Customers filled Mitakihara's downtown café at this sunny afternoon. Due to the fact that it was a weekend, in addition to an ongoing special collaboration, attendance was tripled, if only for the time being.
At the edge of the establishment, two large girls occupied what was supposed to be seats for four people.
"You still haven't changed one bit, have you?"
Kyoko made that comment while chomping on two servings of cake and bread. The comment was directed at the green haired girl currently seated across from her. Her face looked younger and more innocent, but as far as body build was concerned, both of them sported the huge, thick frame that symbolized a girl's transformation into a Cibus.
In contrast to the red-haired Cibus, Yuma was more conservative in eating. She never had the appetite to match her partner and was regularly scolded for it. She quietly sipped from the large cup of juice. Despite her quiet disposition, she seemed pleased with her drink, and with careful observation, one could hear a faint tune being hummed.
"Ehh? Is that so, big sis?"
Kyoko did not reply directly to her. Instead, she stared outside the window and gazed at the buildings surrounding the café. While taking a rare break from feasting, her mind was elsewhere.
"That Kyubey… How dare he disappear again after the battle."
It had been a few days after the long, drawn-out battle with the special Esuriens. It was definitely an anomaly, as it had seemingly limitless regenerating capabilities.
Even Kyoko's power that felled countless monsters from both towns were not sufficient in defeating it. It was only due to an intervention by a third party that it was finally put to rest.
It was Yuma, having acquired the power of a Cibus, who managed to defeat that Esuriens. For some reason, the Esuriens had a weakness to attacks of pure magic, something that Kyoko had never encountered before. Physical attacks were easily regenerated, very uncharacteristic of every Esuriens that she had fought during her whole tenure as a Cibus.
"Hmm, is there a reason behind this? Is there anything that Kyubey has been keeping from us?"
Deciding to clear her head for a bit, Kyoko stood up, albeit slowly due to her whole body mass. She took her cup and headed to the counter for more drinks.
It was merely a few meters away from where they sat, yet she proceeded with care. With her body, it would be quite easy for her to disrupt other customers if she would move on with her regular pace, and the last thing she would want is to cause a fuss with regular people.
She finished refilling her cup of soda and was about to head back to the table when she felt something bump her.
Barely saving her soda from spilling, she turned around.
"Hey, watch it! Can't you see what's in front of you?"
She gave a quick glare at the nearly spilled drink, and then angrily pointed at her body. It was unthinkable that someone could actually bump into her accidentally, especially with her stature.
The slight high-pitched squeal came from a girl with brown hair. She wore glasses, and upon closer inspection, different colored contacts on her eyes. She hurried up in fixing her sailor school uniform and gave Kyoko a long, sincere bow.
'Talk about a redundant attire… But who am I to judge?' she thought with a shrug. After her initial angry outburst, she began regarding the shy girl with slight amusement.
With that, Kyoko returned to her seat.
"What a strange girl."
"Huh?" asked Yuma.
"Nothing. Just some careless weirdo."
Kyoko glanced back, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl that bumped into her. However, she was gone.
"So, you getting the hang of your powers yet?" asked Kyoko. "Nevermind. You're still too damn weak and careless at your state right now!"
Facing her in this enclosed and isolated space was her green-haired partner. Both girls were in their Cibus attire, with their weapons drawn. The sparring session has been going on for quite some time now. Both Cibi show signs of slight exhaustion from using their powers.
Yuma, facing the sight of the one that treated her as family, barely mustered a nod, leaving Kyoko with a slightly disappointed sigh. "You see, in battle with those Esuriens, you need focus. It is not every time that you can get a clean hit like what you did before."
Kyoko slammed the end of her spear to the ground before making her move. "Come!"
Yuma held her weapon and shot bolts out of it, which Kyoko easily deflected with her spear.
Hitting the ground, she followed up with the summoning of red and black crystals that lined up like a barrier. Seeing that attack, Yuma staggered. Her eyes widened, and she instinctively took a few steps back before turning around and running from the forming walls of crystals.
