The Support reaper didn't say much to Suki's outburst. Only, "Well, they leave when they get erased...sort of." He walked back to the wall, not caring about the events of the fight, only the outcome.
Koji expected a slightly different fight from the Noise in a different area. What he didn't expect was entirely different base animals. A pair of wolves, one on either side, their legs replaced with the same markings as the others. Immediately, he tried to burn one, but it moved out of the way. The same kept on happening: they were just too fast to attack with that pin.
Immediately, he started digging in his pockets for another. One of them took the opportunity to break out of its run and dive at his throat, and Koji - being distracted - was thrown to the ground. Quickly pulling himself back up, he finally took his hand out of his pocket, opening it to find a pin with a lightning bolt design. He put it on and waved his hands around. Nothing. Angrily, he threw the pin to the ground, and he quickly followed it after another attack from the wolves.
A second pin fell out of the same pocket, with a design like a wave. With no other choice, and another attack incoming, he clipped it to his arm like the other. "This better work, you--" he started, throwing his arm up to defend against the charge.
As he moved his arm up, an invisible blade seemed to cut the air against his palm. On his second movement the same way, he hit the wolf dead-on, forcing it to flinch backwards. Seeing a stationary target, he pointed his fingers at the wolf, and it groaned and disappeared just as it ran out of energy. Feeling stronger than before despite his bruises, he turned to the other wolf, ready to stop its charge as well.
Kimiko heard another howl of pain from the wolf she'd just hit and after that, any sounds it had been making before had stopped. Did it die of some other cause, like the frog from the last fight? Come to think of it, where was Koji during all this? She didn't have much time to worry about that now though, the other wolf was coming towards her and fast. Neither of her pins were working again, so she had no choice but to turn and run.
But it was no good. She was no athlete, how could she expect to out run a wolf? She had barely made it a few feet before she felt the wolf pounce on her from behind and knock her to the ground. Her paintbrush flew out of her hands and she heard the sound of it clattering on the ground nearby. She tried to reach out for it, but she felt the wolf's paw press firmly down on her arm and it's fangs sink into her shoulder. Kimiko was forced to grit her teeth to prevent herself from screaming. "RRRGGH!!! DAMMIT! Where the hell are you Koji?! What kind of man leaves a blind girl to fight for herself?" She yelled in a mixture of pain and anger.
She was finally granted a small reprieve when the wolf removed it's fangs from her shoulder and knew she had to use this to her advantage. She couldn't see the paintbrush so just a regular attack would have to do. Summoning what was left of her strength, she pulled her arm free of the wolf's paw and touched the pin that formed her sword. "Die! You! Stupid! Wolf!" She punctuated each word with a swing of the sword at the wolf who was desperately trying endure the rain of blows while keeping Kimiko pinned down.
"I'm Mitsuko, by the way. Ono Mitsuko. I just thought..."
"Ah right, Takeda Junko"
"Hey! You think we can like go in there so I can like buy some things? I would love to go in there and grab some stuff, replace this boring outfit. It just doesn't feel right, you know?"
Looking up at the stores seeing the elegant dresses and high end suits, surely a place chocked full of snobs. Not exactly the place where she would like to be. Looking wouldn't hurt, but she can just feel that it will be uncomfortable in the way she is dressed.
"Are you sure about that? This place is pretty expensive, its all just overpriced formalwear for people who have more money then they know what to do with. Theres some stores with more reasonability down that way if you want. "
As Koji dived out of the wolf's way again, he heard Kimiko's voice calling from nowhere. "Where the hell are you, Koji?!" she was yelling. "What kind of man leaves a blind girl to fight for herself?"
"I'm a little busy myself here!" he called back, not expecting a real response. "And I don't see you around, either!" The wolf seemed to be coming back for another dive, and Koji moved his hand up to block, just a little too soon. Consequently, his attack missed entirely and he fell back to the ground, now with the wolf pinning him down.
As it did, though, he could see it seemed more hurt every second, but couldn't think why. All he could do was try to block out its scratches long enough to create a second round of flames. Putting his two fingers back together, checking his arm to see if the pin was ready yet, trying to shove the wolf off his body...three things that don't normally work well together.
