Chapter 15:

Whatever It Takes, Part 1


It was past 5 pm when Yukio finished tidying up his room and packing up whatever little stuff he needed. He took out the phone to call Amanda, but then put it down, hesitatingly.Bookmark here

There’s still time…Bookmark here

Last night, after Amanda left, he chatted with Onee-san for quite some time. She told him about her husband, Arthur-san; about how they met each other during a trip, fell in love, managed their parents (Yukio remembers all the pleading she had to do for uncle’s approval), and decided to move to the States. Yukio glossed over most of the messages, but he could feel the energy radiating from them. She had always been like that, passionate about everything. Whatever ‘normal-ness’ Yukio has inside him, wouldn’t have been there without her.Bookmark here

While she was there beside him, Yukio didn’t have any problems. Sure, he didn’t have many friends, but he was content with the few people who talked to him. His life was never the same after his parents died… but he doesn’t know what kind of life he would’ve lived if Onee-san wasn’t there for him.Bookmark here

Wrong. He does know.Bookmark here

A life of uncertainty, restlessness, and apathy.Bookmark here

A life that began after she left.Bookmark here

Yukio checked MINE once more. There were no new messages. Only three people talked to him there; Onee-san, Amanda, and Hirata-san (although he just talked to Hirata-san once, about a class note he didn’t get).Bookmark here

He opened Onee-san’s chat. She hadn’t checked his last message yet.Bookmark here

He sent another message, “Going out. Wish me luck.”Bookmark here

After closing the app, Yukio took a deep breath.Bookmark here

Okay. It’s decided.Bookmark here

He called Amanda.Bookmark here

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When they reached Kegmar, Yukio was surprised to see they were already inside a building.Bookmark here

After the call, it didn’t take long for Amanda to materialize out of thin air. She was wearing a jeans-and-tee combo, same as him. After asking him whether he was ready, she told him to ditch the suitcase. And also his phone.Bookmark here

“The phone won’t work there, and sleeping arrangements have been made already. Remember, you’re not going on a trip. As long as you’re there, you have to be alert.”Bookmark here

He thought they would go to Katori and meet up with others before setting out. But she had other plans.Bookmark here

“Okay, listen carefully. Your job is staying here, and keeping an eye on that entrance. As you can see, there aren’t many places to hide here, so you have to be careful. The Weimers will come through that door, since they haven’t been here before. The moment that door opens, hide behind the staircase and walkie us. One of us would come and get you, and the rest would be taken care of by the Rangers.”Bookmark here

That much he knew already.Bookmark here

“What is it we’re protecting here?”Bookmark here

Amanda said in a mysterious way, “Something really valuable. But since you just need to keep an eye on it, stationing one of the Navigators here would’ve been a waste of manpower. No offence, but you’re perfect for this job.”Bookmark here

“But… what is it?”Bookmark here

With a sigh, Amanda said, “Something we stole from them. They will be coming to look for it, and we cannot let it fall back into their hands.”Bookmark here

Looking at his quizzical expression, she sighed, “Look, I’ve already told you about Weimers, and whatever you needed to know. We don’t have much time now. Here is your walkie, and here’s your lunch.”Bookmark here

After giving him a walkie-talkie and a box, she said as an afterthought, “Trust me, if this mission succeeds, you won’t have any more questions ever again.”Bookmark here

Yukio felt a bit confused, but before he could say anything, she disappeared. Disappointed, he decided to check out his surroundings.Bookmark here

The building did look like a castle, but didn’t have any of its bells and whistles, i.e. fancy design, high ceilings, etc. He was at the ground floor, and all he could see here were smooth walls of white stone all around him, and a spiral staircase that connected him with the other floors. It was just one big square space, with a big wooden door at a corner of it.Bookmark here

Which he just needed to… observe.Bookmark here

He thought about checking out the other floors, but then decided otherwise. This was likely his final chance. If he made another mistake, he might never get the chance to use his powers…Bookmark here

Wait. That’s not it. I can still use my powers.Bookmark here

Yukio remembered how he seemingly jumped between buildings on Earth 2.0. Although he ended up somewhere he had never been before, that might’ve been due to some glitch. His mind was probably trying to process his newfound power, but since he never knew about it during his childhood, it was hard for him to control it now.Bookmark here

All pure guesswork, but probably not far from the target.Bookmark here

Keeping an eye on the door, he sat on a step of the staircase and waited.Bookmark here

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Yukio was deciding whether to eat or not, when he heard a sound from above.Bookmark here

It was such a soft sound, he wrote it off as a byproduct of his bored mind. But when he heard the sound again, this time louder, he stood up.Bookmark here

There were people in this building, on the floor exactly above him.Bookmark here

Amanda said the Weimers would come from outside, since they haven’t been inside the building before. What if she was wrong? This was their land, after all.Bookmark here

For a few seconds, he contemplated whether to go upstairs or not. But the answer was obvious. Whatever he was protecting was at the upper floor, and clearly it was no longer empty.Bookmark here

Instinctively, Yukio clicked the walkie and waited with bated breath.Bookmark here

Nothing happened.Bookmark here

He clicked it a few more times, even tried to talk to the person on the other side. But other than the sound of the static, there was no response.Bookmark here

Taking deep breaths, he sat down again. Something was wrong. No one was coming, and the sound on the upper floor was getting louder. As if someone was not only walking, but banging his body somewhere.Bookmark here

Yukio closed his eyes.Bookmark here

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Why is he here?Bookmark here

If it was anyone else, they would’ve abandoned all their dreams of heroism after witnessing the Ohara massacre. He still couldn’t use his powers properly, and he discovered just how big of a factor that is during the last Expedition. Then why was he still here?Bookmark here

The truth was, he had known the answer for a long time.Bookmark here

He slowly opened his eyes, and glanced upwards. Whoever was up there, it was now his responsibility to stop them.Bookmark here

That was his punishment.Bookmark here

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