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» A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story)
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A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story)

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Post  Hujisaka Natsumi on Mon Nov 09, 2020 5:52 pm

Natsumi rose an eyebrow, but certainly not out of surprise. It was more that she was waiting for the boy to develop on this “bit of information” he had delivered. Dark side workers had a thing with broken statements of which you had to assemble all elements in order to figure out something that should’ve been outright said from the get-go.

“Yeah, well, she did strike me as the type to not exactly avoid minefields from the little I’d met her.” Natsumi retorted, thinking back on their first, rather unpleasant meeting. “So? Why was the little pink-haired child told to go and stay to her room and not meet with strangers outside? I thought her whole deal was being some kind of standoffish messenger?”
__

"So what do we do? Dump her somewhere and forget about the whole thing?"

"I dunno, just... let me think."

A cold sweat broke out on the forehead of the girl who had awoken a couple of minutes ago, but had decided against evidently showing it to her abductors.

For once that she had decided to perhaps roam the city freely…!!!

(Uwaaaah… Am I even in Academy City anymore?! From what they’re saying, they weren’t aiming to kidnap Natsumi-chan specifically, so that means they’re kidnapping random espers? And low levelled ones because they wouldn’t be missed? But why? Am I going to be dissected if they find out I’m not actually an esper?! Uweeeeeh….!!!)

She cried internally but maintained that sleeping face of hers – something that would be quite a terrifying display if anyone was aware of it.
Why was this city never peaceful?!
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Post  Aoki Aiko on Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:41 pm

"Everyone, shut up! Quit fucking around, or I swear to God..."

The boy was getting agitated, this was bad. If they kept pushing him too hard, there was a chance he'd actually kill Saito. Aiko may be a dark side agent, but she hadn't been one long enough to develop a cold unfeeling persona and she had no plans on letting her ally die here. It was then she felt a slight tug on her sleeve.

"He's lying. He's more afraid of that knife than we are."

It was Reina. Her voice quiet, but the resolve in her deceleration was firm and Aiko believed her. Aiko didn't know how Reina knew this, but if this group was kidnapping espers, it could just be that her ability clued her in or that she was just good at reading people. Unfortunately, Aiko was not the only one that heard her message.

"WHY EVEN CARRY IT ON YOU IF YOU'RE THIS SCARED OF IT??? I got it! You're tryina play it cool and badass! Like a real gangsta and stuff! Hahahahaha! Man, that's so lame and stupid! I mean it in a good way, you seem like a funny dude! Hey! I like you, let's be friends!"

She really was an idiot wasn't she. Aiko was dumbfounded for a moment. Insulting the person with a knife to their ally's throat and then immediately after making a deceleration of friendship. Aiko couldn't put together the way her mind was working in that moment.

“You know, I only met her a few hours ago, and I actually thought she was okay up until just now. If I die here I’m definitely gonna return as a ghost and haunt her and her big mouth.”

Now there's a sentiment I can agree with...

This was a situation that needed to be diffused as soon as possible before someone got killed.

"While I can't say I'm of a like mind to our punchy friend here, I can say that I'm fairly certain all of us would love to leave the room in one piece."

At this, Aiko slid her two laser pointers back into her pockets, though she kept her hand on one just in case.

"Right now, this situation looks bad for everyone. Your back is against the wall and the life of our ally is in your hands. But you don't want to kill anyone do you? If you do, you won't get away and will spend the rest of your life locked up. So here's what I'm offering. We came here looking for information. If you answer all the questions we have about this operation and what's been going on, you can go. Saito there will remove shrapnel from your arm and we'll all walk out of here safe and in one piece. How does that sound?"

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Post  Guy Li on Thu Nov 12, 2020 2:40 pm

How had he managed to mess up this badly? This was embarrassing. Shameful even. The others would never let him live it down. Kenji would probably give him the beating of a lifetime. That was assuming he made it out of here in one piece. Because in his mind, getting killed here was a very real possibility.

What was the best thing he could do in this situation? He wasn't the kind of hardened fighter who dealt with this kind of thing regularly. In fact, he'd always thought of himself as a bit of a coward. The only reason he'd taken a chance this time was because he figured his gift would make it one-sided. But he'd been mistaken.

And he wasn't good at thinking under pressure. At all. The pain wasn't helping, either. Right now that was the main thing occupying his attention. Not the fear of going to prison or the treatment he'd receive from Kenji and the others.

The biker was mocking him now, and the sly bastard in his grip was talking, too. It was all too much to take in.

Then the girl with the laser pointers started to talk as well, and his grasp on his sanity nearly slipped completely.

"Right now, this situation looks bad for everyone. Your back is against the wall and the life of our ally is in your hands. But you don't want to kill anyone do you? If you do, you won't get away and will spend the rest of your life locked up. So here's what I'm offering. We came here looking for information. If you answer all the questions we have about this operation and what's been going on, you can go. Saito there will remove shrapnel from your arm and we'll all walk out of here safe and in one piece. How does that sound?"

Yosuke swallowed hard. It wasn't a good deal. If Kenji found out he'd cracked then he'd wind up with broken legs at least.

But the pain...

And if he kept them talking long enough, his backup would arrive. Yeah, talking was his best option here.

"Okay." Yosuke sounded out of breath as he relented. "Okay. You got a deal." He kept the tip of the knife pressed to Saito's throat just in case it was a trick.

***

Two down, one to go. Touko could almost be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief. One on one was much better odds. She might actually win this.

Had it not been for the fact that the third attacker was already on top of her. She'd overcommitted to finishing the second assailant and placed herself in a dangerous position. The pointed end of a crowbar was poised to stab down. Sacrificing her arm was the only option here. Not that she had time to think so rationally, her hand was already raised to ward off the attack.

"Oh come on..."

The odd inflection of a foreign voice interrupted Touko's mental preparation for the approaching pain. The blonde girl from her apartment, Alice, stood behind the Skill Out with a firm grip on the crowbar. Touko wilted a little from the expression on her face that looked down at her with a mixture of pity and scorn. Almost as if she was saying 'is that all you're capable of?'. Alice's arm coiled about the Skill Out's and a quick step pivoted both of them about the narrow alleyway, driving the boy's face into the rough brick wall with a hollow crack that made Touko wince.

"So, what do you think?" Hana asked coolly from behind Touko.

"I'll give her 6 out of 10. Mainly for fighting spirit." Alice replied, dusting off her hands and offering one to help Touko to her feet.

***

August 21st 20:00

Rachel smirked to herself as she knocked on the door to Guy's apartment. In her pocket was a cool 5000 yen. Money she'd made from selling the capsule toys she'd expertly tracked down and extracted the previous night. “I don't see you pulling in a paycheque. 500 Yen is a pack of smokes to me, you understand?" She recalled Guy's complaints as he'd handed over the coin. Now she was the one with money, Rachel couldn't wait to rub it in his face. It was enough to pay him back for the magazine and the food he'd given her. She'd even bought chocolate for dessert.

No reply.

The blonde girl shrugged her shoulders and sat down on the staircase of the dormitory complex.

