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Friendship is a Skill

"Eh?" Tetsuo, with his hair still in a ball of frizz courtesy of the hefty electrical current, extended his hand towards the fleeing Ezekiel. "Chotto mat—Wait!" he called out. But it was too late. For some inexplicable reason, the American had left them even despite having stood shoulder to shoulder against the Rift creature. Tetsuo clicked his tongue against his teeth and rubbed the back of his head in both irritation and puzzlement at the predicament. He was supposed to be recruiting new members to Xstence, damn it, not scaring them away.

A sharp pain in the back of his hand reminded Tetsuo of his injury... which reminded him of the young Fullbringer below him, whom he had actually forgotten for a moment. Beginning to doubt his leadership capabilities, Tetsuo slid out of sight from the air and reappeared nearby the other Fullbringer.

“Hey, are you alright?” he asked.

Just then, the factory’s emergency sirens began to wail.

Soren nodded, opening a portal to lead them away from the scene if need be. "I think I will be. I seem to heal faster than many of the people I know. Maybe it's part of that Fullbring thing you talked about." Soren said as he looked at his wounds. "So monsters exist, huh? I guess it shouldn't be too shocking. I have superpowers and others do too. What is a Fullbring anyway?"

Tetsuo frowned at the flood of questions.

"Listen, there's no time for that right now," he stated, his eyes drawn to the cut on Souren's arm. "I can answer all your questions, but we need to get out of here before the police show up." He realized that statement sounded... off, and clarified. "That is, we're not criminals." There was a long pause, and Tetsuo nearly slapped himself. "What I mean to say is that it's not exactly easy to explain we tore down a factory fighting a giant shadow monster." He didn't realize that Soren had already made a portal for their escape. Truth be told, he was mostly thinking about how he could retrieve his motorcycle.

But then, interrupting them, a figure emerged from the portal behind them. Gray hair fluttered in the early morning breeze, and the old woman pulled her cardigan closer to her before crossing her arms.

"Hmph," she said as she sized up the situation. Her sharp gaze glanced over the collapsed and smoldering tower, the giant crater in the ground where the blast furnace had once stood, before finally settling on the two Fullbringers.

“Overdid it a bit, wouldn’t you say?”

“Michiyo?” Tetsuo exclaimed, then he grew angry. “Why didn’t you come sooner?”

“Hm?”

“I sent you a text.”

“Oh...” Michiyo dug around in her purse and pulled out an ancient style flip-phone. She opened it and stared at the blank screen. Tetsuo sighed.

“It's not even on, is it.”

"Hmph, that’s not important.” She said. “And don’t give me that disrespectful tone. I came straight away as soon as I noticed." She gestured to the portal from which she had emerged. "But when I noticed this thing in the middle of your motorbike, I had to investigate that first, of course."

“What?” Tetsuo leaped up and rushed to the portal. He hesitated, then plunged through to the other side, dreading the damage that had been done.

“Come on, we’d better follow him.” This time it was Michiyo’s turn to sigh. She extended her hand to Souren. “The name’s Michiyo Yamahana by the way. I see you’ve already met Tetsuo. Don’t mind him, he’s been through a lot recently. Well, to tell you the truth he always tends to be somewhat prickly, but once he warms up to you you’ll see he’s not so bad. Hmph.”

"Nice to meet you ma'am, I'm Soren," said the Fullbringer in a respectful tone. However, inside he was confused. Not only did he just fight a monster with two other people with superpowers like his own and that he was some thing called a Fullbringer, but now this old woman rode up with a motorcycle and appeared to be one too. Doesn't matter, I'll figure it out as we go, Soren thought. "Yeah, I guess we should. Lightning man has more power than me."

Fortunately, it would result that there was no need for them to follow Tetsuo, as he reemerged from the portal, walking the Yamaha at his side.

"I thought you said my motorcycle had been cut in two," he said.

"Hmph, well if you pull it all the way through of course it'd be fine," Michiyo said. "That's how these powers work, after all." However, while Michiyo had spatial-related powers of her own, her statement was completely speculative when it came to Souren’s.

“Anyway,” she continued. “You two defeated that thing all by yourselves?" she asked, her tone incredulous.

“There was another Fullbringer here,” Tetsuo said, “But he... ran off.”

“And whose fault was that?” Michiyo accused, folding her arms over her chest. “Hmph.”

