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Hey everyone, how's it going?
No excuses. I just had too many things going on and too much of a writer's block to overcome and thus this chapter took its sweet time.
Anyway, on to Friendly and Unfriendly Fire.
Wednesday, June 7, 2378
Normally, three friends walking to school would not be out of place, even if one of them was a famous martial arts champion and heiress to a popular inn. However, it was what this person was wearing that made everyone eye her quite oddly.
"Why exactly are you wearing that?" Eiji asked, clearly tiring of all the stares.
"Yeah, no one wears those things anymore," added Midori. "And it's not like they make you smarter, if the old stereotype's to be believed."
Minako chuckled at that. "Just felt like wearing them for a day. You know, just to feel and be different. Besides, don't I look good with them on?"
"Um, well…" Eiji stuttered, earning a smack from Midori and a laugh from Minako.
The item in question was the pair of red framed glasses that Taka and Kana gave her a few months ago. After too much giggling from her fiery Persona whenever she tried them on, she prodded Amaterasu to tell her the truth. They were actually Yukiko's glasses, the same ones she used while fighting Shadows in the Midnight Channel. Minako had wondered why they kept them as a family heirloom, but kept forgetting to ask.
Just after they entered the school gates, there was a bright flash, forcing the heiress to stop suddenly, take off her glasses and rub her eyes.
"Mina-chan, what's wrong?" asked Midori.
"Bright flash just now," she replied, blinking her eyes rapidly to stop seeing spots. When she saw her friends exchange puzzled looks, she then asked, "You guys didn't see it?"
Eiji answered, "Nope, didn't see a thing. You sure it wasn't the sun and your glasses?"
"Maybe…" the heiress said. Weird, never had that happened before…, she thought.
Just then, she noticed Ms. Manisa and Miki were chatting at the front door. As they approached, the principal spoke up, "Ah, Minako-chan, we were just talking about you."
Minako gulped. "Um, am I in more trouble?"
A few days ago, Ms. Manisa had called her to the office regarding the Starfleet Academy incident. The heiress had went with a hung head, figuring this will be the incident that will get her expelled from Gekkoukan for sure. After retelling what happened though, the principal had surprisingly reassured her, citing that Starfleet's report had verified the exact same thing. She only walked away with a light warning, not even get the proverbial second strike on her record. Now she was worried that her principal just changed her mind.
Miki answered instead, "Depends on what you mean by trouble. Please come with us to the principal's office."
"Uh, sure," Minako said.
"Um, we'll see you in class," Eiji said with a little worry in his voice before he and Midori did just that.
After being led to their destination, Minako asked, "So what's this about?"
"You'll see," Miki said with a faint grin.
To say that Minako was completely shocked when Ms. Manisa opened her office door was an understatement. There were two people already in there and one of them was the last person she would expect to be there and in a Gekkoukan High uniform.
"D'ghor!?" the heiress shouted.
"YOU!" the young Klingon also snarled.
"Well, I see you two are well acquainted," Ms. Manisa said, with a hint of amused sarcasm. "But just in case, D'ghor, this is Minako Setamagi; Minako, this is D'ghor."
Waving a hand towards the second person, she added, "As for her, this is T'Preea from the planet Vulcan."
"A pleasure," the Vulcan female said with a nod. Minako returned the nod, thinking she had seen her before.
"Both D'ghor and T'Preea will be transferring to Gekkoukan High and will be rooming together in an apartment close by as of today," said Ms. Manisa. "The reason I asked for you, Minako-chan, is because I would like you, Miki and Kyo to give them a tour of the school."
"Um, I can understand asking Miki-senpai and Kyo-senpai but why me?" asked the heiress.
"Aside from knowing one of them maybe a bit too personally" – Minako had to suppress an eye roll – "they both requested your assistance specifically. And in spite of my original verdict of you not joining other clubs, I've heard you've been helping the student council at their request and doing a great job as a result."
Figures she'd know about that, Minako mentally sighed. After Golden Week, Miki asked her to join the student council to aid in a project with which they needed more help. She could never say no to a Kirijo (especially at the risk of execution).
And she could never say no to a principal either. "Sure, I can help with their tour."
"Splendid. I'll make arrangements with your teachers," said the principal. Turning to the new students, she added, "I hope you enjoy the tour and your year at Gekkoukan High."
"Thank you," said T'Preea, who had to nudge D'ghor to bow, much to his dislike.
