The crowds of people dwindled as they drew closer to their objective, of course the area was still brimming with life but when compared to the scramble, this place might as well have been purgatory. Nagi was running backwards through the torrent of Realground ghosts watching with splintered intrigue as they parted along his unknown path.
"You look weird..." Nagi mused as he drew his attention to his partner. Rukio's eyes were plastered to his feet, his pace; slow and methodical, and his features washed in a hue of worry. Nagi knew that something was amiss with the lad but his mind was unable to find the right words to aptly describe his companions drudging movements.
"Are your feet broke-?" Nagi's words came to a halt as he tripped over backwards on a crack in the pavement, landing squarely on his behind.
While Junko went to grab a seat, the food was delivered out onto the counter. "Here. I'll get this!" Mitsuko offered as the dogs and drinks were loaded onto the tray. She brought them over to the table her partner had selected and quickly sat down, not wanting to wait to bite into the chili dog she had purchased.
"Smells pretty good!" she noted right before she took her first big bite into the dog. She had never had a chili dog before. Proper nutritional advice for her parents taught her that chili and hot dogs should be avoided since they did not contribute much to the required amounts of vitamins without detracting too much in other categories. But as she let the flavors dance in her mouth, the spicy chili coating the plumped up hot dog with it's fired up sauce, it was heaven in Mitsuko's mouth.
"Oh, this is so good!" she exclaimed. "Junko why didn't you get this? It's awesome!" She went in for another bite eager to replenish the tastes in her mouth.
"It seemed like a bit much, I'm not even that hungry. You certainly seem to be enjoying it though." as she grabs her hot dog and takes a bite. Its ok, nothing special just a regular hot dog. Hell even if she doesn't finish Mitsuko is at least getting some enjoyment out of her meal.
"Hey do you think the people out there can see us though this window? I've been trying to figure out all the rules to this whole temporarily being visible thing." She says as she stares back out the window.
Mitsuko stopped her eating process and put the chili dog down for a second. It was a good question Junko posed. "Hmmmmmm," she thought out loud, taking a sip from her OJ as she did. This was the most thinking she had done in the past two days. Still it was good for that analytical mind that had been scrupulously put in place by her parents over the years to get some action.
"I wouldn't think so, really. I mean, if they can't see us outside, theoretically it would be because of being outside. It's something about these stores that are making us reappear in the real world, right? The department store, this fast food restaurant, it must be something about these places within the game that are letting us be seen, and I don't think anyone outside is going to get the same benefit."
She took another sip. "Of course, then by extension, does anything we touch disappear from sight for them? Or does it just look like this orange juice is floating in the air to them? I would think that if whoever is in charge of what is going on with us has accounted for this, and has taken precautions to ensure the former scenario, so the Tribune headlines don't scream about "Disappearing Dogs in Downtown" or something similar. Does that make sense?"
"Right and by that extension what ever power that allows the people in stores to see us effects those people's perception rather then changing our from. Like the power gives those in the store the ability to see ghosts rather than us reappearing. It might be odd for someone to not see us in the window and then see us sitting here at the table. Same could be said about us walking out the door though if we just disappear. I don't know, I'm not convinced one way or the other. It's probably not even important."
Koji noticed that his hot dog had accidentally landed with Mitsuko and Junko. He headed over to pick it up, overhearing the end of their conversation. "Hey, girls, what are you talking about over here?" he asked.
Mitsuko nodded along with Junko's theory on what exactly was going on in the restaurant as Koji came over to join them. "Oh," she answered. "We were just talking about how much interaction we actually have with people while we're in here as opposed to outside. Isn't it weird that one of the only places we can be seen is a fast food place?"
Koji looked up for a bit. "Yeah, that does seem strange," he said. He suddenly looked back down as he remembered something. "But, didn't you and your partner come out of Molco earlier? How did that go?"
"I stayed out side and waited for her. Its obvious we can interact with those in the stores. I'm just wondering if there is a way we can exploit that beyond its intention of letting us shop. Can we leave a door open a yell at those on the streets? Can we wave someone from inside the building outside to show them something? Although really I'm more curious than anything else"
Koji scratched his head. "If it's for getting help with a mission, though," he said "nobody would ever believe us even if we could tell them what was going on."
The others had already got their food, so where the hell was Kimiko's?! She was starting to get impatient when she felt something nudge her shoulder. "Um... Here's your order Miss. Sorry for the wait." The confused voice of an employee came from her right. Apparently she had been trying to give her the food for awhile.
"Oh. Thanks." Kimiko said, grabbing the tray that the employee had been poking her shoulder with. She could hear the others talking across the room, but she didn't really feel like joining them. No need to embarrass herself in front of them while trying to eat blindly after all. She cautiously took a few steps forward until her foot bumped something. After feeling around, she discovered it was a chair and felt around a bit more until she was comfortable enough to sit down. "Oh, uh... Is anyone sitting here?" She murmured loud enough that anyone else at the table would hear her, but others in the restaurant wouldn't think she was crazy if no one was there.
