Special thanks to: A crack shipping guy, who inspired me to write it.

Special thanks to all my readership who took time out of their busy schedules to read and review this work of mine...

Hope you'll all enjoy it...

Monogatari o hajimemashou...


When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

(1 Corinthians 13: 11-12)

How long has this been going on?

What reason is there for me to be here?

Just who am I? …Where did this consciousness come from?

The spiral staircase below seemed to descend into infinity.

These feet continue to move as if they belong to someone else.

No. Whose feet are these in the first place?

Just where is all this light coming from? Can any of these answers even be known?

A dim world. Vast, yet confined.

A spiral path descending all the way into Nothingness.

No perception of time. Suddenly, an idea…

A wrist. A wristwatch. A chronograph.

Its complex watch face displays a certain time.

4:02 AM. No wonder it's dark.

Taking a quick look above reveals…

The same sight you'd see from the bottom of a well. A circular fragment of the night sky.

The vortex of the staircase continues up to the sky, where a crimson moon lies.

Dyed vermilion, as if stained in blood.

A total lunar eclipse…

Feels like it's always been a lunar eclipse, come to think of it.

This body is suddenly assaulted with loneliness and despair.

A nostalgic migraine. Pain… proof of this body's existence.

Despite disorientation and inability to feel this body…

The pain eliminates all doubts that it exists here.

Apparently, these feet have chosen to continue descending the staircase.

The path stretches infinitely, devoured by the darkness of forever.

The deep, deep bottom of this pale blue moonlit abyss forms the shape of a mortar.

And yet, there's no sensation of actually walking.

Merely the sound of footsteps going down, down, down.

This feeling of descent is more like that of a jellyfish, or a dolphin swimming to the depths of the sea.

In the end, just how far down does it go…

It's like an endless illusion.

No, perhaps this really is an illusion?

An arabesque pattern is engraved on the wall, reminiscent of a Mobius strip.

An alluring sensation, like following a bait into an impending trap of alien space-time.

…Oozing terror seizes this body.

And…

As soon as I feel that…

The sound of feet stepping firmly onto a wide, flat surface can be heard.

Did I reach the bottom? Of what seemed like a staircase that stretched infinitely both ways?

Very curious, indeed.

A brief moment of relief, nevertheless.

Pitch black. Vision limited to arms-length.

Nothing else is visible. Not the staircase, nor the wall that had curved alongside it.

It was a room. But just how far does this go…?

Slowly, feet fumble forward.

Arms swing for direction. Hands grasp at air…

But these hands, these arms, these feet… do they even exist?

Or have they faded like a ghostly phantom?

No, at least. The wristwatch remains.

The instrument meant to measure the passage of time.

It was something that certainly existed, surely.

Right then…

These fingertips come into contact with something…

Something firm. Something smooth. And yet cool to the touch.

A slick texture. Seems to be glass.

The right-hand glides smoothly, somehow lighting a small fire.

A gradual approach to peer into the glass results in…

"…!" (?)

A desire to scream.

An inability to vocalize. As if this body lacked vocal cords.

Turn around. Get out of here now. Don't look.

But these eyes are wide open and cannot be shut.

They keep watching, as if my entire being had become a gazing eye.

The life-sized mirror reflects something.

The visage of an unexpected "certain someone".

That someone being…

A boy who left behind his innocence.

With that… everything changed.

Surroundings. Time. Space. The World, itself.

The darkness is absolute. Pitch black in every direction.

My restless mind is slow to focus. Finally, my senses begin to sharpen.

Even though I can't see anything, it feels like I'm looking over everything.

I have become nothing more than a viewpoint.

Then, a pinprick of light dimly fades into view out of the nothingness in front of me.

It's soon joined by countless other small sparkling lights.

Stars?

Once, it was said that the stars and the galaxies spread throughout the heavens were the gods, or at least their dwelling place.

If that's the case, then this, I'm sure, might be the viewpoint of such a being.

Stories I once read come to mind in rapid succession.

"Hikaboshi and Orihime" and "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter", "Le Petit Prince" and "Night on the Galactic Railroad"

Why do those stories told under the stars' light always harbor such tinges of sadness?

Why must such tales conclude in such heart-wrenching tragedy?

Just then, the swath of stars begin to pulse, and starts to group together like constellations. Which means that…

Those weren't stars?

