10 years.

I thought I would have some great thoughts or comments or special chapter to celebrate having 10 years worth of writing this fanfiction, but I seriously have nothing. This is the end of an arc (this wasn't timed actually so it's purely coincidental) so I guess that's something but there's nothing really spectacular to say. I guess, if there's anything, I really want to thank those who have read, beta-read and otherwise supported me in this fanfic which has had its ups and downs when it comes to both writing and story. I'm trying to improve both so I hope you can enjoy it all the same, but I really want to thank you all who are reading this for your support in what I've done.

You're the reason I'm here and I hope this way of me giving back to you is something that you feel is worth it.

But enough with the sappiness!

Here we are once again!

As I said, this is the final chapter of this arc! As you can see, while Shutaura was the start of this arc and it was her character that was the focus of this arc, in the end, the person who also has to look at who Touma is has yet to make another appearance! It's time for all that to change though so I hope you can look forward to this chapter which ALSO sets the scene for the next arc!

But for whatever the case, I hope you can feel this chapter was worth the wait it took to get this chapter to you!

Before we begin, the Q & A:

Cyber dragonarmy: I'm glad that you pointed out the lens of hero worship – I definitely think that some of the cast treat Touma in that way. I hope you can look forward to the consequences of Mikoto's actions. But yeah, Railgun got Astral Buddy which is a Railgun spin off as well as Mental Out which is another spin off so it's crazy to see how many spin offs there are in Index so I hope you look forward to it. It's going to be weird once Index ends as it's been going on for that long…

Purifies Miracles: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too! I hope yours was a good one!

patiphat1998: Thanks so much for the kind words.

craytherlay: Come to think of it, I gave Uiharu so much suffering that I made her less savage than she usually is… But thanks so much for your words – I really like how Touma goes and saves people who did wrong but are not necessarily bad people. I hope you can enjoy what happens with Eiyuu from now on; they're going to see how being a 'hero' is a tough job with everything that is happening in Academy City. I'd be interested to see how Misaki would actually react if Touma rejected her; I get the feeling that she has a maturity that is underestimated at times. I think that there are times where Mikoto trusts Touma unconditionally, but not necessarily the other way around – like you said, they are different characters with different mindsets so it's unreasonable to think they would trust each other unconditionally like that. I have to say that even in the canon novels Othinus has taken out her jealousy on Touma though? As for Lessar and Birdway acting like they had never met before, that's not intentional and definitely not how I imagined anyone would read that scene, haha. As for who Lessar is referring to, you're also misreading who is speaking. It's Birdway who is speaking there and the guy she's referring to is Stiyl: in the Birdway SS where she meets Touma for the first time Stiyl saves Patricia's life (I'm surprised you haven't read this).

5queso: Hahaha, thanks so much for your kind words! I hope you can look forward to who the new arc is going to be focused on! I hope that I can continue to provide quality content, even though recent months have been slow on the writing front for me.

LoneVirgo98: When has it never not been chaotic!? I hope you can look forward to see the developments with Index, especially with how fragile her mental state is right now. But I also hope you can look forward to what happens with Mikoto – as a child I felt like she would naturally make excuses to someone she looks up to. When will the Kamijou Faction be formed in reality is the real question!

TheDarkPublisher: I hope you can look forward to seeing more of Mari! But keep an eye on Otohime in this chapter as hopefully your questions will be answered… We'll have to see what happens overall though with this final chapter. As for a Kaibi arc, I don't think I have one played, but Kaibi will definitely play a role in future arcs (I've already written in some of her scenes).

xellos540: Oh well, if you're asking whether Touma has a bunch of girls who are interested in him romantically, then the answer is "Yes", there are. Let's see what happens with the Kamijou Faction going forward, shall we? I'll leave it to your imagination which the General thinks Touma stole from him… I think the main difference between Misaki and Mikoto in that they 'betrayed' Touma is that Misaki knew she did wrong but Mikoto doesn't regret hurting Orion at all; what she regrets is what happened to her relationship with Touma as a result. I didn't want to have the development of Itsuwa betraying Necessarius last too long, especially with how long each chapter is and how long a wait is between chapters. I think that although Index doesn't understand the specifics of the problems of the Science side, she is more aware of them than other people in the series.

ShadowBloodedge9396: Okaeri! It's interesting to see how Touma putting others on a pedestal is now hurting HIM as well as hurting others. Hopefully everything is OK with you if you were on crunch time during the end of last year.

tommthecommie: What exactly is a "Misaka L"?

Commander Lance: I'm going to have to put in some more Metal Gear references in this story…

whwsms: You'll have to see where things head from here…

rcz906: I'm glad that you noted that, for Mikoto, she feels as though she has done nothing wrong and it's the CONSEQUENCES of her actions that she regrets, not the actions themselves. In the end, Touma has placed Mikoto on this pedestal that she has to comply with and he's now facing the consequences of putting his trust in her like that. In the end, this entire fic is about 'discovery' of Touma and who he is, so it's also something that I wanted Touma to discover in others and how he goes about learning how THEY are and what they mean to him.

K: Thanks for the words and what you pointed out; a lot of is really interesting. I think in the sense that I said that 'Mikoto is irreplaceable' is more from the fact that although Touma has all these allies around him, there's only ONE Mikoto and Touma doesn't think she can be replaced that easily. However, I do have to say that Touma's self-pity and self-righteousness is intentional and meant to fit in with his character: by all rights, Mikoto is the one who did wrong so Touma doesn't have to feel bad about it so he's placing all of this pressure on himself for no reason.

chiengrhyan07: Glad you're enjoying yourself!

And the thank to you, the reader. I said it before but really, thanks so much for being here and supporting me. This story goes through a lot of waiting and then fighting and then explanations and yet, here you still are. For that alone, I want you to know that you have my endless thanks for the effort and time you have put into this story. I don't know how many of you read the thanks but seriously, to those of you who don't and those of you who do, thank you. I'm trying to make this as strong a story as possible for everyone involved so I hope you can look forward to this chapter.

But whatever the case, let's get this show on the road. I hope you guys do what you always do when it comes to these:


Mr Question Mark.


It might have seemed small and it might have seemed like nothing more than an insignificant thing to anyone in the world.

But in a way, the greatest things and the greatest connections in the world were formed through them.

The phone rang in Kamijou Touma's back pocket.

He gave it little thought as he brought out the phone, two girls by his side, and stared at the number displayed. Looking at the number, he did not realise he had even had the number in his contacts list in the first place, but the caller ID clearly came up with a single name he had come to know so well over the past few days.

Without even thinking about it, he spoke that name.



There was a lot to be said about them, but like anything, there were good and bad points about them. Sometimes you met someone who you would form a fast friendship with, while on the other hand, you would form a deep resentment towards them for some reason or another. Meetings usually resulted in feelings of either like or dislike and it was truly rare that one, when experiencing a meeting with someone entirely new, came out with an indifferent feeling.

Even if you said you were indifferent, there was always a small thought in the back of your head about whether you wanted to meet the person you had just met or not again.

In a way, meetings in themselves and the connections you formed with others were a miracle.

The fact that two people, who were born and lived in the world could come to meet each other in a world filled with 7 or 8 billion people or so was a miracle. Naturally, any feelings that came from such did not consider such a thing, but in its own way, the feelings you felt after meeting someone were a miracle in itself given how important meetings were.

Yet, for Tatsugami Otohime, she could not think of the meeting she had had with a particular person as being a miracle. Instead, if any meeting was a miracle, then the person she had met was the one exception to the rule: the type of miracle one experienced that made her want to curse the world for giving it to her.

When Kamijou Touma had regained consciousness, Otohime had felt that was the only thing she needed to know. While she did not know how that boy had managed to escape from a 30 storey pit into hell practically unscathed, the worry she had felt for her cousin was more important to her than the answering of such questions. In a way, she just did not care what the answers to those questions were and just seeing her cousin regain consciousness was the only reassurance she needed.

Kamijou Touma was safe and here with the living.

There was nothing else she needed to know.

Which meant it was time for her to do the things she had to do.

It might not have seemed like it given how close Otohime clung to her cousin, but she was technically not a student here. From the outside and here on cultural exchange to learn more about Academy City from an objective perspective, the things she had learned and come across in the forms of people and technology continued to astound her.

The things she had learned on both the Magic and the Science side had transformed her in a way, particularly the former. The Dragon Tooth spiritual item she wore as a necklace allowed the transformation of her life force into mana despite Otohime having gone through no training whatsoever and it was that power she had harnessed and used in the various incidents she had come across with her cousin.

She had wanted to save someone.

That was why she had chosen the Magic Name of Salvare001. She had wanted to save the boy who had saved so many yet seemed so lost and without anyone grabbing his hand.

Tatsugami Otohime had merely wanted to save Kamijou Touma in her own way as well as learning from him and applying what she learnt when it came to saving others.

But it had all been ruined.

Otohime barely knew anything of what was going on.

She did not understand the concepts of the underground war between Magic and Science. The only people with the biggest picture of that war were Kamijou Touma, Index and Othinus who had received briefings on both sides. Everyone else only understood their side and did not understand enough of what was happening on the other side even if they had managed to catch a glimpse of what was happening there.

Three people were the only ones with the biggest picture in an underground war where pieces and people were being moved around like game pieces on a chess board. Someone was watching from above and staring at their actions, laughing at them for how they fought against the system; that much was clear.

But to the single girl who had come across new power, she barely understood any of that.

She did not know what Kihara Kamui and MINUS were up to and why they wanted Shutaura Sequenzia last night. Because she had not been in the consultation session with Yume, she did not know the adults were starting to build their forces against that madman.

She knew nothing of Personality Swipe which was the project to switch a male's personality with Kamui's, the FIVE_Object being built which was the massive weapon capable of using Level 5 powers, the Break Queen Package which was a form changing cyborg which was to have a human consciousness uploaded into it or the ZERO_Over Modelcase_"IMAGINE_BREAKER" which was a project to replicate Imagine Breaker using nanomachines, even if it was useless.

She knew nothing of how Shutaura Sequenzia had been targeted because of how her consciousness and Meigo Arisa's consciousness had fused together, something that Kamui wanted to study as to understand how it worked for when he fused a human and AI consciousness together for the Break Queen Package.

Likewise, she did not know anything on the Magic side.

She did not know Harmonia's Cradle was judged to be far too dangerous to operate within Academy City. She did not know that because of the danger of Index succumbing to the grimoire in her mind, Kanzaki Kaori and Stiyl Magnus of Necessarius had been tasked to enter this City with the job of 'dealing' with her. How they were going to that, either through removing the part of her mind dealing with the sentient grimoire or just observing her to see how things went, was unknown.

Neither did Otohime know that Leivinia Birdway of the Dawn-Coloured Sunlight and Lessar of New Light had also entered this City. Their reasons for such were unknown but given they had come with Kanzaki and Stiyl, it seemed their goals, at this stage, aligned.

The only thing Otohime knew was that if something was going to happen in the future in Academy City, then there was one place her cousin would stand. Because of his desire to ensure as many people could have a smile on their face, he was not going to turn his back on the upcoming fights and run away.

He was a hero.

He was Otohime's ideal and someone she strove to be.

Yet, the heroism she strove to create with her own hands had been tainted.

She had met someone who had stepped all over her dream. She had met a poison on the world, a disease that infected the world with darkness and was the one thing she had met which had prevented her from being able to save the people she had wanted to save.

Just as meetings brought forth miracles, this miracle she had encountered was one she wished to remove and reverse.

