Hello, Internet! Back again in a timely manner with a new chapter! Ready to move forward with the Tree Diagram Remnant Arc? I know I am! But first, our usual tradition of me responding to reviews left on the previous chapter.

fangs of death: Thank you!

Isokage: When I saw that cutscene in the mobile game, I knew I had to integrate it into the canon of my story. Given Mikoto's propensity to keep secrets, the Sisters will be secret until there is literally no way she can keep them secret anymore. You'll have to wait and see how Accelerator deals with the Delta Force. Or should I say Epsilon Force? You'll be surprised with how this chapter ends. Best mecha anime would have to be Gurren Lagann, and while I think the cast's philosophy would mesh well with Touma, I doubt Touma could handle their level of eccentricity.

Nemonobody001: Glad you liked the chapter. Well, you wish was granted, and this chapter came out before Christmas. Not too long after Thanksgiving, actually.

DuckBoi: Yeah, I wanted to shake up how certain events were ordered since I wanted Yuri to be a part of Touma's class before the start of the Daihasei, and this just felt like the perfect opportunity to do so. I do like to hang a lampshade every once and awhile. I see you're picking up on the significance my lore exponsiions are going to have in relation to the following story arc. Imagine Breaker and Miracles are both concepts that have been seldom explored in canon, so I thought to connect them and see how far I could run with it.

SolanaLeonhart: The Tree Diagram Remnant Arc was one of the shorter arcs in the overall narrative, so I'm not surprised you never heard of it in discussion. Regarding Endymion, the events of the film are going to make up the next major arc once this arc is wrapped up, so look forward to it.

Blankow: Good to be back. I've noticed that as well. It's only been a month, and this story is still on the first page of the fandom achieve when organized by most recently updated. Just glad to be able to add something for everyone to enjoy.

Phantom117a: Eh, I like to throw a lampshade on things everyone once and a while. If anything, I'm calling myself out.

azlil7: About a certain as Index is eat food in front of her.

guest (1)(Guest): Yes, Kuroko is still getting shot, and yes, I will be covering the hospital scene next chapter, with a bit of an expansion given the new developments in this chapter.

Guest (1): Glad I have a fan in you.

guest (2)(Guest): That is to be decided. I still want to do some variant of the canon joke, so we'll see what I ultimately decide to do.

Teloz: Glad you liked it so much. Yeah, not a lot of To Aru content lately, which is why it is up to the fans to fill the void with fan content!

Sarcasm Sage 626: For stuff I wanted to do in future arcs, I needed Yuri to be part of Touma's class, thus I moved up his exit from the hospital to now, which also opened the opportunity for one of the funniest cases of Komoe being mistaken for a child. With how famous Touma has gotten, it only felt natural that certain individuals are more aware of him at this point, and that loss of anonymity is only going to get worse from here. Basically, last chapter was a lot of set up and early payoff for a bunch of shake ups in the status quo that would be expected at this point in canon. And as always, fun character interactions are at the forefront of the story, with fun banter, rearranged relationship webs, and character exploration thanks to new persectives given by other characters.

DhakaGrayMan: I mean, this is the current second-third most popular To Aru story on this site, only losing out to stories with seniority at this point. Regardless, it's good to be back.

1234 (Guest): Totally see where you're coming from. My plan was that Touma and Mikoto would get an official relationship upgrade a few arcs from now, the light shifts in the narration happening over time to show that Touma subconsciously regards Mikoto as someone a bit more special than his other friends. My choice in language last chapter may have steered a bit too hard for this point in the story.

Mixmaster226: Glad to see you are enjoying it.

And that's all the reviews. Once again special thanks to Marisandini for being the beta.

Don't forget we have a Tv Tropes page now, one with a Characters subpage, so check it out and add to it if you have the chance. Do so and leaving reviews really help motivate me to keep this story train rolling.

But for now, you all know the drill.

Disclaimer: All characters and plotlines of the "A Certain" franchise are credited to Kazuma Kamachi.

Chapter 76: Lagging Behind

Not too far from the construction site where she was last seen, Musujime teleported into a restaurant several stories up with the Remnant in hand. With heavy breath, the Teleporter made her way to the glass wall. There, she could see the trio of Railgun, Accelerator, and Judgement's Certain Strange Addition all desperately scrambling to track her down, oblivious to her bird's eye view.

"Like I told you before, I wasn't about to take any chances on this, especially with Imagine Breaker getting involved." Musujime taunted her pursuers, barely managing to hold back a gag. "As long as the goal is important enough, I can teleport myself whenever I want and power through the trauma."

Suddenly, Musujime felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder. Looking down, she saw a very familiar corkscrew had been embedded in her upper arm.

"I don't think you actually understand how trauma works." A familiar voice taunted behind Musujime, "It's not that simple to overcome, unfortunately."

Turning around while nursing the new wound, Musujime was greeted by the sight of one Kuroko Shirai staring down at her from her seat on a restaurant table.

"Two years ago, you were seriously injured in the process of teleporting your own body." Kuroko recounted, an air of smug superiority surrounding her, "If I had to guess, you probably miscalculated your coordinates and ran into a wall or something. And what a pathetic sight that must have been."

Adding further injury to insult, Kuroko teleported three of her own pins into Musujime's body, one in each of her uninjured limbs. The collective pain brought the older Teleporter down to the floor on her knees.

