Chapter 7:

Miho's Training

Soul Weapon

April 21st, 3184
Saturday - Noon

Forgetting to set an alarm—and since it’s the weekend, Kiyoko doesn’t wake me—I woke up at 11 a.m., rushing into the woods. Jumping over logs, ducking over branches, and after hopping over a small river, I make it to an open grassy area encircled by trees. As far as the eye can see, it’s nothing but woods. If you were dropped off here without any warning, you’d think you were a dozen kilometers away from any sort of town or city.

However, as I approached the open area, sweat dripping down my face, I saw a strange sight. Miho isn’t here. I make my way to the center of the glade and scan the area. I pause, listening for any kind of movement when I suddenly hear something from my right. Quickly I spin around to hear a familiar voice.

“Hey, what’s up Kura,” Miho waves, holding a half eaten sandwich in his hands, “Whatcha sweaty for?”

Dumbfounded, I take a few steps forward.

“What are you doing,” I exclaim.

“What,” he responds with food in his mouth, “I figured you’d show up late so I did too. Sorry for worrying you!”

Miho laughs as he rubs the back of his head.

“Anyway, are we going to train or what,” He exclaims, shoving the rest of the sandwich in his mouth.

With a sigh I snap at him.

“Alright, hurry up before I change my mind”

“Yay,” Miho exclaims as he runs to the center, “So what are we doing? Cuts, parries, blocks, energy blasts, explosions—”

“Hey, hey, hey,” I cut him off, “Calm down, we’ll just do a little sparing for now, alright? You can use your first Gear, right?”

“Of course,” Miho nods his head.

I nod my head in response as we both take a few steps back.

“On my count, we activate our first Gears, okay,” I say as I get myself in a readied position, “Three! Two! One!”

Simultaneously, we both exclaim.

“First Gear!”

A dark scythe starts to form in my right hand as a golden and white sword appears in Miho’s left. Despite being brothers, our Soul Gears are basically opposites. It’s not quite known if Soul Gears are genetic as studies have shown certain bloodlines carrying traits of similar Gears while others have little to no relation. Since the students at this academy have been raised here since near birth, no one knows what weapons their parents have to compare.

With our weapons drawn, I wait for Miho’s approach. We both slowly circle around each other until Miho dashes toward me. Swinging his sword high in the air as he slashes it down, I pull my scythe toward me and block the attack.

Staying on the defence, I continue to block all of Miho’s attacks he throws at me with relative ease. Despite him being a couple years younger than me, he could seriously compete with quite a few of the students in my grade level if he trained just a little bit more.

As Miho attacks with a vertical swing, I grip my scythe’s handle closer to the blade, pulling it toward me. As his sword makes contact with the side of my scythe, I twist it, locking our blades together as I spin, forcing Miho’s sword out of his hand. It flies across the field a few feet out and lands, blade first into the ground.

Miho stumbles as I face him.

“Woah,” he exclaims, “That’s so cool!”

“Nah, it’s nothing,” I shrug my shoulders, “Sometimes you just have to get a little creative.”

“Just like what you did in the fight with Ena,” Miho reminds me as he jogs over to his weapon.

I nod my head in agreement as we get back into a battle position.

“Speaking of which,” Miho says, “That knight guy; pretty scary, huh?”

“Yeah,” I say, half paying attention as I dash toward him.

This time, taking the offence, I swing my scythe horizontally as Miho awkwardly blocks it.

“Well, I did some thinking,” he grunts as he defends himself from my attacks, “I kind of want to talk to him.”

I pause in my spot, our blades locked. I speak.

“What? No,” I firmly say, “You’re not talking to him. I don’t know what his deal is but it’s not happening. He tried to kill us.”

“Aw, come on,” Miho whines, “It’s because we don’t know what his deal is why I want to talk to him. For all we know he could be a good guy.”

“Or he’s just a psychopath that likes to kill kids,” I retort, pushing Miho back with my blade.

We continue to trade blows as neither one of us speaks. Both of us can tell the other wants to say something, but neither will continue our thoughts.

