Author's Notes: To be honest, I really wanted to give more flavor to my portrayal of the US Army. I wanted to do everything right, from the way they speak using call signs and slangs, to their behavior, tactics and equipment and even the chain of command and the right Units to tackle the situation. But sadly, I do not have a strong understanding of the Army aside from my own experience in my country's Armed Forces. Though if anyone would be kind enough to provide with advice for future stories, I would gladly accept!
Ouch! Before I knew it, this became a 18000 words update, nearly twice as long as the first chapter! The plot is also twice as thick for this episode; yet at the same time its slightly more humorous thanks to Tschimikado and his… Convictions.
Here we go, one more time down the rabbit hole…
Try not to get lost in the madness.
"…So you see, there is an obvious and distinct difference between a 'Lolicon' and a 'Pedophile'. There's nothing wrong with finding a loli attractive, it doesn't make you a pedophile. In fact I had this long debate with some friends about the merits of a loli wearing various outfits and my point is that a loli would look good wearing any outfit so-"
"Snake Doctor, we've got the communication system to work-"
"Oh thank God!" The sergeant major was relieved to be spare from any more of Tsuchimikado's lecture and ran off.
To him, it still doesn't seem all that different from your garden variety pedophile.
"Tch …" Tsuchimikado looked annoyed at being brushed off in the middle of his lecture.
The former spy didn't know the name of his accomplice; the large African American soldier was an older gentleman possibly in his forties. He held the rank of a sergeant major, and only identified himself by his call sign – [Snake Doctor].
While the Delta team was on a secure line that they just recently established with Command, Tsuchimikado contacted Unabara Mitsuki.
(Good to hear from you, what's the situation over there at [White Circle]?)
"…Why are you whispering?"
(I'm hiding in a closet.)
Tsuchimikado decided not to pursuit the issue and figured Unabara must have his own shares of trouble dodging the Army's questions on Accelerator's rampage.
"Anyway, here's the situation; we're hold up in one of the security offices on the 60th floor, we've only manage to get the communication system and a few cameras to work, but the main system network and the local security system that controls the security gates are in separate locations, and there are at least a hundred of those mercs between us and anywhere…"
Tsuchimikado paused to think.
"…Then there's the problem with the recon team that was sent in earlier; we were monitoring them on the security network when we suddenly lost contact. Now the entire system is offline and we don't know the enemy's exact strength, their location, or the location of any survivors inside."
Unabara brought his own brand of bad news.
(That's not all; I'm looking at the data from the spy satellite; there's a large scale withdrawal from the North Lake Wastewater treatment plant, judging from their movement pattern, they're heading right for [White Circle], and you can bet Mirra would be there too… If he isn't already, looks like you're gonna have a whole lot of fighting coming your way.)
Tsuchimikado shook his head.
"At least this would buy the National Guard some time to get the civilians out… What about the others?"
(Musujime and Accelerator are on route via chopper, ETA ten minutes.)
Some good news at least.
"Good, we're going to need all the firepower we can get if we are to regain control of [White Circle]."
(The Army is mobilizing the Rangers for an assault on the building, but it's going to take some time before they get there. For now, those two are the only back-up you're getting.)
Tsuchimikado reached for his modified Spas-12 shotgun with a folding stock that he 'borrowed' from the armory. Unlike Accelerator or Musujime, Tsuchimikado don't have any fantastic powers that would be of tactical value to this operation. As such, he has to compensate by stocking a lot more ammunitions. At the same time, he's wearing a special Academy City nanofiber ballistic vest, the kind that Anti-Skill uses. It's the same material they plan to use to build space elevators with. It's far lighter than your average Kevlar plates, but enough to stop a point blank blast from a shotgun or rifle.
Tsuchimikado felt a little nervous, but still confident that they can do this. The skills of the Delta Force soldiers are one thing, but there's no way they would lose once Musujime Awaki and Accelerator arrive. Those two monsters alone have the power to secure the entire building… If only they can work together long enough-
Suddenly, the blond haired boy saw a man appeared in one of the security camera.
He had a masculine build, well sculpted shoulders; his posture was slightly slouched, and he wore a crew cut hairstyle and was dressed in black leather jacket.
As he turned around to face the camera, Tsuchimikado felt slightly uneasy; like a heavy steel plate had just been placed on his chest.
The man's eyes were cold ice blue, sharp and inhumane. They were hollow; empty. Yet they were also wild; all of it the trademarks of a psychopath.
The figure was now looking into the camera, vainly searching for those who had been watching. A moment later, he looked disappointed, like a child when he realized his parent aren't there.
Looking straight at the blond haired boy, John Mirra scowled.
There were no speakers, but former spy was able to make out the words spoken by reading his lips.
"We'll see…" Tsuchimikado paused in mid-sentence to put on his shades. "…About that."
Episode 2 - A Long Way Down
21:10, Saturday Night, 500 feet above [White Circle] headquarters.
The headquarters of [White Circle] stood proudly as a symbol of power and prestige in this city. It's not a single skyscraper, but a trio of them reaching seventy storeys high, linked together by horizontal sky bridges. It's the tallest man made structure around, easily dwarfing any other thing in the surrounding landscape like a castle made for Kings.
A single Black Hawk helicopter approached ever closer to the rooftop of one of the three towers.
(Here is the plan; the assault team consisting of Accelerator and SFOD-D's Charlie Team will approach [White Circle] headquarters by Black Hawk helicopter and attempt to make a rooftop entry. Their main objective is to secure the landing site by eliminating all hostile forces in the immediate area. Once the area is secure, Musujime and Bravo Team will land and continue their mission of capturing [Cheshire]. We have first-hand confirmation from Tsuchimikado that [Cheshire] is indeed in the building.)
Accelerator was in a bad mood, and it wasn't from listening to Unabara going on and on about the mission.
Just minutes ago, the white haired crippled boy was blown out from a burning building; he wasn't harmed thanks to his powers, but he was slightly restless from the experience.
Not the part about being blown up, that was mildly average by his standards.
But seeing a dead man talk to you? Even if you're not freaked out, anyone would be on their toes.
Accelerator recalled the words that Dead-Kihara said to him; just who is Bill Moody? What does John Mirra want from him? He gave his report to Unabara about Mirra's latest victim in the warehouse of the wastewater treatment plant and had him cross reference him to the other known victims to look for a match, but it's going to take some time for him to waddle through all the red tape surrounding this incident.
Of course Accelerator left out the part about seeing dead researchers, as well as…
Even after everything he has been through; Accelerator still surprises himself sometimes with how pathetic he really is. If you think nothing can get to you, you're lying to yourself. At best you're only temporarily dead. A lightning bolt could re-animate you without a warning.
After seeing that image of the red girl midst the burning inferno, something clicked inside of him, like a key locking some long forgotten dust covered door. The fire from the explosion did nothing to clear his conscience; it just made the shadows behind him leap higher.
Once again the SFOD-D team accompanying him began loading their customized M4A1 carbines with foregrip and red-dot sight. Looking outside, the white haired boy could see the rooftop of the [White Circle] building on the approach. Unabara might have mentioned which of the three building they were hitting but he couldn't care less- his job would still be the same.
There isn't a proper helipad for them to land so they would be jumping as soon as they got close enou-
Suddenly out of nowhere, a squad of Valkyur Mercenaries rushed out of the building and begun spewing hot lead in their direction.
The pilot swerved out of the way to avoid getting ripped to shreds; the sudden jerk yanked Accelerator off his seat and out of the chopper before anyone could grab him.
"We got a man down!"
They tried to go back for him but the enemy fire was too heavy that the pilot couldn't risk it so they pulled away.
Accelerator quickly pushed himself up and took cover behind a large air conditioner as he quickly assess his situation; he only had a single USP .45 pistol with him while the enemy, eight of them, were armed with various sub-machine guns. They were spread out and advancing on his position cautiously. As much as Accelerator wants to conserve his battery life of his choker, he was in a terrible tactical position with no where to retreat to; the enemy is not a group of low life Skill-Out thugs, they were highly trained soldiers armed to the teeth- One handgun is just not going to cut it.
It wasn't a tough call to make.
A loud impact was heard
In a flash, the Number one esper switched on his Esper mode and dashed out of his cover; he immediately grabbed hold of the nearest Valkyur and yanked the man between him and the other mercenaries.
"TAKE HIM DOWN!"
Without even blinking, they fired at him.
Accelerator yanked a pin out of a grenade on his vest and threw the lifeless, bullet-ridden corpses at the others. Six ducked out of the way- one of them wasn't so lucky. The white haired boy stuck his arm into a large air conditioner and ripped it free from its foundation, he then threw it at another mercenary, squashing him where he stood.
"THIS IS ECHO EIGHT WE HAVE A BREACH ON THE ROOF- ARGH!"
One of the Valkyurs was trying to radio in back-up, Accelerator kicked a pebble at him which crushed the man's rib cage when it impacted his chest… Not even wearing the ballistic vest could protect him.
But it was too late.
"Roger that Echo Eight, we're sending reinforcement to your location."
"FINE! THIS WOULD SAVE ME THE TROUBLE OF FIND YOU ALL MYSELF!"
The white haired boy had his work cut out for him.
21:15, Saturaday Night, inside [White Circle] headquarters office level 55.
