Disclaimer: I own none of the works belonging to the author(s) of the Toaru Majutsu no Index anime /manga and any related anime/manga, neither do I own any of the characters nor places inside said stories, save for those imagined and created by me.

Prologue

Saishinga International Airport.

Academy City, Japan

4:23 pm

Amid the late afternoon sun, the blue and red fuselage of Flight 84 of Fuji TransAir Airlines landed on the landing strip, its large wings and engines shining as bright as the forest of wind generators that provided power for the City of Students. Inside the airport, civilians, most of them students, milled around the large interior, greeting friends and hauling away their luggage. However, some of them were pinned to the large windows, growing more curious as they watched the large airplane taxi toward Terminal 3.

Soon after docking, people begin exiting the plane, dividing into three groups as they walked toward the security checkpoints. One such group arrived at a certain checkpoint, which was reserved for exchange students and students arriving from vacation. One by one, each person showed his/her visa to the scanner, waiting as the computer spat out his/her name onto a screen, as well as other personal information.

"Tsushima Ari..." Blah, blah, blah.

"Kimajitsu Koura..." Blah, blah, blah, blah.

"Samigura Hanzou..." Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Finally, the last person walked toward the scanner. Wearing glasses, the skinny boy wore black pants and a white collar shirt with a computer logo on the front. He wore black running shoes and a digital watch on his right wrist. His black hair was styled into loose curls, a few strands of straight hair sticking out the rear of the scalp. The boy carried a large backpack filled with his clothing, as well as a variety of drawing materials and school books.

Wiping sweat from his forehead, his brown skin cool and moist, the boy showed his visa to the scanner. As soon as he did, the machine whirred into action, much faster than it had done for the previous people. One of the guards wearing black armor, who was overseeing the scan, blinked in surprise as the machine spat out the boy's information first in Japanese and then in English, much faster than it normally did:

Name: Cleon Richardson

Nationality: North American (United States)

Ethnicity: African-American

Home City: Library City

Age: 15

Status: Exchange Student

School of Enrollment: Nagatenjōki Academy

Level: 2

Ability: Mental Compute

The guard jerked back in surprise. "M-mental compute?" he wondered. "What does that mean?"

"Basically, I just think of various functions and algorithms," Cleon said, shrugging. "I can also run scenarios in my head, as well as visualize schematics and blueprints, even though they aren't always clear."

The guard looked confused, blinking in befuddlement for a few seconds. "Okay, come on through," he finally said, not having a damn clue on what was being said.

Giving the guard a small smile, Cleon bowed and passed by him, heading for the airport entrance.

Outside, Cleon sat on a bench and waited for the shuttle. Yawning, he looked at his watch. Nearby, the cylindrical cleaning bots were sweeping the sidewalks, their spinning brushes kicking up dust and minute grains of dirt. Cleon lazily watched as one of them moved toward him. He had heard much about these machines, as well as this city, back home in Library City. Environmentally conscious, this city had eschewed the use of fossil fuels in favor of alternative energy resources, especially wind power. In fact, the use of gasoline-powered vehicles is prohibited inside the city limits. Also, littering and even smoking are not permitted. It was as if this city was actually a huge university.

Suddenly the solar-powered engine of the nearby cleaner bot changed pitch the moment the machine came within a meter of Cleon. Confused, Cleon leaned forward, taking a closer look. The rotary brushes of the machine whirred much faster, causing the bot to wobble as its balance was being shaken off center by the force of the rotations. Cleon gasped as the cleaner bot wobbled violently like a spinning top and finally fell on its side. Part of its top was severely dented when it fell onto a rock on the sidewalk.

Cleon slowly sat up straight, staring at the silent machine for a few seconds. All of a sudden, the bot sprang back to life, blaring out an earsplitting alarm. Gritting his teeth, Cleon covered his ears and swore under his breath. Nobody told him that these machines were loud. Inside the airport, Cleon could barely make out the movement of bodies as guards ran toward the downed bot, pushing their way pass students.

