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A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story)

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Post  Kisaragi Anko Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:40 pm

«I am Hasagawa Yumemi. Technically at least. It’s a bit complicated.»

Under different circumstances Kisaragi may have expanded on that information. Given the presence of her superior, however, she had decided to proceed rather carefully.

«It’s an alias I created for her ♡ You see, Anko-chan is not a proper citizen of Academy City. So when she had to be hospitalised after picking a fight with one of Academy City’s most dangerous assassins I had to forge one ♡ Naturally, I did my best when doing so and made it perfectly bullet proof ♡»

And yet to her surprise that strawberry girl overturned any fear or expectation, simply dropping the bomb as though it was knowledge to be placed into casual chit chat. Now, how far did the boundary of Kohaku being involved in all this spread?

After waiting a short moment to see wether or not Ichigo had to add, the average girl took over once more.

«It’s likely the abductors have access to information from the bank and chose their victims based on that. At least that’s what I assume.»

«Yeah ♡ When I created Hasagawa Yumemi I naturally manipulated the bank by providing a full on profile, ability, school and even a network of contacts, both social and professional ♡ It’s very likely they used some of that to pick their target. But what exactly? No clue ♡»

While it may have sounded like a crazy feat, this was the bare minimum of precautions to take under these circumstances. Academy City’s strict policies for handling uninvited guests were rather well known after all.
Kisaragi Anko
Kisaragi Anko
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Post  Kira Kohaku Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:42 pm

Just from her few sentences, the other girl left a lot of information on the floor to dissect. But, she had to go through things systematically. Otherwise, she would find herself completely inundated by the information.

“Um, actually. Do I have a name or alias I can refer to you by? You can call me Kohaku.”

For starters, she needed to at least get a name or some sort of alias to refer to her by. Judging by how shady the talk was, she didn’t want to just out this girl with her real name if she didn’t want that to happen. That was not her place in this machine.

“I’m not going to question what you did to get yourself hospitalized, Anko-chan, since I get the feeling that was probably unrelated to the kidnapping. Especially if we’re running with the Hasagawa angle.”

It was better she verbalized her thought process at this stage anyway. If she made any missteps, the others would more easily be able to correct them that way.

“So, let’s start with this. What kind of profile did you create for this fake identity? I don’t need all the details, but ability, notable contacts, events in the false history that could step on someone’s toes. Any of those red flags?”
Kira Kohaku
Kira Kohaku
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Sat Apr 25, 2020 6:54 pm

A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story) - Page 5 Aiimag10
What exactly had been that girl’s viewpoint on everything? What did she see in this conversation? What did she see in that girl accompanying Kisaragi Anko?

«My name is Ichigo Ai ♡ Pleased to meet you, Haku-chan ♡»

There was no telling, would that sugar sweet smile on her face block out all insight into her mind.

«What I made is a perfectly rounded profile as you would find for any citizen ♡ I made everything so that it would appear perfectly real. The minimum was satisfying all relevant databases such as the bank, school registries and the trending social networks. On top I created contact network based on a private phone’s contact list along some external ones I either made myself or hacked into ♡»

Even now she didn’t simply spit out all the requested information, but provided an overly lengthy and detailed explanation to everything she did. Both in her over the top girlishness and a down to earth professional informativeness at the very same time.

«I’m pretty sure what I created history wise should affect any of the major players in this city. According to the records Hasagawa Yumemi, now 16 years old, was born in Shiga. Her parents Yumiko and Tsubasa ran a simple hardware store, not contributing to any relevance. Until she entered Academy City, she made a few friends, had average grades and was entirely unremarkable. She did some stupid things, but nothing out of the ordinary for a teenage girl. The same pretty much goes for her life in Academy City itself. She enrolled into middle school here three years ago and ever since did everything just like any girl would. Her contacts were, of course, handpicked by me, so I doubt there is anything in there. Even her classmates are perfectly well crafted lies, so that’s out ♡»

While one may have assumed she had looked all that information up from somewhere, that strawberry marshmallow girl just dropped this whole factual report from the top of her head. After all, she had been the one to craft all this informational noise in the first place. She was an artist knowing her artwork by heart.

«Her ability on the other hand was made to be quite a special one. At its foundation it’s a kind of hydrokinesis. A crafty one. High Level 3, too. Specifically, it’s called Living Flow. An ability that allows the user to control a specific kind of liquid, in this case blood. It may sound a bit creepy, but I felt like it suits what Anko-chan does, so I tried adjusting the profile to that ♡»

And with all that said…

«Anything else, Haku-chan? ♡»
Kisaragi Anko
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Post  Guy Li Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:33 pm

"I've used my ability to block out the radio waves used for GPS. I didn't consider tracking so it might be too late and they may already know this location, but if there is anything, it's useless now. Although, if they are using a type of tracking that doesn't use GPS, I may not be able to interfere with it."

Reina had been listening from a distance. The right thing to do now would be to leave. These people didn't owe her anything. They were helping her out of the goodness of their hearts. And that was exactly why she didn't want them to. THey were good people, so if they got hurt because of her, even if they'd chosen it, then it wouldn't be fair.

The right thing to do would be to leave.

But she was lost and confused and so very afraid. She didn't know how she would survive if she left on her own. She'd probably just be picked up by those people again. And then...

She'd lose her life. She was sure of it. It was a perfectly normal response, to be afraid of dying. A completely rational fear that anyone would have had in those exceptional circumstances.

She was hesitating.

"If they might be coming..." She spoke up, but her voice was still small. She wasn't the kind to speak in front of groups, let alone groups of people she didn't even know. "Then we can't stay here, can we?" She wasn't really asking. Her real question was implied. So what do we do? Go to the authorities? Would they even believe her?
Guy Li
Guy Li
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Post  Kira Kohaku Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:42 am

In other words, the grand majority, if not all, of the data that the Bank held on Hasagawa Yumemi was a falsehood (which was to be expected since Hasagawa Yumemi, herself, was a falsehood). From her name to her background to her ability, all of it was a grand illusion. Not a single person said to be connected to this grand deception of a person existed and even if they did, they were likely ranging from innocuous to tangentially connected to danger at worst.

It was the creation of the most stale and unassuming cover possible to hide something far more insidious.

The more she thought into this, the more Kohaku realized that she had just waltzed into a swamp. Then again, the group chasing after the two of them should have been the first clue.

“Nothing in her history or connections...but an ability that manipulates blood flow. In other words...”

Kohaku could not help but wonder what she meant by crafting the idea because it felt like it suited what Anko did—not because she didn’t have an idea of what Anko did, but because of the motivation. Was it a case of hiding her capabilities in plain sight?

But, as much as she wanted to question that, it was the least important issue with that ability.

“That sounds like something a shady organization would be itching to get its hands upon. But...that almost feels too easy of a connection.”

Any idiot who played with how blood moved in a person’s body could easily kill them. Even simple stasis was enough to cause a dangerous state of hypercoagulability and bleeding. It almost felt too easy. Plus, all the talk of connection meant…

“What about the other victims, Ai-chan? What kind of abilities dd they have?”
Kira Kohaku
Kira Kohaku
Level 4 Diagnosis Touch

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Location : Nagatenjouki Academy, Academy City

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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:11 pm

“Good point, manager-san. Although I’ve mentioned my name to these girls before, I suppose we’ve not been introduced to each other ya? I am Saito Hirashi, and I am able to use telekinesis. Only small things though, doncha be expecting me to lifting cars and stuff. It actually isn’t quite plain ‘ol telekinesis, but now is not the time to be sweating the small details ya? Clocks be tickin now.”

