R-9 Pilot

Edgeknight
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  2. Futanari
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Malevolence from Beyond
Intro Chapter: Crumbling Days


Kojiki City, Evening.

The ritual had begun more than two days ago. In a carefully-prepared and well hidden ritual space, neither the sorcerers nor the other participants knew much of the time involved. It was now an sheer effort of will to continue on, with no rest, food, or water. Arcane energies had gathered and pierced the veil, calling out to beyond the stars.

The sounds of violence hardly reached the ears of the ritual's participants, before a number of creatures burst into the room. The surprise attack was brutal and efficient, and soon everyone in the room lay dead or dying. The last of the Society sorcerers' power flowed out with their lifeblood, the rite they were enacting broken. And yet, the otherworldly creatures they had called forth did not simply fade away. Already drawn down to the Earth, but now without living candidates to even consider, they had little recourse but to scatter in search of worthy vessels for their power.

A man wearing a sardonic grin stepped into the room, and paused to swear under his breath. He pulled a cell phone out of his pocked and started a call. "Hey, yeah. Tell the doc his new toy didn't work..."

Koizumi residence

Saya had finished her chores and taken a bath, and was now cloistered in her room, working on homework. A first she passed off the occasional strange thing at the edges of her vision as just fatigue, or maybe daydreaming. She kept working on her math until the inhuman eyes popping in and out of view made it look too much like her assignment was staring at her. Saya yawned and rubbed her eyes. "I'm just tired, that's all," she said to herself and turned around. "Eh?"

Her room didn't really look like her room. Just for an instant, she saw something else. A strange, alien world she could barely comprehend superimposed itself over the room, twisting the familiar shapes into strange and frightening things. And even after that wave of vertigo had passed, there was a palpable presence remaining in the room. Something unseen was there, watching her. Rather than react in pure horror, Saya was more confused and curious than anything. Whatever was invisibly there in the room was clearly examining the girl, and she could feel the gaze of many eyes upon her, as if they could see right through her. This thing was carefully checking...something about her, but she didn't have a clue what it was looking for or even what it was.

Saya stood up from her desk and took a few hesitant steps before that something reached out and seized her. The unseen visitor held her transfixed, and the moment stretched into an eternity as Saya's world was filled with excruciating pain. While she knew, somehow, that she was still in her room, an alien world filled her sight. She stood in the midst of what could be a city; strange spires of basalt and shimmering crystal loomed all around her. A creature, which she knew was somehow the thing that had been watching her, appeared, its shape warping and expanding until it had practically surrounded her in walls of shifting flesh and eyes. "Such a fragile body, and yet, it will have to do," a deep voice rang in Saya's mind.

"Hey!" Saya shouted back, and paused, momentarily surprised that she could speak or cross her arms while in this bizarre waking dream. "I'm not an it! I have a name, you know."

Something that probably passed for laughter rumbled through the girl's mind. "Even in such terror, you'd talk back? Seems I was right about you after all."

"I-I still have no clue what you're talking about. What even is all this...are you? What the hell is going on!?"

"There is little time to explain." Something that was probably a sigh caused Saya to wince. "I was called to your world, but was cut off and sent adrift at the last moments. I still intend to fulfill my purpose here, but need a vessel to interact with your world. That would be you. Though you know nothing of it, the pact is offered. You should survive."

"So you what? Need my help or something? I really still don't even get it, but I don't think you're going to take no for an answer either."

Moments later, back in her room, Saya's mouth opened in a silent scream. Her conversation concluded, otherworldly power began to pour into her, suffusing every cell of her being. And with it cam a pain more terrible than any she had ever experienced. No mortal body was meant to contain such a thing, and it hurt to even try. Saya's very being was threatened, as the wash of energy, terrible pain, and something...Other threatened to tear her body and mind apart. And yet, she didn't break. This moment that was already an eternity suddenly snapped, and time began to move again. Paler than usual, the albino girl slumped to the floor. She still didn't really know what she had accepted, but she knew that she was forever changed.

Elsewhere in the city, other higher beings sought their new, unintended hosts.
 
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TheDevil'sGame

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Kojiki City, Evening, Yuuko Setsuna's Room.

The only noise within the confines of her room was the demanding ticks of the forever endless clock.

Yuuko looked over the math problems carefully. Placing the problems within her mind as she began to dissect and disassemble the question. Taking smaller portions and breaking the equation down as she slowly formed her answer. Waiting until she checked it a first time, a second time and even a third time. Before inevitably placing her guess onto the piece of paper before her.

Then proceeding to show her work to validate her calculation. Finishing the entire sheet this way until she was done. She had gotten a good number of them right but there were still a few mistakes. She frowned as she placed her homework before her and rested her arms onto the table. She was unsure why she placed so much effort into any of this. It wasn't like this actually mattered. Many students cheated and shared their homework, and critical thinking wasn't what places actually wanted. It was all about which animals were most compliant and willing to follow the rules. Memory was more important than actually learning, as well as working yourself harshly was demanded of the workplace.

What was the point to any of this? All she was preparing for was to be the sheep for some company. They wouldn't care if she successfully cheated or found other ways to get teachers to give her good grades. All they wanted was the false presentation that you were successful. They never actually cared for those who thought.

She grabbed the piece of paper as she brought her school bag to her lap. Looking through her neat and cleanly folders as she reached for the one labeled mathematics. Her fingers slipped along the edge of the folder as she winced and pulled it back. A drop of blood trailed down the length of her fingertip as she felt the sting of the fresh wound.

