This page is rated G+ for Frequent Minimal Violence, Light Crude Humor, and Light Depressive Themes.

Chapter 1: Ronin[edit | edit source]

Ronin watched from the shadows as the mech clanged into the city as it always did, with its robot minions trailing behind. They looked small from here, and they were small, but Ronin knew that they were big enough to be a threat. One foot tall metal robots numbering about thirty total could cause a lot of damage, especially coupled with the eighteen-foot-tall mech leading them. Luckily for Ronin, he was used to clearing off this exact army. He'd already done it three times that week.

"Ya wanna play?" Ronin whispered. "All right, here we go again."

Ronin swung down from the top of the building on the metal cable he carried over one arm, using the gun in his other arm to fire a barrage of bullets at the robots. By the time he got to the building across the street, he'd deactivated seven of them.

"Open fire!" yelled the echoing voice from the mech's cockpit.

The smaller robots obediently started firing at Ronin, who promptly slid down the fire escape on the opposite side of the building, leaving the robots to fire at nothing. Ronin then calmly walked around the building, went around behind the mech, attached his cable to the top of a third building, and proceeded to fire at the back of the mech's legs. By the time the pilot saw the attack coming, the mech had toppled over onto the remaining robots, deactivating them.

Ronin walked around to the cockpit of the mech. He couldn't see into the cockpit due to the tinted glass, but he knew that the pilot could see him. That was fine with him, since he knew that the pilot couldn't see who Ronin really was through Ronin's mask.

"Hi again, Kent," he said.

"Why do you always do this?" said the pilot.

"I always trash your mech because you're attacking Xenon City," said Ronin.

"No, I mean, why do you always say hi?" said Kent. "I understand why you trash my mechs. Seriously, though, you're just wasting time."

The mech pulled itself up on its arms and legs, once again reaching an upright position.

"It doesn't matter, though," said Ronin, "because I win again. If you try to attack me, I can just hit your mech's power battery here and knock your mech's artillery out of commission."

"I'd like to see you try it!" said Kent. Guns popped out of the mech's hands, raining down bullets on where Ronin had been a moment before. However, where he was now was flying behind the mech, shooting bullets at its power battery. Within two second, the battery had turned off. Ronin then swung to the top of the building that he'd attached the cable to.

"So…now you leave again, right?" said Ronin.

"You know the routine," said Kent, as the mech started leaving. "I don't know why you don't ever try to change it. Can't you be more creative for once?"

"Oh, I am being creative," said Ronin. "You're the one who's being uncreative. What do you think you are, some kind of recurring villain on a TV show?"

Ronin got no response. Apparently, Kent was too far away to hear. Regardless, Ronin knew that he'd done his job of driving off Kent again, as evidenced by the cheers erupting from the people nearby. Ronin smiled under his helmet. Saving people felt good.

"Just another day."

Tristan Barlow yawned sleepily as the alarm clock rang loudly next to his head. "All right, all right, alarm clock," he said as he tapped it to shut it off. "I'm awake, you can stop ringing."

Tristan's morning routine was extremely boring; just what would have been expected for a highschool kid. Get up, brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, get to school…As such, Tristan was really bored by the time he got to the end of it. And the worst was yet to come.

As Tristan walked into the school, a torrent of jeers erupted from the usual group of bullies. "Hey, look, it's the son of the guy who attacks the city!" "Hey, Tristan, how do you feel about your dad being a villain?" "Hey, look, it's Kent's son again! Woohoo!"

Tristan half-smiled at them. "Hi guys," he said. What I wouldn't give to have a normal life, he thought as he made his way to classes.

If you'd asked Tristan, he probably wouldn't have been able to say what happened that day until about mid-afternoon, when school was almost over. He was in math class, and the teacher was saying something about logarithms that he didn't quite catch, when suddenly the alarms went off.