"Hahahaha!", the manager laughed, amused, "you're good, kid!" He realised what Saito was implying. And he liked careful people like himself, who kept level-headed and thought things through, unlike a certain girl he knew who was a pain in the ass to deal with.

Tsubasa, the girl in question herself, on the other hand, kept looking back and forth between the two, confused, oblivious to the hints and sparks flying in the air.

'Hmm? Hmm? What's going on? Why's he laughing now?'

"My name is Aizawa Itaru and...", the older man added while pointing at the singer, "I'm this moron's manager. I'm also the coach of a certain urban dance team."

"Do you think it's possible that they could be tracking her somehow? When she first ran into you two it looked like she had run out of the alley right? The skill out thugs came from a van down the other side of the street. If they were chasing her directly wouldn't they have come from the alley as well? I've used my ability to block out the radio waves used for GPS. I didn't consider tracking so it might be too late and they may already know this location, but if there is anything, it's useless now. Although, if they are using a type of tracking that doesn't use GPS, I may not be able to interfere with it."

This girl seemed to be way more experienced in this sort of thing than her looks let on. She gave him the impression that she was accustomed to this kind of situations. She would be a usefull ally this time. But he felt like he had to keep an eye on her. Next time, they might not be so lucky as to have her on their side, but the enemy side. He had to think of some way to counter her ability if one day he needed to protect Tsubasa from her.

"Good observations young girl. And well executed. Hopefully your move buys us a little more time at least..."

"If they might be coming...", the other girl who had been silent until now surprisingly spoke.

"Ah, Reina-chan, no don't talk. You should be resting.", Tsubasa quickly lept from her place to join the other girl, in an attempt to get her to get back on the sofa and lay down.

"No, she's right. This is no time to be waiting here for a potential ambush, we need to move to some other place. Most likely, as Aoki-kun said before, School Garden is our best bet, as it's one of the safest places in this city. Alas, we're a mixed group and it bans guyys from entering. But I might have a counter plan for that. We have all sorts of idol attires and make up stored here, so we can disguise the guys as girls. However, for this plan to work, you'd have to continue on your own, there are no clothes my size, and a hairy guy like me would stand out too much. What do you think, Hirashi-kun? Up for some disguising? As if by some miracle, you and Watabe-kun are about the same age, height and size, so the clothes would fit you perfectly. This is meant to be!" Aizawa teased the teenage boy.

"Also," he added, adressing the boy again "you mentioned a map earlier, I do have one indeed. Here it is. We can start by looking at the locations that Reina might've came across in her path before you guys met her.", He opened the electronic map in front of them.

The discussion between the others concerning the plan was going smoothly for a while, until Watabe interrupted.

"Hey manager, this is getting boring. What are we waiting for? If we're in danger then let's go kick their asses first!", Watabe intervened, full of hopeful enthusiasm but also frustration. It was as if she didn't learn the lesson from the earlier encounter... To be honest, yes, she didn't learn anything.

As much as she understood the importance of a plan, it just wasn't her style to go hide, she prefered facing her enemies head on and giving them a good painful punch in the face. It was quite reckless, and that was why she was always in trouble. It isn't that she was dumb, she just lacked patience.

"I mean... this time around, we have these two espers with us, who happen to have amazing powers — even if they say otherwise — so we can beat up a couple of Skill-Outs for sure... Those guys, always get beaten by espers cuz... Level 0s don't really stand a chance against Espers. I felt the crushing pressure, the utter defeat against that beast earlier, I felt that first hand... I was only saved thanks to those two. No matter how much I try to deny it, as a level 0, against a monster like that, I'd have been...", Tsubasa has gone on a quite depressing tangent unlike herself. She had meant to say it to herself deep down, but she ended up muttering it out loud somehow.

Whether the others noticed ot not, her voice had been trembling, somber, and filled with a hint of despair and jealousy.

This was a side that Aizawa had never seen in his agent before. He took note to address this issue in the future. Once they survived this, he needed to have a good talk with the girl.

When Tsubasa realised her mistake, she quickly tried to hide what had transpired, even if poorly. She didn't really want to ruin the mood. Plus, this really wasn't the time to be whiny. Everyone had worked together to get this far, and everyone needed full concentration going forward. Besides, there wasn't any time to spare talking about her dumb insecurities.

"Sorry guys! Hahahaha!", she laughed, she faked a huge grin, she faked a satisfied face, but her heart was crying, lonely.

"My bad, my bad, that was a joke!", She lied, lied through her teeth, it was a terrible lie, she knew that, but she prayed that they get the hint and move on from the topic, she didn't want to hinder the progress of the plan, and, most of all, she didn't want to remember the past.

She regretted her carelessness, she never intended for those strangers to hear about any of this.

So she decided to play the villain card instead...

"I was just trying to distract you guys and make myself the center of attention again, you know, an idol loves attention! Ahahaha!", she added another awful excuse.

'It's okay, hate me, I deserve it, just forget what I said, I beg you, don't bring up that topic, don't remind me of him even more...'

_________________
Watabe Tsubasa
Watabe Tsubasa
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https://academycity.forumotion.co.uk/t1003-esper-watabe-tsubasa

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Post  Kisaragi Anko Fri May 01, 2020 7:31 pm

«The only remarkable aspect all of them had in common is that they are low level. That’s all…»

Another possible path had been cut off. From the lack of energy in Ichigo Ai’s voice alone, Kisaragi was able to read that she had already overstepped her boundaries, yet not been able to gain any turnover. It was disheartening.

However, exactly said boundaries would become visible the next moment.

«But as I told you earlier, I’m not allowed to get involved ♡ So I won’t be able to give you any more than that ♡»

It was so like her to act all lovely while trying to brush away her own shortcomings.

«Don’t worry. What we’ve heard is sufficient. We’ll solve this on our own. I will.»

Similarly it was entirely like Kisaragi Anko to wish to shoulder the responsibility entirely by herself. In the first place, the girl had never expected others to play a major role on her journey. This was just another instance of that. While she may drag them along, it didn’t mean she wanted for them to see things through to the end.

Thus, she’d turn towards her strawberry head superior, revealing the newfound determination reflected in her eyes.

«Can I trust you to take Kohaku to a safe place? She needs protection I cannot offer.»

This was her fight. Everyone better uninvolved else should stay out of harm’s way. No matter what.


A single digital sound coupled with the phone’s soft vibration would signal the arrival of a long expected mail.

From: Ichigo Ai

To: Aiko-chan

Time: 20 August 20XX, 22:51

Subject: Good Luck

File Size: 371.56MB

A short subject and a massive attachment of an unknown file type was all she received. In fact, all she’d receive. This was the last message sent by the other side that very night.

The very last.
Kisaragi Anko
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Post  Saito Hirashi Mon May 04, 2020 5:28 pm

"My name is Aizawa Itaru and I'm this moron's manager. I'm also the coach of a certain urban dance team."