In the following seconds, a variety of unexplainable things began to occur. The blood began to trail down her hand as it suddenly began to spread across her arm. Painting scales over her skin as bone began to erupt from her flesh. She panicked as she reached for a nearby drawer as she shoved her hand into its waiting mouth. The desk itself becoming a monstrous abomination as she could feel its teeth around her hand. She ripped her hand away immediately as it snapped viciously at her. She turned towards the drawer at her bed as she made her way towards it. Quickly opening it to reveal a variety of knives that were held inside. As she tried to reach for them they suddenly began to be pulled away. As if the drawer was growing deeper and deeper as she reached further and further to reach one.

Glowing spheres began to revolve around her arm to reveal the inside of this deepening drawer. Revealing what appeared to be other hands that were also, reaching for the knives. She watched as the appendages successfully picked up the tools as they suddenly reversed their direction and began to come straight towards her.

She shut the drawer as she felt her breathing become ragged. She looked around the room as she felt her heart pumping within her chest. Searching and looking fearfully around her as she awaited what would be next.

The room was quiet as only the stirring of the clock made its incessant ticks in the distance. She stared at it before returning her vision towards her hand. The small droplet of blood still coating her fingertip as she looked towards her bed and kneeled before it. Reaching underneath, as she pulled a knife from underneath her mattress. Clutching at it, as she brought it up against her neck.

"Oh, now that is quite interesting. I imagined all this time you would have tried to make an effort to fight back. I was not expecting anything like this. Though such actions are not rare to me. I simply did not expect for someone like you to do this."

The voice came from all around her. As if, the room was speaking to her. Though, it appeared somewhat distant, it was as if she was hearing it from outside... Or potentially inside of something.

She kept the blade to her neck as she waited. These sensations were not new. She remembered these clearly and she was not about to let this thing have her life. She wanted to remove any pleasure this creature would have over killing her like it had to her mother. She wanted to see its disappointment and was determined to get her vengeance. All she cared for was at least a brief moment of seeing her victory. No matter how short lived it may be.

"Kill me then, do it. That was the deal wasn't it? For you to do the same thing you did before, right!? Take my skin?! Like you did my mother! I won't let you do it to me alive. I refuse to let that happen to me." She cursed as she looked around the emptiness of her room. Knowing the creature resided within it, and that it was patiently waiting. Like a hungry predator, enjoying the mental torment it was creating upon this young girl.

The room remained silent. Seconds passed and soon turned towards minutes as no response came. Her hand shook a little as she kept herself looking at all directions. Awaiting for the moment for when the beast would arrive. She knew this thing was trying to make her mad and she clenched her teeth. She began to feel a pit in her stomach as her skin began to shake. She could feel a bead of sweat trail down her nose as her breaths came faster and faster.

"Fine. I shall do just that."

Something rushed at her with incredibly speed from behind as she turned to face the creature. She ripped her hand up her throat as she could feel the sharpness of the knife slicing into her delicate skin. Ripping into her flesh as she fell upon her bed. Darkness began to slowly envelope her vision and as she looked at the being, she smiled softly before letting the darkness consume her.

She awoke, as she gasped and sputtered. Feeling something releasing her throat as she desperately fought for breath. The creature hung above as it looked down at her body. Its hand once wrapped tightly around her throat as it pulled it back to itself. Its finger bleeding from the sudden stab the girl had inflicted upon it. The being tossed the weapon aside as it looked upon the wound before returning its attention towards her.

"You were that willing not to suffer?" The voice asked as this stark white creature looked down upon her. Its sickly yellow eye looking into her own as this creature spoke softly to her.

"I've suffered enough." She responded quietly. Relenting herself to whatever this torture this being wished to inflict. Awaiting for the pain to come as she braced herself. Refusing to cry during any moment of it and preparing her body for the end of her life. The abomination was surveying, staring at the body. As if deicing on where to begin and how this would end. Determining many things as it seemed to contemplate its actions before finally deciding to respond to her.

"Not yet." The voice whispered. "Those that suffer and do not perish are the most determined to live... So let us see, how long we may last." The creature rushed its hand into her chest as it plunged its fingers around her heart.

She clutched her eyes shut as her hands instinctively reached towards the wound. Gasping in response as her fingers found nothing upon her body. Her eyes opened in surprise before she found herself back among her desk as her homework sat before her. The questions still awaiting her answers as she took the risk to look upon her room. She reached for the drawer beside her as she reached inside. Pulling a knife from its confines as her muscles tended around it.

The room was once again remarkably quiet as she noticed the lack of noise around her. Wondering what noise she expected as she searched for its presence.

She jumped as a familiar noise began to make its endless effort at counting. She turned to look at the source that hung from the wall. The ticking remaining familiar but seeming so different now.

An hour had passed since she had began and as she clutched the blade in her hands. Feeling a familiar sensation as a sharp pain emanated from her fingertip.

'What was going on?'

(@R-9 Pilot )
 
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Ariel

Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo
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Momiji Park, Kojiki City

The sun had set, and the air was getting chilly. A desultory breeze rustled the leaves of the maple trees that gave the park its name. Otherwise the park was still and silent but for the creak of a single swing.

A tall, slender girl sat on that swing, swaying listlessly as she stared at the bright screen in her hand, nodding rhythmically to the music from her earbuds. She wore a high school uniform, with half the shirt buttons undone, the skirt hiked up, and a cardigan tied round her waist, and with her platinum hair and plethora of accessories a passerby might well have concluded that she was a delinquent glued to some numb-minded social media feed and whatever pap the pop music industry churned out these days.

Never mind that Kaori was revising for her national history exams while listening to a minimono tanka performance. She didn't really care what people thought. That much was clear from her appearance. It suited her to let them make up their own minds while she went on her own way.

