6 years ago...
Corpses were littered around the desolate street of District 10.
A girl stood alone inside.
At the age of 8, she was already the leader of one of the most powerful underground group only rivaled by GROUP in Academy City, ITEM.
The putrid smell from the smoke coming from the simmering corpses as a result of being electrified at about 600,000 V filled the air.
Mikoto stood there, disgusted at both the smell and herself.
"I'm a monster."
In Academy City, there are 2.3 million people with 80% of the population being students and 60% of the entire student population who went through the Power Development Curriculum by using drugs, hypnosis and many other methods that involved activating the potential of the brain so as to gain ESPer abilities. However, exceptionally gifted students had to go through a specially designed curriculum tailored specifically to them.
In Mikoto's case, she had to eliminate 20,000 Level 3 clones of varying ESPer abilities in order to reach Level 5 as predicted by the Tree Diagram.
Those corpses were the 10,510th to 10,910th batches of clones.
Even though they never said a single word and was only programmed to eliminate her to the best of their ability, but in some ways they felt like real human beings to her.
At that time, only one person managed to reach Level 5. Unfortunately, that person was the leader of GROUP, Kakine Teitoku.
There are 6 levels in total, starting from the almost powerless Level 0 to the most powerful Level 5. This is a form of measurement on how powerful one's ESPer ability is in Academy City. The very definition of a Level 5 is to be able to face an entire army alone and win.
If Mikoto did not achieve Level 5 soon enough, GROUP would overtake ITEM as the most powerful group, which would certainly displease the backers behind her group. So what if she's the #2 ESPer in Academy City; she was still a Level 4 after all.
Because of a lousy father who gambled away all his family fortune, Mikoto was forced to become the leader of ITEM in exchange for paying off her father's debts at a young age of only 7.
Being the leader and the only member of ITEM, she was usually tasked with requests from clients. However, all of them required her to kill.
A monster out and out, as Mikoto would view herself as.
Mikoto looked at both of her hands. Soft and clean. How undeserving. So many people had died by the electricity that she emitted from those hands.
She heard a voice, and turned behind.
It was a clone, struggling to keep herself standing.
"Don't kill me."
Shock struck Mikoto harder than her lightning.
"You can speak?!"
"Don't kill me."
They were supposed to be clones programmed only to eliminate her to the best of their ability. Up till now, they never spoke a single word.
"I don't want to die."
Yet the clone begged Mikoto to spare its life.
Mikoto took a step back, "Wh-What's going on?!"
Another clone sat up, with its arm and a leg blown off.
"Misaka Mikoto. What will you do now?"
"Who are you?" Mikoto said.
"The person supervising this experiment of course."
"I thought that the clones are not capable of speaking, what's going on? Why is she asking me to save her?!"
"That's because there's a breakthrough in the Testament machine that made them. This clone is as human as you and me. Unlike the clones from before, if you strike him with your lightning, it'll feel pain. If you say you want to kill it, it'll feel scared. It'll beg you to spare it's life. This clone is doing that now.
"What's your choice, Misaka Mikoto? Spare the clone, or kill it? But I have to remind you that if you fail to kill even one clone, something might happen to your precious mother. You don't want that to happen, do you?"
The clone who was begging Mikoto started crying.
"I want to live. Please don't kill me."
Mikoto clenched her fist, emitting small electric sparks from her body.
The other clone said, "Why are you hesitating? It's not your first time anyway. I assume that you chose this clone's life over your mother's life?"
Mikoto trembled. "SHUT UP!"
A lightning bolt struck the clone's heart, killing her instantly.
She hurled another bolt onto the another clone, and it fell back to the ground, charred beyond recognition.
Mikoto stared at the dead clone who was created to be as human as her with a blank look.
"I'm sick of this."
From the corner of her eye, she noticed a metallic gun that a corpse was clutching.
Mikoto stared at the gun long and hard.
She had enough of this life where killing were a daily necessity. Being a monster was too much for her.
"Maybe I should just disappear from this world."
Prying apart the charred fingers that gripped the gun tightly even in death, she took the gun and pointed it to her head. Half of her was shocked at her incredibly rash decision while the other half was happy that she no longer had to suffer anymore.
"I'll end all of this with my death."
