"I can't believe this. Can you believe this? Because I most certainly can't!" More grumbling kept coming from across the empty kitchen, aside from the one person who was in it currently of course. "I'm well aware of your stupid situation Shizuka, but you have to realize how hard that test to get into the NOL is. What did I tell you? I told you that you were going to fail, didn't I? But do you ever listen to the proclaimed genius Kokonoe? No." A slight smile slithered across the girl's lips, and then returned to its normal scowl. "I know Kokonoe, I just really wanted to get in. You know how much I wanted to get in, and look what I'm doing. Now I'm just back to my regular job of cleaning the stupid dishes for Mr. Yazuki…" A quite growl was heard on the other side of Shizuka's earpiece, and this surprised her a bit. "Kokonoe, are you alright?" There was no answer for a few seconds, and then a long sigh was given in reply.

"It's nothing Shizuka, I just really don't like that man you're working for. I've never liked him. My instincts are telling me something is very off about him, and I want you safe," Kokonoe replied, a tiny hint of worry in her voice. That one tiny hint gave Shizuka all the evidence she needed that Kokonoe was in fact, deathly serious. "Wow Kokonoe, you're actually showing that you're worried. That's amazing…" Shizuka replied slyly, a grin spreading across her lips. Before either of them could continue, a loud bang was heard from behind them as the door to the kitchen was slammed open. Shizuka whipped around and quickly turned off her headset with a flick of her finger, seeing Mr. Yazuki glaring at her from the doorframe.

She immediately cowered against the counter, pushing herself against it as Mr. Yazuki stormed in front of her. "Time for your daily payment, woman."

Kokonoe was frantically clicking away at her keyboard, trying to restore the lost connection between her and her best friend. "Shizuka! Shizuka, answer me damn it!" she commanded as she stood up, thrusting her chair away from her. She slammed her fists onto the keyboard, causing a small alarm to begin sounding as an error alert appeared on her screen. Her pink ears twitched quickly, a definite sign of both her worry, and her anger. Her attention was immediately directed to her headset, as she heard a faint coughing coming from the other side.

She furiously began typing away at her keyboard again, trying to clear the interference away from the sound she was hearing. "Shizuka! Goddammit Shizuka, answer me!" Kokonoe nearly shouted into her headset. The coughing became clearer, and Kokonoe's ears picked up something else that made her eyes widen. The sound of sniffing and harsh breathing. "SHIZUKA! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!" Kokonoe shouted, fearing the worst her mind could possibly imagine.

A few moments passed, and then the sound of rustling came from the other side of the headset. A very shaky sounding Shizuka managed a small, "I-I'm here Kokonoe…" followed by a harsh cough. Kokonoe formed her hand into a fist, scratching herself with her nails unintentionally, and growled. "What the hell happened Shizuka? Put yourself on the damn camera so I can see you. NOW." Nothing was heard for a few more seconds, and then a small sigh was given in reply. "O-okay… give me a second…" Kokonoe waited, and when the video feed finally appeared on her screen, her eyes widened greatly. "S-Shizuka…"

There, on her screen, was a beaten and bloodied Shizuka, tears streaming down her face and one hand gripping her shoulder. Kokonoe felt her tails begin fluffing up, and she bared her teeth. "What the hell has that man been doing to you?!" Shizuka coughed quietly and looked away from her, afraid to look her in the eyes. "M-Mr. Yazuki… he's been beating me almost every other day… i-it started about a month ago, when I was getting ready to leave from my night shift. Mr. Yazuki came into where I was and began beating me, but not to the point I bled or had bruises. I figured he must have had a bit too much to drink, or had a bad day, and had no other way to get out his anger, so I let it go. But, then it started getting worse. The beatings became more frequent, and I started to bleed and get bruises. I stayed… because I needed the money Kokonoe… that's why I wanted to get into the NOL… to finally get out of here…"

Kokonoe glared at her screen, and then started typing away at her keys once more. Shizuka wiped her arm across her face, smearing some blood across her sleeve. "W-what are you doing Kokonoe…?" she asked meekly, since it hurt to even think about moving her mouth. Kokonoe smirked and pressed the Enter key on her board. "Gather up your stuff Shizzy, because guess what… you just joined the NOL." Shizuka gasped and nearly toppled over at what she just heard. "K-Kokonoe… T-thank you!" she exclaimed as she started hobbling her way over to the door and threw it open. She hurried as quickly as her bruised and battered body would let her, and crammed her stuff into her bag.

"H-hey Kokonoe… wanna see something?" Shizuka asked as she wiped a bit of dried blood off her cheek. Kokonoe tilted her head a bit to the side, and slowly nodded. "Alright. What is it?" She watched her screen, seeing Shizuka walk towards her boss's room. Almost immediately, a smirk spread across Kokonoe's lips. "Hey Mr. Yazuki! Guess what?" Shizuka exclaimed as she walked in front of him. "I quit." Kokonoe flinched as she heard the loud thock of Shizuka's fist slamming against Mr. Yazuki's cheek, and she chuckled. "That a girl. Now get out of there while you still can."

Shizuka gathered her strength and stood up straight, walking out of the shop into the dark streets. Kokonoe nodded to herself and popped a piece of candy into her mouth, gently tapping her forefinger on the stick. She pressed a key on the keyboard, and slowly closed her eyes.

"Tager, this is Kokonoe. I need you to keep an eye on Shizuka for me."

Shizuka, still wandering about the streets of Kagutsuchi, decided to stop in one of the local restrooms and padded in front of the mirror. "If I'm joining the NOL… I need to look my best. And this, is not my best," she muttered to herself as she splashed a bit of cold water on her face to clear the blood from it. She then bent over and grabbed a clean shirt from her bag, changing into it quickly. "Alright, now. It's time to finally do something good for someone." With those words, she picked up her bag, flung it over her shoulder, and walked out onto the streets toward the NOL building.

After walking a ways, Shizuka finally arrived at the front doors to the NOL building. She gulped, her heart beginning to race as she gently pushed open the large, wooden doors. She padded quietly inside, and turned on her headpiece once again. "K-Kokonoe… I'm inside the NOL building… who I go see to get my rank and whatnot?" she asked quietly. Kokonoe chuckled and replied, "Don't even worry about going to see anyone. Just head into the uniform room. I'm so damn good, I already set you up with a rank and everything. You're an Armagus Soldier Unit, and of course, I set up your bio as using your bow, since you're so skilled at it. See? I'll be damned if I'm not a genius." Shizuka smiled to herself, and looked around. "There's the uniform room…"

She trotted inside, being careful not to make any noise as to alert anyone, or, anything, which might have been still inside the building. She looked around at the different uniforms, and lightly tapped her cheek. "I'm an Armagus Soldier Unit right? Hmm… that's the blue uniform," she muttered to herself as she picked one up and looked at it. "Really…? These arm-pieces bug me, but oh well. Just another thing to get used to," she continued as she changed into her new outfit. "Hey Kokonoe, are you responsible for me being able to get in here so easily? The NOL is easily the most guarded building in all of Kagutsuchi," Shizuka asked as she pulled her hair out from the inside of her uniform.

She heard a snicker from the other end of the line, and then Kokonoe's voice. "You bet your damn ass it was me. No other genius could have done this." Shizuka giggled softly and took her bow from inside her bag. "Well, I made it into the NOL mom… I finally did it," she said quietly as she held the charm fastened around her bow in the palm of her hand.

"I promise I'll make you proud, you and dad both."