Welcome to Academy City. The time is morning, the weather is hazy, and the date is February 5.
You were Kyril Torikov, Level 3 telekinetic ‘business owner’ and you probably were feeling the effects of a hangover. A night on a couch after getting rip roaring drunk was the cause. Around you, several bottles of alcohol were strewn about. You remembered that the punch had run out rather quickly. Your drinking companions were still dead to the world. Touma laid sprawled out on the armchair opposite. The next chair held the Accelerator, dozing off yet still as a statue. Sagara had borrowed your desk. All in all you were probably the only one with a relatively comfortable bed. It would explain how you woke up first. It took a while for your mind to get itself in order.
First you remembered why you were drinking. It was more of a distraction, giving the august presence of the First Ranked Level 5 in the room. He had been brought low by the casual offer of a drink. Either it was a blind spot in his usually impenetrable defences or he knew what he was doing letting his guard down like that. Still it was good to know that there was something human in being to share a drink with him. Then you remembered why he was here in the first place. He had been in the company of a former classmate who had a crush on you. Fortunately, or not, for everyone involved, Asuka had whisked her away when you had rejected her confession. There was less drama after that, only drinking, complaining, and the telling of old stories that should have been left well enough alone. The things the Accelerator got up to was tragic but also horrifying in its own way.
There was a message from Nayuta asking for you to come in for a debriefing sometime today. It was the start of the work week after all, though you rarely did have the weekend off. First things first though you,
>Woke up your drinking buddies
>Left quickly to change for work
There was no point in sticking around. You were just putting off work at this point. You left as quickly as you could. Kaoru was also present. Even she had missed a great bit of schooling one extra day wasn’t much more. She also probably had an excused absence. Nayuta greeted you with a usual cheerful tone,
“You smell terrible nii-chan.”
You knew you had forgotten something.
“So about yesterday?” you deflected.
“Oh right,” Nayuta fiddled with her keyboard, “Well I pretty much know everything.”
There was footage from your helmet camera displayed on her screen.
“What I want to know is what Kaoru-chan and Ben-jii were doing together.”
At this, she turned to the only Code M in the room. Was she setting up Kaoru, were you her insurance? You didn’t know what you boss was thinking as she eyed your recently returned colleague. Kaoru, to her credit, didn’t flinch away from the gaze.
“He was making way,” she paused, “For Teacher to return. As for how, I do not know.”
That was concerning to say the least. The last times that Teacher had come to Academy City, there had only been death and destruction.
“What is he up to this time?”
“He is after the Mad King Ollerus who has hidden himself behind the fabric of reality somewhere in School District 10.”
“Should we write off the Tenth completely then?” you asked.
“What do you know about this nii-chan and why didn’t you tell me?” Nayuta looked at you accusingly.
“Only bits and pieces. The Anglicans will be providing the ritual, I will be providing the lands and,”
“The Russian Orthodoxy will be providing the muscle,” Kaoru finished.
“You mean Teacher will be providing the muscle,” you corrected.
Kaoru shrugged. She was just as in the dark as you were about the whole scheme. Speaking of schemes,
>The Russian Ambassadress had come calling
>You wanted to know Kaoru’s part in the plan
>Her Royal Highness was demanding your presence
“Why does everyone and their mother have number?” you asked.
“The Russian Ambassadress had many good things to say about you and in the interests of furthering cooperation and goodwill between our two,” Nayuta started.
“Alright, you can stop there, I get it,” you stopped her. “You’d think my line would be a bit more private.”
“Hah, if anyone knows anyone in this City, they would know who to call,” Nayuta remarked, “Not that your secrets aren’t safe or anything. Besides we need you to keep an eye on her anyway.”
Vaguely reassured that you weren’t being whored out, you left your boss to deal with this new problem. The now Ambassadress Elizalina was waiting at a hotel in School District 3, which was a bit of a drive. Thus it was of some surprise to you when she had informed you,
“We shall be visiting the School District 10.”
Which was on the other side of the City.
“Had you forgotten?” she asked, “I wish to purchase some property in the area to build a proper embassy. A hotel room, no matter how fancy, does not make for a good office. I have acquired the proper permissions.”