A rumble in her stomach brought her up short. It'd been most of a day since lunch, and she didn't have money to buy anything more for dinner than a combini snack. She ought to get home, but she was used to being hungry and she wanted to finish her revision before having to run into Satoshi. Mom would be at work already, at least, so that wouldn't be a problem. Just a tossup as to which was worse. Satoshi tended to shut up when mom was around, but that was only so that she'd focus her shit on Kaori instead.

Decision made. She'd grab an onigiri or something and stay out an hour or two more before heading home. She made to hop off the swing.

She couldn't.

She couldn't move.

One of her hands still grasped the chain of the swing, but she couldn't make it let go. The other held her phone, but her fingers refused to move. And suddenly she felt cold - so very, very cold. Not the chill of wearing a short skirt in winter - this felt more like her spine had turned to ice.

In the corner of her vision Kaori saw a flickering darkness, tinged with dark purple. It looked like a deep bruise in the air, a wound in the flesh of the world. The cold seeped through her organs, her limbs, an excruciating numbness that prickled and burned.

And then, the presence. Kaori felt it deep in her gut, a seething malice right in the tanden. Old, and wicked, and intelligent. She could feel tendrils of thought, impossible and alien, creep through her mind, picking through her soul, going through every shame, every anxiety, every last scrap of what made her human, what made her Kaori - judging, without emotion or mercy.

As she sat, frozen in space, Kaori plunged through a hellish journey across the six realms. Somewhere along the way, she broke.

She tried to scream, but she couldn't.

The... thing held her in her prison of flesh as her very self crumbled.

And then - as she felt her entire being about to corrode into a stinking puddle of loathing - it left.

She could move.

She dropped her phone, tumbled from the swing, retched up bile and acid that mixed with the blood and tears that spilled from her eyes. She spent a long, long time crumpled on the ground.

And when she could finally stir herself, she sat up and looked around.

The maple trees were dead, every last leaf rotted purple-black.

She reeked of vomit and corruption.

And somewhere inside her - inside her - the thing sent a thrill of pleasure up her spine.

She could scream now. Very loud and very long.

She screamed.
 
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TheDevil'sGame

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Momiji Park, Kojiki City

Yuuko couldn't understand the reason she left her home. The city was growing darker as the crude nightlife of the place began to arise. Her clothing was still that of her high school which caused a few stares as she walked completely alone along the sidewalk. She could feel the slow grinding of her bones as her muscles stressed themselves with each step. It felt as if, something was experimenting with how she worked and all she could do was watch it happen.

Her vision blurred from time to time and sharpen occasionally. She felt a nauseating feeling coat her stomach as she continued to make her way from her home. She moved somewhat slowly as each uncomfortable step was taken. Nearing the park that settled within the confines of the city as she eventually found herself surrounded by trees. She had been aware of the men who had been giving her looks along the way. Keeping their eyes on her as they seemed to have await any wrong motion into an alley or building. Hunting her down as she kept her fragile pace, but as she finally found herself within the park. It seemed now they believed was the perfect time to strike.

"Hold her down. Don't let her scream."

She could feel them surround her. Hearing them coming from all sides as she felt her body finally collapse. Feeling the ground against her as she could feel her animalistic instincts screaming out. Whatever had been controlling her had now left her in this vulnerable state. As the sense of fear began to thunder within her tiny chest as her heart began to beat rapidly. Her thoughts racing for a course of action as she felt them grabbing and pulling at her limbs. Forcing her to be still as she refused to be brought down. She slipped a hand free as she struck it out in retaliation. Taking a deep breath as she tried to scream.

The noise that came out was not her own as she looked upon the man before her. His arm falling to the ground as her hand was coated in something warm. Sharp claws protruded from her fingertips as she could feel the sensation of something behind her. A long thing tail erupted through another man as it pierced a second in return as it pinned the bodies to the floor. The last man looked at the situation as they remained shocked. Trying to pull themselves away as something forced him to keep hold. A maw opened from her chest as she felt herself take in a gulp of air. It felt cold and she could feel it around her heart as she looked down into the crevice of a mouth on her chest. She felt starved and as she pulled the man forward, the mouth clamped onto him as it tore a hunk of flesh from his body. Cracking bones and ripping flesh as it tossed the remainder to the ground as the mouth spat the contents to the ground. She refused to eat something so foul but as she watched scales form around her muscle and her skin split. She wondered what was going on still.

Was this a strange dream? Was all of this still part of that nightmare?

She could feel herself taking breaths from the strange clasp upon her chest as her sickly ember colored eyes looked around the park. The trees, were becoming dead as another scream erupted nearby.

A girl lay nearby a swing set by her lonesome self. She didn't know why but she felt herself immediately captivated by her as she took a few steps forward. Before eventually rushing to get near her. She hadn't realized how much she herself appeared like a monster but there was something pulling her to greet her. The series of events were still a blur but she could now see clearly and she wanted to approach this girl.

(@Ariel )
 
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Custodiet Teh

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Kojiki City, Evening, North Section, Ueshiba Industrial Park

As darkness fell across the city, there was at least one high school student that didn't find school related activity to be a worthy use of her time that upcoming night. As the soft golden rays of the sun began to fall, Huxley ' Hijiri Hakusurī' Saint kicked her dangling feet back and forth as she let them hang over the side of a bridge. Overlooking a small, probably commercial scale, industrial park, the school uniform and truth be told the whole girl looked out of place which was exactly what Huxley wanted. She'd feigned forgetting something back at school and ditched the faces with names she'd been roped into walking home with. The same well trodden path, the same afternoon sun, the same stupid chatter. She played her part well day in and day out but today she needed a break. "Just screw it all..." She whispered to herself.

