Chapter 1:

'Tokyo' Chapter 1


Tragedy will always produce hatred in its purest form, but tragedy can just as easily produce strength and acceptance. Each person who experiences tragedy will be forced to make a choice: “Will I let this strengthen my resolve? Or will it consume me entirely?”

Denori Namikaze made his choice the night he witnessed the death of his parents; the night of the EMP brought upon by the Free World Federation. A night that lives in infamy for shattering families and spreading fear across the world. A night that was immediately followed by the mass invasion of Tokyo that forced the country of Japan to cut off all connections with the outside world.

The smell of burning ash stains Denori’s nose as he sleeps. The sounds of screeching metal and painful screams echo throughout his subconscious, distracting him from the morning alarm ringing at his bedside table. Droplets of cold sweat flood down his cheeks as he wrestles about more and more. 

Finally, he jolts up in his bed and attempts to catch his breath. A drawn-out exhale calms him down enough to reach for his phone and silence the intrusive tone. A crack in the window causes a weak breeze to flow throughout the cluttered room, accompanied by a few rays of light from the summer sun.

Denori groans as he swings his legs out of the small twin bed that looks fairly large compared to the room. The room is empty for the most part except for a small dresser and desk in opposite corners. Not even a closet. A large poster of an old cartoon is the only thing that gives the room some personality, but the bountiful amount of trash and dirty clothes encasing the floor makes it lose its charm. Denori knows it is a mess and takes fault for it, but what else would a sixteen-year-old boy’s room look like when an overbearing lack of parental guidance is present?

He picks up a shirt off of the ground. It’s a white shirt made out of elastic fabric with the School for Temporal Abilities logo embellished into the chest. After putting it on, he instinctively turns his attention to a raggedy green bomber jacket hanging from a coat hanger on the side of the dresser. Its ripped-up sleeves and cigarette-burned front almost make the Japanese military insignia on its shoulder unnoticeable. He grabs it and throws it around his shoulders; his olive complexion paired with his shaggy, wavy brown hair that falls against the collar perfectly makes the jacket seem like it was made for him.

Denori attempts to air out his blanket over the length of the bed, but after half of it falls to the floor, he mumbles “good enough”. Upon looking at the time on his phone, he quickly changes out of his pajamas and kicks them to the corner of the room before rushing a pair of jeans onto his body. He accidentally kicks a bucket and nearly stumbles but manages to slip through the doorless doorway and into the hallway where the broken wooden slab lay on its side. Grabbing the bucket, he positions it back into the corner of his room where it continues to catch water droplets leaking down from the unit above.

“Hello?” he yells sarcastically throughout the one-bedroom apartment. “Good morning, Denori!” he yells back to himself with the same tone. The hallway comes out into a half-kitchen, half-living room with the front door at its center. The state of the apartment makes Denori’s room seem like a resort hotel. The large couch leaning against the back wall is heavily indented, and Denori notices his uncle’s duffle bag is missing from the table next to it. Denori doesn’t know what his uncle does for a living, nor does he care to ask. They met for the first time at the funeral when a lady from child services dropped him into his uncle’s care, a day that both of them despised for different reasons.

“It’s not my fault they died,” Denori reminds himself, “but he’ll never see it that way.”

Denori walks into the kitchen and turns on an old radio, messing around with the antenna until the static evens itself out. He scrounges the refrigerator for food while he listens to the radio host go on and on about the tournament for the fifth day in a row, but the annoying repetition is not enough for the look of excitement to diminish from the boy’s eyes.

That’s right everyone! Today marks the end of the fourth year that the School for Temporal Abilities has been open! To celebrate this accomplishment, the school which was issued by our beloved King Eldrich is joining forces with The Military to hold an event at the school! The first-ever Tournament! Buy your tickets now as only a limited stock will be available for purchase from the officially endorsed ‘STA’ website as well as any sports betting establishment across Japan. This monumental moment will go down in the history books as one of the biggest publically sanctioned events, don’t waste it!”

The broadcast ends with the sound of thousands of cheers from the audience. Denori wishes he could see the Tokyo News set in person since all he’s ever gotten was from the radio. Only the semi-wealthy can get their hands on holo-tvs, but lately, the gap between the lower and middle classes is bigger than ever.

“I can’t wait!” he whispers to himself as if someone else would be able to hear him otherwise. “The first STA Tournament… I wonder what the grand prize will be?”

Denori grabs a bag of fast food from the counter and opens it to reveal a half-eaten burger from Burger Joint crumbled back into its wrapper.

“Yeah… think I’ll skip breakfast today,” says Denori, tossing the bag onto the garbage can which has already protruded onto the ground from being overfilled. He walks back into his room and picks up a worn satchel off of the broken desk. Hanging on the wall above it is an old calendar from 2039. it’s obviously outdated, but it’s cheaper than buying newer versions; he just tries to keep up with which day of the week it actually is.

The month of June is halfway over, and the letter z has been written in every single box up until Now. he grabs a pen and writes another in the box for June 17th, signifying that yet another day has gone by that he and his uncle haven’t spoken a word.

He climbs out onto the 9th-floor fire escape and slings the old satchel around his neck and shoulder.