Zero, all and none, the almighty being
The being broke due to loneliness.
The loneliness, gone with the birth of the Fiends
The Fiends, the upholders of cosmology
Cosmology, the holder of the truths of nature
Nature, small pieces of the puzzle of Zero
Zero, all and none, the almighty being
-A poem written by a certain god
In the defining moment of her existence, the young lady had the opportunity to extract her vengeance, but her attempt ended with a sharp cry of agony.
Two others laid nearby, their eyes rolled back and mouths wide open. Despite her own injuries, the lady summoned all the energy in her body to reach out to her companions. She knew that she had to do something, anything, to help them.
But then, out of nowhere, a dark shadow appeared, looming over the group, a stark reminder of the dire situation they were in.
The woman gritted her teeth as her mind raced. She knew that they were in trouble, that they needed help. But where could they turn? It seemed like there was no one to turn to, no one to offer them a lifeline.
As she laid there, her body wracked by the lacerations on her back, the woman tried to think of a way out of this mess. She knew that she couldn’t give up, that she had to keep fighting, but it was hard, so hard, when their selfishless act of heroism had the opposite reward for them.
“Just because you kids have the powers of the godly avatars doesn’t mean you are almighty. I, the Red Wing, can cut the avatars down.”
The voice emerged from the shadow, caused every fiber in her body to become completely still. When the shadow’s hand grabbed her face, her eyes shot open.
A few rocks woke up a young woman from her sleep. She groaned when the first sunlight greeted her after her dreams.
She reached for a small bottle on her computer desk. After struggling to pry her eyelids open, she was able to moisturize them before throwing herself out of bed. Out of her window, she saw a young man smiling at her. He gestured to her, but she responded by narrowing her eyes, and grabbed the curtains and erased his presence with them.
“Good morning, Chiaki.”
A robotic voice announced itself from the young woman’s desk.
“It is 8-”
“Hey, Navi. Stop.”
A small mini speaker flashed a response to Chiaki’s voice command and went silent.
“Couldn’t that idiot wait a few minutes...?”
The room was spacious and had off-white walls that caught the light from the windows. One of the walls was decorated with tasteful wallpaper, with light brown wooden floors that had a polished finish. The decor of the room was a combination of modern and retro, with a mounted television on the decorated wall, which had a small cabinet below it that hid all cables, a sound-bar, and a few retro and modern gaming systems. On the opposite wall, there was a curio of anime figures, which were arranged neatly on glass shelves. Framed anime artwork added a touch of personality to the stale room.
Along the wall opposite the decorated wall, there was a long desk, which was made of a wooden kitchen countertop that was both sturdy and stylish. Three sturdy black filing cabinets held the desk up, which added to the overall aesthetic of the room. On the countertop were two dual monitors, which were perfect for multitasking, a custom-built computer that was powerful and sleek, and a few vinyl toys that added a playful touch to the room. Additionally, the desk contained several items that added to the room’s charm and character..
Despite the lack of a bed, the room was still a comfortable place to stay. There was a two-seat couch bed with a chaise that was perfect for lounging and relaxing, as well as a bench with stuffed animals inside that added a fun and whimsical touch to the room. The room was a unique and inviting space that was perfect for anyone looking for a cozy and stylish place to stay.
Her condominium followed the same theme of her room and had minimal aesthetics. There were almost no decorations on the wall. All the dark-brown furniture complimented the color themes of the place.
Chiaki walked over to her living room that comprised an L-sectional couch, a low coffee table, and a low TV-stand with a single 42-inch television.
She walked into her kitchen and preheated a small convection oven that sat on top of a granite countertop. While she waited for her toast, Chiaki got a pre-made fruit smoothie from her refrigerator and almond butter from a cabinet. She placed her meal on a small table in the dining room.
Chiaki unlocked her smartphone and loaded the national news website for highlights.
“We are going to begin with breaking news this morning. Police have discovered three bodies in the local suburban neighborhood in the city of Little Cliffs. We have identified the bodies as David, Nikon, and Homer. The three were members of Queen Lycoris Ashurbanipal’s 108 rebel army during the East Rebellion two years ago. Law En—”
The bell from the convection oven reminded her to lock her phone before eating breakfast. After her meal, she readied herself and walked to the door. She waved to the picture frame and checked to see if anyone was following her. After a moment of silence, Chiaki left her home.
