This is a take on Mikoto's actions right after NT15 ended. This is one side of a little challenge fellow writer Skarlashka and I had fun doing, where we each wrote one version of the same event, from a different POV. Thanks to Skar for betaing and make sure you check out her side of the challenge as well, "Remain in Disparity"!
The challenge in my case:
- Mikoto returns to the dorm after the events of NT15.
- Use Mikoto's POV.
- Stay under 3000 words.
From Now On
It was past midnight. The streets of District 7 were void of life and the streetlamps dimmed. Given the city's strict jurisdiction on keeping pets, not even a stray cat wandered outside at this time.
Yet someone walked along the street like in a daze. Her name was Misaka Mikoto.
Her face was still mostly covered in blood, but Mikoto didn't seem to care. It had been a price to pay. She was probably lucky it hadn't been worse. For touching something dangerous, a dragon or a monster, and borrowing its power, a punishment like that was expected.
There'd been a blank hole. Something she couldn't read, even with her power. But it had given her a glimpse of that next stage.
The Anti-Skill officer had offered to drive her home, but Mikoto slipped away while he wasn't looking.
"Heh." A small laugh escaped her. She glanced up at the sky, the dim stars barely visible beyond the artificial lights of the city. I can't believe I didn't see it before. It had only been a glimpse. For a fleeting second, she'd been able to see it. The viewpoint which changed everything about the world.
If she could only find that source, learn more and grasp it completely within her own mind, then maybe she'd be able to fully understand. Maybe she'd be able to stand at the same stage as that boy. Her throat was dry, but she felt it did not need water. Only knowledge could sate that thirst.
She had to find out where to start. Was there a database somewhere? Or did she have to find some underground group and squeeze information out of them?
The thought made her slow down to a stop. She stood in the middle of the dark street, and if a car had come at that moment, she might not even have moved.
Searching for information meant finding people. So how many people out there knew of this other viewpoint of the world that she didn't?
A wry grin crept over her face. It's like I've been living in a box. All this time, that knowledge had been there. It wasn't like it had appeared yesterday. Somebody knew. That boy, the girl in the raincoat who called herself a murderer, the woman who'd tried to end his life and whom Mikoto had blasted with that dragon.
It felt great. Knowing that so many people knew, made it all the more easier. I just have to find some of them and wring the information out of them. Most likely, this is not hidden on any database in Academy City.
No. She could feel that this was beyond even that advanced city. Everything of science, that was Academy City, and Mikoto didn't feel like there was a lot left for her by following its curriculum.
This was different. If she could get a hold on this knowledge, then reaching the stars and even going beyond them might not be impossible. It was ridiculous, but she felt it was true. So her first move should be…
Someone touched her hand and she blinked.
She was in a room. It was the lobby of her dorm. Since when did I get here?
She must have walked on auto-pilot. In front of her, Kuroko sported a worried expression as she gently held Mikoto's hand. She looked like she'd just woken up.
Another voice cleared their throat. The dorm supervisor adjusted her glasses with a menacing glint. She, too, was in her sleeping gown, like a fearsome ghost.
"Finally decided to join us, Misaka?"
"Onee-sama, do you even know what time it is?"
"Don't 'oh' me! Where have you been? What's with all the blood!?"
Kuroko looked scared and uncertain. That's right, I shouldn't worry her.
"You're not! You stood here spacing out for several minutes before I came, and wouldn't even respond when we talked!"
"It's all good, Kuroko. I know what to do now."
Her roommate blinked, but Mikoto merely smiled. That rushing feeling from before filled her chest. "There's something more out there. If I can grab it with my own two hands and properly analyze it, I'll…" she trailed off. She wasn't sure what that would mean. She only knew it was what she had to do. There was no turning back, the first step had already been taken. A line had been crossed and it had opened the invisible prison she'd been stuck in. It was as if she'd finally woken in a body she had previously only borrowed.
"…" Meanwhile, Kuroko's expression grew tenser and tenser. The dorm mistress had picked up her cell phone. From the sound of it, she was calling a doctor.
"Heh." Mikoto let out a laugh. "I was planning on sneaking back in without waking you, Kuroko. Sorry for having you dragged out of bed."
She walked past Kuroko towards the staircase.
"I'll just get a change of clothes, then I'll head out again."
"What? Where!? It's almost 4am, where do you think you're going at this time? The game arcade isn't open this early!"
Worry made her spout ridiculous things. Kuroko followed Mikoto up the stairs, but Mikoto just kept smiling. I can do this. I just need to find somewhere to start. And it's not here.
She wouldn't be able to find what she was looking for in Tokiwadai. The beast she'd touched might belong to the city, but now she needed to find its creator. Something like that must have been manufactured somewhere. Anti-Art Attachment. It would be her key into learning more. She'd chase down every path or clue she found that seemed remotely connected. This held topmost priority right now.
"There's nothing else left for me here anyway. Trying to cling onto that will just slow me down."
"Wait, Onee-sama! What are you mumbling about? Ah, before that, all these scratches and tears in your clothes – don't tell me that kind of thing happened in the bushes somewhere!?"
"It did." Mikoto said without thinking.
"It did!? O-Onee-sama! You're not listening to what I'm saying, are you?"
"It's alright, Kuroko. I just need to figure something out."
Mikoto entered their room with Kuroko trailing behind like a wriggling tail. As she stepped inside, Mikoto was struck by a constricting feeling. She stopped in her tracks and Kuroko crashed into her.
"…It's so small."
"Eh? Onee-sama?" Kuroko was rubbing her nose with a puzzled face.
"No wonder. There are walls everywhere. Even Academy City is just a giant bird cage. But something's slipped in through the cracks. And from now on…" Her breath felt sweet. She felt she could finally tear down the walls of her room and properly view the world outside. It was the greatest feeling.
"I need more of this. I want to view the world from an even wider perspective!"
Kuroko was clearly grasping at straws. "At least let us get you cleaned up and…"
"It doesn't matter." Mikoto was already by her closet, shuffling through clothes. The Tokiwadai uniform would not cut it. If she was going to investigate something like this, it was better to not be recognized. It was also better to base herself somewhere else. On the off-chance that someone tracked her down, it was better to not lead them to the dorm.
Yes. She would start by hacking every database she could get her hands on for information on the Anti-Art Attachment. That woman had looked like a scientist. She could probably find her name somewhere as well.
She'd start there, and then go deeper. Until she grasped all of it.
Her lips had pulled up into a grin, but Mikoto didn't notice. She didn't notice Kuroko's worried glances or her failed attempts at saying something more.
Mikoto did not notice anything but the thirst growing in her chest.
When she left the dorm, nobody tried to stop her.