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Following Red Strings

Chapter Text

Kasane blinked awake in her bed. Something was wrong. She could feel it. Something was very wrong. Why had Mother woken her up so late?
“Mother?” Kasane asked, sitting up. She reached for her puppy and then remembered. They killed her puppy. That’s what death looked like.
“Kasane we have to go now…” Mother smiled but it didn’t feel like a smile. Kasane felt herself being sat up, she had her coat wrapped on over her pajamas and multiple socks covering her hands and feet. Something was strange. Why would Mother put so many socks on her? And this was bedtime. Kasane wanted to sleep.
“Are you sure about this?” a man with blond hair asked. Kasane didn’t know who he was, she’d never seen him before.
“Yes… I can’t… I can’t keep letting them hurt her. I have to do something.” Mother said, lifting Kasane into her arms.
“They want to kill you. It might be better to leave the kid and run.”
“No… no I’m taking Kasane with me. I will never abandon my daughter.”
“They’ll never stop looking for her.”
“That’s a chance I’m willing to take. They’ll have to kill me before they have Kasane.”

Kill Mother? Leave her? Kasane didn’t like these strange words… she wanted to close her eyes and pretend this was all a bad dream. Something strange was happening. Kasane wanted to go back to sleep and wake up when everything was normal. Why would anyone be looking for her? What was going on?

“Okay.” The man agreed and did something. “You should be cloaked now. I can get you down the mountain.”
Cloaked? Mountain? Kasane always thought grownups talked weird but this seemed even weirder.
“Mother?” Kasane asked.
“Sssssh we need to be really quiet Kasane. Really quiet.” Mother told her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. Kasane placed her finger on lip, she understood. She was too sleepy to talk anyway.

Mother and the man opened the door and they ran, though the long corridors, passed the other design children all in their masks, though the guardian library. Kasane looked around taking everything in and wondered why no one was saying anything. It was past Kasane’s bedtime. And someone was always watching her and Mother… expect now. Something was different about this time that Kasane didn’t understand.

The looks Mother and the man were giving each other made Kasane feel very scared.

The outside air was cold… no it was freezing. Kasane already felt numb. Yet Mother and the man kept running, though the snow while Kasane shivered in her arms. Kasane wanted to go back home now. Back to Togetsu.

They eventually slowed down but kept walking. Both looking back occasionally. Kasane didn’t like how scary everything was.

Kasane looked in fear at the glowing monsters walking around… none of them lived inside. Kasane wanted to go back away from them now.
“I want to go home.”
“We can’t Kasane… it’s okay, it won’t be much longer.” Mother promised. “Can the Others really not see us?”
“No they’re harmless with invisibility. It’s just the cold we have to worry about.”
“Kasane… she’s freezing…”
“Give her here a minute.” The man offered. Before Kasane could protest that she wanted her Mother, Mother handed her over to him. Kasane was placed inside his cloak, wrapped against his chest with the cloak pulled tight on her. Kasane thought it was like a blanket but it was still cold. The way the wind hurt her cheeks. Even moving her arms and legs had become harder and Kasane could see her breath whenever she talked. Kasane didn’t like this.
“Where are we going?” Kasane asked. It was dark. It was still bedtime.
“To… to Suoh Kasane. We’re going to stay there now.”
“Yeah you’ll like Suoh Kid. It’s really cool, lots of visions everywhere.”
Suoh… Kasane had never heard of it but if Mother said so then Kasane would go. Kasane hoped it wasn’t as cold. She also hoped there was no monsters around in Suoh… she didn’t think she liked them.

The sun was starting to come out when they finally reached the bottom of the mountain. Kasane was exhausted and thought she’d collapse. At least there seemed to be no monsters now.
“This is as far as I can take you…” the man said and handed Kasane back to Mother.
“No, you’ve done more then enough. Thank you…. For everything.”
“Just follow the road, you’ll eventually find the highway. It’s pretty easy after that, or if you get lucky you’ll just see an OSF patrol.”
“I think we can manage.”
“You sure about this? Seems like a big risk.”
“I’m… I’m hoping in exchange for information the Suoh government will give us sanctuary. I haven’t thought about what I would do if they haven’t.” Mother admitted. Kasane thought Mother looked sad then… she wasn’t sure about this Suoh government for making Mother sad. Whatever sanctuary was Kasane hoped Mother got it.
“They will. Been trying to deal with Togetsu for years. They’ll eat it up.” The man smiled, waved goodbye and headed back up the mountain. Kasane looked at her Mother.

“Come on, we’re almost at our new home.” Mother smiled and began walking on the path.
“I’m tired.”
“We’ll sleep soon… I promise.”

Mother continued walking, the sun was slowly peaking out as the sky was getting bluer. Kasane had never missed bedtime before. At least it wasn’t as cold now… Kasane hoped she never had to see that mountain again. But there seemed to be monsters everywhere. Kasane didn’t like this.

Mother couched her down by an abandoned car… the thick rust over time scratched at Kasane as they pressed up against it. Strange standing monsters like on the mountains and a large one with four legs and antlers that Kasane had never seen before, blocked their path.
“Mother I want to go home.”
“Ssssh Kasane… we need to be quiet.” Mother urged, cradling Kasane to her once more. One of the monsters was getting closer. Kasane closed her eyes, terrified. She moved the car then… she didn’t mean too. She just wanted the monster to go away. The car slid across the ground and moved into the monster, making it turn to red petals that disappeared.

But now all the monsters knew they were hiding. They’d found them.

