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Hitori Ayumu

"You like my playing? Thanks, I guess. Huh? My name? Oh, it's Ayumu. Nice to meet you."

0 · 580 views · located in 2073 Tokyo, Japan

a character in “The Perfect Race”, as played by Tsukiakari

Description

Ayumu's Theme Song

Image

Name: Hitori Ayumu (Meaning "One person, walking alone," the implied meaning being to go one's own way.)

Nickname: Ayu, a nickname she rather dislikes, due to it literally meaning "Trout," as well as "Yuu-chan" by those more familiar with her, which she is somewhat more appreciative of, due to it translating to "Gentleness," as well as "Courage" or "Superiority," depending on which character is used for it.

Age: 15

Gender: Female

Appearance: The picture pretty much sums it up for when she's in a calm, kind state. However, this is not always the case. Should she grow angry, you can expect a flush of irritation, pursed lips, and a frown. On another note, she'll sometimes trade out her usual, simple hairstyle for twintails. For an of her in a bad mood with twintails, this image should suffice. Example. She's the one on the right. Not much else to list.

Love Interest: To be added.

Sense of Fashion: For the most part, Ayumu can usually be seen wearing a simple school uniform - it being her only set of clothes at the moment, and all. She prefers garments that are not too revealing, although she does have an image to maintain, so commonly favors a simple skirt and knee high socks, as it's a highly popular style. Zettai Ryouiki, if you will.

Height: Five foot four.

Weight: 120 pounds. She's rather slender.

Color: Hair color, black. Eye color, blue. Favorite color, light shades of red. Please specify what you mean by "color."

Occupation: Student, and pianist at a rather classy restaurant.

Likes: Playing the piano, being treated well, singing, practicing Aikido.

Dislikes: Being alone, being scolded or yelled at, being embarrassed, being touched, sad things.

Fears: Being useless, being touched, being found out to be inhuman.

Hobbies: Again, playing piano, singing, as well as reading books, usually light novels.

Catchphrases: "Don't be such an idiot!"/"BAKA!"

Fake Life History: Ayumu's fake life was that of the daughter of a legendary pianist and a similarly acclaimed singer. She remembers traveling the world, living in luxury, taught how to play piano like a master by her father, and to sing with an incredibly beautiful voice by her mother. They loved her, and she loved them. During this life, however, she also remembers being bullied by her classmates at school, giving her a rather powerful fear of being touched, even in her "real" life. Her life was fairly normal, although she was a rich kid, and ended up being somewhat spoiled by her parents, who doted on her. She thought she was the most important thing in the world, until she awoke to find out that she wasn't even Human. Now, she struggles with depression at the realization that she isn't even technically a person. Now, she plays her piano and sings, haunted each time by the memory of a loving parent standing beside her, walking her through everything, and desperately wanting to return to those days, even if her memories were never real to begin with.

Secret: Her personality disorders, and that she's a Kami no Ningen.

Severity of Faulty Emotions(Explain): She suffers from a combination of Histrionic and Dependent Personality Disorders. As a result, she requires attention and care to stave off anxiety and depression. On the other hand, she's also highly emotional, and while she tries to act refined so as to obtain the kindnesses she so craves, she often will lapse into a state of confrontational behavior and irrational anger to hide embarrassment or depression. This causes her to seem kind at first glance, but to then strike one who gets to know her more closely as an overly-demanding, impulsive narcissist. Given that she is also a practitioner of the marital art Aikido (Note: I actually practice Aikido in real life, so I should have an idea what I'm doing), she can also give those who annoy her a great deal of pain. Despite this, she's a kind, vulnerable person at heart, and, as long as you don't push her buttons, she's remarkably docile and kind to those she trusts. You could say that she desperately needs someone who loves/is kind to her, to serve as a sort of emotional crutch to keep her spirits up, and to fend off the consuming darkness of her despair.

So begins...

Hitori Ayumu's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno

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Peaceful piano music sounded through the air of the quiet apartment. The plush room was empty, its comfortable sofas and luxurious beds remaining unoccupied. The two main occupants of the room was gone, off at some concert. Their daughter, their beloved daughter, had been feeling a little ill, and so had stayed home instead of accompanying them. For some reason, she had been seeing random black splotches across her vision in certain places, but before she could look again, they were gone.

The girl felt that something was wrong, even though she couldn't put her finger on it. She decided to play her piano to take her mind off of it, but no matter what, she couldn't concentrate. Black flashed across the white keys, confusing her and ruining her songs. The sunlight streaming through the window suddenly took on a hellish red hue, bathing the apartment in crimson light. The sky flashed from blue to jet black, as though it had become night time in an instant. But when she blinked, it was gone.

"Am I going insane?" The girl wondered aloud, rubbing her head before attempting the song again. No luck. Yet again, her fingers moved to the wrong keys - it was so hard to play by sight when the appearance of the keys changed at random! This was so frustrating! Slamming her hands down angrily on the keys, she resolved to go get something to eat, then take a nap. Maybe things would clear up a-

A scream tore through the air as the girl fell backward, staring in horror at the stumps that were once her hands. The darkness was spreading from the keys, it was trying to devour her whole! No, no, no, no, this was a dream, it couldn't be happening!

Another scream. Oh no, it had gotten her leg, she had to escape, she had to get away! She desperately crawled across the floor as it faded to black right behind her. She had reached the door, if she could just get out-

No, no, no! Without her leg, she couldn't stand high enough to open it. The darkness was coming coming coming coming-

She bashed against the door, screaming incoherently for help. No one responded. The darkness was right behind her now, she had to get away! Desperately, she turned to her only avenue of escape - the window. Dragging herself across the ground as the darkness crawled up the stumps of her arms and leg, she hurled herself through the glass, shards of the substance tearing painfully into her skin - but she couldn't worry about that now. The darkness was right behind her, even if the fall would probably kill her, she had to get away!

It was useless. She screamed in terror to find the very sky cloaked in darkness, looming over her as though to swallow her up. Like some terrible nightmare abomination from beyond the world she knew, the darkness closed in for the kill, and her body was sucked up. She struggled to the last, screaming and thrashing and fighting - all in vain. She could not escape.

"Mother! Father! Help me!" She screamed as the darkness crawled across her once beautiful face, devouring it. The last thing she saw was that horrible blackness, darker than the darkest night, consuming her form and sending her plummeting helplessly into its shadows...

The girl lurched awake, thrashing about wildly. Suddenly, what surrounded her was water, not darkness. Maddened by fear, she thrashed about wildly, trying to carry herself out of the liquid. Agony tore through her body as electricity jolted through her prison, but she cared not. Hauling herself out, she rolled up on top of the tube, looking around frantically to discern where she was.

She was not at home, wherever she might have been. As her panic subsided, she noticed several things - firstly, she was in some sort of laboratory. Secondly, she was stark naked. Thirdly, she was in the same room as several other people. On instinct, she folded her arms over her chest, curling up on top of the tube and crawling backward, hoping not to be seen. What was happening?! Where was she?!

Then, she noticed a few other things. She wasn't embarrassed. She wasn't even afraid anymore. This discovery should have frightened her more than anything else, but she couldn't help but feel... empty. It was as though she couldn't feel anything at all.

Filling herself with a cold, logical rationality, she examined the room around her. She noticed the plaque, as well as the name written on her own tube. "T01 - Hitori Ayumu."

So... she wasn't Human. That meant that the memories she still had must have been some sort of dream meant to prepare her for the real world. She could understand that, she supposed. Well, the next steps obviously would be to find out where she was, to get some clothes so as to blend into society, and to discover exactly what the real world was really like. It didn't seem like anyone was here, which meant she would just have to find them.

Crawling down from the top of her tube, she dropped softly to the floor. Although she wasn't embarrassed, per say - she couldn't feel any emotions at the moment, after all - she still covered herself as best she could with her arms. She had been taught by her past experiences that showing herself like this was not socially acceptable, which meant it was something she must not do.

"Hello," She greeted coolly. "Did you all just wake up here, too?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Ayano Aoi Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Miki turned around, her virgin hair soaked in the mysterious liquid slapped the Shikenkan and slid down to the immaculate floor as she turned. Looks like everyone's out. She noticed that a person- she couldn't exactly figure out anyone's sex at the moment, for it was too dark and the only lighting was the ominous blue glowing Shikenkans which barely helped enough to figure out her surroundings. The person appeared to have a deep, yet playful violet hair color, which had also grown ridiculously long. The person walked up to her and finally broke the silence, besides the sounds of the sloshing in the Shikenkans, and looked up at the girl. "We need to get out of here." She was taken aback by the deep voice, all she's heard so far was her girl-voice, so of course she'd be surprised. So there's a boy.. I should greet him! She sat there for a moment with a blank face, and finally burst out, "Hi! Nice to meet you! I'm Miki, written with the characters 'beautiful' and 'precious'. Haha, conceited much, aren't I? What's your name?" A sudden hollow sound of impact broke through the conversation, followed by another male voice, deeper than the purple-haired boy. "This Shikenkan...is not my mother." Her eyes darted to the source of the voice and found another person in the faint, blue darkness. He had jet-black hair, of course its outrageously long too. "Is it me or is there only boys-" A silent slap of water interrupted, followed by another voice, this time, female. "Hello," Miki turned towards the relaxed voice and let out a sigh of relief. "Did you all just wake up here too?" "Ah-ha. So there is another female!" Miki smiled brightly in the dim room. "Nice to meet cha!" She stopped when she heard a girl mutter bitterly about something.. Perfection? Miki turned towards the quiet voice to see a girl with silver hair that shone in the eerie blue light. "Hi there!" she shouted out to the shining pair of metallic-purple eyes that penetrated the darkness. "What's your name? You should join us here!" She yelled, oblivious about the approaching late-night research scientist. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw yet another person. The person appeared to have blonde hair, like her. The stranger sat down, the dripping blonde hair rustled along, revealing his chest, confirming that he was a male. "Hey! You should join us!" she waved, not caring that her hair-dress/towel/wrap had slipped when she had turned earlier.

She stood up, too quickly, and slipped off of her "mom", falling down on top of someone. "Ack, sorry about that." She shifted and felt her chest slide smoothly against someone's.. And it was not a girl. Miki, being the dense girl she is, just slid off calmly and asked, "Ah, are you okay? Wait.. Who is this?? I can't really see." The room went silent for a moment, only to let the "newborns" hear the clacking of someone's shoes. The footsteps rose like a crescendo, steadily rising the tension in the room with every step. Just at the zenith of the tension, the sound stopped, and the lights outside flashed on. Miki's heart was practically jumping out of her throat in the suspense. Cold sweat was blending with the mysterious water that she was covered in and slowly slid down across her fair skin, making her shiver. She stared, wide-eyed, at the shadow of the stranger's feet at the door and clung onto the nearest person. She heard the jingling of keys and silent sinister laughing. The loud sound of a giant vault lock rung in her ears, she clung on closer to the person. Adrenaline rushed through her blood, and finally, a shout broke the tension. It came from outside..? "Hey! What are you doing?! This room is to not be disturbed until the next secret tour! Go home before you get killed!" The instant the word "killed" was uttered, Miki heard the sound of shoes taking off at top speed. She sighed in relief as the lights shut off and the room went silent. The clock buzzed, and all of a sudden, some kind of steam filled the air. The Shikenkans appeared to suck them up and the water turned even more blue. Miki jumped and looked at the clock. 6:13 AM. "What?! It's already passed about half an hour?!" Then something finally panged in her head. School. "Ah! Shouldn't we go to school? I wanna go to school! Can I?" she smiled, giddy. She stood there anticipating, her hair covering her important parts, most of her chest, and her "area".

