Chapter 1:


Black Eden: A Sinner's Salvation is Another World

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The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. - Oscar Wilde

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Everything was pitch black for a moment. Bookmark here

All I could hear was the sounds of a whirring engine. Bookmark here

That of a bus. Bookmark here

I opened my eyes. Bookmark here

The first thing I saw was a window with the view of a vast green valley. The radiance of the sun was warm, not too hot, not too cold, not too bright, just right. A gentle breeze blew on the grass and trees, and a steady stream of water flowed across the valley. Bookmark here

What a relaxing view.Bookmark here

This made me wonder….What the hell am I doing here? Why am I on a bus? Why can’t I remember anything? And why are my hands cuffed to my seat? Am I being kidnapped? What for? Are they planning to sell my organs on the black market? Is this some sort of human trafficking? Am I going to be a slave?Bookmark here

As these troubling thoughts occurred in my head, I felt a light thud on my shoulder.Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

It was the head of a blonde girl with her hair tied up to a ponytail by a red ribbon. She was breathing softly, like she was in a peaceful slumber. I’ve never had a cute girl lay on my shoulder before! This is making me feel very nervous! Should I wake her up? No, that would be rude. But then again, she’s the one who invaded my personal space! Though, she seemed to be having a wonderful sleep. I didn't want to disturb her even if I could. What do I do then? Am I supposed to stay still, stiff as a board? I can’t move my hands either to adjust my position! This is getting a bit uncomfortable, but it also feels kinda good though…..Bookmark here

I noticed that she was wearing a white windbreaker jacket with black stripes and looked at my own clothes. I was wearing exactly the same thing. I stretched my head to check the other people on the bus. Everyone has the same jacket on them. Looks like we’re all made to wear some kind of uniform.Bookmark here

The blonde girl lifted her head up and opened her eyes. They were tinted with a reddish amber hue. She tried to open her mouth to yawn, but some drool ended up dripping from her mouth. Yikes.Bookmark here

She tried to move her arms to wipe it off, but they were cuffed to her seat as well.Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

Instead she decided to suck the saliva back inside her mouth.Bookmark here

“Um, good morning,” I said.Bookmark here

The girl looked at me and stared for a while. Then she smiled.Bookmark here

“Good morning!”Bookmark here

…………………..Bookmark here

Then there was a moment of silence. Wait, what now? What should I say next? I don’t think I have much experience talking to girls, either that or I don’t have any memory of it. This might be a little awkward. Oh wait, I know what to ask.Bookmark here

“Do you remember anything?” I said.Bookmark here

“Uhm, not really,” the girl said. “Just my name, Samara. What about you? Do you remember your name?”Bookmark here

“My name, huh…..”Bookmark here

What was it again? Bookmark here

Suddenly, a name popped out from my empty head. Leone.Bookmark here

“My name….is L-Leone, I think. I don’t remember anything else.”Bookmark here

“Leone, like a lion. Meow!” Samara said.Bookmark here

“Umm…no. That’s another animal.”Bookmark here

"Ah, haha, I'm kidding. But don't you think it suits you more?"Bookmark here

"You mean being a cat?"Bookmark here

"Yeah, you seem more like the cute type of guy, so it fits well! Maybe you should try meowing?"Bookmark here

This girl, what the hell is she even talking about?Bookmark here

"Huh? Are you just messing with me?"Bookmark here

"Hehe. Perhaps you can say that. But seriously, I get this cat-like vibe from you."Bookmark here

"I don't get it…."Bookmark here

“I wonder if any of the people here know something about what’s going on,” Samara said.Bookmark here

“But they’re all still asleep though and stuck in their seats, they might be just like us,” I said.Bookmark here

KZZZZHHH! Bookmark here

The monitor in front of my seat suddenly turned on and a loud static noise played on the speakers.Bookmark here

“Gah!” I screamed.Bookmark here

“Pfft, hahahahaha!” Samara laughed.Bookmark here

“Not funny! I’m surprised you can even laugh in a situation like this!”Bookmark here

“Sorry, sorry. I can’t help it! That scream was pretty cute for someone named after a lion!” she said with a smug look on her face.Bookmark here

“Hmph, whatever,” I said.Bookmark here

The static noise woke up everyone else on the bus, then the sounds changed to cheery jazz music and the screen displayed the words, “Please wait for a moment.” with a smiley face.Bookmark here