Finally, just as he thought he'd reached his limit, the flame appeared again, immolating the wolf. The pain it had been dealt invisibly must have weakened it a lot more than he thought, going by how easily it fell after that.
Just as it disappeared, Koji saw it drop a beige pin, grabbing it just before being pulled back into Shibuya...
Kimiko's last swing didn't connect, strangely enough. It was right on top of her, how could she miss? Unless it was dead and had disappeared like the last one? So it was over then! "Yes! I did it!" Kimiko crowed victoriously as she got to her feet and the sounds of the crowded streets returned around her. It was definitely nice to hear the people around her talking, laughing, and having a good time rather than the the growls of wolves and other Noise that wanted to kill her.
And that thought reminded her of the bite her shoulder took. Kimiko winced as she clutched her shoulder in pain. Thankfully, the bleeding had stopped so it must not have been a very deep wound. "Ugh... Why do I have to fight by myself. This sucks!" She looked around while she whined hoping to catch the sounds of Koji or even Suki and Tuxedo.
Wait... During the fight, I dropped my paintbrush. Where did it go? She dug through her purse frantically but, sure enough, it was gone. Hopefully it wasn't stuck in wherever she kept going to fight. Hopefully it was still on the ground around here somewhere. "M-my paintbrush... Where's my paintbrush?!" She muttered to herself in a panic as she dropped to her knees and tried to feel around for the paintbrush before someone accidentally stepped on it or something.
Rikio and Nagi made their way to Shibu Department store. Rikio examined the timer on his hand. "We still have more than an hour to get to Towa records. And its only one more street away after this one. Maybe this isn't hopeless after all."
As he walked, he carefully took the pins he hadnt tested yet out of his pocket. There were three. One with a lightning bolt on it, one with a blade of wind, and the black one with the skull, which had been in his hand when the game started. He took that one in his other hand. This one is a Player Pin, isn't it? I wonder what makes it so special... Out of curiosity, he tapped the pin, and the world suddenly turned blue. Red Noise symbols floated all around him, but they weren't approaching him like before.
Almost as surprising, there was a dark blue box around every person in the area. As Rikio extended his mind towards a box, he began to hear whispering that he could only assume was the person's thoughts. He didnt want to invade anyone's privacy, but it was an odd feeling to realize that he could. As he continued to explore the Player Pin's powers, he realized that he couldn't read Nagis thoughts for some reason. Maybe its because he's a Player? There might be more of us here. With a bit more searching, he found two girls in front the Department store who were immune to the pin. Satisfied, he tapped the pin again and the world returned to normal.
"Nagi, I think there are some other Players here." He pointed in their direction and walked towards the two girls.
Koji sat down near where Kimiko was scrabbling on the ground for something. "You know," he told her, "I could swear I heard you calling out to me during the fight. You were angry about me not doing anything, or not being there to help, or something? I don't remember exactly."
As soon as the fight ended Suki ran over to the pair, skipping. "That was cool Kimiko-sama! Koji-sama! You won again! You did win, didn't you? I don't see the Noise here anymore. Are you alright? Did you lose something, Kimiko-sama?" She looked around on the ground, not having noticed anything being dropped during the fight.
Tuxedo trotted up as well, rubbing against her ankles as Kimiko tried to find her paintbrush.
Purrr, purr, purr...
Mitsuko listened to Junko's reasoning, it made sense, especially if there was to be more fighting down the road. "OK, Junko," she conceded. "Maybe after the record store, then?" They continued walking in the indicated direction.
About a block or so later, Mitsuko was still wondering about her new travelling companion. "So Junko, what's your story? What did you do before coming here? Tell me something."
Mitsuko jogged in front of her, turning around and facing Junko as she walked. "Because I want to know! Come on, if we're going to be doing stuff together we should-Ow!" Due to her positioning, Mitsuko slammed back first into...nothing. It was like there was some kind of wall there, but nothing was there. If she had been a gamer, Mitsuko probably would have recognized it as a classic level stopping barrier. However, to the ex-brainiac, it was just impossible. "What the...what's going on here?" she asked no one in particular.
