"Black Rock Shooter" series property of huke and BRS Project.

Stand in names created by author Person With Many Aliases, and represent personal preference, not official design.

(Written in Microsoft Word, first in a long time.)

I've been remembering a lot more of my dreams. But I often wonder if they really are dreams, or whether they're more like visions.

Do I dream of that strange, black and white world? Or is the ones there are dreaming of odd versions of themselves, walking around without a care here?

I remember my last dream well. The final moments, at any rate. I had a friend. I think she is my friend, but we were fighting. I was full of cold anger for some reason, and felt that the only way for her to understand was to beat some sense into her.

The roof had collapsed after I had cut the pillar in that last exchange.

Planting the King Saw into the ground, I walked over to where I last saw her before the rubble came down. My hands were large claws, each of them gunmetal black, bony, four-jointed digits that left no doubt they were made for breaking things, not helping.

Yet I threw each stone aside, until I could see her underneath. She looked back at me, upset. Only upset. It might be that cutting people nearly in two in that world doesn't hurt as much as it would here. But I could feel her sense of betrayal. That I would be willing to take arms so forcefully against her.

I gave a stern glare back. We didn't talk, but I felt like something was being exchanged.

(Look at you. How do you expect to defeat Him, if you won't even fight me with all you have?) I would have said.

The girl on the ground with her blue eyes, looked up at me, hurt.

(This is different.) That girl would have also said.

(Really? How? If the time came He strung me along to actually fight you, I expect you to really kill me, if that's what it takes to save me from Him.) I might have said, resigned, deflated. The reality of the situation could be so depressing at times.


(If He turned you Insane, I wouldn't hesitate to do what I have to, to save you from him, too.)

That blue eyed girl, with so much bare skin, so much skin that was bleeding, she turned her head, looking away.

(Are we worth so little?)

(It's because we're worth so much that I'm willing to rather die than turn.)

(There has to be another way. It has to end, somewhere. I'll find a way to break His hold without…)

(There is no other way, and there's no way you can fight Him as you are.) I might have said, over my shoulder as I walked back towards my blade that sat on the fine line between black and white blocks.

(There has to be a way… there has to be a way…!) The other girl might have tried to say, as she nearly sat up, but collapsed from the pain of the injuries I gave her.

(There is no other way.)

I just wrenched the King Saw from the ground and began walking away, leaving her to stew in her naïve righteous thoughts.

At some point in my walking, I turned my head and looked at me. I was dismissive, but still gave an annoyed look to me.

(You've done enough, already. It's time to wake up.)

I… what? What do you mean? Wait, you never tell me who you are-

I was awakened by the six o'clock alarm.

Grumbling, I sat up on my knees in my bed, glaring at the wall behind the head of my bed, while raking my fingers through my brown hair that was always left unkempt by the time the morning came. Looking out the window, I could see the blue sky as the sun began its rise into the air.

It feels like I'm staring at the same exact sky one year ago, like I've traveled back in time, back to after the first dream I had, the first time I met her...

I'm wasting time, the train isn't going to wait for me to finish being deep.

Newspaper clippings, drafts, and photos crunch under my feet where they lay in a mess all over the floor, while I trudge to the bathroom, wiping the night's grime from my red eyes.

The morning ritual plays itself out, with my older brother emerging from his room a little while later, a complete wreck, yawning while he walked in on his ready made breakfast and my best and exaggeratedly over acted smile.

"Good moooorning, Onii-samaaa!"

"Stop that, Zaku." Hiroshi grumbled as he collapsed into his seat, still not woken up completely.

"Ah, but my darling older brother needs all the support he can get, with all the long hours he works. What sort of sister would I be, if I didn't even spoil him with every service rendered and due to a breadwinner?"

"…One day I will figure out where you learn to say these disturbing things." My brother could only mutter helplessly.

"Fufu…", I snickered, bringing fingers to cover my lips, while snatching up my bag from the counter, "I'll be heading off, then. Have fun at the office."

With that, I skipped out of our apartment and into my second year of high school.

