Chapter 26:

Roar Across Worlds (Vol 1 END)

Red-Black Course

Rain had always been a signature of this town. For its inhabitants, leaving the house without some sort of umbrella or coat was unheard of. At least, for normal people it was.

The young boy had no umbrella or coat to make of his own. In fact, what he wore could barely qualify as clothes. It was just a plastic bag poked with enough holes to reveal his limbs, but thanks to that, he wouldn’t have to worry about getting his clothes wet. Or at least, that was what he had told himself.

The boy scourged the trash bins in hope of something that he could use. Be it edible leftovers that some rich household threw away, or plastic bags to replace the current ones on his body, the boy was optimistic about his chances.

However, it wasn’t his lucky day.

The trash cans were all empty – a rare sight in this town. Perhaps the garbage trucks were early, or perhaps the heavy rain discouraged the people from going outside to take out their trash, but nonetheless, all the reasoning in the world couldn’t change the fact that the boy was going hungry today.

A sweet aroma wafted in the air, even overpowering the damp and moldy smell of the rain.

The boy’s eyes gazed towards the source of the delicious smell. It was a bakery on the other side of the street. The lights were shining a warm, soothing look, contrasting the quiet and dull atmosphere due to its lack of customers.

The boy gulped to stop his saliva from leaking. Stealing in an empty shop was a big risk, but just imagining the wonderful taste of fresh bread was almost enough to push him over the edge.

In the end, he decided to risk it all.

Sneaking slowly towards the outer shelf, the boy raised his hand forward. The prize was already in his grasp. He only needed to grab it.

Fate, meanwhile, had other plans.

The boy’s scrawny arm was soon tightly gripped by the storeowner’s burly hand like a handcuff ready to arrest a dangerous criminal. With a scruff and angered voice, the owner shouted:

“Officers! There’s a thief here!”

“Please, no, sir!” As soon as the word ‘officer’ was uttered, any life the boy had left in his body had disappeared completely. “Don’t call the officers! I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!”

“Sorry? You think sorry would cut it, punk? Little shits like you need to be re-educated! And that means off to jail for you!”

True to his words, a group of mechanical soldiers soon surrounded the bakery, electric guns in hands ready to shock anyone that dared to disobey.

“Good, you’re here,” the owner nodded in satisfaction, but little did he know, the action was also his own undoing.

“Violation of the law detected,” the leading robot blinked and sounded. “Attempted thievery and mistreating of children. Authorized to send both suspects to the Infinite Prison.”

“W-Wait! What do you mean ‘mistreating of children’?” The owner, realizing his mistake, dropped the boy immediately and repeatedly patted his head as if to erase all proof of his wrongdoings. “S-See? We’re only joking around! Nothing to worry about!”

“… Attempt to resist officers on duty,” the cold, hard machine naturally didn’t show a lick of emotion. “Authorized to send both suspects to the Infinite Prison.”

Both the boy and the storeowner saw their lives flashing in their eyes. For the boy, it was an uneventful life filled with hardship. For the owner, it was a peaceful and fulfilling life. However, to both, everything would be pointless in front of the metal executioners in front of them.

“Bitleo, Sphere Mode.”

Winds as strong as a tropical storm. A rounded projectile faster than a speeding bullet train. The mechanical ball shredded through the slew of mechs like a knife through butter, completely destroying them to bits before any of them could even notice.

As the boy and the owner came to their senses again, before them stood the figure of a young man in a strange suit of armor and mask. The metallic suit had covered all of his features, but that in itself had already shown enough of his identity to anyone in this town.

“Y-You’re…” uttered the store owner pointing his finger at the armored individual, shivering like a helpless prey in front of the apex predator. “You’re the Masked Lion! Infinite Prison’s only escapee!”

“Is that what they call me now?” The figure spoke while cracking his neck, revealing the deep voice of a teenage male. “If they wanted to capture me, I thought they’d at least bother to use my real name.”

“N-No, sir!” The boy, meanwhile, had his eyes sparkled in glee. ”That name is what we of the slums call you! You’re our beacon of hope, always showing up to save us from the robot officers!”

“I’m no hero, kid,” answered the young man. “Just someone with an agenda to fulfill.”


“Go away. More is coming.”

True to the young man’s words, another swarm of soldiers came rushing into the store, their eyes glowing red as a signal to handle their opponent with their utmost effort.

“Wanted target detected. Commencing elimination.”

“Elimination, you say?” A light snicker could be heard from behind the iron mask. “Don’t lie to yourselves. You scum need me alive.”

“Bitleo, Sphere Mode,” the young man sounded once more, and from his hands, the nanobots forming his armor dissolved themselves before swarming together once more to form a black sphere about the size of a soccer ball – the same ball that had saved the boy and storeowner’s lives.