No response. She took that as a good sign and began fumbling around on the tray to find her food. It took a bit but eventually she had a firm grip on her drink in one hand and her hot dog in the other. Drinking the soda was pretty easy. Eating would be a bit trickier but thankfully it was just a hot dog which shouldn't be too hard to eat. She slowly raised it to her mouth and took a bite. It was alright. Not the best thing she'd ever eaten, but it wasn't exactly the worst either. Still, she'd prefer to be eating somewhere else. And to not be fighting battles to get her life back of course. ".... This sucks." Kimiko sighed to herself as she finished chewing.
Koji looked over at Kimiko, picking up his hot dog from the other two girls. He sat down next to her. "So what do you plan on doing after this?" he asked. "I mean, we could do the mission, but it seems that's unnecessary...Only one of us actually has to do it."
Kimiko was slightly surprised to hear Koji sit down next to her and start talking to her. Even more surprising was that he wanted to skip the mission it seemed. "That's pretty surprising to hear from the same guy who was getting pretty upset with me earlier for wanting to leave the mission to the others." She said, frowning and contemplating the idea. Not having to fight was tempting but....
"Do you think those two can handle it? I don't wanna get erased because they screwed up."
Koji shrugged, not caring that Kimiko wouldn't have seen it. "I'm sure there'll also be other players around besides them. Not all of them would have been taken out on the first day, I'm sure. I mean, we survived, didn't we?"
Mitsuko was thinking about the prospects that Junko and Koji were talking about, at least before Koji went off to retrieve Kimiko. It was an interesting prospect, and one that if true, would be a really big help. At least in getting some messages out for the outside world.
"What if we tried something like this?" Mitsuko asked, taking out the receipt from her shopping spree earlier. "If this works, maybe we could be able to signal someone passing by." She took a couple of the coins left over from Koji's spending and placed them in the receipt before wrapping them up tightly in the thin paper. "If we can interact with anyone outside the restaurant while we're in here, this should prove if it is possible." She secretly hoped so. She seemed to be more in control, more focused in Mexican Dog, all the combating thoughts and desires in her head had less power.
She took her bundled up experiment and moved to the door, opening it for an younger couple coming in, and keeping it propped open. Spotting a target, a middle aged businessman wearing a well-groomed black suit, she hurled the projectile at him. Her aim was true and she could see it heading right for him.
The package of coins hit the man squarely in the head. He recoiled from the hit, and stared in the direction of the Mexican Dog, looking for the one who threw it. After a moment, he shook his head, and continued on his way.
"No, my feet are fine. I just-" Rikio's explanation was cut short when he saw Nagi trip. Even though he had done his fair share of falling lately himself, it was hard not to laugh. At least, until he tripped over his own feet. He had tried to stop too suddenly, and Nagi's fall distracted him from his own feet.
"Oww" Rikio sat down, and rubbed his knees. He didn't want to check, but felt pretty sure they were scraped. He was about to turn to see if Nagi was ok, but a Noise symbol suddenly appeared in front of him, quickly approaching. "What the hell?" Nagi exclaimed as the world seemed to fade away around him. "Nagi, get up, quick! We gotta fight!"
Kimiko finished her hot dog and moved on to her soda as she listened to Koji. She swallowed quickly when he was done and replied. "I still don't like trusting my life to people who may or may not even exist. Besides, it's not like we really have anything better to do. People can't see us." And on top of all that, Kimiko still wanted to go to Udagawa. Even if she couldn't see CAT's art, it would be nice just to go there again.
Junko laughs a bit to herself, "Well all right. Nice shot. We just learned to things form that, the guy out side didn't see you but the couple coming in seemed to." Looks around these experiments are more fun then she thought. "I have another idea, go outside and stand in front of the window, I'll ask someone in the store if they can see you ok?"
Mitsuko was a bit disappointed the man didn't seemed to care that he was hit in the face with random coins. But Junko had another idea and she was more than willing to try that one out as well.
"OK!" she said affirmatively as she exited the restaurant and went to window in front of where Junko had chosen to sit. She looked back inside and immediately her eyes fell back on her half-eaten chili dog, still sitting on the table. "I wish I brought that out with me....."
Junko goes up to a table that should be in view of they window. "Hey I'm sorry to interrupt, but can you see the girl in that window?" pointing over at Mitsuko.
The girl Junko was talking to looked out the window for a moment and frowned. "What girl in the window? there are a bunch of people walking by.