"Come on!" whined Yuma. She grasped her weapon as she lumbered away.
She looked over her shoulders and found no one behind the walls. The very next moment, her vision was filled with the huge frame of the red-haired Cibus.
In such a short span, Kyoko had managed to close the gap by traveling around her. "Something wrong? Where is that strength you mustered when you came to help me? Show it to me!"
Before Yuma could register what just happened, a blunt smack from the spear's dull edge struck her by the chin and sent her stumbling back. A follow-up sweep on the legs got her off her feet, causing her to crash a few inches away from Kyoko.
"I'm still not happy you ended up becoming a Cibus just like that. Let us just call this trial by fire, okay?"
Yuma backed off, then complained. "Take it easy, big sis! I made that wish to save you!"
Kyoko laughed that last statement off, then looked at her in the eye. Despite that laugh, she was in no mood in playing around.
"It's been a few days already, Yuma. There's no excuse for you to slack off in battle. What if you somehow run into a solo fight against an Esuriens? This is the life of a Cibus, not just perks in life with your newfound powers."
She turned her back on Yuma before glancing sideways with a cocky grin.
"The moment you take up that contract, your human life ends, and a new you is born: One that lives for battle. You either run away from that life and find yourself dead or you learn to love battle, salivate in the experience, and find thrill in slaying the enemies."
The confident smirk never left her lips all this time.
She raised her spear. Before the match could resume, she stopped. She held the spear firmly, and her face shifted to one that seemed on edge.
Yuma felt the same aura suddenly envelop the air. She hurriedly got up and began looking around for the source of that strong chilling aura.
There was no mistaking it. An Esuriens had spawned just now. As for its actual distance, it remained something that could only be guessed through estimation. However, since the two Cibi were able to feel the aura….
"It's not too far from here!" Kyoko exclaimed with renewed vigor. She began running towards the source of the distortion.
Yuma lagged behind, letting out a wail. "W-wait for me, big sis!"
"Die!" shouted a boisterous voice.
A gigantic axe was swung with immense force, bringing down the Esuriens with a powerful strike. To call it a massacre would be an understatement. The humanoid monster's entire torso was cleaved in two following the mighty swing. One of its arms flew off through the sheer force of the impact.
The attack originated from a Cibus, one with long, blue hair. Just like all Cibi, she had a large, thick frame.
"You should think twice before messing with the great Komaki Asako, shitty monster!" proudly claimed the Cibus. The handle of her axe hit the ground in a triumphant gesture.
It would certainly have been over, had it not been for one thing. The barrier had not dissipated. The kaleidoscopic surroundings that served as the boundary away from the world of the living persisted. Never mind the cold air that swirled around the area like a violent tempest.
"So, you're one of those guys, huh?"
Unfazed, Komaki turned around to see the Esuriens slowly regenerating. Her eyebrows furrowed as she waited for the monster to regrow the very limbs and body parts that have been crushed by her powerful swing.
She seemed to have knowledge about these kinds of Esuriens that had appeared in Mitakihara. Instead of entering a state of panic at the sight of the recovering monster, Komaki instead prepared herself in a ready stance.
"Guess you're those types who wouldn't die by repeated hitting. In that case…"
With her powers, Komaki engulfed the regenerating Esuriens inside a magical pillar which slowly began to take the shape of a bubble. With a sturdy coat, it looked more like a barrier meant to protect. However, an aura began enveloping the bubble before it can fully close.
As for what she had planned, no one could tell. The moment that she started trapping the Esuriens inside her bubble in preparation for her attack, a large beam shot out and sniped the Esuriens' head off.
"Who goes there?!"
She snapped as the barrier began dissipating. However, it was not the person responsible for the ranged attack that was in the place where the beam came from. Instead…
"Another Cibus?" wondered Kyoko. She walked towards Komaki with apprehension. Gripping her spear just as firmly as the blue-haired one did with the axe, she showed no sign of stopping.
Both of their eyes met, and Komaki braced herself.