Author Notes: As you can see, we have a cover page for this story now. I asked the talented "Princesswanted" of Deviantart to draw this for me, and she did a fine job again. In addition to this, she has also provided concept designs for Yuudai, Ai, and a childhood Touma based on the descriptions I have given her. She is truly a gifted artist, and I thank her for her drawings.
The time has come to put an end to the penultimate story before the direct sequel for "Birth of the Devil." Writing a story with another character as the protagonist has been a lot of fun, and this will not be the only time I will do it. There will be several stories in the future that will give other characters their "Day in the Limelight." That will have to wait until after the following side story's completion.
However, I believe all of these stories will be important in the long run. They will all be connected in one way or another, and it is always fun to see how other characters shape up the plot as well. After all, Touma may be the main character but even Kamachi Kazuma-sensei has said there are plenty of things happening in the background that Touma is unaware of.
I hope you enjoy the conclusion for "Tales of a Child Error," and I hope you will leave a review. I would greatly appreciate it.
Of Science and Magics – The Side Stories
Side Story III – Tales of a Child Error
Part III (Final) – Revelations
The truth is bitter
But it is better to know
You need to accept
The Anti-Skill set up a perimeter around the scene. The Anti-Skills were getting ready to transport the frauds into custody while Teshio gave her statement.
Teshio explained to her fellow Anti-Skill, "I saw those men were ready to execute the poor kid, but I was able to intervene in time. However, by the time I was finished fighting and handcuffing them, the kid was gone." Teshio then scratched the back of her head, "I can't really blame him. He was probably too afraid of what might happen next."
The questioning Anti-Skill asked, "Do you have any idea of where the kid ran off too?" For some reason this Anti-Skill was wearing her helmet, so Teshio could not clearly see her face, but Teshio decided not to question the woman. Teshio figured it was the woman's preference to wear her helmet out in public, so the civilians would not be able to recognize her.
Teshio crossed her arms and said, "No idea. I only met the kid, so we didn't have a lot of time to exchange pleasantries. I don't even know his name."
The Anti-Skill decided to keep pressing Teshio for information, "Do you remember what he looked like?"
Teshio said with a straight face, "I was too distracted by how filthy he looked to pay attention to anything else. My impression was that he had been living on the streets for a while."
While the Anti-Skill seemed to believe Teshio, she was clearly not satisfied with that answer. "I see."
Without needing the Anti-Skill to ask another question, Teshio said, "After this incident, I doubt that the kid would be willing to approach any Anti-Skills in the near future."
Even though the woman figured Teshio probably did not know the answer to this question, she asked it anyway, "Do you have any idea why these men would go to such lengths and pretend to be Anti-Skills just to kill that kid?"
Teshio scratched the back of her head again and said, "I have no idea. I decided to save the kid first and ask questions later."
After the three fake Anti-Skill were placed in the Anti-Skill van the helmet wearing Anti-Skill who was questioning Teshio entered the van as well. The prisoners talked amongst themselves for a little while not realizing they were being driven off course. After a little while, the van came to a stop.
One of the frauds fearfully said, "Why did we stop? We're not there yet! HEY!"
The Anti-Skill who was still wearing the helmet said, "So you failed to kill the little brat."
The prisoners realized the voice belonged to someone they did not want to see again anytime soon. One of them said, "That voice . . . oh crap!"
The Anti-Skill removed her helmet and revealed her face. It belonged to none other than Therestina Lifeline. "I hope you realize the consequences of that!" The malevolent look in her eyes would be enough to scare anyone.
All three of the fake Anti-Skills were terrified. One of them even said, "NO! Anything but that! Please give us another chance! Please!"
An hour later, Teshio was finally able to leave the scene, and she returned to her apartment. It was a spacious and luxurious. Being able to live in fine apartments such as these was one of the perks of being an Anti-Skill.
While they are not paid for their Anti-Skill duties, they are allowed to live in these apartments rent free. However, in order to make a living, Anti-Skills generally have to work at another job. There are Anti-Skills, such as Yomikawa Aiho who also works as a teacher. After arriving in her apartment she said, "You find the place all right kid?"
Yuudai walked up to her with a much cleaner appearance and said, "It was not a problem."
Two hours earlier
Yuudai had told Teshio everything he knew about what happened during the attack and his suspicions that someone may have been in on it. Yuudai also explained that it was his fault that his friends might be dead. Tears swelled up in Yuudai's eyes. After finishing his explanation, the tears finally began to trickle down his face. "As far as I can tell, I'm the only one who escaped." Yuudai never cried so hard in his life.
Teshio pitied the poor boy because there were similarities in their backgrounds. Unfortunately, she was not used to dealing with children, so she was not sure how to console Yuudai. While pondering this, she remembered something that might help, "You were not the only one."
Yuudai was confused by this, "Huh?"
Teshio said in an optimistic tone, "I remember the report regarding that incident. It indicated that there were a fair number of Child Errors that were unaccounted for. There is a chance your friends may have escaped."
Yuudai began to look hopeful, "Do you really think so?"
Teshio chose her words carefully. If she said the wrong thing, she would get his hopes up too high, but if she did not say something reassuring, she could make him feel worse. "I definitely think it is possible."
Yuudai decided to accept what Teshio told him, "Thank you. I will begin my search at once."
Before Yuudai had a chance to leave he was stopped by Teshio, "I am not going to let you do this alone." Teshio patted Yuudai's head, "I'll help you to the best of my ability. It would be very irresponsible and inhumane of me to ignore your plight right?"
Yuudai was almost speechless and barely able to mutter, "Thank you."
