Once in a lifetime – chapter 15

Late in the evening, Detective Gold was back at his home office, glaring at his computer.
While trying to stay as discreet as possible, he still lost track of the mystery military convoy from the previous night. It went down a private dirt road that led into the woods. If he lurked behind, it’d erase all doubt that he was trailing them. 

Trying to track them through license plates yielded similar results. The plates were most likely fakes, not appearing on any registration site. The humvees not having any reliable registration meant they weren’t military. At least, on the books military.

He leaned back in his office chair, staring at all the notes he had taken over all the missing people cases he had taken. Only a few could lead to conclusions other than wild deduction. 

A common factor was how quite a few constantly went to either hang around or explore the forest. With strange military trucks involved in the forest, could there be a connection?

His focus was broken by a voice. It was his police scanner. There was chatter about how somebody reported an attack on Tomahawk High.

He grabbed his keys and pistol, hurrying to his car.

Screeching to a stop at the front of the school, there were already several police cruisers parked around the building, along with a few ambulances. Some students were sitting near them, and an injured teacher was being helped into one. 

Several officers were standing around the entrance, glaring around.

Gold walked up, showing his badge to the officer.

“Detective Gold, PI. What happened here, exactly?”
The officer stared at him blankly. 

“Sorry, we’re not allowed to let anyone in here. It’s an active crime scene, sir.”
Gold put his hands in his pockets. “Look, not sure if you’re new here or something, but I’ve got the same qualifications and credentials as you. This isn’t the first time I’ve assisted in an investigation.”

“Sorry sir, I can’t do anything for you.”
He huffed. “Ok then, is the sheriff around? I know him, he’ll clear things up.”
The officer spoke into his radio. Moments later, the sheriff came from the building.

“So, what exactly do you want?” Spoke the sheriff.
Gold rubbed his eyes at him. “And who are you? I’m friends with the sheriff, and you ain’t him.”

The sheriff shook his head, putting his hand to his forehead. “I’m not here to play any games. What do you want?”
“Well, I’m here to assist with the investigation. It has details related to a case I’m investigating. Involving missing kids. You think a school attacker might have some connections to this.”

“Well, only those who are authorized are allowed inside. Simple as that. I got no word about needing assistance on the investigation, so you clearly aren’t needed.”
“Authorized? By who? Is there another sheriff around here I’m not aware of who’s calling all these shots?”

“If you really want help with your investigation, you’re free to read the report we’ll release once this investigation is complete. But for now, you’re going to have to leave.”

“And what if there’s something you missed? We’re here for two different reasons. If you don’t want me to interfere, fine, I can stay clear of wherever you’re working. But I still want to see the scene myself-”
The sheriff stepped forward. “Sir, I’m going to ask you to leave. Unless you want to be detained for obstruction of justice.”
Gold clenched his fist, before relaxing. “Fine. Sorry for causing all this trouble.”

He stormed back to his car, sitting down. He turned on a voice recorder. 

“Weird new sheriff in charge, not sure what happened to Harold. I’ll have to give him a call later. They’re keeping the school locked down.”
He glanced at the students receiving treatment. “Maybe the students who were around could offer insight? Not sure how I can get ahold of them for an interview. They are still being treated, and I don’t wanna push the buttons of that new sheriff too much…” He remembered the girl he rescued from the factory a while back. “Louise, that girl. Does she go to Tomahawk High? Could be a possible lead. It’s a longshot, but maybe she was around here at least near the time of the attack.”

Returning home, Louise’s mother was overcome with relief with her Daughter’s safe return. With everyone fed well, it was finally time for some well deserved rest.

Queen curled up on the couch, and Davis sprawled out on the inflatable mattress. 

He was so exhausted, he almost fell asleep instantly. 

Until a worrying thought wriggled its way into his brain.

The history test is still tomorrow. 

His eyes shot wide open. They also left their bags at the library. They’d probably have to rush over early, and hope nobody stole them. If they were missing when he showed up…

He shut his eyes tight, trying to let exhaustion take him to sleep.

