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A Certain Missing Esper (Arc 4 Main Story)

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Post  Guy Li Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:09 pm

The coordinates Aiko had received corresponded to a series of buildings throughout the city, it was true, but further investigation seemed to turn up little to link them. They were warehouses, convenience stores, construction sites, laundromats, electronics stores, and utility buildings. There was no common thread. And their locations were as varied as their purpose. They seemed to be set up equidistantly throughout the city's districts. Just off of main routes, easily accessible yet tucked away. In busy locations and quiet corners. It was likely whoever had chosen the locations had done so to prevent any visible pattern. It seemed almost too coordinated for mere amateurs.
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Post  Kira Kohaku Wed Jan 20, 2021 5:15 am

“Here first.”

It didn’t take too long before she found another girl waving to her with a quick wave and beckoning her over. But after a few seconds of being seen by Kohaku, she quickly threw her arm and waved in the opposite direction before mouthing “Get over here, and get to the back room.”

In other words, a feint. She needed to get in before she was seen and hopefully, the girl guiding her could throw her pursuers off her trails. Quickly, she ran through the door and another door behind that until she found a girl with a similar fashion sense as the girls before her standing above an open hole in the hardwood floor.

“Close the door behind you and then get in.”

“Right!”

Following her orders, Kohaku closed the door that she noticed to not have any windows or transparencies and then walked down what seemed to be a small set of stairs before she caught sight of the dim lights littering what seemed to be a long pathway.

After she was finally inside, she heard the sound of the pathway shut as the girl who was above onlya few seconds prior was now standing next to her.

“Welcome to the District 10 Safety Network. I’ll save you the details, but from above, the trapdoor no longer looks like a door, but a seamless part of the floor. We’ve basically cobbled together a nice set of hidden escape routes for girls in rough spots. I’m your guide for now. Call me Otsu-chan. I’ll be helping you get to the next part of the network.”

“Um, right. I’m...in your care, Otsu-chan?”

“That’s the spirit! Now let’s go. We’ll get you to the station yet~”

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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:44 pm

Before Aizawa could say anything more to his client, the girl stormed out of the room.

He knew that she needed someone to talk to right now more than anything, but he also knew that it wasn't him that she needed.

She needed a friend. A trusted friend.

He heard Reina continue her complaints, and he couldn't really blame the girl for thinking like that. But the girl on the PC, Aoki-san, seemed to grasp the truth behind Watabe's chaotic actions.

"You're correct. She really is a good hearted, if a little bit hot-blooded idiot. As for your question. To be honest, I don't know the full details myself. I only know little bits of what happened. But long story short, Watabe-kun had lost a very precious childhood friend, and it had its toll on her. It affected her deeply enough for her to shut off any possibility of having friendships. She's afraid of losing more dear people, I imagine. Concerning the details, you have to ask her yourself. It isn't my story to tell after all. I apologize, I can't say more than I have already."

Just as he finished, he noticed Watabe was entering the room.



"---ask her yourself. It isn't my story to tell after all. I apologize, I can't say more than I have already."

"... ask me what exactly?", Tsubasa asked, with a certain apprehension in her voice.

She didn't hear the full conversation, but her gut feeling told her whatever they were talking about was something very unpleasant to her.

What did they want to ask her? What was going on? She only left for a few minutes, for God's sake, and they were already talking behind her back!

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Post  Aoki Aiko Fri Jan 22, 2021 9:16 pm

"You're correct. She really is a good hearted, if a little bit hot-blooded idiot. As for your question. To be honest, I don't know the full details myself. I only know little bits of what happened. But long story short, Watabe-kun had lost a very precious childhood friend, and it had its toll on her. It affected her deeply enough for her to shut off any possibility of having friendships. She's afraid of losing more dear people, I imagine. Concerning the details, you have to ask her yourself. It isn't my story to tell after all. I apologize, I can't say more than I have already."

Just as her manager was finishing up, Tsubasa walked back into the room.

"... ask me what exactly?"

"I apologize if this is a bit too private for you, but your manager was just telling us a bit about your past so that we might be able to understand your head space a bit better. I won't pry for any details you don't want to share, but just know that you've a friend in me if you need to talk."

With that, Aiko turned back towards the computer and continued pulling up all the locations she had found. She didn't know what she was expecting to find, maybe all the bases would make a big "X" with the main base right in the center but no, they were scattered everywhere with no discernible pattern. If she wasn't getting more and more immersed in the dark side with each passing day, Aiko might have dismissed the locations as random, but they seemed to her to be selected to look random so that no pattern could be drawn from them.

"In other news, I dug up all the locations. We can go over what I've found when Saito gets back."


As much as Aiko hated to admit it, Saito had a very tactical way of thinking about things. He may be able to glean something from this information that she had overlooked. His input would be appreciated. Luckily it didn't seem like they'd have to wait too long as a bit of a wait later, Aiko could feel Saito... or at least someone approaching the door.

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Post  Saito Hirashi Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:04 pm

As Hirashi stepped into the warehouse with his rather over-filled backpack, he could immediately tell that the atmosphere was rather tense. To try and lighten the mood somewhat, he put on a grin and announced.

“I have returned bearing gifts, so please don’t shoot me.”

Making a merry show, Hirashi went around the room, handing out bottles of water and lunchboxes to everyone.

“An army marches on its stomach, even though we are not an army, nor are we marching, the concept applies to us regardless. It not a gourmet full course meal, but it’s better than going hungry.”

Hirashi has started his circle in a way that intentionally left Blondie until last, not really caring for his well-being, but rather to improve his standing amongst his peers and maybe coax some cooperation out of him, Hirashi placed a bottle and a lunchbox besides Blondie’s chair.

“Well uhhh, I don’t exactly want to untie you for obvious reasons. But if you wanna have a drink or something, I wouldn’t mind feeding ya~”

“Or maybe you’d prefer one of the pretty ladies here to do it instead hmm? Anywho, if you want something just emmm, let me know by wriggling your body enthusiastically.”


And with that, Hirashi turned to the rest of his companions.

“Well, any progress with those addresses?”




The locations were completely random, or so it seemed. The fact that these addresses were spaced out evenly across the city, and all easily accessible, definitely showed some form of organisation backing these Skill Outs.

It would not be some small organisation either, the many different types of facilities, ranging from small businesses to large corporate warehouses and construction sites, would require significant resources to procure.

“If we are to hit these places, it would be better to go for the quieter ones first, like the warehouses and construction sites, rather than the convenience stores.”

“Firstly, it would be more difficult for them to reinforce the more public buildings after being alerted, and also I would prefer to not to be running away from Anti-skill as well as from these blokes.”


Hirashi’s goal is to lure out the orchestrators from hiding, and although crude, attacking these installations seemed to be the only other way. I mean, there was the option to use Gown Girl, but Hirashi doubted anyone would be on his side after he suggests that.