"It's not a problem." Teshio quickly wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it along with a key to Yuudai. "Do you know where this is?" Yuudai nodded. "Good. You can stay there until we work something out. Now go. I need to make sure these guys are properly arrested." After Teshio gave Yuudai a head start, she called her fellow Anti-Skill to help transport the fake criminals to holding.
Little did Yuudai and Teshio know they were being watched from a nearby building by a rather large man. He chuckled, "Well isn't this an interesting development."
"It was not a problem. I appreciate you telling me to come here and providing me a spare key." Yuudai sheepishly said, "I hope you don't mind that I used your shower and washing machine."
Teshio immediately assured Yuudai, "I don't mind. You looked like you could really use it." Teshio then realized, "Are those your only pair of clothes?"
Yuudai gravely said, "Yes. When I left the facility, I did not have the luxury of packing my clothes. It was a do or die situation."
Teshio thought about this problem out loud, "This is quite a predicament. It might be too dangerous for you to go out and buy the clothes on your own. If I buy clothes for you, I might attract some unwanted attention as well."
Yuudai was unsure of what he could do to help solve this problem, "So does that mean I will probably need to keep wearing these clothes then?" Yuudai thought to himself, "There are worst things than that, but if people notice I am always wearing the same clothes, that could also attract attention."
"Give me a minute. There might be something we can do about this." After thinking this over, Teshio came up with an idea, "I think I have a solution for this, but I am not sure if you will be okay with it."
While Yuudai was open to suggestions, he had a feeling he would not like where this was going, "What is it?"
Teshio was hesitant to say this, but she said it, "All of the clothes of your friends in the Child Error Facility are going to be donated. I could provide a distraction, so you can pick some of the clothes."
Yuudai understood what Teshio was trying to do, and he could not fault her for it. After all, she was trying to help him, but he was understandably hesitant to go along with this. Teshio thought, "Maybe that was a little too insensitive." She said, "I'm sorry. That was probably not a good thing to suggest."
Yuudai assured her, "No it's all right. I am the one who put you in this situation. You are just trying to help me. I'll do it. I don't think my friends would hate me for that given the circumstances. However, there is one thing we need to do first if you don't mind."
"What would that be?" Teshio questioned.
"I need to find my friends." Before Teshio could say anything else, Yuudai explained, "You saw what happened with me. I would be dead now if you hadn't saved me. If my friends were successful in escaping like I was, they might be targeted the same way."
Teshio knew Yuudai had a point, but she needed to work out a compromise. If they did not plan this out well, it could put both of them in danger. "I understand. In that case, I will head off to the Anti-Skill office first thing in the morning to see if there have been any possible leads reported and then we will get you new clothes. We can discuss possible strategies for helping your friends after we accomplished both tasks." Yuudai seemed more satisfied by this plan, "After all, it would be recommended that you have a variety of outfits at your disposal when we go out in public. Wearing the same outfit in public might have been one of the factors that drew their attention to you in the first place. When we do this tomorrow, I would recommend you find at least one hoodie sweatshirt. It is cold out, so wearing one shouldn't attract too much attention."
Yuudai could not argue with Teshio's reasoning, "Good point."
As promised, Teshio went to the Anti-Skill office the following day, but there were no new leads regarding the unaccounted for Child Errors. She did find out that one of Yuudai's friends, Sasaki Ai, was among the list of known casualties. However, Teshio also found out that the one known as Kamijou Touma was not on either list. Apparently, he was listed as 'transferred' several months ago which contradicts what Yuudai had told her. If that was not enough, Teshio found out a different piece of vital information. Teshio causally asked her fellow Anti-Skill, Saigou Ryouta, "What happened to those Anti-Skill frauds I put away?"
Her associate was hesitant to answer the question, but he finally worked up the nerve to tell Teshio, "I don't know how to say this, but they are all dead."
Teshio was shocked, "What?! How did this happen?"
Ryouta said in a grave voice, "They apparently took some kind of suicide pill on their way to holding."
Teshio could not believe what she was hearing, "You have got to be kidding me."
"I am sorry but I'm not. These reports and the autopsy confirm it." Ryouta then handed Teshio the documentation.
Teshio feverishly looked at the reports and thought, "Something's not right. After I handcuffed them, I checked to see if they had anything like that at their disposal. Even if they did have something like that hidden away, the looks in their eyes didn't indicate they would even consider suicide. However, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised since they were cowardly enough to try and kill a kid, but something still doesn't add up."
Teshio and Yuudai's plan to secure more clothing for him was successful. While Teshio was able to occupy the workers' attention, Yuudai was able to sneak into the room where all the Child Error Facility clothes were. He took enough, so he could have a variety of outfits at his disposal, but he did not take enough that it would cause anyone to notice. Luckily, the workers had not counted the individual clothes yet, so they were less likely to notice some of the clothes were missing.
"If you don't mind me asking, why are you so willing to help me?" It's not like Yuudai was ungrateful. He just was not sure why Teshio was so willing to go to such great lengths for him even though she was an Anti-Skill.
Teshio sighed and answered, "I don't really want to compare our pasts, but there are similarities between your past and my own. It made me feel compelled to help you."
Yuudai decided at this time it would be for the best not to pursue this topic any further, "I see."
Teshio knew that she was going to need to tell Yuudai the information she found out about his friends, and it would be better to tell him sooner rather than later. She said to him, "When we get back to my apartment, there is something I need to tell you before we begin our search for your friends."
Yuudai just gave Teshio a nod and followed her back to her place.
Shortly after getting settled in at her apartment, Teshio wasted no time and said, "I am sorry to tell you this Yuudai, but your friends Ai, Botan, and Chidori are dead."
Yuudai was barely able to catch his breath. His knees gave way as he fell to the floor. The first words he could muster were, "No! Damn it! No!"
