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And there it was, that extraordinary incident.

Even from the rear of the camp, the burning tree was easy enough to spot, its crash thunderous. Immediately, Elodie was on the move, her Blasting Rod in hand as she rushed past the melee of knights and bandits. With so much steel and death around, few paid attention to the brunette that slipped into the camp itself. Keeping quiet and subdued, the artificer kept careful watch over her surroundings as she got closer and closer to the keystone to the bandit's success. That was all that mattered, after all; if what she had witnessed at the rear was any indication, the bandits were wholly worthless against the regular armor without this.

So even if a couple of them escaped, that was within the realm of expertise of regular towns' guards. Only the Bandit King's head had to be taken to consider this a victory.

The acrid stench of smoke grew stronger as she approached. The blazing tree had set surrounding tents ablaze as well, creating a fiery, breath-stealing arena. Few would last long here, but this fight wouldn't last long. Jeremiah had a thick neck, but prodigious size did not dissuade the sharpened blade. Readjusting the goggles over her eyes, Elodie grimaced at the stink, before leveling her weapon unto the bare-chested man.

But Elodie did not fire. Not yet.

Fanilly was the Knight-Captain, after all. She deserved a chance to earn glory before all else.

Late Noon///Floor 3

A jet of mud swamped Oben completely, but all Varanense thought about was how lucky they were that the lizard wasn't a fire-breather. Someone else could get the masked swordsman out; he'd have to continue the onslaught instead. Both eyes were down. His breathing was still under control. Setting the crossbow against the ground, the tanned archer slotted in the next bolt and pulled the string upwards with the entire strength of his body. There was a click, and he kicked up his oversized weapon once more, weaving behind the pillars to get the angle on another vital target.

The monster wasn't moving now. The next will be its sense of smell. Positioning himself in front of the beast, Varanense let out another sharp breath. "Firing!" he called, praying that the others would have the sense to stay still while a projectile shot from behind them.

And then, of course, he did fire. With a powerful whump, the arrow flew for right nostril, and already, he was reloading. It wasn't normal for him to try so hard, but then again, Dahlia was looking rather spartan and might actually allow them to get a couple of broken bones and ruptured organs before stepping in.

Woah, this was certainly different from the coliseum-esque setup back in Genesis. Lighting through magical gems was certainly sublime, and Cecilia was already thinking about asking the receptionist where such jewels could be obtained; they’d be a marvelous addition to her next outfit. Her feet shifted against the sand gently, feeling how easily the terrain gave away, while her lungs drew in that slightly salty, slightly humid air. A kaleidoscope of color reflected off her polished spear, and she drew a grin at the design of Gaius’s gun.

“Cerberus? Nice taste, my Gai.”

An easy compliment, as she swapped out her equipment to be more combat-friendly. There was no reply from Kira. Had the great demon retired to her bed so soon? The frown that emerged at that thought quickly disappeared, and Cecilia raised her voice again. “Alright, I’ll be counting down now! 5...4...3...2…”

Her legs coiled, power that could rival the strike of lightning gathering in.


And with that, Cecilia shot forwards, a small explosion of sand behind her. In her hands, the Steel Spear spun, a blur as she flourished it.

“Cerberus? No.” Gaius chuckled, back pedalling as she advanced. “Meet Witty Retort and Break a Leg, my own inventions!” He drew a second gun, another triple barrel pistol and grinned. The girl seemed confident and he couldn’t wait to knock her down a peg.

Spear still spinning, Cecilia bounded onwards, chasing her quarry down. With a sudden burst of speed, she closed what distance remained, the sand exploding behind her as she dove in shield-first.

With that, she was in, her spear driving into Gaius, lodged into his body. Drawing in a sharp breath, the Lancer used her entire body as a spring, the wooden shaft of her spear flexing as it snapped upwards, lifting, and then tossing him straight up into the air.