Tetsuo shot her a glare, but did not reply. “Regardless, we need to get out of here before someone notices the explosion. We can worry about the runaway Fullbringer later,” he said.

“I agree,” Michiyo nodded. She turned to Souren, “You should come with us,” she said. “We Fullbringers have got to stick together, hmph. You may not realize it, Souren-kun, but you are an incredibly unique individual.” Her eyes sparkled. “I’ve been around the sun a time or two: I know potential when I spot it. Not to mention,” she nodded to herself. “You look like you could use a warm meal, and I’m a damn good cook if I do say so myself, hmph.”

“Let’s just tell him all our life stories while we’re at it,” Tetsuo grumbled, clearly impatient. This time, it was Michiyo’s turn to shoot him a glare.

“You can’t recruit new members into Xstence unless you trust them—and give them a reason to trust you, Tetsuo,” she said sternly. Tetsuo was silent, as what she said was true.

“What do you say kid?” he asked Souren after a moment’s pause. “Will you come with us?”

Soren thought for a second. "I guess joining y'all would be for the best. I'd get to learn how to use my 'Fullbring' better and wouldn't have to find places to sleep. Also wouldn't have to steal for food," Soren said with a laugh. In truth, he was simply trying to hide his happiness. It's been awhile since anyone has offered him such kindness. "I'll take you up on that meal Michiyo-san!"

Something Wicked...

Hikari Momohara stood on the edge of a precipice that overlooked a small valley. It was a few hours after sunrise, and a stiff breeze seemed to draw the stark blue sky closer to the earth. Yet the valley itself was devoid of any movement, and seemed to recede into the depth of its own shadow.

Weird. She removed a pair of headphones from the backpack she had toted with her all the way from the airport and placed them over her ears. A spark ignited at Hikari’s fingertips as she activated her Fullbring. From the reports she had read, the anomaly that had caused the disappearance of most of Xstence’s members had happened... right here. But aside from the fencing the police had erected around the so-called "fallout radius," there was absolutely no sign that anything out of the ordinary had even occurred. At least, to a normal human it would have seemed that way.

But she didn’t buy it.

For one, left in the place of the nuclear plant’s former location was a strange line that bisected the center of the valley. The line itself wasn’t visible as such, but the vegetation and rocks all curved towards it, as if the landscape was merely an illusion that had been folded in on itself. But most noticeable was the stillness. A subtle non-presence stretched beneath her, like a vacuum of space: Her Fullbring confirmed it.

Normally, Hikari was able to perceive the subtle vibrations in the atmosphere around her—whether physical or spiritual—as an ambient rhythm. But here the area was completely devoid of sound. The silence was unnerving, and she wondered if what she saw was even real.

“Feedback in Resonance.” After calling out the name of her Fullbring, she clapped her hands together. The blue lights on her headphones turned red as a sonic pulse boomed out across the valley’s expanse. But as soon as the sound passed over the center line in the valley floor, the pulse dissipated. No, dissipate wasn’t really the right word... It was more like the sound had been completely swallowed.

Hikari sent out another pulse, yielding the same result. She cupped her chin in her hand to think. However, that quickly proved to be a monumental task as jetlag settled heavily across her shoulders. She groaned, slapped the side of her face, and exclaimed, “ah forget it!”

Having reached the end of her own investigative capabilities, it seemed it was finally time to reach out to the other members of Xstence. At least, those who were left. Michibāchan had offered her room and board, so that’s where she would go first. After that, and a good nap, she would talk to Isaka-san. Then, and only then... Hikari pictured what her brother’s stern expression might be and clicked under her teeth. He didn’t know she was a Fullbringer, and probably still thought of her as a little girl. That would have to change–soon. Hikari would miss being able to use her Fullbring however she pleased, but it couldn’t be helped. She had come back for the sake of Xstence, she told herself, not to be bossed around by Tetsuo.

Hikari turned away from the precipice to leave, but at that moment she heard something through her headphones and froze. It was an unfamiliar frequency, but she identified it immediately as belonging to a Fullbringer. The pitch of the individual’s presence felt similar to that of an organ’s: a hollow, solemn timber. They were close by, she realized, and quickly scanned her surroundings. She searched for a sign of who might have been there, with a grim awareness of the fact that whoever it was could have been watching her for some time.

At last she spotted him: A man in a crimson red cloak standing some distance away.

Who the hell are you? she thought.

