HOPES and FEARS
This story is a piece of Fanfiction, drawing from A Certain Magical Index and Familiar of Zero.
This story contains spoilers for the Novels up to, and including, New Testament. We start at the end of the Baggage City arc (New Testament Volume 4) for A Certain Magical Index and at the beginning of the first novel (Zero's Familiar) for The Familiar of Zero.
Chapter 1: The Emergence of Two Heroes. Disappearing_Right_Hand
A certain spiky-haired boy lay bleeding and unconscious on the floor of an arena in what had once been the base of the proud Anti-Academy City Science Guardians. His right hand - the source of all his misfortune, the power that destroyed illusions, and the weapon that propelled him to such great heights - lay a few feet away, severed roughly from its wrist.
Othinus. The one-eyed Magic God who had done this cruel thing to him. She stood a short distance away, eyeing her enemy.
A failure named Ollerus. The man who had almost become a Magic God in his own right.
"Hurry up and leave with the Dvergr. I have business with that Imagine Breaker."
Othinus stared at him contemptuously - and started her attack. At the same time, Ollerus counterattacked.
The one witness to this scene, Kumokawa Maria, a Level 2 Esper from Academy City, had no idea what had happened - except that two great powers had clashed, and they had more or less been equal. The young blond man named Ollerus was well-matched with One-Eyed Othinus. Meanwhile, Imagine Breaker continued to bleed out on the floor.
"Give it up. This will settle nothing," said Ollerus.
"Do you think a mere failure can stand before a pure Magic God?" Othinus snapped.
Maria was feeling dizzy. It was bad enough seeing Kamijou Touma lose his hand, and now, just trying to keep up with the two monsters before her was taking its toll on her mind. She shook her head and tried to focus.
Kamijou Touma...Oh crap, I'd better do something about that hand! But what…? I can't possibly do surgery here! Better stop the bleeding first though, at least!
The girl dressed in a showy black and yellow maid outfit hurried forward, getting as close as she dared, starting to produce a clean cloth to wrap around Kamijou's wound. Ollerus and Othinus continued to trade invisible blows nearby, paying her no heed.
But something odd happened before Maria could get near enough to do anything.
Kamijou's body started rising.
There was a strange object just behind him, floating in the air. It looked exactly like a floating mirror. Ollerus and Othinus frowned, but both were too busy concentrating on the other. Kamijou continued to rise, like a wooden puppet being manipulated by a lousy puppeteer. He slowly floated towards the mirror.
What was that? Maria gasped. "No!"
She ran with all her might to Kamijou, and grabbed his body. She knew next to nothing about magic, but her instinct told her that this was something dangerous. Or, more likely, all the events of the past few hours had put her on her guard. Even benign-looking objects could tip the scales of the battle and lead to tragic outcomes.
She pulled with all her might, and then some. But Kamijou's body just kept floating towards the mirror. Now, Ollerus and Othinus had completely stopped, and both were watching on. Othinus looked somewhat interested, and Ollerus looked wary. Both were unwilling to move just yet, still keeping an eye on their enemy, but both were also preparing to kick off and attack or defend.
As if sensing this tension in the air, the force pulling on Kamijou's body intensified, and pulled him even faster towards the mirror. Maria screamed and made one last desperate pull on his legs.
But it was too late. Kamijou's body was lost. It was lost to whatever lay inside of the silver mirror.
A great power rose in response. Imagine Breaker. The right hand that had served as a vessel for the Fantasy Killer came undone. Every blood vessel, every nerve and every strand of muscle was taken apart as the invisible power of Kamijou Touma's right hand was released from its restraints and chased after its master. As Kumokawa Maria reached for the Mirror, trying to salvage what she could, Imagine Breaker flew past her, temporarily rendering her unable to use her psychic powers as it brushed her face, and flew straight at the mirror portal.
The portal shattered just like a regular mirror would when a fist was thrown at it. Maria stumbled through shiny, ephemeral fragments of a phenomenon unknown to her.
Tristain Academy of Magic.
