Chapter 2:



Well, it could be worse. He could have seen what my right arm actually looks like, Aria thought to herself.

“I-isei? Who is that?” Isei’s dad asked, not being able to believe his eyes.

“Ah… well, you see… she’s… she is, well, haha”

After watching him fumble around with his words, Aria took matters into her own hands.

“Hello, Kitagawa-san . It is a shame that we did not have the pleasure to meet in more agreeable circumstances.” Aria stated with a bow.

After Isei’s father did not respond for a couple of seconds, and instead was standing there starstrucked, Aria continued.

“I am Kitagawa-kun’s girlfriend. My name is Aria Kanbaru. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.” she stated with the same sort of charming smile that gave her the moniker “Matsune Kujikawa of the second years”.

Considering that it was an effective technique for charming the son, it was bound to have a similar effect on the father.

Even after Aria’s impromptu explanation, Isei’s father managed to seem more starstrucked than he was initially. He reflexively looked at Isei as if to assess whether or not this was just some type of sick joke. With all his might, Isei tried to refrain from letting his own bewilderment show on his face.

Isei’s father shook his head as if attempting to wake up from a daze.

“Wait, but how did you get in here?” he stated while looking around the room

“Also, what’s with your eyes, Isei?” he stated, pointing at his son.

Isei had completely forgotten that his new contact lenses, prescribed by no other than Komari, had made his eyes go from having a hazel hue to having a green hue.

As quick on the uptake as she was, Aria immediately responded.

“You see sir, with Isei’s permission I came inside your home before you came back from work, sir. Seeing that I was actually feeling rather fever-stricken, I asked Isei if he could go to the konbini to get me some over-the-counter meds. That’s why it seemed as if he and I came back from school at separate times. We were actually planning on having Isei introduce us, but seeing as I suddenly felt sick once I got here I was hoping that we could do this another day whenever I was feeling fully recuperated..”

She paused suddenly and averted her gaze downwards. She proceeded to grab the back of her right arm with her left as if restraining herself. Directing her gaze at Isei’s father, she was wearing a modest expression.

“The truth is, I was feeling quite nervous at the prospect of meeting you for the first time, sir.” she stated, while crossing her legs and sliding the tip of her right shoe on the floor.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience… sir.” she managed.

Compared to her aforementioned cheerful expression, her mein was now apologetic and regretful. Paradoxically, however, it had an allure that was not entirely unlike her cheerful expression as both aroused doting feelings.

As Isei watched her put on this act, he couldn’t help but be slightly enchanted himself. When he realized that it was actually an act, however, he couldn't help but be impressed. Her technique was fool proof. Adopt a pretense of embarrassment as a means to make someone that is questioning your authenticity question their own justification for questioning you, making the questioner feel, even if it’s for a moment, that they could be in the wrong. Even though he would never be able to pull off something that required this level of cuteness, he still thought the strategy was brilliant. Isei had lived almost all of the portion of his school life trying to find ways to make excuses in order to get away with doing the bare minimum. As a fellow adopter-of-pretenses, he couldn’t help but clap internally at her well orchestrated act.

She had definitely pulled her ulti, Isei thought.

“No, no, no, it’s no problem at all! I totally understand.” Isei’s father stated, waving his hands in front of him. Isei was impressed that Aria could engender such a reaction from his father, a reaction that Isei himself had never seen.

“As for the green eyes though…” Isei’s father said, directing his gaze at his son.

Both pairs of eyes, Aria’s and Isei’s father’s, were now looking at Isei. Isei felt an instinctual knee-jerk reaction. Even though these were technically contact lenses, he couldn’t help but be tripped up by the fact that they were used to alleviate the symptoms of FPR. He could just go ahead and say that they were contact lenses that he got because of his supposed bad vision, which would be consistent with what he told Aria. Before he could come up with his answer, Aria refused to pass the baton, deciding to take the initiative herself.

“Oh I just thought it would make for a nice gift to give him colored lenses so he can cosplay as a character that he really likes. Kitagawa-kun was just trying them out.” Aria replied.

Isei did not expect Aria to take the initiative in the way that she did. Many questioning thoughts were floating around Isei’s mind at the moment. Did she think I was too slow? She must want to minimize the possibility of arousing any sort of suspicion. Just who is this girl? Isei thought to himself.