Outside, she met a young man with a tanned skin tone. Gauze enveloped his hands with slight dirt marks ingrained in it. His white t-shirt and jeans ran slightly loose, hiding the toned muscles she knew hid underneath. His all white sneakers caught Chiaki’s attention. With her eyes locked on the shoes, she tried to step on them, but he gave a gentle push to avoid any contact.
“Oh, my bad.”
“I know that was on purpose, Chi. That’s aside from the point, though. We’re really pushin’ it on time. I thought you’d be ready by now. You could have at least let me in while you got ready!”
She took a few quick sniffs.
“... You were smoking. Don’t want that smell in my house.”
“But you smoke too?”
“Past tense. “
“... That’s right. You only did it to hang around Guiren, huh?”
“Yeah, yeah... Don’t remind me.”
It was late winter. The weather of Little Cliffs had perfect beach temperatures all year round. Unlike most bustling cities, Little Cliffs’s residents carried relaxed attitudes.
Today, Chiaki wore a shin-length skirt, a plain white T-shirt, and a cream un-button cardigan with an anime enamel pin on the left side. She wore oversized white sneakers that had a cream brown lining, blue accents, and hints of red on her shoelaces. Tattoos covered Chiaki’s right arm. Inked on was a stylized Valkyrie and Amaterasu. Blue Japanese waves filled the negative space from her shoulder to mid-forearm. She wore a light blue, white, and light brown watch made of wood and stone, and a similar material bracelet on the other arm. What made Chiaki’s fashion sense stand out from others was her rings. One was an armor ring on her middle finger and a knuckle ring on her index.
“What Ason? I’m listening.”
“... Open your car door. I’m not trying to be late to class, y’know?”
“Geez. The semester is a few weeks old. Why do you care so much?”
Ason glared at her until she unlocked her car door for him, and the two drove off.
Their school was like any other suburban public American university, where diverse students of different nationalities rushed through the halls. Some ran to class while others socialized with one another. Chiaki drowned out the noise by listening to her daily intake of podcasts with a pair of expensive noise-canceling earbuds.
Ason yelled enough to break through the noise-canceling mode and snapped Chiaki into the present like she woke up from a dream.
“...Wha? Oh, good job, hero.”
Chiaki mocked. Ason scratched the back of his head as the ends of his mouth raised, unable to recognize the word’s intent. Out of nowhere, a group of younger students approached the duo.
“Praise to you, avatar of fire.”
The students said as they bowed to Ason. He smiled and responded by giving a thumb up to them. Chiaki ducked her head low and scouted her surroundings. The moment she caught the unnecessary attention from onlooking bystanders, she faced the concrete below her and walked away. She walked toward her late morning classroom, but stopped herself when someone stepped in front of her.
“Being an avatar must be hard, huh?”
He dressed in no branded clothes, as if he only cared about basics. He wore a sports gray polo shirt, navy joggers, over an earth brown bomber jacket, and a pair of velcro tennis shoes. When she stepped forward, Vincent did not move. Chiaki’s eyes moved up toward Vincent’s and his smiling face. When she tried to sidestep him, he copied her movements like someone trying to get past their own reflection in a mirror.
“So, Chiaki, you’ll join our club’s training sessions, right? Ason and I would really like you to join.”
“Remind me why I would join you guys?”
He maintained a calm face as he took a breath. He closed his eyes and answered her question.
“The Master’s tournament needs three people to enter. No one but you can compete on the same level as Ason and me...”
He opened his eyes to finish.
“Chiaki, after all, you’re...”
She disappeared. Vincent stood there, making a fist with both hands.
Morning classes started. During class, Vincent and a tardy Ason talked about their practice after school. Chiaki pretended to listen to the two. In reality, she stared past Vincent’s face and at an electrical socket and let her mind wander.
(I don’t understand why these two sat by me. And it’s only about club talk. The only reason they want me in it was because of Eufro...)
Chiaki was in her last class of the day, where her engagement level was low. It was until there was one student who stood out to Chiaki. That person was...
