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And he looked to the sky with eyes that cared not for the sufferings and deprivations of a mad world, and once, he even smiled.

In an all but shattered solar system, there was a dull planet. It was just slightly larger than our world, but even though it held the same orbit as ours had it was barren, lifeless. From space, the ground looked smooth and white, but this wasn't the truth.

The ground was indeed white. It was not smooth.

From the surface of the world, any who cared to could see the truth. The world was covered in an ocean of bones. It was miles deep, but even so, every now and then jagged, torn metal could be seen poking out of the surface, the shredded remnants of the orbital elevators used in the final moments before annihilation.

Hatred was the only truth of this world. Hatred had always been the only truth of this world.

'Including you, including me, all men are trash.'

Noble aspirations, hopes and dreams; they could never be fulfilled, in this place, this Golgotha, this endless wasteland of reality.

And yet, even now, there was one last dreamer. One final challenger of the second law.

One fool, who saw the world die and smiled

He was on this barren world, lungs pulling at a perfect vacuum, and quantum mechanics supplying the air they needed. He sat on a throne made of the bones of the fallen, his posture slumped, head propped up by chin, bags under his bright green eyes.

It had been so long.

He was tired.

And yet...

He still thought there might be a chance for transcendence, hidden in the tatters of history.

"Again," he announced to the void. Reaching under his robes, he puled a black medal pendant from his neck, the steel chain holding it in place shattering soundlessly, and held it to the starry, moonless night. He considered it for a moment, holding the alien thing like the hilt to some unfathomable blade.

There was an empty hole in the centre, surrounded by fourteen smaller ones. It had grown tarnished over the years. Cracked and stained with the blood of thousands— a worthless object, a fragment of something that had once been much greater. Much more beautiful.

A thousand million azure marbles, lined row on row.

—but now, only this cracked husk remained.

it didn't matter. It was still usable.

The man stared at the pendant, and nodded fractionally. "Again." he confirmed.

A shining blade of pure, empty light grew from the end of the pendant, pointing towards the amoral stars, and the central hole was filled, filled with the beautiful sapphire orb.

Straining with effort, the man spoke for the last time.

"The Seventeenth. FILE."

And then there was no sword, nor man. The was only a shattered black pendant, and a skeleton surrounded by a fallen halo of green hair.

To live forever.

It's not a human wish. It's not something that any person would hope for. It seems attractive at first— but then you realize that you will leave everyone and everything you know behind— that's the truth of immortality. That's what it means to stand beyond time's reach. It's completely, utterly inhuman.

But there was once a man who made that wish.

And there was once a woman who granted it.

And she was content to grant that wish.

And he was content to receive it.

Amamiya no Yusuri