"I'm sure it hurts a lot, but there's no need to panic. I made sure to avoid hitting anything vital. All I wanted to do was pay you back for the injuries you gave me earlier. Here's some styptic gel. Believe me, it's quite effective. Go ahead and try it." Adding one more layer of insult for good measure, Kuroko tossed a half empty tube of styptic gel at Musujime's feet, her smile too evil for someone working for Judgement. Not once did she move from her seat on the table as she kept watch. "Now, I would like to watch you writhing in pain on the cold floor while you treat your injuries. Do that, and I'd say we'd be even."

However, to Kuroko's surprise, Musujime simply laughed at her display. Despite her compromising position and Kuroko's repeated taunting, the older Esper could not help but find the lengths to which the Tokiwadai student before her would go to be humorous and stupid. They could have finished her if they brought the Railgun as backup, but instead of trying to win or lose, the girl was trying to protect something that does not exist.

"You are quite concerned for the fate of Tokiwadai's Ace, aren't you?" Musujime mused, standing up, her body trembling from the same wounds she inflicted on Kuroko. "Really though, what is it you're trying so desperately to protect? Dear, sweet, Railgun's delusions? The sentimental, selfish, fantasy world that only the likes of her and Judgement's Certain Strange Addition can see? Is it really worth risking your life?!"

Kuroko's body trembled, her wounds still affecting her still. But that doesn't quell the determination in her eyes as she glared at Musujime.

So without hesitation, she replied, "It's worth it."

"Of course I know it's naïve and childish." Kuroko declared proudly, using what limited she had to get on her feet, "But that's exactly what I'm trying to protect. However selfish she can be at times, what Sissy wants is truly good. A world where you and I don't have to fight like this! That's what she's working for! And with someone like Kamijou constantly giving her support, I know they can make that world you call an illusion into a reality!

"Don't you get it? All Sissy needs is a single coin and she could blow either of us away! And nothing either of us could throw at Kamijou would ever keep him down! Those two together could take down just about anything in Academy City, but they don't. They hold back because they believe in a world without so much violence. I am privileged to know such amazing individuals, so you better believe that I think the future they desire is one worth fighting for!"

Kuroko's legs trembled more but she stood strong and roared for anyone to hear, "I, KUROKO SHIRAI, SWEAR TO NEVER TRAMPLE ON THEIR EFFORT WITH BLOOD AND DEATH BY MY HANDS!"

"And now, I'm telling you in no uncertain terms to leave Sissy alone." Kuroko demanded, "You hear me, Musujime? You threaten her, and Kamijou will go to hell and back to protect her. So for both their sakes, I want you to leave Sissy and her dreams alone!"

"Oh really?" Musujime mused, preparing her military flashlight, "And what if I don't give a damn about what you want? What then?"

Seeing that negotiations had fallen through, Kuroko prepared her ODD in police baton mode and took a ready stance. Recalling how Musujime uses her flashlight to help her focus her Ability, Kuroko kept eyes focused on the flashlight's movements.

Musujime made the first move, swinging her flashlight in a wide, horizontal arc in front of her. Recognizing that this meant her opponent was attempting to teleport something remotely, Kuroko quickly teleported a few paces to her left, barely avoiding having a serving tray intercept where her head was.

With her initial attack missing, Musujime followed up by teleporting several tables into the air to block her from Kuroko's field of view. Acting quickly as to not lose sight of her opponent for too long, the member of Judgement teleported under the falling tables and lunged forward to close the gap and avoid getting crushed. However, Musujime had managed to circle around Kuroko's expected trajectory during the split second that Kuroko had lost sight of her, catching her pursuer by surprise as she charged in to bludgeon the younger Esper with the Remnant's carrying case.

Thinking quickly, Kuroko teleported her ODD so it overlapped with the carrying case handle Musujime was gripping. When the Omni Defense Device reappeared from eleventh dimensional space, it dislocated the matter surrounding it, severing the handle of the case and sending the Remnant flying from Musujime's hand.

With her opponent disarmed, Kuroko moved in for a singular decisive blow, teleporting above Musujime to increase the power behind her right hook while recalling her ODD to her left hand. This proved to be a costly mistake, as the increased gap between them gave Musujime plenty of time to teleport the Remnant into Kuroko's path, smacking her in the face and throwing her off course. Not one to be deterred, as soon as her ODD was in her grasp, Kuroko teleported behind Musujime and striking her in the back of the head with the pommel of her ODD, knocking her to the floor.

Unfortunately, all the repeated teleportation jumps in quick succession proved to be rather taxing on Kuroko. True to Touma's concerns, all the teleporting she was doing exasperated her wounds, having not yet fully recovered. The spike of pain Kuroko felt throughout her body stunned her long enough for Musujime to teleport several tables above the member of Judgement. By the time Kuroko registered what was happening, it was too late.

Unable to teleport out of the way due to her inability to focus while under such distracting pain, Kuroko found herself crushed and pinned under several sets of dinner tables and chairs. She was still conscious, but only barely.

"What, were you in so much pain that you were unable to teleport?" Musujime deduced, tauntingly.

Kuroko was unable to give a response, being in far too much pain due to her previous injuries being further exasperated by the several grams of furniture on top of her.

"Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time in a place not so far away, there was an organization interested in a powerful Esper." Musujime recounted as she treated her wounds, "The organization's leaders thought about how strong they would be if they had more Espers like her under their control, so they decided to manufacture clones of her. Unfortunately, every single one of the clones was a colossal failure. Not a single one of them had power even remotely close to that of the original. What do you think went wrong? The clones were all genetically identical and underwent the exact same Ability Development, so how are they so much weaker than the original? Could it be there is another factor besides brain composition? And if we can determine that factor, could non-humans master Abilities as well? Something equal, or even greater than people? The day they exist may be close than you expect."

Musujime was unconcerned with the blood splattering on her face and paused her first aid. Calmly, she faced Kuroko and said, "In other words, is the human brain even required to develop powers in the first place?"

"What are you talking about?" Kuroko asked, befuddled, "You cannot mean machines with Esper Abilities – that's as ridiculous as a robot having a soul!"

"A machine is just a machine." Musujime scoffed, looking over to the Remnant, "But machines can make predictions. For example, suppose there was a machine that could simulate any hypothetical situation presented to it. You could ask it to predict anything, like if Abilities can be developed outside of humankind. Within the animal kingdom, there are several species that are arguably more intelligent than human like dolphins and ants. Surely, Esper Abilities are not the sole province of man. But if that's the case, why haven't we seen them anywhere else?"

Musujime kneeled down in front of the Remnant, resting her forehead against its case as if in reverence of it.

"I want to know. I have to. That is why I am doing this." Musujime declared, "That is why I want the Remnant. I want to build a new Tree Diagram and find the answers!"

"Have you found anything yet?" Touma asked anxiously.

Having found a phonebooth, Mikoto plugged in her handheld computer and used her Ability to brute force the electrical signals to grant her access to the Disciplinary Committee's databases. Having lost Musujime when she teleported away; Touma, Mikoto, and Yuri had hoped to find a hint of her current location through police reports. Unfortunately, they have yet to find anything useful.

"Give me a minute. I'd filter out some of these reports, but I can't risk overlooking any of them." Mikoto replied.

"Don't you have authorization to access the Disciplinary Committee's databases?" Accelerator asked, lazily leaning against the phonebooth, "You are a member of Judgement, aren't you?"

"And risk leaving a paper trail? No way!" Touma refused, "If Uiharu and Shirai saw traces of me looking into this case on my own, they'll immediately suspect something and get involved too! The point of me going radio silent in the first place was so they don't end up getting involved!"

"Could you two keep it down? It's hard to focus on the search with you two yapping like that." Mikoto requested, clearly frustrated by her lack of meaningful results.

"Sorry." Touma apologized meekly, "Damn it. If only we had a way better way of tracking down a Teleporter."

As Touma contemplated their predicament, it quickly dawned on him that tracking Musujime via traditional means may prove fruitless. With her Move Point Ability, she could easily evade pursuers without leaving a trail. Moreover, even by accessing the extra eyes provided by Judgement and Anti-Skill via hacking into their databases, the trio will not find anything if those extra eyes do not see anything. As things stood, it would be miracle if they managed to pick up on Musujime's trail.

Despite that, Touma was still as determined as ever. Musujime was out there with the last Remnant of Tree Diagram, and its very existence posed a threat to Sisters, as well as any other student who may victim to any one of the numerous corrupt researchers in Academy City who would abuse Tree Diagram's processing power. If it would take a miracle to track down Musujime, then this is exactly what Touma was going to make happen.

He would make a miracle happen.

He would will a miracle to happen.

As Touma steeled his resolve to invoke such a miracle, his whole world view transformed. Before his very eyes, Mikoto and Yuri were both enveloped in bright, wisping auras. Mikoto's aura was a bright electric blue, while Yuri's was a blinding pure white. In addition, these auras seemed to pulse like a heartbeat, with Yuri's being a largely passive flicker while Mikoto's spiked rhythmically as she continued to brute force hack her way through the database.

"Uh, why are you two glowing like that?" Touma asked in surprise.

"Glowing?" Yuri echoed, inspecting himself in confusion.

"What are you talking abo-" Mikoto began to ask as she looked up from her handheld, only to cut herself off in shock, "Woah, what's up with your eye?!"

"My eye?" Touma asked in confusion.

"Crap, yeah, what the hell is up with your right eye?" Yuri inquired, "Why does it look like that."

"Look like what?"

"See for yourself." Mikoto replied, offering Touma a compact mirror.

"You actually carry one of these around?" Touma asked, getting sidetracked.

"Just take the mirror!" Mikoto ordered, practically shoving the mirror in Touma's hand.

Bringing the mirror up to his face, Touma saw for the first time his right eye's strange transformation, complete with its black sclera, violet iris, and vertically slitted pupil.

"Okay, that's weird." Touma said wearily, placing his right hand over his transformed eye.

As soon has his eye was covered, Touma noticed that the auras that surrounded the Level 5s with him disappeared as well. Testing a theory, the Level 0 removed his hand and steadily opened and closed his right eye. Sure enough, whenever he closed his transformed eye, he was unable to see the auras that correlated with Railgun's and Accelerator's Esper Abilities.

"Do you have any idea what's up with your eye." Yuri asked.

"I don't totally understand it, but I think so." Touma admitted, "This is pretty new to me too, but I think this eye of mine lets me see supernatural phenomena. The glowing you two are doing? I can only see it through this eye, and the intensity of the glow correlates to how much you use your Esper Abilities."

"So, what, you can see AIM Diffusion Fields?" Mikoto deduced.

