Home Invasion: Aftermath
“Well, it looks like most of the security cameras won’t be back up any time soon. I won’t be able to fix it remotely, and I’m having hard time getting people with the right clearance to you nowadays. There’s been a lot of activity around HQ and trustworthy manpower is scarce.” Anna finishes acidly. It looks like her work stress is increasing. My report to her had included an account of the creature that attacked me last night, though I had conveniently left out a few details.
“It’s alright, I can fix it myself.” I say confidently.
“No, no, no. Don’t touch them. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but if anything goes wrong you’d be held accountable. Leave it to me.”
“This means I’m free from your prying eyes for… how long exactly?”
“At least for another week. While I’m not watching you’re probably planning to bring home cute innocent schoolgirls and have your way with them, aren’t you? This must be heaven for you right now, Senya. I bet you’re popping a boner while imagining it… you dirty boy.”
“Can we not go five minutes without any sexual harassment happening?”
“Mm, but you’re just too fun to tease. The way your face turns red is exquisite. Anyway, enough of that. Someone should be along soon to fix your door.”
Some people did come along soon to fix my door.
Why was Kyrie here with them, though?
I greet her as she steps over my doorway gingerly. She must have come here right after school; she was still in her uniform.
“Can’t you clean things up a little more?”
“I’ve detailed my encounter in my report to Anna. Did she send it to you?” I take care to be civil and ignore her jab. Despite her harsh tone she still seemed to be awkward around me after what happened yesterday, and so am I. Losing control again would be unfortunate. I sent Yua to prepare some tea with the kitchen’s machines.
“Yes. I’m not quite sure what to make of it though. It seems unbelievable.”
Well, that confirmed that Anna was
sending my reports directly to Kyrie. I didn’t think she would be this involved in my affairs, but then again, I hadn’t been briefed about the hierarchy except to be told that I was at the bottom and Anna was my handler.
“In any case, thank you for being concerned enough to come all the way out here. I appreciate it.”
“Hm. Well, there’s no need to be too grateful. You work for me and one of the obligations a leader has is to take care of her men.”
I’m not sure, but it seems like she is happy, if only just a little.
“Anyway, about this incident…” I begin.
“I know. I’ll look into it. If it is true, I can’t have these things running about town.”
I didn’t expect her to agree so readily. “You just said it seems unbelievable.”
Kyrie sighed. “Use your brain, you piece of shit. I heard it was good for many things. Whatever it is, the fact is your house has been attacked. Unless you were acting it all to get my attention, someone or something did this. The process of investigation should still be the same regardless of whether monsters are actually involved.”
That was almost
exactly what I had prepared to say to request a proper investigation if the ISC did not believe my story. If these things already knew where I lived, it would not be surprising if they tried attacking again. Before that happens, I need to find out where they are coming from – for that, the ISC is the quickest way I can think of. I laugh.
“W-what’s the matter? What’s so funny?” frowned Kyrie.
“Nothing. Yua should have the tea ready. I’ll go and get it for you.”
It takes the rest of the evening for the door to be fixed, and Kyrie stays in my living room all the while. We talk about the investigation; apparently she recalls a similar incident mentioned in a report a few years back. It’ll take her some time to access those case files as they belonged to another department she had little sway over. Inter-factional politics within the ISC are a common thing, and even within the bloodline there are plenty of cousins willing to stab each other in the back.
“That’s why I’m attending school here as a full-time student.” She pops another cookie into her mouth – that was the twentieth. She has quite the stomach for sweets. “This is pretty good. Did you bake this, Yua?”
“Yes, Ms. Kyrie! The recipe is an original… I researched it myself.” The two seemed to getting along, strangely enough, and the conversation has somehow shifted from the investigation into her personal life.
“Your father is keeping you away from the politics until you graduate university.”
She nods. “That’s probably part of his intention… I won’t pretend to know all of his thoughts. I don’t actually have an official position in the company besides being his heir.”
If that is the case, it means she’s not involved in any direct operations of the company and has no concrete power to speak of. Though she is influential enough to get things to move just with her name, there is probably a limit as to what she can accomplish. Her clout in the entire corporation is probably negligible; I wouldn’t be surprised if it only covered Olympia at the moment. The Emperor would not be too pleased if his daughter moved heaven and earth for her own purposes.
“It’s tough, isn’t it?” I blurt out accidentally, lost in my thoughts.
Kyrie stares at me, her expression inscrutable.
“What did you hope to accomplish by telling me that? Do you want me to lean on your shoulder as you comfort me, and perhaps hoping for something more? You perverted piece of shit.” She feigns disgust, her hand drawn dramatically to her mouth.
“Oh no, you’re starting to sound like Anna.”
Kyrie chuckles softly. “Yes, she’s really a handful… and that’s enough about this topic. I don’t like being pitied, especially if the sympathy is coming from useless things like you.”
“Master, the workmen have finished with the door.” Yua spoke up. There was a strange look on her face; she didn’t seem particularly happy all of a sudden.
