Chapter 2:

Project: Restore

Project: Overthrow

Daiki felt like he had been hit by a car. As soon as he regained consciousness, he again felt that splitting headache, only this time, every part of his body screamed in pain. Along with the pain, he felt a ravenous hunger. It was like the life in his cells had been wrung dry.

“Hey! You’re finally awake.”


As he barely managed to sit up, he leaned his back onto the side of what seemed to be a shrouded cargo bed of a truck. The engine roared loudly with occasional bumps vibrating the surrounding metal. Looking to his right, he saw that it was Gavner getting his attention.

“I’ll give credit where it’s due—that was some sick moves you did there! Just watching you pumped me up with a shit ton of adrenaline!”

“Stop bothering him, Gavner. He’s in a lot of pain.”

Daiki heard a familiar voice through a pair of curtains that separated the truck into another section.

“How do you feel right now?” Aiza asked as she walked in.

“Surviving…I guess.. My memory is a bit foggy though.”

“You were in critical condition when we finally got our hands on you. Your body… it was pushed to its limits—no, far beyond its limits. I’d like to thank you on behalf of all of us for taking down those cannibals. If you didn’t step in at that moment, the dumbass laying right beside you would be inside a body bag right now.” She turned and looked at Marco, who laid on a ledge bolted to the wall of the truck. The young one was wrapped in bloodied bandages, seemingly unconscious.

“Was he on the verge of death? My memory is too foggy to confirm such a thing, let alone saving-” Daiki thought with confusion until Gavner spoke.

“Ohhh yea, you were a real lifesaver. You have to teach me how to do what you did. That was the coolest shit I’ve ever seen in my life! Hell, you got an old man like me acting like a child for crying out loud!”

To Gavner’s enthusiastic request, Daiki replied with a wry smile.

“I.. honestly have no idea how I did all that… There’s little to no memory of what happened, so I can only assume I wasn’t really myself at that time…”

Subsequently, Daiki’s headache began to fade a bit. As this happened, bits of his memory were restored, though not entirely. He recalled the state he was in as he was about to be stabbed in the eye by the cannibal. It was at that very moment where his thoughts and feelings had vanished into thin air. What remained was a cold shell whose only purpose was self preservation. Daiki felt a chill running down his spine.

“That’s right, I see it now. At that time, I was no longer Daiki Inoue. I abruptly let go of everything. All of my goals and motivations, things that made up my identity… suddenly felt like a worthless waste of space in my memory."

Despite the radiating pain in his hands, he tightened his fists as the imagery of the moments became clearer.

“But what caused it? That superhuman focus and sense of all-encompassing clarity—it was like I became a robot. Shit… there’s only one thing I can draw from this. It has to tie with what I did to myself before I was put to sleep.”

The frustration was beginning to surface. He wanted to believe that his mind hadn’t become what he hypothesized.

“Dammit! But it was never successful! The lives of so many test subjects were in vain because of that experiment… So how? How did the experiment suddenly succeed on me?

After a brutal clash with a corporation, Daiki suffered an irrecoverable brain injury that may as well have sealed his fate. As a last-ditch effort, he injected artificial nerves into his nervous system before he was forcefully pushed into cryo freeze by a close friend of his.

“It makes sense now… this is the reason why my brain injury completely healed. This is why I managed to survive through a cryo freeze of 35 years.”

Daiki’s train of thought was broken as Aiza called out to him.

“By the way, you might have to go through an interrogation later. They may seem like assholes but trust me, they’re nice people once you get to know them. Please rest until you fully recover, as there will be no need to do anything else.

Before Daiki could say anything, she added to her previous statement.

“Oh, and if your whole body goes into… uhm.. Overdrive? Yeah, whatever your Mr. Badass form is called… You might not wake up afterwards if that happens again.”

He would've liked to continue this conversation and ask about their condition but, his body begged to differ.

Daiki nodded at Aiza, barely able to raise his eyelids for another second.

“My body doesn’t seem to disagree. I’ll… I’ll-”

As he closed his eyes, he drifted off into a much needed sleep—Aiza’s wholesome smile being the last thing he’d see.

“..Overdrive? Not a bad name…”

- -

As the sun faded behind the clouds, gentle rays of gold grazed Daiki’s pale face. Weakened, he opened his eyes and rose to a seated position on a pile of flattened rubble. He peered across his shoulder and noticed a well-guarded entrance to what seemed like an underground cave, camouflaged with nature’s closet of leaves, vines, and cracked stone. Noticing the guard’s outfit, a brief recollection of the Thrasher squad came to mind, and he decided to make his way there.

“A day later and it looks like our…’guest’…is awake,” one of the armed outlanders commented to his counterpart.

“Ain’t that great news? I can’t believe we’re letting this guy in—I mean, who knows where his allegiance lies.”