This girl...she was like them. Like himself. The fact she felt his presence from such an impressive distance meant she had experience. The truth was, he had never left this rift in space-time. The crimson cloaked priest wanted to needed to assess this rip in the fabric of reality. For his plan to work, he would need that boy's unique power to open this further...He had an idea to where this place lead to.

And today, God delivered another of his blessings to one who serves him. He appeared in a flash of green. His face with a warm, welcoming smile. She possessed an ability that allowed her to peer within it. The other three men yesterday missed such an obvious disturbance. For her to notice it meant she possessed the key to this lock.

"Here to admire another of God's miracles?" The man asked.

Hikari watched his mouth move, but she hadn't actually heard what he had said. The driving bass rhythm filling her ears blocked it out. It wasn’t the man’s spiritual resonance she heard, it was her own, compounded by her increasing heart rate. She tapped the side of her headphones, and the feedback stopped.

“Sorry what?” She asked. “And who are you anyway?” Then she snapped her fingers together. “No wait I got it, you’re a nuclear researcher. That’s why you’re wearing the raincoat right? To make sure no one comes near you in case you accidentally poison them with radiation!”

Of course, Hikari knew that wasn’t the reason he was wearing such a ridiculous outfit, but she masked the insult with feigned innocence nonetheless.

“Sorry to tell you this old man,” she said, growing serious. “But that chasm in space time over there wasn’t carved by a nuclear fallout. But you already know that, don’t you. So... Who the hell are you, anyway?”

She clenched her hands into fists at her sides, and her reiatsu spiked as she readied herself for whatever attack he threw at her. She had been training on her own for years waiting for such an opportunity as this. Now was the time to put it all to the test.

A nuisance. Technology was the Devil's greatest weapon. Regardless, Solomon sighed and rubbed his temple. This is sure to become a troublesome ordeal. "My name doesn't matter. You can simply refer to me as The Third Magi." His calm, soothing voice boomed over the silence of the former battlefield.

"As you've may have noticed, a battle took place here recently. Between a demon and some of our brethren, other humans blessed with God's gift." Solomon bent over and picked up a pinch of dirt. Sparkles of emerald light fell back to the earth. "You could probably still feel them here. It's what drew you to me."

Solomon took several steps forward. His hand reached into his cloak and he retrieved a leather bound book. "What interest do you have in a miracle of the lord?"

Hikari wasn’t sure if she would have referred to the mass disappearance of so many Xstence members a “battle.” More like a one-sided slaughter in which the Fullbringers never even had a chance to put up a decent defense. In the time since she had first heard about the “Rift,” as Michibāchan had referred to it, Hikari had pondered what she would have done had she found herself in their situation. The answer she had come to was troubling: she didn’t know.

The “Third Magi’s” question reminded her of her ignorance, and she frowned. As soon as he pulled out the book from somewhere in the folds of his cloak, Hikari bristled. Was it a weapon? Or, more likely, the focus of his Fullbring?

“Yeah, I wouldn’t exactly call this a 'miracle,'” she said, still on guard. “Looks more like some hellish anomaly to me. But then again, I’m not exactly the religious type.” She added the last part after noticing the Third Magi’s cross.

As the man approached her, Hikari perceived it to be a threat. Her fingers flew to her headphones, and she switched them on again. This time, the light around the edging shone bright, crimson red—the signal that she was about to attack.

“Oh and one more thing that I need to make clear to you, pal,” she said. “I wasn’t 'drawn' to you, by any means. I came here because I wanted to. It was my choice, and no one—not you, not Tetsu-niisan, or anyone else, is going to take that away from me or tell me otherwise. So,” Hikari extended her hands, stretching her palms out to both sides. Her reiatsu spiked once more, this time emitting a threatening vibe. The driving bass rhythm that filled her ears began to accelerate: joined by snarling drums that pounded along with her rising adrenaline.

“Since you’re clearly not here to help, then get the hell out Ikeda.”


Do You Exist?

In one of the classrooms of the old school that served as Xstence’s headquarters, Tetsuo sat across from the new Fullbringer, Soren Tanikaze. Tetsuo’s hands were pressed together, and he rested his elbows on his knees as he eyed him more suspiciously than necessary. They had retreated from the factory more than an hour ago, as Michiyo had transported them to the school using her teleportation abilities. Amaya had joined them as well, putting her medical training and Fullbring to use by stitching up Soren and Tetsuo’s minor wounds with their own flesh and skin.

