/simu/ - Simulacrum

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File: 1714003907496-0.jpeg (1.21 MB, 1920x1362, Tasogare Castle.jpeg)

File: 1714003907496-1.jpeg (254.01 KB, 1654x915, Tasogare Castle Interior ….jpeg)

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>Date: September 16th, 2017
>Location: Kyoto, Japan - Tasogare Castle Hallway
>Time: 7:00 AM

>The large open interiors of the ancient castle remain hollow - with sound nowhere to be heard. The soft, faint rumbling of a wooden plank is the closest thing to an audible sound within earshot - as the light of the Sun slowly pierces the windows.


>The thudding sound gets louder and more frenetic in its frequency - seemingly converging on a fixed location. The edge of the corridor leading towards a larger part of the castle is then suddenly inundated with a massive amount of wind.


>A human voice can be heard from the empty hallway, as the sounds get even louder.

["Watch where you're going!"]

>A voice speaks out in Japanese - clearly irritated as the aerial bursts get larger and more intense.

["Hey! I'm the one being graceful here! You should've practiced your form!"]

>Another voice says, also speaking in Japanese. An amorphous black mass then slowly rises from the faint shadows protected from the sunlight.


File: 1714004754442-0.jpeg (80.92 KB, 850x1159, Asami.jpeg)

File: 1714004754442-1.png (550.91 KB, 708x1000, Sora.png)

File: 1714004754442-2.gif (990.51 KB, 500x285, Sword Fight.gif)

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File: 1714004754442-4.jpg (379.62 KB, 1059x600, Air Gust.jpg)

>Suddenly, two feminine figures appear, seemingly from nowhere. A woman with jet black hair emerges from the shadows, wearing a traditional black samurai garb. Her gloves are white, along with her sandals however, contrasting her dark clothing.

["You lack discipline and focus, Sora! Continue on this path, and I will not be so forthcoming in your instruction!"]

>The other woman, a brunette haired shinobi in dark black and blue clothing, responds by scoffing.

["As if I'd need any training from you, Asami! My skill exceeds yours, and my Shadow Art is far more capable as well!"]

>Glowering, Asami then draws her blade from its sheathe, striking at Sora.


>Predicting the strike, Sora backflips into the air and seemingly disappears into nothingness - almost beyond belief.

["Another of your tricks…."]

>Sheathing her blade once more, Asami closes her eyes. Although the Sun's light shines brightly through the corridors, she can find the energy within herself to concentrate and focus. The undulating and pulsating sensations she feels are the shadows themselves - all around her. Their invisible mass is Asami's to command - as she hones in on the location of her opponent.

["You think that I am blind to that which I cannot see, Sora?"]

>Slowly placing her hand by her blade, Asami focuses for a moment.

["Yet that is why you fail!"]

>Immediately, Asami creates a mass of black energy and ripples around her sword - which immediately expand outwards, creating a shadow vortex which consumes the entire hallway.

>Although Sora is not directly hit by the attack, her humanoid form is made in the shape of the winds that comprise her body. Having fused herself with the very essence of the air itself - her figure remains the same.

["Arrogant little-"]

>Before Sora can respond fully, Asami is able to sense the shape of Sora's body through the radar sense afforded to her by her shadows. Since they cover the entirety of the hallway in their mass, the differential between Sora's air form and Asami's black shadows immediately gives away her location.

["As I said, Sora…."]

>Rushing forward as she is propelled by the force and power of the shadow masses surrounding her - Asami reaches Sora at lightning speeds and quickly strikes her with the edge of her katana.

["Argh! You sneaky bi-"]

>As Sora is sent flying across the hallway - she's sent flying. Now hitting the large twin doors that lead to the throne room of the castle, Sora's body is sent flying into it as she rolls onto the ground, rapidly regaining her human form.

>Asami walks over to the entrance of the throne room, sheathing her katana once more as she replies:

["…..That is why you fail. You must learn control."]

>Asami then looks up to see a figure sitting on the throne, assuming a casual sitting position as the figure stares at both of them.


File: 1714007786193-0.jpeg (382.2 KB, 1920x1080, Tasogare Throne Room.jpeg)

File: 1714007786193-1.png (3.03 MB, 1832x2576, Akito - 6.png)

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>Akito Tasogare remains sitting on his throne, legs crossed as he rests the side of his face on his palm. Giving a somewhat bored expression, he examines the two women now before him.

["My apologies, Master Akito-"]

>Sora stammers out her statement as Akito slowly holds up his hand, prompting her to stop speaking.

["I am your brother, Sora. There is no need for the formalities. I am not as strict with convention as my predecessors, remember?"]

>Akito then gives a weak smile on his face, as he turns his attention towards Asami.

["As for you, sister. Do remember that perfection is unattainable, and the striving towards it remains taxing."]

>Nodding slowly, Asami takes a knee at the edge of the throne steps, alongside Sora. Begrudgingly assuming the kneeling position, Asami then feels herself growing irritated at the dismissal of her lesson towards Sora.

["I meant no disrespect, Kagemusha. I merely attempted to instruct Fūjin on the ways of proper combat-"]

>Again Akito makes a dismissive motion with his hand.

["Again with this, Asami? Must you be so serious at the beginning of a new day? Sora was not scheduled for training until later this afternoon."]

>Asami looks down at the ground of the throne room, conflicted over her intended response. Finally, she then says:

["We must be prepared for the enemies of the Tasogare family brother! Father should not have died in vain!"]

>Looking back up, Asami stares daggers at her older brother, now raising her voice even louder. Sora looks stunned as Asami continues to speak:

["He entrusted the legacy of our entire family to you! Yet this is how you repay him?! Hedonism and apathy?! You should be ashamed of yourself Akito!"]

>Sora then shouts at Asami in response to the statement.

"Asami! Control yourself! Do not address the Kagemusha in such an outlandish manner!"

>Asami remains defiant, growing silent but continuing to stare daggers of anger into the eyes of her older brother. She finds the sight of Akito's supernatural eyes to be all too familiar, due to years of confrontational scenes between the two of them.

>After a long moment, Akito's glowing red eyes then ease in their luminosity. Closing said eyes for a moment, Akito sighs before opening them again.

["You are many things, Asami. Stubborn. Indignant. Potentially even insubordinate."]

>Akito stands up and crosses his arms behind his back - as he looks on down at both his sister and his half-sister.

["But you are also correct. I have been too lax and too cautious with regards to our approach. That is why I have changed the Tasogare family mission."]

>Raising their eyebrows in shock, both Asami and Sora turn to face each other with a look of incredulously surprise on their faces. They both turn their attention back to Akito soon afterwards.


["Brother! Our mission is to achieve the founder's wishes, and take control over the land! We cannot abdicate our obligation to fulfill our core duty!"]

>Akito then looks up at the ceiling as he responds.

["We are not abandoning our mission - we are simply expanding the parameters of our conduct. Taking control of the lands in the Western world will allow us to further expand our sphere of influence."]

>Turning away from both women, Akito then looks at the large mural at the back of the Throne Room - depicting the ancient Kagemusha and his armor of dark shinobi.

["Once we have amassed a sufficient degree of power, then we return - and sabotage the last vestiges of conflict in our way."]


File: 1714009578148-0.jpeg (382.2 KB, 1920x1080, Tasogare Throne Room.jpeg)

File: 1714009578148-1.jpeg (199.01 KB, 850x1506, Akito - 3.jpeg)

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File: 1714009578148-3.jpeg (117.09 KB, 850x1519, Sora - 3.jpeg)

>Sora crosses her arms as the gravity of the situation sinks in for her clearly. Murmuring out loud, she conveys her thoughts rather clearly.

["You want us to seize control of the entire Western Hemisphere….."]

>Akito nods his head as he looks over his shoulder back at his siblings.

["Indeed, Sora. The West holds valuable knowledge and resources which we can use."]

>Holding out his hand and making a gesture, Akito continues elaborating on his plan.

["Japan's population is a third of the United States' own. Given the research done on the initial transmission factors of the Meta-Gene, it has been hypothesized that the United States is ground zero for the Meta-Human phenomenon."]

>Turning back to face his siblings, Akito assumes a thinking position with one of his hands holding up his other elbow - and pressing his other thumb and index finger against his chin to think.

["Given the dispersion factors, the rate of variability regarding Meta-Humans would be large enough for us to find sizable numbers of potential fighters. Further imbuing them with the power of the Shadows will awaken their magical talents."]

>Asami then stands up, looking at her brother as she speaks.

["But what of our enemies here in our land? The Hoyokazis?"]

>Akito blinks twice for a moment before he casts a dismissive hand gesture.

["They are no threat, not truly. The initial aim was to passively integrate them into our fold - but they hold no material value that we cannot procure ourselves."]

>Asami presses the notion further, testing her brother's convictions and principles.

["But Hiyuki Hoyokazi is a valuable asset - given her business connections and matriarchal position over the conglomerate of families."]

>Akito waves her off once more as he shakes his head.

["We are far more numerous than them, and they have no answer to power that Kurai provides us. If they are to be dealt with, then it will be through subterfuge and deception. Impersonating their personnel and working up through their ranks will be simple enough for Hayami, Mitsuru and the rest of their family."]

>Akito shakes his head as he continues thinking intently.

["No…Our greatest threat lies in those who wield tremendous power. Those with the strength to stop our direct advancement."]

