Gen still has a hard time taking everything in. Was it really the year 5739? The mentalist just couldn’t wrap his head around it. On top of it all, those statues. So many statues.
They were people, turned to stone.
He realized that something terrible has happened and it affected every human being on earth.
He was affected too, considering the position he woke up from. The last thing he remembered was that he had just finished his act. Hearing the cheers and applause from a delighted audience, that's when everything went dark.
And the next thing he knew was a bright light, and faced an open ocean.
He wondered if this was a prank, he’s seen a lot of celebrity prank shows, to be a victim of that disgusted him. He was a mentalist, being subjected to a prank like this defies his very image. He grumbled at the thought of it as he stood up from his position.
That is until he heard a deep commanding voice from the background.
“Welcome to the year 5739 AD”
He felt cold sweat drip off his currently naked body. He turned to recognize the man who broke him out of the dark stone prison. It was Shishio Tsukasa… the strongest primate high schooler.
He heard him say something about making a choice. That him and those statues behind him were selectively chosen for his new world…
Gen looked up and just could not believe what he saw...
He was then given some clothes to wear, made by their resident tailor named Yuzuriha. He didn’t know who she was, but was grateful for her.
It was… clothes he supposes. It was a tunic of sorts that reached up to his knees. Made of animal skin. He wanted to ask for a T-Shirt and Jeans. Then again… if it really was year 5739, and everyone was petrified…
He nearly stumbled on a statue lying around. He gained back his footing and turned to see what tripped him. His eyes widened to see that it was his manager.
Memories of the man flooded his head. When he first started, he would try to use him, booking his shows back to back, expecting him to nearly give up his own education, family life, and his private life for his acts. He tried to milk so much money from him, Gen was sure it was borderline illegal. But eventually, he found a weakness to the man and he became an easy target for Gen’s manipulation. Sometimes he used him as a guinea pig for any new acts he had thought of. He nearly had him prance around the streets naked once as a form of revenge.
But if it wasn’t for him, he wouldn’t have become this popular and famous…
He wouldn’t have had the money to…
Tsukasa shattered the manager’s head beneath his feet.
Gen nearly jumped back at the sudden destruction in front of him.
“I apologize for startling you.” Tsukasa spoke up, “I remember this man once, he was your manager yes?”
Gen could only nod.
“He tried to charm me to having you and I do more shows together, he treated us as if were freaks in a carnival. I simply cannot stand adults like that…”
It didn’t take a mentalist to know that every word he spoke dripped of hatred and loathing. Gen looked at the remains of the destroyed statue, and felt his stomach churn.
He hated his manager yes, but…
For someone to just mercilessly destroy that…
They had arrived at the Empire of Might as Tsukasa had called it. Gen could only look at it with awe as he saw various forms of treehouses and caves formed from the mountain. But most of all, he saw that almost every man and even women around him were muscular and looked like they would be able to carry him like he was a feather.
Then Gen met the said tailor, Yuzuriha, and the big oaf that he was pretty sure was her boyfriend, Taiju.
They were friendly and chipper. Gen was surprised to see this. After all it's been about 4000 years and everything around them is gone. For them to act this way.
Well… he wouldn't verbalize it without any sort of evidence. But to him it seemed to be just an act.
He wondered why.
Gen thanked her for the clothes. But wonders if he could ask her for something more… sophisticated. Something that suits his style.
Tsukasa agreed, he saw Gen as a valuable member of the Empire, but he also needed him for a mission.
Yuzuriha agreed to do it without any questions asked.
Gen missed paper and pencil or any kind of writing instruments. But it seemed that the girl understood his directions nonetheless.
Now, he’s curious as to why they're acting this way.