Mikoto closed her eyes, ready to press the trigger at any moment. Before the darkness could consume her permanently, a voice sharply pulled her back to reality.
"Oi, its too early for you to die, you know."
Mikoto turned behind to see a boy with black, spiky hair holding a box inside a plastic bag.
It was afternoon, so the sun was shining overhead. It was a weather perfect for a day out in the park.
She remembered that before her family fell apart, they used to go to parks. It was a happy scene of a family enjoying themselves in the park. As if the scene was a piece of glass, cracks began to widen, and it shattered into pieces, leaving a void behind.
With a blink, Mikoto was back in reality, with the gun still pressed on her temples. There was nothing else to live for. Such a happy scene would never return again. The repulsive scene of her killing and killing countless people was now a part of her new life. Even if Mikoto had nothing else to live for, she did not deserve to stay alive as a monster.
However, she could clearly see that the boy standing in front of him was not at all pleased with what she's doing.
"This is my life! I'll do what I want with it!"
"Your life does not only belong to you. What about your family? Your friends? They'll be upset if you died just like that."
Ever since she got involved in the dark side of Academy City, such concepts no longer existed in her world.
Deep down inside, she did wish for somebody to be by her side.
Somebody who could tell her that there is no need to kill anymore.
Somebody who would not view her as a freak because of her position in this city.
Even for a 8 year old prodigy who reached from Level 3 to Level 4 in a month, this was too much for her.
Mikoto dropped her hand to the side, still clutching the gun. "Shut up. You don't know anything."
"That's why we can't leave any witnesses behind."
The clone who was created to be as human as Mikoto said as it sat up with a twisted smile.
Tears filled her eyes as Mikoto started trembling with anger.
"Why... he's just an innocent passerby who knows nothing... I don't want to kill him!"
"Shall I kill your mother then?"
An electric like spear emerged from Mikoto's bangs and lunged towards the boy.
However, the boy waved it away with his right hand like it was only a play thing that she threw at him in a childish fit.
"That's enough." He said to the clone, sighing. "I just happened to pass by here. Just spare me already. I still need to bring the cake back for that spoiled queen."
It seemed that the boy knew the person behind the clone.
"Just five minutes of your time."
"Eh? For what?" The boy said.
The clone turned to Mikoto, "If you don't kill him in five minutes, I'll kill your mother."
Like an emotionless robot, Mikoto nodded with a uncaring look.
Electricity poured out from Mikoto's body like a fountain and she redirected all of this towards the boy like a roaring electric tsunami who only raised his outstretched right palm in front of the girl and clenched it into a fist.
It was as if he had activated a secret switch for an unnatural sound of shattering glass reverberated through the air. All of the electricity vanished like it was merely just an illusion. Even the gun that she was holding also disintegrated into pieces of scrap metal.
Such power. With a simple gesture from the boy, all her lightning disappeared.
How was she going to defeat him in five minutes?
The boy said to the clone, "You know that's impossible. Just let her go already."
"Fine, fine. See you."
All the corpses littered around him melted into goo.
The boy looked at Mikoto, as if she triggered a horrible memory within him. Then, he smiled.
"I'll save you from this hell."
Mikoto looked at him, confused.
"Hey hey, tell me your name!"
Mikoto and the black, spiky haired boy sat under a tree in a park.
It was a sunny morning and the birds were chirping loudly as the both of them enjoyed the peaceful scenery under the shade.
While she was still trapped in the dark side of Academy City even though that boy had successfully stopped the Level 5 shift experiment involving the 20,000 clones, he promised to free her from all of this. Apparently, ITEM still stood strong even if half of its backer went bankrupt because of that.
"Didn't I tell you that already. Ka-mi-sa-ma."
"That's not a real name! How rude of you, referring yourself as God."
The boy playfully knocked her on the head, "It's even more rude of you to say that its not a real name. My parents had high expectations of me, thus the name."
Mikoto puffed up her cheeks like a small child being looked down upon, "I don't believe you! Tell me!"
The boy chuckled in response to that, "It can't be helped if you don't believe me."
Meanwhile, he took out a little Gekota keychain and placed it on Mikoto's hand.
"Well, I got this from a Gachapon machine... Ahh, I don't really have the money to get you something nice, like a locket or something, but I hope you like it."
