Academy City was well-known for its first-class technology and high-class facilities. From nuclear research to the development of military weapons, Academy City wielded technology that well surpassed that of the rest of the world.
But this said nothing of the espers within Academy City. While not directly classified as weapon, much of students within Academy City had special abilities and talents they could utilize for a variety of purposes, such as telekinesis and x-ray vision, all science based. These esper's abilities were the source of the ongoing research within Academy City and were akin to the very pride and joy of the futuristic city.
Among these children within Academy City, which had a population of 3.5 million, a mere seven harbored the title of 'Level 5'. This was the level cap for ESP users and was the very top of the caste system among them. 'Level 5' was something that every esper dreamed for at one point in their life, though they never attained it. However, many of these level 5's who are revered are not respected for their actual personalities. There was not a confirmed two level 5s that were considered friends, though they all knew of each other by epithet. While the level 5's were all mentally unstable in some way, to whatever extent, there were two or three who were decent enough to speak to.
The one who stood at the grey line was a certain young man with short dirty blonde hair wearing a sweater vest and tie.
"I'll ask you again: How can I help you today, sir?"
"I wish to speak with the president of this large establishment immediately! As I explained before, it is an urgent matter that must be brought to his attention at the soonest possible time!"
"…And your name is…"
"Alexander Terrarium! Learn it well, my dear, for it will become a name known throughout the world someday!"
"…Right. Well, as I explained before, the president does not speak with people who can't even bother to make an appointment to show up. Your name is not written down anywhere."
The young man in a sweater vest folded his arms across his chest as he grinned knowingly, as if he had expected this typical situation. The elderly secretary behind the desk he stood before eyed him with an exasperated expression as she wondered why this was happening to her of all people.
"Shall I explain to you why this matter is so urgent that I must speak with him despite appearing out of nowhere, completely ignoring the normal procedure of making an appointment?"
"Please enlighten me."
"I, Alexander Terrarium, have come with a devastating matter you must hear. Just an hour ago, while I was using one of the products that this company is responsible for creating, a strange phenomenon occurred. The special storage closet you dispense to the people who pay for your fine inventions is meant to be able to bring you any article of clothing you wish so long as you have put it in before and can describe it correctly, yes?"
"…Yes…" The secretary tapped one manicured nail on the desk impatiently as she waited for him to get to the point.
"I had thought so. Just an hour ago, while I was utilizing such a function, it failed to bring me the proper article of clothing. I tried once more in case it was a mere accident, and yet it messed up once more. I tried again and again, and it only brought me the wrong article of clothing each and every time."
"Something like that should be directed to maintenance or customer service, not the company president."
"I was told that this is 'pilot error' more times than one, I'm afraid. That is why I took it upon myself to look into it. I suspect that it is a problem that stems from the very design of the device and wish to speak with the president in order to convince him to correct it, for his sake."
"You looked into it yourself? How?"
"By taking out the manual and looking at the individual parts. I had spent some time modifying it too my liking before it malfunctioned, so this is quite a distressing situation, you see."
"And did you not think that maybe it was your 'modifications' that broke it to begin with?"
"No. That's impossible. I was careful not the break anything or moving something that shouldn't be moved."
"Even if you didn't plan to, it probably happened anyways. It's not worth taking to the company president."
Alexander Terrarium frowned at the woman, who had completely lost interest, and he drew out his phone, pressing it to his ear as he turned away, apparently taking a call.
"Yeah, it's me." Alexander spoke in a serious tone immediately. "It's just as you expected. The tolerance level is lower than the standard and the problem remains unresolved. We'll have to immediately lay them all off and find suitable replacements."
"W-Wait!" The secretary shot up from her seat in surprise as she heard those words. "W-Who are you talking to?! It sounds like you were just testing me, or something!"
"I'll send you the list of names by text message." Alexander went on, completely ignoring the girl. "Please; don't praise me for my acting skills. It's my job. For now, let's focus on our work. Beginning operation: Purge."
"Hold it! I'm sorry! If you want to go the president, then I'll arrange for you to slip in between appointments!"
"…Really?" Alexander asked suspiciously with narrowed eyes. The secretary nodded, exhausted from her sudden burst of desperation.
"Please…Anything to keep my job."