The distance between where I live, deep in the downtown, and my school is quite far. It's why I have to wake up so early just to arrive on time at school by train. Why do I go to such a far away school? Well, it's not like I would quit a place where I had such a good thing going on, even if I had to move in with my brother where he was.

Besides, after all the hard work I put into the newspaper last year, how can I quit building my image as a star journalist?

I said as much to the news club's president, after giving me such a mirthful and skeptical look, while she played about with page layouts on her laptop. The two of us were in the club room, a smallish den that had a sort of coziness for me, thanks to the haphazard appearance it increasingly took as deadlines would near every end of the month. Desks strewn with photos and papers, like it would be in my room, lap tops and computers left on for days as us club members ferried back and forth over the days.

Of course, as it was only the first day back to school for me, I had to deal with the spare and neatly organized club room, files tucked away in folders in stacks, while desks were neatly arranged in a square to allow dialogue around all members. Though at this point it was just me, and her.

"You struck me as more the type to abandon others in a time of need, while living about to your whims."

"What? You don't trust me? I'm shocked, Taiji, for it is the beginning of my new year, and I have to debut my glorious rebirth with this school's best photo in all history!" I smirked, splaying fingers against my chest in yet another pose. (Hiroshi is right; I'm definitely channeling something I've read in the past.)

"And because the SLR camera is still school property, until you can afford your own."

And there I can feel my self confident grin struggling a little.

"Eheh… Taiji always know the right thing to say…"

"I guess. Anyways, you better get to finding that best photo." Taiji explained, standing up from her desk to unlock the cabinet where the Canon rested. "The paper for the first month, of course, is going to have a fat expose on how exciting things are for the first year students, so they can fit in better."


"Concentrate on first year students and clubs. Exciting moments of the club, try and find students being happy, and so on."

"Isn't that a little propagandistic?" I cocked an eyebrow up at the suggestions.

"You're our primary photographer now for a school paper, Zaku." Taiji drolly returned, "What were you expecting?"

"Ha! Clearly I expected to take photos that will stir the hearts of the world over, from this little club room, for I would take dozens of photos that explored the various light and dark facets of humanity, unhindered by things like peer pressure, political correctness, and creative censorship! A journey to glory must begin as soon as possible!" I proclaimed with so much ridiculous certainty.

"Huh. Well, feel free to contest the issue with the student council if you wish. Until then, please get some photos about happy, happy students, and well funded, deeply fulfilling school clubs, Eventual World Renowned Photo Journalist."

"Right, right."

With that, went about searching for these cheap pictures, as befitting the school newspaper.

Awkwardly talking classmates, with their pleasant formal smiles. Snap.

Softball team doing their hardest to hit homeruns to impress bystanders. Snap.

Amidst all this, was the time I first noticed her. She was getting used to her classmates in class 1-B, making small talk and chatting idly with some people and others.

It was all very out of the corner of my eyes. It was a scene like every class room of first year students I've ever seen, but for some reason, this one registered. I actually stopped.

She sat on a table, grinning with her whole mouth. Her appearance was positively shrimpy in some ways. She was… small. Her hair made her seem even younger, worn in two pig tails that looked out of balance in size.

Blue, blue eyes… (That looked at me with a sense of betrayal.)

Hold that thought. I don't even know her.

Do I know her? But we never met. First year student… So I where do I have a sense that we know each other…?

She turned to look at me, confused for a second, and for a moment, I was confused at why I was looking in the first place.

Then I grinned, shouted "Smile!" loudly, and pulled up my camera while she frantically waved her arms, stammering for me to wait, she wasn't ready-


I have to admit, though, the only mystery behind the girl is why I feel… well, whatever I feel about her. Certainly, there's nothing else mysterious.

Kuroi Mato. Lives in Machinami ward. Has a younger brother and a mother. Interested and is trying out for the Basketball club. Truly as boring as chopped liver like most everyone else.

What's there worth being interested about? Why do I keep noticing her…?

In the end, all I can do is keep her in the corner of my eye, and wait and see what the answer is.

No, it's not stalking, it's observing. (Discreetly and incessantly, but… no, shut up.)

Taiji notices of course, especially after I continue to pass in and out of the floor below, in between classes, even after I turn in my portfolio of photos.