She could wait.

He'd definitely be back soon.

***

“Here looks good.” Michiko pointed to the small bar that sat discreetly on the corner of an alleyway and a main street. There weren;t many places in the city one could buy alcohol. And the majority of them were busy with off duty researchers, custodial staff, and teachers like themselves. When the majority of the population were students, adults had to take a back seat when it came to entertainment. Finding somewhere with a relaxing, cozy vibe to it was a tall order.

“Sure. Let's give it a look.” Guy slid open the door and was greeted by the unmistakable aroma of beer and Japanese whiskey. The lights were low and the décor was a little tacky, but it was quiet and it served alcohol. Which meant it was ideal.

***

Rachel looked down at her phone. The battery was dying and it was getting late. She angrily gobbled up the last of the chocolate and pouted. She was hungry and it was the only thing she had with her to eat. She could have gone to the convenience store, of course, but she wanted to be here when Guy got back. To make him feel guilty of course.

What a dick, making her wait this long. She didn't want to hear his excuses. Only a grovelling apology would do to appease her.

She'd wait, just to give him a piece of her mind.

***

“I've heard the rumours.” Michiko prodded her food with her chopsticks as she looked over at the young man opposite her with a teasing smile. “You got your arm broken in a fight, didn't you?”

Guy put on a frown in mock offense.

“Me? You think I'm the kind of person who gets into fights?” His transparent attempt at looking innocent fell flat. He was, after all, a young, vaguely foreign-looking man in a cheap suit that wouldn't have looked out of place on a low ranking yakuza. In other words, he was shady as hell.

“Well, I didn't believe it at first, but you know, word gets around.”

“Did they say why I was fighting in the first place?” He tried to sound disinterested, but truth be told he was curious too. Curious just what had gotten out about the incident.

“Something about a girl. See, that's what makes me think it's true. You strike me as just the sort of person to act like a wannabe knight in shining armour...”

“Is that so?” He brushed it off with a short chuckle and looked down at his plate. There was a long pause, as if both of them knew the conversation was the wrong sort of topic to be discussing over dinner. “It's awful.”

“Hmm?”

“Fighting. It's awful. When you get in a fight. A real fight. And you're not sure you're going to make it out the other side. It's not what might happen to you that's the worst of it. You don't have time to think about that sort of thing.” His frown was real this time. “It's the things you do that are the worst. Because you have to live with them afterwards.” Accelerator's neck had been in his grip that night. “It shows you what kind of person you really are.” He had put all his strength into ending things at that moment.

“Fighting is horrible and messy. Even if you walk away you don't really win. Anything you get out of it just ends up ruined.” He nodded as if reaching a conclusion in his own mind. “Fighting's not really worth it.” He looked up at Michiko with a bitter smile.

***

The last monorail back to her dorm would be long gone by now. The streets outside were quiet and she hadn't seen anyone in at least an hour.

The bare concrete steps were uncomfortable to sit on. The only good thing was that it was Summer, so she didn't have to worry about getting cold. In fact it was pretty warm. Rachel drew her knees up to her chest and hugged them, burying her face as she clenched her jaw. She wanted a shower. Not that she'd have gotten one back at her place. The hot water would have been long gone anyway. She was hungry, but she didn't want to eat. She was too mad to think about food. She wanted to curl up in her bed and forget about tonight.

That bastard.

The same thoughts kept looping through her anger clouded mind. The same words she'd say, and the same feeble excuses he'd make. She'd be sure to let him have it.  That bastard who'd broken his promise. That bastard who'd brushed her off like she was nothing. That bastard who'd left her to sit here alone.

That bastard. That bastard. That bastard.

She was so angry she could scream.

But she'd wait, because she had nowhere else to go.
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa on Fri Nov 13, 2020 8:28 pm

Why did Saito and Aiko give her such bewildered looks? Why were they saying words filled of indignation towards her? She could even swear that she heard someone, somewhere, say Are you mental? Do you have a death wish?

'Who's there?', she looked around, but...

'My imagination again... this is becoming really bad, man.'

But what did everyone mean? What made Saito and Aoki react that way? She really didn't get it. Did she say something wrong? She just wanted to make a new friend!

... as much of a friend a person could be for her.

She thought things would go south. If everyone was so desperate to calm the blondie, then she must've really angered him... it wasn't her intention to do so, of course! But it probably was best to stay silent for now, she guessed.

But surprisingly:

"Okay. You got a deal."

Heeeh~!

'See! My strategy did work! And I got through to him! Take that, all of you! A new victory for Tsuba-chan!'

She smiled triumphantly, and gave Reina a thumbs up, to say don't worry, this'll work out in our favor, you're safe.

Right then, she realized what happened.

...

Tsuba-chan, the memory of Hajime calling her replayed it her mind.

And it replayed again:

Tsuba-chan—

And again:

Tsuba-chan——

And again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again  and again.

—————————————————————————————————!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'SHUT UP!', she closed her ears to turn off the noise, and shut her eyes to stop the incoming tears.

"Ah—", she exclamed out loud, taken aback. Noticing her thoughts and actions.

She said it earlier on impulse, but hearing that name again did stab her painfully in the chest.

'I wonder what reminded me of that, now of all times...'

She let out the heaviest shigh and shook her head frantically.

"You're not gonna haunt me forever, you hear me?!", she screamed, desperate, frustrated, scared, to no one in particular.

She tried forcing a brave face, but her trembling body betrayed everything she was trying to hide.

She probably looked like deranged to the others right now, having her face shift between a million expressions in a matter of seconds, sighing for no reason, and talking to herself.

The effects of her past trauma were coming back.

'Fuck this shit. Why now? Fuck. I think I'm gonna throw up—'

She wasn't even following their discussion anymore. Completely zoned out.

She might be too proud to ask for it—

But this girl really needed help.

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Post  Kira Kohaku on Sat Nov 14, 2020 12:52 am

Based on the map, Kohaku had first thought it would be best to go to the closest one and work from there, depending on how dangerous the sites they decided to encroach upon were. But, that was an inappropriate way to triage it. If they did that, there was no guarantee they would be able to get to one where they could gather information safely on the first try. If anything, they would likely have to investigate idly and then move from one to another.

“There has to be another way to go about this.” Kohaku muttered.

There had to be a better way to triage this. She couldn’t ask which ones were more frequented since Komaba Ritoku had provided that data straight out.

She had no real understanding of what the world of gathering intel was like. She was a specialist and unfortunately, the basic principles of what she specialized in may not properly carry over. One could not draw labs to whittle away at a differential diagnosis if they did not know what the differential diagnosis was.

For a girl like her who had no concept of the basics of intelligence gathering, she had to defer and propose the simplest idea in hopes that her allies could provide better triaging capabilities. She had no idea how to balance out frequency vs danger.

“I’m thinking we start with the closest one and decide to abandon or investigate based on how dangerous they look, but that feels too inefficient. What do you think, Anko-chan?”
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Post  Kisaragi Anko on Mon Nov 16, 2020 4:27 pm

«But in fact she wasn’t. That girl was someone quite capable of assessing and managing her personal security.»