"Yes and no. I think it's more than that." Touma replied, "It's just a theory, but I think I've been subconsciously transforming my eye to track down all manner of supernatural phenomena. Not just scientific Esper Abilities, but Magic as well. When I lost Esther in Academy City, I saw a ribbon of rainbow light in the sky that lead me straight to her, where I found her performing a Magic ritual. When I tracked down Orsola after she was kidnapped, I identified the church complex she was kept in based on the normally invisible Magic barrier surrounding it."

"If that's the case, you think this eye of yours can help us track down Musujime?" Mikoto suggested.

"I think so!" Touma cheered as he looked down the path the trio had recently taken, "From what I can tell, Espers like you guys leave behind a trail of AIM that I can trace! If we go back to the construction site, I may be able to pick up on a trail Musujime left when she teleported!"

"Then what the hell are we standing around for?" Accelerator rallied, "Let's move our asses back to the construction site before your eye transforms back to normal!"

Now that they final had a solid lead, the trio quickly turned tail back to their previous battlefield.

"That is why you collaborated with an outside organization," Kuroko deduced now that she fully understood Musujime's motives.

"Correct," Musujime confirmed, "Possessing the Remnant is more than half the battle, but I can't restore it on my own. Thus, I collaborated with the Science Society, a partner that could provide both technical skill and intelligence in restoring Tree Diagram. But right now, I'm curious about you."

From her standing vantage point, Musujime looked down straight into the eyes of the pinned down Kuroko.

"There's something personal I want to ask you. How did it feel when you first used your Ability?" Musujime inquired.

"To be honest, I was actually afraid. To have such power was the scariest thing I've ever experienced. Why does it have to be me? Why does it have to be a person at all? Are humans really the best candidates to be in possession of Abilities? The Science Society has the same concerns and hesitations. Like me, the curse their own abilities and are also seeking answers. We're all working together for a common cause. That's why they were willing to act as my shield."

Musujime walked closer to Kuroko, kneeling down to close the gap between them.

"You know what I'm talking about, don't you? That sickening feeling when you used your Ability and ended up hurting somebody?" the older Teleporter continued, "You aren't alone in that. In fact, I suspect we're a lot alike. So, what do you say then? You want to work together with me to find the truth? We'd love to have you. You can be a part of something truly revolutionary."

"Sorry, I have to decline." Kuroko spat, much to Musujime's confusion, "Did you really think you were going to win me over with a self-pitying, self-involved monologue and a lame attempt at bonding? You seem to have forgotten who exactly I associate with. All you've proven is that you like to hear yourself talk."

"Don't you understand? The powers we, Espers possess make us akin to mutant monsters!" Musujime stressed, cupping Kuroko's face with both hands, "These Abilities are too dangerous to—"

"That's absurd!" Kuroko cut her delusional counterpart off, "An Ability is merely a tool. It does as the user choses. Be it to kill others or to help them. How foolish do you have to be to not realize that?"

Faced with the realization that her opponent was a delusional fool, Kuroko found herself invigorated with new strength, enough to power through the pain and left the tables off of herself through brute force. As she did so, Musujime got back on her feet, backing away slowly in fear.

"Don't… don't you understand yet? If things other than humans can use Abilities, we don't need to have such dangerous tools in the first place— "

"So what if we do find it? What change it would bring us when we're already Espers, IDIOT!"

"You're scared of your Ability because you don't want it to hurt others? You have so totally missed the point." Kuroko laughed, "Whether you have power or not, that doesn't change the fact that you, Musujime, is someone that hurts other people! You make me sick to my stomach! Acting like a victim, pretending to be afraid of your own Ability?! Do you think the lives of Sissy and I are smooth-sailing because of these powers? Do you even realize the lengths we pulled through in order to help people without turning things into a bloody mess to the point she put herself into danger? Do you even realize that even now SHE'S TRYING TO SAVE YOU TOO!"

Blood continues to gush from Kuroko's wounds, staining her clothes and her body.


So what?

Kuroko's expression was saying: even without powers, I can beat you.


Recalling her ODD to her hand, Kuroko shifted her weapon into staff mode. However, although she was powering through the pain, she could not do so to the degree that she could still fight a peak performance. As a result, rather than wield the weapon with any sort of refined form, Kuroko instead dragged her ODD across the floor as if brandishing a club. All the while, Musujime was quaking in her boots, fearfully stepping back as Kuroko dragged her weapon across the floor.

Kuroko was a terrifying person.

It didn't matter whether she had powers or not. Regardless, as a person, Kuroko was terrifying at that moment.

Letting out a useless scream, Kuroko charged at Musujime with all her remaining strength. In a moment of terror, Musujime responded in a manner that some would say escalated quickly. Desperate to avoid the oncoming thrashing, the elder Esper pulled out a pistol, and with unsteady hands, fired.

Having effectively shoot the gun from the hip in a less than sound mental state, Musujime's aim was far from perfect. However, it was accurate enough to hit Kuroko in her left side, wounding her gravely. The influx of pain caused Kuroko to lose her grip on her ODD, sending the weapon flying and crashing through a glass wall window. When Kuroko hit the ground, she also dropped one of Mikoto's many arcade tokens that she happened to have on her. The coin rolled across the floor with a miniscule ring before falling out of the broken window and down to the street below.

The restaurant fell into silence as Kuroko laid on the floor, bleeding out. All the while, Musujime looked on in shock at what had transpired.

Touma, Mikoto, and Yuri returned to the construction site where they last encountered Musujime. By the time they got there, all of the cannon fodder the trio had previously deposed had vacated the area, leave no visible trace of the previous battle.

