Wings of Unity
Firefly ran forwards towards the Harvester Stalker that was heading in her direction. She fired two shots from her H45 Pistol at the Stalker, hitting the lanky monster to stun it for a second as Firefly slid in-between its legs. She jumped up from behind it, and jabbed her katana forward, stabbing the Stalker through its torso as it let out a shriek.
“Nice!” Striker shouted to Firefly. “My turn!”
Striker dashed past Firefly as the latter drew her katana from the dead body of the Stalker. Striker found another Stalker in her sights, and as she neared it the Stalker swung its spear-like arm at the woman, who dodged it with ease and jumped high in the air.
Turning back around in a quick fashion, Striker found an opening and lunged downwards with her ninjatō, slicing through the Stalker.
The masked woman looked past the dead Stalker before her and found dozens of Runners headed their way.
“GRAAAAAAAAGGGHHH!!” the combined shriek of the horde resounded through their ears.
“Second wave, incomin’!” Striker shouted to Firefly, who shook her head in frustration.
“Damn it,” Firefly cursed. “We don’t have enough time for this!”
“Plan?” Striker asked, cutting down a pair of Runners.
“Phantom, we’re ready!” Firefly yelled into her communications device. “Get over here, Striker!” Firefly ordered. Striker slid past the Runners and ended up at Firefly’s side. The latter kneeled to the ground.
Striker jabbed her ninjatō through another Runner, letting out a chuckle at her last-minute kill.
“Providence Shield!” Firefly shouted as she stabbed her katana towards the ground. A red bubble shield formed around her and Striker, with the Runners closing in on them – the undead threw themselves against the shield but did no damage to it at all.
Striker looked around at the gruesome faces of the undead as they tried to claw or bite their way into the shield to attack the two women. “Hah, well look at that! Come get us, you bastards!”
“Phantom, do it,” Firefly coolly said, maintaining her grip onto the handle of her katana.
The two women looked up and found Phantom hovering over them.
“Missile Eclipse,” Phantom whispered. She brought her arms upwards to her side and gracefully brought them back down, with a dozen missiles appearing around her – six on each side. She shifted the weight into her right arm, pointing it in the direction in front of her in an open-palmed matter towards Firefly and Striker.
The two women entombed within the bubble shield braced themselves for the coming barrage of missiles from Phantom.
The multiple explosions of the missiles rocked the ground around Firefly and Striker. After the dust from the explosions settled, Firefly and Striker looked around and found nothing but blood and body parts from the Runners, along with the smell of burnt cement from Phantom’s attack.
Firefly pulled her katana towards her, and the red bubble shield surrounding her and Striker disappeared.
“Looks like that’s it,” Striker sheathed her ninjatō and clapped her gloved hands together. “Another easy day for Team Seven, huh?” she gestured towards Firefly’s katana. “Your Divine Weapon has saved our asses more times than I can count. What’s the name of it again?”
“Chikara,” Firefly replied, looking down at the katana she held in her hand.
“We’ve got a problem,” Phantom announced as she gracefully descended towards her companions, pointing towards her wrist-mounted device. “I just received a sudden ping. There’s something headed this way, something big.”
“Could it be what I think it is?” Striker asked.
“We’re not finished yet,” Firefly told her companions.
The earth began to shake as if a giant was headed towards them.
Around the corner, a humongous humanoid form emerged, standing at nearly ten meters tall. Clad in a type of armor from head to toe, with giant, mutated muscles – Firefly immediately knew what they were about to face.
“BRUTE!” Firefly shouted.
“OH, YEAH!” Striker exclaimed, drawing her ninjatō once more. “NOW, THIS? THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!”
Firefly tightened her grip on her katana and narrowed her gray eyes onto the hulking beast. The Brute let out a ferocious roar, sending chills to the three women.
“We haven’t seen one in a long time,” Phantom remarked. “I’ve been tracking the Black Wolves and they’ve been on the move. If we don’t eliminate the Harvester Brute in time, we’re going to lose the window of opportunity to make it to the other side of the Lightkeeper Forcefield.”
