Voyage of Dreams [Collab]
☆ "Leo, Leo!" A gentle voice reached his ears. The extending scenery before him all vanished away, leaving him alone in a world of darkness. "Leo, wake up already!"
"Huh?" Cold air embraced his skin. The boy with short ashy hair and indigo colored eyes slowly regained his sense of self. "Ah, it's just Haruka. Leave me alone."
With a cold response he buried his face into his arms while lying down in the desk, ready to go back to his grand adventure. The girl with long glossy velvet hair and honey yellow eyes wasn't having any of it. They were at the very back of the classroom but the classroom itself was empty, it was already time to switch classes. This wasn't the time to sleep, not for students in this situation.
Her next action was simple, she took hold of the ends of his silver scarf and pulled on them hard and without remorse.
"Whahh-?!" Leo jumped up, now wide awake. "So-sohhr!!" He attempted apologizing but his voice was barely coming out as his breath rapidly ran out.
"Hmph. That's what you get."
"That's not fair!! I was about to embark on a quest to find my true self, how dare you interrupt this!!"
"Yeah yeah, sure." Haruka yawned. "Let's go. I don't plan on getting lost again just because of you."
With an annoyed look on his face, he followed the girl out of the classroom. As he moved onward, he was followed by a tiny floating purple disc. Yes, it was nothing more than a regular looking classroom you could find on any high school.
And yet, a simple look out of the window was enough to remind Leo why he longed for that grand adventure so badly. The scenery reflected outside the clear glass of those round windows was the very might of the vast space itself. A million stars and distant planets extended into the infinite as he stood on this vessel that moved onward towards an unknown fate.
As he followed Aida Haruka down a long white hall with transparent walls and into the next classroom, he knew that this was just his usual life now.
"Ibuki Leo; Aida Haruka. What have I told you about punctuality?"
"Sorry, sensei," Leo muttered as he stifled a yawn. Haruka gave the teacher a few innocent blinks.
They had arrived five minutes late for their next class, astral navigation. Everyone was already in their seats and had their display visors on. The teacher was the former General Torajima; the legendary "Iron Tiger" known for his prowess in defending the fleet from hosile forces.
"Sit down, the two of you. You will each receive a demerit on your record, and if I'm not mistaken, that's three this week for you, young man." Leo felt General Torajima's cold gaze follow him as he took his seat, pulled his visor out of his carry bag, and pressed the switch on the side that would link his display with the large three dimensional map that was currently being projected in the center of the room.
"Ibuki Leo! Put away your data disc; it's distracting!" the general bellowed.
"Sorry, sir," Leo said. He held out his arm and made a series of gestures with his fingers, and the purple disc floated into his outstretched hand and powered down. Leo tucked it into the pocket of his long jacket.
The large map of the current quadrant the ship was traveling in was projected on the visor's display. Leo once again found himself surrounded by stillness, but this time it was the cold, harsh stillness of space, devoid of life and light.
"The day's exercises have been uploaded," said General Torajima, his voice seeming to echo from every direction. "Remember the z-axis! I see many of you still have your 'surface legs.'"
A dark blanket, contrasting with blacks and yellows, and the occasional white, which is shaped as a circle and sometimes a crescent. There are stars which dot the blanket in a intricate pattern. This is space. Or at least a part of it from Leo's perspective while concentrating in the exercise uploaded by General Torajima.
Haruka was with him, meaning everything should go alright. They were just simple simulations, nothing he has done before on his adventures with the data disc or millions of times before in this class. Yet, it was not as if Leo did not care about class. He did find them, inside of him, interesting. What he yearned for was to go back to where their vessel originally was, that is why he fervently believed it wasn't the time to sleep, nor to re-do the basics millions of times again and again due to their current situation.
"Look, I know you are upset about interrupting your quest to find your true self but, can you focus like you always do, Leo? We should've finished this exercise by now!" Haruka sighed. "At least we didn't get lost this time."
