A/N: HELLO EVERYONE! It's been a long while and all of my exams are over! I'm done with University life! Which is sad because now I will have to face the working World. But for now, I will relax. I'm sure all of you have been somewhat anxious at me getting this done and truth be told, I'm quite excited myself to unveil this. My plan was to upload this on the first day of 2011, but the champagne and the late night partying got to my head. Not to mention Jet-lag.
Another problem I faced was the fact that after writing the first half, I feel as though this second half might be unable to reach the same standard, and I am aiming for something BETTER than the first. Normally that would be easy, but my brain refuses to do it this time properly. Oh well, we'll just have to go along with this for now.
Anyway, this time around, we will look away from Kou's point of view and centre our attention on a newcomer. I wrote out in the previous story that there was a recruitment phase. Because Kou is special and rather skilled, she skipped that process. This newcomer will go through it and much more. At least that's the plan.
You will see a lot of old faces (most of which you readers should know very well), and a lot of new faces. If you noticed for the first fic, I was writing in first person view all the way until Kou went berserk. That was intentional. It was to represent leaving sanity and now we'll observe things from a new person's point of view. Of course, I'm rather fond of writing in 3rd person format, so we'll stick to that, until it gets too confusing because of the 'he' and 'she'.
I really liked that extra episode, but not what I was expecting. Not at all Maeda... not at all. And if the second season is confirmed, I may be slightly irritated and may change some stuff. I like canon stuff.
Disclaimer: I do not own Angel Beats!, all of that belongs to Maeda Jun and the production members of Key. I also do not own any characters who came from my dear readers and fellow writers. Keeping doing what you all do. All other OCs and story ideas belong to me.
What We Live For
Lives lost, the battlefield of the fallen. Struggling to survive in a World where you risk your soul in a dangerous game to survive. Forever disappear in nothingness, or lose yourself in the madness of war. The memories of which these young brave souls hold onto, the lives which they never wish to leave. The proof of their existence. Each of them held onto a dark past, a secret that bound them to this World. Regret, despair, anger, hatred. Lives without hope, lives without meaning. They had lived a life that they never felt satisfied with. A life that only caused them more pain and anguish than before.
Each walked down their own path, each had their own story to tell. At the end of each road, their lives would only amount to such a level. They could not tell you how they lived. They can only tell you how they died. Yet, such negative emotions were what chained them to that wretched World. A World in which they have to constantly battle an enemy that never disappears, an enemy that never rests, and an enemy that will never give up. They grow tired and weary of this battle, but still cling onto to survive. They are willing to fight with everything they have to secure their one treasure. Their very existence. Something so simple yet so complex. The proof of their worth, of their lives. The footprints of their past and the blood the battles won and lost. For such a prize they are willing to fight for it. It is what they are willing to die for.
The young man looked up at the young woman who stood before him with a pistol aimed at his head. The two looked at each other without a word. Not even with all of the sounds of gun fire, or the explosions around them made them look away.
"Are you alive?"
And thus, the fateful meeting.
An explosion caused him to stir. Something wasn't right. His ears were ringing. He slowly opened his eyes, finding himself staring up to a star covered night sky. Was it night time? He slowly got up, feeling slightly out of it as his body was aching from head to toe. Rubbing the large lump on the back of his head, he looked up. Straight down the barrel of a rather large pistol.
He looked at the girl who held the gun. A beautiful girl with long flowing hair and a pair of fierce, determined and rather scary eyes. But somehow he could see something else behind those eyes. A deep void. An emptiness behind those dark eyes. As he continued to look at her, she continued to look at him. Loud gun fire from other people dressed in similar uniforms to her as they attacked dark mist like creatures did not even phase their gaze. The young man and the young woman did not blink, nor say anything. Just looked at each other. To be honest, their staring was quite long and rather unnatural. And so the first to say something, was-
"Die you scumbag."
The girl said, pulling the hammer of her pistol back.
"... EH? Isn't that sentence a little wrong? What happened to the 'fateful meeting' part? You're line is completely wrong!"
The young man shouted back in defence, hoping to stave off what would perhaps be a rather quick and fateful end.
The girl clucked her tongue in irritation.
"That's rather insulting."
"Fine... Are you alive?"
She asked in the most lazy and irritated voice she could muster.
"Please do this seriously!"
The young man sighed, shaking his head as he gave up the prospects of this story going anywhere.
"So, are you alive?"
The girl asked once more.
"... Probably. I think."
The girl studied him for a while longer, as though trying to find some fault in him. Was it really that bad? Then, she extended out her arm to him. He stared at her gesture with some puzzlement and confusion.
"Take my hand."
The young man seemed slightly hesitant, but took her hand anyway. With surprising strength, she pulled him up to his feet.
He said, dusting his pants, but when he looked back up to her, he saw her draw her sword quickly at him. He barely had time to blink just as her blade stopped a mere inch from his neck. He stood there in shock, his mind blanking out as the steel edge was just a hair's breath away from his skin. He could feel his own sweat trickle down and get caught by the blade. But an inhuman shriek from behind made him turn, and he saw something large and black right behind him. The girl twisted her blade and cut upwards, slicing through the shadowy creature with ease. The shadow gave an inhuman shriek before disappearing into a strings of ones and zeroes. The girl sheathed her blade and turned around, heading back to a classroom while more students wearing the same kind of uniform she was wearing charged on past her in the opposite direction.