Rikio nervously watched the two green dragon things that were approaching him. "Crap. Crap, okay, just need to touch the pin." He stumbled backwards and tapped the yellow and blue pin on his shirt, extending his other hand. A few energy blasts shot out of his hand, stopping the right mink in its tracks. But the left one was ganging up on him fast.
"Alright, some for you too!" Rikio blasted the mink, but it suddenly started spinning rapidly, resembling a green tornado. Rikio's attack didn't seem to hurt it at all. "Oh, come on!" He continued to blast it, until the pin stopped working. The spining mink somehow shot a green blade of wind out at Rikio. He was so close, there was no way he would have been able to dodge it. The wind blade hit him head on in the chest, bringing Rikio to his knees.
Koji couldn't think of anything else to say about it. "Well..." he started, then stopped. "All right. You know, I hear there's a pretty sweet graffiti mural back there..." He trailed off as he suddenly remembered his partner was blind. "Oh, wait. You wouldn't be able to see it...Well, I suppose if the layers are thick enough, you might be able to 'see' it that way..."
"Never mind, thanks anyway" Junko sits back down at the table waving her hand towards the door to gesture her back in. She looks disappointed. All that experimentation and time waisted, this power only works for it's intended purpose. Just goes to show you what effort gets you she thinks to herself.
Mitsuko looked at Junko, she sat down with a resigned look on her face. She came back in and sat down. "Didn't work, huh?" she confirmed. "That sucks. But I guess if we could somehow get someone in here, if we needed to talk to them, that would work, right? If I hit that guy, and we needed to do that with like a note or something, just to try and get them inside so we could talk, that would work, right?"
Mitsuko took another huge bite from the chili dog, there was barely any of it left after that one. "We can get their attention, we just need to make sure they see what we want," she said through a mouthful of meat.
Junko perks up at that statement, "I didn't think of that. That thing you threw at him stayed solid even though you were invisible. Nice thinking!" So it wasn't all a loss, she now felt weird she gave up so easy. "All right then, now we are getting somewhere."
As Nagi scrambled on his hands and feet as the floating blood and black symbols morphed into a pair of green mammalian creatures, their bodies elongated and suspended in the air by invisible hands, their eye's a sharp red tone that contrasted against the lime and their forearms deformed into graffiti stylised scythes that arched backwards like inverse wings.
"Run, run, run, run, run, run, run..." Repeated Nagi while the creatures in his foreground began to shrink, his body scuttling across the concrete pathways that mazed Shibuya. As Nagi retreated the world around him began to shift and contort, the ghosts that wandered aimlessly through the streets faded, escaping the soon-to-be battlefield between noise and player.
"Run, run, run, run, ru-" Nagi's words came to an abrupt halt as his body refused to press on. His back was planted firmly against the unseeable wall that enclosed the pocket dimension of combat, the only signal of it's existence being the brief pixelated pulses that radiated as the grey haired lad pressed against it.
Using the invisible wall and the strength of his spindly legs, he pulled himself upright; his feet now squarely on the ground, holding the rest of his body aloft, as was their ergonomic design. Shivers ran up and down his body as the image of the beast that he had tried so hard to erase by fleeing grew larger and larger, their sizable frames rapidly closing in on their red and black garbed prey.
"Fear, I'm scared... why?" Nagi's hand reached out with his hand and masked one of the green creatures, his mind trying to piece together what he was feeling and why. A list of reasons began to flow through his head, some were absurd, others more rational, but none seemed to remain, the moment one entered his head, it would disappear just as quickly.
Time passed and the shivers and stutters began to falter, the furrow of his brow that signalled his terror softened and the curl of his lips rose high into a giddy smile. Cornered and armed with an empty mind the black jacketed madman rushed after the monsters that pursued him, charging at them with nothing but a clenched fist.
Nagi launched the first blow a, less than powerful, punch right for the green beasts face. The noise was bestial and would surely have taken the blow, but it even seemed surprised at this almost suicidal response. In it's defence the creature began to spin, forming a cyclone that repelled the young boys hand while the other sent him flying onto the open road with an aerial crescent blade.
"ARRRGGGHHH" Nagi screamed as he rolled along the pavement, pain reverberating across his chest and in his hand from where his folly and noise's attack had felled him. The scythe-like wing had clashed with his torso with the force of a swinging sword but had surprisingly failed to draw blood, it hadn't even succeeded in cleaving his vestments; were he in his right mind, Nagi may have attempted to sate his confusion, but the call of battle superseded this rational endeavour.
Refusing to relinquish his life once more, Nagi lifted himself from the metaphorical dirt and readied himself to attack, this time taking a more logical pursuit. His mind quickly bolted from thought to thought. It began with the image of a bowl of ice-cream, then to a familiar song he had heard on the radio station before ultimately returning to the moment he was in dire need of recounting. The sequence of his last bout with the graffiti beasts played through the cinema of his mind; the power of the pins, now fastened to his lapels, displaying their destruction on the overgrown toads that hopped maliciously around the concrete playground.