The second Cecelia made contact, everything went fuzzy. Gauis struggled to blink the fog from his head but a sudden flare of pain and his stomach dropping out from under him did it instead. His vision cleared just in time to find himself hurtled up in the air and a volley of swear words ripped from his lips as he brought up Break A Leg and fired after a few seconds.

“Shouldn’t swear in front of a lady,” Cecilia replied with a wink and a smile. Her buckler was too small to completely absorb the gunfire that rained down below, but the pain was negligible, the deflected bullet piercing into her shoulder but not hitting the bone. As Gaius fell, the lilac-haired warrior decided to help him. The Steel Spear shot outwards like quicksilver once more, catching onto the falling man’s ribs before pulling him downwards.

"Already proved I'm faster than lightning though." Gauis smirked through the pain of being slammed into the ground. She was a monster on the field but he had a few tricks up his sleeve of his own. He didn't invent these guns for nothing. He brought Witty Retort to bear against her, triggering it's special ability as he fired.

But close range was Cecilia’s domain, and this close, it was much easier for her to get out of the way of the barrel. The three-barreled pistol roared out, its bullets slicing through her hair as Cecilia pulled off to the side, her body twisting out of the way. There was definitely some ridiculous power packed in those shells, huh? The lancer let out a low whistle. None of her counterattack passives triggered, but that was fine.

“And looks like I’m faster still.” She reciprocated his good-natured smirk. This Cecilia enjoyed someone who could exchange verbal jabs too.

"As much as I hate to admit it, you don't get cred-" He let out a help as he was thrown skyward again. Maybe he shouldn't have been quite so cocky but he gritted his teeth, throwing his weight to control his spinning and let out another shot with Break A Leg, the bullet clocking Cecilia right between the eyes for a critical hit."You know how to build a man up, don't you?"

Cecilia’s head snapped back at the critical hit, stars bursting in her vision. If this was real life, that’d have been a killing blow right there. But it wasn’t. And she wasn’t nearly so fragile that she’d call it quits right here! Swinging her head back, her smile turned feral as she crouched down and...charged. Not horizontally, but vertically, shedding the chains of gravity as she shot up to meet the airborne Gaius.

Guias grunted as the spear pierced him, hit health practically vanishing before slamming to a halt at 1 HP. He slammed into the ground, panting as he stared up at the girl grinning ferally. He groaned, covering his eyes at the system announced Cecilia the winner of this duel, and struggled to his feet as Health, Mana, and Cool Downs were reset by the Arena system. He sheathed his weapons and stuck out his hand.

“Good match. Though I’ll admit, I got my butt handed to me.” He grinned impishly, a twinkle in his eye. “When I level up some, I expect a rematch!”

Cecilia laughed, clasping his hand for a firm shake. "I'll look forward to it," she replied, boisterous and confident, "Just keep in mind I'll be leveling up as well, friend, and adjust your expectations accordingly."

With that, she stepped away from the impromptu ring, her golden eyes sweeping over to the rest of the combatants. Though it wasn't a serious enough occasion to warrant the obssessive analysis that some of her classmates would be down for, Cecilia wasn't satisfied with a single victory. The prize money may be attractive, yes, but what she wanted more than that was recognition and fame. Let the audience bear witness to her valor and technique, and let that word spread. What better way to gather more reputation than to be seen as strong and approachable.

In the spur of the moment, she blew a kiss towards the onlookers, before her gaze settled once more on the other ongoing matches, looking for other outstanding individuals.
It seemed like Oscar's decision on the track had been the correct one. Despite walking hours and hours in darker getting... darkness, they finally arrived at what was presumably their 'camp'. The place where that particular woman was in charge. Yet, having walked hours upon hours towards a goal that they potentially wouldn't have reached was exhausting enough that she was about done caring.

"We did it..." Somewhat relieved, those were the only words spoken towards her travel partner with a firm nod.

Unlike the cold cold night, the fire was warm. And there was food, too! Sharing some of the fat she bought with others, even the worst brew was a most welcome one under these circumstances. And not like she would follow her evening training's regime while on a mission.

