Rays of sunlight peeked through gaps in the blinds, illuminating the small apartment the silver-haired man lived in. The alarm placed beside the bed rang for a moment but was immediately stopped, he'd already been awake for several hours. Min-jun laid in bed, fully clothed and yet without the strength to get up. He knew what awaited him today and felt nervous. "I don't know myself," he thought. "No memory exists. No records of who I was in the past. I woke up one day, scared and confused, and have been living this way ever since…" He stretched an arm out and looked over his clothing. It was nothing unordinary for him: a black, long-sleeved shirt, an unbuttoned red vest on top, black trousers with some crimson red stripes along the hips, and all of that was topped off with military-esque boots. "It feels strange and lonely. But, that ends now– the Selection Ceremony begins today. I will obtain my own magic, my own form of strength." That thought finally got Min to get up. He looked over to his alarm clock one last time during a stretch, checking the time. "7:15, that's enough time."
After preparing some breakfast he could bring with himself, that being a sandwich, he left the apartment complex and headed to the nearby bus station. Min's half-closed eyes darted around the street as he walked through it – people of similar age to Min were outside, all heading to varying bus stops that'd take them to one place: the Ceremony.
Once he was on the bus, he leaned against the window and looked out, seeing a massive structure that surrounded the entire city. A wall separated those inside the city from something outside. Creatures dubbed as Reapers have been appearing for several centuries now. They're humans, driven mad and transformed by the lack of magic in their body. "Not all cities are walled off," Min thought to himself as he imagined the wasteland beyond the city's borders. "That wall hasn't provided much protection but it's better than being left out in the open." Parts of the planet are controlled entirely by Reapers, even though most of the time they're disorganised nomads. This city existed dangerously close to one of those "regions", and Min lived quite close to the grey wall. Thanks to that, rent didn't cost much.
After a short wait at the bus station, the heavy, rusty vehicle arrived and allowed everyone to board it. Its destination? The headquarters of Aegis, a militaristic company designed for protection against Reapers and other threats. The central building of Aegis was tasked with handling the Ceremony everyone was headed to. Min however, didn't just want to participate in the Ceremony, he wished to work in Aegis as a Guardian, a protector. And he desired to find out who he truly is.
Just a few stops before the destination would be reached, something went wrong. The bus stopped at a red light, and like a missile, something rammed into its side and toppled it over. The metal was dented heavily, glass was shattered and everyone fell from their seats, Min included.
"...what?" He asked himself after recovering from the shock. He looked up, seeing the damaged portion of the vehicle. "Holes in the metal... A Reaper?"
Unlike Min, who stood up and began looking for the threat, almost everyone else had frantically escaped the vehicle, only those who were injured or unconscious stayed behind. A lady in a red dress laid amidst the broken glass in the back of the bus, bleeding from her head. "Dammit, we're close to Aegis so they should come quickly, but how–." The thought was cut short as heavy stomping echoed from above. A creature slid inside the bus through a broken window, finally revealing its grotesque self. "...how did you appear so quickly, without anyone noticing?" Min asked while raising his fists at the creature. This didn't feel right. They're right by the headquarters of Aegis and nobody saw this thing's approach? It felt strange, but there wasn't any time for wasteful thinking. Min was facing a mutated beast whose pinky and index finger were transformed into large, sharp claws made of bone. It was unnaturally tall despite heavily resembling a human, its eyes were completely black and its jaw was riddled with sharp teeth. "I'll have to somehow protect everyone before Aegis arrives– but can I even hold it back?" The high-strung atmosphere between Min and the beast felt unbearable. Right as Min was about to initiate the imminent battle however, the beast glanced at the woman in red in the back of the bus. It let out a grunt and drew its spiked arm back, charging at Min, who stood in its way. Right as the beast's arm was about to impale Min, he parried the attack and turned it into a one-armed shoulder throw, slamming the heavy beast's body into the shards of glass and metal. "Not even a cut, I can't damage this thing." While on its back, the beast quickly got a hold of Min's arm and jerked it forward, throwing the silver-haired man head-first into a seat. The beast quickly stood back up, meanwhile Min was dazed from the impact.
"Revenge… I will get revenge on her…" The beast spoke slowly and with clear difficulty, its mangled jaw must've been a nightmare to speak with. It focused on the woman in red, but Min still tried to stand in its way. He rolled off the seat he was thrown into and stood back up, his fists raised, but he clearly had some difficulty focusing on the beast.
Just in time, help arrived and an electrified net was thrown over the beast, followed by several gunshots into its head and chest to put it down. Finally, Aegis arrived.
"Yo." A woman's cheery voice called out to Min, who was still picking himself back up from the impact. "Thanks for keeping that thing busy," the woman said with a grin. "Are ya injured anywhere?" Min rubbed his forehead and got a good look at the person greeting him. A tall woman clearly affiliated with Aegis stood before him, though she didn't wear a uniform. Her eyes were covered by sunglasses, she had marine blue hair reaching down to her waist, a white shirt that was unbuttoned around the chest to reveal a dark blue undershirt, she wore stockings, white shorts and black shoes. Whoever she was, Min felt intimidated just from standing this close to her, in spite of her friendly introduction. She was incredibly strong, such could be told just from a glance.
