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Shrouds of White

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"You know, there are many things I can appreciate about being in the Other Suppression Force (OSF), but this...this is not one of them," an officer said as they watched Others fall from the sky. It didn't seem to matter as to what was going on. New Himuka's forecast in Suoh had said that there weren't supposed to be Others, but even the forecasts can be wrong.

"Do you plan on standing there or moving to the shelter?" Another officer replied, dragging the first.

"Honestly, I feel like dying, but not to Others," the first replied.

Off in the distance, a figure sat perched on a roof, I left for three months and I came back to even more of this infestation. They certainly have had their fill on Others over the past three months, with missions and whatnot. Their hood remained over their face, but they kept a mouth guard on at all times. It was a preventative measure. On the bright side, the 567th class was graduating into the 'Scarlet Guardians.' It was only a nickname that the public came up with to 'ease their burdens.' It was a false sense of security; that's what it was.

Civilians in Suoh, Seiran, and other minor villages outside New Himuka all praise them, but no one knows what the government is really doing. Still, the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Suoh had rolled out the welcome mat. Multiple missiles were fired into the air, some even brushing by him. The explosions were pretty at the very least.

Turning over their shoulder, there was another figure, feminine by the shape. A hood hid her features, but a glint of seafoam green could be seen. “You’re eager, aren’t you?” The first gave a shrug, then turned sharply back around to see a group of four going after Others when they should be heading for a shelter. The second figure laid a hand on the first’s shoulder, “Go intervene. If they’re cadets, they might be in bigger danger from the Others, rather, the brass.”

Sure, just leave me with the grunt work.

“Don’t give me that look, just go. We’ll deal with them later. The rest of the platoon is en route,” the female said to the male. “If you do well, I’ll make it worth your while~”

That made the first figure leap off the building with gusto. Anything but me and her alone. It’s bad enough that people already think we’re dating, and I don't need to add gas to an already present fire.

Getting down was simple, using his ability of Sonokinesis, he landed on the road with a slight bend of his knees. Manipulating sound is his power through SAS but there was one drawback…

Multiple Vase Paws leaped down in front of him. Their upper half looked exactly like a vase, full of flowers, their bottom half were long legs with heels, like women’s wear. It was confusing that first time, but that was over fifteen years ago.

So in lieu of bringing out his weapon, he instead spoke, “Halt.”

It was spoken so softly that it was basically inaudible, but the Others writhed on the ground in agony. Smirking, he rushed them and immediately bludgeoned them to death, using the power of sound. They disappeared into a shower of ashen sparks.

With that taken care of, he rushed down the road to see a Wither Sabbet, a goat-looking creature rushing after two people. He was about to rush in when he saw them working together and then throwing objects at it. Psychokinesis, both of them. Not uncommon to have, but odd enough that there are two. They aren’t using the Struggle Arms System (SAS) either, so I can confirm it’s not a fluke.

Opening up his port, he stealthy hacked into theirs, and found their IDs. Kasane Randall and Yuito Sumeragi. Two high-profile family names in the OSF. I wonder if the Chairman or OSF Commander knows about this. Perhaps they do…

Just as they killed the damn thing, did he make his entrance. There was one problem, he couldn’t speak. At all. When he did, those Vase Paws learned what happened. Just as he approached, two more did.

The one named Yuito called out, “Nagi!”

“Hey Yuito, Naomi saved me, man I feel so useless.”

As he was going to introduce himself, a transport gate opened, and out stepped one Captain Arashi Spring. The girl immediately called them out, “So it was you causing all that trouble.”

Then to add to the already growing shitstorm, the Crows showed up. I did not miss these clowns while we were away. As soon as they got close, he used his power on them, breaking them instantly, which garnered all the attention.

Arashi was the first to regain her composure, “If you’re here, then that means the rest of you will be here soon. Did you come to gloat?”

A head tilt, before he brought up his hands, “Bold of you to assume that I cause trouble. If you want, I can make you deaf?”

“Same old with you, huh?” Arashi said flippantly. “Anyway, get these Cadets out of here and have them avoid the press.”

“They know better than to try and film any of us… unlike you Miss PR,” he replied, and Arashi could feel the grin he sported.

“Just get moving.”

The four Cadets stared with various faces at this new person. “First things first, can any of you understand me?”

The white-haired girl nodded while he was asking the question, the blonde next to her nodded after the question was asked. Matching hairpieces too, siblings… one of them’s adopted. The black-haired boy nodded with a little hesitancy. The last one was still staring blankly. Three outta four ain’t bad.

“Show me your ports for the sake of confirming your identities, translate for me please.” The four of them allowed him access. Naomi Randall and Nagi Karmen. All four of them are 567th class…. What were they thinking?

The reason why they were able to understand him was because of USL. Universal Sign Language. His only form of communication that wasn't Brain Talk. He can use it, but out of his own fear he chooses not to speak in it. While they confirmed that he can use it freely, he severely doubts it. The times he has, they were fine. It was just his superstition.

Just as he finished confirming their identities, he reached up and plucked a knife out of the air heading for his neck. “Damn, one of these days that will hit you.” Landing next to him was the same female from the rooftop. Putting an arm on his shoulder, “So, I took a chance and went for it while you were talking to these Cadets. Not to mention, three of you are high profile and the fourth isn’t anyone to scoff at.”

“Who are you?” The white-haired girl asked, her voice taking an edge.

“Oh, feisty!” The girl said, with perhaps a little too much glee. He then elbow-checked her in the gut. She didn't react, but the slight tense of her arm on his shoulder was the only indicator that she did.

“Kasane! Don’t be rude!” The blonde girl, Naomi, chided her sister.

“Our names are need to know and right now, you are nowhere close to knowing. You’re lucky Arashi came in before I did because I would have dragged you all back to HQ for a scolding,” he said, his words were frustrated in tone, but his face was impassive.

“It’d be wise if you just follow along because while he may look docile, he’s one step away from making sure you can’t hear. I’m inclined to agree as he is my squadmate,” she said. “Plus, I’ve been on the receiving end of it and it’s not pretty.”

“Sonokinesis then,” Kasane identified his power.

“Well done, but just knowing isn’t going to help you. Start walking,” he pointed down Suoh’s main drag to OSF HQ. They don't even know the condition that made me like this.

“Well, is there a nickname we can call you? So that way we don’t have to call you ‘this guy, this girl’ just for our sakes?” Yuito diplomatically asked. Naomi agreed. Nagi was still in a state of shock. Kasane was observing with a much more critical look.

"Call him 'Banshee', call me… is there a good name for me?"

The newly named Banshee replied, "Flirty. It describes you to a T."

"Hey!" she complained, "I'm not that bad!" The look she received was proving the opposite.

"You have literally said you've wanted to sleep with me and that was after I turned you down…" he said bluntly, much to the embarrassment of the cadets and to her.

"TMI," Yuito muttered off to the side, clearing his throat afterward.

"Banshee…" the name felt foreign on her lips, "I understand, but I guess we'll have to think of one next time we meet," Naomi said as the group of six walked along the road.

If there is a next time, Banshee thought.

The walk was short, but Banshee could feel eyes boring into him. "Is there something you want to say, Cadet Randall?" He turned to see Kasane looking him in the eye. Even while walking, he never broke his stride. The girl next to him was purposefully avoiding this conversation.

The hood only allowed Kasane to look into a deep ocean blue set of eyes, and the stare was so intense, she was the one who stopped staring first. A sign of submission "N-No, sir." She missed the way his eyes gave her an ignorant once over. He missed it himself, of course, but the girl next to him didn't.

"Good, report in and await your next orders, and for one, congrats on being official members of the OSF. With the potential you all possess, you can go far. Don't squander this chance. To whoever becomes your platoon leaders, I pray for them."

As they arrived at the OSF Headquarters, the Crows were all waiting. The girl, Flirty—her name for now—cleared the way, "No cameras, or I have the authorization to smash them to bits."  

"Wait, how?" That was Nagi who asked the question.

"Need to know," was all Banshee said. Thankfully, the Crows were smart and avoided having their cameras smashed. Banshee pulled his hood even further. "Honestly, Arashi better be thankful the next time I'm around her."

There were murmurs from the Crows, and the actual physical press about 'those white outfits' and 'only a few in the OSF even have them' and finally, 'Not even the Septentrions have them…'

That was certainly a red flag to the cadets, but surprisingly, they kept their individual reactions under wraps.

Flirty came back, "I thought of a name for myself that you can call me!" She was a little too cheerful. "Just call me Lilly! At least until you're able to learn my actual name!"

But that's what your name means… Banshee thought to himself. Rolling his eyes, he entered past the gates and a conglomerate of people was there. Most skipped over them, but one with glasses immediately snapped his eyes to Lilly and Banshee. Oh, so he probably knows.

"Not a word, buddy," Banshee shut him down. That seemed to get the experienced OSF members' attention. Lilly grinned for all to see. She was testing them. It wasn't often these two come around, but when they do, the rest aren't far behind.

“As for you four, while I can’t discipline you, I can say that you four are either very brave or very stupid, and it’s one or the other, not both, and no mixing in between,” Banshee honestly didn’t know what drove them to act, but the OSF needs people like them. “Lilly, let’s go, we have to wait for Big Brother.”

“So, he’s finally making an appearance?” She asked as the two walked off before literally leaping to the roof.

Everyone in the plaza was stunned, “Oh, did I just miss them?” A woman with blue hair and red eyes asked. A broach rested above her ears, and her smile was motherly. Kyoka Eden, Major in the OSF and she’s the one who treats her platoon like family. "I heard their missions were successful and that they were coming back to Suoh for a 'break'."

Next to her was a man that many knew in the OSF. Septentrion Seventh Class Captain Seto Narukami. Yuito and Kasane straightened up, both for different reasons. Nagi and Naomi looked ready to tease their respective companions about it. “Probably, but that's for later, Kyoka," he turned to the cadets, "Good, you aren’t injured. The Chief is going to want to speak to you four.” The man’s eyes went to Yuito, “You know how your brother is.”

“I do,” even though they were against me joining the OSF. Even so, he couldn’t contain the eye roll he let off. “I can lead the conversation if that’s alright…” he trailed off looking to the other three cadets with him. They seemed content letting Yuito talk to Kaito Sumeragi, the Commander-in-Chief of the OSF.

Kasane seemed to take this information with renewed interest, if only for Naomi’s sake. Her older sister was smitten with him, but Kasane is the protective younger sister type. No one’s allowed to harm her or talk to her because they'll take advantage of her kind nature. That's what Kasane thinks anyway.

“Kasane Randall, was it?” Seto addressed her.

“Y-Yes, sir?”

He chuckled once, “Don’t be so tightly strung, the OSF is a family. Anyway, congrats on being the top cadet of the 567th class. Naomi, you made it to the top five. Impressive.” Kasane’s cheeks turned a slight red, and many noticed, except Seto. “Yuito, Nagi, you two were in the top twenty, commendable. Now, head inside, the Chief is waiting.”

“Hold on a moment,” a new voice said.

“Septentrion First Class Major General Karen Travers?” Nagi exclaimed the man’s full title with copious amounts of shock. Everyone else was dumbfounded.

“Good job today, the four of you,” he said before heading out. "Despite what the Chief says, you acted with good intentions."

“Yuito,” Seto called, “The Major General has his own expectations set for you. He’s hoping you’ll live up to it.”

"That's...great?" Yuito scratched his head. "I honestly hope it's because I'm a Sumeragi."

Seto laughed, "No no, it's because he believes that you have great potential."

Yet, the question that lingered on everyone’s mind was about those two mystery people, except for the higher-ups. They knew that if they were back, it was for a very important reason.

 


 

"Alright, are we clear?" Banshee asked once they made it to the side roof of the OSF Headquarters. This was considered a Safe Zone. A Safe Zone was a place that wasn't being monitored by the government, where one could talk freely. It's pretty messed up how no matter how safe you think you are, you really aren't in New Himuka.

"Yeah, we're clear, Hiroki," Lilly said, using Banshee's real name.

"Good, because I hate the fact we have to have nicknames for this shit. Also, Kohana, could you not flirt with me or try to tease me at every waking moment with a good time?" Banshee—actually, Hiroki—asked.

Kohana threw down her hood, revealing the seafoam green eyes and matching hair. Her smile was beautiful. One look and you'd think she was twenty-two. She was much older because of the drugs that made aging negligible.  The drugs from the OSF are about the only good thing that came out of it. Hiroki himself was twenty-one when he was scouted—meaning he was drafted into service—because he had high traces of a psionic hormone in his brain. Kohana was in the same boat too. She was scouted into the OSF when she had just turned twenty-two, and she was still in her prime. That's how she's been for the past twenty years. Hiroki was also attractive for a man his age, and with the vigorous amounts of work and fighting he does, he's a prime candidate for women's eye candy. With his short dark navy hair and matching eyes, some would say he's a lady killer.

Don't know where they get that from though…

Getting back to Kohana's main point, "One day, I'll get you in my bed for more than cuddling." She, of course, braided her to keep it out of the way, but it was surprising to see her relax, "Man, these missions are rough. Like twelve Major Others, a horde of the normies, and then a rouge OSF agent? Makes me wonder what happens when we're not here…"

"With that kind of talk, that would be grounds to have you executed," a new voice said. Both Hiroki and Kohana turned to see a man, around six feet in height, toned body, a mask fixated to his lower jaw, but it gave way to a smirking face with a light scruff. His hair was down to his neck, all loose. He was only twenty-eight when scouted, considered an 'Adult' in the OSF, but that's another explanation that we don't have time for. His hands were on his hips, looking like a parent scolding their children.

"Big Brother!" Kohana cheered, throwing herself onto him. He caught her easily, before pinning her to the ground. "Right… forgot how you don't like hugs."

With an easy-going smile, "Only from you, since you will screw anything with a pulse."

Kohana giggled, "Okay, that's true."

"Big Brother," Hiroki spoke. "Glad to see you alive. It's been what, a year since I've last seen you?"

"Hiroki, you can use Brain Talk you know? We've proven it's safe for you," Big Brother said, returning the very brief greeting before immediately scolding him.

"Shiro, it's not that simple. What if it leaks in and then I damage your brains? I don't want that weight on my shoulders. We already have enough as is," Hiroki said, looking away.

A hand settled on his shoulder, and his fighting instincts reacted, but a second hand caught his, "Relax, for one. Two, you need to get by this, otherwise, you'll die one day. Is that what you want?" Deep ocean blue met a set of fiery orange irises, the hold tightened for a moment before breaking off. Kohana wisely said nothing.

"Where's everyone-"

"Brain Talk or I'll beat you where you stand," Shiro Jin, leader of the Shiro Platoon threatened, and from the way he was positioning himself, he was prepared to go through with it.

{Okay okay, stop working yourself up, Shiro. I'll be a good boy,} Hiroki said, his words hesitant, waiting for any backlash from the members.

{Holy hell Batman, you got Hirochi to use Brain Talk?!} a higher-pitched voice said back. Clearly, she was excited, since they don't hear his voice often.

Shiro took over, {Yeah, after I threatened to kick his ass.}

{Why do you have to out me like that?} Hiroki pouted a little, his fear is totally valid!

"Because it's funny, Hiroki," Kohana said, wrapping herself playfully around him. She's really affectionate, and it's really only to him. He doesn't see her that way, mostly because he finds women confusing.

More footsteps took residence within the Safe Zone. One of them was a little girl, no older than ten. Her hair was bright pink, and of course, eyes to match. Her baby face had a smile that threatened to split it wide open. "Seki, glad you could make it."

"Aw, it's nice to see you too, onii-sama!" The young girl, Seki, said. Her codename was Echo, and despite not being the one fighting, she was very enthusiastic about killing Others. Shiro scooped her up and plopped her on his shoulder. "Wee!" She still acts like the child she is, which made Hiroki's shoulders loosen.

Maybe that was her intention, Hiroki thought as the look Seki shot him confirmed it. {Hello, imouto.}

"Hello, onii-san!" Seki reached her arms out like a child wanting hugs and affection. Hiroki rolled his eyes before plucking the 'young' girl off Shiro's shoulder and hugging her. She nuzzled her cheek against his since his hood—and a portion of his mask—was down, but most of the mask remained in place. That didn't matter to her though.

"Oh, so you'll hug her, but not me?" Kohana complained, but there was no bite to it.

{Absolutely, she's not trying to sleep with me.}

"So you think…"

{That is an image I wish to purge in the deepest pits of the Extinction Belt,} Hiroki said as the girl climbed on his shoulders and sat with her elbows on her thighs.

Remembering that there were more than one set of footsteps, he turned to see the last three members of the squad. First was Ryo Lin, forest green hair and eyes, a big burly man. A light beard on his face, a bald spot on his crown, and one hundred percent gay as hell. A scar rested on his cheek under his left eye, a reminder to not get too comfortable with Others. They're vicious. While he doesn't flirt with anyone in the squad—much to Kohana's chagrin and pouting—he does dole out compliments to men he sees and likes. His codename is The Rock or Rocky. This will make sense in a moment.

Next was Miya Imamura. She was a woman of few words, but she certainly was no slouch. She was buff; maybe not as much as Ryo, but she was—as they say—built differently. One long braid of purple hair descended down to her mid-back, her violet eyes could pierce an Other's shell with utmost ease. She only spoke when directly spoken to or when orders were given out. There are rare occasions to this though, and her voice is surprisingly soft for her looks. She gave Hiroki and Kohana a curt nod, which they returned, before scanning her surroundings again. Her codename was unoriginal and didn't fit with her, but she was called Hard Place.

Rock and Hard Place… let that sink in for a moment before making any rash decisions.

Lastly, there was Yori Fujiwara. An exuberant man, who acted like Seki, but his mind worked harder than anyone else, due to his ability. With bronze hair in a bun and heterochromatic eyes, one bronze and one silver, and a plethora of scars littered about his body, he acted much more carefree but that was to lure his 'prey' into a false sense of security. They would think he was an easy target. His codename was Battery.

To recap, Shiro Jin was Big Brother and the leader. Seki Okimoto was Echo and the platoon operator. Ryo Lin was Rocky, the tank. Kohana Salazar was Lilly, the team scout. Miya Imamura was Hard Place, heavy artillery/second tank for lack of a better term. Yori Fujiwara was Battery, the team's charger. Lastly was Hiroki Kuno, the second scout; codename Banshee.

Their psionic powers complemented one another in a variety of ways. While it would be fun to divulge them, they had more pressing matters to attend to. Hiroki gave a report on what happened just before they arrived. The group had to talk to the Chief for their next assignment.

"Wow, I didn't know the Randalls had two daughters," Ryo said, his hand running through his beard.

"One, most likely Kasane, is adopted. Even looking up her profile, she has no record from before 2006. We all know by the time people graduate from the Academy, recruits are sixteen, sometimes seventeen," Hiroki said, using Sign Language was like a default. Shiro didn't mind because he did get him to use Brain Talk.

Scouted people are found at random, so they could be over the age of graduation. Prime examples are the seven people present. They were already over seventeen, except for Seki. Seki was only ten when scouted, and graduated in three years, whereas normal cadets finish in four to five years. She's the youngest member to ever graduate from the Academy.

The anti-aging drugs mentioned prior are given to all members of the OSF and are an everyday constant. They are slipped into their food, water, and literally anything they eat. Technology has come a long way over the last few centuries.

"So, a Sumeragi and two Randalls?” Yori asked, in a rare moment of composure.

Using Brain Talk, so Shiro doesn't actually beat him, Hiroki replied, {Yeah, both him and Kasane possess Psychokinesis. Not rare, but uncommon. The most we see is Pyro or Aerokinesis. Electrokinesis is rarer than that, but still, two in the same year?}

"We'll take it up with the Chairmen, but I have more unsettling news," Shiro said. Just like that, all eyes were on the Platoon leader. “There have been whispers of a rebellion brewing in Suoh, and for all I know, it’s happening soon.”

The way Shiro was looking at them all was one of distrust as if he expects everyone to turn on him. No one dared speak, even Miya had her full attention on Shiro.

Knowing he had their full attention, “So, are you with me?” His hand fell to a holster that contained a very powerful weapon, the only one of its kind. “Or are you against me?” His eyes landed on Hiroki first.

{Did you forget who we are, Shiro?} Faint traces of a grin could be seen under his mask. {We’re a black ops OSF squad. We look after our own, our ties are only to each other. You’re the one who taught me that, and I’d like to think the lesson stuck.}

Shiro’s grip on his weapon loosened, but it didn’t disappear. Seki was the next to say, “You know my loyalty lies with onii-sama and onii-san! Plus, you need an operator like me!”

The girl was sitting on Hiroki’s shoulders, and she playfully pulled on Hiroki's cheek. He allowed it because there’s no way he’ll be able to pull her off.