Kimiko didn't even bother looking up at Koji or Suki, nor did she respond to Tuxedo rubbing against her and purring (Though she did make a mental note to pet the cute little guy as much as he wanted later). Her attention was still focused on the ground where she desperately hoped her paintbrush was. "Well, if you could hear me Koji, then why didn't you help me while I was getting mauled to death by that wolf?!" She snapped at Koji. Being reminded of that didn't help the already bad mood that losing her paintbrush had put her in.
This isn't gonna get me anywhere... I hate to say it, but getting around will be a real pain without Koji. She thought with a sigh as she sat up slightly and put a hand over her eyes. "Look guys... I lost my paintbrush in that fight. It seemed like it helped my attacks and... Well, it was a gift from my brother. I've had it for years and I've done all my best work with it. Do you see it anywhere around here?" She asked Koji and Suki. At this rate she would never find her paintbrush alone.
Koji started looking around on the ground for the paintbrush, but couldn't see it anywhere. "Oh, for your information," he started, "I had some wolf-shaped trouble of my own, and I didn't see you either! All I heard was you calling out to me."
"Because you were in separate zones," a familiar voice explained from the path to Towa Records. "The Noise exist in both zones at once, and must be erased from both at once."
"So why do they just suddenly disappear sometimes?" Koji asked, but got no answer. Shrugging, he returned to the ground to keep looking.
"A paintbrush? Well we should be able to find it. I don't think it can get very far in this... plane. Don't worry! Where there's a will, there's a way, right? We'll find it. Tuxedo! Help us look for Kimiko-sama's paintbrush!" The cat looked at her funny, then returned to rubbing against Kimiko.
Suki got on her hands and knees, trying to get a good view of the asphalt in between all the feet and shoes. "Ah! I see it Kimiko-sama! It's a few feet away from you! Over there!" She pointed at the paintbrush. "No! Kimiko-san! There! Over... no! That way! Can't you see it??"
Koji walked over to where Suki was pointing and picked up the paintbrush, passing it to Kimiko. "I believe this is yours, Nakano-san," he said, placing it in her palm. Turning to Suki, he told her, "She's blind. You can't just point at things and tell her 'there'."
"Ah! Your blind, Kimiko-sama?" Suki ran up and hugged Kimiko. "Is that why you got hurt? I'm sorry. Was that your fee? How are you getting around?" That's why she fights bad... She can't see the Noise. What about the ones that are quiet? ... Now that I think about it, are there any quiet Noise? "Does Koji-sama help you around all the time?"
A broad smile of relief spread across Kimiko's face as she felt the familiar shape of her precious paintbrush pressed into her palm. She rubbed the wooden shaft all over just to make sure that there were no wooden chips or blemishes in it. It was unharmed thankfully, and she quickly placed it into her purse to make sure it stayed that way. "Oh, thank you so much Suki-chan!" She said as she returned Suki's hug, carefully since she couldn't exactly see where she was hugging. "Yes, painting was a big part of my life, so they took my sight as my entry fee. That's why Koji-kun was leading me around by the hand earlier. Ah, but don't worry about me! Once I get used to this, I'm sure I'll be able to avoid getting hurt." She explained with what she hoped was a reassuring smile. Being the oldest of the group , it wouldn't do to have a little girl like Suki worrying about her.
"Oh, and I suppose I should thank you as well Koji-kun." Kimiko said, letting go of Suki and turning to him. She had overheard the man and although what he said didn't make any sense to her, it was very interesting. "So, we're fighting the same Noise but in different places? That explains why we can't see or help each other... I guess. Hey, maybe if I defeat a Noise it disappears in your zone and vice versa? That would explain a lot."
"I think that's true, nii-san. Maybe that's why you both come back at the same time all the time?" She held Kumiko's hand tightly, tugging a little. "We should check to see if the Reaper opened the wall yet. Come on, we're close to the store." She motioned for the cat to follow them.
