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~Lightning and Wind~ Chapter Four

Chapter Four

 

A twelve-man group of magicians from the Dawn-Colored Sunlight arrived only two minutes after the battle ended. A few of them carried strange weapons and what Lessar assumed to be spiritual items to restrain her, similar to Dromi. Mark Space was accompanying them personally, as he stated he would.

Two of the magicians broke off to take a look at the cab-driver, who still needed help despite Lessar’s attempts at healing him. They carried various spiritual items related not only to Christianity, but Buddhism as well. He would be back on his feet, in no time.

Lessar went over to Mark Space and began giving him information that she retrieved over the course of the battle, such as Pel’s status as a Descendant. Mikoto sat on the beach, with a bit of blackened iron sand in her palm, looking towards the fulgurites prison that stood up as if it were a tower.  She had a lot on her mind.

She had seen several different abilities in Academy City. It was the home of all the Esper in the world after all—as far as she knew. She’d even fought against someone wielding the all but impossible Multi-skill. But this was the first time she’d been rendered so helpless while possessing her powers.

The creatures from earlier was nothing compared to that magician. She commanded lighting, heat, wind, and volcanoes. She managed to strip Mikoto’s magnetism from the iron sand with ease, and countered her lightning. Even if she didn’t strike her directly, she normally held back to avoid melting living things from the excess heat. But even that wouldn’t have helped.

If Mikoto had been fighting alone, this battle would have ended in her death easily. But that wasn’t the scary part. Not by a long shot. She expected to meet enemies that she couldn’t simply defeat without massive effort the moment she got on the plane.

The scary part was that neither Lessar, nor the other magician, used their Sorcery Names. That meant that—while both had put forth some effort, in a dazzling display—they hadn’t gone even remotely close to going all out. Somehow, she didn’t believe that either one was putting in more effort than it took to get the job done.

On the other hand, Mikoto had to push herself while remaining within the limits set by her own set of morals. For the first time she realized that her limits would be a bigger burden than ever before. Would she be able to keep going as she has been, or would she have to become more aggressive and discard her self-imposed limitations that made her who she was?

A sudden explosion of crimson ruptured the fulgurites tower. Countless shards rained over the beach and found themselves in the bodies of the unfortunate members of the Dawn-Colored Sunlight that were too close. Inside the cloud of smoke that blinded them, Mikoto heard the sound of Mark Space grunting, the sound steel clashing with lightning, the moaning of the fallen, and one last explosion from next to her.

When the wind blew and visibility was restored, Mikoto found Lessar covered in sand—from what Mikoto assumed was the giant smoking craters beside them both—and in a guard position in front of her. Mark Space was uninjured, although his clothing was blackened. The area where the magician and Descendant Pel was imprisoned now had a ten-foot deep crater. She was gone.

“You let her escape,” Lessar pointed out to Mark Space, who gave her a quick glance and then turned to his injured men. “Just great.”

***

The sound of running water from the shower echoed around the room, which was filled with the scent and heat of the steam. They were of little concern to Mikoto, who was lying face down on the bed closest to the bathroom. Minutes passed until the sound of water beating against Lessar’s body stopped with the squeaking of the valves. She stepped out with a smile on her face, the towel around her neck and covering her chest.

“Man, that was a great shower~” she said to Mikoto with glee, “this suite is much better than mine. And you’re sharing it with the Index Librorum and Imagine Breaker?”

“Yeah,” Mikoto replied, not really paying attention. I have to think of a way to fight more efficiently against someone like her. Maybe turning oxygen into ozone through—

“So, which one of you does he sleep with, you or the nun?” Lessar asked, interrupting her thought process. “I think he has a thing for those types. I wonder if I should buy that erotic sacred nun costume I saw online. What do you think?”

“Yeah, sure,” Mikoto answered, still not paying attention. Since she got away, she’ll definitely come after us again. What do I do if—“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” she blurted out as the mattress creaked and bounced from the sudden excess weight.

Lessar had jumped on top of her and was straddled on her back—the towel that was around her neck floating in the air towards the floor. Before Mikoto could shock her like she would Kuroko, Lessar lifted the Railgun’s shirt and gently ran her finger along Mikoto’s spine, sending pleasure arching across her nerves like electricity. Mikoto uncharacteristically let out a moan of uninhibited pleasure before covering her mouth, her face turning red. Lessar smiled and leaned closer, gently whispering in her ear.