At least, there was no visible trace of the previous battle that could be seen with a naked, normal eye. With his transformed eye, Touma could see various traces of supernatural phenomena that had transpired in the area recently. Most prominently among the trails he saw were numerous wisps of electric blue, mixed in with several wisps of magenta.

"Find anything?" Mikoto asked impatiently.

"Give me a minute. There are a lot of trails to sort through." Touma explained, "Unfortunately, the previous battle left behind a lot of residue, especially left by you, Zapper. It's like trying to untangle a really bad shoelace knot."

"Please, hurry! There's no telling how far ahead Musujime has gotten at this point!" the Railgun begged.

"Damn, you are insufferable!" Accelerator growled.

"Well, sorry for being concerned for the safety of my little sisters!" Mikoto snarked.

"Let me ask you something. You've known Touma for a while now, right?" Yuri suddenly asked.

"So what if I have? What does that have anything to do with this?" Mikoto fired back, confused by the impromptu question.

"Then you should know by now that when Touma has a mission, he's going to do everything he can to see it through to the end." Accelerator replied, "Nothing short of death is going to stop him from accomplishing what he sets out to do. If you know him well enough to fall in love with him, you should know that much. So be patient and have a little faith in him."

Although she was embarrassed by having once again been reminded of how obvious her affections were, Mikoto understood that Accelerator was speaking the truth. When faced with insurmountable odds, Touma had a way of pulling out a miracle and creating the outcome he desires for everyone, no matter how much his misfortune works against him. He did so when he first stopped Project Level 6 Shift, he has done some multiple other times, and he will do so yet again. All she had to do was help out however she can while Touma brings about a miracle.

After a bit of analysis, Touma was able to deduce that the magenta lights he was seeing correlated with applications of a teleporter-type Ability. Noticing a dense sphere of magenta light where Musujime had perched herself during their previous encounter, Touma deduced that that particular trail correlated to Musujime herself. In addition, there was a long, wisping trail of magenta light originating from that spot, leading down the street to a building a few blocks away.

Touma had found Musujime's trail.

However, before the Level 0 could celebrate, he noticed that there was a second trail of light closely following Musujime's trail. This second trail was also for a teleporter-type Ability, but it was a different shade of magenta and was jagged instead of long and flowing, suggesting the Teleporter made several consecutive jumps as opposed to a singular long one. Following the second trail backwards, Touma realized that the Teleporter the trail belonged to had previously stopped just outside of the construction site and had come from the direction of Mikoto and Kuroko's dorm building.

"Rotten luck!" Touma cried, much to the shock of his compatriots.

"What? What's wrong?" Mikoto asked in concern.

"I've got good news and bad news. The good news is I found Musujime's trail. The bad news is it looks like Shirai found it before us and went to confront Musujime herself!" Touma revealed, much to his friend's frustration.

"That idiot!" Mikoto growled.

"After the way their last fight went down, I doubt little miss Judgement officer is going to fare any better this time." Accelerator deduced.

"Then we better get moving!" Touma declared, taking the lead. "Follow me! Let's go!"

Looking at the scene around her, Musujime felt her knees grow weak and her breath grow heavy. Her attempts to stay on her feet ultimately failed as she collapsed on her knees, desperately trying to come to grips with what she had done. No matter what she wanted to believe, the fact of the matter was that Kuroko was absolutely right about her. Her powers did not make her a danger to other people, she herself was the danger. That much was proven when she gunned down Kuroko.

Her powers did not make her a monster.

Musujime was already a monster.

She was always a monster.

As Musujime's world view came crumbling around her, so did her control of her Ability. Unable to focus her power and keep it in check, Musujime watched in horror as she teleported various objects from around the restaurant, seemingly at random. These objects swirled through the air in a psychic storm with her at the epicenter, shattering the remaining windows. When the storm subsided, all the objects that were picked up in it came crashing down, thankfully not injuring anyone more than they already were. Unfortunately, both Teleporters had already suffered great physical and mental trauma, pushing both of them to the brink.

"I'll kill you." Musujime declared in a low, venomous voice as she picked herself up off the floor, "I normally wouldn't have cracked like that, but you forced me to. This is all your fault! If it weren't for you, I could have been somebody!"

Having come to accept that she was an irredeemable monster, Musujime teleported her gun into her hand, intent of finishing what she had started. However, she quickly realized that during the time she had lost control of her Ability, she had accidentally wedged a spoon in the gun's barrel, rendering it useless. Despite that, Musujime let out a crazed laugh as she tossed aside the defunct weapon, almost finding her own self-inflicted misfortune humorous.

"My Move Point can relocate a maximum of 4520 kilograms! I can hit this place, even from far away!" Musujime explained to the bleeding out Kuroko spitefully, "This whole building will be destroyed, and I doubt you'll fare any better!"

"H-hang on. Don't you need the contents of that case for your evil plan?" Kuroko asked weakly.

Not appreciating the reminded of how twisted of a person she really was, Musujime delivered a hateful kick to Kuroko's gut.

"I'm going to destroy you! Because you're the one who destroyed me!" Musujime promised as she continued to kick Kuroko while she was down, "I'm going to pay you back in full for that!"

Once Kuroko started coughing from the repeated kicks to the stomach, Musujime decided she had administered enough direct punishment. Satisfied with letting her victim to be crushed by over 4520 kilograms of rubble, Musujime grabbed the Remnant and teleported away, leaving Kuroko to her fate.

