Chapter 1:

The Gifted Academy

Soul Weapon


April 16th, 3184
Monday - ???

In the middle of the arena, blood trickles down my face, turning my vision red as I slowly bring myself to my feet. With my scythe in my right hand I attempt to raise it, but sharp cracks fill my ears as I feel my bones breaking further. Grasping my arm, I wince. My opponent stares me down from across the stage. He stops waiting for me and starts to approach. Slowly. I know he’s enjoying this. With each step he gets closer. He cracks his neck, and slams his fists together as he yells something to me, however, I’m too out of it to understand. He’s ready to win and it feels like he’d do anything to do it. Anything. Even kill. What? No, of course not. What am I thinking? This is just a tournament, of course he wouldn’t—Kill.

I get a stinging feeling in the back of my head. A fight or flight sensation suddenly fills my body. I’m going to die—Like, I’m really going to die. He’s going to kill me. I don’t want to go like this. Alone. Please, someone—anyone. I’m going to die. I’m going to be ki—No.

No.

I won't. I can’t. I have things I need to do.

I let go of my scythe and let it drop to the ground. I shoot my right arm forward as dozens of cracks and pops fill my ears once more. Still in pain, my left hand instinctively grabs my shaky right arm with an unremovable grasp. Seeing my movement, my opponent reacts and starts charging, his hands now glowing a bright red. From somewhere within my core—no, somewhere deeper and darker within, I feel a spark light. Words escape my mouth without my permission as I yell.

“Second Gear, Soul Drain!”

Suddenly, a cloak forms around my body as a vortex appears in front of my right hand. Purple energy swirls from it as it looks like it's sucking the life essence from everything around me. Everything and everyone. Almost in slow motion, my opponent slows to a halt with his fiery fist still in the air as his skin starts to shrivel and go a pale white. Then blue. Then purple. And then grey. Almost nothing but skin and bone, with his hair falling out in clumps, my opponent collapses to the floor with a surprisingly light thud.

My vision starts to fade as nothing but darkness fills my eyes. Well, nothing but the glow of his fist below me. Until. It’s gone. Forever.

Within this darkness, I glance over myself. I’m all cleaned up and all of my pain is gone. Like magic. I look around and see nothing but darkness for miles like I'm in some kind of void. Suddenly, it feels as though someone covered my eyes with their hands. Now not even my own body can be seen. I start to panic as a deep fear erupts from within me. Hyperventilating, I try to move but I can’t. Not because I’m forced to stand still, but because my body is fighting itself. I’m too scared to move.

From somewhere deep in the darkness, a sound echoes. I can’t make out what it is. But I hear it again. It sounds like a girl. She’s yelling at me. Despite my eyes being covered by something, a deep glow fills the void. It’s purple. Like I’m inside a giant vortex, slowly eating my soul whole. Again, the voice. But this time it’s closer.

“Kurayami,” she yells.

Wait, is that—

“Kurayami,” she yells once more.

Suddenly more and more hands start to grab my body as I get pulled into the void below. My arms, legs, toroso, head, and neck, all being squeezed and pulled by the invisible hands as I try to find the strength to break free. The yell gets louder and louder as her voice starts to break with each call of my name. She’s in pain. In far worse pain than I’m in right now.

“Kurayami!”

She repeats my name over and over, asking for help, writhing in pain, expecting for someone to save her—expecting for me to save her. But I can’t. The hands grow tighter and tighter, constricting my breathing as her cries grow more desperate until—

“Kurayami! Wake up!”

I open my eyes with a gasp of air. Shaking, I slowly sit up as I feel my back peel away from the sweat-soaked mattress. Not acknowledging the brown haired figure standing beside my bed, I look down at my hands. The same ones as I’ve always had. These hands, stained with a blood that lies deep within that can’t be washed. My right hand shakes. I stare at it, trying to make it still but it won’t. I grab it with my left hand to try and calm it down as I caress it. That dream again—or rather, that memory. But it always ends the same way. With her voice crying for help. Speaking of which, I look up at her as she continues to yell at me.

“Are you even listening? You really want to be late, don't you?”

“Kiyoko,” I whisper.

Kiyoko, a girl I had met only about a year ago, stands in front of my bed. She scans my body with her eyes and looks down for a moment in silence before speaking.

“You have that dream again, Kura?”

I look back to my hands and nod.

“Well,” she starts, “I can leave and you can come to school at your own pace.”

“No, no. I’m fine. Thanks for the concern,” I give her a dry smile.

I pull off the blanket, revealing my boxers I sleep in as I swing my feet off the bed. It's only when I stare at the ground I notice something odd. Kiyoko’s bare feet. I slowly scan her body, toe to head, and realize she’s in nothing but her pink lace underwear.

“Uhh,” I mutter, “W-Why are you in your underwear?”

“My—what,” Kiyoko stutters.

