Hello all! This fanfiction is based on the Anime/Light Novel/Manga series, To Aru Majutsu no Index. Some of you may or may not be familiar with this series so for convenience, I will post a link to the wiki for reference to some concepts. I will also try to explain these concepts as best as I can in the story. The theme gets pretty dark so you have been warned. Currently, I was able to produce a prologue and two chapters. I am now working on Chapter 3 which would debut the second main protagonist of this fan fic. To Aru Majutsu no Index Wiki Any helpful feedback is highly appreciated as well as constructive criticism. A Certain City's Darkness Prologue Academy City. Considered as the city of the New Age, this bustling metropolis' technology is 30 years ahead of its time. Like its name suggests, the city is a place of research, learning and science. However, one aspect of the city distinguishes it from the rest of the world: The presence of individuals who possess supernatural powers, persons called ESPers. Academy City's curiosity to study and cultivate knowledge about ESPer powers has lead to the establishment of the Power Curriculum Program, a program implemented on every school's curriculum taken with the regular curriculum. A series of tests are administered to determine what an individuals power is. Depending on one's mastery over their powers and their usefulness, ESPer powers are classified into 5 Levels, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest and most powerful. Annually, a System Scan is conducted to determine what Level an individual's ESPer power belongs to. However, in the shadows of this science-centered city, some people would do whatever means necessary in the quest for knowledge and data. This darkness would envelop the lives of 3 children, changing their lives and, quite possibly, the future of Academy City itself.----------- 30 years ago Deep in the underground of science, a number of underground organizations were on the race to identify this generations batch of Level 5's and conduct research on them. But one scientist managed to acquire 3 Child Errors with unique abilities. "Seriously, Takasura-sensei, why'd you get these kids? We're not an orphanage you know?" A young blonde researcher complained as he adjusted his glasses. "These 3 aren't just mere children, Kitamura-san. They are espers!" Takasura Katsugi chided as he patted the 3 innocent children's heads affectionately. "They're Child Errors. Even if they had powers, I'm sure they aren't worthy of Level 5." Kitamura grumbled. "Heh, perhaps a little demonstration would convince you." The senior researcher sighed tiredly before turning to one of the 3 children. The boy looked like he was no older than 7, had short, hazel-brown hair and had eyes of the same color. He was wearing a pair of sunglasses that were clearly too big for him yet he wore them with pride. The scientist gave him a reassuring nod coupled by a gentle smile as if to tell the boy that "It's okay". The gesture seemed to work as the boy nodded back happily before shifting his attention to a metal workbench. He thrust his hand toward it and closed it firmly shut as if crumpling something. At the same time, the workbench was crumpled like it was made of paper. "Is that---" Kitamura stuttered in surprise, unable to finish what he was saying. "Magnetism. Isn't that simply amazing? But that’s not all. Show him what else you can do, boy.” The senior scientist said to encourage the boy. The brown haired boy thrust his hand once again but this time, various pieces of parts such as sheets of metal, nuts, bolts and screws, wires, microchips, etc mended themselves together until a small laptop computer floated in front of the boy’s stretched out arm. “Magnetism , Electricity Manipulation and even Technopathy! His ability isn't even listed in the known electricity-based esper abilities. This could even surpass Electromaster!" Takasura exclaimed. "That's... That's impossible. An electrical ability far superior to Electromaster?" After recovering from his shock, the young scientist looked even more excited than his mentor. "What will you name this ability, sensei?" He asked inquisitively. "It wouldn't be fair for me to name that ability since it isn't mine to name." He faced the brown haired boy and gave him a gentle smile. "What's your name, little boy?" He asked. "Airou! Akaze Airou!" he replied cheerfully. "My my, that's an unusual name you have, Airou-kun. Now tell me, what would you name that ability of yours?" "Hmm..." The boy paused for a while as if thinking something deep. "Magnetizer."He finally decided. "You heard the boy, Kitamura-kun. From now on, it shall be called Magnetizer." Takasura declared. "Sensei, what about the other two?" "They haven't showed the same level of mastery compared to Airou-kun but I'm sure they'd show