“But that is eough from me, what do you think?”
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:25 pm

It was over in a split second. But for whom?

At the very climax of her finishing blow, right before the blade cut her enemy’s flesh, Kisaragi was stopped in her tracks and lost balance. The force of the impact had cost her all momentum. In fact, it had shattered her adrenaline rush in a single blow.

When she looked down upon herself, she saw blood staining that rare collectors t-shirt she was wearing. And the blood kept spreading quickly. After all, she now had a hole in her stomach. And only then the echo of the cracking sound, made the world move at normal speeds again whilst bringing realisation over her. She had been shot.

«Larry! Didn’t I tell you to deal with her little friend~?»

That one eyed woman barked as she hammered the nuzzle of her handgun against Kisaragi’s temple, knocking her over for good.

Finally, the man her enemy was talking to had arrived at the scene, lowering the assault rifle he had held to aim the previous moment. He was visibly nervous at the scolding he received, even though it sounded more joking than anything else.

«I’m sorry, boss. She…slipped away. The others are on her trail, though.»

«Fine! No need to worry. Actually, you may have saved my ass just now~!»

Even when she was admitting that she had barely jumped out of death’s way, that woman wasn’t fazed at all. No, she was still this disgustingly jolly. Simply humiliating. If she could, Kisaragi would have thrown another jab at her, this time making sure to end it. But reality wasn’t this kind. A hole in the belly wasn’t this kind.

Circumstances were never this kind. No, they tended to make things even worse. Much like when that door behind the kunoichi finally opened, only to invite in more calamities. The number of opponents had grown from one to four within the same time it had taken for her body to ultimately collapse. That wound, the pain from the previous night and the after effects of that incident creeping up to her; the odds had shifted exclusively against her.

«Hold it, guys. This one’s mine~!»

Of course, the one eyed woman had to claim her prize. Of course, she had to stomp down on her wounded prey in a final celebration of her superiority.

Of course, she would readjust hold of the gun in her hand, while closing in and kneeling down right next to the defeated.

«By the way. My name’s Marybeth. I like it if people learn it before they die. Means they will take the memory to their grave~!»

Of course, she had to throw that final monologue.

Of course, she had to create that opening.

«I’m…sorry…but…screw you.»

With unprecedented speed and skill, Kisaragi grabbed her by the hand that was holding the gun, twisted her own body to force Marybeth’s body to move along, all the while firing rounds at the two newcomers by the door all the while tossing the knife she was still holding onto at the third in the round. Then, with a mixture of her remaining strength and the momentum she had just built up she would toss that one eye over her own shoulder, only to then set off into a sprint through the door that had still been standing open.

Sprinting at her highest speed and then jumping over the railing, down the stairway in what seemed like a desperate attempt at suicide.

And with that she would be gone for good.

That was the last thing those four would see of her, no matter how tediously they would search the area.

A perfect escape.











11:55 A.M.

After a few minutes of continuously running like a madwoman, Kisaragi Anko finally collapsed behind a vending machine in a random side alley she had discovered a few days ago when strolling through Academy City. It had been one of a number of safe spots she had prepared in case things went south; much like today.

Just as she had planned, she would only move there after she was sure she had shaken her pursuers off. Having tied one of the detachable legs of her tracksuit around her stomach to cover the wound she had received, she had prevented a blood trail from forming behind her. By carefully avoiding all security cameras and direct contact with the outside world and thus satellite or drone footage she had erased any hint of a movement profile. And with her final strength, she had escaped any logical search perimeter.

Now that she had done so, however, she had to finally give in to weakness and collapse on the spot.

And as she had made contact with the ground, barely leaning against the machine, the cold finally caught up to her. The pain. The weakness.

Even with exceptional training, there came a point where one could no longer continue.

There came the point when the lights went out.

«Forgive…me…Kohaku…»

That was it.

Game o—
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Post  Guy Li Sun Jan 31, 2021 3:08 am

“Well uhhh, I don’t exactly want to untie you for obvious reasons. But if you wanna have a drink or something, I wouldn’t mind feeding ya~”

“Or maybe you’d prefer one of the pretty ladies here to do it instead hmm? Anywho, if you want something just emmm, let me know by wriggling your body enthusiastically.”


Yosuke tilted his face towards the direction of Saito's voice but otherwise remained still. He was clearly refusing the offer. He was hungry, but he would stubbornly hold out against any attempts to extract information or cooperation. Instead he pointedly turned his body away and rolled onto his side as if to go to sleep.

***

The girl with curly brown hair stood in a secluded alcove across from the phone store. It had been nearly 10 minutes since the young man had freed her and she had patiently waited for him to emerge. Was he still inside? Or had he left another way?

"No sign yet." She reported, speaking quietly as if to someone within earshot. "We should leave. It's dangerous to wait here much longer, are you sure this is a good-"

Just then, her patience paid off.

Something broke through the third-floor window in a parabolic arc. Something large. Something red and black.

***

People had often described Guy as lucky. But luck, he was finding out, was highly subjective.

As the metal railing of that fire escape slowed his descent by colliding with his ribs, he didn't feel particularly lucky. Nor did he feel lucky when the metal lid of the dumpster broke his fall with a crash.

He only felt lucky when he finally rolled off onto the ground because that meant he had nowhere else to fall. It hadn't been luck that he'd chosen that window. Nor was it luck that there was a fire escape outside and a metal dumpster below. It had been an intentional choice, albeit one he was now regretting.

Guy groaned, rolling onto his back. Another successful exit from an upper floor. Not as graceful as the last couple, though. He was beginning to make an unfortunate habit of this. Looking up at the starry sky above he took a deep breath. He hadn't gotten what he'd come for. Rachel hadn't been inside. But he had something else. Guy checked his hand. The phone was intact. And it had the information he needed to continue his search.

"My my, sensei, you don't look so good." The light and cheerful voice could only belong to one person.

"Oh. Hey Misaki." Guy rolled his head back to look up at the starry-eyed blonde girl who was crouched beside him as if examining a strange insect curled up on the floor. He didn't sound awfully surprised to see her. He'd long since stopped questioning such things. Of course one of his students would be here to see him in such a sorry state, and of course one of the Level 5s would be involved in whatever mess this was.

"You appear to be in a bit of trouble." Shokuhou Misaki tilted her head to one side sympathetically as she looked at the hapless teacher. "Do you need a hand?"

"I'm doing fine." He said wearily. "Just fine..." Up above there was a shout of anger and someone leaned their head out of the broken window that Guy had ejected himself from. "Can you just..." He gestured up to the thuggish looking boy who was already bleeding from the head as he clambered out onto the fire escape. Misaki aimed upwards with her remote and pressed one of the many buttons on its surface. The boy stopped, utterly motionless as though in a trance. "Thanks." Guy rose to his feet and rolled his neck.