Otohime had thought she had dealt with that disease. That she had culled the weed and made the world a slightly better place because of it. That she had removed the distortion preventing her from saving anybody and thus, had given herself a world where she could truly save people and be responsible for the smiles on their face.

But like a disease, it had come back. It had been impossible to kill and it came back to perform its darkness. It had come back to spread its poison on the world.

Tatsugami Otohime had felt she had dealt with her arch nemesis. She had felt she had dealt with the barrier preventing herself from becoming stronger. She had felt that by throwing that archenemy five stories and turning him into a splatter on the ground that she would have been rid of him.

Yet she had not and somehow, he had come back from the dead.

Orion Phoenix, despite Otohime having 'killed' him, had returned and spread the same death he always did. His world was filled with blood and violence and he had seeped that poison into Otohime's world and prevented her from being able to save anybody.

Otohime knew in her heart that Orion did not deserve to be saved. The evil he was, for causing the incidents with Kongou and bringing nothing but pain, was undeniable. The darkness he would spread was all consuming.

He needed to be dealt with and Otohime had felt she had done so.

But he had come back.

Otohime, when she had seen that boy after she had thrown him five stories but was still alive, had never felt so afraid. She had felt she had overcome that obstacle, that she was grown as a hero by dealing with the truest evil she had known. Otohime had felt that by killing that evil which could truly not be saved that the world would be safer and better place for it.

But seeing him rise again, much like his name suggested, drove more fear into her heart than she ever felt possible.

She had called him her archenemy.

And like every archenemy, was throwing them five stories really enough to kill them?

Otohime did not know what it would take to finally rid the world of that evil, but she did know she was scared. Terrified even of that boy and the evil he would spread.

If he was left alive and left to his own devices which was nothing more than spreading death and destruction, then who knew how far he would push others? Who knew who would die because of him?

And more importantly…

Who knew how badly he would hurt Otohime's idol in the process?

Kamijou Touma had already been kidnapped and lost an arm because of Orion Phoenix. For that crime alone, as well as the many others, he deserved to die. For spreading darkness and despair where it was not needed, for making Otohime see such massacres as she had and see such death, he deserved exactly what she had dealt out.

The universe needed balance. An eye for an eye.

And Otohime, as a hero, was going to be the one to deliver that justice. As a hero, the one task she had to accomplish was making sure the world was a safer place for those she loved. Getting rid of that mercenary was by far the only task for her to grow as a hero in her eyes.

She had told everyone else that she was going 'bird watching'. Such was not a lie…although, in Otohime's mind, what she was going to do when she caught this 'bird' of hers was do more than just watch it.

Tatsugami Otohime had been given power. But she had been unable to use that power for the purpose she had wanted. Which meant it was only right that she balance the scales and deal with the element preventing her from using her power as she wanted to.

Such was her role as a hero.

Otohime did not know how she would progress once her archenemy was defeated, but she knew one thing.

The changes the Dragon Tooth had been giving her were welcome ones. Although Otohime currently had three spells underneath her belt, the changes the Dragon Tooth had done to her body had been entirely different. While she did not know what the standard was for spiritual items, the sharpness and heightened senses they had given Otohime were changes coming over her she had only noticed and put to use in the past few days.

Had this been happening to her the moment she had taken on the Dragon Tooth? Otohime did not know, but what she did know was that her senses and reaction times after taking on the Dragon Tooth had increased significantly. Barely even registering the changes at first, over the past few days, it was through small things that she had come to realise the changes the spiritual item was doing to her.

Being able to smell the meals Kamijou cooked for her with so much detail that she felt full just from getting a whiff.

Being able to see the details on the airships flying over the City with a much keener eye, seeing even the slightest of imperfections in the bodywork of said airship if she wanted to.

Being able to hear things from longer distances than she ever thought possible.

Feeling the world around her through her skin and being able to pick up on small changes around her just through touch.

And also, being able to taste and experience flavours a lot better.

It was that last point which had meant Otohime had almost passed out on numerous occasions from the sensory overload her cousin's cooking gave her. While that was a change that Otohime had struggled to deal with in that it made eating an exercise of trying to stay conscious as her mouth exploded with flavours, the other changes were ones she used now in a predatorial way.

She had caught his scent.

It had come from the hospital where her cousin was always staying and had spurred Otohime into action better than any motivational speech or threat to her life. The fact such an evil was in the same space as her cousin when she was looking for him in the first place made her tremble with even more fear while thinking about Kamijou's safety.

But it only solidified in her mind the urgency of what she needed to do.

Orion Phoenix, if she could sense him so close to a hospital, was around that place of healing. Given the things he had already done, what else would he do which would plunge the world into a hellfire and cause more pain and suffering?

As a hero, Otohime knew she had to deal with him to make the world a safer and better place.

Not only for herself but also the people she wanted to protect above everything else.

Otohime stopped running, wiping her sweat from her face as she looked around herself in the spot where the scent she had caught was. Ever since she had parted from Kamijou and everyone else, she had been running through Academy City, trying to pick up whatever scent she could from what she remembered from Orion. As much as she wanted to forget the scent of that mercenary, right now, the stench of the blood flowing through his veins she was never going to forget.

After all, it was only natural for a Dragon to perfectly hunt down the Phoenix as their prey.

She had managed to catch a whiff of the foul stench after she had thrown him five stories and his body had become a grotesque flower on the ground, but she had discarded the thought of remembering it. It was only after she had seen him alive and well again that she had bothered to commit it to memory.

What she had not expected while travelling through Academy City though was for the first scent she picked up to go back into the hospital she had come from. It had smelt the strongest on the floor where Shutaura was staying but Otohime had smelt Shutaura's scent leaving the hospital, suggesting she was fine. What Orion had wanted with Shutaura Otohime was unsure but had not considered it anymore than she needed to; catching the scent and following it to where Otohime was now.

It was a small park on the outskirts of the hospital.

The sandpit in front of Otohime was filled with small children, laughing and playing. They chased each other around the playground there, some on the swings and others pushing, some running and throwing sand at each other whereas there were some just content in staring at the bushes and the small insects probably crawling along a leaf. The scene itself was one filled with tranquillity and it gave Otohime a moment's pause as she stared at it, feeling a small smile on her face.

This was what she wanted to protect all this time. This was the type of scene she had been desperate to make sure was not stained and tainted with the poison Orion had to offer.

These smiles were what she had to make sure were not touched by the evil her archenemy had to offer.

Otohime felt she would have been content just standing there and looking at those children playing. Why they were playing in this playground so close to the hospital was unknown but to Otohime, she did not care. Seeing them with those smiles on their faces was more than she could ever ask for. Even if Otohime was at an age where she could play with them and not have others staring at her in surprise, she was happy just looking. As if it were an energy to be absorbed, Otohime could feel the raw happiness in the laughter of the children.

For these kids, it was as if they never saw anything wrong with the world.

That was the way it should have been and Otohime, watching, felt as if the world were a tiny bit kinder if it could have a scene like this.

But, like all things, it came to an end.

The sound was barely audible, but Otohime caught it. It was faint at first, like a small buzzing, but by focusing on the sound itself, Otohime, with her enhanced senses from the Dragon Tooth, was easily able to pinpoint where it was coming from and what the sound was with clearer detail.

It was a phone, buried in the bushes on the opposite side of where the children were playing with the small bugs on the leaves they were crouched in front of, staring with their child-like fascination at the small creatures.

Taking a moment to just focus on this scene in front of her for a moment longer, Otohime struggled to tear herself from it. She managed to do so, looking in the direction of where the ringing phone was coming from, before freezing.

The ringing was coming from the same direction as where the scent of that filth hung in the air.

Otohime felt something rise within her, taking slow step after slow step towards the sound of the ringing. With her heightened senses, she felt no presence there beyond the bushes where the ringing was coming from. However, she was going to take no chances; her new abilities were ones she was still adjusting to so who knew if Orion was still hiding behind those bushes, having sensed her following him.

Orion Phoenix was evil.

He was the villain Otohime had to defeat at all costs.

Thus, Tatsugami Otohime would not put it past him to start a gunfight when there were children behind her and potentially get them caught up in the ensuring fight. Knowing him, he would be satisfied using them as hostages if need be.


Otohime murmured underneath her breath, her skin becoming rock hard and changing texture, becoming patterned and scaly. She knew for a fact this spell protected her from bullets, having learned that fighting Orion himself.

She was going to take no chances with this and with each step she took, her nose filled with more and more of the putrid stench of that evil. She tried hard to not just turn away but within her, Otohime knew she could not let that boy go free. Without even wasting time and doing what she had to do, Otohime pushed through the bushes in front of her.

The only thing that happened was the smell of Orion's blood getting stronger. There was no attack or anything of the sort, but Otohime did not take the time to be glad her expectations of the mercenary were not met. The only thing she was focused on was the phone as the scent of Orion got stronger and stronger as she moved forward.

She found it soon enough, where the ringing in her ears had pinpointed the phone's location to be. If she was not careful, she would have stepped on it and Otohime was tempted to. However, because she knew who this phone belonged to, she knew she could not just ignore this.

It was covered in that bastard's stench after all.

Even if it was a trap, Otohime knew her SCALE spell would protect her. With that thought in mind, she wasted no time in picking up the phone. It was an old model, even on the outside, a phone that clearly had no love put into it and hence, was disposable. Even so, it was that phone which Otohime knew was the one line connecting her with her archenemy.

Despite being disgusted by the idea, Otohime knew she could not merely pass this up.

She had to protect everyone from this evil. She had to save Kamijou Touma most of all from this boy to make sure Kamijou was never hurt by the hands of Orion or whatever 'job' was he was given.

That was the vow she had made when she had taken on her Magic Name.

That was the path she had set herself when she had chosen to follow in those footsteps which she could barely fill when Orion was pushing her back and causing her to fail every step of the way.

People had died because of him. People had not been saved and while Otohime had been unable to save them, it had been Kamijou who had hurt the most of all from that.

This was the worst miracle created from a meeting Otohime could ever think of.

And it was that miracle she chose to respond to by flipping open the phone and spitting out the words.

Even she felt surprised at the venom she spoke with, but then again, she had never hated someone as much as she had the person on the other side of the phone right now.

"Where are you?"

"Do you really think I'll answer that question?"

The reply was smooth and controlled, perfect for someone who was used to violence. The threat Otohime posed was just another drop in the ocean and the reply perfectly represented that Orion thought of Otohime as nothing more than just something else he had to deal with.

Otohime felt she had another reason to hate this boy.

Whereas he was her archenemy, even if it was a title she had placed on him, for that boy, Otohime was just another problem for him to deal with. He reacted to the caution he felt from her appropriately. The response he gave her was so indifferent even though Otohime felt she would never forget his ugly face because of what he was to her. It made her burn with rage and it leaked out from her voice.

"I will defeat you."

"And you would do well to hide that malice coming from you. I can sense it from over the City. If you want to truly kill someone, you always make sure you're not obvious about it. Otherwise you never know how one is going to react to threats against their life, dumbass."

Otohime paused.

She had been obvious about her intent to kill that boy. While that was not what bothered her, the words following what that boy had said chilled her to the bone. Throwing out any idea of trying to listen where the source of the voice on the phone was originating from, Otohime felt her entire body stiffen. Sweat rolled down her back as she heard the laughter from behind her coursing through her ears, like a curse.

She had expected this. She had thought such.