He was embarrassed to admit that when he took out a few 1000 yen notes from his wallet to buy a gift for her in a mall, a strange wind blew it all away into the crowd, leaving him with only some coins to throw inside the Gachapon machine that lined the walls outside a store. How could this be possible? The mall was air-conditioned!
Mikoto's cheek flushed bright red as she admired the Gekota keychain resting in her palm.
Annoyingly cute, that little green frog.
Her voice dropped to a whisper, "Thanks."
The boy got up and stretched himself, "I won't be around for quite some time, so don't come looking for me. That gift was a farewell gift, by the way."
Her voice was strained and unwilling, "Do you really have to go...?"
She wanted the boy to stay with her forever and ever, just like now with the two of them sitting under a tree and enjoying each other's company. But he was insistent in freeing her from the darkness. Or perhaps he had gotten himself too far down into her darkness when he stopped the experiment and so the only way left to go is to free her completely.
"If you really want me to come back faster..." The boy paused for a moment, "then work harder to be a Level 5 because I will certainly come back to find you once you reach that level."
The boy squatted in front of her and held a pinky up, "Promise?"
Mikoto smiled and hooked her pinky together with his, "Promise!"
6 years later...
Mikoto was lying on her bed in her dorm in Tokiwadai Middle School.
Around 4 years ago, she received a call from a certain spiky, black-haired boy saying that ITEM has been destroyed.
To ensure that she would be truly free from the darkness, he wanted her to enroll into Tokiwadai Middle School, a fortress that was heavily guarded due to the high number of rich girls being enrolled into this school, to fade into obscurity with ease so long as she doesn't leave the school too often.
But he still had to tie up some loose ends and there was something else he wanted to do, but he promised to return once he was done.
You stupid idiot. Using that stupid excuse of me not being a Level 5 yet. Well, I've been a Level 5 for a week already and I still don't see you!
A familiar voice could be heard all of a sudden, breaking her out of her reverie.
A girl with auburn hair tied in two curly pigtails appeared out of thin air, pouncing upon Mikoto like a predator locked onto its prey.
Before she could even lay a finger on her, Mikoto sent a stream of lightning towards her, causing Kuroko to fall flat to the ground and roasted as black as her name implied.
"Onee-sama. I was only trying to cheer you up. It's already been a week since you've reached Level 5, but instead of being happy, you seem upset."
"He promised... he promised that when I reached Level 5, he'd certainly be back. I've been waiting for 6 years already. Have you forgotten our promise? You idiot." Mikoto muttered under her breath.
Mikoto got up from her bed and reached for the door.
"Curfew time is almost over. Are you sure you want to leave? The dorm manager is a dangerous woman, I swear. Beware."
Mikoto turned back and smiled, "I'm a Level 5 after all, the #3 ESPer in the city. Don't worry."
Kuroko sighed. Always running off just like that. Someday, she'll definitely get into trouble with the dorm manager.
A certain Kamijou Touma was now being chased by a group of thugs.
Today, he decided to treat himself with a delicious meal in a family restaurant for dinner after receiving his allowance for the month when he saw a girl surrounded by a group of thugs.
Being the hero that he was, Touma bravely stepped up and defended the girl against them. However, it turned out that the girl actually knew those thugs. One misfortunate event in the restaurant led to another and in the end, he ended up in this state.
Weaving about the streets and seemingly running about in panic, his plan was to tire those thugs out without actually getting into a fight. A wise strategy indeed when you're outnumbered 7 to 1.
Soon, he reached a bridge. Somehow, all the thugs stopped chasing at some point of time. However, it was too early to say that his misfortune had finally abandoned him.
"You're pretty pathetic for a guy who managed to dissolve ITEM by making all its backer to go bankrupt."
Touma darted about the bridge and turned behind to see a girl with a soft, tea coloured long hair. Because the bridge was enveloped in darkness like a midnight sea, he did not notice the girl who was standing behind him.
"Who are you? Do I know you?"
The girl eyed him suspiciously, "Really?" then she smiled, "Well, I'm not surprised then. After all, I'm the leader of the newly revived group known as ITEM. My name is Mugino Shizuri, the #4 ESPer in the city. A Level 5."
"And what has it got to do with me? Yes, you're a Level 5. But I'm just a Level 0, what business would you have with me?"
