This took a bit longer to finish up. More than expected. I am happy with the results though. So read and I hope you enjoy!
AGITATION CONFLICTION PT 2
It was night when I came too. The feeling of grogginess weighed down heavily on my consciousness, forcing me to rely on my other senses rather than my sight. My arms struggled to pull my body off the ground, pain erupting in my head and abdomen.
'What the?" My senses couldn't tell me where I was. My hands had gone numb for some reason and my vision had yet to focus, with only obscure blurs of grey and red colors. Why is it so cold?
That's right… It's November. Coherent thoughts began to circulate through my mind, blurs focused into objects. I was outside. On the ground. But why? No answer came to mind but the events leading up to my unexpected nap.
The Dianoid. The picture. The phone.
My phone! I forced myself to sit upright, ignoring the aching pain resonating in my stomach. I could barely managed to pull out my phone as my hands were unbelievably numb. After a few seconds of fumbling, my hands finally grasped it.
7pm read on the touch screen.
I had been out for so long. That...kid!
The memories began to formulate. That's right! After the Dianoid, I ran into some fighting espers, those so called 'heroes' fighting to save Fremea. Then I got sucker punched by one of them? No. The kid was different. Not violent like the others… I couldn't recall much after that. The details slipped my mind.
"Whats crazier is…" I glanced off into the distance, in the direction of District 13. "How is this fighting still going on?" Even though the sun had set, the sky was still illuminated with a blazing orange off in the distance and explosions echoed throughout. The riots hadn't stopped in my absence, in fact it seemed more people had entered the fray and were now all congregating in one area.
It shouldn't have lasted this long. With all the espers in Academy City, Anti-Skill and Judgement should have already settled this. There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and it wasn't due to the punch earlier. Forcing myself to my feet with questions that had no answers, there was only one that needed an answer right then and there.
What should I do?
Rationally, what could I do? In that sea of violence there were probably hundreds of espers out there fighting. What power did I have over them to boldly say I could save Fremea? Perhaps use Error In to direct their attention to me? What then?
"Dammit! I can't face all of them directly!"
Is there even a need to? I questioned. From what I've seen and heard, they're all fighting for the same reason; Fremea. For all in tense and purposes, If I somehow find her and ensure her safety, that should be enough to diffuse this whole riot.
If I could do that…
I curled my frozen fingers into a fist, an unconscious act to strengthen my resolve.
Now a new problem arose with that. "Sure Kouta. So easy. Find the person literally everyone is looking for. Easy as pie. All you gotta do is run in there, Yell 'Fremea! Where are you?' And she'll respond 'Here I am!' The end! And we all live happily ever after! Right? Right."
I rose to my feet and released a heavy sigh… "What am I doing?" Before I could charge off on my solo suicide mission, I noticed something shiny by my feet. It wasn't anything special, the rectangular paper had 3 strangely dressed idiots smiling bravely at me. I picked up the picture and turned it over to read some words of encouragement.
"Be the best hero only Kazeyare Kouta can be."
The words weren't anything special but they rang true to me in every sense of the word. "I got it. I got it." With those words pulling me forward, I ran into the riot of heroes.
My plan was fairly simple; run in, use Error In as a sort of radar, and find Fremea in the chaos. But simple doesn't always correlate to easy. Far from it in this case. As Error In only had a max radiating range of an abysmal 45m, I had to do my searches by sectioning off where I searched. Not to mention I had to remain still to concentrate and distinguish each feedback message. Though the message of 'Are you Fremea' entered their head, depending on the person,they might respond differently. I had to find that unique response in the hundreds I received. There was also another problem. Espers. Particularly one with abilities similar to mine or any electromasters as Error In worked by manipulating bio-electricity. Those were the worst. Since my power doesn't have an effect on them I won't get a response, however, they will be alerted to my presence, making it harder to hide in one spot. Then there was the possibility of Fremea herself being one of these special case espers. In that case I truly had no hope in finding her. I threw that thought in the back of mind, hiding behind a collapsed statue caused by the ongoing chaos.
"No. No. No." I swiftly shuffled through the amount of responses I received. While I had a few unique responses, it wasn't enough to confirm Fremea's position. I had a general idea though. All of the fighting seemed to be converging to one place; The Learning Core. Even by narrowing down to that one place, the Learning Core was still huge. And that's where the bulk of the fighting was occurring. If I went there, I may not be able to avoid a fight. Still, I continued onward, thinking about the next step in my 'plan'.