The two men stepped aside and Daiki made his way into the cave. To his surprise, it was a well-inhabited hideout. A humble one—and a bit run down, he thought. But it was a place to reform nonetheless.

A large, hefty man stepped in front of Daiki. “I’m gonna be straight up with you, hotshot wannabe. I don’t trust you, and neither do they.” He gestured toward the dozens of eyes staring at them. “But what you did out there was something none of us have ever heard about—and trust me, we’ve seen a lot down in these shit-holes. So, we’re gonna give you the slight benefit of the doubt and you’re gonna explain what happened.”

Daiki’s expression remained unfazed. “I thought you were gonna do the explaining.”

“You better take this seriously or that joke will be the final thing you crack.”

“No… I mean, the last thing I remember, I was surrounded by people who wanted to cook me alive, and now I wake up in a place supposedly called the wastelands, in an era I’m not from, with this terrible, terrible series of headaches, being treated like some unworldly entity. How do I explain that?”

“Did you hit your head when doing those fancy moves?”

Daiki took a deep breath, recollecting himself.


The man raised his eyebrows, eventually pardoning and making his way past Daiki. “I need a smoke break. I’m outta my league here, but our medic supplier and intel lady would like to have a talk with your dumb ass.”

Daiki faced the opposite direction and noticed a familiar lady with reddish hair closing the distance between them. Her attire was much different than before: old Japanese military clothing with trousers, boots, and a versatile belt sitting on her slender hips.

“You feelin’ any better, Champ? That was quite the show you put on earlier,” Aiza said as she took a seat in front of him. Though her voice radiated friendliness, her arms crossed over her torso and said otherwise. “Please, sit.”

Daiki took a seat with reluctance, a stretch of silence between them.

“I hope Takehiko wasn't too loathsome with you. He has a bad habit of acting like a big, tough badass but he’s actually quite caring.”

“Loathsome? No, never.”

The lady, generally good at reading people, struggled to reciprocate his sarcasm.

“That’s… good to hear. I’m glad he’s getting better with guests. Anyway, we owe you big time for what you did, and I know we shouldn't be asking for any other favors, but we really want to know more about you. It’s rare to find such anomalies in these wastelands, and we’d be shortsighted to not try to learn more. I’m hoping we can exchange more about each other.”

Daiki—though not against anything Aiza recommended—struggled to offer his formalities with the amount of confusion, exhaustion, and distress wracking his body.

“The others… are they okay?” he inquired, flicking a bug off his arm with a grunt.

“Marko’s still recovering his wounds, but he’s doing a lot better. Gavner’s on a sleeping marathon while Jan is spending a cursed amount of time in the bathroom. Just the usual.”

Picking his head up, he said, “I- I see…that’s good. So, uh, my apologies, but where exactly am I? And what year is this? Who are you people?”

"If I can at least act out my symptoms of amnesia; it’ll aid me in my safety," he thought.

“W-We have a medic, myself included. I’m really worried you hit your head during combat. We can get you checked and get back to this later-”

“I’m fine. Please, just answer my questions. That’s all I’m asking,” he interrupted.

Confused, Aiza obliged. “Okay then, I’ll break it down again. It's the year 2088, and currently, you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the wastelands. They refer to us as outlanders, like we’re some inferior race… those assholes. After the nuclear disaster-”


“What was that?” Aiza asked.

Daiki shot to his feet, the memory further piecing itself together.

“Wait, are you going somewhere? To do what? More than any of us have ever done? All of us want to go somewhere away from the constant fear of death. Trust me, I understand. Just hear me out and the decision is yours.”

Not completely convinced but not so eager as before, Daiki sat, his upper lip twitching despite his desire to remain neutral. “It was all for nothing,” he grieved.

“It really feels like that sometimes, doesn't it? Even if it was, it’s no reason to give up. Otherwise, you lose more than hope. You lose your humanity,” Aiza responded.

Those words struck Daiki, and he went silent for lack of a better response.

“In these wastelands we know as home, I used to be a slave forced into labor, mining early in the mornings to deep into the nights. With the hot sun scorching our skin and the small amounts of food and water they supplied us, we may as well have been walking corpses. That’s until a small group of us managed to sneak past the guards at a late hour, and with nowhere else to go, we decided to fight back in any way we possibly could. Eventually, a man fell head over heels for me, and he was quite persistent.”

She laughed. “But that last part is another story for another day. Eventually, I felt the same about him, and we had our son. A few months back, however, he was kidnapped by someone not from these parts. My son was only four, and it pains me every single day to exist without him—so I understand feeling like it was all for nothing. I really do.”

“I’m… sorry,” he finally spoke. “I didn't mean to come across so cold. Forgive me.”

The two were now a bit less reluctant toward each other, building an ounce of trust more than before.

