I do not own Mahou Sensei Negima, Batman, or any related characters, nor do I own anything else that clearly isn't mine.

Let's rock 'n roll.

"You have all done exceptionally well during your stay here, and on this day you will be rewarded for seven years of hard work. When you leave, you will be tasked with a new training mission to fulfill before you are granted full mage status. You will likely find your assignments difficult, but believe me when I say that you are uniquely suited for the task before you. I will now award your diplomas."

Before he knew it, a boy named Negi Springfield was being called. He rose with great dignity, collected his diploma, tripped over his robe, got back up as if nothing happened, and went back to his seat.

At the ceremony's conclusion, Negi briskly strode through the hallways, eager to see what his assignment might be. Next to him, and equally eager, was his childhood friend Anya. "Open it up already, Negi! This London fortuneteller is anxious to see where you'll be!"

Please let my assignment be 'paleontologist in Utah'…

However, when the words of destiny revealed themselves, his task was …


Negi didn't show his disappointment, but instead thought:

In hindsight, I probably should've expected something like this. While digging up dinosaurs would be the best job ever, I must admit that teaching others how to communicate more effectively would be a greater benefit to society and the world…

Anya, however, was terrified. "Negi, you cannot go through with this! Absolutely not! I forbid it!"

Negi raised an eyebrow, wondering, And since have I let you forbid me from doing anything?

What he said, however, was "And why can't I?"

Irate on a level he'd never seen before, Anya almost lost control over her magic as her clothes began smoking. "ARE YOU REALLY THAT DENSE?! Mahora City, Japan, is known throughout the world as the worst city since… well… EVER! You could get mugged, or killed, or worse – corrupted by the legions of giant-breasted sociopaths!"

Negi suppressed a twitch, wondering how on Earth Anya had gotten her priorities that far out of order.

"It's also," he countered, "ironically known throughout the world as having one of the safest school districts since, well, ever. Which is where I am going to be. At the school. With middle schoolers. You really should calm down, Anya."

Anya seethed, before yelling, "If Nekane were here, she would've –"

Negi's glare promptly shut her up. "You should know better than to stoop that low, Anya. My sister would've worried, and then chosen to believe in me until the very end. And mother would've been exactly the same way."

After a few minutes of thinking it over, Negi continued, "The principal said that whatever tasks we were given, we would be uniquely suited to them. This is something that needs to be done, and I'm apparently the one best equipped to do it. So I will trust in our principal's words, and I'm going to put my trust in the mother and older sister who would've believed in me."

Then, allowing himself to lighten up a little, he added, "If I do end up getting into a scrap, I can more than take care of myself."

That night, Negi mused about his upcoming trip and long-term stay in Japan. He wasn't concerned with the language barrier, as he'd made sure to become fluent in numerous languages beyond those required for spellcasting, and had found translation spells for numerous others.

That Japanese was one he could speak naturally… chalk that one up to coincidence.

"Despite her hysteria, Anya did have a point in that Japan's got the biggest crime problem in the world right now, and Mahora City is the worst of the worst. Then again, I imagine that being under constant threat of attack by giant robot creatures could be stressful. The fact that the incidents aren't isolated to G-Island City anymore probably isn't helping. Historically speaking, people show their worst when they think the world is ending. On the other hand, Green Lantern's presence in G-Island City and his continuing battle against the robots is helping the situation."

He then began to ponder about how he was apparently 'uniquely suited' to the task of being a teacher in Mahora. Perhaps there was more to his training than just that. Normally, if he were going to be a teacher, the academy's administration would've handled finding a school. Why was the assignment so specific about Mahora?

The biggest clue he had to go on was the crime problem.

"Well, it's not as if I've had many chances to put my secretly-learned skills to use around here. I've spent so much time and effort learning how to protect people beyond just magic, and this might be my chance to put what I've taught myself into practice."

Shaking his head with a smile, he began packing his bags with spare clothes and teaching materials. Then he grabbed his storage ring – bought from Mahonet with Chamo's assistance – and began putting his other supplies in there.

"I should really thank you for the motif idea, Anya – if they scare the crap out of you, imagine the effect on the cowardly and superstitious common criminal. Shame that all I have is a suit, ten days' worth of age-changing pills, some high-strength cable, a cowl, a dozen or so combat-related spells, and a strong yet unfounded belief that people are more often good than not."

Making certain that everything was set in order for his departure the following morning, Negi plopped down on his bed.