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki

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"Well, aren't you chipper?" The cold, quiet voice rang out through the eerie half-light of the birthing chamber as Ayumu sized up both herself and the people around her. Idly, she noticed that the fact that this girl was so happy had made her feel something, a fact which she took both joy and sorrow in. She was glad that she could feel again - who wouldn't be? It was like fully waking up after a long nightmare. However, what she felt was anger, wondering just how this girl could be so happy now that she had lost everything she had ever thought real. To her, it only served to rub in exactly how much had been taken from her, replaced with this horrifying reality where apparently, both she and the life she had lived before were nothing but artfully engineered fakes. Yes... that was right... She was a Ningen no Kami. She was just a doll meant to look and act like a Human. To be "perfect." Humans were Human because of their flaws. Without them, they were nothing but pretty little dolls to be displayed on shelves, who walked and talked like the perfect little objects they were when you pulled a string, or pushed a button. Then, once they had amused those who played with them, they could just be put back on their little shelves and left to collect dust until someone needed entertainment again. She wondered if that was what was going to happen to her when those people talking outside found out that she was awake.

It's really hard to believe... For the first - what, 15? - years of my life, 85 centimeters was as far as I could reach? And I thought there was a whole world in there... Lies. Nothing but lies. Everything about me is nothing but a lie! My name is a lie. My personality is a lie. My family, my friends, my home, my life... all of my memories are lies as well! The only truth I can grasp is this body. This room around me. But what if all of this is just another lie...?! She thought angrily, resisting the urge to pound her hand against the nearest object, to cry and wail and scream over what she had lost. The only reason she didn't was because she knew it wouldn't do any good. She doubted she could just climb back inside her little tube and fall back into the dream she had just escaped from. No, she had to embrace reality, if that was what this truly was. For now, she just had to calm down, and work on finding out about the "real" world around her.

"Relax. For all we know, there might not even be such a place as 'school,'" Ayumu said quietly. "And even if there was, I doubt we'd just be allowed to stroll out of here. Can't you read the poster on the wall? It says 'what happens here stays here,' doesn't it? I'm pretty sure that includes us, given that this entire facility seems to have been designed to create us. I don't know what kind of fake lives all of you guys were living in those tubes, but I, for one, have read some sci-fi, even if none of it was 'real.'" You could almost hear the air quotes. "I'm Hitori Ayumu. Let's all just introduce ourselves, and then figure out some sort of way to get out of here quiet-like."

And to find some clothes... Augh! This is so embarrassing. To top it all off, did they have to let me wake up naked?! She added mentally.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Inoue Shin

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Shin turned to see that there were so many other people like him who were awake,Ningen no Kami.Three girls and two guys in fact.So there were a total of six Ningen no Kami...He refused to make any eye contact with them,and did not comply to the other girl with black hair's request to introduce themselves.He turned his attention to the scientist.Shin's face immediately turned into a mask full of loathing.He wasn't pleased with everything.Just as he walked towards the scientist,steam filled the room,and he seemed to suck it up from his pores,as well as his nose.While this was happening,he closed his eyes.When over,he opened his eyes,seemingly unchanged.He approached the scientist again.

"I want out.And I want it NOW." he stated blankly to the scientist. "If you won't comply,I will use force."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Miki stopped to absorb Ayumu's cold words and then replied, "Well, I for one would want to try to live as a normal human, even if I'm different. Anyways, -nice to meet you..." she paused thinking for a moment and smiled, "A-y-u - c-h-a-n!" She noticed Ayumu was probably wondering about her bright mood, after years of living with a poker-faced family, the least she could do is read body language and tone of voice. "Haha, if you're wondering why the he- I mean the the heck I'm so happy is because I'm finally out of that hellhol- I mean terrible world. And Crow, you seem pretty strong, help me with something." Miki climbed back into her Shikenkan, feeling slightly different as she entered, and then drifted down to the eerie blue light that was attached to the bottom. She took a good look at it and attempted to pry it from the contraption. "Okay, the lights aren't built in, they're just glued in, so could you guys try to pry it off of the Shikenkans for light? And Crow, try looking around the room with your light for a way out." Hmm, this is not just any normal super glue.. Of course, since this is 2073, not 2014. Miki gulped down some of the mysterious liquid and felt something surge up, but then quickly die down.

She scratched at the glue and then noticed a box in the corner, barely visible in the dim lighting. She quickly got out of the tube, avoiding the electrical edge, and flipped open the box. The dull cardboard box contained a piece of paper on the top, and a pile of weapons underneath. She quickly dumped the contents and pulled back her hair. The paper flew up into the humid air, and floated down into Miki's lap. The curious girl peeled the paper off of her thighs and squinted to read it in the eerie blue light.

Congrats! Looks like if you've found this box, then you must be a Ningen no Kami!

Miki stopped and stared at that one sentence in shock. [i]What..?!
She continued to read in the dim light and felt a dagger cut into her leg slightly.

I know what you're thinking, What the hell?! How...?! Psh, don't worry! I'm your supporter! And the reason why I know you, a Ningen to Kami found it is because I've secretly injected a drug that allows you to see items that I've specially crafted in order for only select few to be able to see! But no worries, the weapons are visible, the box is not! Anyways, I cannot reveal my identity, but I am always going to watch you. -Sōzōnushi

Crimson blood trickled quietly down the girl's leg, creating a small puddle. The mysterious water that was in her hair dripped onto the wound and the would closed instantly and healed without a trace. What the...?! Miki shook off the newly-learned knowledge and picked up the dagger that was stained with her blood and swiftly jumped back into the Shikenkan, scratching and cutting at the glue until the light popped off. Miki resurfaced and cut off the electricity, making it easier to access the Shikenkan. Miki stared at her outrageously long hair, which was only being an obstacle, and shrugged it off. The pile of weapons sat there, still untouched sitting next to the small puddle of blood. Her eyes immediately darted to a dark chrome chain with a weird object on the end, and she impulsively pulled it from the pile. The object had four adjustable holes to place the fingers in and a switch to flip open a curved blade which wrapped around the knuckles. Perfect. She curiously pressed another button, in which the sleek chain morphed itself into a chain of blades which sliced a part of her leg in the process. "What the-!" She quickly probed at the button again, which morphed it into a chain with protruding needles, which stabbed her leg once again. "Ouch!" Pressing the button once again made it into it's sleek chrome self. Miki tied the light to her chain and retracted the chain enough to hold onto the light.

She rummaged through the countless pile of weapons and found yet another box. She opened the box and emptied the contents once again. There were six small bottles that appeared to have necklace chains attached to each. Each bottle had it's own color: one shone with light shades of red, darkening at the bottom, topped with a scarlet ribbon, another glimmered in a warm chrome orange with a tiny golden star charm that dangled from the neck of the bottle, another that was clear, yet foggy, and glowed in an silvery ivory color, and a small, clear, crystal ball dangled from the neck by a silver thread. Another set seemed simple, yet pretty, one that was a opaque blue with specks of pink camouflaging in the glass, another was a blazing opaque red, another that was a mysterious opaque jet black, yet it still glowed a deep violet. Miki plucked the orange one instinctively and hung it around her neck comfortably. She dived into her Shikenkan to heal her wounds and noticed her bottle actually trying to float in the anti-buoyant water. "I should probably keep some of this healing water..." she mumbled to herself as she popped off the lid. Soon enough, the bottle was vacuuming up the entire Shikenkan and she shut it quickly so she could climb out. "What the.. How in the world can this little bottle which is as small as my finger fit so much water?!" Miki began to see odd green waves of light radiating from the walls of the Shikenkan and finally figured out the puzzle. "So it's not the water that's giving that surge, but those rays! Either way, those rays must mean no good.." Miki curiously wandered to the Shikenkan next to hers, and read the owner's name: Susumu Riku. The blonde guy? She opened her bottle inside of his water, and nothing happened; it didn't even empty out! She sat on the rim, avoiding the electricity, befuddled. She opened it and looked her quarter-empty Shikenkan, noticing the water was beginning to weakly make it's way to the bottle. Is this bottle supposed to be for me?! Miki shut the bottle and the water ceased to move. The girl scurried to the pile of bottles and randomly choose the opaque red one, popping it open and then looking around, to see Susumu Riku's water reacting. "What the f*c-!" she dropped the bottle, surprisingly, it didn't break. Miki stood there, stark-naked with only her hair to cover herself, her light-chain, the bottle in hand, and her dumbfounded face.

[TnevdaNai, umm.. The scientist didn't enter, and the Ningen no Kami are currently locked in the room!]

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki

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"'Ayu-chan?' Alright, I'm going to make one request, and that's never call me by that stupid nickname again!" Ayumu exploded, glaring at Miki. Being called a trout by this scatterbrained nutcase was just insulting.

She might have fumed a while longer if she hadn't seen Niki rushing over to a small crate in the corner, then repeatedly making exclamations of "ouch!" Wandering over, to Ayumu's surprise, she found a rather large pile of weapons lying around. What the hell was that doing here? Most of them were rather strange. Daggers, spiked chains, and so forth, but one of them caught her eye. It was a curved pole made from black wood, about five feet in total length. About a foot and a half of this length was made up by its rather oversized hilt, while the remaining portion was a skillfully crafted wooden imitation of the curved blade universally affiliated with Japanese swords. She knew what the blade was - a Nagamaki, or at least a wooden imitation of one. While she hadn't specifically trained in that weapon, even in her past life, she had learned enough Aikido to use both a Jo staff and a Bokken. This weapon was sort of like a mash-up between the two, which meant that maybe - just maybe, she might have been able to use it.

"Well, what have we here? Someone clearly doesn't know enough about the sci-fi genre to realize that you don't leave potentially dangerous weapons in the same room as your God-person prototypes," Ayumu said sarcastically, picking up the weapon. To her surprise, when she grasped it by the hilt, a metallic sound greeted her ears, and a blade slid partially out of the wooden sheath which she had previously thought to be the blade itself. This surprised her even more. A real weapon? And of this craftsmanship?

Gently, she removed the weapon from its sheath, looking at it in the faint blue light of the Shikenkan. She smiled approvingly. This would do just fine, if it came to violently breaking out and escaping the compound. Although, she noted, a stark naked girl battling her way out of a secret research facility using an antiquated bit of Japanese weaponry seemed too much like something from some anime to be plausible. Come to think of it, only in fiction would something like that ever work! Whatever guards this place had must have been armed with the latest in weaponry, and given that the current year was decades beyond when she had "lived," there was no way of knowing whether or not they had carbon-freezing death rays, or something cheesy like that. Even if they were still using normal projectile weaponry, a likely muscle-atrophied girl - she'd been suspended motionless in a tank for 15 years! - wielding a nagamaki wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell!

She sighed. In short, she was still shafted. She sheathed the blade again and continued looking through the pile. A small object slipped into her hand as she brushed aside a small dagger, careful not to cut herself as the manic klutz before her had done. Raising it, too, into the eerie light, she examined it. It looked to be a small vial of some enigmatic black substance. Glancing up, to her surprise and amazement, she saw Miki sucking up almost all of the liquid inside her own Shikenkan, storing it somehow inside her own tiny flask! Ayumu looked at the small black container with a newfound respect. It must have contained some sort of pocket dimension inside it that would allow it to store possessions related to its owner, or something. Well, hey, it was the only explanation Ayumu could come up with, and she supposed it would just have to do.

It looked like the water from the Shikenkan had some sort of restorative property. So, without much other practical choice, she quickly and nimbly clambered up on top of her own Shikenkan, and, avoiding the electrified edge, dipped her own dark vial into the glistening waters below. Just as she had suspected, the liquid swiftly sucked itself inside the small bottle, until the tube where Ayumu had slumbered for the past decade and a half was entirely empty. There was no telling when this mysterious liquid would come in handy, after all, nor could she predict how much she would need. Deftly dropping from the tube, she picked up her nagamaki and glanced around.

"Well. I honestly don't know what to think anymore. First weapons, then physics-defying bottles. In any case, I suppose we should just arm ourselves, fill up these weird vials, and see if we can't slip out of here without alerting any of the guards like the one we all just heard outside. And, if that fails, we can always make a berserk rush for whatever exits there might be. I doubt they'd just gun down the precious little experiments they've worked for so long on. I wouldn't bother with the lights, though. There are obviously people in this building, and carrying around a big light would just tip them off."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Ayano Aoi Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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One of the girls of the group was beginning to draw up all the attention she could grasp from the others. Riku found it odd how giddy and excited she seemed, despite the situation. He almost wanted to turn around at that point and leave the group alone completely. But it was no use; the girl locked eyes with him, too, and addressed him directly. He sort of wished he'd gone unnoticed.