great potential once we "educate" them." He replied. From that day on, bonds and promises were formed. Bonds and promises that were both fake and true. Chapter 1: Shattered Innocence --Akaze Airou-- "Hwuoaahh..." Airou yawned as he rubbed the sleep off his eyes. It had been almost half a year since that kind doctor, Takasura-san, adopted him and his friends, Amane and Shiro. He promised them a home that they never once had and most importantly, the love of a parent. So far, their foster father hadn't failed to deliver. Between the lessons they received to control and enhance their powers and the times they spent time with each other, Dr. Takasura did his best to convey a father's love to them. While walking down the research facility, he came across a brown haired girl that looked no more than a year older than him. She had a troubled look on her face which only seemed to help in making her appear older than her actual age. This worried him a lot because ever since they got adopted by Dr. Takasura, Amane had been the happiest and most cheerful among the 3 of them. In fact, he's always seen her wearing a smile on her face until today. "Amane-chan, what's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost." Airou asked with a look of concern on his face. "Wha... Oh hey, Airou-kun. It's... It's nothing" It looked like she desperately wanted to tell him something but she was hesitant to do so. "You're a very bad liar, Amane-chan. C'mon. I want to help you but so long as you don't tell me what's bothering you, I can't" Airou pleaded. Amane kept glancing nervously back and forth at the cctv camera behind Airou, which the young boy seemed to notice. Then she took his hand and led him to a secluded part of the research complex, away from the eyes of any researcher or security camera. "Why'd you bring me here, Amane-chan?" Airou asked quizzically. Whatever the reason was, she clearly didn't want anyone else to know about it. "Well, you see, I was walking by myself near the main research lab when I heard Takasura-san and Kitamura-san arguing about something. I think it was called Level 5 Boost. They were talking about... conduct experiments on us so that we'd become Level 5 Espers as soon as possible." She said with a matter of urgency. "Kitamura-san's always been a grouch toward us. But I'm sure Takasura-san would not allow that." He replied confidently. However, Amane looked even more distraught than before. "It's the opposite. Takasura-san wanted to conduct the experiments but Kitamura-san was the one that's against it. But, he was powerless to contradict his plans." Amane replied, much to Airou's disbelief. "I know that among the 3 of us, you're the closest to Takasura-san. That's why I didn't want to tell you. But it's true. Maybe Takasura-san's having a change of heart about us..." "Or the only reason he's adopted us is to turn us into his guinea pigs" A familiar black haired boy emerged from behind them. He looked about the same age as Amane though it was evident that he was way more mature than the two of them by the way he talks and acts. After all, Shiro was the thinker among them. He was the one who took care and looked after them before Anti-Skill handed them over to that orphanage and ultimately into Dr. Takasura's custody. "I hate to break it to you Airou but Dr. Takasura may not be who he really seems." Shiro said sympathetically. "No... That can't be true. Takasura-san won't do anything to put us in harm's way. You're lying!" Even then Airou still refused to believe that the closest person he's ever had to a father would do anything to hurt any of them. "Sometimes the truth is a bitter pill to swallow." Shiro finally said before beckoning Amane to come with him. It had been a few days since Amane and Shiro have voiced their thoughts about the purity of Dr. Takasura's intentions but Airou was still bothered by their words. As far as he's concerned, the only thing that the kind doctor has done so far was for their own good. He would regularly administer "check-ups" to see if their powers aren't affecting their health and what level they were at. Last time, he was already at Level 4 while Shiro was at Level 3. Amane's power was still a mystery since she seems to show different ones in every time a System Scan is conducted. But Dr. Takasura said she was at least Level 2. The problem was, they've been stuck at those levels for quite a while that even Airou could see the frustration in the scientist's face. Even so, the fact that he'd start conducting experiments on them was still too unlikely. At least that was what Airou wanted to believe. His hopes were dashed, however, when he heard Amane's muffled scream Adrenaline surged through every vein of his body as he dashed towards the direction of the scream. When he got there, he saw Amane's motionless body sprawled on the floor