>Immediately taking her mind to days prior, Asami narrows her eyes as she speaks.

["Ryozo Narukami and his ilk. His collaborators."]

>Asami says, with sheer venom in her voice.

>Akito nods slowly as he then gives a soft smile.

["Correct, sister."]


File: 1714010168313-0.jpeg (382.2 KB, 1920x1080, Tasogare Throne Room.jpeg)

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File: 1714010168313-4.gif (897.59 KB, 500x215, Flight.gif)

>As Akito continues speaking, he begins to sense a strong presence approaching from the distance. Though the objects are hundreds of miles away, his abilities allow him to instinctually detect its exact trajectory - due to his control over space itself.


>Akito says out loud, confusing his siblings.


>Turning his head to face Asami and Sora, Akito then states:

["We will continue the discussion later. I sense intruders - over three hundred and fifty miles away, but rapidly approaching."]

>Sora begins to panic in an instant, as Asami instead looks calm and measured as always. She merely states two words to her brother in response.

["How quickly?"]

>Akito gives a slight look of amusement.

["A mile per second, give or take."]

>Cursing to herself, Asami reaches for her sword as she looks away from Akito, and up towards the ceiling.

["Then we have less than six minutes to prepare. I will sound the alarms."]

>Akito then holds out his hand, as more clarity is granted to him. Beyond the obstruction of the palace ceiling, his supernatural eyes allow him to perceive beyond visual limitations - looking directly at the threat approaching.

>As Akito sees the large muscular frames of the caucasian men in capes approaching their coastal castle, he then gives another amused scoff.

["It seems our reputation precedes us - and we have attracted otherwise unwarranted attention."]

>Looking at both Asami and Sora, Akito then says to Asami:

["You wanted a field test, sister, did you not? It seems the Gods are merciful on this day."]

>Asami groans as she then runs towards the entrance to the throne room, with Sora chasing right behind her.


File: 1714010740560-0.jpeg (1.21 MB, 1920x1362, Tasogare Castle.jpeg)

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>Six minutes later, a flurry of bright golden lights radiate down from the heavens above - striking Tasogare castle from multiple angles.

>Immediately, the Shadow troops respond, beginning to reinforce the Castle perimeters with glowing energy barriers - the combined result of arcane magic rituals.

>As the barrier is constructed - the initial blasts set trees and other vegetation ablaze - causing more Shadow troops to appear at said locations.

["Quickly! Douse the fire and prepare the retaliatory strikes!"]

>After performing a series of swift martial arts movements, a group of the Shadow troops seemingly materialize water out of thin air - dousing the flames quickly.

>Turning their attention back towards the figures hovering above them, the Shadow troops squint their eyes behind their masks and hoods.

["Americans? Here?!"]

["Are they part of a military response?!"]

["I suspect not, look! Their insignias!"]

>One of the Shadow troops points upward, bringing their attention to the large patches on the front of each hovering figure. Then after another moment, another Shadow troop makes a keen observation.

["…..They are the same being!"]

>Narrowing his eyes, another Shadow trooper murmurs under their breath.

["Clones. They seek to raise an army to attack our leader! Then we will not be deterred!"]

>Up above, the Champion clones continue to punch at the translucent barrier before them with their immense supernatural strength. While the barrier ripples and flickers rapidly - the combined strength of the twelve Champion clones seemingly isn't enough to rupture the barrier.

>However, the Champion clones change their tactics, instead choosing to form a close connection as they quickly fly towards each other.

["Wait…what are they doing?!"]

>One Shadow trooper thinks intently for a moment, before his eyes widen as he shouts:

["Redirect all magical power towards this exact point! They are attempting a piercing strike with their combined power!"]

>Just like that, before the Shadow troopers can react and further reinforce the barrier - the twelve Champion clones then rush the barrier, pulling back their fists. As they do so - they then strike forward - completely shattering the magical barrier into pieces.


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>As the Champion clones shatter the barrier - they begin flying around the castle - opening fire from their eyes as they begin immolating the entire castle from multiple angles. The force of their energy vision combines with their sheer range, to completely eviscerate entire swathes of Shadow troops.

["Hold your positions! Hold! Do not let them advance furthe-"]

>The Shadow troop in command of the given platoon is then completely vaporized into nothingness - burnt to a crisp as the Champion clones quickly fly through the Castle's interiors. As they do this, they begin to rip everything apart at superhuman speeds - seemingly looking for something.

>Outside, two of the Champion clones are then suddenly grabbed from a mass of black shadows that appear beneath them. Before they can react, they're bound by the black masses and held in place.

["Indignant buffoons! You dare attack our sacred home?!"]

>The enraged voice of Asami speaks, as she slowly rises out from a nearby mass of black shadows. Hatred for her adversaries fills her eyes as she takes out her katana and prepares to strike at the Champion clones - attempting to straight up behead them in one fell swoop.

>However, the Champion clones grunt and summon their maximum strength, breaking through the shadow constraints with moderate effort as they move to advanced on Asami's location - firing laser beams at her.


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>Instinctively, Asami holds up her katana, reinforcing it with a highly dense amount of black shadows - which is barely enough to hold back against the Champion clones' concentrated laser beams.

>The beams themselves are deflected across the area - cutting through stone supports like butter as further collapses occur.

["No! Grr! I'm going to kill you!"]

>Overcome by sheer rage and fury, Asami then spins to the side, drawing from her sheathe with her free hand - generating a flurry of black shadow swords from seemingly her sheathe.

>The blades move at relativistic speeds - surprising even the Champion clones as they're impaled in the face, chest and legs with these shadows. However, instead of feeling physical pain or experiencing physical lacerations and cuts - the shadows begin to seemingly drain the heat and life from the Champion clones.


>Only capable of grunting, the Champion clones grimace and grunt in pain, struggling to push back against the increasing pain of the heat transference.

>Getting her bearings, Asami then dashes over to the Champion clones, readying her blade as she then slices through the Champion clones' heads - fully decapitating them.

>Blood spurts from the stubs where their necks used to connect to their heads, with some of it plastering itself on her face. Taking a deep breath, Asami then looks at the bodies once more - watching as the blood drips out onto the pavement of the floor.

["Attack dogs. Nothing more."]

>She mutters, before spitting on their dead bodies and turning her attention towards the rest of the battle.


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>Across the battlefield, Asami can see the rest of her family as they confront the masses of Champion clones that descend from the sky above.

["How many of these dogs are there?!"]

>Asami shouts as she sees even more Champion clones descending from the skies above. The Champion clones continue their approach - flying down through the brief openings in the forcefield created through their precision strike maneuver.

>Because of this, Asami regroups with Sora - who uses her powers to transmute her fist into air, and rematerialize it inside of the head of a Champion clone. The maneuver explodes the Champion clone's head instantly, due to the telefragmentation effect of spontaneous matter expansion from her fist.

>Looking behind her, as she feels Asami's back meet with her own, Sora then shouts:

["I don't know! They just appeared from the sky like Kagemusha said!"]

>Sora then takes turns moving around with Asami, both of them in unison as they use their abilities to aid both their traversal and combat.

["Remember your training Sora! Form One! Striking Precision!"]

>Nodding, Sora adjusts her combat stance with her hands, shifting to the Tasogare family's traditional combat form involving quick strikes and pressure point targeting.

>With this shift in approach, Sora is able to use her same telefrag maneuver to destroy countless Champion clones as they appear - instantly killing them by targeting their internal organs with her phasing ability.

>At the same time, Asami uses her reinforced sword to send out shadow slices. Using her created shadows' ability to sap heat and light from nearby sources, she instead gradually slows down entire waves of Champion clones with massive discharges of Shadow masses.

["Where is Aunt Hifumi?! We will require her assistance to push back against this invasion!"]


File: 1714012914441-0.png (741.36 KB, 1200x813, Hifumi - 4.png)

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File: 1714012914442-4.jpg (124.38 KB, 500x758, Champion Aleph - 2.jpg)

>As Asami asks this question, she can make off three figures in the distance. Narrowing her vision, she then realizes who they are and shouts:

["Hanabi! Hitomi! Aunt Hifumi!"]

>As all three women notice Asami in the distance, they quickly use their powers to make their way towards her. As all five women begin fighting in a circle - attracting the Champion clones to them, Asami begins to speak.

["Aunt Hifumi! We require your assistance! A form of crowd control would be graciously appreciated! Surely your powers can-"]

>Hifumi nods as she strikes a Champion clone with a huge surge of lightning - her eyes glowing fully white as she does so. The smell of burning ozone can be experienced by those around her, as the Champion clone's literal flesh is vaporized off in an instant, rendering them a smoking skeleton.

["Of course, my niece. I will gather the elements to create a pressurized enclosure around the castle. Anything that flies in will face the wrath of the Tasogare family."]

>Eyes still glowing, Hifumi looks at both Hanabi and Hitomi - saying:

["I trust Asami to protect the both of you while I am gone."]


File: 1714013000170-0.jpeg (380.59 KB, 700x1000, Hanabi - 2.jpeg)

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>Groaning, Hanabi punches a Champion clone with her fist, instantly flash freezing it completely. She then swiftly kicks it with her foot - completely shattering it.

>At the same time, Hitomi cheers before performing a series of gestures with her hands - then doing a front flip kick which cracks the ground to produce a massive stream of searing hot molten magma before her. The molten magma stream instantly vaporizes the Champion clones before her - reducing them to burning skeletons.