Aizawa Itaru, Hirashi took a brief moment to catalogue the name as his companions took turns speaking.

"If they might be coming..."
"Up for some disguising? As if by some miracle, you and Watabe-kun are about the same age, height and size, so the clothes would fit you perfectly."
"Hey manager, this is getting boring. What are we waiting for? If we're in danger then let's go kick their asses first!"


Hirashi agreed with the idea that staying put and playing on the defensive will put them at a disadvantage, and it seems no one is opposing the notion yet, but regarding the method…

“I am against that idea obviously,” said Hirashi whilst raising a hand, “but mainly for the reason that it will be unlikely to work.”

“This is Academy City, if the authorities were to cordon off an area and impose access control, I am certain merely a change of clothes and some make up will not suffice.”

As the Manager’s words conjured up images of himself dressed in various frilly and pastel-coloured skirts and dresses, The casual chatter Hirashi was putting on rapidly disintegrated into his normal dry, serious dialogue. Before he caught himself, Hirashi had already declared his disagreement with the idea.

As for the Mad Biker’s ramblings, Hirashi paid it no mind. That girl’s internal thoughts did not seem to affect her reliablility as an ally and was therefore of no concern to him.

As for the tracking issue, No More Hoodie Girl’s observation is on point. Hirashi looked at the map to see what it can tell him. This meant it is now even more important for them to start moving before wave two hits this studio.
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Post  Kira Kohaku Wed May 06, 2020 5:16 am

Despite the information she had been able to get from Ai, there was still a lot of holes left. The abilities of the previous victims were all low level? Even if that was their only connection, it was still something to work with, especially since Ai had set her boundaries and closed off the route to any further questions.

At this point, Ai wasn’t going to field any questions, so there was no point in asking further. Kohaku just needed to work with all the information she had and it wasn’t like she wasn’t good at that.

«Don’t worry. What we’ve heard is sufficient. We’ll solve this on our own. I will.»

Exactly. Even without the external support, they would figure this out one way or another. They had the resolve to.

Wait…

Did she just say I?

«Can I trust you to take Kohaku to a safe place? She needs protection I cannot offer.»

“Wait! Hold on a second, Anko-chan!”

Yes. Yes she did. She was planning on ditching her here and moving on her own. Admittedly, it was the most obvious plan. Anko was the one mired in this world of hers—the one where words like mercenary were common parlance.

Even so…

“Look, I know I’m not exactly used to this kind of environment, but two people are still a stronger asset than one and I still have some expertise I could.”

She would not let Anko go. These people had chased her too and there was no way Kohaku would let herself stay in a situation where would have to wait until the storm blew over.

No, she would run headfirst into the storm.

Without delay, she wrapped her arms around Anko.

“And I’ll keep hugging you until you agree.”
Kira Kohaku
Kira Kohaku
Level 4 Diagnosis Touch

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Post  Aoki Aiko Thu May 07, 2020 2:29 am

Aiko tuned out of the conversation for a moment as she felt her phone buzz in her pocket. She took a few steps away from the table in order to check the message in relative privacy, but stayed close enough to make sure Reina remained within her field. Pulling out her phone, she saw it was the reply she had been expecting from Ai-chan, it's contents however were not what she expecting. An empty message with the subject line "Good Luck" and a moderately sized attachment of a file type that Aiko had never seen before.

What is a .XYZ file? My phone doesn't seem to be able to open it. Is Ai-chan expecting me to figure out how to open it?

Aiko sent a message back in reply inquiring about the strange file, however she received no further reply.

I guess I'll have to figure this one out on my own.

Realizing she had been off to the side for a bit and missing the conversation, Aiko walked back over to the table, rejoining the conversation at the right time to hear an odd suggestion.

What do you think, Hirashi-kun? Up for some disguising? As if by some miracle, you and Watabe-kun are about the same age, height and size, so the clothes would fit you perfectly. This is meant to be!"

“I am against that idea obviously, but mainly for the reason that it will be unlikely to work. This is Academy City, if the authorities were to cordon off an area and impose access control, I am certain merely a change of clothes and some make up will not suffice.”

"I agree with Hirashi here. A simple disguise won't get you into the garden. Considering it further, Reina probably doesn't have any identification on her, so getting her in would be just as hard. Unfortunately, as it stands only Watabe and I would be able to enter with no issues so we may have to take that option off the table."

Jumping back into the discussion, Aiko could feel the manager's eyes focus on her a bit more.

I might have let slip a bit to much with my explanation before. If I seem to familiar with these situations, someone may suspect something. I may need to be extra careful here too considering Hirashi's presence. He already knows the side of the city I'm from...

_________________
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Aoki Aiko
Aoki Aiko
Level 3 Electron Shell

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Post  Guy Li Sun May 10, 2020 6:47 am

Guy stepped back out of Touko's way, subtly checking his crown with a concerned expression. Rachel followed suit, her spine stiffening in response to the ominous aura of threat that the older girl was exuding.

"She's not my sister." He protested. He didn't see Rachel's face twist in pain a little at the comment. "And I don't have a bald spot." He asserted defiantly, looking to the girl beside him for reassurance. Rachel pinched her fingers together and smiled apologetically. "Whatever. Let's get out of here." He tried to cover his hasty retreat by affecting nonchalance but it was clear she'd hit a nerve.

"Yeah, I should be getting back anyway." Rachel grumbled, pulling up her jacket and stuffing her hands into the pockets.

***

"No way!" The little blonde girl kicked at the barriers to the tram station. "Who closes public transport at this time?"

"It is pretty late." Guy looked on with a sympathetic smile.

"I'll be walking for hours!" She pulled at her hair and stamped her feet in a petulant display of undirected anger.

"Man, that really sucks..." Guy looked pointedly away, trying to avoid-

"Hey, Sensei..." A devious grin slid across Rachel's face as she half-turned to look at him out the corner of her eye. "You live around here, right?"

"No." Guy's response was as flat and decisive as it was sudden, leaving little room for negotiation.

"Come on... It's cruel to make me walk all the way back across the city at this time of night!" She protested. Guy looked away, as if meeting her gaze might give away control of his mind. "What if something happened to me?" She dodged into the edge of his vision.
"No. Definitely not."

***

“Jeez, it looks like some old alcoholic lives here. Have you given up on life already?” Rachel exclaimed in shock as Guy opened the door to his apartment.

“I don't need life advice from a kid your age. You sound like a judgemental grandmother.” He had heard something similar, what felt like a lifetime ago.

“You're still young! You can't throw your life away and fall into this kind of lifestyle so early!” The small girl with her black hair in buns had cried out in dismay.

The entire floor had been littered with a layer of empty bottles. They had not been lined up neatly or arranged in any particular fashion, just left where they had fallen. It was only because they had been so thoroughly emptied that the carpet was not stained. A small space had been cleared in the middle of the room, just enough for a person to lie down flat. Guy moved straight to that spot and sat down, while the girl stood, mortified by the door.


Back in the present, Rachel scampered through the door and threw herself down onto the couch to claim her spot.

"I guess it'll do for tonight, at least."

***

The tall, elegant figure dressed in a narrow skirt and white blouse leaned against the street lamp ahead of Touko, framed in light as she coolly flitted her gaze up to the pair of students approaching from the direction of the convenience store.

