Chapter 0:


The Equipoise

“Still no activity,” said Irfan as he pulled his face away from the binoculars that had been glued to his eyes. “Only rubble and abandoned buildings.”

[Well, at least you two are out there. Doing something fun.]

“Haha… Yeah, it’s really fun out here.”

[Anyway, is that all to report?]

“That’s it. Or do you want some present?”

[Haha… I’d like you to try and find something that is considered a gift in those ruins.]

“I’ll do my best.”

[Just be careful out there.]

“Kijang One, out.”

A smile rose on Irfan’s face.

“Only rubble and abandoned buildings,” quoted Linggar with a sarcastic tone. “Do they really want to retake this place?”

Irfan joined Linggar who had been preparing their ration. “I’m sure they do. But it’s not as simple as barging in gung-ho style.”

“But it’s been what? A decade?”

“And we didn’t waste anything in that time.”

Irfan tasted the tea and quickly added more sugar. It’s been over two weeks since he and Linggar began their scouting mission in The Ruins of Nusantara. Nothing much had happened beside minor nuisances from some stragglers of the automatons patrolling these ruins.

“And yet they still sent recon,” Linggar stopped stirring the pot. “How much more data do they need? And what about those who’ve been missing?”

“That is one reason why we are here,” said Irfan. “The higher-ups might not tell us to actively search, but one of the reasons they keep sending people here is also to bring an end to everything caused by it.”

“Are you sure?”

“I wish. But I want to believe that was the case.” Irfan takes one of the rations that Linggar prepared.

“So, to be clear, we can also search for them?” asked Linggar. He stood up and walked over to where Irfan was standing earlier.

“Yes. But it’s not our top priority.”

“And what if we find something… you know, more?”

“What do you mean by more?”

Linggar looked back at Irfan dismissively. “Really? Wasn’t that video also included in the intel they gave us?”

“Ah, that.”

He did remember about it. A metallic figure that was as beautiful as the starry night sky, or so some of his colleagues tried to convince him. What he saw was as blurry as those archaic videos in the ’90s. “It’s just the light from those patrols. Nothing more.”

“Are you serious?” Linggar looked agitated. “Don’t you see the figures and purple light that emitted around it?”

“It still classifies as an unidentified object.”

“Sure, what—!”

Linggar collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain. Without losing a single beat, Irfan pulled himself up and made his way to him. He immediately checked on Linggar, who had propped himself up against parapet wall. His left face was covered in blood.

“It’s her,” said Linggar as he let Irfan dress his wound. “I didn’t see what hit me, but I’m positive it’s her!”

He didn’t hear any muzzle flashes other than the impact between the binoculars and something that crushing them. Irfan looks into his wounded partner’s eyes and took his dagger out. He tosses it over the wall but something else quickly tore it in half.

“Up front,” signal Irfan. “Can you move?”

“No factor.”

As soon as Linggar crouched down, Irfan put his finger behind the ear. “Den one, Kijang One. We had been attacked by an unknown force. We need medical help. Over.”

“No response?”

Irfan shook his head. “I repeat, this is Kijang One. We have been engaged by an unknown force. And we need medical attention. Over.”

Still… Nothing.

“So, what next?” asked Linggar.

“We move.”

As quietly as he could, Irfan quickly moved over to a nearby elevator shaft. It is a long journey down from their position which is the rooftop of forty-eight-storey building to the ground floor. But they already set a rappel beforehand, in case they need to get out quickly.

“All clear,” said Linggar after a quick check.

“Den one, this is Kijang One. We will move to designated shelter number two. Tangos on our track,” Irfan sighed. “Let’s get moving.”

Linggar was the first to slide down. Irfan tried to keep himself calm while waiting for his turn. He knew what he saw. As his dagger was tossed into the air, for split seconds, he noticed the object that snapped it into two. A dagger. Black in colour with a single stripe of luminescence violet decorating its edge. It quickly reminds him of the archived video.

[All clear!]

“I’m going down.”

He attaches an automatic carabiner that lets his hands free as he slides down to the ground floor. Within a minute, he arrived at the bottom.

“Any movement?”

“Nothing,” said Linggar as he crouched at the entrance of the elevator shaft. “It’s too quiet and I don’t like it.”

Irfan scanned around the ground floor. The sun was still up so it was easy for him to see. But as Linggar said, it’s too quiet he couldn’t even hear the sound of the wind. “I authorize the use of liminal armour.”


“Yeah,” Irfan gritted his teeth.

Linggar quickly shifted his gaze to the outside of the elevator. Right in the front of them, stood a figure covered in a black metallic suit. Amethyst colour breathe from every crevice of the suit. Its face was fully covered by a helmet that resembled a medieval knight. The slits where he should have been able to see it eyes were covered in amethyst colour.

With graceful movement, its hand reached to the side.

“Liminal, ON!” As Irfan shouted, something was flung at them. With a quick jerk, they managed to dodge what is looked like daggers from sinking through their face, barely. “Counter! Suppress that thing!”

Linggar began squeezing the trigger as hard as he could, spewing out hundred if bullets in a minute. Meanwhile, Irfan moved closer with a quick tap on his rifle trigger, hitting its face every time. But it seems to do nothing but waste their ammunition.

“Reloading!” shouted Linggar.

Without losing any momentum, Irfan quickly switched his rifle to burst fire and continued firing and moving in. When Linggar resumed shooting, Irfan stops advancing and stepped to the side, trying to get around it.

At that moment, it lunged forward toward Irfan. In the blink of an eye, it already reaches Irfan and attacks diagonally with a dagger. Irfan dodges faster, took out his handgun and shot back. At point-blank, the bullet only fell to the ground without leaving as much as a scratch. He empties his magazine while took some step back out of its reach.

It stood still. No damage, no scratch, nothing. Hundreds of bullets yet nothing landed on it. As Irfan and Linggar pull out their blade, it also pulls out its weapon.

A Katana. With a blade of over a hundred centimetres, it much longer than both of their blades combined. Black like the armour with an ornate stripe of amethyst glow down the middle. The perfect killing tools, that is what Irfan thought when he sees them for the first time. And at that moment, it hits him - the dread feeling that is…

No hope to cling on.