Again a quick response followed after Hujisaka’s speech. This time, however, a crack formed in the hooded boy’s otherwise carefully and cleanly worded facade. Just this once, he lowered his gaze in what was a minor display of discomfort.

As if he had noticed the flaw in his defence, though, he quickly reassembled the mask of clean politeness, picking up on her question in the sterile mannerism he’d been supposed to follow.

«Not every incident is one TASK should set its sights on. Some are too troublesome to seek involvement into.»

Surely, he did not wish to give a proper reply.

«In the first place, why would you assume a minor cog wheel should have knowledge of the workings of the greater machinery?»

That’s where he cut the conversation, as he would make evident by moving to the door and opening it, keeping it that way in clear signal for the girl to leave. It was strange and oddly mechanical, even for a briefing in this kind of work. Only little information had been placed on the table for her to work with. Clearly not because it did not exist.

In the very end, however, there was a final ounce of good will.

«Ah, right, Hujisaka-kun. The individual Ichigo Ai has made contact with was Hasagawa Yumemi.»


«Sounds like a plan.»

Kisaragi replied after investing a noticeable amount of time into gathering her thoughts. All things taken into account any starting point would have worked out just as well. However, picking one closest to their current location did offer a sense of ease they could afford. After all, their current hideout had only been meant for temporary usage in the first place.

Still, she did not see the need to explain the logic behind her decision.

«This means we will start here. In case it doesn’t turn out fruitful we move here, then there, then there and then there.»

While she spoke she quickly pointed her finger at seemingly random locations that no longer followed any visible pattern of proximity or accessibility.

«That’s it then.»

Komaba, who had remained the silent bystander as the two girls forged their plan, understood the signal she gave and was the first to rise from his seat.

«That’s it then.»

He repeated Kisaragi’s conclusion in an act of politeness.

«You have a hard day before you. If there’s anything else we can help you with, feel free to ask.»

«No. You have done more than enough for us.»

Getting up as well, the tracksuit kunoichi immediately rejected his offer. Clearly, Skill-Out had supported them in more ways than she could have ever anticipated. After everything she had heard, she couldn’t have possibly anticipated that tall grown tank of a boy to be this noble an individual. That alone made Komaba Ritoku worthy of her respect. Therefore, she was not willing to overstretch the line. No, she had already begun pondering means of evening the score.

As such, after bowing in respect to their generous host, Kisaragi once more took the lead.

«Come, Kohaku. Let’s go.»
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Post  Saito Hirashi on Fri Nov 20, 2020 9:02 am

"I'll all walk out of here safe and in one piece. How does that sound?"


"Okay. You got a deal."

"You're not gonna haunt me forever, you hear me?!"

Hirashi face palmed, internally of course, seeing how he has a knife pressed to his neck.

It was clear now to Hirashi the Mad Biker lived up to the nickname Hirashi had given her and did not seem to have it all together up there. The negotiations were going well and the last thing Hirashi wanted was for Mad Biker’s PTSD-fueled ramblings to derail everything.

What can he do? Hirashi could not exactly shut her up, does he ignore her? Or should he play it off as a part of his joke? Tell the truth and say he thinks she had gone crazy?

Hirashi opted for the third option, he was on thin ice already and could not risk rocking the boat with some fancy word play.

“Ummm, it seems my companion is in a bit of a bind, but I am sure she will be fine for now. I’ll be sure to recommend some good psychiatrists after we all walk out of here.” Hirashi said whilst trying to stay very still. “For the time being, however, shall we stay on the subject of us all getting out of this? For the sake of you, me, and now also that girl reliving past trauma over there.”
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Post  Aoki Aiko on Fri Nov 20, 2020 5:56 pm

"You're not gonna haunt me forever, you hear me?!"

Uhhh... what?

“Ummm, it seems my companion is in a bit of a bind, but I am sure she will be fine for now. I’ll be sure to recommend some good psychiatrists after we all walk out of here. For the time being, however, shall we stay on the subject of us all getting out of this? For the sake of you, me, and now also that girl reliving past trauma over there.”

The sudden outburst from Tsubasa was unexpected. Clearly something had caused some bad experiences to come back to her. Though the timing was inconvenient, there was nothing they could do about that.

"Stay behind me okay." Aiko whisped in hushed tones to Reina.  

Aiko moved over to Tsubasa slowly, hopefully not causing any kind of reaction, and put her hand on Tsubasa's shoulder. Aiko wasn't sure exactly what caused this, or if there was even anything she could do, Aiko wasn't a psychologist or anything, but Tsubasa was clearly in need of some help.

"Hey, Tsubasa, you doing okay? What's up?"

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Post  Guy Li on Sat Nov 21, 2020 9:04 pm

Reina's Heart Reading caught Tsubasa's rapid slip into a delirious jumble of emotions that she couldn't make sense of. A rolling mass of colours and shapes that peaked and spiked from her body like the corona of the sun or the jagged line of an electrocardiogram.

Yosuke blinked the cold sweat away from his eyes. The girl who had been laughing at him was rambling incoherently with a darting, distant gaze that made it clear she was chasing phantoms across the room.

“Ummm, it seems my companion is in a bit of a bind, but I am sure she will be fine for now. I’ll be sure to recommend some good psychiatrists after we all walk out of here. For the time being, however, shall we stay on the subject of us all getting out of this? For the sake of you, me, and now also that girl reliving past trauma over there.”

What the hell was this farce? The whole thing would have been comical if it hadn't been so damn stressful. It was like watching a group of actors breaking character in the middle of a scene. They weren't taking him seriously at all. Like this was all some sort of a joke.

The sensible one stepped forward and somehow Yosuke found himself pinning his hopes on her, of all people.

"Hey, Tsubasa, you doing okay? What's up?"

Behind Aiko, Reina saw the blonde boy's aura fizzle from purple terror to a green. Confusion. Then it bloomed into a dark red. Unmistakable anger.

"Listen! Don't you fucking ignore me, you-" Yosuke sputtered and fumed. The knife moved from Saito's neck, pointing towards Aiko and Tsubasa in a pointed jabbing gesture. This might be their one chance. Reina gave Aiko a tiny nudge forward.

***

Touko took Alice's hand, surprised at the girl's strength as the foreigner easily lifted her to her feet. Alice was not slender, by any metric. But it was only when her arm tensed that Touko noticed the powerful muscles underneath the soft exterior. Compared to her own distinctly average physique, it was almost enough to make her envious.

A loud shout from behind them jarred Touko from her thoughts and she whirled to see a fourth thug charging Hana from behind.

"Get back!" She yelled, leaping to intercept the boy. Hana moved, but not in the direction Touko expected. A swirl of dark hair. A flash of steel in the streetlight and the attacker spun head over heels to land on his back. Hana paused a moment before delivering the finishing blow, dropping her knee onto his face. His finger released the grip on his weapon as the Skill Out fell unconscious.

"You could do that sort of thing the whole time and you let me do all the fighting!?"

"And you still would have lost if it hadn't been for Alice." Hana wiped her hands with a handkerchief as she delivered a cutting remark to the spiky-haired girl.