"Ah. Here it is. My real chance." Tsuchimikado couldn't hide the glee in his voice as they approached the girl. He recognized her as the same one who had been present in the dormitory that morning.

"Kamijou-san. Has your day been well?" Hana asked with measured politeness. Neither too formal, nor too familiar, she seemed utterly at ease as she perfectly ignored the boy in sunglasses standing beside Touko.
Guy Li
Guy Li
A Certain Mysterious Teacher

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Post  Kisaragi Anko Sun May 10, 2020 10:55 am

The girl who had been intent on pushing everyone away so that she alone could shoulder the responsibility for her actions, suddenly found herself enveloped in the softness of an innocent girl’s hug.

«Wha––!?»

Caught off guard and unable to knock back the attack, she lost the edge she had needed to turn the tides. And while she did, the amused chuckle of her strawberry bob cut ally revealed their imminent betrayal.

«You two are too cute ♡ How could I ever separate you ♡»

This was defeat.

«More seriously, though ♡ As I said earlier, I am not supposed to get involved in the first place. So, unfortunately you’ll have to stick together a while longer. But, I don’t think you’ll mind ♡»

Clearly, the both of them had been way too casual for the circumstances, but in the end Ichigo Ai’s words had contained the truth. She wasn’t supposed to get involved. Helping to guard someone who stood at the centre of the incident surely would overstep the line. Kisaragi Anko understood that much, yet couldn’t help but wish for things to be different.

«Fine. You can come along.»

Exasperated and still trapped in the girl’s admittedly very comfortable arms, the kunoichi embraced her loss.

«Ah right! Before I forget it ♡»

Before their paths would ultimately divide, Ichigo Ai brought forth a final gift she wanted to impart on the girls. A brown paper bag stuffed to the brink.

«Take this ♡ It’s just some essentials I felt you might need ♡ Nothing all too big ♡»

Her smile was as soft as it could ever have been. Even that final gesture was a sweet as the voice she’d use to convey it. No matter how dark the world she lived in, the goodness in Ichigo Ai’s heart would shine brighter than any star in the sky. So bright even that Kisaragi could feel its warmth.

However, it still meant goodbye.


August 20th, 20:00, ???

In this world there are many dark places. While the majority of people would be oblivious to their existence, those who kept crawling under the surface would find their ways into these rabbit holes.

This particular rabbit hole, however, was even gloomier than the rest of them.

When she had stepped into it, she could feel an ice cold sensation creeping up to her very core.

It was a small room, cramped with shelves filled with boxes and simple objects. It was dark, with the only source of light being a collection of TVs stacked on top of each other eternally displaying security camera footage. And behind what she could make out as a desk sat a single individual. What little the light of the screens revealed, left hardly any impression. They must have been male. They must have been quite young. They were wearing a uniform of some kind. Not a military one. That was all.

«You know why I called you in, don’t you?»

Their voice was unremarkable, yet at the same time sharp like a dagger.

It was a rare sensation, but that individual’s presence felt as though not even the black military gear she had been clad in could be of any protection.

«The mess your people have caused at the hospital still hasn’t stopped striking waves. Such a slip-up is unforgivable, as you might understand.»

To her, who had a well-trained muscular body covered in scars borne from countless battlefields, a fully loaded gun at her side and was openly presenting gaping hole where her left eye should have been, there was nothing more unsettling than this individual.

«I am aware. Things have gotten quite out of hand over there. My folks didn’t expect the target to be this skilled.»

«I understand. However, failure remains failure, Marybeth.»

Her remaining green eye, the pale white skin and the unkempt ash coloured hair were nothing in face of that ordinary monstrosity. Nothing she would or could say meant anything down here. However, each and every word they spoke was absolute. There was no regard for the other side. No mercy. No emotion. It was business. Shady to the core. Cruel.

«However, I came to the realisation that your Thanatos was not cut out for this kind of handling in the first place. As such you can consider yourself lucky: I am giving you another chance to prove your value.»

What value as there to whom? This person was entirely illusive. Who were they? Who was standing behind them? Was there eve anyone behind them or were they the top of the food chain? She didn’t know. She knew nothing.

«Over the course of the day, a number of problems have emerged. Some of which might hold the potential to derail the operation. You will no longer handle the retrieval. From here on out your task will be to handle these loose ends.»

There was one kind of person she despised the most. In all those years out on the battlefields with Odd Wolf, no, Thanatos, she had encountered that breed more than she’d have preferred. But they were all around, appearing to push unknown agendas in the name of unknown values. And this one was just like them.

«It is time for your specialty, wouldn’t you agree?»

Yet still, even in the face of that disgusting horror, she wouldn’t shy away from revealing her joyous bloodlust with a broad grin.

Yes, it was time.
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Post  Kamijou Touko Thu May 14, 2020 1:50 pm

Luckily that encounter at the convenience store had only lasted that long. Otherwise it could have been very well possible for Kamijou Touko to lose her mind. Not to the hunger – even though that had undeniably been a factor there – but to that no-good teacher and his ‹sister’s› presence.

In the end, that spiky haired idiot had finally eaten her lunch, loitered around with her friend and neighbour and lost track of the clock in the meantime. Even in a cheapskate convenience hours could fly by like minutes when one didn’t pay attention. Especially if one had to prevent an adolescent pervert from sinking into the abyss that were gravure magazines.

It had been a good time, though.

Sadly times like those only last so long.

In this case all it took to reach that end was an elegant angel waiting at the horizon.

«Kamijou-san. Has your day been well?»

«So it’s time already?»

She didn’t quite understand why, but her mind didn’t allow her to feel at ease around that woman. It didn’t matter how casual her talk nor how calming her demeanour. Something about her gave Kamijou the feeling of urgency.

So instead of engaging into the casualness of a street side conversation, Touko immediately switched to her very rare business mode.

«Sorry, Tsuchimikado! But this time around it’s another round of girls only talk!»

And given the nature of her usual business, spiky head Kamijou couldn’t allow for anyone from her normal everyday life to be dragged down into the hell pit that were her extracurricular activities. Thus, with as much fake girlish sincerity, pitifulness and awkwardness she’d try to push away that sunglasses wearing delinquent.

«If you go now, I promise I’ll put in a good word for you. OK?!»

It was for his own good, after all.
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Post  Kira Kohaku Thu May 14, 2020 4:38 pm

Great success. As much as she hated being the type to make others back down, Kohaku had successfully convinced Anko to let her stay with her diplomatic embrace. Though, it was debatable how much of an impact that embrace had compared to Ai’s ardent refusal to get any further involved in their situation.

Kohaku let go the moment she heard Anko acquiesce. There was no point in forcing her into further embarrassment at that stage. At this point, an outsider would have believed that Anko was the only one there taking the situation seriously, so she couldn’t have that.

But, from letting go of her embrace, Kohaku could only gaze upon suspicion upon the parting gift left behind by the girl who was all to eager to cut off her own involvement. For what it was worth, Kohaku was fully aware of the current state of affairs. She had clearly gotten involved in some shady business, so if she had to guess, the contents of that ‘gift’ was likely equally as shady.

