Serene morning of a new day finally arrived, making the whole incident with a feline warrior a thing of past. Despite such fact, the memory of the day before still reigned strongly. Even though the Fellowship managed to score a victory in a battle against him, fear of his return still lingered. However, the return of allies was anticipated by others.
Two dorks who remained in the school were the first ones who would see them awake from their forceful slumber. They were still sleeping in their bags, with Chiaki being noticeably closer to him than before. Knowing that, in her words, he did nothing "weird" to her, he gained absolute trust of hers. All that was heard that morning was the soft morning breeze and somewhat loud snoring of the sleepy girl. Somehow, Hajime managed to put up with the noise.
Soon enough, their sleep came to an abrupt end.
Both of them were catapulted out of their sleep upon hearing the masculine sounding scream of pure terror. Raising their torsos without even unzipping their bags, they went on full alert.
"W-what the hell was that?!" Hajime thought in shock as he and Chiaki unzipped their bags and rolled out of them, standing up as they hastily entered the hospital room. Once they went inside, two students saw that someone was already awake. A penguin, in fact. Out of all people and three birds present, the leader penguin sat, staring at the wall with his bloodshot eyes.
"What's going on here?!" asked Hajime out of concern as both of them approached the distressed bird.
"Tell me, my boy….tell me! Is the flag still stars and stripes?" Skipper looked at them in their eyes like a man dying on a battlefield as he gave them the question. Suddenly, the urgency was replaced by utter confusion.
"...I'm sorry, but what the hell are you talking about?" faltered Hajime upon hearing his words, completely caught off guard by a topic he expected least for that day. Chiaki was just as confused, as she tried to raise her finger to say something, but her mind was too puzzled to answer.
"America! Is the flag of America still stars and stripes and not hammer and sickle?" clarified Skipper, still sounding like he was in a traumatic incident. Not that it curbed the whole bafflement of his human allies. After a moment of them looking at each other, somehow being unsure about whether or not America was still America of today, they checked with a quick search on the world wide web. It turned out, the flag of United States still consisted of fifty stars and thirteen stripes, contrary to what Skipper's fears told him.
"Uh, it still is. Why it wouldn't be?" confirmed Hajime, still confused as ever.
"Hammer and sickle flag hasn't been used since….1991...and we're not in 1991, I think." added Chiaki with uncertainty in her voice as she checked her phone again, revealing that it was, indeed, not 1991.
"Oh sweet mama Mary, for I am glad that this is the reality! America is still not a communist haven!" Skipper laid down on the bed out of relief as he let out a sigh. Neither Chiaki nor Hajime commented on his political stance as theirs wasn't firm enough. Not only that, they were both confused on what exactly was Skipper talking about.
"...Did you have any weird dreams about it?" Chiaki, upon thinking about it for longer than he should, got an idea what Skipper was referring though. She had an experience with bizarre dreams as well, whether they be pleasant or fiendishly nightmarish.
"Yes! I remember it vividly!" Skipper jumped back on his feet as he started telling them about the whole dream:
"It was year 1989, when after increased tensions, Soviet Union has finally decided to strike on NATO. The Fulda gap scenario became real as the hordes of T-72's came rolling down on West Germany. Grads, Migs, SAM's, they were all there. Life expectancy of those who lived was measured in minutes. It was nothing but explosions...not the movie ones, the real ones, with shrapnel and all!".
Both of them remained silent for a bit, surprised not only about the whole elaborateness of the dream, but also how uncomfortable it felt. Chiaki had a slight idea why: video games gave her a gist of the whole invasion of Europe by Soviet Union would be. A bloodshed that would exceed the one that happened through out forties and that's just taking in consideration conventional warfare.
"….That's...that's a really horrible scenario...I can't imagine how much death and devastation would be there….if it happened….I'm sorry you've had a dream like that, Skipper." lamented Chiaki, getting shivers upon imagining the scenario. Death of one person was already line crossing for her, let alone carnage of millions. Hajime just stood silently, trying to comprehend the severity of such scenario.
"That's not even the worst thing! What absolutely made this one of the worst nightmares I've ever had was….Tom led the commies!" Skipper revealed another thing that happened in his dream. They were both weirded out by the fact he didn't consider deaths of millions of the whole scenario, but the named person caught their interest, as they haven't heard such name before.
"….Tom?" Chiaki tilted her head in curiosity.
"Who exactly is this Tom character you are talking about?" asked Hajime, squinting at him.
"Are you two ready for a truth bomb?" Skipper pointed his flipper at them, just making sure that both of them were mentally prepared to hear about the identity of that Tom character. The penguin took a deep breath to prepare himself for it.
"It's the cat. The cat that kicked all of us in our butts!" Skipper, as he said, dropped the truth bomb upon them, causing both of them to be startled by such revelation. Such a mundane name for a creature that not only defied laws of nature, but spat on them. All sorts of thoughts went through their heads, with most notable being the one that was more or less "pride of Japan got absolutely bodied by a house cat named Tom". Not exactly the most prideful legacy to have.
"...Are you saying that we and you, students of Hope's peak and top secret penguin commandos, or whatever you call yourselves…..got beaten by A CAT NAMED TOM?!" yelped Hajime as he understood the fact that the very thing that kicked ideals of Hope's peak in the groin had the simple Aramaic name that meant twin. His brain was starting to receive an overload of shock.
"Thomas Jasper "Tom" Cat Senior, if we are being precise." Kowalski woke up from unconsciousness with the speed of a spring, just to provide more information on their enemy. Chiaki was slightly startled, since she didn't expect a recovery so quick. However, Hajime was still in shock.