While they waited for his new outfit, Tsukasa then began explaining to him his goals. Goals of creating a new and better world without the adults who tainted it. Gen listened to him intently, and felt himself get pulled into Tsukasa’s ideals. He knew what he meant and fully understood his words and reasonings. After all, he made a living using and exploiting the naivete and idiocy of the adults that ruled the earth. He knew and understood the pain and suffering Tsukasa has mentioned. He had experienced it himself as young as he was. And yet the scene of his manager being crushed underneath Tsukasa’s feet kept playing over and over his head….
Sometimes Gen wondered if that's what kept him from being swayed by Tsukasa's words…
But at this moment he was afraid. Very afraid for his life. He was reborn into this "Stone World" and was spared from a fate worse than death. To even show any resistance to Tsukasa or any of his people would equal his untimely demise.
So he as it was many years ago, put on his mask and showed his agreement to the man's ideals and goals. Even showed support and gave suggestions on who to pick and revive. The mentalist was a master of weaving words into the most believable of sentences, right down to the inflection of his syllables.
Tsukasa was pleased. And that was good enough for him.
That night, Gen just could not sleep. He tossed and turned endlessly as he made the effort to close his eyes and forced his body to sleep. He thought of everything he could remember on how to go to sleep, but that failed him too.
It was strange to him. He remembered during his performance that he was so exhausted that he could collapse the moment he let his body relax. Yet when Tsukasa broke him out of the stone prison that he felt so energized that he could run a marathon and not feel winded. And he certainly still feels that way. He wonders if being asleep for so long had made him catch up to his lost sleep. All nineteen years worth of it.
Well, he did the math and technically he is now 3739 years old…
If there was any kind of sleepiness in him at that moment, Gen had completely lost it.
3720 years… is a really, really long time…
Yuzuriha finished his new outfit the next day, he was very grateful for her. Especially after hearing the fact that she spent all night with it. Gen felt a bit bad for her, until he heard her voice crack just a little…
Gen did not have supersonic hearing, but as a mentalist, he taught himself to pay attention to people’s subtle noises. He wondered if Yuzuriha was lying to him.
He tried the new outfit on, and it fits him just right. He was definitely impressed with her.
Later, Tsukasa began explaining to him about a certain “miracle fluid” that had broken him out of the petrified state. And that it was located in a special cave. Which was also dubbed, Cave of Miracles.
A miracle fluid that undid the petrification? He couldn't believe that it was even possible. That peaked his interest, not that he would show it.
As Tsukasa brought him to a cave and along a few other muscular men with him. It seemed that he wanted to show respect to nature's bounty and sorts. It was something that lost his interest, and it fell into deaf ears. Thanks to that distraction though, Gen had tripped over a giant root, but he quickly gained footing and held himself against a tree near the cave. He brushed his fingers against a tree without realizing it.
He felt something odd.
He knew tree bark was rough and could hurt depending on the tree, but even so, this sensation felt weird to him. To him it was like… like… Something was engraved into the tree.
He moved his hand away and saw a carving into the tree he held on.
“Fifty-seven, thirty-eight… Four, One…” Gen read the engraving. “5738, 4, 1…”
It was like everything he had known right now had changed.
His thoughts came back to when Tsukasa told him the current year. He wondered so many things that day, that even today he was still trying to take it all in. He wondered how… how would Tsukasa be able to determine the current year. From what he saw of the strongest primate high schooler, he was more than just a muscleheaded idiot. He had strength, he had skill, he had smarts.
But even so that did not give him a proper answer as to how and why he knew the current date.
Does Tsukasa even know this engraving?!
Was it even really the year 5739?
But this engraving shows it. 5738… It’s been a year since the engraving was written in the tree. April 1st… How did the writer knew of the exact date even…
“5738… April 1st…” Gen repeated himself, “H-How…. How did… How could someone…?”
“No…” Gen gathered his thoughts, “Someone… someone must have carved this after breaking out… They had to. But… How would… would they know the exact date…”
“Is it even possible…?!”
He read again the crude kanji and the numbers written on the tree. It was clearly there. It wasn't some sort of hallucination… It was actually written there…
The mentalist's heart swelled with hope.