An Academy meant for the powerful and wealthy nobles of the magical continent of Halkeginia. It was located in the Kingdom of Tristain, and attended mainly by mages of the same country; although noble children from other countries were allowed admission as well. Reflecting the pride and prestige of the great school, the complex was Pentagon-shaped, with each vertex signifying one of the great Elements of Magic: Wind, Water, Earth, Fire, and the legendary Void,
Compared to the tense atmosphere of the arena in dark, cold Baggage City, lost to the ravages of the Kiharas and the darkness of Academy City, the mood was much lighter in the Academy's Vestri Court, if a little mean-spirited.
Mean-spirited? Well, of course. There was that one girl who was getting jeered at at this moment.
Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Vallière. Louise the Zero. A teenaged girl with a petite figure and striking pink hair. She was dressed in the Academy's uniform, which comprised a white blouse, grey pleated skirt and a black cloak.
It was supposed to be a glorious day for her (she had hoped). The day when she would make a contract with her one and only magical partner - a familiar that would serve and accompany her for life. And, like in every other matter pertaining to magic, she had utterly failed.
Where others had summoned great and mighty magical beasts like dragons and salamanders, all she had managed was...a single lowly commoner.
He was not particularly good-looking either, with plain features, dull black hair, a slight tan, and a stupid expression.
But he was the one who had appeared when she had cast the "Summon Servant" Spell. This one boy who could not even speak the same tongue as her until a translate spell had been cast on him. Really, which backwater was he even from?!
"Well then, continue with the ceremony." urged her teacher, Mr Colbert, a bald middle-aged man carrying a staff and dressed in black robes.
"With him?" she whined.
"Yes, with him. Hurry. The next class will begin any minute. How much more time is this summoning going to take? After mistake upon mistake, you have finally managed to summon him. Hurry and form a contract." Mr Colbert's words were harsh; the words of a frustrated teacher. Louise bit her lip unhappily and faced the commoner boy with an air of 'let's just get this over with'.
"You should count yourself lucky. Normally, you'd go your whole life without a noble doing this to you."
The common boy she had summoned was a Japanese teen named Hiraga Saito. He had been in confusion ever since he was brought to this world - by a strange mirror-like object that had just appeared in front of him in Akihabara and swallowed him whole while he was out getting his laptop fixed
He had no way of knowing that a very similar mirror-like object had appeared halfway across the world in a wintry city in Eastern Europe where it had absorbed a certain denizen of Japan's Academy City along with his strange power to negate all magical and psychic phenomena.
Where was he? Who were these people? What was this pink girl trying to do to him?!
He realised the answer to the last question, at least, in a second. She was kissing him.
It lasted barely a few seconds, after which she removed her soft lips from his, and said with an air of finality, "It is done."
"What's done? What did you just d-do to me?" Hiraga Saito sputtered, overcoming the shock of having his first kiss stolen in such a random fashion.
The pink girl glared at him in a high-handed manner. Saito glared back and was just about to press for more answers - but he doubled over in pain instead.
His entire body was burning up, almost like a really bad fever. It felt really bad on the back of his left hand. He raised it painfully and looked at it - there were some strange squiggles on it. The bald man in the robes walked over to him and looked at the squiggles.
"Hmmm...These are very unusual Runes," he said, then frowned.
"Wh-what?" Saito demanded, feeling better now that the pain had gone, but the teacher's attention was elsewhere. Saito followed his gaze, turning his head back to look behind him. There, a few metres back was…
A shiny silver mirror floating in the air.
Saito blanched. That! That was the symbol of his misfortune. It was the blasted object that had appeared in the middle of Tokyo and transported him to this strange place with weirdos in robes and a pink girl with a cute face and a bad attitude. The mirror shimmered and ripples formed in it, like the mirror was made of liquid.
And then something came out of it.
It was a human being. A boy with spiky black hair, dressed in what appeared to be a black school uniform with an orange T-shirt inside and a scarf around his neck. He fell out of the mirror, as if he had no control over his own body, and hit the ground hard, landing with his face down. His right hand was missing. The students gasped and some screamed.
"Oh Great Founder, I think I'm going to faint..."
"Guiche-sama, do something about that man!"
