Chapter 12:

Frenemy Fire

Soul Weapon

April 30th, 3184

Monday - Afternoon

“So, are you nervous,” I ask Kiyoko, who sits across from me.

“I mean,” she says as she finishes chewing her sandwich, “I’m a little nervous, I guess. Not so much about the fight, but the audience.”

“Right,” I say, slowly nodding my head.

“Like, all of us don’t have the best reputation around here. I can’t fight, you don’t have control, and Miho skips ahead. And if we want to include Ena, it’s that she’s a suck-up jerk. Most of us are good fighters, sure, but it’s just hard to be me when we have all of these eyes looking down on us. So today isn’t just about trying to get ahead in the tournament, it’s to try and lift those eyes away. But if I fail, then they’re placed on me even more. That idea… is just scary.”

I reach over and place my hand on hers.

“It’s going to be okay. I don’t know what you can do but if it’s anything related to Mei’s appearance, I think you’ll do fine. Miho’s strong, though. He won’t give up. The one issue that you have is that you don’t have that fighting stamina that he does, and that’s his only advantage against you. If you can get past that, I’m sure you’ll win.”

Kiyoko looks down at my hand and speaks.

“Thank you.”

After some conversation, the clock almost strikes 6 p.m. so Kiyoko and I finish eating and head to the fighting grounds. After my fight, Miho disappeared before I received a text saying that he’s getting in some extra practice before his fight. Kiyoko and I find a seat on the crowded bleachers and wait for Isamu’s match to start. This time around, however, there are noticeably more people waiting to watch this fight. After the match Isamu had with Takashi earlier, it’s no wonder people are anticipated to see this one. After a few minutes of waiting, Isamu makes it to the stage with his opponent soon following. His opponent, Genji, is a bit of a scrawny fellow. He has brown shaggy hair with large round glasses. He looks like your typical ‘nerd’ you’d see in a tv show or movie.

“Are you ready, Genji,” Isamu asks.

After a moment to think, Genji responds with a nod.

“I… I think so, yeah. I won’t hold back.”

The referee took this as confirmation and started to back up with her hand in the air.

“Three! Two! One! Activate your Soul Gear,” she exclaimed as she swung her hand down.

Both Isamu and Genji exclaimed, “First Gear!”

From around Isamu’s waist materialized his two drums while on Genji’s side—barely noticeable—his fingertips formed what looked to be red and blue tape placed on them alternating colors between fingers. Right above his hands then formed two large horseshoe magnets that hovered around him. At first appearance, his Soul Gear looks similar to Ena’s.

After a moment of silence between the two, Isamu started to play his drums as ash eventually began spewing out of the bottoms, much like with his battle against Takashi. As his ash snakes slithered through the air, Genji then started to wiggle and move his fingers. As he did, his magnets began to move. As if his fingers had strings attached to his large magnets—like a puppeteer—they started to fly at his command.

One of Isamu’s ash snakes shot toward Genji at an immense speed. Genji then commanded his magnet to intercept and disrupt the snake, creating a small ashy explosion as they collided.

Another snake swooped down and swept Genji off of his feet, smacking into the ground on his shoulder. Then, a second ash snake, barely hovering against the ground, bashes into Genji’s stomach, sending him spinning off the arena. Mid-air, Genji extends his hands and fingers then pulls them in. His horseshoe magnets fly toward him as he catches them. They then spin him around and fly him back on the stage, close to where he was before.

“Wow,” Genji huffs as he clenches his gut, “That was a close one.”

Isamu laughs as he sends more snakes at Genji. As an extension of their bodies, the ash and magnets slam against each other as if they were throwing punches like powerful anime characters, almost too fast for the eye to see. Despite the strength and speed of Genji’s magnets, Isamu was able to sneak some hits in every once in a while that immediately tore into the clothing and flesh of Genji’s body.

Isamu then sends two more snakes speeding toward Genji. This time, they start to collide together and spin into one larger snake. Genji extends his hand in front of him as his magnets follow. They start to spin like a fan and grind against the ash barreling toward him. After a few moments, the snake was fully consumed by Genji’s magnet fan. Now, ash particles all hover around the entire battlefield and arena.

“Shoot,” Genji whispers.

“Caught you in a trap,” Isamu smirks.

