Chapter 5:

Vol. 1 ☆ Fragment 4: Advent of a Radiant Wish ~ Challenge the「Stars」

Scarlet Finale! (Demo)


The skies were painted with a peaceful blue as a refreshing morning breeze ran through the lonely city.

A girl stood by a vending machine just outside a towering building. She rested her back against the wall and used her fingers to open a can of coffee.

Her long blonde hair danced along with the wind. People always found her eyes incredibly pretty, but also incredibly strange. This was because her left eye had an emerald green color while her right eye was colored with a bright sky blue.

She stretched out her arms, took a deep breath and relaxed for a few minutes after finishing her drink. It was just another peaceful day.

But it wouldn’t last for long.

Somewhere in the distance, a loud explosion resounded through the city.

She looked up towards the skies only for that peaceful scene to break apart before her. The skies were rapidly contaminated by a giant cloud of raising, dark smoke.

To see a disturbance such as this... she was growing excited!

“What’s that?! It looks so interesting!”

A smile spread across her face. Without taking her eyes away from the approaching smoke, she walked towards her red-golden motorcycle and grabbed a red jacket that was lying on top of it. She then put it on over a tight white blouse which was barely buttoned up mid-way, emphasizing her busty figure and allowing part of her alluring cleavage to show.

Finally, the blonde girl grabbed a strange pendant that looked like a crossed out, crescent moon and put it around her neck.

She hummed a song cheerfully as she pulled a small key from out of her pocket and hurled it up into the air. Then, she jumped and caught the key with her left hand. Her curiosity was growing more and more. After something like this appeared before her, she would of course go and check it out right away!

But then, her attention was snapped somewhere else almost instantly.

A red-silver motorcycle with two people on it dashed across the street and passed in front of her. Despite its intense speed, to her, it almost looked the image moved in stop motion if only for a moment.

She stood silently on the spot for a few seconds. Her next action was simple: she rolled up her sleeves and started up the engine at once.

The people that had just passed by were Faith and Eri.

They were trying to get away from the Organization of Hope’s fake headquarters and return to Faith’s building safely.

“Hm.”

Something was bothering Eri. Up till now, she had remained silent while hanging unto Faith's waist. The city had been empty even as they rushed across the streets, but she had caught a glimpse of something curious.

“What is it?”

Faith didn't have the time to turn around and look at what Eri was looking at. Going at this speed, he was too focused looking at what was in front of him. He knew that especially because the city seemed empty at first glance, this was one of the most dangerous situations to be in. It was the kind of situation where you had no way to tell what could come after you and from where.

Even if the organization’s base was in a much more deserted area by the outskirts of the city, he didn't want to let his guard down just yet.

They had been riding for a while. Come to think of it, this city was quite big. It wasn't until recently that they had left the desolate grassy road that led to the organization's castle and finally entered the zone with tall structures surrounding them all over.

“I think there’s someone following us!”

“Huh?”

Eri had tried to warn Faith the moment a new image came into her sight. But even then, what they saw was something insane. The black haired boy rapidly looked through the vehicle’s mirror, just a few seconds ago, there was nothing there. Just a few moments ago, Eri didn't get a clear view of anyone. However, someone was now coming towards them at full speed.

Faith didn't hesitate. He accelerated the instant he got a glimpse of their pursuer. Fighting while protecting someone else wasn't his style. For now, he wanted to lose track of them and get away from there as soon as possible.

The change in speed was abrupt for Eri who wasn't used to this at all. She barely managed to hang unto him tight enough to avoid flying away.

“W-What happened?!” The girl with a red ribbon looked behind her and then at Faith while sounding panicked. “If it’s someone from the organization, wouldn’t it be easier to deal with them first?!”

“Picking up a fight is easy.” Faith finally gave her a response. “But this is one fight we have to avoid at all costs.”

“Huh?”

Eri couldn’t understand. There was only a single person pursuing them. The Faith she knew would never run away like this. And not only that, but this was the same person who had stormed into the enemy's front doors and picked up a fight with multiple opponents at once. She didn't have any way to confirm, but the tone of his voice gave her the impression that he was growing nervous about this encounter.

After going deeper and deeper into the city, Faith sighed with relief. Given the speed he was going at, there was no way for that person to catch up with him.

They were finally safe.

“Yo!” A blonde girl spoke in a casual, carefree way.

Or... were they?

This person was truly something else. Where did she even come from? Not only had she managed to catch up, but she now was riding right next to him.

Faith instantly changed direction. At this rate, he knew it was likely they could end up lost in the depths of an unknown city, but it sounded like a much better choice than having to deal with this girl. That is how much Faith wanted to avoid her.

He turned right into a different street and then took two more turns in different directions to make sure they could get away. This wasn't a chase he could take lightly; he was well aware that this was someone who would chase him no matter what. If he wanted to lose track of her, he had to take desperate measures and risks.

With this in mind, he took a dangerous path, rushing above a walkway and then went into a small alleyway between two buildings.

That had been a mistake.

The girl with blonde hair had predicted his trajectory and entered the same alley from the opposite side.

This time she was going right towards Faith’s direction instead of following behind him.