After they all exited from the office to the hallway, Minako turned to the two of them and asked, "I can take a guess why he's here, but what about you, T'Preea?"
"In part, it's the same reason as him. We are both curious how you are able to beat much bigger and stronger opponents than yourself, especially one such as D'ghor here," answered T'Preea.
"But…" Minako said, not quite convinced. She had met many Vulcans over the years because of the Amagi Inn and learned much about their culture. Two of their tenets were the suppression of emotions and embrace of logical thought. To her, the Vulcan female in front of her had spoken both completely void of emotions and full of them.
T'Preea faintly smiled, realizing she had been caught. "Let's just say emotional adolescent beings are NOT the only ones with parental problems…" She turned away and walked towards the atrium, leaving Minako, Miki and even D'ghor a little stunned.
"And this hallway is where all our clubs meet," said Miki. "There's a home economics room for cooking, sewing and the like, a couple of science labs, a music room…"
After meeting up with Kyo, Minako and Miki began their tour and had shown D'ghor and T'Preea most of their school. Predictably, the Klingon male looked bored for most of it, while the Vulcan female became interested once they arrived at this hallway and noted a few clubs she would like to join.
"And now we are entering the Hamuko Arisato wing, so named after Kyo's ancestor," continued Miki.
Also predictably, both aliens stared bug-eyed between Minako and the portrait of her original self in the display, and commented on the "uncanny" resemblance.
"And now we are at the sports and gymnasium areas. We have a swimming pool, and oval track, tennis and volleyball courts, and…," Miki started saying until…
"So what do we have here?" interrupted Hayase as he and a few of his cronies exited the kendo room.
"… and a salle arena…" Miki finished, a little annoyed.
"What are you doing here, Hayase? You should be in class," warned Kyo.
"Just wondering if the little cheater was skipping class as well," Hayase said.
Minako could only roll her eyes at that. Despite the older Hayase brother's request to befriend him, the younger would have nothing to do with her, besides insulting and trying to beat her. She was about to retort, but he opened his big mouth again.
"And are these the new transfer students? You trying to show them how you cheat?" he snarled. Then he took a closer eye at D'ghor and added, "Oh wait, I take that back. You're that Klingon that lost to the cheater. I bet I can beat you as well.
"Like you stand a chance, hoo-MON!" D'ghor shouted.
"Hayase!" Minako yelled, "That is quite enough! D'ghor, T'Preea, if you'll follow me." She led them out to the track and field area and out of sight of Hayase. Before she left, she felt the need to leave a parting shot. "And for you information, if you thought you could beat me, then you definitely won't be able to beat him. You wouldn't even last a second with him. You're better off kissing his targ and begging for mercy instead!"
She did not even wait for his reply, though his hissy fit told her enough; she just stormed off to the track and field area to meet with the tour. Facing the two new students, she said, "Sorry for all that. We have a history…"
"Yes, we know," T'Preea said. "He thought you cheated when you beat his older brother and was taunting you to join the kendo club. You refused and your pet was hurt in the process. You two fought last April where you handily won. And he's refused attempts at friendship, choosing hostility instead."
The heiress eyed them wearily before D'ghor answered the unspoken question. "In war, one needs to know about your opponent. And no, we don't believe that you cheated. For now."
Minako could only nod at that.
"Well everyone, we can finally say that this project is complete. Give yourselves a pat on the back," said Miki. The rest of the council gave each other a round of applause instead.
Minako, Miki, Kyo and the student council had been working on their project till late at night to meet tomorrow's deadline.
One of the male council members came up to Minako and said, "Thanks for help, Setamagi-chan."
"I didn't really do that much, but you're welcome, Odagiri-kun," she meekly replied.
"Oh, don't be so modest. Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow."
As she finished packing up her things, Miki came up and said, "I couldn't help but notice that Odagiri had taken a shine to you."
She had to admit that he did remind her of his possible ancestor. "We're just schoolmates, nothing more. Unless…" Her voice trailed as she eyed her senpais warily. "You weren't…"
Kyo answered, "We did need your help, make no mistake about that. But we also noted Odagiri, well, crushing on you and remembered what happened at your home so…"
Minako did not bother to listen to the rest of his explanation; she just shook her head and left the student council room.
"You can't blame them, Hamu-chan," Ryoji said. "They're just worried about you."
"I know, but.." Minako was about to say.
"You just can't let Shinji go, can you?" Eurydice finished.
"I commend you for giving up hope," Amaterasu said.
