No Game For Old Men

Book 1.3 – Ch 3 The Truth Comes Out

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Thursday, December 19th, 2019

One week to go until the winter school break began; Gregory O'Donnell was looking forward to the time off. Gregory loved his work at Tokyo Metro High, teaching Senior English as well as one honors Junior English course. He found the last week of each term to be the best part of the school experience. Finals exams pressures at the level he taught were immense for his students; parents, other family, peers, even the self-applied pressure of ambition, all conspired to put the Senior English students, and his one Junior Honors class, under a degree of stress that they had likely never encountered in their lives.

Gregory glanced at the five-part photo frame which he placed on the teacher's desk in each room he taught when he arrived at that classroom each day, each frame containing a photo he had taken which meant something to him in regards to his profession. This time of year the photo his eye drifted to was the student on the train at final's time. The young man in the photo was aboard a crowded train, sitting on his heels in the aisle since there was no room on the seats for him. He had his forehead resting on the handle of his umbrella and one hand holding onto the chrome bar mounted to the floor and ceiling of the train for passengers to steady themselves with. The student had his eyes closed, his uniform was neat and pressed, his satchel bulging with schoolwork waiting to be done. And hanging off the front of the satchel was a small plushy teddy bear, seemingly out of place with the rest of the image.

To Gregory, the photo exemplified the great anxiety his students experienced, especially at semester finals. The adult expectations that pressed down upon people who were often still children with teddy bears, inside.

The strain his students were under often revealed previously hidden elements of their character. Who among them would dig deep and find reserves that they were previously unaware of, allowing them to study that extra hour, remember just that much more vocabulary, comprehend that one additional obscure grammatical rule?

Who would dig deep and find… nothing? No hidden reserves, no extra insight, no heretofore unknown gift for languages. No one spoke of this sort of student. It was assumed by everyone that all students would prosper in a high pressure, high stakes, testing environment if they were convinced of the utter seriousness of the exams, if they believed in their hearts that their entire future depended on them doing well on their tests.

However, it just wasn't true. Not all students had hidden reserves or unknown talents that were just waiting the right time to be revealed. In fact quite a few were already operating at 100% of their capability, just to keep the grades they were already making. Especially in a difficult class such as Gregory O'Donnell's English Language course. Would this student crack under the pressure? Would they fall to the temptation of cheating? Would they learn that it's not possible to exceed your potential?

That was a lesson that many students learned too late or never. It was nevertheless a truth Gregory tried to help his students realize: A person cannot exceed their potential. If it seems they exceeded their potential, the only thing that meant was that an inaccurate assessment of the person's potential had originally been made.

Sometimes a person was a B student in English because that was all they could manage. Gregory explained to his students that he himself was a B student in both High School and College level Calculus. No matter how much effort he invested, he never achieved a better grade in Calculus. Gregory had been fortunate to have a High School teacher who explained to him that he had likely found the limits of his potential in Calculus. This understanding, this acknowledgment of his own limitations, allowed Gregory to spend his time more wisely in efforts to excel in subjects he could still improve in.

A willingness to accept a B in Calculus allowed him the freed up resources to achieve Honors in Languages. And that had mattered far more than if he had managed to increase his Calculus grade by a percentage or two.

Gregory kept his eye out for the handful of such students in each of his classes for whom the limits of their own potential was what kept them from higher grades and better test results. Those students were the ones he made a point to council before each semester's final exams, making sure they understood that beating ones head against a wall was not actually good academics. No matter how many speeches about 'giving 110%' they were subjected to by other teachers or their parents or their peers, at least one authority figure was going to speak the truth to them. At least one teacher would explain to them that having a realistic understanding of who they were and what their abilities truly were would make them far better academics than pissing into the wind would.

At which point the student would usually gape at their straight-laced English Language teacher for using such a colorful idiom. But it got the point across.

All of the students at Tokyo Metro High were used to the pressure of high stakes testing: just getting into the school required them each to pass the High School Entrance Exams with very high marks. Tokyo Metro wasn't the most prestigious High School in Japan, or even in Shin Tokyo itself, but it was certainly in the top 5% nationwide, with only three other High Schools in Shin Tokyo rating higher. But as there were 45 High Schools in Shin Tokyo Gregory felt very fortunate to have landed his position at Tokyo Metro.

Gregory wasn't in charge of the English Department but there was only one person above him in the organizational chart for the Department, a young and progressive teacher who valued Gregory greatly and did not hesitate to use Gregory as the (green-eyed, blond-haired) face of the school's English Department.

Gregory understood and did not take offense. If it helped the English Department, it helped the school. And if it helped the school then it helped Gregory O'Donnell.

The previous teacher who had held the position that Gregory now enjoyed had arranged for herself the luxury of her own classroom. Gregory knew that such a perk was greatly desired by the teachers in every High School in Japan, so when he first arrived he shocked his peers by requesting the private classroom for Senior English be used for other purposes as best determined by the English Department Head. He would be honored to teach his students in their Homerooms.

While his peers thought he was crazy for giving up a permanent classroom his immediate superior viewed this as not only humble and gracious on the part of his new American teacher but also realized Gregory O'Donnell was making an effort to prove his priorities were to the school and not only to his own, personal, benefit. It was a move that was more Japanese than Japanese.

Ever since that day, Gregory was in his boss's good books.

Besides, teaching English did not require so much in the way of supplies and fixtures that its own room was needed, not with the sort of technology available in Japan in 2020 A.D.

Gregory sat at the Homeroom teacher's desk, watching as his last class of the day (the Junior Honors class) wrapped up their pre-exam practice tests. Gregory would spend most of tonight reviewing the practice tests so that he could give his students the results before the weekend. That way they would have the weekend to study for their term finals knowing what they needed to focus on.

It would make for a very long night tonight, but it was one of the things Gregory felt he owed his students. They were all working very hard; the least he could do was to make sure they were working on the right things.

Carefully checking the screen on his school-issued tablet to make sure all of the students practice tests were logged and locked down on the storage server, Gregory absently waved to the classroom President as she exited the Homeroom.

One convenient aspect of the Junior Honors English class was that there were no more classes after. The classroom student President did a very good job of making sure the room was clean and ready for the next day, so the Homeroom teacher had the habit of leaving the campus directly from the Teacher's Lounge, right as the last bell rang for the day. This allowed Gregory to wrap up his day in the peace and solitude of the second floor Junior Honors Homeroom. Far preferable to having to pack himself to the teacher's lounge to take care of last minute business at his little-used cubicle desk before going home.

Making sure the locked and logged practice tests were now all duplicated on his own tablet's internal memory as well as backed up to one of his own cloud storage accounts, Gregory then put the school tablet into his briefcase and locked the case up. Gregory then walked around the classroom to make sure the juniors had prepared everything for the next day's classes. As he finished his circuit of the room he was shocked to see Sanjunana Madoka standing at the door of his classroom.

"Madoka? What in the world are you doing here?" Gregory was shocked out of his manners. It was almost unheard of that someone not in school uniform be wandering around the school campus; either in school uniform or carrying a clearly displayed Staff ID. It was not impossible to sneak in but it certainly would require sneaking.