Nobody’s going to steal my schoolbag right? Who wants a bunch of history books anyways.

Kirino and her friends were relaxing in her home theater. It wasn’t like a theater in the traditional sense, lacking dozens of seats. It was merely a single room with a large TV screen at the end. A large curved couch faced the screen, where everyone was lounging. Catching up with Eternal Warrior Tokugawa was over, so Kirino and Scott were passionately chatting about the latest episode. Dom was seated deep into the couch cushions, doodling away images of a robotic figure constructing a grand castle.
Clarice had only arrived minutes prior, her dress clothes lightly stained with sweat. She silently sat by, observing the others discuss.

“He could have gotten through that entire fight a lot more smoothly.” Kirino spoke. “The Black Steel Navy is getting a lot more crafty, but Tokugawa is sticking to the same sword techniques. It’s bringing him too close to death. I would hope he’d treat his position with more respect, since he’s the only hope and everything.”

“Yeah, but isn’t it awesome that he just powers through everything with sheer willpower? They can build whatever fancy laser ship or whatever, and he’s gonna keep growing stronger and power on through.”

She thought back to the show. Her heart did race slightly at the awesome display of his fictional swordsmanship.

“You are correct there. Still, I think it would be more satisfying if he continued to refine, and even invent new techniques. He’s intelligent and capable enough for it.”

The door to the theater swung open, and Mrs. Yorogani hurried through. 

A woman a little taller than Kirino, she wore a pricey business suit, and the same long black hair. She sighed in relief at seeing her daughter. Scott lit up and waved to her. Kirino simply turned to her.

“Hi mom. I didn’t expect you to be home this early.”

“Kirino! Did you hear what happened?”

“I haven’t heard anything.”

She rubbed her brow. “I got a phonecall a short while ago that somebody had attacked Tomahawk High.”
The group stared in silence. 

“I know you got home fine, but I flew home as soon as I could. They haven’t caught the perpetrator, so I just want to make sure you’re all safe.”
She smiled and nodded. “Thank you mom. But I am perfectly fine taking care of myself.”
She turned to leave. “If any of you need anything, and I mean anything, don’t hesitate to let me know!”

Scott and Clarice waved, saying “Thank you Mrs. Yorogami!” As she left.

Kirino sighed.

“Wondering who went out of their way to attack the school?” Clarice piped up. “Either way, they’re gonna be caught and locked up in prison for a while.”

“No, it’s just what my mom said.” She sighed. “She’s not lying when she says she can do pretty much anything for us. I resent that fact greatly.”

Dom held his sketchbook close to his chest, leaning over. “Isn’t that a good thing though?”

“From an outsider’s perspective, yes. But getting everything I wanted was my life. When I was younger, I got constant accolades and praise, but it all felt so wrong. After middle school, I realized that all my achievements were all my parents, not my own. No matter what I’d do, my achievements and accolades were all because of my parents..”
“Well, I don’t think your parents got those muscles for you. Unless you got some steroids.” Scott teased. 

“Sure, I can call that my own. But others will never recognize it as my own.”

She stood up, and began to pace.

“Those in power crush ambition because they fear it. My parents mean well. They aren’t terrible people. They built Meiji Co. with their hard work and dedication, and are now reaping the benefits. As far as I know, they didn’t destroy the lives of others to get where they are.”

She sat down, facing the three. “But they’ve unknowingly birthed me into a life where I undeservingly reap their benefits, both material and socially. Nobody will concern themselves about how I achieved this body through my hard work, nor how my academic grades were achieved free of nepotistic meddling. They’ll merely see who I was born to, and respond ‘She’s the daughter of the elite. No wonder she’s so skilled.’”

“Though shouldn’t the opinions of everyone else not matter?” Dom spoke up. “I thought you weren’t really supposed to… You know, let them get to you like that?”
“Unfortunately, how others view you matters a lot. Especially if they’re in positions of power. Anyone who seeks to be my friend only does so because they know I am “the Daughter of the Yorogami family”. The same will go for every job, college…” She turned away. “Even romantic opportunities.” She turned back. “With my family name preceding me, I’m trapped in their future, with only desperate ways out.”