(The reports from the SFOD-D Charlie Team just came in; Accelerator is engaging with a large force of Valkyur mercenaries on the roof top of [White Circle]… Heh, they're afraid to get caught up in his rampage, so they're sitting this one out.)
"That's our boy…" Tsuchimikado smirked.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
(Quite the party you're having…)
While Accelerator was busy thinning out the herd upstairs, Tsuchimikado, Snake Doctor, and the other members of SFOD-D Alpha team took advantage of the diversion he provided to get the Main System network back online, and to recover all data relating to the [Cheshire] project that John Mirra and the Valkyur PMC are a part of. The hallways that were once occupied by enemy forces have now been significantly reduced to manageable numbers.
So far they had only encountered small pockets of resistances, no more than three to four guys at a time, and usually Alpha Team was able to get the drop on them, simultaneously taking them out all at once before they could radio in for back-up.
They went further down the fire escape stairs and into the level below.
Armed with the SIG SG 553 assault rifle equipped with red dot sights, foregrip attachment and an M203 launcher, Snake Doctor takes up the position of point man, followed by Tsuchimikado closely behind him with his spas-12 shotgun, loaded with antipersonnel 'Flechette' rounds, followed by the rest of Alpha team. They exited the conference room with a row of tall window panels into a waiting area. Ahead of them was a darkened hallway dead-ended into a window and split to the left and right. To the right was a multi-leveled lobby area. As soon as they entered through the double door-
"TAKE THEM DOWN! EXTREME PREJUDICE!"
"MOVE!" Both Tsuchimikado and Snake Doctor were the only ones that had entered the area, so they quickly dove behind something solid.
Standing on the platform above them were three Valkyurs mercenaries raining down hot 7.62 lead on their position with their HK417 assault rifles. The rest of Alpha team tried to provide cover fire from their location, but they couldn't get a good angle.
As bullets were whizzing past his head, he caught a glimpse of Snake Doctor from behind a pillar, loading a grenade round into his M203 launcher; with just a nod, Tsuchimikado understood the plan.
The Delta soldier popped out from cover and fired the 40mm HE round at the mercenaries, the round exploded against the wall behind them, knocking them off their feet.
Immediately, Tsuchimikado leaped over the desk he had been crouching behind and sprinted up the stairs.
He put one round right into the chest of the Valkyur before he got up. It plowed through his body and blew out a sizable pound of flesh out the back.
Tsuchimikado shot the second merc just as he was about to raise his weapon, the force of the impact knocked him back down, this time permanently.
By then he was already out of time; the blond haired boy suddenly found himself staring down the barrel of the enemy's rifle.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Three consecutive shots rang out, but they weren't from Tsuchimikado's weapon. He looked down and saw Snake Doc pointing his weapon at the third Valkyur soldier who then collapsed lifelessly to the ground.
"CLEAR!" The African American declared. "You okay?"
"Honestly? I don't know yet." The boy shrugged as he checked himself for holes.
"Hahah, you're alright for a kid…"
But there's no rest for the weary, Alpha team regrouped and continued with their mission.
Leaving the multi-leveled lobby area, Snake Doctor dashed for the door to the office area- his hand reached for the door knob. It joggled slightly, but wouldn't give in.
"Locked?" Tsuchimikado asked.
The soldier nodded.
"The 'Master Key' please?"
Tsuchimikado loaded two Disintegrator breaching rounds into his weapon and took aim at the two harden steel hinges at the side.
The hinges were blown off completely.
With a mighty draw back of his leg, Snake Doctor crashed the door in.
They were greeted by the sight of a dark office. With the exception of the wall phone with the blinking message light, the entire area was practically engulfed in darkness. Tsuchimikado could only make out a few faint traces of the blue carpet in the narrow hallway and some cheap paintings hanging on the wall, but for most parts it was pitch back.
"Lights?" He asked.
A hollow flick vaguely filled the empty darkness of the room.
"No joy." A fellow Delta member shook his head.
So they activated their night vision goggles.
"I hate these things," Another Delta soldier mumbled to himself, "No peripheral vision…"
Night vision goggles take some getting used to. It is not just your eyes adjusting to a different level of light, like when you walk into a dark room. Night vision goggles present the visual scene differently and sometimes eliminate visual clues. It is often difficult to tell how far away objects really are, and two objects that seem to be side by side can be far apart. Knowing what to expect can help you make sense out of what you are seeing through night vision goggles.
Now, in addition to all that, try looking out for claymore mines, ambushers and maybe even a hole in the ground.
Just as they were about to exit the area, they suddenly heard ruffling above them.
The next moment a man fell from the ceiling floor, along with a few of the tiles in front of them.
"Don't shoot! My name is Harris March! I'm an engineer!" He shielded his face with his hands.
"We got a survivor!"
Snake Doctor quickly grabbed him by the collar and pulled him into the next room, it was fortunate that the lights did work, but even more fortunate that there were no enemies in the area that heard the man when he screamed like a girl.
"W-Who are you people?" Harris March asked.
"The good guys; are you all right?"
"Oh sure, I'm having a hell of a time…" He replied acidly, completely different from his initial tone.
The man was wearing a bright orange Hawaii shirt and blue jeans, hardly proper dress code for an office worker or an engineer. He had a beard and messy hair; his body built can only be described as slight obese with that beer belly popping out.
"You said that you were an engineer? Can you help we get into the Main System network?"
Harris March snorted.
"What am I? Tech support? Tell you what, you disable the local security system first, and I'll see what I can do about the server…"
Tsuchimikado felt a strange desire to smack his face in with the butt of his weapon.
"Why? We can disable it remotely once I'm logged in."
"What the- Aren't you a little too young to be out of bed at this time?" Harris questioned the boy mockingly, but then changed his mind when he saw the shotgun in his hands. "No, you can't. It's on a separate network. Without disabling the local security system, you can't access the main network."
Harris March got up and opened the door on the opposite site of the room, revealing yet another narrow hallway.
"It's right down there …"
Tsuchimikado stared in disbelief.
"You mean that dark, quiet and suspicious looking hallway with the creepy flickering lights and howling wind coming from a shattered window?"
The obese man shrugged.
"Shit... Fine, just stay here. We'll be back shortly." Snake Doctor pointed at Tsuchimikado and another Alpha teammate. "You two, come with me, the rest of you stay put here- And keep an eye on Mr Personality here."
They enter a lobby area which is adjacent to the office area; looking back, Tsuchimikado saw Harris with a disgusting smile on his face.
Suddenly, he doesn't feel very stingy with his ammunition.
With caution in his step, Snake Doctor led the three of them through the darkness, his rifle pointing forward. The flickering lights were more of a nuisance than a help, fortunately there's enough light shone through from the open windows.
"Whoever designed this place must really hate their jobs," The unnamed Alpha member commented. "It's filled with nothing but offices, hallways, stairs and lobbies…"
The place looks like it had been trashed by a hurricane; the furniture was tossed in every direction, thousands of paper reports littered the floors like white snow in the winter.
Up ahead was the door labelled 'Security Office' that Harris spoke off.
"That looks like the place-"
They walked up to it.
"Command, we've got hostiles."
The three of them froze at the sound of a voice over the radio.
"…Understood, moving to engage all hostiles."
"…Well, that's not a good sign." Snake Doctor looked grim.
In an instance, thousands of bright yellow tracer rounds exploded from the darkness like shooting stars, streaking across the hallway towards them. They instinctively leaped into the security office.
"GET THAT SYSTEM ONLINE!" Snake Doctor yelled at Tsuchimikado while returning fire from behind the wall.
"It's going to take awhile!" Tsuchimikado reboot the computer then grabbed his shotgun to join the firefight.
He counted six of them hiding behind the cubical, the tracer rounds coming from their submachine guns gave away their position, but it also cause some kind of blinding effect.
Tsuchimikado saw one of them moving behind a table trying to get around them. He fired two shots through the table; the antipersonnel 'Flechette' rounds are known for its high penetrating power, upon impact the wall behind had been painted dark red by the high velocity blood splattered.
Nothing moved from that spot again.
"THIS IS SNAKE DOC!" the sergeant major radioed his men. "WE'RE UNDER-!"
Suddenly, the sound of gunfire echoed through the hallway from the opposite end.
"Snake Doc! We're engaging the enemy! They came out of nowhere! And that bastard Harris March bolt the moment we had our back's turn!"
"THAT SON OF A BITCH!" He cursed.
"We need to move! If we stay here one frag would take us all out!" The unnamed alpha member yelled into his ear.
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
Tsuchimikado started reloading his weapon.
For the last shell, Tsuchimikado loaded a 'special' round into the chamber.
Snake Doctor slap on a fresh mag.
The enemy stopped to reload.
Tsuchimikado popped out and fired his 'special' round.
It is a zirconium-based pyrotechnic round known as the [Dragon's Breath].
While it has few tactical uses, the visual effect it produces is impressive to say the least. Upon firing the round, it shoots out a mighty white flash up to the distance of 5 meters or 20 feet, similar to that of a short-ranged flamethrower. Effectively blinding anyone clustered in that small area, even if they weren't directly in front of it.
"FUCK I CAN'T SEE!"
The three of them stormed out of the door at the same time, the two Delta soldiers flanked left and right while Tsuchimikado charged ahead. The Valkyur mercs was taken back by this reckless move and hesitated for a split second to bring up his weapon; a costly fatal mistake.
Tsuchimikado watched in slow motion as the shotgun round entered his body with sure force that it almost blew his head clean off his neck.
