Part 2: More Problems
The second half of the day turned out to be just as bothersome as the first half – if not more, but let's leave that for later.
First, Kuroko had a weird and unsettling experience with Mikoto's private fan club.
The Misaka Mikoto Fan Club was not an official club or faction at their school. It was merely a gathering consisting of Mikoto's most hardcore fans – the ones that would squeal in joy if they stumbled upon a handkerchief she had used or faint from happiness if she happened to brush past them in the hall. They claimed that Misaka Mikoto was not just the ultimate Electromaster, but also the ultimate of all female celebrities in Academy City – a multi-talented genius.
With this mindset, perhaps Kuroko would do well as part of their ranks. However the girl in question did not regard these shallow-seeming girls as anything more than dangerous stalkers of the gross kind.
The club had perhaps 20 or 25 members in total, which would have made it one of the biggest groups at school had it been an official organization.
While most other schools did not have a single celebrity and most certainly would never even dream of making a fan club dedicated to one of the students at school, Tokiwadai was a school for smart and successful girls. This meant there were a lot of girls there who had the drive to start something new and keep it organized – and there were also a lot of celebrities to make such clubs for. In addition to the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club, there was The Queen's Chosen, Hitomi Aika Supporters, and a few others. Apart from the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club and The Queen's Chosen however, most of the clubs had less than 10 members. Some even had only one or two. They all shared the same goal though: To raise awareness of their unmatched idol, fight down bad rumors, and spread good rumors. Of course, sometimes spreading good rumors about their idol meant spreading bad rumors about others. This was particularly the case of the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club and The Queen's Chosen, who were bitter enemies. (As a side note, it is doubtable whether the members of The Queen's Chosen actually had been chosen by the Queen herself. More likely, they merely admired her and were unable to join her faction. The Queen did not seem to mind though, as she let them carry out their misdeeds without interfering.)
Kuroko had just parted ways with Mikoto after finishing lunch. There were still a few minutes until the next class started, so she wasn't in a hurry. She was thinking about the strategy to deploy for the remaining lessons rather than focusing on her surroundings as she walked along the corridor.
Suddenly, someone stood in her path. Pulled out of her thoughts, she looked up at three girls. They might have been first-years or second-years, and they all eyed her eagerly.
"Hm?" Kuroko let out a sound of wonder and slight irritation. She had no choice but to stop since they were blocking the hallway.
"Misaka-sama!" They all bowed their heads in sync, making anyone wonder how long they'd practiced that. "We of the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club have a request for you!"
There was one important factor to remember when talking about the student body of Tokiwadai. That would be that most of the girls were in fact pretty normal. As such, about 90% of the girls Mikoto (or Kuroko in her stead) passed by in the hallways or the school grounds did not squeal like small kittens or jump into her arms out of joy. Most of them would just greet her in a friendly way, and some didn't even do that.
It was, however, those last 10% that stood out amongst the others by acting rather intrusive. This is not to say that all of those girls were part of the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club – but there was a high chance they were. Similarly, not all of the girls in that club acted completely ludicrous, but they were certain to leave an impression of some kind.
Now, as earlier said, Kuroko did not have a good tone with the fan club despite their shared admiration of her roommate.
It seemed to Kuroko that her Onee-sama most of the time preferred to pretend the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club did not exist. Though Mikoto was not alien to being treated as an idol, the fact that someone had made an entire fan club in her honor was quite embarrassing to her. This in turn led to Kuroko disliking the club; however it was not the sole reason. Kuroko had had quite a few run-ins with them already. Back when she first became Mikoto's roommate, a great stir had occurred, and for a couple of weeks she had been terrorized by hate letters in her locker, had a few rude bumps into her in the hallway, and had even been cornered by a couple of members asking what her 'plan' was. She had merely informed them of her status in Judgment and advised them to lie off. The letters had stopped coming after that, but needless to say, she was not best friends with the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club. If anything, they viewed Shirai Kuroko as their prime enemy, being one who had invaded the personal space of their idol and even forced her way into her room. They were quite blind to the fact that Mikoto in most ways accepted this.
This is why Kuroko's confusion quickly turned to irritation, and her clueless expression transformed into a frown.
The girls visibly flinched, as if she'd poked them with a hot iron. "A-ah, that is, if we may…?"
As if pinched by their sudden nervousness, Kuroko remembered her place, and realized that Mikoto might very well dismember her were she to start yelling at her fans. Not because Mikoto cared that much about her fans in particular, but because Mikoto would be mad no matter whom Kuroko yelled at while pretending to be her.
So, feeling perfectly fine with her limbs where they were, she withdrew her thorns and sighed. "Fine, but before that, perhaps you should move out of the way. You're blocking the corridor." A few other students who had been walking behind Kuroko down the hall had stopped when she did, since the three girls from the fan club stood in the way. Now they looked pretty unsure about what to do.
Reddening quite a bit, the girls from the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club hurriedly moved over and apologized to the girls who then went past. After a bunch of well-behaved "My apologies!" and "Don't worry!"'s had occurred, the girls returned their attention to Kuroko.
"What did you want?" Kuroko asked, being pretty much uninterested, but at least trying to meet them halfway.
"I know it is out of our league to be asking this, but…" the girl who appeared to be their spokesperson bowed her head nervously as she spoke. "Misaka-san, would you be interested in changing roommates?"
Dead silence followed this question. As if unable to speak, Kuroko stared at the three girls. She was unsure whether she had heard them correctly; however, her mind told her that she had indeed heard the right thing.
They had asked if she wanted to change her roommate. No, they had asked Mikoto if she wanted to change her roommate. Out of nowhere, they came with a ridiculous question like that. Kuroko's inner temperature began to rise dangerously. Simply put, that was not the right kind of question to ask of Shirai Kuroko, current roommate of Misaka Mikoto and obviously the only one who ever should be. Were they planning to remove Kuroko from Mikoto's presence? Trying to hog her for themselves? Kidnap her to stuff her in a room like a doll for their enjoyment!
Maybe the girl in front of her realized that something needed to be elaborated, as she threw one look at Kuroko's face and then hurried to add: "Ah, you see, there's this new girl who transferred into 1D after summer vacation, she's been having a hard time to fit in. She's an Electromaster too, and since you always seem to argue with your current roommate we thought it may be an idea to switch out..." Her sentence seemed to dwindle into nothing as she spoke. At the same time, the paleness in her face was becoming quite clear.
Kuroko's mind was clouding over with vapor from the boiling water in her body. To suggest something like this to Onee-sama behind my back—! No, to suggest this at all—! She was trembling all over, and without thinking, she muttered: "How cunning…"
The girls in front of her slowly backed up. "Aah… Misaka-sama…?"
Suddenly, Kuroko looked up and barked at the girls: "How dare you even think of something like that! To take advantage of her in her sleep, watch her in the shower, stare at her changing clothes – that's not something a civilized person would do!"
"Nah – wha – we never—!" The girls were pretty disturbed. "That wasn't our intention! Misaka-sama—!" They probably didn't even know what they were trying to answer.
Kuroko raised her chin proudly. "I am perfectly happy with the roommate I already have! Furthermore, it would be in your best interest to keep your act clean, or I will personally make sure your club is disbanded!" She might be speaking as herself right now, but that was impossible to know for the three girls.
They gaped in horror. "Aaah, Misaka-sama! We are very sorry! Please forgive us! We will not disappoint you again!" And then, probably thinking it was better to leave before they did more damage to their reputation in the eyes of their idol, they retreated down the hallway in a hurry.
Kuroko heaved for breath in their wake. Then she straightened up and drew a deep breath. "Honestly, they are so tactless."
Classes 2A and 1A normally had gym at the same time. With Tokiwadai's campus being so huge however, they didn't share the gymnastics hall. In fact, class 1A played football this day, and 2A had track and field.
Kuroko was running along the track field, admiring the feeling of her Onee-sama's body moving so smoothly, and trying to not think too hard about it. After the run-in with the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club, things had continued as with the first half of the day; Kuroko furiously took notes during geography, and Mikoto easily dealt with the English assignments given in Kuroko's class.
When they went to change for gym, Mikoto had casually threatened Kuroko with her very life should she dare to look at her body any more than necessary when changing clothes. So instead of staring, Kuroko had thoroughly enjoyed every moment by the feeling. She could hardly wait to shower afterwards; running these hands over this body so elegantly… washing her hair…Her nose was itching, and she shook her head and concentrated on moving her legs.
There was a speeder in this class, and she was outrunning all the other girls with ease; still, there were many girls who didn't have any powers to aid them in this kind of event, so at least her lack of powers wouldn't give her away in this kind of setting. She was keeping a brisk pace alongside the fastest girls of the class; surprisingly, Hitomi-san was one of them, a concentrated look on her face as she jogged along the track, huffing for breath. Kuroko was tempted to try and talk to her, but didn't know what to say. Did she and Onee-sama talk much anyway?
At the very least it seemed like the girls she had confronted in the bathroom earlier weren't present for gym, so she didn't have to worry about ending up in another hassle.
"Hey, Misaka, get your speed up!" The female teacher suddenly called from the side of the track field, where she stood with a megaphone in her hand. She didn't need that to make herself heard over the track though, so it was merely hanging from her arm like a superfluous accessory.
"Aaah… yes!" Kuroko spluttered, and upped her speed a little. What's with that woman? I am already running faster than half of the class – is that not enough?
"Come on, speed up, speed up! Don't tell me you've grown lazy in one week!" The woman was shouting clearly, and Kuroko gritted her teeth and upped her speed even more. "Remember to breathe! In, out, do it right now! Come on!" The woman continued to cry, the megaphone at her side glaring at them with its uselessness.