Retrieving a little caramel candy from her pack, she popped the treat in her mouth and let the wrapper catch the wind. The litter soaring off downward towards the disused warehouses below. The corrugated rooftops were dark but a few minutes more and the sun would catch, turning them a painful gold. The caramel rolled back and forth between her cheeks before Huxley caught it between her molars and crunched it. The reverberations in her head from the shattering hard candy vaguely making her think of the damage she was probably doing to the enamel.

She sat quiet a few more minutes, letting her teeth dislodge themselves from the ground down candy and watching the city below her. As she started to get up a truck drove past, honking as the passenger hooted something out the window. She didn't catch what it was but she pretended it was something flattering. Taking that as a sign to get moving, Huxley pulled in her legs and dusted off her skirt before heading down the winding road in the same direction as the truck.

The walk alone was pleasant, the incline down the hill gentle enough to make the descent fun as her feet felt like they wanted to move quicker than they should. It took her mind off the web of lies she lived daily and let her just enjoy being who she was. She didn't have to remember what club agenda she needed to alter so that the girl in the year above her looked stupid for reading off the wrong minutes. She didn't have to worry about the boy she scribbled a note to in another girls handwriting. Most of all she didn't have to worry about the story she'd use on her Mother to explain why she had gotten a D in phy ed. That could all wait, she was enjoying the feeling of asphalt underfoot.

Reaching the gate to the park, Huxley stopped for a second to lean on the yellow and black automated gate. The plastic wobbling a bit as she touched it before stabilizing. Reaching for her cellphone, she looked over at the park. The nearest warehouse door was ajar, catching the wind as it opened of its own accord. Slowly she put her cellphone back into her pocket. Peering over at the guardhouse, the state of it made it look as if nobody had used it for years. In fact, the whole park seemed far more abandoned than she thought. Thinking it might be nice to take some photos inside, Huxley looked around for cameras and seemingly satisfied that there weren't any, slipped under the gate and headed right for the open door.

It smelled of dust and oil inside the warehouse. Her eyes adjusting before realizing she'd entered in some sort of vehicle bay. The sun finally hit the angle she had expected and the windows inside projected shafts of light. Leaving the door open she started exploring a bit, enjoying the empty silence of the building. An odd tension started rising inside her gut, making her feel all the more excited as she moved further in. The vehicle bay was empty except for the dozens of posters all over the wall. Mostly advertisements for oil and parts but there was a calendar with a pinup model on it. She snickered at the scantily clad blonde, taking her phone out to snap a couple photos before moving on.

There was a rickety looking metal staircase that must have lead up to an office that caught Huxley's eye next. With little hesitation she started up them, checking each step as she went. Her steps making a soft metallic thunk each time she moved. Reaching the top, Huxley was worried the door would be looked but to her luck, it swung wide open. Inside was a long hallway, industrial windows making copies of themselves in the sunlight on the floor. She took another step inside, feeling her first bit of hesitation. The floor didn't feel strong but she carried on, determined to reach the door at the end of the hall.

Starting forward, Huxley could feel the dust and the heat of the setting sun on her as she walked past the windows. She stopped to look out at the park but as her eyes readjusted she could see the glass must have been making things blurry. Going down to the next window she looked again, the world outside even blurrier than before. She rubbed the glass a bit but there was no change. Trying one last time she moved to the next one and this time the world outside was just gone, lost in the golden light of sunset. Deciding that this was enough exploring for the day, Huxley turned back and started towards the open door she'd come in from.

Her feet moved quickly but the door wasn't getting any closer.

Picking up the pace, Huxley started jogging towards the door, confused at how far away it was. Still, her body was making no forward progress. The glow from the windows started getting harsher and Huxley began to run. Her feet pounding against the weak floor, she outright began sprinting towards the door but it was like running down an endless hallway. She couldn't get closer. Panic began rising in her as she looked back towards the closed office door.

A thin tendril of light, not beam but a solid glowing tendril slipped through the corner of the frame. Her jaw dropped a little, unable to move as three more, one in each corner, burst out from the sealed room. Deciding that was enough of a happening to warrant another burst of energy, Huxley turned away, running as fast as she could. The door seemed tantalizingly close but nothing she could do could get closer. Not wanting to look back, she finally did and instantly regretted doing so. The sealed door seemed to rip off the hinges and get sucked inward. Dozens more of the light tentacles had appeared and in the middle of where the door was supposed to be was now a glowing void that pulsed and hummed.

"Huxleeeeee....."

Huxley screamed and began half running, half crawling away from the maw behind her. Running so hard, tears and sweat flowing from her eyes, she pushed hard and her foot punctured through the floor. Instead of the warehouse beneath, more of the glowing light erupted from below her. A trio of small tendrils flew up from the hole and wrapped themselves around her leg. Their touch burned and it felt as if her leg was being turned to ash. She yanked hard at her knee and looked around for anything or anyone to help her. The mouth had gotten closer and closer. Almost upon her.

Her leg popped free and she sprinted forward.

Not looking where she was going she suddenly banged into the wall beside the exit door. The mouth bearing down on her, she had only seconds before it was on her. Scrambling on all fours she crossed the threshold and was back on the metal staircase. Falling downward, she missed a few steps, feeling her body scrape and cut on the aged metal surface. Managing to get upright a few steps down she sprinted the rest of the way down and was hurtling past the pinup girl towards the exit. A few more feet and...


"HUXLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE"

The thing she'd outrun was in the door before her. Tentacles outstretched and pulsing maw open wide. Her forward momentum was too much and she ran headfirst into the thing.

Golden light seemed to engulf her, smothering her. She could see nothing besides the golden light of sunset and could say nothing as her mouth opened in a scream. Almost simultaneously cold electric pain seemed to replace her insides. She felt on the verge of madness, disbelieving what was happening. Every bit of her hurt at once, her body feeling as if it were being stripped away when a voice broke the cacophony of silence.

"Why...run?"

It was the voice of everyone she'd ever known speaking at once. A voice around her, inside her and her own voice all simultaneously speaking.

"My trap...my failure...you escaped..."

Huxley suddenly felt a pressure more intense, as if her body and soul were being pulled around and squeezed tightly. She felt like she was about to pop.

"I...weak....you....weak..." The voice paused, an eternity of agonizing torment "Together strong again...."


There was a rush of feeling, the pressure outside her body reversing and being sucked inward. Her entire being felt as if it were being stuffed and filled with the universe. The gold light burning hotter than it had before. Her body disintegrating around her spirit as pieces of Huxley fell like ash. Then the light began to become her, not replacing her but merging with her. Her mind seemed to melt as she screamed one last time.

CRACK!

Pain.

Normal pain. Huxley reached up, momentarily astonished that she had a hand again. She'd hit her head on the ground just outside the open door of the warehouse. No blood but she was still reeling from what just happened. Moving to her knees she starts to vomit, a sickly bile of caramel coming back up on her hands. Vaguely aware that someone was approaching she looked up. Her hair falling to the side as she recognized the driver of the truck from earlier.

His words took a moment to register but the panic on his face was real.

"Dijufall? Areyewoake? Hello? Miss? Are you okay? Did you fall from the bridge?"

"What? No, no I was just exploring..." Huxley coughed, spitting up the last of the caramel. She watched the brown fluid turn dark as the Sun set fully, beams vanishing. "Shouldn't have gone inside.."

"How could you have gone inside miss? Are you concussed?" The driver looked her over in concern. Huxley finally starting to stand up as he helped her to her feet. She looked around, the warehouse almost brand new and dozens of workers either staring or making their way over to her. The door she'd fallen from wasn't even there. Just a solid wall. "I must..I...I must have fallen. I'm okay I swear" Wobbling slightly, Huxley brushes her hair out of her face and dusts herself off. No cuts, no blood, not a thing wrong. She looks up to where she'd been sitting a little bit ago. "I'm fine, I'm fine.. I need to go.." Huxley pushes past the driver and starts running, sprinting past the guardhouse, she ignores the calls behind her and hurries down the road.

Her sprint slows down to a jog, finally back to a walk. Something had happened, something horrible and she didn't know what. The absent minded walk of joy turns to one of anxiety as she hurried home, turning a few corners and running up the steps of her parent's manor. Punching in her code she entered the well appointed home, shouted some platitude to her mother and ran up to her room. Locking the door behind her, she fell into her bed, holding her knees against her chest as she tried to think.

Morning broke and Huxley woke up in a shock.

She'd fallen asleep in her school clothes and needed to shower and change before school. Thank god she had several uniforms set out for her. Quickly changing, she rushed back downstairs only to be stopped by her Mother with a bowl of someting.

"Natural...Steel...Cut...OATS! Huxley! Do you know how hard it was to find real oats? Here!" The bowl of oatmeal is shoved into her hands. "Eat! It's a new trend, very expensive but gives results. No more lab grown or artificial foods, the Saints are going pure natural all the way, cost be damned!" Huxley's mother smiles wide, watching her daughter eat the oatmeal slowly. "Mom it's good and all but I'm going to be late..." Her voice pleading and playing off the want to get to school.

"Oh right right right, school. Go on, just check in with me next time you come home late okay? I was worried about you but you were sleeping so soundly I didn't want to bother. Get going hon, I love you. Be the best you can be okay?" Her Mother kissed her forehead and started back towards the kitchens. "Have a good one sweet heart!"

Huxley smiled a bit and gave her a "I love you.." before setting the oatmeal down on the nearest shelf and heading towards the door. She could already see the bus lumbering down the lane towards their gate. Stopping for a second at the mirror before heading out the door, Huxley froze.

Leaning in close she looked at her eye in the mirror.

A small tentacle in the corner of her eye glowed the golden color of sunset before retreating back behind her eye...
 
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SilverPaw

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Kojiki city, Evening, Ayano Renshin's room.

It was midnight, and Renshin was beat. Another busy day, full of school, schoolwork, her gym practice, and homework. Thankfully, her mother now had Hazakura to pester for help with dinner, else she’d have one more thing to worry about. Fuck, but did she not have the energy to deal with people with everything else. But of course, her siblings still bothered her for her help, her parents still demanded updates about ‘how her day was’ almost religiously.

She was lying on her bed, tired, eyes prickling with strain, muscles aching, but her mind was too restless for her to fall asleep. Giving up with a sigh, Ren rolled over, grabbed the phone from her nightstand, rummaged in to drawer for her earphones, and popped them in. She put on one of her favourite playlists, full of rock, punk, and metal. For a while, she dozed off listening to the low beats of music, the lyrics susurrating in her brain.

From one blink to the next, something changed. It was as if every song was accompanied by an out-of-place drum. Renshin stopped the playlist, tensing where she lay. There it was! A low rumble, as if there was a second heartbeat right next to her, as if someone were breathing into her ear. She shivered, set the phone aside, and stood up, stumbling to the window. Anxiously, she looked outside. Nothing. Though she didn’t think there would be. Whatever was going on…it was inside. And it was becoming louder, starting to boom deeply. There were other sounds now too; unpleasant gurgling, hissing laughter, clicking and crunching…It was right beside her, though there was nothing there.