Even If I get to the epicenter of the fighting, 45m isn't nearly enough to cover all that ground, not to mention I have to remain hidden… Maybe I should lower my search field to 25m? I wouldn't be straining my body as much and I could still move. I have much more area to cover but mobility is probably better in this case. With a little change-up in my strategy, I still had the same objective. Find Fremea. Dodging large debris kicked up by attacks, fireballs that engulfed some large trees and the even some controlled animals, this was nothing less of a riot. I had not sensed the unique response but I did receive a strange feedback. One that only occurred with a certain esper.
"Amazing Punch!" A powerful gust of wind kicked up and blew above me, carrying a girl who's dressing style brazenly showed a lot of skin and a teen who's head had been encased in fire.
"Gunha!" I pulled myself up from a pile of debris to get a better view.
Sure enough, Gunha had found a way into this mess. With his back to me, he looked upon the burning trees. "This is horrible. These guys showed how much guts they have by living this long. Some of them have lived longer than a human ever will. Now, it's true trees have to be cut down at times to help us humans out, but I can't stand it when you don't show the slightest respect for their guts." Is he completely oblivious as to why everyone is fighting? Before I could think of an answer, Gunha pulled back his hand and launched another powerful 'Amazing Punch' at the trees, extinguishing two fires with a single strike.
I didn't have time to gawk at the display of force, espers began to converge and circle around Gunha, preventing me from safely contacting him. Gunha continued marching to the remaining burning trees, unabated by the violent espers. "Let me give everyone a quick warning. If you want to flee, do so now. I won't be trying to hit any of you, but my method of saving lives is not something you can withstand without any guts."
Does that idiot know anything? He seemed completely oblivious to his surroundings. Part of me wanted to correct his ignorance but that would be a useless exercise. However…
Having Gunha as an ally here would be good if he didn't attract so much attention to himself. Even as a level 5 it would be a difficult task to protect me from waves of espers and safely search for Fremea. It was probably best to leave him as is and continue forward. There was another thing that struck me as strange.
I didn't see her with Gunha at all! You would think she would take this chance to gather that field data she was talking about yet she's nowhere to be seen. Did the two separate before getting here? I don't know. Too much time has passed so my grip of the situation isn't firm. But if she is somewhere in the Learning Core, where would she be if not next to Gunha?
"In a fight perhaps?" Did they get separated in this chaos? If she was here I doubt she's it's for Fremea. If anything, she fits the mold of villain for the sake of being a villain. Still, she would be more helpful and stealthy than the boisterous Gunha. It pained me to think that my level 5 friend would be more of a hindrance than the level 4 girl who thought nothing of it when hurting others.
Before I go though…
'Call Kouta or Ayumi and find them.' I emitted that file so he could contact us when possible. Hopefully he won't be dragging a bunch of espers with him should he decide to regroup. I lowered myself from the pile of debris and continued deeper in the Learning Core, following a serpentine path to cover as much ground as possible while moving forward, eventually finding my way to a pool area.
"What's going with everyone though?" I thought there would be some evidence of Fremea's whereabouts here as all the fighting seems to be converging here. But all I've seen is more 'heroes'. Why are they gathering here so confidently and aggressively? I turned a corner to find myself in front of another boy. "Ah, I'm sorr-!" Before I could finish my automatic apology, he swung a metal pipe toward my head at full force. I dropped my body to the ground and heard a loud clanging noise above my head as it collided with the wall. I threw myself toward him and he lost his grip on his weapon. Not wanting to drag the fight on, I lifted him from the ground and flung him into the pool. Though my body screamed to escape immediately, I waited to see the boy resurface and began to head for the side. Relieved my short-term adversary could swim I ran away to a fairly untouched building. Some of the windows were broken and had gashes of concrete removed from the walls but it was otherwise in good condition despite being in this chaos.
"Shit!" I cursed at myself. I had made such a simple and stupid mistake. I was too busy thinking about the situation I forgot to monitor my ability. If I had done that, I would have been aware of that guy's presence. "And sorry? That's the first thing you say to someone in a battle royale?"
My head felt like it was about to implode. I never used my power so much in such a short amount of time. My legs were still shaking from that last encounter. "That guy… He was seriously trying to take me out!" I leaned on the walls and slid to the floor. I needed a break. My body was fine however the built-up stress from the riots and fighting, along with the overuse of my ability got to me. I rested for a few seconds, waiting for my head to cool down.
"Alright. Time for round two." I'll start off with a 45m radi and move forward with 25m.
Immediately I picked up a very different response from the others. There was a strong reaction to it. However with just that I couldn't determine location or even direction. All I determined was the special signal was somewhere within my 45m radius. I reduced it to 25m to see if it was closer.