Even though Isei’s father still seemed shocked, he no longer seemed confused having bought into Aria’s shrewd on-the-spot artifice.

Not wasting any time, Aria made it a point to get out of there as quickly as possible. As she was about to attempt to beat a hasty retreat, she suddenly remembered that she left her school bag on Isei’s bed. But more importantly, she left her gun inside her school bag. She snagged it nonchalantly, as if it didn’t contain a lethal weapon and was merely a regular school-girl’s backpack.

“My, it’s getting quite late. I should get going now.”.

She turned towards Isei’s father and bowed before heading to the front door. Isei and his father followed in haste.

As Isei was watching his unpredictable classmate at the door, his father grabbed Isei’s arm and shook it back and forth.

“What are you waiting for? Go escort the lady home!” Isei’s dad declared.


Isei wasn’t entirely repulsed at the prospect of walking a girl home, especially not a girl as cute as Aria. Given what had happened today though, Isei thought to himself that he was better off not associating with this girl ever again. After all, not only did she break into his home, but she had him pinned as someone that was suspicious enough to warrant threatening him. In short, she was a crazy robotic chick under the facade of a cute and popular high school girl. He wanted none of the former.

“It’s very kind of you to suggest that Kitagawa-san. But Kitagawa-kun always makes it a point to escort me home. That’s just the type of upstanding guy that he is. Plus we have to talk, don’t we, Kitagawa-kun?” she replied, looking at Isei with a warm expression. Despite the warmness in her expression, Isei couldn’t help but feel a sharp coldness in the undertones of her last statement.

Isei’s dad snorted, seemingly involuntarily, as if it was an instinctual reaction to be skeptical of what Aria just said. “Sure that’s true?”

“Yeah, whatever, I’ll go.” Isei stated begrudgingly, more out of spite for his father’s reaction than anything.

Even though she had nothing to do with this duo, Aria couldn’t help but feel the tension between the two. She hadn’t decided what role she was going to play in making sure that Isei wasn’t going to be a threat, but she felt that understanding her target would be worthwhile. So she took note of this palpable tension.

“I hope to see you again soon, Kitagawa-san!” Aria stated, as the pair left the house.

Aria was leading the way as I followed her. I placed myself a couple of meters behind her for my sake. The streets of my neighborhood were barren, the occasional streetlight flickering adding to the desolate nature of a chilly late fall night. My strategy was simple. Once enough time passed I would just walk back so that my dad wouldn’t suspect that I didn’t walk her home all the way. Plus, I had a strong feeling that if I tried to beat a hasty retreat, I would only place myself in a load of more trouble with this girl.

Still, there were plenty of things that were bothering me about this whole thing that I wanted to clear up now.

As I was pondering how to address my worries, she quickly turned the corner towards a back alley. I turned towards the back alley only to notice that she was no longer there.

How uneventful, I thought to myself.

“I guess it can’t be helped.” I said to myself with a sigh. Just as I was about to go back I was extruded towards that same back alley by an invisible force.

My body being forced up against the wall, Aria manifested yet again from having been invisible. It seemed like her ability to turn invisible wasn’t a symptom of FPR but rather an ability that she actually had at her disposal. This time, I could only roughly make out the outline of her visage and of her body due to the somber lighting of the back alley

“Really, another threat?” I asked, exasperated.

“Do you really think you are in a position to play the sensible one, Isei Kitagawa?”

“I mean, yes. I already showed you that I am just a regular high school student. What more do you want from me?”

As I said that, I took a good look at Aria’s face. I suddenly thought back to a couple of minutes earlier when I was about to cross the final crosswalk before getting home. I had thought to myself, even if it was just for a moment, that God would grant me a girlfriend that was waiting for me in my room. God had a twisted way of fulfilling my fantasies. Did God see me as some type of ultra masochist who took pleasure in getting pushed around by a girl with a gun and surprising strength? God didn’t understand me at all, or perhaps this was all a joke to him.

“I already told you what it is that I want you to tell me, Isei Kitagawa.”

Suddenly, I thought back to the queries that I never got to answer.