"Well, given the time we've been in here it would be silly to get lost. I still do not understand how you manage to do that." Leo replied kind of annoyed, but not by her words, it was because the exercise was so easy he could've sworn they had done the same thing over ten times now! "I just want us to go back and then I can finally--"
"Have your adventure." Closing her honey yellow eyes, she smiled underneath her words. "Okay, so since we are stalling for time with this exercise, tell me: once we are out of this situation, what would be the first thing you would do?"
However, the bell rang, interrupting him. Class was over and they sent their work just as always.
Yes, just like always, Leo thought.
Haruka's words continued to ring in Leo's ears. Was she being too positive? Too hopeful? To think of this situation ever being over. It was stupid. It wasn't pessimism; it was just what it was. Leo and Haruka were both well aware of their fate since the day they were chosen for this mission. A mission to attempt saving the legacy of humanity.
Classes were over and both stepped outside into a bizarre town.
What makes it bizarre you say?
Okay! Imagine one of those old towns you see in RPGs, and now imagine tiny little bits of technology mixed in like floating discs and artificial birds. Seems like this was an attempt to try and make everyone feel like they were at home. Good try, humanity, but they failed step one. After all, the blue skies were replaced by the darkness of outer space.
So then, how were they able to see anything? Easy! They had an artificial source of light above the dome like a fake sun!
"Well classes for today are over, can you stop following me now?!"
"Nope!! I already know what you are up to!"
"Don't tell me... Haruka you..."
"Found out about my plan to make friends with Aliens and use them to escape from here?!"
"..................No. But thank you for letting me know, I'll add it to my list of daily dumb Leo plans."
"Wait... you have a list?!"
"By the way this is plan number 667."
"Isn't that too anticlimactic, shouldn't 666 be a better number?"
"Plan 666 was already: "Let's toss General Torajima into space, if they don't find out it's not murder."
"Don't remind me of that... please..."
Months spent in the hospital were flashing before him.
"Anyway." Haruka coughed. "Class being over doesn't mean we can take it easy, exams are tomorrow and you are doing terrible!"
"Why math?! Why couldn't you come up with something cooler sounding?!"
"Because math is important here and anywhere. Let's go."
A battle waged on in an arena of white.
On one side, Leo stood as valiant as he could despite the cold sweat running down his temple and the quivering sword and shield in his hands.
Opposing him was a creature, whose appearance was far too complicated for him to comprehend.
Where was its head? Where did its weak point lie? The countless symbols that covered the entire creature’s body made it nearly impossible to find the ideal spot one should strike in order to deliver a fatal blow. If he had to make an educated guess, the creature was made entirely out of problems.
As he anticipated his adversary’s next move, Leo asked himself, “Why? Why did things end up like this!?”
It was so much better back then. The creature used to be so small and tolerable; the time its form consisted only of a few simple numbers that made it easy to understand. Now the alphabet was involved, and it made the creature evolve into an entity that lived for one purpose.
Mental abuse to humans.
His indigo eyes widened. Leo saw his life flash before his eyes when the creature extended one of its many limbs to strike him. What would have been a fatal blow to the head was avoided thanks to the shield that displayed random numbers on its display screen when the creature’s limb struck one of the many buttons on its surface.
An opening had been created. Leo kicked a dust cloud behind himself as he charged forward. As he closed in to the striking range, Leo no longer cared where the creature’s weak point was. If he couldn’t figure out the answer, he just had to guess and attack every part of it with the intention to erase every last one of its fibers out of existence.
Meanwhile, in another world called “Reality"...
From the other side of the squared table they shared, Haruka could only watch in bewilderment at how Leo wouldn’t stop stabbing the sheet of paper in front of him with his pen as he hit random buttons on his calculator while muttering threats.
Haruka let out a quiet sigh as she watched Leo’s mischief.
“What a kid…” She thought to herself.
However, despite what she thought, she simply chose to keep her opinion.
