But then, that was exactly why her mother had taken her away. That was why she had endured such hardships, training and preparation - that she might be able to fight on equal terms with her sister. In fact, shortly after leaving Nagano, Teru's mother had taken her to China, ostensibly on a vacation, to have an ethically questionable operation performed on her by a back alley surgeon. A capsule of iron shavings was implanted in Teru's heart, and metal plates were attached to the bones in her right hand and forearm. When her heartrate was sufficiently elevated, the iron would be released into her bloodstream, creating a magnetic field as they circulated, just as the Earth's spinning iron core did. Teru could then use the metal plates to control the field, manipulating the magnetic dice and tiles found in automatic mahjong tables.
Mastering it had almost killed her, but this was Teru Miyanaga's final and most powerful weapon. Every use brought her closer to death, as the iron would poison her body and shred her veins, causing excruciating pain. But...perhaps now was the time to unleash her full power. Perhaps now was the time to pay the ultimate price for victory. Onjouji Toki had been willing to throw away her life for that purpose, and now Teru finally understood why.
In order to utilise her power to maximum effect, Teru first needed to manipulate the tiles as they were sorted inside the table, rigging it in her favour. She then needed to rig the dice roll so that the breaking of the walls would bring her the tiles she had prepared. For that purpose, Teru needed to be dealer. She needed to end Saki's streak and begin her own, and when she was dealer she could let loose.
Saki, however, would not allow her prey any rest. The East 2nd round, her 2nd renchan, began in earnest. Teru needed a new plan of attack until the conditions were prime for the main offensive, but what? As she revealed her starting hand, an idea came to her. Saki's tendency to kan was a given. Teru had aimed to exploit that with chankan earlier, but as Saki had not declared an open kan, her efforts were to no avail. There was, however, one way to rob a closed kan...kokushi musou.
Once, in their youth, Teru had successfully accomplished this feat against Saki, but she never managed to repeat that victory. Saki's learning capacity was, like kokushi musou itself, truly unrivalled. But Teru could see, even now, that her sister had changed, apparently regressed, into some kind of autistic mahjong prodigy. She was even more childish than she was as a child, more naive, and somehow, more pure. If this had strengthened her demonic control of the game, perhaps it had weakened her cognitive abilities. If that were the case, then maybe Teru stood a chance of succeeding once more with kokushi musou.
Some things were simply more important than oneself.
Her hand had begun with nine different terminals and honours, giving her the right to call an abortive draw if she so desired. Instead, Teru decided to embrace the flow, making the most of this opportunity to reach kokushi. Unfortunately, her hand progressed slowly, as was typical of kokushi. Due to its unique conditions, one could neither call on their opponents' discards or make sets in multiple manners. There was only one way it could progress, and this path led in the opposite direction to regular mahjong play. Nonetheless, Teru pushed forward.
Saki's hand, however, clearly moved much faster. Only a few honours and terminals were discarded at the beginning, before she started cutting middle tiles. Furthermore, her discards seemed to suggest she was, for once, building sequences rather than triples. If so, Teru would not be able to rob her kan. This was only a minor setback, though - as long as she could draw the tiles she needed, winning a direct hit from Saki would merely be icing on the cake.
No, the real problem was that the dora was the 9-pin. Despite the gradual progress of Teru's hand, she could not draw a 9-pin. Judging from previous match records, it was highly likely that at least three of them were in Kuro's hand, a supposition that was supported by the Achiga girl's discard pile, which held no tiles in that area. In order for Teru to win, she had to somehow draw the last 9-pin before Kuro did, or failing that, reach tenpai on a 9-pin wait in order to rob a kan from Kuro. Both were tall orders, and unlike Saki, there was no guarantee that Kuro would declare a kan at all.
Somehow, despite the quick progress of Saki's hand, Teru managed to reach tenpai, waiting on the 9-pin dora. Would it come out? Would Kuro draw all four and declare kan? Teru examined the current discards carefully. 9-pin, of course, was completely live. Aside from the dora indicator, 8-pin was similarly undiscarded, but if the 7-pin tiles could be accounted for, the possibility of making sets of 789 would still be extinguished, meaning Kuro would be able to declare a kan of 9-pin without breaking apart her hand.
Sure enough, three 7-pin had been discarded. Disregarding the possibility that it was still in the wall, there was a one-in-three chance that it was currently being used in someone's hand. Assuming that worst case, who would be most likely to be holding it? The fourth girl whose name she didn't know had discarded, in succession, two of the three on the table, so she was out of the running. Teru had discarded the other, but Saki's pond held no tiles in that area. Thus, as accurately as could be determined, she was the most likely to hold the last 7-pin. However, even knowing this, there was nothing Teru could do about it. All she could do was leave the rest to luck, relying on the chance that Saki had the last 7-pin and that Kuro would draw the last 9-pin. If both of those conditions were met, Kuro would have no choice but to declare a kan, since she was unable to discard dora for whatever reason Teru didn't quite understand.
Time progressed painstakingly slowly as Teru waited for events to fall into place, or out of it. Finally, on the 11th turn, her predictions came to pass. "Kan!" called Kuro nervously, revealing the four 9-pin she held. She began to reach for the dead wall to open the new dora indicator, but was interrupted before she could.
"Ron. Kokushi musou."
Teru sat completely shellshocked at this turn of events. Once again, things had far, far surpassed her expectations, for she had not been the one to call ron just now. Instead, it was the fourth girl, the one whose name or school she had never cared to learn. The girl who had flown under the radar and never been considered a contender. Both Teru and Saki stared at her in amazement, evidently having forgotten that the match was not just between the two of them.
This girl, with her silver-white hair and pronounced nose, smirked in satisfaction. "Never saw that coming, did you? That's a shame. I expected better play from the National Inter High finalists. Well, perhaps I should introduce myself properly, since you haven't seemed to be paying attention.
"From North Kanagawa Prefecture, East Hakuraku High School. Akagi Shiina."