“I suppose that is my cue to leave. Thank you for the tea and cookies, Yua. They were great. Can you share the recipe with me?”
“Of course, Ms. Kyrie! I’ll send it over tonight.” Yua’s smile was back on her face again. Also, they appear to have exchanged contact details sometime during the tea break.
“Wait, don’t I get any thanks?” I ask.
“Why would I thank you? You were just an errand boy for Yua, carrying the cups and dishes for her. Oh, I get it. Alright. Thank you, Senya, for not being utterly clumsy and spilling the tea all over the place, though I notice that you dropped some crumbs on the floor. I am awed at your skill in being a servant, Senya. Do you want a reward?”
If I were a masochist her sarcastic voice would have struck every chord in my body correctly, but I’m not… I think.
“Well, I’ll be off. I’ve arranged for your sick leave today, but please do attend school tomorrow. Oh, and don’t think you’re off the hook for my little quest. The conditions are still in place.”
Great. I was hoping she’d let me go if I was nice enough today. The tea and cookies were wasted on her…
The next day, I attend school as usual. My classmates, concerned at my absence after just one day, crowd around my table, but I manage to assure them that it’s fine. Spotting Erika, I go over to talk to her. I hear a sea of whispers behind me as I do so. Was it that strange to talk to a classmate?
She gazes at me blankly.
“…sleepy.” she mutters. She probably isn’t a morning person.
“Well, I need to talk to you about something.”
“… about that night?”
“Yeah, it’s about that night.”
All of a sudden I realize that it was probably the wrong thing to say while in the classroom, as the whispering explodes into outrageous gossip.
“Something happened between them at night…”
“She’s still sleepy this morning…”
“Man, the new boy is bold
. First the Tyrant, and then the Ice Queen? When will it stop?”
“Does his appetite know no bounds?”
“Oh no, he’s looking this way!”
“Senya isn’t that sort of person! Aren’t you guys jumping to conclusions?”
Thank you for trying to set things straight, Keiko, but I fear the power of teenage gossip is too strong. Just what sorts of rumours have been spreading about me a mere three days after I started school?
“I’ll meet you during lunch break at the rooftop.” The student handbook had stated that the rooftop was a popular spot for students during lunch hours. It should be
Erika nods as if she heard me, and then nods right off, burying her face in the pile of books on her desk.
When the lunch bell rings, Erika gets up and walks out the door without a word to me. I follow her. She did hear me properly after all, as she goes up to the rooftop without any prompting.
“What is it?” asks Erika, sitting down on a bench. I sidle down besides her, taking out the sandwiches I had brought from home. Although she seems refreshed after her nap, in the day time she gives off a different feel. It’s as if she’s not entirely here, whereas the Erika I met at night seemed to be focused into a potent and lethal existence.
“It’s about what happened that night… about that thing you dispatched, and your fight with me.”
She doesn’t respond, and I continue.
“Why did you call me a monster?”
She doesn’t answer.
She seems to be staring at something intently. I follow her gaze and find that it leads towards my sandwiches. I move the sandwiches to the left. Her eyes move to follow them.
“Didn’t you get any lunch?”
I sigh. “You can have some of mine.”
She perks up. If she were a dog, this would be where her tail started wagging. Erika gratefully accepts a sandwich and wolfs it down.
“So, back to my question.”
“Yeah, why did you call me that?”
“You’re different from humans. That means you are a monster.”
“You’re different too.” I point out. Her speed and strength is definitely not human.
“I’m also a monster.”
“A monster that kills monsters?”
“Yes. It’s a…” she pauses for a while, looking for the words to describe what she wants to say. “Family business.”
If that is the case, her powers could be inherited from her father and mother.
“You live with your uncle, right? Where are your parents?”
That was a pretty insensitive line of questioning on my part.
Erika shakes her head. Her expression hasn’t changed all this time, even when revealing her parents’ death.
“It’s okay. It was a long time ago.”
I try to think of other questions I want to ask her.
“What do you know about the creatures that tried to attack us?”
I’m right about that part, at least.
“Who do they serve?”
Erika made a strong distinction between humans and monsters. Anything that was inhuman was a monster. From this, I could guess that the people behind the creatures were normal, at least in her eyes.
“Where can I find them?”
She shakes her head. “I don’t know.”
“I saw a red thread leading from their back the other night, could it lead back to their masters?”
“I didn’t see it. I will ask Uncle about it.”
It was probably something only I could see. Perhaps it has something to do with my powers. I fall into silence, pondering my next questions. She didn’t give me much to work with, but I could tell that wasn’t caused by any desire to withhold information. She’s just not very good at articulating what she is thinking and what she knows. Erika’s voice interrupts me.
“Lunch time is over.”
So it was. I hadn’t even eaten anything, though strangely my sandwiches are all gone.
“Thank you for the sandwiches.” Erika gives me a little bow of gratitude, a couple of crumbs still stuck on her pale chin.