Teshio wanted to comfort Yuudai, but she was not sure how. After waiting for a few moments she said, "I'm sorry Yuudai. I understand how hard this must be for you, but you need to be strong."
After letting the news sink in, Yuudai said, "Thanks. You don't have to worry about me. What about the others?"
Teshio hesitantly told Yuudai, "Well some of the other names you asked me about such as Miyake Minato and Kobayashi Rise, were on the missing list."
Yuudai had some hope in his voice, "So does that mean they are still alive?"
Teshio wanted to avoid getting Yuudai's hopes up, but she had to give him something, "I think it is very possible."
This was more than enough to make Yuudai feel hopeful, but it was not enough to make him get over his guilt for Ai's death. While he still felt miserable about Botan and Chidori's deaths, there was nothing he could have done to help them. It was Ai's death that he felt he played a role in.
After sometime had passed, he said to Teshio, "I knew it was a mistake to send her and Touma down to the janitor's exit. I should have realized Touma would have missed it. It would be really hard for someone who never went through it to notice it. If only, I sent them to the kitchen area instead. I know they would have made it. How could I have been so careless and absent minded? I sent them both to their deaths."
Teshio thought to herself, "Now we're at another difficult part." Teshio informed Yuudai, "Actually regarding your friend Touma, there is no record of him being there."
Yuudai was shocked to hear this, "What?"
Teshio calmly explained, "The records indicate that your friend Touma had not been in the facility for the past six months."
Yuudai was dumbfounded by what he was hearing, "That has got to be joke. We spent almost every day with each other. If you look at the security footage in the Child Error Faculty you will see I am telling you the truth."
Teshio assured Yuudai, "I never said I didn't believe you. I really do. Unfortunately, retrieving any of the footage is impossible given the damage to the facility that was likely the work of an inside man. With everything I have been seeing lately, someone changing the records seems like a perfect way to cover something up. Nothing would surprise me now."
It took Yuudai a few minutes to process everything he just learned. Yuudai thought about what Teshio had said, "Touma's name was erased from the records. I just can't understand why someone would do that. Unless…" Yuudai had come to his own conclusion, "Are you saying that someone may have kidnapped Touma, and they are trying to eliminate any evidence?"
Teshio did not have anything else to say except, "It is possible."
After giving this some more thought, Yuudai said, "It does make sense. I am a witness to Touma's time in the facility. That same person must have wanted me dead, so I wouldn't be able to disprove that report. Besides, I know Touma would never let Ai die, and I know the opposite is true as well. They already killed Ai. I won't let them kill Touma as well."
Teshio was relieved to see how Yuudai was handling this. "For a second there, I was worried that you were going to blame everything on your friend Touma."
Yuudai explained, "You don't have to worry. I don't blame him. At least, I don't blame him yet. I want talk with him to know his side of the story. I need to hear what he has to say. He's still my friend, and I won't consider him otherwise until he himself gives me a reason. I know the time we spent with each other wasn't an act."
Over the next few days, I continued to live in Teshio's apartment. While I wanted to go out and look for my friends, Teshio was able to convince me it was too dangerous to leave the apartment too frequently because I could draw unwanted attention. If people noticed I was staying there, it could cause us some more problems. Instead, Teshio and I would wait until later at night before conducting our searches.
I remember on one day in particular we were running out of ideas when someone approached us. He was a man that would change our lives forever.
"It would appear you lack a sense of direction. If you are interested, I might be able to help you in that area." This person had a 'bear like' appearance and he approached us from the shadows. "Am I right Teshio-san and Yamasaki-kun?"
Although Yuudai did not show it, this man scared him. Yuudai did not want to seem rude to this person, and risk incurring the man's wrath, but he knew he needed a straight answer. "I'm sorry, but who are you, and how do you know our names?"
"I suppose that was rude of me to not introduce myself first. My name is Saku Tatsuhiko, and I am the leader of BLOCK." He said it in a friendly manner, but it was difficult to tell if he was sincere. "As for the names, that will have to wait for another time."
Teshio's eyes opened wide, and she said, "I have heard of BLOCK before. The original purpose of this group was to keep an eye on the level of cooperation from other institutions outside of Academy City. However, in recent years, rumors have spread the group's purpose has become far less noble."
Saku scoffed at Teshio's remark, "That may be true in the eyes of those ignorant of the true Darkness in Academy City. However, we wish to free ourselves along with many others from this darkness that is caused by the true leader of Academy City."
Yuudai asked, "What do you mean?"
Saku's response was, "This isn't the place to discuss such delicate matters. We may draw unwanted attention to ourselves if we cause too much noise. If you want to know more, you can follow me."
Yuudai asked Saku, "How are we suppose to know you aren't leading us into a trap?"
"You can't. It is just going to have to be a risk you are willing to take." Saku continued to walk off. Teshio and Yuudai reluctantly agreed to follow him.
After they arrived at one of Saku's hideouts, Saku decided it was time to continue his explanation, "You may not know this, but the name of Academy City's General Director is Aleister Cromwell. He has all the other Board of Directors wrapped around his fingers, and he could easily replace them if something unfortunate were to happen to any of them. This man is just as much your enemy as he is mine."
What the man said was not too hard to believe. Teshio thought, "I guess that explains the turnover rate," but she still had to ask, "How so?"
Saku explained in a manner of fact tone, "He is responsible or suspected of numerous incidents that have happened throughout Academy City, including the destruction of the Child Error Facility. However, he is always able to hide his involvement from the public, so only a handful of people know the truth."
This was more than enough to catch Yuudai's attention, "How can one man be responsible for so many events even if he is the General Director?"