It looks like everyone has their own screens too….Bookmark here

After that, it switched to a video of a long orange haired-man wearing a black fedora and a black aristocratic coat. His eyes were covered with black shades.Bookmark here

“Greetings, children! We are the Alter Foundation and we have all invited you to be here with us today. You can call me, Mr. Hatter! I'm here to explain why you are all here!” he said.Bookmark here

The Alter….Foundation? Mr. Hatter? They're the ones responsible for all of this?Bookmark here

“To put it simply, everyone on this bus has been judged as 'Sinners' and must be executed for their crimes!”Bookmark here

People started to murmur amongst themselves after Mr. Hatter’s words.Bookmark here

“Huh? Sinners? What is he talking about?” a person said.Bookmark here

“Is this some sort of sick joke?” said another.Bookmark here

“This must be some sort of mistake!”Bookmark here

“Let us out of here!”Bookmark here

“Why are we being treated this way?”Bookmark here

Me? A sinner? I don't understand….Bookmark here

Crimes? Can someone like me really be…..Are we being brainwashed in some way?Bookmark here

“Settle down, settle down. I know you’re all afraid and confused, but I am kindly asking you to let me explain,” Mr. Hatter said.Bookmark here

"The world does not want you anymore. Because you're different. A black sheep. An outcast. Let’s just say each and every one of you is a Sinner, and you’ve done something that people fear and despise. Something that has caused you pain and suffering. Everyone has considered you a criminal that deserves to die. And that is why you chose to disappear from this world, to run away, forget everything and place your life in my hands."Bookmark here

I don’t understand. Why would someone like me accept to be kidnapped into who knows where? And what exactly did I do wrong? Bookmark here

"If you do not believe me, see for yourself!"Bookmark here

The screen switched to a video of me with my head hung down, and my eyes were depressed, as if I've been through something horrible.Bookmark here

"Will you choose to accept my offer?" the voice of Mr. Hatter said in the video.Bookmark here

I looked up and simply said,Bookmark here

"Yes. I don't want to go back."Bookmark here

W-what…...why……why did I choose to accept the offer?Bookmark here

I looked at Samara and some tears fell down her eyes.Bookmark here

"Why am I….crying? I don't understand," Samara said.Bookmark here

“Now, you must all be wondering what I offered all of you in those recordings,” Mr. Hatter said. Bookmark here

“Luckily for you, there is an alternative for criminals who aren’t above the age of 18. I offered you salvation! That is to be a part of the Black Eden Project! To live a new life, in another world. A new home. A magical place separated from the rest of the world. Pretty fitting for all of you Sinners, the black sheep, outcasts from the flock. ”Bookmark here

“What if we don’t want to join?!” a guy with a pale blonde spiky undercut said. “How do we know this isn’t some dumb scam or trick?! With all this restraining and memory wiping, why would we ever trust someone like you?!” Bookmark here

“Well, either way, you don’t have much of a choice! You're all pretty much on death row. Once you all reach the age of 18, your lives are over. Are you really going to waste your precious youth waiting to die?” Mr. Hatter said.Bookmark here

Black Eden Project…..another world? Is it really somewhere I want to be in?Bookmark here

“Don’t forget, it was you who chose to be a part of the Black Eden Project, and I welcome you! There lies an environment fit for special juveniles like you! A place where you can live your own life however you please, unbound from the rules of the world!”Bookmark here

“And if you ever wonder what makes you so special to the point that you have become a Sinner, it is up to you to discover your own sins. I would say it’s like a forbidden fruit that should never be eaten! However, if your heart truly seeks it, then perhaps you may find it. Although, I’m not sure you would even want your memories back!” he said, smiling mischievously.Bookmark here

My memories…I want to know. Who I am. But the past might just be a nightmare, so I should just focus on the present for now. I still have my doubts and worries about the whole situation. What if the Black Eden Project has a hidden meaning? What if means working as a slave, or being tortured, or getting my organs harvested? Or some other scary fantasies? Aw, I’m still quite terrified!Bookmark here

“Anyways, that’s all I have for today! Thank you for listening! Good luck, everyone! I hope you do well on your journey! The Alter Foundation bids you all farewell.”Bookmark here

The screen then turned gray and the words, “Thank you for cooperating with us!” were displayed.Bookmark here