So the originator is somewhere between 25 and 45m of my current location. This was a problem. For one, I never used my ability like this so that signal could very well not be Fremea. And secondly I had no way of directing my ability in one direction to find a proper location. She could be moving as well so I can't just randomly select an area to probe. I scratched my head furiously at the situation. I finally get a lead and I can't even pursue it!
"Instead of a circle, I need to reduce it to a cone…"
Could I do that? Telepaths usually memorize patterns and use those to communicate with others from far away then establish a link. My ability is mostly a transmitter so bypasses brain acceptance. There were abilities similar to mine(which I never bothered to study) but there was only one I could think of with the same capabilities or transplanting information like a file.
Mental Out. Due to the outrageous nature of it, Shokuhou resorts to using remotes depending on the order she wants to deliver. Maybe I could use that same thing…
Though I'd rather not carry a bag of useless remotes just to use a situational ability. I just need something to direct it. I casually made a finger gun with my right hand and pointed to the wall
Did I just have a stroke of genius? I couldn't help but stare at my hand in amazement. "This could actually work." I needed to test this out. Peering out the window I noticed a group of espers in the distance fighting. "That could work." Leaning out I pointed my finger at the boy with brown hair. I needed to use a file that I can see an immediate reaction to. With the calculations made and boy in sight, "Something's crawling on your back." The signal was sent so I patiently waited in the safe building for results.
Sure enough the brown haired boy began swiping at his back furiously.
What about the others?
No one else made any similar movements and the boy subjugated to my experiment was hit by a large sphere of debris in his panic.
"It… worked?" To be honest, I half expected it to fail miserably so to see it work with so little effort was something of a victory. It didn't last long.
"Wait a minute. Even though I was able to direct my ability… Isn't this a little to pinpoint." While was an effective tool for single person transference, there was no way I could run around here shooting each individual. If anything this was more of a downgrade from my previous search tool. The idea was still there though.
I could manipulate the way I emit my ability, which means I could find a medium between my default circular range and the precision finger gun. And if I can change it from circular to a cone, I could perhaps extend the range with a couple of tweaks to my calculations. I did another scan to ensure that special response was still within range. It took a while but I finally got the signal again.
Now… How to emit it to a specific direction? Dual finger guns? I couldn't help but feel ridiculous as I was pointing my fingers at the wall. Is this how Shokuhou feels when using those remotes? That didn't work. My calculations broke it down to two separate signals, though I couldn't send two different signals at the same time. I clasped my hands together and formed a single finger gun. A two handed gun? No. I can send it farther but it's still a precision shot. I cursed myself for not expanding on my ability earlier but I had to wait on that reflection. I made occasional glances outside the broken window to ensure of no incoming visitors. There were a few groups fighting within close proximity to me but paid no attention to the building. I had to figure out a way quickly before the signal decided to move out of range or I got discovered. I looked at my hands again hoping for another epiphany.
"Not a gun…"
"Perhaps a window?" I formed a window using both hands and looked through it. Sure enough, as I did that the calculations became clear and I made a sweep of the surrounding area.
There were a few errors as it overlapped the imaginary window I created but it was definitely the directional change I needed for an accurate chase.
I was astonished though by how easily I was able to make changes to my calculations and how malleable my ability was. Or perhaps I always had the capability to do that since I upped to level 2?
Regardless with this new tool I could accurately hunt down the signal and find Fremea.
This signal… Is coming from behind me?
Strange? You would think Fremea would near the center of the gathering. It could not be Fremea for all I know. There's no way to tell without visually verifying. Though if she was there in the middle of all the chaos, Isn't it strange how no one's found her yet? I had yet to reach the epicenter so I could not scan it to verify but I didn't want to leave without at least investigating the strange response. It could very well be Fremea, or someone who's not like the others here…
The boy who knocked me out passed through my mind. No. It's best not to think about that.
For now, I'll chase the signal. If it's not Fremea I can always double back. The back entrance to the building was locked so I had to sneak out the front to continue my chase. Without knowing how far I was from my target, I had to occasionally stop to do a sweep. While I could move and scan at the same time, with my narrowed vision I thought it unwise to do so.
Echoes of distant fighting were less prevalent as I move further out of the Learning Core but I still managed to find stragglers, mostly defeated espers in the early stages. They didn't seem much of a threat though I maintained a safe distance as a precaution. With another scan I had a relative estimate of its max range.
Based on my sweeps and the distance I've covered, the signal's moving, slowly, but surely moving nonetheless.
It's probably close.
I began to hug and check my corners, hoping my chase didn't lead me down the Bad End route. It honestly felt like going back to my Skill-Out days, constantly scouting out routes to avoid ambushes. I'm sorry Mom! Your hero admiring son is using his gang skills to try to do some good!