If Anko decided it was necessary to reveal the contents to her, she would. If Anko would give Kohaku enough information that they could both combine their heads, she would. In the end, that bottleneck was reality, even if she planned to widen it.

“Thanks, Ai-chan.”

So, she smiled—at least as diplomatically as she could, though it was clearly not a good one.

Given where she stood, it was only natural that was all she could do.
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Thu May 14, 2020 11:06 pm

“I am against that idea obviously, but mainly for the reason that it will be unlikely to work. This is Academy City, if the authorities were to cordon off an area and impose access control, I am certain merely a change of clothes and some make up will not suffice.”

"I agree with Hirashi here. A simple disguise won't get you into the garden. Considering it further, Reina probably doesn't have any identification on her, so getting her in would be just as hard. Unfortunately, as it stands only Watabe and I would be able to enter with no issues so we may have to take that option off the table."

Upon hearing what Saito and Aoki just said, Tsubasa couldn’t hold her laughter anymore and burst into laughing out loud.

“Old man, get a grip of yourself. Did you seriously think they’d agree to such a ridiculous plan? You ended up embarrassing yourself, and being the laughingstock of the group. Aren’t you supposed the “mature adult figure” in this group or whatever?” , she couldn’t help but provoke him.

“I-it was a joke—” , not wanting to give the girl any fodder she could use against him, Aizawa poorly tried to make excuses for his blunder, only to fail spectacularly, because she interrupted him in order to mock him even more, with a huge smug grin, knowing that she cornered him.

“Yeah, sure, sure, it was a joke!”

*crack*

The sound caught her attention. She noticed the e-pad that he was holding had quite a visible scratch now, probably from the force of pressure under his fingers.

“Watabe-kun... would you do me the courtesy of shutting up that cursed mouth of yours?” , the team coach said, as a dangerously ominous and menacing aura emanated from him.

‘Uwah! He’s pissed off again...’

“Ahaha... don’t mind me then! I’m simply gonna go over there next to Reina-chan!” , she yelled as she made a dash, in a attempt to run as far away from the scary manager as possible.

“Yo! Missed me yet?” , she playfully winked at the white-haired girl when she was standing next to her.

After a fake cough, the manager turned his attention to the rest of the group.

“I am sorry that you had to witness such disgraceful behavior from that clown— no, from both of us, when this is a serious meeting” , he said as he bowed slightly, apologetically.

It was during these rare moments that one could see he was used to working in the corporate environment of Japan. It was just that that the presence of that troublesome child, Tsubasa, that makes him forget his "manners" everytime, because she never truly treated him like her manager, she was too crude for that. So their interactions felt more human to him than any other client he had. And deep down, he was thankful. He liked the symbiotic relationship that they had, even if it did come with some headaches.

He decided to address the rest of the group honestly.

“My previous suggestion was absurd, indeed. It has somehow slipped my mind that a simple disguise wouldn’t make it past the security. But good job, both of you, for catching that. I’m glad I’m working with such bright young minds. I nearly put all of us in danger. So, you have my thanks. Now we need to think about our next move.”

After pondering for a few moments, he added:

“I think it would be wise, if we retrace back Reina’s steps. This is the least we should do if we hope to even begin to understand the situation we are in. We need to understand how she ended up wandering in such an alleyway in the first place. We might also discover things about her background by doing so. Perhaps we could even find some useful hints for other questions in the process of doing this. Give me any other suggestions that you might have."

"So", he finally addressed the frail girl calmly to not make her feel threatened or overwhelmed by being the center of attention again "Reina-chan, you can come closer to us now, and if you could help us look over your steps once more, alright?”

_________________
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Fri May 15, 2020 6:50 pm

Shortly after, Kisaragi and Kohaku parted ways with Ichigo Ai.

With the latter’s goodbye gift being more than generous, she may have had left them more than she was supposed to. Not only had that bag contained a perfectly new Shed Shell body armour disguised as a grey tracksuit with white features, but also a burner phone and a number of prepaid money cards containing a respectable sum all together.

However, even with this overwhelmingly good assistance, they weren’t able to remain still.

Therefore, once they had completed their shopping adventure, the duo of fugitives, too, left behind that shop.

District 7, 22:00

Under the lead of their one and only true professional the two girls had wandered far across the city all day long. Not pausing too much they visited place after place, never stopping for more than just a few minutes – not even for meals.

They had been looking for something. But what exactly would be left unspoken. Naturally.

In the end, that journey had taken the two of them to the back alleys of District 7. A place they may have visited more than just once that day.

Clearly this area was not a place for two girls in their prime to pass through this late at night. It had already gotten dark, but instead of relieving that condition the streetlights in the area failed their purpose, actually making the narrow side streets even gloomier than they would have been in a pitch black night.

Entirely unaffected by these surroundings Kisaragi Anko had taken the lead. In addition to her new tracksuit she wore white simple but comfy trainers, a white bucket hat and the blue version of a certain idols very first (and ultra rare) tour shirt she had bought at the second hand store.

«Stay close, Kohaku. Don’t fall behind. Don’t look around too much. And if you see someone don’t look into their eyes.»

The rules of this area had been simple but also drastic. Abiding to them was essential.

Still, her level of tenseness visibly to exceeded her usual.
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Post  Kira Kohaku Sat May 16, 2020 7:34 am

Night had fallen. Under the great, starless black canopy, within the alleyway that lay scattered about in the school district, two girls scurried about. Though, one could be mistaken as to whether those two girls within the alleyway were even meant to be with each other.

As one wore the sporty and somewhat drab outfit that one would call a tracksuit, the other wore a blue t-shirt with some net-like design, a pair of capris, a necklace, and a handbag. While one was more used to this kind of escapade (even if she was tense), the other clearly lacked that sort of experience. To be frank, one could almost say the strange combination was reminiscent of a commoner girl and a princess escaping for a moonlit tryst.

Yes, Kohaku was not comfortable at all within this alleyway. For what it was worth though, it was hardly the accumulated dirt and grime that one would find in a back-alley that caused her to shrink inwards. Even if it made her want to clean up, that was no reason for her to shrink inwards and towards Anko.

«Stay close, Kohaku. Don’t fall behind. Don’t look around too much. And if you see someone don’t look into their eyes.»

“Right. Loud and clear.”

There were times for being lackadaisical and there were times for being serious enough to not capitulate to ones fears. Though sometimes, it was said being lackadaisical would be a strong method to press out against fear. That tactless girl really didn't know which was the best approach.

But, as much as Kohaku thought through it, it probably wasn’t the right time for her to try and pull another embrace, no matter how much she wanted to break the tension.

“How much longer till the next stop?”
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Sat May 16, 2020 6:26 pm

«We’re almost there.»

The voice she’d use for the reply was quite close to that of father on a family road trip. However, its source wasn’t the mental exhaustion of being nagged into the oblivion but her feelings for what laid ahead.

Kisaragi Anko had been oddly tense this entire time.

After another fifteen minutes of walking through these shady grounds, the two of them entered a building that looked just as run down as the rest. Graffiti, stickers and torn up posters had become part of both its outside and inside decoration. The lights on the hallways didn’t work except for those that signalled the emergency exits. The echo of loud voices could be heard in the distance. They may have been sourced in cheerful excitement, yet all of that was lost in the gloomy darkness of the surroundings.