"A-Ahaha I would, but...such a being is below my attention!"
"Calm down! This is a world-class Academy, and we are prepared to face anything, even severe injuries!" Mr Colbert bellowed, as he approached the handless boy.
"What's with Louise? She just keeps summoning commoners today!"
"Louise the Zero! If you are going to keep summoning odd creatures, could you at least refrain from doing them harm? Even if they're commoners, it is in poor taste to hurt them like this!" a girl with blond locks complained.
"Or at least summon a handsome nobleman!" Urged another girl, a fiery-haired, dark-skinned beauty with a seductive smile, not even worried about the situation.
"N-no! I did nothing! I have no idea where this...thing came from! Eeek!" Louise shrieked and turned away in fright as her blue-haired classmate Tabitha pointedly stared at the commoner boy's bleeding wrist.
But Saito did not care about any of that. The mirror was in front of him. His ticket back home. It didn't occur to him that it may no longer be working. He wouldn't know until he tried. He struggled to his feet and stumbled towards the mirror. Picking up speed, he practically threw himself at it.
But then, it shattered, giving way just as he was about to fall through it. He landed painfully on his front. As he fell, he thought he felt an unnatural wind brush his cheek - almost as if it had come straight out of the mirror, breaking it in the process. The wind rushed towards the other boy. As all this happened, everyone suddenly froze. Their eyes were fixed on the boy lying face down on the ground. The students who had so arrogantly boasted of their familiars and jeered at Louise just moments before were now silent and quaking in their fine clothes. A fair few had even stumbled to the ground, unable to hold their footing. Even the teacher, Mr Colbert, seemed scared of something. Saito rubbed his cheek and stared intensely at the injured newcomer, not understanding what the fuss was all about.
He was not perceptive enough to feel it, but there was something immensely powerful emanating from the spiky-haired boy's wrist. Had it not been crushed by Othinus, the Magic God, earlier? It surely had. And yet, it was back. The Mages could all feel it, and they all felt threatened by it.
"Keep...down." a small, weak voice said. "Stay out...of this."
It was the handless boy himself. The teacher let out an audible gasp upon hearing this. Suddenly, the invisible power that the boy had been letting out disappeared, as if it had been shattered. And indeed, there was a loud sound, just like that of a glass pane being shattered.
Almost as if in response, the "wind" that had rushed out of the mirror portal settled. The next few seconds were surreal, to say the least, for Saito. He witnessed what would most definitely be considered a medical impossibility in his homeland. The spiky-haired boy's hand grew back. The bones appeared out of thin air, followed by the flesh, blood vessels and nerves, and finally, the skin. Saito remembered that the people around him had mentioned magic before. He had dismissed it as a bad joke before, but faced with this sight that made him question his sanity, he was forced to reconsider his initial opinion.
When a tense minute had passed, there was a fresh hand at the boy's right wrist. The boy, still lying face-down on the ground, clenched his fist a few times - slowly, weakly, as though he was testing it.
"Just...what are you?" the bald teacher asked, with not an ounce of strength in his voice.
The boy had already fallen unconscious once again. The shock of losing his right hand, only to regain it minutes later, was just too much for that Level 0 boy.
"No way...Louise, did you just summon a noble?" The comments were a little shaky, but it seemed everyone's fear was quickly disappearing.
"Don't be ridiculous! How could that be a noble? Just look at the state of his body and clothes! A true noble would not be caught dead in such a state!"
"Plus, a noble would never be defeated in such a fashion - except to another noble. And we know that is impossible because a noble would never inflict such an injury on anyone. It is just...animalistic!"
"Maybe he's another Zero! Who knows, maybe he got defeated by his own spell, just like somebody we all know?"
The sheltered noble students came up with their own theories on what had just happened, also taking the opportunity to insult their classmates. A fat boy with blond hair and a timid way of speaking said shakily, "But if he was not a noble, how could he have healed himself?"
Comments from this boy, Malicorne de Grandpré, would normally be met with snorts of derision and maybe some jeers, but this time, everyone was forced to think about what he had just said. Commoners could not use the magic of nobles. That was the unwritten rule Nobles and Commoners lived their lives by. Louise's mind raced.