Kuroko gasped in a lungful of air and concentrated on her breath as her feet hit the soft concrete with every step. Suddenly, there was a flurry of motion as someone passed by the throng of girls with inhuman speed and nearly knocked them over with the repercussion; Kuroko squinted at the whirl of wind assaulting them.
"Good work Tinata!" The gym teacher shouted at the blur. "Keep it up and you'll be breaking the school record in no time!"
Kuroko huffed. Showing off like that…
"Misaka, why are you slacking off?" The woman yelled, jolting her out of her thoughts once more. "Keep your legs moving, come on! Left, right, left, right!"
Guah – What's with this? Kuroko gritted her teeth again and pressed on. She's already got a speeder here; why is she nagging at me like that? And what about all these slowpokes? She threw a look backwards, and was surprised to see a lot of the slowest girls trying to up their speed as well; determined, sweaty faces glaring at Kuroko's back. Her eyes widened slightly. Are they…
"Hey, Misaka!" The teacher crowed. "You can't run if you don't see where you're going! If you slow down, I'll give you ten more rounds as punishment!"
What the heck? Kuroko quickly did as she said, and tried to push her speed even more. Even though she was annoyed at the constant nagging, her determination blossomed like a poisonous plant in the jungle. Even if you force me to run for ten hours straight, I am powered by my love for Onee-sama! There is no way I, Shirai Kuroko, will grow tired as long as I inhabit this body! With this scary conviction in mind, Kuroko pressed herself even further.
Meanwhile, Mikoto had other troubles.
Class 1A played football in today's gym class. And she was positioned as a center-fielder. This was probably with Kuroko's ability in mind; however as of now it resulted in a whole lot of running for Mikoto. Not that she was worrying about that in particular.
What's with this! She skidded across the grass to capture the ball from one of Kuroko's classmates, but her legs didn't even reach. Kuroko is so short! She gritted her teeth and stood up, racing after the other girl with a scary expression on her face.
"Waaah!" The girl cried, and then she suddenly tripped.
"Hah, got you!" Mikoto grinned as she took hold of the ball and sprinted down the field towards the goal of the opposing team. She jumped over a barricade of mean-looking grass that suddenly sprouted from the ground and dodged a hand that reached out for her shoulder – she was ten meters from the goal, and three girls were charging her, with no teammates in sight. Right then! She stepped forward and kicked the ball with all her might, sending it flying right between their heads and careening towards the goal, nimbly missing the keeper so far out and heading for the net – FWOOSH – A gust of wind appeared from nowhere and sent the ball off its track, hitting the metal beam and bouncing off above the goal.
"What?" Mikoto stared at the result of her bravado with letdown surprise. The teacher, who also acted as the judge, blew her whistle.
"Shirai-san!" Awatsuki-san was running up towards her while the other girls prepared for the keeper to start the game again. "Shirai-san, are you okay?"
Mikoto glowered at the goal, before realizing the girl was talking to her; "Huh? What?"
"Ah, no, it's just…" Awatsuki-san smiled a bit awkwardly, "usually playing ball games with you is no fun at all, seeing how you just teleport everything into goal… but today you're not…" Her voice dwindled, and she smiled shyly.
Mikoto's eyes widened. That's right! Kuroko would – with her ability… Of course, this being Academy City, and Tokiwadai middle school at that, using your powers during a simple ball game was a matter of course. However Mikoto currently found herself in the predicament of having no powers at all. Even if she still had her electric ability though, it was of limited help during sports. Electrifying the opposing team was considered foul play, and using iron sand to slash apart the goal or the ball itself merely lead to the cancellation of the game rather than her team's victory (of course, she knew this because she had already tried – nearly scaring her classmates to death back in her first year). She could cover the ball with iron sand and fire it like a railgun, but that was a dangerous way of scoring a goal. Moving the goal itself with magnetism was also pretty complicated, though possible.
What she normally did use her ability for however, was making a static field around herself that would sting anyone who came near (and this usually resulted in her being a complete team all on her own, as nobody wanted to tackle her). But as of now, she couldn't even do that.
"Shirai!" The teacher suddenly came trudging over to her with a scary look on her face.
Mikoto hastily bowed her head, having already re-acquainted herself with the gym teacher she had had last year. "I'm very sorry, Genkun-sensei!" Though what she was sorry for, she didn't know. Perhaps she was merely apologizing for all the trouble she had unwittingly caused during her first year.
The woman with the strict look stopped and glared at her. "What are you apologizing for? I wanted to praise you for taking on the challenge of not using your ability for once. You'd do well gaining a bit of muscle on those scrawny legs of yours!"
"Hahahaaahaii," Mikoto laughed, rubbing her neck awkwardly. "I thought so too, sensei!"
"Just don't overexert yourself." Genkun-sensei said, and then added in a mutter: "I wouldn't want to have to carry you to the infirmary later." She then blew her whistle again to let the game continue.
At the same time, Kuroko kept pushing herself to the limit. Whether the teacher was still nagging at her or not was not important at this moment; now, her mind had been hijacked by some scary goal of gaining the fastest possible time on this track. Perhaps it was the fact that she was lacking her ability and thus forced to run that had awoken some kind of feral instinct, but there was no doubt Shirai Kuroko was as of this moment not acting logically at all.
Her borrowed legs and arms went like steam engines, her lungs almost hurting from breathing.
The speeder was not the topic here; she was like another being from space, and far outside Kuroko's reach. No, she had somehow ended up racing one of the other girls in the class, a shorthaired girl with an athletic build, and quite possibly part of the school's track team.
The girl was increasing her speed evenly with Kuroko, seemingly without any trouble at all.
So persistent! Kuroko gritted her teeth to ignore the pain from her lungs, and kept speeding up almost impossibly. If she were to trip now, she'd certainly break her neck from the impact with the ground, but that was not in her worries.
The teacher was calling out; it turned to mere noise in Kuroko's ears as she noticed the girl beside her on the track field increasing her speed again. What are you—! She forced her legs to run even faster; they were already half a round in front of the rest of the class at this point. While the speeder kept flashing past them in round after round, Kuroko and the other girl was having a private war all on their own.
Kuroko shot her opponent a quick look. She had a fairly concentrated look on her face, and breathed evenly through her mouth. She was sweating, but looked far from ready to give in, with a steady gaze staring straight ahead.
Kuroko looked back ahead as well, and worked to push her body even more. I'll show you the glory of the ace of Tokiwadai! Perhaps she was growing sick. In any case, she felt like she couldn't slow down at all while inhabiting Onee-sama's body; as if giving up would be a horrible defeat.
She shot another look sideways. The girl she was wordlessly racing still kept a nice pace, and didn't seem bothered at all. Her legs kept moving gracefully, and her upper body was straight and proud.
Kuroko gritted her teeth even tighter. I am not losing to you! She upped her speed again; they were catching up with the slowest of the other girls now, about to overtake the entire class with a whole round. They passed by the teacher, yelling something from the sideline.
I… can't… lose! Kuroko stared straight ahead, trying to push Mikoto's body beyond human limits. I… won't… lose!
Her step suddenly overtook the other girl, and she felt a moment of triumph at finally outrunning her –
WHOOOOSH! The speeder charged past them again, and the wind in her wake knocked Kuroko right over. She hit the track with her shoulder first and rolled over several times before ending up face down on the surface.
There she lay, gasping for air. Arms and legs burning like oil on fire, her head spinning around in circles, and her shoulder aching. She had no energy to even move a finger, lying flat on the ground like a used rag. I – can't – breathe. She gasped down oxygen in mouthfuls like a stranded whale. The teacher was yelling again, but Kuroko couldn't make out her words through the pounding blood in her ears.
"Aaah, I'm beat." Mikoto sighed and rested her forehead against the wall of her shower stall, hot water running down her exposed back and splattering to the floor. "Really, why did they force me to run back and forth like a maniac…?" She sighed again. "I feel like I was the ball out there…"
"Haaah..." Kuroko agreed from the stall beside hers, drawing a shaking breath. "I have never been so worn out in my life…"
"Well, you must have set a world record in stupidity." Mikoto commented, the irritation easily discernable in her voice. "Running till you nearly pass out? Sheesh, you're a moron." She'd even had to help her underclassman into the shower since it seemed like she'd collapse sideways without support. That had been embarrassing enough, since everyone thought it was Mikoto who was having problems walking straight ahead.
"I forgot to breathe…" Kuroko sighed in shame as she reached for the shampoo with fingers trembling from exhaustion.
"How the hell can you forget to breathe?"
Kuroko had no answer to that. After her collapse, the teacher had yelled at her for acting ridiculous, and told her to sit and watch for the rest of the period while the speeder and the rest of the class ran on for round after round.
Still, it had been surprisingly easy to outrun the other girls. She knew her Onee-sama was quite athletic of course, with the various wrestling techniques as well as punches and kicks in her arsenal, and she was usually among the top ten in all gym contests at school. In that sense, maybe it wasn't so surprising after all. Although Kuroko was proud of her own fitness, having the ability she did it came natural to her to move long distances using teleportation rather than her own two legs.
Perhaps she ought to rethink that habit. To think I collapsed like that… Did I learn nothing in Judgment training? Tsk. Mentally clicking her tongue, she carefully washed the shampoo from Mikoto's hair.
Sighing from the neighboring stall, Mikoto continued: "You really ought to use your legs more often. Honestly, using your ability for every single game – isn't that just a waste of time? Sports should be about using your body, not your mind." She picked up Kuroko's shampoo from the shelf beside her as she talked, frowning at the pink bottle. How much does she need of this for her hair? She opted for a handful.
