Author's Notes: Ah, the 3rd chapter. How surprising. In any case, 'Of Science and Magics' is currently undergoing some erm… author research so there will be delays while I sort out where I want to go with that story. For this one, being a story without a driving plot (Yet, though I have come up with a semblance of it), I will be updated with random characters as focus!
It's actually up to you guys. This story shall be based on reader's hopes, wishes and suggestions. Not all ideas will be used but I'll credit you for them.
So, you requested Shiage. You got him.
Skill-Out. Up till a year ago, that name was associated with a group of thugs and ruffians, the lowest of the low in Academy City. Comprised of Level 0's, the group sought solidarity through numbers and the gathering of people who were without protection to form a tight-knit group. Thugs and lowlifes they may be but they looked out for one another and protected one another.
Now, though, Skill-Out had changed. In fact, Skill-Out had become an organisation directly affiliated with Judgment and Anti-Skill. It was all under wraps, of course. The parents of students would never approve of such a vigilante group being part of the peacekeeping force of Academy City. Yes, Skill-Out still took the heat of many of the crimes committed in Academy City but they were far from the old group they used to be.
And Kurozuma Wataru was a heck of a leader.
That's what Hamazura Shiage could attest to. Sighing, the young man took a seat by his wife, Takitsubo Rikou, in his office. His unruly yellow hair had been combed down, his casual clothes eschewed for the formal Anti-Skill captain uniform forced onto him by a certain Spartan Yomikawa Aiho. All in all, Shiage would have passed for a teacher if he ever decided to step into a school.
Rikou had become a teacher. It was kind of odd for her to be one but she liked children. And yes, he liked children too. The results were not out yet. Still, the former Esper enjoyed her work immensely, often going down to visit child error facilities to encourage them to do better and live their lives to the fullest. She had come full circle from the introverted person that she had used to be and Shiage had been very thankful, since that bastard Aleister had overloaded by capacity and had –
Rubbing his forehead wearily, he let Rikou rest her head on his shoulder as he looked over some documents. ITEM had been disbanded officially. It couldn't be helped. They had all gone their separate ways and had separate goals to accomplish in order to clean up the mess that Aleister Crowley and Bardway had inflicted upon the world. Still, at least Kamijou Touma had been able to convince the Cabal leader not to go crazy with the knowledge she had learned. But he worried, no less. That's why, on paper, they were disbanded. In reality, however…
While he had not wanted to join Anti-Skill, he could frankly care less about getting an ability with the new Power Development Program. This left him jobless, with no way to support Rikou. And Aiho had taken full advantage of it. That woman…
Speaking of women and ITEM…
Kinuhata Saiai, his best friend, had left with Misaka WORST to hunt down the researchers that had fled from Academy City when the news of reformation reached their ears. In order to avoid more tears and the tragedies that arose from their cruel experiments, the two of them had formed a team with various Espers and travelled the globe. From what he had heard, they were under the direct supervision of Kumokawa Seria and not only hunted down researchers, they made sure that all information leaks had been silenced. He didn't exactly approve but when the news of a dissected Gemstone had reached their ears, he couldn't very well protest.
Mugino Shizuri had… well…
Become his superior. How that worked he had no idea either. "Damn the lady and her money," he lamented as Rikou smiled winsomely up at him.
"You seemed to enjoy the three of us last –"
Shiage covered her mouth before she could say anything more blush-inducing. Not that it mattered, anyway. His face was now redder than an apple. "Rikou!" he hissed, his face burning, "We're in my office."
"Oi, stop cuddling! We can do that later if you want," Shizuri snapped as she opened the door and eyed the two of them critically, "We've got an issue, Captain Shiage."
"Ok, I'll be right there, Commander," he nodded at Rikou and the black haired woman let go of his arm with a pout as Shiage flexed his muscles tiredly. "Looks like this is important," he whispered, noting Shizuri's serious expression. Rikou nodded and kissed him gently on the cheeks as he left.
"So, what is it?" he grunted as he entered Shizuri's office.
"We've had a break-in at the Belkan Medical Institute."
