Volume 10, Interlude C: Mop-Up Duty

Mirei sensed the arrival of someone. Her allies noticed too, shifting their attention away from the heroes. The orange-haired woman walked through the facility entrance door, clapping with excitement.

“An excellent execution. You all get a passing grade. Be proud of how far you have come,” the woman complimented, walking toward Tess.

“It’s you,” the Gatekeeper said, coughing out blood.

“Oh, my dear Gatekeeper, your time is up. The spotlight no longer favors you. Let the next generation carry the burden,” the masked woman requested, lifting up the leader’s chin with her gloved hand.

“I’m afraid I must decline. You lack the responsibility and willpower. That much I’ve gleaned from your actions,” Tess refused, responding with a piercing stare.

“Your pride will be your downfall, Tess. Just like the rest of your team,” the woman warned, slapping Tess in the face.

Mirei glanced over at her, awaiting orders. The masked woman pulled out a perfume bottle, spraying its contents into the hero’s face. Tess slumped to the ground, knocked unconscious. She distributed her incapacitating agent, instructing them to apply it to all the heroes present within the area.

“Miss Ichizen, a word with you, please?” she called her over.

“Something wrong?” Mirei replied.

“No, I would like to congratulate you once more. You and your team have far exceeded any expectations I set for my prototypes. I must thank you for that,” she revealed, giving Mirei a sudden hug.

Mirei nodded, taken aback by the woman’s gesture. She never sought validation for completing the assigned task. The only driving factor really was her brother, but even that wasn’t really the truth either.

“No one touches Tomo Yuki. I will handle her myself,” the masked woman ordered.

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Ichizen’s sister ascended to the broadcast booth, desiring a higher vantage point. She observed her allies dragging the knocked-out heroes onto the battlefield. The woman then noticed someone missing. All the heroes were accounted for, but where was Kaisi Konoe? Mirei returned to the base level, calling over one of her accomplices.

“Where’s Felicity?” Mirei questioned.

“Oh, you’re right! She wasn’t here when we began our attack,” her subordinate answered, surveying the room.

“Don’t worry about Miss Kaisi. She’s just a citizen, no involvement with the inner workings of the heroes,” the masked woman revealed, overhearing Mirei’s concern.

“What’s next?” Mirei asked.

“You’ll track down the heroes not part of our little party. Rough them up, but not too much. We want them to know we’re serious,” she commanded.

Mirei sent two of her associates to carry out the mission. She and one other ally remained behind, monitoring the situation here. The masked woman departed, leaving them to handle any potential issues.

“Do you think we can just take it easy now?” Mirei’s ally questioned, sitting down in the bleacher seats.

“No, if she’s right, then we’re going to have to take care of some people coming soon,” Mirei replied, adjusting her mask.

The SIU captain, along with two of his officers, burst into the training facility from the supply closet. Former Princess Fei joined them, exiting from a ceiling portal. She grappled Mirei’s associate, tossing 
her to the ground, rendering her unconscious. The woman snapped her fingers, plunging the area into darkness.

“Give me warning when you do that,” the SIU captain complained into his earpiece.

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His vision returned after one minute. Both of his allies were unconscious on the ground. This was expected, especially after the analysis results from his last encounter with the masked woman. Mirei’s butterfly mask glowed blue, resulting in an azure spectral knight appearing behind her.

“You take care of her,” Fei directed, battling the knight.

Ichizen’s sister hurled a glass bottle at the man, detonating it in the air. Smoke drifted out, resulting in a nauseous smell. The SIU captain didn’t fall for the same trick again, already donning a gas mask. He unhooked a miniature grenade from his belt, tossing it onto the ground. It rolled towards Mirei and exploded, generating an anti-magic field.
Fei’s right fist glowed, and she punched the knight’s chest. Her opponent glanced downward as a crack appeared in its armor. The woman followed up with a hard kick, shattering the chest piece, revealing a glowing orb.

Mirei placed her left hand on the ground, trying to dispel the field. She was confident it would vanish, but it remained active. The SIU captain dashed in with his hunter’s knife, aiming for the woman’s mask. Ichizen’s sister dodged and reached for his neck. He swung his elbow backward, knocking her hand away. He spun around, targeting her mask again. The man missed but cut a strand of her hair instead.

“So annoying,” she commented.

Flames enveloped the azure knight and Fei retreated. Her enemy swung its blade downward, generating magical waves. She leaped into the air, avoiding the attack. Beams of light struck the knight’s helmet, removing the dangerous flames around its head. The woman slammed her left palm into its visor, breaking it off. The knight stumbled, plunging its sword into the ground to prevent a bad fall. Fei broke the blade with a kick, and punched her foe’s helmet, sending its head flying off. She snapped her fingers again, and three beams of light streamed downward, trapping the knight.

“Didn’t think you put up so much of a fight. Time to leave. I’ve stalled long enough,” Mirei announced, finally destroying the anti-magic field.

She pinned the SIU captain to the ground as a magical circle formed underneath him. He was powerless, no tools in his arsenal capable of allowing him to escape. Mirei then turned her attention to Fei. 
A binding circle developed underneath the former princess’ feet. She stomped on the ground, halting its progress, and destroyed it. An outline of a giant blue butterfly appeared behind Mirei. She, along with her associate, disintegrated into blue particles of light. Fei rushed over but the knight, returned to its pre-battle form, blocked her. It vanished five seconds later.

“Tess, you’re lucky I was available to answer your SOS call. Although, you were worried about something like this last time we spoke,” Fei said, waking the Gatekeeper.

The SIU captain joined them, swapping information. To incapacitate all the heroes, even Tess and Lilith, they were powerful. However, he suspected it was only possible because of those strange occurrences involving masks near the outskirts. The man still wasn’t clear on their motives. Targeting Tess meant it extended far beyond just the Crossroads now. It could develop into a potential interdimensional crisis.

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