But there she was, calling "Hey! You should join us!" and probably expecting him to do just that.

If he hadn't been so full to the brink with plain simple not-caring, he would have ignored her. But the situation seemed to call for cooperation, and making enemies wasn't going to do Riku any good. So he simply gave up and approached the rest of the way. He'd get this girl later if she ended up giving him a headache, which he estimated would happen sooner or later.

He stayed quiet, coming up to the group and staying on the edge of things, getting as best a look as he could in the lack of lighting to see the others in the room. There was the peppy blonde-haired girl, along with two others, and then two other boys. One sported vibrant hair, which caught Riku's eye pretty quickly, while the only thing to really catch his attention on the other boy was the fact that he was obviously taller than both Riku and the purple-haired kid. But it did spark a little curiosity about height in Riku. He gave a glance around at the other girls. He was about the same height as most of them, maybe slightly shorter or slightly taller, depending on the girl. And.... he was beginning to hope that perhaps these girls were just really tall... But that seemed unlikely.

Damn, he thought, biting down on his lip. Even if his lip wasn't raw and bleeding at this point, it would be soon. Habit would assure him of that. This means i'm short, doesn't it? He gritted his teeth, glaring at the taller boy in the room. He had to loom over Riku by a good half-a-foot, give or take, and it was beginning to draw out a little light envy.

Why couldn't they just make my body like the one in the fake world?! He thought jealously, straightening his back and stretching his neck as far as it could go, but just coming out disappointed further. He even lifted the heels of his feet of the ground slightly and tried to balance on the balls of his feet, but dropped down shortly after and looked away. Being bothered about not being a big tough guy wasn't going to do much. After all, Riku didn't need to be big and tough to fight in the first place. His style was built around the least amount of force with the maximum amount of damage. A light body would be good for evasion as well. But he still found himself looking at the other boy for comparative height as well. This one seemed about the same height. Any difference in stature would have to be measured by a third party. At least there was still the minute chance of being, like, a centimeter taller. But there was also the chance of being slightly shorter and his disappointment simply growing. He agreed with himself to leave the topic alone.

Riku suddenly drew himself back into reality, doe eyes trailing to a light source and listening with a touch of anxiety to a conversation on the other side of what must be the way in or out of the room. A way out... He repeated to himself. at least that isn't half bad...

But he still found himself frozen, listening intently and hugging his long hair in front of him a little tighter.

"Hey! What are you doing?! This room is to not be disturbed until the next secret tour! Go home before you get killed!" Someone called at the event that was taking place just beyond the exit, and the other person scattered. The light source disappeared.

Riku's body relaxed. At least the threat - if it could really be called a threat - was nullified.

But the talking started up again... Something about school, coming from Miki. He was only half paying attention in the first place to the comment, but found himself commenting back, regardless.

"What kind of person wants to go to school?" He scoffed, and made a mental note to himself that all the so-called 'perfect' in the world couldn't get rid of the way he fumbled on the pronunciation of certain words. It got unnoticed by some people, but some words just got him, and people would wonder what kind of accent he had, or if it was even just a speech impediment. Most of his word fumbles were subtle, just little mispronunciations or incorrect vowel sounds. A person not really paying attention probably wouldn't notice. But even with having lighter, more delicate sounding voice than he used to, he was glad to still have the same basic speech patterns. It was like losing everything you owned in a fire, and finding that there was just one little keepsake in the ashes that was preserved. It kind of made him feel good.

Another girl in the group seemed to clash with Miki's statement pretty instantly, and started going on about some kind of nonsense about there might not even be a school. The word 'sifi' came into the speech and Riku finally got the gist of what on earth she was going on about.

Oh, great, he thought sarcastically. Just what we need, a conspiracy-theorist si-fi buff....

Riku opened his mouth to retort to her about what an idiotic theory that was, but suddenly shut his trap. He had no reasons to deny what she was thinking, actually, and the whole deal about waking up in a big laboratory inside a big tube did seem to qualify as a possible government conspiracy.... So he simply decided to ignore the comment and disprove it later. Even he knew when to shut up. Even if he could be a bit of a hot-head.

"I'm Hitori Ayumu. Let's all just introduce ourselves, and then figure out some sort of way to get out of here quiet-like." She said suddenly.

Well, Riku supposed the task seemed rational enough. Better than calling out, 'hey dude, yeah, you!' to everyone. And trying to identify people by features probably wasn't going to fly well. Riku wasn't even positive of what he looked like now, aside from apparently being shorter and having blonde hair... He was about to answer to that, too, but the conversation went on without him. Oh well, someone would bother trying to learn his name eventually, wouldn't they?

He watched Miki suddenly start going for the shinkenkan again, something about lights, and asking the violet-haired boy, Crow, for some assistance. But then came a request for the others to try and get the lights out of their own Shinkenkans. Riku scowled, hugging his hair a bit tighter and giving a glance back at the sloshy liquid in his own. No way. Not a chance in f*cking hell. He was not going back in that thing! It had been freaking hard enough to get out. Sure, it wasn't really water, and he was already positive there was going to be no drowning and asphyxiation inside - after all, he'd spent 16 years of his life in that thing, hadn't he? - but there was something about being submersed that still bothered him. It was still far to much like drowning. He wanted nothing to do with it.

Miki crawled back out and suddenly started dumping the contents of a box she'd found onto a pile on the ground. Well, this, he felt, couldn't be as bad as investigating that Shinkenkan. Riku took a few steps over and came up behind her, peering at the contents that she'd scattered on the floor. Seemed like a shit-load of weapons.... And good ones at that. But that was another confusing point. Why put weapons in here with their little experiments? It hardly seemed like a rational decision in the least, unless they were trying to get everyone in this room to fight their way out through people who probably had much more advanced weapons. In a fight like that, everyone in the room would probably end up down for the count, and then where would the scientists be after that?

The scent of blood tinged the humid air, and Riku looked at Miki again. Oh, great, she was a clutz, too. Brilliant... And how many times was she going to get her leg sliced before she realized that she was letting her skin get a little too close to sharp objects? As she got up, though, He noticed that her wounds had closed. That was quite a surprise, but he figured it had something to do with that odd fluid.

Well, as long as she wasn't dripping blood all over the place with an open wound, he figured he didn't have much of a reason to pay too much attention, and headed over to the pile to inspect what there was. Though another girl, the one who seemed to clash so easily with Miki, was inspecting the weapons too. Riku recalled that this girl was the conspiracy-theorist, Ayumu. Her attitude seemed much-to-be-desired, too, and he figured a conversation with her would probably not end well, so he gave her little more than a couple glances, and tried to focus on the pile. He noticed Ayumu pick some sort of sword up from the pile out of the corner of his eye, sort of like what Miki had done with that odd looking chain, and tried to see if any weapons appealed to him. Normally, he fought hand-to-hand. A weapon in one hand was a dead give-away where an attack would come from, and Riku knew that from experience. Fighting a person with a weapon was occasionally easy, and he could determine what kind of defenses and moves to put down in order to disarm the person, and then they were useless against him. But he found himself picking up a weapon anyway.

It seemed like a staff, almost, at first - black, and metallic, with chrome patterns that reminded him of something futuristic and star-wars-y. Though, he wasn't quite sure why star wars came to mind exactly. He'd only watched those once as a kid, with German subtitles. He just had liked to watch the fight scenes. But he almost expected a big read beam to come shooting out one end. He inspected the odd weapon a little while, unsure of why he'd picked it up in the first place. Honestly, what was it even used for--

He stopped turning the thing in his hands and noticed a slight seam in between what seemed like two halves of the object. After a moment of considering, and biting his lip, he pulled the two halves apart, revealing the blades that each half concealed. Each side was both a blade, and a sheath for the one on the other side. Now this he could work with. Weapons that simply extended his blows, but an attack or block could still come from either side. Twin swords. The weapon seemed good enough for him. Nice.

He re-sheathed the blades back into each other, bringing them back into one staff-like weapon, and held it down at his side in one hand. It was nice, but the size was hardly convenient. He'd need some sort of holster or something for it. Well, after he got clothes of course. That was more of a priority than convenient carrying of a weapon.

But that Miki girl seemed to be a it again. What was she doing now? He watched her suddenly suck up a good portion of the liquid in her tank with some sort of vial, and his doe-eyes only widened. What the f*ck?! How the hell did that make any sense?!?! Suddenly the girl hopped back out of the Shinkenkan and grabbed another vial-thingy, this one being a firey, opaque red color, and suddenly, the liquid inside the Shinkenkan that Riku had come out of had a sort of.... reaction with it being opened. The Girl dropped the vial suddenly, but it didn't break. Which was... odd.... to say the least...

Riku walked over to her, bending down and picking up the small vial. He closed it and watched the reaction of the fluids from the Shinkenkan die down. His attention turned to the vial a moment, looking at it and inspecting the design. It was appealing to him, at the very least. He'd always loved the color red. But it was difficult to study in such abnormal and little lighting. Who could say if perhaps it were more intricate a design that he could completely tell?

Riku averted his gaze and looked at Miki. "Soo, what? This one is mine then?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Pop! That was the sound of Miki repeatedly popping the cap of her vial on and off, force of habit. The girl sat there and watched as a few of the others picked up their weapons and bottles, following as she did. Miki stifled a laugh at Ayumu's remark and then redirected her eyes towards Riku, who had already finished choosing his weapon and had retrieved his bottle, inquiring whether that bottle was for him. "Obviously," the girl replied while smiling, "Otherwise that bottle wouldn't have attracted your water like a high-powered magnet!" She held up her bottle towards the blue light, and admired it's faint azure glow that was peeking through the blazing oranges. The golden star made a soft clink as it rattled against the glass and snapped her back to reality. "So are we going or what?" Crow broke the silence with his sparkling excitement, ready for anything. Miki smiled deviously and replied, "Let's smash down this place and leave it exploding as we leave like in the movies..!" She equipped her chain and began to search for a way out, she wandered around until she crashed into a pole, and she looked up, to discover an air vent.

Miki excitedly turned around and grinned, "Guys! I found an air vent! But it's really high..." She peered at the vent that was 10 feet out of her reach and nimbly, with the flick of her wrist, latched her chain around on of the flaps and secured it. She turned around and called towards the others, "Hey! I found a way out!" And yanked off the cover with the help of her blade function.

EDIT: I choose the vial colors based off of the color section in your character application!

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Inoue Shin

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"An air vent? You've got to be kidding me. Crawling around in one of those will attract more attention than running out the front door screaming," Ayumu said sarcastically. "While on fire," she added for emphasis. Yet again, she felt like she was the only one who knew what you did and did not do in fiction, and did and did not do in real life. Maybe it was because she'd been such a shut-in in her dream life, she supposed. Wait, damnit, she was not a shut-in! She wasn't going to take thoughts like that from anybody, not even herself!

Slapping her palm to her face, she sighed. This was getting nowhere. Oh well, might as well crawl into the air vents. With any luck, the walls were extra thick to prevent traditional forms of escape, or something lame like that. At least that would muffle the noise of a bunch of people crawling through incredibly echo-y air vents. On second thought, though, they hadn't moved or really eaten for their entire "real" lives, meaning they probably had almost no body fat. If they were all light as feathers, the noise might not have been as bad as she expected.

Ayumu sighed. "Alright, fine. We'll take the airvent. But I'm telling you, this is a bad idea. Anyway, I'm going up next. When they inevitably start shooting the ceiling, I want to be near the front." With that snide remark, she stepped in front of the others and began to shimmy up the pole with relative ease. Once she had reached the top, she loosened one arm from its grip around the pole, and, catching onto the air vent, deftly pulled herself up, as quietly as she could, although every tiny noise rang on with a violence that terrified her due to the reverberations. Still, it looked like they were okay, so far.