After asking my mother(who is still alive and healthy) for forgiveness, I peered into the next corner and saw a figure leaning on the wall. I couldn't see any distinct traits but they seemed tired, their breathing was erratic and they walked while still leaning against the wall.
Unless Fremea had a ridiculous growth spurt in the past year, I don't think that's her. Still…
I pointed my finger at the silhouette to aim Error In and fired my signal. My assumption was correct, this person was the source of the strange response, however it was not Fremea.
"Tch!" immediately, the figure broke the unnerving silence. "That idiot is still blasting that signal? How am I still in his range?" That voice was familiar.
No. I knew exactly who it was. "Ayumi?" I pulled myself from the corner and under the light of a dim lamp post. Her figure remained in shadows but it became clearer as I approached.
In my absence she had gotten into fights, that much was certain. Her clothes had burn marks at the extremities, most likely done by use of her power. Dirt and small splashes of blood littered her hoodie and there were many slashes and cuts on some of her bare skin though they seemed shallow enough for her to continue moving.
Ayumi didn't turn to face me. "What are you doing here, Kazeyare Kouta?" Her words struck me as cold, even in this November night.
"What am I doing? I was trying to find you and Gunha after getting my phone but I got caught up in this esper city brawl and got knocked out by some kid! I ran into Gunha but he seems to be doing fine. You don't look so well yourself. C'mon let's get you back home."
I began to approach her but suddenly the temperature around her began to rise, forcing me to back away.
"First Gunha actually calls me now this?" She muttered something while tightly gripping at her wounded shoulder. "Shouldn't you be more concerned about that Fremea or whatever?" Hostility filled her words as she spoke. "You kept blasting 'Are you Fremea' around with that silly ability of yours, you sounded like those silly 'heroes' that tried to stop me."
She thinks I'm like them? While that is a logical conclusion to come to, there was a tugging gut feeling that wasn't the source of her hostility. "While I can't prove I'm not affected by whatever is happening to those fanatical espers, my goal was to just find Fremea but… I had some suspicions that Fremea may not be in danger."
"What?" For the first time she turned to face me, holding a shocked expression on her face.
"Rather than a logic or solid answer, my gut is telling me that Fremea isn't in danger. Hell she may not even be involved in all this. It's as if someone was using that name and the threat to harm her to turn this whole district to chaos." I had no proof for such an absurd accusation. But with students from Tokiwadai and Nagatenjouki within that storm, I couldn't think they were within their right minds. Violent and set on saving Fremea. There was no proof that Fremea was in danger, so why would some of them move so desperately without that proof? My mind move to the thought of some outside force manipulating them somehow that I didn't quite understand.
"Heh." A low laugh escaped from Ayumi's lips. "Hahahahahahaha!" she erupted into a fit for no sudden reason, though the air around her was still shimmering in unbearable heat. "Sogiita Gunha I understand! I had to purposefully lead him to that frenzy. I thought for sure you would be affected so I made some preparations to account for that! I'll have to get him for such a half-assed job! But this! This! It's burning my curiosity how you aren't affected! Right when I decide to burn everything, something interesting shows up! Is this what you wanted from me? You damn Kihara!"
I was genuinely worried for Ayumi's sanity, more so than usual. Her words came off as rambling and nonsensical to me. "Oi, Ayumi. We should head to the hospital. I think you may have a concussion."
I slowly approached her, walking through that searing hot air. Her laughter slowed to a halt and what replaced it was a cold glare that held a hint of sadness. "What's with those eyes of yours, Kazeyare Kouta? Are you worried about Kihara Ayumi?"
"Yes. I'm worried about you."
I expected that response to calm her but she reacted violently. "'You'? Just tell me who's this 'you' you're so worried about!" She ignited the air in her left hand and forcefully flung it in my direction. I had to dodge back out her heat range to collect myself. "Those words, those useless emotions, they're not directed at me! There isn't even a 'me' to direct those feelings to." Ayumi crossed her arms as if attempting to hold herself together. "I don't have anything that's mine. Not this body, this power, these memories, these fears, these scars. This current emotion is nothing but Kihara Ayumi. These thoughts belong to her. I don't have a single thing that belongs to 'me'. There is nothing I have to define my individuality. So I can be nothing but Kihara Ayumi. Yet for certain I am not Kihara Ayumi."
"What are you talking about, Ayumi?" A crisis emerged out of that girl, one I had no idea how to confront.
"...Of course you don't know. The world doesn't know. As far as Academy City knows, Kihara Ayumi is alive and well. There was only one discrepancy to that rule. October 31st." A fire appeared in her left hand once again but I noticed a mark appear in the center of her palm. "But she erased everything! All of it! I was trying to bide my time until December to destroy it all but… I'll be content if I can just destroy her!"