"I'm just curious what sort of power you actually possess. Or at least I think its you, we don't really have much information about the boy who single-handedly crushed ITEM since he did an exceptionally good job in erasing traces of his involvement to the point where we thought that it might just be a ghost that was behind it. You do fit the vague description perfectly to a T though. Black, spiky hair, although the face seems slightly off. Perhaps people do change after 6 years or that the description is unreliable."
Touma thought. Why is it that my misfortune never ends. Why is there a strange girl popping out of nowhere telling me that I single-handedly crushed... ITEM? What's ITEM anyway? A mysterious evil group which I had unknowingly played a part in destroying due to my misfortune?
"I think you got the wrong person."
"I don't really care actually."
A small flickering piece of light materialized in front of Mugino and it silently flew past Touma's shoulder, leaving an afterimage like a thin laser beam in the air, only missing his skin by mere inches.
"How is it? My Meltdowner is equally as good as the Railgun, no?"
"Wait a moment. Railgun? What do you mean by Railgun? I don't understand a single thing you're saying!" Touma was slightly shaken by the fact that this girl in front of him seemed to have no qualms about killing somebody just because she was bored.
"Ah? Did I get the wrong person? Railgun. The ex-leader and the only member of ITEM. Because of you, she was forced to retire and lead a normal life as schoolgirl in this city. Do you have a grudge against her or something?"
"Err, I'm seriously lost. ITEM, Railgun, Meltdowner? All of these don't really make much sense to me."
Mugino's lip curled up in a sadistic manner. At least she could give him a live demo to help him understand what she meant by Meltdowner, if he actually survived it in the first place.
Without warning, she fired a green, pulsating beam of light from her palm towards Touma and the bridge shook violently due to the impact of the blast. Smoke filled the area where he stood.
"That should be about it."
To Mugino's surprise, she saw a silhouette with a hand outstretched, still standing strong in the misty depths of the smoke. It waved the smoke away, revealing that Touma was not at all affected by the beam.
"Were you lying when you said that you're a Level 0?"
Her Meltdowner involved manipulating electrons into an unstable state stuck between wave and particle before firing it at her opponent for a sure kill. There is nothing in the world that could stand up against it, even steel could be sliced easily into pieces with her ability.
Yet the boy could stop her Meltdowner with just his body?
Impossible, for a Level 0 at least.
Touma briefly glanced at his right hand, "It's just only a small mistake that the SYSTEM scan made. I may be a Level 0, but that right hand of mine can negate any supernatural phenomenon that comes into contact with it."
"Like I give a fuck."
Undettered, Mugino fired a few more beams from her palm. Touma negated one of the beam before dodging the rest by tumbling sideways. Luckily, all the beams were traveling in a straight line.
Craters on the ground could now be seen as the bridge started to tremble once again under the might of her Meltdowner.
Mugino saw that the boy was not lying at all. He could negate at least her Meltdowner with his right hand. However, it was painfully obvious that the range of his ability did not extend to the rest of his body.
She fired more and more beams from her palm at Touma, who frantically swept it away with his right hand, much to her amusement.
"You're so cute when you do that."
"Let me go! Gahh! I'm just an innocent Level 0!"
A ringtone echoed through the air and Mugino, with an annoyed sigh, stopped firing and picked up her phone.
"What is it?"
"You're super late Mugino! Hurry up, we still have a job to do!"
Snapping her phone shut, Mugino said, "If all you could do is to wipe my beam away, then you aren't really much of a challenge. Even if you're the legendary ESPer who destroyed ITEM all by yourself, there is no fun in defeating you."
She adjusted her leather jacket slightly, "I hope that you'll prove to be more challenging when we meet again."
"What's with this misfortune anyway."
The group of thugs was upset after being shamed by a tea-coloured haired girl who casually fired a few laser beams at them as a warning to leave that black, spiky haired boy alone.
One of the thugs grumbled as he trudged along the street with the rest of the group, "Just because she's a Level 5 doesn't mean that she should be so arrogant."
Soon after, they spotted a brown-haired girl in her uniform loitering around an alley. Such a rare sight to behold, especially at this hour of time. Time for some fun.
"Hey little girl, do you want to play with us?"