They had discussed the battle against the Rift creature, debating on what to do about the Fullbringer who had fled the scene of the incident. Michiyo had prepared brunch as well: delicately fried omelettes served over rice with a side of new pickles. It was finally decided that they would focus on tracking down the rogue Fullbringer for the time being… at least, Tetsuo had not announced, until Soren’s powers could be trained to the point where they could investigate the Rift.

As he stared at the younger Fullbringer, Tetsuo could not help but be reminded of the first time he had met Kūgo Ginjō. He had been initiated into Xcution in a very similar manner to how he was now initiating Soren... although Xstence’s sofas were much less luxurious than the ones that had been at Xcution, he lamented. Briefly, the thought that he had taken Kūgo’s place crossed Tetsuo’s mind, but he ignored it. Xcution and Xstence were completely different, even if the latter was a mirror of the former.

They were nothing alike.

“So as you now know,” Tetsuo finally began, “All of us here are Fullbringers. I’ll answer all your questions, eventually. But first let me explain the nature of our power.”

“With Fullbring, we can manipulate the very essence of an object—the soul, if you will. All objects have one, whether that be electricity, a cut on your arm…” Tetsuo extended his hand over the coffee table between them. He concentrated on Soren’s half-finished orange juice, pulling on the liquid’s surface. Tetsuo suspended the juice in an orangey spiral before twirling it back into the glass. “…or orange juice.”

“Fullbring is born from Hollow reiryoku, but there’s another piece to it that makes each of our abilities unique.” Tetsuo removed his twin steel tonfa and placed them on the table. He recalled the way his father had once explained Fullbring to him, and a dull melancholy pricked him as he emulated his words. “At its core, Fullbring is really no different than the powers possessed by a normal human. If you think about it, the more someone trains with a particular object, the more they bond with it—they are better able to utilize that tool, beyond what is normally possible, because they understand its essence. A baseball bat, a paintbrush—natural skill comes with being so familiar with something that’s in an automatic extension of your own soul.” Tetsuo placed his hand on one of the tonfa, and a flash of electricity circulated around it.

“I know that sounds poetic, but when you think about it practically, I’m sure there’s some object that you’ve come to bond with over time. Something meaningful to you. That’s the focus of your abilities. And that’s what we’ll help you to train. Our physical bodies are our greatest limitation. In order to increase our stamina, to use our powers to their greatest extent, intense training is necessary. We’re not like the Shinigami who can just use reiatsu to compensate for a weak form…” Did Soren know what a Shinigami was? Oh well. Tetsuo continued.

“At the culmination of this physical training, you will be able to use your object to realize the greatest extent of your Fullbring. Once complete, your Fullbring will not change. But there is good news—since you’ve already had such experience beforehand, your fully realized power should be much stronger than average.”

Michiyo, who had been standing nearby the entire time, cleared her throat, and Tetsuo realized it would be a good time to stop monologuing.

“Er, any questions so far?” he asked Soren, who was probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at the wall of words.

Control over other things. Soren had never though about that. He really only ever used the power that would be unique to him, according to what Tetsuo said at least. "An object I'm close to... I guess that explains this." Soren produced a key out of his pocket. "This is my object, key to my old house before everything... went bad."

"You said a 'Hollow' is the source of our power, and reiryoku?" Soren asked with a puzzled look. He wished at this point his Fullbring came with a handbook to help him figure out all these new terms Soren was learning from happening upon others like him. "Thank you for the food by the way, Michiyo-san. It was very good."

"You said a 'Hollow' is the source of our power, and reiryoku?" Soren asked with a puzzled look. He wished at this point his Fullbring came with a handbook to help him figure out all these new terms Soren was learning from happening upon others like him. "Thank you for the food by the way, Michiyo-san. It was very good."

“You’re too polite,” Michiyo chuckled. “Which I have to say, is a nice change around here, hmph. But you can just call me Michiyo.”

“Anyway,” Tetsuo said, attempting to continue, “Hollows are—”

“Hollows are those giant monsters with the white masks and pointy teeth,” Michiyo interrupted. “I’m sure you’ve encountered them before.”

“Not all of them have pointy teeth, Michiyo.”

“Hmph, they’re pointy enough!” She exclaimed. “Have you ever been bitten by a Hollow?” Tetsuo gave her a blank stare. “I thought so.”