["Fine, mom. Go do what you have to."]

>Hanabi says, as she continues fighting off Champion clones with her cyrokinetic abilities.

["Kick their asses mom! Go do your stuff! We'll be good! I promise!"]
>Hanabi shouts, as her latent pyrokinesis and geokinesis continue to produce magma streams for her to combat the Champion clones with.


File: 1714014279958-0.jpg (21.3 KB, 877x500, Atmosphere.jpg)

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>Nodding, Hifumi then closes her eyes for a moment, shouting out loud:

["Lower the barrier! I will construct a defense of my own!"]

>Hearing the words of Hifumi Tasogare, the Shadow troops immediately pull back from their rituals and incantations - as the barrier falls.

>Taking a deep breath, Hifumi then exhales before opening her eyes. Still fully glowing white, Hifumi's eyes begin to radiate white lightning - as her body then shoots up into the sky at massively hypersonic speeds.

>Racing up into the air like a fighter jet, the sheer force of Hifumi's elemental powers begins to make itself known to the Champion clones - all attempting to converge on her location.

>As they fire energy beams at her from their eyes, Hifumi makes a gesture with her hands - immediately creating a massive sphere of hyper-dense pressurized air. The pressure of the air around her continues to increase, although she is seemingly unaffected by the pressurization itself.

>The Champion clones who move to connect with the pressurized air sphere are immediately crushed into bloody pulps that drop to the ground below. At that same moment, lightning, flames and pressurized water begin to form around the pressurized air sphere.

["Invaders! You are not welcome here! Leave this area or perish with the rest of your brethren!"]

>Hifumi's words echo with the force of her aerokinetic power - channeling a louder and more distorted version of her voice that bellows to the Champion clones before her.

>As dozens of said Champion clones are completely eviscerated into bloody, charred, frozen and pressurized clumps - eventually Hifumi summons thunderstorms around her as well. This combined with her pressurized elemental sphere quickly destroys the majority of the remaining Champion clones.

>Looking down below, Hifumi sees that her daughters and her nieces have handled the rest of the Champion clones.

>She then dispels the elemental storm of power after she confirms that all Champion clones have been dealt with - and now flies down quickly towards the ground below her feet.


File: 1714015050738-0.jpeg (1.21 MB, 1920x1362, Tasogare Castle.jpeg)

File: 1714015050738-1.png (3.03 MB, 1832x2576, Akito - 6.png)

File: 1714015050738-2.jpeg (80.92 KB, 850x1159, Asami.jpeg)

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>As the chaos subsides, Shadow troops quickly move in, performing different magical rituals in order to cast unique spells.

["Repair the damage and bring stability back to the castle!"]

>The leader of the Shadow troop platoon shouts at his men, as they immediately go to work. A combination of chemical creation spells, water creation spells and matter manipulation spells are then cast through these large scale incantations.

["Careful! Steady!"]

>The damage slowly begins to repair itself, as the blood and dead chunks of the Champion clones are categorically removed through large scale magic. At the same time, the damaged portions of the Castle begin to repair themselves quickly - with stone and bricks quickly reforming and flying in reverse, moving back in their previous trajectories in order to lodge themselves firmly within the stone edifices they once held up.

>After around ten minutes, Tasogare Castle is restored to its original state - however the majority of the Shadow troops' effort is now position towards reinforcing the barrier itself.

>Akito then walks out, hands inside of his pants' pockets as he casually surveys the scene. All of the surviving Shadow troops continue their duties, as Akito sees the ashes of the dead being slowly carried away.


>The sight of the charred remains of the fallen troops is enough to slowly build up a sense of anger and fury within Akito's mind.

>Asami then quickly runs up to him, looking for his leadership in this circumstance.

["Brother! We must retaliate before-"]

>Before Asami can respond, Akito grabs her by the arm and moves her to the side - just as a glowing red energy blast narrowly misses her.

["What the?!?! What was that?!?!"]

>Akito lets go of Asami's hand, after placing her defensively behind him. His glowing red irises in his eyes immediately detect the unknown threat, which has been cloaked in magic.

"The hell?! He can see us?!?!"

>The invisible figure speaks in English, which Akito understands perfectly due to his supernatural intuition. The benefits of being merged with the Tasogare family's patron God do not end there - as Akito also uses his improved hearing to detect the finest tuning of the servos and motors that make up their armor.

>Speaking in English to surprise them, Akito then says:

"Remove your cloaking mechanisms if you want to live."

>The figures do so, revealing three figures with biomechanical muscular armor. Each of the figures is of a different height and build - with two men and one women making up their three man group.

"Well shit, looks like he understands English. Didn't think that would be in the dossier."


File: 1714015801725-0.jpeg (160.01 KB, 850x1377, Akito - 2.jpeg)

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>Akito crosses his arms, as Asami and the rest of his family assume defensive combat positions.

"Do you take me for a fool? I am multi-lingual. Any reasonable person who does business on an international level, must be acquainted with the cultures and dialects of those they do business with. It is a sign of respect, nothing more."

>Silent for a moment, the Magitek trooper in the front then holds out his gauntlet of a hand, aiming it directly at Akito as he charges up an energy attack.

"….Fine. The direct approach then."

>As the Magitek trooper fires a massive beam of mana-charged energy at Akito - the entire ground beneath his feet is completely ruptured and ripped apart. The rest of Akito's family dodge the attack on reflex - but they look over to see Akito gone.

["Oh no! Is he….?"]

["It can't be! Kagemusha is gone?! No! I refuse to believe it!"]

>The Magitek trooper then lowers his arm, stating:

"Target neutralized. Let's return to base - ACK!!!"

>Suddenly, the Magitek trooper feels his body lurch forward slightly - as the upper half of his torso immediately falls off from his lower half. A combination of red human blood and blue artificial mana spurt from the sliced open torso - as the upper half of the Magitek trooper's body hits the ground with a resounding thud.

"I told you - the direct approach."

>Akito says, standing off to the side of everyone present. He has a single finger held up to his face - with nothing else to indicate what has happened.

>The other two Magitek troopers panic as they turn to face Akito - aiming their weapons at him as well. The remaining male trooper then shouts:

"You're coming back with us, Tasogare! Ouranos wants you alive for experimentation!"

>Raising an eyebrow, Akito then says:

"….I'm sorry, who?"


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>The female Magitek trooper then looks between Akito and the male Magitek trooper, genuinely considering her options.

>Meanwhile, the male Magitek trooper holds his hand out still - although it begins trembling slightly.

"Ouranos! Our commander! He assigned us this mission, and we're not returning until we've completed it!"

>Genuinely curious, Akito flicks his finger at the Magitek trooper - not attacking in any way, and simply gesturing as he asks:

"It appears your employer has a vast repository of technology at their disposal. Especially if they're capable of mass human cloning."

>Turning his attention back towards the female Magitek trooper, Akito then crosses his arms casually, asking her:

"As for you, Miss…..?"

>Silent, the woman then suddenly feels the compulsion to speak up - as if compelled by a supernatural force.


>Giving a slight nod, Akito then asks:

"Alright then, Zeta. Your colleague here asks the impossible of you. Defeat me, and the rest of my family who are standing behind me."

>Akito gestures to the women behind him, all still prepared to fight if need be.

"Mind you, they have killed hundreds of your cloned warriors. I would imagine that if you were far stronger than them - then their help would not be required, no?"

>Considering the logic of his statements, Zeta then looks between herself and the male Magitek trooper.

"Zeta, what are you doing?! The target is right there! Engage him in combat! NOW!"

>The male Magitek order barks the orders, seemingly out of desperation more than actual anger or frustration. As he looks between Akito and Zeta, he then curses himself loudly as he then rushes Akito down with his energy arm blades.

"Damnit! We don't have any other options! The Champion platoon was supposed to kill all of you!"


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>As the male Magitek trooper rushes towards Akito's location at hypersonic speeds, Akito seemingly vanishes in an instant - startling the man.

"Where'd you go asshole?!?!"

>Spinning around in an erratic motion, the male Magitek trooper looks lost and confused.

"You don't seem to understand the predicament that you're in."

>Tracking the voice's origin, the male Magitek trooper then looks straight up - seeing the standing form of Akito just casually high in the air.

>As Akito stands on literally nothing, he looks down at the Magitek trooper below him with a mixture of pity and disgust.

"As Asami said - just another attack dog."

>Akito then holds out his hand - focusing for a split second as a large glowing sphere of white light appears before him. Instantly, the fabric of space-time rapidly compresses - bringing the male Magitek trooper into the air right in front of him.


>As the male Magitek trooper begins falling for hundreds of feet - Akito is already on the ground below, casually placing his hands in his pockets.

>The male Magitek trooper continues to fall, as Akito looks up at him. While doing so, he looks over at the Zeta, who still hasn't raised her hand up to fight him.

"So you're smarter than your colleagues. Good. I value intelligence."

>Still feeling a compulsion from the supernatural that stops her from attacking Akito, Zeta begins to question her own thoughts.

{"Shouldn't I be attacking him? That's the mission isn't it? Mission? What mission? I'm here to help him, aren't I?"}

>As her mind slowly begins to shift, the result of Akito's telepathic prowess, Zeta then walks up to Akito.

>Akito then nods at her, as he states:

"Go on then. Give me aid."

>Zeta then nods as she opens up the chest plates of her magitek armor - revealing two powerful cybernetic cannon structures. The cannons then glow with a bright golden light as they aim directly above at the falling Magitek trooper.