The Harvester Brute pounded its gigantic fists into the ground before eyeing the three women. It let out a deep snarl and began to advance towards them slowly.
“Spread out,” Firefly ordered. “Phantom, take to the skies and bombard it with your missiles. Striker, take the right side. I’ll take the left.”
“Copy that,” Striker nodded, and began sprinting to the right.
Firefly began running to the left, and Phantom hovered into the air.
Striker activated her jetpack and soared towards the Brute, with the giant monster raising its muscly arm to swing at the woman. She dodged it with ease and aimed her ninjatō to a piece of the Brute that was unprotected by its armor to do damage. She slashed her ninjatō as she soared by, effectively hitting the Brute with her attack, but as she glanced back – the Brute was unharmed.
“EH!?” Striker exclaimed, before igniting her jetpack to attack once more. In a second, she landed back on the cracked ground next to Firefly, bewildered.
Firefly jumped into the air, activating her jetpack to attack the Brute with her katana. She landed on the back of the Brute, and jabbed her katana towards the nape of its neck that was unprotected by the armor of the monster, but only sparks flew from her attack as the Brute wasn’t stunned.
Firefly raised a brow before jumping off the Brute, landing back down next to Striker, who had the attention of another one of the Brute’s attacks.
“My blades don’t do anything against this Brute! Damn it!” Striker cursed as she dodged the heavy attack from the Brute. “I am…I am so angry! I want to kill this thing already!”
“It’s the armor…” Firefly said to Striker as she gritted her teeth. “Phantom! Hit the Brute with another barrage!”
With her order released, missiles exploded all over the Brute’s armored body, and when the smoke cleared – the Brute let out another roar, seemingly unharmed by the attack.
“Missiles seem to be ineffective,” Phantom muttered. “The armor of this Brute is tougher than the usual ones. Any other suggestions, Firefly?”
Firefly looked around and found the Brute near an abandoned apartment building that was twice its size. If they were to effectively bring that building on top of the Brute, then that would be a way to entrap it to then hit its weak spot.
“Aim for that building!” Firefly pointed. In an instant, more missiles soared from where Phantom was, except this time it caused massive explosions all around the building near the Brute. The building began to fall apart, and it toppled over the Brute.
The rubble of the building crushed the Brute underneath it, rendering it motionless as it was stuck – leaving only its head as the only part not caved in.
Firefly activated her jetpack and soared towards the Brute, landing on a rock next to its head. The Brute roared but couldn’t do much due to it being stuck under the heavy weight of the debris. Firefly unsheathed Chikara and aimed for the in between of Brute's glowing red eyes.
She stabbed the wounded Brute, with blood gushing out as Firefly pulled her katana back out – the roars were now silent as the Brute was left dead.
“… One-hundred and seven, Striker,” Firefly commented as she panted.
“Aw… eighty-six for me,” Striker folded her arms over her chest. “Second place isn’t bad, so I’ll take it!”
“With my missiles,” Phantom mentioned as she appeared. “I’m sitting at eighty-nine.”
Striker’s aqua eyes twitched. “I-I… I got… I got… last place?”
“It seems like it, Striker,” Firefly nodded. “Next time… if you’re going to be calling for competition, you should at the very least get second place.”
“Don’t even start,” Striker huffed.
“Firefly, I’m tracking the Black Wolves, and they’re on the move. We should go,” Phantom said to her companions.
“Alright, let’s move,” Firefly commanded as she sheathed Chikara, before activating her waist-mounted jetpack – with Striker and Phantom following after her with immense speed.
The three women arrived at the Lightkeeper Forcefield, finding the large amounts of energy the shield gave off by a loud humming sound. They looked around and found a city-like settlement within the Void and found numerous defenses and Alliance Space Command Troopers patrolling the area.
The giant city was protected by what seemed to be a giant wall of titanium. A few giant starships that were a part of the ASC’s armada floated above the city.
Firefly pointed towards an underground tunnel with an unusually high amount of guards.