"Mr Colbert...could there possibly be a mistake?"
"Whatever do you mean, Miss Vallière?"
"Maybe...just maybe, this man could be my familiar instead of that...thing?" she wrinkled her nose at Saito, who belatedly realised she was insulting him ("Hey! What am I, a pile of trash?!").
Mr Colbert regarded her sternly. "Miss Vallière, I have already explained to you the importance of summoning your own familiar, have I not?"
"Y-yes, Mr Colbert?"
"Do you remember what I told you about our Springtime Summoning Ritual?"
"T-that it is a sacred rite?"
"Exactly. Now that you have summoned a familiar and sealed the contract with him, how can you let yourself think of discarding him in favour of another? Reflect on your actions, Miss Vallière!"
"Yes, Mr Colbert." said Louise dejectedly. "But what are we to do with this gentleman?"
All the students stared at Kamijou Touma, then at Mr Colbert. The bald teacher sighed.
"I do not know what has happened here, but I do intend to find out. All of you, return to your classroom. I will bring this boy to our healing ward and find out more about him when he wakes up. Until then, I want everyone to focus on their lessons! There will be no meaningless speculation on what has happened here. Rest assured, we professors will explain everything to you when we have our answers!"
With that, the students, who had started noisily chattering to themselves, quietened themselves, and started edging away slowly, unwilling to part so quickly from the scene of such an unusual event without any answers. Louise curtly beckoned to her new familiar. "Hey, you! Come with me. We're leaving."
"Where? And you still haven't answered any of my questions!"
"Silence, commoner! How dare you address me so informally?!"
Ignoring the chatter, Colbert approached the body of Kamijou Touma and examined it carefully. The right hand had originally been missing, and a great suffocating power had leaked out of it - only to be sealed when a replacement hand suddenly appeared back on the boy's body. Mages being able to regrow their own body parts had been heard of, but the stories about their personalities were not too promising. Colbert pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind, however. Right now, there was a boy who had clearly undergone some kind of trauma recently; questions about his personality could be left till later, once he had been healed properly. Colbert stood up and took out his wand to cast a simple levitation spell.
Kamijou's left foot rose, followed by his left hand. Then, the right foot. Colbert frowned. It was true he did not specialize in wind magic, but since when was his levitation this unstable? Just as the right hand was about to rise, there was a high-pitched sound, like glass shattering, and the boy's body fell.
The spell had failed.
The students, who had been preparing to move off, stopped and turned their necks to look. Suddenly very self-conscious, Colbert tried the levitation spell again - only to get the same results. The students fully turned around, some with bemused smiles. Trying to figure out what was wrong, Colbert smiled uncomfortably and tried casting "Levitation" on himself. He rose gracefully like a feather lifted by a breeze.
"Clearly the problem is not with my magic." he mused to himself. "But more importantly! We have no time for this! I will determine what is happening later. For now, we need to have him taken care of!" He looked around at the class. The short blue-haired girl looked up and whistled. A great blue dragon gently descended on them.
"Sylphid will help to carry that mysterious boy." she said quietly.
"That is very helpful of you, Miss Tabitha." said Colbert cheerfully. He picked up Kamijou and placed him on the dragon.
Between The Lines 1
A certain girl with brown hair, glasses and an ample chest sat in a cafe sipping coffee. She was wearing the winter uniform of Kirigaoka Girls Academy, and would have had the air of a wealthy ojou-sama - if not for the slightly timid look on her face. Opposite her was a young girl in a white and golden nun's habit, wolfing down snacks like some mythical snack-eating monster. There was also a cat on the chair next to her, purring softly
"Mmmm this is simply divine! Thank you so much for treating me, Hyoukaaaa!" Cried the nun. The uniformed girl smiled gently.
"Oh, it's nothing...Did Kamijou-san go somewhere again?"
"Touma just left without saying a word! He just left me and Sphinx alone in his dorm. With no food!" The nun raged.
"We'll, I'm sure he has important things to do..."
"More important than coming back to play with me?" The nun whined. The Kirigaoka student looked sympathetic.