Nonetheless, just wanting to calm down for a moment, it was in the end not supposed to be so. Muu only listened partially, way past 'I am done with your bullshit.', to Oscar and Ettamri arguing. Something about pathetically armored goblins eating their quarry on the spot rather than returning it to the supposed-to-be goblin village. Oscar could have mentioned those details, maybe he did, Muu didn't care.

She really did not.
Maybe, somewhere in-between, the tall bitch called her idiot again.
But she was beyond caring.

This was exactly what she had tried to tell Ettamri before.
She did not listen.
She did not learn.
For she was Miss Privileged of House Nobody Cares.
And somehow, she was still the leader?

Maybe they were lucky enough to not have any major, difficult encounter.

Instead, Muu focused on her meal and possible maintenance of her weapons and limbs. There was only so much attention one could pay after walking hours and hours clinging on just a bit of hope.

That was, at least, until the person closest to a light in the darkness spoke up. Katya, with her child like innocence, tried telling Ettamri exactly what Muu had told her a day or two ago.

She was a child.
But that was no excuse.
Yet, nonetheless, Ettamri's words were potential, slow poison.

No. Sure, Muu wasn't the most cheerful herself, but she nonetheless sought harmony in the many parties she had been a part of. Maybe it was because Katya reminded her of something. Maybe it was because Muu was simply a horrible person that, somehow, still cared about keeping that cat fight up. Or maybe it was a swing of the mood and she was, nonetheless, just as much of a horrible person as Ettamri by using a child.

"No." Muu spoke, to Katya.

"Don't listen to her." She gave the little girl a gentle smile. Gosh, did all kids radiate like that? "You're correct. Teamwork and getting along is very important for success. Don't let anyone make you otherwise. You just have to realize..." Yeah, she couldn't do it. She would not use this kid to get to Ettamri like some coward... not that she had any qualms about honor, but still. "... sometimes, people have to get words off their chest."

Instead, Muu — now finished talking with Katya — looked at Ettamri. "You." Had she put much thought into her words? For her? No.

"Stop being a privileged little—" She stopped for a moment. "—person..." Weak! "...and get of your high horse from castle-nobody-gives-a-fuck for a second and listen. Listen well. We're all in this together and you're not any better, or worse, than any of us. Katya is right. I've told you this before, teamwork and harmony is important. And you're constantly disturbing it. Increasing our chances for failure. Makes only sense, no?" That was a lot calmer than Muu wanted it to be.

"As for the goblins, they were too badly equipped to be part of any threatening commune. Not to mention they ate their catch on the spot. You know. Instead of bringing it back to whatever village they might have belonged to like Goblins would usually do. How's that for evidence?"

It didn’t take an expert to realize that the situation was escalating again. No more than fifteen minutes ago he finished his argument with the knightess and now the situation seemed to replicate again. But now it was between Muu and Ettamri, though judging from their apparently bad history with one another, it was likely that the ending of this confrontation would lead to more than just irritation and hurt feelings. Quietly he readies himself while standing on his perch, prepared to intervene in the situation if things get more intense than it needs to be.

Argen heard as the small bladedancer begin to continue the same argument that was just finished. This might be from her anger in that they are being punished for doing a small thing with little consequence to them. It could also be because she was getting annoyed of Ettamri and had enough of what she had to say, whatever it is, it could get ugly as they showed some animosity before. Argen made an audible sigh as he stands and finally breaks his silence, “Can we not for the night. We just finally found our way around the river and made some shelter against a cold death. We can finally make our way through and complete this. Can we hold these grudges for a few more days and get back to the city so we can split ways?”

Agren didn’t want a fight to break out right now as it would lead to multiple people getting hurt, god forbid worst. Yet, he knew the large one was worked up and could go off from anymore words, especially from the Bladedancer. ‘With everyone being tired and cold, what everyone needed right now was a good fight with those around them, absolutely’. Argen took hold of his gear and moved it away from him, he knew if people started fighting they could begin dragging others into the fight and he didn’t want to get hurt while not even being involved in some old issues. He began to gesture towards Katya to come over near him so she doesn’t get caught up immediately.

