Summary:SCEPTER 4 has been mobilized, HOMRA has overrun Ashinaka High School.
The end is creeping in, and the stage is setting up for the climax.
"It's time to put our masks back on, only to take them off at the vital moment. You know what's at stake, Munakata Reishi. Don't make me regret this."
Night had finally fallen, and Ashinaka High was cordoned off from the rest of Tokyo.
After leaving the wrecked courtyard, Aneko made her way to the bridge, pick-pocketing a student's PDA to let herself in.
In order to disguise herself, she bought some colored contacts, and a few hair extensions to change her eyes and hair.
It was ages since she was around high school students, and it struck her how old she'd gotten.
Her high school years were well behind her, and it was jarring to know how little free time she had since the war started. How old she had gotten.
The blue haired woman couldn't remember the last time she could laugh freely, outside of battles and spars, and with the burden of a Crown on her brow and a Sword above her head, she had no way to unwind.
Tatara had always been there for her. When HOMRA had to take care of a few gangs that were trying to start something in the middle of the night, or when SCEPTER 4 had to go nearly all hands-on deck in 24-hour surveillance to track down and capture particularly dangerous Strains, the third key member of HOMRA had always had her back.
Especially when her parents were fighting each other, Mika with her gang, and Reishi with his police force. That was one of the things about having parents on the opposite sides of the law.
Even now, she wondered how the two stayed together, her Okaa-san with her reckless decisions, and her Otou-san's numerous plans.
And Anna…The worst torture would be never seeing her Onee-chan again.
No. She wouldn't think that way. She had to get home.
Aneko shook her head, banishing her dark thoughts.
Even if this was the wrong decision, this was a gamble she was willing to take.
Munakata Reishi looked down at the blinking blue light on the map in front of him, the intricacies of Tokyo spread out before him.
Even though Munakata Aneko had left in a bombastic manner, she hadn't discarded the tracker placed on her PDA, which either meant that she'd forgotten (unlikely) or had kept it in on purpose (which was more likely, going off of how he knew her character).
Regardless, whatever plan that the other King was executing had been questionable at best.
The revelation that he had purposely lied to his Clansmen (and that they'd find out that way) had unsettled their trust in him.
Some of his clansmen, Hidaka-kun and Dōmyōji-kun in particular, both had pensive looks on their faces whenever they saw him, often looking away if they noticed him looking at them.
Reviewing the map, his mind went back to the words she had spat at him with venom.
"So that's how you're playing, huh!? Then, let me show you Suoh Mika's daughter, Blue King! No blood. No bone. No ash! Mu-na-ka-ta Rei-shi!"
A knock at the van's door brought him out of his thoughts, the man giving a curt, "Come in."
Awashima was at the other side of the door, sliding it open with ease. "Captain," she greeted, and his violet eyes met her blue.
"Awashima-kun. I surmise you have some questions for me?"
"Y-yes, Captain," the blonde nodded, her spine straightening at attention.
Munakata turned off the holographic map, and he didn't miss how Awashima noticed it.
"The current location of Munakata Aneko? That is correct," he answered, and she looked at him like she couldn't believe it.
"Why does she have a tracker on her?" the lieutenant asked, now casting a gaze of doubt on her Captain.
"Aneko-san had opted to carry a tracker the first day she appeared here," the man answered, "Even a few hours prior, she has kept it in…leading me to believe that she wants us to keep an eye on her."
"But why? Captain, she threw you into a building?" a slightly hysterical tint came to Awashima's voice, ticking upwards, "Why let her freely roam the streets?"
Seri was still unnerved from how her Captain had kept Munakata Aneko's true origins from them, and only found out after Tsubaki-mon's holding building had been nearly demolished with said Captain's body.
She wasn't sure what this woman was playing at, pretending to be an ally, a relative, while actually being a dimension traveler all together. To see her remove the mask of friendliness was a cold splash of dread.
Even without summoning a Sword of Damocles, the foreign King deflected the Red King's attack so easily, not to mention the one sided fight between her and the other escapee...
"Truthfully, Aneko-san isn't our enemy. Not entirely," Munakata replied, his violet eyes meeting his lieutenant's blue, "There is more afoot than a wayward Blue King. The perpetrator of Totsuka-san's attack is still at large. While there is the concern that she will antagonize the Red Clan, she has no obvious intention of harming them permanently."
"The Red King deduced that Aneko-san had been the one to save HOMRA's third," Awashima recalled how Suoh drawled that suspicion, and the woman's admission.
"She was," Munakata nodded, putting his tablet aside, "Aneko-san had returned to Tsubaki-mon that night to report. And the rest…you're aware of."
"The notice of a relative," the blonde repeated what they were both thinking, crossing her arms. She shifted awkwardly on her feet, a worried frown coming to her face.