After the announcement ended, people started murmuring amongst each other.Bookmark here

“What do you think, Leone? About Black Eden?” Samara said. “It sounds fun!”Bookmark here

“Um, I don’t know. It sounds like the opposite for me,” I said.Bookmark here

“Wait, look!” Samara said.Bookmark here

The bus stopped in front of a fenced military outpost guarded by a group of masked soldiers with black outfits. After a while, they opened the gate and let the bus inside the base.Bookmark here

Up ahead was what seemed to be a giant tunnel leading deep inside the mountain. Once we entered inside, our field of vision grew darker. I patiently looked at the endless gray of the walls and watched every light pass through my eyes. Where exactly were they taking us?Bookmark here

The bus had finally reached the end of the tunnel and stopped at what looked like a parking area with a variety of vehicles. Bookmark here

Our metal cuffs were taken off the seat and we were free to leave the bus. Bookmark here

“Where are we?” the blonde spiky-haired kid asked.Bookmark here

“No talking. Just do as we tell you to do,” a soldier said.Bookmark here

“At least answer my question, damn it!”Bookmark here

The soldier hit the kid’s head with the back of his gun and started to aim at him.Bookmark here

“S-sorry!” the kid said.Bookmark here

“Hey. We can't be harming these kids. They're all important specimens for the project. We can’t afford to be in trouble with the higher-ups, ” another soldier said.Bookmark here

“Tsk, damned Sinners, why do they even bother giving them a second chance? So what if they’re just teenagers? The world would be better off without them,” the first soldier muttered.Bookmark here

4 soldiers escorted us to the front of a huge bunker entrance. The doors slowly opened and we quietly walked inside. We were then taken to a huge elevator big enough to accommodate around 40 of us (not including the guards) and we slowly went down. Bookmark here

And down…….How deep does this even go? What if it malfunctions and instantly drops to hell?Bookmark here

I looked at the elevator controls and saw that we were headed towards level 20, the deepest part of the bunker.Bookmark here

………….Bookmark here

Haha, this won’t take long at all. My anxiety of falling has not yet failed me. Bookmark here

After a long wait, the elevator had finally made its way to the very bottom. I think I feel a little dizzy…..Bookmark here

“Keep moving,” the soldier said.Bookmark here

We walked through a long hallway and stopped in front of a huge bay door. One of the guards put his keycard on the lock at the side, causing the doors to slide open.Bookmark here

This is….Bookmark here

It revealed a deep open cavern and a bridge leading to a huge dome-like structure in the middle.Bookmark here

“C-Co-”Bookmark here

Before Samara could say anything, I covered her mouth tightly. The guards looked at us in suspense, which made my heart jump a bit. T-that was close……Bookmark here

When we had reached the entrance of the dome, the guard used his keycard again to open the doors.Bookmark here

“This is your last place in this world. Please proceed to the dome quickly. Everyone’s waiting,” the guard said.Bookmark here

We all entered the dome. I looked back and saw the guards staring at us, before finally closing the doors to lock us inside. Looking to the front, I saw more people dressed up with the same white jackets like our group. They were all around the same age range as us. We’re all on the same boat.Bookmark here

I took one step and noticed something odd. Bookmark here

This is….grass? Bookmark here

I touched the ground to confirm and it felt like the real deal. Bookmark here

H-how? Bookmark here

I looked up and saw a claw shaped machine pointed downwards from the top of the dome connected with lots of wires scattered everywhere like spider webs. At the very center of the machine was a glowing orb of energy that I assumed to be its main core. What was that for? Is it going to shoot at us? Oh, it definitely is!Bookmark here

“It has been confirmed that all 300 Sinners are finally present here,” a voice on the speaker said. “We are now ready to begin in T-minus 1 minute. Please take a moment to brace yourselves and stay away from the center of the dome.”Bookmark here

“Are we really going to be taken to another world?” Samara asked.Bookmark here

“I hope it doesn’t just kill us instead…”Bookmark here

The sound of a deep humming could be heard, indicating the activation of the machine and slowly building up power. Bookmark here

“Your only objective is to start a civilization in this world. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you are able to survive as a group. Good luck in your new life, Sinners. Be free.”Bookmark here

The claw machine started to spin around and sparks of electricity developed around the energy core.Bookmark here