This was…difficult, wasn’t it?

It was a bad situation that got worse and worse as time went on. Though Katya was only twelve years old, she wasn’t nearly as impressionable as assumed. The blue-haired priest, bundled up in her clothing, narrowed her eyes and tried to think about both sides. Ettamri was right. It wasn’t ok for Muu and Oscar to end up being that mad about being left behind; time was a resource that everyone shared. But Ettamri was wrong too. Being nice and coddling others was basically all that priests did. An injury was a mistake that Alri-Qua forgave. Saving a flagging teammate was something to be praised for; if the weakest were abandoned, parties would simply become groups of one. And yet, there was still parts where Ettamri was right. It wasn’t ever good to make everyone else work extra hard because you weren’t able to hold up your own weight. Endangering yourself wasn’t alright, and endangering others while endangering yourself was worse.

All sides were valid. It was just a matter of perspective. Muu fed everything to the fire. Argen tried to interpose. Renault decided not to speak up. Oscar was already gone off to his own watch. Siwon slept. The snow continued to fall and melt around the campfire. It never felt as if any of them would be dry.

Katya gulped. She didn’t have too much time to think, too much time to stay still. What was a priest supposed to do here?

What would Alri-Qua do?

Katya looked Argen in the eyes and shook her head. Then, she hopping up on top the log-seat, wobbled a bit, and basically fell on top of Ettamri, giving the armored knight a hug. It wasn’t as if either of them could feel the heat from each other’s bodies, and Ettamri was fully capable of plucking Katya off and tossing the turnip into the fire, but the little priest did so anyways, burying her face in plate and cloth. “It’s ok,” she said. “You’re right, Ettamri. It's not good for someone to make trouble for others because they can't take care of themself. I know you’re saying this because you think about everyone, and you’re mad that everyone’s only thinking about themselves. But that’s normal. It’s easier to be selfish with people who you’ve never met, easier to be selfish with people you dislike. That’s why you still need to be nice, because, y'know, you can't make friends with people who are good but not nice.”

A pause. Katya tried to move her head back up, but suddenly, sparkles of pain shot up her scalp. Oh no, did her hair get squeezed between the sheets of metal?

“…it must be hard, being a leader of people you don’t know. That’s why you need to know them, and you need to make all of them like each other. This isn’t an army. This is a party. But a party that’s always fighting is just dead.”

The last words came as a whisper, unheard by anyone but the two girls.

Whether Katya's words were disregarded, whether Ettamri exploded, whether Muu remained hostile, in the end, it was the night that won out. Temperatures continued to fall, the untended fireplace soon turned into naught but dead embers. Katya extricated herself eventually, heading off into the snow hostel made by Renault, waving goodnight to all still outside, and one by one, others followed. Only those assigned to stay up and guard the camp remained awake, with nothing but the howling winds and the crinkling of fallen snow breaking the silence. Occasionally, the horses snorted, and occasionally, wood groaned. There was nothing to see, nothing to do, naught but darkness, illuminated by the reflection of light off snow.

It was the night watch. Soon, everything gave way to monotony and boredom.
In Re:Unison 6 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Time had passed, and never had it felt more apparent than for the golem to stride into civilization and feel utterly out of place. Its brethren had gone far in the years it had been sleeping, outlandish shapes incorporating grand technology, accessorized and optimized by techniques that did not exist during its own era. Fragile, beautiful flesh belied titanic strength that once only the Monstrous could possess, but, at the very least, the inconvenience of its size remained; travelling through the city had been like walking on eggshells.

It was a nostalgic feeling while it lasted. Like the first time the doctor allowed it inside the workshop. The first time the guard allowed it to stay in town. The first time the herbologist allowed it to touch that orphaned child. So many years. So many firsts. And there were many more to come, first blessings and first sufferings.