"Hm? Oh. No, I'm not hurt. I hit my head, but it's nothing severe."
"Great! Anyway, given your age, I'm guessing you're here for the Ceremony?"
"Mhm. I didn't expect to start my morning like this, though."
The woman giggled at the response. "I don't think anyone expected that. What you did was quite heroic, though. I appreciate that, everyone here would've probably died if you hadn't stalled it. Good on ya." Still keeping up the light grin, the black-haired woman awkwardly pet Min's head like he's a child.
"You say that as if I hadn't nearly died alongside everyone else." Strange. Despite saying that, Min didn't seem to be suffering psychologically from that encounter.
"Still, you did well. Don't be so hard on yourself." The woman wielded a long, sheathed katana and lightly hit Min on the head with it. "Wanna skip the line? I'll shorten the wait at the Ceremony for ya."
"You don't have to do that–."
"I don't, but you deserve it. Now, c'mon and stop whining."
"Yeah, yeah…" Min made his way out of the toppled-over bus, which was as simple as climbing a few seats and then jumping out of a shattered window. The woman followed along shortly after, she had business with the Ceremony as well.
The final steps up a short staircase were taken, and only a few minutes after leaving the crashed bus, Min arrived at the headquarters of Aegis. The exterior of the building was white, blue and gold, with a grey fence lining the area. Everything was in pristine condition, guards armed with weapons were stationed around the complex and a gatehouse welcomed him. After entering his name, birthdate and showing an ID, he was allowed inside and shown a waiting room. "She really did tell those people to let me in early, huh…" He thought while looking down at a piece of printed paper that showed the number 508. "It was supposed to be 1204 originally. Won't she get in trouble for this?"
After a short wait, a number showed up on a digital screen that hung from the ceiling – 401. That meant 106 other people would be given their powers before Min. He grabbed a leaflet that listed all the important information about the Ceremony and opened it. He familiarised himself with these things earlier, but how else was he supposed to pass the time? "The Selection Ceremony exists to reduce the number of Reapers," he read to himself. "Young candidates are given magic to utilise in their everyday life. The most suitable ages range from 13-19 as the body is still in development and can quickly get used to the presence of magic. It is impossible to predict the power one will acquire. Most of the time only one is acquired, on rare occasions a single person will receive two powers. Through extensive research, Aegis has proven that only a single copy of a power can exist – it is impossible for two people to have the same magic." The rest of the leaflet was an advertisement for fighting against the Reapers by joining Aegis, and once Min read up to that point, he closed it and set the leaflet aside. He leaned back in the cushioned chair provided to him, his eyes closing slowly. "I want to gain power. I want to be powerful, so I can find out who I was in the past. Where I came from. I know things I don't remember being taught, such as fighting. It's like a reflex, and I want to know why." Aegis could be the best place for Min's goal – a highly respected company with authority over the city, surely it can have at least some clues.
Some time later, despite it not being Min's turn yet, he was called forth to leave the room. The exit opened automatically, and noise flooded in from the area beyond the isolated waiting room. There were roughly 100 people located in a large room akin to a hall, everything was gloriously lit up and seemed very extravagant, there was even food served to the participants. "I recognise only one person here," Min thought after taking a short look around the hall. The person in question stood out like a sore thumb, wearing an unbuttoned black shirt with various engravings in it, black trousers and heavy boots. Coupled with the man's height and jet-black, spiky hair, he looked wild, vicious, and constantly bordered on wanting to start a fight. "I've seen him in the media a few times, nothing good can come from this."
In the room's middle was a small fountain through which a very dark-red, almost black liquid flowed. A familiar voice came through some speakers, instructing the people present.
"Yo! This is your soon-to-be instructor speaking! We called in some people prematurely because there's more participants than we expected. Anyhow– my name's Asuma Kakure, though you can call me whatever ya want. I'm tasked with overseeing this ceremony. Please, everyone, form an orderly que and line up before the fountain. Those who drink from it shall obtain their powers, simple as that." Naturally, people were excited and hurried, only Min stayed back and watched as everyone formed a chaotic queue in a matter of moments. That slow reaction landed him the penultimate spot in the line, the only person behind him being a tall, rich-looking girl who smelled after expensive perfume, which was a strange contrast given her militaristic uniform.
The participants of the ceremony were not permitted to share what powers they received, first that'd be reported to Aegis to be archived. Just from the varying facial expressions however, Min could tell the level of satisfaction some felt. The gangster in particular was only a few spots ahead of Min, and the grin on his face when he received his ability… It felt scary and foreboding. In a sense, Min wanted people like that gangster to not get any magic. Why make those who cause chaos even more powerful? At the same time however, letting people like this turn into Reapers could end up being even worse. There wasn't any "good decision" in cases like these.
Before he knew it, Min stood before the fountain. His heart pounded. He was nervous. What'll he acquire? Nobody knew, but it'd have to be good. Good enough and powerful enough to give Min the means to find out more about himself. He knelt and cupped some of the dark liquid.
He drank it, and his brain was suddenly flooded with information about the powers he received.