"So, what brings you out here? I'm not lucky enough for this to just be coincidence." He slid the phone into his pocket and rubbed his bruised and tender back. Misaki gestured to the girl with curly brown hair stood in the alcove across the road who nodded back slowly.
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Post  Aoki Aiko Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:10 pm

“I have returned bearing gifts, so please don’t shoot me. An army marches on its stomach, even though we are not an army, nor are we marching, the concept applies to us regardless. It not a gourmet full course meal, but it’s better than going hungry.”

Food. One of the sure fire ways to improve your standing in Aiko's eyes. Saito returned to the room after his brief outing and distributed food to everyone. Despite his disclaimer, the food certainly wasn't bad and scarfing it down Aiko realized just how hungry she'd been.

“Or maybe you’d prefer one of the pretty ladies here to do it instead hmm?

"Eh, No way. Do it yourself."

“Well, any progress with those addresses?”

"Progress in a loose sense of the word anyway."

Aiko proceeded to detail to Saito all the infomation she'd found on the locations.




“If we are to hit these places, it would be better to go for the quieter ones first, like the warehouses and construction sites, rather than the convenience stores. Firstly, it would be more difficult for them to reinforce the more public buildings after being alerted, and also I would prefer to not to be running away from Anti-skill as well as from these blokes. But that is enough from me, what do you think?”

Saito's insight as expected had proven practical as expected. After word got out that their bases were being hit, the ones in less public places would be much easier to reinforce. Also it was true that they would likely not have to deal with Anti-skill if they hit the sites more on the outskirts. Though Aiko didn't expect things to make enough of a ruckus to draw them out unless...

"What did you end up grabbing anyway, well besides food? If it's more of your surprises from back in the impound lot be careful with those. I don't want another roof falling on my head..."

Oops. Aiko realized she probably shouldn't have said that. That was a bit more information then she really wanted the others to have. Quickly changing the subject, Aiko pointed to one of the out of the way warehouses on map.

"How about this one as a first target. It's out of the way and decently sized. If it's being used to hold people we may be able to rescue them as well."

Aiko then lowered her voice to a whisper so that hopefully only Saito could hear.

"I've already been told to stand down on this by my higher ups, so that means I can't get us any back up. Do you think just the people we have here will be enough?"

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Post  Saito Hirashi Wed Feb 03, 2021 7:29 pm

"What did you end up grabbing anyway, well besides food? If it's more of your surprises from back in the impound lot be careful with those. I don't want another roof falling on my head..."

“Oh don’t worry too much about that. According to the plan, we will not be anywhere near the buildings when the roofs come down.”

When information like this gets slipped, Hirashi cannot make a big deal out of it, or else it would just draw even more attention to what was said. By acknowledging it but brushing it aside gently, Hirashi hoped the others would not pay it too much attention. Thankfully, Hoodie Girl was quick to catch herself and moved on to her next point.

"How about this one as a first target. It's out of the way and decently sized. If it's being used to hold people we may be able to rescue them as well."

“That sounds good, it is a good target.”

The bit which Hoodie Girl had added about the possibility of another captive was a great move. If Mad Biker, her manager, and Gown Girl had any moral qualms about the destruction of property which they were about to commit, that tidbit about saving more hostages would certainly give them the moral justification to go through with it.

"I've already been told to stand down on this by my higher ups, so that means I can't get us any back up. Do you think just the people we have here will be enough?"


Ahh so Hoodie Girl does indeed follow a chain of command. Hirashi had strong reasons to believe this was the case, but it was nice to get confirmation.

“I feel this is fine. Judging from these locations, whoever we have pitted ourselves against has vast resources which will be difficult to overcome with strength. With fewer people acting discreetly, we may have more success than attracting attention by having too many people.”

“Although some better equipment would be nice, but we work with what we have right?”

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Post  Kira Kohaku Sat Feb 06, 2021 7:49 pm

“And here we are~”

With the opening of a surprisingly clean-looking door, Hinako-chan, her newest and last escort, had declared that they had reached their destination.

As she had made her way through this weird network, she was almost shocked at how well-equipped the escape routes were. It was almost reminiscent of a bunker. There were little rest stops, mini-kitchens, coffee machines. It was a wonder just what the original intention of this space was.

“The ticket counter and the turnstiles are that way.”

As the two of them walked out the door into a surprisingly busy subway station, Hinako pointed out each of the necessary points in the subway station.

“Since you’re waiting for someone, you should keep by the ticket counter until she shows up. I’ll keep watch and signal a warning if I catch any signs of danger, kaaaaay?”

“Understood.”

“Excellent. Now go get out there, tiger. And lighten up a bit, will ya?” Hinako said as she pushed off Kohaku towards the ticket counter with a wink.

“Right!”
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Post  Guy Li Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:49 pm

The station around Kohaku wasn't busy. She was exposed. Anyone could be watching, anyone could be waiting. The only measure of safety she would have was to stay with her back to a wall. Any moment now one of those soldiers could sweep down the steps and catch her in their sights. It would be over if that happened. Running wouldn't take her very far. If anything she was cornered here.

From a distance she would see someone. Tall and thin wearing a plain boy's school uniform. Their short hair was hidden mostly beneath a dark cap and they stopped by the automated ticket machine. They weren't looking her way, but that almost made them more conspicuous. Like they were avoiding looking at her.

Taking their tickets the tall figure turned towards Kohaku and slowly stepped towards her. The cap's brim hid most of their face but as they pulled up along side her a husky voice spoke.

"You're looking for a ride out of here, right?" They held out a ticket towards Kohaku and turned their body towards the entry gate.

***

"Okay. So we're being held... somewhere. By... someone." Rachel tried to make sense of what Natsume had told her. "So what are we going to do?" She laid back and spoke quietly.

"Well... You must have some sort of power right? Maybe we can use that."

"I can make noises." Rachel sighed, turning her head to look at the monitor beside her that displayed her vital signs. "Annoying noises." Even though they couldn't see one another she felt herself blushing a little in embarrassment at having admitted her ability was so useless. She'd always acted so proud of it in front of others, but it really was useless. "What about you?"

"Umm, well I can do stuff, but not like this." Natsume admitted without going into detail.

"Yeah, now that you mention it, I can't use my ability either. What gives?" Rachel found that her concentration wouldn't linger when she tried to perform the 'calculations' for her Harmonic Scramble. It was like a fog over her brain.

"I think they're using some sort of sedative?" Natsume said.

No one would be coming for her. No one would even notice she was gone and if they did, they wouldn't have a clue where to start looking. For a second Rachel felt a knot of fear and despair well up in her chest but she swallowed it back with a deep breath and tried to ignore that thought.

She was going to get out somehow.

***

"So what are you doing out here anyway, Sensei?" Misaki asked Guy. Despite the question, he got the distinct impression she already knew the answer, but that might just have been the way she spoke.

