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As Celeste’s eyes open, she sees a fancy ceiling above her. She knew she wasn’t at home anymore. Her whole body ached and she grimaced as she sat up. Search Engine crawled out from underneath the bed. As she looked around the room, she noticed several distinct decorations that made the room feel like a hotel. She sighed openly.

Celeste: Right, I had to be dragged here because of that freak.

The thoughts flowing back into her awakening mind. She remember Tabor forcing the fusion of the grimoire into her body, and for whatever reason her body had accepted it, with some minor complications, as she looked at it. She stood up and went to the mirror. She noticed her eyes had changed. The color was a golden yellow instead of her former blue. She noticed the four star mark just above her chest, right where the grimoire had been placed. She sighed openly once more.

Celeste: Damn, wish it was a dream.

Out of the corner of her eyes, she spots a fresh set of clothes. Shrugging at the convenience, and guessing there was a reason behind them. She quietly dressed herself. Blue military boots, medium length blue skirt and a little long for her black shirt. On top of that, she wore the blue military jacket. As she looked again in the mirror, she didn’t seem to like the outfit, but if it needed to be worn…

Celeste: Least I look alright, right Search?

The fox yips in response. Celeste opens the door, and sees no one in the hallway. The two quietly exit the room, and begin to roam the hallways. The hallways, much like the room, certainly gave off a sense of extravagance, that someone had too much money to spend. It made sense to her however.

Celeste: (to herself) We are talking about the richest man in the duodecim here.

From behind, Kagura sneaks up to greet her now that she had awoken.

Kagura: Good morning, I take it you’ve rested rather well..??

Celeste turns around, knowing the voice, and Kagura is immediately struck by the eyes. He too had taken noticed of the color change.

Celeste: I slept fine, thanks.

Kagura: Hopefully you’re feeling better.. (*to himself*) those eyes...they were blue before the fusion… is this just some sort of effect of that grimoire?

Celeste: If I were still in excruciating pain, do you think I’d be up?

Kagura: You make a compelling argument..

Celeste: Anyhow, any sign of the freak that did this to me?

Kagura: Nothing yet, unfortunately.. But that’s definitely my priority.

Celeste: I assume the military uniform was your doing?

Kagura: It wasn’t mine.. It was more Hibiki’s idea, it’s a dress code people have to follow on premises no matter what.

Celeste: It’ll do for now until I can get some clothes from home. Now then, there are a few other questions I have to ask you.

Kagura: Shoot. I’m all ears.

Celeste: First off, when the two you first arrived. The initial plan wasn’t to hire me for my skills, it was to protect me from him, wasn’t it?

Kagura: I would’ve told you outright, but we didn’t want you to mistake us for breathing down your neck..

Celeste: (Sarcastically) Yeah, because I totally didn’t get that impression from you. Honestly, what kind of guy are you? Talking about girls like that. You have no idea what the term ‘sensitivity’ means, do you? And I’m not surprised the only person who’d hang around you is Hibiki, the way you look at women.

Kagura: I’ll be honest that was...a bit out of character for me.. Though to be perfectly honest you’ve got no idea what Hibiki is capable of.. And given his position I’d have no one else in his place… Sure he’s a bit… strict, but he’s well intentioned. (to himself) though thanks to me being a jackass I’m down to just water.

Celeste: Obviously whoever was the right hand of the leader of the duodecim could take care of himself. That wasn’t my point. I just have a lot of anger right now, and you’re the easiest one to take it out on, especially because you even went so far as that.

Kagura: Well I’ll be honest I probably deserve all the hate anyone who’s against the government can throw at me. I’m not exactly an ‘ideal’ leader, but given the only other two I can think of are not exactly able to take my position we’re left without much a choice…

Celeste: The hell are you talking about? I have no qualms about your leadership.

Kagura: I’m talking about the fact there are a bit of people like you that resent the government, but seeing you I think you might have the most out of everyone, and I’m doing my damnedest to try and fix that… Besides it’s not like people have dreams of being an ideal leader…

Celeste: Yeah, good luck with that, there’s nothing you can just ‘fix’ about my general dislike slash hatred of the government as a whole.

Kagura: I’m not expecting to fix it.. That’d be more Kokonoe’s sort of thing anyways, and even then programming emotions probably isn’t her thing. I could give a rats ass what people think of me, but I usurped the former imperator to restore it to the rightful heir and so far I’ve only been lucky enough to try and reform some of the Duodecim.