Everyone knew what to do when the alarms went off. The students rushed to hide themselves in the closets to avoid getting hit by projectiles in case Ronin didn't do his job, while the less lucky students simply tried to build makeshift barricades with desks and chairs. The teacher hid under her desk. The scene was generally one of confusion and panic.

One student acted calm: Tristan. He raised his hand and said, "Can I have a bathroom pass?"

The teacher pulled her head out from under her desk to stare at him. "What?" she said.

"A bathroom pass," said Tristan.

"Kent's attacking the city!" said the teacher.

"Yeah, but I…uh…need some paper towels from the bathroom to mop up some jam from my sandwich," said Tristan. "It's gotten on my schoolbook here, see, and—"

The teacher finally gave in. "Fine," she said. "Just go."

Tristan walked out of the classroom, then sprinted the rest of the way to the bathroom. Wow, that was a lame excuse, he thought.

At the bathroom, he turned right instead of left, then went down a disused hallway, where he entered a closet, hit a light switch, went through a secret passage behind the closet, and arrived at his destination.

The bathroom. Not.

In front of Tristan hung his Ronin costume, his cable, and his gun.

Ronin hid on top of a building. Well, not exactly on top of a building. Ronin knew that Kent would expect that today, so he instead hid on a fire escape one floor down from the roof.

Forty minions today, thought Ronin, then said in a whisper, "Really, Kent? Really? No matter, I'll take 'em out."

Ronin went down the fire escape, then used his cable to wrap up ten robots so that they were all facing each other. The robots then all started firing random ways, thus deactivating each other. The remaining robots fired at Ronin, but he had the ten deactivated ones between him and them, and as they fired, he got right into the middle of the bunch, making all of their bullets hit the robots and thus do nothing. Ronin then used his cable to start flinging the robots all over the place, causing enough mayhem that the robots stopped firing in order to get their bearings. In the interim, Ronin swung on top of the mech.

"Hey robots," he said. "You can't shoot me now, or you'll hit the mech!"

"Actually, the mech is resistant to their fire," said Kent. "They won't hit their leader."

Ronin muttered, "Yeah, but they'll hit their leader's son, which is close enough—" Then Ronin suddenly realized something. "Kent!" he yelled. "You can't hear mutters in there, can you?"

"Actually, I can," said Kent. "How are you my son up there?"

Ronin growled, then said, "Argh, DANG my constant muttering!" Ronin slammed the mech for effect, unintentionally knocking it onto the remaining robots, deactivating them.

"You can't be my son," said Kent. "My son wouldn't do this."

Ronin stuttered for a bit, then said, "Just leave! I defeated you, so just GET OUTTA HERE!"

Kent's mech stood up, knocking Ronin off of it. "Well, yeah," he said. "Of course I'd leave. That's what I always do, isn't it?"

Ronin didn't feel fulfilled when the masses cheered for him. He knew they didn't know who he was, but he still felt bad.

Chapter 2: Tristan[edit | edit source]

Tristan walked into his apartment as it got dark outside, having taken the extra long route home to reflect on what he'd just done. I am so stupid, I am so stupid, I am so stupid, he thought as he entered the apartment, stopping in the hallway to listen in on the conversation.

"Look, you can't be too hard on yourself, Liv," his uncle was saying. "He's probably just taking the long route home because the other route got boring. Any minute now, he should be here."

"I know, but I can't help worrying—" Tristan's mother stopped talking when she saw Tristan in the doorway. "Hi, Tristan!" she said, coming to help him unload his bags. "Are you OK? Did anything bad happen on the way home? Are you—"

"I'm fine, I'm fine, Mom," said Tristan, heading for his room. "I just, uh, want to go to sleep or something. Or do my homework. I'll probably fall asleep in my homework, heh, 'cause that always happens. I mean—" Tristan sidestepped suddenly to avoid banging into his uncle. "Oh hi, Uncle Mark. Didn't see you there, sorry." Tristan moved to keep going to his room, but his uncle moved after him.