“This… this is…” Gen shuddered in excitement at the realization of someone like that ever existed, and broke out first, and to do this, “This is too antastic-fay! Whoever did this… Must be…”
Then his thoughts were interrupted by Tsukasa calling him to the cave.
Gen quickly dashed inside. To see Tsukasa standing in front of a pile of… bat guano. Gen’s nose scrunched up at the awful smell and saw yellow liquid dripping down from the cave’s ceiling, to a clay bowl.
He quickly deduced it as a so called “miracle fluid” that Tsukasa had mentioned. But when he read Tsukasa’s expression and listened to his voice, he felt there was more… than just that fluid…
That night, he couldn’t stop thinking about that engraving.
5738 A.D. April 1.
He wondered who could even do that. In that darkness. For almost 4000 years, calculated the year, month and date. The exact date?! He wondered why would the person even bother to calculate. When normally you'd think of surviving first.
He thought of possibilities. He knew you can tell how old a tree is by cutting it and counting the number of rings… But that would have been a gigantic tree. He considered the number of natural disasters that could have destroyed it way before the next millenia… So he scratched out that idea. He thought maybe some sort of machine that could tell the time had survived, but he hasn’t seen a sign of any kind of civilization, let alone a machine that could tell the time. His thoughts wandered of any kind of sci-fi theory he’s seen. But just like before, he saw nothing…
Nothing from the year 2019.
Gen curled up onto his sheets. It has hit him again, the realization that there was nothing left from the year he knew. No buildings, no cars… no cola even…
He felt the sudden urge for a bottle.
As he realized he couldn’t sleep once again, he stepped outside of his living quarters and saw the stars in the sky. It was numerous, more than he could ever count.
That's when he thought of something… a completely ar-fetched-fay possibility...
Yes, there was no machine or anything that could tell the time, but the fact remained that time still moved forward, no matter what…
It was something insane. Something that no human being should be able to do, but it was possible…
He had heard rumours of a kid who counted the exact seconds within a month, and he had counted it exactly.
“To count the passing seconds…” Gen thought to himself, “To do that during all that time in the darkness…”
Many feelings he suddenly felt for this mystery counter. Excitement, pity, delight, fear... In order to do that, he would have had to remain conscious all that time… Gen eventually felt nothing and his mind went completely blank after a while. When Tsukasa revived him, he thought everything before was just a dream… a long 3720 year dream…
Gen gritted his teeth, he was nervous, he was scared, he was so lost in this new world, but to even think that there was a person like that, a human being that could do such a thing...
He had to find them… he had to find the person who could have done this feat… He had to know. He had to know this person. He had to pick him apart and understand his own way of thinking. He had to analyze everything about him. He had to know how and why would he do such a ridiculous yet logical thing.
He hadn't felt this eager in knowing a person he hasn't even met.
The rest of that night spent thinking about this person. He smiled at the thought of someone else being this unique.
It was like… to him it was like getting excited over a book he had heard only good reviews about.
Yes, he was skeptical, but the thought of someone like this.
It got him excited.
The next day, the third day, Tsukasa called for him after his meal.
He was called to be given a mission…
“Those dusty old fossils who used to be in power…” Tsukasa began as he led Gen to a path in the forest, it was a bit further from the Empire, “Are even less necessary in this natural world of stone…”
Gen didn’t hear a hint of hesitation from those words. In fact to him Tsukasa spoke of his ideals in such great confidence and conviction, that the mentalist felt a bit swayed by those. Especially when he said…
“But I see a massive amount of potential in you… Gen.”
Gen felt himself snap out of that trance. He knew Tsukasa had a lot of natural charisma, but even he as a master of minds, felt like he was grabbed instantly and quickly, as if he got there by himself. He cursed himself mentally, as he remembered how Tsukasa crushed the statue of his manager, again. And all of the other pieces of statues he has seen scattered everywhere, crushed with his bare hands or by his men.