"Ara, Onee-sama, I think you'd get a lot of angry athletes on your neck for that single comment… I do believe there is a certain amount of brain activity involved with sports after all." Kuroko was subtly running her hands over Mikoto's body, soaping it in with a lightly scented body wash that tickled her nostrils pleasantly. It felt calming to her tired being.
Busy shampooing her way too long hair, Mikoto reddened and huffed. "You know what I mean. And snip the Onee-sama."
"Ah, right – I forgot for a moment." Though how she could forget while standing in this stall, freely able to do this and that to Onee-sama's body without her even knowing…
As if she'd read her mind, Mikoto violently kicked the wall separating the stalls. "You're not doing anything else than washing off in there, you hear?"
"Ah, of course not." Kuroko answered, a sweat-drop travelling down her temple. Even if she's not a Level 5 at the moment, she's still scary… Mikoto did not need electric sparks flying from her bangs to exert a feeling of danger. Again, her various kicks and punches came to mind. Some may find it unfair for an esper so strong to also know martial arts, but Kuroko found Onee-sama's multi-talented nature only added to her charm. Though her violent nature did not.
Mikoto huffed again, washing out the soap from her hair. "Honestly, your perverseness is starting to scare me. It's as if…" she looked down briefly, and the words died in her mouth.
"Ah, that's just because you're too bashful to see that our feelings actually mirror each other perfectly." Kuroko said importantly, wiping the soap off her arms with gentle movements.
"I see." Mikoto said solemnly, and Kuroko's mind halted all processes.
"Y-you do?" Her voice (or rather Mikoto's voice) was almost shrill with disbelief.
"You're always commenting my chest and how it's so 'subtle'," Mikoto said, sounding rather levelheaded, as if she was talking about the weather. "And now I see why."
"And why would that be?" Kuroko asked, uncertainly. Somehow it sounded like they were talking about different things.
"Your less-than-A-cup size actually rubs your mind constantly, doesn't it? In order to ignore your own lack of size, you keep nagging at mine instead…" A somewhat smug tone entered her voice.
"O-Onee-sama!" Kuroko was appalled.
"Your pride in this topic must be severely lacking. Is there even a point in using bras with this kind of chest?" Mikoto was measuring the breasts on her current body with her eyes – though calling them breasts yet was actually a bit of an exaggeration. "Who knew… Heh. Heh. Heh." Her laugh was reminiscent of some evil over-lord finally getting his way after beating the hero. Perhaps it was the strangeness of inhabiting another body that was finally getting to her.
"Onee-sama, please don't enjoy my body in this way!" Kuroko banged the shower stall wall desperately, and several girls outside threw them odd looks; not hearing their conversation, but still seeing the ace of Tokiwadai and her smug roommate having a go at each other as usual.
The last period of the day.
With it being Friday and all, you'd assume the level of activity was dwindling. But this is Tokiwadai. The level of activity here is as high any moment of any day as that at the Olympics.
Mikoto sighed deeply. I can't wait to get out of here. More than ever she looked forward to leave school and escape to somewhere safe. Maybe I'll read some manga… then again, seeing a Judgment member doing something like that may cause a stir… Besides, Kuroko had explicitly told her she needed to go to Judgment work in her stead. Mikoto sighed again, before trying to pay attention to what was going on in front of her.
Class 1A had a group activity in economics. The subject was to plan and document the creation of an imagined business dealing in different areas of medicine, based somewhere in Africa. Of course, as you might expect of Tokiwadai, they combined courses to make them most effective. This would be math, economics, geography, science and leadership all rolled into one. And it was all in English.
To any other middle school student this might seem like getting the task of translating an Ancient Egyptian text into comprehensible Japanese using a Russian dictionary, but the girls in Tokiwadai had the brains to cope.
One group of five girls was sitting by a round table in the 'free talk' section of the library with a bunch of encyclopedias and a couple of laptops in front of them.
"We should base our business in Botswana, and focus on researching HIV and Aids…"
"Hmm, its economy has been growing well the last years; it might be a good spot to start up…"
"But there is hardly any ground for researching new medicines, with it being nearly 70% desert…"
Mikoto was having a hard time to pay attention. To be frank, she was just a bit bored, as she had been through this last year already. Then again, I guess it's good with some repetition… and it is kind of refreshing to work with someone who doesn't look scared whenever I open my mouth. Granted, her own classmates had grown into seeing her as a fellow student most of the time, but it still felt awkward whenever someone cracked a joke and then looked at her in alarm, as if she was going to slap her for laughing.
Still… She glanced sideways at the companion sitting as number two to her left. The girl's shoulder-length, black glossy hair and her pompous nose seemed like it radiated annoyance. Though Mikoto was not the kind of person to keep a grudge on someone for a considerable length of time, the early weeks of this school year still beat around in her mind as a fresh reminder as to why she preferred staying alone rather than socialize too much with the first-years.
"What are you looking at, Shirai?" The girl in question asked venomously, glaring at her all of a sudden.
"Eh?" Mikoto was perplexed, not having realized she'd been staring so obviously.
Sumone-san sneered. "Are you day dreaming about your Onee-sama again?"
"N-no way—!" Her protest may have come off as slightly panicky.
"Trying to get by with not paying attention then are you? You high and mighty Judgment folks just hope everyone else does your work for you."
How is that even…? Mikoto didn't know how to answer, and ended up staring at her stupidly, mouth half-open.
"Shirai-san, Sumone-san, do you have any ideas?" One of the other girls turned towards them, oblivious to their exchange or perhaps trying to interrupt it in a subtle way.
Mikoto turned to look at the table and tried getting back on track. "Ah, um, well, Botswana might be good with their developing economic situation…"
"As if you know anything about that." Sumone-san snorted. "I bet you don't even know who Seretse Khomo is."
"The first democratically chosen president of Botswana?" Mikoto asked, looking at the map in one of the encyclopedias in front of them. "I think his name was Khama, actually…"
Sumone-san threw an annoyed look at the map as well, as if she thought Mikoto might have read the answer off of there.
"Shirai-san, you know a lot about Botswana?" Another girl on their group suddenly asked her.
Mikoto reddened slightly. "It's not like I know a lot, but my dad—" she stopped, suddenly aware that she'd been about to tell them her father had been there during his travels, and that she did not know enough about Kuroko's family to even pretend it was right.
"Wow, we'll definitely pick Botswana then!" One of the girls said excitedly, and the others nodded in agreement. Mikoto felt slightly guilty for a moment. Perhaps I should suggest to Kuroko she read up on Botswana…
While Mikoto was having a rather easy time impressing Kuroko's classmates, Kuroko was not doing so well over in Mikoto's class.
The last period of the day was science. Science was a huge topic, and one of the most important in Academy City. Kuroko usually had no troubles with this subject, but there was no way she could learn something which she had not studied at all in the space of a few minutes – something she was desperately trying to do right now. Halfway into the lesson the teacher, Matsui-sensei, suddenly announced he would be questioning them in the quantum field theory as a surprise quiz. As of this moment he had already started questioning them, and Kuroko was feverishly trying to do some last-minute reading up on the subject.
'm is the particle's mass, V is the applied potential, and ψ(x,t) denotes the wavefunction.' That doesn't help me at all! It's Greek! It might as well be Polynesian for that matter: I don't know what it means! She had studied a lot of different topics in regards to her ability, but that didn't mean she knew all about the quantum field theory. It was a vast topic to cover, and usually so advanced it didn't even appear as a topic until University level. Reading a bunch of random things won't help either way. What exactly is he going to question me about? Guuuh! She resisted the urge to claw at her head.
"Misaka." The teacher had turned his attention on her.
"H-hai!" She exclaimed nervously, jolting up from her seat and nearly knocking the chair over as a repetition of this morning.
"Let's see, I wouldn't want to make it too easy for you, but…" The teacher looked down into his e-pad and frowned, and Kuroko felt just slightly more nervous. The teacher gave a small sigh for some unknown reason. "Well, how about you explain to us what the quantum Hall effect is?"
There was a surge of expectant whispers from the girls around her; Kuroko stood there feeling like a fraud of a solo artist who had just been forced to actually sing instead of lip-syncing. The spotlight was on her, the audience waiting; the music just about starting to play.
I-I have no idea. She was terror-struck; there was no way she could even start to guess. Being a first-year, they had barely started discussing the quantum field theory at all; now she was suddenly asked to answer something impossible. The quantum Hall effect? What is that? Some kind of huge gathering of quantum's in a hall? What would the effect of that be? The nervousness was collecting in her gut and made her unable to think at all. Not only were Mikoto's classmates all waiting eagerly for her answer, and the teacher too, but Onee-sama was the Level 5 Electromaster, and ranked 8th in Tokiwadai – she would have been able to answer this easily.
I can't just make up some random answer and ridicule Onee-sama in front of all these girls! She was sweaty, her fingers curling unsurely. Stupid Kuroko! The quantum Hall effect; have I heard of it before? I have, haven't I? Start with the basics; a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Great, now what? Hall… Hall… it's a name, right? I am not called Shirai Kuroko for nothing, am I? Her mind was making loops inside her head, making no sense at all.
"Misaka, are you feeling all right there?" The teacher suddenly asked, looking a bit worried.
"Eh?" She stiffened, sweating even more. "I'm f-fine…" Though when thinking about it, she was feeling rather unwell.
"You don't look well at all. Hitomi, please take her to the infirmary."
"H-hai!" The blonde girl to Kuroko's right smiled brightly and stood up.