The group of thugs surrounded the girl and cornered her to the wall.
With an eye closed, she let herself relax while resting her back on the wall, "You'd know better than to mess with me."
A thug snickered as he let a grimy finger slid down her soft cheeks right to her chest, "Aww, but it'd be so much fun."
Instinctively, she shocked the entire group of thugs with a massive surge of electricity that poured out from her body.
"Even I have a limit to how much you could play around with me!"
Mikoto had planned to loiter around the alley so that she would somehow get into trouble with thugs like them.
Maybe this would lure him out of his hiding.
Not to save her, but to save those thugs from being electrocuted by her.
However naïve and stupid this plan sounded, she would try anything just to meet him once again.
After all, he promised that he'd be back when I reached Level 5. He must be around this district somewhere... I hope.
"Oi, oi, you don't have to be so hard on them."
Mikoto turned behind and to her surprise, it was a boy with black, spiky hair.
While that boy looked slightly different from him, but perhaps people do change after 6 years.
Mikoto's face flushed crimson red as her heart thumped wildly.
It was him! He remembered after all.
"Hmph. I'm not going to forgive you for being a week late." she said as she folded her arms while turning her head slightly to the side.
Although her legs wanted to bring her close to him so as to hug him and feel the warmth of his chest once again, but she did not want to make things so easy for the jerk who abandoned her for 6 whole years.
"Hah?" Touma looked at the girl baffled.
"You don't remember? You promised you'd definitely be back once I reached Level 5. There was a city-wide public announcement just a week ago so don't say you didn't know."
"Excuse me, but I think that this is the first time that we've met. Err, do you happen to be Misaka Mikoto then? I'm sorry but I don't know any Misaka Mikoto."
Mikoto laughed, "What are you saying? Has it been so long that you forgotten my real name already? It's me! Look at my face properly! Sure, I've grown taller but I don't think I look so drastically different."
Touma scratched his head in confusion, "I'm very sure that this is the first time we met."
Mikoto's laughter grew nervous, "Eh...? It's not funny, you know. Stop it."
"I'm not being funny. This is the first time that we met. I'm sure."
His words felt like he had switched on an internal air-con inside her body, sending a chilling wind throughout her body.
What's going on? He doesn't remember at all? All of the times that we spent together. He's forgotten all of it just like that after 6 years?
Mikoto took out a phone from the pocket in her skirt. Her eyes were brimming with tears as she held the Gekota keychain strapped onto the phone up close enough for him to see with a trembling hand.
All she wanted now was for the boy to tell her that it was all just a prank. Even though she'd probably hate him forever for playing such a cruel joke but she didn't care. The last thing Mikoto wanted was for him to forget her completely.
"L-Look. You gave me this before you left. You re-really don't remember...?"
"It's a cute frog but don't you think you're a bit too old for that?" Touma said, unsure of her intention in showing him the keychain.
The odd thing is that she seemed to be crying as well.
Just what sort of a relationship did I have with her?
Firstly, there was a weirdo Level 5 that appeared out of nowhere, spouting nonsense such as ITEM and Railgun.
Now, there's another Level 5 who claimed that I knew her but I had totally forgotten all about her?
Honestly, I'm just an ordinary schoolboy with a strange power in my right hand that is only useful for negating abilities. Just give me a break already.
"Heh. I'm too old for that...?"
Mikoto let her hand swing back to the side before she dropped the phone onto the ground.
She could feel the strength of her body ebbing away as the thought of him forgetting her completely became more of a reality.
Just then, a sudden rage from within jerked her back to life.
She slapped him before running away, leaving a confused Touma alone in the alley.
He picked the phone up from the ground and scrutinized the keychain closely.
"I don't know how significant is this, but I suppose I should return this to her before she regrets it."
Touma sprinted out of the alley, hoping that he would be able to chase after her in time.
Author's note: So I recently read a Japanese To Aru fanfiction, although it was a ToumaXMugino pairing, but the first chapter where Mugino wanted to commit suicide by jumping into the river and Touma as usual, tried to talk her out of this inspired an plot idea. This story is the result of several drastic changes to that idea after floating about in my mind for a few days.
Well... if you liked it or you have any comments, you may kindly leave a review below or like/follow if you want.
Hope you enjoyed the story :)