They branch out into dendroid colonies before my eyes. Their once nostalgic twinkling starting to resemble more the throbbing pulse of organic life.

This is precision equipment… no, maybe the flashes of neurons?

No. I realize my misconception in almost no time flat.

The true nature of the lights is…

A sprawling metropolis in the dead of the night.

The skyscrapers' neon lights brightly cut through the darkness.

Cars fly down the Metropolitan Expressway like high-speed steel fireflies.

A perfect diorama of the sleepless megalopolis worthy of Daedalus himself.

If this is reality, then I must be looking down at the city from a very high altitude.

If so, what does that mean?

The moon is high in the night sky.

Normally, its form would be that of a perfect circle.

Normally…

Before my eyes, that divine circle begins to wane.

It's like a giant wheel of cheese, and an even bigger rat just took a bite out of it.

A total lunar eclipse.

The Earth's one and only satellite is being completely consumed by the planet's shadow. Its usual white luster is lost, and is replaced with a wondrous brown radiance.

A crimson moon.

At the same time it appears —

The city descends into darkness.

And I—

"UWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" (?)

I fall towards the riverbed below without a lifeline. It's a plunging feeling so horrible that I'd rather die than experience it again.

My mind is blown past the limits of comprehension and straight into the realm of panic.

I can no longer hear my screams.

No, am I really screaming at all?

I can't feel my body, mouth, or ears.

The world is wrapped up in the thunderous roar of silence.

The shining moonlit darkness is thoroughly burned into the depths of my eyes.

My whole body, which shouldn't exist, is dismembered my numbness.

I'm nothingness incarnate, an imaginary number whose existence is forbidden.

Stranded between time and space, I just scream out of loneliness. But I know that this voice… won't reach anyone.


"Ughhh." (?)

Where am I? Wasn't I just falling?

Just what was I, and what was I trying to do?

And just what was going on with the worl—

"Owwww…." (?)

My heart palpitates in my chest. I feel nauseous.

My whole body is drenched with sweat. The feeling only makes me feel sicker.

The sensation of the sheets… are they really here?

Is the one touching them really me?

If that's the case… then I'm alive today as well.

Today as well? The fact that I can say that means…

"Whew." (?)

It's morning.

I'm greeted by the usual, familiar scenery that hasn't changed at all.

This is my bedroom in my house.

That loud ringing isn't an ambulance's siren, but my alarm clock.

The time is 10 minutes to 7 AM.

"Was that a dream…?" (?)

It hurts to breathe. I'm panting like I just ran a hundred-meter dash.

I might have screamed the moment I woke up.

"Mmm…." (?)

My mind can clearly recall the memory of me having "a bad dream". But as for what kind of dream it was specifically… I can't remember a thing.

All I know is that it was a dreadful, sad, and hopeless vision. Just how long has it been since a nightmare had made me scream like that…?

When I was a kid, stuff like that would happen all the time. Someone would have a terrifying dream, wake up while crying, and then would immediately run over to me as I stroked their head while comforting them.

Just who was that…?

It doesn't matter who it was, does it?

I'm already a high-school student. An adult. I should be completely over such an effeminate thing.

I take several deep breaths to try to calm myself.

I feel my memories and sense of reality returning little by little.

Even so, I can't help but feel that everything surrounding me seems hollow.

It's like the sensation of seeing the world through a sheer veil. Or the sensation of watching the affairs of some foreign nation through a monitor.

I'm a step removed from all of that.

I open the curtains and the morning sunlight pierces through the window.

It's the gentle spring rays of late April sunlight.

I get out of bed, and slowly stretch.

At the tip of my outstretched hand is my alarm clock.

I stop the ear-grating beeping as if I'm strangling a small animal to death.

Just then, the date on the alarm clock catches my eye.

2032/ Apr/ 26 (MON)

Today's just the starting of another day of boring school life.

"Good morning, everyone. Today is Monday, April 26th. This is 7:00 morning news." (TV Announcer)

When I come down to the living room, I find someone unexpected.

"Earlier this morning, starting from 12:12 AM, virtually every computer and electronics in the urban districts went silent for approximately a minute and half. The effects of this abnormal event, whose cause remains unknown, lasted anywhere between several minutes to an hour afterwards. Experts have stated that the phenomenon wasn't caused by any known esper power, and as such the cause of the blackout remains unclear." (TV Announcer)

A middle-aged woman glances at me, her golden starry eyes meeting mine, as she fixes her tie.