"Isn't that the place that specializes in the study of DNA in relation to Esper powers and the use of Esper related abilities for Medical Sciences?" Shiage asked quizzically as he went through whatever information he had memorized from the data banks over in his mind.
"That's right. Accelerator has taken the case and has requested for us to back him up." Shizuri informed him as she grabbed a file and tossed it across the table and into his hands.
"Accelerator?" Shiage blinked, "Is there something I should know about this?"
Shizuri rubbed the temples of her head in the beginnings of a headache, "Stop yakking and read the damn file." Shiage rolled his eyes and opened the file to read. He stiffened abruptly, his back straightening and his eyes sharpening as he poured over the document in detail.
"The fuck is this? I thought the entire project was scrapped and destroyed?" Shiage demanded as he looked up in shock.
"We thought wrong. Apparently, Misaka Mikoto's DNA map was stored in this facility under the guise of medical tools. Not only that but all documented information on Project Radio Noise has been completely erased from the system," Shizuri's nose wrinkled in disgust, "It's probable that the perpetrator knows about the secondary function of Radio Noise."
"The AIM network? You don't think?" Shiage gnashed his teeth. Oh great, after 2 years. Why now of all times when things had already begun to quieten down?
"Aiwass. Or maybe they are trying to create another AIM based entity like Kazakiri. I don't know," Shizuri looked troubled, "But I do know this. There's only one person in the world who would have that kind of knowledge."
Shizuri's lips thinned as she leaned back, her expression grim. "Kihara Gensei."
"Him again, huh? Every bad experiment that we looked into has Kihara's name all over it. I don't understand why we can't just arrest him," Shiage said in frustration.
"Blame it on politics and the fact that the old geezer is very good at hiding his traces," Shizuri spat, "If it were me, I would have vaporized him a long time ago. But unfortunately…" she shrugged, releasing a heavy sigh as she leaned back on her chair. Yes, Mugino Shizuri, 4th ranked Level 5 of Academy City had mellowed out greatly. She was a leading authority in the capture of unethical researchers and the use of Espers as mere guinea pigs for the advancement to SYSTEM. Not only that but her presence on the peacekeeping force of Anti-Skill had greatly bolstered their independent actions, allowing them greater freedom and authority to act on cases.
This meant that Anti-Skill was no longer held back firmly by the upper echelons of Academy City.
"Mugino-oneechan!" a small voice called out and Fremea Seivelun Mugino ran into the room with a wide smile on her face. Standing outside the door was Hattori Hanzou, a friend of his who had considered joining Anti-Skill for Yomikawa Aiho but decided to stay in Skill-Out to help Kurozuma Wataru manage his affairs.
"Hey!" Shizuri's face broke out into a warm smile as she hugged the young girl, who was the spitting image of Frenda Seivelun, their dead member from ITEM. Shizuri had killed her personally and that guilt had stayed with her ever since. To her, Fremea was like a precious younger sister and so, when the whole incident was wrapped, she had adopted Fremea into her family. "How was your first day of school?"
Shiage would have remarked on the irony of it but he was too busy enjoying the fact that Shizuri actually looked genuinely happy. Even in the old days of ITEM, she just seemed to stick out, unable to connect fully with them. Until Fremea, that is. The young girl had opened her heart and forgave the heinous act she had committed with a warm smile and a affectionate pat.
"Well, it was essentially very dull," Fremea said happily as she sat down on Shizuri's lap, "But the lessons were all things I've learnt already, nya~"
Smiling to himself, Shiage decided to excuse himself for now, grabbing the document and away from his chair as he gestured for Hanzou to follow him.
"Man," Hanzou said as he watched the two girls interact like real sisters, "I have to say that Meltdowner sure has changed."
"We all have," Shiage reflected grimly, before opening the file again. "Hey, Hattori, you know all those illegal powersuits built underground?" he asked as he saw the photo of the Power Suit that had broke into the medical facility.
"Help me check if there was any stolen or marketed off this week. Anti-Skill may not be able to dig out information on smuggled goods easily but I think you guys can, right?"