***

August 21st

The convenience store on the edge of the district was seldom visited and almost certainly running at a loss. It was likely that, had it not been for the company supporting from the proceeds of other stores, it would have closed long ago. But that nondescript convenience store had another, more sinister means of income.

No one paid attention to the frequent delivery vehicles that came and went at odd times of the day.

And no one kept track of the strangely high number of employees hanging around the premises, even during the dead of night.

These things might have passed unnoticed to someone like Kohaku, but even without Komaba's map, the girl at her side, Kisaragi, would see all the signs as clear as day.

This place was a den of underground activity. Most likely it was a safehouse or gathering place where Skill Out's would gather until called on.

***

The night had gone well, that single spot of gloominess aside. But in the end, Michiko had shuffled off in a taxi back to her place. She was quite a competitive drinker. More competitive than sensible, it turned out. It hadn't taken Guy long to get back and the walk had been pleasant. Looking down at his watch he let out a contented sigh. He might even get a decent night's sleep before he had to be up.

And then he saw the small figure sitting hunched on the steps.

Rachel didn't speak at first. She just glared at him.

“You promised.”

Funny how two simple words could crush his heart so easily. He put on a foolish smile and prepared to apologise.

“Rachel, I-”

“Shut up.” She cut him off mercilessly. The brief pause made her next words hit like a sledgehammer to his chest. “I bother you too, don't I?” The accusation stung all the more for her furious stare that never once broke from his eyes. “I must do, because why else would you just blow me off like that?” Rachel laughed bitterly and shook her head. “I don't know what's worse. If you forgot about me, or if you remembered but just didn't care.” Guy opened his mouth but she didn't leave him the chance to get a word in. “It's fine. Everyone else does it, too. Even my parents just forgot about me.”

He stepped forward, but Rachel shut him down just as quickly as last time.

“I’m fine! I don’t need you 'cause I was perfectly fine without you and I’ll be perfectly fine without my dad, either!” The words spilled out of her mouth so fast she probably didn't even realise what she had said. Taking a deep breath to collect herself, Rachel turned to leave but stopped after a few steps. She wasn't finished.

“The others might call me names or talk about me behind my back. But you're even worse than them.” Guy didn't speak. He couldn't deny it and he couldn't think of anything he could say to make it better.“You know, I want to hate you.” Tears welled in the corner of blue eyes that turned downwards as if meeting his gaze might cause the dam to burst entirely. Her voice wobbled tenuously in a suppressed sob. “I want to say you can go to hell and never come back. But I can't. Because if I do then I don't have anyone at all.” Gritting her teeth, the small girl squeezed her eyes shut. “It hurts. I don't want to be alone! It's not fair!”

“Rachel...” He couldn't think of what to say, but he reached out for her.

“Don't!” She turned and ran. Her footsteps down the hallway of the dorm weren't quite enough to cover the sound of her crying.

He should have gone after her.

He wished he'd gone after her.

I'm no good at these sorts of situations...

But his body wouldn't move. Her words had crushed his will and all he could do was stand there.

I really am worthless.

He'd make it up to her. Somehow.
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa on Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:04 pm

“Ummm, it seems my companion is in a bit of a bind, but I am sure she will be fine for now. I’ll be sure to recommend some good psychiatrists after we all walk out of here."

"Huuuh? Who the hell needs a psychiatrist...?", she turned to Saito, questioning his reasoning. He was trying to calm down their opponent, apparently. But it was having the opposite effect on his ally, it only made her frustrated and offended.

“For the time being, however, shall we stay on the subject of us all getting out of this? For the sake of you, me, and now also that girl reliving past trauma over there.”

She wasn't that crazy. What was this dude blabbering about? His words made the irritation grow into pure anger. It was forcing her to face the truth she was desperately trying to deny. Trauma? What trauma? The fuck was this about? She was totally okay, she told herself... she was just a tiny little bit... emotionally hurt? ... Maybe?

But he just had to say it, didn't he? She didn't want to hear any of this.

A psychiatrist?! Trauma?!

This was bringing even more memories she wanted to forget. She was starting to see red. She clenched her teeth so tightly her jaw hurt, and her fist so strongly that nails were starting to dig into her skin.

'Saito... I swear, keep talking and I'll fucking kick you so hard you won't utter another word for the next ten lives!'

When she felt a hand on her shoulder, she tensed up a little. But she relaxed slightly when she noticed that it was Aiko.

"Hey, Tsubasa, you doing okay? What's up?"

"..."

Those words were all Tsubasa needed. They were all she wished to hear for years. Only someone asking how she was doing. No judgement, no nothing. A friend willing to land their ear. This hit her so strongly her face must've distorted into some funny expression, because she was about to cry, and was fighting hard to keep a straight face. A moment of weakness she rarely displayed to strangers... at least, before this bizarre day.

"Aoki, I---", she started saying, her voice was quivering, the pain could be detected with ease.

This was her golder opportunity. She was desperate for this moment to come. She yearned for it. Her psyche couldn't handle the burden of dealing with that pain alone anymore. She wanted to share it with someone. But she could never bring herself to trust people with it, not even the closest people to her. But maybe, this time... she could make an exception? She wanted to talk. She wanted to vent. She hated the isolation she imposed on herself. She hated the fake smiles. She wanted to be able to show her true self to someone, her genuine feelings, feelings of hurt. She wanted to cry for help. Was it really okay to do so? Could she trust this girl with her deepest secret?

Just as she decided to start talking, someone beat her to it.

"Listen! Don't you fucking ignore me, you-"

"ROT IN HELL YOU BASTARD!"

*Bam*

She landed a direct uppercut punch instantly, not caring for the knife that grazed her arm slightly in the process.

She was finally, finally, about to open up to someone about her longlasting pain. She found the opportunity to talk. She found someone willing to listen. But he had to ruin the moment, and ruin her chance, her final chance, perhaps. She knew it wouldn't be so easy for her to trust someone and tell them in the future. She was only about to do it now on reflex because Aiko took her by surprise, in a moment of despair and vulnarability. But when she had her walls up, Tsubasa wouldn't be so willing to share. Yosuke stole her last hope of salvation, perhaps. She just wanted a friend who could drag her out of her torment, for fuck's sake. Was that too much to ask for? Or maybe she was being too dramating? But anyways, right now, she didn't hate any human being on earth like she hated this boy.

"Oh you, you asshole! You shut the fuck up! I was--! I was about to--!"

But she was talking to an unconscious boy who couldn't hear her any longer, most likely. But she kept on yelling nonetheless, not even realizing that.

This, this whole thing, what's happening to me... is your damn fault!!"

She needed someone as a scapegoat right now, someone to blame for everything. Deep down, she knew that this was wrong, and the problem was way deeper than that. But she wasn't ready to face herself just yet.

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Post  Saito Hirashi on Wed Nov 25, 2020 10:01 pm

"Huuuh? Who the hell needs a psychiatrist...?"