Kazakiri Hyouka. A mysterious being, indeed. She was not human, but rather, an aggregation of AIM Diffusion fields emitted by the hundreds of thousands of Espers in Academy City. She was an amorphous entity that was forced into a human-like shape thanks to the threatening presence of a certain boy's right hand.
She was an artificial angel created through science.
This was what Kazakiri Hyouka was. One would expect a being as powerful as her to be fearless - especially against something as insignificant as a Level 0. However, that right hand was something she feared on an instinctive level. Just as a person would reflexively pull her hand away from a hot surface, she would pull away from the existence known as Imagine Breaker. Of course for her, touching the Fantasy Killer wouldn't end with a simple burn.
But just a few hours ago, something had changed. She felt it faintly, yet clearly.
It was as if a great weight had been lifted off her chest. She felt...free. Like a predator chasing her had just randomly decided to give up the chase. She felt big, like nothing could stop her.
She felt lonely, like she had just lost a friend.
"What's wrong, Hyouka?"
"Uh? O-oh, it just..." The timid girl sighed, "It just feels lonely without all of us here together,"
The two girls sighed again.
Warning signs flashed repeatedly before the eyes of the "human" suspended in a tank of liquid inside what was probably the strongest building in the world, located in Academy City's District 7. Aleister Crowley mentally waved these away and started a specific program.
Biometric confirmation complete. Validating connection.
Welcome back, Aleister-sama.
Reading Thoth 78 artificial intelligence is beginning the input task.
Starting discussion regarding Imagine Breaker.
Imagine Breaker is the name given to the ability to nullify other powers, be they of scientific or magical origin. It has taken many forms throughout the ages, and in it's current form, it resides within the right hand of Academy City Level 0 Kamijou Touma.
This level 0 is unable to create any observable phenomena using quantum theory based on his personal reality, and so far has not shown the ability to create phenomena using a different set of laws created and refined outside Academy City. There are many theories surrounding Imagine Breaker, and some would put him in the same category as divine powers, indeed.
However, out of these different theories, one that is of special interest has this to say about Imagine Breaker:
"Hey, Aleister. mind if we talk?" A voice cut in. Aleister, the general superintendent of Academy City turned his head slightly, diverting his attention from the AI that was briefing him on Imagine Breaker. The voice had come in from the special channel used only by UNDER_LINE, a system of nanomachines that permeated the City of science and transmitted information to Aleister's headquarters. His computer had been tracking the man behind the voice since the second he entered the city, and when he picked up a simple radio used by Anti-Skill, UNDER_LINE had patched his voice over to Aleister's HQ and played the audio as soon as he said spoken. That was how "interesting" this man was.
"And what are you doing here?" Aleister asked smoothly. "Failure?"
"I wish we could have a face-to-face, but I guess that's not gonna happen, is it? Anyway..."
"Is it Gremlin?"
"Well, this is related to them. I have two things I wanna talk to you about. The first is about that Imagine Breaker boy."
The hospital gown-clad Superintendent remained silent and waited for the failed Magic God to continue.
"You probably already felt something was off about Imagine Breaker recently, but did you know he's gone?" Ollerus was blunt.
"He disappeared from Baggage City after that whole Natural Selector fiasco. I'd say he might not be in this world anymore, but, hey, what do I know?"
Aleister had indeed been tracking Imagine Breaker. He knew something was wrong ever since 5h45m ago, but Imagine Breaker had disappeared? From this world? The prospect was ridiculous. Just as Reading Thoth 78 had said, Imagine Breaker existed in several forms, and even if Kamijou Touma had died, the power to destroy illusions would have survived in some form or another. Granted, Imagine Breaker was a valuable chess piece to Aleister in its current form as Kamijou Touma's right hand. But it was not like other forms of the same power could not be used by Aleister.
"Oh come on, would I lie to you?" the voice said playfully. "I saw it happen myself. He was taken by a portal - to where, I don't know. Even if you don't believe me, one of your people saw it too. Some girl with black locks and a black and yellow maid costume. Heh~ I bet Silvia would rage if she saw that getup."