“It’s okay, it’s okay Kasane.” Mother gripped her tighter and tried moving back. Kasane closed her eyes, everything was so scary. She didn’t want this. The large antler monster knocked at her Mother, sending her to the ground and Kasane out of her arms. Kasane hit the ground with a thud and rolled, her arm and head hurt. Kasane blinked back tears as two of the strange people monsters were going towards her. Kasane knew she couldn’t reach Mother.

Kasane thought she might die. Like her puppy.

Then a large axe swung to the ground, cutting at the monsters and turning them into red petals. A woman stood in front of her and held the axe in her arms.
“I got the kid!” she yelled.
Two more women, maybe her sisters, leaped though the air, the one was flying and moved around the antlers of the monster. The other moved on the ground, erupting in flames around her before slamming them into the monster. The one standing in front of her looked back and gave Kasane a smile, before pouring acid from her hands and melting the last monsters. Her friends swarmed the large one, with the flying one bringing down her spear straight into the monster’s back and turning it into the red petals.

Everything had happened so fast Kasane wasn’t even sure what she saw. It was a blur as these warrior women made the monsters go away.
The woman let her axe fall and lifted Kasane up.
“I don’t think she’s hurt.” She told the others. “What’s your name?”
“Kasane.” Kasane looked towards her mother, the flame woman was giving her some shiney green pieces and helping her to her feet.
“I’m Calla. This my platoon… Sakura and Misa.” Calla replied. Kasane wasn’t sure she knew what a platoon was… she’d never heard that word before.
“What are you both doing out here? It’s really dangerous!” the flame woman, Misa asked.
“My name is Wakana… this is my daughter Kasane. We’re fleeing from Togetsu, it is… it is no longer safe for us there. I was hoping we could find sanctuary in Suoh.”
“Togetsu huh? The moon people?” Sakura asked.
“I’ll message Kai and let him know we’re heading back. Come on, we can get you to Suoh… and then my new little friend something yummy to eat?” Calla said holding Kasane on her hip.
“Yeah it’s better if you stick with us.” Misa agreed with a bounce to her step.
“Thank you… you are all very kind. Are you soldiers?” Mother asked.
“Sorta. We’re OSF.” Misa replied.
“We were just on patrol when saw you. Lucky we did! Those were some nasty Others you got caught up in the middle off.” Sakura commented. Others? Were those the monsters Kasane asked.

It seemed like hours until they reached the strange place called Suoh, that seemed so different to home. There were no monsters and no snow, people walked in and out of the buildings and shining images appeared everywhere.

They reached one building, which was the tallest that Kasane had ever seen, where Sakura and Misa left but she stayed with Calla. Mother went to speak with a man and left Kasane on a chair in the hallway. Calla had brought her apple slices and crackers to eat, and a juice box while they waited.
“You must have been really hungry.”
“Yes.” Kasane replied.
“Don’t worry, it’s a new Chairman but he’s a good one. Really kind. He’ll take good care of you and Mama.”
“Mother.” Kasane corrected. Calla laughed at that and messed with her hair. Kasane wasn’t sure what was funny but she decided that she liked Calla. She was nicer then anyone had been at Togetsu.
“Here why don’t you keep this?” Calla offered a keychain off her belt. It was a black plush dragon, covered in rainbow speckles with soft wings.
“It’s mine?”
“Yeah, cause you were really brave today. It can be your first friend in your new home.”
“Thank you.” Kasane replied and hold her plush dragon in her hand, stroking the wings with her thumb. She wasn’t often allowed nice things at Togetsu, and whenever she did someone always took it away and broke it. Like when they had taken her puppy and killed him.
“You got nothing to be scared of now. Because you’re a dragon. Be a dragon.” Calla told her, looking right in Kasane’s eyes. Kasane thought it was a strange message but she liked her new toy.
“Okay, I’ll be a dragon.”

“Kasane… how are you?” Mother asked, stepping out off the room.
“I’m okay.”
“Chairman.” Calla gave a nod towards the man and flashed a smile.
“Kasane… this is Chairman Sumeragi. He’s going to take us somewhere we can have a wash and get a good sleep okay? Say thank you.”
“Thank you Chairman Su-… Sumagi.” Kasane repeated the best she could.
“You can just call me Joe, Kasane. I have a son about your age, I think.”

Chapter Text

It was strange. This was supposed to be an honour, but it didn't feel like it. It felt like a nuisance and gave too much attention.

“So you’re a Septentrion now,” Shiden remarked, leaning against the wall.
“It seems like it,” Kasane replied. Shiden’s eyes showed a flash of something Kasane couldn’t quite place.
“You better not go around thinking you’re better than me!”
“I don’t.”
“Good! Because this changes nothing… you may have surpassed me, but I’ll catch up! There’s nothing different about you and me when it comes down to it!” Shiden snapped. Oh, that was it. Kasane and Shiden had always been rivals. Kasane had become a captain and platoon leader first and now they reached the coveted title of Septentrion.
“I see you the same as always.”
“I don’t care what you see me as!” Shiden stormed off then. They wondered what they did wrong this time, trying to analyse their interactions. It was hard for Kasane to talk to people.