Kuroko immediately paled even more. "Ah – um, I'm perfectly fine –"
"I will not have you pass out in class because of fever or something; you head right over to the infirmary this instant." Matsui-sensei suddenly looked awfully strict up there.
"Let's go, Misaka-san." Hitomi-san smiled brightly at her and turned to leave; and Kuroko found herself following the student council president out of the classroom like a duckling to its mother.
Back in the library, Mikoto was actually having a lot of fun with the other first-years despite the fact that Sumone-san was part of their group. When they had finished outlining the hierarchy of their imagined company and made up some of their business partners, they only had about ten minutes left of the session. Since they were entering a new portion of the work, they opted for packing up and continue on Monday. Feeling a sudden stroke of panic at the prospect of being stuck in Kuroko's body even at that time, Mikoto volunteered to put the encyclopedias back in place to get a few minutes to compose herself.
Guh – they're heavy. Carrying four huge books at once, and wondering why the school hadn't bought the digital copies for their laptops and e-books instead, she found the right shelves and put them back in place one by one.
Wiping her brow after putting the third one away, she looked down at the last book and frowned. Where did this go again? She looked left and right down the shelves in front of her, looking for the right spot.
"I believe that one goes here." A pleasant voice suddenly came from behind her, making her jump. A hand pointed up at a free spot above her head.
"Aah, right." Trying to hide her sudden surprise, she put the book in place between two other large encyclopedias and then breathed out. "Thanks," she started and turned around, only to come face-to-face with someone she did not want to meet.
The blonde girl with white gloves and stockings and a small shoulder-bag in place of her Tokiwadai schoolbag, looked at her curiously.
"Hm? Something wrong?" This innocent sounding question was just as sickeningly sweet as the rest of her attitude.
"Queen…" Mikoto muttered.
"My, you know who I am? Well, I'm sorry to say you won't win a Nobel Prize for that knowledge." The Queen, otherwise known by her actual name,Shokuhou Misaki, giggled softly at Mikoto. Many students at their school hardly even knew the Queen's face, but Mikoto knew her well enough. That innocent nature was just a cover for a devil personality. She had a habit of baiting Mikoto into pointless duels of words, and whenever they met, Mikoto felt like she'd been ridiculed by someone vile and tasteless.
Needless to say, her barbs instantly sprouted at the sight of her, and she crouched slightly, as if preparing for a fight. Not to say she wanted to fight the other girl, but that was the automatic response to being so suddenly faced with someone who insisted on being her rival.
"Say, what's up with that kind of attitude towards someone who just helped you out?" The Queen said pointlessly, stroking her hair. "It's not that it's any of my business, but if you're not feeling well you should probably head over to the infirmary."
"As if you care about that." Mikoto said.
The Queen blinked. "Um, excuse me, but who…?"
It dawned on Mikoto then; she doesn't know it's me. Of course not; she did inhabit the body of her roommate right now. There was no way the other girl could know, unless she was the one who had caused this – which she doubted was the case. Mikoto's electromagnetic abilities could also be used as a defensive means against mental abilities. If the Queen was behind this, she must have gotten into their room during the night when they were asleep and her defenses were down, which was absurd in more ways than one. In the first place, Mikoto doubted she would have played innocent in such a setting; more likely, she would have thrived on their situation and made sure they knew it was her doing.
That's pointless thinking. I already knew she wasn't the one behind this. She didn't know when it happened, but she had already knocked away the possibility of this being esper work. More likely, it was a mental condition or…
That was when an idea that was both hopeful and terrifying suddenly struck her: Could the Queen use her ability to change the two of them back? Assuming this condition was somehow mentally based – well, it was impossible to know after all, so maybe… and right now, Mikoto did not have her electromagnetic barrier up…
She slowly swallowed a lump in her throat. But asking her something like that… she didn't know if she could trust the other girl that much. What if she decided to play with their minds instead, altering their personality or memories or something equally unpleasant?
She gritted her teeth, just as the girl in front of her suddenly seemed to realize something.
"Oh! You… you're Misaka-san's roommate, are you not?"
Mikoto was put off, not having expected her to know.
"Well well, how pleasant…" the Queen smiled widely. "It always puzzled me how anyone could live with a hothead like her; what kind of person could that be?"
"Gh – as if you're one to talk!" Mikoto countered, feeling her pride stung. "At least I don't mind control my roommate!"
She realized too late that she'd spoken out of character; however the Queen didn't seem to notice. Her face had suddenly changed into one of disgust, and Mikoto flinched and pulled back, suddenly very aware of her own defenselessness right now.
"Well, with such a despicable attitude I think I'll just make sure you forget every detail you know about me." The Queen said. "Please give my regards to Misaka-san, will you?"
Mikoto closed her eyes tightly, chastising herself for being so stupid (hotheaded, an inner voice ridiculed her), waiting for whatever would happen… however…
"What…?" The Queen sounded surprised.
Mikoto slowly opened her eyes, seeing the other girl's shocked expression turn into a sneer.
"What is up with you; why can't I…" She halted, pulled back slightly, and her eyes darted from side to side; obviously, she didn't want to admit what had happened. But Mikoto understood immediately.
The Queen was unable to affect her with her power.
This was good, all things considered, but also quite puzzling.
The Queen huffed and stroked her hair in a confident gesture. "Whatever. Don't come near me again or I will have you clean the entire library floor with your tongue."
With that, the pompous girl turned around and walked off with obvious put-on calmness.
Mikoto let out a sigh of relief. She's definitely not the culprit behind this. That was good, she guessed, but at the same time left her wondering even more what had happened to them. Why didn't it work? Don't tell me this condition is more complicated than we thought!
Kuroko's temperature was forcefully taken by one of the nurses that were oozing with authority. She was acquainted with these nurses from before, having visited them earlier in the school year. The nurse checked the temperature and shook her head, clicking her tongue.
"Nothing out of the ordinary, Misaka-san. Are you sure you're not just moody?"
Kuroko laughed stupidly. "Aah, I guess maybe I was imagining things…" Really, I didn't even think I was sick! There was no way she could have explained this to anyone without things turning awkward though; even Hitomi-san… she glanced over at the girl with the glasses, feeling troubled.
"Well, that's good then!" The girl in question beamed at her from the side of the bed she was sitting at, seemingly carefree as anything.
Kuroko envied her.
"Perhaps you are starting to have a case of PMS; you are around the right age…" the nurse said thoughtfully while putting away the thermometer. Kuroko's face froze up, and Hitomi-san glanced sideways, looking just slightly uncomfortable.
The nurse turned to look at them squarely. "You do know what that is, right? Pre-menstrual—"
"Hai, we know what it is!" Hitomi-san hurriedly said, bowing her head almost apologetically.
Kuroko swallowed dryly. Could it be… Onee-sama is about to… the thought was making her feel faint after all. Even if the reason for her being sent here was not connected to that, it wasn't unthinkable that Mikoto may be nearing in on that part of puberty...
"Well then," the nurse said, putting her hands on her hips, "if you feel any change, come back at once. I'll have my butt kicked if I let you pass out in the middle of the corridor or something, so don't you dare put it off till later!"
Kuroko gave an awkward grin as she stood up and bowed her head slightly. "Thank you very much!"
The nurse followed them out with a strict look on her face, and Kuroko gave a sigh of relief once the door closed behind them. "Really, those nurses are scary…"
"Haha..." Hitomi-san said.
Still… if Onee-sama is really at that stage already… Kuroko frowned in thought. …we'll need equipment to deal with it, and – her eyes widened suddenly – is this the time to get those famous one-time-a-month pair of panties…? Her heart was beating harshly all of the sudden. I can't let her choose them for herself, or she'll most likely go with something like Gekota or another childish figure! Her brain worked hard as she followed Hitomi-san down the hallway. It occurred to her that this may be the perfect chance. If they were still stuck in each other's bodies when school ended, Mikoto would have to go to Judgment work, and Kuroko would be free to do whatever she wanted. Even visiting a lingerie shop! Her face felt sweaty, her fingers twitching from excitement. She knew just the place to visit, and just the colors to look for…
"Oh – Misaka-san, Hitomi-san!" A cheerful voice suddenly called out for them, pulling Kuroko out of her thoughts. She looked up to the side, while Hitomi-san turned her head in the same direction. Coming at a light skip towards them, smiling brightly and waving a hand in the air, was someone Kuroko recognized well, but the sight was pretty… disturbing.
Asanuma Reiko was bouncing towards them with a beam on her face.
Asanuma-san, the self-absorbed, arrogant, too-good-for-you third-year who had been quite harsh in her challenge of Hitomi-san regarding the position as student council president earlier in the year (despite them secretly being a couple), was currently smiling happily and skipping towards them like a kid happily greeting her mother after the first day at school.
Kuroko felt a chill run down her spine.
"Aaah, Asanuma-san…" Hitomi-san hesitated slightly, her eyes darting right and left, as if looking for eavesdroppers. "What are you doing here in the middle of class?"
The girl with long, black hair that always looked like it was freshly showered and with a body that would be envied by many a model, stopped in front of them and beamed happily.
"The teacher said 'You're acting funny, Asanuma, go get your head checked at the infirmary!' or something of the like, so I am on my way there… what about you two?" She smiled at Kuroko, who felt greatly unsettled.
"Well, um, the teacher thought Misaka-san looked a bit pale, so…" Hitomi-san threw Kuroko a quick glance, as if she couldn't stand to watch her for more than a second at a time.
Kuroko frowned, sensing something off-key. She did not exchange words with these girls very often, but she did now and then get invited for a shopping trip by Hitomi-san, and had greeted Asanuma-san more than once since all the rattle this spring – seeing them like this was completely backwards. Asanuma-san's biting, arrogant personality with a hint of idiotism seemed completely gone, and Hitomi-san was acting rather shy and quiet, as if…
Her eyes widened suddenly. Don't tell me—!