Given how time was of the essence and how one of their number needed a crutch, Touma, Mikoto, and Yuri need a way to get around that was fast and not be impeded by the top Esper's inability to run without draining his very limited battery. Thus, Yuri took to riding shotgun with Touma on the latter's hoverboard while Mikoto used magnetism to essentially jet ski behind them. This allowed the Level 5s to keep pace with Touma and follow his lead, as he was the only one who could see the trail they were following.

Shortly after leaving the construction site, Touma managed to find the end of the twin Teleporter trails. However, the scene the trio found at the end of said trails was less than encouraging. The trails of magenta light lead up to a restaurant several floors up a skyscraper, one which had a window smashed open. When they arrived, the rest of the windows of that floor were suddenly shattered. The streets below the restaurant were littered with shattered glass, but most concerning of all was what was found among the shards of glass.

"Oh no." Touma bemoaned as he picked up a metal rod much like the one he carried with him, "This is Shirai's ODD."

"And one of my coins too." Mikoto pointed out, picking up the accompanying discarded coin.

"So, they're up there, huh?" Accelerator deduced, looking up at the floor with the broken windows.

Looking up at said floor, Touma saw even more bad news through his transformed right eye. Moments after the trio arrived on the scene, a new ribbon of magenta light snaked out the broken window and shot down the street. A few seconds later, the building from the restaurant floor up was enveloped in a similar magenta light.

"Crap! I think Musujime just fled the scene and is about to teleport a huge payload to crush the building!" Touma deduced, "Not only that, I think Shirai is still inside!"

"What do we?!" Mikoto panicked, "We can't let her get away again! And we can't just leave Kuroko!"

"We'll have to split up!" Touma decided, handing Yuri his hoverboard, "Yuri, take my hoverboard and go after Musujime. Her trail points directly down the street. If you hurry, you should be able to intercept her. Mikoto and I will take care of Shirai."

"Are you sure?" Yuri asked his best friend.

"No time to argue, just go!" Touma stressed.

Recognizing how serious Touma was being, Yuri simply nodded and took the hoverboard, letting the device's systems do the heavy lifting while he rode after Musujime.

With Accelerator taking off to intercept the rogue Esper, Touma turned to Mikoto to save Kuroko.

"Okay, what's the plan?"

"You fire your railgun to graze off the front of the building, I climb up the falling rubble and negate Musujime's teleportation payload before it arrives and destroyed the whole building." Touma explained quickly.

"You really think you can pull that off?" Mikoto asked, uncertain about the feasibility of this plan.

"It's the only way I'm going to negate Musujime's teleportation in time. I have to. For Shirai's sake." Touma declared.

Touma was fully aware of how outlandish his plan was. For this to work, he would have to kick off each chunk of rubble with a force that exceeds the force of gravity on that specific chunk if he wanted to gain any sort of height. It would take superhuman levels of strength to pull off such a feat. In short, it would take a miracle for Touma to pull this off.

But for Kuroko's sake, if a miracle was what it was going to take, then a miracle was what Touma was going to make.

Positioning themselves at the building's left side, Touma crouched down in a runner starting position while Mikoto stretched out her right arm with the recently recovered coin resting on her thumb. With careful precision, Mikoto flipped the coin in the air before firing her signature railgun. The coin flew across the front of the building at Mach 3, grazing off the building's face. The attack destabilized the structure of front wall, causing parts of it crumble.

When the rubble started to fall, Touma took off running.

Kuroko was going to die. Looking at her current situation, that much was certain. She was bleeding out from a gunshot wound, her muscles were too weak to carry her far, and her mind was too unfocused for her to teleport. On top of everything else, Musujime was going to teleport 4520 kilograms on top of her. If she did not die of blood lose, being crushed would certainly do her in. Calling for help on her ODD would do her no favors either, as no one could reach her in time even if she did contact someone. All Kuroko could do was lay down and die feeling sorry for herself for not being able to help the person she admired most.

"Sissy, I'm sorry." Kuroko let out a whisper as what little strength she had left faded.

As if the universe was mocking her, the room began to rumble. The rumbling gradually grew more intense, but no source for the tremors could be clearly decerned. Looking up at the ceiling, Kuroko saw a magenta light start to coalesce above her. It was a telltale sign that Musujime's massive payload was about to arrive.

"Guess this is it…" Kuroko whispered as she let her eyes close for what she thought would be the final time. She smiled while thinking of Mikoto Misaka's name and face. The few memories they had together and how their meeting changed her. How she managed to learn a lot of things from Mikoto.

Mannerism was not about decorating one's self, but to make others comfortable.

Courtesy should be forced on others, but to be used as a guide.

Helping others was not a form of pride, but to listen other people's problem.

Dignity alone could not be used to protect, but it could only be obtained after protecting others.

Mikoto never taught her any of these, but she served as a role model.

After all, there is no one who looked up to her more than Kuroko Shirai.

'If it's Sissy, she wouldn't make this sort of mistake.' Kuroko mocked herself.

However, her eyes immediately snapped open when she heard a sonic boom ring out from outside the building. Less than a second later, something smashed through the outer most section of the floor, leaving behind a brilliant light that Kuroko was all too familiar with.

"That light… Oh no!" Kuroko cried out as she struggled to prop herself up, "Don't, Sissy! You can't come up here! It isn't safe!"