Kasane sighed and thought about going after him. Kaito then shoved Kasane in front of the Crows and reporters. Kasane had been dreading this moment.
“We are proud to recognize our newest Septentrion, seventh class… Captain Kasane Mikami. The OSF is very pleased with them.” Kaito smiled at the crows. There was no mention of how they shared a brother or how Kasane had lived with Joe Sumeragi longer than their mother, or how Mother had raised Kaito as if he was her own, Kasane noticed. It was for the best, Kasane decided. The quicker they finish this, the better.
Kasane said nothing, not even smiling at the camera. This all seemed so pointless to them.
“Kasane, perhaps you’d like to say a few words.” Kaito pressed.
“Not really,” Kasane replied.
“Yes, well… I’m sure you’re very busy.” Kaito replied.
They never knew what to say. And the lights the Crows gave off hurt their head, making it hard to focus.
“Kasane, have the Other Septentrions welcomed you into their ranks or congratulated you yet?” a reporter asked.
“Kasane, what will your patrols look like now you have taken on more responsibility?”
“Will you be leading your own platoon?”
“Will this affect your ranking?”
“No further questions,” Kasane replied and walked out of the Crows’ reach. They knew Kaito would say something, but they didn't care.

“Oh, dear… did those Crows pester you already?” Alice asked with a smile, standing next to Arashi. Alice was Septentrion Third Class, though Kasane knew her from bringing her niece over for play dates with Yuito. Alice had also been the first one to congratulate Kasane on their upcoming induction to the Septentrions.
“At least it wasn’t me in front of a camera for once,” Arashi shrugged.
“It was nothing.”
“They really are such a drag.”
“Arashi, you’re head of PR.” Alice reminded her.
“Yeah, yeah, who said I had to like it?”
“If that’s true, why not just quit?” Kasane asked.
“Believe me, I would if I could.”
“Oh, Arashi.” Alice scolded her before turning back to Kasane. “Don’t worry too much. They’ll find something new to discuss in a couple of weeks. You know how these Crows are.”
“Thank you. I should go now.” Kasane didn’t wait for goodbye and walked past them, trying to catch up to a leaving Shiden. It seemed everyone wanted to talk to them now except the one person Kasane wanted to speak to.

“Shiden,” Kasane said after catching up to him, heading down to the OSF training floor.
“Save it Kasane. I don’t want to hear anything from you.” Shiden snapped and kept walking away.
“Okay. I won’t say anything.”
“All my life, all my life, I’ve been trying to reach Septentrion level and you come along and beat me again! And you don’t even appreciate it. This is nothing to you! It’s so wasted!”
“I thought you didn’t want me to say anything?” Kasane asked.
“UGH, there you go again! You’re so annoying!”
“What did I say that was annoying?”
“Just get lost Kasane. I’m done with this!”
“Fine.” Kasane snapped back and watched Shiden walk away. Kasane knew the Septentrions meant a lot to Shiden, especially Seto… who Kasane admitted to having a small brief romance many years ago, but they hadn’t asked for this. Septentrions were just public figures and the opposite of what Kasane wanted. And they were sure Kaito wouldn’t have pulled strings to make it happen. He didn’t acknowledge their existence now that Kasane was no longer living in the same house. If it wasn’t for Yuito, Kasane doubted he’d ever still speak to them… Joe checked in from time to time, but Kasane knew her family was Yuito now that Mother was dead.

Things hadn't gone well with Shiden, so Kasane was unsure what to do. They couldn’t train with Shiden going that way and going on patrol would mean passing the Crows again. Perhaps Arashi had some Crow coping methods they could use. Kasane rubbed the wings of the dragon keychain given to them as a child. Old and faded, and unpractical in battle, but Kasane found stimming on it useful. Between Shiden’s outbursts and the Crows’ interference, Kasane needed to stim on something.

“Such a big day for you, isn’t it little Kasane?” Kodama’s voice rang through her ears.
“Everyone wants to talk today.”
“I just know Master Fubuki is so proud of you.”
“I don’t know why you call the Major General that.”
“My, my Kasane, don’t be such a jealous little thing. You’re a Septentrion now.” Kodama let out a giggle. Kasane wished she wasn’t in one of those moods. She was even more annoying.
“I heard from Master Fubuki that little Yuito just volunteered for the OSF. Isn’t that exciting? I wonder if he’ll be in my platoon one day. There is space now.” Kodama continued. Kasane felt their blood boil over. Even if Yuito’s joining was true, they’d make sure that he was nowhere near Kodama. Even if they had to fight, both Karen and Fubuki themselves. Kasane would fight the whole OSF if they had to, to keep Yuito far away from Kodama’s clutches.
“I’m leaving now,” Kasane replied and turned on their heel. Kodama reached forward and grabbed their wrist, but Kasane yanked it away and kept walking. Was Yuito joining the OSF? He’d said nothing when they had last seen him… Kaito had also failed to mention it. Kasane wondered if there was any truth to Kodama’s taunts.

Kasane made her way up to Kaito’s office… though as they got there, they wondered if Joe would have been better. Yes, Kaito was the chief of the OSF now, but Joe would have been more likely to give them answers. Joe always seemed willing to at least talk to Kasane, though they had never gotten on well with Kaito, even as children.

