He’d felt it again.
But what was it…exactly? That might have been…
He slumped forward..
He’d heard them coming. Clones of Tokiwadai’s ace, the Railgun. Neither as strong as she was, nor skilled in electrical manipulation as she had been. A threat to Her, nevertheless.
He’d reached her before they had. Gone rogue, the termination of 20001, the console they had used to report to, was a foregone conclusion. It would have been, had he not felt that something was wrong. A quick check to the facility where she was housed…
Child’s play, for them to take control of the incubator she was in. Conscious, yet immobile, she had no way of knowing what had been coming. Contact with them may have been possible before they were reprogrammed, but it was now all but impossible.
Blood, mixed with tears. Had it been able to capture despair, Accelerator might have felt slightly better, if only just by a bit…
He had disposed of them. Elementary redirection of their bolts, acceleration of lab equipment into their fragile bodies. Against a group, he’d altered his tactics slightly.
In the end, however, the outcome had never been in any doubt.
He too, knew this.
As did she.
It was difficult, for him, to forget what he’d remembered.
“…all Sisters are connected through the Misaka network, says Misaka as Misaka tries her best to explain…”
Ten thousand of them, he had slaughtered without remorse. A game was what it became, one with a predestined winner.
“…Sisters learn from each other through the Misaka network…even if one of them disappears, the Misaka network will remain…”
It was through a chance meeting that she had encountered him and persistently followed him. It was over a meal of heated frozen food, served in a fast food restaurant, that she had explained how the Sisters that were both dead and alive were aware of what he’d done.
<If power caused conflict…then…to prevent conflict, I just need to acquire power…>
<So much so that nobody would dare to challenge me…>
<The clones, as He said, were simply means to an end…>
<That was all it was.>
It had taken months for him to forget what had happened. Try as he might, visions…flashbacks to a bloodbath sometimes appeared in his dreams.
There were so many of them… and yet they were all alike in where they were now.
Whether through a casual touch that redirected their blood almost instantaneously or impalement on a rod, he had broken these puppets like the flimsy toys they were. Their bullets too often brought these encounters to an end much quicker than he had expected.
A short, sharp, laugh rang out.
<…how could you possibly beautify that?>
Last Order had been adamant that the Sisters did not simply view him as a cold blooded killer. He thought otherwise.
<…was this a sense of regret?>
<…or something else…>
Maybe he had wanted someone to stop him. Maybe that explained the slight, almost imperceptible pause, that had occurred before he had dispatched another one of them.
Rogue though they were, were they not deserving of a normal life…had they been reprogrammed?
He had dismissed these thoughts as sparks flew around him and bullets sped towards him. He had arrived in time, but just barely.
On a weekend, it was not unusual for the institute to be sparsely populated. The cameras had been strangely insistent on facing one direction and some doors bore signs of….unconventional entry. Had there been more researchers walking around, perhaps security might have received a query.
Not tonight. Accelerator had raced through doors as they were searching the building. Last Order had recently been moved to a new room within the facility for further treatment as researchers attempted to continue her biological growth. Accelerator had been notified of this, but not them.
Too many entry points. Too many of them, whoever they were. Too many pathways gone mysteriously dark, too much risk that one of them might reach her, if she was their target, before he had reached all of them.
It would not have been impossible for him to level the entire building. A simple tap of his foot would have been magnified into a targeted earthquake, easily crushing the very foundations the institute had been built on. But knowing that she was within the building, it was not a chance he was willing to take in order to rapidly eliminate whoever these intruders were.
It was why, as he reached where she was, a sense of relief was palpable. She’d opened her eyes as he leaned against the door panting…happily beginning to speak, though unintelligible, within the capsule’s swirling liquids.
Checking the control room, everything seemed normal. Slowly making his way down to where she was through ragged breaths, he’d curled his lips in a half-smirk.
“…stupid girl, you know that I can’t hear what you’re saying, right?”
It was at that moment that he heard two doors sweep open.
Armed with automatic weapons, demolitions and the abilities of Railgun, they were far more well equipped than he had thought. Despite this, his first instinct was to relax. After all, his reflection shield had always been active. Automatically redirecting any object that impacted it in any direction he chose, it would have been sufficient for any engagement.
The second they leveled their weapons at her, however…
Three more doors opened as the third group reached the control room and two more surrounded where Accelerator was standing.
Accelerator had muttered that to Last Order when she had found him in his room on some nights. After the experiment had been terminated, she had been temporarily living with him until an indefinite time.
Though she could not fathom what he’d just dreamt not feel his racing pulse and sweating brow as he recalled echoes of his past, she had tried to coax him into talking more about it. He’d questioned the reason for doing so.
“Misaka sometimes feels that you feel guilty about the past. But Misaka also thinks that you were only acting based on what you knew, says Misaka as Misaka tries to sound comforting…”
“That doesn’t change the fact that it is what it is. Would it not have been possible for those clones to live?”
“It may have been possible, but Misaka is unable to speculate on what may have occurred in an alternate dimension. Misaka would like to state again what the Misaka network had communicated in the past…”
“You mean that whole thing about not feeling any ill will? Yeah sure, whatever.”
“…Misaka doesn’t want to see you continue being sad when you think about it…. Misaka believes that what happened in the past will remain in the past, and so humans try to live their lives making the best choice they can make at that moment, says Misaka as Misaka tries to sound philosophical…”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Are your Sister’s lives, those gleefully slain by me, so worthless to you that you don’t allow others to feel guilt over their actions?”
“Misaka has learned the value of Misaka unit. Every Misaka unit’s life is valuable. If someone dies, someone will be crying, so it is not possible for Misaka to die again…”
Having ended these clones too many times in the past, Accelerator knew full well the extent of their abilities. Against what could be termed a small army of them though, he quickly recognized that it was not possible for him to be defensive and let them kill themselves off in attacking him.
Although his reflective shield kept him from harm, it could not be extended around inanimate objects. Even if it could, he had spotted a group of the clones within the control room accessing the controls for Last Order behind him.
“…you’ve got to be kidding me…”
<he’s… weak..He’s been hurt so much that…not only was he unable to protect what he held in his hands…. he even wore them out…>
<Misaka had hoped that..he would have felt better, now that he did not need to kill Misaka units anymore…>
<..but..he’s still hurting himself when he thinks about it…>
“But…you couldn’t have done anything!…There were just too many of them, and you had to move quickly…”
“She’d obviously say that..”
He closed his eyes.
What he’d dreamt of, what he’d been trying to escape, was now recreated in grisly detail before him.
He didn’t need his eyes to see that. He could feel the caked blood on his stained hands, the clammy atmosphere pressing in on him…
But worst of all…
He had felt it again. As in the past…
<…but, but still, Misaka…Misaka feels that he..he has lost something…something important to him. Even…earlier, he tried to protect a remnant of it…>
<“But you did try! You tried your hardest…Misaka knows that you did…”>
<How is it, that out of seven Level 5’s in the entire world…>
<How can it be, that as the best among them…able to defeat so many… and yet…>
<How can one be so strong…and yet so weak…>
Ah…so that was what it was.
It was loss…