Gregory waved Madoka into the room, belatedly noticing the stress and worry in her expression and body language. Gregory could only shake his head as he noticed that even these negative emotions were displayed in the most appealing way possible on Madoka's face. He would bet that she was one of those rare females who could look beautiful even while weeping.

"I am very sorry to have intruded on your workplace, Gregory-san. But I was not far from here when I encountered someone who I had to get away from, someone I had to hide from, and I did not know anywhere else I could flee to where I might be safe." Madoka crossed the room while she spoke and Gregory allowed himself the guilty pleasure of watching her walk. The natural grace the young woman displayed in as simple a task as walking across a classroom was a joy to behold. The way she filled out a pair of tight blue jeans was an equal joy he had to admit.

Truly, a guilty pleasure.

She looked out the second floor windows that overlooked the main courtyard of the school and beyond that provided a nice view of Shibuya Ward in late afternoon sun, watching not only the sidewalks below but also the rooftops of the opposite wing of the school, across the courtyard.

Gregory closed the door to the classroom to insure no late passerby overheard whatever Madoka needed to tell him, then moved to lean against the front of the teacher's desk. His jacket was already on, his briefcase was packed; he only needed to grab the case to be ready to leave the school. He watched Madoka scan the rooftops of Tokyo Metro High and realized whatever secrets his somewhat mysterious houseguest had been keeping were possibly coming home to roost. He hoped those secrets did not cost him and his family more than they could afford.

"Mado-chan, how about you tell me what's going on? I know you've got bigger problems than just losing your wallet and having a friend who left you high and dry in Shin Tokyo. I haven't pressured you for your secrets because they are your secrets but…" Gregory fell silent, waiting to hear what the beautiful blonde at the classroom window would say.

Madoka remained silent for several minutes, obviously gathering her thoughts. She looked away from the window and met Gregory's eyes and it seemed as though she were trying, desperately, to make a terribly important decision. She looked away from Gregory and sighed resignedly, then walked over to stand next to the teacher's desk, where she began nervously adjusting the position of the various items on the desk.

She spoke, quietly, not looking up at Gregory. "If I tell you, you will very likely think me insane. Or a liar."

Madoka unzipped her pink, puffy, jacket, then pulled it off and draped it across the back of the teacher's chair. She then pulled the tight fitting long-sleeved t-shirt she was wearing down to straighten it, which had the coincidental effect of prominently showing off her amazingly firm, high, and large, breasts.

It seemed to Gregory, from careful observation over the past week, that a full fifty percent of all Madoka's movements and postures had the coincidental effect of prominently showing off her amazingly firm, high, and large, breasts.

However, on the one hand, he admitted he might be a biased observer of the phenomenon. On the other hand, he had caught his daughter eyeballing Madoka's accidental and coincidental mammary show just yesterday, so he gave himself the benefit of the doubt. It might not just be him.

And wasn't that an awkward meeting of the eyes, when Mishi looked over and caught him catching her ogling The Rack? Gregory, of course, reacted as only a father could in that situation: he grinned ear-to-ear at his teen daughter, who was, appropriately, mortified to within an inch of her life.

Gregory snapped his eyes upwards as Madoka began to turn to face him.

Gregory had become quite good at snapping his eyes upwards around Madoka. He hoped.

She turned to look at Gregory and met his green-eyed stare with her own sky-blue gaze. Sky-blue eyes which showed a level of fatigue and worry that Gregory had not seen from Madoka before. It looked like another person Gregory knew might be learning about limits and potential and how just working harder and wishing harder will not make the impossible happen.

"Or you might even believe me. That is probably the scariest possibility. You would have to be half-mad yourself to believe my story, Gregory-san. Unfortunately, I just cannot keep this a secret anymore and in all truth… what I have to say will likely be common knowledge the world over within a few months. There is really no way to keep the truth bottled up, not now, not with the Plan starting here in Shin Tokyo."

Gregory couldn't help but notice that Madoka still hadn't told him anything. Whatever her secrets they must be far bigger than the wilder scenarios he had imagined for worst-case: that she was involved in drug running, or was the escaped love-slave of a powerful Yakuza lord. Gregory propped one leg up on the desk and turned a bit to watch the young woman's face as she struggled with getting the words out. He waited patiently; one of the benefits of raising his own kids through teenager-hood was that he had learned patience when it came to getting a secret out of them. And watching Madoka's face was never difficult, so the wait was pleasant anyway.

"Since being released I have come to realize there really is no way our secrets are going to remain secret. Everyone in this city carries those phones that have really good cameras and video recorders built into them. And some, like you, carry even better cameras everywhere, just to take pictures of things you like. So there really is no way Shin Tokyo can be where the Plan takes place and the whole world not find the truth behind the secrets MBI has been keeping for twenty years." Madoka hugged herself, her body language telling Gregory that she was not only scared of whatever was pursuing her but scared of what she was saying.

He could only wonder how bad this was going to get.

Madoka met Gregory's eyes again and asked, "Will you promise not to tell anyone what I am going to say? It will not truly matter by this time next year but for now it could still be dangerous to me, and to you, if it becomes known that I told you this."

Gregory considered this for a moment. "I'll promise to not go yelling it from the rooftops. But, Mado-chan, it would be dishonest of me to make that promise and not tell you that if, in my best judgment, telling someone what you tell me will save lives or reduce the risk my own family might be under… I would likely tell. That might not be good enough, in which case I understand. But I can't make such an oath blind and you should understand that sharing something important with me means you're going to have to trust my judgment."

She considered what Gregory said then nodded, "That is good enough, Gregory-san. I trust you and you have impressed me as someone who has good judgment. You know more than anyone I've ever known, including the scientists at MBI. And, really, it might not matter. A year from now none of this will likely matter."

"Okay then," Gregory smiled crookedly at the diminutive blonde girl. Gregory reached over and put his hand on her shoulder, squeezing it lightly, reassuringly. He did so reluctantly, as it marked the first time he had ever deliberately touched the young woman, but she so obviously needed reassurance. "Hit me with it and let's see if we can find some solutions to whatever is deviling you, okay?"

Madoka nodded agreement then smiled up at Gregory, the first full smile he'd seen from her since she entered the classroom. Like always, her smile made his heart skip a beat, her beauty shining like a beacon, warming his heart. And, like always, it scared Gregory just a bit because he knew that Madoka wasn't for the likes of him, but he felt pulled towards her in spite of that certain knowledge.

Gregory removed his hand from her shoulder as if he had been touching a hot stove. Fortunately, Madoka did not notice or she pretended not to, as she looked away towards the windows again.

"First, I am being chased by someone, her name is Katsuragi. She works for a man named Higa. I do not know if that is his family name or his given name, but he is who she… works for. She saw me earlier this afternoon. I know of this man she works for, Higa, and I know he is a very bad person, Gregory-san. She saw me but I was lucky and jumped onto a city bus that was passing by at that moment, just getting into the doors before they closed. It was really nothing but sheer luck she did not see me, did not know where I disappeared to. She probably did not understand what a city bus was, either, so that no doubt helped."