But the fact the reality had come to pass where Orion was using the children behind Otohime as hostages to prevent Otohime from acting made Otohime feel as though she would not rest until she had ripped every single cell from Orion's body to ensure he would never survive from what she did to him.

He had known she was coming for him.

And, as he had said, he had reacted appropriately, by responding to the threat against his life in a truly twisted way. In Otohime's mind, there was no doubt that he had even gone as far as using the children behind her as hostages to do so, although the method was unknown.

"You son of a bitch." Otohime spat out words she had never imagined herself using.

"I can accept that insult. For the things I've done to you, I truly deserve those words." Orion replied easily, his voice not even changing despite the insults he was given. "However, on the other side of things, I truly have to question you. I seem to be at an impasse when it comes to what to call you. You have my name, but I do not have yours."

"Don't think for a minute that I want my name coming from that filthy mouth of yours."

"…Again, very fair. If that is the case, hero, I have to ask. What exactly is your 'master plan' of dealing with me? You basically threw me off a fucking building and watched as I became a splatter on the ground. Are we going to try and go for Round 2?"

"How did you survive that? Because I won't make the same mistake twice."

"Unfortunately for the both of us, it seems there are beings higher than us with incredibly bad taste wanting to keep me alive. The death you gave me was not slow, hero."

The words that came back had a sharpness to them that made Otohime's skin crawl. The last thing she wanted to do was irritate the person who held the lives of the children behind her in the palm of his hand but the nature of his words Otohime could not deny. The emotion within them made Otohime sneer in pleasure before she rose her head to the trees above her and spoke.

"Come and find me and I can give you an even slower one."

"Do you really want that, you stupid bitch?"

The reply that came back was incredibly blunt and even Otohime had to feel a chill at those words. She hated the fact she fell silent as a result, gritting her teeth as she tried to find something to say but realising she could say nothing to those words.

Accept them and people could get hurt.

Deny them and then she was a coward.

Either way she had already lost no matter how she responded. The words that came back were unchanged, but Otohime felt as though they were silently mocking her, especially given how Orion had chosen to call her.

"Whatever the case, hero, I'm wasting my time giving you this call to tell you one thing. Fuck off."

"Oh? Are you scared of me, you son of a bitch?" Otohime replied with triumph in your voice.

"You basically threw me off a fucking building with barely any hesitation. If we hadn't talked, I imagine you would have done it sooner. So yes, I'm scared of you. Because whatever I am to you in your eyes is more than just a villain. I'm faced people who have been out for revenge. And they were satisfied in seeing me hurt. Some were satisfied seeing me dead. You aren't fucking special in that regard. So I can tell you this: hunting me down isn't going to end well for either of us."

"Chicken. You coward. You're scared of a girl who is younger than you?"

"I've seen grown men get knifed in the stomach by a child of six. In a fight, there are just warriors. Age isn't a factor that determines your ability as a fighter. Only experience does." Orion replied smoothly. "And as someone with experience, take it from me. Taking me out like you did does not end well. For you or for me. I'm not going to play along with your shitty 'You are my archenemy' complex, hero."


"Yes, I know you. I know what's going on in your braindead head. You think things are going to get better with me dead? You think I'm evil? The villain the world deserves to be freed from? I've heard it all fucking before. You think the failures you have accumulated will disappear after dealing with me? The only thing that will happen is that you will fall down to my level. You are so very close to that, hero. So, if you aren't going to listen to your fucking villain, listen to someone who is your senior."


"Fuck off. You don't want to fall down to my level in some misplaced sense of shitty justice."

Otohime said nothing, hearing the words in her head over and over again.

As the one with experience, Orion's words held weight to them. Indeed, just looking at the way Otohime was going now, in her quest for justice, it was entirely possible she would wear herself thin trying to bring to justice the greatest evil she knew. It was also possible that Orion, in his knowledge that Otohime was not going to back off, would come for her. If that ever happened, who knew what would happen to those around Otohime she was trying to keep safe and wanted protected?

Because he felt threatened Orion was already threatening the lives of the children innocently playing in the playground behind Otohime. In her mind, that already told of the lengths this piece of shit would go to, but also his experience in that he had reacted quickly and calmly to the silent threat Otohime had sent his way.

As the novice in this world of violence, Otohime should have listened to her senior.

But at the same time, Otohime knew that as a novice hero, if she let this evil into the world once more then she would never be able to recover from her failures Orion had already caused so many of.

It was that lone thought, that lone thought that if left alone Orion would continue to hurt more and more, that Otohime knew the words she had to say.

Kamijou Touma would not let this boy defeat him.

So it was only right that someone trying to follow in his footsteps would not allow this villain to be victorious.

"I won't fall down to your level. Ever. No matter what you do to me and no matter what you think you are capable of, I won't lose to you. You are my archenemy. The one person I cannot allow to step on the things I want to achieve. I won't back off. You hear me? I will bring you to justice. I will make sure you are not allowed to harm anyone in this world ever again. I failed last time. I don't know how you survived…but next time you won't be so lucky."


"I am a hero. You are a villain. There is nothing else that needs to be said. The Dragon is the ruler of the skies. No matter what a Phoenix can do, they cannot think to stand up to a Dragon. I will defeat you, because you exist to be defeated by me. So fear me. Tremble in the darkness you come from whenever you see the Light because of what I can do to you and what I am going to do to you. Watch your back and tremble while waiting for the day to come where I defeat you. And that day will be soon."

"You are making a big mistake, bitch."

"You think I will fall down to your level? You think I will allow myself to be stained by the filth you create? You hurt Onii-chan. Out of all the people in the world, you chose to hurt the one person in the world you should be thanking with everything you have for the things he has done for you. I can't forgive that. Nor can I forgive the things I have seen you bring into my world of peace. You don't deserve to be saved. The pain will stop when your heart does. Defeating you will make me stronger. It will allow me to rectify the things I have been unable to do before. When you are not saved…then others will be able to be saved."

Tatsugami Otohime did not bother to hide her heart as she spoke. The raw malice contained within her words only brought to mind the scene she never wanted to revisit: the sight of Kamijou having lost his left arm because of how Orion had kidnapped him and brought Kamijou to the person who had chopped that arm off. The blood, gore and the pale face of her cousin flashed in her mind and Otohime shivered.

He did not have to be given that pain. Kamijou Touma, for all he had done, deserved to be liberated from any pain others wanted to give him.

But instead, he had been given pain merely because he wanted to save others.

And the one who had done that?

It was the bastard on the other end of the phone.

If Orion Phoenix had not kidnapped Kamijou in the first place, then that boy would have been spared that pain. If that mercenary had not come into their lives; the massacre of District 10 and the death and suffering that had happened yesterday would never have come to pass.

Tatsugami Otohime, with her childlike mind, knew in her heart where the true evil lay. And with the power she held, she knew it was her responsibility to ensure the world was a safer place where people like Orion who were surrounded by and spread death and destruction were stopped.

It was the role of the hero to kill the villain.

No one would blame her for that, she would be praised and most of all, Otohime knew the path she was taking was undeniably the one that would allow her to become a hero.

So she would never stray from this path.

And she would never rest until the greatest villain of them all was put to her rest by her hand; the hand of justice.

The evil on the other end of the phone was silent for a moment before he chose to speak.

"Then I will have to retaliate in kind. Know this, hero. You threw the first stone. I tried to reason with you, to settle this in a civilised manner. But you were the one who decided this. You were the one who threw down this gauntlet that I threw back at you without any intention of picking up. Whatever happens next, whatever failures come to pass, are going to be your fault. Not mine. You're going to fucking regret this, bitch."

Otohime gritted her teeth so hard as she heard the lies coming from that putrid mouth and spat back a reply.

"Civilised? Is a piece of trash like you capable of that?" Otohime found herself speaking words and in a way she barely thought she was capable of. However, when faced with a being that made such resentment course within her, she found that humans were creatures capable of hurting others in ways they never thought possible. "You are the villain. And I am the hero. Don't try and pin the blame on this on me. Besides, when you spread death and destruction, even now as we speak, how can you think you are the civilised one?"

"Even now?"

"I know you're threatening the children in the playground behind me to save your disgusting skin to prevent me from acting and killing you now. So know this. I will save those children from you. And then I will come for you. You won't know where and you won't know when. But I will do it. I will save so many by destroying you. I will be the hero I know I have to be…for the sake of the one I want to protect the most."

Tatsugami Otohime, the hero, did not even bother listening to the reply. With the increased strength she had coursing through her body because of the SCALE spell, she mercilessly destroyed the phone within her grasp. There was the sound of the breaking screen, the scatter of small sparks and a puff of smoke that pitifully rose into the air.

Otohime did not even grimace in pain as the bits of the phone dug into her skin. She did not cry out in pain as the electricity lightly scraped against her hand.

The only thing she knew was that this was the trial she had to pass before she could truly call herself a hero. She had always wondered how it would manifest: the trial which would allow herself to truly call herself by that title as she did with Kamijou Touma. In a way, it had done so in the worst way possible, even if Otohime she had to accept it.

This was a miracle in its own right, even if it was a distasteful one.

And it was this miracle Otohime knew she had to overcome if she could truly use the power she had in a way that would make the one she wanted to save above anyone else, Kamijou Touma, proud for the things she had done.

Sure, this was going against that sanctity of life Kamijou wanted to protect above everything else.

But with the piece of trash Orion was, there was sure to be an exception.

Tatsugami Otohime knew in her heart what she was doing was right and that Kamijou would not look down on her for the things and the challenge she had given Orion. What Orion had coming was long overdue and it was the hero she was which was going to do it to him when he had gotten off scot free for so long.

He had survived the last time.

Otohime only had to make sure it didn't happen again.

But defeating him, right now, was not her goal.

She had something else in mind as she turned around and faced the direction the playground and the laughing children were in.

(I have to make sure I save those who Orion threatened to prevent me from acting. I don't know how he was threatening them but if he wanted to cause the most damage… Was he using bombs? Yeah, that must be the case. Whatever bombs he placed in that playground I will remove and make sure those children can keep those smiles on their faces.)

In the end, this was just another trial Tatsugami Otohime had to face.

Just another trial on the rocky road she had to take to become the hero she always wanted to be and was striving to become as to make sure Kamijou Touma would be proud of her.

(Watch me Touma-onii-chan. Watch me…as I make sure I save everyone who deserves to be saved and deal out justice to those who cause suffering.)

Yet, one thing had to be asked.

And that was whether the road before the girl called Tatsugami Otohime was so rocky that it was tearing into her without her even realising how much she was losing until it would be too late.

The rooftop, even though it was high, had a perfect vantage point of the small space where one Tatsugami Otohime had been moments before. The spot where she had been standing only moments before was a clean shot; by calculating out the speed of the wind and the weight of the necessary bullet, anyone could take the shot with the necessary skill and tools.

And right now, there was one such individual, lying on the rooftop with a sniper rifle perched on the edge of the roof and angled down towards the spot where his target had once been. He hung there for a single moment to judge the intention of his target and whether she intended to return before he moved.

Orion Phoenix moved his eye away from the scope. The tension he had felt running through him as he held the rifle was one he remembered and knew well, although the pleasantness of the memories was non-existent. He sat there, watching the space where Otohime had just been with his right eye, his left hidden by the black bang that covered it.

Right there had been someone who had seriously thought about, and most likely intended to, take his life. By all rights, as the mercenary he was, he should have taken the shot.

However, just by looking at the girl through the scope he had used, it was clear the shot he could have taken against her head would not have worked.