"Soon, in Mahora City, will be my first outing as an ally of justice. Mom… Sis… Dad… in your memory, I shall protect the innocent as Batman."

Negi forced himself to remember the night his mother and sister were forever lost, gunned down by a faceless mugger in a London back alley just after a viewing of Frankenstein.

He forced himself to remember that fateful day six years before, when his hometown burned around him and his father died protecting him.

And he remembered his sworn oath to them – that he would never again be useless as innocent people were hurt or killed around him.

Negi was glad he'd taken an earlier flight than strictly necessary – it was important to leave a good impression, and since he'd arrived in Mahora the day before he was expected, he should have a little extra time to arrange things. Like where he would be staying, for instance.

It was early evening, and the streets were all but deserted.

All in all, it was an excellent time to drop in on the Principal and get his trappings set up.

Just one problem, though; the place was huge – the academy district by itself could count as a city, nevermind the sprawling metropolis surrounding it!

But first, a quick dinner. Those complimentary peanuts weren't enough to sustain someone for a twelve-hour trip, and the actual meals on that flight had been far too expensive for him to afford if he was going to keep himself afloat until his first paycheck.

For the moment, however, It seemed that fortune was on Negi's side. No sooner had he turned the corner than he found a small restaurant with three walls, the interior being left open to the outside. The sign on the roof said 'Chao Bao Zi'.

Deciding to give the place a try, Negi walked up and took a seat.

Might as well get food and directions at the same stop…

Seconds after he'd sat down, an attractive young lady in a Chinese dress came in from the back of the stall. Upon seeing Negi, she smiled and introduced herself.

"I'm Chao Lingshen, and I'll be serving you this fine evening."

Negi smiled in return. "I'll just have something that's simple and cheap, if that's all right."

"Sure thing. One Super Stamina Soup coming right up."

As Chao began the brew, she struck up a conversation. "Normally, we just get the usual students and staff, so it's a nice surprise when a new face like you comes in. So what's your story, kiddo?"

"Well, I've actually been hired as an English teacher by Mahora's middle school. Just came in from Whales, haven't had anything but peanuts in twelve hours."

"Well isn't that something? Don't worry, this will fill you right up."

As Negi began consuming the soup, Chao added, "Since you're new around here, I'll go ahead and tell you some essential information. First off, as long as you're in the Academy district you're safe as can be, but if you head out into the rest of Mahora City – especially at night... actually, just don't go out into the rest of the city if you can help it. There's nothing but trouble out there. Now that the obligatory warning is out of the way, any idea what class you're going to be teaching?"

Negi shook his head. "Not specifically, although I should be working with middle school students."

Chao smiled brightly. "I see. In that case, maybe you'll end up teaching my class. There's a rumor going around that our homeroom teacher, Professor Takahata, is going to be going on some kind of vacation for at least the rest of the semester. None of my classmates seem to have heard, though."

"And you know about it because...?" The question wasn't at all aggressive, but sincere curiosity.

The girl behind the counter laughed. "I know many things, young Springfield, and for many reasons. And before you ask, nametag. And now you can work out the details yourself. The usual, death-specs?"

"Thank you, Chao. I thought you weren't due to arrive until tomorrow, Negi?"

While the boy and the restauarant owner had been talking, Professor Takahata had come in, and took a seat next to Negi.

"True, but I decided to show up a day early. Get my bearings, hopefully become acquainted with at least a few students, figure out where I'm going to stay –"

Chao interrupted, "The dorms are all full, and there's a two-hour commute from the closest place. Except for where I live, that is."

Negi was very slightly annoyed at the interruption, but tried not to show it. "I'll make a note of that and consider investigating later. So then, Takamichi, is what miss Lingshen here said accurate – that you're going on vacation?"

Glancing at Chao from the corner of his eye, Takamichi nodded. "And you're supposed to be my substitute, at least until summer vacation. Anything beyond that can be worked out then."

"I see. So then, anything in particular I need to know about my students?"

"Yes. Yes there is."

After five seconds, Negi gave Takahata a level stare and asked, "Care to explain?"

"Yours is going to be Class 2-A. Here's a class roll, with my notes. Even though there are a few hellcats and troublemakers, during class they're a good enough bunch overall."

Negi took a look at the two-page spread, taking time to commit each face and name to memory, before reading the notes aloud. Meanwhile, Chao merely stood off to the side, taking care of the dishes.

