This will be my first fanfiction and I plan on releasing several chapters. Right now I have a basic idea of where the story will go, but it may change based on reader's opinions (Love interest or Yuichi's second in the tournaments for example). Many of the characters are OC but characters from the anime will show up often. It is based off of the anime not the manga, neither of which I own. Please enjoy and review.
A soft grassy hill, heated by the sun floating high in a clear, blue sky. A relaxing paradise. Ironically this was my prison, not to be melodramatic. I sat quietly on the hill looking out onto the nearby track where my faster classmates were finishing their fourth lap. I used to find Phys Ed a pain, but now I could feel my arms and legs ache with the desire to get up and dash around with them.
"Skipping out again Yuichi?"
"Ryota, did you finish first this time?"
Ryota Saito, one of my only friends at school. He had been ahead of almost everyone for most of the laps but I had stopped paying attention near the end.
"Nope, I got beat by Mizuno-senpai again. Damn she's fast."
He sat down next to me, winded after trying to keep up with our school's athletic idol. Although he wasn't in any sports, Ryota was one of the most athletic guys I knew. Even he never managed to beat her.
"Even though she's famous for her athletic skill, it's still a bit irritating never being able to beat her."
"O-oh, sorry. I'm just a bit jealous that you can go all out to beat her. Even though it has been a year, I still haven't gotten used to it."
"Your injury? Now that I think about it, it has been a year hasn't it?"
It had been a car accident. A drunk driver had swung right into a turn a hit me. After that, I should've lost the ability to walk. My spine had gotten messed up, and I couldn't control my legs anymore. I would be forced to live in a wheelchair the rest of my life. If it had been a year earlier, my story might have ended at that. Instead I was selected to be the first person to ever have a nearly entirely artificial spine put in, courtesy of the Piffle Company. All of a sudden, two years ago, they had switched from just being a toy company to also producing some of the most advanced prosthetics in the world. Moving from fingers to whole arms and legs, they grew more and more advanced until it was my turn. Apparently, my injury was absolutely perfect for them to test the technology, from what was damaged down to the smallest variable. After the surgery, I had regained the ability to move, and soon to walk normally. The artificial spine could transmit all the electrical signals that my legs needed for normal movement. The only problem was that it couldn't fully fix everything, and if I try anything more than light jogging, my legs freeze up and the pain nearly knocks me out. I know I should be grateful, but I couldn't help but feel down once in awhile.
"Yeah, although it still feels like just yesterday.
He stopped talking about it, knowing it was a rough topic for me. Ever since then, everything had just sort of flown by. Now I was already in my second year of high school and the days seemed to gray over. It's not like I was depressed, I still had some fun times with Ryota. Instead it was like nothing truly interesting happened anymore.
We both turned our heads to look down the hill. A small group of girls had collected, all happily smiling up at us. When I say us, I really mean Ryota. Wherever he went, girls seemed to flock around him. I guess it was his charismatic personality and his looks or something. He had a relaxed and fun personality, with blond hair and blue eyes. His foreign features, athletic body, and good looks all came from his mother, who was born in England.
I, on the other hand, was not quite so fantastic. With a slightly smaller-than-average body and messy black hair, I was nearly invisible next to this flamboyant foreigner. Add this to a bit of natural shyness and a quiet personality and you have me, Yuichi Tsukuhara.
At least I didn't have a wimpy body. My muscles had gone down some after the past year, but it was still decently strong from when I participated in sports. Before the accident, I even had one I was particularly good at.
Ryota waved back cheerfully and the girls happily laughed.
"Geez, you're as popular as ever."
"Eeeh? They're just saying hi, nothing special."
"Geh, I feel a bit sorry for them."
I could never get used to how block-headed Ryota was when it came to his own popularity.
"Huh, did you say something?"
A few minutes later Phys Ed ended and we returned to class. I really couldn't focus at all, and my thoughts wandered to and fro. After what felt like an instant, the bell rang and classes ended. After gathering up my bags, I stopped to talk with my best friend. I could see some girls in the class look a bit peeved as they lost their chance to ask him to hang out.
"What do you find so fascinating about Mizuno-senpai?"
I was leaning against my desk, talking with Ryota.