A picture of Kumokawa Maria appeared on a separate screen, called up by the computer after hearing Ollerus' description.
"You are saying the boy with the ability to negate even divine powers was sucked through a supernatural portal?" Aleister asked skeptically.
"Oh, his right hand had been cut off at that time. I suppose that's how it was possible. Imagine Breaker still works though. It also went into the portal, and destroyed it along the way. I guess you can think of it as a man running through a tunnel divided into many sections, with these sections collapsing only after the man has passed through them. As long as our man runs fast enough, he can make it to the exit of the tunnel before it completely collapses. In other words, Imagine Breaker destroyed the portal, but at the same time, somehow managed to get through."
"An unusual metaphor, but it serves."
"Hmph. Let's not waste any more time. I just came to tell you what I know 'cause I was hoping you guys would do something to bring that boy back. We may need his power in our fight against Gremlin."
"Is the man who stepped into the territory of a Magic God asking for help?" Aleister's voice had but the slightest trace of mocking in it.
"No. Well, not really. This brings me to the second thing I wanted to talk about. We're not going to waste time on Imagine Breaker."
He took a deep breath and continued, "You probably have heard of all the theories about Imagine Breaker - you wanna know what I believe though?" Ollerus did not wait for a response and said, "Imagine Breaker is the collection of all Magicians' Hopes and Fears. It is a reference point that gives us an accurate measure of the world untainted by severe magical distortions. Some Magicians consider it a source of hope, as it symbolizes a way to return the world to normal after it has undergone a distortion. In other words, we magicians can do whatever we want without the fear of major repercussions, since we have the reference point of Imagine Breaker. It's like ruining the computer you use for work, but not feeling bad about it because all your files are backed up in the cloud."
He paused for breath, then continued, "And at the same time, other magicians consider it one of their fears, as it removes the distortion they have purposefully wreaked on the world. It's like embarking on a massive architectural project to remake the urban layout of a city, only to have the city's superintendent back out at the last moment and order your layout scrapped in favour of the old city layout."
"Magic God Othinus is on the warpath. She wants to completely master her powers so she's no longer constrained by the 50% failure rate of her infinite possibilities. According to our intel, she wants to do this using Odin's legendary weapon, the Lance of Gungnir. This will remake the world, and she sees Imagine Breaker as an evil temptation that distracts Gremlin from their goal.
"So what will you do?"
"Isn't it obvious? We're gonna go crush Gremlin. We don't need Kamijou Touma but I can't deny I'd feel more at ease with him around. Think of it as insurance, if you like. Or perhaps...hope. One last trump card to derail Gremlin's efforts by destroying their spiritual items. And if it comes to it, he could be the reference point to bring the world back to what it used to be." If he, or anyone else, was still alive at that point.
"Good. Now, I'd say Norse Myths would be a good starting point for this search. Everyone's heard of the legend of the rainbow-"
He was cut off from that point onwards. Aleister Crowley was not a being to do as others bid him do. Nor was he so helpless he had to rely on the Failure to spoon-feed him information.
But having said that, the disappearance of Imagine Breaker did throw a wrench in his plans. He needed that boy back in this world. He started dictating a message to a certain old man who happened to be a member of the Board of Directors.
"Kaizumi Tsugutoshi. I have a job for you and that brain of yours"
And when he had finished that, he opened another channel to a certain backstabbing multi-spy with a fetish for sisters, and dictated more instructions.
Information had to be gathered, and people like Tsuchimikado Motoharu and Kumokawa Seria were the masters at these arts. Of course, Aleister could do it himself, but he had other things to do. After all, a good leader's worth is determined by how well he gets others to do various tasks that lead to a beautifully executed master plan, isn't it?
Between The Lines 2
Misaka Mikoto was a busy girl. The Ichihanaran festival was coming up and just about every student and teacher in Academy City, in other words, almost everybody in the city, was stretched to the limit playing their given roles. Students worked on decorating their schools and preparing items to make themselves stand out. Anti-skill officers and Judgment volunteers like a certain big-breasted, jersey-wearing woman (who had traded in her jersey for a proper uniform) and an air-headed girl with flowers on her hair were out patrolling the streets and balancing enforcing security with allowing the students to have the best possible cultural festival experience.
