Erika Hayasaka stood behind the counter at Megagamers, glancing at her watch every now and then. Piro was late again, and she was in a hurry. She adjusted her Miyu outfit and tapped her foot slightly.
There was a clatter of CDs on the counter. "Excuse me...?", said a male voice.
Erika turned around, and experienced a profound deja vu. On the counter lay two CDs signed with her name, and an unfamiliar guy was staring at her with a knowing smirk.
It wasn't the same guy as before - one of Piro's weird friends from America, as she recalled - but a similar enough type of guy, especially with the jacket and glasses. He seemed to be well-armed, and held a strange-looking gadget in his hand.
Ah, one of *those* people.
Erika reached under the counter for the device that would alert the nearby EEK team. "Can I help you...?", she inquired impassively, keeping eye contact.
The guy nodded, then suddenly pointed the gadget at her. "Remember", he said.
And she did.
He caught her limp body in one hand, then let it drop onto the counter, and left as if nothing had happened. No-one saw him go.
Erika slowly came to, feeling someone shake her insistently. She opened her eyes and with some difficulty focused them on a face. A familiar face, with a wild mop of red hair over it.
Largo looked grim as he checked her pulse and shone a flashlight into her eyes. He prodded a bit at her neck, and she heard him mutter: "...no bite marks. It must be a psychic vampire."
He was holding her close, and yet she didn't feel threatened. He certainly didn't have any ulterior motives right now. His examination, though obviously not too professional, was not in the least intimate. She felt a bit like a piece of evidence.
And even if he tried to cop a feel, she felt too tired to do anything about it right now...
"l33tmaster?", she heard another voice from somewhere above them. "We take girl to hospital?"
Largo shook his head. "They would not understand... the f00lz..." Then he seemed to have an idea. "...no, wait. There is one place where they are aware of the true nature of things. Where l33tn3ss is prized, and undead are treated with the loathing they deserve." He stood up dramatically. "Follow!"
Erika's back was on the way to a painful encounter with the floor, but someone caught her swiftly and held her up in a fireman's cradle. She squinted slightly at the ninja with brightly-colored hair.
"<...oh, it's you...>", she said faintly.
Junpei nodded. "<Fallen warrior need help. Then come back to battle stronger. But now, rest - Junpei bring you to place of healing. Trust l33tmaster.>"
Erika managed to smile very slightly before falling unconscious again.
The door opened and a Rei wearing a Senshi uniform similar to Sailor Saturn's walked out, a pensive look on her face. IntelliAyanami jumped up from where she'd been sitting next to Iain Caduceus, trying to cheer him up. "Well...?", she said.
Magical Girl Rei shook her head. "I'm really not sure. All the symptoms correspond to energy draining by a demon, but the magical signature is completely different." She paused, then glanced at Iain, still rather miserable after such an attack on his boss and favourite Main Character. "Excuse me", she asked, "could I read your aura for a minute...?"
He looked up, somewhat surprised, but nodded. Rei closed her eyes and moved her hands in front of his face, as if trying to frame it. Finally, she stood up and nodded. "That's it. That's the signature I felt."
"You're not accusing-", IntelliAyanami began, but the other Rei lifted her hand. "No, I mean it's the same *kind* of signature. Similar power."
"So the attacker... is a *Technomancer*?", C-kun asked.
"That's what it feels like to me. Maybe we should get Meagen to double-check", Magical Girl Rei suggested.
"I'll call her", IntelliAyanami nodded.
C-kun stood up, his face serious. "I have to look into this. Ayanami-san, Ayanami-san, Mizuno-san, please excuse me." He summoned his holotop, keyed in a command, waited for an authorisation, then vanished in a blaze of light through the nearest Ethernet port.
IntelliAyanami sighed. "Well, it looks like we're not getting much further right now, 'mam. I'll let you know when we have something."
Acting Head Nurse Tohru Mizuno stood up from where she'd been observing the proceedings. "Thank you, Rei-san. Please tell me when Meagen-sempai gets here." She hurried outside, or would have, if someone didn't choose that moment to try to enter the waiting room.
Good reflexes on both sides avoided an accident. "Sorry...", she began, only to realise the other person had said it as well.
Tohru and Lightsider regarded each other through the doorframe, both of their faces just barely hiding a deep pain. The akward moment stretched until Lightsider broke eye contact and stepped back, allowing Tohru to pass. This she did, vanishing down the coridoor without a word. The doctor walked up to IntelliAyanami, who had to remind herself once again that htting him would not make anything any better, and would probably make her fist hurt.