"Weeell, it's a bit hard to explain. It's more like, why wouldn't you be interested?"
"I don't really know much about her in the first place."
"I guess it's her mysterious air. I mean, she is the best athlete in the school and always ranks in the top ten on exams. What does such an incredible girl do? She doesn't participate in athletics, she has no close friends, and she's a member of a small club that no one talks about. To put it simply, she is mysterious."
"That's the only reason?"
"It's definitely a major factor, but she is also kind, cool, and beautiful. Most of the guys at school have fallen for her."
"So, does she have a boyfriend?"
"Nobody knows, although I doubt it. She gives off an independent feel."
"I guess I should always trust your gut."
Just the fact that Ryota was interested in her got my attention. My curiosity was peaked, but I couldn't really do anything about it. Her mysterious air made her hard to approach and I didn't have the guts to go up and talk to her.
Ryota and I talked for awhile until I told him I needed to get going. With my bags in hand, we both stood and pushed our chairs in.
"Alright, see you later Yuichi."
I had to go return a book I had borrowed from the library and now headed off to complete my short errand. The short walk to the library buzzed with the happy discussion of students. I quickly navigated the hallways and dropped the book off.
After letting out a nice yawn, I exited the library and started walking towards the shoe lockers. I had grown a bit concerned about the bad looking weather, and as I expected, I started seeing drops of water hit the windows.
"Ah, crap. I didn't bring an umbrella today. Now what am I gonna do?"
Maybe the rain would stop, is what I hoped. Peering out the window, I looked for any signs of it slowing. Unfortunately, the rain only grew stronger and it was obvious it might last awhile. For now, looks like I was trapped.
"Hey, Tsukuhara-kun, over here."
My head turned, and I jumped a bit in surprise. A girl from my class came running up to me, out of breath but looking relieved
"Good thing I found you, mostly everyone has left by now."
"Well, I was supposed to take this package back to my clubroom before my Senpai left, but I was suddenly called by a teacher. Now I guess I have to have some stupid meeting or something. Anyway, could you take this to the clubroom in my place?"
She blurted out the room number before turning and running off.
"Um, but I…"
She turned the corner and disappeared without another word."
"Geez, what the heck was that?"
I really didn't have a choice did I? Next time thank me after I accept.
The rain was getting pretty loud now, causing me to wonder just how in the hell I was getting home. By now the halls were mostly empty, all the remaining students already in their clubrooms. The clubroom I was supposed to go to wasn't to far, but I still had no idea what club it actually was.
"She really didn't explain anything did she? Haaaa…"
Loud footsteps rung through the halls and I looked up to see the three I never wanted to see. The three delinquents, headed by Mukota Yamada. Being traditional bullies in both look and action, they were a real annoyance.
I dropped my head and moved over to the side of the hall, staying out of their way. I fought back my bitter resentment at bowing my head to them, merely because I knew I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even run away if I started something.
We were going to pass by each other with no problems, but he moved out of his way and pushed me over. I landed painfully on my rear and looked up in rage.
"T'ch, get outta the way you damn cripple."
He walked on like it was nothing. No matter what face I made, I couldn't do anything to back it up. Both he and I knew that. To throw a decent punch, I needed the strength of my legs. Without them, it was hopeless. I angrily beat my fist against the wall and stood up.
Brushing myself off, I shoved my hands in my pockets and once again walked towards my destination, my pride in shambles.
"Is this it?"
I stood in front of the class she had specified, but I couldn't really hear anything coming from inside. Suddenly a bit nervous, I softly knocked on the door. There was a short pause before I heard someone move.
A bit surprised by such a blunt sounding response, I slid the door open and took a nervous step inside.
The room looked like any other clubroom except for one striking difference. In the center of the room was a large, futuristic looking table. It was thick and heavy looking, and the top was a large, shining white screen. After a moment of looking at it, I realized what it was.
"What business do you have here?"
I jumped a bit, having forgotten that someone was in here for a second. The voice came from right next to the table. Sitting at it, was none other than the famous Mizuno-senpai, wearing an Angel control headset.
"A-ah, sorry I was a bit surprised for a second."
She sat there calmly, the perfect picture of the cool, quite type.
"Is this your first time seeing a Layer before?"