"Kowalski, did you just wake up from your unconsciousness just to correct me?" Skipper asked out of complete bafflement from how Kowalski managed to pull out of the force induced coma just by the sheer need to correct something.
"Our answers must be 100% correct, Skipper." Kowalski stoically replied, with utmost seriousness in his voice. That was his life motto. By that point, certain ahoge boy's brains have already metaphorically melted from comprehending the humiliating fact of losing against a cat.
"W-wha….What DO YOU MEAN SENIOR?! I swear, it just-our lives, total shitposts, am I right? AM I RIGHT?!" Hajime started to freak out, flailing his arms as if he was in legitimate pain. All of those years looking up to Hope's peak as some kind of ideal, a school that will make him someone worthy, was shattered by the simple reality that most of the talented folk were outclassed by him. Not to mentions, the fact that Tom, to put it crudely, had sex. Way ahead of everyone born before him.
"Uh, Hajime? I'm sorry to bother, but...I think you need to cool it. Just...take a breath, please." Chiaki just gently placed her hand on his shoulder, startling him a little once he noticed the soft touch of her palm as he turned towards her. From her look alone, he could tell that she was afraid for him, that such reaction could damage him.
"Ah...sorry about that, Chiaki...just that….you know….how can we, as members of Hope's peak academy, one of...erm...the most revered places in whole Japan….got utterly wrecked by a cat named Tom?" Hajime, as Chiaki said to him, took a deep breath and slowly collected his thoughts. He still couldn't shake off the humiliation, although those present at the time of Tom knew that he had every right to be afraid of.
"I mean, you've seen how he was…" Chiaki gave him a reminder that even though he looked like a feline, he was anything but. Nothing about him was natural after all. However, it wasn't just Chiaki who expressed concern for Hajime.
"This crooked latrine of an academy has completely gotten into your head, hasn't it?" Skipper called him out for his view on Hope's peak. Needless to say, the ahoge man had a hard pill to swallow upon hearing such opinion.
"I'm sorry, but what did you call Hope's peak?" quivered Hajime not out rage over being defensive over Hope's peak, but rather out of sheer surprise of Skipper's audacity to compare one of the most supposedly revered institutions in the whole Japan got compared to a toilet.
"Exactly what it is! This whole place is one big scam! Talent, pfft! It's just an artificial title to bolster up...whatever they plan to. They let anyone in, I swear! The day when we see something like Ultimate Serial Killer, Ultimate War Criminal or Ultimate Hippie, I swear I'm going to get cognac at this point." Skipper further argumented as he vented out a decent amount of his frustrations regarding the said institution. Due to recent events, the ahoge man was inclined to believe him, although he still had reservations.
"I...I know about the talent thing being a sham, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't let actual war criminals or serial killers inside, right?" Hajime tried to argue that Hope's peak at least had decency to not do that, but even he wasn't entire sure. He looked towards Chiaki, hoping that she had more faith in school. "….right?"
"Hmmm…...I dunno. I hope not, but they did let people like Ultimate Scammer and Ultimate Procrastinator inside….so maybe?" Chiaki replied in a contemplative tone, noticing that it wasn't exactly right on the mark on how Hope's peak got two Daft Capo members inside. That didn't exactly raise Hajime's high hopes for the academy, but both of them had a point. One must base their thoughts in reality, after all.
"See, Chiaki gets it!" Skipper complimented her about the observation. Considering that he kept calling her "Marshmallow face", it felt kinda weird her. Although she would normally deflect any praise, she was starting to lose track on what were they talking about.
"This conversation has sort of went all over the places. From…..hypothetical Fulda gap scenario to the cat to now talent….I think, while we wait for others, can you guys tell us more about this….Tom...uh….enemy?" Chiaki quietly advised to focus on one aspect only: their dreaded adversary.
"Well, he had a beard just like Lenin-" Skipper started to recall how Tom looked like in his dream, especially remembering that he had the exact same pose as the aforementioned dictator of the Soviet Union when he rode T-72 Main Battle Tank into the battlefield. He was also dressed in a suit, proper for a politician.
"The real one, not the dream one. The real one didn't have a beard like Lenin, I think." Chiaki redirected him towards the real one, who was wearing the dapper zoot suit instead of a business suit. Somehow, Hajime was very weirded out upon hearing her say a surname like that.
"This is where I come into play, so let the man of science speak." Kowalski announced that he would be the one to do a little info dumping regarding their adversary.
"Go for it, my man." Skipper allowed him with zero hesitation. Kowalski took a deep inhale to mentally prepare himself for elaboration of a force few could comprehend.
"Thomas Jasper "Tom" Cat was a former Hollywood star, famous for his improvised live action theatrical shorts by the name of "Tom and Jerry", where he collaborated with his partner Gerald Jinx "Jerry" Mouse. They defined not just American culture, but worldwide as well. Their show started in 1940, where-".
However, his exposition came to a brief, but abrupt interruption.
"Hold it...hold it….Kowalski, are you saying that he's from 40's?!" Hajime was starting to panic again upon learning that Tom was actually a fossil when it came to age.
"What I was actually saying that his show started in 40's…..No historian nor scientist know how truly old is he…and plethora of other questions that would make my mind receive a meltdown if I think about it too much." Kowalski further elaborated, with the new revelation making this feline figure much more mysterious. It was starting to affect Kowalski's mind as his voice started to become more fearful upon revealing more information regarding Tom. That was just an average effect on trying to know things barely comprehensible to the man.