"Zeta wait! Wait! WAIIIIIITTT!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!"

>The last thing that the Magitek trooper sees is a bright flash of golden light - before darkness takes hold of his vision afterwards.

>A massive golden explosion of magical energy then occurs - completely rupturing the upper air of Tasogare Castle.


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>Location: Tasogare Castle - Throne Room
>Time: 10:00 AM

>As Akito sits on his throne once more, he looks over the woman standing before him. The woman is a brunette regarding her hair color, with a few small birthmarks or moles on her body. Smoking from an e-cigarette, she continues to speak.

"….Then Ouranos took over Eukaryon a few months prior - after the organization's previous founders were all either ousted or killed. Eukaryon was left in a power vacuum, so that prick came in and took charge."

>Considering the woman's story for a moment, Akito then says:

"Zeta is obviously your code name. What is your actual name, miss?"

>The woman raises an eyebrow at Akito, clearly unaware of the mental manipulation done to her mind. Sighing, she then takes another smoke from her cigarette as she speaks.

"Maya. First name basis for now - if you pay me right, you'll maybe get more."

>Akito nods as he then stands up and walks towards Maya. With a flicking motion, a large bag seemingly appears in his right hand out of literally nowhere. As he tosses the bag at Maya, she catches it with both hands - surprised by its heft and weight.

"Alright then. What do we have here…..holy shit."

>Eyes widening, Maya then looks at the massive amount of cash inside, in Japanese Yen. Doing the calculations in her mind for a moment, she then mutters:

"Fifty million bucks. God damn…."

>Looking back up at Akito with an incredulous look on her face, she then asks:

"….So you're just straight up paying me eight figures up front? Just like that?!"

>Akito walks up to the woman, while making a dismissive gesture.

"The information that you have given me about your former master is worth far more than gold."

>Slinging the bag over her shoulder, Maya then says:

"Payday like this'll set me up for life. Far better than the bullshit jobs that bonehead had me work for him. Looks like my instincts were right to trust you."

>Nodding, Akito then places a hand on Maya's other shoulder and then states:

"Believe me, Maya. Once you've told me everything about this Ouranos figure and his Eukaryon organization - I'll repay you even further."

>Akito then removes his hand, as he begins to walk past her, stating:

>Now walking up to the large magitek terminal that Maya helped to install earlier, Akito begins typing a code sequence into it.

"If you can lead me to more of this technology - then you'll never have to take a mercenary job from Eukaryon or anyone else ever again."

>Maya feels her face slowly break into a wide smile as she holds her cigarette in between her index and middle fingers.

"Now that I'd like very much."

>Akito finishes typing in the terminal sequence - as the device begins humming and glowing with energy - demonstrating the value of Maya's technology.

"As would I, Maya. Now, for the rest of our arrangement."

>Akito says, looking directly at Maya.


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>Location: Underground Base
>Time: 10:30 AM

"So this is what I train you people for."

>Ouranos crosses his arms across the metallic plating of his chest armor, as he continues to watch the engineers. All of them are spread out across various tables and workbenches, each examining different copies of a humanoid-looking machine.

"Sorry sir, but we're run the internal diagnostic checks several times. The Eidolus series haven't shown any flaws in subroutine functioning. There's nothing to indicate that spontaneous cognition is possible in the bio-androids."

>Ouranos walks over towards one of the Eidolus units spread out across the table. The unit is deactivated, and incapable of movement, as Ouranos then speaks up.

"Yet somehow, one of the units arose and stole the magic gems that I had acquired."

>Muttering to himself, Ouranos then thinks:

{"If the subroutines weren't triggered to activate, then some external force must've manipulated the androids. If this trigger can induce spontaneity, then it needs to be contained immediately."}

"Still thinking to yourself, master?"

>Ouranos turns over his shoulder, seeing a person in dark armor and robes standing on the railing above him.

"Saturnus. How fortunate of me, seeing that an auspicious figure such as yourself would make yourself known."

>Scoffing lightly, Saturnus casually jumps down to the metallic flooring below - startling the engineers. Without buckling his knees, Saturnus directly faces Ouranos and speaks:

"The Champion series of Meta-Humans have failed to capture the target."

>Ouranos groans for a moment as he places his hands behind his back.

"And the Magitek troops?"

>Shaking his head, he continues:

"Alpha-2 and Omega-2 are dead. Remote vital signals have been lost. Whereas Zeta-2 has seemingly defected, given the last visual signals from her suit."

>Ouranos nods at the report, feigning concern but rather showing irritation with the failed mission.

"Ahh, well - it's a shame to have lost more men in the field. I should've known that defection was still a possibility with humans. They never seem to show the proper conviction."


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>Saturnus then speaks up, asking the next logical question.

"What information was Zeta-2 privy to? I would hope it was nothing too substantial?"

>Ouranos shakes his head as he continues looking at the bodies of the bio-androids.

"Only the movements of captured Meta-Humans, potential experiments to help further refine my Meta-Gene modification program."

"And the most high value target?"

>Ouranos turns his attention back towards Saturnus.

"Maximus. He's en route to a forward operating base in South America. They should be arriving shortly…."

>Silence then falls between the two Thulcandrans, before Maximus then speaks up.

"Go. I will not stop you if you are certain of an attack on the transport."

>Saturnus then turns around to leave, speaking once more as he does so:

"I do not see the worth of the Tasogare boy. He is an ant in the grander kingdom compared to us."

>As Saturnus leaves, Ouranos thinks to himself:

{"It isn't the boy himself that concerns me. It is what he is merged with, that spells grave danger for my plans."}


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>Location: Somewhere in South America
>Time: 11:00 AM [Relative]

>As the large armored transport caravans reach a bridge, the main escort vehicle begins to slow down its movements.

["Careful, we're reaching the bridge. Signal to the caravans behind us to slow down."]

>One of the mercenaries then looks out from their side of the vehicle - making a hand signal behind them for the rest of the caravan to slow down.

>As they do so, the entire precession comes to a grinding halt all of a sudden.

["What the?! Why can't we move?"]

>Speaking in Spanish, the local mercenaries hired for the operation begin to coordinate their movements, slowly getting out of their vehicles and moving to check the internals of the vehicles. Tires, engines and anything else that could be the faulty part - are all inspected.

>After a few minutes, the lead mercenary group of the operation then takes out a wireless receiver device.

["This isn't good. I'm going to have to make an update to request a supply drop. If we don't get the cargo there soon, the payment is voided."]

["What's the payload anyways? Weapons? Schematics?"]

["Not what, who. It's Maximus, the American from the Liberators."]

>Murmuring starts to occur throughout the group of mercenaries, as they all give responses of both surprise and amazement.

["Mother of God! We're hauling Maximus?!"]

["He nearly ripped New York City apart! I saw him levitate huge chunks of Manhattan!"]

["We all did. I had no idea he was still alive, but I checked his containment unit before loading it. It's him. This means our employer's the real deal - and the payment for this job is big. So don't fuck it up - any of you."]

>The head mercenary points at all of the dozens of mercenaries standing before him - as he then fastens his balaclava and helmet firmly onto his head again. Activating his goggles, he then says:

["We'll secure the area and wait for HQ to send more vehicles our way. Best case scenario, we've snagged on sone vehicular traps. But we need to ensure the power's still up - so that Maximus's containment cage keeps him in hibernation."]


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>However, before the mercenaries can even act - a blinding flash of red light courses through the area.

>The light is so quick and so brief however, that none of the mercenaries can respond to it in real time - due to their standard reaction times.

>Suddenly, entire body parts forcefully split from the mercenaries' bodies - causing spurts of blood to appear in numerous areas.

["Slow. Always too slow."]

>A distorted voice says in Japanese, as heavy footsteps appear from the clearing. As the armored footsteps of Kagemusha get louder, his armor becomes visible in the light of the sky above.

>Now looking up at the main transport vehicle, Kagemusha makes a quick flicking motion with his armored finger - causing another bright red light to spontaneously appear on the vehicle.

["Now reveal to me the cargo."]

>As the vehicle immediately slices in two - the large truck falls to the side in two giant pieces. A giant explosion is then caused as the engine is ruptured in the attack.

>A large metallic pod then falls to the ground - meters away from Kagemusha.

>With another finger motion, now pulling his fingers inwards, space itself seemingly warps around the area - instantaneously transporting the pod to his feet.

>Placing his hand on the pod, Kagemusha then makes the faintest of muscle movements with his hand - causing a flurry of bright red slashes to appear on the metallic pod, completely ripping it apart as well.

>As the small metallic shards fall to the ground - Kagemusha then looks down at the armored figure sleeping in a metallic casing.

"Maximus, I presume?"

>Kagemusha says, speaking in English as he looks over the hibernating man. The burning flames of the explosion are all around him as he speaks.


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>Maximus slowly feels his mind return to him as he places a hand to his metallic helmet. Wincing in pain, the older man looks up in a daze.


>Taking a moment to focus his vision, he then sees the face of Kagemusha and immediately jumps out of the pod - now hovering in the air.

"You! Were you the one who trapped me in that damned metallic cage?!"

>Kagemusha has his sword still sheathed as he crosses his arms casually. Looking up at the hovering Meta-Human, he then asks:

"Does your environment indicate that to be the case, Maximus?"