It had been a first too, being inducted into the academy, though it was not a first, seeing the awe and the suspicion, the fear and the wonder, in the eyes of students when it strode through campus. So too was it a first, to see constructs battle each other as a test of skill rather than a trial of survival. Had a peaceful world allowed them to fight without fear that one would take it too far? Or had a violent world allowed them to find joy in the throes of battle? Ayesha, at least, was not drawn into that same atmosphere of brutal promotion. It had observed her through each of her refusals, not out of interest, but out of posterity.

Children were products of their society. As Ayesha acclimated to the wanton nature of her peers, even as she simply aged, the Ayesha who would refuse an opportunity to bolster her reputation would disappear, a flower wilting to feed the next bloom.

It would accommodate her even when she became a warmonger. And if it would do so then, the golem had no reason not to do so now, for a reason as noble as wishing to save someone in dire straits.

A low rumble of assent, as ancient as the mountains themselves, resounded between the jagged slit that made up Adamas’s mouth. The golem, in its smallest form of two meters, charged soon after, hands grabbing and pushing against the ground to propel itself faster and faster. Within moments, the construct was upon the fanged beast, and it launched itself right at them, intending to tackle, before transitioning into a grapple.
In Re:Unison 7 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
@Hammermanwhatever works with you. Adamas's is receptive to most things.
In Re:Unison 7 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
@Hammerman I'll let you go first to decide our trajectory n all.

And we start a new dayyyyyy.

The Galaxy attack has become headliner news in Tenoroshi, and national news channels are talking about it as well. Of course, they largely focus on Daehyun's survival rather than the 'unnamed deceased youth', because, well, who cares about the kiddo lmao. If anyone wants to visit Galaxy, it's taped off by the police and while some curious fellows are snapping pictures, the police are largely telling people to back off.

Right now, it's around 9-10 AM. The weather is pleasantly moderate. I'll let y'all figure out your own starting positions and trajectories this time. I think most of y'all have things to do now? If you have any questions or clarifications, as always, hit me up. Now I'll regret being so inefficient in the construction of this post. Time to yeet myself to bed.
Somewhere Else; Sometime Else
The automobile thrummed like a beast, letting out an inaudible growl as it streamed through the streets, bobbing and weaving around lesser vehicles. Though auto-pilot still required a human driver to keep an eye on everything, pressing the brakes when approaching a red light and all, they were on the freeway, looping around the outskirts of Tenoroshi. Off in the distance, the scintillating lights of the Central District merged into a mass of light, but all around them, only the fluorescent hi-beams of the sleek car pierced through the darkness. The mountains made for nice, scenic drives during the day, but at night, it was foreboding instead, a crushing blackness that swallowed everything whole.

Neither occupant of the vehicle were concerned by that, however. A youth in over-sized clothing, the haute couture of the streets, reclined on his seat, kicking his feet up, while the sharply-dressed man was relaxed as well, his eyes free to wander even when each shadow within the mountains could have hid a monster. The radio played a sappy ballad, guitar strings in the minor scale.

“Long day?” Were the man’s words, once even the city lights were hidden by the terrain around them.

The youth shook his head. “Naw, car rides just make me sleepy. You? Don’tcha have something to deal with right now?”

“Got some others looking into it.”

A sharp laugh. “Right, that’s your whole deal, ain’t it. Pretty sure it’d be dealt with plenty fast if you just hired Ghost again.”
“The yakuza have their pride. And they’ll work for free. Not as if you enjoyed accruing her payment either.”

He held his hands up in surrender. “True, true. Kicked my pet project hella off schedule with that, y’know?” A shrug, and he popped open the mini-fridge for a bottle. “Well, we’re even with this anyhow, yeah?”

The man tapped the car’s roof, an unseen compartment opening up to reveal a piece of paper. Black script scrolled chaotically all over the page, and the material itself seemed to glow softly in the darkness. “You’d like to do the honors?”

A hidden grin was the response. “Gladly.” With swift motions, the contract was shredded, reduced to naught but narrow strips that burnt away without a trace. “And here you are, friend.”