“You’re feeling down because of everything that happened, because you faced off against a magician for the first time head to head, and because she escaped after all your hard work —” she shifted her hips lower and laid her chest on Mikoto’s back “—and will eventually come back to attack us, but that happens in our line of work. Instead of worrying about what’s done, you should focus on your other objective of getting together with the Imagine Breaker.”

“G…get off…of me,” she struggled to say. Crap, that felt way different from when Kuroko does something perverted. This is more elegant; more refined and felt wonderf—I mean wrong! It felt wrong!

“Let my magic fingers help you relax, while you and I go over strategies to win his heart. Lancis, Floris, and Bayloupe have all complimented me on my technique.”

***

In Academy City, Kuroko was in her and Mikoto’s dorm room with several bottles of Gekota-ade, a sports drink that was recently marketed, and various pouches of powdered aphrodisiacs. She emptied a pouch into her cupped hand and then teleported it into a bottle without opening it. When she was about to do the next one, it felt like a lightning bolt passed through her head.

“Onee-sama’s innocence is in danger!” she screamed.

***

Index walked into the room with a roll in her mouth, only to find Mikoto spaced out on the bed—oddly relaxed and staring at the ceiling with a droopy, flushed face—and Lessar, who apparently decided to stay in their room for tonight, already in her night gown and unbraiding her hair for the night in the mirror. She seemed satisfied with herself and was humming a tune.

“Has either of you seen Touma?”

“Mmm…gaph…” Mikoto mumbled incoherently.

“No—not since earlier,” Lessar answered.

***

It’s all my fault, Kamijou cursed himself mentally. He was on the rooftop of the hotel, standing a few feet away from the edge and looking out to the sea below.

Mikoto and Lessar could have been killed because of me, he thought. I knew the risks of them coming along with me and I didn’t stop them. Index was almost killed because of me. She was used to bait me. I caused the war between the Science Side and Magic Side. The countless deaths the occurred were my fault.

But I can make it right, the voice that represented Kamijou’s guilt comforted him, as he took a step closer to the edge. Only three steps left. If I caused all of it, then my death will make things right. His body shook in resistance, trying to force him to stop moving any further.

Don’t resist it. He swallowed. They’ll all be safe if I take a few more steps. My right hand causes only tragedy. It’ll be better for everyone. Two steps left.

Stop, a second voice appeared in the back of his head. He stopped mid-step.

Keep going, the first voice said. This is the only way. My death will end everything. GREMLIN will have no reason to keep committing their actions, and the Magic Side and Science Side will cease their fighting. Balance will be restored. One step left.

Are you such a coward that you’d run away and die? Do you think you can solve all the problems in the world with your death? Is your ego so great that you think the world revolves around you? If so, how are any different than Fiamma?

Peace will come with my death. The world I once saved can only stay saved if I free it from my influence, and—

You didn’t save the world for the world’s sake, you did it for Index! Didn’t you leave Academy City in order to deal with GREMLIN for yourself? Is your resolve that weak? Are you just going to give in? That peace is not real. That voice is an illusion that’s driving you to give up, so you’ll—No, I’ll—  

“—Shatter that Illusion!” Kamijou yelled into the night air, the cold spreading over his body. He didn’t hold back, lifting his right hand, he clenched his fist and drove it into his head. The sound of shattering glass overtook the cold voices of guilt and silenced them once and for all.

“And you were so close to finding peace, monster of science,” a soft voice came from behind him. He turned to find a beautiful woman with a cold, comforting presence. He steeled himself, refusing the cold comfort with burning conviction. “A normal person would have jumped minutes ago.”

“You,” he clenched his right fist, “those voices came from you, didn’t they? You’re from GREMLIN, aren’t you? How did you sneak past everyone else?”

A soft smile appeared on her face. “Like my sister, Pel, I am also descended from a goddess—Poli‘ahu. I possess command of ice, cold, and snow, along with more passive traits, such as entering territories and whispering in the ears of others, unnoticed and subtle, like snow.”

“You tried to convince me to kill myself,” he spoke with heat in his voice. I almost went through with it too. She was so convincing it—I honestly believed all those things were my fault.

“My sweet monster,” she spoke softly, if she was a mother speaking to a child, “all I did was brought those thoughts that were already there to the surface. The war was fought because of your actions, your friends and countless other people were drawn in. The rioters in Avignon, the people around the world who fell under the power of Divine Punishment, the destruction of the land for the sake of altering the ley lines, and all those who couldn’t be saved in the countless smaller battles fought by nameless soldiers. All because of your right hand which can’t be separated from you short of death.