“Don’t fret, Daiki.” She smiled.

“Back where the clash occurred, I felt what I can only describe as a surge of energy, and the rest is a fog. I woke up with this radiating headache.” He grabbed his head before continuing. “And now I’m here. You mentioned something about this nuclear war… Could you elaborate on this?”

“Y’know, you asked this before, but that’s a first—not remembering a part of history this significant. After all, where we sit now and all the people you’ve met so far are a product of what it did. It still feels like yesterday, but without straining your already fried mind, allow me to expand~”

She narrowed her eyes with a questionable smile before continuing, though taking note of Daiki's dazed demeanor.

“To put it simple, most of Japan was incinerated, leaving behind only a few cities, Tokyo being one of them. Instead of rebuilding civilization, ‘they’ decided to pour the vast majority of resources into the capital and practically discard the rest of the nation, leaving what you see now-massive wastelands inhabited by struggling people of all types—even those cannibals. These slums are the only place we know, and it’s all we can call home, all while places like Tokyo city thrive.”

Daiki took a deep breath, lips parted. He managed to let out a small chuckle. “I.. how could something of this proportion even occur? It all seems too coincidental, that somehow the bustle of the nation remains in one piece but the rest of the nation dissipates. And more so, they won’t even bother to change this? There can be no benefit in holding off expansion, so this must be in some interest.”

“That’s why we refuse to give in. Daiki, in these miles of wasteland, you won't find many people who see a problem. They’ve given up, with their competitive survival instincts being the last of what remains. But we haven't. If I’m being honest, I didn't know if I could trust you, and I still need to know more, but I’m… no—we’re--willing to put some faith in you. If you have nowhere to go, then you can join us. Just don’t be surprised if Jan watches you in your sleep.” She ended off with a wink.

Raising an eyebrow, he considered the offer, making up his mind without being hasty. “As it stands now, I’m helpless in this condition. Until I can learn more about the state of the nation and gain my energy back, I’ll stay for a few weeks.”

Aiza stood, and Daiki followed. She smiled and held out her hand. “Doesn't make a difference to me. Welcome to the Thrashers. We’re only a small faction of twenty-four people, but we like to think we can cause some damage. It should be fun having you around, Daiki.”

They shook hands, and though it was hard to tell how Daiki felt about the situation, relief washed over; there were people willing to aid him until he could continue his mission.

“Uhm… I think you’re gonna need some new clothes. We can take care of that. If I hadn't known any better, I would have believed it if you told me you wore those clothes for two decades.” Aiza said with a smile.

“Two decades? No, look how torn up they are. Clearly, I’ve had them for three.”

She giggled in response before inquiring. “By the way, not to rub it in, but you seemed like a completely different person when you took down those cannibals. Looked to me like it was a bipolar personality disorder. Though, I could be wrong—so what exactly happened there?”

Daiki responded with a grin. “I dunno, guess I’ll just have to call it overdrive. In any case, I hope that chaos doesn’t unleash itself again."

Another woman approached the two with a small device in her hand. “Hey, Aiza, this thing is acting up again, throwing a connection error.” She handed the device to Aiza.

“Again? I thought Fujita fixed this last week! Let’s see, I guess I’ll reload the spoofed connection once more.” Aiza tinkered with the weathered touch screen device.

“No, reloading the connection will only temporarily grab it if you're lucky,” Daki pointed out. “If this is a spoofed connection, you need to plant a permanent token in the server's database.”

"You're gonna modify the MOS? I don't think that-"

"I don’t know what that is, but hmm… there, done. Here you go." He handed the device back to the original woman. "Next time you decide to mine the database, there will be an internal connection established. You're no longer tethered to a single one, either."

The two, dumbfounded, stared at Daiki before taking a quick glance behind them and then at each other.

“Say, we have a few, or maybe more than a few… looted advanced weaponry and tech from the capital. Most of us haven't seen such equipment in our lives, let alone know how to operate and repair them. You wouldn't happen to know how to… you know… fix them?” Aiza reluctantly shied the last few words out.

“Is the sky blue today?” Daiki asked.

There was a brief moment of silence.

“I think I can handle that.” He gave a light smile as he stood and made his way outside, toward a pile of advanced parts.

“I knew I could count on you, Champ! I’ll be in the back for a bit if you need me.” Aiza gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up.

“Don’t be surprised if I struggle getting used to that nickname.” Making his way into a storage-like room, he caught the attention of a few individuals who stood near a lengthy table of supplies.

“Hey, that freak is approaching the loot, Kosuke!”

“Kashi, you idiot! Help me cover them!”

Daiki stood near two small men while they gave him the most un-intimidating death stare back. One looked to be in torn, scraggly clothes but was extremely short and chubby. The other one, although slightly taller, looked to be struggling in the nourishment department.