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
Within seconds, all hostiles had been neutralized.
"CLEAR!" Snake Doctor declared. "Alpha, what is your status over?"
For a moment there was silence, then-
"…All hostile has been neutralized- sustained zero causalities."
"Good work, regroup in the Server room and secure this entire area..." Snake Doctor let out a sigh of relief. "We don't want any more uninvited visitors..."
Tsuchimikado went back in to check on the progress of the system reboot.
"Okay, I'm showing that the network has been rebooted, I'm setting up a link to Command so that they have access to the Local Security Network as well… Hmm, That March guy was right about the security being on a separate network; I can monitor all the camera feed and alarms, but I don't have any direct access to the Main System Network..."
"What about the research data on [Cheshire]?" Snake Doctor asked.
The blond haired boy typed in a few key, but shook his head.
"No good, the research data is isolated on a separate system in the R&D quarters; we can't access it from here… Looks like we're going to have to activate it manually."
"Why am I not surprised…" He lamented. "Where's the Server room for R&D?"
Tsuchimikado pulled up the screen.
"Here, but it looks like we'll have to get to the Main System Network first-"
Suddenly, a new voice could be heard on Tsuchimikado's earpiece.
( Musujime here, Accelerator just cleared the area of hostiles; we're on the roof heading inside now…)
"Kay, proceed to rendezvous with Accelerator to search for the missing recon team..."
21:30, Saturaday Night, White Circle headquarters Office Level 66.
The lifeless corpse fell to the ground.
That makes number fifty-one.
Accelerator had cut a bloody path through the entire platoon of Valkyur stationed on the roof-top and the subsequent four levels down.
He loads a fresh mag into his TDI Vector submachine gun.
Not wanting to be in a situation where he's forced to rely on his powers because he's out-gunned again, Accelerator decided to pick up an additional weapon besides his USP 45. After 'shopping' through the dead corpses, he has decided on the futuristic looking TDI Vector submachine gun, equipped with a holographic sight.
It has a unique design; an articulated mechanism which allows the block and bolt to recoil off axis into a recess behind the weapon's magazine well. What this translate into is a relatively light and small weapon (2.5kg in weight, 61.7cm in length), with sufficient firepower (30 rounds of .45 ACP per mag, going 1000 rounds per minute), but with very low recoil that he can fire from one hand.
This was something that Accelerator could really use in this situation where he doesn't know how long he would be fighting and wants to save battery, but at the same time he's not dealing with loser thugs can he could handle with only his pistol.
The boy ponders at the possibility of getting one himself when he gets back- Or maybe even keeping this one.
He salvaged another 2 magazines from the bodies he left behind, bring the total to seven, and stripped the ballistic vest off one of them and use it to hold his ammo.
Accelerator was on the hunt.
The Aztec Magician's voice echoed in his head.
(He's definitely in the building somewhere, keep your eyes peel…)
In addition to the surviving enemy forces that had withdrawn from North Lake Waste Water treatment plant after his rampage, the Hannibal-3 satellite had picked up John Mirra's tracker signal somewhere in the building.
The number one esper was uncertain how the man would react to the news of losing yet another platoon of his soldiers to him, maybe he'll run, or maybe he'll come after him personally.
Accelerator cautiously opens the door to the office, with the muzzle of his weapon entering first. Once he confirmed that the coast was clear, he quietly slide his body through the narrow passage into the room.
It didn't take him long to spot it.
In cubicle area, there was a dead body riddled with bullet holes, and a set of bloody footprints leading away from it like a trail of breadcrumbs.
"…Classy." The Strongest Esper rolled his eyes.
As he follows the bloody footprints, looked upward at the upper level glass-enclosed walkway and saw with the blood-smeared window-
Accelerator's eyes suddenly widened, then peer closer. There was something there, crawling over the window panes like a spider with unnatural speed. Forget being way too big for an insect, he's at least fifty stories up; the winds would have blown anything away.
"thE neighboR oF thE beasT …"
Accelerator snapped his weapon in the direction of the voice and saw the shadow of a little girl walking toward the right, then vanishes as the light in the walkway goes out, then returns dimly.
"Fine…" Accelerator grinned. "I'll play your game…"
He limps towards the walkway then enters an interior construction area with drywall-covered walls; they must have been renovating when the Valkyurs hit the place.
Unabara's voice suddenly appears in his ear.
(…Accelerator, I've just picked up John Mirra's transmitter somewhere ahead of you... I'm sending Bravo Team to your location now-)
As Accelerator turns the corner past the two sawhorses on left side of the hall, he nearly ran into a squad of Valkyurs waiting for him on the platform above. One of them threw down a chaff grenade that exploded in the center of the room littering the area with hundreds of aluminum strips.
Originally called [Window] by the British, who were the ones who pioneered the technique. It was used as radar countermeasure in which an aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminum, metalized glass fiber or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of secondary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns.
These days, it seems it can also be use to interfere with the electric choker of a certain number one.
Accelerator dropped down and rolled behind a nice thick pillar.
Suddenly the room exploded in a dazzling display of high powered rounds smashing into concrete walls and pillars.
"Fuck! Did they know about my-!"
With his choker down, the Valkyurs were suppressing him with their overwhelming firepower.
There was nothing he could do except wait for them to stop and reload, or for the chaff seeds to die down.
Accelerator couldn't hear anything aside from the deafening gunfire, but someone must have given the order to ceasefire because the shooting stopped abruptly.
There was a new voice, it was raspy and dry, like a man who was trapped in a desert for a long time without water.
"White hair... Red eyes... You're the 'rabbit' from my dreams aren't you? The one she told me so much about..."
There was a man standing behind them; He had a masculine build, well sculpted shoulders; his posture was slightly slouched, and he wore a crew cut hairstyle and was dressed in black leather jacket. His voice was husky and his eyes were empty- Like his soul had slipped out the back in along with his insanity.
"You've seen her, haven't you? The original... I was made from her... You were made by her… We are not so different... I've tasted it... I've tasted the flesh of fallen angels... And through it I was reborn!"
John Mirra, code name [Cheshire] by the Americans, began to grin, showing his teeth and gums in laughing:
"She is like a prisoner now, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, floating in darkness, unborn in the womb... You can't stop me, I will find Alice..."
"Alice?" Accelerator had a confused look.
"Tell me something; have you ever seen a grin without a cat...?"
John Mirra left Accelerator with those words before disappearing behind the same door he came in from, by then the chaff had dissipated and he was free to move again.
Accelerator didn't hesitate; he popped out of his hiding place firing his weapon without aiming, but Mirra's bodyguards were already gone as well. Accelerator pulled himself up using his cane and went after him.
"Musujime! I found Mirra! He's heading towards the lobby! Cut him off!"
(We're taking the elevator down!) She replied immediately.
Accelerator stormed through the double doors that led to a stairway, from above he heard the slamming of another door. He quickly struggled to the top and opened the door-
…Into a pure white hallway.
"What the hell...?"
Accelerator turned his head; the stairway that was just behind him was replaces by an endless white hall.
Turning around, Accelerator noticed that there were doors with numbers on each side. They were unusual, weird, completely senseless and ever changing. But they weren't all the same; some were counting down, others were rotating clockwise, and a few were orbiting around each other.
Then there were the voices.
Room %78 had a nervous voice; shaky and unstable.
"Think, damn it. Think. Think. Think! Wait. Just wait! I can figure this out, I can explain this, I can fix it. I can make it better. Think! Think!"
Room 55& was even more cowardly and pitiful.
"I killed them, my wife, my baby, I shot them, I buried them under the rosebush in the backyard. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"
Room 8^5 was powerful and fierce and angry.
"I'm gonna catch him, the one who did this, I'm gonna get him, I'm gonna make him pay, punish him, make him wish he was never born, hurt him, I'm going to kill him."
Room 665 was... This was...
"Funny, for a moment there I... forgot who I was. I've been switched; I didn't use to look like this! I thought I was the... killer, I thought I was a monster, I thought I was a hero, I thought I was a victim, I thought- Who am I? Who am I... I thought I was in love..."
This voice was HIS OWN.
He reached out and touched the door that had his voice.
665 – The neighbor of the Beast.
Suddenly, all the other doors fell silent.
He swallowed, and then opened the door.
"Who am I? Who am I… I thought… I thought I was in love…"
The voice was his.
But it didn't come from behind the door.
It came from himself, whispering as if he was reciting a chant from a lifetime ago.
Accelerator walked through the '665' door and was greeted by the smell of iron and gunpowder, as well as a familiar sight.
The bodies of the Misaka Sisters clones laid motionless on the ground soaked in their own blood and guts. The spent shell casings from their weapons littering the floor tell a story of a desperate struggle against fate, and a monster like the ones out of a horror movie.
Their eyes were empty.
There was a hole where her heart should be.
Their necks were in unnatural positions.
Their arms were twisted out of shape.
Their legs were spread suggestively.
Their skirts were barely covering.
Their clothes were ripped in places to show their breasts.
They looked so beautiful.
The flesh of fallen angels.
Once again, those haunting words dug themselves out his head.
From the corner of his eyes he caught a sudden movement. Instinctively, he drew his weapon and pointed it at the direction it came form.
His eyes widen.
It wasn't Dead-Kihara, but he was another Scientist that Accelerator was adequately familiar with.
