It was a bright morning at the Norn Orphanage. Although the place was located quite a bit away from the bustling city, since the facility was one that was funded by the Kingdom's government, the building was always well-maintained and none of the staffs were underfunded.
Last night, Alter experienced one of the most comfortable sleep he'd had in a while. A deep sleep.
For active soldiers and all related occupations, it was truly unusual for one to enter a state of deep sleep that completely closed off your awareness from your surroundings. Even after retiring, Alter couldn't quite shake off his habit of leaving a sliver of his consciousness on a state of alert when he slept. But last night was somehow different.
That's why when he was suddenly awakened by the touch of a hand on his forehead, his survival instinct kicked in with a full force.
As soon as he opened his eyes, he grabbed the hand touching his forehead with his left and pivoted around it from his sleeping position into a squatting one. All the while, his right hand swiftly swept through the underside of his pillow to grab his handgun.
Only when his right hand came out empty did he have the opportunity to stop his reflexive action in time to cool-headedly observe his surroundings.
A relatively small room crammed full with bunk beds leaving only the smallest gaps for the windows to be fully displayed and the walkways to allow passage towards the door. He was currently squatting on top of one of the lower bunk beds.
Maria was stunned silent at the moment.
She had been working at the Norn Orphanage for almost half a dozen years and counting. As usual, she began her days with doing her rounds, waking up all the kids to finish their respective chores in the morning before breakfast.
Because Alter, one of the oldest kids within the orphanage suddenly came down with a high fever in the middle of the night, she decided to let him sleep in for the rest of the day to recuperate.
But when she came in a little later in the morning to check on his temperature and change his towel, Alter who was sleeping soundly at one moment suddenly got up and grabbed her hand in a very rough manner.
For a split second when their eyes met, the look in his eyes made her body subconsciously shivered. She tried to pull her own hand by reflex but Alter's hand wouldn't let go.
After that split second, his eyes quickly went back to normal, and his hand also loosened its grip, as if the whole thing was just her imagination.
"Sister Mariabelle...?" His voice sounded weakly.
When she heard his slightly coarse young voice, she decided to put that previously scary aura around him at the back of her mind and handed him the glass of water that she had prepared for him.
"Were you having a nightmare Al? Don't worry, it's alright." She pulled his body closer and softly pat his head with a smile after handing him the glass of water
"It's good to know that you called me sister Mariabelle in your dreams rather than the usual Maria!" She kept her hand on the back of his head and treated him like a child. She couldn't help it, the currently meek looking Alter was nothing like the usually boisterous child. The situation reminded him of the 9-year-old Alter back when she was just started working there.
Meanwhile, Alter was still stunned with his mouth slightly opened and a glass of water in his hand.
'I'll send you to your mission tomorrow.' The last words of Anastasia resounded in his mind.
"Tomorrow... It's today." He muttered.
"Yes?" Although his voice was soft, Maria still managed to hear it nonetheless.
"Ah, it's... nothing. I just... Had a very long dream." Alter tried his best to get a grip on the situation, but his reaction was still a bit out of it.
He looked around the room until his eyes stopped at the hanging calendar on the wall next to his bed. The page on the calendar indicated the second month, and the days crossed-out by a marker stopped at the ninth day.
'The 10th day of the 2nd month... year 915.' The date was consistent with yesterday, but the year was no longer 942.
'27 years into the past. Now that's far away from home.' Alter closed his eyes contemplating, it's not as if he'd got nothing to lose in the future where he came from. A lot of his comrades were there, along with his students.
Everything had disappeared just like that in the blink of an eye. As Anastasia had explained, her power was not sending someone's consciousness back in time. It was the power to turn the whole world back in time, leaving one person to carry the memories of the future.
In the end, Alter only managed to say his goodbyes to a couple of his closest friends within the organization, saying this will be his last assignment. He couldn't find any excuse to meet with his previous students as he thought that the relationship between them made it a bit awkward to casually asked to meet up.
'It all seemed so trivial now... But looking back at it, my circle of friends was truly limited considering my age.'
"Alter, hey! Why are you spacing off like that?" Sister Maria, who was being ignored the whole time pouted but didn't dare to be too rough with him as she's afraid that he was still unwell.
"Ah, yes sister! It's already quite late but I'll go and finish my morning chores." He quickly stood away from the bed and tidied his clothes a bit before walking out the door, glancing at the tasks rotation chart hanging on the door on his way out.