Scott nodded. “Earning it is probably a lot nicer. A race isn’t as fun to win if you don’t put in the work yourself.”

“I wish simply donating it all and shedding myself of the company’s future was an option. But I do not wish to ruin the futures of thousands because of my own selfish desires. Now, I at least have the chance to let my desires improve the future of millions.”

“Well, if you don’t like it, change it. That’s a simple saying, right?” Clarice added.

Kirino nodded. “The fact that my plan is even possible is a miracle. Coming across the paranormal was a sign from God. I will not let this chance go to waste.”

She’s shocked out of her demeanor by her phone ringing. It’s a peculiar violin tone.

“It’s my employer. Stay quiet.”

She answered. 

“I’m hoping you weren’t at your school today.” A voice spoke.

She squinted her eyes. “You were responsible for the attack?”
“We utilized Scarecrow to try to re-capture the escaped skinwalker. The team overseeing it, however, lost control of the situation. Scarecrow, however, was destroyed. I assumed it was you.”

She sighed. “You now need me to find the skinwalker?”
“Yes. While capture is preferable, killing is an option if it is too dangerous.”
She raised an eyebrow. Knowing her employer’s namesake made killing a bizarre thing for him to settle for. 

“Considering it was hiding among my school, I should be able to find it soon.”
“Second, as for those hindrances you ran into, Louise and Davis. Hopefully you have come up with any other means of dealing with them.”
“I’m working on something, but there aren’t many opportunities recently. In time, we will cross paths again, and then I will deal with her.”

“I trust you on that. Call back when either of those jobs are complete.”

She hung up. 

Scott scooted closer. “Sounds like your employer is concerned by Louise and Davis too, right?”
She nodded. “He claimed to have some plan to deal with them, but the two managed to wriggle free from his grasp. It’s a large assumption, but perhaps he tried to use Scarecrow to indirectly deal with them.” She tapped her chin. “Clarice, maybe tomorrow we can investigate the attack site? I know of a few ways we can sneak in.”
Clarice bounced up, nodding. “If it was Louise who got in the way of everything again, I’d be glad to help prove it!”

Scott spoke up. “I’ve been thinking, and I got a plan myself. We don’t even need to get into a real big fight or anything. I’m just gonna need Dom’s help for it tomorrow.”

“Peaceful resolution?”
“Louise is a team player. Without her friend Davis, she won’t be able to work well. I think I know a good way to get him to step away from everything.”

Davis’s nightmares about flunking the history test were put to rest in the morning. Over a nice breakfast of pancakes, (A meal which Queen took a few quick bites before rudely spitting out), Mrs. Palrick informed everyone that the school was closed for the rest of the week. 

“I’m really happy you all got out of there safely.” She said, cleaning up her cooking mess. “That attacker apparently did a lot of damage. The police need more time to investigate the site. So for now, please at least be home before dark. At least until they find this crazy guy, all right?”
Louise rolled her eyes. “I can handle myself well enough mom. I can probably outrun the crazy guy any day of the week.”

“Hey, I’m making no compromises here. I really don’t want you getting hurt. You don’t want to give me any gray hairs early, right?”

Louise grumbled. “Fiiine.”

Mrs. Palrick left the room.
Davis elbowed her. “It’s not that bad. We just can’t go out too late like we usually do. Maybe we can take this school time off to like, relax? We’re gonna have to re-study this weekend so maybe we can just, hang out.”

“You kidding me? Queen’s here and all ready to help us out. We should head out into the woods ASAP and try to sniff out some more cryptids! School being out is a great sign too!”

“Well… I mean first, I didn’t get enough sleep. I’m still worn out from everything yesterday. I don’t even have my gear on me… Just one day to relax, all right?”

Queen leaned in. “I would like more food. Breakfast did not taste very good. It was not filling either.”

“Fine… Maybe after your nap, we can all meet up at Royalty Burgers at like, 11:30ish? If you really wanna relax, might as well do it with good food. Actually, maybe we can use this day to train and exercise a bit too!”