Renshin clutched at her head, dropping to her knees. Was it her? Was she going loopy from overworking? "No." The word was garbled, as if being transmitted from far away. It was in no way mundane, but almost hysterically, Ren was reminded of radio static. "Child." It continued, ripping its through space-time, getting closer, becoming louder. The girl whimpered, tightly closing her eyes. Besides the overwhelming sound, images were starting to assault her. An odd desolate world, full of rusted browns, unending spires piercing the skies – black and slick, looming imposingly over the ground far beneath…A flash of red, speeding through and around, flying…

Renshin opened her eyes on a choked exhale, tears running unnoticed down her cheeks. "You. You are mine." It told her, then clawed its way into her. Ren’s chest was being ripped open, her throat scrubbed raw, her flesh flayed open. Every particle of her was straining to break apart from the rest; she was being torn apart molecule and molecule, then put back together. She did not know how long it had lasted, but it as well may have been an eternity. Even when the endless pain passed, she felt feverish and sweaty, and was laying on the floor in a trembling heap. She’d thrown up, but couldn’t even muster the strength to roll away from the little puddle of filth. Renshin passed out, sweet oblivion claiming her…for a few hours, at least.
 
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R-9 Pilot

Edgeknight
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The Next Day - Sanagi High

Despite the strange and even terrifying events of the night, life goes on as if nothing had happened. A night's sleep thankfully free of nightmares, a good breakfast, and it might even feel like whatever happened couldn't have been real. Or, at the very least, that it wasn't important compared to the everyday horrors of another day at school.

The Eldritch Society hadn't been idle, however. In a frenzy of activity, they'd done whatever it took to track down their wayward tagers before their enemies could. They'd lost enough good men and women already, and as soon as the figured out what had happened, the hunt was on. If there was even a chance the beings they'd summoned had found someone worthy, the Society needed them, and worse, they wouldn't know the danger they were already facing.

Fortunately for our heroines, the Society did find them first. They did have a bit of an advantage anyway. Finding them was one thing, and making contact quite another. Still, they were all students, and slipping a letter into a shoe locker unnoticed wasn't a difficult task. The notes were clearly not a love letter, and read as follows:

Something happened to you last night. We apologize for that, but we can explain everything.

Please come to Silver Twilight Rare and Used Books after school today.
Present this letter at the counter.


The address to the bookstore was also helpfully given.


Saya had no clue what to make of that letter. It wasn't the sort of thing anyone she knew would do as a prank. After asking around a bit, it seemed like she was the only one who got some weird letter in her locker that morning. At least in her class. She probably wouldn't even have the chance of running into one of the upperclassmen until lunch.
 

TheDevil'sGame

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A loud ringing began to drum in her ears as she opened her eyes. She could feel the echoing of the school bell waking her up as she rubbed her eyes as she watched the students leaving for lunch. She had been feeling exhausted since last night and could not remember much of what happened. Only awakening to what appeared to be scabs upon her arms. Though, as she inspected them further, it didn't appear this dried blood was her own. She remembered glimpses of the nightmare but that could certainly not be true. She remembered leaving her home, going to a nearby park, and seeing men who were hunting her down.

"Were they victims?" She whispered as she looked at her hands. Her pale skin seemed as frail as ever as she clenched her fists. There was something she did remember and it was that girl. The one near the swings and the one she had charged. She didn't know why or for what reason but her body desperately wanted to get close to her.

She was at school now and there wasn't much for her to be concerned about. Her grades were well and the teachers hadn't been worried about her. They also understood the family situation that had happened to her. Many took pity and decided to leave her be. There had been a letter in her shoe locker and she expected it to be a love letter or some sort of prank. No reason to take any interest in a person like her as she retrieved it from her bag and placed it upon her desk.

She delicately opened the letter as the paper glided along the edge of her finger and suddenly caused her to react. As if something had gripped desperately at her throat as a bit of blood trailed from her hand. She forced the thoughts away as she placed her injury within her mouth as she took the letter out.

It only took her a few moments to read it and her immediate instinct was to destroy such a thing. Feeling her fingers tense around it and her muscles clench around her bone as she placed the letter quickly into her pocket.

What was going on?
 

SilverPaw

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Renshin regained consciousness to the faint sounds of hesitant knocking. She opened crusted eyes, rubbing them clear with her fingers, issuing a groan at the throb in her muscles. She was on the floor – next to the dried barf, gross! – still half curled up. With a groan, Ren rolled over, and sat up. “Yes?” she uttered with a dry croak, and winced. Her throat felt like she’d swallowed a bucket of sand; sand that’d been oh so helpfully mixed up with glass shards, that is.

The door opened, revealing Araki, her little brother. “Ren?!” he shrieked upon seeing her, obviously thrown off at her appearance and the state of her room. He rushed to her, and kneeled down next to her, reaching a hand to her forehead. A cold annoyance blossomed in her chest, and Renshin had to tense her arms against the urge to slap his hand away from her. “I’m fine,” she said, despite obviously not sounding or appearing fine at all. “I,” she swallowed, “I think I had a fever dream,” Ren explained, voice gravelly and shaky, “but I’m all right now,” she uttered unconvincingly. Then, Renshin sighed, and looked at the mess left over from last night.