But more importantly, he was someone else that should have been dead.
Like the night of August 31st where Accelerator lost his powers, Dead-Amai pointed that gun at his head, he had a strange voice similar to Dead-Kihara, it was twisted and stretched, coarse like stone but smooth as music, it was hollow like a cave but piercing like broken glass. The words he whispered next struck a chord in the boy.
"havE yoU wondeR iF thaT bulleT iN youR heaD iS stilL therE?"
The elevator door opened behind him.
"HOLD YOUR FIRE!"
"He's one of us!"
Accelerator turned around and saw the SFOD-D commandos pouring out of the elevator, soon followed by Musujime Awaki herself.
"Well, I guess this solved the mystery of what happened to the Recon team that disappeared... Gross..."
Accelerator looked down; the corpses of the clones were gone, replaced by the smoking skeletons of the SFOD-D squad that they had lost communications with. The only reason why they could be identified was because their uniforms were intact.
Dead-Amai was also gone, along with the pure white hallway with the crazy doors.
As if it was all just a dream.
Awaki crouched down to examine the blood on the floor as the SFOD-D escort moves to open the security gate.
Like always, the dead had all the answers that they were looking for. It wasn't that they weren't eager to talk; quite the contrary, the dead had plenty to say and once they started, they would never shut up.
Their words would keep you awake at night.
"Looks like they were ambushed..."
"Brilliant deduction; got anything USEFUL to add?"
Awaki shot him a glare but continued.
"Look at how the metal parts of their weapons and even their dog tags are being warped… If I were to guess, it looks like these guys had been cooked from the inside out. It's the build-up of pressure that literally blew them apart; my guess is microwave radiation."
That could only mean…
"Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting…" Accelerator frowned.
"There's no way mercenaries have this kind of weapons…"
Neither of them said it, but they both came to the same conclusion.
[GROUP] might not be the only faction from Academy City taking part in this operation.
"What are you thinking?" Awaki asked.
"That there's something else that bastard on the phone isn't telling us…" Accelerator grinned as a thought came to his mind. "And anything that they don't want us to know is one more thing we can use as leverage against them."
Without warning Unabara's voice popped into their heads.
(Accelerator, I've got a hit on who this 'Alice' is; John Mirra must have been referring to 'Alice Duchess', the leading researchers of [White Circle], and the architect of the [Cheshire] project that gave birth to John Mirra's psychic powers. We need to get to her before he does; she could be the key to stop all of this.)
"What's her last known locations?"
(According to the security log... She's in the Executive Building-)
Accelerator turned to Awaki.
"I'll leave Mirra to you; I'm going after the girl..."
"What! Our job is to secure Mirra! Not go saving civilians!"
The boy rolled his eyes in annoyance.
"Are you really that stupid? The Army has been chasing this son of a bitch all over the god damned city and every time we're always one step behind him! This Alice woman might be the key to getting ahead of him! I'll use her as bait if I have to!"
Awaki grumbled but decided to drop the matter.
Once the boy was out of earshot, the Bravo Team leader, call sign 'Cool Breeze' walked up to the red haired girl and asked;
"Is that really okay?"
"I don't give a rat's ass; if he wants to go be some Hero and get himself killed… Well that's his problem."
Accelerator took the elevator down; when the door closed behind he slumped against the wall, he had to put up a strong illusion in front of Awaki, but the truth is that he's exhausted from his experience with John Mirra and Dead-Amai.
"Shit, just what am I doing...?"
His reasoning for finding this 'Alice Duchess' was sound; it made perfect sense in every way.
But alone in this box surrounded by four walls, he wonders if he can trust his sense of reasoning, if that was the real reason why he wanted to find 'Alice'. He's not that big of an idiot to not realize that something in very wrong with this case, with this place... With his mind.
The dead coming back to haunt him is nothing new; nobody kills the same girl 10031 times without something breaking inside. But this time it's different, it's not only the nightmares when he's asleep, but the twisting of reality while he's awake- assuming he is awake, that has shaken him.
Unconsciously, he touched his forehead, the spot where a single bullet changed him forever.
Then a thought appear, a simple hypothesis…
Accelerator begins to wonder…
What if its still there?
A hole in his head the shaped of a bullet, a part of his brain blew out by a wad of lead. What did it remove? What did it replace? His dreams? His memories? His life?
What did it revealed? Something buried deep within his soul?
How can he even claim to be rational, when his mind might not even be whole?
Maybe it really is still in there somewhere, rerouting his synapse, driving him deeper down the rabbit hole.
Maybe it has finally beginning to move again, closer towards its final destination…
22:00, Saturday Night, [White Circle] Research Department.
"...So you see, while big breasts are very favourable qualities, too often they obscure the character and personality of the girl. On the other hand, a small chested girls are closer to the heart, without the distraction of an overly obvious sexual assets, people are more prone to understanding her feelings and-"
"I'm sorry, but that still sounds like justification for pedophiles..."
"Tch…" Tsuchimikado looked annoyed.
Tsuchimikado and Snake Doc just connected the Main System Network and were heading to the research building. [White Circle] headquarters is actually made up of three separate Skyscrapers linked together by bridges, the area that is specific for research and development was in a completely different building from the offices. They need to find and access the data base for the research data on project [Cheshire]. Since it's on a separate network, they would have to manually activate them before they could connect the system with Command.
"Any luck trying to contact Genevieve Hartqueen?"
The American shook his head.
"The Colonel has been trying to get through to the Director of [White Circle] ever since this shit started. We're only able to confirm that she wasn't around when [Cheshire] and the Valkyur Merces hit the compound, but we can't seem to track her down..."
"Maybe she doesn't want to be found."
(Heads up, your old friend Harris March was last sighted in this area...)
No sooner did Unabara said those words, the duo turned a corner and saw March hovering over a console in another security office.
He looked up and saw the two of them.
He didn't look please to see them at all.
"Oh Jesus, you again... Don't you people have anything else to do?"
"Mr March, for your own safety, I have to insist that you come with us."
Snake Doctor tried to be diplomatic and reasonable, but Tsuchimikado was already loading his Spas-12 with a round to smash through the harden security glass that Harris March was hiding behind.
Neither actions seem to intimidate him.
"Yadayadayada... See this button?" Harris March taunts them as he raises his hand over the said button. "I wonder what this does..."
"Don't you dare-!"
"Oopsy!" March activated the automated defense turret.
"SONOFABI-!" Both Tsuchimikado and Snake Doc leaped for the nearest cover as the turret open fire on their location.
"Bye bye now!" Harris March mocked them as he ran out of the office.
"I'M GONNA RIP HIS LUNGS OUT!"
Tsuchimikado grabbed a can of coke lying on the floor from a broken vending machine and threw it across the room. The turret was probably an older model with very basic targeting system. As it senses any movement, it would fire its machine gun, 'chasing' after it. They were fortunate it wasn't an Academy City model, which would have a larger array of sensors and a much more powerful processor- it would have shot the can 30 times the very second it leaves the cover.
The moment the security turret as pointed far away from his direction, Tsuchimikado tilt around the corner and shot it.
The Frag-12 is a military round which fires a fin-stabilized 19mm explosive warhead. It was designed to be used against light armoured targets and vehicles.
It completely decimated the defense turret.
Tsuchimikado fired another shot, shattering the optimistically named "bullet-resistant" glass of the security office.
They wasted no time chasing after Harris. With one hand supporting on the ledge and the other holding the Spas-12, Tsuchimikado leaped into the security office and kicked down the door that Harris ran through.
Staring him in the face was the muzzle of another machine gun turret; Tsuchimikado quickly took cover behind the wall.
"The bastard activated the defense measures in this area! It's set to shoot all unauthorized personnel on sight- that means it wouldn't target an employee like himself!"
"Can't you disarm it?"
"Computer hacking isn't exactly the same as pressing a button to reboot!"
Snake Doctor surveyed the security office and saw an open offline elevator.
They climbed up the emergency ladder and entered the warm ventilation tunnel.
It was a tight squeeze; between the two of them and their gear, there was barely enough room to worm through, but this was the only way to bypass the turret. Once they're behind the gun, Snake doctor kicked open a ventilation grate and the two of them dropped down behind the Turret.
"Whew, never wanted to do that again…" Said Tsuchimikado as he was covered in sweat from the workout he had crawling through the vent, and destroyed the Turret with a single shot from his Spas-12.
Snake Doctor frowned.
"This is the way to the Research Department's main server room…"
The atmosphere grew tenser.
"There's only one reason to be heading there at a time like this…" Tsuchimikado spoke ominously. "We need to hurry-"
The sound of mechanical movement stopped them dead in their tracks. Looking from across the hallway, they saw a gun turret being deployed.
Further down was yet another two more gun turret deployed in the reception area.
And even further than that was another set stationed at the floor grate.
"Bloody Hell, this is going to take forever!"
Harris March was twitching nervously.
When he had signed on to [White Circle] ten years ago, all he wanted was a boring job where he does boring things with boring people and passes those boring days boringly.
Five years later when he got assigned to the [Cheshire] project, things got a little bit interesting but he didn't complain as the pay was good and the women were definitely hotter in white coats.
Three years from then, the job begins to get a little too heavy for him when he witness John Mirra killing another man in cold blood. The Security team got into the room in time before Mirra ripped off the face.
Six month ago, the [Cheshire] project was near completion, Harris decided that it was time to move on.