"Uh...just to get the picture, what's the life expectancy of cats?" asked Chiaki, curious to know on how truly anomalous Tom was compared to a normal cat.
"It's around twenty years, Chiaki." Hajime gave her an answer right off the bat, always open to helping her with anything. Such gained knowledge gave a clearer picture for her on why Tom was defying nature.
"Huh….so that means Tom should have lived until 60's, I think." Chiaki scratched her chin as she thought of reasons why Tom was able to live so long. She was only surface level with trying to comprehend such a force, so the migraine did not hit her at that moment.
"Intriguing observation you have, Chiaki, because according to the official sources, Tom has disappeared from the public image in 60's. No one knows why….no one know HOW did he-no, I'm thinking of it again! Just thinking about him is like…" Kowalski started to tremble from sheer power of thinking about Tom before he managed to regain his composure.
"Ill omen?" Hajime raised his eyebrow as he gave the word to him.
"Something like that but more scientific. Can't put my flipper on it." Kowalski scratched his beak with his own flipper as his brain was lost in thought.
"Hmmm….if Tom is so old, does that mean that Daft Capo is also older than we think?" Chiaki gave another question for them, curious about the true age of the adversary criminal syndicate.
"Nope, I can assure you that Daft Capo is one hundred percent relatively recent thing….about ten years old, judging from documents. They rose to power really quick." Skipper confidently answered, knowing all to well from the files they snatched through out their conflict against Daft Capo.
"Ah, I see. Your information has been really useful. You should tell that to others too. Thank you, Skipper." Chiaki did a little bow to show gratitude not only for just telling them more, but supporting them through out the entire conflict. Had it not been for penguins, it would have very likely be that Hope's peak would be under Daft Capo's control just days after Herman would launch his initial attack.
"No problemo." Skipper put his flippers around his stomach like a confident boss. After their talk, another person broke out of their forceful slumber that they couldn't control.
"….Nyaaa…..can't believe my childhood idol was the one who beat my butt into oblivion,...nya…" Faris slowly rose from her bed as she rubbed her eye. The maid cat girl had a small frown on her face, along with a somewhat defeated look in her eyes.
"Faris?" Hajime shifted his focus towards the wounded cat girl. Even though for all teasing she has done for him, he couldn't help but being concerned for her. She was his friend after all.
"Feline Fatale! Tell me your status!" Skipper pointed his flipper at her, demanding that she reports everything she could.
"Ah, welcome back, Faris. How are you?" Chiaki warmly greeted her, just wanting to know if everything was okay with her.
"Nya…..pretty busted all things considered. I haven't even realized that we were facing Tom. That show was one of my favorites when I was a child. I always rooted for the cat, nya...since you know-" confided Faris while also expressing her enthusiasm for such live action show, even though she was disappointed that the icon among cats just beat her up. All that changed when she looked around and saw what her former idol did to her friends. All those who have fallen were still lying in their bed, all unconscious. Her irises shrunk as a realization hit her.
"...Oh my goodness….he did all of that?" whimpered Faris in a voice that managed to surprise those who were awake. It felt more genuine, a voice of a fearful girl just looking at the consequence of fighting against such a force. Neither penguins realized it before they looked around as well, seeing just how much damage was made the day before.
"Oh, sweet mother Mary of Joseph! Tom….is capable of this?" Skipper startled upon the sight, with Kowalski just remaining silent about, even though he was just as shocked.
"….Yeah…." Chiaki and Hajime both nodded at the same time, while having the uncertain feeling of regret regarding the incident. They felt like they could have prevented it in a way, even if it was just faint hope for reassurance. Faris quietly observed the room until her eyes were laid upon her close friend Ibuki. It was at that point when the memories started to flood back, with not a single one being even remotely pleasant at all.
"...I...I remember it all now….and I thought he was just a...cat..." Faris trembled as she started to recollect the whole event. Not once once before Tom went serious did she think about that the cat was capable of such devastation.
"We all thought….but, I'm not sure if it's appropriate to say….but we did beat him." said Chiaki with a more optimistic smile. Even though the fight was something that they will remember with dread, she wasn't wrong that the outcome was their victory. Both penguins and Faris were quite stomped in surprise by such statement.
"Hold it right there, Miss…..How?!" sputtered Skipper as he gave attentions towards those who remained conscious through out the entire incident.
"Hmmm….probably because of our strategy relied on coordinated attack….and I think part of it is luck too." Chiaki expressed her thoughts while also admitting that the lady luck was on their side too.
"If we require this much for one member, this is gonna leave us with...a lot of problems in the future." Hajime pointed out that they're more or less hosed if Daft Capo decides to perform a coordinated attack on them, unless they were more than prepared.
"You're on point, Hajime. Now we just need to change our approach-" Skipper started to give suggestions regarding fighting the criminal syndicate in the future, only for his eyes to meet with a sight he did not expect. "Just a sec, what happened to you?".
The gang leader, now covered in cast almost in entirety but his face, laid on his bed. Others were at least knocked out, but he had a special lack of fortune for having a considerable amount of his bones broken.
"...Yo." Mondo mustered as much as he could, though he couldn't turn his face towards those who were conscious.
"Ah, glad to see you, Mondo...but….you're….uh…" Chiaki greeted him, although it would have been awkward to ask if he was alright, considering his physical state.
"My bones are fucked, man. That bastard hits like a truck." Mondo clarified, struggling to just talk normally.