As they approached the door, Major General Karen was storming out with a fire in his eyes. Kasane wondered what had angered him so much. Not that they had time to focus on it, walking past Karen and bursting into the office without care.
“You had your time to talk to the Crows,” Kaito replied, not looking up from his desk.
“This isn’t about the Crows.”
“Then what do you what? You can’t just walk in here like you own the place.”
“Did Yuito really volunteer for the OSF?” Kasane demanded. Why had no one told them? The OSF was dangerous… the idea of Yuito being there in any danger…
“That’s hardly any of your concern.”
“He’s my brother too.” Kasane pointed out. They’d worked hard to prevent him from being scouted, which was easy, given that he was Joe Sumeragi’s son.
“Yuito’s always been interested. You should know, it’s your fault.”
“Are you suggesting I should have let that Other kill him that day?” Kasane asked, letting their psychokinesis float their three knives, aiming them in the air above Kaito. That was the day they had lost Mother and almost lost Yuito, too. It was not a day that Kasane liked to think about.
“Of course, I’m not suggesting it would have been better for Yuito to have died. Need I remind you, you’re not a true Sumeragi - your ties to the family ended when your Mother died. If I were you, I’d remember your gratitude to the Sumeragi family and recall your knives.” Kaito narrowed his eyes at them. Kasane sighed. Yuito wouldn’t want Kaito hurt. Yuito had always adored both of his older siblings and gotten well with both. Kasane brought their knives back to their side and stared at Kaito right back, not backing down on this.
“If you must know, I don’t approve of this decision either. Yuito has much more important responsibilities to the Sumeragi name than playing OSF soldier.”
“I want Yuito to be kept safe,” Kasane demanded.
“I want him safe too, Kasane. As you pointed out earlier… he’s not just your brother. He’s mine as well.”

Kasane turned on their heel and left without another word. Yes, despite what differences they always had with Kaito, Kasane had hoped that Kaito still cared for their brother… though Kasane hadn’t always been sure. Especially after Yuito went to that hospital for being a dud, despite Kasane’s best protests. Kaito had said nothing then. A part of them still hoped it was Yuito’s safety that Kaito was concerned about, not some delusions of responsibilities that Yuito owned him simply for sharing the same name.

Whatever those responsibilities were, Kasane would not have Yuito following them blindly just because Kaito wanted him to.

Kasane knew talking to Kaito about it was pointless, at least. They needed to speak to Yuito. Many OSF soldiers lived long lives and careers, finishing their service into retirement… perhaps Kasane could find some way to ensure that was Yuito.

Kasane made their way to the OSF school, a small section built into the main building, where they housed and trained OSF cadets. Kasane had spent years in that building when they were first scouted at twelve, though they never imagined they’d be back… at least to see their younger brother. Of course, Yuito was on the opposite side Kasane had been. Kasane had been a scout while Yuito would be with the volunteers… Kasane never understood why they trained separately. It was all the same class in the end.

Kasane had no trouble making their way through, catching the end of a training class likely getting all the volunteers up to speed. Kasane looked around, taking in all the cadets trying to find Yuito.
“Kasane! I didn’t know you were coming!” Yuito said, catching Kasane’s attention. Next to him was a cadet about his age, if not a little shorter than him.
“Wow! You know Septentrion Seventh Class Yuito?”
“Yeah, Kasane’s my sister,” Yuito explained to his friend.
“Yuito… so you heard then,” Kasane replied.
“Yeah, we watched the announcement!” his friend bounced on his feet. Kasane supposed small children often found the ranking to be something to be admired, though as far as Kasane could tell it meant little other than recognizing their so-called skill. Shiden was usually the same.
“Oh Kasane, this is Nagi Karmen. He’s my friend.” Yuito introduced the boy. Kasane made a note that they should look into Nagi if Yuito was going to spend his time around him. A background should reveal what Kasane needed to know.
“Hi, Kasane… or uh… Captain Kasane.”
“Just Kasane is fine. We don’t use titles much in the OSF. Yuito, you didn’t mention you would join the OSF.”
“Well… I talked about wanting to be like you a lot.”
“That’s not the same as volunteering.” Kasane countered.
“I knew you wouldn’t be happy… I disappointed Kaito and Dad too.”
“No. I’m not disappointed, just concerned. It’s my job to protect you.” Kasane declared.
“Wow Yuito, you have a Septentrion looking out for you,” Nagi said, impressed.
“Kasane’s always been like that… she’s the whole reason I wanted to join the OSF. When I was little, I ended up in the middle of an Other attack. It would have killed me if Kasane hadn’t saved me in time.” Yuito said, recalling the time in Loboshu at the old OSF hospital. That was the day Mother died. It wasn’t something Kasane liked to dwell on, though it seemed the day wouldn’t allow that. This was the second time someone had caused them to remember.
“It was nothing.” Kasane dismissed. “I was just doing my job.”
“Still… I’ve wanted to be in the OSF ever since.”
“So Kasane, your dad must have been sad too that you didn’t decide to become a politician,” Nagi commented. Yuito must have already felt comfortable enough to reveal the exceptions placed on him, even as a second born, Kasane noted. Yuito and Nagi were close then, it seems.
“Actually, I am only Chairman Sumeragi’s stepchild, so I don’t count as a member of the Sumeragi family,” Kasane replied.
“Kasane, don’t say that! You know I consider you family.” Yuito protested.
“Yes, we’re still siblings. I think I’ll go talk to your instructor now.” Kasane decided.
“What? Why?” Yuito asked.
“To make sure you’re safe. I’ll also be running a background check on Nagi.”
“A background check? On me? Is that really necessary?” Nagi looked worried. Good, Kasane decided.
“Yes.” Kasane turned on their heel, letting the boys talk among themselves and started looking for the instructor.

It didn’t take long for Kasane to find them, standing at the front looking over some data from the training. Kasane didn’t recognize them, but they doubted that would be a problem. Yuito would have two years before he was in the field, but sometimes training excuses could be rough.
“Oh, Kasane… what brings you down here?” He asked.
“Yuito. If he gets one scratch on him, I’ll make you regret it.”
“Now, now… Yuito is a capable student. Strongest in the class, even.”
“You’ll protect him. You’ll keep him from any harm.” Kasane demanded. They were close to tearing this place down, but that wouldn’t be fair. Yuito had chosen this for himself. He’d wanted to be in the OSF for so long, even if everyone had hoped he’d grow out of those dreams.
“I’ll protect him.” The instructor promised. Kasane wasn’t sure it was enough.
“I’ll be keeping a close eye on my brother. I have entrusted you with something precious to me.” Kasane looked over at Yuito then, he was laughing about something with Nagi… he seemed happy and safe. Kasane would fight to ensure it stayed like that.

