~I'LL MURDER YOU IF YOU DON'T WAKE UP THIS INSTANT~
The sound of a yandere alarm clock resounded throughout Deen's apartment.
It was a gift from his boss—who'd always send him the stupidest gifts on a whim.
It had been a few weeks after he had inherited the title of Soul Armour Knight, Zero, from Gary Straights, who had left for some reason.
Honestly, he didn't really believe Gary's reason for leaving.
He believed, in reality, Gary was afraid of Tsuruko's growing feelings for him—and possibly his feelings for her.
Deen Lhant saw Gary as a more casual kind of guy who didn't enjoy serious relationships; at least, that's what he gathered from their scarse interactions.
Also he seemed like kind of a dick.
Deen could hear his holo-phone going off—he was sure of it, that he knew who was ringing him. Rummaging around in the trash of the titans that he called his home, he lazily pressed "call".
"...Lhant reporting in." He knew who this was.
The head of the Magic Council.
One of his childhood friends.
Also a bit pompous and a bit of an incompetent buffoon.
This was Alexis Tenjouin.
"Finally, you pick up! I've called you thirty times! ...Admittedly, that was cuz I like hearing your messaging system voice."
"Believe it or not, Deen is not home, but if he were here, he'd pick up the phone". That stuff was catchier than "Let Me Drive My Bike Into Your Heart", sung by none other than Alphonse Sejren.
He had a feeling that Giselle, despite her grouchiness, did like silly love songs.
Or that she was too busy laughing at it to take a notice of what she was saying to him.
It was either one or the other.
"Ahem!" Alexis called to Deen—did she really need to yell at him over a holo-phone? "So, you've become a Soul Armour Knight, I see!"
He wished he didn't now—the Chimera Driver was constantly affixed to his waist, and because of this he lacked the ability to take his pants off now. How does Tsuruko do it? he thought to himself.
It was as if it was a magnet.
"You noticed that before," Deen sighed. "Why do you always note things twice?"
"Because it's a habit. If you don't do something more than once, then you might make a mistake, you know."
Deen pointed to the belt. "It's right here. How could you not see it?"
"That's beside the point," Alexis interrupted him again. "Back on topic, Deen. Since you've become the second Zero, we can finally do something about the hellions."
"Like what?" Deen closed his eyes again. "It's my day off; I wanted to go see my parents. Save it for tomorrow."
"Aww, come on...!" Alexis put on her best pouty face. "You used to help me all the time in school!"
"That was when we were stupid kids." Deen brushed his raven hair back, looking up aimlessly at the ceiling. "Listen, Alexis, I appreciate that you gave me a job. But days off are just that- a chance for me to relax."
Most of the time, Alexis Tenjouin would call Deen Lhant up to get her coffee or rent a movie when she was busy doing paperwork (and by paperwork, it was really fooling around with the trinkets in the lab).
Basically, despite being a master of espionage, a strong fighter overall, and now, a Soul Armour Knight, Deen's skills were relegated to getting Alexis things that she wanted.
Alexis pouted again—honestly, Deen couldn't tell what age she really was.
On one hand, she and Deen went to school together through primary, high school, and college.
On the other, her stature and behaviour was akin to a teenager's still.
She acted like a rude version of Tsuruko if she had any authority.
"Anyway, Research Department found something interesting." She turned her Lacrima-powered laptop around to show Deen—and in the process, she accidentally gave him a look at her desktop.
Deen paused momentarily. The background was that of a collage of pictures of Alexis with a tall, white-haired man.
Who the hell was that guy?
"...uh, Alexis," Deen asked simply. "Who's that?"
"...You saw?" Alexis' constant buffoonish tone changed to one that sounded rather sad. "...That's my father. ANYWAY!" She quickly swiveled the laptop around, clicking on a few files. Turning it back to Deen once more, she pointed at the screen. "Research Department found a set of ancient ruins near Hargeon—I'm telling you, because you're there right now."
"Ruins?" Now Deen was interested.
"Yeah, they're of a..." She paused. "Of a 'ancient pre-Earth Land civilization'. I...don't quite understand it."
What WAS before Earth Land, anyway? He'd heard a myriad of tales about what was before.
The silliest one was that Earth Land was the last part of a trifecta of dimensions that used to be called 'Terra' before they were split.
As far as he knew,
Earth Land was the mortal realm,
Aether was Heaven,
And the name-forgotten world of people without magic was Hell.
Of course the last one would be hell—they had annoying, useless, talking cats in them.
Even Tsuruko hated them.
"Anyway, I want you to go check it out. I...don't want to spend money on a paid expenses trip to Hargeon for somebody else, so you do it."
Sound reasoning. Not.
"Why are you so stingy with money?" Deen didn't understand how she became the head of the Magic Council—that much was true.
"You could say that it's an inherited trait." Alexis seemed to feel awfully uncomfortable whenever she discussed her parents; that was visible because of her expressions. "So, go do it." There was a brief pause. "...Oh yeah, I suspect that the Zodiac Knights are after the ruins, too."
"...Why?" That was all Deen could ask; as Alexis went on to explain,
"Well, there's rumours of an ancient superweapon from pre-Earth Land times there. Of course they'd want it. They haven't been relevant in a while, after all. Maybe their leader wants it or something. I've done some research and it turns out that Joker is actually a dragon."
"...! Are you serious?"
"Yeah. During the war of humans and dragonkind, there were two dragons who reigned supreme—the Sovereign Dragon Indra and the Tyrant Dragon Vritra. Joker is one of those. Not sure which, though."
"Why aren't you sure?"
Alexis hit herself softly on the head, winking, and sticking her tongue out at him. "Because I forgot. ...Also, don't tell anyone about what you're doing. Now, toodles!"
With that, Alexis Tenjouin hung up.
Deen slammed his fist against the wall; he was insufficient with just about everything, in order to get there.
He had no time.
He had no equipment.
He had no battle strength.
And more importantly—Deen didn't have enough power.
Deen gritted his teeth. "...Tch." He felt absolutely powerless.
Even though he had the power of a Soul Armour now, he couldn't fight a dragon.
And even if he got to Joker, he'd have to fight through all of the Zodiac Knights by his lonesome.
He kept wondering, why the hell Alexis continually asked him to do everything.
It was like he was the only Rune Knight to ever exist in the history of everything ever.
"...Ohoho." He heard a faint laughter—it was familiar.
Deen twitched his shoulders and immediately lifted his face.
He identified the real face of the owner of that voice.
It was a rather tall woman— her hair might be called a Nordic blonde; she was a girl with a pale visage. Her white skin and purple eyes was her characteristic.
That graceful visage that could only be thought to be man-made was making a lively smile that could take on a joyful or scornful smile.
"That's quite a dark face you're making right there." She laughed.
"...Super Galaxy King!?" Deen exclaimed in shock.
It was their dreaded enemy—no mistake about it.
Deen tilted his body by reflex and glared at Kirika, all without lowering his guard. But, it was apparent that he was just bluffing. Not only was Deen unable to do anything about Kirika alone, it was also difficult for him to escape.
With knowledge of such a thing, Kirika smiled charmingly—opening her lips, she spoke, "Looks like you're in a bind. Can we have a talk?"