Kim Eunseo. Commonly just called Kim or Kimmie by her friends. To him, however, she was Ms. Kim.
In his life, William had only ever suffered defeat before three people. Himself, due to his own ignorance, Ms. Kim, who was the only psychologist to ever truly figure him out, and… that time.
Anyway, this was why she was the first one he wanted to find upon his return to Earth. A return that went as one expected.
His new ‘master’ sent him off from whatever void he had been trapped in for the last few months. Yes, months, because the fucker had bent time or some shit. He had been forced to practice every hour of every day, only relaxing whenever he fell asleep from exhaustion.
At first, he wanted to kill the old man, but he began to see his gains in time. When he was offered a new weapon and help with his other pieces of equipment, he began to really see his gains.
The final thing he got before leaving was directions when he asked. Directions to find his target. And his ‘master’ obliged, smiling creepily like always.
When he returned, all was as expected. He found himself within the now ruined mental hospital he had been taken to enter the tutorial from - at the entrance-area, surrounded by other patients and personel.
If it were the old him, he would have slaughtered the lot of them… he held a lot of hate for a good number of them, and he even saw that shitty nurse who forced him to take his medication. Sadly… he had been told to consider if the killing was worth it, and honestly… they were all too weak. They wouldn’t even give any experience or tutorial points anymore, so it was all a bit pointless.
Oh, but he still took out his new weapon.
Less than a minute later, he walked out of the hospital, juggling the severed head of some weird-looking monster that had been trying to sneak up on them.
“Damn does it feel good to be back,” he said to the bloody head in his hand.
“Now, where were you again,” he said as he closed his eyes. A mental image of the city appeared in his mind, including the location of his target. His goal was in a house in the suburbs leading into the city.
Manipulating the breastplate he had gotten from his first friend Herrmann he lifted himself off the ground as he took flight. He ignored distractions on the way, as he didn’t want to risk his target slipping away or falling prey to any unfortunate incident.
Luckily, she lived close to the hospital. In quite a nice neighborhood well above the middle class. Big houses, big lawns, and driveways that once, without a doubt, had big cars in them. Now they were all vacant and many of the homes broken messes.
The house he was interested in, number 76, was rather whole, actually. Sure, the windows were all broken, and the entire first floor was gone, but besides that, it looked fine.
He couldn’t help smiling as he heard noises within. But soon, he frowned as he detected several loud ones.
Walking in, he made his way towards the noise in the basement. He could hear them very clearly now.
“I know you have one; just give it to us already, you stupid bitch,” one voice said.
“I already told you it is gone! Like the cars… please just leave us be!” a familiar female voice pleaded.
“Don’t fucking lie, I know you have it,” the first voice said again. William didn’t even need to get closer: he could easily feel it already. Why had his master made these morons come here? His touch upon them was so obvious…
“Then give us something else,” a second male voice said. William was now just standing right above him, peering down into the floorboards.
“I don’t have anything! Please, there is no reason for this, we-“
“This is a waste of time,” a third voice said. “Just stop the damn foreplay and fuck her already so we can move on.”
“Fine,” the second man said. “Always in such a rush.”
“What are you-“
“Shut the fuck up. Ya know I always had a thing for you, so if you play along real nice, I promise to let you and the kid go. After we've had some fun,” William heard the man chuckle. He was still standing unmoving right above them.
“I… please, don-“ the woman cried.
“I told you to shut up! One more word and the kid’s first!”
“Hurry up, but do that sick shit somewhere else. We need to leave so-“
“Got room for one more?” the three men heard a voice above them say. Footsteps now clearly audible as someone walked down the stairs.
William saw the situation was quite as he had foreseen.
In the corner was a small woman in her early 30’s. Her shirt was partly ripped by a large burly man standing over her. In William’s opinion, he had always rated her objectively good-looking. Large eyes, long black hair, and a good bone structure.
What he didn’t expect, however, was the smaller version of her lying unconscious on the ground. She didn’t look any older than five or six. For some reason, the sight of her coupled with the words of the men earlier made him a bit mad, but he quickly suppressed it and spoke with a huge smile.
“Wow, Ms. Kim, I didn’t know you had a daughter,” William commented as he looked the men in the eye, all of them sizing him up. Kim, on the other hand, looked at him with a look of terror. He wasn’t sure if it was directed at him or her current situation.
“Who the fu-“
“Now, now gentlemen,” William said, putting his hands up in front of his chest. “Is this the way to treat a lady?”