The alley was extraordinarily narrow, so there was not enough space to turn around or to dodge the incoming vehicle. Faith frowned, there was no turning back, his only remaining option was to floor it.

Neither of them stopped.

“C-Cousin?!” Eri’s heart was beating faster and faster.

She couldn’t understand what was happening at all and both vehicles would soon crash against each other. The image of the other motorcycle dashing in closer and closer was burnt into her mind. But she was never able to feel any impact.

At the moment of impact, Faith's body ascended high into the air. But this wasn't because of the imminent crash.

With a swift movement, the blonde girl had jumped out of her motorcycle, grabbed Faith tightly by his torso and pulled him away from the vehicle. Eri who had been holding tightly unto Faith was dragged along as well.

Both motorcycles crashed and were sent frantically flying against the walls of the alley. The busty blonde landed safely, while Faith crashed face first into the ground and Eri landed on top of him.

“That was so fun!” The dangerous girl jumped up almost instantly, laughing while radiating with energy. “Want to do it again?”

“You…” Faith spoke slowly. His eyes were glowing with rage as he glared at the person who had appeared before him. “Wish! What the hell are you doing?!”

Eri sat on the floor, barely processing what just took place. The fact that Faith had called this person by her name meant that they knew each other, but Eri had never seen her in her life before. Not only that but Wish looked completely unfazed despite Faith's deathly glare.

“Me?” The blonde stopped for a moment to think.

"Who else?!"

“I sensed I should stop you. No, wait! Let me make that sound cooler.” Wish pointed her index finger towards the black haired boy in a dramatic fashion. “I’m here to stop the criminal who is messing around with this city!”

“Huh?!”

“Don’t you “huh?” me! There was a huge explosion! And what do I see right after? Number Two trying to get away!”

“Number Two?” Eri tilted her head. She couldn't connect that nickname to Faith at all.

“That’s… not important right now.” Faith crossed his arms and looked away.

Rather than just anger, frustration was building up inside him as well. Frustration that he couldn't allow anyone else to see. Feelings that were better off bottled up. And yet, the expression in his face had made them as transparent as ever.

“Yup!” Wish nodded. “By the way, I am Number One! Or I guess a cool title like “Queen” could work too? How about “President”? “Goddess” wouldn’t be bad either!!”

“Faith-” Eri's attention then was drawn at the eccentric blonde. “Who is this person?”

Even with her laid back aura, Wish's presence also felt incredibly heavy. Dealing with someone like this awakened a very odd sensation of fear inside Eri's heart, it was like dealing with someone who didn't belong to this world.

“No one important.” The red eyed boy replied almost instantly. His voice carried an unusual cold tone even for Faith.

“I guess you could say we are just old soul mates- Wait! Wrong word!! I meant classmates!!!” Wish blushed after realizing her mistake and corrected herself immediately.

“Oh! Is she your girlfriend from college~?” Eri gave them a teasing look.

“No.” "No!" Both denied Eri's ridiculous statement at the same time. For the first time, Faith and Wish were on the same wavelength.

Even if Faith was the kind of person who would never run away from a fight. There was a reason this was an exception. Faith and Wish had graduated together. But even if he was well known as a prodigy, Wish was acknowledged even further than that.

It was something that, as much as he tried to deny it, had affected Faith deeply. Something that had all started a long time ago. Before she arrived, Faith was always the best student. He had the highest grades, the highest physical prowess. He was a shining star.

But then, it all changed in such a sudden manner that he wasn't able to process it. It was all because Wish had arrived. After that, she would always get the first place in exams, the first place in competitions, the first place in about anything they would do.

Not even once had Faith managed to defeat her.

Eventually, everyone's praise was directed towards Wish instead and he had earned the nickname of “Number Two.”

“Stop fooling around.” Faith sighed. “Why are you even here?”

“Hm?” Wish scratched her head. “I just told you though. I’m here to stop you from vandalizing the city!”

One of the reasons she always stood out a lot and also a reason why Faith found her so troublesome was that once she’s set to do something, she sees it through, no matter what. It didn't matter what it was. It didn't matter what others thought. Everything would be enveloped in her pace, and there was no escape after that.

“I’m not a criminal. And if you really want to help this city, why don’t you go after that organization that’s messing around with this place?”

“You mean the Organization of Dope or something? Already took down two of their bases. I’ve only been here for less than a week, but they are so annoying and persistent!! There's no end to them!!”

“You took their base down by yourself?!”

Eri was impressed. After all, it had taken four people for them to make it through one of them. Even if it just turned out to be a decoy from the real one, it was still dangerous. It was hard to believe a single person would be able to take them on without breaking a sweat.

“Yup!” With this, Wish took a step forward and cracked her fingers. “And you are next!”

The tall blonde pulled a small red item from out of her skirt’s pocket. It looked like the hilt of a sword.

She pressed a button on it and a large blade shot out from inside, a simple look at it was enough for anyone to realize it wasn't any kind of toy, it was a real weapon through and through.

“Tch.” Faith clicked his tongue. He was quick to step back and ready his gun. “Eri, get away from here.”

"Oh? So you are fighting back after all! I take it that means you accept your sins!!"

Even after getting a good view of Faith's dangerous weapon, that wasn't enough to make someone like Wish back down.