Isamu continues playing his drums more fiercely as the ash starts to vibrate and shoot toward Genji. Genji holds up his hands to protect his face from the thousands of tiny ash shrapnel that slice his body. His nose starts to bleed as the ash pierces the inside of his nostril. Being pelted by ash, Genji forcibly extends his fingers as his hands shake from the pressure. Suddenly, the ash in the surrounding air starts to speed toward—not Genji, but the magnets that hover in the air.

Moving his hands as if he’s throwing cards, Genji puppets his magnets to spin in the air. After a moment, the ash connected to the magnets and the surrounding ash started to form a tornado in the air. As if a storm was happening above him, the ash and magnets caused a strong wind in the arena. Looking up at the storm above then back to Genji, Isamu starts playing his drums once more. More ash forms around him as he shoots it at the defenseless Genji. However suddenly, as the ash reaches halfway across the field, it gets sucked up into the storm.

Genji then flicks his hand down then toward Isamu as one of his magnets quickly shoots down from the sky and shoots toward Isamu. Isamu crosses his arms, bracing for impact as the magnet slams into him as many cracks could be heard. The force slides Isamu back a few feet as the magnet retreats into the storm above. His hands, now shaky, make their way back to the drums as Isamu continues to play them.

As if he was throwing baseballs, Genji swung his hands as the magnets swooped down and slammed into Isamu’s body. One to his left leg, almost making it give out; another to his right shoulder, slowing the movement of his drumming on that side; another to his chest that jumps his breathing. Without much strength in his body and the storm above, Isamu could do nothing but stand in place and take the hits.

Genji continued to throw his magnets at Isamu, bashing him in the torso, legs, arms, and anywhere else they could hit. Isamu’s eyes turned white as he grows unconscious, yet still stands. Sweat dropped from Isamu’s body as his body struggled to stay afoot. His ash slowed to a stop as he forced it to at least stay floating. Genji, across the arena, catches his breath as he rests his hands on his knees. He looks up at Isamu, awaiting his next move. Isamu then drops to a knee, about to fully collapse. Genji catches his breath and continues to stare at Isamu. A tear falls down Genji’s eye.

“I forfeit,” Genji exclaims, “I don’t want to do this.”

As more tears fall down Genji’s face, he slogs his way over to Isamu. Isamu’s head slowly attempts to lift up as he grumbles something.

“No,” he croaks.

“You can’t even stand.”

“Let’s… Let’s keep going…”

Genji stands over Isamu, tears spilling over as he cries his words.

“I didn’t know it was like that… I don’t like hurting people—I just don’t like it. It makes me feel really bad… I’m sorry…”

Looking up, Genji’s tears fall in front of Isamu. He reaches his arm up and pulls himself to his feet with the support of Genji. Keeping hold of Genji’s shoulder, he wraps his arms around him, hugging him.

“I’m so sorry,” Genji cries.

“It’s alright,” Isamu manages to spit out, “You didn’t hurt me.”

The crowd, silent, stares in awe at the two of them on the arena. The referee slowly makes her way to the stage and walks up to Isamu and Genji.

“By forfeit,” the referee stated, “Isamu is our winner for this match!”

Awkwardly, she makes her way off the stage.

“Genji,” Isamu mumbles, “Go to the back room… I’ll meet you there.”

“Okay,” Genji sniffles as he nods his head.

Isamu smiles and nods back at Genji as he leaves for the back room. Isamu stood motionless in the center of the stage as his drums finally dissipated along with the ash. Then, when Genji exited the room, Isamu immediately collapsed to the ground with a slam. The nurses quickly surrounded Isamu and took him to a more private location to monitor his health.

“Wow,” I said, the only words that could come out of my mouth.

“Yeah,” Kiyoko said in awe beside me.

The two of us sit in silence as the rest of the crowd does. After a moment, Kiyoko spoke up.

“Wait,” Kiyoko says, “Didn’t Isamu seem a lot stronger before? I mean, he was able to keep up with Takashi. As strong as Genji was, he was just waving around a couple magnets, right?”

I pause to think of an answer.

“I think it was just a bad match up,” I state, “Don’t get me wrong, Genji is definitely strong and I don’t think many of us can stand up to him. I mean, who knows what else he can magnetize that would mess up the opponent. But once disabled of his weapon, Isamu couldn’t do much from there.”