Celeste: First, that’s incredibly creepy you went there first. Second, I don’t need to hear your life story about how you took the reins after some crazy crap.

Kagura: well I’d be waiting for your next question but you haven’t done jack to actually get it out, you said you had questions and you only got one answer so far.

Celeste sighs.

Celeste: Was the weather malfunction that caused the floods in the lower levels of kagutsuchi seventeen years ago preventable?

Kagura: I still don’t know for sure, and we still haven’t gotten an answer how it malfunctioned. I tried patching a line through to the region but I didn’t get much info aside panicked cries for assistance.

Celeste openly sighs again.

Celeste: (inwardly, depressed) Gee, why did I think the leader of the duodecim would have some sort of answer that would put my mind at ease. (Returns to talking to Kagura) I have nothing further to talk to you about.

Kagura: very well then.. I’m..sorry if I couldn’t exactly help you, not that I expect forgiveness…

Celeste: Nor will you get it. Now, please leave me alone.

Celeste walks down a different hallway to try and avoid speaking further to Kagura.

Kagura: .. (to himself) Hopefully that kaka should be glad to hear we got to her in time..but how are we going to explain that tabor fused her to the grimoire..?

Hibiki: I take it from your standing there that our guest has awoken.

Hibiki had appeared out of nowhere to speak to Kagura.

Kagura: Yeah.. She asked me a few questions about Tabor and about that flood… Unfortunately she wasn’t exactly happy with either answer, not that I could blame her.

Hibiki: We can’t expect her to change in one day. We will just have to work through things gradually. All we can do now is support her in her endeavours. In the meantime, I have two things that I wanted to speak to you about. One that I think will cheer our guest up, and the other dealing with a certain cat beastkin.

Kagura: I’m all ears. Go right ahead…

Hibiki: First of all, as you recall, that room is still a mess and hasn’t been dealt with since Kokonoe used it for all her dealings. While Kokonoe took everything of importance with her, I do believe that room would be good for the young guest to use so she can work in peace.

Kagura: Right, I almost forgot there was that elevator too… That’d definitely be of use for her projects.. It should be big enough to house whatever remnants of her work at that garage were there.. Now what’s the second matter?

Hibiki: I fear you’re overestimating Celeste’s abilities as an engineer if you’re expecting anything along the lines of what Kokonoe does. Speaking of Kokonoe, that was the second matter, she is waiting to speak with you, via her usual means of communication.

Kagura, for a split moment cringed in slight fear, before shaking his head,

Kagura: Well, nonetheless… I’m sure celeste doesn’t do anything as crazy as Kokonoe ever did, then again there was the red devil… But anyways, I’ll gladly speak with her as soon as possible.

Hibiki and Kagura return to Kagura’s room, where Kokonoe, calling via transmission, sits in her office in Sector Seven.

Kokonoe: Yo, Kagura, heard a rumor you managed to snag a grimoire.

Kagura: You could say that, yes.. I’m sure you’re calling to see if I know any of the details on what exactly the grimoire ‘is’ I suppose?

Kokonoe: The thought had crossed my mind, but no. I want to know where that annoying Relius lookalike went. And you have the direct relation to that.

Kagura: Ah, so you’re more interested in finding Tabor, well unfortunately he got away just as we managed to find the situation at hand. All I can say is he’s still got a doll with him to further the whole look-a-like sort of thing. I’m still surprised even with the real deal being gone that we still got guys like him trying to replicate his bullshit.

Kokonoe: If you’re talking about the detonators, then I call bullshit. Those were all taken care of afterwards. Any detonator that didn’t belong to me was also handled in a certain way. So the only logical explanation is that it's a fully automated robot, disguised as a detonator.

Kagura: I can understand that logic, that thing looks like a detonator but that is definitely a possible theory. Not that it makes our position any better, he’s gonna come knocking at my sector’s collective doorstep and retrieve her in the near future. I don’t want that to happen to her.

Kokonoe: She’s an engineer right, probably get her to work on finding a way to defend herself then. Because I get the feeling she doesn’t want to be around you all the time, and who can blame her?

Kagura: I know, I know.. Government people rub her the wrong way.. Unless that’s a personal jab at yours truly, then I also understand that.. All I can tell you is she’s working on some sort of hand cannon.. I dunno if it’s a prototype or what but the name she gave it is a bit cheesy.

