The first cog starts to move. A lone girl enters a game to change destiny along with a powerful friend. On a dream they met, on a dream they fought. But now finally they have a chance to be together in reality.
It all happens terribly fast. The screaming, the screeching, the horns, the lights. Terribly and cruelly fast. But before resuming that, we need to travel back in time, to a few hours earlier, to a time where she had less things on her mind.
The girl wakes up with a headache. She saw something huge on her dream, something important. But the moment she opened her eyes, all of it vanished. She wishes that aching would also disappear, but it seems that it came to stay. Drowsy, she gets out of bed and looks at herself in the mirror. Bed hair, only now she notices she buttoned her pajamas incorrectly, some drool over her cheek. 'Ah, I can see why despite being cute, I'm not popular...' she laughs at her own misery and leaves her bedroom. She hear noises on the kitchen, so she assumes her mother is home. Either that or there is a robbery going on, as the two are the only ones who live on that house.
She walks in, yawning, scratching her eyes which are suddenly attacked by the bright light. Her mother is on her suit, a few minutes away from leaving to work. She's toasting a slice of bread on a frying pan. 'Aah, what a sight. Is it embarassing to not have a toaster? It might not be, it's probably just me,' she thinks.
“Hm? Why are you up so early?” Her mother asks. When she heard footsteps, her first thought was 'Is this gonna be it? Some robber is gonna kill me while I toast bread? Or perhaps he'll feel pity over me not having even a toaster and let's me live out of this,' which makes it very clear that they are mother and daughter.
“I had some dream... I think...”
“A bad one, I assume.”
“Well, at least you'll get to school early,” her mother shrugs.
“...Do I really have to...?”
“Did you forget our promise? One week of not skipping once and I'll take you to that offline meeting.”
“I could just... run away from home and go by myself...” She snickers, feeling very smug. Her mother doesn't reply, only turns to her and raises an eyebrow. That alone is enough to make her return to reality. “Okay, I'll go, no problem...”
“Ah, but I still worry about leaving my daughter with a bunch of predators, maybe it's better if I let you skip,” her mother winks, giggling.
“Mom,” she points forward.
“Hm?” she looks around, but can't see what she should be looking at.
“Mom, your toast. It's burning.”
Bummed, she sits by the table, on the chair that's in front of her daughter. The two live alone, but they have two more seats, in case they get any visits. They never do, but better safe than sorry. She looks at the carbonized bread and questions if it truly isn't eatable anymore. She is about to give it a bite, but is stopped by her daughter's judgemental gaze.
“Well, I guess I'll buy something on the way to work.”
“Is there no time to make another toast?”
“I'm not in the mood anymore,” she pouts. 'What an adult,' the girl thinks. The mother spends a few moments deep in thought, then dramatically asks. “...Should we get a toaster?”
Her mother goes grab her case, comes back to give her a hug and kiss, and finally leaves. That fun conversation let her forget it for a while, but now that she's alone, the headache is back at full power. 'Ugh, I already don't like school, going like this is... but for the sake of my online friend, I must...'
She takes a long shower. 'Is it hot water or cold water that is good for headaches? Was that even real, I read it online once but there was no source...' she thinks about that for so long she ends up losing notion of time. At least she woke up early, otherwise she'd be late. And there'd be no toast for her to take with her.
Each step she takes outside makes her want to take the next less. The more she walks, slower she goes. She's not even doing it consciously, it's similar to attempting to put two magnets of the same polarity close to each other. The thought of reaching school is repulsive to her. She's already at a distance where she sees her class and schoolmates, but nobody would call for her. Nobody would approach her and strike conversation. She also won't bump onto a transfer student. As for why, that's obviously because...
Screaming. Screeching. She finds time to look to her right. An out-of-control car coming straight towards her. 'Was the light red and I didn't notice? What is happening?' Time moves slowly. She can't see the person on the wheel. She can see many people with the same uniform as her screaming, looking at her. Their words don't reach, but she knows they're directed towards her.
Her head finally stops aching though. She feels very light. She feels like something just got clear to her, now that the pain is gone. She can see the car coming towards her, but she doesn't worry anymore. She isn't afraid. She knows what to do.
“Gate open! Release!” Like it was a natural sentence, she yells it, moments before being hit.
She's blinded by a red radiance. A stream of light envelops her and takes her away. But she's the only one aware of it, for everyone else, for everyone but the driver, time has stopped. Within that stream, she recovers her sight. Not that there's much to see, but at least she escapes the white void she was into.
“Are you awake?” A thunderous voice resounds across space. She turns around, but there's no one behind her. There's no one anywhere.