"Sayo Aisaka. Don't move her seat. Mention of the year 1940." Glancing at Takahata, he dryly suggested, "Ghost?"

Takahata smiled, neither confirming nor denying the hypothesis. "If you like."

"I see. Yuuna Akashi – basketball club, energetic. Kazumi Asakura – works on the school newspaper. Very persistent when motivated."

Better make sure she doesn't get too interested in my nightly crimefighting, then.

"Yue Ayase – Philosophy and Children's Literature Research Societies. Intelligent, but has chronically low grades due to refusal to study. I'll have to see what I can do about that. Ako Izumi – health officer, Soccer Club. Plays bass for Dekopin Rocket. Shy, but friendly. Akira Okouchi - Swimming Club. Quiet, but kind, and a diligent student. Misa Kakizaki – Cheerleader. Guitarist and vocalist for Dekopin Rocket. Has a tendency towards throwing parties. Asuna Kagurazaka – Art Club. Very poor grades, but is often looking out for others. Frequently gets into fights with the Class Representative."

Turning to his senior teacher, Negi asked, "You mentioned that Ayase's grades are due to a refusal to study. What's with Kagurazaka's?"

Takahata shrugged. "She doesn't seem to grasp the material very well, though it's not for lack of effort. She honestly works much harder than Yue does. I've been meaning to try a few different teaching methods, but whenever I think I've got time to plan it out, something happens with one of the other students and I end up with my hands full."

Negi frowned, thinking it over. "Understood. I'll see what I can do about that. Perhaps a study group with other students who'd help her out... or after-school tutoring... I'll put some more thought into her later on.

"Misora Kasuga – Track Club. Bit of a prankster, but not malicious. I suppose I'll have to keep an eye on her. Chachamaru Karakuri - Go Club, Tea Ceremony Club. If there are any problems, contact the engineering department. ... I'm not the only one who can tell she's a robot, right?"

"Be that as it may, you should treat her just as you would the other students."

"I knew that to begin with, I just wanted to clear it up. I may be ten, but I've been trained for this. Okay, maybe not this bunch specifically, but I know my responsibilities as a teacher. Just checking that I'm not the only one who knows a robot when he sees one. Madoka Kugimiya – Cheerleader and guitarist for Dekopin Rocket. Very responsible.

"Fei Ku/Ku Fei – Chinese Martial Arts Research Society. Has poor grades due to having transferred in a few years ago. She's still in the process of learning Japanese... I can see how that would lead into having trouble with English when it's being taught from Japanese.

"Konoka Konoe – Secretary, the Dean's granddaughter, Fortune Telling Research Society and Library Exploration Club. Wait, what? Why would you need a club to explore the library?"

"When the library is an entire island with several hundred floors, potentially lethal traps, and other nasty things, an exploration club is justified."

"If you say so... Haruna Saotome – Manga Research Society, Library Exploration Club. Saotome, the name sounds familiar... Any relation to Professor Genma Saotome, the scientist who discovered Getter Rays and developed a super robot during the seventies?"

Takamichi was visibly surprised. "I didn't expect you to catch that, Negi."

"Well, I'm a dinosaur buff – obviously not a fan of the Reptiloid Empire that tried to wipe out the entire human race at that time, but you really shouldn't be surprised I looked it up. And you didn't answer my question."

"She's the Professor's granddaughter, actually. And her father was one of the Getter Pilots, Ryoma Nagare. Don't know why she uses her mother's name, since by all accounts the family's pretty tightly-knit."

Negi started to speak, then froze for a few seconds as he processed what he'd just heard. Then, slowly – as if afraid to know the answer – he asked, "Takamichi... which side of her family does Haruna take after the most?"

Specs shining ominously, Takahata replied a little too cheerily he said "Haruna tends to take after her father in terms of attitude."

Negi slowly and deliberately removed his glasses and set them aside, before then slamming his head into the counter. "Crap. Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap."

"That said, she's not even one percent as crazy as he is."

Negi stopped hitting the counter. "Oh, well that's not so bad, then. Moving on to the other half of the class... Setsuna Sakurazaki – Kendo Club. Swordswoman of the Shinmeiryuu school, from Kyoto. Konoka's adopted sister.

"Makie Sasaki – Gymnastics Club. Tends to have low grades, due to carefree attitude. A bit of an adrenaline junkie. Frequently impulsive and/or naïve.

"Sakurako Shiina – Lacrosse Club, cheerleader, drummer for Dekopin Rocket. Loud and exuberant, but well-meaning.

