With the sun already in the high noon position, Celeste stops work on her Celeste special. Being both lazy and ‘efficient’, she had been wearing the same clothes as yesterday. There were still a few days before the parts for the toaster would be in, and she’d be focusing on that when they came in. Search Engine simply perks his head up into the air from his position underneath the workbench. As he had been lying there most of the morning, he was interested to see what Celeste was doing. Celeste yawns loudly.
Celeste: Geez, time flies when you’re working on stuff.
As if on cue, the door to the garage opens, and two men walk in. The older man yells out into the garage.
Kagura: Hello? Anyone around??
Search Engine growls at the voice. Celeste seemed intrigued. This wasn’t a voice she had heard before.
Celeste: (Thinking) Whoever that was, they aren’t from here.
Celeste gets up from her workbench and openly sighs. She closes her eyes and puts her hands behind the back of her head, interlocking her fingers as she does so. She walks over to the kiosk.
Celeste: Look, whoever you are, if you can’t read the sign out there, you aren’t worth my time. The sign says closed. I’m not taking customers this week.
Kagura: Who said we were customers?
Celeste opens one eye to see who was standing in front of her. It was only then who she realized who she was dealing with.
Celeste: (Thinking) Oh god, not this creep.
Celeste lets her hands fall to her sides and places one arm, vertically, on the kiosk, and places her chin in her hand as she leans on the kiosk. Without so much as responding to Kagura’s previous question, she utters her response.
Celeste: Get. Out.
Kagura: Aren’t you going to hear us out? (to himself) she wasn’t kidding when she said she was adverse against the government
Kagura: Do you even know why I’m here?
Celeste: Do you even know why I don’t care?
Kagura: Do you even know who I am?
Celeste: Kagura Mutsuki, also known as the Black Knight, also known as part of the duodecim, also known as yes, I do know who you are.
Kagura: ...Good to see I still have a slight reputation.
Celeste: Now, get out.
Kagura: You make it sound like I’m a landlord at this point.
Celeste: You do know my family, do you not? Or do I have to educate you on that much?
Kagura, almost at an instant, let a hand raise to the hilt of his rather rectangular sword.
Kagura: I’m well aware your family, yourself included, is rather adverse to the government, but I’m not here for anything on government matters if it really means to you that much on my intentions…
Celeste, with no noticeable change in voice or expression, still wearing her scowl, replies.
Celeste: I’m so glad you told me that, because now that changes everything. Let me rephrase. *ahem* Get. Out. Now.
Kagura: … (turns to Hibiki) I can tell we’re not winning this conversation… She’s definitely a bit defiant to our words to the point we can’t even explain ourselves...
Hibiki: We were expecting that, Lord Kagura, simply try to explain why you’re here.
Kagura: right.. (to Celeste) So… we’re here to hire you.
Celeste seemed surprised at his response. Had she not been clear?
Celeste: Are you brain dead, deaf, or were you simply not listening? I’m not for hire by the government.
Kagura: chalk me up for brain dead, because I’m not giving up until you do take the offer I’m trying to give you… Also a bit drunk but to be perfectly honest I only had three drinks.
Celeste: (Thinking) This is what I was afraid of. (To Kagura) Look, I’m not interested in any offer you can make me. I have absolutely zero interest in working for the government. My family made that completely clear to the NOL, MOR, Sector Seven, and any other group that came calling. Do you get the picture? Or do I have to tell you again?
Kagura: (quickly tightens the grip on his hilt) Clearly you’re not seeing the entire idea, the highest ranking duodecim member is hiring a grease monkey like you. To be perfectly honest I’m one second away from slashing that anti-sentimental boundary you have against the government in two clean perfect halves. I am not leaving with ‘no’ for an answer, miss..
Celeste: Oh I’m so sorry. But this ‘grease monkey’ prefers to be called by her name, and its no surprise that you, the highest ranking duodecim member, would prefer to treat me like a thing rather than a woman who you ‘want’ to hire. So now I’m not telling you anymore, Mr. Duodecim, I’m ordering you. Get out of my garage. I have no interest in working with you, for you, above you, below you, around you, or anywhere near you. And for all I care, you can just stand there until your legs give out.
With that, Celeste removes her arm, turns away from the kiosk, and walks away, intent on returning to her workbench.
Kagura: ...Tch. (lets go of the sword hilt) She won’t go down without a fight, but mark my words I’m not giving up on her just yet.
As Celeste sits at her workbench, she sighs loudly.
Celeste: Can you believe the nerve of some people, Search? Talking to me like I’m some piece of equipment he could buy at a store.