"Oh my," Asanuma-san said worriedly, coming closer to put a hand on Kuroko's forehead. "Are you sick, Misaka-san? You mustn't strain yourself too much!"
Kuroko stared at her, feeling the incredible feeling grow inside, until…
"Hitomi…san?" It was too surreal, but it was the first possibility that dropped into her mind.
The girl in front of her pulled back with a puzzled gaze. Then she suddenly giggled. "Oh my, seems like I was being too obvious there, huh? As expected of Misaka-san, to notice right away!"
Kuroko found her throat had trouble to convey speech, so the other girl continued instead, scratching her cheek: "I don't really understand it, but this morning something very weird happened…"
Kuroko had no idea what to think anymore. As the final bell rang, she walked out of the classroom in a daze, heading for the lockers where she and Onee-sama had agreed upon meeting before going to each their own destinations.
There are other people in the same situation as us? It was a frightening thought. Once more, she recalled her conversation with Hitomi-san:
"We showered and dressed just like usual, and then, when we were about to leave… well, suddenly we were like this." Hitomi-san had smiled almost apologetically (though with Asanuma-san's face it looked pretty disturbing)."I can't say I understand what happened, but I tried to ask the teacher and well, he looked at me strangely before asking me to sit down. I didn't think anyone would believe us…"
"What did you do right before it happened?" Kuroko asked.
"Well, we got dressed…" She looked fairly uncertain.
"That's not it. Something must have been the trigger for it to happen." Kuroko put a hand to her chin thoughtfully. "Anything like… a touch, perhaps, or…" She paused, feeling a chill run down her spine all of the sudden. No… no way…
"Oh! Well… we always kiss before going to school. Do you think that's the reason?" Hitomi-san made a puzzled face.
Back in present time, Kuroko felt a rather large strain settle on her system. No way… Did Hitomi-san and Asanuma-san really change bodies as well? Or was this their form of a joke?
But assuming they were telling the truth… if that truly had anything to do with their situation… not that she thought it had, but…
I… I can't possibly tell Onee-sama! Her insides twisted in terror. Just the thought of telling her roommate about this sent shivers up and down her spine. If she were to do that, she would like to write her last will first. No, there's no way the kiss had anything to do with it! She desperately tried to find another reason. Could there be anyone with this kind of ability? Would it be possible to find someone like this in the database?
I should probably contact Uiharu and have her check it just in case! She pulled out Mikoto's cell phone, quickly navigating through the address book to Uiharu's number. Punching the call button, she put it to her ear while ignoring a gang of first-year girls throwing some badly hidden glances her way. The phone gave the call tone a couple of times, before –
"Yes, Uiharu Kazari here~" A cheerful voice greeted her ear.
"Uiharu, it's me–" She realized what she was saying just as the words left her mouth, and froze – how do I explain this? And talking about it while on school grounds – not a good idea!
However, the voice in the other end merely continued: "I can't answer the phone right now, so if you've got something to say, leave a message after the beep!"
Kuroko let out a relieved breath. Uiharu may not have turned on the sound on her phone after school yet. She hung up before the beep sounded. Stopping in the hallway for a moment, she drew a deep breath to calm down. I can't accomplish anything by panicking. She slowly rubbed her temple, feeling her insides settle down. There's no reason to panic in the first place. So far, nothing serious seems to have happened. Assuming this and that has anything to do with each other may perhaps be too quick a judgment. How could a kiss result in something like this, after all? Maybe Asanuma-san and Hitomi-san were suffering from another predicament entirely… That is, if they weren't just playing around. Perhaps the two of them had some kind of sick humor like this, pretending to be each other…
She had not offered to explain her own situation to the two girls, not knowing how to do so. It had seemed better to just smile and pretend she understood completely. Right now, she was happy for that decision. There was no reason to cause a stir over this as long as nothing serious had happened. If they kept this up, chances were it would end on its own soon enough.
If there is the slightest chance that this was caused by that… she gulped silently. It seemed like her best chances for survival would be to go with the flow and keep her mouth shut for now.
Mikoto sighed as she left the library after the last bell rang, carrying Kuroko's schoolbag. She was tired of watching her act all the time; not that anyone may suspect they were switched out, exactly, but acting strange did have a knack of getting them into trouble.
Like with the Queen just now… Kuroko would most likely not have paid her any mind at all. She sighed again. I really hope there's no more trouble waiting before I can get out of here…
They had agreed upon meeting by the second-year lockers before parting ways; seeing how this weird occurrence had yet to revert to normal, they would have to keep on playing each other for another while yet. By now she was starting to feel like this was the norm either way. It was scary how used she'd become to walking around in Kuroko's shoes. Had they really been normal just yesterday?
Walking past a row of lockers and girls ready to leave school, she suddenly saw Kuroko, who was already waiting by Mikoto's locker. And so were a throng of her fan girls. She hesitated, stopping right before entering their line of sight. Kuroko was smiling with all her might, laughing at the various girls throwing her questions and gazing starry-eyed up at her. Mikoto was slightly unsettled. That looks kind of…
"Misaka-sama, what shampoo do you use for your hair?"
"Misaka-sama, did you get my letter the other day?"
"Misaka-sama—!" Everywhere their blushing and eager faces penetrated Kuroko's point of view.
Kuroko was sweating profusely by now. Where is Onee-sama? I can't take this anymore! She wanted to scream and scare the girls away, but she didn't want to risk another lecture from Onee-sama about her behavior. Certainly, if the ace of Tokiwadai started screaming at her fans, all hell would break loose at the school. And yet, it was so tempting. How does Onee-sama keep up with this!
"Maa," she tried for approach, "I really don't have time for this now…"
"Misaka-sama, you have violin recital now, right?" One of the girls asked, bright-eyed.
"Um…" The mere notion sent a tremble through her body.
"Can we watch?" The girls asked, hands clasped in front of their chests.
Utter terror settled in Kuroko's stomach. WATCH? She had not yet even figured out how to fake her way out of the class – she could not play the violin for the life of her!
Mikoto also felt her face freeze, imagining the horrors of people listening in on Kuroko's horrid display of skill – never mind the fact that she preferred not having anyone nearby when she practiced.
This seemed as good a time as any to step forward. You can do this! She psyched herself up, slapping her cheeks. Forcing a bright smile onto her face, she jumped out from behind the lockers, beaming at Kuroko. "There you are, Onee-sama!"
The girls flocking around Kuroko instantly threw her unsure stares or nasty glares; she felt them burn into her flesh. Oi oi, that's quite the hostility! She sweat-dropped, but her smile never wavered. Stepping forwards, cheeks growing beet red, she attached herself to Kuroko's arm. "I c-can't let you out of my sight for even a minute, can I?"
The other girls backed off, huffing; "It's that Shirai."
Kuroko was too shocked to react at first; the experience of having Onee-sama clutching her arm had her mind quite literally explode. However she snapped out of it when Mikoto discretely stomped her foot, and then spluttered: "Ah – K-Kuroko, get off!" She shook her arm half-heartedly, but Mikoto still let go almost instantly, as if burned. Her face was quite red. The sensation of hugging her own arm was a bit disturbing, but at least the annoying fan girls had left.
Kuroko let out a relieved sigh.
"Well, we better prepare you for the violin recital." Mikoto tried to ignore her worries, and stepped over to her locker after making sure nobody else was around.
"Gh – Onee – I – I…" Kuroko was so nervous about this upcoming violin recital she wanted nothing more than to disappear into a hole in the ground. The noble art of playing the violin was something that belonged to her Onee-sama; Kuroko was in bliss the few times she was allowed to listen to the older girl play, and had never dreamt of touching such an instrument herself. If she could make herself pass out and spend the time in the infirmary instead, that would be better.
"What, are you caving in here?" Mikoto sighed deeply. "Jeez." She reached up and unlocked her locker, having refused to give Kuroko the combination (one never knew what the underclassman would do with that knowledge. Of course, Kuroko didn't need to know it, since teleporting the lock away was much more efficient).
Mikoto pulled out her violin case and smacked the locker shut. Then she looked at the clock on the wall. Ten minutes till the recital began. She gave another sigh. "Let's go."
"Over here." Mikoto dragged her into an empty classroom and locked the door behind them. Kuroko's throat immediately constricted; either she planned to kill her, or… "O-Onee-sama, are you finally…" Her heart beat faster. "Are you planning on having an after-school romance with Kuroko in this forbidden scene of an empty classroom? Aaaah, your sense of romance is as staggering as always! Though, making out in this state may be…"
"Keep those perverted fantasies to yourself, and don't spout them with my mouth!" Mikoto thrust the violin case forward, as if to make a point. "I'm going to teach you the basics of violin playing."
Learning to play the violin in ten minutes is impossible, of course. Though they did their best, by the time they had to leave, Kuroko had only managed the basics of holding the violin correctly and stroking the bow without making a screeching sound every single time.
"Sheesh, this day is getting better and better." Mikoto muttered while Kuroko put the violin carefully into its case.
Kuroko had nothing to offer except her agreeable silence. There was no way she could play the violin in any convincing way, even if she inhabited the body of her Onee-sama. Apparently, skills didn't transfer like that.
"Well, I would be seriously freaked out if you suddenly knew something you shouldn't." Mikoto said. She looked just a bit troubled, but was keeping a leash on her stress. "By the way, you may want to stay away from the Queen for a while."
"Eh?" Kuroko looked up at her.