I take an overhead swing as Miho blocks it above his head. Suddenly, he grabs the handle of my scythe and pulls his sword away. Pushing forward, he slices my stomach as he spins, knocking me down with his elbow. With an unexpectedly powerful blow, the wind gets knocked out of me. Letting go of my scythe, I crash to the ground as Miho stands on top of me holding his sword in his left hand and my scythe in his right hand.

“There’s always two sides to every story, right? That’s what you taught me,” Miho says, pausing as he breathes heavily, “You’re not a murderer. But you did kill someone.”

Miho swings and plants my scythe into the ground, letting it go as he takes a few steps backward.

“Enough,” I grunt, marching my way back up as I grab hold of my scythe, “Let’s just continue the training.”

A few hours passed by as we did sparring matches, offence and defence practice, and general training. Overall, Miho is definitely stronger than anyone else around his age, but it makes sense why he isn’t able to keep up with students around mine. He’s quite sporadic and doesn’t have much of a real fighting style to fight with. But then again, that unpredictability is what makes him a powerful foe.

Without bringing any food—rather, without me bringing any food, I’m extremely hungry after the hours of fighting and training. Trudging through the woods and Miho slipping in the small river, we made it back to the school grounds. After getting a bite to eat at one of the restaurants on campus, we parted ways as I headed back to my dorm. Now, around 5 p.m., I’d usually either study or play video games on weekends. However, when I open my dorm room’s door, I’m met with an unexpected sight.

Lying in my bed rests Kiyoko in nothing but her pink underwear. Startled, I nearly gasped as I forced my mouth shut. I creep over to the bed, not wanting to accidentally wake her up and scare her. However, upon approaching, I noticed something. Scanning her body, I realize it’s rather well… developed, to put it mildly. Over the couple years that I’ve known her, I never really thought of her like this. She was always just someone who was there for me.

Growing up, even before what I had done, I was never really a social kid. But at one point, I did have many friends. However, out of nowhere, they suddenly abandoned me. Since then, I had stopped caring about my appearance, I let my hair grow, and overall, I just didn’t care for my life at all. Then the incident happened. And it got worse. But when I was at my lowest, Kiyoko lent me a helping hand. Despite what I looked like and what I did, she was still there for me.

For months, I questioned why she was my friend—and even to this day, I still don’t know why. But all I know is that she didn’t care about any of that. All she wanted was for me to get better. And thanks to her, I did. To be honest, part of me only saw her as a stand-in parental figure. But seeing her, here, lying in my bed in her underwear… I don’t know. Maybe there’s something more. Or maybe I really am just a pervert.

I crouch down and shake Kiyoko’s shoulder gently. After a few seconds, her eyes started to flutter as she opened them in a dazed state.

“Whaa,” Kiyoko mumbles, “What time is it?”

“Like, five or something,” I reply.


Realizing what’s happening, Kiyoko shoots up and sits on her knees. She closes her eyes and bows deep as she speaks.

“I’m so sorry,” Kiyoko exclaimed, “I was waiting for you here when I must have gotten tired and accidentally fell asleep!”

“Woah, woah, it’s okay,” I reassured, “But if it was an accident, then why…”

My sentence trailed off as Kiyoko opened her eyes to only just realize that she was in her underwear. Like last time something similar to this happened, she screamed.

“What did you do to me,” Kiyoko yelled at the top of her lungs, “Trying to take advantage of a vulnerable girl, you really are just a pervert!”

“W-Wait,” I exclaim, holding my hands up.

With no hesitation, she smacks me upside the head and darts into the bathroom.

“And to think that I apologized to you,” Kiyoko exclaimed from the other room.

After a moment, she exited the bathroom with her school uniform on. Not even looking in my direction, Kiyoko headed straight for the front door, about to leave.

“Wait,” I exclaim, “I didn’t do that!”

Kiyoko whips her head to me.

“Yeah, 'cause a ghost took off my clothes?”

“No, I’m serious,” I plead, “Is your APM acting up again or something?”

With a hand on the doorknob, she stops to think.