“I can help you clean up,” Araki offered quietly, though haltingly. Immediately, Renshin shook her head in the negative. “You go get ready for school. I’ll take care of everything.” Her brother nodded, biting his lower lip. “Let me tell mother that you should stay home,” he pleaded with her, but Ren waved a negligent, dismissive hand. “Don’t bother,” she stated, uncaring and aloof. Neither of her parents was likely to approve of her staying home to ‘slack off’ when her temperature wasn’t raised. “I’ll just take a mask,” she muttered. Her throat was still rough as if from a cold, and she did feel slightly ill, though neither was due to a cold. That encounter…that dream? It left her shaken up, and she wanted some alone time regathering herself.

After her brother left her alone, Ren cleaned up and prepared for school while thinking on this night’s events. She was sure it was no mere dream – she felt as if that alien presence was still within her, as if it had changed her on a fundamental level. The problem was, she was aware that believing something so unlikely…well, would it not make her insane? Her lips thinned, nostrils flaring, a sense of deep resentfulness settling in her heart. Renshin put on her uniform, grabbed her school bag, and rushed out of the house with, a barely acceptable veneer of politeness masking her turmoil.

She had managed to calm down by the time she arrived to the school, thankfully. Just as she was starting to feel secure in the normalcy of the everyday student life, she got a nasty surprise in her locker. It was a letter, confirming that what she’d been avoiding thinking about had indeed happened. Fuck. Ren forcefully crumpled the letter, and shoved it into a pocket. The presence within her chuckled, grating on her nerves. Renshin did not growl and did not slam the locker door, though she very much wanted to. Instead, she made her way to class.

What does ‘after school’ even mean? After the last class? After whenever the extracurriculars are done with? After cram school? Should have been freaking clearer… her thoughts trailed off, and Ren was broken out of her reverie, suddenly aware of a familiar presence. She cautiously made her way to her seat, keeping her head down, and not greeting anyone as she sat down.

That feeling of familiarity was so striking, however, that she could not ignore it. Peripherally, she identified three potential sources of it, all girls of her class. What did it mean? Were they all…like her? Were there truly more who had experienced the same thing she had last night? Renshin bit her lip, and stewed on the possibilities all throughout the lesson, all while a foreign smugness echoed throughout her, permeating her very being. Ren clenched her teeth against the feeling, mentally bidding the thing to shut up. Unfortunately, it only flicked a tendril of amusement at her in response, the egoistic bastard that it was. Renshin breathed through it, focusing on the droning of her teacher, soldiering on.
 

Ariel

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Kaori slid open the door to the bookshop. Silver Twilight Rare and Used Books. What a pretentious name. She'd have been less than impressed even on a normal day - and this had been no normal day. She had finally dragged herself home, run the hottest bath she could stand, and sat in it crying and raging by turns - as quietly as she could, because Satoshi was asleep. Thankfully the idiot had already passed out by the time she'd got home. She wasn't sure what she'd do if he got in her face as he always did, but she had an idea it would be even uglier than usual.

Somehow she'd made it through the night, unable to sleep, unwilling even to close her eyes, always aware of that crawling presence at the back of her mind, the feeling of cold tendrils creeping along her bones, the glimpses of... things at the corner of her eyes.

It had taken a massive effort of will to look in the mirror in the morning, slap on concealer and foundation to cover up the dark circles and hollow cheeks, and grab a carton of yoghurt for breakfast. It tasted bitter and acrid and it made her stomach roil, but she was ravenously hungry and nauseated all at the same time.

She hadn't wanted to go to school, but neither had she wanted to stay home and face Satoshi and Mom. She hadn't much felt like going anywhere at all, and school would be dire, but at least there was an infirmary there, and a nurse, in case she should get sick again.

Although she didn't think that the nurse could handle the kind of sick she'd been the night before.

But what should she find when she got to school but a note in her shoe locker? She'd been ready to rip it up unread, but just as she'd held it up she'd felt a sudden chill in her chest, so sudden and strong she'd almost fallen to her knees. And yet her hands had held the note firmly, almost as if some other will wouldn't let it fall.

Is that how it's going to be, then? she thought. And whatever bastard had written the note knew something about all this.

She hadn't really had a choice.

She stalked straight up to the counter and slapped the note down.

"The hell is this all about?"
 

Custodiet Teh

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Something happened to you last night. We apologize for that, but we can explain everything.

Please come to Silver Twilight Rare and Used Books after school today.
Present this letter at the counter.


Huxley stood frozen in what must have been shock. They shouldn't have known, nobody should have known. Let alone herself. Huxley felt panic rising in her body, intensifying in her hands. They shook as they held the note. Somebody knew she was sick and something was wrong with her. Visions of medical tests being done on her, worms writhing inside her pain racked body. Huxley felt like she was going to throw up. For once someone else had the upper hand and she was left stressing about what could or couldn't be.

In frustration she tears the note up at her locker. Anger rising at being toyed with. Suddenly she punches the wall, angry about the situation and instead of pain, she feels tears rising. All her work and planning was being ripped apart by some entity she didn't even know and whatever was happening to her was preventing her from even feeling the sharp relief of pain. Frustration started melting away and morphing into something more malevolent. Grabbing the scraps back up she held them tight in her fist.

The first step on getting the upper hand was finding out what you were dealing with. Any sort of anxiety she'd been feeling started slipping away, just in time too, a trio of upper class girls walking by calling out a greeting to her. She put on a stupid smile and waved back to them, responding in her flawless Japanese. Her pleasant expression slipping away as soon as they left.

Screw it all, she'd leave now. A walk would do her well. That's what dad always said anyways, except instead of a walk it was a run. And instead of around the neighborhood it was two miles. She missed him, but not so much that.

Grabbing her pack, Huxley locked the locker and left school, phone directing her towards the bookshop.

