[A/N]: Yep. Instead of writing more of a story that I already started, I go and write new stories. But you all have already come to expect that of me, eh?
Anyways, this fic originally came from me speculating about a stray line from Solo that really got me thinking the second time I played through Star Force 3 and was better acquainted with his character (the first time I played, I played the games in reverse order, from third to first, the second time I played them in proper order).
"I think he will listen to you...And then you will become close friends...But one day he will turn on you, and you will regret everything."
It just seems...really out of place for a guy like him. Why would Solo worry about betrayal when he doesn't feel the need to get close enough to even give someone the chance to betray him? Why would he give what seems like a reluctant warning to Subaru? If anything, it seems like something the writers threw in to dangle more hints of Solo's backstory that they might have gone into for a fourth game if it was ever made, but now it will never be and we won't know a damn thing.
So I speculated, and this wrote itself. It also goes into how exactly Solo ended up learning of his origins-how did he learn of the Mu, if he was always alone as he stated himself? It makes little sense.
Yes, I'm filling in plotholes. Don't worry, I'll get back to writing the crossover fiction. Life's getting busy for me right now, but I am getting to a point that I'm eager to write, so the fic should be written in the moments I have on my own. Anyways, enjoy!
The boy had always been able to see them for as long as he could remember. Even when he was young and alone, he saw them. They talked to him, whispered to him. But for the longest time, he never knew what they were, nor did he know what they talked about. It was foreign to his young ears.
Asking about the roads in the sky earned him strange looks. Asking about the weird creatures walking up and down them, going in and out of things like refrigerators and televisions, only got him angry glares.
Showing them the ancient-looking device that had always been with him, however, earned him expressions of fear, disgust, and outright rage directed at him. It was too much for a young boy like him to handle, and he hid. The boy learned not to ask. But that didn't stop the rumors of his already spoken words from spreading. More and more people heard of him, the strange boy who could see things called "denpa" and "viruses." And as more people heard of him, the more they unified against him. They coagulated into packs.
There were the groups of people who merely ignored his presence, refused to acknowledge he was there. That wasn't so bad. He simply just couldn't get anything from them. That wasn't anything new. The groups of people who glared at him, whispered derogatory words while he looked away, their voices intentionally carrying themselves into his ears…they were scary, yes, but they didn't hurt him. Even if they gave him worse stuff than they gave everything else, stuff that he was sure was meant to hurt him, those people at least recognized that he existed. That was something.
But the groups of people who actively came after him…he couldn't bear running into those groups, especially at night. They hurt him. And running from them was hard at his young age. Sometimes he got help from those strange things on the sky roads. They'd whisper to him in some strange language, as if they expected him to understand. And slowly, he started deciphering their words.
"Turn here," they'd say. "Hide here, young one." And he'd follow their instructions to the best of his ability.
But sometimes, the boy simply just couldn't understand their instructions well enough. Or the people chasing him were too fast. Or his tiny, clumsy body would fail him and he'd trip over something. Either way, the boy would eventually get caught despite his best efforts. Then, the pain would start. Curling up into a ball and covering his face usually helped him to ignore the kicking and the yelling and punching. They never went too far. It hurt for a long time, and sometimes he couldn't move as well as before, but he was still alive after everything.
One time, however, they found the device. The thing that had always been with him. The one thing that he could call his own. They threatened to take it away from him, saying a monster like him shouldn't have such a thing, laughing as one of the men held it just out of his reach. He couldn't let them do that…it was his. It was his only identity…even if it marked him as a monster, at least it made him something!
"N-no!" It was the first time the boy had actually cried out in anything but pain during these group beatings. With strength he didn't know he possessed, he jumped onto the man's arm and latched onto his precious device. Even when the man snarled in anger and threw him back down to the ground, he didn't let go, sniffling weakly as he clutched desperately to the ancient thing that he had somehow managed to wrench from the man's grip. There were angry yells that he had dared to fight back against them, that he deserved even more punishment?
Why? Why did he deserve to be hurt more because he wanted to keep what was his?
"You don't…" hissed the voices in their strange ancient tongue. "Protect what is rightfully yours…"
But he couldn't! How? There were so many people all together, and he was alone and small and weak…
"You can! Tap into the power of your ancient blood! You can do it, small warrior!"
"Aaa…AAAAAH!" The boy's scream made the group step back, but only for a brief moment. Then they only came back closer, angrier.
"Did you think growing a spine would help you in any way, you little beast? You've just earned yourself extra pain for that!" The boy shied away, clutching his device close to him, before looking down at its screen. What could he do? He didn't want to get hurt!