Madoka paused and shivered, "It was near here and I did not dare try to walk back to the apartment. She would have caught me, I do not doubt it."

Gregory frowned at that. "Why is this Higa person having his people chase you? How do you know him? Have you had dealings with him?"

"No, and I have never spoken to him or any of his people before last week at all. He is not after me specifically. He is after anyone like me and the girl who I ran into this afternoon, Katsuragi, is someone like me who he caught and now she… works for him and is looking for more of us to bring to him."

Shaking his head and continuing to frown, Gregory replied, "But that doesn't explain why or what's special about you that he'd be chasing 'people like you', Mado. Come on, spit it out, let's get to the bottom of this then once that's out of the way we can get into the details, okay?"

Madoka nodded her head but didn't speak for a moment. She chewed her lower lip nervously, and then looked up at Gregory. "Well, then the real first thing you should know, Gregory-san, is that I am not exactly from around here."

Gregory nodded, "Okay, that's not hard to guess just from your appearance, in spite of your perfect Japanese."

Madoka looked away, a bit of pink coloring her cheeks. "No," she continued, "I mean I am really, really, not from around here. As in, not from this world. Earth. Not… not really."

Gregory stopped nodding.

"Say again?"

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The late afternoon winter sunlight filled the classroom with a warm glow. Madoka pulled on the hem of her long t-shirt nervously, looking down and not meeting Gregory's eyes. She knew she needed to tell Gregory everything but it was difficult. She had not realized how difficult it would be. There had been so much emphasis put on keeping the truth behind the Sekirei secret and keeping the Sekirei Plan secret that it was not easy to just go against that. They had even been told that human's would kill them if they knew the truth or they would lock them up and do experiments on them and never let them go.

Ironic, that last threat, all things considered.

But she also knew she was in over her head and she had only been out for a couple of weeks. She needed someone like Gregory to help her, someone who knew how the real world worked, someone who understood what an 'ATM' was and how you could get cash out of one.

Someone who knew what 'cash' was, for that matter.

She'd never appreciated before how ill prepared for the real world she and her fellow Sekirei were. She wondered how many would end up with horrible men like Higa or his slimy henchman Kakizaki simply because the Sekirei did not know any better, did not know how to navigate the day-to-day challenges of life in Shin Tokyo in 2020 A.D.

"Say again?"

She could hear the mix of confusion and irritation in Gregory's voice. She cringed at the irritation. She did not want to make Gregory mad at her; she liked Gregory, in spite of all the creepy old guy looks she noticed he gave her. He had taken her in and made sure she had food, clothes, and shelter and showed nothing but concern and care for her, for the whole last week. Moreover, he had kept his word to not take advantage. She did not really mind him looking; he'd not done more than look, for which she was very grateful.

If not for Gregory she'd have been in a great deal of trouble, possibly already captured by Higa or some other terrible person who could force her to accept them as her Ashikabi, then she would be doomed for the rest of her entire life. There was no way to break a Sekirei/Ashikabi bond; everyone knew that it was "forever and ever". Those were the words every Sekirei spoke after their bond with their Ashikabi was made and for good reason.

She owed Gregory everything at this point; he had almost literally saved her life! She did not want him angry or disappointed with her!

It wasn't supposed to be like this! Madoka thought she would have more time to look for her destined mate. But with the scare today, with Katsuragi spotting her, Madoka knew she had to find an Ashikabi and fast, even if it wasn't the perfect person or ideal partner she'd hoped to find. Once she was bound to someone, anyone, then she would be safe from monsters like Higa.

She'd had a small bit of 'reaction' to Mishi-chan. Mishi was cute, she was smart, and she was kind. Madoka could do far worse, she realized that now. So now she just needed to get Gregory to take her back to the apartment in his big orange vehicle, keep her away from Katsuragi long enough to get to Mishi and see if she could convince Mishi to be her Ashikabi… or failing convincing her just kissing Mishi as hard as she could and hope it worked out anyway.

Anything would be better than suffering Katsuragi's fate. Anything. Especially as Madoka knew she would be of no use to a man like Higa. She was not strong, fast, or capable in a fight. She couldn't help him win the Sekirei Plan so her fate would be that of a worthless tool, discarded and never even considered again.

No, she had to get back to the apartment and find Mishi. She felt that little bit of reaction, she knew Mishi could wing her if she tried.

"Yes, Gregory-san. Just like you heard me say. I am not truly human and not from this world." Madoka realized how crazy that sounded but it was the truth so she had to start there or Gregory wouldn't cooperate. He was too good at getting right to the heart of things for any deception on her part to work on him, she knew that.

When Gregory didn't reply after a minute, Madoka looked up to see if she could judge his reaction to her statement. He was still sitting on the edge of the teacher's desk, one leg up on the desk, the other leg down with his foot on the ground. His face was no longer smiling; in fact he wore an expression of intense focus she'd not seen on him before. It was a little intimidating, frankly.

"Gregory-san?"

Gregory's green eyes met hers again and he grimaced and looked away from her before speaking. Madoka was surprised at how much it hurt that he wouldn't look at her.

"Let's set aside whether or not I believe what you are saying is true. No, Mado-chan," Gregory held up a hand to stop her protests, "I'm not saying you are lying to me. But you might have been told something that isn't accurate or any of a hundred other explanations that are more likely than the chances that you are an intelligent life form from another world that just happens to look entirely human and happens to look exactly like an almost ideally beautiful human at that. Let's not get into the odds of xenobiological parallel evolution and the arguments... No, there is no point in that right here, this minute. Let's assume what you're saying is true enough for our purposes right here and now."

Gregory grimaced then continued, "So, you're an alien and you're being pursued by another alien like you, this girl Katsuragi. She is working for this man, Higa. Is Higa one of your people?"

Madoka breathed a sigh of relief. Even if Gregory was not agreeing with the entirety of what she had told him at least he was willing to act as though it were true and that is really all that mattered, like he said, right here and now.

"No, Higa is a human. And yes, Katsuragi is one of my people." Madoka continued in a small, barely-audible voice, "We are called Sekirei. My 'people' as you put it. We are the Sekirei."

"Like the little bird? The black and white bird, called a 'wagtail'?"

Madoka blinked and looked back up at Gregory. "Yes, just like the little bird. Which is maybe a coincidence, I do not know. We have a lot of bird ancestry, like humans have monkey ancestry."

Gregory shook his head at that, though Madoka wasn't sure if he was disagreeing with her statement that the Sekirei were descended from avians or that humans were descended from monkeys.

But everyone knew humans were descended from monkeys.

"Okay, again, Mado-chan, we'll let that slide for now, since it's not really important for you to understand the difference between 'common ancestor' and 'descended from' at this point. Nor is it important for you to understand that avians are not mammals and you are very… very definitely a mammal." Gregory looked like he was struggling to meet her gaze.