Munakata's mind wandered once again, this time bringing up how Aneko had tossed herself on an armchair, her bangs flopping in front of her eyes as her hands shook, from what he had recognized as signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
That assessment also pointed out other characteristics, such as her unfocused, dissociating red eyes looking down listlessly at her pale hands, her ragged breathing both from panic and from running, and the trembling of her shoulders. Puffy red eyes the result of relentless tears and damp spots that darkened the edges of her sleeves.
Her whole body was vibrating, barely holding herself together.
And then, the proclamation of running towards her problems, not away from them, and the stiffening of her stance when he asked if she was being a coward. The anger that shone through crimson eyes, lips pulling back in a snarl.
The map beeped, and then the King's PDA vibrated.
'It's time to put our masks back on, only to take them off at the vital moment. You know what's at stake, Munakata Reishi. Don't make me regret this.'
Reading the message, Munakata's lips turned down, before it smoothed out.
"Awashima-kun," he said, and Seri snapped to attention.
"Alert your fellow clansmen that if they come across the Blue King Munakata Aneko is not to be disturbed. Engaging in combat with this individual would only spell disaster."
The blonde could only verbally agree, allowing her King to retreat back into his musings.
Aneko hid in an empty classroom, the footsteps of HOMRA members wandering through the building echoing in the otherwise silent hallways.
She wasn't sure if the Colorless King was setting up his explosives yet, though, it would be difficult to track him in this huge campus.
Undoubtedly, he could overtake anyone's consciousness, except the stronger members of HOMRA and SCEPTER 4. However, with the large amount of weapons that the Colorless King had initially stolen before attacking Tatara, the caches could be anywhere on the island.
Peeking out the window, she could spot a small field of red aura in the darkness of the night, the moon casting its silvery gaze down at the humans below serenely.
This whole situation was a mess. Aneko had to figure out a way to convince the Red Clan to stand down, and for the Blue Clan to call a retreat.
In her own world, Otou-san allowed her to stake out the island, even though he worried about her state of mind, after finding…
That was the past, though, and in her own world, no less.
She had no allies here, only enemies. Before Munakata pulled that stunt with Tatara, he was the only person she could tentatively call an ally.
This train of thought was going nowhere.
Aneko would have to act more when the sun came up, and until then, there was nothing to do than plan and sleep.
The red eyed woman curled into a ball, her jacket the only thing protecting her from the winter winds that wailed outside, seeping through the window.
So much like the howling in her own ears, a sound that never stopped, not since she swore to uphold the oath to be the Blue King. To be someone who did what was right and stuck to their decisions. To bring order, because…
"For our cause is pure," she mumbled, the words impossibly loud to her own ears.
With the morning came snow.
Drifting white snowflakes fell from the sky, the serene pass of a gentle wind blowing them out of their course.
In Ashinaka Station, students milled about, worrying glances made towards the screens that had video overlooking the main campus.
The hooligans that had overtaken the school were wandering around the main courtyard, some of them jokingly tussling with the other members dressed in varying degrees of light clothing.
"How long is this stalemate going to last?" Fushimi asked no one, some of his fellow clansmen pausing to give him a quick glance. The black-haired young man's arms were crossed tightly around his chest, glaring at the screen in front of him.
"The Red Clan is being really ballsy," complained Dōmyōji, "Doing this in broad daylight yesterday? Yesh, I haven't pulled these many all-nighters since that raid on those four Level Four Beta Class Strains."
"Stop complaining, Andy," Kamo sighed, "Geeze, you're like a kid…"
"Hey! I'm like, one year younger than you, remember!? Ouch!" The ginger grimaced when the swat from Fushimi glanced off his head.
"You also remind me of your nonsensical, illegible reports," Fushimi scowled, before his attention was drawn to the fluctuating lines on the computer's graph.
"The Weismann levels are rising over the island," blue eyes darted over the spiking rise in the readings, "The wavelength matches the aura of other Blue King…"
His fellow clansmen fell silent, Dōmyōji and Kamo sharing hesitant glances.
None of them wanted to broach the topic of how their King had hidden the existence of another, future Blue King from them. Honestly, what were they expecting? It's an unspoken observation that Munakata-san kept a lot of cards close to his chest. Not to mention, the whole 'cousin' shtick was really believable, since they had the same hair and build. Dimensional time travel would've been a huge leap.
After a few hours of sitting on it, it wasn't really surprising that the woman would lie to them. Still, any warning would've been nice.
How much of her words were the truth, and what was a carefully constructed lie?
The sun rose, casting its light upon the snow decorating the courtyard of Ashinaka High.
Aneko stood on one of the school building's roofs, the wind whipping her bangs around her face.
"Today's the day," she hummed, the cold gusts stealing her breath away, "The end is here, Colorless King."