"A Layer? U-um, yes it is. I hear about Angelic Layer all the time but I've never seen one in real life before."
A movement catching my eye, I turned and looked back to the center of the Layer. Standing in the center was what looked like a small human. She stood tall and noble, wearing a beautiful, but plain black kimono with an ornamental white sash. The sash was very long and its ends lay on the ground with plenty to spare.
"I-is that an Angel?"
"Yes, this is my Angel, Shizuka. It is written with the kanji for quiet and calm."
I watched in fascination as Shizuka walked towards the center of the Layer. Her small body was the size of a toy, but it looked almost completely human. With a graceful spin, Shizuka began to dance. Each move was detailed and smooth, without any of the jerky or mechanical movements I expected to see. For some reason I could feel my heart hammering in my chest.
I snapped back to attention, leaving my trance.
"U-um, I'm sorry?"
"There was no reason to stare so intently at her."
"O-oh, I didn't realize… Well, i-it was just really good."
Her words turned my face scarlet with embarrassment. I must've looked like some kind of moron. I hesitantly looked up, and was pleasantly surprised to find her smiling. Now that I looked at her closely, I really saw a resemblance between her and her Angel. It had her long black hair and eyes, along with the same elegant feeling. She definitely had the cool look, especially in her eyes and her beautiful black hair reached her waist. Wow, was she pretty.
"You don't have to get so embarrassed, I'll think of it as a compliment."
I decided to change the subject.
"Wait, if this is the clubroom I was supposed to find, does this mean we have a club for Angelic Layer?"
"Yes, it's rather empty right now but welcome to the Angelic Layer Club. For some reason, not many people hear about us. I guess the club president needs to work on her advertising methods."
"I'm not really informed about it, but isn't Angelic Layer really popular in Japan? I mean, I never paid much attention to it, but every year I hear about a giant tournament."
"Well, it's not just Japan anymore, but yes, it is very popular. Somehow though, this school is filled almost completely with people who have no interest in it. It's more than a little disappointing, at least for me that is. The club only has around five members, and they come and go often.
I had never really paid much attention to Mizuno-senpai either, but after talking with her, I really wanted to get to know her better. If I were to explain it, all I could say is I developed a slight crush on her. I felt like I could understand Ryota's feelings a bit now. I figured now was my best chance, and for the first time in awhile, stepped out of my comfort zone.
"W-well, if you're having problems getting members, m-maybe I could try it out?"
She looked a bit surprised, but then laughed a bit.
"I don't know how I did it, but I might be an excellent salesman. Of course I would be happy if you tried it out."
She reached around behind her and pulled out another Angel. This one was much more plain looking.
"If you want to try out Angelic Layer, use this one."
Her face looked calm, but her eyes shone in anticipation. Apparently she was pretty excited about the chance for a new member.
"Oh, alright. I guess I can try."
I sat down in the fold out chair across Mizuno-senpai. The Layer shone white, lighting up her face in the dark room.
"Um, do I just put the headset on?"
She reached across the table and handed me the headset and the Angel.
"Yes, once you put it on allow it about a minute of calibration. Then just set the Angel on the Layer."
I clumsily slipped on the headset. It snuggly fit around my ears and head, with the lenses a good distance from my eyes. Following Mizuno-senpai's instructions, I pressed the power button.
Suddenly, the glasses-like lenses filled with numbers and words, displaying startup information and status. After about five seconds, the information disappeared and the screen only showed the word "Calibrating". A small progress bar appeared on the bottom of the screen and slowly filled. For some reason I felt a bit excited. If Mizuno-senpai could make her Angel dance like that, what would I be able to do? After about a minute, the bar filled and the headset's calibration finished.
"It seems like it's finished."
I held the Angel in my hand and reached out to set her on the Layer. As she passed over the light, a golden glow formed around her, like she was passing through a field of energy. Now fully in the Layer, I could feel her snap to life.
"Now you'll have to use your imagination. The Angel operates using your thoughts and will to move. If you will the Angel to move, that's what it will do."
Are the instructions really going to be this vague? I tried "willing" the Angel to move, but as I expected, nothing happened. After a second, and then third try, I made no progress.
"Um, can you be a bit more clear?"
She sighed, then thought for a bit.