"Oh. Ren. You're up early today." (?)

"Mom…" (Ren)

Although I'm standing stock still, my voice comes out naturally.

Yes, my name is Mitsubachi Ren.

This woman is my mother, Mitsubachi Misaki.

"Many servers shut down, and so as a result, networks from all over the region experienced outages. Due to the extremely high number of connected devices in Paimont City, the Internet and everything connected to it temporarily fell into chaos." (TV Announcer)

My mom's gaze is completely engulfed by the gaudy news title on-screen: "Last night's widespread disaster: A new form of cyber-terrorism?!"

"Telecom networks collapsed under the flood of inquiries from those on their smartphones. Power plants and car auto-navigation systems were also hard hit, causing rolling blackouts and widespread transportation difficulties." (TV Announcer)

All the news related to those incidents flows gently out of their talking heads. Nowadays, nano-computers are widespread and are readily available at all times.

But even now, in this society where it is normal for computers to be used independently in every facet of our daily lives, the AIM Cloud still plays a very crucial role.

"The blackouts caused lengthy delays, trapping residents taking the train home for up to half an hour. There were too many problems with the electronic systems to count, among them multiple fires, temporary loss of abilities, and car crashes." (TV Announcer)

"Mmm…" (Misaki)

"Even now, reports of those injured continue to flow in one after the other, the numbers are now expected to exceed one hundred. There are also three confirmed dead…" (TV Announcer)

The names and ages of the deceased begin to slide down the screen as subtitles.

But it's only a list of letters and numbers.

They don't even feel real.

They're just some other people's affairs.

"Because this incident involved unprecedented AIM Cloud outages, the situation shook Cloud authorities, but because the malfunctions themselves only lasted for a very short time… Currently, with the exception of a small collection of AIM hubs, almost the entire system has been restored to normalcy." (TV Announcer)

"…." (Misaki)

My mom picks up a cup sitting on the table, and slowly gulps its contents down.

"Despite the clear lack of evidence regarding the use of any regular esper abilities, or the fact that no one has claimed any responsibilities yet, it is still rumored that the infamous cyber-terrorist group {SILVER}, which had been making a stir in the society in the recent years, had a part in it." (TV Announcer)

Rather than the morning news, the report sounds more like something you'd hear in an afternoon talk show. Since the cause of all this is still unknown, it just feels like nothing more than a show spouting wild speculations.

"Though the black-hat group {SILVER} has boldly and repeatedly hacked various public institutions, facilities, and corporations, not a single one of them has been arrested." (TV Announcer)

Because the true nature of their goals remains unknown, the group's cultivated more mystique than it deserves. So for the press, they are perfect subject matter to attract viewers' interest.

You could say that it's only natural that such a mysterious group could be related to bizarre incidents like this one.

"Both Judgement and the Anti-Skill believe that this possibility has weight to it, and so they are beginning to conduct and investigation. We hope that they can uncover the full picture as soon as possible for the sake of our future." (TV Announcer)

It seems Mom has finished drinking her coffee, as she places her cup in a bowl overflowing with water. After that, she immediately puts on a cheap business suit that's hanging from a clothes hanger. Her attire now looks completely befitting a salarywoman that she is.

"Well then, I'll be going now." (Misaki)

"Right…." (Ren)

Mom picks up a plain, silver watch from the living room table, and fastens it around her left wrist.

It's an AIM powered watch that displayed a variety of details. I'm pretty sure Mom said that it was supplied to her by her company. It might be a "handcuff" of sorts that binds Mom to her job.

"Ren?" (Misaki)

Just before she leaves the room, Mom turns around and calls out to me.

In spite of the fact that it's morning, her tired, despondent golden eyes are trying to search for something within me.

"Yeah…?" (Ren)

In order to mask everything, I stifle my emotions, and answer in a smooth, robotic voice.

"Umm… how's school going?" (Misaki)

What's her ulterior motive in asking that?

She's definitely probing for something with it. But all it comes off as is— extremely annoying.

"Normal. There's no problems, and I'm doing well." (Ren)

"I-I see…" (Misaki)

Her voice is full of disappointment for some reason. Perhaps, she expected a warmer answer…

I quickly begin to append my statement.