“Soccer Style: Thousand Knives.”

The young man shot the ball upwards. Once the ball was up to a sufficient height, it stopped entirely, as if being frozen in time. However, the sudden halt lasted only for a second, before the metal ball burst into pieces, or rather, the nanobots making the ball dissolved themselves once more, forming into thousands of miniature blades only the size of a fingernail, but sharp enough to hack through even the toughest reinforced walls.

The swarm of blades then fell down to the unsuspecting robot army, piercing their metallic hide and cores so easily and precisely that there was not even a single sound that formed, let alone a grandiose explosion like his previous shot.

As the last of the mechanical soldier fell, the nanobots had already returned to the young man, making the gloves of his armor once again. And before the owner and the boy could react, the man had already approached the broken display shelve and grabbed a handful of bread.

“I’ll take these as payment,” throwing out a notification, the young man turned around and waved goodbye, before disappearing as fast as he appeared.

Once far enough from the crowd, the young man breathed a sigh, pressing onto his chest, and commanded the swarm of nanobots:

“Bitleo, Ride Mode.”

The armor he wore dissolved completely, revealing the face of a young man with crimson red eyes and wild sea-green hair that resembled a lion’s mane. Meanwhile, the nanobots had already finished gathering themselves, transforming into a flashy red hoverbike with a pointed tip like an arrow.

Before Zain could set out, however, a cheerful voice sounded behind him:

“Mister! Wait up!”

Zain turned around to see the boy from before already appearing behind him, his breath discrete and pained, but a smile was ever present on his face.

“I thought I told you to go away.”

“But… I have something to give you!” The boy let out a beaming smile, in his hand was a slightly morphed carton of milk, probably from that bakery that he was just inside.

“Where did you get it?” Zain asked, squinting his eyes in doubt.

“Oh, don’t worry,” the boy scratched his head. “I asked the owner for permission.”

“You shouldn’t, though. What about yourself?”

“I don’t mind. After all, I can tell my friends that I’ve met our hero!”

The boy’s smile was too bright for Zain to handle, causing him to turn around to hide the waves of emotions that arose within him.

“… Mister, what’s wrong?” Asked the boy innocently.

“No, nothing. You just remind me of someone I knew.”

“Was he your friend, mister?”

“I… I’m not sure.”

“How come?”

“It’s… complicated. He’s… me, but not me.”

“I don’t get it,” the child scratched his head in confusion. “But you’ve met him, right? Out here, I mean.”

“Heh,” the kid’s assumption caused a chuckle within the young man. “I’m not mental, you know. Yeah, I did meet him outside.”

“Well, then he’s your friend!”

Seeing the boy’s happy conclusion, Zain couldn’t help but form a smile of his own. “… Yeah, I guess that’s true.”

“Where is he now, mister?”

“He’s… gone. To a very far away place…”

“Oh, I see…”

“But I don’t think that’s true,” with a surprise conclusion, the child shook his head.

“What do you mean?”

As if only waiting for it, the child pointed at Zain’s chest and gleefully answered. “He’s always in there, isn’t he?”

“… I guess so. Oh, by the way, can I still accept that gift of yours?”

“Of course!” The sight of his hero receiving his gift was the greatest joy the child could receive. With a grin as big and bright as the morning sun, he answered. “Please take it!”

“Good luck with your journey!” After a polite bow, the child left the premise, leaving only Zain behind.

Tearing open the milk carton, the young man took a sip. Even if the milk itself was close to the expiration date, and the battle just now had rocked the content inside to a near foamy pop, for Zain, it was a sweet and rich flavor, better than any other food or drink he’d ever had.

Gazing at the rainbow after the rain from afar, the young man finally relaxed himself and let out a warm, gentle smile, reminiscing the old voices of the people who changed his life.

You’re always alone, right? Well, now you got everyone with you! Sounds good, doesn’t it?

We’re not heroes. If we were, we wouldn’t be in jail. So, it’s only natural to care for yourself first, but it’s always good to help people in need.

“Heh, it seems like we’re heroes after all, old buddy,” the young man mumbled to himself. “And to my benefactor, you're right. Now I really am not alone; I got a lot of people with their hopes on me.”

As Zain threw away the carton and prepared himself to return to his current home, the front end of his nanobot-made bike spiked towards the west, making a constant ripple as if excited at the scene that might entail.

“Another change in space-time so soon?”

Jumping on his bike in an instant, Zain cracked his neck one final time before letting out an excited grin, revving up his engine for yet another ride towards the setting sun.

“Only one way to find out.”

Steward McOy
F.C Fondness
Kya Hon
Ei Ruan
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