Unfortunately for Kuroko, that statement was more true than she initially realized. Having been destabilized by Mikoto's railgun, the floor underneath Kuroko gave way, dropping the poor girl from several stories up.

"KUROKO!" Mikoto cried out for her friend.

If Kuroko was in any way uncertain about her impending death, she was certain about it now. Hitting the ground as she was now would surely kill her before her blood lose or Musujime's attack did. However, the sight of a certain Level 0 climbing the rubble as it fell turned that certainty on its head.

Upon seeing her patrol partner, Kuroko believed her eyes were playing tricks on her. Not only was Touma accomplishing something outright superhuman, he looked very different than how he normally did. On top of his right eye being changed into something distinctly not human, Touma appeared to have a pair of batlike wings made of kaleidoscopic light protruding from his shoulder blades. These wings looked to be flapping, helping to lift him into the air as he jumped from chunk to chunk before securely catching Kuroko on his left shoulder.

With Kuroko safely secured, Touma turned his attention further upward. Hanging above the floor that Kuroko fell from was a massive sphere of magenta light, one that Touma did not need his transformed right eye to see. Acting on instinct, Touma stretched out his right hand to touch the orb of light. As soon as he made contact, the sound of shattering glass rang out and light disappeared without a trace.

Like always, Touma Kamijou had brought about a miracle.

With Kuroko now safe, Touma readjusted his hold on her so he was carrying her bridal style. As he did so, he right eye returned to normal, as did his perception of the world around him. As he made his way to the build's stairs to safely leave and get Kuroko to a certain hospital, he noticed the girl in his arms start to stir.

"Hey, partner." Touma greeted, smiling down at her.

"… You two really are amazing…" Kuroko whispered weakly as she slipped into unconsciousness.

Musujime was not having a good night. After making her escape and leaving Kuroko to die, she had tried to contact her allies in the Science Society to finalize her delivery of the Remnant. However, all she heard on the other end of the line was gunfire and the holler of a certain Anti-Skill captain as she reprimanded her opponents for "swindling a kid and watching from a safe distance". She had no more allies. She had no back up plan. All Musujime had was a circuit board in a beaten up travel case that equated to a paperweight in her hands.

"What am I supposed to do now?" Musujime asked herself as she dragged the Remnant through the empty streets of Academy City.

"How about giving up and turning yourself in?" A familiar voice called out behind Musujime.

Turning towards the origin of the voice, Musujime saw Accelerator limping towards her looking royally pissed.

"Oh, it's you." Musujime sighed, sounding more annoyed than concerned.

"You're acting rather relaxed for someone in your situation." Accelerator noted, noticing Musujime's various wounds, "Guess that Judgement girl did a real number on you."

"Where are the Railgun and the Certain Strange Addition?" Musujime asked, "Aren't you three supposed to be all buddy-buddy?"

"First of all, I'm only friends with Touma. I don't really care about the Railgun. Second, they're rescuing the Judgement girl you just tried to kill, so she's pretty much guaranteed to be safe now." Accelerator snapped, "And that's bad news for you, because unlike Touma, I'm not going to let you get off easy."

"Really? How do you figure that?" Musujime asked haughtily in a vain attempt to maintain her air of control, "After you got that injury, you lost your ability to calculate and subsequently your power. You're all washed up! I don't have to be afraid of you! You were the weakest link in your little trio when I ran into you last! And on top of that, your aim with a gun is so crappy you couldn't hit the broad side of a barn even if you had a gun to use!"

"You know, I actually feel kind of bad for you." Accelerator sighed, cracking his neck to limber up, "Really. If you actually believe the crap your saying, I'd feel so bad for you I could give you a hug. You're right about some things. Yeah, my aim with a gun is crap and I'll have to work on it. Yeah, I can't calculate like I used to and have to outsource it. I may be weaker now, but my strength is still a far cry compare to yours." A wild grin stretched over Accelerator's face, "You really think I've fallen that far? Huh?!"

Ready to let loose, Accelerator collapsed his crutch and switched his choker to Esper mode. With a tap of his foot, he enhanced the vectors for his footstep's vibrations, amplifying them into a miniature earthquake that fragmented the asphalt, forcing Musujime to teleport herself and the Remnant to higher ground on top of a lamppost. Accelerator followed up with a second enhanced step, this one causing all the windows of the surrounding buildings to shatter and rain down glass.

Musujime once again teleported with the Remnant above the attack to get to safety. However, she was starting to reach her tolerance limit for teleporting herself. The collective stress of teleporting herself in quick succession made Musujime feel queasy, and subsequently vulnerable.

Seeing the opportunity to strike, Accelerator took control of the wind to fashion four tornado wings which lifted him up into the air and clear away the falling glass in his path. In no time at all, he closed the between him and Musujime. With a single enhanced right hook, Accelerator smashed the Remnant in Musujime's hands to pieces, destroying any possibility of Tree Diagram being rebuilt.

"It's all over for you!" Accelerator declared, "Remember what I promised you earlier? I think it's about time I made good on that promise!"

Taking a note from his best friend, Accelerator slugged Musujime in the face with a powerful right hook, further enhanced with his Ability. The unfortunate Teleporter was sent flying into a building on the far end of the street before falling onto a grate on one of the building's lower levels. Overcome with pain and bleeding profusely from her smashed in nose, Musujime passed out where she laid.