"Yes, there's no need to worry about me, Mom." (Ren)

"You're right." (Misaki)

Mom averts her gaze. And then…

"I'll be late tonight. Depending on the circumstances, I might even have to stay over for the night." (Misaki)

Isn't that how it always is?

Though I think that, a different answer comes out of my mouth.

"That's troublesome." (Ren)

"I'll be fine. But…" (Misaki)

I really don't feel like starting my day off with this bothersome scene.

"If you don't hurry, you'll be late." (Ren)

"R-Right." (Misaki)

I can't stand this atmosphere.

"Then as usual, be sure to eat a good dinner. Don't wait up for me to go to sleep." (Misaki)

I would have done that even if you hadn't said anything. That's all I've been doing until now, and all I'll be doing in the future.

"See you later, then." (Misaki)

"….Have a safe trip." (Ren)

*sigh*

Even a short conversation like that saps me of my willpower.

I head for the dining room, which is directly connected to the living room.

In it is a table that seats 4 people. But there's really no one there. They are all vacant seats, including my own.

I never knew about who my Dad was. I never met him, or even seen his photo once. Mom refuses to talk to me about it.

All I know is Mom once deeply loved him, and in her own weird way- still refuses to let his memory go.

But whatever, while it seems to be a touchy issue for her, unlike what people think, I couldn't possibly care less about the identity of a Dad who never showed his face to us.

He is just another stranger for all we care...

Perhaps I ought to be more thankful to Mom for her efforts in raising us, despite her being a single mother.

It has always been difficult between us. Society isn't exactly kind to us. As fellow Level 0s I can relate to her. But, despite that, I still feel there's an impregnable wall between us and her. The kind that shouldn't exist in a family.

It is impossible for me to break a decade long of ice by just myself alone. Perhaps, it's the same for Mom too.

Either way, here we are: living like two strangers in the same home.

Perhaps, one day… there will be a difference.

But that wasn't today… I'm sure.

Speaking of which… a seat for a Dad that I never knew, and a seat for Mom: that's two seats down.

The third seat is for…

My eyes turn to the inner room's door.

"…." (Ren)

My eyes seem to be hoping that a certain someone will come out of that room, even though I know that's impossible.

"Whew…" (Ren)

To the current me, that seat is a meaningless, wide empty space.

The day that all of us gather to eat here will be the day pigs fly.

Because ever since that time, everything' changed.

I eat some cereal and yogurt.

It has no taste. But as long as it gives me the minimum amount of nutrition I need, it's fine.

There's no other meaning to eating other than replenishing energy, after all.

That's what I thought from the start.

It feels like my existence here is some kind of mistake, like I come from another world and need to keep this body alive until I can get back.

It sure as hell feels that way.

Like I'm a disguised alien spy from another planet that no one understands.

I'm sure if you peel of this skin, you'd find my surprising true form hidden behind it.

That delusion grows more and more extravagant with each passing day.

Yes. It's been two years since that time. That event was what caused everything to go amiss…

"Just what do you think happened at the height of the incident~?" (Cheery Female TV Announcer)

As I'm changing into my school uniform, I unconsciously shift my gaze to the TV.

I'd forgotten that Mom never turned it off.

Just as I think I should try changing the channel…

"Tada~! Take a look at this! This was taken at 12:12 AM last night— the moon at the height of the lunar eclipse." (Cheery Female TV Announcer)

"Ugh!" (Ren)

All of a sudden, nausea and headache descend upon me.

I can't stand.

"It's been approximately three years since our Japanese Confederacy last saw a total lunar eclipse. We were able to observe the entire length of this rare eclipse~." (Cheery Female TV Announcer)

That nails-on-chalkboard voice is only making my headaches worse and worse.

"In the past, eclipses sparked uproars in the masses, as they seemed to be abrupt, unusual phenomenon. But this time, it seems it brought abnormalities on the AIM Cloud~. Well, I guess we don't know if there's a causal relationship between them~" (Cheery Female TV Announcer)

I reach my hand out for the remote…

"Khhhh…. *gasping for air*" (Ren)

"Nowadays, with the complex computations of the Saros Cycle now possible using the Tree Diagram V.3.0, we can predict the arrival of each occurrence of this celestial event several years out. The next lunar eclipse will be this year, on October—" (Cheery TV Announcer)

*click*

A migraine strikes my right temple.

