Chapter 1:

Rhythm//Addict

KAIJU//HACKER



"So" a boy with short black hair said as he pushed along a very tired girl wearing headphones around her neck, "you break any high scores last night?"

"I dunno." The girl, Lucy, replied. "I don't think so. What are we talking about again?"

"C'mon!" The boy moved his arms in an exaggerated manner. "I know you were up playing videogames last night. Why else would you have stayed up til' 4 am?!"

"Oh yeah, that's right!" Lucy seemed to awaken a bit from her tired stupor. "I didn't."

"You didn't what?" The boy looked confused. "You didn't stay up until 4 or-"

"I didn't break any high scores." Lucy replied. The life seemed to drain from the boy as he heard those words.

"You shouldn't stay up so late." The boy reminded his friend.

"I know." Lucy glanced away from the boy for a moment.

The boy sighed. "Are we going home or do you want to hit the arcade?"

Lucy stopped as though she had received some revelation from the heavens. Her friend's expression changed from concern to panic in a matter of moments. 

"Are you okay Lucy?!" The boy held her by the shoulders and began to shake her. "Wake up, please! I'll call the ambulance-"

"Let's go to the arcade!" Lucy smiled as she shouted in no general direction. Her friend fell backwards in disbelief.

"Don't scare me like that!" The boy shouted at her. "I thought you were having an attack or something."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Lucy seemed oblivious. "You know that's not how it works, right?"

"I know but that doesn't excuse the fact that you need to take this more seriously!" The boy continued shouting. "Your mom is relying to me to make sure you don't get into an accident because of this."

"You sound just like one of our teachers when you talk like that, Kaden." 

"I don't care!"

Everyone in the hallway was now staring at the two young adults arguing next to the school's front door. Kaden, the boy, turned to stare across the room before silently grabbing Lucy's arm and dragging her outside.

"What was that for?!" Lucy asked as she pulled her arm away from Kaden.

"I don't want to make a scene." Kaden replied. Lucy looked at him awkwardly for a bit before turning back towards the parking lot. 

"I guess..." Lucy looked down for a moment in contemplation before stepping off of the sidewalk onto the asphalt. "There's no use dwelling on the past right now. Let's get going!"

"You're always full of optimism, aren't you?"

Lucy and Kaden made their way through the city streets. The part of the town around their school was kept clean and relatively crime-free. The arcade the two frequented was only a few blocks down the road and was run by a former student who started it over the summer. Most of the kids at the school were actually pretty well-off when it came to money, it was in a fairly high-income neighborhood.

Lucy was the first to step inside the arcade, she spun around and turned towards Kaden as he entered. "So do you want to start with the dance game or no?"

"If we start with that it's all you'll do for the rest of the day." Kaden looked a little bit disappointed.

"Alright then, we start with other stuff." Lucy turned to look towards the wide range of arcade cabinets. "I remember when this was all they had in here." She gestured towards a the game they referred to as "the dance game".

"We're not doing that one yet."

"I know. I know."

Kaden walked over to one of the cabinets, it was plastered with images of soldier-looking adult men shooting guns into the abyss. "This one looks fun" Kaden said, "it's two players as well."

"Sure, let me try!" Lucy jumped over to the second player spot. She pulled a small wallet out of her coat-pocket and removed a card from it. She slid the card through a small device attached to the arcade cabinet and the game's screen began to shift.

Kaden and Lucy were able to get to around 5 arcade cabinets before Lucy's urge to play the "dance game" could no longer be suppressed. The two walked up to the cabinet and paid by card. The game was pretty popular, there was a line of about 4 people waiting to play. Lucy and Kaden went to the back of the line and waited for about 16 mins before finally getting to play. The whole time they were waiting, Lucy was playing some rhythm game on her phone.

"Why wait in line for this long if you can just play on your phone?" Kaden asked.

"This is just practice." A grin formed across Lucy's face as she slid off her headphones and stepped up to the dance floor. The game was simple, both of the two players stood on pads that consisted of a directional grid, having to step in a specific direction timed with the beat. "You ready?" Lucy prompted Kaden.

"You bet!" Kaden smiled and did a few hops on the grid before selecting a song.

Several moments later, Kaden was sweating bullets as the word "DEFEAT" blinked across the screen. He was having a hard time breathing. "That was a good round." He said, leaning against the guard rail behind him.

"Yeah! I'm ready to go again!" Lucy said loudly.

"I think I'll have to tap out for now." Kaden said.

"Well then." Lucy twirled around to face the people waiting in line. "I'll play against any one of you, who's in?!" She shouted. Most of the people in line had played against her before, she wasn't worried about losing to any of them. 