It was a look he regularly got when speaking to her and she still had not figured out what it meant, but he was right, it really did not matter right now about the birds and the monkeys.

Gregory muttered, seemingly to himself, "Whoever named you after a bird that is also called the 'wagtail' had quite the naughty sense of humor though, I'll grant that."

Madoka didn't know exactly what Gregory meant by that but since it didn't seem important right now she let it go. She would try to ask him what he meant, later. If she ever got the chance, of course. The little blonde Sekirei tried to continue the confession of her secrets; she knew they had to get going and as soon as possible.

"Gregory-san, the important thing to understand is that there are only just over 100 of us on this world. A man named Hiroto Minaka discovered us in 1999; he and his minions discovered the ship that we had come in. It had crashed in the ocean a thousand years ago and we were all in suspended animation or… something like that." Madoka stopped her explanation and looked at Gregory; his expression indicated he had a question. Or a thousand questions.

"Do you mind if I get a notebook out and take some notes, Mado-chan? Also, 'minions'? Really?"

Madoka shrugged, causing Gregory to get that funny look on his face again, then replied, "Well, that is what the Professor always said, that he and his minions discovered us."

Elsewhere in Shin Tokyo, Sahashi Takami felt the urge to go beat Hiroto Minaka into a bloody smear.

Gregory searched through his briefcase and pulled out a twin wire bound A4 notebook with a black cover as well as a ballpoint pen. He flipped through the notebook quickly to confirm it was a new, blank, notebook, turned it to the second page and started writing. Without looking up he asked, "You mentioned MBI earlier. I assume Hiroto Minaka is the same as the eccentric genius Hiroto Minaka who owns MBI almost entirely and has been in the news so much lately for making some revolutionary… technological breakthroughs…"

Gregory stopped writing and looked up at Madoka; his face showing a great deal less confidence than it was just a minute ago.

Madoka answered, "Yes. He was known to us as The Professor because he was the person who taught most of us about the Sekirei Plan and he was in charge of everything. I really am not sure why he was called a Professor but no one dared really question him about it. He was not ever mean to us though, other than requiring us to do our exercises and physical exams without clothes on."

Gregory twitched at that but soldiered on bravely. "You were all discovered in 1999 and you've lived isolated, imprisoned, kept away from everyone by MBI all this time? Why are you out now, did you escape? What about this… Katsuragi?"

"No, I did not escape, Gregory-san. It is the Sekirei Plan, which the Professor has made for all of us to participate in. MBI is releasing a few of us into the city every week, starting a couple of weeks ago; I was the fifth Sekirei released into the city, though I do not know the identities of who were released before me. They were to release three to five of us a week for the next several months. They kept us apart from each other a lot; I do not think I personally met more than forty of my fellow Sekirei the entire time I was in the MBI Sekirei Labs. And most of those who I did meet I did not know for long."

Madoka scowled, her eyes seeing images from years ago. "Part of their experiments with us involved us forming then breaking relationships and some groups were kept together and some were broken apart after a time and they kept some pairs together for years then separated them to see what would happen… there was a lot of unhappiness with how MBI kept tearing us apart from each other. There were only five of us in Group 11 who were there from our earliest childhood through this year. And even I was removed from Group 11 eventually; I spent the last maybe three months isolated."

Gregory kept writing in the notebook and growled under his breath, "Inhuman. You don't just experiment on people, even if it's just social experimentation, without their consent. These guys are guilty of violating a huge raft of laws." Gregory paused his writing and looked up at Madoka. "We'll come back to 'Group 11' and who was in it and for how long later. How long were you there?"

She shook her head, "I do not really know for sure, Gregory-san. All of my life, I know that. There was not any real way to tell or record the passage of time. I did not know what a week was or a month was until a long time after we learned to read and write. I told you I spent my last maybe three months isolated because I cannot be sure how long it was. Even after they finally taught us about calendars and years and weeks and months there were not any calendars in the Sekirei Labs. Some counted days, but even that could be messed up easily. So you just guessed or did not worry about it." Madoka laughed at that, a slightly bitter sound, very unlike her usual laugh. "Sometimes it would seem like weeks had passed and other times months, but there were also drugs we were given that would make us sleep for a period of time and we would wake up having had changes made to our bodies and even our minds sometimes."

"Like what kind of changes?"

Madoka sighed and returned to nervously pulling on the hem of her t-shirt. "Like we would wake up older or noticeably taller or with more muscles or sometimes a Sekirei who was having difficulty controlling their abilities would go for a round of 'adjustments' and come back more controlled. That is what it was called, 'adjustments'. My last round of adjustments was a couple of months ago. I did not notice any changes from that cycle of adjustments and after that I was kept away from any of the Sekirei in the labs and just given things to study and exercises to do as well as listening to the most boring recorded lectures about the Sekirei Plan and how wonderful the Professor is."

Madoka rubbed her forehead, obviously not happy about the later part of her life in the MBI Sekirei Labs. "Then they put me in a van and dropped me off in the city with my MBI debit card and a fake identity. My fake identity card said I was named Sanjunana Madoka because we all had numbers, even on our ship they said our tanks were numbered. So I am Sekirei Number 37 Madoka." The way Madoka said this got Gregory's attention.

Gregory was no longer taking notes but instead was listening to Madoka's story and watching her face while she spoke of how MBI treated her and the other Sekirei. He stood, then came around the desk to stand near her, and held out his right hand, "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Sekirei 37, Madoka."

Gregory smiled as he said this but it still warmed Madoka's heart to be greeted by her name and by someone who knew who she really was finally. She grasped Gregory's hand and replied, "It is a pleasure to meet you as well, O'Donnell Gregory."

They both laughed at this and Gregory reached across the desk to retrieve his notebook then paused before opening it to continue making notes. Madoka waited to hear what Gregory was thinking, she really didn't know where to go from here.

"Mado-chan. As interesting and important as your history in the MBI labs or dorms or whatever it was is and as important as learning who else in addition to Hiroto Minaka was involved in the experiments on you and your fellow Sekirei is… those things probably aren't critical right now, this minute. You said you were being chased by another Sekirei, Katsuragi, who works for a human man, Higa. Why are they chasing you and what can we do to make you safe? Let's focus on that right now, because it is getting late and we need to get moving I think."

Blonde hair bobbing as Madoka nodded her head enthusiastically in agreement, she said, "Yes, yes, absolutely right Gregory-san. First, why Katsuragi and Higa are chasing me then what we might do to stop them. The two things are related, of course."

Madoka started pacing along the wall behind the teacher's desk, hugging her arms around her midsection nervously. "One of the most important things we Sekirei have to do, right away when we are released into the city for the Sekirei Plan, is find our Ashikabi."

"Hold on, Mado-chan. Ashikabi? I don't recognize that word."

"Well, Gregory-san, our Ashikabi are our destined mates, the person who a Sekirei is bound to for ever and ever. It is a bond that can never be broken once established and we are supposed to find our Ashikabi in the city then…" Madoka broke off here, unable to meet Gregory's gaze.