“Why not just get physical with it?”

“He just couldn’t. Much like with Ena’s drones, because of those magnets, it’s not a 1v1 at that point, it’s a 3v1.”

“Ohh, right,” Kiyoko says, nodding, “You seem to like analyzing this kind of stuff?”

“This stuff?”

“You know, like their powers, strategies, and whatnot. You’ve had some good insight on the fights so far.”

“Oh, is that so,” I chuckled nervously as I scratched the side of my head, “I just want to be prepared for who I might need to fight one day—and even in this tournament.”

Kiyoko nods her head as I continue.

“And speaking of getting prepared, your match is coming up soon. Is there anything you need to do to get ready?”

“Hm,” Kiyoko thinks, “Just being with you is enough for right now. It keeps me distracted.”

Kiyoko then shoots up and exits the bleachers as I blush. Looking back, she motions me to follow. We end up getting a small snack and mingling down the halls before returning to the prep room.

“Alright,” I say as we stand outside the door, “Good luck.”

“Do you mind coming in? There’s going to be people in there and I’ll just feel uncomfortable.”

“Oh, of course,” I nod my head.

We enter the prep room to find the same staff catering to different students. We still haven’t seen Miho since my match and he’s nowhere to be found in the room either. Is he going to skip this fight? No, that doesn’t sound like him. I sit Kiyoko down in one of the seats and lean against the back of the chair as we both stare into the mirror.

“Your first fight,” I murmur, “It’s exciting.”

“Thank you,” Kiyoko smiles.

“For what?”

“I know when we first met, I could tell you were confused. Confused why I stuck around you. You just had that awkward, on edge presence about you,” Kiyoko laughs, “But things weren’t easy for me either. I’ve never said this before but my problems with others didn’t start this year. Because I was always able to talk to Mei, people saw me as weird. At first, as a kid, it’s fine—everyone had imaginary friends. But then theirs went away. Mine didn’t. They saw me as a freak. A girl who stared off into space and talked to herself. I tried to keep my interactions with Mei to a minimum and everyone eventually forgot. But then, obviously, the new issues started. I just want people to see me for what I can do, not for what I seem.”

“Yeah,” I say, staring into Kiyoko’s eyes through the reflection, “I understand.”

“Kiyoko,” a man asked, walking up to us.

Startled, Kiyoko jumps and spins her head to the man.


“We can start your match a couple minutes early if you’d like. You can head out now.”

“Oh, okay,” Kiyoko nodded her head.

She looks back up at me.

“You ready,” I ask.

With a pause, Kiyoko nods her head.


Kiyoko gets up as the man escorts her to the arena entrance before she pauses. She looks down and clenches her fist. Spinning around, Kiyoko then runs to me and wraps her arms around me. After a moment, she releases me and jumps a step back.

“For good luck,” she says with her face red as a beet.

Kiyoko then spins back around and marches out of the prep room and to the battlegrounds to meet the average sized crowd. Miho, standing in the middle of the arena0 already, locks eyes with Kiyoko as she approaches. He then bursts into a cliché supervillain laugh.

“Come face your wrath, Kiyoko,” Miho exclaims with his arms extended, inviting her to the fight.

“Oh my god,” Kiyoko whispers to herself.

I run back around through the main prep room’s exit and into the battlegrounds. I quickly find a seat near the front and watch as Kiyoko makes her way to her side of the arena.

“Kiyoko Shimida, are you ready to start this match,” the referee asks her.


“Now, Miho. Are you—”

“Of course I am,” Miho exclaims, interrupting the man, “Let’s get this started already! Three! Two! One! Let’s go!”

Miho flicks his left hand out and yells.

“First Gear!”

His golden sword forms in the palm of his hand as it glows as light yellow. The referee sighs as he swings his hand down, officially starting the match—not immediately disqualifying Miho for starting too early.

Kiyoko then yells, “First Gear!”

I lean forward in my seat in excitement to see what her Soul Weapon is. From in the air forms a solid black circle with a glass-like exterior. How does this orb have anything to do with Nature, let alone Mei with her strange animal-like appearance. Kiyoko then continued her sentence.

“Tiger Nature!”