Hanzou rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "Actually, I don't need to dig up any. Wataru said about the same thing. Some parts for a prototype power suit was stolen just recently while we were doing cleanup operations on those smugglers."
Shiage's eyes narrowed, "What kind of parts are we talking about here?"
"Some way advanced stuff man," Hanzou muttered, "I hear it was a bunch of biocybernetic parts and some other parts relating to the function of AIM or something like that. I'm not too good with all these science stuff man. I do know some heavy weaponry were stolen too."
"Is that so," Shiage bit his lip thoughtfully. "You know what?" he glanced at his watch, "Tell Wataru I'll meet up with him later. I'll need to take a look at what went missing. This is just between him and me, got it? No higher authority involved."
"Whatever you say man, is Aiho around?" Hanzou asked hopefully.
"You still haven't gotten over your crush yet? You might as well join Anti-Skill if you're so desperate," Shiage pointed out dryly.
"And restrict my freedom? No way man!" Hanzou snorted.
"Whatever, just –" Shiage blinked as he looked up, seeing no one beside him. He clucked his tongue in disgust. "Fucking ninja."
*** XXX ***
Meanwhile, deep in America, Kinuahta Saiai was observing the movements of the facility built secretly within the Grand Canyon. Officially a National Park, a facility there should have been illegal. Should have been but there it was. A Power Development facility to experiment on the creation of Espers. While Academy City had been very successful in that regard, the other countries have been… less than successful.
Academy City had changed the power balance of the world simply by existing. Those former superpowers didn't exactly take too kindly that.
Her comnlink buzzed and Saiai patched her contact in.
"This is Saiai," she said, her binoculars doing one last final sweep. 30 armed guards, possibly heavy weapons once she got past the gates. Her partner would be handling the big guns though. All she needed was the signal.
"I've got confirmation on the transaction. Seria was right on the money," Misaka WORST snickered over the line, "We'll bring in this Amercian agent called Alan McKnight since he's the one that has been handling the correspondences. Everyone else is fairgame."
"I thought your Tou-san super forbade you to kill people?" Saiai remarked dryly.
"Oh, he did. Never said anything about dismembering them and leaving them to die, right?" Worst replied cheerfully as she cut the line. Saiai rolled her eyes.
"Superzealous woman," she said aloud as she mentally counted to three.
As if on cue, the facility erupted in a massive explosion.
*** XXX ***
Mitchell was a man who liked his job. Sure, he stood guard in the freaking Grand Canyon but the job paid well and it was essentially low-risk for the amount cash rolling in. He didn't care that there were potentially inhumane experiments going on since they brought in live specimens all the time and shipped out corpses nearly all the time. Screw that, he was a worker, not a damn saint. Who cares what happens? It wasn't like anyone could just sneak in and –
"What the fuck?" was his response as the left side of the facility suddenly erupted in a massive explosion, metallic parts flying everywhere as he recognized the area that was blown up. It was their armoured vehicles. Blinking, he drew his rifle and cocked it, taking wary steps forward as he heard a tapping sound. Around him, whoever hadn't been caught in the explosion were also inching closer to the explosion site.
"!" Mitchell spun, only to see a flash of purple energy zip past his eyes and he knew nothing else as he was knocked unconscious with a hard blow to the head.
"Ok, not so handsome," Worst said with a grin as she flexed her wrist, her gaze mildly amused as the panicked cries of the guards reached her ears. "Well, some things never change," she drawled as they levelled their weapons at her and fired. Purple energy flared, her Powered Suit crackling to life in a split second as she vanished, reappearing behind the guards in a flash of light. A sickening crack was heard as Worst slammed their heads together with bone-shattering force, blood erupting all over her palms as she made an annoyed sound deep within her throat.
"Ah, forgot to hold back again," she muttered as her eye-scanner flashed and she jumped, leaping high over the guard that had snuck up behind her and landing a powerful downward kick to his skull, knocking him out instantly. Flicking her hands, she ignored the streak of blood that she had spread all over the floor as the sound of machines being activated alerted her to new threats. The Powered Suit burst out of the burning hanger, its main gun swivelling down to face her.