You tried to remember what she was last in the City for.
“And you need my help?” you asked.
“I had wanted to hire a local guide but I had been warned that the District had seen a recent increase in violence. Something about a territory dispute between the various gangs.”
Though it wasn’t entirely your fault, she didn’t need to know more than that. You cut her off,
“The District has calmed down.”
“That is good to hear,” she nodded, “I assume you know the area.”
“Then perhaps you can recommend me a good area from which to establish myself?”
Oh, you knew a few areas alright, especially the Strange, but there was more to School District 10 than that. Most of it was Anti-Skill or former Guild territory though. You recommended,
>An area in the Strange next to your territory
>Somewhere far away from your business
>Ask her for any specific requirements
“Well I happen to know just the place,” you answered.
It was close to where you operated but the pros outweighed the cons. You were close enough to keep an eye on her, and she wouldn’t get much trouble from the nearby establishments. The lack of trouble should also help keep her out of gang politics.
“This is the place,” you said as you parked the car.
From the graffiti on the walls, you knew that whoever owned this little parcel of land wasn’t part of a bigger gang. The block was big enough to house a small compound.
“Satisfactory,” the Ambassadress commented, “A little refurbishment is well within our means.”
“The block is condemned,” you corrected, “It is no longer up to code.”
“The whole block?” she was somewhat baffled.
“Yes, the City has been looking to improve the quality of the district though there has been a sad lack of incentive to invest here.”
“Which is why it is ruled by the gangs, the poor, and the desperate,” she summarised, “Then let us hope I can change that. How soon can the work be started?”
First you were going to give the residents fair warning. They deserved at least that much. You had expected some resistance of course. Except, everyone inside seemed to shy away from your presence. Elizalina had followed you in, as a matter of course. The faces that beheld the Ambassadress were less of dread and more predatory.
“This building is condemned,” you simply announced, “demolitions begin tomorrow.”
There was some uproar.
“And you’re going to chase us out?” a voice shouted in anger.
“But, we have nowhere to go,” another cried.
“Bad enough that the Guild can’t pay its thugs,” yet another complained, “and that Russian bastard Torikov keeps trying to buy us out. Now even VERDICT’s getting in on the act. The City never cared before.”
Elizalina remained silent. She was undoubtedly watching you handle the situation with interest.
“Well the City cares now,” you answered, “We’ll find places for you.”
As you said that, one of the residents who had an improvised weapon relaxed their grip on it. The tension seemed to ease and Elizalina stepped forward now, to talk to some of them. You kept an eye out but otherwise you were engaged with ringing up Nayuta.
“Hey nii-chan, calling for the cleaners already?”
“Did you know the Her Excellency was planning on building an embassy in School District 10?” you asked.
“Huh? Is that why she asked for you to guard her?”
“Among other things I guess,” you sighed, “Please tell me someone was vaguely aware of her plans.”
You heard Nayuta typing for a moment.
“Hmmm, it seems that they did grant her a permit for purchase of some amount of land. Except they were deliberately being unhelpful in their recommendations.”
“Maybe they weren’t expecting her to bother with the Tenth?”
“Or maybe it was her plan all along. Or someone else is pulling the strings. Anyway, the City can’t afford to have yet another Code M run around loose inside the City, diplomatic immunity or no.”
“So keep her contained and focused on secular matters, right? What about the British Princess?”
“Got it in one nii-chan, and Her Royal Highness had not been at war with us so we aren’t as concerned.”
That made sense.
“Oh and I found some new places for our, erm, refugees,” she smiled, “I have to admit, I like it better when nii-chan isn’t so expedient.”
“She’s a guest,” you reasoned, “No need to show her that there’s more trouble on the home front.”
It was the first reason you could think of anyway.
“Uh huh, when you’re finished I have another thing for you nii-chan.”
With that she hung up. You turned back to the Russian Ambassadress. It looked like she was done talking.
“Where to next?” you asked her.
“Just out of the district, I can make my way after that,” she replied.
>Insist on accompanying her
>Give her a lift and move on
“I suppose that you are also my minder,” she sighed.