“If he fails next exam, he will have to stay overnight redoing all the tests we have done so far.” She said as she let out a small grin.
“I can’t wait to see his face by then!”
What peaceful time those kids were having. Looking at them made it hard to believe their team was assigned on a life-threatening mission.
Before she had realized, Leo had stopped his game, and was now looking at the window, lost in thought.
“Is this the place?” The unnamed man asked the disk.
“No.” Replied the artifact in a robotic voice. “The target is located 15° degrees to the east”.
“Whatever you say…”
It had been a very long walk after last time. It was hard to tell how many days had passed by, since there was no sun or sky here.
There was only a black void over the man’s shoulders, and dry dirt below his feet.
Because the only light came from the purple disk, it would had been impossible to start another journey away from the robotic relic.
Well, not that it mattered much. The man couldn’t care less about where he was going. He simply stubbornly followed the disk as it was his only clue over his identity.
“What about now?”
“Patience is a virtue.”
The man let out a sigh, and simply kept walking, as he followed the floating disk close.
“Is this the place?” The unnamed man asked the disk.
“No.” Replied the artifact in a robotic voice. “The target is located 15° degrees to the east."
That's when he could finally see the sun minutes ago he couldn't. Yes, there was no sun nor sky but, suddenly, everything became so clear.
The cruel sun beat down and the sky was it's co-conspirator with not even a wisp of cloud to soften the harsh rays. Leo wished he could shelter in the shadows of the rocks where the sand was not hot enough to roast him, but there was no shade large enough for that.
The white sheet extended vast before him.
Yes, he knew patience was a virtue, however time was running out and he had to make haste. The only way to find out about his identity was to defeat said sheet of whiteness that extended before him in the vast place where he was.
Against him was a formidable enemy.
That is why the 15 degrees were successful the first time, but now, his greatest fear was becoming real when the word "touché" escaped his lips.
Trigonometry formulas spawned from the ground, ready to take him on. Standing on his own two feet, Leo brandished his ultimate weapon, the Roulette Sword.
"Are you sure?" asked the disk.
"I won't hesitate anymore, in order to find out who I am I need to defeat these evil monsters and I know luck is by my side!"
The sword spun, giving answers to the monsters that spawned one by one, while every time his sword connected with them, a random number would be given as an answer. He was confident, his heart was pounding loudly.
Once every last inch of mathematical data was lying on the ground, he stored the sword and knew the deed was done.
"You seem confident...." Haruka lowered her gaze once they were out of the exam room.
Leo winked his right eye, showing a pencil with random scribbled numbers so, whenever you threw it and it rotated as a roulette, you had to put said number as an answer to the question.
Haruka was speechless.
"Oho, what's this?"
Leo and Haruka walked out of the exam room but they noticed someone entering into their vision. Their faces were marred with annoyance.
"So," The brazen boy said, his orange bangs swished as he craned his neck to the side. "How did the test go, Leo? Crappy like I figured? Horrible as I imagined?"
"What do you want, Jax?" Leo grumbled, spinning his eyes around.
"What~? I just wanna ask how the test went for my dear friend~" Jax's voice cooed, becoming like gears grinding in both Leo and Haruka's ears. "And of course I wanna know how you did since you got my dear Haruka on your side."
Jax walked forward, raising his arm upwards and nearing right to Haruka's head. His arm cradled on top of Haruka's shoulder, his face near hers which only made her cringe.
"Hey, hey, come on, my sweet. Why hang out with this loser when you can hang with the best?" Jax grinned, trying to get closer to Haruka's cheek, though she tried to steer further away from him.
"Gah, enough, Jax!" Haruka jumped out of Jax's arm and headed straight to Leo's side. "I told you--I'm not interested! Just leave me alone!"
"Teh, whatever," Jax shrugged. "Soon you'll be all over me when the time will come."
"The lady has spoken, Jax. Leave her alone,"
Leo glared, his eyes peering right into Jax's line of sight. This only made Jax knit his brows, raising his grin into a snarl.