He called out to her but to no avail. Just where was this place? And what was that thing just now? Everything was a little too intensive and too quickly for him to register it properly.
"Give it up, kid. Kou isn't the type of girl to give you a second look even if you were God on Earth."
A rather strong arm gripped his shoulder. He turned to see a girl standing there wearing a beret and having her right sleeve rolled up. He also did not miss the large cleaver she was carrying.
"That's 'Captain Kurogane' to you, Takamachi."
Another girl said, walking over with a stare nasty enough to make the young man wince. The second girl had her long hair tied into a ponytail and she had headphones wrapped around her neck that was blaring out some loud rock music. The first girl, Takamachi, sighed and waved the second girl off.
"You don't need to be so uptight about it. No one here actually follows the ranking system anyway. Besides, Kou doesn't care."
"Fine, fine. Go ahead and call her that. I'm sure Kou will finally 'appreciate' you for it."
Takamachi replied in a sarcastic tone, earning a glare from the second girl.
A loud explosion from the battle up ahead cut her off.
"Erm... i'm not too sure what is happening, but shouldn't the two of you be doing something about that?"
The young man asked. Takamachi looked at him with a raised eyebrow, then looked down and noticed his uniform. It wasn't like theirs.
"You're an NPC?"
Takamachi asked, suddenly jumping back and raising her weapon defensively as though he was the enemy.
"Wa-wait a minute! NPC? What's that? Stop pointing such dangerous things at me!"
"... You're not an NPC?"
Takamachi asked, before putting down her weapon.
"Come to think of it, if Kou rescued you-"
"Whatever. If Kou rescued you, it must mean you aren't an NPC... still, for a newcomer to appear right in the middle of a battlefield. You sure have some luck."
The young man replied, not sure if that was a compliment or not. Another explosion made him cower slightly, but the two girls did not seem fazed by it.
"Erm... isn't there a battle going on or something? Everyone seems to be charging towards the explosions so-"
"Oh, a large group of Shadows appeared, so the entire Assault division was mobilized. We were sent in too, but it looks like there isn't much for us to do, so we're heading back."
The young man was clearly confused at this point. Takamachi noticed this and slung her arm around his shoulder with a smile.
"Don't worry, everything will be clear later. For now, let's get off this field and find some nice Key Coffee to rest our shoulders. Welcome to the afterlife."
The young man was led out of the battlefield, which was later revealed to bethe track field of some school. There were hundred of students, all wearing similar uniforms that were completely different from what he was wearing. All bearing the insignia of 'SSS2'. More armed students ran past them in the hallway of the building Takamachi and the second girl led him into, while some other students were carrying the injured and bandaging their wounds. This was a war zone, a place no kid should be. But no one seemed to care about the carnage that was going on around them. Even Takamachi was humming a merry tune as she led the way through the hall towards the end of the corridor. It was slightly odd, maybe she didn't have any normal feelings? What if he was being led by a maniac? But others did not seem to pay Takamachi's humming any heed. Rather, he noticed that the students who saw Takamachi and the second girl all had a certain look of relief, and... respect?
"It's the shinigami! The shinigami are back!"
One of the injured spoke up excitedly.
"That means we're winning this battle!"
Another exclaimed, and almost like magic, the entire place seemed to liven up with cheers and smiles. What was going on? In the first place, how can you be so happy that the death Gods are back? Takamachi led the young man into a room at the end of the corridor, and the first thing the young man noticed about the room was the lack of furnitures. Only a single long table in the middle of the room, and several study desks pushed the side of the room. Standing over the table was a small girl, pouring over maps and documents that were scattered over the table. She seemed to be too focused on the documents to even take notice of Takamachi and the young man's entry into the room.
"Kou, we're back."
Takamachi said, walking over to the side of the room and placing her large cleaver down, as well as placing her weapons and equipment down beside her larger weapon. She then walked over to the other end of the room, where the young man noticed a lone figure sitting on one of the study desks against the window with one leg propped up on the table. The pale moon light illuminating her soft and expressionless face. A giant scythe in her hand made her seem like a dangerous existence, yet somehow so empty. That girl. It was her who pointed her weapon at him and also saved him. The first person he met in this World. Her beauty greatly amplified by the rays of the moon, giving her an unnatural grace that was seductively intoxicating. Almost like-
"... An angel."
The young man muttered under his breath without realizing it. But that sentence seemed to trigger an immediate reaction as the 'angel' suddenly drew a STI Edge custom and fired a round straight at him. The bullet missed slightly, grazing his cheek and drawing blood. The entire event happened so suddenly that no one even registered what happened till ten seconds had past after the event.
"Don't... you dare... mutter that word in here."
The girl with the smoking gun glared at him. Though her eyes and her overall presence seemed to show an empty existence, there was a lingering hatred in her tone when she said that.
"Okay, let's put that away before you make someone lose an eye."