However, straight towards them was where they were headed.

Down the hardly visible stairs, until they arrived in the basement. Then through a door, followed by a corridor and another door. A short path in reality but a tedious one in their minds. Especially Kisaragi’s.

In the end, though, they came to a halt before one final closed door.

The voices had gotten very loud at this point. While the contents of their words were impossible to decipher just yet, their sounds left the impression of a party held by ruffians.

«Whatever you do. Stay on your guard.»

The tracksuit girl had tensed up immensely as she laid her hand on the door’s knob.

Catching one last breath she’d push it open.

And what awaited them there was…

«Oi, Hamazura! There is clearly a difference between second rate bunny girls and the first rate track suit girl! What worth is there when you see the big bouncers right away! Exploring the treasures slumbering behind the mystifying wall of a puffed jacket is the real deal! Just think of the first bounce that comes when you pull down the zipper on the lady’s jacket!!!»

One boy in an all black but cross patterned outfit shouted.

«Besides! What’s the point of an obedient shy bunny girl if ya can make a strong lady grow all soft in your arms!! The lady melting like snow on the first spring day, that’s the real thing!!!»

A passionate argument was raging between that boy and another.

The room wasn’t that large, but it somehow managed to contain many boxes, a pile of empty beer  and soda cans, as well as three boys sitting around a crate serving as a makeshift table. There was an odd mixture of cheap American and Japanese fast food spread out on paper plates resting there. However, with how strangely their overly fatty smell had mixed with the building’s inherent mustiness, none of it could be interpreted as in any way appetising.

«Do you even listen to yourself?! Who the hell wants a fucking meathead! It’s about the elegance! The classiness! The classy stuff! Like, who the fuck expects a bunny girl anywhere else than some noble lounge you’d have to pay big to enter in the first place?!»

The other boy, a dyed blond in an brown hoody jacket barked back.

«…»

However, amidst that raging argument between two obvious drunks sat a third boy, tall like a gorilla and clad in a black leather jacket and pants, remaining all silent. Not because didn’t wish to bothered, but because he understood that they’d turn on him any moment they smelled the opportunity.

Those three were Hattori Hanzou, Hamazura Shiage and Komaba Ritoku. Exactly the type one didn’t wish to get involved with. Yes, that kind of dumb street thug.

«…hey you…!!»

Their sight alone may have caused Kisaragi to tense up even more, however, the contents of their mindless bickering had been what nearly blew to smithereens her self restraint.

Fortunately for her and them, them noticing the presence of their guests quickly killed the jolly atmosphere.

«What the hell?! You!?»

Instead, with the boy pulling his gun on her and sinking three bullets into her chest right off the bat, that shabby room’s air had become awfully tense.

Truly, an awkward reunion.
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Post  Kira Kohaku Tue May 19, 2020 6:37 am

It was truly strange what they had come across. After navigating through what was a series of alleyways, the two of them had come upon a place that looked like it had been marked as territory—at the very least, that’s what the graffiti, stickers and posters seemed to imply. Kohaku wasn’t sure whether places left alone were devoid of that or whether places abandoned would have their markings removed or replaced. After all, she had been living out more of the delinquent life in the past 14 hours than she had throughout her entire life.

But, it was quite the experience nonetheless.

The narrow and complex-seeming set of corridors and doors that they passed through led to a singular location that was clearly being occupied.

Between the empty cans and a scent reminiscent of a fast food restaurant combined with a ramen shop, that alone should have been enough to signal Kohaku in on that, but the lively discussion on the occupants’ personal fetishes were definitely icing on the cake.

If she had to put it in a few words, it was like a stereotypical bar scene from a western movie.

But, within a few seconds of Anko grabbing the boys’ attention…

A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story) - Page 5 Hamazu10

He shot her. Three times even.

The irony of Hanzou shooting a girl in a tracksuit almost instantly did not escape Hamazura, but he could hold off bringing that up till later. There was a proper time and place for that.

The other girl who had not been shot stared wide-eyed at the tracksuit girl who had crumpled onto the floor all too easily. But, that flash of fear left her as quickly as it made itself known as she kneeled to the ground and placed one pair of fingers to the collapsed girl’s neck and one to the wrist.

“What?” Hamazura could only find himself staring dumbfounded at the sight. The girl had calmly focused on her collapsed comrade before muttering a few things he couldn’t hear and sighing, what looked like one of relief.
If Hamazura had to guess…

“She’s not dead, Hanzou.”

“Yeah, what gives?” The girl crossed her arms in defiance as she looked towards the culprit. “We just walk in here and the first thing you do is shoot? What’s wrong with you?”

Was...she serious? Did she not realize where she had walked into or who she was talking back to? That girl was either seriously off her rocker or she was acutely aware of everything that was going on and still had enough confidence to talk back.

Hamazura Shiage was a dumb thug, and that meant that he knew exactly what was necessary in this situation as he pulled out his own weapon and pointed it at the one still standing.

“Why are you here?”

“To be honest...I just followed Anko-chan’s lead, so the only one who knows is her.”

What? How was he even supposed to respond to that? His glance darted towards both Komaba and Hanzou, but he was completely at a loss for words at this point. After all, he was not particularly a leaderly or diplomatic type.
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Wed May 20, 2020 10:07 am

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It wasn’t that over exaggerated for Hattori Hanzou to shoot the girl like this on first sight. Had it been anyone else it may have, but in this particular case there hadn’t been any other choice. Situations like this needed to be resolved in a single strike. People this dangerous had to be dealt with immediately.

And yet even after he had executed her, her comrade would jump to her side checking her vitals only to visibly show relief.

«She’s not dead, Hanzou.»

To the delinquent that hadn’t been a surprise, nor any reminder to stay on guard. He hadn’t lowered the gun at any point, after all. He’d keep it aimed perfectly at the girl on the ground, his finger itching to press the trigger some more.

«Ngh…»

An action that was hardly incorrect, given the pain laden groan that assassin let loose.

«Look. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done so…»

«And? Does that make any difference to where we stand?»

Given everything that had happened, pointing the shaft of a gun at her with the full intention to kill, was the bare minimum of a precaution. In his eyes, she could be glad he hadn’t added more bullets on top.

«So, why are you here? Give me one reason not to finish you right now.»

That black clad delinquent’s words were thrown at her like a whip. However, no whip’s pain could rival the one she currently felt in her chest. The tracksuit’s bouncy material may have blocked the bullets, but it hadn’t done well in absorbing the impact. Being shot hurt.

Still, that was only half the reason she laid there with her back on the floor.

«I need information. My net of contacts has been cut off, making you people my only choice.»

To Kisaragi and her larger than life pride admitting this alone may have been an even greater pain. That was how far out of hand the situation had gotten.

«And why would we help you? Don’t you have your clan backing you up? Why come to some normal folks instead? Hell, why come to your sworn enemy?»

Hanzou bit back without hesitating. However, this time he’d switch the target of his gun.

«And who’s she? She doesn’t strike me as a Fuuma. But that could be a ruse, too. So what’s her deal?»

Things were about to get out of hand again. While she hadn’t minded standing at gun point, seeing it happen to that little princess was a different story.