Nayuta had told you to keep an eye on her after all.
“Very well then, I believe you know the address of our next destination. We shall be visiting Ilyena Torikov. I would like to offer her employment.”
You gave her a look as the two of you reached the car.
“I know she is retired but she has the experience I need.”
“I doubt she’ll say yes.”
The two of you got in the car.
The time is now lunch, the weather is warmer, and the date remains unchanged.
Your mother was, strangely, having lunch alone. You had seen neither hair nor hide of your little sister. Maybe it was for the best. While your mother had not expected guests, there was enough food to go around. The three of you settled in for some lunch before discussing anything heavy.
“Oh, and where is little Mishka?” Elizalina remarked.
“With great reluctance, she has finally started to attend school.”
You didn’t make a sound but it was the first you had heard of it.
“She’s a gifted child,” your mother spoke with enough fondness to mask her caution, “The normal subjects do not challenge her.”
You were pretty sure that was a lie. A quick search had found that, yes, Last Order was enrolled in a normal primary school with children her age under the name Mishka Torikov. You were pretty sure she was enrolled for a different reason.
“Now, what is it that brings you here Your Excellency?”
You had seen your mother be excessively formal with the Lady London before so you knew she was already on guard.
“I wish to offer you employment,” the Ambassadress carried on unperturbed.
It was some kind of security arrangement. She needed your mother to vet her other employees though you doubted that was all she could have shared.
“I will think on it,” your mother finally said.
It was also a polite dismissal but as the Ambassadress stepped through the door, you were stopped,
Elizalina promised to head straight back to her hotel with some reluctance. You figured she was using you to escape paperwork some similar duty. When she was gone, did you finally step back in to the apartment and removed your helmet.
“You wanted to talk mother?” you asked.
She gave you a hug first.
“Yes, about many things.”
The two of you sat down in the living room. It was weird, just the two of you. There was always Last Order to interject with a comment or offer some insight.
“I do not trust that woman,” she started.
“Not because she is,” she paused, “like me. No, it is because she is likely being played. I simply wish to warn you of it.”
“I think I may know who, or why,” you answered.
“And I hope that it isn’t dangerous for you.”
“Anything can be made dangerous.”
“And thus my warning. Please don’t get hurt any more than you should.”
“Yes mother,” you nearly sighed, “And what of Last Order? When did she agree to go to school?”
“Ah that, well, I think Mishka should be around children her age. The Icelandic economy isn’t so unstable that she has to spend all her time on it,” your mother sounded exasperated.
You were also pretty sure managing Iceland’s economy is the only thing Last Order was doing.
“She argued of course so we reached a compromised. She will be in school for the last term and see if she likes it.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“I’ll find something,” your mother muttered.
“If you need help then,”
You were stopped by your mother’s laughter.
“I think you and your bratki have helped enough,” she spoke.
Your mother probably meant well though, so you didn’t take it badly. She continued,
“It is hard to keep a child safe and happy at the same time. Leave it to the adults Kyril. You will have plenty of time later on.”
There was a certainty in that last sentence there that you could not help but dread and anticipate at the same time.
“Are you going to take the job then?” you asked.
“I have more money than I know what to do with Kyril,” she replied, “If I work, it would be because I wished to, for my own enjoyment. Living with Mishka, and seeing you, it is enough for me.”
Well that was good.
“Unless she is a threat,” she decisively added.
“Not yet, but we never know.”
“Then maybe I should,” your mother seemed to reconsider swiftly.
On one hand, she would keep an eye on the Russian Code M. On the other, she was potentially putting herself in the line of fire for the coming conflict.
>”I’ll be fine on my own.”
>”You should, just in case.”
>”What I say shouldn’t matter.”
If I remember correctly, Kyril was doing just fine as a low-level thug until Sagara got caught in the crossfire. Then we ran headfirst into Kanzaki and Indian girl and things spiraled out of control from there.
“I think looking after little sister is a full time job already,” you said, “I’ll be fine on my own.”
“You’re not saying that because you’re jealous are you?” your mother stated evenly.
“Of course not,” you denied.
She simply kept her gaze firmly locked on you.
“Okay, maybe a little,” you admitted with shame.