Kasane left without a word, touching Yuito’s shoulder on their way out to let him know they were leaving him to his training now.

Kasane’s mind was a mess of all the things that could go wrong now. Yuito was in the OSF. Yes, it was his choice, and Kasane wouldn’t stand in the way of his choice, but the idea of Yuito getting hurt was not something they wanted to entertain. Kasane had been a private themselves in their first platoon when they watched someone only a year old get killed in battle. Kasane knew better than anyone just how dangerous those Others could be.

Kasane wanted the same thing as Kaito for once, that Yuito had gone into politics like the rest of his family. No Kasane decided Yuito had always been too good for that. Their time in the OSF had shown them a darker side to New Himuka, though no one said anything.

“Kasane, I want to talk to you!” Shiden demanded.
“Not now Shiden.” Kasane continued walking.
“W-what?! You’re not evening listening to me! Just because you’re a Septentrion now doesn’t mean you can go around ignoring people!”
Kasane wasn’t paying attention… they’d deal with Shiden later. Right now all Kasane could think about was Yuito… Yuito joining the OSF and possibility being in danger. That and if Yuito’s friends could have nefarious ideas… Yuito was a Sumeragi. There could be many people intending to use Yuito for status and recognition. Kasane had always kept a close on Yuito’s friends because of it… even Hanabi.
Kasane wasn’t sure they’d be able to pick up on the right social cues and formalities to ensure that no one was using Yuito in the OSF hoping to climb ranks - their friend Noami might help them with that, though. Noami was always understanding and patient with Kasane and their social situations.
“KASANE!” Shiden seethed. Oh, he seemed mad, Kasane realised. Kasane knew they should have been paying more attention to him.
“I wasn’t listening,” Kasane admitted.
“Wh-what?! What is the matter with you?”
“I was thinking about Yuito.”
“O-oh… right. He joined the OSF… as a volunteer.” Shiden said with a sneer. Kasane glared at him then, a flash of anger in their eyes.
“Look, you got nothing to worry about. Yuito’s strong right? And he’s just in training.” Shiden reasoned, their conversation long forgotten now.
“I suppose you’re right. I think I’ll talk to Kaito.” Kasane turned, but Shiden grabbed their arm.
“Are you crazy? Look! It’s just OSF school… you’re a Septentrion now. When he’s ready, you can just place him in your platoon. Chief Kaito doesn’t even like you. Storming in there is just going to piss him off.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Kasane agreed. Shiden made some sense, even for him… Kaito wasn’t exactly happy the first time Kasane had gone in there. And what could Kaito even do? They could easily convince Fubuki or Karen to place him under their platoon. They could protect Yuito if he was in their platoon.

No, Kasane was sure of it… they just needed Yuito to be placed in the same platoon as them. Then Kasane would do what they had always done, protect Yuito no matter what. Kasane could let Suoh burn to the ground before anything harmed Yuito. As a child, they remembered being told to be a dragon. Kasane had never understood that message or even taken the advice… but now they understood. What were dragons, if not protectors? Or destructive forces of nature? Kasane could be that for Yuito… if he was to be OSF, then they’d be his protector.
“I’m always right.” Shiden quipped.
“No, you’re not.”
“Wh-what? That’s the thanks I get? From stopping you from doing something stupid?”
“You were just right this time. Once Yuito is in my platoon, I can keep him safe.” Kasane reaffirmed.
“You always get so blindsided when it comes to your brother.”
“I’m his older sibling. That’s how it’s supposed to be.” Kasane countered.

Chapter Text

Kasane found themselves alone. Everywhere was dark. Kasane dreaded this place.
“Follow the red strings… don’t let go of the red strings.”
That was Mother’s voice. No matter how many years had passed since their mother’s death, Kasane always recognised her face.

Kasane turned, wandering down the path lit up by red flowers. Kasane wasn’t sure what they were called and never cared to find out. In front of them was a large red dragon, one Kasane had seen many times, made up of countless red strings.
“Be a dragon.”
Kasane frowned at that one; was it Calla? The OSF soldier that had waited with them all those years ago. Kasane had not thought about Calla in years, though they always remembered her advice.

Kasane kept walking, following the dragon through the flowers.
Kasane’s blood stilled. That was Yuito’s voice. Kasane ran towards his voice, hoping to find him.
“Follow the red strings… don’t let go of the red strings.”
“Be a dragon.”

Kasane gasped as the red dragon stopped in front of them. Everything faded, and the voices stopped. Kasane touched the nose of the dragon with their hand and watched as it dissolved into a thousand red strings.

Kasane woke up back in their bedroom and pushed the sheets off.
“That dream again,” Kasane muttered aloud, more annoyed than anything. It was an irritating inconvenience since Kasane was a child to have realistic or vivid dreams about the Chronos Terminal. Kasane had only used the time travel a handful of times, but they saw the Chronos Terminal most nights.

Kasane stood in front of what would make up Kasane Platoon - a little inexperienced, with three of them being from Yuito’s class. Now sixteen and ready to join the ranks of the OSF after years of training.