«I’m not with the Fuuma anymore. That day…my entire group turned on me…and was wiped out by Academy City. I’m the only survivor. They took me in. The city’s darkness did. Not for shelter. As a prisoner.»

Even under the immense pain the three bullets had inflicted upon her, that girl’s scary eyes would shine as she slowly raised her upper body to face the man she had once called – no, she still would – her greatest enemy.

What did her pride matter anymore? What did anything matter anymore?

She’d bare it all.

«This is proof of that.»

Speaking in her most fearless voice, she’d point her finger at the black collar around her neck. While at first glance it may have the appeal of a standard fashion accessory, in truth it was a devious piece of technology capable of ending her life any moment.

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Post  Guy Li Sun May 24, 2020 4:39 am

Natsumi's phone rang. Strange. There weren't many people with that number. It was her private 'work' phone, after all. The caller ID confirmed that this was no social call.

The call was coming from her handler, Miyako.

"Oh Hujisaka-san, so you are alive after all~" Miyako sounded like she wanted to say something, but was acting intentionally coy to hold back her own frustration. "It's usually polite to inform your associates when you escape captivity. It's not nice to make people worry about you." It was easy to picture her face right now. That sweet, false smile hiding fierce anger. "If you're quite done playing the damsel in distress, perhaps you could get around to doing a job for me?" She was quite clearly speaking through clenched teeth as she addressed the girl down the phone.

***

“I think it would be wise, if we retrace back Reina’s steps. This is the least we should do if we hope to even begin to understand the situation we are in. We need to understand how she ended up wandering in such an alleyway in the first place. We might also discover things about her background by doing so. Perhaps we could even find some useful hints for other questions in the process of doing this. Give me any other suggestions that you might have."

"So, Reina-chan, you can come closer to us now, and if you could help us look over your steps once more, alright?”

Reina felt something like stage fright come over her. They were relying on her, and she didn't want to let them down. So she forced herself to breathe slowly and steadily as she replied. Hopefully that would keep them from seeing how anxious she truly was. Looking up at the manager who stood significantly taller than herself, Reina matched his gaze and gave a very deliberate, purposeful nod.

"Let's do it." She sounded ready. But she certainly didn't feel ready.

...

They had come to the end of the alleyway Reina had emerged from. They had come alone, just a few of them, as it had been decided that too large a crowd risked attracting attention. It would be best for them to act as covertly as possible, at least for now.

Reina felt her pulse quicken just a step as she entered that alleyway. So I came from this direction... She felt along the wall with her hand as they went deeper and soon reached an intersection. "I took a left here, I think... so..." She started along the next path. The gentle rasp of her trainers on the loose gravel reminded her of the pain she had felt running over it barefoot. She pulled up the loose hoody about her ears and hunched her shoulders. The borrowed clothing was bigger than her small frame, but it was better than a hospital gown.

As they drew further in Reina's head started to grow fuzzy. The static-like feeling returned in waves, punctuated by sharp, welling pain in those moments of clarity between. She gritted her teeth and kept walking. If the others were speaking to her, then she didn't hear them. She just kept walking, and her pace picked up until she was nearly jogging, deeper into that maze.

...

When Reina regained awareness she was standing in front of a metal door set into a brick wall. She turned about in panic and called out.

"Tsubasa!? Aiko? Saito?" They were the only names she could think of right now. Had she lost them?

***
«Sorry, Tsuchimikado! But this time around it’s another round of girls only talk!»

He started to utter a word of protest but was quickly cut off by Touko's quiet aside.

«If you go now, I promise I’ll put in a good word for you. OK?!»

Gritting his teeth as if in pain, he winced and stepped away.

"Damn." He looked to Hana, then back down the empty road. Then back to Hana again. He stopped, took a deep breath and sighed, shoulders falling in defeat. "Fine. But I'll hold you to that." Standing alone, the sunglasses-wearing boy (even though it was night.) watched from afar as his friend left him behind. She was going somewhere he could not follow...

He could almost hear the solemn stirring of a violin in the distance.

"It's time." Tanimoto Hana nodded in affirmation of Touko's question. "Alice and I have found something useful. I think you should see it, too."

***

Guy stood in front of the kitchen stove, gently turning the pan in his hands to toss the contents up in a controlled arc. On the couch across from him, Rachel was chattering non stop over the sound of the television.

"What's with this old thing, anyway? I thought this city was supposed to have all the latest gadgets but you're still stuck with this piece of junk." She hammered the buttons on the remote to the boxy old set. "And isn't this a student dorm? I thought you teachers got your own apartments? And come to think of it, this is a high school dorm, no less. Shouldn't you be living with the other university students."

"It's a long story..." Guy muttered sourly. He looked up to find Rachel staring at the pan of rice and vegetables, her mouth open eyes wide. It had been the longest she had been silent for some time.

"Maybe you are good at something, after all. That doesn't look too bad. But I'd have to try some to be sure." She continued, breaking that record-length silence. Guy rolled his eyes.

"If you're quiet and sit still you can have some." Guy said. Rachel fell silent immediately, sitting upright with her legs crossed and her hands in her lap with intense concentration written across her face. Her cheeks puffed out as though she was physically having to hold back the words that threatened to bubble forth.

She remained like that for the time it took him to finish cooking, and when he arrived in front of her with a bowl full of food, she stared at it, practically drooling.

"What, they don't feed you at your dorms?" He set the bowl down on the low table in front of her.

"Pssh. Us orphans don't get squat." Rachel greedily shoveled a heap of rice into her mouth, speaking with full cheeks. "No one gives a damn about us. We're lucky to even get hot showers most days. The hot water runs out halfway through most nights." She grumbled.

She was quiet for a moment, as though figuring out how to summarise it all.

"It sucks." She looked down into her bowl and chewed at the inside of her lip.

Guy gave her a nudge on the shoulder and she managed a small smile.

"It sucks being alone."

"What, I don't count or something?" Guy asked, throwing his arm around her shoulders and shaking her. Rachel wriggled free and jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow.

"Who would want to be friends with you?" She stuck out her tongue.

"Plenty of people."

"Yeah, right. I can see." She pointed to the cast on his arm. "No one even signed your cast, loser." She sneered playfully. "Tell you what, if you want, I can be the first. Then at least you can pretend to have one friend."

"I'll pass, thanks."

"Blah!" Rachel stuck out her tongue again. After a few moments of blissful silence she said something quietly. "Tonight was fun, right?"

"Yeah." He agreed.

"Let's hang out again. Tomorrow."

"Sure."

"Promise."

"I promise. We'll hang out again tomorrow."

...

Guy yawned, looking down at his watch. It was late, now and he rubbed his eyes.

"I think I'm calling it a n-" He looked down to the girl beside him. Her blonde head was resting against his arm and she was breathing deeply and peacefully. She was asleep.

Guy chuckled to himself and gently stood up. He placed a pillow under her head and a blanket over her before laying down on the floor to sleep.
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Post  Aoki Aiko Tue May 26, 2020 4:05 pm

“I think it would be wise, if we retrace back Reina’s steps. This is the least we should do if we hope to even begin to understand the situation we are in. We need to understand how she ended up wandering in such an alleyway in the first place. We might also discover things about her background by doing so. Perhaps we could even find some useful hints for other questions in the process of doing this. Give me any other suggestions that you might have. Reina-chan, you can come closer to us now, and if you could help us look over your steps once more, alright?”

