Lesson 1: Solitariness, aside from making friends
Translator: Irid, Ryuuku Yukigami, Wryn
Proofreader: Arc, Catchkatch, Wryn
“Dr Avery, I’m heading off to school. Bye.”
Daren Avery looked the picture of a model student as he waved goodbye to Theodore, with his immaculate hairstyle and backpack.
As for Avery, he had the haggard look of a barely functioning drug addict, as was his early morning characteristic. He reflexively waved his unoccupied hand upon hearing the words ‘school’ and ‘bye’.
“Bye Dar; be careful,” he wheezed.
Daren saw Ezart leaning against a nearby fence the moment he walked out the door. He trotted over immediately. “Morning Ezart!” he greeted.
“M-hm,” Ezart grunted in response as he chewed a piece of toast.
After a prolonged silence on their way to school, Daren quipped, “You’re really early today.”
Ezart gulped down his toast and wiped his mouth.
“It’s because of your recent weirdness,” he grumbled. “Your dad asked me to watch you closely, making me wake up at an ungodly hour. You’re just a little quiet; nothing exceptionally weird. I have no idea what they’re paranoid about!”
Daren came to an abrupt stop, looking at the shop by the roadside.
“Wanna buy an upgrade chip?” Ezart knew without looking that it was the toy store where Daren bought all of Little Ai’s upgrades.
“Models...” Daren murmured.
“What?” Ezart did not hear him.
Daren became silent. Instead of repeating himself, he shook his head. “I don’t want to buy an upgrade chip. I want to go to school—I can’t be late.”
“It’s still early!” Ezart scratched his head. Seems like other than being quiet, this guy is a little off. He hasn't displayed that ‘puppy dog eyes’ look recently... But no point over-thinking it. He grabbed Daren by the arm and dragged him towards the toy store.
Daren tried to shake Ezart off. “I want to go to school to study seriously. I can’t be late,” he declared solemnly.
But Ezart held on tight. Based on his current strength, Daren could not shake him off without hurting him.
“Just a quick look. We won’t be late!” Ezart continued to drag him.
He was originally a weirdo with monstrous strength, but after accidentally ingesting Dr Avery’s experimental strength-enhancing substance, he was now packing the power of a tank. In addition, his speed and reaction times were vastly different from before, so now he truly deserved the title of Hercules reincarnate.
However, Daren was no small fry. As a result of seven year’s worth of extensive modifications by Dr Avery, he had an alter ego that was completely different from his nerdy appearance—Dark sun, the ultimate cyborg.
So Hercules and the strongest cyborg Dark Sun became locked in a struggle in front of the toy store.
“Stop! Please stop!” The store attendant begged repeatedly without daring to approach either of them.
Ezart was straining so hard veins were standing out on his neck. On the other hand, Daren was also in unspeakable agony. Although his strength was incomparable to Ezart’s, he was adept at maximising output by utilising every single part of his body in the battle for supremacy of strength.
Only the resulting agony felt like being steam-rolled repeatedly by a tank.
Both of them turned towards the store attendant, simultaneously biting out, “Whatcha... want?”
The store attendant pointed at their feet in distress.
They looked down and released each other at the same time, skidding several feet due to the sudden loss of resistance. A new, ten centimetre deep depression with multiple cracks had appeared in the concrete slab below them.
Ezart was silent for a moment before he glanced at the displeased store attendant. He shoved the person beside him. “Hey! Your brother will pay, right?”
Dark Sun fished out a credit card from his shirt pocket.
“How is it? Can you read it?”
Eli shook his head and ducked it lower under Eloise’ glare, ignoring her.
Although she was frustrated, Eloise could not hold it against him. She hung her head by the window as she wailed. “Dar... My cute Dar! He doesn't smile anymore—he’s not cute anymore!”
Yelan Academy’s slacker class D was exceptionally subdued today. Compared to their usual boisterous shouting, arms trading and skirmishes, it was unusually quiet except for the intermittent wailing and screaming of a single female by the window.
On closer inspection, another major difference could be observed: they were all sitting obediently in their assigned seats.
“Class, today the lesson for battle history shall be... Sorry, I've walked into the wrong classroom,” the teacher mumbled to himself as he walked into the classroom and walked out again.
Within a minute, he was back again, staring at the sign at the entrance for a full five minutes before stepping warily onto the podium. The teacher stared at the students, wide eyed as they stared right back at him.
Ezart was sleeping as per usual and Daren was waiting patiently for class to start, with notebook and pen in hand. The rest were ‘obediently’ rooted to their seats. Although there were only a few with books on their desks, it was bizarre even for them to be seated. If they had their textbooks ready he would run out of classroom in terror.
