The Railgun laid herself flat on the ground, armed with a sniper rifle. From her scope, her target Kamijou Touma could be seen walking down a pavement carrying a few plastic bag.
She felt the cold night wind blowing across her face.
The wind direction for tonight was chaotic, so the Railgun did not have much confidence in getting the bullet inside Touma's head.
"For an misfortunate person, he's rather fortunate."
The Railgun murmured as she readjusted her aim again.
Sniping was not as easy as aiming from a distance and shoot the target. Wind direction that could alter the bullet's trajectory was important.
"All I have to do is to wait for the wind to stabilize."
The Railgun was a Level 5 who could take an army on her own. Dealing with a Level 0 would be like squishing an ant with a finger. However, this particular Level 0 also known as Kamijou Touma had a special power in his right hand.
She had tried using her esper powers against him in the past, but that led to her defeat.
While Touma's special power known as the Imagine Breaker can negate any esper's ability. but it is defenseless against things caused by a natural effect.
The Railgun eventually figured this out at the end when she brought the whole building down using her magnetism ability to create a hurricane, but his Imagine Breaker must have been something more when he survived that.
He may be weaker now, but the Railgun decided not to take any chances. Sniping was the best option. He'll die without knowing why.
The Railgun got tired of waiting.
She emitted an electromagnetic wave powerful enough to manipulate the wind direction through the windmills scattered around Academy City.
Though the Level Upper installed inside her was like a time bomb exploding in 9 days time, but at least she had an additional 20,000 esper brain to boost her calculations.
You think I'm going to let you access all the 20,000 brains?
"About 10,000 is enough. Nice try, but it's pointless."
Misaka Mikoto. How annoying.
The Railgun rested her finger on the trigger. A sharp headache stabbed into her head, the pain spreading outwards.
She bit her lips. "If I kill him, your sisters will be saved as well. Is your sisters more important, or your precious Kamijou?"
They are both important to me.
"But you only can choose one."
Mikoto did not respond.
The Railgun smirked, "You are selfish. You only think about yourself. Because you love Kamijou, so you don't want him to die, but what about your sisters?"
She felt a bitter sorrow that didn't belong to her pouring from her heart.
This made the Railgun happy. Hopefully, Mikoto would shut up and cry for a week.
The wind direction was now finally concentrated towards the North in Touma's direction from the Railgun's position.
She let out a soft chuckle.
Time to die.
As her fingers was about to press down on the trigger, a strange chilling sensation from her spine ran up to her skull.
The Railgun turned around. Nobody was there. Her electromagnetic radar detected nothing as well.
"What the fuck was that?"
When she turned back to continue, Touma had already disappeared from her vision.
"Somebody must be protecting him by sabotaging my attempts. Fuck. I might have to kill that person as well, but I don't have time."
The Railgun spat, and left the roof with her sniper rifle.
Now that an unknown person was watching her from somewhere, the sniping method won't work anymore. She would go about killing Touma... and Kuroko as well using an alternate method.
Seria sat in front of a supercomputer with a clear tube large enough to fit a person inside.
Inside was Ichihara Fuyumi with multiple wires connected to her body, submerged in red liquid. Today was a trial test to check if the machine created to repair Touma's memories using Misaki's Mental Out needed any adjustment.
Her fingers flew across the keyboard, calibrating the machine.
"With the current power source I'm using... 1% would be considered as perfect."
Seria felt a gun pressing on the back of her head.
She did not turn back.
"Are you angry?"
Footsteps followed, and from Seria's peripheral vision, she saw a group of men armed with guns surrounding her.
All of them had stars in their eyes.
"I should be."
The female voice was unmistakably Misaki.
"You went ahead and do things on your own without discussing things with me. If it wasn't for me, he would have been sniped dead by Misaka."
A pawn ordered to protect Touma had released an amplified electromagnetic wave at a specific frequency which would make any Electromaster who could detect such a wave feel extremely uncomfortable. This distracted the Railgun for a few second, allowing Touma to move away from her range unharmed.