"Let's move away from the edge. That way, they'll have more room to climb up," She whispered, keeping her voice as low as possible.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Inoue Shin

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Miki grinned at the tall black-haired guy and chirped, "That's right, what's your name?" Ayumu quickly followed with a few sarcastic remarks, but then in the end following along as always. Miki chuckled to herself and watched as the poison-tongued girl shimmied up the pole with a hint of reluctance. So she must be one of those... As otakus would say, 'tsundere' types! Miki herself was about to climb up the pole, and then something clicked in her head. "Wait. Isn't this a bit too easy?" A cold breeze sauntered around the room silently, sending shivers up Miki's spine. The improved air-conditioning was dead silent, like a church mouse, and was almost unnoticeable. Her arms groped around, and her baby-like skin was shivering as she searched for the source of the current. She came to the verdict that that "air vent" wasn't an air vent. Her pale untouched skin went even paler as she thought about what could possibly could be waiting for her.

She quickly snapped back and felt an uncomfortable draft. Miki finally realized that she was stark naked, she had been so since "birth" anyways. The young teen instead of feeling self-conscious, she stifled a laugh imagining breaking into a room full of grunts butt-naked with full-out seriousness. She ambled over to the pole and shrugged off the possibilities of getting captured and nonchalantly pulled herself up the pole, carelessly thinking, We'll just see what's waiting for us~ , unbeknownst of what Tokyo is like now.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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"Obviously," Miki had replied to his question, smiling for some odd reason. "Otherwise that bottle wouldn't have attracted your water like a high-powered magnet!"

Riku pursed his lips, a simple little act of annoyance, and gritted his teeth a little at the comment. Obviously, he thought, but found himself muttering out the rest of what he thought under his breath while the girl seemed to focus her attention on something else.

"Oh, obviously!" He mocked sarcastically, rolling his eyes and acting just part childish and part hot-headed. "Because I was totally paying attention to everything you were doing and exactly what these vial thingies are supposed to do! Obviously!" The little outburst was mainly under his breath, but he figured that with his quietness and all the different tasks that were at hand, he would get away with it. After all, that Ayumu girl was throwing sarcasm and retorts like it was nobody's business. Riku figured what he said would go completely unnoticed as everyone progressed.

He fiddled with the vial in his hands a second, and suddenly made a move like he would have to pocket the item. But of course, the only action he achieved was running his knuckles against bare flesh. Oh, yeah, he thought, re-positioning his unnaturally long hair that hung over his shoulder to shield more private areas in the front. No pants...

Riku chewed his lower lip just a moment, and figured the best way to keep it from being another thing to carry was to wear it.

........Well, Riku wasn't exactly the necklace-wearing sort of guy. He tried to assess other options for securing the object, and figured that it wouldn't make too bad of a bracelet. As far as jewelry went...... Yeah, this was still pretty girly.... But it didn't really seem to cross his mind, and he looped the black chain around his wrist until it fit snugly, and he was sure that it wasn't going to be falling off or bothering him the entire time. He already had one thing to carry; and he didn't need anything else.

After a moment, he turned back to the other's giving a gaze up at what was the center of all their attention this time around. An air vent. He stared in disbelief as a couple of the others started shimmying up the pole and crawling in.

Seriously? An air vent? He continued staring, coming up to the air vent and staring up at it as if it were the oddest thing he'd ever seen.

The tall boy went up first, followed by Ayumu, who made a few more bitter comments before going up, then Miki.

Riku gave a disappointed look, letting his shoulders slump down.

"An air vent? You've got to be kidding me." He voiced, staring up at those who had already gone up. He sighed. "Just perfect. Wonderful. And with my luck, I'm probably going to be back at the end of the ass parade, aren't I? Or at least someplace in the middle or behind a dude. Oh, yeah, the naked ass parade through a vent is going to be totally charming."

Half of the sentences came out dripping.... no, no, they came out oozing with sarcasm. But that was simply just Riku trying to get a point across. He'd said a whole hell of a lot worse in that fake world. But addressing everyone, he was able to completely assure himself that the remnants of his accent that he'd had in the fake life were still sticking around. As comforting as it was, he hoped no one asked about it. People normally could be pains in the ass about that sort of thing.

Riku stepped closer to the air vent anyway, walking over to the pole, since no one else was about to go up yet, and staring up a moment more. Now how was he going to do this? The weapon he'd plucked from the pile - more because he thought it was cool than anything else - was a bit bulky, and occupied all the space in his left hand. After another moment of lip gnawing, he figured the best way was to toss it up first, and hope for two things. One, that no one already up there would get a big metal stick to the head, and two, that someone might break it's fall anyway so that it didn't hit the air vent with a loud, metallic clang. That would surely blow the group's nude and sexy escape plan (haha)....

He got in a position, and thrust the weapon upward like a javelin, letting it land inside the vent however it wanted to land and on whatever it wanted to land on, be it people or metal, and focused on making his own way up the pole.

He gripped the pole and moved upward steadily, surprised that even with a slick body, making his way up wasn't as difficult as he expected. His lightweight body was easily lifted upward and maneuvered up with muscles he didn't know he had after the first examination of his body. He was surprised at how well toned he was, despite how lean and fragile he had appeared to be. Though he was still pretty disappointed about that aspect, having the weaker appearance was actually a good defense. No one would expect so much power out of his blows; they'd go easy on him and let their own defenses down. Not too bad.

He made his way up and grabbed the edge of the vent, pulling himself away from the pole and hefting himself into the vent with the others. Riku scooted as much as he could from the edge with the others in the vent, giving a peek back down just once. Just a couple more people to come up and they could get moving. After a quick glance around the vent, he picked up his weapon once again from where it was. He just wanted to start moving; this vent and all the people were making him claustrophobic.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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"Get your mind out of the gutter and hurry up. The more time to spend in this damn tube, the more likely it is we'll get ca-" Ayumu was cut off, her sentence ending in a startled squeak, as she barely managed to catch the thrown weapon before it impacted with her face, which doubtless would have made so much noise that they'd all have been caught.

"What the hell were you thinking, you idiot?!?" The indignant Tsundere hissed, barely resisting the urge to slap the gleefully idiotic pervert who had nearly creamed her with a thrown staff, only managing this incredible feat of restraint because, deep down, she knew that any noise would get them noticed. So, no matter how tempting it was, she couldn't...

Damn well she couldn't! To hell with being caught or not. She was pissed! He had nearly bashed her skull in, and was probably staring at her more sensitive regions right now! Drawing back her hand, she punctuated her statement by lashing out with a powerful slap across the cheek just as the idiot finished pulling himself up into the vent. Given her lack of physical strength, this wouldn't do much besides sting, but that hardly mattered to her at this point.

"Get a clue and think before you do things next time, idiot!" She growled, turning and moving away. "And don't let me catch you staring at my rear!"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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"Oi!" reprimanded Shin,staring at the two people who were making so much noise.The commotion would attract attention...unwanted attention.

"Shut up.Both of you.And,girl,is your rear or your survival more important at the moment?If you want to get caught,then go ahead and get caught yourself,don't drag us,especially me,with you.So stop making so much noise,you're just as loud as the staff.And you," he stared at the sarcastic blondie "make less noise from now on.Unless you want to stay with this girl here."

And with that,he started moving forward.Thankfully his long hair managed to cover his behind rather well.

"...the first thing I'm going to do is grab some clothes." he muttered under his breath.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Riku flinched back from the slap, staring at Ayumu with widened eyes. It didn't hurt that much, really, but it was just the shock of suddenly being slapped that got to him. It was a bit of a surprise. He hadn't expected to come up suddenly and get a big fat smack to the face, even if he had just recently had a rant about asses.

"Get a clue and think before you do things next time, idiot! And don't let me catch you staring at my rear!" Ayumu had growled at him as she started moving away.

He gritted his teeth, letting his eyes narrow and his surprise fade.

"gutter? Look, honey, all I did was voice complaints," He retorted to her earlier comment as he had been heading up. He kept his voice quiet, but expressed his aggravation and annoyance completely noticeable. "You wanna hear me get dirty, I can give you dirty." Riku's main issue was just the accusation that his comment had been pervy or 'in the gutter,' as Ayumu had put it. He figured she was going to get on his nerves a lot at this point. "And If you weren't paying attention, i was expressing how I wouldn't be enjoying the ass parade, not about being excited to stare at girl's butts while i crawled through a vent. Now that would have been a pervy comment."

He sighed, letting the short moment of rage fade. "I guess, in hindsight, i probably should have warned you guys about me throwing this thing up here first, but i was under the impression that someone would catch it. It was a little too bulky to hold it while I climbed up here."

But now that taller dude was cutting in. Riku started to regret going a little too far... Well, he started to, anyway. It already happened; can't take it back now. And it was kind of nice to blow off a little steam.

"Shut up.Both of you. And, girl, is your rear or your survival more important at the moment? If you want to get caught, then go ahead and get caught yourself, don't drag us, especially me, with you. So stop making so much noise,you're just as loud as the staff. And you," he gave a stare at Riku "make less noise from now on. Unless you want to stay with this girl here."

Riku gave a narrow glance back at him. "All i did was throw a big metal stick. I am interested in no one's naked rear end, and I was falsely accused of so!"

He pursed his lips, looking away again. It wasn't like he minded being the bad guy in a situation, but if he was going to get reprimanded, he would want it to be for something he actually did. Maybe he could humor Ayumu and her belief that he was obviously obsessed with her more private areas later. Thing was, he really wasn't thinking about it. He still wasn't thinking about it. But it seemed to tick Ayumu off. Yeah, sure, he'd love to give her a run for her money. Though, Riku wasn't exactly one to pick enemies with girls all too often. Getting them on edge, that was a different story. And far too easy to do.

He watched the both of them start moving. Well, perhaps, it seemed, he'd ticked off tall-boy, too. Maybe - no, no, no. No picking fights. He could pick fights with strangers once he was out of here and fully clothed. No need to get on anyone in the group's really bad side. Arguments were okay, but he didn't need enemies here. He didn't even want any. He just needed something to burn steam off with. Needed an outlet. He promised himself he'd find himself one once he was out. He had to keep his priorities in order, here.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Ayano Aoi Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno Character Portrait: Susumu Riku Character Portrait: Shirasaki Yuuka

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Miki blinked and scooted on until two familiar voices began bickering. Ayu-chan and Riku. Ack! The worst combination! The tsundere and the potty-mouthed grump-face. Ah, what should I do..?! I'm not good at these kind of situations! Miki fumbled around until the tallest of them all finally broke them up. The small girl sighed in relief and lowered her voice. "Thanks.." She paused replaying her memories, "Oh, you never mentioned your name!" she said. "Come to think of it, aren't we short one person?" Miki looked around and counted. Two girls, Ayu-chan and I, and then three guys, Crow, Riku, and the tall guy! Eep. Where's the silver-haired girl?! Her head pivoted around and looked for a head of silver hair, but no avail. "Sh*t.. Where's the other girl?!" Miki blurted, soon clapping her hand over mouth, listening to her flawless voice echo quietly in the vents. She shook off her worrying and quietly muttered to herself, "She can follow our trail of water right..?" Miki continued to scuttle on and heard a gruffly voice nearby, and then looked around frantically, making sure they weren't caught already. She sighed briefly, only to be interrupted by the voice speaking up again. Her hand groped around in the darkness, and she grabbed someone's arm by accident. She quickly jerked back with a quick "Sorry!" and crawled on.