behind Shiro. A few darts were sticking out of her body, a clear indication that she was shot. Shiro, on, the other hand, didn't look any better. His body was limp and riddled with the same kind of darts like those found on Amane's body yet he still desperately tried to protect Amane from... "No... I hoped it wasn't true but..." Standing before them with a maniacal grin on his face and a tranquilizer gun aimed at Shiro was none other than Dr. Katsugi Takasura himself. "Ahh, how nice of you to join us, my youngest pet. Shiro told me that you were the one who had the most faith in me. How stupid." The scientist regarded him with a cruel smile. "Airou? What are you doing here? Damn it. Get the hell out of here and take Amane with you. I'll hold him off as long as I can!" Shiro ordered. "But... But what about you?" Airou asked in a shaky voice. "I don't care what this bastard does to me. Just get her out of here and take her somewhere safe!" He shouted. "My my, brave words coming from someone who can barely control his own powers, let alone his own body. The tranquilizer should have affected half of your body already, Elementum-kun. How long will you last, I wonder?" Takasura said mockingly. "What the hell are you waiting for, Airou? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!" Shiro yelled as he summoned a weak gust of wind in an attempt to hold off the deranged doctor but all it managed to do was to make the doctors gray hair whip wildly in the wind. This, however, gave Airou enough time to carry Amane slowly away from the fray. He looked behind him one last time and saw Shiro summon flames in his hands, one last defiant attempt to give them enough time to escape. .... Airou felt like they were running forever. Lugging around Amane's unconscious body was way harder than he thought. He couldn't use his powers to create a stretcher or at least a metal panel to carry Amane in fear of being detected by the several esper power detection sensors that were installed all over the place. He once tried to make an iron marble but not without triggering half of the alarms in the place. What's more, he doesn't even know where to look for the exit. As far as he's concerned, the whole research complex was an underground labyrinth of laboratories, offices and tunnels. "C'mon Amane. Wake up! We have to get out of here!" Airou said urgently as he carried her on his back. As if this wasn't hard enough, a bunch of patrol robots spotted them and immediately made chase. With the added difficulty of the security bots pursuing them, he made a few wrong turns and now the two of them had been cornered by the security bots. "Darn it... I guess I have no choice. Maybe setting off the alarms was a good idea after all." He thought. With no other options left, Airou took a deep breath, closed his eyes and started to focus. He waited until the robots were close enough before doing anything else. When the robots were close enough, he opened his eyes and thrust his palm towards the oncoming bots. As if an invisible wall of force was pushing against them, the robots froze in place for several moments before slowly disintegrating into a pile of iron fillings. "Yes! It worked" Airou exclaimed. However, there wasn't any time for comfort. Just as he had expected, the esper power detection sensors went off like crazy. Alarms blared and soon enough more security bots would come after them. "No rest for the weary, huh? We better find a way out fast." He thought out loud. After walking for what seemed like hours, they managed to reach the elevator shaft that leads to the surface. They were about to call the elevator when the doors dinged open revealing the doctor himself along with several armed men. "Where are you going, my little pet. Don't you know it's rude to leave without saying goodbye?" The doctor said to him with a wicked on his face. The sight of him was enough to make Airou's blood boil. " YOU! What have you done with Shiro!?" Airou asked furiously. "Oh don't worry about him. He's being prepared for the experiment. You see, the 3 of you have the potential to be 3 of the most powerful Level 5 espers the world has ever seen. There can only be 7 Level 5's in every generation. It is what our studies have concluded. And that upstart couple's daughter is a few steps away from claiming a spot. Now you will participate in the race to determine the 7 Level 5’s. The Level 5 Race!" Katsugi declared in a maniacal tone. "Sorry, doc, but we're not interested." Airou gritted his teeth before turning around, only to come face to face with a squadron of powered suits. "You really don't understand, Airou. This isn't an offer. You don't have a choice." As if on cue, the mercenaries and the powered suits began their advance towards them. Airou knew that these guys would stop at nothing to capture them so he need not hold