"Well, it's somewhat different than moving your own body. Imagine everything you want the Angel to do, and picture her doing it. By imagining it, you don't have to focus on each individual movement and incredible athletic feats can be done easily."
I listened to her tips and continued trying for several minutes. Eventually I was able to stand her up and jerkily walk her around. But I continued for nearly thirty minutes without any further progress.
"Hmm, usually people get the basic handle of it in only a few minutes. Obviously after that it becomes much harder, but you can't even perform basic movements."
How can I just imagine something moving? Can so many people really do this with such a fantasy-like direction.
"Well, I can't get the sense of it. Imagining how to move is odd. The movements feel awkward and I don't really feel in control."
"Huh, you're the first person who I've seen with this problem."
"Hey, is there anyway to increase the sensitivity or something? Right now I hardly feel anything from the Angel, but if I could feel her movements more I think I could move better. I mean, isn't it weird trying to move without the actuall feeling in your legs."
She looked surprised. As if I had asked her if I could stack weights onto my Angel instead of lighten it.
"Well, it's possible, but not really recommended. I think it would be difficult to try to move a separate body if you raised sensitivity. Plus, if the Angel responded less to your imagination, then it would be hard to preform complicated acrobatic and martial arts moves. You would have to actually feel the action of jumping or attacking. If you don't have the basic knowledge of how to preform all the actions you want to preform, the Angel won't be able to successfully pull them off."
I thought about it for a second. Then began to speak my mind.
"Well, I was wondering, Angels are supposed to fight and beat each other right?"
"Yes, and many of them are only able to win by using complex fighting styles and acrobatics. Instead of actually learning how to do all these things, imagining it is easier."
"I get the martial arts part, but why do Angels need to be able to jump and flip around so much, or have insane strength? If it's a fight, wouldn't more compact movements and higher speed be better?"
She considered it for a minute, looking highly intrigued.
"It seems you are also a strange Deus as well."
"No need to apologize. As to your questions, using tight, high speed, and compact attacks is a bit difficult to do with your imagination. The more you talk, the more I get the feeling you are a Deus similar to Sai Jounouchi."
"Sai Jounouchi? I don't really know who that is."
"Sai Jounouchi is the Deus of Shirahime."
"Oh, that white one? I think I've seen her on t.v. or something. Isn't she pretty strong?"
"Yes, she is one of the top ranked Dues in Japan. She also doesn't fight in the regular manner. Usually she defeats her opponents using quick throws or powerful hits. Once, in an interview, she also talked about having a higher sensitivity setting. That's the reason you never see Shirahime jumping around a lot. Instead she is able to better use her throws and defensive techniques."
"So she and I are similar?"
"Well, I don't think she had the original problem of moving that you do, but the type of control you are talking about is similar in some ways."
"I think I get the picture. So can I try turning up the sensitivity?"
"I don't see a problem with trying it out. Jounouchi sets hers at twenty-five percent higher. Do you want to try that?"
"Only twenty-five? I-I was wondering if I could have at least double."
Did I say something stupid? I really hoped I didn't.
"W-why don't you go ahead and try it out then."
I probably sounded like an idiot just then. Oh well, nothing to do but try it out.
I scrolled through the menus on the headset and raised the sensitivity to double the original. I immediately felt different. The weird, disconnected feeling disappeared and I felt a stronger connection with the actions of the Angel. While I still had to imagine the commands, I could incorporate the actual physical feeling into them. It was like I could almost feel each movements as part of my body.
"This is great!"
Now the Angel felt completely natural. She stood up and naturally stretched and walked forward. For any actions I preformed, I could feel the sensation of it. Without a moment of hesitation I made the Angel break out running, something I had wanted to do for a long time.
It was incredible. For the first time in a year, I felt the sensation of pushing off and flying forward. Although it was just a ghost of the real feeling, it was enough for me. With the familiar sensation, I started to remember all the running I used to do before my accident. All of my roadwork. All of my hard training. The nostalgic feeling made it irresistible, and I began going through all the familiar movements I had practiced before last year.
The Angel stopped and twisted her upper body, throwing a powerful right straight.
"Alright! Even after a year I can do it perfectly!"