“I’m Captain Kasane Mikami, leader of this platoon. My power is psychokinesis. Introduce yourselves quickly, then we can go on guard duty.” Kasane informed them. That wasn’t true, but Joe had been insistent that Kasane hide their gravikinesis as psychokinesis and Kasane never fought him on it.
“Kasane! We should all be making friends here… what will the rookies think of us?” Noami asked with a smile. They’d thought side by side with Noami for a while now - she really was better at this side of things.
“I’m Noami! My power is precognition. I can see up to a few seconds ahead, making it useful against incoming Other ambushes.”
“I’m not here to babysit anyone, so don’t get any ideas! I’m Shiden Ritter, my power is electrokinesis… the same as Captain Seto’s. Don’t expect me to be picking up the slack against any rookies - especially not volunteer rookies.” Shiden spat out.
“Do you have a problem with my brother volunteering, Shiden?” Kasane felt anger rise in them as they stepped forward, coming face to face with Shiden, the energy from their gravikinesis radiating.
“I was just saying-“
“Saying what exactly?”
“Okay, you two! Calm down! Shiden, you’re not being very nice.” Noami stepped in, standing between Shiden and Kasane. Shiden scoffed and folded his arms, and Kasane let it slide and turned around. Yuito looked embarrassed, and Nagi and Hanabi looked… was that concern? Hmm, maybe not the best first impression Kasane realised.
“Let’s just continue.”

“Okay… I’ll go next. I’m Yuito Sumeragi… most of you should know I’m Kasane’s brother and we have the same power. They actually saved me as a child. I’ll do my best to repay that debt.” Yuito answered, easing the tension in the room with a smile. They might have the same power, but they were also complete opposites. Kasane could never ease the tension like that.
“And I’m Hanabi Ichijo! My power is pyrokinesis. Happy to be here!”
“Nagi Karmen. My power is air manipulation… it was always my dream to be in the OSF. I’m honoured to serve under Septentrion Seventh Class Kasane Mikami.”
Aerokinesis Kasane corrected in their mind, though it made little difference. It meant the same thing, anyway.
“You don’t need to call me that. No one actually cares about titles and ranks.”
“I guess I’m last? I’m Haruka Frazer. My power is telepathy. Nice to meet all of you!”
“Good, now that’s out of the way. We can begin our assignment. We’re going to Kikuchiba, you should all have the coordinates. Take some time to make sure you have everything you need and head over… I won’t wait if you’re late.” Kasane dismissed everyone.

“Kasane!” Noami chased over them as they walked off, sending their mission status as they did.
“Oh, hey Noami.”
“You did great out there! I know things started off rocky, but I think everyone’s going to get along great.”
“We’ll see.” Kasane knew it wasn’t a secret that they and Shiden often fought even if they worked well together, but at least Noami was hopeful for how this platoon would turn out.
“I mean it! And try not to worry - I’m sure Yuito will be fine.”
“I didn’t say I was worried.”
“No, but I know you, Kasane.” Noami replied.
“We have an assignment to get to.” Kasane rolled their eyes, pocketed some light jelly and secured the three of their knives eager to be out in the field. Introductions had already taken up their time.

Be a dragon, Kasane thought in their head - now would be the time to use that advice and protect Yuito.

Guard duty in Kikuchiba seemed simple enough. The constant uphill of the city could double as a workout and the Others that crawled this place would give Kasane a good sense of where the rookies stood and what their weaknesses were.

“We’ll go in pairs. Yuito, you’re with me. Shiden, Hanabi and Noami, Nagi. We’ll stay in touch via brain talk. If there're no questions, connect your SAS and let’s move out.”
“Wait, Kasane… Haruka isn’t here yet. Shouldn’t we wait for her?” Yuito asked.
“Haruka’s our operator. She’ll support us from Suoh.” Kasane explained.
“With my power telepathy I can communicate by the 500 meters, but it’s a lot easier with psynet. I’ll just be around keeping an eye on things, jamming the signal for the Crows, and offering support where I can! Yuito, Hanabi, Nagi please open your ports.” Haruka answered.
“Okay, Kasane… everyone’s connected.”
“Let’s go.” Kasane dismissed.
“You better not slow me down, rookie!” Shiden snapped at Hanabi. Kasane almost felt bad, even if Hanabi had been the best option given her scouted status. Not that it seemed to help much.
“Shiden, be nice. We’ll all on the same team now.” Noami lightly scolded him before taking off with Nagi.

Kasane made their way with Yuito, following up the sub-basement level of Kikuchiba that was mostly indoors. Kasane remembered when there was life in this city, now it was merely a shadow.

“There.” Kasane indicted, seeing a group of kitchen rummies together. Kasane focused, moving an abandoned crate and hurling into the group as they scattered.
“Careful, those use fire attacks. You don’t want to get hurt.” Haruka said over brain talk. Kasane jumped into the air and used gravikinesis to control their knives, throwing all six into one of the kitchen rummies, cutting deep into its skin until it burst into nothing but red particles as Kasane landed gracefully on their feet.
“Die!” Kasane commanded, pulling at the weakness until it exploded.

Kasane turned, noticing Yuito. If any of them harmed him, they’d bring the entire building down. Yuito flung his sword out into a circle, cutting at two of them at the same time before catching it in his hand and doing this twice. Satisfied Yuito could handle the Others, Kasane jumped back into the air again, slamming down on a rummy with all their force, making sure the daggers cut deep as they did. Kasane could see Yuito leap back at the corner of their eye, before using the familiar pull of gravikinesis as a crate crushed down on top of the kitchen rummy and sending the last of them into harmless particles.