Lucy defeated her opponents one-by-one, never seeming to tire from the constant activity. The line eventually cleared up, leaving behind only one man, a boy about her age with long blond hair who wore thin square glasses.

"I haven't seen you around here before." Lucy turned to face him as he stepped towards the stage. 

"I haven't been around here before" the boy said, "but I figured I would have some fun while I was here."

"Fair enough." Lucy smiled at him. "Good luck!" The boy smiled back.

It was the hardest game that Lucy had all day. This strange boy was pretty good at the game, or maybe Lucy was just getting fatigued. Either way, Lucy just barely inched by undefeated.

"That was fun!" Lucy was exhausted. "What's your name?"

The boy turned towards Lucy and extended his hand towards her, seemingly having not broken a sweat. "Oh, my name is-"

-cut-

Lucy's memory resumed as she was walking down the street alongside Kaden. This was the road that led to her mom's apartment. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and checked the time: 7 pm. Last time she checked the time it was 5, but that was before she had started playing the dance game. 

"I've been having an attack" Lucy turned to Kaden, "I bet you didn't even notice."

"Nope" Kaden replied, "it'd by worrying if I did."

"I guess." Lucy and Kaden continued to walk down the street. "By the way, I don't think I ever got that guy's name."

"I feel bad for him, you two seemed to get along pretty well." Kaden said. "You even exchanged phone numbers; he had you download this weird app too."

"Really, what app, why?" Lucy scrolled though the apps before finding the one that was out of place. The logo was some circular pattern, the app was called "kaijufinder". "What's this supposed to do?" Lucy launched the app, which only seemed to be the camera app with a weird overlay.

"I don't know, but it seemed to do something when you pointed it at him." Kaden said. Lucy aimed the camera at Kaden as the app scanned his face and brought up a box.

>Kaden Miller, 18
>No additional notes

"That's weird." Lucy said. "It seems like some kind of facial recognition software."

"Weird." Kaden added. "Anyway, you asked for his name. It was Gabriel."

"Gabriel..." Lucy pulled up her contacts app and scrolled through. A new name was listed: Gabriel Holt. "Yeah, he's here. Is there anything else I should have remembered?"

"Not to my memory." Kaden said. "If he asks you about it you could tell him everything-"

"No."

"Yeah." Kaden looked down at the ground, realizing what he had said. Lucy had been suffering from attacks for 8 years, ever since the destruction of New York. She was one of the only survivors. The doctors supposedly said that the attacks were caused by trauma, rather than any form of brain damage. They called it chronic amnesia. It causes her brain to not form permanent memories for a random span of time. Kaden was around to make sure that she didn't forget anything important, his dad was an old friend of Lucy's mom from college. It had been a week since the last attack, the longest span of time yet. Lucy's mom had hoped that the attacks had finally stopped.

"Kaden." Lucy said.

"Yeah?"

"Please don't tell mom."

"But I can't-"

"I don't want her to hurt any more, I'll tell her later if it happens again." Lucy smiled at Kaden, but he could tell that she was just as worried as he was.

"Alright." Kaden said. "I won't tell her."

Kaden dropped Lucy off at her house and said goodbye. Lucy's mom wasn't around the house today, maybe she was out shopping. Either way, after her exhausting day and lack of sleep from the night before, Lucy was exhausted. She immediately went to her bed and fell asleep, it was around 7:30 pm, June 2nd.

-cut-

Lucy woke up at 5 am; it was still dark outside. She rolled out of bed and put her long brown hair into a ponytail swung over her shoulder, exactly like she did every other morning. Just as she was getting done fixing her hair, her phone rang. The number wasn't one she recognized, but her phonebook did: Gabriel Holt.

"Why was he calling me?" Lucy thought. "What did I tell him yesterday?" She considered not picking up, but her curiosity had gotten the better of her.

"Hello, this is Lucy-"

The voice over the phone cut her off mid-sentence. "Meet me on the roof of your apartment building, you have 5 minutes."

"Hey!" Lucy replied. "What is this, some kind of joke?!"

The voice on the other side hung up.

Lucy was disturbed. Did she tell Gabriel where she lived? Why would she have done that? Was he stalking her or something? Why? She knew that there was only one way to get the answer, but she wasn't sure whether it was a good idea. What if Gabriel was dangerous? What if that wasn't Gabriel on the other side of the phone at all? 

By the time she had come to a conclusion, a minute had already passed. Lucy reasoned that if he was going to hurt her, he would have already done so. She put on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a dull pink coat, and set her headphones around her neck before heading up to the roof.

Waiting for her on the roof was the boy she met at the arcade. He was wearing a short-sleeved white dress shirt with an olive-green dress shirt loosely covering his sleeves. Lucy swore she saw a red glint in one of the lenses on his glasses, but she might have just been seeing things. 