Of course, this wasn't surprising for Faith at all. It was not the first time he had to face Wish in direct combat. Holding a gun didn't give him any advantage against an opponent like this, if anything, it was one of his few means of defense. A confrontation unlike any other was about to start, but that’s why he knew Eri was better off as far away from here as possible.

The red ribbon girl frantically nodded and ran for it. Even if Faith didn't say anything, Wish's imposing aura was more than enough for her to sense how dangerous this was. She was also aware she had no real combat experience, more than being of any help, she would just be in the way.

And with this, it began.

Wish made the first move. She dashed towards Faith while swinging her blade downwards against him with incredible force. It wouldn't be a surprise if this were enough slice him in half.

But it was precisely because both had fought several times before that they were well aware of each other’s movements and reactions.

Faith reacted by reflex, blocking her blade with his gun. The shockwave of the impact shook up Faith's body, but he had managed to take no damage.

He then pushed her away, but Wish pushed forward, releasing another attack almost immediately. A loud noise could be heard as her blade hit a wall located right behind the spot where Faith had just been standing. And even then, cracks spread across the solid structure.

While Wish was busy pulling her blade out, Faith knew this was his chance. He ran outside the alleyway and into the main street. His weapon was one that worked better in long range battles. He had to open as much space as possible between them. Something easy to do had it been any other opponent but something extremely difficult to achieve against someone like Wish.

As soon as he was in a good position, he pointed his gun at Wish and began to shoot consecutively at her. He let out all of his bullets one after another in a relentless barrage.

It was a battle where there was no holding back.

Deadly bullets flew towards Wish at full speed, they cut through the air and rushed with enough force to end her life. Instead of running away or trying to dodge, Wish pulled her blade out of the wall with a strong swing and ran straight towards the incoming projectiles. She swung her blade across the air, slashing diagonally and then upwards, deflecting every bullet in seconds. The stray projectiles crashed against the walls instead, exploding inside the alleyway behind Wish as she dashed outside, moving in closer and closer to her target.

In the meantime, Eri was watching while hiding behind the corner of one of the nearby buildings.

For a second, she thought she could see a glint of red light coming from both Faith and Wish’s weapons.

The distance between the black haired boy and the blonde girl was rapidly getting shorter. The black haired boy realized trying to widen the gap between them would be futile, she was already too close for him to get the chance to. Faith had to face this head on as well; it was the only way. Steeling himself, he ran towards Wish who came at him with a horizontal slash. Faith ducked, balancing himself with only his hand as he launched a kick upwards towards her wrist in order to try and disharm her.

He threw a punch forward immediately afterwards in order to link a chain of attacks before she could correct her grip and swing her blade again. But that wasn't enough, she was able to see right through his movements, almost as if he was moving in slow motion.

His attack had failed to connect.

And then,

Faith could feel all of his air leaving his lungs. Wish's elbow sank deep into his stomach.

Great pain spread across his body and he had trouble breathing, but there was no time to put himself back together. While Faith was a long-range fighter, his weapon could prove deadly on close range under the right circustances. With this in mind, he pointed his gun at Wish from up close and released one more desperate shot.

The explosive sound of Faith's bullet echoed across the city, but as it did, Wish’s blonde hair gracefully danced through the air as she moved to the side. She had completely dodged his attack.

And with this, it was time for her to strike back.

Mimicking his previous attempt at disharming her, a sharp kick then reached Faith’s wrist. He felt as though his very bones were on the verge of breaking from that attack alone, forcing him to drop his weapon.

The battle had turned entirely one-sided.

Faith was forced to start focusing more on defending rather than striking back.

The busty blonde smirked and willingly dropped her blade into the ground before giving another step forward.

Without relying on her sword anymore and following the previous kick, Wish released a consecutive flurry of punches with the same amount of force behind them. Faith knew that if any of those connected, the amount of damage he would take would be far too great. He had no choice but to desperately duck and move to the side while trying to dodge the attacks to the best of his ability. He knew even running away would be impossible. He couldn't strike back, he couldn't escape and simply defending would get him nowhere against this kind of opponent. Not only was he cornered, but he was also pushed back more and more as Wish gained on him.

While both Faith and Wish were known as prodigies that would excel at everything, there was a core difference between them.

Faith was said to be born a prodigy. Excelling at things would come naturally for him.

Everything was easy. He never put real effort.

Despite what others might have assumed however, Wish wasn't a prodigy. She was a hard worker who had achieved great heights by continiously facing failure.

While things came easily to Faith, he never went through real challenge until he met Wish. What could a girl who was so bad at everything do? What could someone who continued to fall down do? Faith had understimated her. He had understimated her sheer will to continue standing up no matter what.

It was something he didn't realize until it was far too late. Somewhere down the line, Faith had realized that all of this time he had always been stuck. He was already at the top of the pyramid, so he never thought it was possible to go even higher than that.

By the time Faith tried to start moving forward, this person was way too far away. He couldn't reach her anymore.

He couldn’t keep up. He knew it may not have been impossible to do it, but deep inside, he was insecure.

Insecurity and confidence. Talent and hard work.

That was the core difference between Faith and Wish.

Because of that, he couldn’t keep up with her.