Skip to the present.
Harris March was in a building under siege by paramilitary forces killing anyone in sight; those they didn't shoot were brought to John Mirra for his own brand of 'interrogation'. He had just threatened the lives of the people that were sent to rescue him, all to come here to delete some files.
Somewhere down the line, something changed in Harris.
But none of that matters now.
As long as he can-
The sound of a shotgun being cocked rang out behind him.
"Mr March… Just the man I've been killing to meet nyan…" Tsuchimikado smirked.
Harris was completely dumbfounded.
"How the hell…? There's no way you could have gotten through all those sentry guns that quick!"
Rather than fighting all those turrets, Snake Doctor and Tsuchimikado decided to cheat a little.
They found the power box that provides electricity to the entire floor.
Snake Doctor shoots padlocked gate labelled "Closed Area" to access power switch and Tsuchimikado turn off power with his shotgun.
Quadrangle buckshot is a pretty nifty ammunition; it is used to destroy the insides of anything sensitive.
Like say a power box for example.
But it seems that the server room is running on the different line as the computers are still receiving power from somewhere.
"End of the line Harris-"
But before Snake doctor even finished his sentence, Harris had made a mad dash to the exit.
Tsuchimikado fired the rubber less-than-lethal rounds but the lucky bastard dodged all of them.
"HAHA! Sayonara suckers!" Harris gloated as he slams his fist into the emergency switch; the heavy security doors close sealed shut behind him.
The two of them turned the corner and through a window panel, sees Harris March trying to squeeze into a wall vent- It was like watching a sperm whale trying to knit.
But eventually the slippery bastard disappeared into the vent.
"...That's not how you use 'sayonara', you idiot." Tsuchimikado mumbled at the misuse of the Japanese language.
"At least he's predictable" Snake doc mused.
It was too much of a waste of time going chasing after Harris while the building is still crawling with hostiles. Besides, they're main objective was still the retrieval of the [Cheshire] data. But the fat bastard had deleted a lot of files, the only thing remaining are just garbage data and-
The former magician eyed the screen in front of him thoughtfully.
"Hang on, there's a list of names… Unabara, I need you to run something for me…"
Tsuchimikado listed out a set of names.
Unabara replied shortly.
(There's no mistake about it, including Charles Harbinger and Bill Moody that Musujime and Accelerator found mutilated, and every other known victims of Mirra…)
The names were found in a file that Cheshire wasn't able to delete completely.
The title of the document was labelled [Mock Turtle].
"So for some reason, Mirra is bumping off the names of people involved with this [Mock Turtle] document?" Snake Doctor mumbled. "What is that old hag Hartqueen hiding…"
Suddenly, amidst the mountain of data, something caught Tsuchimikado's attention.
"There's only four names left on this list that we haven't found dead yet; that bastard Harris March…The Director of [White Circle], Genevieve Hartqueen who nobody knows where she is… The head of the [Cheshire] project, Alice Duchess… And…"
Tsuchimikado's eyes bulged.
It was the last name he had ever expected to see.
At the same time, it was the worst name he ever could find.
"…No fucking way."
22:30, Saturday Night, [White Circle] main office building.
"There are five of them," Musujime Awaki counted.
"Six," Bravo Team leader [Cool Breeze] corrected her, "I saw the muzzle of another one behind that wall…"
Including the hostage in the center, that makes seven people.
It looks like they're holding him until the interrogator arrives.
That could only be one person- John Mirra.
Bravo Team figured that rather than aimlessly wandering around looking for him, if they stayed put long enough John Mirra would walk right into them. So they set up a nice ambush to wait for him.
It's been twenty minutes, still no sign of the target.
The red haired girl whispered into her earpiece.
"Oi, are you sure that sick bastard is still here?"
(According to the transmitter's signal, Mirra should still be in the building...)
Suddenly there was movement from the Valkyur.
"Roger that, we will execute the hostage-"
"Erm Cool Breeze, I don't think [Cheshire]'s coming!" One of the Delta soldiers alerted the Bravo Team Leader to the mercenaries.
Suddenly one of the Valkyurs pulled out his sidearm and pointed it at the hostage's head.
"SHIT! Engage! Engage!"
A flurry of highly precision bullets flew across the room; each member of Bravo Team had been assigned a target so that no two shooters are wasted on a single target.
The mercenaries fell like flies before they even knew what hit them.
"SEVEN! There are seven!"
Suddenly, a seventh merc leap out from under the desk and ran for the radio.
"KNAVE IS- ARGH!"
At least fifty bullets from every member of Bravo Team penetrated his body; but the damage was already done.
"Aldus Knave has been compromise; all units response to his location immediately." The radio ominously declared their death sentence.
"Get that hostage! All Hell is about to rain down on us soon!" Cool Breeze barked his orders.
"PLEASE GE THIS THING OFF ME!" The man yelled.
On closer observation, they saw at least eight blocks of C4 plastic explosives decorated by multiple black wires going in and out and generally all over the vest.
"Sarge, he's wired with enough bling to send us all to Jesus…" One of the soldiers reported.
"Can't you do something about it?" The Level 4 Esper girl asked impatiently.
"Sure if I had time, but there's a shitstorm coming this way any minute now- We'll just have to take him with us-"
But the man wearing the bomb vest strongly objected.
"NO! I heard them saying that it would blow once I leave this room!"
Awaki did her best not to facepalmed at the situation.
"Then there must be a sensor somewhere here that would trigger the device! We'll just have to find it and-"
The elevator doors dinged behind them.
"Oh crap…" One of the Delta soldier muttered.
Six heavily armed mercenaries storm out of the elevator with guns blazing, firing at everything in the room with their light machine guns; their 7.62 NATO rounds smashed through anything in their path. They're not even concern with identifying targets; their intention was to lay waste to everything in this level.
It looks like Mirra is cleaning house.
The Delta soldiers took up defensive positions while the hostage wearing the bomb vest cowers behind a desk.
And in the middle of all this is Awaki, rolling her eyes in exasperation.
"This is ridiculous…"
In one swift wave of a hand, she used her powerful Move Point ability to teleport the bomb vest off the hostage and right in the middle of the advancing enemy forces.
"WHAT THE HELL-?" One of the mercenaries cried out as the vest materializes in front of him with a threatening beep before-
Chunks of meat and twisted metal flew everywhere.
"How did you…?" The former walking bomb had an incredulous look on his face but he wasn't the only one, the rest of Bravo team including Cool Breeze were equally stunned.
Awaki chose to ignore them.
"That definitely won't be the last of them; do we have a way out of here?"
Like the flick of a switch, the Bravo team leader was back into serious business mode.
"Our birds are on stand-by ready to pick us up," Cool Breeze nodded. "We need to head back up to the rooftops."
"Then what are we waiting for!" The former hostage suddenly yelled. "Let's get out of here!"
They took the elevator, which somehow miraculously remain intact, back up to the rooftop.
Once inside, Cool Breeze started questioning the hostage.
"First, who the hell are you? "
"My name is Aldus Knave; I-I'm an analyst here at [White Circle]."
"Mr Knave, do you have any idea why [Cheshire] has targeted you?"
"NO! I-I mean… I'm not even in working on that project!"
"Then what are you working on?" Awaki asked.
There was a short pause before he answered; clearly he's conflicted about revealing that piece of information to anyone, but eventually he said it.
"…The [Dormouse] Numbers."
Suddenly, the entire elevator jerked, stopping at the 66th floor..
"…What the hell just happened?" Awaki swallowed nervously.
"I've got a bad feeling about this…" Cool Breeze groaned.
That's when the doors opened-
Three grenades landed inside the elevator; they were thrown by the Valkyurs waiting for them.
Without even a shift in facial expression, Awaki waved her flashlight and sent the explosives right back at the enemy's location.
"MOVE! GET OUT!" Cool Breezed roared as he grabbed Knave by his collar and dragged him along.
The entire office floor had turn into ambushed alley; like the opening of a floodgate, a billion Valkyurs were popping around every pillar, wall, desk, file cabinet and photocopier spraying down that narrow corridor with armour piercing bullets. The gunfire was so thick you can reach out and pluck a bullet out in mid-air.
Fortunately, Bravo Team had a secret weapon.
A Level 4 Esper with the ability to teleport objects from a distance.
Musujime used her Move Point power to take things like broken down steel cabinets and large heavy office tables that were in the area and forcibly move them in front of her as shields. After defending against the attack, she would take the three inch nails she had and directly stick them into her opponent's arms and legs. It always ended with that same pattern.
Spinning in her hand was a military flashlight that could also be used as a baton. She used it to assist with her power by aligning her aim with it. Because her power had too high a level of freedom, if she didn't establish her own point of reference, her aim was too vague.
If they were hiding behind furniture she would simply teleport their cover away to expose them for the Delta soldiers to take out, or to drop it directly on top of them to break their necks.
Move Point by itself is already an incredible power, combine it with the deadly accuracy of a team of elite commandos like Delta Force and it becomes an unstoppable force. For the first time the idea that a 'Level 4' has tactical military value is full represented in this perfect combination of Esper ability and military firepower.
As a testament to the effectiveness of this combination; not a single one of Bravo Team was wounded or killed, and they didn't just survive the ambush, they actually could have killed every single one of them. The only reason why they didn't was because they wanted to save ammo.