“No,” Kiyoko says, thinking, “Dr. Mundoch replaced it with a new one. There’s no way that it could have the exact same issues as the last.”

“There’s always a chance,” I suggest as I slowly walk toward Kiyoko.

Kiyoko, still in thought, stands still as she slowly takes her hand off the doorknob.

“I swear if this is just you trying to cover up what you did—”

“It’s not,” I defend, “I came into my room and saw you lying in my bed in your underwear. Am I really the type of guy to do this?”

Without a word, Kiyoko simply stares at me.

“Okay,” I blurted out, “If I did take off your clothes, where are they?”

I turn around and scan the room. Her supposed clothes are nowhere to be found.

“Fine,” Kiyoko sighs, “But this is still the second time you’ve seen me in my underwear!”

“You see me in mine almost every day!”

"That's different!”

I burst out laughing as Kiyoko pouts, her face growing red.

“Anyway,” I calm myself down, “ We should head over to Dr. Mundoch’s lab again on Monday before class to see what's going on with it.

Kiyoko nods her head in agreement.

“Also,” I continued, “What were you doing in here to begin with?”

“Oh, right,” Kiyoko looks down, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to you about it at some other point.”

She scans my body, noticing my sweat and blood stained clothes.

“You seem to be tired anyway,” Kiyoko continues, “I wouldn’t want to bother you with more stuff.”

Kiyoko turns away and grabs the doorknob once more.

“No, wait,” I say as I grab her arm, “We’re not doing this again.”

Surprised, she looks at my hand then at my face. Both of us keep our eyes locked, neither of us wanting to break. We stand there with my grip tight around her arm until she shakes it off.

“Okay, fine,” she exclaims, “I’ll tell you what’s going on.”

With wide eyes, I’m ready to pay attention to what she’s about to say, but suddenly, she makes a face.

“But first, please go take a shower,” Kiyoko asks as she plugs her nose, “You look and smell awful.”

After about 15 minutes, I come out of the bathroom with a clean change of clothes. With my hair still wet, I scrub it with a towel.

“So,” I say, “What’s the matter? You seem to have been acting weird lately.”

Throwing the towel in my laundry bin, I sit down on my bed as Kiyoko sits in my desk chair wearing more casual clothing—a pale yellow hoodie and tights. She must have changed her clothing with her APM while I was in the bathroom since she had decided to stay here.

“Okay,” Kiyoko mutters, fiddling with her hands, “I wanted to tell you something, but I’ve been kind of scared to.”

“It’s okay, Kiyoko,” I reassured her as I leaned over and placed my hand on her leg, “There’s nothing you can say that will change the way I think about you.”

“I know,” she says, “It’s just that, like… It’s hard to explain... Well—here.”

After she finished speaking, Kiyoko stood up and walked to the center of the room.

“Soul Gear: Animal Change” Kiyoko states.

Suddenly, from within the ground, a deep black circle appears. As it looks as though it's breathing on the ground, a black figure starts to grow out of it. From within the portal, the figure grows more and more until it’s about two feet taller than Kiyoko. The figure starts to define its shape as colour starts to appear across its body. Once it’s transformation is finished, all that’s left is something almost unexplainable.

A humanoid figure composed of countless different animals stood towering beside Kiyoko. With a single horn on its dragon-like head, the creature was blue in fur except for its thin stomach and chest, which were coloured yellow. Its thin tail, with a pinch of hair on the end, wagged in ticks. Despite the rest of its appearance, it’s hands were relatively human-like, except covered in fur with four fingers on each hand. The thing stood tall on two large hooved feet that looked like they could stomp through the ground with ease.

In complete shock, I stand up and frantically look toward Kiyoko. Immediately noticing my shock, she stands to my side and grabs my arm.

“What is that thing,” I exclaim, “That can’t be one of your Gears.”

“It’s okay, she’s nothing to be afraid of. And you’re right,” Kiyoko says, comforting me as she continues holding my arm, “This isn’t any of my Gears. It’s my Soul Gear itself. Her name is Mei.”