"I feel like I'm watching a jealous lover keep an eye on her crush."

"Nonsense! I'm simply observing in hopes that I can build up enough information to write a perfect character article, an in-depth study of the rise and fall of first year student!"

"Rise and fall?"

"Yes! Watch the energetic Basketball student gain fame and glory, before crossing her metaphorical mountain in a metaphorical elephants, getting crushed in a scandal over a lover she carries over from Greece and her empire be destroyed by an enemy force! All in time so I can finish my article before Graduation!"

"…I give up. Do whatever you want, so long as you get photos when I ask you to. Just don't expect me to cover you when Kuroi start thinking you're being… weird."

"Fufu, she'll never see me coming!"

She never did, really. Because Kuroi was always concentrated on someone else.

Takanashi… some girl (How do you even spell that?). Her only significance to me is that she Kuroi's best friend. And pretty much the only reason why this compulsive need watch Kuroi to figure out why I keep watching Kuroi, in hopes of some clue of her significance to me, hasn't driven me insane yet.

Their interactions are… highly charged, to say the least. I'm not very good with people, at times, so just watching them is like watching a Drama in real life, in all its ridiculous glory.

Kuroi pitifully asking for homework to be copied. Takanshi chides her. Takanashi relents. Kuroi crushes her face against her friends in glee, empathetically shouting how much she loves her.

As Kuroi copies the homework with intense concentration, Takanashi stares at her own friend with such a contentment of need, before mentioning she's joining a club "similar to Basketball", like she wants Kuroi's approval.

A capricious child spreads her love everywhere she goes, unhindered. A lady sends her love through her eyes, and waits patiently for her results.

"Oh-ho, Romeo and Cinderella is it, then?" I snickered to myself, my voice drowned out by the bells signaling class, and the stamping of feet as I and many more students wormed their way to their homerooms before the seconds ran out.

I made my way to a city covered in traps, for prey that would never appear. Why she continues to insist on such things, I don't know why, anymore. Nor do I particularly care. Sometimes the only way to deal with this emptied world is just to be insane, and find your own ways to consume time. Obsessions and Compulsions at least give us habits to hide ourselves in.

She lives on the highest tower, where she keeps constant watch over her realm.

I step over haphazard trip wires and precariously balanced foothold, step under chunks of concrete suspended in the air, and past steel girders waiting to ram into would be victims.

I rotate around a seemingly endless staircase that twines up the empty and ruined interior, a crumbling sentiment to a world that passed us by a long time ago.

She's sitting inside her small room, with a bed she never uses, and her panoramic view being among her limited company. She's sitting on the floor, peering down the sights of her massive bladed rifle that's longer than she is tall, its barrel resting across the window and into the air.

I look at her back, and for a moment, she looks back at me with her one purple eye that burns with purple fire, before guarding the empty city.

My glare deepens a little bit more, while something passes between us in the silence.

(Where is she?) I might have said, but never said.

(She's a Dragon Slayer. Where else would she be?) The other girl might have said, but kept looking onward into the horizon.

And I felt unhappy. I wanted to ask her about… things. About Him.

She had more small things to say.

(There's another one who has appeared.)

She waited until my back was turned, just so she could listen to me swirl back around in surprise.

(Another one? What do you mean? That's impossible. There are only us.)

(I don't know. I only can only say what I have seen, and another one has arrived here. Maybe she's been hiding all this time, or maybe she's like a newborn. But one day it was empty, and yesterday, she stays there, now. Waiting.)

(Where? Waiting for what?)

(Atop a cathedral to the left of the moon. I don't know what she's waiting for.)

Ah, it's nearly the end of yet another year. Winter's deeper in than ever, and soon it'll be third year for me, where I shall spend many hours slavishly preparing for the next stage of education.

Kuroi and Takanashi will soon be in their own second year, and I, having watched them for all this time, feel a strange sense of accomplishment, like watching a pair of chicks slowly grow feathers and begin to fly to their dreams independently! Ah, how wonderful!