“I think it’s those horrible masks you put on,” she got up and sat next to you, “I wished so many things didn’t happen.”
She pulled you close. Her breath came out too slow to be a sniffle. You were pretty it was anyway.
“It’s okay,” you reassured.
The time is now late afternoon, the weather is pleasant, and the date remains unchanged.
Your ears were ringing and your ribs were creaking. You had ignored Nayuta’s calls for a while now since you didn’t have your helmet on. Last Order had also literally caught you napping. At least you didn’t have to walk back to the office. Nayuta had already given you an earful on the way so you were hard pressed to follow the standard traffic laws. At least you had a blinker light.
“What’s the situation this time?”
“The fuddy-duddies upstairs are a little confused at the moment about the situation,” your boss replied, “And yes I did explain it to them.”
By that she meant the situation which involved the British Royal Family, a Russian ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, a former traitor to the City, said traitor’s master and City’s persona non grata, and Kaoru.
“Half of them don’t think it’s worth the risk of getting rid of and I quote, ‘a humanoid typhoon,’ while the other half obviously want it dealt with.”
“You mean they want me to deal with it.”
“Same thing, anyway, I need you to swing a vote a little bit.”
“Which way?” you nearly laughed.
“The way I see it, we need to get rid of this Mad King so we’re going to do something about it,” Nayuta explained, “Are you up for a little
“Isn’t that just a fancy word to say that you want me to kill somebody?”
“I really wish you were better at something else nii-chan but it looks like you’ve found your calling,” Nayuta affected sadness.
At least you thought she did. It was hard to tell over the phone.
“Anyway, we have to make it look like an accident, so no shooting and no over Ability use. We can get away with a picked lock, not a door blown off its hinges,” she said sternly.
She gave further details as you drove. A male attending university on scholarship was your target. It was a very rather specific scholarship, tied to the business dealings of a certain member of the Board of Directors. Specifically, it was a scholarship focused on professional deep-sea diving. Plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong here you mused.
“You might want to switch your look, I have an ID card and a disguise stashed away in one of the locker rooms. You don’t have a key but the door handles are notoriously weak.”
Parking a fair ways away from the campus proper, you noted how close the chemistry department was right next to the biology one. Both were researching nautical topics though. A desk/exhibit declaring the launch of a submarine was displayed out front. It was joint project between the two departments and was decorated with floating helium balloons.
“The target is part of the project as well,” Nayuta explained, “He’ll be in command of the submarine over all. They should be running some final checks on it today so you can bet he’ll be there.”
You got to your assigned locker, quietly forced it open, and donned your disguise. The changing room wasn’t exactly the cleanest you noted. Lighting was a nearly bare bulb with length cable coiled at the top. The corners and walls were rather mouldy. Floor was wet since the drain was clogged and on further inspection the water appeared to be saline.
Your first move was to,
>Locate and observe the target
>Visit the submarine pen
>Other plan (write-in)
You decided to visit the submarine pen. While the lighting looked mighty precarious, you weren’t sure that your target would even set foot in there. With the white lab coat and stern looking moustache and eyebrows, you made your way to the submarine pen. There were two of them. One was sitting a pool with a thick cable attached to it.
“It’s an air hose. These small subs are meant to be slaved to a bigger one,” Nayuta explained, “Pumps power and air to keep those things afloat. If they’re detached they should be fine for about five minutes. Target should be due in here later today, right now he’s doing some practice scuba drills just in case.”
The other sub was carefully suspended on a crane. Parts of it were stripped away but it weighted way more than a car. The crane wouldn’t be attached to the building’s structural support columns otherwise. Down below, two men were arguing about the structural integrity of the whole rig. One of them had a welder’s mask. Of course he was scared the sub might just fall as he was conducting crucial welds.
“The building is up to code so bringing down the building isn’t exactly subtle. Besides, it’s completely your style,” Nayuta interjected.
“I wasn’t thinking about that,” you muttered back.
“Fine we’ll go talk to the ‘capn,” one of the engineers said, “I’m sure he’ll appreciate how much time you’re wasting here.”
“I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t even get hazard pay.”