Saku explained, "He has been able to utilize his power and influence to use people as chess pieces for years and cares little for them after they serve his purpose. Aleister does not always need to get his hands dirty when he can get plenty of other people to handle the tasks for him. As far as he is concerned, we are all his play things. However, there is plenty more."
Yuudai was almost too scared to ask, "What more could there be?"
"With what I know and what I have managed to piece together, I can tell you we haven't even scratched the surface." Yuudai and Teshio were speechless. They could not even begin to imagine what else there could be. "You'll understand that in all of Aleister's plans, he treats us all as if we were game pieces on a chess board. We are either his valuable pieces, like a knight or a bishop, or a sacrificial pawn. In your case, you are a pawn."
Yuudai was a little angered by that, but he understood that Saku was making a point rather than being outright insulting, "What do you mean? How do you know any of this?"
Saku was not about to divulge his secrets. "I have several informants. One of them told me that your friend Kamijou Touma was the only one who was not suppose to be harmed during the destruction of the Child Error Facility."
Yuudai thought back to what happened. "But I saw how Touma reacted during the attack. He was just as scared as I was."
Saku seemed to expect that, "I don't doubt that. I think their real objective was to bring Touma under their control willingly while simultaneously giving him motivation."
Yuudai was unsure of that last part. "Motivation?"
Saku explained with a slight hint of disgust in his voice, "People are more capable and willing to accomplish tasks when they have the proper motivation to do so. Unfortunately for you, that motivation came at the price of you and all your friends. This motivation Aleister wanted to use with your friend has been years in the making."
Yuudai was unsure of how to respond to his. He was not even sure how to process this. "I don't get it. What do you mean 'years in the making?'"
"Take a look at these." Saku handed Yuudai a number of documents. "These are records of the kids that were registered to live in the Child Error Facility for the past ten years. Until two years ago, your facility had continually registered a rather large number of new residents. As you can see, after your friend Touma started living there, the number of new arrivals quickly dropped to zero."
Yuudai looked over the records over and over again, and he could see that Saku was absolutely right. Yuudai did notice himself that the number of new residents that came to live in the Child Error Facility dwindled over the past two years, but he did not think much of it. He was fine with the friends he had, and he was enjoying himself. To him, nothing seemed like it was out of order.
Saku continued, "Did you ever think it was strange or were you too busy having fun to notice?" Yuudai did not answer his question, but Saku decided it would be better to continue his point. "Regardless, after your friend arrived, Aleister had finally acquired the new chess piece he desired. When it became apparent the boy was making friends, Aleister decided that there was no need to place anymore pawns in that facility."
Yuudai knew where this was going, and he did not like it in the least. "You can't be saying . . ."
Saku interrupted Yuudai, "I am. You and all your friends were merely sacrificial pawns in Aleister's plan. You said it yourself that you were one of Kamijou Touma's first friends, and he didn't have many others before you. Becoming friends with you was all part of Aleister's plan."
Yuudai was becoming more distressed, "You've got to be kidding."
Saku was brutally honest, "I'm not. In fact, it all makes sense now that you think about it. What better place for someone to get friends than living in a facility filled with orphans who have no families to call their own? It's a place where their only chance at happiness is to band together. Your purpose along with everyone else was to befriend Kamijou Touma and die during that incident to give your friend the motivation to willing participate in their experiments."
Yuudai's voice was becoming more shaken, "How could this Aleister have possibly known Ai and myself would become Touma's friends?"
Saku thought, "He's probably realized the truth by now, but I need to make sure I get this through to him." He said in a grave voice, "I doubt that he did. It was a matter of providing the boy numerous opportunities. Just because you and your fiends were orphans, it didn't mean all of you would become his friends. After all, we can't choose our family or lack of one, but we can choose our friends."
The implications of what Saku was saying was sinking in for Yuudai, "I understand that part, but are you saying that Aleister filled up the Child Error Facility with all of us hoping that at least one of us would befriend Touma?"
Saku answered, "That's exactly correct. Aleister wanted to give your friend plenty of chances to befriend any of you by supplying the facility with plenty of residents by any means necessary."
This struck a cord with Yuudai, "Well I have been an orphan since birth, so I was an easy one, but not everyone else was . . ." Yuudai remembered what Ai told him on that faithful day. She told him she was sold to pay off her family's debt. "Wait a minute. This can't be."
It was Saku's turn to be confused. "About what?"
"I was one issue, but Ai's situation was completely different. She said her parents' were in debt and they sold her off to get out of it." Yuudai was reluctant to ask this question, but he knew he had to. "Are you saying this Aleister could have been the cause of their problems just to get her into the Facility, so she might have a chance to become Touma's friend?"
Based on what Saku knew about Aleister, he figured, "It is a possibility."
Yuudai's voice had a mixture of confusion, anger, and distress, "How could this man go through the trouble of ruining people's lives just, so they can fulfill a single purpose?"
Saku gestured Yuudai to calm down, "I don't know. That is why we need to put an end to the Darkness of Academy City. If you join BLOCK, you will be able to help me resolve our common problem."
Seeing Yuudai was not in a condition to give any answers, Teshio decided to speak up, "How do you plan on doing that?"
While Saku would want to attack Aleister right that moment, he knew at this point it would be suicide, "I need to bide my time for the opportune moment to strike. Unfortunately, we lack the support or the means to conduct an offensive against Aleister. However, we do know his location." This caught their attention. "Have you ever heard of the Windowless building?"
Yuudai had no clue, but Teshio seemed to know.
Saku explained, "The Windowless building is where Aleister resides, but there is apparently no way in or out of the building. The only thing we can do is bide our time and wait for something to happen and find an opening. With all of Aleister's planning, there are weaknesses that we may be able to exploit if we time things right."