Kiyoko looks down at herself noticing the sight that I see and immediately squeals.

“Oh my god! Pervert,” she yells, trying to cover her body, “Stop looking!”

I turn my head and place my hand in front of my eyes as I retort, “It’s not my fault you came to wake me up in your underwear!”

Kiyoko quickly turns around and runs to my bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her.

“Why didn’t you put any clothes on before you came in here,” I yelled through the bathroom door while getting dressed myself.

After a moment, a muffled voice responds, “I did! But my APM has been acting a little weird lately so I guess it removed my clothes right before I woke you up—because I definitely had them when I entered your room!”

I almost forgot; my APM. I took to my bedside table and grabbed the cellphone-looking device from the drawer. An APM, or All-Purpose Menu, is a device given to students at the Gifted Tempus Academy, the school that both Kiyoko and I go to. The APM, through Nano-Phygital Technology, breaks physical objects down to the nanoscopic scale and converts it into raw data, which gets stored onto the device digitally. It acts almost like an inventory menu in a video game. It’s able to store our books, tools, clothing, and almost anything else we need within reason. The APM also does act as our cellphone, hence the design. There are many other things it can do, but the APM is borderline magic. I guess that’s what you’d expect living in the 80s—the 3180s to be specific.

For some strange reason, Kiyoko’s APM has been malfunctioning lately, making her clothes disappear, her notebooks switching while she uses them, and even swapping the food she eats with her stuffed dog—which she keeps in her APM at all times for some reason.

Kiyoko exited my bathroom with her school uniform on as she slid her APM into her skirt pocket. She notices my glare and averts her eyes, her face bright red.

“A-Anyway,” Kiyoko stutters, “You really can’t do anything without me, can you?”

Although I hate to admit it, Kiyoko's kind of right. I never wake up on time and I forget to make my own meals. I’d probably be dead on the side of the road somewhere if it weren’t for her.  It's honestly a miracle I met her. I didn't have any friends growing up and for some reason what I did didn't bother her. For about a year now, she's been keeping an eye on me and making sure I don't end up in some ditch.

“Yeah, yeah. I get it,” I wave my hand as I grab my bag, “Thanks for waking me up.”

“You do realize your APM has an alarm right,” Kiyoko asks, rolling her eyes as she exits my dorm room.

“Aw, come on,” I chuckle, “You know I always sleep through it!”

Kiyoko closes her eyes, shaking her head, “Hopeless,” she mutters.

I lock my dorm as Kiyoko walks down the hall. I cross my arms and lean on the balcony railing, looking at the path and trees between us and the academy. Many people exit their dorms, heading to the school. You’ve got the nerds, the jocks, the popular ones—typical social groups just as you’d see at any regular school, despite the unusual nature of our.

“Come on Kura, we’re going to be late! Quit daydreaming,” Kiyoko yells as she grabs my arm, dragging me down to the ground level.

Both Kiyoko and my dorm rooms are quite a ways away from the academy—we might just be the farthest group of dorms away than anyone else. And to add on top of that, they’re the oldest and most run down. Hooray. As we approach the school, Kiyoko asks a question.

“Do you mind if we go to the science department to get my APM looked at after school?”

“Oh yeah, that’d definitely be good to get it looked at sooner rather than later. We can’t have any more incidents happening,” I say with a grin.

Kiyoko blushes as she pouts and runs a few feet ahead of me.

Suddenly she spins around and asks, “Hey, Kuro,” Kiyoko looks down and wiggles her foot, “Are you doing anything this weekend?”

Caught off guard with the sudden question, I take a moment to think. It’s only Monday so I’m not quite sure what I’m doing come the end of the week.

“Uh, I don—”

Suddenly an arm wraps around my neck as I flinch.

“Oh, shoot! Sorry bro, did I scare ya?”

The somewhat short, blonde student jumped off of me and landed between Kiyoko and I, leaving us in a triangle formation. He looks at me, then at Kiyoko, then back at me, and repeats this multiple times before speaking up.

“Did I just interrupt something important,” the boy asks as he looks back to Kiyoko, ”I…”

He couldn’t finish his sentence as daggers were basically shooting out of Kiyoko’s eyes directly at the boy’s chest. He slowly inched his way toward me, never turning his back to Kiyoko.

“Hey big bro,” he whispers, “Think I’ll make it out alive if I make a run for it?”

“Yes, Miho,” I nod, “But I’d run as fast as you can.”

Miho nods before dashing at what looks like light speed. With him out of view, Kiyoko sighs and returns to her regular calm self.

“I’m sorry,” she apologizes, “It’s just for some reason your brother gets on my nerves so easily. He always interrupts us at the worst possible times.”

I chuckle as I walk next to her, continuing on to the school.

“Oh, that’s right,” I say, ”Speaking of which, what were you talking about before Miho showed up?”