Queen’s eyes widened at the mention of burgers. “I agree. We should go there right away.”

“As long as I get to nap…” He thought back to his body going numb from his powers. “Maybe a bit of exercise would help me out. But sleep first.”

Louise nodded, a big smile on her face. “Be at Royalty Burgers no later than noon! Else we’ll eat without you!”

She turned back to Queen.
“Anyways, I can catch you up on everything we’ve done in the meantime!”

With his hood flipped up, Davis was three-fourths done with his walk home. For once he was honest with himself about needing more sleep; the exhaustion from the previous day was still in his body. Halfway on the walk home, he realized how much his jacket smelled. It wasn’t too overbearing, but it still retained a fleshy kind of stench to it. He sighed. Didn’t want to do another laundry day this early but man… 

A change into fresh clothes, then a very powerful power nap. After that, exercise. 

It’s been nothing but work with Louise. Maybe we should find some other things to just relax. Maybe we could play some games? Is she into those? Maybe I could show her to some. It’s been a while since I just had a few days to be normal.

His house was a short while down, but somebody was waiting in front of it.

It was the blue haired boy, Dom.
He had the artifact backpack on as well.

Davis tensed up. 

Why is he here? Alone? Are there others waiting? Did Kirino intend to ambush me? He’s waiting patiently. Can I sneak around the back maybe? I can’t ghost past him. What if he notices me? What’s gonna happen?

As he ran through all the possibilities in his head, Dom turned, and locked eyes with Davis.

He too tensed up, frozen in place. He started shaking. 

Davis sucked up his nerves and marched forward.

“You’re Dom, right? Dom Castillo?”

“Look, I see you with that power tool thing on your back. I really don’t want to have a fight here at all…”
Dom sniffled. “N-no! No not at all! I… I know it’s stupid to fight out in the open, I swear!”
“Then why are you here? I really REALLY just want to rest today, no fights or trouble.”

“No no! I don’t want any conflict or trouble! I promise!” He looked on the verge of tears. “I’m just here to deliver this!” He stretched out his arm, holding a small envelope. 

Davis stared at it for a second, before taking it. “Thanks, I guess?!”
“Y-you’re welcome!” He yelled, before running off.

Davis stared at the envelope, then turned to unlock the door to his home. Entering, he locked it behind him. He checked the back door, finding it was locked too.

Checking the mail, changing into a clean, nicer smelling set of clothes, he sat in bed. He opened the letter, finding a hand-written note.

Hey Davis! Remember me, Scott? I know you’re into this UMA hunting stuff, I’ve got a little bit of experience in it too. I know we bumped into each other a while ago, and that caused a bit of problems. In case it happens again, I wanted to meet up, and have a talk. Sort some stuff out so we won’t run into any issues in the future. We can meet in the woods at 10AM, near that abandoned shed. Hopefully you’ll find it, it’s hard to not miss!

Davis pondered the note. While it could be a trap, it was from Scott. He was nice, willing to just walk away from the pointless conflict back at the Whispering Settlement. He was a friend of Kirino’s too. Maybe he was hoping to strike some deal, kinda like with Von Chad. Maybe as long as he and Louise avoid whatever monsters Kirino goes after, they can both work peacefully, maybe side by side?

It was at least plausible. 

Davis sighed happily, checking the clock. It was 9:15am.

Just a quick nap, and he’d be off.

“What are you looking at?” Queen questioned, as Louise was tapping away at the computer. “I saw screens like that at the school too.”
“Oh this? A computer! It’s…” She thought to herself. “A complex machine that stores a lot of information and can do a lot of stuff? It’s mostly handy for getting information on literally anything.”

“Anything? Is it similar to a technician?”
“Not really. Why even that comparison?”
“Davis told me a technician could tell me how a microwave works.”
Louise let out a quick “Ha!” Before turning and typing into a search engine “How do microwaves work.”
“If you wanna figure out simple stuff like that, the internet can answer that. Just take a look right here!”