The Mad Biker said as she began boiling over with visible anger. Although she seemed to calm down a little with Hoodie Girl’s consoling, it was clearly not enough as she decked Blondie for “interrupting her”.

“The one who needs a psychiatrist is evidently you.”

Wisely, Hirashi did not articulate his thoughts further and attempted to put some distance in between himself and the knife wielding esper boy. Hirashi would immediately try to kick the knife away and check on the other boy’s condition, not out of concern for his health, but rather to determine if he was actually unconscious and whether he needed to be restrained or not.

As for the Mad Biker, he’d better keep some distance from her too. Such an unstable person might prove detrimental in a conflict down the line, not to mention she might redirect her anger onto himself.
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Post  Aoki Aiko on Wed Nov 25, 2020 10:46 pm

"Aoki, I---"

It looked like her words had started to calm Tsubasa down a bit. From the look on Tsubasa's face, it seemed like she was starting to collect herself, to compose herself so that she could say something that seemed to be weighing heavily on her. However her chance to say these things was interrupted by none other than their resident hostage taker.

"Listen! Don't you fucking ignore me, you-"

With that, the boy began brandishing the knife he was holding towards Tsubasa, Aiko, and by extension Reina. however in doing so, the knife was no longer at Saito's throat and this presented an opportunity for action. Aiko quickly turned to face the speedster, reaching down for the weapon strapped to her leg, hidden beneath her skirt. She'd been practicing just like he had told her to, so that when used again, no one had to die. She could knock the knife out of the speedster's hand, removing the threat to Saito, but she hesitated. The mental hurdle needed to actually draw the weapon was not one she'd yet cleared. Before she had a moment to try to push herself though...

"ROT IN HELL YOU BASTARD!"

Tsubasa sprinted forward, unleashing a huge punch right at the speedster, seemingly knocking him out cold, though it looked like her arm might have gotten scrapped by the knife in the process.

"Oh you, you asshole! You shut the fuck up! I was--! I was about to--!"

"This, this whole thing, what's happening to me... is your damn fault!!"

The outburst from the boy seemed to have gotten her riled up again. With the threat seemingly dispatch Aiko released her grip on the undrawn weapon and moved towards the rest of the group surrounding the downed speedster. Aiko crouched down and took the knife from the boy's unconscious hand, slipping it into the big pocket on her hoodie so that he wouldn't be able to use it against them again. She then stood back up and faced Tsubasa.

"Looks like that did the trick. Is your arm okay? It looked like you might have gotten it caught on the knife?"

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Post  Kisaragi Anko on Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:48 pm

August 21st, 10:55 A.M.

«That’s the place.»

The fact that the convenience store had been situated at the edge of the district, yet somehow managed to be oddly busy was both blessing and curse at the same time. While on the one hand it was so fishy, Kisaragi Anko believed even an amateur could see its true colours, the state of the surroundings made an approach all the more difficult. While she herself would have snuck around via the surrounding rooftops, with Kohaku still by her side, that was no longer an option.

Thus, they were bound to ground level movements.

For a bit they had been pretending to have been gotten lost while taking a walk around the unfamiliar area, using the shabby map Komaba had given them as a further accent. However, that only gave them a couple of minutes in which they could circle around the block, before things would become suspicious from their end as well.

However, it did give the opportunity to gather impressions.

The place was active. Too many employees. Too many delivery vehicles. Too much of everything to blend in. They either were sloppy or did not care much about attention in the first place, given that there was hardly anyone around who would give them any.

Still, the funds required to keep alive such an operation seemed to be way above what one would expect of Skill-Out. Another party must have been involved.

Taking as many mental notes as she could while passing by, Kisaragi was too busy to notice the shift in their odds, as suddenly a uniformed young man with piercings who had seemingly stepped out of the store to take a smoking break walked up to them.

«Hey ladies. Everything alright? I’ve been watching you from the window for a while. You’re not from here, heh? Maybe I can help you find what you’re looking for?»

He spoke with a flirting undertone, nonchalantly stepping a bit too far into their comfort zones.

Had they already been found out?
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Post  Guy Li on Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:18 pm

Rachel wiped the tears from her eyes as she rounded the corner of the large, square dormitory building. It was quiet and the sound of her own sobbing was bothering her. She shouldn't be this hurt by it. Forcing her face into a contorted frown, the girl prepared herself for a long and arduous walk home. She'd skip school tomorrow. Probably the rest of the week, too. Hell, maybe she'd just drop out entirely, it's not like anyone would notice. And if they did they'd probably thank their luck.

At least she wouldn't have to see that jerk again.

“Hey kid.” She whirled, ready to unload another barrage of abuse at the irresponsible teacher. She didn't even realise it wasn't his voice. “We were starting to think we'd lost you.” The boy stood at the end of the alley wasn't the scruffy looking youth in red. It was someone she'd never seen before. But that didn't make it hard to tell he was a Skill Out. “We didn't want to risk it in the open where someone might spot us, but this is much more convenient. Thanks for making it easy for us.”

“What are you talking about?” Rachel felt something cold in the pit of her stomach.

“Don't worry, we're not gonna hurt you. Our boss wouldn't like that.” The boy entered the alley and Rachel backed away. Straight into the second youth standing behind her.

***

Guy lit up the cigarette, leaning against the balcony railing. It wasn't doing much to lift his mood, however.

The high pitched ring stabbed through his ears like an ice pick to the brain. The still lit cigarette dropped from his fingers and he cursed. He knew that sound. Maybe that girl was getting one last word in before she left. Guy peered out over the balcony's edge. Down below two boys were wrestling with something.

Something red.

Something blonde.

Guy launched himself towards the door, tearing it open and leaping down the steps one flight at a time. Rounding the corner to the alley he was just in time to see one of the thugs slam the door to the van.

“Ah shit, someone else is here.” The one who'd closed the door spoke across the driver.

“Well deal with them. You saw what the boss gets like if we leave witnesses.”

The thug cracked his knuckles and approached the young teacher with a cast on his arm.
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Post  Kira Kohaku on Sun Nov 29, 2020 6:16 am

Despite it being so obvious even an amateur could tell it, supposedly, Kohaku wasn’t really primed to the world she had been walking in for long enough to really distinguish between suspicious and benign. Sure, the presence of a convenience store at the edge of the district that was still busy was strange, but she could come up with a plethora of explanations that didn’t presume suspicion.

Unfortunately, she had to defer judgment to Komaba’s map and Anko as she kept her eyes more focused on everything else going on around her.

They just needed to take in as much information as they could in a couple of limited cycles around the building.

She did not know how much personnel or resources the average Skill-Out gig needed, but she could even fathom that this may have been somewhat overkill. Whether she could call it suspicious was an entirely different story.

But, things came to a halt as a uniformed man with piercings had approached the two of them.

To the man who had just casually approached them and began to inch too close into their personal spaces for comfort, what would Kohaku say?

“W-w-w-well, you see,” she said, marking out a very picturesque start as she felt herself poking her index fingers together and backing up a step unconsciously. “We were walking together with a friend and...we kinda lost her? She’s the kind of person who likes to wander around to weird places, you see.”