“How about before I do that you start off by telling me what the hell you were saying back there? Why the hell would you pretend to be my girlfriend in front of my dad?!”

“It’s because I pity your contemptible existence, Isei Kitagawa.”

“What?! You don’t know anything about me! And stop saying my full name at the end of every sentence.”

The words that came out of her mouth hardly sounded like something that a well-liked and popular honor’s student would say to a fellow classmate.

“Let’s get back to the main topic. I’ll repeat my questions one at a time so that even you can understand. Why were you staring at me during lunch today? You had such a suspiciously creepy look on your face.”

“Mrgh… that’s… well…”

Well, what was it? I guess I don’t really have an excuse for this one.

“But… I wasn’t staring at you creepily… right?”

“Is that a declarative statement or a question?”

I didn’t even know myself.

She cleared her throat.

“Hmph, well I suppose that someone with my level of influence and looks would attract the attention of a creepy guy like you. Maybe I jumped the gun on this one a bit.”

“How humble of you! Also, was that a pitiful attempt at an apology?”

“Not really, also I’m quite surprised that you didn’t complain about me calling you creepy.” she stated

“I have a feeling that even if I did you wouldn’t stop calling me that.”

“You are probably right, Isei Kitagawa”

I felt that the force she was using to push me against the wall lessened ever so slightly.

“Now, on to my next question. How did you know that I was going to be in the annex during P.E?”

This one was easy.

“I didn’t know that you were going to be there, I swear.”

“Oh sure, it’s just common knowledge that the annex in the auxiliary building is the place to be during P.E”

She wasn’t budging, and perhaps that was to be expected. It was rather strange that I would have not only gone to the annex building during P.E, but that I would have ended up there at the same time that she was having a meeting with God-knows-who. I was going to have to think harder about how to iron things out with her.

“Listen, I know it sounds far-fetched but it’s the truth. Here, if we are going to get this misunderstanding cleared up, we are going to have to be honest with each other. There are also a lot of questions that I have on my mind after what I’ve seen today, too. I promise that I’ll be honest and everything will make sense.”

At that, her gaze softened ever so slightly. As if she had noticed, she quickly returned it back to its hostile mode. To my great surprise, she stopped restraining me. My body suddenly thudded to the floor, and I was back on my own two feet.

“Let’s go.” she stated as she walked out of the back alley.

We soon found a park that was not too far from the back alley that we were previously in. After both of us having sat on a park bench, her keeping a great distance from me after placing her school bag on the side that was next to her, shielded by her body from me, I tried to explain everything to her as cogently as possible. I told her about my trip to the nurse’s office, about FPR, about my frequent escapades to the annex, and about everything that I had seen today, including her robotic-arm. I surprised even myself, I hadn’t told this to anyone. Not my friends or my dad. This was to be expected though considering the circumstances that I was in sort of forced me to spill my guts.

“You do strike me as the gloomy type, so I guess that your frequent trips to the annex makes sense. As far as whether what you saw in the annex was a symptom of False Pattern Recognition…”

She hesitated, and looked around the park as if being wary of who could be listening. After a long sigh she spoke up.

“Everything you said that you saw… was real.”

Before I could react, our attention was drawn by what could only be considered to be an anomaly.

“There’s the runaway girl, hehe.”

Isei, still sitting, was dumbfounded by the man that seemed to have popped out of nowhere who was now staring at them. A tall man, taller than Isei had ever seen, with shoulders as broad as he had ever seen, stood imposingly a couple of meters from them. The menacing nature of his sadistic expression was only matched by his eye. His right eye was no regular human eye, rather it was a robotic eye that was infused into the right side of his face, as if stitched together ad hoc.

In a fraction of a second, before Isei could recollect any sense of what was happening, the man dashed towards him with one stride.

Fortunately, he was stopped by a certain someone.

The man cracked a jagged smile.

“So he is important to you then. There’s nothing quite like a threat to show people’s true colors, huh?”

Aria was now standing in front of Isei, who was still sitting as this turn of events had occurred too quickly for him to react. She was holding the man back by using her robotic arm as a barrier, but the more she resisted, the more he pushed forward. Aria’s feet started to burrow into the soil under the soles of her feet as she resisted the man’s impulse.