And this time it was no different.

In the middle of this fight, he couldn’t keep up with her increasing speed.

His movements were thrown out of sync while trying to block her attacks.

Immediately afterward, Wish’s fist sank deep into Faith’s face, and he was thrown against the floor by the sheer impact.

Before Faith’s consciousness faded away, the last thing he could see was the figure of the blonde standing triumphantly before him.

It was the same as always.

He had lost once more.

The boy opened his eyes. He could feel his head spinning and his body was heavy.

He looked around while still feeling disorientated. It took him a few seconds, but Faith realized he was inside a small cell with large steel bars blocking the exit.

“Huh?”

The black haired boy was confused. For a moment he didn’t remember what happened at all, but the images slowly returned to his head.

“Ah.”

He sighed in regret after realizing he had lost once again.

Waking up in strange places after losing to Wish wasn’t entirely new to him, but being behind bars made him grow more uncomfortable than usual this time.

If he didn’t escape, Wish might come back at any moment, and that would probably mean having to face against her once more.

The black haired boy quickly searched his pockets only to realize his weapon was gone. He started looking around the cell, he had to find an exit, yet there was nothing but solid walls.

What now? There really wasn't much of an option other than to stay here and wait.

But just when he thought about giving up, his eyes met with a familiar figure that walked just outside his cell.

“YOU!” Faith raised his voice immediately.

The figure stopped walking and jumped startled, they hadn’t noticed Faith was there at all.

“I-It’s you again…”

The boy stepped back nervously. It was the same kid who Faith and Caroline had captured and interrogated back at the restaurant. He was the one who claimed to have given up his name and identity in order to join the Organization of Hope.

“I need you to let me out of here.” Faith went straight to the point.

“Eh?”

The thought of asking for help was frustrating. Not only that, but he had to ask for help from someone he had humiliated before. No, it wasn't the time to think about something like his pride. His priority was to get out of here. But would this boy even listen to him now? Not having his gun to threaten people sure was an inconvenience.

“If you don’t-” Faith moved closer towards the bars. Before the boy could realize it, Faith had slid one of his arms out and pulled the kid closer to him. “We will both meet a fate worse than death in here.”

“G-G-Got it! I will! I’ll do it! But please let go of me and step back!!” The boy easily agreed. He had no problem letting Faith out, and it's not like he knew the black haired boy wasn't carrying his deadly weapon.

Faith’s cold glare continued looking into the boy’s blue eyes. Faith could tell by his expression that he was too intimidated to dare betraying him and run away. Knowing he could trust him for now, Faith slowly let go of him.

The boy with light brown hair stared at the jail cell before him. He took a deep breath and clenched his fist.

“Okay, listen. Here is the plan, first you have to- Wait. Wait!! What are you-?!” Faith could barely speak to the boy as he rushed towards the cell, just what was he about to do?

Dashing towards the steel bars, the boy threw a punch forward.

And then, those very steel bars were instantly torn off the ground and sent flying into the wall, barely missing Faith by centimeters.

The black haired boy remained frozen on the spot as part of the wall and the ceiling fell down thanks to the impact, followed by a cloud of dust that filled the room.

Faith stared at the scene before him in disbelief. Not too long ago he had been threatening this boy and looked down on him. Things could have gotten more complicated if he had been willing to fight back, so much that Faith didn't want to imagine it.

“Are you okay?!”

The brown-haired boy asked as the dust slowly dissipated and revealed Faith’s figure.

“I-I’m fine.” Faith walked forward while swiping away the dust from his clothes. “More importantly, what was that? Were you doing some sort ofVelvet Burst?”

“Eh? A what? No- I- This is just my regular strength if I focus properly.”

Faith’s eyes opened wide unconsciously. At that moment he felt incredibly glad to have agreed with Caroline to bring him to a safe place in the end. 

“Um… why are you here?” The brown haired boy changed the topic. Knowing someone in the city had managed to escape the organization's influence brought him a little bit of relief.

“I should be asking the same question.” Faith replied coldly; this wasn't a regular place after all. He hoped this wasn't linked to the organization after all. If this was another of their headquarters that would be a pain to deal with.

So... how should he handle this? This kid was dangerous, should he try being nice? No. Forcing himself to act nice sounded way too exhausting. He decided that continuing with the same cold treatment towards this kid was probably for the best for now.

“I lost something, or rather-” The boy lowered his head for a moment. “Someone.”

“Not this again. At any rate, I’m out of here. You should get out as soon as you can too.”

“Why?”

“Trust me.” The image of Wish laughing appeared in Faith’s head, making his entire body shudder. “You don’t want to find out.”

The young boy was unsure of how to reply. Things were happening too fast for him. He thought joining the Organization of Hope would be of help, but he just found himself thrown into danger and difficult situations thanks to that.

At a time like this, he wanted to ask Faith for help, he honestly did, but he was too scared. Should he give it a try? Should he really do it? Somehow, having someone so strong and imposing as Faith before him, it made him wonder if that black haired boy might be able to save him.

The young boy's lips opened, but words wouldn't come out. Faith had turned around and started walking towards the exit, maybe it was already all too late.

Was he really doing the right thing? Was there really no way to turn back?

