Disclaimer:

I do not own any of the creative properties used in the creation of this work of fan fiction. On the other hand, any specific author created characters I created for this fic (despite how unoriginal they may be at times) are mine. So without further ado, let's get on with the show!

The Surgeon General's Warning:

Read at your own risk. Suspension of Disbelief is required.


Springfield, Ph.D.: A Different Paradigm

Chapter 01:

20-20

An Negima-ish fanfic by James "Ray" Edwards


Flames...

Bodies...

Laughter...

Same nightmare, different day; I've been having the same thing follow me like a bad hangover spell for a better part of forever. Talk about a drag. Just once, I'd like it if the world would cut me some slack and give me a dream for a change. Is a guy asking for too much that out of the 365 days in a year he can have one night's worth of an actual good sleep?

Then again, I suppose most fellas aren't like me, even amongst the odd millions of orphans out there. Special doesn't cut it when applied to me; abnormal was closer to the truth. You'd have to be abnormal to declare yourself an existence higher than even a Demon Lord from a Dragon **** game and make war against The World as we all know it. Naturally, people thought I was crazy, until I burned down---well, more like completely destroyed---a branch of the Novis Orbis Librarium.

Can't say my life got boring after becoming the most wanted man in Earth's history (correction: TRUE History) with the biggest bounty to boot, which was why I got used to camping out like a hick, under the stars, in a middle of a seithr infested wilderness. Sure, I have a tent and everything locked away in a convenient Ars' "Hammer Space", but in my experience, it's best not to get too comfortable in the great outdoors. Nothing has ever been the same since the "First War of Magic", it's why a majority of humans live at the highest elevations of the world, and I've had to fight off seithr beasts and worse, the filth monsters, more times than I care to remember.

Well, all of that fun stuff happened millennia ago, and like it or not, I ended up becoming Mister Big Damned Hero, saved the world but couldn't save myself. My benefactor is probably still trying to find me, but it isn't easy work sifting through the myriad of differing worlds and circumstances, trying to find one lost dog. The process itself is a lot like sifting through a sandy beach in the hope of finding that something you lost, while the sea foam waves just keep lapping away at the shoreline, scouring all traces of a beginning or an end.

Still, I was alive, for a fact. She knew it, could feel it, like a nasty crik in her neck from sleeping without her favorite pillow, and that alone was enough to keep her determination going, until she found me. After all, I was her responsibility, and if there was one thing the Grand Duchess Rachel Alucard didn't shirk on, it was noblesse oblige.

Me? Shoot... I mellowed out. After a couple thousand years, watching humans go from caveman to the dawn of civilization, only to shoot themselves in the foot, and slowly bungle their way out of the dark ages towards the light once more, it tends to put all of my problems in perspective. I've met a lot of interesting characters in my journey, probably steered the course of history more than I should have, but when you're arguably one of the strongest life forms on the planet, you can't help but exercise your power.

Going from seithr to a new fuel was tough, still I got over that hump in good time, since being an "abnormal" gave me all the time in the world to get my act together. Too bad old habits die hard, so I never did make much of a good wizard, not that it matters, cause I never did like playing by the rules either. I make my own rules, just like I make my own luck nowadays.

Being a self-appointed steward of humanity, when the world doesn't need saving from itself, wanderlust takes me and I go wherever the wind obliges, which happened to be the outskirts of a sleepy, rustic hamlet in Wales on that particular day. As per my usual M.O., I camped out and could give less than a damn for the below zero freezing temperatures. I'm not one of the strongest for no reason and catching a death from the common cold wasn't going to do jack to me; that said, it didn't help I hadn't held a regular paying job in ages, so negotiating a room at a respectable establishment might have been kinda hard.

Then again, I had a lot on my mind and sleeping out under the stars tends to help me think, usually. I was considering going into hibernation again. See, the last decade or so had been pretty peaceful, after I managed to avert a potential nuclear holocaust by the humans, with a little help from a handful of mages and like-minded individuals.

I tell you, it was the worst morning ever to wake up and realize that humanity had reached the atomic age, because they woke me up by blowing up a nuclear bomb as my alarm clock, not once, but twice! Ever since then, I had been really leery about going back for a long cat nap, but now that everything seemed to be under control, I figured I was entitled to a siesta. Besides, I had a contingency plan in place that should prevent World War III, with any luck. Before going our separate ways, I made it a point to get the message across to some influential individuals that just because they live on Mars or some other dimensional plane that the business of Earth was still highly relevant to them.

After all, if Earth went to shit, while I was on vacation, I would come back a really, really pissed off "Mister I'm-Not-A-Very-Nice-Person", and people would learn once again why I had epithets. Titles like, "The Hound of Hell", "The Black Beast", and vice-versa, weren't just for show. I earned every single one of them, and the mountains of carrion flesh, consisting of the broken bodies of my enemies vouched for me in full.