Celeste grabs her goggles off her workbench and places them around her neck and goes back to work. What she didn’t know, was that Kagura had snuck up behind her and was seeing what she was building, despite the fact that she had gone into full work mode. With Search Engine simply just watching, and not sure what to make of the whole thing.
Kagura: ...So, what exactly are you building..?
Celeste: Its called the Celeste Special and I’m…
Celeste takes note of the voice and turns around. She takes her goggles off. Now she was mad.
Celeste: Okay, Mr. Duodecim, do you know just how much of a line you’ve crossed? Or do I have to break this stool I’m sitting on over your head for you to understand?
Kagura: I’m pretty sure if there was a line many a person might’ve beaten me to the crossing. But I’ve had my fair share of wooden stools to the head.. Just tell it to Kokonoe.
Celeste: Oh good, I’m so glad you have a point of reference, when I crack your empty head open with my metal stool.
She stands up and grabs the stool.
Celeste: You are invading private property. Get the hell out.
Kagura swiftly readies his Zweihander, despite a few cracks, it still seemed rather durable.
Kagura: Hit me.
Celeste openly sighs again. Obviously, this person didn’t have a lick of sense. She sets the stool down and sits back on it.
Celeste: What kinda lunatic draws a weapon on someone, when they have clearly invaded their public property, do you have no idea what the definition of boundaries mean? Or are you stupider than I give you credit for?
Kagura: If I can object, you said earlier this was private property, why is it suddenly public now? Also if you were gonna hit me over the head with a metal chair, I was obliged to defend myself from my attacker.
Celeste: It is public property, to me. It is private property, to you. And the only one who’s the attacker and harasser for that matter, is you, because I did not invite you in, and you let yourself in without permission. So you are hereby trespassing, and thus I have a right to defend myself from someone who clearly doesn’t understand the word ‘no’. Thus, I have the right to defend myself.
Kagura: Oh and that makes it completely different. You’re lucky I’m not a cop, even with the current head being… a well intentioned piece of work, I’m sure he wouldn’t know of the few kinds of cops that’d use unofficial warrants without the due process. And given I myself had garbage collectors breathing down my neck for a time. Trust me you’ve no idea what kind of trespassing I’ve dealt with.
Celeste openly sighs again and holds her head in her right hand. Obviously, reason wasn’t going to work with this man. Celeste: What is it going to take to get rid of you so I can back to peace and quiet?
Kagura: I dunno...maybe listening to my job offer? A drink?? ...A dance?
Celeste: None of that is going to happen.
Kagura: I’m not leaving until you listen. Besides I’m pretty sure if Hibiki were in my position he’d have an even easier time trying to get you to listen.
Celeste: If you’re referring to the person who is still standing behind the counter, and respecting my private space, then probably yes. But the answer would still be no, and its even more no now because you don’t understand how to leave. me. alone.
Kagura: This coming from one who closes themselves off and sticking to just working inside all day. Do you ever go out anymore?
Celeste, openly growling now, responds.
Celeste: Come again, jerk?
Kagura: I said, ‘This coming from the one who closes themselves off and sticking to just working inside all day’... or were you thinking of the ‘do you even go out anymore’ part?
Celeste: Do you know the definition of shutting up? Or does your brain not get oxygen? I’m warning you right now, you’re on very thin ice.
Kagura: and yet I’m still skating, Jinny would make thinner ice than this, and especially a bit thinner than you.. You’re just like the professor.
Celeste: And just what do you mean by that, asshole?
Kagura: personality, skinny...kind of a lanky frame..all ya need is ears and a cat tail and the red devil!
Celeste: Say one more word about my body and you’ll regret it, are we understood? You’ll be forced to stay here because I’ll have to build a goddamn wheelchair for you to get around anymore. Am I understood? Or do you want to tempt goddamn fate?
Kagura: I’ve done it before and I’m gonna do it again….
With a slight smirk, Kagura quickly played his final trump card.
Kagura: You’re flat as a cutting board…!
Celeste’s face turns bright red. She grabs the Celeste special off the workbench.
Celeste: GET. OUT.
The weapon charges up and fires a shot at Kagura. Her right arm flails above her head due to recoil. The shot barely misses him.
Kagura: ..! I’m not gonna give up on you yet, grease monkey! I’m sure we’ll run into each other again!
After a quick moment of slight taunting, the black knight swiftly makes his exit, internally bracing himself for whatever might be aimed it him from Hibiki.
Kagura: ..that went rather nicely.
Hibiki appears next to him, somehow knowing where Kagura would arrive at.