“Wait!!”

The nameless boy stepped forward, but something was off.

He could feel his right foot sinking in lower than it should have. The sound of something clicking echoed in the room, and it was followed by the sound of a large impact. It almost sounded like something incredibly heavy had descended.

The ground soon began to tremble and with the sound of something getting closer, an unexpected image reached the boy’s eyes.

It was a giant, round stone that engulfed all the space in the room.

“?” Faith turned around, only to notice the large boulder rolling towards him incredibly fast.

With another glance, he noticed the boy was preparing a punch ready to shatter it apart, but Faith couldn’t allow that. He pulled the boy by the collar of his shirt and began running with all his might.

“W-What are you?!”

“This is definitely something that she set up! Knowing her it could even have a bomb inside and I’m not willing to take that risk!”

“B-Bomb?!” The kid began running on his own after Faith let go of him. His will to fight back had faded away really fast after hearing that.

“Unfortunately.” Cold sweat slowly ran down Faith's forehead. “A bomb would probably be the best case scenario.”

“?!”

After running beyond the rooms with the cells and past a large corridor, both found themselves in a wide, open space with a set of stairs leading to an area down below.

Faith pulled the boy closer, held him by his waist and took a dive towards the floor below, not even bothering to try the stairs.

In that moment, the boulder following them crashed against the stairs and finally came to a stop. Just as Faith expected, an explosion followed, blowing up the stairs into pieces.

The brown haired boy couldn’t help but scream as they both descended through the air with nothing to cushion the fall.

Faith was prepared- or so he thought. He had noticed a large wooden clock on the lower floor. He had intended to hold on to it as they fell; however, he didn’t account for the weight of the kid making the fall faster. Faith’s hand missed to reach the top of the clock by millimeters.

Yet, contrary to expectation, he still came to a stop before hitting the ground.

The kid had released a punch, and it broke right through the wooden clock, stabbing his arm inside it. The clock began breaking further and further down as they descended, but this process reduced the impact of the fall considerably. By the moment they reached the ground, Faith had taken no damage.

“T-That was close.” The brown haired boy breathed heavily as he pulled his arm out of the clock. Anyone else would have been severely injured, but his strength was so grand it left his hand with only a few scratches.

“It was.” Faith sat on the ground, trying to catch his breath.

He leaned back, letting his hands touch the floor in order to rest his body, but he could feel his hand sinking into something. The strange sensation made him fall into his back as he lost his balance. This action, however, saved him from a large guillotine that descended from the ceiling in that exact instant.

In that moment, he couldn’t help but scream out loud the name of the person who was putting him through this much danger.

“DAMN YOU WISH!!!!!”

The blonde sneezed. She sat on a chair with her legs crossed on top of the table in front of her.

“Hmm~ I wonder if he’s having fun there.”

“W…What kind of fun are we talking about?” Eri asked as she sat nervously on a plastic chair just across Wish.

“Oh you know-” The girl was interrupted as the sound of an explosion reached them from above, followed by a small tremor. “Fun kind of fun!”

“I see… Hahaha…” Eri didn’t really expect to find herself in this situation but the images of what happened continued running through her head.

She remembered how Faith had fallen to the ground utterly defeated. Eri could tell this girl was bad news so she had tried to make a run for it, but was promptly intercepted by Wish before she could do much about it.

She was glad her fate had been kinder than her cousin’s, but she just wanted to get away from here as soon as she could.

As this took place, a car slowly parked right outside a large and old-looking building.

The place had the logo of what looked like a police badge atop, and part of the wall on the fourth floor had been shattered apart.

Caroline and May stepped out of the car.

The two of them had managed to escape just in time before, but once they arrived at the company’s building, they weren’t able to find the others.

“I guess it’s here.”

May stared intently at her phone’s screen as Caroline curiously looked around.

As both walked forward, they met with the body of someone dressed as a police officer while wearing a black uniform.

He wasn’t dead, but he was lying down on the ground unconscious. He had a helmet which covered his face so there was no telling who it could have been.

The two decided it was best to leave him be and continued walking forward.

As they walked closer to the entrance they could hear a voice laughing. It was Wish’s voice, and the voice who responded to the conversation was one May knew all too well.

“Eri!”

May rushed into the building. She met with the two girls who sat across each other right by the entrance.

“Sis!” Eri’s face lit up as she was washed over by a big sensation of relief.

“Maymay! You came faster than I thought! That’s great!” Wish smiled. “Here here, have a seat.”

She pointed to some empty chairs just next to Eri.

Caroline sat down without questioning it, but May wasn’t comfortable with this.

“Where is Faith?” Her silver eyes glared at the blonde girl as she spoke in a serious tone.

“He’s having some fun in the super obstacle course!” The sound of an explosion resounded from above once more. “See? There he is!”

“…”

“Now now, let’s take it easy. Have a seat. Or if you want to have a quick fight, I’m always up for that!”

May was well aware this wasn’t someone she should go against just like that. It would be best to examine the situation first and then come up with the best possible course of action.

“So… Maymay!” Wish slowly stood up and then slammed her hands against the table dramatically. “Let’s get down to business!”

Caroline, Eri and May sat across the blonde girl who had just made a proposal full of enthusiasm.