"And then? What, Mado-chan?"

Madoka murmured her answer while fiddling with some papers on the teacher's desk, "Well, the Ashikabi and Sekirei kiss and that is how the bond is made. There is a display of psychic power that looks like wings that comes from the Sekirei's back so it is also called 'winging'. A Sekirei is either 'winged' or 'unwinged'." She looked back up and raised her chin a bit. "I am unwinged, because I have not found my Ashikabi yet. I was hoping to find someone who was suited just right for me but I learned not long after I was released into the city that it is possible for a human who has Ashikabi potential, like this man Higa, to wing more than one Sekirei."

She scowled, angry and offended, "And I learned it is possible for an Ashikabi to force himself on a Sekirei, to force a winging. This bonds her to him forever even though he is not the right person for her! It is a horrible thing, Gregory-san, and no one ever even mentioned it was possible in the MBI lectures. I do not think they know about it. But it is horrible and a fate worse than death, any Sekirei would agree with me describing a forced winging that way."

Gregory looked like he wanted to return to taking notes but resisted the temptation. "Okay. So even worse than rape, since it results in a lifetime of slavery to a man you might hate or who might be totally evil. So of course, if this is possible someone found out right away. You saw Higa do this to someone? Katsuragi?"

Madoka nodded, her eyes gleaming with unshed tears suddenly. "I did, Gregory-san. It was the most horrible, terrifying, thing I have ever seen in my life. He did not even try to kiss her; she was being held captive by another Sekirei who was already bound to him and he… he… he spit in her mouth, Gregory-san! And when that did not work he licked his finger and just… stuck it into her mouth, and he looked like it disgusted him to have to touch her at all!" Madoka wiped at her eyes before continuing, voice choked with emotion, "That did it, her wings burst into light and you could see she was now bound to him forever and ever."

Madoka sniffled, and then looked up at Gregory, anger and fear contorting her angelic features. "It was not supposed to be like this! We Sekirei were supposed to find the person who would love us and then in the Sekirei Plan we are all supposed to fight and contest with each other until there is one winner and they get to ascend. I do not know what that really means, so do not bother asking. Whoever is the last standing is supposed to win the great prize from Hiroto Minaka. Some think the winner will get to live with their Ashikabi forever, which sounded like a wonderful and romantic thing when I thought like all the others that an Ashikabi meant a person we loved and who loved us."

Gregory looked tempted to reach out and squeeze her shoulder again. Madoka pressed on, trying to get to the end of her story. "But now all of it sounds like a horrible thing that is going far worse than I ever imagined before I was released into the city. I really do not know what to do next, Gregory-san. If Katsuragi, or any of Higa's other Sekirei, catch me they will drag me to him and he will forcibly wing me and then my life will be over."

Madoka looked into Gregory's eyes and went on, intently, "I must bond with an Ashikabi now, before the worst can happen. Then I will be proof from any other Ashikabi's efforts because nothing can break the bond between a Sekirei and her Ashikabi, nothing. I do not care anymore if they are the perfect person I wanted or if they are exactly who fate meant for me! I just want to be safe from what happened to poor Katsuragi!"

Gregory listened to her with a growing look of puzzlement on his face. He started to ask a question several times after Madoka was finished speaking but stopped each time and reconsidered. Finally he settled on asking, "Mado-chan, how can you know if someone is possible to be an Ashikabi? Can you feel it? Do they look like something specific?"

Madoka shook her head, valiantly trying to get her emotions back under control. "No, they might look like any person at all. At first I thought any human that I might kiss would wing me but I realized that cannot be right. There are too many situations where I might drink from a glass that you drank from or such and it really just cannot be that easy. So I think it is only certain humans who have the potential to be Ashikabi. That was a popular theory among the other Sekirei, that only special humans could… um… mate… with us."

Gregory smirked a little, "Yes, I would imagine that was a popular theory in a dorm full of beautiful, teenaged girls who were all speculating about their destined Prince Charming. No mere normal monkey descendent, but only a special person, indeed."

The Sekirei nodded her head, realizing how juvenile and even insulting that sounded, now. "I did not mean any offense, Gregory-san…"

Gregory waved his hands, smiling and answered, "No, no, it's fine, Mado. I find it kind of funny and very much the sort of thing any teenage girls might say or think. Don't worry." He glanced out at the nighttime view of the Tokyo Metro High courtyard and sighed, "It's already getting late; whatever we need to do we need to do it now. Do you have any candidates for Ashikabi who we can get you to so you can kiss them and then be safe from bastards like this man, Higa?"

"Yes, there is someone who I had a slight reaction with. I think this person could be an Ashikabi, but the only way to know for sure is to try to kiss them and see if the bond happens, if my wings appear."

"Okay, great, then let's go, Mado-chan! Where is this guy?"

Madoka twisted her shirt hem nervously, noting that the fabric was beginning to disintegrate under the abuse, and then let her eyes wander around the room, avoiding Gregory's gaze. She almost whispered, "It is a girl, Gregory-san. It was… um… Mishi-chan. It was Mishi-chan who I could feel a small reaction with."

Gregory, closing his briefcase back up after tossing his black notebook in and getting ready to rush for the door, stopped in his tracks.

"Say again?"

o.0.O.0.o

o.0.O.0.o

Lights from the storefronts of Shibuya Ward and from other vehicles glared on the windshield of the Jeep as Gregory and Madoka drove in silence, hoping to get from Tokyo Metro High to the O'Donnell's apartment without running into any trouble, especially any trouble like Katsuragi.

Gregory rested his right forearm atop the steering wheel as he drove, partially on autopilot, mind occupied by thoughts of his blonde passenger, thoughts of his daughter Mishi, thoughts of crazy stories of battle royale in a metropolis of 19 million souls, and alien bird women, and crazed lunatics who run trillion yen multinational companies.

He did not know what he thought of the whole 'Sekirei are aliens' thing. He knew that the odds of coincidental parallel evolution were so long as to be a practical impossibility. The odds of another intelligent species evolving near enough to Sol system to contact it and just happening to exist in the same blink of an eye that the entirety of human history was in the scale of time of the universe… Gregory was a science fiction fan but he was also a rationalist. He knew the odds were so long against such things that no one took them seriously, not if they really understood the factors involved.

Those things did not really matter until Madoka brought his sixteen-year-old daughter into the equation. Then he had to have more proof than just the word of his incredibly pretty, and incredibly frustrating, houseguest. She claimed the Sekirei had powers and abilities that were beyond what any human could claim. Throwing lightning, leaping 10 stories into the air, punching holes through reinforced concrete walls, see around corners, mindspeak others. When he asked her to show him these things, she mumbled that she was one of the only Sekirei who could not do anything like that except some of the far sight tricks.

Of course.

She had asked him if he had a pocketknife. He gave her the small, folding, knife he carried by habit and she used it to cut him across the back of the hand! Not deeply, just a shallow cut across the entire back of his left hand, enough to bleed all over the desk where she had held his hand down with a remarkably strong grip. Not a supernaturally strong grip, just strong for a five-foot-tall barely one-hundred-pound twenty-year old girl.