"We know, but how exactly did you get your bones broken by him?" asked Skipper, curious about how out of everyone present, he was the one who had his skeleton considerably damaged.
"I...don't know really. Last thing I remember was his hell of an ugly mug." muttered Mondo as his mind was nothing more than a blur. All he could picture was him charging at the feline menace like an angered bull. Luckily for them, a certain avian woke up from his oddly self inflicted state of unconsciousness by raising his flipper.
"Rico! You have something to say. Tell us!" Skipper ordered him to spill the beans. Rico gladly complied as he stood up and started imitating the incident. Firstly, he started with an imitation of the biker man, mixed with an angry bull. Rico showed the person seething as he mimicked the charge, only for him to switch side, making an imitation of the menace himself. Contrast to the first one, he stoic with his eyes filled with thirst for physical violence. With a swift movement, Rico displayed how Mondo got his bones broken: with a lightning fast uppercut that managed to break the ceiling.
Those who watched got the general idea. However, the participant of the event was unable to.
"..What did he say?" asked Mondo, since he couldn't translate grunts of Rico into a comprehensible language.
"He said that you received an uppercut so hard that you went through the ceiling? Is that right, Rico?" elaborated Kowalski, which immediately gave Mondo a crisis. It was confirmed that a cat managed to not only beat him, but severely damage his bones as well.
"Uh huh." nodded Rico, cementing such fact.
"….What the fuck? How? How did that-" questioned Mondo in bafflement, along with his complex regarding strength kicking in. Worst thing was that his entire class saw what happened to him, even those who looked up to him for his strength were shaken by such sight.
"Don't question it, for the sake of your mind." Kowalski advised him to not repeat the same mistake as he did, as in trying to comprehend
"Yeah...best not to…." Hajime agreed with the tall penguin.
"Yeah...I'll take your words, dudes. Don't worry too much about me, I'll be….strong….yeah….strong…." Mondo attempted to reassure them, but his "must be strong" complex was already surfacing up. They believed his words, although there was one uncertainty left.
"...Also, why did you hit yourself on the head again?" Hajime turned towards the mentioned penguin with a squint. Rico responded with pointing his flipper at his comrades with a determined look on his face.
"Forgot to mention, but there's a cemented "Leave no man behind" policy among us. This applies to the whole Fellowship as well." answered Skipper, giving a clarification on why exactly Rico refused to leave his colleagues behind. It became clear to them and they didn't judge him for it.
As they had their talk, a horned person awoke from their slumber, slowly as her cat girl friend did before.
"Ibuki! You're awake!" Faris looked towards her musician friend with a smile appearing on her face. The maid cat girl's voice also returned to her normal, squeaky self, as fear was replaced with relaxing reassurance. Ibuki's awakening did not bring comfort just to her cat friend, but to other Hope's peak students as well.
"Morning, Ibu-" Chiaki wanted to greet her as warmly as she did to others, but she stopped herself once she, along with others, noticed that something was off with her musician friend. For one, her eyes were rolling as if she came right out of a cartoon. With a tongue sticking out, she swayed side from side like a pendulum.
"Pfffrrrrrrttt...blblblblbl…..prrrrrr…" Ibuki attempted to talk, but all she could do was make noises. A rather odd cry for help. However, her cat girl friend knew in what condition she was: Ibuki having scrambled brains again. Happens every time when she gets remotely dizzy.
"Oh yeah, just one second." Faris hopped off from her bed, preemptively grabbing her own pillow as she grabbed Ibuki's shoulders.
"Ibu-nyaaaaaaa!" Faris shook the Ibuki like a bell, forcefully ending her dizziness. Once Ibuki returned to her normal self, a memory flash happened inside her brain. She remembered Tom's transformation from a silly cat into a beast. Ibuki became mortified as her skin became completely pale. For a concerning amount of time, Ibuki just sat silently, staring into nowhere with nothing but dread. That meant only one thing.
"Oh heck, it's happening! Penguins, give me another pillow!" Faris alerted that a potential major damage of everyone's eardrums was incoming.
"Affirmative!" Skipper just threw his own pillow across the room. With a little hop, Faris managed to catch it midair and prepared herself for the possible audio disruption. Once it all flashed back to her, Ibuki put her hands on her face like a ghost hunting plumber, with inevitable coming. Just before Ibuki could scream, Faris gagged her with two pillows, severely dampening loudness of her scream. If she tried enough, she would have destroyed windows with resonance of her scream. After it seemed like she stopped yelling, Faris removed both pillows from her mouth. Judging from her expression, it seemed like she was genuinely afraid, not just exaggerating for fun.
"C-c-cat?! W-w-was- that….c-cat?!...Zoot...Z-zoot suit?!-" Ibuki, once her mind returned to her, started panicking, still having flashes of the confrontation with the enemy. She was trembling as a whole, as others picked up on it.
"Calm down, Ibuki. Just take deep breaths, okay?" Chiaki stepped towards her and grabbed her hand, letting her to breathe. Seeing Chiaki there, not flashes of the enemy, helped quite a bit when it came to soothing her. The gentle, warm voice of her friend lifted off weight from her heart. "It's going to be fine...we've already dealt with him...for now, I think.".
Ibuki just took a few deep breaths and closed her eyes for a moment, trying to filter out past events, so that she could focus on present. One that showed that not only will her friends support her, but one where everyone will be alright in the end. She just sat there, shut eye as she was trying to mediate in her own way.
"I think it's best to just let her process everything...we should now focus on what's happening now. The fact that we're seeing you guys returning...is already a sign we're on the right track." advised Chiaki to not dread upon the past, but to rather combat with present.