"S…stop…" For the first time, the boy felt anger. This wasn't fair. This wasn't right. His hands shook like they had many times before, but now instead of it being due to fear, it was rage.
"STOP HURTING ME!" And with that fevered declaration, the screen on his device suddenly glowed with a bright purple light. The boy could barely make out a strange emblem in the midst of the light before it engulfed him.
He didn't know what had happened to him, but he felt something completely foreign to him course through his body. Power. For the first time, it was those people stepping back in fear. They screamed their cries of 'monster,' but there wasn't force in it.
"Yes, Murian child…use the power that is your birthright!"
And so he did. As a group, the mob took desperate measures, having one person sneak up behind him and grab him for the others to hit. While that tactic and others like it had worked well in the past, in the face of his new power they only were desperate measures to attempt to have their weak selves match him.
Alone, they were weak. He could single each one out easily and pick them off one by one.
The realization made him feel stronger than he ever had in his short life.
The boy was called Solo by the other kids in the orphanage.
He didn't mind that much. The boy didn't have a name of his own during his time on the streets other than "monster," even more so now that he had started going out in the evenings and attacking people that had hurt him. Stumbling across the orphanage during one of his nightly jaunts was an unexpected boon. The adults there were indifferent to him at best, so while he was there he was at least safe and had a steady supply of food. But he had no name, no family history to speak of, and he didn't know what the adults had chosen to call him when they took him in. He didn't care much about what they called him. Anything was better than 'monster.'
Even if it was safer there, however, the boy didn't want to talk to others if he could help it. He didn't want them to risk finding out about his power. Then they'd all call him monster as well. The nickname of Solo stuck. He even answered to it as if it was his real name. It was like he was one of them now, almost.
It was at the orphanage that he had met that boy. The kids called him Punk, because he was big and strong and led the resident troublemaking gang among the children. Like Solo, no one really knew his real name. No one really cared. Their real names meant nothing because that was what the adults called them. Those adults didn't matter. They fed and clothed them, but they didn't matter. They didn't understand what the kids felt. They didn't see things at their eye level, nor did they bother to try. They didn't lose parents. Their opinions weren't important. Only those who were like them, the other kids in the orphanage, mattered. So if the other kids gave you a nickname, then that was your name. That was your identity. All the children in that orphanage were young, too young to really understand these complex rules of society that determined identity and self-image and what they were. But it was innate, and they followed those rules unconsciously.
So Solo was Solo and Punk was Punk, and no one really opposed that.
Punk's gang always patrolled around after curfew, because that was when they did whatever punk kids did. They didn't want anyone else who wasn't in Punk's gang knowing what they did. So Solo would always have to dodge around their nightly patrols when he snuck out of the orphanage to attack the adults when they were alone and vulnerable.
One time, however, he didn't manage to evade them. As luck would have it, he had run straight into Punk himself. At night, the large boy seemed even larger as he loomed over Solo, his face scrunched up into annoyed irritation.
"Heh, what's this? A straggler? You know the rules, no kids out after curfew!"
At that, Solo huffed. He wasn't scared of Punk like the other kids were, because he knew he had his power. Punk might have been big and strong, but he was a warrior! The voices on the sky roads told him so.
"Yeah, well, you're out too!" Punk only grinned.
"Oh, you've got a spine in that quiet body of yours, huh? Never would have guessed it, what with you always hanging out behind everyone. I like that, but that doesn't mean you can get by me that easily."
Solo was a little taken aback. Nobody liked it when he talked back to them. Those angry adults always got madder whenever he fought back. And even the orphanage staff liked things neat and orderly and didn't tolerate unruly students, not even Punk.
"Y-yeah, well, I bet the adults don't know what you do past curfew! They know you're a troublemaker, though, so if I told them-!"
"You wouldn't dare," interrupted Punk, glaring down at Solo. The looming technique that used his size to bully the other children didn't intimidate the smaller boy at all. Those mean adults were much bigger…
"I totally would! You don't scare me, you big-" Solo's taunt was cut off by him having to dodge a sudden fist that would have hit his face, and the fight was on.
Punk was big and strong, but Solo was small, sneaky, and quick. When Solo got hit, he got hit hard, but Punk got hit much more often and in more painful places. And Solo wasn't sure if he wanted to use his power or not. He could win quickly, but…Punk ruled over the kids. If he saw that Solo was a monster, then…all the kids would know, wouldn't they?
And Punk had said that he had liked something about him.