“Kitagawa… run!” she yelped

Isei, at a crossroads between self-preservation and helping, didn’t know what to do.

“Didn’t you listen to me? I said… run!” she yelled.

The shrill tone of her demand made Isei instinctively stand up and run towards the back of the park. It wasn’t even that he was rationalizing at this point, thinking to himself that even if he did try to help he would only get to her way. Isei was acting on pure raw emotion. Flight didn’t seem like the rational response, it seemed like the only response.

“Oh pity. I guess even a privileged girl like you can’t have everything in life. It doesn’t matter how much you care about others, they always find a way to stab you in the back when you most need help.” he stated as if pitying the girl before him.

Aria could only grit her teeth as she was still resisting the man’s momentum.

The man suddenly stopped budging and instead threw a quick strike with his right arm, hitting Aria directly in the gut. The impact, having been swift and unexpected, extruded her a couple of meters away from the park bench.

Quickly getting back to her feet, she dodged the next strike the man threw at her.

“What is it that you want? Listen, I’m sure that we can negotiate as we always do. You aren’t following their direct orders are you?” she asked this in between dodges.

“You are right that I don’t take direct orders, I don’t take them from anyone. Still, wouldn’t things be simpler if you just returned to the 1st caste?”

She threw a swift quick with her supple right leg, and a booming clashing sound echoed as the man blocked it with his left forearm.

“So basically you are saying that you want to kidnap me and take me back?”

“Not at all.”

At this, Aria was suddenly surprised and let her guard down for a microsecond. That fraction of a second ended up being all it took for the man to take advantage of her carelessness.

He pinned her to the ground suddenly, and restrained her right robotic arm, removing the arm sleeve and revealing it for what it truly looked like.

“S-stop! What the hell… are you doing?”

Aria, kicking with all her might, was trying her hardest to stop herself from being restrained.

The man stuck his fingers inside Aria’s robotic arm, making the girl wince in pain. He quickly pulled out a shiny green stone.

As Aria looked at the shimmering stone, not even she could tell what it was, let alone why the man wanted it.

After having ran faster than I had ever ran in my life, I finally ran out of breath. Grabbing my knees and panting my lungs out, I tried recollecting everything that had occurred so far.

I was still inside the park, but I was at the outer extremities of it compared to where we were both at initially which was the entrance of the park. The park was as quiet as could be with the exception of the sounds of owls and crickets, and the occasional car zooming slowly by on the road that was adjacent to the extremity of the park.

I felt a pit in my stomach. I had just left Aria Kanbaru by herself with a man that was definitely the most threatening person I had ever seen in my life. Even though she said herself that I should run away… I felt pathetic.

“That’s really like you isn’t it”

“Ah, I mean I guess this is a valid excuse to not do any strenuous exercise”

“Sure that’s true?”

I started to hear voices in my head… but this wasn’t due to FPR. No, far from it. These were all things that I had heard today.

Normally, I would just look for the easiest way out of any difficult situation. The path of least resistance is always the path for me. I’ll admit, there were times where I felt within me that it wasn’t the right thing to do. The more I did it though, the more that feeling would numb. But this. This feeling of having left Aria back fighting that menacing man, that left a pit in my conscience that no amount of numbing could treat.

I had to go back.

Surprising even myself, my legs started moving on their own, running as fast as they could back to the park bench.

Within a couple of minutes, I managed to be within the vicinity of where they were at. Even though I couldn’t see them clearly in sight, I kept hearing clanging and shifting around that sounded like two people of their caliber fighting.

Suddenly I realized that I didn’t have a plan. I had been running on pure adrenaline and motivation but there was no strategy to me going back. What the hell was I thinking?!

As I was having an existential crisis, I noticed something that only added to my misery. After hearing footsteps in my vicinity, I noticed that there was a civilian around.

Walking her dog, looking down on her phone as she was pacing along as carefree as someone could be, was none other than that Chiyo girl- Aria’s clingy friend. I was jealous of how carefree she looked. She must have been blasting some pretty loud music on her wireless headphones for her not to hear the clattering that was occurring in the background.