Miki's hands and knees were getting a bit sore; they've been crawling around for at least twenty minutes now. A tiny light flashed on in the distance, and Miki recklessly briskly crawled towards it, crashing into a small mesh screen. She rubbed her face and chest, which now had an odd mesh pattern on her skin. Her chain jingled as it unraveled onto the metal surface. Miki quickly yanked it up and retracted it back in. "Hmm..." She stared at the restraint from freedom and it finally hit her. Her chain's pocket knife! Miki fumbled around with her chain until the blade finally flipped out, barely penetrating her raw, unexposed skin. She sliced the mesh as if it was butter, her hands shaking in excitement, and shoved the mesh to the side. The vent appeared to be big enough to stand up for her height, and Miki carefully stood up, her knees super sore from crawling. She began walking quietly with wobbly legs, and then grew to a solid, well-postured brisk walk. Her eyes sparkled as she got closer to the light, it seemed a lot more different than the ones that were in that tiny dark room. Miki whipped out her knuckle-blade and cleanly slashed at the weak lock. She leaped out recklessly, at first, the sunlight blinded her, but she absorbed it's warmth, opening her eyes. She floated briefly, her long, golden hair was a parachute, and she saw a massive school building below her. There was a sign that was.. Growing? She finally noticed that she was falling, and read the words that flashed by her. Seisei Hofuna Academy. The girl expected a harsh impact, but instead crashed into a... Person?! She looked up at the uniformed blonde boy who cushioned her fall. She heard the oh-so-familiar sound of a gun hitting the concrete and blinked, still holding her unraveled chain, which was now entangled all over her bare body. She looked around to see the vent that she came from... Twenty-five stories up. Her face paled as she began searching the boy for injuries. "Ahh! I'm so sorry! A-Are you hurt?!" She mumbled, obvious to her being stark naked.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu

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"Whatever," Ayumu hissed. "I kept my voice down, so get off my back. He's the one who nearly broke the bottom of the vent with his stupid javelin." Her voice was barely audible, as she did her best to remain quiet. Still, right now, the Tsundere was irritated. The way she saw things, none of this was her fault. They should have at least used the "perfect" brains in their "perfect" little heads and thought about things before they did them! She was at the back of the line thanks to the Riku incident, and thus, when she noticed a second vent joining the first one, slipped noiselessly off into it. Unlike the other one, it led upward, probably toward some sort of air conditioning hub on the roof. That suited her just fine and so, after a bit of a crawl, she reached to top - a grated metal duct leading out of the main ventilation system and into the open air above. Unsheathing her weapon whilst wedging her legs between the two sides of the tube to keep herself up, she began to pry away the grate in a frenzy. She had to get out, she had to get out, she had to get out! They had created her and trapped her inside a tube for so long, she had to get out, feel the real air and prove that she was still Human!

Still? She supposed she had never been Human to begin with. Ningen no Kami, perfect people who were not Humans. For the first decade and a half of her life, 85 centimeters had been as far as she could reach. She needed to extend her reach, to be able to reach out and touch the sky above! She could see it through the grate, but she couldn't reach... She couldn't reach!

She slipped down the tube several times, but this did not deter her. With a strength born of determination in the face of madness and despair, Ayumu hauled herself back up, and continued prying away at the grate. One side came loose. She'd be able to get out. She had to! With all her might, she crawled forward, upward, and swung her blade, jabbing it into the edge of the grate and trying to force it open. Even with her puny strength, it started to give way.

She tried to think back to her life before. Her father, her mother, her friends, her very existence had been a lie. The first "real" thing she had experienced was blind terror. Deep inside of her, deep inside of her, deep inside of her... Endlessly, infinitely, those last and first screams repeated. As she swung her nagamaki, screaming. As she pried open the grate with a fury, screaming. Giving a cry of rage, she forced herself forward with all of her might, and still the screaming continued. As the grate shattered before her, one metal prong cutting into her skin, the screaming repeated.

Finally, there was nothing between her and the surface. Dropping her blade, she fell to her knees and looked up, staring at the clouded sky above with a blank expression. The screaming faded. This was the real world, the real sky. She raised her hand. She couldn't reach those clouds, but she felt as though she was touching them. She was real. She was free.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu

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"So... this is the sky... The real sky," Ayumu murmured, looking blankly up as she let her arm slump, resting it limply upon the hilt of her newly acquired weapon. The sky above her was one she thought she had seen - until now. But no, that had been a lie, just like everything else. It was still hard to believe. Her friends and loved ones were just fakes placed in her head, and for what purpose? To make it hurt all the more when they were taken away? What sort of sick, twisted person would put anyone through that torturous realization, even if they were his or her creation? Why would they make someone like her think she was Human, and then shove it in her face that she wasn't?

She was smiling, but her countenance was anything but pleasant. That unmoving expression seemed locked on her face, as though she had been broken and was stuck like that for good. Even as the tears began to slowly make their crawl down her face as the realization struck her again and again that she was not Human, that her entire existence was a lie, she continued smiling. On top of that, she was alone, unloved and unknown, without so much as a scrap of rags to her name with which to clothe herself! Vaguely, she noticed that she was bleeding from a long, somewhat deep cut in her side, but she barely even thought about it as she dribbled a few drops of the fluid from her Shinkenkan Vial into the wound, sealing it in a flash. Slowly, she rose, taking up her weapon and brushing away her tears. As she did so, her smile never faded, and, in fact, never so much as twitched. She wore that same unnerving half-grin as she made her way over to the edge of the roof and began to look for a way down.

She found her escape route in a large pile of trash behind the building. She was fairly sure it would break her fall, as it was quite large. Despite this, however, her mind screamed at her that jumping from such a height was preposterous. She retorted by reminding her self-preservation instinct that she wasn't even Human, so it didn't even matter. That shut up her conscience, although those annoying tears poked at her eyes for a few moments afterward. She blinked them back, steeled herself, and then took the plunge. As she fell, part of her thought of how ironic all of this was. Doubtless, those researchers had given her false memories so as to make her more Human, and more docile. All they'd done was make her lose what concern for her life she had possessed, and drive her to such lengths to escape. But, then again, why was she even bothering to escape? Even if she got free, what would she do? She wouldn't have any records, meaning technically she was an illegal inhabitant of this country - probably Japan - and wouldn't be able to do a thing about her own survival. She had no family or friends, and no purpose besides that of a lab rat. What was she supposed to do besides sit in her tank like a good little doll and comply with her masters' every whim? Even if she ran, there was no safe haven to which she could escape, so why was she bothering to exert herself in the first place? She supposed it was out of a rebellious instinct of sorts. If she was to be the personal doll of some maniac who weighed her opinions, rights and feelings on par with those of a speck of dust, then why not throw a monkey wrench in whatever her creator had been scheming, just to spite him or her? It served them right for putting her through what they had, anyway.

She might have continued with thoughts such as this, but around that time, she crashed down hard upon her not-so-soft target. Although, as she had hoped, there were several soft, squishy objects inside the trash pile, there were also several very hard ones. Although she didn't think she had broken any bones, it still jarred her something awful. Ayumu had a feeling she'd be sore for a few days.

Groaning as she slowly slid down the pile, she staggered to her feet, glancing around as she checked her grip on her blade. Good. She hadn't dropped it. That just would have been a pain. Taking a moment for the stars circling her head to fade, she then took in her surroundings with a keen eye.

Well, she supposed. Although she could hardly call herself lucky, at least something fortunate had happened to her today. Lying against the alley wall was a dirty, unkempt man with a scraggly beard, an empty bottle in his hand and an idiotic grin on his face as he snored with a volume akin to that of a stampeding elephant. The man, of course, was not what was important. It wasn't what he was, rather, what he was wearing.

While the Tsundere felt rather bad about robbing someone who probably owned little more than she did, she felt worse about walking around naked and probably getting accosted, raped and then disposed of by some wandering gang of psychos. Perfection was anything but safe, after all. So, she left her sense of morality at the door, strolled up to the sleeping man, and promptly stole his jacket and jeans. He had drunk at least an entire keg of liquor, and didn't notice a thing as she stole enough of his clothing to get by. She didn't wait to see if he might wake up, however, and quickly fled around a corner. Once she was assured her victim was none the wiser for her crime, she sized up her ill-gotten gains.

The jacket was an old and somewhat tattered navy blue duster, lined with a color that had probably once been white, with a missing top button and small holes appearing periodically across its surface. Still, it would do better than her birthday suit, so she slipped into it and did up the buttons as best she could. It was a bit too big for her, and its sleeves entirely encompassed her hands, but, still, it would suffice. The man's trousers were in the same sort of condition as his coat, and were also very baggy once she donned them, but they would still work.

Sizing herself up, using a shard of broken glass lying on the pavement as a mirror, she nodded semi-approvingly. This was a vast improvement over going naked. Now she would just have to find a way to cut her hair to a more reasonable length, a way to get food, and a place to sleep, and she'd be okay, she thought.

Well, she mused. There was only one way to do that. It was time to head away from her birthplace and former prison, and into the wide world beyond. Idly, she wondered what she should expect. A lot had probably changed since the time in which she had "lived."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu

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Ayumu strode out into the street, her hands in her newly acquired pockets and her blade slung as inconspicuously as was possible in a small trash bag over her back. She was well aware that she probably looked like a punk, but that sort of image would help her, at least, for now. Who knew what crime rates were like in the future? This probably wasn't some sort of Orwellian dystopia, but she doubted that it was paradise either. If she didn't look like she could fend for herself, she might be targeted by anyone who could. And besides, this looked like the bad part of town, given the run down state most of the buildings were in.

Brushing her hair from her eyes for what seemed like the millionth time in the past five minutes - note to self: acquire hair ribbon as soon as possible to minimize annoyance - Ayumu looked around her, trying to think of some way she might provide for herself with no home, no money, and no past. Unable to come up with any plans, she simply continued walking.

Judging by how much the sun had risen in the sky, it had probably been at least half an hour since her escape. She had made some headway, at least. The buildings and people around her looked much higher class than before. This was probably one of the better districts of... whatever city she was in at the moment. It was fairly early in the morning, so there weren't many people out on various errands and such, and those who were avoided the rough looking girl who trudged down the street, glancing around her with a slightly confused air. She didn't see any flying cars yet, but there were a lot of things she wasn't used to. Holographic billboards, almost omnipresent motorscooters, various different holographic computer terminals serving as vendors in the shops lining the street... Clearly, a lot had happened in the past few decades, a fact which only further served to rub in exactly how alone and out of place she was. Being a fish out of temporal water wasn't fun.

The Tsundere might have continued in this way for some time were it not for a rather fortuitous development. As she took in the world around her, she noticed a small sign hung in the door of an upscale family-owned bar and diner as she passed it.

"Now hiring. Inquire inside." Those four words were all it said, but it gave Ayumu a thought. Working at a diner would be the perfect way to get by! Surely, being a waitress wouldn't require any sort of intensive background check, and she could always claim to be a down-on-her-luck orphan girl who would accept food and board as payment, an appealing offer to any prospective employer, since it would allow them to save big time in exchange for a minor inconvenience. On an impulse, Ayumu decided, and placed her hand upon the door, opening it quietly.

The only sound inside the rather friendly-looking, if dark and empty diner was the tinkling of bells as Ayumu opened the door, alerting a somewhat disheveled man behind the counter that someone had just entered. He looked old beyond his years, wrinkles already appearing on his tanned skin and gray hairs popping up in between the more common spikes of unkempt and matted black. Despite this, however, he had a kind, if weary smile. Something about that smile told the Ningen no Kami that her chances of getting a meal were better than she had first thought.

"Sorry, but we're not open for business yet. Bathroom's to your left, if you want to use it, but otherwise, come back in half an hour," The man said dismissively, not looking up from the cooking instruments he was checking over. Ayumu merely smiled wryly, and entered despite his words.

"I'm not here for that," the Tsundere said simply, strolling up to the counter. The man glanced up at the rather ragged girl who had entered his shop, sizing her up with a wary eye. "I noticed you were hiring. I'm in rather sore need of a job at the moment. What sorts of positions are you offering?"

"Depends," The man replied vaguely. "What can you do?"

"Depends," She replied, equally cryptically. "What needs to be done?"

The man chuckled, and, with a sigh, responded. "A lot, really," She said. "We need more hands in both the kitchen and on the floor, as well as someone to keep the customers entertained."