Hibiki: You lost your tequila. In fact, I will be removing all alcohol from the budget. Now come, Lord Kagura, we must find a place to wait until she cools down.
With that, Hibiki turns and begins to head down the hill. Kagura, after a moment of defeat followed after him.
Kagura: .. (to himself) figures, I suppose. Maybe I can get away with it on my own budget and not the government’s.
Hibiki: If you so much as order a bottle with any money, I’ll pour it down the sink in front of you.
Kagura slightly stiffens up in faux pain.
Kagura: ... (to himself) there goes plan B…
Hibiki: With all your gallivanting, I did manage to do one thing. I noticed an odd mechanism up in the ceiling of the garage.
Kagura: What did you find? And with whatever it might be, why would she hide it in the ceiling? I mean sure she has that..Celeste Special of hers, as kind of egotistic as it is namewise… What would she have up there?
Hibiki: I don’t think she’s noticed it, and I don’t think it belongs to her.
Kagura: So even she doesn’t know… Well do you have an idea what it looks like? Or was it too dark for a visual?
Hibiki opens up his book, and shows it to Kagura, what looked like a very small relius mask that had a very faint light on the top of it.
Kagura: ...Isn’t that what I think it is??
Hibiki: I believe that Kaka clan member was correct in her assumption that this young woman would be the next target.
Kagura: So that’s Tabor’s probable telltale sign I’m guessing. Because I honestly dunno why that mask has a light.. Unless that’s some sort of tracking beacon.
Hibiki: I believe you are not far off in your assumption, Lord Kagura. Tabor has his sights set on this girl, as to when he intends to strike, that is now the question.
Kagura: Yeah, we can’t idly speculate on the matter of when… I guess we’ll know when substantial time has passed and she probably also ends up as a corrupted.
Hibiki: Lord Kagura, we can’t just simply leave the city knowing that Tabor intends to use her as a test subject. We must remain here, going back every so often to check on her.
Kagura: I was planning on staying in the city, but after seeing that weapon of hers… I don’t think I’m gonna sleep so well over the next few nights… Then again I kinda brought that on myself.
Hibiki: In ten minutes, we will return to the garage, to check on her, and we will do so until we convince her to come with us, otherwise, Tabor might get to her before we do. And I do not believe that the Kaka clan member would be too happy with us if we let her become a ‘Corrupted’ as this girl was someone she personally saved once before.
Kagura: right… That’s someone who’d dearly miss her that’s for sure. But I do have a question.. What do we do if in the event we cross paths with Tabor before he decides to attack her?
Hibiki: An obvious answer awaits you.
Kagura: okay fair point. But given I haven’t really fought this man much personally we never know what we’ll be up against.
Kagura and Hibiki begin to walk around the city in order to waste a little time before going back to check on Celeste. Meanwhile, Celeste was fuming.
Celeste: Goddamn Asshole! Talking about a woman’s body like that! Has he no goddamn shame?! I want to tear his stupid head off!
Search Engine stays underneath the bench, with his paws over his muzzle.
???: Is this a bad time?
Celeste turns around and see a man standing there.
Celeste: Yes, it is, and who in the hell are you?
Tabor: Forgive me, my name is Tabor.
The man wore a black cape behind him, black pants and boots, and a red button down shirt tucked in. He wears a brown belt around his waist. A silver mask sits on his face.
Celeste: Get the hell out of my home.
Tabor: Don’t I even get a say?
Celeste: I said get out.
Tabor: I see. I guess I’ll have to do this the hard way then.
Coming through the roof, a green robot bursts through. Celeste immediately noticed what kind of machine it was. Her pupils shrink as she stares at it. The outfit it wore was green with a headdress to match it.
Celeste: A Detonator?!
Tabor: Oh, you have more knowledge than I thought…
Celeste: Who are you running around with such technology?!
Tabor: Oh, I can’t tell you that much. The only thing I need you to do is be a willing guinea pig for my experiment.
Celeste: Like Hell!
Celeste reaches for her weapon, but the detonator moves again, throwing her arm into Celeste and throwing her against the wall a few feet above the ground. Celeste peels off the wall she made an imprint on, and hits the cement floor hard. Her body was calling out to her. Run. Get away. But she could barely move.
Tabor: Now then, don’t be so impulsive.
Celeste: Gah...damn...what are…
Tabor: Oh dear, you can barely talk, can you?
Tabor pulls out a glowing orb of energy. Yellow in color, it sparked and crackled. It wasn’t big, but it was enough to fill Tabor’s hand.
Tabor: See, I’m going to insert this into your body.
Celeste face gives her away. Her eyes grow wide and her pupils shrink again.