“Shiro, I’d sooner die than turn traitor,” Miya said, her eyes deadly serious and her voice soft-spoken. The elegance of a woman, really.

“Who else would I flirt with? They’ll either take me up on my offer or avoid me altogether,” Kohana said with a pout. "It's more fun when they're playing hard to get."

Yori just nodded his head up and down relentlessly. Ryo added in, “Well, I’d lose eye candy if I left you, and I’ve grown fond of all you.”

“You big softie!” Seki cried out, giggling.

Shiro’s hand finally let go of his weapon, making a very audible sigh of relief known. The seven of them all shared a moment to relax. Seki idly played with Hiroki’s hair in the meantime.

“So, what’s the plan now? Are we reporting to Chief Sumeragi?”

Kohana grinned, “We will, but first, you’re going to fess up~”

Most looked at Kohana in confusion, Hiroki especially.

“Look, I know when a man is checking out a girl, and you Mister Banshee, were eyeing Kasane. Even if you deny it, you may not have noticed your eyes dropping to her legs, especially her thighs” Kohana explained, making a show by dragging her hands down her own body. She has absolutely no shame.

Hiroki swears that in another life, Kohana was a showgirl. “Yeah… no.”

“Bull to the shit~!” Kohana immediately refuted.

Shiro noticed his hood fly up and it disturbed Seki, but she allowed it. Hiroki wasn’t denying it. Every member of the squad was eyeing him with knowing grins, but none were wider than Kohana. She had that ‘cat ate the canary’ grin. “You like her!”

“Okay, I admit, she’s cute, but she shouldn’t get involved with me at all. Isn’t that a rule?”

Shiro chuckled once, “It’s a rule to not date within the squad, outside it… that’s fair game, so long as you both agree to the potential ramifications. So, why don’t you talk to her?” He was smiling all happy like he didn’t just threaten them with death not even five minutes ago.

Hiroki was positive that his face was bright red. Using his hands to hide his face he spoke in Brain Talk, {She seems like one who detests small talk and would be more worried about her sister!}

"Use that as your in!" Kohana suggested.

Seki was actually the one to refute her, "That's not a good idea. It will give off the wrong message. That, and it's scummy."

Hiroki peered through his hands and gave Shiro a pleading look. Snickering once more, he decided to spare him, "Alright, let's go see the Chief. We'll meet at rally point Hotel at 2300, clear?"

"{Yes, sir!}" Everyone saluted him, and even Yori's voice was mixed in.

Hiroki let Seki down so she could cling and annoy Miya, who also had a soft spot for the pinkette. Most everyone did. She was too damn adorable.

Hiroki stayed back, and so did Shiro. There was a reason he was called Big Brother, and while he runs a tight ship, he does indeed care about his squad. "Are you even going to attempt to approach her?"

"Why does everyone assume that I'm going after her?" Hiroki asked, a little peeved.

Shiro gave him a look, "Be honest with me, did you think she was attractive?"

"Obviously. I was trying not to stare," Hiroki admitted. "I think she's a tsundere. Also, the age gap is a reason I haven't bothered."

"You know I'm right here?" Kohana said, having stopped to hear this, cocking her hip out to the side.

Yori chimed in with a zinger, not even looking at her, "We know, but you don't count."

After a short laugh shared with all the members, "Age gaps are insignificant in the OSF, and you still look twenty-one, so there's not much of a 'gap' to speak of. You certainly know how to pick 'em," Shiro said before walking away.

Hiroki paused for a second before immediately shooting back, "What's that supposed to mean?" I do care about the gap though… I've been in the OSF for fourteen years… but have I even thought about romance?

He was left with far more questions than answers. Thankfully, with this Safe Zone, the Chief's office was close by, so he followed the rest of his team. While he was doing so, he was recalling who joined the squad and how long they've been there. Shiro was there first, then Yori, then Miya, then Ryo, then Seki, then Hiroki, and finally Kohana. Well, Hiroki and Kohana entered the squad at the same time. Oftentimes, she's paired with Hiroki; mostly because their powers in SAS synergize extremely well.

I remember the day I joined his platoon. It was certainly an odd day. Then again, my life did a tailspin for the third time… and I'm positive that there are more to come.

"Yo, Hiroki!" Shiro's voice called out, "Hurry up or I'll come back and beat ya!"

No other motivation was needed.

 


 

Down with the four Cadets, they were all having a serious conversation. Nagi was the first to ask, "So, do we know anything about those two?" They were on the way to the Chief's office. Naomi was walking with Kasane. Nagi was walking beside Naomi while Yuito was bringing up the rear.

"I've been looking in the OSF registry, because once we had finished our aptitude tests, we were given full access, at least, as much as we're able. Their outfits were the first thing I searched for, and I found nothing."

The two people they saw had white outfits. Most, if not all, members of the OSF wear black and light coloring of red. Some members even have some extra attachments, like the experimental BIAS. Those two had white and red outfits, with BIAS wrapping around them. Even Banshee's mask had them on it.

"As in like nothing on the outfits?" Yuito asked.

"Nothing as in nothing at all, they're ghosts. So, how can I trust them if they aren't in the system?" Kasane retorted calmly, but it came off as irritation. Yuito winced at that, realizing how truly difficult it was to converse with her.

"Kasane…" Naomi said in that 'older sister' tone.

"Maybe there's a logical explanation," Nagi interjected. "I mean, what you translated for me was that we aren't meant to know, and if we start digging in places we shouldn't, that will reflect on us poorly."

A voice came from beyond the door, "At least one of you has some sense." Apparently, they arrived at the Chief's door while they were talking.

Yuito froze slightly, which did not go unnoticed by Naomi, who looked at Yuito in worry. The girl was interested in him, it can't be called a crush yet. Kasane still has to scope him out, make sure he's fit to protect her.

The door opened and the sight that greeted the four cadets was nothing short of weird. There were seven figures scattered throughout the room and the Chief sat in his chair. Kaito Sumeragi was a tall man, but only two out of the seven were taller. Their hoods obscured their faces. Only one of them didn't have their hood all the way up, and it was the one they met earlier. Banshee. The mask covered most of his jaw and neck, extending to just under his eyes. It did cover his ears, but that only brought more questions.

"Are your orders clear?" Kaito asked one of them.

The leader of which responded, "Yeah, sure. Whatever. You called us back because you thought it was an emergency, if it's not, then leave us be."

{Cover your ears, now.} A Brain Talk message came through Naomi's, Nagi's, Yuito's, and Kasane's heads all at once. {Don't question, just follow the instruction.}

"Are you using us?" It was spoken so softly, it sounded like a murmur. A ringing noise made the four cadets buckle before going to their knees. Only the Chief remained unaffected or was attempting to look that way.

"You and I both know that if I was, you'd lay waste to the entire Suoh OSF facility," Kaito said, having recovered.

"Well, now we know why he's called Banshee," Yuito quipped.

Kaito switched his focus on his brother and fellow cadets, "You know why you're here?"

"Violation of Code 56, section C, phrase two: Cadets are not permitted, under any circumstance, to fight Others. Doing so may result in death," Kasane rattled off. To the surprise of the room, the smallest one cheered.

"Look at you, showing off your smarts like that! No wonder why-" the girl was cut off with a hand over her mouth.

{She talks too much,} was all the response they were given. With a free hand, Banshee pulled his hood up to hide his returning blush. Multiple snickers were heard.

"Correct," Kaito said, clearly miffed about the interruption. "While I should be punishing you, your actions had saved civilian lives. I cannot rationally overlook that fact, however, do not expect this kind of treatment. Especially you, Yuito. This can be seen as special treatment and I know you don't want it. When you receive your platoon assignments, follow their orders explicitly, am I clear?"

The four responded in unison before being dismissed. Kasane took note that the one with blue eyes was watching her. She returned the stare and this time, he was the one who looked away first.

What could that possibly mean?

Chapter Text

All of Shiro Platoon entered the Suoh OSF Headquarters through the thirteenth-floor window, staggered, as three were behind, but four of them were ahead. There were fifteen or so floors in the building, but none of them directly connected to Chief Suemragi's office. There were secret passageways that only the Chief and Shiro Platoon knew about.

Technically, They aren't supposed to know, but it was only because they were curious. There’s a reason why they haven’t been seen often and if they are, most people think it’s a hoax. The Septentrions are aware of Shiro Platoon and their background. However, the background they know and what’s actually there are two very different things. Yori was in the front, his eyes flickering every which way, his psionic power was itching for a recharge.

"Stand down, Battery. You can do that later…" Miya said cooly, her violet hair and slightly tanned skin clashing with the decorum around them. Hard Place didn't want to deal with a power outage...again. He had a bad habit of doing that when he was an excited, crazy bastard. Miya's voice was the calm, stern, motherly voice; akin to a Mezzo-Soprano. It's the last voice you expect to hear from a toned woman such as herself. Her outfit was, of course, white and red. She went for the masculine look—meaning pants—instead because the skirt was a step too far. She's a woman, but she doesn't need to fall to the stereotype of wearing a 'combat skirt' as Seki calls it. Just getting her assets into pieces of the outfit was a pain. Kohana doesn't struggle with that. Multiple pouches resided on her hips, chest, and back. A loose patch of fabric could be seen, which was the piece of fabric that pulled up her hood when entering Brain Drive. The name of her outfit was Battle Attire White: Glacier.

"Ah, let him go, Miya," Ryo joked. "The man needs to let loose every now and again. I mean the last time he actually let go during a mission...whew, what a day that was." The man gained a nostalgic look at recalling that mission. He was less picky in his outfit, as it did do what it was supposed to do: cover his body. A piece of fabric was left out on his chest to pull up his hood, as standard with all OSF outfits. It was no surprise. His pale complexion almost matched with his outfit, and he was almost nicknamed Ghost, just for the irony. The man's voice was amongst Alto in the voice range. It kind of hindered on the gay stereotype, but when the man was serious, you do not cross him. On several occasions, the platoon found out why. Ryo's outfit was called Battle Attire White: Mountain.

"Yeah, and I got to watch a bunch of Others explode in the biggest shower of sparks I've ever seen!" Seki declared triumphantly, hands on her hips. The pinkette seemed pretty proud of herself. Yori nodded with a fond smile, his eyes giving a far-off look. The young girl's voice easily fell in the Soprano range and her outfit was what a normal girl her age would wear. It was a cute white skirt, combat boots, and a scarf that had decorative flower patterns, mostly roses, but there were also some tulips on there. She stitched them in herself. She even has a hat that sat atop her head. When in Brain Drive, it activated a veil that covered her whole head, making her appearance unique. She was good with a needle...and scary if you make her mad...surprise! Her skin was like someone applied blush to her cheeks, and her skin somewhat matched Miya's, not too tan, but not too pale. The young girl loved artsy kinds of activities and helping out onii-sama. That art included blowing up Others. It didn't matter her psionic power was Telepathy, she also knew how to fight, as expected being in the platoon. "I wonder what's taking Kohana-chan, onii-sama, and onii-san so long?" Her outfit was called Battle Attire White: Garden.

Yori spoke rarely, even rarer than Hiroki, "They needed to talk about his crush." The man's voice was more of a Tenor, but when sleep claimed his voice, easily a Bass. As much of a child as he acts, he does have his mature moments. "I think he picked well." A half cloak rested on his left shoulder, hiding his arm from view. As standard as Battle Attire gets, it was obviously white and red—a recurring theme, be prepared to be beaten over the head with this—with long black pants, about the only thing that was black on his outfit, well, that and his skin. Some think it was because of his power that 'charred' him. It was a dirty remark to make, but it was untrue. He was born that way. Where he was from, it was normal. His outfit's hood was more akin to a mask that turned into a helmet. It was called Battle Attire White...and he swears by this...Disco. Yeah, he went there. No one outside the platoon knows that though, so long as it stays that way. 

"That quick, Yori?" Ryo asked surprised. The Irish-looking man turned his head to the side, "Normally, you reject those he fancies."

"They wouldn't fit with him," Yori replied simply. "She does."

"How would you know, Yori-kun?" Seki asked teasingly. Yes, Seki was technically older than Yori, despite appearances. Another common theme in the OSF, just like the Spring siblings. Arashi looks younger but is actually older than Fubuki. The dark-skinned man just grinned. Understanding dawn on the other two. He also sent a smug look to Seki, who—bless her little big heart—still had the ignorance of a child. She's really inconsistent…I wonder whose fault that is.

"Hey, are you having a discussion without me?" Kohana's voice came through the wall before appearing right at their side. Unlike Miya, who refused to wear combat skirts, Kohana thrived in them. She often wore the shortest ones but paired them with leggings that covered her legs and exposed a tasty amount of her thighs. Again, that was for Seki's 'innocence' factor. The scout of Shiro Platoon paired this with boots that had blades fashioned within the sole. Her upper half was voluptuous, contained by her double-layered blouse, the sleeves went to her forearms. The red on the white pattern exaggerated her curves and assets fine. Think of a university or college that has a uniform rule and that's what it would look like on Kohana. Considering how often she flirts with 'Hirochi', one would think he'd jump on the chance. What she was wearing was called Battle Attire White: Nernie 1 . Her hood was as standard as they come. Yes, it's spelled that way, she looked it up. The source was very reliable. Dude, trust me. The voice of the scout was along the lines of an Alto or Tenor, leaning heavily towards the former.

"Sure, just use your power inside where everyone else is," Miya grumbled. Kohana was unapolgetic about it.

The woman clicked her tongue, "I have the power to use the shadows to my will, and I will if it means catching up to you all."

"Surprised you haven't used it on Hiroki to jump him," Miya shot back but paused slightly in her step when Kohana looked embarrassed. The woman gained a devious look, making her look seductive, making Yori feel the change in the air. He looked away uncomfortably. "You have and he turned you down, again?~"

"I don't want to talk about it," Kohana mumbled, blushing.

"Why is Kohana-chan red?" Seki asked with her finger on her lip, inspecting the scout.

Miya smirked, making the atmosphere around her change into that of a mistress. The imagery should speak for itself. "Are you willing to explain?"

The scout hid her face, "W-Well, you s-see, Seki, I...uhm..." Thankfully, Ryo noticed his team member's plight and changed the subject.

"Well, are they still talking?" Ryo inquired, making a left in the hallway, then a right, and continued straight. This Safe Zone was actually pretty far from the Chief's office. He ignored the thankful look from Kohana and the stare from Miya.

{No, just taking our time,} a Brain Talk message came to all of them.

Joining them from a different angle was Hiroki and Shiro. Hiroki's outfit was the long-sleeve variant of the Battle Attire Simple 2 . The main difference was the masked affixed to his face. BIAS was attached. Simply put, BIAS is a brain-assisted system that enhances his power. It's on all of the members, except Shiro. There's a reason for that. The point being, Hiroki's BIAS is a little more complex and a select group of researchers are the only ones allowed to modify it or remove it. His navy blue eyes were sharp, but still held a bit of innocence in them. That was usually covered by a front that he only exposes to them. His arms were crossed as he walked next to Kohana who had a little flush on her face. He noticed but chose not to comment, not when Miya was giving him a look. He's not oblivious, but she knows the rules and so does he. His skin tone was along the lines of someone who gets in the sun every so often, despite their line of work. His outfit was named Battle Attire White: Revenant. He felt it was a little too on the nose of his codename, but he never bothers to change it, much like Ryo, it's an outfit. It does the job.

Lastly, the man who controls all of them is Shiro. The leader of the platoon was a rare specimen amongst the OSF, as his power is so rare, it was never recorded before. He uses it sparingly as it gives him a sense of control that he never forcefully exerts on others. However, his combat prowess is second-to-none. Even with all six of them fighting him, he still emerged victoriously. However, it wasn't flawless. They did manage to break his arm and cripple his leg...but he still won. He took out everyone but Seki...because Seki. The man's orange eyes scanned over all of them, "Are we ready?" His voice was a deep Bass that any woman would swoon over. The holster on his hip swung freely, as he was idly twirling his weapon. Given the right hat, he'd look like a 'cowboy' if Hiroki remembers the term correctly. Tease Shiro about it and he'll kill you...probably. The weapon itself was a relic, and yet he's the only one who can use it. When prompted, he responds with 'dumb luck' and leaves it at that. He's actually dressed formally, but that's his battle attire. Wearing a white button-up, rolled sleeves, and white pants, black shoes; he looks like a man going to a formal dinner instead of a meeting with the OSF Chief. He called it Battle Attire White: Invisible Rose 3 . There was a reason for this too.

"Sure/Yeah, boss/Of course, onii-sama! {Only in spirit,}" was the mixed bag of answers.

"Lips locked, speak only when spoken to or when I give the order. Right, shadow jumper?" A pointed looked to Kohana made her nod in agreement, vigorously. The weapon returned to its holster. "Good." The group stopped in front of a new door, one that was grander than all the others.

 


 

Knock Knock.

Shiro had knocked twice before kicking the door down, and each member flinched at the brutality. Hiroki anticipated this and used his power to silence, or at least muffle, the sound. {Unnecessary,} he chided. He noticed Seki hiding behind his legs.

The pinkette spoke up, {Onii-sama is scary when he's angery. 4 }

{Totally necessary,} he responded before speaking, "You do realize that calling us back is a bad idea?"

The man sitting calmly at his desk was none other than Kaito Sumeragi, and he continued with his work like his office door wasn’t just kicked down. The man looked up, "Thank you for the muffle, Banshee."

Hiroki nodded and sat in a chair, Seki slid next to him—crawling into his lap—but was more worried about Kaito's safety. Shiro had expressed his distaste of coming back, but not to this extent. A glance around to the platoon said the same thing. Only he and Miya were keeping neutral expressions. Ryo was watching with bated breath. Yori...wasn't really...paying attention. Kohana was as white as a sheet. "Why did you request us back here? We were on the trail of the rogue OSF agent!  If something happens, then it’s on you!”

True, they were dealing with a rogue OSF platoon that defected to who knows where. Most of the platoon was closing in on their respective targets. Sumeragi’s summons put a damper on those plans. If there’s one thing Shiro doesn’t like, it’s a failed mission. Being pulled back before they could complete their mission counts.

“I’m aware, Shiro, but allow me to enlighten you about what I’ve been hearing through my network,” the man stood before swiping his hand at the TV screens behind him. Everyone looked.

“Sightings of NDF in Seiran mounting up…OSF agents being…” the murderous aura Shiro extended made everyone brace, except Hiroki. “That research is inhumane and you’re still funding it?!”

Kaito stared down the man who could easily kill him if he so wished, “Yet, its uses far outweighs the negatives.”

“That’s not the point!” Shiro growled. “Have you heard of basic human rights? That goes against all of them.” He stepped right up to the face of the Chief, “and if you tried to put my platoon through it, the Sumeragis would have one less son.”

{Shiro, that’s too far. Please back off, Seki has a death grip on me and I think she’s drawing blood,} Hiroki spoke, bravely might he add.

“O-Onii-sama…” the pinkette stuttered before pulling her hands off Hiroki’s neck, noticing the red. “Sorry, onii-san.”

“It’s fine,” he responded, grinning under the mask. His eyes shined with forgiveness.

Kohana reached out on a private Brain Talk, {Looks like it hurt.}

{This girl has a death grip, I swear.}

Miya would never admit it, but she gripped Ryo’s hand with all her might. He returned it. It was everything they had to keep standing. They’ve only experienced that aura a few times before.

Kaito said nothing as he stared down Shiro. Not pleased, but not willing to scare little Seki any more than he already had, he growled, “Fine. What’s the next assignment?”

The Chief grinned, “Simple, you need to keep an eye on this rebellion that I’ve been hearing about. Our networks should be keeping us updated.”

Yori perked up at the mention of a network. “No, Yori.” He pouted immediately.

“Is there anything else you wish to discuss?” 

“Not with you,” Kaito said, but turned to Hiroki, “but with you.”

Hiroki looked unsurprised and turned to Big Brother. Shiro shrugged before leaning against the wall. “Go ahead?”

“What can I do for you, Chief?” He signed as Seki moved to allow him full mobility to talk.

“What did you think of the 567th class?” Kaito’s stare burned with an intensity that Hiroki met smoothly.

“As a whole…or specific cadets…like your younger brother, Yuito?” Hiroki asked, gaining some footing.

“Not just my foolish brother, but those that were with him,” he replied.

“What do you stand to gain?” Hiroki cut right through the bullshit. “Either tell me what you want or we have nothing to discuss, Chief.”

Shiro hid his instinctual action to grin. the young pupil learns well. Kohana idly played with her fingers holding her reaction well. Ryo and Miya separated their hands, shaking the pain out of them. They both have strong grips. Seki was paying super duper close attention to the Chief.