Before he could yank his hand back and yell about her being a crazy lunatic who cut people with pocketknives, she placed her other hand on the cut and a moment of warmth from her hand later and there was no cut anymore. Not a scab, not a scar, nothing.

Like it had never happened.

He had snatched the pocketknife away from her and sliced his hand himself, much deeper than she had. Grimacing at the sharp pain that was like a fiery brand across the back of his hand, he held it out to her. She did the same thing; put her hand over the injury and a moment of warmth later the cut was gone, completely healed.

Madoka met his gaze, her sky-blue eyes determined and focused, daring him to deny what had just happened.

That was when Gregory O'Donnell realized that he had, indeed, fallen very deeply down the rabbit hole.

There were still a hundred explanations that Occam's Razor insisted were more likely than parallel evolution of two species with no common ancestor and separated by light years of space. Perhaps she was a mutant, or a rare type of psychic, or perhaps the entire thing was staged and some sort of elaborate hoax involving controlled hallucinations.

However, he knew that cut across the back of his hand was real. Both of them. Moreover, he knew that Madoka had healed it by putting her hand on it and willing it to be healed. He knew that had really happened, no matter how much his rational side wanted to insist it could not have.

To his credit, Gregory O'Donnell did not once say, "That's impossible!"

He always hated it when someone said that in the face of evidence to the contrary. It was just bad writing.

So he had to believe that what Madoka had said was true, to some degree. Whether or not the Sekirei were really aliens or if they were people who were kidnapped by MBI and experimented on and given mysterious super-human powers… like in a really clichéd super hero comic… it did not truly matter right now. What mattered right now was that Madoka was some sort of person with more than mundane human abilities; that was established fact. She definitely healed the cut on his hand, twice. He felt the pain of the injury and there was still blood left over afterwards, so he was as sure as he could be that it had actually happened. Madoka had mentioned that some of the Sekirei could "see around corners" and they all had varying degrees of ability to sense each other, some could project their thoughts to another Sekirei and be "heard". She called these abilities "farsense" but Gregory just made a note to follow up on the specifics later. For now, he would operate on the assumption that her story about Katsuragi being after her on behalf of the Ashikabi, Higa, were true, because it was safer to make that assumption right now than to do otherwise.

The story she told him about the Sekirei Plan… it really sounded like a piss poor plot for a piss poor manga. What possible reason would MBI, a hugely successful and wealthy company that had patented several revolutionary medical technologies, invest no-doubt-trillions of yen into some battle to the death… or 'termination' as Madoka insisted, as though there was an important difference between the two states… between the 100+ super-powered aliens they already had complete control over? If they wanted all of the Sekirei dead, they could just kill them.

No, it made no sense at all the way Madoka explained it, which meant that likely there was a lot more going on than she knew. A lot more that would make this Sekirei Plan make sense, make it obvious where MBI and Hiroto Minaka were benefiting from it.

It seemed as though the Sekirei girls, and he confirmed that almost all of them were girls, were strongly under the impression they each would find an Ashikabi, and they would each eventually find each other in this city of 19 million people and they would fight until one was unconscious or yielded or was 'terminated'. Eventually there would be only one and that one and her Ashikabi would win some great prize.

However, if it were possible for an Ashikabi to 'wing' more than one Sekirei… that would make this a completely new ballgame.

Especially if none of the Sekirei and none of the administrators of the Sekirei Plan had counted on ruthless men forcibly winging groups of Sekirei. Whatever controls MBI had in place that were calculated to be effective against one troublesome Ashikabi and his one troublesome Sekirei would fail completely in the face of one troublesome Ashikabi and his dozen troublesome Sekirei.

That meant this Sekirei Plan could go balls up very quickly, resulting in attempts by MBI to regain control of a situation that was far more difficult than they had anticipated. This would mean overreaction and half-assed plans implemented by rushed, over-worked and under-qualified security staff.

That meant people were going to be in a great deal of danger. Regardless of Madoka's insistence that no Sekirei would ever attack an Ashikabi, Gregory knew that the other Sekirei were not necessarily the biggest danger to the participants in the Sekirei Plan.

No. Gregory was very aware at how dangerous his own species was when spooked and put in high-pressure situations against things they did not understand.

Gregory was not worried about the other Sekirei nearly as much as he was worried about MBI. Of course, Gregory reminded himself firmly, he had not seen the other Sekirei in action yet so he might well be underestimating just how much a risk they were.

He did not like trying to guess at risks when his daughter was in the equation. Not one damn bit. But Madoka insisted and begged, with tears in her beautiful blue eyes, begged him to take her to the apartment so she could try to bond with Mishi, to save Madoka from a lifetime of enslavement to a ruthless bastard. Any ruthless bastard. Gregory knew very well that whoever this Higa fellow was he sure as hell was not the only man in Shin Tokyo that would be more than willing to force a lifetime of enslavement onto a girl who looked like Madoka.

No, there was no shortage of ruthless bastards in this city. Shin Tokyo was the world capital of ruthless bastards.

Gregory carefully steered the big, orange, Jeep through the early evening traffic. It was 6pm, a couple of hours later than his usual drive from the school to the apartment, so traffic was a bit denser than he was used to. Here on the western side of the sprawling metropolis vehicle traffic was not as bad as in the downtown area or as bad as it was in the east of the city. It was still dense enough that Gregory needed to pay attention to where he was driving.

Gregory glanced to the left, at the passenger side door-mirror before changing lanes. He looked past the pensive and silent Number 37, Madoka. It was odd to think of her as literally "sanjunana Madoka" even though that was the name he had been calling her for a week. The legal department at the MBI Sekirei Plan Division had a sense of humor at least. Moreover, whoever came up with the name "sekirei" for the girls… a sekirei was a small black and white bird also called a 'wagtail'. And, man oh man, Madoka sure could wag her tail, he granted that.

Sense of humor meant that maybe they were not as mad scientist insane as the whole thing seemed at first glance. At least it was a positive sign, in Gregory's book.

His thoughts were deliberately avoiding the issue of his daughter getting involved in this mess. He was on the knife's edge in his feelings about the whole thing. He truly wanted to help Madoka. If what she had described about forced winging were true and what that meant to her and her kind, to be enslaved in such a way… anyone with any decency at all would make great effort to help a Sekirei avoid such a fate.

But why did it have to be his sixteen-year-old daughter who had managed to spark some "reaction" in Madoka? Was he willing to let Mishi put herself at risk in this crazy Sekirei Plan that no-doubt had far deeper secrets to it than Gregory had even had a hint of so far? It would be like volunteering to take part in a real-life James Bond movie with shadowy organizations moving pieces on a game board against each other, collateral damage happening with innocent people being hurt, even killed.

There were many reasons to say no. But looking at Madoka's face, her eyes swimming in unshed tears, fear radiating from her, listening to her literally beg him to help her… there was no way he could do anything other than what he was doing.