Once safely behind the two inch steel reinforce service doors at the end of ambush hallway; Aldus collapse on to the ground, completely drained by his experience.
"That… Was… I-I… That…"
He wasn't the only one; most of the Delta Soldiers couldn't believe they had survived a shootout like that; it's something they could brag to the rest of their buddies once they get out of here. But in the meantime, they still got a job to do.
Cool Breeze took charge and quickly got them back on track.
"Mr Knave, I need you to get up, we got to keep moving."
Aldus Knave nodded his head weakly as he allowed Cool Breeze to pull him up.
They're found the service elevator just a little further in and ride it the rest of the way up to the rooftop.
"Hey, "The red hair Esper suddenly nudged Knaves. "What that [Dormouse] number that you've mentioned earlier?"
Knave blinked at the Asian teenage girl and it was only then that he wondered what she was doing here in the first place, but decided not to put too much thought into it.
"It's the code name given to the stream of numbers that is being broadcasted throughout the city by shortwave radio. Nobody knows what they are or who's broadcasting it. That was the assignment that my department was tasked with finding out."
"Tell me about these numbers." Bravo Team Leader edged him on.
"They're never more than two digits numbers, they do repeat themselves but they never loop any of the sequence. For some reasons the amount of data was borderline astronomical! Our computers would take years to crack…" Knave paused for a moment. "In fact I don't think we would able to decrypt them without a 'key' of some sort…"
When the elevator doors opened, they were greeted by the beautiful sight of a Black Hawk helicopter.
They braved the torrent of cold wind piercing their skin and they walked towards it.
"What do you mean a 'key'?" Awaki pressed him for more information as they boarded the aircraft.
"You know, a KEY! A fragment of the code that can be used to decrypt the rest of it! If we just have that we can figure out what the Numbers mean, and maybe even figure out where it is coming from!"
"WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH [CHESHIRE]?" Cool Breeze yelled. "Why is he interested in the [Dormouse] Numbers?"
"I DON'T KNOW! As far as we could tell those numbers mean nothing! They're not codes for any weapon system or government database! And they're just floating there in the air doing nothing!"
The Air crew inside the Black Hawk made a quick head count before closing the doors and signal the pilot to take off.
"When did the numbers start appearing?"
"The earliest recorded incident of a person intercepting the numbers was eight years ago! But my group was only officially tasked with analyzing them just a few days after the [Cheshire] program went online! Director Hartqueen wanted to know if those Numbers would interfere with the programming for the [Mock Turtle]!"
"Honestly, you men and your code names!" Awaki rolled her eyes in annoyance. "What the hell is the [Mock Turtle]?"
Suddenly, a sharp piercing screech pinged out from all direction.
It wasn't particularly deafening or painful.
But Awaki felt slightly disorientated for some reason.
"Did you hear tha-?"
Those were the last words Aldus Knave ever said.
In an instant, a flash of red exploded from the center of his body and went out the back.
Chunks of flesh and bone shards littered the insides of the Black Hawk along with 40% of his liquefied internal organs.
Something that could barely be recognised as a human corpse was all that was left of the man named Aldus Knave.
"SHIT! SHOTS FIRED!"
"ANYBODY SAW WHERE IT CAME FROM?"
"I DIDN'T EVEN HEAR ANYTHING!"
While the Americans were freaking out, Awaki remained silent.
For a good reason.
There's no mistake about it.
The high pitch sound was from a device that uses the same principles as echolocation that bats and various mammals use to map out their surroundings with pinpoint precision. It was said that the technology was developed from studying an Esper that specializes in manipulating air molecules to control sound waves. But the scientists were able to extend the range of this effect to cover a much larger radius.
The weapon used to take out Knave was probably a magnetic accelerated sniper rifle firing steel rounds, which could explain why the soldiers didn't hear any gunshot. And because it runs on electricity rather than gunpowder, there is no recoil. Without the shock that most sniper rifles produce, sensitive aiming equipment can be attached very precisely to it which could easily allow the shooter to hit a moving target inside a black hawk helicopter.
Both of these weapons have one common point; they're made nowhere else but in Academy City.
"Looks like somebody double booked this job…" She narrowed her eyes.
22:35, Saturday Night, [White Circle] Executive Level 50.
The Valkyur mercenary let out a cry of pain before collapsing onto the floor; 5 freshly made bullet holes appeared on his chest.
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
Another one bites the dust.
Two rounds right between the eyes.
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
The wall of .45ACP bullets fired single-handedly using a TDI Vector cut through the oak door as well as the man attempting to ambush the boy from behind it.
Accelerator released the now empty magazine from his submachine gun. He then pulled out a fresh one, spun the gun around so the slot for the magazine was pointed up while his pointer finger remained on the trigger, pulled a magazine from his left sleeve with his mouth, put it in the gun, spun the gun halfway back around, put the slide in his mouth, and pulled it back.
Surrounding him where the bodies of the other mercenaries.
"That's the fourth patrol I've run into already… Must be getting close…"
An irritating soft male voice appeared in his head again.
(I've lost Mirra's signal again… I don't know if he's even still in the building, or it's just the transmitter malfunctioning…)
"Piece of shit…"
(In any case, I've just received evidence from Tsuchimikado that John Mirra is going after the members of the project; but more specifically the people who worked on something called the [Mock Turtle].)
"The hell is that?"
(Aside that it's a part of the [Cheshire] Project that gave John Mirra his psychic powers and the list of names of the people involved, we know nothing about it.)
"Fuck, guess we'll just have to ask this Alice woman… What about on Musujime's end?"
(According to Musujime, the people in charge of [Cheshire] were interested in a series of numbers being broadcasted throughout the city…)
Accelerator stopped and frowned.
(They don't know what they mean, or where it's coming from… The data collected from analysing it is quite enormous that the Americans had no way to decrypt it… The Director of [White Circle] herself ordered had a task force set up specifically to investigate it; apparently she's worried that they might be affecting this [Mock Turtle] thing. )
Hearing what Unabara had said, Accelerator felt something hidden in the dark side of his mind, scratching away at his consciousness.
He asked a simple question
"…These numbers, did they say when they first discovered them?"
(Yes in fact, Musujime mentioned that the first recorded incident happened eight years ago…)
Suddenly he heard rumbling noises coming from behind an office door.
Without missing a beat, he switched on his choker to smash through the adjacent wall for the element of surprise.
The woman hiding in the room screamed in terror.
She looked like she was in her thirties and had long red hair and dark eyes and wore a white blouse and a pair of business lady's pants as well as a nice body to top it off.
She only stop screaming once she opened her eyes and saw that Accelerator wasn't one of the Valkyur mercenaries.
"You're… You're not one of them…"
"Are you Alice Duchess, Head of the [Cheshire] project?" Accelerator asked her.
"Y-Yes, who are you?" The woman looked surprised when he called her name.
"I believe the term you people use is, the 'cavalry'."
"You're here to save me? But…You're just a kid!"
Accelerator rolled his eyes and wonders why does every American always gasp at the fact that he's a teenager in the middle of a warzone. Is it really such an incredible sight for a 16 year old to be in the middle of a gunfight? Isn't America a more dangerous place?
"John Mirra is sending his death puppets after you- Either you waste my time asking stupid questions, or you shut up and come with me if you want to live."
Alice Duchess gulped and nodded.
"So… What's the plan?"
"We get to the roof; the Army has a whole fleet of helicopters above us."
"A helicopter?" Alice replied nervously. "Can't we drive instead? My car is downstairs in the parking garage..."
"What, are you afraid of flying?"
"…Kind of." She replied sheepishly.
"…You're safer in the air."
"Yeah, right…" Alice mumbled.
As they backtracked their way through the office work places to the elevator, Alice was treated by the gruesome sight of Accelerator's 'handy work' with the Valkyur mercenaries.
"What a mess…" The woman looked more astonished than afraid. "You did all this? Wow, you really don't mess around, do you?"
Just a little bit, Accelerator was starting to like her….
"Erm, were you expecting company?"
Alice pointed at the number above the elevator door that represented the floors. The numbers above the door continued to change. They were rising. It had started at ten, now it was at twenty. Accelerator eyed it with interest. The numbers were still rising, rather quickly.
"Go hide behind something solid…" He raised his weapon and pointed it at the door while Alice obediently took cover behind the wall.
27, 28, 29, 30, 31…
The speed of the elevator seemed to increase. The rate of rising was much too fast to be normal. The sound of machinery running inside the shaft grew loud and ominous, like the cries of a ravenous beast crawling its way up towards them; a sign of the strain exerted to raise an object of their size and weight at such speed.
Accelerator overturned and shifted the position of a large table between him and the elevator and crouch his body behind it.
The number above the elevator doors had now blurred. Accelerator was almost sure it would burst through the roof and into the night sky at such speed. The machinery inside the shaft grew louder and louder as if screaming in unholy agony. The floor number continued to rise without stopping. The beast approaches with savage fury.
The white hair boy gripped his weapon tightly.
Without warning, the elevator stopped. As soon as the sounds from inside the shaft had stopped, the panel above the doors read "50".
Yet the doors themselves weren't opening.
Accelerator was locked in place from the adrenaline that pumped through his veins. His submachine gun levelled dead-set at the immobile doors that stood before him.
Suddenly, the sound of static crept into his earpiece. The lights began to flicker, and the doors slowly opened.
A body lay sprawled against the wall and floor. Blood splattered the interior of the elevator.