Teshio was listening more than Yuudai was. While Yuudai may have understood what Saku was saying, everything was happening too quickly for Yuudai. He was not sure if he should take Saku's offer, but he could not think straight. Instead, Yuudai decided to ask one more question. He asked nervously, "Please tell me. Touma isn't one of Aleister's subjects now is he?"
Saku thought, "He puts his friend first regardless of what I have said. A good show of loyalty. That's a virtue I will need." Saku answered Yuudai's question, "Not at all. It's quite the opposite really. When your friend left the Child Error Facility, he joined up with the Skill-Out. If anything, they would be against Aleister if they were aware of what I know."
"Thank goodness," Yuudai was relieved to hear that. "Then what are we waiting for. I need to tell Touma everything."
Yuudai was about to bolt before Saku stopped him. "That would be unwise."
Hearing Saku say that made Yuudai angry, "Why?! He's my friend. Our lives have already been played with enough by this monster. I need to help him anyway I can."
Saku said with brutal honesty, "You will not be doing yourself or him any favors if you try to warn him."
While Yuudai was angry that Saku was denying him his wish, Yuudai was still willing to listen, "Explain."
Saku gave Yuudai a long explanation, and he made sure Yuudai understood every word, "Haven't you realized the difference in your situations? Your friend is in the Skill-Outs, but Aleister is leaving him alone while you're out on the streets and you were nearly murdered. Your friend is probably in a much different place than what was originally part of Aleister's plan, but Aleister must not be worrying about it. Even if everything does not work out as he plans, he is capable of adapting to make the changes work in his favor. You on the other hand are a sacrificial pawn that was suppose to die weeks ago. If you're considered expendable or a liability, Aleister will want to make sure your dead. However, if you stay out of his radar, he might not choose to purse you any further. The very fact you have kept a low profile and befriended the right person are probably the only reason you're still alive."
Hearing this was making Yuudai's apparent uselessness more apparent. He was becoming more disillusioned by the second. Yuudai said, "You can't mean that . . ."
Before Yuudai had a chance to finish, Saku said, "I mean it exactly like that. If you choose to warn your friend of Aleister, chances are you will be killed and Aleister will become aggressive in obtaining what he wants from your friend."
Yuudai was confused, "But I thought he wouldn't harm Touma."
Saku explained to Yuudai, "Aleister won't kill him, but this wouldn't be the first time I have seen what happens to someone when Aleister chooses to take aggressive action. It was not pretty."
Yuudai did not respond, but he did make it clear that he understood what Saku was saying. The only thing he could do was sulk over his apparent uselessness.
After their discussion with Saku, Teshio and Yuudai told him they would consider his offer and returned to her apartment. There was an awkward silence the following day. Teshio decided it would be best to let Yuudai rest after being given all that information. It was certainly a lot for him to handle.
Teshio thought, "It might be a better idea to take this outside." Teshio excused herself from the apartment, "Yuudai I am going to go out for some fresh air. Do you think you will be okay?"
Yuudai had a depressed look on his face and said, "Yeah I will be fine."
Outside her apartment building Teshio was talking on the phone. "Did you find out the information I requested Saku?"
Saku responded, "Yes I have."
Teshio had a feeling of what the answer would be, but she asked anyway, "What did you find out?"
Saku said in a grave manner, "I am afraid you were right. I had my sources do a background check on all the Child Errors in that facility. For the Child Errors who were put into the facility shortly after they were born, all of their biological parents are dead. All of them died within a few weeks of placing their children in foster care. Apparently, a few of them regretted their decisions, and they were reversing their decision before it was too late. However, before they could do anything, they died." Saku flipped through the pages of his report, "They all died in ways that would be ruled as an accident or a suicide that wouldn't usually require an intense investigation. The authorities would probably not notice the pattern unless someone had a wider view of the circumstances."
"So the biological parents who unconditionally gave up their kids were murdered to prevent the chance of them possibly changing their minds while the ones in difficult situations were allowed to live because they weren't in a position to demand their kids back." Teshio's voice was becoming darker and sounded more disgusted by the second.
Saku continued to look over his report, "That seems to be the case."
There was something else Teshio did not understand, "Yuudai told me that he is older than his friend Touma. However, according to what you told me, Yuudai's biological parents were killed despite Touma not being born yet. What does that mean?"
Saku could only speculate the reason, "I am not sure. However, we can assume that this Kamijou Touma has something that Aleister desires. He might have known that someone who had what he desired would be born soon or Yuudai's parents were killed for another reason and Aleister's plans for him changed after that Touma boy was born."
"Yuudai told me the only place he remembered living at was the Child Error Facility. Based on what I am hearing, it seems like Touma was Aleister's target from the time he was born." The disgust in her voice had become more apparent as she curled her fingers into a fist. "It sickens me to think that Yuudai and the other Child Errors were being brought into that place for the purpose of getting slaughtered like pigs."
Saku said in his usual tone, "It isn't a pleasant thought, but it seems to be the truth."
Teshio at this point did not care to hide her ever growing distaste for this Aleister. "How could Aleister destroy so many lives just to bring one person into his reach?"
That was another question Saku did not have the answer too. "I don't know. I have had a hard time wrapping my head around this as well. All I know is that he wants to achieve some kind of result that I doubt many of us will be happy with."
A few moments went by without either of them saying anything. Teshio decided to break the silence. "I haven't made a final decision yet, but will you really be able to fulfill your promise. Will you be able to protect Yuudai and help me find answers to my past?"
Saku decided it would be a good idea to set the record straight with their deal, "Well I suppose I would be lying if I gave you any guarantees."
That was enough to satisfy Teshio, "I suppose no one can guarantee such a thing," Teshio responded, "Fair enough. We'll talk later."
As Teshio returned to her apartment, the room was silent and still despite Yuudai's presence, so she decided to break the ice, "I'm proud of you."