Sighing, Cleon buried his face in his hands, completely embarrassed. When the alarm was suddenly cut off, he looked up in relief and found himself surrounded by no less than eight guards.

"Oh crud," he muttered as the serious glares of the guards bored into him.

Nagatenjōki Academy Dorm A

4:56 pm

Yawning, Cleon stretched out his arms, feeling tired, as well as worn out. It felt as if hours had gone by. It took a long time to convince those guards, who he now know as Anti-Skill, that he had nothing to do with that cleaner bot's malfunction. Only when footage from a security camera had proven his innocence did he not get arrested.

Walking into the lobby, Cleon looked around, amazed at the size of the interior. It had got to be about 60 feet by 26 feet, with a height of no more than 40 feet, according to his mental calculations. Each wall contained about one or two paintings. In the center of the dorm lobby was a bronze statue depicting a young woman wearing a lab coat standing on top of a stack of books. She appeared to be holding what looked like a bronze chemistry flask in one hand and her notebook in the other. Smiling in appreciation, Cleon continued to look around the large room.

The lobby contained a few students, who were either talking to each other or studying. As he walked toward the stairway at the far end of the lobby, they stopped what they were doing and turned to look at him. As he passed by them, Cleon could heard them whispering. However, the only words he were able to make out were 'New student' and 'Exchange student'.

Cleon finally ascended the stairway, looked at his rooming chart again, and looked around at the room numbers. "Okay, okay, " he muttered, scratching his head. "My room number is 205-B. However, these rooms seemed to be in the five hundreds, not to mention that they have the letter 'A' marked after them."

"Excuse me, may I help you?" a feminine voice behind him spoke.

With a yelp, Cleon jumped, his heart hammered in his throat. Slowly turning around, Cleon's eyes widened when they fell on a girl who had managed to sneak up on him. Her shoulders rising above his head, the slim girl was wearing a lab coat over her black and white uniform, which Cleon found attractive. Her short, black hair covered her neck, the bangs barely hiding her eyes. Her eyes; however, was unlike anything Cleon had ever seen. Beside her unblinking stare, her irises and pupils were so small that it looked as if she was peering into his brain. Or viewing his private memories and thoughts. Or even looking deeply into his soul.

Shuddering, Cleon shook the scary thought out of his head. "Ah...yes," he said, giving a nervous chuckle, giving the girl the rooming chart. "I was...um...looking for my room."

Looking over the piece of paper, the girl gave a small grin. "Well," she finally said. "You're in the wrong building. Building B is that way. Here, let me show you to your dorm."

"Thanks," Cleon said, following the girl down the stairs.

As the two walked out of the building, the girl finally spoke, "I take it that you're new to the school, no?"

"Actually, I'm new to the city," Cleon said, trying to keep up with the girl. Her long strides always put her a step ahead, so to speak. His fatigue, combined with his sore shoulders, didn't make matters any better.

"Ah, a new student?"

"That, plus an exchange student from America."

The two passed through the school's garden, orchids and sunflowers glowing among its lush bushes and the few but healthy trees that dotted the area. The only other people that were inside the garden were students, as well as visitors, who was sitting in the shade, eating snacks and reading. "Ah, the United States," the girl finally said. "I'd been to San Francisco last summer. A beautiful bridge they built over there. It is truly a monument worthy of its name,"

"The Golden Gate Bridge," Cleon summarized. "I came from the collegiate city of Library City, just east of Los Angeles."

"Library City?"

"Trust me. There are way more collegiate cities out there than just Academy City. This city is just the most famous of them all."

"Touché."

Finally, the two students arrived at the second, smaller dormitory and walked in. Though there were no students inside, the lobby itself seemed smaller. In fact, there were few paintings and a smaller replica of the statue was in the center of the room. Though everything looked similar to the first building, Cleon somehow felt deprived. "Who's that?" he asked the girl, pointing at the statue.