"First, you're a stalker, and now, you're a proud parent. I think it's a good time to call you Creepy, Zaku." Taiji mutters, pouring through articles other members of the club have written, making edits and simplifications as so suited her, or maybe the school.

I made a noise like I had been hurt on a deeply personal level, since it felt rather appropriate, "Ah! You cut me to the quick, Taiji! First you call me a stalker, now it's gone as far as for me to be creepy over paying attention to some cute fledglings in their first year? Such titles are unbefitting of my stature!"

"Really. So what would you call yourself?"

"I… am a Phantom Sempai!" I proudly announced.


…Damn it, Taiji! You're killing the two-man routine just giving a dull response like that! Tsukkomi! Tsukkomi, damn it!

"I don't think the world is quite ready to accept 'Kinsuji-Sempai' yet, Zaku. Much less those two girls, who don't seem to even have a clue. For now, let's stick with you being a megalomaniacal photographer. There's something coming up I want you to be there for."

"Ah, and what would that be?"

"There's going to be a Basketball match between this school and another tomorrow. I need you to go get as many pictures of them as possible. Preferably, not every one of them having Kuroi involved somewhere in them."

"Taiji, any fixation on my daarrrling underclassmen certainly won't jeopardize any school article, I'm better than that."

No, this isn't the part where I hypocritically continue taking photos of just Kuroi, though her presence on the court does give me more time to observe her.

I'm still not sure what to make of the little "first year ace", even with all the time I've been taking. She doesn't share any part of her prior history to me. I don't think I've ever been to Machinami ward in my life either. I'm so sure I've never seen her before till today.

But even now, there's been dreams… dreams telling me that I've grown distant from someone, and if it's like while I'm here, I'm using the opportunity to try and… what, be nice to her more? I don't even know her…

So I'm just stuck watching her with an increasing interest.

Everything seems to change when Kuroi's footing stumbles just a little on a gap in the gym floor boarding that's just enough to catch the sole of her sneakers in. She goes tumbling, one of her knees rubbing itself raw and red. The game halts for a moment, and I take a few pictures, just because a little drama always spices up a news paper article.

("First Year Ace Takes a Tumble! Crippling Injuries Stunt Star's Career!")

Several of the players crowd about Kuroi for a few minutes, raising their concerned voices, while I'm… standing in the back, not really doing anything, because it really isn't any of my business. I think. Kuroi hisses, clutching her scrapped up knee, but insists she's not going to die or anything.

That was when I first saw her, a stocky girl not dressed in the player's uniform, but still involved in the game. She picked up Kuroi from under the shoulders and said to switch out the players, while she'd be bandaging Kuroi's knee.

At sunset, from a hanging corridor that connects the two school buildings, I watch Takanashi watch Kuroi and that new girl (Yuu Something, Basketball club manager, apparently) walk over to her.

Kuroi is stepping a little lightly with her other foot this time. It seems she's always playing a little too hard. She still has the bandage from last week's game, and now it looks like she's wrenched her other ankle.

Kuroi chats lightly, drawing more conversation from Yuu for a while. I feel my eyes tighten, and I'm sure Takanashi is, too, though I can't see from up here. Perhaps for the same reasons, too.

Watching Kuroi and Takanashi, I could see how close the two have grown. Maybe just as best friends, but it seemed far more important to Takanashi. It's the little things you could see in her eyes, like that time Kuroi copied her homework, and many other times I've seen since when they're at school.

Takanashi valued the connection far more than Kuroi did, but never told her that. Did she just think it would keep just being the two of them, with their own special little thing? Their own special little bench as their own special little meeting place?

Takanashi believing it'd just be Best Friends Forever, the two of them… and now an interloper that's drawing away part of Kuroi's attention.

I really must stop being so empathetic about this. I feel like a middle aged woman fully absorbed by this soap opera situation.

Takanashi, walking away with Kuroi, smiling and laughing, as Yuu walks off. Does she hope this is just a one off thing, and it's going to be back to normal…?

What a character. The type who's willing to say she's a "friend", and never gets around to firmly clarifying what that's supposed to mean, until the situation starts changing, then they act surprised…

The fate of two-faced lovers like these, who play selfless and selfish all at once, it never ends well.