"Mana Tatsumiya – Biathlon Club, Shrine Priestess, works as an instructor at the off-campus shooting range.

"Chao Lingshen – Cooking, Robot Construction, Biology, Quantum Physics, Eastern Medicine, Chinese Martial Arts, Linguistics, Aerospace, Transhumanism, Geology, Chemistry, Engineering, Occult, and Urban Planning Research Societies. Star student, owner of Chao Bao Zi restaurant."

Negi stopped and observed Chao for a few seconds, before shaking his head in disbelief.

Just roll with it Negi, and don't ask questions that don't need answers.

"Kaede Nagase – Strolling Club. Has poor grades, reason currently undetermined. Like Makie, however, is able to catch up and do well if given extra time.

"Chizuru Naba – Astronomy Club, heiress to the Nabacorp conglomerate.

"Fuuka and Fumika Narutaki – twins, both participate in the Strolling Club. Fuuka is the older sister, Fumika the younger. Mischeivous, frequently work with Misora on pranks.

"Satomi Hakase – Robot Construction and Advanced Jet Research Societies."

Chao spoke up at that point, "She's my roommate."

Negi made a mental note of that in case it ever became relevant. "Chisame Hasegawa – computer wizard, very antisocial, tends to be aggressive and sarcastic, does not normally get on well with others. If she gets to be overly problematic, contact her older sister in the town of Hinata. ... Has she often been a problem, Takamichi?"

"Only when I try to get her to actively participate in class. Otherwise, her grades are fine."

"Evangeline Athanasia Katherine McDowell – Go and Tea Ceremony Clubs. Seems to be strongly respected by Chachamaru, Mana, Chizuru, and Natsumi for unknown reasons. ... Normally, I'd ask why the bloody Visitation of Woe is among our students, but at this point I don't really care."

"Nodoka Miyazaki – Library Monitor, Academy Library Officer, and Library Adventure Club. Introverted, terrified and distrustful of men for unknown reasons.

"Natsumi Murakami – Drama Club. An excellent actress. Has a bit of an ego, although she gets along quite well with her classmates. Smug but amiable, hm?

"Ayaka Yukihiro-Taiga – Class Representative, Equestrian and Tea Ceremony Clubs. Heiress to the Yukihiro group. Tends to be dramatic at times. Frequently ends up fighting with Asuna.

"Satsuki Yotsuba – Meal Officer, Cooking Research Society.

"Zazie Rainyday – Gymnastics and Psychology Clubs. Likes being mysterious."

Closing the small notepad, Negi leaned back and thought for a few minutes, before speaking once more. "Well, I guess I'm as prepared as I'm going to get at this point. So, how much for the soup?"

"It's on the house today. A gift for the new prof."

When Takahata left, he said he'd take care of talking to the Dean on Negi's behalf. Negi turned to Chao asked, "So where do you live, then?"

Chao grinned and pressed a button under the counter, causing the back wall to open up and reveal an elevator. "Beneath the campus, that's where. C'mon, I'll show you around."

As teacher and student entered the elevator, Negi was sorely tempted to ask how the devil she'd managed to install this... and decided to just roll with it. With each passing minute, he was becoming less and less inclined to bother asking questions.

Hardly a minute later, the door opened again, and Negi found himself facing a massive, well-lit cavern, in which he observed a massive supercomputer, several expensive-looking machines of yet-undiscovered purpose, and a private gymnasium.

And that's just what he could see from the elevator – on the opposite wall were signs that indicated the presence of a swimming pool, an arcade, a library, a garage or hangar, a hadron collider, a matter/antimatter reactor, a theatre, a manufacturing plant, and seventeen bedrooms.

After repairing his broken mind, Negi demanded, "Nevermind the question of how it all got here, why would you create something of this scale under the school?!"

Chao shrugged. "Why wouldn't I? Anyway, make yourself at home. Oh, but stay away from the Singularity Room, we're performing quantum experiments in there and seen some really weird spacey-wacey crap as a result. So unless you want yourself morphed into a two-dimensional lifeform, start existing in five timestreams at once, or suddenly be turned inside-out, don't go in without my supervision. And I'm not kidding, either. Anyhow, here's a map to the rest of the place. Knock yourself out. Oh, and as for where to sleep, just pick a bedroom and I'll put up a sign tomorrow."

And with that, Chao walked off to the kitchen and fixed herself a sandwich.

Eventually, Negi sighed and rested his face in his palm.

