"I'm sure you recognize your position in the Spirit Squadron," Zero said, Mira still facing away from him. "In the Zone, we do battle with our minds. In this sense, you're stronger than Miki and your loud friend both. So tell me, do you know the answers, Mira?"

She frowned. "What answers? You mean who the Heartbreak Spirit is, or what happened to the Vampires? If I knew them, we wouldn't be out here."

Zero cast his eyes down, which was up from his point of view. "I'm disappointed."

She didn't say anything for a while, until she eventually sighed. "Zero, tell me something."

"Ask."

She stood up. "Just who are you?"

He took a deep breath. "Zelphias, alias Zero, half pure demon. Zone-born, technically a student of Central Academy at fifteen years old. Member of the Zone history research group Demonico. Talent in the field of number theory."

"Very interesting, but not what I meant."

He flipped over the railing and landed inches away from Mira, who backed away. "There are two secrets I am entrusting you with, Mirabel. Do not ask why. Not yet."

She raised an eyebrow. "Well, I like knowing secrets, so I can't complain."

"Good. Walk with me."

They started down the main bridge of the entry hall, a room so vast they couldn't see the distant walls in the darkness, only columns that were once ornate and now chipped and smashed. The floor underneath the bridge too was out of sight, and the ceiling they could only see where holes were torn through and the last bits of sunlight streamed through.

In the middle of it all, taking quick step after quick step, Zero and Mira were incredibly small.

"The first secret." Zero's voice echoed in the room. "Do you know about the Golden Blacksmith?"

"Just the basics," she said, her voice bouncing off the walls just the same. "Some sort of all-powerful mystery figure who can craft magical items, he's been around since the Zone began, an enemy to the Dimensional God himself, Dizone. Right?"

"Right."

"But of course, all the evidence says he's just been a title assumed by people throughout history who messed with the system using hot Demigod tech." She shrugged. "And that's about it. Not very interesting, if you ask me."

"Wrong."

She stumbled at his eloquent denial.

"Wh-what do you mean, wrong?"

"No, not wrong. Right, but you shouldn't think that. All the evidence points to that, but that's really because that's what the Golden Blacksmith wants us to believe."

Mira blinked once, and then twice, hearing the words of insane conspiracy theorists come from respected genius Zero's mouth.

"In truth, the Golden Blacksmith has been a single entity, living since the beginning of the Zone." His voice was completely matter-of-fact. "Ageless beings do exist."

"Don't tell me you believe in ghosts, too," Mira said, her voice flat.

"No, I do not. In this case, my suspicions rest on Vampire."

"Vampires again…"

They reached a point where the bridge split up into three staircases, straight ahead going up and down to either side, though the one on the right had long since collapsed. Zero started up the steps straight ahead, and Mira followed obediently.

"Yes, Vampires again. We in the Zone History Club have always accepted the reality of the true Golden Blacksmith, but have never gotten beyond that point. I have always believed he is a Vampire, but have never been able to prove even their existence until today."

"So, the first secret-"

"Is not that," he said. "I will tell that same thing to Miki, and to Red later on, when it becomes relevant to them. That will be after this mission, if all goes according to plan."

She scowled at him. "According to plan, huh? You sound like you were pulled out of a bad mastermind sim."

He ignored her. "The first secret is something else. You absolutely must not tell anybody else this, do you understand? If you do – well – don't."

"Right, right. I'm not telling a soul, no matter how much they pay me."

He warned her another time after that, and she said again that she was ready to hear it and that she wouldn't tell anybody.

He told her the first secret, and in spite of all her preparation for it, Mira was left stunned and would have thought anyone other than the genius Zero to be a crazy liar.

But Zero had said it, and all she could think was that everything finally made sense.

The second secret was what he already told her, his birth name of Zelphias. He said he thought it very ugly, and she agreed to tell no one.

vwv

The human dimension was so quiet.

Sekitana, Japan. It had taken the professor Dizo's attention twice, but each time as he sat on the clock tower at the edge of town he felt disappointed.

The clouds drifted past lazily. The sun-baked fields of yellow-green grass swayed in the breeze. There were a few lights of headlights moving around the streets, and he could see some people gathering at a marketplace.

Some people liked the calm, he understood. He was not one of those people.

"Really, now," he said to himself, and leaned back on the roof thirty stories off the ground. He sighed, and reached into his shirt, pulling out the crescent-moon pendant that didn't have a trace of glow on it.

The wind blew over him, tossing blonde hair in a flurry around his head. He didn't flinch, just laying there for the longest time, looking at the pendant with his unparalleled brilliant mind outmaneuvered, outwitted, and outdone by the mystery.

The time stream was continuous between dimensions, so at that same point in time, Red lost in a shouting match to Fai, Tsuki and the Vampire, Aria, descended further into the archive hall, Zero opened a door only he knew about, and Miki fell down a flight of stairs after tripping over her own foot.


A/N: Chapter 28~! And with it comes the beginning of a bigger mystery! The certain question Zero was hoping the Spirit Squadron could answer, him trusting Mira with this information, his orchestration of the Old Central mission, and his secret - what does it all mean?

It means that Zelphias, alias Zero, is unraveling the plot threads of a giant mystery, nya! cx

Next week we're back to Eterno and Miki! Wait eagerly for next Saturday, nya x3

Hope you liked the chapter~! Until next time, Kisho, out~! /salute