>Confused, Maximus slowly looks around - seeing the decapitated and dismembered bodies of the mercenaries, with bloody stains on the ground. He also sees the damaged and burning truck caravan - revealing the context of the situation to him.

"…..I suppose not."

>Slowly turning his attention back towards Kagemusha, Maximus then speaks up, still suspicious.

"Even so, I have no reason to trust a figure who is capable of massacring dozens of men - even if they are hired mercenaries."

>Kagemusha makes a gesture with his hand as he responds.

"Being lectured by the great Maximus is rather ironic, wouldn't you agree? Having massacred thousands of innocent people yourself, in the name of the greater good, no?"

>Feeling his fist reflexively curl into a ball, Maximus snarls his response.

"I did not mean to hurt innocent people that day! The humans forced my hand, and they would not leave me be!"

>Looking off to the side, Maximus then scowls as he slowly hovers over to the forms of the dead bodies.

"It wasn't supposed to end in more bloodshed….I…We….simply wanted to make our voices known to the larger conclave of humanity - that we would not be herded like mere livestock!"

>Silent, Kagemusha actually listens to Maximus's words for a moment, before he then speaks up.

"And you were punished for your actions with confinement. You have been away from the outside world for nearly thirty years, Maximus. Though I am sorry to say…"

>Holding out his hands to the side - to showcase the environment around them.

"The world has not changed one bit. You and the rest of Meta-Humanity are still seen as glorified rats. Livestock for cultivation and experimentation."


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>A wave of force then appears from above - dousing the flames of the explosion.

"Hmm? What do we have here?"

>Kagemusha says as he looks up - pretending to have not noticed the figure making their way towards his location.

>Maximus also follows Kagemusha's gaze upward - witnessing the arrival of Saturnus.

"You. Maximus. You should not be free of containment, Meta-Human."

>Turning his attention to Kagemusha, Saturnus holds up his glowing energy saber by the metallic hilt - activating another one in his other hand.

"Meaning you are the one responsible for this. My master was right to assume the worst of Zeta after her defection."

>Raising an eyebrow behind his helmet, Kagemusha remains silent for a moment, crossing his arms. Then turning to look at Maximus, Kagemusha reiterates his earlier point.

"You see now, Maximus? The world refuses to change. Time may march forward, yet the tempo remains the same."

>Lowering his head, Maximus then begins chuckling softly for a moment.

"It seems you are correct. While I still do not necessarily trust you."

>Looking up at Kagemusha, Maximus then says:

"I still remember who my enemies are. The arrogance of those who would presume to toss us around!"

>Maximus then immediately holds his hands out - blasting a massive surge of energy from his hands. The bright purple beam of light catches Saturnus by surprise, causing him to veer off to the side with his flight.

"Tch! Do not attempt to disobey orders! Restrain yourself, or we will begin your dissection promptly!"

>Saturnus then rushes down towards Maximus, using his Thulcandran abilities of self-propelled flight and self-molecular manipulation to amplify his strength and speed.

>Maximus then raises up his hand - creating a forcefield of purple electromagnetic energy around himself. The clash of the forcefield and Saturnus's energy sabers causes a rupture in the air around them - ionizing the atmosphere and causing another chain reaction of heat and flames to burst into existence.


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>Kagemusha stands completely still - seemingly unaffected by the massive flare up in both heat and pressure around him.

>Instead, he claps his hands slowly, keeping his attention and gaze fixated on Maximus.

"Impressive, Maximus. You have not lost your skills in energy manipulation. But this is clearly not enough to defeat this transgressor. Retake control - and release more of your power."

>As Saturnus strains against the strength of Maximus's forcefield, he then shouts at Kagemusha:

"You! The demon! I will deal with you once the Meta-Human has been silenced!"

>However, Maximus then inverts the properties of his forcefield at that moment, wrapping it around Saturnus instead and quickly moving it around into the air.

"What?! ARGH!"

>Saturnus shouts as his forcefield violently shoves him around at hypersonic speeds - slamming him into the ground repeatedly before dissipating.

>As Saturnus falls to the ground, he quickly regains his footing - though still shellshocked and shaken by the attack.

"Fine then. Nothing left to chance…"

>Taking out a series of small capsules from his belt, Saturnus throws them to the ground. Immediately, the ground beneath their feet converts into a grey, metallic substance that begins rapidly moving towards both Kagemusha and Maximus.

"I'll just transmute you both instead!"


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>Kagemusha still stands there, doing absolutely nothing but keeping his hands crossed together.

>Maximus however, holds his hand out - and immediately begins manipulating the metallic substance as it rapidly expands. Now completely controlling the movement and flow of the rapidly expanding metallic substance - Maximus then turns back to Saturnus.

"Did you forget my ability? I have nigh-complete control over all energy and all forces - that includes ferromagnetic forces."

>Making a flicking motion with his fingers, as his arm remains outstretched - Maximus immediately converts the metallic sphere into a series of razor sharp blades that rapidly pierce Saturnus's body.

>Saturnus then screams in pain as the nanites begin to rapidly coalesce around his body - attaching to his cells like a biological parasite. The internal organ systems of his body begin to break down quickly, as organ failure begins to occur.

>Thinking rapidly, Saturnus then curses to himself as he considers his only option to survive.

{"I don't have much time before the nanite cluster completely shuts down my brain! I'll have to use reconstruction!"}

>Cursing to himself, Saturnus then closes his eyes behind his mask and concentrates. Soon, blue light begins to coalesce throughout his body as the luminosity of the light gets brighter and brighter.

>Recognizing the onset of a large amount of force - Maximus then shouts to Kagemusha.

"Behind me, you buffoon!"

>Kagemusha then nods as he walks over to Maximus, stating:

"If you insist."

>Maximus then puts up a bright purple forcefield of energy around both himself and Kagemusha - as Saturnus then explodes in a bright blue light - that can be seen for miles.


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>As the light of the explosion dies down, the entirety of the forestry around them is completely charred. Embers of blue fire are scattered around the area, as Saturnus's unconscious body lies on the floor.

>Putting down the forcefield, Maximus then turns to Kagemusha and says:

"You are letting on far less than you know, are you not?"

>Kagemusha turns to Maximus and states:

"That depends. Do you believe that I have any information worth conveying to you?"

>Maximus points at the unconscious body of Saturnus, as he speaks:

"The abrasive moron's arrival left you no worse for wear than a moment prior. Either you anticipated his arrival prior, or you were capable of sensing him this entire time."

>Kagemusha keeps his arms crossed, amused at Maximus's declaration.

"Your lack of agency in this brief altercation further points to your situational control. Had this Saturnus been a threat to either of us, you would've acted pre-emptively."

>Now bringing his hand to the bottom of his helmet in a thinking position, Kagemusha then feigns surprise.

"I must admit, you are far more perceptive than even I had anticipated."

>Looking at the defeated form of Saturnus, Kagemusha then scoffs as he thinks to himself:

{"How weak you must have been, if Ouranos was willing to sacrifice you - just to observe me more clearly."}

>Turning back towards Maximus, Kagemusha then says:

"You may still wonder why I chose to free you from your captivity. The answer is simple."

>Maximus is silent, genuinely curious as to what could've possibly driven his new benefactor to aid him in his escape.

"It is because you are a message from me."


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>Confused, Maximus then asks:

"What are you talking abou - ACK!"

>Looking down, he then suddenly sees a black and red blade deeply embedded in his chest. Despite only making a single strike, Maximus feels that the sword is slowly draining his energy and life force. His mind becomes hazy as he feels a supernatural presence gradually fill inside of his mind.

"You are my message to the Meta-Humans in Sanctuary City. The ones that Narukami has chosen to align himself with."

>Blood immediately begins dripping from the impact wound in Maximus's chest, as Kagemusha drives the sword even further into his body - and now out through his back.

"Your wound will heal the instant that I pull back the blade. Just know that even if you perish in your mission - it will be for a great cause. It will be for the greater good, as you said."

>Once the full effect of the sword's magic has overridden Maximus's mind, Kagemusha swiftly pulls out the blade. With another swift gesture, he shoots all of Maximus's blood from the blade and into the ground - before sheathing the blade once more.

>Silent for a moment, Maximus's eyes then glow with a bright purple light - as his wounds heal. Looking at Kagemusha, he then slowly nods as he speaks.

"The Meta-Humans will be destroyed, or I will perish in the attempt. This, I swear."

>Nodding, Kagemusha then gestures for Maximus to fly off into the sky - powered by his electromagnetic and gravimetric abilities, he then rushes off into the distance.


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>Now looking back to see the unconscious body of Saturnus on the ground, Kagemusha kneels down in front of him and gives a soft murmur of amusement.

"Discarded like trash by a master who cares nothing for you. Maya was correct about Ouranos's disposition."

>Thinking to himself, he continues his assessment.

{"Including his heightened arrogance. Only a true idiot would leave anything of value to chance - especially in the hands of the enemy."}

>For good measure, Kagemusha stabs Saturnus with his sword as well, imbuing him with the same dark magic that overrode Maximus's mind. After performing the brief ritual with his sword, Kagemusha sheathes it once more.

>Now standing up, Kagemusha then makes a specific sign with his fingers from both hands.

"I'll deal with you later."

>Using his abilities, Kagemusha then instantly teleports Saturnus elsewhere - before turning his attention back towards the wreckage around him.

>In Japanese, he now speaks again softly.