back. Using all if his will power, he attracted everything metal within 5 feet and molded them into several iron marbles. The marbles encircled him and Amane forming a 360 degree line of defense against the assailants. When the first mercenary stepped within his striking radius, he launched an iron marble at him. Upon impact, the mercenary was sent flying into a wall. This seemed to have made the other mercenaries think twice before approaching the two however, the powered suits kept pressing on. It would take more than a few half ton marbles to defeat them. Luckily, he knows exactly how to stop these robots. He scattered several of his iron marbles between him and the powered suits. They all continued advancing in unison but as soon as they stepped on the marbles, the steel spheres transformed into wickedly sharp spikes that impaled the suits causing them to explode simultaneously. He was about to face Dr. Takasura with a triumphant grin but he felt a sharp pain on his neck the moment he destroyed the robots. He touched the part where it hurt the most and felt the shape of a plastic dart protruding from the side of his neck. Frantically, he pulled it out while still mystified at how the dart penetrated his skin while he hadn't sensed the dart's metal point enter his Metal Detection Radius. That's when Airou realized what caused such anomaly. He saw that the dart's point was made out of hardened and sharpened plastic rather than metal. "Oh, were you surprised by that little modification? You see, I'm not so much as a fool to use a metal needle when you have the power to detect metal. And as you can see, I had to improvise." Takasura stated with pride at his achievement. Airou started to feel his body slowly getting limp. He tried to use electricity to control the motor movements of the parts that were already paralyzed but he could barely lift a finger. Whatever tranquilizer the doctor used, it was extremely potent. "Wha... What are you going to do to us?" He asked as electricity crackled all around him in a stuttering manner. The doctor seemed to have gotten a lot more amused upon hearing his question. He smiled and slowly approached the two child errors. "Only what's best for you." He said confidently. Now he was just a few feet away and Airou was already starting to get dizzy. His eyesight began to turn blurry with each passing second and by the time he came face to face with the doctor, his vision darkened before he completely lost consciousness. Chapter 2: Fatal Error ---Akaze Airou--- And so it happened just as Dr. Takasura wanted. They were subjected to different kinds of experiments in order to increase the strength of their powers. They were tortured, beaten, starved, injected with substances that causes God knows what and even operated upon. Although their powers did manage to increase, their physical, mental and psychological health slowly deteriorated with each passing day. He no longer saw Amane's smile ever since the day she and Shiro tried to warn him of Katsugi Takasura's true nature. Oh how foolish he was back then, to believe in the illusion that he'll experience a parent's love rather than Amane and Shiro, who were practically his siblings. Now he is only to blame for their pitiful condition. Shiro noticed this and staggered to his side. "You can't blame yourself for what happened. He was just... one step ahead of us." He tried to console Airou but he still continued to blame himself for what happened. Of all the people that should be blaming him, it was Shiro. He had suffered the most because of him "If I had only listened to you from the start, none of this would have happened. We wouldn't be in this God-forsaken condition." He muttered hopelessly. After saying that, he felt a sharp pain on his left cheek followed by the scolding of a familiar voice. "Haven't I rubbed on any of my optimism on you, Airou-kun? No matter how grim any situation is, you should never lose hope! “She exclaimed. Airou could feel himself blushing as he stared at Amane. He admired her optimism and fortitude even if they had been used as mere guinea pigs for the past 6 months. Any normal person would have either gone insane or lost all hope in life but it seems that it would take more than experimentation to crush Amane's spirit. "Amane is right. We're family, Airou. As long as the 3 of us are together, then there's always hope. Besides, we have to endure one last experiment and we would suffer no longer." Shiro said encouragingly. "I don't know about that. If Takasura saved this for last... It means that the worst is yet to come." He said in a dreadful manner. "Whether this experiment makes us Level 5 or not, the moment it's over, we're busting ourselves outta here!" Shiro decided. "Since they have to measure our power levels, they're bound to take these things off at some point." He