If there was an Actor’s Guild viewing Kohaku’s blatant lie, there was no way they would give her an award. But, for all it was worth, it wasn’t a bad attempt from that girl with zero social graces. Moreover, at least it wasn’t seduction. Who knows what kind of insanity would have ensued if she had made that attempt?
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Post  Kisaragi Anko on Mon Nov 30, 2020 8:47 pm

«Don't you think this guy...it's a guy, yeah?...is scary? Tracking 'em down like this from nothing»

«It wasn't nothing. The asshole told me they put together security footage from around the city with satellite images and worked out all routes they could've taken narrowing it down to this. And here we are~!»

Two soldiers were having a casual conversation under the blue summer sky.

«Besides, pinkie was way scarier. Apparently they noticed and tracked her down based on network activity alone. Whatever you normally hear about data security breaches and whatnot is small tier shit compared to this. That handler is creepy I tell you.»

The only common point between them was the dark military gear they had been clad in. Otherwise, nothing. One had a deep gaping hole where her left eye should have been, while the other a burn mark at his neck. The one-eyed lady of ash white skin and dry black hair was Marybeth, the leader of Thanatos. The other guy, Larry, one of her underlings.

«It’s still fishy as hell. Boss, doesn’t that…guy…remind you of something. You know that operation from last year?»

A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story) - Page 8 Marybe11
«Heh. So I’m not the only one who feels that way? Yeah, this reeks like the same CIA shit.»

Ignoring the content, the way they talked was more reminiscent of two friends discussing today’s weather over any professional topic.

«I don’t like it, boss.»

«Neither do I, but what choice do we have?»

A short break.

Then with a lightly worried voice Larry spoke up once more.

«You think…he’s…listening in on us?»

«Of course. They’re probably monitoring us 24/7.»

That reply came as quickly as the question was asked. However, right after silence took over once more. This time ending their casual chit-chat for good. As a result of letting the talk sink in visible beads of sweat formed on Larry’s forehead as he worriedly turned his head left and right, checking both his equipment and the surroundings out of a sense of urgent caution.

Then, after a good minute of drowning in the bottomless pit of concerns he turned to Marybeth once more.

«Uhhh, boss. Do you really think this is a good idea…?»

«Mh? Why?»

Unlike him the one eyed woman had yet to lose her cool.

«We were told to clean up, so we’ll clean up. It’s as simple as that.»

Part of her may have understood her comrade’s sentiment, but in the end she had simply shrugged it away as a maniacal grin formed on her lips.

«Besides. This is for Bradley.»

The next moment she finally placed her eye against the visor of the sniper rifle she was holding onto, as both of them were lying on a desolate Academy City rooftop. In tandem Larry returned his focus on the binoculars of his own analysing the situation surrounding the targets.

Silence born from heightened concentration.

Marybeth pressuring the trigger.

Followed by a deafening crack.

And a comedic «Ooops~!».


Clearly, what Kohaku lacked was not only limited to social skills. Not to disregard her bold manoeuvre, though.

«Yes yes, Nii-chan! Our friend just vanished all of a sudden!»

Kisaragi Anko didn’t let any effort go to waste, donning a terrible over the top, yet very perfectly executed Osaka-ben. A shift that was entirely devoid of her usual stoic professionalism and instead crossed over to the kind of cute naivety associated with the high school girl you can find in any tourist group.

«You’re working over there, right? That’s soooo cool! You must’ve been sent by the heavens! I’m sure you can help us find her, right?»

A spark in the convenience store clerk’s eyes was enough evidence to determine her strategy was actually working. However, that didn’t mean she could leave it at just that. No, she had to be way more aggressive. Thus, with no regard for the wellbeing of her nose in face of his terribly stingy after shave, she threw herself into the boy’s side, essentially attempting to pull him along in an overly fake enthusiastic spin.

It would go well. Well, it would have, hadn’t the pierced clerk been knocked over a mere split second later. Chased by the after-echo of a loud distant crack.
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa on Wed Dec 02, 2020 12:52 pm

Their opponent was already knocked out, Tsubasa finally noticed. This calmed her down, relatively. At least, now that the scapegoat she decided to blame for everything was actually down, she could take a little break.

"Is your arm okay? It looked like you might have gotten it caught on the knife?", Aoki asked.

"Ah, I didn't even feel it. It's probably nothing, don't worry about it. And hey, thanks for... you know, being concerned about me. It means a lot."


Tsubasa then removed her jacket to check on the aforementioned wound.

'Ouch, it stings. I guess the rush of adrenaline made me unaware of the pain. But it's not so bad, I can endure this much.'

She let out a heavy sigh again in order to recollect her composure, for real this time. These past few minutes sure were intense and hectic. It was a true rollercoster of emotions. And it certainly was a first for her to display such an unsightly sight in front of strangers.

"Alright guys, what do you wanna do with this douchebag? Shall we take him with us and get the hell out of here? This place is giving me the creeps after what happened earlier. Besides, it will most likely be swarming with those Skill-Out jerks soon. So let's hurry."

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Post  Saito Hirashi on Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:44 am

“Now that we are in a position of strength, I agree with Tubasa here. We should restrain this chop and have a little chit-chat ya?”


Now that the danger is past, Hirashi put on his go-lucky and slightly dumb persona once again and voiced his opinion on the next step.

“He may be fast, but he doesn’t seem awfully strong. Some cable ties and tape should deal with him sharpish ne?”

Hirashi would then go off deeper into the warehouse in search of abduction supplies, as well as picking up some of the nails he had scattered or flung earlier. Upon returning with his boon, Hirashi would restrain and gag the blonde boy, perhaps with worrying proficiency.

“There we go! Silence may be golden, but duct tape is silver.”
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Post  Kira Kohaku on Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:49 pm

Anko, herself, had gone through with the act too. The fact that she had caught onto her makeshift idea brought things a long way. Hell, Kohaku was almost glad that the subpar, cringe-worthy acting was something Anko had taken the time to match. The lack of disparity between their falsehoods would really go a long way.

Or at least, it would have had what took place in one split second not happened.

The man fell to the side. It was almost so sudden that Kohaku barely noticed the echo of a crack from the distance.

It was probably no more than one second, but the girl immediately realized what had happened. It didn’t take an idiot to put two and two together. As soon as she gauged the general direction of the source from where the man had fallen.

“THIS WAY, ANKO-CHAN!” She grabbed Anko’s arm and ran. There was a decent enough cover by a wall with towers of boxes and crates near it. At least, that’s what she could surmise with her minimal knowledge. They just needed to make it there, regroup, and call 119. That man was not shot in the head, chest, or anywhere fatal. Kohaku couldn’t tell whether it was due to bad angling due to Anko moving him around or just a choice of the sniper, but he was simply shot in the shoulder.

There was still a chance to save him.

But they could not save him if they were not alive. So, they had to make it to safety.

And so, she ran for cover with great passion and great desperation.
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Post  Aoki Aiko on Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:16 am


"Ah, I didn't even feel it. It's probably nothing, don't worry about it. And hey, thanks for... you know, being concerned about me. It means a lot."