“Who... is there?” She ignores the question. The questioner didn't expect her to respond, it was merely what it thought it could say in order to reveal its presence.
“You've seen me before. Earlier today. Remember,” once again, she feels something within her head being unlocked. She finally recalls what she dreamed.
“Drag... Magna, you said was your name, right?” Her head doesn't ache at all. It's all clear as day, all her memories.
“I'm glad you remembered. Do you remember the rest?”
“The part that you needed me to... protect the world?” 'Was it protect or save?' She doesn't remember it as well as she thought she did.
“Exactly. You didn't answer me before. Will you be my partner, my manifestation in this world?”
“...You just saved me, didn't you? I don't know how, but I feel that you have,” she feels gratitude. Before even her mind can tell why, her heart feels it.
“Because I need you. And because your enemy has already appeared.”
“W-what?” Both things it said hit her as odd, as hard to take.”
“They must have felt that I already dwelled within you and ordered to strike before you could awaken... the cowards.”
“Then that means...”
“They'll keep targetting until you lose your life. But if you use my power, then you can get rid of them.”
“Please,” she feels warmth coming from the light around her. 'Is this light... the person I'm talking to?'
“I'll do it,” she nods.
The light disappears. She stands on a vast wasteland. The land is dry, there's nearly no vegetation, just vestigial bushes and dead trees. Even the wind blowing is dry. Just standing there makes her uncomfortable, not only because it's an unknown place, but the atmosphere is heavy. Kilometers away from her, she can see the silhoutte of a person. They're looking at her direction too, but she can't see them well. But what truly calls her attention is the bull by the person's side. It is very large, larger than any bull she ever saw. It is green-colored, wears a blue armor, golden spiky rings on its legs, right above the hooves. 'Its horns might be as long as bus... I'm scared...' the girl wants to run away. She takes a step back, but something stands behind her, she hits her back on it.
A dragon. Even taller than the bull. A golden armor, a flaming ruby on its chest. Wings, six of them, that shine a crimson red, translucent, as if they are made of gems. Some sort of liquid seems to run through its entire armor, some sort of magma. Despite all the flames and lava, it doesn't emit heat. It doesn't scare her. It feels familiar.
“I... saw you on my dream...”
“Yes, it's me,” the same thunderous voice. But this time it clearly comes from the dragon's mouth.
“Drag-Magna... So that's how you look like.”
“I couldn't appear until you accepted me. Thanks to you, I can be here like this...” He looks at her with warm eyes, eyes which are happy to see her.
“I didn't have a chance to ask before.”
“My name is Sirin! Nice to meet you, Dragna!” She offers him her hand, but soon notices his hands are too large and also have magma on them. Embarassed, she puts her hand back on her pocket.
“Nice to meet you, Sirin. Are you not wondering about what this place is?”
“Ah, I forgot about that! Yes, I'm very scared!” 'You seem more excited than scared from my point-of-view, but who am I to say,' internally, Dragna smiles.
“This place is a representation of your enemy's heart. The dried land, the dying life... It truly shows what an empty person he is.”
“He... you mean, that person over there? By the bull?”
“Yes. He is the one that tried killing you. And that 'bull' is actually a dragon too. Battle Dragon Elginius...” He can see all the way over there without any issue, he could even count the freckles on the driver's face if he wanted.
“Is it tough?” 'It's a tough-sounding name. Probably a very experienced dragon,' she tries to take another look at it, but it's really nothing but a bull for her.
“Hahaha! Nothing compared to me. They certainly looked down on you, if that's the level of what they sent after you,” she feels she might go deaf if he laughs for too long. His laughter is like a thunderstorm.
“We are strong. Give me your order, and I'll end this in an instant,” he spreads his wings. 'He seems eager. I must not disappoint. An order...? I guess it's simple.'
“Drag-Magna, attack!” She points to the bull.
The wind pressure from his taking flight knocks her down, but she is back up right away. When he is all the way up in the sky, he looks like a star. A red star. The red star soon shoots itself down, landing straight in front of the bull. The impact causes a screen of dust to come up, she can't see anything else.
He chops the bulls horns off with a simultaneous strike with both hands and then kicks it. That much mass shouldn't move the way it did. Nobody would think a monster large like that would react in such a way when hit by a dragon that is so much thinner than it. But Magna's kick sends it flying upwards. Before landing on its back, the bull vanishes. It was defeated just like that. Magna looks down to the man that is besides the bull.
Terror. The man's legs stopped working, he can only scream in terror. He doesn't even manage to say 'stay away from me!' or anything of the sort, only a long wailing. Magna does nothing. An enemy with a stronger spirit would need more to be defeated, but as it seems his life has already escaped from him, there's no need to further do anything.