A glass container was put into the man’s outstretched hand. He brought close, inspecting the contents that swam in formaldehyde. An eye, dark brown, spinning slowly in response to the car’s own movements. It was an eye just like any other eye when divorced from a face, but still, the contract would not have been broken if it were not the genuine article. He grimaced, shook his head.

“Sup? Don’t tell me she wanted the right eye?”

“No, it’s good.” A simple smile belied cold words. “Still confounds me, why Ghost collects things like this.”

“Well, it’s what it is.” A pause, and the youth’s eyes crinkled mischievously. “By the way, I heard Firefly visited?”

The man’s smile remained in place. “No, it was simply a kitchen accident.”

The Southwestern District was at full swing this time of night, hostesses and hosts preying on the gullible and the lonely, their voices bright and cheerful even though this would be their third ‘date’ of the night. Neon lights blinded the bleary-eyed drunkards, while taxis patrolled the district, looking for intoxicated passengers to scam. Though the streets could never be considered ‘heavily populated’, a constant stream of humanity passed by, the unloved insomniacs of Tenoroshi here to fill the gaps in their heart. It was primetime for the gigolos, and Kento was working full-swing in Galahad’s, one side of his face totally sore from all the winking he had to do, his liver practically shot to death by all the shots he took. But work was work, and he made more in one night than most salarymen did in a whole year. Shame that most of his clientele were tryhard fuglies, but, well…

If they were paying for a dream rather than living it, that’s probably the type of people they were.

“Kenshin!” called the newbie, some nerd at the bar counter who still blushed when older women flirted with him (poor kid wasn’t going to last long here). “Table seven.”

“Thanks!” was his spirited response back, a kiss blown towards his current partner before he wheeled off to the latest. Jealousy was the best way into a woman’s wallet, after all. The champagne calls may be murder to his kidneys, but that was just what he had to deal with. With a confident gait that accentuated the sway of his hips and his tight ass, the yellow-eyed ikemen put on his most charming smile and said, “Good evening, darling. I was wondering when a real beauty would sh-”

Red eyes, broad shoulders, and hair like a lion’s mane, slicked backwards in scarlet curls. Her tone was curt, sharp. “Cut the crap, Kento. I’m here for business.”

Kento did cut his crap, and sighed. Turning over his shoulder to mark down where his boss was, the host quickly sat down. “Geez, Suzume, couldn’t you at least pretend you’re in-”


“Fine, fine. Whatever you say, princess. But at least buy a dri-”

“I’ll have ice water.”
A pause, and she allowed the smallest fragment of sympathy. “And I’ll order a green tea for you.”

Kento grinned lop-sidedly. “Well then, guess I can stick around for a bit. Anyways, sup?”

Suzume closed her eyes, as if deciding how much to share, how much was safe. “You hear about any new drugs on the market?”

The ikemen was taken aback by this, a questioning look in his eyes. “Suzume…”

The lioness shook her head. “No, Christ, I’m not looking for a dealer here. Dunno what’s going on, but the Hiritsugi-kai’s recently lost something, and they’ve mobilized hella resources looking for it.”

“Since when were bikers part of the yakuza?”

“That’s the thing. They lost something big enough that they’re enlisting outside help.”
Suzume tapped her finger against the table. “If it’s money, it’d be one thing, but…”

“Hey now, your old man didn’t tell you anything?”
Kento arched a brow.

Suzume stared at him. “If he did, would I be here?”

“Point taken.”

“Well? Heard anything?”

He mulled over it carefully, considering, before his eyes lit up. Leaning forward onto the table, like a lover whispering sweet nothings, the man dropped his voice to a whisper. “It’s just hearsay and I’ve no idea if there’s any substance to it, but…”

Suzume leaned in as well, her own eyes flickering around in search for eavesdroppers. “Go on.”

“…have you ever heard of Angel Fix?”

It took only a glance, and the enforcer said, “She’s not the one.”

