Chapter 22:


Burned Out Heroes

Scenery raced by like bullets. 01 had executed many skydives during his life, but his target for this one was an ashen gray dot floating in the middle of a grand blue ocean.


He adjusted his course with a combination of sight and intuition. Simply falling was not enough. 01 had to land on the island itself, of course, but this whole maneuver will have been meaningless if he landed anywhere other than the stadium in Memorial Park. Even the Federation military messages he was intercepting were telling him that was where he needed to be.

 The long-range sensors had surely detected him by now. They would have registered him as a small aircraft at this point, but he would hit the barrier in a matter of moments. Everything came down to that one instant.


“Black hole engine initiation sequence: Start. Catharsis Transformation: Ready.”

Flames engulfed the core of 01’s chest. An enormous swell of energy flowed outward, changing his body on a cellular level. The surrounding molecules, including his clothing, followed suit as his mechanized frame came to the surface.

01 could feel every detail of the transformation in that one drawn out second.

The atoms within his body were being split and reconstructed. The bionetic armor that served as his human disguise reconfigured itself into battle mode. His consciousness was not far behind.

A relentless craving for battle melded with emotionless logic, and unnecessary human characteristics were suppressed as he was optimized into the perfect soldier through and through. This mental shift, rather than just the physical metamorphosis, was a basic feature of all demon cyborgs.

Catharsis, purifying the mind. Needless human elements were washed away to allow weaponized instincts to take over.

However, 01 could not let the system take total control. He was not entering this battlefield as a soldier, but as a father.

“-Sequence: complete.”

The glow died down as the purification process came to a close.

His armor, Hihi’irokane, glistened silver in the sunlight. Black energy lines connected the various generators around his body. A crimson scarf rustled in the wind. 01’s mental and physical transformation into a living weapon was complete.

The staunch barrier before him reflected off his now green eyes. Everything his fleshy form could not detect was now crystal clear.

Leaving silver afterimages in his wake, 01 picked up even more speed. One second until impact, which was far more time than he needed.

The black hole engine roared to full throttle in an instant. Pure energy flowed into all four of 01’s limbs and waited to be unleashed.


01 spun in midair, shifting his posture to slam his heel into the massive barrier. Built up momentum, enhanced strength, and a last-second burst of speed all came down on one spot.

Light burst from his right foot as a crack appeared in the transparent dome. A web of cracks seemed to instantaneously snake their way through the air as the atomic bomb-proof barrier shattered like glass.


01 fired every thruster he had to slow his descent right after contact. The inertia aggravated his injuries, but not to the extent his efficiency in battle would be compromised.

Go in too slow and the enemy would have time to regroup, but go in too fast and the whole stadium would be blown away with his daughter still inside. Success hinged on maintaining a perfect balance of velocity and control.

Memorial Park’s stadium was directly below. 01’s focus shifted to the ant-sized enemies scurrying about.

The path was clear. All he had to do now was fall. The battle would commence as soon as he landed.

Impact. Plums of soil and debris erupted as a tremor shook the whole stadium. 01 did decelerate, but he was still traveling at high speed and struck the Earth like a comet.

Infiltration successful. The enemy had to know he was here by now. It was a fight against time.


Yelled 01 before the dust had time to settle. All the anamnesis jamming in the area had disabled his sensors, but he just knew.

Karen was here, and he would stop at nothing to rescue her.