"Hang on," Koji said. "He said we had to erase two symbols. And he pointed specifically at us two." He looked at the timer, then at Kimiko and asked, "Nakano-san, do you think you're ready to fight another group right now? We still have about fifty-five minutes left, and those fights don't take very long." He took the pin out of his pocket that he "won" from the wolf, showing it to the others. "Should be good to figure out what this is for. It seems too...plain. I mean, just beige with '500' on it?"
Wincing as Mitsuko hits the wall "Ooo, are you all right?"
"Want past this wall? Erase two noise symbols were I can see you."
*Sigh* "Are really going to have to stop for a challenge every couple of steps for an entire week? This is going to get annoying real fast." Rubbing her head bothered by the idea.
Looking over at Mitsuko "Looks like we need to fight more. How is your head? Should we wait a bit?"
"Other players... OH! you mean the competition. Do you think they'll try and kill us as well?"
The query was unsettling in tone, a sense of merriment resonated through his words followed abruptly by a seemingly ill-timed fit of laughter.
"Then again, we're already dead now aren't we. What do you suppose happens to us when we kick the bucket?" His very question brought the black and red man garbed to a standstill, his expression of elation passed only to grace the coming of confusion. He reached into his right breast pocket and pulled out the same black and white pin his partner was flicking in his grasp
"How did you die?"
"Can I see?" Suki stood on her toes, getting a look at the pin. Of course she knew what it was, but she saw no reason to tell them now. They'd find out soon enough anyways. "It doesn't look like anything I've seen. Will you be alright, nii-san? Here." Suki took off a ribbon from her dress, tying it to Kimiko's paintbrush, then to Kimiko's wrist. "I tied your paintbrush to this ribbon. When you fight, you can put this on your wrist, so you don't lose it again. Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living." She quoted cutely.
Following Suki's usual lack of actual helpfulness, Koji just tossed the pin up in the air, letting it fall back into his palm. "Well, I don't think any of us can find a use for it, so..." He tossed the pin into the air again, but it didn't come back down when he expected. Instead, what he got was a 500-yen note. "Interesting...I'm not sure what it means, but that's interesting."
Mitsuko rubbed the back of her head as Junko helped her back to her feet. "Huh? No, I'm fine, totally fine. I can fight." She reproduced the pin that had been so effective against those frog things that attacked before. "So where are they? What are we fighting?"
"A relic of the dead..." Kimiko muttered to herself as she held the paintbrush, now tied to her by Suki's ribbon. It was still hard to believe that she was really dead but she remembered jumping off that building quite clearly now. Eventually she snapped out of her daze and turned back to Suki. "Thank you, Suki-chan. I'll be sure to take good care of this ribbon and give it back to you when all this is over, alright?"
But her fighting wasn't done yet. Kimiko still had one more to go apparently. She touched her shoulder gingerly to see how it felt. Better than before, but she didn't want to put it under too much stress. Still, now that she knew that she and Koji were actually fighting together maybe this fight would go a lot easier. "Alright, Koji-kun. I'm ready for the next one whenever you are." She said, gripping her paintbrush tightly.
"Drunk driving." Rikio lowered his head away from Nagi. "It was so stupid of me. I even had a friend there who was supposed to drive. I should've been fine. Maybe I knocked him out, or left while he was in the bathroom. Maybe he started drinking, too. I can't remember. Whatever happened, I screwed up big, and now I'm here."
He shook is head. "God, if Kato survived that night, he probably blames himself for my death. I can't even imagine what that kind of guilt must feel like. Who knows, maybe he died with me and is playing the Game right now, too. I hope not." He jammed his pins into his pockets, separating the player pin from the others. "How did you die, Nagi?"
"I don't know, I think we have to go after them somehow."
Junko thinks back to what they told her before all this started. Unfortunately it seems that she hadn't been paying enough attention
"Gah, I can't remember. For some reason I couldn't find myself caring when they told me. Just as well, I wasn't in the mood for fighting anyway"
Mitsuko kept waiting for something to happen...but it didn't. Nothing was coming.
