Chapter 8:

A Disheartened Spirit


It was Friday night. For the first time in two days, Amanda wasn’t there with Yukio at his apartment. He missed her, even though he couldn’t quite admit it to himself.

Onee-chan called him just a while ago, and this time he had to pick it up. She wasn’t her usual self at first; which was to be expected, considering how he was avoiding her lately. After scolding him for at least an hour, she finally revealed that his aunt also wanted him to come back to Fujimi, to see how he was doing. Although she conveniently forgot to tell how his uncle felt about that.

It’s not like Yukio absolutely didn’t want to go. But the truth was, he was supposed to meet Tetsuya-san and others on Sunday, likely to determine his future in Minus Plus. Amanda already told him about ‘Apprentices’, and that seemed to be the most viable option. After all, if he couldn’t use his powers, he was no different than a normal human.

A normal human…

If he was that, then there would’ve been no reason for him to transfer here.

He said sorry to Onee-san like a thousand times, and promised her that he would definitely be there the next time she was in Japan. He obviously couldn’t tell her the reason why he couldn’t make it, but he didn’t want to lie either. So he just told her there was something really important.

Now that I think about it, she surely thought I have a date…

She has such high hopes for me, he thought, his teary eyes sparkling.

There was no school tomorrow, so he was thinking of pulling an all-nighter and covering everything he had missed because of the transfer. But considering the state of his mind, he had given up on that. I will just have to keep up the pace, and not let the ‘Minus Plus’ stuff interfere with my studies, he thought while taking a big yawn.

As he closed his study books and slowly lied down, a deep sleep creeped up on him.

“Hey! Be careful! Don’t drop it!”

It was absolutely not what Yukio was expecting when Amanda suddenly called him and said that Tetsuya-san wanted to see him today. He thought she didn’t want to wait till Sunday, and start his training as soon as possible…

But, his training, or whatever it was supposed to be, was still scheduled to be tomorrow. Today, for some reason, Minus Plus was permanently shifting its base to Katori, Chiba. And so, as a member, it was his responsibility to help the others in moving the furniture and luggage.

And it was the strangest shifting he had ever seen.

If it was something small, manageable by a single person, someone just picked it up and disappeared. For the big furniture, he was helping Amanda.

Thankfully it didn’t take too long. Once they were done, Amanda took him to a nearby park and brought two cans of soda.

“Pretty energetic today, huh?” Yukio said sarcastically after sitting on a bench.

“What?” It took her a few moments to get what he was hinting at.

“Oh come on! Give me a break! Do you know how much pressure I was in? Kichiro-san made me the supervisor, told me I have to personally make sure everything is done properly. Do you think I was slacking when I wasn’t with you? I was with the other Apprentices.”


“Yeah,” she sat down beside him, “The moving was done by them. Other than you and I, of course.”

They were silent for a moment. Then Yukio asked, “When would I meet them?”

“When you’re officially one of them, of course,” She said, smiling, “Thanks for coming today on such short notice. You’re already a part of us, don’t forget that. Cheers.”

They clinked the cans.

For a few seconds, they were both silent, sipping at their cans. Then Amanda tossed the can at a dustbin and stretched her arms.

“Okay, how about now we-”

Amanda was cut short as someone suddenly appeared in front of them.

It was Nishimiya, someone Yukio met on their Ohara base. His eyes were abnormally large, his face contorted beyond belief.

And he was covered in blood.

“COME TO OHARA NOW!” He shouted, and disappeared.

Amanda was quickly on her feet.

“Yukio, I need to go. Just stay right here-”

He had instinctively grabbed her hand. And the next moment, they were at their former base in Ohara.

Yukio couldn’t help but observe everything around him, motionlessly.

It was a bloodbath.

The base was a battlefield, where some known and some unknown faces were fighting with a group of faceless beings.

Suddenly someone appeared in front of them. Before he could react, Amanda pushed him aside. And suddenly, he was alone.

He somehow managed to keep his footing, as he saw Nishimiya was choking a man in dark, leather clothes from behind. The enemy had his face covered with a black mask, with his abnormally small eyes being the only visible part. Just when he thought Nishimiya has won, the enemy was free with a violent jerk. And suddenly, Nishimiya was the one being choked. Then they both disappeared.

The next moment, he saw the two of them appear on the rooftop in front of him, violently slicing at each other with knives. When one of the fighters disappeared, the other one disappeared as well.

Or it could’ve been two different people.

What Yukio was witnessing was the strangest kind of fight he had ever seen. A fight where guns were useless, and the one who was quicker in appearing behind their opponents, was the victor.

A man suddenly ran past him with a violent cry, grabbing a long Katana. Midway, he disappeared, and appeared behind a Black Mask the next moment; the Katana jutting out from his opponent’s belly.

The commotion made him run and hide behind a pillar. That was when he saw Sugi.

Keeping his back to a wall, Sugi was standing with a strange pose. His right hand was extended, palm downwards, and the left hand was supporting it.

As Yukio was thinking of calling him, a Black Mask appeared in front of Sugi, waving a large sword. He disappeared before the blade could reach him, and appeared behind the enemy, his posture intact.

And suddenly the enemy was gone.