Giggling just under his breath, Nagi flicked the points on his jacket: igniting the crimson and midnight seals symmetrically clasped to the comfortable material. With his left hand clicked his fingers, spawning a black sphere between the two noise while with his right he made a large horizontal arc, spawning a silver, barbed wire that pierced the creatures in place.
"Bye-bye" Nagi waved at the creatures as they flailed painfully and screeched upon the jagged spines of the inter-dimensional chain, all the while the black sphere was pulsating and cracking with a shining red glow before erupting into a powerful explosion. The smoke masking the fate of the creatures.
"Nice one Nagi!" Somehow, Rikio could tell that his partner had done a lot of damage to the Noise. Unfortunately, they weren't dead yet. Okay, my missile pin is still recharging, but I have that other pin that throws stuff. What do I have to throw? He quickly scanned the area, looking for something heavy. But all he could see were cones. That's no good. Wait, I have two other pins in my pocket!
Both dragons were closing in on him again, and Rikio had his back against a wall, somehow.Not seeing any other options, he desperately dived forward, between the Noise. One of them started spinning again, grazing his leg and making him wince in pain. Rikio landed on his back, skidding about a meter before coming to a stop. Using the extra second the move had bought him, Rikio jammed his hand into his pocket and fumbled around for one of his other pins. After he a moment, he pulled out both pins, but he was unable to keep a good grip on them, and they fell out of his hand on to the pavement.
"Son of a-" One of the minks suddenly flew at him. Rikio ducked as quickly as he could, placed his hand over the closer of the two dropped pins, one with a lightning bolt on it, and pointed at the Noise. "pleaseworkpleaseworkpleasework" At first, only a blue target appeared around the noise. But then, a small bolt of lightning fell from the sky, repeatedly striking the Noise until it cried out in pain and disappeared. "Yes!"
"Hope so," Mitsuko concurred as she popped the last bit of hot dog into her mouth. Seemed a shame to finish it so quickly, but it was just too good to save. "Maybe next time, if we need it, we should try something bigger, like that high chair over there."
Junko appeared to be nearing the end of her meal as well. "So, are we heading out soon then?"
Maybe next time, if we need it, we should try something bigger, like that high chair over there.
Junko cringed a bit at the thought. "That sounds like a bit much, we don't want to go around hurting people."
So, are we heading out soon then?
Finishing the last of her hot dog, "I don't know, are we still going to be traveling with those two? The girl seems a bit...uppity. Like she doesn't want me around. Hell, she didn't even bother sitting with us."
Kimiko wasn't surprised at all to hear that Koji had heard of the graffiti in Udagawa. It was pretty famous after all. He was right that she wouldn't be able to see it, but going there was for the mission so she would have to go regardless. "Yeah, it's by CAT. I've.... Seen it before so I can still picture it in my mind. Still, it's petty awesome. You should definitely check it out." She told him as she cautiously stood up to throw her trash away.
"Anyway, we should get going. We've wasted enough time here. Oh, and if you still want to go with those two, then that's fine by me. As long as we get there and get the mission done, I could care less."
Having not actually wound up eating his hot dog, Koji started to walk out of the restaurant, giving a short "Come on" to make sure Kimiko knew his intention. The crowd on the road seemed to have thinned out in the time they were there - perhaps he'd be able to find another clue around Spain Hill while Kimiko got up.
Mitsuko looked over, the two of them seemed to be getting up on their way out. "Doesn't look like we're going to be travelling with them," she noted. "I dunno what's going on over there. They say they want to team up, and that seems like a good idea, but then they go off on their own like that. They are really hard to read."
She slurped up the last bit of OJ. "Well, if they're going, we should go too." She picked up the tray with the garbage on it and dumped it in the bin.
*sigh* "I guess so, do you know how to get to Udagawa at all?" disposing of her trash. She already new the answer, she just also knew that it would wind up being more work for her.
Mitsuko shrugged. "Not really. I figured we could just follow the other two. They said they knew the way right? Might as well just let them go." Kimiko and Koji seemed to be stalling at the doors. "They'll probably be going slow enough that we can follow."
Kimiko heard Koji get up and walk out the door. Not wanting to get lost on her own she followed him, stopping to feel around for what she hoped was a garbage can and toss her trash in. After that she felt her way to the door and went to push it open. When she did so she was surprised to bump in to someone and feel a hand already on the handle. "Hey! Watch it!" She heard an angry voice call out to her. Apparently someone else had gone for the door at around the same time she did.
Kimiko was about to apologize when an interesting thought struck her. "No, YOU watch it!" She replied before pushing past the person and out the door to where she was no longer visible. "Well... I can see that coming in handy. Now then, which way to Udagawa..."