“What are your first impressions of the four you met?”

Honestly, that was not the direction Hiroki thought that it was going to go. “Each one has their strengths and weakness, as does everyone. The Randall siblings have synergy, and your brother is no slack, despite what you think about him. Tell me, have you ever given him a chance, or have you written him off as a disgrace to the Sumeragi name?”

“What Yuito does is his own path.”

“That doesn’t answer my question. Do you or don’t you see him as a disgrace? I see a guy trying to do what he can given the little he’s got,” obvious irony aside, it does make a lot of sense. Yuito rushed headlong into the fight, despite knowing that he wasn’t allowed to. That’s what Hiroki saw. “Both Randall girls have good heads on their shoulders. Whoever their platoon leaders are, they’ll be happy to have competent recruits.”

“I see we are of the same mind, and as for your inquiry, no, I don’t see my brother as a disgrace,” Kaito relieved Hiroki, but that went away as he said, “I see a wasted opportunity. Instead of being in the OSF, he could have been a politician.”

“Permission to speak, Big Brother?” Miya asked.

“Freely or Nah?” Shiro questioned.

The woman locked eyes with Kaito before speaking, “Freely.”

“Granted.”

Miya allowed herself a faint smile before letting out how she truly felt about the Chief's desire, “That’s fucking stupid.”

Everyone looked at the normally stoic woman in surprise, "You never swear so brazenly like that."

"Because what he wants for his brother is bordering on controlling," Miya countered before falling silent again. Kaito brushed her off. No one knew what he was thinking, but the smallest twitch of his lips could be seen.

Yori looked over to the door, furrowing his brow, "We have company, Shiro."

"Thanks, Yori. Hoods up," Big Brother ordered.

Seki perked, "Aww...but I want to see Hiroki's face when-"

{To be or not to be, Seki. What will it be?} Hiroki asked as he pulled his hood up, leaving only his navy-colored eyes visible. It looks a little weird to see seven people with their hoods up, only seeing eyes. They look like a cult or something.

The conversation goes well, save for Hiroki's hood slightly falling down, and having to readjust. Seki almost spilled the beans on his recently revealed crush. Besides the four eventually being told to leave and not speak of this, nothing else happened.

Once they left, "What are our orders, for clarification?"

Kaito sat in his chair and sighed, "You may redeploy to your previous mission if you so choose. Your secondary mission is as I told you before." With that, Shiro Platoon left the room. Hiroki left the room last but paused at the door.

{I'll be at point Bravo before meeting up,} he sent to the platoon before activating his power to check something. He walked through the halls before silently turning the corner. Kasane was there, waiting. She didn't see him.

He walked right behind her, making sure his hood was up, before deactivating his power. He forced open a Brain Talk, {Stalking is not a good look for you.} Kasane reacted, as any soldier would, and tried to turn. Using his power again, he grabbed her wrist and pinned her to the wall, an elbow over her throat. In short, a wall slam. {What are you after? You and I are the only ones here.}

{Your Platoon isn't in the system, how am I supposed to trust you?}

His shoulders were shaking before he let go. His eyes held mirth in them before leaning on the opposite wall. {I'm sorry, but that's hilarious.} Hiroki deactivated his power before straightening up, giving off an aura that made Kasane's blood turn to ice. {Here's the thing...you can't.}

"What?" Kasane asked, her blood-red eyes trying to act defiant, but she was literally shaking.

He approached her, and he was just a little bit taller than her, around five inches. His navy eyes bore a hole in her skull. {You heard me.} Manipulating sound, a faint cut appeared across her cheek. {We aren't to be trusted. We may be OSF, but we are leagues above you. I say this with confidence, not arrogance. Now get going, your sister is most likely worried.}

With that, Hiroki turned around and walked down the hall. Seconds after he turned the corner, she tried to chase, but he wasn't there, and this hallway didn't have any doors. Giving up, leaning against the wall, her face felt warm…

Did I...like that stare? No, Kasane. You need to focus on worrying about Naomi, not him. She convinced herself mentally that it worked, but her heart was willing to refute that claim.

 


 

"Thanks for the save," Hiroki said to Kohana, who had trailed him. They were currently in a back alley hotel, or point Bravo. They have multiple designated points in New Himuka and beyond, and it just depends on the area. He finally decided to take a shower after weeks, so he shed most of his outfit, except the shirt and pants.

"Yeah, nothing major. Yori figured that she was waiting around. You just found her first. Shiro told me to follow, plus I couldn't just leave you alone with your crush, who knew what kind of steamy and lewd things you could have gotten up to? That wall slam even made me swoon," Kohana said, adding dramatic flare.

Shit, did I wall slam her? That only happens when… Hiroki flushed and his face was on display. Kohana just rolled her eyes. "I didn't mean anything by it!"

"Sure, you just restrained her forcefully against the wall. Who knows what she's into? Maybe I should find o-" A low growl left Hiroki's throat without meaning to... then he paled. Kohana shrugged it off though. The ringing wasn't as loud. "Possessive, are we?"

He didn't respond, but the shower turning on implied that he wasn't going to listen. Kohana smiled softly. It's been a while since I've seen him so hung up on someone. Normally, when I tease him, he brushes me off when I say I'll find out, but for Kasane, he jumped in immediately. The scout smiled, now I have to see if she's able to gain his attention, which shouldn't be hard. She's already got it, but with our situations, it's likely impossible.

Kohana sat down in the accent chair of the room, and while passable for staying the night, they still had...six hours of downtime, the most in...a few years, if the scout recalls correctly. She let out a yawn and before she knew it, she fell asleep.

When she woke again, she heard rustling...squirming...and little whimpers of pain. Sitting up from the bed, wait...when did I get here? Looking to her right, she saw Hiroki thrashing, his hand subconsciously reaching out for something. Her instincts kicked in and she joined him on the bed. She gently, yet forcefully, curled herself around him, whispering words of comfort. Some might think perverse things if anyone saw the scene, but they would question if it was really Kohana. "Shh, Hirochi, I'm here, you're fine, just wake up."

He continued to thrash in her grip. It hurt to see him like this. After all, no one else knows about them. He begged and pleaded with her to keep it a secret. He already feels like a burden on the team. If it wasn't obvious, Kohana was his confidante and vice versa. She flirts with him because it's her way of showing she has his back, however, as much as she would love to have his back in her bed, she knew there was a time and a place. 

This wasn't either.

Hiroki also sees the true nature of Kohana and the reason she acts the way she does. After that, it could happen to anyone. It's just a shame it happened to her.

After a few minutes, he paused, whispering, "No."

Kohana bared through it. His mask wasn't on, so it was impossible to suppress these sounds. Normally that mask muffles all but his words. Without it...it's a little annoying. His eyes fluttered open, feeling warm, and comfortable.

"Finally awake, are you?" A soft voice brushed over his ear. Wide-eyed, he tried to escape, but he was held down. "Relax, I'm not trying to sleep with you. I'm trying to help you get over your nightmare. Do you want to talk about it?" Hiroki shook his head.

She expected as such, she wants him to trust her. He does on the battlefield, against Others, against other combatants, but he won't open up. "What time is it?"

Kohana turned, "2025, we have time."

He shifted in her grasp, facing her, seafoam meeting navy. "Can I...we...cuddle?"

The soft smile was rare from her, "Sure, come here…" She shoved his face into her chest, making him using her as a pillow. He's really not fighting me on this...at least he can trust me. Don't worry, hopefully, one day these nightmares can go away...

The two of them stayed like that before they had to go, and Kohana noted how much softer his eyes got when looking at her...Now all she had to do was get him into bed for more than cuddling…

I really do have a problem, don't I, Ayame?

 


 

Right after leaving the Chief's office, they all noticed Hiroki and Kohana have left. Out of everyone, Shiro had this melancholic look on his face, something that Yori picked up immediately. "Are you ever going to tell him?"

His low voice brought attention to them, Seki and Miya shared a look of confusion. What could Yori be talking about this time? Ryo seemed to know and grimaced, but made no motion to speak up. The burly-bearded man just let Shiro continue walking, "Nope. Not even till the day I die."

"That's unfair to him," Yori said, catching up to him and clamping a hand on his shoulder, a heavy hand. "He of all people needs to know."

So this was about him? Not many 'hims' around. "Is this about onii-san?" Seki asked.

Her voice got Shiro to stop, "Yes." Miya looked to Ryo who just nodded with his eyes. So, it wasn't a lie.

"Shiro, what could it be? Surely, it's not bad, but your eyes say it's personal rather than concerning us. Which leads me to this, Yori, how do you know?" Sparks flew through his hands in a non-threatening manner. "Changes?" He nodded.

"Onii-sama, what are you hiding something from onii-san?"

"To save him from a pain that I wish on nobody. He’s already recovered, no need to aggravate the wound. Just like my power…" Shiro said with sorrow. The rest of the platoon present nodded in sympathy. He knew that it was something that he doesn't even want forgiveness for.

Seki immediately clambered up his legs, climbing up the tallest man's body. As a result, the little girl rested on his shoulders, grabbing his cheeks, "I need onii-sama to smile! If you aren't, then I'll make you!" Her childish voice made Shiro smile at her antics, oh Seki, you've come so far.

This brought chuckles out of everyone present, leave it to Seki to take a serious situation and diffuse it. "Alright alright, I'll tell you one day, but for now, we have places to be and operations to be ready for. 2300, not a minute later."

"Yes, sir!" they saluted and all went their separate ways. Only Shiro and Ryo traveled the same path to a room, specifically made, and only eight people know about it. Kaito being one, and the platoon making eight.

Once they entered, Shiro took off his weapon, an old-fashioned revolver, looking far beyond its time, but the rounds that it fired far passed the safety regulations of the OSF. Thankfully, they weren't 'regulars' in the OSF, they were something else entirely...

Ryo didn't want to bring it up, "You still thinking about it?"

"No."

"When you found out-"

"Shut up."

"-about Hiroki's-" Ryo paused, and not because of the aura, no. It was Shiro, using his power. Everything stopped for Ryo, and that was meant literally. It was debilitating, feeling his entire body cease all motion but still being able to breathe.

"I said shut up, drop it. He won't know because I refuse to be the one to talk about it," Shiro snarled, before dropping his power. Ryo sucked in a few large breaths but remained standing. "...Sorry, I just…"

"I understand...but it seems fair that he should at least know before something ever happens. It's been weighing on you recently. Your eyes have been duller than normally. Seki and Hiroki are really the only things keeping you afloat," Ryo said softly, before backing out of the room. "We're your platoon, Shiro...you can rely on us. That, and I still have you as eye candy, remember that," he added as a tease.

Shiro snorted, "Get the hell outta here, message Hiroki and Kohana, let them know our previous mission is reinstated. If they ask, tell them that I said so. Kaito can suck it."

"Glad to have you back, sir…" Ryo said before leaving.

Once he confirmed he was alone, he pulled out a photo, and there were a multitude of figures in it, over a dozen, there were tear stains on this photo. It signified its time. "When you find out, you'll forgive me…right?"

Silence was his answer.

 


 

Rally Point Hotel was literally just another Safe Zone in New Himuka, on the outskirts. They needed to head to a town named Luton, south of Togetsu, to exterminate a rogue group of OSF agents. They rejected everything about it, presumably having found out about something.

The answer was obvious.

Hiroki and Kohana arrived, with the latter's arm over the former's shoulder. "Evening everyone!" 

"Hello," Hiroki said, feeling much more relaxed than hours ago. Being with Kohana's soft side helped.

"Onii-san, you didn't break a rule, did you?" Seki asked, looking up at him with big puppy eyes.

Kohana answered for him, in a softer tone, "Seki, you know as much as I flirt with Hirochi here, he will turn me down every time."

"She has a point. I don't ever want to break a rule," he said. The last time he did, he craved death.

Seki beamed, "Good! Now, let's go explode some people!"

The Sonokinesis user rolled his eyes, {Seems like Seki is in a great mood.}

"Yep, and it'll only get better over the course of the day. Are we all ready?" Shiro said, making his entrance, scouring over his platoon. Miya was leaning on a pillar, her hood up. She was definitely ready. She had business with someone out in Luton. She planned on finishing it once and for all.

Yori was also ready, making a ball of lightning flash between his hands, even going as far as tossing it up to balancing it on his nose. Since the man was basically shock-proof, he could do it with no problem.

Seki was dancing on the balls of her feet, humming a nursery rhyme Shiro had taught her. She always goes with them because she trusts no one in New Himuka, Suoh, or Seiran, and especially Togetsu. That place gave her the heebie-jeebies.

Ryo was limbering up, getting ready for the trek. They knew it would take a couple days, but this time, they were ready.

Kohana dropped her flirtatious persona to bring up information on the mission, "Alright, we have six targets of this platoon we're after. They have two Pyros, an Aero, a Hydro, and a Psychokinesis user. The Hydro is our main worry. Battery, you have that one?" The man's features turned feral as he nodded. "Banshee and I will take the Pyros. Rocky, take the Psycho, your power is a great counter."

"Understood, Lilly," Rocky replied.

"Hard Place, Big Brother, any objections on you getting the wannabe Avatar?" Lilly asked. "They've been reported to be the most dangerous of the bunch."

"We've got it, Lilly," Big Brother replied. "Echo, you're on overwatch. Warn us of any threats."

"Yes, Onii-sama!" Echo replied with a cute salute.

"Alright, let's go," Big Brother said, walking away. "Make your way there however you can, meet at Charlie upon arrival, the back up is point Yankee, clear?"

{Sir!} they all replied.

With that, they all departed at their leisure. As they left, one person watched them slip out. Her eyes tracked their movement until they all disappeared.

The spectator watched until she got a message. It had no sender, but the words were familiar as she read them aloud. "'I told you that stalking wasn't a good look for you.' Hmph, just who are you, Banshee?"

Shiro Platoon was recognized as such, but that name they are solemnly known as…

...Will-o'-the-Wisps. 5

Chapter Text

No matter how many times that they make the trek out to the mountains, it never gets any easier to walk through it. No one complained, however. They learned after the first time. So, that's why the entirety of Shiro Platoon was dressed warmly as they traveled through the mountain range that housed Togetsu. Hieno Mountain Pass, covered in ice and weird statues that decorate the path. The statues were made because of Others in the area.

Seki was bundled up the most, almost swaddled like a baby. Her thinner disposition made it easier to succumb to hypothermia and frostbite. She was currently on Yori's shoulders where she was constantly on the lookout. Since Yori was being the glorified horse, he was using his power to extend Seki's own power. She was looking for Others and possibly Togetsu spies who thought they were clever.

Shiro has heard of a term called 'Design Children' and he refuses to enter that place. He didn't like the sound of that. Miya and Ryo were walking close together and found the silence between them comfortable.

Oh, there seems to be a few people missing…

The fact is, the group of seven has separated. Seki, Yori, Miya, and Ryo are all together in one group. Shiro, Hiroki, and Kohana are in another. They decided that if they all arrived in Luton together, it would draw suspicion as they know OSF groups are either six or seven. Lower numbers mean less of a chance of being caught.

Luton itself resided at the base of the mountain. However, the only way to get there 'reliably' was by going over the mountain. Any air vehicle would have to fly a bit close for comfort near the Extinction Belt. If anything, Seki can keep in contact with the rest of the Platoon, even if it's only one way. It's just a giant game of telephone.

"Are we there yet?" Seki asked, like a child...oh wait.

Miya's voice held a slight ounce of irritation, "No, now stop asking." The swaddled pinkette did so. "When we arrive, prepare for anything and move to point Charlie. From there we can discuss further strategy."

Yori nodded, "I sense hostility...and it's not directed at us…" He was looking pointedly at Miya. The normally stoic woman bristled.

Ryo interjected like the peacekeeper that he was. He never liked when there was infighting in a platoon. Funnily enough, some platoons thrive off of it. A miniature competition they call it. "Now now, let's not fall apart, we've been through a lot up to this point."

Miya sighed, feeling the tension in her body slack slightly, "Luton used to be my home." Clearly, this surprised everyone present, except Seki. Miya already had a feeling that she knew. "Seki…"

The girl tried to play innocent, but that wasn't flying here, "I knew, Miya-san, yes…b-but I never mentioned it because of the way your mood would drop. I knew of…"

"Not. Another. Word," Miya punctuated. She was clearly upset. Yori shivered at the change in energy in the air. A storm was surrounding Miya, and the toned woman was just waiting for a target for her building rage. Ryo subtly gave her a wide berth.

The bald man then recalled something about the mission briefing, "Didn't Kohana say how many targets we're after?"

The young girl recalled it as well, "Yes, Ryo-san, she said six but only listed five."

"The sixth being the operator, right?" Ryo inquired, making sure his facts were correct. Misinformation was a deadly weapon if used against a person. There have been some sticky situations when they were put into places where the information provided was faulty.

They quickly turned it around on the employers. Their very lives sufficed well. No one crosses the Will-o'-the-Wisps and lived to tell about it. The Wisps worked like this, if the information is faulty, they kill the employer. If the target can provide better information and counter with evidence, they will go for the employer. A real mercenary group kind of thing. Them being black ops—while wearing white, ironically—made them perfect for certain situations. This group was well-trained, honed by their very leader. Why do you think he comes out from their spars with a broken bone, at worst?

Shiro takes being a leader seriously, and all four of them know it. They each have their own story of getting into the Platoon. Some have it easier than others. Seki was off in her own world, at least until she reached out to Big Brother. {Nii-sama, we're coming up on Luton, we'll meet in approximately...ten minutes at point Charlie.} "I have updated Onii-sama, not that he can reply, but we should be nearing the end of the trail.” The reason why he couldn’t respond was that Seki was not connected to Psynet. They would be able to be tracked that way, something that can not be allowed.

Surveillance in Suoh is so invasive that none of them feel comfortable living there. They often head to one of their designated points to hide in. Their hideout is located somewhere outside New Himuka.

The last three days have been trouble enough. The group did fight a lot of Others, no major ones, but enough to wear out a platoon if they chose to come through here. It wasn’t enough to make them tired, just annoyed. Ryo was happy to flex his power since it involves something special. It often gets confused with Psychokinesis, it’s easier to explain when it’s put in action.

The snow that piled on everyone’s shoulders was almost bothersome but the experience of running through here multiple times made it easy.

Passing over a small hill, the independent town of Luton was in view. Within that small place were their targets and they would pay with their lives. For Miya, it contained so much more than just her target, it contained her home, her past, and all the emotions that have since been bottled up.

She still remembers the day she ran away like it was yesterday. Twenty years have passed since then. The deep-seated scar was about to be opened crudely and violently.

 


 

Meanwhile, with the other three of Shiro Platoon, they were already there or at least closer than the other half of the Platoon. Shiro knew a shortcut or two through the mountain and it mitigated having to go close to Togetsu. The best part was avoiding Others, not a single one was seen. “You mind telling me why I’m dressed like this?”

“For once, I also would like an explanation, Dad,” Kohana demanded, stressing the paternal term.

Shiro just grinned at the two children before him. None of them were wearing their standard OSF Battle Outfits. Instead, they were wearing casual clothes. It’s been so long since the two children were wearing stuff like this, it felt far too foreign. “Simply put, we’re going on a vacation to Luton because your mothers wanted to pawn you off to me.”

The temperatures were higher than being in the mountain, hence why they aren’t bundled up. It made maneuvering easier.

The Platoon leader may have explained the plan but that did not explain why Hiroki was wearing a long sleeve shirt and casual jeans, and why Kohana was wearing a very frilly skirt and flats. That skirt just emphasized her bust size, so no doubt that she would be hit on. The one thing that Hiroki noticed was the fact that the skirt matched her eyes. “So, this is your plan?”

“If it works, why change it? Come on, son, you know you could wear this once your term is up,” Shiro said, not exactly answering but it gave Hiroki the cue to just play along.

“So what does that have to do with me?” Kohana asked, idly messing with the ends of her skirt. She found herself liking it, and she does wear them normally, but they made her feel…girly. Like a normal girl for once. It reminded her of a simpler time. However, she snapped out of her reverie at Shiro’s declaration.

“Simple, you’re the brocon to him, since all you want to do is fuck him,” Shiro said bluntly. That statement made Kohana grin wickedly and Hiroki created as much space as possible. “Oh, and try not to use your power, it’ll attract attention.”

Hiroki’s face was exposed since his mask would cause problems, so he had to fume silently. This was not going to be a fun time. Kohana took to her role seriously—as if she didn't already—and latched herself to Hiroki, putting his arm in between the valley of her breasts.

“Well, step-bro, do you want to explore the beach later? I brought my favorite swimsuit~,” she purred sensually.

The navy blue gaze of Hiroki flicked over to Shiro pleadingly, which didn’t help because he was busy trying to not bust his gut. “Ha, wow, didn’t expect that she would take the brocon role so eagerly.”