"Excellent. With that sort of grit and last minute resolve, you may be better suited for your position than I thought. Keep it up and I'll withdraw my earlier opinion of you."
The secretary's eyebrows raised as her eyes fell on the phone's screen as Alexander unconsciously lowered his arms.
"Wait a second…that phone is off."
Alexander glanced at the phone and seemed to realize this. After a long moment of silence, he shut his eyes and began to chuckle slowly, his shoulders shaking with the movement.
"Very well." He murmured before raising his head to smirk at the secretary. "I will tell you just what this phone is. It's a special modified phone that shuts off when unregistered people try to peek at the screen or touch it without permission. It's an example of how magnificent and glorious my rank is above yours!"
The secretary didn't buy it at all. It was obvious that this guy had acted out the entire conversation on the phone just to make her agree to letting him see the president.
Several guards heard her call and rushed over to the desk. But there was no one to be found there. The secretary looked around in surprise.
"But…he was just here….wasn't he?"
"A mere ghost cannot be caught by 'security'. How foolish, thinking you could capture me, Alexander Terrarium!"
Across from the tall building that was home to a company that invented new high tech household appliances, a bank stood by the street with full access to the public. Standing on the very top of the bank was a young man with dirty blonde hair and emerald green eyes, wearing a sweater vest and tie, as well as pants and Pikolinos shoes without laces. Despite his clearly western name, he had visible Asian features, likely due to a mixed heritage. He stuck his hands in his pocket as he titled his head back as if to laugh at the sky above him. Of course, he was too high up for anyone to have a chance of hearing him. Yet he spoke anyways for pure self-satisfaction.
"Allow me to complete my introduction! I am the great Alexander Terrarium, the most skilled teleport esper in all of Academy City! The ghost that vanishes when chased. The hunter that can never be shaken by his prey! The defender of the earth! The overlord of dimensions! The 6th level 5 who can elude the eyes of those fools playing god while sitting on their high horse in the board of directors! Gyahaha-wah?!"
While in the middle of his triumphant laughter, Alexander was caught off guard as a thin frame appeared behind him and pinned his arms behind his back abruptly, cutting him off.
A young middle school girl with reddish pigtails had instantaneously appeared behind Alexander to catch him off-guard and smiled sinisterly as she tightened her grip on his arms. She wore a school uniform and a sash around her left upper-arm. The sash indicated the girl's membership in Judgment, a student-run disciplinary organization that sought to correct the students of Academy City when the acted out of turn. As mentioned before, the majority of Academy City's population was made up of students. Roughly two-thirds.
"Ah." Alexander grinned as his eyes peered behind him to see who it was. "So the organization is still after me, eh? I'm impressed that you managed to find me again."
"We received reports that a strange man had disappeared after appearing out of nowhere from the building in front of us." Shirai Kuroko sighed in exasperation. "Honestly, who else could it be but you? I was dragged from my quality time with Onee-sama as well…are you prepared to pay to ultimate price?"
"Heh. I see you never fail to blatantly come out of the closet. But you shouldn't assume you've won so soon. Have you forgotten what happens when one come in direct contact with me?"
Before Kuroko could respond, she suddenly found herself several meters in the air above the bank, despite not having teleported herself there. She clicked her tongue as she saw Alexander below her laugh triumphantly once more before vanishing. She vanished as well, following a ticklish sensation in her gut that indicated another teleporter's powers being activated and she reappeared above a lamp post, where Alexander had reappeared barely a moment before. Her knees began to come down on his shoulders from behind when Alexander vanished once more and Kuroko followed. This sort of close call occurred several times before Kuroko found herself standing on a crowded sidewalk alone, unable to find Alexander. She looked around at everyone's faces, but Alexander had smoothly blended in with the crowd and vanished.
"Ugh." Kuroko sighed as she relaxed her body as scratched her head with one hand. "He may be my superior, but he's many times more childish, like the seventh. The difference between five and six along is so vast. Is he really on the same level as Onee-sama…?"
Kuroko swooned as a certain electromaster's face appeared in her mind and her urged rose as she spun on the tips of her feet anxiously.
"Do not worry, Onee-sama!" Kuroko exclaimed excitedly. "Your beloved Kuroko will hurry to your side at once!"
"Are you just going to leave her like that? As her senior teleport-type esper, you should really try to teach her to be on the same level as you."