Suddenly, I came to my senses and I realized that this only added to the gravity of the situation. Aria being in danger was one thing, but adding Chiyo - a girl that in all likelihood was normal compared to her robotic friend- would only make this situation worse. Plus, I was able to connect enough pieces together to intuit that Chiyo probably did not know about Aria’s secret. If I had to guess, Aria not swimming had something to do with her robotic arm, and clearly based on what I overheard today during lunch, Chiyo did not know that.

TLDR, I had to get her away from here as soon as possible.

I dashed towards her. Once she noticed someone approaching, her eyes became flying saucers.

Before she could let out a scream, I was able to get close enough for her to recognize me.

“Whaa, you are that guy from earlier during lunch! You almost scared the living daylight out of me.” she stated, taking deep breaths while moving her back forwards and backwards as if she was warming up to do radio calisthenics.

“Now's not the time for that!” I stated sternly.

“Huh? What’s wrong?”

How was I possibly going to explain to this girl that she should get away from here as soon as possible with the constraints that I was operating under? As I was racking my brain trying to come up with an answer, she continued walking with her dog. I walked along with her, matching her pace. She was getting visibly uncomfortable, but I had not choice

I grabbed her by the shoulders to stop her from walking towards the source of the problem.

“Hey, you have to listen to me. I know this is weird, but you have to get away from here right now.”

Her small labrador poodle wasn’t fond of me grabbing its owner by the shoulders, so it decided to be a nuisance and started biting my leg.

“Good boy Tadeo! Bite the living daylight out of him!”

Don’t cheer him on! Seeing that I didn’t have any other card to pull, I decided to use the only thing up my sleeve.

“Listen, Chiyo! Aria…”.

At the mention of her friend, Chyio’s hostile expression turned into one of confusion, quickly shifting to one of genuine concern. It seemed as if her poodle was able to read her mind as he stopped biting me.

“Aria…, what about her, what’s wrong?!”

This time she was grabbing my shoulders.

“Aria’s in… she’s in trouble. Yes, she’s in trouble, in this park. There’s someone that wants to harm her.”

I stated all of this trying to be as vague as possible so as to not reveal Aria’s big secret.

“Someone’s trying to harm her in this park?!” she repeated, her face full of concern. It was evident that she had bought my detailess recapitulation of the situation.

Suddenly, a sound was heard across the entire park.

“Warning Sign Detected. Warning Sign Detected. Citizen N-Chip Reading Indicates Threat: Violence In Ishibashi Park. Deviation Investigation Agency Members Will Be Sent Momentarily. I Repeat DIA Members Will Be Sent Momentarily” the voice of a neutral sounding announcer woman sounded across the park

The siren system of the surrounding area reacted to Chyio’s Neuro-Chip reading. I had completely forgotten about that. New Tokyo is such a safe city that in my entire life I had never witnessed an event severe enough to warrant the siren system to sound off an alarm due to the reading of someone’s thought process. The siren system was able to read Chyio’s thought patterns after she was convinced that someone was intending to harm her friend, that thought pattern was converted into an electrical signal by her N-Chip that was sent directly to the siren system for translation.

It made sense that the siren hadn’t sounded since my Neuro-chip was defective. Interestingly enough, it seemed as if the siren system wasn’t able to pick up on Aria’s thoughts or the thoughts of the menacing man. That fact was going to have to warrant further investigation later.

“I have to go help Aria!” Chyio stated as she was attempting to dash towards behind me, which unfortunately was exactly where the source of the problem was.

“No, don’t do that! It’s dangerous!” I stated, grabbing her shoulder.

I could hear her dog growling at me.

She turned around with a worried face.

“It’s way too dangerous for you to go. Look, I’ll make sure that Aria comes back in one piece. The best thing that you can do right now is to go find help. The cops might already be coming, but more help is always better.”

I was surprised that I could utter such reassuring words, but underneath all that glib, I knew that I had no basis for justifying that I was going to bring Aria back in one piece. I didn’t even have a plan.

Chyio’s deliberated what I said for a moment and then made a quick decision, looking at me with a solemn expression.

“What’s your name?”

“Me? Um… I’m Isei, Isei Kitagawa.”

“I’ll hold you to that, Isei Kitagawa.” she stated with a tone that was stern, completely dichotomous from her typical happy-go-lucky manner of acting.