The teacher was clueless as to what was happening. He dabbed the beads of sweat from his brow with his handkerchief as he stammered, “Shall we have a self-study period?”
The students stared at him wide-eyed, afraid to answer him. Sensing the situation, the teacher did not dare to declare it a self-study period.
“What’s there to study? You might as well dismiss the class!” Eloise, still plastered to the window, grumbled. “If you don’t dismiss the class Dar will ignore us. Even if it is a self-study lesson Dar will ignore us. Isn’t that the same as waiting for a whole period? Annoying!”
The students took a sharp intake of breath collectively, then stared daggers at the teacher on the podium. He perceptively announced, “Class dismissed.”
The class did not react to the announcement, but instead, when Eloise cheered and ran around the classroom, the entire class escaped screaming.
Eli sauntered over to the middle of classroom, wading through the slew of evacuating students who parted like the red sea before him, giving him a wide berth despite clambering over each other in their haste to escape.
The teacher paled and exited hastily without even daring to look at Eloise.
What sort of joke is this? To be able to scare a whole class off... Is she human?
The moment he heard class was dismissed, the microchip told Daren that it was time to go home. Hence, he silently packed up his belongings in preparation to leave.
Eloise sped to his side. “Wait a second!” she yelled.
Dark sun greeted her politely while packing his bag. “Hello, Eloise.”
She placed both hands on his shoulders and breathlessly asked, “D...Dar, have lunch together with us?”
Dark Sun declined with a shake of his head. “It’s only 10:30am. It’s not time for lunch yet.”
“Breakfast then?” Eloise rubbed her stomach. She really had not eaten this morning.
“I’ve had breakfast. Thank you for the invitation. I need to go home now. See you some other time.”
Eloise was at a loss. She glanced at Eli, who was paying attention to the ground. She then looked to Ezart... who was still asleep.
She smacked Ezart’s desk furiously. “Wake up, porcupine head! School is over!” she bellowed.
Ezart jerked upright but his eyes were still unfocused from sleep.
Eloise screamed into his ear. “School is over! Porcupine head!”
Ezart jumped to his feet and shouted back in gusto. “School’s over? Impossible! I just fell asleep not long ago... eh?” He belatedly realised that neither the teacher nor the students remained.
School is really over? Ezart scratched his head in disbelief.
“We’re going to the battle simulator!”
Eloise was in a foul mood and was itching to bash someone up. But she suddenly remembered that Ezart’s strength was not like before. If it was mano-a-mano, she could be asking for a beating instead.
She hurriedly amended her statement. “I want to team up with Eli.”
“Ok,” Ezart replied straightforwardly.
Dark Sun politely excused himself. “I’m heading off. Ezart, Eloise, Eli... Bye.”
“You’re not coming?” Ezart asked in disappointment. He had not had a chance to duel Dark Sun since his power boost.
Dark Sun shook his head.
“You’re actually not plastering yourself onto others? Weren't you hankering to have supper all the time in the past?” After a moment Ezart shrugged, unconcerned. Although he did not get to fight Dark Sun there was still Eloise. And if that was insufficient, he could duel Elian, too.
Eloise pinched Ezart’s arm. “Dar is obviously not right, you big oaf!” she chastised.
“He’s just having a tiff with his brother!” Ezart remained nonchalant.
“That’s not true!” Eloise insisted stubbornly. “Papa Avery already said that Dar is not himself, but Dark Sun instead.”
“What—Dar or Dark Sun?” Ezart huffed. “Dar is just having a tantrum. He’ll be fine in a while. He can’t stay mad for long with his personality.”
“You... you don’t understand the situation at all!” Eloise screeched.
Despite the ruckus behind him, Dark Sun continued to walk out of the classroom towards the school gates.
“Dar, wait for me.”
Dark Sun instantly analysed that the voice belonged to Elian, coming from a distance of about a hundred meters.
According to Elian’s past behaviour, he would not seek his company for an incredibly late breakfast or ridiculously early lunch. It must be about matters of import. Hence, he stopped to allow Elian to catch up.
“Dar, the Principal is looking for you.” Elian looked rather uneasy. “He said that he has a mission you must complete.”
Why must this mission have to occur when Dar is off kilter, of all times? Elian had a strong urge to wail like Eloise. If Dar refused to accept the mission, but the Principal insisted on it, what were those stuck between the two parties supposed to do?
Dark Sun quietened, allowing his microchip to determine the course of action.