"But I'm being foolish, aren't I?"
"I wouldn't say tha…! Minako, eyes up!" Izanagi warned.
Never taking the words of Souji's Persona lightly, the heiress stood on guard and noticed five shadowly figures. However, based on the height of one of them and the fact that they were holding kendo sticks, she knew who it was. "What do you want, Hayase?"
"What, you mean I can't take a walk with my friends here?" he chided.
"You call hiding in the shadows with weapons awaiting 'going for a walk'? Puh-lease…"
"We could've just come from kendo practice…"
"EXCEPT that the kendo team doesn't meet on Wednesdays and surprise meetings are ALWAYS announced."
He was about to retort, but she cut off. "And really, you need four of your cronies to beat down a little 'cheater'girl?" – said cronies started to surround her – "Did my little insult earlier hurt too much? That's the truth for ya!"
If his face was any indication, Hayase's face looked like a clogged chimneystack ready to explode. "I don't care what happens, just kick her ass!"
One crony swung high with his kendo stick, but she cross-blocked it and followed with a kick to his gut. She instinctively ducked as another crony swung his kendo stick and whacked his partner instead. She countered with a punch to the gut and an elbow to the back of his head.
Cronies three and four did not fair much any better. Minako rolled and grabbed Two's kendo stick, poked Three hard in the stomach and smashed him in the head. She then parried Four's slashes before blocking one, jabbing his face with the pommel and tripping him up.
Suddenly, Amaterasu shouted, "Behind you!"
Unfortunately, the warning came too late. She felt a hard whack on her back that knocked face down on the ground. She turned to look behind her, just in time to see a kendo stick swung right in her face. Falling to her back now, she started screaming as her body was pummelled with what felt like a thousand kendo stick blows. She felt like each blow broke a bone in her body. Her head ached as all her Personae's frantic worries and helplessness quaked in her mind.
Battered, bruised, broken and barely breathing, Minako could only like there in her growing pool of blood. However, she hear Hayase and his cronies laughing at her. In spite of all the pain, she steeled her resolve to fire a parting shot.
"Why… are you… guys laughing? You're…adding to the… noise pollution…," she wheezed.
Hayase laughed ever more. "What, can't handle our revelling in victory?"
"Victory? … More like mockery of one… You may have beaten up my body… but you'll never win the war of the minds and morals…"
"Oh really? Why is that?"
"Because everyone… will know who… attacked me…"
"Yeah right. It could be just a random mugging."
"Nobody has been… mugged here, … much less on Earth… in centuries…"
"I could always say self defense," he said with a little less confidence.
"No one… would believe that… I would try to attack you… with your cronies around… without any help…"
Hayase was about to retort, but Minako cut him off again. "Moreover, … everyone knows that, … one, I beat you fair and square; and two, you and your friends tried to… ambush me in that fight…. They wouldn't believe a word that you would say."
Before she said anything, he sat down on top of her … and started to lightly choke her. The sitting down motion made her scream in pain until it was silenced by the choke. She struggled a little, but knew she did not have to the energy to stop him. Instead, she kept on chiding him, "And now… the evidence keeps mounting…. A bare hand on my neck… those kendo stick are traceable… regardless if they are replicated or handmade…"
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!"
She stared him straight in the eve before damning him even more. "Any you know what?... For all your talk about honor… you don't know… anything about it…. You try to act like a samurai… but you're really just a bully and street thug…!"
Her eyes started to bulge out more as Hayase tightened the grip around her neck. She could see his cronies try to stop him, but he just shrugged them off. Still unable to fight back, her sight darkened as the end came near.
Suddenly, the choking stopped and her lungs hurriedly and painfully sucked in any oxygen they could. As she coughed, Minako looked up at Hayase, her eyes widening in fear of the evil look in his eyes.
"You know what, I have a better idea," he said, before putting his hands on her clothing and ripping them apart.
"No…!" she weakly screamed, as she struggled to get out of his grasp. However, she knew it was in vain; the injuries she received from the beatdown and the choking from zapped her of most of her strength. She only could struggle now to use up the rest of said energy and black out, hoping to not feel any pain from the impending rape.
She got her wish as her sight darkened very quickly, though she could still feel his hands groping her. But as she passed out, she thought she heard a guttural voice and a roar.
"I couldn't agree with her more!"
Then everything turned to shadows.
Ooo.. evil cliffhanger. Best I can do for now. See you next chapter.