“It’s Kohana, she lives to flirt with me. Stop encouraging her!”

A small giggle, “Not always. What do you think if you saw Kasane in her swimsuit…” she leaned up to his ear, licking the lower lobe before blowing on it, “her thighs on display, soaking up the sun, just begging for attention. I could imagine a nice red two-piece, one that barely covers her supple chest and she would ask for you to put lotion on-“

Hiroki hated to admit it, but that was a sight he’d like to see. Then he realized who he was talking to and shoved her off him. Kohana took no offense if her lecherous smirk was anything to go by. Could I simp any harder? He had to force himself to not think about it. She’s sixteen…that gap is what worries me, even if I was her age I still wouldn’t approach…why am I so inept at emotions…

Shiro had to act as the parent now, “Now now children, behave.”

There was something else about Luton that everyone has failed to mention. Despite it being at the base of Hieno Mountain, it was not snowed-in like Togetsu. In fact, it was a beach resort, a tourist town. It’s one of those long trips that take weeks to prepare. Hence why the trio was dressed in casual attire. It wasn’t exactly beach attire but close enough to not draw suspicion.

Shiro even went for the ‘Dad outfit’ for this with a pair of board shorts, flip flops, and one of those decorative shirts that had the flowers on them. Of course, it matched the guy’s hair. Paired with sunglasses and that obnoxious sunscreen on his nose, he looked ridiculous.

Luton is far from defenseless though, if Others do ever appear, then the citizens head into underground bunkers, developed by a certain violette’s family, that can withstand Other attacks and barrages. Battle-tested and approved.

Shiro saw the look of amusement from Kohana and the look of slight disdain from Hiroki but they both snapped to attention when he looked at them, “What I am about to tell you is known by only me, Seki, and Miya.”

Anything about their squadmates was enough to stop the squabbling. “What is it?”

“Miya’s family has an operation inside Luton, as it was the place where she grew up before heading to Suoh, and being scouted to the OSF. Imamura Armaments, the family company, is located here. It is one of the most secure places besides Suoh or Seiran. They work with Randall Industries on certain projects and this rogue team has been reported to be here. The reason why they don’t publically announce this stuff is that they’re supposed to be rivals in the business.”

Kasane’s family company…well, she’s adopted into the family…but still. Hiroki thought back to meeting her. She’s definitely stoic and hard to approach. The only one she’s close to is Naomi. Which leads me to ask, how much do they actually know of the company? They won’t know much if they were scouted into the OSF like they were.

Then there’s Miya’s family company. What does this have to do with it, and…why haven’t I heard of it until now?

Kohana saw Hiroki thinking, so she skipped up next to Shiro, “So besides that, is this rogue squad part of our organization or a sister organization?” To clarify, they were pulled away before they could start searching.

By this, she means if they are stationed from Japan’s OSF branch or an international branch, like Russia, or the British Isles. Hiroki was curious too but he let the conversation roll. This pathway was something he didn’t even know existed. It’s why he always goes with Shiro when it comes to these types of missions. He always seems to know where he’s going.

“A mixture actually, so while this squad isn’t as deadly as other squads, they know how to put aside their differences when it comes to a common enemy,” Shiro explained.

“So when we get there, we’ll meet up from there, or are we scouting? Is that why you had us tag along?” Hiroki asked.

Once the navy blue-haired soldier saw the small pitying look in his eyes, he tensed. “So, in order for me to sneak in and do what I need to do to prepare…you need to make a small distraction.”

“What kind of distraction?”

“The public kind. Kohana, you’ll get to enact a fantasy…” Shiro said, trailing off when Hiroki paled. “Sorry, kiddo, but it’s nothing major. To make you feel better, you won’t have to get undressed.”

The silent one gaped at Shiro, “That doesn’t exactly make it better.”

“It wasn’t supposed to…” he muttered. “Kohana, basically, you’ll be feeling him up the entire time, and Hiroki, you just have to let it happen.”

The seafoam girl giggled, “I finally get to feel his package? I know he’s-”

Big Brother grimaced, “Just don’t put it that way, I don’t wanna know another man’s dick size.”

Banshee felt betrayed, “Not another word to the rest of the Platoon…I’ll jump off a cliff if you do.”

Hiroki soon felt an arm wrap around his neck from behind and two fleshy mounds press into his back, stopping his stride. “Don’t worry Hirochi! Your step-sister will take good care of you! I promise~,” Her free arm wrapped around his front and cupped his front, making him tense. The pleased sound Kohana made did not help.

The glare that Hiroki was leveling at Shiro was enough to make the leader consider getting him a gift later. Right now, it was just funny to watch him squirm. 

 


 

Entering Luton was easy, as it’s more of an open-door policy. The entire time, Kohana had a hand on Hirochi’s ass. She squeezed every so often to let him tense. She had to admit, he has great glute muscles.

It pissed him off to no end. His hands twitched like he was about to throw her and he would…if not for the fact that people were already looking at them weirdly. They were used to it…as much as they can be. They don’t talk to many people.

Again, this platoon is a non-existent squad. They don’t ‘officially’ have any records and they ‘officially’ are not psionics with the OSF. They just…have access to SAS when they shouldn’t. There is no harm done…right?

Opening up a Brain Talk with Kohana, {Could you at least pretend that you’re not enjoying this?}

Kohana fought to keep a smirk off her face, {Nope, this is about the only time I get to touch you without the threat of being deaf. At least my hands are not in your pants, which is where I-}

{Do not finish that sentence. I don’t know why you have this infatuation to sleep with me…} Hiroki trailed off as Kohana was regarding him seriously, her hands at her sides.

She narrowed her eyes, {Do you honestly know how attractive you are?} A confused eyebrow was her response. “Seriously,” she muttered under her breath, “dealing with a blockhead here.”

{Said blockhead has ears, you know the rule about dating…}

Kohana leaned her head on his shoulder, whispering, “Friends with benefits sounds good, and that isn’t against the rules…”

A sound argument to most but Hiroki is not most, “If I commit to someone, it’s all the way, I couldn’t do that to you, please understand that I am not ready to engage in a relationship.”

The shadow jumper signed back, “Do you want to die a virgin?”

“I’m actually not one,” Hiroki admitted after a moment of silence. “It was a long time ago, and if anything, it was a mistake. She’s dead now…has been for eighteen years. It was before the OSF.”

Kohana didn’t have an argument for this. She let the issue drop and threw an arm over his shoulder, “Sorry for prodding,” then a grin, “Come on then, the beach is waiting~!”

Hiroki knew she was hiding something behind her seafoam eyes. She looked like he did when he looked in a mirror.

Scared of her inner demons.

Shiro Platoon is a cherry bunch.

 


 

Speaking of Shiro, while the two flirt machines were busy, he slipped away into the shadows—to only one person is his better—looking for something specific. The lead he received beforehand was going to come in handy.

Major General Fubuki had let something ‘slip’ that their targets were operating in the northern sector of Luton. It was by the residential hotels. There were a lot of potential crimes that could be had here. Even with the advanced technology, it was a struggle to see that even with all the preventative measures, there is always someone that can find a way to exploit the system.

The best part of this, Shiro was acting like a natural tourist. He even asked for directions to make sure that he was heading in the right 'direction.’ The leader continued along until he heard a voice that sounded less than desirable.

“Are you sure that you weren’t followed?” Well, that’s a mighty specific thing to say in a place that could be considered a safe haven. Shiro grinned, these were most likely their targets. Sure, he could just go in, kill them, and be on his way. However, he had questions that needed to be answered.

“We are in a secure location where you can blend in with anyone, no one will notice us having a cup of coffee,” a second voice said, feminine this time.

“So what about our benefactor?” The first asked.

“Rumor is that she has come back, her ID pinged on the front gate. I thought she was dead,” the second said. Shiro furrowed his brow, he didn’t like this implication.

A small shred of silence passed, if he had to guess, they were getting served food. They did mention it was a coffee shop. “So we have to eliminate her?” There must have been a nod, “A shame too, she’s quite the looker.”

“Aren’t you questioning why the head of the family is targeting her?”

“It’s a job, we do it, get paid, and move on.”

Shiro heard enough and marked this location mentally before sending a message to his platoon telling them to move to Point Mike. This would bring them far enough away where they would be safe from prying eyes but close enough to act if the time came. “These guys are making it easy, but I cannot underestimate them.”

The leader slipped away under the guise of getting lost looking for the beach. His full excuse was that he was directionally impaired and gets them confused easily.

 


 

It was around mid-afternoon that Yori, Miya, Ryo, and little Seki came upon a sight. Their arrival into Luton was nothing short of amusing. Hiroki and Kohana were together, unsurprisingly. However, it was the contact that had them snickering.

The two were napping on a bench outside of a hotel, which is where they went for Point Mike. Ironically enough, it was called Mike’s Potel. Potel being a mix of ‘pub’ and ‘hotel’ and that was the lower end of the stick. This place was actually pretty nice.

Seki was out of her swaddled padding and was in a long frilly skirt that descended down to her tiny ankles. She was wearing strapped sandals that wrapped up to her shins. Of course, the dress was light pink with a small touch of red. Her hair was wrapped in a very nice braid that was off to the left.

Yori still wore his cloak over his left shoulder, but it did match his casual outfit. He and Hiroki often had the same fashion sense, which was basic as all hell. It worked for them, and again, they can give two shits about what other people think. The long-sleeve tee and jeans worked well for him. They were of lighter colors, in contrast to his skin.

Ryo ended up wearing a sleeveless green tee and black swim shorts that did get some of the observers, of which there were many women, ogling him. He made the joke that he was batting for the other team, and the women looked saddened. The burly gay man heard them, "Why are all the hot ones gay?" He chuckled at hearing that. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last.

“Why is Kohana-chan touching Nii-san like that?” Seki asked, pointing to them. The three remaining members shared a panicked look. Kohana’s hand rested right in between Hiroki’s legs. It didn’t help that she was flexing her fingers unconsciously.

{You say anything about this, you are all going deaf,} they heard Hiroki’s voice in their brains. Seki latched to his open side, and he ruffled her pink hair, hearing the small giggle she released.

“You’re awake?” Ryo mused softly, so no one overheard.

A navy blue eye cracked open, {You think you're silent but my power allows me to sound you out, despite the fact you think your footsteps are silent. I memorized your walking patterns. As for Kohana, she’s actually asleep and…I can’t exactly move her.}

Miya, who hid her hair in a sunbonnet and covered her eyes with sunglasses, raised a violet eyebrow, “Oh? And why’s that?”

“My orders,” a new voice said, the group turned to see Shiro approaching with a casual swagger. “I may have let little shadow jumper here indulge in something.” Understanding that the three elder members grimaced while shooting a look of pity to Hiroki.

“Nii-sama!” Seki cheered, crashing right into Shiro’s legs. The leader picked her up and held her in his arms, “Why is Kohana-chan touching Nii-san like that?”

The man named Shiro had an excuse for this, “Because Kohana likes being close to Hiroki like that. He normally never allows her to be like this, but this is for the mission.”

“Okay!” Seki accepted it easily. If it was for the mission, then there was a reason behind it.

“Speaking of, Miya, I have reason to believe that they know you’re here,” Shiro said seriously. Kohana perked up slightly, and her attention was fully needed.

Her eyebrows formed a frown. "I'm quite surprised that they haven't tried to apprehend me."

"They were plotting to kill you," Shiro said, and he smiled in satisfaction that everyone's eyes sharpened and narrowed. None more so than Seki, surprisingly. The young girl was now in her 'Echo' mode. She had asked for all the information that he has and he gave it.

Kohana leaned off of Hiroki and went to Shiro, "Should we move somewhere private?"

"Hiroki, you got the rooms?" He nodded before standing up, watching what Kohana would do. "Alright, let's go."

 


 

Once they all got settled and soundproofed their rooms because one can never be too careful. Miya explained her past, "I was born here, the second daughter to the Imamura name. My elder brother—Chikao—and elder sister—Ruqa—are only a few years older than me. My younger brother, Jiro, is the only one I even cared for in my family." the normally stoic woman gained a soft tone as she mentioned Jiro.

“So, what happened?” Kohana asked. “Do I need to kill them in their sleep?”

Miya snorted, “I considered it. And given the fact that I was raised to only be sold off to some rich noble like it was the 17th century all over again, I wanted to. So, I found a way to protect myself and learn a few tricks. My Sensei was well-versed in the art of assassination.”

{I’m sensing a ‘but’ in this,} Hiroki interjected. He was paying attention but he was constantly feeling the sounds around him. He wasn’t ordered to do it but it was just a natural thing for him to do.

“But as it turns out, he was my husband-to-be,” that little bomb made the group grow wide-eyed. “Then once my family figured out that he was the one helping me, they killed him,” she finished, her mood back to serious. “So, using those arts, I faked my death. Apparently, they must not have believed me. I would not make a great wife.”

“Wishful thinking,” Shiro said, shattering the illusion. “I think I would have made a great husband.”

Ryo raised an eyebrow, “Really?”

“He’s full of sh-I mean poop,” Miya denied firmly, censoring herself for Seki. Yori was looking at Shiro in bewilderment.

Kohana grinned, “Sounds like a quick denial, was there something spicy between you two?”

Shiro chuckled, “No, there wasn’t. I was also not her fiancé, but I think I knew the poor guy who was.” The glare Miya leveled at him was enough to get him to back down. “Anyway, as much as I want to continue this, let’s get back on track…”

Hiroki was much more alert. He heard footsteps, silent footsteps. Multiple pairs of silent footsteps. {Bogeys on approach. Lilly, get Hard Place to safety. She’s now the VIP.}

Even though he was not the leader, when it came to ambushes, they usually failed because Banshee would hear them coming. “Quick question, because I’m so forgetful,” Shiro said, “Aren’t there six days in a week?”

“What drug are you on and can I have some?” Lilly asked, knowing that it was a subtle ask.

{I’ve counted five, Echo, can you confirm?} Banshee said, checking his wrists nonchalantly.

Seki, well, Echo was quick on the uptake, “What’s this drug you’re talking about, you might be five brain cells short.”

Rocky chimed in, “We’re sharing them anyway.” Battery nodded in excitement. He felt the charge in the air. People were bristling with excitement.

That meant the number was accurate, there were five unidentified hostiles outside the room. Location-wise three at the door, and two at the window. They were also connected through SAS, and they used that to confirm. Sure, seeing the connections right now was weird and someone would comment on it but it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.

“That could’ve been worded better, dude,” Big Brother said as he received a private message from Banshee.

Banshee looked to Big Brother, {I hate to ask but we may need you to use your power. I have a few questions for them.} A small stiff nod was his answer. {I'll tell you if we need it.}

At this point, Lilly already moved Hard Place to a secondary point, one of their choosing. They would meet up at a later time. This was a preventative measure in the unlikely event of capture. Can’t reveal where they are if you don’t know, yeah?

However, as the door was kicked open, the five remaining people acted naturally. Ryo and Yori were playing a game of Shogi, Shiro was reading on a terminal, and Hiroki and Seki were pretending to nap. Seki did wrap her arms about her onii-san to further the ruse. Except that part wasn’t a ruse, she just likes hugging him.

“Hello, is there a reason that you’ve kicked open our hotel room door?” Shiro asked, not bothering to look up. “Hope you know you’re paying for that and I was just about to go to the beach.”

The people in front of them were not standard OSF, if at all. However, they did bear a striking mark that was a company that a certain person despised with her very being. Even so, the similarities were striking. Slightly shorter than Shiro, around the same build as Miya, a little more so, and concerned violet eyes that made Hiroki take a peek, feigning waking up. “Sorry to disturb you, sir, we heard a report that someone near and dear to me was back, her ID was pinged at the front gate.” The suit he was wearing was not just any suit. A defensive suit that protected vitals, another invention of the Imamura family.

Ryo put down another piece on his side of the board, claiming a few of Yori’s pieces, “Who are you and was kicking in the door really necessary when knocking works just as well?”

“Ah, my horrible manners. My detail gets a little too jumpy. I was also in a hurry," the man said.

{At least he's honest,} Shiro said. Everyone agreed.

"I’m Jori Imamura, and I want to know where my sister is," It would have been a bombshell if not for the fact they knew who he was already.

“You have a sister?” Yori spoke up. Seki was hiding behind Hiroki, playing the innocent child.

The bodyguard that was with the now identified Jori, leaned forward and spoke, “Sir, you’re needed back at the office. We will look for her in your absence,” Shiro knew this voice. It was one of the ones he scouted as their target. The male, not the female. She might be one of the ones outside.

{They are just waiting outside, far window. No other movement,} Hiroki said, leaning back into the couch, picking up his terminal, and reading a book.

Jori turned to him, “Do I know you?” He looked strikingly similar to someone he used to know. It was also possible that it was one of those seven people in the world that look like another person.

He gestured to his throat and mimed zipping his lips, “Effectively mute, I apologize.”

Jori looked at Hiroki for a moment, confusion clear on his face. Shiro told him, “Accident when he was a kid, lost his voice, he doesn’t like to sign about it.”

Jiro flushed in slight embarrassment before excusing himself, but as they left, the bodyguard shot another look at Shiro, who pretended not to notice, instead going back to his terminal.

Once they left and repaired the door, which was actually easy, Shiro immediately told Seki to get a full Brain Talk going. Hiroki waited until the two at the window went away before joining. {Those were our targets, weren’t they?}

Shiro nodded while Yori fidgeted, {Some of them. They were plotting to kill Miya.}

The aforementioned woman’s voice came through, {Who was it?}

Ryo elected to answer, {That younger brother you mentioned. The thing is, he sounded like he had definitive proof that you were alive. He seemed desperate.}

They could hear the frustration of her voice, {They did something to him…he’d never confront me without clearing the area…what are they planning?}

{Don’t worry, Miya-san, that’s what we’re here to find out!} Seki’s optimism shines through and if the woman was here, she’d smile.

{So, when will we meet up?} Kohana asked, {because there seems to be a disturbance in the town square. I’ve jumped into people’s shadows and I’ve taken a closer look. They’re wanted posters. Miya, you didn’t tell me you were such a cutie. Not to mention you grew into quite the MILF.}

{Say anything else, I’ll put you in the coldest environment possible.}

Of course, Kohana doesn’t have a filter, so Seki had to ask, {Onii-sama, what’s a MILF?}

Yori burst out laughing, while Ryo and Hiroki shared a facepalm. {Smooth Kohana, just smooth.} Shiro, for once, didn’t have an answer.

The only excuse he had was to say, “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” A tertiary objective for the Platoon: Preserve Seki’s innocence.

Hiroki glanced back at his terminal to see a New Himukan article about two rising star cadets. They both took down a Major Other on their first mission. Oh? 2nd Lieutenant Kasane Randall…hmm. There is potential for her. Yuito Sumeragi…you also are quite the interesting one. I see you care very much for your friends. Good, sometimes you just need a shoulder to cry on if the need arises.

{So, when are we commencing the operation?} he finally asked Shiro.

{Oh, we already have. Once we identify who’s who, then we split and take out our targets.}

The Platoon agreed and began to discuss tactics further.

Chapter Text

Back in Suoh, a certain white-haired OSF agent was traveling down the road. Her sister was next to her, walking in comfortable silence. Even after dealing with that Major Other, she still was confused—and admittedly a little creeped out—that she received another message with no sender.

Congrats on your first assignment. This message was delayed for six hours after the fact. Not to mention the news articles congratulating you, so I would have sent one anyway. Now, spend time with your platoon, Kasane. No reply you send will be seen by me. Feel free to curse me out.

-H

It was a clue as to who he was, this Banshee. The new recruit finally heard her name being called, “Kasane? Are you alright? I’ve been calling your name for a few minutes now.”

Naomi’s concerned blue eyes met Kasane’s wide red eyes, “I’m sorry, Nee-chan, it’s just-“

“Is it because of them? You’re still thinking about him?” Naomi asked with a smile. Walking by a small cafe, the elder sister pulled the younger sister in and sat them down.

“Naomi, you don’t need to worry about me, I only just received a message from him saying congrats,” Kasane said, her tone sounded no different from how she normally talks but Naomi picked up the slight embarrassment.

The blonde giggled, “Well, I think it’s adorable that he sent you a message, maybe he likes you.”

Is that even possible? Naomi is the one who people usually chase after because of her kind nature, and then there’s Yuito. I still have to run a background check on him. “Impossible.”

“Aww come on, Kasane, I think it’s cute that my younger sister is getting an admirer. That means if something ever happens, they can watch over you,” Naomi said. 

But I don’t want anyone else to watch over me, Nee-chan. “Please don’t say things like that.”