Suddenly, from Kiyoko’s hands, claws started to extend out of her fingernails. The same happened with her feet. Kiyoko’s teeth then sharp with two large fangs in the front as slight black lines formed on her face and skin. To top it off, her eyes were given a slight tiger-esque style to them.

Kiyoko then dashes toward and wings at Miho with her claws. He blocks it with her sword and they continue exchanges like this for a while. Kiyoko eventually jumps over Miho and attempts to slice his legs, but he quickly spins around and blocks it.

“You’re quite fast,” Miho says with a smirk, “But not fast enough.”

Kiyoko growls—whether or not that was from her tiger form or just her regular self—as she jumps up and swings at Miho once more. It’s clear that Miho isn’t putting in his all for this fight. Kiyoko did just unlock her First Gear last week so it makes sense that she wouldn’t be able to keep up with him. But the thing is, she’s really fast—Faster than any newbie should be. They continue their back and forth until Kiyoko dashes backward then yells.

“First Gear: Eagle Nature!”

Suddenly, Kiyoko’s tiger features started to disappear as eagle features appeared. Her fingers and toes grew out like large claws as her face slimmed down. Forming down her arms grows two large brown wings that run up to her hands.

With a strong wave of her arms, she propels herself forward and extends her feet—or rather, talons—at Miho as she sinks them deep into his shoulders. Kiyoko then flaps her wings more and pushes the two of them up, flying them into the air. With Miho dangling from his shoulders, Kiyoko flaps her wings and shoots down like a missile into the ground, slamming Miho on his back as the ground cracks beneath him.

Miho screams in pain as Kiyoko lets him go and flies into the air. After a moment, Miho slowly makes his way to his feet and looks up.

“You caught me by surprise,” Miho laughs.

“Yeah, right,” Kiyoko scoffs.

Kiyoko swoops down and dives toward Miho. In response, he crouches down, ready to counter her attack, however—

“First Gear: Reverse Nature!”

Kiyoko’s eagle features started to disappear as they got replaced by—nothing. She’s back to her original self now. From the momentum of her flight, she lands on her knees beside Miho as she slides across the floor behind him.

“First Gear: Panda Nature!”

Around Kiyoko’s eyes, a black ring formed as her arms and legs bulked up. Springing up from her knees, Kiyoko swings her right leg aimed for Miho’s back. He spins around and catches the leg with his side and arm with a grunt.

“You gotta do better than that!”

Clenching his fist with his other hand grabbing Kiyoko’s leg, still in the air, he leans in and extends his arm and punches Kiyoko deep in her gut. The power of the punch sends Kiyoko flying off of the stage and over the out of bounds zone. Her eyes grew white as she reverted back into her human form, getting instantly knocked out by Miho’s devastating punch.

Suddenly, Kiyoko murmurs something.

“Second Gear: Eagle Nature.”

From within the air, large claws and talons grew out of Kiyoko’s hands and feet. Erupting from her back came two large brown wings that spanned twice her height. Kiyoko’s eyes still white, her face narrowed as she grew what appeared to be a brown feathered necklace around her neck.

This was Kiyoko’s Second Gear.

But how? So early after unlocking her first, she now has her second. Flapping her wings, Kiyoko sores down faster than my eye can keep up with and tackles Miho to the ground.

“Rhino Nature,” Kiyoko yelled.

Without her eagle features retreating, her arms grew large and grey much like a rhino’s. With rage in Kiyoko’s eyes as she stands over Miho, she digs her talons deep into his body. Miho attempts to reach back for his sword as Kiyoko charges her arm. She strikes him in the face with a deep thud. Kiyoko continues bashing his head into the ground dozens of times until Kiyoko’s body goes limp.

“Se—eugh,” Miho gargles under the weight of Kiyoko’s fists.

Noticing Miho’s condition, the referee and some teachers run to the stage in an attempt to pull Kiyoko off. With her wings, she pushes everyone away. With Miho still under her feet, Kiyoko stands straight and scans the arena, crowd silent from shock and fear. Looking through the audience, she locks eyes with me. We held each other's gaze for a few seconds before Kiyoko removed her talons from Miho’s chest.

Kiyoko then walked to the other side of the arena, referees and teachers too on edge to do anything. Without saying anything, all of her animalistic features slowly transform back inside of her. Kiyoko slowly takes a seat on the ground and lies on her back.

She didn’t get back up.