Chapter 1: Inception
Saten Ruiko, a girl with blue eyes and long black hair was lying on her bed.
Her room was quiet and dark but she was still unable to fall asleep. Tears were streaming from her eyes as she recalled today's incident. Bullied once again by 2 girls; one had brown, short hair while the other had auburn hair tied into curly pigtails. Known as Tokowade Middle School's aces, they were Mikato and Shirako respectively; who specifically targeted girls who were Level 0s like her. Today's special was an attempt to get her head flushed down the toliet bowl. When that did not work out, they decided that she was better off being their personal punching bag.
In Academy City, there is 2.3 million inhabitants, 80% of which are students who is studying on ways to become an ESPer; a human who possesses supernatural ability under the Power Curriculum Program. There were six levels of categorization for ESPer's abilities, from the powerless Level 0 to the strongest Level 5, which only 7 person had attained this level. This meant that bullying could get very creative depending on the bully's ability.
Mikato could manipulate electricity while Shirako was a teleporter. One of their favourite method of bullying Saten was to teleport small, blunt and thick metal rods that were electrically charged inside her uniform at selected intervals that would embarrass her for it made her jump and move about like a person who had an epilepsy attack. She had an epithet soon enough in school; the Startled Starlet. Her only friend in school, Uiharu Kazari, would always comfort her that at least she didn't get a insulting epithet like Hopping Hogface for instance.
However, being Saten Ruiko's friend also meant that one more person was added to Mikato and Shirako's list of targets. Even if she was not a Level 0. Uiharu Kazari was only a Level 1 with an ability that could maintain the temperature of a particular object but useless in terms of defending herself. Their method of bullying Uiharu seemed to be more direct; one time, she was in the toliet with only Mikato inside when a pail of water appeared out of nowhere and made her totally drenched from head to toe. As if on cue, Mikato quickly sent a small spark of electricity with a flick of her finger towards Uiharu. When Saten knew what had happened, she cursed herself for being so useless; a useless Level 0 that can only be protected like a small flower at the mercy of the cruel thunderstorm that threatens to uproot it from the ground.
"Useless me, can't even do something humanly possible such as falling asleep." Saten muttered with much irritation as she continued her attempts in trying to fall sleep.
"If only I had some sort of ability..."
Vivid images from using the Level Upper started to flood her mind as she closed her eyes.
In a park with her three friends from a cram school, Akemi, Mako and Muu, she was moving small leaves in her palms. It was her first ability. But her happiness didn't last long when everyone who used the Level Upper would go into a coma, including her.
From the day she entered Tokowade Middle School, being in a coma was the best thing that had happened to her thus far. In her coma, she had a dream. A dream where Mikato and Shirako were her friends together with Uiharu. Everyday, they would hang out near a ice cream store, sampling the latest ice cream flavours and chat about everyday life. But in her dream, Mikato was a girl named Misaka Mikoto and Shirako was another girl named Shirai Kuroko. Both of them were powerful ESPers in their own rights, Misaka, the strongest Electromaster in Academy City, the third ranked Level 5 and Kuroko, a Level 4 Teleporter. Saten often wished that the both of them would pop out of her dream into reality and teach Mikato and Shirako a good lesson but it wasn't working for she got builled over and over again once she got out of her coma and returned to school again.
When she was a little girl, she had decided to enter Academy City to become a ESPer. Not so easy, as she soon reailsed after a few months in Academy City. No matter how hard she tried worked on developing her own personal reality; the source of every ESPer's abilities, she was still a level 0. For the sake of protecting Uiharu and herself, she must become a Level 1. Only when she became a Level 1 then Mikato and Shirako would probably leave her alone. Uiharu had always said this to her when she asked for advice on developing her own personal realty, "Picture your idyllic world and believe that is real." Somehow, her idyllic world of becoming an ESPer only came alive in dreams.
"Is my dream of becoming an ESPer simply just another dream?" Saten thought sadly; she wanted so bad to become one but it just wasn't working out so well.
"Perhaps I'm just not cut out to be an ESPer."
However, a lesson with a teacher, Tsukuyomi Komoe, had taught her that one must beileve in themselves in order for abilities to manifest in oneself. But right now, all she could believe that she was a useless little girl that can only rely on other people to protect her; not that anybody else other than Uiharu and the 2 girls, Misaka and Kuroko from her dreams were protecting her.
Tired from all the thinking, Saten eventually fell asleep and she slowly slipped into a dream where Uiharu, Misaka and Kuroko were waiting for her at the usual meeting place near the ice cream store.