A little while later, She found herself outside the shop just across the street and watching what looked like the girl that went by Kaori enter. The note didn't mention anything plural but the note barely mentioned anything at all. She sat outside for a few minutes longer before crossing the road and entering.
 
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TheDevil'sGame

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Yuuko had been curious and after another normal day she decided to check out the place the note had referred too. She hadn't expected much more than a joke but she was rarely involved with others. As well, as at least hoping that something interesting would happen. She looked at the name on the card as she believed it couldn't possibly be real.

'Silver Twilight Rare and used bookstore?'

Her thoughts seemed confused at such a strange name. She almost found it silly though as she thought of the events that had happened last night. She shivered only believing them to be a horrible dream.

Her eyes widened as she noticed a girl rushing inside. Her style was similar to the one she had seen at the park. The silver hairstyle to the gyaru accessories. She shook herself as the girl suddenly went inside. She blinked before noticing someone else following them into the strange place. It was a beautiful girl with soft blonde hair and a fair complexion. She looked incredibly different than the girl before and she wondered if she truly belonged here. This could not certainly be a place for someone like her.

She looked down the street as she wondered if anyone else would be coming. As she brought her gaze back towards the car before analyzing it carefully. Wondering why they wanted someone like her here. Slowly placing it inside the confines of one of her pockets as she slowly walked towards the building and pushed open the door to see what was unfolding within.
 
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R-9 Pilot

Edgeknight
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Silver Twilight Used Books
Late Afternoon


The interior of the store looked like a typical bookstore. Shelves lined the walls and crowded much of the rest of the available space, cutting it into aisles similar to those of a library. Unlike a library, the layout was a little more haphazard, with handwritten signs on the shelves for both labeling the subject of the area and so-on. The lighting was soft and a little on the darker side, and the smell of old books filled the air. A display case near the counter showed a variety of rarer books, from the particularly old or unusual to signed editions of more modern books.

The woman behind the counter looked to be somewhere around her early 30s, and wore her long dark hair in braids. She wore glasses, and quite a bit of jewelry. Nobody got a sense of Otherness from her, so a least she wasn't like...whatever the girls now were. She wasn't particularly surprised when Kaori slapped the note on the counter.

"Oh. So you're one of the ones I'm expecting?" She glanced over the note as best she can around the hand holding it on the counter, and sighed. "...Damn it, couldn't whoever wrote this have a little more class? I know there's a need to be discreet, but that's going too far." She stood up and gestured toward the back of the store. "If you head to the back, there's a door marked employees only. Go through there and go to the first room on your right in the hallway. I've set up a little meeting room with some tea and snacks. You might have to wait for everyone else to turn up, before I'll join you for the whole spiel." She kept her tone a bit conspiratorial, out of respect for the other customers.

Everyone else to arrive would be greeted with similar instructions. If they even ended up at the desk around the same time, all the better. After everyone had arrived and been directed to the meeting room, the shopkeeper arrived accompanied by a girl with silver hair in twintails and stark white skin. The girl looked a bit younger, clearly a middle schooler attending Kojiki, judging by her uniform.

"Alright," the woman began. "I think that's everyone. So, please make yourselves at home. I'm sure you have a lot of questions and I'll do my best to answer them." She paused. "Oh, yeah. Before that, introductions might be good. I'm Ellen Blackwood, the proprietor of this humble establishment."

"I'm also a member of the Eldritch Society," she continued. "We're something of a...secret society fighting monsters, cults and evil wizards and stuff." The summary was definitely not the one she was used to giving, like she's modifying it a bit based on the age of her audience. "We'd like to recruit you, and...to be honest, I feel like I'm going to have to give you a really weird crash course, but the circumstances are a little unusual. Things have been a bit hectic since shit went down last night. Pardon my candor."

"Last night, the site of one of our most important rituals was attacked and something unexpected happened. One of our biggest weapons in fighting those evil cults and such are holy warriors who have been bonded to powerful spirits summoned by a pretty involved ritual. Normally, it takes a lot of training to survive properly. As far as the sorcerers know, what happened you you ladies is when that ritual got disrupted, the things we'd called down scattered to the four winds and found someone to bond with as they saw fit, instead of just go home."

"You're all very lucky, although I'm not sure what kind of luck." Her tone was sympathetic.
 
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Ariel

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Kaori glared at the woman. "Lucky?" she almost spat. "That... thing is inside me." Her voice trembled with rage and disgust. "Do you get it? Whatever you called, it is inside me now and I want you to Get. It. Out."

She had spoken quietly, but her eyes burned as she stared down Ellen Blackwood. And as she did, those very eyes began to swim and turn milky-grey.
 

R-9 Pilot

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Ellen took a step backward, raising her hands with her palms out, defensively. "Hey, I agree with you. Every tager in the society knew exactly what they were getting into and specifically trained for it. None of you did. And it's not exactly fair to have things like all this just...happen."

"Unfortunately...undoing all that isn't possible. Those things are as much a part of you as you are a part of them, and as far as i know, no mortal sorcery can sever that connection or...whatever it is. So no getting it out. On the other hand, as far as the NEG's concerned, with all their fancy gene scans and mystic sensing arcanotech? You're human. There's not a monster inside you. It's...I don't know, you can transform and stuff, but you're still you, and that hasn't changed. ...Like, ever seen, what's the series? Kamen Rider?"

"Maybe we should back up a bit and just do introductions all around?" The outburst definitely has her looking a little uneasy. "This whole meeting's a mess as-is, but we needed to get to you fast, before whoever killed an entire ritual site's worth of our best sorcerers did."