"Yeah, no problem. That's what friend are for right? If you need someone to talk to, just let me know... but maybe after we get out of here."

Despite the fact that they had just met, Aiko was already calling her a friend.

"Alright guys, what do you wanna do with this douchebag? Shall we take him with us and get the hell out of here? This place is giving me the creeps after what happened earlier. Besides, it will most likely be swarming with those Skill-Out jerks soon. So let's hurry."

"Yeah, lets get out of here."

“Now that we are in a position of strength, I agree with Tubasa here. We should restrain this chop and have a little chit-chat ya?” He may be fast, but he doesn’t seem awfully strong. Some cable ties and tape should deal with him sharpish ne?”

With that, Saito bound the speedster up with materials he found laying around the room.

“There we go! Silence may be golden, but duct tape is silver.”

"Cool, not lets get out of here. I'll lend you a hand carrying him back to the van, but you'll have to do most of the lifting. I'm not very strong."

Aiko was itching to get back to their makeshift hide out. A quick glance at her phone let her know that there had been no correspondence from Ichigo Ai, and Aiko was curious as to the contents of the large file she had been sent. Perhaps once they got back she'd have another chance to look into it more.

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Post  Kisaragi Anko on Sun Dec 06, 2020 11:24 am

Like lightning and thunder the bullet first struck followed by an echo of the rifle. A horrendous combination, even if you were not the poor victim to be struck down by the bullet. Normal people would have succumbed to panic that very moment, but Kisaragi kept her cool even then. Even with how sudden the tides had turned away from peaceful safety to another raging battle.

This time, however, Kohaku was the first to react. Doing it as fast and swiftly as Kisaragi would have herself.

«Good job, Kohaku.»

Praise was the least she could offer the moment they had stepped behind the cover. Naturally, though, wood, plastic or cardboard boxes and a wall weren’t enough to ensure longterm protection. Not that that was the only concern they had at that moment. No, she could tell from the look on the other girl’s face.

«You take it and do what you have to.»

It may not have been the best idea to go through with it, given they were currently on the run. Still, without hesitation Kisaragi would toss her comrade the phone she had received earlier. A choice she herself wouldn’t have made, given their circumstances and the loss of another important means they had on their side. However, she had understood the look on Kohaku’s face and understood what acting right now must have meant to her.

Besides, there was no time to get lost in situational analysis. Therefore, she attempted to move towards the cover’s corner in hope of sneaking a peek at the situation.

Only to be greeted by lightning and thunder once more.



A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story) - Page 8 Marybe11
«Dang! I missed again! Why are these little bitches this antsy?!»

There was little tension in Marybeth’s voice as she cried out like a little child who had just messed up their high score in a video game. Pouting, she would still keep her aim on the cover her two targets had fled to. Eyeing them with her finger on the trigger. Waiting.

«I don’t think it’s gonna be this easy! They’re not stupid enough to just walk out of the cover! Remember the hospital and how they fucked us over back then!»

Larry on the other hand seemed to have lost his calm entirely, becoming greatly concerned about his one eyed boss’s approach to the situation.

«Nah. Just cause Plan A doesn’t work, doesn’t mean we screwed up. All we got to do is adjust~!»

Business had never been easy. Some customers had been tougher nuts to crack than others. As a result, no action should ever be done if not underlined by an elaborate strategy. That had always been Marybeth’s modus operandi. Little obstacles like this wouldn’t spoil her mood.

All she had to do was press a button on her intercom and fire a couple of additional rounds into her targets’ cover.

«Time to go guys~!»


«We need to move.»

The frequency of shots had increased and with it the damage to their makeshift cover. There was only this much a stack of boxes could endure. This was not a tank or any kind of reinforced structure. With each high precision round landing, more and more of the boxes was pierced or blasted away.

Not that that was her only concern.

«They’re trying to pressure us. Keep us afraid and stalled. There must be more coming.»

Kisaragi deduced while ducking down behind the cover. The conditions for utilising a sniper rifle in an urban environment had not been the best in the first place. All one needed to do was move behind a building or any sort of structure that would shield off the line of clear sight. An easy feat to accomplish, robbing the mighty rifle of its advantage in an instance. Their only real chance at landing a hit normally was only a situation where they could execute an ambush. But that window had been closed when they had messed up themselves. These people weren’t as naive to believe only in that, though.

No, if they still relied on the rifle it must have been piece of another plan.

A plan was what they needed right now, as well.

«Stay here. Wait until I’ve drawn their fire. Then run. Head for the subway station. I’ll catch up.»

She took no liking to leaving Kohaku on her own, but the situation called for it. There was no way they could predict the path possible reinforcements would take. There was no way for them to determine the position of the sniper that easily. There was no way for Kisaragi to protect the girl if she stayed close to her.

The only thing she could do was take them on herself.

With a swift motion she removed her tracksuit jacket, tossed it to the girl who may have been needing it more and set off into a sprint right out of the cover.

Bring it!


Thanatos was on the move. Four assets, all clad in military gear and armed with a top notch assault rifle had set into motion on Marybeth’s command. They came from North, East, South and West. From behind the convenience store, from its left and right and from the front. Steadily, carefully and ready to kill.
Kisaragi Anko
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Post  Kamijou Touko on Sun Dec 06, 2020 1:34 pm

«And you still would have lost if it hadn't been for Alice.»

«I told you, didn’t I? I’m just an ordinary high school girl!»

Exasperation had been the only adequate response from Touko’s side. Not only had these two turned out to be just another insanity the world had apparently been full of, they were belittling the effort she had poured into both her own and Tanimoto’s defence.

Still, even an ordinary high school girl who more than just occasionally got into street fights had an ounce of pride to defend.

«Besides. If you had left me more time I would have totally dealt with them! I knew exactly what I was doing!»

Done with her contradicting self defence, Kamijou finally moved onto the more important topic. The one thing that had been bugging her even over the fact that these two had basically made a fool out of her.

«What are you two even? Those movements. That physique. You’re not Magicians. You’re not Espers either.»

Originally, based on how they had intruded her home and how they had addressed her, she had assumed they were just the usual Magicians popping in and demanding her support. Now, having witnessed them in action, without any supernatural force being thrown around, that no longer applied. If anything, it brought back the memory of a very painful experience she had made a couple of days ago.

«You’re like that red tracksuit. Just who the hell are you?»
Kamijou Touko
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Post  Guy Li on Sun Dec 06, 2020 6:24 pm

Reina had followed Aiko's guiding hand when the older girl had stepped in to shield her. The chaos that followed had been so sudden it was stunning. Aiko's 'aura' had gone still as the girl had steeled herself for a quickdraw only to waver at the last moment of hesitation just as Tsubasa's own aura of haywire feelings had reached its peak, exploding violently as she charged forward to deliver the knockout blow. In that instant, Reina saw the turbulent fear and anger from the blonde boy turn as still as the surface of a pond.