"Can I ask you just one question."
"Are you seriously as dumb as an eroge female protagonist? Despite what he did to you, you're still protecting him? Or more accurately, love him?"
"You promised to never bring this up again. I'll shoot you if you another word more."
Misaki's tone was so cold that it could encase everything in the room in ice.
Seria pushed away the gun pressing on the back of her head, directing Misaki to a pod-shaped machine with a transparent glass casing on the front.
"Let's just start the trial test already."
She was not at the least affected by Misaki's threat, but Seria said nothing else out of consideration about her feelings.
The one who has been hurt the most by Touma was Misaki, not her. Yet she's doing things which contradicts the pain she must have felt.
What a stupid, stupid girl trapped by love.
Touma found himself in a hospital corridor.
A few seconds ago, he was on his way back home after buying groceries from the nearby convenience store when he fainted after hearing a singing voice from a street performance.
He saw himself with Mikoto.
Her shorter height and messier bangs suggested that this should be younger Mikoto that he's seeing.
As for himself, there was no difference in appearances.
However, the way he carried himself seemed much more confident and fearless. The aura that Touma enamted was something which this Touma could never replicate.
While Touma felt inferior over the other Touma in front of him, but most importantly, how did he get here?
Did the voice he heard knocked him unconscious and sent him here?
Is this a dream?
That Touma told Mikoto to leave first as he wanted to talk to the doctor personally.
A young girl about 9 in a white lab coat appeared from an office. Her name tag stated her name as Nunotaba Shinobu.
"If I may ask, what experiment are you planning by creating 20,000 Misaka clones?"
That Touma paused for a moment.
"Don't ask. I have my reasons."
When Touma heard himself saying that, he froze.
This is definitely just a dream right? I'm the one who started this crazy experiment?
He ran towards that Touma and grabbed him by the shoulder.
He wanted to ask why. Why did he start such a fucked up experiment?
Both pair of eyes met.
A sharp pain assulated Touma's head. He closed his eyes in pain.
When Touma opened them again, he was outside the hospital.
What the hell just happened?
Touma rubbed his temples to ease the throbbing pain in his head.
He saw himself now holding Mikoto's hand.
She had a sweet expression on her face, like she was the most blissful person alive.
From a corner, a girl with starry eyes watched them both with a bitter expression.
It was Misaki.
The contrast between the two was on the extreme end.
Misaki ran away as she wiped her tear-stained face.
Touma noticed that and chased after Misaki.
He passed through every single person like they were projections. Even that Touma who he could touch before in the hospital wasn't an exception.
Something must have changed.
Touma lost Misaki when he ran into the park. After some time searching, he found Misaki sitting on a bench,
She looked at the ground dazed.
He went over to Misaki, half expecting her to be like the rest, mere projection that he could not touch.
To his surprise, she looked up.
"What are you doing here?"
"Are you okay?" Touma said.
"Was yesterday just a cruel prank?"
"You forgot about yesterday. So it was a prank after all. You're so cruel. So cruel."
Misaki took a deep breath, stopping herself from breaking down again.
However, a tear escaped from her eye.
Touma bent over and wiped that tear away. He wanted to say something, but he turned away and left.
Misaki pulled against Touma's shirt.
"I know there must be a reason behind this."
Touma swept her hand away and kept on walking.
After walking for an unknown period of time, Touma thought to himself.
What did I just do?
Someone, most probably that Touma possessed him like during the Misawa Cram School incident.
This is a strange dream.
Or maybe he was trapped in a strange dimension when he heard that voice. How misfortunate.
How do I get out of here?
Under the orange sky, Touma saw Mikoto, but upon closer look, it was one of Mikoto's clones. She had a rifile and a military goggle perched on her head.
Everything went black afterwards.
"Are you okay?"
Touma woke up to a girl with pink hair wearing a hat with a dove attached to the left. The crowd had moved apart into a circle-like formation around Touma and the girl.
