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Chapter 9 - Underestimating the Enemy

This is the story of Koizumi, a young ninja who has awoken from a long, long sleep and fallen in love with a dashing (and cute!) young rock star. :3

Chapter 9 - Underestimating the Enemy

Chapter 9 - Underestimating the Enemy
As I slept fearful nightmares filled my mind. All previous, optimistic thoughts had disappeared. I came to the realization that this was not going to be like our normal, routine missions. It’s true that we were a good team, but we were not yet at a high enough level to be called a great team. I knew that if we didn’t raise the bar as high as we were able we would all die early deaths. I was truly frightened of this possible fate.
After what seemed like countless days of witnessing horrid possible realities my eyelids forced themselves to open, and I regained consciousness. I had been moved to the couch in the front room... Junichiro stood across the room. As soon as I recalled all of the events that had just taken place, my body began to thrash about and tears fell from my eyes.
Junichiro ran to my side. “What is wrong with you, Koizumi-sempai?!” he exclaimed.
“I don’t want to go to hell, Junichiro!” I bawled.
He threw his arms around me and held me close to him to try and calm me down. “You won’t go to hell, Sempai...”
“I’m scared...”
“You had an encounter with one of them, didn’t you?”
“You know I did.”
“I saw what you were dreaming...”
He grew silent after that.
“I’m alright, you can let go now.”
He slowly let go and my body relaxed. “I didn’t want you to hurt yourself.” His eyes moved to my left arm.
I glanced down to look at it and saw that it was covered by a long bandage, but I could see the dried blood.
“What happened to me, Junichiro?” I whispered.
“Do you want me to show you?” he asked, taking hold of my arm.
“I don’t see how it would do me any harm.”
“Alright, but I’ll warn you, this isn’t going to look pretty.”
“I think I can handle it.”
“Okay, here goes.”
Junichiro slowly lifted the bandages off of my arm. I let out a loud gasp. Three huge, swollen claw marks covered most of my arm. The more I stared at it, the larger my eyes became. It appeared as if my arm had been squeezed by a very nasty creature. I hadn’t seen exactly what he looked like, so I could only imagine.
“What was his name?” Junichiro asked suddenly.
“I think I heard Nazo-san call him Masoto,” I answered.
“Did he feel powerful?”
“Quite powerful. I could have sensed his aura from a mile away.”
“Kureno-sempai said he could sense him...”
“What do you know about him?”
Masoto is the lead singer of the band Bloody Petals.”
“I know that much. I want to know the good stuff. What’s the price on his head?”
“Enough Yen for each member of our team to have our own spending money for all of our missions, and the price rises every time he attacks...that is, unless he attacks the members of Hydrangea.”
My eyes widened once again. “Damn! How powerful is this guy?!”
“He is the most powerful Shinigami we will face on this mission. As every Shinigami does, he moves only in darkness, and his element is raw, unadulterated power.”
“So they sent their most powerful member for the first attack? Either they are baka and have no strategy, or they have some genius strategy that I’m overlooking.”
“Well, I can think of one strategy they could be using, but it doesn’t make sense to use it here. The one they appear to be planning can only be carried out within an elongated span of time. But, Master Yoshida doesn’t have us alive for much more than a week.”
“That could prove to be quite the disadvantage.”
“We could always just ruin their strategy.”
“Sempai, with all due respect, these are Shinigami we’re talking about. That means ‘proceed with caution’ not ‘hit em’ with all we’ve got and hope for the best.’ We have to be smart about this.”
“Junichiro, with all due respect, I don’t care what kind of creatures we’re up against. We need to train and become stronger if we ever want to touch one of these monsters.”
“I’m not sure if we have enough time.”
“You’ll have enough time for what I’m proposing.”
“We voted you as our team leader. Misaki and I will trust your word as long as you remain a member, but I’m not sure if Kureno-sempai feels the same way. His mind is hard to read.”
“Don’t worry about Kureno-kun. He and I both are training independently. I want you and Misaki to practice you taijutsu and Kenjutsu, and if you feel inclined to do so, begin your element training.”
“Taijutsu and kenjutsu?! Are you expecting us to use close combat for Shinigami?! I would have expected you to have us work on our sojutsu and shurikenjutsu!”
“I know it sounds strange, but I don’t think those skills are going to be beneficial. I’m pretty sure the Shinigami would be able to block everything we throw at them.”
“Well, what about you? What are you going to fight them with?”
“That, my friend, is a surprise.”
We both laughed.
“I should probably get you back to Nazo-san before he dies of worry.”
I slowly sat up. “Is he awake?”
“No, but we promised him you’d be there when he wakes up.”
“He’s going to need a new room.”
“He’ll have a new room by morning.”