Yuudai was confused, "For what?"
Teshio explained, "For not blaming all of your problems on your friend Touma."
"Oh so that's why," Yuudai thought to himself. Yuudai said in a depressed voice, "How could I? Touma's a victim too. I know that for a fact that Touma would never sacrifice his friends or anyone regardless of the reason."
Teshio tried to lighten Yuudai's spirits, "Based on what you've told me about him I would agree with that assumption."
Yuudai ignored Teshio's comment. "I can't look at myself as being the only victim here nor should I look to blame Touma for all of these things. It seems to me that if this Aleister was interested in anyone else, he would have done everything the same way. As far as I am concerned, Aleister and all those who work under him are my enemies. I just hope Touma will never become one as well."
Teshio was not sure if she should be sad or happy about this scenario, so she decided to keep a neutral face and let Yuudai keep talking.
"In fact, knowing this has filled me with shame." Yuudai's hands curled up into fists.
Teshio was starting to become concerned, "What do you mean?"
"I haven't told you this, but you are not the first Anti-Skill to save my life. Over a year ago, the three of us were being picked on by these lowlifes, but an Anti-Skill named Yomikawa saved us. Yuudai took a deep breath before continuing. "After she saved us, she told us that we shouldn't have to worry about deciding our futures or becoming stronger for the sake of others yet. She told us to just enjoy our time as kids."
Teshio listened intently to Yuudai's words and did not say a word. She was an acquaintance of Yomiakawa, so she was not surprised that Yomikawa would say this. Yomikawa always did have a soft spot for kids. Teshio figured that was why Yomikawa was a teacher at one of the high schools, so she could be part of the process of helping kids walk on the right path in life.
Yuudai continued what he was saying, "I did try to follow her advice for a while, but I just didn't feel right. Touma and Ai were my best friends. They filled the void in my life, and I wanted to protect them. When I found out I had the potential to be an Esper, I thought this was my chance to become strong enough. I thought with the power that I would be able to keep them away from harm."
Yuudai was beginning to break down. Teshio said with concern, "Yuudai."
"You know what happened just as well as I do. When my first opportunity came to protect them, it was also my last. I tried to act as a decoy, but I failed miserably." Tears were trickling down Yuudai's face, "Now Ai's dead, Touma's just a chest piece to that bastard Aleister, and I can't do a thing. The fact I couldn't save them is bad enough, but knowing there isn't a thing I can do is even worse. I can't even atone for my carelessness that night."
Teshio understood why this was not easy for Yuudai to accept, but she knew that nothing would get accomplished if he wallowed away in self-pity. She said, "Yuudai I need you to look at me."
"Hmm." Yuudai was confused by what she said. When he turned around to look at her, she flicked his head with her finger. "Ow! What was that for?"
Teshio said in a somewhat harsh tone, "To wake you up because you are not going to make any progress by wallowing in your sorrow. There is something that we can do to help your friend."
Yuudai was even more confused now, "What?"
"We can take Saku up on his offer and join BLOCK. If he is successful, we can confront and eliminate Aleister ourselves one day," Saku said with a voice filled with determination.
Yuudai was far from feeling optimistic at that moment, "But how? He can't be touched right? There is no way into the Windowless Building, and if what Saku said was true, Aleister is able to make almost everything and everyone go along with his plans. He sounds like a god."
"Aleister is no god. If he was one, you would be dead." Hearing this remark stunned Yuudai. "Saku said it himself that you were suppose to die in the Child Error Facility, but here you are. The fact you are still alive proves that Aleister is not a god. That means he must have weaknesses that we can exploit. BLOCK may also be able to find an opening or an alternate means of entering the building someday. If we join them, we can avenge your friends, save your friend Touma, and put an end to his plans for good. We can cause a problem for Aleister that will be beyond his ability to adapt."
Yuudai was not sure what to say. "Can we really do it? Can I actually do something?"
Teshio assured Yuudai, "You don't have to worry about your lack of strength either." That remark caught Yuudai's attention. I will train you until you become strong enough. Then we will be able to protect each other." Teshio held out her hand, "Do we have a deal?"
Yuudai accepted her offer without any hesitation, "Yeah. Let's do this."
In an unknown laboratory, Kihara Amata was contacted by Aleister. The scientist had a few questions for the General Director. Amata said with an impatient tone, "Tell me Aleister, why have you called off killing the surviving Child Errors? Didn't you want them all eliminated?"
"They were able to escape their execution from your Hound Dogs. It was something I never expected." Aleister seemed amused by this turn of events. "As a result, I believe it would be more suitable to let them live for now. They do not pose any immediate threat to me or my plans. Besides, chasing after them at this point would be more costly than beneficial."
Amata was confused because he knew that a couple of times in the past, Aleister was less than amused by other variations in his previous plans. "They could be a threat to Project Zero-Beta. According to what the old man said, Narukami may have passed information about the project to some of those brats. That was made evident when we went to Narukami's personal laboratory and all of his research notes had already been confiscated."
Aleister did not seem the least bit worried about that. "That is of little consequence. Regardless of what they do, we will still see the final results of the project. Having more capable and willing opponents may provide more interesting results for a project that was never meant to be taken too seriously. The project was only meant to provide more opponents for the Imagine Breaker."
"When you put it like that, having more fights in this experiment will make things more entertaining," Amata said in his usual tone.
Aleister said, "Depending on the final results, we will know if the project is still worth the continued funding or perhaps it will lead to another development. In the end, the excess Level Zeroes who would not have been beneficial to me otherwise would be reduced in number, but there will still be plenty of others to select."
Amata grinned at this explanation. "I should have expected that from you Aleister. You're always able to think of favorable alternative scenarios with little effort."