["Whether Maximus succeeds or fails does not matter. Ryozo will understand the cost of betrayal."]

>He then walks over the bodies of the dead and dismembered mercenaries, showing no care for their fates.

["Whether he accepts the gravity of his failure or not."]

>Kagemusha then takes another step, and disappears instantly - leaving no trace behind him as he teleports away.


File: 1714156376252-0.jpg (544.55 KB, 1291x661, Base - 2.jpg)

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>Location: Underground Base
>Time: 10:35 AM

>Watching a live feed of the situation, Ouranos finally ends his observation after seeing the damage that was caused.

{"Complete awareness of his surroundings, including the hypersonic movements of Saturnus. This is in line with the report given about the Champion clones and their attack formation. Their attack should've completely caught them by surprise - but they had time to prepare."}

>Now walking away from the observation room of the Underground Eukaryon Base, Ouranos continues contemplating his thoughts.

{"I figured that his spatial awareness was capable - but borderline absolute control over localized space is problematic, even if his range was continental, as per my original assumptions."}

>As he makes his way down to the transportation bay of the base, he then continues thinking.

{"My spells may have concealed the location of Eukaryon's core bases, but Tasogare does indeed have magical abilities - then it is only a matter of time before he finds this location."}

>Ouranos stops for a moment and then sighs, now placing his hands behind his back and under his cloak.

{"Nonetheless, it was a tactical gamble to allow Saturnus to confront him. I had assumed that his spatial sensory abilities were limited to the confines of a continent - given the speed that the Champion clones were flying when they reached his family's castle. But this…..This is far more dangerous."}

>A series of Eukaryon agents stop by Ouranos for a moment, giving him a field report. He then nods and gestures for them to leave him be, as he continues to contemplate his thoughts at a rapid speed.

{"Had I know that he had the capacity to teleport across the entire planet, I would not have allowed for Saturnus to fly their on his own. In my haste, I had assumed that Saturnus would reach the convoy and extract Maximus before Tasogare could arrive. How much of a fool I was, and have been this entire time!"}

>Punching a nearby wall and shattering it completely with his armored fist, Ouranos then makes a decision.

{"I cannot wait any longer. I must activate the Eidolus series of bio-androids, damned the consequences. Tasogare must be stopped. If they cannot do it, then I must turn to the mystic arts. To that end, I must absorb more powerful magical creatures, if I am to stand any chance."}

>Looking up at the Underground Base's interior network of large caverns, roads and machinery, Ouranos then sighs.

{"Until Kagemusha and his family are stopped, along with Mosaic, Omnius, Speedrunner and the others - I cannot enact the Dark Hour plan. This cannot stand, and these obstacles must be removed at all costs."}

>Ouranos then walks off, his figure becoming more and more distant and faint as he leaves the area.


File: 1714157033185-0.jpg (392.89 KB, 2048x1034, TTC Interior - 11.jpg)

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>Location: San Francisco Coast
>Time: 10:35 AM

>A large metallic cylindrical device sits in the middle of the air - hovering above the city and cloaked from conventional detection.

>Inside of the TTC, Chimera and Fugue sit on opposite sides of the Command Terminal. Looking over the video footage, Chimera then says:

"I didn't know that this thing could still listen in on its former boss."

>Fugue turns a monitor to the side, continuing to look at the controls before him. As he rapidly types on keys, he then says:

"We don't need to know what he said to infer what happened. That Kagemusha guy's Akito Tasogare. I'm also guessing that Saturnus is a Thulcandran, given how he called Ouranos 'master'."

>Chimera is silent for a moment, before he curses in response.

"Shit. We need to get that guy out and send him to Aiden and Mechanicus. If Tasogare learns what Thulcandrans and Chronarchs are, this is only gonna get more messy."

>Fugue turns in his seat to look at another set of keys and switches. As he begins interacting with them and typing, he then asks:

"So what are we going to do about Eukaryon? The Champion clones are all finally dead, at least for now. I don't think there are any more DNA traces of Centurion left to clone new bodies from."

>Chimera walks over to Fugue and then stands behind him, crossing his arms and looking at the large monitor in front of Fugue.

"No, but those bio-androids look like another problem. If the schematics we saw are accurate? Then they can drain Meta-Humans of their powers with an injection spike from their palms. Sort of like what Harvester did decades ago."

>Blinking behind his helmet, Fugue then looks up at Chimera and says:

"Wait, didn't she have a Meta-Gene file on the server data we got from the MRD Spire?"

>Chimera nods as he sees where Fugue is going with his statement.

"It makes sense. Eukaryon likely hacked the MRD's database through the old underground labs that dad set up with William. The labs that the MRD took control of later on. If you could do it, I don't see why they couldn't with far more advanced technology."


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>Fugue then makes another set of keystrokes with his hands as he speaks to Chimera.

"I've already notified Mechanicus. He should be getting the feed we recorded."

>Looking behind himself at Chimera, Fugue then asks:

"Should we wait for an OK before going after Saturnus?"

>Chimera nods and says:

"Call up Mechanicus on an encrypted quantum link from our TTC to his. Let's hear what he has to say first."


>A few minutes later, a large holographic panel with Virgil's face is visible for them both to see.

>Waving at both of them, Virgil then says:

"Hello Marek. Jakob. It's nice to hear from you both again. How is the TTC functioning so far? Any issues?"

>Shaking his head, Chimera has his arms crossed as he looks up at the projection.

"No we're good Sam. Thanks. I trust that you got the data that Jakob sent you?"

>Nodding, Virgil then says:

"I had to find a way to leave the talk with Phoebe and her father Silas. Sorry I forgot to give context! I'm visiting your uncle at his house today - Phoebe's request. He wanted to get to know me better."

>Scoffing lightly, Chimera then responds:

"That's not surprising. Uncle Si was always a bit too nice, honestly."

>Fugue then speaks up:

"Better to be nice than to be harsh."

>Getting back on topic, Chimera then asks Virgil:

"So what do you think? Should we try and find Saturnus?"

>Virgil nods in response.

"Given the footage of both the initial attack on Tasogare Castle and the skirmish in South America? I'd say it's likely that Akito has taken Saturnus back to Tasogare Castle. He'd likely want to interrogate him. If you can sneak into the place and get Saturnus out, then there shouldn't be any problems."

>Chimera then thinks to himself:

"There's one problem though. Tasogare himself. From what Ouranos saw, he has an extreme degree of space-time manipulation. Even if we assume he's not already there, he could likely be alerted to any disturbances in the Castle in an instant."


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>Virgil thinks intently for a moment, before he then speaks up.

"You can use the TTC in stealth mode. Every Trans-Temporal Capsule has the capacity to fold space in on itself through non-Euclidian means. Combine that with the quantum tunneling circuitry, and you should be able to fool Akito into thinking that nothing is there. That should at least mask your arrival."

>Chimera then speaks up, stating:

"What about his family members? They've got Meta-Human powers as far as we can tell."

>Virgil then speaks up, stating:

"I have an idea. Plot a spatial-temporal jump to Tasogare Castle right now, and have the TTC open a brief wormhole to scan the denizens there.

>Hesitant, Fugue looks up at Chimera, who nods at him.

"You heard the man."

>Begrudgingly, Jakob does just that, as his Thulcandran brain begins to interface with the technology once more. After typing the proper keystrokes and manually flipping switches, he plots a course for Tasogare Castle in Kyoto, Japan - then performs the given scan.

>Silence follows for a moment, before Virgil then says:

"That settles it then, they're not Meta-Humans. The TTC would've detected their energy signatures if they were - given that I've already calibrated Meta-Gene signatures into the diagnostic scan set for all TTCs."

>Blinking, Chimera then perks up:

"….So they're not Meta-Humans then? Para-Humans I suppose? Supernatural in some other way?"

>Nodding, Virgil then speaks up in return.

"Likely magical in nature. That seems to be the most frequent indication of the supernatural amongst Para-Humans so far."

>Fugue then asks a pertinent question.

"If we make sort of move on Tasogare Castle, even if we're sneaky enough to get in and out. The minute that Akito realizes that Saturnus is gone, he's going to suspect intervention."

>Virgil nods.

"That's true, but he won't expect you. Given the context of the situation in his mind - his main suspect is Ouranos - who just happens to be a Chronarch with access to spatial-temporal technology, even if he doesn't have his TTC anymore."

>Chimera and Fugue look at each other for a moment, before saying:

"Alright. We'll do it. But we still need a favor from you though."

>Virgil nods, stating:

"Name it."

"We need someone who can cause a diversion in Japan. Fight Akito evenly long enough for us to get in and get out. We also need them to have probably cause to arrive in Japan, so that suspicion remains on Ouranos once Akito realizes that Saturnus is gone."

>Virgil gives a soft smile as he says:

"I believe we may know someone who can help with that."


File: 1714162661887-0.jpeg (333.98 KB, 1920x939, Kyoto - 2.jpeg)

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>Location: Kyoto, Japan
>Time: 12:00 PM [Relative to Japan]

>Shirai sits on top of a large building, overlooking the entirety of the city. Silent, he continues to meditate in place, controlling his breathing.

>After a few more seconds, he can feel a presence suddenly hovering in front of him.

["So you've finally decided to come to your senses?"]

>Shirai opens his eyes to see Kagemusha, standing before him. As usual, his arms are crossed as he looks over Shirai with a keen sense of interest.