The blonde just smiled, but this one wasn’t a full smile, “I can’t sugarcoat this, Kasane. The OSF is full of risks and we need to be prepared to take on every one of them.” She decides to shift the topic before she could respond. “So, it’s this Banshee?”

Flashes of her being pushed against the wall from their encounter came to mind. Strong, unyielding navy eyes staring back at her, in almost amusement before they hardened to what she expected to be as a veteran of the OSF. Those eyes have seen the fogs of war. She liked having that stare on her. Did it make her feel important or something else? A small dusting of color rose to her cheeks, and with Kasane’s pale complexion, it was noticeable.

“Aww, you’re blushing!” Kasane chose not to respond. “I think this is one of those few times where you’re acting your own age, Kasane. It’s my job as the older sister to protect you. I want to really meet this guy who's got you like this.”

“Nee-chan! Technically, we met him already,” Kasane covered her face with her hands. If Shiden saw this, he’d question if the girl he fought with was really Kasane. Uncovering her face, the blush has mostly dissipated, “Plus, the chances of meeting him again are slim. The fact that they wear white, unlike the rest of the OSF, is certainly strange.”

“Careful what you chose to speak about, Kasane,” a motherly voice responded to her left.

Looking up, ““Major Kyoka!””

The woman known as Kyoka Eden was close by. She was out early this morning, “I know you’re curious about them but it is best if you let that go. Who and what they are is classified information and that’s the extent of what I can tell you, girls. Should they tell you, then it’s on you to not repeat it.”

“You know who they are?” Kasane asked before Naomi could stop her.

Kyoka nodded, “I do, as it comes with being as high up in the OSF as I am. We are aware of things even if we don’t want to be.”

Kasane opened her messages again, looking at the recent one, “Then why am I getting messages from no sender?”

Kyoka looked over, with permission, “Hmm, he seems to have taken a liking to you. He hasn’t done that in forever, and here I thought she would be all over him.” He never really did reach out.

This information made both Randall girls raise their eyebrows, Naomi’s in interest and Kasane’s in disbelief. Yet, in her chest, she felt a burning emotion. Why do I feel this way? What are you doing to me? I have to focus on Naomi.

Both Kyoka and Naomi looked at Kasane clutching her chest—the girl herself didn’t notice—being lost in thought. While she wasn’t paying attention, Kyoka leaned over, “Has she expressed something like this before?”

“Never, and Kasane only opens up to me, and because she’s my sister, I have to see if this guy is right for her,” Naomi said knowing it was a lofty goal. It was a stance that Naomi wasn't going to give up on. She also...wanted to talk to Yuito again.

A giggle, “I wish you luck then. As for us, we’re on standby until further notice, so you can train or go on suppression missions at your leisure, and remember, you can’t refuse deployment orders. Haruka will inform you both. Be safe!” With that, Kyoka stood and headed off to HQ.

Kasane still was lost in thought even as Naomi made her walk down Vision City’s main road. The thing was, the younger sibling hasn't taken her hand off her chest. Then, her eyes widened as she came to a revelation. Upon being questioned, she stuttered and told Naomi—begged her—to not bring it up. Kasane didn't fully understand it herself and she almost didn't want to understand.

Naomi was so going to use this for as long as she's able to. It was pretty nice to see a different side to her sister.

 


 

Their discussion took over three hours. That three hours was well spent. They managed to map out the entire town and possible locations of their target. They all needed to focus.

“The pyros are most likely the guards. What’s worse is that since we now know that her brother is in play. Do you think he’s in on it?” Ryo asked.

{I don’t know, and I really hope not. I don’t want to kill my family…but I will if it means he’s too far gone into this mess,} Miya’s voice came through. No one missed the small shake in her voice, basically declaring to shed her own blood if the mission came down to it.

Kohana easily interjected, {You know one of us can-}

{No!} she shouted. {I have to do it.}

The five still in the room shared a look. They each looked to Shiro to see what his opinion was. They’ve each formed one, but it is ultimately up to him what happens. Now unless he says ‘Go nuts’ then they follow his orders to the letter.

Kill quickly and quietly? Done.

Kill only the target and make it look natural? Done. In some cases, this isn’t possible.

Leave no witnesses? Double Done.

It mattered not, every one of the Platoon has blood on their hands. Yes…even Seki. Thankfully, it’s only the one time.

The leader leaned against the couch, “That matters not, Miya. You follow orders, and if I decide to not allow you to approach him, then that’s final, understood?” Speaking aloud works just as well in a Brain Talk if he was concentrating on the Talk itself.

{Yes, sir.} she responded curtly, irritation coating the words.

“Though, if he approaches you and we confirm he is a part of it, then I see no problem if you have the opportunity,” Shiro said. Hiroki rolled his eyes, getting a look from the former.

Relief coated her tone. Kohana did say that her shoulders dropped to the floor at this, {Thank you.}

“Don’t thank me yet, we still need some more information on our targets. I believe that two of your brother’s guards are them. Then again, the information didn’t provide names but that’s the fun part. We get to do anything to get that information,” Shiro said.

A maddening cackle resounded through the Brain Talk. Hiroki sighed silently. He already knew who it was and what she planned on doing. {Okay~!} Hiroki prayed for the poor sap that got caught in her clutches. Which usually meant himself but, in this case, it was not.

“Did Kohana-chan forget to take her medicine?” Seki asked with a finger on her chin, her ‘super serious’ thinking face on.

A few chuckles escaped and the group ‘misheard’ the offended sound that Kohana made. {So, we’re scouting at this point? What if we have a prime time to move in on our targets?}

“Then take them, the opportunity won’t last forever. Sharpen your knives, everyone,” he grinned. “Operation Babydog has begun.”

Silence. Not a single person spoke. Not a single person moved. Shiro still had a grin on his face, but even he was holding back a snicker. The subtle biting of his lip was the only indicator.

Everyone immediately broke into a fit of laughs and giggles. Even Miya let out a breathy laugh. Ryo was slapping his knee. Yori was the first to crack and started cackling.

“Where do you get these names?” Hiroki inquired, his chest heaving to hold back the chuckles that wanted to escape. To be clear, this wasn’t the first time that Shiro named an operation something so fucking stupid that it got everyone to laugh. The fact he said it in such a serious tone made it even funnier. The last time they got to laugh this much is when they took down a Major Other hiding in South Mizuhagawa’s restrictive zone and he called it Flailing Otter...and the Other proved to be flailing alright.

Even if the name wasn’t funny it was just the serious undertone to the whole thing and then that comes out of his mouth.

“Some generators but I have come up with my own. This was one of them,” he replied with a wave of his hand.

“Nii-sama! You haven’t been in those again, have you?” Seki asked with a serious pout on her face.

“Sorry, imōto, but I have been. They were just too good to pass up!” He said with his hands on his hips, completely unapologetic.

Hiroki looked at the scene with a fondness of a father scolding a daughter for something inconsequential. At that moment, he felt a spike in his mind. He passed it off as the strain of his power. He had been using it to sound out other people, so it’s probably just over-usage.

What he missed was the veiled concerned glances from Shiro, Ryo, and Yori.

 


 

Once their scouting began, Kohana had a plan. It was genius. She knew that some of the targets were men or women who swing that way, and Kohana is pretty attractive with her alluring looks.

She acts trashy with her flirting because she knows no one will rise to it, even if Hirochi was looking at her in that skirt. This time, she changed out of that and into a sleek green dress that just covered past her bottom around her mid-thigh. What was even better, she had stockings that covered the rest of her. Paired with elegant earrings and a couple of rings, she looked like a noble’s daughter. In a beach town like Luton, Kohana looked like a diamond in the rough. There was the hook.

She also kept a few weapons under her belt, sleek, and almost form-fitting. Easily some of the best weapons that Kohana has ever seen.

Miya was against this plan in case it went wrong. A valid concern, but Kohana is no stranger to danger. She is the danger. In missions past, when it came to info gathering via seduction, Kohana was the number one choice. People are that horny, and it’s hard not to be when Kohana is quite the looker. She knew how to get under a target’s skin, get them to reveal things that they normally wouldn’t, all without being intrusive. Sure it sounds like conjecture, but she verifies the information over and over before making any moves.

One might be wondering why she’s dressed up like this, and that’s because there’s a celebration tonight. A Masquerade party. The setting? Imamura Manor. That was another shock. Then again, it makes sense. 

It was planned for a while before the Platoon showed up. It made for a great opportunity to get close to their targets, this rogue OSF squad. The six targets are here and they will be dealt with.

Miya wasn’t attending because of the way she stuck out; she always did have a more ‘operative’ aura about her. That and if she got recognized, then the entire operation was up in smoke.

Back to the shadow jumper, her mask was ornate with decorative flowers. If there were any florists around, they would be able to identify the poisonous flowers that adored the mask. All sweet and enticing, but deadly in her own right.

Shiro Platoon was aware that this could also be a trap. They assume that they never have an advantage in case they ever get surprised. It's saved them more than once. The last time they were caught unprepared, it almost cost Ryo his life. That was a long time ago.

In the here and now, Kohana's date should be arriving soon. That came in the form of Yori. The silent charger cleans up nice when he wants to. In contrast to Kohana’s green-based attire, he wore a white suit with a green tie that matched her dress. The shadow jumper had to admit, he cleaned up real well. If she was anyone else, she'd be trying to see if she could go a few rounds. The mask he wore was white with shiny gold lightning bolts. Behind them were thunder clouds.

“Ready, hubby dearest?”

Yori grinned, excited at the charge in the air, his own mask a contrast to him as well. “But of course, allow me to lead the way.” He extended his arm and Kohana looped it in naturally like it belonged there.

One might ask how this happened. Perfect idea. Let’s break it down.

This ball was actually the hype of the small town Luton. A beach town has had a party every year since its founding over eight hundred or so years ago; if the legends are to be believed. This party was called Starlight Festival. Cliché name aside, it worked as every year, one could see the stars through the Extinction Belt. Some also say that proposing to the one you love is a token of fortune.

Anyway, the best place to scout was this party. So, Kohana suggested getting in character with it all. Unsurprisingly, Miya was against it. Everyone else thought it was perfect. Being outvoted, she begrudgingly changed sides. She would not be in a dress, but close enough to watch for shady characters. The irony was not lost on her either.

That led to a chain of events that included getting outfits on such short notice, that being five days ago. Luck must have been on their side because each one of them got a suit or dress. Seki, of course, was the most excited at being able to look normal. Shiro winced at the comment. No one saw it…that didn’t mean Hiroki or Yori didn’t feel it. They left it alone.

Sneaking in wasn’t a problem, since it was available for anyone. It sounded suspicious, but after asking a tourist-type question, it was told that it was because they wanted to accept everyone in the world, due to Others.

Moving onto the present.

As for the rest of the platoon, they were already inside. Every one of them was dressed for the occasion, even little Seki. Her cute stature did draw a few eyes, but her glare dissuaded any troublemakers. Many questioned why a child was here, but upon seeing the imposing figure of Hiroki standing with his hand in hers, no one questioned it...because they were questioning him. At least until she spoke, "Onii-san, let's go to the table, I heard they have sweets!"

Most thought, aww, how sweet of him to take care of his younger sister.

What they didn’t understand was that she was older than him. By a few years at least but she insisted on being called imōto, mostly because she knew what the feeling of a younger sibling can do to everyone's moods. 

Hiroki smiled at Seki, she still is such a child at heart. The reminder that she had her childhood taken away by the OSF was not lost on him. Holding back the frown that bubbled to the surface, he walked forward with her dragging him. His own suit matched his hair subtly and his tie was jet black.

Shiro and Ryo were pretending to be a couple, much to Ryo's hidden joy. Shiro already knew what Ryo thought of him. He never minded and told him the rule. It would never go well. Using Brain Talk, {How is it, Lilly?}

The girl in question responded, {Nothing yet except that I have been enjoying myself. Did you know Battery knows how to dance?}

{I've had time,} was his only response. {I have nothing pertinent to report.} Curt, as usual. The guy really doesn't like to speak. Sometimes, he just shuts up for months on end. Brain Talks included, by the way.

Big Brother cast another glance over the whole party, looking for any sort of clue. {Banshee, how about you? Taking care of Echo?}

{Echo is just fine, she's enjoying the sweets, which I confirmed aren't poisoned, reminds me of that one chef out in Jansai, she made a fantastic cake,} Banshee said, cutting to the chase soon after, {I've been trying to sound out people, but with the crowd, it is difficult. I did hear a few people briefly on the balcony above us and I'm not positive about that.}

{Give me your best guess,} Big Brother said.

{70-30, but with 20 of that 30 in maybe,} Hiroki replied, and if anyone saw him, his lips would have twitched into a mischievous grin.

Hard Place entered the conversation, the only one not at the party, and the only one dressed in her combat attire. Her palms were crackling with her power. If anyone noticed a small drop in temperature, they didn't comment. {That must be my brother and our targets.}

{I wouldn't go that far,} Banshee commented. {Don't get me wrong, it is your brother, but it looks like he's talking to some businessman...wait…}

Each member waited in anticipation for his next words. They were scattered across the room, so not everyone had the same angle as Banshee. Echo certainly didn't, not with her height. {Well...we're waiting.}

{Miya, your entire family is up there. Brother, sister, and younger brother. Acting like Lords and Lady. The worst part of it is that they left an open spot, just wide enough for you.}

This was only the beginning of an interesting night.

Shiro managed to get a glimpse of Chikao and Ruqa, wearing matching masks, as was Jori. He also noticed the similarities that Ruqa has with Miya. They both were lean and both had toned bodies. Now, he wasn't blind. He knew Miya was an absolute bombshell, and would definitely be any submissive man's dream with the way she talked down to people and still looked impassive. The fact of the matter is that Ruqa looked exactly the same, {Are you sure she isn't your twin sister?}

{Positive, she's...worse than me on a good day,} Hard Place admitted.

Echo chimed in, {And even then, Miya-san, you still care for us, as we do you.} See? How can anyone not like Seki when she says things like that. That was something else, The Wisps always had each others' backs, no matter the situation.

Lilly and Battery were still keeping an eye on everything, {They seem to be searching for something, or someone. Battery, any changes?} Lilly asked.

{None, if they are trying to pick targets, then they are doing a great job of hiding their intent and stares. Must be the assassin technique, or they have taken some classes.}

{It's not out of the question,} Rocky said, maneuvering to the table with wine glasses. Looking at a brand new bottle, he checked the seal, making sure that it couldn't be poisoned. There was a technique that could be applied to a bottle like this to allow a small poison to be slipped in. Ryo found none popped the cork with a small exertion of effort. The cork bounced comically off the lower section of the balcony and he caught it with ease. No one seemed to notice. {Smooth, Ryo, smooth,} Kohana said, withholding a giggle.

Hiroki took one more glance around, {Miya, I know you're outside on the roof, stay back. If they see you, then the mission is compromised.}

{I won't be spotted...I just want to see how they've changed,} Miya admitted. There was longing in her tone, which was understandable, but not the time for it.

A private message came to Hiroki from Seki, [Onii-san, I have gotten the names of our targets. They are sloppy, they left their frequency open, so I am intercepting their messages. I'll be relaying it over the Brain Talk. Get them to be quiet. This is taking a lot of concentration.]

{Everyone quiet, Echo has some important information. Sit down, shut up, and listen. She intercepted their frequency, don't ask how, and be ready,} Banshee said while his face remained impassive under the mask. Masquerades were quite enjoyable when he doesn't have to speak.

Shiro grinned from his spot, once Ryo returned to his side with a wine glass, "He would make a good leader, wouldn't he?"

Ryo, to his credit, hid his surprise, "What makes you think that? Hiroki would never have anyone else as a leader." Shiro just shrugged, grin still in place, as he took a sip of his wine. Ryo knew that there was no convincing his platoon leader. Sometimes he wonders how much of an effect Hiroki has on Shiro's life. The secret that they carry is one that may never see the light of day. However, fate has a great way of telling you to shove it up your ass.

Hmm, a classic 1938 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe, France. The Imamura Family have good taste. Not many of these left, pulling out the big guns means they are doing a send-off.

 


 

{I'm telling you, Bryan, the targets are here. We just don't know who they are. The fact that this is a Masquerade party makes it even worse,} a throaty voice said.

The one who responded was presumably Bryan, {It doesn't matter. Having lured them here was a part of the plan. What we didn't expect was the fact that this team was black ops. They don't exist in any database, and only by word-of-mouth do their tales travel. Hell, we don't know what they look like.}

{Shut the fuck up and focus, Bryan,} a third voice came through the Talk, {Just focus on finding the Imamura woman, she has to be here. Our benefactor told us that she was coming here and her ID was pinged at the gate. Camila, where are we on our secondary objective?}

A woman's voice came through, sounding slightly uninterested but carrying enough drive to sound convincing, {All prepped and ready to go, and the guests seem to be enjoying themselves.}

{Hey, did you just see that guy pop a cork and then catch it? Pretty fuckling slick. No one even noticed...I mean, except me,} a new voice said, also female, {Can I burn him?} A pyro…

A disgruntled sigh came through, {No, Kim, you cannot roast someone alive.}

{But Lev gets to do that!}

{Only when we confirm who the target is, right now, we're working with nothing,} a suave voice spoke.

{Did you see that chick in the green dress? She's fucking stacked! Gods, what I would do for a round in the sack with her. Gorgeous hips, a firm ass, and that smile…}

{Keep your perversions to yourself, Bryan,} 

The group looked around and noticed the three Imamuras standing on the balcony, matching masks, and three different expressions. {Duke, go and inform the youngest one that everything is fine and we'll update him if something comes up.} That was Lev, his accent distinct in comparison to the rest.

{Sure thing Boss,} Duke said. He was on the bottom floor and quietly slipped away up the stairs to the second floor. He was in view of the whole party, so nothing could happen

The sixth member, the operator, spoke up, {I've got small movement on the roof. Kim, go check it out.}

{Sure thing, I won't burn them too bad!} Accompanied by a demented smile, she slipped out of the room, unaware of who decided to tail her.

"Sir, reporting in." He saluted Jori and gave a small glance to the elder siblings. Jori inclined his head, never taking his eyes off the crowd, "no sign of her yet, but we will update you if we get any trace of her."

"How can you believe that she is still alive? I mean, you saw the absolute mess that was her room," Ruqa said, completely uninterested in her younger sister's death. Chikao scoffed and dismissed his second younger sister almost entirely. She never conformed to the lifestyle, wanting to be 'free' and 'explore the world and join the OSF.'

"If she died, then it better have been where no one could identify her," Chikao then said, making Jori grip the balcony harder, whereas the two elder siblings were unaware of the building rage of the younger sibling.

Duke turned to his side, {Any updates, Zeke?}

Their operator, Zeke, replied, {Nothing yet…wait, who ar-AHH!}

The connection was cut, then someone started screaming as the Other alarm went off.

 


 

{Hard Place, leave now, that’s an order,} Big Brother said. {Lilly, Banshee, do you have an appropriate lock on their operator? Don’t kill, incapacitate. We need confirmation on our information, if these guys know something that could jeopardize us or the OSF, then that’s game. Stopping them from harming one of our own is a bonus.}

Banshee grinned while taking a sip of water, {Just say the word. They decided to bring them here in both of our sights.}

Lilly just cackled into Battery’s shoulder. He felt a pleasurable change in the air, the effect amplified because the source was touching him.

Echo felt loopy from hijacking the frequency, swaying on her feet, leaning on Banshee. So that was when Rocky swooped in and carried the now sleepy girl away. A small, unnoticeable nod was shared between them. They would defend Seki first. She may be older than most of the platoon but it was their more developed instincts to protect the child. She’s just a little bean.

{Go nuts, and remember information first, kill second.}

With that, Lilly jumped into the shadows at her feet and ended up on the third floor, where most rooms were hidden from sight. Banshee used SAS to then use Lilly’s power to follow. The two often pair together for this type of takedown anyway. He hid the connections well, having slipped into a small hallway, and jumped in.

The poor bastard they ran into was on multiple screens before they spoke, “Wait…who ar-“

{Cover your ears, or stay in my shadow,} he warned. “Silence.”

The agonizing scream that the operator released was one all too common for a man like Banshee. The sound of shattering their eardrums, watching as the crimson essence leaks between their fingers. It was a powerful feeling.

Lilly took over with a Brain Talk. Honestly, it’s like a phone, reach out and accept the call or slam the connection shut. Thankfully, they accepted, since they wouldn’t be able to talk anyway, if only because Banshee now had the operator in a chokehold that was loose and would only tighten as they spoke.

That was when an alarm sounded. Both Wisps shared a look, now that she was in the room, still in her dress. Lilly reached around her upper thigh to produce a knife, and it was a sharp one. {You’re going to tell me what I need to know and you’re free to go.}

{You could tell us and you might be able to help the rest of the squad, so I’d advise listening to her. She’s not above going to extreme…sensual measures,} Banshee withheld his own shiver.