He recognised her as the upcoming idol Meigo Arisa who often does street performances. In about a month or two, she would sing during Endymion's grand opening as the lead singer.
Touma staggered up and picked up his groceries.
"Yeah. Don't worry."
"I wonder why do you always end up unconscious whenever we meet?" Arisa said.
"We met before?"
"I was the one who sent you to the hospital when you fell unconscious during that time."
Was it that time when he fell unconscious on the streets, and woke up with only his memories before he entered Academy City?
Arisa went back to her keyboard and altered a few settings.
"You don't remember?"
Touma nodded. Things would be less complicated this way.
"Yeah, I remember. Thanks for sending me to the hospital."
"So did you manage to tell her what you wanted to say?"
"You were asking for directions to Tokiwadai for this reason, but you fell unconscious just after you left. I'm just curious."
Something that Touma believed to be complete nonsense he said to humor Misaki was actually real? What's going on? Does he actually subconsciously remember things from his past?
"Yeah, I did." Touma said.
"That's great, I'll see you around someday."
As she resumed her performance, one thought occupied Touma.
What did I wanted to say?
It felt like a very important thing that he should've said...
Misaki stepped out of the machine.
She smiled at Seria. For the first time in a long while, it was a geniune smile from her heart.
I knew I was right.
Seria said she was as dumb as a female eroge protagonist. Even Misaki found herself stupid at times.
The conflict in her heart to rationalize Touma's action, or accept reality that he was a jerk who ruined everything just to be with Mikoto felt a thorn stuck inside. Constant pain.
But just a little while, that Touma she used to know came back.
He said nothing, but Misaki knew.
She could tell.
He definitely did it for a reason.
I want to know.
Misaki stepped out of the building and entered a black car waiting outside.
She pressed a button on her remote, and the driver started driving.
From her starry handbag, Misaki took out a half-torn picture with her inside. She tore the other half with Touma inside on impulse.
Then maybe... this picture will be whole again.
Kuroko sat alone in her dorm room. The orange light poured through the open window.
It was sunset.
She stared at the empty bed.
Where did Mikoto's large bear plushie toy go?
She started at the empty closet.
Where did Mikoto's green Gekota pjyamas, and her panties that only an elementary school girl would wear go?
Where did everything which defined Misaka Mikoto as a person go?
Beside Kuroko, there was a large box.
She managed to intercept the box from Maya before she threw it into the trash area.
It was here. Everything was inside this box.
Even if Ruiko and Kazari no longer remember Misaka Mikoto, at least one person still remembers.
Her beloved friend, Shirai Kuroko.
I'll somehow get you back, onee-sama.
Under a bridge at night, a group of things surrounded one fat boy.
The leader waved the fat's boy wallet and smirked.
"This is not enough."
"What do you mean by not enough?! I have a 100k yen inside my wallet. It's more than enough!"
"Sorry, but the price for Level Upper has increased to 300k yen. Demand is high, and supply is low, you know?"
The fat boy reached out his stubby arms, wanting to get his wallet back, but the leader pushed him away.
"You can consider this as a deposit."
The fat boy did not give up, and ran over to the leader. 100k yen was all his savings from over the years he spent in Academy City.
The leader slammed his leg into his stomach, yanked him closer by his collar and punched him a few times before dumping him face down on the ground.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
The leader sighed and kept the wallet inside his pocket.
"This is Judgement."
Kuroko clutched the green armband on her left sleeve.
The leader spat, "Judgement. Fuck."
"If I may ask, what is it that you know about the Level Upper?"
While Kuroko felt troubled over Mikoto's personality change, she still had a job to do. Investigating the Level Upper incident that has gotten from bad to worse was her priority case.
"Like hell I'm telling you."
Fortunately, many Judgement member were weak Level 1 and 2s. This girl may look confident, but even Level 3s could be taken down with enough people.
Five people including the leader was enough.
They charged at Kuroko, attempting to overwhelm her in numbers.