“You can’t lie to yourself. It’s all your fault. The longer you struggle, the more people you hurt, and the harder it will be for you to find peace. If the core of all the problems is destroyed, all those problems will correct themselves. You truly believe that.”

“That doesn’t give you the right to try to kill me.” Even now her words are drawing me in, like I’m hearing myself, my mother, and my friends speaking at the same time,  blaming me. She could have an ability similar to empathy. I’ve heard of an Esper that could align the distance to someone’s heart—to take on the feelings that they had for someone else.

“Monster and champion of the Science Side, it is time to rest.  I, Poli, shall lay you to sleep. Permanently. ”

Before Kamijou could raise his fist, or Poli could cast a spell, a large bird descended from the sky and landed between them. It was a magnificent pure white owl, with a small an Anglican Cross dangling from a small silver chain on its neck. Standing between the two, it served as a barrier to avoid conflict.

“I’m afraid that I’ll have to insist that you are wrong,” a passive voice emerged from behind Poli. “It is wrong to just run away from life, to seek death in order to escape it. Peace is not found that way, only despair for yourself and those you left behind. Humans by nature hold dark thoughts and feelings of self-pity and guilt. These thoughts gather and stir in our hearts—darkening them and driving our souls down a dark path—by there lies light and hope nevertheless, awaiting for us to reach for it and embrace it.”

Stepping from the stairwell entrance, a beautiful woman with short blonde hair, magnificent blue eyes, dressed an English Anglican Church nun’s robe and bearing an Anglican Cross around her neck. “Mister Kamijou would never seek death, not for himself or for others. Your words are influencing his free will, so I must ask you to stop leading him astray.”

Kamijou couldn’t believe his eyes. “Orsola….Aquinas?”

She gave him a comforting look that said, “It’s alright now.”

“I convinced him to come up here in order to not involve anyone other than the Imagine Breaker,” Poli told Orsola, as she sent a wave of cold air that rustled her short hair. “I do not want more casualties than necessary. Leave now.”

“Even if I cannot defeat you, I have already informed Miss Birdway of your presence and she will be arriving in mere moments. Please depart from here. If a battle takes place now, many lives will be lost over a pointless struggle.”

Poli could not sense any malice in her words. They were pure and honest words from someone who hated conflict and wanted to prevent it, even if it would mean allowing an enemy to escape. She was offering her a peaceful way out of what would turn into a bloody battle. Wordlessly, Poli’s body turned pure white, forming a perfect replica in snow that dissipated and scattered. Kamijou’s clenched fist loosened, as Orsola approached him.

“Was it alright to let her leave like that?” Kamijou asked her.

“That was not her real body,” Orsola commented as she stopped in front of him. “As for you, Mister Kamijou. You do not have to take the burden of everything onto yourself. Nor do you have to suffer alone. If you feel the need to talk to someone about it, my ears will always be there to listen to you.”

Orsola had such a pleasant aura around her that made him want to tell her all the things he kept buried inside. “Thanks, but why are you here?” Kamijou asked her. “You have zero battle ability, right?”

“Sherry taught me a little about how to use golems in our free time—she mentioned something about in case someone tried to take advantage of my innocence—and I learned how to do Spell Intercept as well,” she told him as she patted him down, looking for any injuries she thought he might have sustained. “I still can’t keep up with high speed battles, but I can help support you.

“As for why I am here,” she smiled at him as she finished inspecting him, “there was no one left to help. Mister Magnus had a temporary moment of aggression and had to be placed in a calm environment to settle down.”

What she meant is that he got free, busted out Innocentius, and had to be restrained after taking down the rest of the warring factions. All while Laura was laughing. At least until he went after her.

Teenagers and their tantrums.

The owl spread its wings and took flight. It circled around the rooftop—probably looking for any remaining trace of Poli—and then above the pair, until it felt comfortable enough to land on Orsola’s right shoulder. It tilted its head curiously at Kamijou Touma.

“This is Sebastian,” Orsola told Kamijou, who slowly extended his right hand to pet Sebastian. The owl took off from her shoulder and fluttered over his head, pecking at him. “Oh my, I should have mentioned this, but Sebastian is a sentient golem. So if you touch him with your right hand—”

“I GOT IT, I GOT IT! I’M SORRY FOR NEARLY ERASING YOU! PLEASE STOP ATTACKING ME!” Kamijou pleaded with the owl. It let out a satisfied hoot and fluttered back onto Orsola’s shoulder as her phone rang.