Celeste: The hell...is that…?
Tabor: It’s going to become your world. You’re going to learn what a grimoire is. But if it doesn’t fuse...well, no sense going into details, you’ll just be a shell of your former self.
The detonator grabs her and restrains her within her arms. Her body was already sore from being thrown against the wall, there’s no way she’d have the strength to escape its clutches
Celeste: No...stay away!
Tabor: Don’t worry, it’ll only hurt a little bit.
Celeste: No...Stop...GET AWAY….NOOOOOOOOOO!
Meanwhile, with some time having passed, Kagura and Hibiki were walking back up the hill that led to the Garage.
Kagura: ...Before you grab the metaphorical newspaper, don’t worry I won’t be as braindead as I was last time…
Hibiki: What are you doing, Lord Kagura?
Kagura: I’m going to try and be smart about this.
Hibiki: I think it would be wise to leave the talking to me this time around.
Kagura: well given how well I handled it, I bet you could do something a bit less bizarre… Let me know how well it goes when you’re done.
As they draw closer, they can hear audible feminine screams coming from the direction of the garage.
Hibiki: Lord Kagura!
Kagura: Don’t tell me he beat us to her. (quickly grabbing for his Zweihander) Do we have a plan of attack? Because again I don’t think rushing blindly is my best bet!
As they reach the top of the hill, Tabor stands just outside the front door of the garage. Audible screams still easily heard being louder as they were closer to the source.
Tabor: Greetings, Black Knight.
Kagura: And greetings to you too masked freak #2… Why the hell are you here?
Tabor: I’m sure that Kaka clan member told you as much as you needed to know. I’m creating a grimoire, and like any good grimoire, I have to get souls to create a very powerful one.
Kagura: So that explains why the corrupted are as they are… That grimoire of yours probably absorbs that soul. But why are you targeting this girl?
Tabor: Does it really matter? The data showed her as a good test subject. And if my data is correct, she’ll merge with the grimoire.
Kagura: Well if that’s the case then you’ll probably use my future employee for more harm than good. Why are you aiming to create this grimoire of yours anyways?
Tabor: If I told you everything, it would hardly be as entertaining a stage show. As for now, I must go Black Knight. Keep the grimoire safe until I return to reclaim her.
A doll similar to what Relius used appears next to him. It was coated in a green color as opposed to Magenta.
Kagura: ! Wait, what do you mean by ‘keep it safe’?! And is that another detonator?!
With a snap of his fingers, Tabor and the new ‘detonator’ vanish in the blink of an eye. Tabor seemingly had no interest in fighting Kagura, but he had just left a mess for him to clean up.
Hibiki: Lord Kagura, worry about details later!
Kagura: Right.. task at hand. Let’s just hope that grimoire doesn’t make her end up as a corrupted… Even if that masked assclown said she’d merge with it.
Kagura bursts through the door to find the bolts of lightning surging everywhere, the garage was in total disarray as broken pieces of machinery lay everywhere in the garage, even the weapon that Celeste had used against Kagura was broken in half. The workbench was utterly destroyed. The kitchen area had been completely trashed with the refrigerator lying on the ground and broken counter wood pieces had been thrown into the wall piercing it on impact. The fox had jumped over to the other side of the kiosk and turned to look at Kagura and Hibiki as they entered. The fox yipped at Kagura and then pointed its muzzle at Celeste, who was suspended in mid-air between the garage and the kiosk, lightning surging around her like conduits. Screams pierced the air as it felt like her body was being torn apart.
Kagura: So you want us to help her?? Well given the situation, I’m going for it.. Though I’m probably risking a lot given what’s happening.. But I’m a risk taker.
The fox simply laid down and put its paws on its muzzle, unsure of what to do.
Kagura: ...Hibiki, is there a clear path that I can use to get to her??
Hibiki quickly scans the area, and notices that some loose pieces of broken wood were slowly beginning to be pulled towards her like a magnetic field.
Hibiki: There, Lord Kagura, do you see it? The wood pieces. They’re beginning to drift towards her!
Kagura: so I can use those then… given wood isn’t a conductor and all.. I’ll have to be careful though..
Kagura, taking a few steps back, quickly took his running start, jumping toward the wooden boards, closing his eyes, right foot out, hoping to land on the slowly drifting wood. He successfully lands on the first one. He takes notice of each piece of wood having some sort of metal on it. A metal handle or a metal doorknob were easily noticeable. The wood was just ripped together with it as the force of the pull was so strong it ripped any metal off its hinges and pulled with it whatever it took with it.