"Well, it seems these guys are going around snatching kids up. I thought I'd pay them a visit and tell them to knock it off, you know?" He said with a dry, humourless chuckle. The way Misaki looked back at him felt like she could see past the bravado. "They grabbed a student of mine outside my place." He hung his head. "I feel responsible for her even being there in the first place..." He didn't volunteer any more. "And you? This doesn't seem like the kind of place a girl like you should be hanging out late at night."

Misaki looked over to the other girl. "When someone threatens one of us, they threaten all of us. I couldn't let that slide." Guy thought he could detect anger from the blonde level 5 who normally guarded her emotions. She was the type to carefully curate her appearance to the outside world, not letting unseemly imperfections show themselves to the outside world.

"How very regal of you. Will you two be safe from here? This isn't the nicest part of town."

"Never fear!" Misaki struck a cutesy pose, holding up her cellphone. "I've already signalled for an escort to come to pick us up!"

"That's good." Guy nodded. "I should keep moving."

"What will you do now?"

"I'll keep looking." He waved the phone in his hand. "I'm not out of ideas just yet."

"Don't you think this is something you should leave to Anti-Skill?"

Guy took a moment to reply, his downcast expression searching.

"I can't do that. This kid. She... she doesn't have anyone else. No one else is gonna go looking for her." He blinked slowly. "So I'm gonna do it."

Misaki smiled at that answer.

"Then as one of my loyal subjects, I suppose it's only right that I lend you my aid." Misaki tilted her head with a playful wink. Guy opened his mouth to speak but she held up a finger to silence him. He realised then that she wouldn't take no for an answer. And the assistance of a level 5 would be useful. "Please get to safety and ensure the others are all accounted for."  Misaki said to the other girl who started to protest.

"My queen. I think-"

"Please. I don't want anyone else putting themselves at risk. I can handle this myself." The girl paused for a moment then nodded in understanding as Misaki followed behind the scruffy, beaten looking teacher.

"So, where to next?" She looked at the phone. "If it's locked, then we need to find someone who can hack it, right?"

"Normally, yeah." Guy explained, taking a mini flashlight from his pocket with his free hand and handing it to Misaki. "Hold this, please. Yeah. Like that." He tilted the phone at an angle and examined it closely. "But I've got a few tricks to try before it gets to that..." Under the light he could make out smears on the screen that likely described the unlock pattern. A few attempts later and the device opened to the home screen. "Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best."

***

Marybeth tumbled over Kisaragi's shoulder. Rather than spread her arm to break her fall like an experienced combatant, her back took the brunt of the collision. But it wasn't because she was caught unaware, rather, her hands moved train a shot at her fleeing target despite the difficulty of aiming from that awkward position. The girl was quick, and Marybeth loosed off four quick shots at her back. As far as she could tell, none of them hit.

Pity.

The one-eyed woman climbed to her feet and approached the railing, holding her pistol close to her chest in case the girl was crazy enough to try and pull it from her grip. She peered over cautiously and... nothing. The girl had fled.

As she turned to give the order to pursue, Marybeth's radio crackled to life. She abrutly held up her hand to signal the others to hold and the men froze. They were well trained, after all. The voice on the end of the line gave instructions in a quick, clipped tone.

"What? But we-" Marybeth snapped. "Understood." She clicked her tongue in irritation. "Fall back. We're heading back." She circled her finger over her head and the men moved with precision to exit the building and regroup at the designated position. Marybeth collected herself, sparing a glance back at the railing and a grim, thin-lipped smile. "Next time, girly."

***

Kurama Kenji stood with his arms folded, tapping his heel against the metal shipping container at his back. A few other Skill Out stood about him, hands restlessly holding their weapons, mostly repurposed tools or modified scrap. The large metal door of the gate scraped loudly as it was pulled back and he turned his eyes towards it without raising his head.

"What's the idea? We were hot in pursuit. This had better be good." That one-eyed mercenary and her soldiers marched through the doors with their usual bravado. She turned her attention to Kenji, striding towards him until the pair were less than a foot apart. The other thugs moved to rally around their leader but Kenji warded the off, pressing away from the container to stand square in front of her. He refused to be intimidated by this woman, no matter what she was capable of. "Kurama, what did you fuck up this time?"

"You can talk. I hear you let two little girls run rings around you." He glowered humourlessly.

"Now, now kids. We're not here to measure dicks." From the start, a young man had been sat casually atop one of the smaller metal crates across the warehouse floor from the gate. He leaned forward, a lopsided, lazy smile spread across his young face.

"Who the fuck are you?" Marybeth acknowledged the young man's presence for the first time.

"I'm the guy your boss called in to clean up your messes." The young man looked to be in his early twenties. He was lean and dressed in a loosely buttoned black suit. A shock of red hair was combed up into thin quills and his long, handsome face was marked with a single scar under his left eye. "You can think of me like a 'consultant'." He cradled his head in one hand, his finger running across the scar lightly as he spoke.

"We don't need some outsider to come in and interfere with our operations. So why don't you fuck off back to whatever hole you crawled out of, fuck boy?" The female mercenary spat, gesturing towards the stranger with sharp, pointed motions of her hand. It wasn't often that Kenji found himself agreeing with Marybeth, but today he stood in solidarity with her, silently turning to face the other youth with his arms still folded standoffishly.

"Well, clearly that's not the case. Or else I wouldn't need to be here." The red-haired young man threw back his head and laughed shortly.

"You think Thanatos needs some smart ass pretty boy to come in and show us how to roll? It's bad enough we have to babysit these street punks without some boyband looking motherfucker in a cheap suit telling us how to lace our boots. So why don't you tell the boss that we'll get the job done and in the meantime stay the fuck out of our way!" She punctuated her venomous rant with a sharp jerk of her arm, middle finger extended.

"She's right." Kenji added. Compared to Marybeth he sounded almost level-headed, something that surprised even him. "There ain't nothing you're bringing to the table that we don't already have. Someone with no experience dealing with Espers is just gonna screw things up for the rest of us."

Marybeth cackled. "Kid's right. Whatever you can do, it's not on par with our skills. We've fought engagements against the best of the best on battlefields across the world. There isn't a military force on Earth that can match us."

"Is that so?" The boy with red hair ran a hand through his hair and shook his head. "Well, if you're so confident, how about we place our cards on the table?" He hopped off the container, standing tall. "And I'll show you exactly what I'm 'bringing to the table'." He opened his arms in an inviting gesture.

Kenji nodded towards one of the thugs and the boy stepped forward. He was tall, rangy but with a tightly muscled frame. The boy cracked his knuckles.

The Skill Out approached until he was a few feet from the red haired stranger. Rolling his shoulders, he reared back and made a show of warming up. But he didn't finish. Without warning he struck. A surprise attack launched with the intention of catching his opponent before they realised the fight had begun. His left fist shot out.

And a foot swung down on his head like a guillotine blade. He fell, insensate to the floor.

In one smooth movement, the stranger had stepped outside the punch and spun, lifting his leg up in a vertical split before dropping his heel onto the thug's crown.

