Haruka felt really stupid to fall for that illusion again. The one of Axle. He had long since moved out of her life, but the memories still stuck with her.
And how did Keaton know about him? She could tell he was hiding something, but what was it? She hated not knowing; it was so frustrating.
It was also frustrating not knowing her brother. The brother she knew about, but never found. The other Miyazaki…
"I have a Nii-san?" a young Haruka asked her mother.
"… Yes," she replied.
"Where is he, Oka-san?"
"… He's with your father."
At the word "father", Haruka's mother spat it out. Six year old Haruka didn't understand, so she asked.
"Why do you hate Oda-san?" she asked, for she had never met her father before.
"He's a criminal who ran away with your twin brother and another woman," Haruka's mother said bitterly.
"Do you know where Oda-san and Nii-san are, Oka-san?"
"No, I don't. Now shut up!"
Haruka never asked about her brother or father again, but she always dreamed about what they'd be like.
Her brother would be strong and handsome, while Father would be a good-for-nothing drunkard. These images stayed within Haruka until today, when she logged into Online Legends.
She swore that she would log out without killing someone. That image of her father told her that she was better than him. She was the superior. She would win.
It was then she was helped along with Virus, who tore her away from everyone else, making her think everyone was an enemy. She stayed away from other players, power-leveling alone. She rose in levels at a rate deemed impossible, soaring through titles as strongest player.
She became the Blue Eyed Swordsman, the fearless Haruka. But, deep down, she was alone. So very alone… Mother was dead, and Haruka had distaste in her ice cold foster parents.
Then she met Keaton. Something made her put down her sword that day. That curve of his smile… That smile was something she wanted to protect for some reason. She definitely wasn't in love with him, but she felt as if she had found some long lost connection…
Wait. Could he be her twin? Her brother? The one she never knew? She had to confirm it. She had to.
I felt something tickling my nose. What the hell? I opened my eyes, and saw Haruka scratching it.
"Haruka!" I yelled, startling her backwards.
"S-Sorry…" she stammered.
"Geez, you're like my sister…" I muttered.
She laughed uneasily. "That's what I wanted to ask…"
I looked at her. "Huh?"
"Keaton, what's your real name?" she asked.
"Why do you wanna know that?"
"Because I want to see if your my brother."
"But, I never had a biological sister… Dad always said I was an only child…"
"Just tell me your real f***ing name, dammit!"
I recoiled. "Okay, okay… it's Karuno Miyazaki."
Her eyes widened. "Nii… san?"
"Eh?" I uttered dumbly.
"Nii-san!" she cried out, wrapping me in a hug.
"Gah! What!?" I exclaimed.
"My name's Harumi Miyazaki! I'm your twin sister!"
She swung me around like a doll, not letting go the whole time. I think I lost consciousness for a split second; her grip was so… tight…
Haruka (or rather, Nee-chan) let go, a grin plastered on her face.
"I'm so happy…" she said. "I finally found you…"
"Now that you mention it, we do look a lot alike…" I said, peering at her face.
I cupped it between my hands, examining it.
"Um, Nii-san?" she asked.
"Same black hair… same skin color… the similarities are countless…" I muttered aloud.
"Nii-san, shouldn't we be going?" she asked.
I let go. "Y-Yeah. We can clear up family manners later."
I marched down the field, when I got an idea. "Hey, Haru—er, Nee-chan…"
"Yeah?" she asked innocently.
"Are you… happy in the real world?"
"I see… You don't like where you live?" I asked.
She shook her head.
"How about… you come live with me and Dad? There's my stepsister and stepmom, too," I offered.
Her mouth opened slightly in surprise. "Why're you being so nice all of a sudden?"
I smiled. "I guess… I'm making up for lost time."
Nee-chan smiled. "You really mean it?"
"Of course. I don't lie to my siblings… most of the time," I added the last part.
She thwacked me on the head. "Some Nii-san you are…"
Forsythia felt twisted inside. There was a sickening knot in her stomach whenever she saw her sister with Karuno. She knew they were close, but there wasn't a day that passed by when Karuno wasn't concerned for Kyou's safety. She hugged her knees to her chest, rocking herself slowly.
She had known all along. She knew of her harbored feelings for Karuno… But Kyou was better. She was independant, kind, the great personality of a girl, and beautiful…
Meanwhile, Forsythia wasn't anything close. She wanted nothing more than to roll in the dirt, free from society…
"Why Kyou and not me…?" she whispered.
She then heard the door creak open, and Keaton stepped in.
I sighed in pity at the sight of Forsythia. "Jealous of Kyou now, are we?"
She flinched. "Wh-What?"
I pointed at her. "I can hear you from the door."
She quickly turned embarrassed. I smiled.
"This isn't the time to be wandering in your sad emotions. How about we sort this out in the real world, huh? Whaddya say?" I said.
"R-Right…" she said, standing. "Sorry…"
"You sound like a sappy, pathetic anime character," I said. "C'mon, get the f*** over it, already!"
"I'm not sappy or pathetic!" Forsythia yelled.
"Sure…" I replied sarcastically.
"Baka!" she shouted at me, swinging her staff on my head.
"Hey! I just got hit there by Nee-chan!" I protested.
"'Nee-chan'?" she asked.
"Haruka's my sister. My biological sister. We should get going; I'd hate to get sidetracked now."
I took her hand, and led her outside.
The monster swung at me, and I went sailing into a wall. No! This can't be… happening! Forsythia, Nee-chan, Kyou… They're gone!