>Narrowing his own eyes behind his mask, Shirai then states:

["I have come to talk sense into you, Akito. To stop you from further progressing down the path of a madman."]

>Slowly hovering in the air closer towards Shirai, Kagemusha keeps his arms crossed as he replies to Shirai's statement.

["And what makes you so sure that I'm the madman? People have destroyed themselves over far less ambitious goals, have they not?"]

>Shirai then jumps up into the air, backflipping as he lands on the ground - withdrawing his two swords from his back. Assuming a combat stance, he then stares daggers into Kagemusha's eyes.

["I am not the one who attempted to kill his former friend, out of a mere suggestion of altered loyalties!"]

>Kagemusha slowly hovers to the flooring of the rooftop, landing on the other side of Shirai. His hand slowly grips the pommel of the Eien no Yoru blade as he speaks.

["But you are the one who turned your back on your obligations to me. You are a Narukami first, Ryozo. A Hoyokazi second, if ever."]

>Steeling his resolve further, Shirai then states:

["No, Akito. I am what I choose to be. Something my friend has also decided."]

>Confused for a moment, Kagemusha then says:


>Suddenly, a massive surge of magical lightning rains down from above - striking through Kagemusha's spatial defenses and hitting him. The power of the surge sends him flying into the air as another surge of magical lightning appears.

>Then, Paladin appears from the bright flash, right beside Shirai.

"That's not gonna hold him for long, right?"

>Shirai shakes his head, running forward to jump off of the rooftop.

"No, so we must make haste. Your allies will get what they need - but we must work together to stall Akito!"

>Nodding, Paladin rushes forward into the air - charging up more magical lightning as he and Shirai converge on Kagemusha's location in the air.


File: 1714163228135-0.jpeg (1.21 MB, 1920x1362, Tasogare Castle.jpeg)

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>Location: Tasogare Castle
>Time: 12:00 PM

>Down inside of the castle's dungeon - Saturnus still remains unconscious. Unable to move, he's watched over by Shadows, regularly swapping patrols to ensure that he is kept prisoner.

["It's twelve o'clock. Time to switch."]

>One of the Shadows arrives in the dungeon corridor overlooking Saturnus's cell where he's bound in chains. Nodding, the other Shadow turns to leave.


File: 1714163283223-0.jpeg (380.59 KB, 700x1000, Hanabi - 2.jpeg)

File: 1714163283223-1.jpeg (489.71 KB, 800x1200, Inazuma - 2.jpeg)

>Up above in the courtyard area of the Castle, Hanabi is sitting next to another woman - somewhat taller and older than her.

["How do you feel about this, Ina? Taking on the Westerners?"]

>Inazuma 'Ina' Tasogare sits beside her younger half-sister Hanabi, pondering the question. She considers it for a moment before responding.

["It is a rather brash and bold move to make, all things considered. While I have no doubt that Kagemusha can defeat the Meta-Humans, it is the Para-Humans that we are not aware of, who may be the greatest combined threat."]

>Somewhat surprised by her response, Hanabi fixes her hat as she says:

["So you think we should hold back for now? Wait until we're stronger and have more resources and manpower?"]

>Nodding, Inazuma then says:

["Nonetheless, it is not my decision to make. Only the Kagemusha may officially declare war on any enemies we may have. I would consider discussing the matter with him, but I feel as though he has already made up his mind."]

>Hanabi then gives a playful tap on Inazuma's shoulder with her gloved hand.

["Come on sis! Just tell him! He's not a complete hardass anyways! So it should be fine if you let him know what you think of the matter! Right?!"]

>Inazuma sighs and closes her eyes for a moment to smile.

["I suppose you are right, sister. Very well then, I will discuss the matter with him later tonight."]

>While the two of them are talking, they don't notice the two cloaked figures who are sneaking past them…..


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>Down in the lower levels of the castle's dungeon, the two cloaked figures begins stealthily taking down Shadow troopers who are guarding the various corridors and hallways. As they continue making their way down lower and lower into the area - they eventually find their target.

"Well, there he is."

>Chimera says after decloaking, having knocked out the last of the Shadow troopers guarding the area. Fugue is soon to decloak shortly afterwards, as they both look at the body of Saturnus.

"…Well, I can get an evac from the TTC once we're outside. There's something powerful here that's scrambling the system."

>Nodding, Chimera speaks up, as he moves into the dungeon cell and rips off Saturnus's chains.

"It's likely magic, as Mechanicus said. Whole place is soaked in the stuff probably. Unfortunately for us, we can't really tell. Not without the magitek modes."

>Fugue then watches as Chimera picks Saturnus up. Hoisting the man over his back, Chimera then nods at Fugue as he speaks:

"Alright, let's go. Hopefully we can get out of here without being noticed."


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>As Chimera and Fugue make their way outside, they then find themselves almost immediately surrounded.

>Dozens of Shadow troopers are outside in the courtyard, and flanked by three women.

["I told you I felt something in the air!"]

>Sora, Inazuma and Hanabi Tasogare are standing in the middle of the courtyard - blocking the main entrance out into the open plains of the Castle exterior.

"That's the location that we needed to get to, right?"

>Chimera says to Fugue - as they're both having multiple sets of eyes trained on them.

"Yeah, more or less."

>Fugue replies, nervously looking around.

"Then I'll keep them distracted. Just watch for my signal."

>Before anyone else can react, Chimera takes a small capsule from his belt and tosses it to the ground - causing a large flashbang effect, combined with smoke.

>He also then takes out his blaster and begins firing energy bolts at everyone - designed to stun and incapacitate, not kill.

>Most of the others can't react to this in time, as Chimera and Fugue begin running through the smoke.

>However, one of the Tasogares can react, that being Sora as she merges herself with the air once more to sense the intruders and their movements.


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>Sora then materializes in front of Chimera - attempting to punch him in the chest, only for Chimera to react at much quicker speeds. He manages to sweep kick her while still holding onto Saturnus.

>After jumping backwards, Chimera then rushes towards the exit of the Castle - firing energy beams from his blaster at Shadows as they arrive. While doing so, he notices that Fugue is right ahead of him.

"Fugue! Activate the transmat system! Let's get out of here!"

>Fugue nods as he's already been typing at the data keys on his gauntlet. After a few seconds, both Fugue and Chimera are gradually surrounded in a bright white light.

"Sorry about the break in, but we couldn't let you keep the guy!"

>After a few seconds, the lights of the two figures go bright, as both of them are teleported away instantly.

>Sora then gets back up on her feet, cursing to herself in Japanese.

["Damnit! They completely blindsided us. Akito's not gonna be happy about this."]


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>Location: Kyoto, Japan
>Time: 12:30 PM

>After 30 minutes of direct combat, Kagemusha looks on at both Paladin and Shirai. All three of them are at the outskirts of the city - having already caused a significant amount of damage to nearby areas.

"You are testing my patience now, Ryozo. Continue this further, and I will this 'hospitality' of yours towards your adopted family."

>Sneering behind his mask and hood, Shirai grips his swords tightly as he snaps at Kagemusha.

["Empty threats are unbecoming of a supposed leader! Your word is worth less than the air I breathe! You are a pathetic excuse for a man, Akito! Your father would be ashamed of you!"]

>Upon hearing those words, Kagemusha finally snaps as he then unsheathes his sword and strikes, making a massive red slash in the air.


>Before Shirai can react, Paladin moves in at supernatural speeds - tanking the attack - although he still draws blood from the left side of his body.


>Falling to one knee, Paladin looks off to the left side of his body, seeing his left arm completely stained red with his blood.

>Looking back at Kagemusha, Paladin then winces to himself, before he then gets a telepathic message in his head.

{"Jack, it's me Samael. I'm broadcasting my mind to you through the psionic amplifier inside of my TTC. Marek and Jakob have gotten Saturnus out of Tasogare Castle - and I'm about to send him back to Thulcandra. You and Ryozo can retreat for now!"}

>Getting the signal, Paladin grabs Shirai with his right hand and feels his own body beginning to crackle with bright blue and white lightning.

"Do you have nothing to say, Ryozo? Has your cowardice extended to accepting help from Westerners?"]

>As Paladin's left arm begins to rapidly heal due to the empowered magical lightning, his clothes are repaired as well.

"He's under no obligation to answer that, Akito Tasogare. I'd suggest you stay here in Japan if you know what's good for you."

>Kagemusha has his sword drawn still, as he provokes a response from both men.

"Oh? And why is that?"

>Paladin and Shirai then both look at Kagemusha - dead in the eyes as they each speak simultaneously.

"Because Mosaic's going to kick you ass if you don't!"

["Because Mosaic will annihilate you if you refuse to listen!"]

>Then, the magical lightning from Paladin teleports both himself and Shirai away - leaving Kagemusha on his own.

>Sheathing his sword, Kagemusha looks at the light damage done to the city, then begins laughing.

["Well then if he really is such a threat - then I will have the best day of my life once I face him. However, Maximus will have to do for now."]

>Snapping his fingers, Kagemusha then disappears in an instant as well, due to his spatial teleportation ability.


File: 1714166946175-0.jpeg (264.15 KB, 1920x1080, Prism Base.jpeg)

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>Location: United States, South Dakota
>Time: 5:00 PM

>Inside of a familiar mountain range, a large sprawling high tech facility is operating at full capacity. Bright lights and electronic machines continue whirring to life, as large mechanical objects and biomaterials are being constructed in real time.