One hit had been all that it had taken.

“Huh.” The red haired boy straightened his collar. “That barely even counted as a warm up.”

Marybeth frowned with disgust at having to lower herself to this. "Don't be afraid to kill him if it comes to it. I'll explain it to the boss." She whispered to her man as he stalked forwards. His head was lowered, chin tucked to protect his neck. He lowered his weight, widening his feet and raising his open hands into a grappling stance.

“That's more like it. You've seen some real combat, haven't you?” The stranger smirked.

That was the trigger. The soldier moved deftly without wasted movements, closing the gap in a split second. Driving his shoulders forward for a tackle. And as his opponent repositioned for a counter he flung his fist up and over in an overhand cross to the cocky youth's chin.

And he hit thin air. He raised his arms to protect his head from the inevitable follow up. It never came. Instead an arm snaked around his neck and his knee buckled from a kick. He spun backwards through the air and landed against the hard concrete. It was a takedown that would have debilitated most men but he flung himself up to his feet in an instant.

“Russian Sambo, right?” The enemy hopped back and forth with light, skipping footwork, letting his arms hang loose at his sides.

The mercenary charged again with another feint, pulling free his knife with his other hand and cutting out in one motion. And in response the stranger leapt upwards, twisting his body.

One foot hit the mercenary's jaw. The second hitthe side of his head. And then, impossibly the attacker turned *again*, a third kick snapping up under his chin, swiftly followed by a fourth as the stranger pivoted through the air as if unaffected by gravity.

Looking on as the stranger landed, Kenji tried to process what he had seen. The man's movements were clearly unnatural. Was this an Esper ability? Or was he like Kenji. Did he also have a 'gift'?

"You think you've seen hell? You think that a battlefield has the worst the world has to offer? There's a side to this world that you people aren't even aware of. And you just crossed over. You may be top dogs in your world, but in ours, you're barely even worthy of note." The stranger glared towards Kenji and Marybeth.

"Listen up. This is what we're gonna do...”
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Sun Feb 07, 2021 8:12 pm

Just as Tsubasa asked her question, Aiko reassured her:

"I apologize if this is a bit too private for you, but your manager was just telling us a bit about your past so that we might be able to understand your head space a bit better. I won't pry for any details you don't want to share, but just know that you've a friend in me if you need to talk."

"Ah, that... I-I see. I appreciate your offer though, Aoki. Truly. Thank you, again", she sincerely meant it. Her eyes softened when she looked deeply into the other girl's jet black irises. She couldn't help but feel that Aoki was sincere. She wanted to trust her. Could she really find a friend and finally escape her suffocating self-imposed walls?

Meanwhile, Saito was distributing the water and lunch boxes and when she got hers, a grin appeared on her face.

"Awww niiiice~ Just the right thing to improve my mood~", she said as she started hastily eating.

She couldn't help but snicker when the thug refused the food though.

"Dude, seriously, no one turns down food. Well, your loss."

Afterwards, Saito and Aoki started talking about a lot of tactical stuff, about locations and whatnot, but brain effort wasn't really her strong suit, so she kind of zoned out without contributing much to the conversation. Of course, the hidden meaning behind Aoki and Saito's exchange concerning the roof also flew over her head.

"Uh, I'm not exactly following guys, sooo, I'm fine with whatever you decide to do. It's your call. Just tell me which place I should barge in and whose fucker's face I should punch, hahaha!", she decided to lighten the mood, and then remembered how Reina was sensitive to violence, so she looked at her in panic.

"Um, t-that was just a joke, Reina-chan. I only fight bad people... haha..."

She looked back at the other two, only to find them whispering something. She couldn't hear what they were saying exactly, but she understood why they did so. She had just told them to figure out a plan on their own, after all. But still, it kinda stung that they left her out completely from the conversation like that. It's true she wasn't contributing much and she wasn't that smart, but they could at least share what plan they were talking about, no?

"Hey, now guys, that's kinda mean", she pouted.



Aizawa could tell Tsuabasa was confused, and most of the stuff being shared between the other two was not registering in her brain. He was going to stay out of it and let them figure thing out by themselves. But, as it came to this, he wasn't going to let these kids play his client for a fool right in front of his eyes like that.

"I don't know what kind of adventures you've had in the past, and I'm not really interested", he told the two youngsters as he glared at them with a dangerous smile on his lips, "But you could at least have the courtesy of not openly wispering to yourselves while ignoring everyone in the room, don't you think? Share with us the vital information you're currently keeping to yourselves. If it's something that might affect our mission, even remotely, we need to hear it too. Ignorance is the most dangeous thing in this kind of situation. Knowledge is the sharpest spear and the most durable defense. And honestly, I don't quite like the idea of Watabe-kun getting hurt because you kept something from us. So, if you know anything relevant, spit it out."

Then he looked specifically at Aoki, "Especially if you truly consider yourself her friend, earn her trust. I stayed silent to respect your privacy, but if it affects Watabe's safety, I can't turn a blind eye anymore. My apologies."

He knew he was treading dangerous waters. But he needed to protect Watabe. He didn't like that they seemed to be withholding a lot of crucial information from her. He didn't have solid grounds for his suspicions other than the bits of hints they let on here and there in their dialogue, but he just had a bad feeling about this whole ordeal. It seems this situation were worse than even he imagined at first. They needed to be careful.

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Post  Aoki Aiko Mon Feb 08, 2021 5:56 am

"Hey, now guys, that's kinda mean"

"Heh, Sorry Tsubasa-chan. It wasn't my intention to exclude."

While Aiko had gotten away with whispering in front of everyone without anyone hearing, it seemed like she could no longer keep up her relatively suspicious actions without someone calling her out on them. Tsubasa's manager turned towards the pair of both her and Saito.

"I don't know what kind of adventures you've had in the past, and I'm not really interested, but you could at least have the courtesy of not openly whispering to yourselves while ignoring everyone in the room, don't you think? Share with us the vital information you're currently keeping to yourselves. If it's something that might affect our mission, even remotely, we need to hear it too. Ignorance is the most dangerous thing in this kind of situation. Knowledge is the sharpest spear and the most durable defense. And honestly, I don't quite like the idea of Watabe-kun getting hurt because you kept something from us. So, if you know anything relevant, spit it out."

Tsubasa's manager then turned to speak to Aiko directly.

"Especially if you truly consider yourself her friend, earn her trust. I stayed silent to respect your privacy, but if it affects Watabe's safety, I can't turn a blind eye anymore. My apologies."

Aiko was faced with a decision. Either come clean about exactly who she was, or risk damaging her relationships with everyone present. Even if the former action was taken though, it seemed to Aiko like she may damage her relationships anyway. There was always the option of lying to everyone, and Aiko was no stranger to lies as pranks or jokes, but in a situation like this it could certainly cause some harm should anything happen. To Aiko there was really one on answer here. Aiko took a deep breath followed by a sigh as she looked around the room, her eyes finally landing on Watabe.