“What do you want?” the third man said. The only one not currently standing over someone threateningly. He wore a clearly upgraded medium warrior set, and looking at this level; he was likely the leader here.
[Human – lvl 29]
None of the others were even above 25. While William, on the other hand…
Name: William Hanson
Race: [Human (E) – lvl 48]
Class: [Metal Savant – lvl 66]
Profession: [Disciple of Eversmile – lvl 31]
He didn’t feel the slightest threat. The men mere background to his beautiful reunion.
“Allow me to introduce myself. William Hanson, 19 years old, no work experience except my very successful career being a psychotic mass murderer. I am a fast learner, though!” William snickered. “So, can I join in on the fun?”
He briefly saw the look of terror on Ms. Kim’s face deepen, but soon it turned more somber. He couldn’t help but smile internally. He hadn’t gone wrong indeed.
“Listen here, you litt-“
Before he could finish the sentence, his head was severed from his body.
The leader and the man closer to the child both changed their attitude really quickly because of that. Weird how that works.
“What? He was rude, was he not?” William casually said as the two men exchanged a quick glance before charging towards him. Neither of them made it two steps before both their bodies were eviscerated into dozens of pieces. Falling to the floor in bloody messes.
At this point, Ms. Kim had a bit of that terror returning.
William walked up to her as she sat there unmoving. Her shirt was slightly ripped, and the marks on her face were clearly indicating that she had been hit. Her level was no higher than 17. She was a lamb in this new world. Worse was the little girl, who boasted a level of only 10. He didn’t even know how she got any levels, though.
Honestly, she looked… unsightly. Her demeanor was very different from the authoritative woman he remembered from their session. Yet William didn’t feel the slightest inclination of killing her. He needed her, and clearly, she needed him.
“I take it you remember me, Ms. Kim?” William asked, already knowing the answer.
“William… or you prefer Mr. Hanson?“
“William is fine, miss,” he said, giving her the same fake smile he used in every one of their session. “You are my psychologist or therapist or whatever they called it. And I require your professional guidance once more.”
She looked at him, her terror now mainly replaced by confusion. Until he saw her gaze land on her smaller version not long away. Without even hesitating, she got up and ran to the little girl, cradling her.
“Relax, she’s alive,” William muttered, but she didn’t stop hugging her. “Okay then…”
Sitting down on the stairs, he began playing a bit with his new weapon, cuts appearing randomly on the ground and walls here and there.
After what felt like ages, she finally began talking.
“What are you going to do to me?”
He kept playing around as he chuckled. “You misunderstand. This is about what you can do for me.”
“This is my daughter Seo-Yun,” she said. “She will be six in only a few days. Her father died shortly after she was born. Moving from overseas, I don’t have any other relatives on this side of the world. So it has just been the two of us since then.
“We went to that tutorial together. It was pretty safe, so we didn’t do much fighting. She didn’t do any at all, of course. We… without you, I fear what would have happened. To both of us. Thank you, William.”
William just smiled and didn’t interrupt her. He enjoyed this new sensation. He actually felt a bit of interest in her situation. From a standpoint that didn’t revolve around benefits or objectivity. A foolish subjective interest in another human being.
So he tried something else he had never truly tried before.
“Sorry to hear. Sounds like it sucked, but glad to see you two made it.”
He showed actual sympathy. Not a lot, but just a sliver. But for once, it wasn’t just empty words or platitudes, but genuine. He was happy she had made it, as while she had been a hard-ass, she had also always been one of the better people in that shitty hospital. And she didn’t disappoint him as her eyes opened wide.
“William… you…” she said, stunned.
“Let’s get out of here. The blood is beginning to stink, and we don’t want little Seo to start crying when she wakes up, now do we?” he said, getting up from the stairs.
Kim only nodded as she got up and followed after him, holding her child. William couldn’t help but look. For reasons he still couldn’t explain, he liked the look of the scene. He didn’t understand why at all, something Ms. Kim was sure to help him with.
Getting outside, he stretched in an exaggerated motion as he looked back at the woman. “Much better out here, isn’t it?”
“William… what happened to you?” she asked, still holding her child.
“Oh, this and that. I killed a bunch of people, made a friend, killed a bunch more people, and got my head smashed in and killed by some monster in human skin. You know, the usual tutorial stuff,” he answered, still smiling, but his face did crack a bit at the last part.
“One step at a time, William. But what is this about making a friend?”
“Wow, between killing people and getting killed myself, you think making a friend is the big takeaway?”