And just like that, on the blink of an eye, that alternative space disappears. She's back to the real world. A world she doesn't like that much, but that still feels better than that dried wasteland. The car has stopped milimeters away from her. People around stare in complete disbelief. 'Who knows how many miles per hour it was going at, and yet... it stopped?'
A true miracle has just happened in front of their eyes, something physics can't explain. Sirin alone can feel it. The one who held the car, the one who stopped it at the last moment was Magna. The driver has passed out, he's knocked over the airbags. People would be confused as to why the airbags have opened if the car didn't crash, but that's only one among the many weird ocurrences surrounding that car.
Upon hearing Magna's voice telling her to make haste before more of them appear, Sirin runs away. Oddly, she runs towards school. As opposed to how sluggishly she walked before, now she runs. A smile on her face. 'We are strong!!' she keeps repeating it inside her mind. As they're now connected, he can hear her repeat it over and over, which makes Magna chuckle.
“Isn't it dangerous for me to be here? What if they bomb the school?” She asks Magna during class. For her it's just a thought, so they can talk as much as they want and nobody will notice.
“Pay attention to class, I'll answer your questions later,” he's trying to be attentive, but she takes it as rude.
“What a meanie!” is what she says, but pays heed to his advice.
Once the first bell rings, she feels as a prisoner who was one day away from death sentence and finally was released because it was discovered they weren't the true culprit. She wants to run around all school, just to vent some of the energy building up inside her. But that'd be embarassing, so she obviously won't do it.
“So, can you answer now?” She pretends to be mad at Magna.
“They're not a terrorist organization controlling the system from behind the curtains, they can't afford to bomb a school and just know they're not getting tracked.”
“Hm. What are they then?”
“They're... a cult.”
“A cult? Huh, go on,” she somewhat has an idea of what this is developing into just from hearing the enemy is a cult. 'I might get to kill God,' she grins.
“If they summon their Goddess, it will be too late to stop them already. We must destroy their plans before they get that far.”
“And how do we do that?”
“I'm afraid I'm not that well-informed. I know of their plan, or rather, their objective, but their method is beyond me,” he looks away, ashamed.
“Don't worry, if they keep coming after me, I'm sure we'll find out eventually! We can, like, have you hold them by their necks and go like 'start talking,' that is sure to work!” She laughs, glad to be smart as she is. Which isn't much, but from where she stands, it's a lot.
“I have a cunning ally, I'm happy,” he plays along with her. Just as their mood was getting friendly, the speakers are turned on.
“Student Sirin Almas, from Class 103, could you come to the Principal's Office? I repeat, Student-” Cold sweat runs through her face. Even her armpits start getting sweaty, just from hearing her name on the school's speakers.
“What did I do?!” She panics.
“It'll be fine, it'll be fine,” Magna spiritually pats her back while she walks towards the office.
She walks in awkwardly, the vice-principal who happened to be there tells her to relax and wait for a moment. 'Even if you tell me to relax...' she can't stop tapping her feet, at times biting her nails too. After long five minutes of mental torture, the principal opens a door and tells her to come in.
“It got to my ears that you were in a car accident?” He asks, politely, calmly. He's worked on this enough time to know it's scary for any student to be called like this.
“N-n-no! Just...” She looks around, trying to calm down. 'I can't say a dragon stopped the car, what do I do?'
“I can see it didn't hit you hard. I heard even that it stopped right before hitting you, but I thought that could have been an impression from those watching. I'll ask, are you fine?”
“Also... you have been absent for some days on and off, is there something going on?”
“S-something?” Magna feels worried for her, she can't even make a simple sentence without stuttering. 'She talked perfectly well with me, though...'
“What I mean is, are you being bullied?” He asks her with a serious expression. As much as he'd like to believe in his students, it's something that happens among teens, he can't deny or ignore it.
“N-no... everyone is nice... to me...” She looks down. It isn't a lie. Nobody goes out of their way to be mean to her. She just fails to connect with her classmates.
“Okay. If anything ever happens, feel free to come and talk to me.”
He writes her a card to show the teacher, to prove she was late because she had to talk to him, and let her go. She walks back to her classroom with a gloomy expression. There isn't anyone else on the corridors, it's a few minutes into the second period already. She's embarassed to walk in during class when it already has started, everyone will look at her when she opens the door. But if she skips class, her mother might find out and not take her to the offline meeting.
“What is it?”
“Was that old man hitting on me?”
“Sirin, don't be stupid.”
“...What a meanie. Haha”
“Pfft,” the two laugh. Even if only within her mental landscape, their communication is certainly happening. She might even say it's just like talking to someone online, they're not exactly there, but their words are.