"Hmph. Hilarious." Alexander smiled calmly as he pocketed his hands, standing hidden in an alleyway, watching the Judgment member vanish instantly. "As if I would encourage her to join such an infamous group of troubled children. She has a perfectly fine life that she can be thankful for. Who am I to ruin it?"
"…Please don't try to act cool in front of me like you do with other people. It makes me sick to my stomach."
"'Try to act cool'? Are you implying that I, Alexander Terrarium, am not cool?! And that in trying to be cool, I am failing? I have never heard something so ridiculous—"
"What exactly did you want to speak with the president of that company for anyways?" The man leaning against the wall of the alleyway cut Alexander off indifferently. "I doubt you really cared about your broken automatic closet enough to pull something like that and risk exposing your whereabouts."
"Ah, so you want to know, do you? Is your curiosity killing you? If so—"
"My automatic closet was broken, thank you very much. It's been annoying me for a week now until I became fed up with it and decided to use it as an excuse. I've been planning on bugging that secretary for a while now."
"I'll ask you for the third time; why?"
"That president of that company has been ripping off ideas for young entrepreneurs intending to become rich off of their inventions and patenting his ideas before the original creators can do anything from a legal standpoint. If the ideas that he stole turned out to be faulty, he'd be forced to fix them or cancel them altogether. Considering he's a business-type person, he'll opt to choose the option that loses him less money. Fixing it would probably cost less than discontinuing the entire series, so that would be his choice. But it's not his, so he won't know how to fix it and will be forced to learn from the people who created the idea he stole."
"You plan to cause him to panic and lose money?" The man asked dully. "That's pretty petty."
"Hmph. As expected, you're a small man. I do not wish to cause him to panic. I plan to cause utter chaos that will make him rethink his entire method. I will find a fault in every idea he steals and force him to return money to those he stole the idea from until people begin to catch wind that he's been stealing these ideas. His business will spiral into bankruptcy immediately afterward and he'll soon be begging for money out on the streets."
"Excuse me—not petty. Just downright obsessive."
"Heh. Listen well, Kihara, for I will only say this once. It is my goal to be the ghost who causes those at the top the most grief while remaining just that; a ghost. They cannot catch or find it, and they doubt it's very existence due to never seeing it. And then I shall proclaim my name to them as their carefully crafted pedestal crashes to the earth, telling them the identity of the ghost whose existence they doubted; Alexander Terrarium! Bwahahaha!"
Kihara Bunshi shook his head back and forth as he stood straight and drew his black trench coat tight over his red t-shirt, brushing his greasy silvery hair back with one hand. Even for a Kihara, there was something off about Kihara Bunshi's appearance. He had extremely pale skin and his eyes appeared to be permenantly half closed, giving him a lax expression no matter what face he tried to make. He wore a pair of goggles over his forehead with the strap hidden under his silvery hair.
"Well then, Dimensional Slider, I stand corrected once again. You're just downright unsettling. Should I take this to mean that you plan to come for me next?"
"Just the fact that you would ask that should answer your question, Kihara. You, who's family name alone is enough to send shivers down a grown man's spine, should be well-aware of my motives. Good? Evil? In the end, it is all ego! My ego is for the sake of crushing those who oppress others with their own overinflated egos! A ghost has no concept of good and bad, but it understands the sadistic satisfaction of knocking people off of their high pedestals!"
"You level 5's never cease to interest me. Fine then; do as you like, number six. I hope we meet once more. Your theatrics are quite amusing."
Alexander Terrarium straightened his crooked tie with a grin as Kihara Bunshi strode into the darkness of the alley with a sinister grin on his face. Despite the nature of their conversation, the two had been dangerously close to fighting out in the small space, despite having no reason to harbor any ill will toward each other. While Alexander wasn't interested in being the good guy, his 'hobby' threatened the very existence of villains as well, which put him in the grey area. Kihara Bunshi, being a Kihara, did research with methods that could not be called 'good', but the results benefited humanity itself, putting him in a warped sort of grey area as well. The slightest change in circumstance could make these two the greatest of allies or the fiercest of foes.
And the balance of the scales was about to be tipped drastically in a negative way.
"Well, one ego at a time is the best way to go." Alexander spoke to himself softly as he set his sights back on the large building he was planning on infiltrating. "I don't want myself to get too big of a head as well."