I wonder if I should start paying more attention to Takanashi as a person, now…

I walked, walked to the other ends of the earth, to the steppes and the plateaus. It's hard sometimes to judge how far and long I've walked. There is always a sun or a moon hanging in the sky, never rising or falling. But time is never of consequence here, to begin with. All one really needs is a goal, and you'll be there at some point, so long as you don't forget about it.

Some goals are grander than others. Today (In so much as it is the Today I began walking and the Today I'm finally stopping, with everything in between being a negligible detail), it's simply just to meet yet someone else who's still living in this realm.

I descend the uneven cliffs, the thin and weak ledges, until I finally land in the library of swords.

She's sitting in the center, on a makeshift stone seat, back turned to me. Spreading outward from her position are swords of all kinds, driven into the ground, into the rocks, into the sides of the canyon around us. Each one with a story of how they arrived there, which she continues to try and decipher, one at a time. Small horns poke out from the side of her head, like a limited mockery of the ones protruding from my own.

She turns her head to notice me for a while, staring at me melancholic with her green eyes behind her glasses, with green tears that regularly drip out from one.

(Hello.) Seems to be the only thing she would have bothered to say, if she ever bothered to say anything, instead of just turning back around to stroke the sword in her lap with her clawed hands, trying to understand the history in every nick and scratch, crease and fold of its shape.

I walk closer to her, passing the collection of edges about me, and not daring to let the King Saw out of my grasp at any moment.

(Have you seen her?) Came a questioning air.

She didn't turn back once, absorbed by her analysis, (No. She's disappeared. I don't know where she went.)


(I'm not sure exactly. It was an Afternoon. She walked up to the highest point of the plateau, and jumped off. I haven't seen her since.)

(Do you think she's dead?)

(I don't think so. But she left because there's something she wanted to do. Something about the new one that's-)

(-Living on the left side of the moon. Matagi told me.)

(I wonder what you wanted to see her about…)

(Do our reasons ever change?)

Which makes me think of my… friend. If she still considers me such. But she's always been so naïve. Her and her noble causes.

I walk over to the front of her. Then my breath hitches as I realize I recognize the sword she's poring over.

(Isn't that-?)

(Yes. It's your friend's Black Blade. She stopped by here recently. Dropped it off, saying she wouldn't be needing it on her journey. She allowed me to read it while I keep it for her.)

(I can see as much. Are you telling me she's going somewhere, completely unarmed?)

(No. She took her Rock Cannon with her. I think she left the sword because she has no intention to kill at all, wherever she's going.)

No intention to kill. What a fool. Walking around fangless like that, while He's roaming around like a disease.

Concern is rising in my chest. Now I can't leave her, while she's off on some fool adventure.

(Which way did she go?)

She pointed in a direction out of the canyon. I took a few steps forward, moving to leave, before I stopped and turned back around to her.

(Perhaps it would be better for you if you let me hold onto the Black Blade.)

(I don't think I can, though. I made a promise to her to keep it, and I'm enjoying this story too much to-)

Her reverie was cut off, when I slammed the King Saw down in front of her, menacingly. She looked up, with her drippy eyes, and I met her with a glare.

(I don't think I made myself very clear. It's going to be healthier for you to give me my friend's Black Blade. Now.)

She matched my irritation with hers, as she put the sword aside, stood up, and pulled another one out from the earth, holding it by her side as she measured me.

(Are you going to start a fight over it?)

(It wouldn't be considered a fight. More like your obstinacy making you suffer.)

We stood there for quite a while, standing off without compromise.

It's gotten worse.

It's the start of spring again, and it's a new year. Third year for me, and Kuroi and Takanashi have moved up to Second. The warm spring air and the blooming of cherry blossoms should make things feel more pleasant, as we welcome change and renewal.

But the only thing changing is the distance between the two. It's not going to stay as Just The Two Of Them, like I say Takanashi wants it to keep it as, but never says outright. Sure they can keep staying close, but Kuroi's finding more things to do, more people to interact with. Takanashi isn't.