The two were talking about your target so if you wanted to ‘fix’ up one of the subs now was the time. It was also a good opportunity to see actually get eyes on the target since it would simply be too awkward and noticeable to ask around for the target now, especially with your get up. Nayuta was ready to back you up and make sure the security cameras weren’t paying too much attention to you.
>Get eyes on the target
You decided to get eyes on the target. Being alone with the submarines would seem too suspicious if anyone else saw you right now. Quickly, you followed after the two engineers. They came up to one of the university’s pools. From the stands, you got eyes on the target. Right now, he was instructing a group of divers on equipment inspection before a dive. As the two men came up, he broke off from the group to deal with them. Shortly, he walked out after the two engineers while he asked his students to take a break. They started to mill about near their own equipment, not paying any attention to anything but their own personal effects.
“Those new dive packs integrate tanks and tools in to one handy package,” Nayuta chimed in, “He’s probably instructing them on rigging them properly. How to make sure changed tanks are fit in nice and snug. Oh, there’s the gas tanks over to your left.”
True enough, there was a storage room filled with all kinds of gas tanks, helium, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. No carbon dioxide sadly but you supposed you would have to improvise in the chemical laboratory down the hall. There was an even a pump for the tanks nearby. With everyone distracted, switching tanks would be child’s play.
“Have you finally come up with something nii-chan? This diving class won’t last for too much longer. They’ll only manage one more dive before they start packing it up.”
“And what’s the next item on our target’s schedule?”
“With the way he’s hurrying back to teach, he’ll probably deal with the submarines afterwards. Don’t know how long that’ll take but eventually he should hit the locker room right?”
“Better than nothing,” you muttered.
You had a few plans already. The aforementioned lethal tank switch would be easily fatal and completely accidental. You would actually have to figure out how to procure some poison gas in the first place though. It was the same thing with submarine that was hooked up to a pump. If you could have it pump poisonous gas instead of the usual oxygen well then that would be tragic. That or you could drop a several dozen tonne minisub on top of him. It was more suspicious of course but if you were careful there would be no damning evidence. Getting him in the locker room was iffy but the most discrete method. That hinged on him actually being there though, since it seemed unlikely.
So, looks like you guys want to decide between a shocking twist in the locker room, and some switched out tanks. I'll roll for it if no one breaks the tie in the next five minutes, alright?
Filching a tank of oxygen and hydrogen gas and a tank pump was easy since you were already there. Moving to the lab, you were happy to find some sodium salts. One particular one that was of interest to you was a solution of sodium cyanide from which you could replace an oxygen tank with hydrogen cyanide. This wasn’t going to even be in the ppm range, this was going to be in the parts-per-thousand range and then you were going to switch the tanks. It was amazing how easy it was to synthesize in a lab, especially when you had an audio guide all the way through.
“Labs aren’t strictly controlled here are they?” you asked Nayuta.
“This one is a personal lab so even if the owner was cleared of charges, the accusation, and thus suspicion, will always remain on him,” your boss replied.
“All the better for me then huh?”
Nayuta didn’t reply. Moving the captured HCN in to the oxygen tank was child’s play and switching it as you walked past the target’s equipment was even easier. No one had saw you switch tanks since no one was even paying attention. You made it outside of the pool as you went to stash the stolen tank and get rid of your disguise. He had trusted his students to make sure the equipment was safe and went for a test dive while they hung about near the surface. Nayuta had captured your victim on camera as he struggled and finally breathed his last under water. He had even tore his mask off, drowning in water alone as his students remained unaware of his plight at the bottom of the 20 metre pool. It was when they realised that he hadn’t surfaced after they had nearly exhausted their oxygen supply did they attempt a quick dive down to find him.
The time is now morning, the weather is rainy, and the date is January 6.
You were reading the news, but most of the front page stuff was forgettable. The headline you were looking for was deceptively small.
“Dive team leader killed! Professional hit or human error?”
Well. Imagine that.
That's all I can manage tonight lads. Have to get up early in -XX degree weather. See you next week.
A favour. A silent assassin would have altered the helium mix. Are you off the hook? When writefag and /tg/ meet, the story begins.