Ever since she vanished, everything's gone to hell for me. On the outside, I may seem like I've gotten considerably accustomed to it, but it seems that's not the case at all.

"Whew…" (Ren)

The incidents on the AIM Cloud.

The timing matches with the lunar eclipse.

Cyberterrorism.

So what's changed? No matter how much they make a fuss out of it, in the end, it's just an event occurring on the other side of the monitor. It's not important at all.

"Today, the whole city in general is in for a day of clear weather, with 0% chance of precipitation. There's no need to worry about rain." (Forecaster)

"Looks like I won't be needing an umbrella." (Ren)

That announcement from the Paimont City's blimp— is the only piece of important information I need this morning.

Shokuchou: a quiet, clean and orderly new residential area in District 31. The block-y architecture infuses the area with an unnatural calm, removed from the annoyances of reality.

We know nothing about the 20th century that adults are so nostalgic about. And almost 1/3rd of the 21st century has passed.

Even so, the scenery of those futuristic cyber-cities seen in old sci-fi movies are still nowhere to be seen.

There are no roads enveloped in tubes, and buildings look pretty much the same as they did 30 years ago. If anything, all things "retro" have come back in style.

Bicycles continue to be propelled across the ground by their spinning rubber tires. And not even the proposals for implementing maglev trains are looking too good.

Space travel is still just a dream. Aside from some odd annual lunar excursions— which only select astronauts and a few VVIPs get to enjoy, we can't even get to the Moon feasibly.

But if we're talking about the things that has changed, then there would be would be those two things…

Esper Abilities.

With the great advancement in the Power Curriculum Program, even normal citizens can have abilities of their choosing.

A formal system was established for the strict regulation of the espers and how they are supposed to utilize their power.

But one thing is certain— in our world, Power isn't a right, but rather a privilege— kinda like driving. So, if you abuse it: the city that helped you give birth to your abilities, it can also take them back.

That's simply how it is. Though, there seems to be some certain exceptions to this rule.

Like the espers that are the government itself.

Like how ENTROPY's family can practically run the Great Asian Empire.

Or how the HERO_KING rules "A Really Amazing Gutsy Continent", that's basically the olden continent of South America.

Power is everything, and there's absolutely nothing more powerful than a Level 6, it seems.

But for us Level 0s and 1s… we have to abide the rules, as do Level 3s and 4s.

That's the first thing that's definitely changed.

Speaking of the second thing…

It is Networks.

I don't know about home computers, but even a microchip built into our cellphones rival the abilities of a commercial workstation decades ago.

But what takes the cherry on the cake is that— by the integration of AIM Cloud's auto-computational capabilities of Personal Realities, even a Level 0 can exhibit significant power by the virtue of borrowing brain calculational power.

Infrastructure for high-speed AIM computing and endless content pervades our daily lives as if it were natural as the air around us— completely escaping our awareness until it suddenly disappears.

Even Shokuchou is managed by a computer network much like the ones in urban centers.

From living necessities like electricity and water to luxuries like consumer electronics and security management.

It is actually harder nowadays to find something that isn't connected to the AIM Cloud.

If you had sufficient access and if you wanted to, you could check up on the status of anything connected to the Cloud with a single command. It's like seeing through the eyes of God. That's how we can peer down on the world through the Cloud.

The world is gradually transmuting into a miniature garden.

Esper abilities are already part of the Cloud, everything neatly cataloged and controlled with exception of the 36 publicly known Level 5s and 6 Level 6s, and before long, I'm sure, even normal humans will become part of it too…"

"Morning, Ren~" (?)

As I walk, lost in these vague thoughts of mine, someone calls out to me from behind.

"You made it here in time today. Well done~ Well done~!" (?)

When I turn around, I'm confronted by the smiling face of Shirai Rinko, my childhood friend. Even though it's so early in the morning, she's in incredibly high spirits.

I can practically feel another headache descending on me.

"…" (Ren)

Of all the times to run into this troublesome girl…

As I'm thinking this…

"C'mon, where's your daily 'good morning'?" (Rinko)

"…" (Ren)

"Are you even awake? Did you eat breakfast?" (Rinko)

"Ah, yeah…" (Ren)

"Mmmmph!" (Rinko)

"Huh? Ow, owowowow… I'm awake. I'm awake! I ate. I ate! …I'm begging you, let go of my ear!" (Ren)

Dammit. We've been together for so long that she never shows any restraint.