 “Move, please.” He attempted to maneuver around them.

“Hell no! You know how many times we nearly got killed to get our hands on this shit?! We ain't letting it be takin’ by someone of your kind.” Kosuke barked, droplets of spit sprinkling out of his lips.

“Suit yourself.” Daiki shrugged. “I just thought I’d help repair it so you guys could utilize them instead of hoarding useless parts.”

The lankier man, Kashi, growled before eyeing a gun nearby.

 “Okay then.” The other man laughed, handing Daiki what he assumed was a broken rifle. “Try to mess with this thing. You ain't fixing shit anyways!”

This is far from a traditional rifle. The gun’s less bulky with bright red lights, likely used as ventilation from an electric power source, he thought, noticing sparks emitting from the chrome-finished stock.

The men snickered as Daiki opened the rifle's chamber and searched for spare parts in the pile. In a matter of minutes, he closed the gun’s chamber and unhatched the safety mechanism. The rifle buzzed and gave off an impressive red hue from the vents. “Looks like these weapons don’t require magazines.”


Daiki pointed the rifle upward and shot a beam round into the air. A feature like that would have been nice back in-” He held his breath, realizing he’d almost said too much.

The two men’s jaws nearly hit the floor. Shortly after, they huddled around Daiki, grinning and grasping at the weapon.

“Well, well, maybe you ain’t that much of a bum,” Kosuke mumbled, voice oscillating.

“C’mon, Suga, we can’t overwhelm him! He’s a valuable asset!” Kashi told his counterpart. “But, uh, any chance you can fix the rest? Oh, and what about these, too?!” He ran to a corner and rolled out a few trashed bikes.

Daiki, who was yet to respond to their commotion, let out a deep sigh.

“Guess it wouldn't hurt… But you’ll have to spoil me with plenty of food.”

Concealing a slight smile, his eyes scanned the various weapons, trackers, scanners and other valuable equipment before him.

"Time to explore some modern machinery!"

- -

One month later…

[Several weeks, perhaps even a month or more, went by before I could blink. I replenished much of the muscle I’d lost, all while learning more about the Outlanders.

It’s clear they’re victims of the rotten corporations they spoke of, though whether or not it’s the one I fought against remains to be seen, but I’d hazard a hard no.

Day in and day out the men and women of the wastelands, known as the outlanders, spend their time hunting, exploring, or scavenging so they have the chance of rising with the sun the next day. Nevertheless, their inspiring work ethic gave me the chance to learn about the land and the Outlander’s community.

As the weeks passed, I made a constant effort to help them with almost anything related to technology, which made it easier for them to trust me. Although it’s taken longer than I wanted, I’ve finally gained enough privilege to go on scavenging missions related to the main city they’ve constantly spoken about—Modern Tokyo.]

- -


A campfire brightened the dim night, specks of embers blending to the stars eternities away. The small group of individuals circled the spectacle, exchanging laughs and memories, enjoying food and smuggled liquor.

“Tomorrow’s the day, Daiki.” Aiza sipped from her mug. “You know, at first, I thought you were clinically insane.”


“Can you blame me? With that kind of talk, it sounded as if you weren’t from this era. The gaps in your memory were strange, too. But in these several weeks you’ve spent with us, I’ve learned that there’s more to you than what meets the eye.”

Daiki was short of a response, but he felt comfort in the recognition.

"My true goals may lead to routes of distrust, so to be able to form these bonds at all… It's relieving."

Aiza glanced up to the night sky. “Every time I go out there—to the city—I never know if I’ll come back home. I never know if I’ll find my son alone in this cruel world. That’s why… nights like these mean a lot to me.”

“He won’t be.”


“He won’t be alone, because you’ll find him.”

She blanked out briefly before forcing a smile. “What am I saying? Of course, I will!” Aiza hid her doubts, a habit she harbored herself from her times as a slave.

“Any-who, you should rest up. Tomorrow we’ll be sneaking into the capital to re-supply. Your first-ever experience in Tokyo city is not something to neglect. Oh, and before I forget to ask, are you chipped?”

Daiki knitted his brows. “Chipped? Is that a way of asking if I got chronic brain damage?”

“...Aaaannnd I feel bad for asking now.” Aiza pouted as she stared into the specks of embers, though a subtle smile wasn’t too far behind.

- -

Author's Note: Hey there! Made it this far? I'm honored if you did! Really sorry for the upload delays, as I had planned to update on Saturday until an unfortunate website glitch made me lose my edited work... twice. ;-;

But do not worry, as the issue is now resolved! Despite my exams, I will do my best to post the remaining chapters as the competition slowly comes to an end. Excited for Daiki's journey to the city? I don't blame you! Stay tuned and thank you so much for being patient with me~ Until next time!