The thing was, each member of Shiro Platoon—the Wisps—each had a darker side, only one indulged on missions. Where were they right now?

On mission.

{You're the Wisps! Fuck, I knew it was coming, but nooo, they didn’t believe me! I-}

Lilly’s knife made a home right where the operator’s Crown Jewels were. That stopped him outright. Banshee sometimes doubted the sanity of himself and Lilly. {Name?}

{Zeke.} The guy was wearing a balaclava, which is a rarity nowadays.

{Was your squad planning to kill the Imamura family? Who hired you? Why are they after the dead sibling?} Banshee asked, slowly tightening his hold, unnoticeable to Zeke.

Zeke panicked, how did they know? In response, he laughed, {Who said she was dead?}

Lilly gently glided the blade across Zeke’s arm, almost lazily. The sting was enough to get him to struggle lightly. {Answer. The. Question.}

{Nope.}

{Right or left?} Lilly asked, her smile was wide and maniacal. Banshee almost felt pity for the poor bastard.

Zeke, obviously, was confused, {What?}

{Which testicle can you live without? I’ve always wanted to play Operation live.}

The panic was palpable in his tone, {You’re fucking crazy!} Zeke thrashed but a needle was at the base of his neck.

Banshee growled, {I insert the needle, your limbs will be paralyzed. Do not move.}

Pleased with the restraint, admittedly making Lilly clench, {I’ll be fucking something or someone tonight.~} she replied instantly, the knife going towards Zeke’s pants, slowly cutting them open. Banshee wanted nothing to do with that knife ever, and he just now realized how lucky he was. {Tell me what I want to know and it will all be over…}

Her patience was wearing thin, and it showed no signs of stopping. {I’d tell her if I was you, because even though I work with her daily, I don’t want another guy to suffer like that.}

{F-Fine! We were contracted by the Chikao Imamura to kill the younger brother and find evidence of the younger sister being alive and then kill her too! When we heard about the ping at the front gate, we investigated!} Zeke’s words were a jumbled, albeit, coherent mess but he wasn’t done. {Just to add pressure, someone leaked to us that the Wisps were coming after us. It was just a random message that showed up to all of us. We wrote it off, except for me.}

Banshee tightened his hold a noticeable amount, {Who is the true benefactor? She’s dead, and the brother seemed awfully worried for a dead woman.} There was more to this. There had to be.

{I don’t know! I was the newest of the squad. I knew the Imamuras had four children and one died in a freak accident. So the ID ping was weird but when we brought it up, he told us it was irrelevant.}

Lilly removed the knife from Zeke’s testicle’s personal space, {What branch are you a part of?}

{Branch? We’re a Coalition!} Both Wisps were slightly off-put by this information but kept on task.

{Is that all?}

{Yes! Please let me go, I’m not going to tell anyone!}

Banshee tightened the hold, even more, feeling his pulse under his arm racing. The blood flow is stopping, {May the gallows welcome you.}

Zeke only had a moment to widen his eyes before they stayed that way. A sickening crunch echoed in the room.

{We have a bigger problem on our hands, Lilly.}

She put away the knife as Banshee dropped the body, the head at an unnatural angle. {I was gonna sever his femoral artery!} Lilly noticed that behind the mask, the navy blue eyes she has come to know have never been more vacant.

{We got some information, then we killed. That’s the job. We have no time to play games. Now let’s go, they are fighting Others, probably. No doubt the enemy squad is aware that their comrade is dead.}

 


 

Just after the alarm went off, Big Brother casually pulled out his weapon as an Other, a Grim Yawn, fell from the sky and busted into the ballroom. Those bunkers must really be useless if they drop in like that.

{Plan Lima, take out the Others, secondary objective, capture the rogue squad. Banshee, Lilly, status?}

{Green.}

{Color of my hair.}

If he noticed the tone Banshee used, he didn’t comment. Big Brother fired his weapon at the Other, blasting the arm off it, not caring it was roaring in pain. He watched as it bled on the floor, and gained a glint in his eyes. The weapon was one of a kind for a reason. {Update after.}

{Sir.}

At this point, it was full-blown panic. People were running, tripping, and trampling over each other to escape. It was an amusing sight, watching these people run from danger, only to end up in more.

There wasn’t just one Other. There were multiple Others that awaited the people. Even if the bunker was located inside the ballroom, it was already too late for some.

The jaws of the Grim Yawn snapped out and grabbed two people, and munched like it was a midnight snack. Given the time it was right now…irony at its finest.

{Rocky, make sure Echo is safe. Battery…}

{Permission to go nuts?} The sparks lined his body, just waiting for the word.

A sinister smile, {Granted. Aim for our targets. Stun into submission. Lilly, find Hard Place. Banshee, with me. The party has only just begun.}

Sparks flew, and Big Brother noticed that the trio of Imamura children were no longer on the balcony. {Hard Place, do what you need to do. I won’t stop you, the choice is yours.} he sent that to her privately. He already knew she wanted to speak to them, for the last time.

The Will-o’-the-Wisps always enjoyed a good party. Especially when the party serves death as an appetizer. The real work was just beginning.

Chapter Text

The Imamura siblings all ran as soon as the first Other appeared. What they didn't see was they had a tail. Miya had thought she denounced her siblings when they didn't even bother checking in with her. She was always the black sheep of the family. Despite being in the same family, it sure as hell didn't feel like one. The third child of the Imamura family stalked across the roof, following along.

It turns out, she was yearning for a conversation with them. When she got Big Brother's message, it was a nail in the coffin. She might have gotten closer, had some flames not welled up in her way. "So, you're the one that poor Zeke found. A shame he's dead, I might've praised him, hehe~" a girl said, wearing OSF gear but there was something off about her.

"Out of my way, pyro, my business doesn't extend to you yet," Miya said, the temperature around her dropping as she prepared her power. The pyro didn't move but was scrutinizing her.

"You must be the mysterious missing child of the Imamura family, Miya. Your ID being pinged wasn't a fluke, and…" the flames got close enough to catch the outfit. Miya's face didn't change as the pyro's did. A flash of fear was quickly hidden by a smirk. "So, it's true, the Wisps are here then."

Miya then rolled her eyes, "Guess now that you said it, you aren't leaving alive." The rule, if the Wisps are mentioned and one member is present—said to their faces—the target must be eliminated. She sent a barrage of ice at the girl.

The pyro was slightly caught off guard at the quick attack. "Fire and Ice, huh? We go well together."

"Do me the favor of giving me your name so that you may pass into the gallows as a named soul," Miya said, putting her hood up, the red contrasting the white. Using her power, she coated her body in ice, like flexible armor. The practical uses for ice were abundant. One wanted ice armor? It can be made. Miya spent a lot of time researching her power from current and past users. What they found, what they experimented with, what worked, what didn't, and so on. This was her recent achievement.

"Really committed to the Wisps bit, eh?" the girl said. "Well okay, the name's Kim," she said, throwing a fireball at Miya.

Easily dodging it, sending ice mist to extinguish the fire in case it decided to be a cheeky fuck and track. Pyros have the ability to create the flame and send it. But once it makes contact with its target or any object in general, it becomes like normal fire, unpredictable, untamed. Miya closed the distance, actually grabbing onto her jacket, bringing a knee to Kim's chest, then followed up with the meanest right hook, complete with blunt force trauma, sending the girl flying.

Not before Miya added one-inch ice spikes to her knees. So, it wasn't surprising to see the ice coated in a tinge of red. Kim gasped at feeling the stabs but composed herself. She quickly used her fire to cauterize the wounds, "You cheeky bitch."

Miya showed no emotion, neither in her voice nor her tone, "You are my enemy and you must die."

Their fight continued, even as other members of both teams were witnessing the fight from below. "Bold words for someone in barbequing distance," Kim said as she drew up a literal wave of fire. Miya just stood there, waiting for it to come closer, and was pleased to see someone take wounds and not give a single fuck. Miya could admire someone like that, and she did. It was her platoon. Underneath the hood was a grin, and the temperature took a severe drop, even as the wave of fire was mere meters in front of her.

"Who do you work for? What is your goal?"

Kim, being real sassy, "Well, torching your tragic ass, and your family is very paranoid that you'll still alive. We were tasked with ending your life. So, stay still while I burn you. Möge die Koalition gedeihen."

German? Miya thought to herself, an odd choice of words. "My family wishes to confirm my death? I will verify your claim myself," her tone was emotionless, apathetic. Her violet eyes narrowed from under the hood, baiting her.

Even Kim noticed this change, noting that she really didn't care that her own family was targeting her. Holy shit, she really is a Wisp. Zeke knew what he was talking about. Kim realized the saying of 'playing with fire' was wrong. It was really messing with the frostiness of ice that will be her undoing. Kim smiled, even as Miya encased herself in ice, the fire passing over her, melting the ice enough for her to spring out and launch herself at the open Kim. The distance was too short for even the fastest reaction times to counter. So, the pyro smiled, accepting that she's been played.

Upon launching herself, Miya formed an ice lance on her arm and aimed for the correct area. The move was so quick that the wind passed after the move had been made. It was something that is hard to do, even just once. It requires all the concentration in the world to pull this off and Miya did just that. Her goal was clear: Kill the enemy. Speak with her siblings. Those two things were driving her forward. The backing of her Platoon made this even further possible.

There was no sound of the ice making contact. The only sound heard was blood making contact with the roof, some of it staining the glass behind her. "May the gallows welcome you, Kim." The ice lance now impaled through Kim's torso, narrowly missing her heart, but not her lungs. If one was to see this in broad daylight, they would have lost their lunch. Her lungs were teetering on the edge of the ice, almost freezing in place. Kim's mouth opened and blood gushed out, right on Miya's shoulder.

"G-oo fite," Kim gurgled as she choked on her blood and simply leaned her now lifeless head on Miya's shoulder.

The woman known as Hard Place cared not. The red accented the white anyway. She let the lance dissipate into an icy mist, revealing her arm was through the woman's torso. The white was there for a reason. {Two down,} she reported, laying the woman down, closing her eyes. The Wisps kill, but they are respectful about caring for the dead. They are not in search of the same treatment. When they die, and everyone dies one day, they will accept the punishment granted to them. {She mentioned a Coalition...we need more information. In pursuit of my siblings, who is available to follow?}

{Give me an approximate location, and I will follow, Hard Place,} Rocky answered. Good, the one person I can combo really well with.

{Heading southwest alongside the roof, they must be going to a bunker. We must intercept them before they make it, otherwise, we lose our chance to chat. What of the other operatives?} Miya asked.

{Big Brother and Banshee have pinned down two of them, while Lilly and Battery have the others. Echo is currently monitoring Other activity. We've taken care of them. I'm on my way.}

She sent a confirmation down the Talk before taking off, leaving Kim's body behind, preserving it in ice doubling as protection of Others. She may have been an enemy, but she does not deserve to have her brain eaten by Others.

Quickly smashing a window in, she dropped to the floor, blood still caked to her right sleeve, dripping like a leaky faucet. Drip. Miya knew this hallway. It was the hallway that contained her room. Her memories of the time she spent here were a long time ago. The fact that it looks like nothing was touched here made her wonder what changed if anything at all.

A hand settled on her shoulder, causing her to react, forming an ice dagger, but then her arm felt sluggish, falling to the floor. "Sorry, but you were spaced out, and you didn't respond to me." Miya sighed, she was too lost in reminiscing that Ryo had caught up with her. Drip.

"The bunker's entrance...there is an emergency getaway in...my old room," Miya whispered.

Ryo willfully missed the tone in her voice, "Lead the way, quickly. You still want to talk to them?"

"I have to," she said before walking along, pausing slightly at a door before pushing it open, getting a blast from the past. The room looked immaculate but there was no time for distractions. Even though the sheets were slightly ruffled, showing a sign of use, layers of dust collected in the room, making it seem like a room out of a haunted house.

"The mechanism is around here somewhere...is it…?" she trailed off before having a 'huzzah' moment. With no surprise to Ryo, it was a book on the bookshelf, specifically, the third book on the second-highest shelf pulled with the lightest touch. Pull the book, a secret door opens.

"Cliché much?"

"You don't know the half of it. Let's go," she ordered, her long violet hair flowing behind her. Her violet eyes narrowed, "I'm coming for you, Chikao, Ruqa." The pair descended into darkness.

 


 

Meanwhile, with the three siblings, Chikao was eerily calm as he walked down the hallway. He was always seemingly uncaring but had a sharp mind. The man was a viper somedays, his stare holding you down, rooting you to the earth below. He often held himself in higher regard in comparison to his other siblings. Ruqa often challenged him on things, but he shot her down every single time. He never let her do anything without his say-so.

It was honestly torture for Ruqa. For a fleeting moment, she thought her younger sister did the right thing, faking her death. Of course, the eldest sister knew that she did. After all, finding out her fiancé was an assassin of some kind, teaching her those tricks on how. They managed to track them and killed him, and then she was pronounced dead at the scene. You always did have a clever streak, Miya.

"How much further?" Jori asked. The youngest child of the Imamura family was obviously unaware of this, and of course, he was suspicious, and rightly so. When he didn't get an immediate answer, "I've never noticed these before, so tell me, dearest siblings where we are going? What about the people we hired?"

"It is already too late for them, the Wisps have arrived. They will not leave a single one alive," Chikao said, positive that his words were nothing but the truth. Jiro did not believe such things. As if sensing his little brother's next question, "The Wisps are a black ops squad of OSF not listed on any known database, and considering the current state of technology, it says a lot to what they keep under wraps. I have reason to believe that our sister is on that team. It was no coincidence that her ID was pinged."

"They lied to me then," Jiro said.

Ruqa quickly turned her head, "You've met them?"

"Briefly, where we thought she was hiding," Jiro said. "One of them reminded me of someone from some book. The resemblance was uncanny." Ducking under a large wooden support, the trio arrived at a door.

"Curious," Chikao noted, opening the door, seeing the emergency bunker's scanner activate. The room was like one large hotel suite, Penthouse style. Multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, you name it, it was there. The lights were off as they entered the dining room area. The overhead voice identified them all in a robotic monotone.

[Confirmed: Chikao Imamura, Ruqa Imamura, Jori Imamura, and Miya Imamura; Present. One unidentified personnel was detected. Warning. Warning. Hostile intentions detected.]

That just made the three of them freeze. By the time that Chikao was screaming out a warning, something shifted. Everything felt heavy. Like the world was personally pushing them down. Ruqa fell to the floor, being the weakest physically of the three. Chikao was on his knees. Jori, surprisingly, was still standing.

"Impressive, I was even making sure yours was the heaviest," a moderate voice said. Jiro looked up to see green eyes staring back. "You know, she has high hopes for you. Pray that the gallows remain closed for you."

"This is a wonderful reunion, would you not agree, dearest family?" a cold voice followed. "It seems you've all gotten comfortable since my untimely death." Violet hair and eyes met three pairs of matching hair and eyes. Cross-legged in a chair, she stared down her siblings with multiple emotions; each one was hard to pin down because there was so much filtering through her eyes.

Jori was the first to react, "Miya…" he grunted, feeling the pressure increase.

"Rocky, that's enough, let them up," Miya said, to which gained a look. "I'm sure because they won't be going anywhere until I get answers. If I find them satisfactory, you might still breathe." The pressure disappeared from them immediately before a shiver crawled up the three siblings' spines. They were then cocooned in ice, leaving their heads and hearts uncovered. "So, who wants to start talking? My arrogant, spewing holier than thou propaganda brother? My harlot of a sister who disregarded me from the moment I was born? Or the only one in the family that I actually cared about?"

"Listen here, you-"

Ice was put over his mouth, Chikao's mouth, to shut up his rant, "I don't give a fuck what you have to say unless it is to answer my questions. Heaven may be full, but the gallows are always open…"

Jori felt himself deflate. Is this really my sister? The one I thought died? A hand descended on his cheek, making him look up to see Miya in front of him. "M-Miya...Onee-san…" His eyes noticed the color of her sleeve. The smell was what gave it away. Blood. The Crimson Essence coated his sister's arm, up to her bicep. "You…"

"Answer me. Are you aware that your guards were hired to kill me?" Miya's eyes flashed from a soft-caring woman to a hardened veteran. "Are you aware of what they planned to do?"

"Wait, they were hired to kill you?! That's not what you said, Chikao! You said they were hired to find a trace of Miya so she can come home! So she can make our family whole again! After Mother and Father died, you wanted to make the family whole! Was that a lie, brother?! Sister?! Answer me!" The expression on Chikao's face morphed into a furious one.

Miya already knew, somewhere deep down, that her youngest sibling was innocent. The words confirmed it. Ryo, who was watching with any signs of lying, found none from the youngest sibling. {He's genuinely upset and angry.}

Side-eying him for a moment, she turned back to him, "Look at me, JoJo," Miya called him a name that she often used during their childhood. "If you had known, would you have changed it?"

"Damn right I would've! I wanted to know for years where you went! I didn't believe you were dead! All I wanted was an open line of communication. Even if you couldn't return home, I wanted to know you were safe!" Jori's body was tense as he spoke, a prominent vein was pulsing in his head. Miya made her hand lightly frost over and covered his forehead.

"You've always had a few anger problems…" she whispered before letting go of his head. She then turned to her older sister. Ryo idly thought that they could've passed off as twin sisters. Around the same height, about the same build. The starking contrast resided with their hairstyle. While Ruqa had hers all dolled up, woven in intricate braids, coiled around her neck and upper back, Miya's was in a straight tri-braid. It flowed down her back with ease. "Dear sister, you are far too silent from seeing your sibling come back from the dead."

{Not to interrupt, but if you have the chance, ask about a Coalition. We need more info,} Big Brother's voice came through a Brain Talk.

{I have not found any records of this 'Coalition' of which they speak. Miya-san, please find out,} Echo's analytical voice followed afterward.

"There's no need for you to reply to that. However, you need to reply to this: What is the Coalition?" Miya drove the subject to its main point.

Ryo chimed in, sitting in a chair adjacent to Miya's previous one, "Answer quickly because the rest are on their way here." Miya looked alarmed but composed herself.

{I didn't get told this...,} Miya shot accusingly.

Ryo shrugged lightly, {You're busy, I'm just the messenger.}

"The Coalition is something outside the OSF," Ruqa spoke, her voice a tad harsher than Miya's on a bad day. "They are recently formed but seem to have information everywhere." Chikao was slowly melting the ice muzzle via the hot air he was blowing. Miya dared him through a glare to say something that sounded like a cover-up. "Through a mutual contact, we acquired their services. The extra objective was to find you."

"To do what exactly?" Miya pressed.

Ruqa started to shiver, not because of the line of questioning either, "That was it. Despite how indifferent I was to you, I do value you."

Miya was debating whether or not to believe her. It sounded...hollow to her like there was something lacking. "Say I believe you, what then? That cannot undo anything we've done over the past twenty years. Despite all that, I look and feel younger than the three of you."

"So you are with the Wisps," Jori said.

No use denying it, "That I am, and I daresay, they've been more family to me than you three have. Despite that, I cannot deny that my heart hurts from knowing that we will never be the same as we were twenty years ago."

"You ungrateful bitch!" Chikao yelled, free of the ice muzzle now. His slightly purple lips were the only indicator of an oncoming health problem.

"Rocky, can you hold them so they don't pass out from hypothermia?" A nod before a pressure three times the force of gravity was applied to the trio of Imamura siblings. Miya cast away the ice, making them feel the full force of it. "Dearest twat of a brother, answer me this, or I will skewer your heart from where you stand: Did you hire this Coalition to kill me? If you lie, evade, or do not answer, I will assume you did and the punishment I laid out will be brought forth."

The silence reigned in the room as Miya, no, Hard Place, awaited an answer. An answer that would determine her eldest brother's fate. His life was in her hands.

 


 

Back at the party, before and during the conversation.

Big Brother had just taken down a Vase Paw and another Grim Yawn. The casual gait he walked around with was an outlier compared to everyone's panic. There wasn't anything that could oppose him. The smoking barrel left at his side showed that he could take these down with ease.

Banshee, meanwhile, landed a solid punch amplified by sound into a Wither Sabbot. All of these Others and yet not a single casualty. That was until Banshee dodged a rush of pressurized air, bringing him next to Big Brother. {Fancy seeing you here.}

{Having fun, Hiroki?} Big Brother asked with a grin. With the mask on, it made him far more sinister than normal, and then on top of the intent that was leaking from him, made Banshee take a cautious step to his right.