Junichiro and I gathered up all of my bags and Nazo-san’s bags, and we headed over to Yuusuke-san’s room. His room was quite a mess. I could tell that a small attempt to clean it had been made because there was a massive pile of clothing shoved in the corner of the room. On the couch, Nazo-san slept restlessly.
“Put the bags down and leave,” I commanded.
“Don’t forget to report,” he whispered, doing as he was told.
“Settle down, you’re safe now.” I put my hand on the side of Nazo-san’s face and sighed. I wasn’t sure whether I was talking to him or myself.
I didn’t want to wake him just yet. Time would not wait for me to heal. Injury or no injury, I had to continue my elemental training. I electrocuted myself for approximately two hours until my cell phone rang loudly. Nazo-san shot up, and I rushed to answer it.
“Koizumi-chan!” Nazo-san exclaimed happily.
“Shhh! Don’t let them hear you call me that,” I whispered, pointing at the door.
“Oops!” He covered his mouth with his hands.
“Shh...” I put my finger to my lips and turned away from him. “I apologize, Master, I forgot to report.
“Actually, I’m overjoyed to hear that I have a Kunoichi who is so committed to her job that she feels the need to devote every spare second to her training,” Master Yoshida laughed.
“My job isn’t the only thing I’m committed to,” I replied.
“I know your reason for all of the hard work you do, Koizumi.”
“I’d rather not talk about this right now.”
“Alright, give me your report then.”
“Earlier this night I came in contact with a Shinigami.”
“Are you aware that Misaki reported that earlier this night you were brutally killed by a Shinigami?”
“She did?”
“Yes, and she told everyone but Junichiro.”
“Misaki must have been the first one to come to Nazo-s room. I bet she just saw the blood and ran.”
“She told me that she was too afraid to check for a pulse. You should speak to her. Misaki is afraid to live in a world without you. She cares for you quite a bit.”
“I know she does… I know we’re not supposed to make friends, but I almost couldn’t help myself when I met Misaki.”
“I am fully aware of your string bond with Misaki. If this bond should get in the way of your success on a mission, you would have to face your fate without protest.”
“I understand.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to do whatever your heart desires for the rest of the night. If you train any longer tonight, your arm will not heal.”
“Thank you, Master.”
I closed my phone and turned back to Nazo-san. His big, cute eyes were filled with tears. I opened my arms and he embraced me with such force that I could hardly breathe.
“Misaki-san told us you were dead!” he cried into my shoulder, “She said she found you in the middle of a big, bloody mess!”
“No one is dead. I am only badly wounded. It’s no big deal; it’ll be gone in a day,” I whispered reassuringly.
“Promise me you’ll never die on me. I can’t take it!”
“You don’t have to worry about me. I don’t plan to die anytime soon.” I kissed him on the cheek several times.
“You better not, because I need you.” He began to settle down.
“Try to go back to sleep. I need to speak with Misaki.”
“Promise you’ll still be here in the morning?”
“I promise.”
Nazo-san slowly let go of me, and went back to sleep. I knew I had to confront Misaki eventually, but I didn’t know how she would react. Misaki was in the next room. I silently hoped that she would remain silent as I reached for the door knob. When I finally opened the door I saw Misaki sitting against the wall, gazing at the floor. As soon as she sensed my presence her head shot up, and her eyes grew wide. She was frozen in that position for almost a minute. Then she sprinted over to me so quickly that I could barely see her. The only noise she emitted was loud sobbing.
“Misaki, I…”
“How could you leave me like that, you baka?!” she cried, holding onto me so tightly that I could scarcely breathe.
“I’m sorry…” I tried to comfort her.
“Don’t ever do anything like that ever again, or I’ll kill myself!”
“Now why would you do a thing like that?”
“Because I love you, Sempai! You’re like my big sister…or her replacement.”
I didn’t quite understand what Misaki was saying.
“Did you have siblings, Misaki?”
“Yes…and I miss them more than anything else, but it helps to think of you as my sister and Jun-kun as my brother.”
“You should let Kureno-kun into your family as well.”
“I can’t.”
“Why not?”
“He doesn’t like you, and he….he replaced “him”.”
“You can’t keep every friend you make.”
She quickly let go of me and scowled at me.
“You don’t understand! Nobody will EVER be able to replace “him,” NOBODY!”
Misaki turned to Nazo-san, who was sleeping peacefully now, and gave him the nastiest look I’d ever seen on her face. Then she angrily stormed off into the bedroom. I was a bit startled.
“What the hell?” I thought out loud.
I didn’t think Misaki was still so upset about the incident that had happened ten years ago. She had just sent my brain a difficult mystery to solve. Something was definitely wrong with her, but what? Why was “he” so important to Misaki, and what did any of that have in common with Nazo-san? Why did Misaki give Nazo-san that nasty look? I feared my questions might never be answered.


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