"??" Only the dumbfounded look on sister Maria's face was left in the room after that.
"Chores... What? Since when does he even do his chores without being told to??"
Alter went to the nearest riverside carrying a bunch of empty buckets. The orphanage was built on top of a small hill away from the city, so they don't have a water system installed.
Because of the building's location, the task of collecting water from the river back to the orphanage is one that required the most strength out of all other tasks, and was left to the oldest kids within the orphanage.
Alter still pretty much remembered the routines and locations surrounding the orphanage, he was jogging lightly towards the riverside as he thought about his next plan. He wouldn't forget the whole reason of him being sent back in time.
'I was 15 years old right now... I got just a bit less than a year until the Frontline Institute's new academic year.'
To complete the ledger without any accidents, Alter needed to put himself at the same time, place, and occasion with Anastasia whenever a date or a condition for a 'hit' got close. As such, he also needed to successfully enter the Institute at the same time as Anastasia and the other Shining Generation.
The Frontline Institute for Soldiers accepts new batch of students on the 2nd day of the 1st month every year, which gave Alter approximately 10 months and 3 weeks to prepare.
"Well, I shouldn't fail the entry exam this time around." Alter was not at all worried regarding whether or not he'd fail again. For the current him, even the whole curriculum of the Institute felt like child's play.
"And also..." He looked and found a random tree a distance away from him and turned towards it.
"4.32 meters" His eyes twitched, "As The Head said, I do have my ability." Although he seemed calm, Alter was truly excited by this revelation.
His ability 'Absolute Measure' was by no means a combat ability. This ability allowed him to precisely measure anything his senses might perceive, from measuring distance with his eyes, decibels with his ears, and any form of forces and pressures with his body. The only limitation was how much his normal senses could perceive it.
And even though it was called measure, Alter would have no way of calculating the precise number if he didn't know the standard unit of measurement for it. It was a skill that allowed a precise level of comparison, he could calculate a distance because he knew how far a meter is, and could precisely compare the two.
That's why he needed to establish a basic form of reference before he could assign any number to it.
When he discovered this power at the age of 36, although not directly, his overall combat capabilities increased quite drastically, especially with regards to long range sniping.
Unfortunately, as the ability still fall under the category of analytical abilities, it still doesn't stop him from reaching the limit at B-list. That was why he decided to retire and utilize this analytical ability to properly guide and measure the trainees growth.
Getting out of his reminiscence, Alter slowly approached the tree and put down the buckets on his hands before getting into a fighting stance.
Alter stroke a punch at the tree with his full force behind it!
When he finally removed his arm, a very small indentation could be seen on the trunk of the tree. On the other hand, the skins on his right knuckle was properly scraped with a smidgeon of blood all around it.
"...Around 0.9 times the strength of an average adult, even with the proper posture and everything." He calmly looked at both his right hand and the tree trunk respectively.
"Guess I can't just sit around doing nothing while waiting for the year to end. I need to build my body from the ground up." He dusted off the dirts and the small pieces of woods from his knuckle before picking back up the buckets he put down and sprinted towards the riverside.
"Well, this is basically it." Alter threw away the stick he used to write on the ground.
Punching Force: 0.9
Sprinting Speed: 1
Muscle Flexibility: 1.4
What's written on the rocky ground beside the river was the stats he tested when he was running to this place. Using the number 1 as the basis for a normal average adult. Based on his measurement on the test he'd done, this is the current stats of his body.
Actually, Alter could've used the normal metric system for his observation. But he found that using his own standard of measurement provides a better wiggle room since he himself had only done the test once and what he needed was to look in perspective and not the exact data for any comprehensive study.
"I guess a child's body has its merits... But the most important data is reaction time, and i don't have the proper equipment for it." Alter was quite pleased at his base flexibility and speed, the hardest thing would be to maintain and improve that number AFTER he had build up his muscles.
Of course, the most important stat for him was still the reaction time. Against other humans, with the correct tools and preparation, even a toddler's strength and speed could prove to be fatal enough to take a life.
It was not as if he was planning on running around hunting magical beasts outside the wall, his targets were people, preferably in their unaware states.
"Now, let's begin." He scooped up to buckets of water at the same time using both hands. He did this two more times until all six of the buckets were filled to the brim.
He carried two buckets on each arms while the rest were propped up his left and right shoulders.
"Hm, even this can be a proper balance training for this weak body."
Alter began jogging back towards the direction of the orphanage on top of the hill.