“By business, what do you mean exactly?” May crossed her arms.

“Well.” Wish began to explain with a proud expression. “Given how you are here now! We should take this chance and revive this city!”

May raised an eyebrow in response.

“Why?”

“Hm? I don't know, I sensed I should. Besides, seeing how frail security is here, I have decided to take over the police station. And now that I’ve taken care of a few bases here and there from that organization of creepers, we can make it safe enough for people to return and revive this ghost city!”

“Before I give you my reply,” May raised her right hand while holding up three fingers. “I have three questions.”

Wish sat down, she rested her arms on top of the table while staring intently at May.

“What is it?”

Caroline and Eri looked at each other. They didn’t feel like they would be of much help in this situation, so they had no choice but to sit quietly and see what May was up to.

“First,” May lowered her middle finger. “Personally, what real reason would drive you to save the city?”

“Because it’ll be fun!” Wish replied with a grin in her face, she didn’t need to think it twice. She didn’t need any deep reason other than doing what interested her at the moment.

May’s stern expression didn’t change, she found no need to reply to Wish’s answer and moved on to the next question while lowering her ring finger this time.

“By taking over the police station you are trying to act like you can be this city’s hero and provide them with enough security for them to feel at ease, correct?”

Wish rapidly nodded twice.

“And finally,” May lowered her little finger. “You claim you went around destroying the organization’s bases around the city, correct?”

“Of course! I broke in, defeated everyone and took down their boss!”

“If that’s the case...” May crossed her arms. “You messed up.”

“?”

“Wish, did you do any research before you charged in? Do you know what that organization truly is? Do you know about their goals? What about their motivations? And more importantly, do you know who their members are?”

“U-Um-”

Seeing Wish's reaction surprised Eri. She never thought she’d be able to see such an expression of worry on Wish’s face, and yet, her sister had made it happen so easily.

“Listen. The only reason this place is empty to begin with is that at least 90% of the stupid citizens decided to join that organization to save themselves. This city isn’t empty because the organization is attacking. The city is empty because the people got scared of the city itself. They got scared some absurd end-of-the-world prophecy was going to happen here and thought they could stop it.”

Wish was good at always reaching her goals and she was able to do this thanks to her rash and reckless personality. But that was also her biggest weakness. Despite being exceptionally smart, she also had the bad habit of rushing into action without thinking things through properly.

May was well aware of this and it wasn’t the first time she had confronted Wish either. This is why she had no concerns about holding back or hurting her feelings. Unfortunately, there was no way for Wish to take something seriously unless someone was blunt like this.

“Sure, you could probably get the remaining 10% of people who are out there scared and locked in their houses to come out, but do you realize how little an amount that is? Most of them might end up leaving either way, so the city will still be the same as it is right now. The only way to save this place is by saving the people who live here. The only way to restore it is by saving every single member of that ridiculous organization, beating sense into them and trying to help them back into their former way of living.”

May stood up. She slammed her hand against the table and stared intently into Wish’s eyes. With this, she delivered the final blow.

“Do you think you of all people will be able to save everyone? Do you really think you can do something about it after making an enemy of most of the citizens? Can you do that much when your only motivation is to have fun? Let me answer that for you. No, you can’t.”

Wish leaned back into her chair and stared at the girls before her, completely speechless.

She could see the image a lot clearer now. What she did was, without doubt, a mistake. But even so, giving up on something wasn’t something she could accept. It wasn’t something she could handle. As confident as she was, she was well aware there were things she couldn’t possibly do by herself.

“Then-” she finally spoke. “Then you help me, Maymay! If it’s you then we could definitely-”

“Sorry.” May turned her down immediately. “It’s not something I could do either. After all, I messed up too. I messed up possibly worse than anyone else here. I didn’t just fight them or beat their boss. I just destroyed one of their bases, to be more precise, I set the building to self-destruct, do you know what this means?”

“Then tha-”

Wish wasn’t allowed to speak.

“Every single person in that building that didn’t manage to escape is probably dead under the rubble. And anyone who did escape will probably come after me for revenge. Do you really think I could save anyone here after doing something like that?”

Hearing this from May made Eri feel like something cold was sinking deep into her stomach.

At the same time, Caroline realized something.

The brunette realized she had barely managed to escape alive and she was glad to be alive, but up until now, she hadn’t given the situation much thought beyond that. She hadn’t considered the fact that all those people she had fought in there were probably dead. And on top of that, after listening to May, she realized most of them might have been people that had been brainwashed and scared for their lives.

They were only trying to survive, and yet, those means of survival put them against someone that would still end their lives either way.

No matter how much they tried to avoid death, it managed to catch up with them through different means.

“But-” And even so, even like this. The blonde girl refused to give up.

“It’s over, Wish. There is nothing remaining for us in this city, and there is no way for us to save it anymore either. Our best option would be to abandon this place. Of course, I can’t just let them off the hook after they went and picked a fight with me either.”

“Wait a moment!” May was interrupted by Caroline who stood up with a nervous look on her face. “I-If the town remains dead, what about my new job?! I can’t just leave like that!”

“That's irrelevant. You can always get plenty of jobs anywhere else.”