I tried to listen to her words but that expanding mark elicited dreaded feelings from the pit of my gut.
Is that… a burn mark?
I recalled some words she said about her power.
When I use my powers, there's an extremely thin layer of cold air that counteracts the heat. I can still burn myself and I actually have as well as given myself a small case of frostbite due to a miscalculation.
"Ayumi! Stop it! You're burning yourself!" the sleeves of her hoodie had already disappeared and her pants slowly burned down to some shorts.
"...Am I still obligated to respond to that name?" the fire died down and the heat dissipated from the air. "I almost lost this body in a fit anger. You're right, I should save it for when I face her directly."
"Goodbye, Kazeyare Kouta."
She turned and slowly walked away into darkness.
I recalled sitting on a park bench, on a cold night similar to this.
What the hell am I doing?
I remembered how utterly defeated I felt.
What can I possibly do right now?
I remembered those useless thoughts of needing power to do the things I wanted to do.
Of course you need power!
Wrong! There was a fundamental element from the start that made me weak!
I took a long breath of the cold air,
"KIIIIIIHARRRRRAAAAAA!" I shouted with all my might as if to silence that stupid voice of self-doubt. I had no time to listen to that coward. Her footsteps stopped in the night. I gasped for another breath.
I refused to be that guy anymore. "Kihara Ayumi! Or Ayumi! Or if you throw those names out how about crazy flame girl! Or bespectacled beauty! Or Sadistic genius!" I was truly upset. Maybe at Ayumi's internal struggle which she refused to share with me, or perhaps the mental weakness of my previous self who still existed within me. Maybe it's my own ignorance of something dark and malicious hidden within my home I call Academy City. Maybe the thought of losing Ayumi upset me.
That last one definitely infuriated me.
I didn't understand why but when she said Goodbye, a furious rage spurred up from within. One I had no intention of containing.
"You don't like to repeat yourself so I'll spare you from saying that word to me ever again. I'm not smart enough to understand everything you just said but I'm certain you're heading somewhere where we'll never see you, correct?"
She remained silent but the answer was clear to me. "In that case let's skip the part where you try to dissuade me from stopping you and straight to the part where I'm dragging you to the hospital, conscious or not."
From the distance, I couldn't tell what kind of face she had but I noticed it changed multiple times before settling on something between irritated and scared. "Why?"
Me being upset and not thinking before acting said some stupid words, "It's natural."
"Of course it's natural to get angry for the sake of someone you care about." I didn't think about those words. Perhaps It would've been better if I never said that. But I couldn't take it back. All I could do was hope they reached her, however far she was.
"...Fine." she spoke quietly as her face return to a stoic expression. "One minute. If you can stay on your feet for one minute. I'll go back with you. I won't even use my ability."
I readied myself for a fight. Words were not needed here. Both of us came to the conclusion that force would be used.
One minute. That's all I had.
And she wasted no time to squash that opportunity.
She quickly closed the distance and went straight for a throw.
I countered with a sloppy chop before she could grab my clothes.
Throws, grabs, joint locks. I was fairly familiar with that kind of fighting style. Judgment and Anti-Skill were quite fond of such disabling moves so Hattori trained us in basic counters. The first rule of this was to avoid a direct confrontation.
That one was out the window. The second rule I followed closely. Keep your limbs close and your eyes on theirs. It was the only thing preventing me from an instant K.O.
Ayumi's attacks were relentless. As soon as I blocked or parried one, she smoothly went for another grab. Her hand reached for my shoulder for another throw.
"Wha!" A dull sound rang out as her palm struck me square in my right cheek. Without giving me time to recover she followed up with a kick to my sternum. I took that last attack to my advantage to distance myself from her, however short it may be.
This is bad! I can't keep up with the speed of her attacks. I don't even want to attack for fear of being thrown! However, I had to change something! If I keep blocking like this she'll throw me eventually!
Eventually? A dangerous plan crept into my mind.
Ayumi charged in with the full intent to knock me off my feet.
With my full weight committed, I threw a strong right fist.
In an instant, she grabbed my extended arm and prepared to throw me like I expected.
Too late Ayumi!
I had another fist in waiting. It was much weaker than my right but I managed to land a clean hit right under Ayumi's chin, knocking her back a bit.
While the feeling of hitting a girl remained unpleasant to me, I didn't have the luxury to be playing the gentleman role. Kihara Ayumi wouldn't allow such weakness in this fight.
I stepped back to regain my footing. It was a mistake.
I thought that punch had enough impact.
No. She accepted the fact that she was going to be hit. And immediately prepared for a counterattack. Instead of reeling back from the hit she closed that distance with a single step and crashed into me with her full weight.
