|Chapter 1: A Beginning of Semester Activity|
Hibarashi Ima (left) and Agasawa Otoha (right), by livingtrinity.
It was spring, the beginning of a new semester, and the middle-schoolers had once again returned to class after a week-long break. They had been told that an exciting activity would await them once they came back: making Alice Stones. Not knowing that yet, they all entered the classroom one by one in their own fashion. First came in Mayu, followed by Otoha, then Hiro who, as always, used the window instead of the door and Kenji, in the skin of a cheetah. Only later did the others come in: Ima, who made herself discreet, as well as the bright Mokona and the list went on.
Even so, as the student flowed in, the teacher did not give any directive: in fact, she was sleeping on her desk, present of body but not of mind, and would only wake up later. Meanwhile, the kids each occupied themselves in their own way: Mokona kept worrying about her beloved Shaku’s lateness and exchanging pictures of him with his cousin Ayumi, while Otoha amused herself by changing Hiro’s hair color with pink and purple as its final result and Ima used her imagination to pass time.
The students started going outside, being bored to no end. While Otoha accompanied the wind user back to the dorms due to the fact that the latter didn’t feel very well, Shaku thought about jumping out the window which, fortunately, he didn’t end up doing. While all that happened, Kenji found Ima crying outside, letting out the frustration she felt towards her own weakness. Soon after, a begging Otoha asked him to turn into a zebra (which, thanks to her, became red and blue) and then into a hawk that afterwards gave her a ride in the sky which slightly amused the once sobbing girl.
While Aika-sensei and Mana shared pancakes and a lesson on flying, Karuson-sensei came by the nearly empty classroom. Finally, the female teacher had woken up and got scolded harshly. The students gradually came back to class and and, after a lot of wasted time, they started making their Alice Stones. Not everyone had returned, though: Umi and Mana had stayed outside which did please Karuson-sensei. Being the strict teacher he was, he imposed on them feelings of love and of guilt to punish the two girls with his Alice. That is how Umi started feeling insecure whilst Mana kept thinking of a certain boy and plotted revenge against her friend.
Everyone made their Alice Stones, which was quite hard to produce: they were all small, imperfect. Hiro, feeling better, then entered the classroom and started conversing with the color-changing girl about exchanging the stones, and ended up giving their stones to each other. It was around that time that Ima loosed grip of the precious picture she had been holding onto, her most important possession. Panicking, she ran after it, followed by Kenji who had, barely a few seconds before, exchanged his pebble with Hiro. Once again calling her “Nakimushi”, he attempted comforting her in his own peculiar way.
Suddenly, a cry was heard: the dancing and skipping Otoha had fallen down and a pool of blood now formed on the ground. Her tears attracted many’s attention such as the shape shifter who already had his hands full and Yasuo, who kindly gave her a few tissues before returning the Alice Stone she had slipped on to its proper owner. Once he left, Hiro took his place while the other boy got to know Ima better by getting her to slightly open up to him. They too, exchanged their Alice Stones.
The bell rang and the students left their seats, chattering while making their way to the exit. It was another productive day that had passed.
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|Chapter 2.1: A Troublesome Party - An Unexpected Twist|
| Azuma Mayu by livingtrinity|
With the Alice Stone making activity ending and the announcement of the Spring Party, most students had rushed off Central Town, mainly the ladies, in order to find the necessary – pretty dresses, elegant suits, shining jewellery – to look pleasant; the others had remained on the school campus.
As Otoha prepared thought Ima some basic dance steps upon coming back, the much awaited party finally started. Students started flooding in. In a matter of minutes, all the activity was concentrated in that specific area; it was there that the boundaries between age, star rank or even teachers and students noticeably lowered themselves. A few were enjoying the delicious food while some such as Mokona were already on the dance floor. There was barbecue, salads and colourful desserts; captivating music and beautifully twirling skirts.
Most were engrossed in various types of conversations. Kenji and Ima, per example, were discussing about love; Ayumi and Umi’s talk was more oriented towards hairstyles, dancing partners and the delectable food as they looked for their other friends and with all that going on, Yasuo and Senlitsu exchanged a few words here and there. Yes, it was quite lively indeed. It was this atmosphere of complete cheerfulness and the feeling that there was no need to hold back that marked the first evening of the semester.
With their stomachs filled, students started diverging towards the dance floor and that soon included Kenji and Otoha, the boy having more or less been forced to leave the gravity user. That was how they came up with a deal: the shape shifter had to ask Ima for the Last Dance and, in exchange, the blond girl would have to do the same with Hiro. With that, Kenji excused himself.