“No, No, you don’t understand. I can’t leave, I have to-”

“You have to what? Stay here so you can get in my way again?”

“That’s-”

Deep down, this made Caroline upset. It’s not like she had saved May’s life in order to receive gratitude, but receiving this kind of treatment after what she did still hurt.

“Maybe the town really is done for,” Eri said in a low tone.

She knew her sister didn’t have the best attitude, but she knew that what she said was still the truth.

“It’s not.”

A familiar voice broke the tense atmosphere.

Everyone turned around, only for their eyes to meet with a red-eyed boy who had finally made it through a living hell.

Faith stood at the entrance of the room. He could barely stand up properly and his clothes were dirty and torn apart. Next to him, there was a short boy with brown hair in similar condition. Both seemed to have trouble breathing, but both looked relieved to be somewhere safe at last.

“Faith?” “Cousin!” “Boss!”

The three girls reacted surprised.

Caroline and Eri quickly got up and walked towards him.

They helped him support himself enough for him to walk and sit across Wish and next to May.

“Oh! You made it back Number Two!” Wish smiled, but Faith just stared at her with anger bursting out of his eyes.

“Give it back.” Faith extended out his arm.

“Give back what?”

“Stop joking around. You know very well it’s dangerous if you hold onto that for too long.”

“I know, I know~”

Wish pulled out his gun, the Scarlet Grimoire, from out of her pocket.

“I guess you can have it as a prize for making it through! ☆”

Faith couldn’t help but sigh. His entire body hurt and he was exhausted. However, there was something important in his mind. Something he had to put into action right at this instant.

“So? You were talking about restoring the city?”

“I guess I want to but…”

Faith leaned in closer; his red eyes glared directly into Wish’ green and blue eyes. His lips slowly moved, turning his stern expression into a grin.

“Then I have a challenge for you. Starting this instant, let’s see who can successfully save the city first.”

“Wait! You should be well aware that we can’t do anything about this anymore!” May immediately refuted.

Faith simply shrugged in response.

“We can still try? We already messed up, didn’t we? If something is already broken there is no harm in trying to fix it.”

Now these were the words Wish wanted to hear. It was something that went along really well with her line of thinking. Holding unto that small glimmer of hope, Wish was the one who followed through.

“Exactly! If we already messed up this bad, there is no further way down. We are already rock bottom so let’s start climbing up!”

May sighed. She had an idea of what this was about, but she decided to try confirming it.

“And why do you suddenly want to save this place?”

“Simple. This is something that Wish won’t be able to do so easily, right? That means I can finally defeat her one way or the other.” Faith’s answer was straightforward as could be.

May frowned and scratched her head.

“So in the end it’s just for your own personal benefit?”

“Pretty much.”

“That’s as cousin-like as it can get.” Eri nodded approvingly, it was exactly what she would have expected.

“Now I can keep my job!!” Caroline was ready to celebrate.

Wish closed her eyes and decided to stop for a moment to think. After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and nodded to herself.

“What is the time limit?”

Faith brought his hand to his chin.

He then remembered what the young boy had taught him about the situation of the city and came up with an answer.

“Until “The Day of the end.””

“Huh?”

“It’s the day this city and the world is supposed to end, according to these people at least. I’m not sure of the exact date, but they have some weird prophecy, so it’s probably written there somewhere.”

“Fine, then.” Wish extended out her arm towards Faith. It was a motion all too familiar for him. Without hesitation, he extended out his own and held her hand.

“Challenge Accepted.” Both stated at the same time as they shook hands.

With this a new door had opened for Faith.

Despite always being defeated and despite Wish always being out of reach. He felt like he could do it, he felt like he could find a way. A path for him to keep moving forward had finally appeared.

Faith and the others began walking out of the building shortly after. Despite this, the first thing Faith wanted to do right now was to get some rest. But just before his feet could reach the exit, he was stopped by a voice that made him shudder.

“WAIT!” Wish yelled. “You have more people on your side! One of you should stay with me to make this fair!”

“Huh?”

Faith looked at the faces of all the people standing next to him. Every single one of them was extremely reliable, and in truth, Faith felt more confident only thanks to them being around.

After scanning through them, he finally came up with a solution.

Faith’s hands reached for the shoulders of the young boy, and before he could realize it, he was pushed forward towards Wish.

“You can have him.”

“W-W-Wha-?!”

The boy tried running but Wish had already grabbed him by his wrist.

“You aren’t going any-where~♪”

“It’s okay.” Faith stared at the boy and spoke in a solemn tone. “Stay strong for the both of us.”

“Wait! But you still have more people!!” Wish complained with a pout on her face.

“This guy here is still alive.” Faith said as he pointed towards the body of a man in a black police outfit they had found outside.

He still seemed unconscious, but May checked his pulse to confirm he had just passed out.

“Oh yeah- I may have beat him up on my way here.” Wish accepted and nervously scratched her cheek.

“This should do then.” Faith turned his back to her and started walking outside.

With this, Faith’s group finally left.

A challenge to restore the city had begun.

Just a few hours ago, Faith’s brand new company had its grand opening.

It hadn’t taken them much planning, and while most of them just accepted it, it wasn’t something May was too content with.