Not once did she realise that she was already in a dream.
Meanwhile, in the cold, dark night, a man was being chased down by a girl in an empty alley. He cursed his luck; the organisation behind her sister's experiment was not as stupid as he hoped they would be. Breaking out of that joke of a prison was easy enough; he thought that it reflected their stupidity well enough but it seemed as though he was the stupid one. Hiring ITEM to ensure that he gets recaptured if he were to escape was pretty clever of them after all.
Darting through the alley like a shadow, it was almost impossible to keep up with his speed but she was no pushover for she was still keeping up. He reached a dead end of the alley soon after and with his back on the wall, he observed intently the girl who was approaching him like a predator slowly closing in on its prey.
"As expected of you, Mugino Shizuri."
She was a girl with a soft, tea coloured hair and her target was a Level 4 ESPer, Tetsuya Iseki, a man with short, blue cropped hair wearing only his white boxers.
Mugino laughed coldly at him, "Do you really think that I would allow you to wreck this experiment that easily."
"Using my sister to mass produce level 4 ESPers, despicable."
She waved a finger at Tetsuya, "Merely a trial experiment, only one Level 0 will be used."
With a hand outstretched and her palms wide open, she fired a white beam towards Tetsuya.
A large explosion occured and smoke started to fill the area.
"This is the end of y-"
But after the smoke cleared, he was still standing, even though it was now a struggle to keep standing.
"It would take more than a single beam to defeat a Level 4.5." Tetsuya smirked; she was severely underestimating his ability.
"Level 4.5? Just a failure from a Level 5 shift experiment."
Being a Level 4.5, contrary to what you might think, is not a level between 4 and 5. It is actually a Level 4 being capable of what a Level 5 could do; a curse that limits one from using their ability at maximum capacity for death will be granted to anyone who does that. Mugino was almost pushing him to his limits, if he could not end this fight soon enough, he would die from overextending his ability.
Mugino screamed with both of her hands now outstretched towards Tetsuya with a white orb of energy appearing from each hand.
"HOW ABOUT 4!"
With that, she fired 2 white beam consecutively from each hand towards him.
Mugino started laughing manicially, "A lowly Level 4 like you certainly wouldn't survive this meltdown!"
But the smoke cleared once again and Tetsuya was still standing even though he could barely stand anymore.
"Apperently more than 4." He was still smirking, much to her chagrin.
Mugino was now trembling with anger, a Level 4 that could survive 5 of her beams being directed at him.
"You, just what kind of ability do you actually have."
"It wasn't recorded in the Bank? That's quite sad considering that you've failed to kill me."
His smirk quickly turned into a wide, cruel smile as he leapt towards Mugino with his right fist aimed towards her. Despite forming a defensive shield in time, Tetsuya simply shattered the shield into pieces with his fist and forcefully grabbed Mugino by her neck before throwing her out of the alley like a rag doll.
"If this is merely Level 4.5, then I will be sure to kill you at Level 5."
He started to hobble towards the facility where the experiment is being held at. Pain was like sharp spears simultaneously piercing through his body but for his sister, he would ignore any pain. He could not forgive the organisation for deceiving his sister with convoluted reasons to enter the experiment, especially when he was the reason.
"You will be a puppet no more, my dear sister."
Synchronization level: 80%
Attempting to upgrade AIM Field of Saten Ruiko.
It was supposed to be a simple experiment to study the AIM field of a Level 0. Participating in experiments was all part of being in the Power Curriculum Program and she also got paid so it wasn't too bad. But, sometimes in life you don't really get what you ask for.
In an experimental facility hidden deep within a ladyrinth of mostly old, abandonded bulidings and alleys in District 19 of Academy City, Saten Ruiko was currently lying inside a pod asleep with her body hooked up to various machines through wires.
Connecting to her pod was a similar pod with a girl also asleep inside; it was an experiment to upgrade a Level 0's AIM field to a Level 4 through synchronization of AIM fields. However, there were other factors at play as well, such as the personal reality of the subject undergoing upgrading. With that in mind, the experiment was predicted to succeed at a rate of only 0.05%. However, if this experiment were to succeed, Academy City would theoretically be able to mass produce Level 4 ESPers with a push of a button.
"Interesting. Let's check the synchronization level again." A scientist remarked while working on the data collected in his computer.