“Huh?” Isokaze blinked, bafflement overriding machismo for a moment, before he guffawed. “Oi oi, what are you saying, man? Not trynna play games here, ar-”

The beady-eyed man glared. That was all it took to cow the biker. “You fucked up, kid, taking a civilian.” He turned, swift strides carrying him out of the warehouse.

“W-wait, what are we supposed to do about her? Hey, Rengou!”

The door slammed shut, echoing loudly through the empty space. It had been a stupid plan, taking someone who only looked like the woman in the picture to appease that black-hearted enforcer, but everyone who looked to dip their toes into Tenoroshi’s underworld knew never to keep the Hiritsugi-kai waiting. The girl had been their back-up, really, in the worst case scenario of none of the bosozoku actually finding anything…but the worst case had come past, and they’d been found out. Four days now. Four days where they had nothing to show for it. And now they had to deal with this by themselves?

The dozen-odd gang had done racketeering before. Extortion, intimidation, thievery. But for all their bluster, all their threats, none of them was a killer. Schoolgirls disappeared, and no one bats an eye, sure, but that didn’t change the fundamental truth that if they were caught, they were screwed for life. Shit, and none of them had the foresight to have worn masks or blinded that bitch as well. Couldn’t just return her now, could they? How many biker gangs were there in Tenoroshi? Not enough that they could hide like a tree in a forest.

Fear and paranoia spread virulently, and for the first time, Isokaze truly felt the weight that accompanied being a leader. It had been cool before, being the baddest of them all, being called ‘older brother’, having physically older bikers treat him with the respect that he deserved, but now…

“Fuck. Fuck Rengou! Fucking shit!” The lanky biker griped, stomping the ground, kicking the air. “God fucking damnit, what the hell?! Who even came up with this idea?”

“Uh,” one of the younger members said, “Y-you d-”

“DON’T PIN THIS ON ME!” He howled back, livid. “WE VOTED, RIGHT?! WE ALL DID THIS!” Manic eyes turned to his compatriots, no, his subordinates, stress bubbling up. No one wanted to point out that it had been only his idea.

They actively flinched, their own fear fueling his indignant rage. He was still the baddest motherfucker around, the top dog of the pavement, Tenoroshi’s Kamikaze Wheeler. Something, there had to be something he could do still. Just had to find the actual girl, right? Easy enough, short hair, big tits, a dark eyes…hell no, that was literally half the girls in this city!

“Shit, shit, SHIT!” This had to be a setup by Rengou! That damned baldy, giving them an impossible task like that. Literally planned their failure from the get go! Isokaze paled, features drawn tight with fury.

And then, at the height of his frustration and anger, his fear and his despair, a sharp laugh sounded, drawing the attention of all in the warehouse.

“Serves you right,” their abductee smirked, eyes burning between strands of matted black hair, “Daddy not gonna bail you out this time, huh? Better lube up yo-”

A boot swung into her face. The clause of ‘not damaging the head’ no longer applied. Her head snapped to the side, but before she could fall over, the lanky biker grabbed her by the hair, pulling her back up. “What did you fucking say, bitch? You think I’m not a threat? Think I won’t kill you?”

But three days of captivity hadn’t dented her own hatred, and through bloody lips, she grinned. Grinned and spat her broken tooth into his eye.

The pain was instant, debilitating. Isokaze screeched, stumbling back. Paralyzed by the sudden violence from their once-docile captive, none of the others could move, and in that instant, the bound girl ran, the ropes binding her feet together falling apart. So long, it had taken, to work it loose, and now, she stumbled through the length of the warehouse, each step causing pins and needles to shoot up her legs. Close, so close, she could taste the night air, even as her mouth was filled with her own blood.

Five meters – three meters – two – one!

Someone crashed into her, driving her face-first into the ground. The impact brought stars into her vision, tears into her eyes, but it didn’t stop at one. The second turned her vision red, the third her vision dark. Each was punctuated by a furious exclamation, but by then, her ears couldn’t make out anything. A concussion, that’s what she had. So close. So unlucky. Her mind was ringing. Her body writhed, but couldn’t push the mass pinning her down. And she was so tired.

