His name was Sano Daisuke. He was taller than me and his blazing, long red hair was floating in the wind. I could see his silver grills whenever he smiled. They covered his upper canines. His light green eyes lit up when Toshiko came around to greet him. I was hiding behind Yu, grabbing on to his jacket. Just moments ago, he was scolding both, Toshiko and Kawaguchi about their training methods and how they were treating me. Within that time, the man had introduced himself to me as a friend of Yu’s.
“Ayumi, you should have come to me from the start.”
Yu sighed out loud and gestured for Toshiko and Kawaguchi to leave. I was surprised to see them obeying Yu’s orders and leaving without making any scene.
“Ah, sorry. I should’ve introduced myself too. My name is Moriuchi Ayumi and I am a disciple of Yu’s. Nice to meet you.”
I turned around to face Sano. He gave me a smile in return.
“I know. I have heard a lot about you from Yu.”
“Yu talks about me?”
It took me by surprise. I turned back to face Yu who just shrugged his shoulders.
“Occasionally. So, what’s the issue? It’s about your weapon, isn’t it?”
Sano excused himself and left us to not be in the way. I extended my hammer and swung it around.
“The issue is that whenever Xykoss fuses with my hammer, it gets too damn heavy. Like really heavy.”
He grabbed my hammer from my hand and looked it up and down.
“You sure? Like I said it will be really heavy.”
Yu didn’t answer and just gave me a blank stare.
“Don’t complain afterwards. Xykoss. Devour those who stand in thy way.”
Nothing happened. I looked around. Yu was still holding my hammer in his hand.
“I see what you mean.”
My mouth dropped open.
“Wait! Don’t tell me that you are lifting it right now while Xykoss is fused with it.”
“Yes, I am. Do you suffer from short term memory loss? You were the one who called him out.”
“Yes, but it usually drops immediately to the ground.”
“Well, I’m not as weak as you are. But I had to activate my Paroxys too.”
The moment he mentioned it, I could see sparks flying off his arm that was holding Xykoss.
“You could really not figure this out by yourself?”
I shook my head. Yu gestured with his finger to follow him and we ended up in one of the training rooms again.
“Are you familiar with lifting?”
I scratched my head.
“No, not really.”
He grabbed one of the barbells and tossed it over to me. I caught it with both of my hands.
“Are you able to lift that?”
I tried it and it was easy.
“Of course, you can. It weighs only 4kg. Now, if I would tell you to lift 50kg, would you be able to do it? No, you wouldn’t. You start off with lifting an appropriate amount of weight and slowly work up the scale.”
I slowly nodded my head.
“That makes sense but what does it have to do with Xykoss.”
“Why are you trying to lift the entirety of that monster of yours? He probably weighs around 400kg.”
“Well, what else am I supposed to do? Only lift one part of him?”
Yu didn’t have to tell me the answer. I wanted to slap myself. The answer was right in front of my face. It was so obvious. Why didn’t I notice?
“Xykoss. Devour those who stand in thy way.”
He came out with a roar. I needed for him to split. If that was possible. Like the times where I borrowed his eye or legs.
“Xykoss. Listen here, buddy. I need you to split, like into two. Can you do that?”
My voice was a bit shaky, but I wasn’t scared of him as much anymore these days. He came closer and gave me a growl.
My mouth dropped open a second time. It was the very first time I heard his voice as clearly. I looked over to Yu who seemed to be confused by my sudden excitement. Xykoss split into two, as I told him to do. A bigger version and a smaller version. A much smaller version. I swung my hammer towards it, and they fused together while the bigger version remained. My fingers were crossed. My hammer didn’t fall down nor was it too heavy for me to hold.
“Yu, are you seeing this?”
I had the biggest smile on my face.
“Yeah. It’s perfect for you. Xykoss is still available but you’re strong enough to defend yourself now. Congrats.”
He told me to resume my training with Toshiko and Kawaguchi even if I hated it. It would benefit me in the end. So, I did. A week had gone by, and I was slowly getting used to fighting with Xykoss and my hammer in conjunction. I was finally able to make use out of the second option too, the claw. With Xykoss’ eye, it was a flawless combination. At least that was what I thought, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what was about to happen. My uselessness would be brought to light again.
“Moriuchi, wait up.”
Someone called out to me from behind and I turned around to see who it was. I was surprised to see Uehara walking towards me. What was she doing in our school building? Recruiting new Outliners? Or maybe she knew someone and was visiting them, but I doubt it. And why the hell was she calling out to me? I wanted to run away but I stopped myself.
“Can I help you? Are you lost by any chance?”
I showed her a nervous smile and tried my best to sound nice.
“Are you in your right mind? Do you really think I would get lost? It’s about yesterday.”
She stopped right in front of my face. Well, not really. I should say in front of my chest because she is that short.
“What about yesterday?”
“I’m talking about the mission that you completed with some other Outliners. I heard that you did a good job. You managed to arrest the group that was behind the illegal Paroxys fight club.”
I slowly nodded my head and looked around. Was this a prank? Were there hidden cameras around me? Why else, out of all people, would Uehara praise me?
“I’m being serious. Stop looking around.”
My body twitched after hearing her raising her voice to get my attention back. I quietly nodded my head again. I didn’t know what to say. Her hood would always cover most of her face, so I couldn’t tell what she was thinking or how she was feeling.
“I also heard that you got a weapon and are training with Toshiko and Kawaguchi at the moment.”
“Yes, ma’am. I was just on my way to Toshiko.”
I said without thinking twice and instantly regretted it. There was a short but deadly silence between us. I knew that she was the same age as Yu, but it just came out of my mouth. My spit got stuck in my throat while trying to swallow it and I started coughing. She ignored the whole scene and decided to walk past me. A sigh from her told me that she hadn’t completely left.
“Look, let’s put the past behind us, where it belongs. You’re not the only one who has regrets about that day.”
I wanted to say something back, but she carried on walking, without looking back. I guess, she was not a bad person, after all. It was nice to know that we as Outliners think the same. Some distant commotion broke my train of thoughts. The sound of windows shattering was coming from different directions. I took a few steps towards it but heard someone running in the hallway. Uehara came back sprinting around the corner.
“Moriuchi, call out your Paroxys now!”
I was taken back by the urgency of her voice and grabbed my earring instinctively. But before I could utter a word, I looked outside the window. Day had become night within seconds. The sun was gone and so was the sky. It felt like the world was about to end. The windows vibrated and shattered into million pieces. They flew towards me, but I didn’t dodge them. I couldn’t move an inch. I was too dumbstruck of what I was seeing. Was it real? But how? The imminent danger I was in was too close of a reality. The walls crumbled and a big chunk was ripped out of the school building like nothing. I was certain that I was on the sixth floor, but I wasn’t even able to see its face. Cracks appeared underneath my feet, and I stumbled back. All of it happened too quickly for me to process and without a warning it was coming back. The hand of a giant, who was responsible for the missing part in our school building
Uehara pushed me aside and I fell to the ground. That was when I finally realised in what kind of situation we were in. It was like my ears had been muted but now I could clearly hear the screams and panicked noises that were coming from everywhere.
“Pull yourself together!”
Uehara shouted and pulled her hood back.
“This is not a joke. Get ready to fight!”
Her purple, short hair was flowing in the wind while her dark brown eyes were fiercely looking into mine. The hand had stopped. I quickly stood up and took a deep breath.
“Xykoss. Devour those who stand in thy way.”
I swung my hammer and Xykoss growled behind me. He knew what we were up against. And so did I.
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