If you want to live a long happy life, you don't piss off Ragna the Bloodedge; prayer won't save you, when I come a-calling, yeah.

Unfortunately, I've also earned some nasty names that I don't happen to fancy but are true to a fault. Some call me "The Calamity Trigger" because if I happen to arrive at your front doorstep, you know that's an omen that something horrible is about to happen. It might not be to you, it might be to someone else you know, or it could be a totally unrelated happening. I always think it's crazy talk, until I see the results for myself, and every time it happens, the jinx cuts a little deeper into my conscience.

When I woke up in the middle of the night, I had to tell myself it was all superstition; that there was no way I could be responsible for a town going up in smoke and flame because I happened to be sleeping nearby. For a second, I thought it was the worst of my nightmares all over again, except as I stormed through the once sleepy hamlet, there were no bodies---and no laughter. Broken homes as far as the eye could see, like a war had come through here, leaving chips of sundered stonework and masonry littering the snow ladened roads that showed signs of recent foot traffic.

A scene out of hell, but there was no blood or bodies, just hints of the terrible violence that had taken place. Busted in doors, shattered windows, caved in houses, and the local clocktower was no more than a raging inferno, yet somehow a couple hundred people had just evaporated into thin air. It didn't make any sense, and I couldn't get a read at all on who could have done this, any traces of the perpetrators long gone, to my best reckoning. A complete, perfect holocaust was the conclusion I came to accept, grudgingly.

Like I said, I mellowed out. Stuff happens, tough luck; crying over your own damn powerlessness isn't going to bring dead people back---but grieving is necessary. After all, you need to check out that baggage, before you can make sure something that horrible never makes you cry again.

Still, you bet the little kid in me shed a tear, both in sadness and joy, when I came upon a scene, amongst all that tragedy. It made me believe again in that old saying, "If you know where to look, you can always find a little bit of hope." The boy had made it pretty far out, right at the edge of town no less. Huddled down in about a half a foot of snow that just kept on piling up, I would've missed the little lucky bastard in my haste, if he hadn't made a noise.

The kid was crying, a pathetic whimper that'd make anyone with a heart uncomfortable. Of course, he was justified, considering his hometown wouldn't be much more than a memory in a few hours. So great was his grief, he didn't take notice of me, even when my shadow loomed over him. I knew it'd be rude as hell to interrupt, but I didn't want to risk him going catatonic on me, or else it'd really put a damper on my plans, namely finding out what happened here.

"Well, squirt," I drawled out, taking a stab at the local Welsh, "spaking from experience here, doesn't this just suck balls?"

Yeah, I'm multilingual, are you surprised? Well, the kid seemed to be surprised just to meet another human-ish being out here. He froze up with a violent shudder for a second, before whipping about at me, real fast, like a striking viper. Fast for a human but slow as molasses for an abnormal like me, I hardly paid any attention to the singed air left in the wake of a magick'd fire arrow slice through the space my head used to occupy.

Actually, I was quite impressed and not miffed in the slightest. The ability to use magic in one so young was rare. Children, in general, didn't really become competent magicians until they reached the beginnings of adolescence. It takes time and a lot of effort to get it right, but here I was, almost shot in the face by a wee little kid, who couldn't have been more than four or five years old.

Still, it would've been polite of him to apologize, as the laughable star-headed wand dropped through his nerveless fingers. He gaped up at me, a black fear coloring his paling complexion, the death grip he held on a piece of stone grew tighter. It looked like he was trying to protect it more than his own life.

The fear I couldn't blame him for... After all, wouldn't you crap a sack, if a tall, dark silver-haired stranger in red, carrying a ridiculous slab of metal he called a sword appeared out of nowhere and just dodged a perfect, point-blank surprise attack by wasting no more motion than cocking his head aside? I wouldn't do something so disgraceful, but I sure as hell will start reevaluating my options, while sweating bullets.

I struck a black clad finger towards the kid's face, as if I was about to scold him.

"Ho there, shut your milktooth mouth, ye little bugger, before I close it for ye," it was a jest delivered in bored tones that made him flinch anyways. "...Just do wot ye have to do, all right? Cry or wotever. When ye're ready, I promise, I'll take ye somewhere safe, and we'll figure this mess out. Deal?"

When the auburn-haired little wonder articulated my words, he saw me in a totally different light. His hoarse words came tumbling out from a small, shaken voice, "I can't... cry anymore, sirrah."

"It's not sirrah that's Master to ye," I rebuffed him gruffly, crossing my arms over my chest to convey emphasis, "which I do explicitly say so. And since ye're done, let's get on with it: are ye comin'---or are ye staying?"