Driving her to the apartment, to find Mishi. So Madoka could kiss his sixteen year old daughter and establish a psychic bond of love and affection between them which would unlock more powers in Madoka as well as mark Madoka as a full participant in this Sekirei Plan, a valid target for the other Sekirei who were going to be patrolling the city looking for easy 'kills'.

Gregory's fingers itched to find his notebook and make more notes on what he and Madoka had discussed. She was remarkably ignorant about the details of her own people, the Sekirei. How did their powers operate, where did the energy for their powers come from, what range of abilities were there… there were a thousand questions that immediately came to mind for Gregory and he was shocked that Madoka could not answer even the most basic. It seemed as though MBI had kept the Sekirei ignorant by design, focusing most of their efforts on convincing them to participate in the Sekirei Plan (and Gregory found out very quickly that even Madoka had complete conviction that the Sekirei Plan was a good and necessary thing, even as she bemoaned her own zero chance of winning).

Gregory wondered how deep the conditioning went into which MBI had put so much effort. While people, including Sekirei, he assumed, were naturally willing to compete against each other they were also naturally very prone to cooperation. That is the only reason humankind climbed out of the prehistoric darkness to accomplish the civilization which was the crowning achievement of life on Earth.

Convincing someone to kill all of the other people like them in order to win an undefined prize would require quite a lot of conditioning. Alternatively, very careful selection of the participants might work. But if MBI raised all 100+ Sekirei from the womb to adulthood then they could not have screened for the kind of personalities who would gladly sign up for mass slaughter.

There must have been a lot of conditioning.

And he was voluntarily signing his sixteen year old daughter to get involved in it.

On the knife-edge. Help Madoka. Keep Mishi uninvolved and safe. Help Madoka.

Gregory kept driving, one eye on the dense traffic on the Omotesandō, the wide street that passed through the heart of western Shin Tokyo, and the other eye on the big LED monitor in the center of the dash showing the fastest route back to the apartment. He disagreed with the GPS that taking Omotesandō was a good plan. The street was famous worldwide, called "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées" without exaggeration. He usually drove well around the commercial district that made Shibuya Ward famous, but he had not been paying attention and followed his GPS's recommendations.

"Mado-chan, can you use your, ah, seeing-around-corners thing to find Katsuragi? You can see further than normal and through things, right?"

"Yes, but it is not easy." Madoka answered quietly. "I am trying to sense her but I have never tried doing this while moving and it seems that it is more difficult while we are driving, Gregory-san."

Well, so much for that idea. Gregory grimaced and asked, "Are you sure there has been no one else you had any reaction to at all? Is Mishi the only person in a week who you've met that might be an Ashikabi?"

Gregory heard the sigh from his passenger before she answered, her soft voice practically caressing his ears. "Mishi-chan is the best chance I have. Even with Mishi-chan it was just a small twinge, Gregory-san, a reaction so small I was not sure of what it meant at the time. And from what we were told there would be no mistaking a reaction with a strong Ashikabi. If someone had the potential, was kind, and showed they cared for a Sekirei it could spark a reaction as well, even if there was no reaction at first encounter. I suspect if the Sekirei wanted it badly and the potential Ashikabi wanted it badly even a marginal Ashikabi could manage to make the 'winging' happen."

Out of the corner of his eye Gregory saw Madoka shifting in the Jeep's bucket seat, tucking one leg under the other and turning to face him as she continued. "I am wondering how much of what we knew, how much of the rumors and old myths that were whispered among us in the dorms, how much is true and how much is just the wishful thinking of silly girls who were scared and alone. Understand, Gregory-san, that the subject of Ashikabi and winging was the single most gossiped about item in our lives. MBI certainly put a lot of emphasis on it as well, constantly reminding us that as soon as we were released into the city we had to find our Ashikabi. They went on about that almost as much as they went on about 'fight fight fight until only one remains'. I wonder about how much of all we were told is untrue, but I saw Katsuragi's winging with my own eyes. As horrible as it was I know at least the story about Ashikabi and Sekirei and winging is definitely very true."

Gregory nodded, concentrating on driving and on what Madoka had said. He had a sudden mad notion to reach over and open the passenger side door of his Jeep and push the beautiful blonde girl out into the street right in front of the Meiji Shrine and take off, praying to never hear about her or the Sekirei Plan or aliens ever again. The impulse was so strong and sudden that he could not breathe for a moment.

His left hand, resting on the stick shift to be ready to shift gears in this traffic, felt Madoka's hand cover it and squeeze gently. He glanced to the left towards her, where she was turned in the passenger seat so she was facing him, a full smile on her face, gratitude radiating from her. "Thank you Gregory-kun. For everything that you have done for me and are trying to do for me. If not for you, I would have been condemned to a horrible fate by now. You are the best man I have ever met and I want you to know I am very grateful for your kindness and your protection."

Just like that, the crazy idea of pushing Madoka out of the vehicle into traffic disappeared from his head. He could only smile back at her and answer, "Of course, Mado-chan. Anything I can do to help, I'll do."

o.0.O.0.o

o.0.O.0.o


From the Notebooks of Gregory O'Donnell

Terminology

MBI Sekirei Labs - We'll use this phrase as our umbrella term to designate MBI's facilities for the study, housing, and care of the Sekirei. There may be multiple locations but unless it is important to specify which or where we will just call them all the MBI Sekirei Labs. Madoka reports there was no one specific term used for these facilities that she was aware of. Madoka and the other Sekirei she was raised with spent their entire lives in the MBI Sekirei Labs, not once being allowed to go away from the controlled facilities on their own. This blatant imprisonment is only the least of the laws, both Japanese and International, which MBI seems to have violated.

Sekirei – The supposedly alien subjects of MBI's experimentation and MBI's 'Sekirei Plan'. At least some are confirmed by my own witnessing to have abilities beyond human. There were 108 of them when their ship crashed into the Pacific a thousand years ago (this all being reported by Madoka as 'common knowledge' among the Sekirei in the MBI Sekirei Labs). The 108 included one adult (Sekirei 01) and 107 Sekirei fetuses at various stages of development, transported in some sort of suspended animation womb tanks.
They were discovered by Hiroto Minaka and his "minions" (a term used by Minaka himself according to Madoka) in late 1999 still in suspension aboard their long-crashed ship. Madoka does not know where this ship might be other than a vague memory of it being on a rocky island in the ocean. (Later Note: Kamakura Island in international waters near Japan)
Madoka indicates there was some significant difference between the late-stage fetuses (numbers 02 through 09) and the rest of the Sekirei (numbers 10 through 108). What possible difference one pre-viability fetus can be to another pre-viability fetus is unknown but Madoka insists there was certainly a difference of some sort.