It was almost disappointing. She had always thought she was tougher than that.

But perhaps that was just the lie she told, to stay strong.


In that blackening world, she felt the ground, vibrating with each step.

In that blackening world, she saw that figure, beneath a black umbrella on a day without rain.

In that blackening world, she heard those words, a curse and an oath spoken with the ferocity of the planet’s core.

“The faithless pray for light.
The hopeless pray for warmth.
But you are neither.
And I am the Fire.”

Bright flame burned away the blackening world, leaving nothing but white ash in its wake.

Monday, April 10 20XX
Time: Morning
Weather: Blue Skies and Sparse Clouds


For once, Tenoroshi Docks operated as normal. Though it was certainly tragic what happened in order for some semblance of peace to befall the area, for the dock workers, it was a worthy tradeoff. None of them particularly cared for some Korean star mucking around their workplace, after all, and shipments came and went smoothly, uninterrupted by pyrotechnics and squealing fangirls. Indeed, attention had instead been shifted onto Tenoroshi Central Hospital, small hordes of supporters placing flowers and written prayers at the front entrance; the tabloids had sniffed out Daehyun's trail quickly enough, but hospitals still garnered respect. The poor custodian who was sent by upper administration to clear out all the decorative garbage was quickly mobbed and verbally chased off, however. Looked as if respect only went for the interior of the building.

Overhead, the sun shone brightly, an oddly cheery day considering the events that had recently transpired. The attack in Galaxy had gained national coverage overnight, tens of thousands of people weighing in with their uneducated opinions. Wilder ones came from people who sought something along the lines of 'martial arts control', with mandatory psychological tests taken by people who sought to learn martial arts (Marina's movements, though savage, were clearly trained in some way), while others saw this as an indication that Japan needed to tighten up their restrictions on allowing non-Asian individuals to cross the border into the island-nation. It was all wild stuff, but with social media fires stoked by sensationalist titles that were more interested in why ex (technically hiatus'd) 8team member MiA was with Daehyun during the fateful incident, the fervor of the fandom seemed poised to bear right down upon the reclusive artist. Some pointed out that she and Daehyun always had a rocky relationship, perhaps one that would culminate in her leading the star into such a sketchy venue to begin with. Others pointed out that she seemed awfully close to that teenager (what was his name again?) who had been caught in the crossfire between psycho-blonde and Daehyun, and that there could totally be some weird cradle-snatching-love-rectangle going on. Regardless of how outlandish it was, the 'tragedy' that was the assault upon Daehyun and the shelving of Father Crime turned into speculative entertainment soon enough. Indeed, as she slept, Miyane became the hottest topic once more, the x-factor in the incident that everyone could latch onto.

Thankfully, at least, the walls of Tamagakahara were inviolable, Taira Asahi and his men stalwart in the face of nosy reporters demanding access. It wasn't the first time that a scandal involving a resident of the holy grounds had incited the hordes to lay seige upon the closed off community, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. With disarming smiles and an unyielding gate, the guards were permanently apologizing and refusing.

Despite the chaos in the Central District, however, the rest of Tenoroshi was subdued, quieter than normal. Loud mufflers no longer terrorized residential roads, and at this time of day, anyone in school or at work would...well, be there. It was quiet and peaceful now, delinquents loitering in quiet, no one wanting to cause any real trouble when the general public demanded that the police work hard to catch the terrible perpetrator behind this. Policemen biked through streets, nodding at pedestrians while their batons slapped against their thighs, while unmarked cars drove slowly through the Southern District, men's eyes peeled for suspicious activity, ready to break up any incident that popped up, and perhaps a few heads as well.

For now, at least Tenoroshi was placed under the illusion of security.

An illusion maintained only because no one dug too deep.
I thought we were in Anime Fantasy Land myself, but oh well.
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