“There’s something I need you for…” Gen’s attention was grabbed again as Tsukasa cleared some branches to reveal a treehouse, made by… concrete? He wondered. “And your skills as a mentalist will be invaluable…”
Gen saw on the side a few empty jars, crude makeshift spears… he was surprised that even the ladder that leads up to the treehouse was still sturdy. To him it looked like it was all abandoned.
But that wasn't where they went, rather, Tsukasa led him to a hut near the tree house. It had a worn out sign that said, “Laboratory”.
Tsukasa led him inside and the mentalist saw broken clay pots everywhere. He watched his step, as he moved in closer to see more and more broken pieces scattered everywhere. To him it was an obvious sign that whoever lived here scrambled to take everything and left. To the untrained eye that is.
Gen saw this was too intentional. It was too much of a mess for him. He thought maybe a scuffle, but that would have caused those shelves to fall apart. To him, it is as if the previous occupants just intentionally took those jars and smashed them.
“Follow them for me.” Tsukasa gave him his mission, as it also confirms Gen's deductions. “And get inside of their minds… Perhaps I'm being overly cautious, but I want you to track down this man Senku and tell me if he’s dead or hiding out somewhere…'
That is the name of the person he was tasked to look for.
‘Senku…’ Gen thought to himself. He tried to think of anyone he knew by that name, none came to mind.
So he asked, “Who is Senku?”
“He, was the first of us to revive…” Tsukasa replied.
‘First? Don’t tell me…’
“He used his knowledge of science to create a formula to undo the petrification.” he continued as Gen took in this invaluable information, “That’s how he revived me…”
Gen couldn’t hide his surprise anymore.
‘This Senku person… revived Tsukasa? He created a formula to undo the petrification?’ The pieces started to fall into place...
“This man…” Tsukasa continued as Gen felt the man’s voice grew bitter, “His only desire is to revive everyone, no matter who they were…”
‘What? He… what? He wants to revive… everyone…?!'
“He’ll bring back the same people who ruined our world.... And they’ll make weapons…” Gen felt every word laced with pure hatred, as he still tried to take in everything.
“He was the most intelligent man alive, and that’s why I killed him myself…”
He saw Tsukasa’s eyes narrowed as he finished his sentence.
'He killed him…' Gen held back even his own expressions, 'He killed this Senku…'
When he first met Tsukasa in this new world, he was kind, considerate, gentle to everyone in the Empire and even to the animals. He would ensure that every part of every animal killed was put to use, even the organs. For Gen to hear him say that. For Tsukasa to kill another human being… he got even more scared of him.
Gen started to doubt himself. He wondered if there really was someone who could take down the Strongest Primate High Schooler. To kill the "smartest" man alive, as he called this Senku.
But even so, the fact that Tsukasa had to send him, a mentalist… to make sure that Senku is alive.
There was no doubt. Senku is alive.
He finally understood what he had to do.
Gen enjoyed it. He enjoyed experimenting and toying with the human mind and the limitless possibilities of the human psyche. He mostly used it for his own benefit and gain, but that's what the world, the previous world, taught him. To him adults were easy picking, even more so than teenagers and children. He knew as one grows older, the ideals and beliefs, and biases a person has learned will stick longer and thus harder to change or remove. Gen knew of this and exploited it to his heart's content. So it was child's play for him to figure out what had occured in this laboratory.
He asked Tsukasa if he could stay a bit more to inspect the area. The man let him, and asked if he knew the way back.
Gen knew the way back.
When he realized that he was finally alone, he quickly observed the area. He looked at the pieces of the broken jars, the stains on the floor and at the walls, he saw the various broken tools nearby. He then rushed into the tree house and saw the same mess as the lab. Gen saw this as a laughable way to make it look like they got scared and escaped.
Smartest man alive? More like the world's worst crook if he had ever seen one.
