While I should have considered my vertical capability before I blasted a shortcut to the top floor of the school into the ceiling, I ended up hoping I'd be able to make it up, and I got lucky. I was able to jump straight to the top floor with no breaks, detours, or stopping on floors midway to get another jump. Manami made the jump all the way to the top in one go, and I'd say her ascent was more stylish a move than I'd ever be able to perform. As if I didn't already feel unaccomplished enough from Manami unintentionally showing me up, Atsuko's jump was equally as stylish. I shouldn't have felt bad about myself not having a jump as graceful as theirs, but at the time I'd just laid eyes on the levels of finesse those two pulled off, and enough time hasn't passed to think "If I practice hard enough, one day I'll be able to do that" instead of "Wow, I'm a chump compared to them". As a total beginner, I shouldn't have been upset that my high jumping skills were basic, but that's exactly what you'd expect from someone so lazy that they stop attempting something altogether if they're not good at it on the first try. I used to be like that when I was younger, but I'm much better about it now. Also, spoiler alert: I'm much better at fancy jumping now than I was then. I also realize that my phrasing implies that Manami and Atsuko dedicate a portion of their day to practicing cool jumps, but that's not the case. Jumping is something that you find yourself doing naturally when you're fighting or doing other things that casters do, and the rest came from their natural talent. I, on the other hand, actually had to have dedicated jumping practice to pull off a jump worth its salt. Is it sad? Absolutely. Was it worth the effort? You know it. I suppose at the end of the day though, it doesn't matter how stylish your jump is as long as you can reach your destination.
As Takuya, Manami, and Atsuko ascended to the top floor of the school via Takuya's "shortcut", Amakusa lingered on the bottom floor. As her eyes wandered across the hallway, her attention was caught on the strange banner which had entranced Takuya. She gazed at the peculiar insignia, and it was all too recognizable. Looking at the insignia resurfaced memories of her own; memories of her time with Takuya, and they were as clear as a summer day's blue sky.
After a few moments of joyful reminiscing, her last encounter with Takuya came to mind, and Amakusa was perplexed. Takuya was different. It wasn't discovering that he's a Caster that made her think this, it was his demeanor, his tone, and his behavior. She was familiar with the cold, distant, minimally present Takuya. Seeing Takuya be open, communicative, displaying a little emotion, and most odd, looking like he's enjoying himself was unnerving and unsettling to Amakusa. Everything about this Takuya was foreign to her, so unlike the Takuya she knows. Amakusa began questioning herself. Is Takuya okay? What happened while I was gone that changed Takuya like this? Why is Takuya with the Chairwoman and that other girl?
Many questions came to her head, but one question she knew she had to find the answer to stood above all the others. Does he still remember everything?
It wasn't a possibility she wanted to consider, but she knew she couldn't rule it out. The most important thing to her was making sure that Takuya remembers the time they spent together, and that he remembers the truth of it. Not one detail can be forgotten, should there remain hope for her, and for him.
She considered that she might be overthinking and that the way she's thinking might come off as obsessive and creepy. 『I'm the one who vanished without saying a word. I have no right to suddenly show up and start digging into why he's not the same as he used to be. It's been some time since I last saw him, enough time for someone to change as much as he did. And it's not like it's bad change just because he's different from the way I know him to be.』Amakusa thought to herself. She tried to shift her mind off the subject before she needlessly thinks about the subject any more than she already has.
『It's just... It seems like Takuya's been fine without me.』She thought. She acknowledged it was good that Takuya was fine on his own, and she was even happy for him, but something about the thought was still just unsettling to her. Amakusa lamented and became angry. Maybe she wasn't as okay with Takuya being on his own as she thought.
When I got to the top floor of the academy, I immediately looked around me for any groups of rogue Casters. To my surprise, there were none. I expected the final level to house hordes of lackeys I needed to take care of before I could fight the boss, but the reality of it was quite the opposite. There was no one in sight. There was no one out of sight either. I don't think an invisibility Cast existed then.
Surprised, but not upset, I approached the doors of Manami's office once again- not to visit her, but to drive out whoever's taken over so Manami can get her office back and she can argue with Atsuko over who controls the school. I had arrived there with the intent to fight the final battle which was right behind those doors, but I actually had no idea if there was anyone behind the door, or if the encounter with them would be the last. Logic dictates that the big boss room-looking doors on the top floor is where the final opponent is, though... right?