In my instance of relief, I had lost. Facing up at the black sky, I once again cursed my weakness and inability to do anything.
"Is this enough for you?" she spoke those cold words while laying on top of me. "You did well, much better than I expected. 45 seconds."
I lost by 15 seconds.
No. Ayumi had no intention of losing in the first place.
"You mind answering a question from this loser?"
She blankly stared at me while still sitting on my stomach. "Sure."
"Knowing that it would end down the path to violence and setting up the parameters for the fight, did you actually believe I had a chance of winning?" It was a pointless question but I asked nonetheless.
"... It wasn't zero if that's what your asking." she lifted herself off my body. "I had already taken account for your mannerisms and habits during fights. Even though you have a tough body, your swings are slow and you prefer to use your right. Still…" she wiped the blood from her lower lip. "I didn't expect you to land a hit."
"So that's how it is." I couldn't find the will in me to make a joke about the shitty situation. Not zero. Which meant this fight was nothing but an exercise of force. "You planned it all out the moment I decided to fight? Then you know what's about to happen next."
"Don't." she sternly voiced her opinion on my actions. "You lost your last chance."
Probably. Without that power restriction on herself, I doubt I could even get close. I removed my hoodie and wrapped it around my right fist.
"Last chance? But I still see Kihara Ayumi right in front of me. As long as that's there, my probability of victory isn't zero."
Not zero. As long as Kihara Ayumi stood in front of me, I could still avoid that ending she was heading to.
I had to think that way. I couldn't allow compromise.
Her amber eyes remained fixed on my pathetic figure. "Don't give me that look Ayumi. We're far beyond words."
Heat began to emanate from Ayumi's skin. She was no longer holding back.
I didn't waste time. I rushed forward with full intent to knock her out. She had no problems dodging my attacks and threw in her own light jabs that burned my skin.
Ignoring the pain and rising heat surrounding us, I planted my left foot on hers to restrict her movements. With no regard to my unguarded left hand I threw a fist right to her face which she managed to block.
Tch! It was too weak. For some reason, I had a hard time gathering my strength and was breathing abnormally.
She slipped out of my range and went into a defensive posture.
Her actions were surprisingly passive compared to what she did prior. Does she have another plan?
"Do you know, Kazeyare, how the basics of pyrokinesis works?"
"It's simple really. First we need a source to ignite." Without warning, my hoodie caught on fire. I hastily threw it off my arm and onto the ground. "From there we have two options. Feed it or kill it." the fire died as quickly as it appeared.
"Do you know, Kazeyare, what I've been using as my source?"
"Shit!" by the time I realized it was too late. My movements were sluggish and it hurt to breathe. With a weak run, I crashed into the ground before Ayumi.
"The...air…" I managed to squeeze out. She was burning the air the whole time, constantly igniting and snuffing out the fire during our entire fight!
My arms didn't have the strength to lift me off the ground. I was barely conscious. Yet I didn't give up.
"...Let go." I had reached her. Firmly within my grasp was Kihara Ayumi.
A scorching pain erupted within my right hand.
I wanted to scream out in pain. The heat began to burn and discolor my skin. I didn't have the breathe left for a scream. I couldn't waste it.
"Khh!" I probably looked absolutely pitiful on the ground that evening. One hand was burning, the other being bitten down on. But I didn't care.
None of that really mattered. Even as my consciousness faded in and out, I could see her stoic expression breaking.
"There's no point for you to fight so hard. I don't want to be saved. There's no one to save."
There's a person right here who needs saving!
And it's not just me who cares about you!
What was that?
A familiar muffled sound reverberated in my ear.
"Tch! Gunha again…"
I let out a deafening roar to summon my remaining energy to to pounce up.
"You!" With my last ounce of strength, I snatched the phone from her grasp and crashed back down to the earth.
"I'm not the only one who would fight for you." I clicked on the phone and set it to speaker.
I'm counting on you idiot, to save another one of your stupid friends.
"So say try saying that word to him. I'm sure he would do the same."
Ah… that's it. I'm tapped out.
Though I slowly faded out, I heard the two voices talk near me.
Finish what I started…
"Ayumi, ...it's simple …. I'll abolish… to continue."
Consciousness greeted me again like an old friend. Where did I awake this time? A bed preferably. Maybe some cute nurses at my bedside. That would be nice.
The reality was much better and far more confusing.
"Ayumi?" looking directly above with only a few centimeters between our faces was a beautiful girl with tears swelling in her amber eyes. "You're here… Which means…"
It's over? Anticlimactic as it was, I felt absolute relief to see Ayumi with me.