In the end, both kids ended up bruised, battered, and winded. Solo had meant to crawl away, pretend this never happened, but then Punk started laughing.
"You're a tough little nut! Hey, if you promise not to tell the adults what we do past curfew, you could totally join up with us!"
Solo looked on in disbelief.
"I hurt you and…you don't mind?"
"Nah, it's actually kind of refreshing. Strong people should hang out together, right? Besides, for a quiet guy, you're surprisingly interesting!"
"Hmn…" Solo thought it over. It wasn't like he really knew what they were doing, only that they were awake past curfew. And if Punk liked him, maybe he could sneak out easier. At the very least, it meant less pain.
"Um…okay, I guess…"
"It's settled, then! Ha!"
The boy called Solo thought that hanging out with Punk felt strange. It was weird having somebody interested in what he did, not because they hated him, but because they were genuinely interested.
"So, the reason you were outside that night was 'cause you wanted to beat up some adults?"
"Un. They ganged up together and hurt me." Solo scowled. "They think they're so strong just 'cause they gang up, but they're total losers when I catch them alone. They're no match for me and my strength..."
"So you got enough strength that lets you stand up to adults…that ain't something you should use so carelessly you know?"
"Eh? What for?"
"Well, power like that, it's gotta be used with respect! That's the Punk gang way, you know! My old man used to say that too. You don't use power on people who don't deserve it. And people who need to gang up be strong don't deserve getting beat on by a strong person. They don't need to know about that kinda power, do they?"
"Huh…I never thought of it that way."
"Power is something that only the strong have, so they got to use it right! Wasting it on idiots that can't even stand up to you even when you don't use it…isn't that kind of stupid? There's better things it can be used for! They don't deserve your notice."
"…I think I get it." Maybe this was the difference between being a monster that lashed out at things and a warrior, like the voices said he was.
"Then you'll be a good fit in the Punk gang, kid!"
The boy called Solo hung around Punk a lot. Punk was a few years older and much bigger than he was, and for a time it felt like Solo learned a lot from him. Maybe they were almost friends. He was, at least, Punk's right hand man. They'd always team up when the gang got in fights with other gangs from the nearby school.
But then they messed with the wrong gang. Oh no, the kids were easy wimps to beat. But they had influential parents. And those parents came to the orphanage to settle things with the matrons about controlling those wild parentless children.
Then they saw him. The way their eyes lit up, oh they recognized him, alright.
"So, you have that little monster in with your brats, eh? No wonder they all went bad. This one can pay for all the damages, can't he?"
When the matrons were informed of what exactly they had taken in, they recoiled. The children stepped away from him. No one stopped the parents from taking him out back for 'disciplinary action.'
"So that's why you haven't been out there raising hell at night, isn't it? Instead you're running around, making bad apples out of these innocent kids, is that right?" A kick.
"B-but…I didn't do anything-oof!" His protests were ignored. People were still vengeful, still angry, and they wanted to get back at him while he wasn't transformed.
They don't deserve it. They don't deserve it. They don't deserve my wrath…
"Turning them all into little beasts like you, huh? Especially that big oaf, we heard how you've been hanging around the leader of this little group. Kissing up to him, huh? Making him into a monster like you?"
"Y-you…" Solo felt anger again. That raw, vicious rage that he felt the first time he tapped into his power. "Don't you dare…"
He felt it. The power coursing through him. The purple light engulfing him, making him transform before he even knew what was happening. He pulled his right arm back, the purple flames surrounding it flickering brightly.
"DON'T YOU DARE INSULT PUNK!" Before he knew it, he had sent several spectral purple fists flying at the parents, blowing them back. Their bodies were smoking from light burns left on their body from the sheer energy of the attacks, and there were scorch marks all over the ground from where they streaked close to it and exploded. The playground they had been in was now battered and burned.
Solo let out a feral growl, cocking his fist back for another flurry of attacks at the downed people when…
He was there. Punk had seen him. He had seen him transform, and was looking at him with an almost stupefied expression.
"P…Punk…" Instinctively, Solo stopped attacking, instead coming closer to the older boy who had taught him so much. Had protected him, taken him in, had been almost like a big brother, or a friend.
But as he got closer, he saw the bigger boy's expression change. It was something like…fear?
"H…hey. That's you, isn't it?"
"Um…yeah…it's Solo…" Solo looked up hopefully, a weak chuckle escaping him. He looked up…and saw rage.
Before Solo knew it, Punk had punched him square in the face. The shock made him lose his concentration and untransform.