He remembered Tsukasa’s expressions, the hatred in his words and the shakiness of it. That was also obvious. Tsukasa was scared. Very scared. He only knew of Tsukasa as a fearless man who would stare down other fighters bigger and stronger than he was, and took them down easily. For someone to induce such paranoia and fear in him...
He has to know. He has to know who this Senku person is.
He just has to!
After gathering what he can from the area, he went back to the Empire. He gave Tsukasa what he could deduce from it, and said that he and his companions that he too figured this out from the tracks, that they probably dashed at around southeast to where the Empire was.
Tsukasa was impressed by him. He mentioned that the two companions were Taiju and Yuzuriha.
Gen faked a shock, well to everyone it looked like a real shock. He knew some of the bigger and heavier footsteps belonged to a heavyweight like Taiju, and smaller, lighter footsteps belonged to a woman, Yuzuriha fits that description.
Tsukasa explained to him that they returned after he had subsequently killed Senku and buried him in that direction. Gen was right it was southeast to where they were, Hakone (or it would have used to be considering the lack of any buildings).
He also mentioned that they were Senku's best friends.
That's what stood out the most.
Gen wondered to himself as to why they were kept under surveillance. Now it made sense, Tsukasa was worried that they might turn on him eventually. Even with the power difference, there was an instilled fear that Senku would come back for them and have a scientific weapon that could be used to defeat him.
That's what the mentalist deduced at least.
So Taiju and Yuzuriha were… no are Senku's friends. He filed that important tidbit for later.
Tsukasa had given him information that was more valuable than even he thought.
He was also told of a blond haired, blue eyed girl that seemed to have no knowledge of science and had a very primitive way of thinking. He was (truly this time) shocked to hear that there is a possibility of a village of primitives in that area, and that Senku might have made contact with them if that was the case. So now he had a destination in mind.
Hakone. Around a two day walk from where they were now. Gen didn't particularly like the idea of walking so far and so long, but his desire to meet this Senku was what pushed him further.
Before he left, he asked Yuzuriha for some extra materials and a cutting tool. Part of him wanted to tell them that he was going to see Senku, just to gauge their reactions. He knew if they didn't react to what he expected it, then it was truly confirmed that Senku is alive.
But he held his tongue on that. He didn't want to risk then getting caught on this mess.
Gen himself haven't really decided on if this Senku really is the person he was looking for. If he was the mystery counter. All he knew was that, he was a threat to Tsukasa's ideal world.
The smartest man alive vs the strongest man alive.
A typical brain vs brawn...
His journey was long and painful, especially since he didn’t wear any shoes. Along the way he picked up many nightshade flowers and stored them into various hidden sacks underneath his clothes. He even found many berries and even some small animals he could use to make fake blood bags for his own protection, just in case everything went downhill for him. He knew when to expect the worst. After all, he made a living from expecting the worst in people and exploiting it.
His journey took way longer than two days. He was exhausted, yes, but every step further was one step closer to meeting this Senku. He thought it was worth it.
From what he knew about the positions of his shadows, he had deduced it was around noon. He walked further and further through the forest, and that's when he heard something, music. He heard music playing nearby, he walked closer to the source, and saw it, clear as day. A village, built on two small peninsulas connected by a bridge.
It was the primitive village that Tsukasa told him about. There were primitives living in this area.
And in front of it was…
Well to his surprise. It was a ramen stand.
Gen approached the stand closer then was quickly given a bowl of said ramen by a child wearing a melon mask over her head. He thought it was kind of cute.
He felt a pang of hunger as he took a whiff of the bowl on his hands. It was a crude version of ramen that he knew, but well, he supposed it was still ramen. So he took a bite.
Gen nearly gagged from the taste.
He remained very quiet despite the complete awfulness the dish had. He couldn’t even call this ramen. He heard this was foxtail millet ramen.