"It's probably for the best if we talk about...past events, to say at least, later…" Hajime concurred with her advice, knowing that they must prevail in order to end the conflict between the school and the criminal syndicate.
"Good idea, my colleague. We'll deal with this once we're all in tip top shape." Skipper approved of her idea, deciding that they'll discuss further plans after everyone comes back and is in the right mind. Just as they said that, the one who followed was none other than the little programmer himself. He really took some time to get up as he kind of struggling to get up due to lacking energy. His friends noticed him once he managed to rise from the bed.
"Ah, Chihiro! There you are!" Chiaki greeted him as she was getting increasingly relieved that more of her friends were coming back. Although her happiness came to a halt when she saw in what state was her programmer friend. The look on his eyes was dead, with a blank frown accompanying it. Her smile disappeared upon seeing him like that.
"….Hi." murmured Chihiro, not even making eye contact from the sheer shame he felt regarding himself. It wasn't just that, as everything he believed in was also shaken by the incident of the previous day. Just from his voice alone could be told that he was holding back tears.
"Is everything alright? You seem…" softly asked Chiaki, wanting to do her best to help him on any trouble he had.
"I'll….I'll talk about it...once I'm ready. Just...not now…" mumbled Chihiro as he rested his head on his arm, promising her that he will talk about certain issues once he is in the right state. Even though an insecurity regarding unable to help her friends kicked in for a bit, she nodded, respecting his wish.
"Take your time with it. Don't force yourself about it." suggested Hajime, also respecting his wish regarding opening up to what bothered him.
"...Yeah...that'd probably be the best…." Chihiro concluded the conversation as he went through emotions. Small flows of tears went down his face, even though he was trying his best to hide it from them. His friends still wanted to reach out to him and help him carry the burden, but they didn't want to put pressure on him.
As the time passed, another one awakened, a person, as much as they didn't favor it, known for their skills in baseball department. He groaned as he lifted himself from the bed. The noise was heard among those who were awake.
"Yo, Leon! I can hear ya!" Mondo greeted him in a friendly way, even though he couldn't see him. However, it was not the greeting that were Leon's first words after being unconscious.
"Goddamnit! I could have hit him if it wasn't for the wind, I could have hit him!" Leon slammed his fist on the bed, lamenting the fact that he could have dealt damage during Tom's attack and possibly give others a chance. Alas, Tom's position at that time remained uncontested. However, those who did not see such extent of Tom's capabilities raised their eyebrows upon mentioning the natural force of air.
"Wind? What do you mean?" Private woke up from his slumber out of a sudden when he heard the word. Penguins and the biker man were just as intrigued on what he meant by that.
"Oh hello there, Private! Good timing on your awakening." Skipper welcomed him before he focused on baseball player's statement. "Anyway, what do you by wind?".
"Hm...how should I put it? It was like….tornadoes out of his hands. Like, really strong tornadoes! We were toyed around it." Leon started telling them about the incident when Tom unleashed his wind based attack upon those present in that warehouse. Those who weren't there couldn't believe it.
"Leon, what the fuck are you talking about?" Mondo sincerely asked since he had no idea how to even imagine it.
"I'm not making shit up, it really happened!" insisted Leon that his eyes weren't deceiving him, that it was not an illusion, but a cruel and cold reality.
"Yep, we can confirm this. We were witnesses as well." Chiaki backed up his claims, since she, along with Hajime and Rico, saw it all.
"And there was like...an entire aerial whirlpool and he generated dubstep somehow!" Leon further added, much to confusion of others.
"...So what you're saying is that Tom can GENERATE DUBSTEP TORNADOES?!" Skipper's eyes became wider when he heard that the cat was capable of such power.
"I-I don't even know at this point!" Leon grabbed his head with both of his arms as he was starting to get symptoms of "trying to comprehend Tom's power", which would always end in a mental breakdown.
"Let us not think about it! I can already feel my brain deep fried from having mere thoughts about it!" Kowalski advised him not to overwhelm himself with power he cannot comprehend. As they had their conversations, two girls joined the consciousness realm, the idol and the detective respectively. They were just as slow in terms of waking up as others were, with taking some time to get a full grasp on situation.
"Is it...is it over?" Sayaka timidly asked once her vision became clear. Her skin was pale from fear, just like Ibuki, who was starting to return to her true self at that point.
"It is...for now. We can relax now, I think." reassured Chiaki as she placed her hand where her heart was. Her innocent smile have Sayaka some reassurance that things will turn out to be okay, even though it seemed like dread was dominant.
"T-thank goodness…" Sayaka hugged herself as she started at the floor, still trembling regarding the previous incident. The fear struck deep within her. However, Kyoko's reaction was much calmer, with her trying to comprehend previous events.
"...What even happened?" Kyoko asked herself, not knowing what happened after she was knocked out of the fight. Despite seeing the whole incident with her own eyes
"Later, please." Kowalski stopped anyone trying to clarify the situation, since it genuinely had negative effects on anyone's brain. Soon more people woke up, with those being Mahiru, Mikan, Hiyoko, Makoto and Kiyotaka. As more of them got up, the atmosphere within the hospital room was starting to get lighter. The procedure of waking up was same as others, however reactions different.
"Mahiru! You're alive!" Hiyoko cheered once she saw her redhead photographer friend awake. She jumped off the bed and immediately gave her a hug. Mahiru, even though her cheeks became red, returned the hug with gratitude.