"Hopefully we can still be friends once you know this."

Aiko turned slightly so she was now facing everyone in the room.

"I'm a member of an extrajudicial organization that handles dirty jobs that come from Academy City's underground. Depending on the task we're given, we end up doing any number of things, almost all of them illegal one way or the other. I used my connections with my organization to get that list of all the Skill-Out base locations. I don't think they will interfere with our objective, however they did tell me to not get involved so I can't be sure."

Aiko stopped speaking for a brief moment, just long enough to take another deep breath before turning to face Watabe once more.

"Tsubasa-chan, feel free to punch me if you want. You said you only fight bad people, but unfortunately I'm one of the bad guys."

It didn't make Aiko feel good to have potentially betrayed the trust of her new friend and she hopped somehow Tsubasa would still be her friend. The confidence with which Aiko disclosed the information she gave hid just how nervous she was for the outcome. Aiko also decided there was no need to throw Saito under the bus. More suspicion going around would just inhibit their ability to save any potential captives.

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Post  Kira Kohaku Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:19 am

And the figure didn’t escape her eyes in the slightest. Just as conspicuous as she was in the ticketing area for the train was a tall, lanky...person who was clearly trying not to look at her. Not trying to avoid looking at anyone, but trying to avoid looking specifically at her.

And so, she simply did the same. She knew she was running the clock, but all she could do at the moment was bide her time. Until Anko showed up. Until a sign told her to keep moving. Because as much as the pressure had ground against her mind, she had to make sure she didn’t leave that girl behind.

“You’re looking for a ride out of here, right?”

The figure had held the ticket to her and faced the main entrance to the station.

“But, who are you?”

She gritted her teeth after uttering those few words and clamped her hand down upon the ticket.

Sure it was a sign. Sure, she wanted to wordlessly bolt now before it was too late.

And yet...
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Post  Saito Hirashi Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:28 am

"But you could at least have the courtesy of not openly wispering to yourselves while ignoring everyone in the room, don't you think? Share with us the vital information you're currently keeping to yourselves. If it's something that might affect our mission, even remotely, we need to hear it too. Ignorance is the most dangeous thing in this kind of situation. Knowledge is the sharpest spear and the most durable defense. And honestly, I don't quite like the idea of Watabe-kun getting hurt because you kept something from us. So, if you know anything relevant, spit it out."

“Hmmm.”

Having the necessary information is important for a successful operation, and knowledge is indeed power, but only if one is capable of processing and storing it appropriately. Unnecessary knowledge handed to an unsuitable individual is liable to cause confusion, or worse, the excess information may be warped and become misinformation. Information grants its owner strength, but having even having no information was better than being misinformed.

Although the Manager was looking out for Mad Biker, sometimes being kept in the dark is the safer option.

Annoyingly, this particular situation also involved Hoodie Girl, which meant Hirashi cannot simply brush it off and expect Hoodie Girl to cooperate with his story. Before Hirashi was able to say anything however, Hoodie Girl dropped her verbal bombshell on everyone in the room.

For someone supposedly involved in some dark organised crime group, she was certainly very forthcoming with her secrets.

Since it was already implied that Hirashi and Hoodie Girl were in cahoots, now Hirashi had to speak up and clarify his position.

“Hmm? Me? I’m like an investigative journalist of sorts. I wander the streets of Academy City, digging up the dirt which those in power want to sweep under the rug. Except I haven’t really been hired by any newspapers yet, so you won’t be seeing my name on any articles.”

“Aoki-san here and myself met briefly a few days ago, but didn’t really get to know each other too well before some unfortunate circumstances caused us to part ways. As for what we were talking about, we were just discussing the friendly reinforcements coming our way, or rather the lack thereof. Talking about help that is not coming was a bit depressing so I did not see much value in sharing that, considering we were not hoping for any help in the first place. It would just plant the idea in our heads but ultimately disappoint us.”

So now we can all share in this empty feeling of having hope that was taken away. Kinda like watching your waiter walk past you with someone else’s food, no?”
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Post  Guy Li Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:37 pm

The small girl remained on the couch while the others spoke, keeping quiet and observing as she picked at the food Saito had given her. She didn't feel like there was much she could contribute. She wasn't capable enough to help, nor did she have any insight or aptitude for strategy. The best thing she could do in this situation was keep out of their way.

Maybe it was best if she just disappeared after all? All she'd managed to do was get these people into danger.

But as she mulled over those thoughts, she heard Aiko's confession.

"...unfortunately I'm one of the bad guys."

Her stomach turned in a knot. The girl who'd seemed the most normal, the most dependable and had done the most to reassure her, was not what she appeared to be. Even with her Heart Reading, Reina couldn't see the truth of a person after all.

And a thought gnawed at the back of her mind.

Could she really trust Aiko after all?

***

The tall stranger in front of Kohaku lifted their cap to reveal an androgynous face framed by short, dark shaggy hair. Their large, almond-shaped eyes were such a deep blue that they were almost black with long, thick eyelashes.

"I guess you can think of me as your white knight." They replied. "Hinako and the others told me there was someone in trouble down here. And this sort of thing is my specialty. You can say it's like a hobby of mine." Naoto released the ticket, allowing Kohaku to take it and she walked across to the entry barrier. "Really, I may not share their sense of style, but I've got a working agreement with those girls. Either way, if you want to get out of here, you can come with me or take that ticket and head somewhere else. Choice is yours."
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:18 am

"Tsubasa-chan, feel free to punch me if you want. You said you only fight bad people, but unfortunately I'm one of the bad guys."

After listening to Aoki and Saito’s explanation, both Tsubasa and her manager nodded briefly.

Tsubasa sighed, taking in all the information she just heard and taking a few moments to ponder on them. That last sentence hit her especially hard. Picturing a possible fight with Aoki left a bitter taste in her mouth. And most importantly, she really couldn't imagine the nice and kind Aoki doing something that drastically bad. It felt like a foreign concept to her. Honestly, she really didn't know the girl or her circumstances. But she knew what she saw before her eyes.

Meanwhile, Aizawa thanked the duo for being honest with them despite the risks in doing so.

Tsubasa took a deep breath.

“Just like Aizawa said here, thank you both for telling the truth. I understand the situation you’re in, more or less. But…”, she then looked deep into Aoki’s soul, “Aoki, you say you’re one of the bad guys, but to me you look like the kindest person standing here right now. So, I guess… if you truly do something bad in the future, if that day ever comes, I’ll take you on your word and punch you so hard that you stop mingling with such a bad crowd, alright? Hahaha. I guess that’s what a friend would do, no? I-I might be wrong, I’ve never had friends before. But to me at least, you’re a good person. I am no hero, so I don’t care about the greater good. As long as you’re a good person in my eyes, that’s all I’m asking for. Although this is maybe a hypocritical and self-centered view of the world, hahaha."