"Better watch what you say, Leo," Jax grinned even wider than usual. "Or you'll might lose those pearly whites of yours."
Jax turned around, giving an affectionate wave to Haruka before walking away.
"Sorry about that, Leo, for dealing with a guy like him," Haruka apologized, showing a frown to her annoying admirer at the side.
"I rather deal with him everyday than let him do what he wants with you," Leo smiled back at her. "And if this happens again, call me anytime."
Haruka giggled as she smiled without a word. There were no words needed between these two as they continued on to their next class.
Next class was English, which was about as ordinary as you'd expect.
Haruka watched as Leo was surprisingly diligent in doing his school work, but he was merely fantasising while trying not to be so overt about it.
Leo was daydreaming about being a warrior, you could say his fantasies were a way of letting him get out of this hole that he was so bored of.
With every English word he wrote, he pretended to slash an enemy. Haruka raised a brow at how quiet he was.
"What are you imagining this time, Leo?" She asked.
"What's it to you?" Leo retorted.
He didn't really want to let her know about his fantasies, because he knew that she would get on his back for pretending.
"Well, you always look like you're deep in thought! I was just curious, that's all."
"I'd rather not have you comment on every thought I have, like a wife or something."
"Wh-What... That's not what I meant!" Haruka stammered, getting flustered.
"What? You've never dreamed of being a nice man's wife before, Haruka?" Leo smirked.
"No... We're too young for that." She reasoned, crossing her arms with a huff.
Soon enough, their class ended, and the final frontier of the day was soon to come...
...Combat training. It's a given that people in Leo and Haruka's situation know how to beat stuff up.
They've changed into their specialty gear and made their way to the spacious battle hall where they'll be practicing. Today it's just basic hand-to-hand combat, nothing special like Data Disk weaponisation or anything.
Leo, now unshackled by the chains of actual work, is ignoring General Torajima's instructions, going around punching and kicking random training dummies with over-the-top attacks. He's having the time of his life.
"Come on! Show me ya moves!"
"Leo, stop goofing, this is one of the more important lessons. If our fighting capabilities don't advance beyond...whatever it is you're doing-"
"Show me ya moves!"
"-Then, won't be able to save humanity, and then we'll never get out of our situation."
Leo sits atop a pile of training dummies he made earlier, staring out one of the Battle Hall's many barred windows. ("They're barred to prevent cracks I swear", were Torajima's words exactly.)
"Haruka, do you remember Plan number 2?"
Haruka lets out a small chuckle, but you can hear the sorrow in her voice.
"Why would I forget? You made it the day we got into this mess: Find a way back home, back to Earth."
"It's still possible...I know it."
"Even if...no, when we do, it's not going to be how we remember it."
As much as Leo hates it, she's right. After they showed up, the planet became engulfed in a cloud of darkness, leaving the sky blackened and devoid of nearly all sunlight.
Life was still somewhat possible though, seeing as the only things that inhabit Earth even after all this time are monsters, beasts, and creatures beyond our comprehension. Humans left, and make their new home in the stars...
Leo has spaced out at this point; what he's thinking of now, who knows?
☆But this was no time to space out at all. They were still in the middle of combat class. While the class offered training dummies and the like, it was the one class where everyone had freedom to develop their skills in different ways.
"All of that being said." Haruka took a blue disc out of her pocket. By pressing a button, it hovered around her. "If you truly intend to get out of here, then show me what you can do!"
That's right. Haruka hadn't given up just yet. Even though she was the one with good grades, the one who understood the situation the most, the one who knew how impossible it all was, deep inside, she was still going to fight until the very end.
A powerful impact resounded as Haruka's fist made direct contact with Leo's jaw. The boy's body slid across the solid ground. There was no time assimilate the situation or think too much. This too, was the usual after all. But even then, he was up against Haruka. Not only was she at the top of the class when it came to academics but her combat abilities were nothing to laugh at.