"You're just in time, Miss Turner." The boy said while glancing to the side. "I was worried you weren't going to show up."

Just then, from behind Gabriel, Lucy saw a strange yellow light erupt from a point deeper within the city. The light quickly expanded to become a large, spherical grid that enveloped the New York skyline. Within a second, the grid passed by her and Gabriel. She looked off towards the edge of the grid to see it vanish a few miles out from the city's edge.

"What was that?" Lucy asked apprehensively. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm already aware of your condition, Miss Turner." Gabriel said. "I was waiting to tell you this until after your memory had recovered." The boy turned towards her. "I need you to do me a favor."

"What do you mean? What's going on?"

"I need you to deal with that." Gabriel gestured to the point where the light emanated from as a surge of cube-shaped rubble blasted from the ground in the distance. Upheaved dust blocked her view of the source, but she could see a faint outline start to form.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Lucy shouted. "Are you insane? Whatever's going on here is for the government to deal with."

"I am the government's way of dealing with it."

"What's that supposed to mean?" As the dust cleared in the distance, Lucy could finally see what was going on. A giant creature, or maybe a machine, rampaged in the distance. It looked like a massive dinosaur covered in giant metal plates. The creature was as tall as a skyscraper.

"You'll also need to deal with that one." Gabriel casually put his hand to his right side, towards the ocean coast. A large splash of water erupted from the waves and shot into the air.

"I'll ask you again, what the hell are you talking about?" Lucy was getting annoyed. This had to be some kind of prank. There was no way what she was seeing was real.

"Check your phone."

Lucy reached into her pocket to find that the strange app that Gabriel had supposedly installed was already open. "What did you do to it?" She asked him.

"Don't worry, you'll be able to use it just like normal." The boy still maintained a casual tone. "I must ask you though, how many people will you let die before you do something about it?"

"What?!" Lucy was shocked. Was he saying that this is her fault?

"If you had a chance to stop something like the destruction of New York 8 years ago from happening, would you do it-"

"Absolutely."  Lucy responded before Gabriel had even finished his sentence.

"You respond quick." Gabriel replied. "Use your phone to take control of the monster on my left. I'll explain to you everything else afterwards."

"What?!" Now, Lucy was just confused. What was even going on anymore?

"Do I have to explain it to you?" 

"Uh... yeah?"

"Use the app I installed and point your phone at the big thing over there. It should automatically detect a valid target from this range and allow you to lock onto it. Press the button in the middle once you're locked on to take control." As Gabriel finished explaining, he stepped to Lucy's side.

Lucy aimed her phone at the creature, it kind of looked familiar, like something from a movie. As the monster in the distance came into focus, a yellow box formed around it and a large circle in the center of her screen lit up.

"This whole thing seems so stupid." Lucy turned her gaze towards Gabriel for a moment.

"Just you watch." He replied.

Lucy's thumb made contact with the button on her screen. She felt a searing pain in her left eye before her vision went dark.

-cut-

Lucy awoke somewhere else. She didn't feel any wind or heat, and all around she only saw a pitch darkness. Suddenly, she was standing in a small train station, looking on from the platform towards the tracks. Across from her was a small girl wearing a yellow raincoat. Lucy saw a glimpse of the girl before a train rushed by and her vision went black once more.

This time, however, there was a piercing light in the distance, as well as a voice.

"Don't worry, you won't remember me."

"Who are you?" Lucy thought. "Where am I?"

There was no answer.

Lucy gazed into the distant light and reached out. She didn't see or feel an arm, but it was her will that extended itself towards the light. As she connected towards the light, she felt her senses return. Only, something was different... Lucy looked down towards her arms to see buildings below. What seemed to be her arms were massive chunks of mechanical mass vaguely resembling limbs. She tried taking a step, only to hear crashing and screaming below.

"What's going on!?" Lucy thought to herself frantically. "Am I controlling that creature?!"

Lucy's perception began to pull back slightly. She saw a panel with a thin red outline appear to her right. "Correct." A voice over echoed throughout the abyss of her mind. She recognized the voice, it was Gabriel.

"What am I supposed to do now?" Lucy asked. Her voice echoed inside of the body she inhabited, not reaching the outside. Lucy suddenly felt her weight shift. The arms that were once vague masses of metal formed into giant gauntlets of steel. She felt her legs become more nimble. Did the creature transform?

"You might want to pay attention to your right." Gabriel's voice said. As he spoke, Lucy felt something grab onto her and smash through the armor on her right arm.