Kagura: that might be why… Well no time to lose, this at least grants me a safe passage.
Kagura quickly took his chance and took his time crossing the path nearly taking a few missteps along the way but nothing major to break his balance as he had gotten closer. He soon stepped on a piece that was being pulled ever closer to Celeste’s body. With himself in striking distance, now he needed to come up with an idea that would stop what was happening to Celeste. Otherwise, who knew what could happen.
Kagura: (to himself) ...I don’t take pride in harming women… but given the situation I might have to. Then again she did strike first with that hand cannon of hers…
Kagura shrugged, and with slight hesitation, raised his Zweihander and quickly struck Celeste with a sideward slash. The attack wasn’t enough as it simply distracted her for a moment causing the field to weaken as it began to drift downward. It would require more physicality.
Kagura: … (sighs) alright, attempt #2!
Quickly, with no hesitation, Kagura quickly struck with an overhead sword strike. The field broke completely causing the gravity to restore itself. Celeste, completely knocked out, had no control over her falling body. Kagura and Celeste began to fall toward the cement floor waiting for them.
Kagura: ...Hello cement. And goodbye my tequila..
Kagura quickly tried to push his momentum to try and land under Celeste so she wouldn’t land hard on the cement. Having been already underneath her due to the overhead strike, he used his Zweihander as a pole vault, landing safely underneath Celeste, catching her before she hit the ground, safely keeping her from breaking anything. He did have to place her immediately on the ground, due to her continuously, unknowingly, shocking him due to the electricity that seemed to spark off of her body. The metal all around them had clanged to the ground simultaneously with loud thuds. With the area now secured, the Fox and Hibiki hurry over to Kagura and Celeste. The fox simply lies next to Celeste, while Hibiki stands next to Kagura.
Hibiki: Are you well, Lord Kagura?
Kagura: ...Aside the erm..unorthodox method I had to do to end the crazy magnet-like display..I should be… But she was shocking me a bit before I set her down… I guess that’s the effect of the grimoire I suppose.
Even as her unconscious body lied there, simultaneous streaks of lightning would escape into the sky away from her. Kagura took note of where the strike was coming from. Below her neck, and above her chest, there was a four-sided star scar that looked to have been recently made.
Kagura: ..Well Tabor was right about the fusion… I’m not sure if she’ll believe me if she ever comes to and is...positively shocked seeing that we helped her...well..more specifically me given what happened.
Hibiki: I believe it would be wise to be forthright with her as she awakes.
Kagura: noted.. Should we wait for her to wake up? Because this girl doesn’t seem like she slept on a bed for a while…
Hibiki: There’s no telling how long she’ll be asleep for, considering her body was forced to fuse with a grimoire, or how quick her body will be to accept it, if at all.
Before they can talk further, Celeste begins to stir, and Search Engine yips at her. Celeste opens only her left eye, barely. Her entire body was still in pain due to the constant electricity surging through her system. She couldn’t even move because it felt to her like she had been paralyzed.
Celeste: Not...so damn loud...Search…
Kagura: … (to himself) she’s tough as nails...but still a forced grimoire fusion must’ve felt painful…
Celeste takes notice of Kagura and Hibiki standing over her.
Celeste: Did it...have to...be you?
Kagura: Hey, we’re not giving up on hiring you...we just happened to see what had happened and decided to help you… I don’t expect thanks or forgiveness for earlier.
Kagura slightly took two steps back, given the electricity still sparking.
Kagura: Though given what I’ve seen you have two options… Either, you can join me, and under my employ I’ll gladly give you any funding that you require… Or… given your uh..newfound ‘abilities’... I will have to order you under my care as you are possibly going to become a threat to the society as a whole… What’s your choice, Celeste…?
Celeste: Really...twisting...my arm...aren’t you...pervert…
Kagura: no, just making sure you know that in either situation, you’re stuck with me. Also to be perfectly honest, as much as a pervert I possibly could be...I’d never strike a woman unless I absolutely had to.
Celeste: Don’t...exactly have...a choice here...do I?
Kagura: pretty much, but in the first choice’s case, you’ll probably have handsome pay… That and you probably will have a nice warm bed, given this place, after your mini-electrical storm has almost gone out of commission.
Celeste: Fine...I accept...your terms.
On the next episode:
Celeste: What a mess...I get fused with a grimoire, and now I find myself in the Mutsuki mansion the unwanted employee of a jackass. Could this get any worse? Hey, wait, there's a room full of eningeering equipment, and since I have nothing better to do, might as well go to work... Next episode: Gear A4: Broken Gear. If I'm going to be stuck here, might as well make the best of it.