Takamachi said, making the girl, Kou, put her weapon down.
"... Yukari, why is that guy here?"
Kou asked, pointing to the young man.
"Well, he's a new guy, so i thought i could bring him along until this night dies down. Then we can hand him over to Yuki. Besides, i think Fort is rather busy at the moment."
Takamachi replied simply, though it seems too simplified to the young man. Kou did not say anything, narrowing her eyes at the young man before looking back out of the window.
"Sorry about that, our leader can be slightly cranky at times."
Yukari told him when she walked over back to him.
He wondered out loud, still able to grasp the entire situation entirely.
"Yeah. Officially, we're known as the Guardians, a specialized anti-non-human unit. We work separately from the other five divisions and have sometimes been called the 'spec ops' of the SSS2. Unofficially, we've been called the 'shinigami', since our leader is the rather infamous 'reaper'. Kurogane Kou may look like a pretty face, but trust me when i say that you don't want to mess with her."
Yukari smirked, hinting the young man's entrancement with the mysterious leader of this 'shinigami' squad. His face turned slightly red at that.
"Get too close to her, and you might have your head permanently cleaved off. Don't think any healing or revival can undo that. Of course, you can worry about that after you get through our dear self-proclaimed second in command, Amatsu Len."
Yukari pointed to the second girl who was with them when walking over here. Len glared at the young man from across the room, slamming a clip into her pistol with the slight inclination of her wanting to use it on the man.
"She's rather attached to our dear leader, almost to a fault. Just try not to get on her bad side... which is try not to talk to her at all."
Just how bad can she be? The young man decided that this whole room of girls must be crazy. He isn't too far off.
"The one pouring over the maps is Minami Shino-chan. She's our operator and strategist. She's really smart, though rather timid and naive. Let's see... most of our members are out finishing up the battle, but there should be one person whom you should know of because you'd never know where she may pop up. Asakura Shion is our sniper. She doesn't like it if you don't call her by her name, so be careful. Last, but not least, is me. Takamachi Yukari, at your service. Anything from moving bulldozers to destroying a building, just call on me."
Yukari smiled while beating her chest with great confidence. The young man seriously did not expect this girl to be taken seriously, but then again, nothing can be taken at face value so far. Maybe she could really move a bulldozer. Still, something bugged him.
"... Are there any guys?"
He asked, noticing the obvious lack of testosterone in the room.
"Oh, there are, just not a lot. You'll meet them eventually, if you're transferred into this unit, that is. Of course, this unit is special where you don't get picked out from the recruitment batch, but rather WE pick YOU from other divisions. Everyone in this unit had been with the SSS2 for at least three years before our Kou will allow them into the unit. Which is why we only number twenty."
Unit? Now things were really getting confusing.
"Erm... I'm not too sure what is going on here. Can someone explain all of this to me? What is all of this mean? What is this place?"
The young man asked, causing Yukari to stop and stare at him with a blank expression, before she realized her own mistake.
"Oh, sorry about all that. I'm not used to introducing new comers to this World. That job is usually up to Tanaka over at Fort. Have a seat, this might take some time."
Yukari pointed to a desk over by the side of the room. Not too sure what she meant by this gesture, the young man walked over to the desk and sat on it. Yukari sat on the desk opposite him, brushing her bangs away from her eyes before beginning.
"This is the afterlife, like i said before. We are souls that linger on after death, bound by the chains of regret. In this World, there are those who look human, but are not. Like mere robots, they go about to classes in this school like it is all normal. However our prolonged presence in this World must have caused a fail-safe system to occur, causing some of these 'general students' to transform into large dark monsters we call 'Shadows'. I'm sure you remember one of those things."
The young man remembered it clearly. The monster that was behind him and Kou rescued him from it. But something bothered him about what Yukari said.
"What we have discovered is that this World works according to certain specific rules. Much like a computer program, there are things we can do and things we cannot do. So if we think about it like a computer program, it would be much easier to understand, as well as it being easier for us to stay sane while fighting our enemies."
Yukari explained, before continuing on.
"We fight these creatures as they have a strange ability to convert us into those mindless 'general' students."
The young man felt nothing but dread from that word. Somehow or rather it sent fear throughout his entire body, but it also seemed something more mysterious than that. It was hard to place what exact word could describe the strange feelings he was having with this concept.
"Some of the guys here like to call it 'Eating'. Can't say it would make things more interesting, but if that's what they want to call it, then sure."
Whatever strange feeling he had was gone the moment Yukari said that. So much for breaking the mood.
"Anyway, we're all trying to stay alive in this World, which can be rather ironic, considering that we're all already dead. But..."
Yukari trailed off for a moment, her eyes shifting to her mysterious leader. That slightly long pause seemed to emphasize on something sad, something dark, something that would weigh heavily on everyone. This was some emotional strain that the young man could feel and comprehend, but unable to understand.
"... But we're all just doing what we must."
A/N: So? How do you guys think? It's slightly awkward at the start, but I'm sure it will be better later. I hope, at least. Anyway, I have not written out much since I need to settle some stuff on my personal end. I'm sure I'll be able to submit something soon.