"Don't talk to me!" Another blow knocked Solo to the ground. By this point, the adults had recovered from being blown back and had surrounded him. Everything hurt. He didn't know what was going on. Punk hit him. Punk hated him, called him a freak. A monster. Was he a monster? Or Solo? Or a warrior?
He gave up. He didn't know what to do.
They all surrounded him…
The boy called Solo woke up alone in the playground. His whole body ached, but he forced himself to stand regardless. He needed to know.
He knew all of the Punk gang's patrol routes. He knew where he could find Punk alone at this time. It was child's play to get that far. But actually confronting him…
"You…heh. So that's why they were all after you and hurt you like you said. Come to finish me off with your freak powers, like you did to them?"
Solo hesitated. He wasn't sure if he even wanted to beat him. He had been almost a friend…he had been nice to him. Maybe he had only been shocked. That's what Solo wanted to tell himself.
But…he saw the expression on Punk's face. The older boy hated him now. He was scared of him, like everyone else…he never really was a real friend to him, was he? He only ganged up with him because Solo was strong…he gathered kids around him to boost his own power. But he could barely beat Solo in a fight, even when Solo wasn't using his power…he was a weak human too. And he hurt him…he hurt him worse than that punch. He betrayed Solo's trust. He led Solo to more pain…
His fists tightened, and his mouth curled into a scowl.
"You don't deserve it."
Punk's face twisted into an ugly smirk at those words.
"Heh. Using my own words against me, you little freak? You'll regret implying that I'm weaker than you, monster."
Solo let out a wordless scream of rage and jumped on his former friend.
He didn't know what happened after that, until he was pulled off Punk's broken and beaten body, screaming and flailing in the arms of a panicking matron. As he tore and scratched in the matron's grip, they cleared out a bedroom of all the occupants before locking him in.
It wasn't until he was completely and utterly alone that Solo broke down into tears.
The boy called Solo didn't really know what was going to happen next.
Punk never came back from the hospital. The matron said that he had been sent to another orphanage, but the way she refused to look directly into Solo's eyes made him wonder if he was being lied to, or if she was just scared to look at him after that night.
Solo was kept locked in that very same bedroom they had thrown him into that night. He heard the adults whispering things about him, things like "charges" and "crime" and "savage beasts," and sometimes he wanted to just take to the sky roads and leave except he didn't want to use his power again. It hurt too much to remember what happened when he last used it.
Instead, he prowled around the bedroom, sometimes curling up and staring blankly at his precious device, sometimes sitting by the door to listen in on conversations going on outside, life moving on without him.
It was while he sat at the door when he heard a new voice among the many at the orphanage.
"I want to see that child. I want all charges dropped against him."
"Doctor…really, can you authorize such a thing…"
"It is essential for the good of everything that you see to it! Now let me see that child!"
"I wouldn't call it a child if I were you…"
"Well, you ingrate, you are not me, and for that, I am thankful. Open this door, right now!"
Immediately Solo scrambled away from the door. It occurred to him that he wasn't exactly presentable to meet this new important-sounding person, he was still in the torn and blood-spattered clothes from that night. But he found that he didn't care. Everyone hated him or would hate him in the future. Every one of them would turn on him, or gang up with someone else to turn on him. So what did he care about his appearance?
A regal looking woman in a lab coat entered the room, followed by a very strange…thing…in blue robes.
"Close the door. I wish to speak to him alone."
"A-are you sure you want to be alone with that-"
"If you value your job, you will not complete that sentence and close the door immediately."
The matron did so accordingly. So this lady had power as well.
"So, then, child-"
"Solo," he interrupted, his voice dull. "My name's Solo." He hated that name now. The name was a reminder of the times when he was considered simply a loner child, not a monster. But it was the only name he had left. He wanted to keep it.
The woman didn't seem offended by his interruption, instead she raised an eyebrow.
"Very well then, Solo." She sat down on the bed and patted the spot next to her in an invitation to sit down. Solo shook his head and kept standing sullenly, earning him an amused chuckle.
"Many people think it's easy to tell children lies to please them, but I call such people fools. You are young and unused to the ways of the world, and that makes it easy for you to spy the lies that make it up. I will be honest with you. I'm not here to make you happy. I'm here because I want something from you."
This was strange. It was almost like the first time he talked with Punk. Back then, he was being treated with respect, a foreign sensation. This time he was being treated with an almost similar kind of respect, but it felt different somehow. She was laying out expectations. She expected to hurt him. It was…almost nice, to be able to anticipate something like that, to know to be on his guard.
"What do you want?"