Tetsuo cleared his throat, trying to steer the conversation back on track, “Before you were born, your mother was likely attacked by a Hollow. The Hollow’s spirit energy melded with yours, serving as the catalyst for your abilities, which emerged later on.” Tetsuo played absent-mindedly with the handle of his coffee mug for a moment. “Our job is to help you fully manifest your abilities. And I have to warn you now that the process is risky. It’s not something you should try on your own. Usually, when someone achieves the final form of their Fullbring, the energy released is so powerful that it risks harming everyone around them. That’s why we’ll be there—to contain your Fullbring’s power when it’s unleashed.”

Tetsuo grinned. “When I realized my complete Fullbring, I caused a city-wide blackout.”

“Hmph,” Michiyo chimed in, “That’s nothing. Mine drained a lake,” she said, one-upping him.

"Can't say I've seen a Hollow, to my knowledge at least. I see though, maybe that why dad always had it out for me. I know from my sister she passed after I was born and he always seemed to blame me for it..." Soren said, trailing off as he thought of when his dad basically ordered him out of his life. "No time for that sob story though, I'm over it and his shit."

Now, the prospect of being told his power was incomplete was strange. He had a knack for using it now but never suffered some energy explosion like what was mentioned. "How do we train my power to complete it? I know you guys are there to help contain it after, but what if I cause some black hole or something to happen?" Soren stood up and put his hand on his chin as he thought. "This is so freaking weird, this is like The Avengers, only real and a lot more supernatural."

Michiyo nodded emphatically, even though she had no knowledge of what the ‘Avengers’ were. Nevertheless, she could sense the young man’s excitement, and just hoped that Tetsuo wouldn’t mess it up like he did the last time with...

Michiyo thought of poor Nano. Only fourteen and lost to the Rift. She felt guilty that she hadn’t provided the same support that she had for Emi. She felt a stab of pain in her heart at the thought of her former employee and surrogate daughter, and her eyes stung with unshed tears. Michiyo had been optimistic, and had hoped that Tetsuo would have taken initiative in bringing Nano under his wing as a mentee, just as she had done with Emi. She realized now that her hopes had been too high, but she supposed that, at the time, there hadn’t been a pressing need to train Nano since Xstence had been allowed to exist peacefully. But things had changed, and she knew that they needed to train Soren as soon as possible in order to have a chance at striking at the heart of all this—at piercing through the dark shadows of mystery that surrounded the Rift.

Just don’t push him too hard, she silently pleaded with Tetsuo, fearing the consequences should something go wrong.

For his part, Tetsuo stared at Soren, and a long moment of silence passed. It seemed as though he were gauging him, attempting to peer beyond the surface of the Fullbringer before him. Finally, he answered Soren’s question:

“Normally,” he began, “Training involves pushing a Fullbringer to his or her physical limits. Once you’ve reached that point, you have no choice but to delve deeper into the true essence, the foundation, of your powers. Of course this means there is a level of risk inherent in the method... but under our current circumstances I’m sure you see the necessity of utilizing the full extent of your powers as soon as possible.” His voice was as even as ever, but at last he frowned, breaking the expressionless mask he had worn up to that point.

“There is... another method as well,” he confessed. “It’s one I’ve been considering for some time now, but I have to warn you in advance that it is highly experimental.”

He caught Michiyo’s glance, who raised her eyebrow.

“Since a Fullbringer’s powers are born from Hollow reiryoku,” he said, choosing his words carefully, “Than it would make sense that their powers would grow stronger if exposed to more of the same kind of spiritual energy. Perhaps,” he looked at Soren, unsure if the latter would understand terms such as ‘pushing past the limits of our evolution.’ “Perhaps training in Hueco Mundo, the realm of the Hollows, would allow you to achieve even greater degrees of power than typically thought to be possible. Of course, this involves a bit of a Catch-22, since in order to get there we’d likely have to rely on your powers, Tanikaze-kun. And I know this is a serious request, so I ask that you consider the proposition carefully. It’s not a decision to be made lightly.”

At last, Tetsuo leaned back in his seat, although his posture was as stiff as ever. He folded his arms over his chest. “At any rate, should we agree to start training tomorrow?”

The question was abrupt, but not nearly as abrupt as the surge of reiatsu that Tetsuo suddenly felt glancing through the atmosphere. The register of the spiritual pressure itself wasn’t familiar to him, but there was no mistaking who it belonged to.

It was his younger sister, Hikari.