Louise displayed an encyclopedia page for microwaves. Queen stared at the screen for a few moments.

“I don’t know how to read.”

Louise snickered. “Well, I guess you ARE all about survival and hunting. Reading doesn’t help much with that.”

“I don’t think so. The computer is full of information. I need to know how to read to learn this information. Learning any information can help with survival. How did you learn to read?”

“I think like… fifteen or sixteen years ago my parents taught me? Though that was simple reading. School taught me more advanced reading stuff.”

“I thought you said school was boring, and you go out of obligation?”

“I mean, SOME of it was helpful. Like reading. And maybe basic math. But right now it’s really boring, and kinda pointless.”
“Perhaps your school can help me learn to read?”
“Ugh, getting you enrolled sounds complicated though… Maybe at the library. I could try to help!”

Louise’s face brightened up, and she held her finger up. “I think you can learn a lot more interesting stuff on your own without school anyways. I’ve been thinking about this a bit since last night.”

She stared at her bookshelf for a brief bit, pulling out a book labeled “A history of Medieval Combat”

“I wanna talk about something I learned myself, just by reading. So, I saw you shapeshift around, and you can make your skin harder or softer, form a cool knife hand. I’ve wondered, have you ever thought about full body armor?”
She stared as Louise flipped through several pages of the book. “I can, but there is a limit. If I make my skin too tough, it becomes rigid and harder to move around. Being unable to move makes me more vulnerable.”

“Knights have got you covered there.” She flipped to a page, outlining plate armor. “A thousand years ago, warriors used spears and polearms. Iron plates will .”
She pointed to the image of a full suit of plate armor. “See it’s all rigid except at these points.” She pointed at the knees, armpits, elbows, and leg joints. “Funnily enough, those are the weak spots. But the rest is well armored enough that it’ll protect the wearer from most fatal blows. It’s also not just the iron plates! They also wear several layers of cotton below the iron, to help catch anything that does pierce the metal, and cushion them from blunt blows.”
Queen stared. “I observed cryptids with tough hides similar to this armor. I never understood this fully. Let me try this.”
She focused, and a slight crackling came from her body. From underneath her fake hoodie, the shape of plate armor rose. Her shirt and chest rose even more as a solid plate of armor covered her vitals. Her hands grew more bony, as gauntlets in the shape of Liberty Aegis formed. 

She moved around her limbs with her new armored form, happy with her mobility.

“Copying that, I could instead create a bone carapace. It is much stronger than simply hardening my skin. Below the carapace is another layer of tougher skin.”
Queen stood, copying the knightly pose the armor was making in the book.

“That’s awesome! I especially like your style with the gauntlets too.”
She inhaled, the bone armor slowly returning into her skin. “Do you have any food? Creating that armor makes me hungry.”

“Oh, I know something quick and tasty. Do you know about hot dogs?”

“Louise, somebody is at the door asking for you!” Her mom called from the front. 

“Wait here. I’ll be back soon.” Louise left, walking to the front door.
Standing there was Detective Gold.

“Hello once again Louise. This is a bit informal, but I have a quick question. Were you at your school at the time of the attack? I’m trying to investigate what happened.”
She felt her heart beat faster. She sucked in her breath.

“Is there something wrong with me in particular? I’m not in trouble, right?”

“No no, I just… I knew you and assumed you were a student.” He sighed. “I’ll be honest, coming to you is just a hail mary. The police aren’t letting anyone, and I mean anyone investigate the scene. I’m just looking for any other sort of lead, since I’m not sure if this attacker is connected to any of my cases.”

Louise’s heart was still beating quickly, but started to steady. 

P.A.I.N. must be covering up. I wonder if his cases are related at all?

“I was there during the attack, but escaped. I guess I can answer a few questions.”

He was a bit early, but Davis was at Louise’s “secret” hideout. There was a half decent amount of shade being cast by the thicket, and in the 1% chance this was actually a trap, he made sure to bring along his gear and some of his traps. He had even woken up earlier from his nap, just to quickly whip up a new bomb.