"'Keep the customers entertained?'" Ayumu asked curiously. "How so?"

"With that, of course," The man replied, pointing to a corner of the room where, enshrined on a small stage, was a wonderful, if somewhat battered object which assured Ayumu of her success: a grand piano. With a confident smile, she turned back to the shopkeeper. If anyone could get this job, it would be her. After all, she was "perfect." Playing a little piano would be simple!

"It's your lucky day, Mr. I can do both," She said confidently.

"So you can play, huh? Well, then, why not give me a song to start off the day?" The tone in his gruff voice was kinder now, as though we was speaking to someone he knew and had faith in, as opposed to a strange girl who had just walked into his diner out of the blue.

"Gladly," Ayumu said confidently. Walking over to the piano, she seated herself, and ran her fingers over its yellowed keys. From what her keen ear could tell, it had been kept well tuned, a fact for which she was glad. Taking in her breath, she thought back to the illusionary life she had lived before, remembering the hours of toil and practice. Even if those hours had never happened, the skills she had learned then were with her, even now. The man behind the counter smiled at her, and, raising her hands, slowly, she brought them down.

This was something she could do. Even if her past was a lie and her memories fake, even if she wasn't even Human... She would succeed. That she knew for a fact. And so, mustering her courage, she struck downward, and began to play.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Susumu Riku Character Portrait: Shirasaki Yuuka

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Riku suddenly snapped out of his thoughts when he suddenly heard his name called. He looked that way and began slowly making the effort to stand up, but before he was even up half-way, on one knee and pushing off with his hand, Miki was snapped back, yanked backward by a man with sunglasses. Riku watched the scene with wide eyes, though he seemed little more than lightly surprised. By the time he stood upright, the scene was gone, and though he processed what was happening, his mind had a light lag in processing what it meant. That was, until he heard her scream.

He went to move in the direction she'd been dragged off, but stepping a bit too heavily on his left foot than he even needed to in the first place, a shock of pain reverberated through his body and he swayed over to the other leg. It seemed that despite the bending of the knees action he'd taken on his way down from the building, he'd clearly injured the leg slightly, and landed on it the wrong way. But it wasn't really a time for that, now was it? The injury was small. Just a stress placed on the bone and the muscles. Easily healed, and easily avoided. He just had to step lightly, which he would have found himself doing anyway, but accidentally stepped heavy. It would seem he was still overestimating and underestimating certain aspects of his body's capabilities.

Riku swayed into motion again, but there was that guy again, the one who'd gotten crash-landed into by Miki, running off at the sound of her shriek. He stopped in his tracks, letting his weight hang on the right leg and watching as ammunition-school-boy ran off to go play hero. Yeah, she'd be fine. After all, at this point, Riku probably would have been too late to go after her and be of any help. The other dude could handle it just fine. Instead, Riku's eyes fixated on the bloody guy on the ground that regular-guy had been about to shoot again. That dude didn't seem like he was going to need his pants while he was bleeding out to death, so Riku swayed in his direction.

The half-dead guy stirred lightly as Riku approached, but Riku easily shut him up, pulling the two halves of the black metal staff apart and putting one blade at the man's throat. "Come on now, you're practically dead already," Riku told him, bending but keeping the sword at his throat, and beginning to pull at the man's pants. "You won't need these where you're going."

Riku succeeded in pulling them off and backed away from the man, giving looks around cautiously at the street he was on. Didn't seem to be crowded, but Riku backed off into the closest alley, anyway, pulling on the pants. They were big on him, to say the least, but they did the job well enough. They covered what they needed to, even if they did have a few bloodstains on them. Re-sheathing the blades back into each other and placing the re-formed staff into one hand, he used the free hand to fish around in the pockets for - Ah-ha! - a wallet. He pulled it out and started fishing through, taking just a moment to push his unnaturally long blonde hair - beginning to lay in long waves now that it was dry for the most part - over his shoulder, and then started tossing things like fake IDs and medical cards and business cards to the ground like garbage. He started flipping through a few credit cards, and, though he figured they were unusable without the right pin number, he put them back in the wallet. And then he opened the pocket where the cash would be stowed. Though it mainly consisted of smaller bills, the sum in the end was hardly bad, and acquiring more would be a piece of cake. For now, Riku stashed the wallet back into his pants pocket and walked calmly back to the same general area he'd been in before, trying to recall the direction everyone else had gone off to.

He stopped, listening to a few gunshots sound. Well, business seemed to be taken care of over that way, though he couldn't be sure who was getting the bullets to the flesh. Either way, it seemed that a situation had been resolved. Though, in certain circumstances the outcome being worse than others.

Riku pushed the long strands of hair out of his face again, and narrowed his eyes. Okay, now that he had to get rid of. It was just being a pain in the ass. He unsheathed the twin swords from each other once again, holding one in such a way so that the blade faced backwards, not about to cut anything, and used that hand to begin sizing up his hair, pulling all of it into the one hand. He was about to chop it with the other blade when suddenly Miki and that tall black-haired dude, Shin, came trailing over to him, and he lowered his hand from his hair.

Miki came by and stopped for what seemed like all of a few seconds. "Shin, you and Riku try to find the others while I go look for some clothes, money, and a place." She said, and promptly dashed off, gold hair flowing behind her.

"I remember where Aoi was.As for Ayumu...She was behind me,and in front of you.You should know where she went.We'll split up and look for both of them.Crow should be able to do fine alone.We just have to remember to...meet up in this location." Shin said, pointing at a building.

Riku nodded unenthusiastic, until he finally processed what Shin was saying. "Wait what? Why do I hafta go look for that Ayumu girl?" He grumbled, narrowing his eyes and crinkling his nose cutely, though Shin didn't seem to notice the comment. All he did was turn back around and tell Riku not to get in a fight with her.

This made him pout even more.

"No promises," He muttered, crossing his arms and narrowly avoiding scraping the blades against the bare flesh of his arms, and watching Shin disappear again.

Riku raked his mind, trying to recall what exactly happened to Ayumu in the process of escaping. Come to think of it, she wasn't there in the small room, and... well, she wasn't there for most of the butt parade. That's right, Riku recalled. Ayumu split after a little while. She went up a different vent. He looked up to report the news of it being hopeless to re-locate her to Shin, but he was already off. Oh well, no other way to go about the job than to take a look, huh? If he didn't find her, he didn't find her. That would be the end of that. If he did find her, well, then he could get her saying herself that she wanted to be left alone. That would be just dandy too. From the way things seemed around here, and the attitude that simply made Riku want to piss her off even more, Riku would be just fine with letting her fend for herself. But as long as she said it herself, Riku didn't have to walk back to everyone having found nothing, and have them all off on a wild goose chase. But she'd split a while ago. Finding her might not even be so easy...

But he found himself going anyway, hands back at his hair to begin the process of cutting it off again while he walked, and finally slicing the ready blade through the blonde waves like butter. The hair came off in his hand, and he gave a momentary pause, sheathing the blades back into their staff-form and taking a look at the thick grip of hair he had before taking a stop at the nearest dumpster and tossing it inside. The cut was hardly professional, and sliced through uncleanly at the base of his neck, and the top of his shoulder blades, slightly longer in the front strands and any strands he'd had a loose grip on. Without the extra weight of the rest of his hair, the slightly shorter strands in back waved more, and even flipped outward slightly, cutely. The longer strands in the front hung in uneven waves. But this would never do. The hair still hung in his face, falling in front of his eyes and crossing past his entire face. Putting the metal staff under his arm, he undid the chain with the small red vial from his wrist and used it to tie up the top half of his hair, in a sort of half-up half-down look that was more common on girls. He figured the small black chain would end up getting tangled in his hair, but this was no time to rob a little girl of a scrunchy. Not that he would want to either.

Satisfied with his clear line of sight, he brought the big metal staff back down into his hand and started walking again, checking for signs that a bitchy naked girl had passed through the area. Well, there was clue number one, he thought, stopping at the corner of an alleyway. A drunken man near some trash lay there missing an article or two of clothing. Big giveaway was that he lacked pants. Riku figured that that was a good sign that he was headed in the correct direction.

He ignored looks at him as he walked. He figured he probably looked a little odd, especially walking around shirtless with a girl's hairstyle and a big metal stick. He supposed he must have had a girlish face, too, because the shocked look came around right when they looked at his bare chest. Damn, no hopes for being manly, then? He sighed, bumping into someone passing the opposite way and sliding his hand in to pickpocket them. He apologized with a light "sorry" and they were far too distracted at giving him odd looks to either say 'its okay,' or 'sorry,' back. Riku didn't expect them to notice their wallet was gone though. He was a great pickpocket. It was just like fighting. Once he was beyond their defenses, it was easy. They could do little to stop the move, and his slight of hand made it undetectable. The light-weight, compact body that didn't seem threatening in the least also helped. That guy probably wouldn't notice his wallet was gone for a while.

Riku paused, listening to what sounded like a piano playing, but was at a distance a little to far to be sure of. He opened the wallet, took the cash, and stowed it away in the other wallet he'd already had in his pocket, and tossed the second wallet to the wind, moving his head to locate the sound. Call it a Ningen no Kami's weird intuition, or just the face that Riku was curious, he followed the sound to a little down-in-the-dirt bar and diner. He peeked in the windows first, and recognized the long mess of Black hair that was Ayumu's. And he almost felt disappointed that he'd actually found her. Oh well.

He trailed over to the door and pulled it open, slipping inside quietly and leaning his back against the door frame. The door swung closed slowly behind him. Riku listened to the melody quietly, and though he was impressed, none of that showed on his face. In fact, he looked quite bored, like this was the kind of live performance he heard everyday. Which of course, he didn't.

He pulled the hem of his pants up, slightly, and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for her to be done so he could pull her away from.... whatever it was she was doing, and see how this was going to go. More than likely, she was going to stick by herself. Why wouldn't she? But at least he wouldn't need to go back and tell everyone he couldn't find her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Ayumu had just finished the last line of the song when the last strains of a jingling of bells and a rather annoyed voice behind her alerted her to the fact that someone else had entered.

"We're not open yet, kid. And put a shirt on before you come in here. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Read the damn sign." Well, this quickly drew Ayumu's attention. There could be only one sort of person who would come into a diner like that. Turning around, she confirmed her fears. It was that annoying guy from before. He had tried the Tsundere's patience enough already, and him coming in and crashing her little plan was the last straw. How the hell had he even found her, anyway?! The chances of him just stumbling across where she was were astronomically low. Had he been tailing her this entire time? As soon as she next had the chance, that stalker creep was going to get it.

Just pretend you don't know him. This'll solve itself, Ayumu thought quickly. With a well-crafted mask of a calm smile, she turned to face the man behind the counter. He nodded approvingly.

"You're good, kid. I might just hire you for that performance alone. You'd be the best entertainer we've ever had," the store owner said with a slight laugh. Ayumu simply smiled.

"Oh, I'm sure you're exaggerating. I'm not that good," She said modestly, not forgetting her manners in her jumbled, confused, out-of-time, out-of-place state. The man merely grinned back.

"Whatever you say," he said, putting several dishes on a small rack behind the counter. "So, what's your name? It's kind of awkward to just call you 'kid.' Oh, right, I suppose I should introduce myself, too. I'm Rinnosuke."

"Hitori Ayumu," She replied. "Does that mean I'm hired?"

"Eh, sure, why the hell not. Just fill out this form, and we'll see about hooking you up with a job of some sort," Rinnosuke said, holding up a small slip of paper and a pen. Dutifully, Ayumu headed across the room and began to read it over. Name, birthdate, and so on and so forth. Well, while she had to make up a few things to match the new world she had found herself in, she soon had it filled out, and ignored the blot on her vision that was Riku - who Rinnosuke periodcally yelled at to come back later and bring some more clothing with him - as best she could. Handing back the now completed form, Rinnosuke raised an eyebrow.