Tetsuo shot to his feet, sudden concern crossing his face. He turned to Michiyo, who had apparently noticed it as well.

“It can’t be...”

Michiyo nodded, “That’s Hikari,” she confirmed.

“She’s here in Ikeda!?” Tetsuo was clearly agitated.

“Look, Tetchan, we were going to explain everything but—”

“She’s in danger.” He cut her off decisively. While he couldn’t be sure, Hikari’s reiatsu was coming from somewhere near the old nuclear plant which had vanished at the opening of the Rift... and he wasn’t about to allow another person he cared about disappear. He couldn’t. Tetsuo set his mouth in a firm line. “Let’s go,” he said, apparently referring to Soren as well.

Soren could barely get in his agreement to train tomorrow before Tetsuo took off. While he wasn't sure about a Hueco Mundo or getting so close to an enemy he did not yet know, he trusted the people around him. He had been saved by them once before in the factory and now offered him a group and meals.

He knew he had already asked several questions and could see that Tetsuo was troubled, and as such refrained from asking more about Fullbringers, Hollows, and all the other supernatural insanity he had been awakened to today. However, as it was pertinent to the situation, he turned to Tetsuo as he followed after him. "Who is Hikari, another Fullbringer?"

No Honest Mistake

After paying the taxi fare, Kyang-jae Maeno stepped into the hotel lobby. The AVONA, not to be confused with the Anova, which was in Hanoi, was located in one of the more upscale regions of Osaka, but not in the heart of the city where the rates practically declared “CEOs and royalty only.” Kyang-jae was a sucker for luxury, but he was also savvy when he needed to be. Still, the AVONA would have been a first class hotel had it been in any other country... and Kyang-jae wished it were in another country.

A few weeks ago, he had received an anonymous message that linked to a news article concerning a mysterious explosion which had occurred in Ikeda. The word 'Ikeda' was enough to tip him off as to who had sent the message, but confirmation came in the following text. While it hadn’t read like a threat, the meaning was clear. The only thing separating Kyang-jae from a vengeful yakuza shanking was the Morimoto conglomerate. But with its head having gone missing, all his assets would be frozen and that delicate veil of protection would be torn down. Xstence, the text said, could offer him protection. Kyang-jae had scoffed at that.

Xstence couldn’t protect itself against a pencil sharpener.

Nonetheless, Kyang-jae’s hand had been forced, and so he had taken the next flight from Singapore to find himself in Osaka... again. It felt a little like waltzing right into a lion’s den, but so long as he kept a low profile, the Yamaguchi-gumi wouldn’t notice him, he hoped. It had been three years for fuck’s sake. He was more than willing to let sleeping dogs lie, couldn’t they do the same? But he knew that, should he be recognized by any of the gang’s members, he’d have to fly the roost, and fast. That’s why he had picked the Avona—far away from the Yamaguchi’s normal stomping grounds and close to the airport.

Still in a bad mood over the whole ordeal, Kyang-jae approached the front desk of the hotel lobby.

Irasshaimase!” the girl working the counter greeted him with a short bow, and for a moment Kyang-jae was taken aback. He wasn’t used to all the little rules of etiquette followed in Japanese society, and had grown quite comfortable without using them, seeing them as a nuisance. Kyang-jae strode up to her with his characteristic easy confidence: one of his hands tucked into his pockets nonchalantly while the other dragged his suitcase behind him, almost an afterthought. He thought he was giving off a cool, perhaps even dangerously sexy vibe, but in reality he just looked like a delinquent who knew he shouldn’t have been there. At least his shades hid his shifting gaze.

“Please sir,” the girl told him.

“Eh?” He uttered it from the back of his throat—like a yakuza-ka—and instantly regretted it.

“We kindly request that you remove your sunglasses. It’s company policy and for security purposes.”

“Oh yeah, sorry about that,” he mumbled as he stowed them away.

“Do you have a reservation?”

Kyang-jae gave her his Japanese name. No use using an alibis, since he wasn’t wanted by the police or any other organization in legitimate society.

But then, Kyang-jae felt a small surge of spiritual pressure, and his eyes widened. A Fullbringer? He was on the alert instantly. At last, he noticed him.