Someone, please do something about this barbaric girl…

"You're so droopy today. Did you wash your face properly?" (Rinko)

"I did." (Ren)

"But your eyes… look sleepy." (Rinko)

"I was born with them that way." (Ren)

"Really? C'mon, look, you've got gunk in your eyes. Ah, geez, and your necktie is all crooked!" (Rinko)

"I'll rub my eyes and fix it… Geez, I can do it myself. Quit touching me!" (Ren)

Rinko's always like this.

Even though we're the same age, she treats me like a kid and fusses over every little thing without a second thought. She won't hesitate to scold me when she sees a problem either…

"I'm not your son, and you're not my mother…" (Ren)

Unable to bear it any longer, I let the words slip out of my mouth.

"Huh? Well duh, that's obvious, Sherlock." (Rinko)

"No, that's not what I meant." (Ren)

"And look, you haven't even fixed your bed hair. Lem'me see your head for a sec…" (Rinko)

"Ugh…." (Ren)

W-what the hell? Why did things turn out like this?!

But…

Well, whatever. Objecting to her will just be a pain in the ass.

Nevertheless, we've known each other for a long time. We met each other before entering kindergarten, and that was over ten years ago.

I guess it's one of those so-called "inseparable relationships".

"You know… you look kinda pale." (Rinko)

"Really?" (Ren)

"Yeah." (Rinko)

Is it because of that bad dream I had?

"Aren't I always like this?" (Ren)

"Hmm… I don't think that's it." (Rinko)

"It's fine, just leave me alone already." (Ren)

"I can't leave you alone, Ren. You're always staring off into space and being completely helpless." (Rinko)

"I can handle myself. After all, Rinko, my grades are better than yours." (Ren)

"Ugh… Don't remind me of that…" (Rinko)

But I know.

I know that grades don't show the whole picture…

After walking for a bit, we arrive at the bus stop. There's a sign that says "Shokuchou Bus Stop".

The information display column in the center of the sign isn't showing anything right now.

I check the time on my cellphone.

7:28 AM

That's odd, it should be here by now.

"Hey, hey… Did you see that eclipse yesterday? It was amazing, wasn't it?" (Rinko)

"Yeah. Well, I kinda saw it, but kinda didn't…" (Ren)

"Geez, talk about an unclear answer." (Rinko)

"Um, let's see… It turned red, didn't it?" (Ren)

"Yes, yes, that's right! I mean, when it happened, I thought that the moon would go all black like a solar eclipse, but it turned into this scary shade of red instead! I was like totally spellbound…" (Rinko)

"If you were scared, you shouldn't have looked…" (Ren)

"C'mon, thats just what they call a… la-dy-'s he-art. Its charm completely gripped me, y'know?" (Rinko)

"What are you talking about?" (Ren)

"Well, y'know, it was the first time I'd seen the entire path of a total lunar eclipse! Yep~" (Rinko)

"The entire path?!" (Ren)

"That's right. From when it started to wane, to when the whole thing was covered in shadow, and then when it returned to normal." (Rinko)

"You like things like that, huh… Just how many minutes did you stare at it? Dozens?" (Ren)

"It's fine. I was so fascinated by it that I forgot about the time, so I don't know how long it was. But the way you're talking, I guess you saw it too, right?" (Rinko)

"B-By chance, I wasn't really looking for it or anything…" (Ren)

"Ehehe~ I'm glad to hear that." (Rinko)

"Huh? Why's that?" (Ren)

"No reason. So, Ren, did you also get scared when you saw the moon?" (Rinko)

"No way in he— Ugh…" (Ren)

"H-Huh? What's wrong?" (Rinko)

"No, it's nothing. I'm fine." (Ren)

It'll hurt even more if I keep thinking about it. Why is it that I have such painful headaches every time the topic of total lunar eclipse comes up?

"Really?" (Rinko)

"I'm just a bit sleep deprived, that's all." (Ren)

"Oh geez, you really worried me, you know?" (Rinko)

Suddenly, I look towards the bus stop sign. I hadn't noticed but the bus had already made its stops at the previous stations, and is now heading this way.