“Compare and contrast the differences between King Jibrail Ashurbanipal and Queen Lycoris Ashurbanipal’s administration structure of the Asuran government for me, please.”
“Yes. The previous form of government—”
A slender young man with shoulder length tied hair and dressed in a tracksuit rose from their seat. Despite his beautiful feminine features, Yu was a male.
“—had a monarch with a cabinet comprising members that King Jibrail pick to help him run all of Asura. King Jibrail outsourced his power to independent leaders in the West, South, and East Asura while he focused on ruling on the North, which preserved Asura tradition. When Queen Lycoris u—”
“—surp King Jibrail, she returned absolute authority to the monarch. Borrowing ideas from her grandfather, Queen Lycoris established a bicameral legislature that comprises the Imperator’s Council and elected Senators.
The monarch hand-picked the Imperator’s Council, assigning them specific responsibilities. The people held elections for the three senators that would represent their territory, except for North Asura, which had two senators. If you wish, I could draw a diagram which better explains—”
“Uh... correct as always, Yu. Don’t go deeper or I won’t have any teaching material left.”
The professor signaled Yu to sit back down. Chiaki paid little attention to the class. She invested her attention in reading a non-fiction book that laid on top of her notebook. Later in the class, for some odd premeditated reason, Chiaki glanced over at Yu.
He emitted an aura that made men curious and women swoon over his appearances and laid-back attitude. He was an attractive androgenous. Guys still had trouble accepting the fact he was a male.
Yu turned around, and his ice-blue cold eyes pierced Chiaki’s eyes. Within that second, the two could transmit a hundred thoughts, questions, and ideas to one another. Chiaki recalled Yu’s introduction at the start of the second semester of school.
It was the third day of the Spring semester.
The professor, along with the eyes of the other students, gave their attention to the androgynous person who rose from their desk. The student had hair that fell to their collar bone. When the teacher asked for the student’s name, they stood there as if they had forgotten it. In their head, a woman from their memories reminded them and he repeated her words out loud,
Yu sat down right away and returned gave his attention back to the professor. The entire class was silent. After he sat down, the next student stuttered a bit, then introduced themselves, and soon the class sounded alive again. Chiaki heard whispers from the surrounding students.
“She’s so cute! She is she, right? I can’t tell by their voice.”
“Regardless, I’d hit that.”
After class, a few curious students followed Yu and bombarded him with questions. Some ladies wanted to exchange phone numbers with Yu, and others wanted to party. Yu only answered the question everyone wanted to know.
“I’m not sure what everyone’s intention is, but I am a guy.”
Back to reality.
After a minute of silence, the two released their stares from another. Chiaki noted a few things about her enigmatic classmate. Yu never took notes in class, never carried stationery, always received good grades, and remained top of the class. Outside the classroom, he had zero friends.
After Chiaki finished packing her stuff, she had stopped and smiled. She looked up to see Yu standing in front of her desk.
Yu was the first one to start the conversation.
“Hey, come with me somewhere. We’ll talk on the way walking there.”
Chiaki was fashionable in her way that stood out in contrast to Yu’s muted track jacket and track pants that were a bit too undersized for him.
“My friends are looking for others to join the FSMA club here.”
Chiaki’s unpleasant look on her face turned to Yu.
“Ason and Vincent have been asking me to join, but I’m not really interested. But they’re my friends, so I want to see them succeed. I thought instead of me joining, you’d be a good training partner for them.”
“You sure this is a good idea?”
Chiaki and Yu arrived at an open training gym where they spotted Ason and Vincent engaging in full contact sparring. Not wanting to interrupt their match, both Chiaki and Yu watched their bout from a distance.
Ason rushed Vincent with his bo-staff and continued to make many attempts to strike him. In response, Vincent blocked each with his nunchakus, that had a long chain and handles that were half the size of Ason’s bo staff. Ason never gave up, even after each time Vincent countered him. After seeing no results, Ason relied on his Plan B: to use his God-given ability to control fire at will. With his right hand, Ason shot out a big, blinding flame toward Vincent’s face. He leapt back to avoid the burn.
The moment he landed on the ground, he realized he had fallen into a plan formed by Ason.