“Welcome to the Breach,” Firefly told her companions. “It’s one of the few passages from the Void into the Haven. Heavily guarded with rotating Troopers to make sure no Harvesters make their way in, this is the biggest challenge of our mission so far.”
“I didn’t know the ASC dogs set up cities in the Void,” Striker said.
“It’s their forward operating base for their uphill battle to reclaim the Void,” Phantom explained. “Think of it as a ‘foot in the door’, if you will. Although, it’s not a foot, but merely the tip of your big toe.”
“Huh, that sounds very accurate,” Striker remarked.
“If you’ve noticed,” Phantom mumbled. “The ASC… struggle to gain territory in the Void.”
“HRAAAAAAGGGHHH!!!” a combined shriek filled the air. The three women turned their attention towards the source of the screams and found what seemed to be hundreds of Harvester Runners heading towards the city.
“They’re welcomed with daily invasions by the Harvesters, who seem to be drawn by the energy from the Lightkeeper Forcefield,” Phantom added.
“This is our cue to sneak in,” Firefly said as she took a step forward. “Let’s go.”
I sat in my seat in Class 2-1, watching as my sister began her morning lecture for the day. She started off by beginning the history of the Alliance Space Command, and I felt my eyes begin to close slowly from boredom.
Akane-nee… I didn’t know you were so boring…
“And then, that brings me to my next question,” her voice said. “Kitaru!” my eyes widened and I looked at her. “Falling asleep in class, huh?”
All eyes in the classroom turned to face me, and I nervously chuckled before shaking my head. “Of-of course not! I’m wide awake, Ozaki-sensei!”
“Then, tell me…” she narrowed her gray eyes at me. “What was the name of the treaty signed by every country that was the foreground to the Alliance Space Command?”
“Ozaki-kun…” I heard Chizuru whisper over to me. “It’s the Star Harmony Plan…”
“Ah, the Star Harmony Plan!” I replied to my sister with a smile.
“Hmm… very well,” she rubbed her chin. “Maybe next time, you shouldn’t have to have Yamamura-san lend you some help?”
“Aheh…” I rubbed the back of my head, and my sister stared at me with anger before continuing her lecture.
More time flew by and I found myself resting my head on my crossed arms over my desk, and I felt someone tap my shoulder. I looked over and I found Chizuru.
“Ozaki-kun, something’s happening.”
Chizuru motioned to the front of the room, where I saw Akane-nee speaking with Yusa by the doorway. Akane-nee was looking at a piece of paper. Before I knew it, she was pointing towards me – I looked in their direction and met Yusa’s golden-yellow eyes, so full of intelligence and arrogance.
“It seems the Student Council President is here…” Chizuru muttered in a low voice. “I wonder why…”
“Huh, me too,” I brought my head up.
My sister walked back into the room, with Yusa behind her, along with two members of the Disciplinary Committee who wore red armbands signifying their allegiance.
“Kitaru Ozaki,” Yusa’s booming voice stated, her finger drawn and pointing at me. “You’ve been summoned to the Headmistress’ office immediately.”
“Hu-huh?” I looked at Yusa with a raised brow.
“Kitaru,” my sister looked at me with a stern look. “Go.”
“Right,” I nodded and I stood up from my seat, grabbing my schoolbag off the floor.
Chizuru whispered over to me. “I’ll give you the notes later on tonight, Ozaki-kun.”
I thanked her and walked down the steps to the front of the classroom, and I began to follow Yusa and the members of the Disciplinary Committee to the Administrative Building. Complete silence between the four of us as we walked, and I glanced over at Yusa, finding her to avoid my stare.
“Tachibana-san, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” she said, not looking at me. “Think, idiot, what did you do in the past couple days that would probably warrant you being escorted to the Headmistress’ office during class by members of the Disciplinary Committee?”
I rubbed my chin in thought.
“And, no, not what you did to me,” she said. “That, however, is a count on your record.”
“Huh? My student record?”
“No, your personal record with me.”
“I’m honored to have a personal record with you, Tachibana-san.”