I keep feeling worried, and I'm watching Takanashi more and more, trying to passive-aggressively keep her friendship at the forefront of Kuroi's social circles, but Kuroi spreads her love around. She's not the type who puts her relationships into tiers.

Watching Takanashi fills me with a sense of dread, like I know something's creeping up through her shadows, while she slowly starts smiling less, unless it's the few moments she has Kuroi to herself, and her eyes start getting stonier each time she see Yuu. With all that said, she's still not going to say a thing objecting about it.

Should I do something?

Should I be so involved?

Of course, I've asked this question a billion times, already, and each time, I've never stopped what I've been doing since then. (Which is Observing, really. Really.) Why stop? Rather, why stop there, when the situation is escalating in an unhealthy direction?


I find her wandering the hallways by herself, Kuroi having been dragged away by Yuu on some matter or other. She turns around and looks at me quizzically, while she put on her best polite face.

"Hello, have we met?"

"This is the first time we're talking in person. I'm Kinsuji, from third year. Do you mind if we talked privately?"

"…No." She says with some uncertainty, but I take the initiative to lead her to the school roof. There's enough empty space there to keep a conversation to ourselves, so long as we're quiet.

The two of us stand on the black and white tiles of the top floor exposed to the air, and I stand there for a moment, trying to consider what to say.

"Um… Kinsuji-sempai, what is it you want to tell me…?"


"B-Before I begin, could you call me that one more time?"

"You mean, 'Kinsuji-Sempai'?"

"Ooh!" I sighed so loudly I was worried somebody might over hear, while I clutched my chest dramatically, "Finally! Someone called me that, and Taiji was worried the world would collapse the day that happens…!"

Takanashi doesn't seem so impressed. Or amused. She tries to steer me back to the topic at hand with a well placed "Um…"

"Don't worry. I'm about to ask you, Takanashi-san. I'm just wondering, what do you expect of Kuroi-san?"

She makes a blink and gasp of surprise, while I lean back on the railing.

"What do you mean? Mato… Mato is my friend, of course. Should I expect anything?"

"I don't know. I must say, Takanashi, I've been watching you two for a while, and to me, it looks like you value Kuroi-san very highly. You seem very upset when that basketball manager is around-"

Not to mention when I even mention that basketball manager.

"-but you never say anything. Kuroi-san isn't going to understand if you're not going to tell her what you want. What do you want from her, if the time she's spending with you isn't enough?"

"There's nothing to say, Kinsuji-sempai."

"Really?" I couldn't help but shoot an underpowered sneer, "Sometimes I wonder what's going through your head. "Aaaah, the whole World is mine! Everything in it, I own. Nobody can take it away from me, and nobody can object to it!" Are you upset you're your very important Kuroi isn't fitting with that paradigm anymore?"

Her cheeks redden with reddened humiliation, "Do you think that little of me?"

"I'm sorry. I'm being too blunt, aren't I? I'm not very good with close connections, I guess. But I think it's important I say something."

"What is that?"

"Don't go daydreaming ahead of time that Kuroi and you are somehow intimately connected by magic red string, Takanashi. For one, it's unrealistic, and for another, red string breaks very easily. What you two have is already very nice. It's more like… big black chains…"

"Black chains?"

I'm not going into where I came up with that analogy. It's probably one of my dreams bleeding into my brain.

"They don't fray up like daydreams. It's not nearly as romantic, I suppose, but they don't break, either. I think I'm trying to say is, you shouldn't worry about Kuroi. It's not like she's going to abandon you. I'm sure she's always going to be there for you, so don't give up on her yet."

"Why do you care so much?" Takanashi mutters, a bit upset, "My relationship with Mato shouldn't be any concern to you."

"Well… I guess not, but like I say, I've been watching you two, and I'm worried about you, Takanashi."

I don't even know how effective this little speech was. But I can't shake off a feeling in the back of my head, that something's sneaking up behind her, waiting to spirit her away, like some sort of folktale. I have to say something at least.

The bells ring, and Takanashi find an excuse to leave me.

"Thank you for talking to me, Kinsuji-sempai. You seem very insightful. I hope you're right about Mato." She says pleasantly, with a pleasant smile while her eyes are grimacing.