Aleister explained in his matter-of-fact tone, "It is all necessary in order to yield the desired results. Otherwise, our progress would be more minuscule"
Amata laughed at that, "Can't argue with that."
"Due to this, we need to insure that the project will be ready two years from now for its initial distribution." By the sound of his voice, you would not think he was demanding anything.
Amata asked, "You think they'll be ready to face it by then?"
Aleister answered, "Most likely. Even the Child Errors who are not aware of the project's existence are likely to become strong enough to be worth opponents of the project."
While Amata knew better than to keep questioning Aleister, he still wanted to know what made Aleister so confident, "Why do you think that?"
Aleister immediately said, "Almost all of them will be driven by the same motivation, 'the loss of their precious loved ones.' Needless to say, test subjects who have experienced 'loss' are the most likely to present the most interesting results."
Amata laughed, "Hehehehe. I hope your right about that because I don't want to be disappointed after waiting."
Aleister stated with full confidence, "I'm certain you will not be disappointed in the least."
It has been nearly two years since the Child Error Facility was attacked. I lost all of my friends whether it was to death or it would be too dangerous to meet with them again. I have worried about what happened to the survivors every day. Were they able to escape their pursuers like I was able to or were they killed? I wish I could find out, but I know that wouldn't do anyone any good.
However, knowing this hasn't stopped me from feeling lonely. I still remember those joyous days at the Child Error Facility like it was yesterday. I remember all the times I ate lunch or played football with all my friends. All of those 'exploration expeditions' of Academy City I had with Ai and Touma. All those times I tried to get Megane to come out of his shell. Always going to the entrance everyday and having a casual conversation with Botan-san. All the laughing, fun, and memories we use to share. That life seems like a dream now. I wish I could go back to it. I would even be willing to sacrifice myself if it meant the others could have this life again, but that's not reality.
The reality is that most of my friends are dead and everyone else is missing. I am not in a position to go looking for them, and I haven't even been able to visit the grave of my friends. Teshio-nee-chan told me there is a chance an ambush could happen if I went out there. I personally thought it was ridiculous, but she did have a point since they have already used some underhanded tactics before. However, it fills me with shame that I never visited them, but I made sure to send flower to the grave every six months from different flower shops under various aliases. All I could do was watch from a distance as the flowers were delivered to the grave.
Despite everything, it hasn't been all bad. Teshio-nee-chan has looked out for me like the big sister I never had. She quit her position at the Anti-Skill, and we became full time members of BLOCK. We have participated in numerous missions for BLOCK for the past two years, but according to Saku-san these wouldn't be the kind of missions that would catch Aleister's attention. Despite that, those missions have been dangerous. However, both of us have pulled through because I have watched Teshio-nee-chan's back, and she has watched mine. You wouldn't believe how many times we have managed to save each others' lives. As she promised, Teshio-nee-chan has trained me and I have become more capable of holding my own in a fight even without my powers. However, I am still no match for her.
Besides my physical training, Saku-san was able to provide me some assistance with developing my Esper abilities. He was able to recruit a scientist named Fujiwara Seta who was willing to help me develop my abilities discreetly. Just as Narukami-san predicted, I am able to use my powers to make huge leaps, and I am able to do it without causing any noticeable damage to the ground. I will only cause damage when I need to make a massive leap in a speedy fashion. Having that skill has already allowed me to escape from a number of messy situations.
While I have been developing my abilities and gone on missions for BLOCK, I have continued to wonder what happened to all my friends following the incident. Besides Touma, I have no clue what happened to my friends who apparently managed to escape. Regardless of whether they are still alive or not, it makes me sad that I am powerless to help them either way. All I can do is hope things have worked out well for them.
During that time, I have also thought about what has been happening to Touma. The only thing I know is that he is a member of Skill-Out now. I can only hope things are going well for him. Although, I guess "going well considering" would be the more appropriate thing to say. I would like to know how Touma has been handling the Child Error Facility incident. Does he think I'm dead? Does he blame me for what happened to Ai? Does he blame himself? Either way I wouldn't blame him.
If he chose to blame me, I would accept it because I did play a role in her death even though it was unintentional. If he chose to blame himself, I would tell him it wasn't his fault. I don't know how convincing I can be, but I don't blame Touma for what happened at all. It was Aleister and his subordinates fault. Blaming Touma would be wrong and pointless.
About a year-and-a-half after the incident, I finally had my answer regarding Touma's activities. There was this new mysterious vigilante that was known as the "Devil" of Academy City. This person apparently targeted Espers who abused their powers and he would generally say something like, "I'll break that illusion of yours" or "I've come to give you bad luck." Most witness accounts seems to indicate this "Devil" was a member of Skill-Out due to usually being sited near "The Strange," and he has sometimes been seen associating with known Skill-Out members.
After putting all this together, I figured this person was probably Touma. After I found out Touma was listed as a missing person, I was absolutely sure of it. Touma had thought of his own way to combat the darkness of Academy City. Although, I guess the main difference between us is our selection of targets. While I am a part of group that wishes to ultimately eliminate one target, Touma has a much broader target in mind. Touma wishes to eliminate everyone who abuses their powers.
I can understand his thinking for that. He probably hopes if he can take down enough of those Espers it will deter others from following the same path, so there would be fewer Espers like the ones who attacked the Child Error Facility I give Touma a lot of credit for attempting to achieve that goal, but I'm afraid it might get him killed.
Teshio-nee-chan was the only person I could share my theory with, and she believed me. She also promised not to tell anyone else including Saku-san. I wouldn't forget what she said to me, "It is very possible your paths will cross in the future. Have you thought about what you would do if that happens?"