“T-minus 30 seconds.”Bookmark here

The humming sped up faster, the core began to shine brighter, waves of energy began to emanate outwards and the sparks had started to spread farther.Bookmark here

“T-minus 20 seconds.”Bookmark here

The machine shot down a laser beam towards the floor, causing the whole ground to crack and shake violently.Bookmark here

“W-whoa!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, we were all floating upwards, as if gravity had completely abandoned us. People started screaming and panicking as we were sent flying.Bookmark here

“T-minus 10 seconds.”Bookmark here

“I don’t like being this high!” I screamed.Bookmark here

“Leone! Grab my hand!” Samara said and offered her hand.Bookmark here

I struggled to reach her hand while floating mid-air, with our fingertips barely touching one another.Bookmark here

“I’ll grab it!”Bookmark here

“T-minus 5 seconds.”Bookmark here

I desperately spinned by body around and stretched my hand towards Samara. Luckily, she was able to grab my hand and we both gripped tightly towards one another.Bookmark here

“3…….2……..1…….”Bookmark here

Slowly, everything had turned completely white.Bookmark here

…………….Bookmark here

"Leone. You can't face life without placing your trust in others."Bookmark here

A woman's voice echoed in my ears. I didn't know who it was, but it felt all too familiar.Bookmark here

"You can't? That's ok. Surely someday, you'll find people besides me that's worthy of gaining your trust. I'll even bet on it, hehe!"Bookmark here

Who….are…you? Bookmark here

What are you talking about?Bookmark here

………..Bookmark here

"Oyyyy!"Bookmark here

………..Bookmark here

“Oyyyy! Wake up!” Bookmark here

……………Bookmark here

“Oyyyyyyyyy!”Bookmark here

“Ugh, what….am I still alive?”Bookmark here

“If you aren’t going to wake up, I’m going to kiss you,” she whispered to my ear.Bookmark here

“Oh…..Hah?!”Bookmark here

I opened my eyes and saw Samara’s face so close to me.Bookmark here

“Gah!”Bookmark here

I immediately got up and Samara moved her head away.Bookmark here

“Hahahaha, I’m just kidding! Can’t believe that worked!”Bookmark here

“Sigh, you gave me a heart attack just now,” I said. “Anyways, where are we?”Bookmark here

It seemed like we were in a pretty high up area, so we had a clear view of the place. The first thing I noticed was that we were surrounded by towering walls from afar on all sides, forming a gigantic ring. These walls seemed to enclose and border the entire landscape we were in. Inside the walls was pretty much a vast open clearing teeming with wildlife, with various flowers of different colors, endless forests of trees, and birds flying in the sky. Strangely enough, there were also tents, houses, structures and small buildings, pretty much ruins of old abandoned settlements which seemed to indicate that people used to live here before. I wonder what happened to them now. At the very center, was a giant oak tree that towered over everything else. The place was essentially like a massive garden.Bookmark here

“This is…..Black Eden?” I said. “Does that mean…..we’re already in another world?”Bookmark here

“Pretty cool right? It's way better than what I expected!” Samara said.Bookmark here

“I find it hard to believe, to be honest…”Bookmark here

Our conversation was cut short by two individuals who approached us. One of them had brown, spiky messy hair and the other had short orange hair with green eyes and a warm smile.Bookmark here

“Hello! My name is Zeke! Nice to meet ya!” the spiky-haired dude said, waving at us.Bookmark here

“I’m Rhys. We’re gathering people to the big tree at the center, you should join us. We’ll be discussing plans on what to do with the area,” the orange-haired dude said.Bookmark here

“Hmm, new people. I’m not sure we can trust these guys just yet, Sam,” I said.Bookmark here

“Hallo! My name’s Samara and he’s Leone! Pleasure to meet you all!”Bookmark here

“Sam!”Bookmark here

“Come on, don’t be so uptight! They’re probably just the same as us, no memories!”Bookmark here

“It’s fine. It makes total sense to not trust people so easily. After all, every person here is a 'Sinner', according to the Hatter dude.” Rhys said.Bookmark here

“But, we don’t have much of a choice! We’ll all be living in the same place, so we might as well get to know each other!” Zeke said.Bookmark here

“So, are you coming or not?” Samara said.Bookmark here

“Hmmmm, sigh. Fine,” I said.Bookmark here

And this is how the story begins.Bookmark here

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