"Why?" she spoke quietly. It seemed whatever Gunha said shattered her resolve.
"Heh." In my beaten stupor, I responded with a heartfelt chuckle. "Now that's unusual."
"What is?" a cute pouty face? I'm seeing all sides of Ayumi today, though I'll keep that comment to myself.
"Kihara Ayumi repeating herself. Not something you see everyday." She didn't take kindly to my humor and began kneading my cheeks.
"Ow. Ow! I'm sorry for making a joke in such a serious moment! I'll answer! I'll answer!" She released my face from her pincer attack but still held her hands on my face.
"My answer hasn't changed. Gunha probably said something similar. Whether you feel the same doesn't really concern me. I wanted to save that girl who desired destruction, so I acted on that selfish desire. That girl was about to disappear from my life after so boldly crashing into it and destroying my semblance of peace. That girl who firmly believes that common sense is merely a tool that can be tossed aside should it affect her enjoyment of life. That girl who's at war with Kihara to protect Gunha for her own selfish goals."
"But if you claim you're not her…" I reached out and touched her burned hand with my own.
"How about the girl crying her eyes out on a cold November evening? Does that answer satisfy you?"
"No." slowly she began to regain her composure. "But I have no choice but to accept that mediocre response. The both of you can say some really idiotic things."
"I haven't given up." She stated, "I've merely returned to my senses and placed my plan back on it's original timetable. I'm not going to tell you my intentions nor will I ever reveal my motives."
It would have great if it all ended here, with only a few fist and some words. This wasn't the case sadly. Much more was coming eventually. I had to prepare to face whatever Ayumi was harboring.
"Yo." from the corner of my eye, Gunha approached us with a wry smile. "Heard you had a gutsy fight with Ayumi?"
"Did you actually tell him everything?" his optimistic smile made me believe she omitted some details.
"She told me everything. Well everything you know. But I have a clear idea of the situation." He said so casually as if it wasn't a problem.
"You know that mean-"
"We'll stop her when that comes." He stated. "There's no point talking to Ayumi about it. She's tight lipped about her reasons. She also gave up her intention to kill that person, for now at least. I can't say I'm content with tonight's events. But I'm prepared to stop Ayumi as many times as it takes. That's it."
He simplified the situation. I did agree to an extent but I knew there was an issue we had to solve before that day.
Kihara Ayumi's motives. That was the root of it. If we could find a lead to that darkness, hunt it down and destroy it. That probably meant abandoning all semblance of a normal life. That idea didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.
"Ya hear that Ayumi? I hope you're prepared for our counterattack."
"Oh? A delinquent and an idiot as my opponents? I feel like I'm being severely underestimated here."
Though we smiled and laughed. We bickered and taunted each other as if it was a normal night out. 3 teens heading home after a night of partying and fun.
But it was a complete defeat for all of us. Nothing but a bitter taste in the back of my mouth.
Kihara Ayumi had lost something precious to her, and in her fit of rage dipped me and Gunha deeper into the world she tried to protect us from.
Sogiita Gunha felt an impassable crevice form between him and Ayumi, facing the truth that she held a dark secret.
And me who saw that vague silhouette of that hero I desired to be slip through my hands.
How can I get there?
How can I be that hero that only Kazeyare Kouta can be?
I had no clear answer for that.
For now I could only laugh, cry, and enjoy this sense of normalcy before I'm plunged into a unfathomable darkness. This was our last respite. Our last breathe.
Before facing unnatural creatures.
Before facing scientific monstrosities.
Before facing a world beyond Academy City.
Okay. STOP. Before you go any further, below is just ramblings of Sargent Crash and has no material inside whatsoever to increase your enjoyment of this fic or Gemstone. It is simply my afterthoughts on this story, my characters, writing, and then goes of into random tangent territory. If this does not appeal to you, you are free to click back and resume on with your life. If you wish to continue I must inform you that I was advised against posting this as it does not add to the story in any way. I only posted this because I wrote it and if something is written then it must be read!(Only after extensive re-reads and grueling editing) This thing below, has not been edited, proofread, or examined in any way. Just my raw thoughts and opinions. Okay? Okay.