tapped the choker-like electrode that was keeping them from using their powers. "We're going to use that window as our means of escape." He added. Both Amane and Airou nodded in agreement though even now, he still didn't know what kind of power Amane has. Airou's thoughts were cut when he heard the P.A. System roar back to life followed by the malicious voice of Dr. Katsugi Takasura. "Wakey-wakey, young ones. Today's the day we've all been waiting for. The Last Phase of the Level 5 Boost shall commence in a short while. If you successfully shift to Level 5, then I guarantee your freedom." Takasura's voice beamed through the microphone. After hearing what Takasura said, Airou felt a chill run down his spine. Perhaps it was an ill omen about the experiment but he had no way of confirming this at the time. Whatever happens, this experiment may very well determine their future. ------------------- The 3 Child Errors were led to the Main Experimentation Chamber. Through the course of 6 months, the room had been the stuff of their worst nightmares. All sorts of laboratory equipment were placed neatly on a large metal workbench. There were also a number of large cylindrical tanks at the far corner of the room. However, the center of everyone's attention was the 3 operating tables placed in a triangular pattern. Various apparatuses were set up to monitor the condition of the patients, or in their case, the guinea pigs of the Level 5 Race. "What exactly are you going to do to us, Takasura?" Shiro asked while he gritted his teeth in anger. "Simple. We're going to increase your brain capacities. An average human being only uses 10% of his brain. If your brain capacity increases to 100%, in theory, you'll fully master your abilities." He explained proudly. "Eh? You don't even know what Amane's power is. I'll willingly partake in the experiment... Just let her go." Airou pleaded "I can't do that, my youngest pet. Not when there is a possibility that she could be the most powerful Level 5 esper in existence. Both Shiro and Airou were puzzled with what Dr. Takasura said. To them, Amane's power was a mystery. But obviously, Dr. Takasura knew something they didn't. Within a matter of minutes, the 3 of them were ushered to the operating tables. A series of injections were performed on them, connecting them to the apparatuses. Once the connection was made, the different machines monitoring the 3 Child Errors began displaying their vital statistics. A peculiar headgear was also placed on them though they didn't know what it was for.. After all the necessary preparations were made, the experiment commenced. "Kitamura-kun, increase the output on the EXODUS. We need to increase their mental capacities to 100%." The scientist ordered. "But sir... There is a high risk of further damage to their psychological health. Would a broken level 5 be of good use to you?" Kitamura reasoned though Takasura just dismissed this. "Do I look like I care about what happens to them? They have the potential to become the most powerful beings of this age. And I, as a man of science, would not deny them of that potential!" He replied in a harsh tone. "Then so be it." A powerless Kitamura Sougo paused for a while and cringed after realizing what a monster Takasura Katsugi became. "Forgive me for what I'm about to do..." He muttered under his breath before pulling the lever that would increase the output of the EXODUS. The cries and screams of pain would haunt the young intern for the rest of his life as he felt guilty for being the cause of their misery. "It's working. Mental Capacity increasing.... Current Mental Capacity is now 15%... 20%... 25%... Mental Capacity has reached 30% and is still rising." Kitamura reported. "Esper power levels are rising... Test Subject No. 3, Akaze Airou's Mental Capacity has reached 100%. His abilities have achieved Level 5 status. Test Subject No. 2, Misuzu Shiro's Mental Capacity has also reached 100%. His abilities are also Level 5 tier now." It seemed that everything was going according to the deranged doctor's plans... That was until alarms started blaring all over the place accompanied by the howling shrieks of pain of the 3 children. A warning message also appeared on the console. "This is bad, Takasura-san. If we proceed any further, these kids are going to break!" Kitamura warned though Takasura's expression showed little concern towards the welfare of the children. "We can't stop now, Kitamura-kun. Not with Amane still not achieving Level 5!" Takasura exclaimed wickedly. "W-Why d-do... you... want Amane... to be Level 5... so much? She's.... harmless. She... can't even... hurt a fly..." Airou managed to utter shakily despite the excruciating pain that was surging through his entire body. "Perhaps I need to give a better explanation. Though I don't see how it will be useful to a