Once again he nearly gagged at the thought of foxtail. Foxtail, was what the noodles were made out of. He could feel the grainy texture and the bitter aftertaste of the ramen.
It was ositive-pay awful!
But he heard nothing but praises for this dish. Gen peered to see other people wearing similar clothes like the one the melon girl wore. It looked like they were almost inhaling the ramen. It was a complete consensus that it was the best thing they've ever had.
That's one other thing that hits Gen.
He sighs and misses something way more than ramen right now.
One of them quickly asked for seconds and Gen sighed and realized with the stereotypical glutton man. He supposed that in any kind of era there's always a glutton.
Then his attention quickly changed when he saw the man at the stand itself, putting the ramen together.
His hair stood out the most, literally. Even at the year 2019, he would have easily stood out. He wondered if it's dyed or if he used any hair products. Almost every bit of his hair stood upwards defying gravity. To Gen he looked like a walking giant leek or bok choy. Then when he turned sideways, that's when Gen finally saw his face. He looked sweaty and tired, but his face is full of eagerness and pride, that admittingly seemed contagious. The most noticeable features were the two jagged scars that lined and bent up from his forehead down to this eye line and just below the eyelid. The Mentalist instinctively touched his own scar.
He remembered the explanation Tsukasa gave him. That these scars are just a side effect of the depetrification process.
Gen remembered the day when he saw his reflection at the river and saw the scar running underneath his left eyelid, where it turned to shape his mouth then went straight down his chain and his neck. To him this was a reminder that he was petrified and awakened. Which meant, this man was…
“Are you the man who made this incredible food?” He heard a young girl approach the man with such eagerness and obvious intent of flirting, “the one called, Senku?”
This green haired, prideful, obviously exhausted guy...
Gen tried hard to cover his laughter. This was the man that Tsukasa, the strongest primate high school, was scared about? He looked physically weak. Everything about him was so lanky and skinny. It completed the giant walking vegetable set. Big green leaves and a nimble easily breakable stem.
'This was the man who wrote that date on the tree isn't it?'
He saw a familiar equation written on Senku’s outfit.
'Yeah… definitely the science nerd around here.' Gen chuckled internally, 'Who the hell writes that on their own clothes?!'
When the girl asked Senku what kind of girls he liked Senku simply answered this:
"A kind that would pump a ton of oxygen into my furnace"
Gen groaned internally at that answer
'And he's uninterested at romance. Like he's some sort of a Shonen protagonist…'
Gen managed to breathe and calmed himself in order to prevent getting noticed by the villagers. Senku had made the ramen for them. It was errible-tay. He could barely call this food.
'So this is what Tsukasa was talking about.' Gen just placed everything together in his head, 'This Senku is a scientist, through and through. He made the depetrification formula, he made this ramen, he has that silly equation on his clothes, he even has a furnace! I see why Tsukasa-chan fears him… but…'
Gen had to make sure. He wasn't going to just mingle with him and the primitives.
The blond villager girl whom Gen deduced as quite strong, and possibly the girl that Tsukasa ran into before, even expressed her displeasure at that answer. He wondered if she had some feelings for this Senku person.
The Mentalist admits that Senku is quite handsome. It was a shame to him that he isn't interested in romance. He would have loved to have gotten closer to him. But he supposed that he still has a job to do.
Well to everyone in the Empire of Might it was his job.
It was some assurance.
If this Senku is what he thought he was, that this Senku is the man that striked fear into Tsukasa's heart.
This handsome, nerdy, passionate man…
Might be the counter he was looking for.
Better strike while the iron's hot….
"Ah… this ramen is making me wickedly thirsty…" Gen admitted to himself, out loud for everyone else to hear. "A cola, would be great…"
And with that, Gen had Senku's undivided attention.
The Mentalist then went to work, fully analyzing this Senku to his heart's content.
Little that he knew what would happen later that within the past 3700+ years of his life, would change for the better.
'This is worth it…'