{Peachy, let's see, their operator and pyro are down. Who is left? A pyro, hydro, aero, and psycho?} he asked as he dodged a swipe from a Kitchen Rummy's arm. To which he then heard the sound of a Psychokinesis user picking something up. {Incoming.} Banshee used the power of sound to give him an 'air burst' back to dodge the UFO.

For the misinformed, it means Unidentified Flying Object. Technically, if one threw an Other, it could be classified as Unidentified Flying Other. With that being said, "So it's true. You really have come and you really do exist."

Banshee stood up, dusted off his suit as Big Brother stepped forward, patting Banshee on the shoulder, "Let your big bro take care of this."

"Bryan, take the little one," a short stature of a man said. He was slightly shorter than Hiroki and considering that he only comes up to about neck level with Shiro, not that imposing.

"Duke, you damn well know who they are, right?"

Big Brother then had this to say, "Oh, and the woman in the green dress is actually into this guy here," a nod to Hiroki, who sent a scathing glare, which was ignored in favor of speaking, "Plus, she'd kill you for saying all those things. You can fantasize when you're dead."

A moment of confusion appeared on their faces before they paled, "You hacked into a Brian Talk?! That's not possible!"

"Echo Echo," Shiro said before the two had to dodge a hidden blade thrown by little Seki. She was out of the fight, keeping track of Others. The little girl was pleasantly eating at the table with absolutely no care or regard for the people still fleeing. How many people were actually in here?

"Thanks, pumpkin," Big Brother called out.

"No problem, Nii-sama!" Seki giggled, shoving another pastry in her mouth, licking the cream off her tiny fingers. Duke and Bryan were floored that the little girl that they wrote off as innocent was actually not innocent.

"What the fu-"

A stern glare from Shiro made them rethink swearing. "What the heck? Is the OSF really scraping the bottom of the barrel with her? She's like ten!"

{Aren't we supposed to be fighting them?} Banshee asked, still on guard.

{Go nuts, take the other guy, the Psycho user is mine,} Big Brother said, cracking his knuckles.

Banshee launched at Bryan with a sound-infused dagger punch. The swiftness almost caught Bryan off guard but responded with an air-infused cross. It ended up catching one of Banshee's weapons.

It hasn't really been established as to who wields what weapon. The only one is Shiro and his pistol. Hiroki took a page out of some assassin's handbook and made hidden blades. Custom-made and custom-built. He does carry a sword sometimes, if only for when he doesn't want to get crushed by an Other. However, for this trip, he didn't carry the sword. The blades, on the other hand, were something small and are easy to hide. The other weapons for the platoon will come later.

Looks like someone forgot to mention them…

Bryan quickly leaped back, "Shit, you Wisps got a trick for everything."

"Do I?" an ear-piercing ringing dominated Bryan. Banshee wasn't named this for nothing after all. When Bryan stumbled, he pushed forward, even as air bursts tried to stave him off. The only thing that happened was the suit Hiroki was wearing had a few cuts in it. Mostly along the sleeves. He could still feel his arms, so no air cut off his arms. Not to mention, he put a sound barrier around himself to protect from attacks such as these.

Bryan put up a cyclone around himself, further destroying the ballroom. It was mostly for defense. However, there was one thing that the soldier forgot about. Cyclones produce sound.

That sound would be his undoing. Banshee immediately summoned a lot of his power, feeling his head start to ache. Using those sound waves, Banshee manifested them to a physical—and visible—form for Bryan to see. Even seeing through the cyclone, he saw what the hell was happening. Banshee smiled, and his eyes probably showed how vacant they were because Bryan shivered involuntarily.

He couldn't hear it but there was screaming. In a flash, Banshee drove his blades through Bryan's hands, skewering him to the floor. He then put a knee over his throat and held him there.

A body then thumped next to Banshee and Big Brother walked up, dusting his hands off, "Can he still hear?" {Also, you could've done that faster.} Big Brother had thrashed his opponent without firing a shot, instead just slowly restricting his movements. It was another chance to test his power. A power that he doesn't want but will never ask to replace. A paradox, in his mind at least.

{Not through this. Sure, but that would've been no fun...He still alive?} Banshee replied and then asked a question, gesturing to the heap before him. {We need some answers. This Coalition is going to be a thorn in our side if we aren't on top of it.}

Big Brother nodded, {They are still fighting over there, aren't they?} Banshee looked over to Lilly and Battery, and honestly? They were toying with them. Lilly was giggling, basically dancing around her opponent who tried and failed to light her on fire. She was jumping from the shadows, a look in her eye.

Battery meanwhile was enjoying countering his opponent. The man had a smirk unbecoming of the guy. However, Banshee and Big Brother knew that he was absolutely toying with her and she didn’t hide it. Lilly knew some tact but she definitely let her opponent tire himself out.

“You certainly like to jump around. Your power…Umbrakinesis, correct?” Lev, the leader of the group, said.

“Got it in one, big guy,” Lilly giggled. She then connected to Hiroki through SAS to mask her movements. Lev calmly brought fire all around him.

The way to counter an Umbrakinesis user was to make sure there were as few shadows as possible. That is an impossibility, Lev knew, but limiting your enemies’ movements becomes crucial.

Lev knew he was going to die here. After having felt two of his ragtag squad connections cut out and another two weak, he knew that the end was near. That did not mean that they were going to sit down and accept death. Lev will bite that hand of death and spit it out.

Through his flames, he looked around to see two more of them patiently waiting for him to do something. They seemed so bored of what was going on around them. One of them would wave a hand and kill an Other heading for the fight. Oddly considerate. Turning back to his own fight, he felt that there weren’t a lot of shadows, at least until he felt a presence behind him.

By the time Lev moved, he felt a prick in his neck, “Look out below. You see you have everything external covered but not internal,” Lilly said, pressing her chest into Lev’s back. The man had to admit, she had a very nice rack.

A second later, he was on the floor paralyzed and his flames dispersed. “Hey Batts, how are you?”

“Green,” a man in a white suit said, carrying Camila over his shoulder. “She put up a great fight. In a couple years, she would have somewhat been a challenge.”

The way he said that made Lev widen his eyes from the ground, “How strong are you?” He was speaking as if she were already dead or was going to die.

“Strong enough where two of us could have taken you all down. It was more fun this way,” Shiro said. “Now listen, the four of you are going to die. Not by Others, I like to think I’m not that cruel. However, if you fail to answer my questions truthfully, I know where a nice Other is that is just dying for some fresh brains.”

The threat wasn’t idle either. Kohana, Yori, Hiroki, and Seki all tensed. “You mean…”

“…yes that one,” Shiro said. The four all shared a shiver.

“Something you’re all afraid of?” Lev asked, feeling oddly vindicated. “That’s rich coming from the Wisps.”

{Can I punch him? He can’t feel anything right?}

“No, you can’t,” Kohana said, “it actually enhanced his sense of touch. Observe,” she leaned down and flicked his arm.

“Ahhhgghh!” A strangled scream escaped Lev’s throat. Meanwhile, Bryan was still squirming in pain on the ground. Duke was slowly coming to. Seki was watching over them, prepared to coat her hands should they try anything.

Shiro let him wriggle in agony for a moment before cutting to the chase, “Tell us why you were hired to kill one of our own. What is the Coalition?”

Lev grit his teeth, “Shouldn’t you be all-knowing?”

“Alright, pack them up, they are going to the Other,” Shiro said with a bored tone. “Start with the guy you impaled through the hands.”

“Don’t feed me to an Other!” Bryan screamed as the pain in his hands amplified. 

Hiroki must have showcased his worry as Shiro spoke in his mind, {Scare tactic. However, if they prove to be uncooperative, then we will. We’ll have to find information on this Coalition eventually.}

It eased Hiroki immensely to hear that. Seki also fanned herself because the way Shiro said that was too serious for her to know if he was or wasn’t serious. He had that way about him.

Lev groaned once more, “The Coalition is a group of psionics from around the world. We are everywhere, constantly reporting in. We recently became a part of it, after hearing what New Himuka was doing. Togetsu was no better.”

“Metamorphosis research,” Yori said. Lev’s eyes brightened then darkened in an instant.

“You know of it and yet you still serve the OSF?! After what they’ve done?!”

Seki chimed in, “You mistake us for actual OSF, Lev-san.”

Shiro continued after that, “Which means we don’t care. We care for each other and that’s about it. Anything else?”

The pyro groaned, “If you're thinking of overthrowing the Coalition, then you really are crazy. No one has been able to, and those that have tried are sacrificed.”

A laugh was shared across the five members, “We have no plans to unless they get in our way. Isn’t that right?”

“Yep!” A resounding response. Hiroki just nodded. Seki cheered more enthusiastically than the rest. Yori loved the feeling of the charge over his skin. Kohana just had a look of impatience, “Can we kill them yet?”

Shiro just smiled maliciously. “Go. Nuts. Our gallows are always open.”

"That's like your catchphrase, you know that right?" Kohana asked.

Shiro grinned, absolutely not sorry.

The sounds of four screams filled the air, and the Others in the area suddenly felt a wave of dread. They were next and they damn well knew it.

That proved true as five tasty humans burst from the ballroom annihilating every Other in their path.

Once they contained it all, {Ryo, how goes it?}

His voice filtered through, {As touching and heartbreaking as one might think. Do me a favor and get over here as fast as possible. Fourth floor, the sixth door on the left. The bookcase has a book that you can tilt.}

The groans of how cliché it was were very much well received. They disliked clichés as much as the next agent. Seki still had a fondness for them, for very obvious reasons.

So, the group did a double check of their victims, having Seki send a signal to recover them. Otherwise, they left no trace. Their outfits would be burned to dispose of the evidence. The Wisps must stay off the radar.

They traveled up to the room that Ryo pointed out. When they arrived, there was a sympathy pain as they saw what was Miya’s room. She definitely was always the diva slash mistress they thought her as; not that they would say it to her face.

Kohana noticed the book first and tilted it. When the path opened, she whistled, calling everyone over. Hiroki jumped down, with no hesitation. “Truly a wonderful scout, didn’t even need to be told.”

{I heard that,} his voice floated up teasingly. A second later, it was serious, {All clear. It’s a little narrow, Yori. Your broad shoulders may have a tight fit.}

“Implying something, are we?”

“He’s right Yori, your shoulders are a little broad,” Kohana jumped in.

Shiro just watched in the background, seeing his platoon at somewhat ease made him feel better.

 


 

Miya and Ryo waited impatiently for the rest of the platoon to show up. Chikao, Ruqa, and Jori were reluctantly released from their ice and gravity-formed prisons. They were now sitting across from one another, silently. Miya was still very much upset.

As soon as Ruqa was about to speak, the door creaked open. A knock on the wall, ‘Anyone home?’

“Come on in, Banshee,” Miya said.

Hiroki came into the room, “What a wonderful reunion, hmm?”

A raised eyebrow accompanied by a glare, “Do you want an ice prison too?”

“You really need to learn how not to make Miya-San mad, nii-san,” Seki chimed before going over to Miya and plopping herself into her lap. Miya allowed it and the three Imamura siblings watched as she started to pet her hair. She was still in her dress and mask.

“So, these are the lovely siblings?” Shiro asked. “Nice to see you again, Jiro.”

“So you were them?!” Jiro shouted in disbelief. “To think I was that close…”

“To be fair, we had to sway suspicion, you know, since all your guards are dead. All six. Those guys had other plans besides assassinating your beloved sister,” Shiro drawled.

Chikao growled, “She was better off staying dead.”

“Just what a girl wants to hear,” Miya deadpanned her sibling. “You know I contemplated killing you all? Multiple times, even before they got here.”

Ruqa shivered in her seat, “So why didn’t you?”

The third eldest shrugged and that was all she offered. Kohana certainly had something to say, even as Chikao and Jori were eyeing her in her dress, which in case you forgot, was pretty short. Like bend over we can see your panties kind of short. Of course, Jori was looking respectfully, eyeing her from her legs up and staying focused on her face. Chikao was leering at her blatantly staring at her considerable rack and thighs.

“Hey, Miyaaaa~”

Miya already saw this coming, “My siblings are off-limits, Lilly.”

“Tch awww,” Kohana pouted.

{Can we get to the matter at hand? My head is starting to hurt,} Hiroki complained. Shiro, Yori, and Ryo all shared another small, subtle glance and spoke in a private talk.

{He’s not getting worse is he?} Ryo inquired.

Shiro minutely shrugged, {Who knows. They have started to become more common. His brain is already delicate.}

{There have been no changes in his brain since the last time. He really does just have a headache,} Yori confirmed. Since the brain does have electrodes running through it, he can somewhat sense them. Unlike people who have clairvoyance, he cannot see the root of the problem.

Seki silently tapped into the Talk, and her concerned glance was noticed by Hiroki, {Something wrong, kiddo?}

{N-Nothing Nii-San!}

He gazed suspiciously at her, {If you say so.} Shiro then warned her to not inquire about that further. Then he told her to not tap Brain Talks like that.

Miya was then brought up to speed on what has transpired. “Okay, now, the decision whether you live or die comes down to my commander.” Her voice was tight, her fist clenched on the table, an arm protectively around Seki.

The pinkette snuggled into the hold, which wasn’t uncomfortable but it was a little firm. Hiroki and Kohana stood behind them. Well, Kohana shadowed behind Ruqa and Hiroki audibly cracked his knuckles.

Of course, Kohana couldn’t resist. She then groped Ruqa’s sizable bust, “Oh, so firm and yet somehow fluffy!”

“Eek!” Ruqa squirmed but was there a moan in the mix?

“Oh~?” Kohana grinned, flexing her fingers. It did make Miya throw an ice dagger across her cheek. She immediately stopped knowing the next one wouldn’t miss. “Sorry, couldn’t resist, you won’t let me do that to you!”

Miya settled for a glare. Shiro was doing his best to hold back his laughter. Seki looked down and flexed her fingers before a light entered her eyes. “Echo, do you like sitting here?”

The girl immediately put her hands between her legs and nodded. “I wasn’t going to copy Lilly-chan!”

“Good. So, the verdict?”

Shiro paused, stroking his beard, “Do you want them dead?”

“Do they need to be dead?”

Shiro hummed and gave it some thought, “A few conditions.” Miya felt her heart plummet but she didn’t show it on her face. “One. No more contact with this Coalition. Two. You get a line of communication with Miya. Three. Tell no one of our existence. If you do, we will return and we will make your deaths painful. Let’s go, Operation Babydog is a success.”

Chikao, Ruqa, and Jori all had different expressions. The entirety of Shiro Platoon exited the safe room, except Miya. Kohana stayed back in her shadow in case they tried something. Not that they would but it was a precaution.

Miya walked up to her eldest brother, “I know you’re better than this. Fix yourself before I freeze you again.”

Chikao for once didn’t see his younger sister but a woman who had moved on, and she would keep a spot in her heart for them. Internally, deep down, he didn’t want to sever the bond between them.

Ruqa and Miya looked like they squared off before the latter brought the former into a hug, “Learn to stand up for yourself. Gotta show the world what an Imamura woman can do.” That was shared with a small smile. Miya gave her sister a parting kiss on the cheek.

Jori didn’t wait, he hugged his sister and she hugged back a small genuine smile. “You always were a hugger.”

“You were the only one to shower me in any sort of affection,” Jori admitted with a chuckle. When they parted, Miya held out a small device. “What’s this?”

“Our line of communication. I’ll try to call if I’m not too busy killing Others…or other horrible people.”

“Fair enough. Take care sister.”

Miya followed after her team, her new family. Their time in Luton came to a close but what awaited them in New Himuka was not going to be pleasant.

Chapter Text

Getting back to New Himuka was an easy task for the Wisps. The snow around Hieno Mountain was thinning but it could easily change. Their departure from Luton was something like this.

Once the party ended with Others crashing it, and the platoon killed all the bodyguards and confronted the Imamura Family, they booked it back to where they stashed their stuff. They burned all of the clothes that they wore to the party, not wanting to be recognized somewhere along the line. Even though Kohana wanted to keep the dress, she obliged after Hiroki took a picture of her in it.

Sometimes, the platoon wonders about their dynamic. Despite knowing that they don't—can't—date, they sure do act like it sometimes. As for them leaving, that was actually the easy part. They just walked right out of there and by walking out of there, that meant just using Kohana's power to slip into the night.

To make sure no one caught sight of them, they all wore standard OSF outfits. The white was nice but to blend in, they used the backups they had carried with them. They never go without them because of moments like these.

Currently, they were descending the mountain again so they could go find another target. As for who gives them targets, Shiro and Seki often collude together and find out if a report in some random area needs to be taken care of swiftly, silently, and unnoticed. The two of them know something deeper is going on in the OSF but they lack the evidence to prove it, even with the pinkette's ability to hack into secure databases under Arahabaki’s systems. Arashi Spring is the one who can probably do it but her sense of loyalty is to the OSF. Whether the PR girl knows it or not, she is important.

No, the Wisps are not going to kill her. That'd be stupid.

"So, this Coalition will probably have taken an interest in us and now we'll have to be even more careful," Shiro said idly. Everyone nodded to that, and Seki held a hand up to her ear. Yori noticed this and checked the air, feeling for the telltale signs of an Other, and found none.

"Yeah, but is there a chance they already know of us? And if they do, why haven't they spilled the beans?" Kohana asked. "I mean, we just took out some of their members, wouldn't they be upset?"

Miya cut in, "Think about it for a second, Hana. They were new which meant they probably weren't knowledgeable on a lot of things. So losing them was inconsequential. Not to say that taking human lives as we've done is any better but they did break our rule."

All in unison, even Hiroki in sign, "Mention us in our presence, the gallows are open for you." Their motif, if one wanted.

Sure, the talk of the gallows over and over may be boring but that was how it all started. Each member has their own story and a couple of them are darker than the rest. Miya with her family drama is actually the second easiest to stomach. Surprisingly, Ryo was the one who was the easiest to understand. He was scouted.

The man wasn't always as easy-going as he is now. Ryo admits to having been a hotheaded recruit, not giving a single fuck about the rules. That changed quickly under a few veiled threats. From then on, he improved himself and it caught the attention of the leader, Shiro.

Ryo easily accepted the proposal and was the newest recruit until Seki, Hiroki, and Kohana came along, under very different circumstances. Yori was the only one to ask to join.

More on their individual stories later.

Right now, Seki was very concentrated on her personal terminal. To the point where she wasn’t responding from atop Shiro’s shoulders. {Seki, is something the matter?}

The pinkette grumbled something under her breath. “Seki?” Ryo asked, waving a hand close by but not in front of her terminal.

Yori plucked the girl off the leader’s shoulders and shook her lightly, “Yori-kun, what are you doing?”

“Mission accomplished,” he said before putting her on his shoulders.

Kohana clicked her tongue, “Trying to get your damn attention. You’ve been furiously staring at your screen to not notice that almost everyone called out to you.”

The pinkette’s cheeks were already red from the light breeze but that didn’t stop her from getting bashful. “My apologies but from what I am looking at, there’s an emergency operation taking place at Suoh’s abandoned subway, line nine. The Extinction Belt is close to the surface, as close as it has been in years.”

“Who has been deployed?” Hiroki inquired. They probably put some top teams on it, he reasoned. Nothing that should be too difficult.

“According to the chatter, over forty OSF agents are on-site, and from the fact I hacked into their Talks, the Seto and…Kyoka platoon alongside the SDF…how odd,” she commented.

Shiro noticed the way Hiroki tensed for a split second at the mention of Kyoka Platoon. Oh boy, he’s really got it bad but there is something else in his gaze…oh, that’s right... The way his navy eyes locked onto Shiro’s were almost pleading but they held the resolve of a soldier. He sighed, “Go, swiftly but not get directly involved unless the circumstances deem it necessary. Kohana, go with him, the two of you can slip in undetected. Seki, make sure to keep an eye on them through a Brain Talk. The rest of us, let’s pick up the pace.”

As soon as he was given orders, Hiroki took off, throwing up a pile of snow and going with a boom. Kohana hitched a ride in his shadow.

As the snow cleared, Yori chuckled, “He’s got it bad for her.”

“““Oh, we know,””” Ryo, Miya, and Seki all chimed. The boy needed it. One just cannot go without at least a tiny crush.

“He’s growing up finally, leaving the nest,” Shiro said with a fake saddened tone. Wiping away a fake tear, he sniffled.

Ryo cuffed him lightly on the shoulder, “Okay, Drama King, we get it, you’re happy for him but shouldn’t you have warned him?”

“About?”

“What happens if he goes into Brain Drive,” Ryo said seriously. “You already know what happened, because I was there the last time it happened.”

The previous mood dissipated. “Hate to say it, I think he already knows. You don’t get the name Banshee because of his power. Previous circumstances resulted in some…less than desirable outcomes.”