Ashikabi – Madoka says the Sekirei require a psychic mating bond to an 'Ashikabi' in order to unlock all of their psychic potential (and possibly to unlock the ability to reproduce, must follow up on this later). She says the Ashikabi are indistinguishable from any other human, indicating that the trait for Ashikabi potential is not common to all humans. Must follow up on where this trait originated from, Madoka reported that myth or legend among the Sekirei hints Ashikabi-ness may be a result of ancient Sekirei genes still being passed down among the human population from earlier Sekirei arrivals on Earth. Can male Sekirei be Ashikabi? Can female Sekirei? Is it only humans who can be? Only humans with some ancient Sekirei genetics? If only Terran Humans with Sekirei ancestry can be Ashikabi then it follows that Sekirei themselves could be Ashikabi, unless the 108 specimens aboard the original ships were engineered to not have that ability themselves while still passing it on to their descendants. Obviously a great deal more research needs to be done on this subject.

Group 11 – The selection of Sekirei who shared common dormitory, classes, examiners, and 'adjusters' to which Madoka was assigned. Madoka reports that there were five Sekirei who were always a part of Group 11, but others came and went over the years. This manipulation of which Sekirei lived together, for how long, when they were separated from those they had grown bonds with, seems to be part of a long term, intensive, study by MBI on the socialization of the Sekirei, possibly to determine how best to manipulate them long term.
From initial descriptions, it seems that interaction with other Groups never occurred and even the existence of other Groups is speculative. If someone were removed from Group 11, it meant they would never be seen again, in Madoka's experience.
Note: get Madoka to list all the members of Group 11 in every detail she can recall, as well as those who were assigned to the Group and separated from it over the years.


Sekirei

What Sekirei I have information about I will note here, along with the source of that information, rumor or hearsay noted where applicable.

37 Sanjunana Madoka – Madoka has the ability to heal injuries by touching the wound and concentrating on a desire for the wound to be healed. I witnessed a demonstration of this ability with my own eyes and the demonstration was carried out upon my own body, both injury caused by Madoka herself for purposes of proving her abilities and a second injury caused by myself to prove there was no trick with the injury itself.
She asserts that she can see also "around corners", which sounds a lot like a form of clairvoyance. The same faculty allows some to communicate wordlessly, mind-to-mind, as well as sense other Sekirei and their relative strength.
She claims most of the other Sekirei are super-humanly strong and tough and that she is one of the few that lack those abilities.
She was the fifth Sekirei released into Shin Tokyo as part of Phase One of the Sekirei Plan, on Friday, Dec 6, 2019.

16 Toyotama – Madoka described Toyotama as a powerful fighter, a "power type" who had great skill with a fighting staff/javelin that she carries on clips on her back when it is not needed. Madoka says she does not know if the lower number Sekirei are automatically more powerful than higher number Sekirei (other than the single digits who are definitely more powerful, must look into this later). The impression amongst the members of Group 11 was that the 'teen' numbered Sekirei were certainly a cut above everyone except for the single digits. Madoka indicated she knew Toyotama for years in Group 11 but we did not get into their history (must return to this when more time is available). Toyotama is bound to the Ashikabi Higa Izumi.

18 Ichiya – Another power type, according to Madoka, who was raised in Group 11. Ichiya eventually specialized in savate, or French kickboxing, as her combat style of choice. Madoka claims only 16 Toyotama and 14 Chiyo ever defeated Ichiya in spars among the Group 11 Sekirei.

22 Kochou – Bound to Ashikabi Kakizaki some date prior to Monday Dec. 9 2019. Kochou is supposedly one of the uncommon Sekirei with non-physical powers, like Madoka herself. Kouchou's abilities appear to have something to do with her intelligence and the ability to organize data, but Madoka knew little for sure about it, only rumor and what she overheard among the MBI staff and, most importantly, what she heard from Ashikabi Higa and Ashikabi Kakizaki on 9 Dec 2019.

Madoka believes, from what she overheard between Ashikabi Higa and Ashikabi Kakizaki, that Kochou is somehow able to get inside information about the release schedule of the Sekirei, allowing Ashikabi Higa and his people to set ambushes for the unprepared and unaware Sekirei. If true this makes Kochou a significant asset to Higa's operation and a real game changer, one which MBI very well may not have taken into account in their planning, especially in planning their control elements, those aspects of their operation meant to enforce compliance with the Sekirei Plan itself.

Madoka has little firsthand knowledge of Kochou, though she was one of the Sekirei witnesses to an emergency which occurred within the last year of their confinement at the MBI Sekirei Labs that involved Kochou and her twin sister Akitsu. Her description of the event is added below.

Madoka: The staff was separating the two to be assigned different dorm groups for the first time in their lives. This was well after we had all been through our Puberty Adjustments, I will guess it was perhaps just a year ago. Akitsu, who was back then known as number 07, went crazy and lost control of her powers (Gregory notes: something to do with being able to reduce thermal energy in an area, coupled with the ability to force condensation of atmospheric water. So in other words she can make ice out of thin air, unbelievably), resulting in the death of staff as well as destruction of property. All the Sekirei witnesses were quickly moved away from the scene. I do not know what happened after, other than the long term consequences of this event directly led to Akitsu to becoming a "scrapped number" (Gregory notes: must follow up on what this "scrapped number" bit means, later).

86 Katsuragi – Madoka could only say that Katsuragi was likely a "power type" from what she recalled from the few months that Katsuragi shared the same dorm space as Madoka's 'Group 11' several years ago. Madoka's description of the events of Katsuragi's winging to Ashikabi Higa indicated that number 16 Toyotama had little difficulty physically beating Katsuragi. Madoka stressed this meant little when it came to Katsuragi's danger to other Sekirei or to mere humans. Madoka remembers Katsuragi as being mild mannered and quiet, a girl who kept to herself mostly, but who was kindhearted and friendly. Unfortunately Madoka also remembers 16 Toyotama as being brave and kind and a protector of the weak, so what value her recollection of what Katsuragi's nature might be is questionable.

Ashikabi

Higa – Higa Izumi, young heir to the Higa Pharmaceutical empire. Izumi has access to a great deal of financial resources as the CEO and President of Higa Pharmaceuticals, also, perhaps only coincidentally, a primary rival of MBI in the medical technology field.
Madoka reports she could sense he was a powerful and dangerous man, though the worth of this 'sense' has yet to be determined. He bound Sekirei 16 Toyotama to him on some date prior to Monday Dec. 9 2019. He bound Sekirei 86 Katsuragi to him on that date, sometime in the afternoon, downtown Shin Toyko. He may be the first Ashikabi to discover both a) it is possible to 'wing' more than one Sekirei and b) it is possible to do so by force, against the will of the unwinged Sekirei. He seems to have some superior relationship to the Ashikabi Kakizaki. He also seems to have some personal dislike or contempt for the Sekirei themselves. Typical elite social class Japanese racism or something else?

Kakizaki – Not sure if first or last name. Seems to have an inferior relationship to Ashikabi Higa due to obsequious behavior witnessed by Madoka Monday Dec 9 2019, downtown Shin Toyko. From his own statements and the statements of Ashikabi Higa, Kakizaki has bound Sekirei 22 Kochou at some date prior to Monday Dec 9 2019.

o.0.O.0.o

o.0.O.0.o


Started Sep 27 2014
Completed Sep 28 2014
Originally Posted May 7 2015