Yukio was trying to figure out what happened, when someone appeared behind him and shouted.

He didn’t hear the words, or even if he did, their meaning was lost to him. He didn’t know whether it was an ally or an enemy. And it didn’t matter.

Because his legs were already moving against his will.

He ran through the open area, ducked a few people, and hid behind a tree at a corner.

His eyes kept following the horror that was unfolding in front of him.


Severed limbs.

Slashed throats.

More screams.

A Black Mask suddenly appeared in front of him, a bloody knife in one hand. But he was quickly followed by someone, who grabbed his body and hacked their knife at his throat. Some of the blood sprayed into Yukio’s face, before both of them disappeared.

He stumbled, and the next moment his knees gave away.

As he fell, he saw a pair of fighters falling from the sky, disappearing just before hitting the ground. After his head hit the ground, his consciousness slowly started fading, a murky substance covering his eyes. Before they were completely covered, he saw another pair charge at each other, dancing on the blood-soaked ground.

There was also a Black Mask lying nearby, a knife jutting from his chest.

The last thing he saw was the face beneath the mask, looking at him with unimaginable malice.

When Yukio’s consciousness returned, he half expected to be back at his bed, wrapped in the light of Saturday morning. No, he prayed. Prayed that the massacre he had seen was just a nightmare.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

He was alone, inside a small room that was illuminated with a dim light. There was no sound anywhere either, except the muffled sounds of transportation. He was in a city, but he had no idea where. His phone wasn’t with him, and the room didn’t have a window.

He tried to move, and felt a sharp pain in his head.

As he touched his head, he found it was covered in a thick layer of bandage.

The white bed and linen, coupled with the small desk beside him, indicated that it was some kind of hospital room. He slowly dragged himself towards the door, and discovered that it was locked from outside.

Suddenly his head started throbbing in pain, along with his heart. The image of an unmasked, sinister face flashed before his eyes.

What if he was captured by the enemies?


He started banging on the door with whatever power he had left. With every bang, images from the fight started coming back to him.

Screams. Blood. Death.

At one point, he just couldn’t tolerate it anymore. When he was about to give up, someone appeared behind him.

It was Kichiro Sakue.

“It was an ambush. We’re not clear what their objective was, but considering all of them appeared at Tetsuya-san’s room, it was either capturing or killing her. She was already in Chiba, so that plan was unsuccessful. Since we didn’t have enough veteran Rangers there, it turned out to be… what you saw today.”


Kichiro-san looked at Yukio with an expressionless face.

“Amanda didn’t tell you?”

“No. Where is she? What happened to her?”

The room he found himself in was in Kichiro-san’s clinic, in Tokyo. After she gave him medicine, and told him Amanda was safe, he felt a bit better. She wanted him to stay there, observe him a bit more, make sure he doesn’t have a concussion. Considering his physical condition, he had to oblige.

With his head throbbing with pain, he listened as Kichiro-san explained that once the Apprentices finished their training, they were given one of two positions: Ranger or Navigator. Rangers were the people responsible for fighting, people with fast Jumping speed and faster reflexes.

“You can think of the Navigators as spies. Their job is scouting, gathering information, and helping the Rangers before an expedition. One of them failed today, and you saw the result.”

They were both silent for a few moments.

“What were they… they looked like…”

“Animals,” Kichiro-san said, “That’s because they were human-animal hybrids. The soldiers of the Tiztaan Empire, created by the King himself.”

According to Kichiro-san, the enemies were from the Planet Tiztaan, whose inhabitants are ruled by the Tiztaan Empire. Yeah, the planet was named after the empire. Its kings and high councils are all Tracts, and their main objective is expansion. They already have a couple of other worlds under their rule. Apparently they have clashed with Earth before as well, but Kichiro-san wasn’t really forthcoming with the details.

It seemed she didn’t trust him enough.


Yukio looked at her quizzically.

“I don’t think it was the sort of welcome you expected. Six people died today, and if Sugi didn’t find you and brought you here in time, it would’ve been Seven. So, do you still want to be a part of Minus Plus?”

The truth was, he wasn’t so sure anymore.

“What happened to him? Last I saw he was…”

He didn’t know how to describe what he saw.

“He’s fine,” she said in the same emotionless voice she was using all this time, “Just exhausted. He has a… special power. That’s what you saw today. He’s in another room, still sleeping.”

“What about Amanda?” Yukio asked, “Is she here as well? Can I see her?”

“She’s not here,” Kichiro-san looked at him with narrow eyes, “This is just a small clinic my family runs. Amanda and other injured people have been shifted to Kurashiki. One of us is a doctor there.”

Before he could say anything else, Kichiro-san disappeared. The next moment she was back, with a phone in her hand.

“I believe this is yours. You must be hungry, I’m making arrangements for dinner. If you need anything, just give me a call.” She extended a card towards him.

“Oh, by the way,” She asked as Yukio took the card, “Are you vegetarian?”

After Kichiro-san disappeared, Yukio just sat on the bed, his back at the wall. A different image was currently stuck in his mind.

An image of a boy, lying in front of him. His body covered in bruises, a pool of blood around his head.

A smiling face.

Yukio shut his eyes.

I wish I could use my powers, he thought, his fists clenched.