"You too, Hiyoko! It was just so scary…" Mahiru tightened the hug, embracing her little friend with affection while expressing the fear she felt during that day.
"Y-yeah...it was…" Hiyoko, unlike in any other circumstances, trembled as she shared the same fear. It was a rare moment when Hiyoko was not just verbally attacking anyone. In a way, others knew what she felt and couldn't blame her for it.
"Aaah! I-is he still here?!" yelped Mikan as she nervously looked around to see if Tom was still around. Luckily, the only animals were just penguins.
"No, we defeated him...for now." reassured Hajime, but still cautioned them that it was very far from over. It was just a new phase in the conflict.
"Phew….that's one less thing to worry about...I-I guess…" Mikan sighed in relief as a moment of silence followed. Oddly enough, she was fully prepared for Hiyoko to lash out on her, but it didn't happen. She was too busy being comforted by Mahiru. Truly, times were getting strange.
"Huh, Hiyoko didn't attack me after speaking up? What is going on?!" thought Mikan to herself, noticing how ever since two words that went by "Daft Capo" were uttered, their world was turned upside down. Nothing could be expected anymore, not even the most ordinary things.
"...Just one sec." Makoto looked around as well, out of concern instead of fear. He saw that most of the previously fallen ones were awake, with only few remaining. Even though worry was his primary thought, fear was already planted inside his subconscious. "Everyone else okay?".
"We're all alive, to say at least." confirmed Hajime, but not in the most optimistic tone, considering how many of them were impacted by the incident.
"Good gracious, that fiendish agent of chaos! He must be stopped!" Kiyotaka shook his fist to scold the enemy, still thinking that the fight went on.
"Already stopped, my man. Don't worry about." reassured Skipper, letting him know that the battle was won. But a won battle doesn't mean a conclusion.
"Oh, he was dealt with? Well then, but still! He must pay for amount of disorder-" Kiyotaka still cursed the cat until his eyes were laid upon Mondo, his "bro" so to speak. "Good heavens, bro! What happened to you?!".
"That fucking cat happened, bro." answered Mondo with concise frustration towards the enemy. Then, one girl who was already awake fully returned, to her true self.
"Okay so…..Ibuki's like, seventy five percent back and I gotta say….how many times have we said cat this day?" Ibuki scratched her head, trying to relieve stress from the whole situation. The question caught a lot of them off guard, but their minds began to relax, with hope and resilience ever so growing.
"A lot." answered Chiaki as she raised her finger. She let out a small smile, knowing that her dear friend was fully back.
"Ah, good to know. So, let's see…" Ibuki pointed at people who were still awake, counting them to see how many of them were still unconscious. It turned out that only one person was in need for a return. "With exception of one, we're almost all awake! Then we'll all do the sentimental return stuff, like we usually do!".
Oh right, the chef got up too, I guess.
"I mean, who could have forgotten me?~" Teruteru immediately started acting seductive, thinking that his return was grand and all.
"Bleh…" Hiyoko blew a raspberry towards him before she continued hanging out with Mahiru. Everything was getting right on track, back to normal, if it weren't for the remaining person: Chisa Yukizome, still lying with her eyes shut.
"So...only Miss Yukizome remains for now…" Chiaki's smile disappeared when she looked towards her still unconscious teacher. She hoped that her beloved teacher would return soon, the anticipation was eating her up.
But then, it happened. Although very slowly, Chisa opened her eyes, finally returning to them.
"Oh my goodness!" gasped Chiaki as she did a little hop, beaming with happiness. "Miss Yukizome!".
However, such emotion didn't last long once Chisa got up. A blank stare, accompanied with a sorrowful frown on her face. Her teacher just remained quiet for some time. Chiaki's smile disappeared, replaced with a concerned look.
"Miss Yukizome, is everything alright?" asked Chiaki.
"….Hey, Chiaki….hey, everyone…." murmured Chisa, trying her best to stay cheerful, despite being unable too. Others were concerned for her as well, but they let Chiaki talk to her, since they already knew how close these two were.
"What's wrong, Miss Yukizome?" asked Chiaki in a much more quieter, concerned tone. Just before Chisa could say anything, the door was opened out of a sudden. Chiaki and others were startled by the sudden noise, but luckily, it was just the rest of Fellowship.
"Fuwahahahaha! Just like the fate intended for us to see our awakened henchmen of darkness!" Gundham announced the arrival of the Fellowship of Darkness, with just right amount of boastfulness he always had. Not only were there Hope's peak students, but Future Gadget Lab was also present. All of them waited for their return, just that Gundham picked the right moment for the reunion.
"Gundham, my wizard man! It felt like eternity since I've seen you!" Skipper smiled upon his appearance, knowing that they were all back together.
"Yet it has been only a day." Kowalski pointed out that it wasn't even that long, despite the previous day dragging on like there was no tomorrow.
"It was a useless gesture of yours to make us wait for it." grumbled Byakuya due the fact Gundham deliberately made them wait for the very right second of their arrival.
"It's the moment that counts." Sonia, however, looked at the more positive side of Gundham's action, as she greeted them with a bright smile on her face.
"We're here too. We must stand close to each other, no matter what happens." Rintaro pointed at his own group, assuring that they'll be on their side regardless of circumstances. Thus, those led by Gundham went inside, prepared for the reunion.
"Kyouuumaaaaaaa!" Faris leaped towards Rintaro and hugged him, initiating many reassurances and cuddles that were had that moment. Rintaro was rather startled by her movement, but he let her have her moment. Being beat up by Daft Capo twice in one's life was already enough. Everyone made it so that every single moment they had was savored.