Even if it was not the case for anyone else and they would not have realised Otohime's body was covered with impenetrable skin, Orion had. And hence, realising that shooting her would have given away his position, he hadn't fired.

Here was just another hero who felt he was the person who deserved to die. It was just another person to add to the long list of those who would rather see him dead. Although such a thought was intimidating given that Otohime had practically killed him anyway by throwing him five stories onto concrete, Orion still felt tired from the thought of another person wanting to kill him.

In the end, it was always like this.

But that was just the life he lived.

Still, as he dismantled the sniper rifle in his grip, he frowned and spoke.

"Children? What the fuck was she talking about?"

There was a sigh in the air and Orion turned to his side from the familiar voice. However, instead of seeing the lively girl who was always by his side, he instead turned his gaze down and looked at the small mobile phone located there.

The display shone even in the daylight and the voice on the other end held a bit of annoyance yet spoke with experience of being someone who had given in to their emotions when faced with something they could not accept.

"Judging from the flow of the conversation, the little hero probably thinks you were using the children as hostages to prevent her from killing you, Orion. That you had bombs or something set up around the playground directly behind her as to make sure she had to choose either you to kill or the children to save."

Faith Townsend's voice came through with a bit of grim behind it, especially given the things she was talking about. Orion just stared at the phone, taking the scope off the sniper rifle and using it to view the space behind where Tatsugami Otohime had just been.

Indeed, in the distance, he saw that small girl moving through the playground, using her hands to dig in the sand with a smile on her face. However, to the properly trained eye, it was clear to see her frustration and anxiety of her face, hidden beneath a façade of cheerfulness shown for the children around her.

"Fucking dumbass. Why the fuck would I waste time threatening brats?" Orion spat out.

Otohime had felt many things and assumed many things when it came to Orion. In a way, most of them were true given her status as a hero, however at the same time, she had made assumptions she had unfairly placed on Orion because of the role of 'villain' she had placed on him.

What had Orion said that had made Otohime assume he was threatening the lives of the children behind her?

If you want to truly kill someone, you always make sure you're not obvious about it. Otherwise you never know how one is going to react to threats against their life, dumbass.

He had never said he was threatening anyone in those words, but the way he had said it and the way Otohime thought of him meant there was only one way she could have interpreted those words. Just as the hero would expect evil from the villain, Otohime had expected the worst from the words Orion had implied, the boy mercenary never having confirmed the things she had been thinking in the first place.

However, he had not set up bombs around the playground and he had not threatened the lives of those small children as Otohime had thought he had.

The 'threat' he had spoken of and how he had 'reacted' was setting up a position where he could snipe Otohime if necessary. It had been the hero in this case who had assumed he was more than willing to kill children if need be because of the convenient role of 'villain' she had placed him into.

It had been the hero who had unilaterally condemned Orion as evil and thought of him as nothing. She had cut him off and thought things about him which only created a more disgusting picture in her mind, even if how Orion had truly reacted was not too far from the truth.

As Orion had said, Otohime had thought poorly of him. She had expected him to threaten the lives of children unrelated to the conflict he was having with her.

"Can you blame her for wrongly thinking you were using children as hostages?" came the reply from the phone on the ground. "You know, if you chose to communicate properly, do you know how many problems would be solved before you started them? There are many things I want to say about that emotional constipation of yours, you edgelord wannabe Black Swordsman cosplayer."

"Fuck off, Faith. I don't see how it's my fucking fault that the fucking kid down misinterpreted what I said. I was clear about everything and it was her who twisted my words to fit her fucked up understanding of me."

"Yeah, nah, that's not the case at all. You basically screwed up that entire conversation, you stick in the mud."

The reply that came back made Orion twitch in annoyance. He did not reply as he approached his battered and torn trench coat on the roof, strapping in the sniper rifle into it using the small belts along the trench coat's inner side. Faith continued talking, her voice light but the things she was saying anything but.

"You hinted at things she misunderstood. Threatening those children for once. You never said anything affirming that but given how you and the little hero hit it off from what you told me, it was only natural she would think poorly of you. She threw you five stories, Orion. Did you really think if you made a vague threat she would think you were threatening to cause a public disturbance by stripping on the street? Of course she would assume you were going to kill an innocent person, even if you did have a sniper rifle to her head without her knowing."

"That was your fucking fault! And I told you never to speak of stripping in the street again, you fucking bitch! We spent two needless weeks in a Tibetan jail because of that!"

"H-Hahahahaha! Ah, good times. I broke us out though, didn't I? Whatever, we're getting off track." Faith spoke lightly, but the gnashing of teeth made it clear she had brought up memories Orion would rather forget. "But your communication problems go beyond just that. Yes, you were trying to prevent her from picking a fight with you. But threatening her into doing that and telling her you have more experience is not the way to do it. I get the message you were trying to get across in those words. But I'm probably the only person in the world who would manage to extract that from what you said."

"Oh?" Orion lifted up the trench coat and put it over himself while looking at the phone. "And what exactly is this message that you think I was trying to get across?"

"That the little hero is going down a path where she is losing sight of the things she was fighting for. You wanted her to back off…more for her sake than for yours. Because, as someone with experience, you know how the dark thoughts of hers can transform that small girl into someone she does not want to be. You know how the path that little girl is going down has the potential to turn her into someone worse than a villain. That she should have been scared of the path she is heading down…and of herself."


"You hinted at it when you said you were scared of her. But you never took it the next step and said she should have been scared of herself and the path she was heading down. That her path is already twisted."


What you said and what you meant were two different things. You said what you felt was right, but what you meant was something else entirely. She threw you five stories. Did you really want to make sure she did not fall to our level despite that? Did you really want to make sure she did not become like us?"


"You really are soft. Did you not want to crush the path she was on entirely given that she has the ability, even if it is small, to become a good person and a true hero? Are you sure you're an edgelord?"

"Fuck off, Faith."

"There we go. But there's my point, right? Communication has never been your strong point. Why is it that you can't properly put the things you want to into words? You could have saved that girl from her path and prevented a whole lot of problems for the both of us. Were you dropped on your head as a child?"

"I was thrown five stories."

"Wow. I can't believe you said that with such pride in your tone. You do realise you were bad at communicating before that, right? Do you want me to list the amount of times where you have gotten us into trouble because of your potty mouth? No matter what you might think, honesty is sometimes never the best policy! Especially when it involves telling a diplomat she looks fat in a dress! I never knew I could be so scared at a peace treaty meeting."

"She asked. I answered."

"Again, why is there pride in your tone, you cosplay wannabe!?" Faith answered rather energetically before sighing. There was a pause on her side of the phone for a moment before she spoke again. "Putting aside your idiocy and pointless need to be honest, there's something I want to ask you."

Orion, who had been ready to descend the stairs from the roof of the building he was on, paused for a moment. He frowned.


"Last night. When the 30 storey underground facility collapsed on itself. You were the only one conscious out of the three who came out that facility alive. Kamicchan and the Crow Leader were out like lights, meaning they don't know how they survived. And knowing your talent for it, I take it you saw everything that happened. Like why you were able to escape from that pit with so few wounds covering you. What the hell happened in there after everyone else had left?"

Orion fell silent, recalling exactly what Faith was talking about. It had been a question he had been asked a few minutes ago by someone else who had survived: Kamijou Touma.

Last night, Shutaura Sequenzia and Kamijou had been the last ones out of that pit into hell. Everyone else had been evacuating and taking everyone else who was still alive at that point out of the pit whereas Kamijou and Shutaura had fallen behind dragging Orion's barely alive form and Kihara Kamui who had been unconscious. Even if Kamui had later kicked the bucket, the three of them had been trapped down on the 30th floor of that hell with no way out.

Shutaura had left Orion to die at the base of the 30th floor, choosing to save Kamijou who had the lighter injuries given she could only carry one. Orion did not hate her for that; it was the wise and rational choice and one he knew he would have made as well in her position and had a choice to save somebody.

However, she had been blasted back by an explosion which had knocked her and Kamijou unconscious. The boy had had his left arm crushed by that stage and Orion remembered the blood which had oozed out the sickening wound. Even if Orion had been dying and was on the verge of passing out himself from his injuries, to never wake up again, he had still come out of that pit alive and with his injuries healed.

No one knew what had happened and only one person had seen it, as Orion had said to Kamijou. However, like he had said to Kamijou, Orion could not explain what had happened.

Which meant he had to give the answer he knew he would always give when asked about what had happened in front of his eyes last night. He had to reply honestly concerning what he had seen which had saved him, Kamijou and Shutaura and dragged them back up to the top floor and dumped them there, only to be found by everyone else, even if Orion had fled before he could be found.

"I don't know."

"You don't know?" Faith asked. As his handler and someone he had heard the voice of so many times, he could hear the frown in her voice. "What does that mean? You saw everything, right?"

"I did. However, I can't explain it except for using the term 'miracle'."

"Orion, we just had this discussion about communication. Stop being constipated and explain it to me. What did you see? Something healed the three of you down there, blew away the rubble down 30 floors which was blocking your escape and got you out of there. What was it?"

Orion felt as though he had to respond heavily to what Faith said. However, as this was how she always was, he let it slide off him. Faith always made his patience wear thin, but it was because they had been together for so long that he had grown accustomed to it and because of such, had increased his ability for dealing with various types of people.

Whether that was a good thing or not in that he had encountered more people with Faith's personality than he would have liked, especially since it was the direct opposite of his, he could not say.

"I don't know."

"A-Are you seriously still saying that!? Do you want me to force feed you wasabi until there are tears coming out of your eyes!?"

"Stop being a child and listen, you fucking bitch. I don't know what happened, but I can tell you. However, I don't think you'll make any sense of it."

"I think you just called me an idiot, but I'll let it pass." Faith said easily. "Well? What happened down there?"

"It was Mr. Kamijou."

"Kamicchan…blew through 30 floors of concrete, healed wounds which were life threatening and dragged the three of you out there? He was found unconscious, Orion. Sure, he's cute but he didn't do all of that using some shoujo manga sparkles and the power of willpower and friendship."

Faith responded logically and with scepticism in her voice. Orion on the other hand struggled to explain.

"I don't understand it exactly, but it's what I saw. Well, it's not what you just said, but it's what I saw."

"Huh?" Faith was the one confused now. "What do you mean it's not what I just said? Orion, this is what I mean about communication. Either Kamicchan did or he didn't save you. Which is it?! There's a 50/50 chance you're going to get this right!"

"That's the thing. Technically it was Mr. Kamijou who saved us but at the same time, it wasn't. I don't know what it was…but something came out of his arm. That was what saved us and healed our wounds."

"Something…came out of his arm?" Faith's surprise was clear in her voice. "He's dominant hand is his right, isn't it? Are you telling me something came from his – "

"No." Orion butt in. "Not from his right arm. What saved us came from his left."

"What…was it?"

"I don't know." Orion frowned slightly, recalling the image he had seen last night with disturbing detail. "Mr. Kamijou's left arm had been crushed at the time. When he was knocked unconscious, I don't know, maybe something triggered within him? An esper power since he lives in Academy City. Whatever it was, the moment he was unconscious, there was a small delay, before something…black came out of his arm."

"You dirty racist."


"Sorry, couldn't resist."

"Are you fucking paying attention to anything I'm saying?!"

"Pfft! I-I am, I am. K-Keep on going." Even though Faith replied with those words, the trembling within her voice made it clear she was trying to hold something within.

"You're laughing your ass off, aren't you, you fucking bitch?! You're the one who asked this in the first place, so if you're not going to listen, what the hell am I wasting my breath for!?"