“Impressive Yuito. You got good instincts.” Kasane replied, looking him over. Good, no signs of visible injuries, Kasane thought.
“Thanks, Kasane! It’s always good to get a compliment from you.”
“I’m not that harsh, am I?”
“No, not like that! I just mean… you’re always sincere with them. You don’t say something for the sake of it.” Yuito rushed to explain himself. It was one of their shared traits, the way both struggled to express themselves and often ended up miscommunicating their thoughts.
“That makes sense.”

“Is everyone okay?” Kasane asked as they made their way through the sub-level with Yuito, following even more steps.
“I don’t need you checking in on me like I’m some little kid, Kasane!” Shiden snapped back. Kasane simply rolled their eyes at Shiden’s outburst.
“You’re acting like one,” Kasane replied.
“Well, you are.”
“Just because I wanted to get out of Kodama platoon doesn’t mean I have to sit there and listen to you, Kasane!” Shiden snapped back.
“Everything’s okay here, Kasane!” Hanabi finished quickly, trying to defuse the situation between Kasane and Shiden.
“Nagi and I are doing fine too… it’s actually fun to see some new faces.” Noami added.
“Keep it up.” Kasane answered.
“It’s good that everything is going well, right?” Yuito asked with a bright smile.
“Yes.” Kasane agreed.

Kasane reached the middle levels just as Kikuchiba was out in the open. Between the abandoned shops stood Doppel Pools in a large group.
“Yuito,” Kasane warned before jumping into the air and throwing down all their knives at once, scattering them around, taking as many as possible. Yuito ran up towards the stragglers as Kasane landed on their feet, using his sword to make heavy strikes, scattering them into the red particles that never lasted long.

“We’re getting close to the goal area,” Kasane said, making their way through the streets.
“Since we got a minute… could we talk?” Yuito asked.
“What about?”
“I never got a chance to tell you I’m really happy they placed me in your platoon.”
“It’s not like it was luck. I made it happen.” Kasane admitted. They’d stormed into Fubuki and Karen’s office and demanded it before Yuito had even graduated. Fubuki had been more accommodating than Karen.
“Oh, you asked for me? Well, then I hope I don’t disappoint you.”
“You could never,” Kasane answered sincerely. Kasane didn’t share the same high expectations as Yuito that Kaito did; her step-brother was too much like Joe in all the worst ways but shared none of the good traits.
“Even though you asked for me… it seems like it worked out, you know. I’ve been trying to be like you ever since I was a little kid, since that day you saved me. You didn’t even hesitate. And now I get to learn from the person who made me want to join the OSF. I want to be someone that saves people.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal. I’d fought Others before that, but I appreciate the sentiment.” Kasane told him, though it was only a half-truth. Yes, they’d fought Others, but in those moments of watching Yuito on the ground near that thing, Kasane had never been more afraid and felt everything in their being still.
“Yeah, I know, you were already OSF but still… it changed my life. And being with Hanabi and Nagi is also cool.”

“Others,” Kasane announced, running up to a large Wither Sabbat and leaping into the air, pulling everything toward them with gravikinesis and hurling it at the Wither. It roared and got knocked to the ground.
“The enemy is stunned. Now’s your chance!” Haruka urged. Yuito ran up to the fallen thing, dropping a car on it, exposing its weakness. The core of the Other light bulb.
“Let’s finish this.” Kasane used gravikinesis, pulling at it away from the body sending the Other into red particles.

“Kasane, a Major Other is going to reach the point in ten seconds. Nagi and I are already here.” Noami warned over brain talk.
“What?” Nagi asked. He sounded nervous and with good reason.
“Hold out until we get there. I’m on my way. Shiden, Hanabi double time to the point.” Kasane ordered.
“Finally, some real action.”
“You’ve always been all bark with no bite, Shiden.” Kasane shot back and hurried towards the steps. Noami was strong, and good at using her power to avoid danger - it was almost impossible to get a hit on her with her accuracy, but Nagi might be different. He was still just a rookie and Major Others had taken out more experienced OSF before. Kasane needed to be quick.

They reached the construction work quickly. Noami wove herself between blows easy enough, easily seeing where the large Gunkin Perry would strike. Between blows, Noami used her sais to make deep cuts at the Gunkin.
“Kasane! You’re here! Shiden is incoming.” Noami announced.
“Nagi stand back,” Kasane ordered, watching as Yuito run across to reach Nagi, who was using his aerokinesis to send tornados and his chakrams at the Other.

Kasane jumped into the air, tapping into Yuito via SAS, strengthening their own gravikinesis and pulling all the construction work around them, throwing it down on the Gunkin Perry currently banging its limps on the floor. The force of everything shattered the glass sphere, holding the oil it produced into its fur.
“Wow,” Nagi said.
Kasane landed on the ground throwing all six of their knives at the Gunkin Perry, running towards it and pulling at its core with their gravikinesis until it exploded into nothing but red particles.
“Kasane! Are you okay?” Yuito asked.
“I’m fine, but I appreciate your concern.”

Shiden and Hanabi run up the ramp to the top of the construction.
“Oh thank goodness, everyone’s okay!” Hanabi exclaimed.
“Typical. Little Miss Mikami took all the best shots.” Shiden sneered. Kasane rolled her eyes.
“Oh, no… I’m sorry, the Crows found you.” Haruka announced over brain talk. Great, Kasane thought, annoyed.
“Kasane Mikami… newly a Septentrion and already taking down a Major Other! High command must think highly of you. A new Septentrion and with Yuito Sumeragi in your platoon.” The Crow spoke, while three more flashed in their face. Kasane felt themselves becoming overwhelmed.
“You’d have to ask them.” Kasane brushed it aside. “But for now, Shiden might be better at answering your questions. He did most of the work.” Kasane pushed Shiden in front of the Crows, not really caring that he’d reached the point after the fighting.
“Wh-what?!” Shiden stammered as they swarmed him. Kasane walked off from the camera’s view, relieved.
“Poor Shiden, that doesn’t look fun.” Hanabi sympathised. It really wasn’t, Kasane thought.