When he returned to the ground, Accelerator switched his choker to normal mode and extended his crutch. Satisfied with the result, he turned around back the way he came, intent on meeting up with Touma and Railgun to tell them the good news.

After reconvening, the trio dropped Kuroko off at Heaven Canceller's hospital, confident that the frog-faced doctor would get her back in good health in no time. At the same time, Accelerator filled Touma and Mikoto in on what had gone down when he encountered Musujime by himself. While the pair was relieved to hear that the Remnant was destroyed, along with any chance of Tree Diagram being reconstructed, they were less than pleased to learn that Accelerator simply abandoned his victim in such a sorry state.

Neither Touma nor Mikoto were particularly fond of Musujime, but they had enough compassion to not want to leave someone as injured as she was unattended. While Mikoto was at least tempted to leave Musujime to lick her own wounds, Touma, ever the bleeding heart, made a point to contact the hospital staff and Anti-Skill to make sure paramedics reached the Teleporter in a timely manner.

With the matter of the injured settled, the trio decided to the put things to rest for the time being and reconvene the following day. Thus, Mikoto parted ways with Touma and Yuri as the trio returned to their respective quarters.

Accelerator returned to his new home late that night, only to be greeted with silence. While he was not expecting to have the traditional welcome one would expect from a family member, he at least expected some commotion given that one of the residents of the apartment was Last Order

Regardless, Accelerator decided that the silence did not really matter. It was late, and he would not be surprised if everyone had already gone to bed. Speaking of which, it also occurred to the top ranked that he had tagged along with Touma before Yomikawa could show him his room.

'Guess I'm sleeping on the couch tonight.' Accelerator mused to himself, having elected to sleep on the couch plenty of times when living alone, 'But first, I need a bath.'

Wanting to wash off the dirt and grime of battle, Accelerator made his way to the bathroom to take a bath. However, when he opened the door, he quickly realized that it was presently occupied by every other resident of the apartment. Yomikawa, Yoshikawa, and Last Order were all finishing up with their own bath, but had yet to cover up, giving the high school boy an eyeful.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing, barging into a bathroom without bothering to knock! Misaka Misaka yells, reaching for a towel to preserve her modesty!" Last Order cried with tears in her eyes.

"There's a lock on the door for a reason." Accelerator sighed, feeling annoyed rather that embarrassed or even remotely aroused.

"Yeah, sorry about that." Yomikawa apologized, "I'm used to living by myself, so I don't normally lock the door. I just got back a little while ago from a raid with Anti-Skill and you weren't home yet, so I didn't think to account for that."

"You might want to cover yourself up too." Yoshikawa cut in, offering her friend a towel.

"You don't seem to mind that much that a boy just saw you naked, says Misaka Misaka, overserving your attitudes with confusion." Last Order noted from behind Yoshikawa's leg.

"Hm, I don't really see what there is to make a big deal about." Yoshikawa replied.

"Nudity is natural." Yomikawa agreed, "Then again, we're mature adults."

"Adults? I think you two qualify as old ladies, says Misaka Misaka—" Last Order began to say, only to be cut off when the so-called "old ladies" started delivering parental discipline.

"Next time, just save us all the trouble and lock the door, okay?" Yuri grumbled, "I swear, if Touma's luck is starting to affect the whole building, we better move."

When Touma got home, he was greeted by Shizuri, who was sitting at the coffee table with her laptop in front of her. With how late it was, he expected her to have turned in for the night already.

"Hey Sis, I'm home." Touma greeted.

"Welcome home." Shizuri replied, closing her laptop and standing up to greet her brother, "You didn't tell me you would be home late, so I ordered delivery and left some for you in the fridge. Did something happen?"

Upon being reminded of his promise to keep his sister in the loop, Touma cringed and bit his lower lip.

"Sorry about that." Touma apologized as he checked the refrigerator, "There was so much going on today it completely slipped my mind to tell you."

"Big Judgement case?"

"Yes and no." Touma admitted, sticking a takeout box of yakisoba in the microwave, "My branch got called in to deal with a robbery, but things quickly spiraled out of control when I learned that the stolen merchandise was a working piece of Tree Diagram. Mikoto and Yuri got involved to make sure Tree Diagram couldn't be restored and restart Project Level 6 Shift, and I went off the grid to help them handle the situation off the books."

"Is that all?" Shizuri asked, sitting at the dining table.

"I found out Yuri is transferring to my class starting tomorrow." Touma added, sitting down across from his sister with a box of reheated Yakisoba and a pair of chopsticks.

However, Touma did not immediately start eating. Rather, his hesitation told Shizuri that something was eating at him.

"Are you sure that's everything you want to tell me?" Shizuri asked, not wanting to push her boundaries to far.

After a moment of silence, Touma let out a sigh and put down his chopsticks. He then looked down at his right hand, contemplating his next words before looking at his sister in the eyes.

He had promised his sister that he would be more honest about his engagements with the supernatural, but lately he has not been keeping it. Touma has varnished the truth to make problems seem smaller than they really were, as well as sending messengers to avoid telling her the details himself. It was about time he started being honest.

"Sis," Touma answered, "I think my power is changing."

Special End Card Segment: Trivia Corner

1) Kuroko's line to Musujime regarding the nature of Abilities as tools is a direct reference to a line from Shulk in Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed.

2) Last chapter, several of Touma's moves during his first encounter with Musujime were based off of moves that can performed by the player character in Astral Chain, including the starting stance and the parkour roll.