At the same moment, Sennyo-sensei had passed by the pair and overheard their bargain. It seemed like that had brought an idea upon him. There was no way in telling what was going on inside his mind, being the mysterious man he was; unseen by the rest and for some reason or another, he closed his eyes and subjected the target to his alice’s power. Work done. In some corner, Mayu was keeping herself occupied by eating Howalon and humming to the music. She was then surprised by the Somatic Class teacher’s twelve-year-old voice. On the rooftop, a certain boy felt an uncomfortable feeling creep through him.
As her best friend learned how to dance with the help of Sennyo-sensei, Otoha nervously climbed the stairs to reach wind user’s usual resting spot. Having mustered enough courage, she asked him to be her partner for the Last Dance, just as her deal with Kenji wanted her to do. The response given to her request was a complete refusal accompanied with an almost murderous glare; the work of an emotion manipulator. Later, when the shape shifter arrived on the rooftop, the Hiro had already more or less regained his senses, but the damage had already been done.
Otoha was running away but was soon interrupted by a group of girls. Without any restraint, they insulted and bullied her. She tried consoling herself by thinking that they were acting in such matter simply because they were jealous, but that did not lessen the pain inflicted by the hurtful words that were thrown at her. Pushing one of them aside, she went back to running. And she ran, her legs always bringing deeper into forest …until strong arms seized her.
The color manipulator’s escaping had not gone unnoticed; Ima had caught sight of her making her way towards the forest. It was by trying to follow her track that she made an unpleasant encounter; a man jumped out of the darkness to attack her.
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|Chapter 2.2: A Troublesome Party- Captured|
Otoha was held captive in a place she did not recognize. From what could be deduced, the place was some kind of technological camp with odd, unidentifiable machines. Still, the reason for which she had been brought here remained unknown; that is until they threatened and forced her to use her alice through a suspicious looking device, took some of her blood and had her be the guinea pig of their awful and inhuman experiments. Alices and non-alices, what made one more special than the other? It was by exploiting the child that they believed they would reach a satisfying conclusion, the answer they had sought for so long. They would let nothing get in their way to accomplish their goal, not even a crying little girl.
Students at the still lively party saw things from a diametrically different point of view. Mokona and Ayumi were lively dancing with Akito and Shaku lurking around, observing them with binoculars; that is until the girl with the water alice suddenly left and ran to the Northern Woods because of some kind of premonitory feeling, closely followed by the material manipulator. At the same time, Umi got to know Takou, her best friend’s brother, and found herself getting along with him quite well.
And as all that happened, Otoha had escaped by feigning sickness. Unfortunately, they caught up to her before she could go any further; one of the men pursuing the escapee had snatched her by the hair. But the girl had no intention of returning to that stinking place and so, she pulled out the Alice Stone that had been given her earlier that day and a moment later, a sharp razor of wind sizzled by. Her hair was cut, freeing her from the man’s grasp and once again she ran away.
Back to Ima; with Yasuo and Kenji’s arrival, the battle ended. None of them had been severely injured, although the shape shifter had gained a handicap: his shoulder was imprisoned in solid rock. Whether the enemy was still alive or not, they did not know; what was of greater importance was the fact that Otoha had disappeared and that was confirmed when Hiro rejoined them; screams had resounded faintly throughout the forest’s darkness and they belonged to no one else but her. With that in mind, the group split up in pairs and dashed towards the location of the voice.
The result of it was the capture of both Kenji and Ima. The man who had attacked the gravity user earlier had escaped death thanks to the help of one of his companion and reported the situation to their leader: some brats were making their way towards their hideout. It was decided that they would eliminated; no one, not even kids, were to interfere with their plans. That is how Otoha, who had been brought back to the camp, found herself in company of her two friends. Soon enough, the two remaining others, Yasuo and Hiro, got wind of the news. Not only were they at a bigger disadvantage now, but the existence of an anti-alice barrier had been revealed.
At the party, Umi and Takou confessed under the attentive gaze of the great friend that was Mana. As Akira entered the scene, an announcement from the school Head was made: from now on till further notice, it would be forbidden to leave the school grounds – the delimited superficy would be heavily guarded by the teachers. Rumours about missing students had been circulating and this had only amplified them. Mayu in particular took them seriously: her danger sensing alice confirmed that her friends were not safe. Unaware of the new rule and of Ayumi’s worry for her, Mokona was still in the forest and, with much relief, had found her brother Tadashi while Akito, on his side, had come upon a wounded Shaku.
Meanwhile, the three captives were reunited around the tick tree on which Otoha was tied. The faint wave of relief they had felt for not being alone anymore and for having found that the blond girl was safe was soon washed when a blue haired woman approached them. Instead of having Kenji tied like Ima who was now unconscious, she used her alice on him. Now, the shape shifter no longer had control on his own body; he was a puppet who would only obey the orders of his master:
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|Chapter 2.3: A Troublesome Party - The Last Dance|
The disappearance of their classmates made itself more and more noticeable to the students at the party. Names started circulating among the crowd and for those who knew the people in question, it could only bring more anxiety. On a brighter side, Mokona and Tadashi successfully snuck back into area that was now guarded without anyone noticing that they had been out-of-bounds a while earlier; a very relieved Ayumi received them.
