Chapter 1:

Business As Usual

Half-Paid Heroes


Among the suburban rooftops, there was what seemed to be a brunette businessman in a beige suit, leather shoes and horn-rimmed glasses, standing on nothing but air. He gave the gold watch on his left wrist a cursory glance as he held out an open palm, creating a blast of air that blew apart a dumpster near his feet and sent a hiding boar-human hybrid flying-

"What kind of trash is this?!" Chris screamed at her laptop in the semi-darkness of an almost-winter evening, closing it with a bang. "Ell, you're saying this is what that company does? What if they're fakers?"

Chris, in most aspects a possessor of boyish features aside from her long dark hair, swivelled herself around and glared expectantly at her friend, the blonde and petite Ella, who was standing behind her. The stars outside blinked into existence, flickering in and out of sight with what could have been interpreted as disapproval.

"I thought Kirikaga-whatsit was a normal company that would give us normal part time jobs!" the blonde shot back, almost crumpling the flyer for the Kirikagura Company in one hand, carefully handling the cream paper of the Company's acceptance letter in the other. Ella laid down both sheets and swept her short hair behind one ear while they both fell silent.

"We're not people who can save the world. I guess we just have to confess that to them," Chris concluded curtly with a nod.
----
...Superpowers appeared in this world a good ten or so years ago, controlled by the world's biggest companies. In essence, the idea of a "superhero" came into being, but with a paycheck attached, and since this was not how people believed heroism should be, the hero sector - by law - had to become known as the "offense squad".

In addition, nobody could explain the powers' origins, not even notable scientists or the discoverers. Hence, it was easy for scammers to come out of the woodwork and say they offered genuine powers...
----
First day on the job.

Those five words were daunting enough, but with the moment of confession looming over them, Chris and Ella felt sick just preparing for it.

Most of the day was spent learning the ropes of the paperwork, but when they finally got to talking directly to their superior, a Mr Akihisa Kirikagura (who appeared to be the man in the video), he didn't seem to be doing paperwork at all - he was on a shopping site, looking at what appeared to be ancient artifacts, when the girls entered. The distinctive smell of his cologne - sandalwood - wafted all through the room.

"Sir, I'm afraid I'm not suited to the offense squad." Chris's eyes drifted to the wooden floor, but she clenched her fists behind her back, out of her boss's sight, and brought them back up.

"What do you mean, you aren't suited for the offense squad? I picked you personally." His tone was critical, but his eyes were still on his laptop screen.

"...I'm probably more suited to the management section, like Ella." Chris hung her head as she looked over at her friend.

"That's what this is for," the man rapped his knuckled upon his desk drawer. "Take a look inside and see what you take a liking to."

As he pulled open the drawer with a small rattle, the entire world seemed to hold its breath. Chris peered in, worried about what strange rituals she might have to get subjected to...


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