"S-So something black came out of his arm?" Faith tried to redirect the conversation. Orion paused for a moment before sighing, taking a deep breath and trying his best to focus.

He and Faith just did not mix well.

And yet, here they were, mercenary and handler.

Orion did not bother thinking too much about the troublesome relationship he had built and continued.

"The only way I can describe it is like a locust storm. A swarm of black came from his crushed arm, from within it I mean. His blood, muscle, fat and bone of that arm seemed to break away and became that swarm of black. It hovered in the air before being drawn to Mr. Kamijou's wounds and Ms. Sequenzia's as well…before coming to me."

"His arm did what?" asked Faith. "Like parts of it shaved off and then…it was those parts which looked like a locust storm and engulfed you and the others, healing you?"

"Yes. I could feel it; whatever that swarm was, it took each wound I had and forcibly closed them. As if the skin were growing back and the holes opened within me were fixed, that swarm healed me and the others. Not all our wounds, but definitely the major ones, were fixed and healed. That was not all though. That same swarm rose up into the air and was the one to clear the way up."

"It did what?!"

"The swarm was made up of small parts; it was only when they were all together that they took shape in that swarm. Like water, they flowed through the gaps in the rubble that was blocking our path and ate into them. I've never seen anything like it; even with the chemical warfare we've come across. It was more than acid; as if the rubble were being eaten into by a living being. It cleared the way…and then it would flow back into Mr. Kamijou's left arm."

"…Why would it do that?"

"Probably because whatever that swarm was made him stand up and walk the way forward."

"I-It infected him?!"

"I'm not even sure whether that is the right term, Faith." Orion said, glancing into the sky with a frown. "It came from within him. So isn't it right to say it went back to where it belonged?"

Orion's question hung in the air, before he shook his head.

"Whatever the case, that was what happened. Whatever the swarm was, it would come out of Mr. Kamijou's left arm, eat the rubble in front of us and then return back into his body, making him move upwards. That happened until we reached the surface and I called you."


"Now, tell me. What the hell do you think happened? Something came out of Mr. Kamijou's left arm, saved us all and then was the one to make the way to the surface, going back into Mr. Kamijou's body, controlling him and allowing him to walk despite being unconscious. I have no idea what the fuck happened, but I know that whatever was within Mr. Kamijou's arm is alive. When it was fixing me…it's just a feeling I got. That and the fact that it seemed to have responded to Mr. Kamijou's thoughts."

"His thoughts?"

"I asked him when I saw him with Ms. Sequenzia. I asked him what his last thoughts were before he fell unconscious. His reply was along the lines of 'I didn't want to die at the bottom of a pit'."

"So the swarm…turned that last thought into reality? By fixing the wounds you had, making the way to the surface and clearing the rubble? It was Kamicchan who saved you?"

"I don't know." Orion shot back. "It technically should have been…but that swarm healed me when I was on the verge of dying. No high school boy could have done that. I felt something…different from what I felt with him. At least, that was what I feel."

Orion turned his gaze back in front of him and stood.

"So? You wanted an explanation for what happened. There it is. Do you understand more than I do at this point how we were saved? Because, despite being the one to see what happened, I still have no fucking clue. Hence, when you asked me, my response. At this rate, the only thing I can think of it as being is a 'miracle'. Even for esper powers that manifestation was just…bizarre. If you have something you want to say, then say it."




"Are you fucking fake sleeping!? You're the one who wanted to hear what I had to say in the first place! Also, I fucking hate it when you do that!"

"Sorry, I couldn't resist. Ut, in all seriousness, I don't have anything to add. Even with me being a Gemstone, that is something new on me. What the hell is Kamicchan anyway? I can see why you were so evasive about it."

"That is the closest to an apology I'm ever going to get from you regarding this, I think."

"Oh no, you were still being entirely retarded with your response. What, did you think you were being mysterious and cool by using terms such as 'miracle'? There's only so much eighth grade syndrome I can handle from you. Besides, when you think about it, you had the innards of some high school boy's arm smother all over you. I'm pretty grossed out by that so I'd appreciate it if you don't come within 500 metres of me. Or is that yards? I always get confused with these different systems."

"I fucking hate you. And it's metres in Japan, dumbass."

"My heart goes out to you, you wannabe edgelord Black Swordsman eighth grade syn – Gack. I fwit fy funge."

Orion grit his teeth, rising a hand to his forehead and calming himself down. He wasn't too sure anymore if it was just Faith who set him off like this or people with her personality but the tolerance he had for them had definitely increased since he had met her. It was only with this single girl that he felt as irritated as he did with her responses and how energetic she was. He sighed once more, turning and moving towards the stairs on the roof, stopping once as Faith asked something on the other end of the phone.

"Fy Fe fway, Forion."

"…What is it?"

"FAh, fet fe fwet fy funge fin forder… Th-There we go. Orion, I just wanted to ask, what about the Crow Leader?"

"Ms. Sequenzia?" asked Orion who frowned. "What about her?"

"Well, from what you told me of Kamicchan's arm, it healed everyone but only made an active effort to save Kamicchan. You would have followed the Kamicchan the swarm possessed or whatever given you were healed, but that leaves that Crow Leader. Who got her out? She was unconscious after all and if the swarm was to constantly enter and re-enter Kamicchan's body, his left arm would have had to stay crushed open. So who was the only one conscious who could lift out the Crow Leader from the depths of that pit to the surface? Hmm?"

The cheerfulness in Faith's voice was obvious to see and it seemed like she was more than ready to break into laughter. Orion could hear the grin on the other side of the phone but it only served to make him narrow his eyes instead of rise them in surprise that Faith had even picked up on that small point.

"Spit it out, Faith. What do you want to say?"

"Hmm…nothing. Just that you are just too soft for words. Are you sure you're an edgelord?"

"Technically, Ms. Sequenzia had hired me at the time so I had my obligations as her mercenary to make sure I protected her life. That contract has ended now so make no mistake. If I had no obligation to save her life, I probably would have left her."

"Yes, yes. Whatever you say, Boss. Does this make you a tsundere too as well as an edgelord?"

Faith's clear ignoring of what Orion was saying was clear in her voice. Orion knew the girl better than anyone, so he knew saying anything else would only give her more material to work with. He narrowed his eyes at the things she was saying but remained silent on the matter at hand until Faith spoke again.

"On the topic of bosses though, we have a new client."

"…That was quick. Our last contract ended less than 24 hours ago."

"Yeah. And this one came through less than an hour ago. It's centred here in Academy City. Since the City thinks you're dead because of all that blood you lost being tortured, I signed you up. It's not like you have anything better to do."

"I'm not going to respond to that. Where is the client? Right now, I'm in District 7; 43 Ash Crescent. If possible, I'd like to meet – "

Orion stopped midway, feeling something in the air.

The malice was almost physical, it was so powerful.

He turned, catching something in the distance heading towards him. The figure heading straight for him locked eyes with his only visible one, the mercenary staring back with an indifferent stare. Yet, there was something in the gaze locked onto his that he recognised within an instant, a malice and hate had come to know within his time on the battlefield.

And given who was sending it his way, he knew there was nothing good to come of it.


"Yeah? You were saying you wanted to meet the client? What happened to the whole 'I want to know who we're up against first'? Can you choose one and stick with it please?! You're hard enough to work with as it is and hearing something against what you've always said doesn't make it any easier! You know – "

"If I haven't called you in twenty minutes; I'm dead. Inform the client thusly."


Orion never answered, hanging up the phone and placing it within his pocket…and also gripping the handgun he kept in there.

The figure which had been leaping over rooftops heading straight for him landed on the roof, panting and seemingly breathless…although her eyes held more rage and anger than seemed possible for a child.

However, for someone who was burning with rage and resentment at a single person, those eyes matched them perfectly.

"Found you, you son of a bitch. Although it's not hard with that ridiculous get up and hacking a few cameras."

Orion knew the girl on sight and responded to her cold words with an edge to them, feeling the weight of the handgun in his pocket.

If he needed to, even if this was a child, he would shoot.

"Ms. Misaka."

And he addressed the #3 Railgun who stood across from him, her entire body covered with electricity and sparking with literal rage.

"How may I be of service?"

Misaka Mikoto did not know what her face looked like. She did not want to know nor did she think she would calm down even if she did see it. She only knew seeing it would bring to her mind how broken and angry and desperate she was feeling right in this current moment.

She had broken something she had treasured with her own hands.

The trust Kamijou Touma had held in her was something she had lessened by her own actions. She had taken that trust and she had turned it on that boy himself with her own actions. Thinking she could do whatever the hell she liked and saying to herself she could justify everything that happened and everything she did, Mikoto had acted without restraint and done something she could never take back.

And because of it, she had destroyed part of the trust Kamijou had in her.

He still trusted her, but the small part of the trust Kamijou had had in her, the small part where he trusted her to do the right thing even when she was pushed had been something she had broken by herself. Because when she had been pushed, she had entirely gone off the rails and done something he could not condone but had to accept nonetheless.

Who had Mikoto betrayed in that sense?

Because the bastard in front of her had been involved in the kidnapping of one of the Sisters, a smaller version from what she remembered from seeing the small girl in that hellish pit, she had decided there was nothing she would not do for the sake of seeing that Sister home. There were questions she had on the nature of that small girl, but they were entirely lost on her given her despair at what she herself had lost despite having gained the safety of the Sister.

She had tortured this boy, almost to the death, for the sake of the information he had held. He had not given it and Mikoto had learned of it anyway, but it didn't matter. The moment Mikoto had been fine killing this boy was the moment she had held one life above another.

That was entirely normal in Mikoto's eyes.

She did not know who this guy was whereas the Sister he had been involved in kidnapping was someone created from her own DNA map. The importance she would place over one life was obvious. However, while saying that was one thing, actually doing something that reinforced that idea was another thing altogether and something Mikoto had done.

And in doing so, she had betrayed Kamijou who so wanted to ensure everyone could go home smiling at the end of the day.


An idea that even applied to the endless villains that tormented her world so.

Mikoto had not cared about Orion one bit. But she also had known Kamijou was someone who would have valued this bastard's life the same as one of her Sisters. She had known that and she had felt she could handle the consequences. But as she had not expected, true despair came in a form she never knew she could handle.

The simple fact that Kamijou could no longer trust her unconditionally to do the right thing even when pushed bit into her heart like an endless ice pick. It made her tremble, but more than that, she felt as though she had lost something so important to her heart and the foundation of such that she felt lost without it.

Who had she truly betrayed?

Kamijou, for betraying his trust?

Or herself, for thinking she could be strong enough to handle the pain coursing through her given she had betrayed Kamijou?

She did not know, but she knew who was to blame.

None of this would have happened if not for this boy who had made her give in to her emotions. None of this would have happened if Orion had not been placed in front of her as convenient bait and had not been involved in the capture of her Sister. The core of this incident and her pain was standing in front of her, a person Mikoto had gone to small lengths to find.

After she had run away from Kamijou in that hospital, unable to face him, she knew she could not rest until she had found this bastard. As a Level 5, she knew how effort could allow one to overcome obstacles and Orion was just another one in her way. By pushing through it, she would surely be able to achieve some sort of resolution within herself, reach some catharsis of a sort and achieve peace of mind to assist in the calming of the raging emotions within her.

As she had said, hacking into a few cameras and looking for him with his ridiculous clothes that seemed like he was cosplaying had been easy.

Withholding her emotions was another matter entirely.