She looked at Saito and pointed at him while yelling: “Same thing goes for you as well of course, Saito! Don't think you're out of this deal!”

Tsubasa smiled and then took a few steps to get closer to Aoki while extending her hand prompting the other girl for a handshake:

“Thank you for being a good person to me Aoki. I look forward to being friends.”

Hearing this, Aizawa couldn't help but proudly smile to himself. It was finally happening. Watabe was finally starting to open up to others and learn how to adapt and integrate with them.

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Post  Aoki Aiko Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:28 pm

The moment of silence after Aiko had come clean about her affiliations felt like an eternity. It felt to her like years had passed in the moment between when she had finished speaking and when Saito chimed in with his own background.  While he spoke, Aiko glanced around the room to try and gauge everyone's reactions to what she had said. Reina over on the couch looked fairly distraught and with good reason. Aiko had been by her side helping to protect her since she escaped and to find out that that person was actually a bad guy too must be shocking. Aizawa on the other hand simply thanked them for being honest. Aiko couldn't really tell what was going through his head at the moment. Outside of the fact that he cared deeply for Tsubasa, she couldn't really get a read on the guy. Aiko's thoughts were then interupted by Tsubasa taking a deep breath. It seemed like she had finished processing what she had just heard, and Aiko was honestly scared to hear the result.

“Just like Aizawa said here, thank you both for telling the truth. I understand the situation you’re in, more or less. But… “Aoki, you say you’re one of the bad guys, but to me you look like the kindest person standing here right now. So, I guess… if you truly do something bad in the future, if that day ever comes, I’ll take you on your word and punch you so hard that you stop mingling with such a bad crowd, alright? Hahaha. I guess that’s what a friend would do, no? I-I might be wrong, I’ve never had friends before. But to me at least, you’re a good person. I am no hero, so I don’t care about the greater good. As long as you’re a good person in my eyes, that’s all I’m asking for. Although this is maybe a hypocritical and self-centered view of the world, hahaha. Same thing goes for you as well of course, Saito! Don't think you're out of this deal!”

Aiko slowly shook her head in disbelief. Tsubasa had decided to look past the Aiko's association with TASK and the things she may have done in the past to see the person that Aiko had been for all there interactions. The only reason Tsubasa could think so highly of her was that she didn't know the full extent of the things Aiko had done. Aiko looked back up at Tsubasa as she walked over and held out her hand.

“Thank you for being a good person to me Aoki. I look forward to being friends.”

Aiko reached out her hand taking Tsubasa's in her own. This had been a wholly unexpected outcome. She even still wanted to be friends.

"I'm going to let you know now, I'm not going to leave my organization. I have my reasons for staying, and that means I'll end up doing more bad stuff, but when I do, I hope you'll be there to set me straight.

Aiko could barely contain the relief she felt. It was so strong she almost though she might cry. But now was not the time, there were potentially people that needed their help.

"Now, Saito and I have picked a location with think would make a good first target. Anyone opposed?"

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Post  Kira Kohaku Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:34 am

Time was running out. No matter what, if she hesitated, the situation could turn irreversible. But, Anko had still not arrived. If she had left Anko behind, there would be no way to get in contact with her again. Though she remembered the number of the phone Anko had let her use to get help for the man who was shot, it was likely that Anko would throw the phone she had away at some point or that calling that number would lead to her being traced.

“My friend.”

Moreover, the new person had not mentioned Anko once. Chances are, they were not even aware of her presence.

“I told my friend I would wait for her here.”

She needed information. She needed to tip the scales. She needed some confirmation about Anko right away.

“I can’t leave Anko-chan behind. I told her I’d trust her to make it here, so I can’t just leave things like this.”

It was the riskiest option for sure. But she could not let herself get caught up in fear and regrets. If she took either option, the catbox would be forever closed and the lingering regret would gnaw away at her.

That was the decision the girl made in a pure calm after clenching upon the ticket in her hand.
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Post  Guy Li Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:20 pm

The location they'd decided on was in the 11th district, the area of the city concerned with shipping and storage of goods into and out of the city. It was far enough out the way that it was likely to be one of the less frequented of the places listed and, with luck, it would be easier to spot any unusual activity from afar. This suspicion was confirmed as they drew closer to the building. The warehouse didn't stand out in any way. It was large and wide with a sloped roof of corrugated metal designed to slide open to provide access for the cranes above when moving the large shipping containers and joined to a small office on one side.

The district was largely automated, so there were few people around anyway and given that they'd chosen night to make their move, that number dwindled even further. The district was practically a ghost town. And even so, there was a sense that it was worryingly quiet.

Outside the office, there was no sign of movement. The lights were on but the tinted windows obscured the interior. The door to the office was ajar, a sliver of light creeping through the gap. And inside...

Devastation.

A trail of destruction had been left through the office. Desks broken and computer screens shattered. Papers littered the floor. The occupants had fared no better. One was slumped against the far wall in a dazed state. Another hung halfway through an empty window frame leading into the warehouse proper. A third was sprawled out over the floor. Whatever had occurred here must have happened only recently, because none of them seemed close to stirring.

***

Naoto stood at the barrier, waiting for the girl to make up her mind.

Come on... just take the ticket and leave... she urged Kohaku mentally.

“My friend. I told my friend I would wait for her here. I can’t leave Anko-chan behind. I told her I’d trust her to make it here, so I can’t just leave things like this.”

Naoto closed her eyes and grit her teeth.

Dammit. It was always something with these types... She clenched her own ticket in her fist and hit that fist against the wall of the barrier, tapping her feet impatiently as she fought a battle with herself. She should just leave. This was above her pay grade. If what the others had said was true, whoever was after this girl were packing automatic weapons and military grade equipment. They weren't just cheap thugs... There was no reason for her to stick her neck out more than she already had.

Naoto looked back towards the girl sat on the bench.

Dammit...

She sat down beside the other girl. She never could turn her back on a stray.

"Fine. We'll wait. But if the guys chasing you turn up, we're making a run for it.

I just hope we'll have a route out of here if they do...

"So. Your friend... Anko, was it? What's she like? Must be a pretty good friend for you to risk yourself like this."
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Post  Saito Hirashi Sat Mar 06, 2021 4:51 pm

The area around the warehouse was quiet as anticipated.

“Everything looks good so far. I will go ahead first and scout the place, less chance of us getting caught by surprise this way.”

Upon making the approach to the building, Hirashi spotted the light spilling out of the open door.


Pushing open the door quietly, Hirashi was greeted by the sight of utter destruction which the room was visited by. Any other person might have backed out at that stage, or at least relay the situation to his companions. But given Hirashi’s insatiable curiosity, he pushed onwards just a little more.

Hirashi wanted to push ahead a little bit further without the interference of his companions. Mad Biker’s overly-zealous approach to life in general would be a problem. As for Hoodie Girl, whilst her personality was more reserved and more suited for this task, it was already established she had some ties to powerful and unknown backers. So Hirashi cannot help but to feel guarded when she was watching him.