The microchip analysed that, since the mission was what he promised previously and well within his capabilities, accepting the mission would appease the Principal’s vengeful streak and prevent his master from knowing that he had made such a promise.
Dark Sun nodded. “Ok, let’s go see the Principal.”
Elian heaved a sigh of relief before the anxious feeling began to grow again. Although Dar was willing to see the Principal now, he might not accept the mission. Even if he were to accept the mission, if he was injured, then the Solaris Emperor...
Elian’s stomach was in knots.
“Elian, are you coming?”
Elian hesitated for a moment before replying. “Ok.”
He smiled wistfully. He really could not get used to the Dar who called him by his full name! I hope Dr Avery can come up with a solution to bring back the Dar who calls me ‘Elian ge’.
“Protective services detail.” The Principal, Antonias, braced both hands on his desk. With an ugly expression, he growled, “You have to accept it this time, no matter what.”
Daren, no, Dark Sun—at this point he had already donned Dark Sun’s attire, wearing the red shirt, boots, and, most importantly, the protective visor that covered his face—emotionlessly stared at the Principal through the visor.
“State the details of the mission,” he said in an even voice.
Antonias did not waste any time. “You have heard of Lance, correct?” he asked frankly.
Dark Sun gave a straightforward reply in turn. “I have not.”
Antonias was suddenly at a loss for words, and did not know how to continue. He had only used that sentence as an opening remark and hadn't been asking Dark Sun whether he actually knew of Lance. In this world, not knowing of Lance was almost as rare as not knowing who the Solaris Emperor was.
Elian’s expression changed, and he hurriedly pulled Dark Sun into a corner for a hushed conversation.
“Dar, Lance is the most famous singer in the world who rose to fame at just 18 years old. It’s been 10 years since then, and it can be said that there is no one in the world who has not heard of him…”
After saying this, Elian was a little stymied. Wasn't there someone who didn't know of Lance right in front of him?
Dark Sun nodded his head, walked back to the Principal’s desk, and said, “Continue.”
Antonias hurriedly cleared the perplexed expression from his face. Right now, the point was to get Dark Sun to accept the mission. It didn't matter if he knew of Lance; after all, this mission only required a person strong enough to complete it. Even if said person lacked even basic common knowledge, that didn’t matter in the slightest.
“The mission is to stick close to Lance and ensure his safety.”
Receiving such a straightforward reply, Antonias grimaced slightly. “You haven’t forgotten that, of the five missions you agreed to, you haven’t completed a single one yet?” he shot back coldly.
“I haven’t forgotten.” Dark Sun shook his head and explained. “I am unable to shadow and protect another person 24/7. I have another master, another mission.”
Hearing this, Antonias’ expression relaxed a bit. He explained further. “Protecting him during class hours is enough. For a duration of one month, not a lengthy period of time.”
“I am unable to leave the school.” Dark Sun persisted in declining.
Antonias clapped his hands and said, smiling, “You won’t need to leave the school. I just need you to protect him here, within YeLan Academy.”
“Lance is coming to our school?” Elian couldn't help exclaiming.
He knew that the stir caused by this information would probably only be marginally less than that caused by the Solaris Emperor attending YeLan Academy… But to be honest, right now the odds of the Solaris Emperor sneaking into YeLan Academy to visit his little brother was not that low.
Elian didn't know whether he should laugh or cry. It seemed to him that, after meeting Dar, lots of practically ‘impossible’ occurrences had suddenly become much more likely.
“Right.” Antonias’ face darkened. “I don’t know what’s wrong with that guy,” he grumbled. “He isn't content with just singing. Of all the things he could have said, he had to say that attending a battle academy was his dream, and now he’s here to fulfill it. And of all the battle academies out there, he just had to pick ours.”
“That’s really unfortunate.” Elian finally understood why the Principal was so insistent about Dark Sun accepting this mission.
It was Lance, after all! What kind out-of-this-world visitor was that?
Those who wanted to kidnap him or kill him numbered at least eighty thousand, if not more, and among them would be many professional kidnappers and assassins. If something bad happened to him at YeLan Academy, then the Academy would most definitely be shut down, and then each student would be classified as a suspect. Perhaps the Principal would be forced to spend the twilight of his life dodging assassins.
“Sin and I could also shadow and protect him,” Elian volunteered, very sincerely.
“Absolutely not!” Antonias protested, his vexation showing on his face. “This annoying guy said something about how he is only coming to attend classes and how he also already possesses considerable combat skills. Therefore, he doesn't need someone to protect him… anyways, in the end, he will only accept one bodyguard. And also…”
“...Also?” Elian echoed, his interest piqued.