The girl looked toward the statue, a smile of pride lighting up her otherwise emotionless face. "That," she spoke, "Is Shinai Nagatenjōki. Thirty years ago, she was one of Academy City's top researchers. She was one of the scientists who'd helped advanced hydroponics, allowing this city and others to grow food in even barren and inhospitable terrains."

"That's amazing," Cleon breathed.

"Yes, precisely. Anyway, after she retired, Shinai-sama poured her funds into building this school, eventually naming it after herself seven years before she died of cancer."

"Shinai-sama?" Cleon repeated, befuddled. "What with the 'sama' suffix?"

"It's like saying, 'Ms. Shinai' in your vocabulary," the girl said, grinning. "It's an honorific for respect and awe. Hang around in this city long enough and you'll learn a little Japanese to show off to your friends back home."

"Thanks," I'll try to take in and dissect the data in chewable pieces of bytes," Cleon said, grinning.

"What are you, a computer?"

"Close enough."

"Sure... Now let's continue on."

After going up the stairs, the two walked down a hallway, glancing at the room numbers. They passed by three girls, who gave Cleon a curious look before whispering among themselves. At the end of the hallway, the two finally arrived at room 207-B. Music was coming from inside the room.

Stretching, Cleon turned to face the girl. "Well," he said, yawning. He then leaned on the door. "Thanks for the walk, as well as the talk."

"No problem," the girl said, scratching under her right eye. "Hope you like the school."

"I'm sure that I'll like the-" Cleon yelped when his door opened. He barely had time to scream when he landed face down onto the gray carpet. Groaning, he looked up, his eyes falling on a pair of black and yellow striped slippers. Cleon quickly crawled back onto his feet and beheld the boy who stood before him. Sporting spiky, red hair, the boy was an estimate of three inches taller than him. Though he still wore his uniform bottom, he was wearing a wrinkled black T-shirt depicting what appeared to be some sort of Japanese rock band painted in vivid red and orange colors. A guitar-shaped emblem hung from a 20" chain around his neck.

The boy smiled, as if he has been expecting him for a long time, and spoke, "Well, isn't it Cleon Richardson from America itself."

"You must be Hamyaru Tensei," Cleon said, giving a nervous chuckle. "My roommate."

"Right on the money, my friend," Tensei said, giving the girl a playful smirk. The girl didn't even flinch. "And what do we have here, your girlfriend?"

"She's only a friend," Cleon corrected, blushing.

"Well, there's no shame in nailing a girl on your first day."

The girl cleared her throat. "Now that you are acquainted, it's time for me to head for my dorm." Without a word, the girl turned to leave.

"Wait!" Cleon called after her. "I've never got to learn your name."

Stopping, the girl looked over her shoulder. Cleon could swear that there was a small grin on her face. "Nice to spend some time with you, Cleon," she finally said. "I am Shinobu Nunotaba. You can just call me Shinobu. Take care."

Watching Shinobu walk down the hallways, Cleon looked spellbound. Though her unblinking stare was creepy, there was something about her that attached him. He couldn't exactly discern the feeling but it sort of felt as if she was sort of like a big sister who held more knowledge than even he could possibly know.

Placing an arm around Cleon, Tensei gave a low whistle as he watched Shinobu turned a corner. "You know," he began to say. "There are other things in this city that are as beautiful as they are mysterious, like Aiho Yomikawa, for example. I think that it's my fate to get arrested and strip-searched by such a beautiful and strong woman." Tensei was practically drooling, feeling lovestruck."

Befuddled, Cleon turned to face his roommate. "Who's Aiho Yomikawa?"

"That," Tensei said, giving Cleon a powerful slap on the back. "Is a story best reserved for next time."

"*Gump!* Er...right," Cleon groaned, his skin burning from where Tensei had slapped him.