“Yeah, sorry… that’s probably my fault.” Arashi leaned against a pillar. Kasane wasn’t sure when she arrived, but Arashi always was fast when she wanted to be.
“It’s fine. It’s just something I have to get used to.” Kasane replied. Kasane found themselves drawn to Arashi in a way they couldn’t explain. Being near Arashi made them feel hot and caused their chest to tighten, and everything was more alert to things.
“I’ll take them off your hands.”
“That’s unlike you.”
“Don’t get used to it. Kodama just gets really moody if there're no Crows around. Probably the only reason she still wants me in her platoon.”
“I’m sure being Major General Fubuki’s sister helps.”
“That too.” Arashi smiled. It caught in Kasane’s being and made them lose the ability to think briefly. Kasane watched Arashi go up to the Crows, smiling away in front of Shiden and making up a lie about looking forward to seeing them there. Kodama hadn’t changed at least… though Kasane was sure she was holding a grudge against Kasane for “stealing” Shiden and not letting Yuito near her platoon.
“Come on. We’re heading back to Suoh.” Kasane ordered as Arashi faded off into the distance.

They reached Suoh in a little over thirty minutes. Thankfully, the only one hurt was Shiden’s pride. At least Yuito had been safe. That was all Kasane cared about right now.

“I don’t need all of you to make a report. Yuito, Nagi, Hanabi, you can leave now.” Kasane dismissed the platoon. Shiden and Noami would be enough.
“Okay… I’ll see you later, Kasane,” Yuito said.
“Hey, Yuito! I know I great cafe near if you wanted to go. You know. To catch up.” Hanabi offered.
“Yeah Hanabi, that sounds great.” Yuito waved goodbye and walked off with Hanabi.
“Hey wait up for me!” Nagi yelled and run after them, prompting Yuito to put his arm around his friend’s shoulders. It was nice, Kasane decided, that Yuito had good friends around him.
“You know, I think Hanabi has a crush on Yuito! Isn’t that so cute, Kasane?” Noami asked. Crush? On Yuito?
“I don’t think so. They’ve been friends for a very long time.” Kasane replied as the three walked back to headquarters.
“Like you would know, Kasane.” Shiden scoffed. They had a habit of missing social queues like that, Kasane admitted.
“Don’t you think it’s sweet Kasane?”
“I’ll have to run a background check on Hanabi, see if she’s suitable to be Yuito’s girlfriend in case you’re right,” Kasane stated.
“Wh-what? Haven’t you known Hanabi since she was a kid?” Shiden asked, bewildered.
“Then what could a background check even tell you don’t know already?”
“And Hanabi is on your platoon now, Kasane.” Noami reminded them. Both points didn’t make any difference, Kasane decided as they reached headquarters.

They flooded the front gates with Crows. Kasane sighed and pushed their way through, ignoring requests for even more questions with Shiden close while Noami made a quick apology that they don’t have time to give an interview right now.
“Hey Kasane, I saw you in the window and thought I’d come down. Save you a trip.” Haruka smiled as she walked over.
“Thanks, Haruka.”
“Wow, the Crows are really gunning for you, huh?”
“All thanks to Kasane and the Sumeragi brat.” Shiden spat.
“What did you just say about Yuito?” Kasane felt themselves fill with fury as they turned towards Shiden.
“Hey, I didn’t mean it like that!”
“Come on, you two, the Major General is right there! Let’s just give our reports.” Noami pleaded. Kasane looked, seeing Fubuki, Karen and Alice talking out in the courtyard. Karen looked unhappy about something; like how he’d been outside Kaito’s office.
“Here’s the report Haruka.” Kasane brushed Karen from their mind, as Shiden and Noami sent over theirs.
“Perfect, that’s everyone’s!” Haruka told them just as Karen had walked away. As he walked past, Karen stared at Kasane with a hard look in his eyes, watching them intensely. It made Kasane feel on edge.

“I’m sorry about Karen. He’s been under a lot of stress lately. He doesn’t mean anything by it.” Fubuki said as he walked over with Alice.
“Well, he is the leader of the second regiment.” Noami sympathised.
“And I want to apologise for the Crows too. I know they can be a handful.”
“Why are you apologising so much?” Kasane asked.
“I suppose I just feel responsible. Those Crows were there for Arashi when they caught you.” Fubuki explained. Kasane thought about Arashi… and the way her hair moved as she speed up.
“Oh Fubuki, you worry too much.” Alice teased him. “Hey Kasane, how did Hanabi do?”
“She did okay. We just got back.” Kasane answered.
“It’s been great to have so many new faces. Kasane let the rookies go off and have some fun. I think they went for food.” Noami filled in for them.
“I’m glad she’s having such a good time! She seems to be in excellent hands.” Alice smiled.
Kasane received a message from Joe. He wasn’t one to send messages often, but it was Yuito’s first day.

“Excuse me.” Kasane walked away, opening the brain message, seeing that Joe had asked them to dinner since it had been a while. Kasane wasn’t against dinners with Joe, but found them filled with too much pointless small talk. Joe tried, but they just didn’t know what to say to each other.
“I’ll be there.” Kasane reluctantly sent back.