Mikoto's pain, suffering and despair for something she had done with her own hands manifested itself as small sparks of electricity that flew around her and her bangs. She could feel a rage from within her like she had never felt before. However, in the face of the emotions not even Mikoto was sure she could control, the mercenary in front of her, with his hand in his pocket, stood as calm as ever, looking at her with his own visible eye; the other hidden by a bang of black hair.

Whether it was because he was acting so calm whereas Mikoto was entirely the opposite, or because she remembered what he had done to one of her Sisters, his presence only served to anger her more.

She spat out the words within her in response to the bastard in front of her.

"You have a lot to answer for."

"Is that so?" Orion responded. "As far as I recall, the person you wanted to save in the first place was saved. Therefore, there really is nothing to be said between you and me. Unless you want to discuss the fact that I'm technically dead in this City because of the torture you put me through. This situation should be the reverse, Ms. Misaka. I see no reason why you are the one pissy at me."

His voice was so calm when Mikoto was hardly such that she could barely withhold the rage within her.

"You see no reason?! You kidnapped one of my Sisters!"

"I realise you might have trouble remembering what with your tiny brain, but I had no part to play in that. I was off doing something else."

"Oh, so that means you're a saint, does it?! You make me sick. Do you know how much pain you caused? And yet you think you can just stand there without a care in the world and justify your villainy?"

Orion paused for a moment at the word Mikoto used. She noticed that his hand in his pocket seemed to twitch slightly, but the small frown that came onto his face was clear that Mikoto had gotten his attention.

"What do you fucking want, Ms. Misaka? Justice? Because as far as I know, I almost died because of you and your friends. You saw me after I was a stain on the ground as well. Are you here to give me more pain to satisfy yourself? To get yourself hard from giving me whatever 'comeuppance' you think I deserve?"

"I'm here because you took something from me."

"I get the feeling you're not fucking listening. When your Sister was being kidnapped I was – "


Mikoto basically screamed, stepping forward. Orion didn't move, eyes narrowing further. Sparks came around her violently as she spat out the words one after another in an endless stream of hate and malice.

"I lost something important to me because of you! If it wasn't because of you and the pain you dish out so easily, I would never have had to betray that idiot! You know how much that hurts? Of course you don't. The only thing you do is take from others without thinking about them at all. That idiot said he couldn't trust me. And I know him so well that I know even saying that was painful for him. But he still said it to me because of you and the choice you made me make!"

"I literally have no fucking idea what you're talking about."

"And I'm not going to give you the satisfaction of telling you so you can enjoy my suffering. But you are at the core of my pain. You are the core of his pain as well. I'm here to make you answer for that."

The only thing in Mikoto's mind was rage and the fact she had to make Orion 'answer' for making her choose between her Sister's life and her relationship with that idiot.

No, it was more than that.

This bastard had to answer for the fact that given the pain Mikoto was feeling, she was unsure whether she had made the right choice.

She had saved a life but lost a connection. She had lost the one connection she wanted to maintain above everything else and she hated herself for thinking she could not decide whether she had made the right choice or not. She hated herself for being in this position, with so much power despite not knowing where it was to go.

But more than anything, she hated how Orion's presence within her life, when she had only met him for a single day, was more than enough to deal this crippling blow to her heart. If she had lost a limb, she was sure the pain would not have been as bad as it was now and it was in response to that pain and to make sure she did not feel it again that she was here.

That was the logical connection of events to Misaka Mikoto.

But, with what she was feeling, even she did not realise how she was going to make Orion 'answer' for anything. Nothing concrete had formed in her head, only her emotions pushing her alone and she had barely planned for anything either.

Yet, she would not stop until this bastard knew of the pain he had given her for making her choose between her Sister and Kamijou Touma.

Mikoto stepped forward, Orion stepping back in turn but stopped as his feet hit the edge of the roof. He paused, turning back for a single moment and Mikoto spat out the words.

"Nowhere to run. I have no idea how you survived that torture or falling as high as you did, but it gives me the chance to do what I have to, as to make you realise the pain you dish out is something you have to take in yourself."

Orion paused for a moment before staring at Mikoto. He tilted his head.

"Oh, please. I already know that lesson well. How long do you I think I've been doing this? I'm prepared to die to by anything I wield. I'm no stranger to it. However, that's not what this is. You want to have a fucking tantrum? Call your mother and have her listen to your shit. Don't take it out on me."

Orion spat out the words coldly.

"But you want a lesson? That's fine by me. I don't even need this."

Whatever 'this' was, Mikoto did not know but Orion took out his bandaged hand from his pocket. Both hands in front of him, he stepped forward, meeting Mikoto where she was. They stood practically face to face and Mikoto felt disgusted that this bastard was so close to her, the sparks from her electricity brushing by Orion's face.

There was a moment's pause where the mercenary stared at her before sneering.

"You haven't thought this through, even if you have cheap words. But that only shows me you're nothing but a brat who has grown too reliant on the power you hold."

"I am a Level 5. A piece of scum like you does not get to talk to me like that." Mikoto spat out, but the fact she hadn't thought through what she was going to do hit her like a dump truck. She had had plans in her head, but nothing concrete. She had formulated counterattacks to whatever Orion was going to throw her way, whether it be using his guns, fists or the sword by his side, but nothing when it came to her making her first move.

And worst of all?

She felt like this bastard knew that.

"Oh? But that's my point, Ms. Misaka. When you have so much power, there's only one thing you rely on. If you were to be stripped of that power right now, I think you wouldn't dare say these fucking words to me. You've grown drunk on your own abilities. You think they are what make you and that because you have power, you can solve fucking anything that comes your way. But look at where we are now."

Orion spread out his hands.

"We're, or rather you're, at a crossroads where you have come across a problem where you can't brute force your way through it. You've hit the one point where being a Level 5 means fuck all. Where the choice you made is the problem and dealing with the consequences is the issue. Your power doesn't mean shit here, does it?"

He scoffed, shaking his head.

"But, even if you know you can't do anything with that power of yours, you still chose the option where you can use it in some way. Did you come all this way to pick a fight with me? Because the fact that's the way you think indicates all I need to know. You're nothing without your power. You think it will solve fucking everything for you and when it doesn't, such as dealing with the repercussions of your actions, you still try and use it. Even when your power was the reason you're in this situation in the first place, dumbass."

"You're the reason why I'm in this in the first place, you trash."

"Is that so? And you used your power against me for that cause by fucking torturing me as far as I recall. Amazing, isn't it? You cause your own problems using your power, then try and use it to get out of them. You're already corrupted by your own being, you piece of shit."

"You don't know me." Mikoto replied, gritting her teeth in spite of the challenge.

"Oh, I do. I know you very well. You came here to make me answer for something. Because you don't know how to deal with this without using your power in some way. You want to make this little problem go away and the only way you can think to do that is using force. Unfortunately, reality isn't that kind. There are some shitty problems you can't deal with using force and there are some choices you have to face the consequences of. You want me to answer for something I did? Fuck off. The one you should be directing that to is yourself."

Mikoto didn't even know what happened next. One moment she had found herself standing with her hands by her sides and the next, she was grabbing Orion's collar, seething and spitting out her words.

"Don't try and escape from what is coming to you. This is your fault."

"And here you are, using force again. For fuck's sake, I thought the Level 5s were something amazing. But with this, Mr. Accelerator and Ms. Shokuhou, all I've seen are insecure shitty kids who have been given power without understanding what to do with it. But the fact they rely on that power they have in the first place is, in itself, broken. You think you can solve this using power? Go ahead. Fucking go to town. Pimp as much electricity into me as you like, manipulate my bioelectricity or do whatever other amazing shit you can think of to me. See if I give a fuck. But after you do that, then you can realise it's going to only push you down that rabbit hole."

Orion gave the challenge and Mikoto tightened her grip on his collar. Sparks flew from her bangs as she rose one hand and formed it into a fist.

"You think I won't do it? You are the reason why one of my Sisters was kidnapped. And you are the reason I am feeling this pain for the choice you made me make."

"Again, for the umpteenth fucking time, I was not involved in the kidnapping. And that choice was your own. Both of those concrete 'reasons' you've given me for justifying what you're about to do to me have just crumbled. Which means that anything you do to me is just you using your power because you're weak."

The words were said calmly, but the way it stabbed into Mikoto made her tremble in rejection. As a Level 5, there were many things she was, but weak was by far not one of them.

"Too weak to face a shitty reality you created and solve a problem you yourself caused."

"You trash…"

She was not weak.

"Too weak after relying on your power for so long that you can only rely on it when you're in trouble."

"Shut the hell up."

No, she was doing these things because Orion Phoenix was the one existence which had stepped all over her and her peace without thinking anything of it. She was doing these things not because she did not know how to deal with this issue of her own making but because she was rightfully using her power to nip a problem in the bud.

"Too weak to face the fact that you are the one to blame for your own problems. That if there is a villain here, it is Ms. Mikoto Misaka and the fact that you simply chose wrongly."


Mikoto was not the one to blame!

The one who had made her make the choice she had was –

"You should see your face. I've met many broken people in my time but when those with power go off the rails, they always look the same. So much power and nowhere for it to go. Ironic that the way you used your power ended up breaking one of the things you wanted so desperately to protect, isn't it? Ironic that the one you should be hating is yourself who decided to break those things, isn't it? You're fucking pathetic."

"Shut uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupppppppppppppppppppppppppp!"

It was not her fault.

It was not her power which had done this.

Her losing the trust of Kamijou Touma was not because of herself. It was the fault of the person who had caused all this turmoil within herself in the first place. It was not her power at the source of all this and she was not broken in the sense that she did not know how to fix this problem without using her powers.

She could solve this without using her powers. She was not reliant on them to do many things for her and she was someone without them. The only reason she had chosen to confront Orion was because this was a problem she could not let continue to live in Academy City and had to deal with.

With great power came great responsibility after all. Which meant that as someone powerful it was her duty to ensure she dealt with things such as this.

Misaka Mikoto was not weak!

This was NOT her fault!


A gurgling sound came in front of her and Mikoto's racing emotions focused. Her blurry vision centred itself on the boy in front of her, her pounding heart trying to figure out why this trash who she had thrown words at her was suddenly making that sound.

The only visible eye, his right blue one, was wide open in surprise and pain.

But more surprisingly was the blood coming down the side of his mouth.

Mikoto blinked in surprise, finding her hands were no longer gripping the boy's collar. Instead, they were in front of her, holding an iron sand sword she did not even remember having done the calculations for.

With said iron sand sword piercing right through the left side of Orion's chest; right through his heart.

Mikoto's eyes went wide and she stepped back, her hands trembling. In doing so, the iron sand sword was pulled from where it was, blood coming out of the wound and splashing against Mikoto's face. There was a squelching sound as it did so, Mikoto feeling her heart pounding through her chest.

Blood ran down her hands and the small droplets which had splashed against her face ran down it, the girl staring down at them with shaking breaths and trying to wipe the blood from her hands, thinking it was some type of illusion. Yet, the stench of rust from the blood filled her nose and seemed to never want to fade.


Mikoto, finding the blood on her hands was not coming off, rose her arm to wipe her face of the blood which had splattered there.


She wiped it, but in doing so, smeared the blood against her face and also stained her clothes, a red line coming onto her sleeve as she stared at it. Her eyes went wide and she desperately suppressed the urge to throw up, however, the thud of Orion's body as it fell backwards and onto the ground was all she needed to realise the reality of the situation. The blood was being absorbed by his suit and trench coat, but that did not change what Mikoto had done or where she had stabbed.