I freed myself, and ran at the monster. I sliced at it, over an over. I didn't care anymore; I didn't matter. I yelled louder an louder with each strike. I finally sliced open its dark belly. Players began tumbling out, one by one, covered in slime.
The monster shrieked, and knocked me back again, my HP dancing on the line of death. I then saw Wing approach me, looking like some sort of Captain Levi.
"Stand up," he said in a metallic tone.
He turned to face the monster, whose HP was still two thirds full. Wing materialized two silver swords, sighing in boredom.
"You cause too much trouble…" he muttered, and went for the monster.
I couldn't move again; I could only watch. Wing easily cut through the monster's flesh, cutting its HP down to half. His swings acted as if this were child's play. He threw one like a boomerang, and it ricocheted across the room, each ricochet delivering a successful strike to the beast.
Wing jumped, caught the blade, and spun with it for a final blow.
We had done it. We had finally cleared the twentieth dungeon. We were free. We were… free…
"I must say, bravo, Xero," a creepy voice said.
Wing turned. "Thank you…"
"Splendid job, and you brought me three of the vessels! Oh, I'm so happy!" Virus exclaimed.
He picked me up, grinning with sharpened teeth. "Hello, Kii-chan!"
He tossed me into the center, and I fell on my side. He tossed Forsythia next to me, then Haruka.
"Finally, I have four of the vessels! Ah, but where's the last one?" Virus questioned aloud.
There was silence. Wing stood near me, looking down on my face. Wing… he's working with Virus… He's…
I had never felt so angry in my life. I stood, and struck him. He barely dodged, but I cute off his cloak. The purple flames engulfed.
"Ah, Kii-chan! Don't use your flames!" Virus cried out, snapping his fingers.
My flames didn't dissipate. I glared at Wing's true form: a robot clad in silver with folded wings. His face was that of a human, with messy maroon hair and green eyes.
"Wing… You…" I hissed.
"Xero, take care of him for me, I have to speak with Master…" Virus said, sighing.
"You're not going anywhere!" I roared, and kicked him into a wall.
He cried out in pain. He tried to escape the wall, but my foot pounded into his face.
"Why'd you do it, huh?" I asked. "Why'd you trap us here?"
"You're race is too big," Virus replied.
I stomped his face. "Dammit, that's a stupid answer!"
"But I don't know why. I just do what Master tells me."
"Who's your Master?" I asked darkly, twisting my foot.
"I'm not telliiing!" Virus sang, and vanished.
I finally turned my attention on Xero. His face became encased in silver with a green visor. He still had his swords, and had opened a weird portal.
"Are you going to fight me?" he asked. "Because I have to go log out the players now."
"Of course I'm gonna fight you, you sick bastard," I said.
"Sorry, I can't fight you. But I'm sure the injection's finished by now…"
On that note I charged, bringing my sword down onto where Xero stood. He leaped out of the way, and opened a menu. He pushed a few buttons, and then everything went black.
I tried to open my eyes, noticing it was very hard to do so. I tried again, and was met with a white ceiling. So we cleared the game. The last dungeon had been completed, freeing the still trapped players. I was dressed in that weird patient-hospital outfit.
I moved my hand to my eyes. It was thin and frail, showing no trace of any muscle. It trembled, and then collapsed onto the soft bed on its own weight.
I made a weak smile. "I'm… home…"
I made an effort to look out the nearby window. It was mid afternoon. If I was right, then visiting hours were still in session. I shifted my vision over to the left, where I met a pair of bright blue eyes.
"Nee-chan…" I whispered hoarsely.
She smiled at me, her face really sunken. "Nii-san…"
We laughed quietly. We were free. We were completely free. Online Legends was gone forever.
The door creaked open, and I saw my stepsister Serah walk in. She was carrying a bouquet of flowers, and when she saw me, I swear her heart might've stopped.
Serah was now a beautiful fourteen year old, much different than the twelve year old I had left behind so long ago… Her short brown hair had grown down to her shoulders, and she had grown taller. Her brown eyes shined with happiness.
"Ka… ru… no…" she whispered, tears falling to the floor.
"Hey, Serah…" I said, coughing slightly.
"You're alive!" she cried out, falling to the floor in sobs. "You're awake!"
I tried sitting up, but it was really hard. My whole backside ached as I managed somehow. I glanced at my right arm. There were remains of a shot there, and it leaked little blood.
I wonder… what that was…
His fingers flew like the wind across the keyboard, jacking one security system after the other. There were obvious bags under his eyes as the night dragged on.
He was sitting in a desk, and on the desk lay three computer monitors. On one was an active video call with Virus.
"Master, have you located the Fifth Vessel?" he asked.
"Give me some time, dammit…" the teen mumbled sleepily.
On the opposite monitor was Xero. "Sir, you should rest—"
"No! His Majesty must have his Vessels! I have to keep going!"
"Shut the hell up! I think I'm onto something…"
His fingers suddenly stopped. The teen sat back, smiling.
"Xero…" he said.
"Yes?" Xero replied.
"I found the Fifth Vessel. I want you to track him down. Trap the players if you want to, Virus."
"Of course, sir!" Virus replied with joy. "I'll trap them! What consequences should I add?"
"How about just a death in reality? For a reward, beating the game is a log out for that person and their party members. Is that fine?" the teen asked.
Virus bowed. "Yes!"
"What's the game, sir? When should we break it?" Xero asked.
"Break it when the other Vessels enter the spotlight. As for the game…" the teen said.
"It's called The Phantom's Blade."
Thank you for staying with me all the way to the end of what I call the Online Legends Arc.
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See you in the next arc, "Ghost Blade"!