“Ah… you’re welcome.” I get up from the bench. My stomach grumbles, and Erika’s eyes dart towards it. “I’ll ask you out once I think of more questions.” As I walk away, she calls my name.
“Senya. I want to ask a question.”
I turn to look at her. “What is it?”
“What type of sandwiches do you like?”
Is she feeling guilty about finishing all my sandwiches? I suppose there is no harm in telling her my preferred fillings. She nods as I recite the list.
“I’ll make them next time you want to ask questions.”
“I’ll look forward to it.” I sigh.
The rest of the week passes without incident. The weekend comes and goes, and by the time it is over the security cameras are fully operational again, fast than I had expected. I sent back my report about the Indus Confederation mechs detailing my assessment of their predicted abilities, as well as a recommendation to look into miniaturization of the technology introduced by Krishnashankar. There had been no more sightings of those creatures; the sample I had kept was undergoing analysis at one of the ISC’s facilities. School was going on as usual, and I spent most of the afternoons training with Michael at the club. We had tried going around searching for members, but apparently my unwarranted reputation and Michael’s antics are a deadly combination.
I had learnt a few things about my powers, testing them out in the privacy of my home.
1. The maximum time I can hold my heightened mental state is seven minutes. This could decrease depending on how much I boost my mind and senses. When I am in the heightened state, my mind works faster and all of my five senses become sharper.
2. My mental acuity and senses are impaired when I drop out of the state, the time of recovery lengthening depending on how long I maintain the state. This ranges from a full hour to half a day, and the severity of the impairment rises depending on the strength of the boost I utilize.
3. The tendrils can be used even when I’m not in a heightened state. Their ability to absorb heat is unimpaired.
4. The ability to absorb heat appears to be limited, with each tendril crumbling away after taking in a certain quantity of heat.
5. The tendrils can form any shape I want when my mental state is heightened. Without it, visualization is imprecise and slow, making it impractical for more complex shapes. Their maximum range is about 15 metres.
I’m still unsure what to feel about these powers. I don’t think they’re a gift or a curse. They are a tool to me, nothing more, but should I have a reason before I use them? Somehow I don’t think that using this tool carelessly is a good idea.
As I pack up my bag, Keiko walks up to me. She’s been a great source of help over the past week, making sure that I settled into the school comfortably and guiding me around the place. “Hey.”
“So, how are you doing so far?”
“It’s alright. Except for the part where I still haven’t gotten any members for the kenjutsu club.”
I had tried asking Erika to join, and she had said she needed permission from her uncle. That was last week, and when I asked her this morning she said her uncle just returned from a trip, and she’d find out if she could join later today.
“Tough luck,” giggled Keiko. “Michael is so lively too.”
“Well, he’s a bit too
lively… by the way, won’t you join?”
“Sorry, I can’t,” she apologized. “I’m already part of the Journalism Club.”
“That’s too bad, but there’s no need to apologize. You’ve already helped me out plenty.”
“I have… and today I want you to repay the favour,” grins Keiko mischievously.
“What do you need me to do?”
“It’s about an assignment with the Journalism Club. We’re investigating a rumour that there have been strange creatures spotted near the sewers recently. The Occult Research Club came to us with this request.”
Strange creatures… could that be anything to do with the ones that attacked me?
“So, I’ve tracked down this guy who claims he’s seen them, and he’s agreed to meet me today. I… well, I think I’d feel safer if a boy went with me.”
I laugh. “You know how weak I am, Keiko.” Strangely, I do feel stronger every day. It is a subtle improvement, but my stamina appears to be slowly increasing. “You need someone strong to go with you.”
“Oh, no, I don’t think you’re weak. I mean, back then you were… kinda cool…” The flustered Keiko looked away. “I still remember what you said to me. It got me to change, so… you aren’t weak, not at all. To me you're someone that I can rely on.” Her blush gets stronger as she says it, and I can't help but go red myself.
Even so, I don’t really recall saying anything specific to her, though I could have forgotten. An expression of disappointment passes over Keiko’s face as she realizes I don't remember. “Anyway, you might not be the strongest boy around, but I think you’ll be more useful to me on this investigation than some musclehead. It’s not like it’s anything dangerous.” Her cheerful grin was back in an instant. “A journalist needs someone with smarts to be her partner. How about it? You owe me a favour, don’t you?”
If I don’t have anything else to do…
I plan to meet up with Erika today to find out whether her uncle will let her join the club.
I feel like looking for Kyrie in the student council room. I heard she usually hangs out there alone after school. Perhaps she has made progress with the investigation.
There is a big sale today in the commercial area, and Yua’s asked for some rare cooking ingredients. There are also some upgrades for her that I can pick up; a great opportunity seeing as I'm sending most of my salary back to my family and don't have much budget to work with.
I go with Keiko on her assignment. Rather than waiting for the ISC, this is also a chance for me to do some snooping around on my own.
After school time is club time! I spend time with Michael and practice the way of the warrior.