“Does it have to do with an explosion eight years ago?” Miya inquired with a slow realization. “No…”

While a tight-knit group as they are, Hiroki elected to not tell his story as he expressed he’s ashamed of it. Kohana was in the same boat, as was Shiro himself because that was knowledge that would blow their minds.

“So, what happened to Nii-san?” Yes, even Seki didn’t know. The only one who knew the full story about Hiroki was Shiro.

The aforementioned man sighed, “There are only two words I can say that explains it all…”

The words did indeed explain everything and now they wondered how he can still smile like that with the pain they conjured up.

What they didn’t know was how he was still dealing with it.

 


 

Hiroki ran as fast as he fucking could. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like the danger they were in. In his heart, he knew it was because of her but he also knew in his mind that it was because the Extinction Belt is not to be messed with in any capacity.

He knows what it does and he knows what the consequences are. After all, it’s one of his worst nightmares, and he’s fought Others that could crush a few city blocks in a matter of minutes.

The tagalong in his shadow didn’t have to speak to know of his worries. She’s worried for him because of his nightmares. Again, the relationship they have is odd and looks like a boyfriend-girlfriend thing but they are anything but.

{Keep a level head for me, okay?} Kohana said. Hiroki didn’t answer. Even as he started to pass the city of Suoh, he still ran with even strides, all while keeping a steady breathing rhythm.

He didn’t respond as he was too far into his mind to focus, for the first time in a while, he didn’t feel any sort of pain in his head. It felt clear and in his clarity, he had a plan. I’ll have to risk it. I don’t care about repercussions.

He completely ran past Suoh feeling slightly winded but he still pushed on. He could feel Kohana’s growing worry and he could feel Seki trying to reach him. {Kohana, leave.}

{Nuh-uh, not happening. I know what you’re about to do,} she responded, her panic slowly increasing.

{Then understand I’m not about to let it happen again. The last time nearly broke me, and it hurts to think about. I’m not about to let it go down like this when I know I can do something to prevent it. Kohana, please…} he trailed off as a tear left his eye, it landed in his shadow and Kohana felt the pain, the agony, the worried, and the memories. Dear Gods, the memories. 

All from a single tear.

She shouldn’t be able to feel this but that’s a side effect of her power. Shadows have a unique way of telling history. Everything was all piled on at once like a slideshow in just a fraction of a second. No Other could ever produce the reaction that he had.

The shadow jumper pulled on his shadow, forcing him to slow down. {What are you doing?!}

Once he was stopped, she leaped out of his shadow and clung to him. “Why did you never tell me?”

{What?} safe to say, Hiroki was dumbfounded. He didn’t know what she was on about, even as tears trickled down his face.

“You’re really strong, you know? After all that…”

Hiroki pushed her back, {Don’t bring that up. Ever. I’m not ready to talk about it.}

Kohana looked hurt when he pushed her, “Are you ever going to tell me?”

{If I get the same treatment in return. I’ve seen you when you think I don’t, you’ve got skeletons in the closet too, now if you’re done impeding our progress, let’s go.}

The subject was dropped as they continued moving towards the abandoned line. They would revisit this conversation at a later date.

 


 

This day went from normal to dangerous real quick. The white-haired agent had to bring her focus. At first, she was at Sumeragi Tomb, looking for Naomi. Then Haruka had informed her that a deployment and she had to move along. She had recalled that Suoh did used to have a subway system back then but was shut down to…you guessed it, Others. The station is closed off from the public due to the risk of cave-ins.

Hence when she arrived at old Hiraska Station, Shiden and Gemma were there, along with Kyoka and Naomi, whom Kasane immediately stood at her side. The sisters shared a small smile before they were briefed on the situation. Gemma was made temporary platoon leader before he told Naomi to stay behind them as the trio fought off the Others.

Easily enough, fighting through Scummy Pools and Rain Rummys wasn't as exhausting but something was gnawing at her, even as she Brain-Crushed the Rummy before her. Could it be… her thoughts still lingered on them. More specifically, him. H… the only clue besides his moniker. Shaking her head, she had to focus.

"Use my power!" Gemma said.

Kasane's usual indifferent expression morphed into a small shock of fear as she activated Sclerokinesis. The black, accented brown covering morphed over her body as she braced for impact. An Auger Sabbot had come out to play as it tried to impale Kasane upon its horn.

The force still applied sent the young girl flying. She’ll apologize for being distracted later. But first, the wall. Thankfully, with Gemma’s ability, she didn’t feel anything as she impacted the wall. She quickly pulled herself from the wall before activating Electrokinesis. She had to ignore Naomi’s cry of worry for her. Nee-Chan, I’m fine… she mused to herself.

She’ll reassure her after the fight was over. Her style of fighting using throwing knives controlled by her Psychokinesis was graceful as it was deadly. Coated in electricity, she used her ability to send multiple lacerations across the Other’s skin. It sent the electricity through its veins and it allow Shiden a chance to send a higher current through its body.

The Auger Sabbot screeched in pain as something was exposed. It looked like a yellow light bulb connected by tree roots. Kasane glowed in a purple light before grabbing it through her power, slamming it to the floor before grunting in exertion, “Now die,” she said as she ripped the bulb from its perch.

The Other disappeared into red petals as she landed and took a deep breath. “Kasane, are you all right?” Gemma asked. “That was a nasty hit.”

“I’m fine,” she said.

“Looks like you got distracted,” Shiden said.

“If that happens, I’ll be dead,” she retorted. “Where to next, Gemma?”

The buff man opened a terminal and looked it over. Kasane patiently waited, checking behind her for her sister. She could be seen further back. “Same objective, Point Alpha, we’ll be heading to Osukuni Station.”

“Understood.”

The quartet continued along the path but Kasane couldn’t help but feel that something was coming.

 


 

Hiroki—along with Kohana in his shadow—were far past Suoh at this point, mere kilometers away from the abandoned subway. There were multiple entrances but they were caved-in from various incidents.

He vaulted over a wall before hearing the sounds of Others closing in on him. He could see the Extinction Belt hovering closer to the surface. An uncomfortable memory crawled its way out of the hole it was supposed to die, making him stumble a bit in his stride. Luckily, he caught a wall with his hand to hold him upright. {Hiroki?}

{It’s nothing. It’s just a memory.}

Clearly, she didn’t believe him and while she wanted to refute, she couldn’t do that every time. There were moments where she knew that getting involved would make things worse.

The navy-haired man continued to rush forward, mindlessly using his power to get any Others out of his way.

Minutes later, he found himself inside the subway and the traces of battle were evident, judging by the fact that pieces of the wall and other barrels were thrown haphazardly.

That and the messed up train car…

Kohana slipped out of his shadow to speak, “They did a number on this place. Surprised it hasn’t had another cave-in.”

“Let’s go, I hear the sounds of footsteps ahead…”

That turned out to be true when the duo ran into Seto Platoon. Seto, Tsugumi, Kagero, Nagi, Hanabi, and Yuito. Seto was the first to notice them, “Which platoon are you a part of?”

Kohana answered, “Well, we’re not wearing our normal outfits…” Their hoods were up, obscuring most of their faces. Since they weren’t in their white ones, it was easy to catch the meaning.

Seto understood immediately, as did Yuito and Nagi. They knew who was standing before them. They wisely looked away and focused on ahead of them.

“Where’s the rest of them?”

“Catching up, let’s move. I think the Others are getting restless,” Hiroki signed as he kept his composure.

Tsugumi used her power to peer into their minds and what she saw horrified her. How is he…still sane?

Then navy eyes bored in on hers, they were saying to not say anything. Well, to Tsugumi at least. Kagero, however, noticed Tsugumi’s expression turned an inquisitive eye to the newcomers. He didn’t get to say much as they bolted off ahead.

Seto didn’t even bother trying to restrain them because he knew that those two wouldn’t listen. Then he remembered something, “Weren’t they on a mission for the past few weeks? How did they get back so fast?”

If anyone heard him, then they didn’t show it. Instead, they just followed the sounds of Others being mercilessly slaughtered.

“Can we make a rule not to anger them?” Nagi asked.

Kagero scoffed, “That’s already an established rule but what I want to know is what they are really doing here?”

No one answered him. Yuito certainly could guess but the boy was doing what he was assigned to do. He had to admit he was curious as to what made Tsugumi freak out like she has.

Hiroki was on a mission. He had to get up there. He had to get to her. He had to stop it. What does that even mean? How can I stop the Belt? It’s just like the last time. The same situation…

I just hope I’m not too late.

Kohana was doing all she could to keep up with him. She was even jumping from shadow to shadow to assist and keep pace. She didn’t know why he was so determined. At first, she thought it was because of his crush on First Lieutenant Randall. But she was fooling herself if she thought that was the case.

If it wasn’t obvious, Kohana doesn’t know of Hiroki’s past as he’s been—unironically—tight-lipped about it. Granted, she hasn’t shared her past fully with him. The only thing he’s said is that there was a reason why he’s never bothered requesting a different name.

The limited info they do share is treasured between the entire squad. Even if Kohana knows that Shiro is hiding something from Hiroki, she trusts him far too much to ever forcefully talk about it.

Even as they stopped in front of the station, her navy-haired companion’s hands twitched as they reached for the string on his hood. Kohana grabbed his hand as a reflex and before she realized what happened, she was facing a set of navy eyes with a panicked look. This is the most she’s seen Hiroki off-kilter in a while. The last time was when they were first recruited into Shiro’s platoon.

Hiroki shakily let her go before backing up. His breathing was teetering on the edge of freaking out and calming down. It was slightly audible but not to the point where it was forcibly activated. His power is temperamental. {Just…don’t, please. I won’t forgive myself if it happens again.}

“What, Hirochi? What will happen again?” She whispered, still leaning against the wall.

{It can’t. I’ve watched it happen and I had to…}

“You can tell me, come on, we’ve been partners for over a decade. Just let me in, let me help you,” she pleaded with him. 

Hiroki idly notes that this wasn’t the best place to have a heart to heart but he ignored the logical side of his head to focus. {I’ll tell you after…just…let me go do this.}

The seafoam girl nodded before she stepped off the wall and entered his shadow.

With a flick of his hand, his hood went up, the mask now in place. Brain Drive was active. He felt the rush of psionic power rush through his head, filling him with euphoria. Coupled with adrenaline, he felt on top of the world.

What he didn’t hear was his own maniacal laughter.

 


 

Kasane whisked her knives away to hide behind her back. The last few Others had just been cleared and they were finally getting to Point Alpha. Gemma was doing adequately well for being the temporary leader of the Platoon.

Still, she felt something nagging her. It hasn’t gone away, it only increased and something told her that it was concerning her.

Then laughter could be heard. It hurt her ears but she showed no signs of it. Naomi, on the other hand, cupped her ears and winced. Kasane’s overprotectiveness kicked in and walked up to her sister and cupped her hands over her sister’s, {Are you okay?}

{Yes, but Kasane, cover your own ears!} Naomi scolded her but with the slight pout she was sporting, it made it far funnier than it should be. Kasane didn’t laugh but her expression softened considerably.

Then Naomi froze for a moment before speaking, “Others! Above us!”

The ceiling started to creak, {Haruka! Do you read?} Gemma asked. The only response was static before the connection to her closed. “The Extinction Belt is interfering with our comms.” Multiple Others dropped in from the ceiling, screeching all the while. “Naomi, go to Seto Platoon, bring them here!”

Kasane grit her teeth but did not raise a complaint as her knives flourished behind her and cut down a Scummy Pool that tried to spit at her. The next ones to come about were Rat Ruts, their annoying outer shell made it so she had to throw a few more objects.

She easily dispatched them before an Auger Sabbot and Wither Sabbot plunged from the ceiling. She got ready to fight as she heard the laughing, much closer than before. Gemma punched away an Other that was making a move before he turned and his eyes widened just a tad, the old soldier keeping his composure but didn’t want to shout. “Kasane…”

Kasane turned around and was face to face with a mask. This mask, however, was glitching out, clear one second and gone the next. The design was what Yuito’s looked like but then it shifted into what Shiden’s Brain Drive looked like, then it glitched out, forming only eyes and creepily enough, what looked to be a mouth.

 They titled their head at her, and Kasane could only guess at what their expression was. The laughing was gone but a giggle escaped once or twice. “P…ty,” they said. It was like an echo.

She recognized the outfit, despite not being its natural color. But before she could open her mouth, the mask fizzled again and their body language turned angry, bloodthirsty. She was about to start attacking but when she was shoved behind them as they rushed towards the approaching Sabbots, their fists coiled.

“I’ve never seen him get this bad,” a voice that Kasane easily remembered as well spoke. “However, I gotta keep an eye on him and I’ll need your help, kiddo.”

“Lilly…” she breathed.

Smirking beneath her own Brain Drive mask, Lilly in her black version of her outfit, held her hand out over Kasane’s head. “I’m connecting SAS with you. No need to accept.” I probably shouldn’t have let him go into Brain Drive, and I will definitely be wringing it out of Shiro when I’m done.

“But I thought-“

“You may be able to pick up this trick one day, for now, don’t question me,” Lilly said before having the connections flow out of her body. First, she borrowed Kasane’s power, and since she was connected with Gemma, her body was then covered in the colors of sclerokinesis. Coupled with her own power, she was using three different powers via SAS. A feat that only those experienced enough can do. Even then it takes a lot of concentration.

To put it bluntly, it’s like segmenting your brain into partitions. The more powers one activates, the less focus one has. The white-haired girl was floored that she was pulling it off like nothing.

“So this is the power to just throw objects! Girl, you don’t know how much fun you can have!” Lilly shouted in glee as she threw a metal pole and skewered more Scummy Pools. She idly noticed Banshee mercilessly punching a Sabbot and then a Rat Rut.

A few moments later, there was silence and true to form, Banshee was across from Kasane, staring impassively. His Brain Drive had to be fading out by now. True to the word, his mask faded and Kasane saw navy eyes blinking before he was starting to stumble. Lilly caught his side and whispered something. His posture slacked even more.

“Is he…”

“It took a toll but he’ll recover. Now, if this was such a high-priority operation, where the hell are the rest of them?” Lilly growled.

“Kasane!” A familiar voice yelled. She turned to see Yuito and the rest of his platoon. Relief flooded her body as she saw Naomi with them.

What they also saw was another group of five, which the smallest of the five rushed over to the pair. “Nii-san!”

Banshee’s eyes flicked up to see her collide with his torso. His eyes flickered with relief but that was shadowed by pain. His free hand clutched his head. The pain was going down but it was like a throbbing headache that didn't go away. For psionics, headaches are the worst things that can happen

“He’s done it again,” one of the three others said. “It’s made it worse.”

Lilly gently made Kasane support him while she marched right up to her leader. “Well?”

“Well, Lilly?” The man said, his tone guarded.

“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me that him going into this was bad?! You knew and you didn’t do anything to stop him. In fact, you encouraged it!”

{Stop…please…} a voice registered in everyone’s heads. {I didn’t want it to happen again. I've lived through it four times...} At this point, they’ve gathered in the middle of the room. Kasane was still supporting Banshee, and her eyes conveyed her curiosity, almost to a burning point. {You looking at me like that implies something else completely, you’re better off not knowing.} 

She recoiled in surprise to which one of Banshee’s friends cleared his throat. She seemed to be the only one to hear that. She frowned at that, knowing her heart was beating slightly faster than normal. “Someone take him,” she said instead.

Lilly immediately reclaimed her position in supporting him. From the small whispers, she was teasing him about something. The narrowed eyes and the resigned posture also had something to do with it.

Seto cleared his throat, “So what are you doing here? Reports from weeks ago said that you were indisposed.”

“Those were lies, Seto, and you know it,” the leader said. "Once we figured that something was up, we were already on our way back. As for him, what happens is our problem and you are not to look into it unless he himself allows it. Any information you find will be burned, quite possibly with your life." The threat was so casual that it took everyones' brains a second to catch up.

Most notably, Nagi was starting to sweat bullets and it was slowly getting colder in the room. The ice coming off one of the woman's hands was something to take note of. The man who had electricity coming off him was another thing. Both Battery and Hard Place were just waiting.

Seto calmly answered them all, "We understand." A firm declaration that diffused the tension within the room. Banshee finally was able to grasp the concept of standing and slowly detached himself from Lilly to walk over to the rest of his teammates. When he stood in front of Big Brother, he leaned on him, {You of all people know why…}

"I do kid, I know. But did you have to enter Brain Drive?" Big Brother asked, shooting a glance at Kagero, narrowing his eyes. The invisibility-powered psionic just looked away.

"The fact you have to ask knowing what I went through…I'd do it again…even at risk to myself."

The youngest girl there spoke up, “Nii-sama, we need to go.” Her terminal was up, “SDF is closing in. They shouldn’t be here.”

At that moment, the room was completely torn apart. Multiple large Others—thankfully, not Major Others—entered the room. The problem with that is the groups of people have split apart. When the room was falling, Kasane stopped pieces of debris from falling on Naomi, and Yuito in turn saved her from a similar fate. When that happened, Nagi and Naomi were getting overwhelmed.

"Rocky, do it," Big Brother ordered.

A feral grin crossed the man's face, his eyes expressing glee, "Sure thing, sir." The man glowed an earthly brown before the rocks that were in the way sunk into the ground. Sure, it created a hole but the path was open now.

Echo, meanwhile still clung to Banshee, and she was checking on him. His vitals were fine, blood pressure and heart rate normal. Yet, his head persisted. A subtle brain scan found nothing which frustrated the pinkette to no end.

Tsugumi came over and looked once more, "There is…something there…in the Frontal Lobe…and in the Temporal Lobe. Does he…exhibit motor function difficulties?"

"On occasion, so it's unknown what this does to him. The last time he activated Brain Drive was just before he joined us," Echo admitted to herself. At least, the first half. The second was to herself. Come on, Hiroki, just open up. This trauma has had its hold on you for far too long. Echo's mental plea to the one she calls an older brother. {Clear them quickly, then withdraw. The mission is over.}

 


 

Except for the fact that it was clearly not over. Once all of the Others were killed, Kasane immediately looked for Naomi, who crawled up from some loose debris from the fight. The Others didn't stand a chance against thirteen or so psionics. Especially when they could all connect through SAS—except Shiro for personal reasons—as he barely lets his own squad do so.

They were all gathering to check on another over. Banshee still hadn't moved as Echo was furiously typing away. Battery felt the electrical flow in his brain cut in and out, which meant nothing good.

"Naomi!" Kasane cried in relief. The blonde girl froze as her power, Precognition, came in as she saw her sister running to her, her getting shot, and bleeding out in front of her.

Banshee saw the glint of something out of the corner of his eye and saw it. The glint of a barrel. He put the pieces together before anyone else. He wanted to shout but he knew that it wouldn't be coherent. He knew that if he tried to Brain Talk, his head would hurt worse—it already felt like a smoothie anyway. Naomi ran to Kasane and pushed her out of the way.

BANG!

The gun fired and as Kasane was pushed out of the way, Naomi was hit square in the chest and sent to the ground. Banshee's breathing picked up slowly. It's all coming back…no, please, not again!

Naomi slowly stood up, wobbly on her feet, swaying to and fro. Her vision felt like it was splintering, shattering before her eyes. The three platoons present all become wary of what's happening.

"...Naomi?" Kasane's hurt voice reaches her ears. A tear falls from her visage and before it even hits the floor, it happens. Everything has come apart. Everything hurts yet doesn't at the same time.

To everyone else, Naomi's form was losing all of its colors before the sound of creaking glass was heard. Then, Naomi transformed. In front of them was a unique other that no database could ever have. Even Shiro, who has seen all types of Others during his career, doesn't have a name for this.

Banshee himself fidgeted, forcing his body to comply with his demands. It did and he eventually rolled onto all fours. Both Echo and Tsugumi tried to protest but he batted their hands away. I failed once more…am I really worthy of this? Am I worthy to live? I failed my previous squads…I deserved the hate. I deserved the pain. But no one, not her. She doesn't deserve it. I could see the pain in her eyes that she's locked away, yet she doesn't. It's all come back now…

He now felt hollow. All of his teammates prepared for the worst, especially with the shaking form of their teammate. No one was more concerned than Echo and Big Brother. Rocky and Hard Place grit their teeth.

"She was an innocent girl."

Big Brother calmly regarded the situation and said, "Everyone back up, Lilly, grab her and move!" He pointed at Kasane who sunk to her knees. "He's about to let loose."

Banshee was shaking. Brain Drive came back, and it was not going to let him go. His mask came back over and all that could be seen was a glitchy mess. When Tsugumi looked at him, his brain activity was, in a word, scattered.

Once the Other that was Naomi finished appearing, the peace and relative safety of the mission disappeared.

Above the screams, there was only laughter.

The laughter of Ghost on a rampage.