Completely at a loss of what to say, I only manage to get a few unintelligible words out as I stare at the creature—Mei, that stands before us. Kiyoko’s Soul Gear? We were taught that our Soul Gears have a mental representation that only advanced users can learn to communicate with. Whatever form the Soul Gear takes depends on the individual. That easily explains whatever I’m looking at, but for a Soul Gear to exist physically is just… impossible.

“Since when did—I…” I mutter, “I’m sorry, hi?”

“Hello,” Mei replies with a soft, feminine voice as she bows, “It’s nice to meet you. I didn’t mean to startle you. This is what we were worried about.”

Loosening up, Kiyoko lets go of my arm and takes a step away.

“How long could you do… this for,” I ask.

“Honestly, as long as I can remember,” Kiyoko replies, “I’ve always been able to communicate with Mei—so much that we even share each other’s thoughts when she's sealed.”

“What,” I say, baffled, “Aren’t only, like, advanced users able to go that far?”

Both Kiyoko and Mei nod their heads.

“Even still, I was always able to take it even a step further from that and bring Mei to the real world. You know how every kid has an imaginary friend?,” Kiyoko looks down embarrassed, “She was basically mine. Except, not imaginary.”

Kiyoko looked up to Mei as they smiled at each other.

“Hold on as second,” I say as Kiyoko looks a little worried for what I’m about to say, “You’re able to do all this, but you can’t go into any of your Gears? Was that a lie?”

“No, no! I really couldn’t,” Kiyoko exclaimed frantically.

“You couldn’t,” I repeat.

“Yeah,” Kiyoko looks down, “Up until recently, all I could do was communicate with Mei. But now, I’m able to finally use my First Gear!”

As she returned her gaze to me, Kiyoko’s face lit up. I was so distracted with all the technicalities that I didn’t even stop to think about the achievements she’s made.

“I… I’m sorry, that’s all just—You’re amazing!”

Kiyoko stands, looking slightly embarrassed as she fiddles with her hands, yet looking like she’s about to burst from glee.

“Come here,” I say, pulling Kiyoko in for a hug.

She quickly wraps her arms around me as she practically jumps from excitement. She almost pushes me away as backs up.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know why, but I’m just really happy right now.”

“No, you should be,” I glanced at Mei, “It’s crazy you have such a connection with your Soul Gear. But how about you show me what your First Gear is like.”

“What,” Kiyoko exclaims, growing silent, “No, no! First of all, it’s too late to do anything and you're in no shape to fight, and secondly… I want to show you when I face off against you in the tournament!”

Kiyoko sternly points at me as if she’s challenging me to a battle.

“Oh, is that so,” I smirk, “You just unlocked it, you sure you don’t need any help or training?”

“Nah, I’ll be okay. And besides,” Kiyoko says as she points her thumb at Mai, “I’ve got Mei to help me. She’d know her own power best.”

“Ah, right,” I slowly nod my head.

After a moment of silence between the three of us, Mai speaks up.

“If you don’t mind, Kiyo, would it be fine if I get some rest?”


“Oh, sorry! Of course,” Kiyoko apologizes.

Kiyoko gives Mai a quick hug as I give her an awkward wave. Taking a couple steps back, Kiyoko then speaks.

“Soul Return: Animal Transformation!"

The black hole reappears in the ground as Mai starts to melt back inside of it until after a moment, not a trace of her or the hole remains. The two of us remain standing in silence, not too sure what to say next.

“Well it’s getting—”

“Hey, uh,” I say, cutting Kiyoko off, “Wanna watch a movie?”

I point my thumb to my bed that sits across the room from a medium sized TV. Kiyoko looks from the bed, to the tv, and finally to me. Kiyoko stands with her arms crossed for a moment in thought.

“Well, it is the weekend, so… Yeah,” she smiles, “Sounds fun!”

Using my APM, I change into my pajamas as Kiyoko jumps onto my bed. After deciding what movie to watch, I grab some popcorn and we lay side by side. Our eyes glued to the movie, I lose track of time and eventually fall into a deep sleep.