If I have even an ounce of sanity after this, I'll arrange to have someone buy me a lottery ticket.

Shaking his head, the boy professor resigned himself to the insanity he'd found himself dealing with.

Physically and mentally exhausted, Negi decided to go ahead and sleep. He'd work on getting the layout of the city and doing other necessary research over the next few days.

His crimefighting debut as Batman would have to wait, it seemed.

The next morning, Negi awoke to a fantastic smell. Upon opening his bedroom door and perusing the map, he made his way to the kitchen, wherein he found Chao in short shorts and a tank top – apparently, her sleeping clothes which she hadn't yet changed out of. Hanging from a nearby chair was a fire engine red apron with the phrase 'Glory to the Chef' on it in gold embroidery.

Upon taking note of the ten year-old professor, Chao smiled and greeted him. "Morning, teach. Just finished making eggs and pancakes. There's milk and orange juice in the fridge. Feel free to help yourself."

About that time, another girl in a red oversized nightshirt entered and grabbed a plate, helping herself. Negi recalled the class roster, and identified her as Satomi Hakase.

Taking a glance at the boy, Satomi self-consciously tugged the bottom of her shirt down a little bit, nodded, snarfed down her breakfast, and then ran out to change into her school uniform.

Observing that he had about an hour before school would open for the day, Negi jolted completely awake and started hurrying as well. Although he didn't have time to properly savor his meal, Negi did observe that the taste was fantastic. Throwing Chao a quick compliment about her cooking prowess, he also went and took care of his morning routine before donning his suit.

Half an hour later, Negi found his way to the Academy with Chao and Satomi's help.

Glad to see that the classroom was empty aside from the three, Negi heaved a little sigh of relief.

Looks like I have enough time to set things up and figure out today's scenario. Okay, let's see... I have Takamichis' comments and advice, but I don't know any of the students myself. So I think I'll spend today and tomorrow getting to know my students and then base my lesson plans around that.

The chair at his desk wasn't too much of a problem, as it was easily adjusted for his height. The blackboard, however...

Before Negi could ask for a footladder, the door opened and a tall, blonde student entered. Negi consulted his memory again. Ayaka Yukihiro, the Class Representative.

Immediately adopting a kind expression that somehow reminded him of his late sister, Ayaka respectfully asked, "Are you the new teacher Professor Takahata told me about?"

Approving of her demeanor, Negi nodded. "I'm Professor Negi Springfield, and I'll be taking over as homeroom and English teacher for the remainder of the term. This is my first assignment, so I hope you can help as I get settled in."

Eager to help her new professor, Ayaka nodded. "Of course, Professor Springfield! If there is anything at all I can help you with, you need only ask and I'll do everything within my power."

In his peripheral vision, Negi observed Chao and Hakase taking their seats.

"Professor Takahata already gave me his opinion of most of the students, but I plan on spending the first few days to observe and draw my own conclusions. In the meantime, I'll be counting on your help. I don't suppose you know where I could find a footladder?"

Ayaka happily produced an ornate stool from out of nowhere and beamed at him. "Will this be sufficient, Professor?"

Negi resisted the urge to sweatdrop. "It's... more opulent than I was expecting, but yes, this will be fine. Thank you, Ayaka. Please go to your seat. I'll handle proper introductions once everyone's here."

"Of course, Professor." Ayaka then bowed, and went to her seat in the front row.

Negi spent the next while perusing the available teaching materials and looking through his desk before observing the room. The walls were lacking any sort of decoration. Negi considered the idea of putting up some motivational posters while he was there, but asking about policy on that would come first. As he mused and went about making some vague plans, the rest of the students began steadily trickling in.

An orange-haired girl with glasses took one look at Negi and looked as if ready to make a run for it, but then saw that she'd been noticed and swore under her breath.

Another girl with dark hair slowly came in, with her hair obscuring the top half of her face. She seemed incredibly nervous and kept shooting glances around her, as though expecting to be attacked at any moment.

Soon enough, the entire class was seated before him, and the bell rang to signal the beginning of class.

Most, if not all of the students had noticed that Negi was there instead of Takahata, and most of them seemed to be confused about it.

Okay then, here goes nothing...

"Good morning, class. Since Professor Takahata is on vacation for the rest of the school year, I will be teaching you in his place. I am Professor Negi Springfield. Today will be a slow day, so that we can get used to each other as teacher and pupils. Before we begin, however, there are a few rules that I expect all of you to follow.