Mikoto told her about running into the other girl. Afterwards, she said: "It doesn't make sense, but for some reason she couldn't affect me with her power."
Kuroko hmm'ed thoughtfully. "Perhaps our abilities aren't completely gone, but lie dormant in a state where we cannot use them…?"
Mikoto sighed. "Whatever the reason, there's no way an esper is the culprit behind this. I'm starting to think it has another explanation entirely. But I have no idea what…"
Kuroko kept her mouth shut. This may have been the right moment to mention Asanuma-san and Hitomi-san, but without knowing for sure if they were even telling the truth… No, there was no reason to risk her life for something that may be completely unrelated to their mishap. And even if she did tell Mikoto about last night, it would not help them come closer to a solution.
In fact, it may only result in her being beaten to a pulp.
Feeling sweaty, she looked at the clock on the wall as a distraction, and her eyes widened. "Ah – Onee-sama! You have to get going!" Konori-senpai would be furious if she was late for another shift at work.
"Hm? Oh right, Judgment… I'll just take the bus over; I'll be there in no time. And you go straight to our room and place the violin on my desk after the recital, got it? I'll never forgive you if you drop it somewhere or…"
"Aaah, no worries, Onee-sama, your treasure is safe with me." Kuroko forced a smile onto her face.
"It's not a treasure or anything, but it'd be a pain to go buy a new one." Mikoto huffed. "Just don't mess up!"
After seeing Kuroko safely into the music room, Mikoto hurried off down the hallways to exit the school and catch a bus for Judgment HQ.
I can't believe I'm going to do Kuroko's job. The strangeness of this day didn't seem to let up in the least. But at least we don't have to worry about school any longer.
Exiting through the pompous oak doors with a few other students and trudging down the stairs to the finely built campus of Tokiwadai, she was so busy wracking her mind about their problem (Maybe I can use Judgment equipment to search for clues?) she didn't notice the group of students waiting for her before she nearly walked right into them. As she suddenly realized someone was blocking her path, a hand shot out and pushed her back; she stumbled backwards in surprise.
"What—?" Looking up, she was staring right at an unpleasant face. She recognized the girl from her own class – with half-long hair and intense blue eyes, she was one of the delinquents who had probably cornered Kuroko in the bathroom. Mikoto frowned. Now what?
"Hmf. You're her roommate, right?" A girl with short hair walked forward; she too, was from her own class. Her dangling purple earrings were quite the landmark.
"She is." The first girl said, a smirk adorning her otherwise cute face. "This is Misaka-san's number one servant, Shirai Kuroko. So, this is where we make our point?"
Mikoto gritted her teeth and stepped backwards. Why are these guys here? She glanced to the side and saw more girls surrounding her, counting their numbers up to ten. If it was for threatening, having this many people might be necessary. She forced her body to stay calm and gazed back at the girls in front of her.
"Do you know why we're here?" The girl with the purple earrings asked, her smirk nearly poisonous. "Has your great leader informed you of what's going on? Or is she so full of it she doesn't even care to warn her followers?"
Mikoto didn't answer, her eyes shooting everywhere looking for a way out. A few other girls left the school building, but they were engrossed in their own conversation and didn't even throw the group of people a look. But even if they're trying to intimidate me, they wouldn't start something right in front of school. Mikoto thought reassuringly. Unless they're aiming for a fullblown—
"If it's war the Railgun wants, then war she shall get." The girl with the purple earrings pulled a hand through her hair. "We of Atomics won't let the fact that she is a Level 5 get in our way."
Is she serious? Mikoto tensed, feeling sweat gather in her neck. Are they targeting me because of what happened between them and Kuroko in the bathroom? That idiot—!
"Oh my, she is too shocked to even speak." The other girl commented, one arm poised below her lush chest. She was staring at Mikoto with a smirk on her face, blue eyes twinkling. "Is this really the one that messed us up so good back in spring…? Well, I've been dying to pay her back for that."
Mikoto gritted her teeth again and straightened up – which didn't do much of an impression since Kuroko's body wasn't very tall. "You talk a lot, but it ends with that," she said. "You know that if you do anything here, the teachers will intervene and you will be punished."
"Oh yes, that may be the normal turn of events," the purple earrings said. "However, it seems the Queen herself has gotten you on the wrong side of her mood, and she has offered her cooperation if we are to take you out. The teachers won't notice anything, and they certainly won't come to your rescue."
Mikoto was feeling more and more cornered. If the Queen is really helping them out, there's no saying what they'll do. She crouched slightly, trying to be prepared for whatever may happen. She must have labeled me a threat after what happened in the library. Still, going to extremes like this – are they nuts? She hid her uncertainty and stared at the girls in front of her levelly. "Do you plan on taking me on, knowing I am a teleporter?" It was an empty threat, but it was worth a shot.
"Oh, we have our counter measures. Surely you realize that even your handy ability has its weaknesses."
Well, I'd be shocked if that worked. Mikoto carefully looked around. There was no-one nearby who could intervene. Most of the students had already left the school grounds, and the rest was busy with club activities. Right now, there were only them by the front entrance. Sweat shone on Mikoto's forehead as she gazed evenly at the girls in front of her. These two are Level 4 and 3; as for the other ones… She glanced sideways; she wasn't sure about the rest of the girls, but there was not much brain activity involved to know they were Level 3 at least.
"Well, if the Railgun really cares about her followers, I guess she might show up; but, I doubt that will happen." The girl with the blue eyes and well-developed chest changed her stance somewhat, pure confidence radiating from her being.
Mikoto watched them carefully, waiting for them to make the first move. The music room was sound-proof and located on the other side of the school; there was no way Kuroko would be able to notice. Even if she did though, there was no saying her coming here and threatening to fire another railgun would have the same effect as last time.
These girls were prepared to fight.
She gathered her courage and tensed as the blue-eyed girl inched her foot forward like a swordsman from the Samurai era slowly advancing on her opponent.
They already knew Kuroko was a teleporter. They must have been prepared in that regard, planning to face her on equal grounds. Maybe one of the girls around them had an ability to intervene in calculations or disturbing the sense of the 11 dimensions needed to move around; nevertheless, Mikoto had no choice but to assume they were prepared for a hard battle. Her only counter was that she would definitely not be teleporting; that may surprise them at least... but is it really a good thing, after all? She fought back the need to swallow a lump in her throat.
"I am a Judgment member you know." She said as a last resort. "Are you really prepared to be arrested for your actions?"
"Hmf." The blue-eyed girl gave a small snort, and then her lips curled up into another smirk. "Here I come!" She suddenly shot forward, and Mikoto bent down, trying to predict her movement – and was suddenly blasted by a stream of gray smoke. She clenched her eyes shut and coughed as it entered her lungs. When she opened her eyes again, she could see nothing but grey smoke twirling in the air in around her. Nuh – a smoke screen! She didn't know how it was made or who was responsible, but it could possibly be a result of several ability users cooperating to create the desired effect. It was probably used as a means to hinder any teleportation, since teleporting through unknown territory was foolish with the risk of splitting into another human. It was hardly necessary to use such a counter against Mikoto in that sense, but it still disrupted her view. She could hear someone running towards her, but from where—?
Suddenly, a foot was planted in her back.
"Guh-!" She was pushed forward, and rolled on the ground to stand up facing her attacker, only to be met with a knee directly in her solar plexus.
"Oof!" She crouched over, and the girl with the large breasts pushed her away through the smoke and disappeared from view again. Mikoto gritted her teeth, her stomach hurting too much for her to stand up right. She clutched at it tightly while throwing looks around and trying to breathe evenly. Damn, I can't see anything. How long before the smoke screen lifts? They'll probably just make a new one at that point though.
"Hyah!" Something shot out of the smoke just beside her.
"Gah—!" She barely managed to lift an arm as the shout startled her; the kick that had been aimed at her face was barely blocked, and she stepped backwards to relieve the impact. Her school bag was held in her left hand; she swung it fiercely in the direction of her attacker, but the person pulled back into the smoke.
Jeez, how annoying. She stepped backwards while breathing heavily, only to have an arm wound around her neck.
"Got you!" Someone pulled her into their chest, her neck secured by a strong arm. Mikoto gritted her teeth. I can't fight when I can't see them coming! In this sense, 'see' referred just as much to her electromagnetic sensory as her own two eyes. She had never been in a fight where she could not sense her opponents if they came from a blind spot – this was not the best time to start practicing.
"Kh-!" She swung the school bag in a wide bow from in front of her to hit the temple of whoever it was that was holding her captive. However her arm was grabbed before she could finish the blow. Shit—
"That's it, hold her there!" The smirking girl was charging at her through the smoke again, blue eyes glinting strangely. "Hehey, did you know I can see body heat?" She said, seeing Mikoto's stare. "Even through all this smoke, I can keep track on your movements, little teleporter girl!" She raised her fist, ready to punch.
Mikoto gritted her teeth and grabbed a hold of the arm around her neck with her own free arm. She then lifted both her feet off the ground and kicked forwards and up – hitting the charging girl squarely in the jaw.
"Naissa-senpai!" The one holding her captive was shocked to see her senior bash into the ground – Mikoto made use of the one second's confusion and elbowed her in the ribs, and then planted her heel into the foot of the other girl. The girl didn't react with more than a wince, but the grip around her neck loosened just enough for Mikoto to wriggle out, and then she was off. I'm glad I didn't have to stab her with a spike at least. Now to get out…
She hadn't run more than few meters before someone else swung a weapon at her head with a startling cry – she ducked and felt the sword swipe past the straws of her hair – only to have them burned off with a sizzling sound. She felt a surge of panic in her chest. That was close!