Kokonoe: Little of both. But it never hurts taking your ego down a notch. As for her work, I’m curious to see what she comes up with, but don’t waste my time. If it’s nothing important, don’t bother me with it, got it?

Kagura: Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’d likely be a bit pissed when it also comes to showing you her work, because she’s not exactly a fan of Sector Seven either… Or the local police force. But yeah, if there’s anything worth promise I’ll be sure to grab you for it.

Kokonoe: You really don’t know a damn thing about her, do you? Her parents are some of the most genius engineers out there. Sector Seven and the government have been trying to recruit them for years for their brilliant understanding of certain complexities that your brain can’t understand. You’ve tapped into a potential gold mine of intelligence, don’t you dare squander it.

Kagura: I’m going to be sure of that.. And given we still haven’t cleaned up your space from during our rebellion against the imperator, we’re going to have to lend it to her if that’s alright with you.. (*to himself*) still kinda pissed about that by the way.

Kokonoe: I took everything of importance out of there anyway, I don’t give a damn if she uses it.

Kagura: yeah, Hibiki already told me that… Good to see you’re okay with that then.

Kokonoe: Now I have other matters to attend to.

The connection ceases as Kokonoe turns it off.

Kagura: All right… So now that’s out of the way… Should we tell her about the space she could use, or are we going to wait on that?

Meanwhile, Celeste was still walking around random hallways. Not sure what to do next, she simply continues walking down the elaborate hallways. Thoughts of better times begin to pass through her mind, and she recalls two friends from the past…

A loud ringing can be heard through the hallways. A young girl runs.

???: No...no...I can’t be late! Not on the first day!

At that very moment, a second girl comes from across the other hallway. Celeste, not looking much different at twelve than she was now, was wearing the female school uniform, a short black skirt, white collared shirt, and a black vest over it with the school symbol embroidered on the right.

Young Celeste: Stupid alarm clock! Why do I always break that stupid thing?! Couldn’t dad have fixed it?!

Within seconds, the two girls crash outside the entryway of the door to the classroom, and collapse to the floor. Celeste sits up and groans.

Young Celeste: Owwww, huh? Oh I’m so sorry!

The other girl sits up wearing the same exact school uniform. She had long green hair and brown eyes, stares back at Celeste, also groaning.

???: No its my fault too! I’m sorry.

The two girls gathering their materials, school supplies such as pen and paper, from off the ground, before looking at each other before both realizing they were late, open the door and rush in. A male professor, standing at the front of the class, looks their way. He had short brown hair, black dress pants and shoes, and a white collared shirt. He wore black-rimmed glasses. He reaches down for a clipboard with a piece of paper on it as he begins to talk to them.

???: Oh, good, the two we were missing. I assume one of you is Celeste?

Young Celeste: Yes, sir, sorry…

???: And the other one is Nichole?

The girl with green hair speaks up.

Nichole: Yes sir, that’s me. Sorry…

Roger: Honestly, you two need to be on time, since its the first day, I’ll let this slide. As I was just explaining to the class, I am Professor Roger Norton. Please take your seats.

Nichole & Young Celeste: Yes sir.

The two take the two back seats in the back left corner. Whispering, they talk to each other.

Young Celeste: Nice to meet you Nichole, sorry for making you later.

Nichole: Not your fault. We were both late as it is.

They both snicker at the thought as the class begins. A few hours later, lunch had come. The two of them walk into the cafeteria.

Nichole: So you just moved here huh?

Young Celeste: Yeah, my mom and dad are travelling engineers, so they can pretty much live anywhere.

They each grab a tray and begin grabbing plates of food as they go by each little station. Nichole grabs more vegetables, while Celeste grabs more meat and milk. They find a small circular table to sit at.

Nichole: Either way, must be nice to know someone on your first day. I’ve been the new kid, and that can really suck.

Two other kids sit at the table. One boy, one girl.

Nichole: Oh hi guys! Celeste, these are the other two friends I know. The guy is Logan. The girl is Grace.

Celeste gets a good look at them. The guy wore the usual boy’s uniform, the only difference being black dress slacks as opposed to the skirt. He had short blonde hair and green eyes. The girl wore a longer skirt than Celeste and Nichole. She wore silver-rimmed glasses and her blue eyes shone from behind them. She had long black hair that had been fashioned into a long ponytail behind her. Even with it tied that way, the ponytail still came down in front of her shoulder, and reached down to her chest. Logan speaks first, in a confident and brash tone.