A handsome young man in a pressed uniform entered the room, but Kyang-jae barely noticed his dark skin, an oddity even in Osaka. Instead he was focused on the scent of blood. Did it belong to uniform kid? Was it someone else’s blood? Kyang-jae began to fiddle with the pen on the counter nervously. He continued glancing over at the alleged Fullbringer, sizing him up out of the corner of his eye. Why was he here? Was he with Tetsuo? Or was he affiliated with someone else? He had never seen him before...

At last, the girl at the desk went to the back to get the room key, and as soon as she was gone Kyang-jae lunged for the young man. He grabbed him by the jacket collar from across the counter and twisted it to pull him closer.

“Oi, what the hell game you tryin’ to pull? You with Xstence?” He tried to sound tough, but panic edged his voice.

Ezekiel had been let out of the hospital right before his overnight shift, which meant that he hadn't the time to actually change all his clothes. His socks still had dried blood from the battle earlier. He hoped that the smell of his expensive cologne mixed with his five minute shower would mask the scent of blood. And it had worked...until this psychopath grabbed him and started to ask him a million questions.

He must have lost his damn mind...This was his favorite jacket. Or one of his favorite jackets. It was the most expensive piece of clothing he owned and one he saved several paychecks for. A bespoke piece worth much more than that table cloth with holes Kyang-jae wore. A dark navy blazer made of pure wool, complimented with gold buttons. Never mind the obvious fear in the man's voice or the fact he had spiritual pressure which rivaled Ezekiel. This jacket meant more to Ezekiel than most people. Besides his ring, this jacket had a meaning. A purpose. It symbolized the day he decided to become a man and fight for himself. He'd kill thousands if it meant to save this jacket. And now here he was being man handled by some punk.

If Ezekiel didn't have a issue about using his powers in public, he would have sent this man flying across the lobby. But instead, he took the pen on the desk and plunged it into Kyang-Jae's hand. A spark of green exploded, as he assured that the pen would be sharp enough to cause pain and draw blood.

"I don't know who the fuck you are, or what the fuck Xstence is, but I'll end your existence you touch my jacket like that again you fucking idiot." Ezekiel threatened calmly. A quiet storm.

Kyang-jae did what any sane, levelheaded person would have done in his same situation. Well any professional in his same situation, he supposed.

Faster than could actually be seen, one moment his free hand was in his pocket and the next a switchblade glittered beneath Ezekiel’s throat. But Kyang-jae hadn’t been careless. He had turned his shoulder to the security camera, blocking the fact that he was threatening the concierge from view. But they had probably caught Ezekiel stabbing him through the hand on tape.

Oh yeah, the kid had stabbed him through the hand. That pissed him off.

“That fucking hurt,” he growled. “You idiot,”

But then, from the wound in his hand Kyang-jae drew a thin line of blood. It crept over the edge of the counter, across the floor, reaching to the door where the secretary had gone and shutting it gently. The lock clicked into place. Now that they were alone, Kyang-jae retracted the blood. It curled around the pen before removing it from the flesh of his hand, without Kyang-jae bothering to lift a finger. He kept the switchblade steady as he leveled his gaze at Ezekiel.

“Alright let’s try this again, shall we.” He began. “Who the hell are you, and why the hell are you in Osaka?” He asked. “And if I don’t like your answers well,” He smirked. “I might just add a few bloodstains to your precious jacket.” The blood curled around the pen flicked back and forth, twirling the implement around as if Kyang-jae were contemplating repaying pen stab for pen stab.

Ezekiel was calm. His eyes without the slightest hint of fear. But the anger within could be felt by any spiritually aware creature nearby. It was a thick presence, a stubborn aura that contradicted his calm visage. The spiritual representation of an attitude-problem. Luckily it was 3 in the morning so the usually busy lobby was empty. Save for the other agent who'd been mysteriously locked in the back. Now, with Ezekiel facing this new stranger. He could've simply been diplomatic. Answered his questions and even apologized for the overreaction. But Ezekiel had something to prove against this fake Yakuza.

"I'm sorry." Ezekiel started in his natural accent. It was a strange mixture of French with his American heritage. His voice calmed and low, he wasn't one for yelling or loudness. He spoke in a manner similar to whispering. Choosing to make sure that people would try to hear what he was saying. "How about you go fuck off?"

Poids du Noir

Ezekiel's ring glowed a bright green. The white clothed gentleman was sent flying across the lobby. Seemingly picked up by an invisible force and launched several feet with an explosive jump. Ezekiel hopped over the counter and started towards the man. Luckily, the security camera's in the lobby have been down for repair.

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