However, even in such a situation, Mikoto was not focusing on her work. Her thoughts kept drifting back to what had happened not too long ago. She had accompanied a certain misfortune-ridden boy to Hawaii and had shared with him the kind of adventure one normally only reads about in over-the-top light novels. She had long been waiting for him to say something to her. Something like "Lend me your strength". Or "Help me". Or even a simple phrase like "I'm scared".
Granted, it was not his idea to have her come along to Hawaii. The credit for that went to Leivinia Birdway, who even put them together initially for that operation (she blushed hard just thinking about it). But she had stood beside him and fought for him during that one time. A feeling of exhilaration had run through her body when she took on the Trident forces back then. Not because she enjoyed fighting and curb-stomping ordinary humans (or magicians or fellow Espers, for that matter), but because she knew that she had finally made it to the stage where Kamijou fought. It felt like she had finally caught up to that boy whom she had been chasing for so long.
And then, he had tossed her aside. She clenched her fist hard, remembering how the Hawaii incident had ended for her. Knowing him, he had blown her off to avoid getting her mixed in with his issues and not because he hated her or anything. But who was he to rob her of her own choice? Who was he to keep sticking his head into others' business, often doing so in the most rude, intrusive way possible, and then bar others from intervening in his fights?
"That...hypocrite. Ohh what do I care anyway! That idiot can just do as he pleases!"
Oh, and which idiot would that be, Onee-sama?" A formal voice practically dripping with sugar asked. Mikoto's face flushed and she immediately turned away from her junior.
"N-n-n-no one! You must have been imagining things, Kuroko, ahahaha!" Mikoto deflected weakly.
"You can't possibly be thinking of that boy, could you?" Shirai knew that boy as he had saved her life during that unfortunate incident with the Tree Diagram Remnant incident, and not too long after, he had actually gone on a date with her Onee-sama ("I'm losing...to an ape like this?! Gwaaahh!").
Her blushing face and vehement denials were more than sufficient an answer for Shirai.
"I knew it! It is him! How could you do this, Onee-sama, when you have meeeee...!"
"Kuroko!" Lightning zapped out and deterred the groping hands of Shirai Kuroko.
"Well, whatever. Like I said, I don't care about that idiot anymore. If he doesn't want my help, he can just go fight on his own." She whispered the last sentence. Too bad she was not aware that Shirai's hearing selectively improved whenever she was the one speaking. She wondered if she should be happy that her prospects had improved, or if she should be sad that her beloved Onee-sama had been seemingly locked out of someone else's life. But that someone was fighting, so perhaps it was good that Onee-sama was kept away from hardship? Shirai sighed. Misaka Mikoto was a kind person, one who would smile even through torture if it was for the sake of someone she loved. A person like that would feel tormented just knowing someone they knew and loved was out there fighting a battle she could have no part in.
Shirai cast her eyes down. I don't like the way she feels so strongly about you, but whoever you are, you'd better come back and greet Onee-sama with a smile. She won't rest easy until she knows you're fine. I'll won't tolerate anything more than that, though! She's mine!
And the two girls walked off to continue with their preparations.
Mr Colbert was currently overseeing four common school helpers carry away the spiky-haired boy on a stretcher.
"Sylphid will help carry that boy."
But, the second they had placed that boy on the back of the blue dragon, the majestic creature had reared violently and thrown him off. It might just have been Colbert's imagination, but had the dragon only thrown him off when his right hand came in contact with its skin?
"Kyui! Kyui kyui!"
"What's wrong, Sylphid?"
Rubbing his head in confusion, Mr Colbert said, "It's alright. I'll call for some commoners to come and have him taken away. If Sylphid throws him off again, it could be dangerous for him...keep your chin up, now, Miss Tabitha. I think there is something odd about this boy. It's not your fault,"
The students slowly dispersed as 4 men from the kitchen staff came down to help Colbert carry the boy away.
All magical means had failed, and they were forced to resort to mundane methods. Once they reached the Healing Wing, he was set down on one of the beds.