"16?" She had faked her age, since she was only 15 and there was probably some sort of labor restriction for people under age. "That's a bit young to be on your own."

"It is. It's... kind of a long story, though. I'd rather not talk about it," Ayumu said with a sadness that was more genuine than faked.

"I see. Street kid, huh?" He asked vaguely. "Y-yeah," She answered with a nod.

"I see. You need a place to stay, too? There's a little apartment closet above the shop. I don't use it. It'll cost some of your paycheck, though," Rinnosuke gestured to a small door in the back corner, presumably a staircase leading up onto the second floor. She noticed a door on a small balcony up there that probably led to the aforementioned room.

"That would be great!" Ayumu said eagerly, smiling with relief. This couldn't have gone better if she had seen the future and planned it.

"Alright, then. Sounds good," He said, stamping the form and sliding it into a small filing cabinet after adding a small clause about room and board. "Well, I think this counts as my good deed for the month. Karma can kiss my ass." Ayumu chuckled.

"Thank you, Mr. Rinnosuke," She said gratefully. He just "pshaw"ed her. "Just call me Rinnosuke. Honorifics like Mr. make me feel old," He replied. "Well, business starts in 20 minutes. While this might be a bit nonstandard, it's also nonstandard to employ kids on the spot just 'cause they can play a mean piano, so you're starting immediately. I've had enough trying to run this joint all by my lonesome. People always said I needed a pretty waitress, anyway. Just do something about the hair, okay Rapunzel?"

"Believe me, I plan on it. Is there some sort of uniform I should wear?" She asked, heading back behind the counter and glancing around at the small kitchen there. She didn't recognize any of the bizarre appliances and special ovens she saw, but, judging by how advanced everything looked, and the fact that Rinnosuke had somehow managed to run such a large diner by himself, she had to guess that these machines were probably very, very efficient.

"Yeah. I have a couple shop uniforms in the back closet, just in case I actually ever got anyone to take me up on my job offer. That bloody sign's been up for half a year, you know, and you're the first person I've actually gotten to apply. You'd think that a no-questions-asked job offer in a city like this would attract more attention." The last part he grumbled mostly to himself. Ayumu followed his directions, and, sure enough, found a simple black skirt, white blouse with a white and red ribbon to tie the collar, and a smart red vest with the name of the establishment, "Rinnosuke's Downtown Diner" proudly displayed upon its breast. Noticing two identical uniforms and having a blaze of sudden inspiration, she removed the ribbons from their collars and instead used them to tie her abnormally long hair in a temporary pair of twintails. That would solve her grooming problem temporarily, which meant all she had to do now would be change into her new uniform and get ready for her new job. As she stepped into a small employee bathroom in the back and began to change, she marveled at how easy it had been. She had expected to get the job, but a no-questions-asked offer with room and board offer on top seemed too good to be true. It looked to her like her bad fortunes were finally turning around, a prospect which she didn't dare to hope for.

A few minutes later, her makeover was complete, and having claimed a pair of black shoes and tall white stockings from the closet (Rinnosuke thankfully hadn't noticed that she was barefoot) she emerged once more, satisfied with her new appearance.

"Well, I gotta say. Those irreverent little pains can't complain about me not having a pretty waitress anymore. You look great, kid. I'm sure everyone'll think Christmas came early," Rinnosuke said approvingly, sizing her up. She smiled with a slight bit of pride. She had always been a fairly plain girl in her fake life, so although being "perfect" had its downsides, she supposed she could at least look forward to some advantages as well.

"Thank you, Rinnosuke," She said, smiling cheerfully. "I'll go put my belongings up in the room upstairs. Please excuse me for a moment," Giving a courteous bow, she quickly retreated into the stairwell, and headed up to the dark second floor. Walking along a dusty, empty balcony, she made her way to the door she had seen before, and, poking it open, glanced in.

The room was small, and very sparsely decorated, with various tables and chairs folded up against the walls. It was bedroom and bathroom rolled into one, with a small toilet and shower in one corner and a simple mattress in the other. What space wasn't devoted to storing excess furniture or housing the various accommodations of the room was completely empty. The walls were blank and white, but Ayumu felt that this was paradise compared to what she had expected. It sure did beat a cardboard box by the side of the road, and for that, she was grateful.

Tossing down her sword and clothes on the bed, she hurried back downstairs. Well, it looked like she had a job to do. There was no time to waste just sitting around. She just hoped Riku the stalker would get the hint that she wasn't interested in whatever it was he wanted and would be gone by the time she reached the downstairs floor. She was in no mood to deal with a thoughtless creep like him.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Riku gave a displeased, but bored looking stare as the geezer behind the bar shooed him out. He stood for a little while longer, instead, watching the girl and the dude make nice-nice with the business. But when the man shooed him out once again, he gave a light shrug and ducked back out the door, leaning against the door frame on the outside instead, peeking in the window periodically to see what Ayumu was doing and if he could pull her away from it.

What a pain in the ass. This girl really was going to be one hell of a person to talk to, wasn't she? He just needed to get her confirmation that she wanted to be left alone. Honestly, that's all he was asking for. Not being around her would be the greatest gift in the world. As long as he had this one legit excuse for why he wasn't dragging this girl back, he wouldn't have to deal with everyone else bugging him about why he couldn't find her.

The next time he poked his head around to look in the window again, Ayumu had disappeared, and the old coot behind the counter was giving him a pretty pissed off look. Well, Riku was sort of loitering. But he simply leaned back against the door frame again and tried to ignore the guy. He and the well-aged didn't mix well. People with an ounce of maturity and adult-hood thought his attitude and hotheadedness were too much to bear. He always got fed up with them, and they with him. It was best to avoid them, rather than get into a furious argument over who's more stupid. But eventually he was timing his peeks in the window at just the right time so that the guy behind the counter didn't see him. He passed the time watching a few people pass by, but eventually the boredom was a bit much to take. He figured Ayumu must have been taking her sweet time doing who-the-hell-knows-what.

He took a few steps away from the door frame and took a look around. It was a little quieter around here, at least, without all the rush of girls getting raped and rapists getting shot by school boys. But it didn't seem like the greatest part of the neighborhood, now did it? Japan seemed pretty.... Down now-a-days. It seemed rough and violent. The violent part was much more his style, but taking it out on girls was a little over-kill.

He took a look back over his shoulder at the window again, and noticed Ayumu coming down a narrow stair way near the back. Bingo, there was his best chance.

Riku hurried inside the building once again, smiling as courteously as possible to the displeased man behind the counter.

"Entschuldigen Sie mich," He said in German, hoping he could slide by with pretending he didn't speak Japanese well enough to understand the man, and hoping that the man didn't understand German. "Entschuldigen Sie mich!"

He sped over to Ayumu and grabbed her by the arm, tugging her in the direction of the door with yet another "Entschuldigen Sie mich," before hauling her through the door and finally letting go of her on the other side.

Riku waited for the door to swing shut behind them before talking again.

"Okay, look, Ponytails," He started out, addressing her with the new nickname of 'ponytails' mainly because she was wearing them now. "I'm about as happy to see you as you are to see me right about now. So the less crap you give me now, the sooner we can get on with our lives."

He let out a small sigh, just a bit of expression of how much he really wished he hadn't found her at all. "Miki just decided she wanted everyone to get found, and it just figures that Shin decided for some reason that I had any sort of clue where you went, so I got told to look for you. The only reason I actually did find you was because you left a nice little trail marker of a half-clothed hobo. Then I heard some music and low and behold, here you were!" He held up a hand and gestured to her like it was amazing. Not that he'd wanted to find her in the first place. "But yeah, all I need is confirmation from you that you're all set on your own so I'm not going back completely empty handed and we can both go on our merry ways. Got it?"

He crossed his arms over his chest impatiently. All he wanted was a simple answer so he could get out of there.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Ayumu had just arrived on the first floor in time to hear Riku - who, to her annoyance, was still there - say something in German - "Excuse me," if she remembered right, her German not being very good and her hatred of the language in its entirety being rather strong - and then grab her by the arm and drag her out. As soon as they were outside, Ayumu raised her arm over Riku's, bringing it around his wrist in a small circle and then pushing swiftly down, forming an Aikido position known as Nikkyo. This would force back his muscles - rather painfully - and force him into a kneeling position unless he reacted fast enough to pry her hand away from his wrist. However, she moved rather quickly, and the distance she needed to move was very small. If he tried to rise after she had already completed her movement, he would just be further hurting his own wrist, although Ayumu had the courtesy to hold back enough not to risk breaking the targeted bone if her target moved carelessly.

"Rule number one: don't stalk me. Rule number two: don't touch me. Rule number 3: don't interrupt me when I'm in the middle of something. Oh, and also, don't do ALL OF THE ABOVE without first acquiring such necessities as a SHIRT. If you wanted me to tell you to go away, then fine. I'm just fine on my own, thank you very much," The Tsundere said rather irritably. Only after she had finished talking did she let go of him, and then she stepped back, crossing her arms. "Now scram, before Rinnosuke thinks I'm part of some gang of half-naked German stalkers," She added for emphasis before heading back inside and slamming the door.

"Sorry about that, Rinnosuke," She said, scratching her head nervously. "Seems he mistook me for someone else." The old man, having seen her perform her counterattack, only raised an eyebrow.

"Well," He said in an amused, sarcastic tone. "I must admit I'm curious who he mistook you for."

The Tsundere only chuckled nervously, and then quickly set about making sure all the tables and chairs were in order. She needn't have bothered, as Rinnosuke had long since finished setting up shop, but she would rather get the discussion off of what had just happened. Ningen no Kami be damned. For now, she was just going to live as normal a life as possible.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Ryori Miki Character Portrait: Ayano Aoi Character Portrait: Inoue Shin Character Portrait: Susumu Riku

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Riku's eyes widened with light surprise as Ayumu's hand connected with his wrist and she dug her fingers in, pressing into pressure points and bringing him down. It's not like he resisted in going down. If a fight had taught him anything, resisting the energy was the worst thing to do. It just made the blow slam harder into you and you had to endure it. Absorbing the energy and moving with it was best when you were trying to be passive. He could take it and not take it any harder than he needed to. Piece of cake. The best way, of course, was to redirect the energy and turn it back at the other person. But like hell he was about to do that. He just let himself go down onto one knee, letting the left one stay there bent instead to keep his weight off of it.

First, he'd gotten hounded on arguing with her already, twice at least, and he figured pounding the girl into the ground was also on the no-no list. Not that he would hit a girl anyway. Sure, maybe he'd hit Ayumu, but that would only make her more bitter. And the way she was acting, she was already going to end up bitter, alone, and spitting on puppies. Just as long as she didn't hate on cats, Riku was just dandy with that. Second, what was he supposed to do? Wrist-role away the hand, grab her wrist, yank her inward, dig a finger into a pressure point of the elbow to stress a lock while twisting her arm and bending her over, and then slam his elbow down on her shoulder-blade to dislodge her shoulder? As easy as it would have been, no. No he wouldn't. He'd probably break her shoulder clean off, and then he'd have to deal with the whole just-beat-up-a-girl deal. And either way, any aggression back at this girl was just going to make things worse. Not that a passive attitude made things any better either. Honestly, did she not even hear him when he asked her kindly to skip all the crap so this could go through easily? Did she just want to try to piss him off enough for him to actually start being aggressive back at her? This was her second hit at him. He'd really done nothing wrong, but this girl felt it her business to believe that his actions and words revolved around some silly obsession with her? Juvenile. Self-centered in the worst sort of way. And all that aggression could be misinterpreted for a crush, if coming from, say, a junior high student. But this girl seemed to be stuck in those sort of phases, so why not?

But aside from psychoanalyzing her behavior far more than he needed to, Riku found himself criticizing her attack technique as well. The grip was firm, the move was effective. But Ayumu wasn't going as strong as she could. She was showing mercy, and for someone she probably deemed stupid. Which happened to be another childish trait - the solid belief that you were better than everyone else and had no reason to listen to them or consider that they may have as much intelligence, if not more, than you did - and could also lead to the inability to see reason. But if she meant to hurt him, she should have done so, and allowed him to take the pain in whichever way he decided to take it. Mercy was weakness. Even that little bit of it, that probably wasn't even a conscious decision. "Pathetic..." He muttered, not even sure if she would pay attention. "If you're going to hurt someone, you shouldn't hold back."