Antonias continued with a straight face. “That bodyguard must be physically attractive, with a slim figure, have to be poised, have lustrous hair, and have exceptional combat abilities. Only the gender wasn't specified.”
Hearing this, Elian didn't know whether to laugh or cry. “Is he choosing a bodyguard or a wife?” Elian asked.
“I’m not sure, myself.”
“Although Dark Sun seems mostly suitable… because he never removes his visor, does he still count as physically attractive?”
Elian glanced at Dark Sun for a moment; aside from that protective visor, he truly seemed to fit all of Lance’s requirements. But, regardless, Dark Sun would never agree to remove his visor. Elian couldn't resist suggesting, “Isn’t it better to assign Sin?”
“Not a chance! I would much rather send you than Sin,” Antonias exclaimed. “That guy Sin has no problem at all with assassination-type missions, but he should never be given missions requiring him to keep someone alive!”
That’s true... Elian wrinkled his forehead and pondered for a long moment, then shook his head. “No way,” he concluded. “I’m not confident that I can adequately protect Lance all on my own. But with the addition of Eloise and Eli, it might work out.”
“Obviously, that is unacceptable,” Antonias replied grumpily. “If it was acceptable, I would have already sent the whole ECS to become Lance’s study buddies!”
Elian couldn't help but agree. Indeed, for people like Lance, letting the entire ECS act as bodyguards wouldn't be excessive.
But Lance insisted on only one person, and the obvious candidate was… both pairs of eyes shifted to Dark Sun.
”I won’t take off my visor,” Dark Sun answered simply.
“You won’t have to. Eloise says that she can tell that you’re attractive just from your figure and poise.”
“That’s probably biased…” Elian mumbled.
Antonias coughed once. “Anyway, I've already given Dark Sun’s photograph to Lance for him to appraise, and he also agrees. The rest is up to you.”
So that’s how it was. Elian nodded his head, and the two of them once again focused their gazes on Dark Sun.
Dark Sun was silently waiting for his microchip to make a judgment. This moment lasted for only a few seconds before he opened his mouth and replied. “The duration of this mission is too long. Unless you count it as two missions, I will not accept. Moreover, at the beginning you agreed that I would have the power to turn down missions.”
Are you trying to kick a man when he’s down?
Antonias’ expression changed suddenly. His eyes widened and he fixed Dark Sun with a deathly glare. The latter, under the piercing attack of the Principal’s gaze, remained expressionless. The Principal had no choice but to take one deep breath after another and then spoke through clenched teeth. “All right, all right! If you say two then it’ll be two!”
Hearing this, Dark Sun nodded once.
The Principal mumbled to himself. “I’ll have you remember, if in the future all the missions I give to you are not of an extraordinary difficult level, I, Antonias, will change my name to Petunias!”
Elian couldn't help but start to worry, because, to tell the truth, Dar’s true status was probably higher than Lance’s. Dar was the world leader’s most precious loved-one. Under normal circumstances, if Dar had liked listening to music, for all anyone knew the first person to kidnap Lance would be the Solaris Emperor, to make Lance Dar’s exclusive stereo.
“Now the supreme Young Master is going to protect a music player?”
Just thinking about it made Elian feel extremely helpless, and deeply afraid on top of that. If that supreme Lord knew that his darling little brother had actually guarded a musician, Elian wouldn't be surprised if the Solaris Emperor viciously beat up Lance himself.
“DS II, turn on the switch for emotions.”
Theodore had a report in hand, the pupils behind his spectacles utterly focused on the modified human clone of Dark Sun before him.
DS II was silent for a moment, and then revealed a brilliant smile, reporting, “The emotions section is already switched on, Doctor Avery.”
Even though DS II’s emotions were successfully activated, Theodore’s expression wasn't happy in the slightest. “Were there any mutually conflicting areas?” he asked carefully. “Was there any conflict with the previous order not to switch on the emotion section?”
“Nope!” DS II said, grinning cheerfully. “Later orders supersede earlier ones, Mr. Avery. Have you forgotten?”
Hearing this, Theodore revealed an expression full of concern. Of course he hadn't forgotten this setup; normally, it would only be proper for Dark Sun to follow the most recent orders. This was a setup every android possessed. Otherwise, if the master first ordered the android to walk, then ordered it to stop, should the android walk or should it stop?
Earlier, Devon had first ordered Daren to follow his own wishes and later ordered him to forcibly switch on the emotion section. In the normal course of events, it should be the latter order that would take effect.