Unable to throw Orion's words back at him, she had done the only thing she felt she could.

Using her power to silence him without even realising she was doing it.

But more than that, worse than that, she had confirmed exactly what Orion had said.

That she was someone who could faced problems she could not solve with her own power.

And that, in her own way, she was broken for thinking that she could brute force everything by herself.

Misaka Mikoto was known by the scum known as Orion Phoenix.

And through her own actions, she had already fallen down to his level.

Something bubbling within Mikoto, in the face of the blood on her hands and face, snapped.


Mikoto fell to her knees, holding her hands over her mouth as she felt her mouth trembling and tasting the blood in her mouth. Instantly, she scrambled back, throwing her hands forward and away from her, the blood spraying through the air and landing on the ground in small droplets.

She had once decided to torture Orion for the sake of her Sister. She had been prepared to take his life for that purpose and although he had survived, it did not change the intentions of that girl.

But right now, it was entirely different.

For the sake of nothing more than her own emotions she had stabbed Orion straight through the heart. Even though last time she had seen him he had been shot through the heart, he could have been protected by body armour at the time which had saved his life.

There was no such salvation in this case. Not even body armour could prevent the sword Mikoto had sent through him.

Meaning that right now, merely because she was weak and could not figure out a way to solve the problem she had caused with her own power, she had chosen a scapegoat for her emotions. And, to that scapegoat she had…!

She had…!


Yet the voice on the ground from the boy in front of her resounded through the air. He coughed once, blood coming from his mouth. Even so though, movement from his fingers was evident as he rose his hand into the air and held up the middle finger towards the girl he could not see given he was on the ground.

"How…does it feel to have that power course through…you? Do you feel…fucking fantastic? Do you feel…like there's no one...above you? I…know…you…Ms. Misaka. That ultimate power you hold…and the way you wield it…is a sign of just how…fucking powerless you are…when it comes to problems you cannot solve…using that power."

It was not possible for him to speak.

Yet the words were the ones that stabbed into Mikoto more than she could say.

"Just like you said…you have a lot to answer for…"

"No… I-It wasn't me…! I'm not the cause…of this!"

Mikoto shook her head, not understanding how that boy was alive even after being stabbed through the heart. Even if it meant she had not killed him, she could not rest given she had seriously decided to be in a position to take that boy's life all the same.

The blood on her hands given she had decided to kill him was not going to be washed off so easily.

And in the face off that ultimate power Mikoto did not want to face, she stood up and shook her head. Whereas she had been almighty before, she was reduced to nothing more than a single girl now, trembling as she realised the nature of the power she now held in her hands.

"I'm…not weak! I'm not…reliant on my power."

"That's right… Fucking run…"

Orion shifted slightly, reaching for something in his pocket and bringing it out. The handgun glistened in the sun and Mikoto jumped, feeling her mouth go dry as she stared at the weapon in the boy's hand.

"Fucking run… You should be scared…of what that power can do… See how well it will help you…in the problems you can't solve using…it! I'm looking forward…to the next time we meet, you bitch!"

Orion lowered the hammer of the handgun and without even realising what she was doing, Mikoto was already running.

Using her power, Mikoto pulled herself back using magnetism and threw herself across to another building on the opposite side. She went over the edge of the building's roof Orion was on, just as he pulled the trigger. The dry gunshot echoed through the air, but given Orion could barely see his target, it flew through the air and missed entirely.

Not that Mikoto cared. Clinging to the walls of the building she had fled to, she used it to run up to her new building's roof, jumping from it and moving through Academy City. Her heart pounded in her chest and she felt something rising in her throat but she forced it down, sweat rolling down her cheek and running through the small drop of blood there.

She stared down at her hands, noticing them trembling as she flew through the air and finding her lip was trembling as she stared at them.

Misaka Mikoto had lost the trust, only a small part of it, of the person she wanted to be the closest to.

And because of that, she had done this. Even if it was unintentional, thinking she could use her power to solve a problem it could not solve, she had committed that one act she knew she could never take back.

How much had Misaka Mikoto been reliant on Kamijou Touma in the first place? How much did she value that connection until it had been taken from her, although only in part?

Mikoto did not know, but she felt herself forcing down her urge to throw up.

Because right now, just as Kamijou had feared, when she had been pushed, she had not made the right choice.

She had to ask one question.

One question she did not want to ask but knew she would never escape from given the path she was on.

(What am I…becoming?!)

Misaka Mikoto did not know.

And in a way, that did not make her a Level 5 any longer.

But merely a child with power who did not know the path she was walking, where it would take her and whether she could place that path on the rails of something else entirely.

Misaka Mikoto had missed his heart.

Just like everyone else who tried to kill him by piercing or shooting it.

Although the question had to be asked whether Mikoto had truly intended to do so of her own free will or had merely been pushed there because of emotion. As a soldier and someone who knew the difference between acting as part of the moment or acting out of an intention to act from the start, Orion coughed and gritted his teeth.

(That Level 5…has yet to go down the dark path. She gave into her emotions by accident…although it still fucking hurts. She has yet to fully fall.)

It was little consolation, but when Orion thought of it, this was the second time he had been injured by a Tokiwadai Level 5. Although Shokuhou Misaki had only shot him in the leg, having Mikoto stab him through the chest and pierce his lung was not exactly something he wanted to keep tally of.


No matter how many times people tried to destroy his heart, he would always survive. Whether it be because of their inability to kill or because they just missed in general, the curse Orion had to live with meant that a quick death was not a luxury he could afford.

He coughed once, feeling his lung burn as he coughed out blood. The hand holding the handgun fell to the ground, Orion noticing the gun felt heavy in his hand.

He had decided not to fire it when Mikoto had first appeared in front of him bearing malice. He had decided to hear her out instead.

The reasoning behind such a decision he did not fully understand himself, but the words of Faith returned to him all the same.

"I'm not…soft…"

The sound of a door bursting down filled the air.


A familiar voice came through it as well as footsteps. A face came into Orion's vision, showing clear concern. Noticing the ahoge and the grey hair with white streaks and black tips, Faith Townsend stared down at Orion's limp body with obvious concern on her face. She spotted the wound quickly, reaching down and pressing a hand on it and judging where it was located.

"Jesus…who did you piss off this time? People don't just try and destroy your heart without good reason." Her words were light, but the way she was looking at him made it clear that whoever she identified as his attacker was not going to have a good day.

"Never mind."

Orion tried to speak but grimaced all the same. Faith paused for a moment before nodding, looking down at the wound with clear concern.

"Oh boy. The meeting with the client isn't going to go well at this rate."

"…What meeting?"

"W-Well, I assumed you were being a dick and not communicating properly, even if you worried me, so I told the client your location. I'm not entirely too sure whether they got here before me or – "

"No. We just arrived."

Faith spun around, but Orion, on the ground, could not see anything of the client mentioned. However, his professionalism told him he had to stand and meet the person he was hired by in the face, grunting as he desperately tried to stand. His pierced lung didn't make it easy, Faith reaching out and trying to prevent him from moving.

He gave her a single look, the girl grabbing and lifting his arm over her shoulder forcefully and supporting him as he stood. He grunted in pain, no energy to resist, before rising his head, spotting two figures in the doorway leading down to the stairs. A pair of men were there, one looking as though he belonged in high school and the other in a Hollywood action film given his build and military style haircut.

Both looked serious as they stared at the blood on the ground and the blood coming from the corner of Orion's mouth. The younger of the two spoke first.

"Should we be concerned about your wellbeing? At this rate, especially given where you appear to have been attacked, it doesn't seem as though – "

"I'll…be fine." Orion managed to force out. "I have a duty to my client to ensure the best service. Even if I am in this state, you have my full attention…and my abilities."

Both men stared at Orion for a moment before turning to Faith. Reluctantly, she nodded to which both men stepped forward. The younger extended his hand towards Orion.

"We understand it is your policy to work for an individual and not a group. Since that is the case, your client in this case is me. My partner behind me is someone I trust unconditionally and expect you to do the same. Treat him as you would me."

Orion grunted, bringing out his hand before realising it was partially coated with his own blood. He turned around for a few moments, before wiping it against Faith's clothes, the girl giving him a deadpan stare.

"If you weren't injured, I would have killed you for that."

Orion said nothing, shaking the proffered hand.

"I'll get right to the chase," said the younger boy. "Given the City thinks you are dead, that should indicate the type of work you are to be doing. We've managed to handle things with your handler and she's laid down the terms of your contract, which are understood fully by myself and my partner."

"If I may say, Sir," put in Orion. "Faith has said you contacted her within the past hour. Am I to think there is urgency with this contract?"

"Forget the 'Sir' nonsense. I have a name. As does my partner, even if we are going to using handles been given to us." The younger boy flicked a thumb over his shoulder to the man behind him. "My partner is called Deduction where we work. And I am Logic. I guess the only thing I can say now is…"

Logic barely smiled and the intensity in his words could be felt.

"Welcome to Judgment and Anti-Skill. Something urgent happening in this City has come to our attention. I hope you're prepared for the dirty side of law enforcement here. Although as a soldier, I think you should fit perfectly…in this war."

"Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons."

Index spoke as she stood in front of the black stone obelisk in District 23. She turned her head around, tugging slightly at the bandage covering her left eye and hiding the magic circle contained within while looking around her.

The plot she and Kamijou Touma, along with Othinus on his shoulder, stood in was right next to a strip of runway. However, unlike places near runways, this place was a barren plot filled with nothing but this obelisk and black thin pillars that looked reminiscent of street lights. It was an odd place, however, reading the text on the obelisk, Index recognised it, drawing out its source from her perfect memory.

"Blaise Pascal's Pensées. Although I recognise the quote, I don't recognise what this obelisk is for, Touma. What is…the Miracle of 88?"


Kamijou did not answer, instead, looking down at his phone. The message he had gotten which had asked him to come here had come from Shutaura Sequenzia, however, given the nature of the message, the text and where they were standing now, Kamijou had the feeling it was someone else who had texted him in the first place.

A lot of things had happened and there were a lot of things to consider, but at the same time, the message he had received brought to mind there was one thing he had yet to resolve in all of this.

There had been war, death, violence, questions unanswered and hope lost, but within it all, there had been one cry Kamijou had heard, yet had not dealt with. There had been one person who had been suffering all this time Kamijou had not even known was suffering but now it was time to rest, it was time to put to rest those tears being shed.


"I think the Miracle of 88…is a beginning." Kamijou finally replied after giving it some thought. "If what I know of everything is true, then this is where everything started for her. This is where she came alive… Which also means it's the start of her miracle. There might have been some stumbles along the way and she might not have been able to deal with us because of various things and various emotions, but that time has passed. It's time to finally start things once again and it's time to take that step forward she could not before. I think that's the meaning of this place."

"Her? I have no idea where you find all these girls, human, but it's incredibly irritating that you can be so cryptic and not give me a straight answer."

Othinus, who knew nothing, frowned and huffed with her arms folded on Kamijou's shoulder. The boy let out a small laugh at that, however, the other girl with him silently stared at the boy.

"Her? Touma, do you mean…?"

Index trailed off, not wanting to say the name on her mind. However, the look from Kamijou and the small smile he made reassured her more than she could say. Her eye lit up, the girl opening her mouth to say something but finding nothing would come out. The eagerness and the anticipation of what was to come filled her entire being and Kamijou felt the same thing happen to him.