But Ayumu was going off on some pointless rant now to acknowledge the advice, and probably would have been far too full of herself to accept it either. Whatever. Let he use half the force on someone when she actually was depending on it and let that guy be violent enough to pound her into the dirt. Had Riku been that kind of person, she'd already be on the ground, and Riku would have already walked away quietly.

"Rule number one: don't stalk me. Rule number two: don't touch me. Rule number 3: don't interrupt me when I'm in the middle of something. Oh, and also, don't do ALL OF THE ABOVE without first acquiring such necessities as a SHIRT. If you wanted me to tell you to go away, then fine. I'm just fine on my own, thank you very much," She said, flaunting those traits that Riku really no longer saw as provoking a follow-up argument, but just saw her making a fool out of herself for thinking so flatly. He supposed she had no concept of what civil meant. Not that he'd been particularly kind with his own words for her, but at least he was calm and reasonable.

He stood calmly, brushing off his pants like being on the ground hadn't been a big deal. In fact, the whole situation really hadn't been such a big deal. But Ayumu must have decided she wanted to make it into one for some reason. Damn was it easy to get this girl's goat. It's like she wasn't keeping an eye on that damn goat in the first place. Or like she was holding out a sign that said 'go on, take my goat. I love it when people take my goat.' Figuratively speaking, of course.

"Now scram, before Rinnosuke thinks I'm part of some gang of half-naked German stalkers," Ayumu said, and turned around and headed back to the door. Riku snickered before the door even shut behind her with a slam.

Yeah, because he would totally stalk someone like her.

"Oh, that's funny," He said aloud for no reason at all, beginning to walk back down the street. "Like I would want anything to do with someone with a personality so dreadful!"

He shook his head, pocketing his hands and continued down the way he had come. Just about time to break the news to oh my god its a kitty cat.

Riku stopped dead in his tracks, staring wide-eyed at the little white cat slinking out of an alley way. It was scruffy, and collarless, but that didn't mean it wasn't someone's pet. He discarded the information as unimportant and approached slowly anyway. If there was one sort of living creature he liked, it had to be cats. They were independent and intelligent, and they could deal with or without company. That and they were cuddly and soft. But Riku wasn't about to admit that them being cute was one of the reasons he liked them. He put out his hand and watched the cat jolt to look in his direction, startled.

"It's okay, kitty-chan, I won't hurt you," He called softly, trying to approach a little slower and crouching slightly, though both actions at once were hurting his left leg which still felt sore from the impact of falling. He figured he could try massaging it with that liquid later.

The cat sniffed the air cautiously, and moved close enough to sniff his fingertips gently. Riku stood perfectly still, hoping he wouldn't frighten the kitty off. After another few moments, the cat brushed up beneath his hand affectionately. Maybe perfect made him liked by animals or something. Either way, he was pleased as punch. He pet the cat a few times, and, upon the realization that everyone else was probably over at the rendezvous point before he was, scooped his hands under the light animal and picked it up. He could at least cuddle the kitty a little while longer. He could always let it go later and it would be able to find it's way back home pretty easily. Chances were, it wasn't like he could particularly keep it. Someone would tell him to get rid of it sooner or later because that would just be his luck, but he could keep it as long as he could.

Riku got into moving again, holding the warm kitty against his chest and walking a little swifter to make up for lost time. By the time he got there, Miki, Shin, and Aoi were already there. He quickened pace for a few more strides, then slowed to a regular pace and came up next to them. Kitty-chan fidgeted and Riku loosened his grip, thinking that the cat was going to run off, but it decided to crawl up onto his shoulders and lie down, long tail swishing back and forth at his right shoulder and head looming over the left. The cat leaning into his neck. Apparently, the cat liked him enough to stay. That was comforting.

But he took a look at Miki as he approached. Jesus. Who did she mug? A movie star? Damn.

"Hey, sorry that took so long," Riku apologized. "I managed to Find Ayumu. But it didn't end well. She decided she wanted to attack me, and, well, obviously I wasn't going to be violent back. That would be dumb. And honest, I didn't do anything remotely bad. She just refuses to actually pay attention to what someone is saying, and likes to make a big deal out of everything even when I calmly asked her not to. She also seems to think that everything is revolving around her. But long story short, she wants to be left alone, and I say we let her. Less chance of me deciding that hitting a girl is okay..."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu

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"Well," The shopkeeper spoke up after a few minutes of silence. "It's about time to open. Don't worry about screwing up just yet, since you've only just gotten here. Normally I'd give you a run through, but there isn't exactly time."

"I understand," Ayumu replied. "I'll do my best to remain welcoming at all times, and to remember which food goes to which person."

"I'm sure you'll do fine," Rinnosuke said kindly, smiling slightly. "And of course, every while or so when you're not busy, just play our customers a song or two. Once you're done, I'll just turn on the radio and play some normal music in between performances, and you can go back to serving tables. Sound good?"

"Of course. I won't let you down," Ayumu said enthusiastically.

"Just take it easy, Miss Ayumu. As I said before, I'm sure you'll do fine." The shopkeeper smiled, heading over to the door and flicking a switch, changing the neon sign in the front window from "Closed" to "Open." To the Tsundere's surprise, within minutes, a group of three people showed up, and, calling Rinnosuke by name, ordered "The usual" before they'd even been seated. The shopkeeper merely smiled and made some small talk with them - she didn't catch their names - and went about preparing the meal, sending her out to give them their drinks.

"'Yo, Rinnosuke!" One of the customers exclaimed in surprise. "Who's the lady? Haven't seen her around before." The old man grinned, turning to them from where he poured over some bizarre cooking machine, before coming out to the front of the store once more, waiting for the food he had put in to finish cooking.

"She's Ayumu. I just hired her this morning," He replied.

"Nice to meet you," Ayumu said elegantly. "Here are your drinks."

"Good choice, old man. I always said-"

"That I needed a pretty waitress? Well then take your early Christmas present and enjoy it instead of saying 'I told you so,'" The old man interjected with mock irritation. He tried his best, it seemed, to act crotchety and cantankerous, but Ayumu could already tell it was just a farce, as could all of the regulars to whom they spoke.

"Bit on the young side, though, aren't you?" Once of them asked observantly.

"Yes, I am, I suppose," Ayumu said, her smile only slightly faltering as she spoke. Her age was a bit of a sensitive subject. Even when she was "Perfect," it was still that obvious that she was still a kid, technically speaking? "But I needed a job to support myself, and Rinnosuke here was kind enough to take me up on that."

"You always were a nice guy, gramps," One of the men said jokingly. "Still, it's really paid off for you this time."

"Thank you. I'm glad you think so," Ayumu said smilingly, before moving away and seating herself at the old piano. One of the men raised an eyebrow.

"She can play, too?" He asked, somewhat surprised.

"Like you wouldn't believe," Rinnosuke replied praisingly.

"And I thought you were lucky before to have someone like her working for you. Hey, Miss Ayumu, play us something, will you?" The pianist smiled, and complied, running her hands over the keys and picking out another song she was fond of from her memories. Slowly, she began to play. The music started out quiet, but swiftly built up to a moving creschendo as the musician worked her magic, her hands moving like lightning as she played her siren song. For a while, her thoughts faded, her attention focusing entirely on the yellowed keys before her as she continued to let loose a heartful cascade of glorious melody. Slowly, the song faded, trailing off into nothingness as she finally ended, planting her firm hands upon the final note.

When she was done, applause brought her out of her reverie. The customers seemed most impressed by her work, as did Rinnosuke. Giving her modest thank-yous, she dismounted the stage, and quickly made her way behind the counter to collect the men's meals for them, more than just a little reddened and swelled with pride. Yes, she supposed. Being perfect did have its advantages, even if it brought with it sadness.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hitori Ayumu Character Portrait: Karasu 'Crow' Hōno

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It had been a while. Ayumu had alternated between playing the piano and serving dishes, to the great delight of the customers who frequented the strangely high-class restaurant, which stood out like a diamond in the rough amidst more run down convenience stores and looming office complexes. She found herself taking to her new occupation quite easily, and during a break in which no new customers arrived and all the ones currently dining finished, paid their bills, and departed, Rinnosuke congratulated her on her adaptability. To be honest, it was a real relief to hear those words of praise. She had been worried that her "perfection" could only get her so far, and without any real experience or talent of her own, she wouldn't be able to handle things like this well at all. But the realization that she was able to handle herself after all assuaged what fears and worries she had, and set the Tsundere at ease once more.

Around that time, "Crow" showed up. He delivered his piece, and then left, giving Ayumu little time but to say "I'll come by once I'm off work, then," nod dumbly, and watch him go. Rinnosuke's voice behind her, however, startled her out of the brief reverie Karasu's arrival had put her into.

"So, you do have some friends to help you out," The old gentleman said, sauntering over with an amused smile. "Well, if you've gotten yourself a place to stay after all, I guess you won't need that upstairs closet, now will you?" He chuckled. "Why aren't you kids in school, anyhow?"

"Night classes," Ayumu lied without missing a beat, keeping a perfectly straight face. "I don't have much money, and relying on other people without doing something in return just doesn't sit right with me. So I have to work during the day. That's why I applied for a job here. It looks like she and her pals don't care much about the level of decorum I'd like to maintain, however, so I guess I don't have a choice in the matter. Either I act incredibly rude, or I go against my own personal opinions."

"I see. I guess your friends are the determined sort, are they?"

"You could say that."

"Well, if you want to move into that condo that boy was just talking about, then I can let you off work for the day. The lunch rush is over, and we don't get many more customers than this. I should be able to handle things here, like always, if you want to move into your new home."

"Oh? Would you do that? Thank you." Ayumu bowed gratefully, but the old gentleman just laughed it off.

"The outfit you wore in here was pretty ragged. If you want, I'll let ya' keep that uniform as a set of day clothes. Just let me take this diner badge out of your vest, and you should be just perfect."

"Thank you very much, m- Err, Rinnosuke," Ayumu said, surveying what she supposed would be her new attire. Form-fitting white blouse, smart red vest - not quite as elegant as a suit, but very tasteful and becoming - plaited black skirt, white stockings and black dress shoes, combined with a rather long set of twintails. She could get used to looking this good, she supposed with a touch of pride.

"Don't mention it. Now scamper off and check out your new home, why don'tcha."

"I will. Thank you again." And with that, Ayumu quickly gathered up her few belongings, and followed the GPS in the key to what it seemed would be her new apartment. The woman behind the desk muttered about weird kids and elevators as she entered and took the surest way up she could see, not noticing any stairs in the vicinity, but the Tsundere didn't really care. Finding her room, she quickly entered. It seemed entirely empty - Crow was out, she supposed. Setting down her belongings next to the bed - she didn't overly mind sharing, since her roommate was apparently the rather docile Crow, who was so low key she didn't really mind him, unlike the others (and if he wasn't willing to, he could always be a gentleman and take the couch) - Ayumu quickly accustomed herself to her new surroundings. During her rather brief explanation, she found a small datapad containing information on a great many things, ranging from the location of the nearest and most prosperous school to what was on television. The former information file, however, struck her eye. An incredibly liberal school system, renowned both for its successes in the field of education and in its innumerable acclaimed clubs: Seisei Hofuna Academy. Amongst the clubs, she found an orchestra club, an Aikido club, and a band club. While she wasn't exactly the most social of beings, this would allow her to essentially get singing lessons, piano lessons, and Aikido lessons for free! Best of all, it would even give her school credit, which would go towards building an identity for herself. But, therein lay the problem. She had no identity. Without something so rudimentary as that, she could never enter a school system. Until she could acquire a well crafted fake, she would simply have to wait and dream...

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