"I still can't believe you hollowed out Mount Rushmore for this. Absurd."

>Paladin says as he walks into the large command center room - full of holograms and Thulcandran technology.

"I needed a place to clear my head, and Sanctuary City was getting crowded."

>Mosaic leans forward at the command center's main console - placing his hands at the edges of the desk.

>Turning his head behind him to look over his shoulder, he then gestures back to Paladin by nudging his head in his direction.

"Come on, I want you to see something."

>Mosaic walks with his hands in his pockets as he looks over at Paladin.

"How's your arm healing up? I'm sorry I couldn't be there. Combination of work, picking a gift up for Stella and also dealing with the large mutant creature infestation inside of the Sanctuary City narrows."

>Nodding, Paladin rotates his left arm a few times while pressing his right hand to his left shoulder.

"Nothing's dislocated. I think strong enough beings can resist Kagemusha's strike. Though I'll admit - if he put a bit more force into his strikes? I think he could've bisected me, Aiden."

>Silent, Mosaic then places a hand on Paladin's shoulder, stating:

"Yeah I know. We'll take him on together next time. I promise."

>Nodding once more, Paladin walks on with Mosaic as they reach their destination.


File: 1714167398136-0.jpg (430.4 KB, 1920x927, Hangar.jpg)

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>Down in the hangar bay area of Prism Base, Mosaic leads Paladin down a flight of stairs - until they reach the lower level.

>Mechanicus is there in his armor, looking at the unconscious body of Saturnus. Beside him is Hyperia - who is crossing her arms as she looks over the man with her X-Ray vision.

"I can't see anything wrong with his spinal cord. All his vertebrae are intact, same with his discs. None of them are herniated."

>Taking Hyperia's words into consideration, Mechanicus then gets out his Quantum Tuner, the wand-looking device that Chronarchs are issued.

>After performing a few scans of the body, he looks at the results on the tuner's holographic display.

"Strange. His neural patterns aren't in sync. Brain activity shows a marked difference around the right pre-frontal cortex. Hypothalamus activity also seems to be suppressed. It's like he's….a different person."

>Mosaic then reaches the table where they're analyzing Saturnus - causing Hyperia to nod in his direction.

"Hey. Been a while."

>Mosaic gives Hyperia a light hand grab, as they pull each other in for a quick hug.

"Missed you too, sis."

>As they pull away, Hyperia looks at Paladin and nods at him too.

"I heard what you did out there in Kyoto. Good job, Jack."

>Paladin looks away, feeling embarrassed underneath his mask.

"I…uh…….thank you, Phoebe."


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>Mosaic looks down at the body of Saturnus for the first time, as he places his arms behind his back.

"So, you're still having trouble figuring out why his neural patterns look different?"

>Mechanicus nods, looking at the interface of the Quantum Tuner as he speaks.

"Normally, psionic alterations to a person's brain should leave some sort of a trace. However, I can't pinpoint any minute changes in psionic energy discharging that could've occurred here. It's almost as if his mind was completely transformed with some other method."

>Mosaic looks at Mechanicus for a moment as he replies.

"That's because your hunch is correct. Kagemusha likely used magic on him after he was downed, and judging by the video footage that Chimera and Fugue gave you? There's only one possible point where he could've done this."

>Mechanicus nods grimly as he reaches the only logical conclusion.

"The stab wound. His sword has magical properties, and can imbue its target with magical effects. In this case, brainwashing and mental manipulation of the target's mind, thoughts and memories."

>Shaking his head, Mechanicus then sighs.

"This is why I dislike magic. It is capable of breaking every single rule and convention that I thought we understood about reality. Unless you're magic yourself, it makes sorcerers and magicians almost impossible to counter."

>Mosaic then places his hand on Saturnus's chest armor, saying:

"Good thing that I'm a sorcerer then, right?"

>Mosaic then whispers an incantation as his hand glows with a bright red light. The bright red light then covers the entirety of Saturnus's body - before a demonic black looking shadow is exorcized from the body, and dissipates into nothingness.

"There. I've excised any traces of magical energy and power from his body - which should return his mind to its proper state. Now you can send him back home."


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>Mosaic looks at Mechanicus, Hyperia and Paladin as he speaks.

"At this point, we have to operate under the assumption that Kagemusha either knows that we're the ones who took Saturnus back - or that we're at least aware of his plan to attack us."

>Scratching the left side of her cheek, Hyperia is lost in thought.

"So we're gonna be attacked on all fronts by some glorified samurai and his army of sorcerer ninjas? Great. Just what I needed this year."

>Paladin looks at Hyperia and says:

"If it's any consolation, Phoebe. I believe they'll concentrate their focus on Sanctuary City. It's where the largest concentration of Meta-Human vigilantes reside. Including Aiden."

>Turning to face Mosaic for a moment, Paladin then says:

"I do believe that you are now his prime target, Aiden. He seems to take a keen interest in those who demonstrate strength without restraints. I wouldn't be surprised if he willingly demolishes the city just to draw you out."

>Mechanicus then perks up with a suggestion.

"If that's the likely outcome, then we should press the advantage and set the terms of engagement."

>Now feeling all eyes on him, Mechanicus explains further.

"Akito thinks that Sanctuary City and the other major Meta-Human strongholds are the strongest reserve of potential fighters, correct? According to Ouranos, that's what he believes. So in that case, we're going to set a trap for him."

>Making a gesture with his hands, Mechanicus then says:

"Why don't we just systematically dismantle his forces by directing all of the cities' criminal elements towards them? Two birds, one stone."

>Hyperia then speaks up in response.

"You know these guys are going in for the kill, right? Sure, we're not exactly best friends with the bad guys - but they're still people too."

>Nodding, Mechanicus then says:

"Yes, but the plan is to divide and conquer. The more spread out Akito's fighters are, the easier it'll be for us to neutralize them by surprise. Then once they're all defeated, we can coordinate our attacks against Akito himself."

>Mosaic then gestures to himself as he begins to explain his stance.

"I'll take point and fight Akito myself. Something tells me he'd want the same. As much as I know Ryozo would love to be the one to beat some sense back into him - I doubt that's going to happen at this point. This is going to take a lot of planning and coordination, but we have the upper hand right now. I suggest we use it properly."

>The others nod as they then begin to plan their response.


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>Location: Tasogare Castle
>Time: 5:00 PM [Relative to SD]

>Walking alongside Inazuma in the corridors of the castle, Akito continues listening to the pleas of his half-sister.

["Brother please! Do not rush blindly into this fight! We are not yet unified enough within our own family! How can we hope to fight an entire hemisphere of Meta-Humans?!"]

>Akito stops walking and then turns to face Inazuma, stating:

["Do you trust in my power, Inazuma?"]

>Hesitant to answer for a moment, Inazuma then nods, stating:

["Of course I do! Why wouldn't I? You are Kagemusha! Head of our family! It is not your power that concerns me, Akito!"]

>Placing her hands on Akito's facial cheeks, she then softly speaks.

["I am worried that I am losing my brother to the madness of the family curse."]

>Slowly taking her hands and gently removing them, Akito then watches as Inazuma looks into his glowing blue eyes.

"The Spirit Sight my mother gave me cost her more than I could ever accept - had I been given the choice to deny her final gift to me."

>Looking down at the floor, Akito feels pain coursing through his heart as he continues to speak.

["She should not have given up her life for me - and she should not have hidden this fact from everyone, even father."]

>A look of sadness comes over Inazuma's face as she then hugs Akito tightly.

["I will not let anything happen to you, little brother. I swear."]

>Akito then hugs her back as he says:

"I will not attack Ryozo and his allies so carelessly, sister. But I will not allow his dishonesty to continually stain our family either. He must answer for his transgressions against father, and his transgressions against our shared families' pact."]

>Slowly pulling Inazuma away from the hug, Akito continues speaking.

["He is a Narukami, whether he accepts this fact or not."]

>Nodding, Inazuma then continues walking with Akito - as she asks him one final question.

"The business sabotage of Archeon and Grayson Industries will commence then - I assume you believe that Aiden Grayson and Marek Grayson will be valuable allies to our cause?"]

>Akito nods slowly as he speaks.

["They have no love for the Hoyokazis, nor are they aware of our family secrets. If we suggest a business alliance with them through familial connections - then we can slowly begin chipping away at the Hoyokazi's international sphere of influence."]

>Inazuma then stops before the throne room doors, turning to face Akito one final time.

["So the plan is to convince Aiden and Marek to come to our side - while preparing to defeat Mosaic and Ryozo once and for all."]

>Nodding, Akito then pushes open the doors of the throne room as he speaks.

"Hayami and Mitsuru are already deploying the countermeasures to sabotage Hoyokazi Industries. Whether they succeed or not is of no difference to me."

>Reaching his throne once more, Akito sits down on it as he forms his gloved hand into a fist.

"If they fail, then I will simply have to sabotage their operations in a different manner. It makes no difference. Either they acquiesce to our demands - or they suffer the consequences."

>Behind Akito's throne, its shadow gradually expands in size; a glowing humanoid figure then manifests with a pale red light. A large, demonic being with various wings, along with two horns above their face.

["The greater the harvest, the more savory the feast. Isn't that right, my other half?"]

>Akito then gives a wry smile as he sits on his throne, with the demonic figure behind him beginning to laugh in a haunting tone of voice.

[To Be Continued In - "Midnight Blade, Shining Light"]

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