The girl who had been holding her captive had charged after her when she ran, but stopped now and pulled back in the face of the newcomer. Maybe she didn't want to risk being hit by that weapon. So they're not that coordinated. Not that it helps me much. Mikoto backed off when the girl in front of her continued to swing the weapon at her furiously. It looked like a sword, but it was not made of wood or iron; it was shimmering, and each strike made a weird buzz in the air. It was probably created with the girl's ability, just like how Mikoto could create iron sand swords using magnetism. Her temple throbbed as if reminded of the meeting with Unabara-san earlier today, though she doubted a hit from this weapon would end in just a painful smack.
In any case, there was no way she could come close with this kind of opponent!
"Hiyaah!" The girl made a furious swipe downwards, hitting the ground in a burst of sparks and even cutting right through it. Mikoto jumped backwards in a dodge, then turned on the spot while the girl was still in the process of pulling her sword out. Using the centrifugal force form her spin, Mikoto sent her school bag flying like a square Frisbee – striking the girl directly in the nose.
"Wah!" Clamping a hand over her bleeding face, the girl collapsed to the ground on her knees, while the sword dispersed into the air. Mikoto grinned contently. I'm not called Tokiwadai's ace for nothing!
"Utena-san!" The girl who had been watching charged forward to help her friend. Mikoto ran past them both, picking up the school bag in the process. She had to find a way out of the smoke to be able to see, and then escape. Even if she knocked these girls to the ground they were not unable to stand up again, so she was potentially facing ten opponents still – and she suspected they hadn't all used their abilities. Hopefully this smoke disabled their senses just as much as hers.
"God, get this poison out of my sight!" Someone called out in front of her, and a breath of air charged past. Mikoto stopped and shielded her face at the sharp burst of wind. While it was not enough to knock her down, it was efficient for blowing the smoke away.
"Stop it Clarissa-san, that's our trump card against the teleporter!" Someone yelled.
"Hmph!" The girl who was revealed in front of Mikoto was a longhaired beauty with a frown on her face. "She hasn't even teleported once, has she? Even in closed space, teleporting an attacker a meter or two to the side shouldn't be so dangerous as to risk injury by holding back." She stared right at Mikoto as she spoke, eyes glowing with animosity and a small smile forming on her lips. "Maybe she is too shook up to concentrate?"
Mikoto gritted her teeth and stepped back, eyeing the remaining opponents that were clearly visible once the smoke drifted off. The girl with the purple earrings still stood, sneering. The other girl from her class, Naissa-san, was on her knees on the ground clutching her mouth, with two girls running over to help her stand up; and the girl who'd received the schoolbag right in the face was still bleeding, being carried out of the ring by a worried looking girl who looked like she belonged to the weight lifting club if anything. Apart from those two however, the rest of the girls still looked fit for battle, including the two flanking the longhaired girl. Mikoto felt sweaty. While she knew how to put up a fight, she was nowhere near as experienced with martial arts as Kuroko, and these girls were hardly on the same level as the normal gang of thugs in Academy City's back alleys.
The proud-looking girl in front of her stepped forward. "How come you aren't using your ability, Shirai Kuroko-san?"
Mikoto paid her no heed, keeping a close eye on the others that still surrounded her. If I try to run for it, they'll…
"Even with Aina-san's ability to limit your own movement through the 11 dimensions, you should be able to teleport others, isn't that right?" The third-year in front of her continued, ignoring the glares she received from the others for revealing their tactics. "Are you not willing to fight for your honor? Are you not proud enough to stand up for your position as the closest follower to Misaka Mikoto?"
Always about followers and allies; why can't someone just be my friend? Mikoto was fuming inside; the thought that these girls would even try to target someone like this because they happened to be her friend, was infuriating.
"I have no reason to fight you." She said at last, her voice calm and levelheaded despite the situation.
"Even so, when faced with such a threat, you won't even try to defend yourself?" The girl seemed honestly puzzled.
Mikoto grinned. "You don't consider what has transpired up to now to be defending myself? Well, your allies certainly don't have much value in your eyes, do they? That's despicable."
The girl kept watching her, unfazed.
"I can fight without using my ability." Mikoto continued. "More importantly, you are not so important that you are worth using my ability on!"
This announcement nearly echoed in their ears; for a moment, everyone was quiet. It looked like the girl with the purple earrings was about to burst from rage though; and the girl in front of Mikoto suddenly smirked. "I see. How arrogant. But I don't hate that. In fact, I think such bravery deserves to be taken seriously." She pulled a hand through her short fringe. Then she put it out, like a huntress commanding her tigers to attack. "Nagisa, Yuki – get her."
"Hai, Clarissa-san!" The two girls at her side both answered loyally, and while one of them charged forward like a panther assaulting its prey, the other girl made a stance with two fingers to her forehead, staring at Mikoto intently. Now what? Mikoto pulled back when the first girl reached her and punched – she missed her face when Mikoto pulled her head sideways. Her eyes widened. She's got metal knuckles on her hands; what is this, a street fight? The girl opened her hand and grabbed a hold of one of the flying pigtails – shit! Mikoto barely had time to curse her carelessness before pain exploded in her body as the girl pulled her forward by her hair and kneed her in the stomach again.
"Guah—!" Mikoto coughed up saliva, her insides screaming in pain, and the girl moved her other hand in to punch from the side – Mikoto raised the school bag almost on instinct, blocking the fist by having the bag shoved into her side in its place. Even through that, she could feel the metal knuckles pressing against her ribs.
The girl grinned. "Do you want to know what my ability is?"
Mikoto's eyes widened as she noticed the small sparks from her skin. Electro—! She let go off the bag just as the girl unleashed a high-volt discharge from her fist. She managed to pull her hair out of the hand holding it and span away from the immediate danger. She had no idea whether she was still immune to electric-based attacks, but she didn't want to find out right now.
Breathing heavily, she stared at the opponent in front of her, while still eying the others around them. Even when they're attacking me just a few at a time, it's difficult to keep them off. She could see the other girls surrounding her in the corner of her eyes. They're just biding their time. This was obviously not a fight where they attempted to beat her – or to them, Kuroko – fast and efficiently; they wanted to make a point. To show off their strength, to intimidate…she furrowed her brow, lungs still gasping down air. What a cowardly way of making a point!
Baaziit! Something charged past her neck with the speed of light – her eyes widened as she felt the heat on her skin, and something exploded into the stairs behind her.
"Oh, you better not stand still for too long." The Electromaster girl in front of her grinned. "Yuki can fire lethal beams of laser – and the less you move, the easier it becomes to hit you!"
What! Mikoto was honestly terrified now – and the girl in front of her charged forth again, electric charges surrounding her fist.
"If you just stand there looking stupid, you'll get electrified!"
Mikoto gritted her teeth. It doesn't matter if she can't fire it from range – it'll probably hurt if she hits me!
"Yah!" The girl punched at her again – Mikoto dodged sideways, and felt another searing hot beam charge past her face only to explode into the stairs beyond. Uwaah, are they seriously trying to kill me? Perhaps they were expecting her to start using her ability in order to survive – but there was no way she could do that. Even if I did have Kuroko's ability, I wouldn't know how to use it! There wasn't like a manual inside her brain existed, and besides, there was no reason to believe they had changed abilities to begin with. If we did swap them Kuroko should be able to sense her surroundings due to the electromagnetic waves she'd be emitting – but she can't. I can only assume our abilities have been locked, or something like that!
Whatever it was, it meant she had no esper ability to fight with. And in this kind of setting, that was not good. How am I supposed to fight like this! She dodged another punch, pulling backwards while the other girl advanced with a grin that suggested she was having fun.
"How long will you keep up that 'too-good-to-use-my-ability-on-you' attitude, eh?" The girl punched again, and when Mikoto tried to avoid it this time, she tripped backwards and fell.
"Wah!" She hit the ground, and the Electromaster was right above her.
"Got you now!" She grabbed Mikoto's collar and pushed her down, grinning widely. "Take this!" The electric currents sprang forth from her hands – Mikoto clenched her eyes shut and cried out as the pain shot through her being.
"Guah!" She convulsed as the electric currents affected her nerves, and the pain enveloped her brain for a split second. Then, the electric currents that had stricken her body faded off, leaving her to breathe harshly as a tingling sensation overtook her body. Grimacing, she opened her eyes in small squints. That hurt… "...damnit." She coughed.
"Eh?" The girl above her sounded puzzled.
Mikoto forced her eyes open and looked up at a confused face. Now that the pain was gone, she felt shaky all over, as if her nerves were still trembling from the treatment.
"You're not...?" The girl looked positively perplexed. "But I just launched my full power at you…"
"Eeh?" Mikoto was able to speak, though her voice shook just a tiny bit. "That was your full power?" It wasn't meant as a joke to make of fun of the other girl. It had hurt, but she was still conscious. There was no way that attack had been the strongest a Level 3 or 4 Electromaster could dish out.
"That was 900,000 volts!" The other girl barked, reddening now. "How come you can still move-?"
900,000 volts, eh… about three times as much as a standard stun gun. Even if the girl hadn't meant to kill, something like that would normally knock a human out in the very least.
"Ohohoho!" Suddenly, someone was laughing. It was none of the girls surrounding them, who all seemed just as surprised at the failed electrification; it was a very familiar laugh, in fact.
Mikoto turned her head to look up at the staircase she was currently laying at the bottom of; standing there, a red and black fan in her hand, was a long-haired, proudly poised girl.
"Kongou-san!" Mikoto was surprised and relieved to see a friendly face. There had been too many dreadful encounters today.