"Well. If you want to talk to me, you can find me, alright?"

"Of course."

With that, we part. But I'm almost certain I heard something whisper from Takanashi, though her mouth never moves.

(Why… why should I keep waiting… If I wanted… if I wanted, I could have her… it would just be the two of us…always and forever… isn't that what He said…?)

And then, a few days later, Takanashi claims she's leaving for home earlier than usual due to "reasons". Reasons her parents apparently never were informed of, when Takanashi doesn't arrive home, either.

My path is hurried, though I try to keep from being frantic. But she's going probably going to get herself killed at this rate, doing whatever brilliant idea she thinks she has.

As I continue in the direction that Devil Girl gave me, carrying the Black Blade and the King Saw in either hand, my suspicions continue to confirm themselves.

Soon enough, I'm passing under the moon to its left side, and I wonder what on earth she's thinking, interacting with that new being that's awakened.

This whole realm is sickly green, and decrepit. It tells me enough about its ruler. I don't know how far behind I am from my friend, I hope I arrive in time.

But I don't.

By the time I've reached the foot of the massive depression, filled by a gestalt of towers and cathedrals stitched together by chains and steel mesh, it's all already collapsing.

What happened? What's happening? Was the new one defeated? Destroyed? What's happened?

Amidst the rubble and smoke, I barely catch it. It's out of the corner of my eye, but I see it, a blur of black and blue leaping out of a window, carrying someone of such strange pallor in her arms.

I narrow my eyes, unsure what to make of what happened. I was too late, and now I don't understand anything at all.

What… just happened…

(I was kicked out. It was very impolite.)

A cruel whisper that makes my spine shiver. I twist around, and find two large skulls, floating, independent of whatever powers this realm, now that its master is seemingly gone. It's all just an act, though. It's all just an illusion. I know what's underneath. I know Him.

(You…) I snarled at it, rather than dignify Him with speech.

The skulls are laughing before they collide into each other, melting into a glassy black sphere that bursts apart to reveal the true Him. That writhing black shape that looks like cloak and a tear in reality, supported aloft by a network of joints that glow a dim blue in the abyss that's staring back. Crowned atop it is His skull like head, clicking His sharp teeth and leering at me with red eyes, horns and spikes jutting from His brow.

(Oh, I was so close to having your friend. That new one was so lonely and new, she didn't know what else to do than listen to me.)

I wasn't even listening as I swung the King Saw at the blathering Black Neon Count. He just tsked and bony arms jerked out from the void, catching the blade and holding it fast in all their clawed fingers.

(I was so close. I even had her tied up like a puppet. I was so close, and I could have had them both, but something happened… I'm going to have to spend so much time wondering what happened, so I can make sure it won't happen the next time it happens. Perhaps I should have actually tried to seduce myself a pawn who can actually do its job.)

I pulled on my weapon, forcing some of the hands to loosen its grip.

(That's all you can do. Just whisper into people's ears. You don't even have the will to do things by yourself. I wonder how upset you were when my friend killed you latest toy.)

He gave a look of confusion and deep introspection, one hand fingering his chin.

(That's the strangest thing, now that you mention it. I don't know what she did, but she certainly didn't kill her. Unless this place has gotten so weak that you really can hug people to death. I'm not sure what she did. She just… kicked me out. Even the new one is just sleeping fitfully, without me. It's very upsetting.)


What did she do!

(Yes, yes. We're both going to have to think very hard about this. Something very different happened.)

He let go of the King Saw, letting me pull back and swing at him again, but to no avail, as he's already floating into the air.

(Stay and fight, you coward…!)

(Why? I've no reason to fight you. You're not the one I want. After all, you're not any fun.)

And he leaves, and I'm simply left with my confusion.

But I think I can wait patiently until the answer for what happened, arrives. I'll keep watching to see how Takanashi returned.

Until then, I sit on the opposite side of the street, watching students leave through my lens, wondering which shot is appropriate for this months article.

I watch Kuroi and Takanashi leave, chatting like things are back to normal. I also watch Yuu lag behind, seemingly burdened by something, like there's something, or someone sitting on her back.

So many people to keep an eye on…