Chapter 15:

Welcome to the Team

The Underwriters

Bullets greeted the pair before either could even begin to see the situation inside of the factory. Yui dodged left and ran to disarm the attacker while Hibiki also shuffled out of the way of the onslaught.

The sight in front of her became clear, and it was worse than expected. A bruised and distraught young woman, barely the same age as Hibiki was tied to a chair. Purple dotted her arms as tiny cuts were visible. Hibiki's vision was not the best, but she guessed that the bruises were from the initial kidnapping while the cut was from the removal of the GPS tracker.

Dancing around Seela was Yui and a man who could only be Tri Wilder. He looked nothing like Hibiki expected. Her mind's eye had envisioned a tough man with a grizzled beard and finely toned body from years of working out to prepare for vengeance. Tri Wilder turned out to be an emaciated man in his late twenties. Bones were visible in the boy's arms and legs. 

Looking around at the technology around them and the hi-tech gun in his hands, the picture was clear. Instead of exercising intensely to be strong enough to take revenge, he took the opposite approach. The advanced automatic rifle with digital aiming technology. Firm voice activated chains that can only be disabled by the correct voice. A camera scrambler. Every single one of these items would cost a lifetime of wages for the average person, let alone for someone who had lost their provider and was now stuck in a forgotten small town.

How many meals did he skip? What body parts did he sell to afford to get back at the man who took everything from him? Based on the prosthetic arm and leg that Hibiki could see from near the entrance, she did not want to know the answer to her conjecture.

Yui backflipped, landing against the wall to evade a barrage of gunfire. Bracing herself, she used the extra boost to propel forward and slam into Tri and take his weapon. Losing his assault rifle, he pulled out a dagger. With the click of a button, flames erupted around the blade and he began swinging it close to Yui's face. Looks were truly deceiving as Tri moved with a speed that nearly matched Yui's despite his fragile frame.

Taking advantage of the fact that Yui was leading Tri further and further away from Seela, Hibiki began edging her way closer to the girl. Tri seemed to be aware of this as he tossed another small blade toward Hibiki's throat. Maya took this moment to take the spotlight as she zoomed right to the knife and caught it with her beak. The weak blade was snapped with a crunch by the bird.


The man didn't have time to think about stopping Hibiki again before Yui lobbed a punch at him. Arching backward, he barely evaded an attack that cracked the concrete flooring beneath them.

Hibiki wanted to clap and cheer on her commander but the crying girl before her took precedence. She began trying to untangle the ropes before her when she felt an electric rush. If she didn't hear the sound of electricity etching close to her fingers, she would have been electrocuted into a crispy snack. Her heart briefly stopped before she realized that Tri had wrapped Seela in an electricity proof blanket to prevent her from being killed by the chains accidentally before his plans could be completed.

"Please confirm that you are the device owner."

Hibiki was flustered before she heard Maya repeat Tri's words. Or word.


Click. The chains were deactivated and then slacked. Hibiki unraveled the cloth from Seela's mouth while Maya used her razor-sharp beak to cut the rope keeping her hands tied.

"Thank you. Thank you."

"Don't you dare leave!" Tri's voice nearly gave out as he growled out loud but he could do little to prevent Seela's escape. Dodging yet another near-lethal limb from Yui, he could only watch Hibiki and Seela leave out of the corner of his eyes.

Outside, the situation was much calmer. Jun stood in front of a mass of broken bodies still groaning. Seela began to stop at the sight before Jun noticed them.

"Oh! You must be Seela. Oh my goodness. Aren't you just the cutest little thing? I bet you're so pretty when you're not bruised up." Finally realizing that Seela was trembling right before her, she followed the girls' vision and was reminded of her earlier fight. "Oh, them? Don't worry. They're still alive. Most are just unconscious or in too much pain to move anymore. They were sent by your dad."

"My dad. Tri was right." A mix of rain and tears wet the sobbing girl's face. She stuttered out, "My dad's a monster! He was gonna let me die."

Crying girls were obviously the gentle giant's weak spot as Jun's eyes reddened. Pulling Seela into a bear hug, she tried to soothe the girl while also crying too. "It's okay. You're okay. Just let it all out.

Oh. No."

Hibiki and bird stared at each other while silently agreeing to creep into the factory and pretend they saw nothing. Now that Seela was safe, Hibiki felt that they had won. Hope was victorious over despair and the day was saved. Reality dismantled this notion as Tri caught Hibiki walking back inside empty-handed.

"Oh. It's over. It's over. Dad. I'm sorry. I failed you. I failed you."

The battle stopped midway as Tri stumbled backward and covered his face. As he shouted out in anger, Yui began to make her way back to Hibiki. Her back was turned to Tri.

"Haha. Hahaha. Hahahaha!" Bones nearly broke through his skin as the man laughed out loud wildly. His entire body seemed to shake from the volume of his outburst. Then, he was silent. Seeing the back of Yui facing him as she walked away and ignored his existence, the last remaining portion of his rationality was lost. "It's all your fault. You bitch. I'll take you down with me."

Lifting his shirt, the bomb tied around his stomach was now visible. Time seemed to slow down. Yui started to turn towards Tri right as he reached out to hold on to her. Mere seconds were visible on the large timer attached to the bomb.

It no longer mattered how scared Hibiki was about her voice. The only thing that mattered was Yui's safety. With a shout, she finally spoke words aloud for the first time in years.

"Stop!" The ground rumbled and shook as a massive sonic boom exploded out of Hibiki's mouth. Yui lept backward out of its path. Unlike Tri's assumption, she had been aware of all of her surroundings the entire time. Her battlefield senses nudged her to move the moment Hibiki open her lips. Meanwhile, Tri was caught by surprise as the sheer force of Hibiki's vocal punch forced him back with enough pressure that he broke through the factory wall. With only seconds to spare, Yui sped to Hibiki, picked her up, and jumped out of the factory building.

Kaboom. The concrete broke into several pieces as everything was demolished. As the adrenaline wore off, Hibiki finally became aware of what she had done.

"Wow. That was impressive shortie."

"Woah. Was that a sonic bomb? How did you do that? I wonder if I can make a weapon that mimics that effect."

"I didn't expect the little cutie to have so much power."

Hearing all of the now familiar voices around her, Hibiki turned around. She was stunned to see the lazy Tomoe, the artillery obsessed Mayumi, and the kawaii fanatic Jun all gathered. Alongside Seela and Yui, everyone was now in one place.

As burning debris fell around them, Hibiki knew that the battle was finally won. She had been falling off of the cliff but was rescued by Yui over and over again.

"Well, now that this case is finally shut, I think we all have something to say to you."

In unison, every member of the Underwriters team shouted out loud.

"Welcome to the team, Hibiki!"