"First and foremost, you will treat myself and your classmates with respect. If you can manage to act like mature and responsible adults, then I will treat you as one. On the other hand, if you behave like a selfish brat, then I will deal with you as such. And before any of you ask, yes, I am ten. And I am aware of the irony."

He then continued laying out his personal rules.

"Secondly, the bell does not decide when class is over. I do. I reserve the ability to keep you all here after the bell. If you're late to your other classes because you were rowdy, then you should learn from it.

"Finally, we come to Professor Springfield's Most Important Rule. This rule is for everyone's benefit, and I dearly ask that everyone follow it strictly. It overrides all other school rules for the duration of this class period. However, if you try to abuse it, I will know and you will be punished."

Asakura raised her hand and asked, "And what is the Most Important Rule, Professor Springfield?"

With a grin, Negi explained, "If any of you are really sick and are about to hurl, then you automatically have my permission to bolt from the room and get to the trash can in the hallway." He then joked, "I've never had a student throw up in my classroom up to this point, and I'd rather not ruin such a record now."

The class collectively lightened up a bit, a few of the students getting a slight chuckle out of that.

"Now then, my job is to prepare you all to deal with life as adults. To that end, I'm giving you all an extra assignment."

He paused, giving the students a chance to groan as they feared that he would give them tough homework on the first day.

With a soft smile, he explained, "Now calm down and hear me out. This assignment is only five points per week, and it's so easy that it's almost like I'm giving you a few extra grade points."

Upon learning that, several of the girls chose to hear their teacher out.

"It's actually just a participation grade, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you behave and participate in class, then at the end of the week I'll add five points to improve your grade. Over the course of three months, that can be a pretty big help to your grades... or it can be a severe blow if you refuse to join in the class, since this is the only assignment I that I will – as a general rule – not allow you to make up at a later date, although there may be exceptions from time to time."

Inside her head, Chisame Hasegawa cursed up a storm. She hated dealing with people as a rule, and now she was being graded on interactions with others? She'd managed to deal with the damned robot and the rest of the freaks in her class, but having a ten year-old as a teacher – who then declared he was going to grade her damn social skills – pissed her off to the point she could barely even think.

Negi then said, "I'd like to give you all a test now – don't give me those groans of disappointment, this is not for a grade. Since I just got here today, I don't yet know what you have and haven't learned. Even though it's not for a grade, I still want you all to give it an honest effort. Before I forget, I expect you to be quiet while there are still tests out. Any volunteers to pass out the papers?"

Kaede and Fei were the first two to raise their hands, followed by Yuuna and Sakurako. And then, after a second or two, Asuna.

Calling upon the first two, Negi was pleased to see that the idea of a small participation grade was already motivating his students.

Leaning back in his chair, Negi observed the class as they worked.

Most were diligent, apparently wanting to impress their new teacher.

However, he observed that after a short while, Makie started fidgeting and getting distracted, Asuna, Kaede, and Fei seemed to be struggling with a few of the questions, and Yue barely even bothered to lift her pencil.

As each student finished, they handed Negi their paper, which he would then start grading.

Most of the girls were getting average scores, and he noticed that there were some areas which a majority of students missed, while there were others where most of the girls knew the material. Thus, Negi knew where to focus his efforts in the future.

Eventually, Asuna was the last to hand in her exam. Glancing at his watch, Negi said, "Well then, so long as you don't go crazy, you may all have the last ten minutes of class as free time."

And the students rejoiced, before they started talking amongst each other, surfing the internet, reading, etc.

Several hours later, Negi was finishing up his work, grading exams for the other classes outside. He was pleased that most of the students were on track with where they ought to be, while there were a few students in each class that needed additional help.

Taking a moment to stretch and enjoy the breeze, Negi observed one of the girls from 2-A at the top of the massive staircase, with a stack of books up to her eyes.

He recognized Nodoka Miyazaki almost immediately, on account of her bangs. Even ignoring that, it would've taken only a second longer for him to put name to face.

He got to his feet, intending to take some of the load off to prevent some kind of accident, when she tripped.

And slipped, falling over the side.

It wasn't the first time that the boy had seen others in danger before him.

It was, however, the first time he had the power to do something about it.

Negi immediately channeled magic into his legs, allowing him to rocket forward at near-Olympian speeds, attempting to catch her.

He barely made it in time, and nearly stumbled with her in his arms, but he managed to keep his footing.

