After two weeks of training, we were dispatched for our very first mission. The kidnappings and murders had been continuing on and we were told to help with the investigation. The group consisted of a dozen of Rookies and two Juniors who held authority over us. Our destination was a mall in Saitama. We arrived during the evening and were told to split up to cover more ground. Our goal was to find witnesses who might have seen any shady or suspicious looking people during the last couple of days. According to one of the Juniors, a woman in her twenties went missing in this area. Another report said that there might be an Inliner wandering around too. They had narrowed it down to this mall. Ohta and Sayuri joined me, and we started looking around and asking people if they had seen anything strange lately. Not many people were around. The shops in the mall were closing up as well for the day.
“Maybe we should go by ourselves before all of the people go home.”
“That’s a good idea. Let’s stay on the second floor, just in case something happens.”
I suggested that Ohta should stay with Sayuri and I would take a quick round by myself. Ohta agreed with me, but Sayuri wasn’t too happy about it. I convinced her that I’ll be very careful and would immediately come back to them if something goes wrong. Sayuri gave in and I went off on my own. There were not many people around anymore. The shutters to the shops were put down as well. It got quieter and quieter around me. My footsteps were echoing in the empty hallway. A sudden, loud bang interrupted the silence. The sound came from the same floor I was on. I ran towards it and turned the corner. A grey cloud of smoke was shielding my view. I couldn’t make anything out. I looked around to see if anyone else was around. Sayuri and Ohta had to be here somewhere. But instead, I saw a guy sitting not too far from me on a bench. I walked over to him in a hurry.
“I’m sorry but you have to leave the mall. Right now.”
He was reading a book and completely ignored my existence. I grabbed him by his arm, and he finally looked in my direction. Our eyes met.
“I’m looking for someone.”
“Sorry but you have to go for now. I’ll try my best and get everyone out of this mall, including the person you are looking for.”
He slowly stood up and gave me a smile.
“You promise you find the person I am looking for?”
“Yes. Yes, I promise. Now, leave.”
I shoved him in front of me and in the direction of the stairs. A scream interrupted the silence again, followed by another bang. I let go of the guy and turned around. I knew that voice.
“Your Paroxys is really nasty.”
Someone whispered into my ear. It was the guy who was standing behind me. In shock, I quickly turned my head, but he was gone. No trace was left of him. I vigorously shook my head and told myself that I would worry about that guy later. The smoke was still there but it was slowly dispersing. I could hear footsteps coming towards me. Whoever it was, they were running. Before I could say anything, I was tackled to the ground. It was one of the Juniors. If I remember correctly, his name was Ueto Goro.
“We are being attacked. Stay close to the ground. Don’t make any hasty moves.”
I nodded my head. My hands were shaking. I had instinctively grabbed my tensha earring.
“Where are the others?”
“I don’t know the location of everyone, but some Rookies have taken refuge in one of the shops. Follow me.”
We both stood up at the same time and ran towards one of the shops. The shutters were broken, and the lights were turned off. I saw a group of people and right in the middle of them was Ohta. Sayuri was sitting next to him. Her hands were covered in blood.
“What the hell happened?”
I rushed over to them and saw the source of the blood. Ohta’s arm was broken in several places. He was also bleeding from his head. His breathing was shallow. I dropped to my knees. What was I supposed to do in a situation like this?
“Ayumi, the bleeding isn’t stopping.”
Sayrui’s small hands were shaking as she was pouring the water from her chipped bowl on to Ohta’s injuries. Tears were running down her cheeks.
“It’s okay. He is still alive. You are doing great. We just have to get him out of here.”
I placed my hand on her shoulder. My mind was blank. The smell of blood was strong.
“No, we won’t be able to. Whoever we are up against, they trapped us here. It’s not going to be that easy.”
After Ueto-san finished his sentence, a Rookie next to me let out an agonising scream. Blood was running down from her forehead. A chopstick had pierced her skull. You could see that it went in deep. She was dead. Her body fell over and landed on the floor with a thump. The other Rookies started screaming too. I was speechless. And not too long after, one after the other were getting hit by chopsticks. They would appear out of nowhere and hit them in the middle of the forehead.
“We have to get away. Leave the wounded behind.”
Ueto-san was serious. Without any hesitation, the Rookies that were still alive ran out of the shop. I grabbed him by his arm and refused to let go.
“Are you kidding me? Tell me that what you just said is a sick joke.”
Sayuri hadn’t stopped healing Ohta either.
“We have no other choice.”
“Yes, we do. We fight back.”
The Rookies that had run away had come back and were accompanied by the rest of our group.
“Haruto, cover us with your Paroxys.”
It was the second Junior who was giving out instructions to everyone.
“Yes, sir. Ninoni. Protecteth the halcyon and 'radicate the disturbance.”
His name was Takaki Masaharu. He was tall and muscular. His head was shaved. Confidence was behind every word he said.
“Nina, tell me another foreshadowing about me.”
“Okay. Melum. Showeth me what those can't seeth.”
The little meerkat jumped out of her hair. I noticed that it only had two petals left. Nina picked one and wrote his name on it. She then folded it several times to then swallow it whole. Her dark green eyes lit up for a second. She looked worried but Takaki-san’s blue eyes were resolute.
“You will die.”
“I see. It still hasn’t changed. Listen up. We spotted two enemies, but I am assuming that there might be more. We have lost five Rookies on our side, so that makes it a battle of nine against two, if we are lucky. The odds are against us if we look at the sheer power difference. So, here is what I propose.”
I looked over to Ohta to see how he was doing. His breathing was getting weaker and weaker by the minute. We had to hurry up. Haruto was struggling as well. According to him, the enemy was still attacking us but thanks to his Paroxys, they were not able to land any hits.
“Ninoni will not last much longer.”
You could tell that it was straining Haruto’s energy. We all agreed to Takaki-san’s plan. He warned us that the enemy was not going to let us go alive. It was either kill or get killed. It had become a game of survival. He took out an old coin out of his trousers’ pocket and flipped it in the air.
“Sideo. Rewind time and bringeth back what once was lost.”
A dark blue light engulfed us, and we disappeared from the shop.
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