Isei had no plan, but was nonetheless filled with a sense of duty that lit enough of a fire inside of him to motivate him to act. Having gotten close enough to the scene of the fight, he hid beside a bush and inspected the scene. The man had Aria pinned down and was tinkering with her robotic arm.

Think. Think. Think. That was all that was going through Isei’s head.

What could she learn from Aria, the threatening robotic girl? Was there anything that she did that he could replicate to help her during this situation?

During the apotheosis of his deepest desperation for an answer to this quandary, he saw green holograms of two people: Aria and the menacing man. As if they were spirits that had been ejected from the bodies of their host, they were acting out a scene.

Aria’s green hologram managed to shake the man off of her by mustering the strength to deliver a kid towards the man’s ribs. At that, Aria’s hologram started running swiftly towards the park bench. The man’s hologram was recuperating, as Aria was searching frantically for something inside her bag. That was when the man’s green hologram whipped out a gun from inside his coat and shot the girl’s green hologram. Aria’s hologram fell to the floor, and even though her green body hitting the floor made no sound, Isei could have sworn that he heard her body thud towards the ground.

This scene was too real for comfort. The holograms suddenly disappeared and Isei’s environment was back to normal with the man still pinning Aria down. Isei did not know what had just happened, but the simulation that had just unfolded gave him an idea.

He recalled a specific memory.

When Aria was making him search for his student ID, something was prodding Isei’s back. It turned out that the object that was prodding Isei’s back was a gun. Isei saw Aria place that gun inside her school bag after things had calmed down a bit between the two of them.

Where was that school bag?

Isei looked around their vicinity until his eyes eventually looked at the park bench. There it was. Aria’s bag!

He made his way to the park bench with as much guile as he could manage. He quickly searched through the contents of her bag, and among all the binders and notebooks, her gun was there. He pulled it out quickly, and aimed it at his target. He was now a couple of meters away from Aria and the man. The siren system was still ringing.

“Ergh… I’ll need to get out of here quick. That damn siren system will bring all the pigs and the-”

“H-hey, asshole!” Isei yelled.

At that, the menacing man froze. Then slowly stood up to examine the threat. Isei was pointing Aria’s gun directly at the man. A swift wind suddenly whooshed through the park.

“Leave her alone, or I swear to God that I’ll shoot your head off.” Isei stated.

His words might have been intimidating, but the fact that he was shaking while holding that gun gave away his persona of acting as if he was experienced in these situations.

As Aria was witnessing this scene, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The creepy kid who she had labeled as nosy and cowardly, but not necessarily threatening insofar as him directly being able to hurt her was concerned, came back to help her.

The man gritted his teeth. Another green hologram of the man appeared before Isei. The green hologram suddenly charged at Isei, making Isei flinch. Coming back to his senses quickly, Isei realized that the hologram was no longer there. Even though he didn’t know exactly what that scene meant, his intuition told him to shoot.

Isei had never shot a real gun, but he had shot plenty of virtual guns. Even though he wasn’t big on first person shooter games, whenever Yosuke and Kibe would get on the Metaverse to play some FPSes, he would often join them. He figured that shooting a real gun wouldn’t be too different. He aimed at the sights, and pulled the trigger.

The bullet impaled the left side of the man’s face.

“I got him!” Isei cheered.

The man lowered his face as he winced in pain. Slowly lifting it up, the damage on his face was revealed. No blood came out, only sparks were coming out of the gaping hole on the left side of his face, revealing that his robotic parts were not limited to only his right eye. If he looked menacing before, now he looked absolutely terrifying. He was definitely going to charge at Isei now.

Having bought enough time, Isei didn’t have to worry about that. Aria stood up in one quick motion and delivered a kick to the man’s neck that extruded him a far distance. Without skipping a beat, she dashed towards Isei at a pace that was beyond a human’s speed.

As Isei was still grasping the gun, she grabbed the muzzle. Even though it was for a fraction of a second, Isei saw Aria shooting him a mischievously congratulatory smile at him. Then, she used her foot to push Isei far away so as to not be in danger, taking the gun away from him.

