“I found my lost child,” she said, a small quiet familiar voice reaching through the maelstrom of Accelerator’s blackened heart and the black, black wings sprouting from his back and his own scream wailing into the sky.
They weren’t people, they’d told him over and over. They were windup dolls. They didn’t live.
Accelerator wasn’t supposed to defeat them. He was supposed to kill them, or none of this would actually work.
It made him be creative. He had to find something to enjoy in all this, solving a problem differently, in a new way, with a new application of his power. He hurt people who deserved it to find some taste for the damage he was going to inflict, leaned into the adrenaline rush each time.
He spoke to them before each experiment, tested the theory again, and time and again, they failed to respond because they weren’t people.
So this wasn’t cold-blooded murder.
1. Damage the enemy. If you can’t bring the power, don’t bother showing up. If you can’t hurt your enemies, then stay home and out of the way. Villains do damage.
2. Be ruthless about those who get in your way. If you can’t be heartless and hard-hearted, then go be a hero instead. Villains get the job done, no matter what, no matter who they have to hurt.
3. Commit to your goals. If you’re going to cause mass destruction, destroy it all. Be powerful enough to leave the rest unhurt. If your goal just happens to be that no one lays a finger on your sister… Well.
“I’ll show you a real villain aesthetic!” He throws back his head and laughs.
“You’re too loud,” Accelerator grumbled at the unwanted intruder in his bed.
“‘Don’t be so mean!’ says Misaka Misaka, glaring at you.” Last Order was indeed glaring, but she only managed to look pouty and not at all intimidating from where she’d sprawled against his side over the blanket, her frog strangled in her arms.
“You should be in your own bed.” He didn’t bother to prod her away.
She burrowed in closer. “‘It’s nicer here,’ says Misaka Misaka, stifling a yawn.” It didn’t stay stifled.
Accelerator watched her yawn, head dropping, eyes closing… and sighed.
Last Order was asleep.
Proof that Yata loves Saruhiko: he’s making pudding without any fruit or vegetables for the third time in a row, while muttering about immature picky eaters.
“Oh?” Saruhiko asks, with his most annoying, sideways smile and glittering eyes. “I’m the immature one?”
Yata just glares at him. “You can’t go shopping right now because you did in your leg,” he reminds Saruhiko, pointing with the stirring spoon.
“Because you were reckless. And that’s the only reason I’m cooking for you.” Yata huffs.
Lying. He’d cook for Saruhiko anyway, does cook for him. He just adds fruits and vegetables.
He might have been someone important, might have been loved by a mother, a father, embraced by family before he became the human body wrapped around the power of catastrophe and destruction. ____ didn’t feel anything about that, or about the seal between self and the world, or about the seal between that vessel and the world, where people moved in the distant light beyond this blue grey glass.
She hated that face. It wasn’t her own face.
Gray prepared herself each day without availing herself of a mirror. She could do up her hair without looking, clean even her face simply by feel, hide herself beneath a hood from shishou, from herself.
Her mother used to smile at her lovingly. The smiles had changed once she’d acquired this alien face. Everyone had been so happy—everyone but Gray.
“Ah, Gray.” He looked at her without looking at her, without wanting her to house someone else’s spirit, without wanting her to be anyone but Gray.
Attolia raised his eyes to hers, and for a moment, Eugenides was staring at her, not her earrings. She did not change expression, she willed him to see, and then he did, frozen.
“Do you know what’s going to happen to you?”
It was everything spoken without words, an offer made and rejected under duress, accepted now for reasons that somehow no longer seemed purely political. But Eugenides had never needed her words to understand, had never needed words to make himself understood.
Even so, he found them, closed his eyes a moment, then stared into her eyes anew. “Yes.”
She looked into those ugly eyes—all the pain and anger and fear that had built up in Kyo over years and years of knowing the truth about his own self—and saw him.
Not just the beautiful moments they’d managed to share. Not just his humanity lying over the top of this cat spirit. Not just the person and form that people loved, but the one they hated, the one that smelled and looked disgusting, even in the eyes of those who swore they loved him.
He saw it in her eyes that she saw him truly.
He had beautiful eyes.
From the first moment Violet saw the Major, she saw something she’d never seen before in the eyes that looked at her. She couldn’t name the feeling there, nor the feeling it struck within her own breast, only that when he reached for her, held her, she didn’t feel compelled to bite or hurt him. She didn’t feel threatened by his touch.
From the moment she looked in his eyes, they calmed and reassured her in a way nothing else had or could. She held onto her broach now and looked into that beautiful color—remembering.
Technically, Ekos wasn’t lost.
Hurtling end over end, nose over thruster through the cold deep in the dying light of a riftspace tidal wave. He only hoped the wave of byte and digit and signal flares he’d worked it in passed all the intended checkpoints.
He felt lost.
He’d destroyed the solar system, shredded riftspace throughout, and left the enemy squadron in smatterings and pieces. His own hull was damaged, engines not firing, adrift wherever he’d fall or riftspace would take him.
Ekos had been alone too long already, but now—
It burned within him coldly, he wouldn’t be found.
Mikoto stood in the doorway to the bar, and Kusanagi just looked at him for a long moment before Mikoto shrugged and dropped onto his usual seat at the front.
It wasn’t his way to apologize. Kusanagi had been the one to tell him that ages ago.
“You’ve had that in your system for years,” Kusanagi commented. His voice was just slightly sharper than usual, more disappointed.
Mikoto leaned his head back. Kusanagi was too close to this, too close to Mikoto’s inability to protect Totsuka, and he’d be the first hit when Mikoto left him holding all the pieces. There wouldn’t have been comfort in Kusanagi’s bed.
Munakata should know this was the only warning he was going to get.
“Did you find the gun?” Mikoto asked.
Kusanagi studied him for a long moment, seeming to pack up his pain, his disappointment, his face and tone smoothing out to something both casual and dangerous. “Yes.”