Nodoka had screwed her eyes shut, apparently expecting a very painful landing, but she hesitantly opened them.

Instead of hard, unrelenting concrete, she found herself in small but strong arms, a concerned face above her.

"Are you okay, miss Miyazaki?"

Nodoka had always been terrified of the opposite sex, but even she had never quite known why. However, the sincerity of Negi's concern started to break through some of that. Enough so that she could speak. "Y-you... helped me..?"

Taking that for a 'yes', Negi replied, "Well, of course I helped you."

As fear began giving way to curiosity, Nodoka stammered out, "Why?"

That... is an interesting reaction.

Negi smiled as he asked, "Do I need a reason to help someone in trouble?"

With that, the teacher let go of his student, and upon seeing that she appeared to be unhurt, heaved a sigh of relief. "Still, since you asked, I'm your teacher, and that makes me somewhat responsible for you and your classmates while you're at school. Even if that weren't the case, though, I'd still have intervened without hesitation. Helping others is what I do. It's why I'm here. Even if you feel fine now, I'd still prefer that you have the school nurse take a look at you, just to be certain."

While he'd been speaking, Negi had also picked up most of Nodoka's books, before returning them to her. "I hate seeing others get hurt, so please be careful."

Nodoka's face went a little red, before replying, "Y-yes, Professor. I-I'll go and see the nurse."

As she turned to leave, Negi added something else. "I can't be around every hour of every day to help everyone who needs it, but if you or any of your classmates are in some kind of trouble, or want advice, or anything like that, then come find me."

Nodoka turned back, and for some reason nervous, asked, "Do you promise, Professor?"

With great conviction, he said, "You have my word."

Nodoka's face went a little red again, and she left Negi alone with his thoughts.

I meant every single thing I said. Hopefully, then, you'll start coming out of your shell a bit more over time. But for now, I need to work out tomorrow's lesson plans. On top of that, I still need to do some research into Mahora City's criminal element, get the layout of the city, learn precisely what I'll be getting myself into once I start moonlighting. It'd sure be nice if I had more time in the day...

Around midnight, a group of thugs broke into Nabacorp's chemical plant.

The leader, a man of manic disposition, grinned like a shark. "C'mon dipshits, do you have any idea what kind of payoff we can expect from this heist? We won't need to work again for months!"

One of the grunts, while bypassing the back door's entry codes, muttered, "What are we s'posed to be stealing anyway, Kaneda?"

Kanzaki Kaneda, the aforementioned leader, was prone to grandiose hand gestures as he spoke. "Our mission for the night, I tell you again, is given to us by some fella called Scaglietti. But that's not important, the goods we're lifting for him are where the excitement's at. You see, Nabacorp does a lot of contracted work for the military, and this is supposed to be some kind of mutagenic compound that destroys we pathetic humans and, in our place, gives birth to a creature that can only be described as a SUPERHUMAN!"

Kaneda's right-hand man, Takeshi Tetsuo, promptly smacked his partner upside the head. "Don't get too far ahead of yourself, jackass. I still don't like this... we're getting paid way too much for a job that supposed to be this simple, and Nabacorp has a shitty record for protecting their employees from their own chemicals. I've heard that barely a week goes by without some poor sap tripping or some such shit and falling over the catwalk into a vat of chemicals. So each and every one of you louts had better be careful as all hell, because if you die in a stupid way like that, this psycho Kaneda will invade hell just to bring you back and torture you to death."

Kaneda blushed. "Oh you shouldn't have, Tetsuo, now my heart's all a-flutter!"

Tetsuo rolled his eyes. Goddamn freak.

At that moment, the grunt managed to disable the alarms and open the door.

Over the next several minutes, the goons found several creates filled with canisters of the chemical in question, before quickly and quietly moving them out into their stolen truck.

However, it became obvious after a time that work was going more slowly than before. Looking around, Tetsuo realized that several of the goons had disappeared. "Everybody, stop what you're doing! Half of you are missing. Anyone know where they went?"

As this dawned upon the remaining henchmen, they grew anxious and started sweating. Eventually, one of them piped up, "I think saw Kenji and Masaaki head over to grab some crates in the next room some time ago, and they haven't come back..."

Tetsuo put two and two together, and muttered, "God damn son of a bitch, it's her. All of you, get to the truck and floor it! We'll spring the others later, just take what we've already got and –"

"Ignore him, everyone. We're going to stay and fight."

