Epilogue | Night in a troubled city

Kimiko's hands were shaking as she reached for the door handle to hers and Erika's apartment. It was late, after 10pm, but that wasn't why she was nervous. It had been over a day since she had last seen Erika and she wasn't sure she could face her after the revelations she had been given by Megumi the other day. All she had left was a short note before she left to spend the previous night at Megumi's place.

<Focus, Kimiko,> she told herself. <Erika's your friend…she wouldn't do anything to hurt you on purpose.>

With that in mind, she swung open the door. The small apartment was dark, with the only light coming from the back of the apartment and from the city lights behind her. Kimiko placed her purse and the bag holding her welcome package from Usaka-san – a new PlayStation 2 and a game he wanted her to play – on the floor and took a deep breath. <I'm home,> she thought, <but it doesn't feel the same anymore.>

Taking off her shoes, Kimiko noticed that there were two pairs already laid in the entryway: Erika's and a man's. Blushing slightly, feeling bad on intruding, Kimiko started to put her shoes back on. Reaching for the second shoe, Kimiko looked up to see Erika walking towards her. Realizing who it was, Erika dashed over and turned on the light.

<I'm…I'm so sorry, Erika!> Kimiko said, now in a deep blush. <I…I didn't mean to intrude on anything.>
<What are you talking about?>

Kimiko simply pointed to the shoes as an answer.

<Oh, that. Kawaiza-san is just here…for work. Nothing's happening. I promise. Now, come in. This is your apartment just as much as it is mine. I want to know where you've been the past day that you couldn't even give me a call.>
<I'm so sorry Erika…I just…didn't feel I could face you after…> Kimiko stopped, tears starting to come to her.

Erika saw her friend start to break down. Feeling unsure, she placed her hand on Kimiko's shoulder. <I'm sorry too,> she said. <I wasn't completely open with you either…and for that, I apologize. Come on, you look like you're about to break down on me. And I just washed the floor too.>

Kimiko sniffed. <Erika…>
<You should lie down. You look like you've had a hell of a day.>

Kimiko took her shoe back off and followed Erika into the back. Kawaiza sat on the futon, holding his laptop on his lap. Looking up from his typing, he waved to Kimiko.

<Hey, Nanasawa-san,> he said, smiling.
<Hi, Kawaiza-san,> Kimiko said, wiping her eyes. <Why are you here so late?>
<We had a couple things to go over…and, personally, I think Erika-san was a tad worried about you.>
<Amora…> Erika said with a slight tone of anger in her voice.

<What?> Kawaiza said, laughing. <Hey, the news is coming on,> he said, pointing to the small television and changing the subject. <But…I'd better go. You two have a nice night,> he said, bowing as he made his exit.

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<Tonight, chaos downtown,> the disembodied female announcer said as the news logo scrolled across the screen.

Images of downtown Tokyo appeared with a very notable dust cloud over the Shinjuku district as the headline, <Unexplained Phenomena,> appeared at the bottom of the screen. Soon, they cut to the news studio, where the female anchor sat at a desk.

<Good evening, I'm Kuromori Hoshiko,> she said. <Tonight, we have some new information on several unexplained murders across the city, as well as on an explosion in the Shinjuku district that is causing trouble for the police. We have a reporter at tonight's police press conference to get you some answers. But first, downtown in Akihabara, a strange phenomenon with what seemed to be a rogue Magical Girl occurred earlier tonight. A reporter is on the scene with more.>

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Across town, Piro watched the same newscast from a comfortable couch in the hotel suite that Ping had rented out. Largo continued to work on his custom defense PCs that he was calling a "Beowulf Cluster" across the room, in a section blocked off by Piro when Ping started to go off on Largo's naked PC tinkering. Nearby, Ping sat on a chair playing with the PSP that she had used earlier to upgrade her system.

Some amateur footage of Tsubasa and Yuki's fight started to roll. Piro, catching a glimpse of Tsubasa's face, called out to Ping.

"Hey, Ping," he said, waving to grab the attention of the robot. "Tsubasa's on the news."

"Oh," Ping said. She shut off the PSP and disconnected it from her earblade. She walked over and sat next to Piro to have a better view of the television as the reporter came on screen.

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<Earlier tonight,> the man said standing outside the electronics store that Piro, Largo, and Ping had left earlier after witnessing part of the fight being reported on, <several people reported seeing bright flashes of light above the streets of Akihabara. As you can see from the footage we were able to obtain, what many are calling a rogue Magical Girl caused severe damage to this computer store I'm standing in front of. Damages to the store, the hardest hit by the fighting earlier tonight, are in excess of ¥15,000,000. The Magical Girl was eventually subdued by the assassin the police used to pursue her. The assassin, identified as Master Tsubasa by the Assassin Guild, is listed in stable condition at Keio University Hospital in Shinjuku. Live in Akihabara, this is Kitakawa Jiro. Back to you, Kuromori-san.>

Kuromori-san reappeared on screen, thanking the reporter for his time and effort. <Now,> she said, <we take you live to the police press conference on today's events, where Police Lieutenant Takama Shinichi is supposedly going to answer some questions…>

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Outside the general police headquarters, a careful ploy often utilized by TPCD to keep the special division away from most of the general public's view, Shinichi was going over his notes for the press conference that was part of Public Scenario #36. While he had gone over the standard procedure several times before, he was still nervous. He had never had to cover up anything directly related to him…let alone a, "rogue Magical Girl," that was, in honesty, the Director's daughter.

<Sir,> an attendant said, coming up to him, <they're ready for you.>
<Thank you.>

Takama stepped up to the podium that had been set up earlier. He felt the heat of the television cameras and lights wash over him. The flashes from the cameras blinded him for a second. The tension in his throat started to mount as he pulled out his opening statement. Calling on his experience in public affairs, Takama summoned the courage he needed to proceed.

Across town, the Sonoda's were sitting down watching the news broadcast, with Yuki fast asleep in her room. Masamichi watched anxiously as his friend took the stage.

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<Good evening,> the man who had taken the podium said. The television overlay identified him as Takama Shinichi of Tokyo Police, neglicting the Cataclysm Division notation. <Earlier today, we were directed onto three separate murder scenes. The first murder scene we discovered was downtown nearby the American company Microsoft's Japanese headquarters. Five Microsoft employees were killed. Microsoft is doing their own investigation into the matter, and TPC...the police are assisting them in their efforts while tying in the overall investigation into our own.>

<The second murder scene was discovered at a metropolitan apartment building. Three were murdered, including a high-ranking member of the Ninja Guild. The third and final murder scene was at Shiritsu Daitou High School and Daitou Gakuen Attached Middle School, where an entire class of twenty-one students and their English teacher were all murdered. This was prior to the explosion later today.>

<The murders all shared similar degrees of brutality, but we are still unclear how, or even if, they are all related. The explosion, as far as we can tell, was due to a gas leak and not due to any malice, and no additional students from either school were killed. We do not believe it is linked to any of the murders. In addition, the Magical Girl phenomena encountered in Akihabara earlier tonight does not seem to be linked either. We will now take your questions…>


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Usaka turned off the television.

<So,> he thought, <it seems that TPCD doesn't want to outright link us to the explosion yet. Interesting. I wonder what Sonoda's game is.>

End | Day Two
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Author's Notes:
This thread has been yet another great experience and I want to deliver a big thank you to all those that have supported this fic. The comments and criticisms that I get pretty consistantly after each chapter are all that keep me at it...and I just want to thank you guys for it all. I'm doing it for you guys at this point. :)

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