With no guarantees or fucks to give at this point, I decided to not be disappointed no matter the outcome and opened the doors. What I saw behind the doors was not within any possibilities I had thought of.
I pulled the doors open and was greeted with the sight of someone I hadn't seen in a good bit- Ms. Kamiya, in a high-speed clash, trading blows back and forth with none other than...
The science teacher that runs the after-school club I'm a part of.
I wondered where Ms. Kamiya had gone off to, but she had received news of the situation at the school faster than I had, and she decided to hop over here. It was admirable in a way.
Now I knew why there were no lackeys to wipe on this floor. Ms. Kamiya beat us to them, and she started the boss fight without us. I saw no bodies, so I could only hope she didn't kill them. I had faith she wouldn't kill students, even if they might've tried to kill her. She still tries to be the best educator she can.
I honestly wouldn't really call the club teacher a boss though. She's actually a really kind lady who's not obnoxious or aggressive, nor does she abuse any power or authority she has. In fact, she's quite upstanding, as far as I knew. Yet, there she was, blocking Ms. Kamiya's whirlwind cleaver strikes with a knife of her own. The loud clanging of metal filled the area and suppressed the sound of the doors opening, but I could distinctly hear both Ms. Kamiya and my club teacher saying things like "He's mine" and "You can't have him" to each other. Manami and Atsuko were a little further behind me, so they didn't pick up on that. When I turned around to ask them what we should do next though, I received a look from both of them which said "Are you seeing this shit?"
Ms. Kano is the school nurse as well as the resident advisor of the school's "Pharmaceutical Modification Sector" club, which she founded. This "club" focuses its efforts on creating enhancements and improvements to the pharmaceutical industry and modern medicine. That's what it's supposed to be, but since Ms. Kano and I are the only members, we haven't been able to do much. Even if we did have more members, Ms. Kano usually ends up making suspicious medicines for random things instead of doing something productive anyway, many of which I've been the test subject for.
I'm the only member of the Pharmaceutical Modification Sector, but I'm not the first. Word spread from previous members that Ms. Kano was quite eccentric in a scary way and also requested members to take strange medicines such as the ones I did, and no one dared join after that. Well, I did, but only because Ms. Kamiya said I should join a club back during freshman year. I certainly heard warnings about the Pharmaceutical Modification Sector, but I decided not to heed them when I heard the club had zero members. I didn't join because I wasn't going to let a club go under, I joined because a club with no one in it but me and an advisor was the best I was going to get. I joined, and the rest is history. I'm still in the club to this day, I attend the sometimes very quiet meetings, and take a weird pill or medicine here and there. The Pharmaceutical Modification Sector could be a lot worse, but I admit it's a little awkward entering a club room that has "PMS" labeled on the door.
It's a mystery how a club like this is allowed to exist, but management has been pretty shaky at the academy for quite a while so it's not too perplexing.
Manami and Atsuko's expressions asked a question, and I had the answer. I was indeed seeing that shit. Two teachers seriously going in on each other with the intent to kill, one of them being Ms. Kamiya, was a time bomb. The situation needed to be de-escalated quickly or else someone wouldn't see tomorrow.
Ms. Kamiya swung at Ms. Kano with her cleaver using the incredible strength and speed of a Kaiju, and Ms. Kano did the same with a knife. I was surprised to learn that there was another Kaiju so close to me, but there was no denying the unnerving and almost foul aura surrounding Ms. Kano as she relentlessly stabbed at Ms. Kamiya.
Manami and Atsuko didn't say a word, but they signaled me to handle it. They both claim the position of the head chairman, so I think they should be responsible for the teachers employed under them too. I shouldn't even be responsible for them. I'm not responsible for either of them as teachers, I'm only responsible for making sure Ms. Kamiya doesn't kill anyone and making sure she doesn't get killed even though she does just fine herself.
The way I pieced together the puzzle before I went in the room was that for some reason Ms. Kano decided to head this "rebellion" after the broadcasting incident. You don't just end up in such a situation. Perhaps she knows something. So I did the normal thing and asked. "What's happening here?"
I spoke loud enough to be heard over the gnashing of blades. Both of them turned to face me while still attacking each other, and without missing a beat, speak my name at the same time.