We continued our walk in silence once more, arriving at the Administrative Building where Toyosaki-sensei greeted us with happiness, and we took the elevator up to the top floor where the Headmistress’ office was located.
Yusa knocked on the door, and it slid open. The two Disciplinary Committee members bowed and left Yusa and I to the Headmistress, who sat down at her desk.
“Ah, Ozaki-kun, welcome!” the Headmistress said to me with a smile on her face. “Come on in! You too, Tachibana-chan, he’s your partner after all.”
“You,” I looked at Yusa. “You made it seem a whole lot worse than what it actually is, you know that?”
“Not my fault your idiot brain took it like that,” she scoffed.
“Please, sit down!” the Headmistress said to us. We obliged and sat down at the two seats in front of her desk, facing the older woman in silence. “I’m sorry that I had to ask Tachibana-chan to pull you out from class, Ozaki-kun. I’m sure you were paying attention to your sister’s wonderful lecture, no?”
“Aheh!” I rubbed the back of my head and nervously chuckled. “Of course! My sister has always been a professional at going into detail when she describes things, so I’m used to it!”
“He was actually asleep during Ozaki-sensei’s lecture,” Yusa chimed in.
My eyes widened and I looked at Yusa with disbelief.
Betrayal! How could you, Tachibana-san!? Are you out here just trying to get me in trouble!?
I heard light snoring and I looked back at the Headmistress, finding her beginning to doze off.
She fell asleep!
“Huh?” the Headmistress snorted, her eyes shooting open. “Ah, anyways, how are you two doing? Since we spoke last night.”
“Better,” Yusa muttered in a meek voice. “We did the inventory check you asked for, and every student is now equipped with their weapons and armor – everything went swell.”
I nodded along with Yusa.
“I couldn’t have expected anything more from you two,” the older woman gave us a warm smile. “Good job.”
“Do you mind telling us what we were summoned here for, Headmistress?” Yusa asked.
“I have something to show you two from yesterday,” she said to us. “This was taken from the Administrative Building.”
“Huh?” I looked at the screen.
A video played on the screen, and I watched with wide eyes and a shocked look on my face as I saw myself sneaking into the room with Divine Weapons. I felt nervous, with beads of sweat beginning to form on my face. The video ended and I looked back at the Headmistress, quickly glancing at Yusa to find a disapproved look on her face.
“So, the question comes to play,” she propped her elbows up on the desk and leaned forward. “Do you mind telling me what it is you were doing in the room with the Divine Weapons?”
She nodded towards my hands, and I looked down and found them to be glowing with the blue light.
“It’s a… it’s a long story…” I said to her.
Yusa looked at me as well and the Headmistress gestured for me to begin telling them what happened – and so I did. I told them about how the blue light in the Administrative Building called to me, when I touched Danketsu I ended up inside of the sword, and how I met Itsuko and became the new guardian of Danketsu, gaining majutsu and then being given the mission to reclaim the Void for humanity.
“And this all happened within the time you were gone?” Yusa had a raised brow on her curious face. “I don’t believe it, you weren’t even gone for more than a minute at most.”
“Ozaki-kun… is everything okay at home?” the Headmistress asked me with a worried look on her face.
“You expect us to believe your story?” Yusa scoffed. “I don’t buy it for a second. You’re just being an idiot again.”
“Watch this!” I said as I stood up from my seat, and I tightened my grip while simultaneously closing my eyes. “Hachiman’s Armor!” I yelled, awaiting the blue armor pieces to form over my body. I opened them to find the Headmistress and Yusa staring at me, bewildered. Looking down, I found no armor pieces over my body.
“Are you… okay, Ozaki-kun?” the Headmistress asked me.
“I told you, Headmistress,” Yusa said with a blank look on her face. “He’s an idiot.”
“Hmmm…” the Headmistress rubbed her chin, before she had a surprised look on her face. She opened one of the few drawers in her desk and pulled out an H45 Pistol. She aimed it at me and I felt my jaw drop. “Brace yourself, Ozaki-kun.”