"Hah. HiMAT (High Mobility Anti-Tank) Suit, huh?" she snorted as she raised her hand in response. It fired. A split second later, a blast of purple energy tore through the metallic armour of the suit, completely vaporizing the amour as the metal round exited the core of energy generator, causing a meltdown. And then, it exploded. "Idiot. You didn't even bother to calibrate the units you bought from Academy City," she remarked as she loaded another round into her palm from the suit and fired another round at yet another exiting Powered Suit, blowing it up again. "And you guys call yourself researchers, huh? Tsk, Misaka is disappointed. I guess this means Kihara Gensei isn't here." She winced a little. Firing two straight railgun shots still put a strain on the suit in order achieve an output higher than her Onee-sama's.
Her skin-tight powered suit, nicknamed Storm Panther by the Misaka clone, was a state-of-the-art prototype designed by brightest minds in Academy City and further fine-tuned by a woman named Kiyama Harumi to respond to minute changes in the AIM emitted by its user, allowing it to increase the overall output of the ability exhibited by the Esper commanding the suit. Not to mention the fact that it had incredible defence and the combat potential was insane. It actually allowed her to gain a massive increase in speed and strength by simply releasing a large amount of energy. The only downside was the strain it put on her body but she could care less about that.
Turning, Worst grinned widely as the twin gates flung backwards as Kinuhata Saiai sauntered in lazily, a mass of scattered bodies behind the unharmed Esper as she kicked away an empty canister, which had probably contained nitrogen. Still, the chocolate haired girl had been supplied with a Power Suit of her own by Seria, which was basically a modified Hard_Tapping plastic which reinforced Saiai's body, giving her a massive speed and strength boost. Additionally, like Worst's, it afforded her some defence in case her automatic self-defence armour failed to trigger and stored nitrogen for her to use.
"You're late," Worst remarked as Saiai shrugged.
"They were super stubborn. So I had no choice but to do a little cleanup." Saiai remarked nonchalantly, "So, our target is in the facility?"
"Oh yeah. With all the commotion, they'll probably be on the run," Worst licked her lips in excitement, "Shall we go? I do so love a good chase."
*** XXX ***
Alan McKnight cursed under his breath as pandemonium broke out. "They are coming," he muttered, turning to face the wizened old man that had convinced him to partake in this project, "You said that this location was completely secure! And that we would see results within days!" he roared, slamming his hand on the table angrily, "But not only has it been two weeks, you didn't even bother to supervise any of the experiments at all! Just what is your game, Kihara Gensei!"
Gensei's face turned to face his and Alan recoiled at the dangerous expression on the old man's face, "Now, now," he said in an old, grandfatherly voice that belied the darkness reflected in his eyes, "I said I'd bring results. I didn't say to whom."
"Don't screw with me, old man!" Alan barked, drawing his gun, "I can kill you right here and now!"
"Oh, is that right now?" Gensei chuckled, seemingly unbothered by the gun trembling in his face, the fear on Alan's body like a stench that refused to leave the air. "Ok, fine. Shoot me then. Go on."
A gunshot echoed throughout the now empty room. Empty, except for the two men. Alan fell over, an expression of pure shock and horror etched forever onto his face as Gensei hummed lightly, slowly walking towards the door. "I'll be leaving this to you, Therestina," he said as he left the room.
"Don't worry, grandfather," Therestina Kihara Lifeline replied as he disappeared into the darkness, her lips curling into a smile as she looked up at the rumbling ceiling, "I'll get the data we need. And you're going to help us, right? Fridge-kun?"
Behind her, shrouded in perpetual darkness, a single cybernetic eye flickered into existence, the red glow seemingly teeming with suppressed hatred.
A/N: Hm, that's it for the third chapter. I'll be updating this to keep my brain going and dump my random little plot bunnies here on occasion. Any issues or problems, along with suggestions for the direction should kindly be stated in the review.
Of random stuff for the win?
Till next time folks,