"C-Coming? With who?" the boy spoke, as if hearing me for the first time, really.

I shook my head agitatedly. Terrific, it seemed he had been so out of it, he totally missed my preamble. "Wit' me, ye git. Tsk... Look, little magus."

"Magus?!" the kid interjected, his red-rimmed eyes brightening with an eager spark that I could only call hope. "Th-then you are?"

A hope I had to crush because I wasn't anything close to his naive expectations.

"I'm not a Magister Magi if that's what ye're hoping for, but I know how the Magic Society works. Anyways, listen: there's nobody to bury, ye get me? ...Not that I've seen any to wonder. Wot can I be certain of, is that all of this will be just ashes and echoes, a memory by the morning, and we needs to clear out before wotever lot did this---comes back."

"Clear...out?" the boy tasted my expression for a bit, chewing it over, before his eyes flashed in explosive outrage. "YE MEAN, RUN AWAY?!"

I shrugged, wholly unmoved by the caustic glare he sent my way, "Well, that was the idea since the beginning, ye bloody ass."

"No. no. N-NO!" he screamed shrilly at me, anger overtaking his body like pained convulsion, screwing his eyes shut. "I won't, I won't go! Th-the demons. Demons did this! I... I have to get them back. Get them all back! For my sis. For auntie and uncle. For everyone!"

"Oh, really?" I knew I shouldn't have baited him, but I needed to figure out his limits. The children of mages can be unexpectedly mature for their age, an important survival mechanism in their kind, since magical potency tends to peak rather fast. "How many daemons were there, huh?"

"I, I dunno! Lots. An army!"

"An army, ye say? Fan-flipping-tastic! Enjoy yeself with that, 'cos I'm leaving."

"Wot?!" he squawked, anger now forgotten to be replaced by disbelief. It spoke volumes for his naive expectations of what I could be, and how far Good Samaritans were obliged to act.

So I laid down the law to him, "I admit freely I'm strong, but even I know fighting an army of daemonkin by meself is detrimental to me health. I'm not a sucker, and I'm not an idiot either. If ye gots a brain between those brown eyes of yours, ye'll understand ye needs to go, too, boy. It's nothing short of a miracle ye're alive right now. Don't let that providence go to waste; a lot of other folk weren't so fortunate, understand?"

Suffice to say, he didn't take it too well. His sore eyes watered and his nose began to run again, as a wave of despair crashed down onto that tiny soul, and the stone chunk he held so deathly against his body tumbled from his grasp.

"B, But, sis! Sis is... I can't just...!"

Curiosity piqued, I bent down and picked it up to examine, turning it around in my hands like a pawnbroker might appraise a potential piece of merchandise. What I beheld, I thought at first, was a tasteful caricature, part of a larger sculpture likely. Alas, all I had in my hands was half of a face, to which must've been a depiction of a beautiful woman in gentle repose. As far as keepsakes went, this seemed to be rather impractical, but...

"...This your sister?" I asked him skeptically. See, I couldn't shake this odd feeling that the stonework was well, uncanny; way too uncanny, like I had a piece of the actual model in my own two hands. That can't be right. Right?

"Y, yes... She, she protected me. Th, they... The demons turned, turned everyone into stone... AND BROKE THEM TO PIECES!"

Suffice to say, it took a lot of cajones to not freak out and destroy my cool, dark, and snarky image at the time. I'm an expert at bloody mayhem and destruction, but it doesn't mean I'm the kind of sick bastard who enjoys examining his handiwork after the fact.

"Petrifaction, huh?" I say in a relaxed, clinical tone that didn't belie any of my own shock, as I bent back down and handed the disturbing evidence back to the kid. Thank god for gloves, or I swore he would've seen my skin crawling from the deed done. "Well, that explains a few things. Tsk. ...I hate to be the bearer of grim tidings, but it's too late to save her, or anyone. If she was whole, we might've been able to reverse the curse given time."

The kid didn't say a word. I had expected him to throw another tantrum, but it seemed he had arrived at that conclusion a while ago himself. Still, I didn't want to give him any ideas.

"...And for the record," I added in a dark, menacing tone, "I'm not an Endless Sorcerer."

Sadly, the import of which went right over his head; the kid staring up at me, with innocent curiosity, "An Endless Sorcerer?"

I sighed in exasperation. Clearly, it was going to be my responsibility to fix his bad habit of selective hearing. What a punk. "The short story: nasty monsters who play with life and death, like it's a game. Ye don't want to meet one. ...The girly version is an Endless Witch; same deal, but cruel in only the ways girls know how to be."

The kid digested the heavy gravity of my words with an eager childish, conspiratory nod, as if he could empathize with what I was saying. Damn fool; that was another habit I would have to fix. I can already see my colleagues and I having a very eventful decade.