Behind the shack were a few stones, rolled up conveniently to be used as seats. There sat Scott, with Dom nervously standing a few yards behind. Seeing Davis, he waved.

“Glad you got my invitation!” He yelled over. 

His jacket jingling with equipment, Davis sat across from him.

“So you said this is just to talk, right?”

“That’s the idea. I went to you because I don’t think Louise is too keen on having a simple chat.”
Davis sighed, chuckling. “Yeah, you got that right. Glad you can understand THAT with her. I swear she never just wants to sit down and think things through-”
“Hey, hate to cut you off here, but we were here to talk, right?”

Davis nods. “So what exactly is it? Are we just going to agree not to interfere with each other’s paranormal stuff? I’m more than willing to agree to that.”
“Not what I had in mind actually. I’m here to tell you it’d be best if you would back off from UMA hunting altogether. You’re way out of your league.”
Davis flinched, blinking a few times. “W-what? Are you threatening me? Did Kirino send you to do this?”
Scott crossed his arms. “It’s outta concern. I’m a bit new to this UMA stuff, like you. I’ve seen a few of them, and heard a lot from Kirino. Heard what happened with the hydra, and even saw the little scuffle you had with Dom and Clarice.” 

He gave him an intense look. “It’s easy to say you’re skirting out of every conflict with luck. One day, your luck is gonna run out, and BAM.” He clapped his hands. “You’re gonna get sidelined by a particularly nasty UMA.”

“Look, you have a point ONLY with our fight with those two, but no. It’s thanks to my skill and capability that we’ve gotten so much done. You know nothing about me.”

“You think that ghost stuff you can do can get you out of every situation? I hope you have some backup plan when your artifact fails you. It is obvious it has its hangups.”
Davis clenched his fist. “It’s not an artifact. I was born with this power.”

“My point still stands. Your power can still fail you, and you gotta be prepared for that.” 

He sighed. “I know that Louise is never gonna step down. She’s not really the talking type. That’s why I’m hoping to talk some sense into you. It’s best you step aside and away from this UMA stuff. You’re not going to last with what’s to come.”
“Who are you to be telling me this anyways? You think you’re some kinda expert with monsters?”

Scott shrugged, smiling. “I’ve learned plenty in just a weekend. You can have your reservations with her, but Kirino is a very good teacher.”

He scoffed. “Yeah a weekend, I’ve lived through all this. I’m way more experienced than you.”

“If that’s so, I can prove you’re not capable enough. How about we just have a simple game of uncle?”
Davis stared angrily. “What do you mean?”
“You got your powers, and I got some of my own. First person to restrain the other, or get them to surrender wins.”

“And what’s in it for me?”
“Well, if I win, I prove my point. You’re incapable, and should step away from this world. If you win, I’ll have a word with Kirino. If you aren’t just stumbling through every UMA through luck, we’ll be on our way to establishing proper boundaries.”

The potential of getting Kirino out of their work was icing on the cake. All Davis wanted to do was to show how much he has grown in the past month. No way he was going to get shown up by some newcomer. Not after all the work he had put in.

He had his traps, there wasn’t much direct sunlight, giving him five ghosts tops. All he’d need is one. He made sure to bring some zip ties with him just in case things went this direction. He’d get close, phase out with Scott in tow, ziptie his hands together, and victory.

“You’re on. I’ll prove myself without a shadow of a doubt.”
Scott smirked. “Only rule: No severe injuries. Controlling one’s strength is equally important, you know!”
He stood up, revealing a skull-shaped lantern on his hip. He turned a knob on it, and teal flames blazed forward.
Even from under his heavy jacket, Davis felt goosebumps run across his body. With every breath, he saw steam come from his mouth.

A spirit materialized behind the boy.

It was a skeleton made of ice, wearing a pirate’s coat and hat. Its icy spine extended far below it, forming a tail made of clear navy-blue ice. The hands looked fleshy, but completely blue. Its wrists wore heavy, similarly colored icy chains. The chains connected to a strange, crystalline wheel mounted on his back.

Past the frozen rib cages was its face. The spirit was wearing a black and gold mask, showing no features at all.