"What was that?!" Lucy looked over to her right to see a massive creature with giant tentacles and a gargantuan metal beak wrap its appendages around her arms, preventing her from moving. "Couldn't you have prepared me for this?" The creature began to drag Lucy towards its gaping maw.

"We call it the Kraken for short. It's functionally a giant octopus, you can maybe use that to your advantage."

"This thing is an octopus?!" Lucy was struggling to break free from the giant creature's grasp.

"Maybe I can destroy these tentacles." Lucy thought to herself. She pulled one of her arms out of the Kraken's grip and grabbed onto one of the tentacles holding her other arm in place. She used all of her might to tear the appendage out of its socket, causing it to whip around in recoil and smash into a nearby building.

"Try to keep collateral damage to a minimum if possible." Gabriel said.

"Easier said than done." Lucy replied. 

Moments after Lucy broke free from the tentacles' grip, the creature grew two more tentacles in the place of the one that she removed. "Really" She thought, "it couldn't have been that easy?!"

Just then, a thought occurred to Lucy. She had an idea. The creature latched onto her, this time grabbing onto both of her legs as well. Lucy was pulled into the air and the creature began rapidly reeling her in. This was what she was waiting for.

Lucy broke her right arm free and extended it in time of her impact with the creature. The Kraken closed its jaws when it noticed Lucy barreling toward it. Her fist made contact with the Kraken's beak, shattering the brittle alloy. Inside of the creature's mouth was a yellow glow, a contraption of some sort.

The creature released Lucy in shock and screeched in agony. Lucy thrust her open hand into the Kraken's shattered maw and pulled the contraption out from inside. A cable connected the device and the rest of the creature. She held the object high and crushed it in her hand. The Kraken left behind one scream of anguish before disintegrating into tiny yellow cubes that quickly dissolved and a large flash of blood that painted the windows of nearby skyscrapers.

Lucy was victorious. She felt a wave of exhaustion across her body before her perception cut once more.

-cut-

"Welcome back, Miss Turner." Lucy awoke lying down on a bench next to Gabriel, who spoke with a mocking softness in his tone.

"What am I doing here?!" Lucy shot up and looked out to the horizon. She was still on the roof of her apartment building.

"Relax" Gabriel stood up and put his hand behind his head, "I only put you on the bench because you would have been lying on the ground otherwise."

"Did I pass out or something?"

"Your mind linked itself with another body" Gabriel explained, "your brain would have been fried if it hadn't disconnected from this one."

"You removed my brain from my body?!" 

"No, it was still physically there."

"What do you mean by that?!"

"I'm not qualified to explain that."

Lucy pouted and looked over to the skyline. She distinctly saw the buildings that she had destroyed during the battle standing tall above the city, as though her fight had never happened. "What happened to the city?" She asked.

"The DC Projectors repaired the damage that the kaiju caused. We only had theories, but it seems that if we activate ours ahead of time, we can mitigate the damage to the city."

"Explain that to me in English."

"The device that creates a kaiju saves a snapshot of the world around it when it turns on. If we reset the device, it restores the area saved to its previous state."

"So all of the people that got hurt-"

"Anyone who was injured likely recovered in an instant, but the DC Projector can't bring back the dead." Gabriel was looking in Lucy's general direction, his face bearing a neutral expression.

"So how many people died because of that thing?!" Lucy shouted angrily at Gabriel.

"I don't know" Gabriel's face remained expressionless, "probably a few hundred."

Lucy finally realized the severity of the attack. Her eyes shifted from an anger to pure dread. "I killed people. What had I done?" She muttered.

"More people would have died if you hadn't stepped in."

"You made me kill people, why?!"

"To save others, sometimes a sacrifice must be made." Gabriel's face was still cold and unmoving. "This won't be the last attack; you'll have to be more mentally prepared next time."

Lucy pulled her phone out of her coat that threw it at Gabriel, he caught it with ease. Gabriel simply tossed it back at her.

"You just happen to be capable of taking over a kaiju without dying due to your unique condition and circumstances. Wouldn't it be unfortunate if we had to sacrifice a few others to save this city?"

Tears began to well up in Lucy's eyes. "I can't do it; I can't kill anyone else."

"You'll be killing more people by giving up."

Lucy's eyes connected with Gabriel's. She scowled at him before shooting up and grabbing the neck of his shirt. "Who are you?! What did you do to me?!"

"I personally did nothing." Gabriel replied. "Everything that happened was because of the incident 8 years ago, though I doubt you'd remember that."

Lucy's mind began to race as her perception began to blur. She recognized this feeling, this was another attack. Before her memory completely faded, she saw a cruel smile form across Gabriel's face. She threw a punch at him as the world around her faded.

-cut-

✰Azunya
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