She couldn't help but feel uneasy watching Saito bind the blonde Skill Out. And she realized she felt a pang of sympathy for him. That was the drawback of her ability. It was easy to empathize with someone when you could see their vulnerabilities laid bare. And she noted that even in unconsciousness, his aura moved with slight tremors. Was he dreaming, perhaps?

"What about you?" Reina asked Saito once he was done with his task. He'd been the one most in peril throughout all this. She wasn't really good at reassuring people, but she reached out to take his hand with an uncertain smile. Aiko was taking care of Tsubasa, and the other girl seemed to be calming down well enough.

"Yeah, no problem. That's what friends are for right? If you need someone to talk to, just let me know... but maybe after we get out of here."

"Yeah, let's get out of here."

"Cool, not let's get out of here. I'll lend you a hand carrying him back to the van, but you'll have to do most of the lifting. I'm not very strong."


It didn't take an ability like Reina's to tell that Aiko was eager to make a hasty retreat, and Reina agreed with her. She may not have found what she was looking for, but the longer they stayed, the more risk they were putting themselves in. Whatever had happened in this place, what remained gave Reina chills. It was like she was seeing the lingering shadows of people's emotions here. Fear mainly. And hopeless despair.

***
«I told you, didn’t I? I’m just an ordinary high school girl! Besides. If you had left me more time I would have totally dealt with them! I knew exactly what I was doing!»

"Sure, sure." Alice's reply may have sounded patronising, but the smile on her face seemed almost supportive. "But I think it might have cost you an arm there." She slapped Touko on the shoulder.

«What are you two even? Those movements. That physique. You’re not Magicians. You’re not Espers either. You’re like that red tracksuit. Just who the hell are you?»

"Oh, so you noticed?" The way Hana shifted her weight to one leg and lifted her head gave an impression of pride that was unusual for her. Someone with her confidence had no need for pride. "We're not with the 'magic side' or the 'science side'. We exist between those two worlds. But part of neither." She said. "Where we come from what you just saw is mere child's play."

***

The thug fell to the alley floor and Guy stepped past him.

“Fuck. Agito's down. Let's get out of here.” The driver of the van slammed his foot on the gas and the wheels started to spin and smoke before the vehicle took off down the street. Guy broke into a sprint, managing to keep pace for a few seconds before the van picked up speed. But it was a losing battle, there was no way he could catch up. Guy could only watch as the van, and Rachel, turned off and disappeared from sight. Taking the phone from his pocket, he hastily dialled a number.

He was still breathing heavily as he returned to the fallen thug's side.

“Kazari-san?” He waited for the girl on the other end of the line to sleepily confirm before continuing. “Sorry for calling so late, but I need a favour. It's an emergency.” He could practically hear the girl wake up with those words. “Can you get to a computer? I don't have any time to waste.” He knew it wouldn't matter if that computer was connected directly to Judgement or Anti-Skill servers or not. The girl on the end of the line could find what he needed either way. That was why he had called her. “First, I need you to get me information on a vehicle...” Kneeling down beside the unconscious boy at his feet as he relayed the information, Guy started to rifle through his pockets. Any information. ID, business cards. Anything with an address. “Next, when we're done here I'm going to ask you to call Anti-Skill to my location. Get them to send an ambulance, too.” He tossed the thug's wallet aside and began tapping on the phone screen. Locked. He dropped it to the floor. “No, I'm fine.” Guy prodded the boy with his foot, eliciting a groan of pain from the injured youth. “I just can't wait around for them to turn up.” He explained the situation as quickly as he could.

“Thanks. I owe you.” Guy dropped his phone back into his pocket.
Guy Li
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Post  Kamijou Touko on Mon Dec 07, 2020 6:30 pm

Jerking due to the suddenness and strength behind that friendly slap, Kamijou unintentionally shattered the last ounce of credibility behind her statement. And wasn’t it for the shift of the mood, she surely would have attempted to at least somehow rectify it. Then again, she was glad to let the embarrassment of the situation be buried.

«Something between those two? But isn’t there some international law or something that bans anything like that? Doesn’t that make you an enemy of both?»

Mind you, that spiky haired girl was still an ordinary student. She may have been dragged into the matters of both sides recently and may have been exposed to an overwhelming new amount of knowledge, but that did not mean she understood the politics surrounding all that. As a matter of fact, being exactly that ordinary high school girl she already lacked that fundamental understanding of normal world politics.

«How do you even know about Imagine Breaker? The Magic Side and Academy City know because I got involved with them, but why you people? I’ve never met or revealed my right hand to any of you folks? You don’t even seem to rely on supernatural phenomenons do you? That stuff you just did not seem like you need to in the first place.»

Everything had been overwhelming. Questions had been popping up left and right in her head, leaving her no other choice but to openly voice her confusion.

«Hell, what do you even need me for? You’re clearly far capable at this stuff than me!»
Kamijou Touko
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa on Wed Dec 09, 2020 10:39 am

"Yeah, no problem. That's what friend are for right? If you need someone to talk to, just let me know... but maybe after we get out of here."

Tsubasa had trouble accepting such a sudden good will. All of her life, after that incident, even when she was often surrounded by so many people, she had never realy had a person close enough to consider as a "friend". This concept was foreign to her. And she couldn't yet gauge Aoki's intentions. Were her words genuine? She just couldn't tell.

So, the only reply she could give was...

"Hahaha! Sure, sure! That's kinda cute and wholesome, you know~"

She just laughed it off, and on top of it, threw in an out-of-place comment to avoid the real serious tone of the conversation.

Afraid to show vulnerability again, scared of confronting the girl in front of her about her real issues, she chose to run away once again.

“Now that we are in a position of strength, I agree with Tubasa here. We should restrain this chop and have a little chit-chat ya?”

Later on, she was watching Saito restraining the blond guy and wondering to herself if all this caution was warranted at this point. The dude was knocked out. Sure, being caution was good and all, but this felt excessive to a degree. Saito somehow was eerily proficient in his task. Was that what perfectionism looked like, perhaps? To her, it felt somewhat like a wasted effort.

“There we go! Silence may be golden, but duct tape is silver.”

Just as she was thinking about telling the boy to ease up a bit and stop worrying so much about an unconscious person who would take a good while to wake up, Aoki spoke again.

"Cool, not lets get out of here. I'll lend you a hand carrying him back to the van, but you'll have to do most of the lifting. I'm not very strong."

This was Tsubasa's cue to interfere.

"I'll take care of it. I'm probably the most physically fit and the strongest one here. And my injury is minor so it shouldn't matter."

She then proceeded to lift the unconscious body and leave, without waiting for what the others had to say.



During their way back, her manager didn't shut up about how things could go wrong and how reckless she was, after he saw her injury. But only after he called Tsubasa's personal doctor and then, with his assistance over the phone, gave her some form of emergency aid to at least stop the bleeding.

'Damn, if he was gonna be so angry and all panicky after the deed is done, he shouldn't have come with us in the first place... But well, he's a softie, should've figured.'

Upon reaching the hideout however, the first thing she did was jump on the sofa. She was feeling dizzy and exhausted. Her doctor should be here soon, to properly get the injury disinfected and stitched.

_________________
Watabe Tsubasa
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