"Marc! Come and take a look at this young man!" Colbert called out to the minor noble who performed healer duties at the Tristain Academy of Magic.
A young black-haired man wearing stylish black-rimmed glasses, had been feeding his familiar (a bright red and black ringed serpent) some meat, but came over swiftly at Colbert's words and checked Kamijou's vital signs. "Looks like he's sleeping or something. A little pale, but that could be his natural skin tone for all I know. Minor cuts and bruises, like he fell hard from a short height. What happened to him?"
"You won't believe this, but..." Colbert recounted the events of that day.
"Come on, Mr Colbert, sir. You can't be serious! A commoner as a familiar? Please! And a guy who came flying in through a portal and who self-healed his severed arm? Not even a square-class water Mage with 50 years of experience in healing could do that!" Marc whipped out his wand and set Kamijou up with basic healing spells while he talked.
"Question my entire class if you want, Marc. Even if I was mistaken, there is no way so many students could have been seeing things, is there?"
"Oh, I will look into it." Marc promised. "But let's say you're right. If that Zero student of yours ["Don't be rude, Marc."] really managed to summon a human familiar from some distant land, then I guess it wouldn't be too far fetched to assume that someone else could be summoned at the same time. After all, 'summon servant' works by creating a portal to a Mage's destined familiar and pulls them through time and space to the Mage. Since Miss Zero keeps messing up her spell work, I guess she could theoretically create another portal by accident and call another familiar to her side."
"Marc, you know as well as I do that each Mage is only allowed to contract with one familiar. This is a time-honoured tradition since the beginning of-"
"Yes, yes, I know. This guy isn't a familiar, but...shall we say, a byproduct of Miss Zero's summoning spell. Besides, this is all just in theory, ok? Anyway, I suppose you brought him here not just here to heal him, but also to investigate him, right? I can help you with that. I'll find out as much as I can about him, if you do the same for the other familiar. Putting both their stories side by side and comparing them might give us a better picture of what's going on."
"Well, that's helpful of you."
Marc looked aside, a look of irritation crossing his face. "You're not the only one who wants to get to the bottom of this, Mr Colbert. There's something really off with this guy."
"What do you mean?"
Marc scowled at Kamijou and spat, "My spells aren't working. I set him up with some basic broad spectrum healing spells that will fix up cuts and bruises and minor internal injuries - in other words it's a simple remedy for the few times he fell earlier. But I could feel my magical power dissipate within seconds of being cast." Marc had been paying close attention to Kamijou's body and the progress of his magic, even as he was conversing with Mr Cobert, and he could tell something was wrong.
"Well noticed," Colbert praised honestly. "Like I said earlier, my spells didn't work on him either, when I cast them on him earlier. This resistance to Magic seems somehow linked to his right hand."
"I'll patch him up and question him when he wakes up. I'll send word via Asclepius." Marc gestured towards his snake familiar.
"Right. I'll go question the other human familiar too."
The two noblemen parted ways there, both determined to solve this little mystery.
Neither of them knew, but Kamijou Touma had unwittingly set in motion a great chain of events just by coming to Halkeginia. His power was no ordinary one. It was "nothing", "zero". And yet, it was everything. An entire war had been started over it, and it had also been there to end that same war. It had could oppose all the supernatural powers in the world, and yet, could not defend itself against a simple knife. It was the Fantasy Killer, the Hope and Fear of magicians the world over.
Imagine Breaker had arrived in Halkeginia.
To Be Continued
Chapter 2 preview
"YES! I can finally get away from Bayloupe and go see my beloved"
"Whatever world you're in, the golden rule applies: you'll need money to survive. How about working for me, Mr Kamijou?"
"What?! A-a-a-academy C-c-city?! A-amazing! Are you a cyborg?! Show me your 1001 transformations!"
We'll meet up in Academy City District 7 13 hours from now
At the Kamijou Residence"
"Lessar - remember to learn how to open the gate properly
If you don't...this is goodbye forever, y'know"
"Just you wait, you big IDIOT! I'll cross the 9 worlds and kick your butt for blowing me off in Hawaii!"