Kiyoko looks down and fiddles with her hands with a pouty, but thoughtful look.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

Without making a big deal out of it, I slowly nod my head. It seems like it was something important. But if it’s important enough, she’ll bring it up again before the weekend. I’d rather not pester her about it. We continue to our homeroom in silence.

Our school works a little bit differently than most. Instead of splitting up students in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, they’re all attending the same school at once. The different levels are split up into three different sections, all named and grouped according to regular school practices. This forces our academy into a triangular shape with a large, open courtyard in the center of it all. Every student, and I mean every student, lives on campus. All nearly 2000 students all live here alongside each other. Kiyoko and I are in grade 10, which puts us in our first year of the High School Division.

Not much is known about what happens to students after they graduate. Since most of our lives revolve around this school, we don’t know what happens after it. Rumor has it, however, that there is a secret level beneath the entire facility that further teaches the students into what would normally be the post-secondary level. But that just sounds ridiculous.

The grade system isn’t the only unique thing about this school, however. It’s also the class system as well. The first four periods are your standard classes that any school would teach. I’ve got Language Studies, Math, Geography, and History. But it’s after the break that the final two classes start, and those are when things get interesting.

Midway through the first period, I start dozing off due to my lack of sleep the night before. A slam fills my ears as I shoot up and try to act as though I’ve been paying attention the entire time. Our homeroom teacher, Mr. Takahashi stood in front of my desk, holding a meter stick that he just slapped it with.

Pointing at me with the ruler, he spoke, “Mister Kurayami, please try to stay awake in your classes. And if you can’t, please try to resolve any problem you may be having that causes this lack of sleep. It’s in your best nature to do so. Thank you.”

I gave a nod to Mr. Takahashi as I apologize. Something about the way he phrased that gives me a kind of itch that I can’t reach. Pulling me away from my thought, however, I notice that Kiyoko is trying to hold in her giggles in her seat to the right of me. I smile and shake my head at her.

Leaning over, I looked at what Kiyoko was writing down to get a sense of what was happening in the class, but as I did, her APM decided to throw her workbook into her inventory, causing her to write on the desk for a moment. She lets out a little squeal as she quickly apologies to the teacher. I start to laugh, both uncontrollably, but also as revenge for my embarrassing moment just a few seconds ago.

Thankfully class ends and we move on to math, a class that I’m surprisingly fine with. As we wait for the next teacher to show up to class, I see none other than Miho enter the classroom at the same time as Miss Watanabe, our second period teacher. She gives him a look as he cautiously tiptoes around her. Miho sits in the empty desk to my left as the teacher continues to hers.

Miho leans forward, looking past me, to Kiyoko and starts to speak, “Hey Kiyo, I’m sorry about earlier,” Miho apologizes.

“It doesn’t matter now, does it?” Kiyoko huffs.

I looked from Miho, Kiyoko, then to Miss Watanabe before speaking, “Miho, what’s going on with you and Miss Watanabe?”

Instead of giving a proper response, Miho simply closes his eyes and giggles like the devious little child that he is. I don’t really know what I was expecting, Miho’s always joking around.

For the next three periods, it’ll be us three learning next to each other. Miho didn’t join us for our homeroom and first period because he’s actually a couple years younger than me, and shouldn’t actually be attending these classes. However, Miho wanted to—in his words, ‘take the easy way through’ and skip ahead to some advanced classes with Kiyoko and I. This is proving to be extremely ineffective as I’m forced to help him every five minutes every time he sighs in frustration and spreads his upper body on his desk, crying for my help.

In this school, students can take any grade level classes they want and could potentially pass a grade 12 class without having to touch any other subsequent classes before that— only if they’re smart enough, however. That’s why Miho and Miss Watanabe don’t see eye to eye. She doesn’t like it when students skip to more advanced classes, and Miho has skipped a lot. There are many years where he does almost no work at all and then decides to catch up by doing some seriously advanced work. In reality, he should be at a grade eight level, but due to his laziness, he’s forcing himself to skip to a grade 10 level.

For the next two classes, the three of us pass by them with ease—well, two of us do, anyway. Finally break time, and normally, Kiyoko and I go to a little hidden spot she’s found at the academy. But because I didn’t pay too much attention in the first period, Kiyoko sat me down at one of the library tables to help study what I missed.

Break quickly finishes as I stretch and let out a sigh. We pack our things and make way to our fifth period class. Unlike the other classrooms, this one is divided from the hallway, not by a regular sliding door, but with a heavy steel double door. Pushing open the large doors, you’ll find yourself at the back of a classroom, double in size as any other. The back half is home to many desks and chairs meanwhile the front half has a large LED blackboard that covers most of the wall, but the interesting part is the padded flooring with railings that shield it from the desks. It’s something that you’d think to see in some kind of gymnasium or training grounds.

Well, that’s because it is.

Fifth period class is Soul Weapon Education. This is where The Gifted Tempus Academy starts to show its unique side.

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Soul Weapon


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