“ARE YOU CRAZY!?” I screamed, before the Headmistress pulled the trigger and fired a shot at me. I felt myself lose control of my body, and I stood defiant before the bullet. “Hachiman’s Armor!”
In an instant, the blue armor pieces formed over my body and I watched as the bullet was blocked. Yusa and the Headmistress were taken aback, and I felt myself regain control of my body.
“It’s as it seems, Tachibana-chan,” the Headmistress said as she put the H45 Pistol back in her drawer. “I mean, if Ozaki-kun didn’t block that shot, he would have been dead by now and I would have most likely gotten a verbal warning.”
“Verbal warning for killing a student?” I grimaced.
“No, I’m joking, I definitely would have been fired,” the Headmistress sighed.
“You trusted this idiot’s story enough to test him?” Yusa exclaimed, her face filled with shock and blushing red. “What if he was telling one of his stupid stories and died!?”
“Tachibana-chan…” the Headmistress laughed before raising a hand. She opened her palm and a light-green aura appeared, revealing the Headmistress was capable of majutsu. “I could sense Ozaki’s majutsu from a mile away.”
“Majutsu or not, you still shot at a student, Headmistress!” Yusa barked.
“You seem to care, Tachibana-chan,” the Headmistress said with a sly smile. Yusa flinched and looked away from us, muttering something I couldn’t hear under her breath.
This is all too crazy for me… how many times do I have to ask before I can have my old life back?
“Well, this changes everything!” the Headmistress exclaimed. “With your newfound powers from Danketsu, we might actually have a chance at survival against the Harvesters! However, there is one problem…”
“What would that be?” Yusa and I asked her together.
“You don’t seem to be able to control your majutsu properly…” the Headmistress frowned. She then showed us her hand, and it lit up with a small purple flame. “I don’t believe we can do much in the moment until you unlock your full potential.”
“… What do we do, then?” I asked as I shrugged. “To be honest, I was honestly just dragged into all of this…”
“Well, I’ll see what I can do,” the Headmistress sighed. “Until then, continue on with your usual duties. We still have students we need to teach, and now… we have a Void to reclaim. This puts a lot of things at play now, you two. I’ll keep you both updated, but as for now, you’re dismissed.”
The two of us stood up and bowed towards the Headmistress, who began to type something into her computer, but not before giving us a warm smile and a quick wave before we left.
Yusa and I left the Headmistress’ office and exited the Administrative Building, being told to have a good day by Toyosaki-sensei, and we walked down the stone path of the Miyamoto Academy towards the school building. Birds chirped in the air and the trees around us rustled.
She looked at me, a serious look on her face. “I’m going to say it again. Never did I expect to be paired up with someone like you, but now that we have a real task at hand…let’s do our best to work together.”
We looked up towards the blue, cloudless sky together.
“Yeah,” I nodded.
Firefly, Striker, and Phantom looked around as they found themselves on the other side of the Lightkeeper Forcefield. The sight was different than what they saw in the Void – in the place of the gloomy sky was that of stars and the moon, and they could hear the nighttime animals running about with crickets in the near distance instead of the eerie silenced mixed with groans of the undead in the Void.
After using the invasion of the hundreds of Harvester Runners to the Breach as a way of blending in with the Black Wolves, Team Seven managed to infiltrate from the Void with ease.
Firefly tapped into her communications device. “This is Team Seven, we’ve reached our entry point from the Void. We slipped through with ease and were not detected by the ASC. Awaiting further orders.”
“Well done, you three,” the deep female voice from earlier reported back. “Your task now is to rally with the other teams then proceed towards the next objective. Reaper, out.”
“Other teams, huh?” Striker grunted. “I wonder who else we’re goin’ to be meeting up with.”
“I’m not necessarily a supporter of how they’re running this operation,” Phantom stated harshly. “I prefer ones that are planned out, not updated as we go.”
Firefly looked up to the moon and she raised a brow. The moonlight shone down upon her, and for a split second, her gray eyes turned crimson-red before she turned away.
She scoffed, shaking her head towards Striker and Phantom.
“I’ve forgotten how much I hated the moon.”
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