"What the hell? Isn't something supposed to come out now? How do we get by this wall?" All of a sudden, Mitsuko received her answer. The world around her went into this off shade of grey, everyone around her disappeared, even Junko faded from sight. All that was left was the street.
"Oh...shit." Mitsuko caught herself swearing, something she had never done before. It didn't seem to matter now though. As she stood wondering what to do, another shadowy figure emerged from a nearby alleyway. It looked like a porcupine, only it was a bit bigger and had these golden spikes coming out of it, and it did not look friendly. "Uh, Junko! If you're here, I could use some help I think!"
Koji looked around just as Kimiko told him she was ready, and his eye fell on a pair of girls who the same red-hooded man was talking to. Other Players? he thought, just as they disappeared - most likely into their own battles. "Not just yet," he said, looking at where they'd been. "There's another group around here. And maybe they might be able to help us with getting rid of the wall."
"Huh, looks like it worked then"
"Ok, just like last time, I can do this. It's not that hard," she thought to her self.
Lungeing like before her pin activates, hitting the enemy a few times with her flames. "Out of juice again, I've got to try another." Picking on with a little hand on it out of her pocket, shaking it around. Nothing happened. Trying again with one with a little grey 'swoosh' on it. Again nothing. "Urg, Why would they even give me pins if they aren't going to work."
So now that Kimiko was finally ready, some other people showed up to steal her thunder? Great. Although, she was already wounded so more fighting wasn't exactly desirable right now, but still. "How can you be sure though? Can they even do that? I thought the guy wanted us to do the fighting. Not that I'm complaining or anything." She said with a slight frown as she listened for any sounds of Noise or people fighting them perhaps.
Koji scratched around his ear for no real reason. "I'm not sure...It might still be good to have some other company, though. And besides, if we still have to fight again, the last two only took a couple of minutes, and that was with the learning curve."
"Me? I had a bullet bust through my brain and had my body torn to shred's by gunfire, all because I brandished my cell-phone. "
Nagi lifted the device to the eye-line of his partner, the scarlet four leaf clover displayed like an ominous plumage along the midnight black chassis. The phone was top range, full of features and by the intricacy, custom crafted, a pure juxtaposition to the rags that coiled around the slender frame of the slightly unhinged fellow standing before the man identified as, Rikio.
" Picked this lovely thing off one of the hostages, funny; I come here with phone I nicked, but not the knife I use- "
Nagi, stopped mid conversation and began vigorous patting himself down, his search of the blade he had used that fateful night yet again taking precedence in his minds eye, his companion merely watched in solemn silence at what might have been a minute of frantic flailing. As the ritual came to an end and the odd jacketed man returned to the niche of his cheery demeanour with a dash of confusion, seemingly trying to decipher where he had left the conversation before shaking the thought away.
" Still, can't seem to find it, don't particularly know why I want to... Oh well, I guess that makes my death's more interesting than yours, huh. I mean; you see that drunk driving stuff on the TV all the time... I ever mention I hate commercials. "
Hostages? Gunfire? Did I get partnered to a psychopath? "Umm, what were you doing the day you died, exactly?" Rikio asked tentatively, hoping for a response that would put Nagi in a better light. The two of them had almost reached Cadoi City.
Nagi paused, his eyes wandering off into the distance as he rubbed the gruff of his chin, his features adopting a state of focus, as if piecing together the tedious jigsaw puzzle of who he was. The memories were there, but the emotions and the order were different, as if someone had jumbled up his very mind.
" It was a bank robbery if I remember correctly,Ironically enough, I needed the money to keep on living. No one was hurt... "
Nagi paused for a moment before bursting out into a loud and untimely laughter
" Well I was, I died! "
No matter how hard she tried, Kimiko couldn't hear anything out of the ordinary. Apparently they really did disappear when they went into battle with the Noise. Since she didn't have much else better to do, she sat down on the ground and reached out until her hand found Tuxedo, rubbing his head gently. "Well, I guess a break wouldn't hurt then. Let's not wait too long though. I don't want to be erased."