She answered it and, after a brief conversation, hung up politely. “Well then, shall we return below? Miss Birdway has called for a meeting between all of us

***

In a conference room of the hotel, Birdway, Kamijou Touma, Orsola Aquinas, Misaka Mikoto, Mark Space, Lessar, and Index were all sitting around a large round table. There was a heavy atmosphere surrounding them all—with exception of Orsola, who was petting Sebastian. Birdway’s interlocked fingers covered her mouth from sight, as she began the meeting.

“Three times today,” she muttered. “Three times today, we have been attacked by GREMLIN.”

“There was another attack?” Lessar, Index, and Mikoto asked at the same time.

“Yes,” Orsola spoke gently, “an agent of GREMLIN—her name was Miss Poli, I believe—she had a golem-like creature infiltrate the hotel and tried to harm Mister Kamijou.” Orsola didn’t mention how she tried to kill him, or the dark thoughts he had buried within. He silently thanked her and picked up the conversation, informing them of her abilities and physical features.

“Two Descendants, from goddesses that opposed each other, are siblings?” Lessar leaned back in her chair and sighed. “And they’re both part of GREMLIN?”

“The longer we wait, the more difficult things will be,” Mark Space chimed in, “so tomorrow, we will investigate three bases that we believe to belong to GREMLIN. We’ve confirmed that they have traces of the magical energy used to create the manos and pupus used earlier today.

“We will be splitting into teams: Imagine Breaker, Miss Aquinas, and the Index Librorum will move to the base in the north, as we’ll need both of their abilities and knowledge.  Miss Misaka and Miss Lessar, I know that both of you have no obligation to help, so I will not force you to assist. However, we’ve detected electrical and magical signals from a location near an Academy City branch, and we need someone of Miss Misaka’s skill set and a capable magician to investigate. After the war, moving a group of only magicians so close to that location…”

“It’d look like an attack,” Misaka guessed. Isn’t that #10142’s facility? It’s in the same direction she pointed to.

“Yep,” Birdway answered. “Aleister and I aren’t on the best of terms, but I doubt he’d be allied with GREMLIN, so we can assume they are planning something with that facility. Mark will be accompanying me while we crush the largest base in the south with the rest of the magicians, barring a few that will be accompanying the Imagine Breaker. We’ll also serve as a distraction so all of you can sneak in.”

“If they’re still there,” Lessar pointed out. “You don’t camp out next to an enemy location unless you plan to attack it. There’s a good chance that by the time we reach there tomorrow, it’ll be too late.”

Mikoto digested the information. She wanted to go with Kamijou, but if the facility was attacked, her sister would be caught up in it. The Sisters had military training and could defend themselves easily, but against magicians that may not be enough. Looking out for them was her responsibility.

“I can’t speak for her—” Mikoto pointed to Lessar, “—but I’ll go for my own reasons.”

“How cold,” Lessar muttered before clearing her throat and addressing Mark Space, “I’m not really interested in the Science Side, but I’m already involved. I’ll go with her.”

The rest of the night was spent outlining the mission the next day. Come morning, they would depart for a new battlefield.

 

Notes:

  • Yeah, that scene in the bedroom—let me say that it didn’t go all the way, before anyone accuses me of writing smut or defiling Mikoto. I’ll admit I don’t know what compelled me to put that in. I mean, I just planned to have Lessar cheer her up like a big sister figure and then Kuroko came to mind, and next thing I know…
  • Sorry for the mood whiplash as well, I wanted to make it clear Touma did have some guilt about the state of the world and everyone getting hurt—he’s the messiah archetype after all— Poli just bought it all out and magnified the feelings of guilt, with her own grievances applied to what she was led to believe he was responsible for, to suicidal levels that were overwriting common sense and self-preservation. I got the idea after reading Ghost Story from the Dresden Files. As Lessar stated before, the war was going to happen eventually, so he’s not really to blame.
  • Poli‘ahu  is the snow goddess opposite of Pele and controls snow, cold, and ice. Her name means “cloaked bosom” or “temple bosom”.  In contrast to Pele, she’s calm, cool, and maternal—okay not sure about that last one, but at least in my fan fiction she is. She and Pele were rivals, not siblings, but let’s say that their bloodlines crossed when one of their descendants fell in love with the rival goddess and be done with it.
  • Yes, Orsola is representing Neccessarius. No, you didn’t see it coming. Yes, Sebastian looks a lot like Hedwig. No, he won’t be delivering letters. I bet a picture of her with Sebastian on her shoulder would rock. Maybe I should contact an artist…
  • From next chapter on is when things start getting serious. No more saving and sparing the innocent and extras.

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