"Will you keep on assaulting this girl, knowing that she is one of Kongou Mitsuko's friends?" The pompous second-year asked, gesturing with her fan at the couple of girls at the bottom of the stairs.
"Who the heck is that?" One of the surrounding girls asked, but was only answered with shrugs.
"Furthermore, will you keep trying to beat her with that useless electricity, even when knowing that her roommate already treats her to that kind of thing on a daily basis? She is obviously quite used to it." Unfazed by their failure to recognize her, Kongou-san kept standing there with a pleased smile on her lips.
Mikoto's eyes widened. "Is that why…?" It would explain a thing or two about Kuroko's reactions to her punishments in the least, but still…
The girl above her gritted her teeth, before glaring up at Kongou-san. "That is ridiculous! No-one can take 900,000 volts of electricity head on like it's nothing!"
"Oh, but she just did, did she not?" Kongou-san smirked. "Or are you suggesting your attack is not as strong as you claim?" She gave a theatrical sigh. "In any case, if you wanted to kill her you should be able to stop her heart with a single volt, no? Or are you, Nagisa-san, not able to control the current that precisely?"
The girl known as Nagisa-san was literally burning to a crisp. "Will you shut up you moron! What the hell are you doing here anyway? Yuki, shoot her down!"
The girl with the laser shot ability turned her attention on Kongou-san, putting two fingers to her forehead while a concentrated look appeared in her eyes. Mikoto could see now that the girl's charge time was quite obvious, which meant that even if the beam itself travelled at the speed of light, it was possible to see when she was about to fire and then make a run for it.
"Woop!" Kongou-san saw the same, and ran off to the side just as a sizzling charge the size of a finger appeared in the air in front of the other girl's face. The beam was fired a moment later, but Kongou-san had already moved; as a result, it missed Kongou-san and instead hit the wall of the school, where it exploded in a myriad of dust and left a small crater in the expensive bricks.
The girl on top of Mikoto panicked. "Gaah! Yuki, don't destroy the school!" It may be too late to be saying this now, as the staircase already sported two similar craters.
"Well!" Kongou-san stood proudly again, lifting her fan without a care. "If that is your answer, how about I pull out my greatest trump card!"
"Trump card? Is she powerful?" Some of the girls suddenly looked uneasy.
Kongou-san put her fan out like a general commanding her troops. "Behold, the elite forces of Tokiwadai! The Misaka Mikoto Fan Club; emerge!"
She was answered by a whole lot of 'what the hell?' expressions, but didn't seem to mind. Even Mikoto found what she just heard to be a tad bit unbelievable.
However, Kongou-san was not a girl to come with incredible lies. Nehever. As proof, a group of girls suddenly appeared from seemingly nowhere to surround them all. They seemed to count more than 20 – quite possibly the entire club had been gathered. They may have been able to mask their presence or stay hidden using some of the member's abilities; as such, it looked like the entire group just appeared from thin air.
"What is this?" The regal girl who had blown away the smoke earlier looked around haughtily. "The Misaka Mikoto Fan Club? What a surprise. I thought you would be the last ones willing to help her despised roommate."
One of the girls in the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club stepped forward. She looked pretty determined. "While Shirai-san might be our sworn enemy, it is no doubt that her injury would cause Misaka-sama great distress! As loyal supporters, we need to prevent that!"
Mikoto was surprised. It may be true that she would be upset if that idiot was hurt, but hearing these girls say so was unexpected.
"I happened to overhear your sinister plan earlier," Kongou-san explained, smirking confidently at the top of the stairs. "I saw that Shirai-san would most likely be in a pinch, and called in a few favors. Now then!" She pointed her fan in the general direction of the first assault force. "Are you prepared to take us all on?"
"Geh—!" The purple earrings girl looked around uneasily, while several of her companions frowned or threw insecure looks at the club members that had suddenly surrounded them. Even as a Level 5, standing up against 20 or more Level 3's and 4's would be quite the challenge. No wonder the assaulters seemed uncertain all of the sudden.
However one did not lose her stature.
"Ahahah, what an oversight on our part." Clarissa-san, the girl who looked like she'd fit the nickname 'Queen' even better than Shokuhou Misaki (based on her stances at least), merely laughed regally. "To be discussing our plans in the hallways where anyone can hear is quite stupid indeed." She shot a brief look at the girl with the purple earrings, who reddened considerably.
"So you see that you have no choice but to surrender." Kongou-san boasted. "That is fine; I, Kongou Mitsuko, accept your withdrawal."
"Do not be too hasty in your conclusions over there," the other girl smirked. "While we did plan on confronting only Shirai Kuroko, we were prepared in case someone else showed up."
She made a flick with her hand; suddenly, a whole bunch of girls came dashing towards them from outside the gates and around the corners of the school.
"Behold; The Queen's Chosen!"
The Misaka Mikoto Fan Club was suddenly surrounded by a gang of girls who didn't quite match their numbers alone, but with the already present force that had attacked Mikoto they may just be equal.
Mikoto gaped. The girl sitting atop her also seemed rather confused, as she was staring at the scene unfolding and saying; "What the heck is going on?"
All the other girls that were part of the first assault force looked pretty perplexed at this turn of events; quite possibly, the girl called Clarissa-san had not indulged the others in her proactive plans.
"Now then; our numbers outrank yours!" The girl with the majestic poses smiled thinly up at Kongou-san. "Are you sure you wish to carry this out?"
"Perhaps you ought to learn to count," Kongou-san sighed. "But even so, surely you realize that mere numbers mean nothing in a setting like this? This is where our abilities and co-operation between ability users come into play. The superior will outshine the inferior!"
"Is that so? Then, let us see who will be victorious, why not?"
"Let us! Girls: Commence battle!"
Like an army from the Middle Ages, the girls surrounding them let out a battle cry – the first beams and rattling explosions sounded as the Misaka Mikoto Fan Club and the Queen's Chosen furiously attacked each other and the first assaulters; soon enough, blasts from different kinds of abilities struck out while protective shields and other defensive abilities were utilized to minimize the damage. The Electromaster girl above Mikoto apparently decided that helping her comrades came first, and got off her abdomen to run off into the fray, electric currents snapping from her body.
Mikoto sat up, staring at the scene that was playing out. The myriad of different abilities created a stunning sight. Even if one esper may have restrictions on her own ability, those could be greatly lifted once teaming up with others. Abilities that helped each other out were not uncommon, like an Aerokinetic feeding oxygen to the flame of a Pyrokinetic, making it stronger, or an Aquakinetic helping an Electromaster's charges to travel further and faster. It was quite spectacular, and was part of the reason why a school consisting mostly of espers would severely beat a school consisting mostly of Level 0's during the Daihaseisai.
But right now, that was not the case. At this moment, two groups were facing each other, and they were all Level 3 espers or above. The result of this kind of battle, while amazing to the eye, could only be disastrous. Mikoto, who was still inhabiting Kuroko's body and not able to use her own ability at the moment, had no place in this. If she was caught in the crossfire here, she'd surely be injured or worse.
"Shirai-san!" Kongou-san came running down the stairs to help her up to her feet. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah… thanks." Mikoto said, getting up and brushing off her uniform. While her body was still feeling the mistreatment it had just been subject to, it was letting up strangely quick. Perhaps Kuroko's uncanny stamina was kicking in.
With a pleased smirk on her face, Kongou-san sighed theatrically. "My, to think the great Shirai-san needed help from me, Kongou Mitsuko." She put her hands on her hips and raised her chin proudly. "Surely you will now see my elegancy as something extraordinary you have never before witnessed. Ohohoho!"
Mikoto blinked at her. "Aah, yeah, it's quite something. Um… so now what?" She looked back at the scene ahead, seeing explosions of lasers, electricity, fire and water clashing together with gusts of wind, invisible force shields and inhuman speed. This was bound to draw attention in one way or another. Furthermore, seeing how this turned out the Queen may decide to retreat any moment, leaving the teachers to come to their senses and butt in.
"Ohoho, there is no need for you to worry. Everything is under con- uwaah!" Kongou-san suddenly ducked when a wild ball of fire came hurtling at her head. "Who did that!" She barked. "Dare you challenge me, knowing that I am Kongou Mitsuko!" And off she went, into the fray of battle.
Mikoto did not hesitate to use this moment to escape. It may be the coward's way out, but there really was no reason for her to linger anymore. Let them fight on their own. Sorry, Kongou-san!
Picking up Kuroko's school bag, she ran for the gates as fast as she could, as if she was a soldier trying her luck on a minefield by sprinting right over and hoping that no mines would go off if she just went fast enough. She thought she heard someone yelling to stop her, but whoever it was must have been stopped themselves since nobody took up the chase.
As she left the Tokiwadai school grounds behind, she sincerely hoped none of this would be blamed on her or Kuroko, or they were looking at a very long line of detentions.
At least there's no way things can get worse than this!
Title says it all, I guess. More problems. As many as I could think of, in fact. Plus a few more. I'm certain I could have come up with even more if I used more time, but this has been in the works for long enough, so…
I won't pretend I know anything about Botswana or the quantum field theory. Thank Wikipedia for providing information so I can sound professional. I do my research, but it's limited how much work I put into every single topic. If any of it is off this time, please just pretend you didn't notice(...).
Damn this chapter is long. Every time I read it, I feel like by the time I reach the end of it, I can't remember the beginning (strictly speaking that's not true, but well). Such a long chapter is much harder to edit and balance than a shorter one, but I tried anyway. Hopefully it is satisfactory!
Words and terms:
Genkun (厳訓) = "strict instruction".
Ara = Something like "oh" or "my!"; a word fine ladies may use.
Next time: After-school problems