"Mayushiiiii!" Ibuki did the same as Faris, but instead Mayuri was the one being hugged or rather in her case, utterly cuddled and rubbed with Ibuki's cheek. "Ibuki's one hundred percent back, baby!"
"Ibu-chaaan! Mayushii's so glad to see you!" Mayuri happily returned the hug as she gave Ibuki pats on her back. Many of them did the same as the atmosphere of the room was blistering with hope, the one that anyone could truly get behind. However, some couldn't physically participate in the reunion, as noticed by some.
"Hey uh, what about you? Are you going to be alright?" asked Kurisu once she noticed state of the biker dude, worried about his well being.
"Nah, don't worry about it. I'll...overpower this….and kick that cat's ass!" reassured Mondo, promising that he will get a piece of pie with the taste of Tom's defeat. He needed few more days to recover, but once he's ready, he'll do his best. At the very least, he happily watched the reunion.
However, they couldn't spend an entire day celebrating. They still got work to do.
"The doc said that you should all be free to get out of the hospital room, so what are you all waiting for?" said Nekomaru as he pointed towards the exit, suggesting that they should call it a day and just relax after so long.
"You've heard the man! Now, lets move it!" ordered Skipper as nearly all of them left the hospital room, with only a few remaining. Those being Chiaki, Hajime, Mondo and Chisa.
"Seeing them all back...heh….it was amazing wasn't it? I'm just glad that they're all still keeping their heads up…" commented Chiaki with a smile on her face, finally feeling relaxed after what were quite adventurous days. After all battles fought, she could take a breath again.
"Yeah, it really is amazing…" Hajime agreed with her as he gave her a pat on her back. Something about Chiaki feeling relaxed gave him second hand comfort, knowing that she will be safe.
"Hell yeah, dudes….you did great." Mondo cheered for them, even though he would be one remaining in the hospital room for some time.
However, Chisa was the only one that still had a frown on her face. Her feelings were eating her up inside and she felt like control on her emotions was just seconds away from breaking down.
"...Can you come to my office, Chiaki? We need to….discuss….something…." quietly asked Chisa, deciding that she will open up to her. To her, Chiaki felt like the right person to confide.
"Of course, Miss Yukizome. Anything you want." Chiaki nodded without hesitation, been wanting to discuss with her before the reunion, if only they weren't interrupted at that time. Hajime immediately noticed that Chisa would prefer if they discussed it privately, so he respected their wishes.
"Alright, I'll be awaiting you outside. Sounds good?" Hajime opened the door for them, letting them have a talk in peace. Chiaki nodded, promising that she will return to him once their discussion is done. Thus, they departed their way, even if it was just for a short amount of time.
As they walked through an empty yet comforting hallway, they reached her office. Chisa opened the door as both of them occupied their seats. Chisa took the one where she usually does paperwork, where as her student took the one opposite of hers. The teacher rested her head on her hand as she nervously tapped the table. Chiaki's anxiety grew upon seeing her like that, since usually she is always energetic and cheerful. That day was different. It felt like something broke her beloved teacher.
"What's wrong, Miss Yukizome? You seem….really down…." Chiaki began, placing her arms close to herself due to ever growing nervousness. Chisa looked at her in the eyes, having similar anxiety, but instead it was about whether or not she should confide to her.
"...How should I start this? I mean...I don't want to burden you…." murmured Chisa, knowing way too well that Chiaki has her own issues that she refuses to open up on, yet she was the only person available that Chisa knew she could show more of herself. It seemed really unfair for her that one student should not only carry burdens of her own, but of others as well.
"It's gonna be fine. What matters is that you let out your feelings. Can you...tell me more about it, please?" Chiaki insisted that she should open up. Even though she would carry a burden of another person, it didn't bother her that her own ones were stockpiling. As long as others were happy, so was she.
"...I can't exactly...pressure you about this but….do you think I am a good teacher?" Chisa still hesitated, but she couldn't hold it in anymore, letting out one of the major insecurities she had: being ostracized by others, since she did everything differently. Perhaps it was by her co-workers, with exception of Koichi Kizakura, that she felt that way.
Her student's response was quick and concise.
"Of course you are! There's no doubt about it!" Chiaki stood up from her chair, saying her statement in a rather defensive way, as if someone was secretly insulting her teacher. For a moment, Chisa's irises shrunk upon hearing it, genuinely surprised that Chiaki still thought of her so highly after the incident.
"...You think so…even after that? Even after….I failed to….protect...even...just one…" Chisa 's lips quivered as she began to tremble. Her heart became heavier with every second passed.
"You didn't fail, Miss Yukizome. You did your very best. If it wasn't for you….many more of us would have been hurt." Chiaki spoke from her own heart as she pointed out that even though she was defeated, she still prevented much more damage than she thought. Warmth could be felt with every word Chiaki would say.
"...Just...one…" stammered Chisa, but before she could say anything anymore…
She broke down. Tears rolled down her cheeks completely out of control. Chiaki was beyond startled to see her own role model, who loved her presence every day and even pulled her out of her darkest days, bawling in front of her eyes. She was beyond terrified, but she couldn't leave her own beloved teacher like this. Instead, she gathered up courage and slowly approached Chisa.
"It's all going to alright, Miss Yukizome. Together, we'll overcome this...and we will all have happy lives onward. Together, we will be stronger….stronger than anyone who tries to hurt us...but all of this wouldn't be possible without you, Miss Yukizome…" Chiaki slowly embraced her with a hug, gently patting her back to soothe her as much as possible. Chisa returned a hug, but she couldn't muster a word. Her emotions were just pouring out.