Hirashi first tried to determine whether the room's occupants were still in the land of the living. Unsure of the cause of their death/unconsciousness, Hirashi avoided touching or even getting near the motionless bodies on the floor. Crouched in a corner, Hirashi noticed the rising and falling of their chests, indicating they were still breathing. Not wanting to leave his six exposed, he quickly pulled out a roll of tape from his backpack and secured the sleeping occupants before pushing on to the next room.
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Post  Aoki Aiko Tue Mar 09, 2021 4:04 am

The makeshift team had finally come to a consensus and chosen their first target, a warehouse situated in district 11. Being in the mostly automated shipping district, there were very few people about as they group made their way to the target. From the outside, the building seemed completely ordinary. They type the you would look over without a second thought. It was unassuming enough that if they didn't already know all the locations, Aiko probably wouldn't have suspected it. The only thing odd about the building was that the front door was slightly open and an unlocked door was not something Aiko had been expecting from this group.

“Everything looks good so far. I will go ahead first and scout the place, less chance of us getting caught by surprise this way.”

Saito then ran off towards the building and slipped though the slightly opened front door. Saito was a weird case for Aiko. She definitely didn't trust him, at least not like she trusted Tsubasa, but she felt like she could at least rely on him. Aiko gave Saito a minute or two, and after no alarms had been raised, decided to follow him into the building.

"I'm heading in next. If you want to come with me, stick close, I can keep us relatively hidden."

Without waiting to see if anyone followed, Aiko started moving stealthily towards the warehouse, while at the same time shifting her electron field to drape her an anyone near her in shadows. A solid dome of darkness would have made them impossible to see, though the dome itself would stick out more, so just generally darker had a better effect for stealth.  As Aiko entered the office through the open door, she was surprised by the scene in-front of her. Utter destruction. As if a storm had swept though the room. Those who looked like they were supposed to be guarding the place were unconscious and also being tied up Saito. He seemed rather good at tying people up. Aiko made her way over to Saito and whispered as to not alert any potentially conscious denizens.  

"What happened to them? Can you tell? To be honest, this is nowhere close to what I was expecting. Do you think there may be someone besides us coming after these guys?"

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Post  Kira Kohaku Tue Mar 09, 2021 4:07 am

The mysterious savior. Kohaku could not help but let out a quick smile as she saw their frustration and resignation towards her words. They were not wrong to be frustrated though.

Kohaku, logical as she was, knew she had taken the riskiest option. For the two of them, either of the safe options the savior had proffered would have been better, but she was glad that they were willing to meet her halfway on her own selfishness.

The two of them would be playing an extreme game of Chicken from then on. They would do everything they could to maximize their chances of seeing Anko and escaping together.

Until then, she could take a seat.

“That’s fine. If it comes to that, I’ll find another way to meet up with her again.”

But, until the time came that they could or needed to run, she would wait with bated breath.

“To be honest, I only met her yesterday. If anything, it’s thanks to her that I’m even in danger. But she’s been doing her best to keep me safe despite it all and has been trying to get me out of this from the start. She’s a good person, so even if she’s the one who pulled me into this, I can’t abandon her to face all of it alone.”

It was a misguided sense of kindness and a poorly articulated one at that. But it was hers.

She would be damned before she let anyone trample over that.
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Post  Watabe Tsubasa Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:50 pm

They finally arrived at their destination. The area was eery and deserted.

“Everything looks good so far. I will go ahead first and scout the place, less chance of us getting caught by surprise this way.”

Saito ventured into the facility on his own before anyone else. Tsubasa couldn't tell if he was overly cautious or overly reckless.

After a couple of minutes have passed, Aiko followed suit:

"I'm heading in next. If you want to come with me, stick close, I can keep us relatively hidden."

Tsubasa's legs subconsciously started moving. She wasn't necessarily scared or anything like that. She just had a gut feeling that this place was bad news and it was safer to stick together.

"Come on, Raina-chan. Let's go too."

Inside, the place was utterly in ruins. What made it even more shocking was the presence of unconscious body all around.

'What the hell happened here?'

Tsubasa witnessed Saito tying them all up. It made her skin crowl. Aiko said she was from "the bad side", but with how things were unravelling up to this point, Saito was proving to be the creepier and more susppicious one in terms of behavior. It's like he came prepared to find this kind of scene or something.

"What happened to them? Can you tell? To be honest, this is nowhere close to what I was expecting. Do you think there may be someone besides us coming after these guys?

She heard Aiko's question, and it made Tsubaa realise how much uneasy she was getting. Because she was starting to sweat a lot.

"I don't know. I really... don't. Maybe they fought another group, or had some infighting? It's a wild guess."

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Post  Guy Li Sat Mar 13, 2021 5:55 pm

“That’s fine. If it comes to that, I’ll find another way to meet up with her again. To be honest, I only met her yesterday. If anything, it’s thanks to her that I’m even in danger. But she’s been doing her best to keep me safe despite it all and has been trying to get me out of this from the start. She’s a good person, so even if she’s the one who pulled me into this, I can’t abandon her to face all of it alone.”

Naoto nodded, resting her back against the wall with her jacket drawn about her and her hands thrust into the pockets. The large collar surrounded her chin, leaving only a thin slit beneath her hat where her grey-blue eyes stared into the middle distance.

"That's admirable." She said. "Not sure it's that smart, but it's admirable." So they waited.

And as time passed, Naoto's tension loosened its grip on her. It became clear that whoever was chasing Kohaku and her friend were not going to come storming through the station entrance. But as that anxiety passed, another took its place. If this Anko girl hadn't found them, then the chances were, she'd... Naoto slipped a subtle glance towards Kohaku.

The city outside had grown dark. They'd be closing the subway lines soon. It was time to broach the subject.

"Hey. Listen." Naoto leaned forward, resting her forearms on her knees and lacing her fingers. "There's no easy way to say this, but I don't think this friend of yours is coming."

***

As if to answer the group's confusion, a loud crash echoed through the office.

"Motherfucker!" A desperate, angry voice snarled from the next room. the low lighting showed only a flash of a silhouette as a figure staggered backwards past the door, throwing something desperately back the way they came. Another figure came barrelling after them, deflecting the projectile with a wild swing of their arm. But they were stopped dead in their tracks as the defender heaved the door violently into their face, knocking them down to the ground with another metallic slamming sound. The first figure stumbled forward unsteadily and delivered a clumsy, but strong kick to the downed attacker's head before collapsing against the doorframe with their back to the group, panting.

The dim light obscured Guy's features as he slowly raised his head and looked back towards the newcomers. He took a moment to steady his breathing.

"You guys don't look like Skill Out. And I'm really hoping that's the case. I'm really not in the mood for another fight." He sounded utterly weary.
Guy Li
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