While Ms. Kamiya had said my name with surprise and with concern, Ms. Kano said it with relief and with stern confidence. Ms. Kano quickly caught me off guard by jumping to grab my hand faster than I could react and retreated to the side of the room opposite of Ms. Kamiya. Her arms wrapped around me like a snake and she didn't intend to let go even if her life depended on it.
"You can't have Takuya!" she yelled across the room. I was taken aback by Ms. Kano's personality shift but I tried to adjust as fast as I could. I figured that as a Kaiju, Ms. Kano wanted me as a meal and didn't want me the way Ms. Kamiya does, so I didn't sit around and give Ms. Kano any opportunities. I also didn't want anyone to die, so I played the passive-aggressive game.
"You're making things worse." I said to Ms. Kano while still in her grasp, making her look at me with (twisted) innocent confusion. I continued to taunt her as part of my strategy. "Focus." I was hoping she would let me go on her own, as it would be painful for us both if I tried to break free. Fortunately, I was able to distract Ms. Kano, which resulted in her just barely dodging the cleaver thrown at her by Ms. Kamiya.
Ms. Kano reflexively dodged to the front corner of the room. I struggled my way out of her arms while we were midair and her grasp wasn't as firm. Ms. Kano is quite the tight hugger, and I didn't really mind it. Her timing was just the worst.
Somebody here had to be subdued, and I went for Ms. Kano since I was fairly confident that Ms. Kamiya could regain her senses. While Ms. Kamiya dashed across the room to pick her cleaver from the wall, I took my first strike at Ms. Kano.
The first time I used Steel Graze I realized I had more control over the swords than I thought. The idea was to utilize that control and surround her with swords, trapping her in the corner.
But I made an oversight. I overlooked that when in Kaiju mode, flesh becomes resilient and tough, which can't be scratched or pierced by any run-of-the-mill sword. Ms. Kano used her arms and legs to clear the way of swords, a few of which I had to dodge as they flew toward me. "Why are you trying to hurt me Takuya? I've worked hard to be the best I can for you. Can't you see that?" Said Ms. Kano in a dejected and eerie voice.
I did not see that. I had no idea where that came from all of a sudden, but I knew my objective. I began trying to waffle my way out of this. "I didn't before, but I see now."
No I didn't.
My original plan was to use the romantic talk waffling again and hope it works, but doing that while Ms. Kamiya is around would surely make everything catastrophically worse, even if I didn't mean a word of it and I only said those things to save my ass. I also despised that romantic garbage to begin with, and I already exhausted that tactic to the point that there was no more enjoyment to be had from it. I also took into account that Steel Graze was useless against her on its own, which left me with few options. I could reach into a magic hat and hope something comes out, but it was unlikely that I could pull a Cast I've never tried out of my sleeve. Non-Directional Cannon didn't give me much hope either so I was in a pinch, but I took Akua's advice and decided not to enter Focus since I believed I could figure this out on my own. That, and I had another idea.
So I changed the conversation course.
"I see. I see now, Ms. Kano, how hard you've worked to be the best you can for me. You don't have to do all that for me you know."
I still didn't have any idea where I was going with this. It's just that now, I didn't know where I was going with this but in a different direction. My bluffing certainly wasn't going to help figure out if she's behind this or how she's involved, but I put that stuff aside. I could worry about that after the situation was defused. That was the objective. I had no idea what got into Ms. Kano or what she was talking about, or why she was talking about it. I just played along.
"Since you did work that hard for me though, I'll give you a reward," I said irritably as I prepped for my fantastic idea. I wasn't going to accomplish anything with Casts as I was, but I remembered what Ms. Kamiya taught me, and I couldn't believe I forgot. It's incredibly useful to be both Caster and Kaiju. It sucked that I didn't know what would happen because I'd only ever tried a transformation once, but it was the best shot I had.
I screamed due to sudden pain, but I couldn't recognize my own voice. It wasn't really that different, but it was raspier and coarser, like Ms. Kamiya's when she goes into her Kaiju form. My voice was a sign that I didn't mess this up. I couldn't see myself, but I could feel that I was a full body Kaiju. It was... empowering. In a way that Casts hadn't made me feel before.
"But I'll need everybody to take a massive fucking chill pill first, okay?"
[Transformation #02: (Full Body Kaiju) Added to Index.]