She teleported between two thugs, her body mid-air at those thug's eye level, twirling her legs like a tornado and sent them tumbling sideways down on the concrete.
After landing, a thug hurled a fist at Kuroko. She teleported behind, crouched low, and swept the thug off-balance with her legs.
Only about 80 students in Academy City were teleporters, so it was extremely rare to come across one.
Upon seeing how competent Kuroko was, the leader tried to fled, but she pinned him down by twisting his arms into submission.
Kuroko rested her right foot on the pinned leader's back.
"Now will you please cooperate with me?"
"I... I know nothing!" The leader screamed in pain. "I was just trying to get some money from this fatso by claiming to have it!"
Kuroko shook her head.
All the other thugs including the thugs were probably Level 0s judging from how they displayed no powers from the start till the end. What he said should be the truth.
This is disappointing.
"I'll still be arresting you anyway."
A short, sharp and hot hissing sound blew at Kuroko's ears. Then, a mysterious explosion occurred, blowing Kuroko towards the green grassy field about a few meters away. She felt her bones cracking into pieces from the impact.
Taking this chance, the thugs and their leader left the bridge as fast as they could.
Kuroko mustered her remaining strength to get up. Pain shot through her arms to her ribcages and leg.
"Wh-What the hell was that?" Kuroko spluttered, blood trickling from her lips.
She heard the sound again, and teleported into a nearby building to escape the mysterious explosion.
There was no fire or smoke, so it must be a shockwave fired at her.
From a window, she saw the air violently expanding outside, and the shockwave shattering the windows.
"I can't even see my opponent."
Where was the person who created this explosion?"
Kuroko scanned her surroundings. It was an abandoned building like most buildings in District 10.
The room was bare with some broken furniture here and there. Nobody else could be seen except for her.
Was this an attempt to kill her because she witnessed that experiment about Mikoto's clones?
Anyway, I need to get out of here.
A sleek, black spear about an arm's length tore through the door and stabbed at her abdomen.
One girl with brown hair kicked down the door.
The girl's name was Aizono Mio.
"So you're planning to kill me?" Kuroko said.
"Yeah." Mio smirked as she cocked her head to one side. "Witnesses cannot be allowed to live."
Black slimy liquid poured from Mio's body, covering the ground and the walls in this room.
The liquid chained Kuroko's legs to the floor. Her hands were chained by a black thin pole-like mass sticking out from the ground.
"I expected harder, but you're too easy."
The black liquid on the walls squirmed to life, and objects in the form of weapons were created, hanging from the walls, ready to fire at Kuroko at Mio's command.
Kuroko closed her eyes, ignoring all pain and distractions, and teleported.
It was dangerous for a teleporter to not know where she was going to be teleported. However, the high amount of concentration from doing the calculations and endure the pain omitted this crucial part.
Kuroko found herself inside another empty abandoned building. At least she didn't get her hands or legs trapped inside concrete.
The spear through her abdomen trembled and burst into a cage, trapping Kuroko inside like a bird.
After some time, Mio appeared.
"The range of control over my oil constructs extends up to 100m. I know that your teleportation range is only up to 82m.
Kuroko clenched her fist in pain.
"That power... that's a Level 5 at least... how? Level Upper?"
She fell on the black surface, unable to keep herself standing anymore.
"Something better than Level Upper." Mio said.
The cage turned into an arm and dragged Kuroko's limp body away.
Author's Note: So I'm back. I was in the army for three weeks without any internet, so I couldn't really update. But I had an 11 day MC, so I managed to finish this chapter in a notebook during my free time not sweeping the floor or cleaning stuff in the army while I had my MC and transferred everything into the PC when I reached home.
I may not be able to update much nowadays, but I'll do my best in updating of course :)
Anyway, forgive me if there's any drop in quality, I seem to be writing shorter chapters. I don't know why :/ Short chapters aren't that bad... right? But it can seem like nothing much has happened.
Hmm... well, if you have comments, please leave them in the review box below.
Hope you liked it.
See you :)