On the other side of the forest, Yasuo and Hiro finally reached the barrier, but were not able to take any step further for the enemies had sent them a present. Kenji, taking a panther like form and under the control of the blue haired woman, had come to greet them. The situation was at its worse point: three of them had been captured; one had been turned into a puppet whose task was to get rid of whoever got too close to the camp – which, in the current case, was the two of them. From the very beginning, the possibilities that they would come out unharmed from this adventure had been, were nearly inexistent and the state in which their friend was – brain controlled - only accentuated that reality more.
The beast welcomed them with a low, menacing growl that told the boys not to come any closer or he would tear them into pieces. The warning did not seem to affect them, for they had not yielded, but boldly taken a step forward. And as all this passed before his eyes like a movie, Kenji was fighting a battle of his own, struggling to regain the control the body which had been robbed from him.
Not far from them, in the camp, Otoha had successfully freed herself and untied Ima’s ropes; the workers were busy and none paid attention to them – a mistake. From the time they had been held captives, the color manipulator recalled the short exchange of the blue haired woman with another man about a barrier that would prevent intruders from getting in. Quickly enough, the blond girl was able to deduce and picture what was happening outside. They would have to beak it from the inside.
The feline had now hidden himself, camouflaging his large body in the darkness. And then, he pounced. Out of the rustling of leaves, he appeared in front of Hiro, paw outstretched. The claws effortlessly tore through the cloth, and left bleeding marks on the wind user’s stomach. The blood had been too much for Kenji and for a moment, he froze. His form was reverted back to that of a boy, but the presence’s will still overpowered his. The moment after, his hands were around Hiro’s throat. He did not have the chance to strangle the boy; the wind user had crushed his arm with his alice. Using the fact that the presence had been caught off-guard to his advantage, the shape shifter expulsed it from his body. Before it could cause any more harm, merciless gusts pulverized it.
The moment the barrier had disappeared, the two girls ran to them. They had knocked out the man who had been maintaining it with a rock and that had done the trick – the wall of protection had dissolved. Their reunion was short; they had not time to be all emotional. Their priority was to get away from this dislikeable place. The camp having been destroyed by the wind alice, Yasuo opened up a portal to bring them all back.
At the same time, Mokona had been looking for a dance partner (after having let slip loudly that the one she really wanted was Shaku) with the help of Ayumi. As they scanned through the crowd for a suitable one, the Last Dance, most important event of the evening for many, was announced. Eventually, the water user started thinking that there was no one fitting enough to her liking and decided to end her unfruitful search. She left Ayumi, telling her to go dance with Tadashi. The fact that she was dateless made her feel down – the little voice that taunted her in her mind only made he condition worst - and, having noticed that, the kind Mayu attempted cheering her up.
Their wounds having been taken care of, their clothes having been changed, the five missing students returned to the party; some made themselves discreet while others such as Otoha attracted attention like magnet the moment they put a foot in. With the Last Dance starting, people happily gathering around tables filled with delicious food and others twirling around in fancy suits and colourful skirts, the atmosphere had regained its brightest shades; it was as if the anxiety and uncertainty had faded into thin air.
Not long after his arrival, Yasuo took the initiative to suggest to the shy Senlitsu to get some desserts instead of simply sitting there. Otoha and Hiro along with Ima were already there, their eyes on the sweets, when they arrived at the dessert covered table and barely a few seconds after they had reached it, the color manipulator asked – no, ordered – the brown haired boy to dance with her. Of course, he did not refuse.
Entered Kenji, arm in a cast, who, after exchanging a sentence or two with the wind user, was sent off to fetch him some more cakes which permitted him to have a few words with Ima. The girl had been talking to a small boy before that and now she was childishly playing with her toppings. After having delivered the cakes, the shape shifter went back to her and courtly requested to share a dance with her.
For Senlitsu and Mokona, things were not at their brightest. They were both crying, but the reasons for their tears were different: the first one was confused for she did not understand what had caused them to pour out while the latter had started sobbing when she finally encountered her beloved Shaku but was at a loss to what to do; the final result of this being that she walked away from him .
Fortunately, Otoha noticed the girl with the voice pheromone and asked her companion to do her a favour; that is to go dance with her. In a way or another, the color manipulator ended up on the dance floor again later with Hiro as her partner; in the end, she had fulfilled her part of the deal with Kenji.
Between the dazzling music and the authentic sweets, the evening finally touched its closure. Gradually, the students left the area for their awaiting bed, each bringing back with them a memory they would not soon forget. So end this eventful first day of the semester.
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|Chapter 3: Ready, Set, BAKE!|
~Summary Chapter 3~
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