It's almost 7-8 minutes late… Still, it seems like we'll make it on time.

"Now that I think about it, a lot of accidents occurred because of the lunar eclipse, right?" (Rinko)

"That's not necessarily—" (Ren)

"Space and the Earth are connected by an invisible power, aren't they? Mmm, how mystical…" (Rinko)

"No, listen to what I'm saying—" (Ren)

"But if accidents like yesterday happen, then I'm not sure I like that power." (Rinko)

"Well, whatever. I don't care…" (Ren)

"Perhaps it's also the cause of your headaches." (Rinko)

"Huh?" (Ren)

The cause? Huh? What is? How is it? In what way?

My mind just isn't able to process the thought.

Why would trouble on the Cloud and my headaches be connected?

"Anyway, the bus sure is late, huh?" (Rinko)

"…." (Ren)

Geez, did you just drop the subject of the lunar eclipse and my headaches just like that?

Why is it that the creatures called women can just change the topic at the drop of a hat without missing a beat?

"It's already heading this way." (Ren)

"Huh? What do you mean? …Wow, you're right! Amazing!" (Rinko)

No, it's not amazing at all…

I say nothing, and decide to get on the bus. Because of the delay, it's more crowded than usual. Could it be that this screw-up was also due to the eclipse yesterday…?

"C'mon, over here. There's still a vacant seat! If you don't hurry up, someone else is going to take it, you know?" (Rinko)

"Huh?" (Ren)

Didn't I get into the bus before her…?

"Hmm?" (Rinko)

She probably passed me in that moment I was thinking. Still, she's amazing when it comes to nabbing seats. It's clear as day that she'll be a master by the time she joins the battalion of middle-aged women.

"Ahaha, aren't you glad we got seats?" (Rinko)

"Yeah." (Ren)

"If you're sleep deprived, then you can use me as a pillow and sleep. I'll wake you up when we get there." (Rinko)

"Sure… thanks." (Ren)

I avoid eye contact as I say this.

"Now departing. All standing passengers firmly hold on to either the handrails or the overhead straps." (Bus Announcement System)

What is this?

I see something in the corner of my field of vision. Is that a Seiho Academy uniform?

"Waaaaah, waiiiiiiiiiiiiit!" (?)

I see a girl running after the bus from far away. It seems like the bus driver hasn't noticed her, and if he has, he's already late as it is. Yup, they probably aren't going to stop the bus for her.

My condolences to this girl.

*huff* *huff* (?)

The bus ruthlessly pulls out into the road, picking up speed. Even so the girl desperately chases after it, getting slightly closer.

Wow. Esper powers were honestly amazing to see, sometimes.

Right then…

"Huh? Pgya!" (?)

"Oh, she fell." (Ren)

"Huh? Did you say something?" (Rinko)

"A girl fell over there." (Ren)

"Huh? Where?" (Rinko)

I point towards where she was, but…

"No one's there." (Rinko)

She's already gone.

"No, I'm serious. You just can't see her because we've gotten farther away from her." (Ren)

"Hmmm, I wonder about that…" (Rinko)

Rinko stares at me dubiously.

It seems my words don't sound convincing at all.

"Geez, even though I'm right next to you, all you're doing is look away. You really have no delicacy at all, honestly." (Rinko)

Rinko puffs her cheeks out in her best pout and she then turns her face away from me. My nostrils are filled with the scent of the sweet shampoo in her hair.

"I'm telling you, you're mis…" (Ren)

I swallow the words I was about to say. This is absurd. Why would I put myself in a worse position of ridicule?

In the first place, did I really even do something that bad?

It's Rinko's fault that I'm being laughed at.

I close my eyes.

I decide to pretend to fall asleep.

Pretending… pretending… In sometime, it seems like I fell asleep for real.


#Author Notes and Trivia:

*"Mitsu" means "honey" and "bachi" means "bee", so "Mitsubachi" literally means "honey bee". And as for from where the blonde esper gets that name from- it's stuff for another day.

*Level 6s have adopted new names, after their evolution from their Level 5 selves. The reason for this is their powers have become so great and perverse that it doesn't even resemble their original ones anymore.

That's about it...

Hope ya ll enjoyed it...

Until the please R&R...

Btw... updates every Sunday :))