“Now…” she stated as she turned around and aimed the gun at the man who was still on the ground.

The gun started transforming from looking like a regular pistol to merging into a pistol with a holographic sight that was shining a blue luminescent hue on its outline.

“I’ll make you regret ever having crossed me.” Aria stated with a tone that would have sent shivers down anyone’s spine.

She pulled the trigger, and instead of a regular bullet coming out of the weapon, blue plasma shot out of the muzzle. The blue plasma was aimed directly at the legs of the man, immediately melting the legs of the man from the knee down.

The man let out an unsettling shout of pain, but Aria’s face remained just as stern.

Sirens were suddenly heard getting closer to the area.

“The police are here…” Aria whispered to herself.

Knowing that she had to get out of there as fast as possible, she beat a hasty retreat, figuring that the police would handle the perpetrator in some way. Even if it wasn’t the most optimal way to go about things, it was better than nothing.

She quickly looked back to Isei, and saw him standing up slowly from having been pushed away by Aria.

“He seems fine. I’ll deal with him later.” she told herself.

The so-called Matsune Kujikawa of the second years then dashed away from the area.

I managed to barely get away so as to avoid police questioning. There was no doubt in my mind that today was the craziest day in my life. I don’t think I have to recount everything that happened today for me to prove that, nearly any single event that happened today would be enough to prove that it was the craziest day of my life.

I was now walking back home, the streets around me even more barren than before, being completely discongrous from the cacophony of the fray at the park. Even though now I had more questions than I did before, I thought that there was no point in thinking about them now.

I thought back to having used Aria’s gun. I really did headshot that asshole. That was definitely POG, hehehe. I looked like a complete badass doing it.

As I was filling myself with pride due to my great accomplishments. I felt an invisible force pulling me towards a back alley. I was tossed towards the floor. Even though in any other situation I would have been highly alarmed, I had a feeling that there was no need to be.

“Yo.” came the voice of a familiar troublesome girl.

“You know…” I said while standing up. “... you have a really bad habit of forcing people into back alleys.”

“I’d like to consider it a talent.”

An awkward silence filled the already silent back alley. I decided to go ahead and break the silence.

“So what is it tha-”

“Thank you.”


Aria looked at me with regret and continued speaking.

“I realize now that I had been too skeptical about your motives. You actually weren’t meaning to be a threat to me. Your actions proved that to me today. Plus, you helped me out of a quandary. At that, thank you.” she stated solemnly.

I could feel myself getting red.

“Ahhh, I mean, it’s nothing… hehe.”

She chuckled, but as if there was something preventing her from holding a happy expression for long, she sported a sad mein.

“Listen, I know I owe you a lot of answers to everything that has happened today. And I plan on giving them to you. It’s getting late though, so how about we start tomorrow?”

Even though I would much rather know now, I decided not to push this girl any further as it seemed like she was already on her brink.

“Just know for now, Isei Kitagawa, that this society, New Tokyo, isn’t the society that you think it is.”

“Huh, what do you mean?”

Sighing after my question, probably because she had told me to save my questions for tomorrow, she continued speaking.

“I’ll save the details for tomorrow, but the crux, or at least a large part of it has to do with the fact that the portion of New Tokyo that you know is just that- a portion.”

I could feel my eyes get wide.

She continued.

“The place that you know, the New Tokyo that you have been raised in. That New Tokyo is the 2nd caste. There are three castes. The 1st caste, the 2nd caste, and the 3rd caste. Citizen’s from each caste don’t know that the other castes exist… well not most anyway.” she stated with regretful longing.

This was beyond my capability to process, which was probably showing on my face.

She got close to me and touched me with her robotic arm. I felt her literal steel-cold arm absorb the body heat of my arm.

“Ow, that’s cold.”

At that, she lightly karate chopped my head.

“I don’t expect things to make sense to you today. We’ll talk tomorrow. Thanks again.” she stated, walking towards the darker parts of the back alley.

I nodded.

“Oh and by the way.” she stated while looking back.


“I changed my mind about you, Isei Kitagawa.”

At that statement, I could feel my heart start pumping harder.

“W-what? What do you mean?”

“I pity you, but I no longer see you as contemptible.”

“Was that supposed to be a compliment?”