Leo didn't have the leisure to get up. Tiny little lasers flew towards him like bullets from Haruka's disc. He rolled to the side and crawled to hide behind a metallic barrier. Many of these were spread around to imitate the environment of a proper battlefield. He knew he had to get his own disc out if he wanted to have a chance. His sudden confrontations with Haruka are why he always had it out to begin with.
The boy reached for his pocket, but the velvet haired girl wasn't going to let him do that so easily. Taking advantage of her suit, she jumped up high. It was like seeing someone jump up on space with no gravity. Going beyond the silver metal barrier, the figure of the defenseless boy came into view. As if she had used the air itself as a stepping ground, she dived down like an eagle after its pray, taking Leo's disc right out of his hands.
Leo gritted his teeth, just how can he get out of this?
He scrambled to his feet as Haruka landed, making the floor shake. Haruka's combat specialty was the manipulation of gravity. She had programmed her data disc to activate a variable gravitation field on her suit, which simulated her weight on other planets. It was usually defaulted to Earth, much like the artificial gravity on the ship was, but she would adjust it to Moon level for high jumps and Jupiter level for punches. A light tap at Jupiter level could be devastating if you didn't have your defenses up.
She smiled at Leo, waving his data disc playfully in the air. "You want this?" she teased.
"Damn it," Leo muttered. "You fight dirty." He made a few gestures with his hand. "But I fight dirtier."
The data disc in Haruka's hand suddenly activated, and a hard light holographic cutting blade projected from it. Suddenly, the blade started to spin, and Haruka yelped as the hard light cut into the palm of her hand.
"OUCH! What'd you do that for?" She looked down at her palm. The nanocloth covering it had ripped and was beginning to soak up her own blood. As she let go of the disc, it floated back to Leo's side.
"All right. It's time," Leo said, gesturing. The hologram of the cutting blade suddenly changed. It became long and pointed, and soon Leo was wielding what appeared to be a crude antique knife strapped to a wooden pole--the weapon he'd used to kill that lion earlier. "You can have all the technological advances you want, but nothing beats old fashioned weaponry," Leo said, as he pointed the blade at Haruka.
"Swords, polearms, maces...No batteries, no wires, nothing."
General Torajima watched the two students as they circled each other, Leo slashing with his blade while Haruka dodged with low-gravity flips and cartwheels. For all his days spent imagining, that boy does have a point, he thought. Perhaps I will add him to the colonization project...
However, the bell rung before Leo could do any more damage.
Once they were out, they found themselves at the Nurse’s Office. There was no one inside since they gave the students full freedom in using the school facilities. Leo waited while Haruka cured her hand with some remedies. The smell has never left the place - a slight but distinct sulphurous odor, a hint of cheap perfume. Leo could not handle all the medical or even chemical smells.
“If you can please hurry up.” Leo muttered while his nose constipated.
“You have no right to ask for me to hurry up given you were the one who inflicted some damage to me. For God’s sake Leo, there was no need to get so serious and deeply injure my hand. Now how am I supposed to keep on with our lessons...?” Haruka sighed. Certainly, it would be hard to write her classes down on her notebook. The velvet haired girl finished up the small bandage on her hand after disinfecting the wound. “There we go!”
Leo looked towards the roof of the room, thinking deeply.
“Yes, you are right. I am sorry, Haruka.”
“Even if it does not sound so sincere I am taking that apology for now...”
Now it was Haruka’s turn to get lost, deep in thought looking at her bandaged wound. She lightly pressed her index finger against the center of the cut and suck in a sharp breath as the pain spirals all across her body. Colorful spots appeared at the sides of her eyes and she had to bite her lip from the pain of it all.
She had to be strong, for her own sake as well. She felt an uneasy sensation on her chest, as if something would happen soon. That is why she did her best, she tried her best in everything. If not, she would feel that everything was meaningless.
And that is the least thing I want to happen, Haruka thought.