"Now for the last time, are ye coming with me or wot?" I leveled a stern look at him, injecting a hint of murderous intent that even a kid couldn't mistake its meaning, just to make my intentions clear. "'cos I refuse to repeat meself again. Take a long, hard look around ye, all right?"

I gestured with a sweeping wave of my hand at the hellish scene all around us, a burning desolation, crackling, spent of life that would rob a grown man of hope, as snow, tainted by the black plumes of smoke, fell like ash.

"There's nothing left for ye here. Understand?"

Suddenly, the boy remembered where he was, his lip quivered, and once more his face broke out in a pitiful hung dog expression of broiling agony. Stupid runt. There was another habit I'd have to fix.

"...of course, I don't expect ye to forget wot happened here, but don't let it drag down your soul. Ye're too young to give up now, make this tragedy into your strength, and I guarantee, ye'll live long enough to see the end of it through some day. Bugger me, I. AM. the definite proof that rage is a hell of a reason to keep on living. Buck up, grit your rotten milkteeth and stand up!"

Right there was the make it or break it moment, the twenty-fifth hour, you could say? At first, there was dead silence, very disappointing dead silence. To be fair, this wasn't the first time I had done something so impulsive, as take in a runt from nowhere under my wing. I always had stronger paternal instincts than what was normal for most kids my age did back at a certain orphanage, some lifetimes ago. It was why the sisters and the priest liked to depend on me.

I closed my eyes and sighed inwardly. As an abnormal, it's a big faux pas to show how pathetically human you can be over the small stuff. Mortals are temporal, short-sighted creatures, and the road to hell is always paved with good intentions. If one person can't be level with you, screw 'em, and go find someone else. "Chosen Ones" are chosen for a purpose, like swords to be drawn in the hour of battle.

Too bad, I'm a sucker for getting attached to people. It's true I'm a vampire more or less, but in practice, I'm closer to an emotional vampire, not the psychological concept, but per wrote. I would've gone insane without companions on this long as hell haul through the ages. Sure, I look and act the part of a devil may care jerk, but inside, anybody who's been with me long enough knows I'm a damn big softie.

Most abnormals lose their humanity in their rise to stardom. It's no wonder I'm so damn unpopular and never get any invitations to the parties. Then again, you'd have to be a softie and a big damn crazy to be the one guy, who always, always stands up for the stupidity of humans.

In any case, the prospect of going on a siesta was looking brighter and brighter by the second. I turned around dismissively and began to stroll away in the sheets of falling ash-colored snow, with my back ramrod straight and not a stitch of regret in my long strides. Though I admit I was cheating with magic, so I could just walk on top of the snow, since my objective was just to get myself as far away from the kid.

...but then I remembered I promise to take him somewhere safe. You bet I was hacked off, when I had to turn on dime to double back, only to get a shout out in my face.

"HEY. Wait. For me!" it was the boy, red-faced from effort, running towards me full tilt.

The burning village was skylined on the horizon. I had no idea I had even walked this far, and to think the little rascal had been chasing me the whole time, while I had my head up the clouds.

"Bloody hell," I smirked at him wryly, as he came to a stop before me. "Wot are ye up to, bugger?"

"I, hah, could ask ye," he spoke between shuddering gasps of breath, bent over, hands on his knees, "the same thing, ye. flipping. wanker."

"Wanker? I didn't know lads as young as ye already knew such foul language. There might be hope for ye yet."

"Oh, shut up, ye," snorted the kid, now wearing the same smirk as me, an excellent imitation if I should say so myself.

"So, wot's your name, stupid-is?"

"Negi Springfield, Master!"

"Well, do follow me closely, young Springfield, for where we go there is no hell, only darkness. Yea, though ye walk through the valley of the shadow of death, where angels and demons fear to tread, ye will fear no evil, for ye will become. The Baddest. Extraordinary. Gentleman. In the Whole. Rutting. Valley!"

That was how I met the then young and innocent Doctor N. Springfield, and if I knew of how epic he'd become one day, I would've asked for his limited edition autograph then. To quote Samuel Jackson, "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyrannies of evil men..." though I wonder, if we over did it nurturing him into the snarky knight in sour armor wearing jaded glasses described in it. Good times, my friends; good times.

Now, Negi-yarou, as soon as I'm done regenerating from having you nail me to a cliff face with my own sword, you'd better hope to god I don't catch up with you any time soon. Sure, you thought it was hilariously ironic, but the joke stopped being funny right about the time I started emptying my own guts and blood all over the ground. And, young punk, I'm effing pissed. OFF.

~ The above is an excerpt from the pensieve of 13th Arbiter, Ragna the Bloodedge, circa 2012.


To be continued...