"Tristan, if you wouldn't mind, I have something to talk to you about," said Mark.

"Mom," groaned Tristan, "did you sic Uncle Mark on me because of my grades or something?"

"I don't know what this is about," said Liv. "He just wanted to help you out some."

"It's not your grades," said Mark. "If you can spare a minute before your homework, this is important."

Tristan sighed. "Fine, sure, let's do this," he said, following Mark into the spare bedroom. As he walked, he thought, Geez, why does this always happen? I just want to be alone…

Mark closed the door to the room. "Tristan, I have something for you," he said, passing Tristan a polygonal object about the side of Tristan's fist. The object was unmarked except for a button on one of its twelve faces.

Tristan looked at it. "So…this…is…a…dodecahedron?" he said.

"It's something that I call the 'Deca projector'," said Mark. "It can access a nearly-human AI. I thought it would help you out, since you seem to have a lot of trouble making friends."

"You can say that again," said Tristan.

"I thought it would help you out," said Mark, "since you seem to be obsessed with space waffles."

Tristan, who had zoned out, snapped back to attention. "Space WHAT?" he said.

"Nothing important," said Mark. "Just trying to bring you back into reality. At any rate, that's that. You can go do your homework now and be by yourself. Just bring this, all right?"

Tristan gave his uncle a thumbs-up as he left the room to enter his own.

Tristan was bored, bored out of his mind. The same. Homework. Again.

"And x squared times four over seven is…" Tristan was mumbling to himself. "No wait. That's not an x, it's a smudge. Ah, where's my eraser?" Tristan moved for his eraser, knocking into his pencil sharpener on the way. Straightening up his pencil sharpener, he wondered why the dodecahedron had just suddenly lit up. Deciding that it was nothing, Tristan started to erase the smudge.

"Hi there, Tristan," said a soft voice.

Tristan jumped out of his chair. "Wait, what? Who? Where? Why? How—" It was at this point that Tristan realized that his pencil sharpener had hit the button on the projector, and that it was now projecting what looked exactly like a human teenage girl. In fact, everything about her, from her manner of dress to her physical appearance, looked so similar to all the other girls he'd seen that Tristan felt like she must have been a hybrid of all of them.

"When you've gotten past the initial shock of seeing another sentient lifeform appear from your workspace," said the girl in the projector, "maybe you'd like to explain what's going on?"

"I, uh, what?" said Tristan. "Are you a robot?"

"Technically," said the girl, "I'm an AI, from the cyberspace in the cloud, sending you drops of dreams, love, and energy. However, perhaps a more appropriate explanation of myself, or one that you're more used to, would be: My name's Deca! Nice to meet you."

Tristan was absolutely baffled, so he sat down at his desk and continued erasing the smudge on his piece of paper to try to forget about what was going on.

"Nice eraser," said Deca. "Where'd you get that?"

"Will ya leave me alone?" said Tristan. "Gosh, what do I have to do to get you to shut up?"

"You could push this button," said Deca quietly.

Tristan suddenly felt guilty. "Wait, I…I can't do that to you," he said. "Then I'd be…like…killing you or something…"

"Well, you could just turn me on again when you felt like it," said Deca.

"But…I'd be alone again if I turned you off…" mumbled Tristan.

"Don't you have an uncle and a mother who care about you?" said Deca. "You're not alone in the definition of the word. I mean, sure I want to still be turned on to help you, but your vocabulary skills need work."

Tristan closed his eyes, pushed himself back in his desk chair, and tried not to throw something across the room. "Dang, Deca, I see why Mark gave you to me," he said. "Guess he really thought I need a hyperactive, nitpicky person to counterbalance the bullies. Well guess what, Mark? I…" Tristan sat in silence for a few seconds, then continued, "…need to do my homework! So yeah!" Tristan went back to his erasing.

Deca left Tristan alone for the next minute. As he was picking up one of his pencils off the floor and dusting it off, she spoke up again.