"Lets do it."

With that it seems the impromptu team had decided on their next course of action. Retracing Reina's steps seems like a decent plan, especially since it would mean putting some distance between them an the studio. If they were tracking her, then the studio was already a known location. Moving locations with Aiko still preventing any GPS signals meant that it would be much harder for them to locate her. Aiko only qualm with the plan was the chance that the people she escaped from may still be in the area. As far as Aiko's was concerned, there were two possibilities. Either they caught up to her because they were tracking her, or the place she escaped from was very close by to where they found her.

The group all piled into a single van to make their way back towards the alley. They had decided a large group may draw unwanted attention so the numbers were kept small. On the way, Aiko was preoccupied with her phone, searching the internet for a method of opening a .XYZ file. Before long however they arrived back at the alley.

As they entered the Alley, Reina started retracing the path she had taken while running away.

"I took a left here, I think... so..."

Aiko was sticking close to Reina to make sure she remained within her shell at all times so when she suddenly picked up the pace and started jogging back through the alleyway, She wasn't too thrown off. Aiko wasn't too too fast so Reina managed to get a little be ahead of her, but she was still in the range of her shell so Aiko could follow without issues. It seemed Reina was caught up in her jog that she had lost sense of her surrounding a bit, Aiko could tell she rounded a corner and then stopped. Followed by a concerned call for her new protectors.

"Tsubasa!? Aiko? Saito?"

After a few seconds, Aiko rounded the corner and rejoined with Reina.

"Don't worry, I'm still with you, hopefully the others didn't fall behind."


Aiko glanced over at the large metal door, just noticing it for the first time.

"Was this the place you escaped from?"

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Post  Kira Kohaku Wed May 27, 2020 6:18 am

A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story) - Page 5 Hamazu10

The situation had gotten completely out of hand for the girls. They clearly had very little bargaining power at this point given that they were facing the unreasonable end of a gun at this point. That much was clear to Hamazura.

There was no need to butt in. He could keep ready, but he had no need to intrude upon Hanzou’s offensive when it was clear that it was his own little skirmish to face. A dumb thug like Hamazura had no need to intrude upon that. He merely needed to keep his hand trained on his own weapon and be ready to support Hanzou when he needed the assist.

After all, it was hardly like he was leader material enough to reign him in.

«This is proof of that.»

Now, Hamazura Shiage was a dumb thug. So, the response he had to that was the obvious one.

“What exactly is that?” He sneered at the young kunoichi.

Though, if one thought about it, the answer should have been just as obvious. A device placed around the neck as a restraint for a wild animal.

“It’s a collar. Shouldn’t that be obvious?” The one who spoke in defiance was the other girl who felt completely out of place in all of this. “I have no idea what your history is, but as someone who was pulled into all of this unwittingly, I can only say this. Are you guys idiots? If you’re enemies, you should realize that she’s baring her underbelly because she’s desperate! People say I’m clueless, but you guys actually sound worse than me!”

She was fuming. The princess was definitely fuming. But, she wasn't the only one getting riled up.

“HEY. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, BARGING IN HERE AND INSULTING US?”

Ah, Hamazura Shiage was truly a dumb thug.
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Post  Saito Hirashi Sat May 30, 2020 9:44 pm

As the manager suggested, returning to where they found Gown Girl and retracing her steps would be a good course of action. It may even lead to where she was held captive and allow them to turn the tables into an offensive.

However…

God damn she is fast!
Hirashi, who was never one known for his athletic ability, had to break into a run in order to keep pace with Gown Girl as she zipped through the alleys, paying no heed to their calls. As she ran around yet another corner, Hirashi heard his name being called out, alongside the names of No More Hoodie Girl and Mad Biker. Expecting trouble, Hirashi slowed down and approached the corner quietly before peeking around it.

It turned out No More Hoodie Girl was ahead of him, and the two were looking at a metal door set into the wall near them. Not bothering to announce his presence, Hirashi began his preparations for a fight.

“If retracing her steps led the subject back to this door…”
Hirashi thought as he readied the nails and bolts he scavenged from the studio earlier and crouched down.
“Then it will be likely this is where she was held captive!”
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:03 am

It had been decided to cut their numbers down to the maximum, to avoid attracting attention. So Aizawa ended up waiting for them back in the van along with most of the professionals.

Normally, he'd have told the kids to stay here and send the grown-ups to deal with this instead, but this time was a special case, just as Tsubasa made clear with her previous declaration to protect the girl herself.

He would've wanted to accompany them as well, but alas, he wasn't exactly the most physically fit of the group and would just get in the way during the mission, and most likely be an easy target in case of danger.

Seeing the worry and dissatisfaction on his face, Tsubasa decided to talk to him.

"Aizawa-saaan, don't worry about us! We'll be back soon", she said with her hands in her pockets, while giving him her back, walking away to join the rest of the group.

He just smiled at her, not saying a word, not wanting to say any goodbyes.

'Take care of yourselves, kids.', he prayed for their safety.





To be honest, the alleyway was kind of creepy. Too dark for Tsubasa's tastes. She wasn't scared of course, she was used to adventuring in such places, but she didn't like the thought that Reina had to pass through here all alone, scared for her life, earlier today. It just didn't sit well with her.

However, she noticed that said girl was so immersed in her task that she completely disconnected from her surroundings at the moment, as if she couldn't see or hear any of the three protectors anymore.

Suddenly, Reina picked up her pace, and started running.

As she was deep in thought, it took Tsubasa a couple seconds to snap out of it and follow suit. So she was the last of them to start running. However, because she was quite fast and athletic, it barely took her a few seconds to catch up, effectively outrunning Saito, who seemed to be struggling to keep up. The middle schooler however, was quite the runner herself. Tsubasa decided to slow down a bit and continued running next to the Tokiwadai girl, behind Reina.

However, she couldn't resist but tease the guy behind them who was excruciatingly slow compared to the rest of them.

She looked behind, slowed down a bit more, and grinned smugly. He probably understood what she was gonna say from her facial expression.

"Buu, you're too slow, Saito!", she said while sticking out her tongue.

After a few other minutes of running, just as Tsubasa was at the right corner, she heard Reina calling for them, worry in her voice. So she run up to her, leaving a causcious Saito behind.

"We're here, we're here~"

She approached the white-haired girl and ruffled her hair.

"You won't be alone from now on, so, I don't want to see you worried like this again, alright?"

She took a few moments to contemplate the gate before them, and let out a whistle.

"So big~"

It then started to click in her mind.

"Hmmmm? Umm... guys? Where is this pla—?"

Just as she was about to ask, the other two seemed to answer already. Well, technically they were talking to Reina.

"Was this the place you escaped from?"

“If retracing her steps led the subject back to this door… then it will be likely this is where she was held captive!”

They said it.

They truly said what she feared was the case!

"............................"

"HUUUUUUUUUUH?!"

"Wait wait wait wait! Just wait a minute!! Why are we taking Reina-chan back to this place?! I thought we were going to keep her away from here and take her back to where she lived or something?! Was this the plan that you guys put in place with that idiot Aizawa all along?! What the fuck is going ooooooooooon!"

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