Tetsuo looked at Kaneda like he was insane. Well, he was insane, but this was absurd. "That vigilante Scarecrow has come out on top every time we've clashed and you want to fight her? I know you're crazy, but really?!"

Kaneda was far too calm as he grabbed a one-liter canister and opened it, revealing the orange chemical cocktail inside. Ignoring Tetsuo, he raised the mixture up and bellowed, "A TOAST, VIGILANTE BITCH, TO YOUR FUCKING DEATH!"

And then he drank it. All of it.

Tetsuo and the goons stared in horror as Kaneda's laughter took on a madness far greater than they were used to, which was then followed by a horrific metamorphosis.

His skin turned dark brown and hair began growing everywhere. His muscles bulged, ripping apart the sleeves, before the rest of his jacket was utterly destroyed by two more arms bursting out of his sides, some of his fingers fused until he had only three per hand. Kaneda's eyes bulged out from their sockets and grew hard before shining like gemstones, antennae grew from his head as wings burst out of his back. His joints twisted in an inhuman way, and what was left of his skin morphed into an iron-hard carapace.

The human being known as Kanzaki Kaneda had ceased to exist.

And in his place had been born a monstrous killer moth.

With eyes that could see beyond the limits of human vision, the beast lunged at an unlit corner of the ceiling, eliciting a feminine yelp of surprise.

A small, lithe figure somersaulted out of the way just before a giant insectoid fist could be driven through her stomach.

Landing in the center of the room, the figure wore a form-fitting auburn sweater, tight black cotton pants, black gloves, a brown sack over her head, and a noose around her neck.

Mahora City's urban legend vigilante, the Scarecrow.

She hesitated, glancing between the giant insectoid and the other goons, before deciding that they were the lesser priority. Her breathy voice had an ethereal echo to it as she spoke. "Truce, at least until I can stop your boss."

Tetsuo nodded, then bellowed, "What are you morons waiting around for?! MOVE IT! Get to the truck with what we've got, I'll cover you!"

With that, Tetsuo drew his gun and took aim at the freakish moth, strafing along the catwalk as he fired several shots. Unforunately, the act was all but futile, as the creature's carapace deflected the bullets.


The killer moth flew at Tetsuo, grabbed him by the chest, and slammed him against the wall, breaking his back and several ribs. With one of its other arms, the creature that was once Kanzaki Kaneda tore open the lid on a vat of the same mutagen he'd earlier consumed, before tossing his former crony into the drink, singing, "BATHTIME FOR TETSUOOOO~!"

Takeshi Tetsuo's screams were silenced as he vanished into the orange liquid.

Scarecrow elongated her fingers into razor-sharp claws. Although she was increasingly disturbed by the new level of depravity she was witnessing, she managed to hide it well.

"Aaaaaaaaand now, baack to the matter at hand. You've been standing in my way for months, you vigilante bitch. But I'm not upset. Oh no, not at all. Because that cute little ASS of yours now belongs to CHARAXES!"

To punctuate his intent, Charaxes sped at Scarecrow again, though she flipped out of the way and raked her claws against him, causing sparks to fly as she drew yellow blood.

"Ooooooooohh, it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts... but it hurts so gooooooooooooooood..."

Scarecrow continued dodging and weaving across the room, wondering if the mutagen had made Kaneda this crazy or if he'd been that way all along and simply downplaying it.

Fortunately, despite his nigh-overwhelming speed and power, it seemed that Kaneda was still a reckless psycho who tended not to think things through. Taking this into account, she led him on a chase through the storage room, causing him to knock over several canisters of the mutagen. Once she'd set up her plan, Scarecrow powered up a massive electrical generator before standing in front of it like a big, sexy target.

And Charaxes, true to form, flew straight for her at top speed. Ducking out of the way, she made a run for it as the generator began to explode.

It was at this point that one of her suspicions about the mutagen was confirmed.

Namely, that it was highly flammable, and the fumes set off a chain reaction.

She made it out quickly enough to escape the flames, but the pressure wave still sent her flying, and she survived only due to her above-human durability.

"My butt hurts... still, at least I'm not injured."

As she rubbed her aching backside, Zazie Rainyday removed her hood and wiped the sweat from her brow. "And I still need to do my math homework, too..."

Author's notes: Please give me reviews! Let me know that I'm not wasting my time with this! Also, I would like to dedicate this chapter to OverMaster, who apparently had his birthday yesterday. Even if we may not get along a lot of the time, happy belated birthday!