Logan: So you’re the new girl, huh? Nice to meet you. Welcome to the school. We’re probably one of the few normal schools left.

Celeste looks at him funny.

Young Celeste: Normal?

Nichole: What Logan means is that we’re one of few schools left that educate teach people without any ars magus proficiency. So basically we’re not like any of the ‘super-power’ schools as we call them.

Young Celeste: Oh…

Logan nudges Grace.

Logan: C’mon Grace. Speak up.

The girl composes herself, but she speaks so quietly Celeste can barely hear her.

Young Celeste: I’m sorry? I couldn’t hear you.

Grace speaks again, but Celeste still couldn’t hear her. Nichole sighs.

Nichole: Sorry, Grace is shy around new people. Grace, you’re going to have to speak up if you want other to people to hear you.

Grace composing herself again, tries to speak up, but Celeste can just barely make out what she was saying.

Grace: Hello...I like your hair...

Young Celeste: Hello, thanks, I dyed it blue myself. I like yours too.

Grace smiles.

Logan: Look at that, you got the elusive smile out of little miss quiet.

Grace returns to her normal look, then mutters quietly.

Grace: I can be happy too.

Young Celeste: Don’t worry Grace, I think you look very pretty.

Grace: Thanks…

Nichole: You wouldn’t know it by the way she acts, but Grace over there is the daughter of a very prestigious family. But despite all that, she hangs out with us.

Grace: I’m not interested in money…

Young Celeste: Oh? What family is that?

Celeste takes a sip of her milk.

Nichole: Ever heard of the Von Bastion family?

Celeste almost chokes on her milk.

Nichole: Take that as a yes.

Young Celeste: You’re from the Von Bastion family?

Grace: (sighs) Yes.

Nichole: One of the few families that got left out of the Duodecim, but rich enough and prestigious enough to be in it.

Logan: The only drawback being no one in the family has any proficiency for fighting or any ars magus training.

Grace: I don’t like fighting…

Young Celeste: That’s okay Grace.

The four continue eating their food, and Celeste returns her mind to where she currently was, at the dead-end of a hallway, where only a window looked out into the world outside of the building. She recalls that the four of them spent a full year together, after that, Nichole moved away. Grace’s father pulled her out of school to pursue taking over the family name, and no one saw or heard from Logan after that.

Celeste: Just like that, that friendship fell apart so quickly. I wish I knew what they were all doing. I didn’t get Nichole’s address, never visited Grace, and Logan vanished without a trace. Do you think they’re all doing okay, Search?

Search yips back in response.

Celeste: Yeah. I gotta believe they went on to really big things…

Celeste turns back around and she reaches the first intersecting hallway.

???: Are you finding everything alright, Miss Celeste?

Celeste quickly turns around, freaked out. She finds Hibiki standing there. Despite having heard no one around her as she had been walking, there he was.

Celeste: About to give me a heart attack...are you always that quiet?

Hibiki: Lord Kagura has instructed me to show you to your working quarters. Please follow me.

Celeste: (Sarcastically) Great…

It takes all of about fifteen minutes going from hallway to hallway, only for them to return to the room opposite where Celeste had been sleeping. Hibiki opens the door using a special key, walks in and turns on a light with Celeste and Search right behind him. Celeste’s eyes go wide as she sees the robotic equipment all around her.

Hibiki: Kokonoe was here before, she has given you her permission to use whatever you want that remains here.

Celeste: There’s a plethora of equipment here to really upgrade the Celeste Special…

Hibiki: If that is what you wish, I was not given instruction to have you work on anything. We look forward to what you will create.

With that, Hibiki leaves the room leaving Celeste to stare in awe.

Celeste: Kokonoe, huh? If I recall correctly, she works for Sector Seven.

Search barks in response. Celeste look down, with a smile, at Search, and then back to the equipment.

Celeste: (smiling) Yeah, I get it. We have work to do.


On the next episode:

Celeste: There's plenty to be done besides upgrading the Celeste Special, and one of the plans is to see if I can't figure out a way to harness the grimoire that's been stuck inside me, but doing that is going to be hard without some special equipment. But if I really want the Celeste Special to pack a punch, I'm going to have to do that. Next Episode: Gear A5: Get to Work! I'm going to put everything I have into creating my special weapon to protect myself from people like that freak!

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