Hello everyone. Sargent Crash here! This is more of an extended author's note rather than an official afterward. I mostly want to reflect on what this story means as a separate medium and what it means for our protagonist trio. Firstly let's start off with the main protag, Kazeyare Kouta. I know, despite this story being centrally focused on Gunha, it's not really his story. Kouta I created in part due to the difficulty of writing Gunha (which I'll get into later) Kouta is rather a normal person with very apparent flaws. He doesn't have a tragic past, is ignorant of Academy City's underworld and most of his internal and external conflicts are brought up upon himself. In short, an average teen. Out of the three he's the easiest to write due his simple issues and therefore, simple resolutions. He's quick to angry outburst, is keen on picking up details yet has a hard time reading people. He never really assumes what people are thinking or what their motives are so he can be quite reactive in conversations. Early on in the story he closed his issue with Sogiita Gunha and more importantly, himself. Accepting that no one can truly do it all and to accept his own shortcomings and focus on building on the strengths that he has. Then he struggles with finding a new goal along with helping Gunha with his own shortcomings and weaknesses.
Kihara Ayumi. This was a pleasent surprise. I'm not sure if I should say this but initially when I began this story way before I posted the first chapter of Gemstone, all Kihara Ayumi use to be was a love interest. That's it. And Thank God that changed. Comparing my character template from now to what I had when I started, is a surprisingly stark contrast. Of course this is all due to me actually writing and if i never started my skills wouldn't have developed and neither would Ayumi. Now she's this multi layered anti-hero or sorts with complex motives and character traits who happens to be one of my more well received Original Characters. And to be honest, due to how I write and structure my stories, I don't know where she's going to be at by the end of this. It was a great surprise to see others attach to her. Especially whenever I'm using a darker tones or emotions I'm experimenting with her as those things I'm not exactly confident on portraying. Which leads us to our final character.
Sogiita Gunha. Oh boy. Where do I even begin with you? As the only canonical character in this trifecta of heroes, you are by far the hardest character to write. I'm not sure how people do it. Writers like Mr. ? and ADdude constantly writing and evolving a canon main character without them feeling to out of character. Sure we don't know much so all that I write is purely my own interpretation of the inner workings of Sogiita Gunha but I would at least like to keep it within the realm of believable canon. I'm no Kamachi that's for sure but he's always been great with developing characters. To this day I still think Fiamma Of The Right is one of the best villains in To Aru. That's MY opinion though. Regardless, the point I'm trying to make is, Kamachi's characters are people with their own stories, and I want to at least try to emulate that part of his writing in Sogiita Gunha.
'What if you the world's equivalent of Superman? Then thrown into Xavier school sized city? How would that affect you? Your thinking?' Those are the kinds of questions I ask when I write Gunha. I'm kinda getting into so Gemstone territory so I'll stop here.
Which leads me to my ultimate reflection on The Rising Sun as a whole. I'll admit, this is not Sogiita Gunha's story. At All. Which makes sense. While expressive and emotional as he is his evolution here is quite static and almost non-existent. Which I think is O.K. Not all characters need a character arc. Even when they do they don't necessarily have to change completely. While Kazeyare is the only one of the trio to have some form of conclusion, there's still much room for him to grow. Same could be said for the other two. There's an inherent darkness within 'Kihara Ayumi' yet she has this connection with Sogiita Gunha that makes her 'human', more human than she herself would like to believe. Her existential crisis which is the driving force for most of her actions. A subtle weakness that Sogiita Gunha patches up with 'guts' and ignorance. I can't say there's one overarching theme across the Rising Sun, but if I had to pick one, I'd say growth. How long can someone lie to themselves and claim happiness? How far can the same resolution take you before the problem becomes beyond your handling. What defines a person? An individual? Is it the name? Their actions? Memories or scars, emotions or connections?
My thoughts on The Rising Sun? All over the place really. There are things that I liked, things that I tried to improve upon and things that to this day still bother me about this story. I see my blatant flaws in writing and discrepancies in structure yet correcting them is another issue. I experimented with some concepts and ideas. Dropped planned arcs altogether, added some arcs on the fly, and nearly wrote myself into a corner multiple times and just now realized how dumb a candy cane costume is. I've developed some writing habits, both good and bad. Discovered the difference between burnout and writers block, spent an entire weekend on a writing frenzy, and deleted it all the Monday afternoon. It's been an adventure... And I'm glad I was able to share it with everyone here. From Heaven's Flower support to that random guest who points out all my missed mistakes(Thanks by the way. You're like the unofficial beta-reader!) to D3vilNeverCry(By the way, If you haven't read his story, The Fake Hero you should definitely give it a look! It's wayyyyyy better than anything I've written!) I could go on about the great community of writers I've met but I'll spare you from that tangent.
While The Rising Sun is far from a masterpiece, I feel damn proud completing my first fanfic. Sure it took me awhile(3 years) and yes I still have much, much more to write, I hope you can read this and enjoy what words I placed on this paper and see what I see.
Sogiita Gunha! Kazeyare Kouta! Kihara Ayumi!
What adventures await you on the next page? The next chapter? That is something I truly can't wait to find out.
This is Sargent Crash