However, reality wasn't like that. Now, no matter how many times Devon ordered Dar to switch on the emotion section, Dar remained as the heartless and emotionless Dark Sun. Using the first order as precedence, he refused to switch on the emotion section.
“Why doesn’t DS II have a problem like this?” Theodore mumbled. “So is it really true that actual humans are unable to be controlled using simple on and off switches?”
He suddenly thought of something. Earlier, when Dark Sun had switched on the emotion section for the first time, his entire body had literally collapsed. However, when DS II switched on the emotion section, he had only needed a few seconds’ worth of time.
“Because what you turned on was just the switch for an imitation of human emotion, not real human emotion!” Theodore sighed gustily.
He looked at DS II. The latter looked back a cheerful, if slightly confused, smile. He was so adorable that he seemed innocent yet pitiful. Everyone would want to have such a cute little brother.
Theodore looked him in the eye, murmuring, “You actually play the role of little brother very well. No wonder even the Solaris Emperor couldn't resist treating you as Dar’s substitute.”
Agh! He feared starting up DS II was a waste of effort after all: DS II and Dark Sun were simply too different.
So how was he supposed to turn Dark Sun back into Dar?
This was the first time Theodore had felt so powerless. A broken leg could be reconstructed, a ruined hand might as well be switched for another... it didn't matter how serious an injury it was. At most he would have to replace his entire body. With the Solaris Emperor’s financial resources and his own surgical abilities, physical injuries were nothing to him.
But what could he do about emotions?
Theodore was stuck. Even a surgeon with the highest degree of skill would be unable to crack open Dark Sun’s skull and infuse something as intangible as emotions, right?
However, if he could not think of a method to restore Dark Sun back to Dar, he was afraid that there would be a certain person all too happy to crack open his skull.
Theodore lifted his head to look. Surprisingly, the person who returned was Daren, the reason for his current vexation.
He felt a bit doubtful. Even though his sense of time was by no means accurate and there was no difference between night and day in the basement, why was it that he felt Dar hadn't left too long ago?
Evidently the clock thought so too; it was only nearing noon.
“Dar, why did you return so early?”
Dark Sun stood up from the couch. Another sofa descended right after with Ezart sitting on it.
“The teacher ended class early,” Dark Sun replied simply.
“What strange thing is this… Dar’s twin brother?”
Ezart noticed at once the person standing by Theodore’s side, who looked exactly like Dark Sun.
“This is the modified human clone of Dark Sun, originally kept as a back up to avoid problems with Dark Sun’s experiment. Just call him DS II.” Theodore gave a cursory explanation, and then looked at Ezart excitedly. “Come quickly, let me examine your body’s condition,” he said.
Ezart dragged his feet at an agonising pace as he walked over.
Theodore couldn't wait and simply decided to meet him halfway. He ran his hands all over Ezart’s body, asking as he did so, “Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere, or have you experienced anything particularly strange?”
Ezart wrinkled his brows. Every time was just like this; if Ezart hadn't known that this guy was treating him just like the pile of corpses in his laboratory, Ezart would have actually believed that this doctor had some disgustingly perverted habits.
“That’s just too perfect!” Theodore couldn't help praising. “Why is it that I am unable to achieve the same results? Ah, Ezart! Tell me again about that time when you took a dose of the muscular reformation drug.”
“Again?” Ezart rolled his eyes, growling. “I must have told you a hundred times already!”
“Doing a check-up is extremely tedious anyway. Why don’t you treat it as telling a story for an elder?”
He’s actually willing to admit that he’s old. he is indeed a nutcase about his work… Ezart was left speechless.
“Doctor Avery, Ezart, I’m going upstairs to modify guns.” Dark Sun suddenly opened his mouth and spoke.
“All right, all right. Go do your own thing.” Theodore didn't even bother turning his head and just replied flippantly.
Dark Sun sat on the sofa once again. Before he went upstairs, he saw…
“Who are you?” DS II looked at Ezart curiously.
“Ezart Lah*!” Ezart replied grumpily.
“DS II, help me prepare the examination instruments, and then help him lie down.”
Theodore’s energy levels were suddenly renewed. He’d gone through an entire morning of setbacks, and now he was finally about to start his experiment… No, it’s a check-up, a check-up! This checkup was more effective than a dose of adrenaline.
”Yes!” DS II smiled brightly and replied energetically. “Come with me, Ezart Lah!”
Dark Sun pressed the ‘up’ button.
*********** Eclipse Hunter v04c01 END ************
*啦 Lah - a colloquial sound of exasperation / emphasis. Present in mandarin, many chinese dialects, malay, manglish and singlish. For more information visit http://www.singlishdictionary.com/