The previous night, after returning from the encounter with Wish, four people sat in pairs across from each other in a small meeting room.

“So?” May was the first one to speak “What do we do from here?”

“We go with the original plan. We open this company and use it to our advantage.” Faith replied with a smug tone.

“Oh!” Eri cut into the conversation this time. “Now that I think about it, May and I did receive an invitation to work here. I mean, that’s how I found this place to help Caro to begin with.”

The older sister frowned. She didn’t seem to be too pleased with the letter she received.

“There weren’t many details there however, which is why we decided to come all the way here and check on it ourselves instead.”

“Yup! Plus we thought it would be nice to see cousin again for a change!”

“If everyone is here thanks to an invitation I’m assuming Wish received one too, but it’s weird. Every person who received one was an acquaintance of mine one way or the other.” Faith pondered for a moment.

He then looked at Caroline who was sitting next to him.

“Were you or anyone from your family acquaintances of that old man by any chance?”

“I don’t think so?” Caroline looked at him with a confused expression.

“Whatever.” Faith shrugged. “At any rate the four of us are here, and we are going to get this up and running.”

“Two questions.”

May raised her hand and held up two fingers.

“First, what is this company going to do?”

“That’s simple.” Faith replied. “We’ll do anything.”

May didn’t lower her finger.

“That’s three questions now. Second question: what do you mean by anything?”

“Anything!” Faith smirked. “We want to revive the city right? And you said yourself we’d need to help the citizens to do that. With a place as broken as this right now, we can try to connect with them by helping them with anything they might need. So simply, we’ll do anything. We’ll reach out to them and take any requests anyone might have. That’ll definitely make everyone feel more at ease and if we expand our connections we will be able to reach more people right?”

“I see,” May didn’t seem too convinced, but she didn’t have a clear objection to that either. “Then my last question is this: how is the payment going to work out?”

“…”

Faith didn’t have a reply for that. In fact, he hadn’t given it any thought yet.

Despite coming from a wealthy family and having quite some money himself, there was a clear difference between what could sustain one single person to an entire company.

“Oh and before I forget,” May added fuel to the fire. “What about our schedules?”

“Oh oh!” Eri was the one who added more questions this time. “And what about transportation? I still have acting class outside the city!”

Faith was stuck. It didn’t matter how early he had graduated and it didn’t matter how much skill he had. In the end, it didn’t change the fact that he didn’t have enough resources to manage this in a proper manner. But he couldn’t back down either, this was his chance to defeat Wish, and he wasn’t about to let it go.

“T…Trial period! Yes, that’s it! You are all in trial period for a month! If you show me good results, you will officially be members of the company! But in the meantime, we can’t talk about payments and the like since it’s just trial!”

“The amounts of inconsistencies in that statement are so many it would be too tiresome to point them out,” May sighed. “But it’s clear you are in a tight spot so I’ll just play along for a bit.”

Faith took a deep breath.

“Any other questions?”

Eri raised her hand.

“How should we name the company?”

Caroline also joined in with even more questions.

“What should we do to advertise it to the remaining people in the city?”

Faith grinned. He had come up with the best solution for that last question, or so he believed.

The next day, two girls walked through the streets of the empty city.

They held a large amount of pamphlets in their arms, which they stamped on the walls or on electricity poles as they walked by.

“This is totally going to bring people to us! After all I chose the best name for our company!”

Eri smiled proudly as she slid one of the pamphlets under the door of one of the houses. The name that read on them was “Anything Scarlet.

“Of course it would have been even better if I had named it “Amazing Eri!” but my sister got mad when I proposed it to her.”

“Hehe, that’s true.”

Caroline wasn’t convinced, but she played along despite knowing the ones who had chosen the name, in the end, were actually Faith and May.

“Uuwaah, but still! This is much more tiring than I thought, not nice.” Eri complained as the bright sun reflected on her face and sweat poured down her neck.

“Caro, a-are you sure you are okay wearing those clothes?”

The brunette was wearing her sunglasses to protect her eyes from the sun. Otherwise, despite wearing a sweater on top of her blouse and a scarf around her neck, all as usual, she didn’t seem to mind the heat much.

“I’m fine! This is nothing compared to when I had that one delivery job where I had to dress as a stuffed animal.”

“Part-timers are truly a force to be reckoned with.” Eri did a solemn salute.

“Right? You should have seen the time I had to jump off a ten story building to save someone’s cat.”

“W-What kind of part time job would require that?! And why would you need to do that to save a cat?!”

“You see, it’s because at that time I-”

However Caroline was interrupted by a screaming voice.

It came from a tall boy with spiky hair that ran across the street, just a few blocks away from them.

“?!”

Eri stared at the figure confused, but Caroline quickly pulled Eri away.

This was because Caroline had seen the person who had come running behind the boy.

It was Wish, and a short boy with brown hair was following right behind her.

The two girls peeked from behind one of the buildings until they confirmed the road was clear.

“Maybe we should just go the other way-” Eri was a bit nervous just by the thought of having to deal with Wish again. She knew how dangerous she was and getting involved with her right now wasn’t a good idea at all.

“Agreed.”

Faith’s side had already started to move, but this, of course, meant that Wish’s side had started too. Or... was that really the case?

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