"Why don't your adult figures count?" she said.

"Come again?" said Tristan.

"You said you'd be alone without me," said Deca. "Why don't your mother and uncle count as people in your life who'd keep you from being alone?"

"I dunno," said Tristan. "They just…don't understand me. My mom thinks this is easy. No, wait. She doesn't. She's too protective. If I tell her what's wrong, she'll just make my life harder by doing something obvious that'll make me get bullied more. My father isn't in my life because he attacks the city all the time and I need to fight him every other day! I can't be a normal kid. This is just what's wrong with my liiiife." This last word was combined with a drawn-out groan as Tristan slumped back in his chair in an exaggerated expression of angst. Then he sat up, looking suspicious. "Hey, Deca, why am I telling you all this? Don't you know everything about me? You talked about my guardians and all that. Why don't you know this?"

"All I know is about your external situations," said Deca, "not your internal feelings. However, I've added everything to my logs so I can help you in the future."

Tristan made an inarticulate noise of frustration, then said, "Leave me alone, Deca!" He hit the button to turn the projector off, then hit it again to turn it back on, then indecisively hit it several more times with his eyes shut and went back to his homework.

"I'm sorry for bothering you, Tristan," said Deca. Apparently, he'd hit the button an even number of times and so it was now on.

"Math," said Tristan sarcastically. "It's wonderful. You know, I just love how probabilities work out."

"Really?" said Deca excitedly. "I love math too!"

Tristan heaved an exasperated sigh. "Deca," he said. "I was being incredibly sarcastic! I'm complaining about having hit your stupid button enough times to leave you on instead of off! Yes, you're probably the most enjoyable person I've met to date, but that doesn't mean I want you on for more than five minutes! I don't even know if I want to keep talking about this, like sure, just stay on and I'll just keep slogging along in my boring life forever." Tristan started to write, then stopped. "You know, the only thing that's keeping my life this bad is…" Tristan paused, thinking.

"Is what?" said Deca.

"My dad!" said Tristan. "He's the reason why everyone hates me. I'm his son, the son of the guy who destroys the city. I can't even fight him as myself 'cause then no one would even think I was a hero when I was saving them! If I just got him out of my life forever, then I'd be OK. I could just live normally and like sure you could stay here but I wouldn't need you for whatever Mark wanted because I could have a life and friends and be normal! Yay! I'm going off to talk to Mark, see ya." Tristan shut off Deca and walked out of his room.

"Hey, Uncle Mark," he said, not looking to see if Mark could hear him. "Can we talk?"

Luckily, Mark could hear him. "Absolutely, Tristan," he said, walking with Tristan into the spare room again. "What did you want to talk about?"

"It's Dad," said Tristan. "I want to get him out of my life forever, just end his menace so he'll stop harassing everyone here with his attacks to try to take over Xenon City because, I mean, we don't need someone trying to take over the city all the time haha am I right I mean—" Tristan cut himself off, realizing that he was making himself look like an idiot.

"Look, Tristan," said Mark. "I want to stop him as much as you do, but there's only one way that I know of, and that's using the Sword of Rade, which is said to be some kind of powerful artifact located way under Xenon City. As much as I'd like to just say that you could take that and all of our troubles would be over, it's too extreme a measure. It could backfire, it could cause massive destruction, and most of all, you're not trained to use it properly."

"So…" I wonder if he could use it, thought Tristan, but decided not to pursue it. A plan was coming together. "Thanks for the update! I'll work on figuring out some alternative method." Looking unusually cheerful, Tristan left the room.

Upon getting back into his room, Tristan started packing his backpack, smacking into the Deca projector's button in doing so. "Argh, stupid gimmicky giant object that I keep banging into," grumbled Tristan.

"What's going on?" said Deca.

"I'm going off to get the Sword of Rade tomorrow," said Tristan. "And you're coming with me."

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