If dreams are known to be reflections of one's subconscious, then dreams would be a reflection of one's personal reality. It was a crucial factor in determining the success of the experiment. The scientist wondered what sort of dream that Saten Ruiko had that caused the upgrade to fail. He knew a blonde, busty and starry-eyed ESPer that would be able to know; the 5th ranked Level 5, Shokuhou Misaki with her Mental Out ability. However, she was far from starry-eyed; a main feature of her eyes was a star design on it, literally making her a starry-eyed girl. A cunning and scheming girl, she would have no qualms in using her ability intelligently to get what she wants.
Synchronization level: 95%
Attempting to upgrade AIM Field of Saten Ruiko.
4% to Level 4
6% to Level 4
Everyone in the facility went silent for a moment. This experiment only had a 0.05% rate of success but it somehow succeeded. Another scientist who was also working on data in his computer put both of his hands up and cheered loudly, "This must be God's miracle!"
Suddenly, the huge entrance door of the facility was blasted open from a violent impact. Apperently, this was caused by a single strike from Tetsuya's fist as he stood there, hunched with a fist outstretched.
"Was I too late?" Tetsuya said as he started scanning his surroundings.
Takitsubo Rikou and Kinuhata Saiai was nowhere to be seen. Only a few scientists were at their computers and there were various machines near two pod with his sister probably inside of one of them. There was also an exit at the far right corner from the pods.
Wires started snapping one by one as he pulled all of the computers towards him from a distance and levitated all of them into the air with a rising hand gesture.
"Destruction is a beautiful thing, no?"
68% to Level 4
75% to Level 4
The scientists quickly fled towards the exit as he violently propelled computers after computers towards the machines, driving large holes into them. It was the perfect expression of his wrath for deceiving his sister. He laughed at how weak those scientists were; choosing to run instead of fighting. Still, the lack of Takitsubo Rikou and Kinuhata Saiai's presence was very disturbing; too easy to be true.
"Is that all what they've got? I'm not even getting serious yet."
Operation aborted- Error 404
The girl pushed open the translucent lid of the pod and got up slowly as she removed the wires attached to her. She had long, flowing jet-black hair tinted with a slight hint of blue; it was Tetsuya's sister, Tetsuko Iseki. Upon seeing her brother, she smiled brightly at him, "It's nice to see you again, onii-chan."
"Okay, I don't have the time to explain this but we have get out of here now." Tetsuya said.
Nodding her head in acknowledgment, she staggered towards the other pod and dragged Saten out of her pod after pushing open the transparent lid. Tetsuya sighed, her sister was always like this. Too concerned about other people; perhaps this strange girl was a willing subject in the pursuit of more power. Such scums should just go and jump off a building if they are not willing to work hard for their own power.
"If we're going, so is this girl. She was deceived in participating in this experiment!" Tetsuko said.
From the large entrance door of the facility, Mugino started clapping approvingly.
"Well, well, well. I'm impressed you made it this far. But it ends here now."
"I will not allow you to harm another person in your experiments ever again." Tetsuko said to Mugino as she carried Saten on her shoulder.
Mugino sighed, "This is not my experiment for god's sake. We were only hired as bodyguards." Why can't people understand that ITEM is an underground group, not some dodgy science organisation in the pursuit of SYSTEM; a level equal to god.
Tetsuya readied himself into a battle stance facing Mugino, "Go, I'll handle the Meltdowner bitch."
With that, Tetsuko disappeared into the darkness of the exit with Saten.
It was difficult for Tetsuko but she made it to the dark, empty alley still carrying Saten on her shoulders. The abrupt interruption of that experiment had temporarily limited the use of her ability. If not, she would have just levitated Saten throughout the journey.
"We just went for a toliet break and super much things has happened already." a girl with short, brown hair said as she now stood facing them from a comfortable distance about 4 meters apart. She was a member of Mugino's group, ITEM, Kinuhata Saiai.
Laying Saten down at the side of the alley, Tetsuko clenched her fists, ready to fight at any moment.
"Don't have to be that super defensive, I won't bite." Saiai smiled.
"You are only after me, isn't it so?"
"Ah, that is super correct."
"May somebody discover you soon enough." Tetsuko thought as she took a quick glance at Saten. A surge of energy started flowing through her body. It was a sign of regaining control over her ability but it was far cry from what she was fully capable of. Nevertheless, being capable of standing a chance against Kinuhata Saiai was good enough.
She hurled a cylindrical robot that happened to pass by from a distance towards Saiai but it was shattered to pieces just a few centimeters before her. Taking advantage of this delay, Tetsuko leapt past Saiai like a bullet.
"I won't super allow you to escape." Saiai said as she started to chase Tetsuko down the alley.