Davis’s eyes widened. 

“Meet my Captain, G.G!” Scott announced. “We’re one and the same mind on a few things, like a good crew. So it’s still a good ole one on one. Dom, hit it!”
Dom nervously stood up, and revved up the Wonderbuilder. Smoke billowed from the device, and it wrapped around him. Making a hand motion, a sawblade appeared, and he began running around the two.

After making a perfect circle, the ground began to sink several feet slowly.
The two now stood face to face in a large, circular arena.

“Hey GG, you were listening in. What do you think about Davis here?”
A ghastly voice echoed from the spirit. “Aye, you best hope your bark isn’t worse than your bite lad! You’ll end up like many a captain who challenged me in my prime!”

“Well come on Davis. Prove you aren’t carried by dumb luck, show your life’s worth of skill!”

Following the questions, Louise and Queen bolted out the door. 

She told the detective what she could: The man was a shadowy figure she couldn’t make out clearly. The power went out before the attack, she had to flee from it, a fire started, and she managed to escape. 

She obviously couldn’t tell the full story, but it did bring her some joy to even hint to somebody else about her exploits. 

“So we’re gonna go to the plaza. It’s the same area where Royalty Burgers are, but there’s a hot dog place in particular.”

She paused, continuing to walk.

“You know it’s nice to have a friend who’s more enthusiastic about food. Davis doesn’t really eat too much.”
“Don’t you need to eat to survive? Is Davis different?”
“Nah, he’s just probably used to frozen meals and stuff like that.”
“Burritos? They tasted fine. Though not very filling.”
“Oh yeah, the frozen stuff is small and cheap. Maybe I can take you to a Mexican place, show you what a REAL burrito is like.”

They continued their walk, chattering about all the different types of food they were gonna eat. Halfway to the plaza, Queen slowed down slightly, glaring behind her.

Two girls, the red haired girl from the settlement, and a taller black-haired girl, were slowly gaining on them.

“Louise.” She said quietly. “I think we are being followed.”
She checked behind her, confirming the two girls were Kirino and Clarice. 

She felt her blood boil, and whirled around.

“What’s your problem?” She yelled. “Can’t you just stop hovering around me and leave me alone?”
Clarice rolled her eyes as the two approached, stopping several yards away. 

“We’re not your babysitters.” Clarice spoke. “But once again, you’re meddling in things that don’t concern you.”
Kirino pointed at Queen. “We know that’s a skinwalker. Going from hunting UMA to unwittingly protecting them? How easy are you to trick.”
Queen’s eyes widened, and she felt her heart race. She tensed all her muscles, ready to bolt to the woods and never look back.

Louise stepped in front of her.

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about. She’s a new friend I made, simple as that! What do you have against friendship? Not as good as having goons like miss wannabe cop there grovel at your feet?”
Clarice’s face flushed red. “She knows a LOT about making friends, thank you very much!”
Kirino shook her head. “You’re not exactly social enough to make friends on a whim. Anyone can tell that.”
Louise clenched her fist. “Just because you THINK I’m incapable of making friends doesn’t mean I can only make friends with cryptids! Not my fault so many others can’t keep up with me.”

Clarice took a few deep breaths, calming herself. “You’re not fooling us. We saw the school, the damage done. We know the skinwalker couldn’t have dealt with Scarecrow alone. We also only know of one other person around here who deals with the paranormal in such a messy way.”

Louise opened her mouth, trying to speak back. 

“Yeah, well…” From her jacket pockets, she pulled out and slipped on her gauntlets. “Sure she’s a skinwalker, but she’s a friend! Whatever you want with Queen, you’ll have to go through me first. Bring it!”
Kirino smiled. Goading her was much easier than anticipated. 

“Perhaps I’ll do just that. But, perhaps we should find some place less public?”
Louise glanced around. They were surrounded by small homes, and there were still a fair amount of cars passing by.

“Oh uh… Well then, fine! I’m keeping my eye on you, better not pull anything sneaky!”


2 thoughts on “Once in a lifetime – chapter 15

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