.
"I have a fortress that offers a safe living environment for my loyal allies." Byakuran states sweetly, and Irie knows that countless people are now looking at Byakuran as their savior, since the State Police and the World Union appears to be powerless in the face of the latest catastrophes.
Irie adds a picture of the underground fortress to the broadcast, showing off the luxurious living spaces and lush environment that's now gone from the world. Of course, everything has a price, and the price of enjoying the so-called 'safety' Byakuran offers in his 'Millefiore Kingdom' is deceptive.
"All you need to do," Byakuran says with a triumphant chuckle, "is to pledge loyalty to me."
January 04, 3000 - Saturday
"Shou-chan, what do you think?"
Shouichi stands on the control tower overlooking the main entrance to Millefiore's fortress located underneath the expanse of Siberian tundra. He is wearing an all-white uniform with badges that proclaim him to be second in-command for Byakuran's empire.
He tries to forget the look of disgust his parents shoot him when they enter the special custody—he doesn't blame them, because even he himself is disgusted with how things turned out.
"Your speech was very convincing, Byakuran-san." He says stiffly, because he can't exactly say what he really thinks about this whole project, about this whole mystery surrounding the turn-of-the-century.
"You make it sound as though I deceived them, Shou-chan~ " Byakuran drapes himself all over Shouichi. Shouichi suppresses his very strong urge to run away from his boss, because he knows that Byakuran is simply teasing him, testing his limits, and enjoying the way his officers titter about at the sight of their boss openly flirting with his second-in-command.
It's true though, in a way—the deception part at least. Byakuran left out the part about the requirements of loyalty he's looking for in his followers. He also conveniently glossed over his goal of overriding the World Union and taking over the world after he has eliminated competition. He also neglected to mention his real objective in gathering people under his wing.
For now, it's only Shouichi who knows those things.
"B-Byakuran-san, I have work to do." He protests when it becomes clear that Byakuran-san doesn't have any intention of letting him go. He's not particularly excited with doing his next job, but he'd gladly take anything that would place him away from Byakuran's claustrophobic presence.
Byakuran lets him ago after a round of pouting and Shouichi threatening to lock the marshmallow supply. Shouichi hurriedly stalks away from his boss, steadfastly ignoring the mixed-curiosity-and-jealousy everyone is radiating. He becomes so busy with ignoring everyone that he doesn't notice a teal-haired man walking towards him—until he bumps into him, that is.
"Oww," He grumbles, hands immediately going to his face to check his glasses. He blinks when he sees the unfamiliar long-haired man. He almost opens his mouth to demand –in a tone that Byakuran had him practice a few days ago- what this stranger doing here in a restricted-access area, but Byakuran interrupts him.
"Aha~ Shou-chan, you're as clumsy as ever~ "
Byakuran strides to the two of them, a mischievous grin on his lips. "Shou-chan, I'd like you to meet my new bodyguard, Kikyo-kun ."
All this while, Shouichi thought it would be okay if he waited for the right moment, if he carefully furnished his plan, if he slowly but surely did his best to change things. All this while, Shouichi thought that he was the only one Byakuran trusted. All this while, Shouichi thought that it would remain that way until the day Byakuran either lost everything or won everything.
Now that there's someone else standing by Byakuran's side, Shouichi feels a part of himself breaking.
Breaking apart slowly, slowly, slowly—
—much like the crumbling world above the Millefiore Fortress.
Project Dying Hope: END Prologue Part II