“Isn’t it? It is an event important enough to be put beside your own killing and you supposedly getting killed. Which must indicate it meant a lot to you,” she answered.
William smiled as he was beginning to see his good old ‘friend’ once more in her.
“Enough about me for now. So, a daughter, eh? Never mentioned that,” William said, changing the subject.
“Our talks weren’t about me; they were about you. Besides, would you have cared for that information before? Or would it just have been ammo to try and get under my skin and throw me off?”
“Wow. Harsh. But totally true,” William said, chuckling a bit.
Silence overtook the two for a bit as he just observed her looking down on her daughter, wiping some grime off her cheek. He found it eerie how they looked so incredibly similar. The kid was like a mini-Ms. Kim.
“So what is it you really want?” she finally said, breaking the silence.
“I am sure you have noticed by now, but I experienced quite the enlightenment on certain subjects during our time apart. Certain changes, if you will. I want you to do what you did before. Help me understand these things by having our ‘talks’,” he explained.
“William, what are these changes? In your own words.”
“Hm… do you know how evolution works through the system?” he asked, and seeing her shake her head, he explained.
“You see, I wanted to try and understand emotion better subconsciously, it seems. Comprehend them somehow. I had some encounters that gnawed at me, made me reconsider certain things. Evolution through the system is exactly as described. It allows one to get closer to the perfection that is divinity. But perfection is subjective, so one of the things it does is change the one evolving according to their own deep wishes. Mine appeared to be to comprehend these emotions better, so… here I am.”
“That is… so you are… better?” she asked, very much doubting her own words.
“Oh no, far from it. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe there was ever anything to fix - just ways to improve myself. I don’t need emotions, but I recognize the value in many of them. Empathy, as an example, is quite a dual-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help you better read people, but on the other hand, it can make you less efficient in killing. I want to learn to control it,” he said.
“You know that isn’t how emotions work. You cannot pick and choose, like a cable package. They are all connected,” Ms. Kim sighed.
“First of all, outdated metaphor. Secondly, I would agree if it was anyone else. But you see, I am indeed quite a bit different. Unique if you may. My new ‘master’ as he calls himself helped me understand certain things about myself,” he smiled, thinking back to the creepy old man. Not even realizing how he had inadvertently began picking up a habit of also smiling a bit too much.
“You will have to explain everything to me in great detail, or I won’t be able to help. But… I am not sure how you want to do this… thing. The world is different.”
“This is my proposition. I will help and protect you, and at the same time, you will help me. A partnership, if you will. It’s a pure win-win, so what do you say?” William said, extending his arm for a handshake.
Kim just looked at her child in her hand and asked. “What about Seo-Yun?”
Waving his hand dismissively, she was at first worried until he said. “I get it; you’re a package deal. So, not a partnership, but the three musketeers instead? Something like that. On that note, how is she still out cold?”
“I… I put her to sleep with a skill of mine. It revolves around hypnosis, and I had to make her calm as we tried to hide,” she said, a bit ashamed.
“Neat. Anyway, what do you say?”
“I don’t feel like I have much of a choice in the matter,” she sighed. “Okay, William, but we must set some ground rules.”
“Eh, like what?”
“Firstly, you must promise to protect my daughter and me, of course. Secondly, you are never allowed to use intimidation or force me to do anything against my own volition or resort to violence due to our talks. Third, you must always answer me honestly. Lastly… you are not allowed to kill any people in front of Seo-Yun.”
“I kind of expected a rule against killing altogether,” he said, honestly a bit surprised.
“We both know that isn’t realistic.”
“Because of me or the current state of the world?” he asked. “Also, what is up with the second rule?”
“Both. And the purpose of the second rule is to make sure this is a partnership. I cannot do my job if I am to be in fear of anything I say. I will without a doubt need to push you and risk angering you…”
“Fine. But I will add a bit to the rules, first of all, confidentiality about anything I don’t give you express permission to say or that you believe can benefit me by sharing. And to make the third rule two-way. You also have to be honest with me at all times. Of course, I will also keep everything confidential,” he said, nodding.
“Naturally, I won’t share anything,” Kim said. “I also agree to your terms.”
“Great,” William said as he took out a small object the size of a coin from his pocket. “From this deal, our new karma shall be born.”
The coin flew up into the air as it exploded several golden letters in mid-air, describing the terms they had just made, exactly as they were made.
“Now, let us shake on it, and the bond be created,” he said, motioning for her to shake his hand. “Oh, and the kid too.”
That day they shook hands, and a very unusual trio was born.