"Jesus!" Alice gasped.
With caution, Accelerator slowly rose from behind the couch. With careful advance, he neared the elevator.
The words, "It's all perfectly rational" Was written in blood on the ceiling of the elevator.
"…We'll take the next one."
Alice nodded silently.
The second Elevator arrived shortly; corpse-free.
"Let's get out of here!" the office lady with a nice body quickly pushed the button for the highest level that this machine could bring them which was the 68th floor.
Once the door closes she breathe out a sigh of relieve.
"We're safe now right?"
But before Accelerator could reply her; suddenly the 60th, 62nd, 64th and 66th button also lit up.
"Erm…Why are all the floors lighting up?" Alice Duchess' eye grew wider.
"FUCK! There's just no end to this!" Accelerator yelled in frustration.
He quickly pushed Alice behind a cover while he himself presses against the wall on the right side so that he could shoot his TDI Vector submachine gun with his left hand.
"Oh god oh god oh god…!"
"FLUSH HIM OUT!"
The familiar sound of gunfire overwhelmed their senses. It was a risk to even peek for a second to identify his targets, mostly he just blind fires from cover, limiting the exposal of his body. His goal wasn't to kill everyone, but to keep their heads down so they won't shoot back.
"WHY ISN'T THIS FUCKING DOOR CLOSING?" Accelerator screamed.
"THEY MUST HAVE CONTROL OVER THE SYSTEM! HANG ON!"
Alice Duchess was on the side of the control panel, she began input a series of numbers into the panel.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
"I'M USING MY PASSWORD TO OVERWRITE IT!"
Ten seconds later the elevator sprung back to life and closed the door behind them.
Accelerator quickly reloaded his weapon.
But their victory was short lived; the elevator stopped and opened it's mouth at the 62nd floor inviting yet another round of gunfire.
"SHIT! ARRRHHHH! I THOUGHT YOU OVERWRITE IT?"
"I'LL HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!"
"YOU'VE GOT TO BE SCREWING WITH ME!"
Another ten seconds later the elevator door closed.
"Here we go again!".
A modern assault rifle fires at a rate of 900 rounds a minute, give or take a few hundred. That's about 15 rounds a second. At all times Accelerator counted at least 8 guys with a decent shot at the Elevator. It takes Alice Duchess 15 seconds to input a 15 digit code while under fire. So in summary; Accelerator has to survive 1800 bullets flying at his direction for a third time.
The door closed after fifteen seconds again.
"…You know; you don't have to try to kill everyone."
The Elevator doors opened on the 66th floor, but instead of a hailstorm of bullets like the previous three times, what greeted them was a dark lobby and an eerie grave-like silence.
"What's going on?" Accelerator asked the lead scientist of the [Cheshire] project. "What happened to the power?"
"The security might have locked down the entire Elevator system; I can't do anything about that from here- someone has to manually disable the system on this level…"
Now Accelerator has to make a choice; leaving Alice behind in the elevator is risky, but if he brings her with him, there's a chance they might get ambushed, and while Redirection is a great power for attack, it's not so effective when it comes to protecting and she could get caught up in one of his attacks.
The answer was obvious.
"Stay here, I'll be back…"
"Wait! You're not just going to leave me here unarmed are you?" She protested.
Accelerator rolled his eyes, and pulled out his sidearm.
"No, I want the bigger gun…" She pouted
"For Fuck sakes- do you even know how to use it?"
"Yeah, point and click right?"
Accelerator facepalmed, then unslung his TDI Vector submachine gun and handed it to her along with his tactical vest and the rest of his magazine.
"This is the safety; don't forget to turn it off before shooting."
Alice accepted the weapon and wished him good luck.
He took his time as he advanced down the hall. The shifting shadows all around did nothing to help settle the tension that dominated his brain. Every dark place was a place for Mirra and his ilk to hide. A place for them to lunge out without any warning…
As the white haired boy looked back, he could see the woman crouching behind the Elevator panel with the alertness of a child playing hid and seek. He shook his head and limped on.
Accelerator risked a quick glance around the next corner. The hallway was dark. Mirra could be anywhere on this floor. Dark offices and conference rooms were hollow of any occupation loomed on either side of the dark corridor.
A dull light illuminated the end of the hall only a few shades lighter. It was distinct enough though to attract his heightened sense of awareness. He kept his body flush to the wall as he carefully peered around the corner. The small light was from a laptop sitting on one of the tables; Accelerator ignored it.
But he did notice the small plaque posted on the wall. With the help of illumination from his small mobile phone; the plaque revealed to be a directory. Labs, conference rooms, but one in particular stood out.
The Security Office looks like it's just around the corner.
The White haired boy continued down the black hallway; the silence had made Accelerator so cautious of every step he took. Normally one would try hard to make each step softer than the last, but because of his condition it's impossible to walk without his cane giving away his position, at best he can only hope to survive the initial attack for just the half second it would take to turn on his choker.
A door in the glass wall caught his eye, as well as the letters upon it:
It doesn't get more obvious than this.
Inside the room was almost pitch-black, save for the light shining from the computer screen.
Suddenly, the soft voice of Unabara Mitsuki could be heard in his ear piece.
(Accelerator, are you alone?)
"What do you want hentai?"
(This is regarding the increasing evidence that we're not the only team from Academy City; aside from the liquefied remains of the Delta recon team that you've found, Musujime has reported the use of Academy City grade technology being used to kill one of [White Circle]'s employee. This is not something we can ignore anymore, so I had a little chat with the man on the other side of the phone…)
This refers to the man in charge of the organization known as [GROUP]; the slimy son of a bitch that put together this rag tag team of trash disposers.
"And? What did that bastard say?"
(The usual, 'don't think about unnecessary things, just kill off anyone that resists', but I sensed a slight hint of annoyance in his tone which tells me that this is something he didn't expect as well.)
"Hah… That is very interesting…" Anything that bastard doesn't know is also one more thing Accelerator can use against him.
It'll be pointless to try and catch this 'splinter cell'; chances are that they're only pawns following orders. But the ones pulling their strings could be of some value…
"Is that all?"
(Not quite; remember I told you about the list of names Tsuchimikado found on the [Mock Turtle] file? Only four of those names are still alive, or at least haven't been found dead yet- three of them are [White Circle]'s people which is nothing surprising- but there was one name that caught his attention, Tsuchimikado had me triple check it before telling you…)
"If you're going to say it, just freaking say it and stop wasting my-!" Accelerator shouted in frustration, completely forgetting that he's in hostile territory.
The Number One Esper stopped cold in his tracks.
(You of all people should be more than familiar with that 'name'…)
Of course he is, anybody who had spent most of their life in the darkness of an underworld would have heard that name. Actually it isn't a real name- it's an alias used by one Scientist.
'Herseaia King' is an anagram for 'Kihara Gensei'.
A famous and influential scientist who famous in different circles, Kihara Gensei's expertise is in the line of neuroscience, where he conducts experiments to improve the potential of the human mind, though in more sinister ways than most scientists.
Kihara is a sinister figure despite his usually smiling expression; he has no qualms in killing people for the success of his research.
Currently, his whereabouts are unknown, though its believe that his experiments still continues to this day.
Suddenly, the boundaries between nightmare and real became blurred; what should only make sense in the dream was completely rational in the real world. Something reverberated from deep within that bullet-shaped hole in his head.
"so this is the one i have heard so much about…"
"you will become a god among men…"
Accelerator begins to stagger, he slump against the wall of the security office.
(One final thing; remember the treatment plant at Northlake and the warehouse that you found Bill Moody? I've finally gotten a hold of the Army's classified files on that location…As it turns out, before [White Circle] took over the site, it used to belong to another organization, something called-)
The screen on the computer flickered with static.
Accelerator felt like a bomb had went off in his head. The bullet, real or imaginary lodged in his brain moved a fatal, microscopic distance.
There was a blind spot in his head, a bullet-shaped hole where the answers should be. Call it denial. Accelerator wanted to dig inside his skull and scrape out the pain.
He could no longer hear Unabara's voice in his head.
The room exploded in a blind flash of white, the walls holding his consciousness began crumbling down and colours stop making sense.
Like rats escaping a flooded sewer, those haunting words begun pouring out of his mind.
White Box is actually a mirror…
You remember him don't you…?
Mirrors are more fun than television…
You are the sum of us all…!
You always were the clever boy…
She dyed her hair red…
Never seen a grin without a cat…
The flesh of fallen angels…
I will find Alice...
NIRS AH MO TEN TAN TELEVISION…
It's all perfectly rational…
Please let me see my reflection…!
The neighbour of the beast…
That's not my name…!
Who am I…? I thought I was in love…
ALICE… WAKE UP…!
Accelerator gasped for air as the hallucinations subsided.
He struggled to get up from the floor which he doesn't remember falling onto.
There was someone else in the room.
He wore a blood stained lab coat.
There was a hole where his heart should be.
As if mocking him, Dead-Amai made a gun shape with one hand and pressed it against his own temper, while the other hand pointed at the screen showing one of the security cameras.
He then whispered in that hollow messed up voice-
"iN thE nightmarE, everY choicE yoU makE iS thE wronG onE…"
Suddenly, Accelerator heard the growling sounds of machinery being brought back to live.
Looking at the screen on the computer, the life seems to return back to the elevator. He could see the look of relieve on Alice's face… Alice… Alice…
Oh God, how could he have gotten it all so wrong!