"I have heard reports about you. A child claiming to see the wave world that makes up our technology, and the beings that inhabit it. A child that can turn into one of the beings of that world, use its power in a way that no human can. Your power…do you know where it comes from?"
His power. She wanted his power. But why? Didn't she have power of her own?
"…I got told by the things on the sky roads that my power is in my blood. They call me a Murian warrior. But I don't know what that is…"
"And if I told you that I knew?"
Solo's eyes widened. He almost took a step closer, but stopped himself. She expected to hurt him…
"Why…why would you want to tell me what I am? You want something from me, you said it yourself!"
"Indeed I do. For you see, you very well might be the last of your kind. I can hardly let you get away if that is so, is it?"
"The…last? The last of what?"
"Of the Mu. An ancient super-civilization that once ruled the world…they had powers and technology that we've only just started to rediscover, Solo. And you, as the only Murian alive…you hold the key to unlocking it again."
"Unlock it…" His people. So he was a Murian warrior after all. And if that place was unlocked…he wouldn't be alone? He wouldn't be a freak, or a monster…he'd be Solo of the Mu. No…he was Solo of the Mu, now. This woman…she had given him his real identity. But why?
"…Why do you want to unlock it after all this time?"
"I am a scientist. Technology like the Mu have apparently created…it is my dream to be able to view such marvelous devices, to create and use them for what they were meant to be used for…I hate to see them rot away like this."
Solo eyed her warily.
"I don't believe you." That only earned him a laugh.
"Good, good. I don't expect you to believe me. I don't expect you to trust me. I don't trust anyone other than Empty here." She motioned to the silent blue thing that was hovering protectively near her. "And if I don't trust you, how do I expect you to trust me, hm? That would be hypocritical of me…and I hate hypocrisy."
"Hmph. So did you just come to tell me who I am or what?"
"No, of course not. I came to strike a deal with you. I want you to work with me."
Solo instantly recoiled. No. He couldn't. Not after what happened. After what happened with Punk and his gang, he couldn't…he couldn't get close with other people again. He wouldn't be that weak. Ever.
As if reading his thoughts, the woman continued on. "I don't expect us to be close. If anything, this is merely repaying debts to each other. I'll tell you everything I know about the Mu. I'll have Empty train you up in your fighting skills so that you can be a strong warrior in your own right instead of lashing out at everyone when you're hurt. And in return, I want you to help me rediscover the Mu. That is all. We'd simply be two people sharing the same goal."
"So…you won't actually…hold me to anything?" Solo was hesitant. "We don't have to be close…"
"Not at all. We won't even need to meet up face to face, if you wish it. Simply report to me, and I will report to you. Very simple."
"Mmph…" Solo didn't like this. He didn't want to be in any sort of relationship with anyone.
But this woman knew who he was. She could give him the tools he needed to find his real people, his real civilization, and then he wouldn't have to deal with her anymore. It was a temporary thing.
"…Okay. I'll do it."
"Very well." She rose from the bed. "I'll have the papers drawn up, and we'll leave this very day."
And so it was that the boy called Solo left the orphanage as the legal ward of Doctor Orihime. She did all that she said she would. She trained him up so that he was strong, stronger than Empty, even. She told him everything about the Mu that she had discovered, gave him more relics to hold onto. And he kept up his end of the bargain as well. He told her whatever he could.
It wasn't a loving relationship at all. That was fine with both of them. Neither Orihime nor Solo were looking for affection. Neither of them trusted the other enough to give them their heart, nor did they want to. Orihime had hardened her heart to everything, only focused on her own goal. And Solo simply did not want to trust again.
They were united by the same purpose. They both planned to be done with the other as soon as it was accomplished. Orihime looked down on Solo as a mere naïve child and a tool to use. Solo looked up at her with distrust and a means to an end. They had no problem with hating each other, and Solo did so with fevered intensity.
Solo would always be indebted to Orihime for giving him an identity. No matter what he did for her, he would never be able to repay that back. He hated her for that. He hated her for the fact that she knew it and would not hesitate to use it.
And he hated her for the fact that due to this, he would never really be able to say no to her.
It didn't matter. In the end, she'd leave him as well. They all did, whether they chose to leave or he'd push them away. He'd be alone to the rest of his days.
He was Solo, of the ancient empire of Mu. The last of his kind. That was what he was meant to be.
[A/N]: I'm still not overly fond of how this fic came out, but that's how it is. Feel free to argue with me over inconsistencies or characters or tell me your own headcanons. I'm actually really curious.
Until next time!