guinea pig. I suppose you know the importance of Personal Reality in acquiring esper powers, right? Well Amane's power is fascinating. Why? Because she has a flexible personal reality! Her power enables her to analyze and copy other people's personal reality which in turn, allows her to gain the same ability as her target! Of course, she cannot fully control it back then when she was a mere level 2. She kept generating random powers that she cannot control at all. However, I have theorized that if she could make use of the remaining 90% of her brain, she would master her power, Archiver!" Takasura explained maniacally. Airou froze in shock upon hearing Takasura's words. "You're... a monster!" Airou said weakly but the scientist paid no attention to him. "Kitamura-kun, increase the output to maximum levels. I want Amane to become level 5 NOW!!!" Takasura ordered. "Kita... mura-san... Don't!" Airou pleaded but the young scientist's eyes wouldn't meet his. Kitamura adjusted the lever, which brought the output on the EXODUS to its maximum levels. Amane, Shiro and Airou shrieked in pain one last time before Amane fainted while Shiro uttered inaudible words as if he had lost his sanity. Airou was on the brink of collapse himself. "Give me a status report, Kitamura. What the hell happened?" Takasura asked frantically. "Amane just entered a coma... Shiro's state of mind has collapsed... And we just lost Airou's Level 5 status. The scanner indicates that he was overloaded and now he has reverted back to Level 1." Kitamura reported. "What?! How did this happen?" Takasura demanded. "I warned you about the dangers of using the EXODUS, Takasura-san. But you ignored the possible consequences. Now you've permanently ruined the lives of 3 innocent children… the same children who have looked up to you as their father!" Kitamura exclaimed. "Correction! Two innocent children." Takasura chided before fishing out a 9mm pistol from his coat pocket. "What are you doing, Takasura-san?" Kitamura demanded. "Cutting my losses."Takasura said in a grim tone before aiming the pistol at Airou. Kitamura's eyes widened when he realized what Takasura was about to do but before he could react, it was too late. The sound of a gunshot eerily echoed throughout the laboratory before the deafening silence ruled once again. Takasaura had just shot Airou at point blank range in his right eye. Blood slowly gushed from the bullet's entry point, and it was clear to Kitamura Sougo that nobody would have been able to survive something like that. "Why... Why the hell did you kill him?!" Kitamura shouted furiously at Takasura but the middle-aged scientist only had a satisfied grin on his face. He had gone back to square one. He was useless to us now. Besides it would take too much time and resources just to restore his Level 5 status while we already have two Level 5's at our disposal. More importantly, we have a potential candidate for number 1! With Amane's power, nothing can stop us!" He explained before laughing maniacally. "You make me sick!" Kitamura said in disgust. "Ara Ara... What's that you say, Kitamura-kun? May I remind you that you are also partly at fault for the loss of that miserable boy's life. You could have done something to spare his life since you were operating the EXODUS but did you make any steps to save his life, DID YOU?" Kitamura was left speechless by Takasura's response. "I thought so. It was because you were a coward! But you did good. Even if you stalled the experiment, I could have just shot you too then carry on with it. Sometimes, cowards are the ones who end up living another day..." Takasura explained. "Well it's not like you have anywhere else to go. I guess you just subconsciously picked the route that would ensure your continued existence. You chose right, Kitamura. Now dispose of the boy's body. I don't want to see that failure ever again." He ordered. Having no other choice, Kitamura gingerly picked up Airou's lifeless body. He then carried the corpse and placed it on the trunk of a pickup truck and wrapped it in white cloth. He drove to a secluded alleyway near a hospital and carefully placed the body wrapped in white cloth beside a dumpster. He paused for a while, while he prayed for the poor boy's soul to find peace in the afterlife. "I'm... I'm so sorry for what I did to the 3 of you, Airou-kun. Takasura-san was right. I... I am a coward. I cannot even protect the lives of 3 innocent children because of my cowardice... What I did was unforgiveable. But at least you have been set free from that nightmare. Don't worry about Amane and Shiro. I swear on my name as a scientist that I will do whatever it takes to bring them back to their old self..." Kitamura said remorsefully before departing. Little did he know that miracles happen in that certain hospital where a certain doctor works in.