Accelerator flick on his choker and ploughed through the walls.
He didn't care about anything now.
The number one esper cut a straight path towards the Elevator where he had left that woman.
As he destroyed the last obstacle in his way, he found himself back in front of the elevator lobby.
Alice Duchess was startled when she saw the wall exploding towards her, but soon relaxed when Accelerator appeared.
But the white hair doesn't see any of that; he was staring at what's behind the woman.
Alice doesn't know.
Standing behind her in the elevator was a little girl probably no older than ten- No she was eight years old…
She wore a red dress- No it wasn't a red dress… It was a white dress covered in blood.
She has a small frame with pale almost grayish skin, and long rusty-like hair that obscure her eyes- No her hair wasn't red, it was blond. She dyed her hair red…
As the elevator down suddenly closes, the little girl waved goodbye at Accelerator.
He tried to stop it, but was too late; as soon as the door closed the elevator began hurling downwards like a meteor crashing into the surface of the Earth.
Accelerator used his powers to rip apart mechanism holding the elevator doors shut.
What he saw was the words "DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE" written in dried blood on the wall of the shaft opposite to him, and an endless black void, like an oesophagus leading down into the belly of the beast.
Take it or leave it is the only choice given.
Makes you think about free will.
Had our choices been made for us because of who we are?
If the only decisions are bad decision, then it's not really bad right? It's more like… Fate.
Accelerator took a deep breath to steady himself.
Then he jumped into the darkness.
It wasn't his first fall of the night, just a prelude to the real deal, still a long way down to the bottom…
"Ah! You must be the new boy in Room 665! Come! Come! Sit here!"
For some reasons the adults decided to make a playroom for the children here. Maybe it's some experiment to test social behaviour or some other crap. It's no different than prisons letting the inmates go outside to mingle and 'play'- At any given time there are three pairs of eyes trained on each of them, and an anti-riot team ready for action.
But what the white haired boy observed was a crowd of children keeping as far away as possible from this one girl in the center of the room.
She was wearing a pure white dress, and had long beautiful flowing blond hair.
She was sitting alone on the table that had an impression house of cards on top of it.
"Come now, sit down, I won't bite you." She smiled.
"Well I won't break your neck then." He replied roughly.
But instead of feeling intimidated or offended, the girl simply smiled graciously.
"Are you the girl that spoke to me last night?"
The girl gasped.
"Oh! You remembered me! I must have sounded really sexy right?"
She voice was sweet and pleasant, different from how it had sounded last night behind the wall.
"Try annoying as hell, that's more accurate."
Once again she completely ignored his insult.
"This is my friend Cheshire! Say hello Cheshire!"
She revealed a sock puppet in one of her hand and the thing started 'talking'.
"Hey here's a question for you; you often seen a cat without a grin, but have you seen a grin without a cat?" The puppet named Cheshire asked.
The white haired boy wasn't impressed.
"...I can see your lips moving." He pointed out.
"What are you talking about?" The girl tilted her head cutely.
"I'm saying when Cheshire's talking I can tell it's you."
"Ah but you see; it is me! Cheshire's not real!" She laughed.
That got onto his nerves.
"...Yes I got that, it's just really obvious it's you."
"But of course it's obvious, this is a puppet! Puppets can't talk or anything- You're not being really perceptive are you? Heehee!"
"...You're supposed to talk without moving your lips."
"Oh don't be ridiculous, how else would people understand what I'm saying then?"
"…Are you brainless or just trying to piss me off?"
"Oh you… Brains are so overrated! Many plants don't have brains; have you thought about that?" The girl brought up a flawed point.
"…No plants have brains."
"Yet they have their own wisdom." She nodded sagely.
"The wisdom of plants."
"…What wisdom is that?" The boy raised an eyebrow.
"It's very deep… Very spiritual… It's so typically… Plantie; it's one of the philosophes that I follow- I'm a committed vegetarian! "
The boy facepalmed.
"It's a life choice!" She declared proudly.
"So let me get this straight; you believe in the wisdom and the philosophy of plants…"
"Yes I do, I absolutely do."
"…So you eat them."
There was a long silence
"…It's all perfectly rational!" She stuck out her tongue.
"…Clearly." He answered dryly.
And they sat there in silence for half a minute before the boy decided to change topic.
"So what's your name?"
"Hmmm… Let's see… I'm eight years old…Today is Saturday… So I guess I'm 'Alice'!"
"Yeah, this girl changes her name all the time!" The puppet Cheshire replied using the girl's mouth.
"…Why?" The boy asked.
"Well people change their clothes all the time right?" the girl with golden hair explained. "If they can change everything else about themselves, why should a name be any different?"
"…That's not really the same thing."
"Well I'm Alice today so there!" She pouted.
Denpa… Thought the white haired boy to himself.
Another minute had passed in silence before the boy realized that she's staring at him- Or rather, she's been drooling.
"W-What?" He asked uncomfortably.
"Nei! Nei! Why is your hair white? And your skin too! It's so smooth and flawless like a princess! Or a rabbit! Or a rabbit princess!
The boy didn't like where this is going and can foresee it having a long term negative consequence.
"It's my Esper ability," He explained. "Colour pigments are needed to protect us from the sun's UV rays. My power automatically does that for me so my body never has to produce them."
"That's so cool! But what about your eyes, Usagi-kun?"
"Usagi-kun?" The boy had an incredulous look on his face, "That's not my name!"
But girl named Alice ignored him.
"How adorable! They look like cherries!"
"HEY! AREN'T YOU LISTENING?"
The white hair boy who looked like a rabbit recalled the conversation last night where one of the other children was named 'Timmy' by this crazy girl.
"That's not my name."
"Can I pluck them?" She asked innocently
The boy scoffed.
"Hmph! You can try, but good luck with-"
Before the white haired boy even finished his sentence, the girl was half way across the table with a makeshift shiv in her hand ready to gouge his eyes out. The weapon looked like a chicken drum bone filed down to a sharp point. She was so fast that he didn't even have time to blink as the weapon came within a hair's breadth from his red eyes.
But at the very last second, his mighty [Redirection] powers kicked in and knocked her back onto the floor, flipping her dress at the same time. The rest of the children screamed in terror.
"…See told you." The boy smirked arrogantly over her.
But the girl named Alice doesn't seem as if she was concerned with that.
Her cheek was red and her eyes were teary.
"…You've saw them didn't you."
"…You've seen my panties didn't you!"
"…You've seen my panties didn't you!"
"…Don't be ridiculous!"
"…You've seen my panties didn't you!"
"HOW CAN I SEE YOUR PANTIES IF YOU WEREN'T WEARING ANY!"
"Waahhh! Don't say that so loudly!" She waved her hands frantically.
At that point the white haired boy had enough and returned back to his room before the adults rushed in to see what the commotion was about.
Alice on the other hand returned back to her seat as if nothing had happened.
"I like him, he's not like the others; he doesn't break easily." She smiled to herself.
"Congratulations 'Alice', you found yourself a new toy, guess you don't need me anymore huh?" The puppet named Cheshire replied.
"Oh Cheshire…No hard feelings?"
"…Rot in hell bitch."
The girl named 'Alice' threw the puppet into the house of cards that she built earlier.
"Hmph, who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!"
22:45, Saturday Night, [White Circle] basement carpark.
An incredible explosion rocked the entire building spewing dust clouds and debris in all direction.
Using his powers, Accelerator survived a 68 storey drop down the elevator shaft right into the basement carpark.
There was no sign of Alice Duchess in sight.
"UNABARA! Has there been any vehicle leaving the basement in the last five minutes?"
(Hang on… Yes a black van was spotted by the spy satellite leaving just seconds ago heading south on the main street- Accelerator, what happened? What's going on?)
"I've lost Alice Duchess!" Accelerator ran across the carpark looking for a vehicle. "John Mirra had gotten her! I'm going after them!"
He ignored whatever Unabara was saying next.
Instead of wasting his power, Accelerator hotwired himself a nice chase vehicle, though that might be a bit of an understatement; it's a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, probably belonging to one of the Board members or something. It features a brand new 6.5 litre V12 engine, producing 691 horsepower (515 kW). It was designed by Filippo Perini of Lamborghini Centro Stile under the direction of Lamborghini chief of design Manfred Fitzgerald.
Performance is set to be 0–100 km/h in just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 350 km/h. Lamborghini says that the Aventador is two generations ahead of anything else on sale, Academy City notwithstanding, and uses a Formula One-style suspension and a lightweight carbon fibre monocoque.
It's almost a shame if he wrecked it.
Once the engine roar with life, Accelerator stomp on the pedal and gunned it.
He had lied to Unabara, or at least he didn't tell him the whole truth. He wanted to believe that John Mirra and his Valkyur mercenaries had taken her…
Accelerator had a bomb ticking in his head. No amount of painkillers would disable it.
The bullet, real or imagined, was lodged in his head, routing his synapses, driving him on.
He had taken on the role of the mythic detective: Bogart as Marlowe, or as Sam Spade going after the Maltese Falcon; To unravel all the mysteries, following a path of clues to that final revelation, even if it would take him down to the cold, cavernous depths of a grave.
The word was out; a deadly virus released into the City's dark circulatory system. Something wicked this way comes.
Accelerator is on the loose.
*End of Episode Two*