"Let it all out, as much as you can….I don't want you to hold any burdens anymore…We should do this together...right?" Chiaki comforted her as she offered to carry anything that was dragging down her beloved teacher.
"….N-na...Nanami…." Chisa uttered as much as she could, even with tears still falling down.
"Please, say anything you want, Miss Yukizome. I'll do as much as I can...and I'll be always there for you too." Chiaki's soft, warm voice guided her to let it all out. No longer would she be all by herself, her teacher would have someone on their side too.
"...Sorry….I'm sorry….I couldn't even...protect one of you….from being hurt….I'm...I'm horrible...I am a horrible person…." Chisa no longer hid it anymore, revealing that despite her cheerful exterior, she was not too different from Chiaki: one who values others over herself and would willing tear apart herself if she failed them. All of that resonated with Chiaki, but she remained strong.
"...That couldn't be further from the truth, Miss Yukizome. You're...one of the best I have ever met. Not just as a teacher, but as a person too. Not only do you bring happiness in our class, outside our class and even outside of our school…..you showed me what happiness is. I'll forever remember the day when we first me...it will always be...a cherished memory…" Chiaki admitted it all, regarding how strongly she felt for her own teacher. She brought up the day where Chiaki was in a similar position as Chisa was. That day was the first time they ever met, the day where she was accepted at Hope's peak academy. Chisa remembered it as well, realizing that not only she did something good, she changed someone's life for the better. The feeling of guilt was fading away, but she couldn't stop her own tears.
"Without you...I wouldn't have been the person I am today….Thank you, Miss Yukizome...Thank you so much…" Chiaki's lips quivered as if she was still holding her emotions back, tightening the hug as much as she could make it comfortable.
"….You're...you're an angel, Chiaki. My...little angel…." Chisa gave her head pats as she looked at her in the eyes. There were still tears, but what Chiaki saw was something she would remember forever: a gentle, comforting smile like she hasn't seen before. Seeing her own teacher like that gave relaxed her as well.
"I'm just your student, Miss Yukizome…but I will do my best for you." blushed Chiaki as she tried to look away from embarrassment, but she tried her best to keep eye contact.
"Chiaki….you're much more than my student..…." Chisa gently caressed her hair, revealing that Chiaki was something truly special to her. Her little student blushed even harder, not sure what she meant by that, yet she accepted it. Both of them kept hugging each other, with smiles on their faces.
After everything was set and done, both of them exited the academy. Just like he promised, he waited on the bench near the fountain.
"Ah, here you are, Chiaki….and Miss Yukizome too?" Hajime greeted them, although he was surprised that his own teacher was there.
"Yeah, we are gonna go home together, though we won't have a sleepover." Chiaki explained her presence as she held her hand.
"Busy day tomorrow, after all...heh…" Chisa rubbed her eyes as she spoke with a much calmer, lower tone. Hajime noticed that her cheeks had marks of tears on them and immediately became concerned for his teacher.
"Uh, Miss Yukizome? How are you feeling today?" asked Hajime, wondering what happened with these two.
"Don't worry about me too much, Hajime…I'm just...you know….a really emotional woman at heart. Let us go together, shall we?" reassued Chisa, promising him that she was strong enough to handle it. Hajime joined their way home as well, noticing how kind of cute it was of Chiaki to trust her own teacher so much that she would hold her hand as if Chisa was her mother. Perhaps she might have become at this point, considering how much she gives to her. They all went to their homes happily, no longer having to deal with stress of the day before.
Little did they know they were being watched.
"Look at that shameful display, Muttley." winced Dastardly at them holding hands. Dick and Muttley were observing them from their Mean Machine from a distance enough that Hope's peak people wouldn't see them. He was also waiting for the green light.
"Gah! Cringe!" gawked Muttley, sharing his opinion with his mustached friend.
"You know what's the worst part about this? She's an adult...that's right, Muttley. The very person who has punched Herman in the face, a person over age of eighteen, is holding hands with her own teacher as if she was her mother. Can you believe that, Muttley?!" ranted Dastardly, which warranted an obnoxious snicker from the dog.
"Now I understand why Herman goes off his knocker if we even mention that womanchild. My pride couldn't handle it if she were one who could kick my rear...not that it would happen! Anyway, Muttley! Do you know why are we here?" rambled Dastardly as he rested his head on his hand before he changed the topic.
"Uhhhh…" Muttley scratched his chin, wanting to know what his friend meant.
"Because those jerks deliberately left me out of their plan, I've decided that we're gonna make a move on our own! We will show them, especially that insufferable peacock of a clock man and his bloodthirsty megalomaniac henchman, that my name is infamous for a reason!" Dastardly elaborated that he had his own plans after being deliberately left out of the main plan, which was still work in progress.
"Oh...problem…" Muttley pointed out one problem: they were already out of school and their target couldn't be properly located.
"You are mistaken, Muttley. We are not attacking today...we are attacking tomorrow, mwahahahaha!" corrected Dastardly as he let out a boastful laugh.
"Ooooh!" Muttley got the idea as he snickered with malice.
"Soon that scrub zone will know the name of Dastardly!" Dastardly shook his fist towards Hope's peak academy, giving them a sign that he will be just as fierce as other Elite Bois, that he will bring the pain towards so called scrubs.
The green light appeared on the traffics lights and Dastardly continued his patrol, as he would report anything he would see before striking Hope's peak academy itself.