So much had happened but most of all, the insecurities that had filled her because she did not know who or what she was were ones Kamijou had put to rest with his conversation with her before the hell had started. And now it was over, the silent time to connect with that person had finally arrived.

A single footstep in the lot with the Miracle of 88 Memorial resounded through the air behind the trio. Index turned around so fast she was basically a blur, but came to a stop as she stared at the person who had come behind her, having expected someone else entirely.

"Shutaura? No…"

Kamijou turned around, slower than Index and came face to face with the girl standing there.

It was technically the body of Shutaura Sequenzia standing across from them. Her face had not changed and the black body suit that emphasised various curves had not changed either. To any stranger, there was going to be no difference between Shutaura and the girl standing there now.

However, there was something about her.

The 'feel' that she gave off.

It was entirely different from the feel Shutaura gave off as a leader. The easy going and approachable atmosphere that surrounded the girl now was entirely at odds with the atmosphere that usually surrounded her. Furthermore, even though it was very faint, a few flashes of pink could be seen in the girl's eyes as well as her hair, the ones in her eyes flashing in and out from the black irises as she looked at the trio standing there.

Kamijou smiled, Index facing 'Shutaura' with some surprise on her face.

"No…it's not Shutaura." Index said, staring at the girl in confusion before stepping forward slightly.

'Shutaura' stepped back slightly once, her gaze going over to Kamijou. He did not shout at her, but instead rose his hand slightly towards her, as if wanting to grab her where she stood to prevent her from fleeing. That in itself seemed to be more powerful to the girl than any cry to stop and she stood where she was, stepping forward instead of back.

She took a deep breath, the nervousness and the emotions coursing within her being made clear in the way she did so. Her hands were shaking and she seemed more terrified of Index than anyone had the right to be, but it was when she clenched her hands into fists that she finally managed to let out words from her mouth.

"Hello, Index-chan. It's…been a while."


Index cried out at the girl who flinched at the way her name was said. The shock was evident and Kamijou knew it was obvious Index would be shocked at learning the girl called Arisa who she had known so well was in someone else's body. In fact, it had been that shock that Arisa, and even Shutaura, had been scared of when it came to meeting with Index and Kamijou again.

The girl in front of them, Meigo Arisa in Shutaura Sequenzia's body, looked nervous. Her mouth was trembling and even though she had been the poster girl for the Endymion, it seemed ironic she was terrified of a small nun instead of a crowd of people. Even so though, that girl had vowed to undergo this meeting and be a part of this.

She had vowed to once more talk and be with her dear friend once again.

"Yes. It's me."

Index just stared at the girl. She did not say anything nor did she look at Kamijou. She just stared at Arisa, that one action seeming to be the only thing she was capable of.

Yet, the change was soon evident.

It came in the form of her trembling and the small droplet of water that came from her eye.

Index had been through a lot in the past 24 hours. She had almost lost so much and right here and now, she was being given something back. After so much had been lost, it was finally time for something to be returned to that small girl. A friendship she had thought she had lost forever was sitting in front of her now and Index felt her own heart tremble with joy at seeing it.

Arisa herself seemed to tremble as well, but both girls wiped their tears from their eyes. The meeting and their reunion was not one to be one filled with tears; they had been waiting too long for this.

Even if Arisa did not know the waiting Index had done for this moment and Index did not know the fears Arisa had had when it came to meeting with them again given she was just another part of Shutaura, none of that seemed to matter to either girl as they stared at each other from across the lot.

There were just so many things they had to say.

But at same time, nothing to be said at all.

Index didn't bother wasting any time, racing across the lot as fast as her legs could carry her and throwing herself into Arisa's arms. She was received and held tightly, Arisa embracing Index with as much strength as she could while Index slowly spoke.

"It's you… It's really you…" Index said, the happiness in the words coming over in waves as they struck the girl head on. Arisa trembled in her arms, forming words of her own as she tightened her embrace, if that was even possible.

"I've been away a long time, Index-chan. But…I'm finally back. I'm finally, finally back."

Meigo Arisa said with a trembling voice, struggling to keep her emotions in. For the fears she and Shutaura had expressed to Kamijou about their acceptance given how they did not know who they were given their dual identities, the fact Index so readily accepted them all the same seemed to be an overwhelming wave to Arisa. Surely the same was said for the heart of Shutaura which was also receiving those words as well.

What could Index say in the face of that? There were so many things she likely had to say, question even, but in the face of finally seeing the girl in front of her, there was only one thing that really came out of her mouth that captured everything she had to say when it came to them meeting again.

"Welcome home, Arisa. I really, really missed you."

Meigo Arisa, when hearing those words, felt her lip tremble. They were the words she had said to Kamijou when he had accepted her, when he had laid to rest her fears for not being accepted by Index and Kamijou because of how different she was now. Kamijou had laid to rest those fears, destroyed that illusion where it stood, when Arisa had spoken to him, so there was no need to question it again

The only thing there had to be was two friends accepting each other for who they were, without question and without throwing each other aside.

Meaning there was only one thing Arisa had to say in response.

"I'm home. And I missed you too. More than you can ever believe."

Index, Kamijou Touma and Meigo Arisa.

There was something connecting all of them and as Kamijou saw the sight of Arisa pushing past her fears of meeting with him and Index, a small smile came onto his face. It was the same smile which was reflected on the face of Arisa and Index as well.

There were surely questions to be asked in the future of where this friendship would go. Particularly for Index, given she did not fully know what the constitution of Arisa and Shutaura was, there would be a lot of those. But amidst it all, the friendship that had been rekindled and revived spread a smile on Kamijou's face.

A lot had been lost and a lot had been learned.

So seeing something finally being gained was more than that spiky haired boy could ever ask for.

He rose his head into the sky above his head, Othinus on his shoulder turning to him. Given she had no idea what was going on, she tilted her head and spoke.

"What are you smiling about?"

Kamijou turned his head back down, looking at the two girls embracing who now parted. Index waved over to Kamijou while Arisa, who had already reconciled with Kamijou on this matter, smiled and waved as well, indicating to Kamijou it was time for him to join their small group. He didn't waste any time, sprinting towards them while keeping that smile on his face.

And he spoke, leaving behind the words he knew he had to as he ran towards the group and the reunion he had been waiting for so long to be a part of.

"We finally managed to gain something in this. A lot was lost…but we finally have something that can make those in this incident smile. I think that's enough to call it a miracle, don't you think?"


It had all started when Arisa had first been born during the Miracle of 88. There had been a long interval between things reaching here, but right now, this truly was the beginning of something that had been waiting to start for the longest of times.

Was there anything that could explain that? Was there anything that could look down on that?

Surely not.

After all, the smiles of everyone there was all they needed to know now that the hell they had faced was finally over.

And with it, they had come out with each other.

What is a miracle?

There were many things that considered such, but right now, Kamijou Touma was satisfied with the one he had right here and now.

And he would make sure he held onto it with everything he had.

And there we have it!

For an ending, this was surprisingly dark in various places but that ending, while short (?), was something I hope made you smile despite what happened. There were so many things I had to put in here, but at the same time, I do think this properly wraps up the questions existing in this arc, the people who had to be covered and the reunion that had to take place.

Given everything that happened, it might have felt like Arisa played a very little role, but she was the one who turned this entire chapter from being characters facing each other into one that really brought forward the term 'miracle'. But we'll deal with that as we get through the points of this chapter.

Otohime! Wow, she was something else, wasn't she?

It's really important with Otohime to note here is that the hate she has for Orion can really be seen as the opposite to what Accelerator went through during OT. While he was focused upon villains and thinking he was one, Otohime has gone the entirely opposite route in thinking she is a hero, but at the same time, has been undeniably twisted by that line of thinking. She has turned into someone teetering on the edge of something truly dangerous, although the threat that comes from such does not happen from an external source but from one entirely different one; internal.

I think it's important to note with her that the way she speaks of killing Orion with no hesitation and as if it is normal should instantly show how she has changed for the worse here. Unlike Touma, her power has gone to her head and made her think in a truly twisted way given that anything she can say she probably CAN do because of her power. Hence, for the person who has prevented her from doing the things she wants to do, she cannot help but think of them as the truest evil for preventing her from spreading her wings.

At the same time though, I wanted you to think that while excessive, it wasn't unfair to Orion in whole given his character and how he is. He certainly has a lot of this coming and while Otohime might have taken things in various directions, centring it on him is the 'correct' choice by far. However, at the same time, she does not recognise that she needs to be scared of herself more than anything given the route she is taking. I only hope that you can look forward to where things go with her.

Mikoto was also pretty twisted in her own way as well, right!?

Being the character who understands her power and what she can do with it, I think that it's scarier for her to be going off the rails given that she knows exactly what she can do with her power. However, that power is also what makes her as a character. I can barely go without thinking of Mikoto whenever I hear the word 'railgun' so I wanted to take how that power is associated with her and fully bring it forward by showing that it has come to BECOME her entire being. This type of conflict where Mikoto is facing something where brute forcing it is only going to make things worse and she has cannot use power to overcome this obstacle as it was what destroyed it in the first place was really interesting for me (and I hope for you) in the sense as to how she would react. Given her character, I can see her trying to isolate the cause of the problem and deal with it, while also forgetting that it is her herself which is the core of the problem.

That power might have seemed like a godsend, or sometimes frustrating when she can't do anything with it, but here, it really felt like a curse when she felt like she had killed someone. The scream that Mikoto makes suggests she has yet to go off the rails completely, but there is a LOT that Mikoto is going to go through in the future…things that she cannot get through just by using her power. Understanding this is really important to her and where she goes from here, especially given how it would be STRENGTH of character which would save her entirely here!

Again, I hope you can look forward to the struggles of Mikoto in this sense. There has been an untouchable barrier around her for some reason so breaking through that has been fun in numerous ways!

And the mystery of how everyone was saved! Although Touma has his right arm, I focused a lot on his left this time around! In various ways, him losing his left arm changed things a lot in the way things are heading. Did you expect it was his left arm that was going to have things changed instead of his right? I'm going to leave it there, but I hope I've managed to give you yet another reason to read on!

As for the OCs of Orion and Faith…I hope I haven't made them overshadow the other characters too much. Orion here is really a bouncing board for a lot of struggles, but it is the core of those characters who are facing them, not Orion. I really want to make that clear. But given that he is with the Dynamic Duo of assholes of Logic and Deduction, nothing good is going to happen in the future for sure…

And lastly, the final scenes with Arisa. I could have made them longer, I could have had numerous questions asked, but I felt that doing so would have needlessly drawn out the miracle that happened. This chapter was really one where Arisa could have her 'illusions' destroyed that she built up fearing what was going to happen to her friendship, but such a thing was not going to be destroyed so easily. Just having that moment where Index and Arisa are hugging it out and everything is alright was something that really gave me peace of mind, so I hope you enjoyed it too! After all, Arisa has already 'learned' about Touma through Shutaura so what came next was the conclusion of her own struggles. Even if it was short, she is sure to make an appearance in the future so please, stay tuned!

But here we go. I hope this chapter made you laugh, smile, grind your teeth in frustration and go wide eyed at the things that happened. In general, the next arc is going to be very different given the things that happen so you can rest easy: the storm has passed so now it's time for the calm!

I really hope that you enjoyed this arc as it now comes to a close and look forward to the next one!

But seriously, 10 years everyone. You have my deepest thanks and I hope the next few years aren't as slow paced with this story as things have been so far.

And as always,
Review if you please.

And I'll see you when I see you and I won't if I don't.

There's still technically one OC who has yet to have anything resolved…