To be honest, I didn't. I just wanted to talk to my friend again, "Not really. There are a lot of things I want to say, but I don't know if I could say them."
Teshio-nee-chan said, "I understand. Well I would advise you to come up with an answer soon. There's no telling if or when that day comes."
I decided to visit the hot baths in the Underground City area in the 22nd District of Academy City. I was able to clear my head a bit, but I was still no closer to coming up with an answer. While I was walking down the street, I heard a familiar voice, "So Wataru what's so special about this place that you just had to drag us down to."
I turned around and I briefly saw part of the person's face. His appearance seemed different, but I was sure it was Touma. He was accompanied by two others, a guy and a girl. It immediately made me think of the old times. For a split-second the image of Touma walking with his friends was replaced by the image of when Ai, Touma and myself would walk around Academy City and have all kinds of fun and adventures. Those were days I would always miss.
I began to reach out to call out to Touma, but I stopped myself. It took everything I could to stop myself. I only got a brief look at his face, but he seemed to be happy. I was glad for him, but I was envious of his friends. They were a part of Touma's world, and I could not be. At least right now I couldn't be.
I will continue to fight for the day I can walk by my friend's side again and avenge the deaths of my friends. I will give it everything I have, and I won't give up until the day I succeed. I will not fail my friend again. My enemies can count on that.
Touma and Mikoto are standing in a set where everything is still being cleaned up after the last show.
Touma: Hello everyone. I would just like to announce that repairs to our sets have been going smoothly.
Mikoto: The contracts and other matters have been settled with Accelerator, so he will be making more appearances, and as long as he receives half his compensation in advance, he will not be destroying anymore sets.
Touma: Now that that is settled, everyone we need to get into places for the next story.
Mikoto: (Confused about what is going on here) What's going on here?
Touma: Didn't you hear? (Touma hands Mikoto the script) We are finally producing the direct sequel to "Birth of the Devil.
Mikoto: (with a look of a mixture of confusion and eagerness) Really?
Touma: Yes. A number of questions the fans have been waiting for will finally be answered at long last. The author has called everyone back. (Several characters arrive at the set) Komaba-san, Wataru-san, Konori-chan it is time.
Konori: You mean it is almost time for us to come back into the story again.
Touma: That's right. Starting next chapter, it is time to continue exploring what my life was like during my time as a member of Skill-Out.
Wataru: It's about time. It's finally time for us to see some action.
Komaba: When does the author plan on releasing the chapter?
Touma: The author has most of the story mapped out, and he has been working hard on completing it. He plans on releasing a few chapters of the story before the end of this year, and he hopes to release subsequent chapters on a monthly basis starting sometime in 2013. However, if you check out the Index fanpage the author runs on Facebook called, "To Aru Majutsu no Index (Season 1 and 2)" you will see the author will be posting some previews for the upcoming story.
Mikoto: Why doesn't the author release all the chapters all at once?
Touma: That would be bad for review purposes. Not to mention, the process it takes to write these chapters is rather time consuming with the planning, writing, and editing. It is a rather difficult task.
Mikoto: (Looks down dejectedly) Oh. (Mikoto then notices some new arrivals on the set) Wait a minute! Even Saten and Uiharu are here? Wataru and Konori I can understand coming back since this takes place during your time in with Big Spider, but what are they doing here?
Touma: Well the author plans on giving them a couple of scenes during the next story arc.
Uiharu: You don't have to worry Misaka-san. I don't think our scenes will overshadow you.
Mikoto: That is not quite . . .
Saten: The author plans on giving a few scenes to the "civilian crowd" during the next story, and we fit the bill. It is a shame we will probably have minor roles since we are the main characters of the main story, but it is better than nothing.
Mikoto: I guess that makes sense, but what about Kuroko.
Touma: Unfortunately, that probably won't happen. The author seriously can't think of any good ways to add her in the story.
Mikoto: Can't find a way or doesn't want to find a way?
Touma: It's a mixture of both.
Author Notes: You ever get tired of the times when a character will assume it is their friend's fault that something happened before hearing their side of the story and realize they were wrong in their accusations when it is possibly too late? I sure do. I decided to avoid that kind of scenario this time around and make Yuudai be much more logical and have more common sense than those characters. Besides based on the way Yuudai's character has developed, it felt like it would have been out of character to have had him blame everything on Touma. Additionally, I believe this opens the way for more future plotlines.
For those of you who do not know, Teshio Megumi is a character that appeared in Volume 15 of the original Index Light Novels. Since she has only appeared in one volume not much is known about her except for some vague details about her past. Capitalizing on her "dark past" to connect with Yuudai seemed like an excellent opportunity for me. I always thought she had a lot of potential considering the fact she was a former Anti-Skill, and she seemed like a character that had hidden depths. Since she was not killed, hopefully that leaves things open for her potential return. I would like to learn more official information about her.
Yuudai's personal story has come to an end, and it is time to get started on the direct sequel to "Birth of the Devil." There will be plenty of characters that will be making appearances in the upcoming Side Story, but as you can probably guess, the main characters will be Touma, Wataru, and Konori. Yuudai may or may not be making an appearance during that story. However, there is one thing I will remind you of. While Touma, Konori, and Mikoto are suppose to live to make it to the beginning of the original story, Yuudai lacks any kind of plot armor.
For any of you wondering about the whereabouts of the other surviving Child Errors, that will have to wait until "Tales of a Child Error II," but will not be for a while. As of this moment, the direct sequel to "Birth of the Devil" is currently a work-in progress, and it will take a little longer for it to be completed. There are a number of chapters that are works in progress, and after I complete a few of them, I will release some of the chapters on a monthly basis most likely. That way I can still release new chapters for you guys to read as well as giving me more time to finish the story.
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