I didn't notice, but Mizuno-senpai watched in fascination as my Angel threw a few quick jabs and then brought her arm around in a beautiful hook. The punches felt good, and with the sensations running through my arms, I quickly remembered the feeling of the two years of practice.
"I had thought it was a joke, but… Tsukuhara-kun, you are a boxer aren't you?"
"What? How do you know that? I haven't told anyone but Ryota at this school."
"Ryota told me."
"T'ch, of course he did… Wait, you thought it was a joke?"
"You never run or do any of the physical activities so I thought it was impossible. From the way he talked about it, I thought you would be training everyday."
"You didn't know Mizuno-senpai, about my condition?"
"Y-yeah… I was in an accident last year. I needed to have a prosthetic put into my spine. I can walk and everything, but I can't do much more than jog now."
She paused and closed her eyes.
"I'm sorry to bring it up."
"N-no, it's fine. It's not like I can't talk about it."
She was quiet for a moment, but then looked up.
"Now I guess I can see where you learned how to move like that. So you started in middle school?"
"Well, I wasn't actually a member of the gym. Obviously I was too young. Instead I just walked around and copied their workouts wherever I could. Once I was in high school they accepted me as a member, although I had been practicing with them for a year already. Then I could train and spar with them. Now that I think about it, I could've taken my protest pretty soon."
Although it was not something I enjoyed thinking about, I did feel a bit better talking with someone other than Ryota.
"I see. So after trying it, are you still interested in joining?"
"Y-yes of course!"
Not only will I be in the same club as Mizuno-senpai, but Angelic Layer also seems fun. It's two birds with one stone, as they say.
"If you're going to join then you'll need both of these."
She handed me a small slip of paper and the package I had delivered.
"This is the package I brought."
"Yes, it is a starter set for Angelic Layer the school buys as club expenses. It has the egg, computer, and clothing sets and fabric. Since we have such a small number of members, each member is provided their own Angel."
"R-really? Thank you."
I took the package once again and tucked it under my arm. Looking at Shizuka, I wondered if I could create something so creative.
"Oh yeah, can it be a male Angel?"
"Can I make my Angel a boy?"
She let out a small laugh.
"That would be difficult. You can't change the gender of an Angel. You would have to buy a male Angel in the first place. The ratio of female to male Angels is more than ten to one, they are pretty rare. Since mostly girls play this game, nearly all Angels are female. Most male ones are either low quality or very expensive.
"Oh… I knew that most Deus were female, but I thought that was just because all the top players are girls. I guess girls wouldn't play as guys usually so it makes sense. Do only girls play it after all?"
"There are some male Deus, but almost none get any attention. The only high ranking and well-known male Deus is Ohjiro Mihara and his Angel Wizard. That's why male Angels are hard to find. This is an issue you're going to have to compromise on."
I didn't particularly have an issue with using a female Angel, I was just curious. Of course if it was up to me I would probably pick male.
"Well, it's not that big a deal."
"If that is all, I suggest you go home for today. If you want to join, you're going to have to create your Angel."
"I don't know anything about that really. I hope I can do it right."
"No need to worry, even elementary school kids can do it right. Just follow the instructions."
"Okay, that's a good sign. I'll see you tomorrow Mizuno-senpai."
I gave a small wave and walked out the door.
"Now that I think about it, a lot just happened didn't it?"
Turning, I walked down the near empty hallways. With a quick glance, I realized that the rain had already stopped. I hurried out of the school, stopping only to get my shoes from my shoe locker. The sun had just started to go down, and the sidewalk was filled with students and shoppers. They must've rushed out once the rain ended. I walked faster and faster, ready to get my own Angel ready. My head was filled with anticipation and I passed right through the shopping district. My mother had asked me to pick up a few things, but for the first time in a long time, I forgot.
And now ends the first chapter of Overcome Oneself. As you may have noticed, I will be taking some Artistic License on the Angelic Layer Universe. I added in things like the male to female ratio and the sensitivity setting. There will probably be several other concepts I add in to help deepen the story. If any of these seem to be detrimental the story, please mention it and I will consider ways to deal with it. Once again, please tell me what you thought.
Next chapter: Yuichi creates his Angel and begins his journey as a Deus. He and his new partner connect and bond during their first fight.